Coming Projects

I have decided to take this blog in a particular direction, instead of continuing with the meandering brain dumps of the past. I have a full-time job now and, for the first time in my life, I’m faced with the reality of having to choose my passions, given the limited free time I have. It has been simultaneously simple and excruciating to do this, but I’ve made my choice; damn the torpedoes and all that jazz.

I choose, of course, literature. I wish to turn this blog into the intertubal hub for my literary studies. I will realize this in a few principle ways.

Novels

I read a lot. And I read fast, to a fault. I fly through books and I’m a good enough reader to get enough out of them to have a conversation about major themes and characterization, but I feel I miss quite a bit by not taking a breath or two in-between chapters. So that’s just what I plan to do. One of my strengths, in my … rarely humble opinion, is an ability to catalog a great number of details, even if I’m not sure how to string them together properly. So one of my methods will be close readings of books that I will share with you, thereby forcing myself to slow down, if only to explain where a particular author has taken me. And sometimes that’s all it takes, talking about where I’ve been taken. But mostly it just takes time. I recently finished Infinite Jest (to use a recent example), and my appreciation of that book only deepens with time. It took 24 hours before I really felt the end of that novel, in all its significance. It hit me in the kitchen, and it stopped me in my tracks, and I had to sit down and say, “Holy shit.” I then blabbered at poor Christina through dinner, breathlessly, in what amounted to an extended and quite a bit more Latinate version of “Holy shit.”

I want to have more of those moments; I want to feel the books I read. And I want to share them with you, if you’ll join me. That will mean different things for different books. I just finished a book called The Brother’s War, a novel set in the multiverse of Magic: the Gathering, trashy mind-candy at best. I’ll write a simple review of that one, but there’s no reason to dwell on it for any extended period of time. Others, such as Lit, a memoir by Mary Karr I just started, have precious gems waiting to be mined, and I plan to take the time to dig them out.

Heroism

It is to my great shame that I started a thread on this blog about heroism over a year ago, and since then have only written one post about it and that being a quasi-review of the movie Black Swan. Heroes remain a keen fascination of mine and I reaffirm my commitment to their study.

I will do this by going to their source: the literature that gave rise to them. I will conduct close readings of these classic works in order to dive into the topic of heroism. What gave rise to these heroes? What do their actions and beliefs teach us about the world? What exactly makes them heroic anyway?

Works that are on my immediate To Do list include (in order of preference): Le Morte d’Arthur (by Sir Thomas Malory), the Iliad, and the Odyssey (both attributed, of course, to Homer). My approach will be similar to my close readings of any book, but I will take a particular focus on the characters of the respective sagas, trying to dig out their heroic attributes and also those attributes that fall short of heroic ideals. I plan to start with those three tomes, and then we’ll see where we go from there.

Writing

I am, believe it or not, a writer myself, though I’ve yet to have published anything of consequence. I want to change that. I have not decided the extent to which I will showcase my own writing on this blog, but I plan to at least share my many thoughts on the craft of writing, my methods and others, and what goes in to making a book a work of literature as opposed to pretentious drivel. I have varied and passionate opinions about these topics, and remain ever open for a spirited discussion about them.

Miscellanea

And who knows what I might come up with in the future. A sneak preview of an extended project I plan for myself is a year with selected works by William Shakespeare. One play a month for 12 months. In addition to reading the works, I’ll watch different adaptations of them, and maybe get a little cultured along the way. Well … maybe.

But literature is my passion, and it’s study is my aim. I can only hope to learn a thing or two while I’m at it. I heartily invite you to join me, because I have no doubt that we can help each other along the way. And, at this point, I’ll accept any help that I can get.

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One Year After

It has been a year (a year and a week-ish, actually) since I stepped back onto American soil from spending two years in China. A lot has changed in that year … and at the same time nothing really.

I finally found a job. Not only a job, but something that I think could be a career. It is a fabulous feeling. It was not a simple task. It took me four months to find part-time work, on the night shift at Target. I was at that job for four months and it wore me down. My body never got used to living at night. It strained my relationship with Christina, living together only in the twilight hours, together but our lives out of phase. I also couldn’t support myself.

It was Christina’s doing. She’d found a job at Groupon, and they were still hiring everyone they could find. Well, almost everyone. I had applied with them to be a writer, and I’d received a form email thanking me for my time. But they told their employees that they were still taking recommendations, so she recommended me for the Fact Checker position.

Did I earn it? I don’t even know how to begin answering that. They didn’t even call me back when I applied to be a writer, but they granted me an interview on the strength of Christina’s recommendation. Perhaps it’s because of the holiday, but I try to think about earning my keep, bootstrapping, etc. and I have to just shake my head.

