Tuesday, January 31, 2012

101 in 1001- January update

11) Apply to 5 MA/Ph.D programs that I really want to attend.
3) Stanford University's English Ph.D
4) Indiana University Bloomington Gender Studies Ph.D
5) Rutgers' Women's and Gender Studies Ph.D
6) Vanderbilt University's English Ph.D

16) Donate $100 a year to charity.
STAIR- $15

19) Read 1 unassigned book per month.
(almost caught up!)
September '11- Molly Wizenberg A Homemade Life
This was a sweet and quick read, a combination memoir and cookbook. I read Molly's blog Orangette, so it was nice to get a little more personal and to see some new recipes.
October '11- Stephen King Hearts in Atlantis
I wrote about the first novella in Hearts in Atlantis here. The book is actually two novellas and three short stories, all sharing some characters. I found the rest of the book to be very good as well, though the short stories didn't hold my attention as well as the novellas.
November '11- Moira Crone A Period of Confinement
This book irritated the shit out of me. I began reading it because I was thinking about using it for my thesis. It starts out well, but by the middle, I was convinced that Crone's Richard was the most irritating and unlikable male character ever. The end of the book nearly made me throw it across the room. I don't want to totally spoil it, but I need to bitch so POTENTIAL SPOILER ALERT. The main character, Alma, is this kind of confused woman in her late 20's, struggling with her identity. She is surrounded by lots of unlikable people, including her boyfriend Richard, who gets her pregnant. I cannot stress how much this dude sucks. He's clingy and aggressive and creepy and insulting. Alma's parents are fucking wackjobs, both of them basically blame Alma for her problems and their own, all Alma's friends tell her how much she sucks and eventually, she leaves. This isn't a spoiler; it's how the book opens. But THEN, at the end of the book, ALL IS REDEEMED except NONE OF THESE PEOPLE HAVE CHANGED AT ALL and suddenly Richard is a sympathetic character and just...no. It actually made me feel hopeless. So, much as I like Moira Crone's short stories, I can't recommend this novel.

23) See 26 movies I've never seen, starting with each letter of the alphabet.
W- Walk the Line (2005)

24) Learn 1 new word a week.
Primipara- a woman who is giving birth for the first time.
Numinous- having a strong religious or spiritual quality; indicating or suggesting the presence of a divinity
Eschatologically- The branch of theology that is concerned with the end of the world or of humankind.
Pappy- soft and bland

28) See all of these Mindfuck movies.
Primer (2004)
Oh, god. What a giant mindfuck this movie is. Interesting and certainly thought-provoking, but I definitely see why people say they watch it twice in a row.

96) Attend 10 cultural events.
4) Baton Rouge Gallery’s Surreal Salon IV

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

2011 wordsoup

All 101 in 1001 2011 words!

