Saturday, August 27, 2011

Jeffrey Eugenides' new book

I haven't been abreast of all things literary in some time. But I stumbled on a piece of news today that made me a little excited. One of my favorite writers, Jeffrey Eugenides, the author of one of my favorite books, Middlesex, has a new book out coming this October. It's called The Marriage Plot, set in the 1980s about a girl named Madeleine and there's a love triangle in it sandwiched between the "marriage plot" of Madeleine's interest in nineteenth century novels by Jane Austen and George Eliot and her love interest between two men.

Here is an excerpt:

To start with, look at all the books. There were her Edith Wharton novels, arranged not by title but date of publication; there was the complete Modern Library set of Henry James, a gift from her father on her twenty-first birthday; there were the dog-eared paperbacks assigned in her college courses, a lot of Dickens, a smidgen of Trollope, along with good helpings of Austen, George Eliot, and the redoubtable Bronte sisters. There were a whole lot of black-and-white New Directions paperbacks, mostly poetry by people like H.D. or Denise Levertov. There were the Colette novels she read on the sly. There was the first edition of Couples, belonging to her mother, which Madeleine had surreptitiously dipped into back in sixth grade and which she was using now to provide textual support in her English honors thesis on the marriage plot. There was, in short, this mid-sized but still portable library representing pretty much everything Madeleine had read in college, a collection of texts, seemingly chosen at random, whose focus slowly narrowed, like a personality test, a sophisticated one you couldn’t trick by anticipating the implications of its questions and finally got so lost in that your only recourse was to answer the simple truth. And then you waited for the result, hoping for “Artistic,” or “Passionate,” thinking you could live with “Sensitive,” secretly fearing “Narcissistic” and “Domestic,” but finally being presented with an outcome that cut both ways and made you feel different depending on the day, the hour, or the guy you happened to be dating: “Incurably Romantic.”

Friday, August 26, 2011

the poem that didn't make it

I was going to include this in the course packet for the composition course. But I had to cut it. So I'll just post it here for future reference...

Immigrants in Our Own Land


We are born with dreams in our hearts,
looking for better days ahead.
At the gates we are given new papers,
our old clothes are taken
and we are given overalls like mechanics wear.
We are given shots and doctors ask questions.
Then we gather in another room
where counselors orient us to the new land
we will now live in. We take tests.
Some of us were craftsmen in the old world,
good with our hands and proud of our work.
Others were good with their heads.
They used common sense like scholars
use glasses and books to reach the world.
But most of us didn’t finish high school.

The old men who have lived here stare at us,
from deep disturbed eyes, sulking, retreated.
We pass them as they stand around idle,
leaning on shovels and rakes or against walls.
Our expectations are high: in the old world,
they talked about rehabilitation,
about being able to finish school,
and learning an extra good trade.
But right away we are sent to work as dishwashers,
to work in fields for three cents an hour.
The administration says this is temporary
So we go about our business, blacks with blacks,
poor whites with poor whites,
chicanos and indians by themselves.
The administration says this is right,
no mixing of cultures, let them stay apart,
like in the old neighborhoods we came from.

We came here to get away from false promises,
from dictators in our neighborhoods,
who wore blue suits and broke our doors down
when they wanted, arrested us when they felt like,
swinging clubs and shooting guns as they pleased.
But it’s no different here. It’s all concentrated.
The doctors don’t care, our bodies decay,
our minds deteriorate, we learn nothing of value.
Our lives don’t get better, we go down quick.

My cell is crisscrossed with laundry lines,
my T-shirts, boxer shorts, socks and pants are drying.
Just like it used to be in my neighborhood:
from all the tenements laundry hung window to window.
Across the way Joey is sticking his hands
through the bars to hand Felip� a cigarette,
men are hollering back and forth cell to cell,
saying their sinks don’t work,
or somebody downstairs hollers angrily
about a toilet overflowing,
or that the heaters don’t work.

I ask Coyote next door to shoot me over
a little more soap to finish my laundry.
I look down and see new immigrants coming in,
mattresses rolled up and on their shoulders,
new haircuts and brogan boots,
looking around, each with a dream in their heart,
thinking they’ll get a chance to change their lives.

