Sunday, November 30, 2008

we wanted to be the sky

Friday night I got out of work early with every intention of buckling down on that awful paper I have been putting off all week, but found myself just sitting back and listening to music in my apartment for a while instead. Somewhere during Colors and the Kids by Cat Power I was hit by a heavy dose of nostalgia. It literally shook me, it was such a heavy feeling. I reverted to my time in San Francisco, and felt again how small that city once made me feel. It was an odd sensation.

San Francisco made me feel very small, but not necessarily in a bad way. I would walk up and down those staggering hills with my headphones, marveling at the vastness of existence; the mechanisms of city life; all the strange characters - businessmen and businesswomen and bohemians and bums, who bump into but never see each other - the organisms of buses and and taxicabs, all the lights set on timers, illuminating that soft fog at night that floats in from the ocean. Everything was alive, in some way or another. And my little, lost self looked up and felt dizzy. I was simultaneously thrilled and terrified. I saw a sea of strangers and wanted to get to know them, but averted my eyes at all costs. Part of me lamented the lack of sodality, but another part really reveled in the ability to walk around, observing, without ever being noticed. And so I felt really small and insignificant, but oddly comforted in that at the same time.

It's how I feel sometimes when I take a solitary drive at night, cruising down dark roads absorbed in some musical moment. I imagine that I could just keep going, without any set destination, without any responsibility or ties. I could turn off my phone and slalom through flickering neon truck-stops, counting the deer-crossing signs, and wondering how long the moon will follow. Each passing road sign would be a reminder of the enormity of the world, each pause between songs a reminder of my seclusion. I'd smile. I'd cry. I'd eventually turn around.

So this burst of nostalgia caused a sudden urge to go for a drive. It was a short one, but lovely. The air felt nice, the familiar surroundings became new, strange, because they didn't matter.

After a while I ended up at Books-a-million, because bookstores are second only to joy rides (and possibly a good record store). I perused for an hour or so, fingering through pages, alone amongst a crowd of people.

But as usual that solitary joy was replaced by pining for company, and I soon found myself in the presence of some dear friends (Austin, Ashley, Dean, and Brandy), sitting in a dark room, each taking turns entreating something beautiful from the ipod plugged into the sound system. And then the tide of the evening shifted again, and I was carried to a birthday party of a new acquaintance, chatting it up with strangers. The conversations were not anything notable, but I was feeling unusually content.

And it struck me: I've been meeting some really great people lately, people who seem to see things in me that I am unable to see in myself. I've always felt that there was a giant misunderstanding in how people percieved me, as if my internal strife was reality and the external affability merely a mask. I'd regard any kind words with silent suspicion, feeling like some grave error was made. (I am reminded of that wonderful line in Juno: "I don't really know what kind of [guy] I am")

So much of my life has been spent averting my eyes, attempting to convey social grace while internally squirming. I'm done with that. I'm tired of it. I'm learning to allow people their conceptions, and in-turn allowing that to inform my own conception of myself (when appropriate).

I'm sorry I've averted my eyes from you. I'll figure it all out on my next solitary drive, and turn around like I always do, and never ride alone again.


I feel like ending this with the lyrics to the aforementioned song, because they're so much better than anything I could write (though probably not as powerful without Chan Marshall's beautiful voice, so go out and buy the album).

It must be the colors and the kids that keep me alive,
'cause the music is boring me to death.
It must just be the colors and the kids that keep me alive,
'cause I want to go right away, to a January night.

I built a shack with an old friend,
he was someone I could learn from,
someone I could become.

Will you meet me down on a sandy beach?
We could roll up our jeans, so the tide won't get us below the knees.

Yellow hair, you are a funny bear.
Yellow hair, you are such a funny bear.

Slender fingers would hold me.
Slender limbs would hold me.
And you could say my name,
like you knew my name.

I could stay here, become someone different.
I could stay here, become someone better.

It's so hard to go in the city, because you want to say hello to everybody
It's so hard to go into the city, because you want to say hey, I love you to everybody.

When we were teenagers we wanted to be the sky
Now all we want to do is go to red places, and try to stay out of Hell.

It must be the colors and the kids that keep me alive.
Cause the music is boring me to death.
It must just be the colors and it must just be the kids,
that keep me alive on this January night.

Yellow hair, you are a funny bear.
Yellow hair, you are such a funny bear.

-Cat Power

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

hopefully it occurs to me...

Because of a sudden and inexplicable burst of holiday spirit that came over me last night, I found myself craving a Christmas movie. So, after realizing that my dvd collection is severely lacking in holiday movies, I popped in Elf. I was really happy for a little while (the combination of Will Farrell and Zooey Deschanel is a force to be reckoned with in my consciousness), but then it finally dawned on me how much this Christmas is going to suck. I've been ignoring the fact, or at least not giving it much thought, that I'll be stuck in FL, by myself, working on both Christmas Eve and Christmas itself. This is a potent combination of terrible circumstances: no family, no snow/chance of snow/or even cold enough temperatures where you could make a fire and pretend like its snowing, and work. Blah.

It might be different if this was a job that I really enjoyed, engaged in. Don't get me wrong, I like my job, it's decent, and I'm good at it, but it's not exactly what I'm shooting for as a career.

So after a little solo pity party (which may have just continued in those last two paragraphs... sorry) I picked up the book I've been reading lately - that is, if you can call it reading; it takes me about fifteen minutes or more per page because it's so dense, and I'm not exaggerating, but that's a good thing, because it's fantastic - No Man is an Island by Thomas Merton, and got a much needed dose of perspective. The chapter is called "Sentences on Hope" and here's what I read:

"Supernatural hope is the virtue that strips us of all things in order to give us possession of all things. We do not hope for what we have. Therefore, to live in hope is to live in poverty, having nothing. And yet, if we abandon ourselves to economy of Divine Providence, we have everything we hope for... Hope deprives us of everything that is not God, in order that all things may serve their true purpose as means to bring us to God."

This kind of blew my mind. What we hope for we do not possess, so the act of hope, in itself, without fruition, is actually despondency disguised as a positive emotion, and the loss of hope is actually that which truly edifies, because it causes us to abandon ourselves to the economy of Divine Providence. Amazing.

This is not to say I have no right to be sad about this upcoming Christmas. I will still be sad. But this just gave me a little tap, reminding me of precedence.

And although I'm working all day tomorrow (Thanksgiving) there is plenty to be thankful for. Like this book I'm reading, with gems like this: "It is lawful to love all things and to seek them once they become means to the love of God. There is nothing we cannot ask of Him if we desire it in order that He may be more loved by ourselves or by others." And music. And friends, who hear that I'm working on Thanksgiving and send me text messages like this one: "Aw, well if you want a meal or leftovers or quality family time, my house is open :)" (Thanks, katie). And fresh air. And sweater vests. And corny movie moments making you tear up. And family. And love. And joy. And peace. And patience. And kindness. And goodness. And faithfulness. And gentleness. And self-control. And love. And love. And love. And the fact that all these things are available to us even when a potent combination of terrible circumstances converge. And that feeling of placing the last period on something you wrote and knowing that its true.

Monday, November 24, 2008

go look at your eyes, they're full of moon

"Whenever the dog and I see each other we both stop where we are. We regard each other with a mixture of sadness and suspicion, and then we feign indifference. We walk past each other safely; we have an understanding. It’s very sad, but you’ll have to admit that it is an understanding. We had made many attempts at contact, and we had failed... And what has been the result: the dog and I have attained a compromise, more of a bargain, really. We neither love nor hurt because we do not try to reach each other. And, was trying to feed the dog an act of love? And, perhaps, was the dogs trying to bite me not an act of love? If we can so misunderstand, then why have we bothered to invent the word love in the first place?"
-Edward Albee, The Zoo Story

I had a nice little chat with Prof. DeBorde on friday afternoon. We talked a little bit about my performance of a scene from this play for Oral Interpretation class, which she had recommended to me heartily, saying "The Zoo Story! Steve, you should do it, you are sooo Edward Albee." Now, I had never read The Zoo Story before, but after finishing it I got all pensive, wondering why in the world she felt this was me. It's a bizzare play... very bizarre. I mean, it's genuis, I love it, but, it's twisted. Part of the reason I love Mrs. DeBorde is because she obviously really cares about her students. She takes the time to pay attention to you, and truly desires to know you as a person. And she's good at doing that. I think I can safely say she's my favorite teacher ever. Well anyway, we were chatting about this and that and she said that she thinks I should do some acting. WHAT? This class was really hard for me, because I'm not good with getting up in front of people... especially if I have to perform something. I was so nervous every time. But she said that she thought I had some natural ability to communicate, and that there was "rawness" in how I did things, which was effective. And some of my classmates seemed to think those silly performances were good too. It's amazing how different our own perceptions of ourselves can be from other peoples'. It's refreshing that it's that way, actually; encouraging, maybe. But I probably still won't be taking up acting any time soon... unless it's like what's on Mitch Hedberg's acting resume: "If I play pool, and I make a shot, I act like I'm not surprised."

