Saturday, March 27, 2004

On moderation, revisited ("g.u.d.i.A.") 

I'll say it again:

Moderation is an assignment that begs transgression.

Looking down on my town I perceive uniqueness, a moment, cause and effect. It is a rare sensation, significance.

On remembering 

Amber says:
it's so vague it's hard to explain without waxing poetic, lol
Amber says:
mostly it's just light and smell
Amber says:
there are no people or shapes in this moment
Amber says:
only light and sound and feeling
Amber says:
and in this still frame there is this wave of emotion that feels like everything about being sixteen
Amber says:
everything good, anyway

I love hearing people talk about their sense memories--it's being on the brink of orgasm, experiencing full tilt everything from a day, a year, a conversation, an injury, a surprise, teased out of a forgetful fog (a memory you don't remember, even) by an almond cookie, a few white russians, a couple of joints, grape bubble gum,a blow to the head, and all one can do is smile and cry and close your eyes and try to make it happen again.

I interpret these involuntary mnemonic spasms, positive and negative, as one of the selling points of the human nervous system. There are entire CDs that I can't listen to these days for fear of provoking an unwelcome attack of sentimentality, or maybe out of fear that I'd be tempted to over-stimulate those sensory connections and gradually decrease the potentcy of what bubbles out of the ensuing froth. Driving on certain streets, I take special caution to direct my vision unflinchingly ahead, preferring to recall the subtle, clouded sweetness of the view from memory rather than see the new subdivisions that have butchered the hills beyond recognition.


Friday, March 26, 2004


It looked as if someone, dozens of cars ahead, had tossed an unwrapped pack of glossy playing cards up into the air. From my distant vantage point, the fragmentary headlights, paint chips, glass, and various other jetsam mingled together in a quick, glittery aerial display. Soon enough, though, I noticed the rapidly advancing stream of brake lights and, squealing to a halt in time with the other drivers, I assumed that we all felt a similar cascade of wrenched guts as we uncomfortably recognized that a car (or several) had just been pounded severely enough to produce a wide field of sparkling ejecta. This was at the top of the McCain hill in the northbound lanes of highway 67/167, if anyone is familiar with the area, so the spectator cars were quite literally aligned so as to direct everyone's stares down the slope toward the scene, as if we were Roman citizens invited to witness some unimaginable violence. Traffic was understandably at a halt, creeping forward inches in unison to allow for a central speedway for the coming onslaught of ambulances, firetrucks, and various other rescue vehicles. I was transfixed by the scene below: the highway is bound on both sides by cement barrier walls meant to protect workers from traffic, but a gap in the barrier opened on the right to accomodate a short exit ramp; I could identify a clump of three of four cars compressed end to end into a tight line, distinguishable only by their differences in color; at the apex of the barrier wall, the acute blade formed by the angle of the freeway and the off-ramp, was lodged a large white truck, in seemingly swell condition aside from the fact that a thin pillar of sooty smoke issued from beneath the front end, which was noticably elevated. Within minutes I counted four fire trucks, six police cars, and two unmarked vehicles that otherwise contributed to the din of blue, white, and yellow strobes. It was a compact cluster of activity, a car show on the immobilized highway. Soon enough it was obvious that the police had opened a lane to facilitate our movement (and hopefully the prevention of further accidents as walls of halted automobiles tend to make splendid targets for the oblivious, speeding traffic that follows); our cars politely lurched back onto the road as we tried not to be obvious in our hypnotically slack-jawed stares at the accident. As I approached, I couldn't quite tell what had happened to the truck, by this point the obvious focus of all emergency activity. The truck's rear end was still on the ground, but the front tires were about a foot above ground level, but the hood was pristine, dentless, a clean white sheet of enameled metal. Getting closer, I noticed that someone's coat had been draped over the driver's side window, which was mere inches away from the now slowly moving lane of traffic; I knew this meant that something terrible was being hidden from view, blood or death or some combination of the two. Passing the truck, I saw an horrific, awesome sight: in colliding, presumably at high speed, with the acute angle of the exposed concrete barrier, the truck had been split like a log, left and right flanks rent completely asunder, to the point that the barrier was visible beneath the truck at about the point where the steering column enters the cab. I hated what this implied for the driver and any passengers who may have been inside. Furthermore, the tallness of the truck had allowed for the hood, well above the top of the barrier wall, to remain unscathed as the body of the truck was peeled away from beneath it in an instantaneous expression of force equalling mass multiplied by acceleration.

I thought again about how pretty the image had been when the debris was a deck of cards, grim confetti. I made a conscious attempt to drive cautiously thereafter, but by the next exit I was cut off by someone in an Infiniti SUV, and I couldn't resist speeding around and in front of them in defiance.


Thursday, March 25, 2004


Fuck me like fried potatoes
on the most beautifully hungry
morning of my God-damn life.

-R. Brautigan


Wednesday, March 24, 2004


This is the surest sign that I'm rapidly approaching (or have already passed) the ephemeral barrier between culturally-applicable terms of "young" and "old:" my cynicism has finally begun to seep toward people younger than myself.

