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In the sixth night of Natsume Soseki’s Ten Nights’ Dreams, Unkei the Sculptor is carving a Nio, a temple guardian, in front of spectators. Unkei’s sculpting technique is diffident, offhand, unconcerned, yet exquisitely confident. The dreamer wonders how Unkei does this, and is told that Unkei merely digs out the Nio that’s been buried all along in the wood. It’s like digging stones out of the ground, another onlooker says. He cannot make a mistake.

And so what, I wonder, might be hidden inside a page? Or inside this screen? Inside your screen?

What does my Nio look like? What does yours?

What if my Nio is simply the stones themselves? Virtual stones, at that. Virtual stones, for the metaphorical stones, for the metaphysical Nio.

But I like the stones.

I’ll make a small pile of them here. Like gold new potatoes.

And then later I’ll cook them with rasins and cumin and ginger and snap peas and cinnamon.

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BUCKSHOT

1. My internet has been quixotically fritzy for the past 3-4 days, and I can’t quite isolate the problem. At first I thought it was an Airport/Time Capsule problem, but then I moved directly to ethernet, and I’m still regularly disconnecting. So now I’m wondering if the cable connect is being disturbed while the side of the apartment is partially dismantled for the construction of a new balcony/porch. Or maybe it’s just my iMac being capricious? In the meantime, all is vaguely untrustworthy just from the fact that I find feral feline teethmarks all over every single power cord and ethernet patch and cable line. I’m currently blogging from the Netbook using 3G, but I’m sure that it’s only a matter of time before this remaining frail umbilical is severed as well.

2. Speaking of apartment repair, it was unnerving to wake up to pounding and scaffolding, no balcony, and my landlord and his father stationed right outside my dining room windows, blaring KFUCK: The Universe’s Most Loathsomely Treacly Country Hits Ever or somesuch on their transistor radio. Today I heard that Exes in Texas song. Eesh. Although? I did also hear Glen Campbell’s “Rhinestone Cowboy.” Which, okay, I kind of <3, to be perfectly honest. I used to love the Glenn Campbell show, and Rhinestone Cowboy? My favorite. Le sigh. When I was four, I told my parents I was going to marry Glen Campbell. Of course, I'd also earlier announced plans of pleading my troth to Gomer Pyle, so clearly I was a Very Disturbed Child. Or, maybe we just had shitty television reception then in Laramie, Wyoming. Only two stations came in reliably and the bunny ears, wrapped in podgy silver rolls of tinfoil (as if that was supposed to help!), had to be constantly tweaked and gyrated. We didn't even get PBS.

3. Have been gloriously holed up (That sounds suspiciously a lot like gloryholed, doesn't it? Which sounds, well . . . naughty, doesn't it?) Oh hell, now I have to start this sentence all over. Have been gloriously holed up readingreadingreading and writingwritingwriting and hanging out with the cats, and sweeping up the crockery after the cats break the crockery, thereby entailing the picking out of new crockery on eBay for the cats to break. It's pretty awesome! And such a shame that the summer is rapidly drawing to a close. How about let's add on another month please? Pretty please?

4. I recently realized that I've been procrastinating completion on a book project, because I'm very unsure of what sort of direction I might want to take next/after. I hate being in limbo between creative projects, and like to have at least a little bit of a start of something new before I finish a book. (You know, all that Hemingway-esque Always Leave Something to Work on the Next Day crap, right?) But deliberate procrastination seems equally crazy, and just another form of stuck-ness. I am all about the Anti-stuck-ness these days. Stasis (as in stuck-ness, and distinct from, say, stillness, which is completely different and not a problem) = suffocation, paralysis, and (not to put too fine a point on it) death. But worse, because you're not actually dead yet. So it's like being buried alive. Even worser? It's self-inflicted! So maybe what I'm saying is that Stasis = Self-Inflicted Zombification. Like you ate your own brains! (Confession? It's entirely possible that I had waaaaay too much caffeine today. Mea culpa.) So no more procrastination on this book project. I’m moving forward.

5. Enough buckshot to constitute a blog post yet? I say yes.

ESTRANGEMENT

Oh, this poor ghost town of a blog!

Inhospitable to the trolling of search-engine spiders who simply shriveled up and died clinging to a rusted meta-tag.

