Wednesday, December 24, 2003

After only 3 days being back in Dallas, I long for the ease of walking a few minutes to the Tube, from where I have access to an entire continent.  Driving from point A to point B across town is just not the same.  And even though I have tried to free myself from caffeine, coffee's grip remains firm around my head, squeezing me into submission and another cup at 17:41 this Wigilia evening.  I'm listening to a CD Jola sent from San Francisco:  I couldn't have compiled a more appropriate soundtrack myself to the here and now, and to the how I feel.  "Where are you?" messages have reached me in various languages from around the globe; it seems everyone is wondering.  Well, I am here.  And despite all the speculation to the contrary, I am happy.  Nostalgic, yes.  And moody as always.  And impatient as hell.  But I am happy, and I'm happy to be here.  For now.  Crave to be there, yes:  in the future, studying at LSE, living in Europe, with those people ... my people.  Why do I feel so at home so many miles away from home, I don't know.  And I will be there soon enough.  I miss my friends.  And I will eventually return their calls and drop them a line or two (the first in months and years, for some....  Sorry!)  But my experiences lately have been really wonderful:  the week we spent in London was brilliant and massive!  I'll add photos to my gallery soon.  I'm looking forward to having this site completely transferred to my pop-up ad-free space.  My business is going well.  Enjoying the ease of professing myself a composer.  Teaching was a dream this past semester, and I can't wait for the spring semester to commence.  Meeting new people, beautiful and creative and kind.  Just like 2004 is bound to be....

Monday, August 11, 2003

Suffered from insomnia all last week, particularly Friday evening after being wakened by one of my black cats attacking the other. I got up, started reading the news, and became obsessed with the whole Bertrand Cantat murder scandal in Lithuania. I’ve become a huge fan of Noir Desir in the past couple of years even though I don’t speak any French. (I know what their songs are about from several articles published in the Polish press and translations of their lyrics.) I even went to their concert in Warsaw last year. Now he’s been charged with murder. It’s almost unfortunate his suicide attempt was unsuccessful. At least I will still be able to sing, “I’m lost but I’m not stranded.” The gravity of his situation makes me dizzy.

Speaking of the gravity of rock stars, Stephen and I went to the Pat Benatar concert at Billy Bob’s in Fort Worth Saturday night. I always know she’s going to sing “Hell is for Children” because, as she says, she sings it at every concert. But as someone who was abused as a child, I don’t much care to hear this song while I’m out enjoying live music, particularly after years of dealing with and getting beyond that abuse. At what point does a political/artistic statement become exploitation of those the artist seeks to aid? If you know the answer, please get back to me.

So much work to do this week, from writing my syllabus to composing more music under deadline and preparing for the radio show. Looking forward to the payoff. And now my chores beckon.

Thursday, August 7, 2003

The party came and went, and I was left wondering why I’ve allowed myself to remain somewhat isolated in this city for so long. Lately it seems that euro-Frankie—-my outgoing alter ego who talks to everyone and meets hordes of new people each week—-has been hibernating, but I’m trying to reawaken him with spirits and strong coffee. Perhaps he will peel back the covers just once more and venture outside of his head.

My membership at the YMCA has been great. Even despite the red-level ozone alert today, I’m looking forward to jogging my 2.5 miles on the treadmill and lifting weights, the routine I’ve maintained since joining. Already I feel better and can see improvements. My short-term goals are to knock off those extra 15 – 20 lbs. and to develop some endurance. Long-term goal: to have the body of a 20-year-old …. Yeah, you figure it out!

In two weeks, I begin teaching my American government course at a nearby college. The professional development will be great for the next year as I wait for my move to London. Wish I could be more excited about the way in which I was hired: the dean made it seem like I was being hired because they were desperate instead of appreciating the fact that I am more than qualified to teach this subject. For fuck’s sake, I have more graduate hours than the dean himself does! Just one more reason to resent working for others.

Monday, July 21, 2003

Last night I had the craziest dream with the most painfully obvious interpretation. I was working as a janitor at my elementary school, cleaning the trashcans of my former teachers who didn't even recognize their former star student. Then the school was hosting some kind of conference. Several scholars and professors I had known throughout my life attended as well as a former lover whom I still respect intellectually. (Yes, there is at least one! Ha ha!) I had to pick up after them while earnestly hoping no one recognized me. I woke up annoyed with my brain for producing such a pedestrian dream.

Saturday I mailed off my deferment request to the London School of Economics. I’m postponing my move to the U.K. until next autumn. It wasn’t necessarily a difficult decision, but accepting that decision wasn’t easy. Not knowing exactly what I’ll be doing for the next year is even more difficult. For someone who has always worked and planned a year or so into the future, I’m a bit at a loss for what to do in the immediacy of today, this week, this month, this summer, this year. I have my small business. I have my plans for the NPO/NGO. And I’ll continue working through them. No fear as I face this future that began a few days ago, just a little anxiety to work out.

Stephen & I finished painting our living room yesterday. The walls are beautiful and inspiring. Now just some minor touch-ups and new blinds. Nick & Toni came by last night; we opened the last bottle of last November’s Beaujolais nouveau. I’m looking forward to Shayne & Katy’s visit this evening over a home-cooked gourmet meal. I need to run to the store this afternoon to buy some supplies. And now that we’re a two-car household—at least for the short term—there’s no problem except my own unwillingness to step outside into this heat and pollution.

