Friday, September 30, 2011


Sometimes the people with whom one must work in organizational capacities are not as thoughtful or kind as one might hope. One learns to be patient with these people, or one becomes, eventually, a bitter hermit or an Ayn Rand nut. Or both. I long ago decided in favor of being patient, but once in a while I need to remind myself of that decision.

Cue the chorus of angry libertarian commenters googling Ayn Rand.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011


Thanks to everybody who made me feel better. Blog-commenting friends whom I miss and am about to miss, friends with whom I fought and am not fighting anymore, cheerful people at school, awesome students, and best ever boyfriend.

Y'all rock, and I intend to rock with you, no matter how much I suck at the guitar.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011


It is a strange transition, going from a year of fellowship funding in NY to a year of teaching in LA. When I say strange, I mean both my body and my mind are having a hard time coping with how very different life is here and now than there and then.

In NY, I was spending nearly all of my time and energy coping with grief after my mother's long illness and eventual death last October. Had I not been on fellowship, I would have had to take a leave from school, because there is not a chance in metaphorical hell that I would have been able to deal with working steadily. I joined a chorus eventually, and I had roommates and friends and family I saw from time to time, and I even got work done and joined a gym, but the vast bulk of my time, especially in the first half of the year, was spent sitting on my couch and trying not to think about Mom.

Now I am back in LA. I am singing and playing with the UCLA Early Music Ensemble, coordinating my department's dissertation seminar, going to the gym or yoga three to four days a week, teaching an undergrad class that starts tomorrow, meeting regularly with my advisor and producing prose for those meetings, volunteering at the LA Gay and Lesbian Center (starting Thursday), being a Head Steward in UAW 2865, and conducting interviews for the dissertation (starting next Tuesday). Plus I'm still seeing friends, though not roommates or family anymore.

On Saturday, I had a panic attack, which I am not used to. Before this week, the only panic attack I had ever had was when I read up on the details of ALS after Mom's diagnosis and saw the average prognosis of death in 2 years from onset of symptoms. Now I've had another and come close at least one other time. My therapist isn't available for another week.

This morning I hurt a friend by accident, in a way that was totally preventable. He hurt me in response, but only because I lashed out first. When an acquaintance looked stressed passing me in the hallway, I assumed I had also hurt her somehow without knowing it, though I haven't seen her in many months. When the conductor of the EME gave me a style tip, I thought she was angry with me for not having done what she was asking already. When a friend was tired this morning after yoga, I thought she was mad at me for inviting her to come to the class.

It turns out that getting back into a life that involves other people in a major way is difficult. I have spent a year basically not connecting with other people in any kind of official capacity, interacting a fair amount socially, but not at all formally. I came to LA with a lot of NY energy, and I have not yet expressed that energy in healthy or positive ways. I will work on that with my therapist, with my yoga, with my friends and students; I don't want to be as brittle and caustic as I have felt over the last few days.

Right now, I will sleep, and that may help. Tomorrow, I will go to the gym, have lunch with an acquaintance from college, and teach my first class of the quarter. Those all should help too. I insist upon regaining my equilibrium, equanimity, and equipage; there's nothing like a horse-drawn carriage to make me feel better.

Monday, September 26, 2011


I really enjoy that when I hear the letters FTM I have to wait for context to know if they mean a person who is female to male transsexual or the Feminist Theory in Music conference. And I always have a moment of confusion where I think I might have heard FTL, faster-than-light travel.

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Quick hit

Reading a very entertaining book for the dissertation, I discovered that when Brown v. Board of Ed mandated desegregation in 1954, Maya Angelou and Odetta toasted the occasion with, believe it or not, Jane Connell, who originated the role of Agnes Gooch in Mame.

At the time, Angelou was a "lascivious Caribbean singer" in a nightclub.

Fun stuff, no?

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

No words

I have no words of my own tonight, but here are a few from Gandalf, on the question of Gollum:

Deserves it! I daresay he does. Many that live deserve death. And some that die deserve life. Can you give it to them? Then do not be too eager to deal out death in judgement. For even the very wise cannot see all ends.

I don't believe in God. I don't believe that even a hypothetical supreme being with ultimate power over life and death is a beneficent moral construct. I certainly don't believe that we humans should seek to emulate that being, whether we are regarded as criminals or as officers of justice for doing so.

Saturday, September 17, 2011

I now pronounce you wife and wife

I officiated a wedding today! Perhaps more details will come later, but now I need to sleep.

Many, many congratulations to the decorators, the chefs, and the wedding planners, who were also the brides. I love y'all, and I am so, so honored to have been able to be of service on this incredible day.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

No Good Deed Goes Unpunished

This song has been stuck in my head since a friend said the title to me in conversation a few minutes ago. Sometimes in this profession you just despair of actually helping people. At least you get to listen to fun songs though.

(And no, there will be no more details forthcoming. Student privacy issues etc., etc.)

