My, What a Pretty Blue Wall You Have!

Hmm.  My DC experience has been odd re: the police. 

I’ve dealt with cops before – as my family members, as nominal co-workers, as a witness to crime, as a crime victim, as one accused of crime.   I’ve seen encounters with the public where the cop literally did acrobatics to keep from arresting someone and just get them on their way.  I’ve seen encounters where both sides were just pig-headed, but only one had the power of arrest.  I’ve also seen cops beat up people for no reason (actually, it was more of a *heard* situation as my cousin and I just kept walking up the street away from the encounter.  It was 2am and the cops had their batons out – not a good time for an “evening officer” conversation). 

Many cops are pretty cool humans – not modern saints, but cool humans.  Now and then you run across a real asshole, but there are dysfunctional personalities in all professions (a price of societal work-specialization?). 

Anyway, it’s usually been easy for me to get general information from the police.  It just makes the wheels of justice turn smoother if they tell you “what happened” (the story that they’re going to tell on the stand, that is) so that all the actors have a more-or-less accurate understanding of the strengths of their cases and can value their risk accordingly. 

However, I have to say that DC is totally frustrating.  I’ve been trying to figure out where an officer works for the past 2 weeks.  Turns out one precinct claimed he was on all kinds of different shifts, but he does not actually work at that precinct.  He works at a different one, where again, has 2 “regular” shifts, according to the different cops manning the phones.  Busy guy. 

It would be comical/pathetic/disturbing that the cops are afraid of a 5 minute interview with a student attorney *if* it weren’t for the fact that they’re *not* helping themselves by doing so.  Which just makes it stupid. 

Oh, and the punchline is that in more than half those calls I didn’t ID myself as a student attorney, just as a member of the public who’d like to ask Officer X “about something that happened last week.”  I could be a freaking witness for all they know.  Which, again, just makes it stupid.

**
In another incident where I was assisting another student attorney, the DC cop we wanted to speak to actually snuck out the back door while one of his colleagues attempted to brow beat us.  The browbeating officer officers informed us that *as a legal matter* we had to subpoena the officer in order to speak with him at all.  That same officer also tried to tell us that *as a legal matter* the officer we wanted to question could talk only to the arrested person, not to the arrested person’s attorney. 

What? 

What?

As long as we're just completely making shit up, I'm the Duke of D.C., and as my personal vassal, I demand that Officer X attend me.

Thoughts, Time

The thoughts are fast and furious, the time also.  Blogging, as usual, takes the hit.  There are many anecdotes that fall by the wayside, such as my weekend which featured back to back oyster days (sometimes you just can’t stop and must get more) courtesy the Dapper Floridian and the fishmarket.   Season One of Battlestar Galactica is in there as well, as is an essay re: Robert Fanning which has rather predictably spun out of control into a poetics.  Also Eastern Market, good coffee, pesto, bike riding, and musings on the parallels between the poetry culture and the criminal legal culture.  And that leads me to what we do, what sort of behaviors, (in both worlds) that should be considered “desirable-to-master” as opposed to “aspirational.”  When does a difficult skill (or persona) incorrectly become an end in and of itself - being "like a lawyer" or being "like a poet" as opposed to "being able to do as a lawyer or poet does."

As to the parallels between poetry and criminal law - each culture has its conception of the laity and the initiate.   Oh, they don’t call it such, but they certainly embrace the concept.  Stick a practitioner of any experience in with a rank novice and a certain dynamic develops (not always unhealthy, mind you) which often is inquisitorial.  Stick either of those in with someone who has no exposure to the subject/practice/profession/craft and another dynamic develops which is often more educational.  There’s yet another between the practitioner and the laity which have strong-yet-uninformed opinions of the subject: corrective. 

Given the cultural interest in poetry, the wretched state of its teaching via primary education, and popular clichés of both poets and poetry, I think poets, with notable exceptions, often fall into the third category when dealing with the general public. 

I don’t think “lawyers” are that easily boxed, however, there’s still the hurdle of basic cultural mis-apprehension of what the law is and how it works.  My initial thought is still that the average guy/gal on the street expects *criminal* law to be just.  That expectation translates into a conception of the law as a code mitigated by equitable principals.  The law says X, which is modified by both sides “telling their story.”  It’s a vision of a  paternalistic world where you should/should not do Y (which is always pretty clear), but the law allows you to explain why you did something.  Obviously, this is not the case. 

I’m thinking about this general issue of “basic expectations” as I consider the “rules” of cross-examination.  They make sense from the practitioner’s point of view.  The dangers of deviating from them are clear and unambiguous.  But the question I’m interested in is: what does the jury think when they hear a cross?  Do they think “as” lawyers do, picking up on nuances within the form, realizing the significance that certain exchanges signal?  Or do they ask questions (internally) which ignore the form of the cross itself?  Do they wonder why there are no “lock it down” questions asked at the end of one particular chain?  Do they wonder why?  Should then we want to master this perfectly, to trot it out safely, to, in essence, become enamored of form over function?  (Or is it just that, given the rest of the trial structure, this *is* simply the best way to go about representing our clients?)

So too with poets and poetry – do popular/false expectations as to what the whole enterprise of poetry *is* push readers off lines, off images, off poems.  Why do we then write *as though* readers will react as educated poets, instead of lay readers/listeners?

Do I blame mass media yet again?  Sure, why not.  Mass media can take care of itself this morning.   

**

As a complete aside, time is hard to come by, but I take a certain satisfaction in yoking activities together, so those bikerides are often to the quasi-distant markets to replace empty larders run down by working instead of doing weekday errands.  If I lived in suburbia life would be less happy.

Much Belated Photos

NASA had to get involved.  But by gum, we got 'em.

Click on the thumbnail photos for a larger image.

Old Mobile Herb Garden
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Holy Basil Batman!
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More Modest Mint
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Backlit Garden
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The Smallest of Words

Attested to by: random e-mail from my fedora wearing, Thai-stick fighting, single-malt drinking, tank fixing, ex-Army, theatrical pal from days-long-gone who, also, randomly, decided to attend Law School (in CT) and began a semester before me.   Grammatical, but inelegant (the sentence, not the pal.)

Monikers, Monikers. . .”Flashlight to Knee?”  “The Long Drive to Allentown?”  The Civic Slider?”  “The Sniper?” 

Hmm.  There’s always a temptation to tell tales when an old name pops up – I generally revisit, in a kind of imagistic narrative, all those times gone by.  In this case many of my FtK memories are from late High School and Early College – a kind of pivotal period in most people’s lives.  During those years FtK was a force for good – a kind of Lloyd Dobbler (“Say Anything” protagonist) but FtK was not as spastic and was without a nervous talking thing.  Every now and again, when I’m in our shared home town, I drive by the place he used to live in with his family (it’s on a major road and thus hard to miss.)

**

Also a very good conversation with Swanno – who has transformed himself into an immigration Machine.  He’s like the Terminator, but more academic.  I’d hire him.  Who’ll hire me?

Non-Instant Blogging

Well, this morning is one of those small mornings that seem like a breather for whatever reason.  Bills paid, paperwork banished to the dark recesses of the file box, odds ‘n ends taken care of, and a general apartment cleaning/straightening reveals not much to do.  It’s a good morning – El Gato Perfecto chirping at birds in the tree outside the window, doubtless trying to entice them to the sill, and me, sitting with a moderately strong Sumatran coffee, a clean apartment, a study-mission planned 3 hours from now, and, on the whole, not much else to do in the immediate future.  Actually, that’s an illusion.  I have a lot of reading and studying to do for Thursday’s classes, plus some organizing of LS materials.  However I don’t feel a pressing need to take care of something *now* because time is slipping by.  Perhaps sensing this, EGP has just curled up in my lap and started blinking at me, making typing difficult.   It’s also difficult to blog without internet access at home (hopefully corrected in a week or so) – I type here and then bring the computer into school.  Immediacy is one of the great blogging enablers.  Too much thinking and you get into the editing hole.

As happy as I am for my morning of respite, mid-week, I’ve enjoyed the dash-aboutness of the past few days.  After orientation wound down to a strong finish (Kudos to all the clinic staff and fellows and professors who put in longer hours than the students), I slept, rose, caffeinated myself, cleaned, packed, and hopped in the car for a leisurely 8 hour drive up to central CT, in preparation for my cousin’s wedding.  Lyco and I arrived very late on Saturday.  The ride up was not the most fun DC/CT trip I’ve ever done, as we drove through the remains of Ernesto and as I have a particular dislike of wet NY/NJ highways that kind of blur into one reflective little marked blob of streetlights.  But we made it in one piece.  After crashing out we breakfasted at the local joint which does amazing things with pancakes – they’re somewhat cake like in their spongy springiness, but have a cornmealish texture, a hint of buttermilk sourness, and while quite thick are very very light.  Thus, they work excellently with fruit, in a way that doughier or denser pancakes would not.  I’ve been inspired to try to experiment with many small pancake batches in hopes of approximating this place’s divine fare.  A project for this weekend, I think.

In any event, distracted by food, Lyco and I did a quick mountain, shake-off-the-sitting-sloth ride.  We took the carriage path up and a slightly more difficult path down.  While raining, it was pretty pleasant – you tend to throw off a lot of heat while mountain biking.  We took the Iguana and the Pugeot Hybrid (which I think I will route to Chicago Typewriter if at all possible) and they both performed decently in the not-so-challenging conditions. 

After the ride, we dressed and caravanned out to the wedding.  I took my grandfather and Lyco in the car.  My grandfather is still quite the character – I’m certainly more talkative than he is in social settings, but it’s pretty funny how closely our personalities mesh on certain things.  While I know I resemble my parents, friends, and other influences in many ways, I’m probably closest to my grandfather in how we basically go about things. 

The wedding itself was great fun.  The cousins who weren’t in the wedding party sat together at one table (by and large - a few second cousins were farmed out to other tables) which enabled us to catch up.  There were vodka and cigars and joking and good stories.   All my aunts and uncles are doing well, it seems.  The last 5 years have been one of moderate worry for me re: some of my uncles health and the general stability of the family (mostly through cutbacks affecting their work) but everyone, quite luckily, has put those issues to rest in one way or another.  My aunts, of course, are irrepressible.  Some of my nominal aunts (older second cousins who have always been aunts as far as I was concerned) have had recent troubles, but they’re all meeting them head on, which is all you can really do.  Those situations are frustrating.  You’d like to help in some concrete way, but there’s really nothing you can do but talk.  I also got to see my very patient and cool aunt who is a barrister in Dublin – her practice is mostly family law.  I’d love to pick her brain for 3 weeks straight, but shop talk is never fun at family gatherings.  Her father, who is so complex as to define a moniker – The Marathoner, The Living Legal Legend? Bah – and who is quite possibly the most important single influence in my life, for creating structures that allowed me to pursue a higher education, was also there.  He’s one of the few people I still feel a sense of. . .awe?  overwhelming respect?  Toungetiedness? around.  It’s always tremendously good to see him and his wife (my grandmother’s sister.)

Sunday was dominated by the drive down, although I stopped into Sarah Lawrence and saw Alba (cheers for Alba!!) and showed Lyco the campus.  The contrast to the law school could not be more overwhelming.  Everywhere you go at SLC there are small spaces reserved for creation, either singly or collaboratively.  Everyone *makes* something and refines it as they go.  There’s talk and debate and cross-disciplinary experimentation – a sharing of knowledge and technique that refines and deepens it. 

Artistic creation, I caution the newer blog readers and by mentioning this risk boring the more experienced blog readers, DOES NOT imply a lack of discipline within your endeavors OR a lack of ordered secondary material – the field on which you draw to create.  And why (oh why) does it seem to insult lawyers when you imply or state that producing a poem (or a book of poetry) is not some antithetical activity to legal work – that instead such creation requires as much (if not more) discipline and focus and breadth of knowledge and sense of audience and mastery of material and presentation as does crafting a legal brief or shepherding a case along?   Why do so many lawyers look at you as though you’re being uppity by ruining their illusion?  The arts are not only sitting on a hillside drinking wine and jotting down whatever fleeting impressions cross your brain (though both the arts and law may involve that at some point).  Nor are their pursuit some kind of “dropping out” from “the real/practical world” of “hard work.”  Grr.

The next wedding should be my cousin, the Wiccan Nurse’s, handfasting ceremony with She Does Not Like Suits.  The great commonwealth of VA will not recognize my cousin’s union with her partner.  Which is just completely shameful.  Why should a conglomerate entity cause such misery and strain in a committed and dedicated partnership?  What does that entity gain?  Nothing at all.  In some ways this is a very simple issue.   One very basic idea that shapes America is the idea that people should be free to do what they wish insofar as it does not harm others.  Free to speak, to worship the god of their choosing in the manner they wish, to assemble with their fellows, etc.  Ring a bell?  While there are hard cases in drawing the line between freedom and limiting practices which “harm” others or society (homeschooling for radical religious sects as opposed to secular schools) gay marriage seems to be nothing more than one religious group trying to assert its power, via the machinery of the state, against another group that it does not like.  Yes, there are complexities in there, but that’s basically what we’re looking at.  While I’m disappointed that CT and VT have not followed MA’s example of tolerance and equality, at least they’re taking steps in the right direction.  Then again I shouldn’t be surprised about VA, as it was only 40 some odd years ago that VA legally forbade heterosexual couples of different races to marry.  Does the commonwealth, collectively, have no sense of shame? 


The Time Crush

Well, in an effort to save time (and not make flashcards for memorizing the various impeachment methods) I have decided to concentrate my entire mind on absorbing The Chewbacca Defense.  It will be all I need.  Presuming my head does not explode while attempting to learn its subtle variations, I look forward to complete vindication for my clients and professional glory in the courthouse.

On a sadder and far more serious note, I spoke with the Bookwench last night – she told me that one of the Hard Drinking Librarians™ has succumbed to cancer.  The memorial/party/service will be held very soon in Athens, GA, but I don’t think I’ll be able to attend.  Many of that crew have moved several hours (or days) away, and my only connection to her is through that group.  It should be a good celebration of her life - and in an irony that would amuse her to no end, the memorial will be attended by a group of said HDLs, the local theatre crew (also hard drinking) and a bunch of people who are in AA.  When I heard the story of what happened to her it reminded me of just why I went to law school – there were dozens of fishy things in that narrative, including conduct on the part of the hospital that, if true, is completely egregious.  Now, theoretically, I know what to do about them. 

On a brighter note, my cousin’s wedding is this upcoming weekend.  I am very much looking forward to seeing distant relatives at a fun function for a change – this will be the first wedding on that side of the family since my aunt was married. . .20+ years ago?   We’ve had a lot of births and graduations since then (I am the eldest grand-child on that side.)  I’m going to get to hang out with the Wiccan Nurse (grand-child the second) – something we haven’t done under happy circumstances in quite awhile.  (Of course, I should point out that my cousin (the bride) broke her leg last week and will be hobbling about the dance floor – no blessing or disaster is entirely unmixed it seems.)

Already the decision to keep the battered summer C.A.R. is paying off.  Assuming she makes it up and back she’ll have more or less paid for herself over rental alternatives on the basis of apt. searching and moving and wedding travel.  I still have to ride the bike in to school (gas, parking, ack, but better for both the planet and I), but it’s nice to make a good call once in awhile, to have the means to do a bit of traveling.

Moving

First off, I'm only sporadically on the internet, so if you need to get in touch with me, go the phone route.  And now, the delayed post. . .sorry for temporal oddities, but it was written over 2 days at three different points.

**
Well, this was a relatively stress free if hectic move, involving a rented mini-van, and Photogal’s generous drive-down offer (although her ride was *not* gumdrops and candy, from what I understand).  Still, everything made it down without incident and on-time, including several live objects like cats and plants. 

The set up in the new place is going remarkably fast, due to the lack of tertiary crap.  I think we all have our primary “must take” stuff, of which I have a good correlation in utility (meaning little cool-but-useless stuff).  Below that there’s a secondary level of cool stuff that you’d most certainly use but might not want to *just* get rid of, as you’d probably replace it within a year or so.  I also have a good correlation there.  Thankfully I’ve been freed of a lot of tertiary crap – stuff that you keep which may come in handy, or not.  Old bike parts, spare bits of wood, fixtures, furniture in the basement, etc.   I’m actually pretty good with only keeping stuff that I think I can use (and figuring out ways to use the stuff I keep)  – thus when settled, I usually can pull out this or that useful thing from a small storage room.  When more mobile, I have a few odds and ends that always seem to come in handy, but that’s about it.   

I think in total I have about a van and a half of mostly necessary stuff, minus some of that extra “well I can bring it so I will” stuff.  (There are a few boxes at my father’s that could disappear and I wouldn’t blink.)  That’s pretty tight I think.  It includes a rocking chair I was nursed on as a child, bookcases I bought in Boston over a decade ago, a drafting table rescued from a flooded basement and restored as my desk, a birthday present wok (which I will enjoy using on the gas! stove), the remains of my library, and much smaller objects which hold deep resonance.    I don’t have a lot of wall photos though, which is something I’ve always meant to take care of.  Perhaps here. . .

So, given that the new studio is just Scoplaw sized, my place is pleasantly full but has a lot of floor space and white space on the walls to accommodate projecty work.   I also have an assload of clever storage space (slightly bigger than a buttload for those technically minded persons out there.)  So it’s more like a statesroom I suppose.   

The building on a whole is typical DC: nice lobby, decent laundry room, smelly and narrow carpeted hallways, sweet rooms.  The best part of the room is the view.  I’m up fairly high, but when I look out the window all I see is trees, slate roofs, and a gorgeous church.  I’ll post up some pictures when I have a moment, but for now the priority is to get all those obvious things I didn’t think to get.  Like a broom.  (doh.) I tried using the cat, but she wasn’t down with that.  Before my errand run, I plan to that play a lot of Desmond Dekker and Ash and trying to sort things here, which is proving tougher than it was last night.  (Hence my blogging on Word because I don’t have an internet connection).  (And since then I got a ton of apt stuff - hopefully that's all done now.  I'd gotten rid of so many small things that one needs to make an apartment go smoothly - like a fucking broom.)

During the moving day I felt like I could go on forever, due to that second wind effect and my health generally being good lately.  I crashed out at 10 I think, but that’s pretty good for getting 10 hours of sleep in the prior 48 and moving three carloads of stuff (including a trip to the storage area).   Now I still feel busy, but after spending an evening in place, things seem to have settled where they are, even though it would require no more force or effort on my part to move or swap them.  Anchoring forces? 

**

Today James Bond Watch and In Limine both randomly called when I was moving boxes.  Must be something in the air. Although I didn't know it at the time, the Bookwench also was writing me to let me know she'll be attending graduate school nearby in MD.  The Bookwench and I used to work together in Athens, and she put up Photogal when there was a moving gap.  BW is good people.  My fav. memory of her was watching the Phantom Menace on DVD.  She invited me over.  I resisted (as JarJar makes me want to stab myself) but gave in as BW pointed out that "I'd seen it, but I hadn't seen it with *her*."  So I showed up, we sat down, she pressed play and we wached the lightsaber fight, and only the lightsaber fight.  Then she flicked it off and told me how much she loved the film.  Would I care to watch it again? 

Tonight, JBW and IL and I met up at the Brickskeller, where I met some 3ers a year behind me.  They seemed pretty cool and one writes poetry - who knew?  As In Limine and I walked in the door, a plump rat scurried left to right in front of us on the building steps.  If there's no folklore interpretation of that, there should be.  Fortunate or not fortunate?  Regardless, I felt like I was officially back in DC.  Law, court gossip, beer, fun people.

I'll be biking home on the Eros (she needs a proper name - suggestions appreciated).  I am heartily glad that I'm in easy biking distance of everything.  (Basically I'm near Columbia heights.)  And I don't have to get up for work or classes.  Coffee at 12:30AM - whoo hoo!

**
Random moving thoughts:  Disillusionment.  Among other things, like local scandals, I grew up in a politically engaged family during a corrupt presidency.  It was always then difficult for me to then hear the “trust me (authority figure), I know what’s best for you” line as something other than evasion; this has made secondary education more of a struggle for me than it should be at times.   Repeated public disillusionment in our institutions leads to a kind of cynical/real-politic view of matters, as “soft” rhetoric like “god, duty, country, truth, freedom, equality” gets churned under the real actions of the speaking parties  –  but does this mean that we now view education primarily as an economic factor, and not as a good in and of itself?  Is “expanding one’s mind,” and “learning for the sake of learning” now in the same category as “liberating X country?”  Do we view the humanities necessary for one’s full being as a human, or as expensive commodities which we’re told to consume?  And if so, would this create a fundamental tension in education, where you do have to, in some measure, trust the educator?  Would this tension be a factor in teachers dumbing-down, in students checking out?



Work and Food

I spoke with Handful of Dates last night and he told me he’d been doing some Mt. bike riding.  Which it occurred to me that I had not.  So, post clinic-prep,  I cleaned off my dad’s Giant Iguana (that's really the make and model) and rode up to the trailhead for Case Mountain.  I’d ridden Case before on both a hard tail and The Green Machine, and I’ve written about my dissatisfaction with the Iguana (which was the best option to hand, alas). 

The Green Machine in other days:
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I just don’t trust the Iguana – the clearance seems awfully low, the bars awfully high, and the seat just floats out there doing it’s own thing.  Plus I have issues (major issues) with the fork tension.  I end up bobbling all over the trail (although I admit some of that is riding style/weight management).  So I wasn’t optimistic and the Iguana didn’t disappoint my mediocre expectations.  She was fine enough descending, but for my money the real measure of a bike is how well it climbs (in this case, over boulders).  The Iguana, I’m sad to say, handled like a hybrid.  It was incredibly frustrating (not that my trail skills are sharp and sparkly or anything) to try to climb in the more difficult stretches.  I’d see what I wanted to do, but I’d get pedal strike or bounce away energy and creak to a halt.  Or I’d really bear down and spin the wheel (she might improve a bit with decent trail tires instead of her so so compromise tires.)

Top of the mountain (with random biker with whom I chatted):

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The mountain is surprisingly tough.  Some trails are basically dirt roadways, fit for cars, while other trails are tiny beaten meanderings climbing through boulder fields.  I had to get off and walk three times, although I would have tried all those sections on The Green Machine (which is perfect for giving you just the right of crash-absorbing flex without going all buttery or light-tailed on you.   It was a struggle.  I got thrown twice but turned them both into hopping to a stop controlled falls.  The pedals were slippery and I ended up pronging my shin twice.  I will now have two new pedal scars to add to my shin collection.  I also mashed my hand between the handlebar and a tree on a descent.  It’s bloody and sore but everything bends the way it should when I want it to, so it passes the “walk away” test.  I’m afraid that was just a stupid miscalculation on my part.  Actually my hands hurt the most of anything – just a bad hand day. 

Tired Scoplaw:
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On the other hand I did significant parts of all the trails, including some of the very hard ones, so I think the mountain and I can call it a draw.   I visited my vernal pool, noting the very high high-watermarks this year and the relatively normal level of the pool for this time of year.  I also rode down past the chimney, which is an area of the mountain I particularly like.  My twinned twins are still there (two joined pairs of white birch trees) although they’re looking a bit ragged.  Damn blight gets them all eventually.  I also got to rest for a bit at the moot which I also love – that circular depression of stones by the intersection of the yellow and the something trail.  I saw little wildlife, alas, but it was Saturday, so there were probably people all over the mountain earlier in the day.

Moot area (the wall of rock is the back part of the ring - camera angle was not wide enough to get it all, alas):
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When done, I became conscious of the fact that my power for the day was one single donut grabbed while running errands.  Doh!  I didn’t bonk per se, but I was suddenly ravenous and lightheaded.  So I went to a local Italian place (walking distance of where I live) and got escargots in butter and garlic, salad, bread, manicotti.  All of which was fresh and perfect.  Trivia fact about the Scoplaw – I have a nearly infinite capacity for manicotti (so long as it’s good).  When I’m craving any kind of post ride carbs, it’s hard to say no to Italian.  Now that all of the above are in my stomach, I am moving pretty slowly right now.  I’m going to have some of Photogal’s homemade schnapps.  Odds are I’ll be moving even more slowly in the very near future, especially since El Gato Perfecto has decided to curl up on my lap and rest her head on my elbow as I type.

25 Hours, out of sight – out of mind.

Well, el Scoperino went on a housing quest down to DC on Friday.  I ended up trying to sleep a bit on Thurs after work, then driving to DC at 4am, searching and driving back by 4am the following day.  Strenuous, but hopefully with a good result.  I put a deposit on a small 4th floor studio by Rock Creek Park.  Wood floors, utilities included, pets allowed, on street parking, easy access to the park, and enough room to comfortably hold myself and my stuff.  I should have easy access to one of the metrostops (easy as in under a mile, which, unsurprisingly, is considered *not* easy by many, and hence, I think, the good deal) and the ride into GULC via bike should be shorter but will come via a completely different route.  I spoke with a few residents who loved the place and the management, so I think I just lucked out.  Sometimes the universe is nice that way.   Of course, the universe could always do something wacky with the credit check process.  (ack).

However, I think I already experienced the immediate downside - I ran into an unmitigated number of assholes during my day, (which I later tried to karmicly balance by calling a couple of good peeps I hadn’t spoken with recently, but who’ve been on my mind for one reason or another). 

The drive down was OK, save for traffic outside Baltimore, and the drive up was OK, save for the traffic associated with 95 and the GW.  It was 2am – I figured I was somewhat safe, but no, completely bad situation made worse my assholes who’d try to merge in at the last second.  One of those guys hit my car.  We were merging like a zipper at one of the 2 lane to 1 lane points and this guy felt he needed to be right behind the car he’d been driving behind.  So he honks his horn and hits the front right fender of my car, leaving a nice dent.  Then he hops off the highway and speeds off down the emergency lane.  While I like to think I’ve some forbearance, lately I’m just burnt out (as a byproduct of being consistently lied to).  I enjoyed fantasies of this guy rolling his car and dying in horrible and embarrassing ways.  Although I’m sure I’m not the only one - he was driving something that looked like a demolition derby car and which had a great deal of clear packing tape holding the rear end together.  Once the adrenaline burned off it was difficult to do the last 3-4am hour.  For some reason by body always wants to shut down at 3am and at 3:30pm.  Hardwiring, habit, or just a variable cycle of which I’m only noticing the days that conform to my 3/3 theory?  Dunno.  But I sang along with Tom Petty and arrived home with a good deal of energy left.  I had offers to crash here and there, but I’d have just had to do the drive on Sat, and, at the time, I’d some hopes of getting some AM things done on Sat.

I think the theme for the week is selfishness – there’s just been a lot of selfish behavior about in my small spheres.  This was not reinforced by dealings with rental agents. 

Yet I was lucky enough to have two good self-less encounters were had with Photogal and H.  Photogal continues her schneaky moving plans, and we’ve been trying to help each other out in that regard.  It’s nice to have someone nearby who has your back in some measure, who can say, “Dude, it’s not ideal for me, but I can totally do X if you need it.”  We also have a stash of quasi-shared stuff that should work well enough to get a couple of small apartments on-line and running.  I need to root through my CT storage stuff to see if there’s anything she can use. 

H took me out for my birthday and we had dinner and caught up on all the people we needed to: an old friend, alas, still in a cult; music/recording news for several people; other people going though so-so times but making the right choices and moving in the right direction.  Apparently I totally creeped out H’s housemate by a) showing up unannounced at 10pm (which is pretty standard for the H crowd), b) not having a TV, and c) not particularly caring about current pop personas.  (Additionally I’m pretty spent now-a-days and don’t have much of a small talk fund left outside my stalwart interests, of which HHmate shares none.)  I’m not sure if HHmate will be there, but there are BBQ plans in the near future, and I hope to see a number of people there including Elegante, the Trombone Player, and the Jeweler, all of whom I haven’t yet run into this summer.

So I now have to think about outfitting myself, solo fashion, for another calendar year DC living.  I still have a great deal of my more portable domestic stuff, but I can’t live in a mostly  bare room with a stack of boxes in the corner.  So out comes the old bookcases, chairs, etc.  Moving them down will be a bit tricky, but I think overall it would be cheaper than beating the local bushes for replacement items and just letting these molder up here.  I will have at least one spare bike and one spare bed, should anyone care to come visit DC. 

While the space will be small, it will be entirely my own, which is good and bad.  I have hermitting tendencies sometimes, but El Gato Perfecto will be there to make sure I stay on a healthy food and head-rubbing schedule.   See e.g., Pagnur Ban. (I have plans to construct a little fort for her so she can lay in wait and ambush me when I return home – every day I will be appropriately surprised.) 

The good side to being alone is that I’ll be able to focus while alone in the space (reading, writing) and focus while entertaining in the space.  I’m looking forward to entertaining.  I’ve written before that my perfect sort of day is having something individual/private to do during the day but having friend(s) visit and spend time walking about and occupying the neighborhood/space, cook a balanced dinner, drink wine or coffee, and talk into the evening.   If I only had a balcony/porch the new place would be completely perfect for me in that regard.  I haven’t had the space to have those kind of evenings in quite awhile, as there are usually countervailing tensions with housemates, etc.  Not that I haven’t had good housemates (I’ve been *very* lucky in that regard) but it’s easier to speak for (and to) the space when it’s your entirely own and you’re hosting. 

Ideally, I’d have some kind of garage/garden/earth access, be in the country, etc.  (I’ll have to put winemaking on hold for a bit with the new digs, and regret that I didn’t set up shop when I had the space to do so in the old place.)  But this *is* DC, so I’m pretty happy/grateful with what I’ve got.  Pending credit check.  Which should be no problem – but I always feel better with lease in hand as I’ve had too many sketchy and drama-filled non-lease situations in my past.   Those kind of things are good for what they are, but there’s a lot to be said for not having yet another small thing niggling in the back of your mind – “What happens if the sketchy landlord tries to kick us/me out in mid-Jan.?  How will I deal with it?”

Weekend the Fifth

was a Social weekend with many blasts from the past.  Photogal and I finally got together over the weekend.  Longtime readers of the blog will remember Photogal from the very earliest entries.  She is the sneakiest person that I know, in the best and most clever spy-like way.  In an effort to preserve her secret identity, I will go light on the details.  We exchanged some gossip, mostly about family and old friends that we’d seen independently of each other, and traded off some goods. 

Dsc00920_1 Due to Photogal’s impending move I ended up with two of my four bookcases (the other two long gone), a bottle of homemade schnapps, an old but very serviceable purple and blue Bianchi Eros which will now probably replace Hush as my errand/tourer, and a bucketload of memories, given that I’d lived in the house she’s now leaving for over a year.  Things will hold memories in odd ways (actually, that’d be memory invoked by specific things, but I like the idea of memories held in things).  In any event it was odd to see some of my odder odds and ends still in use.   Some of them go back quite far in time.  For example, a chair I had re-upholstered.  I know I did it, for I remember the fabric, the plans to refurbish, the actual point where I set in the room in which it now (still) sits.  That would have been about 3 years ago.  But I can’t remember actually doing the re-upholstering.  There were a lot of small evocative things like that.  Mostly good, a few bittersweet, but even the bittersweet ones are kind of layered over by time. 

HouseJack (Photogal’s dad) was there as well, with his usual sets of adventures and stories and a bigger and fatter school of Koi in the gardenpond.  He met me at the door with a hug and I gave him some basil, oregano, and sage from my mobile garden.  Later, he’d work that into a shrimp scampi which he served to two of his old friends, one of which is an old acquaintances of mine.  One of the best things about living with HouseJack is his cooking, which is first rate.  Another is his taste in music. 

While I was roping the second bookcase to the roof of my car, the Dapper Floridian called; longtime blog readers can look for him about a year ago at this time.  I mistook him for another friend of a similar name due to the bad connection.  Embarrassing.  I should ask DF if he wants his moniker changed, as I know he reads the blog.   DF and I talked shop, bikes, and impending clinic.  He’ll be with me next year and I’m very psyched about that.  This is the guy who made a jury of public defenders fail the laugh test as he played the prosecutor in a mock trial and totally exploded the case with a perfect combination of flair and outrage.  They said they’d have to rewrite the fact pattern after that showing, even though it had worked well enough in previous years.  Plans are for DF, Mrs. DF, and myself to do some rides when I get back to DC.  And speaking of DC, I got an email from another person who was there during that mock trial – she’s now clerking in DC, and I’ll have to look her up when I get back to town.   I think I’m suffering from cool people overload.

Over the weekend I did a number of errands on the bike, as well as some longer rides.  Everywhere I went (hello spandex) people wanted to ask me about Landis.   Of course, most people didn’t know him before he won the Tour, which was woefully covered in the American media.  Still others didn’t even know him after the Tour victory, but it seems like just about everyone has heard of him now.  Sorta.  One guy asked me – “So, what do you think of that Sanders fellow?”  Took me a moment.   Anyway, my take is pretty simple – we need to wait and see what the lab results say.  Since the results indicate the presence of synthetic testosterone, we’re likely looking at a doping situation.  If that’s confirmed, then the federation should strip him of his victory – no doubts about it. 

Although it may sound odd from a guy who will be spending a good portion of my life on criminal defense, I think cycling should either have a zero tolerance policy (lifetime ban) or totally deregulate.  Right now, the tepid ban with the two year penalty pushes athletes into taking “cutting edge” (read: “dangerous and unproven”) drugs to maintain their competitive edge.  I’m sure the weekend warriors dabble in PEDs also, and I’m worried about what that situation means to younger riders who might feel pressured into using PEDs.  The overall problem pretty much analogous to baseball, except you have to be more clever when you cheat in cycling.  On the other hand, total deregulation would be fun.  We see all the records fall, and, shortly thereafter, all the cyclists who set them.  Soon (or at worst after a few generations of horrible side effects and early deaths) we’d get “clean” versions of voluntarily tested rides and races.  We’d have Mens, Natural Men’s, Women, Natural Woman’s versions of races.  If the doping got extreme we could have a Thing category as well.       

As to the rides (for there always should be rides) I left middish late on Sat. after going out for breakfast.  My usual place was closed, so I went to the local sceenster breakfast place.  Seriously.  My usual normally does not have anyone below the age of 50 in there, this other place has everyone else and they’re all wearing wallet chains and porkpies.  There are even packets of cards on the counters so you can pass the time.  After breakfast, I cleaned the Little Red Rocket, who sorely needed it.   I also made some adjustments to the rear derailleur which has been a bit finicky lately. 

LRR and I set out and promptly ate a mountain.  Or so it calls itself.  The road was Hebron Ave in Glastonbury, and the mountain was Birch Mountain (ignore colored paths as these are for mountain bikers, who really should check out the site the map was taken from as it is full of CT data/trails.) Actually, the street climbs up John Tom Hill, but the hill, at 880 feet, is about equal to Birch Mountain itself.  Tale of the tape was a paltry 50 miles.  But again, they were hard miles.  I went North into Bolton then back up the mountain the other way.  The descent was sweet and actually seemed to take a long time – so long you could get bored with it.

I’d still like to put together a century ride, but I keep not doing it.  Part of that is a lack of time.  I need to just pick a target, put aside a day, and go.  But will I?

One project that may derail the century bid is the housing bid.  As of this moment I do not have a place to stay in DC.  I’ll be flying solo (with El Gato Perfecto) or looking for roommates.  Ack.  I hope I can find something soon. 

Weekend the Fourth

Hmm.  Bit predictable I know, but don’t confuse a temporary predictability with staidness (nor quietness with weakness, but that’s another story).

The fourth weekend featured a trip to Los Parientes, a ride, and a ton of puttering, which was good, in that puttering kind of way.  I paid a lot of bills, took care of paper sorting, etc.  But prior to all that, I finally got to see H and chat about old times – so very nice.  (Since then I’ve declined 3 invites for things to do.  Time, as always, is at a premium, alas.  I need to win a lottery – money buys time.) 

The ride came on Saturday, and it wasn’t smart.  First of all, I deliberately courted some named hills, which, unsurprisingly, kicked my ass (the big guys up north of UCONN Storrs).  Secondly, I decided to get some sun and rode bareback for a couple of hours, which promptly fried my back, and left me a bit sun-drunk and dehydrated.  Thirdly, even though I knew this, I decided to ride on, across a few more brutal hills.  The result was a very unsatisfactory ride from any standpoint, and on what should have been a gorgeous day to boot.  Final tale was a scanty 60 miles, but they were hillier miles than usual. 

I need to be careful with the camel back – although it did make for a nice wifebeater sunburn pattern.  It’s just sort of easy not to drink when you ride.  You know it’s there, you take a sip to wet down your mouth now and then, but you’re slowly losing water.  Then, before you know it your lips are dry and you can barely lift your knees and press down. 

A dirty chain made for uncertain shifting.  Sigh.  LRR needs a nice clean and lube.  Thankfully, thanks to a mysterious benefactor, I have the equipment to do that, but I’m still kind of sapped, energywise (and it’s been two days).  I was vaguely worried that like Lyco, I’d also picked up Lyme disease (you can get it without the ring rash) but the lack of joint achiness seems to preclude that and just leaves me with heat complications.

The terrain on the ride was pretty cool – I passed the UCONN botanical collections, some fine old New England houses and trees, and the numerous farmstands (sans corn!) that dust the roadsides.  If I stopped and ate at every place which had good things (3 dairy farms w/creameries!) I’d have never have been able to make it back.  And keep in mind this is in the boondocks.

Post ride I slept on my stomach a lot and read (yea!) some leisure reading.  Typing that is like confessing to doing crack or something.  Especially with that fat clinic reading packet staring down at me.

Over the weekend I also endured a lot of gossip, some good, some bad, but all gossip.  Gossip’s always been fascinating to me.  People tell outrageous stories, but if you dig, there’s normally an element of truth there.  But regardless of the BS or the truth, you can pick up on the emotional valence of the speaker pretty quickly and the *why* of their emotion – the gossipy details often don’t matter as much as those.  So there was amusement and pleasure and nostalgia and envy and jealousy and spite.  And a host of others.  I’m not sure if it was all the “human business” or the sun, but after all this, I desire only for a bad paperback novel, a bottle of wine (I have a nice Spanish one by me now) and a softly purring cat. 


Third Free Weekend – no Ride

Alas, no vicarious rides for AI/theI, who goes for the Bar exam tomorrow.  Ack.  But I have every confidence in AI’s ability to pass.  Above and beyond that, he’s going to make a great PD.  And he’s made the call on this year’s Tour.  (Floyd Landis – who’d have thought?)  So, even with his mighty  prognosticative powers – send happy thoughts to AI/theI on Monday.   

Lyco came up from VA to visit and we had tentatively planned a ride.  However, the weather was not really optimal and our time was very limited.  So we chilled for most of the weekend and did central CT things.  Normally I don’t push central CT things on visitors as they’re close to home and thus subjectively devalued and gooberish sounding to my ears.  Instead of staying here I’m eager to rush off to Providence, Boston, NH, etc., but short lived trips are often spend out of the car, not traveling to a place to travel to another place to see something interesting.  And CT does have very interesting geology, hiking, fauna, flora, and under the radar institutions that one only appreciates if one’s been away for a bit. 

On her first day, I had to work, but I took a long(ish) lunch and showed her some of New Haven while we ate at Claire’s and Lyco spent the afternoon researching at Quinnipiac.  When I went to pick her up a white hawk flew slowly overhead (about 15 feet overhead) us in the parking lot.  It sort of set the tone for unusual oddities that might only take some attention on the world to appreciated.  We meandered back to central CT, stopping here and there on the way.  We then attempted to go out for Italian but left too late and found most places closed.  We did get to bicycle around on the new Raleigh and Lumina though, so we technically did log a ride, albeit a slow one, late at night, through the streets of this small citytown.  Upon arriving home we made a meal of smoked oysters, fresh bread, and a quasi salsa of tomatoes, garlic, basil, oregano, cucumbers, pepper, balsamic vinegar, and olive oil.  Everything except the vinegar and olive oil came out of our mutual gardens. 

On Sat. the morning weather looked pretty good – so we got up early to do some driving/walking.  It was a food fest.  The day began at my local breakfast shack, where I introduced Lyco to Ken’s famous ginger pancakes.  She said they were like warm gingersnap cookies in pancake form, drizzled with syrup.  Then, on the way to our hiking destination, we stopped and picked some blueberries.  MMMmmmm.  Blueberries.  Then we hit up the famous Polish Bakery and got a pastry for our hike. 

On the hike the weather was moderately blah – rain, drizzle, haze, etc.  At least the rain brought out the colors of the moss and rocks and tree trunks, and it wasn’t *too* chilly, although it almost seemed so when a breeze would cut across wet skin.  Nonetheless Lyco and I tramped about in the woods.  It was a good field test for my new chacos, which I highly recommend and which fit my oddly shaped feet (see a few posts below).  They were super grippy on cliff-side conditions, easy in the streams.  We’d been hiking for awhile and commenting on all the fungi that had popped up due to the recent rains, bright orange and purple and glowing green little guys, puffballs, all sorts of things, when we came across the weekend culinary delight of delights:

Scoplaw: So, these little guys that are everywhere.  I know them.  They’re. . .
Lyco:  . . .Black Trumpets! 

Blacktrumpets Pause while this sinks in, followed by lots of snatching.  We surreptitiously harvested many of these and worked them into a delicious mushroom/grits/eggs dish the next morning (I have let the remainder of this dry and will fry it up and eat it like polenta later in the week). 

During mushroom harvesting we got a bit lost (looking at ground while walking).  This was a moderately new experience for me, as I almost never get lost in the woods, even without compass and map (both of which we’d left in the car.)  The census kind of drilled me into being very careful of where I was and going point to point to point when reworking maps.  While looking at the ground we also came across this mineral that I couldn’t name – it was white, shale-like in its layering, cubic, iridescent.  It was very light, appeared to be brittle, but was not.  I’m still at a loss.  We also came across a lot of Indian Pipe (Monotropa uniflora) – a pretty flower that has no chlorophyll.  It looks like something you’d expect to see on the ocean floor.

Tasty_fish The mushrooms were easy to spot (in fact, I just got back from another small jaunt to the woods to grab another double handful which is being cooked, as I type, with tilapia, red wine, garlic, pepper, and garden oregano.)  Let me tell you, black trumpets pack quite a punch, but they’re surprisingly easy to work with.  The saddest moment on our hike came when we stumbled on a field of dead trumpets.  I could have filled a big brown grocery bag with them, had we only arrived a few days earlier. 

After we left the woods, we drove around and, among other things, I took the oppertunity to introduce a hungry Lyco to my favorite calamari place (in central CT).  Normally my saying that prompts a cocked head and a quizzical expression. 

Scoplaw: “There’s this really great place for calamari in Colchester.”
Conversational Other (cocking head, no doubt thinking of all the great port cities and their restaurants): “Uh, yeah.”
Scoplaw: “No, I mean it’s really good.  Really, really good.  I’ve had Calamari in some good places, but this is the best.”
Conversational Other (cocking head, no doubt thinking of all the great port cities and their restaurants): “Uh. . .yeah.”

I have similar experiences when telling people that the UCONN Law campus is quite scenic and located in a cute little neighborhood, that I’ve had some of the best sushi in my life in South Windsor, or that I’d rather do small/mid firm life in Providence than big firm in N.Y.C. (even if I can cash out quickly and move to a smaller market).  I’ll let Lyco tell you if the calamari was worth the small side trip.

Today we did a quick breakfast (aforementioned grits/eggs/mushrooms) and I took Lyco over to the Mark Twain House before she hit the road.  I’d not been to the Twain House in years, so it was nice to see the new museum building and go on the tour.  Twain is such an interesting and important writer for me.  For what it’s worth, I tend to like his earlier writing (Innocents Abroad) and his later, darker work (The War Prayer/Letters From Earth).  Not that his middle period (Sawyer, CT Yankee, Huck Finn) isn’t great – because it is.  I just prefer the slightly rawer, slightly darker Sam. 

As always, the trip to the Twain House makes me wonder where Hartford went wrong.  It’s easy to blame the automobile, then the highway, then white flight (into the bastion of West Hartford), but it’s harder to say why nothing seems to work to revive the city.  I could write about that for a few days straight, but I’ve a fish to eat.

Perfect 4th

The weather held.  Surprisingly.  After a summer of indoor work on papers and research, I drove south to visit Lyco in western Virginia, near the foothills of the Shenandoah.  I figured that I’d spend at least 2 of the 5 days indoors, blogging, due to inclement weather.

The drive down didn’t alter that impression.  There was sheeting torrential rain that slowed interstate traffic to 30mph.  I ended up having two gas pump conversations with people closely situated to myself.  We compared notes – they were going north, I was headed south.  Neither destination looked very good weather-wise. 

I ended up rolling into town at 3am or so – I had planned on arriving at 12, which would have included a pit stop I didn’t actually have time to make.  (Perhaps on the trip back up though.)  I was pretty frazzled when I arrived.  Earlier that morning I had finished the epic paper, finished a work memo for a complete mess of a case, mailed said paper to registrar, gotten a lift to get the rental car, swapped out my gear (including the Little Red Rocket), and left work at 5pm.  At that point, the last time I’d had a night which included 6+ hours of sleep was sometime in late May (no kidding – as the lack of blogging attests).  I think I timed everything well; the wall was looming, but I stopped just before I hit it.

So, on Friday I ended up touring Lyco’s work, meeting some attorneys I’d heard of, reading for clinic (ack – yes, I know it never ends), and chilling in a very cool coffee shop.  After work I hung out with some of Lyco’s summer interns and lost my new sunglasses.  I’m kind of bummed, but it illustrates my $5 sunglasses principal.  Spend $5 and they’re with you forever.  Spend more than that and they’ll last a month.  I was consoled by the most amazing dumplings.  Amazing.  They capped off a Southern Vegetable Plate special.  This town has some really good eating. 

On Saturday we got up and went to the farmer’s market – I was amused to see some of the same farms that go to the Takoma market.  We picked up some kale, but, alas, no eggs.  Dropping off our stuff, we bicycled up to Monticello, which was pretty impressive.  Not the biking, which was only moderately impressive, although the mountain descent was fun.  Monticello is, oddly, exactly what you’d expect it would be, given Jefferson, Francophile, Farmer, etc.  I’d write my impressions out more exactly, but it would just be repeating the same at length.  Jefferson’s designed living space accords perfectly with his interests, intellect, and ego.

On Sunday, we went hiking in the Shenandoah with a picnic lunch – crackers, lambec, a soft goat cheese with pesto, a pear, and some amazing (and I mean amazing) cold-formed chocolate with cayenne.  We ate overlooking a waterfall, near what appeared to be a bear den.  There was certainly bear shit in those woods (stinky), but we were close enough to people and isolated by a slippery rock face, so it seemed safe enough.  After an abortive attempt to try to cut around to the top of the waterfall (too steep/poison-ivyed) we tramped back.  We had to cross the river 3 times, which was wonderfully refreshing on such a muggy day.   I wore my water sandals, which was a big mistake – great in the river, but I really need something that won’t roll under my feet (more on my pedestrian feet in a bit).  Later in the evening we hooked up with K and her Public Defender Boy for sangria and law stories.  I’m glad to add yet another optimistic yet cynical guy to the PD rolls.  I ran into PDB the following morning, where he was working at the same coffee shop I’d spent my Friday, reading for the Criminal Justice clinic while waiting for his environmental law sweetie.  We noted the oddity then had what I’m thinking of as “that PD conversation” which began with a tricky evidentiary question (Fed. Court, thankfully) and included such exchanges as “On tape eh?. . .that’s not good,” and “Oh, someone besides the CW heard him say that?  And she’s a nun?  That’s not good either,” and so forth.  (Yes, dear reader, I blur the details as I always do/must; no nun was involved, but you get the drift.) 

On Monday, Lyco and I hit up several local bookstores where I found a Sean Russell novel I’ve been looking for and regretfully placed a Collected Ken Fearing back on the shelf (I used to own one – but the question is, was it lost in the great Scoplaw Booksale which reduced my library from about 1000 volumes down to about 150?  Only a perusal of the storage boxes would tell – but I suspect it’s in there).  Later we got amazing pizza (blue cheese, mozzarella, pesto, mushroom, spinach, fresh tomatoes), walked around UVA (noted Jeffersonian architecture, Edgar Allen Poe’s rooms).  Then at night we saw Superman Returns – interesting and more subtle than most critics seem to give it credit for.  Lex Luthor seemed almost a side-note, a plot-enabling device for the more human drama of the Lois/Superman relationship.  Inside that relationship, and in all his other relationships, Superman comes off as very human (that’s to say something of a cad in the complex and sticky human web of interaction.)  I mean sure, he can stop crumbling planes from hitting the ground and has good Midwestern values and all that, but can he let people know what’s going on?  Can he call?  Or be open?  Not telling a lie is overrated if you don’t say anything at all.

On Tues., we had breakfast in an awful faux Southern breakfast place, then went shopping about town for a bike rack and other odds and ends.  I haven’t been non-mission shopping in awhile, and it was nice just to do that and see what turned up. We capped that off with a nice ride in which Lyco almost went down after a rabbit literally ran under her wheels – I’m certain fur touched wheel/steel.  The rabbit and Lyco are both safe and unharmed, but Quese, alas, had a skid hole ground *through* her tire and into the tube.  Roadies may know that particular wetly hissing skid noise followed by the low pop as the tube goes.   Lyco left about 6 feet of very dark patch behind her, and all in all I’d rate it a pretty impressive stop – many riders would have gone down.   For dinner we ate in, making stuffed trout, kale, and squash.  Which, in this case, means Lyco made most of it and I pitched in with the cutting and some minor cook/prep work.  Usually I get uncomfortably jazzy for her when fine food is on the line. Unable to fix the tube, we (also) at least put a new (non swaying) rack on Quese. 

Then, alas, on Wed., I packed up and headed north, to job, family, a very irate cat, and, again, rainy weather.  Too much undone – not enough time.  Also, too much cheese and oils.  So it’s yogurt and oatmeal and granola for me (for a bit) along with running and biking.  Tomorrow. . .as I sit here with chocolate and wine as a consolation for my 8 hour drive. 

Actually the climb in the Shenandoah was taxing on my (clicking!) shoulders, but I think I could benefit from some sustained burning over the next few days.   Helping me will be the greens pilfered, en route, from the garden in Takoma – although you can’t pilfer what’s yours.  Or can you?   Inquiring legal minds want to know.

20 Minute Blogging Break

Cape:

I spent the weekend on the Cape, indoors, working on my paper.  It was a very good place to work on it though.  I was able to sleep “outdoors” on a screened in deck, which was quite nice in the rain. 

In an effort to defeat cabin/paper fever, I took a decent-length ride, again in the rain – about 20 meandering miles on backways and side roads.  The ride took me along the seacoast, which was really quite beautiful.  No one was on the roads, the sky was different sheets of gray with those dark rain-tendrils arcing down under the more distant clouds.  They seemed to interlock with the short scrub pines anchoring the sand dunes.  Whenever I crested a hill, I got that “big sky” effect from being essentially out on the ocean, then I’d descend into pine groves that would feel comfortingly enclosing, even though they were just higher than myself standing on the bike.  The surf was fairly high, and everything smelled wonderful.  I rode Lumina (fixed gear) because she’s the easiest to transfer and with her slightly deflated 27-inch tires, affords plenty of traction in the rain.  Riding a fixed in those conditions is kind of a teleological experience – either you stand up and climb the hill or you don’t.  Frees up lots of time for thought. 

**
Random Werido:

Since there was an e-mail inquiry as to what was going on in the post below, I thought write in to say that I’ve no idea who the tough guy/gal is, but it’s a real puzzler.  These type of things are always bizarre (I mean beyond the hypocrisy of some “tough person” who tries to call you out anonymously *on a blog* because they’re too chicken-shit to draft a letter or tell you to your face).

Last semester, my girlfriend received some “trying to fuck with your head” emails from an anonymous mailer.   I’m 99% sure I know who this person was, given that I knew someone who used the same obscure moniker before.  That person was a friend of someone I socially offended (by non-action no less!) and they met a bad end (nothing at all to do with me).  Given that end, I’m not surprised that the harassing emails were the product of a psychological and emotional unbalance.   It’s not possible that it’s the same person.

So I guess my question is, regarding this recent poster, have I done anything that warrants someone trying to increase harm to myself?  Is this an expression of revenge?  I mean, I honestly don’t think I’ve done anything to warrant something like that, nor am I involved in any kind of social “war” with anyone.  In the absence of personal malice directed at me for something I don’t know about, I can only conclude that this is a random expression by a juvenile/unbalanced person. 

I write “juvenile” because I think that anyone who has lived on this planet, eyes open, for even a little while, can appreciate that people have good times and bad times, that people express themselves in different ways in different forums.  So to randomly *try* to attack someone whom you’ve little connection with, only for the purpose of trying to make them hurt more, or to damage their self-esteem. . .well, perhaps it’s generous that I call it juvenile and not psychopathic.  What’s next in this person’s day – spitting on the homeless?

I like to think that such things are the result of blindness induced by privilege, but often it just arises out of spite.  Someone has a shitty life and they try to bring everyone to an equal level.  Sounds cliché, I know, but you can’t make other people escape the banality of their actions.

At the risk of belaboring the obvious, if you don’t like reading this blog, then don’t read this blog.  Take positive control of your life, John Wayne.  Be tough and don’t click on the link.  I know you can do it. 

**

While there are different (and valid) philosophies on the subject, I think it’s OK to withhold some information when discussing “how you are” – meaning that the public display (or in my case, notation) of emotional states is not an all-or-nothing thing.  I think it’s pretty valid to say, “Hey, I’m really bummed out right now due to personal reasons,” and spare everyone the gory details. 

There are people out there who want to know the underlying facts, to, I suppose, determine if the emotional distress is really warranted by the distressed person.  But I think that’s a pretty naïve way of looking at emotional processes.  If you want to critique the frequency of behavior, that might be one thing.  But even then, just because you’re dealing with someone who is *often* freaked out, it does not mean that they’re not *actually* freaked out. 

I think in retrospect that my post was a mistake; it confused people, caused pointless speculation, and really didn’t do anything but let people know I was feeling horribly confused and rudderless.  Which I suppose some people value, but most people don’t. 

I’m feeling much more like I’ve a handle on things, which, again, I suppose some people value, but most people don’t.

However the underlying facts are not entirely mine to divulge.  So that’s that.

**

Also, Mr. Scheule is a very courageous and compassionate person.  Never think otherwise.

Deleted Post

Hmm. 

I have to delete this post.  I'd meant it to be an expression of frustration/confusion, but it's causing too much speculation.  I certainly didn't intend for it to be a cryptic cry for help or anything - I was just feeling overwhelmed about something I feel I need to keep partially under wraps and thought I'd note my feelings in the blog. 

It somehow got tabbed for the law weekly roundup, which I have to say is pretty sruprising.  There are far more interesting things out there in the world. 

I'm totally fine.  No limbs lost. 

Best to all,

RJ

Photos by request

I'm posting up some garden pictures (click for larger image).  One shows off blurry green tomatos (high wind conditions). 
Tomats










Nest Another the bird nest from which a robin erupts every time the back door is opened.  Poor robin.  Dumb robin.  The robin relates to my garden because it causes me to swear every time I open the door to check on the garden. 







Small_garden The last shows my mobile herb garden.  It's planted in some kind of plastic heavy equipment trunk.  I unpinned the cover, drilled holes in the bottom, laid down some mulch, then with Lyco's help put in the rest of our compost (sifted) and planted rosemary, Thai basil, dwarf basil, oregano, a tumbling tom tomato, a dwarf tomato, mint, thyme, lemon thyme, cilantro.  But not in that order.  It should last me a few weeks.  Oh – and the small pot is full of catnip. Mrrrrow.

Blogging

From a small single proprietor breakfast shack where the owner is the cook.  Although the menu is simple, everything here is slightly off kilter in a good way.  Unusual spices, a strong cornmeal texture to the rich buttermilk pancakes, and eggs which come out with pinpoint precision as to their consistency.

I'm hacking through the paper, and this place is amenable to focusing, but I just thought I'd note the moment. The place is so anti-corporate cookie cutter, so small-town New England.  I'm glad places like these exist, and are even still coming into being.   

The Slow Blawg Goodnight

Well, the blawg’s been slow – what can I say.  I’m afraid this will be another catch up post.

I’m now safely ensconced in Secret Summer Location 1.  I’ve had swankier digs, but it’s hard to beat the price (non-existant).  My plan was to take advantage of the free lodgings and use my money to buy a car and fund it.  I figured that gas would always be cheaper than rent.

So now I’m in CT, driving another car on the edge of death (recent model year, high mileage, beaten to within an inch of it’s interior life by the salesman that used to own it).  But she’s sweet, and she’s mine.  And I’m once again mobile in NE, with a) too many places to go, and b) too few free hours.

The reason for my lack of time is largely the summer associate position.  I’m working at  a small firm that represents policy holders against their insurance agencies.  Since the insurance agencies are generally some of the deepest pockets in the game, this will be a fascinating experience insofar as I’ll get a peek into how the cash moves about some major lawsuits.  It’s also kind of odd since I’ve done research for three major headline cases since I’ve been there.  (Think “really big disaster” and there’s a good chance I’ll be involved.)

The firm seems humane, professional, and very organized for a small group.  Everyone’s been helpful and friendly, and there’s a distinct lack of bullshit and posturing (thank god).  There are about 30 people in the office, including staff and summer associates.  Those associates come from Georgetown and Quinnipiac, and they’re a fine bunch.  Not quite as raucous as the Public Defender Interns, but that’s probably a good thing in the more sedate world of insurance law.   

I tend to get up at 6:45 to hit the office at 8:30, but I can generally leave at 5pm, which is nice.  The commute’s been just about as long as I can stand, so overall the job’s taking about 11-12 hours a day, depending.  The rest of my time (I’ve only been here a week) has involved setting up shop, unpacking, procuring summer necessities, and trying to get my body toned up a bit, post-finals.

To that end, I’ve done some running, some biking.  On Saturday, I decided to go for a longer ride as I’d been feeling sluggish.  I borrowed a mountain bike (very much in need of a tune up) and decided to do the hop river trail (and spur).  It’s about 27-30 miles to the midpoint of the loop, which is Willimantic.  I stopped at the brewery and had a tuna steak sandwich and a local brew - this is after I had squeezed the water out of my shirt.  While the food was good (I’d rhapsodize, NeoTokyoTimesStyle, but I’m currently in a post work haze and writing this largely out of a feeling of guilt)  the room was chilly, which cooled me down very quickly – too quickly in fact.  When I got outside again, the temperature had dropped down to the low 50s.  With the windchill, that equated to the mid 40s.  No good when you’re soaked to the bone and wearing lycra.  So I rode over to the local job lot in search of a windbreaker or poncho – anything to hold in some body heat.  The only thing I could find was a Bell “workout suit” – basically rubberized fabric to make fat people sweat a bit more during their workouts.  While it kept me warm, it looked very foolish, judging from the amused looks I got as I rode down the trail.  (Granted, there were only two joggers and a dog walker, but they were *very* amused.)  Those looks were probably well deserved – you could comfortably fit 3 of me in that thing.

My final paper is still pending – it must gel soon.  I just need to go step by step and let my revisions/cite-checks accrue.  Sigh.  Motivation is lacking.  Time is lacking.  But, as a wise man once said, waddayagonnado?

One of the motivation-killers was the receipt of two grades, one decent, the other decent (but on the bottom of a highly curved class, so an opportunity to further grow the GPA lost).  I have to say that for the second class, I’m not surprised.  The class followed a script that I just wasn’t on board for (you know, one of those courses where during class 6, students should have the revelation X, but only to the extent that you tilt your head to the side and doggishly say “Golly, Professor, I’d never thought of *that* before.” And no more. Just log the moment, let the professor smile fatuously, and move on.)  I’ve never been good at that.

Once the paper is done, I’ll be able to visit people, put weekends aside, etc.  I can’t wait for my summer to begin.

Congrats

Big day for a good person.

Mobile, Summer Plans, Criminal Justice Clinic

One of the keys (for me) to studying is to remain mobile.  Work for a few hours, walk to a new place, study with fresh mind.   Of course you want to be careful that you’re not privileging the creation of atmosphere over hard time spent in the books, but here (and elsewhere) stress can be distracting to the point of dragging down your educational productivity. 

For example, I’ve thusfar spent about 2 hours during exam period in the library – and that was during first semester, 1L.   Some of that may be “atmosphere” literally – put two hundred or so stressed out individuals in the same building, and the place will hormonally/pheromonally reek of stress.  Seriously, you walk into the building and there’s an almost palpable anxiety to the place. 

This fuels my longstanding habit of studying in coffee shops, out of the way corners on campus (which I will share when I am finally done), and home, at the kitchen table, in the back yard hammock, in a lawnchair by the garden.   I can stress myself out *just fine* thank you very much.   

**
Other “Exciting” Scoplaw updates. 

I bought some new clothes (mostly underthings and socks) for the summer as much of my existing rig is heavy cotton/wool winter stuff.   They were all, of course, discounted, as I loathe paying retail for almost anything.  Now I should be able to show up for work without busting into sweat (which was a problem even going from office to courthouse last summer).  I also bought some trail running shoes via Sierra Trading post, which brings me to update number 2.

I recently went running with Lyco.  It was a pretty minimal run, but I haven’t actually run regularly (meaning for exercise or for more than two blocks) since Scotland, which is now over 10 years past.   I’ve run while playing Frisbee (I’ve mentioned I’m a Frisbee junkie?) and while playing softball, but it’s not the same as just going for many blocks. 

The minimal run *crushed* my legs rendering them tender/sore 48 hours later; which means I ought to do a bit more running, to strengthen whatever is weak.  Hopefully it will have good effects on the cycling, as the circuit training has.  I’m planning on doing some trail running in CT, although, alas, all the fields in which I used to play as a child have been developed into housing.  Still, there’s a good place not too far away that I can bike to.  It’s very hilly and should be challenging. 

This, of course, has me thinking about the summer.  I’ll be spending much of it working and commuting.  I also need to spend the very first part of the summer (late spring really) prepping for the job, then the very last part of the summer settling back into DC, sending out various kinds of applications, and prepping for the Criminal Justice Clinic (link to the video which is pretty cool – about 6 min in you get to the “meaty” issues).  It looks like there will be some overlap from the Public Defender’s office, but I’m looking at that as an opportunity to really improve my investigation, communication, litigation, and (actual) courtroom skills.  I am officially stoked.

From the Clinic's website:

The premise of clinical education is that students learn best when theory is actually applied in the practice of law, and students reflect upon their performance and related issues. Students in the Criminal Justice Clinic represent defendants in misdemeanor cases in the District of Columbia Superior Court and residents of the Lorton prison in post-conviction matters. The most common charges include assault, prostitution, drug possession, theft, unlawful entry, destruction of property, shoplifting, and weapon offenses. Caseloads are light and trial work is closely supervised by Clinic professors and teaching fellows to maximize educational benefits.

Student attorneys in the Clinic are responsible for all aspects of the case. Before their term in the Clinic is finished, students will have interviewed and counseled clients, conducted extensive fact investigation, drafted and filed motions, argued motions, examined witnesses, filed sentencing memoranda and argued on behalf of their clients. The experience in the Clinic is often exhilarating, sometimes exhausting, and occasionally frustrating; it is never boring.

There are also two two-hour seminars weekly. Through readings, videotapes, discussion, role plays, and simulated trial practice exercises, the classes focus on topics such as the role and professional obligations of a criminal defense attorney; ethical issues and broader systemic issues; client representation skills, such as interviewing, counseling, negotiation, and investigation; trial skills such as opening statements, closing arguments, and witness examinations; and mastery of the law of evidence and criminal procedure essential to superior representation

So, over the summer, with my “non-law” time, I’ll be again, sticking with the big activities: Poetry, reading/book promotion (separate issue from poetry), Cycling (running/weights), and spending as much daylight time outdoors as humanly possible.  I’d also like to plant a herb garden, make blueberry wine, finish a bicycle or two (perhaps).  Then there’s the non-law writing, mostly about poetics. . .and when you factor in the weekends away (N.Y.C., Boston (to see the James Bond Watch), Charlottesville (to see Lyco), well, it’s going to be a fully busy summer.

Backup Plans

Just in case I flunk out of Law School, I have a back up plan.  Come hither all who seek fat and sugar:

Icecream






Also, the Lincoln Memorial, cause it's pretty.  Actually, a walk through the mall was a welcome balm to a disappointing class experience (famous guest speaker who punted more frequently than (insert football punchline here)), and a hectic few days.  It's really past due to chalk up a hearty "fuck you" to all the condescending academics who mail it in when they speak to law students.  Like I want to fork over X grand to see somebody's pal a) name drop, b) tell us how good we have it, c) hold forth on basically nothing at painfully exhausting length, d) mangle legal rationales, d) punt every serious question (see above.)  It's bad enough when profs mail it in, but at least you get some doctrine out of it.  When guest speakers do it's just insulting.  And it's not due to a divergence of political ideas; I've heard people I grossly disagree with speak and loved every second of it. . .

We're in exam-a-mania time.  Study poems to be posted soon.   

Linc

Concerts I have been to

I am shamelessly pilfering the idea from Scheherazade, who is never at an end for good blogging ideas.  I wrote down all the ones I could think of off the top of my head, which leaves out a fair number of acts.  Some were seen multiple times.  I've seen The Queers most often, followed closely by Jonathan Richman.  Best live show for dance/energy = Fishbone.  Most boisterous crowd = Pogues (in Boston).  Best complete theatrical/musical experience = Peter Gabriel.  Best upright bass surfing = The Rev. Horton Heat.

Allstonians
Belly
Bim Skala Bim
Cliffs of Dooneen
Concrete Blonde
Cranes
Dead Can Dance
Fishbone
James
Jonathan Richman
Levellers
Matthew Sweet
Midnight Oil
Mighty Mighty Bosstones
Morphine
Old Crow Medicine Show
Peter Gabriel
Pixies
Pogues
Psychedelic Furs
Rev. Horton Heat
Sinead O’Connor
Sleater-Kinney
Slowdive
Spring Heeled Jack
Sting
The 17 Relics
The Ocean Blue
The Queers
The Toasters
They Might Be Giants
Throwing Muses
Thumper
Toad the Wet Sprocket
Tree
Tribe
U2
Versus
Ziggy Marley

Happy Birthdays

Justice John Paul Stevens turns 86 today.

Lyco turns less tomorrow. 

Many more years (and elections) for both of them I hope. 

Stolen Kisses

Stolen Keystrokes actually.  I’m working on a draft for a paper, which is kind of interesting – well, I find it interesting at any rate.

On Friday, I helped move some of Thinks-Before-She-Speaks’ effects to her new digs.  It was actually a team of us v. the weather.  The morning started with a wet ride across DC.  Little Red Rocket handles well in the rain, but Physics – well, she’s unwilling to compromise for anyone; this means a long slow, upright, pushing, creeping downhill ride.  After that it was fairly easy.  I got to wear my dorky rain hat – it’s actually a waterproof slouch hat, which handles the sun equally well.  And given that we had bands of torrential rain followed by bursts of sunlight, I couldn’t ask for better head gear.  The rest of the “us” were mostly American Law students.  There’s always that minor tail-sniffing that goes on, but I’ve always been impressed with the AU students I’ve encountered.   Or perhaps TBSS just attracts good people no matter where she goes.

After the move I met Lyco in Dupont for lunch/dinner.  Just before she showed up, Critial Mass was leaving on it’s monthly ride, which I joined for a few circles.  I haven’t ridden with CM for awhile, so it was nice to do.  I immediately fell back into sheepdog mode, riding on the flank of the pack, holding traffic.  (Still We Ride!)

I swung back to Dupont and Lyco and I walked up to Adam’s Morgan, where we had Ethiopian and grabbed an after-dinner coffee at Tryst, metroed home, and continued to work on our papers.  (After warming up – I spent the entire day in states of relative dampness.)

Yesterday was paper, paper, paper, complete with sugar-crash at about 10PM, and a quick skim over a newly released translation of the Gospel of Judas.  I got quite a bit done.  Today is the polishing stage, where I attempt to translate my caveman like grunts (“L.P.Devlin – PX basis: revit Dwyer) to something a bit more erudite.   I don’t understand why the school has draft phases due;  I really rely on placeholders for some arguments/sections as when pushing into new intellectual territory I seldom write the entire thing of a piece.  I think it perfectly fine to write a “chunk” that you’re strong on, put in a placeholder, then move on to the next chunk while thinking about the placeheld argument.  This first draft stuff is silly – you may as well just have the paper due early.   (OK, I lie, I do understand why this is done - I just don’t agree with it.  Some of us work a bit differently.)

Today is paper, paper, paper, complete with a trip up the street to the farmer’s market for sugary snacks.  And coffee.  And paper.

Rough first paragraph/overview:

Recently, contemporary cognitive neuroscientists, philosophers and psychologists have been discussing the possibility of an innate morality.  The debate on innate morality ranges from the extremes of a “hard wired” morality to a tabula rasa mind written over by culture, although there is growing evidence for some level of innate moral faculty, often analogized to the Chompskian language faculty.  Some positions within the debate might on first glance be alarming, as they seem to threaten to re-invigorate certain lines of natural law argumentation around a biologically ordained moral axis.  In this paper I will consider a spectrum of “innate morality” arguments and note which ones have the greatest potential to be used in debate due to their seeming determinative nature.  I will then show how those few positions have logical inconsistencies which render them indeterminate.  Though I limit myself to the consideration of homosexual acts and gay marriage (eschewing the issue of a sexual orientation) as, respectively, an example of individual acts which might be condemned and a change in a long standing societal institution which might be condemned, I hope that the arguments and reasoning below might be amenable to application in other social and political contexts.

More Bang for the Plug-In Buck

Thanks to Kent's recommendation, I picked up a small digital camera to use for snapshot purposes while riding.  The quality isn’t great, but it’s passable and it fills a useful spot for “Bad Weather” camera – hiking, biking, rafting, what-have-you.  The focus is manual, and it’s powered by 2AAA batteries.   

It’s $9 for the refurbished version.  Plus, it looks like a spy-cam.

**

My sound card is fried, according to some diagnostics I ran, all due to a random static spark generated by sitting on a couch then touching the corner of my laptop with my finger.  That means if I want to have sound (poetry, DVDs, Itunes) I’d have had to ship the computer back to Gateway, have them fix it, then have them ship it back, a process which could take 5-11 business days – or, in other words, up to regular 15 days, if all goes well.  I can't be without the laptop for 2 weeks at this point in the semester.

Luckily, I came up with a good work around – the Turtle Beach Audio Advantage, which is a USB sound card that functions independently of your system's sound card.  It works *great* - for anyone who wants to replace their sound card, or upgrade from a crappy internal laptop card, it’s a steal at $30. My old sound card was pretty good, and the Audio Advantage is at least as good.  It arrived in 4 days, UPS ground.

That Kind of Afternoon

Yeah, it's the Sex Pistols all the way to Evidence. . .

Jesse Prinz postulated that the driving emotional base behind punk was Contempt - the furrowed brow, the upturned lip.  And it's interesting that Contempt is often the emotion we feel when we apprehend a wrong done to the social order (as opposed to the natural order - where we'd feel disgust, or the person - where we'd feel anger; actually a full chart of transgressor, object transgressed against, and the relative position of the speaker to that interaction would be much more complex.)  Thus, Punk has its strongest correlation with a class critique.  Fucking Duh.

Sexpistols_3

Farmed Out

Sometimes your writing/typing/thinking activities take place elsewhere, off in the non-blawgable world.  Recently much of my time has been taken up with an interesting CrimLaw/Evidence/Cognition convergence; specifically the concept of provocation.  What identical acts will our society shunt into the crime/non-crime boxes, given slight changes of circumstances?  Can one provoke an individual into a violent response in a way that obviates or mitigates that individual’s responsibility?  What details carry weight above/beyond the “mere facts” of a case?  What’s actually involved in judgment - meaning how much do "non-rational" factors impact the final decisions of a factfinder? 

Consider the implications of one recent experiment: a person in an environment that produces disgust (seated at a dirty desk w/ used tissue and old pizza boxes) is more likely to rate the *exact same* hypothetical scenario as *more* morally blameworthy than someone seated at a clean desk.    Schnall, S., Haidt, J., & Clore, G.L. (2005). Irrelevant disgust makes moral judgments more severe, for those who listen to their bodies. Unpublished manuscript, University of Virginia.) I might actually blog about some of this in the near future; it would be interesting to see if "irrelevant disgust" (if that's what we're dealing with here, beyond a sense of annoyance, etc, which the criminal justice system could well instill in juries) might be tied to racism, or certain cultural stereotypes - meaning that the grossly racially-skewed crime/punishment statistics might be partially explained by jury racism being channeled through a disgust path rather than an 'overt act of prejudice' path.  Meaning that, even if a latent racist were able to consciously not-discriminate against minorities in say, a hiring situation, might not the emotional reaction of an unconscious racist make them predisposed to view a crime scenario more harshly if a minority was involved?  This depends on the emotional component of racism and how it's expressed - which would still make it racism, of course, but the mechanism might be a bit different than it's often thought to be. (Just throwing that out there - it's not a firmly-held thesis of mine.  Right now most of the research tends to back the idea of "background racism" or "institutional racism"  where an intersection of factors, such as low levels of education, poverty, lack of institutional capital, etc. work against minorities - but this idea would push back towards a conception of racism as an intensifier that impacts discrete actions to a measurable extent.  Not that you can't have both.) 