Prolix- (of speech or writing) using or containing too many words; tediously lengthy. (Jan. wk. 1)
Deontological- The study of the nature of duty and obligation. (Jan. wk. 2)
Grangerize- To augment the illustrative content of (a book) by inserting additional prints, drawings, engravings, etc., not included in the original volume. (Jan. wk. 3)
Autarchy- Absolute sovereignty; absolute government. (Jan. wk. 4)
Vivipary- Development of the embryo inside the body of the mother, leading to live birth. (Feb. wk. 1)
Semioclasm- "Sign breaking;" the defiling of the sacred status of signs. (from Barthes) (Feb. wk. 2)
Etiolated- Having lost vigor or substance; feeble. (Feb. wk. 3)
Verdictive- A speech act whereby a judgment is issued. (Feb. wk. 4)
Ruth- pity or compassion
Metalepsis- a figure of speech in which one thing is referred to by something else which is only remotely associated with it
Pellucid- clear in meaning, expression, or style
Gravamen- the part of an accusation that weighs most heavily against the accused; the substantial part of a charge or complaint
Aphanisis- denotes the disappearance of sexual desire
Jouissance- (French) denotes "pleasure" or "enjoyment."
The term has a sexual connotation (i.e., orgasm) lacking in the English word "enjoyment"
Abnegation- to refuse or deny oneself
Hale- free from disease or infirmity; robust; vigorous
Obdurate- unmoved by persuasion, pity, or tender feelings
Vacivity- emptiness
Antipelargy- reciprocal or mutual kindness
Omniregency- complete authority
Quaeritate- to ask
Apposite- apt in the circumstances or in relation to something
Sthenic- of or having a high or excessive level of strength and energy
Aseity- refers to the property by which a being exists of and from itself, or exists as so-and-such of and from itself
Phlogiston- fictional fire-like element which was believed to be contained within combustible bodies and released during combustion
Impecunious- having no money
Sedulity- thoroughness
Inerrancy- infallibility
Contumacious- stubborn
Panegyric- elaborate praise
Foment- To arouse of incite
Solecism- grammatical mistake; blunder in speech
Meretricious- gaudy; falsely attractive
Lissome- easily flexed; limber; agile
Tacent- silent
Cupidity- greed; strong desire
Rebarbative- causing annoyance or irritation
Tyro- a beginner; a novice
Obarmate- to arm against
Impanate- embodied in bread (o.O)
Damier- large-squared pattern
Etrier- a short rope ladder with a few rungs of wood or metal
Somnambulant- walking or having the habit of walking while asleep
Glazier- One who cuts and fits panes of glass, as for windows
Presentment- semblance
Specie- A coin or coins of gold, silver, copper, or other metal
Ausculation- the action of listening to sounds from the heart, lungs, or other organs, typically with a stethoscope, as a part of medical diagnosis
Tocsin- an alarm bell or signal
Abstersion- the act of wiping clean; a cleansing; a purging
Voltaic- of or relating to electricity produced by chemical action in a primary battery; galvanic

2010 words here

Monday, January 23, 2012

"the moment that I step outside/so many reasons for me to run and hide"

When I was a teenager, I used to have awful bouts of insomnia. My mom insisted it was because I didn't let my brain wind down--I needed to get off the computer, quit reading, take a hot bath, and let myself relax. What she didn't understand is that once I get anxious about something(s), it's very difficult for me to shut my mind off. The byproduct of being an active reader is an active imagination and, in turn, a mind capable of a lot of wandering. Sometimes this is nice. I don't get bored easily. But when I'm stressed out, my mind won't shut off. It just keeps wandering.

Last night, I exhausted myself to the point of passing out almost immediately. But Richie was tossing and turning from heartburn and that, combined with the heat in my bedroom, woke me up. I got him some Nexium, cranked the A/C up, turned a fan on and laid back down...and then stayed awake worrying about all kinds of stuff. I checked my email at 4am to see if my professor had written me back. I resisted the urge to do thesis research. I calculated how many days until payday and how much money I had. I worried about Marla. I checked on Richie again. I thought about my upcoming trip to Chicago. I worried about stuff at work.

A lot of this stress is thesis related. Due to a combination of things, I still haven't even submitted my thesis proposal. The deadline for the final draft is April 2. I don't even know if my adviser will accept it at this point. I haven't officially sat a panel. The more research I do, the more research needs to be done. I worry I'm complicating things, then I worry that I'm not going in-depth enough. I feel like I can finish it by March and revise by April, then I worry that I'm fooling myself.

I can graduate without it, sure. But I said in my statements of purpose to various grad schools that I was writing a thesis. And, I WANT to write a thesis. Badly. I want to do it because I want a tangible body of work I can point to, a proof of my scholarship. I want to push myself. I want to DO something, not just learn something. And the prospect of that not happening is disappointing to me on a level I can't even begin to describe. Not to mention the added feeling that I would be letting so many people down, the feeling that my degree would be, in effect, worthless without a thesis.

The best I can do is wait for my adviser to get back in town, see what he says and work my ass off until that happens. And keep my fingers crossed.

eff r.p.