At any rate. I've been thinking about The Zoo Story ever since I first read it a few weeks ago, particularly the above quote, and how complicated love can be. I think that's a good thing, love's complexities are beautiful... sometimes... right? I don't know. There's a paradox in my thinking here... because I also adore Neruda's picture of love:

I love you straightforwardly, without complexitites or pride
And so I love you because I know no other way than this:
where I does not exist, nor you
so close that your hand on my chest is my hand
so close that when you close your eyes I fall asleep

So I don't know. I think talking intelligently about love is an impossibly. It's too big a concept. Not that we don't try - I've had countless conversations with Ammi on the subject, and we're always trying to put our finger on something that just refuses to be pinned down. We end up speaking in for instances; real-life examples meant to be some kind of reasoning (which is actually quite odd considering our individual track records). These complexities seem to be popping up everywhere. From talking about it with friends to reading it in their blogs, I've noticed there's a great deal of disillusionment going around. Ammi's latest post talks about simplicity in this realm: that love either is, or isn't. Perhaps that's the case, but I'm thinking of Jerry and the dog, and their feigned indifference, and their miscommunication, and the fallibility of the word love, its smallness, and I'm thinking that maybe it's not always so clear, that people can't be so simplified. But perhaps I refuse to believe that it's that simple because of my own situation... yeah, that's a possibility. Lauri wrote about a suspicion, or rather, a disbelief in true love, to which I responded in polite disagreement, and quoted Joni Mitchell. Janice stopped believing in it, but has since rediscovered it.

I don't know, I don't know. It's complicated. It's simple. It hurts. It heals. I don't know.

I did say talking intelligently about love is an impossibility right?

Jerry and the dog never realize each others' love. They feigned indifference too long. Maybe the moral of the story is to be open, maybe that alleviates some of the complexity... maybe.

I wear my heart on my sleeve, I just roll it up a little.

[insert a clever title here]

I caved and reactivated my facebook last night. Here's the deal: I figured my time at Southeastern is coming to a close, and there are some people I'd like to keep in touch with... even if its only in the paltry, electronic mode of human interaction. So why not? I never did achieve that goal that I had set for myself when I deleted it in the first place; vigorously attempting to revive the lost art of letter writing (I wrote about two hand-written letters to friends and then gave it up... perhaps I'll try that out again...) Within five minutes of reactivating my account I received two wall posts, and was instantly reminded of how facebook is truly a world of its own, and I found myself very estranged from this universe. All my old information was saved, so it was as if facebook never really expected me to leave for real; knew I would come back, like some kind of sick parental relationship where they keep your room just as it was until you're thirty... but this room that was kept for me wasn't really mine anymore. I had to go through and delete so much... for various reasons... not the least of which being that most of the photographs on there came from a time when I wasnt single... awkward... so I ditched all that. Now I'm going through the somewhat-arduous process of digitally befriending all the people I have befriended since my former facebook days. On the plus side it gives me time to sit and listen to some new tunes.

This is a stupid and boring post. Sorry. Maybe I'll make up for it later.

ps - I started typing "anything by..." under my book interests, and apparantly there is some kind of auto-complete function on facebook now, and I'm gussing it works by most frequently used entries... and the first result was "Anything by Nicholas Sparks"
That cracked me up... I don't know why.

Friday, November 21, 2008

grow my own, my own seed shall be sown...

I received a text from Carter this morning, who moved to NYC last week. It read: "It's snowing here... I love this place!!!"

My heart aches.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008


I had to go to Walmart at midnight just for this. I'll be curled up in bed for the rest of the evening enjoying this little guy immensely.

Monday, November 17, 2008

something about love, then big liz

The seemingly simple act of loving others is not nearly as simple as it seems. This is something I am realizing lately (or, something I've known, but is resonating lately). It's so easy to get discouraged by the absence of love in the world, and I'm finding that it's also then so easy to capitulate to the norm - perhaps I'm incorrect in assuming that the norm is deficient in love... I'd like to believe I am, actually, but... I don't know - at any rate, I'm guilty of capitulating at times. And when it happens it tears at something in my consciousness; I no longer feel like me. Sometimes I recover quickly, but other times I do not...

At church this week there was an announcement concerning a Christmas gift-drive for local poverty-stricken areas, but instead of donating toys for children, we will be collecting gifts geared for adults, and then selling them cheaply (like.. for pennies) to local kids to give their parents as Christmas presents. And I love the idea. I think it's so awesome, because, they'll be able to bless others, and that's the best part about Christmas. These kids will get to experience the joy of loving on people.

I have been finding myself needing to rediscover that joy lately, in order to recover.

"The gift of love is the gift of the power and the capacity to love, and therefore, to give love with full effect is also to receive it. So, love can only be kept by being given away, and it can only be given perfectly when it is also received."

"It is clear, then, that to love others well we must first love the truth. And since love is a matter of practical and concrete human relations, the truth we must love when we love our brothers [and sisters] is not mere abstract speculation: it is the moral truth that is to be embodied and given life in our own destiny and theirs. This truth is more than the cold perception of an obligation, flowing from moral precepts. The truth we must love in loving our brothers [and sisters] is the concrete destiny and sanctity that are willed for them by the love of God."

-Thomas Merton, No Man is an Island

Elizabeth P. wanted to finish my blog. Here it is:

anywayz this is big liz.
anyway. tonight i worked at lake miriam. it was pretty cool. it was pretty fun.
i met this girl named dana. a little bit fat but kinda sweet.
pretty messy, pretty sticky time.
now i am going to apple bees. some of the people there are my friends.
talk to the hand cuz the face ain't listnen
me and my sis rock.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

it's not that we're scared, it's just that it's delicate


A thousand doors ago
when I was a lonely kid
in a big house with four
garages and it was summer
as long as I could remember,
I lay on the lawn at night,
clover wrinkling under me,
the wise stars bedding over me,
my mother's window a funnel
of yellow heat running out,
my father's window, half shut,
an eye where sleepers pass,
and the boards of the house
were smooth and white as wax
and probably a million leaves
sailed on their strange stalks
as the crickets ticked together
and I, in my brand new body,
which was not a woman's yet,
told the stars my questions
and thought God could really see
the heat and the painted light,
elbows, knees, dreams, goodnight.
-Anne Sexton

In our discussion of Anne Sexton's poetry today, I made a suggestion that was fairly quickly dismissed. I posed an argument that the poem (transcribed above) is laden with sexual undertones. Before this the discussion was mainly centering on some vague feeling of loss that the poem conveyed, that it is a reflection on a time lost, peaceful, serene. The discussion was less a discussion and more a popcorn machine popping sporadic comments, but purity was mentioned, innocence, childhood. Given that it seemed established that this was a lament on some loss of innocence, I really didn't think it was a giant leap to my reading: that the poem is a reflection on the moment before losing her virginity, and how that changed things. I mentioned something about the language; how she was laying on her back, the stars "bedding" over her, her new body "not a woman's yet," "heat," "elbows, knees" etc. which was received with some hearty, but probably mostly nervous laughter. Cotton just said "well, I've been around the block, but I don't see that."

