Computed too hard so I can’t sleep. Writing this on my phone in bed. Near-wife just spasmed in sleep. Easy to read verse and half consciously cop its style. Been happening with Shakespeare only as a joke. Picked up FOLDING RULER STAR on Jawbone’s recommendation. He said it made him laugh. I’d been reading about PHP. I set up PHP on my laptop, which is running OSX 10.5.8. I had to use Terminal. Felt cool. Then gratified and charmed by an appearance of Telnet in FOLDING RULER STAR. I wondered what exactly made Jawbone laugh. My best guess: “I am always / happy because I / eat at Schneider’s Grill.”
Thinking of teaching myself some contemporary web skills and moving this site over to weirder pastures. Neff dot edu dot com. Felt butter dot org. Interactive PHP sex poem. Interactive blowsy theme, free paywall. A fortress of fake paywalls enclosing a small anti-racist message. Authoritative recipes. Vegan opera dog training tips. SEO OPTIMIZED$$$$$$ATIONSS$$$$x
Today in Shakespeare there was a girl wearing a leather jacket — the classic kind. It seemed promising to me, somehow. Black leather jackets used to be signifiers of rebellion. Then they became cliches. But now they’re so cliched, so obviously not rebellious, that it takes a certain courage and recklessness to wear one outside of a community theater. After class she was good-naturedly complaining to the professor about something — she might have said her copy of Othello was stolen from her car. I imagined Camel hard packs and and empty jewel cases on the floor of her car. I imagined that she never hangs the jacket up — at best, it gets draped across a couch, but usually gets piled atop of the rest of her clothes, books, trash, thumb drives, etc strewn across her floor. I think the leather jacket speaks to me because everyone else in the class is wearing college sweatshirts, or otherwise intensely normal clothes. Is it heinous to say that everyone in my Shakespeare class seems intensely normal? Is a leather jacket just the intensely normal uniform of the outsider? I’m sure many of these men and women have moments, if not decades, of experience that would make hair curl if I were in their shoes. The way they dress doesn’t matter.
I’ve noticed people in Missouri say “You’re good” in the context of, like, “Oh, excuse me — I didn’t mean to bump–” “You’re good.” Is there a tendency toward affable reassurance here?
Yesterday was the study session for tonight’s CS midterm. The class was optional. Seated behind me were two dudes. One guy said he had trouble studying for this “piddly freshman class” — he’s a senior chemical engineering major, was taking this class for a requirement. The rest of his classes were capstones, clay engineering (?), “really tough stuff” — he just couldn’t see himself studying for this piddly freshman test. I never got a look at either of them. Then he speculated (all this was sotto voce, basically whispered into my ear) about the professor’s breasts. How for a smaller, older woman they were pretty big and nice. He wondered if they were fake. His friend: “Dude, do you really think a mousy computer science professor who wears baggy tech-logo polo shirts tucked into Dockers is going to have fake breasts?”
These guys spoke — mostly the first dude — through the entire duration of the study session. (Idea for new grammatical person: the first dude, e.g. “speaking in the first dude”; “this story is narrated in the First Dude.” This just means the text sounds like it is spoken by this guy sitting behind me in CS yesterday.) I wanted to turn around to glare or say something but, you know, he sounded angry and athletic.
Today I was checking out a book at the library’s temporary circulation desk — the normal desk is currently hidden behind opaque plastic construction sheeting until the damages from the guy who broke in, shit on a table, and lit the library on fire are repaired — and as I was waiting for the student clerk to retrieve my books, I saw a guy, late twenties/early thirties, rectangular glasses, holding A Supposedly Fun Thing I’ll Never Do Again. I thought about ways I could uncreepily speak to this man. Nothing came. Later, there was a dude sitting outside Shakespeare’s Pizza — how on earth do writers speculate about the ethnicities of strangers without sounding like unconscionable fuckheads? — drinking a beer, eating a slice, and reading Turgenev. It sounds pathetic, but I wanted to give him my card, or something. “Hey, Turgenev, a beer, 12:30 on a Tuesday. Amazing, bro. Call me sometime.” I don’t have a card. I need more friends.
