Friday, November 20, 2009

Search: representations of bisexuality in the smell of apples

Lately, I have been doing a lot of research for my final paper in my literature class. Basically, the theme I'm working on is about patriarchy and filial obligation, tracing it through two different plays. And so, I'm required to have eight peer-reviewed scholarly works from journals to include in the paper. I believe this is for the purpose of making academics feel useful: at least someone's reading their academic essay on why mustaches signify success in Death of a Salesman.

Last night I was up very late trying to finish my annotated bibliography: a basic summary for each source I chose. Unfortunately, I didn't get around to starting this thing until mid-day yesterday, and so I found out just how tedious this assignment was. Most of the journals that I chose were fairly lengthy, and not all the things I read were applicable to the paper. So that meant that I was reading journals on a pdf.file for probably seven to eight hours straight. I took occasional two minute breaks to rest my eyes, but more or less I was just staring at a computer screen, growing tired by the hour.

And by the time midnight rolled around, I was getting a bit irritated by the content of what I was reading. Extremely verbose reports on the effect of doll playing on child development. Or, maybe a valid comparison of Faulkner's father/son themes with that of Greek and Biblical tragedies, but written in such a painfully pretentious way. Observe:

Yet if Faulkner's vision of the relationship between fathers and sons is finally comic, it emerges through the dark insights of an irony that reveals and reconciles disparate meanings through a multiplicity of visions and voices, both within individual stories and at their intersections. These voices within Faulkner's novels resound from corners as distant as the unselfconscious past is to the utterly self-conscious present mediated by madness and poetry. Thus, Faulkner's inquiry into human existence is unremittingly critical even as it appears to reflect unapologetically the glory of a past that is already shattered for the reader. Faulkner's portrayal of fathers appeals to the monological conventions of ancient epic, a warrior ideal and the values of classical stoicism (which implicititly admits alienation but tries to transcend it with silence or exclusion of the ambivalence of reality). Yet the conflicted viewpoints of his sons embody that polyphonic, dialogic irony which novelist and critic Milan Kundera insists "denies us our certainties by unmasking the world as an ambiguity."

Apparently, one's peers don't have to be editors in order to review one's works. This is a copy-n-paste job, so the misspelling of "implicititly" was nice as well. And this shit goes on like this for pages and pages.

Maybe it's just me, but the one sentence that ends with the phrase "is to the utterly self-conscious present mediated by madness and poetry" reads like the author has realized mid-sentence that he doesn't actually know what he's talking about, so he starts throwing in word combos that sound good. I imagine economics-speak: "If we could devise a multilateral strategy to stimulate fiscal growth, implementing a rightward shift in the aggregate demand curve to achieve equilibrium, bypassing the misery index, into a multi-ethnic, multicultural, and...polyamorous monetary mechanism,... we would sufficiently and conclusively internationalize regional policies of commerce and multiple markets, effecting culture policy, denaturation, progression of,...progress, of long-lasting peace, ..everlasting gob-stopper,.."

So yeah, it was an arduous task trying to get through some of these journals. And the reason why I had to settle on some of the worst ones was because I was running out of time (not to mention that one's research can be limited by 'peer-reviewed and scholarly only'). But now it's finished and turned in, and there's relief.

And on a somewhat aside, after reading journal after journal, I came across a title of a scholarly journal that made me laugh out loud: "Fissures in Apartheid's 'Eden': Representations of Bisexuality in The Smell of Apples by Mark Behr." At first glance, I didn't notice that "The" was capitalized, so I read it as if "The Smell of Apples" was not a book, but was what made one bisexual. As if the smell of apples could evoke bisexual feelings. Apparently, eating them makes you gay. 

Anyway, this is just another snippet of school life for ya. The term is up soon and I have almost a month off, which means I'll be writing more on this thing.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

A butter smooth voice like Santa Claus...

My housemate, ****,  is the owner of a fine southeast Portland restaurant. So fine that it/he sometimes attracts rabid followers, zealots -- or at least unstable people who not only have a knack for writing creatively bizarre notes, but also for coming on a little too strong.

