Saturday, August 23, 2014

It Isn't Hoarding, I Am Saving It For An Art Project


The boy and I were at Trader Joe's the other day, where I picked up some Kentucky Bourbon and Jail House Gin. I said something to Julian about how the bottles were really lovely and I was going to save them so I could do something with them.

"You always say that, but then you never make anything," Julian says to me

"That isn't true," I lied.

"Really?" He said, "So how come we have all that stuff in our garage?"

I mumbled something about how I was busy and needed to buy a bottle cutter, but I totally have plans and will use all that stuff, someday.

The boy was skeptical, but easily distracted by my concerns about making sure we had picked up everything we needed to buy from the grocery store. Did we have enough bagels and cream cheese to last the weekend? What about eggs? Did we forget soy milk? Score one for my superior subject changing skills.

Or so I thought.

We went to a friend's house for a few hours and Julian had a lot of quality time with people his own age. Then we drove home and this was blocking the entrance to our alley
I grumbled about having to drive around the block and argh, what was that anyway? After parking the car, I walked over with Julian, explaining we needed to move it out of the way so that other people could drive down the alley.

"What is this stuff?" I asked as we picked it up.

"It looks like the stuff we use to make sets for the school play."

"No, it's insulation," I said in my outside-my-own-head voice. In my inside-my-own-head voice I was saying, "I could totally use this for something."

Except, sadly, much like my inside voice, my inside-my-own-head voice must be a lot louder than I think it is because Julian than said, "No, you can't take this until you use the stuff you already have in the garage."

"I wasn't planning on taking it," I said unconvincingly to my child as I folded the insulation behind a garbage can. He didn't believe me so, of course, I had to walk away in order to not be caught in my lie.

The really depressing thing is that I have now seen a number of crafty uses for this stuff and I wish I had snagged it. Some other enterprising individual who isn't in the habit of being bullied by a nine year old must have scooped it up because it is gone now.

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Wednesday, August 13, 2014

If You're Feeling Sinister



This seemed like an appropriate song to post on International Left Handers Day.


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Friday, July 25, 2014

All About That Bass



"Every inch of you is perfect from the bottom to the top"-Meghan Trainor

As earwormy songs go, this is a pretty awesome one to have stuck in your head.

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Thursday, May 29, 2014

EEEEEEK!

Would you step out on this to gaze down at the street 1300 feet below your feet?
Sears Tower ledge cracks under tourists' feet.

Picture it: You are on vacation and you go to this destination, the former world's tallest building, and as you step out onto the glass ledge, you hear a cracking sound. While you may accept that it was the protective coating and your life was never in danger, I am not sure that one's newly discovered fear of heights would be assuaged by the phrase "that's because we designed it this way." Just saying.

Of course, as you will note above, while I may accept the Ledge (though I have yet to experience it myself--come visit, we can do it together), I am still holding out on the name of the building. Of course, I imagine at some point that day will come and when it does, I won't even be aware it has happened. I know this because there was a time when I called the tall white skyscraper The Standard Oil building and I took the Howard-Jackson Park-Englewood train to school. I can't tell you when I started saying the Aon Center and the Red Line. Change often happens without our noticing. However, while we may not be able to pinpoint the exact moment the shift takes effect, we can be made aware that change is underway, as I am now. At this moment, I feel it is a conscious choice to hold out and use the original name, to use the name that comes up in my head when I see the building standing there in front of me as I drive Julian to school every morning, but I can feel it changing, can imagine a time when for expediency's sake, I will shift to the new one and then it is only a matter of time before my brain follows suit. Then again, maybe that will never happen. After all, just because I now think Red Line doesn't mean I have stopped thinking Marshall Field's.

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Monday, May 26, 2014

Water Fountain



It's Memorial Day, which means we can start wearing white shoes and listening to summer music. This song feels like running through sprinklers and chasing the ice cream truck; summer in a concrete city. The video definitely looks like it is intended to appeal to those of us who grew up with Peewee's Playhouse, Jane Fonda workout videos, and Apple IIe graphics. The combination feels like old school Sesame Street and I am having a hard time not dancing like an nine year old.




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Friday, May 23, 2014

We Aren't In Kansas Anymore

Lion, Tiger, and Bear Are Best Friends Forever

Of course, we know that the fears of Dorothy, Scarecrow, and The Tin Man were unwarranted since these are animals who come from vastly different areas and live in vastly different habitats. I don't care how different Oz is from our world, it would have taken some high level shenanigans for those animals to have all been in the forest together to menace anyone.