Further - how does that emotional response interact with "reason," and other constructs like class and gender-roles.  I'm thinking of a character in a novel/play/memoir?, a woman who kept remarking about her sheltered life and being exposed to a railway car and being very aware it was "lower class sweat" she was smelling - and that it smelled different/wrong.  Can anyone help me out with this?  It's a throw-away line from something I read about 12 years ago - I no longer have my personal notes from that time of my life.  Spark?  Woolf? 

Of course, this does not begin to address questions of selective enforcement - i.e., who gets put into the criminal justice system by the police.  For example, "In Maryland, a state survey of police traffic stops -- ordered by the state court in response to state troopers' use of racial profiling -- found that from January 1995 through December 1997, 70 percent of the drivers stopped on Interstate 95 were African Americans. According to an ACLU survey conducted around that time, only 17.5 percent of the traffic and speeders on that road were African American."  Cole, David, "No Equal Justice: Race and Class in the American Criminal Justice System" (New York: The New Press, 1999), p. 36.

So, that's partially where my brain has been.

Seth has been turning over some legal thoughts lately, which are, as usual, fascinating.

I’ve yet to get back to Thomas and Flarf (the Explication de Texte posts) – perhaps this weekend, which would only put me at one week overdue.

Also, in the poetry world, I’ve been reading up on the Zoo Press Debacle.

Everything seems on-track for my reading.  It’s amazing how much effort goes into gathering a bunch of people in a room. 

Off to class!

Aw

And this erases any bitterness I have about politics. 

Aw Yea!!

One of my fav. LS peeps does herself good!!

Many happy years ahead, I'm sure. 

Attack of the Soy Demons

Why does American Big Food insist on putting soy in everything?  Soy and salt.  Well, at least I’m only allergic to soy. 

**

Also, in related news (not really) I’ll be attempting to respond to Thomas over the weekend re: Flarf.  Now that the heat of the moment has passed on the issue, we should be able to get a useful, albeit unnoticed (or should that read, “thankfully unnoticed”) exchange going.  For anyone still curious, I’d recommend following the Thomas link to his recent explications.

**

My remarks on the Moussaoui trail did get noticed – by Slate, which means my hit counter has been spinning.  They got my name wrong, but, eh, it’s not like the post below is the most profound thing anyone’s written on the subject.

**

I’ve been conceptually stalled on a poem.  It’s the closest thing I ever get to Writer’s Block – I see the poem, I know the arc and the texture of it, but I can’t hear the poem quite just yet.   Soon. . .soon.

**

Saw the “new” Cinema Paradiso, the one in which we get to find out what happened to Elena.  Although not bad, the first was a much more elegant film I think.  Anyone out there seen both versions?


In Lieu

Of reading me, I offer an amusing article on "the 2L hangover" by the Notorious Nabong and;

A damn fine poem, (also featured in the Digerati anthology).


Active Tense

Well, blogging has been a challenge lately – not because of blogging per se, but because I have so little “free” time. Now, I don’t mean to suggest I’m being run ragged, because I’m simply not. I take time to cook and eat and get exercise and read and see the odd movie and so forth. Law School is a full time job, but not a 70hr per week one. However, what LS effectively does is suck up your reading/writing reserves. And normally, come 10:40 PM, when I’m considering what to do with my free hour or so, looking at a white expanse on my lighted laptop screen is pretty damn low on the list. I should probably start adopting a 15 minute per day blogging regimen if I hope to endure the working world.

It's unfortunate as there’s been no end of potentially bloggable topics lately. Here are a few.

Oral Arguments

Last night, The Jude Walker and I sat as judges for the 1Ls oral arguments. Our former Legal Process prof (the Section 3 equivalent of Legal Research and Writing) produced a splendid bench memo and some good tipping point questions to get us rolling. The whole experience was a great deal of fun. We heard arguments for 3 and a half hours, and I was ready for still more at the end. TJW and I fell into a pretty good pattern of questioning with her taking the lead for some lines of inquiry and me taking the lead for others. TJW is a pretty hard core moot court participant (she’ll be in the nationals this year) and I think that greatly informed her bench-presence. I merely tried to copy a few judges I knew – with all their groping and grasping and “concerns.” I think we managed to cover most of the substantive issues in the exercise and also address a decent spread of mock judicial behavior, ranging from cutting off the attorneys to asking slightly off-topic or repetitious questions. Whatever we threw at these students they neatly avoided and moved on. Sure, there were different levels of accomplishment and each had discrete strengths and weaknesses, but they *all* impressed me at some point in their arguments (and I’m not just saying that to say it). I’m pretty grateful for the experience in no small part because it gave me a glimpse into how a judge might try to reign in and direct a galloping attorney; it’s more difficult than it looks.

Gymishness

Well, I finally and belatedly made the jump to circuit training, which I should have done earlier in the winter. I suppose my spinning routine approximates it (doing hill work at ridiculous tension) but it’s nice to isolate the muscles. I have to say that it still feels like cheating to a degree. After a round at the weight machines, I feel (and my legs look) as though I’ve been riding for an hour or so. I’m such a weight room novice though – I have no idea as to the rituals, behavior, or best way to go about things. I *was* secretly pleased with my cyclist legs – I actually got a doubletake from a weights guy with the amount I was pushing with those cordy little legs. I can’t wait for better bike weather.

Bookatude

I’ve gotten some blurbs for the book and while I enjoy hearing what people say, it’s difficult not to feel like a bit of a fraud.

I mean, I do very much enjoy talking about, even arguing, poetics. I also have no qualms about dropping names, relating conversations, talking about my experiences and even relying on those to even the playing field for my arguments, though I try very hard not to go beyond that. (Mostly because I believe there are a great number of naked emperors in the poetry world.)

It becomes very different when praise is directed at yourself from a third party. On one hand it’s useful to provide quick entry into my project, and what’s being said is not invalid. Still. . .still it’s quite hard to deal with. I’d almost much rather have done the entire thing through a persona, if such were possible, which I’m afraid makes me come of as aloof sometimes, in my non-eager courting of reviews.

I think I thought I thunk a thought

Thusfar, one of my most fascinating classes this semester has been my oft-alluded to Law and Philosophy Seminar on Emotion, Cognition, and Law – in no small part because we’re currently addressing mental states in my Criminal Law class. It’s really interesting to watch how the legal profession has created a workable theory of human psychology vis-a-vis crime: e.g., the crime of “passion,” for which a defendant becomes more culpable if they’ve gone through a “cooling off” period. And while one can easily and truthfully say that unless one is dealing with a psychopathic individual, that all thought is concurrent with and colored by many emotions and moods, and that even our “rational” thought is often deeply colored by emotion which causes us to make completely irrational decisions (smoking, driving over 55 on the highway) yet this does not deter the law from neatly splitting reason and emotion. Well, not that the law *does* but the language that the law uses seems to, which creates a tension in how potential jurors might approach issues.

The format of the class makes it all the more enjoyable, with visiting scholars each week. Norm Finkel and Jonathan Marks were the two most recent, and thus far my favorites.

Protest Notes

The school’s paper keeps printing negative takes on the protest (they refuse to print responses to those articles and letters to the editors). Two of the most recent letters were ridiculous.

One was a fairly embarrassing screed against Vietnam era protestors (?!?) as being dangerously misguided and wrong. I felt as though the protest was some kind of odd trigger for this poor man – one of those otherwise jovial uncles who was by some chance associative link catapulted back in time to refight a particularly traumatic rhetorical battle which was lost 30 years ago.

The other was from a judge who was apparently under the impression that the student protest had taken place inside a courtroom and that we should have displayed the same reservation and respect that prominent civil rights leaders had in the courtroom. ‘Cause I’m absolutely sure that Marshall and King would thoughtfully point out at *political speeches given by their opponents* that “those segregationalist racists really had some intellectually defensible points after all.”

I was also told that some of the student groups are now under surveillance. (Cheery Wave!) “Hello Alberto!”

Really

I'm not dead - just silly-busy.  I'll put up some posts in the near future, but it was nice to take a small break from the blog.  Apologies to those I haven't written to (Amy and Mo in particular) via e-mail.  Workspillover hits everything with its sticky spatter.  Ain't that a great image?

Anyway, T-Rex was in town, I'm doing a bit of judging for the 1L oral arguments (with a great set of judges), I finally saw "Romy and Michelle," the proof for the book proceeds, the garden has been turned, the house cleaned, the finances sorted and processed, the gym hit well and often (but the bike, alas, not hit at all), food bought, readings done, studies made, poetry written, classes have been interesting (especially Law and Philosophy: Emotion, Cognition, and Law.  Given some of the things we've gone over in the last of those, the "rights" poll does not surprise me, but the lay sense of justice and law has proved (even via flawed methodology) to be quite comforting to me.

More in a bit.

What I do with my Time.

Rjsouthpark

Rudderless

We have a min-break at GULC due to a faculty retreat.  There are a number of things I want to get done with my free time, but it’s hard to motivate myself after eating a stack of pancakes.  Mmm.  Carbs.  Perhaps a list will help.  Or not.  Never underestimate the power of pancakes to such the motivational spirit out of you.

Things done:
Go shopping with Lyco via Zipcar to restock the pantry with non-perishables which should last us deep into spring.  Like pancake mix.  And syrup.

Things to do: 
Construct an El Gato Perfecto proof screen/shield for Lyco’s young kale and greens.  (EGP loves her greenage, it's too cold to put the little guys outside and they're fast outgrowing their seeding tray).

Work on a LS/Poetry essay dealing with different types of thought.

Redo the website to make it cleaner and less serif-y.

Clean/order the room/house.

Try to translate Evidence into English.

Suit up and go on a bike ride (or failing that, hit the stationary at the gym.) 

Catch up on correspondence with friends.

Write a poem that’s been floating about in my head for a few days.

Why do I think that there’s something I’m forgetting?

My Cat the Flower Sniffer

It’s kind of odd, but my cat loves flowers.  The Forrester Goddess brought over an Arabian Violet (doubtless I’m now in some database), as a housewarming gift.  For awhile things were touch and go with the plant as it got acclimated to its new space in the kitchen by the window, wilt, perk, wilt, prune, bloom.  I was worried that El Gato Perfecto would kill the plant during the process.  At first kind of reluctantly shared the space until she found she could more effectively stalk birds (through the window) by hiding behind the plant.  Every now and then she’d raise her head and delicately sniff, sniff, the flowers.   When dogs sniff they like to try to inhale the object into their nose.  EGP sets up a bit away and uses her lungs like a bellows, as though she’d draw the scent in with a kind of sustained pull. 

Apparently she was doing a lot of this, because when Lyco was dead-heading the plant (so that it will keep blooming) EGP became very agitated, much like she does when I try to trim her thumb-claws.  She chirped and barked and tried to swat the scissors away from the plant.  Afterward she sniffed over the plant carefully, checking for damage.  Upon finding none, she curled up next to the plant and kept watch.  Ever since then I’ve noticed how she looks at all the houseplants (she likes to chew on the ferns and clover) but pays particular attention to whatever is flowering at the time.  Whenever there are flowers in the house, she’ll sit next to them and sniff them.  Since she’s normally a clever monkey-ball of teeth and claws I find her flower obsession both endearing and amusing.   

Snow Go

The District was hit last night with part of the storm that hammered the east coast.  Given that DC is very much a fringe city (having both Northern and Southern elements), it's odd to see things like the metro running smoothly, and (some) roads efficiently plowed, but local stores closed at 12pm. 

I love snow.  Largely because it means a drastic increase in the amount of light (brightness) and because it (at least when falling or sitting on branches) tends to dim ambient sound.  Which results in things close to you sounding louder and clearer.  Plus, it's doing a nifty job insulating the house. 

I've made a black bean soup for lunch (heavy on the cilantro, bay, and chilis) - so now all I have to do is work (ack!)  Actually, it shouldn't be that bad of a study day.

Two photos - our back yard, looking at our neighbor's deck, and El Gato Perfecto coming out to investigate the snow.  (BTW - I have no idea why uploading photos makes them look so gray.  They're really quite bright white on both my camera and my computer.  Anyone else notice this about typepad?)

Dsc00815




Dsc00818

Blawgging Pause

Hmm.   I seem to have been thrown into a blogging pause by both the Airy Poetic Posts and the protest posts.  Sometimes when a single subject takes over your blog, you let the mundanities slip.  And when they slip, it’s hard to return to them (for the contrast makes them seem trite) and it’s hard to compile them as they start to slip out of immediate memory. 

Part of the whole blogging project (for me at least) is to create a kind of record of where I was, what I was doing.  It’s nice to be able to look back in time to this point last year, or two years ago (soon), and have some sense of how I was doing with eating, riding, writing, reading, etc.   

Often small details from old posts will become very evocative.  For example, yesterday I was reading one simple post (a few sentences long) about eating blueberries and coffee for lunch this summer, and, in a quasi-Proustian moment, was transported to a very warm summer in central CT, two years past.  I very clearly recalled the car I was driving (now dead), the parking lot of the local market, the village green with its lichened war-memorials, the local pub (really pubish, as opposed to barish, actually), and all that was on my mind at the time;  Law school preparations: worries about what the experience would be like: worries about what it would do to me, how my relationships would change: details of plans I had for poems and for projects: there’s really almost an endless amount that the human brain can hold. 

Well, perhaps not endless, but were I to try to write down everything that was in my head that afternoon, to trace all the branches out, it would be the work of a lifetime.  And how remarkable that this holds true for everyone – that the hundreds of people I will see today (with my own eyes, let alone those who are screened from me by buildings) will each be encoding, compiling, weaving together the complex strands of their lives, that any given person is involved in the most intricate and vast network of experiences and thoughts.

So- to the mundane.  I am sitting at my kitchen table, drinking coffee, listening to Paul Westerberg, and looking at the sunlight threading through the slightly yellowed winter grass and skipping off the deep green moss of our backyard.

Montana is upstairs, drying her hair and mulling plans to ride her bicycle this weekend.  (Actually the house “utility” bicycle, I need to get down to Chain Reaction (when they re-open in their new location) and buy a set of cranks for her mixte ten-speed which I pulled off the side of the road and restored as far as I could restore it.)

Idaho is somewhere, doing her Idaho thing.  She’s pretty amazing in how she just racks up the internships, jobs, etc.  She was over at the Justice Department last semester – prompting the joke of her miming picking up her phone and saying, in a mock-authoritarian voice “This is Idaho, from *Justice.*”

Lyco is off at school, in a seminar, and when she returns, we’re going to bike down to Georgetown proper (the Law School has a completely different campus from the main University).  The plan is twofold – I will try to get to a meeting on campus for one of my various sneaky projects (brain/adacemic stuff), and then Lyco and I will attempt to scrounge some fantastic bread, enthusiastically recommended by The Pragmatist.  I might get a daily planner since there’s been an explosion of deadlines, events, speakers, etc.  (Every year I fight a losing battle where I hand-draw and bind a calendar, then eh. . .  I always end up getting a mass produced plastic one which can stand my lugging it everywhere.)  It should be an interesting ride; I’m used to winter riding, but this will be a first for Lyco.   

Well, that’s mundane – but wait!  Here’s mundaner – I have to clean the frying pan (the red one I got with Comrade Roommate) as last night I made a portabella rarebit.  I’ll share the recipe (keeping in mind that I tend to make things up on the spot and will add and subtract ingredients.)

Get yourself:

2 or 3 portabella mushroom caps, sliced thin.
1 garlic clove, chopped
¼ of a large onion, chopped (about ¼ of the total mushroom mass)
Small bit of sharp cheese – ¼ cup.  I used a cheddar. 
Small glass of water
Powdered mushrooms (various dried mushrooms ground in a coffee/spice grinder) and/or nutritional yeast (flour if you must)
Capful of liquid smoke
Dash of lemon juice
Pinch cyanine
Pinch rosemary
Pinch sage
Fresh ground black pepper
Two thick pieces of toast

Heat (medium) a teaspoon of olive oil in a non-stick frying pan, add the garlic and onions. 
When the onions are translucent, add the mushroom caps and spices.
When the caps begin to cook and reduce judiciously add a bit of water to keep them from sticking. 
When the mushrooms release their water, add the powdered mushrooms and yeast (to thicken the liquid).  Add the lemon juice, liquid smoke, cheese.
Cook until it smells good and is hot.

Pour onto toast.  Eat. Ummmm.  The only fat is from the olive oil. 

Some people like to swap out ingredients – the yeast can be overpowering so I generally go with a 3:1 Powdered Mushroom:Yeast ratio.  Also, you want to be careful that the cheese isn’t too sharp, which makes the whole thing taste a bit acidic instead of earthy.  Tamari is good to add in (unless, like me, you have a soy allergy).  Some people use a brown roux or a bit of milk for the base of the “gravy” – each requires adjustments to the recipe so that the final product is not too oily or liquid.   

Outta Here

OK Compadres - the monkey is out of the box, the barn doors are burning and the horses have eaten all the hay.  Or something like that. 

Anyway, I'm officially  decloaking the blog.  My name is RJ McCaffery; my website (woefully in need of updating) is here.

I was tempted to do some kind of closet/outing allegorical post, but there seemed little enough point to it, given that almost everyone knows who I am anyway.

Best,

RJ

Left and Right, Poetry and Law, Tick and Tock

It’s a pretty odd time in my life – given the events swirling around me.  I suppose there’s nothing *new* about that as it pretty much always seems to be an odd time in my life, but as I age, it’s both harder and easier to engage with public dialogues on poetry and politics.  Harder because one looks back to the past and a set of political/poetical issues which is rapidly becoming dated (if not obsolete), easier because the new issues seem to be variations on what’s already been done. 

Nonetheless, I seem filled with a compulsion to respond to things – letters, blogs, ideas.  Perhaps it’s because I read (daily) a lot of positional crap both in the poetry world and in the political world, and I’ve got a basic character itch to point out the other side.  Not that I think I have the exclusive answer on anything, but I know I can at least offer a gloss that will deepen some of the issues. Perhaps this is a kind of laziness on my part – to cling to the idea that if I just *say* something, then it’s going to impact the debate, and that people won’t continue to spout the same old drivel (e.g., the perennial B.A.P. debate), and then *they* might say something that advances my understanding.

Further, how does one balance the impulse to speak to many (as I apparently do via the blog – my hit counter is going crazy) or to engage with a few individuals (who are often like-minded to begin with.)

There’s just not enough hours in the day.

Stay tuned for more banal clichés.  After which I might actually try to write something useful on law and poetry.

Paper Trail

I need to get some old medical/academic records, well, that’s to say that I’d *like* to get some old records to help ease a process along.

Remember when, back in the day, if you belched in class, there was a threat you’re your action would go into your “permanent record?”  Well, my “permanent record” is gone.  Yep, all those youthful indiscretions and accomplishments wiped out, save for my bare transcript (grades 9-12) with my SAT scores noted in pen on it (official record of those SAT scores are gone as well.)

My old pediatrician is dead – records destroyed.  The 4th grade teacher/tutor who might have had personal records – also dead, records destroyed.  The elementary school file that was transferred to the Jr. High School, then transferred again to the High School - destroyed in a records purge a few years back.   

In a way, it feels somewhat liberating as I no longer have to worry about things from yesteryear turning up (not that there was all that much to worry about).  However, it’s also somewhat obnoxious, that whatever struggles I’ve been through or achievements I accomplished at an early age are “gone” as well.  They’ll exist in my memory, and (possibly) in the memories of those who were there, but it relocates things into the realm of anecdote.  Not that I’d tell many of those historical facts as or through anecdotes.  Sure, there’s the dyslexia anecdotes, the eyes and ears anecdotes, the run-ins with administrations, which are amusing in and of themselves, but what do you do with that special program, commendation, standardized test score, or dots on the disciplinary record? 

Speaking of which, I’m afraid that the only thing my Elementary School principal will likely remember me for (he’s retired, but still alive) is one of those dots; the most glorious and effective physical fight I’ve ever been in.  One of the bully kids in my (first/second/third?. . .probably second) grade class wanted to fight me – not that I really knew what that meant, as 6 year olds often don’t.  I was a *lot* smaller than he was (but pretty wiry), so when the ring of kids formed around us in the playground and he launched into his speech, I decided it wouldn’t make much sense to listen to the rest of it, particularly since I had heard him work himself up before tackling other kids and subsequently thrashing about in the dust.  So I popped him one.  My grandfather had shown me how to throw a punch, and I really don’t think this kid had any idea what I was doing.  He stepped right into it and his nose broke.  He went to his knees holding his face, and it was hard to tell who was more scared at that moment – a kind of “oh shit” air settled over me, him, the crowd (which quickly dispersed). The story predictably plays out with the bully and I concocting some story about a playground accident that everyone saw through (but for some reason there was no fall out from the event).  We never became friends or anything like that, because he was pretty much still a jerk, but he did leave me alone.

I’m not a person that clings to the past, and I know it’s quite likely that I’ve forgotten details, like the actual year that “fight” occurred, or entire events are now beyond conscious recall (as I’ve “suddenly remembered” experiences due to odd and random stimuli.)   So I can only wonder what I’ll forget from those years as I move into the future. 

In retrospect it would have been good if my parents were able to get a box of documentation rolling, just to have in the basement somewhere.  Ah well.  Onwards.

Bush's State of the Union

Have I mentioned lately that I'm in love with this woman?

Back to My World

Well then, back to the grind.  Since I’ve been blogging about events on campus I’ve also:

1) gone to lunch with my Enviro Law Professor during which I had an opportunity to meet the client whose brief I worked on.  My Enviro Law Prof is a wonderfully engaging person and (I have to say) probably a very cool dad, even before his Daily Show appearance. 

2) crushed out a few rides in the gym and on the pavement.  All systems go – no headcold, no nothing.

3) read some poetry at the Law School’s “talent show” which featured the comedic and musical talents of our class.  I had fun – it was a good night all around.  Hats off to Mark, who, as always, rocked the house.

4) gotten my grades, which although they had a greater spread (2 good, 1 Ok, 1 stinker) didn’t move my GPA up all that much.  This is somewhat disappointing, but I’m shocked I did so well in my two good classes relative to my classmates, and shocked I did so poorly in my other class relative to my classmates.  It’s a puzzle.

5) took care of some room scheduling for my book launch later this semester.

6) reviewed the Digerati MS, which looks awesome.

7) finished my review of Paul Guest’s first book, which, likewise, is awesome.  I have to send it to him and see if I missed anything obvious (I like working with poets when I review their books – it seems foolish *not* to use the resource.)

8)  made some good food, including Salmon Ochazuke for this evening’s meal.

9) did some mild yardwork.

10) attended my first class in “Law and Philosophy: Joint Seminar on Emotion, Cognition, and Law” which looks awesome.  I get to ask Martha Nussbaum questions when she comes to speak.  I did that at Brown a long time ago.  It’ll be nice to reprise my role 10 years later.

11) made plans to sleep on the steps of the Supreme Court in preparation of hearing a case.

12) also planned to go to a Moot for the same case. 

13) fell in love with Yo-Yo Ma again.

14) read, read, read, read, read some law.  Then I read some law.  Then I read some fucking law. 

A Sign of Hope?

John Kerry has announced he wants to Fillibuster Alito's nomination.  Spread the word, sign the petition on Kerry's website.

Neo Tokyo Times has many good thoughts on the matter.

Odds n' Ends as we Get Rolling

Well, it’s time for a “doins” post, as opposed to all of the recent poetics posts.  The semester has started up, and, as usual, I got about half of the things done during break that I wanted to get done.  Still, it was a fairly productive break.  I was able to see some old friends, which is always good.  I was also able to do some poetry work, and break some ground on various (sneaky) poetry projects. 

Toward the end of the break I also shot up to Baltimore to see The Climber, who I keep running into (no complaints) on my breaks.  Lyco talks about it a bit in her post here.  The only thing I have to add is that The Climber is one of the most graceful athletes you’ll see out there.  She looks like she’s swimming in slow motion – she’ll look over each problem carefully, then put her hands and feet on the wall’s starting places, then she begins to climb with an economy of movement and amazing strategic sense.  There are other climbers who are bigger, have longer reach, are presumptively stronger (though who knows) but they tend to fidget a lot on the rock – reaching out and touching holds multiple times, shifting their weight tentatively, sometimes falling.  Whereas The Climber is completely sure where her hands and feet are and will execute a complicated series of moves in one fluid motion.  When she falls (only on the last “impossible” problem which no one solved) it’s because the physics are just impossible, not because she made a bad choice or had poor execution, and thus there’s almost a sense of reprobation in the fall – it’s really just a tremendous thing to watch.  Which is probably why she’s one of the top few women climbers in the country.

She’s also a pretty damn good cyclist – we did a short 20 mile loop once and I was pressed by her. 

**

Classes look good this semester – I only have 4: Crim Law, Evidence, Negotiation and Mediation in a Public Interest Setting, and a seminar in Law, Emotion, and Cognition.  I’ve had all but the last, and they look interesting thusfar.  Next year I’ll be going for a clinic, so hopefully, by the time I graduate, given the summer stints at more “hands on” locations, I’ll have a good bit of practical understanding of the law to compliment my sometimes esoteric classes. 

While my schedule blows (a solid block of class from 10-5 on Tues, balanced by having Wed. and Fri. off), I do at least have two papers, and two in-class exams which are a week apart.  A nice spread I think. 

**

In other news, last semester I (along with others) did a bit of research for a Prof who was working on a SOCTUS case.  I think it was something of a kindness on the Prof’s part to let us on board, as he was eminently capable of doing the research himself (and had already constructed the backbone of his argument before we began).  In any event, he recently filed his response and the case will be heard in March. 

I mention this on the blog because the amici briefs are already rolling in.  For non-law peeps, an amicus brief (singular) is a “friend of the court brief” – basically a brief filed by a party that is interested in or might be affected by a court ruling on the case at hand.  The court does not have to consider any of the briefs, but they do create a sometimes-useful pool of knowledge that the court can draw on. 

But here’s the thing - not only did the US government file on the Prof.'s side, *both* opposing parties in the prior case which seems to have the most bearing have filed on his side. 

That’s just awesome lawyering.  In fact, the brief my Prof. filed is kind of the equivalent of The Climber; powerful, efficient, graceful writing.  It was nice to toss my pebble into that avalanche. 

And in Other News

Sportswriters are idiots.  Jim Rice didn't make the hall again.  Given that the next few ballots are crammed with superstars, it seems unlikely that he'll ever get in.  He was the dominant hitter in baseball prior to the Steroid Era; I only watched him on the downturn of his career, but I remember one of his grand slams perfectly clearly.  If you want to look at something depressing, take a look at the Black Ink Test - everyone who is around Rice is in. . .

Twelfe Night, Or what you will

OK kids - it's Twelfth Night (or will be in an hour).  What are your plans?

Cascading Posts/Falling Whiskers

I’ll be bumping up the big airy poetica post as I go, so don’t be surprised to see the order of posts changed. 

But in the world of the mundane, I’m back in DC, chillin, whilst Lyco is out in SF, visiting her college girlfriends for a women’s week. 

El Gato Perfecto is overjoyed to have me ratting around the house – she comes over every now and then for a proprietiary head-rub before wandering off to the other parts of the house for exploration/inspection.  Our little neighbor, the Compost Turner, did a bang up job of taking care of EGP.  I think that Idaho was in and out of the house as well, which should have helped her some.  Nonetheless, EGP is surprisingly passive and cuddly, as though she was starved for simple contact.  Sigh.  In some ways she’s like me – only interested in socializing on her own terms.  A flaw, I think. 

I have a bunch of stuff to take care of – mostly small physical projects that I’ve put off until I could clear up some time.  Restringing my wind-chimes, that sort of thing.  I’m also going to put together a late holiday gift for Drums Her Own Beat when she returns to the house. I expect the short time I’m alone in the house will result in a burst of ordering/cleaning behavior.  It’s good every now and then to pull out your stuff and see what you have (for purposes of slimming/reducing/lathing away unneeded materiality.)  Surprisingly, all my holiday gifts are unabashedly useful – not a single one that does not address some need I had.  Most of the cash I received will just be funneled into the debt, erasing what’s left on the Little Red Rocket

My time will also be used on the Critical Race and Identity Project at GULC, which, if I didn’t think was a tremendously important endeavor before mixing with section Other via ConLaw II, And, wasn’t simply an important social issue, regardless of educational venue/focus, I’d still be damn tempted to chip in time on, given that the CRIPs are some of the most admirable people that I’ve met during my stay here.

Ah.  I’m feeling very left at this moment.  Billy Bragg’s “There is Power in a Union” is playing in the background, and I’m sipping coffee and looking at my winter cycling gear laid out on the couch in preparation for a long ride tomorrow.  Good stuff.  I’ll have to make a cycling mix for the occasion.   The only question is – do I take out the (very) old Ipod or put it on the new IAudio I got for the holidays?  Hmm.  I’m a bit uncomfortable with owning it, I think, as I’m still a bit uncomfortable with the Little Red Rocket.  Hard to square with how I’ve lived thus far. 

The ride should be head clearing or disastrous – too early to tell.  I’m still running a cold, and nursing it for the past week or so hasn’t helped all that much.  It, or its brother and sister viruses, just keep roaring back, which I’m simply getting tired of.  If anyone wants to see me suck wind, in an epic fashion, I’ll be going down Rock Creek Park, then over the Potomac and out into VA.  I’d advise hanging out in RCP near sunset, which should be my return leg.  Should be highly amusing. 

In the highly amusing category, I visited my old poetic mentor over the holidays – he hasn’t changed any, which fills me with great hope for humanity.  Beneath his exterior of gruffness, he’s one of the most consistently big-hearted men I know, as well as being one of the most focused poets and gifted critiquers.  I wish I could cattle prod him into doing some memoir leading to critical essays or just straight up critical writing.  (Ain’t gonna happen though.)  Sigh.  Anyway, he’s a bit wary of both the internet and blogging – he had an amusing line about an acquaintance of mine who “Blogs everything, like when she gets a rash.”

So, in a comprehensive photo essay, I will demonstrate the proper way to shave an Imperial (which was retired when I felt that I had left the last semester behind me).  I’m sure I’ll do something for next semester, and so I’ve saved my moustache wax. 

Dsc00390 First one begins with a limited edition Sweetwater Ale.









Dsc00392 Umm.  Ale. 








Dsc00396 Apply the scissors *carefully* to the blurry face.




Dsc00404 Experiment with the PediStash look.




Dsc00412 Experiment with the Vampire Eye look.








Dsc00425   Experiment with the 19th century weightlifter dot goatee




Dsc00435 End up with something blurry but smooth.

Me Myself and I and Happy Fucking Holidays.

Am now decompressed, which is nice.  I spent the immediate post exam period taking care of all those little things (personal grooming, etc.) which had somehow slipped by in the weeks of finals.  Then, early, early, early, on the 18th, I boarded a plane to Atlanta, with only minor security mishaps.  After sleeping in, Lyco and I had breakfast at The Flying Biscuit, followed by a quick tour of Little Five for odds’n’ends type of gifts.  I got a pack of Nihilist Gum (“We Don’t Believe in Flavor”) for a friend. 

Since then, we’ve seen The Climber over bad Mexican, and heard of much legal drama (nothing that pertains directly to her).  It’s kind of interesting to be able to cut out the non-legal factors from the stories.  I’ve been able to do this for awhile, but it’s still interesting how many people think the “entire background” situation is brought to bear in a legal dispute; it’s a very equitable way to think about the law. 

Dsc00361 We also shot out to Warren Wilson and Black Mountain in NC and spent a few days there – I’ve wanted to see the campus for a long time.  We hiked quite a bit and stayed with the Forrester Goddess and her beau in Asheville.  FG has a hot tub (and legal drama) which was pretty much a necessary indulgence, given the hiking, the low level cold Lyco and I are running, and the temperatures.  FG’s house was awesome but cold.  In fact, this has been the vacation of the cold room, given a burner failure in Atlanta and FG’s fireplace only log cabin.  But one endearing plus as far as FG’s place was her two found kittens – Einstein and Lucy.  Einstein would hide under the covers and Lucy would attack him.  It was very cute.  I’d be tempted to pick up a companion for El Gato Perfecto, as I’d like to have someone around for her to play with during the day, but house-uncertainty is something to take into account.  If I knew I’d be in one place for a long time I think it would be good to socialize El Gato a bit.

I found a nice gift for Mr. Scheule (no longer a *real* libertarian, apparently) in Asheville.   

The food has been fabulous – certainly the breakfasts in Asheville and ATL: real girts, toast, eggs, jam, biscuits.  I’ve also had some good Americana (smelts, fried green tomatoes) since I’ve been here, as well as some good sushi.  I can’t stand the drip coffees I’ve had since I’ve been here – it’s one of the few times I’m grateful for Starbucks (when there’s not a local coffee option available.)

**

Being in the South again is weird – and it’s not just the amalgamation of used car places, pawn shops and churches, crowding the yellowed grass on the long state routes.  There are of course the memories, both good and bad, that are called forth by that kind of surrounding.  But I’m also struck by the people, the culture.

Neo-cons will be pleased to note the south has totally regained X-mass (as if they ever lost it) by constantly saying “Merry X-mass” to everyone who passes.  It’s that kind of outward looking forceful application of “tradition” and “local culture” that is particularly obnoxious.  As far as I’m concerned, it’s fine that Bob and James are practicing Christians, and it’s perfectly fine that they’re proud of one of their important religious holidays, and it’s normal and expected that they’re to be somewhat excited about it.  And while it’s also fine that they might wish someone in passing “a Merry X-mass,” there’s a subtle and coercive difference when they say it at the start of a conversation with a stranger, then stare expectantly, waiting for the return.  I’ve been saying “You too,” as a kind of neutral response.  I haven’t yet pulled out the big gun, which I probably will before the end of my stint here – that involves looking said wisher in the eye and saying, “Ah, but I’m not a Christian.  You have made me feel quite bad.  Why did you do that?”  The conversation that follows is predictable, but I like to tender it as doing my small bit for civic republicanism and democratic discourse. 

Actually, the South is profoundly depressing for it’s homogeny.  I look around and think that these are the people who, despite bald faced lies, have screwed up their eyes and elected Bush.  In many ways the prevailing mentality is appalling.  I’m completely able to regulate a certain level of political discourse and disagreement to “rational people disagreeing,” but there comes a point where to hold a particular belief one must be irrational, or at least, one must privilege a skewed or logically-suspect “personal” position above one that takes our multi-cultured society into account.  Sadly, we’re at the point where the Southern bloc should be up in arms over the a) pointless and illegal war for the enrichment of the elite, b) spiraling local taxes due to federal funding changes, c) random federal telephone monitoring, d) repeated lies told by the administration that result in dead bodies piling up.  I mean, if the South was going to get bent out of shape over Clinton’s social conduct, the least they could do is play their “principles” card consistently and abandon blind partisanship for those principles. 

My apologies to the minority of Southern Progressives, Liberals and practicing, actual, Christians.  Seeing the impassioned war rhetoric next to the omnipresent Christian presence (Church and Billboard and T-Shirt and Bumpersticker and Radio Spot) it’s hard not to think of Nietzsche – “The last true Christian died on the Cross.”

I’ve been working on a post about Fantasy and Narnia that keeps spiraling out of control. I’ll cut out some chunks of it and try to post it later in the ‘oliday.

Soulever

This summer I attended a reunion of some dear old friends and the recording project I mentioned has finally borne some fruit; In August, Joel Pace (Gabriel on the blog), went into the studio to record some of Dennis Sampson’s music.

I’ll drop my moniker policy for the moment, because I’d like to do my small bit to share Dennis’ music and would like to credit the people who have made that possible. The recording group (including many of the Ants in the Cellar) is named Soulever: Mike Adamowicz, guitar & vocals; Jamey Chan, Drums; Robert Clarkin, Bass; Manny de Mello, Keys; Joel Pace, Vocals (tracks one and three) & Trumpet, and Babatunde Thomas, Vocals (track two) & Sax. 

It’s pretty damn cool to hear all of these songs again. Some of them are now 15 years old – and it’s hard not to be a bit nostalgic for those days. Hanging out with my friends in Joel’s attic with it’s mounds of canvasses and sculptures, or at David Wish’s place. Usually that involved a heady mix of talk and making – at the risk of sounding trite, it was a tremendously creative atmosphere. We had our native interests (everyone was somewhere in both the musical and writing spheres), we were being systematically exposed to the great works of western civilization – free enough to pursue what we found interesting, and we had each other. If I had a novel I might be able to thread my way through all those intersections of people and ideas, but short of that I’m left with the broad and weak statements and a few suggestive images: Mike looking up from his guitar to where Matt and I were debating something about Spinoza (of all people) and asking us for our thoughts on some lyrics he needed to fill in. What kind of emotional tenor did he want? – “Something between ‘Creeps in this petty pace from day to day/To the last syllable of recorded time’ and ‘De Do Do Do, De Da Da Da.’” Dennis, in one of his loose white shirts, smiling in the background, fingers precisely plucking at his bass, the tendons on his forearms snapping into sharp relief, as though the strings had bridged his hands and were running deep into his body.

I’ve posted three of the songs as attachments here – feel free to download them.

In many ways, you can hear Dennis in all of them – his recurring concern with spiritual authenticity, family, the tensions between them,  his themes of journeying across divisions, isolation, the tensions between what is innate and what can be learned (or transcended) and, of course, always, hope.

The encoding is a bit odd, but they all play in Quicktime as audio clips.  Right click and download them to your hard drive, then simply use Quicktime to open them.  If there are any savy audio types out there (Jes?) who could painlessly convert these to more-easily-played mp3s (or knows how to do such a thing) please shoot me an e-mail.

Download soulever_1.mp3

Download soulever_2.mp3

Download soulever_3.mp3

 

If you enjoy these, please write in (below or to [email protected]) and share your thoughts.  I'd love to pass them onto the band.


TG

Well, In Limine and Lyco have already detailed/mentioned the day and the menu.  I thought I’d add a few visuals – El Gato Perfecto helping to garden, Kitchen work, Lyco’s amazing rolls, and the beginnings of my terribly-bad-for-you yeast gravy.

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Not Substantive, yet Substantive

Oysters and shallots, simmered in white wine, butter, parsley, and a pinch of cyanine.  Scent of Woodfire.  Kenneth Morris short stories.  Happy purring cat.  Windchimes.  The successes of our distant friends.  Nightcap of Becherovka.

What do we live for if not these things?  Or rather, the peace within ourselves that comes from and is expressed by a balanced self-care that participates in that which we love?

NPR Dude Reports

My Landlord, NPR Dude has a short bit on Mongolia on All Things Considered.

Yikes

I run Sage on Firefox to keep track of my blogs/blawgs (must update that right hand list of blogs).  Earlier tonight I had randomly clicked on “update” and saw Small Branches go dark.  I had enjoyed watching Amy start up blogging, as I had enjoyed hearing that she’d recently made the decision to go back to school for graduate English studies.  Recently, she’d been only sporadically updating her blog, but I figured her MA workload (plus her kids) was keeping her pretty busy (and she had good reason to be busy, editing Touchstone and a few other on-line publications.)  I clicked on it, curious as always, and found her latest post, which was absolutely shocking.

I can only wish her the best – there seems so frustratingly little one can say and do at these times, beyond “Cripes – get well kid.”

Instead of musing on helplessness, fate, and that random running into a wall feeling that comes with serious illness, I'd rather talk a bit about Amy herself.   I had first “met” Amy a few years ago when I had the occasion to teach an on-line poetry class and picked Amy for one of the 10 slots (out of 50 applicants).  It was a tough class,  pretty much graduate level.  For example, at one point the students were asked to develop their own method of scansion, taking into account a full range phonetic corollaries as well as relative stress-and-pause both within individual lines and across poems as a whole.  Amy acquitted herself brilliantly – asking pertinent questions, showing real progress and growth as she went.  Awhile after the class, I had asked Amy to moderate an on-line, publicly accessible workshop I was running.   As a moderator, she handled herself (and our posters) with class, tact, and grace – difficult for a position that asks you to evaluate vastly different levels of work and respond to frustratingly similar lines of questioning month in and month out.   I had a lot of fun working with her (and Steve, another emeritus moderator) – setting up group discussions, odd critique structures, and in general trying to fiddle with the medium to allow geographically isolated but ambitious learners some access to a group of critics and teachers.  For awhile, as more and more of my time became taken over by law school research, applications, and (eventual) attendance, it was pretty much their show.  That workshop has since been shut down, but she’s been working with Steve on a few projects of their own.

Two things I really enjoy about interacting with Amy as a writer and as a critic are her tenacity and her boot-strapping attitude.  She’s always game to try something difficult, and she always seems to be pushing her studies of poetry and literature forward.  (Quite frankly, it’s boring to have the same conversation round and round with the same poets.  There are some fashionable grad-school types out there (forgive the generalization) who basically exist on cribbing Avant/Langpo arguments and running round in tiny circles - small theoretical target, narrow poetics, brittilely attenuated range of acceptable responses.)  With Amy you always know she’ll be reading something new,  something old, trying a different idea, and conscientiously trying to better her craft.   The poems, with her, are never second-thoughts or results of a half-baked theory – they are primary and focused.  It might seem odd to non-poets, but that’s one of the highest compliments I can give, one that she fully deserves.

Bikes and Parties

Well, much was done this weekend. 

The weekend began with the EJW Fair – a truly fun event with tons of employers.  I ended up speaking with a few potentials employers and stopped in to say hello to my prior summer employer, the PD's Office.  I found out that one of the cases I had worked on this summer was still going on, after a mistrial and not one but two nolle proses.  Our guy’s witnesses had to come in 9 times, all told; the non-mistrial/non-nolle pros dates were all extensions due to the prosecution not having its case ready to go.  Outrageous.  When they couldn’t get their initial charge to stick they tried other charges.  When that didn’t seem to work (their non-police witnesses have all disappeared), they got the INS involved.  If anyone would like to spend a summer working within an easy non-car commute to DC, please contact me and I’ll be happy to respond to any questions you might have.  I really can’t say enough about the program; good people and good work, work that is not only good to do (in the sense that you feel good about it and it gives you something), but work that *is in itself important*.  This is a place where you can make a tangible difference in someone's life. 

**

The Bike arrived on Friday.  She came in her box, partially assembled, as advertised. 

Out_of_box

For those who are curious, I ordered through bikesdirect.com and am very pleased with what I got.


   

Here are the specs (the website for Bikesdirect is obnoxious, car-salesman-ish):

StaysFrame: High Modulus CarbonFiber Mono-SeatStay, Kinesis Handmade Double-Butted 7005 Aluminum Main Frame with replaceable derailleur hanger and double water bottle brazeons.
Fork: Aero Kinesis Pro Carbon Fiber
Headset: Threadless Cane Creek Aheadset 1.125 inch Sealed Bearing

Ultegra

Derailleurs: Ultegra 6600 30SPD front and rear
Shifters: Ultegra 6610 30SPD STI
Crank: Ultegra 6600 30SPD 52/39/30T with integrated spindle and Ultegra Bottom bracket
Cassette: Ultegra 6600 30SPD 11-23 T
Chain: Ultegra CN-6600 10SPD

Brakes Ultegra BR6601
Hubs: Ritchey Comp OCR Sealed Bearing
Rims: Black Anodized Ritchey PRO DS OCR Technology, 20 Spoke front/24 Spoke rear, Machined Sidewalls
Tires: Kenda Kaliente IronCloak Kevlar bead 700X23c 189g

Saddle: M-Wings Systeme Racing V-cut
Seatpost: Ritchey Comp Road 27.2x300mm blk
Handlebars: Ritchey BIOMAX II

Final total weight is 19lbs.  (Hush weighted in at 26lbs.)

Basically, the above means I got a pretty good deal.  The groupset is 2005 Shimano Ultegra, 10 gears, triple ring.  Were I to buy that directly from a retailer, I’d pay pretty much what I paid for the whole bike. 

Now, that whole bike is definitely a mass produced bike out of Taiwan, with the stickers thrown on a generic frame, and a pretty decent wheelset/stem/handlebars in the Ritchey group.  However, the frame rides pretty sweetly as far as I’m concerned – she’s more comfortable than the older generation of steel bikes, but you can still feel the road very well through the muting action of the carbon stays and fork. It seems well designed and the welds are precise and full.  (The geometry is most likely a knock-off of another bike, perhaps a Fuji.)  As an overall ride, she certainly an improvement over Hush, also an improvement over the aluminum bikes I’ve ridden in the past.  I’d say she rides better than most of the bikes I’ve tested – smoother on the straight-aways and sharper and more stable on the corners.  After some seat adjustments, her riding (not frame) geometry is identical (within a centimeter) to Hush. 

NewbestfriendThe groupset is very very nice – fast, smooth, reliable shifting.  I can easily accelerate up hills in the optimal gear thanks to the flightdeck shifters, instead of the downtube shifters.  I’ve had some trouble with my computer on the new bike (I think the cord was weak and broke when I put it on the new bike), so I’m not sure how my timing will be on longer rides.  I have to guess it will be improved though.

As far as assembly went, I had to put on the wheels, insert the seat post, clamp the stem onto the threadless headset, clamp the handlebars into the stem, thread the front brake wire into the front break and adjust that and all the break pads.  Hmm.  Oh – I also had to put the complimentary pedals on and put new cleats on my cycling shoes.  One of the breaking cables had become misrouted on the top of the handlebar, so I had to unwrap and rewrap the handlebar tape in order to align it property.  (There was an extra set of tape that came with the bike.)  The saddle was a mass produced bargain basement saddle, so I put on my Specialized saddle (deeper groove means happier bloodflow).

BareThe next thing I did (after I sized her and made sure I was going to keep her) was remove all the advertising stickers – I hate the fad of making bikes look like NASCAR cars.  A bicycle is a beautiful thing - all the more so when it's simple and functional looking.  (If I put any kind of decoration on her, I'm surely not going to advertise a company - in fact, if I'm going to carry optional advertising, I'd damn well better be paid for it.)

All in all, pending a few months/years of riding, I’d recommend the company to anyone who can handle a hexkey. 

**
We also had a bitchin Halloween party featuring many of my fav. law school peeps.  Alas, there is sickness among us and several notables stayed home to produce mucus.  All the same, it was a very good time. 

Somewhere in there were some test rides, a trips to the grocery store, a visit from the Compost Turner, a clearing of the Garden (dead stuff out – new space for a fall planting, if there’s any room left after our monster marigolds), fixing a few things about the house, the beginning of winterizing the house, cleaning, drinking wine, a breakfast brunch at the house, a free motorcycle (declined), reading a novel, and, of course, law, law law. 

Truly the ending of an era.

My parents just put our 15 year old dog down.  He had a good run of it, as 15 year is very old for a golden lab, who on the average only life 12 years.  Recently though, the seizures and pain were catching up with him.  It was a choice between yet more medication and a miserable winter he might not have lived out, or ending it now.  I think it was the right choice to make, but I’m sure it was a very difficult choice for my parents to make.  I think pets in this situation are particularly heart-wrenching due to their absolute dependency on their owner.  Or perhaps it’s a mercy that death would come as a surprise. 

Check-In

I wandered up to a lecture in my old dormitory today – and I realized it was the first time I’d been in the building since I’d left at the beginning of the summer.  I realized how little I missed it – that perpetual jittery-nervous presence of people stressing out over this or that.  What is it about the law that attracts so many uptight people?  Why does the school feel the need (sadly rightly) to put on programs like “Being a Whole Person as well as a Lawyer”  (or whatever it was called)? 

The other thing that struck me was how over/under utilized areas of the campus are.  Some places are perpetually packed, some are deserted. 

Apologies to correspondents for not writing – I’m in what is hopefully the last busy non-academic stretch for the semester, with the Equal Justice Works Career Fair coming up at the tail end of this week. 

If I had the time, I’d have blawged a bit about: chickenshit anonymous e-mailers; the Takoma neighborhood, a weekend bike dash down to Alexandria by SS, In Limine, My Own Private Idaho and myself (need to find a roadbike for Drums Her Own Beat); plans for other rides; finding (finally) a great old Longman’s Dictionary of Poetic Terms; reading Barbara Hambly; Serenity (the film); spinning; American Legal History (the class); the psychology of the law student; libertarians; pipe-smoking; wrenches; positivist poetry essays; the odd patterns of LS eye contact; the need for mediation where there’s no need for mediation (a poetry topic, oddly); weather changes; house-winterizing; and other sundries that have occupied my week.

Ah well, off to ride (stationary), then read, then home, then read.   

I’m thinking about putting together a group ride through Rock Creek Park and down to Alexandria or Mt. Vernon for not-this-weekend-but-the-next.  If anyone is interested, please mail me.  I think we have 6 riders at this point.  The speed should be moderately-fast in a weekend warriorish kind of way, but we’ll build in some redundancy and stopping points for all levels of riders. 

New Arrivals

Well, it’s been a busy weekend thusfar, much of it non-blogable.  I’ve decided to mobalize what little capital I have and buy this baby, who should be arriving in a week or so.  Redbike

I now have a stable again – when the new one arrives (named after a few rides) she’ll be joining Hush, Lumina, HouseBike (a beater mtn bike I bought for the use of anyone at the house.  That’s 4 bikes.  Hush, I think, will enter another phase of her life as a touring bike.  I’ll most likely put some racks on her, as well as those heavier new tires, and start commuting regularly on her.  She’s good to go for awhile yet – I’ve upgraded almost everything on her over the past 2 years.  Or I could convert her to a fixed and retire Lumina.  Hmm.  This will bear some thinking about.  The new one will bring the bicycle total in the house to 9 (NPR guy and his partner left their two mtn bikes, plus we have My Own Private Idaho’s road bike, and ‘Quese and Triumph.) 

I already have purchase anxiety – ack!  My fingers are twitchy and I wonder if I haven’t invited (despite going over the budget 10x) financial disaster to come through the door and feast on me.  But then again, I think much of this anxiety arises from the fact that I don’t tend to spend a lot of cash on myself.  (Also, given recent developments, I’m feeling like I have much more financial flexability.) 

The economics of my life are weird – I’ve been spending a moderate amount these past few weeks on little odds and ends: a few used books, a scarf, some eats.  Which is kind of odd for me, to say the least.  Some of it comes from a time when whatever I did, I’d just sink farther and farther into debt (medical stuff was the main weight) – it got to the point where for a year or so I had to weigh the cost of driving into the city (50 miles) against never getting out.  During that time I took donations for moderating a workshop.  Normally I don’t mind getting flat-out paid for that kind of work, but this was a more informal “among friends” arrangement where I had inherited a private workshop whose moderator could not continue; how deeply humiliating to have to accept gas money from people who were driving equal or greater distances.  I think what galled me was the feeling that I had to accept the money – if I were financially free to accept it or decline it,  I could have done either with much less stress and strain.

Perhaps part of it is the season – when fall rolls around, I have the desire to stock up items for the winter.  I think I’m pretty much done though.  Not much left that I need/could use.  I need to see about selling off some now obsolete odds and ends on e-bay I suppose, but I’ve little or no experience at that.  I still think I can fit all my possessions in a moving van – a short moving van.  Which is something.

If I buy/lease a car this summer (looking more likely, but a strictly entry level, possibly used auto, just like the majority of students might have) my head might explode.

From Brother Steve

You'll never get tired of it.

Too much to Blog about

Well, not too much, but it’s been the kind of week where you just don't stop.

The weekend featured much doings.  Including finding a tag sale given by a touring cyclist moving to Honduras.  Winter gear (including boots), pannier bags, saddle, camel back (sans bladder), diacompe brakes, handlebar tape, 2 new kelvar tires, bike tools, stem, and a random hammock.  For (ta da) $45.  No kidding.  Made my damn week.  Bless you touring cyclist moving to Honduras, bless you.  One of the tires alone would run me that much new.

There was a swanky house warming party for old friends Thinks Before She Speaks and Some Call Him Tim, which featured 12 year old scotch.  I'll have to repay the favor soon - perhaps as soon as Team Takoma's Halloween Bash.

The food has been epic.  Epic.  Last night – salmon with scallions, goat gouda, black pepper on a bed of mustard greens drizzled with sherry vinegar and lemon.  Lunch – my aromatic tomato and orzo soup and flakey French bread.  Tonight – turkey beans (our own garden), kale, sweet potatoes.  Last night (perhaps to be repeated tonight) featured hot chocolate made with a nice European unsweetened chocolate, whole milk, and a dash of cayenne and cinnamon.  I love the farmers market.  I love our herb garden. 

The classes have been good – professors lucid, students on the ball.  My environmental law prof has been a demon in the speed department; my hands ache just thinking of all the typing.  However, he conveys a ton of information quickly and succinctly, so I can’t even really rate that as a complaint. 

The poetry progresses apace – I’m in slow cooker mode.  Unlike Seth, who is in a hot patch, I’ve been turning a single poem over for about a week or so in my brain then just sitting down and writing the thing.  The most recent one I posted on the blog was made in that fashion.  It hit the page pretty much fully formed.

The “office” has moved to McD south patio for better sun coverage.  It is near the Hallway To Nowhere. Which now must be renamed “The Hallway to The Winter Offices of Scheule and Tamboli.”

Spinning has been going well – I didn’t cough up a lung and my various injures all decided to play nice. 

Basically it’s been a good week.  The only thing I wasn’t able to do was to find a tag-saleable road bike for a friend of mine.  However, I did find a taker for my 58 Trek Frame – I’ll be donating it to him since he can actually fit it.  (I picked up that bike for a song and used all the componentry to make ‘Quesce.)

Looking Up

LookingupI am pictured with two other bloggers.  In the ven diagram of bloggers we have significant overlap.  All three of us are poet bloggers.  All three of us are editor bloggers.  All three of us are leftist bloggers.  Two of us are blawgers (and that might change to include three.)

In addition to what other similarities savy readers may notice, we all are looking upward.  But at what remains a mystery.   

If anyone wants to caption the photograph by guessing what’s going on, I’d be grateful. (Click on it for a larger image.)

Feeling Good – Feeling not-so-good.

Today is one of those gun-metal grey days with enticingly patchy clouds.  Enticing, but the sun is just never going to break through.  It’s perfect warm sock and sweater weather and reminds me strongly of autumn in Glasgow. 

I blog this from outside the law center (everyone else is huddled inside, behind glass) in my American version of the wool sock and sweater outfit – high tech but light winter boots and matching jacket.  I’m a decade removed from my studies in Scotland, but I find that whatever else may have changed, the institutional coffee is about the same: thin, acidic and slightly oily (insert obligatory ex-girlfriend joke).  I’m very glad of where I am, and the passage of time brings such benefits, both in wisdom and in material comfort afforded by streamlined technology.  As far as the first goes, I won’t be staying up till 5am, running on a bottle of wine and pots of the aforementioned coffee.  The second might be evidenced by the surgeries which have corrected my vision and the drugs which keep my balky internal organs in line.  (Although we all sometimes fantasize about living in an earlier age, even if I were afforded the most privileged situation, I’d most likely be dead by now.)  Go 21st century!

Even with the benefits of the past 10 years, it’s still hard not to wish I had a book of Anglo-Saxon verse to puzzle over, or that the Clyde and her seagulls weren’t a 5 minute walk northward.  Although there are corollaries in the Levertov essays tucked in my bag and the Potomac, DC seems much less of a lived-in city than Glasgow does.  Or perhaps it’s just more strongly segregated.   Were I still in Glasgow, I’d spend the morning reading, take a walk through town, enjoy a coffee, enjoy a warm-bread and sharp-cheese snack, sit in on an open departmental lecture or two, meet with my professors for a hour in the afternoon for wine, conversation, and a reassessment of my research.  In the evening, I’d return to my dormitory, take a brief run, eat dinner, spend an hour playing whist with the lads, then work all night, chasing whatever literary topic had caught my fancy – unless, of course, someone was up for carousing, in which case we’d hit the town and see what we could find.  It was an organic sort of learning – rigorous and intense in its own way, yet molded to the individual student.

I think in part I’m nostalgic because I’m feverish.  I have whatever extended head-cold is being passed around the city, and feel as though I’m trying to fit a size 9 brain into a size 8 skull.  Unpleasant.  This would be the not-so-good feeling. 

(Exacerbated by the discovery of others that it’s actually OK to be outside – hence the filling of the courtyard with people, including two obnoxious girls loudly discussing television programs and their exercise schedule.  Ah, the glory which is the affirmation of like-kind.  Unfortunately there’s no way of effectively silencing them, but I wish to do so, perhaps by walking over to their table and assuring them – yes, everyone in the courtyard, (including both of you) *knows* that you’re trying very hard to appear both perpetually youthful and intellectually/morally malleable via your interaction with whatever segment of popular culture you’re currently embracing.   You have succeeded.  Now please by quiet – there are no potential mates or admirers here.)

The head-cold served as a small damper to my weekend, which was spent up in CT, MA, and NH.  CT was business (interviews, resumes) and family.  MA was purely for pleasure and featured the Isabella Stuart Gardner Museum and much walking about Boston in the persistent cold rain.  I think the weather was nostalgically affecting me even then because I bought some pipe-tobacco at Harvard – pipe-smoking being my most infrequent vice, and, in the past decade, one that’s fallen to an ounce a year.   NH featured meeting up with two old friends, Seth and Ginger, and having the pleasure of them both read their poetry.  We also got a lovely tour of their home town with its intact main street and many small coffee shops and eateries. 

Listening to the loud nearby blabbers and contrasting them with S and G (as well as any number of my friends here and abroad) it strikes me that there’s a quality or tenor of engagement that really distinguishes the mature.  I’ve seen this quality in 19 year olds and have found it lacking in many successful 50 year olds.  Not a particularly profound realization, I know, nor a new one.  But every now and again, something comes rushing back to you, some kind of distinguishing that serves to not so much reaffirm your place in the scheme of humanity, but something that seems to explain the odd glitter of craziness and desperation that surrounds so much of human activity.  There’s an old joke about a superhero that could just look at someone and cause them to orgasm.  But what if that superhero’s power was transmuted to one that could eliminate anxiety, engender a sense of acceptance and belonging?   What is it, exactly, that pop culture speaks to?  What grounds the intellectual capacity of two humans into an intense discussion of clothing, TV, etc.

Work calls, idle musing must be reserved for the train ride home.


Sox-Yanks

*edit* Question - have the Yanks had a single post-season run not marked by some ridiculous
umpiring?  I'm thinking Jeffery Maier, Chuck Knoblauch's phantom tag, etc.  Add to the list today's NHBP (not hit by pitch) of Ortiz, and Matsui running on the damn grass. *end edit*

At 1:20 today.  They're tied with two to play - meaning there's a possible tie breaking, season deciding game on Monday. 

Everyone should check out this page of Randy Johnson look alikes.  The Marino Rivera photos on the bottom are certainly worth a look see as well:  http://bigunit.medeirosfamily.org/

Yes, it’s juvenile. But I love it.


Ostrich





Arrrgh_1  Galapagostortoise_1

Triteness from the Scoplaw

Since I don’t have a lot of cash, and haven’t for a long time, I tend to get anxious when I make certain categories of purchases.  50K for law school rolls off my back, yet I get all sweaty when I think of spending 50 bucks for pair of pants.  Buying the new suit and shirts almost caused me to break out in hives.  One major exception to this reaction for personal expenditures is the used market – I’ll gladly drop 50 bucks tag saling or buying second hand stuff which would sell for a much higher retail rate.  (Other major exceptions are gifts for others and necessary purchases, say, an alternator for the car.) 

I mention all this because lately I’ve been engaged in some retailing – converting useless credit for corporate shit to useful credit for general catalogue merchandise via the glory that is “the return.”  I have, or will shortly have, a new lightweight jacket, some lounge about wear, a new set of cycling shorts, and smart-wool cycling socks.

Which gets me around to the purpose of this post.  I am wearing those smart-wool cycling socks right now.  I love them so much they will have to be chiseled off of my cold dead feet.  Which will probably still be warm and dry, but not *too* warm and dry. 

Small Good Things

1 onion. A handful of Peas. Marsala. Rice. Seitan.

3 poems in a crackerjack journal.

1 Happy cat.

 

 

 

The Weight of Perfection

El Gato Perfecto is kind of a stand-offish cat, for all that she’s social if she knows and trusts you.  Which makes her very much like me.   However, she does have a very real super power – the ability to crawl into your lap and lie there with the strength of a hundred cats.  You have to have tremendous willpower to get her off you.  This is not to say that she’s clingy (far from it) but that when she decides to stay in a place, her staying has a certain weight to it, her mein, a certain gravitas. 

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Sox at the Tipping Point

Last night I went to a game at Camden Yards.  The Yanks, a game up in the standings going into today’s game, had lost.  (The 9 year olds behind me were trying to convince their dad that the out of town scoreboard for that game read 7-4 against the Yanks, not 1-4).  It was, in many ways, the typical Sox game of 2005.  Clement started, and had a no hitter through 5, despite walking six, then clustered a bunch of hits without giving up any runs. 

Even though the Sox were up by 2 at this point, you had to feel nervous.  One walk and one homer makes it a tie game.  The Sox put in Hansen, a young, just-signed call up, who perhaps has the best arm in that sketchy bullpen staff.  He promptly gave up a single then a homer to Melvin Mora to tie the game.

Headed tied into the top of the 9th, I was feeling even more nervous.  This was a golden opportunity to crawl out of a one-game-behind hole and tie the yanks for first - how like the Sox to squander it,  perhaps with Francona going to a washed up veteran "because he said he felt good and wanted the ball," believing there would always be another chance later on. 

At this point, there were only 8 games left in the season for both teams, and the final 3 games of those 8 are a Yanks-Boston series.  In all likelihood, the season is going to come down to that final series – and, obviously, I’d like to see the Sox going into it tied, at worst.  In the 5 lead up games to that series, the team that goes 4-1 (as opposed to an opponent’s 5-0) or 3-2 (as opposed to an opponent’s 4-1), will be a full game behind.  That team would then have to take 2 of 3 to tie the leader.  If there’s a two game difference, the trailing team would have to take 3 of 3. 

Frankly, the Yankee’s starting pitching is intimidating, and they have Gordon and Rivera at the back of the pen for them.  Since the Sox lost Schilling (effectively) and Miller, and Foulke and Mantei, (their #1 and #3 starters, and their #1 and #3 relievers) everyone has been “stepped up” a notch, and the bottom of the pen is basically dreck.  Papelbon and Hansen might yet bridge the gap in the bullpen (along with Timlin, Bradford, Myers), and Arroyo, Clement, Wakefield, and Wells can give you something quite good if they happen to be on that day.  (I suspect the big X factor will be Wakefield – I’d put him in the pen.)

Anyway, all this means that every game counts for each team, lending a knife edge significance to all matters of strategy and individual performance. 

The Sox went ahead on a clutch single by Renteria (whom I’d been badmouthing all night as a guy who has a complete “Eh” reaction from the Nation.)  Could have been the single of the season.  Then Timlin had his usual sketchy 9th for the save.

**

The oddest thing was that I felt I was in Fenway South – the Sox fans outnumbered or at least balanced the Orioles fans, and we were certainly more vocal.  Nearly all the crowd chants were Sox, whenever the organist played the “charge” rally, the crowd would preemptively yell out “Sox.”   

On one side of me I had two beery Yankee fans debating empty stats (stats that seam to measure some kind of ability that’s more accurately measured by another stat or a combination of stats) and was treated to lines like “Varitek might be a good catching catcher, but he’s only got 68 rbi, so how good can he be?”  (By any sophisticated metric, Varitek has outhit every other American League catcher by a significant margin – he just hasn’t been lucky enough to have guys in scoring position when he’s come to the plate.)  To the other side, some girls there to see and socialize and be seen and be seen socializing.  At least they weren’t distracting, like the guy who went to fetch a beer or use the john at least every other half-inning.

The best part of the game were the hyperactive 9 years olds behind me, who were visibly bouncing at every tight play, every disputed strike.   There’s a kind of attractive purity that comes from an uncomplex rooting – a simple plugging for.  Given the mixed results of just about everything in the world, results which cause me to often question the path I’m on, it’s nice to see someone simply cheering on something that won’t mean death and dismay for others.  In some ways the situation validates the emotion we express, which is why I have great fondness for anyone’s enthusiasms for the geeky, the odd, the pointless and the obscure.  And why I have qualms for wishing anyone well on that Exxon interview.  Or endorsing any socially conservative candidate for chief justice, no matter how much of a nice guy he might be personally.

Center at Camden:
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Confused

Did we not know that Bush was a delusionary and self-centered bastard who really does not care if anyone outside of his political base lives or dies?  (This would include all poor minorities, all future generations and all foreigners except for Tony Blair.)  And yes, he is probably more “likeable” than John Kerry. 

Did we not know that Bush’s mom is a shallow and racist idiot

I mean really.

**

The left’s getting mired in details.  We ought to steal a page from the republican playbook and keep hamming simple messages.  We ought to put together a litany of Bush's sins against humanity and just keep repeating them, then give overt voice to the often unstated but obvious corollary that Bush ought to resign, and no one ought to vote for anyone in Bush’s party until they cut the little troll loose. 

Sometimes I do think you have to be polarizing - the issues are that important.  Putting aside all the qualifications of the type of evil, putting aside reports on his behavior, the psychological speculations, can we simply say that:

Bush is evil.  He's a bad man.  He's killing people through his incompetence and the various political weapons his party has blindly handed to him.  He lied to us and our representatives and led us into an illegal war.  He's responsible for radically destabilizing two countries, three if you count our own.  Bush is an evil person.  He's a bad man.  He must resign. 

Is it so hard to say? 

**

Not to sound callous, since the majority of the dead (black, poor) are probably Democratic voters, but I hope Lousiana, collectively, is enjoying what it has chosen

Ditto Mississippi.

There are, it seems, consequences for actions.

Were I a senator or a govenor from either of those states, I'd hang Bush out to dry, party money be damned, and run on the backlash that's coming.

**

Apologies to Atomic for not following up in length below, beyond to say that I agree.

“Thoughts and Prayers”

For Rhenquist, for Katrina’s victims.

There’s a lot of thinking and praying going on now-a-days, but mostly, it’s for the dead.  I’ve always wondered about this phrase, which seems to say, “I would like to express something socially appropriate, something personal, yet not-too-uncomfortably intimate.”  You make the string of noises, people say, “well, he made the string of noises as is always required in this situation – that’s classy.”  But what does the *phrase* mean really?

Can I just think of the dead and suffering without praying for them?  Especially for the dead – of what, or for whom, can my prayers avail?  (A boatload of prayer at an early age taught me the Deity does what the Deity damn well pleases.) Can I pray for them without wasting time in thoughtful analysis?  Perhaps the thoughts are negative thoughts and the prayers are for a god to grant the object of the prayer a particularly fast spreading type of cancer. 

In the end, the phrase is, as is so much else, just noise.  But the uttering of that noise can sometimes be heard as “It matters to me.”  Or perhaps, more directly, “You matter to me, your fate touches me as a human being, and I feel pity and compassionate wonder;  I am human also, your story could well be mine, or that of someone I love.”

It gets a bit dicer when power is involved.  I can’t really *feel* for Rehnquist, given how his decisions have shaken out for the people of our country.  Sure, I have some sympathy for everyone, and I understand that it’s possible for someone to have integrity, to have a philosophy they adhere to which is not, as the saying goes, “irrational.”  And there’s sort of a, dare we say, Confucian, mindset that thinks civility in the halls of power is desirable, that one ought to temper one’s responses lest one be seen as arrogant, etc.  I see the appeal in that line of thought.  It’s also good advice in a Machiavellian sense, so it covers a lot of ground. 

However, when the stakes are raised to the point where an individual is the embodiment of an institution, in this case, the chief justice, the head of a branch of the federal government, we must not let mere courtesy trump analysis, and in our supposed meritocracy, we must ask: is this as good as it gets?  Has the power to shape the nation been invested well?  Do we read the decisions and feel enlightenment?  Considering the ends of those decisions, do we sense we are in the presence of Justice and Fairness?  Or do we sense we’re in the presence of entrenched power, old politics, issues removed from “the real world” that roll along under the prodding of money? 

Yes, the cynic will doubtless think this is a kind of naive ramble on my part, but I don’t confuse the most likely results of a system with the best outcome it can produce.   And yes, I’m fully aware that my definition of “just” and “best” won’t be the same as the next person’s.  However, I don’t think that many of the conservative political mindsets could, in the view of an outside observer, be justified as just, as helping, as helpful in the short or long runs.  It may be that there is no outside observer, or that the outside observer which can understand the observed is the unfathomable Deity.

It strikes me that this liberal/leftist bent towards not rocking the boat because there is no place of absolute moral certainty to start from is pretty chickenshit.  I can’t point to a rational basis for my feelings in this matter, beyond to say that I, subjectively have judged, which gets me nowhere.  Which gets you nowhere. 

When I was younger I did some reading in Theosophy, which I thought interesting insofar as it might prove to be a kind of spiritual survey of the major religious traditions – noting the similarity in their moral codes.  It’s cherry picking, yes, but it does give you thousands of discrete starting points, say, in that it’s not a good thing to poison your neighbor for your own profit. 

OK.  End, freewheeling post.  End.

My thoughts and prayers go out to the living, to those who have not yet died, to those who don’t have disaster latching onto them.  I hope one future disaster is diverted by good planning as such, not as an accidental byproduct of profit, nor as a lucky accident.  I hope that one supreme court nominee might have the vision Warren had, and not view (especially in our system of established classes and marginalized voices) the best use of their lives as being an unsqueaky cog in a political machine with a noticeable kink to the right. 

The Return of Domesticity, a.k.a. the Death of the Pile

Well, the weekend’s been good thus far. 

On Thurs, Mr. Scheule played host to a bunch of us down at his place.  We saw The Incredibles.  Personally I’d like to see a sequel called The InCritables – staring Peller and Seidman as past-their-prime Crits.  I think the whole movie would translate rather seamlessly: “The Crits aren’t gone, Mr. InCritable – you can still do great things.”  The Villain would have to be some kind of corporation or big law firm that hired out the Crits to do piecemeal legal strategy work that could ultimately be used to justify a conservative and determine view of the law.  Perhaps leading to a Gonzales nomination or something horrifying like that. 

On Friday I went to a party hosted by my former PD boss, which was fun.  I begged out early, as I’d ridden 30 miles in the Friday afternoon heat.  For some odd reason I had the good fortune to win a bike tool in a raffle (Trek something or other) and so I headed down to VA to collect it.   Driver discourtesy seems to be increasing.  I had several people honk at me in Rock Creek Park, as I was tooling along at the speed limit.  There’s no call for that.  I mean, it’s a park, not a major road way, which, yes, I know are crowded.  They’d be less crowded if A) people backed/used public transport more or B) there were more bicycle commuters.  In any event, there’s no reason to treat the park roads as though they’re private speedways.

On Saturday, I did some housecleaning, some shopping, some reading.  I have a new computer bag which I’m quite excited about, and some extra shirts for interviewing and suit wearing.  I have a ton of old oxfords, but they’re getting old and threadbare – the reinforcing is starting to show through in the collars, and there’s just no way around that.  In the evening, My Own Private Idaho took me to Target, and I stocked up on sundries, plus a last few odds and ends in the house.

This morning I went to the Takoma Farmer’s market –eggplant, beets, fresh yogurt, melons, flowers, eggs, and milk were purchased.  There was then a kind of house cleaning frenzy where we moved yet more of NPR guy’s stuff into the basement, and created, among other things, a reading alcove in the kitchen.  It’s nice to move things about, to make the place more our own.  El Gato Perfecto is supervising the process.

Sister School and I have ferociously beaten back the piles of things that were piling up into huge piles with, sometimes, sub-piles and attached stacks.  There’s the bill pile and the EIW pile and the classwork pile, and the personal correspondence pile, and the bike and running gear pile, and the pile of things to go to the basement, and the pile of things that have come up from the basement but cannot be put down because of a pile occupying that area.   

This afternoon, a neighbor let me roll away a 17 inch tall round (about 3 feet across) from an oak tree that was cut apart in her yard, so I now have a chopping block for firewood.  The wood stove will be key for keeping costs down this winter.  It cost me some skin, but it’s worth it I think.  I have put it by the big pile of wood out back, next to the pile of recyclables. I think NPR guy will dig it when he returns.

I would tell you about the good eating – the farm fresh greens, the salads, the seitan, the powedered mushroom and garlic gravy, the scones, the coffee, and so forth, but I’m getting awfully hungry just contemplating writing about it.

And that, for the moment, is that.

I have a good deal of class reading to do this evening and tomorrow, so I’m off to the local coffee shop. 


Hairshirt

After two very promising classes, I came home, expecting to get some work done – reading for class, correspondence too long put off, that sort of thing.

However, El Gato Perfecto decided to pin my down by falling asleep on my arm (which she bathed first, of course).  Now that she has left, my shirt is covered in light grey fur. 

It has been a difficult week for El Gato Perfecto – people in and out of the house, a visit by a frisky dog in a huge head-cone, the return of humid weather.  She’s being very affectionate today though we’ll see how long that lasts after I clip her claws.

