Something Of An End

At the Museum
we walk looking
at artifacts of
your love lost,
stop in front of
a canvas
spanning the wall
'Burn the Ships
in the Harbor'
your hand presses
mine and we
say innocuous things
to keep our feet moving.
Out of the room, you
tell me you misheard
a lyric and prefer it
that way.
"Don't let me fall
from heights so high,"
you whisper.
There's an exhibit
for Georges Seurat
around the corner,
but you want to
make your way
closer to ground level.
I misheard a lyric, too.
"For you I'd be myself,"
I whisper back.

With John posting all the concerts he'd been to, I thought I would as well with as much information as I can recall and in no particular order, really.
1. Chicago and The Beach Boys Summer 1987 (?) possibly in Tinley Park
2. Stevie Nicks May30, 1998 New World Music Theatre, Tinley Park
3. Styx and REO Speedwagon Summer 2000 IL State Fair
4. Oldies Show (which included Tommy Roe, Billy J. Kramer, Gary Lewis, many more) Summer 2000 IL State Fair
5. Styx and REO Speedwagon U of I campus
6. Three Dog Night Sangamon County Fair
7. The Turtles, Gary Puckett, and the Grass Roots EIU campus
8. Chicago IL State Fair
9. Gary Lewis, the Boxtops, and Blood, Sweat, and Tears St. Louis
10. Dark Star Orchestra Peoria
11. Elton John and Billy Joel April 4 2003 Savvis Center St. Louis
12. Paul McCartney April 11 2002 United Center Chicago
13. Rufus Wainwright Spring 2004 Pageant St. Louis
14. Old 97s, They Might Be Giants, Counting Crows Taste of Chicago 2003 (?)
15. The Decemberists October 18 2005 Metro Chicago
16. Colin Meloy January 23 2006 Park West Chicago
17. Belle & Sebastian March 11 2006 Riviera Theatre Chicago
18. Franz Ferdinand and Death Cab for Cutie April 19 2006 Aragon Ballroom Chicago
19. Mates of State, Spoon, and Death Cab for Cutie August 12 2006 Greek Theatre Berkeley
20. Jethro Tull, opening act Guy Davis Murat Theatre Indianapolis Summer 2004
21. Revenge of the Bookeaters August 24 2006 Park West Chicago
22. No Doubt Verizon Arena Indianapolis Summer 2004
23. Sufjan Stevens, opening act My Brightest Diamond September 23 2006 Murat Egyptian Room Indianapolis
24. Kelly Joe Phelps Illinois College campus
25. Of Montreal Fall 2005 House Cafe Dekalb

I think that's about all.


Keep Fallin'

