Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Life of the Mind

You know that you're intellectually overstimulated when you stay up until 7:00 am every night during the week, poring over such diverse works as R.K. Narayan's The Bhagavad Gita and Scott McCloud's Understanding Comics, when you're tracing the path of the concept of thelema through François Rabelais to Aleister Crowley to Hermann Hesse, and writing a cheeky and ostentatious linguistically splashy review of Billy Collins's "Taking Off Emily Dickinson's Clothes" (which happens to be a kick-ass poem, by the way).

It's not the reading and writing so much as the stepped-up tempo, the white heat of the end of the semester and the sizzling and popping of the synapses, the cascading flood of neurotransmitters fueled by coffee, yerba mate, and the bad food (as mentioned below).

You know it's bad when you find yourself finally in bed, the sky turning and lightening from violet to winter white, and on the flickering television is an adorable little penguin named Paz, with a squeaky child's voice, playing games and learning about life with his friends Pig, Dog, and Rabbit. The show is called "Ready, Set, Learn", and you LOVE it.

At least you love these animated shorts--kept to under eight minutes so as to not run over the shorter attention spans of preschoolers--and you realize that while the content is what some might choose to call "cheesy", it nevertheless serves as an aid to mental and emotional decompression. It's a sort of pre-sleep relaxation period. Paz and his mother, Big Penguin, have discussions over "sammiches" about the color of anger (red) and sadness (blue), as well as Paz's small stature, which we are all assured will change as he gets older. You realize that if you had a child, this is the sort of thing that you would like them to watch, as opposed to virtually everything else on the television.

* * *

The thing is, I don't know if it's simply the fact that I'm burnt out, or if I really am so deeply touched by the subject matter (i.e. socialization, communion, our inherent need for love and companionship, our shared struggle for meaning) but I've been having a pretty visceral reaction to Paz lately.

I tend to get teary watching it.

I watched Paz "play circus" this morning, and he pretended that he was "The Great Penguini".

It was beautiful.

This is the life of the mind.

Sunday, December 10, 2006

Sack O' Limes

As an undergraduate in the last few weeks of my last semester, I have realized that the only reason I don't have scurvy is the liberal application of Centrum® vitamins and the occasional packet of Emer-Gen-C®.

I haven't eaten a vegetable in several weeks, and my bones are probably so porous that I could take off and fly like a little bird.


I remember vegetables, the delicate curl of a leaf of frisée, or the emerald florets of broccoli...

I did eat two leaves of iceberg lettuce today, but they are so devoid of nutrition that they probably made my body cry wracking sobs of betrayal, shuddering impotent rage at the teasing cruelty of my food choices.

Ramen noodles seem to be my convenience food of choice, "Oriental Flavor" being the only one I indulge in. Three minutes in boiling water and back to writing. Plus, they're so aesthetically pleasing, convoluted noodles extruded in neat sinusoidal rows, unfolding in the pot.

Peanut butter and jelly on twelve-grain bread is a close second--a healthy meal, closer to veggies--reasoning that peanuts are a legume, and legumes are next to vegetables in some taxonomies of nutrition... jelly is a serving of fruit, in the same way that the Ketchup Packet is a single serving of a vegetable.

I really must get more money, or at least steal some fruit so I don't have a psychotic break due to my brains liquefying like I have some sort of prion disease, Bovine Spongiform Encepholopathy (Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease is the human variant, but I like the plosive sounds of the former better) or voices telling me to eat the neighbor's dog... I kid, I kid, I love Brinkley.

Someone buy me a sack o' limes so my teeth don't drop out of my head.

tink tink tink... teef in the sink.

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Graduate School

I have been accepted to the M.A. Program in English at SUNY New Paltz.

It feels good.

[Nov. 21: edit-- I have also been given an offer for a Teaching Assistantship beginning in the fall]

Sunday, September 03, 2006

vanity post

3 September 1973
Your date of conception was on or about 11 December 1972 which was a Monday.

You were born on a Monday
under the astrological sign Virgo.
Your Life path number is 5.

Life Path Compatibility:
You are most compatible with those with the Life Path numbers 1, 5 & 7.
You should get along well with those with the Life Path numbers 3 & 9.
You may or may not get along well with those with the Life Path number 8.
You are least compatible with those with the Life Path numbers 2, 4, 6, 11 & 22.

The Julian calendar date of your birth is 2441928.5.
The golden number for 1973 is 17.
The epact number for 1973 is 25.
The year 1973 was not a leap year.