Full House, Flush with People, Final Respite

Due to EIW sucking up most of my time, my non-law activities have been very light this week – so I ought to apologize to those of you who have written me and received only cursory responses. 

My Own Private Idaho moved in earlier this week, followed by Drums Her Own Beat today, which brings Team Takoma up to full strength.  The Jude Walker will be joining us for a temporary stay pending her move to other housing.  So things will be a bit crowded for a few days, but still manageable.  There was much to do as far as declutting space.  It’ll be a fun house I think – 4 bicycling, mostly-vegetarian, law students.  In Limine is up the road from us, but within easy visiting distance, which is quite nice.  He’s our nominal 5th. 

There are still some odds and ends to take care of – some windchimes and bat-boxes, some storage furniture and mirrors to buy.  The basement here wasn’t used all that much, and part of the project is to reclaim the laundry room and make it more liveable.  The shower stall and toilet down there will provide some leeway for overlaping schedules.   

It’s really a pleasure to concern myself with such things, and not worry about the silliness which is law school – not, of course, that law school is entirely silly, but it *is* possible to lose yourself in all the school activities, especially if you think you ought to be doing a bit more than student X is. 

Me and Caffeine

Outside the window, across the garden, perching on the fence, is a squirrel.  The squirrel has a pear from our neighbor’s pear tree.  Naturally highly strung, the squirrel eats the sugary pear, about the mass of it's own torso, at increasing speeds, getting sloppier and sloppier as he reaches the core.  It’s like watching an organic buzzsaw.  The squirrel, could we hear his thoughts is obviously chanting an inner litany of "mine, mine, all mine, o!, nice jucy pear, o! mine."  The squirrel, oblivious to cats, then decides to run around the yard a bit before going up the tree.  It is acting squirrelly, in every sense of the word.  Here endeth the lesson.    

The Calm Before the Storm

In Limine came back into town last night, brought over a bottle of wine and told complex and funny stories about dog-walkers and lawsuits in San Francisco.

This morning finds me with yogurt and coffee, sitting on the pinewood dining table.  From outside, the smell of garden and herbs.  The sun rises behind the house, so that the front porch and side windows are in shadow.  It makes for cool open-window mornings, even in the DC heat and humidity. 

I have much minor domestic stuff on my plate.  Culling clothing, paying bills, cleaning the oven, re-organizing basement storage to allow for more space (we may have to serve as emergency holders of items for various friends scrambling for apartment spaces), dropping off dry cleaning, finding a tailor, creating a list of last minute 2L stuff to double check and cross off, and many and varied poetry activities which I have let lapse.  I also have a few odd items to acquire for the house – a file cabinet, a shifter for the lender bike I bought, dehumidifier, sink aerators, cheapo curtain rods, that sort of thing. 

During my minor domestic tango, I also ought to give some thought about coming up with a nice piece of legal writing (extending and polishing the pieces I have) for Early Interview Week.  I’m somewhat torn on that though – I think part of me recognizes that legal writing is but a means to an end.  It was so refreshing to work for an attorney who wanted a bullet point summery of the issues, relevant case excerpts, and a concise oral presentation on just what you thought mattered.  Of course, there’s not that much of a resulting paper record, but you really got the feeling that you were doing something useful, albeit only if creating an alternative formulation of the case, which your attorney would then compare against his own, and use to double-check the validity of his arguments.  The most interesting (not enough time spent on my part) research item this summer was Public Housing barment policies – notice, process, duration, scope (all the good stuff).  I think I’ll write a post-mortem on the PD’s office soon.

I think I also need to do a bit of reading-aloud.  These past few weeks I’ve let my silent side go, and with the exception of the birthday gathering, I’ve been mostly listening to others instead of speaking myself – or if I have spoken, it’s to rehash anecdotes. 

Sigh.  Much to do.  But it’s nice to change gears and launch into the petty domestic instead of moving boxes, traveling about, dealing with stressful personal issues, etc. 

Umbrellas, Upset stomachs, and Windchimes in Takoma

For my birthday I was given a lovely English walking umbrella (solid hickory – it doubles as a cane and would make a very effective cudgel), a CD of Messiaen’s “Quartet for the End of Time,” and a horribly upset stomach.  I think it was prompted by some of the birthday foods, so I took the day off work and am trying to eat lightly and relax while listening to windchimes and doing a bit of legal research. 

I’ve alluded to my health difficulties on the blog before, but I thought I might talk about them a bit more extensively, as I’m sure there’s another (potential) law student or two out there in the same boat.  This thought is fresh in my mind due to my current distress.  Often, it’s tempting, when healthy, to not discuss medical problems, as they can be personally embarrassing to relate, or carry a potentially stigmatizing reaction from third parties which arises from their fear or embarrassment, or the thought that you might be rather odiously seeking attention.  Nonetheless I think it’s important that people be forthcoming about illness and handicaps of various sorts – otherwise we run the risk of fostering an environment that might exclude the sick from discussing their hardships at a time when they might most need to.   I have nothing but fond admiration for people who candidly and maturely discuss their medical situations as, at the very least, it simply adds another voice to the chorus.  At best, it can enable someone to seek appropriate treatment, to not feel alone, to risk something they otherwise might have not based on the strength of one personal account.

My account, I’m afraid, is not all that exciting.  I’m one of those individuals who has Ulcerative Colitis – there’s one million of us who have either UC or Crohn’s Disease, and in the spirit of the above, I may as well blog a bit about it.   

If anyone has recently been diagnosed with UC, or is concerned they may have it, the only thing I can tell you is not to be afraid.  UC can be completely manageable and responds very well to a variety of treatments.  The laundry list of what a disease *is* or what it can do is often frightening to read, but UC is something that comes in a variety of strengths – early detection can make it quite manageable. 

The long and short of it is that ulcerative colitis is a disease that causes inflammation and ulcers in the lining of the large intestine.  UC is a chronic disease with a predictable pathology; originally named as such in 1888, the occurrence of  the disease most likely predates its earliest unique diagnosis.  It is not IBS (Irritable Bowel Syndrome), nor is UC *caused* by stress or food allergies, although they can be aggravating factors.  When your system is weakened, it makes little sense to do additional things that might further irritate it. 

No one knows the causes of UC, although it involves the auto-immune system and, given the number of family members who develop it, it may have a genetic component.  The (to my mind) best theory is that the body either has a short term bacterial infection which switches parts of the immune system “on,” permanently, or that there’s a difficult to detect bacteria that the body is constantly fighting at some level.  Probiotics seem to have a positive effect.

The symptoms of UC are not pretty – generally, once it kicks in, there’s chronic abdominal pain and bloody diarrhea.  This basically tethers you to the house and severely limits your activities.  As a result of the diarrhea, you’re often fatigued, may lose weight, appetite, etc. (think “tropical disease.”)  This in turn can cause fever, arthritis, inflammation of the eye, liver disease (hepatitis, cirrhosis, and primary sclerosing cholangitis), osteoporosis, skin rashes, and anemia.  Since UC involves the auto-immune system, a number of these more far-out symptoms can disappear once you are treated. 
I have a moderate case.  I was originally misdiagnosed (by a non-specialist) as most likely having intestinal cancer – not fun times.  The next week I paid out of pocket for a few screening tests from a surgeon (biopsies came back negative), who told me it seemed like UC and referred me to a digestive disease specialist who began treating me. 

Unfortunately, since I did the too-usual gamut of thinking it might be a temporary illness, then a poor diet (too much coffee), then a food allergy, then a parasite or longer bacterial infection, then going to a health clinic (cancer diagnosis), by the time the specialist saw me I was in not-the-best shape.  However even my 20-20 hindsight has difficulty finding too much fault with this, since the UC began as something mild (with no unique symptoms) that slowly escalated.  I’d estimate that the problem took about 4 months to get fairly intolerable.  This “bad” period began when I was 29 years old, after I returned from a trip through Texas, southern California and Mexico – another factor which led me to think my problems were probably temporary.  Although looking back on my life I probably had earlier flare ups that went into remission naturally.  One in particular strikes me, a few month period when I was 27.  I had started a new job, was in the midst of an acrimonious break-up and move, and wasn’t exercising much.  So I changed my diet and started walking more, which helped out.  I think if I had discussed those symptoms with a MD at that time, and if I had known that one of my aunts has UC, we’d have come up with at least a tentative diagnosis – and when the real problems began, I’d have been able to attend to them that much quicker.  Moral of the story – always tell your MD if anything odd –anything- is happening.

Once I began getting treatment (several rounds of different drugs to ‘knock down’ the inflammation and infection, followed by a maintenance regimen of Asacol – Mesalamine, a 5-aminosalicyclic acid med) I started to show gradual improvement.  It was about a year before I felt up to doing anything strenuous, and it took me a bit longer than that to get back on the bicycle.   Since that time I’ve been in remission (a few years now) but I’m very careful to take my medication daily.  I’m told that one of the easiest ways to relapse is to think that you’re cured and stop taking your maintenance dosages. 
Well, that’s that for a cheery topic.  If anyone wants to write me publicly or privately about this, please do.

The bottom line is that law school and life is eminently doable with UC, or at least, with the vast majority of UC cases.  If you have any kind of digestive difficulties, see your MD immediately, even if those difficulties seem mild or clear up on their own.

**

(I was distracted when googling a link for ulcerative colitis for the blog entry – a paid add on google was offering some kind of natural aloe vera concentrate treatment.  Sophisticated snake oil – these kind of things really get me angry.  It’s not enough that the medical profession is out of whack, but that the so-called saviors purveying alternative products often operate on the desperation of those people who have gotten nowhere with traditional western medication.  Grrr.)



Old Photos

For posterity, I've been scanning in a few pictures, old polaroids my grandfather and friends took.  Here's one I found very interesting - on the back, in my grandfather's spidery hand, there's the following caption in written in blue-gray ink from a fountain pen: 'Picture taken at Florence, the day japs surrendured."

Vjapan

Much Doings

I apologize to all my loyal (and disloyal) readers for the gap in the blog entries.  I’m currently sitting on my front porch in Takoma Park, gently rocking in my suspended swinging bench chair, sipping coffee, looking at the Compost Turner’s yard opposite and the people walking in front of it on their way to the farmer’s market two blocks up the road.  It’s a good morning.  I went to a tag sale and while chatting with the politics prof who was selling some odds and ends, got a good bit of dirt on one of my former professors, a guy who used to live in this area of town.  It’s a pretty small neighborhood when you get down to it.  One set of our neighbors own a small eco-friendly pet store, where I bought some sundries for El Gato Perfecto, now living with Sister School and me.

It’s a good morning for reflection, and I’ve had a lot to reflect on lately.  Most importantly, my father’s mother, Alice, died last weekend, and I spent the best part of the week with my relatively small Irish Catholic family.  My grandmother’s death was expected to happen sometime over the next few years, but the end was quite sudden.  A prodigious smoker (and dancer and tennis player – go figure), she was slowly debilitated by a series of small strokes which began in the late 90s.  Her condition was at first mild impairment, a slurring of words, occasional forgetfulness – but this worsened and for the past year or so, she had been in a local nursing home, having good days and bad days.  My grandfather, Mack, visited her daily, bringing her coffee, and we all expected this to go on for some time.  On her last morning, she had a full breakfast, refusing the house  coffee as she knew that Mack would be bringing he some when he visited.  She took a nap while waiting for him to arrive, and never woke up.  There are, I think, far worse ways to die.   

Alice:Nanasmiling

Mack:Macinchair

Prior to her illnesses Alice had been the vivacious matriarch of my family in every sense of those words.  My grandmother’s house was a gathering place on Sundays where she’d shepherd the rest of the family through an unacrimonious and wide ranging conversation – equal parts speculation and reporting on local and national politics, the Red Sox (other sports were not discussed), and our friends and acquaintances.  Much of the conversation had a moral and ethical cast to it, something that I only fully realized when those conversations grew fewer and fewer as my grandmother became more and more disabled.  We discussed faith and faithlessness, suicide, abortion, priestly marriage (her cousin, Jim Carrol, had left the priesthood to get married), and a slew of other “tough” topics.

I’m struck at how flexible and accepting those conversations were, given the early circumstances of Alice’s life.  My grandmother had been raised somewhat in the South, somewhat in New England, had spent her childhood during the Depression and came to maturity just as WWII began.  Alice’s parents had died early – her father was embittered by his losses during the Depression either had a heart attack or was a suicide (due to the Church’s attitude towards suicides, they were often listed as “heart attack” on the medical forms, which enabled them to be buried fully within the Church).  Her mother died of cancer.  They both were dead before my grandmother’s 20th birthday, leaving her, her brother, and her two sisters largely alone.   Apparently, there was a small trust fund left by her father which could have provided somewhat for college, but this money was either stolen or mismanaged out of existence by whomever was in charge of the trust.  Her brother later killed himself. 

Many people in these circumstances would let their callowness harden into a kind of jadedness, become reflexively judgmental within a social hierarchy of petty offenses.  Other people, sadly rarer, begin to live in the immediate world – not as gross sensualists, but as humans appreciative of what the day brings you, humans who never cease growing to the last – Alice was such a person. 

NanachairAlice found herself engaged to a nice-enough young man (sometime when she was 19 yrs old, I believe) – doubtless she longed for some kind of security and stability.  Her fiancé was a solid Irish Catholic boy, from a good family and with a good trade.  Alice’s dying mother heartily approved of the match, but my grandmother had reservations, reservations which only increased when she met the man who would become my grandfather, Mack, an atheistic and penniless Scottish immigrant, who, along with his mother (one of my favorite people on the planet), had come over to the states as a child at the behest of my frighteningly alcoholic great-grandfather.

My great-grandfather (Alexander) was one of those sweet men who had never touched any alcohol while he lived in Glasgow and worked as a ship-riveter on the Clyde.  When Alexander accepted a job at the Colt Factory in Hartford he began to hit the bottle and turned into a loud-mouthed ogre when drunk.  I’ve seen this in other men.  My young grandfather was often sent to pick up his paycheck because my great-grandfather was too drunk to claim it himself – and would spend most of it before providing for his family. Alexander eventually died homeless after my great-grandmother, Jean Carmichael-Brown, a feisty woman whom I was lucky enough to know, decided she’d had enough and kicked him out.

Jeanandgirls There’s some speculation as to whether Jean and Alexander were actually married in the Church or if they were hand-fasted.  Jean was never one to let social conventions stand in her way – up until the end of her life she dressed in turbans and her leopard skin coat.  (She’s be tickled to know that one of her great-grandchildren is going to be hand-fasted to her lesbian partner sometime this coming spring.)  My grandfather also eventually forbade my great-grandfather access to his house, due to his drunken behavior around his and Alice’s 4 children, but I get ahead of myself.  My grandfather is a trooper.  A former fighter pilot (P-38 Lighting) in the WWII  European Theatre, he’s one of the most taciturn men I’ve ever met.  However, this is not to say that he’s not an emotive man, nor that he is a man who incapable of the more enduring passions of loyalty and commitment.  Rather he’s a supremely self-sufficient observer with a wry and sardonic sense of humor.  He’s also prone to dropping the mask and doing outrageous things to get kids to laugh.  I think it’s a testament to both of them that when his eldest child was confirmed in the Church he himself was baptized – he, as always, simply did it on his own, studying in secret with a local priest, then surprising everyone.  I wish I could have seen my grandmother’s reaction.         

To return to my grandmother at age 20 – she was faced with a quandary, the choice between the safer man her family would approve of, and a man whom she loved, but who could not even marry her in a Catholic Church.   She chose my grandfather, and, as they say, the rest is history. 

MacpondTogether they had 4 children, my father and his 3 sisters.  From them, 9 grandchildren, of whom I’m proud and pleased.

I remember my grandmother as a very sympathetic woman; she was quite a devoted Christian, but never forced this on any of her grand-children.  I never felt there was a topic I could not broach with her, no matter how personal, and I owe her a great debt of thanks for listening to me when I needed someone to talk to.  I think her sense of accessibility and family is one that many people simply understood to be a fundamental part of her character.  One of my great-uncles, a very well known and successful lawyer (former law professor) likes to talk about how when he and his wife were engaged (his wife is my grandmother’s sister), they didn’t have “two pennies to rub together,” but he always remembers that my grandmother would invite himself, my great-aunt, and all their friends over to the house to eat and relax.

Father Jim Carrol and some friends: Irishgang

  I think there’s something very important to building that kind of community of friends and relatives.  I’ve seen families built on emotional coercion, one-upmanship,  and social manipulation.  However, I’ve never seen anything like that rear up in Alice’s greater family without being immediately countered by a more humanizing and accepting perspective.   

The funeral itself was very emotional – I’m the eldest grandchild, so I was a pall-bearer  along with my younger brothers and male cousins.   We were one short so we were helped out by one of my female cousin’s long-time boyfriend, to whom I’m very grateful.  The female cousins presented the gifts during mass, then, with the male cousins standing behind them, took turns reading from a eulogy that we had all spent the night working on.  I wrote the skeleton and the girls fleshed it in with what they wanted to add – I was very pleased with what they came up with and how they read it – they did their grandmother proud.   

Motions

Well, as Sister School has attested – we have moved.  I ought to change her name on the blog, as the abbreviation SS has unfortunate connotations. 

I love Takoma – real house, real neighbors, real neighborhood, etc.  I’m drowning in reality.  One not-so-nice reality is the new commute, which clocks in, at 1.5 hours one-way via metro, door to door.  While I did get to read both the new Christopher Reid and Thomas Lux, the commute is about $6 round trip.  As I’d much rather spend the money on coffee and treats, I’m going to bite the bullet and bike in tomorrow.  The trip should be about 14 miles one way, perhaps a bit more given the twisting route I’ll have to employ.  Since Lance is now old news, I expect to be heckled and buzzed, but at least I’ll be going slightly downhill for most of the way, and I should be out of the super busy areas by the time the traffic really picks up.

The defender’s office is still going splendidly.  Today we had a special guest speaker, the PD in charge of the Moussai trial.  We got to hear about some interesting legal motions that were filed.

Other than that it was a whirlwind day, starting with the misdemeanor docket, sitting in on voir dire, openings, and the first witness, then to lunch, where courtesy of a $20 found on the street, I treated SurferDude and The Floridian to lunch, then to the jail, where I met a client who wanted out at any cost and a client who wanted to stay in at any cost.  I also met the filthiest client I’ve yet seen.  Then, back to the office for the guest speaker, then phone calls from witnesses, then, back to motion toward home. 
Tomorrow I have softball, and my Early Interview Week bids are due on Wed.  Ugh.  I shall take a run at it anyway to see if anything interesting crops up.  As with everything else, it seems labor intensive enough to favor those with little or no life, alas.




Good for a Laugh

I (along with many European nations) think Scientology is a dangerous cult, founded by a more than half-crazy con man

Wikipedia has a nice write up of some of the more esoteric mysteries of Scientology.  Whenever I need a good snicker I read a few of them. 

And if that does not work, there's always enough wretchedly bad poetry to make me squirm.

Tom Cruise - heartthrob, brainwashed idiot.

Odd Morning

After a night of strange dreams of New England and a living Scopmobile, I woke to find the news from London.

I hope Atomic is OK - she usually is, and given that she travels so much, she probably isn’t even in the city.

It's hard not to take the idea that terrorists are out to destroy the American way of life seriously - although I view them as simply giving gasoline to those who'd like to send us further into a socially-conservative corporate oligarchy.

I wonder what it was like on the Metro this morning? I seldom take the Metro for my daily doings so I’d be a poor judge of any changes. Indeed, this morning I blissfully rode in, thinking of our jounal club meeting last night while listening to a cycling playlist and noting my flashing and zipping bicycle commuters opposite.

I wonder which prosecutor will use this news (just a matter of time) to spout off on "the rule of law" and the "threat to civilization" and try to give some poor dumb client of ours a few extra years ('cause that'd solve everything.)

Adding to the oddness, I am blogging this from AI’s office. Not to out AI, but he has a spacious if barren walled office (cultivating a civilization of the mind?) and, more importantly, a free computer.  If any of you would like dirty secrets on him, I can offer the following - his desk is clean, but the trackball on his mouse is filthy, filthy, filthy.  Shameful. 

Living the Life

Dsc02346Even though I’m occasionally despairing over the general drift of the country,  I am in fact living the life.  Just last night I got to watch the fireworks displays over the Potomac with the Washington Monument and the Lincoln and Jefferson Memorials softly glowing underneath them on the opposite shore.  From that point, the city upriver looks vaguely European, with the arcs of the memorial bridge framing the dark misty bulk of Theodore Roosevelt Island and the rise past Georgetown accented by the National Cathedral’s towers. 

Today, after spending the morning and afternoon poking through trespassing and banning issues in relation to the US and Virginia Constitutions, I got to climb on Lumina, recently cleaned and sporting a new front brake and bottom bracket, and bicycle to the market, where I picked up some coffee and a bottle of wine in preparation for the catfish dinner I have planned.  On the way home a storm came out of the north – DC was covered by squalls and a rain-scented cool wind cut across the bike path.  Since I have all my electronic goodies waterproofed, I just grinned and shot into it all, marking the first true storm ride I have had this summer.  It was almost Connecticut-esque, sans the enormous hills. 

Dsc02387After toweling down I rinsed the sand off of Lumina and sat down in my cool apartment balcony among Sister School’s plants to do some writing, from which I occasionally glanced up to see both the Pentagon and the Lincoln Memorial.  Ah. (You can see my gear-ring windchimes in the background.)

Although I had a good summer the last time around, getting back on the bike and shaping my body closer to what it used to be before my illness and sloth, I’m certainly reveling in this one.  I'm in a cool city, doing meaningful work that actually impacts people's lives, living with a gorgeous and intelligent woman with whom I'm completely in love, and pursuing all my interests - bicycling, poetry, cooking, law, politics, art.   I suppose, negatively, law school leaves its mark.  I'd never have dropped such an obviously conclusive and redundant sentence as the one two sentences prior to this.

I think I’ll stay on Lumina for much of the rest of my summer commutes and see how we get along.  Once I upgraded her to the big ring, she’s certainly more of a challenge to ride.  I’m pushing a bit more than I should, but my knees seem fine and I’d like to build up some strength since In Limine is riding hills in SF and could well kick my ass on his return. 

It’s interesting to see who among my younger colleagues is keeping their body fit and -who is sliding into that mid-20s sloth.  Tamboli and Scheule are both taking up boxing.  I think this is a logical reaction to the indeterminacy of law.  Swann on the other hand is reading more.  I dunno how smart that is, long term, beyond my saying that I hope to give a law and poetry guest-lecture to one of his classes in the future.  Actually the four of us, plus Sister School and some others have an informal journal club where we get together twice a month to drink wine, eat Mr. Scheule's excellent chocolate chip cookies, and discuss legal theory, recently the Indeterminacy Thesis.  Yeah.  I know how bad that looks.  Where the hell is the Pragmatist in all this?  We need his erudite voice. 

**

While I’m completely entertaining people with my odd suspicions and analysis, I may as well add the following atrociousness – bicycle courier bags.  I never liked them.  Actually the overall courier look with the cut off cargo pants is just kind of lame.

**

Two more random bicycling questions recently posed to me. 

Lance – do I think he juices, or that he juiced at one time, or at least benefited from some kind of enhancing and banned substance?  Yeah, I do.  But then I think that the majority of elite riders have at one time or another – Tyler Hamilton, the Festina Affair which felled the great climber Marco Pantani, Etc.  Assuming most do or did, even with that kind of equalizing force at the elite level, Armstrong is something special.  He’s clearly a driven man who makes few if any mistakes as a rider.  His strategy is impeccable and he’s headed up the best team year in and out.

Who is my favorite cyclist?   Greg Lemond.  It’s true that Lance recovered from cancer and is a fantastic rider, but many don’t know that Lemond, in the season after his first Tour de France win in ’86, was almost killed by a shotgun injury while turkey hunting with a relative.  In ’89 he returned to the tour, despite his muscular disorder, off-season surgeries for tendinitis, appendicitis, and with dozens of shotgun pellets still in his body, actually in his heart lining.  The final day found Lemond 50 seconds behind the two time Tour winner Laruent Fingon, an almost insurmountable lead.  However, Lemond adopted a bold new aerodynamic position (that you now see commonly used in the time trials) to attack from the beginning of the stage and eventually squeak by Fingon to win with an eight second margin, the tightest margin of victory the tour has ever seen.  Brains and guts. 

I on the other hand am riding with a swollen ankle and an index finger lashed open by a brake spring snapping as I tried to remove it.   Not quite the same thing I think.  Heh.

Blerg (Sweedish Blog?)

Dsc02342It’s with a heavy heart that I announce the death, by brain cancer of the Scopmobile (a.k.a. “Freya”), now revealed on the blog as a white ‘84 Volvo 245 with pristine leather interior and no body rot.   

I had bussed up to Connecticut in the hopes of picking up Freya from the mechanics where she had been taken due to an intermittent start up problem.  The local CT mechanic, who works only on Volvos, said the problem was most likely the wiring harness (a reasonable assumption given the flaked and exposed wires).  He worked on her this past Thursday and pronounced that she’d be ready to pick up on Friday. 

So on Friday (after a 10 hour bus experience on Thurs.) SisterSchool and I bicycled the trail up to the neighboring town where Freya was stashed.  I drove Freya around on Friday evening, running various errands, then up to Cape Cod, where I drove her around on Saturday, our do-nothing-beach-day.  On Sunday, we got up early to drive her back to DC, planning to stop en-route in CT to pick up some bookshelves and a few odds and ends from PhotoGal.  As we were packing the car, a local Volvo owner stopped on the road to admire the Freya, and we chatted about her year and model and so forth (Freya was a handsome lass).  He drove off, Freya started up just fine and then mysteriously puttered to a stop two minutes later (I was letting her warm up).  Then, try as I might, Freya would not turn over.   I poked around in the wiring harness, drinking lots of water, sweating, swearing, getting my hands black and my neck burnt.  The Volvo admirer drove by in the other direction, and, as luck would have it, he happened to be a Volvo mechanic.  He got out of his car (a Volvo of course) and helped me do some tests under the hood.  No spark to the coil.  He told me to bring her by his shop on Monday if I couldn’t get her going.   

After spending most of Sunday on the car, I decided to have her towed.  The mechanic spent all Monday with her, before figuring out that the ECU was faulty.  All the signals/power fed into the ECU but didn’t come out of it.  A newer ECU from a different model injector system fixed most of the problems, but wasn’t actually compatible with Freya – not all the problems were fixed and she wasn’t driveable.  Freya was essentially the victim of her year – 70s to 83s didn’t fit, neither did 85s to 93s (used ECUs for these are pretty easy to find).  However, the 84s are pretty much exhausted from the scrap-yards, both from picking out the ECUs and from the mass clearing of scrap-yards that happened about 5 years ago when the price of used steel took a big jump (the foreign cars are sold first).

Rebuilt, it would have run $700, plus the diagnostic labor up to that point.  However, given the state of the harness, there was no guarantee the replacement ECU wouldn’t be blown out by some kind of odd power surge.  The preventative solution for that, a new wiring harness, would run about $300, plus a lot of labor to install (say 5 hours?).   

Given that it was looking at being about $1,500 (plus the $300 already spent in CT), it was just time to retire Freya.  I figure she wanted to go out on the Cape, so she took us there and died.  I took the stick shift knob and a Volvo badge from her as a souvenir.  All in all, she gave me a largely reliable car and made my move out of the south possible.  I have no regrets (beyond not trying to pick up an ECU from one of my GA scrapyards while I was poking around – assuming such existed of course.)

All in all it’s been a bad year in my family for cars.  The youngest, my stepsister, was hit by a drunk driver in Nov., wrecking her car.  Then the next oldest (Youngest Brother on the blog) had his car melt down (engine) a few months ago.  Then just this weekend(!), the next oldest, my stepbrother, hit a drunk driver, wrecking his truck.  Skipping the next oldest, (Younger Brother on the blog) who does not have a car, we have me and Freya’s death.  This means my parents are next.  They’ve already started picking out the replacement car. 

Dsc02332Sigh. Here is a photograph of me and my amazing biker's tan, something I will have no choice but to exclusively cultivate for the rest of the summer.   Don't get me wrong - I'm a huge biking proponent, but it does not hurt to have a project vehicle nearby, provided you don't run it all that often for every little thing you might be inclined to do (like drive to work).

It’s really like losing a friend.  I spent hours on her and she took me up and down the seabord, to and from GA, to and from New England.

Small Victories

Today was the day of things almost-disastrous.  I almost forgot the appointment at the jail to get my clearance/ID.  I did forget about the public defender softball game (cancelled).  I forgot my AAA auto club number which I was given over the phone.  I called financial aid to make sure everything was done and they told me I forgot to sign a piece of paper.  I forgot my younger brother’s cell phone number and narrowly missed having him take the scopmobile to a mechanic for me.  I couldn’t find my keys, which didn’t matter since my sweetie was coming home at the same time I was.  All in all, disasters narrowly avoided.

On the plus side I have an interesting riddle about trespassing cases in VA – specifically cases where someone is banned from one publicly administered housing project but then loses access to *all* such properties in the city.  We have a good, as yet untried, argument, but there appears to be an easy “fix” on the other end, which would make for a temporary solution at best.  More research is required, but my brain is already churning. 

I also saw the cutest bear-cub masquarading as a puppy.

When I got home, I took out the glue (bookbinder’s glue – a mixture of long and short polymers) to repair: a leather bound soft back Lady of the Lake (Scott), Andrew Lang’s Arabian Nights, and another mass produced, faux-leather, single-volume Lord of the Rings.  I picked up the damaged Scott at a yard sale (block completely separated from the cover), and the Lang from a bookstore bin (hard cover held on by literally threads of linen).  I used snips from an old silk shirt to patch them and they’re both drying nicely.  For the Tolkien, a slightly better constructed book, I have to move in stages.  Basically I’ll be using paper, cloth, and glue to reinforce the basic binding and repair the separation tears the weight of the book itself has caused.   Once you know what you’re doing, binding goes pretty fast.

I'm enjoying these small victories as my assorted outstanding projects get pushed that much further toward completion.  I have some sewing to do tomorrow and must rebuild Lumina with a better bottom bracket. 

If all goes well I’ll be picking up the Scopmobile from Connecticut this weekend, perhaps taking her for a spin out to the Cape to visit my family (no way to get the bikes up, alas!), and then bringing her (and a bookshelf?) down for both commuting insurance and to help out with my move from Pentagon City up to Takoma.  I think she’ll enjoy the milder winters down here as well. 

Plans, plans, plans.   My days are fill of small plans. 

Work and Play

I got a lot of work done this weekend; I passed on a Public Defender retreat which sounded like a hell of a lot of fun to attend to some writing stuff and log (finally!) a weekend of general maintenance activity.  One of the things I did was to poke through my old boxes of stuff that I moved and do another culling of stuff to donate/sell (mostly clothes I don’t/won’t wear and some old technology rendered obsolete by Tatterdemalion, my laptop.) 

When one constantly moves, there’s the benefit of lathing down one’s stuff.  For a natural packrat it’s sort of interesting – you tend to start only saving items which you really really think will come in handy.  For example, I had a small spool of brass wire which I’ve kept about for a long time as it hardly weighs anything and seems like it could be quite useful;  it turned out to be so as I made some windchimes from said wire and some old bicycle gearing (tempered metal, precisely weighted, makes for great chimes).  I think I can still pack everything I own into a small moving van though. 

One of the drawbacks to moving constantly is holding all the old information in your head.  It’s amazing how the official machinery of the state, etc., does not take modern jetting about into perspective.  Earlier at this week I was filling out a security clearance at a jail (they have high profile prisoners in there) and I couldn’t remember, for the life of me, the street address in the 4th-most-recent apartment that I lived in.  Eh.  I promised to e-mail the info, which I did today.  Security checks are spooky.  I have nothing to worry about, but it’s hard not to worry, seeing how difficult it is to erase mistakes or misunderstandings from the official record.  I’m always vaguely paranoid that something odd will happen (my name got mixed with someone elses’ once) and I’ll have to spend hours explaining, faxing, etc.   The paper world of records has a life of it’s own, and it’s amazing how much trust people place in it.

**

Another reason to feel I made the right call by choosing a work-weekend over a play weekend was that yesterday I was surprised by a call from some relatives who were in town.  My cousin had a piece of artwork selected for a national display here in DC.  I can’t believe she’s 17 now.  That’s shocking.  I used to babysit her when she was very small.  But it was good to see her and my aunt and uncle.  It’s been awhile since I was able to hang out with them, and I really enjoy their company – they’re both tack-sharp and good-hearted people.

Today I’m (in part, writing activities aside) working on consolidating my loans.  I used to work for SallieMae and for one of the Federal Guarantee Agencies when I graduated from college, so I have an unfortunate amount of information re student loans in my brain.  I can’t imagine this is news at this point, but if you know someone in school, refer them to their lender for an explanation of how consolidation can lock in the lower in-school interest rate on their loans (although at the cost of their grace period).

**

My ankle refuses to heal fully, which is vexing.   I can ride well enough, but walking (which is also well enough) seems to aggravate it back into soreness each day.  It’s been a few weeks now, which is annoying.  I hope it does not take as long to heal as my shoulder did last year.

**

The interns at the Public Defender have taken to replacing our ID photos with mugshots from famous and not so famous people.  I got Robert Downey Jr., which is a loose but comfortable fit.  Luckily for me the Rob Lowe one is hard to find. 

**

Sister School reports that the veggie garden planted in the Law School Palace is doing very well – including the catnip bush planted for El Gato Perfecto, who will be joining me at some point over the next few months.  Hmm.  I need to get in touch with Private Idaho (future roomie) and see how her summer is going.

I think I’ll do that now.  Or work on Lumina.  Or read.  Or write.  Or review poetry for the journal.  Or go grocery shopping.  Sigh.  I have only 6 hours or so before the demands of the week resume.  Best use them wisely.

Ahhhh.

Well, this is a great Sunday morning – last night featured an evening visit from peeps traveling from VA to NY, and this morning is a leisurely coffee and bagel and newspaper and correspondence morning.  The only glitch in my day is the lack of effective internet connections.  I’m currently relying on the generosity of my neighbors for my connection to check my mail so forth.  My service provider has some kind of complicated reason for why they can’t set up the DSL line until later this week.  Eh. 

In low-high tech news, I put a new computer on Sister School’s bike, now named Deliquesce.  In the process of constructing the new bike (which is done) I’ve been souping up Hush and overhauling Lumina, who needs a new bottom bracket and some odds and ends. 

Today I’ll try to make it to Chain Reaction – the used-part selling community bike store (1701 6th Street, NW, corner of 6th and R) in search of a few more things for both Hush and Lumina.  Sometimes you get lucky, sometimes you don’t, but the prices are so cheap, anytime you can pick up a slightly used set of clipless pedals for $10 (as opposed to $100 in a cycling store), then from one point of view you have $90 to then blow on those odds and ends that might work out. 

Materially speaking I’m pretty well set up, but I’ve felt that way for awhile, in that I have what I need but don’t have a lot of extra crap floating about.  The grant I have for working at the PD’s office won’t do much  more than pay the rent, but I’ve a number of writing/bookbinding things (mostly repairing a few old books) that I want to do this summer.  And I’m the kind of guy who’d rather spend my money on cook-in food than restaurant fare.  So all’s well.  I’ve been thinking of getting an external hard drive, to store my music, photographs, and files on it, as an emergency back up device in case my computer crashes.  I have most of my very important files on a flash drive, but it would be nice to be able to lug my laptop around without worrying that one stray bump might wipe out a lot of the tangential materials I’ve accumulated over the years.

There’s also the Scopmobile, which continues to be a break even proposition.  I need to deal with her this week, get her hauled to a mechanic that can trace her odd starting trouble for me.

To segue back to writing, mentioned earlier, I’ve dusted off the old workshop, made it back into a private thing, so we’ll see how that goes.  There’s a bunch of fine poets associated with that workshop and I’m pleased to be able to read their new work in a group setting (not that e-mail isn’t nice) which provides a kind of edge and dynamism to the analysis that takes place.  I’m starting to suspect I should follow through on my plan to run the workshop for awhile, then shut it down for a month or two to let things percolate, then fire it up again.  I’m sure there will be semi-howls of indignation, but if you let an on-line workshop just “go” for a certain length of time, it just gets stagnant.  Normally the proposed solution is to bring in “new blood,” but I wonder how effective that actually is, due to vetting issues and the difficulty of getting workshop members to propose/vote on members, clique formation, etc.  I’ve a long history with experimenting with different on line structures, and it’s nice to see things you’ve toyed with become standard; I like the idea of a limited window workshop, and think it would be good for a number of reasons (which I may enumerate later, if anyone is curious), not the least of which would be seeing if this is something that might be exported to other venues.

Also in the writing realm, I just signed the contract for my new book and mailed it out on Thurs eve.  I’m very pleased and can’t wait to see how things will go from here.

OK – off to the bike store, back later. 

Normality?

Wow – tonight I’m eating in, with no “homework,” nothing extra that I must do.  This is a first.  Perhaps I’ll spend an hour writing into a virtual poetry workshop that should be dusting off it’s shoulders and stumbling into the sunlight about now.  Perhaps I’ll do some poetry writing of my own (it’s been awhile – I’ve mostly just jots and notations).  Perhaps I’ll tender a blog entry.  Perhaps I’ll tear a swathe into Patricia McKillip’s Riddle-Master series (my summer re-reading).  Perhaps I’ll watch a movie and eat popcorn. 

I *must* take care of some business, of course, so it’s not all giggles.  But my, it’s nice to have purely optional options after a month of “musts” and floating deadlines/concerns that were pushed back to accommodate those “musts.”

I had sent out a general “end of the semester letter, giving folks my updated contact information, etc.   It’s just something I do every so often – and when you end up moving once a year, it’s nice to let people know where you are.  During that process I often touch base with people I haven’t heard from in awhile, either from my last “update” or even earlier.  Among the many dear friends who wrote was the Midnight Candle who sent me a letter beginning with the totally amusing:

You're in Law school????  I've been wondering where the hell you were and what you were doing - God save the republic!  Honestly, though, you will make an excellent lawyer with your ability to cut to the chase of any argument (or poem, for that matter).  However - you must grow back the beard.  MUST, I say!   I'm so happy to hear that you're doing well, in all aspects.  Terrific news.  And once you do become an attorney, I'm certain you will kick ass and slaughter Republicans on all sides.

Which, I think says it all. 

My Life is Like a Loaded Gun

There is truly something enjoyable about turning off the computer for a week, mitigated of course by the piles of mail awaiting your return. 

At this point in the summer, a full seven days after my last exam (nearly to the hour), I have recovered, moved, and have more or less settled into my new digs; I also have my bike parts and tools, a new (used/gift) ipod,  The negative side includes a huge honking bruise on my left ankle from moving, and my usual sunny fucking disposition when I’m injured in a way that limits my mobility and range of activity.  Guess the century is not going to be possible this week.  I still need to figure out the Scopmobile saga and take care of some odds and ends, like buying replacement sandals and ordering more copies of my transcripts and switching my billing address.  But other than that I’m mostly done.   There’s a bunch of personal, non-blawgable stuff that’s taking up some time, but it’s all in a good cause and involves my new sweetie, of whom I’ve been totally enamored for quite awhile.

So – 2 cats partially out of the bag for my various curious peeps (apologies for not writing directly):

1 – I am, in fact, involved with someone, “Sister School” on the blawg.   For some reasons it’s a bit sticky, but I’ve friends who have been through similar situations, and should publicly thank Thinks Before She Speaks for being a supportive brick, along with English Poetry Girl, H, Elegante and some other old friends who know all the details.  If anyone (especially 3peeps) wants to know what’s going on, as I’m sure the rumors have been making the rounds, please write or IM or whatever and I’ll let you know the scoop. 

For the record though, I’m deliriously happy to be with someone who is so aligned with myself on living/political/artistic planes.  I’d pretty much given up on that a long time ago, since most of the people that do are ex-pats (de facto or actual) and I’d like to stay and fight for awhile.  I spend a lot of time thinking how odd it is – how lucky I am.  But more later.

2 – The forthcoming poetry book (my 4th) is under discussion with a fab. guy and poet, and no, I can’t yet spill the beans because I don’t want to steal his thunder.  We’re talking about a November release, which, now that I have time this summer to work on things, seems very doable.  I’m very excited about this one also, since I’ll be surrendering a degree of artistic control to my new editor, instead of going though my usual co-op route; but I trust his judgment completely.  I’ll have a book release party or two somewhere in DC (perhaps the 12th floor of the big G for busy law students?) and will have ordering information on line.  Should anyone want to get an advance copy for reviewing purposes, please write me and I’ll put you on the list. 

The EPG and Steve Mueske (whom I still insist on calling The Ghoulless Guitar after a tremendous, tremendous, poem he wrote and was kind enough to share with a friend of mine who had gone through a similar experience) will also have books out soon.  I’m hoping the Third Son will join the list.  There are generally 30 or so books that come out each season (that I’m in some way connected with, however tenuously).  Usually about 1 or 2 of those are books I’d recommend for the general readership and/or poetry aficionados.  At other times there will be particularly strong books by people I’ve never heard of (like the recent Yale winner) but in light the academically inspired or completely derivative stuff that comes out, I normally could only unreservedly recommend, say, 5 books of poetry a year.  Assuming the EPG, Steve, and TTS all publish this upcoming season, I will have 3 of my 5 accounted for.  I’ve read their stuff for years – in some ways I don’t even need to see the final MSs in question to explain their strengths. 

**

I’m going to take a run at the write-on

For non-law school peeps, from what I can understand of the journal system is that it’s largely fossilized bullshit (again!) from early legal educational structures.  It used to be that the best students (grade wise) were asked to edit a publication that produced articles written (mostly by professors) on legal issues.  I think it functions as a kind of distinguishing badge within law school, and is a check box for many firms in terms of interviewing.  Yet, on the other hand, the write in and the individual selection process allows like minded individuals to form a “club” around specific legal interests and work on some scholarly writing in the field.   I think my overall feelings about the journal write-on competition is tied to the basic structure of journaling, at least as I understand it from my outsider and idiosyncratic viewpoint.  I keep thinking how law school needs to have a whole bunch of “optional extras” (moot court/mock trial) to account for gaps in its basic structure.  Here – “lawyering skills” meant trotting through a bunch of spoon fed legal “research” and “writing” exercises to produce something not quite at all like a real legal brief.  Here’s a thought – when writing those suckers, we didn’t look at a single real brief (that I’m aware of).  You’d think we’d get concrete solid examples, courtesy westlaw, etc.   

Anyway – I keep thinking that it ought to be easy to figure out what kind of skills we’ll need most when we leave, then back-design a legal education that turns on those skills and involves everyone in them.  Having a kind of faux-Darwinian “cream rises to the top” attitude of internal competition seems largely self-defeating; anecdotal case in point, in my grad program one of the worst (hand-wringingly, tongue-bitingly bad) writers spent her time *learning* with the rest of us and during the very end of her time there produced three of the strongest pieces I’d read (out of literally thousands)  during my tenure.  I’m a big believer in exposing people to a lot of stuff, then slotting them in where their passions most strongly align, rather than having hurtles *before* the educational process begins.   I understand that law schools are driven by firm money, in the sense that the firms want a trial summer run for young associates, which means that they have to have those associates in place by the beginning of their second year.  If you take that as “must” the system makes more sense, but personally I simply don’t take that as a “must.”  Fuck the firms – I play the world’s smallest violin for their staffing troubles.  What if law schools adopted something like Northeastern’s internship plan?  Or simply required summer courses (after a break) for the first year and interviewed for an internship during what is now the second semester of 2L?   In one sense you only get one bite at the apple that way, but is it all that different that what we have now?  I need more coffee if I’m going to randomly design alternatives off the top of my head, but it seems to me that there’s a number of ways to a) teach skills and theory, b) allow for student/employer courtship, c) empower students to choose areas of law in which they’ll be maximized producers, happy humans. 

There was a seminar here on “the lawyer as a whole person” which is rather ironic.  Usually (not that we’re lawyers or anything) it seems like the law student, should they wish to follow the “top” path of massive study/unofficially ‘required’ activities/’correct’ internships is a person on-hold, a person waiting to happen.  Does this begin or tie into the whole idea of the legal profession being dysfunctional?  Check out this post commenting on "Depression and Affect Among Law Students During Law School: A Longitudinal Study" by Mr. K. ”International” Hsu.

Yet, still, I’m doing write on.  Since we only have one shot at this, I may as well open the door and see if fate lends a hand, as she often does. 

I plan on giving it a moderate effort, along with sorting my shit, starting my new summer internship (Thursday!!) and actually living my life – perhaps I’ll read some (gasp!) non-law books for perspective.  Speaking of which, I had book-flashback to my library circa 1998, i.e., the library I sold off as I moved all over the place: NYC to NYC to Providence to Providence to Atlanta.  I used to have a facsimile of the Kelmscott Chaucer.  Alas!

OK.  Rock and roll – work calls, gimpy foot or no.

Busy Scoplaw = Bad Blawger

Bad Blawger, Bad

Whew.  That was a whirlwind.  Monday to Saturday was just a blur.  A Fast Moving blur.  While I was gone the Scoplaw blog crested over 40k hits, which is pretty cool.

I begin the recollection on Monday.  It featured our final for Property, in which I believe I was punked.   I never have felt a greater disjunction between the material that I knew (as a percentage of the overall knowledge in the class) and what I was able to apply on the test.  I will be living off the curve on this one.  Given that we all know that testing/exams is/are a complete waste of time, I’ve not much to say, beyond again registering my disappointment that GULC still buys into the typical law school bullshit by not coming up with a) a fair way to measure the knowledge of any given student, b) a useful structure to provide feedback which traces student progress, c) a method of assessment that highlights the strengths and weaknesses of a student.   This 20th century testing structure is simply chickenshit. 

After the exam I went out to Buffalo Billiards and said farewell (for the moment) to a lot of departing 3peeps.  I’m glad to know that many of them will be in town over the summer, which should pass fairly quickly.  I know I’ll be wrapped up in my summer job (after the write-on –ugh!- which I still haven’t committed to doing.  Tick tock.).

On Tuesday morning, Sister School and I got up at 6am to catch the 7am bus to Hartford.  Unfortunately, we got stuck next to that guy who thinks a bus trip is one big family outing, that everyone will be interested in responding to his random comments and observations.  We had a hour hold over in NYC, so we did a zip tour.  SS had been in NUC for a few hours to check out Columbia and hadn’t seen much of the place.  I showed her Grand Central, the Library, Times square.  Not much you can do in an hour bounded on both ends by Port Authority.  When we got to Hartford we had to wait an hour or so for Youngest Brother to pick us up.  So we went to the Capitol and watched the House of Representatives, which was in session.  An old classmate of mine is a state rep but, alas, he was not in when we were there.  We swung by the Wadsworth, which was closed, but we did get to see the Museum of Oddities and Natural Curiosities in the attic of the old state house.  We met YB and zipped off to my home town, where we had dinner at a small Italian place.  I had the prima vera which was excellent.  Then, to H’s house, where we worked on the Scopmobile, which has been sitting in H’s driveway since Columbus day.  We bought some parts (and some treats), and also prepped most of my moving/storage boxes.  After that we chilled with H, played late night wine-drinking Scrabble, and Trombone Player called (on tour) from Geneva - “It’s full of little cars!!” 

After crashing, we got up early on Wednesday and spent the entire day working on the car.  The entire day.  For one of the side trips I went to PhotoGal’s house and picked up my jack and stands.  When I was there I saw both HouseJ, who looks good, and my cat, Ganymede, whom I love dearly.  (Photogal and I got her when we were living in Athens together, and I hope that G-mede will join me in DC before the end of the summer.)  Toward the end of the day, after replacing the battery, draining the gas tank, cleaning the electricals, replacing the plugs, wires, distributor/rotor, and lubing the engine with new oil, we had traced the problem to one of the little cube like relays (Volvo owners know what I’m talking about).  Unfortunately, no one carried the part.  So I called my secret Volvo guy (SVG), who owns a small parts shop somewhere in New England.  You can buy parts from him because he has a license, but if you leave for a coffee and the parts just seem to end up on your car and become much more expensive, well, it’s probably best not to ask.  SVG is a legend in the underground Volvo community.  Yes.  There really is such a thing in Southern New England.  In this case, I just bought the parts from him since the Scopmobile is non-operational.  On the way back with the cube, we tried to stop into the Bidwell, but due to the UCONN graduation it was packed, absolutely packed.  So we (H, SS, and I) decided to go to one of the local diners, get some food (it was very late at this point) and meet up with Elegante, which we did.  Elegante is chronically late.  When I lived in Providence and she lived in Hartford, I’d routinely make plans with her then show up an hour late, knowing that I’d still be early and have to wait.  As we were eating H said, “So, I guess it’s possible that E already showed up and then left?”  Then she started laughing hysterically at the look on my face.  E eventually showed up and decided to relocate us all to the Half-Door in Hartford, which we chilled at for the rest of the evening before returning and crashing out.

On Thursday, the plan was to get up early, get a rental car, move my shit from H’s (who has flooding issues) to my Dad’s (who does not).  However, there was a brief moment of excitement when the Scopmobile turned over and idled for 30 seconds before dying.   I decided to get the rental car anyway, since the Scopmobile could have easily died on the 7 hour drive south.  Youngest brother (who has been a brick) will be looking after her while I am gone, and hopefully a local mechanic will be able to get her going without any trouble.  If that’s the case I will simply pick her up at some point later on in the summer.  So, after getting the rental, we moved the boxes to my dad’s, packed up the car and hit the road.  One of the mission points was to pick up a couple of road bike frames so I could build SS a bike over the summer.  That alone was worth the trip – I spent less on all the trip costs, food, and parts for the Scopmobile (much was under warrantee) than I would have if I bought SS a low end road bike (new).  It’s about break even if you weigh a used bike against the costs, but I got to see, YB, H, Elegante, my dad, and pick up a bunch of books, clothing and whatnots from storage.  Ideally I’d have driven the Scopmobile south and used her to move, but (excellent!) some of SS’s friends showed up, including Forrester Queen, the Farmer, and Wildflower who all were good enough to help me move with the assistance of their vehicles.  But I get ahead of myself.  The tail end of Thursday was driving down to DC (where we missed the Jude Walker and the Rockstar’s most recent gig – alas!) and meeting up with SS’s friends – it was a late late night.

On Friday, I got up, moved some things with the rental car, dropped it off, then moved all my shit (all day) with the aid of the aforementioned gals.  When I finally checked out of the dorm (ack! Dorm! ack!) at 10pm, I felt so good to finally be free of the place.  It was good enough, but I’m too old to deal with much of the dorm bullshit.  We all had a Thai dinner and the went out for drinks at Capitol City Brewery, followed by dessert at the Dubliner, where we ran into Scott Scheule, who was his usual gregarious self. 

On Saturday, I woke up in the new summer sub-let digs in Pentagon City – drank coffee, slept, unpacked a few things, rode up to mount pleasant on an errand, met the gals for lunch after their Farmer’s market excursion (the place is now full of good things to eat, courtesy friends of the Farmer, who sometimes works the farmer’s market there.  On the ride back I found a small liquor store in Georgetown who sells Becherovka, so I bought a bottle for the gals.  After unpacking, taking a first run at the write-on (which I still am undecided about doing), I will make use of the sauna in the building, chill with the gals, organize all my bills and new place things (mail forwarding, etc.), and get ready for the week.  On Thurs, I start with a local public defender’s office for my summer interning gig.  Should be an eye-opener.  I also have a ton of personal stuff to take care of, much of which is mitigated by the errands I’ve squirreled in (unblogged) during the week and the tail end of finals.

I’m finally coming down off my exam high of constant work/study, although I haven’t slept for more than 7 hours a day since Monday.  Many nights have only been 4 hours or so.  The ride today really made me feel less like a doughball with legs, and my legs are stronger for the break (it’s been a week since I’ve been on the bike, even for groceries/errands).  I should be ready to start my summer work by Thurs. (and I’m quite excited for it.)  I have to hand deliver some things on Monday, one way or the other.  Man.  It never ends. 

Tomorrow SS is flying off to Atlanta, which means I’ll have the place to myself.  Which means much work will be done.  It’ll be nice to cook something as well, without measuring it against the clock.  I’ve been very efficient lately, but there’s always a cost, a price for that.  I need to give myself a night of nothing but wine, writing (poetry), and something simmering softly in 2 pans.   Perhaps I’ll make a leisurely start on Sister School’s new bike. 

(I love building bikes for people who will ride them. So soothing to do hand/body work and just let the mind wander as it wills.  As a bonus, I may be able to get most of a second road bike out of all my parts for a 3 peep who will be spending her summer in Venezuela.  I ran into her today and regret not spending more time with her during the semester – she’s quite cool.   But there’s a chance I’ll go bowling with her and some other 3peeps before she jets off, which would be most excellent.  Regardless, I hope to have one built for her by late August.)

**

ScopfarmerScoplaw moves the Farmer as part of the relocation project.

Genes

Genetically speaking, I’m pretty lucky in that I come from two long-lived families.  Excepting accident, all the men have lived until their mid 80s, with some going very strong until their high 90s.  I’ve dodged the worst genetic bullets, and the ones I’ve drawn so far have been quite luckily dealt with via western medicine.  My timing, in that respect, has been very good.  However, in the past 2 weeks my knuckles have been killing me.  The joints of my fingers and everything in my thumbs are just fine – but the knuckles of both my middle fingers and ring fingers (where they connect to the palm of the hand) are awfully sore.  I have an aunt who has horrible arthritis in her hands, so I’m a bit leery about my recent aches.  It could be a side effect from all the riding I’ve been doing recently (Today, IL and I did a short jaunt, 20 miles, to Alexandria and back.)  My aunt is one of the few lawyers in the family – she’s a barrister in Dublin.  Perhaps there’s a genetic correlation.

We are almost done with classes, which is kind of sad.  I’m really enjoying this semester, more so than the first.  I’d be happy with 2 more months of each class to fill up the corners, as it were.  However, time, time, time.  Even if I will cruise functionally into my 80s (I certainly plan to be on the bike even then) I ought to hit the job market well before that.

My days are very full, but I feel that I’m on-track.  Every now and then I realize how mentally tired I am when I have difficulty stringing coherent thoughts together.  I’ve been reduced to vaguely gesturing with my hands on 3 occasions these past few weeks.  Something interesting – apparently I’ve been talking in my sleep recently.  I quasi-wake, say something cogent and sensical, then fall back into sleep again.  Unfortunately, I remember nothing of this in the morning.  My first roommate (Comrade Roommate) would also apparently talk in his sleep and not remember it later.  I think it’s telling that I apparently talk about people, whilst he apparently talked about law.  I really like the law.  It takes up most of my time.  But please, please never let me talk about it in my sleep.  Nothing against Comrade Roommate, or anyone else who might talk about the law in their sleep, but I have other things going on now, and doubtless will in the future.

The Preservation of the Soul

Thank you mystery e-mailer; yes, it is possible to attend law school and still retain one’s soul.  It just depends how deeply you buy into the arguments, how much you’re able to, in a sense, compartmentalize what you need to know until it becomes familiar enough to not evoke an emotional response.  Say PA Coal v Mahon.  Or Lochner.  First time around they're hard to read.

Good classmates help – today someone brought cake to class.  So we’re all twitchy on flour and sugar.  Although everyone must go their own way, sometimes it’s really as simple as being in LS together or overly competing with your peers.  Or the cake could be poisonous.  Hmm.

Short Outing, then Back to the Grind

Today featured another excursion to Takoma.  I showed Drums Her Own Beat the place, which she liked.  No word on her moving in just yet as she has a lot of things to consider.  DHOB is going to Montana for the summer where she’ll be working for the DOJ on the Libby case.  Pretty Gross stuff.

Also, eggs with spinach, feta, and salsa.  Right now I’m lounging in my bathrobe, thinking about another cup of tea, meandering through my reading for class.  I have six hours till sleep and an assload of reading/note-taking to do.

Gears and Gardens

Yesterday I went gardening at the new swank Law School Digs up in Takoma Park.  The owners of the house are very cool people.  They have a vegetable garden which they were not going to plant, seeing as how they’ll be in Mongolia in August.  But they’re entirely down with Sister School starting a garden and maintaining it over the summer.  So yesterday SS, The Farmer (she’s farmed on 3 continents), and I went up to the house, said hello, and turned over the earth.  It was pretty cool.  SS has a bunch of odd and interesting seeds from her farmer pals.  We should be eating pretty well as the second school year starts.  (Can I not call it 2L?  Please?  Is else anyone sick of the jargon yet?)

The house has a composter which one of the neighborhood homeschool kids comes over and turns about now and then.  The Compost Turner is adorable.  She has a rabbit named “Benjamin Franklin Bunny.”  (Ah – a neighborhood instead of a collection of students.)

**

In gear news, I put a larger front cog (a 52) on Lumina, added a new chain (necessary) adjusted the bottom bracket, and put a new stem on her brining her handlebars back about an inch and a half.  Fast, fast, fast.  I did OK on the ride down to Alexandria with James Bond Watch, IL and the Climber (yes, she is a nationally known rock-climber, no, I will not get you an autograph) but my top spinning speed was about 18 mph.  Now Lumina has a much higher gearing and I’m tempted to put the computer on her so I have some idea of how I’m doing.  As is I’ll just take her on my normal errand route to see how she compares.

Color Me Impressed

So - it goes like this.  I have mild to moderate case of dyslexia.  There are many types of dyslexia, which produce a variety of results, including the most commonly understood symptom, “switching” things in serial string.  Oddly, I’m not all that bothered when people switch something and say, “Oh, I must be dyslexic,” since it indicates some conception that dyslexia is a “real thing,” even if only partially understood. 

I was diagnosed in third/fourth grade after a frustrating year where I tested for reading at the highest level (whatever grade that corresponded to) but kept getting 10s and 20s on my spelling quizzes.  My math was poor, but not that poor.  I was repeatedly accused of simply being a lazy/sloppy under-achieving type, which not only hurt but probably provided much of the grounding for my deep suspicion in of the wisdom of institutions.  Case in point – at the insistence of my mother I was moved from the lowest English bracket to the highest about 3 weeks into the school year (I had been dropped due to my spelling in 2nd grade).  The teacher gave me a text book and told me to start at the beginning and read as much as I could.  So (naive me) I read the book over that weekend, then gave it back to her on Monday and said I was done with it.  This didn’t go over all that well.  I was accused of lying in front of the class which got my 7yr old back stiff.  So I told that I *did* read the book said she could test me on it if she wanted, and rattled off some random titles.  Since the textbook was relatively new, I should have suspected (and would now) that she hadn’t done the reading.  Or perhaps I just pissed her off.  Anyway, I got sent to the principal’s office.  He was the coolest guy – he just very gently said that he had also read the textbook that summer and had enjoyed such-and-such a story, but as he related it he misstated a few points which I corrected him on.  He then asked what my favorite story was and why, etc.  So after using these rather sly tactics to find out that I had actually read the book, he sent me back to the teacher with a note inside a sealed envelope.  After that the teacher took, I think, a special joy in humiliating me in front of the class re: spelling, which she quickly sized up as my weakness.  Not my most enjoyable year, since my parents also thought I was just sloppy and lazy - "If you work hard enough, in this particular way, you'll be able to do it."  That's not always the case.  However, at the close of the year I met someone, Mrs. Deslippe, my fourth grade teacher, who would greatly impact my life. 

Mrs. D asked me what happened after my first spelling exam.  I told her something (can’t remember what, probably whatever standard line I used to make people stop questioning me) but whatever I said, it didn’t sit right with her and she decided to do some research on her own.  This was before dyslexia was commonly understood.  As a result of her looking into things I took a bunch of tests, was diagnosed, then was assigned a private tutor.  That summer Mrs. D tutored me herself, at no charge.  The foundation they taught me enabled me to create a few coping strategies.  Mrs. D died some years ago, but I can honestly say that she was one of those teachers who did profoundly change a life for the better.  I hope she fully understood what that means.  (As a side note, to this day I cringe whenever educational funding is cut.)

Basically, as far as spelling went, I learned to process words as whole units.  To spell a word correctly I have to “see” it as a whole unit; learning to spell by sounding out a word letter by letter and then reproducing that process - ugh.  That’s where the biological thing comes in, process.  You may as well try to get water through a slashed hose.  However by learning a word as a whole unit, I can “cheat,” because there is nothing to switch about.  The word is just one shape on the page.  (Learning to type was not fun.  I still switch fingers so that “d” often becomes “k.”  I took basic typing as a Jr. High class and got a D, which, I think, was a generous grade.)  Math, oddly, was not a problem as long as I had time to triple check everything, which I usually did.  Even so, it remained my worst subject.

In any event I was “mainstreamed,” through HS and college (whatever that means) and took all my tests normally.  Usually that meant taking up to a 10% hit on an exam if I had a real spelling-nazi, which I could accept.  There is a subclass of people who always associate sloppy typing with sloppy thought.  It didn’t matter for papers.

I don’t really view it as a handicap; it’s just the way I am.  It does not mean my memory is bad (Ahem, further apologies to The Demanding One), that I can’t keep things in order (especially if there’s any kind of narrative involved), or that I can’t understand complex systems.

However, GULC has a policy of not allowing spell check and grammar check during the exams – a legacy of switching from a proprietary testing software.  This is just not good news for the Scoplaw.  I have enough things to juggle without worrying about spelling relatively new words at breakneck typing speed.  I mentioned this to a professor out of curiosity.  She told me to see a specific dean to address that issue.  Bang, zoom.  Problem taken care of.

I am so impressed with how they handled it, I can’t even relate it.  And I’m not even sure what I’m happier about – the resolution, or the understanding, speed, and competency which characterized that resolution.

A+ for GULC on this one.  A+. 

Final Thousand

Dsc02166After getting permission, I add the final picture from the weekend - the Climber "getting to know" DC.  As we were taking this a woman walked by and said, "What are you guys. . .oh. . .nice.  My boyfriend would love a shot of that." 

Two Thousand Words

Dsc02153

The first pic is from the Cherry Blossom festival.  I took it one evening as I was riding over the bridge toward the Pentagon on my way to visit Sister School. 

The second pic is from today.  I rode down the Potomac trail to the park by the marina, just south of the airport.  Hush and I lay in the grass and started working though a long article by Duncan Kennedy which is absolutely fascinating - “Distributive and Paternalist Motives in Contract and Tort Law, With Special Reference to Compulsory Terms and Unequal Bargaining Power.”  Not the catchiest title.  Anyway, I recommend it.

Dsc02192While Hush and I were lounging about in the new green grass, under the new green leaves, underlining things (red lead mechanical pencil – the only way to go), this woman rides up to a nearby bench with some kind of largish white bird riding on her handlebars.  She got off the bike, sat with the bird on her wrist and talked to it for a bit.  Then she got on, the bird hopped on the handlebars, and off they went.  I didn’t have the presence of mind to take out the camera.  I was too busy staring I think. 

After awhile I got warm in the sun, ate my raisins, and decided to ride back to campus and continue to read (ADR stuff).  Speaking of which, a hearty “Thank You” to the very tall roadie who let me draft all the way back from the marina to the bridge – I wasn’t in the mood to a) think or b) dodge pedestrians or c) fight the headwind.  It was very cool.  He just realized I was following him (17-18mph pace) and adopted all the lead rider mannerisms, including hand signals.  We all need someone like that now and again.

What to say, what to say?

It’s difficult getting back into blogging after taking even a short break from it.  In the past 2 weeks I’ve spent a goodly amount of time working on a number of projects.  My theme recently is that there simply has not been enough time in the day to do everything I’d like, although there is enough time to stay afloat and do much of what I'd like.  I've done too many 2-3am - 8am sleep stints recently. 

Choppy Scoplawic Updates:

The Section 3 pro bono Legal Process requirement was fun/is finished; I worked for Equality Maryland, reviewing parts of the MD code for language that discriminates against same sex couples.  With any luck the project will continue this summer (I'll chip in) and will be used by Equality Maryland to educate the legislature about the impact of the current code on same sex couples.  We found negatives and positives (in the sense that behaviors/situations the code was designed to prevent simply don't apply right now to same sex couples.)  This is so fun and bizarre to be typing – growing up in the 80s/90s it seemed that same sex marriage would be something that would never happen – yet it now (thankfully) seems an inevitable step towards a truly equitable civil society based in the rule of law.

**

I finished some revisions to my poetry MS and have sent them off to a potential publisher.  We’re still discussing details but it seems more likely than not we'll be going to press.  I’m very excited to be working with this particular publisher/editor (brand new press) and am willing to be very flexible as far as the final decisions on the MS goes; thus it’s not a high-stress activity, but more of a painstaking one of considering alternate MS layouts.  None of my earlier chapbooks are still in print (I have only a few copies left) and it'll be nice to have something that people can snap up from Amazon. 

**

Studying/Reading rolls along with me alternately catching up and falling behind.  I pretty much read behind anyway, a strategy that worked well enough the first time around.  I need to sit down and work through sample problems/old tests soon though.  Drums Her Own Beat and Sister School are likely candidates.  Doing so will sharply point out just where I need to focus my remaining efforts.  I will be focusing more this time on things I can use in the exams, rather than getting the mental roadmap of the classes in my head.  I think I really needed to do that the first time around, but feel I was suckered into doing completely average on the exams themselves because I had neglected the cardinal rule that the professors, no matter what they say, are most swayed by their own arguments.  No more original finals thought for this boy – and completely average exam scores are just dandy with me, thank you very much.  Finals are 5/4 to 5/16.  Tick tock, Tick tock.

**

Summer employment/housing seems squared away – ditto long term housing for next year.  I just need to coordinate things with CT (Scopmobile must be reclaimed or sold, items must come here or go into deep deep storage.)  I am terribly excited by the prospect of living in the Takoma Park house for next year - the deed is done, the lease is signed.

**

Taxes are done.  Yea.  Rah.  I’m getting almost everything back, thanks to the frightening amount of debt I’ll be taking on to graduate from this place.  It’ll be nice to have the cash in hand though, and my only debt (knock wood) upon graduation will be in the form of educational loans, which, hopefully, will be taken care of either by the private firm salary route or the public interest law/LRAP route. 

**

I’ve been playing moderate tour guide this weekend – one of Sister School’s friends, the Climber (who reminds me of a rock climbing version of El Capitan, but with bigger guns) is in town.  In Limine, James Bond Watch and I took her for a bike ride through the national mall down to Alexandria for coffee in chill air and warm afternoon sunlight.  Last night featured the four of us plus SS eating Mexican food and having whisky at the Dubliner.  Today – Smithsonian and Sushi.  (And LS work – one never escapes some LS work.)

**

Riding has been good.  I put a new chain on Hush and, with the help of a loaned ratchet, tightened up her bottom bracket.  (I actually dreamed of having the bracket get so loose I couldn’t pedal.)  Now she’s tight and fast and feels more upright.  I got her up to 29mph on a level sprint on which normally I’d have done 26 or so (on the same bit of roadway).  So that’s exciting.  I’m doing mostly errand rides and have taken Lumina out a bit. 

***

I am eating like a pig.  Eat, eat, eat.  That’s all I do.  Some of it is from the riding and some of it is from spring.  I have to make sure that I spend more time eating salad and less time eating donuts.

**

There have been a number of social events I’ve foregone, including a happy hour fundraiser for Sec 3 unpaid summer work (I’ll just kick in cash) and a section BBQ.  I’ve been (see above) occupied and generally group social things fall first.  I miss hanging out with my section mates, but time has to come from somewhere.  Right now there’s *just* enough time to keep all the pistons hitting without falling behind anywhere.  As finals loom I will become more and more involved with studying, I’m sure.  I’ll also probably resume more blogging as a break from studying.  Recently I’ve been rushing off away from the computer.

The Sec 3 fundraiser drew some raised eyebrows – how dare Sec 3 attempt to raise money to help fund unpaid summer work for its own members?  I have only this to say – no one is forcing anyone to contribute to this fund, and no one is precluding any other section from doing the same.  I think it’s pretty classless to whine about people raising money to help their section mates do unpaid summer work.

Missives From the Crazy North

Had a good chat with H.  Not much news from the north – H continues to have boy troubles.  She was contacted by an old acquaintance of ours from High School who is still in the area (named “Ball-Drop” due to an unfortunate public episode with underwear and running shorts.)  Ball-Drop said he was sorry to hear of her father’s death (3yrs past), and would like to take her out to dinner, which he did.  They go out a few times and eventually he confessed that he always had feelings for her from the old days, etc., would she care to stay over with him?  H said, “No thanks, good to be in touch with you again, but no romantic feelings; sorry,” and they parted that evening on amicable terms, or so H thought.  The next day H gets an angry call from Ball-Drop’s wife.  Yikes!  He had neglected to mention he was married.  H waded through the conversation and got out of it OK.  Then, later that day, Ball-Drop himself called apologetically to say he had put a friend up to pretending that she was his wife.  Why?  Why?  Dunno.  Just dunno.  I always thought he was a headcase. 

The Trombone Player goes on tour again this month (Europe) but he and H have been spending lots of time together (to my approval).  If he has time before he goes, he should rattle Ball-Drop’s cage.

Disaster Chick was last sighted in Atlanta, I think – we’re pretty sure she’s dead.  She was headed that way, but Graphic Dave thinks he saw her alive about 5 years ago.

Danger Grove is apparently in some kind of cult.  Details might follow, might not. 

Elegante was dog-sick, but has recovered.

Everything seems mostly good enough.  I was contemplating a run up there to fetch the Scopmobile, but I have only 23ish days till my first final begins.   I’m in some kind of denial about them I think.  Or perhaps I’ve woken up just in time to get rolling.

Exciting non-traditional Scoplawic Stories

Actually I have none.  My Blawgable life, such as it is, goes on.  I’ve been glorying in the weather, taking rides when I can (in which I’ve not been hit, scraped, or threatened by cars – as I noted elsewhere 99%+ of my road time (literally) is non-eventful.  In fact, I’m getting that deep muscle burning feeling again, which is a dangerous thing,  I don’t want to tire myself out to the point that I’m building up biking endurance at the expense of law school absorption.  Hush is developing a bottom bracket wobble but Sister School is lending me a ratchet set which will help me do a proper spring overhaul.

Drums Her Own Beat and I continue our muffin wars.  DHOB has sworn off hard liquor, fast women, smoking, and those small fat bombs of muffins our cafeteria makes.  I can’t let such good behavior go unpunished.  So I’ve been buying (or worse, asking DHOB to buy) muffins during our Govt. process class.  I then crumble the muffin onto a small plate between us, about four inches from her hand.  Then I proceed to eat little bits of the muffin and moan softly in pleasure.

It goes something like this:
Prof: The Supreme Court has created a presumption of unreviewability for administrative agency decisions.
Scoplaw: (sotto aside) mmm.  chocolate muffin.  mmm. 
DHOB (lightly twitches, says nothing.)
Prof:  This leaves open 2 situations for reviewability: 1) Complete default—where the agency is just not enforcing. . .
Scoplaw: soo soo good.  mmm.  ah.  You can have some you know.  It’s just, mmm, right there.
DHOB (hands stray to edge of laptop before locking back into the asdfjkl; position.)
Prof: 2) Has the agency made some kind of statement that it’s not enforcing statute just b/c it doesn’t want to, not b/c it doesn’t have the cases to support, etc.
Scoplaw:  almost gone. . .oh, so tasty. . .
DHOB:  Bastard.  Bastard.

In other very exciting news (just in) DHOB might be considering joining Private Idaho, Sister School, and myself in our swank Takoma Park place.  I hope it works out and she says yes. 

Blawing

Has become increasingly difficult with the advent of nice weather.  I’ll soon be doing more extended rides due to the temperature/daylight.  The past two days have been absolutely gorgeous.  After turning in “The Brief Which Ate My Weekend” on Monday, I had an outdoor lunch with some 3peeps at Capitol City Brewery, followed by a long walk with Rockstar and Sister School down to the national mall.  I love the mall – it’s such a well designed civic space.  I can’t wait for the summer when it’s all green and the marble throws the light back at you.  We chilled on a bench in front of the Smithsonian and watched passers-by and kite-flyers.  The air was beautifully clear and there were no bugs out.  Rockstar brought his dog Chops with him.  Chops is a babe magnet and made at least 2 conquests for the Rockstar – not that he needs help in this area.

Today, which was less windy but still warm and clear, I went on a 10 mile errand-ride over lunch.  I had to return shortly after I left because Hush’s rear tube is again losing air.  This is becoming a chronic problem and it’s starting to really piss me off.  I’m going to try retaping the rim the next time I replace the tube.  The weather was glorious although I almost got hit by an SUV.  It was one of those situations where the guy in the left lane waves an oncoming car through multiple lanes.  However the guy in the left lane is not a traffic cop.  He does not control what happens in the right lane (Scoplaw riding forward.)  I hate it when drivers endanger people with their misguided sense of courtesy.  To my mind it’s a very Southern thing. 

