Saturday, April 25, 2009

A Passing

Beatrice Arthur (May 13, 1922 – April 25, 2009)

Remember Maude? Bea Arthur's character presented a non-apologetic, progressive, feminist character in a way that didn't totally alienate audiences. No small feat.

And the theme song was really cool.

Thank you Beatrice. You shall be missed.

Elegy to My Car

Automobilus Maximas

What dreams may come when we have crushed this metal coil
Have handed over, stripped of parts, gutted, skeletalized,
and cubed-- shipped out to that undiscovered country,
fence-shrouded in piercing silence to mark
the days with the other ghosts of tread?

What dreams for thee who lived out your final days
So much the butt of jokes, for thee who had such moments,
Who sped down quiet desert roads playing Bob Dylan
Through 120 degree heat and rising
Through unseasonal Canyon snows
Through Joshua Tree, cold Christmas night,
Las Vegas, Yuma, San Luis, rocking shock-less
Characteristic even at night we’ve been told,
Outliving your peers, struggling valiently alongside
burnt-colored youngsters and hybrids

Take rest now, resident of quieter streets
Stacked with companions one atop another
Silent and Still
Detritus of progress, hidden, shameful

Ring out the grief that takes a bow
To those that here we’ll drive no more
Ring out the long-earned dusty miles
Ring out for them of parts and oil.

O Wagon! My Wagon! our mutual trek is done
Our undivided trip is set, our paths we tread alone.

My kingdom for a shoe

In my dreams I am very often inappropriately shod. It's a running theme, in fact.

I'm back playing high school or college football, for example. Usually, I'm my 38-year-old self, but some loophole has allowed me to suit up for the team once again. I'm standing on the sidelines and waiting to get sent in, when I realize I'm not wearing any shoes. I look under the bench, searching for my cleats, but all I can find are a pair of penny loafers, which I put on reluctantly.

Last night I had somehow become an entry-level employee at some big financial firm. (I think I had left CNBC running in the background.) I'm at a table with all of the other new hires, a bunch of good-looking, young go-getters. We're all dressed in business attire. We are called in one-by-one to give a formal introduction of ourselves to the big-wigs and to explain how we think we can help the company. I'm confused, because I don't know anything about finance, but I try to scribble some notes down on an envelope. That's when I realize that I'm wearing flip-flops...with white socks.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Book in the News

I'm sending Raúl Castro a copy of True Kin, just in case he wants to pass it along.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

OK, I'm back, sort of

I'm somewhat surprised that, despite my long absence, this blog has some die-hard followers that extend beyond my mother and aunt. It has been some time since I've posted anything substantive. Quite a few things have happened. Or maybe very little has happened. I'm not sure.A few have inquired as to what I'm "waiting" for. I took my first two comprehensive exams. I haven't heard how I did, so I am waiting. I won't know until around 4/25. Wish me luck.

One interesting thing I did over the past few months was attend the national MLA conference in San Francisco. It was my first time on to both city and conference, and I was kind of excited about it, so much so that when I noticed that a young attractive woman (ahead of me in line as we boarded the plane) was reading from the conference program, I interjected, "Hey, you're going to MLA." I think that both she and I were slightly taken aback by my exuberance. I followed up with, "Um, me too." What followed was an awkward conversation where I further embarrassed myself and which ended with her returning to her reading.

I swore several complicated oaths against myself as I found my seat and settled in for the flight.

MLA is funny in that it attracts individuals who are virtually unknown in the mainstream world yet who are like rock stars in their own specialized community. I found myself thinking thoughts like, Oh my God, I'm standing right next to Gayatri Spivak. I could, like, stroke her hair if I wanted to. Or I can't believe I'm eating at the same buffet as Stanley Fish. OR What if I just ran up to Judith Butler and kissed her right on the lips. What would she do?

Having lived mostly in Florida and the Arizona desert, I'm used to warm outdoors and lovely over-cooled interiors. I found this somewhat reversed in San Fran; hence I found myself sweating a good bit more than I would have liked. There's no way to play it off when you're visibly sweating, no way to seem natural or relaxed.

Other than this, I was able to see people that I haven't seen for a long time. I also visited my publisher's display in the exhibit room. I was curious to see how prominently my book was displayed. Sadly, it was not even there among the hundreds of others. But I did get to meet some nice people from the press.

Of course, I broke from the formal events of the conference to explore the city. On the second night, I took a trip down to the famous Haight/Ashbury area and had a wonderful, wild time. I met lots of friendly people of many types. Unfortunately, my camera was also stolen, which contained many very cool photographs. That was a tough blow, and now that I think about it this was one of the reasons I kind of lost the desire to post.

So, in lieu of photos, I have rendered a likeness from memory (such as my memory is) from that night at "The Haight."

I was lucky enough to get a $300.00 stipend to attend the conference. This was for participating in a session geared toward community college instructors and was led by Gerald Graff, another luminary, and his wife Cathy Birkenstein. The session focused on their book for college writers, They Say/I Say. The book's premise is a little controversial, but for the most part I'm on board with them. Composition teachers, check it out.

Below is a faithful representation of a tender moment following the session. be continued...

Thursday, April 9, 2009