Sunday, October 31, 2010

where you went when you were alive

I've been shitty about updating lately, but only because I've been super busy. Between a full time job, full time school and trying to maintain a social life, things have been...cramped. But I'm not complaining, because this has been such an excellent month.

One of my best friends from high school, Chad, came to visit me. It was sort of strange seeing him, because I last saw him three years ago, after he moved back from Florida. He'd moved there to be with a girl I couldn't stand and he didn't really talk to me for about 2 years. But when he came to visit, we fell back into our old camaraderie and inside jokes. We went to Angeli's and the aquarium and we got ice cream at Haagan Daaz. It was just so good to see him and reminisce.

I found out my friend Nancy works in the same building as I do, and we've been having lunch together a lot. I've gone to a couple events at her place (a movie night and pumpkin carving), which has been nice both for hanging out with people and for having a fun evening for free.

My hot water inexplicably stopped working for about a week, which sucked. I was telling a girl in my class about it and she insisted that I come take a shower at her house if it didn't get turned back on soon.

I volunteered at Hollygrove Market and got free produce. I wrote a story for about it, which should be published very soon. I'm working on another piece about why I volunteer and then I'll do another one on Nancy's theatre company, Girl Next Door Theater.

I did a lot of hanging out in Baton Rouge and I slept on Christie's couch and loved on my wonderful friends. I went to a wedding and ate brunch, I (re)met a guy(!), I went to Carlotta, I got drunk.

I had a series of conversations with Ravi about potentially starting to date other people and he has been nothing but awesome and loving and supportive. I told other friends about this and they were amazed. But it's really important to Ravi and I to be friends above everything else, to give each other mutual respect and support. I'm not being smug and saying my breakup is better than yours, but we were lucky to have a strong basis for our relationship and enough love between us to maintain it.

I went to Bourbon St. with another old friend, Michael, for Halloween (its been the month for reuniting with people) and we drank hand grenades, danced at gay bars, got loud and silly, screamed in shock at a girl walking down Bourbon with NO SHOES ON (NEVER DO THIS.) and got Popeyes' fried chicken at 1am. This morning, we went walking, had lunch at Panchitas and bought vintage t-shirts at Skip 'n' Whistle.

The job has been good and things are going really well at school. My lit. crit. professor invited me to a seminar, being held by a very prominent critic. He specifically mentioned that only certain students were being invited. :D I'm sad that I can't take any English classes next semester, but I'm scheduling 4 MLA classes, so it might actually be possible for me to complete this degree in a year and a half, like I want to do.

Today, I was walking down Carrollton, to go get an iced coffee from Z'OTZ, and I was listening to BSS. It reminded me of when I first moved here. I'd walk to Oak St. a lot, just to get out of the house, and those walks were sort of wondrous for me--the idea that I was walking around MY neighborhood in New Orleans, my new home, coming to terms with being alone and unemployed. I was so sad, but also happy in a burgeoning way, confused, lost but determined. All that washed over me as I walked and then I thought about how much better things have gotten in the past few months, how happy I was right there, right now. This is bliss.

101 in 1001- October update

18) Read 10 books from the Bloom Canon.
1) Jane Austen Pride and Prejudice
Yes, I'd never read Pride and Prejudice. Yes, this might make me a bad English major. What might make me a worse one is that, while I thought it was a good page turner, I didn't think it was an amazing book. I get the importance of it, but I'm going to stick with E. Bronte.

19) Read 1 unassigned book per month.
October '10- Stuart Berman- This Book is Broken: A Broken Social Scene Story
This was a pretty decent book. It does a great job of discussing the formation of the band, but I thought it kind of avoided discussing the conflict that is mentioned later in the book. Considering half the book is devoted to pre-band talk, it was sort of odd to gloss over things like relationships, divorces and, more pertinently, the almost-break up of the group. This could be due to the fact that the book was written by a friend of the band. Nevertheless, it was an informative read and there are some great pictures.

