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Brown Study

All of the empty shoe boxes full of old papers have been stored away in the closet, the piles of receipts and paper scraps have been sorted through and either saved or shredded, my CDs have been shelved in alphabetical order, the dust has been swept, the moldy coffee cups carted to the kitchen. The books, notebooks and manila folders I need are stacked neatly on the table in the middle of the room, ready for me to begin. To study. To write. To read. Oh, but the sun is out and there are so many distracting things out in the world. And this stuff, when you get right down to it, doesn’t really engage me. I mean at the cellular level.

So, what does? Well, that is hard to say. I derive the most joy from life from brief unexpected encounters, glimpses through open doors down long hallways, strange coincidences, and becoming tangled up in things that, in the end, are much larger and more important than myself. I am finding that it is difficult for most things to sustain my attention. I drift off into my own imaginary world, seeing weird scenarios play out in my head.

I want a job where I can express those little scenarios, not sit around a table think of ways to enable other people to express their own scenarios. There is a big difference there. So, do I really really want to get a PhD? Meaning, do I have the energy and motivation to stick around here for an extra 2 years? I dunno. A Masters may serve me just as well for what I want to do. The only advantage I see to getting a PhD is being able to teach at a University. I forget, though, that the reason I returned to grad school was to GET OUT of teaching. Still it is a great opportunity, and if I can stick it out, I will have more, not less options. I can do whatever I want.

Ultimately, I don’t have to decide until next spring, but by that time I will have had to take a lot of stats and research courses, which aren’t required for a Masters. The big drawback is the stats class this summer–if I decide to only pursue my Masters degree, I could free up June to work and make a film.

Who knows. I regret letting this niggling doubt enter my head because now it is impossible get rid of.

I went running yesterday on a path along the Rivanna trail I haven’t run on since October. It was covered in fallen leaves then . Now, the leaves have been washed away by the winter flooding, which also dumped lots of flotsam along the banks–Styrofoam bits, bicycle wheels, bundles of sodden twigs and branches.The flooding also decorated the low-hanging tree branches along the river with shredded, raggedy plastic grocery bags of various colors. When I cock my head and squint a little, the plastic bags seem purposeful and holy, like Tibetan prayer flags snapping their messages to the wind. This time aroun I passed a family of goats, some mating geese, and, gathered in a field around Hogwaller, a colony of about thirty vultures, eager for the spring slaughter. I passed sewage spilling from a pipe into the river and, for a brief time, ran right beneath the speeding traffic of I-64.

My lungs have still not completely cleared up from my cold, and when I arrived home I had a hacking cough for about 10 minutes. It felt good though, like my body was being purged.

The tickets to Barcelona have been purchased. A bit pricey, but, hell, I didn’t pay for them. It is an open-jaw ticket, arriving in Barcelona and departing from Lisbon. E. and I will have about two weeks after I wrap up at the University of Barcelona to travel up to Northern Spain and then south along the northern coast of Portugal. Having dedicated the last 6 or 7 years of my life to travel, it feels almost criminal to get someone else to pay for me to fly overseas.


  1. Anonymous

    JR lyrics

    Do you know the complete lyrics for the J. Richman song that goes, “he gave us the wine to taste it,” etc.? And come to think of it, the name of the song? I can’t find it anywhere. It’s driving me crazy. Thanks.

  2. RichardS

    Re: JR lyrics

    Who wants to know?

  3. Anonymous

    Re: JR lyrics

    A shut-in.

  4. Anonymous

    Re: JR lyrics

    No, but seriously — I’m only a part-time shut-in. I just thought you might know the song. I’ve done some web searches but, oddly, have only found a couple of references to the lyrics — not the full lyrics, the name of the song, or its album (if its on an album). I only heard the song myself for the first time Thursday night, so I have no idea when he wrote it, even.

    Do you know it?

  5. RichardS

    Re: JR lyrics

    How do YOU know I am not a shut in, too, and why in all of LiveJournaldom did you select me to answer your question?

    You see, if I answer 1 anonymous request, I have to answer them all.

    I will throw you a bone, though–try

  6. Anonymous

    Re: JR lyrics

    Are you trying to tell me you *don’t* know the answer to my question? Of course you do, which is why I asked you, and not the rest of LiveJournaldom.

    I didn’t realize you were overburdened with anonymous requests, though; I apologize. Your allmusic link would have been very helpful except it was already earmarked as the place I’d go if you didn’t know the song right out of your head, or didn’t answer. I guess I didn’t plan for the possibility that you WOULDN’T answer.

    I’m shocked!

  7. RichardS

    Re: JR lyrics

    Lifted from this webpage–

    “And you had to be there when Richman played one poignant verse of “Not in My Name” and left no one in any doubt as to where he stood on matters in the imperfect world beyond. Strange as it is to be saying this at this stage of his career, surrounded as he is by the aforementioned angst-ridden lesbian gangstas, but Richman – no relation, more’s the pity – has finally and triumphantly matured as an artist. And if you want proof, try this title of a new (unrecorded) song he is particularly proud of: “He Gave us Wine to Taste and Not to Talk About”. Vintage stuff.”

  8. mockingbirdbat

    Re: JR lyrics

    Yes; I forgot to mention that I saw that, too … but chose to ignore the “unrecorded” part, especially since the article’s a year old. But I’ve still found no contrary evidence. Next time I hear him sing it, I’ll bootleg it, yo. It’s a sweet song.

    And thanks for being a sport. I’ve enjoyed your blog for a couple of months now, and I’m sorry I had to post anonymously, but I didn’t have a profile here. I made one so you wouldn’t think I’m a creep, but of course there’s no content yet, and I’m afraid I have to keep my real ID on the downlow for, presumably, the same reasons you do.

    So you’re about to go to Spain?

  9. RichardS

    Re: JR lyrics

    I would’ve answered you tout suite if I had been able to. Instead, I became difficult and testy as a distracting subterfuge while I did some deeper research into the recent goings-on of Mr. Richman. To no avail. But you seem to be able to use Google as well as I can.

    Thanks for the props, and yes, Spain in July. It seems a long ways away, now, with so much difficulty in between. I will be a visiting scholar (apparently) at the University of Barcelona, though when I heard a colleague (also going to Spain) seriously refer to herself with this term, I almost lost my lunch. Gimme a break. Unless consuming large amounts of sangria counts as a scholarly activity.

    A month in Barcelona and then off to Northern Spain and Portugal for two weeks with my squeeze (a visiting scholar lover).

  10. mockingbirdbat

    Re: JR lyrics

    Excellent tactic: I *was* distracted! I cried for an hour, at least, rolling around on the floor under my desk. Nothing like a good writhe to get the blood flowing. I took a break to do some more Googling, then threw myself into the coat closet, which was even better than under my desk because of all the coathanger jabbings, and stumbling on the shoes in there. I sang to myself and kicked the wall, and after awhile I thought enough time had passed that he might have recorded the song, or at least it was possible some geek had transcribed the lyrics and posted them somewhere, but I was wrong. I often am.

    Your “visiting scholar” allergy (and colleague reference) reminds me of a friend I had, a professor, who used to refer to his colleagues at the university as “colleagues,” which ostensibly seems reasonable but in reality made me have to scratch myself. Especially when he was telling me he did some stuff with his “colleagues” like go see Jim Carrey movies or drink a bunch of beer, get drunk, & accidently go home with beautiful Greek prostitutes.

    Do you do things like that with your colleagues?

    What’s all the difficulty in between now & July? And how’s the pain in your back?

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