HE SAID, MARIE, MARIE, HOLD ON TIGHT
~ The Waste Land, "The Burial of The Dead", Eliot
~ The Waste Land, "The Burial of The Dead", Eliot
Monday, May 26, 2008
i am back in nyc. this moving around is crazy. i am leaving the lower east side and moving into my permanent home in harlem this week. i drive around jersey in his car in search of the best soondoobu and inoki mushrooms. we read and fall asleep on the grass, davis johnson park, tenafly, beautiful day. he drove me home tonight, and we passed the george washington bridge into a road over the harlem river, never saw new york city so beautiful. for no reason, i tell him, remember tonight. after work tomorrow, i want to find a chapel where i can pray for my grandfather.
Sunday, May 25, 2008
i am in jersey now. he drove us up from ithaca. the day was a lot of sun. i peeled oranges over the highways, and passed them to him on the road. yesterday i wondered where those letters that my grandfather wrote me went to. i am afraid i have already begun to forget. in my forgetfulness, i am unable to feel the grief i need to feel. we clear out the last of my room at wait terrace. he packs my books for me into a box. it's like putting my life in another's hands. if i return to it, will i be able to find anything at all, on my own? i open a shoe box, there is a silver ring, remnants of the previous relationship, but mostly letters from him, things of the present. where did the rest of my years go? you lose a lot of things on the move, i told him, and i've moved so many times. his breathing keeps me up at night, and the dogs howling in the night. i sleep a little on the i-80, i wake up and he's singing to the beatles. all chipper now? he asks, gonna be the poster girl for catnaps?
Thursday, May 22, 2008
running with donald
i'm settled into the city now, living on the east side by the river in stuyvesant town. stuyvesant town is one of new york city's gems, one of the most iconic and successful of post-war private housing communities in nyc. i live with a 60-year-old artist called donald. he used to be a franciscan monk, before he became a guidance councillor. now he writes poetry and novels between 7pm and 4am in the morning. justin cooked dinner for me last night. then, i cook for us--grape crumble and ice cream; peanut butter and cranberry cake. donald keeps me awake by talking to me at 1am when i scoot into a kitchen filled with magazines, books and artwork to do my dishes, and before i realise it, its 3.15, and i still haven't done the dishes and i've gotta work tomorrow. justin takes over, and talks to donald and makes excuses for why i can't talk, and the two of them talk about neuroscience the rest of the night. i've started work at the publishing firm, it's tedious work, being pushed between 4 bosses, i also will have to get myself familiar with all the magazines here, but it's one of the most amazing things ever, to be working on union square, pouring through a travel novel that i might be helping to publicise, lunch hour in greenwich village, conference calls with boston. i will be starting work at the literary agency tomorrow, juggling two unpaid jobs. in two weeks i move into harlem, with denise, who has a collapsed trachea, and owns a dog hotel. my grandfather passed away last night at 12.02pm, after having held on for a couple of days after his body failed, and after being on morphine for about a week, i think. stubborn till the end, my father says, my father sounds tired over the phone, drained, i can't talk to you now, he says, i'm talking to the undertakers, and he hangs up, leaving me in the dark for a while, and i suddenly feel far away from home. later he calls again, my father tells me, he had been waiting for my grandmother's ashes to be shifted to the st. mary of the angels columbarium from mount vernon, because he only finally was willing to sleep, almost immediately after my father received the call confirming that they could be placed side by side. i was close to my grandfather, and i lived with him in the house for most of my life. i am not coming home, because my father wants life to go on. i told justin i couldn't go out with him. i was supposed to go up to his place in jersey, i told him i couldn't. i had to stay in and spend time with donald--donald who reads with a magnifying glass, donald with an apartment full of junk, donald who plays the harmonica, donald who reminds me so like my grandfather--i have to spend time with donald, i blubbered away, i can't hang out with you. it's fine, do what you need to do in your own time, i understand, he said. we finish the last of the crumble with bryers ice cream, and then he tucks me in, and leaves the house. i am exhausted from accumulated exhaustion of driving into the city, packing, walking around, working, bad sleep, calls back and forth between ny and singapore. i pass out the moment i hit the pillow--forgetting to put on earplugs--i got into the habit of wearing earplugs when i spent freshman year in nyu because of the ambulance sirens and stuff like that throughout the night. i wake up with a splitting headache. today i am going jogging with donald by the east river. do you really want to run with me, he asked, eyes shining, hair all white; yes, i would love to. oh, it's a date, he said, it's a date.
