Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Return of the tree-painting elf

I'm gearing up to paint the tree again--this time, to promote a Teach For America campus event on Thursday evening. The tricky part in planning this has been gauging the weather, which has not been cooperating for the past few days. After a beautiful weekend (which left me with an October sunburn at the Bills game), the clouds have rolled in and it's been raining on and off for the past day and a half. This is bad news for my publicity efforts: sidewalk chalking is one of the easiest ways to promote things on campus, but even a ten minute drizzle could negate two hours' worth of work. So now I'm checking the hourly weather religiously, looking for rain percentages for tomorrow and trying to decide what I should spend the most time doing. Chalking or flyering? Tree painting or button making?

Anyway, the tree is a definite. I think I'm going to do it around 6 o'clock tomorrow morning and hope that the Greek groups will not paint over it before Thursday night. It's supposed to start raining in the early hours of Thursday, so I think I'll be good. In the meantime, weather dances are appreciated from anyone and everyone reading.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

I call it deadline paralysis

My work habits in regard to classes are shifting in a worrisome direction. When I'm faced with an impending due date or exam date, instead of just hunkering down and getting the assignment/studying/etc. done, I worry about said task to the point of inaction. I realize how totally inefficient this is, but I really can't help it.

I met with Provost Long today about proposed changes to the curriculum and semester course loads, and in conversation she told me that her calendar is managed completely by her secretary, who hands her a schedule each afternoon with all the places she needs to be present the next day. I think I should hire a secretary, too, to whom I will give my entire tax-free stipend check every two weeks if he/she will make a daily task list for me and organize my too-colorful Google calendar. Additional responsibilities include refusing to engage in any talk with me about the future beyond tomorrow and a willingness to make coffee runs. Inquire via email, though I will hire on-site if prospective employee will take my East Asian history exam tomorrow morning.

Thursday, September 2, 2010

"Run mad as often as you choose, but do not faint!"

--Fanny Price in Mansfield Park

Running mad. Trying not to faint. I can't believe I'm a senior.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Floating schools and thoughts

It is just shy of five months to the day since I have written a blog post. My audience of about 2 has probably been disappointed to the point of no return, but that is not an excuse to not write anymore.

I came back to the blogosphere just now because I wanted to show this link to someone. I was in a state of mild panic yesterday while thinking about next year and what I'll do if I don't get into Teach For America when I found this website called Real Gap Experience. The company sponsors service trips abroad for various lengths of time that you pay to go on, in most cases, and the link above is to a program in Cambodia where you do a teaching project on a floating school near Angkor Wat. I don't know what it is about Cambodia, but ever since last semester I've had this little obsession in the corner of my brain with the country and its people. I can not explain it, and yes, I know it's weird. But the program sounds so cool.

Anyways, looking at the website reminded me of two things: one, that things are going to be okay next year, and two, that I am about to be set loose upon the world. It was a pretty liberating reminder.

Friday, March 5, 2010

Happy Pansy Rollerskate

I think that kooky band names can be really great sometimes: the Flaming Lips, Neutral Milk Hotel, Chumbawumba . . . I'm all for artistic license. But I just got an email from the WGSU server about upcoming shows in the area, and I think that I've found the wrong side of that fine line in the band name Positive Juice Restaurant.

To their credit, I certainly took note of them. Unfortunately, it was to wonder if each member of the group had blindly pointed to a word in the dictionary as a sad last resort in naming themselves. I hope that Positive Juice Restaurant's lyrics come about in a different way, for their sake.

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Revisionist history

My latest hang-up has been the Cambodian genocide under the Khmer Rouge in the 1970s--namely, the fact that I'd never known about it before this semester. We've been focusing a lot on Cambodia and the Khmer civilization in my Southeast Asia class, and while the bulk of it has been on the region in ancient times, a lot of the literature mentions the fact that Cambodia was inaccessible to researchers from the Western world for a significant portion of the 1960s and -70s because of the Khmer Rouge. I started researching it, and ended up writing the poem I had due for class last week about it; namely, about the fact that the Khmer Rouge killed people who wore glasses simply because they were stereotypical signs of intellect.