My time in Champaign/Urbana, Illinois, was productive. I wrote a little and began my research proposal for my Ph.D. As always, it was refreshing to have “guy” time with peers who challenge me intellectually. Finally ready, I think, to take the plunge and spend next summer in St. Petersburg. Then our weeklong vacation in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, was mostly blissful despite the (interior) heat and the vapidity of another Todd. Spent a couple mornings walking along the edge of Lake Michigan and drinking good Joe at Alterra Coffeehouse. I miss water more and more, particularly being able to climb to the top of my second-story apartment building in Shimonoseki to see the sea surround me on three sides. The second night in Milwaukee, Stephen, Mark & I went to Summer Fest to see Michelle Shocked and Hothouse Flowers perform; both concerts were great. And finally spent some time in Chicago visiting Sarah, a dobra kolezanka from our Fulbright year in Warsaw. Thanks, Sarah, for introducing me to the magical flavor of orchata!

Friday, June 27, 2003

5:34, and I feel like I’m really too drunk to enjoy the possibility that I stayed up all night having conversations within conversations with Sean from Cali, Doug from NY and Dave from Canada, eh? Or that I was truly capable of contributing to such conversations about topics that really are important to me. The sun rising outside my window reminds me that once this experience is over, the cycles of this world will continue, years after I’ve said goodbye to the friends and colleagues that have sharpened me and my intellect here.

Living in this dorm brings to mind living in Central/Eastern Europe: at random times throughout the day, the electricity and water are cut off with no explanation. I remember scheduling my showers in L’viv under such conditions, not knowing if I would indeed be able to wash the shampoo from my hair--before I finally shaved it all off, that is.

I’ve liked--for the most part--the interactions I’ve had with my fellow Slavists at this program. Despite the numerous inferiority complexes that sprout like mushrooms each morning, I (for the past few days) have actually been able to converse with fellow scholars and academics about life from my own perspective without (I hope) sounding too provincial or common. My fear, of course, is that I will be exposed as some kind of hack—a fear I remember quite vividly from the time I was at the autobiography conference in Beijing in 1999. My class background is always there to remind me that perhaps I have in several ways managed to deny (though to ultimately be fair, move beyond the limitations of) my socio-economic station into which I was born.

Monday, June 9, 2003

Since joining the working poor five weeks ago, I've been anxiously awaiting today when I would finally be able to return to my music, studies, writing, and my life. As if being a product of America's public education system didn't already tarnish my mind, serving an inner city elementary school as a teacher for the past five weeks certainly did away with any ideal notions about how this country educates its (poorer) citizens. I did what I could do, and now I will move on/beyond. So help me . . . .

This Sunday it's "All aboard!" for me: I'll board the Amtrak Texas Eagle at 16:30 in Dallas and arrive Monday in Champaign/Urbana, Illinois, where I'll participate in the Summer Research Laboratory on Russia & Eastern Europe at the University of Illinois from June 16 - 30. During this time, I'll be attending seminars, lectures and conferences as well as developing a project that I hope to get published this autumn. Afterwards, Stephen and I will meet up and spend a week's vacation in Chicago and Milwaukee.

Upon my return to Texas, I'll be in high gear, working nonstop on the next big phase. So help me . . . .

Sunday, March 23, 2003

Here’s something I started writing several weeks ago. It was going to be a little self-reflection entry (as if none of the others are!), but life somehow got in the way: (1) being woken up on my birthday by the sound of what we later learned was the space shuttle Columbia exploding overhead; (2) chronic bronchitis that turned nasty and wiped me out physically, especially after marching outside in the cold for two hours in an anti-war protest (photos to be posted soon); and (3) March always turns into “scholarship season,” when several deadlines for funds loom overhead and occupy my time and mind. Nevertheless, enjoy:
My approaching thirty-fifth birthday has caused me to reflect on my life quite a bit. And since the lunar new year begins on my birthday, this day seems much more magical. The past year in particular has definitely been my favorite out of several, making the typically angst and morose Frankie more optimistic about the future than was heretofore believed possible.
Peace to all who inhabit this earth.

Monday, January 13, 2003

Yesterday was the first (and possibly only) snow of the season. The flakes were huge and fell from the sky for most of the morning and afternoon. It was wonderful being out in the weather and then watching through the huge windows at the Meyerson Symphony Center during the Dallas Symphony Orchestra’s intermission as the snow continued blanketing the barren trees and evergreens just east of the building.

After the concert, we drove to Arlington and had dinner with friends who celebrated Stephen’s (and presumably my own) upcoming birthday. It was a pleasant conclusion to a busy and fulfilling weekend full of such events.

The weekend began with Shayne’s arrival with a six-pack of Foster’s. We worked some, and I auditioned the music from the techno album I’m writing. That evening friends and I met at Annette Lawrence’s opening at the Dunn & Brown Contemporary Gallery. Then twelve of us ate supper at La Duni, closing the restaurant down. Around midnight, Stephen, Shayne, Toni and I went to the Dallas Museum of Art to celebrate its centennial and enjoy free admittance. I finally headed to bed around 3:00 AM.

Saturday we picked out a Texas Ebony to grow as a bonsai indoors.

Today I’ve been taking it easy: waves of nausea and other unpleasantness have been trying to spoil my attitude. Continued reading the Macquarrie analysis of Existentialism throughout the afternoon while sipping herbal tea and vegetable soup with Stephen’s homemade bread. Trying to distill all this information and knowledge into some sort of course for either a continuing education department or to be delivered over the Internet. I’d love to have my own salon where we’d discuss literature and philosophy for hours. Yeah, thinking I’ll never have a job in corporate Amerika again. Instead I just may sit with the cats all day and watch the robins, cardinals and other birds eat from the feeders out my front window.

Wednesday, January 8, 2003

Little Baby New Year has been puking and squalling on the doorstep for a week now, and I haven't yet had the decency to grind his fragile limbs into meal and feed them to the cats.

This year I've resolved to

  • live more deliberately;
  • read more; and
  • move closer toward a purely vegan diet.

So far, so good.