Marchons, marchons

16 02 2015


I’d collated all (+/-) of TNC’s posts on the Civil War, then at some point began annotating the list. There were two large chunks (120+ posts total) which remained naked.

Until today.

Since I didn’t have work for my second job—office was closed for President’s Day—I thought I might as well start backfilling those annotations. I didn’t think I’d finish them, but at some point thought, Ah, what the hell.

I’m sure I’ve missed posts I should have included and included posts I should have missed, and some of my annotations are. . . odd, but the mess is now more or less complete as of today.


Another reason for doing this might have a little something to do with another bout of self-pique: yesterday I turned a bunch of my dissertation research into printer paper—did I really need to keep a copy of a DOE ELSI Contractor-Grantee Workshop from 1997?—and proceeded to have a mini-meltdown.

Nothing serious, and nothing I haven’t had experienced before.

It happens whenever I confront all of the work I have done and how little I have done with that work. If the paper of all of that research wasn’t wasted, it seems like the research itself was. Yes, I created a dissertation out of all of it, but beyond that, nothing.


The dissertation matters unto itself, but it’s also supposed to serve as the cliff from which one is to dive ever further into the work. And for me, it didn’t: I peered down from different overlooks (my bioethics fellowships), but ultimately backed away.

Reasons, reasons: I had my reasons, but those reasons were no good.

And so, periodically, I am reminded of what I tossed away when I walked away, and not having any good way to deal with that deliberate waste, I stew.

Today, at least, I did something productive—if not with my own work, at least with someone else’s.


All your bodies are belong to us

16 10 2014


h/t Kaili Joy Gray, Wonkette; shortformblog

The heaviness, oh the heaviness

22 04 2014

Kathy’s death has really thrown me to the ground.

Chris‘s death was a surprise; Tracey‘s wasn’t.

Kathy’s was somewhere in-between: I’d known her cancer had recurred, but somehow didn’t think through what that meant. And because I didn’t think, I didn’t make the effort to contact her, to let her tell me how she was, to tell her how very much she meant to me.

With Chris and Tracey, things felt “even” somehow. Chris and I had been in at most indirect contact for years—with which we were apparently both okay—and C. and I did what we could to be with Tracey as she rounded that last curve.

They died too soon, but the loss is the loss of them, not also of unsaid words and unspent moments.

Not so with Kathy. I feel like I let her down, that there was something I could have given her that I withheld.

I don’t want to blow this out and make it sound as if  ‘but for me, she died alone’: Her family was with her at the end, and I’d bet her many friends and colleagues were with her before then. No, Kathy would not have been alone.

And yet, I would have liked to have given back to her at least some of what she gave to me. She deserved that.

Baby you can drive my car

4 11 2013

Scapegoats are incredibly useful.

Not when they’re people—then scapegoating is horrible—but when they’re an event or a thing, they allow you to compartmentalize and carry away a whole carload of bad feelings.

Emily Chapman scapegoats Taylor Swift, in particular Swifts’s song “Twenty Two.”

The first time I heard Taylor Swift singing about the carefree fun of being 22 after I realized that my mother was really going to die, I punched the radio off. Like, actually hit my radio dial with some force. I regretted this later, since I drive a Civic and it’s not really built for punching.

“Fuck you,” I yelled at her, at the song, at the stupid top-40 radio station that was playing it. For good measure, I repeated it: “Fuck you, fuck you, fuck you.” Then, in the parking lot of the Tex-Mex restaurant nearest to what was still my parents’ house, I broke down and cried.

A pop song is a fine target for one’s anguish: plenty of opportunities to express one’s loathing, and to deal, however indirectly, with whatever drives that hate.

I was mad at the cancer for killing my mom, and I was mad at myself for not being better at helping my family take care of her, and I was mad at Taylor Swift for reminding me of all of that.

But I couldn’t fix any of that. So instead I developed intense fantasies of stealing Taylor Swift’s weird smashed birthday cake, and continued to bruise my hands on my car’s dash.

I created a scapegoat to deal with my far-less-traumatizing memories of New Mexico. I don’t regret my year-long sojourn in Albuquerque, but it was a terrible decision to move there, and I dealt with all kinds of (relatively minor) shit while living there.