Eh. So I probably seem like some kind of pervert to my fellow classmates who don't know me, but I swear it's in there. I'm not crazy.

I got the feeling that my line of discussion was so quickly dismissed because we had some visitors in the class. A prospective student and her parents, who got up and left before our discussion of the next selection. We also neglected to discuss "Housewife" I think for the very same reason (there's no getting around the undertones (overtones) in that one. Actually, maybe there is, because a few of my small group members really thought she was talking about a house). I think we would have discussed it had they not been there, which was disconcerting to me, because, if that was the case, then we're sacrificing honesty and truth to gain... what? Why should we pacify prospective student's parents when they come to visit, making our University look like a resort of some kind; what is that? It's academia, not Club Med. We're also lying to the student, I think. And do we really even want a student body that is unwilling to roll up their sleeves and address some stuff that isn't comfortable? (I hope this doesn't come off like I'm senselessly bashing Southeastern, because I really do like my school. And it's really annoying how much people complain about it.)

I understand the need to be delicate when it comes to questionable literature, but we also need to be real. This is a constant problem in the English department here; where to draw the line.

My sentiment is that the line is unimportant, that closing your eyes to something does not make it go away, that truth is more important than anyone's sensibilities, and that we should be "wise as serpents, and gentle as doves."

Monday, November 3, 2008

goodbye blue monday

"I will come to a time in my backwards trip when November eleventh, accidentally my birthday, was a sacred day called Armistice Day. When I was a boy, and when Dwayne Hoover was a boy, all the people of all the nations which had fought in the First World War were silent during the eleventh minute of the eleventh hour of Armistice Day, which was the eleventh day of the eleventh month.

It was during that minute in nineteen hundred and eighteen, that millions upon millions of human beings stopped butchering one another. I have talked to old men who were on battlefields during that minute. They have told me in one way or another that the sudden silence was the Voice of God. So we still have among us some men who can remember when God spoke clearly to mankind.

Armistice Day has become Veterans' Day. Armistice Day was sacred. Veterans' Day is not.
So I will throw Veterans' Day over my shoulder. Armistice Day I will keep. I don't want to throw away any sacred things

What else is sacred? Oh, Romeo and Juliet, for instance.
And all music is."
-Kurt Vonnegut, Breakfast of Champions

Someone in class tonight said that Romeo and Juliet is the worst story ever told. It made me think of this passage. It also disgusted me.

What will follow this page break is a bit of narcissistic rambling that need not be read by anyone. Don't say I didn't warn you.


I'm feeling melancholic lately. I need to get out of my head. I need to stop thinking about it. I've been trying to stop thinking about it. I need some perspective. I need to let go. I need to hold on. I need to try. I need to give up. I've been trying to give up. I need to stop thinking that I'm being overly analytical. I need to stop being overly analytical. Being overly analytical is killing me. I need to be confident. I need to believe that this could be something. I need to stop believing that this could be something. I need to stop confusing what I need and what I want. I want to know. I need to know. I'll probably never know. This is supposed to go away, not supposed to last this long. That means something. That means that I'm an idiot. I have no reason to dream but I dream anyway. These dreams are killing me. If I may trust the flattering truth of sleep... Ah me! How sweet is love itself possess'd, when but love's shadows are so rich in joy.

Saturday, November 1, 2008

dream job/life

I am building a future workspace in my mind: a small room with hardwood floors, on whose off-white walls are frantically pinned items of inspiration - a few torn-out pages of Dostoevsky over here, some Salinger over there... would it be sacrilegious to tear pages out of the Bible and pin them on a wall? Hmm. Perhaps some of my favorite poems transcribed harshly, directly on the walls themselves with black sharpie. Dali's Girl with Curls, maybe some Van Gogh. Photographs of people I love.

There will be a small table and chair in the center of the room, littered with empty cups, napkins, or receipts, or other small pieces of paper inked with nonsense, a Macbook (or whatever they might call it in the years to come), and a small, very low-light lamp, maybe with a black shade.

Perhaps one wall will be reserved for a projection screen on which to view films. Over in the corner will be a wooden crate holding some of the films that mean the most to me, easily at hand to watch that one scene that causes something to rise in the spirit or sink in the heart.

One big window, thin, stretching nearly the entire height of the wall, broken into panels by wood covered in cracked paint. It would be several stories above the ground and look out over Central Park, and would open outward, hinges on each side and a latch in the center. There would always be a breeze, cool, occasionally freezing, but mostly refreshing. At night the window would creak and softly bang with the brief gusts of wind.

There would be no other furniture in the room except the table and chair in the center so that there would be plenty of room for pacing around, feeling the hardwood on bare feet. The chair wouldn't be a comfortable one, because the room is not designed for lounging, but for working, and the pacing around will be working, and the looking at the photographs on the wall of people I love will be working, and the staring out the window for hours at night will be working.

But my favorite part of the room is the photograph framed on the desk, and the fact that its subject is not far away, proving to be the greatest inspiration. Perhaps she's staring out the window of the room she has built for the very same purpose, just down the hall.

And when we're both done working maybe I'll cook some dinner. And we'll watch an old movie on our big, soft couch, our fingers glad to be done tapping away at keyboards; resting, intertwined, spelling out a word that can never be captured in four small letters.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

tobias is queen mary

I'm pretty bummed that I have to work on Halloween this year. It's one of my favorite holidays. Everyone is silly, and generally in good spirits, and I love that. At least we get to dress up for work. But since it's work I really haven't given much thought to what I'm going to dress up as. My costume last year was my favorite ever, although not very many people understood what I was... but those who did understood all to well (I was getting high-fives all night long from those who did, and many of you know how much I love those). The best part was that it only cost me like $10 - A bald cap, a fake mustache, cut-offs, and some makeup for fake body hair and bingo, Tobias Funke: the first ever Analyst and Therapist aka Analrapist (it didn't look good on paper) and of course loud and proud nevernude (there are dozens of us. Dozens!)

The only downside to that costume was that I was freezing all night. It was worth it though.

Also, I have been listening to the Fleet Foxes album all week, and its incredible. If you haven't heard it, I highly recommend that you check it out.

And here's a random poem, just because.
"Lie still now
while I prepare for my future,

certain hard days ahead,
when I'll need what I know so clearly this moment.

I am making use
of the one thing I learned
of all the things my father tried to teach me:
the art of memory.

I am letting this room
and everything in it
stand for my ideas about love
and its difficulties.

I'll let your love-cries,
those spacious notes
of a moment ago,
stand for distance.

Your scent,
that scent
of spice and a wound,
I'll let stand for mystery.

Your sunken belly
is the daily cup
of milk I drank
as a boy before morning prayer.

The sun on the face
of the wall
is God, the face
I can't see, my soul,

and so on, each thing
standing for a separate idea,
and those ideas forming the constellation
of my greater idea.
And one day, when I need
to tell myself something intelligent
about love,

I'll close my eyes
and recall this room and everything in it:
My body is estrangement.
This desire, perfection.
Your closed eyes my extinction.
Now I've forgotten my
idea. The book
on the windowsill, riffled by wind...
the even-numbered pages are
the past, the odd-
numbered pages, the future.
The sun is
God, your body is milk...

useless, useless...
your cries are song, my body's not me...
no good ... my idea
has evaporated...your hair is time, your thighs are song...
it had something to do
with had something
to do with love."
-Li-Young Lee

Monday, October 27, 2008

bingo bango bongo. something the whole family can enjoy

I'm sure people are looking at me in this quiet coffee shop and wondering what the hell is wrong with the kid laughing uncontrollably by himself over in the corner. C'est la vie.

Ducks fly together

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

i am truly sorry about all this

I heard a story tonight. No, a story is not accurate; a bit of gossip, really. Since I have little interest in such things, and only mention it here because it sparked something in my mind, I will not repeat the scandal, but here's a euphemism to set the context: a boy gets kicked out of a grocery store for juggling two apples, one of which was the assistant manager of the grocery store.

I don't expect that to make sense, but I felt the need to write something silly. Sometimes, all you can do is laugh about things that make you sick.

At any rate, this bit of gossip was delivered to me with vigorous veneration... and I smiled (because I really don't know what else to do in these moments), but felt ill inside.

