Wednesday, December 20, 2000

I more or less successfully survived my first semester back in graduate school. Now I'm trying to recuperate, catch up on sleep and rest, and get over the cold that I've been suffering through for the past week-and-a-half.

Spent this past weekend in Little Rock, Arkansas, visiting one of my oldest pals Chuck and his partner. Little Rock was a lot more interesting than I could have imagined prior to my trip. Most of the buildings and homes were built in the first couple of decades of the twentieth century, and some were even pre-Civil War. The city was small, walkable ("human-sized," as my friend Olja says) and quaint. We visited both the Decorative Arts Museum across the street from Chuck's apartment and then the Arkansas Arts Center which was having the Chihuly glass exhibit. Also saw the latest IMAX film by Cirque du Soleil. In the fifty or so hours I was there, I saw every kind of weather imaginable at this time of year: pissing rain, snow flurries, sleet, 35 mph winds, sunny brightness.

No real plans for xmas. Good for me.

My position at Verizon is being yanked out from under my feet as of December 29th. Haven't quite decided what I'll try to do for money for the next 6 months or so. Maybe just live off of my (inner) beauty.

Friday, November 3, 2000

My favorite holiday came and went already, and I was offline, celebrating it as it should be: shopping for pumpkins at the Farmers' Market downtown and carving Jack-o'-Lanterns to put outside. Only two Trick-or-Treaters came since it was a bit rainy and I live in an apartment complex. That's still two more than last year.

The past two weeks at school just about killed me, so I took this week off, skipping my Tuesday and Thursday evening classes. I've loved the free time to catch up on other projects: writing letters & sending cards to my pals abroad, sleeping, reading course material for my Saturday morning class, planning my next step on this crazy planet. Good offers are coming in, so perhaps I'll be leaving Amerika yet again, soon.

The election here is looking more and more frightening. Son of Bush actually has a chance of winning; and Gore is looking more and more incompetent. I will be voting my conscience this year--unlike so many other years when I simply voted for the lesser of two (or even three) evils: I'm voting Green. Being in Texas, my vote doesn't count in any real, material way for Gore because of our lovely Electoral College, though I'm not sure I'd vote for him even if Nader were not running. No matter who "wins" the White House, I earnestly hope that the Green Party gets its percentage to be finally considered a *real political party in this country.

The Cine closed this Wednesday evening; it was my favorite art house cinema in Dallas. I can't count the number of films I saw there, films that were incredible and gorgeous and intelligent. When I haven't been here, I've missed watching films there. But now I will always miss it as one less good thing about being here exists.

Friday, September 22, 2000

"I'm free--free falling." Despite the relative stability of my life now--a definite work schedule, a definite class schedule, the fact that this schedule will remain the same until the beginning of December--I still feel like I'm falling through this world. It's easier to feel this way when I'm actually in flight, but something of my accelerated lifestyle has carried over after my last trip. The other/othered experiences bleed through into the normalcy of my everyday life in America with regularity. These events are almost like visions of a past life in which I am quite literally not myself and not where I am. Afterwards, I have more of that caved-in head and kicked-in stomach feeling. I'm learning to deal with this age of descendancy in which I travel onward yet downward. I worry about my sanity, though soberly knowing my grasp on that beast was always at best tenuous.

Questions haven't haunted me this past week as much as question marks have. To feel so much love, to feel so much anger for one who can only offer a single question mark after two months of silence! (Monkeys are meant to be missed.)

I've been living for debauchery and licentious public behavior lately. At least my mind has had a good laugh at the expense of any physical or sexual satisfaction. Sometimes it's nice to remind myself that everyone wants love. Not likely to give up my wicked, wicked ways anytime soon.

Wednesday, August 23, 2000

We erected silos of concrete and steel where once stood a tree of forgiveness. The branches we hacked to pieces, chopping the precious wood to bits to feed the flames of our discontent. We wrote bad poetry and called it love. We had kinky sex and called it love. Now we love nothing but the silos dotting the wastelands of our unforgiving souls.

