Monday, November 09, 2009


Thanksgiving is coming up. This means that I will have a three day break from teaching which will provide me with dull and shortlived sanity. This also means that I will be baking frantically in order to attempt the most wonderful vegan dish that anyone has ever had the pleasure to shove greedily into their mouth.
This also means that ThanksVegan is very soon.

Every November I throw a party called ThanksVegan. It started out years ago in a vain attempt to make friends come to my house and celebrate with me. It also means that I am generally annoyed and/or slightly intoxicated by 8 p.m. on some Saturday or Sunday evening, waiting for my guests to show up and freaking out a little bit because, truth be told, I kind of hate social gatherings, especially the ones where I play hostess. I have held this party for many years at this point and it still slightly frightens me.

ThanksVegan Year Two
This was the year where GZ and I made traditional Thanksgiving fare. Tofurkey, mashed potatoes and gravy, pumpkin pie and green bean casserole. (Undoubtably the hit of the evening.)
This was the first ThanksVegan in my own house and therefore I had no friends to really get nervous with. GZ usually leaves me to simmer in my own nerves on such occassions. I usually take two showers, spend an hour getting dressed, changing my clothes, taking off my makeup, putting said clothes back on and then finally opening a bottle of wine and reapply my makeup into a bit of a devil may care expression.
Parties like this make me nervous because inevitably there are many people whom I have invited whom I'm not quite sure I like. I invite them out of some Miss Manners sense of hospitality and then have to bite my tongue when they show up with one plate and say "Yeah, I didn't bring anything to your potluck, except this plate. But you can keep the plate!" The plate is usually one of those disgustingly plastic ones that may have at one point been red but seems to have become a dark shade of salmon. It usually still has a few spots of brown, crusty gunk on it from the thrift store or perhaps the person's inability to wash dishes properly. I can only assume that s/he had pulled it out of the trunk only moments before. I grimace an insincere "Thank you" and take a list out of my pocket 0n which to write this person's name. Later, when I am by myself I divide the group into the "Invite Again" list and the "Shun in social situations" list. Inevitably the latter is longer than the former and I have to take back all of those feelings of hatred that I have toward that person and send out another invitation the next year. But I do it with a proud sense of reservation.
Yet another characteristic of these parties is the inclusion of the "Crap" dish and the local crazy boyfriend that happened to wander in because I forgot to ask probing questions.

The "Crap" dish of ThanksVegans Past:
1. crackers
2. carrots still in bag
3. Warm carrots that were warm because they were sitting in a car all day.
4. Cheap store bought hummus that had been half eaten by the time it arrived
5. Non-vegan onion dip
5. Non-vegetarian soup
6. A plate

There, of course, is always the "I didn't bring anything" group. I'm really torn on how to feel about this group. They are much like the "I didn't wear a costume" group at the Costume party. S/he will show up twenty minutes late, empty handed except for the beer that s/he brought for him/herself and will proceed to eat as much as possible.
On the upside, I feel free to blanket the person with as much derision as I please. I am still unsure as to how I should feel about people who do not bring food to a potluck.

One year the night ended in some random hippie guy running through the living room with pretend horns on his head in imitation of an animal whose name I cannot recall. He caused about half the party to relocate to a bedroom with a lock. Many took shelter in the room and refused to come out until the guy left. His friend had spent the entire evening telling me that I would die if I traveled anywhere into Mexico.

But the next year my boyfriend brought a dead, mummified dog from the attic and onto the front porch thereby frightening most attendees. Most of these guests did not return the next year.

I belive that I will begin preparing for ThanksVegan tonight. Recipes will follow.

Thursday, November 05, 2009

Lolita with a Pen Knife

I've been away for quite some time obviously. For the most part I've been attempting to make some sense of how to throw myself into all of the separate parts of my life without transmogrifying myself into a lost sense of self- or at the very least losing a finger.
So, I've decided to give this the old college try- just in the non-traditional student type of way.
I'm now teaching English as a second language through my local university. And I think I might have decided to stop caring yesterday.
Most of my class trouble seemed to start around the day that I decided to buy new glasses.

I have large orange glasses now. When I tried them on for the first time, the lady at the eye doctor's office said to me, "You know, when I looked at these I wasn't sure that you would be able to pull them off. But look at you! You're doing it!" She then motioned for her fellow employees to come over and take a look at how well I was wearing the glasses. They "ooo"ed and "ahh"ed at appropriate times, gesturing and nodding at my face, glad that Betsy had brought them over to see the new glasses. One girl looked at me and then looked away. I wondered if perhaps she thought that the glasses were ugly. I wondered if she was thinking to herself that I should have stuck with my old scratched up glasses because now I looked like some extra from Twin Peaks.
Rather than look at them all, I chose to watch a young man, who across the room was trying on his new glasses. Quietly looking at himself in the narrow mirrors. Turning left, then right. Left, then right.

Thursday, December 07, 2006

Lambasting and the Dead Kennedys

Blogging. I suppose that this is the moment when I should evaluate my place in all of this racey bloggetry and tie my ideas into those of Barton in all of his rational-critical debate, all the while publicly, openly using this public sphere in an attempt to sythezize my thoughts on the matter.

