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getting performance

March 29th, 2010 by slewfoot

Music: Fields of the Nephilim: Dawnrazor (1987)

While I’ve mostly been focused on writing a textbook, I’ve been tinkering on the scholarly book as well. Rosechron readers may recall the book is about “the haunting of speech,” and heavily informed by Derrida and Lacan in almost equal measure. It also takes inspiration from performance theory, especially the work of Peggy Phalen, Diana Taylor, and Ann Cvetkovich. It’s my hope, in fact, that “cultural performance” or “performance studies” might appear on the back cover.

I confess, however, Richard Schechner’s work drives me nuts. All those damn diagrams!

Anyhoo, today I tinkered on a chapter that started off as a media ecology driven analysis (lots of Walter Ong), but ended up as a performance theory piece. I thought I would offer a tease:

On Speech Recording


I buried my mother in February 2002. My sister asked me to organize and conduct the service for my mother’s funeral. . . . Several weeks later my sister sent me an audiotape of the service. I had no idea that the memorial service had been taped. Frankly, I was horrified. . . . I didn’t want to hear my voice, the auditory tracings of my lightheadedness, my disengagement as a strategy of control . . . my voice as tracing.

–Ronald E. Sheilds (379-380)

Mourning metes speech. Not all the time, of course, but usually. In this sense Sheild’s moving mystory on the gestures of grieving is witness to the archiving of speech. His horror concerns the drive toward death that recording represents: he does not wish to hear himself repressing pain or how he cordoned off affect in script. His horror is not so much about the revival of grief as it is the way in which recording amplifies the process of putting-away, of making distant, of archiving. Simply and doubly stated, the recording of speech turns up the disassociative machinations of meaning. Perhaps this is why hearing a recording of one’s own voice is frequently an unnerving experience of self-alienation, as if we are somehow auditing our own demise.

As is the case with the trace, the traumatic truth of the taped tongue is the condition of all performance, a sort-of-lie of liveness: it is meaningful, “but never for the first time. It means: for the second and nth time” as a kind of “twice-behaved behavior” (Schechner 36). Any doing is meaningful retroactively, and not in negation, but rather in relation (see Wilden, 155-195). Such a definitional gesture situates performance as an echo of trauma. Thereby, performance as “restored behavior” is simply what Freud termed Nachträglichkeit, the “afterwardness” or “belatedness” of the attribution of meaning in the wake of a shocking or traumatic event (“From a History” 7-122; also see Rickert 8-32). As a kind of fixing repetition, recording—at least analogue recording, the kind that hisses back at us—intones a time delay.

At some level, Sheilds’ horror echoes a well-known anxiety about recording among (some) performance studies practitioners. It reflects an unwillingness to forswear presence and admit a belatedness, the temporal delay central to all knowing. Recording unavoidably delivers affect to meaning/the signifier and, consequently, runs roughshod over those romantic fantasies of “tracelessness” and “liminality” that we tend to ascribe to important, performance events, like a funeral service or a spiritual awakening or a rousing aesthetic spectacle (Phalen 148-149; McKenzie 8-9). This is not to deny there are embodied experiences outside the domain of the symbolic (e.g., Massumi 1-28). It is to say, however, that as a form of inscription, making a record “succeeds in separating the source of ‘knowledge’ from the knower” in way that displaces affective relationality into what we might simply term “text” (Taylor 19). In other words, where embodied experience is concerned, words inevitably get in the way.

Because it reflects a fear of fixity, I suggest that recording anxieties are fundamentally anxieties about speech as such, and that voice recordings work to amplify those anxieties. Derrida’s well-known critique of phonocentrism identifies speech is as yet another form of inscription or recording (Derrida, Of Grammatology 18-26). Ong’s work shows us how innovations in media technology, such as that of sound recording, tend to amplify the voice’s presence effects. Both thinkers help us to discern better what it is about the human voice that gives it such a special, ontotheological status, something that the example of sound recording helps us to hear more clearly.