This morning I unearthed my Andrew Jeffrey Wright Mr. ET T-shirt, which is a drawing of ET, drinking a beer and wearing Mr. T’s mohawk, beard, and chains:
I was wary to wear it, leery of being perceived as the slightly eccentric, trying-to-seem-cool 10-years-older guy, the equivalent of wearing a shirt for a band that was cool when I was first in college and is still cool now, which all adds up to something annoying and uncool.
(What band would that be, anyway? Unrest?)
(Why do I persist in pretending that I ever listened to Unrest?)
(Would it be Pere Ubu?)
(Isn’t the fact that I want to do a show on the college radio station here the ultimate expression of this still-cool-and-thus-intensely-uncool impulse?)
(Stop saying cool! This whole thing — the entire enterprise of going Back to School (1986)– must be an exercise in cauterizing my ego, or all is lost.)
And so I wore it. I went to class and made sure to speak twice—mindful of my participation grade—in the discussion of Hamlet. Then I went to the library and looked (for an assignment) at the Early English Books Online database, which is awesome and full of things like this:
After class I was walking across “Speaker’s Circle” where an evangelist — though not Brother Jed — was haranguing a group of mirthful, occasionally goading students. There were certainly more sympathetic ears for the preacher than there were for the evangelists who would drive to the Oberlin campus to condemn the students to eternal suffering. “My church has a webcast!” one young woman shouted cheerfully this afternoon. I smiled and continued walking, when my way was blocked by a little dude, probably 19, wearing a beanie in the heat.
“I like your ET T-shirt,” he said. “You seem cool. Are you a student here?” I was momentarily thrown off by the second part of his greeting, so I focused on the first part.
“Notice that it’s not just ET,” I instructed him. “It’s Mr. ET — Mr. T is in there, too.”
“Mystery-T?” he said.
“You’ve heard of Mr. T, haven’t you?” I asked him, suddenly full of concern. He shook his head. “Have you ever seen The A-Team?” He looked very slightly frightened. “You know Mr. T. He’s a muscular black man, with a mowhawk and gold necklaces and earrings?” The kid nodded tentatively, then seemed more sure. I suddenly noticed he was holding a large rolling suitcase. He said again,
“You seem like a cool guy.” Then he put a Bhagavad-Gita into my hands. Because I have severe tunnel vision, I didn’t even see that the whole time we were talking about Mr. T, he was trying to get me to receive his Hindu scriptures! He finally placed the books directly into my hands.
“My dad loves The Legend of Bagger Vance,” I told him, trying to ignore the fact that he was trying to spread his Krishna consciousness onto me. “Do you know that book? Or the film?” I asked him. His face darkened again.
“Is that a Hindu film?” he asked. I told him it was a golf movie with Will Smith, but that it was based on the Bhagavad-Gita.
I handed the books back to him and walked to my Shakespeare professor’s office hours. Then I stopped by my fiancée’s office in the same building, where she was preparing her notes on her afternoon class’s discussion of Judith Butler. Then I ate a quarter of a jar of peanut butter.
Is it irresponsible to request books from the library if they’re not checked out and they’re already in the branch where you’ll be picking them up? I got used to this in San Francisco: I’d read about a book online, want to check it out, request it from the library, then forget about it until I got the email notification that it was ready to be picked up at my branch. But now the books I want are already there, usually, not checked out and at the main branch of the University library. But I’m here in stocking feet, 2.5 m away from the closed library, on my second Single-Wide, and I’ll never remember to go pick up these books unless I request them. I guess I could retrain myself and use the library website’s “wish list” function, but I’m disinclined. Any thoughts on this, especially from folks who’ve worked in libraries, would be appreciated. Is this like asking the waiter for hot sauce when there’s a bottle on an empty table within arm’s reach? Or, like, asking the bike mechanic to wash your helmet?