"Fire is motion / Work is repetition / This is my document / We are all all we've done / We are all all we've done / We are all all we've done / We are all all defenses."

- Cap'N Jazz, "Oh Messy Life," Analphabetapolothology

Monday, March 31, 2008

real emotional trash

ok so that's the name of a Stephen Malkmus & The Jicks album. but it's fitting, b/c not only have i been listening to them a lot lately, but that's kinda how i feel about my life right now.

i don't have any real reason to feel this way, but emotions are kinda like that. they just happen, that's why i prefer saying "i feel" rather than "i think" b/c emotions are just there and you have to deal with them, and reason is overrated anyway. who wants an explanation when all you really want is a hug?

i don't know if it's the weather in ohio (nothing but rain for days, it seems), or the lack of sleep, or the malnutrition, or my loneliness*, my restlessness, the overwhelming list of things i have to do before tomorrow and the next monday and before i graduate, or if it's the lack of warmth or safety i have b/c i realized i left all my sweaters at home, or the hole in my sleeve, or the mud in my shoes, or the way i feel no one understands how sad i can get sometimes, but...

in the last hour or so i've felt on the brink of tears. and i hardly ever cry. but i guess these little break-downs happen a lot. i guess i document them b/c they're always strange to me when they happen, and maybe deep down i hope by remembering them i can counteract them when they happen again. 

lately, i've been busy and a lot of my friends have been busy. i can understand that when work piles up, we need to take breaks from each other some times. but really, when this happens, i don't get more work done, i just spend less of it being happy. i miss living with ppl who knew me well enough to know that when work kicks in, that's when i need them most. i miss having a friend nearby to reach out a hand and steady mine. i need people the most when i get busy like this, but i find ppl especially don't want me around these days. 

i feel forgotten. i feel alone. i feel like disappearing.

that's usually what i try to do. i turn off my phone, i unplug the internet. i put up a wall of sound around me and let pounding music throb in my head until i can fall asleep again. 

i'm real emotional trash. i'm feeling used and under-appreciated today. i've been running around since the early morning working for various ppl, sometimes getting paid, sometimes getting ignored. i've been really emotional b/c i feel i've put my own work off for so long, and i've spent most of my day making time to help other ppl with things, and only getting pushed around and asked to do more things. one of my friends observed that he seems to notice "ppl seem to want to take advantage of you a lot." this doesn't make me feel very good. 

i think i'll take a trip. i don't know to where yet. i don't want to say i'll be back, even tho i probably will. i just don't want to be sad any more, and if i find happiness on the road, maybe i'll stay there for a while instead.

listen: "We Can't Help You" [mp3] by Stephen Malkmus & The Jicks


*loneliness, even when you're surrounded by people. that's the worst kind of loneliness.

Friday, March 28, 2008

celebrating the '90s

my friends and i were chatting at dinner. making plans for the summer and all the fun, wild and wonderful things we need to squeeze into these last 7 weeks of school before graduation and splitting ways.

the big screen TV was on in the dining hall, per usual, but it was on VH1 today and it was showing one of those "best 100 songs of the '90s" specials and all our "childhood songs" were blasting full force, like a freight train of memories, and we were transported back to the times of middle school dances and summer camps and that nebulous time of your life called adolescence.

we were reflecting on the proto-emo music of the time, laughing as we could recall almost word for word the lyrics to Goo Goo Dolls songs ("when everything feels like the movies, you bleed just to know you're alive/ AND I DON'T WANT THE WORLD TO SEE ME, CUZ I DON'T THINK THAT THEY'D UNDERSTAAAAAND!") and how angst-y we must have been as teens to have loved that song as much as everyone else our age did.

and, in reflecting on how super dramatic and emo (before "emo" was a genre) that song was, i remarked how it would be so funny to do a dramatic reading of all our favorite '90s songs. and from this, an idea for a poetry reading of sorts, a collaborative performance for the sake of nothing but fun times and nostalgia with some good friends, was born.