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Friday, March 28, 2014

My Grand Unified Theory of Kyle Maclachlan

photo credit: Wikimedia
I like to think that Jeffrey Beaumont was so affected by his brush with Frank Booth, he became an FBI agent. Early in his career, while investigating alien activity, he was briefly possessed by an alien law enforcer named Alhague, an experience which would prove to be invaluable in later years. While the case surrounding the death of Laura Palmer did not initially seem to fall into his area of expertise, he soon learned that in addition to the fabulous pie and coffee, her small town had plenty of supernatural intrigue into which he would become embroiled. In a display of heroism and hubris, he entered the Black Lodge to save Annie, a woman for whom he held romantic feelings, and became possessed by the demon Bob. Bob in Dale's body then went to Vegas, where he was known as Zack Carey, entertainment director at the Stardust, a position which allowed him to rape and abuse many aspiring showgirls. As a result of his previous experiences with possession, Dale eventually was able to cast out Bob and regain control of his body. He returned to Twin Peaks to rescue Annie from the Black Lodge, but learned she had traveled back in time to the 1960s and was now (or then) working as a CIA agent. His next assignment was to investigate nefarious and occult activities in upper crust New York. While working undercover he fell in love with and married Charlotte York, but unfortunately, he was unable to reveal the reasons for his wariness related to having children or his true identity. His secrecy eventually drove a wedge between them and they divorced. As the years passed, he was drawn deeper and deeper into unravelling the bizarre mysteries surrounding the Bermuda Triangle, which he attempted to hide by professing an obsession with boats and the sea (going so far as requesting people refer to him as The Captain), as he knew people often overlook one's activities when they are suitably confused by one's eccentricities, a lesson he had learned two decades earlier from the Log Lady. Though his personal wealth grew and he had many friends and acquaintances in New York, his heart never entirely left the Pacific Northwest, so while he continued to conduct his investigations along the Eastern Seaboard, he became the mayor of Portland in 2012.

P.S. I know that Kyle Maclachlan is a damn fine actor and has made many more appearances in television and film. However, as this is MY grand unified theory of Kyle Maclachlan, I could only integrate performances which I have seen and/or remembered (I totally forgot about The Librarian: Quest for the Spear and I don't feel invested enough in that KM sighting to go and work it in, though I adored the whole Librarian franchise and WILL use it if I ever get around to thinking up a grand unified theory of Noah Wyle). I am sure that someone else could construct an entirely different grand unified theory of Kyle Maclachlan based upon his appearances in Dune, Desperate Housewives, and The Good Wife. If someone does to that, please, let me know as I imagine it would be awesome.

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Friday, March 14, 2014

Walking on Sunshine


While I have talked about summer songs in the past and I probably spend a good deal of my life moping around listening to the music of fall and winter, I don't believe I have ever dwelt on the sound of spring. No, not birds chirping, grass growing, and the slow patter of raindrops, I mean the vibrations that put a bounce in your step the second they hit your ears, the aural experience of snow melt and sunshine that can't burn your skin, the sonic sensation of no longer having a heavy coat pulling your shoulders down. I submit this song, by Katrina and the Waves, is the quintessential song of spring. Listen to the lyrics, you may think this is just another song about a long distance relationship, and you would be right, but do not make the mistake of assuming this is a song about a romance between humans. This is our collective love song to the warm weather, our harmonic plea to the gods that they hold back the ice for a little while (if not forever), and, as the video indicates, we will go to great ends, including slipping in mud and throwing bread at ducks, in order to make the snow stay away.

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Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Bleak


The winter takes its toll. It doesn't matter who you are or what you are, it will exact payment, someway somehow. The trees give up their leaves, the roads lose their smooth facade, every last molecule of water is stolen from the air. You may burrow into your cave and hope to hide, but winter will find you and demand tribute. You may fool yourself by pretending it is just a concurrence of astronomy and geology, but it will stand outside your door, waiting. Go ahead and claim all manner of agnosticism you want, it will beat away at your defenses until you are forced to give it what it seeks. You may doubt and deny its power, but in the cold light of day when all shadows are flattened and rendered brittle and all color has been frozen out of your world, you will give up, you will give in, and you will believe. It will strip you bare and leave you gasping for breath and hoping that everything it took from you, everything you lost, can be found again in the thaw of spring.