After Bargain I went on a 16 mile ride with In Limine.  Had I known the ride would happen I’d have taken it easier during the errand ride, but it was well enough as it was.  I showed him the Custis trail and the Mount Vernon trail.  While in VA, he almost got tagged by a jeep whose driver was making a thoughtless right on red.  What is it with people?  I blame the spring.  On the way back we dashed through backed up traffic by the mall.  My favorite kind of riding – fast and twitchy.  Then we sprinted for the final leg, which was much fun.  (Note to self – buy grease for derailleur bearings.)  IL claims he’s out of riding shape but it’s not really backed up by his performance.

For the final prong of my kvetching, I have to say that pedestrians are the worst.  Everyone in this town seems to look at their feet when they walk.  Which means they don’t look up when they veer into the roadway, or step into mostly stopped traffic.  Pedestrians scare me far more than cars do.  Pedestrians with dogs are bad but pedestrians with strollers are worse.  I don’t have kids but if I did it would be an absolute no-brainer to not put them in a plastic basket and leave them blocking a bicycle path (around a turn no less!) down which bikers routinely travel at speeds of about 25mph.   I mention this for no particular reason beyond that IL and I almost hit two of them today. 

**

I need to get more sleep (tonight!) as I’m pretty tapped out right now, probably due to the 26 miles.  I got a fair bit of sleep last night but don’t feel fully caught up yet.  Trouble is there’s this law school thing I’m doing. 

**

In exciting news, both Photogal and Atomic may be visiting over the next month.  I haven’t heard from other peeps, but fortune favors the bold.  It will be very good to see each of them – I’m very excited.  Atomic used to live here and I’m sure she can casually show me DC things I’ve not yet discovered.

I also get to read some of Sister School’s poetry – which is a pretty intriguing thing.  I have a document on my desktop full of poems.  I think I will make some tea, hit my reading for tomorrow and reward myself with some poetry later in the evening.   

I should also work on some poetry of my own.  I have one that’s been burbling.  We’ll see.  But then there’s that sleep thing.

Lost in a Fog

It’s been a busy busy weekend for the Scoplaw.  I have my take home memo/exam for Legal Practice, due in 7 days.  There’s a stack of bills.  Correspondence (sorry Whims!).  The usual readings.  Chatting with the Madre on the phone.  All in all not a bad weekend, but a full one. 

Right now the Easter Bells are ringing – yesterday, randomly, I played all Irish bands.  In world news it seems that Sinn Fein is getting ready to move further from the IRA.  Which can only be a good thing - it’s hard to see what role the IRA can play from this point going forward.

I did have time for biking yesterday and did a slightly longer loop than usual, passing by the Mall.  The mall is always problematic for me – it’s flat and fast and if you do it right you can go for a few miles without stopping for a light.  Plus there’s something romantic about flying into and out of the steam by the White House (I still spit every time I pass it.)  On the other hand it’s full of vaguely confused people lurching into roadways and thus demands an even greater level of attention.  Perhaps again today. . .

Cute moment when shopping – the cashier at the grocery store tried to read my surname off the receipt and failed 3 times going.  It’s a bit unusual, but not devilishly so I think.  The cashier was pretty young though – obviously a first job sort of thing.  He’s looking at the paper in his hand saying, “Have a good day, Mr. . .Mr. . .Mr. . .” - “That’s OK kid, you have one too.”  Sometimes when I’m going I don’t like to stop.  Certainly when I'm in spandex.

The Well Lubed Scoplaw

As of 4pm the Scoplaw decides he needs some meringues.  Why?  Good question – the answer to which currently eludes the Scoplaw as well.  It’s not like I don’t have chocolate here.

Interesting enough, last night I had occasion to write to a friend and told them that I would eventually hit/be hit by a car.  These things happen.  However the crafty rider can minimize a lot of the really dangerous stuff and render the minor stuff negligible. 

Case in point – on my way back, zipping down MA Ave., I approach the 395 on-ramp intersection and start doing my usual between lane car threading thing.  A taxi, for some reason, drifts to the left, leaving about a foot of space between himself and a delivery truck.  At this point, too close to stop, I decide to just slide through.  I was wet, the truck and car were wet, and there was enough room for Hush’s handlebars.  Facing this kind of thing, you don’t really think.  You just know you can make or not make it and respond accordingly.  I hit them at about 15mph, took out the taxi’s side mirror with my elbow (which oddly, feels absolutely fine), and slithered through on into the intersection.  I probably scared the shit out of the taxi-driver, and I’m sure I didn’t help improve the roadie/driver relationship.  But it was fun.   

Telegraphic Update

As much as I’d like to chastise AI for not grasping the Stick, (once he responds all my picks will have, and my responsibility ends) I have also fallen behind with Blawging, correspondence, you name it.

The reasons are sundry.  Mostly it’s just that when I’m here in the room, there’s little time for Blawging.  This afternoon I am taking a break from my life though.  I realize I must say that a lot on the Blawg – but when I don’t I’m actually working, on something, in some way, not simply goofing off. 

None-the-less, life proceeds.  I just got back from a Potomac ride and am enjoying just slightly warmed tea - a new understanding/appreciation. Yesterday, The Rockstar took me to a very cool coffee house about 6 miles from here as the crow flies – I now have a new target to reach on Hush.  Sister School has been filling my head with interesting stories.  Two days ago, Hush and I were chased by a dog (clever guy, I smoked him when I first passed by, and thus, on my return, forgot about him – he snuck up on me, realizing, I think, that if he barked I’d just turn it on again).  I have made tasty soup and done a few Tarot readings.  I now have a new recurring card – the two of Pentacles (balance, juggling, joy, literary undertones).  The muse has been persnickety, doing her half-in, half-out thing.  She does this sometimes for her own reasons which are just part of the deal.  Drums Her Own Beat and I have a recurring Govt. Pro. rendezvous, which is good – the one class I really need to attack. There's also some drama with a broken foot from a party - not a thing that I'm really involved in, when it gets right down to it.  But if I can oil the waters, I will.

Sigh.  So much to do.  While my life is my own I’d none-the-less like a pause button.  There’s simply not enough time to do all I want to do.  But I expect I’ll manage catlike – as Swenson wrote to close “Cat and the Weather” (a poem about a cat trying to figure out what snow is):

World's turned queer
somehow. All white,

no smell. Well, here
inside it's still familiar.
He'll go to sleep until
it puts itself right.

I miss El Gato Perfecto. 

Doris Lessing: If a fish is the movement of water embodied, given shape,
then a cat is a diagram and pattern of subtle air.

Slick, Speedy, Sticky, Fixed

I did a morning ride today for groceries and ended going further afield than I though I would.  It’s nice out there today – positively Glaswegian.  I’m drying my stuff now and doing my usual pre-reading round of coffee, cooking (soup), and cleaning.  Shower on deck.  Then pages and pages and pages and pages.  And then some.  Last night the Rockstar rocked out at the Velvet Lounge and I was the victim of a cosmic conspiracy, which was frustrating but fun.

For whomever is has been searching the blawg for info on Lumina’s conversion, yes, it’s a fixed-for-all-time deal.  You don’t get to undo it, unless you invent something that dissolves JB weld.  There's more info scattered in the bicycling and homebuilding category.

As to how dangerous it is (creative search my man), eh – it’s as dangerous as anything else.  Use your head.  Based on your search terms I don’t think you want to do the free-wheel conversion.  That’s fine - just go buy a fixed wheel. 

However I don’t think that the use of JB Weld itself means it’s categorically unstable.  There’s shearing information out there somewhere in the JB Weld site (which I’m too tired to look up now) – it all depends on how you ride. 

Interestingly enough the Windcheetah is held together with glue.  Still haven’t taken one for a spin.  Gotta correct that - she’s the holy grail of trikes.  When I next have a garage/time, I think I’d like to build my own trike. 

Stinks and Smirks and Sticks

There’s been a lot of smirking going around lately – must mean that spring is here.  Yesterday and today, roadies were smirking at each other on the streets and paths of DC.  Yes, terrible snobbery, as often the mountain bikers are not included, but there’s nothing like zipping along the Potomac, sunlight on your bare(!) legs, with all the govt buildings visible in that clear bright light.  It makes the civic-minded geek in me tear up a bit. 

However I am a stinky stinky unshaven man, given all my recent zippings about.   This will be rectified, but first – the Stick.

Ginger has passed the stick to me.  A brief genealogy: Barrie unleashed the stick on 3/7/05 - Amanda - scooterdeb - Brian - Karma Police - Evelio - Ivy - Suzanne - Jeff - Patricia Lockwood - Frank - Amy - Steve - Ginger - me

The Stick:

You're stuck inside Fahrenheit 451, which book do you want to be?

Fahrenheit 451.  Of course. 

Have you ever had a crush on a fictional character?

I believe that deep down we’re all fictional characters.  So that’s a yes.  I currently have two massive crushes, a middling crush, and 3 ghost crushes. 

I’m not really sure it qualifies as a crush (more of a paternal/avuncular thing) but Ender, from Ender’s Game.  Man.  You just want to hug the kid.

The last book you bought is:

Martha Wells, Wheel of the Infinite

The last book you read:

Garcia Lorca, Selected Poems

What are you currently reading?

Seth Abramson, The Suburban Ecstasies
Mark Doty, School of the Arts
Richard Siken, Crush
Jack Gilbert, Refusing Heaven
Joseph Campbell, Myths to Live By
Dukeminer and Krier, Property
Subrin, Minow, Bodrin, and Main, Civil Procedure: Doctrine, Practice, and Content
Robert Stevens, Law School: Legal education in America from the 1850s to the 1980s.
Assorted cases and law review articles. 

And yes, my brain fucking hurts.

Five books you would take to a deserted island:
Assuming that I’m stranded there for some time?  Assuming that I’ve taken a kayak out to chill for an afternoon?  Wimpy stick.

Hmm.  Long term stranding I take: TLOR, The New Princeton Encyclopedia of Poetry and Poetics, one of the bigger classical canon Poetry Anthologies, Boatbuilding for Beginners (And Beyond) by Jim Michalak and a really huge blank book, because even with the Michalak book, I might like it there.

Who are you going to pass this stick to (3 persons)? And Why?
Flashes of Panic, because we gotta get our tech boys on board.
Pat Rosal, because he’s a clever motherfucker (unlike myself) who knows the difference between a mango and an orange.
AI, cause he knows how to read.

Pause

Took a mental break this evening – drinking/dancing at a Bluegrass show (Old Crow Medicine Show) with Sister School and a few of her friends.  The friends were cool – 3 of which worked for the Sierra Club, and who were depressed over today’s vote in the Senate.  But now it’s back to Cass Sunstein and the Paradoxes of the Regulatory State, colored by the afternoon Journal Club meeting – informed by Swan, the Polished Puck, and others.   In particular I’m thinking of the power issues which involve framing the discussion and defining the terms – plus the tremendous amount of power that resides in naming.  I remain impressed by the insightfulness of my compatriots. 

As with many days/evenings, there’s sometimes a question that hooks your entire experience, that floats in the background, subtly informing everything.  In this case the question is “Am I the ‘marrying kind?’”  Yeah.  Yeah, god help me, I think I am.  Granted, it would have to be a particular sort of marriage to one of my kind, but that goes without saying. 

I guess I can still surprise myself after all.

The Scoplaw Escapes for a Bit

The Mission – after squaring away all my shit, to spend 70 or so unplanned hours in the presence of Riposte to reset the brain and remind myself who I am.

Accomplished.  With Quirks.

**

After getting the summer work issue taken care of, I made last minute plans to visit Riposte in her softly decaying and reforming southern city. 

When we found each other in the airport she asked me how my flight was.  I replied that it was pleasant except for the gay overweight flight attendant who kept touching me to get my attention (as I was gazing out the window, earbuds in, listening to Texas [I know, I know] – seems to send off the “don’t talk to me vibe” yes?).  He kept asking if we’d met somewhere before.  Riposte heaved her breathy sigh and asked “Does that *ever* work?”  And thus the weekend began.

Riposte

Physically, Riposte looks like an Egon Schiele sketch brought to live.  If I had her long-fingered and hypnotically expressive hands, I’d rule the world by now.   Actually, Riposte more than adequately fills all of my requirements for a potential spouse – much much sharper than I am (in certain areas), tremendous coffee-making ability (exceeding the Coffee Goddess [sorry kid!]), wicked good backrubs, cutting sense of humor, quick walker/thinker/talker, and an unapologetically lived life.  She has 3 accents and a near-surgically precise command of her expansive vocabulary.  In several ways she’s more sensitive to language use than myself.  She’s widely read – we can talk about the merits of the Graves translation of Lucius and quote poetry to each other. 

She’s unafraid to slug me in the ribs (literally) if I get too bratty, or call me on any statement I make – simple, easy, works for me.  She also has the most critical and balanced self-inquiry I’ve run into; this, I think, is one of the most endearing things about Riposte – that she operates on a kind of meta-cultural/socially analytical level.  In some ways, hanging around her would be like spending an afternoon with Woolf.  In many ways Riposte reminds me of my friend Rasputin.  When you meet either of them you immediately want to ask what they have their doctorate in – yet they’re both self-educated, which I’ve enormous respect for.  Spousing ain’t in the works for Riposte and I though; we just take each other on each other’s terms, which I think is pretty cool, given that her past is stickier (illustrative story below) than my own very sticky past.  She’s one of my good/important people out and about in the world.

**
Travel stories:

Fragments:
Over the weekend Riposte corrected my French pronunciation, my drug classifications, and my impression of events.  She introduced me to a new and excellent tea, a secret squash dish, and some lovely eggplant.   She drove a truck, poured tea on someone (below), showed me a great photograph of her shoulder blade, and in the course of playing tour guide brought me to an arcade (mall) that had the most bizarre mishmash of architectural and decorative styles (low relief cherubim tile, faux medieval chandeliers, and textured wall paper you might find in a Holiday Inn which escaped all renovations since 1963.) 

I gave her some punching tips (torque), cooked dinner, walked the dogs several times (the cat came along to supervise), did the dishes, met some of her people (her grandfather, a very cool guy, is facing some surgery which has people worried), tried to teach her young cousin pig latin (mixed results), drank a lot of (good) coffee and a bottle of wine, and lost myself in a generally pleasant and hospitable plan-less, deadline-less, time.  I was also told I looked like Sky-Captain.  Still trying to parse that one.

Suction:
One evening we went out to the Art Bar for cheap Guinness, where I was brazenly hit on by a woman in a corset who tried to eat one of my arms with her breasts.  It was rather remora-like.  This wouldn’t have been quite so off-putting (she was attractive - save for the smell, misapplied make-up, conspiracy theories, and generally fucked-up-on-something air) if her husband hadn’t been sitting on the other side of her in our bar booth, which afforded me no escape.  Riposte, Splendid Skirts, and Diver looked on in (be/a)musement.  None of them threw me a social rope.  Bastards.  Bastards.  Later Riposte pointed out that I should have just started overtly and sleazily hitting on this woman, which would have escalated the issue at least and at best turned her off.  When R, SS, D and I left, the husband was *not* pleased with me.  He tried to crush my hand when we shook goodbye.  Didn’t work. 

Reaction

Although I have a photo of the remora, it's not nearly as funny as Splendid Skirts' and Diver's reaction (snapped by Riposte) to this woman's vamping.

 

DiverDiver, after a long day at work, checks out the local scene.




Scop_and_splendid
Scop and Splendid Skirts chatter away.




Creepy moment/Buzzkill:
We’re chilling out in her room talking when, freakishly, someone says “hello” and, no knock, tries to open the door (Riposte lives with two roommates, one of whom is Splendid Skirts, neither of which were home.)  This turned out to be Riposte’s quasi-obsessive ex-boyfriend who’d driven 3 hours, parked his car around the corner, surreptitiously entered the house, and hearing voices inside her room, tried to open the door without knocking. 

That’s got a creepiness factor of about 8 in my book.

It’s only really mitigated slightly by the boy himself.  I should name him – “Derailed Lawrence” I think, (or perhaps “endlessly taxiing”).  I’ve known him for awhile.  He’s not a fundamentally bad guy - much potential, much happening, but more, from my perspective, that’s not happening.  I think the key to understanding this anecdote is DL’s near-complete inability to see how his actions intersect with the wants and needs of others, to see the ex post effects of his action v. his ex ante intentions – it’s an odd kind of obliviousness to find in someone who is generally insightful and reflective.  I always read that as a kind of head-game-hostility, or a willful childishness, but I was trumped by Riposte’s reading of the situation. 

Anyway, DL apparently knew I was in town (Riposte told him I’d be visiting) and decided to sneak up on the two of us in hopes of catching us in a compromising situation of some sort.   

Why?

I mean, seriously, why?  What *exactly* would he think such a thing would accomplish?  Except making Riposte absolutely furious.  Which, as you might expect, it did.  I excused myself so the two of them could talk and thus missed the tea-dumping (though in my opinion he was damn lucky not to get the mug in the face as well). 

The rest of the evening was pretty awkward.  DL groveled a bit, Riposte laid down the law (which I can tell she’d done before), then for the next 5 hours DL proceeded to try to worm his way into the evening, which, prior to his unexpected arrival, had turned on an apparently simple enough plan to visit Riposte’s ailing grandfather, move some bookshelves.  Simple socializing, story-telling, some light physical labor.  I was so down for that. 

Post-DL, the plan was the same, but included meeting DL for dinner at 9 after the work was done.  Instead DL totally complexified the situation (randomly calling her relatives and showing up as we were trying to move instead of meeting us later for dinner as planned).  He distracted Riposte so much (with the need to immediately discuss his actions/feelings and endlessly apologize) that the shelves, of course, didn’t actually get moved.  In addition to this there’s the burden of her having to explain/front DL’s actions/presence to her family, who, given her grandfather’s impending surgery, were already on edge. 

Although I mostly just listened, I was asked to chip in by DL, while DL and I were talking (alone - Riposte was trying to salvage her moving project.)  I pointed out to DL that I hadn’t seen Riposte for a year and a half, that I was in town for 3 days, and that god only knew when we’d next have time to see each other.  He said he knew that.  So then I ask if he sees Riposte at least once a month.  Yes, he does.  Are they friends?  Yes they are.  Does he know that his egocentric activities are pissing her off beyond belief?  Yes he does.  At this point it’s hard not to grab him by his ears and shout, “You’re ruining everyone’s day, DL, and grossly sabotaging your own interests – just what is your fucking problem?”

Riposte ended up tossing him 3 times – he just wouldn’t leave.  For the rest of the evening (eggplant, wine, stories) I kept expecting to see him peering in through the outside windows or tailing the car or something.

Scoplaw Catchup

Hmm. Tonight I may return to the dating subject, which seems popular (as would anything as nebulous I suppose).

I wanted to write in and say it’s damn cold out there.  I was a lizard rider today, stopping to bask in the strong sunlight and get some heat on my skin.  I accomplished a number of errands on Lumina – and it remains odd to alternate between both her and Hush.  Lumina was perfect for today though, as I had to weave though a lot of traffic.  If I had to characterize the city drivers I’d say that they were just clueless today, absolutely clueless.  I saw two accidents today (cars only.)  I wonder if there’s some kind of correlation in general obliviousness to the day of the week or the day of the month?  Mid-week always seems bad to me here.  Worse than tightly packed rush-hours or weekends.

The more prosaic reason for my switching to Lumina was that Hush and I just continue to eat rear tire tubes.  We’ve been though 4 of them this past year.  One has that annoyingly untraceable slow leak, one has multiple snakebites, one has a faulty valve, and one was just plain old and over-patched.  I’m certainly the kind of guy who would rather repair, repair, repair and ride something a decade out of date, but I hate patching tubes.  Just hate it.  I also refuse to darn socks.  So there you go.

There might be a better bicycling album than New Order’s “Technique.”  Maybe. 

Tomorrow I’m leaving the District to chill with Riposte down south.  I need to get out of the city for a bit, and this is a great way to do that.  I haven’t seen her in awhile, and am looking forward to resuming our freewheeling conversation.  (Sometimes it just seems like we have one very long conversation.)  I like well-read people with minds like steel traps who aren’t afraid to a) ask questions, b) admit the limits of their knowledge, c) engage in speculation.  Clears out so much of the bullshit.  I really like trips where you just play everything by ear.  I have no plans, so I’m sure I’ll have a splendid time. 

Now to knock out some work. 

E-mail's great, but. . .

Hmm.  I’ve got to add to the gross stereotyping of my sub-generation – they’re pansies when it comes to just posting on the web.  Yes.  I mean you (plural).

From the mailbag:

1.) It’s not that I *want* to date someone in law school per se, but I imagine some of the big advantages would be that you’d be with someone who is on (roughly) the same schedule and who knows what you’re going though.  No need for detailed explanation of the unique stresses or limitations, and, while it may seem geeky, you can talk about the law in more freewheeling conversations than you might with a study group.  Seems like you'd be more aligned from the get-go.  I’m just projecting off the grad school paradigm here.

On the other hand there’s a lot to be said for not dating a law student, especially if there’s going to be overt or hidden competition.  Depends on how much you buy into the system I suppose, how much you let it validate your sense of self.

But on the whole of it, I’m still just surprised there’s not more dating going on, relative to the other academic settings I’ve seen.

(It occurs to me that this answers one of the GlobeTrotter’s questions as well – sorry for not writing back: time, time, time.  Actually there is time, but sometime it has to involve no form of text whatsoever.)

2.)  No, technically, I’m not that old, nor am I the oldest person in my section, and yes, I am faster than some of the kids.  The differences among a homogeneous population always appear larger than they are (without outside perspective), and it amuses me to play the role of old man.  (I expect the summer will be an eye-opener for many here and that we’ll have a nice 2L rebonding phase.  I think the winter break did some of that already.) 

3.)  I use “kid” as a term of mild endearment.  I call my 60yr old friends “kids.”  On that note, I have student-friends who are in their teens, and plain-ole friends in their 60s.  The poetry tends to introduce you to a lot of people. 

4.)  I will follow up on the whole “entitlement” comment from an earlier post, but in short, I don’t believe that I’m entitled to personal happiness.  Meaning there are other things that constrain me beyond my wants/needs.  This results in an attitude that people think is “remarkably mature” when it aligns with their self interests and “high-handed/arrogant/paternalistic” when it does not.   It’s all a bit complicated, and I’ll write about it when I have more time. 

5.) Sexiness in women.  Well, from a random male conversation extending from the cowboy hat observations; blue jeans – worn unapologetically, there is nothing sexier on a woman.  I think Robert Herrick (1591-1674) got it right:

Delight In Disorder

A sweet disorder in the dress
Kindles in clothes a wantonness:
A lawn about the shoulders thrown
Into a fine distraction:
An erring lace, which here and there
Enthralls the crimson stomacher:
A cuff neglectful, and thereby
Ribbands to flow confusedly:
A winning wave (deserving note)
In the tempestuous petticoat:
A careless shoe-string, in whose tie
I see a wild civility:
Do more bewitch me, than when art
Is too precise in every part.

Voices from the Past

Today I was contacted by a fellow ex-undergrader, whom I think I knew tangentially (I was friends with one of his roommates, and perhaps knew his girlfriend pretty well.)  Like me he confesses to “that vague sensation that accompanies recollections of the early '90s.”  Gotta be a fellow alum.  Heh.

I still find it kind of weird to hang with the younger kids here.  They’re (to indulge in gross, gross stereotyping) much more conservative, much more type A, than my last large batch of friends aged 22-25.  And I went to a very conservative undergrad.  It’s doubly weird to consider that were any of them hanging out with me when I was that age, I’d have no doubt been jailed for various offences, including risking the lives of minors. 

I’m sure every generation and sub-generation has their own mores, which, depending on general cultural drift seem more liberal/conservative than the preceding ones, while less of the same in subsequent ones.  Plus there are all those sub-cultures moving faster and slower than their peers.

As a completely subjective impression, I offer the following assessment, having gone to (as mentioned) a very conservative undergrad in which I was very very liberal, then to a super liberal graduate school in which I fell more or less in the center of the pack, then to GULC, which I’m still trying to figure out.  In terms of sex, drugs, and rock, my conservative undergrad fellows were fairly close to me: people did more dating/shacking up than hooking up, soft drugs, and listened to a wide range of contemporary and older stuff.  I seem to remember (heh.) some pretty hard drinking, par for the course, but it was very possible to go out with a mixed group of people and not have anyone get totally  shitfaced.  Culturally/Politically, there was a lot of homophobia (I got death/rape threats due to the purple hair), and a lot of divisiveness over issues.  I could still talk with people about them and had a few very conservative friends.

In liberal grad school, the grad students near my age were still roughly in the S.D.RR category and their politics were closer to mine.  We were pretty solid drinkers but had a few recovering alcoholics among our numbers, which put a damper on things.  However, the undergrads were doing a lot more hooking up, harder drugs (heroin), and generally listened to a smaller scope of music.  There also wasn’t a lot of ideological tolerance, although socially they were pretty accepting. 

Here, again, I’m still trying to figure it out.  But from this old man’s perspective it’s pretty silly.  From about every angle. 

**

I wonder if a lot of it just isn’t political drift.  When I was growing up my friends and I were convinced it was about 50/50 that we’d make it to High School without being nuked.  (I lived in a high target area next to a major defense industry, the Berlin Wall was still up).  I think that does something to you.  I mean the thought that if Reagan lost control of his brinkmanship, everything would go, not just a few cities.   Plus we were Gen X.   I don’t know anyone in our generation that was severely affected by 9/11 – in grad school in NY we used to run terrorist scenarios after the Oklahoma City bombing and the first Trade Tower bombing (remember that one?). 

5 Musketeers

Excellent.   Excellent.  Today I accepted a position in a local Public Defender’s office for the summer, making me the 5th 3peep on board.  Told ya we were public-interesty  I’m *very* excited about the program – it looks great.  When I came home I did a handstand and walked across the floor of my room.  (Dunno why, but if I know someone who does something slightly odd or unusual (like walking on hands), I tend not to do it/talk about it because I don’t want to come off as “competitive.”  I’m starting to think that’s misguided.  Eh.  I was thinking about this when Swan very unapologetically busted out some sweet yo-yo moves in my apt.  That’s the way it should be.)

Anyway, the program: I’ll be paired with a single PD doing all kinds of stuff from interviews to research to preparing pleadings to working on case strategy.  I’ll be observing court hearings and trials.  I’ll also get to stay in DC, removing the potentially huge problem of moving/storage issues over the summer.  (I was thinking about a CT option).  I’ll still have to go back to CT to reorder some shit there, but I won’t have all of my “functional” possessions here, and all my optional extras in CT. 

Now – Poetry, Funding paperwork, Work, and a small celebration.  A huge block of time (job search) has fallen out of my spring break schedule, leaving only study, some housekeeping, and reading for our fledgling “journal club” (a group of 3peeps who are reading and discussing extra law journal articles on subjects that run parallel to the main ideological leaning of our curriculum.  Yes, we are quite possibly insane.)

So I can now go away for part of spring break.  Perhaps a long weekend on the tail end.  I just need to find a place to house me as funds are, well, pathetic.  Or I could just chill out here in the district. 

**

I ran into Security Biker today and we discussed the possibility of a ride tomorrow – of course, we were chatting outside, leaning slightly into the wind which kicked up dust and salt.  We agreed to table the ride until conditions got more humane.  If we have another day like Monday, I’ll try for a long ride.

**

Last night found me out with The Man with Two Names and A Boy Named Sue, both 3peeps.  We shot some pool in a bar, and, it being Monday, had the place entirely to ourselves.  Two Names is one of the most interesting and amusing of my classmates, although BNS has got a great sense of humor (and a frustratingly good command of his leaves.)   There was much laughter, gossiping, and psychoanalyzing.  I’ll probably blawg up some law school dating wisdom in a bit, much of which stems from that freewheeling conversation.  Yes, dating in law school is very much like fishing in a radioactive pond.

Good joke

A guy walks into a bar and sees a sign that reads:

Cheese Sandwich:  $3.50
Chicken Sandwich: $6.50
Hand Job:              $20.00

After checking his wallet, he walks up to the bar and beckons to one of the three exceptionally attractive blondes serving drinks to an eager-looking group of men.
"Yes?" she enquires with a knowing smile, "can I help you?"
"I was wondering", whispers the man, "are you the one who gives the hand-jobs?"
"Yes", she purrs, "indeed I am."
The man replies "Well wash your fucking hands, I want a cheese sandwich!"

Songs, Scoplawry, Googlishness, and Blogging

Gonna be a busy day.  Right now I’m drinking coffee and singing along to The The’s “Love is Stronger Than Death” (great tune to sing along with).  Unfortunately love is not stronger than taxes, which are on deck. 

Last night the Rockstar and I dropped in on Del Cielo’s CD release gig – cool 3fem band, good scene (with some short lived crowd surfing) and I’d recommend ‘em to DCers. 

**

Telling morning conversation with a friend who long ago asked to be entirely non-blawgable (which is hard at times).  Every now and then someone hands yourself to you.  Her comment – “You live in too many worlds, which makes you interesting. . .but no one is ever entirely comfortable with that.”  Yeah.  Gotta go with that, as it’s making a particular amount of sense to me right now.  There’s probably a better way to phrase it, but it’s her observation, so I’ll keep it formulated as such.

**

Swan and I were also chatting this morning, when the whole search string conversation came up.  Someone recently found my site by googling “arab stap on”.  Not sure how I feel about that.

We were also discussing the public/private nature of blogging.  Swan’s more of a disciplined blogger in that he tries to limit the blog subjects for a variety of interpersonal reasons.  I do as well, but I suppose I’m a bit more cavalier with my own personal information (post directly below this for example).

I think that having written for so long I’m somewhat used to people saying things like, “Oh, you use heroin don’t you?  After all, you mentioned that in a poem.”  (Pardon me for a moment while I stick my head out the window and scream.  OK.  Better.)  Or at least I just accept it on some level, despite my railing against it.  I fail the Rilkian test in that I can’t *not* write, and misreading/willful attribution just something that comes with the territory. 

Given that there’s a sort of precise recklessness to my blogging and writing in general – I’m not all that concerned with getting things exact for the readership, since I know the readership is so diverse they’re going to take their personal readings/angles pretty much no matter what I write.  I’ll try to be “accurate” but I’m not going to obsess about the fringes.

In terms of blogging, there’s also a tremendous power to abstractions.  Anytime you start communicating in broad terms, you gain a certain power, but at the loss of precision.  Readers read “over” the situation and plug in what they want.  For example, if I write, “I apologized to so and so” it’s fairly straight forward, but there are dozens of kinds of apologies, ranging from a sympathetic deeply felt verbal apology to baking someone a cake to a sort of open acknowledgement of hostility and resentment.  (There are dozens of kinds of sympathy, cakes, hostilities and resentments.)  Or you can go with details, a kind of minimalist sketch of a situation.  The detail approach gives a different kind of illusion than the broad approach, and the art involves skating about the issue without touching directly down on it, letting the reader make sympathetic assumptions.  But in some sense, in either mode, you're not exactly saying anything.

Disaster

Well, that was just a fucking disaster of an evening. In one fell swoop I managed to alienate a) two friends and b) someone who I have romantic interests in. Further, I inappropriately acknowledged some completely inappropriate sexual tension between myself and a third friend, making that person uncomfortable for no good end (I like this person and would like to spend time with them, but have no interest in pursuing a romantic/sexual relationship.). All in the name of disclosure/honesty/letting people know what you know. I can’t even tell you the layers of irony that permeate this situation. 

It’s not that I think I’m horrible with people, per se, but just that it all gets screwy whenever anyone introduces an intimate/romantic element. I just need to settle into my role as outside-the-circle, risqué yet comforting priest/father/confessor role. It’s really what everyone wants of me. I don’t know why I’ve felt entitled to any kind of personally referenced happiness. God knows, I’ve only seen that happen only ten or twelve times. And I’m not all that different from anyone else.  

Stay in School, ‘Cause it’s the Best

Well, I’m on Spring Break now – which means the Trinity of Poetry, Law, and Bicycling.  I’ll be chilling in the dorm (ack!).  The first two, Poetry and Law have a lot of subsets, including summer job stuff, and publishing issues (just got the most amusing and informal acceptance letter I’ve had in a few years).  Out of my week off I expect to have a few complete goof-off days, some of which I might be able to string together for not-too-far travel purposes, which would be sweet.  However I’m planning on leisurely 6 hour work days and want to get all my “housekeeping” bullshit done (taxes, medical, website maintenance, bills, etc.).  I must also explore the local sites a bit further.  If anyone wants to visit or will be in town – call me. 

**

Last night I went to a “happy hour” hosted by the Reversed Photographer, of whom I’m a fan.  Lots of 3peeps were there for many, many hours, quite happy with their break status.  Funniest moment for me was when SurferDude was giving some shit to The Russian.  I commented that you never want to fuck with the Russians, then she pointed at SD and says in her normal Russian accent, “That’s right, we have nuclear weapons!”  It was so random and so funny (The Russian is the last person you’d think of advocating the use of nuclear weapons for any reason) I actually started tearing up in my laughter. 

Rockstar’s cowboy hat got passed around – it’s amazing what a cowboy hat can do to some (not all) women, including the Russian.  It really increases the sexiness factor by at least 2.  Why is this?  I don’t have a thing for cowboy hats at all, but they’re oddly transformative.

**

Today has featured paperwork, web-research, and a longish arboretum ride.  While I don’t have the raw ability/strength of my younger body, I wonder how much of a challenge I could (right now) give a younger version of myself.  Technically and strategically, I’m a better rider – I just know more, and the past year’s been good in terms of reclaiming some of what I once was.  It’s hard to say what would happen, given the improvements in bicycle technology, but I suspect if you put us on identical bikes, it’d be close.  I wonder most about the intangibles though.  I used to be a fire/anger, all-or-nothing rider, now I’m more of a zen rider.  I could probably smoke the younger me in broken city riding, or in mostly flat long-distance riding.  Not sure about the steep hills though: while not bad, I’m not as whipcord as I used to be.  Security Biker and I have vague plans to air it out one day over the break.  This will be interesting as SB is a huge sprinter/endurance type with a late model bike.  I'm pretty sure I can eat him on the hills though.  Hmm. 

Windy (Guilty) Pleasures

I just got back from an errand ride.  I confess I listened to Peaches for the trip.  Heh.

Man, it’s brisk (20s with wind-chill) but the wind itself is a greater challenge, from NW at 19 mph, gusting to 31 mph.  It’s amazing to be clipping along and have the wind pick up and slow you to a crawl *as you are descending a hill* (conversely the trip back was just frighteningly fast, since I was in my highest gear.  Threading a row of cars in a slight crosswind is an entirely different experience at +25mph than it is at 18mph. 

In Limine was apparently out today as well, but I didn’t see him.  In fact I saw only 2 other bikers, an unusually small number.  IL reports getting pushed across lanes by strange wind effects in the Thomas Circle tunnel – the same thing happened to me.  Next time I’ll stay above the circle. 

**

The day otherwise was odd.  I spent one class chatting away (IM) with a friend, another totally lost in a fog.  There’s a lot of social bullshit floating about which by turns amuses and annoys me – total 7th grade regression.  I hate being talked about when I can just be asked things directly.  I’m starting to get the must-leave-the-city vibe, but it’s not the city – just 50 people in the city of a half million.  I think spring break will take care of this irritation (just from working alone.) 

However, the day was capped with a productive meeting with the Admissions office re: the Section 3 critique.  We’ll be getting some hard data soon, have been put on the track of additional data, and the Admissions office is going to be offering a better write up of B/3 to admitted students which will be augmented by our critique group.  So that’s cool – something useful for someone.  More on these issues later in a 3 only post.

Nice Surprises

Take a nap and good things happen.  The Crow wrote in!

I can only imagine what the Crow's impression of me must be. 

The Crow and I first met in a small MFA program in NY, where I was a year ahead of her.  While she was there she became pregnant with Seashell.  I have enormous respect for her staying the course and graduating.  Even though we went to a famously non-competitive program (cross-genre writing was encouraged) the stress level was moderately high.  Personally I found it harder than I’m finding law school, but I was pretty balls to the wall in those days, and poetry makes entirely different demands on you.  Between teaching, writing, and leading my enfant terrible life, I was a bit isolated from the social circle there.  Nonetheless I’m sure I gave the Crow an earful.  I often do.

Writers are semi-solitary types – I’m in touch with/keep tabs on (to a greater or lesser degree) Ladd, Rosal, The Failed Existentialist, Poet With A Plan, La Luz, Laureate, The Perfect Chord, and small handful of others.  There’s kind of a gateway where you select those people who you bring with you into the next small life – some of those poets and novelists fell by the wayside even though they were a big part of life at the moment of my graduation and had been so for 2 years - SpiritRaver, The Southern Dog, Snifter, Skydiver [all “s” how interesting].  Geography, life, all that shit.

Later, in a completely surprising turn of events, I ran into the Crow in a small southern town in which I was a librarian (long story – as usual there was a woman involved) along with a hard drinking staff that included The BookWench and Riposte.  (I have vague memories of Riposte and I making it through a large bottle of cognac one evening while discussing Sartre and Camus.  So even in hell there was good companionship to keep the mind sharp.  And I wrote some good poems, so it’s hard to complain all that much really.)  For some dumb reason the Crow and I never did any poetry activities in this small town, even though I was in a writing group with some of her academic and press colleagues.  It was always enjoyable to run into her, Mr. Crow, and Seashell in the library though – my door (such as it is) is always open for the three of them.

Night Out/Night In

After some work got done (finally!), I had a dinner/wine/movie night with In Limine, Rockstar, Proto-Abe and the Rational Cannibal.  Much fun was had – I laughed my way through the evening. 

I discovered that the Rockstar listens to Big Country and The The, and so feel like that much less of a geek.  He also introduced me Lajko Felix (great Hungarian violinist), and to Bjork’s cover of “Leaving on a Jet Plane” (totally affecting, poignant).  I got to introduce him to the happy-go-lucky Jonathan Richman, so I think we’re even.

Ah.  Dinner.  I feel moderately bad for anyone who was on a first date next to the four of us (the Rockstar would join us later).  We had an animated and audible public conversation about rape and abortion (pros and cons no less), before Proto-Abe and the Rational Cannibal spent a good while arguing over the sexual mores of our generation – specifically about body hair.  Should it be shaved or not, and what did not-shaving mean in terms of reciprocal, erm, activity?   I won’t outline the limits of each side’s argument, but they were pretty much completely opposed.  I have to say that I side with the Cannibal for the almost all of the argument, in that, like her, I’ve never found any body hair (or lack of it) to be off-putting in any way (well, beyond the point of people keeping themselves clean).  The way I look at it is kind of simple – you should do what you like with beauty and confidence, and those people who will join you are the people who should join you.  Although I suppose that my argument can be used by PA as well – that people can/should have all kinds of pre-existing conditions and limits, although honestly, that seems very boring. 

Of course, we’re law students so there was much talk of contracts, consideration, all the usual jokes.  Plus the Section 3 leavening of philosophical humor.   The RC pointed out that I’m more of a Realist than a Formalist in the bedroom and that while I fancy myself something of an Rule Utilitarian, I rather quickly break down to Act Utilitarianism.  There were pro and con pre-commitment and true/unknowable preference arguments.  I think I worked in some kind of joke about process theory and the importance of institutional access.  As with many such conversations/debates it ultimately breaks down into a “sez you” exchange.  I swear I almost started crying with suppressed laughter as we entered one of the campus buildings to the following exchange:
PA – “I hate to break it to you, RC, but alcohol *is* a drug!”
RC – “Yes, it is.  And vaginas *should* have hair!”
The totally bemused security guard had that head-shaking look of “how-did-these-people-ever-get-in-here.”

Making Soup, Thinking Pirohi

My roomie, James Bond Watch, is feeling a bit under the weather, so I am making my famed spicy chowder.  I should come up with a better name for it.  The chowder was one of those epiphanies I had this summer, both creamy and spicy.  I’ve only made it three times since I’ve been here – each time it hasn’t lasted past 48 hours.  For some reason cooking it involved shimmying around to The Creatures' "Say."  (There's been some odd dance music in my life recently - I've felt the need to listen to both The Creatures and New Order in an attempt to balance that out.)

As I type, a photocopied version of my great grandmother’s entirely hand-written cookbook sits on the shelf above me.  It’s mostly Polish/Ukrainian mainstays (Holupchi, Babka, Pirohi, goulashes, honey cakes, vegetarian stuffing), with a leavening of Americana (mostly pies).  Cabbage, Beets, eggs, and whole milk are recurring ingredients.  “Zuccini Cake” looks intriguing, and I remember the “Kiss Me Cake” very well.  It’s rather remarkable – she made her own bread and granola, as well as her own African Violet food, bird food, her own furniture polish, and swore by calcium chloride “for dampness” which you can buy at the “lumber cement place.” 

I know where I get my sweet tooth from, and my spidery and illegible handwriting.  We make our “g”s the same way – how odd.  On one page, written out in a column, are the numbers 58-94 – perhaps Bessie (Pelaghia) was trying to figure out dates/ages?  Some recipes have other people’s names (whom I recognize) listed above them – did they donate the recipes, or are they personal favorites?  I love the places where she editorializes – “makes a lovely cold soup” and so forth. 

I am tempted by both the stuffing (I remember it well) and the avocado-cream-cheese stuffed celery (which involves radishes and paprika!).  And then there’s Pirohi.  Mmm.  Priohi.

Perhaps a project for next weekend.

Anyway, here is one of the recipes:

Priohi (page 19)

2 ½ cups flour
1 egg
1tbsp sour cream
¼ lb. butter
1 cup milk

In a large bowl mix flour, egg, sour cream and milk.  Knead with hands until dough leaves hands.  Roll dough thin to 1/8th inch thickness or less.  Cut in circles.  Fill with cheese filling or cheese and potatoes.

Cheese filling:
2lbs farmer’s cheese, 2 egg yolks, 3tbsp sugar.  Mix well in a bowl. 

What she didn’t write:

Pirohi are best made by putting a moderate amount of filling in the center of the circles, folding them over, then pinching them shut with dry fingers. 

Priohi can be pan fried, baked, or boiled. 

To boil (my fav.) use boiling salted water and cook them a few at a time for 3 or four minutes.  They should float when cooked through. Bathe them in cold water and take them out quickly (so they remain warm in the center).  A traditional garnish is to finely mince onions then  sauté them with butter or oil.  I use an olive oil/onion/garlic mix. 

These are my great grandparents, hard at work in an undated photo, probably on a meal which I ate.  (Click on it for a larger image.)

Pirohi

Things To Do!!

I woke up this morning and took many deep breaths.  I feel for some reason that I’m going to start running uphill – as though I need to saturate myself with oxygen for some kind of sprint.  But I’m not sure what the finish line is.  Better save enough for a sustainable trot.  If I had a tail it would be snapping back and forth in cat-like patience/impatience. 

I really can’t say my life is bad/stressful as many things are going well.  Last night in particular – one of those very good evenings, featuring a beautiful and intelligent woman, a good dinner, walking in snowfall, and lots of laughing over, of all things, despair.  The night seemed to go on forever and completely messed with my sense of subjective time.  As of this morning, the beginning of the semester seems like it was 5 years ago.  In general, I think my sense of subjective time has been accelerated since I’ve been at law school; probably a function of extreme daily busyness and relative isolation from what/whom I’ve known before. 

At times I feel that I’ve lived several small lives, many of which have only the most tenuous connection to each other.  I can demark these lives by city, employment, phases of my writing, lovers, which friends I spend my days with, the living and the dead.  I’m not sure there have been “watersheds” per se – but there have been six month periods where nearly everything changes significantly.  I’m certain I’m at the tail end of one of those now.  Or perhaps this one will last longer and the changes will come more rapidly as I age.  Who knows? 

While I, like most humans, still have a hankering for a linear, narrative sense of myself, a kind of easily articulated statement of who I am, where I’ve been, I think I gave up on constructing that somewhere in my mid-20s.  Who wants a life you can explain in 20 minutes?  And there’s simply too much out there in the world to worry about how a few week long interest in soap-making, or a random infatuation with the history of puppetry factors into “the big picture” of who I am.  That said, I’m often not that good at surprising myself.  So despite my convoluted past with its many threads connected, snapped, thickening or decaying, (which one friend described as “your sticky, sticky past”) I’m pretty sure of who I am, what I want, what I’d do.

Dunno why I’m blogging this random affirmation. 

I think it’s because some of the more profound changes/tensions are kind of elevating the trivial elements in my life to a level of unwarranted importance.  For example, today I have to call a former employer for a local contact and go to the bank.  These two completely mundane things that wouldn’t even cause a blip on the radar months ago have taken on unusually epic proportions in my mind.  They have become Things To Do. 

I think this is rather silly of me.   I have a theory that people need a certain amount of drama and tension in their lives, and one of the secrets to being happy is to simply acknowledge this and take risks.  If you don’t, drama will invest itself in trivial day to day things (like “Do I call The Engineer first or go to the bank first!?!?!?”) and you’ll be kind of shrewishly anxious over petty things that no one else notices/cares about.  Another way of saying this is that since you’re going to worry anyway, it may as well be about something significant, something outside yourself.  I just need to shut up, take another deep lungful of air, do these trivial things, keep moving instead of turtling in to expected routine, reading and comfortable isolation.

Hmm.  The weekend awaits.  Finances, Friendship, Conversation, Law, Critiquing, Bicycling, Poetry, Publishing, Networking, Correspondence, Employment.   Who knows what the next 48 hours will bring?  Whatever come what may - I'm feeling hungry, ready.

And There Was Much Rejoicing

More on B/3 today sometime I think.

Brief B/3 and LS break last night – The Demanding One had a pot luck.  Early on in the semester (perhaps the second day of Orientation) I was very intoxicated and had a conversation with TDO which I forgot.  I don’t think she’s fully forgiven me for this –  nor will she reveal the details of the conversation to me.  Thus I am hatching a complex scheme to get to the bottom of this – right now it involves Sodium Pentothal, pending any gentler kind of persuasion. 

I used to have a very cutting and critical tongue, which was the main reason for me to watch my drinking (from a social vantage).  I still do to some extent, but I’ve gotten less intense in my old age, less judgmental, so I feel more free to pass into the point of inebriation, especially with friends.  I think I’ve gotten silly-drunk about once a month since I’ve been here – mostly out of boredom.  (I get bored very easily.)  This is something I’ve been watching recently.  It’s probably not a problem, but I’ve decided to task myself on it anyway, just because I can.

Anyway, after dinner a slew of us, including TDO, Novel&Cookie, Sweet Tribulation, The Cool Hand, and Drums Her Own Beat, went dancing at some club to 80s music.  My feet are a bit sore this morning, but it was loads of fun.  It’s amazing – the amount of bad lyrics I have in my head.  I’m really not surprised at the supposedly great mental feats of some of the 19th century thinkers.  If I could wipe my mental hard drive of about 4000 song lyrics (let alone television plots, news which now means nothing, commercials), there’d be that much more room for something else. 

This morning, for some good lyrics (not that the bad ones weren’t fun) I’m listening to Suzanne Vega’s first album, specifically for “The Queen and the Soldier” – that beautifully picked acoustic guitar, her recurring theme of a desire for emotional/personal control coupled with fear of commitment to others/flexibility.  Often she contrasts this to just walking away from the impossibly conflicted, a skill, along with listening, that’s damnably hard to grow.  But I think I’m getting better at cultivating both in my old age.

Yesterday I was told that someone has a crush on me.  I feel quite flattered.  I'm afraid I'm only crushable from afar though. 

Drawing a Line or Two

Poets are my people – that’s how it is.  Which is not to say that I don’t deeply love other people, but poets just have a kind of separate flavor for me. 

But what is a poet?  That’s tricky – oceans of ink have been spilled on the subject, but many poets will make a distinction between those who write verse and poets, the same way we make a distinction between something in verse form and poetry.   It’s not a hard and fast line.  What’s the distinction between a real musician and someone who can make their way through a few covers?  Personally I think it has something to do with sacrifice and humility before the word;  poets can be arrogant as hell in front of anyone (and we are) but the muse and the language.  There’s also a level of engagement that’s required – time, intensity, flexibility.  The bottom line of course is the bottom line – can the person in question write poems, real poems, not just verse?

Having said that I’m prepared to go some lengths for people who have attempted to court the muse (or have spun a hobby into an academic career) as they generally have an appreciation of poetry, regardless of their level of self-delusion.  And I’m especially protective of fledgling poets – writers who are on the path, who have “it” – that elusive sense of balancing elements, that overall “choice” of the poem that makes sense, that is uniquely their own.  There are few greater pleasures to watch someone grow poetically, until they get to that point where they’ve internalized all the rules and modes and you can say to them, “Well, you know everything I can possibly say about this poem.”   Sometimes we call it voice – but it’s not that at all. 

Recently one of my favorite poets has recently started to blog.   I’ve known Cecilia for several years now;  she’s a first class critiquer and teacher, but more importantly, she’s a poet.  You can see it in every line of her work – there’s a presence that dwells in those lines, and you never get a sense that the poem is rushing onward to something, not paying attention to its own breath, or that the language is a mere placeholder for ideas. 

I’m curious to see what she does with the blog, and hope she’ll post up some poetry for us. 

James Bond Night

Ingredients:  one ride-exhausted Scoplaw, one bright green embroidered silk martini jacket, 6 martinis, a shake-it-up vibe. 

Highlights of the evening include chocolate covered strawberries, a dozen or so “catholic school girls,” being IDed three times (twice by random people) as the Scoplaw, and being told by a friend that when she was drunk she introduced her boyfriend to a bunch of people using my name (i.e., introduced him *as* me).  Heh.  I think you live that down, but I'm not sure how.

Brevity

There comes a point at which events pile up, blogging fails, or is sporadic, and you have the choice between relating the near past or pressing on.  I choose to press on.  Still – some notice should be made, since the blog serves as kind of a document of my time.  Thus my crypto-telegraphic entry for the week:

Crafty rides.  Law, not Law School.  Mindfullness.  Car thumping.  Glass splinters in fingers.  Excellent salmon.  So so cod. Property.  Music from the past.  Poetry debates.  Poetry editing – scale problems.  Brief.  Totally condescended to by GULC staff.  The rich and public interest.  Publishing proposal musings.  Old friend in hospital.  Birthdays – Atlanta, London.  Cornet.  Triumphant relative.  People being scared of me (sad).  Odd Dreams – estate sale, talking cats, stuck on that Mt. in Scotland, woke thinking someone was alive who is not.  Studying in the arboretum.  Unsettled Zazen.  Political/educational activities.  Back pain.  Toe socks.  Evil twin.  Flashing leather.  Decision to back off and not break someone.  Impressive classmates.  Muse visits with bells on.  Not seeing myself anywhere particular in five years – no need to.  Accidentally hitting on girl.  Depressing letter.  Another letter, quite possibly the sweetest I’ve ever gotten.  Chinese New Year food.

True to Form

Yeah, after a dream involving harps, I randomly decide to look up an old peep from the South whom I haven’t spoken with in a year or so – the Harpist – and, ting! she’s married.  I ought to offer some kind of service – want an old friend you’re out of touch with to be married when next you contact them?  Well, have the Scoplaw give them a call!  Heh.  I’d make a fortune.

The Harpist was the muse for one of my favorite poems – and no, it’s not about harping.  It’s about an avian conservatory.  But the Harpist is actually a harpist – and a very good one at that.  It was one of those get lucky poems where you sit down and the whole thing just clicks into place in 15 min. or so.  I think I like it because it does not feel like mine – it feels more like a gift I was given.  In some ways this is kind of scandalous to type, having encouraged my students to write and rewrite and rewrite over time.  Which, really, is the only way to grow your writing skills in any medium – practicing the form over and over until you get it down.  ((Hence my great frustration with the spoon fed, chopped up, isolate, near-feedbackless legal writing class – you never get to see how all the pieces fit together.  (Bah – enough!)) 

Anyway, the longer you write the easier it gets in some ways, the faster the poem comes.  In a way early writing is like chiseling something out of stone, whereas later writing is more like working in a plastic medium. Instead of drafting 20 times across days, you can do those drafts fast, one after another, in the first in-process rush, while the poem is still “hot” and malleable.  To write this way, mostly, you have to be very open and alert for what comes your way, you have to let (as Hope points out below) the subject and the poem choose you.  Yet you have to be resistant to writing the same poem over and over; sometimes cross-themes between poems can overwhelm the individual utterance.  And I mean that from the perspective of the writer, not the perspective of the reader.  On a very fundamental level, you don’t write the poem, the poem writes you.  Which sounds kind of scary to many, and on some level, probably is – for if the poem does not demand *of* you as you write it, there will be no demand on the reader.  Each poem is like a small trial (non-legal), a rite of passage.  If it’s not, it’s just slight verse, fluff, or an idea that’s pushed *into* poetry.  These aren’t things that really get taught in schools, for obvious reasons. 

**

I had a good chat with the Wench On A Rack yesterday – lots of stuff about loneliness and keeping the door open for people v. shutting the door.  I’m a poet; I’m addicted to spatial metaphors – just deal.  Anyway, the Wench is far more ruthless than I, but I admire her ruthlessness and think it comes from an odd kind of bootstrapping.  She thinks I’m too passive about things – and perhaps to an extent I am.  I’d like to think that I’m just not arrogant enough to think I can solve other people’s problems, but I’m honest enough to admit that I could pressure people along if I took off the mildness mask (which never works).  The Wench is scary social-smart, and has as many oddball friends as I do; we need to reprise and finish this conversation.

**

It’s fucking glorious out today – glorious.  I took an extended tour on Lumina across the NE quarter of the city.  It’s amazing how much variation you feel on the bike.  Today I just had the boundless energy – every time I wanted more for passing cars, taking an intersection, climbing hills, it was there.  It was one of the rare “faster than thou” days. 

I am now in the coffee/yogurt pre-shower mode, and will soon meet Rockstar and his SO for lunch.  I’ve got to hook up with another unnamed friend for lunch.  I keep thinking about it and it never happens – which is silly because I really enjoy this guy’s company.  Perhaps tomorrow. 

I also have a difficult poetry decision to make.  It involves publishing, which I have a kind of odd stance toward.  Everything seems very balanced and I need some time to digest what’s on the table.  It’s occupying a large corner of my mind right now. 

Oh yeah.  And law school.  Must do that law school thing (actually I don’t even think of it much – it’s just another 40hr workweek, it gets done.)

Much is afoot.

Busy busy Scoplaw.

Juvenilia, Saturnalia

Well, that was a fun night.  I decided to hit the town with some 3 peeps and confidently headed out the door with 20 bucks in my wallet, my license, no credit cards, my moderately annoyed attitude, and a mission (rare for me these days) to get skulled and stay out all night.  Sometimes you just have to go wherever the night takes you – not to end up anywhere particular, or do anything particular, or adopt a kind of do-anything fatalism, but just to get pleasantly drunk and see whatever the world decides to show you.  This is especially important when you’re feeling (as I’ve been) pulled in too many directions, as it kind of resets you.   

Much of the evening falls in to quasi-unbloggable status – not because any wild activity, but rather a sort of general exhaustion at the thought of naming so many hitherto unnamed 3 peeps.  Reasons for the general celebration/intoxication were many – the two largest were the reassignment of our sole Friday class to Monday (the return of the 3 day weekend), and the frustration of a brief (due next week) hanging over our heads.  As one 3peep put it – “It’s a goddamn shame that I pay so much money to go to school here and I have no fucking idea how to efficiently conduct legal research or do legal writing.” 

The evening started out at a happy hour (3 has their own tradition) then moved to a remarkably uptight/silly firm reception from which I at least left with a tin of breathmints and a USB drive.  Everything was very transparent – the recruiting drive and strategies.  I was in jeans/floral shirt/goatee, so I didn’t get too much bullshit directed at me.  Which was nice as it was supposed to be an evening out, away from crap.  I got to chill with the Talented Mr. Something, CivMistress, PokerMaster, Anti-DrugCzar and others.  I tried to talk with Cookie and Novel, but there’s an odd kind of social eddying at these events and we just threw idle bits of conversation at each other as we drifted apart.

I shamelessly enjoyed the free food and drink – and I had way too many margaritas and not enough food.  When I drink the tongue goes first – my brain is just wired that way.  Seriously – I’m dyslexic, but very mildly so.  So when I left I was having difficulty stringing words together.  I was also having difficulty navigating, but thankfully the Id was wearing a bright red coat that was easy to follow. 

We relocated to a bar in a semi-dicey area where I was indiscrete at three points during the evening.  Yeah, there’s definitely 4 things I’d rather not have said to people.  Ah well.  I learned long ago that there’s a certain amount of social chaos in the world that can’t be controlled. You just have to speak and then ride it out.  I guess I am kind of fatalistic that way.  For example, I heard some interesting Scoplaw gossip – apparently I have a harem of women that I’m dating, like six or something.  Who are they?   I'd like to meet one of them.  But no one, not even the gossiper, knows.  Heh.   I was also told that I was perceived to be brilliant, intense, scary, and too restrained/controlled/alone.  Don’t know what to make of that, except that it felt like this person was being honest.  It was also horribly depressing.

Sometimes I put out the “come talk to me vibe” and random strangers will come over and chat.  I had some of that going on last night - more the confessional vibe though, where people ended up telling me all kinds of things.  I did a lot of listening last night and found out stuff about some 3peeps, which was cool.  The pieces are fitting together in my head, and two people on the fence were reclaimed simply by virtue of their telling me their story.   One guy in particular was always a mystery to me – very closed off.  But he went out on a limb and told me something about himself, which made a lot of little half-things click together.

A number of my 3peeps seem sad and stressed – many are going through relationship/identity difficulties which are exacerbated by the environment.  This is always depressing to me as I like these people, and would simply like to see them get their shit together and do what they need/want to do.  However, everyone needs to do this, fundamentally, on their own, though the difference between a supportive and a caustic environment can tilt things radically.  That’s got to be balanced by restraint (for who can say what's supportive and what's caustic) – a walking-away restraint if necessary. 

As a final point to a fun evening there was a kind of quasi-fight at the bar when we left.  One of the 3peeps (who I like, but who is still trying to balance his power/tongue) decided to be obnoxious by (as far as I could understand) helping himself to a beer when the bartender’s back was turned, and then telling her she had to shave her moustache.  I think I’ll call him the Careener.  There was a lot of trash talk with the bouncers, Careener, and some others.  SurferDude stepped in and did his kind calming, rational “Whoa now” thing. 

It didn’t really smell like a fight though.  You can sort of feel these things coming on (and granted, I was pretty wasted at this point), but no one was super-aggressive, people let themselves be touched (restraining hands on chests, etc.).  I apologized to the bartender (who was actually kind of cute) and gave the bouncer the crazy-eye.  In the end the principals bailed and it was largely just The Cool Hand and I and the bouncers.  Which is kind of odd and funny.  Afterward CH turned to me and said, “Did I just do that?  Did I just hold the line while everyone walked away?”  Yeah.  Yeah, I think he did.  Heh. 

Got me thinking though – I’m not sure who I’d have wanted to have my back if there was a real fight last night.  Probably SurferDude.  Normally I’d pick T-Rex, but she’s in Seattle.  Before he was injured in the line of duty, I’d have also put FormerCop on my short list – and he’s still there in spirit.  He and I got into some pretty hairy situations in the early years. 

It’s totally weird to hang out with LS alphas sometimes – they’re all quiet when in a group, but get some liquor into them and there’s just this flare of egos, modulated by a kind of gross insecurity.  Rockstar drove me home, which was sweet of him.  Rockstar is one of those guys who is just competent – he strikes me as someone who simply has his shit together.

All in all, a good night. 

I made some spicy catfish and pepper soup before I left yesterday – such a good call.  I’m starving (eating as I blog).   My morning reflection is the evening as general metaphor.  People fall away, and you’re not really sure where you’ve left them or if they coming back.  You don’t know the deep motivations for their comings and goings – nor, past a certain point, should you. 

Sprinty

Had a nice ride with In Limine and Security Biker today.  It was one of those potential disaster rides.  Hush split a bearing in her front wheel – it sounded like a coffee grinder and felt like I was riding with my brake engaged.  Hush also is developing a mildly annoying bracket wobble. IL has some odd creaking coming out of his bike (I think drive system, he thinks fork), plus he had on his rubber legs as he was just getting over a headache.  Security Biker had no technical problems, but had a strain/pull develop in his knee.  However, nothing bad came from this and we all did fine.  Biking with 3 or more is certainly odd – very unlike the dynamics of biking alone or biking with one other person.   You're much more of a presence on the road, but you're a slower presence.  I think I scared 'em a bit with my city-riding style, which included car brushing.   However, today, unlike yesterday involved no car thumping.  Part of me hates panicking drivers by thumping on their rear window if they start to squeeze me.   But then again, it's not like I have a horn or something.

My hill legs are disappointingly weak.  Still – it’s always fun to switch out from Lumina to Hush and break that 18mph barrier. 

**

Manuscript is finally done and gone!  I’ve had some random MS reading requests – peeps who’d like an electronic copy, please e-mail me.

**

 

Also, my fellow editors at the new review sent me a completely crappy poem which was written re: a dearly loved subject/locale of mine.  They thought it would amuse me.  It did in a way, a sort of empty nauseous way – I started drinking a lot of beer and reading through my Govt. Process text.  That’s a dangerous confluence of forces right there. 

OK, OK, I exaggerate the nausea and the connection with my drinking, which really stems from boredom/sore legs/back.  But the poem *was* really bad. 

I will now force myself to become deeply fascinated by a bunch of dry readings on risk.  One advances the blazing insight that risk is inherently subjective.  I haven’t had enough beer to start crying yet, I think that comes about 30 pages in.

 

Personal Time

Every now and then I just need time alone to recharge.  Normally I spend the time doings Scoplawic things – in this case, switching saddle and pedals over to Hush, changing her rear tube and tightening up her bottom bracket and headset (I’ve been a breakneck rider these past few months.)  Then in expectation of my ride tomorrow, I took her out in the field to make sure everything was working properly, and to pick up some yogurt and salmon at the market.  I’m thinking a chowder of some kind tonight. 

I also spent part of the afternoon reading most of AD Hope’s “The Cave and the Spring: Essays on Poetry.”  Hope is one of the great Australian poets of the 20th century.  He makes for a great read – apart from the predictable free verse screed.  But Hope is a poet, not a versifier, so I’m prepared to forgive him much.  And there’s some really good stuff in here.  Much of this stuff is not groundbreaking, but articulates a working poet’s point of view.  I’ll leave off his technical thoughts on caesural pause in iambic verse and modulation in odes (which is fascinating, really).  Instead I’ll type out some of his lines which I think might interest a more casual reader:

"Poetry and Activism":
Activism, by trying to limit the artist to proposed ends and agreed means, belongs to the forces that persuade Ariadne to stay at home.

Poetry uses as its material not words as sounds alone, but words as meaningful sounds.  These structures of rhythm and sound which we call poems signify things other than themselves, unlike structures of sound and rhythm we call works of music. . .But it is not merely imitative or representational.  Like a sonata it consists in itself of a structure which is not a representation of anything in nature, though the elements of which this structure is composed may be representations, or as we more usually call them, images. 

Freedom of choice, which Activism in any form denies to the writer, is essential to real creation for a reason which is not so much that a writer should be able to choose what he is to write and how he is to write.  This is important enough.  But it is more important, indeed it is crucial, that a writer should not be able to choose, but to be chosen by something in him which he can neither foresee nor predict, something whose nature he can only discover in the process of writing it.

"The Sincerity of Poetry":
Some time ago I took part in a television interview in which the interviewer asked the surprising question: Why are you obsessed with sex?  When I asked what made her ask that she said it was because so many of my poems were concerned with sex, and she was not to be moved from this point of view by my reply to the contrary I thought they were concerned with love.  Nor was she convinced by my pointing out that there were nearly as many references to birds and to religion in the poems in question and that nobody on these grounds had ever accused me of an ornithological obsession or of a tendency to religious mania.

Poetry. . .requires not the expression but the sacrifice of personality, the surrender of the poet’s self to something which is more valuable.  The emotion a poem creates is not the emotion that produced it.  It may look like the expression of a personal feeling.  The poet may even appear to be speaking in the first person, but the emotion in the poem is not even then to be taken as a personal emotion.

No one in his senses would expect a painter to produce nothing but self-portraits. 

"The Practical Critic":
(on the New Critics) The poem is always under the critic’s microscope, and he never seems to reflect that while he is testing the poem, the poem may in fact be testing him.  Sometimes, if he were aware of it, a very sardonic eye is gazing back at him through his lens.

There are sometimes absurd and inadequate interpretations which are not valid at all, but there is no sharp line dividing the valid from the invalid reading.  Each reader comes to a poem with a different background of reading and experience, images in the poem connect with images and experiences which he may not share with the author or other readers; ideas in the poem react on ideas and systems of belief which may be quite other than those in the mind of the man who wrote it.  So that no two readers will quite read the same poem.  To some extent each re-creates it as he reads.

I do indeed hold that poets should be silent and that the poems should speak for themselves if they can.  But in an age of criticism it is sometimes fitting not to let the critics have it all their own way.

"The Three Faces of Love":
No one, as far as I know, has thought much about the education of poets in our society.  This is hardly surprising in a society which makes no provision for poets even to live.

Yeats speaks of the poets as people whose work exists not primarily to help or to inform us.  When we read them, he says, “we have added to our being, not to our knowledge.”  It is this impulse to “add to being” which is the distinctive mark of the creative way of life.

"Literature versus the Universities":

The poet trained in a school of creative writing by academic critics and taking a job in the same atmosphere is more and more tempted . . . to produce work which, more or less unconsciously, is written in illustration of current critical theories; and thus reversing the proper order of nature in which the critical theories arise to deal with the independent raw material of the creative imagination . . . What is really disturbing is when the young lover has the professor in bed with him and knows his performance is being graded as a first or second class honours, pass or fail. Writing is, or should be, a single-minded process.

Trivia - such is life.

Before Comrade Roommate left, he composed a dirty poem from poetry magnets and left it on the refrigerator.  It’s since scandalized at least 3 people – talent.  Heh.

**

I love law school; I hate law school.  This is normal right?  I’ve been told that non-trads have very little patience for academic bullshit that does not translate to real world results, or is predicated on a kind of faulty understanding of how things are, how they work.  Yeah, that’d be me right now.  I think my language is becoming increasingly slangy, elliptical, colloquial, I think, in reaction to my environment.  Something to keep tabs on. 

**

Must trick out Hush tonight as I have a riding date tomorrow with one of the guys who works here (and In Limine as a possible third).   I suggested the arboretum, since the hills might allow me to not turn in a completely humiliating showing.  Should be fun though.   Hush looks lonely in her corner.

**

I’m feeling collected but more spastic today, having random, lurching conversations with people.  Embarrassing.  Must cut back on the coffee. 

The Fuzz

This afternoon I took Lumina out in an effort to match my body to my brain.  My brain is currently a tar like substance – thick and sticky.  Which was kind of like my riding style by the end of the jaunt.  I also picked up the fuzz at every single damn intersection it seems.  Nothing worse than wanting to go and pulling up next to a bored cop who looks right at you.  You just have to unclip and wait.  I was moderately successful at tuckering myself out due to a sprinting ride, and my body is as physically tired as my brain is (sometimes I get brain tired, due to lack of sleep, but not body tired – and hence can’t sleep).

My face is also now fuzzy.  I got a few private suggestions on the facial hair puzzle.  I haven't made any decision yet though.  I don't think I'm going to reprise my pirate beard though. 

I think I’ve hit some kind of wall and feel completely exhausted – emotionally, intellectually, artistically, spiritually.  Not to worry or anything, but I’m just tapped out right now, which would explain my lack of blogging and correspondence.

Things stuck on the fuzzy brain:

Law school – both working on the day to day stuff and thinking out critiques of both LS in general and our section.  The small critiquing group, of which I’m on the fringe, has had its first meeting, which generated some interest.  Basically the idea is to take advantage of the radical (heh) curriculum and push it further along the road.  Say like, perhaps having it avail itself of general 20th century educational/learning theory which seems to impact just about every higher academic institution except for law schools.  More on this soon. 
As usual I’m kind of on the back burner on this one, which is fine.  There’s also the question of how radical I should get.  (Well, not me but the ideas that I should advance.)  For my part, I’ll probably end up doing an in-depth critique of LRW – I wish I could say this would be empowering.  It’s just going to be a fucking chore.  But necessary, I think, as part of the larger project, as well as something I’m well suited for.   

Personal/Spiritual – things are fine, but I’ve had a kind of draining self-examination recently; I had to attempt to articulate a bunch of stuff I hadn’t really planned on articulating.  I think that was very good to do, but there’s something that happens when you try to concretize feelings and subjective impressions in words.  This might sound silly, coming from a poet,  but it took me a long time to not *think* my emotions, to not let them be constrained or strongly colored by words and grammar.  That sometimes makes me a bit inarticulate on matters of complex human business, but it also lends a richness to things.  So I feel I slid back somewhat – that in this case by naming something you diminish/constrain it.  Or inherently mis-label it, since so many feelings don’t fit into the few words we have for them.
There’s also in a different matter pointless drama involving childishness; I can’t say it’s all that strong on the radar screen, but it’s there.  I keep assuming people are adults with a broad kind of experience in the world - I can't keep doing that, it's always bad; there are a lot of people who completely structure themselves in the sense that they willfully embrace one conception of "how things are" and shut out all other views on matters.
So, overall, I’m feeling connected with people on many levels but also sort of completely alienated as well.  Don’t know what I was expecting – this is how it usually is.
Also, I think I’m now more or less completely outed to the class re: my past and poetry and so forth.  Which makes me feel, I dunno, kind of drained, I guess.  Like instead of the mystique of not knowing, I’ll just now have to deal with correcting odd impressions.  The whole poet thing is particularly bad for generating those. 

Artistic  - over the weekend I did a kind of masochistic manuscript review (now done) in which I dragged out much of my old work and ran it through the process.  This is always, on some level, deeply depressing but necessary.  You see how often you missed, where the gaps are between poems, what you’d like to have done differently.   There’s no going back though.  I’m fine with the final ms (an updated amalgam of two earlier mss), and appreciated the kick in the ass which got me going on this process.  My room looked like a snowstorm hit it.  I had to get 250 poems down to 80 or so.  Now they have to shrink a hair further.  No essays in this one either.
I’ve also been reading a lot of poetry per an editorial gig.  Not much to say about that yet, except that I’m deferring to the commonsense aesthetics of my fellow editors.  I feel superfluous at this stage of things. 

Actually, I think that describes my overall mood perfectly – I’m superfluous.  Hmm.  Betcha I feel differently after the nap and shower.   

 

Rides, Free-Riders

I realized (in response to a question) I had not mentioned any of my recent rides on the blog.  Not that this is tremendously exciting stuff, but it is possible to ride more or less year round here – you just need to have the right gear.  I often have the wrong gear. 

When you ride in winter you add on about (depending on average speed) 14-20something) mph of windchill.  That means you have to be very careful with your toes, fingers, nose/face, ears and genitals (pay attention guys).  Most summer biking gear is designed to breathe.  In the winter, that’s not bad to a certain point, but it becomes dangerous when you get into frostbite territory. 

Scoplaw gear modifications for winter riding:  get yourself a wind breaking jacket, preferably with armpit/back vents.  Your torso produces a lot of heat and sweat.  You don’t want to have too much layering there.  Conversely, you want your hands in thick ski-gloves and your feet/toes in windbreaking shoes.  Personally I cheat on the shoes by using my summer (vented) shoes, but by wearing two pairs of socks with a layer of saran-wrap between the two socks (toes and top of foot only).  Sounds silly, but it works perfectly – warm but not sweaty.  The legs fall into a middle ground – commercial winter bicycle leggings are the way to go, but it’s best to be safe and wear something extra between your legs.  There’s no need to go overboard, but you want to make sure you have enough layers so the wind does not cut through.  The head is also something of a middle ground.  It, overall, produces a lot of heat and sweat – if you wore a wool hat you’d heat up too quickly.  On the other hand if you go bare you’ll hurt your ears, nose, lips, and cheeks.  Generally I use a headband for my ears and lots of chapstick.  Depending on the terrain, I usually keep the helmet on (more on that later).  When it gets really cold (say in the 20s before windchill) I’ve got an old thin wool scarf that I wrap around my neck and face to protect my nose.

Basically, with the exception of your extremities, you just want to create a thin layer to hold in the body heat a bit longer than you normally would.  If you step outside, hop on the bike, and you’re warm, that’s no good.  You’ll get too hot on the ride.   

**

So I’ve been going on daily/every-other-day rides, generally shot – 10 miles or so.  I’ve also been eating like a fiend.  I do this every now and then.  I just get hungry and can’t stop eating all day long.  This is very problematic since it coincides with my purchasing a bunch of fatty foods (ice-cream, cheese, chocolate, pesto).   Also, there’s been easy access to free cookies, donuts, muffins.  I’m so so bad on pastry.

**

In other matters though I’m feeling fairly clear and strong.  I think that sometimes when I’m balancing a network of close friends with divergent wants and interests, I let myself get burned too often, as everything becomes a big fuzzy mess of possibilities, unsure motivations, possible desired outcomes (or avoided outcomes) justifying behavior.  I bend too much, I’m understanding when I perhaps should not be.  Or perhaps I allow myself a certain level of temptation because I simply like people.  This ties in with the whole fuzzy conversation Charlsie and I have been having.

