24 December 2014

0 in christmas traditions...

there isn't too much you need to know about the first 97 minutes of a very brady christmas. imdb neatly summarizes it as "the entire brady family manages to overcome personal obstacles to spend a happy holiday together." well said.

what you need to know, what i feel it is time for you all to experience is the great climactic scene. and because pictures of people singing are always enjoyable, let's break it down:

mr. brady: here i go ill-advisedly into The Collapsed Structure.

mike roberts (the scrooge of AVBC): oh no!
The Collapsed Structure is collapsing further,
collapsing upon mr. brady,
who only just ill-advisedly entered it.

(when i was a kid The Collapsed Structure
always looked SO scary.
now it looks more like a dumpster upended.)

mrs. brady: yes, i will deign to speak with you, local broadcaster,
since you have conveniently coordinated your
microphone with my ensemble.
alice: i disapprove.

bobby: look at me. i am emoting.
cindy: hey, mom, do you remember that time you were
sick and we thought you wouldn't get your voice back
in time to sing "o come all ye faithful" on christmas eve?

mrs. brady: why yes, yes i do...

dear viewers who may not remember that...

THIS is what it looked like.

[actual AVBC dialog]
cindy: sometimes i wish i still believed in santa claus.

[actual AVBC dialog]
mrs. brady: well, cindy, big girls can have wishes too.

mrs. brady: maybe if i sing, my wish will come true.

cindy: oh, we're going to sing now. ok.

peter: oh, so we're singing.
this is just like that time we sang "sunshine day"
on tv in pastel jumpsuits to win the money to pay for
mom and dad's anniversary present when stupid jan
miscalculated the cost of the engraving.
ps. even though my head is a little square,
aren't i still totally the cutest brady boy?

mrs. brady: yes, we're singing.

grumpy trucker dude behind the bradys:
i do not approve of all this singing.

mr. brady:
what is that sound? why, it's people singing!
wait... it's the entire brady family singing!
why, i think i'll just overcome the personal obstacle of
this here Collapsed Structure so we can spend
a happy holiday together.

bobby: so we're still singing...

bobby: shouldn't he be coming out by now?
alice: i'm a little old for all this singing.
cindy: maybe if i hide behind her,
they won't now i've stopped singing.
mrs. brady: KEEP SINGING!


bobby: DUDE.
alice: seriously. too old for this.
phillip: jan's hair smells so good.
jan: i wish i was marsha.

mr. brady: i'll overcome the personal obstacle of
The Collapsed Structure very slowly so mrs. brady
will have ample time to finish the chorus.
then we can all spend a happy holiday together.

mrs. brady: it's mike! my singing helped him
overcome the personal obstacle of
the Collapsed Structure so now
the entire Brady family can spend
a happy holiday together.
bobby: this is the finest emoting i have ever done onscreen.
jan: stupid marsha.

cindy: i am totally going to cross this line.
bobby: i shall continue emoting.
alice: maybe i shouldn't have worn this housecoat?
mr. brady: i have come out of the Collapsed Structure.
please stop that singing.

mr. brady: and i'm FREE!
now the entire brady family can spend
a happy holiday together!


mr. brady: the entire brady family has managed
to overcome personal obstacles.
let's spend a happy holiday together
and try to ignore the fact that i will die of AIDS in four years.

22 December 2014

0 where were we going?

i wonder if i were to live in america and keep british hours, whether i could be the most prolific writer in the world. the most caffeinated too, likely.

new york and boston and all those archives and all those jackie letters and the white cotton gloves that expanded every time i took them off to type something and were like mickey mouse hands by the end of it all seems rather like a dream sequence now, so quickly did it pass and so virulent has been the cold that came after.

"they" don't tell you when you decide to do a PhD that you will wind up ill every three weeks. seriously. that should come in the orientation packet. and maybe it me, maybe i push too hard. (likely, i push too hard.) but still. it seems i should be hardier.

but then i've been ruthlessly clawing my way into doing something for which i feel constitutionally ill-equipped for four years now, so maybe this is to be expected. maybe writing is that hard. an infection of sorts that leads to infections of other sorts.

garebear is reading my manuscript. the first 150 pages. every time he goes to talk about it, he slaps his hand across his mouth and says he can't talk about it yet. because he wants to see where we are going first.

truth bomb: i do not know where we are going.

which is a half-lie, because i sort of do.

we are going in a circle.

my aim is to write a book without a death.

two GIANT ass claims, one of them deeply faulty, as she's going to have to die in the end to get to me so that i can connect the two ends, but what i mean is a book whose end somehow illuminates its beginning in such a way that, upon finishing, you begin it again.

everyone wants to know where we are going. how does it end?

the answer, if i'm being honest and aspirational and discussing this in terms of an ideal, is the beginning.