the place i imagine is Bachelor Hall's courtyard, on a breezy spring evening, entry and exit music consisting of a playlist of all the read pieces, and definitely some wine.

now, i'm trying to think of material. any suggestions? i went through my '90s music on my computer (sadly lacking, i've lost a lot of those old favorites in the process of transitioning to different computers) and only thought of a few enticing reads:

K-Ci & Jo Jo's "All My Life" (probly a much better song than a poem, but a guilty pleasure nonetheless. i especially love how the first line of verse is "Baby (11x)" ha!)
Everything But The Girl's "Missing" ("like the deserts miss the rain")
Sinead O'Connor's "Nothing Compares 2 U" (oh man, this might be "it"!)
Boyz II Men's "I'll Make Love To You" (this would be so uncomfortable to read: "girl relax, let's go slow, i ain't got nowhere to go/ throw your clothes on the floor, i'm gonna take my clothes off too")

other suggestions would be greatly appreciated.


Thursday, March 27, 2008

the drive back to school from home was not nearly as harrowing as i expected it to be, and the pain of confinement was lessened considerably by riding until the radio waves from my favorite station slowly crackled and crisped into a steady static, at which point i threw on the driving mix i made for the ride. what a difference a soundtrack makes!

i had dinner with my friends, who i missed terribly, and then skipped over to the art museum for "Scene in Herd," a poetry event put on by the Miami University English Department every year (maybe this was the 5th one? my friend Justin Katko started it a few years ago as a spatial intervention, with the idea that the readings themselves would explore space in new ways, but also that they would break down the barrier between spectator/participant. b/c the theme of our class this week was "critical walking"/"spatial exploration"/"critical reconsideration of space" i thought this would be a good event to go to as a class. the readings didn't really fit the original theme as well as past ones have, but i think they made up for it in content). 

the readings were exceptional, except for one or two moments that seemed ungenuine, made me suspect the poet was trying too hard to be impressive, and so not really saying anything. there were a few times i felt words were just being tossed around for effect rather than affect, and i thot that reflected poorly on the poet. i think a misplaced conspicuous "fuck" can really ruin a poem for me. it's not that i'm averse to profanity, i just think they're a really cheap way for a writer to sound superficially edgy. and i don't think there's any point to its wanton usage. it's like gratuitous violence in films, there really should be a point to it i think. [ok you could argue that excessive profanity is the point. kinda like satirists and sadists like Michael Haneke torture us with violence to make us understand how sick and perverse we are. but, i don't think that's what was going on. it wasn't that kind of poem (nor that kind of poet)...]

most thrilling was after the readings were over, and i finally got a chance to talk to the guy who builds book presses. as far as Justin or i know, he's the only one who can help me build the press i need to bind my project in April! i was thrilled when he finally agreed to teach me, first by inviting me to help him finish the press he's currently constructing, and then to build another one for my use. i can't wait, i was worried for a while that i may never get the chance to bind my project.

and now, to actually finish it so i have something to bind...


Tuesday, March 25, 2008

racing to the finish line

ok, so calm down...

i'm doing better now. i just had to freak out a bit and get it out of my system. i now have 26 (up from 20) solid (as opposed to lumpy) pages of extremely well-researched critique of free market capitalism (yipee!) and ideas for another 5 pages (at least) of more.

and the delightful thing is that i'm really enjoying putting these various theorists in conversation with each other (Adam Smith, James Madison, Thomas Jefferson, Aristotle, John Dewey, Horace Mann, and a few radical voices thrown in for fun's sake). the use of Smith's own words to tear apart free market capitalist individualism is particularly exciting, in my opinion.

from here, i move on to a discussion of civic virtue, the role of schooling in developing a civic tradition, and then a critique of the Restoration policies of the 1970s and '80s. then a discussion of the culture of schooling, a rant against grades and incentivized education, and then some discussion of student movements and protest culture (if i have time...)

racing to the finish line (my deadline is April 1st!!!)

