Keep it loose, keep it tight

28 08 2012

Sorry for the light blogging, but I had to get my shit together.

This is how I am: I let things go, then reel ’em back in.

Not my hang-ups—Hera forbid I would let go of my hang-ups—but various tasks and maintenance and organization. Papers proliferate, folders flop about, and the miscellany of work and life moulders on benches and shelves and. . . anywhere, really.

This is a minor problem during the school year, but it worsens in the summer (when I’m not teaching) because, well, I hate everything in the summer and am utterly unwilling to do anything which might improve my surroundings and thus, my mood.

I wallow, in other words.

Well, the school year is about to begin, and although I am still in the midst of the August mugging, the necessity of pulling my teaching shit together prompted me to begin pulling my apartment together. I bought—even though I really don’t want to buy any more stuff—a couple of shelves, moved a pile of books off of the floor and on to one set of shelves, and cleaned up my sweater pile with another.

Then I attacked a mess of papers lurking about my desk, recycling a bunch of stuff and filing the rest. There’s more to be done, but at least the remaining piles are sorted.

And then—oh, yeah!—I had to update my syllabi, print out notes and class rosters and check on just where my classes would be meeting. Terribly embarrassing to show up in the wrong classroom.

Do I sound excited for the school year to begin? It’s because I am!

Yes, your bitter, sarcastic, foul-tempered and foul-mouthed blogger actually enjoys teaching!

Don’t hate me because, while I do hate everything in August, I don’t hate everything all of the time.

And I have a tidy apartment to prove it.


While the sun displays its teeth

16 08 2012

Two more things before I return to my regularly scheduled programming of cats, ontology, and the edges of modernity.

First, August.

Yes, I’m going to talk bitch about August again because, goddammit, August is only halfway over and I’ve yet to get some serious hate on.

But here’s what I can hate about the month: the mugg. The heat, actually, isn’t as bad as it is in July, when the sun gleefully and maliciously hammers us with her rays (and of course the sun is a she; is this really even a question?) and refuses to go away. She’s there when you get up in the morning, stalks you all through the day, then hangs on with her nails to the last shreds of the beaten day. Even after the sun has been put down, however, her vicious heat lingers throughout the night, waiting to be reborn.

July sucks, in other words.

But at the beginning of the month you’re kind of brave, thinking, No, this summer won’t be so bad. C’mon, June was reasonable; maybe that’s a good omen! It is only by the end of the month that you are thoroughly battered and waving your hands in futile plea for it all to stop.

That’s when August begins. The days are shorter, yes, and the peaks of heat not as sharp, but now that the sun has bashed you into submission, she turns sullen and tag-teams with humidity, which proceeds to smother you with its mugg.

You have already conceded, already given up, but before she sneers away into September, summer needs to kick you a few more times just to make sure you stay down.

And in the city, it smells bad, too.

Okay, so that was issue one.

Issue two is, ta da, the election.

Yeah, I’ve been hittin’ it pretty hard the past few days, but, honestly, I doubt that will continue. It’s not that I have nothing to say—I always have something to say—but chances are someone else has said it better. If I really have to let loose, I will, but I ain’t gonna post just to post.


Anyway, here are a few  sites which will have coverage worth paying attention to:

All are more or less scholarly; Bernstein is more willing to mix it up than the folks at The Monkey Cage, while the Miller Center folks take a more historical approach. I only intermittently peeked in at Mischiefs of Faction, but they appear to take a scholarly approach to parties.

I hesitate to link to journalistic blogs, but Nate Silver’s polling work at FiveThirtyEight tends to get a lot of respect from the pros, even if they don’t always agree with his analysis.

Finally, there may be other links within these sites that may be worth following; I’ll add as my laziness permits.

I can’t promise this will be my last post on August (I’ve got another analogy involving backed-up sewers I’m itchin’ to use) nor that I won’t lose my mind in the campaign, but this should do, for now.

That was the river, this is the sea

9 08 2012

Where else would I live, except for New York City?

I ask myself this with some regularity—whether to tamp down my restlessness or seek an escape or remind myself there is no escape or a mashup of all of these, I don’t know.

The question popped up again today, in the cauldron otherwise known as the Bleeker Street station. I was thinking of a thread at TNC’s place a week or so ago in which a couple of us rhapsodized over Montreal; another asked But it’s close enough to visit regularly, isn’t it? He had commented late and I didn’t see his reply until even later, and thus never responded.

But what I would have said was: It’s not the same. Montreal is a marvelous place to visit—you should go!—but it’s an even better place to live, so much so that visiting only makes me sad that I am no longer a habitant of that feline city. I could stroll the Main or hike up Mont Royal or point out a chausson au pomme to one of the ladies behind the counter at any patisserie in Mile End, but all that would do would remind me that this is all just a lark, a recess from my life rather than my life.

Besides, Montreal is beastly in August.