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Friday, February 14, 2014

Headstart For Happiness



"Naive and wise with no sense of time as I set my heart with a heart beat, tick tock,
Violent and mild, common sense says I'm wild with this mixed up fury, crazy beauty,
It's healthy to find all these feelings inside as I get on my trek with a headstart back to you."-Paul Weller

We've been listening to a lot of Style Council lately, which means it's all political and love in our house, which you probably already could have guessed. Seriously between the Modfather and Patti Smith, our house is crazy with happiness and inspiration. Viva la revolution and long live love!



Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Pete Seeger, RIP




Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Anticipation

Tomorrow, I will be the Answer to the Ultimate Question of Life, the Universe, and Everything.

Yes, as a matter of fact, I do intend to keep making that joke. As far as I am concerned, it is the best thing about the coming year and I am going to make the most of it. Consider yourselves warned!

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Walk Out To Winter



I read an article today in Slate bemoaning that the holiday song canon appeared to be closed. Later on in the morning, I found myself in Ulta where, predictably, they were playing what I assume is their Christmas tape and it was, as anyone who has attempted to do any shopping this time of year might expect, annoying. I was doing a pretty good job of blocking out the music when what to my wondering ears should resound, but Walk Out To Winter. In Ulta, of all places. So this is a Christmas song now? Did anyone listen to the lyrics first? Yeah, sure, there is the word "winter" in the chorus, but it really doesn't seem--you know, never mind, congratulations on those residuals, Roddy!

About fifteen minutes later, I was in Trader Joe's, talking with one of my friends who works there (I am there so often, it would feel wrong to refer to her as a mere acquaintance at this point) about how cold it was and how people at the Bear's game last night must still be defrosting. She said there was no one she would sit out in single digit weather to see and I agreed because, let's be honest here, it is crazy to freeze for such things as sporting events or rock concerts or plays (but most rock concerts and plays don't ask one to suffer such indignities). Then, because clearly the universe wanted to remind me that I am not so sane, the opening guitar riff of Oblivious began playing over the speakers. While this was not the first time I have heard that song in Trader Joe's, the timing was almost too perfect. Recognizing this for what it was, I swiftly recanted and admitted that, yes, I probably would risk frostbite to see Roddy Frame perform, that, yes, I would walk out to winter if I knew he would be there.

The universe works in mysterious ways.

Aztec Camera played in two stores within 30 minutes of one another! It's a Christmas miracle I tell you!

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Monday, December 09, 2013

Unflattering Photograph

There is always a disconnect between the image one sees in a mirror and the image one has of one's self in one's head. This chasm grows wider when it involves recordings of one's self; just as a tape recording of one's voice always sounds off, a picture often feels like it presents a far shallower and less attractive shadow of one than the one we see in our mind's eye or even one's reflection. Of course, just as some days are better than others and some mirrors are kinder, just as we grow to know ourselves and how to manipulate our appearance to downplay what we consider to be our flaws, some pictures do not do us an injustice and we learn, over time, how to reduce the number of photos which do.

But sometimes, a bad one slips through the cracks.

In the old days (i.e. before digital photography and social media) you just and to live with the ugly picture and or destroy it before anyone saw it. Now, though, we have the power to take five hundred pictures of ourselves and only keep the one good one, which makes us feel like we should never have a bad picture of ourselves out in the universe. Except, of course, other people take pictures of us and distribute them, so instead of it being in a frame at one's parent's house which one can stand next to and prove that that is not really what one looks like, it is a picture on the internet seen by many people whose primary knowledge of one's appearance are photographs. That photo is up and seen and liked by so many people before one has even seen it one's self, at which point, it is too late to do anything about it. One has to live with it.

So this happened to me over the weekend.

I am totally aware that it is a first world problem and a fairly recent one at that when one considers all of human history. Sure, aristocrats and royals may well have gnashed their teeth when viewing bad paintings of themselves or felt betrayed by portraits which presented a potential wife in a way that was more flattering than real (at least, from their perspective). But, really, this is a ridiculous problem to have and it demonstrates the parameters of one's vanity in a way which is also less than flattering, not to mention generating a number of unanswerable questions.

