30 September 2014

0 on human rights violations

something funny. not funny ha-ha, but more like funny as in it's probably possible to go your whole life without realizing it and once you realize it is seems a fairly obvious thing and you wonder what else you're missing:

the united nations apparently quite often accuses the US of human rights violations.

did you know this?

perhaps i am an idiot, but i did not know this.

it started cropping up when i read this article in the guardian on how the district of columbia is lobbying to be a state and how because they aren't a state they don't get a vote in congress. i knew that bit. what i did not know was this:

which went down in my mind as a little shocking because i think it is honestly the first time i'd ever read anything about the UN condemning the US on anything outside of military affairs. 

so this was startling, but a one time thing. i thought. 

except, NO. 

seriously, did you know the UN talked about us this much?? or in this much depth?? is the US media talking about how the UN is talking about us?? i don't have the time to look at any more articles on this, much less cross-reference multiple reports across multiple outlets, but it says something alarming that, as someone who's paid quite a bit of close attention to american media for the last 20 years, i could get this far in life without stumbling across this information: that the UN-- with some regularity it would appear-- criticizes US domestic policies as human rights violations. 

we're always hearing about liberal bias or conservative bias in the news. you don't hear much about american bias, which does not mean it's not there.

28 September 2014

0 FJ: super quick superficial thoughts on george clooney’s impending nuptials to george clooney’s fiancé

which aren’t actually impending because they’ve actually happened by now. we just don’t have photographic evidence of that happening at the moment of this sentence’s composition.
what we have is this:
Screen shot 2014-09-28 at 9.33.29 AM

26 September 2014

25 September 2014

0 my concentration camp research

i am, at present, responsible for drafting a footnote for my supervisor's next book. this footnote is about concentration camps.

her book is not about concentration camps. it is about intellectuals post-WWII. so, i did not expect to be researching and writing about concentration camps. did not expect that after months of merrily churning through reports on the berlin airlift, i would suddenly be sent back to 1933. forced to document the NYT's correspondent's jolly visit to dachau. forced to see numbers (NUMBERS!).

i did not anticipate that i would have to read deeply horrifying things.

the philosopher once observed of me, you really like dark things. which was (1) funny coming from someone who writes about torture and (2) true. but what we learn here, in my dealings with the concentration camp footnote, what i did not even know about myself, is that i can tolerate dark things and be fascinated by them on a small scale. and that is it.

i can read about something happening to one person or 20 or a school. that is awful but it is bearable. because i've watched the zapruder film entirely too much, i've been in a room of 20 people, i've been in a school. those things are comprehendible.

big numbers are not.

all those zeros. all that rounding up. all the people- the person(s)- lost in the rounding, lives overwritten in the eagerness to arrive at an even number...

so this is not fun. getting emails from my supervisor asking me to add some other question to my "concentration camp research". my immediate thought was NOOOOOOOOOOOOO. do not call it my concentration camp research! i cannot have such a thing. 

because a footnote seemed doable. when it was my "concentration camp footnote", i was ok with that. that's just 300 words.

"concentration camp research" sounds far more serious, far more involved. far more than i can be involved.

i do well with murders and rampages. systematically thought out, institutionalized killings? that i cannot do.

change of subject:

22 September 2014

1 british chicken noodle soup

i've been slowly crawling my way out of a respiratory infection all weekend. fun times.

which have led to the discovery that british chicken noodle soup is NOTHING TO DO WITH american chicken noodle soup.

things it would have been good to know before i rallied all my strength to venture out into the world for the first time in five days in order to buy a can of campbell's...

in britain, the campbell's soup section is precisely two things: cream of mushroom and cream of chicken.

and, in britain, chicken noodle soup is an asian food. with peppers. and little corncobs.

19 September 2014

0 FJ: the celebrity after-image (jackie, dickie, lauren, joan: obituaries, photos, + the age of aging anxiety)

i’ve repeatedly banged on and on and on about how this is the image of jackie most often used in the press since her death in 1994.

18 September 2014

0 it's been a weird fortnight

the other night i dreamed something fatal happened to the president in germany. it was this weird continuing nightmare, where i kept waking up only to fall asleep and have it resume. like a real world marathon. and there was no resolution. rather, the whole dream was about the time between having heard something horrid happened and finding out the result, so that we did not ever know if he had, in the end, died.

one of my parents friends' died this week. a lovely man who loved cats and vowed to me, when i left her with my parents, that he would always look after the vieve's best interests.

there's kind of no fall in great britain. well, actually, there isn't a fall at all because it's called "autumn" here and when you use the term "fall" people look at you as though you're speaking gibberish.

but also, the leaves don't really turn colors. they just go brown and kamikaze to the ground. somehow i completely missed this last year. this year it's all i can see.

my father tells me his sister and her husband are going on a leaf tour of the south. like, they are getting in a car and driving through multiple states to see the changing leaves.

my first response is: that is, from my position over here in great britain, the most american thing i have ever heard.

my second response is: I WANT TO SEE LEAVES!!!

which makes me feel, in my heart, about 95.

where did summer go?

that's a terribly disingenuous question from my end. summer went to the british library for 10 hours a day. still, it is alarming, how quickly the time goes. how quickly fall- with or without the right leaves- rolls around again...

17 September 2014

0 you guys

we basically had one week of summer, back over the 4th of july. this is apparently our 2nd.

16 September 2014

1 so now

the question is:

did james gilby call princess diana squidgy because of this weird breakfast (?) bread (?)?

or did this breakfast (?) bread (?) co-opt james gilby's pet name for princess diana, turn it into an adjective and apply it to the energy provided by said breakfast (?) bread (?)?

0 wtf?