My real complaint about grad school by Jill
For a while now, more specifically for the past year and a month or two, I've been thinking about and trying to articulate my various opinions about graduate school, specifically the Masters program in Film and Literature at Northern Illinois University. I've often bounced back and forth between feeling utterly hopeless as a grad student--that I don't belong here, that this is not what I want to do, that I'm a tourist and will be found out shortly, that I am a complete outsider in the world of academia, and feeling alright with everything and that I eventually will become a professor and will love doing it. One of the more important aspects of my inner-debate that I keep coming back to and am thinking about currently is the writing of academic papers. I am able to write very formal papers, but seldom willing to do so. I hate. Let me repeat, I really utterly depside, detest, abhor, and hate, fucking hate writing formal papers. Funny that I'm a grad student in English, you say. When I'm allowed to be somewhat informal, I feel better about writing essays. Needless to say, I have found many opportunities to write in a style that suits me throughout my academic career. I am in a course this semester that looks to be quite the opposite, so I am very much looking forward to writing a paper for that professor. Anyway, formality/informality aside, I have almost always looked at papers as simply something assigned to me. There have been some occasions where I actually wanted to write a paper, where I felt I had something to say and something to contribute to the pile of literary interpretation, but the ratio of these times to times I have had to write a paper is something like 1:10. I think my biggest (personal) issue with graduate school as a system (and I'm speaking very loosely here since all I am basing it on is my personal experience in my particular field in my particular part of the humanities in my particular university) is the writing of papers. In my ideal version of grad school that was in my head, I pictured a lot of reading and discussion. I pictured actually becoming a Master in the field in which one was studying. Devoting two to three years to really get to know your shit. To read as much as possible what's been written for and about your field of study, and to talk about it with learned people and other pupils eager to gain this knowledge. That by the time you were done, you could go to a cocktail party, and someone could ask you about post-modernism (yay for inside jokes), and you could speak knowledgably for a good amount of time without ever resorting to pulling things out of your ass. I'm alright with being tested about knowledge at the end, I'm alright with writing a thesis on something specific that you spend a lot of time on, I'm not alright with writing term papers simply because the professor can't think of a more original way to track how much you've learned and worked over the course of a semester. And let me pause here to reiterate that I'm simply writing about my opinion and experience. I'm more than willing to concede that I'm alone in my complaint here because maybe I'm just very lazy (which I am) and a slow reader (which I am) and like to complain about things (which I do) and perhaps need to always be in the position of railing against the norm around me (which is quite possible). Maybe I enjoyed my undergraduate experience because I was someone who like school in the middle of many people who were there because they were told to go there after high school, and now I'm no longer someone who is different or special and am around people who really like school. Perhaps I'm finding out that I like school because I knew my way around the system and did whatever I felt like doing within the confines of the educational system and didn't like actual jobs, and now I'm seeing that maybe I didn't really like school, I just liked doing what I wanted and the opportunity to not do work. Anyway, I want papers to be organic. I don't want to be forced and pressured to skim over various texts to find enough bullshit that supports some argument I don't really care all that much about making to fill twenty pages. And I realize that I'm papers are supposed to be organic, and that I'm supposed to read rather than skim things and really care about my argument, that I'm supposed to find something in the text I really care about arguing. But the thing is, I need more time to do that. I want to find a subject I like on my own, not because I have a deadline approaching. I then want to read everything I can find (that is not completely dull and uninteresting, in which case I will really try to read, but most likely end up skimming) on the subject, so that I actually know what I'm talking about in the paper, mull it over in my head a while until I feel confident in the matter and sincerely argue something. I want to become an expert in whatever I'm writing about so that I feel I can write about it. I'm not willing to become an expert (or even try that much) in every subject of every class I take. I admire those students who go the extra mile for every assignment and read something three times over and look up everything that they are confused about or find interesting, etc. I can't do that. Not with three classes, two sections to teach, friends to hang out with, a boyfriend to miss, TV to watch, music to listen to, movies to see, and more interesting things to read. I think I'm losing any conciseness and organization that I may have started out with here. Anyway, the point is I want to want to write papers, I want the process to be more natural, and I want to actually learn things in grad school. The whole idea of learning things just for a test or just for writing a paper has never felt more real or more appropriate than it does right now. And that just makes me sad, makes me think I'm wasting my time, and makes me want to work at a bookstore or in a videostore so that I can at least try to live up to my ideal grad school on my own. All this being said, I still think that I may feel differently about an MFA program in poetry, but I also know the odds of my being disappointed with that are pretty good. I know that I complain about grad school a lot, either in talking to people or in writing this blog, but it's something that I think about quite a bit and I can't help myself.

Riding Horses

Happy Birthday Linda!!!!

I saw a fantastic concert last night. My Brightest Diamond opened for Sufjan Stevens and his Butterfly Brigade in Indianapolis. I began looking into My Brightest Diamond after Colin Meloy recommended her (Shara Worden, it's a one-woman band) on The Decemberists' blog on Myspace. I really liked what I heard and was excited that she was opening for the very talented Mr. Stevens. She was fucking awesome live. Ms. Worden was accompanied by a string quartet, as well as a drummer and bass player for a couple of songs. She was equally adept at playing in a concert-hall style and rocking out, and has an absolutely amazing voice. I highly recommend her album Bring Me the Workhorse and seeing her live if you can. More information can be found here. Then, Sufjan Stevens took the stage with his band (including Shara Worden and her instrumentalists) all dressed in masks and wings. He played a variety of songs from Illinois, Michigan, Seven Swans, and some others. A highlight: his dedication of the eponymous song to Jacksonville (I did whoo-hoo at the mention of Nichols Park). He had a thirteen-piece band (that's what I counted anyway) including two trumpet players, one of which also brought out a piccolo trumpet. He was very gracious and gave some stories of inspiration for the songs he played. Overall, a really really fantastic night. And, we were three rows away, which was spectacular. I went up to the stage afterward when the lead trumpet player was up there putting his horns away and told him he did some awesome trumpeting and gave him thumbs-up. He said thanks and awesome and returned the thumb gesture. So yeah, everyone should go and see both My Brightest Diamond and Sufjan Stevens.