However, when I’m feeling somewhat isolated, everything gets very clear.  I put up with less bullshit from people. 

Time to let people who are only interested in what I can do for them go.  Time to also let the pastries go.

Slings and Arrows, Baby

Thusfar my two most promising alternate summer employment ideas are:

1 Set myself up as a bargain basement LASIK doctor using a magnifying glass and a maglite.

2 Wash windows in SW DC with Drums Her Own Beat.  She’s got the bucket, I’ve got the squeegee.

**

In Scoplaw news, I’ve emerged from my poetry quasi-exile and again associated myself (simply by posting to) one of those large workshops.  It’s interesting to see how many people are still grinding axes.  One of the subsites spent several hours discussing me, including my no-nonsense workshopping persona, not that the issue was really phrased that way.  I think is just silly: first off, that you could extrapolate someone’s actual demeanor or personality via their participation in an on-line workshop (sans more personal correspondence, etc.); secondly, as a corollary, that it’s apparently inconceivable that someone could actually isolate interests – in my case, talking poetry, not trying to form on-line friendships with anyone who wanders onto the site.  (I actually have several warm correspondences with poets whom I’ve not yet met, but these are predicated on a mutual respect for each other’s work.)  One of the denizens on the subsite is clearly unhealthily obsessed with me, which is irritating in a flea-like way.  If only he was stalking me in real life, I could round on him and be done with it.  (Actually, I’m sure that in real life I’d shock a goodly number of the poetry denizens who think I’m fairly uptight.) 

Oh, so basic, I almost forgot it: much of the discussion assumed that poetry (of course) is unmediated autobiography - that I'm writing about my own actual experiences in my own voice.  Drives me nuts. 

Anyway, couple all this with the recent personal badmouthing thing, and dorm-drama, and I’m starting to feel like a gossip/shit-magnet. 

Perhaps I should make some noise for the acquaintances (as opposed to friends), and remind people who I am.  Calmness does not indicate a lack of passion, evenness does not mean a failure to commit, forbearance is not a lack of strength.  Still, it does not make me feel good about myself to burn people.  Perhaps this is a form of weakness, but I can only really deeply criticize those people whom I care about on some level.  If I don’t have a stake in seeing them become better humans, deep criticism seems too much like cruelty.  And at this point, I can’t honestly say that (in regards to the real and virtual worlds) a) I haven’t already tried (and failed), and b) that it wouldn’t thus just be a pointlessly vituperative exercise at this point.  Also, I don’t have the time to waste on the off chance that I’m wrong about the last two points.  So I just expect I’ll shut the door, hopefully with some kind of compassion.

Charlsie has some good thoughts on this in another post’s comments. 

**

It may be silly, but I take great day-to-day consolation from my 3peeps – and not just those whom I’m doing project stuff with. 

Planning Ahead

I had a conversation recently with a friend who had occasion to see me (and/or pictures of me) with the various facial hair configurations.  I gave her my standard line which was that facial hair is the best thing about being male.  Her response was, “Yeah, and you grow it well – too bad it does you no favors in that whole dating women thing.” 

She also commented that I changed my "look" often.  Which is odd, since I don't really see myself as having a look that I'll leave for a new look (or however it works).  I like to wear what I wear often because I like the thing itself or its utility.  Hence my obnoxious floral shirts.    

I think it makes sense to be consistent with some things - such as who you are, what you value,  how you react, etc.  But to remain consistent in what kind of clothing you wear or how to style your hair?  Eh.  Then again, I'm not too gifted in the social intelligence/signaling department anyway. 

Well, one way or another, there’s got to be some kind of facial hair project for finals.  Tradition and all that.  I’m not sure when I should start though (the only technical requirement is that I have to let whatever it is I’m growing grow throughout finals).  I’m also uncertain about what I should grow.  I think I’ve had more or less everything at one point or another – van dyke, handlebar, goat, full beard, sideburns, imperial, etc.  Oh, wait - I’ve never had a soul patch and I’m never going to grow one. 

Suggestions on what/when?

Poetry (Yea!)

Last night thanks to Handful of Dates (so named because like the legendary Arab gets through his day on a handful of dates, he seems to get though his day on a handful of words) we had a small Robbie Burns Supper.  HD made the whole thing happen and was his usual suave and collected hosting self.  There was poetry, non-Haggis, whisky, wine, and talk.  I think I got to bed at 5am.  These are certainly the happiest kinds of nights for me. 

Interesting items of note yesterday moderating my disappointment from the last post follow.  DC was hit by a minor snowstorm which had the effect of shutting the city down.  Kids were outside playing in it, and the snow imposed a kind of silence on the city.  You get to see the tiny paths humans allow themselves through the word – the rest is claimed by snow.  I rode to the party on Lumina and had a blast (except for the frozen fingertips part).  Its so much easier to crunch through four inches of pristine snow than it is to try to navigate over packed down snow – but I got some really strange looks from pedestrians and motorists.  From the side it must look completely bizarre, counter-intuitive. 

Of course, since everything was shut down I could not get a) additional whisky and b) a book of Robbie Burns poems.  Both were provided for by HD.  When we read there was a bit of a confusion about Burns, so I switched over to some of the contemporary Americans and Europeans, which went over well, I think.  Everyone read, even MASH who had to be gently prodded into it.  (Later I would get to see MASH’s digs and his paintings.)  HD had pointed out early on in the night (before anyone arrived really) how much he’d enjoyed our school/section because everyone had such different backgrounds.  I agree, I always learn things from the 3peeps.  In the case of last night, I did learn things, but I also learned via observation - it was very telling for me to watch people read poetry, to watch them react to it.  You can tell a lot about a person from what they choose to read and how they read it.  I can’t say I was surprised, but I can say that my impressions were deepened, and that everyone did well as themselves.  I ended up reading some odd old poems of mine.  One from 96, one from 98, one from this year.  Whenever I read (my stuff or anyone else’s) to a group of listeners I get charged up – I’ll get tired later but I won’t be able to sleep. 

The Id and I pushed into morning – did some tarot readings, and I experienced Reiki for the first time.  The Id’s deck was kind of odd.  It was a sort of harmonious/generous deck, and the card that it used to identify itself turned up in the reading I did for the ID.  We did the standard approach stuff, keeping it kind of dry, broad.  I liked the reading the ID did for me – nothing surprising, but something I knew anyway.  It lead to a small moment of social awkwardness, smoothed over I think (I hope!), but best to get all your cards out on the table at a certain point, and I’ve no doubt the time was right and the outcome was the correct one. 

Reiki was bizarre.  That would be would be good gypsy-bizarre, not nightmare bizarre.  It felt like I do when I focus and meditate (which I try to do daily), but it was as though I was relaxed in a very passive way and this feeling/warmth was entering my body instead of being generated from it.  It felt very good, very complete.  I had that same kind of rolling emotion thing that I have when I’m around the Id – I had mentioned this earlier on the blog.  But this time it was more transparent and my hands didn’t shake at all.  Odd.

Reiki is another one of those things that I should have known about – sometimes it seems that the world keeps opening up and up and up. I wonder sometimes whether I believe in more or less as I get older.  Perhaps I just believe differently.  It's not (Horatio) that there are more things on heaven and earth, but rather that everything in heaven and earth keeps re-inventing itself.  No wonder Whitman was fascinatd by a blade of grass:

A child said, What is the grass? fetching it to me with full hands;    
How could I answer the child? I do not know what it is, any more than he.    

I guess it must be the flag of my disposition, out of hopeful green stuff woven.    

 

So, today – less poetry, more law.

Disappointing

Every so often it seems I’ll be in the habit of defending someone.  We’ll have had a disagreement, something of the sort, we’ll be friends, or not-friends, but I’ll defend them anyway, knowing how easy it is for one party (in this case me) to put a spin on the story when the other person isn’t there, to turn their recounting of events to their own advantage without considering the other side.  (Given recent discussions about argumentation, some 3 peeps will note an even thicker layer of irony here.)  So, anyway – in speaking with third parties about absent people, you present the balanced argument, make honest assessments, give the other point of view the benefit of the doubt, in short, try to understand and learn from your understanding. 

However, sometimes that does not cut the other way – you find out that the person you’ve been so careful to paint in a neutral light hasn’t been doing the same.  In fact, they’ve been bad-mouthing you to others.  Which for me is pretty decisive.  You get to apologize for things you say directly to people, but you can’t call back social comments – stories heard by others.  It’s one of those lines I draw.  It's very childish to have all or nothing responses to people.

Anyway.  It’s disappointing. 

I found out this afternoon that something of the sort had been going on.  So – here’s the pattern over the course of 6 months.

  • I defend A to B.  B thinks A, absent, is totally in the wrong, but I try to at least present the other side.
  • I defend B to C and D.  C and D are kind of neutral about B, I keep it that way.
  • I defend B to A.  A’s recently returned and is a little suspicious of B’s behavior.

Today, I find out that B’s been badmouthing me.  Perhaps because B knows I have a tendency not to roast people, to accept their flaws, whereas I don’t think B can love people who are flawed.

All people have flaws, I’ve never met a human without them.  However, it takes very little to hold those flaws up for public ridicule.  It takes very little to make people feel shitty about themselves – so little that it’s remarkably easy to do it by accident, which I'm sure I did with B at one point.  Sometimes I feel like Bricriu of the Bitter Tongue.  So I’m always kind of amazed that people want to drift over into trading barbs in public, to naming names, to making it personal and not about arguments/ideas, etc. 

Usually though I hold off.  And I probably will continue to do so, to keep B’s secrets (such as they are), because no good ever comes of this sort of thing.  Perhaps also some has lied to me, or has exaggerated B’s behavior.  Who knows?

The upshot of all this is that I feel kind of dragonish, and it’s a bad time for that; I’m under enough stress as it is.  More immediately, there’s a Robbie Burns supper this evening and I don’t want to go to it in a foul mood.  I’d try to bike some of it off, but we’re snowed in (such as it is). 

Much Doings

Although people have cautioned(?) me to change my blogging style to a more linear, persona-based, episodic format (as opposed to my random, mixed format, serial updates) I just gotta say, sweetly as I can, jump in a lake. 

So in complete Scoplawry, I’ll simply bundle all of my recent notes into one post.

First up, the new roommate arrived and is mostly moved in.  I’ll be trying not to compare him the departed Comrade Roommate (who hopefully has been snickering about the recently revealed excellence of his “monkey writing” [aka Legal Memo assignments]) and to take the new guy on his own terms.  No moniker yet, no strong impressions beyond the general fact that he seems like a nice and personable guy.  You know what? - I’ll call him The James Bond Watch.  Yes.  I think that fits.  Can’t yet say if I’ll be blogging anything about him though. 

Secondly, riffing off Monica, who like myself is Ipod-less, I’ll list the current CD on the top of the stack.   Unlike M, I have one list – study, bicycling, cleaning, chilling: it’s largely the same.

INXS – Listen Like Thieves
Pixies – Doolittle
The Caedmon Poetry Collection
Tom Waits – The Black Rider
Suzanne Vega – 99.9 F
Edvard Grieg – Odd pieces
Some of RockstarJ’s stuff
The Cure – Kiss Me, Kiss Me, Kiss Me
Dan Bern – Fifty Eggs
Billy Bragg – Back to Basics
Gustav Holst – The Planets
Siouxsie and the Banshees – A Kiss in the Dreamhouse
The Queers – Love Songs for the Retarded
The Clash – The Story of the Clash (2vol)
The Pogues – Sodomy, Rum, and the Lash
Johnny Cash – The Man Comes Around

Thirdly, I’m totally amused by this entry of Tony’s, which I’ll reproduce here:

A Blurb For An Unpublished Book

He utterly rejects the easy irony and flattening of affect so endemic to the contemporary poetry scene, a scene increasingly peopled by young, earnest poets who are way hipper than you.

Instead of linking to it, I’ll link to a recent poem of his which you should read.

Fourth, the personal dynamics of this place are getting very very strange.  Couple that with a bunch of non-LS activities that just leapt out at me and I’m starting to feel overwhelmed.  Although one  upshot is that I’m spending time with people I really ought to have spent more time with such as Wench on a Rack, and 3peeps like MASH, The Id, and Rational Cannibal.  There are others of course, but my monkiering is almost exhausted at this point.  Plus there’s the whole blog/don’t blog tension.  I’ll limit myself to a quick paragraph:

MASH's a great guy – looks like he’s stepped out of an episode of MASH where he starred as one of the quirky extra MDs who’d formed a quick alliance with BJ and Hawkeye.  The Id’s to be honored for her fearless asking (of what many of us were thinking anyway).  The Rational Cannibal and I have some odd personality parallels: I enjoy her insightfulness, quickness, and dark sense of humor.  I was told by a third party that we’d probably get along quite well until we killed each other, but I amended that to one of us “killing and eating” the other.  Which I don’t think is a real worry – hence my amusement, hence the monkier. 

Fifth, as part of the above one odd conversational thread running amongst many people, including the above, has been Buddhism/past lives.  The Buddhist strand has centered, oddly enough, on “mindful eating” – which, being so sensual, is probably easier to focus on than mindful listening or mindful waiting.  It’s probably also oddly frightening to many for that very reason. 

Mindful eating is very pleasant. We sit beautifully. We are aware of the people that are sitting around us. We are aware of the food on our plates. This is a deep practice. Each morsel of food is an ambassador from the cosmos. When we pick up a piece of a vegetable, we look at it for half a second. We look mindfully to really recognize the piece of food, the piece of carrot or string bean. We should know that this is a piece of carrot or a string bean. We identify it with our mindfulness: "I know this is a piece of carrot. This is a piece of string bean." It only takes a fraction of a second.
When we are mindful, we recognize what we are picking up. When we put it into our mouth, we know what we are putting into our mouth. When we chew it, we know what we are chewing. It's very simple.
Some of us, while looking at a piece of carrot, can see the whole cosmos in it, can see the sunshine in it, can see the earth in it. It has come from the whole cosmos for our nourishment.
You may like to smile to it before you put it in your mouth. When you chew it, you are aware that you are chewing a piece of carrot. Don't put anything else into your mouth, like your projects, your worries, your fear, just put the carrot in.
And when you chew, chew only the carrot, not your projects or your ideas. You are capable of living in the present moment, in the here and the now. It is simple, but you need some training to just enjoy the piece of carrot. This is a miracle.
- Thich Nhat Hanh

Sounds like he’s got the makings of a poet.  Heh.  Seriously though, this is very close to the idea of knowing something so you can name it.  Often a name is very complex and the poem tries to bring the “whole name” of the thing into your consciousness, which involves simply looking very hard at whats in front of you and trying to appreciate it for it's own nature, then trying to appreciate how you feel/think about it, and finding the balance point between the two.  Mindful mindfulness? In fact, much of the enduring poetry could be argued to be about naming very particular and fleeting emotions. 

Sixth, I did counter-inaugural activities yesterday – there were some pretty hefty marches about the District.  For some reason I ended up at the zoo hanging out with the cheetahs.  There was absolutely no one there which was nice.  Just me and the cats.

One of the marches (click for a larger image):
Dsc01955

Everything, Nothing

I’m starting to feel like that kid in Rushmore – lots of odds ‘n ends pulling me away from legal studies.  But honestly, I still have plenty of time – as evidenced by this afternoon of work.  The reading for this semester seems to have picked up remarkably, or perhaps I’m simply reading more deeply.  I need to start being ruthless when I’m in a text, cutting off lines of inquiry and locking down on the most likely paths for class/exams. 

There’s a kind of ongoing critique of both law school in general and our alternative curriculum.  In the days to come I expect it to become more clearly articulated and some specific points made for change.  In some ways the small initial group of critiquers have slightly divergent goals, but I think the basic umbrella we’re working under is wide enough to accommodate all kinds of views.  If none of my most desired reforms/changes happen (and this is all largely to benefit future classes – by the time anything gets concretized we’ll have left the curriculum) but any of the changes which I’m kind of so-so on happen, I’ve absolutely no doubt the program will be stronger for those changes.  Given the great deal of interest in the blawgosphere about reforming legal education, balanced against the need to retain our local efficacy, I’m honestly torn on how much I should blog about this, but I’ll keep it broad and vague for now. 

To focus on a tiny portion of my own critique, I’m still kind of shocked how much “common knowledge” of the profession does not filter into LS proper, but must enter through “extra-curricular” activities.  There’s kind of a classist mentality working here.  For example, our property professor made clear that he had little or no interest in teaching us anything about how to buy or sell property, or how to draw up wills.  He joked that this was the sort of thing everyone expected from lawyers – that all your friends and relatives would want advice on these two things.  While he didn’t hold these activities in distain – in fact he said (if I remember this correctly) that his father was a lawyer and that these kind of transactions “put food on the table.”  Now, while I’m hungry for theory, while I love the radical perspectives we’re getting introduced to, I very much also would like to be able to have a basic mental framework in place re: buying/selling property and filling out wills.  I mean, I really have no clue about either of these. 

Sometimes I think that in the need to engage with huge sweeping (sexy) issues that people forget the basic foundation of advocacy is the little guy – is what happens all around you, all the time.  It’s the little things that matter, because the little things define the daily reality of the system that most of the country lives in. 

For example, my friend Riposte isn’t having a great time right now.  One of the things she’s dealing with is an animal pound that wants to kill ("euthanise, not kill," she writes) a dog she brought in and is willing to adopt.  Apparently the dog was abused, escaped, and although injured and malnourished has a sweet temper – playing with kids and cats.  However, when the dog snapped at a dog catcher (wouldn’t you snap at someone who dropped a cord around your neck and jerked you about on a long pole?) it became labeled “aggressive.”  Although Riposte is willing to take care of the dog, has a vet arranged, etc., the pound’s indifferent – there’s also some issue about Riposte residing outside the pound’s “jurisdiction.”  One option is for her to claim ownership of the dog (and face animal cruelty charges).  Isn’t that fucked up?  The pound would be willing to release an animal to an abuser (who’d be charged – more cash for the county), but not to a place where it would be cared for.

Days like this, I wish I had letterhead.  This sort of thing isn’t just about the dog (although the dog will no doubt bear the brunt of the damage in the form of her life) – it’s also about the people who have to interact with the system, and how that system treats those with power and those without it. 

On a related note (classist behavior), I keep having a conversation with someone about credit card debt.  No matter how I explain it, I can’t get her to wrap her head around the idea that there’s a delicate non-living wage balance in some parts of the country, where you take the cheapest place you can find, whatever work you can find, and hope you don’t get nailed with medical bills, or that your car dies, etc.  The upshot of course being that you often have to live month to month with a load of debt over your head.  I did this for awhile, and while I’d not recommend it, under some circumstance it is unavoidable.  I have nothing but sympathy for people caught in this system – which is pretty much perfectly balanced to take everything you have, then a just a little bit more.  Not enough to drive people into the streets or to demand something be overhauled – it’s quite calculated.  Her take is the standard republican crap that people simply shouldn’t spend money they don’t have.  If only those poor would have some discipline they’d be able to save up money!  At some point I just gave up.  I was discussing this frustrating conversation with another friend who pointed out that there are some people who have no conception of money, whose position of relative privilege blinds them in odd ways, no matter what their political leanings – in her words, “shortage of money is never a consideration for those people.” 

There’s a tangential point which is faux-identification: trust fund babies hanging out in warehouses, or dating people of lower economic status.  I’m not sure if it’s guilt or something else that drives them to do this, but there’s a complete element of condensation to it.  (Not that they stoop “downward” but that they think they’re doing just such a thing on some level.)  In many ways it’s just the same dynamic that you find at the root of imperialism, a mutation of the white man’s burden.  And it leads to the same ridiculous assumptions the same destructive behavior, albeit on a more personal level.

Does this kind of classist/elitist mindset translate further to a legal educational culture that thinks giving its students the basic skills to help dogs (and their would-be caretakers) is somehow beneath it?  That “daily problems” do not matter so much as being clever on the meta-level (as though judges and juries live for cleverness).  Or is it priming us for an attack on usury? (If so, I’m down with it, obviously.)

The counter-point to the above as it relates to law school is that we’re smart enough to figure it out ourselves, to read the law on our own, to gain advocacy skills through extra curricular activities, to work the process as we see fit.  Yeah?  If that’s so, give me my damn degree, let me keep my cash, and let me go.  ‘Cause I’m also equally capable of reading the theory on my own.  The poets know – the universal is always and only manifested in concrete things.

Bah.  Foul mood. 

Less wine, less thinking, more work!

Ground Floor

In a day fraught with disappointment (well, one really, and that one might turn out OK after all, which would be a relief), there were some bright spots, which, frankly, outweigh the bad stuff.  Chronologically:

1 Two friends are getting a new literary journal off the ground (it’s practically off the ground as is) and asked if I would come in as an editor/advisor.  YEA!!!!  I am very excited!  And I can mark this as the first day I heard of it/became involved.  I have no doubt I'll look back on this day with fondness for that alone.  If I trust anyone’s good sense/aesthetics in the crazy poetry publishing world, it’s these two.  I have to scratch some hours off my week, but I’ll do so with zest and pleasure.  I mean when it comes down to it, I’d work for only about 10 poets I know in an editorial/advisory capacity.  And I know a rather large gaggle of poets. 

2 Random encounter with a beloved (Philia, not Eros) 3 peep at a coffee shop. 

3 A different friend (also Philia) whom I admire confessed to having a rather risqué erotic dream about me.  She quite seriously assured me, “You were wonderful.”  At this point I break down laughing.  I then proceded to completely lose it as I thought of that line from The Shadow: Psychically speaking, I’m very well endowed.

4 I finally decided to stop dicking around (what was I waiting for?) and made some of my nifty and should-be-patented vegetarian yeast gravy – the full bore stuff.  While this probably sounds disgusting to the casual reader, it’s actually a divine substance.  Then I ate some sprouts with it.  Yeah, I know, I’m a pointless sensualist, but I love it. 

Conversation from the last time I made the gravy (this summer):
Eater:  So this, it’s like, made with. . .
Scoplaw:  No, No, No.  You know the rules.  No questioning the jazz cook.  Just eat it.
Eater:  Well, erm. . .
Scoplaw:  Eat it. 
Quick bite with a bare bit of gravy.  Followed by a pause and an immediate dart back for more.  Then still more, eaten slowly. 
Smirking Scoplaw:  Now say it’s the best you’ve had.
Bemused Eater:  Geeze – that’s the best fucking gravy I’ve ever had!

5 Took out the cornet again, and she helped me with a poem.  Sometimes you can play the poem (sort of) and have lyric modulations suggested to you in a way that’s not quite the same as the usual process.  I have trouble explaining it.  I used to do it with a guitar, but the cornet is much better.  I still have to name her.  (It’s appalling I know, I apologize to her all the time, but her name just isn’t clear yet.  I think it’s something Arabic.  Sigh.) 

6 Thanks to my father and his obsession with technology and film, I have a bunch of DVDs on my shelf.  I have a great movie on deck for the evening.  With perhaps some friends visiting for it and wine. 

Liars, Lying

Lying is a delicate thing, never to be undertaken casually.  I go back and forth on its desirability.

There’s the idea of the civilizing lie – the lie we tell to shore up others who are past a certain point.  I think of this as the hospital bed lie, and in recent years I’ve been unfortunate in my opportunities to use it.  I’m not sure if it matters that the party hearing the lie believes the liar or not.  Then again, I’m not sure the communication is ever about the surface level things in these situations.  Springing from this is the party lie, or the logistical lie: “I have to leave your lovely party because of X,” when it’s really Y, or X and Y.  This is kind of a public lie, and again, it’s simply done not to open up cans of worms in inappropriate situations. 

I’d probably put many of the anecdotal, story-telling lies in the above category – certainly those in overt narrative arts.  (Poets take it on the chin in Book 2 of the Republic – and yes, we do lie as explained here.)  But there’s a line that can be crossed when people are relying on story for information – and on the far side of that shifting line is the lie of social control, which I think is an entirely different order of lie. 

The lie of social control; a lie (or most likely series of lies) told to control the behavior of others by giving them false information about one’s self or third parties.   While the form (untruth) is similar to the above, the substance – the intent, is radically different.  When believed, these lies alter perception and behavior, and I find these to be egregious and creepy.  More specifically, it repels me, and I’m not sure if this arises out of a sense of disgust or fear.  After discovering a this particular kind of liar, I can never quite look at that person in the same way; even if there’s great stress prompting the lie, or mental illness, or if the liar “means well.”  I retain the affection that I’ve had for them on some level, because the qualities and individuality I admire about the person will remain somewhat unchanged, but there’s that gloss over it all – “this person tried to fuck you over; they tried to control an aspect of your life; they tried to play god.” 

In my experience there’s a tipping point where people can simply stop lying –not that this changes the past in any way-  but there are also people who just have a fundamentally different moral spectrum.  It’s been my grave misfortune to encounter a bunch of these types in the past 4 months.  In a way it’s so unsettling that I’m almost uncertain what to do. In a way it’s like dealing with racists/homophobes – you give them a few strikes, have the conversation, give them a few more strikes, then, at some point, you have to pull back the hand, hoping that someone else will extend theirs.

Then there’s the withholding lie – not a lie per se, but a hiding of behavior.  Or a deliberate floating of the most tangential information as thought it were central.  In many ways this amounts to the same as the above, but I’m often more willing to cut some slack for those who simply don’t want to speak, or aren’t good about speaking.  But again, that only goes so far.  A lot of people use their silence on issues as camouflage.  What’s the line between a) knowing someone’s laboring under a misapprehension and not correcting them, and b) setting them down that path in the first place.

Is it better to let people labor under illusion?  Everything I’ve experienced tells me, “no.”  Treat people like free agents.

**

Clarifying odd points that have floated back to me (god knows how these things get going) over the past weeks:

- I have never been married.
- I do not play in a band – I am appalling on guitar and cornet, but sometimes use them when writing poetry (complicated).
- I am not, nor have I ever been, an addict/alcoholic. Well, except for coffee.
- I do not have a communicable disease.
- I am, by nature, hyperbolic – death wishes are not to be taken literally.
- I am not gay, or even bi.  On the one to ten heterosexual-gay scale, I’m probably a 3. 
- I am relatively conservative (caveats) in most aspects of my behavior, extremely liberal in my politics.  Hence I have many friends who do things I would not.  I’m fast, risky, but calculated – not self-destructive.  Given my perfectly fine imagination I’m not eager to rack up “experiences” when I’ve already done something similar.
- I am not a Satanist – that would be somebody else’s St. Peter’s Cross I wear now and then; something about humility and honesty and denial.
- I am not a bicycling god – I’m adequate. 
- I do not hate any of my ex-girlfriends, nor am I sleeping with any of them.
- I am not secretly rich; in fact, I’m quite poor, but adequately provided for.  (In many ways this is the most absurd one for me – hard to explain.)
- I’m not what you might consider to be a “famous” poet.  I am very very good though, certainly within my aesthetic;  poets listen to me and a number of the big guns know me.  I'm not a fan of many of the middling guns - often that's vice versa.
- My strictures for the first semester were: no dating, be invisible as possible, listen more than you speak.

Zip and Zoom

Hmm.  The Exotic Spice is hitting the Smithsonian and I am hitting the road and the books.  Some of us get culture, some of us get civil procedure.  Ah well, as the ES amusedly suggested, it’s time to resurrect that old flame of mine. 

Last night was fun – our talk (joined late in the evening by the Enigma) turned on poetry, poetry gossip, wine, politics, law, and people.  For example, we spent time discussing neo-formalism and its quarter-century of promises and failures; we kicked about the dynamics (repetition, variation, echo, tension) and history of the list (as opposed to the litany) in poetry.  I felt like a bone-dry plant absorbing precious water.  I tend to have my best times with artists, writers, musicians – i.e., the creators.  After spending time with like minded people, I often think of this passage of the Nicomachean Ethics:

Does it not follow, then, that, as for lovers the sight of the beloved is the thing they love most, and they prefer this sense to the others because on it love depends most for its being and for its origin, so for friends the most desirable thing is living together? For friendship is a partnership, and as a man is to himself, so is he to his friend; now in his own case the consciousness of his being is desirable, and so therefore is the consciousness of his friend's being, and the activity of this consciousness is produced when they live together, so that it is natural that they aim at this. And whatever existence means for each class of men, whatever it is for whose sake they value life, in that they wish to occupy themselves with their friends; and so some drink together, others dice together, others join in athletic exercises and hunting, or in the study of philosophy, each class spending their days together in whatever they love most in life; for since they wish to live with their friends, they do and share in those things which give them the sense of living together. Thus the friendship of bad men turns out an evil thing (for because of their instability they unite in bad pursuits, and besides they become evil by becoming like each other), while the friendship of good men is good, being augmented by their companionship; and they are thought to become better too by their activities and by improving each other; for from each other they take the mould of the characteristics they approve -- whence the saying 'noble deeds from noble men'.

Which occupied much of my mental musing for the ride.  Poetry is a bit odd, since it’s such a completely solitary activity, but the end of that activity (usually) is others – the audience of one or more.  I think this activity produces a kind of conviviality among poets when we’re with one another.  (Although not in society “as poets” – i.e., at readings or festivals – that’s a whole ‘nuther ball of wax, bundle of masks.)  There’s also a kind of ease to shutting social doors.  For example, I felt no awkwardness in telling the ES that I had to spend time with the books – kind of a corollary, but if I had to write, I’d have said that just the same.  So refreshing just to have her do her thing as I do mine.  Sigh.  I have no patience for the pouty or the needy or the dramatic anymore – or perhaps that would be simply be no sympathy.  Hmm. 

**

I know I mentioned daily plans in just the last post, but the remarkable thing is that I climbed without any shoulder pain today for the first time in a long time.  I’m not exactly sure how I hurt my shoulder:  I fell off a bike in the woods sometime in April/May, then over the summer there was a lot of physical labor, riding, some hijinks which certainly aggravated things (or perhaps caused, who knows?), etc.  Since the summer my shoulder has been cycling through periods of near-complete normality and glassy weakness accompanied by shooting pain.  Each time it got worse, it wasn’t quite so bad as the low point (mid August), and each time it got better it was never close to perfect  Today though it was solid, very very solid – I took an extra loop through the arboretum, just because I could.   My lungs gave out before my shoulder – which felt odd, but hey, I’m not complaining.  Must be all my clean living.  Heh. 

Back to the books! 

Another Blahish Day

As I type this the Exotic Spice is sleeping in Comrade Roommate’s old room.  She’s in town for a political demonstration.  The Third Son, alas, could not divest himself of armor and cape on such short notice – but it’s good to know he’s on the beat as usual.

I’m afraid my mood is still foul/sad, despite the lovely company.  Perhaps it’s thoughts/conversations of the election, the gray gray day in DC, the mud, the Ukrainian woman who I had a nice political conversation with and who pinned an orange ribbon on my lapel, etc.  It just seems there’s no lack of empowered myopic banality in the world – or, to cast it another way, evil.

Or it could be my brain resetting/recovering from my illness – my conversation with the Exotic Spice was rambling as hell, which is not the best sign.

I think the theme for the day is distant communication.  Recently I’ve spoken and corresponded with a lot of people – many old friends.  In general, I think things are well, that people have made good choices (Comrade Roommate in particular), and that things are going as they ought to go.  I enjoy talking with people – certainly hearing that things are good, that progress is being made.  And in theory I enjoy people knowing what’s going on with me.

Why then do I half-cringe, providing the yearly recap for people, referring others to the blog?  I’m not sure really.  Things are well enough.  Perhaps it’s that I’ve been doggedly amiable and conversationally tolerant (by design) my first semester here – with thoughts of that restraint getting retired (though who knows if that will change my behavior), it may be that my current flexibility with people smacks of some kind of capitulation, rather than of compromise.  Perhaps I’m just tired of recapping the stories and impressions, as if I’d rather say, “Sorry – this is my life.  Mine.  You don’t get to know; you don’t get to judge.”  Hmm.  I don’t quite believe that, but it’s a working theory. 

Ah.  I took Popalicious’s advice just a moment ago (speaking of theories) and it worked.  Popalicious is an actor-poet I went to grad school with – completely polished and at the same time exuberantly mired in pop-trivia.  He’d write 5 page poems to Zsa Zsa Gabor, that kind of thing.  However, he was certainly one of the most generous and thorough critiquers I’ve ever had the good fortune of working with; he had a wonderful grasp of persona and voice.  Anyway, his advice was that if you’re having a bad day, simply brush your teeth then wash your face and hands in hot then cold water.  Sounds silly, basic, Pollyannaish even – but it does work.  It will lift your mood a notch.   

Now I’m trying to figure out evening activities, drinking coffee and eating toast (with lavender honey thrown together by the Enigma last night).  Sometimes my monikers don’t work all that well, sometimes they do.  The Enigma remains almost completely enigmatic though. 

Not Much of a Day

Today.  Eh.  A kind of gun-metal gray.  A four.

Nothing horrendous happened – in fact, I took a splendid jaunt through the sunny arboretum, lay down in the grass and thought, got some paper-shuffling stuff done (resume, proto-cover letter, preliminary vetting of summer internships), did my laundry, cleaned the apartment while playing the Pixies (Doolittle), heard from an old HS friend who is doing well in CA, ate plenty of Scharfenberger chocolate, received a conditional (and highly frivolous) marriage proposal from a sculptress friend, and did a tarot reading for a recurring question of mine, which, in this case, came out very well and makes sense given recent developments – time changes things. 

Tomorrow The Enigma might be returning, which would be a very good thing and would certainly lift my mood.  I’ve sorely missed our excursions.  We have a tentative plan to trade her kick-ass Baba Ganoush recipe (with training) for some of my esoteric knowledge.  On a side note I haven’t found any use for my stone-wall making skills.  Perhaps 5 years from now or so. 

Also, on this, the seventh day of my flu, I think it’s pretty much done and over with.

Still, today. . .blah.  A four.   I have these days sometimes.  Two big factors – no people, no muse.  The non-people thing (a result of my monkish tendencies) isn’t so bad when the muse is around.  The muse and I had a good time yesterday, but we’re clearly not on the same page today.   I need to sit down a bit and listen to whatever she’s trying to tell me.  Per the reading above, if there’s one thing the muse has taught me over the years is that you can’t force ripeness.
I think also my day has been colored by my disappointment with the recent behavior of a number of people – nothing thus far about these specific situations on the blog.  From a ruthless angle, I shouldn’t be bothered by watching people spin their wheels, and in a way I’m not.  However, problems are almost never limited to discrete circumstances, so I would like to unobtrusively throw some sand down to give these people some traction, but often that’s just not possible, which is disheartening.   Or perhaps it’s disheartening that I’m not clever enough to come up with something.   Or perhaps I'm just hitting that point where I'm sick of the bullshit and will cut people loose - as I'd written in an earlier post, I'm pretty flexible, but when those hard and fast lines surface just ahead they're always a bit surprising to see, a bit depressing to make note of, since they normally mean, "well, no more chances for you."  And *that* means I've drastically misjudged someone, which, while not an unheard of thing, still makes me irritated (at myself) and somewhat blue. 

In a related note, I was given a New Year’s resolution by a friend (that’s always the best way) – I’m supposed to temper my criticism, actually the phrase was “try not to eat people alive.”  I think I’ve been pretty good about that this past year, but it’s still something to watch for.  I still get to eat poems alive though.  That’s one of my jobs.

Had You Been Here Today

We would have slept in.  I’d have made you pancakes and coffee (and oranges) and then I’d have lent you Hush, a jacket, a bag, some leggings, an extra set of gloves.  I’d have put away my sharkish tendencies for the day and matched my pace to yours.  We’d have ridden about the city, and done a few errands, including stopping at a bike shop for new whisper quiet pads for Hush (she loves them).  You would have been amused at the Tech Guy’s flattery.  Not directed at me of course – you’ve known for a long while how I dislike flattery as opposed to assessments.  However, when compliments are given to those whom I love, or to what I love (as in Hush) it’s another matter all together.  I’d have flashed my pleased and amused smirk at you when Tech Guy guessed Hush’s age, complimented her geometry, mourned the passing of her generation of reliable and accessible road-bikes, then, without any label to guide him, figured out she’s sporting relatively new Trek wheels.  After we left, I’d have shown you the Cathedral and some out of the way DC sites, and we could have amused ourselves by taking snapshots of them and the locals in action.

We’d end the bike tour at the Smithsonian, for the last day of an absolutely stunning Japanese woodblock print exhibit at the Sackler Gallery, plus the usual treasures.  Exhausted by the number of great pieces concentrated in such a tiny area, we’d have gotten a coffee from a vendor on the mall and sat on a bench while the sky got darker and grayer.  People nearby would have been talking about politics, society, all the good stuff – but we’d have just listened, attempted to find the common pulse of the various conversations, that secret word all crowds combine to chant. 

Back at my place, you could have showered while I cooked you salmon with (you suspect) chiles and tomatoes and a few things you couldn’t quite place (but as is the prerogative of the jazz cook, I’d have refused to divulge further information).  I’d have  retired for a bit to write a poem, leaving you to amuse yourself with some Merlot, a book of poetry I could have lent you, or whatever business you yourself had to attend to.  And then it would be night.  Or at least the evening, which would be another equally unwritten story, but not one I could write based on my own activities for the day.

Below is Night Snow by Ito Shinsui (1898-1972):

Woodblock

Doins

Well, at the turn of the new year there aren’t many changes for the Scoplaw to make, beyond those I’d have resolved to make anyway at the change of a season or something of the sort.

DHOB and I hung out last night, had dinner, drank wine and speculated on many things.  It seems everyone is talking about marriage and children these days.  Over the holidays the relatives encouraged me to mate and breed.  I told them I already had some love children in Mexico and would send them their address.  Actually they weren’t even love children, I’m sad to say, more like “terribly bored and lonely and drunk” children.  Poor kids.  I highly recommend using this story for those of you faced with this conversation – it’s a very effective way of shutting it down.

As DHOB and I are both “non-trads” here, it’s always good to talk with her – with someone who has simply had to live on their own, outside the structure of higher education, or the immediate beckoning of it in 3 months, 1 year, etc.  It’s not that I don’t think my classmates aren’t frightfully sharp, witty, intelligent, etc., but there’s a lot to learn in the absence of structure and the siren-like possibilities that structure offers.  In my case, there was a lot to be learned in living below the poverty line for years, from falling below the “usual” expectations of society that people assume the poor actually enjoy – say the ability to buy a new toothbrush without sinking yourself that much further into debt, the ability to visit friends who live an hours drive away and simply have lunch with them without worrying about consequences, the ability to become sick without worrying that there is no recourse for you.  If anyone believes the system, or, I should say, the interlocking systems, aren’t there to crush your spirit, to deprive you of your autonomy, to pressure you into specific political and social choices, they’re just in some kind of illusory world.  It’s still dangerous and risky to be edgy outside the small safe communities, or the established conventions of rebelliousness.  It still shocks me that people don’t realize these things.

I also chatted with The Yew last night (Hello Yew! – You can post to the blog, ya know, you won’t break it!) – another non-trad poet type getting her MA out in the Midwest.  The Yew is one of the few growing poets who has an ear and loves her words.  Well, all actual poets have ears and love their words, so let’s just say she’s one of the few younger poets from among the many who aspire to write poetry.  (In the past 3 years, let’s say 50 out of the 2000 or so I’ve read?) The Yew was surprised when one of the local poets took a shine to her – but I wasn’t;  you can’t hide the ear – it draws us to each other.

To really be a fully-balanced poet, I think there are some skills you have to master.  Of those skills the ear is the most difficult one to learn; it’s also the most subtle of the skills, as when property employed it should be almost completely transparent, as much a vehicle as the poem itself is.  Perhaps the difficulty in learning it is that you must accept that the ear is a subjective thing – while it could in some ways be mapped and quantified, it’s not something that’s immediately apparent to the layman, and hence, the layman becomes suspicious of its existence. 

On a parallel note, I’d say the great failure of the fetishists-of-form is their inability to render form organically via the ear, or, from another perspective, to integrate the form into the poem (they’re always trying to make poems in form – but every poem has its own perfect form.)    It’s like watching people who have studied dance, but never actually danced, taking themselves to the floor:  “Charles – what’s this?”  “Why Jonathan, I believe it’s funk!”  “I’ve made a study of the great funk dancers Charles – we ought to move our feet something like *this*.”  Yeah.  Disaster. 

There are a number of contemporary schools which completely discount the ear – and it’s remarkable how well Coleridge’s dictum holds true: that the poetry we return to claims the title of *essential* poetry.  Who reads the poems of these schools 5 years after?  Their primary quality of intriguing strangeness (as opposed to, say, genuine Rilkian mystery) is generally absorbed and understood (even as mere impenetrableness) on the first or second reading – which gives much of the writing a kind of frantic, scrambling after novelty quality. 

Poetry, in all its modes, has always been the marriage of sound and sense (tempered by emotion), although at the edges you’ll have some which are more one than the other, which are so possessed of the elusive quality of the poetic that they stand on their own.  But it’s easy to cross the line where the balance is lost.  If you read Hart Crane and Dylan Thomas aloud you can actually chart the places in the poems where they lose that balance, where they cross over the line.  A poet must always fight their strengths.  Of course, as an Oral/Auralist, Crane and Thomas are my fathers, and my genealogy runs back through Whitman and Yeats.  Granted, I’ve broken with my teachers and hold opinions that they themselves would not fully endorse – but such is the way of things, eh?

**

Today – polishing a few minor lyrics, trying to thresh my way through my large beast of a poem (it’s so difficult, perhaps pointless, and I should be spending my time and efforts elsewhere, but I won’t give it up – I refuse to), and mundane housekeeping chores.  Perhaps a 3peep New Years celebration – we’ll see.

Relativity

Well, I feel much better today – this morning I took Lumina out for groceries and a few sundries I had forgotten to bring back from CT with me.  Although my thinking is much clearer today, I think my judgment is still a bit fuzzy, based on my supermarket purchases. 

Also, the air seemed outrageously warm (and it was at 46 degrees), and I seemed outrageously fast (compared to my lumbering along on The Green Monster).  I missed Lumina; we’re a good pair for this city.   I had left CT after a week there, which I thought at the time might be a hair early, but now think was a hair late.  Stuff started boiling out of the seams towards the end, as it usually will do.  I still just can’t figure out people who try to manipulate you by lying to you or withholding information from you – it all comes out, always. 

Even so, the final 12 hours or so were pretty damn good – much better than I expected them to be, and that time makes me feel. . .well, not precisely happy, but good, adult.  Things work out as they should.  It’s a difficult emotion to describe, and I put it down in the blog (sans detail) more for myself than others. 

I also got to see El Gato Perfecto – still svelte and deadly to all small twitching things – birds, mice, waggling fingers.  I wonder if cats see time as humans see time – or if time moves faster or slower for them.  How long does it seem to her that I’ve been away?  I realize my subjective sense of time has been running differently than my friends – many of whom do “time-killing” activities.  Imagine!  Seriously – time does seem to flow much more slowly when you have to be awake and thinking at a relatively brisk pace, every day for most of the day, for 3.5 months.  In one sense it’s kind of a blur, but I feel like I’ve been at Georgetown for several years. 

Tonight I think I'll stagger out and try to cause some trouble - perhaps with proto-Abe, perhaps with Drums Her Own Beat.  We'll see.  Right now: Clash, tea, shower and sideburn divestiture in preparation for the new semester.  Song for the day (bicycling and research) is either Train in Vain or I Fought the Law; I can’t quite decide.

Brilliant bright spot in my day – a holiday card from Poet with the Plan and her husband!  Haven’t heard from them in 2 years, and they randomly found me.  How’d she get my mailing address?  PwP and I were in grad school together and taught classes in a second chance High School.  PwP was so much fun to work alongside.  She always had everything planned out (hence the name) and was a great foil to my go-it-cold approach, which I think has its benefits.  Her hubby and she were dating back then – he does things with lasers, but should be headed back to grad school soon (or at least that was the plan when last we spoke).  Unf. I couldn’t make it to the wedding (illness, poverty).  Wish I’d gotten the card before I left as it looks like they’re within an easy drive of one set of parents. 

What the Hell was That?

OK – yesterday I got back home to DC.  I had sniffles on the bus, but chalked that up to allergies or something, perhaps a small cold.  I really felt fine though.  So I check in, unpack, make myself dinner, then sit down with every intention of getting some work done (research, some writing), but, like someone threw a switch, my nose immediately blocks up and my head starts pounding.  I mean the kind of pounding where when your hair brushes your collar you think you’re going to vomit.  I collapsed into bed.  Then, starting at around 6pm I proceed to get all the usual horrible flu symptoms which became full blown in just under an hour.  It was the kind of thing where you’re so sick your ankles hurt, your teeth hurt.  I was all glassy and unable to think clearly – I got to the point where I had trouble opening a bottle of cold medication and was seriously thinking about taking a walk to clear my head and try to work out my cramping legs at 4am.  I must have woken up 10 times last night and I stayed in this completely-out-of-it state until 1pm today when I got up, took a shower, then went for a walk to get more cold medicine and some odds and ends from the store.  Now I feel almost normal, as though everything kind of drained out of me in an hour (again).

I mean, I know I’m still sick, I know I'm still not thinking entirely clearly, but now it only seems like I have a minor cold.  I have no idea what that was.  If that had happened a single hour or more earlier, I’d have been completely screwed.  So that’s something. 

Apologies to all for lack of correspondence.  I’m going to go with the tea/blanket/novel plan for the rest of today. 

 

Reprise in Snow

Yeah, that’d be cold.

Last night I hooked up with H, CC, The Historian and T-Rex.  Elegante was supposed to show but was involved in a low impact car accident and decided discretion was the better part of valor.   Her presence was missed and while we offered to trek to her, she decided she was just going to chill with Isis, and not tempt fate further.  So, the 5 of us hit a few bars, shot some pool, and generally all relaxed – not that yesterday wasn’t particularly relaxed, but that second evening chill is a good thing, especially since we’re not hanging on New Year's this time around.  (CC’s jetting to FL, The Historian to VA, E to NYC, and Rex to WA.  I’ll be splitting to DC tomorrow.)  Since we’re all mobile travelers, we were in dressed in a bevy of old cold gear that had been mothballed in state, driving borrowed cars, staying with relatives or friends. . .and, like old times, we were all due to escape. 

No one was out due to the snowstorm (cold!) and we had the town pretty much to ourselves.  There were some winter driving moments, but all turned out well.  Rex, as usual, kept encouraging trouble – “Drive faster CC – I want a 30 foot skid into the next light!”  There were also some classic lines last night – Rex was saying something about an old classmate of ours and summed it up with: “So she blew town, got educated, and does what she wants to do in a real city.  Yeah. . .  Success.  Yeah.”  Which pretty much applies to all of us except for H (who is still in town).  Naturally all heads turned to H, sometime around that first “Yeah” and H began protesting, “Hey, there’s a lot of stuff I like about our town!”

Today I took the bike, did some errands and went for a trail ride – my last ride on the trail for probably 5 months.  Due to the snowstorm, it was covered in 3 inches of pristine powder, which made it (except in places where skis and feet had packed the snow down) pretty much like riding on the dry trail.  So in my time here, I’ve done 4 trail rides – one over packed snow and ice everywhere, one on a warmish clear and very muddy trail with not a single icicle in sight, one on a clear, dry, gray and very cold trail, and this morning’s sunny powder run.  Welcome back to New England Mr. Scoplaw. 

Rex protests her innocence:

Dsc01874




CC and the Historian:

Dsc01878

A Pause or Not?

Well, it’s been a busy time. 

T-Rex *and* The Historian *and* Catholic Chaos were in last night.  I spent the evening (till 4:30am) with them, plus H and Elegante.  Ah – so nice.  T-Rex might be familiar to older readers of the blog – she’s my tough-ass friend who is faster than I.  The Historian is an old friend from HS/College, who is one of the more intelligent and witty men I know.  I’ll gladly surrender some areas of expertise to others when in groups – cooking, social patterning, what have you.  I think poetry is the one thing I don’t ever give over.  Anyway – The Historian is one of those guys who is supremely politically informed, who is always cracking Rove jokes.  He’s a history professor out in the mid-west; it’s a true pleasure to just listen to him set the tone and pace.  Catholic Chaos works for a large company and lives out in San Francisco now, but was a summer drinking buddy of mine and quite tight with The Historian and T-Rex.  CC and I would now and then close ranks against the rest of the crew over particular points, even though we’re the furthest in the orbit from each other – last night good to see us still at our old tricks. 

Well, more in a bit; to begin at the beginning, after a late late night of depressing but necessary personal business, I took a 9am bike ride up the trail with H, who decided to whine to me the whole time.  H is an impressive whiner, but at least she knows she’s doing it and will listen when you tell her she needs to shut up.  On the trail, I was stopped by a woman, who was despondently looking for her two-days lost dog, Henry, on the trail.  Man – it breaks your heart.  She just wanted him found, not so much even returned to her alive. 

After that I was driven north to the family, which went well enough.  I saw my step-siblings, whom I really like but never see.  Hell, I never see my brothers either – separate lives, which are going well for them, but which I, by mutual choice, am not really a part of.  There are always hidden costs. 

By the time I touched back in town I was ready to head south to DC again.  I think I’m pretty much tapped out.  Things in general here have certainly been as stressful as the last weeks of classes.  Or perhaps I carry it with me, or perhaps it’s a different kind of stress which I’m not quite balanced enough to let flow around me.  There are points during the days where I feel totally fine – completely relaxed, the past and future balanced through the moment, then there are other times where I realize I’m in danger of putting my nails through my palm, and I have to pause and let out a long shaky breath and unclench the fist.  See – the odd thing is that I have little or no expectancy.  I don’t think anything in particular should or ought to happen, and I know people have their own problems to work out.  But there’s just this body-felt reaction, like you’re seeing people you love reach for a broken glass, or as though you need to lie along to let people do what they need to in order to keep themselves going.  It’s probably more grounded in fear than anything else. 

I walked to T-Rex’s house (short walk) and said “Hi” to her family, including her aged grandmother who still does not speak English, and who still refers to all of T-Rex’s friends by monikers.  I am still “the surprising bearded man.”  T-Rex popped out, gave me a hug, and, as I rested my chin on the top of her head, asked how many people wanted to kill me.  I told her I thought it was down to 4 or so, and she informed me that I must be getting slow and old. 

Last night, in the course of our conversation, T-Rex and I resurrected an old and more than half-self-mocking phrase – “But *I* see it so clearly!”  Self mocking because there are certainly things about ourselves we don’t see, for the understanding of which we rely on the perspectives of those we love to illuminate.  But only half because of that.  I remember T-Rex took me aside one summer and said, “Dude – you must stop doing X.  You don’t even know you’re doing it, but you’ve got to stop it.  I can see very clearly where it’s going, and it’s going noplace good.”  I did, and years later I can say she was totally right.  But few people let others make these calls for them.  Few people are also willing to risk alienating others by making those calls.  Personally I think that if you choose the gloss of social form over substance, it pretty much says all you need to know about that relationship.         

My heart’s oddly raw and not, but at least I have the balm of old friends.  T-Rex’s had a rough, rough year, which prompted our phrase resurrection activities.  Shit.  I think I’ve had a bad year – and, let’s face it, 03 was a totally fucking crappy.  I had my heart handed to me on a platter, I strove in an area outside my normal sphere, nearly everything in my life changed and for it I was largely alone, am largely alone.  Yet at the end it was not nearly quite as bad as T-Rex’s year.  She lost her house, a lover of 4 years (who decided she was bored and walked out on le Rex), a friend to death, her possessions to robbers, her car to a careless driver.  Christ.  But she’s still the Rex, jabbing her finger in my chest to emphasize points.  I missed this girl, her resilience.  The Rex and I have a similar philosophy of cutting losses, which, being the people we are, we never manage to completely cut, to totally eradicate – at least for the deep old things.  So we’re kind of practically cold and pointlessly sentimental by turns – as are many of us.   

Last night, laughing over wine, she dragged out an old soap opera plot she’d written as a joke which starred me and the The Strider. We talked about a lot of things, including class and race.  I’m more of a classist, whereas T-Rex (among other things) runs classes on institutionalized racism.  Elegante held forth on death, and CC displayed strong opinions on pig farming.  There was also an hysterical conversation about masturbation during which The Historian and I crossed the gender line and provided male-behavior translation services to the great amusement of all.

So- why did I let these friendships lapse, you may ask?  Geography, poverty, letting people go their own way, and largely, because I thought I found someone with whom I could spend my life.  Yeah.  If the Rex were anywhere near where I was, geographically, she’d be either terribly unhappy or long dead.  In many ways I haven’t let these friendships lapse, which is difficult to explain to those who need *presence* or they lose faith in people, lose the shared facts and stories of the past, the kind of secret sneaky joy of seeing people you love sprint off into the world and do well.

Second bottle clinking point endorsed by all the salty old dogs – if people do learn something from being absent from you, they’ll usually put that into practice in an area (or with someone) that has nothing to do with you.  Yes – this sucks.  But wish them well, what else is there to do.

**

Now – some trail riding to burn the body clean, and some musing.  Hmm.  I was tasked by a 3peep with a question – am I as generous with myself as I am with others?   Still working on the implications of this. 

Perhaps I’ll find Henry. 

Perceptions

Hmm.  Odd.  I busted out the trail this AM as H lay abed.  Due to torrential rain last night (in which I ran randomly into a fellow GULCer – a 3peep to be precise), the snow is largely gone and the trail mostly dry (except a few almost washed out bits by the trout stream.)  Given my showing yesterday, I was worried that I had lost several steps in D.C. – however, I did the trail in record time.   If not the fastest, it was one of the fastest rides I’d done.  However, I was sure it was slow until I checked my watch at the end of the ride.  Lumina has altered my feeling of fast and slow relative to the trail. 

I stopped for milk and eggs on the way back and the shoppers were a bit taken aback to see a bicyclist in their midst, esp. a cold and muddy Scoplaw.  I think I’ve been creating odd and random projections this break.  At H’s kid’s concert I was approached by one of her peers who chatted with me.  She gave me the once over, taking in faded greatcoat, boots, studded belt, stubble, sideburns, earring, erratic hair, and said, “Erm, you’re the one that’s. . .in DC right now?”  Not “going to law school,” but “in DC right now.”  Hysterical.  I said, “Yes, I’m afraid I left my briefcase out in the car.”  She fidgeted and I turned and spent a good while talking to one of the other kid’s parents.  Later, this peer confided in H that she was certain I was gay.  The conceit of some people – X isn’t interested in talking to me or looking at my tits; gosh, they must be gay, that’s the only way to explain his reaction as it could never be that I’m dim, dull, and judgmental.  Actually, I enjoy dressing/acting moderately randomly in many situations – it tends to sift out the truly interesting people from those with strong social blinders. 

Speaking of blinders, H’s mom will be coming by today or tomorrow, which will be fun.  H’s mom has known me long enough not to be thrown by appearances, which, I think, is how it ought to be.  Meaning that she’s seen me in both suit and tie mode, and slovenly artist mode, but she knows who I am (which is truly neither of these things alone and to the exclusion of others.)  H’s mom actually enjoys puling the other string when I see her socially.  If I’m dressed up, it’s usually conversations (with others who don’t know me) about odd and unusual (risqué) subjects, when dressed down, we seem to end up talking about real estate or politics or law.

So – question from a random e-mailer; why am I not dating/married to H?  Beyond the fact that H is a dog person and I’m a cat person, we have glaring personality and philosophical differences.  H thinks I make foul and overly strong coffee.  I think H is overly slow and deliberate about things (shopping, cooking, clothing selection).  I think H tries to force things too much, she thinks I let things happen around me that I could shape more.  H prefers symmetry in music and art, while I enjoy ordered asymmetry.  H would rather bend others to her will via her charm and force of personality, whereas I would rather dance myself around things and have none be the wiser.  H gets (plays) ska, but not punk (how is this possible?).  Our areas of patience/impatience are pretty much polar opposites.  H is a hedgehog, I am a fox.  H is moderately flexible all the way down, whereas I am very flexible (to the point of annoyingness) and then have points which I don’t compromise on.  H is cautious with strangers, I’ll talk to anyone because I have no qualms about walking away.  H needs to know everything about individual people and is gappy with the world.  I prefer letting people have their secrets but like to be wide-eyed about patterns and types and processes.  H would throw a drunken tantrum, but I never would.  I’d let someone burn, but H never would.  H is jazz, I am poetry. 

However, we do know each other very well (strengths and flaws), and don’t judge each other harshly.  Last night as we were moving stuff around her house, she asked me about this one social situation – “Whatever happened with X?”  And I responded with, “Oh, they said blah blah blah to me in casual conversation.”  Which is sort of funny as blah blah blah really is, more or less, blah blah blah;  however in this case it pushed one of my few buttons (I have big big issues with coercion, esp. emotional coercion, as I think that largely one ought to treat people as free humans who are capable of making their own decisions about their lives.)  H just started laughing, “They said *what*?  Shit man, even *I’d* never say that to you!”

The Tale of the Ice-Box and the Rainbow

Began many many years ago and continued last night.  First, the Scoplaw attended a concert by H’s students in a neighboring town.  The concert had been rescheduled following snow, so the tech guy accidentally bailed on the production.  I was innocently hauling half of a tympani up onto the stage when H appeared at my elbow.   “Hey – wanna run lights?”  This elected a nervous “sure” from the Scoplaw since I hadn’t run a lightboard in oh, a decade or so.   But it all went well – some tinkering, setting groups for the faders and, ta da, stage lights. 

Danger Grove bailed on the evening, so after the concert (and cookies) H and I took off for Middletown in an effort to meet up with the Trombone Player and Elegante.  H, E, and I had Mexican, then jetted south to New Haven in an effort to meet TP in a bar. (And I mean jetted – E is one of the fastest drivers I’ve ever been with, which is really saying something).  Alas, as we were pulling up to the bar, we got a call – TP was lost just north of Middletown, but felt he could find his way back to New Haven.  So we chilled at the bar, met some odd and interesting locals (kids mostly) and toasted the TPs arrival.  24 hours after my arrival I finally started to feel chill and law school took a proper distance in my mind.

When the bar closed the four of us relocated to an after-party where the most interesting of the locals were.  E was at her ice-queeniest, and I played the usual quiet yet mercurial foil from the old days.  H and TP jetted and E and I stayed to polish off the last of the beer, make mischief, and listen to the party-guy spin.  I must say, over the entire course of the evening, we behaved very badly – certainly we were also reckless.  I’d even say we were flat out dangerous.  All in all it was great fun. 

I crashed at E’s – well sort of.  We pushed through till dawn with our usual kind of fencing conversation which covered issues of fate, chi, dreams, nightmares, the badlands, hydration, L.A., Fox News, sexual harassment, C.T., marriage, babies, growing old, and that odd state of keeping people who passionately love you (eros) at arm’s length for varied and sundry reasons.   I also got the E version of a lot of old stories, which were not quite eye-opening, per se, but did confirm a number of suspicions I’ve harbored.  When I started graying out at 6:30, E started singing, as she does, to keep herself and those around her awake.  About the only thing missing from the old days was the fact that we didn’t have to be jaunting or mobile.

As with Gabriel and FunkyMike, and with T-Rex, I am so happy that E remains essentially E.  There’s something about the stability of people in themselves that’s uplifting, especially when those people have great character (or are great characters).  This might seem by now a perennial theme, given my handful of reunions in the past 6 months, but I’m aware of those many that have simply flaked out entirely, sold out, bought into crap philosophies, or have functionally structured themselves past healing.  It’s especially good, even though we met up more or less neutrally over the summer, to spend time with E doing what we normally did, but, of course, different.   In fact, it’s particularly good to see E on her feet as E, because we have oddly similar burdens – at times I wonder how far either of us has actually come with them. 

E and Isis:

Dsc01816

Awake! Awake! Awake!

Well, best laid plans and all that – Freya conked out, but I think she’s fixable with a jump.  No cables though, so I’ll have to wait for DangerGrove to make her appearance.  Many plans turn on Freya. 

Part of me really likes traveling, but part of me does not like arriving in a destination where you rely on other people for shelter.  (Speaking of which a fond, “Hello!” to The Enigma, who is in Japan at the moment.)  There are only a few places where I’m comfortable crashing out – oddly enough, roadside is one of them.  There’s El Luz and Poetry Socialite in Atlanta, a few Athenian peeps, Former Cop, the Grandparents, H’s, and a few other odds and ends.  But that’s it really.  There are others I haven’t yet stayed with that I suspect I’d be comfortable with, but H and I have known each other for, oh, 20 years now?  There’s a lot of water under the bridge.   

However, H is having another houseguest later in Dec. and I’m determined not to be the 3rd wheel, even though I’ve been told (repeatedly) that I can stay in the (freshly finished) basement.  I think I’ve been asked often enough so that I’ll try to stay nearby for a bit, just to be within a quick walk/drive.  It’ll be interesting to meet this guy.  He’s actually a man.  So many of my female friends are interested in boys (Elegante is notorious in this regard).  I’m sure there’s a lot of psychological stuff that can be dished about, but eh, they’re my friends.  We all have our quirks.  No word yet on T-Rex, which means I may have to endure the circle of ex-girlfriends without my staunchest ex/ally.  Not that it will require all that much enduring (in fact it’s sort of funny how everyone has pegged my expected reactions just plain incorrectly) – I just want to see T-Rex.  (The Rex in her glory days made Tank Girl look like a wus.)  Oh well.  Nothing to fret over; I just have to watch where I put my feet in the dance. 

Today I decided to take The Green Monster and bike about – this would be one of the mountain bikes I built for H.  It’s really odd after riding Lumina – as though the road were covered in flypaper or something.  Still, TGM has full suspension and a good range of gears for this kind of terrain.  I may try to do the trail on her in a bit.  Now that’s a though.  I haven’t been snowriding yet this season.  Indeed. . . I shall head out and report back later.  Ah - random blogging is such fun.

Anyway, I think I’d have looked just dashing in freckles.  The reason I know this is because my face is dotted with reddish road slime (excepting the sunglasses area) so I’m looking about 14x more Irish than usual.  Call me crazy, but there’s nothing sexier than a woman with freckles.  Well. . .OK, I lie.  But they’re still pretty damn sexy. 

I feel completely awake, ready to get on with it.  If only I knew what “it” was.  Perhaps the muse will visit.  If not, I suspect H and Danger Grove will be up for some kind of escapade tonight. 

Various Kinds of Sweetness

Well, as far as Bus Precommitment went, I decided to re-read Seidman’s article on the 2000 election – an odd kind of tension in that work, with his usual dancing out of reach prose style (sometimes you get the feeling that he’s just toying with the reader) coupled with what’s obviously a deep engagement on his part, plus the usual fury the whole debacle arouses in me.  It still irks me that the Clinton election plan would have worked for the Dems.  Anyway.

Sweetness – I’m back in the land of ice and snow, and there’s this subtle NE pride thing going on.  The bus driver was kind of glowing as he read the various points north on the schedule.  When we ran late (accident outside of Waterbury) he called ahead and convinced one of “his brothers” to hold a bus for longer than usual to spare his connecting passengers a 2 hour wait in Hartford.  When we got out of the bus, some had to switch their luggage quickly to the transfer bus, and the luggage bay was fronted by a puddle of slush – where to put the luggage that was going to stay on this bus as we took out the terminal/connecting passengers stuff?  5 second pause – then one enterprising woman called out, “Form a chain!” and 6 of us passed the entire bay out to the dry sidewalk, then passed the bags back once the hurried connecting travelers had claimed their bags.  I’m sure we broke union rules, but who gives a shit – the job got done.  I thought, “Ah, I’m home.” 

Sweetness – The Scopmobile, a.k.a. Freya started right up this morning, under her shell of snow and despite being inactive since Columbus Day.  I’m letting her charge up for about an hour and thought I’d do a quick blog.  Which means all of NE is open to me.  Yea!  Insurance has been switched about and I’m ready to go after I attend to some snowtires.  It’s all about control – over the road, one’s self’s location and time.  When events are truly outside of my control, that’s fine, but I chafe at the bit if there’s something I *could* have done but did not.  When you have a family that’s as scattered and as quirky as mine is, it’s good to be able to come and do without 20 mile hikes in the snow.

Other sweetness – no trouble with the bus and I did my famous 1 bag 2 week pack (which included the computer for studying and other purposes.  I could have walked from Hartford to Manchester (and perhaps should have – I feel a bit sluggish) but my 4th ride option came through.  So things worked out well, and the backup plan was intact and viable.  Actually, I think I’ll walk today to pick up the insurance cards.

Tonight DangerGrove (formerly NutritionistJ, but I never liked that name for her and so figured I’d go with what we all call her in real life – seriously, she is “Danger Grove” [long story]), and I will go see H’s students perform a Holiday concert.  Which is always fun.  I’ll get to hang out with my small circle of educator/musician peeps. 

H’s house is being redone so I’m no longer in the basement – instead, I’m camped out in the living room next to the fireplace – fireplace – yea!   I see smores in my future.  I think the contractor will be done soon, so I can help H move all her shit about in preparation for the holidays.  Apparently a recording studio is going in downstairs.  I’m salivating.  Salivating.  Last night, H and I killed some wine and talked and played with her cats. 

This AM I’m cleaning up a bit here (dishes, etc) and drinking strong coffee whilst listening to some old music.  I’m sliding all over the place (hardwood floors) in toesocks and silk pajamas.  Oh, life is good.   I think I scared the shit out of contractor guy – my hair is standing almost straight out from my head and I haven’t shaved in several days.  Couple that with the bright green pjs and orange toesocks. . .  Ah well, the cats still love me.

Cold

Yikes.  It’s 23 here, with the windchill pushing it down to 8.  So what’s a scoplaw to do but go biking?  I left the Sherpas at the base of Columbia Heights and trekked upward to visit a friend and retrieve a camera.  I had let some air out of Lumina’s tires before the run, so she was pneumatically smooth – she was also a bit slower than usual, which really does not matter once the cold drops below a certain point.  It’s not like you need that extra 1-2 mph. 

I spent the morning making the rounds at various offices doing things like trying to figure out why my grad degree wasn’t on my transcript.  Tonight will be full of housekeeping activities like laundry and website maintenance and such – while that sounds completely trivial (and is, let’s face it) it’s nice to make a quick tour through your stuff every so often and put it in order, as it makes for fewer things to worry about later once the clock is again ticking.

Precommitment issue: do I take only Emanuels with me on the bus tomorrow, knowing that I’ll get bored (8hr trip) and be forced to read it, cementing some things more firmly in my brain and laying the ground for second semester stuff, or should I take Emerson and Lorca?  I mean, it’s highly unlikely I’ll read Emanuels without precommitting myself to no other choice on the bus.  I wonder though, it that the key to precommitment – not that we decide to do something at a future date, but to effectively bind ourselves into that decision by removing all other possibilities, or at least by making those possibilities so costly we won’t exercise them?

It’s the Simple Things Really

Today – AM ride in light rain which my expensive cycling jacket just started to absorb instead of turn (ACK!!).  Apart from that, splendid though.  Tonight DC should get snow, and I might hit the road either tomorrow or the day after (depends on some sword-of-Damocles financial aid stuff – one of the non-blawgable sagas).  Right now, it’s the usual pattern of stretching, market-bagel, coffee, and roaming the internet for a bit whilst bouncing about my apartment in spandex and a big fuzzy shirt to horribly dated music – in this case the wonderfully irreverent “The Queers.”  How does one argue with three bratty punk-rockers covering Beach Boys tunes?  The windows media player blurb describes their ’96 album, “Don’t Back Down,” as “the best late-70s-era Ramones album the Ramones never recorded.”  I’m happy – all I’m missing is my cat complaining to me about her trying life.  Sigh.

Later there will doubtless be poetry because I have 4/5 lines floating about in my head, trying to get out.  Sometimes these proto-poems form the heart of an actual poem, sometimes they’re discardable scaffolding, sometimes they’re not even that.  But you never know until you begin to shape them.  Maybe I’ll try to do this one entirely in my head – the working surface in there is less cluttered than it’s been in awhile.

So here’s my thought/question/wrangling issue for the morning – “true love.”  Some people believe in it, some don’t.  I’m no longer sure what I believe, although if you had asked me at various points in my life, I would have given definitive responses, both yes and no.  Do you believe there is “one” out there for you?  And if so, how would you know that person, ex ante?  Could you fuck it up, or is that basically not possible short of a monstrous act of will?  Could you know and could they not know?  Vice versa?  What’s the chances of being mistaken?   Or is love something that you make, shape, craft – that there are a number of people out there in the world who could be “perfect” for you, provided you both want to make that happen?   (So tempted to cast this in Kantian and Utilitarian perspectives for my 3peeps.  Heh.)

Anyway, I’m curious to know what people think about this – write me if you’d like to share. 

Anthropropulsion

Lumina and I dashed about town today, running market errands and visiting friends at an afternoon housewarming party which (key element) featured cool non-law student types.  However, many of my fav. Section 3 peeps were in attendance and I’d have gone just to see them.  I keep wishing I had more time to spend with people – some whom I’ve just recently “met” (i.e., started talking with).  Ah, such a nice day - we had beautiful weather and I didn’t have to wear leggings or a jacket.  At the party I ate stuffed grape leaves and swung on a swing in late afternoon light with an interesting girl.  There are far worse ways to spend your day.

Law has consumed a lot of my brain with odd effects: my riding (at least today) is definitely sloppier, stupider, timider, while the poetry has drifted into a weird aesthetic argument with myself.  The last one was a revision of a poem I’d been kicking about for awhile – basically I wanted to break a bunch of rules.  I started another one where I was doing the same thing but abandoned it as a pointless exercise.  Hmm.  I’m not really worried about either the riding or the poetry I guess.  It’s just interesting to note small changes.

Another odd thing of note: the weakest link in the study equation is my eyes.  They go first - the body and the brain are currently exceeding them.  Twice this evening I just had to lie down with my eyes closed and review. 

On the plus side my organic study process seems to be working just fine in terms of how much effort I’m spending focusing on each class.  I’m also able to go at a good clip for a long time – without this negatively impacting my body or my moods.  I know people who are having trouble sleeping, who are experiencing heavy stress, who are just having difficulty approaching some of the material – I’m just glad I didn’t draw those cards.  Actually, all in all, I got a pretty good deal.  There’s not much that I want to do which I can’t do – there’s not much that I can’t do that I’d want to do.  Or perhaps my skills are simply predicated on my wants.  Hmm.

As Napoleon Dynamite says – Girls only want boyfriends who have great skills. You know, like nunchuck skills, bowhunting skills, computer hacking skills...

Telegram or Two

Apologies for not writing to those of you whom I should have written to.  I’m in an odd finals time warp right now.  I’m doing well enough, eating my veggies, getting sleep (oh, to whomever randomly called the apartment at 5am – please die, thank you), and attempting to chisel my notes into some useful shape.  I have free time enough to take rides, shop for food, and chat with friends.  The muse visits as is her wont and she’s pretty much her usual self (beyond her recent penchant for grapes).  Things are largely chipper, and what stress there is seems manageable – sort of a low intensity gloss over my entire life, rather than the crushing, behavior-altering presence so many people have described.

However, the “prose” part of my brain is just drained dry, and I’m afraid that precludes much blogging and most letter writing beyond short notes.  Perhaps that’s because letter writing involves sticking on topic, while blogging can be more or less random speculations.  Having gotten an e-mail about an earlier posting, I had wanted to do a further post on issues of memory, identity, and association, but that’s just not in the cards right now, beyond saying that one of the assumed arguments in the foreground is that human beings are dynamic individuals capable of change, and thus, to attempt to recreate the past is ultimately a futile effort.  I didn’t mean to imply that one should not value the past, nor discount any of its elements, good or bad, as uniquely yours, as contributing to the basic formulation of “the self”.  As a conversational side-branch to this, I have a friend who often articulates a philosophy that the worst thing in life is not pain or anguish, but rather dullness/jadedness/cynicism (though I’ve argued with him that there are few true cynics).  Pain, he holds, comes from actively engaging with life, which is predicated on the possibility of love and is activated by some kind of hope (no matter how remote).  As such, pain is far better experience to have than a kind of apathetic drifting that does not affirm your humanity, that barely affirms that you’re alive.  Smart guy.  I need to discuss this with him further.  As a sort of second conversational branch, the most fucked-up people I know were essentially wolf-children – i.e., emotionally/intellectually/physically abandoned by parents and unfortunate enough not to come up with an alternate family unit (or an inadequate one, like a shallow peer group.)  Even the abused kids were much better off.

To respond (I guess I’m not entirely dry) to a second e-mail, “the muse” is not a flesh-and-blood human to whom I look for inspiration.  The muse is, more properly “The Muse,” and wears several guises.  Mostly she visits as Erato or Euterpe, frequently as Polyhymnia, and now and again as Calliope.  Contrary to popular belief, she’s rarely enticed by wine and indeed is more likely (as the EPG and I suspect) to visit afterward (which is not precisely “in the absence of” wine).  Nor is she as jealous as she’s traditionally reputed to be – although she does demand a certain amount of time, often with little regard for “merely social” activities.  She’s never, for example, interfered with me making necessary trips to do important things.  Recently, she’s been responding to grapes - not that she hasn’t always loved grapes.  There’s not much she can’t love, in some measure, due to her nature.  But she’s nonetheless disciplined, discriminatory, very much uniquely of herself.  She’s not fond of heavy meals, nor is she particularly partial to vist  any one place or at any one time.  She’s always down with coffee though, which is good news for me.  At least once a year I get down on my knees (literally) and thank her.  It’s really the least I can do.  While I try to be tolerant, I can't understand poets who don't.  I suspect they're not really poets though.

