Wednesday, February 25, 2009

fallen perilously behind on blog posts; research papers, rank plagiarism, and tons of other responsibilities, some unmet, just a-flyin' by. a stray-dog holiday came and went, very cold garbage out on the street in a bleak gray winter, people would be walking by these big piles, somber looks on their faces; they're getting by somehow i suppose, our family is so busy we hardly have time to notice, garbage or not, spring or not, occasional snow flurries. quotation marks, i think, are like grains of sand sometimes, impossible to keep track of, impossible even to put around the right words, let alone remember when you absolutely need them. it's how my students feel, i've concluded, looking into vacant, slightly deadened glazes from too much work, too much time at the mill, no fresh air. 's been a rough term for everyone.

i did, however, get invited to the dominican republic, though it turned out i had to apply even for that, and that hung over my head for a while, as the papers flew by and i had no time to do it, until finally, i got organized and zinged off what i needed to; that will happen in june, if it happens, and will provide a break from what has become an impossibly difficult schedule. denver, also, coming up, very quickly: end of march. lots of work to do, lots to prepare; among them an siuc reunion. but, it's just here where i have the most trouble: two full-time classes, lots of grading; other stuff piling up; and finally, students who really need my time to pull through. a colleague broke an ankle and everyone pitched in to teach her classes, but i couldn't; i taught at all her hours, and was totally overswamped. what to do? watch it fly by. i was too tired to even protest.

out in the real world, old viper stand-bys have become known as "zombie banks" - bank of america? citi? and the whole nation waiting to see exactly how someone will avoid their going under? and this kind of "zombie" credit- does this mean that, for example, if we owed money to a "zombie" that, then, caved in and failed to exist, would our debt become "zombie debt?" we could go back to a system of trading black walnuts for salt & soap, if a neighbor had a lye bucket out. i'd trade all my quotation marks...they've become useless to me; the vice president, all the high mucky-mucks have pretty much let go of them anyway. they're like "zombie" punctuation. except i like putting them around the word "zombie"...

the african music has been flying too, as we drive around this small stray-dog-holiday town, garbage on the curbs, the world still confused about if prez day is still there, or do we still stick to abe day, as is our illinois custom, or did we trade prez day for vet's day, and that's why siuc, which is still three quarters of this town, still has to go to work, even while all the kids are let out of school. george's day came & went too, as did the valentine, the gras, lent, whatever. so the upshot is, nobody knows whether to put their garbage out, and the stray dogs have an extra day to have at it, though they also are nowhere to be found, maybe they're doing the zulu ball, at some mardi gras parade, or chasing some loose salukis at basketball games which we appear to be losing a good number of. in any case, i'm hearing swahili, a congolese language, perhaps kikuyu, and yoruba, a west african language, among others, there's one from nigeria i have no idea about, maybe that's housa-fulani. but we've heard the songs millions of times already, the little guys won't let me do pure bluegrass, but somehow are actually learning these african languages, especially 'hakuna matata' and 'shee-shay-yea' - the buttah-fly, whose name reminds us of our own shee-sho, brother gone and missed. there's more; before it's over, we'll not only know the languages, and the difference between them, but also, the rhythms, and how to carry the song, as we try to find a parking place. the weather is still cold- no way to ride a bicycle, no time to even fill up the tires- but we've managed, so far, to keep bodies & souls together, to get out the door each morning.

back when i was growing up there was a band called 'the zombies,' and their song, 'time of the season' was played maybe five hundred times a day. some of these african children songs (batu batu) are being heard about that much too. a little voice in my head is saying, plant a garden, gather walnuts, but, there's no time, though i did start some little seedlings, i'll check them just now before i go to bed; it's turning midnight. my head is spinning; once again, the grading turned my eyes to soup, and i've got to give it up for a bit. walked down to the pool, at about noon, for a swim, that would have been about twelve hours ago, more or less on the dot, and got down there to find i had no suit at all; i'd taken it out when i was filling up shampoo. totally naked, had no choice but to go back to the office, unswum. batu batu. the cold gray day, american students in a kind of stupor, all over the place, heads in the phones, and workers spreading carpet glue all over the workplace, it's a wonder we're not all a bit light-headed. time for a little breeze, an open window, a westerly, or maybe a trade wind, wash some quotation marks to a distant shore, a sandy beach, a place where, maybe, it's not so cold and gray. just dreamin' - time to check the little seedlings, the baby basil, and go to bed. tomorrow's a new day, a chance for the sun to shine. garbage day, as it turns out, has come 'round again, and this time i'm sure of it. clear the deck, it's time for a new start.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

so, the 25 things rage came around, hit most of our family, 21-yr.-old first, but then me and 30-yr.-old daughter at more or less the same time. 16-yr.-old is still sitting on it; don't know if my sister has been tagged yet. meanwhile it has become like a tidal wave nationwide; the sheer numbers make it a nationwide fad.

i myself feel a bit like i cheated on my blog, going and telling all this personal stuff to facebook, when i've put most of it here over the years. my daughter went & copied hers onto her blog, which i will probably do with mine, since they are more of a declaration, a resolution to myself. I will put my stories on kindle.

facebook is like a dormitory hallway, going back through the hallways of my life; i can veer off with my college friends, as i did the other day, and see pictures of college reunions or even of the old times. pictures from 40 or 50 years ago pop up, depending on how far back I go, or where I turn off. I don't always want to mess with those memories; but, it's interesting to have that opportunity. my college actually gave up its alumni web program, because no one was using it, but everyone was finding each other through facebook anyway. it's very now, very current; at the same time, connected, by shadows, to every time, every place.

and now, everyone has these 25 random facts, a kind of narcissism marker, buried in their "notes" where someone with the skill of a cybersociologist could still have a field day. reminds me of a lazy mexican beach in oaxaca state, where some gringo came out to tell me this was called "zipolite" or "killer wave" because you drifted out past those rocks out there, then the killer wave washed you up on the rocks. he obviously was inclined to warn every new visitor; i, however, was not listening carefully, went swimming, drifted out, and was thrown upon said rocks and raked until i bled. lived to tell the tale though; but didn't stick around to warn the next person.

there's some random facts for you. and some others, i left out: guanajuato, panjachel; welshpool, stafford england, and the yukon; those little islands off the coast of georgia. through facebook, i felt like i went straight back to the 80's, back through some people i knew in college, and back to today through some pictures. but, they were kind of like they were in college, either not serious, or not nice. or not either. and i thought, why did i do this?

here, papers pile up, demands abound; my wife is sick, and i've become a sleepless grader. i grade every minute i'm not driving; when i drive, i play african, only african music. batu batu batu - this is from a child's song, and i promise, i'll find out what it means. for now, i don't even know which language it is. the keys of this laptop are becoming unreliable; i'm not sure if that's a virus, or what. i don't even trust the pop-up that keeps informing me that there's a problem. i've gotten jaded, hardened, blind. a good wave might shake the cobwebs loose- get me out of this bad-grammar daze, back into a kind of musical harmony. 25 random mirrors; 25 random maps; 25 random reasons to impulsively pitch yourself at the virtual world. hope the real people notice, 'cause the spammers seem to have picked up on it right away.
Good Provider, a new story. Comments welcome.