Thursday, May 15, 2008
these papers on desire are just, emotionally exhausting.
to write papers on desire, one has to be playful, suggestive, intelligent.
when one's stomach is hurting, hard to be suggestive.
Monday, May 12, 2008
if i had a choice of living in any play, i would want to be in midsummer night's dream. i would want to be hermia, because she says wonderful lines, and that play is the exact model of a state that accommodates desire. (at least that's how i read it, anyway)
love and desire
the problem with the first person you ever loved, and the person you left is that that person will always remain a ghost to haunt, unless you can ever demystify him.
alenka zupancic, whom i'm using to read midsummer's night dream now. it's such a girly paper, god i should print it in pink, and freak philip out--ok it's not completely girly, because it is ultimately about a political state and how it can accommodate desire:
the miracle of love is not that of transforming some banal object into a sublime object, inaccessible to its being--this is the miracle of desire. if we are dealing with an alternation of attraction and repulsion, this can only mean that love as sublimation has not taken place, has not done its work and performed its trick. (175, "addendum," The shortest shadow: Nietzsche's philosophy of the two)
this is what i'm thinking now--very reasoned, lit crit terms. i want you to stop being an object of desire, i want you to stop being sublime and monstrous. the problem is, i left you before you stopped being sublime. i left you the moment you turned monstrous, because of that, i couldn't ever turn desire into love. unfortunately, i only desired you, and i didn't love you. you were too strange to be loved. desire institutes a lack, and an impossibility. you are still that lack and that impossibility. this is where i have to figure things out and turn you around from that sublime figure into the you, of the banality. when i have done that, i can finally live my life in peace again.
Friday, May 09, 2008
gum and media
bloghopped today, stumbled upon an ex's new blog, got hit by an overwhelming sense of ambivalence. and then more, i went to dawn yang's blog, and other old friends' blog, more ambivalence.
i told him, i worry that i'll return to a place that i never knew, a place that is growing increasingly distant and appears monstrous sometimes.
he said something like, you are wonderfully deep and thoughtful. don't worry about it, he said.
how do i explain that my country is probably one of the only countries in the world who would think about putting some blogger through intensive grooming to become an artiste. we were always groomed, that's the word. how overseas scholarships are shaping a certain clique of its own. a poetry scene ridden with its little petty pockets. how size becomes a self-policing mechanism, "it's not about censorship," i told the german studies prof, who teased me about gum and media, "it's just size. it's a neat, inbuilt, self-functioning mechanism, there's not much to say in a small country, so no one wants to burn bridges." and singapore, and temple mediums, all that crazy stuff i've had to live through, i need to figure it all out--that mess of violence, neverending nights that were my jc, and post jc years, and that i've only finally been able to speak out on. each time i speak to him about singapore, it's as though i'm speaking about a different country, all that love and hate in me.
so you really wanna know about singapore? don't give me some half-assed yeah, cos i could speak and speak and speak, because i don't understand it, i really don't. what does it mean to fall in love with someone who is radically different, and ultimately, the same?
most times, i'd rather just listen though. jersey, tenafly: you at the guitar, playing everlong, and even the ukulele, singing will you still love me tomorrow. you, and then certain people,
"and so i ate a 3000 calorie lunch, which is heated in these little packets, packed with fat for the soldiers on the field," "what's the difference between platonic form and substance," "so my father died, i left the town, i left that small town, came to america, and i decided to stay on here for good," "we need to find an american to marry, i swear we do," "so when we went to hawaii when i was 10 and my mum told me i was conceived there, i refused to speak to them all day after that"
"and that thing about love you said last night, when you were half asleep, did you mean it? i just need to know, did you?" sometimes, i speak, but speak silence. we talk, and then, more. i listen until i forget myself, forget how far i've travelled.