What is the special status of speech, and what is the relationship of that special status to sound recording? Why does this relationship impinge on how we think about performance, broadly construed? To answer these and related questions, I’ll riff between two conspicuous cultural performances of recorded speech, electronic voice phenomena (or “EVP” as it is known among enthusiasts) and backmasking. EVP is the practice of recording ambient noise to capture the voices of ghosts, and backmasking is the practice of playing sound recordings backwards in search of secret messages. Complimenting Derrida and Ong’s theories of presence with psychoanalysis, I suggest that EVP, backmasking, and related recording practices are motivated by two powerful desires: a profound, affective ambivalence toward human speech, and an appetite toward preservation or what Derrida terms “archive fever” (Archive 91-95). Together, I argue that the love/fear of speech and the archival impulse comprise the affective precondition for acoustic or “vocalic projection,” which concerns the way in which a person attributes presence and meaning to sounds. I conclude by suggesting that to perform is to cry.

it’s synth-pop friday!

March 26th, 2010 by slewfoot

don’t-tread-on-me fundamentalism

March 25th, 2010 by slewfoot

Coldplay: Viva La Vida Or Death And All His Friends (2008)


While I was traveling in beautiful Louisiana, apparently there was much going on in the wide world of “news” surrounding the health care bill pushed through by the Obama administration. Politicians supporting the bill were called “baby killers” and statesmen of color were hailed by the n-word. A number of lawmakers have received death threats, in tweets and faxes, and to top it off Sarah Palin is urging her fans to “reload” as she visually targets democratic opponents.

What is going on?

I know I’m not the only one who finds the weaponry talk disturbing, riding the wave of cultural assassination fantasy as it does (but with the misdirection of “campaign-as-war is commonplace” excuse). I think Jim Aune makes a very compelling case for worry in his Obamanon conference paper, “Obama’s Two Bodies.” I won’t rehearse his paper here, but I encourage folks to read it because of the “deeper narrative” he hints at in conclusion. If I might extend an explanation: the symbolic body of Obama, as much as the symbolic body of Palin, is superegoic in character.

Mark Edmundson’s highly accessible explanation of Freud’s insights on group psychology a few years ago is helpful. In Freud’s later work, he advanced the “secondary topography” of ego, id, and superego to explain the economy of motive. The “id” of impulsive, primal desire is held in check by the superego, internalized codes of right and wrong. The “ego” has to hold these two competing forces in check, as well as the demands of external reality. To be a paradigm person is to be, at base, in constant conflict with oneself. Sleep is usually our most cherished relief from such conflicts, as are various intoxicants that relax, for whatever reason, the exacting conformity demanded by the superego. Booze is a good example: it somehow deadens guilt and inhibition . . . .

Anyway, as Edmundson suggests, Freud’s conjectures about group behavior go something like this: a powerful leader is able to substitute his or her symbolic self (the second body, as it were) for the superego, as if he or she were a kind of intoxicant. Political leaders often do this: Obama certainly did during his campaign, as do most demagogues. To say that we fall in love with our favored leaders is not far off the mark: when we are moved by a lover, we often adopt their own wishes and desires as our own. Or in a more Lacanian fashion, desire is the desire of the Other.


When a political leader succeeds, however temporarily, in usurping the role of the superego for a group, previously impermissible behaviors become permissible. Inciting a “riot” is a good example: people become violent when they normally would not. It’s even possible, Freud suggested, for a group to fashion its own superegoic agency—but this will be short-lived. Freud argued that most “crowd” behavior will eventually peter-out without a figure to focus its energy. In other words, the “swarm” will dissipate. It needs a leader to focus its codes, or the individual superegos of individuals will return to censure the id.

Whatever you think of Freud, he gives us a vocabulary to talk about the current political atmosphere: when we have racist violence breaking out, when we have death threats leveled at lawmakers, previously impermissible behaviors are felt to be permissible, at least “in the moment.”

It seems to me the recent verbal (and in some cases, physical) violence around the “Don’t Tread on Me” flags is a good example of the formation of a collective superego. So, too, of course, is the Teabagger movement, and these two groups seem to bleed into one another. It’s already been noted that the focal point of this ebbing formation is the (symbolic) body of Obama—many papers at the recent Obama conference at Texas A&M were about precisely this (“race” is certainly code for a body).

It is in this Freudian context that we should understand Palin’s recent appeals: ” Commonsense Conservatives & lovers of America: ‘Don’t Retreat, Instead – RELOAD!’ Pls see my Facebook page.” Most journalists reporting on the Palin “crosshairs” sense what she is doing, as does just about anyone with a pulse. As with most politicians, she is inserting herself into this superegoic embodiment. The troubling difference is precisely that she is “rogue”: she is no longer constrained by the norms of political office—norms that would condemn any recourse to weaponry metaphor. Incitement? Not quite. It’s called transference. And it’s scary.

