Numbly trying to deal with this fact: a former student of mine took her life early this week.

She was a radiant, generous, lovely person.

In my fitful and sporadic sleep last night, I dreamed that her father was insisting: “It’s a mosquito bite — just a mosquito bite.”

I keep weaving in and out of thinking “this is fiction” and “this is real.”

There is nothing like a suicide to highlight: 1) interconnectedness, 2) a lack of interconnectedness. I only know she has left a trail of weeping behind her.

My colleague and I, who co-taught her in a course last summer, asking each other, “What is a teacher?” and “Where are our boundaries?” and “What are our responsibilities?” I don’t feel guilty, though, or negligent — I don’t know what I could have done for her — just sad, exhausted as if kicked in the stomach, and raw.

How could it have got so bad for her that she felt her only choice was to leave life? How could she have felt so alone? She didn’t leave a message, so I suppose we will never know what sent her to that impasse.

I suppose, although I wouldn’t want to make a law out of this supposition, that suicide is a kind of inalienable right we all have, no matter how hurtful it might be to those surrounding us. I can’t begrudge anyone their decision to leave because I haven’t really seen it proven that life is sacrosanct. I mean, if it were, why would it end? And if it were, why would it be so difficult — the inanities and injustices and aches and pains of the quotidian — the traps humans set for other humans — the crushing metal of the streets — the callousness of social organization — indeed, why stick around for all that? And yet, I’m annoyed with her for not being more tenacious and more open with whatever it was that was tormenting her — so many people appreciated her and were there to help support her.

But now, it’s done — she’s done, except for the recurring images in all of our minds of her broad smile, her square face with its high cheekbones, her always bright and receptive expression — except for the memories of exchanges with her we dredge up out of our murky memories — except for our creepy imaginations of the scene of her death — except for the ghostly artifacts she has left us (some blue books with her beautiful essays and portfolios that show how articulate she was in a foreign language) — except for…

She said in her reflection essay in one of her portfolios that she had come to study in the USA to “break the frame” — so brilliant, I thought at the time, but now it resounds ruefully.

The world has a little hole in it now, and (the) sun* has fallen through it.

*(Her name, you see, was Sun.)

I couldn’t resist this tacky thing. Apparently I’m an artistic, anti-authoritarian female cliche´. Huh! Whaddya know. But… why so low on the hedonism? I must have answered something wrong.

Advanced Global Personality Test Results

Extraversion |||||||||||||||||||| 90%
Stability |||| 20%
Orderliness |||||||||||| 43%
Accommodation |||||||||| 36%
Interdependence |||||||||||||||| 70%
Intellectual |||||||||||| 50%
Mystical |||||||||||| 50%
Artistic |||||||||||||||||||| 90%
Religious || 10%
Hedonism || 10%
Materialism |||||||||| 36%
Narcissism |||||||||||||||| 70%
Adventurousness |||||||||||||| 56%
Work ethic |||||||||||| 50%
Self absorbed |||||||||||||| 56%
Conflict seeking |||||||||||||||||| 76%
Need to dominate |||||||||||||||||| 76%
Romantic |||||||||||||||||| 76%
Avoidant |||| 16%
Anti-authority |||||||||||||||||||| 90%
Wealth |||| 16%
Dependency |||||||||||| 43%
Change averse |||||| 23%
Cautiousness |||||||||||| 43%
Individuality |||||||||||||||||||| 83%
Sexuality |||||||||||||||||||| 83%
Peter pan complex |||||||||| 36%
Physical security |||||||||||||||||||| 90%
Physical Fitness |||||| 24%
Histrionic |||||||||||||||||||| 83%
Paranoia |||||||||| 36%
Vanity |||||||||||||||||| 76%
Hypersensitivity |||||||||||||||| 63%
Female cliche |||||||||||||||||||| 90%

Take Free Advanced Global Personality Test
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I forgot to tag anyone for the “Five little-known things about me” meme.

OK: I tag Gary Sullivan, Todd Colby, K Lorraine Graham, and two other people who decide they would like to be tagged can tell ’em Nada sentcha.

Five little-known facts about me (thanks, Amy for the tag):

I passed the NY Real Estate exam in 2002.

I played (that is, I was made to play) soccer once – in seventh grade.

The chairman of the foundation under which the school I taught at in Japan operated once dubbed me “karaoke supervisor.”

At eight or nine years old, I wrote a play with my friend Peggy while camping on Mt. Shasta. The theme of the play was the search for the most perfect creature in the universe. We performed on the mountain with an ensemble cast.

Also, as a child I was very fond of embroidery, daffodils, and Elton John.

Happy New Year!

Here’s what Gary and I sang at the St. Mark’s Poetry Project Annual marathon yesterday. It is, of course, to the tune of “My Favorite Things”:


Rhinestone cacophony smelling like fossils
Replicant president quoting apostles
Mayonnaise underpants, tabular wings –
These are a few inexplicable things


Twirly menageries wrapped in wax paper
Rococo primates and lipstick with capers
Puberty molecules, globular strings
These are a few inexplicable things


When I’m pacing
up at midnight
and I scratch my beard
I can’t figure out inexplicable things
And that makes me feel… so weird…

Lactating nuns give abortion to walrus
Leave it to Beaver stars Telly Savalas

Grandmother’s labia flapping like wings

These are a few inappropriate things

Sandals with tube socks and belching in public
Picking at acne or massaging dog dick

Cooking a steak for a family of Singhs

These are a few inappropriate things

When I’m peeing
out the window
of my hitch-hiked ride
I think of a few inappropriate things
and then I don’t feel … so shy!


Parasites, peptides and pussycat scratches
Birth-control implants and nicotine patches
Botox injections with needles that sting
These are a few subcutaneous things


Maritime tattoos and beauty that’s deeper
Scarification that leaves you a keeper
Silicone mammaries, lovers that cling
These are a few subcutaneous things


When the skin breaks
When the cut goes
Rather deeply in
I just think of these subcutaneous things
And then I don’t feel… thin-skinned…


[GARY] Eyedrops in noses, [NADA] and tunafish blossoms
[GARY] Mongeese and meercats [NADA] and sheep and oppossums
[GARY] Marbles and cucumbers tied up with string
[NADA] These are a few miscellaneous things

[NADA] Girls in white dresses, [GARY] refillable toner
[NADA] Snowflakes that stay on a boy with a boner
[GARY] Bureaucrats flying around on the wing
[BOTH] These are a few miscellaneous things

[Nada]When the elk bites
[Gary] When the squid stings
[Both] When I’m feeling sad
I just think of these miscellaneous things
And then I don’t feel so bad…