Sunday, April 11, 2010

name that time-space: the facebook update map

Some unspecified time ago - and probably because I was excessively bored - I browsed over all my facebook friends' most recent updates and wrote them all down. I present them to you now, in their full, unedited (save the names, which have been scratched out), schizophrenic glory.

Of course, it's common for a lot of us to browse over people's updates on facebook. But there are some funky things that go on with this kind of activity. It's a lot more than witticisms or frequently pointless announcements ("I had some coffee!"). With any and all social interactions, what we choose to reveal to others in a public setting (even a virtual public like facebook) ends up pointing to a set of experiences specific to a particular time-space. There need not be seamless (or even half-assed) conversations at work; rather, we end up contributing to a map of experience that finds as many points of convergence as divergence, commonality and difference.

Sorry for the academic jargon. Concrete example: during this year's NFC Championship game, practically all my friends' updates had to do with the status of the Vikings and/or Saints. What does such a map illustrate? 1) That I have extensive networks in both Minnesota and New Orleans (which I do). 2) That these networks of friends made updates on a very public event, not to inform people of its details, but rather to bond, argue, or engage in common experiences of the event. 3) That this game, as a virtually-experienced spectacle, ended up capturing much of our attention and interest, and thus served as perfect fodder for a virtual engine like facebook. 4) That other virtually-experienced spectacles (i.e. the healthcare debate) or other everyday, real-life experiences (i.e. coming home from work) were temporarily shelved in favor of facebook update excitement around the game.

That said: can you name this time-space? Do you know the exact year, day, and time when these updates happened? What does this say about my networks? Does this match up with your networks? What does this say about our virtual public life?

I'll have the answer (to the first question, not the others) in my next post.

is watching the master debaters.

would rather be at Skate's On The Bay.
is going home (my friends)...
is watching McCain get spanked. Righteous...
is already tired of her work schedule for the next 3 months...
is watching the debate over pizza and beer. i love being an adult.
is starting to really like his classes.
got a new apartment in the international district!
is going to watch tonight's debates at Hamburger Mary's... wanna join?
is performing at Intermedia on Thurs Oct 9, 7 pm with Ibe and Sun Yung - plus wine
and beer... hollaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa...
is busy.
would like a night stand.
is up and at em.
homework done, go to target, buy furniture. Groceries and floor will wait until
is lovin rainy nashville, getting ready to crash the debates part 2.
Yay unemployment.
should be in Hawaii by the first of November and in Washington on the 18th or 19th.
wants to be in Osaka with The Boy right now. Only 4 more days...
is made of cool brew mocha & soy milk.
is sick. Stupid con.
refuses to change his status message just because some people are bitter about the
sun in California.
is glad Steven finally got his charger back!
is thinking you should all visit and if you like what you see,
maybe donate a buck or two to keep us ripe.
really believes that everything IS gonna be alright.
needs to learn to take things one day at a time.
is enjoying a bunfire and chilling with folks at my house.
still loves...and will always love, and will wait until time makes to reconnect our
souls together...
is friggin' exhausted!
is marketing at midnight.
is in Partial Hell!!!
is considering switching back to analog after spending 1.5 hrs on the phone with the
HP people and THEN coming home to find that the printer has done a Lazurus.
is revising a story.
is nothing short of perfectly relaxed in perfect company.
is "NYC, here I come!"
is potentially addicted [to running marathons].
needs to find her winter coat because its looking like its time to start bundling up.
is jealous that her sister is going to Londonium this weekend.
is either kicking of statement of purpose ass or else statement of purpose is
playing rope a dope. We can all guess which is really happening.
hates fax machines!
An Electoral College TIE? Its Possible!!
is NERVOUS! and really excited....
is listening to Jane's Addiction and running my dog on a trail under fresh snow!
wants to get out of the city, permanently.
is curious about this years showing of "The Nightmare Before Christmas" as in, is
there going to be one...?
is so frustrated that the internet can't find the server that she needs in order to
transport herself 7 miles today...
is reveling in a lovely full night of sleep...
is bonding with Tori Amos instead of sleeping.
19 dollar airbed is sounding pretty enticing right now. sleeeeeeeeeeepy.
is freezing.
has the ugliest sweater of them all!
is tired from all that fun (i.e. rockband) this weekend.
is back in Seattle.
is smiling...and almost back to health.
is wondering why he had to get a flat tire.
hates Evan. A lot. No...seriously.......jk.
is barely moving.
is playing offense against his head cold.
is back to real life... well school, not really real life.
is coughing.
is looking for manatees in the rio dulce.
is 7 days until home!
head is his only home unless it rains.
enjoyed the rain last night! it's still hard to believe that it goes months without
raining here.
is finding it.
is a drifter.
is mourning the loss of the Cubs. Why has the universe been so cruel to them and
their fans?
is looking for others in the Bangor area who want to play kickball. Possibly in
ridiculous outfits. Are you in?
is Oktoberfest, bitches!
is fighting paralysis.
is listening to noisy rain.
is saying tha world jus got alot less smarter...RIP to my friend & family, tha
"Ghetto Scientist."
is so sick of the bullshit and games that are politics. But be sure to go vote
tomorrow, and register to vote by this weekend if you are not already!
is ohhh minnesoooota.
If I fail pathophys, do I get a second try, like the $700 Billion Bailout? God save
the bankers!
paulson looks like he just robbed a bank...
is impatient for the 5 day weekend.
is glad to be.
is excited that Biden is so genuine. Erica now has a growing fondness for Joe Biden.
would like to start ending all of her sentences in "also"...also.
wants to know how she'll get home now that this has happened on her regular bus
is obsessing over one teeny little word.
is going to be in Cali this weekend!
hates anatomy. but she loves you.
Thanks everyone for your birthday wishes!
apparently has hazel eyes. Thanks Wikipedia!
is trying to think of what she's doing right now.
is ready for California. oh wait, that's still weeks away. Pat- bring some Bay Area
love with you!
saw Obama in La Crosse this morning. The heat off that man gave me sunburn.
is grateful to everyone who organized CR10.
is tying up the loose ends of his application to SU.
is finding out that doing nothing can be the most difficult thing to do.
thinks YOU should come to Daman. My latest choral awesome-ness!! Check it out!!