It just makes me feel really uncomfortable that virtually the only genocide ever taught about in public school was the Holocaust, which involved the killing of white Europeans rather than an ethnic group systematically categorized as an "other." While I'm not in any way insinuating that the Holocaust shouldn't be a focus of study, I think that making it the sole focus inevitably leaves out so many other gross crimes against humanity that really need to be addressed. History is subjective, and telling one story necessarily means that there are other, concurrent stories that don't get told. Rationally, I know that this is the unfortunate but necessary reality of telling history--or any story, for that matter--but the English major in me is clamoring for some sort of revisionist history that tackles the phenomenon of genocide in a more broad, comprehensive way.

On a less gloomy note, and to continue in a way with revisionist history, read Eavan Boland's poetry. She's way into historical revisionism from a feminist standpoint, and is just generally cool. She read at the Yeats School this past summer, accompanied by a harpist . . . the reading took place in this old chapel with stained glass windows, and I sat in the front row of the balcony peering over the edge at the top of her head, listening to her wonderful brogue and her wonderful words. Oh, to have a cup of Irish tea right now . . .

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Waiting to thaw

The chalkboard outside Muddy Waters reads "Days 'til Spring: 23." I think everyone's counting down.

On a related note, it's snowing.

EDIT: There is a snowstorm coming to Western New York tonight. Expected snowfall: 12 inches.

Monday, February 22, 2010

A big fat societal problem

I'm working on a paper for Western Humanities that addresses the ethical issue of airbrushing from the perspectives of writers we've looked at thus far--Locke, Franklin, Wollstonecraft, etc. It's an interesting assignment, but reading articles about airbrushing while looking at botched photoshop jobs of women is reinforcing the fact that my brain has been effectively tuned into the lie of fashion advertising. When I see a "photograph" of a woman whose head is wider than her hips, my first thought is Huh, lucky bitch instead of OH MY GOD THAT IS CLEARLY UNNATURAL AND ANATOMICALLY IMPOSSIBLE. The reigning image of beauty is that of marzipan pulled taut over a wire hanger. I hate that it's a problem in our society, and I hate that I feed into it.

One of the most disheartening things I read was that even the recent Dove "Campaign for Real Beauty" that featured 'real-sized' women used airbrushing to smooth things out. Apparently, one of the goals of human perfectibility is to become aerodynamic. My goal? To rewire my brain so that when it processes an image of a woman whose cheeks have been hollowed out with an ice cream scooper, I can recognize its inanity.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Coffee, coffee everywhere . . .

. . . but not a drop to drink this morning at 97 Main because my travel mug is lost! After tearing apart the kitchen and my room in frantic search, it was painful looking at the pot of brewed coffee I couldn't possibly drink at 8:52, eight minutes before Western Humanities. I considered making it in a ceramic mug, but the thought of balancing it all the way down the icy hill to class seemed destined for failure.

I've seen two people today carrying the same Muddy Waters travel mug as my lost one. Everyone's a culprit.

Friday, February 5, 2010



After it all went dark, he whispered to her
low growl reverberating, low note
a bow pulled along the bass string
of her spine the better to keep you close,
my dear
while Grandma whimpered softly.

And that is how Red found herself settled
in the swelled belly of an unlikely lover,
cradled woman that now lived at the pace
of his caged animal heart. She sang him lullabies
until the ceiling of her world rose and fell

in slow heaves, traced letters on the fleshy walls
of his stomach, spelling words he guessed or couldn't.
When he laughed, she was anointed by faint light
from a place unremembered, because maybe
this is all she ever wanted or could want.

He came to her draped in canvas tents,
unhinging jaws to swallow whole the glowing flame
of all she was, the empty filling the empty:
the sunken cavity of his abdomen
bloating to the belly of a stone Buddha.


When the axe ripped through his furry coat
Grandma fainted mid-novena, leaving Red
to protest too late the cesarean that had torn apart
her world. Standing above him, she felt his nose was cold
and wet. She knew it couldn't have lasted.

Grandma didn't speak again, only rocking
back and forth, bloody organ in a jar
now her always metronome. Red's eyes
looked for something and nothing, both empty and full.
The wine from her basket was gone.

