Am I present? Have I smiled?


Punctuation is the literary glue which holds together basic meaning and intended impact.  We all have very specific opinions on when, how, where, and for which reasons various forms of punctuation are used.  We all know how punctuations are used. 


I’ am’ punc’tu’-a’t-ion’:                 ov’er’ and’ ov’er’

       I’ am’ punc’tu’                    and’ punc’ture’;

I’ am’ a’t-ion’,                    and’ ac’t-ion’

       I’ am’ punc’tur’-ing’ ac’t-ion’.


I am punctuation                              over and over

       I am punctu                         and puncture

I am ation                            and action

       I am puncturing action


Sometimes glue can lose its stickiness.  Sometimes both sides can come undone.  You will understand this if you have ever bonded with a cat or ever felt felt.

Sometimes your tongue sticks to the roof of its mouth over semi-colons and hyphens and commas and you   just     can’t   pull it free.

A wise professor once said he didn’t buy into double-meanings.  In the context of punctuation I don’t know how wise he was.  Intended impact. 

The punctuationless intend dichotomy intend to impact with multiple basic meanings. 

Punctuation lends cadence language lends cadence. 

Punctuation functions within written language in such a way that we can’t separate the two.



In The Geographical History of America Gertrude Stein does some neat things.  Additionally she does some things I do not completely understand.  She has a way of very specifically saying an indirect thing or very indirectly saying a specific thing or saying a thing.  Scene II speaks the chorus and speaks tears.  Sometimes punctuation speaks but does not not punctuation speak.  Stein is Stein because her little dog knows her but her little dog does now know anger or tears or writing but it does know speaking.  If Stein can write can she speak.  If she can speak can she write.  Can Stein’s little dog speak or write.  Of course it can write.  Speak.  If dogs write what do they write about.  Balls and tuning forks and familiarity.  But not chocolate.  Dogs cannot write about that which they have not experienced.  Dogs cannot write about gods.

Are gods prone to fits of rage if dogs are not.  Gods and dogs are two sides of one object.  Any object.  Do gods drink almondmilk.  Dogs will drink almondmilk but not because they prefer it because it is there.  Preference matters.  Dogs do not have a preference.  I do not know if Stein drinks almondmilk because preference or presence or drinks milk.  Almondmilk and milk does not matter.  

Do human minds or human natures require alarmclocks.  Human natures. Are spinning in time wrapped up and choking on numerals.  


My goal for this post was to attempt to write somewhat like Stein.  I’m having difficulty maintaining a direction, so I commend her for being able to feel like she’s clearly getting across a point.  Additionally, I have a semi-compulsive use of punctuation, so abandoning that was difficult; however, I feel it allows for multiple interpretations of the same sentence or string of sentences.  Basically, Stein does some neat things and they’re not really replicable. 

The Other.

In The Transformation, by Juliana Spahr, the concept of ‘the other’ is touched upon.  There is a romantic couple who takes on a third, making them a three.  This act marginalizes them, defines them as ‘the other.’  Eventually, they relocate to a Pacific island, on which they are still ‘the other,’ via colonialism.  Throughout being marginalized and defined, they always stay a “they;” there are never any “he’s” or “she’s” used to refer to any one of them.  They are always “them,” “one of three,” or some variation thereof.  I think there is beauty in that, beauty in not being pulled apart.

In our society, we marginalize, classify, and put down people with terms, with ways of separating them and naming them.  The n-word, the f-word (not to be confused with the f-bomb), and countless other terms.  These are used to assert some type of dominance over a marginalized group.  There are movements in which minorities reclaim various words used to oppress them (think of individuals of color using the n-word or lesbians using the d-word).  Through this reclaiming process, they are attempting to desensitize everyone to the word, while also making it a taboo word to any individuals who might use it with ill intent.

The Transformation operates in the negative space of the previous paragraph.  Rather than finding some type of harmful term which might have been given to them by society and adhering to it, they simply stay a they.  They refer to themselves in such a way that they force everyone to recognize their unitedness, even if they’re viewed as separate from the norms of society.  When they move to the Pacific island, they recognize how they belong to multiple “they’s:” that of the colonizers and that of themselves.

Kearney and Bryant.

I want to focus on something both Kearney and Bryant explore in their works: discrimination.  Discrimination is both subtly and overtly present in our society.  I think Kearney’s piece, which centers around an n-word which is not mine to use, best represents this.  The afore(un)mentioned  word is initially in a significantly larger font, bolded, and generally made to stand out; in contrast to this, the rest of the piece has blanks where that word would go (I would quote it, but I don’t have access to the piece at this moment).  This poem underscores the dichotomous relationship between our knowledge of loaded words and when we’re willing to use them.

Now, the n-word isn’t the only loaded word.  There are also loaded words which describe women, homosexuals, Indians, Muslims, and pretty much any other marginalized group.  I believe the point Kearney is trying to make with this piece is that we all know the words, we all know how they’re used, but we don’t all know that we shouldn’t use them or why we shouldn’t use them.

“I don’t like Jimmy; he’s a _________.”