I get the sense that MSM journalists believe the increasingly visible don’t-tread-on-me formation (larger than the Teabagger group, IMHO) is a fringe (counter)public. Many of us in the academy are a bit more worried, and I think for good reason. If this sentiment continues to build, the affect will focus on a figure. I’m not convinced Palin is strong or smart enough to embody it—but deity forbid someone steps forward who is.

from incivility to schadenfreude

March 22nd, 2010 by slewfoot

Music: Robyn Hitchcock: Queen Elvis (1989)

Over the past week leaders in my professional organization, the National Communication Association, were beset with more critical emails from disgruntled members (details are here and here). Perhaps the most damning letter was the one drafted by Art Bochner and posted by Bill Baltrhop in this CRTNET post, which is signed by five past NCA presidents! The letter notes the lack of trust among the Executive Council, NCA staff, and President Braithwaite, the illegitimacy of the appointment of Bach, and calls for the Legislative Assembly to be empowered to conduct a review and recommended policy.


Today or tomorrow another letter will post to CRTNET, expertly penned by Rosechron regular Bryan McCann, that urges members to phone this year’s conference hotels to pressure them to resolve a heated labor dispute. The letter also encourages those members of NCA who wish to honor the labor union’s efforts to secure benefits and health care for the hotel staff to sign a petition. By signing the petition, one is agreeing not to attend or register for the conference if an amicable settlement is not reached by the union and the conference hotels. (I have signed this petition.)


Things have gone from bad to worse for the national office. I am a strong admirer of how Lynn Turner has been handling these crises, and I know my and others’ criticisms of the current and past presidents and national directors do not make her job easier. At the same time, the incompetence and lack of (ethical) common sense by these unquestionably well-meaning people has caused thousands of folks to become witness to an implosion drama—a drama that has been described as “uncivil” by both Bach and Kidd.

I’ve been wanting to blog about the use of the conception of “civility” by Bach and others for weeks now, but the usual shuffle-o’-busy has gotten in the way. I don’t have a lot of time to fill this out and am only stating the obvious here, but: disagreement and critique is civility, if we understand civility to mean “good citizenship.” Rooted in the Latinate conception, civilitas, civility references behaving as a good citizen would. In history classes we’ve been teaching civil disobedience for decades, and in my field debate has been taught since the 1920s as crucial for public deliberation. So, even in its most basic sense disagreeing with cronyism and calling on our professional leaders to behave ethically—even in angry tones—is civil.

Of course, I think what Bach and Kidd mean by “civility” is a much newer notion: politeness. Civility didn’t take on this connotation until the 16th century, and in some sense this coincided with the emergence of the conception of “publics” or the “public sphere.” What is amusing to me is how oblivious Kidd, Bach and others who evoke “civility” as a requirement seem to the research done in our field on civility. To evoke the concept as a requirement for communication is to ignore a big (and foundational) flank of the field: rhetorical studies. Indeed, one of the basic pickles of democratic theory and for those who study publics and counter publics concerns the ways in which various norms of civility, propriety, decorum, and so forth do the dirty work of ideology. For example, the most recent critique of “invitational rhetoric” by my friends and colleagues Nina and Dana helpfully rehearses decades of discussion and criticism about notions of public deliberation and civility. “Civility,” they conclude, “should not be advocated as a stance for feminists or others struggling for change.” This is because the “polite” conception of civility masks inequality. To be civil, they argue, communicators must be equal, and history teaches us this is rarely (if ever) the case, even if it is a worthy ideal. “Unfortunately,” history teaches us, “invitation and civility are as likely to be bludgeons of the oppressor as resources for the oppressed. . . . The cause of justice may not need a theory of invitation but rather a theory of the uncivil tongue.”


The problem with how Bach, Braithwaite, and Kidd (mis)handled the appointment of Bach is that it models—textbook style—the way in which those in power use civility (sometimes in the form of Robert’s rules) to silence, oppress, and shut-down conversation. Incivility is clearly code for simple “disagreement,” however polite or dirty.


Because this dramatic display in my national organization is so parodic (almost like a sit-com), my worry is no longer a refusal to try on the basis of outrage, which itself has become formulaic. Rather, my concern is that the longer the Criminal Three dig their heels in, the more and more they offer themselves up to the sublimity of Schadenfreude, the jollies we get from the misfortunes of others. I suspect this is the fear of the Executive Committee, that rather than get upset and demand change, the NCA membership is finding the whole situation rather amusing, even comical, like a Ray Stevens song (dunno Ray? Click here). The trouble with a bemused membership, of course, is that our professional organization no longer can fulfill its mission. The problem with a bemused membership is that it becomes fun to watch the thing implode.


