galatea

Our housewarming party is tomorrow. I’m not sure I’m ready for the hubbub of lots of company – but I’m looking forward to seeing many many of my friends.
Galatea 2.2 is really, really wonderful. Shawn warned me that it would get under my skin, that it would get in my bones. I wasn’t sure what he meant at first – and then I started really reading. Some of it sounds so much like me – like my writing style – like the way I think – that I feel like I’ve been enveloped by the story, by the ideas. It’s strange to feel totally a part of yet detached from a story. I want to put everything on hold until I can finish; unfortunately that’s not an option.
A fortune: “Art is the accomplice of love.”
Five questions for Newman, who is as I type this on her way to mi casa:
1. What’s the difference between ‘theater’ and ‘theatre’?
2. Write a haiku about Tom Jones.
3. What’s your favorite memory of me?
4. Why do you act?
5. What do you want out of life?

An interview from Mary J. I’m an interview whore:
1. What is one thing you really, really wanted for bday/xmas that you never received?
I really, really wanted an American Girl doll but always thought they were too expensive, so I never asked for one. Yeah, I got over that.
2. If you had a vegetable garden, what would you plant and why?
I would like to plant tomatoes and peppers and lettuce and lots and lots of other things. Oh yeah, and garlic. Lots of garlic. I would really like to be much more self-sufficient, grocery-wise, than I am right now.
3. What teacher (from kindergarten – college) had the biggest impact on you?
Can I pick two? three? In high school, probably Mr. Rooney, my senior English teacher. He was one of the first teachers I had that really treated me like an equal – other teachers were my friend, but I felt like Mr. Rooney respected me as a peer as well as a student. I wonder whatever happened to him. Some of my fellow students suspected he was in the witness protection program. Maybe that’s true. In college, my biggest influence was Mr. Glass. There were several other teachers with whom I really connected – specifically Alan Hurst at Regents and Colleen Page at RC – but Mr. Glass has proved much more of a lasting influence.
4. Of all the people you’ve lost touch with over the years, who do you think about the most?
I’ve lost touch, in varying degrees, with a lot of people that I miss. I don’t have any major regrets in this matter – the people I’ve lost touch with have generally given up on their end of keeping in touch – or have drifted so far away and have changed so much that we have nothing in common. I suppose I miss Anne the most – we worked together long enough to cultivate a very interesting and challenging friendship, a friendship that I think could’ve been more were the circumstances different. She moved out to the west coast with her girlfriend to go to school – I hear from her on occasion. I wish she was still in my life cos I felt like she only brought good things.
5. What is the tallest building you’ve been in? What was the highest floor you went to?
I’ve been to the highest observation deck at the CN Tower in Toronto. I was scared to death and nearly threw up. Good times.
Aight. Back to work.

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community

You know, I really think communal living is the way to go. Matt suggested that last night – we both achingly feel the distance separating us from the Champaign kids – he suggested that the bunch of us should all live together somewhere and open a school and teach all the wonderful and obscure things that we know. And really, that sounds pretty ideal, doesn’t it?

how to get a job in your field

Hey, remember when I said I wasn’t going to blog for a while? Yeah, that was funny.
Kate has decided that we need to teach “how to get a job in your field” courses cos really, that’s much more practical than a lot of the stuff you take at college. I thought the fact that neither of us have jobs in our field might be a problem, but Kate doesn’t think so. I’m going to trust her on this one.
20 minutes til I can get out of this basement. Came to the realization that I live an almost entirely subterranean life. That sucks. I work in a basement, escape outdoors for a little bit, then go home and spend most evenings in the basement with N. Hmm, no wonder I’m depressed. My body is probably screaming for sunlight! Perhaps I will have to remedy that with some quality porch sitting tonight.
Going to the library to pick up Galatea 2.2 cos I’m wicked in love with Richard Powers. Oh yeah, and just what I need is more reading material. I am brazenly disregarding my ban on the library. I don’t care. I will make time.

nightfall

I guess I just don’t have much to say tonight. I’m tired – tired of feeling broken, tired of these ups and downs. I just want to feel whole. Two days ago I felt like an entirely new person – and I know I am – but not sleeping and not having an appetite and not being used to the work schedule tend to overshadow those things that I’ve gained. This last month – oh Lord, it’s been hard – but I can say, even in this vale of tears, that it is worth it. Lord, is it worth it. That isn’t to say that there aren’t days when I struggle – when I ache and cry and feel like, well, like I felt today – but I know this is right, all of it, what I’m becoming. These are the growing pains we’re always told about – the shuddering as I cast off the old skin.
Read a short story by Richard Powers (courtesy of Shawn) that totally blew my mind – especially these lines:

“The hardest of the year’s unpredictable plots was still to come. Nothing we ever tell ourselves about the future prepares us for it. … There are two ways of reading our digital fate, the same two ways of reading any fiction. Either we’ll explain ourselves away as mere mechanism, or we’ll elevate mechanism to the level of miracle. Either way, the greatest worth of our machines will be to show us the staggering breadth of the simplest human thought and to reawaken us to the irreducible heft, weight, and texture of the entrapping world.”

Took my breath away. I’ve heard the rest of his fiction is equally as intoxicating and challenging. I might have to check it out.
Talked to Sarah for an hour or so tonight – wonderful and refreshing. I feel like – know – I can tell her anything – anything at all – and she’ll love me and give me her honest answer, even if she is at work. I’m so, so grateful to have her in my life. I would NOT have survived the last couple of weeks without her.
In fact, at this point let me give a “shout out” to all the kids in Champaign (and elsewhere) that took care of me – Sarah, Hannah, Amity, Shawn, Dan, Matt, and Lucky – back home Jen, Nate, Dan, Scandalous Pants, Eva, and of course my Mom – and so many others, far away but sending love and encouragement. I love you all.

i don’t know

I’m – I’m a little fucked up today. Another night of lousy sleep – up sick and nearly crying in the middle of the night – made for a bluesy sort of morning. I need to snap out of it but somehow don’t know how to do it. Right now I want to have something I can lose myself in – a book, a movie, an activity of some sort – to take the focus off the aching inside. I’m trying not to be overly morose here – I don’t want to lose readers, after all – but some days I just can’t fight it.
Started Gilgamesh this morning – not sure how I missed that one in my academic reading. Again, it’s becoming increasingly evident how much I haven’t read. I haven’t made it to the text of the poems yet, but the introduction is really interesting. I guess I’m a little history/archaeology buff at heart. A prof at RC used to call me a “reluctant medievalist.” All this reading just feeds the fire of my desire to go back to school. That was a really bad rhyme. I’m sorry.
Now for something more fun….The Interview Game!
THE RULES
1. Leave a comment, saying you want to be interviewed.
2. I will respond; I’ll ask you five questions.
3. You’ll update your website with your five answers.
4. You’ll include this explanation.
5. You’ll in turn ask other people five questions when they want to be interviewed.

Marie was my interviewer – I’ll take a handful of interviewees. Just leave a comment, then check back in a day or two for questions.
1. Where were you born?
Marshfield, Wisconsin, US of A
2. Are you a morning person or a night owl? Does it cause any problems?
I used to be a night owl while I was in school; however now that I’m in the “real world,” I’m a morning person. That works out really well, except when I’m hungover or wanting to sleep in on the weekends.
3. How do you sleep? On your back, stomach, or side?
I sleep primarily on my side.
4. What is your favorite season? Spring, Summer, Autumn, Winter? Explain why.
I love the in between times – spring and autumn, though autumn is definitely my favorite. I love the cool air, the falling leaves, the fall food. Autumn is one of the big big reasons I love living in the Midwest.
5. If you could change something about yourself what would it be?
It’s a little dangerous to ask me that question right now – so I’m going to give a superficial answer and hope that suffices. I wish I could just be happy.
PS Shawn, thanks for the advice on kicking Photoshop. Somehow I don’t think that’ll be very good for the CD.
PPS My friend Adrienne has started a blog. Check it out!
PPPS Writing all these PSes reminds me of junior high. Not sure why that is.

