Thursday, March 31, 2005

Full Class

So this students wanders in to the first day of my diva course, a course that has been full for over a month, and from which I've turned away a few last-minute students. The room is uncomfortably full, the weather has suddenly turned balmy, and the building is still operating as though it were winter.

I stop mid-sentence, look at him, say "are you registered?" No, just thought he'd try to get in. I tell him and another student I'll talk to them after class and continue on. I assign a short in-class writing assignment which I collect at the end of class. I'm having one of those moments of weakness, where it's easier just to let another student in than turn them away, so I tell him, and one other student who showed up that day--only she arrived early and participated during the class--that if they want to add the class, they should send me their information right away and I'll get it forward it to the registrar.

Next day, I've heard nothing from this student and assume he changed his mind. Then I read the papers. First of all, he can't write. He really, really, really can't write. Every word is mispelled and the handwriting is so bad, I can barely make out the words. I'm worried about his ability to do the work, since this is a writing-intensive class.

Then I see it, very legible, in the margin of the paper. "Go fuck yourself." Okay, so he definitely didn't like this class. Good riddance and god help you if I ever see you in the halls, because I WILL confront you.

Day three. I open my e-mail and there's a message from him with his information. He thanks me for letting him add the class and says he's looking forward to seeing me in class today.

NO way. I write back:
"I was under the impression that you weren't interested in taking the class, especially after you scribbled "go fuck yourself" in the margin of the paper you handed in at the end of last class. I don't think this class is going to be a good fit for you and that you should find another class."

His response? "You must have me confused with someone else. I'm a Christian." Of course he's waiting for me when I arrive for office hours. He continues to deny writing anything until I show him the paper and then he just stares and stares and stares. He says he doesn't remember writing that, and then that he didn't mean it, and then that he was doodling.

Whatever. I didn't let him into the class, so he immediately ran down to one of my colleagues and tried to convince her to intercede for him. This led to awkward conversation with her later in the day, over the copy machine. I showed her the paper. She raised her eyebrows and shook her head.

Monday, March 28, 2005


Earlier this afternoon I opened up a blogger window and, with a few minutes to kill before my first class, started writing a blog about the first day of the new quarter--feeling nervous. why? excited. good. loving my syllabi, good, good. Wondering how I'll get through another ten weeks of class before summer.

Somehow the blog shifted, though, into a meditation on the end of the school year and what that had been like as an undergrad at byu, and before I knew it I had written a kind of cool meditation on mormon marriage, temples, and May weddings. I had to go teach, so I tried to save it as a draft, but blogger was experiencing a system problem and so I lost it.

While I'm sad that I lost it, and think I might try to go back and recapture what I wrote (though now I have to prepare for my afternoon class) I'm stuck in a kind of meta-moment, thinking not so much about what I wrote as about the process of writing. I feel like I have novels and novels and novels inside of me--I can feel the texture of my writing voice, can feel how a novel of mine would be paced, what its sentences and breaths and paragraph spaces would look and sound like. But, like most people, I guess, I have a lot of anxiety, or dread, around the scene of writing. I'm constantly narrativizing and planning what I'd write, but can't imagine having the gumption to actually sit down and write it. So an hour like my lost one today, where I sit down to write something relatively straightforward, even newsy, and end up unrolling a story, surprises me.

Okay. Gotta eat my lunch and plan for class. Gotta get out of the way while the window washers take over my office.

Saturday, March 26, 2005

Bette Davis speaks

Don't forget, only 9 more shopping days until my birthday.

le return

So I'm back from Paris and I'm kind of crabby and don't really want to write, because it feels over-determined. I'm not interested in recounting my trip mostly because I want to write about things I thought about on my trip (isn't it weird when your thoughts start to organize themselves in terms of blog titles?), but I feel obliged to at least say a little bit.

Why I'm crabby:
1. Paris is expensive. Really. Having spent time in Paris teaching several January term study abroad courses, I thought it would be great to be free of students. What I missed about the students, though, was their money, which paid for my hotel, flight, museum admissions, and much of my food. Will teach Gertrude Stein for food and scarf money.