(in between books) when i was young, when it was hot, i'd stand in front of the fan, arms outstretched.
stop talking, get ready for the test, ms cho was say, and we'd stop talking, but keep signing to one another (wish you good luck, wish you good luck...)
we'd curtsey to the pianist after ballet class. sometimes the pianist would make mistakes, and we'd stop in between steps, enraged and indignant. we were so young, we didn't have a right to be enraged with anyone, but seemed always to be told what to do. it felt good being able to be indignant.
Wednesday, May 07, 2008
guns and boys
i think im getting tired, i realised i was when i fell asleep middle of the afternoon. justin is in virginia shooting guns at some army base now, attending his marine buddy's graduation, that stupid boy, the silence makes me miss him, but it is good for me. i won't let derrida--and multiple meetings with professors over papers, and trials, and language--make me panic, oh derrida. "you adopted a pre-saussurian linguistic formulation, which is a conceptual stretch," prof g. said, we sat at a bench overlooking the quad under a tree, and he was drinking orange juice, which softened the blow a little bit, "you need to realise that language is a tripartite linguistic structure, referent, signifier, signified." yes, i said, sort of discouraged. i have three papers to write and an exam to take--one of which is a grad style thesis thing. i hope i don't end up crying the end of this week.
in this term, i've managed a breakup, applied for 20 internships, found a new york apartment, found someone, found city internships, worked with grad students, learnt how to drive, found a new off campus house and cool english major roomie to stay in next semester, found a job, worked during school, done language pairing--it's been mad-ass, i just need to finish this term ok, and if i've juggled it thus far, i hope it'll be ok.
on another note, told the agent to refund the ticket. so that's it, won't be coming home till next year, may. god, that's the longest i would have been away from home. 1 and half years, two winters. i wonder if my grandpa will have forgotten me. i almost feel preemptively homesick.
Monday, May 05, 2008
insomnia last night, partly because all night i was dreaming about baroque art, and prof. gilgen appeared in my dreams asking, what's your paper about, after justin called me, what's your paper about, and i panicked at 2am, because he couldn't understand what i was talking about. i love writing about nonsense. i'm writing about the creation of nothing, and the baroque in midsummer's and calderon. the turn is when nonsense turns into something dead political.
if people ask me what's going on, i'd say, i'm making magic.
Saturday, May 03, 2008
i don't mean to be bimbotic or anything, but sabrina and co's handsewn dresses and fashion online business thing is so cool! these are basically friends of friends in singapore doing their thing.
Friday, May 02, 2008
that funny old hurt
today i got an unexpected phonecall. one of those late phonecalls that are months overdue. the expected sorries, the kind of sorry that doesn't do anything, but makes that funny old hurt reappear. there were a lot of silent moments in the conversation. imagine a pinter play, imagine racine's phaedra attempting to speak, and knowing the moment she speaks is the moment that speech cannot conjure presence, and the language she speaks is not the reality she lives in, speech that creates the split in the desiring, longing subject. and he asked, how are you? and then i knew what he wanted to ask, but ultimately didn't ask. i said some, didn't say some. i'm not telling the other person who is starting to inhabit my life about that call, not that i don't have anything to hide, but simply that i want to protect them. and i can deal with it myself, i'm not going to go crying into someone's arms (not that he is vaguely anywhere near, because it would be a 6 hour drive across the country) i am a big girl now. (i did tell my daddy though, he said, that's ok, it's good to just catch up, and be friends, so how is he? he's good, i said, and left it at that.) learning to grow up is learning to be silent, realising that some things don't need to be said ultimately.
Thursday, May 01, 2008
the world is melting
last night, we had wine and sushi with philip over renaissance prospectus presentations. virginia talked about native american languages made out of pure energy. imagine strings, and strings of sentences, made purely out of energy. glaciers that listen, and cease to listen because the ice is melting and the world is turning.
in a way i don't want this term to end, i don't want to leave ithaca and enter the real world in the city, because it's downright mean. i'm also coordinating two different work places. maybe i am crazy. there's only one thing that remains certain of the city, and im glad at least there is one thing.
you are the glacier that listens, even when the world and you would have melted, in a world of pure spirit, there will always be he who listens.
[me] dawn, singapore, new york city, ithaca.
holding on tight -- vol ii
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