"[My relationships were] like I was in these movies where the script was only half-written. When I’d get to the end of this half-script, the other actors wanted me to ad lib. But I had never gotten the hang of that. That’s why these movies were always box-office failures. Six of them in the past twenty years. I always blew the lines." ~ from my horrible first novel "Learn How To Pretend." (unpublished)(obviously)

Thursday, April 30, 2009

Monday, April 27, 2009

OK, and this one too

Another Daily Kos post....

Questions to that half of Texas' Republicans
by kos
Fri Apr 24, 2009 at 08:31:31 AM PDT

So we now know that half of Texas' Republicans want to secede from the United States. So I have some questions for that crowd:

* Are you flying an American flag? Because you don't get to do that when you cry and take your ball home.

* Do you have a bumper sticker that says, "These colors don't run"? Because it sure looks like you're running.

* Do you still pretend that your party is the "Party of Lincoln"? If so, what part of Lincoln exactly, would that be?

* Since you've spent the last eight years saying "America, love it or leave it", is that an admission that you don't love America? Because we liberals? We loved it and stayed, even when your idiot of a president was trashing the place.

* Was your patriotism (My country, right or wrong) so skin-deep, that it depended 100 percent on the guy in the White House?

* That $200 billion Texas got in defense contracts between 2000 and 2007? No more of that. No more Ft. Hood. No more NASA. No more federal largesse. You okay with that?

* You do realize that the Cowboys will no longer be "America's Team", right? Though they'd dominate the two-team Texas Football League (TFL).

Saturday, April 25, 2009


Originally uploaded by rraabfaber
Another shot below the bridge


Originally uploaded by rraabfaber
Taken below the Alameda Bridge. I liked the mix of reflections and grafitti.

One last official bit of news.... for now

I just opened the letter from the English Department awarding me summa cum laude based on my thesis "Not What I Wanted To Be When I Grew Up: Stories of the American Working-Class In a Post-9/11 Economy." I'm quite pleased.

What is the message?

What are they saying here? Fight with Canadian Forces? or Fight alongside Canadian Forces?


I like to walk my dog down around Alameda Bridge. I spotted this goose for the first time about three weeks ago, sitting on an little bit of island, twenty feet off the bank. It didn't occur to me that she was sitting a nest until last Sunday when we went back and she was still there. I'm anxious to see the goslings now. Anybody know how long it takes?

Heart of the City

Sandia mountains from the Bosque
I guess when most people think of "the heart of the city," they think of a vibrant downtown area. They certainly don't think of the mockery of downtownery* that Burque boasts. For me, the heart of our city is the Rio Grande bosque. (The Sandias are the lungs, downtown is the spleen, and Cottonwood Mall is the diseased colon.) There is something about having this natural area that is surrounded by development that is oddly comforting ad therapeutic. For those of us transriparian commuters, there is a daily jolt of nature as we cross the bridges, looking up or down river and seeing that stunning beauty, hearing that call.

For me it's also a reminder of the impermanence of our time here. Of all cities, Albuquerque is one that is in a constant battle to keep from being reclaimed by the land. There is a semi-circle of land, across the road from Cibola High School and just down the road from me, where I walk the dog most mornings. As we walk through it, we leave tracks, shoe prints and paw prints. There are invariably a series of criss-crossed trails from the three jackrabbits that live there, along with those of lizards, quail, roadrunner and deer mice. On the mornings after a windy evening, we find the tracks erased, trash and debris lie half-buried.

The above photo was shot about two miles from my house. There's a McDonalds and a Pep Boys, and a Hooters less than a mile away. I don't know. Like I said, I find it comforting to know that I can just zip down there and get a dose of sanity. I think we need to have more green areas -- more mini-Open Spaces -- scattered throughout the city. Reclaimed lots that are seeded with a few native species, but otherwise left to revert to their natural state.

That's all I got.

*Yes, I've just coined a new term there. "Downtownery" Dibs on it. "Downtownery" is (c)2009 D. Chingadero Sr. Esq. All rights and Alrights! reserved.


I ran across this photo on the Tumblog "This Isn't Happiness" and it reminded me of a thought I had a few weeks back.

Right now, in my pocket, I have easily this many albums -- maybe more. Plus a novel. And several dozen radio programs.