But in the end, some will just sit around
talking about how good the old world was.
Some of the younger ones will become gangsters.
Some will die and others will go on living
without a soul, a future, or a reason to live.
Some will make it out of here with hate in their eyes,
but so very few make it out of here as human
as they came in, they leave wondering what good they are now
as they look at their hands so long away from their tools,
as they look at themselves, so long gone from their families,
so long gone from life itself, so many things have changed.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Patrick Rothfuss Re-read

I can't believe how busy I am! For those complaining why teachers get so much "time off"...well, think again. The sheer mental effort a teacher needs is unbelievable.
Anyway, I've been meaning to read the Patrick Rothfuss Re-read but, unfortunately, I've been very busy with the syllabus-making, the pre-school jitters and life.
What? You say you have no idea who the hell Patrick Rothfuss is?! Are you mad?
He's just one of the greatest fantasy writers ever! Read about wiki's Patrick Rothfuss entry.
Better yet, pick up his books - The Name of the Wind and The Wise Man's Fear. You won't regret it.

But I digress. So, there's a Patrick Rothfuss Re-read for those that have already read the book and are just miserably agonizing over when the next book will come out.
Enjoy this re-read link

Friday, August 19, 2011

First They Came

When the Nazis came for the communists,
I remained silent;
I was not a communist.

When they locked up the social democrats,
I remained silent;
I was not a social democrat.

When they came for the trade unionists,
I did not speak out;
I was not a trade unionist.

When they came for the Jews,
I remained silent;
I wasn't a Jew.

When they came for me,
there was no one left to speak out.

- Martin Niemoller
(German Pastor and Theologian who first supported Hitler's rise to power but quickly spoke against it. The Nazis arrested him and sent him to Dachau for allegedly not being enthusiastic enough about the Nazi propaganda. He was released by the Allies in 1945. These words were taken from one of his speeches in 1946 and later circulated in the free world in many different incarnations. This was the version he liked the most.)

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Anticipation + Venting

Saturday last week was my last day at the Hospital. Next week, I will attend a mandatory orientation for new adjunct faculty. My decision to finally leave the Hospital was precipitated by another petty event - a she-says-she-says-kind-of-thing. Unfortunately, the Hospital is filled with gossip mongers and when you're an unwed pregnant employee, especially if you're a loudmouth pregnant unwed employee who likes telling her dirty little secret all over the place then swearing people to secrecy only to find out that the whole goddamn place knows your dirty laundry, gets around. Although, I had nothing to do with it, key people from her circle of "friends," her cronies that are supposedly my "friends" also from the workplace, informed me of such succulent gossip that she's been dishing out then told her that I knew. Next thing I know, I'm involved in the middle of that fiasco. People calling people up. People hanging up and then comes a middle-aged woman accusing me of being a liar. My life is dramatic enough as it is. I don't need anymore from external sources. So, this event was the last straw. I secretly told everyone (in my head) to suck it. I gave my notice in June. Anyway, I had the teaching gig to look forward to in the Fall. It's no such big loss to stop working at the Hospital. I must say, God was good to me because the subsequent schedule I had after I decided to hand in my notice was amazing as though I planned it so deviously. I didn't have to work at all with that middle-aged lady to the point that she was asking other people if I was avoiding her! The wonders of destiny...

So I forgive them their pettiness anyway. I'm not just saying that. I'm extracting that forgiveness with a heavy-duty drill from my heart. In fact, I should do that to all those who have wronged me in the past. I guess it's my mea culpa too. No one's perfect.

So I'll be teaching my first class in two weeks. According to the roster I have from the College, there's about 20 students signed up already. I've been looking for different varieties of reading material. It's an ESL class and the theme, according to the ESL coordinator I spoke with at the beginning of the week, is "crossing cultures."

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Children of the Streets

I just saw this youtube video a few minutes ago. This kid is obviously very talented. I hope he becomes a professional singer. Life in the Philippines, especially for the poor, is not easy. It's like Slumdog Millionaire without the track music though I do think having been to India that India has got it worse than the Philippines.