Parched and dry am I like Texas, 53 days without rain. Fifty-three days ago I was led out to the garden behind the house to breathe fresh air and pick ripe berries to heal my soul and bad allergies. My allergies got better.

And we still write bad poetry. :)

Tuesday, August 15, 2000

"Damaged people are dangerous: they know they will survive."

I'm still lost in the dance of the lost man. Everyday my bitterness eats away at my insides, making me more and more mad at the world. Coughing up blood-flecked phlegm at work only confirms the amount of damage I've sustained physically from this summer as do the nosebleeds. Whatever psychological and emotional damage I have, however, remains unearthed and under-excavated like the skeletons of 12th century monks under the cathedral in Lutsk, Ukraine. I wait for proper burial, knowing full well that my only function is as a money-making tourist attraction: "Step right up!" I want to bark at the crowd. The only, albeit ironic, justification for my life is that they'll probably erect some massive church dedicated to my goodness and mercy atop my grave after I'm dead. I'm after all no less a sexual deviant than those monks who, though holy holy in their deaths, still are nothing but bones encrusted in dirt in a cold church basement under where real iniquity is practiced and preached.

My first week back in Texas I heard a report on NPR about how abused people have a different chemical makeup in their brains. Hearing that again made me want to die.

Friday, June 2, 2000

Last night I was overwhelmed by the sheer randomness of life. What are the chances that one of my ancestors would leave his home to move to America? Not knowing a single thing about my family history prior to my grandparents (who always seemed so settled in this world) makes my nationality and identity seem even more mysterious, even undeserved.

Why are my eyes blue? What are the chances that I would have blue eyes? My family history--no matter what mystery--is always already inscribed on my physical self. The fact that I was born in the US during the 60's determined that I would be circumcised. My uncle's death in Viet Nam determined my name. I wear not only my family history but the history of the world on my body and in my identity.

I've been thinking a lot about these issues lately because of my friend Barbara, whose mother left L'viv after WWI. Did any of her family survive the Holocaust or the Stalinist purges or any other historical/personal catastrophe of that region? I'm hoping to conduct research in the nearby villages into Barbara's family history. Not really thinking about finding a long lost cousin, but to find a synagogue or a cemetery that survived, some form of architecture that was seen, entered, touched by someone who once lived related to Barbara--someone Barbara wears in her own body who has determined the sheer random identity of Barbara, my friend whom I met in Arlington, Texas. What are the chances?

Friday, May 26, 2000

I’ve been writing on this site for almost a year. Of course, over the past several months I’ve barely written at all for lack of inspiration and because of my own stifled/stifling creativity. I do, however, now have some good news, at least for myself: I’ve been accepted into a six-week language program in Ukrainian in L’viv, Ukraine; I’ve been awarded a Foreign Language Area Studies (FLAS) Fellowship to pay for the majority of related expenses; and my supervisor has generously agreed to let me have the time off from work to pursue this opportunity. It’s been a long time since I’ve been this happy and optimistic.

Thursday, April 20, 2000

I have become such an American! After the past seventy-five minutes in traffic, I now see that I am nothing more than a cog in the great American machine--another blip on the gridlock. And as I sit waiting for traffic to move, my air is perfectly conditioned, music is tuned to my liking (that is, when the local radio stations play something tolerable), my mind is out like a light, my body moves according to controlled stimuli: red light, dashed white line, octagon sign. Arrival is something mysterious, and one is never quite sure how one actually traveled to one's destination. Only the point of origin and the point of arrival are known in the great equation of American highways; the shape and flow of the actual distance traversed is unknowable. Much like life within the walls of Fortress America: we are born in America, and (by God) we will die in America. Anything in between is mere history. "Honey, I earned $20 an hour today, so my company could burn another hole in the ozone, so I could develop chronic bronchitis, so I could go on disability, so my company could *early retire me, so I can be taken care of by my company, so I can die in America--Land of the Free. How was your day?"