Here's the thing: I have a bit of a hang-up with gender roles. I always cringe when people say that "men are..." or "women are..." But if I'm being honest, sometimes I just can't agree with most of my male friends. Sometimes (most of the time) I can't stand how they talk, the things they get excited about, the way they talk about... I'd say love, but that would really only be another euphemism... about... relationships?

And I'm always the guy that when my female friends say things like "guys only care about sex" or "all men are assholes" says: "hey now, that's not true. There are plenty of really great guys out there" or something of similar valor. But, in reality, out of all of the males I know, there are only a handful that I would be comfortable really standing up for when it comes down to ideals of love.

Now, don't get me wrong, I know plenty of women who are just as depraved as the "conventional male", but as a member of the male persuasion, I see more blatant honesty than I'd care to, and therefore am in a better position to critique my own gender. In other words, as a standard, (which I try desperately to avoid), I'd really like to believe that gender has nothing to do with an ideal of love, but the scale is tipped in my personal experience.

The worst part is feeling like I have to slap these people on the back, or give them high-fives for things that are disgusting to me. I just sit there and smile, wishing I would stand up and leave.

It's Okay - I'll shake your hand, and be affable, but you should know that your proximity to something so, so beautiful tears at my sensibilities. You and your self-interest do not deserve to be that close, to the point where I almost felt bad using the same hand as a greeting.

But again, sometimes all you can do is laugh about such things. Which is why I'm really glad these two guys are around.

Monday, October 20, 2008

autumn rhythm

The air smelled like autumn yesterday. It was intoxicating, inspiring, and fleeting. I miss the north sometimes so badly it hurts, but here in FL during these months there are moments that breathe a semblance of that crisp autumn aura. It reminds me of Jackson Pollock, of blisters on my palms from raking leaves, of pumpkin patches, of dead leaves scraping the hardening ground and making music, of hearing the air-brakes of school buses quickly replaced by the shouts of children free for the afternoon, of the way your breath becomes slightly visible as the light drains out of the sky. I'd have to say fall is my favorite season, for reasons I can't quite articulate. There is a paradox in the beauty of autumn: everything is dying, but nature lights up for a moment before fading to white, playing out its swan song in beatific sensory details, and in that moment everything feels right.

Autumn is a season of transition, and I have found that my life echoes its example. The most drastic changes in my life always come in the fall. I'm not sure what changes await me this fall, but I'm ready for them, God am I ready for them. It seems that some of the things I thought might happen this semester have slipped away. Some of the things I had hoped for, that, probably, I had no reason to hope for in the first place, are now hopeless. But hopelessness of things hoped for is not to be confused with hopelessness in life, as that first breath in stepping outside yesterday morning reminded me.

Yesterday I had a very full day: church, work, homework, then a midnight airport trip to pick up Elizabeth. Before leaving for the airport I made a playlist of some music that sounds like autumn to me. Two albums in particular: Dave Matthews' solo album Some Devil and Rilo Kiley's The Execution of all Things. Some Devil was released in the fall after graduating highschool, and The Execution of all Things was a steady companion the next fall while I was in San Fransico. So each song is a heavy dose of nostalgia for me. There was a lot more on the playlist, of course, but songs from these spoke especially loud as I cruised down I4.

As the cool air swam around my head and the music played to the rhythm of painted lines speeding by, I began wondering what to do after this semester. Portland is more than a possibility - my sisters both really want me to come out there, the city itself is amazing and I think i'd fit there. NYC is, of course, ultimately where I want to end up, but I can't afford it yet... unless my cousin wants to have a pro-bono roommate in his upper-west-side apartment (ha, I wish). My sis lives in Brooklyn, I could always get an apartment with her... close enough, I suppose, slightly more affordable. Maybe I'll just pack up and move to Paris. Or maybe I'll stick around Lakeland for a bit. I really don't know. I want to though. I really do.

On a lighter note, I saw a promotion for McDonald's Monopoly game thing where a bunch of people were photographed together and labeled "Last Years Monopoly Winners" It was highly suspect - they hit every demographic with this picture, like the back of board games with the all-inclusive multicultrual family laughing and patting each other on the back while rolling dice. Hey McDonald's and Milton Bradley, your marketing schemes are a little too obvious. I'm all about inclusion, but tone it down a little, eh?

Saturday, October 18, 2008

what does it take to fulfull a dream that changes every day?

My computer is filled with microsoft word files containing absolute dribble. Beginnings to stories, promts for novels, nonsensical breathings, etc. Hundreds of them, organized by date; a really ridiculous journal that I never think about or revisit. Tonight I opened up a few out of curiosity. The ones on my actual computer (not including the thousands on my hard drive) go back as far as 2005, and in revisitng them I realized that if I met myself a few years ago I wouldn't recognize me. It's amazing how much we change without realizing it. This one is dated 10. 21. 06, and is apparently a beginning to a narrative:

“We are different people now,” she said.

“No," he said, "we were different people before--when we used to sit inside and laugh about the world outside. Now we; head down and hands tied, shuffle in the long grey line of death. We both are the same now, you and I... What happened to our dreams? I remember when they concerned fulfillment of love and kindness, gentleness and peace, patience and grace. Our dreams now are only concerned with money and power, style and consequence, self-fulfillment and disappointment. We dream of the future while disregarding the past and the present. We lost in our youth what we hoped to gain in adulthood, not realizing that we already had it--whatever it was, I can’t even remember anymore. I just know something’s missing. I catch a glimpse of it sometimes, when in a dark room, drunk and tired, I await something new. But it is fleeting and it fails me, or maybe I fail it. Is there more to life than sitting inside and dreaming of the world outside? What does it take to fulfill a dream that changes every day?
We were different people once.
We used to sit inside the comfort of our own world and laugh at the people outside the windows we imagined. The only thing I dreamed was you, so that a dream was anticipatory of waking. Now waking grows harder. Eagar am I no more to rise from the opulence of a life fulfilled in the sleeping realm. And they say life goes on. Most likely, they are right… and yet, I shudder to call this life.”

I have no idea what was going on in my life in October 2006 that caused me to write this. I don't know who I was thinking of... I don't even remember writing it. It's weird, because in reading it I feel like there was some severe pain behind it all, but I can't for the life of me recall it. Maybe that's a good thing. But it's strange, because it makes me feel like I don't really understand me. And shouldn't we know ourselves better than anyone else?

Eh. Who knows.

How am I not myself? How am I not myself?

Monday, October 13, 2008

to begin with... everything

I've recently been attempting to rebuild my dvd collection. I do this thing where if I mention a movie to someone who has never seen it (no matter who they are) I insist that they borrow it from me.

"You've never seen Magnoila? Shut up... here, take it."

Then I forget to get it back. (There was also that period of time in San Fransisco when I didn't have a job and resorted to pawning off a good portion of my collection just to make a few bucks... sigh.)

Over the years my collection has dwindled from such events. Its gotten to the point where one might think I have a lame taste in movies because so few of the best ones are left. So for the past few weeks I have been making trips to FYE after church, perusing the shelves for used copies of the very films I used to claim (and some new additions as well, of course). It's amazing how many great movies you can find used for under $10.

This week these lovelies came back to me:

Almost Famous
The Big Lebowski (It's absurd how many times I've bought this one. I think this is the fifth copy I've owned)
Being John Malkovich

Total Cost: $34

I'm glad they're back. For reasons not the least of which is related to the fact I just popped in Almost Famous to provide some background while I write a paper, but have not succeeded in writing hardly anything. Maybe it was seeing Zooey Dechanel (because I'm boarder-line obsessed) or watching young William thumb through the Vinyls his sister left him under his bed (Zeppelin, Joni, The Who, Henrix...) or the epic soundtrack... but I couldn't peel away enough to get anything done even though I knew every step that was coming next.

In short: Cameron Crowe was successful in his goal - "to write a love letter back to music" But now I'm going to have to write a love letter to my professor, since my paper got put on the back burner. Oh well. It was worth it.