I also had a lot of fun and met some great people, so how to keep the shit from stinking up the good memories? I put them in a car—a Volkswagon, to be exact.

I’d bought a 1973 Volkswagon while I lived there—3 or 4 gears, I can’t remember—and sold it before moving back to Minneapolis. I was a jumble during this entire period, and didn’t know how to deal with that jumbledness.

The solution? Pack all of my negative New Mexico experiences into that Volkswagon, and get my hate on for that brand.

And it worked, beautifully. I could hate VWs to my heart’s content: I no longer owned a car and was in no position to buy one, and the car I did regularly drive, one borrowed from my friend J., was a Nissan.

“I hate Volkswagons/Volkswagons suck/blah blah/mumble/snore.” It kept me from letting any anxiety over that terrible decision bleed into, well, into the regular anxiety I had in returning to grad school. It was a useful distraction.

And then, after awhile (okay, some years), the hate faded, and VWs became just another car. The scapegoat served its purpose.

It allowed me to offload some dread, and kept that dread away from me long enough for it to shrink into a kind of bemused rue.

So it was stupid to move to Albuquerque. Ah, well. It was worth it.

Je regrette rien

11 06 2012

I do not regret quitting the part-time admin position.

You know, the one that stressed me, that C. urged me to leave, the one for which it was a terrible time to leave, the one for which I gave a month’s notice of my leaving, the one, finally, I left?

That one.

I was still feeling a little bad as the job petered out by the end of May, and didn’t much think of it the beginning of June (starting summer research position, starting teaching), but this past weekend, I thought, Aaaaaahhhhhhhhhhh.

It was just. . . nice not to have to worry about the job, to feel that space in my head and my chest and just be able to breathe.

It’s not that there’s no stress in my current two jobs (well, okay, the research position is damn well near stress-free: the only tough part of that job is hauling my ass outta bed at 7:20 am, or whenever Soterios Johnson chimes in with the local headlines and weather), but it’s just regular.

No drama, no nooses, no vice grips: just the ordinary mix of crap and boredom and inquiry and provocation and restlessness and swearing and laughs.

Given my initial trepidation over leaving what could have been a long-term job, I’da thought I might just rethink my ducking out after having ducked out. Nope.

I may finally be learning to own up to my regrets—but this ain’t one of ’em.

But oh, well, I chose my way

10 06 2012

I try to regret nothing, I used to say. What’s the point of regrets, what’s done is done, you do what you can. . . .

Stop laughing.

I know, coming from me, the whole no-regrets things sounds laughable, but I really meant it. I might take hot pincers to my memories, but hey, that’s not the same as regret, is it? No, I was far more interested in tormenting myself over my bad choices than in wringing my hands over good choices foregone.

I’ve eased up on the self-torment somewhat (that habit is too longstanding to give up entirely: it’s my emergency pack of smokes, if you will), but—or perhaps, and as a result—I’ve noticed regret has crept into my repertoire.

This is not an entirely bad thing.

One of my go-to concepts of the past few years has been “consequences”, as in, there are consequences for every (in)action, consequences which can only be dealt with, not wished away. But I haven’t always dealt, truly, with these consequences, at least not in terms of tracing back the actions and coming to terms with the original decision.

No, that’s what the torment was for. And that was why the torment was so exquisitely irresistible.

Exquisite, because it so perfectly allowed me not to interrogate the decision, and irresistible because it allowed me to ‘take responsibility’—a.k.a. punishment—for my mis-deeds. A beautiful distraction.

I’m old enough now, I think, to take these regrets, to understand that to have done this instead of that—to have gone to Northwestern instead of UW-Madison, to have majored in theatre or journalism instead of political science, to have not backed away from D., to have told G. how I felt before it was too late, to have gone to New York instead of Albuquerque, . . . —-would not necessarily have led me to a better life, merely a different one, one with its own set of what-ifs and why-didn’t-Is.

I’m old enough, finally, to know there’s no escaping these questions, that the regret will come, regardless.

And now that I’m old enough to know to let the regret come, perhaps I can be wise enough to let it go. Perhaps one way to wisdom is through that reckoning with what was done and not done, and living with it all.