April 30, 2004

You were so poorly cast as a malcontent

Filed under: Romance — tomemos @ 2:43 pm

My girlfriend’s hoping to move to Paris. As you can imagine, this ignites a series of conflicting feelings in me. I try to avoid talking about mushy stuff on my blog, since romantic feelings seem too solipsistic to be of interest to other people, but I’ll make an exception here because I think it’s an interesting situation, because others I know are going through similar situations, and because I’d welcome advice.

There’s no doubt that Julie going to Paris would take our long-distance relationship to the next level: that is to say, really long-distance. As it is, we get to talk on the phone or IM every day and we see each other once a month. With a nine-hour time difference between us, even phone calls would probably become occasional. E-mail and letters would have to fill the gap, and they could–it’s not like no one ever lived apart from each other before 1994–but the instant nature of communication today makes me very irritable with even reasonable delays. We’d get used to it, no doubt (maybe a little doubt?); it just would be a step back from our current situation, which is itself something of a compromise.

So that’s the Big Con. But as far as I can tell, it’s the only one. There are lots of good reasons for Julie to go, the main reason being that she wants to, and I think it would be really good for her (how could a trip to Paris not be good for someone?). I think that we’re all still young enough that we should be working towards being more worldly people and having more experiences, if the opportunity exists, and I think the long-term benefits of a well-travelled girlfriend outweigh the frustration of 9-12 months of pining.

Plus, over the last few months, I’ve been living a vicarious Bohemian lifestyle through Julie. At the beginning of the school year, I always had lots of stuff to talk about as I learned how grad school worked, while Julie felt she was spinning her wheels and never had much to report. Over the last months, though, that dynamic has reversed itself. I’ve settled into a rut–a rut I really enjoy, but a rut–while Julie has had lots of exciting stuff to talk about what with McSweeney’s and her advancing literary career. The dramatic, winding path of her struggles and successes as a writer has been really cathartic for me, particularly as it seems to be going well more and more of the time. Her going to Paris seems like the logical extension of that–if I’m going to be anchored down for 6 more years, it helps that someone close to me is jet-setting and pond-hopping, that I can learn about the world outside the cave.

Compare that with the alternative: Julie moves in with me in Irvine next year. If it was almost anywhere besides Irvine, I would probably be gunning for that. As it is, though, I think there would be a risk for resentment and frustration. I’m not aware of any interesting or exciting opportunities that exist here, besides the one I’m currently availing myself of and that Julie plans to apply for. Until we’re both doing something interesting that we enjoy, better that we not settle down together; it would feel like a surrender.

And then there’s the big fringe benefit: I’ll get to visit Julie in France next spring. And maybe, just maybe (and I do mean just maybe), I could live in Paris next summer, on the pretext of learning French or doing research on Baudelaire or whatever, and we could be expats together for a couple months. Yes, it’s crazy; I’m just not sure it’ll work. But we’ll see. What’s great about Julie’s plan to be an au pair is that it proves that there’s nothing but possibility here.


Advertising wondrous things

Filed under: Uncategorized — tomemos @ 4:52 am

A bonus entry, to satisfy Bret’s whining for at least a day or two:

To continue the proud tradition of blogging about spam (example 1 example 2), I wanted to report that some time ago I received the worst subject line in the history of spamkind.

The subject line was: “BLOW YOUR BALLS APART!!!”

Someone, somewhere, wrote that. Someone thought that the way to market sexual enhancement blahdyblah to men was to suggest the image of their balls EXPLODING. I mean…are they exploding from too much potency, or something? I’ve heard of busting a nut, but this is horrific.

I’ll stop writing now, because my meager talents can’t possibly be as funny as that subject line. “BLOW YOUR BALLS APART!” Man.

The King’s gone mad with power!

Filed under: Music — tomemos @ 4:44 am

I’m going to this sweet-ass rock festival this weekend. It’s called Coachella, and the lineup is so hip that it includes bands I hadn’t heard of six months ago. (Actually, many of the bands I haven’t heard of, period.) Some that you may have heard of include:

The Flaming Lips
The Cure
The Pixies
Belle & Sebastian
Le Tigre
…And You Will Know Us By the Trail of Dead
Bright Eyes
Erase Errata
Dizzee Rascal

Did you enjoy reading that list of band names? Then you can imagine how much I’ll enjoy seeing them. (Wilco was going to come, but Jeff Tweedy’s in rehab right now.) I’m going with my much-more-indie-savvy friends Joe, Pat, and Mia, who (along with Drew a couple years back) introduced me to a lot of these bands. I’m kind of glad not to be ultra-knowledgeable, actually, since there are only so many shows you can fit into a two-day span; Joe and Pat have had some hard choices to make. Is it a privileged position to agonize about whether to see Q and Not U or Hieroglyphics?

Anyway, we’re leaving tomorrow and camping out there. So far this year I’ve been to spring training, a conference on weblogs (and comic books and sci-fi movies), and now an indie rock festival. There aren’t many more nerd pilgrimages for me to take.

Any bands people want pictures/reports of?

April 25, 2004

Battle Without Honor or Humanity

Filed under: Uncategorized — tomemos @ 3:43 am

Because they won’t fit in any other entries:

I just found out that a girl I had sex with during my October of Debauchery (during senior year at Sarah Lawrence) is now a lesbian. It is hard not to take this personally. Call it narcissistic, or call it a fallacy (post hoc ergo propter hoc), but cause and effect seem to implicate me here. At least I now have an explanation for why she wasn’t interested in hooking up again.