My bookshelf is the next to be revitalized, since it's in the same predicament. Amazon Marketplace is a beautiful thing.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

there's just one word that I still believe in

I'm all about social justice. Sometimes I think it may be the only thing I am truly passionate about (aside from God, of course, but these two things are so tightly connected in my mind that when speaking about one I'm also speaking about the other). With this passion comes the inevitable onslaught of political principle. But let's get one thing straight: I hate politics. I hate talking about politics, I hate thinking about politics, and I really hate debating about politics. It only seems to divide people, and that is just crazy. Sometimes though, you just can't get around the subject, as much as you try. That being said, I'll be as delicate as I can about what's on my mind right now.

There's a lot going on in this country, and I don't have any idea what will happen... but I'm worried. Reading the news has become a chore. Each day I am more and more apprehensive to do so, because ignorance really is bliss... but then again that sort of attitude is probably 90% of the problem.

An economic crisis has been brewing for a long time now, and it seems to be reaching the spilling-point, and what that's going to mean for us remains to be seen. Yet everybody has their opinions, and they have somebody to blame, and they have their spot on some dumb news broadcast bitching about ridiculous things like how SNL went too far with their jokes about Sarah Palin, all lining up to give their two cents on something that really doesn't matter at all. Or you have presidential candidates saying they want to work together to help this situation, while in the same breath slandering the other for their delayed response or unreturned phone call and blah blah blah blah.

Here's what I think: I think no matter what's going to happen, no matter how good or bad things are about to get, the only thing that matters is community.

I don't necessarily mean community in a national sense. I do not consider myself a patriot, because all I have ever seen of patriotism is an us against them dynamic; a watered-down version of Orwell's Oceania, where the enemy outside the boarder need not be understood, met, felt, cried with, laughed with, listened to, or even seen without being considered less than, because hey, we're number one baby!
I don't agree with this dynamic within our boarders - someone’s color or tax-bracket or cultural dialect does not determine their worth - so why should I subscribe to it when in an outside context; why should I consider myself better than someone else simply because I was born in a certain country? It's absurd to me. We're not better, we're richer. There's a major difference.

But I believe in community. When this takes place within our boarders, sure, call it patriotism... I'll be on board - so long as we're talking about communing with one another; loving one another, looking out for, taking care of, and seeking to understand one another. Because that's what community really is, not waving flags nearby one another while hating the same enemy.

This thing might get bad. It really might. And I only see true community happening on a small scale in American culture. We've always been an individualistic society; it's done some great things, but is also a burden, I think. So let's tune out the voices pointing fingers, and the veiled hostility, and find some love in all this mess. It's there somewhere, it really is. We're all gonna feel this economic crunch, if we aren't already, so let's hold hands and keep each other held up. Let's reach down as much as possible, and try to bring each other up. Let's understand that in the end the only thing that really matters is love.

Because it's true

"If I speak in the tongues of men and angels, but have not love, I am but a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. And if I have prophetic powers, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have all faith so as to remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. If I give away all I have, and if I deliver up my body to be burned, but have not love, I gain nothing"

I know it's already been sung, but it can't be said enough: love is all you need, all you need is love

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

kick off your sunday shoes

Telling someone that they look like someone else is a strange thing, because it could either be a compliment or an insult, depending on the persons point of view. And there's really no way of knowing, unless that parenthetical "...that's a good thing" is added on at the end.

In one week of work, on average, I get told I look like Kevin Bacon about 4 times. It lost its charm about five years ago.
I'm really not exaggerating, about one in five tables I serve tell me this. Once and a while I will get it outside of work, but very rarely. So I don't know what it is about waiting tables that brings out the Bacon in me, but it does. Maybe people just like to tell their waiters that they look like someone. I've also been told an uncomfortable number of times that I look like Clay Aiken... that one never had any charm. When that happens, I have to smile and pretend like its not an insult. I mean, I don't think Kevin Bacon is attractive, but at least he's kind of cool, Clay Aiken on the other hand... yeah. Yet those middle-aged ladies just love to tell me I look like "that sweet American Idol boy... oh what's his name..."

The guy who said it tonight made it a little bit easier to bear by saying I looked like a young Kevin Bacon. That's not as bad, I suppose. And apparently he had the hots for the Baconator, because he was really flirty, and when he left said, "Goodbye handsome." Gay men love me, what can I say? But hey, I'll take it, cause I don't hear that too often.

Moral of the story: If you're going to tell somebody that they look like somebody else, you should either make sure that other person isnt ugly, or at least affirm that you think its a compliment.

Monday, September 15, 2008

don't huff glue, don't drink pot

Just so you know, upon starting this blog I typed in the title bar, almost without any thought at all: if you need me i'll be over here, huffing glue.
I do not know why I felt this was an appropriate title, or why it was the first thing that came to mind, because a) I never title these things until I'm done writing them and b) I have never huffed anything, much less glue... and c) because... yeah... what?

I'm probably as confused as you are right now. But I'm also now thinking about Love Liza and what a depressing-yet-amazing movie that was, what with the whole wife-committing-suicide-so-therefore-resigning-to-a-life-of-huffing-gasoline thing, and subsequently thinking about how awesome Phillip Seymor Hoffman is and how much I can't wait for Synecdoche, New York, which I am willing to bet will not be playing around here, so I'm already prepared to complain a little bit (or a lot) before driving to Tampa or somewhere else because Charlie Kaufman is f'ing brilliant, and I will not miss seeing it in theaters.

A brief interjectory disclaimer:
1. If you're wondering if I will come to a point, I'll tell you now, I probably won't.
2. Sometimes I feel bad for the people who take the time to read this.
3. This is one of those times.

I'm thinking that really weird stream-of-consciousness title was subconciously referring to the stress I'm feeling at the moment as a result of having to write two papers this evening, or because I had to endure a really rediculous moment in class where pot was mentioned and I felt like I reverted back to third grade when the teacher said something that sounded like a part of the anatomy and everyone would get all giggly - don't get me wrong, I had to bite my tongue really hard not to laugh at this woman using slang drug language, but somewhere in there the point got entirely lost. It seemed like people were speaking up just to get the chance to talk about drugs or something... my favorite least-favorite part was when this one kid corrected her usage of the phrase smoking pot because, and I roughly quote, "you don't have to smoke it, you can eat it, or brew it in tea." I could do nothing but laugh, and die a little on the inside, because, seriously... why even open your mouth dude?

At any rate, that is neither here nor there...

I originally came here only to say this:

In case you want to know how I will be spending my evening, it will be spent slaving over my computer attempting to spit out six pages of analysis on one poem, and then another four for different paper. Luckilly the poem is of my own chosing, so its kind of fun... but still... I spent three hours at a coffee shop today going through my pages of pre-writing and scribblings on the poem itself, and staring at the blinking line in Microsoft Word, and all I left with was a title: In Surfeit of Glory: Sanguinity in A.R Ammons’ “Still”

I think its a pretty cool title though.

How is it that its only a few weeks into the semester and I'm already in this prediciment? And why have I wasted twenty minutes blabbing about nothing here?

For those of you who are still reading, I'm impressed, and apologetic. As a token of my, uh, either gratitude or sympathy, here's some good writing; the aforementioned poem.

by A.R Ammons

I said I will find what is lowly
and put the roots of my identity
down there:
each day I’ll wake up
and find the lowly nearby,
a handy focus and reminder,
a ready measure of my significance,
the voice by which I would be heard,
the wills, the kinds of selfishness
I could
freely adopt as my own:

but though I have looked everywhere,
I can find nothing
to give myself to:
everything is

magnificent with existence, is in
surfeit of glory:
nothing is diminished,
nothing has been diminished for me:

I said what is more lowly than the grass:
ah, underneath,
a ground-crust of dry-burnt moss:
I looked at it closely
and said this can be my habitat: but
nestling in I
below the brown exterior
green mechanisms beyond intellect
awaiting resurrection in rain: so I got up

and ran saying there is nothing lowly in the universe:
I found a beggar:
he had stumps for legs: nobody was paying
him any attention: everybody went on by:
I nestled in and found his life:
there, love shook his body like a devastation:
I said
though I have looked everywhere
I can find nothing lowly
in the universe:

I whirled through transfigurations up and down,
transfigurations of size and shape and place:

at one sudden point came still,
stood in wonder:
moss, beggar, weed, tick, pine, self, magnificent
with being!

