29 January 2015

0 why does this keep appearing on my gmail?

for a moment, i actually wondered if it was 1 april and this was one of google's wacky april fool's things. apparently no?

then i began speculating on the nature of the business between these two individuals.

the positioning of their faces would imply she's sending him the money but her insouciance and his glamor shot... i can't tell...

it is undoubtedly a reflection of my doing a phd that i would need to have a line of critical inquiry regarding this graphic and it's a reflection of my involvement in volunteer work around issues of trafficking that the only line of critical inquiry i could engage with regarding this graphic was the research question: who is being paid for sex here? 

27 January 2015

0 occasionally i like to check out the comments on the guardian's US articles

y'know, for the international response. (and yes, it's apparently UK/US Let's Identify All Our Differences Week over here.)

(it would perhaps behoove us to remember that this is a nation that FREAKED THE EFF OUT in january 2013 when this happened.)

oh and, while we're on the subject of this particular storm...

26 January 2015

0 wait

so our millions are different??

0 #SocializedMedicineFTW

today i went to the dentist for a cleaning.
i paid with a single £20 note.
and then the receptionist gave me change.

25 January 2015

1 wasted

so, since we got back from paris last november, garebear's been on a lost generation kick. which means there's been, in the last month, a lot of who is this ezra pound person? what do you think of that james joyce? 

all of which ever so briefly culminated in my scathingly brilliant idea that we should all- as a family- read a short story for christmas. FAMILY CHRISTMAS REQUIRED READING. you can imagine how well this went over. i assume, as a result, i was poisoned and that is why i have been ill. so we would not all have required reading over christmas.

anyhoo, this is ongoing. this lost generation business. for weeks now, he's been taunting me with the idea that he's going to reread the book about "your man, harry crosby" (there are so many men he calls mine that they have to be specifically identified by name) and he has apparently ordered it (AS YOU ALL SHOULD DO BECAUSE IT IS AMAZING), but he's not ready for it yet because he's reading something else and he's thinking about going to hemingway and i tell him no, no hemingway ruins everything, don't go to hemingway, you'll never come back. 

there. i've basically transcribed all of our conversations for the last month.

so i don't know what he's reading right now but it's still something to do with the lost generation. and, the other night, we're talking and my father- who has known me all of my 33 years and with whom i have been talking, in depth, about literature since we read the wizard of oz together when i was 4- looks deep into my eyes through the computer and says, have you ever heard of this thing called "waste land"?

jaw hits floor.

it takes every fiber of my being not to incredulously scream, DO YOU KNOW ME AT ALL?!?!?! 

because, come on. surely my love of the waste land isn't something secret. maybe here, yes, if you have recently joined us, because really it doesn't come up all that often. but in general, especially in college, totally THE POEMSthe waste land was to blame for all of that.

and so i don't scream and i tell him, um... yeahthe waste land is why i took 5 of dr. hargrove's classes and sat in on her graduate seminar- so i could hear her teach it again and again and again. it's the only reason i went to the eliot summer school last summer, because it had been 10 years and i wanted to see whether there was anything new. (it certainly wasn't because of the prose, because prose eliot is a jackass.) the waste land is why i write biography the way i do. eliot is why i construct sentences in biography the way i do. the waste land is fundamental to the way i write.

he does not know this. i am alarmed. for some reason i wind up reading aloud an extract from finnegan's wake to punish him and immediately email the text of east coker with the promise- probably interpreted as a threat- that "we will discuss." (because much as i love the waste land, increasingly i think east coker is where it's at.)

there was this moment a few months ago- i'm pretty sure it was the same conversation where i proposed the FAMILY CHRISTMAS REQUIRED READING- where, on skype, my parents very casually admitted to hating poetry. and a horror rose within my soul, because how could anyone say such a thing? because even if you don't read poetry or you don't understand poetry, its... meh, i don't know what it is, only what it does. only that, when i'm putting sentences together for the book, i'm reading them aloud. because it's one thing for them to fit together on the page and quite another for them to fit together metrically, for them to carry a musicality that transcends the page. never mind that i am likely the only person who's ever going to read them aloud, that is the level at which i want them to work. because it seems if they can dance on the air, then they'll be freer- not as free, but still freer- on the page.

clearly, i want to have been a poet. as we all know from THE POEMS, that would have been the very worst possible thing but do know: the impulse has not died. it's tarted up in different dress, but it ain't dead.

when my father read the draft of the jackie book over christmas, he said you keep repeating yourself. i feel like i'm reading things i've read before. i remember very clearly, through my delirium, quoting eliot without attribution and telling him: You say I am repeating /Something I have said before. I shall say it again, /Shall I say it again? which, come to think of it, directly preceded the point over christmas at which my parents expressed the most concern regarding my illness, saying i didn't seem like myself. little did they know...

when he asked have you ever heard of this thing called "waste land"? my immediate response was ohhhhhhhh. because i assumed that if he were to read eliot, suddenly all things would be clear. a dangerous thing, i know. to assume that your readership will have read eliot and therefore be forgiving of your attempt to introduce musicality and poetic devices into the way we write biography. a bold one definitely. but a fruitful one perhaps too?

