"lucky day" | friday | october 13, 2006 | 2:13 pm
Powerful tired. Mighty, mighty tired. That pretty much sums up the near
catatonic state I am in right now. Now, granted part of the tiredness comes from
being up way too late and drinking my night away -- last night's
grad pub (otherwise
known as EnGraPu or EGPG) went to my head and my liver. However, it has been a
long, chock full, workaholic week, too. Hence, a much needed "Miller Time".
The last couple of weeks have been pretty good, pretty even keeled. I am not wholly
happy (yet), but I am working on it in the ways I know how and in the ways I can
actually control and change. School has been engrossing and exhausting. The
original plan of just taking it easy, of lightening my work load so I can just
gracefully finish my coursework has not quite gone as planned. I am taking two
classes. One class, ENGL 556B: Cyborg Democracies, is with my Ph.D. chair and
is right up the alley that my dissertation might be about. It's got a ton of reading.
The other class, ENGL 556A: Genealogy of Black Cultural Studies, is supposed to be
just a readings course for me (in other words, I just attend class, participate, and
do the reading). It's got more than a ton of reading. A buttcrapload ton of reading.
Just keeping up has been pretty rigorous. I must have to ready 500 pages or more a week,
and since a lot of it is theory or unfamiliar material, it seems like a lot more and
it takes a bit longer to do. I am challenged and I am learning a lot, but it's not as
restful as I was hoping it to be. I have done one presentation already for my
Black Cultural Studies class (which I really didn't have to do but I wanted to show
my commitment to the material). I have another presentation to do next Monday for
my other class.
The hardest day for me is Wednesday. I have class on Monday and Wednesday, and I
teach on Tuesday and Thursday. So, I have to be on campus most of the week. But
Wednesdays are exhausting because I'm at school nearly all day. I have office
hours in the morning, then I have a break, then I have back to back class. My
cyborg class is two hours, and then my black cultural studies class is three.
I take so many notes (a lot for a graduate class) that my hand is sore for the
next day. My biggest issue is just trying to keep all the reading and the concepts
and the details and the material in my head and discrete enough that I don't end
up confusing the two classes. When I get home on Wednesday, all I want to do is
just become a slug and watch fun television (like
which alas is almost over).
Somewhere, sometime, I have to get to work on putting my exam lists together. I have
no idea when or how. A big roadblock is that I am not entirely sure what my dissertation
project or focus is going to be. All I have right now is a working idea that I am
going to write about cyberspace and queerness and identity and democratic potential
and technoculture. It is so much easier to come up with your lists if you already
know what you want to do. For me, the lists and the exam are exploratory. It's all
a mess and a jumble. I really need to just sit down and start. That's what revision
is for later. And maybe a larger pattern or picture or problem will emerge.
Teaching has been time and energy consuming as well. My ENGL 111 composition class on
is going well, though my students are still a little trepidatious about the stories,
the material, and the central idea of the course. Class discussion has been underwhelming.
I need to wake them up a bit before it's too late. Right now, I think they are just
insecure about the readings and afraid to say something wrong or stupid or naive.
It is different teaching literature, in this case cyberpunk short stories. On the one
hand, I want to teach them to appreciate it, to value it for its artistic and creative
and narrative merit. On the other hand, I want to make sure that they understand that
there are ways to engage literature that are critical, theoretical, and relevant to
their lives no matter their discipline. It's a difficult challenge. I am warming up
to my class, and hopefully they'll get past the shy stage and dive in.
This past Tuesday, I played the "label game" with my students, a diversity activity
about stereotyping and labeling and such. It's always a big hit because they get to
role play. After the label game, I always have the class identify what my labels
are -- real or percieved -- and write them on the board. I leave the room when they
do this, and they must reach consensus for a label to go on the board. In the past,
most classes are euphemistic about my sexuality (only one class has ever put on the
board "gay"); most use words like "ambiguous" or "feminine" or "metrosexual." This
quarter's class is no different, but they take the cake with their stab at what they
think I am:
effeminate (in a Johnny Deppish in POTC kind of way)
Hysterical. I guess being compared to Johnny Depp isn't such a bad thing. It makes
me laugh every time I think about it.
I have a lot to do this weekend. I'm just going to have to chug along. I am going to
spend a very quiet Friday the 13th at home. Do some laundry. Get some reading done.