Saturday, September 13, 2008

so close that when you close your eyes, i fall asleep

Life can really catch up with you sometimes. As of tonight my roommate, also my best friend since elementary school, is engaged.

Obviously I knew this was coming; it wasn't that long ago that I smiled with him when he said he met a girl, or when we sat on swing sets in the middle of the night in a lonesome playground when he told me he thought she was the one, our feet scraping the soft sand while the crickets played their acclamation, the past few months I heard all about the ring-buying procedure, and stayed up late at night asking him how, exactly, he was going to do it... I even knew it was happening tonight... but when I came home from work and saw the smiles, it hit.

I rewind to junior-high, when climbing out of second-story windows at one a.m was so adventurous, when the world was silent and all was dark save for the footsteps of those walking beside you and the vague silhouette of familiar forms in the moonlight. Mischief. Adolescence. Self-discovery. Always having that hand outstretched that you knew you could grab, always knowing that you were with people you loved, people that, like you, didn't really have any answers, but were willing to offer up all that they did know and hope to find some semblance of truth.

I'm already preparing a speech for the wedding. I probably won't mention any of the stories from those nights of discovery and mischief, but, in reality, they will be in the spirit of the thing. The more I think about it, the older I feel, and the more I wonder where the time went, but I don't wish to go back. I'm glad for this. He deserves it. She deserves it. And I'm truly happy for them.

So tonight I'm filled with nostalgia, and gratitude, and (admittedly) jealousy - not that I'm in any rush. I have no desire to rush love. I don't think it should ever be forced, but still... tonight, I can't help but dream...

This song has been on my mind for a while now... but it's playing especially loud this evening...

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

i will bury my dream under your fig tree

I am a firm believer in the notion that dreams are meaningful. The problem is that I rarely remember my own dreams, and when I do I can't make any sense of them.

Last night I had a dream that while cleaning out a closet in my room in the house where I grew up, I came across a few shirts, of which it was aware to me, in a manner typical to dream life where one possesses a certain knowledge of something without any grounds, that they once belonged to Sylvia Plath.

They were men's shirts, mind you, and I recall being intoxicated at the mere sight of them. They were very 1960s looking, and I had every intention of wearing them routinely, if only to have something interesting to say in passing conversation.

But one of them, the one the farthest back; white with red patterns in what seemed like the shape of eagles, though the forms never fully took shape but stood out as if only visible in my periphery, gave rise to an intense sensation of foreboding. Inside the front pocket of this particular shirt I found a photograph. It was a profile shot of Sylvia Plath and some unknown man facing each other on a desolate and gray beach, arms straight at their sides and faces completely expressionless. The photograph was worn, and torn at the edges, and felt brittle in my fingers.

In the photograph it was the man who was wearing the white-with-red-pattern shirt, but, and this is the strangest part of the dream, I was acutely aware that this was the shirt Ms. Plath was wearing when she committed suicide. I did not question why it was in my closet, I merely shuddered and returned the photograph, walked away, and felt fear rise in my spine with each step.

So if anyone feels they are gifted at interpreting dreams, I'd love to know what that was all about.

Sunday, September 7, 2008

christian shepherd is everywhere

There is something wrong when I'm finding Lost references everywhere I go. Especially since the show has been in recession for months now, and will not be returning to feed my obscene addiction for several more... but also because it's a freaking television show!
None the less, my mind made references to it, quite naturally, twice today... sigh.

In church this morning the pastor brought up the movie Forrest Gump, misquoting it, actually, which secretly sent shivers down my spine and tensed my muscles; I don't know why I find it so irritating when someone misquotes, but it kills me inside... but that's neither here nor there. Luckily I was able to overcome my perturbation quickly enough to recognize that what he was saying was of some import in my life (not the bit about Forrest Gump, but rather the overall message, mind you) and genuinely had a profound religious experience shortly afterwards.
...Shortly after that I got home and decided to pop in Forrest Gump while I ate some lunch, because hey, it really is a great movie, and you know, why not?

I got about thirty minutes in before realizing that I had loads of school work to do that I've been procrastinating on for days, or rather before caring that I had loads of school work to do that I've been procrastinating on for days*, and just when that thought was crossing my mind I noticed a face I couldnt place. It was the principal of the Greenbough County Public School (side note: there's no such place as Greenbough, AL. I don't know if you're aware of this, but when I found out I was devistated); you know, that really gross man who makes Forrest's mom sleep with him so that Forrest doesn't have to go to a special school because his IQ isn't up to par? Well, I knew I recognized that actor, but I couldn't exactly place him. Torn between sheer laziness and the logical step of walking over to my computer and accessing, I rubbed my chin and muttered to myself vague questions which an onlooker may or may not have been able to distinguish as things like 'now where do I...' or 'I...could swear... for the life of me...' when finally it hit me: Bernard.
Yes, that sad little southern man in Forrest Gump, years younger and significantly thinner, was the same dude who played my beloved Bernard. Somewhere tangled with the satisfaction of solving the puzzle was a level of disdain for this man. I couldn't help but think: what happened to that sweet teary-eyed man with a quivering lip whose love for Rose conquered all? You should be ashamed of yourself.

Several hours later I'm reading the Ramayana of Valmiki for World Lit and finding even more parallels. Did you know that Dharma is social and moral order in Indian literature... or that boon is a gift? eh? eh? eeeehhhhh?

So in one day I have managed to cheapen my own personal religious experience, and one of the most important texts in Indian culture because of Lost. All in all it was a productive day - 150 more of which until season 5... sigh... I know, I know.

*writing this is procrastinating on what is still loads of school work, so obviously I didn't care all that much, and still don't.

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

my father always said laughter was the best medicine, which I guess is why several of us died of tuberculosis

I spend about an hour a day on and I get extremely depressed, but I always go immediately to The Onion and after about fifteen minutes I feel all better.

This one made me laugh for an obnoxious amount of time.

Sunday, August 31, 2008

all dogs go to heaven

My sister just called me and let me know she had to put her dog to sleep. My heart sank in my chest at the sound of her choking and wavering words. Suzie loved her so much, I can only slightly imagine how she is feeling. I can still remember coming home from school, and seeing a tiny waving white tail jutting out from the entrance to the kitchen as I climbed the stairs; I remember the smiles that circulated the room just watching her gobble up some food from a little bowl. She was so tiny then. Holding her in my lap, she fell asleep so hard, breathing and whimpering in some far-off dream, then picking her up without stirring her, her soft body fitting easily in my nine-year-old hands, and gently placing her down on the soft carpet. I remember hours of practicing lacrosse in the backyard, with her so eagerly chasing down and retrieving the ball, or her plowing through the yard after a fresh snowfall, the snow so purely white and deep that the only thing you could see of her was the brown spot on her back, like a brown circle traversing a white sea.

Fifteen years.

Fifteen years she was a part of the family, and now she's gone. I know that we were given dominion over the animals and all that, but I don't think that means they aren't sometimes capable of having dominion over our hearts.

RIP Kaya (1993 - 2008)

Saturday, August 30, 2008

what do you say when someone says

What do you say when someone says,
[but] a lot of people like her

I wonder about that but
if it was there would it change anything,
or does it chalk up to the same statement?
(does it end in the same place?)

yeah, I really like her
- a lot of people like her

I really like her
- but a lot of people like her

(- you’re not special
- you’re not good enough

but then again I’m not sure if the word love
had the right to be used in the first place.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

she's the tear that hangs inside my soul forever

I witnessed the dead rise today, but it was short-lived.

My ipod has been broken for several months... it happened unexpectedly, and for no apparent reason. When it happened, I couldn't understand why. I had taken such good care of her (the thought crossed my mind that she just couldn't handle the weight of so much awesomeness, and decided to take her own life out of shame and feelings of inadequacy). Despite my desperate cries and attempts to revive her, no tunes arose from the beating of her chest (click-wheel), or mouth-to-mouth with her USBport, so with heavy boots I gently placed her in a wooden box beside my desk.