This afternoon, Brady and I went for a 5 p.m. walk-through of UALR's gallery one, the space that is currently designated as the dumping ground for entries into the annual visual art student competitive. Walking in through the open door shortly after the strike of the hour, we are greeted by the cool, disaffected stares of the room's attendants, but they issue no complaints otherwise in regard to our presence. Making a circuit of the room, I casually (but not slowly) begin tackling the room in quarters, trying to soak up as much of the good and bad as possible as rapidly as rules of perception will permit. By the halfway point, this tiny, pannish caucasian with a two-inch fauxhawk approaches. Ah, it dawns on me: one of the attendants. I think to myself that he's probably going to let me know that the gallery is closing soon, and that they would be locking up soon.

He speaks:

"We're done. We're ready to leave." Silence. Stare. Stare stare stare.

Was I just rebuffed in an unprovoked and markedly rude fashion? It would seem so. I hate to do this, but I had been talking about Dennis Miller's attitude of indecent disregard for a good portion of the afternoon. I could not be held accountable for the manifestations of rage towards idiocy that followed.

I speak:

"M'kay." Silence. Stare. Stare stare stare. Continue walking about the pieces on display.

I think to myself that I'd just settled the score, that I'd let known that my presence in a public office is not a burden to be shrugged off in such a manner. All is well for a moment, and even the artworks look a little improved on this side of the room,

...or so I was thinking when young fauxhawk begins loudly jangling his keychain in an irritatingly arythmic pattern. I let it go initially, thinking that my lack of response would probably be the sweeter irritation, so much more so as I further slow my pace... The jangling slowly crescendoes as I slowly settle into a proper gallery-speed crawl. Oh, this is so sweet that I'm no longer paying attention to the art, instead I'mgrinning to the walls, hands clasped behind my back... that's it! I think, That's it! My keys are in my hand! I couldn't believe that I hadn't thought of it sooner, but I start quietly jangling my keys in stark counterpoint to his untamed jangle. Then, combattively, I hear the added sound of a roll of masking tape being clapped onto the surface of a table.

Oh, dear. Can you do no better? I linger at Brady's station of photographs (which had been confusingly shuffled throughout the presentation) amid some other intriguing photographic works. I am temporarily transported away from my winning competition, admiring the soft curvature of the female midline against the rigid bannister, laughing at the subtle erotic joke of it.

Then, finally, having completed the loop, I slowly turn my head so that I can leave the boy with a burningly silent confrontation the likes of which he has yet to experience. I make certain to stand motionless in contrapposto for a moment, if for nothing else than to let the little prick know that my actions were decided and intentional, aimed at his being in every degree. That's all it takes, a little moment and I resume my walk and conversation with Brady out the door, laughing about an experience he'd had with the fauxhawk earlier in the day.

In retrospect, I was probably too harsh on the boy (in my mind, anyway; I sincerely doubt that fauxhawk had the wherewithal to even be aware of most of my defensive combattiveness). As such, I'll shed my introductory vileness and offer the lad some advice from on high:

Freshman, grown-ups are right. Learn to control your mouth before you speak.

And with that, friends, I let go of the worry that the whole event caused me, that existential fear that I've crossed the line into fogie-ness, because it feels so good to quietly, efficiently put them in their places.

And, because I'm gay, about the hair: DeNiro did it better in 1976, and it doesn't make me think you're a free-thinker (it makes me think you're a fan of euro-soccer stylists or that you're in love with Tintin). As a matter of fact, perhaps you should also know that, in 2002, a queer Manhattanite photographer named Siege said of your hairstyle that,"It's a fear of haircut commitment... It's a way to feel kind of punky, kind of hip and not have to commit." Did you hear that? You've done it! You've achieved the (kind of) punky look!

Ordered disorder 

The image above is a multiprotein aggregate consisting of p27 and a much larger Cdk2-cyclin A complex, a system which is involved in some of the "timing" steps in cell division. A recent study has demonstrated that the disorder inherent in protein-protein interactions (as mediated by circumstances as simple as variable temperature) is something of an ordering force of its own, allowing a protein, generally considered to be absolutely specific in binding with other molecules, to get a little wobbly and, to a degree, looser in its ability to combine with a variety of compounds. In this case, the researchers demonstrate how this dainty little p27 protein, normally very fluid in solution, undergoes rigidity-inducing structural modifications when provided the stimulus of contact with this complex. Rather than being already of a conformation that determines to what the p27 protein preferrentially binds, p27 itself maintains a goofy disorderly state that is subsequently rendered structurally sound depending on which protein it contacts. It's an interesting revelation, albeit not a shocking one, that just under half of the proteins in the body behave in this fashion; it's a process rather diametrically opposed to the rigidity one is generally taught in molecular biology, refreshingly so.

The GRE is less than a week away and I have no motivation to even take it. I try to make myself study or review, but I always get hung up on the fact that standardization is a process that favors those who enjoy rigid learning, comprehensive finals, and judgement of education based on formula rather than evaluation. I hope to find a graduate program, in any field at this point, that recognizes the much more human tendency to vacillate in ability here and there, to adapt to situations when immersed in them. I'm letting p27 act as my analogue, the chaotic, fluctuating activator that only works well when connected, in context, to something greater.


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