23) See 26 movies I've never seen, starting with each letter of the alphabet.
A- Ajami (2009)
E- Effi Briest (1974)
V- Volcano (1997)

24) Learn one new word a week.
Irruption- enter forcibly or suddenly
Epiphenomenon- a secondary effect or byproduct that arises from but does not causally influence a process
Vadose- relating to or denoting underground water above the water table
Prelapsarian- characteristic of the time before the Fall of Man; innocent and unspoiled

67) Learn to make 6 different cocktails from memory
1) Pimm's Cup (from the Napoleon House)
1 1/4 oz. Pimms #1
3 oz. lemonade
Cucumber slices

Pour Pimms and lemonade over ice. Top off with 7-Up. Garnish with cucumber (I like to muddle the cucumber into the drink before putting it over ice)

73) Create an organized filing system for important documents.
Now my tax forms, passport, birth certificate, lease, and financial aid documents each have a place to live that isn't "giant stack shoved in a desk drawer!"

Full list here

Friday, October 22, 2010

"used to be one of the rotten ones and I liked you for that"

Yesterday in my literary criticism class, we were talking about Lacan's Mirror Stage and my teacher kept restating what the Mirror Stage was and how it "works." He followed this by saying, "I know I'm repeating myself, but this is a difficult point to understand. Difficult but important."

Sometimes I feel like that's the importance of this blog for me. I know I write a lot about the same topics, sometimes in the same way. But I'm going through something so huge right now, that I have to keep re-articulating it to myself, in every way that I know how to understand it because it's important to me to get it down. Important because I know I will want to read this over at some point in the future and I will want to know/reexperience what I was feeling here.

And in that vein of Lacan (sorry guys, we're taking a trip down psychoanalytic lane), I keep thinking to myself that the words are never going to be enough, that they will never be able to express the cadence of the emotions I've experienced in these past few months--those things are bigger than language, but the realm of language is all I have to express them, so I have to keep repeating it with all the words I know, cover as many facets of it as possible and hope that I'm giving myself a picture complete enough that I'll be able to evoke some of those feelings.

So I hope I don't become too irritating when I try to express all this clutter in my head, when I re-express it over and over and over.

Living in New Orleans is funny for me. Growing up so close to NOLA has the duel function of giving me more than a passing familiarity with the city but, within that, an understanding of how dear New Orleanians hold their city. The other day, I was talking to Erin and we talked about Chicago winter. She said she was scared of it and I said, "But once you get through it, you'll be a true Chicagoean!" And perhaps (of COURSE) a native Chicagoean would have something to say about that, but it's a measure of...of what? Of being true to a city, I suppose. But here, I always have Katrina lurking in the background, that thought of the worst thing one could tough out in this city, the biggest thing it could demand of its residents. When people from New Orleans talk about New Orleans, they are almost always talking about the city in pre and post terms. It has become one of those defining moments for New Orleans. I wasn't here for that and I'm glad I wasn't, but in some sense, Katrina put up a wall. You can belong to this city, you can call yourself a New Orleanian and embrace this culture, but if you want to be embraced in return, there's a certain amount of work to do and a piece of yourself that I think you must be willing to give.

I grew up loving New Orleans in a way that many who grew up in South Louisiana are probably familiar with--loving it as a city of escape. But moving here, being here, has been a metamorphosis of that love. I started wanting to belong here, be someone of here. I can imagine how this pales in comparison to the love of this city that a native feels, but it grows everyday. It grows when I merge on the interstate and pass the Superdome, when I have to take a "New Orleans left" to get home, when I drive down St. Charles, when I walk to is that part of myself that is giving itself over to becoming one with this place, that is becoming inextricably attached to everything that New Orleans represents for me. And I think that, mostly, that's what this city demands. An unbreakable commitment that is beyond expression, but not beyond feeling.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

"come on, it's such a joy"