i'm pretty sure that if i told them that i'd get eye-rolls, just as i'm pretty sure that if the question "what is your angle?" were met with the honest answer "i am making art out of a life", i'd get eye-rolls and, truth be told, i've not yet got over all those eye-rolls jackie garnered in the beginning, waaaaaaaaay back in 2011, so ain't no way i've got the psychological stamina to fend off additional eye-rolls now.

and so, sassypants, i want to be all like, "read east coker and get back to me."

which, well, since we're here, class:

T. S. Eliot

"East Coker," from *The Four Quartets*


In my beginning is my end. In succession
Houses rise and fall, crumble, are extended,
Are removed, destroyed, restored, or in their place
Is an open field, or a factory, or a by-pass.
Old stone to new building, old timber to new fires,
Old fires to ashes, and ashes to the earth
Which is already flesh, fur, and faeces,
Bone of man and beast, cornstalk and leaf.
Houses live and die: there is a time for building
And a time for living and for generation
And a time for the wind to break the loosened pane
And to shake the wainscot where the field mouse trots
And to shake the tattered arras woven with a silent motto.

  In my beginning is my end.  Now the light falls
Across the open field, leaving the deep lane 
Shuttered with branches, dark in the afternoon,
Where you lean against a bank while a van passes,
And the deep lane insists on the direction 
Into the village, in the electric heat
Hypnotized. In a warm haze the sultry light
Is absorbed, not reflected, by grey stone.
The dahlias sleep in the empty silence.
Wait for the early owl.
                       In that open field
If you do not come too close, if you do not come too close,
On a summer midnight, you can hear the music 
Of the weak pipe and the little drum
And see them dancing around the bonfire
The association of man and woman 
In daunsinge, signifying matrimonie—
A dignified and commodiois sacrament.
Two and two, necessarye coniunction,
Holding eche other by the hand or the arm
Whiche betokeneth concorde. Round and round the fire
Leaping through the flames, or joined in circles,
Rustically solemn or in rustic laughter
Lifting heavy feet in clumsy shoes,
Earth feet, loam feet, lifted in country mirth
Mirth of those long since under earth
Nourishing the corn. Keeping time,
Keeping the rhythm in their dancing
As in their living in the living seasons
The time of the seasons and the constellations
The time of milking and the time of harvest
The time of the coupling of man and woman
And that of beasts.  Feet rising and falling.
Eating and drinking.  Dung and death.
  Dawn points, and another day
Prepares for heat and silence. Out at sea the dawn wind
Wrinkles and slides. I am here
Or there, or elsewhere. In my beginning.


What is the late November doing
With the disturbance of the spring
And creatures of the summer heat,
And snowdrops writhing under feet
And hollyhocks that aim too high
Red into grey and tumble down
Late roses filled with early snow?
Thunder rolled by the rolling stars
Simulates triumphal cars
Deployed in constellated wars
Scorpion fights against the sun
Until the Sun and Moon go down
Comets weep and Leonids fly
Hunt the heavens and the plains
Whirled in a vortex that shall bring
The world to that destructive fire
Which burns before the ice-cap reigns

  That was a way of putting it—not very satisfactory
A periphrastic study in a worn-out poetical fashion,
Leaving one still with the intolerable wrestle 
With words and meanings. The poetry does not matter
It was not (to start again) what one had expected.
What was to be the value of the long looked forward to,
Long hope for calm, the autumnal serenity 
And the wisdom of age? Had they deceived us 
Or deceived themselves, the quiet-voiced elders,
bequeathing us merely a receipt for deceit?
The serenity only a deliberate hebitude,
The wisdom only the knowledge of dead secrets
Useless in the darkness into which they peered
Or from which they turned their eyes. There is, it seems to us,
At best, only a limited value
In the knowledge derived from experience.
The knowledge imposes a pattern, and falsifies,
For the pattern is new in every moment
And every moment is a new and shocking
Valuation of all we have been. We are only undeceived
Of that which, deceiving, could no longer harm.
In the middle, not only in the middle of the way
But all the way, in a dark wood, in a bramble,
On the edge of a grimpen, where is no secure foothold,
And menaced by monsters, fancy lights,
Risking enchantment. Do not let me hear
Of the wisdom of old men, but rather of their folly,
Their fear of fear and frenzy, their fear of possession,
Of belonging to another, or to others, or to God.
The only wisdom we can hope to acquire 
Is the wisdom of humility: humility is endless.

  The houses are all gone under the sea.

  The dancers are all gone under the hill.