What do I mean by an unflattering photograph? Is it a photograph which does not look like me or is it a photograph which does look like me, but seems to highlight all my flaws and does not depict any of my strengths? Did the person who posted this think this was a good picture of me? Is that what I look like to them? Or, maybe, they know it is a terrible picture of me and posted it to hurt me? Or maybe, which is the most likely, it was the best picture of the other people in the photo and they posted it because they never even looked at me in the photo--so, would I do the same to them if the tables were turned? Is it insulting to other people that I think this is a bad picture of me?

In the case of the photo (or photos, I should say, because the problem extended beyond just one) the problem is a convergence of the wrong bra with the wrong dress. In person, I think, the dress is quite nice, but in photos, it caught the light in such a way that all the extra fabric looked like it belonged to my body and my breasts looked enormous, so, as my mom pointed out, I look pregnant. Or like I weigh a good deal more than I do. Isn't immature of me to be complaining about my weight, or looking like I am overweight? Shouldn't I have moved on to worrying about wrinkles? Because, if I am completely honest about those pictures, even though my body looks pregnant my face looks great and at the age of 41 and 11 months I should be taking comfort in that. As Catherine Deneuve observed (well, this quote is credited to her and, also, Meryl Streep), "When you get older, you have to be ready to trade your ass for your face." So, yeah, at my age, shouldn't I accept I can't have everything?

Yes, but that isn't what I look like. I have a flat stomach. I do pilates three times a week and five days of cardio. I want documentary evidence of all my hard work. Except freaking out because I look like I weigh more than I do is kind of insulting to people who do weigh more than I do, isn't it? Why am I so vain? Why do I care if everyone on the internet thinks I have a large belly, whether I have one or not, is there something wrong with having a belly? Am I fat shaming others by being unhappy with my body's appearance in these pictures?

Possibly.

However, there is that desire we all have that a photograph of ourselves, while it may not depict the person we see in our mind's eye when we imagine ourselves, is true. When we see a picture of ourselves which causes the people one knows best to say "that doesn't look like you" it feels like a lie.   And while we should feel that way about all the pictures that lie, the ones which are photoshopped to make us look prettier as well as the ones which make us look uglier* the reality is we tend to only focus on the bad and overlook the good (*even when we understand that what we consider pretty and ugly are a result of our cultural conditioning). Or we tell ourselves the alterations which make us look better are merely shifting reality to conform with our inner version of ourselves, so it isn't a lie, it is showing what is really real, whereas the unfortunate accidents of lighting and timing are false visions, a bad dream. Because we are all vain creatures and we are all products of our culture.

A photo which makes us look taller than we are is a good thing because our society deems height to be a positive thing, a photograph which makes us look drunk is not so good because losing control is considered a bad thing. Isn't that is what this is really about, a loss of control? There are images of me out there which do not belong to me, which I cannot alter or eliminate. The only recourse I have is to untag myself, which doesn't make those pictures go away, it just makes it slightly harder for others to see and connect to me. But they still exist and they still are records of a period of my life. Whether they are accurate or not, to deny them is to deny a part of me, perhaps a part I would like to ignore. If I am going to do that, I may as well refuse to allow people to take pictures of me, ever, which is hardly an acceptable alternative. A friend of mine once told her mother-in-law, a woman who refused to have her photo taken because she hated how she looked in photos, "Someday, you will be dead and your grandchildren will want to know what you looked like. Sit down and smile for the camera." I don't want to be the person who never lets anyone take her picture and I don't want Julian to be telling everyone that he has so few pictures of me because I was paralyzed by my own vanity.

So I will leave the picture up and accept it for what it is, a moment in time. Of course it doesn't look like me because I am no insect trapped in amber, I live in four dimensions, how can any photograph truly do me justice? Yeah, it may be worth a thousand words, but you know me, a thousand is not nearly enough.


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Thursday, December 05, 2013

MOON!



This is an animation imagining the moon orbiting Earth at the distance of the International Space Station. I have the same reaction every time I watch it. If I had to script that reaction, including articulating all the inchoate emotions I can't really describe, but which arise every time, it would probably sounds something like this:
Oh that looks cool. Hey, it almost looks like the moon is transparent. Wow, it is just up there, looming, isn't it? Um, am I breathing? I'm not, am I? Yeah, I do not have a good feeling about this. Hey, wait, if it is that close, what happens when it blocks the sun? It would block out the sun, right? I wonder how they-OH MY GOD, THE SKY'S GONE OUT! Oh, wait, there is some light coming off the moon, it can't be sunlight...is it us? Oh that is interesting. Oh THANK GOD the sun has returned. I love you Sun, I will never talk smack about your sun cancer causing rays ever again! Never leave me!  Oh, look, the moon is gone. Good bye Moon!
While I am not proud of this reaction, I strongly suspect I am not alone in having it.

