Monday, July 11, 2011


Kaifaqu, we joke, has only three places: home, the school, and Five Colour City. Kaifaqu Station is on the edge of FCC, and from where I sat this morning, at Deli Harbor, where the Japanese owner has memorized my and my friends' sandwich preferences, I can see passengers arriving and departing. I listened to the chapter in Vladimir Nabokov's Speak, Memory on butterflies and had the urge to ride the train back and forth between here and downtown just to be alone.

I want to write sketches. Every time I sit down to write now, whatever comes out is surely something that would need several contextual notes, and even then it wouldn't be as funny as it is to me. If my life were a movie, I'm not sure what the content would be or what style it'd be in, but I know it'd have to have subtitles, perhaps undecipherable at first until the character learned the language, but still, what would the audience be doing all this time? The audience would have to be right there with him, learning the language too. What would the twenty-and-some-old version of Chelsea say were she to be interviewed?

All of this to say I don't know what to write anymore. Grammar is often easier to write about than people or the city, but grammar is all work, leads back to work, so that every word I write is work, is the obsession in bed, on my edge of sleep, of trying to work something out on how to teach a complication. You can't overexplain—that is, you shouldn't overexplain. What's with explanation? The point is to get the students to talk like you, seemingly without thinking, though we of course know how much thought it takes to generate language, especially one that isn't your first. How do you do something that doesn't involve language? I want to know. Because I cannot disconnect.

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