Your birthday falls into the Chinese year beginning 2/3/1973 and ending 1/22/1974.
You were born in the Chinese year of the Ox.

Your Native American Zodiac sign is Bear; your plant is Violets.

You were born in the Egyptian month of Hathys, the third month of the season of Poret (Emergence - Fertile soil).

Your date of birth on the Hebrew calendar is 7 Elul 5733.

The date of Easter on your birth year was Sunday, 22 April 1973.
The date of Orthodox Easter on your birth year was Sunday, 29 April 1973.
The date of Ash Wednesday (the first day of Lent) on your birth year was Wednesday 7 March 1973.
The date of Whitsun (Pentecost Sunday) in the year of your birth was Sunday 10 June 1973.
The date of Whisuntide in the year of your birth was Sunday 17 June 1973.
The date of Rosh Hashanah in the year of your birth was Thursday, 27 September 1973.
The date of Passover in the year of your birth was Tuesday, 17 April 1973.
The date of Mardi Gras on your birth year was Tuesday 6 March 1973.

As of 9/2/2006 11:42:21 PM EDT
You are 32 years old.
You are 396 months old.
You are 1,721 weeks old.
You are 12,052 days old.
You are 289,271 hours old.
You are 17,356,302 minutes old.
You are 1,041,378,141 seconds old.

Your age is the equivalent of a dog that is 4.71702544031311 years old. (You're still chasing cats!)

There are 1 days till your next birthday
on which your cake will have 33 candles.

Those 33 candles produce 33 BTUs,
or 8,316 calories of heat (that's only 8.3160 food Calories!) .
You can boil 3.77 US ounces of water with that many candles.

In 1973 there were approximately 3.7 million births in the US.
In 1973 the US population was approximately 203,302,031 people, 57.4 persons per square mile.
In 1973 in the US there were approximately 2,158,802 marriages (10.6%) and 708,000 divorces (3.5%)
In 1973 in the US there were approximately 1,921,000 deaths (9.5 per 1000)
In the US a new person is born approximately every 8 seconds.
In the US one person dies approximately every 12 seconds.

Your birthstone is Sapphire

The Mystical properties of Sapphire

Though not meant to replace traditional medical treatment, Sapphire is used for clear thinking.
Some lists consider these stones to be your birthstone. (Birthstone lists come from Jewelers, Tibet, Ayurvedic Indian medicine, and other sources)

Agate, Moonstone, Lapis Lazuli

Your birth tree is

Weeping Willow, the Melancholy
Beautiful but full of melancholy, attractive, very empathic, loves anything beautiful and tasteful, loves to travel, dreamer, restless, capricious, honest, can be influenced but is not easy to live with, demanding, good intuition, suffers in love but finds sometimes an anchoring partner.

There are 114 days till Christmas 2006!
There are 127 days till Orthodox Christmas!

The moon's phase on the day you were
born was waxing crescent.


Tuesday, July 18, 2006

not the best week.

My bike is broken, because it fell over at the shop where I work, so now it's a six mile walk to and from everyday. TAP has decided to give me less money in September than they originally estimated, to the tune of a third less. I did a massive load of laundry today, almost everything I own, and a pen exploded in the dryer and inked everything to a greater or lesser degree; nothing I can wear now is ink-free. We are having a pantry-moth infestation and had to throw out three-quarters of our food. I need to get my graduation application finalized, and everytime I have a moment free, my advisor isn't, and vice-versa. Massive heat wave- I'm having a problem, and no dough for an appointment with a doc or a script. On top of all this, I can't seem to do anything correctly at work lately.

This has been my past week and a half. The only good thing? She is awesome. We went to a street fair in High Falls last weekend, and I bought matching stainless steel rings for us.

Oh, and we've been having a "Lost" marathon. I'm hooked.

Two weeks ago I did get to cut and place veneer on a Jean Prouvé cabinet, similar to this one. Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting

That was pretty cool.

Monday, July 17, 2006

Monday, July 17th, 2006: Weather

Monday: Mostly sunny and hot, with a high near 97. Heat index values as high as 102. Calm wind becoming north between 4 and 7 mph.


Saturday, June 10, 2006

I want a 1GB iPod nano. In black.

It is my new dangling carrot, providing a motivation to work harder. [even though I can barely pay my bills as it is]

Saturday, May 27, 2006

Vanity Post

                                             CRED   GR   QP  

41200 01 ANALY INTERP OF LIT 3.0 A 12.00
41302 03 ENGLISH LITERATURE 2 4.0 A 16.00
41406 03 SHAKESPEARE 1 3.0 A 12.00
41453 01 THE CRAFT OF POETRY 3.0 A 12.00

SEM. CR. TOWARD CUM. 13.0 52.00 4.00*
TOT. CR. TOWARD CUM. 40.0 156.04 3.90


Semester gpa: 4.00
Cumulative gpa: 3.90
awww, yeah.

