borg me

so, yeah, the rumors you’ve heard are true: I, sarah holmes townsend, have eaten crow and, at long last, joined friendster after having vowed never to touch it with a high-jump pole.

a friend asked me recently, “so what’s with all the social networking?” and I was thinking about it the day before yesterday in the car and felt compelled to pull out my little car notebook (man, that thing’s getting a workout these days) and, right in the middle of the burlington/gilbert intersection, start scribbling down my response. here it is:

let’s just say I am not unlike the fabled groundhog– at the first whiff of spring, I clamber from my burrow into the light (this year apparently in full regalia) and cavort about.

and then I started thinking a bit more about that regalia, and it occured to me that, tho rather novel, it bears striking similarities to what/who I’ve been in the past. I seem to be seized of late by a spirit of fresh combinatorial self-invention: ’80s hair, ’90s overalls, and ’00 body.

also, I suspect, the diss kicking into gear may be having some influence upon my productivity level (read: mania)– at last the tunnel ahead reveals a pinhole of brilliance. I cannot shout it forcefully enough: WHOOPEEEEE!!!

the same friend as above reacted with particular surprise (dare I say disdain) to my recent friendster membership: “do people still use that thing?” I’ve, obviously, been trying to work up an appropriately withering retort, with little success. the best I can come up with is, “no, they don’t. at least not the cool people. only us lame-o third-wave latecomers.”

and then I think about maybe sticking out my tongue and going, “nyeah, nyeah.” what do you think– too much?

picking up on an earlier conversation

…I suppose the central and most honest question, from my perspective, becomes: what are your main objects in a) teaching writing and b) writing yourself?

because, for category a), answers I’ve witnessed include, in no particular order: i. self-aggrandizement, e.g. increasing your readership/fanbase/cult of personality to the extent, in some notable cases, of recreating the world in your own image; ii. making a living; iii. contributing to the production of quality literature in the world; iv. helping others learn, grow, and develop new understandings of self and the world around them.

for category b), answers I’ve seen include: i. to get famous; ii. to scratch an itch; iii. to discover what you think you know and open it up for revision.

I’ve seen way too many people engaged in subcategory i (or probably that should be I) pursuits. it consistently makes me mad, and then subsequently sad. I mean, really, who the hell would *want* to be famous? just *look* at the kinds of lives hollywood stars live. yeah, so they’ve got the cash and nice houses and great bods and whatnot, but I have to ask myself if they even really *live* at all. maybe angelina jolie– she is taking flying lessons after all. but they can’t even go out in public without getting mobbed and tabloids publishing and twisting their private relationships to shreds. I know there are a lot of people who feel sympathy is wasted on the rich and famous who’ve clearly chosen their own paths. I’m just saying: fame. can you honestly tell me it’s a GOOD thing?

I dunno. maybe you think so. we all have differently-compelled and -enabled egos. mine says to me:

“make stuff that’s fun and whimsical, sometimes even weird. take a risk, explore; poke and gaze and work it all up into something lovely and captivating– then put it out on a little table on the front lawn for people who walk by to look at, pick up and shake, sniff, sing to, etc.

“and then pick up by the seat of its pants what you know, and what you’re in the process of learning and reassessing, and go into a classroom– and take a can opener to other people’s heads. put that can opener into the people’s own hands and invite them to poke around inside. make a place where everybody involved can lever out the grey lump and work it into stupendous concoctions. go, ooooooooh, collectively.”

dubious attics & barge-driving lessons & groundhog hillside & artificial sight

lisa and merritt have moved into another big old house with a mansion-sized fireplace and rooms without 90 degree angles– instead the sides of rooms angle gently inward, forming outside alcove courtyards. lisa is selling shares in some enormous roll of carpeting that they’ve gotten ahold of, and I buy in and then immediately regret it because I know I can’t afford it. I keep wanting to see the attic and then being told all over again that it’s not a good idea and going, oh, yeah. right. I forget now what’s wrong with it, but something ominous.

there are barge-driving lessons on the river, and I’m taking part. there is some discussion of a canoe-type boat and whether or not it’s what people are calling a tanker.

