I got my first sunburn of the year two days ago. Five days from now my band is playing our third show at the Cabin Tavern. Today I saw Iron Man 2. Nineteen years ago I moved to Washington. In 1968 Night of the Living Dead was released. I watched that movie a week ago. I defended my thesis the day before that.
The same night I watched the movie Amanda was out of town. I was staring at the various piles of documents on the living room table, the paper trail of my academic life separated into piles of various ages.
What is it about kitchen tables that resist having dinner eaten on them?
Here is a part of myself I’d forgotten. It’s from December of 2003, when I was but a lowly junior at WWU. That quarter I completed my first 300-level English class. Until that moment, a B+ had meant that I hadn’t cared enough to try. In English 311, however, that B+ was the best I had. That was the first class to ever truly kick my ass.
Jake, a grad-friend and occasional collaborator is TA-ing for that very same class this year. We were hanging out a few weeks ago, and he mentioned that my professor had been using my final from seven years ago as an example of what the projects could look like. Until this moment, I had completely forgotten its existence, and in fact it took a little bit of description on Jake’s part for the project to even ring a bell. I had no record of it on my computer either.
Suffice it to say, my professor had made a photocopy and was happy to return the original to me. I remember that the idea was inspired by Mark Z. Danielewski’s House of Leaves, which prominently features a spiral staircase. The text is printed onto tracing paper in a boxy spiral. The effect, then, is that as the pages stack up you can see traces of other pages underneath. Trust me when I say the text itself is garbage, but I have to admit that seven years later I’m pretty impressed with my 21-year-old self’s idea.
That same professor served on my thesis committee this year. Thinking about it now, I’m not surprised that the same person who handed in “The Spiral Staircase” seven years ago thought it would be a good idea to write a sequence of poems based on a zombie dream I’d had a year ago.
Here’s what my first attempt at ordering the project looked like. This was late February, according to the photo. I remember it took several hours and a lot of anger before I was happy with an order. Two months after, I’d say a very substantial amount of the pages you see on the floor here got cut anyway, but it was the first time I actually saw a story starting to take shape.
During my defense I was asked why there was such a preponderance of media in my thesis. At the time I answered something along the lines of this being code between myself and my family, and that I’m fascinated with being from a generation that only knows living in a time of heavy mediation.
The day after my defense I was watching Night of the Living Dead by myself with the lights out, and kicking myself in the ass for somehow failing to watch this while working on a zombie text. Now I have a much better answer to the media question: because in zombie texts the media always represents the protagonist’s only contact with the outside world. What a fool I was not to see it earlier.
What is it about revelations existing just outside of time?