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07 January 2017 @ 10:25 pm
The first week of 2017 is in the books.

I certainly hope the rest of the year isn't this tumultuous, but the storyteller in me appreciates the novelistic way various threads, left unspooled at the week's/year's beginning, have braided themselves together into a semblance of conclusion.

Twice this week, yesterday and today, the snowfall was beautiful. I was fortunate enough not to have to go anywhere, so I could appreciate it whenever I would step outside during breaks in my work and feel flakes on my face. Last year, I'd somehow--in my constant transit and time away from home--managed to miss the snowfall. At least, the beautifully rendered snowfall. Meeting instead with rain, frozen and otherwise, and sub-freezing temperatures absent precipitation. Weather designed to aggravate commutes rather than augment the benefits of perambulation.

I've just sent in a (close to final) draft of the magazine piece I've been working on since the last months of 2016, and an agent phone call has helped prepare the way for much of the rest of the year's work, after some brief period of uncertainty. Transition from someone-who-writes to Professional has gotten its sea-legs.

I finished watching Hannibal with its sensuously sanguine finale and Silicon Valley, terribly appropriate to my new line of work as well as providing the type of predictable and reliable hilarity I'd been missing in my television diet of late. And, bookending the desistance that attended the week's beginning was K, who not only, over the course of long and wide-ranging conversation, managed to smooth out my complicated feelings re the Forbes 30 Under 30, offer industrial amounts of empathy during reminiscence of our eerily similar histories, and get me back into catching up on Justified. There was Dominos. Perhaps the most viscerally felt thread in the joy-braid that evening was the fact that I'd finally found someone who shared my enthusiasm for bacon-and-pepperoni hand-crusted pizza. (And extended discussions of class anxiety, interracial dating in the context of postcolonial predilections.) My world (I'd say the world, in general) is terrifyingly bereft of such people.

Earlier this week, the first three books in this year's Postcolonial Book Club project arrived in the mail. And then, late last night, a good friend with the hookup gave me this news.

Much of this, including the developments in the world of comics, rests on unstable foundation. But not once has it yet occurred to me to try forcing these trains along the rails previously specified for them.
Current Location: New Haven
Current Music: Tourist - Wait
03 January 2017 @ 09:44 pm
Seeing friends and classmates in the Forbes 30 Under 30 is never not complicated.
Current Location: New Haven
Current Music: Sober Rob - Realize
02 January 2017 @ 08:20 pm
Got dumped today, but a YA author and new friend reaches out, then I get retweeted by H. Jon fucking Benjamin.

There are two Domino's 2-topping medium pizzas, and when the delivery guy called, this song came immediately to mind.

I'm finishing an episode of Silicon Valley. My edits are a few windows behind this browser.

Current Location: New Haven
Current Music: Silicon Valley S2E1
02 January 2017 @ 02:33 am
the sirens outside the apartment have been non-stop.
Tags: ,
Current Location: New Haven
Current Music: Spotify - Staples commercial
01 January 2017 @ 11:56 pm
At Nee's urging, I've been watching Black Mirror and about 25 mins ago as of drafting this, I'd just finished the episode involving the couple and the technology that enables them to sift through and recall memories as though they were files on a hard drive, reminiscent of crowleycrow's short story, "Snow," which I suggested Nee read almost as soon as I started the episode.

Well, I finished the episode and the season very much stunned into silence. And heartbroken. Truly heartbroken. Yesterday, I saw the Natalie Portman Jackie Onassis biopic and were it not for that, I think I'd be more convinced that something might be a little off with me at the moment, or at least some of the gears and knobs and dials have been turned while I wasn't looking. While I'd heard Manchester By the Sea was an emotional powerhouse of the movie, I was not even remotely equipped to deal with it and there was one scene towards the end of the film that practically turned me into a puddle on the theater floor.

There was a time when I experienced emotions from a clinical distance and, before that, a time when they were things to be manipulated and finely tuned within myself. Afterwards, emotions were known things but controlled and now, as was the case when I saw Big Hero 6 in a Parisian UGC with a cabal of adolescent kids on a study abroad trip, I'm surprised by tears.

In the very beginning, when I very much felt as though I was nothing but exposed nerve endings, every little brush of air against the skin would prompt reaction, but more often than not, once it passed through the processing plant, out came a tin full of anger, sometimes rage.