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

The habit of writing

The best way to get writing done is to write, they say, so in the interest of furthering the dissertation, I am practicing writing every day in this space as well as in the shoddy patchwork of fragmented nonsense in five different Microsoft Word documents that is my current dissertation chapter.

The aforementioned chapter is basically about musical comedy packrats, though I haven't used that word in the chapter (yet). I'm calling them "collectors," and I think I'll stick with that word for its mostly-not-creepy-unless-you-think-of-the-John-Fowles-book feel, as opposed to "hoarders," "obsessive fans," "self-proclaimed experts," or "scholars." If I knew more what I meant by the term, I'd explain it here as part of my crowdsource-the-dissertation initiative that I recently came up with, but so far the concept is just some thick fog and the suggestion of an outline of a figure peeking through that I think might just be a hedgehog.

My clever academese phrase of the day is "the slippage between comprehensiveness and comprehension," which I actually think will make sense once the figure in the fog is more solidly visible. Maybe that is a sign that I have spent too long in graduate school.

For now, take a look at this video which has nothing to do with the dissertation, but everything to do with my muddled metaphor and my user icon on 'most every social network. It just might be the best film (that I've seen) of 1975. And that includes The Rocky Horror Picture Show.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011


On rare occasions, students of mine have given me gifts. This is always an unexpected, and usually a pleasant experience. Today it was both of those, but also wildly confusing.

I am TAing for the History of Rock and Roll class until Thursday, and today was the instructor's last lecture of the quarter. A student who is not taking the class, but who has been sitting in for fun, came up to us at the end of the lecture and gave us both gifts. This marked the second time he had spoken to us in six weeks (the first being when he asked, after three weeks of sitting in the back of the room observing, if he could sit in the back of the room and observe), as his English is not very good and he seems somewhat shy.

The gift he gave the instructor was a pair of charming scarves, of the sort one could imagine Audrey Hepburn wearing constantly, but with slightly more dramatic patterns. The gift he gave me was...hard to describe. If I had to try, I would say it was a cartoon-esque plastic relief sculpture of an angry Peking Opera character on a black-and-gold background of Chinese characters that I cannot read.

"Character" in that sentence refers to roles in an opera, while "characters" refers to the logograms that make up the Chinese alphabet.

Longtime readers of this blog may recall that last summer I taught a course that included a day on Peking Opera, but this student had absolutely no way of knowing that. This course has nothing to do with Peking Opera. How on earth did he come up with this gift idea? Why did he want to give us gifts at all? How many licks does it take to get to the Tootsie Roll center of a Tootsie Pop?

The answer to all of these questions is, of course, "One, two-hoo, three."

This post has been brought to you by my effort to get back into blogging regularly. And by Tootsie Pops.

Monday, September 5, 2011

Lonely room

I have now been living alone for just over a month. I think it is fair to say that it is not my favorite way to live.

Yes, I enjoy the freedom of not having to get dressed until it's time to leave. Yes, I like being able to leave dishes where I want to leave them and not worry about anybody else needing the sink. Yes, I prefer shopping for only the foods and cleaning products I want.

But I have very little motivation in the morning, unless I'm going to meet someone. If I don't have a date with a friend to go for a walk or play a game or grade papers or write, I don't really feel like doing any of those things. I spend more time at home than I want to, because I don't have the energy to go anywhere if there won't be a person there noticing if I've come.

I have been managing quite well thus far, especially with Z2 and I going on walks in Runyon Canyon three mornings a week, but weekends are hard and this one is longer than usual. I miss all of my roommates, and my boyfriend, and my family, and all of the various friends who have shared my homes for a day or a week or six months or longer.

I have wonderful friends who want to spend time with me, many of whom live within a few blocks, but I have a very hard time calling them and asking them to do that. Especially since they almost all live with their partners, and I hesitate to insert myself into other people's relationships when they aren't asking me to.

This sounds awfully depressed, and I do feel that way at the moment, but I haven't felt that way most of this month. The Mysterious X has been great at helping me settle back in, and we have had lots of fun together, as I have had with all of my other friends here. But today, things just feel heavy.

They will get lighter, I know. The boyfriend will be here in three days, and I am very excited about seeing him. A few days after that, I'll be heading to Iowa to perform a wedding ceremony for two good friends, which should be a lot of fun. Then it's into the fall quarter and I'll be busy and distracted and happy. I just need to get through a bit of a rough patch right now, and I'm using this blog as a therapy substitute, since the therapist I just emailed is away from her email until the 12th. If anybody wants to come visit, at any time, I'd welcome the company.

Sunday, September 4, 2011


I have gotten very bad at blogging lately. Sorry.

All I have to report today is that the last time I put away laundry, I decided to sort my T-shirts. They are now organized into three categories:

Dresser: worn out exercise/pajama shirts
Left side of closet: gay shirts
Center of closet: nerd shirts.

That managed to cover all of them.