Best to all,

Scoplaw

Many Small Things Come Together

And I’m feeling more or less locked in.  It’s been a good week of moderate solitude, law, poetry, correspondence, grapes, coco, coffee, bike rides, and interesting (although sometimes frustratingly obtuse) people.  I was particularly good at restricting my goofing-off tendencies to appropriate levels – for example, I passed picking up a translation of the Kalevala I haven’t read before.

I have to say that I’m really enjoying the company of my classmates, especially my sectionmates.  I like these people, I learn from them, I enjoy breaking my monastic life to see them, which are all good things, I think.  Also, for some odd reason, a number of my world-scattered peeps decided to call or write recently, which was unusual and uplifting.

Just to be clear, I don’t have golden-age nostalgia, that idea that things were somehow better in the past – certainly I think a number of things are better now, and I don’t think as many (nearly at all) are worse.  There *are* particular “spots in time” which I hold in my memory, moments associated with specific thoughts, emotional states, etc. – but they’re valuable to me largely because they’re impossible to re-create.  I think these moments are usually ones of pause – that the crazy nights, the gloriously reckless stuff, the “official” moments of accomplishment, etc., all fall by the wayside.  They’re fun, but they’re simply not those moments that become cemented in the memory, that gain resonance.  Think of all the “firsts” that you desperately wanted at one point, but which, for the life of you, you can’t remember in detail.  Why, for example, do I have a cemented memory of strolling down a particular street in Providence, hands in the pockets of an old blazer, going to see a woman I was deliriously in love with?  It was spring – the air smelled like spring (the warm opening spring, not the cold rain spring).  I had just finished a difficult play.  I passed under a balcony and a woman with long hair waved at me through the power lines.  The night was fairly quiet, but I could hear someone playing a Cure song.  It’s all bundled up in my brain.

Sometimes I think people mistake those moments for a particular thing – they fall in love with a city the moments took place in, or the time, or a group of friends, or a lover.  Granted, I’m in love with Providence, a small graveyard in Central Connecticut, a diner somewhere in Arizona, etc., but I don’t think that were I in these moments five minutes longer, or had returned the next day, that moment would have been five minutes longer, or recreated the next day.  Heraclitus – too many variables including time preclude this.  Parmenides – the one constant in your life is you.  Hmm.

And while I do miss some people, it’s not because I want to recreate “what was” which, often, wasn’t that great.  Rather, I’d like to meet them for dinner *tonight* to find out what they’re doing, how things are going for them, ‘praps set up a project or two.  Then there are others you vaguely wish well and hope they eventually get a clue, but are simply too much trouble/drama to bother with.  Then there’s that special third class of persons whom you wish turn up in a shallow grave somewhere.

Man.  My early-late 20s just sucked in so many ways.  My 30s, so far, have been more challenging and tempestuous (which is really saying something) but they’re so very much nicer as I feel I have my feet under me, and that a number of my long-term odd choices have paid off exactly in the ways that I wanted them to.  Perhaps the greater emotional equilibrium is simply a function of time and perspective – it’s not that you feel less (or don’t do stupid thing with those feelings) but that they seem more integrated into yourself – more spread out across your daily thoughts and doings.

Ah well, my blog break is over – time to turn to Process.

One Fixed, Two Fixed

Well, after a complimentary, meatless, and quite-filling GULC Thanksgiving day meal, courtesy the Dean, I decided to switch my optional extras over to Lumina (sorry Hush!) and thus attempt switch my rotten run of luck on the streets of DC.  Besides, fixed is for winter, silly.  Anyway, I got up early, replaced Lumina’s headset, gave her a quick clean and hit the road, doing usual sprinty loop thing that’s become my regular route to the accompaniment of the Pogues’ “If I Should Fall From Grace With God.”  All went very well (as it does more than 9 times out of 10). 

Right now I’m in the aforementioned lovely afterglow phase of hot coffee, clean and dry clothing (not so wet this morning though) and a shameless indulgence of post-ska via the Fine Young Cannibals “Move To Work,” a small paean to love in the face of economic pressure. 

So where’s the Law?  The laws is bein everywhere.  I realize that in some ways it’s the elided character of this narrative, something akin to Lear’s Wife, perhaps.  How interesting would my maundering thoughts on the law be though?  I suppose that prompts the question of how interesting my thoughts on anything are. 

Hmm.  To stick with the Bard, I suppose I’m feeling a bit like Prince Hal lately – except that my dissipated youth is bearing no useful fruit.  Which is just silly.  Last night I unbit my tongue a bit, had some fun.  The recurring subject of marriage came up, and I’m surprised at how many women here are concerned about limiting relationships so that they’re not “serious” – which I find both mercenary and amusing.  I mean, if one party (the one who wishes to limit the relationship) does not want to get married, to move in with someone, to keep on “seeing” that person, etc., well, then it just won’t happen, will it?  Nor, obviously, should it.  In many ways it seems like such a non-issue to me.  I’ve heard this sentiment a lot since I’ve been here, which again, is just confusing.  At first I thought it was a kind of discretionary thing – that people wanted “private” lovers who would not embarrass them in public so they could project an “autonomous” front, etc.  Aside from my thinking that’s essentially chickenshit, I don’t think that’s what’s going on.  It’s a mystery to me.  Desire for precommitment? 

There’s also the usual “career v. romantic relationship” balancing discussion, which, as usual, causes me to roll my eyes to an extent.  Basically I just don’t respect careerists – there’s probably a balanced person who always puts their “career” first somewhere out there in the world, but most of ‘em I’ve met are miserable, shallow, and pathetically boring human beings.  Which is not to say that I’m against people having paths, careers, commitment to some kind of ideal or service, especially those which address injustices or human suffering – that’s work, craft, and is probably a necessary component of human fulfillment, but to blindly rank one’s career first, to nearly always privilege it over matters of community, of the heart, of self-development, of understanding, of art?  Nah.  Can’t picture it working, haven’t seen a sustainable model, not even in priests.  On the other hand I don’t respect clingy people who want to find themselves through others or just hitch themselves along for the ride.  Some people can do this to an extent, but they usually have significant things cooking on the side.  But those without interests outside the relationship, without tensions, without active negotiation? 

In terms of what works, I don’t think there’s a magic formula – people are so devilishly complex, that I’m really awed by people who make a permanent and open-eyed go of it with another human – hence my great respect for The Captain and Gabriel, The Exotic Spice and The Third Son, Jackrabbit and Former Cop, and the Anesthetist and Carlito.  There are others who have a less formalized relationship who also impress me.  I think the best relationships I’ve had are with people who were simply willing to run parallel with me as we pursued our various ends.  As I mentioned earlier, it’s hard to find people who can deal with the muse. 

In some ways I think this “career v. romantic relationship” problem ties into the either/or – self-identification through a narrow and exclusionary set of "tracked" values or pursuits, i.e., the idea that there is one recognizeable thing that you ‘are’ and one thing that you ‘do’.  I’m basically an Aristotelian as far as that goes – you ‘are’ what you ‘do,’ which includes a whole bunch of “non-tracked” things like one’s penchant for toe-socks.  I don’t buy into a lot of the competitive ranking schemes that various professions set up to essentially reward an over-investment of the person in the profession. . .

I mean, let’s say I was to formally race (bicycles) and actively work the publishing path for the plays and poetry, and pursue my legal interests up the corporate ladder.  Would any of this change my bicycling times from point A to B, affect the words (and their order) I set down on the page, or my potential efficacy as an advocate in any given situation?  (Bear in mind I’m separating skills-learned from the ephemerals, from external validation.)  What happens (socially) if I were to claim competence without these external standards?  Say, offer to teach students a skill that I had never “formally” studied in an educational setting myself?  Heh.  I mean, I can make a decent mosaic, throw passable pottery, make a stone wall, and braze a bicycle together – do I need someone’s “permission” to do this?  Similarly, do I need greater societal validation of my relationships with others?  Or how I present myself to others?  Do I even need to respond to people who have characterized my interest in Public Defending as “a waste”?  Heh.  When I say that I think most people are sheep, I mean it. 

(Speaking of sheep – amazing the amount of sexist/homophobic/racist comments that float about here under the guise of good-natured-ribbing ‘mongst the white boys.  Also completely chickenshit.  Have these people never been on the outside?  Or is this just a particularly disappointing reaction to that?)

It still all boils down to - What do you want?  How will you live? 

To quote the final quatrain of Szymborska’s “The Century’s Decline” (trans. Baranczak and Cavanagh):

Again, and as ever,
as may be seen above,
the most pressing questions
are naïve ones.

Enough rambling.  To work!

Raise You One

Hannah, Tony, and some others have been photographing desks, top shelves, etc.  I thought I’d send in my “workspace” from the Law School Palace.  Actually, the bedrooms here are nice enough.  Not high on aesthetics (sorry Schopenhauer), but enough room and functionality.  At first glance it does not look like there is much LS stuff kicking about – and that’s correct – it’s all spread over my floor since my room is now on a war footing.

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(click for larger image)
Odd items to be spotted;  a flying frog: a photograph of group of pre-1960, cigarette-smoking, Tour De France riders: a Jack Gilbert broadside: Hemingway’s letterdesk: a Charles Renee MacIntosh mug: a giant porcupine quill: a glass magnifier: a four-some of swans: a gear-ring windchime (indoors for winter). 

In the gotta-have-it category, I took only poetry books that I a) always read, b) probably couldn’t easily find, c) would sustain me.  Most obviously, the Princeton is lurking above all.  Actually, two of the most useful books for my LS experience which were in the few “eh, might come in handy” category are The Little Brown Handbook, and the Dictionary of Philosophy.  I sometimes wish I’d brought my Wheellock’s Latin, but eh, that’d have been largely an exercise in time wasting.  Which I think I’ll do now for a bit before hitting the stacks of paper.  Today I’m bidding Tatterdemalion (my laptop) farewell for a bit and will be just working the paper. 

**

Oh yeah – happy Thanksgiving.  Syphilis v. Smallpox.  Who won?   

The only holiday I can really get into is Earth Day.    Maybe Arbor Day.

Uncomfortably In-Between

Is the Scoplaw referring to the line between quasi-Kantian and Rule-Utilitarian (or Act-U, even) arguments for and against the death penalty, NAMBLA, or retarded men marrying cows? 
Nope – the Scoplaw is comfortably down with all this. 

Is the Scoplaw referring to the idea that one best illuminates an issue or person from multiple perspectives, a la James’s famous analogy about the object in stage lights? 
Nope – yesterday’s news.

Perhaps then In-Between-ness is the difficulty in picking (and in choosing the strength of holding) an existential position that allows you the temporary certainty to move forward on issues or projects (like creating poetry) without too strongly dismissing other perspectives which would grant you the flexibility which is a necessary element of the creative process that allows you to adapt and evolve as a person.
Nope – see above, faith in faithlessness, tension in process, et al.

Perhaps it’s the tongue biting that comes from listening to idealistic social arguments that you’ve seen fail and fail again in the real world due to seldom-articulated counter principles – the tension between letting people figure out things for themselves and wanting to at least give them a leg up on things via your insight. 
Nope – actually, this is still somewhat of an uncomfortable in-between point, but I’m more comfortable picking my battles, more comfortable with failure.

Is it the uncomfortable sensation of not being able to figure out how much of the was resides in the is, how much of the wanted-will-be colors the is, how much of the is becomes projected into the was and wanted-will-be?
Nope – I think I have enough of a handle on that not to worry overmuch.

The line between the self and others?  Between signifier and signified?  Between coercion and autonomy?  Between people using you as a means as opposed to an end, vice versa, and your treatment of other persons in this paradigm?
Nope – not for the real world, anyway.  Some things are clear, some are indeterminate to the most informed and perceptive and neutral observer – which is just the way things are.

Actually the problem is cold sweat.  At this time of year if you shell up to cut the wind on a bike, you develop a lot of sweat, which can be counter-productive if you’re doing a lot of stop start riding.  Conversely, if you try for evaporation you can get really cold, really fast.  An uncomfortable in-between point.  And there’s just nothing I can do about it.

Acceptance is difficult - largely because this should be a solveable problem.   Would somebody clever invent a solution that does not involve moving to Arizona?  Please?

Scoplaw out.

Memo Down!

Yeah.  Let it lie there and bleed.  No medic requested.  Anyway, I realized that all I’d do is complain about it in an uninteresting way, so no blog entry on it per se.

When I was getting my MFA, a bunch of us had a tradition of the “post-mortem” which involved heading down to the Spinning Wheel, ordering Guinness and reviewing the workshop in a blow-by-blow manner.  I drifted away from that my second year – there was so much to do and I already had my 2 or 3 perfect readers.  Recently I exchanged some mail with a guy from that program, Patrick Rosal, listed to your right, with whom I wish I’d spent more time.  Mr. Rosal’s got some really good poems in his bag of tricks – regular readers are urged to check him out.

There’s something of a post-mortem tradition here, but it tends to involve some freak-out tactics by the less scrupulous individuals instead of simply exchanging information/observations.  Not games I’d like to play.  There’s one guy that’s really starting to get on my nerves.  Not that he ever says anything to me directly, and not that I don’t think that everyone does not know exactly what he’s trying to do.  Sigh.

Actually I think my patience is pretty much burnt out now-a-days – perhaps a by-product of my ramping up for the close of the semester.  Comrade Roommate says I kicked the wall a few times last night, or at least he heard a thumping from my side of the suite – I have no memory of this and my sleep patterns are just fine.  Odd.  Perhaps we’ve rats. 

I’ve been trying not to get entangled with anything this semester, either academic or personal.  My goal was to sit back and observe, stir the pot once and awhile, but largely just try to a) absorb my classwork, and b) get a good handle on the ‘culture’ – i.e., the meta-narratives that shape the particular experiences, the ‘types’ they produce, etc.  Recently I realized I was violating that, which, while not entirely a bad thing, has got to stop. 

I’m not sure exactly why I feel this way.  Part of it has to do with the philosophy of living in the now, which is perhaps a more difficult thing to do than it sounds like (it’s not mere hedonism).  I’ve been trying to do this for 7 years with limited success – treating things as ends in and of themselves, appreciating what you see each moment.  I keep meeting people who want to obsessively avoid the now, who want to live in their distant future or recapture their past, which leads to the most absurd kind of choices.  Perhaps some people’s lives proceed in a kind of linear planned way – who knows?  But largely I think all kinds of bizarre things happen to people and that very few individuals would be able to project their current circumstances, say, even 2 years ago.  Now, none of this is to say you can’t make plans and live accordingly, or roll with things and keep to your goals, or that the choices you make don’t run through your entire life, but the particulars – those mutable, mutable particulars.

I think another factor is my social gating tendencies - after awhile you just want to shut the door.  There are a few things that really piss me off either in their concrete and abstract manifestations and nearly all of them have come up in the past few weeks (in one form or another).   One irksome one (and this came from 3 sources) is the whole “cult of the poet” thing which I abhor.  I fucking loathe it.  It makes me want to walk around with a big disclaimer on my chest which says “Dude – yes, I write poetry, yes, I observe humanity, yes, the discipline gives you certain insights.  However, a) this does not make me a spiritually perfected being, b) I have nothing to teach you about yourself, c) I have no approval to dispense, d) I won’t play dumb about the technical elements of my craft to pander to your emotional reactions to the poems.”   Yes, there are “poets” who make their careers out of a-d, often in the absence of any talent or discipline or insight – which I think is a diminishment of their persons, those who they encourage, and the craft itself.  I’m not saying that there isn’t an educational or even spiritual element to poetry – but it’s in the poems, not in the poet.  It’s easy to talk about the more spiritual elements of writing with other poets who understand (often all too well) this distinction between poetry and poets and the tension it produces.  But the doe-eyed laity - fucking cultists. 

Grrrrr.

Time for a ride.



Question

Somebody please explain what the hell is wrong with VA drivers?  To get your license do you need to pass a special “How to Fuck with Bicyclists” course?  The past 24 hours have been crazy - just crazy.  Hush lost rubber and handlebar tape. At this point I’m seriously considering putting some studs on the sides of my cleats so I can do a little Ben-Hur style touch-and-go with these assholes. 

The potentially worst one was a woman in an SUV that nearly squeezed me into a parked car.  She accelerated past me then swerved right to avoid a pothole, nearly hitting said parked car.  Let me repeat that – she’s driving an SUV and she swerved right to avoid a three inch deep pothole I could barely fit my shoe into.  Those monster gas-guzzlers are NOT made out of glass and I hate people who drive them as though they were.   Actually, today, I just hate people. 

Well, not all people.  Kudos, for example, go out to Flashes of Panic as I down another tums tablet for my jello legs, to Riposte for wisdom and for finding the Serene Smiler, to Comrade Roommate, to the random waving jogger in the arboretum, to the courteous bicycle delivery guy I paced down the hill by Georgetown Medical, and to Hannah for, as usual, being a good sport and breaking out the kid gloves to handle some bad poetry.

Vicarious Living

Just spoke with H – she’s been biking in the snow!  Snow!  Ah, here in DC it’s kind of late fallish weather (at least the kind of late fall I’m used to.)  When I was on the phone with her H had a pizza delivered – she’s going to stay in and work on some songs and play with the cats and generally relax tonight, having recently finished her master’s exam.  I can’t remember the last time I ordered a pizza, much less had it delivered.  This seems like heaven to me.  (I miss my cat so!) 

Apparently there’s a minor campaign for me to return to CT for Thanksgiving.  Elegante is having some kind of bash with H, and the Jeweler would like to see me.  H has promised I can lock myself in her basement and lead a troll-like existence drooling over my outlines and coming out for the odd scrabble game and beer.  It’s tempting.  I keep getting drawn back to this one town in central CT.  That used to disturb me, now I just find it oddly expected.  However the town’s resonance keeps growing the more time I spend there, the more experiences I have in it.  At this point they're almost at a critical mass. 

**

Here, in my real and seemingly pointless life, I went for a sprinty ride through the arboretum today with IL – it was the kind of day where you’re sore and tired and think you have your jello legs on, but oddly enough, you have “it” – whatever it is.  I burned a few small hills I thought I’d be absolutely hopeless on.  IL and I got it up to 28 on a climb, which is pretty damn fast (granted, it wasn’t a steep grade).   

**

In my suite, our bathroom lightbulb is flickering, the toilet backs up routinely (a single Kleenex will do it), we’ve had water outages, internet outages, two of the three burners on the stove work (usually) and the white touch up paint is starting to wear off our single steel sheet pressed soviet-cast-off kitchen counter/cabinet set.  I think ration books are the next logical step, but my roommate believes we’ll be up for heating outages and brown-outs first, which I admit makes more sense.  Eager to just get it all over with, I’ve started to call him “Comrade Roommate.”

**

Memo, memo, memo. 

**

Update:  In an effort to stave off ennui, The Enigma and I have embarked on a Haphazard Pizza Ordering Plan.  Arguably the most exciting thing I’ve done in weeks.  (If only my cat were here to supervise my pizza activities.)



Trapped in the City

Leonids tonight, and I’m in the middle of DC, where it seems that it’s sometimes hard to see the moon.   So it’s not too likely I’ll be found in a field with a blanket, some friends, and a bottle of wine, which would be my usual option.  However, I shouldn’t bitch too much, as I did just that for the Perseids this year.

Study, Warmth, Wit

We’re getting to that point in the year where you’ve got to start picking which academic battles to fight.  Some classes are worth more, some tests worth far less than others – and it takes a bit not to overreact to whatever happens to be next in the pipe. 

My study style has always been to take lots of small breaks, to jump around from subject to subject to keep my brain fresh.  It’s a somewhat organic approach – my brain tells me when it’s had its fill of any given offering.  I try to eat moderately well, stay on the bike for at least short daily jaunts, get my usual amount of sleep.  No sense, I figure, in going 10hrs at 75% alertness as opposed to only 7 more-optimal hours.  When I start tailing off I stop for the evening (although sometimes I have a skimming reading reprise before sleep.)

There are people who can laze and then crush through massive amounts of material in 8 hour blocks – I’m not one of those.  There are others who can manage to schedule every second of every day down to time spent in the shower and time spent making tea – again, I couldn’t function effectively under such a regime.  (Do the schedulers schedule their scheduling maintenance?)  However I have made my usual ironic concession to that mentality and have posted a list of things to do on my refrigerator.  It reads, “Things to do:  Law School.”

**

Today was gorgeous.  Between classes we had a larger break than usual, so I took Hush out in search of a patch kit which I found in a local bicycle shop.  After getting soaked and shivery a few times these past weeks (it’s hard to ride when your teeth are chattering), I made a gear concession and bought a nifty Cannondale rain/wind jacket.  I’m pretty much all set for winter riding now. 

**

My current blog/dinner break began with reading Juvenal while eating – a dangerous proposition.  I prefer the Peter Green translation which always makes me laugh – he really brings out that brilliant humor that cuts both ways.  Often Juvenal does it through a witty and intelligent deflating line towards the end of something strident – which recontextualizes things a bit, forces you to think outward into a class from a negative.  For example, here are the first five lines of Satire IV.

Here’s Crispinus again, and I shall have frequent occasion
To parade him before you – a monster of wickedness
Without one redeeming virtue, a sick voluptuary
Strong only in his lusts, which draw the line at nothing
Except unmarried girls. . .

Or

Squalor and isolation are minor evils compared
To this endless nightmare of fires and collapsing houses,
The cruel city’s myriad perils – and poets reciting
Their work in August!


Anecdote Time

I was chatting with the EPG earlier tonight and fleshed out one of the blog stories, so I may as well do it here as well.  This would be the Heraclites reference from earlier this week. 

Gabriel and I went to a mid-sized liberal arts college in which we were moderate academic terrors.  We had a couple of philosophy classes from one very flamboyant priest who had a photographic memory (really, he did).  This priest gave us handy mnemonic devices and was very, very insistent that all of his students know certain basic relationships.  Perhaps the most anti-hide-the-ball professor I’ve ever had.

Anyway, during our Sr. year we were walking back from lunch and passed by the main lecture hall.  Above us the doors to the balcony burst open and out stormed the Infallible Priest, red-faced under his cloud of slightly askew white hair, shouting, “You have shamed me as a teacher!  Shamed me!”  He gripped the balcony railing and spotted Gabriel and me. 

“Mr. Gabriel, Mr. Scoplaw,” he bellowed, “It’s been three years my young gentlemen.  Mr. Gabriel – do you remember the name of the pre-Socratic philosopher who believed everything was in a state of flux?”

“That would be ‘hurry-up’ Heraclites, Father!”

“Very good, Mr. Gabriel!  Mr. Scoplaw, do you remember the name of the pre-Socratic philosopher who believed that change was merely an illusion?”

“That would be ‘permanent’ Parmenides, Father!”

“Excellent Gentlemen, Excellent!  I may have some value as an educator after all!”

And with that he whirled on his heel and closed the doors behind him.

Rhythms of Life

Patterns and patterns.  I hate to sound new-agey, but often I think that we’re introduced to people for purposes – to exchange lessons, information, to help each other grow in some way.  Perhaps this is just subjective;  there are a *ton* of things I don’t know, and I’ve gleaned many important insights from my friends.  (I mean, think about it – how many ideas/attitudes/thoughts are truly yours?)  Couple this with my vast store of esoteric (perhaps useless) knowledge and skills, and it’s pretty easy to see why I’d arrive at this kind of view.  Of course, this does not mean that I’m not a completely critical bastard.  Which I why I hate to sound new-agey. 

When I woke this morning I was thinking of one of my friends favorite points: compliments, their structure and effects.  I wondered when I had last paid someone a compliment, or when someone had last paid a specific compliment directly to me (or, for that matter, encouraged me)?  We’d come to the conclusion that normally character compliments only mean something if they come from someone who knows you fairly well (warts ‘n all), and usually this relationship means they’re not formulaic compliments per se, but rather expressions which indicate discrete praise and respect.  It had been awhile, but when I logged in to my mail after my coffee, I found a message (from a different friend) with the following in it:  Missed our late night desultory conversation.  (Enough to actually have complained to a friend, "Well, when it's said intelligent people are rarely had, you can imagine what it is find one who doesn't lose their head when inebriated.").

So – I feel great, scoplawic.  That’s the power of the compliment (and having many threads come together - always nice to wonder about something and get the answer 10 minutes later).  I know how it affects me.  How will these words (though me) affect others?  What impact does this have on the patterns?

Song of the hour – Joy Division’s “Disorder” (live).  Awesome biking tune, which I’ll put to use now on the Sunday-quiet streets of DC as life can’t be mind alone.  (I’d like to think that Kenneth Fearing would have been into JD.)  After that it’s mind and fingers in the pursuit of my memo. 

My Past Lives

Apropos of a conversation with H, I just have to say I love this man (The Trombone Player)  in a totally heterosexual way.   Heh.   

Gah, the alienating effects of my southern exile still kills me at times.   How do I let people leave my life?

Best wishes to TP and his latest project!

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Chatterbox

Every so often I’ll have chatterbox days where everyone I speak with calls and vice versa. Yesterday was such a day. I heard from a relative I never hear from (prompting immediate fears that there’d been a death or dismemberment, but all was well), a fellow LS student at a different school, and three other old friends now distant.   E-mail and chatting were busier still, with three random mails, a poetry solicitation, two long chats, and a good poetry debate. 

All seems well in the world for these people, which makes me happy. I have a small group of people who I have great emotional investment in, largely because of the kind of people they are and the choices they’ve made with their lives – these are humans who reach out to others, daily, who offer what they can.  I divide the world roughly into givers and takers, consumers and makers (fluid categories). All of my friends are makers. As long as things are well with them, I feel sort of buoyed up, as though no personal misfortune or disappointment of mine could matter all that much. 

Question Posed Yesterday

Had I ever slept with a Republican?  And if not, would I ever sleep with a Republican?

No. 

And No.

(I take no responsibility for those who later lose their minds and become Republicans.  Some succumb to mad cow or encephalitis in the lottery of life, others, "tax breaks.")

Timidity, Patience, Impatience, Boldness

I’m full of energy and it’s not necessarily a good kind of energy.

One of the local memes is a conversation about timidity v. boldness, tangentially incorporating patience v. impatience.  I expect that if asked, most people would select on one (or more) of the above to describe my fundamental nature or bias. Of course, we’d probably get the full spread, as in some things I’m very cautious, while in others I definitely shoot my mouth off and walk on the grass. I used to suspect there was a correlation between my being careful with things I value the most, and my being fey with things I value the least, but I am becoming less convinced that such is the case.

I’ve been told recently that I’m very patient, but I don’t think I’m patient at all. Or rather, I think I’m patient to a point, then become very impatient/judgmental, perhaps unreasonably so. The clock, in a sense, is always ticking. I certainly can say that I’ve become much less patient with some of the older arguments – that in many ways I view many of the point/counterpoint arguments (say, for example in poetics) as creating a kind of artificial field of engagement, one that limits us to that field, functions as a kind of “cap” on the exchange of ideas. A friend used to say that debate sharpened the mind – but what if it only extends to the bottom quarter of the entire blade?

I believe I equate this kind of debate with a kind of timidity. Everyone knows the limits of the debate, so no one can be truly upset when the debate stays inside its parameters. Conversely, I think boldness is sexy – at least when it’s not pigheaded. I spent the evening with an inebriated friend who for once did not hold back their opinions. It was one of the most enjoyable conversations I’ve had recently, as everyone around me seems to be weighing their words, fearful of social/intellectual judgment against them.  Sure, it was largely a food/city conversation, but still, so nice to hear someone say, “I like *this,* but I think *that* is a complete waste of time."

The Ethic of Self Care

Achieved this afternoon: cancellation of Bargain, Exchange, and Liability; a cold cold and wet ride across the city; the fetching of wine, cheese, tomatoes, and soup fixins on the way back; a hot hot and long shower; the return of feelings to my hands; the settle into books and warmth and tea and no time pressure (well, beyond the usual). The only kind of glitch in the routine is that I scorched the soup, which really only meant I had to shift the taste a bit into the smoky, which is fine.

I’m still horribly disappointed by the election results, but eh, I’m starting to view it like a natural disaster you just have to live with.

Some days are just cold grey days.

It's Like Deja Vous All Over Again

There are days where you just feel ashamed of your fellow Americans. Unfortunately, those days have been coming thick and fast these past few years – one factor in my decision to return to law school.

This time around it’s not so much procedural inequity, as it’s the reasons the votes were cast (if the exit polls indicate anything at all) – namely the idea things are going well in Iraq, that Iraq is somehow significantly connected with the nebulous war on terror, that Bush is a “moral guy” who is willing to “play fair” with the little people of the world (despite the fact that the more marginalized you become, the more likely you are to vote for John Kerry). It seems to rest on fear, xenophobia, blind patriotism. The election turns in the South, which is one of the most irrational voting blocks I know of, unduly influenced by evangelical Christianity and the conservative media. It really makes me want to throw up in my mouth.

Next time around, even if Kerry somehow squeaks in via the outstanding votes in Ohio, can we have a Democrat that’s smart enough to follow the Clinton election plan, please?

Blessed Samhain!

Well, it's a bit early yet, but I wanted to wish a Blessed Samhain! to all my favorite witches – including Faith, Rowan, Hope, and Dusky.

This is a busy time of year, holiday-wise. For the Catholics, we have All-Hallows Eve, All-Hallows Day (All Saints Day), and All Souls Day, collectively Hallowmas.

For the wiccans/pagans, we have Samhain (pronounced Sow-in), a.k.a. the Celtic New Year (which begins on Nov. 1).

There’s a lot to write about Samhain, but I’ll restrict myself to a few random bits:

One of the things that comes up most often (in mass media) is that Samhain is supposedly a holiday to worship the Celtic god of the dead, Samhain. In fact, there is no Celtic god of the Dead.

However, a lot of wiccans believe this is the day the God is reborn of the Goddess – which might account for some of the confusion. Also, there’s the traditional idea that the boundary between this world and the Otherworld becomes blurred on the day before the turning of the New Year – the dead and the Sidhe from the past and elsewhere wander in. Be wary of strangers.

One thing for women to do on this night - Slice an apple transversely to expose the five pointed star made by the seeds. Eat half the apple while looking into a candlelit mirror and you’ll see the face of your future husband in the corner of your vision. Don’t look at the image directly though! Bad luck.

Law students might want to take note that this night, which marks the turn of the Wheel of the Year is a propitious time to make resolutions for the New Year.

False Modesty and the Fear of Accomplishment

Seems to be the theme for the evening. Talented people who hide their talent, who raise hackles at the slightest sense of connection to a recognizable figure or tradition. Where does this come from, I wonder? False modesty, lack of genuine praise for accomplishment: these things are destructive, even more so, I think, than false assessment or grandiose delusions. Personally, I like to know who I’m dealing with, what they’ve done, what they’re capable of doing, and that keeping everything on a pedantic cocktail/pop-culture level is a frightful fucking waste of time.

Sorry to keep this all abstract, but this came up so often tonight, it felt like the gods were tapping my shoulder all evening long. . .and perhaps isn’t not socially, um, sensitive to concretize.

Anyway, I was thinking of some private compliments I’ve garnered recently, paired with public silence or, um, timid assessment. I mean, I can somewhat respect the caution that’s involved, but on the other hand, I just think – Damn, how can I respect this? Personally, I’ve never shied from saying that I think (for example) Dana Gioia’s a wooden third-rater with connections and some impressive tangential snobbish knowledge, or that Robert Fanning’s going to be remembered as one of the best poets of his generation.

Sigh. Ah well, it's pointless anyway.

Perhaps a more coherent post later, but the books beckon.

**

Kudos to the Wench on a Rack for a good makeup/martini job this evening.

What Drives this Ape?

My blood pressure is pretty good for a fossil – measured two days ago at 102 over 65. And I smoke (sort of) and drink and follow the Sox. Yeah, yeah, we all know there’s no justice. Anyway, Legal Writing doubtless has it steadily climbing.

A friend likens Legal Writing to “Monkey Speech” and will ask if a sample of his writing is “Monkey enough” – i.e., does he spell everything out in pointless, painstaking, short-sentence detail as though the reader couldn’t follow the most basic segues?

Or perhaps the pressure is rising due to a completely frustrated desire to rub my eye. I swear, I’m going to have to tie my hand down – I’ve caught myself going for the eye at least 4 times today as it’s itchy as hell. (No bruising though – Holiday bottle of wine for the steady fingered MD.) I’d almost prefer an achy-pain to the itching though. Strike that – there’s no doubt I’d prefer it. Itches are evil.

Just thought I’d share.

Anyway – this weekend is going to be bookishly keen, punctuated by a few rides and a costume party held by The Classicist. For those of you who have costume issues, I’d recommend reading NeoTokyo’s suggestions (with my fav. as “Zombie Justice Scalia.”)

Red Sox Win the World Series

For all those who have been waiting – for all those who have died waiting – for all those kids like me who had their hearts broken in 86 and 88 and 90 and 95 and 98 and 99 and 2003 – YEEEEEEAAAAAAAAHHHHHH!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

**

And for those who’ve never known the knife edge of something you love/want, and over which you have no control, just not happening again again despite your best efforts to will and wish it so, I’m so, so, sorry. I’d urge you to revel in your sophistication, except reveling would be (so sadly) beyond you.

Good Pain, Bad Pain

I did a particularly brave thing today. (Brave for me, of course – I fully realize there are real acts of bravery I will never accomplish. But I’ll take my petty victories where I can find them and am thus currently rewarding myself with cookies and coffee.) I went to the Georgetown hospital to have a cyst cut out from inside my eyelid. I had been procrastinating about this because I have this thing about my eyes. (As a kid I used to have nightmares that someone was putting them out with lit cigarettes.) Yet I didn’t want this to grow any further and become more of a problem than it was – so, no choice.

When I went to the pharmacy to get my anti-infection stuff, the pharmacist was alarmed because the incision was bleeding a bit. She asked me if I had hurt myself in the store (liability issues no doubt) and I told her I had just had this done at the hospital, was fine, etc. This led to the “you’re wearing a helmet why are you bicycling under anesthetic” question – however, there was no anesthetic so it didn’t matter that I was bicycling. She was vaguely appalled, and I assured her things were fine. I kept thinking, “It’s not a big deal” and it totally wasn’t - I have a pretty high pain threshold and they didn't have to cut that deep. However, what *is* a big deal is that I let someone get within a few millimeters of my eyeball with a scalpel. Times, they are a changin.

Now – Red Sox (another good bad pain).

Red Spanish Wine. Check.
Legal Process. Check.
Lucky Sweatshirt. Check.
Pedro Martinez’s Birthday. Check.

I’ll start the game alone then join my peeps in the lounge.

Upgrades

Thanks to The Enigma, I have a (loaned) deck of tarot cards again.  Last night I did a few readings, but wasn’t particularly happy with them; two headlong readings, one confused one – and I know I missed one broad application on the first, and one very obvious reading (7th card) on the confused one.  Blah!  My original deck was scattered by H this summer/fall in odd circumstances – kinda sad, as I’d had that deck for 15 years.  This weekend, H tried to leave an evil set of cards with me.  After I handled it for a bit, I told her I wanted nothing to do with it.  She then admitted she had tried to give this spare and unused deck (ages ago) to both The Pathological Liar and an Unblogable, each of whom individually rejected the deck because it felt bad.  (The PL, for all his brilliance, really is a PL with strong antisocial (clinical) tendencies and one of the few people on the planet I’d genuinely want to see hit by a bus.  Long story. . .I once wrote a play which leaned on the PL’s personality for one of the main characters.  The play went over well but I was told by several that this character’s behavior was too far fetched.  And I had scaled it back!)  But anyway, it’s amusing that each of us wanted nothing to do with the deck.  I told H she should definitely salt and burn it, but she’s convinced there’s nothing wrong with it.  H can be bullish about some things.  The Enigma’s deck is nice, but slightly confused in an upfront way.  Case in point – I just asked the deck what kind of deck it was, then cut it to the five of wands. 

Second upgrade -  the new wheels on Lumina are awfully fast compared to the old set.  When I swapped the wheels I discovered I did something really bad to the rear hub on the old set; I think I split a bearing because it turns about as smoothly as one of those old fashioned meat grinders.  Today, after class, I zipped out to an appointment that was canceled just after I arrived – I have another rescheduled for tomorrow, and, thanks to the wheels, am very much looking forward to the cross-town dash.

Anyone know a good costume shop in DC?  I have no makeup with me.  (Halloween party prep is another one of my pointless 3 hour projects, which I lurch into when my brain becomes saturated with FRCP stuff or US v. Watson, as it is at this moment).

Scoplawish Hijinks

Yea! I feel like the Scoplaw again. Honestly, I’d had a crazy but good summer, then the adjustment coming down to DC, the abandonment of much of my past life that just couldn’t come along, some of my past life abandoning me (still a bit sore about that, even though it must be for the best). Anyway, it’s been a damn busy 5 months.

Last night was particularly good and grounding for me – H, I.L., and I went down to Richmond to see The Trombone Player’s gig. We arrived at the club, parked the car, and spent an hour or so playing pool with the TP, who kicked my ass as my sharkish tendencies deserted me. I knew it was going to be a good night when one of the opening bands (New Blood Revival) covered “Rudie Can’t Fail” as the Sox were playing in the background. The TP, a huge Yankees fan from the dark days of the early 80s (something I have to respect) was (nonetheless) the target of a number of barbs from the Scoplaw re: the ACLS. The tour was sponsored by Jaeger, prompting the following line – “I don’t know what that shit is, or what it does, but man, it does it well.” Needless to say, much Jaeger was consumed.

In one sense it was kind of sad because there weren’t all that many people there – maybe a hundred or so. In another sense it was glorious, almost as though I was back in Boston in the early 90s. Ska lives! A couple of the guys and gals went old style – skinny ties, hats/stockings, dancing shoes. The crowd was largely white, but I’m happy to say there was no clumping at all – I danced next to a couple of lesbians who were doing some swing moves and a cute black girl who was all elbows and knees. At one point, the Toasters pulled up people onto the stage to dance with/behind ‘em as they played. It was that kind of night, no tough guys in sight, no heroin in the bathrooms, no desperate-to-get-laid clubishness, just a comfortable mix of people who went to dance and a wall of brass generating that unique body moving sound. All in all it was Ska – inclusive, drunken, clever, sociable, and politically aware (much talk about voting). It’s so good to know my people are still out there. I’m still bouncy! Afterward we chilled with the bands in the club – there’s always something really great about a post-concert space, sitting on stage and shooting the shit about politics and social issues, not about selves.

The TP and H stayed over last night (or more accurately, this morning), in a good field test for visitors to my room. We were chatting and I realized that the TP has dated at least three of my platonic female friends (at least that close circle of the very good friends). Conversely, I've dated at least two of his. I don't think we've both dated any same person, nor have we ever discussed this. . . Hmm. Research will have to be done to satisify my pointless curiosity.

I leave the blog to hit the books, but I still have refrain from NBR’s “He’s No Good For You” in my head. Perhaps the most catchy/amusing new song of the night for me - it's about killing an abusive boyfriend:

Step 1: Attack when you know he's asleep.
Aim for the heart and then drive the blade deep.
Step 2: Cut off all his fingers. To work this effectively,
bury the head and the body separately.
Step 3: Remember, NEVER open your mouth.
The worms crawl in and the worms crawl out.


Doins

Went to a splendid party last night – hosted by one of the 'local' Threes, it featured many people who were (gasp!) not even in law school. No section talk required, no exam talk required, no strategy talk required. Brilliant! I chatted with a genetics grad student who was pleased to escape her immediate circle as well. While the party was fun, I was held to a most Cruel, Unusual, and Demanding standard by one of the Threes that did show up. Apparently we’d had a conversation back in orientation, one which I had forgotten about – now that’s a tall order given the hundreds here, plus I’m pretty sure I was drunk. Alas! The Demanding One refused to part with any (further) information about herself, having already given it out once. She did relent and offer one categorical prompt which, technically, has infinite answers to it. And for that I went down on my knee – worth it though, I think.

H showed up sometime around 5/6am, and is currently out touring the mall, and I’m contemplating a quick ride on some new (old) wheels she brought down from CT. Not as classy as I.L.’s, but a bit of an upgrade from Lumina’s current set, which I’ve ridden fairly hard, un-truing them in just a few weeks time. While I could simply true them, I'd rather see if another set might hold up longer. Normally I baby my bikes, hence Hush’s remarkable state of preservation, despite however many thousands of miles I’ve logged on her. However, on a fixed, you (I) really only have two options – do the graceful glide along, or go hell for leather without many opportunities to unweight the bike. Guess which I choose. My style is also pretty hard on the headsets - I flatten bearings and flex the bars.

Tonight, Richmond.

Right now, Reading.

I think this is probably going to be my last “weekend out,” not that I’m spending the whole weekends out, actually. But I think the workload (I keep waiting) is going to get heavier still – and while there’s a point of counter-productivity you can hit studying, I’m certainly not near that yet.

Victory!

I don’t blog about the Sox, but I would be completely remiss if I didn’t notice their stunning victory over the hated Yankees on the blog. Let's hope I get to make as similiar post for Kerry.

To two friends who noted my childish, ritualistic, and solipsistic behavior re: the Sox and the various rituals I adopt for the playoffs: yep. You are completely correct. I wore the lucky sweatshirt, drank the obligatory Ginger beer, played the Clash (could there be a better rally song for these bearded and long haired Sox than “Rudie Can’t Fail?”) and did not watch innings 1-6 with others. (Although that was very narrowly not the case – I did, more by chance than anything else, remain true to my vow, as The Enigma stopped by just after 6th.)

There’s been a lot written about the psychology of fandom, but one of the most pertinent elements (for me at least) is the investiture of the self’s predictive ability in an essentially unstable process resulting in a fixed outcome. (In this, baseball falls somewhere between religion and guessing what tomorrow’s weather will be.) Couple this with the temporary adoption of tribalism linked to a basic moral structure (something you might find in 5th grade) and you’ve got a potent escapist brew, far better than your average movie. I don’t mean to imply that I’m ordinarily far above tribalism, etc., but that being a fan allows you to glory in it in a way that’s both personally meaningful and largely harmless to society as a whole.

But what can I say? I love the Sox. I love baseball. I love the drama of the game, its quirkiness (about which much has been written elsewhere). I love the lack of a clock, the fact that the defense controls the ball, the briefness and aerial quality of the ball in play. I love the ritual, the fact that it’s a game of individual confrontations which rely on others to enable some outcomes.

That said, this series has been so emotionally draining that I’m almost uncaring about the world series. Almost.

I’ll have to adopt new ritual, taboos, a temporary geas or two, for the series – suggestions are welcome.


"Thump, Thump, Thump."

Goes the Scoplaw's heart.

If you're a dear friend, over the age of 60, who I admire greatly, and to whom I owe a lot, please, please, please, never send me an e-mail with the title "What Lies Beyond" and start the message with "Dear Friends." I leap to the most awful conclusions while waiting for the rest of the message to open up. (My friend, I wish you the longevity of Stanley Kunitz, and then some!)

Here endeth the public service announcement.

**

In a related matter, if anyone has any randomly good news they’d like to share with me, I could really stand to hear it; it’s been that kind of week.

Cleverness. Stupidity.

My relationship with the GlobeTrotter has been plagued for years by alternating bouts of cleverness and stupidity. Things said, things not said, that sort of thing. One could write a novel. Or perhaps a play.

The theme that emerges from this is if one has something to say, one ought to say it, as quickly and clearly as possible. Unless of course it should wait, or it’s something you ought not to say, in which case you ought to either wait or just not say it at all. See? Perfectly clear. No, no - no need to thank me for straightening out your lives, Dear Readers.

And for the Dear Reader, the GlobeTrotter is an old friend from college. She’s a kind of go-it-alone, short-hair gal, jetting about the world, getting degrees, doing political things in a variety of countries, some of which have a heavy concentration of land mines, some which don't. The GlobeTrotter is fundamentally impatient, in the best kind of way (I always felt like something of a boat-anchor when we were together) and she’s one of those people who are cynical without losing their passion.

The latest chapter: I had been including GT on some general “here’s what’s up with the Scoplaw” mailings, and had thought it odd she had not responded, given that GULC would be right up her alley. Hmm. Actually, speaking of alleys, I have a sneaking suspicion that if debating GT, most of the students here (perhaps a few of the professors) would be flying piper cubs in MIG Alley. Anyway, I sent GT a message at her work address asking her what was up. Apparently she had been sending e-mails to a dead account of mine and thought it odd I hadn’t responded to any of them.

So in this from-work message, GT alluded to a kind of sticky situation involving a third person that has me on tenterhooks. In response I sent off an e-mail, but no response or further clarification from her. I waited, waited, waited, figured, “eh, either she really didn’t want to talk about this or she does not want to talk to me.”

Fast-forward to my CT jaunt this weekend. One of the items I brought back was a phone for my land-line here in the student apartments/dorm. This land line has a number I had given out to no human being. I thought I could use the phone to make local calls during the day (since I don’t want to get a long distance account for it.) Tonight, when I plugged in the phone to personalize and check my voice mail for the first time, I was surprised to find that right after GT had gone “silent” she’d left a message on my voice mail, with her phone number, etc.

How did she get the number? Why should I be surprised she had? She’s clever (one of the cleverest people I know.) But why, when I did not respond, did she not follow her call with an e-mail, or guess that I might not use the local phone? (Which is a completely annoyingly Scoplawic thing to do, btw.) Stupidity.

And why did I not e-mail her again after I did not hear from her? Why did I not think to borrow my suitemate’s phone to check my line once a month? Stupidity. (I have no claim to cleverness in this scenario.)

I wonder how missed messages impact one’s life. On the most mundane level, what if the GT was in DC this past month on one of her political gigs? I’d seriously kick myself for missing a chance to see her in person. I think we’ve been within 200 miles of each other for a +24hr. window, oh, probably about once in the past 5 years.

This, btw, is something we have not (yet?) touched on in Law and Economics – that there is no perfect communication, and that all transactions take place through the lenses of imperfect communication and understanding. Without perfect knowledge (and with transaction costs in gaining partial knowledge) well, ick.

OK, Maybe GA isn’t totally useless.

It did teach me to every now and then put blackstrap molasses in my Americano. Although this is a bastardization elsewhere in the country, you ought to try it before discounting it out of hand.

As you may guess, I am sitting, coffee cup warming my hand, in front of the computer – which of course affects how one blogs. There’s the mail to check, finances to keep a finger on, news to keep up on, various LS sites to pay attention to, and the omnipresent “Study!” note appended to my screen (more Process reading on deck.) The computer herself (Tatterdemalion) had sported a number of decorations since I first baptized her with some Jagermeister and introduced her to the muse. Right now she’s got a few ragged butterflies on her, a ska sticker, and a pink triangle that reads “Straight but not Narrow.” (The triangle has already gotten me in trouble since I’m a raging heterosexual, with a penchant for wearing velvet jackets and talking about poetry. Confusing, I know. But here’s the thing – I hate, nay, I loathe musical theatre. Draw your own conclusions.) The current desktop wallpaper shows Johnny Cash flipping off the camera. At least with poetry one can write “off screen.” Actually I suppose you could do that with blogging, but frankly it’s too much bother for me.

Today has been a pleasant law-school off day. I went for a ride with I.L. to the National Cathedral. Mass Ave. just grinds you down as you get closer and closer to the cathedral. I was on Lumina – no coasting for this boy. Later, I made a potato and broccoli soup, some tea, then worked with Wench on a Rack for a bit. I ran into two section 3ers, one with a shared interest in environmental law, and had chatty conversations with ‘em both. That’s crucial for me to retain balance, I think – big overarching issue talk, where the law is simply a means to an end. I lose that sometimes when mired in the minutiae of the classes. Now I’m looking at an evening of Process, with some other odds ‘n ends reviewing.

Yesterday after study I went out with my roommate and I.L. to see “Shaun of the Dead.” Sometimes a movie lives right up to its billing – in this case, “A Romantic Comedy. With Zombies.” And so it was. The film had some really clever elements to it, not the least of which was the overarching gag of there being small difference from the apathetic living and the living dead. I’d highly recommend this one to anyone (law students in particular) who’d like to get some pretty brainless entertainment. Sometimes that’s required.

Well, I’m off to shuffle into the books.


Couple Thousand Words

Scoplaw in his natural environment, plus H taking a break atop a ridge somewhere by Valley Falls.

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Hittin the road

soon. I get to play Naked Drinking Coffee's fav. game - "Don't Fall Asleep at the Wheel and Die." It's a game I've played on several continents, one of the few I care enough about to play ruthlessly, one l always expect to win.

This post is really to say "Sorry" about the lack of return correspondence to people who have written in the past 3 days - I was spinning the wheels to knock down some work and free up my weekend. Cripes. I can't do this 2 weeks in 1 crap again for this semester.

Pudding and Stories

Wench on a Rack and I went out for Ethiopian tonight, in Adam’s Morgan. On the way back to the school, we stopped for martinis and bread pudding. WR has been in DC for some time now, about a year, so she knows the city in ways I don’t. I mean, where would I have gone for fantastic bread pudding? I’m continually fascinated by WRs ability to charm people. It’s rather amazing actually – she casually chats up strangers as though they’ve known each other for years. Not to knock WR, as she is quite pretty, but this ability goes far beyond any kind of purely physical charisma. I’m not sure what area of law any of us will end up in, but I continue to think WR is going to be a force, largely because of her ability to put people at ease socially. Or perhaps she’ll end up as a stunningly effective con woman. (Whereas I tend to make people nervous, or at least tend to project something that makes people a bit cautious, a bit wary.)

WR also has some hidden skills and stories which must (alas) remain hidden – however I will (and hopefully can) say that she’s quite an accomplished reader. As we were walking back, she recited large chunks of Dylan Thomas’s play, “Under Milk Wood,” and did it damn well. Ah – I don’t think I’ll be able to sleep for some hours now. I’m such a poetry geek.

It’s odd when you hang out with new people – strange stories which you’ve really had no occasion to tell in years keep popping back into your brain. You think, “Good God, *did* I really spend a year living with a neurotic gay novelist who spent half of his time hitting on me and stealing my beer? – I guess I did.” "Did I really spend an evening smoking from Tim Leary's hookah? - I guess I did." Or at least I think of such things.

Sabbatical

Disclosure time prompted by a few recent social events and a reaction to the latest poem (that's not a refelxive 'you', BTW): in the tradition of my friend, the Arched Eyebrow, I’ve been on a dating sabbatical. I’m not sure how much time I have left on my visa, but it's in no danger of running out, and thusfar the vacation has been amusing (for various and sundry reasons). Actually (no knock to the lovely ladies of GULC) it’s left my life remarkably uncomplicated - except for finding someone who can give my bum shoulder decent rubs. Perhaps I should have been more up front about this, but I'm not really a good person and enjoy social chaos more than I ought to.

Funniest line to actually come out of this: I was asked by a friend what I’d do if someone who was visiting started to hit on me. My response: “Dude, if she’s after my virtue, I’m fairly certain I could fend her off with something sharp while I scream for help.”

Funniest line I never gave (but ought to have given): “I’m really not trying to get into your pants my dear, I’d just like to know your opinion on the Rawls essay.”

Circularity

Well, chalk up another social whirlwind weekend, LS style – which means very little time spent actually socializing, and much time spent listening to gossip and people watching. At three points, I adopted my hot potato method of social vetting – I dropped a few outré anecdotes and watched the reaction, which usually tells you all you need to know. I did spend two evenings “out” – kind of an odd thing both nights; a) drinking games are much the same as they were when I was in college, b) the club scene is also much the same as it was. Although I had fun, I think I probably could have established that in a much more efficient fashion. Did have a couple of nice martinis though. . .

In many ways this was a put-it-in-order weekend. A number of threads closed themselves off, I got the straight dope on a bunch of stuff, I came into some fascinating information (found out someone’s been routinely lying to me), and my big quasi-excuse to jet up to New England disappeared. Actually, it was a very valid reason, but I had overlooked a way to take care of it remotely and it’s fixed. So I’ll simply have to drive up to visit friends/family without the crutch of a mission. In terms of the lying, well, I’m always kind of surprised by that. People (in my book) are free to live their lives as they’d like – but to hear (as one always eventually does) that there’s been a bizarre mesh of untruth specifically constructed to try to influence *my* thoughts and behavior. . .well, my reaction isn’t so much anger as it is to think that I’ve been wasting my time with someone who is an idiot. And at this point in my life, I’ve little energy or inclination to rehabilitate fools.

**

In another odd way, I’ve been a cop magnet this weekend. For various reasons I found myself in the company of two local security company employees, a fed, and street cops. All these guys (and gals) are phenomenal sources of information as to what’s really going on. They’re also a pain in the ass to have all over the roads when you’re tying to make good cross city time. I had to ride very conservatively, although one nice guy waved me through a construction intersection so I didn’t have to slow.

In the case of (well one case of) the street cops – In Limine and I were biking past the Library of Congress on our way to the Eastern Market (a farmer’s market) when we came across a security barrier manned by two cops and some guy in black (capitol police?). The guy in black had a god-damn cannon slung in front of him, and his gloved hand was uncomfortably close to the trigger. Instead of going ahead into the closed street, I actually stopped and asked permission. That thing looked like it would stop a light vehicle, and Hush, well, she’s definitely in that category.

**

Every now and then I feel the need to listen to music that none of my friends (past or present) like or know. Oddly enough, this isn’t all that difficult even in the contemporary world of obscure-band-one-upmanship; I just put on an English Beat album. Heh. I love you English Beat (even if no one else does)!

Coffee! Books! (And courtesy of the fish market, some fresh shark – cannibalism at it’s finest.)

Adios –

The Scoplaw (aka the Bookshark)

Follow-through

I was e-mailed by someone who attempted to say, “Hello” to the Scoplaw, but instead found and greeted a random non-Scoplaw person (or so they thought) through their sleuthing. Per the Scoobie Doo method, I caution you to always, always, rip the rubber mask off. Otherwise the villain may, as I did, go free, all the meddling of the damn kids aside.

**

Well, the work is nearly done, and the Scoplaw is at loose ends (or will be around 9pm). Tonight I begin another stage of my continuing past reclamation project.

You see, I tend to form these kind of unreasonable associations between things and people. Sometimes they leave me irrationally prejudiced against trivialities. Case in point – I was dating a woman in a relatively long distance manner; she started hanging around this guy an awful lot. I’ll indulge my childish side and name him “the Shithead”. He and I had the usual sniff-the-tail exchange, in which he basically said (without saying) he was going to write me out of the picture. Now there’s not much you can do in that situation. The weight of constant physical presence (coupled with your absence) is, unfortunately, too much for most people to overcome. (Unless of course, your significant other is actually serious about things and not either mercenary or childish – but that’s rare). But anyway, if you bring this dynamic to the girlfriend’s attention (which I did, eventually) you run the risk of getting tagged as a kind of jealous paranoid or a boat-anchor. You can’t kick the crap out of the guy for the same reason. So that leaves sneaky underhandedness, which is a) usually not worth it, b) difficult to pull off if you’re not even in the same city. So, hands pretty much tied, the completely banal path unfolded and they became lovers. While sometimes this happens when things *ought* to end (the distance just speeds up the process), it’s particularly galling when there’s a real chance for things to work and the distance/wolfishness weighs on your relationship just enough to pull it into the dumpster.

But all this to say, Shithead was really into The Watchmen – and the ex kept recommending them to me, but damned if I could disassociate the rag from Shithead and my deep loathing for him (even though he was pretty much a better and more appropriate match for my ex than I was). It took me about 5 years to finally get around to reading Watchmen.

So I try not to do that too much anymore, or if I do, I try to claim/reclaim things that I really ought not to give up. Last night, courtesy the 8th Floor Gang, I took back “Harold and Maude,” a small piece in a web of negative associations I need to break down.

Tonight it’s Jagermeister, from a completely different but far more visceral web.

There’s not too much left I’d like back after that (I think.)

I already have all my cities, all my music, all my poems (the muse is *way* too mercenary to ever sacrifice a poem on the altar of the sticky past). And of course there are the things that you associate with someone but in a good way – these are, for me, inexplicably, while often just as trivial, sometimes quite important things. But they continue to remain good associations. Odd. You might expect a whole cloth kind of thing – i.e., all the associations you’d have regarding a person or situation would be good or bad.

**

Also, I have to get off my ass and send out my latest manuscript. Blah!


I'm such a geek

This is how the Scoplaw kills time - listening to this great site with accented English from all over the world.

Blog Break

A scattered update on the state of Scoplawry in America:

Well, I’m neck deep in reading, as usual. I had initially thought the material was a bit “open” in the sense that we were closing off a lot of interesting avenues and only spending our class time focusing on a few things. So I read ahead a bit and it looks like our readings will be containing selections which seem to lend themselves more to essay exams, i.e., more discrete “stuff” to pull out of each week. I still have to get some old outlines and practice exams, but I’d like (stupidly perhaps) to have all my outlines up and running before I look at anyone else’s. I think the end of Week 4 (upcoming) is a good target date.

**

Poetry peeps familiar with online workshopping might want to check out the awkwardly named but interesting Poem Crit Tool Place which has been put together by Rik Roots as an interesting experiment in relatively anonymous on-line workshopping. I’m completely fascinated by how this is going to unfold (or not).

**

Last night I had dinner with some law peeps, including In Limine (no doubt feverishly reworking his blog as I write), and a new character to add to the annals – “Wench on a Rack.” Although most of the time I don’t bother to explain the names I “gift” people with, lest this one be taken amiss, I have to say that WR reminds me of the BookWench (self-named), a hard-drinking librarian I used to work with. Just about 6 inches taller. They could pass for cousins, easily. Anyway, I had thought of The Uncanny Echo, perhaps more appropriately, since she also shares the most unusual name (sort of – complicated) of all my ex-girlfriends. But WR for now, I think.

Anyway, dinner was splendid, with everyone pitching into the conversation without any kind of desperate social bonding. So very adult, so very relaxing. Excellent break from the somewhat High-Schoolish scene that’s been burbling up to the forefront now and then.

**

Today (I’ve been stuffing myself all weekend) I went to the farmer’s market with IL. I had thought to buy a basil plant, but alas, that vendor wasn’t there today. I did leave with some very fresh tomatoes, which made for a lovely lunch – raw tomatoes, a hint of olive oil, salt, and pepper.

**

Also, there’s been much correspondence (phone and mail) recently – largely due to a back channel conversation about TTS and ES’s engagement (yea!). I got some good news out of NE – things which I thought were, are not. How’s that for pointlessly cryptic? Anyway, it’s good stuff.

**

IL and I are going to head out on a ride (with cameras (amusing/dangerous)) so I might have some DC images for you all soon.

YEA!

Excellent! Two of my favorite people have just announced their engagement – this would be The Third Son and the Exotic Spice, who herself is perhaps more exotic than the spice I associate with her.

As a couple, I have to rate my intellectual/emotional investment in their “couple-ness” up there with Gabriel and El Capitan, or Firecracker and the Rat-Smasher. These are people who give me hope, a general kind of hope which arises simply from knowing that they’re together and well. Yea!

Apparently The Third Son did it right - Paris, banks of the Seine, midnight proposal. Good job!

***

It’s so very odd to reflect on my circle of established friends who have married v. those who have not married, an increasingly smaller number. While I’ve been kind of emotionally shocked at recent news (not that the most recent isn't grand), I was long past the point of guessing which of my friends would be married first/have kids first. I think I’ve reached that point where it’s now time to start guessing which of us will be married last or not at all. I’d have to say, this evening, that I’m guessing either Elegante or myself will have that honor, neither of us, I think, entirely by design. Sometimes it just works out that way.

***

On a second side note, you can already see relationship issues burbling about GULC – a lot of significant others have made awkward or very cool appearances, and the inevitable pressures of long-distance relationships are starting to set in. I think there are a few wolves among us – those who under the guise of being “supportive” begin to subtly interject criticism of the absent partner, plus a heady dose of misguided individualism, largely with the goal of fracturing their “friend’s” relationship and subsequently getting into their pants. Gah – I hate wolves. May I never be one.


Rocketman

Another take on my day:

*Breakfast – banana pancakes. How can you have a bad day when you eat banana pancakes?

*Book-readin. Book-larnin.

*Quick jaunt out to the National Zoo for an exercise/studybreak. My only real observation is that if the Creator had a finite amount of cuteness to spend, she put it nearly all into river otters.

*On the way out I hit 36 mph going under Thomas Circle – not stunningly impressive, but I was at 30 when I climbed out the far end.

*My covert bookstore locating plan continues successfully.

*I think now some web-design (non-scoplaw stuff which is most desperately in need of an update) and some non-law reading with the red sox ticker in the background.

Babies, babies everywhere!

Well, in an ammendment to the last posting, I just found out that a married friend, the Arched Eyebrow, has had her second child. The first was, as they say in that area of the country, something of a "stunnah". But the second - easily done. Also DrunkenWings (an associate of Firecrakcer and myself) is married with a son (he teaches at risk kids poetry - gotta love DrunkenWings). And in good news, someone who I had thought/heard dead is not. More on law school in a bit, but here's a lovely shot of the Firecracker, as Firecracker, and one of the Arched Eyebrow with her daughters. Sigh - but a good sigh. I should have been less of a hermit these past few years. Granted, I was stuck in the south, but still. . .


Firecracker






3girls






Messed up ness.

So – I had intended to blog on the second round of classes – which were very interesting.  Instead, I find my inclination to blog on LS is kind of burnt out.  Perhaps I’ll have something tomorrow or Friday. 

Actually, this has been kind of a weird personal day for me.  Disconcerting by turns.  In no order - I was contacted by The GlobeTrotter, an ex who is doing very well, but who has a close relative that I admire who is in some kind of serious legal trouble, which is awfully disappointing to hear (no details as of yet, and they’d be an off-blog topic anyway).  I found out this evening that the Firecracker (best friend from college) had a son sometime in the past year!!!  I am being officially dissed by the woman I was seeing over the summer, and am basically just. . .well, I guess I’m not waiting for anything – I already know things are over, I’m just not eager to move on.  I found out a moderately close friend from gradschool got married and had a daughter, kind of an after-shock after the Firecracker.

That’s what I get for sending out a “new contact information” e-mail to the third round of peeps; or perhaps what I get for hermiting out for a year. 

I hereby pronounce today the day of sudden news and trouble surrounding female friends of old, particularly ex-girlfriends.   

I don’t mind letting people go (I say, perhaps unconvincingly) – I mean, if you’re friends with someone you have to let them have a chance to make exclusive connections with people, which means, more or less, getting out of the way when the time comes.  However it’s hard to be reminded about the things you love them for, in light of the fact that you will probably never experience those qualities in the future, at least not on any kind of consistant basis.  So while I’m glad these people are (almost) all doing well, there’s also a kind of resignation involved in my hearing about, say, the GlobeTrotter’s new man, or two of my exs being on better terms with each other than they are with me, or the Firecracker’s son. 

Her son.  Good God.

Blergh.  I think what’s really bothering me is that I’ve lost nearly all my close confidants from the past 15 years or so.  That’s hard, even if I’ve lost them for the right reasons.  And it’s interfering with how I really ought to feel, which is largely happy for other people’s good fortune.  Should I expect that people will not progress with their lives, not make large changes, not, essentially, grow?

I’m taking my emotional unreasonableness and jealousy and going to bed.

Tattoo

Decidedly an “eh” response on this one.

I liked my design, but the kid’s execution was poor. However, the good news is it’s nothing that can’t be fixed with a second pass after this one heals up and lightens. I’m not regretful per se – but had I gotten luckier, I’d be happier. He had a light touch but was slow – I was in there for two and a half hours. Still, I’d much rather spend the time than have someone carve you in and out. So I guess I'd chalk this up, overall, as a 7 out of 10.

Time for Neosporin and SaranWrap.


Summer Draws to a Close

Although I will return to New England, it seems there are a number of "last things" I'm noting. The last trip to the library, the last jaunt to a favorite resturant, the last bike ride of the summer. I'm sure that all these "last things" will be promptly forgotten, much as all the "last things" in my past are - when was the last time I ate at that Thai place in Boston before going off to grad school?

Anyway, as to the last bike ride, woo-hoo for me. I didn’t get to do my desired century (100 bike miles in 24 hours) although I came close at 75 a few weeks ago, nor did I do my desired run out to Providence. Those plans were made before the summer made its shape plain, but fuzzy goals are better than none at all. Today though, as my “final” pre-LS run in CT, I did a nice 55 mile jaunt through the Western hills – which is pretty tough stuff. I was on Route 44 for a good while, which is no picnic. To give you an idea of how steep some of the hills are, I got up to 45mph on one of the descents – with minimal peddling. You really start to think about how carefully you tightened crucial components at that speed. Anyway, what is gone down one way must be climbed on the return. I started heading back when the light started failing.

I feel so much less like an old man when I’m done with these long rides. At the beginning of the summer, I’d have difficulty walking up the short flight of stairs to the second floor (shower/room). Now I feel like I could head out again for more. Except I have my tea and my cat.

Man, it’s going to break my heart to leave El Gato Perfecto here. She knows I’m going since all my stuff has been packed up. Yesterday, she hid in my backpack. I didn’t realize until I went to pick it up and noticed how heavy it was. I feel horrible about this.

Field Guide to the Scoplaw

Physical Description – the scoplaw stands about 5’6” and weighs approximately 135lbs.  Hair is sparse (and unfortunately growing sparser on the forehead) and multi-colored.  Dominant colors, which vary by location, are black, honey brown, bright red and grey.  A variety of facial hair configurations have been cultivated at various times.  The scoplaw’s eyes are ambiguously colored, described most often as bluish/greenish, they have also been been described as hazel or grey.   The eyes seem to be the most consistently noted feature in various commentaries, but the scoplaw personally thinks this is silly.  Other distinctive body features include attached earlobes, tattoos, and second and middle toes of equal length.  The scoplaw does not bruise easily and, when healthy, heals from various trauma injuries quite quickly.  The scoplaw has never broken a major bone, despite a number of situations that seemed to call for it. 

Habitat and Range – the scoplaw can be found all over North America and in parts of Europe, usually never more than 50 miles from the coastline.  The scoplaw usually creates a small den which lasts for approximately one calendar year before moving to a new location.  Scoplaw dens can vary depending on their geographic location, but almost all feature a selection of unfortunate blazers, several shelves of books on rather esoteric topics, jars of spices, and slightly dated electronic equipment.  Red, Green, and Black are dominant color schemes.

In the wild, most scoplaw sightings occur either on public roadways, where the scoplaw impedes the flow of traffic, or in close proximity to libraries or large concentrations of poetry.  The scoplaw has often been seen in and on various bodies of water, and more rarely, in trees. 

The scoplaw has been known to cover long distances in all weathers, either by foot or by the aid of various mechanical devices of his own creation.

Social Organization – the scoplaw is a largely solitary animal, though it displays great social ingenuity at times.  For any given day, the scoplaw will spend most of its time alone, either providing for itself, or engaging in post-provision recreational functions.  Activities include various oral/aural practices (including the scoplaw reading aloud to himself), playing with a small furry animal, and scribbling away on paper/pecking away at keys.  It is not known what function these activities serve.

Social activities tend to center on a small group of friends and a larger group of acquaintances.  The scoplaw often deliberately disappears when acquaintance demands/requests exceed a certain threshold.  The scoplaw is largely wary of television and video games, but has been known to indulge, especially in winter periods.  The scoplaw dances, but never when asked. 

Disposition – the scoplaw is famously cool-headed and quite difficult to provoke.  Gunshots, skidding cars, belligerent natives, attacking dogs, various psychotic or merely hysterical behaviors, bicycle accidents, public heckling, and living in Yankee-ville have all been met with a calmness described, alternately, as “admirable” or “creepy.”  The exception to this is the scoplaw’s unfortunate tendency to make cutting and often highly inappropriate comments when in particularly obnoxious social situations that offend his sense of fair play.
 
Mating Habits – the scoplaw is a monogamous creature but will change mates under special and limited circumstances.

Dietary Habits – the scoplaw ingests primarily vegetable matter with the odd tasty fish thrown in.  Highly spiced dishes are favored and new/unusual foods or combinations of foods are actively sought and experimented with.  Favored beverages include very dark and heavy beers, whiskey, vodka, and all kinds of juices, although the scoplaw drinks mostly water, and lots of it at that.  The scoplaw regards white wine as an unfortunate aberration, and will not touch “that pink shit.”  The scoplaw is known for carefully cleaning and preparing his food with his dexterous forelimb appendages.

Sanitary Habits – the scoplaw washes daily.  In fact, if the scoplaw could live in the water, he probably would.  A lack of gills poses a distinct problem.

Products Made With Scoplaws – it is illegal to hunt the scoplaw in most civilized countries.  No known products are made from this animal, although there are dim rumors of a black market for scoplaw tongues, as indicated by the number of people who have expressed a desire to cut it out.      

Narrative and Lyric and other Pairs

I’ve been thinking about the two a bit recently. There’s a kind of dynamic tension between them, with the narrative longing to pull poems into the sphere of the merely anecdotal, and the lyric longing to pull the other way into the gorgeously obscure. As with all dichotomies, this is a false one, but one to which the readership often subscribes. Well, subscribes insofar as the dominant reading drive (certainly from people who read largely prose) is to figure out the “meanings” of poems, to understand “what the poet is trying to say.” I think that many of the most popular poems tend to lean more towards the narrative, reserving, in the lyric realm, some clear sense of mood/emotion which manifests itself via tone or metaphor or a few good images. I’m thinking of Li Po’s ballad-wife, with the monkeys making sorrowful noises overhead, of Sandberg’s awed half-disgust at Chicago, of Hayden’s regret over not understanding his father’s love for him.

Is there a balance, or do we have to choose between a narrative infused with lyricism or a lyric with narrative structure? Apollo and Dionysus, Dionysian and Apollonian. Hmm. I’d like to work on a poetry that resists the “story” for a bit. In the two poems below, the first is probably more lyric, in that it moves around – there’s no concrete location and the poem is tied together on an emotional note. The second tends to hang its hat on a more traditionally developed argument – but do readers then dive into that argument, ignore the sounds, the textures? Is the second a specific “I” which the reader attempts to get *to* by navigating the poem the way one would navigate a mystery novel? Is the first a more universal “I”? Or is it the other way around?

**

I'm kicking all this about at H’s kitchen table. The Rockstar’s up in Boston, I’m here in CT with rain and cats and almost all my stuff packed away. I’m staring at a Chagall print, in all its glorious ambiguity, and thinking about a tattoo that I got to remind myself there are always more than two choices available to you. Tertium quid – it’s all about the tertium quid and escaping the either/or scenarios. I have coffee and have just warmed up my voice by reading some Whitman aloud.

It’s been an emotionally draining weekend – I’ve found out a number of moderately unsettling things, and the clock is ticking while I wait for resolution on several issues before I go to DC. These two things (or clusters of things) make me feel a bit trapped, a bit too dependent on others doing things so that my life can go on.

**

While I’d like to imagine myself cynical, I think I’ve been shocked a bit too often for that to be the case. I’ll come down in favor of a milder assessment of a somthing someone does, only to find out later, that one bit of information that makes me realize I was dead wrong about a person, and that the harsher assessment which I had rejected or previously set aside was in fact correct. I’m not sure why I do this, but I know I have this tendency.

I don’t like it when this sort of reassessment happens – I don’t mind it when people are assholes, but it’s harder when you judge wrong – there’s a sense of failure (of perception) and loss (someone who was previously OK magically transforms into a sphincter.) But that’s the thing really – the truth of matters always comes out in the end, if it takes six months or a year or five years or thirty years.

I’d like to think I’m a person who “wants to know” – meaning that I’d rather have the truth, no matter how shitty it is. I’ve always reacted with distain to the idea of the civilizing lie – or the lies on which our society turns. I think a lot of that attitude arises from, or has been reinforced by, the poetry writing and workshopping process. There is no room for self-delusion in poetry, not if you want to get good at it, at any rate.

Lately though, I wonder. I wonder if I don’t want to be lied to, to a certain extent. But that’s wrong - I suppose I’d just really like the truth to come to me on my terms, when I’m ready for it, when it’s convenient for me, which is simply childish.

**

I’m reading “Gideon’s Trumpet,” the assigned summer reading for GULC, and feeling alternately exhilarated and depressed; it’s a good read for the geekish like myself. I think the appeal of that particular narrative is a combination of ritual (the form through which the law is changed) and innovation, the clear progression/transformation of society via that law. From my perspective the law is lagging, lagging. There is much to do, much to do.

**

What a strange Monday.


The Weight of Stuff

I’ve been cycling through the old albums (part of the packing process). I guess that reveals my age – “albums.” Hmm. Anyway, I may have mentioned, but my proverbial desert island band is The Clash.