But at Rikers, I could still turn it off. Surrounded as I was by persistent human tragedy and banal cruelty, by indicia of life's cheapening, I knew what I should be feeling and what some part of me was, indeed, feeling, but I could be amiable to the judges and cordial to the parole revocation specialists, and when corrections officers wished me happy birthday, I could smile with genuine mirth right back at them. The ladies who worked in DDOI knew me enough to take time out of their days and indulge me with queries and general chatting. It was my job, and I was aided in it by being able to turn it off.

It seems the salient difference is whether or not the catalyst is real life or art. Maybe I simply feel freer to emote in the face of depictions of the horrors and grieving that attend alcoholism than I do with actual alcoholics. Or maybe it's simply that alcoholics in person are generally a lot funnier than they are on film.

I'm not sure if what I'm experiencing now is gaining control or losing control, and I think I'm past wondering at the danger of having bridged the gap so completely between emotional stimuli and bodily response. (For instance, Daredevil's violence actively turns my stomach. However, Hannibal's hematic, chiaroscuro sequences were practically sublime.) But I am curious about whatever transformation this is and the fits and spurts it seems to have chosen as its primary form. Perhaps that is what separates us from the caterpillar who, unknowing, enters the cocoon simply because its body tells it to and its imaginal cells do their magic and out comes this transformed thing.

tl;dr: feeling things is still weird. even now.
Current Location: New Haven
Current Music: 10 Years - From Birth to Burial
Runaway Horses - A ReviewCollapse )
Current Location: New Haven
Current Music: Vitamin String Quartet - Orestes
28 December 2016 @ 05:23 pm
-- Schadenfreude with Bite - Richard Seymour, London Review of Books, Dec. 15, 2016

"The new inflection that the internet appears to make possible is the trolls’ disavowal of moral commitment, which depends on a strict demarcation between the ‘real’ offline self, and online anonymity. I am not what I do, as long as I do it online. Yet trolls are not the ‘equal opportunity offenders’ they claim to be. Much of the laughter, Phillips points out, is ‘directed at people of colour, especially African Americans, women, and gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender and queer’ people, while trolling communities disproportionately comprise young white men in Anglophone or Nordic countries. Phillips describes the way they perform their whiteness and a particular type of masculinity – their racist trolling of Obama, for example, or their habitual use of the term ‘fag’. Masculinism is built into the culture of trolling: it isn’t a stretch to see the troll’s amorality as bound up with the familiar masculinist fantasy of ironclad superiority. It may be that all trolls are, among other things, gendertrolls."

-- Vince Staples Can See His Own Death - Frank Guan, Vulture, Sept. 25, 2016

"Here and in conversation, it isn’t hard to discover the artist’s keen awareness of the roots of his disorientation. Staples is a gangster rapper with a penchant for studying history, both his own, his family’s, and that of his native Southern California in general: He recommends I read City of Quartz, the landmark Los Angeles history composed by Marxist urban theorist Mike Davis, which details the city’s original control by a Wasp elite grown rich from real-estate speculation and the city’s long-standing division along ethnic lines, with separate neighborhoods of the city settled by Wasps, Irish, Italians, Jews, Mexicans, Asians, and black Americans and neighborhood boundaries ruthlessly enforced by both the LAPD and white vigilante gangs. Immigrants from the West Indies, Staples’s grandparents lived in Los Angeles during a postwar period of relative prosperity but also saw their hard-earned economic gains destroyed in the wake of the stagnant and violent 1970s, when former members of a Black Panther movement shattered by FBI surveillance and infiltration created a street gang that came to be known as the Crips and rival street gangs responded by coalescing to form the Bloods."
Current Location: Water St.
Current Music: Stone Sour - Made of Scars
28 December 2016 @ 04:58 pm
-- The Graffiti Kids Who Sparked the Syrian War - Mark MacKinnon, The Globe and Mail, Dec. 2, 2016

"Naief Abazid had no inkling that he was about to launch a revolution, or anything else that has followed. He was just doing what the bigger kids told him to. Trying to make them laugh. “It’s your turn, Doctor Bashar al-Assad,” he painted, just under the window of the principal’s office of the all-boys al-Banin school in his hometown of Daraa. The date was Feb. 16, 2011."
Current Location: Water St.
Current Music: Evans Blue - Crawl Inside
28 December 2016 @ 01:34 pm
-- When Can I Say I'll Be Alone Forever? - Aimée Lutkin, Jezebel, Dec. 25, 2016