Imagine telling this bootlegging fellow that I could carry 20 continuous days worth of music, PLUS some TV programs, PLUS a movie or two, PLUS four or five novels, PLUS a telephone, in one pants pocket? Back then, you might have been able to put the phone receiver in your pocket, but when I was a kid, our phone was wall mounted. And you had to dial the phone -- 10 miles each way!.

And he's probably jazzed because he's going to get 45 minutes of crappy sound on one side of a reel-to-reel.

I'm not trying to sound like some old coot who thinks that these spoiled rotten kids today are, uh, spoiled rotten. I think the fact that I can carry all that in one pocket totally kicks ass and I take complete advantage of it!

But I was also thinking that, back in the days of the 45rpm record, listening was a much more interactive experience. You didn't click on a playlist and tune out what you were listening to. You sat there and listened to a two-minute record and then you changed it. And you did it with friends. And maybe, when the record was new, you could get the adapter to still stay in the record, and you could stack a few on the changer. but it was still not much more than ten or twelve records.

Homage to Roy Orbison

by Irene McKinney

If I can touch the voice of Roy Orbison
singing "only in dreams" and if I can

swallow the sweet pudding of his song
then why shouldn't a piece of music

fill in for human contact? Maybe it does
for a second or two, but life is long, or we are,

in our minds, and the singing we do gives us
a taste and not a meal. And what would

happen without it? Would we reconcile
since there would be no contrast, no lift of

Roy's dulcet tones to guide us up to immense
heights of one-pointed ecstasy? So why not sing

as hard and deep as we can? Why not feel out
the song-nerve and trace its trajectory?

I think that in the voice's rise
and wail we finally wake and hear the voice

of an angel. "Sweet dreams baby" Roy throbs.
If so, we go past abrasions and promontories

of broken stony sounds, and emerge up here
where the guitar is a guru, and where Roy's

sweetness is the rule and his sense of form
shapes up this shard-filled life. "Move on

down the line." So there, do it, dance in
a strange way and who cares. When the

listeners judge by their sweetness gauge
and their sucked-in breath at "crying over

you," will anyone care that he dyed his
black hair and had false teeth? I thrash

and shout like a teenage girl for the duration
of the song. "I got a woman mean as she

can be." (I think that's me.) He told me
that anything I wanted he would
give it to me, and you know? He did.

From Writer's Almanac for Saturday Apr. 25, 2009 "Homage to Roy Orbison" by Irene McKinney, from Vivid Companion. © Vandalia Press, 2004.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

My MFA Journey: TAship offered

This is sort of putting the cart before the horse chronologically, but here goes.

For those of you who are not familiar with the workings of a Creative Writing MFA program, your goal is to get through it spending as little money as possible. Ideally, you will get paid to do it. One of the prime ways this will happen is to get awarded a Teaching Assistantship. (Note that programs like UT Austin, which has the Michener Fellowship, pay you — I believe about $20,000/9 months — to go to school and do nothing but write! These are pretty rare, however, so most people go the TAship route.

I got my letter today from UNM, offering me a TAship. This was, I got to tell you, a major relief for me. The deal is fairly good, and this is how it works. The agreement stipulates that you teach two course sections per semester. However, for the first semester, you teach English 101 and take a Pedagogy class (Freshman Compsition) which is treated as though you are teaching. In the second semester, you teach two course sections of English 102.

After that, depending on your reviews, you may be allowed to teach other lower lever writing courses, including 200 level creative writing. Or, you may opt out of teaching a section by working in another assistantship position.

For your dogged service, you get FULL TUITION REMISSION. That’s right. You don’t pay for school, and that is pretty rockin’ in my book. Especially for a degree that is not a known money-maker. But wait! There’s more! Because if you order before midnight tonight, you’ll also receive this handy SALARY. It’s not huge, but it’s not too bad. (I haven’t mentioned this yet, but until a year and a half ago, I was making $50k a year — this is a bit of a dip for me.) But that’s not all, because they’re also giving me FREE HEALTHCARE! (Which was the other thing I lost when I quit my previous job.)

Now, that being said, teaching classes is not a walk in the park. I’ve heard people say that it was a major strain on their learning experience. Some might say it’s almost worth it to pay for the school, but here’s my take on things. For the first three and a half years that I was in school, I worked full-time and managed and managed an advertising department. I was even a single parent for the first few years and kept a decent GPA through the whole thing.

I think I can handle it.