Today, during my “get off my ass and do some biking” stint about town, it was “Give ‘em Enough Rope,” perhaps best known for “Safe European Home” and “Tommy Gun,” but featuring the splendid “Julie’s in the Drug Squad” and “All the Young Punks.” I stopped by a public pool in the middle of my ride – I thought I was going to die prior to that. I’ve been off the bike about a week, and although that’s good in terms of letting my knees reset, and although my climbing time improved quite a bit, I certainly felt it on the hills – like I was wearing a big woolen blanket on my shoulders.

The pool thing was one of those great kind of humanity re-affirming moments for me. I arrived just as they were locking up and shooing people out of the pool. I tried not to make eye contact and just get into the water before they shut everything down. I was prepared to beg if necessary. The life guard was really amused – she grinned throughout the whole thing – me practically falling off the bike, doffing helmet, gloves, socks, and hopping in the water. Ah! Nothing quite like it. I sunk under for a bit, then got right out again. The lifeguard was still grinning, bouncing the key in her hand. I sloshed over to the bike (right by the gate) and as I passed the lifeguard I said, “Thank you – I’d propose marriage to you but I’m too wet.”
LG: “No problem – it’s fucking brutal out there (I love women who swear). How far have you ridden?”
SL: “About 20”
LG: “Fuck!”
SL: “Yeah.”
LG: “What are you listening to?”
SL: “The Clash.”
LG: “Sure you don’t want to get married?”
SL: “Thanks – gotta run.”
Cool and self-confident women are a great blessing.

Right now it’s Siouxsie and the Banshees. I have my coffee and my clove cigarettes – and boxes, dozens of boxes with everything going into or coming out of them. Do I really need 15 old T-Shirts? Probably not. How about 7 scarves? Nah. A keyboard that’s not compatible with the new computer? Paper scraps from binding which I might use one day as labels or spines? No, no. Business cards from a town I’ll never go back to? Brown shoe polish? (I have no brown shoes, nor have I had any in 7 years – what the hell am I doing with brown shoe polish?)

I feel like an archeologist: ah – here we have artifacts from the Scoplaw’s study of Islam in ’94, and here we have undated photographs which show him in the Mojave, and here a sheaf of extraordinarily bad poems which he thankfully had the good sense never to send out. What’s this? A folder containing a sketchbook, some watercolors, plans for a long-wheel base recumbent, never built. Here’s an old love-letter from someone whom I haven’t spoken with in 6 years. An envelope with a lock of hair and an inscription. A copy of one of my plays. A silk shirt I’ve never worn but don’t quite want to throw out, even though I’ll never wear it. Ditto for a pair of mittens someone knitted for me. Some old pipes (I no longer smoke them). A wok I used intensively for one summer, then never since. A fountain pen I love but which is too much of a damn pain to use. A candle from a birthday cake. A chain-mail bracelet. Stones – from a beach in Ireland, from a beach north of L.A., from the Caribbean, from my hometown. A much stitched and re-stuffed stuffed tiger I’ve had since I was 3. A dead passport. IDs for 4 colleges. A condom meant to be sent to someone for Christmas on which is stamped “Expiring For Love Is Beautiful, But Stupid.” A pin with a chicken on it and the words “So much depends. . .” A yo-yo – wooden. A wooden boat I made with my grandfather. A string of silver bells.

Blergh. I wonder if someone could piece together my life from all this shit.

I wonder if I could.

Best Jobs/Worst Jobs

As I get ready to leave the environmental engineering firm in which I work, I reflect on some of the best and worst jobs, long and short, that I’ve had. In no particular sub-order

Best:
Student Loan Specialist – I worked for two companies basically solving problems with loan approval, fund disbursement, repayment paths. I left to go back to Grad School.
Small College Teaching Assistant – I have never enjoyed going in “to work” quite so much.
Public Librarian – shitty pay, good work. Books!
US Census – excellent pay, outdoor work, only a few sketchy situations – but none involved dogs.
Admin at the Getty Museum – swank digs, good work, awesome work conversations.
Immigration work for a community advocacy group – good work to do, but a lot of driving hither and yon, meeting hesitant people in fields and factories. Again, a great sense of solving problems, making the system work for people.


So So:
Various Poetry Editing positions – a lot of dross to sift through, perhaps too much. Almost no money in it, a lot of argumentation, a lot of personal politicking.
Current job – decent pay, moderate stress, increasingly obnoxious coworkers/assignments as I leave. 4 months ago, this was in the above category.
Various bookselling jobs (Boston U., Borders, a used book store in CT) – overall good, I guess, except for the pay which was always only “just enough.” The more “retail” it gets, the more obnoxious and petty people become. Amazing how many non-readers are in the stores – or completely closed “one author” readers.
PhotoProcessor – a pretty good job with a lot of freedom/responsibility and good pay, but I had to deal with the public and their unreasonable expectations.
Admin at Playboy – sketchy/swank digs, good pay. Lots of fucked up people though.
Comic Book Writer, aka Graphic Novelist – what’s not to love except the miserable pay?


Worst:
Convenience Store Clerk – Left after 2 days and one shooting.
Medium College Resident Assistant – I’m just not cut out to be a cop/den mother for spastic adults who think they’re still children.
Cigarette Tax Stamper – hot, sweaty, covered in cigarette chemicals = no fun.
Assistant at a County Planning Department in the South – I bit my tongue every damn day. These people spent most of their time figuring out how to keep minorities out of their county.
Stockboy for Sears – another awful summer job.
Quote Generator for a Big Insurance Company – again, like the planning department, these guys were bastards. Work for a place like this and you’ll have no further compunction about sticking it to the man.
Admin for a Large Bank’s Mortgage wing – sort of like the insurance company but less racist. They did ask me to do a bunch of illegal stuff, like sending things out for approval without proper certification. Refuse (which I did) and you’re “not a team player.” No fun. Great pay though.


I think the absolute worst jobs I’ve heard of were held by two friends – one hooked live chickens onto steel hooks in a processing plant (mid-80s) the other had to door to door cold call houses for an extermination company, “Hello, your house looks like it might have roaches. . .” So I guess mine weren’t that bad.

Crazy Weekend with the Rockstar

Which actually, by design, began on Thursday – I jetted up to Worcester to see the 'rents (who live close to there) and then to catch a RockstarJ gig with Band Numero Uno. Sketchy, Sketchy Worcester. That area of town has bad lighting, pockets of darkness, lots of blind mouth-like alleys and store front recesses. Ambushville. At an earlier show, someone (not attending the show) was shot outside in the street.

The band did well, and I chilled with one of the bandies, The Swayer (based on her dancing style which accentuates her long hair.) Murph, RockstarJ’s roommate was there. God bless Murph. I’ve never seen him dance before – he has a completely un-self-conscious movement: by turns goofy, relaxed, and expressive. He kind of pulled people out onto the floor with him by the sheer uninhibited badness of his dancing. God bless Murph. I expect him to hold high political office one day and to get in a lot of trouble.

I was also hit on by CrazyGirl, much to the subsequent amusement of the band, who’ve also all been hit on by CrazyGirl. They have a song, which they played that night, called Crazy Girl – she does not know it’s about her. While that might seem cruel, no one really knows, plus she’s completely out of hand. Smart, funny, good dancer, a looker, but completely out of hand. Latches onto you like a remora. While all men are dogs, some of us have doggish standards or are simply snotty - apparently, CrazyGirl hasn’t landed anyone in the band, which must be driving her nuts, but then again, she’s already crazy.

After the show I ferried J back to CT, crashed, then dragged myself to work (Friday) 3 hours later. This would be the beginning of a long weekend.

After work, I hooked up with J and we drove out to Providence for another gig with a different band, DB. J, thankfully, drove. The DB is recently formed quartet, has a moderately famous guy in it (The Lion – a blond guitarist), plays a lot of J’s tunes, and is most certainly on the way up. They don’t have much of a fan base yet (this was only their fifth show), but J brings a lot of crossover people from Band Numero Uno and then there’s the people there to see The Lion. The set was really good – most of the people came for the opener, a decent local band with a lot of brass, but stayed late for DB. J, as usual, was brilliant – she had the baritone sax out for most of the show. The crowd digs the berry.

At the Providence show I again saw the Swayer, and met another local pair of quasi-groupies. Actually just one quasi-groupie and one sober female friend (The Wingman). They didn’t try to hit on me though, just sort of pretended to in order to get me to buy them a beer. It as kind of cute and awfully transparent – still, they seemed like interesting kids, so they got their beer and I got my amusement. One of them – the Wingman (the one who is all serious and thus can give the flirty friend an opportunity to pull away with, “Sorry, I’m flirty but have to tend to my serious friend”) and I had a decent conversation. It turns out she used to live near my college, did some local theatre, and that we knew a bunch of peeps. That totally changed the dynamic between us and she dropped the Wingman thing and was just a normal person. We talked about LA (she was one of the few NE-ers I’ve met who actually, like myself, really like LA), local theatre, odds ‘n ends. It turned out she’d heard of me (completely through the theatre co/plays) but hadn’t seen any of my plays. Ah – transient fame.

J and I crashed over The Manager’s house – a funny, prototypical Rhode Islander, who agrees with me that Terry Francona needs to have some kind of awakening. Things were relaxed. His buddy Piper came by and the four of us went till about 5am. At noon (sleep, yea!) on Sat. I rose from the torture device which masquerades as a couch, and J and I hit the road back into Providence proper to hook up for an afternoon with Rasputin. J, Ras, and I did the east side – chilled at RISD, talked about Greek art, went to the smokeshop on Thayer, got some good coffee. J and Ras had a way-over-my-head conversation about music. As always, it was great to see Ras. Skellum was a no-show, tied up in stuff. Carlito was also AWOL, except I expect he was out of town tending to a relative’s health issues, as he had warned me he might be.

Then, later on Saturday, back to CT, for a third gig in as many nights, this time in Hartford, which comes in somewhere between Worcester and Providence in terms of a city to hang out in. The third gig was with DB, and this was by far the best show J’d put on that weekend – the crowd was really into it. I saw NutritionistJ, The Swayer, the DeafDrummer, and others. I also met up with someone from High School – kind of frightening always. We ended up at a friend of DeafDrummer’s for another 4am thing.

Needless to say, on Sunday, which was my birthday, I slept in and took it easy. J and I had dinner (sushi) and went on a bike ride along the Hop River. We tried to go swimming, but every place we went to was either closed or had kind of scummy water.

All in all though it was a splendid birthday in that nothing bad happened. Normally, I associate my birthday with all kinds of disasters and freakishness. In recent years though, I’ve kept things moderately chill, and I’m very happy with that. I turn off the phone, don’t look at the e-mail and try to disappear, either alone or with some friends who know I don’t want to make a big deal out of things. Many times it works out well – this time it did.

Well, that’s it for the craziness. The muse is tapping on my door, mildly perturbed, but not, I think, exactly angry. I did learn several interesting things this weekend which I plan to entice her with. In fact, I’d best be about that.

Funky Mike

I spoke with Carlito on the phone today and am listening to a FunkyMike album (feeling the Providence Vibe.) I might get to see these guys again on Friday. Tres Cool.

Here's a website for FunkyMike's band.

So you want to like, um, meet?

Scheherazade's going to be in Boston/Cambridge and has made a general "e-mail me and we might meet" post. (Such an awesome name! It's hard to Sherry/i it.) Alas, I wish I were in Boston today! Instead I'll be in Worcester, for one of RockstarJ's gigs, plus family things. It should be a full night.

Friday night (and Saturday am) will find me in Providence, the city which I love. Hopefully I'll be able to hook up with some Providence peeps including Skellum and Rasputin. RockstarJ is playing another gig downtown. There will probably be some mild drinking and some poetry. I will most likely visit the cursed fountain. I will invoke the spirit of Lovecraft. I will chill with the bikers at the Haven Brothers mobile diner. There’s really nothing like a summer night in Providence. Alas! No Waterfires on the weekend, but at least that means parking will be easy to come by.

But I thought I'd steal a page from Scheherazade (if you're going to steal, steal the best): If anyone would like to go to the show, or would like to meet up in Providence, send me an e-mail, and we'll make plans.

Escapist Anthem for the Day

I don't wanna grow up
Tom Waits

When I'm lyin' in my bed at night
I don't wanna grow up
Nothin' ever seems to turn out right
I don't wanna grow up
How do you move in a world of fog
That's always changing things
Makes me wish that I could be a dog
When I see the price that you pay
I don't wanna grow up
I don't ever wanna be that way
I don't wanna grow up

Seems like folks turn into things
That they'd never want
The only thing to live for
Is today...
I'm gonna put a hole in my TV set
I don't wanna grow up
Open up the medicine chest
And I don't wanna grow up
I don't wanna have to shout it out
I don't want my hair to fall out
I don't wanna be filled with doubt
I don't wanna be a good boy scout
I don't wanna have to learn to count
I don't wanna have the biggest amount
I don't wanna grow up

Well when I see my parents fight
I don't wanna grow up
They all go out and drinking all night
And I don't wanna grow up
I'd rather stay here in my room
Nothin' out there but sad and gloom
I don't wanna live in a big old Tomb
On Grand Street

When I see the 5 o'clock news
I don't wanna grow up
Comb their hair and shine their shoes
I don't wanna grow up
Stay around in my old hometown
I don't wanna put no money down
I don't wanna get me a big old loan
Work them fingers to the bone
I don't wanna float a broom
Fall in love and get married then boom
How the hell did I get here so soon
I don't wanna grow up

The Boyfriend Thing

I’m just not down with the boyfriends. It’s not that I secretly lust after my platonic female friends (well, no more than is average and healthy and expected). It’s not that these guys hate or resent me (I’m a master at that dog-sniff-dog, ‘Hey, dude, nothing to worry about.’ vibe. Long practice.). It’s not that I’m jealous of them. It’s that I’m just cursed or something. That’s the most rational explanation.

Take for example, my best friend from undergrad, The Firecracker. Firecracker and I did the commiseration thing, the study thing, the daily breakfast/dinner thing, the backrub thing, the shared-secret thing, but we never ended up in bed, nor did we even kiss. Although no one really believed that, which caused problems sometimes, our relationship was perfectly acceptable to us both. We swapped boots, wrote poetry, smoked cloves, went dancing, read tarot, dyed (and braided – ah, the glory hair-years) each other’s hair, visited in the summers, were each other’s wingmen, and generally raised hell (Firecracker and I were two of the original founders of a politically focused Theatre company – we co-wrote a play and jointly worked on 3 others). But the boyfriend dynamic sucked.

Firecracker got around – basically in a healthy kind of way. The one guy she dated intently, the one guy whom I really liked (who temporarily changed the dynamic between the Firecracker and I with his presence, although I was the odd third for lots of things) turned out to be gay. Or Bi with stronger gay leanings. Whatever – who can classify these things? Obviously that didn’t work out.

The one guy I hated, who just rubbed me wrong from day one, whose ass I seriously considered kicking for some of the shit he pulled, well, they’re married now. It’s a good marriage and things are well (haven’t spoken with them in a little while, so I knock wood). Firecracker’s Husband (just boyfriend at the time) and I made up, had a meeting of the minds, worked on a number of very cool projects together and became good friends.

Actually how that happened was rather funny, worthy of Firecracker at her best – Firecracker and FH had moved to Boston and I was still in Providence. I hadn’t been in touch with them in several months due to bizarre circumstances – during this time FH came clean with a number of things and totally made up for his previous invite-the-ass-kicking behavior. Firecrakcer invited me up on the pretext that FH was spending the weekend in NYC. (I’d have gone anyway, but she felt the situation had gotten to the point where she had to take matters into her own hands.) She picked me up from the station, drove me to her place, and inside there was a confused FH - “I thought we were going to the Cape?” resulting in a confused Scoplaw. Firecracker plunked a bottle of scotch (nice scotch – classy) on the table and said, “*I* am going to the Cape. You two idiots are going to stay here and do some growing up.” And off she went in the only car.

FH: Hmm.
Scoplaw: Yeah.
(pause)
FH: Want some scotch?
Scoplaw: Sure.

In a way it was oddly similar to the H “play nice” thing with Elegante earlier this summer. I think those are the only two times something like that has happened to me and it’s turned out well.

But, speaking of H, the reason why I’m making this post – she’s been seeing this boy (I reveal my prejudices by hesitating to call him a man) named Soundguy (or Soundboy). I have nothing really against this kid, except that H is at times desperately unhappy over him. He’s actually kind of nice. But anyway, I’ve been the crusty-male-friend-voice all summer, since H as a platonic friend rivals both T-Rex (which whom I had some epic, absolutely epic summers) and Firecracker, spouting off such lines as, “You know guys say that to get laid,” and “All men are dogs – no really, I’m a man; fucking dogs I tell you.” In any event it had no effect and H has decided that Soundguy is really “the one” for her. (Which I’ll freely admit to being kind of jealous of since no one has ever decided that about me.) So I’m stuck in that “support your friend regardless” mode – and while Soundguy is actually kind of nice (perhaps cool – who knows?), I’m still filled with that feeling of impending disaster. Still, I have to trust that she knows what she’s doing, and that I probably, despite our closeness, don’t know the whole story. Sigh.

Also, I just found out that after our epic Frisbee game, NutritionistJ dumped Digger (whom I had just named on the blog). I liked Digger. I hugged him when I last saw him. I wonder if he thinks I knew something. (NJ and I aren't super close, but we do talk.)

It’s that curse thing I tell ya.


Back by Popular Demand

In response to three random e-mails: alas, no names please Dear Readers - open secrets and all that jazz. I will relent somewhat, perhaps only because of the Sambuca, and post a pic of myself, taken this decade, within this past week in fact, and another of RockstarJ where you "can see her face." But crikey - if you can't figure out who I am or who she is, you really don't need to know, do you?

Scoplaw chillin in the humid night:

smallorangescop





RockstarJ gears up for a crafty horn thing:


RockstarJ










A Full Life

Perhaps due to my full belly (more blueberries and coffee!) but man, my brain is full this afternoon.

Recent doings:

**

H wrote from Australia – things are going really well. She was worried about her tour, constantly practicing. But it paid off as she apparently nailed all her solos just hours off the plane. Go H! I’d be lucky to be able to spell my name after a flight like that, let alone deal with something that complex.

Saw CoffeeGoddess and drank beer and sat on a porch by a lake and ate cannoli and talked about air-monitoring standards. She even fired up the Harley (still unnamed) but it was quite late by then so no ride.

Rockstar J and I went bicycling tried to track down The-Librarian-Whom-RockstarJ-Would-Marry-If-Either-of-Them-Were-Male. Apparently the LibMar is a roadie, reads lots of poetry, and generally kicks ass. This is the same librarian who used to live with the BostonBookGuy. I have wanted to meet her ever since I’d gotten to look over her massive personal library when I visited BBG sometime in the winter. RockstarJ might have to stand in line.

Later RockstarJ and I cooked up some food (she did jazz veggie things while I did something involving lemons and capers and peppers and fish) and drank a lot of Jagermeister and had a war council – we plotted what could be done with H’s house while she’s gone. J and I have a mission to relocate (at H's request) the most spastic of her cats. This will be a challenge. J’s thinking some excitable kid, I’m thinking a preserve somewhere. I like SpasticCat but everyone agrees he must leave that house. I kicked J’s ass in PuzzleFighterII – one of the TrombonePlayer’s areas of mastery. So J challenged me to a basketball game. This is gonna get ugly – I can tell.

Assorted domestic activity happened.

I found out, first hand, that an acquaintance, JovialFire, really can play the guitar.

Spent time bonding with El Gato Perfecto.

Got audacious and wrote a mixed poem I rather like – an aubade in sestina form. For my non-poetry peeps, the sestina is a fucking bear of a poem – it’s six sestets plus a three line (triplet) envoi. Instead of a rhyme pattern you use a repeating end word pattern where the same six end words are used for each sestet, in a particular non-fungible pattern. So basically, you’re using the same six words over and over to end the first 36 lines – and after that you have to use all six in a specific pattern in the three line envoi – two per line. So it’s challenging. This is the pattern:

1 2 3 4 5 6 - End words of lines in first sestet.
6 1 5 2 4 3 - End words of lines in second sestet.
3 6 4 1 2 5 - End words of lines in third sestet.
5 3 2 6 1 4 - End words of lines in fourth sestet.
4 5 1 3 6 2 - End words of lines in fifth sestet.
2 4 6 5 3 1 - End words of lines in sixth sestet.
(6 2) (1 4) (5 3) - Middle and end words of lines in tercet

(The above means if line-ending word number 1 is "wombat" you must then end lines 8, 16, 23, 27, 36 with "wombat", plus it must occur in the second line of the envoi.) Throw in meter or another constraint and it gets very dicey indeed.

Saw the last Matrix Movie. Two hours of my life I’ll never get back and another perfect example of the RPG “monty haul” syndrome – namely the more you scale the narrative toward the messianic or simply god-like the less interesting it becomes. Neo taking on three agents and stopping bullets - cool. Neo taking on howevermany smiths – less cool. Neo taking on SuperSmith in some kind of weird aerial demolition derby – quite boring.

Read a bunch – mostly lawish stuff. I’m amazed constantly by two things: a) the brilliant and insightful stuff these authors just kind of toss out there, and b) the seemingly completely obvious (and poorly articulated) stuff that I already know from my lit./phil. time. I’m really looking forward to this upcoming year – huge blindspots and odd but hopefully not completely useless strengths.

Almost got into an on-line LANGUAGE poetry-ish discussion but held back (well, largely due to time, not good sense. It’s an issue to revisit at some point in the near future.

Tried to wrap my brain around the Garciaparra trade. On paper the Sox are now better defensively, but I keep thinking that there’s massive cost involved in dropping some 200 (perhaps more) points of OPS from the shortstop hole, and about the same from first base (assuming that Mientkiewicz plays first, shifting Millar/Ortiz to the DH spot – unless you want Millar in RF in Fenway). I can’t decide if it’s a bad trade or not. I want to believe it isn’t. . . .but. . .ugh. Is Millar in RF and Mientkiewicz at first so much better than Millar in RF, Ortiz at first and using the DH to “rest” guys? Hmm. Hmm. Brain too full. Brain too full.

**

Tonight is going to be a sleep-night I think. Phone off the hook, fed fat cats napping. . .only the muse can sucker me into another 4am night.

The Sensuousness of High Summer in Connecticut

Today is a near-perfect day. We’re enjoying that mildly hot weather with lots of breezes, ruffling the greenery and creating the best kind of fall-asleep-in-a-hammock music. I’ve just come back from a bike ride around one of the small CT lakes – I’m spending the day with RockstarJ and we’re at her parent’s place. She’s just jetted off to southern CT for a paying gig, and I’m spending the afternoon in a hammock, working on poetry and drying off from a swim. Ah, the decadent life. Whirlygigs, wildflowers, that marvelous wind through oak-leaves sound, people walking dogs, cats lazing on potting shed roofs, drying sand flecking off your toes, fast moving pure white clouds on a pure blue sky, the perfect just-giving curve of a taut hammock, chipmunks zipping from woodpile to deck-shadow, no bugs (side benefit of the breeze), the scent of flowers and woodsmoke. This is the kind of day where you’re only motivated by hunger, and not too damn much at that. I’m close enough to bicycle into the town where I work and see the Polish Bakery Girl. Hmm.

And were not even into August – which is my month above all other months. I have spent summers (or large parts of summers) living in all kinds of places – e.g., the Maine coast, inland New Hampshire, the Cape, Scotland, LA, NYC, Boston, Providence, Arizona, the South. However, I honestly have to say that I love central Connecticut. That’s a near completely surprising thing for me to say, given that I spent years 8-18 plotting and praying for my escape from here. I think it’s hard to beat a Providence summer night, esp. a Waterfires night (the day’s are so so). I also have a fondness for the ocean – so it’s hard to pass on the Cape. But even so I do love Central CT, certainly the high summer.

Yesterday went well – the concert was pretty impressive, with the two best sections being a tossup between RockstarJ’s Latin jazz kids (Los Perros Calientes) and Topper’s Trombones. All in all the kids did really well, and it was worth the price of admission to see RockstarJ in civilian teaching clothes. I swung by a bit early and hung out at a museum and a greenery where I had an odd but engaging conversation with the (florist/green-er) guy there. We discussed pottery for about a half hour – odd, since I haven’t had the chance to do that in awhile. (I knew some potters in the South but they never wanted to talk about what they did – always a bad sign I think.)

After the concert, J and I went to the Bidwell Tavern for dinner and drinks – the Bidwell is one of those east-central CT institutions, located in Coventry (I think – I always drive through Coventry to get there.) Afterward we chilled at H’s and J got tipsy and sang a bunch of E.Fitzgerald tunes. Apparently there are some tensions in two of her bands – she’d like to shake things up and do, say, a torch song or two, but each of the bands are into “their own sound” and are resistant to the idea of covering or writing something that strays too far from their default “sound.” Which strikes me as a recipe for being boring. I think there’s a poetry parallel – often I see poets enamored of their own voices to the point where they become constrained by them. Sometimes, when I’m teaching (and for myself when I’m not) I ask my students to take a survey of their most recent poems (generally about 25). I ask them to list the style, number of lines, and to note any parallels (lots of long sentences, lots of dialogue, lots of fragments, etc.). The goal is to figure out just what you’ve been doing with your time and hopefully expand your stylistic repertoire, or at least reduce your dependence on the “easy thing” (whatever it is) that creeps into your poems. I mean, there are promising poets out there who have never written a three line poem. (In part, I think, because of the constraints the publishing industry places on writers, but that’s a topic for another post.)

Today had the potential to be another crazy run around day. CoffeeGoddess is having a shindig out at their lake – and while I’d normally be up for that it would involve a) talking about work, for which I am not in the best frame of mind, and b) drinking heavily and engaging in water activities. Although there were (and doubtless will be) many weekends where I’d kill for such, I currently just need some non-social chill time.


Below is a picture of RockstarJ and MightyJoe going to work - it's from the music festival.

juice61


Trembling in the Gate

I took H to the airport this morning – things went well, no troubles or worries. She seemed excited for Australia, even though she had a few unresolved things here. Sometimes though it’s best just to take a break and let things settle instead of constantly stirring them. Her being gone (and me feeding her cats) means I have a few projects at her house to entertain me – cleaning off her porch (did we really drink that much beer this summer?), arranging for her most spastic cat (MonkeyCat) to be taken by one of her exs, hauling away a yard-trash pile, generally trying to get some shit in order for her. It’ll give me something to do on boring Tuesday afternoons.

Other than that nothing very exciting – we had a small farewell thing for H last night. TheatreManager, NutritionistJ, RockstarJ, and the Jr.Bandie. We had pizza and chatted. Later today I go to see RockstarJ’s kids play their final concert – she’s been teaching a jazz band camp this past week. She used to run it but scaled back to teaching for this year and is much happier for it.

The social circle has now changed with H gone. It will be interesting to see what happens since she was the locus for much of the social activity. I’m not sure who I’ll run into before late August, which makes encounters with people like Jr.Bandie kind of, well, not really awkward, but just end with things sort of up in the air. You don’t know when you’ll see them again (if ever) so it becomes odd when you say goodbye. Still, I’ll be coming back to visit H, who’ll be storing the Scopmobile for me, so it’s likely I’ll see most of these cats before the Winter Holidays.

Seeing H pack and go has made me mildly anxious about GULC. I have everything I’m currently not using squared away. I’ll just need to take everything out and double check.

I feel like I’ve joined the Navy or something – all my time (School v. Free) can be mapped out for the next 3+ years. Granted, I don’t know where I’ll be or what I’ll be doing for the summers and holidays and so forth, but it’s both relieving and constraining to give up 4 month blocks of time to the institution which is Law School. I am beginning to have vague second-thoughts. Just vague ones though – if I weren’t in school I’d be slaving 40+ hours for a so so wage for the next 30+ years of my life. Granted, I’d be able to call the shots in terms of where I live and what I do for the next 3 years, but really, that’s the only thing I’m giving up by going to law school (as opposed to temporary constraints for my other activities). I’m still going to have to log the 40+ hours in school. But the law school pattern will at least mean a life of at least moderately interesting and relatively stable slaving, with more elements of it on my terms than my current paradigm would allow for. As a fringe benefit to this, perhaps one day I’ll even own a house. That’s a thought.

I think one of the factors making me twitchy is the waiting. But I was like this before grad-school (both times). I know that when I actually get material to wrangle over, when my understanding is at stake, I’m going to thrive - hence I expect law school to be something of a joy. But I've always been a geek that way - some of the happiest times of my life were spent ploughing through esoteric literary theory in various college libraries in preparation for a presentation or a paper. When I'm given something to know I just can't stop until I know it.

3 weeks to go. 3 weeks to go.

3 weeks is an odd time. Nothing can happen in 3 weeks or your life can change entirely. I think mine will fall somewhere between those poles.


Shooting the Messenger

I offer up a general prayer of thanks for those who do not do this.

Throughout this summer I’ve had to bear bad news to a number of people – sometimes, dealing with issues out of my sticky past, I viewed myself as the news, as though my mere presence would drag unwanted memories to the surface, or my own (free) choices might somehow cause anxiety and distress to third parties. I think, due to my cutting and often unrestrained mouth, I have a great capacity to hurt people that I know something about. Buttons marked “Do Not Push” are generally very obvious to me, generally kind of tempting if I feel backed into a corner. My predisposition to push them is not quite the scorned bardic thing, nor driven by sheer Loki-ish maliciousness, as with Bricriu the Bitter Tongue, but well, when I’m actually reduced to the level of fighting, I simply fight to win. All this generally means two things: 1) I’m normally loaded for bear in tricky situations and 2) I generally have a worst-case scenario-plan sketched out in my brain.

Last night was something of a departure for me since while I had to have a domestic discussion with my HousemateJ, who is more or less my landlord, I was prepped for 2 but not for 1. My heart just wasn’t in it. However, all went well; HJ proved to be very understanding and was at his usual unflappable best. Part of me does not even think he was surprised by what I had to tell him. Anyway, it’s all good.

That’s been the surprising thing about the summer – I keep gearing up for stuff that never happens. I’ve had a lot of things come to a head recently and they’ve thusfar turned out well. In fact, the closest thing I’ve had to a fight with someone came a few days ago – RockstarJ and I were both in crabby moods and kind of randomly fired comments and complaints around. We weren’t gunning for each other, but there was some minor friendly fire damage to both of us. No big deal, no harm done, but man, never ever let me fall afoul of that woman.

I hesitate to write all this in the blog out of sheer superstition. It seems that whenever I pronounce something dead here it springs up again, whenever I say something’s done it proves to have another step I’ve overlooked. That’s part of the danger in writing about the future in general – it’s far safer to write about the past, comfortably fixed, or to write about the self, supremely malleable via delusions and blind spots, or to comment about what’s happening in the world. When I write “It’s all good,” or “No big deal” – well, that just primes part of me to wait for the other shoe to drop. Honestly though, in these cases, I think it well may be.

Anyone out there ever read Colonel Paul Emil von Lettow-Vorbeck’s memoirs? They’re great in that Vobeck often writes what he expects will happen, then details what actually happened, then explains how he had to alter his thinking about things.

Out of the Woodwork

I am furious. Absolutely fucking furious.

Today, via connections involving someone recently returned to the office I found out about the secret “spot bonus” structure in the office. Apparently, it’s routinely given out to a particular Drama Queen whose fat I’ve bailed out of the fire more than once. She’s a stress-bunny who spends most of her time complaining about the impossibility of the work schedule (I, on the other hand, just do the damn work and spend my downtime in more pleasant pursuits.)

Inequity, inequity. Here’s an example – I was asked to go help move one of our satellite offices. It ended up being just me and the local guy. I spent a week in a neighboring state, driving hither and yon, sleeping in a dumpy hotel, hauling boxes in the rain, coordinating things with movers and tech guys, eating moderately bad food, and losing some of that hard overtime by arriving back home wiped out around noon on Friday – no bonus. DQ spends a day (half day actually) taking public transport to the same (now set up) office to train the new office person – spot bonus equal to a whole goddamn week of pay for me. I have good evidence this happens routinely. Basically this practice amounts to creating a hidden pay-scale that I’m not a part of. And to think of all the times I listened to (and commiserated with) the Office Manager (who has huge influence on these bonuses) and her friend DQ bitch about pay. . .oooh – it makes my blood boil.

Now, my professionalism was sorely tested when, early last month, everyone got raises except for myself. The OM had known I was leaving (I kept them appraised as a professional courtesy so that they’d have plenty of time to advertise for/interview/train my replacement) and apparently decided, well, I don’t know what the hell she decided, beyond that she wasn’t going to give me a raise - even though I had yet to tender an offical resignation.

Although I have 2 weeks to go, today is the day I stop working. Fuck ‘em. Let ‘em pile up the short-timer crap work – any guilt I’d have felt over not pushing to get it cleared out is gone, paid off in advance. I’m leaving at my regular punch out time and calling in if I damn well feel like it. DQ can have some real drama for a change.

Sometimes I worry that I need to burn bridges (mentally- not real life “contacts”) to leave a place or make a change. While I know that’s not true (I’ve left good things for various reasons) it still seems like somehow I almost always have nasty things pop out of the woodwork at the eleventh hour. Then again, sometimes they pop out in the eighth hour and I just stick around because I have to. So basically I don’t know what I’m saying.

Ah well, this will have to be a private and subtle seethe. There are too many good contacts company-wide that I don’t want to piss off by acting bratty.

Grr.


Lathed Down

Yesterday was planned as a scramble errand clean the house shop and prep then collapse day. And so it was. But everything is back on track now and I don’t feel like anything has slid by me and is waiting to pounce. After all this frantic law school ap activity then organizing all my things and having plans change, then change again, then having the bottom fall out of my personal life, then having all kinds of “must do” things pop up in my life: well, it just feels a bit odd to say, “Things are cool. I have seen who I needed to see, said what I needed to say, done what I needed to do. I have provided against disaster. I am ready. I am free to do anything, really, over the next 4 weeks, at which point I’ll still be ready, at which point my law school experience will formally begin.”

There are a few things I do want to do with my time of course – I have to finish the latest MS and send it out, I have to visit FormerCop in a neighboring state, I have to spend some time with the rents and the grandparents, I ought to take Elegante out to dinner, and I have one more form to send into GULC. But these are catch as catch can activities – I no longer have to put off going out with friends until after my “day work” is done. Plus I have finally shut down a whole bunch of secondary activities which I had adopted knowing I’d have to give them up in time. This is good because I might be tempted to burn my remaining time by squeezing off that one last bike (doubtless for someone who’d never ride it) or binding up a few more books, or finishing that last piece of furniture, or making that last adjustment to the car. Done, done, done, done. It’s kind of dizzying – my free time, my freedom. I fear I’d go out of my brain if I didn’t have to work 40 a week. That’s such a wrong fear to have, but there you go. I’m sure I’ll get over it in a few days. I think I ought to resolve not to make any plans – to just hang with H, RockstarJ, El Gato Perfecto (it will break my heart to leave her in August), and my other friends and acquaintances.

I have to say that I feel like I have turned a corner, or have been reset. I don’t feel different per se, or that I’ve changed, I just feel like some kind of line has been drawn across my life, that I’m stepping into something new, that I’m ready for it, that my mental and physical worlds are in alignment, in a lean learning/travel, law/bicycling/poetry mode.

Bonus yesterday (i.e., on top of groceries, cleaning, organizing, washing): a good poem, a poem-sketch, a promising draft, much more human feeling legs, and a happy cat.

In the evening, H, RockstarJ and I cooked in and attempted to watch a movie. Actually the rockstar cooked this time around (H does not cook – J and I swap off). She has a special jazz-cooking technique where she lays out all the ingredients on the counter then kind of attacks them, shepherding them into crazy combinations and forcing them into pans. While this highly alchemical process is happening no one is allowed near the stove. The only other person who has cooked for me this way is my friend Gabriel. Both are brainy musicians. Both are skilled writers. Both are funky dressers. Hmm. The highlight was some kind of immensely tasty apple and pepper thing – I saw maple syrup and cheese other things go into the pan. Gabriel taught me it’s best not to watch too closely; just enjoy the final result.

The movie essentially didn’t happen though. J made it through about 10 minutes before dozing off and I was toast about 10 minutes after that. H. by comparison was on crack. She abandoned us to go out and did all kinds of bar/pool/hanging with strange sax players activities. I don’t have much time to trump her. She’s leaving Friday. In fact, tonight might be my last viable night to cause trouble with her before she leaves and I relocate. (I’ll be visiting, she’ll be visiting, but that’s a far different dynamic than just hanging out, working/having fun in tandem.


Mud

Well, the music festival was fun. Lots of mud – lots of neo-hippies. I got kinda bored at points, but it was well worth going to in no small part because I reclaimed my status as a Frisbee god. Well, more of a minor deity, but still, there was divine action happening. Everyone has a bevy of useless skills – most of my friends hack, which I’m only so so at. I, however, am down with the Frisbee. NutritionistJ, Digger, myself, and the occasional odd fourth played for four hours. At one point we had a small cheering section on the hill next to the meadow next to the main stage on which we were playing. There is a price to be paid for all god-hood though. Today my legs feel like they’ve had lead fishing sinkers implanted in them, my left wrist is bruised and red-dotted from deflecting (I had to go to one hand by the end of the day) and my right (throwing) hand has lost all the skin in the first digit of my middle finger. I played bloody, but it was worth it. I also got lobstery from the sun, but that’s fine. Oddest moment – I was going to tap the Frisbee (a heavy regulation one) with my finger, but some kind of freakish physics thing coupled with a design flaw let me pop my finger right through the center of it. Very Karate-Kiddish. Actually, I think the stamping on the outside went a bit too deep into the plastic, weakening it at that point.

Other than that it was largely a cold camping experience with lots of wet, lots of mud, lots of neo-hippies (which don’t nearly do enough with face painting, blowing bubbles or just being cool; it seemed like a race in how-quickly-can-I-get-fucked-up one-upmanship, which, while initially amusing, kind of pales by the end of the second day.) Some friends of mine kept mentioning the poetry thing to people who wanted to talk about writing but I didn’t follow up on it. Classical musician hanging with a garage band? Same kind of vibe. (Not to sound disdainful/snotty or anything, but I really wasn’t in teaching mode, nor was I in tolerating enthusiasm w/ little technique mode, and franky, you just have to be in one of those. Sometimes you just want to be a ghost and observe.)

RockstarJ was at her rockstarriest, headlining and sitting in. Tons of Duende – she was set up on the right side of the stage for both of her longest stints; each time the center or left mike did something you’d see the audience (2-3 thousand) collectively shift their heads toward that mike, then immediately shift back to J. She was easily the most dynamic musician there.

It was very odd to hang out with her since in the two days after she went on she couldn’t go more than 10 feet without someone stopping her to talk about the show. Of course it helps the drunkards spot you when you’ve got that purple dredlock effect going on (actually it was braided yarn, but the effect was purple dreds).

The Norwegian Fiddler (another friend) also did pretty well – more of a low buzz thing where everyone was talking about her but no one quite knew who she was. She used to be a classical voice major (she and J are at the same music school) so everyone was surprised at her singing, thinking she could only fiddle. She was sort of the stealth foil to J.

Odd car plans left me in Boston last night and it looks like the city’s just going to shut down for the convention. Best exchange between RockstarJ and SomeCallHimTim:

J – “So they’re closing down Storrow: how’s that going to work?”
(pause)
SCHT - “I don’t think it is.”

This is my last week with H. She leaves for Australia on Friday, so my beer-drinking Scrabble nights will be over for a bit, and I’ll be doing the trails solo or just staying on the road. I’ll be watching her cats and half staying at her house though – so she’ll be around in that absent-presence sort of way.

Let me just say that there was no human being on the planet who was happier than I was at about 10pm on Sunday night. That was when I took a long hot shower - the first in 3 days of sweat and mud and sun. I'd have invited all my friends to share my joy, but it was a private thing. Sometimes I think that if I could live in the shower, I would. Perhaps I can rig up some kind of mobile unit for GULC. Like the Popemobile, but with massage action.

Last random segue - SCHT (tall, skinny, theatrical, generous, and who can't say things about his secret work lest he go to jail) made one of his usual insightful comments. Aquaman - was there ever a more useless superhero. Actually we were talking about Joe Lieberman aka "entitlement boy" (ugh!) and SCHT pointed out that Joe was just like Aquaman - no one really knew what he was doing and no one really cared.


Veggies

Much better on the way out. 18.2 mph for the distance. Knocked down the hills early and went went went. The subsequent trail ride was not too bad in terms of strain, but it did completely wipe me out. NutritionistJ and her boy showed up (I’ll start calling him Digger.) Digger has a huge garden and brought all kinds of summer vegetables so tempting in the raw that it was a shame to see them go into the pot. I just balanced out all the good from the rides and the veggies by having a couple of “round power bars” aka “fat pills” aka donuts at work this morning. Balance, my life is about balance.

Speaking of veggies, The Unlearned Hand has decided to go vegetarian! Yea! Go Hand!

I’ve not eaten meat on a regular basis since well, I guess it’s about 5/6 years now, and before that I had been sliding away from red meat and pork (10 years?) to chicken/fish only, although I still ate plenty of items made with lard, etc. While I introduce myself as “a vegetarian” to avoid confusion, I hesitate to call myself a pure vegetarian since my body’s a bit wacky and does well only on a high protein diet. However, I can’t tolerate large doses of soy. That means in addition to vegetable protein, to augment my diet, I eat eggs fairly often and fish about 6 times a month. I’m also not a militant vegetarian in the sense that I check every single ingredient of every single thing I eat. However, I don't order/buy/cook/eat any kind of land or air animal. If there’s a vegetarian option (as in *completely* vegetarian or vegan) it's mine.

Prior to my current diet, I ate pretty much anything that moved and went out of my way to collect exotic dishes. My reasons for my current diet are mixed. I don’t think, like UH, that the meat industries are morally good businesses, so I’d rather not patronize them. Also, from a broader economic/environmental point of view, it would probably be better to use our existing resources to feed people instead of animals; feeding people directly with corn and soy and other vegetable products (instead of indirectly via fattening animals) produces less waste, involves less artificial hormones entering our bodies, and is, in general, healthier for you. Health would be another large factor. Eating a balanced diet of vegetables, fruits, and grains is simply healthier - not a lot of anti-oxidants and vitamins in beef, no matter who says it's for dinner.

Some people interested in becoming vegetarian are worried that it will be difficult to cook, or that they won’t have a balanced diet, etc. UH has a link to a good “starter” website for anyone interested in moving towards vegetarianism. In many ways kicking meat is like kicking anything else – the body gets addicted to the too-much-protein rush, just like it gets addicted to fats and sugars (often all three together in the case of say, a hamburger with ketchup). My suggestion would be to consider (if you’re worried about making the leap) phasing the new diet in, starting with, say, 4 or 5 meat free days a week. Eggs, rice, beans, vegetables (in salads, roasted, stewed, sautéed, stir-fried), wraps, pasta, veggie burgers, veggie dogs, peanut butter (and other butters), breads, fruits, juices, yogurts, cereals, granola – it’s pretty easy actually.

There’s also a whole category of dishes where you just substitute items in for meat – TVP (textured vegetable protein) and Tofu (found in any supermarket) are easy ways to begin switching over. If you make anything with crumbled beef (like chili, burritos, etc.) try Morningstar's crumbled "beef." There's really almost no difference in taste/texture and you cook it exactly the same way.

Meat, when you get down to it, is pretty bland. We dress it up all the time with spices, marinades, garnishes (all of which are vegetables or vegetable products). Cooking vegetarian also involves changing the “dress up” mentality. So, instead of rubbing a pork down with rosemary and making bland baked potatoes, or “swapping” a huge bland hunk of tofu for the pork and making the same potatoes, you simply, if you’re in the mood for something rosemaryish, make some roasted red potatoes and peppers marinated in olive oil and rosemary. Add in some beans (black, with garlic, pepper) or tofu (stir fried with mushrooms and onions), and you have a nice two dish meal, neither one of which is bland in any way. Don’t underestimate the power of salsa.

Lunch

Native blueberries and fresh whipped cream, sumatra coffee.

I might even try to feel bad about it later.

Maybe.

The Wake

I wake to sleep, and take my waking slow.

Well, the wake was odd – had to do a lot of personal explanation about what I’m doing, where I’m living, what my domestic arrangements are, what that says about my personal relations, etc. All in all it was moderately stressful. Part of me thinks it’s just rude to tell a family member, “It’s not your business what I’m doing with my life, where I’ll be going to school, etc.” That might sound really odd. (In fact, I hope it does.) The explanation is that a significant percentage of my family are the most frightful climbers – anything you say is slotted and classified; you are then told just where you fit on the scale of relative worth via returned unasked for information/commentary – “Well, so and so is doing *this*.” “Georgetown is nice, but why didn’t you go for Columbia – you know so and so at Columbia, yes?” “Well, you’ll finally be giving up poetry, right?” “Do you really think those side-burns are a *good* idea?” “You ought to gain some weight, you look like you’ll blow away.” “If I’d known you were going to drive that old car here, I’d have given you a ride.” “How much money will you be making?” No compliments without backhanded criticism, no genuine pleasure at other people’s good fortune, a bit too much relish taken in gossiping about failures, strong distrust of anything not planned out A-Z. My godmother still isn’t speaking to me – still hasn’t forgiven me for going to college when her son did not. Her son (FormerCop) and I are closer than many brothers. Does she know this? Yes. Does it matter? No. Sigh.

There but for the grace of God, or the grace of something, go I. I don’t like seeing that side of the family for too long – they remind me of the bad parts of myself, the parts I’ve been trying so hard to excise. I can get the same self-critique at a much cheaper price. Of course, there are some *very* good eggs on that side – PhotoUncle, FormerCop, Skibum, SmallCrusader, Firehorse. They’ve all broken from the family to some extent though, they’re all a bit “dark” and have pursued paths that weren’t mapped out for them. (You see it in the social grouping – these few are always outside, gathered together, drifting apart to converge elsewhere if too many “regulars” adhere to the conversation of the moment.) However, it’s still tough, even when they’re there. In many ways, were I rendering that half of my family into a composite, I’d characterize ‘em as brilliant, accomplished, professionally focused, and “functional” – but warm, supportive, aesthetically aware, nice even? A socially conservative and emotionally stunted three-drinks-a-day M.D., who is a gas with strangers and can still surprise you every so often with something from outside their strict sphere? Sounds about right.

Recently I had an interesting conversation with RockstarJ over the relative drawbacks of being completely ignored by a parent(s) or being raised in a horrible environment. We agreed that the horrible environment is probably better. Most of the truly fucked up people I know are like wolf-children, raised by the TV and their peers, with a broadly developed (yet shallow) sense of “me first.”

Speaking of emotional extortion, the Funeral was today. Ukrainian Catholic – very strict, a lot of lords and sinning and mercy-begging and death and dust and vertical relationships. In order to touch my great-grandmother’s coffin, I had to participate in the ceremony of Final Farewell, which involves kissing the cross. Well, I’m down with The Jesus, ya know? And I’m fine with other people who are way down with The Jesus. But that does not mean I’m denominational in any way, and genuflecting, bowing, cross-kissing, well, it might seem like simply honoring the deity, but from my perspective it’s tied into the entire church-obedience complex, especially when the church encourages such but limits the sacrament of communion to Catholics!. . .still, for Nan, I did it. I’m not sure if it was an act of capitulation or an extension of courtesy. I guess that’s the basic problem. I still know all the prayers though, which is weird.

The reception afterward was much easier – I got to flirt with octogenarian Ukrainian ladies who made varenyky and holubtsi (even some nalysnyky). Skibum and I caught up – it’s been awhile since I last saw him, when he swung by my place in the South on his way out to Colorado. FormerCop and I spent some time together and I made plans to visit him a few weeks from now. We all relocated to my grandfather’s rather sprawling house and did the drinking/conversing thing. I think my freak-out limit is now about 3 hours. Not too bad. And nobody talked politics, so that’s something of a blessing. The General did make a few overtures in that direction, but I joked my way out of it.

Tonight – poetry, poetry, poetry. Or reading, reading, reading. Anything really, to pull my brain back to me.

I’ll include a picture of myself, Firehorse and FormerCop, left to right.


blog3cousins

GG

Pelaghia "Bessie" (Surname omitted) died Thursday, (July 15, 2004) in Mercyknoll in West Hartford. She was predeceased by her husband, Joseph of 64 years in 1985 and is survived by her three children: Joseph (surname), M.D. of XXX, Brigadier General Ret. Bohdan and his wife Katherine (surname) of XXX and Alice (surname) of XXX. A very much loved and involved grandmother, she also leaves 18 grandchildren, 37 great grandchildren, and three great great grandchildren. Pelaghia, born in the obscure village of Ozania currently located in Western Ukraine at the Polish border, emigrated at the age nine, accompanied by older sister, aged 12, to join her parents already here. She attended St. Patrick's School in Hartford. Her father Stefan was an early founder of St. Michael's Ukrainian Catholic Church. She and her husband became deeply involved in church affairs and continued until the disability of age curtailed her activity. She also worked as a bookkeeper in the printing department at Traveler's and was fondly remembered by her superiors at her recent 100th birthday. A Requiem Liturgy will be held Monday, 10 a.m. directly in St. Michaels Ukrainian Catholic Church in Hartford, followed by burial in St. Michaels Ukrainian Catholic Cemetery in Glastonbury. Calling hours at the Talarski Maple Hill Chapels, 380 Maple Ave., Hartford are Sunday, from 6-8 p.m. during which time a Panachyda service will be held at 7 p.m. Memorial donations may be made to St. Michaels Ukrainian Catholic Church, 135 Wethersfield Ave., Hartford, CT 06114.

Elegante Encounter

Well, H took matters into her own hands and invited Elegante to RockstarJ’s gig last night. We were driving there in the car and she said, “Oh, Elegante will be there. I invited her. I told her I expect the two of you to play nice.” And we did, mostly. It wasn’t noticeably awkward at first, but we had our little moments when claws were shown – thankfully nothing came of it, although I looked over the edge a few times, as I didn’t, given everything else in my life, particularly feel like taking a bunch of critical shit from an ex. E was her usual tall, thin, imposing self: red silk and silver and denim, impeccable hair, icy comments, sarcastically overbearing (which was quite fun actually), critical, well-stocked with horrible anecdotes about Fox, for which she worked out in L.A. It was actually quite good to see her again.

She kept drawing stray men over, not in an awkward or deliberate kind of way, but it’s pretty normal to feel that E is generating some kind of eye-pulling field that renders anyone in her close proximity invisible, or at least persistently over-looked. Sometimes you’ll get someone who all the sudden “notices” you – as though E had pulled you out of a hat or something. Sniggering moment: single guy is slowly working his way toward us (I should say “her”) at the bar, probably with the intention of ordering and using that space to comment or say “Hello.” Didn’t seem particularly skeevy. Knowing, or not knowing, E reached out and cupped my ear in her hand (I wear a distinctive earring) and leaned in close and made some kind of comment about it. Single guy shrinks and fades – just absolutely fades – back toward the general knot of persons.

Oddest exchange of the evening:

E: So it’s strange to be back in CT; I keep running into people, hearing about people, it’s as though my past’s everywhere.
SL: Yeah, I know what you mean, but H is very pleased you’re back. She’s been talking about it a lot lately. (E and H used to live together, we’ve all known one another for [ack!] over 15 years.)
E: Why?
SL: Because she’s excited, I expect.
E: No, why is she pleased? (in a genuinely puzzled voice)
SL: (exasperated) Because she’s your friend, E. It works like that.

On the whole though, my reunion with E. was much less traumatic than I thought it might be. No need to wear bullet proof anythings. So it should be a good tail end of the summer in that regard at least.

After the gig, J, E, H, the Trombone Player and myself all relocated to H’s where the last of the Gray Goose was cooked, interior decorating was discussed and TP played some kind of bizarre metal comb instrument for us. I spoke about GG a bit. I want to share what I know of her, but didn't want the evening to turn on her death. That's a private thing for me. There was also a confusing I-Ching reading. I’m good with Tarot, but the I-Ching is beyond me. Mathematics perhaps. Or maybe I’m just more familiar with the Tarot, to the point where I have a kind of relational understanding of the card patterns, the way you might understand how relatives react to combinations of each other. Yet another useless skill of mine.

**

Nothing significant on the seven pillar front. A single poem – one that I like though, which is all that matters. No cornet time (although I have car/mouthpiece time). Reading lawish stuff during lunch and at night. Bicycled into and out of work on Friday – thinking of GG most of the way, it sent me into an odd timewarp, almost like when you’re driving and all of the sudden you have no idea what’s happened for the past half hour on the road because you’ve been both distracted and “in” the driving moment. I am almost completely packed and sorted to go to D.C. I keep wanting to go *now* and not wanting the summer to be over (still have to go swimming – it’s been a glaring oversight, although I’ve had the picnic reading, the poetry, the music, the biking, the long nights with friends, etc.) Actually, it’s been a fine summer. It shouldn’t be, but it oddly is.

**

The Wake is tomorrow. I’m mildly worried about my grandfather. He’s the kind of guy who needs to be fixing someone (he’s a doctor) to be truly happy. It’s as though he’s got all these interests he’d never pursue on his own, but once there’s a crisis or a situation he just uses that to actualize them. Although he didn’t do things like take his mother on long trips, it would be something he’d consider doing with others, for others, not on his own. (I mention this because he was thinking of going to Italy after his wife died, but his friends couldn’t make it – which means he might not go at all (gotta have someone with, someone for), which is a shame.) Now that his mom has died. . . Well, he’s alone in a big house, and I worry for him. Maybe one of the cousins could go with him. . .


Sigh.

My great-grandmother (which made her a great-great-grandmother) died yesterday, or rather I got the news yesterday. The details are still a bit muddled.

(In this respect my family really sucks and I'm moderately seething. Apparently she’d been given the Last Rites on Tuesday, after her lungs had filled up with fluid. Now, you might think this would be an important thing to spread about, to let people know! I mean when someone who is at her century mark, who never wanted to linger on, asks for the last rites, you know she thinks it’s time to go. And when that’s decided, they do. It’s that simple. She was a half-hour away, she was lucid, she knew me - I could have said goodbye. But this has happened before - vitally important information just stops dead at certain branchings and is later used as fodder weird guilt-trip attempts. But enough of that.)

Even though she was given the Rites (technically the Anointing of the Sick) on Tuesday, being the tough old Ukrainian broad she was, she promptly rallied and was sitting up in bed, eating, joking. Later though, things took a turn for the worse and she died, either Wednesday evening or Thursday morning – mostly of simple old age and weakness. I think she just thought it was time to go, having out-lived her husband and one of her son’s wives. I know she would not have been happy slowly wasting away, so I’m glad she lived long and got out relatively quickly and with grace. Can you ask for more?

I have immense admiration for my great-grandmother’s tenacity. She remained feisty and lucid right up to the end, even when confined to bed, as she had been these past two months. Prior to that, she’d spent the last few years in an assisted living facility, but still got around and was active. When she was still living on her own, she baked her own bread and cooked for herself well into her mid 90s. You just have to love that. I remember the Sunday dinners there very fondly. Her husband was a Pole, so growing up, we could always look forward to all kinds of extremely hard to prepare and bad for you food. I can still smell the kitchen, see the tables, the cutting board, the stove with its cauldron-like pots, the counter dusty with flour.

GG and my great-grandfather had a somewhat contentious relationship. At one point they carved out their territories. He had the shed and the garden, she had the house, power concentrated in the large kitchen. She used to hen-peck him: “GGF, go to the store and buy me some eggs!” Off GGF would go. “GGF, thanks for the eggs, go back and get me some cream!” Off GGF would go. He, however, had his revenge. He used to buy large bags of penny candy, then (this is when my parent’s generation were young – they had those large Sunday, after Mass dinners back then as well) he’d entice the kids out to the shed to give them candy on two conditions: 1) they had to eat all the candy right then, 2) they could tell no one about it. Brilliant! My child aunts and uncles became spastic, obnoxious terrors. They then refused to eat the food GG had spent all morning (and part of the evening before) cooking! GGF was a subtle man. I wish he had lived longer so I could have known him better. I still remember his immense garden though, and the grapes (he grew his own, on a trellis leading to the front door of their modest white house in Hartford.) Their house gave off an immense sense of time spent – of people settling into one place and shaping it.

In many ways the family was a typical immigrant family – keeping strong cultural ties to the old country(s) while encouraging their children to embrace the new. My grandfather and his siblings are pretty accomplished people – one’s a medical doctor, one was a dean of a major university, the third was a GULC graduate and an Air Force General. Their kids were the usual mixed bag of completely American types, hippies to doctors. God knows what to make of the crazy sprawl of cousins which is my generation.

But she did good, my GG. She got to hold one of her children’s children’s children’s children as a baby, and further, actually talk to her years later about her own life as a little girl, before the first World War.

What could be cooler than that?


Hot Date

Actually several - but tonight it's dinner with the Liquid Engineer and her boy, Radio God. RG is the only guy who I can make all my lame pop culture jokes to and be sure he’ll follow long. Radio God manages a record store and DJs.

I knew someone like RG in the south, boyfriend of a friend of mine, still nameless each. RG’s more active than the boyfriend though (Passive Potential?). Seems good enough. And the friend, the Philosophical Flapper? Eh. She’d probably have very strong opinions on whatever name I choose. Best to wait perhaps. She’s been having not a great time recently – phone tag isn’t working out well between us at the moment.

Is it a sign of my age that most of the people I hang with are couples?

The Liquid Engineer is someone whom I work with, the recipient of one of my many project bicycles, a mixte frame 10 speed. It’s like the one I made for the Boston Book Guy – functional, but nothing anyone would be tempted to steal. Actually, that should be it – the last bike built this summer. I have some parts but am junking them, plus I’m all set for the dorm (with the exception of a microwave), so that means no tag saling and no bike temptations. I have to do some fiddling with the Puch and Hush, but that’s it really. The mad scientist’s lair is now empty – it will probably remain so for several years. Sigh. Well, it was a fun year of bicycle building, and I can always go back at some point in the dim future, as I just did.

It’s odd since RockstarJ is playing in the same town LE and RG live in, but tomorrow night. That means two nights in a row in the same adjacent small city. My work peeps are all going to show up at the show tomorrow which will be odd. I brought one of them FutureTeacher along to a previous gig in her town – she became a convert and recruited others. Now we’re looking at potentially more. This particular band (J’s in several) is a sort of funk-jam band, suitable for chilling or dancing, so it goes over very well with the standard response from each gender. I may see Coffee Goddess and her boy at the show.

H took one of the components of her Master’s exam today – I hope she does not call me from a bridge somewhere. Depending on how that went I could be in store for an odd weekend (they’re burning off quickly, that GULC reporting deadline is looming large.) There’s also a possible Elegante run-in (not looking forward to that). Youngest Brother wants to get together, and I should visit el Padre (his schedule makes that tough though.)

Also – Bike (in and out tomorrow, I think). And poetry. And law reading (I’m taking the Posner really slowly and have been enjoying it, both on the surface level and on my own lit..thought analysis level). And poetry critiquing. Perhaps some poetry recording? I need a second body, another quarter brain, and twice as much time. I’d be happy doing any one of these things (and visiting any of my friends) for a 12-hour stretch, but it will be two here, two there, two elsewhere.

Too Early for This Little Camper

Ugh. Late night involving studying at H’s and some Gray Goose. Highlight of the evening was watching a video from her conducting class – it’s like ballet, but with two hands and a small stick. H’s teacher is a fairly well-known conducting instructor, has written a book on it, etc. It was interesting to watch her conduct and listen to his “coaching” voiceovers. I also played some scrabble with RockstarJ and lead with “Boaters” pulling off that additional 50 points. Sometimes the game’s in the bag out of the gate. I couldn’t play well after that though and she came roaring back, but never really threatened.

This morning I got up (little sleep last night, biked into and out of work [nice rainstorms both ways] – again, I feel like tar; perhaps on cycling days I need more salt or something) and stopped by the Polish Bakery on my way in and joined the small line. The guy in front of me had a 4 foot python draped over his neck. I thought “cool” (I’m terribly mentally articulate at 7:30am) just as one of the women behind me started screaming hysterically. Dude – scream if it’s coming after you. Don’t scream in the ear of a random stranger who is obviously looking at the same completely passive thing that you are. The snake/sheeking put me off my mark (again, it’s quite shallow this morning, no mean feat to do so) I left without saying anything and spent the first half-hour afterward indulging the spirit of the staircase, who is one of the most enticing, but fruitless of the regrets. I'm just not a screamer. I can't ever imagine why anyone would (well, beyond frightening something off or trying to attract attention).

Other key points of recent life: good chat with The Third Son – got him caught up on some personal Scoplaw glossip, also good poetry times: intelligent readers of my own work and my critiques seem to be doing what I wanted them to.

Last night I stayed late at work (another last minute proposal). We had beers on one of the principals though, always a nice thing in the office. Tonight H has some crazy plan for a trail ride as a study break. I may beg off and do some bike fixing/swapping. (Clicking pedal, changing racks, lowering handlebars as my body changes, etc.)

Polygraphy

AI relates an amusingly frightening story about polygraphy, more precisely how it's used.

I’ll chip in with one of my own. When I was in the south I spent part of my time working as a librarian (a hard-drinking librarian). The security officers for the library were local cops, mostly experienced traffic officers, so we got to see all kinds of great video footage and hear amusing stories. My fav (possibly) story comes from a cyclist/ex-marine cop whom I’ll call The Straight Arrow. SA told me that in the late 70s and early 80s “small” technology was still a unique thing in that area of the country. It was a big day when the local police hq got a photocopier. Shortly after, SA and some others caught a guy running through a field who they were 99% certain had knocked over a nearby liquor store. However, they had no hard evidence. So one of the officers did some quick work with a sweat/wristband, a phone cord, some tape, and the aforementioned brand-new photocopier. They wheeled the resulting contraption into the interrogation room and announced, “This is our new lie-detector machine, Leroy.” Then they hooked Leroy up and started asking questions (Hey, this is the South, remember?). Whenever Leroy gave them something they thought was BS, one of the cops, leaning on the copier, would roll his thumb across the “copy” button. The copier had been loaded with a sheet of paper that read, in some obnoxiously large font, “You’re Lying!” The cops would then triumphantly present the paper to the badly shaken Leroy – “You see, it says you’re lying. Why are you lying to us Leroy? You’re just making it worse for yourself!” Leroy, of course, confessed, gave up the location of the gun and the cash.

Oh, the humanity.

Actually hanging out with cops is very educational - I totally updated my flagging drug knowledge, and learned the best way to do many illegal things.

Put Down the Bag, Son, and Back Away Slowly

If it were possible to live on extra-potent vinegar potato chips and coffee (black, strong), I’d try to do so. I really would. And I would not care if no one kissed me ever again. That’s all I have to say about that.

Tonight I will be alone (El Gato Perfecto excepted, of course, as she always is, but HouseJ is in Maine for the week). I will cook something simple and spicy for myself and take a hot shower. I will scour my body and shave. I will change into a robe or a pair of old jeans and walk about the house in the cool summer air barefoot and bare backed. I will pack my bicycling bag for tomorrow and set it aside. I will read some poetry aloud without hunting through it for things I can use to spark my own work. I will read part of one of my law prep books just to read – retention be damned. I will play old mellow songs that make me happy, and sing with them badly (EGP will not mind). I will set the alarm and forget about it. I will sleep when I sleep to the sound of windchimes and leaves.

I will not have anyone over. I will not entertain. I will not go out. I will not write letters to anybody. I will not critique anyone’s poetry. I will not listen to anyone’s problems (there’s been a lot of that recently). I will not worry about the future. I will trust my friends (all of them) to live, to live well, to survive another night without a single thought (ha!) from me. I will not fix up an old bicycle. I will not clean the house. I will not exercise. I will not toil through the cornet scales. I will not listen to baseball while sorting through things. I will not worry about where I’ve been or where I am going.

Thus my plan is shaped.

On the other hand, the muse might come calling. And I’m just a dumb sucker for the muse.

Poetry, Ghosts, the Ephemeral

Another surprise from RockstarJ – two more poems made their way into songs. One I wasn’t surprised about, but the other (a very old and odd poem), well, I just wasn’t expecting it. Both were really good – the fiercely sweet leg-moving one sounded fiercely sweet and leg-moving, and the spidery damp-palmed one sounded spidery and damp palmed. I fear I am becoming spoiled. I’m also, with my limited musical knowledge, just amazed she’s doing this on a 4-track. That’s not a lot of tracks.

I had a good conversation with RockstarJ about poetry and ragas (and Vedas), which branched into a discussion of slant sound and how I write poetry. For example, when composing I generally “go after” something that’s not on the surface level of the poem, that may not be addressed by the poem at all – say, a color, a mood, a phrase from a piece of music, an image. The “meaning” of the words is sometimes a distant second – which surprises some people because my poetry is very linear, very progressive, very narratively rational. I just happen to think you can have both the wildness and the precision – depending, of course, on which categories mobilize each quality. So the “spidery” poem really is spidery sounding – had a spiderish quality – the “subject” in a sense, does not matter. Well it does, but not insofar as I’m making the poem be a spidery thing.

I also told RockstarJ about somewhat unfairly critiquing an on-line poet whom I very much respect; tremendous phrase making ability, sharp intellect, excellent analytical skills, subtle reader. But there’s a quality to the poems which is sometimes constrained, in an overly rationalized randomness/deliberately fragmental kind of way. I’ve wanted for awhile now to give this poet a little push, but I couldn’t figure out if it’s appropriate to do so. So I just rolled the dice, which is generally what I do in those situations. I think it has cost me a number of potential friends and acquaintances over the years. No word yet on how it went.

(Poetic aside - I can’t figure out why so many people think my poetics are so rigid. Perhaps they’re used to people trying to take down anything outside their sphere. I suppose I’m like that sometimes, but mostly, I simply go with what works and have little patience for that which does not work – i.e., “experimentation” which is never then analyzed or built on to an end. I still love Steve Kowitt’s line: “I had written enough high-flown nonsense to know its seductions.” Not that that is precisely what’s going on here.)

I guess the broader question is, “Do people delude themselves willfully?” Meaning should you not push – just keep silent until someone asks something, or should you make something happen, force an issue, even if the person in question may not be “ready” for what you have to say? Personally, I’m the kind of guy who’d rather just be told. Then I can deal with whatever it is. I think that makes me come off as personally aggressive sometimes. Hmm. Anyway, the broader question, reflected palely in the poetry pushing thing, arises from a shared situation RockstarJ and I have regarding a mutual acquaintance – do we tell someone (quite in denial) something, or do we wait until they’re “ready”?) Big questions/dilemmas are often easy to resolve, despite their cost – the little and middling sized ones suck. I’m in favor of pushing, J is not. I think I’ll listen to her advice and wait on this one.

So, anyway, back to the trivia of my life: I have kind of a poetry project/mission now – J’s going to record me reading some of my poems and would like me to do a few more sing-able/adaptable poems; namely shorter lines, more sonic alignment, less “scatty” rhythms. It’ll be an interesting challenge for me because I’ll have to fight my tendencies – always a good thing to stay fresh, I think.

This morning, driving over to H’s to try to catch her for breakfast, I found a short note taped, open, to her door. Elegante is back in town. Actually, she’s living in a nearby town, having moved back, I think, permanently (she’s been here for a month.) Elegante, briefly mentioned in the T-Rex posts is an ex of mine. We had a tempestuous on/off/on/on/off thing. Elegante’s note indicated that she hadn’t talked with H in awhile, since it was addressed to H’s ex-boyfriend who used to live with her. That ended this past winter. So I don’t think Elegante knows that I’m around, in the sense that H and I are spending a lot of time together.

This is completely distracting me this morning – after things last ended between us, E and I had some social contact and spent part of a summer with a group of mutual friends. I had thought E and I were on fairly good terms, but afterward I found out that I’m the devil – and that she really enjoyed hearing about some bad things that happened to me. Then again, this is third-hand info, so who knows? E, like me, is famously stone-faced about certain things. In any event, I’ve been trying to figure how this might play out. I’m certainly not going to surrender H. to her for the rest of the summer if it can be at all helped. On the other hand, I’m not so selfish to try to claim H as my own to her detriment, nor do I want to mess with E’s vibe if she really needs to reconnect with H. Which means E and I might just have to get along. We’ll see. I certainly bear E no kind of animosity whatsoever. Part of me thinks she just might need to hate/blame me, regardless of what I did or who I am. Sometimes you need a devil in your life. It can be, um, motivational.


What's in a name?

Lest things get too serious on the blog, I refer you to this link provided by Naked Drinking Coffee.

Scoplaw's appendage is:

Colonel Sanders the Sugar Coated Caterpillar


But my real name produces:

Horatio the Strangely Proportioned Plasma Gun


Heh.

Band of Brothers

I’m still thinking about my night in Providence. (As I walked around my brain kept humming, “I’m home, home, home.”) One of the things that struck me is how easily I can “see” the stories that my friends told. For example Carlito was telling us about some trouble his fiancé had with a stalker ex. I don’t even think they were dating at that time, but Carlito, at a sharp point in the craziness told his future finance “Well, you’ll just come stay with me – he won’t find you there.” I can really see him doing this: the cocked eyebrow, the gentle voice, the open hand. This is not to say that my imaginings will get any of the historical details correct, but only that I can imagine my friends acting as themselves – because it’s remarkable how little those core elements have changed over the years. Sure, there have been transformative experiences, but not of the negative kind I alluded to in my earlier post.

At one point in the evening we were debating the relative value of private undergraduate schools v. community colleges. (Gabriel teaches at a branch of a large state school in the center band of the country – his school costs less (in state) for 4 years some New England Private schools charge for just 3 semesters.) Someone asked just what gain we’d gotten from going to the private school we went to (actually not all of us did, nor stayed – long story), when Carlito simply said, “Well, we gained us.” There were murmurs and Gabriel and I chipped in with a stereo, “Well said.”

I really do think that was one of the most important aspects of my undergraduate experience – simply being around creative people who were doing their thing because they loved doing it. I had plenty of “non-creative-arts” friends at the school, history/poli-sci folks in particular, but it just seemed that the few of us that were there really flourished. (This is not a parochial or sentimentalized view; some of us burnt out or stagnated, others never really activated themselves, but I’ve seldom since seen an arts scene that was so inclusive and so creative. . . ) I wonder about that sometimes; for certain arts, it is better to go to a school that does not have a strong interest in them? Gabriel, Carlito, and I certainly dominated in our relative disciplines, certainly absorbed all the resources we could. Hmm. A variant on: “The best school is one which is absolutely boring (socially) but has a wonderful library and a few good professors?”

Oddly enough we’re all male. CaptainC, married to Gabriel, is certainly now a member of the band, and one of my exs, The GlobeTrotter, had/has honorary status if she wanted/wants it, although she was never much for hanging out.

Hmm. I wonder why there were no women? Sexual dynamics? Hmm.

Anyway, it's a damn shame none of us live in the same state.

Oddities

I think Last Minute Charlie got lucky last night. Or won the lottery or something.

I bicycled into work this morning and had a weird time warp experience – I thought I was moving slower than usual (headwind, perhaps) but arrived in an hour and fifteen minutes. Had I known, I’d have turned it on and tried for an hour ten. When I pulled in (early) to the parking lot, LMC was just arriving as well. He greeted me with an unusually chipper, “Good Morning Scoplaw, thank you for your efforts yesterday!” and actually thumped my back as I passed him. Perhaps it was some biking etiquette of which I’m not aware (it’s OK to touch the sweaty biker?), not that LMC is a biker. Perhaps he’s just setting me up for proposal hell today.

Last night was Posner and some of Skellum’s new book – which is an interesting collection of e-mail correspondences. I can see this being a big hit with the undergrad crowd. There’s a lot of sex and drugs in it, and it’s mostly about spiritual journeys into the self – into what we do and don’t do, how we as individuals react to society’s expectations. I liked the book, but couldn't really get into it as most of it was preaching to the converted. It was a good read, but as I read I kept hoping for the sequel – where the dialogue and focus would switch from merely breaking down barriers and enjoying life to contextualizing that, to asking “why,” to starting to build things.

Last night also involved Sleep, blessed Sleep.

And on the Seventh Day

Tonight I have a hot date with a pair of clean sheets and El Gato Perfecto. Since last Wed. I’ve been going non-stop, driving hundreds of miles, sleeping at H’s, in Providence, or not at all – just napping in the afternoons. It’s nice to know I can still do these things, a side benefit from the biking, I suppose. However, the body needs rest and recharge every so often.

Last night I got 5 solid hours in. Prior to that I was in Providence (again) meeting up with Gabriel and Carlito, who is getting married this summer(!). H came along to meet Carlito and kind of re-meet Gabriel (they last saw each other 9 years ago). We hung out at Tealux on Thayer and Rasputin and FunkyMike showed up. Omni came earlier and left (missed him!) – it was odd like some gravitation force was gathering us all together. We chilled for a bit and relocated to an Indian place for dinner (no one ordered meat!) and talk, which ranged from the past, to materialism, to the Supreme Court (educational rulings, largely the implications of San Antonio School District v. Rodriguez), to music, to gentrification, to guns, to scams, to philosophy. . .just one of those supremely dizzyingly wonderful conversations. There was one point where I pounded my fist on the coppertopped table when Carlito said he was reading Hafiz of Shiraz. After my long exile, it just makes me so goddamned happy to be with people - that he can just broach an unprefaced subject and everyone can just follow along without posturing, second guessing, vague social judgments on what should and shouldn’t be said or discussed. Ditto on Aquinas’s argument on public v. private property, the structure of Polish hymns, what makes good bathroom graffiti, how to take a cloverleaf on a motorcycle, the mechanics of restraining orders, how to teach kids not to fear their creativity, the difficulties of colloquialisms in translations, and how to use a Buddhist rosary, all of which are somehow splendidly connected.