The moon should not be this close to us and, in reality, if  for some reason the moon did try to snuggle up to us, it would be ripped apart by tidal forces and while this may mean we'd suddenly get Saturnian rings around our equator, we would not be around to enjoy it as Earth would be turned into a volcanic wasteland, not to mention the moon does life on our planet an enormous solid by taking a lot of the asteroids that come our way so no moon=giant bullseye on our planet's bum. So, really, my reaction to the video is absolutely normal given how impossible it is. I should absolutely freak out when presented with slow moving animation of our collective deaths, right? Why don't we just go visit a black hole while we're at it?

It can't just be impending doom and the fact that it cannot be which causes me to feel so much dread when imagining a looming moon. I mean, there are a lot of things which are totally wrong which don't make me want to throw up. Why should this make me want to hide under the covers until it goes away?

I think it is the silence.



The sky makes no noise, the addition of a soundtrack is the addition of one more thing which ought not be. However, music adds that little sensory oomph and pushes this out of the uncanny valley and into pure fantasy, turning something unnatural into something beautiful. "There is music," thinks my lizard brain, "it is not real. I can sit back and enjoy it. Pretty."

I am glad we cleared that up. Now I can go back to being angry with the sun for being so very bright, but not sharing enough of its heat with us in the Northern Hemisphere this time of year, by making me wear SPF underneath all the layers.

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Tuesday, December 03, 2013

Is This Thing On?

So you probably have noticed that I am a good deal less active 'round these parts than I once was. I have reasons for this:

1) I am trying to write a novel. Fiction writing does not come easy, at least not for me; the ideas are in my head, but, for some reason, translating them onto the page is very, very hard and seems to require a different set of skills than the nonfiction essay writing I do here. It feels like this thing I want to do requires a whole set of skills that are adjacent to, but different from, the skills I already have, so I need to spend my limited time and energy working on the fiction writing.

2) I ran out of things to say and it felt too hard. There was a time when I could easily whip out a few words on a topic which caught my fancy in what seemed like minutes. But as time passed, it just seemed like I had less and less to say. World events and scientific discoveries did not provide the same inspiration they once did and it felt like I had nothing left to say. Besides

3) Facebook serves a similar function while requiring less work than a blog. I can just post a link to an article and one quick sentence in between playing Words With Friends and commenting on someone's cute picture of their kids. Oh, and people will actually see it, which brings me to

4) No one reads this anymore. I always used to joke about only having three readers (my mom, Tracy, and Fred). And then Fred stopped reading. He will probably be sad that I said that publicly, will think I am criticizing him for not being more supportive, which is so not my intention. I am just saying that one starts to wonder if there is a point to writing when one can't even get one's husband to read one's work. I mean, I have already given up on most of the people who claim to be my friends reading this, but really, if this can't even hold Fred's interest, that is probably a sign that it is time to pack it in, right? It isn't just Fred, by the way. I am fairly sure my mom and Tracy have given up as well.

5) Isn't a blog, like, the most self-centered, arrogant thing in the world? Who cares? I need to spend less time gazing at my own navel, not more time, and I certainly need to get over the notion that anyone else is interested in the lint I may find therein.

All very good, solid reasons, I think. They sound very reasonable, right?

However, if I am being completely honest, the big reason, the reason which can serve as the umbrella under which all the other reasons can huddle under to stay dry, is that my life changed and my needs changed and I fell out of the habit of writing here and lost my nerve.

Julian was a baby when I started this blog. I needed an outlet to the outside world and I needed to put stuff I wrote out for public consumption, I didn't have a lot of time to work on long form pieces and I didn't feel comfortable asking people in real life to read my work, so a blog was a perfect fit. I soon realized I didn't have it in me to create a readership and, as I indicated in my list of reasons, most of the people I know are unreliable and unsupportive, but I told myself it was okay that no one read it because I wasn't doing it for them, I was doing it for me. But something happened in my head. Because I wrote this during the free time I squeezed out of other areas of life (while Julian was napping or before I went to bed) and because it often felt like it came easily, I didn't consider it to be valuable. It's just a blog, no big deal, really, everyone has one, right? I ignored the work I put into it and told myself it didn't matter. I mean, I knew, objectively, that some of the pieces were good, but really, it wasn't as if it was important or anything. So as Julian grew older and I started to have more and more time I could depend upon, I began to think I needed to spend my time doing something IMPORTANT, something people would want to read. 