Too many people care about this organization (including myself) for it to fail, and too many folks I admire and respect have worked hard to make NCA stronger. As fun as it is to sit back and enjoy the show, I hope more and more folks will continue to put pressure on the leadership to right their wrongs and put this ship back on course.

(another) open letter to NCA members

March 22nd, 2010 by slewfoot

Dear Colleagues,

Like the rest of you, we are looking forward to the upcoming NCA convention in San Francisco. We anticipate many excellent opportunities to reconnect with colleagues and friends. It will also be a chance to engage in the kind of intellectual work that keeps our discipline vibrant and relevant. And all of this will take place in one of America’s great, historically progressive cities.

However, as many of you are no doubt aware, a labor dispute threatens to compromise the ability of many NCA members to attend this year’s conference. As NCA First Vice President Lynn Turner recently informed us, one of this year’s conference hotels, the Hilton San Francisco Union Square, is the target of a labor-related boycott that may soon give way to a strike. The hotel is a frequent target of rallies and pickets that NCA members will be forced to cross if a resolution does not take place by November (for a video of these pickets, see http://is.gd/av7oH). The other conference hotel, the Parc 55 San Francisco, also faces a potential boycott. This situation is due to the failure of hotel management to negotiate a mutually satisfactory labor contract with the hotel workers’ union UNITE HERE. A particularly acute matter of concern is the status of health and retirement benefits under the new contract. As a result, UNITE HERE is asking sympathetic customers to abstain from patronizing the Hilton.

We are pleased that Professor Turner and NCA President Dawn Braithwaite have taken early steps to alert the membership of this situation. They are currently in dialogue with the hotel and union in hopes of reaching a resolution that will allow all NCA members to attend the conference without having to violate a union boycott. We also believe that there is a role for all interested NCA members to play. We recognize that the last time NCA confronted a labor boycott against its convention site in San Diego, members were faced with difficult decisions and engaged in heated debates over our institutional identity and appropriate courses of action. While those of us who participated in that year’s “UNconvention” remain proud of our efforts and cherish the experience, we have no desire to repeat 2008. NCA members will undoubtedly have differing opinions about what steps NCA should take in the face of this current controversy. We may also disagree on the merits of UNITE HERE’s positions and strategies. It is our hope, however, that we can share a desire to see all NCA members who wish to attend this year’s conference do so without choosing between their professional and ethical commitments. For this reason, we are asking our fellow NCA members to contact the Hilton San Francisco Union Square and the Parc 55 San Francisco and encourage them to arrive at a resolution with their employees. You may call the Hilton at 415-771-1400 and the Parc 55 at 415-392-8000.

For those who will not attend NCA without a resolution to the current labor dispute: We ask that you sign the petition, linked here: http://is.gd/aOKIR. This petition is intended to express the intentions of NCA members in the wake of this labor dispute. We will deliver the document to NCA membership well in advance of the conference registration deadline. We have already informed Professor Turner of our intention to collect names of members who would not attend NCA in the case of an ongoing labor dispute, and she indicated she would be pleased to learn of members’ plans. Thus, by adding your signature and expressing your intentions, you are allowing the NCA leadership to have a very clear and tangible sense of how labor disputes at site hotels affect members and conference attendance.

At last year’s NCA in Chicago, many members engaged in lively discussions about the appropriate role of politics in our organization. Indeed, these are important and enriching conversations that we should continue to have. We draft this letter in the spirit of continuing this and other important exchanges. In the interest of a spirited and well-attended conference in November, please contact our hosts and encourage them to resolve this current impasse.

Sincerely,

Adria Battaglia, University of Texas at Austin

Dana Cloud, University of Texas at Austin

Kathleen Feyh, University of Texas at Austin

Joshua Gunn, University of Texas at Austin

Michelle Hammers, Loyola Marymount University

Kristen Hoerl, Butler University

Casey Kelly, Butler University

Ashley Mack, University of Texas

Bryan McCann, Marian University

Charles Morris, III, Boston College

Jon Simons, Indiana University

Amy Young, Pacific Lutheran University

it’s synth-pop friday!