the philosophy of e

Some things crystallized while talking to Sarah this morning – what I’d like to call “The Philosophy of E.” I’ve spent a lot of time thinking these days – these two weeks off work – all the hours of the sleepless nights, the time spent alone, the time spending in longing and reading and inquiry. I guess my worldview at this point boils down to two basic tenets:
1. We’re here for such a brief time – our lives are so tenuous – why the fuck not do the things that bring joy?
2. No matter the decisions you make, no matter the course your life takes, that is the way it was meant to be and it couldn’t be any other way.
The first one is pretty self explanatory – our lives are so short; why waste time doing things that don’t make you happy? Or that don’t keep you happy? Obviously we all have to do things that suck – bills have to be paid, toilets have to be cleaned – but those are necessary evils on the path to what brings joy, what brings meaning. The second is a bit more complicated.
I guess what I’m trying to say is that I believe in both predestination and free will. I believe – I know – that the choices we make in life determine who we are. I also know that who we are is determined by all sorts of factors we can’t control – our parents, our upbringing, our fragile bodies, our “natural selection” or predilections. And if the last two weeks have taught me anything, it’s that worrying about how life might be different had certain choices been different is a futile thing. It will drive you mad. Things are the way they are for a reason. I firmly believe that. The choices we make might not make sense – they might be difficult and intensely painful – but they are made for a reason. I don’t know what that reason is – I think we don’t know a lot of the time, which is why life is so precious, so enigmatic, so full of doubt and questioning and joy.

We are here – in life, on this Earth – for a reason – for some brief, undetermined amount of time – and then we’re gone. I don’t know why we’re here. I don’t know the meaning or the measure of my life. All I know is that I want my life to have meaning. I want joy. I want peace. I want the peaks of ecstasy and the depths of despair – and have had both in these two weeks. I want life at its fullest, its richest, its most powerful. And I know – in my heart, in my soul, in the fundamental parts of me that I can trust beyond my reason or my intellect – that I will have these things, that I am in the process of having these things. And it can’t be any different. I may not understand the path I have chosen – but I know it is the only place I could be. And if things are meant to be different, they will be. I have firm confidence in that.
In The Hours, Clarissa relates a story about her youth, how she walked out one day and thought “This is the beginning of happiness.” In her middle age, relating the story to her daughter, she realized that it wasn’t the beginning of happiness, it was happiness. I think that is at the heart of what I’m thinking and feeling and trying to express – that awareness of purpose, of happiness – of celebrating the moment without over-thinking or worrying about how it could or might or should be different. I think just being is enough.

quiet night

It feels like rain. Perhaps it’s just the change from the hot-hot of afternoon – but I’m sitting at my desk in the darkness, the breeze surrounding me, and it just feels right. It feels right to be alone on a Saturday night in front of my computer, an empty glass of iced tea next to me, thinking about books and friends and sleep. I have to be doing better if I can say these things.

Spent some time this evening thinking about my body – how sometimes I feel a part of it, sometimes I feel more than it, sometimes I feel like I’m something totally separate. There are days when my lips feel fuller, when my hips seem to swing a bit more, when every step I take feels a little like dancing, when I feel like every eye in the room is on me. I was at the grocery one evening after work and saw an undeniably beautiful woman in a green gingham sundress reaching for something on a top shelf, her short skirt lifting a bit, the muscles in her tan and fit legs rising as her body extended. This was the first time I saw a man literally do a double-take, that body’s moving but the head’s staying in the same place thing that you see in the movies and on bad sitcoms. You couldn’t keep your eyes off of her. I don’t know if she was aware of her own beauty, aware of the way she transfixed the dairy section of Logli’s on a weeknight – but it was incredible to behold. I don’t know why I’m telling that story – it just sort of occured to me. I guess tonight’s just one of those nights where despite my exhaustion the fire seems to be burning brighter in my eyes – things seem warmer, softer, more luxuriant. I feel it in the way my hair falls against my face, the way my skin pricked in the almost too cold shower this afternoon, the way I was so conscious of my mouth moving while I sung along with the radio on the way home. Tonight I feel like more – and not in a sexual way at all – just in an exulting in the ecstasies of being sort of way.

I finished Hey, Nostradamus! tonight at Chuck’s house – it was more than I thought, and less. These days my life seems full of such contradictions. It is about loss and faith – and the things we do to feel whole again. It is about believing – in God, in love, in some other person – because you can’t not, even when all signs are to the contrary. I think I’ll wait to reread it, as I’ve done with Coupland’s last few books. Shawn is reading Microserfs right now, which makes me really happy. I’m glad that book has aged with me – somehow its simplicity speaks to me so fundamentally – and in different ways with each rereading. That’s the sign of successful fiction.

I want sleep but I’m craving this solitude as well, not wanting to squander it. N’s at Chuck’s watching the game – I wanted to stay, felt bad leaving, but knew I was only going to fall asleep. So I came home. My plans for the rest of the evening? I’ve already called Sarah and Shawn – I checked my email – that leaves reading and ice cream and sleep. Good night, friends.