I stopped writing as much here because I was going to spend my time creating something of value. Except most of the time, I wasn't and that lack of production on my part was making me angry and depressed. What the hell was wrong with me? All writing, not just fiction writing, became too hard so instead of writing better stuff, I stopped writing anything at all. I would try, but with the exception of some fits and starts-a thousand words here, a thousand words there-I haven't really written anything in months. Oh, I am still working on the story in my head all the time, but I have nothing to show for all that work outside the parameters of my skull.

Which is where I was yesterday.

It started out like most days. I went to Pilates, then I showered, then I stared at the computer screen and felt like a failure, then I let the internet do what the internet does best (i.e. distract me from my own despair, but also prevent me from overcoming said despair) and started reading articles. 

I started with reviews of Roddy Frame's Sunday night show (argh! I am so filled with envy for all who were there) and stumbled upon this essay about discovering Aztec Camera as a young teen and how that shapes one's life
I also took the three year gap between Knife and Love much as you might take the extended silence from a girlfriend who moves out of town and ignores all your attempts to contact her. After a while, you get the message and move on. Hence, in 1987, when Love appeared and Somewhere In My Heart took up residency in the top three, I felt happy for Roddy, but also embarrassed. I’d just turned 18. I wanted nothing whatsoever to do with the 14 year-old who had written all those letters, lovingly bordered with hand-drawn facsimiles of the mountain and flower motifs that had adorned early Aztec Camera sleeves.
and I felt I could have written something quite similar myself. I mean, I am a bit younger than the writer, but I remember that sense of embarrassment over a musician one once loved, especially as one enters the age of irony and snark and the music is all hope and earnest honesty. When I was thirteen, instead of writing fan mail to Roddy Frame, I wrote poetry, all of which I am pretty sure I threw away. I am pretty sure my bitchy roommates Freshman year would have eaten me alive if I admitted to liking such "uncool" music (oh, wait, they practically did anyway).

Later, I was scanning Facebook, and found this post over on Rookie
One way to avoid killing your heart is to decide that you will spend your whole life growing up. I am not saying you should aspire to the maturity level of the characters in Hot Tub Time Machine; I am suggesting we resist a life that looks, in line-graph form, like it goes up and up and up and then it stops, and then it levels out, and then it stays on that flat plane until death. I hope to live a life that goes up and up and up until the end, with the inevitable dip here and there. I hope to continue to learn and change.
The whole piece is so amazing and makes me happy, but also a bit sad that I was not so wise at seventeen. Or maybe I was. As I said, I threw away a lot of what I wrote back then because I thought it was too naive and naff. But, more importantly, this piece reminded that a well crafted non-fiction essay can be every bit as important as a work of fiction.

Then, after dinner and bedtime, I was reading a not very good blog ranking the worst Christmas songs ever and found myself thinking "I wrote about that song" and "Oh, I wrote about that song, too" and with the intention of posting links to all those old essays of mine, I came over here and read them and then started reading other essays and, well, I was really impressed by how good they were. Sure, not all of them are great and there are some typos and grammatical errors which I have failed to fix despite having many opportunities to do so, but overall I am surprised. I know that sounds conceited, except, as often happens when encountering something I wrote long ago, it didn't actually feel like mine anymore, it felt like I was reading someone else's work.

I went to bed determined to make a change.

Which brings me to today.

I don't really know what I plan to do with this, but I am resolved to do things differently. Maybe I will start posting more of the poetry and songs I write. Maybe I will post bits of the fiction that is already written and see what you all think (yes, I am going to back to pretending I have an enormous readership who just are too shy to leave comments). Maybe I will just keep writing about music since I never stop having stuff to say on the topic. As I said, I don't know, but then, that is part of what makes this so scary and exciting.

Thanks for joining me on this journey.

Sunday, October 27, 2013

RIP Lou Reed

"She started shaking to that fine, fine music, you know her her life was saved by rock & roll."-Lou Reed



I could write a hundred or a thousand words and none of them would adequately express my feelings about the death of Lou Reed or do justice to the role his music has played, for the world at large and for me personally. It is not an exaggeration to say that he saved a lot of lives through the sounds he helped create.