(a discussion about the article Let's Be Clear, Ron Paul Fucking Sucks. Here Are 20 Reasons Why)

Ravi: "People weren't dying from bad drugs before we had the FDA," he has said, "I mean, it just didn't happen."
not to mention the whole "we didn't have drugs being developed then like they are now" thing
and the fact that the creation of the FDA was more about food issues.
somebody needs to read their upton sinclair
god. ron paul is such a FUCKING IDIOT. I hate it when people are all "oh he's so smart, he's awesome!"
Ravi: i honestly don't know much about him
and admittedly he does seem like an alright guy when we're talking about conservative picks
but as that article says, on the surface
Me: no. no he doesn't.
yeah, maybe on the surface
ron paul is about individual liberties to the detriment of the country
and not even really individual ones. just states' rights
Ravi: it seems he's completely inconsistent on them though
Me: which is pretty idiotic, because letting each state make its own laws does not a "united' states make.
Ravi: "And he wants to end birthright citizenship, which says you're an American citizen if you were born in America, whether or not your parents were citizens themselves."
so does he want the Native Americans to kick everyone out?
Me: one wonders.
seriously, I cannot stand him.
Ravi: "You're probably getting the impression by now that Ron Paul thinks that pretty much everything the federal government does is unconstitutional. That's because Ron Paul thinks that pretty much everything the federal government does is unconstitutional."
Me: it makes me see red when people defend him
my favorite is that he is a fucking doctor, a man who practices science
and he doesn't believe in evolution
Ravi: i think there are plenty of those
in my experience anyway
i guess they think they're god's healers or some shit
Me: yeah there are. and it still baffles me
like...you see disease. you see evolution on THE MOST BASIC LEVEL
it just makes me want to punch myself repeatedly in the face
Ravi: but you forget
AIDS is god's work
sent to punish sinners
Me: what about the flu?
Ravi: that's why it has magical mutation powers
Me: what about staph?
Ravi: god hates birds and pigs
Me: what about mrsa?
what about antibiotic-resistant disease?
Ravi: ok, god hates lots of things

Me: on another note:
R**** F*******:
Rick Santorum's fundraising campaign is really called "C.U.M."?
Conservatives Unite Moneybomb | Rick Santorum For President

Friday, January 20, 2012

anticipated pride

Ross: what are you up to tonight?
Me: thesising
Ross: word
how's that going?
Me: ha
I have a stack of shaky research and nothing incredibly solid just yet. but getting there. slowly slowly
the proposal that is. but so much of the proposal is actually the research that must be done for the thesis itself
it has a title now, and chapter descriptions!
I have a feeling finishing this will be the proudest I've ever been of myself. which is a strange thing, anticipated pride. but a good one.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

thesis emesis

Time to get started.

Update! IT HAS A (tentative) TITLE. "'Figures of Possibility:' Freaks in Female Post-Southern Renaissance Literature."

Other considered titles, both real and fake:
"'Do You Think I Will Grow Into A Freak?' Abject Identities in P-S Ren. Lit."
"Lady in My Head and a Freak in the Streets: Identity and Abjection in P-S Ren. Lit."
"Freaking Femininity: Gender, Sex, and Identity in Female P-S Ren. Lit."
"Freak Like Me: Portrayals of Identity in Fem. P-S Ren. Lit."

Monday, January 16, 2012

"A disposition fell over me"

You know when you're so sick that you reach that dazed state where you feel like you'll never not feel this awful? I felt like that this morning. I have bronchitis and, on top of that, a sinus infection (and suddenly, out of left field, a sore throat that is hopefully from sinus drip and not a manifestation of some other ugliness). I'm going on Day 5 of sickness. Every other morning, I've felt progressively worse, so when I woke up this morning and DIDN'T feel like I had 50 pounds of mud sitting in my chest, I thought I was getting better. But it crept up on me, and I ended up having a coughing spell so bad that, when I tried to get up and go get water, I nearly fell into the kitchen counter and my knees buckled from dizziness. Richie admonished me and led me back to bed, where I spent the next 3 hours. I'm at Z'otz now, drinking honey-spiked lemon ginger tea and trying to avoid others while I do thesis work (or, you know, procrastinate.)