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

snapshots of a six-month hiatus


For weeks I get home from work and immediately head to the library. I sit at one of the computers and do nothing but writing and edits for the book, writing and edits for grad school applications. Come midnight the library closes and I take a bus home, make myself dinner. I fall asleep at two in the morning and do the same thing all over again.

Sonya and I have commandeered all the Thanksgiving dinner energy, leaving Mom to relax. We've just finished our first dish, the easiest of all: cranberry sauce. We take pictures and marvel at the glistening red sheen, the luscious smells. Then Mom asks if we remembered to wash the cranberries before boiling them; we reply, a bit hesitantly, in the negative. What follows is fairly comical, frustrating, and more than a bit sad. The obstinacy both of us have learned gets amplified threefold coming from Mom, as she regales us with tales of an entire town that died because someone forgot to wash some food before preparing it. I gently chide, "You have to learn to start giving up some responsibility." She persists. Sonya and I take another picture: all that delicious cranberry sauce in the compost bin. We make another batch; we wash these cranberries thoroughly.


I finish grad school applications and get a pint of Bailey's to celebrate. I carry it along to a craft night at Alison's and Kim's place on Saratoga. I learn how to make intricately woven snowflakes and garlands out of floss, popcorn, and cranberries. I feel unburdened.

New Years Eve, black and white everything. I slip into a cocktail dress, high-heel boots, jewelry, determined to look gorgeous. Ben fixes me a White Russian; I exclaim loudly that it doesn't seem to have any effect, until later on when I almost slip and fall on the dance floor. Each of us tangos with an enormous gourd, passing it off from person to person. Someone breaks out Set; upstairs there are movies. I meet someone new and get a nice welcome to 2010.


I send off a text message to friends as I ride the bus home. "I just gave my two weeks' notice..." Everyone is so enthusiastic with their congratulations, for a good two hours I frantically engage in multiple text conversations. I make a mental note that it truly says something when everyone is more excited for you to leave a job than to get one.

Over lunch at Obento-Ya, Rick offers up an avenue to get further plugged into the Asian American arts community and work on my own writing. I am stunned and excited, hiding my delight as best I can behind chopsticks and soup spoons busy at work. I say yes and my heart falls immediately. As the bill comes, I look out the window and contemplate the reality of an opportunity which I can only enjoy for a few months, amidst a surplus of opportunities that have already taken hold. That is, an opportunity arrived too late.

Kevin puts me and Craig on a three-way call as I walk home briskly from the library. The zip file of the manuscript has gone off successfully to the press, he reports. We give out short whoops to celebrate the end of an exhausting and debilitating run. After a moment, I say, "It's kinda anticlimactic, isn't it, to see your most important and exhaustive work you've ever done in your life get boiled down into a zip drive."