Even the virtual tumbleweeds stopped rolling through months and months ago.

Even outlaw spambots stopped hiding out here.

Mostly I’ve been traveling all over the place. Pinging and ricocheting here and there like a demented pinball. I love it . . . I love going places, and I love impersonating my Author Function. But I’ve been constantly either Frantically Preparing to Leave Town or Frantically Catching Up From Having Been Out of Town. It’s been hard to settle in and find a routine, a groove, and so I’m constantly mole-whacking instead.

You should probably know that I’m very fond of moles.

I’m recently back from a wonderful summer residency teaching at the University of Nebraska low-residency M.F.A. Earlier this summer I read and gave workshops at the WyoWriters’ Conference in Cody, Wyoming. I visited the Heart Mountain internment site which was powerfully humbling and moving, and I also then spent several beautiful and hallucinatory days in Yellowstone National Park. Later on in the month I took a trip up the inland passage of Alaska, and spent a few days in Seattle after. Part of The Next Thing I was nattering on about in blog posts from the start of this year had to do with Making Things Happen, and travel is definitely One of Those Things. So I went. And I saw some stuff.

I’m obsessed with taking pictures. And thinking about what it means to take pictures. So this summer has been filled with taking a shitfuckload of photographs. And reading Barthes’ Camera Lucida, Lia Purpura’s On Looking, and John Berger’s About Looking. For starters. I bought a refurbished Nikon D5000 from eBay at the start of the summer, and it’s — well — amazing.

Random Japanese Mother Tidbit: In response to my nose piercing, I caught my mother calling me a Hole Punch under her breath when I saw her in Cody.

Okay. I think that’s all for now.

1. Am simultaneously preparing to leave town for a conference (where I’ll present a paper and give a poetry reading), preparing for my classes tomorrow, setting up course assignments for the subsequent week, commenting on student work, finishing up paper referenced above, and pulling together a grant application. My head’s like a kaleidoscope on hyperdrive — miscellaneous tiles of cyborgs and project narratives and queer theory and fanboys and dada and fuku and zafa and transsexuals and Bhaba and monsters and fetish and word betrayals all clicking and spinning and exploding in manic blooms.

2. Until yesterday, I had forgotten about the deliciousness of dried apricots.

3. Why is it always such a fine fine line for me between being bored and being overstimmed?

4. I think somebody should design a flushable apartment. Where you hit a flush button, and a sonic swoosh comes along and automatically cleans/dusts/vacuums/scours everything clean and funnels it all into some sort of recyclable lint trap thingy. I’m also a big proponent — perhaps I’ve mentioned this before? — of travel via pneumatic tubes, like at the bank’s drive thru. At bare minimum, it would be amusing to send one’s cats back and forth via pneumatic tube delivery system.

5. Last night I dream I have a passel of little brothers. They are, oddly, all towheads. The entire lot of them’s identically garbed in maroon hoodies and blue jeans and tube socks. They’re like a series of towheaded fraternal Russian nesting dolls. I’m staying at a hotel and I want to take a shower, but I can’t because the room’s crammed to the gills with smelly boy stuff — the entire bathroom and bathtub overflowing with dirty wet towels. I pull out some of towels from the bathtub and find a boy’s foot in the bathtub. It’s pale white and squishy and waterlogged, and vaguely fungus-y. “Clean up those towels!” I scold one of my towheaded brothers. He takes out the towels, but leaves the foot in the bathtub. “Will you get that foot out of the bathtub?” I say. “Is that your foot?” He shakes his head no — it belongs to one of the other brothers — and tosses the foot in the bathroom wastebasket. “Hey, you can’t leave that foot there,” I tell him. “Don’t you know that’s medical waste?”

6. Sandias, Old Town adobe, and King Sushi on my event horizon.

1. So, I’ve gone entirely paperless this semester. As in no paper. Pay. Per. Less. Am trying to save paper. Am hoping to save time, once I get over the initial learning curve and have a set of QuickMarks and a comments library to draw upon. [Delusional] Am hoping to grade on the plane and in airports and at the hotel once the traveling starts up again. [/Delusional] Am interested in the possibilities of grading anytime/anywhere on the Netbook with 3G. By the river in the spring, for example? At the top of the Mulberry Bend overlook? On the moon?