A Million Ways

I just saw a sticker on a car that read "Your girlfriend swallows." Is this really supposed to be an insult. Are we to believe that every girl who swallows is a filthy whore? Maybe the girlfriend in question simply doesn't have the presence of mind to say, maybe spit it out the car window in a toll plaza. I saw this sticker after going through a frustrating exit from the parking lot by my building on campus. They redesigned said parking lot this summer, and I'm very unhappy about it. It is now composed of mostly diagonal parking spaces, which is fine and allows for more parking spaces, but at what cost? At what cost?! There is now one more exit, but that exit is placed in such a way that I would be truly shocked if an accident didn't occur by the end of the month. And, to have an effective parking lot, there needs to be some semblance of a logical brain inside the heads of the drivers who use it. You cannot wait in the middle of an aisle for a parking space that will be available eventually. If you do not see a car with reverse lights on, you cannot sit there waiting blocking the regular flow of traffic. If you have pulled past a spot that will now be vacant, you cannot back up when there are cars behind you to pull into that spot. Once your car is far enough from a spot that you have to put it in reverse, you have forfeited all rights to that space. !!!!!! Alright, time for a shower. I have much more to write about, but I am also very dirty. And you know what that means.


Get Him Back

they told me I should give
it to them to publish---
sign the dotted line,
crossed t's and x's and all,
a year's worth of a blog.

"wouldn't that be uninteresting?
shouldn't there be something
added when moving media?"

they assured me everything
would be well and that I'd
even see a profit, the next
big thing, everyone will be
doing it - blogs on books

"don't you want to be successful?
can't you come live in the real
world with the rest of the adults?"

they ignored my reservations,
and I couldn't keep the appointments
I made with my reason and
better judgment, I went along
not knowing where I was going

"I suppose this could be worthwhile
the journey I mean, not the place we get to
I'll probably sleep when we get there"

they kept assuring me, even when
the newspapers hit the stands and
I wasn't even mentioned that day,
or the next, or the next, or the next,
not even a footnote in the histories

"we did what we could - you never
know when they'll bite and when they won't,
better luck next time, kid."

I liked how this turned out last night, but it could've been the influence of my sleep-deprived state and having just read a bit of Only Revolutions.


Something In You

Hmm...much to blog about. Benefit for 826 in Chicago, eccentricities of the state of Michigan, upcoming MZD reading in Chicago, birthday presents, musings on unconditional love, thoughts on grad school and Freudian psychology, going to Bloomington...I broke down and listened to "Summersong" from The Decemberists' yet-to-be-released album. I was going to wait until October 3rd and listen to the album as a whole, all at once. But, my infatuation with fantastic music and Colin Meloy got the better of me and now I can't stop listening to it. It is very spectacular and I can't wait for two days before both Colin and his girlfriend Carson Ellis' birthday (I'm really not a stalker). I did buy a version of the Crane Wife, the Japanese folk tale some of the songs on the album (also named the Crane Wife) are written from. It's a very interesting story and the particular book I have has absolutely gorgeous illustrations. Speaking of good music, I currently recommend "Something In You" by the Orange Peels. Oh, I now have my "media center" all hooked up and running on my computer, which means I can record TV on my computer now, among other things. This is excellent since once again the TV season consists of nights where two shows that I watch are on at the same time and of course on nights that I have class.

Let's see...last weekend I went to Springfield to celebrate my Dad's birthday (Sunday) and my birthday (this Saturday--drinking at Fatty's everyone!). It was a good weekend with no heated arguments (really surprisingly). I made a DVD from home movies which I've titled "Tiny Jill 1985." I received some good gifts, specifically the 8th season of the Simpsons and the 2nd season of House. I just need the 5th season of the Simpsons and the 1st season of House for my not-so-ridiclously-circuitous plan to be complete. That is, the plan of having all the DVDs that have been released for those two TV shows.

Short on the unconditional love, because I need to start being productive today. I've always been attracted to the idea of such a love, perhaps since I've always felt that I was subject to particularly conditional love. It's an interesting concept, for sure, though it puzzles me a bit. I'm reminded of the lyrics to an Alanis Morissette song about the subject (which she tends to write about quite a bit), "That I would be loved even when I'm not myself." But if you are loved for who you are, and I think we can all agree that that is a legitimate reason to love someone, doesn't that become a bit meaningless if you still love that person when they're not themselves? If everything that was them and that you loved suddenly irrevocably changed, wouldn't it do more justice to the original love if it ceased after this alteration? Or something like that. But then I'm reminded of another quotation: "How am I not myself?"

Something to ponder. More later.


