lunch …

March 20th, 2004 § 0 comments § permalink

he cut himself off a large slab of cheese and picked out of the bag the biggest tomato and as he was making a sandwich thought his choices representented the most pleasant of provisioning practices — provisioning for the present, exactly! — more for the now and less for later.

American Students and Czeck Conscientiousness

March 19th, 2004 § 0 comments § permalink

today, i was talking to a professor about the divergent in-class speaking practices of students in england vs. america. in england they remain intelligently silent. in america students take as a general rule to ask a question or say something per class. is my following remark true:

In American classrooms (and possibly as a microcosm for wider academe) talk is used to dispel misconceptions. To talk in class is to expose yourself. May as well say things with conviction which your evidence allows you to conclude. Ideally this will serve as incentive for the next piece of evidence which contradicts your assertion to emerge. The louder a conviction is broadcast the more likely someone who is in possession of such evidence and whose interests are (or sense of dignity is) sufficiently perturbed will respond. This is a healthy classroom discussion.

It also helps to know that the disbursement of social activity is different in American colleges. Classes have to be more conversational because they are replacing other communication venues, such as: supervisions, tutors, meetings with the director of studies, even the pub. A classroom setting is often seen as a plebeian assembly. Besides classes are 3 to 4 hours a week. Some lecture seminars are three hours long. Or when considered from the perspective of educational economics in large classes you have to talk to ever lock eyes with a professor.


the fact that she is originaly from czekoslovakia, reminded me of an absurdism i used to assert to my friends after czeckoslovakia (in my lifetime) became two countries; you may find it humorous:

the humbled people of the independence movement of the czeck republic and slovakia arrived at the respective names of their counties out of consideration for the many people in the world who have purchased a map which lists them as one country. to minimize universal inconvenience, they drew the border in pen on the bestselling map. this line crossed through the ‘o’ and it was settled, one side “czeck” and the other “slovakia” and a convenient rule of thumb for where the border passes.


March 18th, 2004 § 0 comments § permalink

On the bus ride to Boston from New York, on the travel company called FungWah, I sat next to a 27 year old girl named Cassandra. (Blessed be the Chinatown bus companies and the literally cut throat competition — my brother mentioned some killings were in the news — which reduce fares to 10$ for a relatively pleasant ride. Learn England, learn!) She had moved to New York only a few weeks ago, had secured an apartment, and was proud to point out that several promising interviews were lined up for this week. One in fact that day. But, instead, she was headed on a bus back to Boston to confront the reason why she moved to New York in the first place. Her ex-boyfriend, a North-End restaurant owning Syrian, evidently located her new habitations and stole her car, just the day before. It turns out police work is sometimes quicker than we give it credit — they located her car, without license plates, with chains on the tires and The CLUB ™ on the handle. The Syrian was now in custody, awaiting arraignment the following day. Due to undisclosed reasons, she fled to NY to avoid seeing him; these are reasons which I think I discovered with time. Another, more recent ex, as recent as yesterday, had chosen to extricate himself from her life because of this situation. He happened to be an Albanian. “You like foreigners?” She does, since “their lives are more exciting.” In the interim there was a Russian as well. Her mother is Syrian and her father is German. Evidently he left the family when she was 14. Just got up and left. No one knows where he is. Or at least she is not going to tell me. She misses the way he raised her. There was order in the house. He regulated what she could and could not do. With her mother life lacked structure. “We just did whatever we wanted.” Now she finds that her life is one situation after another, without cease. Life is a scandal. Perhaps she unconsciously likes it that way? Her need to be involved with foreigners and their interesting lives is an indication, no? She does want order back in her life! The Albanian is temperamental but at least he has his shit together. (God only knows why he is off with his friends in Boston playing video games right now.) She tells me that she wants to learn German. Of course, she never will. As I press her we realize this. But, she does like to watch foreign films — Run Lola, Run is one of her favorites. While on the film theme, we chose to review the entire situation from a cinematographer/detective’s perspective, as if it were a movie:

How did he find out where you lived? How good were you at covering your tracks? She had a falling out with a friend, who knew both of them, and she suspects her as the culprit. Ok, position the Camera on their conversation. Catch the lines “She lives in …” and “I’m going to get that Bitch!” Next sequence. He could not have managed to make this car theft trip alone. He had to have a friend. Another hot-blooded, gold chain wearing, hairline receding, techno music listening, fat fingered North End resident. Position camera here (pointing at the bridge on the highway). Land Rover zooms by. Now were inside the car. Syrian is building himself up, and justifying his imminent deed, interlace with “Bitch” and punches at the steering wheel causing slight swerves on the road. No worries, it is now 3am. They are more than slightly tipsy, having committed to the whole enterprise after the club. Scouring the New York streets they find her car. Oh, he had keys? Oh, he co-signed for the car because your credit was not good enough? Oh, the car is a Mercedes? She says she has been meeting the car payments on time, and that he has no good reason to take it the way he did. Good enough, maybe?! Evidently, he has a track record of taking back gifts. When she got a restraining order against him the first time he broke into her apartment in Coolidge Corner (Boston) and reclaimed his Bose stereo system. Ok, now he’s racing back along I-95. Same camera, same bridge. Zoom, a Mercedes. Zoom, a Range Rover. Again, inside the car perspective. The two of them are racking up a large cell phone bill, because he can’t stop talking about the bitch. They pull over for McDonald’s and a few lines of coke. Now the same camera, the same bridge. FugWah bus ambles along. She’s inside of it, alone. Staring out the window, contemplating. Except she’s not alone. We’re talking about this together. We’re plotting. You probably don’t want to press charges. You want to have your life back, start anew, in New York, it sounds promising. Perhaps you can file a restraining order and negotiate a plea bargain to require a year of weekly visits to the psychiatrist for him. He does sound crazy after all. Not violent, right? Well, then perhaps he just needs time to cool off. After all the car was bought only two months ago. He lives on cash and the daily vulnerabilities of the restaurant market. The economy is still struggling. Financial issues bother him. Two days from now you’ll be back in your Mercedes, listening to Gloria Gaynor. The same camera, the same bridge. Just slightly over the speed limit. You are renegotiating your interview times on a hands-free car phone.

She’s still worried about the Cops. I say, they must have felt there was reason enough to arrest him. She’s worried about what he may have said. I give her a nice way of looking at it, (but then I was already beginning to doubt her integrity.) “If everything you say is true, you should be fine. Think about it. If you were married and you had kids. And if you got a divorce and the kids were living with you. He steals them, it is called a kidnapping. No matter that he co-signed for them. Thank you, she says. Thank you for helping me see it this way.

Her phone rings. She becomes another person. Not the kind person that is participating in our conversation. Another remote, bitchier person that says things like: “so is that how it is, huh? …” I wonder if anyone ever speaks to her sincerely and calmly as I was talking to her. I make a further suggestion to start anew in New York. Again a worry about the car, about payment, she spends money too fast she says. I tell her about a summer road trip and our economizing. She is amazed. I show pictures. The laptop is open, I show her Ali G. Ali G has a sequence about the Nobbing on the Beach, a.k.a. The Ali Gangbang. I feel comfortable to suggest for her to explore the diverse scenes in New York. Societies. German speakers. Fetish clubs. Scheduled orgies, might as well. She remains interested when I tell her the organization names which pre-screen people, rent posh hotel rooms, and distribute the password a day in advance, but then wonders aloud: “I wonder how we got on this subject without me even noticing that we got on the subject.” I remind her, but by this time our bus is shaking itself off the highway, emptying out with the Mass Pike onto the Boston streets. Chinatown is in sight. She looks at me and says, “look.” I already know what she means by it. “So I am going to have to say bye to you right now.”

I walk the other way after getting my things. In full gear: backpack, laptop bag, duffle bag. I glance at her standing alone. No, the Albanian did not come.