31 January 2008

Sad Times, Good times

Well, today I got my Fulbright email telling me that my application had not--and I repeat, not--been forwarded to the Spanish Commission for consideration. At first by brain spewed all the data proving how absurd this was (e.g. I'm trilingual, I have a Masters Degree, I have 5 years of teaching and tutoring experience, I'm well-traveled, I've never visited Spain before, I wrote 2 very polished, honest and persuasive essays that even Dean Akai appreciated, I had a 3.96 GPA at Notre Dame, I have a solid, ambitious and workable secondary project), but then I realized it was just like applying to the JET program last year--I'm probably too old for them, maybe my GPA at Oberlin wasn't high enough, and realistically, I may seem overqualified to be a classroom robot. But maybe I'm flattering myself.

But ultimately it doesn't matter. I don't feel bad about this rejection at all even though I put so much time into my application for the simple reason that now Erika and I know where we're gonna live, now we can move to the city we've dreamed about living in: BARCELONA! And instead of finding out in May that I had to move to Galicia, or even worse, nowhere at all, now we can plan our new life in España tomorrow. And I'm delighted about this. So, fuck you Fulbright! Thank you Fulbright!

Another thing which I'm stoked about is that I have the perfect diversion to keep me busy between now and 6 Feb when I give my reading at Notre Dame in front of a decent-sized crowd of people from my novel BLANK and my new collection of stories called 2. I've already submitted my resumé to my first job and this week I'm planning on revising and then translating my CV into español, after which I'm gonna bomb companies with my CV and see if I can score a job antes de llegar, which would be so rad.

So Barcelona it is. ¡Vamos!

14 January 2008

Life on Armitage + Sheffield

Ever since i was a vain teenager, i have been in love with, and alternatively repulsed by, this part of lincoln park. equal parts urbane à la new york, with the brown line el rumbling in the background, refurbished banks and doggie boutiques and equal parts hopelessly midwestern with zitty college girls in victoria's secret sweatpants and uggs, and waves of men in khakis and polo shirts, armitage avenue and sheffield is the perfect intersection of my past conceits, my adolescent mythology and fascination, my adult dread and comfort of this place that inhabits not just a part of but also a geography inside my past.

Maybe it was stopping my g-star and kiel's first, maybe it's the slow recognition that erika and i slowly preparing for our move to europe, which scares the shit out of me and excites me. but there's something about being here right now, at the crossroads of my first years in chicago and my adult exile into another continent, my speculation of these streets and my tangible evolution into an emerging artist, there's something about the simplicity of being here right now that grounds me, both the stories that i keep revising about my life and about the space i live in, but also the uninhabited world i want to explore so badly and the places that never really existed except inside my mind.

12 January 2008

Class Reunion with Two Amazing Women

I got a myspace message from jess on sunday night with "LA" as the subject. why the hell is she writing me about LA? i only loved that city for 2 weeks, when amy johnsgaard showed me the sights from an insider's perspective, that was the only time i ever had any love for that city, so i was kinda confused. But as it turned out, lala was in town. a bit of background:

Lala and i dated for a while when i lived in la maison de la francophonie, oberlin's french house. needless to say, though the passion was strong and the fire between us unforgettable, we fought all the time, especially when i was studying for latin tests, which was never. in moments of solace we listened to the brahms piano quartets--the g minor rocks man--and made out in talcott. i haven't seen lala in 10 years, since i graduated in 1998 when she popped out of the clouds and said hey jackson.

Jess and i also dated, a few years after lala and i did. again, another short, brilliant star burning so quickly. she broke up with me when i brought her orange juice. but there was more to it than that. but still. . . anyway, since i moved back to chicago, i've hung out with her a few times and i've absolutely loved it. her husband is this tall tibetan buddhist white guy with a shaved head who's sharp, funny and smart. and they're great together.

Eventually lala and jess became close friends, along with anca, another girl i dated--and i SWEAR i'm not making this up--who was this fabulous romanian gipsy of a woman who played the violin, talked like betty boop and smoked cigarettes like a drunk russian gambler. i later called their group of friends jackson's ex-girlfriend club, cuz they were always showing up in strange places when i was on a date with another girl, like at campus diner, the co-op bookstore, in front of wilder, at lunch at dascomb. . . But i digress as always. the point is, i lost contact with jess and lala for a while, and i was really bummed out about that, but after almost 10-11 years, jess and i reconnected and went on some double dates, and suddenly, lala is in chicago for one night.

We meet up at lula's cafe in logos and as we ate tangine and peanut noodles and drank soft red wine (including a bordeaux we didn't order, but hey, je m'en fiche, ça m'est égal really) we talked about our whole lives for hours and hours, reminiscing about our time at oberlin, how we met, when we first started dating, why we broke up, the places we've traveled to, the people we've met and loved and gotten crushed by along the way, the half-life of memories, we distilled old experiences and tasted them again, many for the first time in 12 years, and it was incredible seeing them, comparing our lives:

1. Jess teaching in honduras, traveling to india, becoming a buddhist, earning a JD and a MA from indiana university, falling in love with josh, moving from boston to chicago, doing pro bono work
2. Lala, getting her MA at berkeley, entering the foreign service, living in nepal, tibet and now colombia for USAID
3. Me, teaching english in burkina faso for the peace corps, traveling to azerbaijan, turkey, italy, arriving in france on the day of the iraq occupation, teaching literacy to hispanic and black kids for americorps, getting my MFA at notre dame in creative writing, my imminent move to spain

I really want to say this about them: I was so happy and proud to see two of my dear friends and see what strong, intelligent, compassionate, intriguing, complex, dynamic, evolved, kind and ever so beautiful and strong women they have become. it was not only a celebration of intersection, the decay of memory, the resurrection of historical narrative, and the mysterious joy and movement of friendship, but also a celebration of each other. i felt so much pride and love for both of them, for the journey they have taken, and the worlds they have lived in.

Here we are for one perfect night, sharing our lives together, braiding them together together in conversation

04 January 2008

Surf v. Snow 2

Socal was brilliant. . . until it got all dark back in chicago.

Here is the rest of my phototeca for Solana Beach, San Diego, Encinitas and brighter-than-sunshine socal. ¡buen provecho!

A little tofu scrabble at KI's in cardiff-by-the-sea

Walking on the beach again

The foam creeps up on you

If h20 had a profile

If poets stopped writing, they could find all their lost words here

Is there such a thing as the present continuous subjunctive?

Lips warmer than air

Making love in the sand

My beautiful mom on new year's day

*We interrupt this beautiful linear photographic narrative for give you a flashback back to Chicago (2 weeks weeks ago) + then we'll return for 4 more days from this beach scene*

Little bug standing in front of marshall field's

Little did she know that i was JUST about to buy her a new chin

At the Daley Plaza

Yo look, it's jackson!

Ice-skating at millenium park, about to fall on our asses

Brian, Katie, j2b & Suzie

Inside the water tower: shopping for x-mas presents

I luv the way ana's head looks like it's coming OUT of the tree

god i luv that pooch

*Now, back to our regularly scheduled program of the socal narrative*

Ah yes, so glad to be back in sunny California

In my mind: surfers waiting for the next stanza

You are like liquid glass
You are like a broken mirrors melting in the sun
You are like apples bobbing in a halloween tub
You are like words floating up to the surface of sound

A little artwork at a solana beach, uh, beach

Picture from a swing 1

Picture from a swing 2

Picture from a swing 3

Portrait of sunflowers at horton plaza

Split worlds

When color is a mall

Little bug and i, waiting for the coaster. oh wait, it's already here.