I recently noticed a strange subjective phenomenon: when I’m working on a paper, I can’t quite envisage life existing past that paper. For example, I was working late into the night on a Dickens paper on the night before Kill Bill opened. A bunch of us, including a visiting Julie, were planning to watch it opening night. When I finished the paper and turned it in, I thought, “Oh, good, we can go see Kill Bill after all”–as if, had I not finished the paper, I would never be heard from again, or space-time would be interrupted in some way.

By the way, everyone has seen Kill Bill, yes? Because it’s totally hot? I just bought the soundtrack to the first one, and I’ve decided that there should be an Oscar for Best Soundtrack. I think Quentin Tarantino would win a lifetime achievement award for it.

April 12, 2004

Look down your back stairs, honey

Filed under: Laws and Sausages — tomemos @ 7:34 pm

Man, there’s nothing like watching George Bush squirm, is there? I begin to understand how much Republicans must have relished the Lewinsky debacle. Of course, there are two differences here: 1) This matters. 2) Bush is being let off the hook.

Who is asking him the tough questions? Who’s accusing him of failing at his most important job–making sure we’re safe? Richard Clarke, obviously, but why isn’t he getting any backup–from Kerry, e.g.? The liberal media is letting us down. All the editorializing has taken the tone that it’s too bad Bush isn’t being more up-front, and that he probably should have done more (rather than, say, going golfing [thanks, Tom Tomorrow])–though obviously, even if he had done everything in his power, 9/11 probably couldn’t have been prevented.


9/11 could have been prevented, if there had been more communication between intelligence and law inforcement, and if more warning had been given to those agencies (and the FAA, and the pilots themselves) of the very specific (whatever that monkey says) nature of the threat, and if those suspicious flight students in Arizona who weren’t interested in learning how to land had been taken in for questioning, and if screening had been increased, and on and on and on. Maybe, for once, “Terror Level Orange” could have done some damn good. Instead, Condi Rice was playing politics and ignoring everything useful the Clinton administration had to say about Al Qaeda, far too busy to swat flies.

The absolute most infuriating thing people are saying about the revelation that the 9/11 threat was out and out ignored is that it’s time to move on. “Well, sure, it’s all very upsetting,” this line goes, “but what’s important now is that we all work together to make the country safer, rather than blaming this guy or the other guy.”

No. Ari Fleisher couldn’t hail a cab in 2002 and 2003 without mentioning 9/11. “The lessons of September Eleventh” were used as justification for every miserable policy of the administration, from drilling in ANWR to tax cuts to that little police action in Iraq. Now that it turns out it was their fault, they want us all to work together and pretend that the whole thing never happened. I don’t want to hear the Republican Party talking about “politicizing” September 11. And I can’t wait to see the city of New York receive them with open arms when the Republican Convention comes there in…let’s see, is it September?

You hear the same line about Iraq, too. “What matters is not who was right, who was wrong, if there were weapons, whatever. What matters is looking towards getting out of this mess and handing over the government on June 30.” Sorry, guys, but I don’t think Iraq will be ready for a Constitutional Convention in eighty days. Maybe you should have done your Looking To the Future back when some of us were in Washington, explaining that this was a shitty idea. Maybe that was the time to think about exit strategies. Now you’ve gotten troops stuck there, and if you’re not the one who has to die at least you can lose your jobs.

April 5, 2004

Do engines get rewarded for their steam?

Filed under: General Me — tomemos @ 12:58 am

Since I last posted an entry, I have:

–taught my last class of the quarter, entertaining my students by performing my rap

–won an essay contest

–gotten an extension on a seminar paper

–stayed up all Wednesday night writing a sub-par, research-light seminar paper for a different course

–entertained serious worries and doubts about my ability to stay at graduate school

–stayed up all Thursday night grading papers and entering final grades

–given two students non-passing grades

–left Irvine at 5:30 am on Friday to drive up to Yosemite with my friend Glenn

–watched Glenn crawl through the grass to within fifteen feet of a curious gray fox

–waited anxiously for Julie to negotiate the winding roads of Yosemite late at night and meet us for a poorly-planned rendezvous

–enjoyed a weekend at Yosemite, camping (for the first time in years) near Yosemite Falls

–spent a week with Julie in Oakland

–tried to relax, only to find myself nagged by thoughts of extended seminar paper and aforementioned worries and doubts

–bought an iPod with my contest money

–been reminded of how much I like the Bay Area, particularly in springtime

–given my OK to a plan to demolish part of my old room in order to accommodate new plans for the backyard

–dropped my cell phone down a grate next to Lake Merritt in Oakland; called the city to have them come open the grate; watched the workers try in vain to open the grate and get at the phone, which by that time had been swept out of sight anyway

–returned to Irvine, not necessarily prepared for the new quarter

–bought a used phone that’s a lot like my old one, but not as good

–gotten four e-mails from one student (made famous by her e-mail posted here a couple weeks ago) who disagreed with the non-passing grade I gave her

–felt a little better upon hanging out with a few of the gang here, earlier this evening

In the next few days, I will:

–begin anew

–teach my first class of the new quarter

–attend my first Colonialism in the Americas (Mon.) and Henry James (Tues.) classes

–watch the Giants open their season in Houston on ESPN

–fly to San Antonio to attend the blog conference

–finish my seminar paper (maybe)

Overall status: Harried. Unable to shake the feeling that this quarter will make or break my time here at grad school. Not feeling the same kind of optimism that characterized the start of winter quarter.

Any questions? Good. Then let’s begin.

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