The Skin of My Yellow Country Teeth

If memory serves, I opined that I wouldn't mind (and perhaps would like) to be a housewife-sort-of-person in some journal of the online variety. I stand by this assertion, though perhaps the proper categorization would be working-at-home. I'm thinking about this now since the past couple of days in my life have gone something like this: wake up late (thus avoiding a bit of a hangover in one case--beautiful), get around to showering whenever I feel like it, read, watch TV/movies/TV on DVD, write, listen to music, go out and buy stuff I need whever I feel like it, comment on student papers, etc. It's been a nice couple of days, though I can think of at least one thing missing from these last couple of days (namely sex...oh yeah, and the person's company as well). Anyway, I'm especially thinking of this now since I'm cooking (rigatoni-I found out I was out of penne with chicken, mushrooms, and cashews all in pesto) and blogging, listening to songs I've downloaded, and drinking V8 while cooking. I like the leisurely pace of this. And I like cooking (though I prefer to cook for more people than simply moi) and other more conventional kind of chores, though I prefer to do them in a less conventional way. So, I don't think that I'd mind if this was how I lived, for at least some part of my future. Or maybe I could teach a really light load. I don't know, something, I'm just rambling.

I am at the brink of making an important decision, though. Well, I look at it as important, though I'm sure I'll be in the minority. I think I'm going to start writing in my books, at least the ones I'm reading for school. I have always belonged to the school of thought that the books you read should stay in near-immaculate condition. So, I have never really marked up by books in any way. Maybe the occasional underlining of a quote (in pencil) or folding corners of pages to indicate important passages, but nothing else. But, I think I will now feel free to write all sorts of crap in the margins, underlining, etc. I'm hoping it will make me more scholarly. We'll see how it works. Anyway, time to eat.

Parliament Square

So it's been a little while since I posted, and there's much to write about, but I think I just want to accomplish two things in this particular post. First, I finally got around to finishing up a CD for my friend John, and I'm pretty proud of it. So, the track listing:

Jump Up and Down!
1. A Million Ways by Ok Go
2. The Lady from Riems by Reclinerland featuring Colin Meloy
3. Give Me Just a Little More Time by Chairman of the Board
4. Keep It Comin' Love by KC and the Sunshine Band
5. Question by Old 97's
6. (This Is) the Dream of Evan and Chan by Dntel featuring Ben Gibbard
7. Baby's On Fire by Venus in Furs
8. Retour a Vega by the Stills
9. Ugly Girl by Fleming and John
10. Children Go Where I Send You by Nina Simone
11. What Goes On by Sufjan Stevens
12. They by Jem
13. Thriller by Ben Gibbard
14. Human Behavior by the Decemberists
15. Nowhere Again by the Secret Machines
16. Dakota by Stereophonics
17. Empire State by All-Time Quarterback
18. Here It Goes Again by Ok Go
19. Juicebox by the Strokes
20. Stagger Lee by Lloyd Price
21. Song for Jedi by Dionysos
22. Once Around the Block by Badly Drawn Boy

I also made a compilation of the Decemberists for my Shakespeare and His Rivals seminar professor. This promises to be a good class, and I need to read The Taming of the Shrew at some point after I post this. The other thing: I just wrote a prosey-kind-of-poem that I'm not sure about, but I figured I'd post it in the excitement of just writing something. As always, feedback is welcome and appreciated.

In the Winter
as the smoke hangs off
the end of cigarettes
and the streets are
comparable to your
sophomore-year girlfriend,
frigid and empty,
you spend the hours
in a falsely-lit cafe
reading, but not escaping,
ever-present in your current
surroundings, your eyes
only following the words,
your hands blankly
turning pages.
The book is just an excuse
to feel literary while coffee
sits at your table,
to eavesdrop on the couple
occupying the more comfortable chairs.
"Did you know that the days
are continually getting logner?"
But what do they know?
You've seen that exhibit
at the planetarium too.
And your brain wanders away,
down the pier where that
space museum sits, jumping off,
out in the freezing water,
down to the bottom of the lake.
The light disappears as you look
to the surface, people pass by
and look down, but
no one comes in,
it's too cold outside to
practice lifeguarding.
A little girl waves, and
you return the gesture,
minus four fingers.
Someday things will work
out in your daydreams, you think
and it's so sweet.
The scent of patchouli
brings you back inside to
the wooden chairs and tables
(all but the two the
lovers are presently taking
away from everyone else)
and back to the book you're not reading
and never will.
One of these days you'll actually
read books, you think
and it's so easy to lie.