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
Saturday, January 31, 2009
- iphone 3G (starts at $199)
- typewriter ($75-100) -- really not a bad investment, but this would really be for bragging rights more than practical purposes.
- kindle 2.0 ($359)
now i will just drool till i save enough $$
Tuesday, January 27, 2009
accents and attractions
last week i read in the new yorker about how hannah arendt was heidegger's lover, heidegger, the embodiment of male, german reason, married, contemptuous of arendt, jewish, sensitive, vulnerable, half his age. my professor, the same professor for a couple of semesters now, is socially awkward and inadvertently flirty. (he used to be married, but is single now.) he introduced me to everything i truly love now--renaissance drama and theory. i used to fantasise about about him in my first semester, the same way i would fantasise about sleeping with a news photographer, when i interned in the newsroom. i think it's something i do, because i'm intrigued by creative or intellectual people whose jobs i don't understand, or seem too difficult for me, or beyond my years. this not knowing, this knowing that the other person knows more than me, this defining people by what they do, this knowing that i am young, much younger, gives me a huge sense of helplessness and pleasure. it's a terrible habit, because this means i enjoy exoticizing people. i remember the halloween party that a graduate friend--fernando, who is peruvian, 40-something--invited me to. i learnt for the first time that graduate party crowds are more eclectic, and international, it's a lot of fun. what is drunk is usually beer, not liquor. a lot of the talk that night was shouting over (super old-school) music with a whole lot of latin-american people about where we were from, and it was cool to not be american, to speak in an accent, any accent.
when the professor took a semester off for a brain operation, i finally got to think about just thinking for myself. i took an american lit course, i took a milton course, taking a break from renaissance drama, and discovering that his approach isn't the authoritative approach. i am back in a seminar with him again--it's a graduate seminar with seven guys, with the inadvertently flirty professor, and i am the only undergraduate, and female, and asian, and non-american. i am more self-assured; but this is not to say that first five minutes, i wasn't blushing a lot--old habits. sometimes we are attracted to people for the worst reasons, really. a lot of the (intellectual) pleasure of slowly falling in love was about understanding what justin did when he was working in the neuroscience lab, even if it meant long, nightly conversations about caged animals, and donated brains, biowaste, and new york city in the spring. i don't thinking learning can ever be, for me, disassociated from desire and transgression. but i think i have learnt, that not all learning, the most revolutionary or subversive of learning, has to scar.
Thursday, January 22, 2009
i got an on-campus job--production assistant at the college daily. its a daily that brings in quite a bit of revenue, and is thus independent from cornell. it pays (well) and it teaches me how to use quark express and the entire adobe package, and involves me staying at the newsroom from 6pm-3am once a week. we lay out the flats (industry word for the pages, meaning two sides of a tabloid spread), choose the comics, suduko, classifieds, and repair any emergencies. i wanted to go back to the newsroom to be able land some arts writing gigs in ithaca. who would have guessed.
Tuesday, January 20, 2009
as it gets deeper and deeper into the heart of winter, something grows inside of me. like there is this life inside of me that is going to burst, because there is way too much hope in me. after writing about the mein kampf copyright controversies and self-narrativizing--everyone does it to some degree or the other, so don't give me crap--("in my country, we ____ [invents the most outrageous thing, or frames it in the most outrageous way]") , i finally got into the super-exclusive, superhard, media law class--so i am going to be studying american copyright law and first amendment stuff beside pre-laws and grads. today at the first american lit class, we were asked what did we thought our ancestors thought when they came to america. there're 5 students in this class, which is going to make it probably a frightfully intimate experience, and people are already talking about their lesbian partners on the first day of class. so i said, i have no immigrating family members, i said, obviously, but strangely my boyfriend's father, who is from burma, only started telling him about why he came, and how he came, when i entered the picture. and i told them about funny pamphlets distributed by my school's international students' office, among them is, "what is a U.S. American?" which my room mate and i had a ball pouring over. i found a contact who does arts editing for our college newspaper, and he said, if i had a story, tell him. i am going to spend some part of this weekend writing my review of cynthia ozick. today was inauguration day. i get teary when i see old black women crying, you know? even though the more cynical part of me snorts, idiots! he's not black, he's not really african-american, he's--and unfortunately, the facts lack all lyricism--biracial. i'm also taking a class called history of the book--we study, touch, the materiality of old manuscripts, memorize different parts of a book, and its taught by the curator of the rare book library, which houses, among other things, a copy of the gettysburg address and original manuscripts of e.b. white's charlotte's web. and i am also doing a seminar of hamlet through the theory of bloom, derrida, and de grazia. too much hope in me, i could burst.