I've spent most of this week reeling from the sudden change to my schedule. When I was unemployed, I'd usually stay up til 2 or 3 am, sleep til 11 then spend the rest of the day reading and going to class. Now, I feel like I'm back in my undergrad days. I'm particularly unlucky to have acquired a job right in the middle of midterms; I put off a midterm that I then realized was due a day earlier than I had originally assumed. This midterm is important to me because a) it's for literary criticism, a subject dear to me and b) the teacher is someone I very much hope to impress because I would like a recommendation letter from him when Ph.D time comes. So I worked from 10pm until 5am. I decided to go to bed at that time, because I only had a few more quote to organize and a conclusion to write before I turned it in later in the day. But I drank a huge glass of iced coffee around midnight and had paper-writing jitters, so I rolled around in bed for an hour, despite employing every single old method for overcoming insomnia that my old therapist gave me. The last time I looked at the clock, it was 5:35 and I guess I dozed off somewhere around there. I woke up at 6:50 and took a hot shower. That water could not get hot enough. I felt clammy and sick and I just wanted to be warm. I got out, wrapped up in a towel and finished the paper on the bathroom floor. Then I went to work and, later, class, on one hour of sleep. When I was finally able to sleep last night, it was my deepest sleep in recent memory. I haven't really been sleeping well since the breakup, waking up at least twice a night and sleeping very lightly. Last night, I slept for 11 hours, slept so hard that I don't even remember dreaming and when I woke up, I felt like I was still asleep. 

But I like the job well enough (though apparently I walked right into some sort of lady secretary turf war that my trainer keeps trying to enlist me in). I actually hope they give me more work than what I currently have, otherwise, I think I'm going to be bored a lot. I have my own office, I'm working for 4 very friendly doctors and most of my co-workers seem amiable enough. But there is one thing--everyone there calls me Amanda. This started because it was what was on my application and resume. When they called me for an interview, I didn't want to establish any kind of casualness for fear of looking unprofessional (yeah, I don't know.). Then I felt silly saying, "By the way, call me 'Mandi'" after 3 meetings. So I've been answering to and introducing myself as "Amanda." This has also happened in my English class, because I was intimidated by my teacher at first. Being called "Amanda" is uncanny for me in a way. I am just extraordinarily unaccustomed to it. The only time I'm ever called "Amanda" is when my friends are joking with me. My mom has called me by "Amanda" 3 times, ever. Even just seeing it typed out is strange to me--I have a "that's not my name" feeling toward it. I've slowly started correcting a few people here and there, so maybe it will change. But admittedly, there is this part of me that likes the feeling of having assumed some sort of fake identity (in the form of my "real" name). 

One thing I don't like about the new job is that I only get paid once a month, at the end of each month. Because of that, I've had to go off a lot of medication, including my birth control, which is $47 until I hit my deductible. The birth control will be the first thing to come back when I get money (trust me when I say that I am not a good person to be around when not on my BC) but the rest of it may have to wait, because I'll be playing catch up with this first paycheck.

I'm glad that it finally feels like life coming together, that it's getting good in a fuller sense (i.e. not just good moments in a sea of "okay" or sometimes "not okay" and "bad"). Autumn is here, accompanied by some absolutely gorgeous weather. I have an income. I have three stories on the roster for GoodNola. I am having a mild flirtation with a guy in my class. Classes are going well. I've lost (more) weight. I met some people and hopefully I'll work up the nerve to hang out with them again (I don't think I'd realized how bad my social anxiety had gotten until I was nearly overcome with fear when I went to meet Nancy the other night and there was a large crowd of strangers in her midst, strangers I knew I would have to talk to. I ended up having a lovely evening and meeting a new friendly person). I've gotten into a habit of writing little cards and notes to people, which makes me exceedingly happy because I find great joy in handwritten messages (sorry about my penmanship, everyone). I made up with an old old friend and we've talked on the phone twice this week. He's coming to visit and take me to the aquarium this weekend. It feels good to do things. I know that's the simplest sentence ever, but it's true and it is. 

