Saturday XVIII • 7 July 2007

Visitations from my past, lately. From C, with whom I re-walked the sweaty bloody steps of the Vietnam War, and who later would cook me Sechuan on Fridays before I’d go to wait tables…, who has somehow been reborn as a lover of the downtrodden (sorry man: it shows), and who now is telling me what it’s like to be a professor of history. Also, from A, who wants me to understand and help quell the ragged old part of our history she’s reliving.

And: I’ve been thinking about my old highschool boyfriend T, driving with my lights on like he does as a superstitious tribute to his L-4. His was crushed in a smalltown icy-road auto accident when he was a kid, and after he re-learned to stand up he reclaimed locomotion with a vengeance. Street-racer, yes; but also one of the best and longest-suffering skaters who lives: even at 30 (last week) with a couple of advanced degrees and a dayjob wearing scrubs. I’m driving with my lights on—taking up his L-4 protection ritual—because it turns out my own L-4 has been a prime culprit of the past three months of back drama. Superstitious owl.

With said vertebra docked back in her bay, I too am re-learning to stand up… from a backbend. First time as history, second time as farce—for Louis Bonaparte, the Bush Dynasty, and me.

But bumping up into old loves and new-old experiences is more than comedy. This re-learning, and the re-calling, fills me with grateful excitement for the specifity of our lives. (Even when it’s Sisyphean—even then.) And I think this is a bit of why I write, to telegraph across these distances… between this present reality and all our alternate possible selves.

Annnnnyway…. I’m not much for reading this Saturday, given the persistence of the dissertation data crisis—about which my main adviser was the usual rocksolid champion when I finally broke it to her in email-chat at six this morning. Yes ma’am: I’ll pilot this one through, but thank you for having my back.

But a few links.

? Start here for a nostalgia trip. PF doesn’t sing so good live, but I like the way he opens this rendition of Summertime Rolls and I like him without his shirt on.

? A whole chapter of Coetzee’s 2008 novel, Diary of a Bad Year, is excerpted in the new NYRB. Haven’t read it yet, but even at his most obnoxious he’s a writer who very much gets to me.

? Haruki Murakami writes a wonderful thing about how, for him, jazz precedes prose. “There aren’t any new words. Our job is to give new meanings and special overtones to absolutely ordinary words.”

? O god, so I heard a rumor that the Dalai Lama and Little George were born on the same day. Think of it.

? Talk about nostalgia for my early years. I loved this short NYT video on rodeo boys. Wherein we learn that “It’s not a sport unless somebody can die in it.” There you go, doubters: astanga yoga is not a sport. And yet…