I finished all of my Ph.D applications, so at least I don't have that to worry about anymore, unless I don't get accepted anywhere. And maybe not even then. I called my dad about some car problems (more on that in a second) and he asked me about the Ph.D stuff. My parents both REALLY want me to go to LSU because they don't want me to leave home, but I keep trying to impress upon them how much a Ph.D program matters for later job prospects. It's a little amusing, in a way, because when I've gotten down about this whole business, particularly the "getting a job afterwards" part, they've both been practically appalled that I would dare question my own ability. My parents believe in me a lot more than I believe in myself, which is sort of annoying in its way, because they're so naive about all of this. To my concerns about a job, my mom said, "You can always be a writer!" I asked, "A writer of WHAT?" "I don't know, like a journalist?" *headdesk* Nevertheless, as much as they can upset me, I also appreciate their unwavering support. Thank god for people in my life that have put up with me while I've continually stressed, complained, rent clothing, etc.

In the end, I applied to 3 English programs and 3 WGS programs. LSU, Stanford, and Vandy for English and OSU, Rutgers, and Indiana for WGS. I'd be happy to get into any of them, especially (obviously), Stanford. I thought I'd end up applying to some cop-out schools, but when it came down to it I decided that I was just going to go for it and apply to places I really want to attend. The thing is, I still have a fair amount of ambivalence when it comes to the Ph.D. I applied, in the end, because I felt like I owed it to myself to take the chance. I feel like I would regret it if I waited or didn't do it at all. If I don't get in, I will probably still find a job I'm more interested in and I'll bum around New Orleans a little longer.

This no longer fits with the rest of this post but since I mentioned it above, my car is quickly falling apart. The radiator is malfunctioning again (after months of dealing with this last year), someone busted the glass in my side view mirror, the passenger side inside door handle came off (making it the second handle-less door in the car, the first being the driver's door), the airbag sensor light keeps flashing at me and a parking light is out. I'm tempted to go drive it to the projects, leave the keys in the ignition, and claim the insurance money.

I suppose that's enough procrastinating for now. Back to the grind and here's hoping I don't blow out my bronchial tubes.

Friday, January 13, 2012

a good story

I started reading Stephen King's Hearts in Atlantis tonight. I know some people might scoff at that--King isn't exactly considered the Western Canon--but I've always enjoyed his books and tonight, I was reminded of why.

In Hearts in Atlantis, there's this passage:
"There are also books full of great writing that don't have very good stories. Read sometimes for the story, Bobby. Don't be like the book-snobs who won't do that. Read sometimes for the words--the language. Don't be like the play-it-safers that won't do that. But when you find a book that has both a good story and good words, treasure that book.

Stephen King might not write literary masterpieces, but he writes very good stories. He certainly has his hallmarks (some might say "crutches")--childhood characters growing up, New England, the 1950's and 60's, a kind of magic realism (someone out there is giving this blog a scathing look. How DARE I use that term for Stephen King!)--but I've never read a story by him that didn't suck me in, even Gerald's Game, which still makes me want to throw up when I think about the description of Jessie's wrists scraping against the handcuffs.

That is the power of King's writing. Do you know how long it's been since I read Gerald's Game? At least 10 years. Maybe more. But it sticks with me. Because what King is very very good at is tapping into a sense of...creepiness. Of something not quite right in the world. His use of the supernatural is a means of hyperbolically making this obvious, but it's also never totally questionable in the realms of his stories because, by the time it's revealed, the sense that something is wrong seems to obvious already. And it seems obvious because that something wrong is very familiar to the reader. The idea that something bad is such an obvious part of life.

I would also argue that this is why King uses child protagonists so often. Because it is in childhood that many of us hone this kind of acute distrust of the world, in ways that are fantastical to an outsider, but totally real to us. And these are the fears that tend to stick, despite all reasoning to the contrary. It's why I still like to shut my door most of the way before I go to bed (but not all of the way, because of Marla, but also because something about that also seems as inherently unsafe as leaving the invitation of an open door. It's why I sleep with the undersides of my wrists covered up--because I have had this fear for as long as I can remember (even now, a bigger part of my mind than I want to admit worries that writing it here will give someone the idea to make it come true) that someone will come in my room at night, slit my wrists and make it look like a suicide. It's why I'll always sleep on a bed or couch with my face as far away from the door as I can be--because it feels like they/it/? are less likely to see me...and me, less likely to see them. Rational? Of course not. But that kind of lurking wariness and deeply seated fear of what is possible and evil is, I think, something each of us carries in our own way. And King is able to tap into it, use it to set the mood of his stories and carry the plot.

