29 July 2020

0 11/29/17, 9 pm

i landed in america, having been kicked out of the uk, and they picked me up from the airport-- a puddle of emotions in a faux fur pink coat-- and on the ride home they asked me about #metoo. and while i gave up relatively little at the time, i did tell them about the church friend of theirs who, in 2002, IN THEIR PRESENCE, at a brunch for my grandparents' anniversary, IN FRONT OF THEIR FACES, surrounded by cheesecakes, WHILE THEY WATCHED, stuck his index finger down my low-rise jeans and touched my pubic hair to make his point about how the young girls were wearing their jeans too low right now. 

i love them very much but i hate that they have no memory of this. i hate that i carry this alone. that they were there and this meant nothing to them, to the degree that they didn't even see it. 

i resent that so many of my stories are things the adults around me failed to see. 

06 July 2020

0 au revior! adieu! adiós! la revedere! Прощай!

it's odd, maybe, that i loathe goodbyes, and yet here i've hitched my-- admittedly rather dubious-- star to an industry in which one is expected to say goodbye every 3-4 months. if one is lucky. 

i'd a dreadful therapy session a few weeks ago. like really fucking bad. 

confession: as a scholar of gender, i'd had some doubts about having a male therapist when the thing i most needed to discuss was my trust issues with men. but, i swear, i truly did try to go into it with an open mind. promise.

but after he'd mansplained feelings to me and multiple times suggested that i had, perhaps, not stopped to consider that i was to blame for the responses of the people in the stories i was recounting, i felt a little let down. by him personally and also by the patriarchy, more generally. 

because, my god, what an unoriginal and ignorant thought!

i am a woman living in the world. i have a PhD in emotion. my whole academic life is about being reflexive. there is not a thought i have had nor an opinion i have openly expressed without first raking it over the coals of my brain and interrogating whether it is valid, whether i have misjudged, whether i am invalid, whether i am totally wrong. 

in all of the stories i tell myself about myself, i am the bad guy. that is the ground from which i build up. 

i thought it would take an entire session for him to condescend. it took two minutes. 

yes, he likened the shitshow in london to austin powers, which was-- in the broader scheme of things-- narratively useful. but, even so, it was quite nice when, 15 minutes in, the connection dropped and he cancelled the session. 

it was helpful, because fucking men, but also because it was a tremendous relief not to have to say goodbye. 

really, i just want to informally wander away. 

multiple times, in bidding dear friends farewell for long periods, i have literally, physically shoved them away from me. 

hard to do that with students. with students, i have to take the grief. 

just right now, we had nine working days. NINE WORKING DAYS. and still my lip quivered at one point. 

you wouldn't think you could come to love a digital roomful of twenty-four 15- and 16-year-olds in a mere nine working days, but, as i think we're all learning, you can do a hell of a lot of things online these days. 

do i just love to fall in love? do i too easily fall in love? am i just, like, predisposed to this mode of grief? the grief of an ending. the grief that accompanies the love that comes with having read someone's writing. 

more positive spin: i am a realist! i know that we may never see/speak to one another again. like jesus, i hope i will live in their hearts, but that also is not a guarantee. 

nine days online. and i do not know that, come three years from now (or, nay, even come fall), i'll be able to tell you their names, but i've read their work. i've seen their thinking.

at the end, every time, i make sure to tell them i respect them as writers, thinkers, amazing people. 

because it is the full triumvirate. 

two things emerged from the nine business days we had together.

(1) my fears about hauling my persona online were unwarranted. i can do this. even on zoom, i can play the person i need to play to get them to want to write for me and make them feel safe so they can write for one another.

(2) the kids, they are alright. they are worth living for and writing for and dying for. 

that sounds melodramatic but, surely, surely, if ever there were a melodramatic time, tis now.  

i once sat on a concluding therapy session for 27 months. this was both a refusal of an ending and also a safety net. because i didn't know what was coming, i did not know what would happen next. 

we never know what will happen next. and so we bid our farewells and say our goodbyes and we send the kids off into this big brave, awful world and sometimes they show up in our dreams or our inboxes, and their names, when they pop up, feel like a hand on home base. knowing they're still out there, still writing, that we are all of us still writing, still living, still moving ever forwards into whatever is yet to come. 

maybe i hate endings because they feel so false. because they represent a closure that isn't real. because, even if you are my student and i never see you on campus next semester or hear from you ever again, still we had that moment. you were there, as was i. and, together, we did something that mattered. we started work that never ends.

01 July 2020

0 doctors in the city

there’s what is perhaps best described as "a protrusion" on my chest. not a lump; not in the breast. but something has happened and there is an aspect of my body that was not there before.


i tell my mother about this a month ago, and she says, you know some bodies are just asymmetrical, and i say, but i’m 39, and i feel like i maybe, kinda would’ve noticed this by now.


the protrusion: it is 1.5 inches long and approximately 1 cm deep? wide? how does one describe distance from one's usual chest cavity? (full disclosure: i have not yet gotten out the measuring tape from miss pixie’s so all figures are approximate.)


the protrusion: again, it’s not in the breast tissue, and it feels like bone.


my aunt, the nurse, requests a tit pic and i oblige. quickly, she weighs in. it is probably inflammation.


she shares the tit pic with my uncle, the orthopedic. he weighs in; based on the location, above the breast tissue, maybe it is chondritis.


truly, never did i imagine this level of sexting with my relatives.

truly, never did i imagine that the step that follows sexting with my relatives would be a tele-visit with a doctor i've never met, wherein i repeatedly pull down my shirt. 


voluntarily, i reveal my silhouette on camera so the doctor can access whatever this is from afar.