"Love and relationships are also, among other things, a marker of time. “Forever” frequently begins in love, though it is theoretically as tenuous as the single state. Looking ahead, if I really am riding this train to the end of the tracks, I don’t see any of the grand events in my future that help ground and timeline human existence, the events being in love provides. After my best friend got married she told me she cried all the next day, overwhelmed by the outpouring of affection from everyone she knew. She deserves it all, but years later, still single, I’ve realized that there will be no similar ceremonious acknowledgment of my life or my relationships with friends and family. Until I’m dead, I guess, but that won’t be very fun for me. Anchoring my existence without the signposts of commitment, or children, is a lot of work, and sometimes I feel myself giving up on it, drifting off into a grey directionless space in danger of floating completely away."

-- Why Agent Carter Feels Like Coming Home - Max Gladstone, Max Gladstone: Myths for Hire, Mar. 25, 2015

"People break. They sour inside. They assume they’re owed something that was never promised. They spiral down. They hunt. In the most benign scenario, they abandon old committed partners to chase new ones. The presumption that all intimacy must be sexual births horrors. And this isn’t just true of straight narratives! The assumption that any intimacy naturally results in sex leads to suspicion and scorn of contact and intimacy in same-gender groups as well—which I doubt makes life any easier for queer people. This narrative is related, I think, to the one where after your friend learns you’re gay he never hugs you again, where rumor you’re a lesbian titters through your girls’ school and suddenly some friends no longer speak with you."
Current Location: Water St.
Current Music: 10 Years - From Birth to Burial
28 December 2016 @ 12:36 pm
I love writing.

The Girl/girl/A and I didn't quite butt heads over this, but it was clear at some point that we had different--very different--ideas about writing. She, in a sense, kickstarted what burgeoning freelance career I have now; at least, she has implanted in me the courage and some of the resources to begin pitching ideas to places. It's a direct consequence of her efforts that, if everything goes as planned, that Untitled Magazine Piece mentioned in a previous entry may find a home.

This reverses the process I know and that I've spent my life enduring. Usually, the way it goes, you write the thing, then find it a home. Here, I'm shopping first for a home without having first birthed the child. The former is the process I'm most comfortable with, and I bristle against the latter because the fear is that, should I fail to find a suitable home or should a home fail to fit the shape of my aspirations, then the piece simply won't go written. An essay on System of a Down, a film review of Kenneth Lonergan's mediation on grief and addiction, an essay on using violent video games as a method for coping with loss. This perversion of the initial process threatens to thwart what ambitions I may have had as a reporter/journalist/critic. Of course, this fear wasn't always the case. When I wrote for The Morningside Muckraker, the proprietor of the establishment had reached out to me. With each prompt, I generated new content. There was no worry that something I wrote wouldn't find eyeballs.

Freelance writers impress the hell out of me for precisely this reason. There's no stability, no guarantee of compensation or acceptance. Even after the first part of the deal has been struck, pieces can be lost in purgatory, never to be published. Killed by the editor or just lost in the shuffle. The plight of being a writer.

And that's what this is for me: the difference between writing and being a writer.

Being a writer is supposed to contain that professional misery. It is allegedly supposed to contain the idea of writing as a self-inflicted wound, as masochism, as wrist-slitting so that what ends up on the page is gore and viscera and supposedly the truest parts of ourselves. Who can call themselves a writer and enjoy it or, at least, enjoy that?

I love writing, and I think that's what this space most means to me. I can practice here, I can freestyle, I can learn, I can talk about what I have learned and, in doing so, continue to learn.

A, I believe, wanted me to be a writer. I wanted simply to write.

Workshops and colloquia, a conference and book fair I would have had to travel and spend half a week attending, hobnobbing, and all the rest. None of it is writing. Now, don't get me wrong, I love fellowshipping and connecting and just generally sharing air with fellow bibliophiles and wordsmiths. And I love being around people who are good at the thing they do. But more than anything, I love writing.

More, even, than being a writer.

Postscript: I might write that System essay anyway.
Current Location: Water St.
Current Music: Bullet for My Valentine - Waking the Demon