After Violence: Editors’ Note, J Journal, Fall 2012

This morning, self was standing on Platform # 5 in St. Pancras, waiting for the Picadilly Line southbound to Russell Square, when she heard the announcement over the PA system: We invite you to take a minute of silence to remember the victims of last Saturday’s attack on London Bridge.

It just so happens she has the Fall 2012 issue of J Journal here in London, and here’s what she read in the Editors’ Note:

. . .  after muggings in the park or fights on the street, after flood and fire, after 9/11 — why write? Why read? What good comes of either? Aren’t they just flimsy paper shields against what Yeats worries is “passionate intensity,” the eruption of chaos, of hurt and death? No. After violence, after strangeness on the street, after degradation and the jolt of darkness, what do people do? Grab someone and start talking. The writer grabs a pen and arranges events, turns abstractions into images, draws from chaos something to hold, something with meaning. In that way, perhaps writing is itself the first act of justice.

J Journal, A Note From the Editors, Vol. 5, No. 2 (Fall 2012)

Could have been written yesterday.

J Journal is published twice-yearly by the Dept. of English of John Jay College of Criminal Justice, 524 West 59th Street, New York City.

Stay tuned.

Mithridates’s Heart Breaks: RUBICON, p. 182

An old enemy of Rome’s, Mithridates, kept attacking and retreating, attacking and retreating. Pompey, unable to finish him off, struck “across the desert for Petra . . .  but midway, he was halted by dramatic news: Mithridates was dead. The old king had never given up on his defiance, but . . .  when his son turned against him and blockaded him in his chambers, Rome’s arch-enemy had been cornered at last.”

Just to show how wily Mithridates was, he had slowly been building up an immunity to poison by ingesting it in small quantity, for many years. But when his son sided with Pompey, he attempted to poison himself. It didn’t work. He was finally “dispatched by one of the few things to which he had not cultivated an immunity, the sword point of a loyal guard.”

His body is carried back to Pompey by his son.

March 2008

Nine years ago, this month, self was in Tel Aviv.

It is painful to read her blog posts from that time because her sister-in-law, Ying, eventually died there. September 11, 2008.

She got back from Tel Aviv, and self believes it was that same month when she got called in to the Dean’s office at Foothill and he asked her why she flunked two particular men — whose grade she had to change to a C. Even though they did not turn in a single assignment. They actually told the Dean that self threw something at them. And he believed them. Cause self is so YUUUUGE! She’s so fiery!!!

And, only months after, self’s stint as the only Asian American teacher (adjunct) in the English Dept. at Foothill was over. Because she got charged with discriminating against those two men.

Can you imagine the irony? The minority woman being accused of discriminating? Against two men?

Way to go, Dean! Enter slow clap emoji here.

If you can believe that self would do that (throw something) at two men who are obviously bullies, you would have to be nuts!

Nobody, absolutely nobody, believed self when she denied throwing anything. So then began endless years of wondering whether she had forgotten this incident?

And then came to the conclusion that, since she’s never thrown anything at anyone in her entire life, she couldn’t actually have thrown anything.

Case went up the complaint lines, until — after months of terror and stress — self changed the students’ grade.

Sucks to be an adjunct. Self’s just saying.

She wishes she could remember those two students’ names. Because they will forever know that if they bully a female teacher, all they have to do is accuse her of blah-blah-blah. Raise that ugly word. And voila! Done! Teacher’s toast!

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

A Mother’s Grief

A daughter should never die ahead of her mother.

It’s so not right.

This was probably what Debbie Reynolds was thinking as she started making arrangements for her daughter Carrie Fisher’s funeral.

Self is still not okay. Self will probably never be okay.

“After Us, the Deluge”

The Force wasn’t enough today.

RIP, Carrie Fisher.

2016, self is so done.

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Vanishing Point, Capitola-by-the-Sea

Quote of the Day: Dana Stevens, Slate

Early in January, David Bowie died, and then Alan Rickman four days later, and those twin losses now seem like the double toll of a warning bell whose somber echo would resonate through the year. 2016 was a year when the pillars that used to hold up our shared cultural universe wouldn’t stop crumbling around us. Prince? You expect us to somehow continue American pop music without Prince? Oh God, Gene Wilder. Oh no, Leonard Cohen.

— Dana Stevens, Slate movie critic, The Top 10 Movies of 2016

Galway Kinnell: “When the Towers Fell”

Some died while calling home to say they were OK.
Some called the telephone operators and were told to
stay put.
Some died after over an hour spent learning they would die.
Some died so abruptly they may have seen death from inside it.
Some burned, their faces caught fire.
Some were asphyxiated.
Some broke windows and leaned into the sunny day.
Some were pushed out from behind by others in flames.
Some let themselves fall, begging gravity to speed them to
the ground.
Some leapt hand in hand that their fall down the night sky might
happen more lightly.

— excerpt from “When the Towers Fell,” in the Galway Kinnell collection Strong Is Your Hold

Trying To Think of the Good In Life (Pure 3)

Just two days ago, the sun was shining, all felt right with the world.

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Central Park, New York, Friday 10 June 2016

And this was a picture self took in Bletchley Park, outside London, just a week ago:

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Bletchley Park, Where World War II Codebreakers worked to turn the tide.

And another from Bletchley Park. The swans are exceedingly tame and are so used to people that they let children go right up to them and pet them.

DSCN0078

The tamest swan self has ever encountered: Bletchley Park, June 2016

In solidarity with the people of Orlando, Florida.

Stay tuned.


The Gloaming, the Dying

Self absolutely hates the fact that, when she sat at her desk this morning to begin her tasks for the day, the first thing she saw after logging on was this:

DAVID BOWIE, 69, DIES OF CANCER

Oh Ziggy Stardust!

Mourn, mourn, mourn.

In honor of his passing, today Food & Wine posted a recipe of what was apparently Bowie’s favorite dish: Shepherd’s Pie.

Also Reading: The New Yorker, 8 September 2015

Self is reading Patrick Radden Keefe’s New Yorker article “The Avenger,” about the brother of a man killed in Lockerbie.

Lockerbie.

Self read in the Stanford Alumni Magazine, not too long ago, that the father of yet another victim, a lawyer, had died of cancer. The man was tireless in aiding the hunt for his daughter’s killers, even putting up reward money. As self would do too, if she were in his shoes.

Three years ago, self was in Hawthornden Writers Retreat, only 40 minutes by bus from Edinburgh. Every time she took the bus back, she saw the sign for Lockerbie.

Lockerbie, Lockerbie.

The New Yorker article is about Ken Dorstein, a sophomore at Brown whose brother David had been on the plane.

This is what he did:

He traveled to Scotland and spent several weeks in Lockerbie interviewing investigators and walking through the pastures where the plane had gone down. He read the transcript of the Scottish Fatal Accident Inquiry, which exceeded fifteen-thousand pages, and he located the patch of grass where David’s body had landed.

Dorstein tells The New Yorker: “I had found a less painful way to miss my brother, by not missing him at all, just trying to document what happened to his body.”

He also married his brother’s ex-girlfriend. When he told his wife that he wanted to go to Libya to confront the “culprits who were still alive,” he invoked what they call in their marriage “the Lockerbie dispensation.” She could not refuse him.

Dorstein showed the New Yorker reporter a large map of Lockerbie, “with hundreds of colored pushpins indicating where the bodies had fallen.” In death, as in life, there were divisions: first-class passengers clustered in one place, economy passengers in another (But isn’t it interesting that they all ended up in the same place anyway: which is to say, dead)

Shhh, now.

Self has to finish reading the article.

Stay tuned.

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