And it was all right.







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Friday, August 23, 2013

Looking For Outrage


So in reading stories about the murder of Christopher Lane, I have stumbled upon comments along the lines of "Where is Obama now? Hah! Reverse Racism!" And while I would ordinarily write this off as typical internet trolling, I encountered something of the sort on my Facebook news feed--yes, it was a bit more nuanced, asking instead why there was no outrage for this murder and suggesting that race played a role in the murder. Except they linked to an article which never mentioned race, though pictures of the perpetrators and the victim were displayed. And because it is someone I know and love asking these questions, I can't just ignore them.

"Where is the outrage for Christopher Lane?"

Well after he was found shot, law enforcement made an effort to track down his killers AND FOUND THEM, arrested them, and will be charging them with murder and this was all done BEFORE the national media picked up the story. So, to sum up, if you feel there has not been enough public outrage expressed for this murder (which was not the only murder to happen last Friday, or in the days since), perhaps it is because the criminal justice system seems to be doing its job in this case so there is no need for public outrage. However, I would completely disagree that there is no public outrage. This story about a murder that occurred in some small town in Oklahoma has been distributed nationally, partially because Christopher Lane was an attractive baseball player and a foreign national, but mainly because of the heinous details of the crime. A lot of other people have been murdered since Friday and I haven't seen any articles about them. Obviously this is not the same as people staging protests or politicians speaking out about the case, but then, the specifics of this crime and the response by law enforcement do not seem to warrant such actions.

"So, where are those who marched for Trayvon?"

The only comparison that one can make between Trayvon Martin and Christopher Lane is that they were both young athletes who were gunned down on the streets of a town which was not their own. But if you want to suggest that this is an apples to apples comparison and there is some great lesson to be learned about racism in America, try this on for size: Christopher Lane's murderers will likely go to prison, Trayvon Martin's did not.


"Where's all the FB chit chat?"

Ask and ye shall receive.

But since we are asking questions, I want to know where the outrage is for Kelly Coca, Carla Eguez, Carlton Brown, Kyle Hogan, Antoine Green, and all the other people profiled here?

Sunday, July 14, 2013

This Is Not America


Remember watching Eyes on the Prize a quarter of a century ago and thinking that something like the murder of Emmett Till couldn't happen anymore?

How naive I was. My eyes have been opened over the years, yet I still feel blindsided.

This is not the America I was raised to believe in and, yes, a country is like a deity in that its continued existence depends upon our faith in it. The America in which I believe does not value the rights of people to own guns over the rights of children to grow up. The America in which I believe does not allow grown men to murder unarmed children. The America in which I believe does not value the lives of some mother's sons over other mother's sons. The America in which I believe is a fairy tale that never existed, but I have to keep believing that it can exist and fighting for it.

But on nights like tonight it is hard. This is not the miracle.





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Saturday, May 18, 2013

Mammas!



When I was a child, we had gerbils for a brief period--it may have been a couple of months, it may have even been a couple of years, it's all a blur. They had babies at some point and then, the babies were dead and partially eaten. Then I think one of them died. I can't really remember what happened to them after that, actually. I was never really fond of the gerbils. I liked the idea of them (they were cute), but the reality of them (rodents) made me uncomfortable and the cognitive dissonance this caused my young mind was even greater than the cognitive dissonance caused by the idea of parents eating their babies. I must admit, as an adult, I find the idea of rats more squirm inducing than the knowledge that filial cannibalism is practiced by a wide variety of species.

I showed the above video to Julian and explained this is why we will never get hamsters. He doesn't believe the video.

"We had a hamster in 3-6 and she had a baby, she had five babies, and she didn't eat any of them. And then the next week she had five more and she didn't eat them. So, HA!, she is a liar."

However, there are the cats to consider and while Julian may not believe that hamsters eat their young, he completely understands that cats eat hamsters. Elaborate plans involving hanging cages and ladders have been proposed, but then he agrees the cats will likely outwit him and the hamsters would not survive.

Poor little hamsters.






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Sunday, April 21, 2013

The Internet: A Warning From History



"I lost eleven years of my life to the internet, looking at pictures of cats."

