Friday, April 27, 2007

Now What?

It looks unlikely that I'll be going to school in the fall now. Because I didn't register for the draft when I was 18, I'm not eligible for financial aid, and I can't pay for it without help.

There were several questions about selective service registration on the financial aid form, which I paused over when I was filling it out, but I understood, from the way I read it, that I was safe because of my age. I must have misunderstood.

Strange that this is an issue now, when I'm way past the age that I could be drafted. I went to college for 3-1/2 years when I was college-age, to three different schools, and got plenty of financial aid. I think this requirement must have been instituted later. The man I spoke with at the financial aid office today, who gave me the bad news, told me that it's always been a requirement, but I know that's not true. If my not registering would have jeopardized my college plans, I would have swallowed my moral stance in a minute. At eighteen, I felt strongly about the military, but I'm sure I felt more strongly about going to college.

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Garden Update.

We just about lost the cucumbers. That's the loss I feel most acutely. Before the freeze there were 4 clusters of three plants each, with fuzzy green leaves getting bigger every day. Now there are about 6 plants total and the leaves are mostly gone. But they're coming back, starting over.

The soybeans are fine. Though one of them still looks a little yellow, they're not as prone to insect damage and mildew as the other plants. There are three peanut plants, and a bird or something keeps pulling them apart, so I put little chicken wire cages around them.

Apparently, the bell pepper plants are very tasty for some kind of insect. The center leaves and buds were almost entirely eaten away. But they're recovering -- lots of new growth which the bugs have not discovered yet. One of the poblano plants has two tiny fruit getting bigger every day. And the Thai chile is full of little green peppers. The jalapeƱos look healthy, though there are no buds or fruit on them yet.

The watermelons vines are growing fast. And the tomato plants are getting very big. They've had a lot of blossoms but no fruit yet.

The basil didn't survive the freeze, but the cilantro and parsley are huge. They're about to bolt, so I've been telling the neighbors to please help themselves. The chives and sage are also healthy. And the lemon grass is making itself at home, sending up lots of big leaves.

All the flowers are thriving. Some of the sunflowers are 4 feet tall already, and the zinnias have lots of buds soon to bloom.

The green beans and sweet peas and growing fast. I love watching the bean vines grow -- about a foot a day it seems -- and, when they get to the top of the poles, keep reaching farther and farther out into the air for something to cling to. I'm sorry but that looks like yearning to me. It doesn't seem one bit less volitional than the snail slowly oozing across a leaf.

Storm. Pot. School.

Tonight, J. and I watched the third hour of the Spike Lee documentary, When the Levees Failed. We sobbed through the first two last week, and the third was no less affecting. See it if you haven't. It's a fairly traditional documentary about New Orleans and Katrina, but it's, I don't know, astounding? is that the word? I'm not sure how to describe it. It's devastating.

We have some dear friends who lived in the Lower Ninth Ward. They were on tour in Florida when the storm hit, so they were safe, but they lost their home. We had stayed with them several times when we were on the road. We recorded our last CD in their house, and lived in our camper in their yard for 3 weeks while we were recording. A good chunk of our documentary takes place in that neighborhood which really doesn't exist anymore.

Here in Austin, for days now a big storm has been headed our way. It's been humid and cloudy and warm. I was counting on a thunderstorm to watch from the safety of our front porch this evening, but it's almost midnight and still no storm. Maybe it'll hit just as I get in bed. I'll leave my door open just in case.

Yesterday we went to see Vacancy. I wouldn't recommend it. Tonight J. and I went to a lecture at U.T. by Bob Jensen called "Pornography and the Threat to Intimacy." I thought it would be interesting for me, since one of the big themes of the story in my screenplay is the question of how people make decisions about their sex lives against a backdrop of routine public sex. Not really about pornography, but related.

The lecture was more or less a recruiting session for a new group he and some other men on campus are forming called "A Call to Men," whose mission is to engage men in an effort to stop violence against women, using a radical feminist critique of pornography, particularly Andrea Dworkin's critique of pornography.

I had trouble with what I saw as Bob Jensen's simplistic view of pornography, and his tendency to make broad assumptions based on his own limited experience. And as always I had trouble with Andrea Dworkin's critique, which always feels authoritarian and anti-creative. On the other hand, it was hard not to sympathize with these men struggling to understand themselves, grappling with the same question -- "how do I find real intimacy in sex?" -- that I grapple with every goddamn day.

I always get a little tripped up in these academic feminist discussions of heterosexual sex and the subjugation and objectification of women. I've never really heard anyone in that camp address the fact that sex is always always at least to some extent if not essentially and inherently about objectification, about control and surrender, and about compulsion. As human beings it's what we do. If we want to create a more just society, where women are respected, do we try to work with that fact, or do we try to get around it?

And both J. and I felt a little out of place. It was not really a discussion that included queer people, and maybe that was appropriate.

I stopped smoking pot last Monday or Tuesday, because before too long I need to do one of these drug trials to get some money, and in order to sign up for a trial I need to pass a drug test. I like to wait at least a couple weeks after the last time I've smoked, since I've heard that marijuana can linger in your urine for weeks. The lengths I'll go to to make a living.

I held out for the first day of my friend M's visit -- she arrived on Friday and I told myself that I would refrain even if she and J. wanted to smoke, since it is her vacation after all -- but eventually on Saturday I broke down. Once I'd relented, I kept at it all weekend. Till today.

What else? I got accepted to U.T.! I heard yesterday.

Monday, April 23, 2007

Breakfast and Dinner.

We went to Casa de Luz for a late breakfast. I'd never been there before. It's in a big sort of complex of yoga studios and such, with palm-shaded walkways. The food is all vegan, a buffet. I was a little intimidated at first. None of the food was labeled. I think someone said later that there was a menu somewhere, but I never saw it.

The food was what you'd expect: very fresh, simply prepared. Mustard greens with a choice of two sauces (garlicky tofu "cheese," and a walnut sauce -- both were tasty), a curry-flavored stir-fry with tempeh, a big salad, various herbal hot and cold teas. Whole wheat pancakes with fruit compote.

The place, at first, felt a little Stepford hippie. Though it didn't look like it at all, it put me in mind of the place where Julianne Moore goes to be treated in the Todd Haynes film, Safe. I felt more comfortable after J. ran into a friend and we sat down to eat with her and a friend.

We went to Whole Foods for a few groceries for dinner. We didn't need much, since mostly I planned to cook with the produce we got in our farm box yesterday. But we wanted M. to see the Austin Whole Foods, which is sort of the Mall of America of organic food. It's Earth Day, so it was even crazier than a normal crazy Sunday there.

Dinner was pasta with chard, roasted garlic, white beans, Gaeta olives, and Parmesan cheese. A Greens recipe, modified. It was delicious, kind of soupy, salty from the olives, a little crunch from the chard stems and roasted onions. Mm. And I made focaccia again, from my mother's recipe, with rosemary and olive oil.

After the pasta, we had a salad very similar with the beet salad I made last week, with sliced apples and pecans, but with goat cheese instead of feta, red scallions in the vinaigrette, and tossed with red leaf lettuce.

Good food.

J. went to a birthday party for a good friend of his, and M. and I watched Plenty. I'd seen it when it came out 22 years ago, remembered liking it, but not much about it. It was very good, very sad.