2. Paris is intimidating. Before I went I spent an inordinate amount of time worrying about what I would wear. All black, right? Okay, but what shoes? Spent month before hand wondering if I had time to buy new, inconspicuous black shoes that would be really comfortable--if I had time, that is, to break them in and make them really comfortable. Inertia got the better of me and I chose to bring my trusty black Frye boots. Kind of like the ones Shawn Colvin is wearing on the inside cover of Fat City. I can wear them for days on end here and not flinch, but in Paris, where I somehow morph into a self-loathing penitent (don't waste your money on alcohol! you shouldn't sleep in! walk! walk! walk! how can you possibly live with yourself if you don't learn the Marais this time? You can't eat until 9:30! If you drink that coffee, you'll just have to find another cafe to pee in a half hour from now!) they really started to suck after a few days of walking the marble floors of museums. The rest of my clothing was innocuous enough and comfortable enough so that I blended into the general you're-not-from-here-are-you?-crowd. I guess I accomplished my goal of not wanting to look like an ugly American.

3. I can't remember who or what I am there. Women in Paris are either strictly middle-aged and prim, looking, like that awful over-publicized woman who wrote French Women Don't Gain Weight (Dorothy Hammill haircut, gold earrings, pants-suit, naturalizer-looking shoes, patterned scarves. Mostly unremarkable except for the shitty sheen of wealthy-indifference) or strictly early 20-somethings dressed like bag ladies. Want to look super-chouette in Paris? All you need are horizontally-striped stockings (you know, like Raggedy Ann's) a long, flowing skirt, a long, flowing, preferably dirty sweater, high top converse sneakers, and a huge, unruly scarf twisted either around your head or your neck. Actually, you know this look from the sudden publicity surrounding the Olsen twin's bobo chic style. I think it's a cool look, to tell the truth, but I'm too old to pull it off, and too young to want to emulate the older women's style. And what does it matter? Who exactly do I think is looking at me in Paris and why is it different from how I am looked at here? And why do I care there when I don't care here?

4. Paris is relentlessly straight. Unbelievably so. For a cosmopolitan city, I think this makes it pretty provincial. I know, I know, the Marais is where the gays are. But only there? Really, ONLY THERE?

So, if you were wondering just how shallow Margo is, if, for example, she is shallow enough to spend a week in a pretty amazing city and somehow come back focused almost entirely on herself and her internalized self-loathing as a woman of some bodily substance, as an American, as poor, this entry would suggest that yes, yes she IS that shallow.

Were I to write this entry over again (if I didn't have to scour the house from top to bottom because my diss. advisor is in town this weekend and coming over for brunch tomorrow and even though I'm 5 years out of my Ph.D., she still makes me pretty nervous) maybe I would focus on the good things about my trip: the hotel room with a balcony overlooking a charming, busy little street in the Latin Quarter, the amazing frontiére we saw at the Opèra Garniere (not quite an opera, not quite a ballet), the perfect weather (mid to high 60s, cloudless skies, moonlit nights), the incredible conversations my girlfriend and I kept falling into as we walked and walked and walked and walked, the way the waiters at my favorite restaurant remembered me and came over to greet me and do the double cheek kiss when I walked in.

Wednesday, March 16, 2005


I'm off to Paris for a week--it's time to make my yearly pilgrimage to Jim Morrison's grave. (Not that I really believe he's dead. I'm just playing along to make sure I stay on Mr. Mojo Rising's good side.) I'm just dying to check out the new Hamburger Quick in the L.Q. and see what's new at Euro-Disney. If you hear news stories of crazy American tourists who won't stop rubbing their breasts against the bar at the Ritz, you'll know that's your very own Margo trying to channel F. Scott and Ernest H. Vive l'Absinthe!