two weeks later, debo, whose pandemic brain means she keeps forgetting i am an adult, calls up and says, YOU MUST SCHEDULE AN APPOINTMENT WITH THE DOCTOR NOW!!! 

she was so preoccupied waiting for the delivery of the glasses she ordered from warby parker a month ago that she has forgotten that i have already talked with a doctor and that that doctor referred me to another doctor, who will be seeing me either on-camera or IRL in two weeks time. 

we're feeling extra-summer season of 90210 right now. the drama's all a bit forced and lazy. 

everyone says it's probably nothing. i keep saying it's probably nothing, even as i sit with the reality that the primary symptom of whatever it is is a burning when i breathe. which is often. and which is especially awful in forward fold. 

this is, OF COURSE, the ideal time to start dating. obvi. 

because, due to the pandemic, it means one gets to have conversations about sanitation and exclusivity ludicrously early, paired with, due to past relationships with men, conversations about violent sex and betrayal, mixed with, due to the protrusion, conversations about what appears to be a casually raging ibruprofen addiction and an incredibly sexy non-breast tissue, bone-like business. 

for who among us is not turned on by that cocktail?! indeed.  

0 one month

that this majestic nut and i have been co-habitating. 

ridiculously decadent tuxedo cat named claude

25 June 2020

0 stupidly, i thought i could do it all

this is the only explanation for why i have a full day of teaching, followed by a phone interview, a zoom, interview, and then am heaving all 14 lbs of claude up 14th street to the vet for the wellness check that was a condition of his adoption. 

it always seems so smart to put all of the things on one day. whycome it isn't until that day dawns that my past self that thought that is revealed to have been the stupidest ever possible version of my self? 

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22 June 2020

0 dear people!

sometimes i am so dense!!! i didn't realize how much i missed the kids, then i read 15 out of 24 of their blurbs about themselves and saw their shining faces in their various environs on zoom, and, for the first time in 102 days, i felt like the human being i like to be-- refreshed, exhilarated, flush from having performed. 

i did a phd under the proviso that i didn't want to teach, only to discover that teaching is the only thing short of the stage that gives me life. 

the fireworks go off every night and, every time they do, claude runs to sit on the toilet. god knows why that is his coping mechanism, but i am not one to judge, because my coping mechanism is turning up the volume of mary tyler moore.

one of them told us he did it. after a week of planning, he bought 1,000 tickets to trump's rally in tulsa, and i lean back in the ghost chair that i bought from a girl for $10 last december, bought it in the rain and she was about to move back to memphis, i lean back in this entirely inappropriate chair because claude has laid claim to the chair that came with the desk but now sits against the mirror as his throne, and i think, maybe, just maybe, we're going to be ok. 

because the kids are so fucking cool, ya'll. we are so fucking blessed, because they are so fucking cool.

20 June 2020

0 365 days ago

i came to DC to house-sit for seven weeks. my ticket only went one way. 

it was three weeks with the lioness of cleveland park, four weeks with the pit bull in takoma. 

and then, slowly, house by house, cat by cat, job by job, i oozed into a life in this silly town. 

and lo! here we are. i have a cat and a flat in a pandemic, 264 days at-large out in the city followed by 101 at home. 

19 June 2020

0 zoomed

i've been stridently avoiding zoom, because i knew there would come a time where zoom would be unavoidable and i didn't want to be zoomed out when that time arrived. 

that time was scheduled to arrive next week. and yet, somehow, it came a week early and, already, i am like, NO MORE. 

this maybe isn't entirely zoom's fault and has more to do with the fact that the zooms being had this week, ultimately, make no fucking sense. 

if it is hard to wrap one's brain around the fact that one is seeing actual people in these brady bunch boxes, it is even harder to wrap one's brain around the things they are asking us to believe and do. 

we are opening for the fall! we are teaching face to face! we are having three class meetings in the whole semester! there are only 23 rooms on campus that can hold 20 socially distanced students! there are 160 rooms that can hold 4! fall break is cancelled (but not really)! everyone will go home at thanksgiving! we are going to give students a real life college experience! the students have told us this is what they want! we'll all be totally safe!  


(in the pandemic days of yore, back when i was in the vocabulary business, i made a video on cognitive dissonance, so if you're like oline, i need a pep talk from you in big glasses and a sequin muumuuhere ya go.) 

this was all conveyed in a departmental zoom session, led by our acting summer department head, who looks like alfred molina and whose zoom background made it appear he was broadcasting from the red light district. 

my question about developing protocols for when we or our students fall ill remained unacknowledged in the chat. which reassures me greatly, for sure. 

i interviewed for a teaching gig the other day (on zoom, obvi) and, speaking as someone who has done this, i would not recommend it. because, in the best of times, the mental gymnastics involved in communicating how you would teach a class you've never taught are strenuous. and these are not the best of times. 

communicating how you would teach a class you've never taught in a global pandemic at an institution that is claiming it will be delivering teaching F2F come fall is really fucking dumb. 

sample question: what museums or plays might you take the class to?


for real. 

i do not feel i am tooting my own horn when i say i deserve some sort of pandemic special category of oscar for the performance i gave of someone who was not laugh/crying/screaming on the inside whilst delivering an answer on my plans for taking a group of 60 students to the kennedy center next fall. 

it was an answer that would have sounded excellent in a world that no longer exists and which feels completely deranged in the world we live in now. 

the kennedy center is not open, nor is it likely to be. there are no productions, there are no plays. mass gatherings of more than ten people are prohibited. 

last march, i honestly didn't believe things could ever be handled much worse in higher education than they were at that point. i was wrong. 

the intellectual exercise of... what?-- chicken? capitalism? survival of the fittest? existential denial?-- that we are engaged in right now is the most profoundly fucked up thing i've ever witnessed. it will not end well. 

0 so you're looking for ways to help and things to do?