Professing * Reflecting

Friday, April 28, 2006

Friday poem, James Tate

Beautiful New Mirrors Have Arrived

Of course that doesn't mean anything
by itself. You'd have to look into one
to be qualified, and even then your impressions
would be provisional, and I know you well enough--
parsimonious pepper pot--but who would want
that kind of tempation around the house,
there's work to do, there's so much stuff as it is
to pick up from the floor, polliwogs, firecrackers,
shrapnel of all kinds. And my studies, Retro-
gression and Requiem Shark, to name but one area
I am immersed in, and there must be at least ten others,
so a beautiful new mirror is really out of the question.
And yet there is at least one part of me that would
like letting go, adios lifeboat, adieu palm-lined avenues,
old rabbit's foot you mean nothing to me now.
And what then? Oscillate through the underlife,
no projects, no deadlines, family or friends--
that's no way to travel, save for the dead
and they have little choice in the matter.
And, besides, I know what I look like,
I've caught glimpses of a hungry, stalking thing,
or a weak and wretched creature about to drop.
None of that interests me. A very funny sight
is a flamingo having its lunch upside down in the water.



Monday, April 24, 2006


--Stayed inside for most of this rainy, rainy, windswept, cold weekend. Clicking through the channels, I came across The Perfect Storm and the scene was so similar to what was going on outside that I thought for a moment that the television screen had momentarily been replaced by a window (and not in a metaphorical way). Then when the camera shifted from shots of the Nor'easter to shots inside the Andrea Gail, I realized that George Clooney and Marky Mark could not possibly be floating four stories above the ground, soaking wet and trying frantically to get my attention.

--Bad weekend with going off the medication. Do not know why this mood problem has hit two weeks after cutting my dosage of Zoloft in half, but I am convinced it has to do with the meds. I get extremely irritated and irritable about 45 minutes to an hour after taking it. I also realized that I am probably addicted to Ambien, which I have been taking because Zoloft is causing serious sleep problems. Of course I only "realized" this after Coco pointed out to me that "not being able to sleep without it = being addicted to it." And by the way, did Eminem really have to go to rehab for an Ambien addiction? Because I feel this is just so lame of a rehab excuse for a musician. What happened to the street cred of the heroin addiction?

--I feel bad for Meg Fuckwit, the better half of The Fuckwits, my yuppified craptastic downstairs neighbors. I heard her sobbing softly for over an hour today, after Hamilton Fuckwit had gone to work. Terrible.

--I really love Lucyrain's post about department/faculty events, which I would have responded to if I had not been attending one myself. "Hate" is not too strong a word. They sometimes really suck, my dear, and I always feel guilty and bitchy and anti-social and ungrateful for dreading them. I am so glad to be in good company in bitching about them.

--I am inspired by Dr. Crazy's post about the public library. As a child who moved around so much, I was always at home in the public library. "It" (of course there were many) became as stable a place as my grandmother's farm in Oklahoma. The smell and the feeling were pretty much the same in every town. I too have a long history of fines, which includes an enormous graduate-school fine forgiven after a lengthy e-mail debate between a librarian and me. She finally wrote, "I am forgiving your fine in the amount of $ xxx.xx, not because I think you are right but because I no longer have the time to correspond with you about this matter." The one thing I complained about to the Graduate Dean of Arts and Sciences in my exit interview after receiving my Ph.D. was the library's policies. They were changed within the semester. Victory! I love librarians and to this day feel obnoxious and guilty about the battle, but the policy was ridiculous and I really, really couldn't afford that fine. In any case, because of Crazy's post, I have been inspired to plan frequent walks to my public library (which is close) this summer. I will check out books of all kinds! I will rediscover the joys of pleasure reading! Of course, one summer when I was 12, I checked out and read an entire shelf of books on the history of Laos for no other reason than the shelf of books was there--in the young adult's reading section--and I did not really know anything about Laos. So who knows what I might decide I might decide to do with my library privileges. Whatever the case, I know quite a bit about Laos to this day and the idea of summer library walks and reading is really cheering me up.

--I do not think I have shared this guilty pleasure of mine with my blog readers yet. OK, here goes, I love watching QVC. I never buy anything. I never want to buy anything. I am never tempted, even when the grand narcissist of all inane narcissists, Jonathan (from the craptastic brilliance that is Blow Out), is selling his "product." I am simply mesmerized and contented and strangely lulled by the hosts' endless virtuosity with the banalities of consumerism. Am I right? Is it not a salve for the soul?


Friday, April 21, 2006

Lorca for Poetry Friday

The Little Mute Boy

The little boy was looking for his voice.
(The king of the crickets had it.)
In a drop of water
the little boy was looking for his voice.

I do not want it for speaking with;
I will make a ring of it
that my silence may wear
on his little finger.

In a drop of water
the little boy was looking for his voice.

(The captive voice, far away,
put on a cricket's clothes.)

--Federico GarcĂ­a Lorca
(read original in Spanish here)



Thursday, April 20, 2006


My schedule is crazy this semester--a preposterous thing I never would have chosen, a thing that was basically mandated by the dean after my chair threw me to the wolves. On the days I teach (for basically 5 hours straight), my brain is mush.