We can all think of several highly offensive words which would fit into that blank, but I believe Kearney is indicating that it’s our choice to put the word into the blank or not, even if it’s dangled above the blank and present all around the blank.  Additionally, I think he wants to draw attention to the repercussions of using various loaded words.  Think of the feelings, collective or singular, of the individual/s on the receiving end of that loaded word.  Is it used to put them down?  To keep them down?  Has the word been reclaimed?  Does that mean it’s suddenly not offensive to use?

I feel that Kearney thought about this before writing and of his pieces, so we can at least think about it upon reading.

Transgenre: spanning classes.

Initially, I planned on elaborating on my presentation on The Convalescent, written by Jessica Anthony.  However, I began reflecting on the idea of “transgenre” in juxtaposition with the concept of “intertextuality” and realized how implicitly related my classes are.  

This semester, in particular, I feel like my classes focus on breaking down boundaries.  I’m in Transgenre, Linguistics, Gender and Sexuality, and Quantitative Methods in Psych.  On the surface, these classes don’t seem strongly related, but they really are in an extremely interesting way: all of them have some level of emphasis on seeing past our preconceived notion of the subject. 

For instance, take Gender and Sexuality.  That class is geared around teaching individuals about the variances existing in sexuality, sex, and gender.  The class is all about disestablishing boarders and establishing something else.

Transgenre is about writing, reading, and discussing texts which fall outside the standard writing genres.  Transgenre is about taking my knowledge of prose vs. poetry and smashing it on the floor, then sweeping it up with some feminist writings. 

Quantitative Methods in Psych creates a dialogue between the psychologist and the mathematician.  The two have never really spoken before this class, and it’s nice to know they get along.  Frankly, I’ve never really like the mathematician before, but it seems that he can be a really nice guy.

Linguistics observes language as a science.  In order to do this, individuals must discard their biases on the language and learn what various languages have in common. 

All of my classes focus on breaking some type of boarder or finding similarities in things.  It’s really fascinating to experience, especially in the context of mathematics, but in a general sense, also.  I’m curious to see if this theme carries on throughout the rest of my education.

I keep trying to write something relevant to class but this keeps coming to my mind. I think that’s important..

We are always all forced to grow up
We are always all forced to grow up
We are always forced to all grow up
We are all forced to always grow up
We all are always forced to grow up
We all grow up
                         And die.


I was born surrogate
I was born inside-out
Lungs heaving
I was born dying.


Pumpkin carving myself alone every Sunday night
I was born     dying.


I was raised head down on my fifth grade deskRaised hands
          But not when the adults were speaking
They were    very    specific
Wait for a line break
      A respectable time to interject
Try to not raise your hand at all
   Don’t interrupt
         Don’t be seen
   “Ma’am, I’m bleeding.”

On my eighteenth birthday
They told me I had cancer
Said to buck up
                            I am an adult now
                                                       I am my own responsibility.


On my twenty-first birthdayI drank a coma
     Drank myself better.


On my twenty-eighth birthdayI was inducted
I cried peace
     Every night and
Sand-duned my days to hell.


The day I turned fifty
          My oldest son passed away
And shit if that didn’t hurt.

Today, I am five-thousand
Today, I am planting Methuselah
Am tree-branch-cracking her bodyArching myself backwards to the rhythm of  solar rotation
And shattering shards of myself on the kitchen tiles
Hoping the increased surface space will ease the weight of these days.

I am still alive.

More questions than anything else.. whoops!

Before the first numbered page of Theresa Cha’s Dictee, there is what appears to be a rough table of contents containing nine ‘chapters,’ the first of which is listed as “Clio             History.”   In class, we discussed page 173 of Dictee; the page has ten lines—each containing a non-English phrase as well as something corresponding with it.  It begins with “Tai- Chi              First, the universe.”  Before the first chapter begins, 21 pages of writing exist.  They talk of birth and of a god, blessed virgins and holy spirits.  Most importantly, they talk of novena directly before ending with, “And it begins” (21).  This line greatly contributes to my questioning of the organization of this book.

Is the first chapter, History, related to the second line on page 173, “…Yin and Yang?”  The second, Epic Poetry, related to the third on 173, “…Heaven, Earth, and Humans?”  Is there any correspondence between the chapters and the lists on page 173?  If not, then what is the significance of the 173rd page?  Is the book only contained by its outermost cover and nothing else, since it seems to not conform to the schema of ‘chapters.’

Dictee is a book I want to read and ponder again.  It’s a book I want to completely understand, but it’s also a book I don’t think I will ever completely understand, and I like it more because that.

I Was Once Told Writing Never Needs a Disclaimer.

As Americans, we are raised to think everything exists only for us.  Leaves turn red and fall into neat little piles just for our jumping pleasures.  Perfectly ripened fruits line the shelves of our grocery stores year-round. Books, the playthings of the educated, surround us at all times.  And even the Natives move just so our playsets can overlook the manmade lakes in our too-big-to-populate backyards.  It is unique for us to think that something meaningful exists outside of our borders.  It is almost incomprehensible to us that something could exist within America that is not expressly for Americans or subordinate to Americans or diluted by star-spangled glory.  Manifest Destiny is a divine thing.   