Tuesday, May 16, 2006

Thoughts upon Julius Caesar’s Last Moments

When Caesar said "Et tu, Brute?", in shock
his dying breath contained myriad things:
1024 atoms; a flock
of tiny birds on 1 million billion billion wings.
And in the time between his death and now
they have flown from Rome and into your mouth!
And I hear you wondering aloud, “How?”
They have circulated North, West, East, South—
Casting these oxygen and carbon seeds
across the world over land and ocean.
You likely inhale one or two of these
as your chest rises and falls; the motion
of every single quiet breath
brings the flavor of Caesar’s Death.

© jrs

Sunday, May 14, 2006

another poem today.

A [sort of] Elegy for the Night-Table

The night-table is an ugly redbrown, the paint slapped on thick,
why were you cast off, left at the curb, a lone bastard son?
Someone had their time with you, and then let you pass
unmourned;. Why? Even as I see you there, unburied,
I know that this is temporary, the interstitial place
where death and potentiation live together, in the
shadowlands. Once loved and now lost, but ready to move on.
I carefully scoop you up, and swaddle you in a wool blanket, bringing you home.
I remove your three drawers, standing them up on cardboard,
numbering them, 1,2,3.
I number your insides and lay you down on a cardboard bed.
Donning a denim apron, I snap on skintight blue nitrile gloves.
I pour varnish remover on your sides, and it slowly rolls down,
aided by a paintbrush in my hand. I wait.
The stripper goes to work, slowly melting and bonding to the old paint, crinkling it up in waves.
The scraper pulls the old finish off in convoluted ribbons, revealing
your honey blond grain beneath, still stained in spots.
Wiping you clean with an old tee shirt, I repeat the process with your drawers, scraping halfmoon carved drawer pulls clean,
feeling echoes of forsaking fingers.
I open another gallon can, hiss of the mouth breathing in the air, sides donging outward. Upending over
another rag, I am bathed in the carcinogen-sweet smell of lacquer thinner.
I wash you carefully with the liquid, running steel wool over your skin,
burnishing out remaining stains.
You dry almost as soon as you are wet, the volatile fumes rising.
I carry you outside, and pour more lacquer thinner upon your face, anointing you.
I strike a match and touch you, setting you alight.
Burning with an ephemeral blue flame, almost invisible,
the heat draws out old wax and impurities.
You sparkle, tiny shining dots push up through your skin.
I put everything away, and begin sanding you with 80 grit
then 120 grit sandpaper,
sloughing off scales, the wind carrying the chaff away,
revealing new wood, untouched and ready
for the kiss of chestnut mist.

© jrs

Saturday, May 13, 2006

Ulster Pastoral

Stepping out into coolwet morning air, unlock the bike,
tighten my knapsack straps, my breath trailing behind me.
Out onto the street and up, muted clicking of the chain through derailleur,
the rapid bump of tire-nub and the rush of passing cars.
Up the long hill, my legs pumping, warming,
through the town and up, deep breaths and up,
this long slow hill and all my muscles humming;
then, leveling out, and a slow glide across the overpass,
the breeze climbing down my shirt, my jacket flapping.
Over my shoulder, the ridge reclines, bluegreen and wrapped in fog, not quite awake.
Ahead, rolling foothills and low curling mist easing through the treetops, soft puffs of smoke.
The wheel crunches on the shoulder, ploughing through gravel.
Garlic mustard and wild onion sweeten the air. Robins alight in meadows
hopping and pecking. Occasional rabbits
panic and freeze, panic and freeze.
The hawks watch and wheel, waiting for the sun to break through and warm their wings.
Skirting the edges of culverts, the sluggish seep of runoff nourishing mallows and lilies,
the lime carpet of algae rimmed with froth,
the shale piles in thousands of weathered arrowpoints, mounds of slategrey cloven rock,
my legs moving up and down, up and down in tight circles, breathing in time.
Leaning barns with quiet ghosts and rough rust-red tractors watch over fields lain fallow,
The deer flick their tails and dip their heads down as I pass;
Heading east, the sun is a vague corona above the trees;
it pushes through the clouds, guiding me upward,

© jrs

Saturday, May 06, 2006

okay, another one.