With almost everyone else, my Law School Conversation has been strained – so many people are confused as to why I would want a J.D., as to just what I’d do with it (and How I’d do that What.) Last night I think I only spoke about the whole thing for 5 minutes – there just wasn’t much to be said that my friends didn’t already understand. Ras noted that I was just going to keep on speaking for the marginalized, causing trouble by not keeping quiet. When FunkyMike joined in the conversation, I simply told him I wanted to be a shield – no further questions needed on his part. I think the best line was from Carlito who smiled and broached the whole subject by gripping my arm and saying, with his big grin, “Georgetown – what the hell were they thinking?” It’s good to be with people who know you, who have faith in your core based on what they’ve seen you do. They reminded me of things I had forgotten – moments of myself that they valued, which I had dismissed as normal or trivial. (In truth, I’m fascinated with what sticks in the brain, which near random moments imprint themselves, which chance encounters linger for over a decade.) Carlito took me back to such a moment in undergrad – I had walking mono, was under a fairly heavy workload, and had just dropped a political bombshell via a controversial play that I had written and directed which satirized our college’s policy and history re: several campus rapes (I was threatened, unconvincingly, with legal action/expulsion, as one of the deans thought I had bugged his office and/or stolen his files – what can I say? I did the footwork, the research, and at heart I’m a good guesser when it comes to nasty human impulses.) Anyway, Carlito was concerned for me and was burdened by having to tell me a piece of bad news (he really had no choice but to tell me at that moment) – apparently (I only dimly remember this) I just started laughing, and rather happily at that. Sometimes when things get easier you lose your nerve, and you can get thrown off stride if someone shows a glimpse of capitulation or compassion. For whatever reason, that was one of those key moments for him, when I showed something of my true face.

This has been a summer of reconnection and growth for me; and it makes me so joyful and hopeful that these beautiful men who I love have not become assholes. Seriously – people with my particular background tend to bond closely to their peers; not blindly, but closely. I’ve distanced myself (not always as quickly as I ought to have) from people who were self-destructive, or grimly bent on being functional but unhappy (you can’t guilt-trip the world), or who only lived in their past, or only lived in their distant future, or who became so confused they sank into a mire of do-nothingness and casual or serious druggage, or who narrowly restructured themselves around one core or new found “truth,” be it their sexuality, their religion, the politics of their race or ethnicity or gender. But I am so very proud of my friends – that they are unafraid to live, are unafraid to hurt by living. Ras has climbed out of his skull, patched the wound, and gotten on with his life: he’ll be teaching HS in a few years and I can’t imagine anything he’d be more suited for. Carlito has been around the world, is getting married(!), and is one of the most eclectic and balanced men I know. Gabriel is an inspiration to me, both for his embracing love of the world and his intellectual rigor – half street musician, half Oxfordian Doctor. FunkyMike is still writing songs that just hook you – the most difficult thing to do perhaps for an artist – to scale back what you see, to resist the esoteric subtleties of your own craft’s depths in the service of fashioning your art for others. Each of them deserves a paragraph - a novel, actually.

After dinner, we relocated to a park overlooking the city. Carlito and I read poetry, Ras and FunkyMike played guitar, Gabriel sang and scatted. We got polite applause from the other park denizens and then tried to explain the whole Providence Vibe to H, who seemed a bit weirded out that we’d just go to a park and do these things. The Providence Vibe is just funkier, more open, than almost any other New England Vibes I’ve encountered. Even the hippyish "do anything" enclaves have their own rigid social rules and boundaries. (Honestly, liberal uptightness is sometimes more wretched to deal with than conservative uptightness, especially if it wields its own subtle anti-intellectualism to restrain and close down speculation and thought. Is it just me or are the people who practice the most radical kind of non-traditional social structuring/art often the ones with the most closed, calcified, and uninteresting minds?) When the park closed, we relocated to the temple at Brown and did the same on the steps there until midnight, when H and I bid the four horsemen adieu. Providence gets quiet in the summer, and while I miss the vibrancy of the student population, there’s something so perfect about hanging outside on a warm summer night, somewhere in the vicinity of Benevolence, Hope, Power, and all the other street names.

On the way home, I noticed the cursed fountain was running, and asked H to stop. I got out and drank – supposedly the fountain changes your destiny so that you will die in the City of Providence. Some say it only happens if you drink it by moonlight, some say it only works if you have something to lose, or if you know of the curse as you drink, or are afraid, or are not afraid. I have drunk from the fountain many times in the past (it’s not always working). It took me awhile but some time not too long ago I realized that part of me had already died in Providence –I drink from the fountain freely. H refused, of course, as she should.

Last connected tangential bit about people and how they move through time, connected via one of Providence’s street names and my friends. I used to live on Prospect; passing it I was reminded of what I think is one of the most wonderfully human exchanges reported by Emerson, who when meeting his future wife and appraising her of his “prospects” in life, has his careful arguments and plans brushed aside by her direct stare and her assertion that she was “not interested in your Prospects.”


Rasputin Reunion

I went to Providence yesterday, then swung by the Thing. Providence was awesome (expect for the traffic ticket). I saw Skellum, Gabriel, The Couple From New York, The Organist, Mac Fiend, and some others, including, as a completely unexpected bonus – Rasputin, whom I hadn’t seen since Dennis’s funeral. Ras has this intense stare thing. I used to have one, and am now I think getting it back somewhat (it’s my natural state, but I’ve been almost overly timid in recent years, nearly invisible even.) I had, back in the day, met Ras through Dennis – they were good friends. When Ras and I used to talk (locking stares) it would generate a lot of social energy and actually make people nervous – one of my (now) ex’s met him and afterward told me, “I though you were going to either pull knives on each other or start taking your clothes off.” (Personally, I don’t feel nervous and I’d be shocked if he did.) Ras is back in school, picking up his BA (kind of odd since you meet the guy and think, “What’s your Ph.D. in?”) and playing guitar. He seems to be doing really well and for some odd reason I told him a bunch of details about a currently pressing situation that I’ve just been relating to (some few) others as “the bare facts.” We talked about that a bit, as he’d just gone through something similar, which while not precisely good to hear, did at least afford an opportunity for a mature kind of commiseration and sympathy. All in all, that little 5 minute conversation would have been worth a 20 hour drive – not that I was in a particularly bad place, but just in that it’s good to hear, “I went through A, B, then C, and it took awhile for D, but blah blah blah” and have that line up exactly with your own experiences. We’re never as unique as we like to think. In the subsequent Hackey Sack (he’s still got all his chops) and Jam Session, Ras took easy charge of things, keeping the herd of cats ambling towards the goal. It was nice to see. I also had a lot of watermelon and a great conversation with a 10 year old about music and art (smart Kid) who in the middle of one topic (multiple perspectives in painting) just blurted out, “How come girls are so smart but not like us?” It was so serious, I had a hard time not laughing – I mean, it’s damn cute. I told him he’d have to figure it out on his own, and when he did I’d pay him good money for his thoughts on the matter.

I split early and drove to west central CT for the Thing which proved to be a lot of fun. I got there in time for fireworks but missed out on the swimming and Olympic eating/drinking activities. I met the 1L from Columbia – tough name, tough name. The Stealth Flautist? Eh, it works well enough for a paragraph. In any event SF proved to be urbane, mature, witty and very down to earth. He was a good storyteller – very social, very engaging without straining at it. I keep having these odd fears that LS will prove to be most trying via the students – sharklets, lamprey, that sort of scene. (I was fortunate in that my graduate program was so diverse there was almost no sense of competition and/or favoritism.) However, meeting people like SF is always soothing.

Today I had the day off – lots of poetry (lots and lots) with some assorted reading and biking. I don’t know what the hell I’ve done for the muse lately, but she’s obviously a happy camper (which is odd since, given everything that shouldn’t be the case – but you don’t argue with the muse, you just accept and be damn grateful.) H and I took SF and Poz out for breakfast/lunch and had to drive all over creation to find a place that could seat us. It took us awhile to cycle down to our last option, a local retroish oddity that seemed to go over well enough.

Tomorrow I’ll be hooking up with Gabriel and Carlito (my aforementioned and previously unnamed Jainish poetry/philosophy friend) in Providence. I’m feeling positively nomadic again, almost pre-gradschool. While I’ve felt rootless for years now, being nomadic is slightly different – I haven’t slept at home in a few days, I’ve put several hundred miles on the car, I’ve met new people and have written a ton. Not a bad way to live. I have to say, despite the whirlwind pace of the past week (and a few paperwork issues waiting till Wed. to mail out) I’d have to chalk this up as the best 4th I’ve had in awhile.


4th

H, RockstarJ, and I climbed up to the roof of a building in Hartford to watch the fireworks. We had to go up a ladder and through the skylight, which was challenging since we were carrying beers, chairs, and an interesting conversation.

The display was fun – I haven’t seen fireworks in a long time. However it was also a bit silly since there was a neon sign advertising a local restaurant just below the centerpoint for the display – it looked at times like the whole display was some kind of commercial. H and J provided musical accompaniment (1812 Overture) via voice and beer bottle. When you’re up fairly high, it’s amazing how low the displays seem to the ground, given the bigger sky. We had a good vantage and could see several other town’s displays as well – but they barely crept up over the tree tops on the hills surrounding the CT river valley (that Hartford lies in.) Before the display I had a productive working day – did some jazz cooking (salmon with oranges, garlic, lemon, capers, black pepper, oil), learned a few things (including a RockstarJ party trick with a lighter and a beer bottle which I have no doubt will serve me well in the future), and had a nice muse moment.

Actually, I’m very smug about the muse moment because I had been working on two poems which should have been one poem. I realized that at some point and combined them. It worked but the arc was all wrong – it was as though the power of the poem was spent somewhere in the middle and then the poem tried to jump off the ground again instead of sinking down, gaining momentum and resurfacing. So I threaded and unthreaded, kneaded and shaped, and ended up with something that I think may be close to done. I have a last half line that begs to be taken further – although I based the poem on the U sound (oo) and there’s a kind of natural limit to how long you sustain a sound before you have to modulate it. If you don’t the poem can get hypnotic instead of memorable. That’s a nice strategy if you’re going to close with a single thing you want people to remember (works well in casual cocktail conversation as well.) However it’s difficult to make a series of arguments (or assertions) that way.

In other poetry news I had a smaller poem critiqued by someone who is relatively new to the workshop I participate in. One of my (many) problems with Cork in the Water (mentioned in recent posts) is that he’s just got a damn tin ear. It’s as though he can’t hear any kind of meter or pattern unless it’s crystal clear rim and bass. Tik Tik Boom, Tik Tik Boom! And he’s just damned hopeless at recognizing patterns which have been deliberately shaken up, to say nothing of counter patterns or relative stress and pause. Or perhaps he can but simply plays dumb to further his purist arguments. Any which way it’s damn annoying. So the new critiquer responded to the small poem of mine with – hold your breath – An Ear! He correctly identified what was going on in the poem, in a rhythmic sense. Let me tell ya – that’s rare. So rare I have given up despairing that people simply note “nice sound” without understanding how the sonic structure impacts the poem (as in “nice sound – here’s a suggestion that clears up the most minor of points no one in their right mind would be troubled by And will totally wreck the sound scheme which I claimed to have understood to some extent by praising it.) So it was a lovely refreshing moment. I felt like a poet version Shirley McClain – “You hear it, you really really do!” I’m such a dork.

Today is a day of driving. Scopmobile has lost her radio again (mystery short), so it’s probably a day of thinking as well. I go out to Providence to see Gabriel, Skellum and some others, then swing back into CT for H’s Mom’s Thing, which I have been promising to go to for a few months now. I *do* want to go, but I’m not crazy about the drive. Then again, who would be? Teleportation would easily rank as the best super power. At one point I’d have chosen Telepathy, but I think I’m genuinely happier not knowing what’s going on in other people’s heads. There should be a 1L from Columbia at the Thing, so if he wants to chatter law at people he’ll have one set of grateful ears.

I’m really feeling the Providence vibe though – I had to get out my vest and white tie this weekend. Providence just has this thing about it.

I need to get in touch with The Third Son - sigh, I need to do so many things, none of which are burdens in any way, but nearly all of which require more time than I have these days.


Cities and the Stealthy Heart

Sometimes my heart creeps up on me in strange ways. I know people who can, apparently, control their hearts, or control at least the outward manifestations of whatever they feel to such an extent that they seem emotionless, in control. For the majority of my life I was famously stone-faced; chalk that up to an interesting childhood. I’d think that I’d be in obvious ecstasy or anguish and would expect that was clearly telegraphed to all about me. However, I’d always hear the people “had no idea” I was feeling a certain way, or that I simply looked cool and unmoved by events. I think I still do that to an extent, but would like to flatter myself that I’m somehow more open. In reality, I have no idea if that’s true or not. But tonight, after biking with H, we were chatting and I apparently made one of those telegraphing looks when we were discussing something I thought I had a handle on. I think my stealthy heart crept out past my brain and waved a signal flag to H. Score one for the heart – H had some sound advice for me as usual.

The upshot of this I think I need to change my routine/surroundings, to hie my confused ass out of town for a bit to a city I dearly love, Providence, RI. In the past I’ve broken up with people and ceded them what they were due – their friends, their things, their monies and obligations. I gave up favorite places to spend afternoons, stores, neighborhoods, even cities. Although I gave up Providence at one point, it’s a city that I’ll fight for, would have fought for. There’s the east side, where I used to live in a shotgun third story apartment, Federal Hill, where I also lived in it’s mixture of Italian affluence and poverty, the Brown Observatory, Swan Point, Blackstone, Myopic Books, the clubs downtown, Waterplace Park, Waterfires, RISDI (and the wooden Buddha), the old train tunnels, Thayer St., Wickenden St., all the small streets and neighborhoods and stores and galleries and theaters. . .it’s just my kind of town. I expect to be at the Custom House Tavern sometime over the next few days, where FunkyMike and I used to do readings (he’d host and play, I’d read) and killed a great summer in the tail end of the century. The Custom House still has its copper bartop – if you’re ever in the town, plunk your elbows on it and drink a Guiness for the Scoplaw and poets everywhere.

**

In other poetry news I just nearly got into an on-line debate with someone whom I’ll call Cork In The Water. CW has an amazingly brainless buoyant quality about him. The facts of argumentation swirl around him but he remains unmoved. Strong conclusive gusts move others, but CW just bobs in place, never expanding his understanding or further developing his arguments. The point in contention is my conception of Form, which I won’t bother you all with. In CW’s case, (he’s terribly concerned with what I think) this always becomes a blanket defense of Neo-Formalism (which he’s a tireless shill for, despite his vociferous protestations that he loves all kinds of poetry) against grossly inflated charges I didn’t make. His basic strategy is to restate the argument. "I didn't say "A", I said "B" - what's that? A direct quote where I said "A" - no, you're reading it wrong, I said "B" - and further, you said "C". Another direct quote of your saying "D"? No - you've got that wrong again, you really said "C"."

Anyway, I used to bother with such things, to debate so that third parties might at least benefit. That changed about a year ago – now I can’t even bother. I’m somewhat bored, so it would have been a seductive way to spend a few hours, warming up the rhetorical guns. But once you’ve made all the arguments 3 or 4 times, it’s a bit hard to keep on doing so.

Not Quite Midas

Ever have one of those days where everything you touch turns to shit?

Yeah.

Windchimes

I have an odd fascination with windchimes and other passive noise makers. For awhile I wanted to build an Aeolian harp – and I may yet still, depending on summer activities. There’s just something wonderfully organic about the sound of windchimes and when I was in the South I built two sets – one from old spoons, another from a discarded set of steel tubing (heavy sucker). I was going through some of the stuff I have in storage, attempting to isolate the items I wanted to bring with me to law school and make a small pile of necessary things I wanted to store (as opposed to destroy or let go or replace later, if needed) when I found the small spoon-chime set. I really had thought they had gone to an actress friend of mine who I know for sure has the steel tubing set (I remember hauling the damn things over her place.) It was odd to find them. I also ran across an old blanket, a bag, some coffee mugs I’d forgotten about, etc.

The whole made for a kind of nostalgia – the pain of remembering, and I am always somewhat amazed at how memory groups itself around things and events, instead of in a timeline. Just looking at an old kettle can remind you of where you were in life when you bought it, the stoves you used it on, the kind of tea you preferred one winter, the history of your movements around it – shifting it for cooking, washing it in the various sinks of the various places you’ve lived.

For the first time in my life, I think clothing is going to outnumber (volume wise) anything else I own. I’ll be down to one box of tech items, 7 boxes of books (most into storage), 3 or 4 boxes of kitchen items – cooking, flatware, etc. I’ll have three boxes of personal items and files (mostly storage, I expect). One bike with me, one (or two) into storage. Clothing though – I just got a lot of hand-me downs this past year, some quite nice. And I could never say “no” to a blazer. I think I’ll do a major culling at the end of the summer.

I’ll have to get rid of the books I never read, the odd “project” items that I’ve been saving for a rainy day – fabric and paper and wood and restorable furniture and stones and wire and bicycles and car parts and electronics (it’s to be Law, Poetry, Bicycling and Reading from here on out I think, at least for a few years.) Also my funky “décor” items – antique fans, lava lamps, rocking chairs, drafting tables, plants, old rotary telephones. I’m just tired of hauling this shit all over the country, and I have 3 years of school in the future with no single home base in sight. Perhaps, 5 years from now I’ll regret not holding onto X or Y, but that’s something to worry about then. Storage presents a problem – I don’t have any stable place to put the stuff I want to keep, stuff that I think I’ll use in 4/5 years. A friend recently offered to hold onto a bunch of stuff for me and I very well might take her up on it since I can’t afford to store things in a commercial facility. I can’t honestly say that I know anywhere else I could put it where it might still be found in 5 years time.

The car is also a problem. I had not wanted to sell the Scopmobile, since she’s 21 years old (still going strong though) and I doubt I could get much more than 1K for her. Given costs and so forth, it would have been best for me to garage her somewhere in CT on mothball insurance and then fire her up for holiday visits and/or possibly summer interning (if I’m back in NE and would need a car, that is.) But I can’t find a place to put her. (Yeah, those “anything I can do” relatives are really coming through for me.) So I might have to sell her. . .but I need her to move down to Georgetown since I can’t afford a truck. It’s a real problem.

Cash at Georgetown is going to be super-tight, even if everything breaks my way, so part of my angst over my things is that I don’t want to get rid of something (like the car) and then take a financial bath (or series of small splashes) replacing this or that item while I’m in school. Granted, the majority of my stuff would not fall into this category, but there are always those tangential items.

Times like these I think about UConn and how much easier logistics (and cash issues) would be had I chosen to go there – keep the car, find an apartment in a weekend, move all my stuff in, stay close to friends. But then I think, “Well, what if you lost this all in a fire tomorrow? What if your friends accepted jobs in Maine? Would you rather go alone and naked to UConn or Georgetown?” D.C. here I come.

Social Whirlwind

Uh, I need a quick name for my friend - how about BSV - "Balanced and Sweetly Vicious"? That’ll do for now. BSV is a GWM from NYC. (3 sets of 3, plus rhyme, BSV is a predominantly formalist poet, so he’d appreciate that.) BSV is not someone who you want to cross in a personal or poetic sense, and is absolutely wonderful to read or watch in debate. He lives in a shoebox somewhere north of Times Square. Actually, I think it’s slightly larger than a shoebox since I’ve seen 3 pairs of shoes in it, once, but one of the heels was hanging out the window. He’s one of those poets who takes his time, who gets a bit caught up in the debates, though when he steps back he’s done some very good work. I think it’s a phase all poets go through – cutting your teeth on the arguments of others, finding your voice, etc. We have some catching up to do – I’m really looking forward to it. I be bringing RockstarJ's song with me - BSV's got to hear it. He's got a great great ear (for music and poetry).

Anyway, BSV's fantastically liberal but a Yankee’s fan. His boyfriend is a conservative Red Sox fan. (I am a fantastically liberal Red Sox fan). I’ve just been invited to go with the two of them to a Sox/Yankmes game on Thursday. Cats and Dogs baby! Dogs and Cats!

BSV said I can cry on his boyfriend’s shoulder after the game, but you don’t cry when you’re plugging for the forces of good against the evil empire. Seriously, rooting for the MFYs is like rooting for IBM.

Decadence, or DecaDance

Another weekend gone. I’m typing this at H’s house, where I’m here to hold her feet to the fire as far as her studying for her master’s and practicing for Australia. On Sat., I fixed up the Puch for RockstarJ (she eventually would trade it to H. for the Lotus), rode it over H’s, napped in the hammock, did some reading, went on a ride, called my future roommate who is apparently not my roommate, went to see RockstarJ play, came back to H’s (now Sunday), talked and drank, slept on the couch, got up, rode to breakfast, rode the trail, went home, worked on some poetry, came back here, and am now working on more poetry and updating the blog. I need a shower like nobody’s business.

Ten high points of decadence – two new RockstarJ songs, a garlic pizza, three new poems (the muse has been kind), gorgeous weather of the sensual lie in the hammock and dream sort, a perfect burst of speed through the most congested traffic area in town, Spaten, and vaguely good personal news regarding distant relatives that’s not worth going into blogtail for.

Low points – I need to get more sleep; it seems I keep being the guy that gets stuck with the one boring guy at the party who a) won’t leave, b) won’t crash, c) won’t say anything interesting. I need to develop some kind of excuse to leave those situations.

It’s now summer. It really feels like summer; Icecream trucks, afternoon naps, long cool evenings with friends. I had a quasi-law student moment, as I ended up explaining the structure of the court system to somebody. I felt comfortable with the terms – that’s a good thing. I realize that I’m going to learn a ton in school and that I shouldn’t go in with too much of a structure in my brain (which’d have to been torn down/reshaped) but basic facts are always a good thing, no?

Vanity, Vanity

I think I’ve said that I’m not vain per se, in that I don’t spend undue time (relative to almost everyone I know) on my personal appearance. However, I’ve been unhappy with my basic body drift during my years in the South, a process that accelerated the wrong way in the last two years with illness. I’d exercise and stop, exercise and stop.

But this summer I’ve reversed that trend after holding steady throughout the winter. It’s almost like a gladiatorial preparation for law school. I want to go in lean and frosty as I’m sure both pizza and low amounts of sleep will catch up with me eventually, and, even so, I don’t need to be one whit duller, surrounded by the brilliant people I’ll be surrounded by. So that means pushing myself now so I can try to hold steady later, and let my health and improved focus maximize my learning.

But anyway, I’m quite unscientific about the whole getting back in shape process – I simply ride until I can’t ride. No heart monitors, only a vague sense of road miles, little games about sprinting to this or that landmark, that sort of thing. I didn’t take my weight at the beginning of the summer (155? – all flab). I don’t know my weight now, but here’s the vanity. I fit into my size 30 black jeans again. My jawline is again slightly concave instead of convex. I can go up 4 flights of stairs, two at a time, without getting winded, flushed, sweaty. I got chatted up by an 18 year old art student this week. Not bad for an old man.

Typepad down = posting Mish-Mash

RockstarJ’s been holding out on me. She had said she’d been using my poetry to do some riffing – expanding/modulating the verbal phrases into musical ones. That’s pretty common – Hart Crane used to stick his head inside his phonograph and blast jazz before writing. I’ve used other arts as a creative springboard, but music and poetry have close ties.

However, I ran into her over H.s on Wed. and she completely surprised me with a song she’d recorded on CD which turned out to be one of my poems set to music. Sometimes the world lines up in odd ways. There I was thinking/writing about Dennis, and J, unbeknownst to me, is actually recording a poem of mine at the same time. I was impressed with the song (and I’m a terrible snot about such things; poets generally aren’t team players in the arts – how could they be?). The song was a 4 track, two vocals, a clarinet, and a base clarinet, all sung and played by J. It wasn’t how I heard it of course, nor how I’d read it, but it was the poem. The song is quite difficult to describe – swirling, a bit ghostly, a bit earthy, but it’s got that thing that grows on you, that feel you must you go back to and experience again. “That thing” is the most difficult accomplishment in any art. In fact, if I could describe it easily, if it could be paraphrased, it probably would be excluded from having “that thing.” Hell, call it “duende.”

Anyway, it was pretty damn cool. Made my day, made the whole damn week.

What didn’t make my day was cleaning out H’s basement – a long overdue task I’d promised to help her with. Why do people keep deflated footballs? Snapped taper candles? Empty kerosene drums? Actually it was fine, but I’m sore as hell today and made the somewhat questionable choice to bike into work again. It was a good ride, but right now I’m wishing for the mutant power of teleportation to get me home.

I actually do have a freakish non-bruising power; I’ve gone over car hoods without bruising, I’ve hit my hands with tools without bruising, I’ve been accidentally whacked in the shin so hard I couldn’t stand on it, but with no subsequent bruise. But in the shower (work) I noticed I had a string of 4 small bruises on my arm. How did they get there? Perhaps I should start looking for alien implants next.

**

Obnoxious day at work (socially, not work-wise). I wore a thin white shirt and was standing under a particularly bright light by the coffee maker.
Coworker: “Oh – you have tattoos.”
Scoplaw: (faced with a choice to utter the following appropriate response in the condescending-sorry-about-the-TBI tone or the slightly-viscious-can-we-next-publicly-discuss-your-body-in-particular-your-fat-ass tone, he chose the first.) “Yes.”
Coworker: (ignoring the first rule of holes) “Can I see them?”
Scoplaw: (who is not going to peel off his shirt at work, in the hallway, at 8:30 in the morning, in front of the damn coffee-maker for anyone, unless there’s a significant amount of money involved.) “Maybe some other time.”
Coworker: (hurt that I don’t want to take this bonding moment to divest myself of clothing for her amusement/curiosity) “I didn’t mean to offend you - I’m just trying to be friendly.”
Scoplaw: (wondering how “friendly” coworker would feel if our positions were switched) "No problem, I just need some coffee." (Which is a Scoplaw translation for “If you reflect on this you ought to be horribly embarrassed, but you won’t, so I’ll make some kind of lame excuseish comment that will transfer the perceived social burden of embarrassment to myself, as though I’ve done something wrong, and you can then graciously forgive me for being “unfriendly,” chalk me up to being a bit weird, and send me the data tables to edit without further commenting on what’s going on under my clothes.”)

**

In other news, this week I made significant headway on the monster poem. I’ve been working this guy for 2 years now. It began with an absurd challenge that I couldn’t pass up and every so often I take him out, reheat him, and start hammering away. He’s up to 250 lines now and is starting to find his final shape and character. The odd thing is, I have no idea if the choices I’ve made will work for a reader or not. Sometimes you lose you perspective if you work the poem too long.

Tonight: cook-out with H; she practices trumpet (gotta get up to speed for Australia as she's changed her embouchure, losing at least a half octave in the hopes of gaining that back (eventually) plus a bit more in the future. That's a difficult thing for anyone to do, take a deliberate step back to a shadow of your accomplishment, in the hopes you can go further later; I have tremendous respect for her doing that), I write. Tomorrow, RockstarJ plays out in a nearby city. Other than that, I just want to get my laundry done, finish the latest batch of poems (5 – a good week), chill with el Gato Perfecto and sleep. If I get even one bike finished and out the door it will be a bonanza.

**

But wait, plans change. Tonight I biked back through a pretty good rainstorm. I love biking in the rain, but for whatever reason, I feel like I’ve had the tar pounded out of me. I took the new Trek and made decent time, and the ride wasn’t difficult per se, but once I stopped I felt like I’d been dropped in a Cuisinart and pureed. I finished the ride at H’s house since the original plan called for a cook-out – but H. cancelled it due to weather. Instead we talked a bit, ate some veggies, then went out to see Fahrenheit 9/11, which was an affecting if uneven film. It was almost as though Moore glossed over some of the big issues and focused on minutia. I think it would be an effective piece of political propaganda for undecided voters, but I don’t think many Bushies are going to rush out and see the film. I’ll have to think about this a bit more, but my initial thought is really that he focused on the weaker arguments for which he had harder data – however I’m very very tired right now.

Tomorrow – Laundry, Packing/Sorting, Trail Bike (WTF! say the legs), Bike Fixing (unless I get a new seat on that Trek I will ruin my evenings forever after), Reprise of the Trumpet/Poetry plan with H. (although I think the muse is on vacation, or at least recovering from her bender (5 poems is a lot), meaning more likely lawish reading), RockstarJ.

And Coffee and Aspirin.

And Aspirin and Coffee.

A Reunion

Is scheduled for the first week of July in Providence with some of the people I love most in this world. Seriously, these are people who let me endure anything – just knowing they’re alive and well helps me keep my chin up. They include Gabriel and CaptainC (married pair), Skellum (a real word), and FunkyMike. We were all in undergrad together – it was a pretty conservative institution overall, so the oddballs tended to bond together into a smaller sub-school. Actually, by the time we were Seniors, the tenor of the campus had changed (I was no longer getting death-threats and having beer bottles thrown at me because I had purple hair and leftist politics.)

We were all in a kind of loose band, both tribal and musical – the musical arm was called Ants in the Cellar. For those of you who know the Ants, well, you’d know who I am anyway, for those that don’t, I doubt you’d be able to find any record of us. Actually, one of the flawed poems below (written in ’96) touches on the Ants – in particular, it’s addressed to the much missed Dennis Sampson, who out of love and respect, gets his full and real name on the blog. Dennis fought a long battle against mental illness and depression which he ultimately lost in ’98. Despite the stress this placed on him, he was a genuinely sweet human being, someone who felt the world intensely, who had an immense sympathetic range. Dennis had a knack for transforming my poetry into songs (very very different things, I assure you) and we worked together on over 20 of ‘em, including tweaking much of the early Ants material. Our specific bond was very important to me – it made me feel connected to the greater tradition of music and audience, not just like some obscure scribbler. I've worked with other musicians since then, but we we put our heads together and worked, Dennis was always right with me, always made the songs "true" to the poems - which is no easy task.

The circumstances of Dennis’s death were tragic – a series of near misses which lead to his suicide, and I still feel some guilt about my small part in them. I had moved back to Providence from New York and was working on fixing up my new apartment (and a failing relationship). The plan was to call Dennis and FunkyMike to have them over the new digs. I called Dennis a day too late. I think it’s the second biggest regret of my life – that I didn’t put the paintbrush down, call Dennis earlier and say, “Hey, grab your guitar and a bottle of wine and come over; I’m back in town, the new place is a mess, but I miss you brother.” It took me a long while to get over what happened and it still creeps me out – my leaving 3 messages on his answering machine with his corpse in the same room. Dennis apparently heard about my being back before he killed himself, and that’s particularly hard to take. I know he thought I wasn’t going to call, that I had abandoned him, and I know he died with that small piece of thought adding to his burden. Perhaps I couldn’t have done anything for him, but I still feel as though I let him down, as though I let selfish concerns and a sense of needing to have my material shit "squared away" take precidence over simply calling a friend, which is also hard to take.

The surviving Ants are going to do some recording of Dennis’s songs, cut a record, and give any proceeds to charity. Gabriel and FunkyMike have apparently formed a five piece out at the college where Gabriel teaches and have taken the first steps towards making this happen. Gabriel says they've played out twice thus far and people have been very responsive to the music (which is hard to pigeon-hole - we had so many influences and some really unique songs.)

Matters of the Heart

20 years ago I thought I knew a good bit about them – people used you as they could then tossed you aside. Then puberty hit and it got a bit more confusing. Since then I've been forcibly reminded, at regular intervals, just when my brain was getting comfortable, such as last month, that I know jack. I still don’t know Kant, not in the sense that I tangibly understand his distinction between “a means to an end” opposed to “an end in and of.” Do such distinctions exist in the real world? Can it ever be purely one thing and not the other? If it can be, I’ve never seen it, although I’m comfortable thinking of some actions as being 90% of one or the other.

This weekend I realized I had been defending someone who had, relatively objectively speaking, screwed me over pretty badly. My defense of this person disturbed me. In past years I used to harbor a good deal of anger about that whole situation. So I guess I’m wondering if my ebbing of anger led to a kind of conversational after-the-fact-complicity – something I’ve always loathed. I mean, I don’t approve of what happened, but how long can you stay angry? How long should you?

Electronic Files

How could I have gathered so much crap unto myself? I just got a new laptop in preparation for Law School. I had a semi-decent older one that would have required a memory, operating system, battery, and various networking updates to be viable. So I just got a new one. It’s a spiffy Gateway (I’ve always been pleased with their products in the past and they sold me a souped up slightly older model at a better price than the discounted Dells available through Georgetown.)

I’m culling all my work, binding the survivors together. My goal is to eliminate all the old archive CDs and disks, which is turning into quite a chore. At one point, for several years, I was averaging over a thousand words a day, most of it being in the form of letters and poetry critiques. I still have a great mass of that stuff – but I have to wonder if it’s worth saving. There are a few things in there that I could use going forward, but most of it is somewhat repetitive. I’ll probably save all the files and just let dust settle on them, making it another “one day, I’ll blah blah blah” thing.

Also kind of frightening to wade through are the poem drafts. For every successful poem, you probably write 3 or 4 that are doomed to failure “as they are,” meaning only a radical reworking can make them viable. That ratio decreases as you move forward; perhaps you eliminate the non-viable stuff much earlier in the process, do that radical reworking on the fly, as it were. However, that still means that in my case there’s a lot of old poems which are kind of crappy, and kind of dangerous, sitting there on the drive, whispering, “But with a little work, you just know I’ll be great.” Many of them lie about this, and lie shamelessly. All the same, I’ll probably create a do-not-touch archive and drop them in.

The photographs are a pain. Do I really need 14 pictures of that old car I saw in the junkyard? Do I want 20 images of people I’m probably never going to see again? Hmm.

Ease of accumulation is not a good thing in this case – it’s produced a monster.


It's a Wrap

Well, it was a weekend of mild hedonism for the Scoplaw.

I got the hammock up over at H’s, who was duly pleased. We went for a loop ride, then shopped for food and chilled a bit before heading out to see RockstarJ play.

While we were food shopping I ran into Little Bear, a friend from college and a local librarian (what is it with all these librarians?). He agreed to come see Rockstar J play, and, also, to my delight, the Coffee Goddess and her man showed up at the show as well. The Coffee Goddess had a bad week – she dropped her Harley in a major intersection, banged up her elbow but walked away from it (whew). I got to introduce a lot of people I like to each other, which always makes me feel good. Little Bear kept the nostalgia vibe going by casually dropping names I haven’t thought about in years.

The show was weird – RockstarJ’s band played really well, but the vibe at the place was stupid-fratboyish. Someone actually tried to pick a fight with me. Afterward we all (including NutritionistJ, Little Bear, Poz, and some assorted music scene locals) went back to H’s place and much alcohol was consumed. Upstairs people were playing guitar and singing, downstairs there was a more literary chat going on – at one point we all took turns reading Chinese love poetry, and I came across two new poems by Li Po. The only bad seed at the party was The Mad Scientist, who was a randomly invited youngish guy, working for one of the local big companies. TMS did the whole “ego greeting” thing where instead of simply exchanging information about who you are, where you live, and what you do with yourself, he seemed compelled to repeatedly point out his importance and merit. He was talking about some work he was doing to make planes more efficient fighting machines, to take more punishment, but followed that up with, “Well, it’s not like I’m working for the military in the sense that my work is hurting people.” I didn’t say anything at the time (shunning was a much better option) but all I could think was, “Dude – you’re making it easier for one person to kill (by design) another person, which means you’re in the service of death.” It’s that simple. Other than that though the party was splendid.

Sat. was a late late night, a 5am sort of night. So it’s not surprising that after seeing everyone out the door, H, RockstarJ, and I crashed out at H’s place and spent most of the day recovering. I made fritatas for breakfast, we split and did various errands (including calling the ‘rents, both sets of which are out their respective towns). I got in some poetry writing time and took the new Trek out (it’s so so nice). In the evening, the three of us drove over to RockstarJ’s parents' place for dinner. RockstarJ has some of the best parents I’ve ever met – funny, intelligent, generous. We all played scrabble and had a good time. RockstarJ, if anything, is a far more dangerous player than H, and she cheats and gloats. H sort of bends and smirks. Although we did allow some slang into the board, the rents and I played straight and lost badly. RockstarJ’s mom did some tarot readings for us, and her brother grilled up a mean dinner.

After that, home home home for some domestic work.

I’m feeling very full on people (and greatly interesting people at that). This past weekend I had so many interesting conversations I don’t know where to begin: stained glass, theatre, tarot, Greek mythology, books, poetry, music, law, politics, education, the human heart. Although I spent a lot of time sitting around, thinking, I feel completely spent, as though I'd been going non-stop the whole time.

As Li Po says, when you have good wine, stimulating companions, and the love of a beautiful maiden, why envy the immortal gods? And as Meatloaf says, two out of three ain't bad either.


One Less Car/I Open my Hand

And stuff falls into it. Yesterday was good – work was non-stressful and I took a nice leisurely ride back though humidity you could cut with a knife. It was almost Georgian. The best line I’ve heard about Georgia summers is that they’re “like living in someone’s mouth – 98 degrees, 100 percent humidity.” I got smoked by a rider in his late 50’s – he pulled up next to me, said “Hi” and then kept going. So I thought (even though this was the tail end of the return ride, which, while only 20 miles long, did come after afternoon errand riding, bringing my daily total up to about 55 miles) I’d try to keep up with him. He had that 3% gain on me though – just kept creeping away from me. He heard me behind him and definitely tried to pour it on and pull away from me. When we passed the last hill, I figured I’d just crank out and if I spent myself I could coast/glide home. So I got that rattle breathed hot rush through the thighs feeling and started closing, but he hooked a quick right down one of the side streets, just when I started to gain. I hope the bastard tumbled off his bike and puked his guts out. Not likely though. He had those cablely legs. Sigh - I’m just not in that class anymore. (Not that I ever measured it precisely – but I’m sure I’m still not where I was when I drifted into sloth.) No cramps though (I tried the Tums tablet trick suggested below!)

Quick note on shaving one’s legs – an excellent reason to do so (in addition to all the others) is that you don’t get mosquitoes using your leg hairs as little grappling lines to fasten on to you. Yesterday I shot through a cloud of them – it was like riding through rain.

**

Today, one of the local bookstores closed and I picked up a lovely anthology of Chinese love poetry, translated into free verse with a distinct lack of flowery tropes. Also, from a tag-sale, a hammock which, after it’s cleaned, is going up on a tree at H’s house, I think. She’s working so it will be a nice surprise for her to find when she comes back. Also, an aluminum Trek for a good story, a quick conversation on Hopkins, and what I happened to have left in my wallet (which wasn’t much at all). God bless those who have pity on poets. God knows what I’m going to do with the Trek. It completely outclasses Hush, but I can’t decide whether to cannibalize it or ride it or restore and give it to someone. I’m running out of bike riders to give bikes to, although I will get rid of two more of the stable items (one to The Liquid Engineer, one to Irish Studio Guy). None of my poet friends ride alas. Gabriel does, but he favors bikes on the edge of death, such as the aptly named “Sir Rusty Rattlebody.” One of the basic problems with bicycle acquisition is that you’re left with a growing pile of parts since you’re always replacing the bad bits with good bits (the left over bits go into the parts pile). I have 5 bare frames kicking around, a pile of wheels awaiting tyres and bearings, some really nice rear derailleurs but only some so so front ones. . .

This morning I think I was exuding the “come to me” vibe – everywhere I went people walked over to talk to me. I think I’m changing my eye-contact patterns or something. For the past few years I’ve tried to be a bit subdued, a bit of a silent operative, but I think that’s going to have to change. So today I’ll be organizing stuff, then reading poetry and Posner in a hammock outside at H’s, squeaking away on the cornet, then going to see RockstarJ play with assorted friends. I will attempt to ignore the rubbery legs and the itchy-in-the-summer sideburns, which continue to advance in their ginger manner.

And Then There Were Two

T-Rex flies home today, along with her Sweetie. I had such a good time with them, including last night, a very late one, over H’s house. I’ve done a lot of crazy things in my life but to date I’ve never a) run across a frozen pond to see if the ice would crack, b) faced down 6 petty criminals (in their apartment no less) over a stolen radio, c) hit anyone with a two by four. All, erm, fond memories brought to the surface via a night of reminiscing. The more time I spent with her the more I caught those small personal characteristics which she’s modulated over the years: the rapid ankle shifting when she sits, the percussive “smack” of fist/object into palm if she’s relating something particularly bothersome or difficult, her special “what the fuck” laugh when confronted with absurdity.

You’ve heard of “gunboat diplomacy” – I think T-Rex practices “crowbar diplomacy.” I’m 5’6” and while the Rex only comes up to my shoulder, I wouldn’t want to cross her.

Also, shockingly, I learned that one of our old HS acquaintances, The Gelfling (Hey, it was the late 80s when I met her and impressions do stick.) has since become an attorney out in CA. It’s hard to imagine someone more acquisition-driven/selfish/image conscious than The Gelfling, although I won’t share the sordid tales, as she was something of a figure of both unintentional comedy and sympathy. Suffice to say the girl’s had a hard life, full of genuine tragedies, so I can’t hold some of the more obnoxious elements of her personality against her as I might a total stranger. She’s the kind of person who always calls you by your full given name (in my case, my first two full given names) in a way that feels wrong, as though she’s just making your acquaintance and is trying to pronounce it correctly. Or as though she’s (unintentionally transparently) trying to put one over on you.

I feel, karmicly, as though my pending entry into the legal profession somehow balances hers. Apparently The Gelfling's ambition is to become a judge. Something strange happens to my intestines if I type/think about that for too long.

Picture of the Scoplaw (sort of)

Some days just belong to things outside you – sometimes it’s a movie, a poem, a song, a novel, whathaveyou. Or what has you. Today the day belongs to the Violent Femmes. I’m not sure why, save that I have two of their songs tumbling over and over in my head. It's just that kind of day.

The Femmes have a special place in my heart since I was apparently separated at birth from Gordon Gano. About 10 years ago I’d get people telling me I looked “like” Rob Lowe, but no one ever mistook me for him. Whereas I signed autographs as Gordon twice (once in Boston, once in Providence). Oddly enough my singing voice is remarkably like GG’s. Well, perhaps not so oddly since if we’re so similar on the outside, it’s likely we’re not too far off in terms of palate shape, etc. I don’t sing all that much though, and never in front of people. I used to be terribly self-conscious of speaking in front of people, and while I do that without any kind of anxiety any more, and while reading poetry to (even hostile) masses is also not a big deal for me, I’m never exactly comfortable singing in front of people. Perhaps because I sound like Gordon.

Since the photo was taken in '88 he’s gotten fat and I’ve gotten my thinning hair cropped (well, actually so has GG). Now we look more like brothers instead of twins. In any event, we only had one window of twinness since he's about ten years older than I am. That overlap time would have been in the mid 90's, with me in my early/mid20s and he in his early/mid30s.

**

New obvious moniker for one of my principal engineering guys – The Tree Killer. I just spent the better part of an hour printing out reports which had been scanned in as .pdf documents for easy reading. . .

T-Rex! Yea!

It’s been a weekend of moderate mood swings for the scoplaw thusfar.

On Friday night, plans changed and I went out with RockstarJ and H to a block party in Hartford – they didn’t dress all that slutty, to my great disappointment. I was sporting a red Hawaiian shirt and a black velvet blazer. For a poet, I think that’s pretty tricked out. The rest of the crowd actually was fairly slutty on average – 21-40ish types who dressed anticipating a warmer evening then we got. I began the evening feeling a kind of warm glow for humanity I get when I’m around large crowds of people who are having a good time (without destroying anything.) I know it’s kind of dorky, but I just love weaving though that kind of crowd, taking it all in. At some point though things changed – I felt kind of. . .well, I’m not sure really. I think it was when I was playing pool (the bars that lined the blocks were open) with a guy who’s on a temporary leave from Iraq. I started thinking, “Jesus – he’s just a kid, a baby really,” which over the course of the evening got me on to thoughts of my age and friends past, gone or dead, and made me wonder about how things had fared for T-Rex (beyond our light e-mail contact) and if our meeting would be awkward or conflicted, if I, simply by being part of “her past” would cause her distress or emotional pain. To make a long and complicated train of thinking short, I ended up feeling emotionally conflicted – a big mishmash of apprehension and regret. Then I started (stupid, stupid idea) intellectually reviewing all of my mental doubts about my life – what I’ve done with it, what I hope to do, who I had been there for, who I had failed, which only gave my emotions more fodder.

I think one strong factor in developing the whole emotional dynamic was my talking politics with the soldier on leave. He made an ambigious opening and I had to do the basic “conversational feeler thing” (I wasn’t going to rain on this guy’s leave if our views were opposed) but discovered that he was trying to articulate some ideas about the media and the perception of the war which I agreed with and offered my take on. He seemed to agree and appreciate what I was saying, but I kept thinking something like, “Man, instead of offering you verbal nuggets and historical examples for your ideas, why didn’t I try to use these tools to keep you out of Iraq in the first place?” Irrational I know, but sometimes you just feel like you should have made your voice more clear, spoken to more people, etc. I suppose I just feel that we, as Americans, have failed in so many ways and our failure might result in (among the grievous things which have already occurred) this randomly met nice young guy having a limb blown off.

I also have been weighing a “principle decision” with real world consequences. I haven’t spoken about that here yet, but the basic situation is that I could really mess up an individual’s general situation by calling attention to their completely questionable actions in a specific venue. It’s complicated, but I’ve tried to give this individual a solution that would take care of the questionable actions issue while not intruding on other (unfortunately intertwined with the actions) elements of their life. However all my efforts/suggestions have been shot down in a fearful/arrogant? way. Now I’m questioning my willingness to “pull the trigger” and call attention to this individual’s activities. It’s a poetry thing – petty to some no doubt, certainly in light of the soldier's situation, but an ethical lapse is an ethical lapse and an abuse of authority is an abuse of authority. This is something I can correct - and I think that we let "the small stuff" slide we contribute to an atmosphere where the bigger stuff slides as well. All the same, as Heinlein said, “You don’t spank a baby with an axe," which perfectly sums up my reservations.

When we got back to town, I said goodnight to RockstarJ and H and started walking home (beers were a dollar fifty). I got home very very late, depressed and distracted. But RockstarJ and H had second thoughts about letting me go and followed me. They thew pebbles at my window and gave me some flowers they had picked. It was very touching and cheered me up immensely. I am very very lucky to have such friends.

This morning I met up with RockstarJ, H, T-Rex and T-Rex’s main squeeze, who proved to be a balanced and elegant woman who made a great number of intelligent and insightful contributions to our picnic table conversation. That sounds kind of stuffy. She was absolutely charming. It was good for me to see T-Rex doing well and being with someone she loves. It’s as though life sends you a letter saying, “Don’t worry – it all worked out marvelously for her!” Talking over my dilemma on the ethics question with T-Rex was very helpful – as an “outsider” she was able to cut to the chase in a way that paralleled my own thinking on the matter and clarified it due to the perspective it gave me. I really miss having T-Rex around, but I’m so happy that she’s happy, even if it means she’s living on the opposite coast. She seems like all parts of her are fully engaged, not just some parts, as was clearly the case when she was living in Connecticut. She’s still cutting and aggressive though, and swears like a sailor. Gotta love it.

We’ll be meeting up again tonight, and I’m feeling much better about everything.

Dinosaurs and Whiskers

T-Rex is back. I am very excited. Tonight I'll see her in the flesh for the first time in five years. I’ll be trying to spend a lot of time with her and L. this week.

Not much news since I last wrote in - seven pillars yesterday. I rode with H, and NJ - afterward we met two other people (new to me) and had the big dinner thing. After that, cat, cornet, poetry, reading. On Sat. I'll be cooking breakfast (not too early) for H and RockstarJ, who are apparently on a mission to dress slutty and paint the town red tonight.

I'm developing quite a harem, considering I'm the only Y chromosome in the lot. In fact, that brings me to the second part of this entry’s title, which is the true glory of being male – the ability to grow facial hair. In the past I’ve had a full beard, a van dyke (often), a goatee, a handle bar moustache (waxed), a Ming the Merciless/Quasi Fu-Manchu setup, and sideburns. Usually they last a few months and go away. Generally they begin as a “project/luck beard” which my friend Gabriel (not real name) and I began a tradition of growing during finals in college. I’m not sure I have a reason to beard out this summer (one must only use the luck beard when absolutely needed) – so I’m kind of cultivating my sideburns right now, shaving a little lower each day. They’ll probably come off before I go down to DC, but it’s quite the riveting project in the meantime. My hair is dark (though it lightens in the summer) but my beard is ginger colored. When I only have the small "standard" sideburns, I always get people asking me if I dye/don't dye them. Like I’d dye my hair and eyebrows but not my sideburns, or I’d dye my sideburns but nothing else. . .

The Seven Pillars of the Scoplaw’s Summer

Biking

I had a crappy day at work, which is rare. All the admins were read a low key “riot act” which I won’t go into detail about. Basically it’s just silly stuff the office is taking way to seriously, coupled with this idea that our job descriptions are drifting ever downward towards data entry and a blindness to cause-effect. I think it’s basically due to a few people having to work more than they’ve worked in the recent past; now they want to spread the misery around. I’m tempted to be a jerk and really play by the rules, including all the rules I routinely bend to make the work flow more easily. It really is a great company, but due to a potential move the natives were restless enough before this. I expect to read this post in 3 months and think, “Scoplaw, how could you have cared?”

But anyway, after work I went biking with H. up to Rockville, which is a decent haul, 20 miles round trip. Rockville is pretty scenic actually, but by the time we arrived nothing was open. The plan is to do the same tomorrow, but really quickly to try to catch some shops before they close. On Thursday, we’ll do another spur ride with Nutritionist J, followed by a collaborative dinner effort involving lots of vegetables. I think NJ will be alone – while I like her boyfriend, the two of them just reek of disaster sometimes in the horsing around, woops just lopped off my thumb, kind of way.

Cornet

The cornet (still unnamed) has been fun and challenging thus far. I play the mouthpiece when I drive to and from work, then I practice at home. I’m working on the chromatic scale right now. The fingering is easy, but my lips are still getting numb fairly quickly. El Gato Perfecto does not share my enthusiasm.

El Gato Perfecto

Has a new appallingly cute ritual. She watches me come home in the window then dashes down to the landing where she stretches out, pretending that she’s been asleep in front of the door, waiting for my return, instead of trying to figure out how to kill the loud shiny thing in the black case.

Poetry

Revisions these past few days. I’ll be sending out work, an unusual thing for me. I feel the need to get some ’04 publication credits before I begin law school. I don’t think I’ve sent out anything in over a year now, as I’ve just been relying on solicitations.

Reading

Next on the list is Prosner’s “Frontiers of Legal Theory.” Should be interesting. I also picked up a paralegal textbook from a local bookstore that’s going out of business. That textbook has proved surprisingly useful as it articulates a more nuts and bolts approach which is interesting to think about along with the more abstract issues. I also have Martha Wells’ “The Wizard Hunters” on the shelf.

Mystery Pillar #6

Is going well.

And I’m keeping the Seventh spot open – because you should never not have an open window.

Gaps in the Record

Not to alarm anyone out there but there are almost always gaps in the record. (No, this isn’t a Reagan post – but for the record, check out this). Anyway, my company is working on a site for a client. We’re doing the usual poking around thing (physically and in whatever records we can get ahold of) when someone turns up old permits for installing two 50,000 underground storage tanks on the site, three years before the site closed. Since then the site’s been partially relandscaped. No one knows if these tanks are there, where they might be, or what’s in them. They could be environmental time bombs, just waiting to rust and leak.

Also, it looks like the site is much higher (relative to sea level) than it should be. Most likely meaning someone’s dumped a load of soil on top of the site and spread it around. Since there’s no record (yet found) of who dumped the soil (it could be our client), our client will do their best to use that to wiggle out of any environmental liability which could possibly be traced to the new surface soil. Or perhaps the intial surveryor screwed up, and the site is just as it always was. Gaps in the record.

Second general point –you can only look for things you know are there. Sure you can randomly test and hunt for causes of noticeable effects, but it's not like you can survey a site and in a kind of god-like way Know that nothing bad is lurking in the ground. This applies not only to physical things like the tanks but to unknown but dangerous compounds/chemicals/elements.

Meaning when some place is declared suitable for public use, a swimming pool is put in, and your kids go wading in it every summer afternoon, that only means that at the time it was declared suitable, it was suitable to the extent that nothing was found at that time. If some tank subsequently bursts and leaks, well, who’s going to know about it until there’s an obvious problem that arises. And maybe not even then. “Mom, the water tastes funny!” “Oh, be quiet Billy – shut your mouth when you swim.”

Also, perhaps there’s no tank but instead there’s something bad in the ground or water that’s always been there but is not being specifically looked for by the relevant regulatory agencies. Take Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, or Multiple Chemical Sensitivity – very real problems with no set definition, no single smoking gun. Would it surprise anyone to find out (after somebody clever discovers a test for X) that X was causing or contributing to the problems?

Another problem – what’s “polluted”? Why is 8ppm of Chemical X considered OK, but 9ppm of the same chemical warrants the state forcing environmental remediation on the properties in question?

Blah! I need coffee.

Questions Questions

Hmm. Two responses – a single question and another small set of questions – well, it’s a start and a welcome one at that. These are questions I wouldn’t have thought to ask myself or address overtly in the blog. I don’t know if I have permission to name my questioners’ names, so I won’t; but you have my thanks nonetheless.

Is H. your girlfriend?

I don’t anticipate writing in detail about my “personal life” on the blog. But no, H. is not my girlfriend – she’s a very old friend of mine from High School. We’re the last two of our social circle left in Connecticut, although T-Rex will be visiting this summer, which will bring the count to three dinosaurs. There’s also a chance Elegante will visit, bringing the count to 4 (briefly). I haven’t written about Elegante yet, but she and I used to be an item in college – afterwhich she and H. lived together as roommates for a long while. Elegante is not a middle of the road person – H. is a goddess and I am (now) a devil. I had thought we were on moderately good terms, but the more time that passes the more devilish I become. So it should be interesting. I may have to surrender H. to Elegante for the duration of her visit.

H. and I have very strong overlapping areas of interest and in other areas we’re more or less completely opposed. This dynamic tends to make our time together very structured. This summer, I’ll be spending a lot of time with H. because she’s interested in doing some serious bike-riding (for several reasons) and I’m also trying to get back on the saddle more consistently than I have these past few years. We drink beer and talk and play scrabble and bitch to each other – for me it’s a very comfortable and valued relationship. We also have a music/poetry overlap (there are parallels) – but this summer I’ll be learning (I should write, I am learning) the cornet, and I plan to draw heavily on H.’s knowledge. She’s a music teacher and a pretty bang-up trumpet/flute player. In August she’ll be touring with a band in Australia, and I’ll be headed down to D.C.

Do I subscribe to any particular theory of jurisprudence?

Not so’s I could be articulatin it. In fact, one of the benefits I hope I’ll garner from the first year of law school is that I’ll gain the terminology to more effectively express my thoughts on the law (which I’m sure will change as I grow in understanding.) I can say that I tend to view political, economic, and sociological issues from a very liberal/leftist end of the spectrum, although my personal conduct ranges between stolidly conservative on some issues and shockingly liberal on others. I can also say that I view American law as a flexible social construct that changes over time and which has core pillars that have been bent nearly sideways at points. But that’s the great thing about American law. It’s a wonderful tool to shape and define society. And I do think society needs to be shaped and defined as it progresses; while I have libertarian leanings, history is filled with too many examples of the strong persecuting the weak, especially in the “grey areas” created by new technologies (“BigFood says DDT is good for you – whoops!”) and political reconfigurations. So I guess it’s fair to say that I see the legal system as the battlefield on which the various political ideologies clash. While a lot of that clashing is tied up in and driven by economic/monetary issues, I think the potentially socially transformative issues/areas are: the war on drugs and the prison population/system, the environment, health care, educational access, labor issues, and the graying of America.

Who's your favorite Supreme Court justice ever?

Well, although I don’t agree with a lot of the stances he took, I do have a soft spot for Holmes, based in large part on his writing style. I’ll also confess that I get all misty over Earl Warren and Harry Blackmun for developing hearts and being guided by a sense of justice and equity.

Who's your favorite justice on today's court?

Tough one. I like Steven’s quirkiness and independence, but I’m closest to Ginsberg politically. I really enjoy Scalia’s histrionics – they’re funny till I remember that his vote counts.

The Coolness of Being In On It When It Began

I was a dorky kid – I admit it freely. But I was randomly dorky, which meant I bought/listened to both Licensed to Ill and Frontiers, both Purple Rain and Mosaic. Name the band from the last one and I’ll give you some kind of prize. Who says cheese isn’t good for you?

The cool things I acquired came more or less at random, by accident, through either my own exploring or the recommendations of friends way cooler than I.

As part of our Journey conversation, H. and I were discussing after-the-moment people who present themselves as though they were always cool – like they listened to Bob Mould before anyone else did. Often this kind of inflation is accompanied by an excision of past, now-embarrassing moments and interests. Could one boast about listening to Bob and then confess to having a thing for Rick Ashley just two years prior? Do these people ever say what they’re into now?

Hmm.

Anyway, our conversation reminded me of an anecdote which I dearly love and will share. It's really an exploit of a work-friend I had in Boston who went on to become a successful IP lawyer while I was pursuing my MFA. I will dub him Master of the Moment. MM had this great ability to realize just when and where conversational patterns began and ended, and his very sharp wit was used to outline these perfectly and wrench them to his own (often wise-assed) ends. For example, we were on the elevator at work, chatting away when the doors opened and the 5th floor hottie stepped on and turned her back on us to face the doors. She had the reputation of getting around. Without missing a beat, MM segued from a sentence which he was in the middle of as the doors opened (perhaps it closed with – “at the end of the weekend”) to, in the same tone, as though he was continuing a long story, “So imagine my relief when I found out it could be treated with a topical ointment.” The woman from the fifth floor got visibly stiffer, as though someone had poured something cold down her back. I bit my tongue to keep from sniggering. Ping! The doors opened and she popped out, not looking back. MM could use his skills for more diplomatic conversational steering purposes as well, of course, and I expect to see him in office one day.

The anecdote which connects with after-the-fact-coolness took place on the same elevator. One of our office mates, Drippy Goth Boy was busy chatting up another officemate who was so bland I can’t even remember any details about her. Anyway, DGB was going on about Joy Division, which is a perennial “I was into them when no one knew who they were” band. (Personally I came to Joy Division through New Order, which is I think the usual path.) We just happened to catch him when, turning his sensitive dark eyes down at the deeply affected Bland Girl, he said, “So I was really really bummed out when Ian died.”

Now he said this in a tone that implied Ian’s death came after his love for the band had been established, that it was a shock, that his experience of Joy Division’s music been changed because of it. There was no mistaking that, given the earlier conversational fragment we caught. Yet Ian Curtis committed suicide in 1980. I wasn’t in the 4th grade at the time, and neither was MM (who was my age). Drippy Goth Boy was younger than MM and I. Now I as I’m realizing this in a flash, and before Drippy can continue on with his next sentence, MM’s opened mouth drawls out, “Me too – I was so bummed out I couldn’t play with blocks all - day - long.”

I loved it. Still do. Blocks! What could be more indicative of age while reinforcing childishness and implying simplicity? Block-head. “all day long” came out with slight pauses between the words as MM hammered the point home.

There was the usual flustered backpedaling qualifying and MM’s acceptance of such, while I did my quiet sniggering thing. I think the stories I like most end up with me quietly sniggering at something. I’m not sure why that is. I think part of my appreciation for MM’s wit is that it couldn’t be translated into other situations – it was exquisitely topical and very speedy.

Zippin about

Well, that was a full and busy weekend.

I should have kept notes or something. Hmm.

Friday: soloed on the fixed – 20 miles, did some evening errands.
Saturday: morning bike ride with H. (hop loop), Café breakfast, solo tagsaling, cleaning, fixed the sink, reading, met up with H. very late and crushed her in Scrabble. Reveled in this.
Sunday: woke, wrote, biked (fixed), collapsed, slept, read, chatted with EPG and did some poem collaborations, bought books, study/reading/trumpet with H., pool hall with H. then greasy diner.
Monday: cornet, bike ride with Nutritionist J + her Boy and H., further ride into Hartford (fixed), discovered a vegetarian Indian restaurant, saw “Supersize Me,” dinner was had at the grille.

Not bad. I did about a hundred miles of fixed road and free trail biking. I ate out way too much. I had lots of conversations with strangers or near strangers. I had High School Flashbacks. I bought a cornet. I saw a good movie.

Details for the fallible memory:

Friday, I dropped off some stuff for Photogirl’s relatives to take with them when they visited her in Germany, then took the fixed out though the backroads of semi-rural Connecticut. Overall a good day – work was fairly hectic but the exercise kind of burnt my frustration out of me. I did most of the errand stuff – laundry, cleaning, etc.

Saturday, I did the usual morning run with H. and had breakfast. I went tag saling and didn’t see anything to add to the stash. I’m getting down to kind of exotic extras, really – I think I’m OK with either dorm or apartment sundries.

I had a kind of odd poetry conversation with one old guy at his clean-out-the-garage sale. It went from general work to education to writing to lyrics to music. He’s a drummer, as is my father. So we chatted a bit and I mentioned I’d been considering picking up an instrument – probably a horn of some type. (The moment just seems ripe for it and I think, even if I don’t learn to play all that well, the benefits for my voice-breath and projection would be quite useful. Plus, H. a trumpet teacher, can supervise me.) The old guy lit up and said he had his dead brother’s cornet in the basement – then he scurried off to get it. He brought up the dusty case and took out the horn – it seemed to be in very good shape. So I fiddled with the valves (perhaps releasing the last of his brother’s bottled breath?) and said I’d think about it and would probably drop by later in the weekend.

Then I went back to the house and cleaned out the bathroom sink trap. I had to buy some replacement parts, but the whole thing went smoothly enough. I pulled out a medium-rat-sized plug of something wet and nasty from the pipe, which had always drained slowly and resisted any kind of chemical inducement to move faster. I’m in kind of an odd domestic situation right now. One of the things I try to do is basic maintenance and surreptitious fixing as I can. HouseJ, my roommate/landlord is a very good guy, but I think he’s just burnt out on keeping the place up. It’s a huge house – he really only uses a small portion of it. He’s quiet, so I’m never sure if he’s not noticed whatever new thing I’ve done or just does not care. Still, I’d like to make sure the place is at least as good as it was when I moved in, which means fighting a host of things which are on their last legs.

I did some poetry reading and writing then met up with H. for a late night. Nutritionist J, her boy, and some others were supposed to show up but all pled fatigue. H. and I went head to head on Scrabble and discussed the cornet option. H. is nearly impossible to beat at Scrabble – she sees points and I see words. Still, through some lucky draws and some odd combo words (I’d do a short word then extend it with a prefix or suffix, double counting the letters) I was able to keep abreast. I’m sure she’ll shut down that strategy the next time we play. My sniggering moment came when I used an open “v” to spell “victory” across a triple word score. And so it was. And so it was. H. also introduced me to a local ale from a neighboring town (which I thought made nothing of note).

Sunday is something of a blur. I got to bed at about 3 on Sat, then slept till 10ish. I did a quick tour on the fixed to wake up, and worked on some poetry. English Poetry Girl was on-line so we chatted and passed some poem suggestions back and forth. After all my workshopping activities, I’m kind of afraid of encouraging bad habits – one of which is “instantly rewriting” poems for people or “collaborating,” which, if there’s a difference in skill/perception, is not really doing the poet seeking advice any kind of service at all. Workshops (especially on-line ones) tend to quickly devolve to the lowest common denominator, and in their desire to be “supportive” short circuit any strong criticism that might cause someone to learn and improve, so to be an effective moderator and tone-setter you have to close the door on a lot of slippery slopes and narrowly define the activities at hand. So it’s been awhile since I’ve tried to push a poem along, shoulder to shoulder with someone who has their own strong sense of balance and can accept or reject your advice based purely on its merit (as opposed to letting a student/teacher dynamic creep in where the other party either blindly accepts or rejects). It was nice.

Then I sat down on the bed with the intention of doing some reading. Here’s the strange thing; when I’m tired and sitting on the bed, my cat suddenly gains the strength of about 20 men. She hopped up on my lap, looked into my eyes, and put one little paw up on my chest. Then she pushed. I went right down.

I got up late in the afternoon and went to the bookstore where I read parts of, and then bought, some books on contemporary legal issues. Then I hied my ass over to H.’s house, again for a get-together which never happened. We killed time waiting for people: I read, H. played. Then she lent me one of her older trumpets and I practiced my range, which goes all the way from “flatulent duck” to “constipated mosquito.” We talked some more about the cornet and I decided to get it. Eventually there’s only so much waiting you can do, so we decided to leave her house and play pool. (Here’s where the High School Flashback evening begins.) We went to a couple of places before settling on one we used to go to in High School. One of the things I like about H. is that she’s a technically competent player at almost whatever she sets her hand to. In some things she’s far more mercenary than I – Scrabble for example. To me it’s just a game – and part of playing games is to add your own rules, to play the game “in your style.” But in pool I’m kind of ruthless. The art is all in winning, not how you play, and the most aesthetic choices arise from their utility, not their level of difficulty, wit, or any meta-narrative considerations. “Your style” arises from the game itself and your own limitations, it’s not something you assertively pursue. In this way, it’s rather like poetry. But anyway, we were both a hell of a long time removed from practice, although our individual strategies were sound. We’d each go on runs where we’d pocket 5 in a row, then choke 5 in a row. The muscles forget after awhile. The soundtrack at the pool hall was very High School. We had a long discussion about Journey and their video game. We ended up at a High School greasy spoon (more Journey played) for 2am omelets.

Monday: I got up at 9, drove to the old guy’s house, and bought the cornet. He basically gave it away to me. It came with a case, two mouthpieces, a mute and valve oil. It’s a generic serviceable student model, a Bundy with a slightly dinged bell. But I’m not going to be auditioning or recording anything. I’m very very pleased with the cornet and must come up with a name for her. It will be interesting to see how my cornet patterns develop. I had bought a guitar but was self-conscious playing it in front of my then-roommate – plus when you spend a lot of time typing, it’s hard to transition those fingers to gripping. With the cornet though, I’ll be standing, doing a lot of mouth/breathwork, and my fingertips won’t take a beating. I’d like to do an hour a day – I think it’s a reasonable goal.

H and I went biking with Nutritionist J and her boy – it was a fairly good ride, except for the part when NJ fell on the trail because she and her Boy were goofing off. Then she got pissy and he was embarrassed. It ended well though. There were a lot of people out on the trail yesterday.

After that, NJ and Boy left to do NJ/Boy things and H and I decided to figure out the bike path into Hartford, which involves bridges and things. So H took her mountain bike (she’s not happy with her old road bike, so I’ll probably give her one of mine) and I took my fixed, Lumina. We stopped at a strange little Indian vegetarian place for breakfast/lunch. The décor was about 1.5, in the sub-Church-Basement range, but the food was a solid 7/8, and the price was low. I’ll be going back. After a few false turns we found the bridge access we needed and finished mapping out the route to the theatre that H. works in (the purpose of the mission.) The theatre is small and quirky, and I can’t remember the last time I paid for a film there. While we were there we saw Supersize Me, which was a good little flick. NJ would have loved it had she came. It goes fairly fast and presents its information cleanly. Regardless of your stance on the politics/policies of BigFood/FastFood – it’s worth seeing.

The ride back wasn’t as bad as I had feared – cold and rainy on stiff legs, but easily manageable. Dinner was had at the local grille – this area of the country is blessed with an abundance of reasonably priced eateries. Given my appallingly frugal and simple dietary habits at home, I probably eat out more (no fast food!) while spending less on food than most people my age. Actually, with the exception of the coffee rolls from the Polish Bakery, my diet is pretty good – grains, fruits, veggies. Little in the way of processed foods, almost no dairy (excepting yogurt), little sugar, no land or air animals (though sea animals make their showing at least once a week.) My big vice is still coffee, but I’m trying to drink decaf during the week.

Well, that’s it for the weekend ramble. Nothing too profound. But that’s my life.

And what is life but a collection of not too profound particulars? The universal is always (and only) bound in particulars.


Change

Scheherazade, over at Stay of Execution, has been blogging about change in her usual lucid manner. In fact, it seems like change is the unofficial theme of the small legal blogging universe to which I subscribe. People are moving across the country, exploring new and challenging internships or jobs, and, like myself, attempting to pick through the woods of Error, which seem to lie thickly about the financial aid process. I, however, am no Redcrosse. I’ll be leaving my state, my job, my friends, most of my projecty stuff, my tools, my car, possibly my cat, and perhaps a long standing love relationship.

Maybe I should chalk up my current mood to the rain or to nomadic weariness – since 1990 I haven’t lived in the same set of rooms or apartment for longer than a single calendar year. In fact, given the renter’s overlap, it’s safe to say I haven’t lived in the same set of rooms or apartment for a single calendar year. I have moved for my education, for my sanity, for a job, for love, and out of despair. At times I think I have moved out of habit, or been pressured by the shifting world of roommates and lovers. I have given away beds, cars, desks, plants, cats, clothing and the greater part of a small but impressive library of poetry and theory. I have given away cities and regions, summers and oceans. I have no fixed place, nowhere to return to, no place I can store things without checking every so often to see if they’re still there.

In saying, “yes” to my life, I have said, “no” to countless things – and in this way, I am no different than anybody else. I think overall that I’ve done well enough – that I’ve in the main made choices which I respected at the time and which I’m able to feel good about now. I’ve pursued something in which I think I have a gift, and I’ve been very happy doing so despite the demands it placed on me, despite the poverty, despite the scorn and dismissal, despite the misapprehensions of what (and how) I do.

I think one of the more noticeable side-effects of my nomadic life is a lack of trust, a strong suspicion of other people’s motives. Relatives and acquaintances who heartily congratulated me on my tooth-skin acceptance into Georgetown (and poo-pooed my excitement at getting into UConn) are the same ones who don’t remember/care where I did my other graduate studies. People who now make pro forma offers to do, “Whatever I can to help,” well, I have to wonder where these concerned folks were when I really needed them. I’m just glad that I have a few friends who have been around though the lean times, a few honest offers of support that goes beyond name only. They’re the ones who matter to me.

In some ways I feel that LS is going to husk the peripherals of my current life off of me. Granted, I’m pressed for time now, and I’ll be folding up my charity poetry projects to focus on my own education and subsequent legal career, but I’m simply not going to have time for the casual acquaintances, much less those people who are trying to elbow themselves back into my life. It makes me feel like a bit of a selfish bastard though, and I’ll sure I’ll hear that term directed at me from plenty of these recently interested individuals. In some ways I have sympathy for those who lost faith in me, for those who pushed me out the door and expected I’d linger at the stoop, or those who thought I erred by pursuing poetry and would someday "see the light," "come crawling back," or (how often I have heard this!) have, "decided to give up poetry for the law!" (I can assure you nothing of the sort will happen.) How I’ve lived and the goals I've pursued in my life aren't easy for some to understand. For example, some older relatives want to reestablish their relationships with me now that I seem to be doing something “worthy” – but should I make time for these people? Can I? I think not.

Perhaps Longfellow is closest to how I feel today, which is strongly laced with something of the labor and cost of poetry:

Mezzo Cammin

Half my life is gone, and I have let
The years slip from me and have not fulfilled
The aspiration of my youth, to build
Some tower of song with lofty parapet.

Not indolence, nor pleasure, nor the fret
Of restless passions that would not be stilled,
But sorrow, and a care that almost killed,
Kept me from what I may accomplish yet;

Though, half-way up the hill, I see the Past
Lying beneath me with its sounds and sights,--
A city in the twilight dim and vast,

With smoking roofs, soft bells, and gleaming lights,--
And hear above me on the autumnal blast
The cataract of Death far thundering from the heights.

Farewell, Coffee Goddess

Today is the Coffee Goddess’s last day. We feted her at a local Italian place where I had a deceptively small looking Sicilian fritada. Today the office will have their minigolf tournament (emptied beer cases stacked out back bode well for the event), but I will be going to a medical appointment. This one should be fairly low-key for me – no proddings or drawings.

I don’t know what I’ll do with myself tonight.

More biking probably. . .certainly some poetry.

I’m reading Denise Levertov’s “The Poet in the World” which is a fascinating collection of essays. DL manages to cogently discuss the more mystical and abstract considerations of the art without waxing lyrical in an annoying way. She’s also spot on as far as her craft suggestions and insights. There are very few books written by poets for poets worth recommending. Certainly, Coleridge’s Biographia Literaria, although not a “