                Bilingualism is not commonplace in Americans, with roughly one-in-four Americans fluently speaking a second language.  However, it is expected that all immigrants speak English.  Gloria Anzaldua undermines this system in her book, Borderlands/ La Frontera: The New Mestiza.  In it, she fluidly moves between Spanish and English.  Having some experience with bilingual texts and being able to speak a small amount of Spanish, I immediately loved it.  Still, I can understand the frustration of not knowing what the author is writing.  I can see the questions raised by bilingual texts.

Do I need to translate this?

                In my experience, no.  The words are significant and add to the piece, but consider the concept of intertextuality: we bring everything we have ever experienced with us to any text and take away a new experience every time.  Let the words flow over you, but don’t ponder their meaning.  Your mind will automatically try to come up with definitions to various words or to connect them to English.  Sometimes it will make sense and sometimes it won’t.  Just allow your experience of the text to be unique and allow yourself time to maul over what you’ve read.

Why is this book in two languages/ why aren’t there translations?

                Why didn’t you come to the book knowing both languages?

What am I supposed to do with the Spanish?

                Read it.  Try sounding it out.  Allow it to press against the borders of your mind.  Recognize that it isn’t what you are accustom to.  Recognize that hundreds of millions of individuals speak Spanish and that you are not one of them.  Understand a small amount of what being ‘the other’ entails. 

                If we don’t acknowledge that ‘the other’ exists, then ‘the other’ does not stop existing, we just close ourselves off.  Anzaldua touches upon this concept when she says, “If we can’t see the face of fear in the mirror, then fear must not be there (67).”  It’s not that fear or ‘the other’ isn’t actually there:  we’re just ignoring their existence.  Anzaldua (and many others) wants us to recognize what’s truly surrounding us.


First Weekly Blog Post: Maso- Themed.

As previously stated in class: occasionally, I come across a line or two in a piece of writing which makes me pause and say “damn.”  Additionally, concepts can stop me with the same effect.  Of the assigned readings, “Precious, Disappearing Things” and AVA by Carole Maso, made me stop the most.

“Precious, Disappearing Things” and AVA are both geared towards creativity.  In “Precious, Disappearing Things,” Maso reflects on what inspired AVA and what AVA is.  She says she “tried to create a place to breathe sweet air, a place to dream” (68).  While reading “Precious, Disappearing Things,” I get the feeling that Maso wants to slow down with AVA, wants to have time to think and be.  This feeling is underscored by Maso saying “When my mother was reading stories I would often wander out to the night garden, taking one sentence… out there with me to dream over, stopping… the incessant march of the plot forward to the inevitable climax” (69).  We are infrequently able to isolate any fragment of a story and ponder it as an individual entity.  That would be too anti-climactic, too slow, too insignificant.

AVA can be thought of largely as an amalgamation of significant afterthoughts and impulses, P.S.’s and Post-it Notes.  There is a subliminal, central text present throughout the story which presents itself via reoccurring themes and shifts in language and style.  The first theme I noticed was vegetation: violets, roses, wild sage, night jasmine, genet, and dogs named Lilly.  At the beginning of AVA, olives are briefly mentioned surrounding Ava’s birth.  Right before olives are mentioned for the last time, the narrator switches to the past tense for about 15 lines, switching back to present tense at “Night jasmine.  Already?”  I took this change in tense to signify either the passing of Ava’s mother or the end of Ava’s nonexistence in the world.  Shortly before the tenses switch back, a new theme is introduced: the sea.

The theme of the sea takes place in Ava’s late youth and flourishes into her early adulthood.  I keyed in on two possible reasons for the inclusion of water.  The first reason being that Ava has a deeply seeded love of the ocean.  At one point, the narrator can be quoted saying, “Our destination in those days was always the sea.”  I can see Ava yearning to exist by the ocean, to step in it and let it flow around her.  The second reason being that Ava conceives.  “And he is here in front of me asking, Qu’est-ce que tu bois [What do you drink]? / Blood and seawater have identical levels of potassium, calcium, and magnesium.”  The more I think about this quote, the more I am sure it is relevant to pregnancy, but I am unable to completely wrap my head around it.

In “Precious, Disappearing Things,” Maso talks of not being able to appreciate the little, important things in an ordinary narrative.  She then segues into saying “Come quickly, there are finches at the feeder” (67), which initially just seems like a quirky way reinforcing her point.  However, towards the beginning of AVA, the phrase “come quickly,” is repeatedly used, as well as “Ava Klein, you are a rare bird,” and variations thereof.  Additionally, “Come quickly, there are finches at the feeder,” is said verbatim.  While reading AVA, I immediately started noticing some patterns and keying in on them.  I almost immediately picked up on the vegetation and sea themes, but I didn’t see the finches at the feeder until I read the standalone line “A rare bird.”

Never underestimate the power of wishing one’s self a good morning.