Sunday, March 23, 2008

first meltdown of the year

i can't go on like this...

i feel so stupid. so many ppl go thru much worse than this. ppl go to war, ppl get cancer, ppl lose loved ones, ppl die. and i can't just sit my ass down for 3 hours and write my thesis, something i've wanted to do since i entered college and the only thing i have to do to make sure i graduate.

what is wrong with me?!

that's what i keep asking myself. i used to be so good at writing papers, i could sit down for hours and just write endlessly until i was done. i was so clear-headed, so facile with words, concise and cogent. i wouldn't outline or anything, i would just organize the paper in my head, sit down and it would come flowing out of me. it was like magic. i didn't even have to take notes on my reading, i could remember exactly where on the page i read it, could remember what page, and if i didn't, it would be no problem for me to flip back through the book and find it.

i don't know how time has shifted things in the opposite direction. now, i sit amidst piles of books, can't keep them apart, can't find a simple quote or even remember which book it was in, let alone which chapter or page it was on. i feel i am losing my mind.

i've watched winter become spring become winter become spring again. while nature was wantonly blasting thru the seasons, i've been watching her work at my window(s) and feeling older and lazier and more and more incompetent. i'm an old woman now, i can' t do this...

i feel horrible, not just because of these things, but because this thesis really is something i care a lot about. that's maybe why it's hard to do this "right." my friend Brandon described it once as feeling like he wasn't "good enough" to write his thesis. like, the topic required such care, such delicate treatment, that somehow he felt unworthy of handling it. like he wouldn't be careful enough, didn't possess the mental dexterity, didn't have the proper amount of time. and i feel all these things too, but also i'm feeling a little beat up in the process.

it's kinda like making love. i mean, what is this, if not an act of love? i wouldn't have picked something this impossible to condense into an 80-page undergraduate thesis if i didn't love it (right?...) you can't make love with someone(/thing) if you don't feel it loves you back. or at least that there's some chance of mutual connection. you ought to feel like you're doing things because you genuinely care about them, and that the things you do will matter. but really i just feel bullied and used. i am giving so much time and care to it, and it's always fighting me back. and then i'm struggling to be faithful to the task. i'm distracted by the weather, by film projects, by all the fun new literature i could be reading instead... this is an abusive relationship. i feel battered, my esteem is suffering, i feel ugly and inept, and lo, i'm suffering performance anxiety.

well, it's all intellectual masturbation anyway...

Friday, March 21, 2008

is this what democracy looks like?

i was writing my senior project and was trying to find the source of a great quote ("the private citizen is a fool") i remember reading but don't remember from where (really wishing i had that life search right about now...), when, in my searching, i went to Wikipedia and was slightly amused to find this:

a picture of a ballot box and the caption "Voting is an important part of the democratic process!"

this is a gift! i took a screen shot and plan on using it in my appendices. i love the potential for circular critique this presents: a democratic medium (more importantly, one touted for being unreliable/clouded because of its dependence on popular opinion) pointing to voting (what many political critics - myself included! - would argue is one of the most basic forms of political participation) as an exemplar of democratic practice.

it's wonderful. i'm done! (no need to write this, the image says it all!)

[ha! if only theses could be writ this easily...
and i still don't have the source for that quote...]


Wednesday, March 19, 2008

did you see?

take this test.

in related news, i'm thinking of going to a Mass -- the other religion ;-) -- in Chicago before the year ends. any one care to join me?


Thursday, March 13, 2008

"put me in your suitcase, let me help you pack..."

i was stuffing my things into a suitcase today, readying to leave for my spring break in California, where i'll be taking my CSETs, then spending some long-awaited time with my relatives, then journeying home to retreat into the final days of a blistering senior project.

as i was packing up, i was thinking about how this is one of the last times i'm leaving to return to this place. and as my boyfriend helped me load my things into the car, and my friends gave me hugs before i rode away, this song was all i could think about.

it was like a rehearsal for the real thing, the BIG move, the day of goodbyes... and that's why i like this song, it's sad and hopeful at the same time, it knows that leaving could be a sad thing but chooses to be cheerfully upset about it instead.