Now this isn't a haitus in a one-more-Bonnie-Hunt-show-down-the-drain kind of way. I'll be back March 25th.
love and kisses,

Sunday, March 13, 2005

life on the wrong side of the tenure tracks

Check out Sfrajett's blog. Beautiful and funny and moving and scary.

why, rosie, why?

did you register your blog under the
sad, desperate name
why do you hunger,
(still hunger, such hunger!)
for love, for attention?

why don't you capitalize?
why do you insist on weird enjambment
that makes a bordline banal rage
a banal poem
that smacks of anne sexton gone awry
and adolescent agony
and pain and longing?

i was with you when you were an up and coming comedian,
watched you when you hosted friday night videos,
when mtv was new and rock videos were young,
cheered you on in a league of their own,
even watched that stupid undercover cop movie
with emilio estevez
and richard dreyfuss (never as dear as in "the goodbye girl," never as
even though it sucked, because there was you.
funny, smart, wise, proudly large.
maybe queer.

tolerated the smarmy talk show
and the crap all over your desk,
the toys, the fooze balls, the drooling
pandering to
the novice pulled from the audience to announce the show,
because sometimes you brought kate mulgrew on
and doted on her
because you loved her as mary ryan,
and stuck with her through mrs. columbo
and rejoiced with her casting as kathryn janeway
and in your simple, loving gushiness over this hard, lovely little woman
you came out. really.
we saw you.
we knew.

oh rosie, i think i know why you do it.
why you write such sad, bad poetry
that makes me
i think i understand: abjections feels good
and loose
and easy
and crouchy, fetal-position-safe.
i feel the pull,
i can taste the temptation,
even as my pinky fingers (arbiters of logic and order) reach for the shift key, for the period key, the comma key.

you want to construct yourself as pained, as sensitive, as hurting, as deep, as a woman and a mother, just like them, every bit as legitimate as them
even though . . .

because you think that will make them
accept you, love you, make playdates with your children.

But you need to stop, goddamn it. Stop acting like a gushing teenage babysitter from the wrong side of the tracks trying to make the rich, white, straight housewives love you. (I've sang that song before, Rosie. You can't pitch it in a key they will hear.) They will never really love you, or at least will never cast a vote that might protect your family, or your rights. This is class warfare and you're a working class dyke. Step up to the table (or the plate. I'm not much good at metaphors) if you want to be a public intellectual, and correct me if I'm reading too much into this, but you did agree to an article in the NY Times last week, promoting your new "forum," so I think you understand and accept that responsibility. Write in complete sentences, try a paragraph or two of actual, cohesive thought. You know a lot, you've seen a lot, you have opinions; you even have readers (I've seen their comments. They still adore you). Blow your nose, splash some cold water on your face and start from the beginning. Now what is it you're so upset about? What do you want your readers to understand? What do you want to share?

Oh, and try being a teeny bit less anti-semitic. Giving your son a bris does not entitle you to use phrases like "nebbishy jewish below average lawyer."
with love and kisses,

Thursday, March 10, 2005

pilfered from a student's blog

Kind of weird, I know, to be reading a student's blog, but several of my queer theory students have given me their links because they want to share some pretty intense blogosphere discussions they've initiated because of our class. And they're having smart, interesting, provocative discussions. But they also post some fun quizzes. I'm sitting here with cold feet (literally) but too lazy to get stockings, feeling devastated because I just got some really bad news from home. Maybe I'll write about it later, but right now I'm going to sip my bourbon and soda, listen to Dusty Springfield, and be self-indulgent. Seriously, THANK GOD I got my hair colored today, or I wouldn't have anything to be even remotely happy about.

1. YOUR PORN STAR NAME: (Name of first pet / Street you live on): Barney Paulina
2. YOUR MOVIE STAR NAME: (Name of your favorite snack food / Grandfather's first name): Stilton Philip
3. YOUR FASHION DESIGNER NAME: (First word you see on your left / Favorite restaurant): Eyes T's.
4. EXOTIC FOREIGNER ALIAS: (Favorite Spice / Last Vacation Spot):Rosemary Paris
5. SOCIALITE ALIAS: (Silliest Childhood Nickname / Town Where You First Partied): Scooter Somerville
6. "FLY GIRL/BOY" ALIAS (a la J. Lo): (First Initial / First Two or Three Letters of your Last Name): M-Bra
7. ICON ALIAS: (Something Sweet Within Sight / Any Liquid in Your Kitchen): Bourbon Milk
8. DETECTIVE ALIAS: (Favorite Baby Animal / Where You Went to High School): Kitten Newport
9. BARFLY ALIAS: (Last Snack Food You Ate / Your Favorite Alcoholic Drink): Triscuit Bourbon
10. SOAP OPERA ALIAS: (Middle Name / Street Where You First Lived): Blank Melotte
11. ROCK STAR ALIAS: (Favorite Candy / Last Name Of Favorite Musician): Reeses Springfield
12. YOUR STAR WARS NAME: ( First 2 letters of your first name and the first 3 Letters from your last name makes your first name. Take the first 2 letters of your mother's maiden name and the first 3 letters of the city you were born in): Mebra Witor