In any case, I have two important things I must report before I pass out:

#1 My two best friends, one long-distance and one in-town, are dirty traitors in that they are smoking cigarettes--cigarettes that they, like me, "gave up" months ago. Tonight, I was talking to Coco on the phone and I heard an unmistakable inhale. I have not had a cigarette in over nine months! Goddammit! I need a cigarette! I somehow knew it that moment that Paloma had also started smoking again, so when she called later in the evening, I answered with, "Did you start smoking again?" It was true! Each admitted to have started smoking again within the past few weeks! Traitors! And they lie and say they are not enjoying the cigarettes and say that they feel guilty and that they envy me in my cigaretteless freedom! Lies upon lies!

#2 Strangely, I am now part of the Avian flu blogging community. Of course, as you know, I have been concerned about H5N1 for some time. But I do feel a certain amount of pressure. I do have many, many pictures of Butch, the West Coast Gull, whom I hung out with and photographed for an entire afternoon last month, so perhaps posting some of them (with commentary) will keep me current.

OK, folks, g'night. Hope to post this weekend, even though my evil chair is determined to run me into the ground (yes, even on Saturdays).


Tuesday, April 18, 2006

Hyde St. Pier

Too tired to blog anything of substance. Here is a photo from a recent glorious day. Oh yes, I was playing hooky from a conference. This is my friend, Butch, a West Coast Gull, posing proudly, reflecting happily on his recent lucky escape from both the Avian flu and the bullets of the Vice President of the United States of America.

Originally uploaded by dr. medusa.


Sunday, April 16, 2006

The absence of Medusa

...the specific character of despair
is precisely this: it is unaware of
being despair. --Kierkegaard, The Sickness Unto Death

OK--so I do not actually read Kierkegaard, but I do read Walker Percy and he begins The Moviegoer with the above quotation. I started reading Walker Percy when I was 19 and in love with a rugby player from Northern Alabama who was friends with Percy's nephew. This is a person who once locked me out of my own bedroom and proceeded to drop a hit of acid and listen to Jim Morrison records all night long while shaving his head with a Gillette Daisy shaver, and whom I once left sleeping in a small canyon in Stone Mountain, Georgia, by scaling a rock wall in the middle of the night WHILE IT WAS RAINING. My attachment to pretty much any novel he recommended was passionately secured early on, and I tend to reread them often.

I have picked up The Moviegoer a few times in the past few months or so but have not made it past the first fifty pages. My initial thought is that I am aware to the point of discomfort that the New Orleans Percy speaks of no longer exists. But I also keep tripping over this Kierkegaard headnote. In its utter hopelessness, despair is completely invisible to the person who despairs. It just is what is.

In order to avoid the despair of being seen (and hence being destroyed) or the despair of seeing (and hence turning the object of the gaze to stone), Medusa might, as we might imagine, tire of the game. She might withdraw and rest for a bit, robbing the myth of its power in the process and--as the slight smirk in this fragment of a Greek mask signifies--perhaps enjoying the solitude, whatever the price. Unlike Cixous's Medusa, she might be too exhausted to prove that she is really beautiful and laughing.

I have struggled with the ifs and hows of blogging what has been going on with me. For now, suffice it to say that I have been through a loss, a depression, a course of medication, and an uneven weening process that now seems to be somewhat under control.

I feel like I needed to be silent for a time, but at some point I think I forgot that I, lacking the ability to reflect, was lost in that which I was not speaking.

So, in short, I am back and--if not laughing and beautiful--at least glad to be out of hiding.


Holiday greetings

Originally uploaded by dr. medusa.
. . .from Jake, Medusa, and the Easter Bunny.


Saturday, April 15, 2006

My very own slogan

Precisely what I need for my return to the blog!

Via Ali,

All You Need is a Medusa and a Dream

Get your own at The Slogan Generator.


Friday, April 14, 2006

A little Delmore for Poetry Friday

The Spring

Spring has returned! Everything has returned!
The earth, just like a schoolgirl, memorizes
Poems, so many poems. ... Look, she has learned
So many famous poems, she has earned so many prizes!

Teacher was strict. We delighted in the white
Of the old man's beard, bright like the snow's:
Now we may ask which names are wrong, or right
For "blue," for "apple," for "ripe." She knows, she knows!

Lucky earth, let out of school, now you must play
Hide-and-seek with all the children every day:
You must hide that we may seek you: we will! We will!

The happiest child will hold you. She knows all the things
You taught her: the word for "hope," and for "believe,"
Are still upon her tongue. She sings and sings and sings.

Delmore Schwartz, 1965



Thursday, April 13, 2006

Certainly cannot complain about the funding

Some pics from the conference circuit:


Wednesday, April 12, 2006

Some things I am wondering . . .

. . .as I stare out of the window on a beautiful Spring afternoon:

Why do birds like to roll in the dirt?

Will this academic year (and especially this crazy semester that has robbed me of time to blog if not the last shreds of my sanity) ever end?

When will papers learn to grade themselves?

How are all ya'll??