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

24 January 2015

0 story time

you just run up there and pull it out, she said. get it before they close the lid.

these were her instructions to her grandchildren for what to do about the gold filling on her upper right cuspid after she died. 

they were, she told the two girls (the boys were out of the room when these arrangements were made and so remained blissfully unaware), they were to go up there together and get that thing out. for she, a child of the depression, didn't want to be going into the ground with money in her mouth.

that tooth was gold. and girls, she said, you get it out.

they all thought she died once. the christmas eve after she was widowed, she couldn't sleep and so didn't lay down on the couch beside the christmas tree until just before dawn.

she wasn't a sound sleeper and, in a family where each person was singularly convinced that the greatest fun was had in his or her absence, it was unprecedented for her to sleep in, so afraid was she they would all have fun without her.

they knew this, her daughters and their daughters and sons and her sons-in-law. knew she would kill them, when she awoke, for having allowed her to sleep. nonetheless, they tiptoed around the house, shhhhhhing anyone who dared speak at normal volume. because they knew she needed to rest. 

only later, once she had awoken, would they- one at a time- confess to one another that they had each, at some point, gone into the room where she lay sleeping in the glow of the fairy lights to watch the rise and fall of her chest, to reassure themselves she was alive. 

22 January 2015

0 today is the day i realize junot diaz is a dude

which was SHOCKING because i'd always assumed junot diaz was a woman.

while i'm embarrassing myself, here's one more:

there's a facebook page called "UK Uncut." all of my male british friends are continually liking UK Uncut posts. UK Uncut is a grassroots organization fighting austerity measures in britain. having never looked at anything about UK Uncut and simply seeing all these british men like it, i, of course, have always assumed it was a grassroots group fighting for a ban against circumcision.

21 January 2015

2 tonight

i went to a book party in belgravia, during which i consumed 13 cough drops and people literally scooted their chairs away because i am gross. but well dressed.

in an outfit i now realize would have gone PERFECTLY with bcoop's cray 2013 suit, just fyi. 

20 January 2015

0 huhghghhggh

yesterday- because, really, you can only hear your parents say YOU DON'T WANT TO WIND UP WITH PNEUMONIA so many times in a one month period before you roll your ass to the doctor- i rolled my ass back to the doctor.

true story: when i went to the doctor in the US, i was given a buffet of drugs. i mean, my parents and i had to fork over a whole load of money because i'm uninsured, so it was a freaking expensive buffet. but we went home with an actual kroger bag full of prescriptions for all of my ailments, accompanied by a print-out of dosages, and i got on a plane and got back to the UK. and then i was well for 12 hours and then i died for a week. then i was well for 72 hours before my cough turned tubercular and i rolled my ass back to the doctor.

i tell you all of that so you will understand that i am now coasting on an illness that has received medical treatment in two countries, a circumstance which casts in very stark relief how differently different countries treat illnesses.

i got a glimpse of this last spring when my ear infection was allowed to heal "naturally," without antibiotics. a bizarre route of care that may explain why it took a solid AGE to heal.

so i knew the UK docs weren't big on antibiotics. but that episode didn't prepare me for the face my GP made when i causally mentioned that, when i was home, i was given a prescription for steroids.

abruptly, she swiveled in her little swivelly chair, and said sternly, WHERE IS HOME?

where o where this place where they're doling out steroids like it was the track state championships at west beverly hills high? oh, america. land of the tiered steroid pack. where it seems totally normal to take six pills in the six hours remaining in the day in which you received them.

when i told her this was the US, she nodded, her smile tight, and said, oh we don't do that here.

apparently my ears are better. a little red but "nothing bulging" (a phrase i seriously hope never to hear again). and my bronchi too. and still i'm coughing, which has somehow led to the hypothesis that i have asthma. probably because my breathing is "severely staggered" and my showing on the weird lung force metometer thingy-ma-do was FEEBLE, for each of the three tries.

curious how this could be, how i could have suddenly developed asthma after no breathing problems ever, i asked if it might have to do with environmental factors, like the pollution or whatever. she said no, no, and then went on to detail a series of possible factors, all of them environmental, including THE AIR WE BREATHE.

i am grateful i do not have TB.

i feel like going to the doctor in the UK always feel a monty python sketch.

and i am reminded of this headline, which is not exactly something you want to hear your doctor say.

0 reality check

the fact that this constitutes real work

is rendered decidedly less awesome by the reality that not a day has gone by in the last three weeks where i haven't engaged in critical thinking about this:

19 January 2015

0 a very important joe jr update

while i was in memphis over the holidays, dying away on the couch, we watched a lot of movies. one of which was while you were sleeping, because OF COURSE. it being christmas and all.

and, at some point, in my delirium, i said to debo, "i wonder whatever happened to joe jr..."

because the actor who played joe jr was kind of amaze and gave us some truly great work, non?

so i wondered if he was still acting and hoped that he was and went on about my life. 


you guys, joe jr is EVERYWHERE. 

no, really. i don't even remember all of the places, but there was some NCIS-type tv business. and then there he was on the good wife the other day. so either he's been working all along and i missed him and he's only just now appearing on things i actually watch, or else joe jr has had a careeraissance, in which case AWESOME. i think we need more of him in our lives. 

16 January 2015

0 FJ: unsolicited career advice for my boyfriend adrien body

dear my boyfriend adrien brody.
riddle me this: how is it you have been in a tv miniseries on houdini and you have not yet starred in a biopic on dali? Continue reading 

06 January 2015

0 FJ: AND LO! valérie trierweiler, francois hollande, thank you for this moment: THE MOVIE (thoughts on dangerous women)

it is like the gods looked deep deep into their grab bag and said, YES. 
Screen shot 2015-01-06 at 6.57.08 PM
yes, yes. it’s for real. THANK YOU FOR THIS MOMENT: THE MOVIE. i die.Continue reading 

05 January 2015

0 and then

a cold, a double ear infection and bronchitis, all of which have lasted for WEEKS, gave me a new appreciation for the suffering of mrs. melanie wilkes.