Yes, he is having a little problem. It started out innocently enough: seemingly eccentric middle-aged lady showers him and his restaurant with compliments, inquires about a job, and even provides him with examples of her chef-(ing?) abilities. So yeah, okay,...it was strange that she was so adamant about the restaurant not stealing her dishware (I believe a note was attached, reinforcing this request),...so what? She at least gave him a resume: a handwritten narrative about life on the range, making breakfast for Ma-n-Pa, sobriety, near-death childhood-sicknesses, and other weird shit. Though I have never seen this woman (I have only been told tales), apparently she looks the part of eccentric too. A 'can't miss 'em' sort of thing. Still, nothing that couldn't be dismissed...

Well, the notes have remained just as bizarre as her resume, but now they're more frequent. And then, a dine-n-dash with a written explanation on her food ticket kinda marked her as a problem. Here's what she wrote:

 Just give moi a shout and I'll remedy the situation.
Heavenly ****, Your serviceware stinks like dog this morning and I just remembered I don't have my credit card.
In closing, do not use my art without my written consent. I'm off to meet my maker.
                                                                                            Au revoir


The art in question, both **** and I assume, is the drawings on a couple of the notes that she sent to him. One is a drawing of a saggy face, bald but with drooping long hair on the sides. The inscription underneath says "Dr D. Frankenstein Herr nurse White." The other is a drawing of a cat in a green dress with purple high heels on, its arms raised up, smiling, with this phrase attached: "Samba Strut kitten La mu."

After failing to pay her bill, Mrs. Dash later sent him another note, this time asking **** if he knew any eligible bachelors that he could set her up with. This was an especially strange letter; funny at times, disturbing at others. She describes one 'dude' in her life as "the friendly-lion white honestly," and another guy as having "a butter smooth voice like Santa Claus" (you didn't think I was that creative with my titles, did you?). Apparently, these guys in her life were a bad influence or were cruel, so she asks ****: "Honestly, dear **** do you know any fine upstanding elders like Bud Clark who just like women as friends first toujour. I can't get a decent date to save my tattered soul and I'm not a lesbian." At the end of this note, she reminds him about the smelly offense that she endured: "In closing, I hope you alleviated the dog gone fool dishwasher who contaminated your restaurant with pooch stank.... it's simply inhumane."

(Oh yeah, she really HATES dogs! **** told me about her traumatic childhood experience with dogs. Well, actually, it sounded traumatic for the dog because apparently she snatched it up and threw it at the television in disgust. Like a spoiled child readily discarding an unwanted gift. Brat).

The subject was brought up by **** this morning because he has recently had to block this woman's number since she has left many long voicemail messages on his personal phone. **** hasn't even pursued the dine-n-dash incident; he was hoping that she would feel guilty and not come around anymore. But no, according to his employees, she has come around and delivered notes and messages when **** is not there. It's still hard to tell if this person is a real menace, and by the nature of her letters she seems harmless. But how can one tell? Does she need to go into a fit of destructive rage before something needs to be done?

Really, what it seems like is schizophrenia. And so, therefore, I'm an asshole for pokin' fun at her letters, I know. But hey, her phrasings are fucking funny, and not altogether nonsensical -- gibberish it ain't. In fact, both **** and I were noting that she is not a bad writer. Her notes are not illegible, just weird; and it's been awhile since I've read anything this strange.

However, it is going in that direction, which always spells trouble. That sounds very suggestive. I mean, she is exhibiting stalker behavior. The visits to the restaurant have increased, and the voice messages were one after another, and not very far apart in time. **** doesn't seem to be overly worried, and it's not quite at that level where it needs reporting. Still....

And on a completely different note, I must comment on some of the comments that I've been getting on this blog. It's embarassing, but I'll admit it: I fell for the congratulatory and encouraging words from one 'person,' -- a word generator, probably representing a corporation. I responded with something like "Thanks. Hey, do you write as well?" No response. As far as I could tell (by tracing back his link), he has no blog, and is linked to a Brazillian news site, which seems like a random link,. And at the bottom of his comments, there is a small like to a vitamin company called Vitabits, though the website is in French. And then again, in my last post, is another comment from 'someone' new, who has the same link to the Vitabits website, this time in English. The earlier comments from 'Neil Kevin' actually sound coherent. He even thinks that the "You Know Nothing" videos are sad. But the one on the last post from 'Michael Argent' is really pretty silly. Obviously, one could just scan the comment on that post, but what the hell, I'll reprint it here:

I feel sorry for your several condition but I also get impressed with your good work in the blog which shows great information.You need some rest and Acidophilus which work for you.I want to know suggestion from others.