2. Open Letter to Brat Cats (With Names that May or May Not Sound Like Shmaiko?! and Shnobu?!) Who, in the Middle of the Night, Pulled Out all of the Painstakingly-Placed Color-Coded Post-It Flags out of Novel I Was Preparing to Teach this Week: YOU SUCK!

3. Last night I dreamed someone sent me a gigantic gift box, delivered to me at an outdoor cafe. The box was Tiffany blue, and looked like it could hold frighteningly oversized roses. I pulled off the top and lifted away the tissue. Inside, there was a large skinned flank of cow, and a skinned cow’s head. Gosh!, I said.

4. Somehow I thought I had more Tiddlies. I think I’m kind of scraping the bottom of the Wink barrel here?

5. This summer I’m going to read my internment monologues at the Heart Mountain site. I don’t know what else to say about this, other than that I’m very moved. And humbled.

6. I’ll be doing the above reading as part of the Wyoming Writers’ Conference, which will be held in Cody, Wyoming this summer. I’m going to make it a long driving trip, and then afterwards, I’m going to go to Yellowstone! And I will take as many pictures as I want! Also? I’m going to apply to be considered for a thing in Alaska! Because what could be better than that?

1. I’ve been thinking a lot about Waiting for The Next Thing vs. Shaking Things Up and Making Stuff Happen. So many things are out of one’s control and can’t be forced, aside from a certain attentiveness, or trust in process, or openness to possibility. But that said, what are the things that one can feasibly make happen or at least consciously make manifest as a possible happening? Applying for a grant to do a self-directed literary residency at a certain centre you’ve been dreaming of going to? Participating in an artist’s exchange program in, say, Japan? Enrolling for a photography course? Do. Able.

2. I love the velvety feel of Moleskine pages between my thumb and forefinger.

3. Double-header of novels today in my classes: Preeta Samarasan’s Evening is the Whole Day and James Baldwin’s Another Country. It’s going to be an exciting teaching day, but I feel as if my head’s a too-full bucket threatening to slosh over at any second. Overzealous overcaffeination is probably not helping in this regard.

4. I read the Neil Gaiman/Yoshitaka Amano collaboration The Sandman: The Dream Hunters over the weekend. Lovely. I can’t believe I didn’t get around to reading this sooner!

5. Is it weird that I think the word “hegemony” sounds sort of like a velvety-textured black flower with bright red pollen?

6. Two weekends ago? I made my very own soup stock for the very first time. Ever.

7. I only have four more minutes to generate Bits of Tid. It’s only 1 degree outside, and I need to factor in the amount it takes the not-inconsiderable amount of hair on my head to dry completely in order to avoid Flash-Frozen Coif Head.

8. Is it just me, or is the iTunes Genius Mix thingy indeed really sort of genius-y?

QUEEN OF SLACKTOPIA

So yes, there is a planet called Slacktopia and yes, I am its queen.

Ack! This poor blog.

In defense of Blog Slackerliness, may I say that it was an unusually frenetic semester, followed by an X-mas break spent frenetically trying to catch up on the spillover left over from unusually frenetic semester, now spilling over into the crackingly electric frenetic start of another frenetic semester.

My new book, On the Cusp of a Dangerous Year, is out, and SIU Press did a beautiful, amazing job. I couldn’t be happier.

I’ve been in the process of streamlining and reconfiguring and rearranging my life a little. A lot of nesting, and careful focusing in to make things more simple/clear, on the one hand, but also, simultaneously a more expansive moving outwards to grow, learn, challenge myself.

I think I’m instinctively preparing myself for The Next Thing. I have no idea what that means. I’m okay with that. In part, I think this has something to do with feeling my way toward/into new creative projects, but that’s only part of Next Thing-ness, I suspect. I don’t conceptualize Next Thing-ness as linear, or progressive, either, and not even necessarily external. I think it’s just a different shape of Thing-itude.

This is, let’s be very clear, a worthless, waste-of-space blog post about nothing. In fact, this entire post should undoubtedly be embracketed with cautionary HTML [crap] CRAP [/crap] brackets. But I promised myself that I could just go ahead and post as much crap as I wanted while I figured out how to renegotiate a relationship with this space.