It's not just books like IT (which freaks me out more as an adult [I first read IT when I was 11], precisely because I think about this stuff so much), and Needful Things, and Insomnia (the first King book I read in its entirety, a favorite and one that also comes to mind any time I see "lavender" used to describe a gay man) that are able to evoke these thoughts and emotions. I like to remind people that King also wrote Rita Hayworth and Shawshank Redemption, The Body (later turned into Stand By Me, which does a pretty good job of holding onto the darkness of the story), and Apt Pupil, which is, frankly, horrifying. All of them are. Horrifying is really the best word, I think. King's stories give me the sense of impending doom, but that doom is never something so large scale as the world ending. It's just a fundamental change in life, something that will irrevocably crack the foundations of your being. You know the bad is coming in his books, that the bad will be very very bad, but that it can't be stopped and you'll have to keep reading to see if the character survives. And, sometimes they don't. Sometimes, 11 year old kids commit suicide in Stephen King novels.

Anyhow. I promise I'm not drunk or stoned out of my mind and if it wasn't so late and my mind wasn't whirling, I would have written a concise 2 paragraph entry on this, instead of everything above. But if you read it and you haven't read King (or don't like him), I hope maybe you'll give him a second chance. And that, a word of caution, you won't choose to do so late on a night when it's cold out and you're slightly sad. Because, otherwise, you might wind up keyed up, thinking about the darkness of life and freezing up at the thumps outside your window. But, it's a good story.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012


(texting with Travis, who is white)
Travis: Some dude drove by us last night and yelled "BUNCHA N*****S."
Me: Clearly this is a man who doesn't see color.
Travis: He's a postmodern racist.

Saturday, January 7, 2012

simply perfect

Today, I woke up curled up with Richie on Christie's couch. I spent the next hour alternately reading and napping until Josh woke up and made us coffee in a measuring cup. Christie came home and we all ate eggs and spinach and yogurt and cold leftover veggie stew. Richie commented that my shirt was completely see-through, to which I replied, "Everyone here has seen my tits anyway."

Christie left, I dropped Richie off to do some gathering up at his old house and Josh and I had coffee at Highland. We had a really great talk while I painted my fingernails mustard colored.

Josh left, I picked up Richie, got my car washed, then we went to the Baton Rouge Gallery and browsed the Surrealist art show. I found an artist I was interested in. The guy at the desk told me her work was on Etsy for a quarter of the price being charged in the gallery.

Richie and I took a long stroll around City Park, stopping to climb in old oak trees and take photos of ducks. Right now, we're at Garden District Coffee where I'm drinking Earl Grey and he's napping on a jacket. We're killing time until we go watch the Saints game with friends.

Sometimes, there are days that are so perfect in their simplicity.

Tuesday, January 3, 2012


So this is the new year
And I have no resolutions
For self assigned penance
For problems with easy solutions

At the beginning of 2011, I made a list of all the things that had happened in the previous year. I don't feel such a need to reflect on 2011. It, in the end, wasn't really the happiest year of my life. It was a tough year where I lost people, both to death and irreconcilable differences. I can't even work up the vigor to be pissed off at 2011...I'm just tired and I don't want to think about it. But, with the new year, I did think back to this time last year.

New Year's Eve 2010 was documented here. A person who believes in Fate might find that kind of ushering in to be rather foreboding. I was incredibly sad that night, sadder than I cared to admit or, really, even recognize. I later tried to blame that sadness on someone else, but really, it wasn't anyone's fault. 2010 had been a weird, weird year and I think that the end of that year was too much to deal with at the time.

This NYE was vastly different. I party hopped with friends and Richie, toasted to the New Year at Snake and Jake's, kissed my boyfriend, then went neighborhood wandering. A group of us ended up back at my house, listening to records, talking, cuddling on my couch and enjoying our friendships. It was, in the end, a night of friends and gratitude and delight, a night so full that it lasted until 5:30am. We napped, then Richie and I got up and made gumbo and cookies and French press coffee and everyone gathered in my dining room and ate. I spent the rest of the evening wrapped up with Richie, watching movies.