Monday, March 07, 2005

Numbers and Colors and Days

I got a really lovely response to Why I Hate 8 by someone named Joanna who related my number/color system to her childhood conception of time:
When I was very little, I visualized life as being a timeline set in bold
numbers. What came before and what came after were in faded numbers, but were
still there--like a tape. I remember when I was four and my great-aunt died,
thinking that she would start cycling through the faded numbers and come back
into the bold ones and have another life. Don't know where this idea came
from--my parents were Catholic and Presbyterian--neither faith known for belief
in reincarnation.

This makes a lot of sense to me; in fact, I still see time kind of like this, as a timeline fading in and out. I've tried to explain this many times (even written a spectacularly unsuccessful poem about this, fueled by the dreariness of the job market). Mostly I end up just flailing my arms and twisting my body sideways as I try to explain that I see time moving along a diagonal that intersects my body. It comes from over my right shoulder and juts out to the left. This is how I visualize months (which are also colored, but that's absolutely derived from elementary school bulletin board displays). Weeks go from right to left, looping back so that Saturday becomes the beginning of Sunday. Kind of like a Yeatsian gyre. Hours moves from my feet to the top of my head.

But back to months and the timeline. From where I'm standing in greenish-purple March I can see the yellow and white daisies of June to my left, about 24 feet away.

where the boys are

Today is the first day of the last week of class. For real, finally. In my head we've been winding down from this ten week quarter for about five weeks. I've let my literature class leave early so many times I'm almost afraid it's going to show up on the evals as a bad thing--some of them leave disappointed, saying, "But I was so excited to talk about x, y, z"; the rest shake themselves from their slouched-down, not-asleep-because-she'll-kick-my-ass, let's say relaxed posture, rebundle themselves into their Arctic wear and slouch outside to smoke against the building wall for the next half hour.

An Impromptu Poem (highlighting my flair for irritating repetition in lieu of creativity)
Maybe because this winter has been so cold,
Maybe because I went off Lexapro and got the shakes and brain zaps,
Maybe because I've been teaching MWF and have had WAY too much face contact with students,
Maybe because it's my second quarter in a row teaching a pure theory class without any literature to contextualize, or soften things
Maybe because my literature class is something I haven't taught since my postdoc, that I pulled out of my ass and polished up when the Eng. dept. asked for a class
Maybe because I've been eating too much Kashi and quinoa.
Maybe I've just been saving my strength for spring quarter, aka, ten more weeks of class

But now I only have three more days, then three days of grading, twisting students' arms to get very late papers in, more grading, meetings and then

SPRING BREAK IN PARIS! Just me, my girlfriend, the Orsay, and that yummy white bean soup with ham and lots of crusty bread.

This will be the first time I've ever been to Paris as a person, rather than as a professor with a gaggle of study abroad students. Not that I didn't ditch them whenever I could/whenever they passed out, not that I haven't had lots of quality time exploring by myself, but this time I don't have to worry that I'll be awakened at 3am and dragged through the streets of the Latin Quarter by panicked, drunken students who have lost one of their own, who want me to retrace their steps to the jazz club where they last saw him, who want me to LOOK AT HIS VOMIT on the bathroom floor as proof that he was there at some point and somehow, somehow, use that to find him. As though I'm a bloodhound.

But today I am still here, still must teach (in about an hour), still haven't finished today's quiz.

Friday, March 04, 2005

March Forth

March 4th is my favorite day, because it's also a sentence.

Thursday, March 03, 2005

Bette Davis Speaks

Remember that time I had an affair with Howard Hughes (I even cured him of his impotence) and he never left emeralds on my dressing table or dipped his plane over my house, and Cate Blanchett didn't play me in a biopic and win an Oscar?

That sucked.