Remember that episode of Star Trek: The Next Generation where Will Riker turns everyone on to this game he was introduced to on Risa and no one can stop playing it and it turns out the game is part of an alien race's secret plot to take over the Enterprise? I have often wondered how much of our world's current fascination with the world wide web is a case of life imitating art--sure, we all think the internet is safe, but often, doesn't it feel like just a giant TIME SUCK? And it is all well and good to say "step away and read a good book," but three hours later, you are still staring at the screen, reading about the Kurgan Hypothesis (which you stumbled upon eventually after hours of clicking through various articles which originated with the one I linked to at the beginning of this paragraph). The aliens won't even need to park their spaceships over our cities at this rate. Menacing is so last century, don't you think?

Also, I love the meta ending.

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Sweet Caroline



I once knew a guy who said that there were two types of people in the world: people who loved Neil Diamond and people who just didn't know enough about Neil Diamond.

According to the Red Sox radio announcers, Neil Diamond showed up at Fenway Park yesterday and asked if he could lead the crown in a sing along. If I didn't already fall in the category of people who love Neil Diamond (in both a serious and an ironic way, there are many layers to my love), this would do it.

I'll admit, I was bit stunned that with the gray hair and beard no longer looks anything like Count Von Count (not that he ever really did anywhere outside of my head--Neil Diamond does not have purple skin, and I don't think I have ever seen him in evening wear as he is on record as being forever in blue jeans).

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There Is Power In A Union- Take 2



Second semester of freshman year, I took a history class called Culture and Society in Twentieth Century America. It was taught by a professor who did not receive tenure at my school, so as it turned out, I was lucky to take the class not only because I was a freshman taking an upper level history course, but because he left after that semester to teach at a school which did offer him tenure (alas, the cruelty of academia). But really, I was lucky because it was an amazing class which continues to influence how I understand the world. Had this professor stayed at Reed, I am fairly sure I would have ditched my interest in Japanese history and written a thesis in American studies. Maybe (remember, it was my interest in Japanese theatre which led me to Japanese history. It is possible my trajectory would have remained the same. Or maybe I would have stayed in theatre).

At one point in the class, he asked us how many of us had a parent a trade union. I only remember two people (in a class of 30) raising their hands and one of them was an exchange student from England. It was a powerful illustration of not only who ends up at expensive private schools in America, but the state of unions at the end of the last century. And it feels like things have only gotten worse since then.

I mention this because it is something I think about in relation to Julian. Despite being a child of the "professional class", despite his privilege, he will be able to raise his hand and say, "yes, my mom is a proud union member." He also will be able to say that his first concert was Billy Bragg when he was seven (though he grumbled and slept through it).


So, yeah, I was really excited that Billy Bragg signed my union card!

This post is over a week old, but I failed to post it until now. Oops.


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Friday, April 12, 2013

Life Imitates a Jane Smiley Novel

Officer Corral Loose Pig in Greensboro

"Neither the animal control officers nor a Greensboro police officer who also responded knew where the pig came from"

People, if there is one thing that literature has taught us it is that the hog which appears suddenly on your lawn is probably the escaped test subject from a secret project conducted by a rogue professor at the local university.

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Good Bye Green Honda

For nearly 18 years, this is what I saw in the morning.


At least, it is what I saw on the mornings when I drove.

For years, people asked when I planned to get a new car. "Never," I would tell them. "This car will be pried from my cold dead hands," I would say, and then, reconsidering what I was implying, "I mean, I expect it to die in the garage, peacefully, in its sleep." Of course, I said that when it was in great condition, when the people doing the asking were the guys at the Honda dealership, begging me to sell it to them. I ignored the scrapes and scratches, the dents and rust, because it still looked super luxe after a car wash in spite of it all, at least it did to me. However, over the course of the past year, all the previous years seemed to make themselves known. The mechanics at the dealership were no longer asking for right of first refusal, they were asking how much money I realistically wanted to put into the car for "unnecessary" repairs. 

We hadn't expected it to happen so quickly. We just thought we were going to test drive some cars and look at a used car that was crazy low priced, but we never planned to part with our car there and then. I told people that there was no way we were buying a car on Saturday and they smirked at my naivete. We had never been in a car dealership before and had no idea what we were getting ourselves into.


So, as it turns out, we gave up the car before it gave up on us. Put that way, I feel incredibly disloyal. However, it was a decision had to make, if not on Saturday then someday, and it was good to let it go while it still had some life left in it. We hope it will make someone else extremely happy. 

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