The parking lot light shines
through grey Venetian blinds,
an illuminated fence on the floor
Floating in this limitless empty space,
a reference point, defining my place;
it is an anchor, lying on the shore.
Ink-dark carpet ocean:
red and green glowing LED’s
mark a channel, like dim buoys
drifting in slow motion.

Pipes softly hiss and creak
as if trying to speak;
the stress of expansion almost too great.
Quiet stretch and groan, a subdued protest
against bearing this hot unwelcome guest.
An angry slow push against the steel plate
of the straining baseboard;
though the air wafts still soft and warm
it is the calm before the storm,
and cannot be ignored.

Breathing deep next to me
she slumbers peacefully,
her face angelic, relaxed and content
[for she is free from this worry and stress].
I resist the urge to touch and caress
her, lest she wake—this is time well spent
together in our bed—
no place I’d rather be on Earth.
Moments without her have less worth—
morning fills me with dread.

The morning is coming!
Marching dawn is drumming!
The light clicks off and leaves me in blue hue.
Twilight is here and stars are winking out,
I want to hold it back, to rail, scream and shout,
but I know that there’s nothing I can do
but rise and get ready
to shower, shave, brush and get dressed.
[understand I am truly blessed
in love with this lady].

A stack of bills to pay.
Rent’s due on the first day
of the month, or else I wouldn’t get up.
Oh, to stay in bed, in the warmth with you,
there’s nothing I really would rather do;
but without work I cannot fill my cup
or yours with drink, or plates
with food, without money, no rent
paid and eviction notice sent:
we’ll be in dire straits.

The sky is lightening,
the noose is tightening—
I’m desperate to avoid going out,
but I must, and you truly ought to know
that all the day long as I work, although
I have to do what I do, please don’t doubt
I am thinking of you.
You are forever in my mind—
open the grey Venetian blinds,
breathe, and enjoy the view.

© jrs

another poem


My mother once gave me a compass, so
“I wouldn’t lose my direction”.
It burned in a car fire. Now a new
one, on my belt, needle pointing skyward.

Three key fobs rattle, the print worn away,
the bounce and click a tight marching cadence.
Medals from a war of attrition, still
ongoing; “One Day At A Time” they say.

A finger-sized flashlight shows me the way:
a tiny beacon against stubbed toes at
midnight, tacks, bugs, crumbs, shoes and loose wires.
My magic wand, warding off the unknown.

Further down, a tiny green pocketknife
dangles, home to miniature scissors,
nail file, toothpick, tweezers and tiny blade:
knife useless for all but the smallest task.

Solid-state circuitry hangs just below,
zeroes and ones sit silently waiting.
Thirty poems packed neatly in plastic
and silicon—the size of this stanza.

A pint-sized, felt-tipped, black sharpie marker
for poetic graffiti—scrawled haiku
left in serendipitous locations
bringing smiles to frowning passersby.

Unsurprisingly, there are keys here too—
Siblings in sharp-toothed brass, a patina
from age, like two old pennies: controlling
ingress and egress—the bolt clicks, thunks shut.

© jrs

Tuesday, April 04, 2006

The standard all students should aspire to.

Of studye took he most cure and most heede.
Nought oo word spak he more than was neede,
And that was said in forme and reverence,
And short and quik, and ful of heigh sentence:
Souning in moral vertu wa his speeche,
And gladly wolde he lerne, and gladly teche.

Saturday, April 01, 2006

An excerpt on the chinese concept of an ideal home, as seen in Lin Yutang's The Importance of Living, and Barry Hugheart's Bridge of Birds.

Inside the gate there is a footpath, and the footpath must be winding. At the turn of the footpath there is an outdoor screen, and the screen must be small. Behind the screen there is a terrace, and the terrace must be level. On the banks of the terrace there are flowers, and the flowers must be bright-colored. Beyond the terrace there is a wall, and the wall must be low. By the side of the wall is a pine tree, and the pine must be old. At the foot of the pine there are rocks, and the rocks must be quaint. Over the rocks there is a pavilion, and the pavilion must be simple. Beyond the pavilion are bamboos, and the bamboos must be sparse. At the end of the bamboos there is a house, and the house must be secluded. By the side of the house is a road, and the road must branch off. Where several branches come together is a bridge, and the bridge must be tantalizing to cross. At the end of the bridge there are trees, and the trees must be tall. In the shade of the trees there is grass, and the grass must be green. Above the grass plot is a ditch, and the ditch must be slender. At the top of the ditch is a spring, and the spring must gurgle. Above the spring there is a hill, and the hill must be undulating. Below the hill is a hall, and the hall must be square. At the corner of the hall there is a vegetable garden, and the garden must be big. In the garden is a stork, and the stork must dance. The stork announces that there is a guest, and the guest must not be vulgar. When the guest arrives he is offered wine, and the wine must not be declined. At the drink the guest must get drunk, and the drunken guest must not want to go home.