Of course you want to know suggestion from others, since you probably lifted the phrase 'Acidophilus' from Aunty Christ's previous comment, and you wanna sound more human. C'mon, you damn bot!

Wouldn't it be funny if these were actual people who were genuinely interested in this blog and I just completely alienated them? What would be the odds of two vitabit-promoting motherfuckers settling on this obscure-as-motherfuck blog? I'd be an asshole, again, I know.

Au Revoir

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Hey, Four Eyes!

It has been awhile since I've written anything on this blog because I am at that mid-way point of the school term, which means that I am busy with assignments and tests. Unfortunately, that intestinal problem I had mentioned in an earlier post seems to be lingering too, and that has made it hard to find the motivation to write about something/anything on this blog. Also, I have wanted to write about something other than school, or the annoyances thereof, and yet not much has come to mind. Annoyances at school tend to be what plague me.

Well, the intestinal thing has been really bothersome because it comes in waves. I don't feel extremely sick, I just feel unwell. Any food or liquids that I put in just sit there, or that's what it feels like. And the issue here is that this has been going on for the past month.

So, this has made me paranoid. Not surprising, I feel, since I've really elapsed the week, or even two week sick period. After that, it starts to feel like something a bit more serious might be at work. This is of course an untrustworthy voice in my head, I think. But yeah, I definitely looked up H1 N1 symptoms. I don't see myself fitting into that though. It's a tough crowd, not for me. Unfortunately, I don't have health-care, nor can I afford it, nor have I ever had a job that has offered me benefits (with the exception of one restaurant, in which I qualified for the group-program for about two weeks). That means that I have to try to self-diagnose, and be experimental with remedies.

The first remedy is a plain, simple diet. A very wholesome, healthy, bland, and soulless diet. This week has been the start of that, and I'm hoping that this will make me feel normal. Also, I'm hoping that something will reveal itself as the culprit once I go back to the sinful stuff. And I am exaggerating a little, because the diet is not really bad. And since I'm feeling this way, it actually feels good to be eating well. However, that general feeling still remains.

The other remedy has to do with my study patterns. Or more specifically, with my eyes. I think I am straining my eyes. The amount of reading and writing that I have to do might be straining my eyes. That's what I think, at least. What has led me to think this is that every time I sit down to work on a paper or read my textbook, the next morning my stomach feels acidic. And yet, now I think that this might be paranoia, because it is happening after relatively short study periods. Either way, I have now started using reading glasses not only for reading textbooks, but for writing on either paper or on the computer.

I also thought that it could be stress-related, but I'm not so sure anymore. This is a relatively easy term for me, my classes are not altogether difficult. Stress? I suppose a little, but nothing like previous terms. I sort of loathe my Literature class, but I have sort of resigned myself to it. I'm not as concerned about the grade anymore because my instructor is in her own world, and I can only do what I can do. So yeah, the usual amounts of stress. I still think it has more to do with eyestrain.

The thing is...I've never heard of this sort of reaction. Yes, I've heard of eyestrain from staring at a computer for hours on end, but I've never heard of acidic stomach and lethargy as a result of reading an hour's worth of a well-lit book. After only a day I feel like the glasses are helping me, but here again, am I just being credulous? Is a health-nut diet and a pair of reading glasses essential to my well-being? I would hate to become one of those people who hide behind countless homeopathic medications, unable to do the most basic things in life without consulting therapists or naturopaths. A hypochondriac: someone who blames the carbs from pasta for his/her mental instability or inability to socially interact.

What's frustrating is that there probably is a very good explanation for what is ailing me, but I might not be able to find it on my own. I can think up of many different ailments, but there's no certifiable way to test for them. Not to mention that a lot of the hypochondriacs I know tend to self-diagnose the shit out of themselves.

The thing that I am looking forward to when I get to a University: health care. As a student, you can get health care through the school. Expensive and not amazing, but health care none-the-fucking-less. Until then, I am going to eat plain oatmeal, brown rice, steamed chicken, and have an apple for dessert.

Well, how about that for a return to the blogosphere? Unloading my sickness onto the screen. I swear that one of these days I will talk about something other than how sick I am, or how cynical I am.