15 September 2014

0 there is maybe nothing more annoying right now

than the calorie counts of WW2. seriously.

i'm doing research on the side for my supervisor's next book. and, because i thought calorie counts would be an interesting little detail to include, i mentioned them. a teeny tiny mention that has blown up into a HUGE BIG DEAL.

because the calorie counts of WW2 are extremely complicated. they go up and down. they are different for people of different zones of the tri-zonal area, different for people in different jobs within a given tri-zonal area, and the reports are doubly confusing because increases and decreases are reported which appear to have never happened. and so i've spent an ETERNITY now trying simply to prove whether or not this statement is true: "By the end of March rations had dropped to 1275 calories in the US zone and 1050 in the British zone."

it isn't. i don't think. but i'm no longer entirely sure what is.

0 FJ: trending: on celebrity death + matthew modine (a personal meditation)

matthew modine has not died.
but let’s backtrack…
Continue reading 

13 September 2014

11 September 2014

0 well now i feel dumb

though i swear this question wasn't as idiotic as their response has made it sound.

0 fyi

the moment after you email multiple churches to see whether their bells tolled on 15 october 1969 so that you can take the "maybe" out of the sentence where you say maybe jackie heard bells tolling in her apartment at 1040 fifth ave is the precise moment when it's time to leave the library and go home.

07 September 2014

0 very much related, it is also the anniversary of our decision to do this...

0 7 september 2012

fuck :(

i'm "oline" because i once dated "ovan."

donovan and caroline. we lived together in memphis. after he dumped me during a rogue wave concert so he could go out with a waitress, i fled to chicago. because he drunk-dialed for months after, we didn't speak for years.

we didn't speak again, donovan and i, until that awful winter of 2009, when i wasn't sleeping or eating and had watched bright star every evening after work for five nights in a row.

he was moving from denver to mississippi, driving the whole way, and asked if he could call. over the course of eight emails, we established that he could and that, when he did, i would answer.

he said, "hi oline" and i said, "hi, ovan," though i had not called him that in years.

it's funny how the details that once seemed so important slip away and what you're left with is a handful of conversations on a few winter nights.

there are people who are a part of us always. they are fundamental.

he called from the hospital. i was doing laundry. i sat on the floor and leaned against the dryer, because it felt as though the firmament were shaking. things i'd thought were solid i found were not.

partner was sick. she got better. hearing he was, i knew he wouldn't.

that was very nearly exactly one year ago.

information has been relayed over all manner of insufficient technologies. events that beg for the concreteness of paper and penmanship, demand to be written down, are instead dragged out across multiple texts and emails and facebook messages through an entire day or three or four.

it is the communication of things that need to be communicated and yet it intrudes. it diminishes. so that either life is completely mundane or death is, but one or the other absolutely must be.

my intuitive response in times of crisis is to become A Writer. to write the story as it is being lived, as though the actual living of it could be bypassed. writing organizes things, controls them, sustains some of the oncoming blow. hence the clinical distance here and the exploitation of all available ironies.

last wednesday night my dad said he was flipping between a documentary on the falling man from 9/11 and 'notting hill'. that strikes me as the best possible analogy for the disconnect. it is a situation at once whimsical and deeply pathetic (from french pathétique, via late latin from greekpathetikos; see pathos).

a light-hearted back and forth with a friend about an apartment sublet is punctuated by harrowing texts from another about donovan's status, donovan's dying.

the issues of parking on arlington place and septicemia collide.

the profanity is followed by emoticons.

my inability to feel true horror at the use of emoticons in this context makes me wonder if i am numb.

i've never been so aware of how many devices i have. too many. there are half a dozen venues at least in which this news could be relayed. i am unrelentingly tensed, waiting for an explosion that has yet to come. for one of these electronic things to inform me that someone who is integral to my world is no longer in it.

i'm squatting in an alley as i write this. typing it out on my ipod. even i am denying it the concreteness of the page. instead, placing it in the ether, on chips and bits and bytes, things with which i'm so unfamiliar that i can't even fake knowledge of the proper terminology.

i need to write. at the same time, i cannot bear to put this down on paper. cannot confront what is about to happen- what is happening (what has, in fact, happened).

in producing content for a blog for the last six years, i've always assumed grief would be dealt with afterward. never in the moment, but only later. once it had time to clot. to become LitrAchOOre.

this is not LitrAchOOre. it is words on a screen because i could not put them on the page. could not bear to see them on paper, for fear i will not know how to read my own writing. for fear that what i have written down- the cold, hard, horribleness of it- will creep back in, will be truth, will become real.

in lieu of crying, snot pours down my face. emotions will, apparently, inevitably find their way out.

i threw away everything donovan ever wrote me. which was, as it turns out, more than any other man ever has.

pitched it all. after one too many drunk 4 a.m. phone calls, new year's day 2007.

words mean more to me than most things and, at the time, i no longer valued his because so much of what he'd written had failed to come true.

now i see how it has.

there are people who are fundamental. still they slip away, leaving you with only inside jokes and a handful of conversations on a few winter nights. something so insubstantial that it might almost have never been.

the irony is that i threw his words away and now, in the vacuum left by his absence, in the great gaping hole blown into my world by his death, words are all i have. so faulty, so lacking, so offensive in their inadequacy, and yet they are the only concrete thing. the surest surface.

i know no other way to pin this down. there is no other means by which to inhabit the horrible wrongness.

that i am here. that he was here. that this has happened. that it is.

i am in this city because of him.

i am oline because of him.

he is fundamental.

he is dead.

04 September 2014

0 FJ: THROWBACK: “god bless america sung by familiar faces”, 1970

and now, for something different. because i recently discovered this and have been completely OBSESSED.
Continue reading 

03 September 2014