March 19th, 2010 by slewfoot

badass burfdee weekend

March 15th, 2010 by slewfoot

Music: Grafton Primary: Eon (2008)

It is always just a smidge depressing when turning a year older. My special day of arrival on the planet has always fallen on spring break, and so, I have frequently done little to nothing. Thanks to the recession, however, a lot of folks have not left town and so I got to party a bit. Yay! This Saturday I celebrated my tenth 27th year old anniversary with plenty of food and friends and . . . chicken shit!

The birthday celebration started with dinner and drinks at one of my favorite restaurants. It was nice to see so many folks out and enjoying margaritas. I scored a special armadillo, who was frequently getting into mischief. I also scored a number of cucumber margaritae (which were strangely not as strong as they normally are, so, you know, we had to drink more). Then we capped the night with a cigar at NOMAD.

On Sunday the party didn’t stop. Christopher and I checked out the views at Mt. Bonell, and then he showed me a secret hiking and climbing spot I didn’t know about. The traffic for SXSW was a bit insane, but getting to the trails we spied a kite festival in Zilker park (I’ve never seen so many kites in the sky at once).

After a very short hike, we trucked it over to Ginny’s Longhorn Saloon to catch Dale Watson and play some Chicken Shit Bingo. Basically, for two bucks you get a ticket with a number. If the chicken shits on your number, you get like $100. I had no idea this was such a big deal; people were camped out all around this tiny bar—the music was blasting, and big biker dudes were out back showing off their Harleys. It was a lot of fun.

A few of us topped off the weekend with some Thai food at Satay. Christopher and I finished off the evening watching the original Clash of the Titans (so bad) and Demon Seed (even worse). It was a lovely weekend. Thanks so much to folks who came out to celebrate with me and buy me margaritae—y’all rock! (A gallery of the weekend is here).

Alas, I’m back to work today. On tap: “speaking to inform.” Meh.

it’s synth-pop friday!

March 12th, 2010 by slewfoot

Fischerspooner “The Best Revenge” from SUBVOYANT on Vimeo.

our national obduracy

March 10th, 2010 by slewfoot

Music: The Orb: The Orb’s Adventures Beyond the Ultraworld (1989)

A number of folks have asked my opinion concerning NCA Executive Director Nancy Kidd’s response to charges of cronyism. Readers may recall I posted an open letter, here and to our professional organization’s listserv, calling into question Kidd’s choice of Betsy Bach for a staff position directing research initiatives. As former president of the organization, Bach pushed for Kidd to become the director of research. Now that Kidd is the executive director, she has appointed Bach as her replacement for director of research. From just about any vantage you come at this, the move does not look good and is embarrassing to the organization.

In her long, 35-paragraph letter, Kidd apologizes only for the strange way in which the announcement of the appointment was made. The apology seems insincere, however, as she blames individual members of the Executive Committee for the announcement’s delay. Kidd only offers two paragraphs in support of Bach’s qualifications, using the bulk of her letter, instead, to explain how she followed NCA by-laws to the letter. The larger argument she advances is that the national debacle really has to do with the failure of the Executive Council to “speak as one body.” If one wades through all the verbiage, Kidd seems to suggest the Executive Council embodied widely differing views, and consequently, she looked to the association President, Dawn Braithwaite, as the ultimate voice of the EC. Kidd believes she has been treated disrespectfully and that the EC is guilty of sarcasm and incivility.

Of course, there are two major problems with Kidd’s rationale. First, she wants it both ways: while she demands loyalty and that the EC should speak as one voice, she nevertheless decided that voice was Braithwaite’s. Second, Braithwaite is a close personal friend of Bach; they each ran for association president back-to-back. Explaining that one consulted Braithwaite for her opinion about hiring one of her close friends does not constitute seeking the advice of the EC. Moreover, even if we could agree the president is the ultimate voice of the EC, the fact that the president and Bach are close friends should merit talking to other members of the Executive Council (indeed, this would not only be “best practice,” but simple common sense). Rather, Kidd’s actions and subsequent explanation constitutes cronyism, a fact only underscored by the fluffy, two-paragraph justification Bach’s qualifications.


Braithwaite’s letter is a waste of the screen and one’s time. Bach’s letter, however, does helpfully explain her thought process in a way that makes perfect sense: they couldn’t get anyone to run for the staff position, and it went vacant for two months. After trying for months to encourage folks to apply, Bach threw her hat in the ring, not simply out of desire, but to some extent desperation. Although this rationale is entirely understandable, the fact remains Bach’s willingness to serve cannot overcome the professional damage accepting the position has done. Nor does it overcome the fact of cronyism. Well-meaning cronyism is still cronyism.