O dark dark dark. They all go into the dark,
The vacant interstellar spaces, the vacant into the vacant,
The captains, merchant bankers, eminent men of letters,
The generous patrons of art, the statesmen and the rulers,
Distinguished civil servants, chairmen of many committees,
Industrial lords and petty contractors, all go into the dark,
And dark the Sun and Moon, and the Almanach de Gotha
And the Stock Exchange Gazette, the Directory of Directors,
And cold the sense and lost the motive of action.
And we all go with them, into the silent funeral,
Nobody's funeral, for there is no one to bury.
I said to my soul, be still, and let the dark come upon you
Which shall be the darkness of God. As, in a theatre, 
The lights are extinguished, for the scene to be changed
With a hollow rumble of wings, with a movement of darkness on darkness,
And we know that the hills and the trees, the distant panorama
And the bold imposing facade are all being rolled away—
Or as, when an underground train, in the tube, stops too long between stations
And the conversation rises and slowly fades into silence
And you see behind every face the mental emptiness deepen
Leaving only the growing terror of nothing to think about;
Or when, under ether, the mind is conscious but conscious of nothing—
I said to my soul, be still, and wait without hope
For hope would be hope for the wrong thing; wait without love
For love would be love of the wrong thing; there is yet faith
But the faith and the love and the hope are all in the waiting.
Wait without thought, for you are not ready for thought:
So the darkness shall be the light, and the stillness the dancing.
Whisper of running streams, and winter lightning.
The wild thyme unseen and the wild strawberry,
The laughter in the garden, echoed ecstasy
Not lost, but requiring, pointing to the agony 
Of death and birth.

                         You say I am repeating
Something I have said before. I shall say it again,
Shall I say it again? In order to arrive there,
To arrive where you are, to get from where you are not,
  You must go by a way wherein there is no ecstasy.
In order to arrive at what you do not know
  You must go by a way which is the way of ignorance.
In order to possess what you do not possess
  You must go by the way of dispossession.
In order to arrive at what you are not
  You must go through the way in which you are not.
And what you do not know is the only thing you know
And what you own is what you do not own
And where you are is where you are not.


The wounded surgeon plies the steel
That questions the distempered part;
Beneath the bleeding hands we feel
The sharp compassion of the healer's art
Resolving the enigma of the fever chart.

  Our only health is the disease
If we obey the dying nurse
Whose constant care is not to please
But to remind of our, and Adam's curse,
And that, to be restored, our sickness must grow worse.

  The whole earth is our hospital
Endowed by the ruined millionaire,
Wherein, if we do well, we shall
Die of the absolute paternal care
That will not leave us, but prevents us everywhere.

  The chill ascends from feet to knees,
The fever sings in mental wires.
If to be warmed, then I must freeze
And quake in frigid purgatorial fires
Of which the flame is roses, and the smoke is briars.

  The dripping blood our only drink,
The bloody flesh our only food:
In spite of which we like to think
That we are sound, substantial flesh and blood—
Again, in spite of that, we call this Friday good.


So here I am, in the middle way, having had twenty years—
Twenty years largely wasted, the years of l'entre deux guerres
Trying to learn to use words, and every attempt 
Is a wholly new start, and a different kind of failure
Because one has only learnt to get the better of words
For the thing one no longer has to say, or the way in which
One is no longer disposed to say it. And so each venture
Is a new beginning, a raid on the inarticulate
With shabby equipment always deteriorating
In the general mess of imprecision of feeling,
Undisciplined squads of emotion. And what there is to conquer
By strength and submission, has already been discovered
Once or twice, or several times, by men whom one cannot hope
To emulate—but there is no competition—
There is only the fight to recover what has been lost
And found and lost again and again: and now, under conditions
That seem unpropitious. But perhaps neither gain nor loss.
For us, there is only the trying. The rest is not our business.

  Home is where one starts from. As we grow older
The world becomes stranger, the pattern more complicated
Of dead and living. Not the intense moment 
Isolated, with no before and after,
But a lifetime burning in every moment
And not the lifetime of one man only
But of old stones that cannot be deciphered.
There is a time for the evening under starlight,
A time for the evening under lamplight
(The evening with the photograph album).
Love is most nearly itself
When here and now cease to matter.

Old men ought to be explorers
Here and there does not matter
We must be still and still moving
Into another intensity
For a further union, a deeper communion
Through the dark cold and empty desolation,
The wave cry, the wind cry, the vast waters
Of the petrel and the porpoise. In my end is my beginning.

11 December 2014

0 so clearly it is a finding jackie week

the way we write obituaries is wrong (and that matters)

i’ve written about this before. about how the way we write the obituaries of women is infuriating. by which i mean not just the fact that so few of them are written.

leonardo dicaprio + 1 club + 20 women

HOLY MOSES, ya’ll, it is like the gossip week that keeps on giving. the sony emails, which i’mma leave you on your own with for now, and then this crazy story about leonardo dicaprio leaving a club with twenty women.