This won’t be an epiphany entry I assure you, dear reader, so stop shuddering. What is the future of rational critical debate? Can it be left up to the (at (large)) public to set up a self-policing system for the internet?

The "Internet can serve either to "reflect in every institution the logic of modern production" or
enable "the flexible testing of possibilities and the development of the new—not hierarchical
and standardization but variety and growth of the capacities required to live in a more complex

I enjoy the idea of rational critical debate because it hints to me of that sometimes elusive productivity within a discussion session. But can the public really operate with a non-hierarchical system set up for communication and the distribution of ideas? When I ask that question, I’m not asking if people can operate under a non-hierarchical system, but rather, will it actually happen? It seems that the idea of unrestrained freedom will begin to run into walls after a time. Someone will want to be able to own the popular idea– it becomes pop culture owned by the rich and displayed on a mantle piece.

To me, right now, the internet is rebellious pop-culture, destined to go the way of The Dead Kennedys or Cindy Lauper, except for the strength of the public.

So I guess what I’m pondering around is that while I’m not a huge fan of blogging and I don’t have much experience or faith in the wiki, at least we have it. "We" have the option to contribute and correct and question. We, as a pubic, have the right to our opinions, and the right to post them, no matter how crazy, insightful, or inane. The web has become our own interpretive project.

Saturday, November 25, 2006

Wild purple roses and gnarly sticks and one of those electric can-openers from GE

"What are we likely to carry with us when we ask that our relationship with all technologies should be like that we have with the technology of printed words?"
What is the "technology of printed words"?

Does this technology pertain to comprehension of writing in a technology based medium or does it merely delineate the dividing line between engine/ering of thought and the human/ity of thought?

The idea of computers in the writing classroom is one that has been lit upon a few times this semester. Dusted, discussed in brief and tossed aside and stored under the idea of academic progression.

My point (of weapons) isn’t to chose a side in this argument/diss/ent/con/cussion. It’s merely to dazed, bleary eyed, stare at a screen through glasses (which have been tinted so that I don’t get a headache from the glare), and think about what I am doing right now, think about what I’m posing/posturing about.
The computer in the writing classroom could be seen as that annoying machine in the garden.

Get it out! It’s ruining the ambiance of my nature/al state.
I want to pull the weeds myself. I want to till the land with my own scuffling tools.

Until my hands become too dirty. Until my fingers are sore. Until I can’t bend anymore. Then I retire to the sidelines to straighten my back, to take off my gloves, to put down my trowel. Upon my straightening my eyes/regard/intellect/opinions fall again/light upon that horrid machine gleaming in my organic primitivism.
It’s a challenge.

We intelligentsia bow to progress. With the lowered gaze of respect/shame we ac/knowledge what we are confronted with in this, our organic classroom. The room of holistic rubric. As if that structure could be defined as such. We cover our structure with the bright blooms of the moon flowers and the marigolds. We cover the engine and the battery and the blades with sunflowers. We drape our beautiful green ivy over the imposing steel. We tried to adapt. We try to use equal amounts of nature in our gardens.
But it is so easy to not dig by hand. It is so easy to not use a pen.
The scratches of the pen/quill/trowel are drowning in the marching tap of technology.
My hands won’t be as calloused this spring.

No one will be able to tell how much I love my garden, my potatoes, my lettuce, my corn.
But maybe I liked that my hands were sore. Maybe I liked that my muscles ached and that I had to spend hours in the blinding/suffocating sun so that I could get the radishes in on time.
Maybe that’s why I plant my garden every year.

Machine in the garden.
Computers in the composition classroom.

Friday, November 17, 2006

I’ve had a few days to think about what I wrote in class on Wednesday, and for the most part I’ve decided that I don’t really believe a word that I said/wrote. Sure, a teaching pedagogy is good to have. It’s good to identify yourself as having a certain type of teaching slant.

"My fellow teachers, I define myself as skew expressionist."

"Well class, I lean subjectivly from my podium, with just the smallest bit of objectivism–for the grade assignation ability, you understand."

Should teachers really be content to pick a category and shoot for that.? Aren’t most decisions made arbitrarily in the first place? Based on the strength of a wind gust and whether or not a penny lands heads up? I guess what I’m stuck on is how "we" ( the royal We) as teachers decide to teach? Or maybe how much of our learning style is pushed upon students?

I personally cannot stand --fill in the blank-- therefore I will not teach it.

I would honestly like to type that I’m a subjective teacher. I would like to say that I change my mind constantly based upon every situation. How horrible would that be? Would that be any better than looking at an essay and taking off ten points because one aspect of the MLA format was not used? I suppose consistence is a good idea. Consistency and clarity.
Maybe I also suppose that I don’t really know what my teaching pedagogy is. Maybe I get aggravated by the fact that I should even feel the need/desire to be able to say that I identify with one or the other or the other or the other.
Maybe I’m assuming that picking a pedagogy has far too many implications.
I’ve taught in one classroom, and all I really took from those classes was that I could not teach everyone the same way. Some people needed specific attention. Others wanted group work. Some students couldn’t stand to be helped. So, how do I, as a "teacher," wade my way through that information, through the individualized needs of thirty people, ages 14-68?
Does it matter?
I'm aware that all teachers are not inherently "bad," and neither are they inherently "good." And that most students aren't going to be ruined for academia simply because s/he had a few bad experiences.
Does good teaching require categorization?