It got real grim for a couple months. I approached a level of desperate I had not been ready for. But then Christina found a job and she recommended me to one and they gave me an interview and then they gave me a job. It came down to who I knew. And not because I didn’t try on my own.

One year after we returned and things have finally come together. Christina and I have jobs, we have an apartment, and we’re building our lives together. The state of our union is strong. The only boxes we have left to unpack are our books. Lots and lots of books. There’s plenty of time for that.

This year has been really rough, but I made it through. I think I changed a little, but also not really at all. It’s hard to say I guess. But. I have plans now for this blog. Plans that mean actually posting. I have a direction I want to take it, and I’m excited to start. I’ll explain more in another post. For now, it’s the Fourth of July, and I want to celebrate my independence.

Yes! Yes! Yes! Yes!

Behold! We have … the INTERNET!

Yes! The internet has returned to my life, officially. No more Starbucks; no more frantic lists of things to google with a two or three hour time limit hanging over my head!

And it is … wonderful. Really wonderful. My friend, Nic, asked me in a recent email if I derived some sort of Thoreau-like peace of mind form it. My answer:

No.

Perhaps if I lived in Thoreau’s time and didn’t need to find a job…. No. It was awful. Especially when trying to find a job. So much of job hunting is on the internet now. And I already suck at keeping up with emails, but without easy access to the internet, I felt like I was always rushed; there was always something I was forgetting, always more to keep track of.

But no more. Ahhh, I’m basking in it. Watch me bask: *basking*

And, finally, I give you S.H.E’s cover of I.O.I.O, by the Bee Gees, as an illustration of elation:

Survived Another Year

T’is my birthday this day. Or, rather, was two days ago but I–*head explodes*

I’ve decided on a new strategy for updating this blogo, given my lack of immediate internet. I’ve started writing posts offline with the understanding that I will past-date them to the time I wrote the post as opposed to the time I posted it. Thus, it is, right now as I type this, November 3rd, my birthday.

I turned twenty-eight this year, which makes me older than Jimi Hendrix, Kurt Cobain, and Janis Joplin ever were … I have clearly wasted my life.

But my super-awesome girlfriend, Christina, got me two gifts that saved me from spiraling into existential angst on this, the day of my birth. They are: Although Of Course You End Up Becoming Yourself: A Road Trip With David Foster Wallace and a V-Cube 6.

I love David Foster Wallace. Love, love, love him. Alas, I only discovered him a couple months after his death. I have since greedily sought out every word he ever wrote, every interview he ever did, gobbling every delicious morsel he gave concerning himself, ourselves, our world. This book (I’m about halfway through) is, marvelously, not about his death; it’s about his life. It gives us DFW as the living man he was. It’s the closest thing to a conversation I’ll ever have with him. And, for that, it is priceless.

And when I’m not occupied with that, I can frown at my V-Cube 6. Not to toot my proverbial horn, but I can solve any Rubik’s Cube in under three minutes. Which is pretty good. I mean, it’s not small-Asian-kid good, but it’s nothing to thumb your nose at.

This V-Cube, though … Oh my god. It thrills me just to look at it. It just blasts away everything I know about my piddly Rubik’s Cube, makes the 3x3x3 version seem so … puny in comparison. Ah, it’s wonderful. And I’ve already spent way more time tinkering with it than is perhaps good for my measly, not-Asian-kid, mortal brain. But it’s like candy; I can’t stop!

Bask in the awesomeness:

I Am Become … Vampyre!

That’s pronounced “vampyre.” It’s more sophisticated, you see.

Well, I got a job. Which is nice. It’s a temporary/seasonal position, which is not. But at least it’s a job. I’m on the overnight team at Target. It’s hard work, but it’s nice to be able to do something, anything. And it’s actually pretty satisfying to look at the store when my shift starts and the shelves are empty and products are scattered where they shouldn’t be, and then, when I leave, the store looks ready to go. And I can look at that and say, “I did that.”

All in all, I’m feeling pretty good about that Master’s in Writing….

No, I really do enjoy it. Of course, it necessitated a radical shift in my sleeping schedule, even for a night owl like myself. It was more difficult than I thought it was, but I seem to be getting into the swing of it. When I get to sleep on time. It is weird to see the sun come up and think, <em>I need to go to sleep now</em>.

Anywho, I’m surprisingly happy with it. It’s nice to have a task and work. They even let us listen to our own music, which would be <em>awesome</em> except … I can’t find my damn iPod.

Oh well. Gotta go to work. Today we put up the Christmas stuff….

Happy Halloween!