[originally posted on IEATTAPES by 31d1]

Friday, March 17, 2006

A Neuropathic Villanelle

We all have our crosses to bear
I clench tight my fist, knuckles in white rows—
All I can do is sit and stare.

Spitting and popping, my nerves are flayed bare,
I can’t transcend the pain, and I suppose
we all have our crosses to bear.

The smoldering silent biting Night-mare:
Its fire creeps slowly, as if it knows
All I can do is sit and stare.

Only so much and it begins to wear
me down—wordless passion and twisted pose:
We all have our crosses to bear.

When I’m stressed it comes as a white-hot flare,
and when relaxed, sparks as it comes and goes—
all I can do is sit and stare.

Sometimes, I forget I have a hand there—
It’s a little loss of self, and God knows
we all have our crosses to bear.
All I can do is sit and stare.

© 2006

Flash IPA chart

need to know what an unvoiced/voiceless alveolar lateral fricative sounds like? All your phonetic issues solved at the touch of a button or two. From Paul Meier Dialect Services.

Also see
Wikipedia on IPA, and the IPA's Homepage.

Tuesday, February 21, 2006

Easy on the Hooptedoodle

3. Never use a verb other than "said" to carry dialogue.

Mystery Ink: 10 Rules for Writing by Elmore Leonard

Just found this...

Considering that I have only been averaging roughly four hours of sleep a night for the past several weeks, and haven't produced much in terms of writing, I thought I'd share this link with everyone- It's a series of Free Writing Prompts from writersdigest.com. There's a new one every day, and many from the past that one may browse through.

I'm sitting at my desk, sipping a maté, and wondering which one I should attempt today.

Saturday, January 14, 2006


Every year edge.org asks prominent people to answer a question- this year's question was 'WHAT IS YOUR DANGEROUS IDEA?
The history of science is replete with discoveries that were considered socially, morally, or emotionally dangerous in their time; the Copernican and Darwinian revolutions are the most obvious. What is your dangerous idea? An idea you think about (not necessarily one you originated) that is dangerous not because it is assumed to be false, but because it might be true?'

That is, what thoughts does one have that seem to be heretical, the things that one dare not speak out loud, for fear of ostracism or professional criticism, &c.

Unfortunately, the link goes directly to the index page, but I urge you to browse through all of the essays; they are all wonderful, in their own way. It's certainly food for thought, whether you agree with an individual author or not.

The self is a conceptual chimera. Doubt that a supernatural being exists is banal, but the more radical doubt that we exist, at least as anything more than nominal, marginally integrated entities having convenient labels like "Myrtle" and "Oscar," is my candidate for Dangerous Idea. This is, of course, Hume's idea — and Buddha's as well — that the self is an ever-changing collection of beliefs, perceptions, and attitudes, that it is not an essential and persistent entity, but rather a conceptual chimera. If this belief ever became widely and viscerally felt throughout a society — whether because of advances in neurobiology, cognitive science, philosophical insights, or whatever — its effects on that society would be incalculable. (Or so this assemblage of beliefs, perceptions, and attitudes sometimes thinks.) excerpt from John Allen Paulos' 'dangerous question'.

Wednesday, January 11, 2006

William Safire's Rules for Writers - Amidst a tangled web

Remember to never split an infinitive. The passive voice should never be used. Do not put statements in the negative form. Verbs have to agree with their subjects. Proofread carefully to see if you words out. If you reread your work, you can find on rereading a great deal of repetition can be avoided by rereading and editing. A writer must not shift your point of view. And don't start a sentence with a conjunction. (Remember, too, a preposition is a terrible word to end a sentence with.) Don't overuse exclamation marks!! Place pronouns as close as possible, especially in long sentences, as of 10 or more words, to their antecedents. Writing carefully, dangling participles must be avoided. If any word is improper at the end of a sentence, a linking verb is. Take the bull by the hand and avoid mixing metaphors. Avoid trendy locutions that sound flaky. Everyone should be careful to use a singular pronoun with singular nouns in their writing. Always pick on the correct idiom. The adverb always follows the verb. Last but not least, avoid cliches like the plague; seek viable alternatives.

-- William Safire