Despite Kidd’s accusations, however, the EC certainly did speak with one voice this week—all eight of them. In the letter they submitted to NCA members, Lynn Turner, Richard West, James Darsey, David Henry, Lyn Disbrow, Roseann Mandziuk, Ronald Jackson, and Ron Sheilds seem to suggest that they all disagree with Kidd’s obstinate decision to defend Bach’s appointment. While they advance a desire to work with Kidd and Bach, they also argue there has been a violation of “expectation and desire.” The EC identifies two major issues: (1) the actual collusion of Bach, Braithwaite, and Kidd in the appointment of Bach; and (2) ambiguous policies and operating procedures. The conclusion of the letter is quite clear: the EC will continue to serve the interests of NCA membership, however, the membership and legislative assembly should determine what price Braithwaite and Kidd should pay for this colossal embarrassment. Kidd’s contract is up for renewal, for example, in two years.

What we have here is a public drama or war between a “criminal three” and a “gang of eight,” if you will. I use those terms with humor to point up the role of law in this skirmish. Basically, what we have here is a biblical conflict between the letter of the law and the spirit of the law (see Romans 2:29). The law in question is a NCA bylaw (Article IV, Section 5.1): “The Executive Director shall, with the advice of the Executive Committee, appoint the staff of the Association.” Apparently, lawyers on both sides have concluded that Kidd did nothing technically wrong, a point she hammers on repeatedly in her letter. The Executive Committee is arguing, however, the spirit of the bylaw is captured in its obvious intent: to make sure staff appointments are people the voluntary leadership can work with. It is intended as a basic “check and balance.”

My opinion is that Kidd did not really consult the EC for advice on the appointment, and that she did not do so because she knew there would be resistance. She elected to advance a “letter of the law” argument to champion her choice. Of course, there were all sorts of private conversations we are not privy to; I suspect part of the problem is that Kidd gave her word in private space but did not live up to her word. This is the only way the tone of the EC’s letter makes any sense. My sense is that many in the EC believe Kidd has double-crossed them.

Given the troubles the national office has had over the past decade, I confess I find Kidd’s decision to dig in her heels on this issue not only stupid, but baffling. I also believe that she and Bach must have known the appointment would be controversial, and yet did it anyway. What this says to me is that the criminal three decided to spend valuable time and energy on personal drama at the expense of the organization and its membership. To me, the issue is not really about whether or not Kidd followed the letter of the law; the issue is that Kidd chose a predictable division and drama over peace, harmony and, frankly, good PR.

Finally, the elephant in the room has already been mentioned by Jim Aune on The Blogora, but it bears repeating here: increasingly NCA is governed by administrators with less-scholarly backgrounds. This differs from a number of major academic professional organizations (e.g., the MLA, the APA, and so on), which are often governed by prominent scholars or, as they say, “big names.” Looking at past issues of Spectra, it’s clear that NCA was also governed by “big names” until more recently.

I have been doing research in my field since I started graduate school in 1996, almost fifteen years, but every year I am confronted with a ballot increasingly consisting of folks whom I do not know or have not heard of. I do not mean to suggest we should have prominent scholars in all of our leadership positions. I do mean to suggest, however, that a director of research should be a well-known and respected researcher.

plantin’ seed

March 10th, 2010 by slewfoot

Music: The Orb: U.F. Orb (1992)

Thank goodness spring has sprung. I returned home from the Obamathon conference on Sunday to discover my camellia had bloomed! The buds had been growing for about a year, and I thought I had underfed the poor plant—but no, three popping red flowers appeared, and a forth is on the way. I’ve never had a camellia before, so I didn’t frankly know it took so long for them to bloom.

I’ve taken some photos of my garden, which I finished replanting yesterday. This year I planted a number of bulbs and seeds, so it will take a while for the garden to fill in. Nevertheless, every time I get out there and dig in the dirt I am cheered. I don’t know why gardening makes me happy, but it does.

This year I’m trying a few different things: serrano peppers instead of banana peppers, a purple elephant ear, and a number of flowering plants whose names I cannot remember. Also, just in case you thought my mundane life was too exciting to bear, I also purchased a new houseplant! It’s a weird Texas spindly green thing! And, to top things off, I made a new batch of kimchi which is rotting fermenting away as I type. It should be good and stinky in a week or two.

Spring: Yay!