Hot air balloons, carriage rides, showers of rose petals–now you have to do everything short of swallowing the ring and shooting it out of your ass at the opportune time. It used to be that we only learned how to talk through imitation. Now we learn to feel through imitation too. By the time a man proposes he’s seen the gesture played out on television a thousand and one times. Likewise, the woman has seen the reaction a thousand-plus times. There’s nothing genuine about it. We’re following a template, performing the way we’ve been taught to perform. I wouldn’t know how to react to anything genuinely now. My response to every significant moment in my life is more or less predetermined.
I can’t see you standing like a bug under those streetlights the color of antibacterial soap.
My older son has been making collages lately. He uses his blue plastic scissors, cuts rectangular shapes out of the papers in his composition notebook, arranges them, glues them in place, and then draws over the pieces.
I’m without a pair of scissors at the moment. My last pair broke about a month ago, after being with me for more than twenty years. It was a good, solid pair of scissors. The handles were muted yellow–or maybe the yellow was bright and youthful and faded with age? There was nothing remarkable about the blades, but they cut well. I have always liked the overall design of those scissors. The lines were simple and clean, without any superfluous shape or decoration. The scissors had dignity.Read more
I didn’t have a speech problem when I was little. I started stammering, slurring, and stumbling over my own words towards the end of elementary school. At around the same time, my hands decided to commiserate with my tongue and stutter whenever I write.
Start, stammer, stop. False start.
The start might have been a bang. An explosion on the evening of September 18, 1931: the start of Japan’s invasion of China. Were it not for the invasion, my grandparents would have continued their separate lives hundreds of miles away from each other and never met. If it weren’t for the invasion, the Democratic Party in China at the time would have continued making progress, leaving the Communist Party little opportunity to rise up. In that alternative universe, Taiwan would be an insignificant island and I would not exist.
Stop. That’s not my story to tell.Read more
Do what you love and you’ll never work a day in your life! Before succumbing to the intoxicating warmth of that promise, it’s critical to ask, “Who, exactly, benefits from making work feel like non-work?” “Why should workers feel as if they aren’t working when they are?”
That’s a great compliment, coming from Kobe. I feel the same way about him.
I recently consumed an excellent book, “The Trip to Echo Springs” by Olivia Laing. It’s a travel memoir on the subject of writers and alcohol, told through Laing’s journey to eight cities meaningful to her subjects: Ernest Hemingway, F. Scott Fitzgerald, John Cheever, Raymond Carver, Tennessee Williams, and John Berryman.
Her journey ends in Port Angeles, Oregon, where Raymond Carver lived for most of his last years. I have heard of Carver’s struggle with alcohol, and its effect on his first marriage. Before reading “The Trip to Echo Spring”, I wasn’t aware how violent he was towards his long-suffering wife, Maryann Burk Carver–he once hit her with a wine bottle, severing an artery and nearly killing her.
Incidentally, during the week when I was reading about Carver and his violent past, an athlete named Richard Sherman was in the news because he made some emotional remarks after an intense football game. This resulted in him being referred to as a “thug” on television for over 600 times the next day.
I wonder: would we call Raymond Carver a thug for beating his wife? Perhaps it was a different time. I imagine if he were to smash his wife’s head against the sidewalk today, he’d be in jail. Or at least I’d hope so. Or perhaps if Carver were alive today, he would move to Florida and join the force–apparently the winning combination to get away with domestic violence.
What has gone over me? It’s Super Bowl Sunday–a day for us to suspend our moral judgements and agree to celebrate a game of lethal violence!
I learned a few things about opossums from reading The New York Times today.
Fact #1. Opossums are more related to kangaroos and koalas than they are to rodents.
I think of all annoying city animals as rodents. Aggressive squirrels that can’t leave our strollers alone? Rodents with big tails. Overweight, fast-food loving pigeons that fly too low and shit too much? Rodents with wings. I’ve never given opossums much thought, but if I see one rummaging through a trash can, I’d call it a big white-faced rodent.
Contrary to what I’d like to believe, opossums are marsupials, which have a distinctive characteristic: they carry their young in a pouch. I just looked that up on Google Images and nearly fainted. Speaking of fainting,
Fact #2: Opossums play dead as a defensive mechanism.
Against an aggressor, an opossum’s strategy is to growl and hiss, and if that doesn’t work, it faints. According to The New York Times article, this little distant cousin of kangaroos isn’t bluffing:
…an opossum actually faints from stress. Physiologically, the opossum shuts down, balls up its front feet and goes limp. It may even drool from its open mouth.
That sounds funny until you watch this two-minute video of an enormous possum that’s just fainted. Holy hell.
An Opassom hath an head like a Swine, and a taile like a Rat, and is of the bignes of a Cat. Under her belly she hath a bagge, wherein shee lodgeth, carrieth, and sucketh her young.
There you go. The more you know.