I just can't do people. Why you gotta be so expensive, birth control?

class and human practice

...we have to say first that there are no relations between literature and society in that abstracted way. The literature is there from the beginning as a practice in the society. Indeed until it and all other practices are present, the society cannot be seen as fully formed. A society is not is not fully available for analysis until each of its practices are included. But if we make that emphasis we must make a corresponding emphasis: that we cannot separate literature and art from other kinds of social practice, in such a way as to make them subject to quite special and distinct laws. They may have quite specific features as practices, but they cannot be separated from the general social process. Indeed one way of emphasizing this is to say, to insist, that literature is not restricted to operating in any one of the sectors I have been seeking to describe in this model. It would be easy to say, it is a familiar rhetoric, that literature operates in the emergent cultural sector, that it represents the new feelings, the new meanings, the new values. We might persuade ourselves of this theoretically, by abstract argument, but when we read much of literature, over the whole range, without the sleight-of-hand of calling Literature only that which we have already selected as embodying certain meanings and values at a certain scale of intensity, we are bound to recognize that the act of writing, the practices of discourse in writing and speech, the making of novels and poems and plays and theories, all this activity takes place in all areas of the culture. 
-Raymond Williams, "Base and Superstructure in Marxist Cultural Theory"

Saturday, October 9, 2010

"why must I feel like that?"

Sometimes, when you're in a funky mood, the best thing you can do is actually bring the funk.
P-Funk + dining room dancing= invigorating.

Friday, October 1, 2010

101 in 1001- September update

14) Finish my correspondence course.
As noted here, I decided to just drop the correspondence course because I simply cannot complete it in time without totally derailing my more important grad school studies. Even then, I'm not sure it'd be possible. My first list failure. Boo. Maybe I'll have money/inclination to take it again within these next 3 years. I probably won't.

19) Read 1 unassigned book per month.
July '10- Ann Patchett Run
August '10- Alice Munro Lives of Girls and Women
September '10- John Berendt Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil

23) See 26 movies I've never seen, starting with each letter of the alphabet.
L- Louder Than Bombs (Glosniej od bomb) (2001)
(going with the English title here for my own purposes and because I watched and understood it with subtitles.)

24) Learn 1 new word a week and use it.
We're officially striking the "use it" part of this from the record. I simply don't talk to enough people lately to bust out my new words and Marla doesn't care. Your words for September are as follows:
Instantiate- represent as or by an instance
Propaedeutic- serving as a preliminary instruction or as an introduction to further study
Internecine- destructive to both sides in a conflict
Froward- (of a person) difficult to deal with; contrary
(I don't know if I should feel smug/cheerful/embarrassed that all of these came form my own reading, not from's "Word of the Day." I think I will go with a mix of all 3, maybe with "smug" coming out ahead by just a HAIR.)

62) Visit 10 historical sites in New Orleans.
1) Preservation Hall- I know this isn't an actual National Historic Landmark, but I feel like it's historic enough to warrant mention on this list. Christie and I did this on our Satchmo Walking Tour. I'd love to go back and actually hear some music when I get money.
2) Lafitte's Blacksmith Shop- I had actually never heard of this place. My uncle took my cousin and me here when she was in town visiting from Oregon. I had a Coke, because I felt unwell. Maybe next time, I will go swill rum.

80) Update and start reusing iCal.
If I stop using it, I will withdraw this, but for now, I have been using iCal non-stop. I even list my bills on there (due and paid dates)!


Also, some housekeeping!:
36) Do 200 sit-ups in one sitting.
This has been edited from 100 to 200 sit ups, due to this challenge.

A question for you (this is probably just a question for Ann, but anyone else, feel free to chime in)!--Should I add any parades to this list?
88) Go to all the major Mardi Gras parades.
Krewe du Vieux

Full list here


Here are some great reasons to live alone:
-When you go on a week-long study binge, in which you are regularly throwing things in pots and eating them over the stove while you peruse Dangerous Liaisons and you don't have time to wash that pot and spoon, or the stack of dishes in the sink, no one will bitch about it.
-You can leave the bathroom door open
-For that matter, you have unlimited access to the bathroom (this is getting into dangerous "poop entry" territory)
-You can regularly walking around in a towel/robe/t-shirt without bitchery.
-The act of putting on The Pixies "Oh My Golly", pumping your fists in the air like you're a fucking ROCK STAR and loudly singing the lyrics will not piss off someone in another room (don't worry, it's not loud enough to piss off the neighbors) (I hope.) (except maybe that kind of bitchy girl who lives above me.) Bonus: you get to feel like a fucking ROCK STAR.