A few days into the family trip to Augusta and all I can really feel is an undercurrent of terror. As we watch the Saints get the lead on the Colts late in the Super Bowl, sealing an exuberant and long-awaited win, I console myself. At least now I've gotten to meet the Chinese community of my mother's roots I've so long mystified and idealized, I think. And now that I have, I can say without a doubt that I want nothing to do with them.

It's the week before I'm set to go on break in New Orleans and I feel awful. My stomach is bloated to the point of pain; I stop eating, but the situation doesn't alleviate. I nap for long periods throughout the day. My occasional walks outside are unbearable. For the first time in my life, my health is caught in an undertow and I have absolutely no idea how to drag myself out of it. Absolutely helpless. This must be what it's like to know you're dying, I think.

Arrive in New Orleans and Renee picks me up at the airport. We spend a good hour trying to make our way back into town and to one of the few grocery stores in the area. By the time we make it home it's dark. I learn that the house has no heat; I figure this is no big deal. Not much later I find out how wrong I am.

Anne throws me a welcome-back potluck at her apartment in the Marigny. Everyone who I thought had left is still here, and they all arrive. They look amazing, content. I head upstairs for what I think will be a short conference call; two hours later I return to the party, only to find most everyone has left for the night.


At the Candlelight Lounge in New Orleans, I have a sudden onslaught of digestive troubles again. The toilet lacks a stall; the bathroom door lacks a lock. "You need to go poop?" grins one of the owners at me. "Don't worry, I'll watch it for ya. Just pay me five dollars and we're good." I have no cash on me, nor the patience for a raw deal tonight. I saunter out for a long and uncomfortable walk back home.

At Mardi Gras Zone I scan the aisles for prune juice, aloe vera juice, laxative tea. Later on in the night I head up to the second floor of Mimi's and down some whiskey. Just what the doctor ordered.

I greet Sarah at Jimmy's Diner in Williamsburg, NYC. At many a recommendation I get a load of fried food. The onion rings are amazing; I can only eat three. Later on we head for the Satellite Lounge. It's St. Pat's Day, but we're the only ones here. It's appreciated.

At Bluestockings Bookstore Kevin and I struggle to bind pamphlets with a shitty stapler. I race to take notes for our presentation before my laptop battery dies. I lean away from the sunlight that glares through the window onto my back.

The UNC faculty and students gather with prospectives in a bar; I get chatty. I learn quickly enough that I've been caught in the day's rumor mill; no one seems to understand why I'm still undecided. I start getting courted in a way that is both flattering and undesirable. On his way out, one professor takes an approach I like better. "Let me give you the hard sell," he says to me, waving his drink dramatically in the air at nothing. He pauses, then shrugs lackadaisically. "You come here, you can't go wrong." I join in the others' laughter.

There is an intricately constructed gazebo at the Seeds Community Garden in Durham, cleverly bound together with scrap construction metal, tree branches, and glass. I sit inside alone for many long minutes, watching, listening, breathing. It's the first peaceful moment I've had in ages.

Excited chatter heard through the kitchen door at Sonya and Matt's apartment. The crowd has grown tenfold for the brunch now that noon has arrived. I crack eggs in a potato-sausage casserole, then shove the cast-iron pan into the stove for a final baking. I'm dismayed to learn that the pan's handle prevents the oven door from closing. We open a window and let the oven bake both casserole and kitchen to a toasty finish.

Sonya grips hard at my hand while Lucky works on her ankle. I keep saying "You're doing good," but she seems to hear "You doing good?" and nods fretfully each time. By the time our matching tattoos are completed, she looks in the mirror and exclaims her approval. Once we get outside, her demeanor changes. "I think I'm having tattoo regret." She wears her regret all the way home from Jamaica Plain.


Taxi from the airport to UA campus. The cabbie has all of his windows down; the deafening wind pounds at my face enough to be irritating, but I bite my lip and bear it. I pick my battles. We listen to Spanish radio and watch the desert fly by.

Conor is introducing me to everyone at a post-lecture reception. I struggle to remember names, titles. Out of the corner of my eye I see a woman in a black shawl smiling at me. She is either attracted, or amused at my fish-out-of-water scenario.

Long walk in the dead heat of daytime to an anarchist soccer game. We take our time; by the time we arrive it's pretty much ended. We drink lots of electrolyte water. Back home Conor plays Scottish folk music and I read bolo'bolo. A little later we drive as fast as we can down the roads of Gates Pass, hopping the crests of short hills, brushing by cacti.

Nighttime and I am hunting unsuccessfully for the backyard lights. The hot tub was recently repaired and I want to take advantage. Eventually I find a flashlight and slip off the cover, examining the control pad. Someone says - or I think someone says - 'Hello?' I race back into the house and lock the door. I pick my battles.