I’m walking across a hillside, my arms swinging at my sides, when the knuckles of my right hand brush over one of the many holes in the ground– and something clamps on– not painfully, just alarming me. I look down, and in my hand is a prairie dog (though the word in my head in the dream is “groundhog”). I shake it off, and, there, still in my hand, is it’s baby. it’s miniature and adorable, and I think about hanging on to it as a pet, but then think better of it and place it gently at the mouth of the burrow it’s parent has disappeared down. I continue across the hillside, realizing the ground is full of burrows and small creatures, vulnerable at my feet.

someone points out a man in the room and tells me he has artificial sight– he was blind in one eye, and another of the tenants devised the solution– there’s a chip implanted, not in the damaged eye, but rather in the tip of his nose– it’s mapped to a vast universe of coordinates the designer has spent the last twenty years plotting. he shows me examples of the patterns penciled on the wall of the room, travelling all over it, describing it entirely.

busy brain

these days as soon as I wake up, the dreams fly right out of the room, driven by the force of whatever waking idea comes barrelling in. this morning I wake up writing part of my dissertation, fleshing out an idea on the page by using the puppet-people from my dreams themselves to play out the discussion with one another or else sitting at a desk writing out the ideas I intend to, and do, get to myself once I’m more awake.

homeowner to-do list

3:30 a.m., post-bath.

– connect roof vent tube to bathroom vent, reconnect fan
– back bedroom: paint walls, floors, closets; put in low cupboards on eaves closets, built in shelving above; put rods in closets proper
– stairway: runner; shelves?
– fix up basement front room for a workspace: add shelving; paint walls, ceiling, floor; put in carpeting? area rugs?; get new dehumidifier; figure out why dehumidifier keeps tripping the circuit breaker
– laundry room: add three-quarter bath; paint to brighten walls, ceiling, floor
– all basement: new window well windows to brighten

perennial overwhelm

sometimes, even tho there’s never any question about any possibility of keeping all these balls in the air, I drive myself nuts trying. sometimes, when my head aches for two days straight like this, I suspect it might be ready to blow. sometimes I’m juggling jobs, for pay or pro bono (though in my line of work that’s more the rule and therefore seldom named as such). often what I’m juggling is sarahs— the poety sarah, the teachery sarah, the researcher-scholar sarah, the friend sarah, the sister sarah, the hermit sarah, the cut-to-the-chase-and-say-what-nobody-else-is-willing-to-air sarah, the movie-watcher sarah, the hikey-campy sarah (god, somebody please wake her up– it’s been like a hundred years already), the arty sarah, the hand-makey book sarah, the homeowner sarah, the bill-and-tax-payer sarah… phew. that’s all I have the energy to track at the moment. but, believe you me, it’s a house of mirrors in here (and you thought juggling out in the open was difficult…)

so sometimes I put on the socks with the individual toe sockets and no-skid ladybugs on the bottoms and feel better instantly.

food poisoning

okay, so refried beans not, probably, the culprit. still waiting for the alien to bust out. please please get it out of me.

oh right– ides of march. how appropriate.

unholy frijoles

it’s really hard to know for sure whether the refried bean is your best friend or your worst enemy. one day it’s a marvelous uberfood: tasty, easy to eat, filling, packed with protein– but then another–[queue dramatic music] duhn duhn duhn— it’s got you in its evil clutches, up with middle-of-the-night throes of zinging pain accompanied by unsavory emissions.

such flip-flopping behavior is just no good in a relied-upon food.

and a dilemma– of course I’m going to throw out the rest of that can of beans– but what about the three others I got at the same time? are their contents part of the same tainted batch? and I constitutionally loathe waste. so do I risk another (or potentially *three*) excruciating night(s) up in the wee hours? I suppose I could give the unopened and suspect cans to the food bank, but that seems like a rather shabby trick– potentially! because who knows! friend or foe?

in which lets me down

I am so very very sad at the moment. not only to learn that the father of a dear friend of mine died recently– and, no, I do not include this in this post in any glib way. quite frankly, not only is it awful news, impossible to respond to other than lamely and uselessly, painful to sit by while a friend suffers. also it’s a wake-up call for me with all my blather– that there are far more weighty and grievous things going on in the world, and that perhaps I ought not to be quite so blythe and irritating. also that my own parents are no vernal poultry. and I’ve no idea how I’m going to react when the inevitable comes to pass, as it does more and more frequently for my contemporaries. either that or long-term care necessities. the stuff of real life.

with this perspective, what does it really matter that my new toy only allows membership to the micro-section of the population who happen to have .edu email addresses?… only that I’ve just emailed a whole slew of my favorite people, prompted, probably foolishly, to mash the “Invite” button. and now they’re going to be not only pestered with my group-emailing but also frustrated should they actually attempt to join. gr. and feh.

evidently it’s time for my nap.

o donuts

so like the shape I wear around my middle, cast in flesh, perhaps in an effort to become one of you… how you croon to me from the glass-fronted case of the supermarket: “eat me… eeeeeaaaat me.” or at least the bavarian cream among you. lord help me, I am fortunate that his brethren keep mum. else I could not resist, as I so usually do, in my travels through the flourescent-incandesced aisles in search of more necessary and healthful good.

(as an aside, every time I get an automated email message from, I read it “donut reply” at first and get an inkling I’m being offered treats. or being hailed by smart pastries, which is rather more unsettling.)