Well, today I opened that box, and saw her, and decided to give an old love a second chance. I plugged her in, at first seeing only the familiar signs - a spinning wheel saying very low battery, followed by a frozen screen - but some glimmer of hope arose in my spirit and I tried one last time at resuscitation. And I don't know whether it was the cool melody of Cat Stevens playing through the nearby speakers, or the sunshine falling just right through the blinds, or the position of the cosmos, but my heart froze as I saw the wonderful spectacle of a flashing DO NOT DISCONNECT sign.

My love came back to me.

And it couldn't have been better timing, because at approximately 7:00pm a loud crack extended through my apartment complex and the image on the television screen abruptly shot to black, and the hum of the AC was replaced by silence. A telephone pole had exploded or something... I don't know, but I was alone, and the sun was setting, and had no power. So after it got too dark to read, I took out my beloved ipod, and sat there in solitude listening to her, and felt immense comfort. She filled my ears and heart and soul until I was completely surrounded by darkness.

And then something horrible happened.

I had to use the bathroom, but by this time (approx. 9pm) it was completely dark, so I took her in with me, and used her as a sort of flashlight. As I lifted up the toilet seat (because having had four sisters I have been conditioned to put it down after every use) something happened: my fingers faltered, my muscles refused to respond quickly enough, she slipped, I flailed, I screamed, she fell. There was a horrific sound of a splash as I saw - as if frozen in time - her beautiful, illuminated being submerged in water. Had it been a foreign bathroom my reaction might not have been so immediate, but as it was I reached right in and pulled her out, wrapping her in a towel and yelling no, no, NO!

I quickly dried her off and returned the headphone plug, and enjoyed about 30 seconds of beauty before she started faltering. Cracks and static came rushing in like high-tide, and then nothing.

The power has come back on now, but no sign of life radiates from my beloved friend. Six months of grieving, only to be taunted by a few hours of her presence... what a cruel joke.
I am - at least slightly - comforted by the fact that she went out in style... her swan song: Jeff Buckley's Lover, You Should've Come Over. (I don't know if you've ever listened to Jeff Buckley Live at SinE in darkness and solitude - preferably while driving - but you should, you really should.)

So this is my ipod's obituary:
She was faithful, she was filled with greatness, and these were her last words:

Thursday, August 21, 2008

his eyes shining with unutterable love

My last entry said something about writing more when things wind down - that was two weeks ago. The things I was talking about in that entry have been replaced by other things, which are winding up, but they aren't wound in the same chaotic, moving around the country kind of way. I'm back in FL. There was a very brief, albeit stressful, period of not knowing where I was going to live, but have since moved into an apartment with a dear friend. It's wonderful; the apartment, living with a dear friend, and the swift provision from the Provider.

I mentioned something a few entries back about feeling God's hand on my shoulder. Well, He has moved it to my back and is shoving me. It's not a bad thing at all, the opposite actually... except that I feel like I can't see ahead of me, so it's as if I'm being shoved down a really dark hallway. There's a spotlight, aimed down, so I can see about three feet of floor ahead, but that's all. It's not that I don't want to move forward, it's just that the hallway is really wide - I can tell because I can feel the air, it's spacious and has current, tiny pieces of debris are illuminated in the spotlight, and I see them, briefly, hoping them to be from wreckage behind me before they are carried away by the soft wind - and I know this hallway splinters into several hallways, and I don't know if I can feel my way through and still choose the right path. And I'm wondering if there is a right path, because I know they all end in the same place, but they diverge, at least momentarily, before running parallel, and I fear the difference could be everything. But contrary to what you might believe, the creaking of the floorboards as my feet move blindly forward is not accompanied by terror, but by awe.

It just occurred to me that something I read two days ago seems to be the perfect ending for this:

"A modern example may be found (if we are not too proud to seek it there) in The Wind in the Willows where Rat and Mole approach Pan on the island.
'Rat,' he found breath to whisper, shaking, 'are you afraid?'
'Afraid?' murmured the Rat, his eyes shining with unutterable love. 'Afraid of Him? O, never, never. And yet--and yet--O mole, I am afraid"
-C.S Lewis, The Problem of Pain

Thursday, August 7, 2008

goonies never say die

I am staying in a condo on the coast of Oregon for my sisters wedding (which is tomorrow!), directly across from this scene. It is so beautiful. The Goonies was filmed here, enough said. Last night my sister Jen and I sat out on the beach until 4am, around a small fire, feeling the cool mist linger on our skin, and listening to the waves crash down out there in the darkness in between conversations. I've never seen anything like this place... and I do not have a good enough vocabulary to do it justice, so I will not attempt it. Perhaps when things wind down I will write more about this wonderful getaway. In the meantime, a simple list of current pleasures:

1. The city of Portland
2. The coast outside of Portland
3. The way my sis Danielle makes me laugh until I cry
4. The Eddie Vedder solo show bootleg I downloaded
5. My little niece Harper

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

"With half-damp eyes I stared to the room
where my friends and I spent many an afternoon
where we together weathered many a storm
laughing and singing 'till the early hours of the morn

With hungry hearts though the heat and cold
we never much thought we could get very old
we thought we could sit forever in fun
but our chances, really, was a million to one

As easy it was to tell black from white
it was all that easy to tell wrong from right
and our choices, they were few, so the thought never hit
that the one road we traveled would ever shatter or split

I wish, I wish, I wish in vain
that we could sit simply in that room again
ten thousand dollars at the drop of a hat
I'd give it all gladly if our lives could be like that"
-Bob Dylan

I said goodbye to a handful of my best-friends tonight, for the first time not knowing when we will see each other again. Although for the past few years we have all been in different places, experiencing different things, there has always been the knowledge that we would all see each other again; there was always the anchor of a soon-to-be-summer spent together on the streets where we all learned a bit about the world surrounding us, ourselves, and each-other - basements and bars where time seemed to cease, and the degrees of separation between us melted away, leaving us with that nostalgic feeling of congeniality... which was more than enough for the time being - stories and subsequent laughter, congratulations, or tears that was not-at-all unnatural even if our voices had not been heard in months. I have gathered from my experiences with people after high-school that this level of camaraderie is a very rare thing; people often drift apart, lose interest, or cease to relate, and that friendships formulated in high-school (or even earlier, as is the case here) are more-often-than-not paltry and superficial. I am forever grateful that our experience has been an exception.

Some of the best parts of myself were born in the simple atmosphere of friendship - youth and naivety colliding, without restraint, shattering preconceptions, and causing considerable fall-out, but never destroying that hope and beauty that moved our hands to pick up all the pieces.

But time has caught up with us, and our ventures homeward are diminishing. We are scattering throughout the country, this time without the regular visits home so conducive to collegiate life. I know that it is not goodbye. I know that my children will know many "uncles" and "aunts" that are not of their bloodline, but all the same... I will miss them in-between. I am constantly moving forward, embracing change, relishing in it even, but not without lasting sentimentality for what has come before.

It's been a while since a debaucherous evening singing and swaying to this one, but this goes out to you, my friends.

Sunday, August 3, 2008

but we lean forward to the next crazy venture beneath the skies

I have a real blog now. Exciting stuff. The entire process of creating this thing was slightly overwhelming - too much going on, if you ask me, but on the bright side it allowed me to fully absorb a new album: Thao - We Brave Bee Stings and All. It's pretty darn good, too.