Maybe even get to bed early tonight. That's all for now. More soon.
read footnotes |
• • •
"to dadi" | sunday | october 15, 2006 | 11:01 am
APPY BIRTHDAY to my father, who I miss
very much. I really hope you have a great one (and I hope you got my message and
birthday fax). Much love, always.
• • •
"birthday wishes" | wednesday | october 18, 2006 | 11:01 am
APPY BIRTHDAY to my friend, Tracy! I hope you
had a great day and night! Sorry I'm not there to drink it up with you!
• • •
"hello, it's your past" | friday | october 20, 2006 | 11:01 am
GOT ANOTHER E-MAIL FROM A FORMER STUDENT THIS WEEK.
It's always really nice and heartening to hear nice and heartening things from your past.
I'm glad I am so blessed and honored to have a kind of legacy -- another reason why I love
teaching so much. It's awesome. Here's what they wrote:
You probably don't remember me. My name is Eduardo and I took ENGL101X in the Fall of 2002
at the University of Maryland with you. I was looking at random pages online when I
accidentally saw yours and I thought I'd drop you a line, or two.
So Fall 2002 was my first semester at Maryland (and in the US). It was really tough for
me: new language, no friends, cold weather, and all. In fact, now that I look back, I
think I have suppressed almost all memory from that time. But I do remember your class
because it was the only class I enjoyed that semester. The only class I'd look forward
to every week.
I remember the first day of classes. It took me a while to find the CSPAC building,
but I was the first one there. When you walked in, I thought, "I hope this guy is
not in my class." I must say that, in my country, people look the same, dress the same
and behave the same. So anyone that looked "different" seemed REALLY foreign to me
(I'd never seen a guy with pink/blue/purple hair, or with a mohawk) . For my surprise,
not only were you in my class, you were the instructor! By the end of the semester,
I felt you were a good friend. Someone I liked being around. In fact, someone I identified with.
I also remember the label game . I think I had the "poor" label. I remember my friend
Stephanie had "prostitute", which I thought was really funny/weird. I don't remember how
we labeled you, though. But I think "punk" was one of them.
I remember the response papers, watching Smallville and Friends, watching a documentary
on the [Seattle] riots (which made me so depressed and angry), our discussions on the
Laramie Project, you saying Hillary Clinton could be the next president of the US, and
Levels of the game. I actually I remember a line from that book: "He had talent to squander."
(I remember no one knew what squander meant, myself included).
I remember getting a C on my first paper. I remember getting an A on a paper too...I
remember that, on the last day of classes, you showed us your UMD ID from when you were
a freshman and also some of your work. I remember a poem inspired by Anne Frank's story,
if I'm not mistaken, that had a big impact on me and that I'd really like to read again.
Anyways, you're probably not interested on all this nostalgia I'm feeling right now. So
I'll end here. But I'd like to thank you for being such a cool teacher, for inspiring me
so much and for making that first semester enjoyable!
All the best,
read footnotes |
• • •
"sometimes" | friday | october 20, 2006 | 11:01 am
CASTALIA LAST NIGHT.
Castalia is the
University of Washington's
MFA's monthly readings
night. Five current MFAs read their work, both poetry and fiction. It was
surprisingly good. And it was a little inspiring and sad for me. Why the
ambivalence? I think deep down I still wish I had done an MFA. In that spirit,
I offer a tiny poem:
the poetry is the only escape,
the only way back home,
a tiny crack in the face of memory
where I can sneak glimpses
of what I left so boldly
just five months ago.
I never went till now.
I hadn't seen the country of
myself, my self.
The nest was too comfortable,
so familiar, familial.
But you left first, I know,
to leave the pain in your blood,
in the sad faces I wore
whenever I held your
And I was wrong.
I thought I could grow up
faster out here,
catch up to my birthday
in a city that knows
rebuilding after great changes.
read footnotes |
• • •
"the great pumpkin" | tuesday | october 31, 2006 | 11:01 am
WAS THE GREAT PUMPKIN FOR HALLOWEEN.
It was an easy costume for a party I went to over the weekend. My mohawk was green
(the stem). I wore a bright orange t-shirt with black eyes and mouth (body). And
I had brown shorts on (the ground). Of course, there were some youngin's there that
had no idea what or who
The Great Pumpkin
• • •
last month |