At times I try to feel something real. I try to disconnect from my head. I try to shut down the machine. I try to unplug. Sometimes I succeed, and in those moments, I am god.

There's a bumper sticker, or a tee shirt, or a poster, or something with this phrase: "You have to go in to find out." It gives me chills.

And on the wall in the halls of the training center of my multi-national corporation is a *feel-good poster entitled "Teamwork" which depicts the Great Wall of China. The picture might as well depict slaves on a cotton plantation.

Last night I participated in a Seder supper for Passover for the first time. So I've been singing Negro spirituals and Bob Marley tunes all day while I took my mid-morning and mid-afternoon walking breaks around the perimeter of my building. In order to exercise. In order to feel something outside of my head. In order to really exist.

Thursday, March 2, 2000

My sleek, black and sweet cat Griga is a cancer survivor. He underwent surgery last week to remove a small lump on the top of his head; this week the tests came back positive. Now he looks like a little Frankenstein kitty with a big scar and stitches on his head. He seems to be handling the situation better than I am.

This morning I was interviewed on LinguaMOO by a good friend who is taking a writing course by one of the wizards there. It was an interesting interaction. We probably *spoke just as much on the MOO this morning than we have during *real life encounters: both he and I are absolutely not gabbers. But man could we type!

I have been focusing the past couple of weeks on leaving this country again. I have applied for a couple of jobs at universities in Europa Centralna, and I have a March 15th deadline for a fellowship to get me to Ukraine. I have also been seriously brushing up on my Russian by studying the grammar and reading simple texts--all I can handle after not learning the language eight years ago. It looks as if Russian is going to get me further in the world than Polish, and I don't mind perfecting my Russian as long as I don't lose my Polish. Unfortunately I haven't studied Japanese at all these past few months. Hey anybody: wanna talk?

Monday, February 14, 2000

I have my impatience with the stupid masses in check today. I am also overjoyed not to be at Belo nor to be substituting today at Sunset High. Stephen took me to a Thai cafe for lunch, and I've been busy-busy working on my job applications.

Thursday, February 10, 2000

The day I received a letter from the U.S. State Department stating that I did not rank sufficiently high enough to be considered further for a position as an officer, I discovered a hole in my Dr. Marten boots. I bought those boots right before leaving for Japan over two years ago. And I've walked all over Japan, Texas, Beijing, Israel, Poland, Germany, Amsterdam, Juarez, Milwaukee and London in them. I have led one of the most interesting lives I know on next to no money, coming from a farm in East Texas, and having had no career before the age of 32--nor much of one lined up. My boots have done more than a majority of my fellow Americans. Yet I am still unremarkable according to several what-I-once-thought-of-as-potential employers: the U.S. State Department, the CIA., I can't even remember the number of universities and international organizations, a handful of bookshops, ad nauseam. Not ranking well enough on the exam means nothing to me, however. I'm more upset/angry/disgusted about having studied for the Foreign Service Exam for close to a year and a half. That is time out of my life when I could have been doing something a little bit more profitable, since I am now in the same position I've always been in (when not abroad): not having a professional position nor earning anything close to what I am worth. I can have conversations in FIVE languages. I am intelligent, creative, professional, nice, resourceful and utterly unemployable by the superpower nation which, according to all data, has next to no unemployment. I will call soon to see about getting unemployment benefits. It's about fucking time my country does something for me (he said rather angrily).

On a lighter note: I left Belo last Thursday. My supervisor was/is absolutely incompetent, unprofessional, unintelligent and reminded me of the emotionally disturbed children I once counseled in Fort Worth during my last semester as an undergraduate. May she, too, burn in hell (he said rather diabolically).

Well, after this entry, I'm sure the federal government will finally be beating a path to my door with charges of slander, hate speech for the *stoopid, and traitorous remarks. My work here as a cyber-terrorist is now complete. Adieu.

Wednesday, February 2, 2000

Little Frankie (aged 32 years and one day) crawls from his hole and searches the horizon for a sign: he sees only clear skies and a bright, shining sun. Happy Ground Hog's Day.