10 December 2014

0 FJ: will and kate in america

and to avoid doing what i so often criticize the daily mail for doing, imma tell you right up front which of The Things it is:
*will and kate
*beyonce and jay-z
*hillary and obama
*eric garner and michael brown
23E4B38800000578-2866141-image-m-79_1418085014210for real.  Continue reading 

08 December 2014

0 bootsed

it's that special time of year again when all the zippers on all my crappy boots jam and my mother and i begin preparing our hearts for our annual mother-daughter bonding Tour of Every Shoe Store in Memphis extravaganza.

we're trying to learn from the past decade of mistakes. i'm not saying we are learning- just that we're trying. because it'd be rather nice to have one year in the 2000s where we didn't spend the day before i return to wherever i live having existential moments in the rack room shoes.

in that vein, debo dispatched me to look at boots online, which- you guys, i gotta be real- was HARROWING. maybe even more so than the rack room shoes. it was an extravaganza that, in the comfort of my own home, still led to plenty 'o existential wonderings.

let's take a look...

floating on the white background of amazon, this looked like half a boot, a ghost boot. then i saw this sandle doo-ma-higy thing (srsly, is a boot no longer a boot? it's also a sandal?)...
and that put things into context, so that i realized, no, this jesus sandal/boot is a ghost boot and the other is more convict stripes. the o brother boot, if you will. 

there were boots of many varieties. 


and uncircumcised... 

even leopard print...

boots wearing shiny pants...
boots wearing the pelts of ewoks...

boots that look like patterned tights with heels attached...
boots for a broken leg...

and my personal favorite: boots with a broken leg...
which shall i choose?

06 December 2014

0 riddle me this

what is "winter sunshine"??

(also, please note: our sunrise is so fucking late and our sunset is so fucking early!!) 

03 December 2014

0 FJ: the new (coke) milk, marilyn moments and martinis

so apparently people aren’t drinking sodas anymore. which is SHOCKING because surely i drink enough soda to keep the soda industry afloat but apparently no. and lo, coca-cola is branching out… to milk. (as i also pretty much keep all the cows in business, this officially makes me a trend setter.)
this (1) seems ridiculous because aren’t all the new fad diets completely anti-dairy? (or is that just gwyneth?) and (2)… well, they’re not exactly going about it in the awesomest of ways.

01 December 2014

0 really?

0 what does garebear do?

i was hanging out with a friend last night and he asked what my parents do.

debo is easy: she works with refugees. that is- as we would commonly think of it- something someone would DO, like with their life.

but garebear's trickier. i always, instinctively, say he writes letters. and i can see the light in the person's eyes- which has flared up over the idea of my having a mother who works with african refugees- sort of dim, and i say no, no, no, no.

because it's not that i've sold him short. he does write letters. but, if you've ever received one of his letters, you probably know it's more than that. but how to describe what it is??

when i tack on oh but you see he tells stories through stamps! it's not exactly a clarifying detail. it still misses what he actually does. which is maybe, now i'm thinking about, to light up a corner of our lives that has, for the most part, gone dark. the mailbox. where we now are accustomed to receiving shoes and books and consumer goods rather than communications from people we actually know on a regular basis. and so he pops up there in an unexpected corner, with all those stamps and photographs and that handwriting i've known all of my life so that it's now just a part of the landscape and i forget to notice it's precision, the strictness of its lines, the brutality of the reversion to cursive when he signs his name.

i don't have a mailbox in england. just a pile of mail in the front hall that we all pick through. and my father's letters- they come at a rate of about two a week- are always on the top. they always rise to the top, because, in picking through the mail, people pull them out and look at them. because, amid all the tesco adverts and letters from the NHS, garebear's air mail seems to have dropped in from another planet.

so perhaps the answer to the question what does garebear do is that he comes from another world? he would like that, i think.

28 November 2014

0 hilarifying

thanksgiving occurred in the middle of what is coming to known as my End of Term Spiral of Doom. this ridiculous glut of marking and deadlines, so plentiful that i can't think about this afternoon's looming crisis until first dealing with this morning's.

on the plus side, thanksgiving was properly celebrated. with PIES.

i will say this, it is hard to have multiple thanksgiving meals in a day and be a productive, intellectual human being. you really are meant to lie comatose somewhere on a couch.

i called my mum last night and i thought she was weeping. it was just that she was happy and tired and full.

i no longer correctly identify the symptoms of my homeland's best holiday being a success.

i'm giving a paper tomorrow at what i'm slooooooowly realizing is a rather big deal conference. it is not yet written. this is a sign of both the state of things, my tenuous grasp on them and either my excessive confidence in myself (i only minimally stressed by what should be horrifying situation by any account) OR my egregious state of denial.

on the plus side, there was pie in the library and pie at dinner. and- as my nails dry, the laundry swirls (there won't be time to take it out until tonight), the realization that i still am not entirely sure what i'm teaching in the two classes that occur in less than 4 hours settles in- there is pie for breakfast.

i've always been a cake person. i'd never before this week realized the narcotizing effect of pie. they are enormous.

24 November 2014