enjoy your spring breaks. here's a song for packing and leaving (but please please oh please come back!):

"Put me in your suitcase, let me help you pack
Cuz you're never coming back, no you're never coming back

Cook me in your breakfast and put me on your plate
Cuz you know I taste great, yeah you know I taste great

At the hop it's greaseball heaven
With candypants and archie too

Put me in your dry dream or put me in your wet
If you haven't yet, no if you haven't yet
Light me with your candle and watch the flames grow high
No it doesn't hurt to try, it doesn't hurt to try

Well I won't stop all of my pretending that you'll come home
You'll be coming home, someday soon

Put me in your blue skies or put me in your gray
There's gotta be someway, there's gotta be someway
Put me in your tongue tie, make it hard to say
That you ain't gonna stay, that you ain't gonna stay

Wrap me in your marrow, stuff me in your bones
sing a mending moan, a song to bring you home"

-Devendra Banhart's "At The Hop" [mp3]

Sunday, March 09, 2008

if only i could Google my life

i curse technology for creating itself* and nurturing my development as a human, for in the process i've become totally dependent!

we don't do anything ourselves any more. sure, it started with the little things: first we were using abacuses, and then we had to invent the calculator, and pretty soon it was supercomputers and smart bombs and satellite TV, and now people can't even get anywhere by reading maps any more, it's all GPS, a robot woman telling you exactly when to turn! we may not have personal robot slaves like ppl always imagined we would "in the future" but that's b/c everything we do and need is a robot of some kind, hell, we're robots! we're slaves to our own progress!

anyway, this is all just because i've been reading thru some old correspondences on my computer today. and in one of my emails i signed off with the phrase "everything is broken. we need to accept it and move on." now, this sounds so familiar, and i know i wrote it, but the use of the quotes in the email makes me think it might also be from something else, maybe a song or a movie, maybe a book? but the thing is, when i typed it into google, nothing came up except for a Bob Dylan song, which i haven't even heard before, and i don't even really listen to Dylan.

when i performed the same search in all my emails, nothing came up except for this one email (the same one that sent me searching in the first place). very confusing. i remember this being a significant phrase to me, mid-December 2007, right around my senior project fiasco. but i still can't quite place the source or the original context for this quote, and i love it so much. i just want to know if i wrote it, and was quoting myself in a different context, or if i owe someone else for these appropriate (and appropriated) words that are striking so true today. i need to know how my life is repeating itself, how the cycles are forming, why everything today feels like a deja vu but i can't quite figure out the difference between dreams and waking.

so, in my desperate search for the origin of this quote, i became overwhelmingly upset that i couldn't just build a large search engine for my life that would distill data from my brain, the brains of everyone around me, all my documents, notepads, every scrap piece of paper, my pockets, my desk drawers and my various lockers and lock-boxes, a machine that could read the indentions of my hand for notes now long washed away, that could recover erased phone messages and away messages and dry-erase board messages, that could mine all my memories and subconscious thoughts and all the music, movies, books and websites i've ever paid even the slightest bit of attention to, and present a nice list of all the relevant pieces pertaining to this one quote, from the entire whole of my existence.

wouldn't that be lovely?

but no. i guess humans aren't made that way. too bad we aren't. maybe in the future we will be. maybe right now, some super robot tech man is reading this and devising the next BIG THING of the century...


* "but Stephanie," you say, "things don't 'create' themselves, spontaneous generation is a fallacy!" oh-ho-ho, au contraire! what i'm suggesting is that "technology" was created by robots. that's right, the "people" who gave us the internet are really just trying to feed the cancer that is slowly taking over our lives... mwahahhahaa!!! (gives new meaning to "self-made man" doesn't it? ponder that for a while!)

Monday, March 03, 2008


The Anna Helen Tappan Center for Computer-Assisted Learning (my place of emploi) is challenging the other Western peer centers to FEATS OF STRENGTH!!!

we'll be throwin' down, West Side Story-style, come Spring 2008.

-stephanie "Tappan it" lee