When part of our group returned to my house at around 4am on NYE night, they asked what we'd been up to and Christie said, "Well, we walked around and then...we stopped." I said, "We stopped. That was our night." Annie stated, "2012: We Stopped." It's been our joking slogan, fitting in so many ways (the end is nigh, friends!), but I also like "2012: We're Full."

One reflection on 2011 that I think is fitting is this one:
I don't really do the whole New Year resolutions thing, because my resolution is always to try and be a better person, but I think part of that is taking care of myself and not getting so lost in other people and what I think they think of me. Not going crazy and losing my shit. Not trying to perpetuate relationships with people who could not give a fuck less.
2010 was a year of massive emotional upheaval. 2011 was about fine tuning my responses to that, about cleaning up my life a little. In that sense, I think I achieved my resolution. I've made some really wonderful connections in 2011, I've filtered out people that don't matter or who don't care, and I've tried to be kind in my interactions with both. I'd argue that sometimes kindness is sternness or knowing when to walk away. I've dealt with some incredibly difficult situations this year and every time, I was surrounded by people who genuinely cared about my well-being. I hope I've been that person to them as well.

So, in that spirit, I don't have a staunch 2012 resolution. The year promises to be a rather drastic one--I'll graduate from Tulane, I'll know whether or not I got into a Ph.D program (and if I did, I may have to move, which will come with it's own set of issues), I have two trips planned for this year (Chicago and San Francisco). I will continue to work, really work, toward being the best friend, daughter, sister, girlfriend, person I can be, for everyone else and for myself. I will try and better myself, try and push myself a little more and not get mired down in the idea that I can't do it, I will make time for fun, and try to sleep more, and love fully. It isn't a penance, it's just the right thing to do.

Monday, January 2, 2012

101 in 1001- December update

11) Apply to 5 MA/Ph.D programs that I really want to attend.
1) The Ohio State University's Women's, Gender and Sexuality Studies Ph.D
2) Louisiana State University's English Ph.D

19) Read 1 unassigned book per month.
T.C. Boyle The Women
This book is historical fiction about the various wives and lovers of Frank Lloyd Wright. It took me forever to get through because various life things kept occurring but I was finally able to finish it right at the end of the month. The book is incredibly well-written and I've always thought T.C. Boyle is an excellent writer, but toward the middle, I began to feel like it was a wee bit misogynistic. It took me out of the reading experience a bit and reminded me that I had similar thoughts about Boyle's The Road to Wellville. There always seems to be this kind of faint disdain toward female characters that is used to dismiss faults of the male protagonist. At the end of this, Wright was lauded as a great man and friend, but also a "poor, poor man." I was left feeling pretty disgusted with him. That said, I recommend the book.

24) Learn 1 new word a week.
Ausculation- the action of listening to sounds from the heart, lungs, or other organs, typically with a stethoscope, as a part of medical diagnosis
Tocsin- an alarm bell or signal
Abstersion- the act of wiping clean; a cleansing; a purging
Voltaic- of or relating to electricity produced by chemical action in a primary battery; galvanic

28) See all of these Mindfuck movies.
La Jetee (1962)
This was a really great movie and was, unbeknownst to me, the influence behind Terry Gilliam's 12 Monkeys. It's a short film and you can find it on YouTube, with English subtitles. Part 1 is here and Part 2 is here. It'll take about half an hour and it's a fairly iconic film. Check it out.

71) Get rid of all my non-stick cookware (except one pan).
My parents got me this 11 piece stainless steel cookware set for Christmas. I ended up keeping one very small non-stick pot and a pan, but the rest is in a box to go to Goodwill. I've also been cooking like crazy in the new stuff, including a giant gumbo on New Year's Day.

83) Review 20 places on Yelp! and/or Urbanspoon.
18) Hey! Cafe
19) Katie's Restaurant
20) Verti Marte

Full list here


NYE, y'all.
(Stan the Sock Monkey was a Christmas present from Richie)