Monday, January 12, 2009
94 dean drive, tenafly
these two weeks, his dad has been slowly moving out of tenafly, putting 20 years of life and marriage and fatherhood away in boxes, closing the deal and trying to work out the divorce. it's like inducing a sure, but steady atrophy of one's life. i remember the night the boys finally got to meet up--chris, the marine, had flown in from florida; gershon was home from penn state; terry and yim drove in from the city to tenafly; the two justins were back in tenafly for christmas. at triple a, the godawful korean bar, everyone was making both of us drink shots and margaritas, and beers, and shots, and justin got completely and stupidly drunk, passed out on the couch while the boys planted post-its all over his butt and face. i had a little some to drink, but i usually i don't go crazy, so i was printing out flight schedules for the singapore trip, sitting in another room listening to his dad talk about the divorce. let's go, he said. now? i said, yes, now. so me and his dad, we drove me to cvs to get my mom earplugs at 2 in the morning, even though his dad had to wake up at 5 to send us to the airport and later go to work.
driving half-drunk through tenafly at 2am with my boyfriend's father, listening while stanley talks about the places where he'd wait for his wife, the bookstores he went to, what justin was like as a kid. "what was justin like as a kid?" i ask. "smart, full of questions, but--" "always distracted," i complete the sentence for him. "i don't understand why he is so distracted sometimes," i say. "he's like that," stanley says.
when justin and i got back from singapore, stanley was still moving stuff around the house. "i have a secret," he said to me the morning after we arrive, "i'll show you in the basement." so i followed, and watched him open a plastic bag next to the laundry. it was full of milk bottles, there must have been 20 of them. "you can't throw this stuff," he says, "it's our secret," he said. a bit like the time he spooned bonito flakes into his potato dish although justin doesn't like it that way. "our secret," he also had said then.
the weekend we got back from singapore, when the house had been turned inside out like an old rag. his dad asked me to ask the son to pack, because he'd given up asking. justin poked around his room, kept some dinosaur things and pogs. "this is too much," he said, "i wasn't prepared to do this." after tofu soup at the corner korean restaurant in fort lee, his dad drove us to penn station. he thought justin would be taking the amtrak back to baltimore, but justin wound up staying an extra night in brooklyn with me. that was the night we both fell asleep in the car while his dad drove, talking about i-ching philosophy. "what was i saying," he said, "something about i-ching," justin mumbled. "no that wasn't what i was talking about," he said, and then the car became silent.
tonight he called me, hysterical and incoherent, about justin's stuff, about how michelle was calling in all these chinatown movers to systematically throw everything into garbage bags, about how we had to move my car soon from the garage, and then he said could he hang up please because michelle was calling. at little india in singapore, i picked out bundle of gold and blue bangles for her as a gift from justin. when i got off the phone, i called justin, and blabbered out the whole secret of the milkbottles. and then i told justin to get gerschon to collect all of justin's stuff and put it in his house for safekeeping. i told him to get well soon, and study for the exam, that we'd be in the house on wednesday to take the stuff for the both of them. "i love you," he said, "i'm taking the panadol you gave me." "i love you," i said, "be nice to your dad."
on monday, all of florence's gifts and things--books, a ship made of paper, "that woman who gave it to her, she smoked all the time and was the one who asked her to divorce me" he told me--were left in the garage for her to come to collect. on wednesday, all of justin's things will be in gershon's house. on thursday the house will be emptied, incapable of any more tears, ready once more for other lives.