But also, can I Vin diagram my thoughts in a sincere and unbiased manner?

Tuesday, October 31, 2006

You're right, Craig

I should have said something.

I’ll just write what I was thinking during those fifty minutes, and maybe that will make up for some of it.

This is where we as intellectuals separate, splinter and co/llapse into our di/tri/vided subject/ivisms.

I like ol’ Vic. You’re right, class, he’s not a man of clarity, but is that such a bad thing? Does/is everything (need) to be so c/leaved and sapless as to render all readers prostrate with comprehension? Dare I say no? Dare I say that no one understands what I understand?
I wrote in another post, "When I say Horse, what do you think of?"
I think of my youngest brother. He had laryngitis when he was twelve. We spent two weeks making up sign language in order to communicate, but mainly to cast aspersions against my older brother when he was in the room.

Of course, the words Horse and hoarse aren’t spelled the same, but that just adds something to my definition.

This individual response is what Vitanza is digging for/cultivating/planting.
There is a state of individualism that goes into personal thought. A state which is influenced by past experiences and vague/fugue opines that I, as I am not you, will never under/stand. And I suppose that is quite alright, because it drives me to try to understand. It begs me to take my feelings and combine it with a dozen other thoughts which are floating, aimless, above my head.
I think that fuzzy gray condition is the shape/spatial arrangement of something as different from its substance/trapezoid from which Vitanza is stuck and wandering/wondering.
In class, we spoke of Sophistic argument as being manipulative and lacking a point. Maybe. Does it manipulate or simply present. Sometimes pre/suming a unequi/vocal answer to any question can be a shameless display of ignorance. To expect someone to follow a recipe and an outcome of thought is not proliferating critical cerebration. I think that it presents options. It urges the reader to come to a conclusion, or at least formulate an idea.
Or at the very least think about it some more.

I honestly believe that Vitanza uses the con/muddled language because he wants to present something else. He wants to present the in/fin/ite/beginning options. Vitanza uses word-play and metaphor to illustrate that every word is subjective and suggestive.


What do you think of that word? What does that word entail and presuppose for you-- the reader/thinker?
Its definition changes with each person, because how could one person presume to hold the definite definition for any given word, for any given emotion?
He uses political revolutions/historical events to incur emotions, to foster knowledge, to find that lagging attention.
Words foster emotions, and the desire to understand. So, if a confusing sentencial relation makes the reader need to read and re-read then maybe that is all he wanted in the first place.
I’m not saying that I know what he was saying in his essay, only that he was probably saying quite a few things.
Well, anyway, that’s how I feel about it.

Friday, October 27, 2006

Le brouillard de l'etude

The writing process.
We've spent this entire semester learning how to teach writing. As a graduate student, I have spent the last three semesters learning the "Writing Process," or was it product?
We're learning to inoculate, to break down, to build up, to ride around, to run around post/modernizing the writing process and the students that we teach. ( I'm using the royal "We" here, since I am not teaching this year, and so can only look at these processes through the dim and unfocused eyes of the outsider.)
But I can see quite clearly with the eyes of the student learning to write.
This week someone touched upon the idea of high school versus college writing. Or maybe the actual subject was "My English Teacher Taught Me During Half-Time." I felt rather lucky during that conversation. My high school English teacher was wonderful. Most of the students hated her because she wouldn't let anyone chew gum during class, and her druthers involved assigning twenty page papers. I dug on her. I was fully prepared for my first semester in college, and I think it was because we wrote constantly in her classes. We generally kept within a very formulaic outline of reader response and criticism, but it certainly didn't hurt me to write more.
So, I'm just wondering about that first semester at the university.
Does it really make or break a writing student? Or is that giving too much credit to 100 and 110 classes?
How does one start to teach writing? How does a teacher get through the fog of learning that is hovering around some of those first year college writers?
How do graduate assistants get rid of the idea that the writing really isn't as bad as all of that?
When I was in high school my math teacher was the woman whom I named as my arch nemesis. Our relationship and interactions were uncomfortable at best.
I guess what I'm saying here is that I still hate math. Walking into a math class makes me want to drop out of school just so that I don't have to deal with any math teacher/pro/fessor ever again.
I know that every teacher is not Mrs. Clark, but I always see her 50's hair and huge glasses when I encounter arithmetical theorem.

So how do teachers deal with the presuppositions of the student?
Any teacher can reference those icons until his/her breath is absolutely gone, but when all of those greats have death-rattled their way into the sunset, it really is up to the Teacher to tear away those prejudices.

Because, you know, I really loathed Mrs. Clark.