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Monthly Archives: November 2007

Thanksgiving break :-)  §

It’s been a busy couple of weeks. I totally forgot until just now that I have a blog.

Here’s what I did over Thanksgiving break:

– Drive across the country from New York to Salt Lake City in three days
– Get married
– Eat a lot
– Drive back across the country from Salt Lake City to New York

That’s right, get married.

There’s one more wedding in Poland next year, but I am already the happiest man alive.

There’s nothing else to add. Life is quite simply a damn beautiful thing.



It destroys your ability to be fair. It destroys your ability to be honest. It puts you in a very particular sort of position: the position of having to agree, whether or not you happen to agree.

This is a lesson that politicians, most famously, have failed to learn, but it appears that I may have failed to learn it also.

Be careful, children; it is easy to sell your soul without meaning to do so. This is the nature of the free market—of markets of any kind. In order to avoid doing it, you must always actively work against the possibility; it is not enough to passively wait for the opportunity to turn down offers to buy it. They won’t arrive by post, after all; they will enter your house like Nosferatu, and once you open the door, they have been invited.

The rewards are immediate, if unexpected, and they are also seductive; the bill, which arrives later, can no longer be negotiated.

You are owned.

Academics can either be a futile campaign against innumerable windmills or simple whorism. The former is noble, if a bit stupid; the latter is base. I pursue the former precisely because I am an idiot, and a generally agreeable one at that. I wish to avoid the latter precisely because I do not wish to be a whore.

Sometimes  §

I get lost in a kind of fascination with China. It is a kind of foreign self for me.

And it is an emerging superpower. And it claims to be successfully maintaining a communist/capitalist hybrid. And it had the printing press and paper money hundreds of years before the west. And they make everything we use, every day.

I think I feel as though people in the old world must have felt about the U.S. during its emergence in the 19th and early 20th centuries… The sense that the global balance of power is shifting, and that these people, to whom I am in some way vaguely linked, are the next gravity center of humanity.

Language projects, which have been a part of my “gotta do it, somehow (but dammit probably won’t)” canon since way back in my undergrad anthropology days, are calling to me once again. I have to learn Chinese and Polish. Polish and Chinese.

Just over a week now. 😉

We are up to our ears  §

in subprime at work. We have been for months now. This financial crisis has been growing and not only do we watch it every day, we ingest it, play with it, make friends with it, know it inside and out.

Ladies and gentlemen, I suspect we are going to have a wee depression. Times will be very tough. Things in the world markets are very bad and for some time now every story out of the financial press is the same. The basic question is not if, but when.

When is it all going to collapse?

Some days I sit here and feel like a dead man walking in relation to the economy. I wonder if we are all, as middle class people, going to be like corpses: stuck in exactly the position we were in when it happened, unable to move, unable to grow, in a state of total powerlessness, with no options left, having lost.

I suspect we are going to have a wee depression. Or at least a very, very big recession.

Buy what you need now, because it’s gonna get way more expensive over the next ten years, while your wages don’t get any higher at all—in fact, you’ll be thanking the stars if you can hang onto the job you’ve got at the wages you currently earn.

My parents are right;  §

life proceeds in stages. I don’t know how many times I’ve heard my parents say it. “Many,” I suppose, is the answer to the question.

I don’t know if I like the word “stages.” It seems to mundane, too mechanical, too quotidian. I’d rather say that life happens in “epochs” or “eras” or even “ages.”

I don’t really remember leaving childhood behind. Maybe it was when I stopped going to church. I think I left “youth” behind on the day J—e and I broke up. Now I am watching “young adult” give way simply to “adult,” right before my eyes.

There is Christmas music playing all over New York already. And suddenly, as if I had reverted to being ten years old, Christmas feels magical again. The longing-filled verses drift almost visibly through the shops and streets and the little decorations and colors that are popping up everywhere seem not so much reflections of a consumption-oriented world as heartfelt attempts by real, well-intentioned people to transcend it.

That old, special magic seems to be creeping back into the world for me—that sense of the beauty of things, of meaning that runs much deeper than can be excavated, much deeper tham can be exploited by cynicism and jadedness.

Many people  §

are stupid. Not just silly or unserious or misguided or uninformed. No. Stupid.


Women.  §


The midterm report  §

So the middle of the term has now, officially, for sure, without a question, passed. Actually, I think I’m a little late in making a post like this one because I think midterm may actually have been last week or something like that. But today was midterm exam day for my students, so today is officially the middle of the term, so far as I’m concerned.

As this term got underway I was concerned because it promised to be the most busy three or four months of my life, compounded by one of the most transformative ongoing periods of my life. Halfway through the term, things are a little less worrying. Everything is busy as hell and life is being lived on a shoestring most of the time, but it isn’t at all bad. I’m quite happy and things are nominally manageable, though that sort of evaluation makes things sound a little more stable than they might actually be.

But in any case:

– I’m caught up on grading papers
– I’ve fixed my computer three times (twice involving a soldering iron)
– One paper submitted (from Krakow; two more papers are left)
– Most of my students’ papers are graded right now
– We are okay on money (not rich, but okay)
– The November trip is creeping up and is very exciting
– Shandy continues to grow
– I continue to grow

Life is just sort of hanging together and getting better. I still pinch myself every day to make sure I’m not dreaming; everything has come together into “happiness” so very quickly that I’m almost not used to it yet. I’ve found my person, I adore my dog, my house is lovely, my grades are excellent, professors love me, money isn’t tight, my health doesn’t suck at all, and I live in the pizza-by-the-slice capitol of the world. Awesome.

There is a can in front of me with maybe 45 pencils in it.

I remember there was some research a few years ago that suggested that men in particular are intellectually productive only until the point at which they get married. I wonder if that’s true. I guess we’ll find out.

I was walking Shandy tonight along the road by the river and looking at the two bridges stretching out above us and wondering just what this entire area must have looked like before New York happened. It’s so forceful now, the presence of this place, the embodiment of this city right here, right now, that it’s almost unimaginable that at one time or another this was all wilds full of foliage and watershed and wildlife. I have trouble just imagining the river without the bridges over it.

There is nothing quite so reassuring in life as a basket full of potatoes on a windowsill. Such potatoes carry the unmistakable DNA of the subjective present, which also happens to be the essence of truth.