Tuesday, January 06, 2009
the wages of dying is love
the whole point of a subsidiary rights department is to advertise and sell, what is essentially, a construct--the right to rework a piece. it is almost like making money out of nothing, which reminds me of the idea of the hedge fund. today i wrote a pitch letter advertising the right to serialise a book--pitch writing will probably constitute most of these two weeks, but the notion of selling a right (what is a right anyway?) will remain deeply ambiguous for me.
the cat here misses kerry, the renter, very much. in the middle of the night, she starts clawing at the door, making me or chris (the other renter) open it for her. when we open the door, she looks outside, sees nothing, and walks away. when we close it, she falls into the same funk, clawing at the door, and asking for it to be opened again. she sleeps on my (kerry's) bed all the time, and enthusiastically receives me, rubbing herself all over me. perhaps she is trying to believe that i am kerry.
today justin sent me an email. it was very out of the blue, very uncharacteristic of him. he wrote:
Do you remember when you said something to me about not wanting me to die before you, so you could always have me around, or something like that? I know this is a bit morbid, but I just got this weird fear while looking at some pictures, like what if you were no longer around, and I could only view you in retrospect, only in pictures? It scared me a bit, because we have so many things to do together before I ever want to let things get to that.
i sent him a text, i said
the solution is clear. at 90, we need to od on e and weed.
he burst out laughing, on the phone, adding that by then, he would have accumulated enough contacts and credentials to make sure we would not be foiled.
i came to the conclusion that anxieties about death are really only anxieties of agnostics. i consider being anxious about death a good thing. this anxiety is partly a recognition that nothing exists after this life. and this frees us from the burden of trying to live this life to fulfill another.
on the train back today, i remembered the boy who was so adamant about being a good christian, till he was unable read with pleasure, casting books into categories of good books/bad books. he called the bad books, "postmodernist," something which was especially irritating for me at that time, because i was just starting to slowly love the grumpiness of derrida. i felt sorry that because of that insistence on shelving books, he would probably never understand a lot of things, and if he finally did, it would be too late, as our disastrous relationship ultimately proved. i also felt sorry for him for being so insistent on living right (vague as that was, to him) that he was unable to grasp the idea of forgiveness. he was unable to forgive other people, and unable to forgive himself. i think forgiveness is an attempt at rewriting the actions of the past, smoothing away hatred and turning it into gentleness. but rewriting is always the affirmation of the trace of what was written. the paradox of forgiveness is that it solidifies the past in writing.
Monday, January 05, 2009
it's cold in my room, but next to me on the bed, there's an old grey cat, purring and sleeping at the same time, with paws over her face to keep out the light. makes me feel fuzzy just watching jimmy. i'm in brooklyn now, carroll gardens, after the first day of work. learnt about the language of subsidiary rights contracts, and am possibly pitching the children's books to international agencies over the next brief, but hopefully full, 2 weeks. i also have a bottle of pineapple tarts beside me, from glory in katong, when i went back last week to singapore with justin. it was lovely, we danced to live music at chinaone (mr brightside, and sweet child of mine, and viva la vida, and all those great awesome songs to dance to, and we clubbed in sloppy t-shirts and shorts, cos the bouncer was awesome), me and my sister forced him on stage with the goodfellas at timbre to sing chasing cars (which he sang while, embarrassingly, forgetting the lyrics), we walked around geylang's back streets together with wilson (and it was lovely seeing wilson again), i got a whole stash of baked products from nurul's mom (aunty zarina) and then we proceeded to tell the boys about the merlion, j and my sis also got to see the new books actually which is absolutely lovely, full of interesting corners and an exhibit with furry, stuffed cloth tear drops and poems by people like cyril wong embroidered on them! and my parents forced him to eat durian, he and my dad sat outside smoking cubans and drinking beers. and new years was a ball with me and my sister and jay dancing hawaiian dance. i got to see my grandmother, and auntie caroline, and drink shots with my sister (she asked me if she could have my ic, i told her, maybe after o levels, but we'll see). and now i'm back, after he took the amtrak back to baltimore, but hopefully we'll see each other again in 2-3 weeks, and in the meantime i have a cat to warm the bed for me and a mound of new books to read from the office!
[me] dawn, singapore, new york city, ithaca.
holding on tight -- vol ii
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