I am not to speak to you-I am to think of you when I sit alone, or wake at night alone-Walt Whitman

This is to all the people who don't have Valentine's day plans, who haven't had valentine's day plans for a few years, this is to the beautiful young teacher I met yesterday who plans on getting drunk with her girlfriends this weekend and singing karaoke, this is to all the men who for whatever reason never called back, this is to all the men I almost spoke to, but was afraid of what they would think of me, this is to all the men who have wanted to speak to me, who have looked at me and pondered what to say and then decided for whatever reason it was better to be silent, this is to all the girls I wish I could love, but unfortunately biology has overwhelmed me, this is to all the men that I had to walk away from, this is to being so heartbroken that even eighties songs sound profound, this is to the hopeful rush of every new phone number pressed into a hand...this is to all of you.

36. S'io credesse per morte essere scarco

If I believed in dying I could free myself
from amorous thoughts that bind me to the earth,

I would already have laid these loathsome limbs

and their burden in the earth myself:

but because I fear to find a passage

from tears to tears, and one war to another,

I remain in the midst, alas, of staying and crossing

on this side of the pass that is closed to me.

There has been enough time now

for the merciless bow to fire its final arrow

bathed and dyed already with others blood:

yet Love does not take me, or that deaf one

who has painted me with her own pallor,

and still forgets to call me to her.

( Please note I have spliced some of Robert Durling's translation into the one I used from here.)

From a contemporary poet of Petrarch who also loved a lady:

And what, my song, will ever be of me
in the sweet season new, when from all skies
a rain of love descends upon the earth,
when even in this frost
love lives in me alone, and nowhere else?
Surely I will become a man of marble
if this my maiden for a heart has marble.

( For the rest of the poem-or the poem in the original Italian-go here)

But of course, when it comes to bittersweet love, I think we all agree you can't beat Parker:

The Lady's Reward

Lady, lady, never start
Conversation toward your heart;
Keep your pretty words serene;
Never murmur what you mean.
Show yourself, by word and look,
Swift and shallow as a brook.
Be as cool and quick to go
As a drop of April snow;
Be as delicate and gay
As a cherry flower in May.
Lady, lady, never speak
Of the tears that burn your cheek-
She will never win him, whose
Words had shown she feared to lose.
Be you wise and never sad,
You will get your lovely lad.
Never serious be, nor true,
And your wish will come to you-
And if that makes you happy, kid,
You'll be the first it ever did.

(For a more complete collection of rhyme and cycnicism go here)

Or perhaps, put most bluntly by Sandra Bernhardt in one of her cabaret acts.

"I just want you to know that when you wake up in the middle of night terrified that you might be alone-remember you ARE alone."

Or more humorously put by Lily Tomlin "If love is the answer, you are going to have to rephrase the question."

Happy Valentine's Day!

"Hell hath no limits, nor is it circumscribed
In one self place. But where we are is hell,
and where hell is there must we ever be."

Mephostophilis Marlowe's The Tragical History of Dr. Faustus Act I Scene V

Again my two o'clock class was horrifyingly quiet. I mean painfully and upsettingly quiet. I don't want to give them another essay question, but really, I don't know what else to do. I ask questions. I make comments. I call on them. My other class we barely got through three pages of the reading. For the two o'clock it was all I had to stretch my comments on the essay out for the whole class. Any ideas on how to get kids engaged in a discussion about Paolo Feire's concepts of education?

Anyone? Anyone?

And now for some gratuitious promotion

Last thursday I went to the opening of the Terrible Toy Fair II. Now to be sure, and I will probably get in trouble for saying this, some of the stuff is predictable-hacked up baby dolls or baby dolls painted with red "blood", but the majority of the work is amazing and at the very least entertaining. The mutilated furbys, the "cynthomatic" vending machine, and the tribute to a Clockwork Orange were among some of my favorites. But I'm not going to describe the whole thing to you because then you won't go. To see the terrible toys, go to the CBCG Art Gallery located on 313 Bowery ( click on the link for gallery hours). The show runs from now until the 28th. It might even make for a very unconventional Valentine's Day date.

My "New York Life"

Last week I was talking to my students before class and one of them asked about my weekend. I chatted about the people I had met and some of the things I had done. Finally another one of my students said "You really have the new york life." I asked her what she meant. "Well you meet all these cool people, and you go to all these places."
Now generally I think of my life as a sucking hostile wasteland of desolation, but I began to think about it. Among my friends I can count a former oxford scholar who was friends with, of all people, Henri Langois ( he worked with Langois at the Cinematheque) and worked for Coco Chanel, a professional dominatrix/fashion consultant, a writer for the show "Whoopi", an electrocrystalographer getting his PhD at Mt. Sinai, and the worst Buddhist in the tri-state area. I've managed to date ( or at the very least fool around with) in the span of three months: Joss Whedon's college roommate, a former professional athlete and current ESPN broadcaster, a crazy Russian novelist, the brother of a gay guy I fooled around with once, and a guy who dresses every day as if it was 1939.
So I guess my hostile sucking wasteland is at least very "New York" sucking hostile wasteland.

A Very New York Moment from My Very New York Life

So these two ideas culminated in one experience on Thursday night. I was at the Toy Fair with someone who shall remain nameless (mainly because to be named in here seems to be to court destruction so we shall attempt to protect the poor thing-he is,after all, dating me, which is enough destruction for one person), and I see this big rockabilly guy. I mean, he had the waist length hair, the shirt open to the navel with the big cross tattoos on his chest, the leather cowboy hat with the jolly roger on the front, the whole look. So I jokingly said to my date "I should get him to stand behind me in class and not say anything, just stand there the whole time and look menacing." Well my date thought this was such a good idea that he insisted I go up and ask. He pushed and pulled and threatened but I wouldn't ask. I was too shy, too embarassed that this rockabilly would hate me or maybe just kill me and eat me. So the rockabilly actually sits down next to us (fate, destiny, kismet if you will) and my date leans over and says "Can we pay you three cases of the beer of you choice to stand in a college english class and look menacing?" And the response?

"My father was an english professor at Seyton Hall for 37 years."

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