Category Archives: Dia-log

In our 30s together

I tried to help pay. I always do. He almost never lets me. He let me once in the entire time I’ve known him, and that was one of the first times we’d seen each other since I graduated college. (In fact that one time he not only let me pay for myself but for his beer as well.) Continue reading


How else should we respond?

An in-law’s grandparents came to a family gathering. “You know about that pet-food poisoning? I bet the terrorists are behind it,” the woman said.

My grandmother was thoughtful. “You know, I never thought of that.” She turned to me. “What do you think?”

“What terrorists?” I asked, innocently.

“Oh here we go,” my grandfather said.

“No, I’m serious,” I said. “There are lots of terrorists and terrorist groups with lots of motives; I was just wondering who you were referring to.”

“The A-rabs,” my grandfather said, with a silent “clearly.”

“Oh, the towelheads,” I said trying to appear earnest.

No one even looked at me funny for saying that.


Later, the same woman referred to someone as a “colored man.”

My uncle asked, “What color was he?”

She kind of smirked. “Black.”

By the way, the man’s race had, as you probably have guessed, absolutely nothing to do with the story.


A conversation between a co-worker and me, slightly paraphrased.

“You’re applying to Brown?”


“What program?”

Modern Culture and Media.”

“Oh, nice! My boyfriend has a degree from that program. You’re going to be a theoryhead.”

“I hope so. Ooh, do you want to have a theory night?? I started one back in my college town and was hoping to find some people for one here.”

“Yes! I would love to do a theory night.”

“Sweet. We can read Benjamin and Lacan and…” (Trails off dreamily.)

“Sounds good. But no Lacan. I am so done with Lacan. I know entirely too much about the mirror stage.”

“Fair enough, we don’t have to do Lacan.”

The other person nearby was probably like “Whaa…?”

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Nasty dreams (it’s all relative)

I told Kurt I’d had a nasty dream last night. “Me too,” he said, and proceeded to tell me about his, which involved him starting grad school again and having to live in a studio apartment with his wife and kid, trying to finagle living space and study-time and bed-time with all these factors. Continue reading

A bad excuse

My 14-year-old, male housemate came into my rooms while I was at work and took a DVD and computer speakers. He attempted to justify this by saying he had girls over, and that I should be able to relate, because I had to woo girls just like he did.

(Not) filling silences

“Saying that knowing what’s going on is better than not knowing what’s going on is a value judgment. It’s completely arbitrary.”

—A Sunday morning customer at the Emporium, explaining himself. It began when I asked him how he was. “I don’t know,” he replied. “Ah,” I said, “Too early? Pre-caffeine?” “Not really. I never know.” I laughed an “I see” and went back to work. A few minutes later he came back with the above.

I like that it took him a while to formulate a response. Usually if it takes me a while to formulate a response, I just let it go, because the conversation long since changed, or a good chunk of time has passed, and I am considered oddly if I try to bring it back (especially if it’s just for a witty quip). I think I tend toward that (bringing something back up) but stifle it.

Once recently it was appreciated. I was talking to Josh about one thing and we got off on several random, crazy diversions and from one beat to the next I brought us back a few subjects to the one I hadn’t finished with yet. He laughed and asked, “What am I going to do when you’re gone?”

I don’t know if it’s because I’ve spent too much time in New York or, less extremely, because I’m a Rhode Islander, that’s led me to adopt the usual habit of muting that impulse, of letting the conversation “progress,” and not go “backwards” (hello, spiral theory anyone?), or of waiting till the subject on which I have an additional comment comes back “naturally.” By which time I’ve probably forgotten said additional comment, because I haven’t been repeating it to myself in my head for fear of not being as engaged as my already-erratic-enough brain lets me be, because I haven’t written it down for fear of being rude for pausing the conversation, or else the comment just seems irrelevant at this point.

Theory (and perhaps in particular Winko) has interestingly (though not oddly) helped this. Things that force you to simply stop and think in the context of a conversation really obviate the value placed on immediate response. (“It’s a value judgment.”) To let a new thought, an idea, hang in silence for more than a millisecond or two is a skill I have only just begun to acquire. My tendency is to jump in, to fill the silence (for fear of being silenced), or to move on (for fear of awkward silences, or silences I make awkward by my awkwardness, or my tendency to view and experience silences as necessarily awkward). I will take stuff home to think about, but rarely do I allow myself the novelty, the leisure, the privilege to marinate mentally in something in the midst of a conversation. Perhaps there is an art to making mental marination conversive. Or of taking the reigns of a conversation and bringing it back, or over, to a previously dismissed topic.

A funny story about Derrida, Nietzsche, and Foucault

I told Jabari about Derrida’s thing with reversing binaries, flipping the primary-secondary dichotomy before attempting to dismantle it. He sat in silence for a moment, contemplating. An interesting state achieved after the rest of the day, filled with loud outdoor political theater, laughter, conversation, and, just prior to this, a bit of booze. Continue reading