No, wouldn’t it be lovely to be in the Gaspé:

Le parc Forillon (M-EveCoulombe, Feb 2010)

The Gaspésie looms over the top of New Brunswick, the St Lawrence spilling out over the top of the peninsula into the Gulf of St Lawrence. It’s by no means the northernmost city in Quebec (that would be Ivujivk, stationed at the northeast entrance to the Hudson Bay), but its furthest region is called “Land’s End.”

My god, who wouldn’t want to escape from the city to Land’s End?

The most famous feature of the Gaspésie is found in the sea off the city of Percé:

Claude Boucher, 2001

You can kayak or paddle out to the massive rock:

Delphine Ménard, 2001

And yes, it really is massive:

archer 10 (Dennis)

Best of all, the average high temperature (according to Wikipedia) in the summer is 68 in June, 73 in July, and 72 in August.

A high of 72. How perfectly lovely!

Of course, to really take in the climate, I’d have to visit in the winter: the average low in January & February hovers around zero, and the snowiest months are December and January, each pulling in an average of 30 inches.

Ahh, trapped in a cabin with a roaring fire during a howling snowstorm at the end of the year at the end of the land: How perfectly lovely!

I suppose I should mention that I haven’t ever visited the Gaspé, so my longing is pure, untroubled. I can dream of Percé or le parc Forillon or the mountains of Chic-Choc and not wonder what I’m missing, only what’s ahead, only what is there.

Fruit of sweating golden inca

8 08 2012

Yes, it’s August. Yes, it’s muggy. Yes, I got my hair cut.

Yes, I hate everything.

HOWEVER: my heart is not in the hate. I’m working this summer (unlike last. . .) and am thus ensconced in an environment in which someone else is paying to (over)cool the air, and, given that I am working, I can afford to put on the a/c if the weather is still filthy when I get home.

It’s no-drama time. Good for me, certainly, but it does take the oomph out of the hate.

17 rules for hosting visitors to New York City in August

23 08 2009

When issuing general invitations for visits to New York City, remember:

1. Enforce the no-visiting-in-August rule.

2. If friends nonetheless visit in August, make sure they are of good cheer, and willing to adjust.

3. Apologize to those August-visiting friends for the lack of air conditioning in humidity-infested apartment.

4. Do not freak out when August-visiting friends buy air conditioner for you while you’re flat on your back with a migraine.

5. After freaking out when August-visiting friends buy air conditioner for you while you’re flat on your back with a migraine, thank them. Continue to thank them.

6. Even though apartment is now comfortable, leave apartment to see the rest of the city.

7. Don’t try to see everything there is to see, but do take them to the places they request.

8. When these friends shop, be glad that they are efficient shoppers, i.e., once they find what they like, they buy it, and move on.

9. Take friends to visit one of your favorite places in the city, one you need to visit more often yourself.

10. Be grateful when friends are not simply polite about your favorite place, but genuinely impressed and glad you showed them.

11. Be glad friends are only minor-ly freaked out and/or really good at suppressing freak-out at sight of rats and roaches.

12. Suppress urge to compare one’s own fucked-up life with their utterly-together lives.

13. Introduce visiting friends to NYC friends. Trust they’ll get along.

14. Try new bars.

15. Try new drinks.

16. Drink the whiskey in front of you.

17. Remember the best part about the friends’ visit is the friends’ visit.

Ten-minute hate

12 08 2009

I hate everything.

I warned a friend who’s visiting next week to remind our other friend that New York is a dump. I then recited my usual list about smells, cockroaches, smells, rats, smells, overheated train platforms, and did I mention smells?

My life sucks, I grouse to the cats, slouching around my apartment and glaring out the window at the sun.

Fuck Bank of America. I pay my goddamned bills—I pay more than the minimum—and now they’re jacking me around?

And what the hell is that man doing beating the hell out of the fire escape? Removing rust, apparently, but not with what one would think would be the sensible tool of a chisel, but with a hammer. A hammer! Bam! Bam! Bam! Bam! Bam!

He goes up the escape, he goes down the escape. Up, down. Up, down. The first time he made it down, I thought, Finally, he’s done. Nope: Up, down. Up, down.

Bam! Bam! Bam! Bam! Bam!

God, I fucking hate everything.

My apartment is a soup, filled with Bam! Bam!, rust chips (from the Bam! Bam!), and air so moist I need gills to breathe.

I have words in my head I can’t get on to paper (or, in this case, the computer screen).

I have words on paper—books I want to read—that I can’t keep in my head.

Girlfriend? Boyfriend? HAH!

I gotta get out of here, I confided to C. Everything sucks. It’s got to be better somewhere else, right? Right?

She sipped her beer and raised her eyebrows.

Yeah, yeah, I know, I sighed. I get unhappy, I want to move. But where am I going to go? Where the hell else can I go?

She sipped her beer and raised her eyebrows and shrugged her shoulders.

She let me rant.

I hate everything, I growled into my beer. Fucking August.

Yeah, fucking August, she repeated.

I perked up. Yeah, yeah! August! August sucks!

Blame August: that’s the ticket!