I only have two days left in New York, which is sad, I'm going to miss it, but I'm very excited about my sister's wedding in Portland, and I'm actually looking forward to getting back down to FL, believe it or not. It's my last semester of college. Yikes. Let's not talk about that.
I'm ready to jump back into academic mode, and ready to see how these next few months will transform my life (as it most certainly will); there are a lot of decisions to make, some of which I'm not quite ready for, but God is good, and I know everything will fall into place. He has been preparing me for some major changes; it's frustrating to not know what they are, and terrifying to guess, but I have felt His hand on my shoulder lately. I can't really ask for much more than that, although I do, I really do, I ask for a lot more than that, because sometimes I'm like Kerouac: "mad to live, mad to talk, mad to be saved, and desirous of everything at the same time." We learn by very slow degrees, sometimes without even realizing it. I've been praying to become the person He wants me to be for years, and I'm feeling myself approaching that threshold - that is not to say I haven't been where I should have been along the way, or that this journey is coming to an end, but somehow things feel different. This might sound morbid, but my entire life I was convinced I was to die at an early age (it didn't depress me, and I never dwelled on it, it was simply something I held in the back of my mind). I don't have that feeling any more. That is the best way I can explain this. I can see the future somewhere off in the distance, intangible and without definition, but it's there. This is new. This is good.

picture in a frame

Last night I watched Pearl Jam: Imagine in Cornice. It was breathtaking. Go out and buy it, pronto.

this shirt is dry-clean only, which means it's dirty

It's been great being home. I'm sitting at Uncommon Grounds, drinking an irish cream italian soda and watching the sun break through the rain clouds outside the window facing Broadway, and although since the reconstruction last year this place is less hippie and more yuppie, I still love it. They always play good music, and I'm grateful for that since I forgot my headphones.

Tonight I will be heading to Binghamton, NY for a few days to support my father in something called the Empire State Games where he will be a pole-vaulting, javelin-throwing, shot-putting, long-jumping madman. Apparently marathons, triathlons, and 100-mile foot races through the hills of VT (yes, that's right 100 miles, on foot, through the woods - I don't really understand it either) became mundane to him. So I arrived home to find him practicing up on this track-and-field stuff, taking me out to the backyard to show me the long-jump pit he made, and showing me the correct way to hold a javelin. He's so excited it's hilarious. He's like a little kid. I love it. It's kind of sad that a sixty-six-year-old man could slaughter his twenty-four-year-old son in nearly every physical activity. I can barely run a mile without seriously considering calling for an ambulance. I did, however, beat him in the long-jump... but then again, I think afterwards I complained about getting sand in my shoes and went back to my book. Oh the shame he must feel.

purposely scholarly and pretentious

This evening, for whatever reason, I am reminiscent of my days of having a facebook account, particularly the required fields of "Gender" and "Looking For." I always found the latter to be ridiculous, especially in terms of the limited options of responses; those being only what was offered in the former. So although I waved goodbye to that silly social-networking site long ago (for reasons that were very much the same as the reason I deactivated my 'myspace' months prior, and for which I have absolutely no excuse for reactivating except for boredom), I will now present in a rather unorthodox (and completely stupid) manner what I believe to be an appropriate response to what facebook in all of its glorious simplicity asks of its users; that being the question "What Are You Looking For?"

My previous, and for lack of a better option, response to facebook's question was "Women." But this was, I understand, a paltry response, insofar as this term is such an asinine generality - and also, I should add, all of this might very well stem from the fact that I have recently been watching 'Mad Men': a show aired on AMC and recently released on DVD which has been a staple of the television set viewed by me and my prestigious colleagues Dave and George, whom the latter purchased from BestBuy, subsequently his workplace, and which depicts "The American Dream" through the dramatization of the 1950-1960's advertising agencies in NYC, the characters of which view women merely as objects; possessions, sex-toys, dinner-cooking-diaper-changing-sun-dress-wearing-"how-was-your-day-honey-and-I'll-be-waiting-in-the-bedroom-when-the-baseball-game-is-over"-mannequins, but which by no means perpetuates this ideal, but rather reveals the absolute grotesque nature of such a way of life, and which is also a fairly engaging drama that I highly recommend to all - and so I now feel the need to amend my previous response as to "What I am Looking For"

Lest my purpose here be clouded by reviews of television shows, I will get to the point.
Submitted for your approval is a series of videos of one of my favorite females who occupy the grand province of the popular media, and whose self-created record company's slogan is "FOLKing you up since 1990", which I love, but which is entirely besides the point, because what she truly sloganizes is something much greater: that individuality trumps gender, and that all the fools who misunderstand the book of Genesis can stick it.

I'm not looking for a label, I'm looking for something unique, but if we are categorizing, here's what I think of when I think of the term "woman."

[Disclaimer: This first one isn't great, but its a bootleg taken at one of the two shows that two of my beautiful sisters (Suzie and Danielle) and I attended in NYC, so I found it somewhat appropriate...she was eight months pregnant, and still kicked butt]

i fear you are walking the walks of dreams

I found this folded up in a journal that has sat on my bookshelf for over a year, collecting dust, empty and lonely, but not forgotten... certainly not forgotten.
In fact, since receiving it I have been haunted by feelings of insecurity, whispering words incessantly telling me that nothing I could ever put on its pages would ever be worthy of their placement. It was (is) a gift from a friend, both the journal and the bit of Whitman folded up into it.
My esteem for this particular person is so great that I foolishly believed the pages deserved writing that measured at least as great as that of her friendship. But I finally realized that nothing measures to this. On one end of a scale you can place a pile of poems by Neruda, compile the complete works of Poe, stack a Schiele painting or two, and even toss on a few Bob Dylan records for good measure, but it will be no use so long as love, in whatever capacity, rests on the other end. The scale will always be tipped, because nothing weighs so heavy as love.

And so I dusted off the journal, and cracked it open to find this, and my world got a little bit brighter. I broke the seal, wrote in something silly, knowing that true greatness rests entirely in the realm of love. But I did leave the first page blank, because try as I might, I couldn't transcribe my gratitude.

for life's not a paragraph

Amy, George, and I watched this wonderful film this evening. I've seen it several times, and it just keeps on getting better. I'm not sure why I love it so much. There is the obvious aesthetic reasonings; the way Gondry makes dream life come alive on screen, the unsynchronized sound and lip movements, the silent wind that blows, the confusions and transformations, the beautiful mixtures of reality and falsification. But something much deeper resonates within me while I watch the story unfold. I think I identify with Stephane in a way that hits much too close to home. It's almost embarrassing. The way he is in a state of constant doubt is almost too much. Dream vs reality has always been a problem for me, even before I started reading Roland Barthes and Michel Foucault, who have made my pathology grow at an exponential level, but whom I am forever grateful, because without them I might very well have settled into a comfortable position of ignorance, which as we all know may very well be the root of all evil (perhaps we don't all know this, but I think we should). Confusion begets questioning, which begets reasoning, if one is willing to go that far. And there may never be an end, since (I think) we can never (truly) have a corner on God's Truth, but (I think) the search - that is genuine searching; not conforming to what is easy, or comfortable, or spoken plainly from the pulpit, but what echoes beyond that plain message, and what stretches down to our own lives and therefore becomes somewhat tangible - is the point after all.

Eh. But I'm no theologian, so let me digress... I love the way that Gondry does not present love in a way that is easy, or comfortable; it is not sappy (though I am also a sucker for sappy endings, just come look at my movie collection and you will be easily convinced of this fact), and the walk-off-into-the-distance-together scene that appears in the end is only a dream, the reality of their love is not guaranteed in the viewer's mind, though they (we, to those who have seen it) all know it should be. This is because there is a disconnect in the character's perceptions, of one another and of themselves. And this may be the point: there will always be a disconnect, because as much as you think someone else can understand you, or is similar to you, you will never be that person, and they never you, so you will forever need to step outside of yourself and into their shoes, and I think that's where love really comes into play.

I do not have a problem stepping out of myself, into someone else, but I do fear that that step will not be understood, or perhaps taken for granted. I fear stepping for someone whose feet merely flirt with forward movement, but only want to retreat. Yep, I've seen that happen before, and... well... I guess my feet have become timid, but in my dreams they move endlessly forward... I'd move along one path forever if I believed it would be reciprocated


since feeling is first
who pays any attention
to the syntax of things
will never wholly kiss you;

wholly to be a fool
while Spring is in the world

my blood approves,
and kisses are a far better fate
than wisdom
lady i swear by all flowers. Don't cry
--the best gesture of my brain is less than
your eyelids' flutter which says

we are for eachother: then
laugh, leaning back in my arms
for life's not a paragraph

And death i think is no parenthesis
-ee cummings