These days, it is always too bright for the lonely,
who whisper the coming of a prophet reborn

cloaked in the trappings of a wolf's hide.
She roams the woods at night
howling lullabies in hollow tones.

This is the first draft of a poem I have to hand in on Monday . . . I have one due every week. We've been reading a lot of poems based on myth and after coming across an Anne Sexton poem called "Rapunzel," I decided to try something in that vein rather than come up with an original theme, which more often than not (read: always) turns out being totally unoriginal and painful to write. Anyways, for reasons unknown I started thinking about Little Red Riding Hood and the bastardization above is what happened . . . unwittingly, an exploration of Little Red's Stockholm syndrome. Oh dear.

I'm only up this late because it is Thursday in Geneseo, and the sad reality of living on Main Street is that if I'm not asleep before 11 o'clock, I can't fall asleep until after 2 o'clock when the bars close. Unfortunately, I didn't make curfew . . . but I did get my poem done at the very least. Other good news: it is officially Friday. TGIF!

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Update from the hideout

Confession: I'm at Muddy Waters, hiding from my disaster of a room. Since I have an early morning class and a late afternoon class every day Monday through Thursday, my routine has been to pack up all my work, take it with me in the morning, then go to the coffee shop for the 3-5 hours between classes and get schoolwork done. The plan has been working spectacularly work-wise--I have my assignments finished for all classes until Monday--but because I'm I've been trying to stay focused on work, the state of my room has suffered quite a bit. Most of my outfits for the past week or so have been chosen at random from the floor, and I've narrowly missed breaking a few limbs while tripping and stumbling across the land mines scattered between the door and my bed. I'm not sure why I'm confessing to this giant gap in domestic housekeeping . . . maybe in acknowledging it, I'll be inspired to do something about it. Maybe.

Last night was our first intramural basketball game of the season--there were no subs, so my strategy for the game was simply to stay conscious, which I more or less did. Little victory. We won the game, and Erin walked off the court with a jammed, swollen finger and I with a smashed, bloody fingernail. The elder Pipe sisters may have to abandon any dreams of becoming hand models, unfortunately, but a Geneseo Intramural Champion tee shirt will be a pretty sweet consolation prize.

In other news, it's snowing.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Sunday night blues

I've made my morning coffee instead of buying it on the way to class every day this week, which is good for two reasons: one, it means I'm not shelling out the money, and two (and perhaps more importantly), it means I've been waking up early enough to do so. This may or may not have more to do with my relative lack of work than it does with my willpower, but I'll pat myself on the back anyway.

My professor only succeeded in scaring away one student, but another one added the class late so our roster still tallies nine, to his chagrin. The 125 pages of reading I had to do was from Alfred Russell Wallace's The Malay Archipelago, this book that documents the author's journey through the titular region in the 1850s. He stomped around islands shooting anything that moved, collecting pelts and skeletons for various museums back in Europe. A lot of Wallace's "classification" of the different ethnic groups he encounters there is totally offensive and ridiculous, but other than that it wasn't as painful to read as I thought it'd be.

Things that are painful at the moment: trying to write a poem for class tomorrow, and the likelihood that the Vikings are going to the Super Bowl. Egh.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Harrowing mistakes and lost eyeballs

Today, I sent an email to the members of English Club about tonight's meeting. After logging out of the EC account and back into my own, I realized that the bold-face subject in my inbox read "First meeting of the semseter!!"

It really shouldn't cause me this much distress, but I've been fighting the urge to send a follow-up email that acknowledges the lapse in my usually excellent spelling for about an hour. The online community is doubtlessly judging my incompetence at this very moment. I HATE TYPOS.

In other news, classes began yesterday and already I have 125 pages of reading due tomorrow for a class on the ethnography of Southeast Asia. I think the professor is trying to scare the modest class of nine away--he mentioned at least ten times in the 40 minute introduction to the class yesterday that "probably none of you will want to come back, I'll be shocked if there are half of you here on Thursday." I've already bought the twelve books ("You will read until your eyes fall out this semester," he told us), though, so perhaps to his dismay there will be at least one student in class tomorrow.

Maybe if my eyes do, indeed, fall out, I'll have an excuse for future spelling mistakes in the emails I send.