Friday, December 9, 2011

A plea for editing help!

Because I can't fit all of this on one tweet - here's what I need (x-posted from facebook): Hello friends. I'm sure you all have interesting lives and therefore, probably, plans for this evening. However, on the off chance you are casting about for something to do with your free time, I have a suggestion! I am deeply in need of another set of eyes (or, like, twelve more sets of eyes) on my personal statement for my grad school application. It has been a long time since I've had to write something of this nature, and I feel out of practice. Plus, rather than go the boring route and solely write about why/how I've demonstrated commitment to the six guiding principles of their program, I decided to go totally out of the box/off the wall creative/(crazy?) and write it sort of like a personal comic book narration. At least partially. So I would love it if some of my smart friends could possibly help me out with some editing? LMK if you're available and I'll email it to you later on tonight. I'm supposed to be sending it out to my recommenders this weekend, so I'd need your help sort of ASAP. Thanks in advance & much ♥!

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Some Shirts That Have Caught My Attention Lately

Most of you who know me know how much I appreciate a clever, funny or cute t-shirt. I have quite a burgeoning collection. So anyway, was poking around the internets yesterday and here are some that caught my attention:,design,design

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Musical Mondays: A Little Early

Man, shit is going so well right now. I really hope it keeps up. Had a pretty epic date this weekend. Dinner at an awesome Japanese restaurant (I think it was called Yosake - awesome decor and great food), a post-dinner stroll through downtown Wilmington, coffee, watching a few episodes of Archer, teaching my date to play Infinite City, being taught (finally) how to play Dominion, watching him play Skyrim while editing photos, reading Terry Pratchett before going to sleep. All I can say is fucking A. In honor of the incredibly nerdy nature of the weekend, here is an awesome track by a band I hope will be at PAX East this year, Anamanaguchi:

Monday, November 7, 2011

On Sexual Violence - Part 7,456,202

Ok, I need to go on a rant for a minute here.
Well, first of all, hi.  Sorry it’s been forever since I’ve updated.  It’s been a few weeks and lots of things have been happening.  If you’ve been following my photoblog over at, it’s at least been a little busier over there.
Secondly, Mom and Dad, if you’re reading, you may want to stop.  This entry is going to be of a highly personal nature. I am releasing these thoughts into the ether both because it will be cathartic and comforting to me, and also because it may help someone else stumbling through the internet looking for solidarity on complicated life stuff.  But that does not mean it’s something I would ever discuss directly with either of you, even though I love you.  But I can’t stop you from reading, so if you want to, you will, and I’m okay with that.
Ok.  So I’m ranting a little bit about how much it sucks to be a woman today. 
Because I can’t say it as concisely or articulately as hundreds of other people have already said it, I’ll skip the whole part about how women’s sexuality is far too closeted in our society and almost always when it is taken out of the closet (pardon the choice of words, not meant to be a homosexual reference) it’s done in a way that is exploitative and degrading rather than educational or supportive.  And I’ll also skip the part about how the lack of open dialogue about the huge range of important topics in women’s sexuality leads to a far higher than should be acceptable rate of incidents of violence against or control of women.  It is amazing to me that on the rare occasions I’m talking with one or multiple female friends and feel comfortable enough to discuss my previous experience with sexual violence, how often they come back with confessions of similar experiences, or solidarity of having heard similar stories from other friends.  I actually feel like I have more female friends who have experienced sexual violence than who haven’t.
But violence is actually not the point of the post.  It’s important setup though.  Because what’s hard for people who have never experienced it to understand is how its effects always stay with you, no matter how much time has passed.  How there are a number of triggers, some of which are identifiable and can be prepared for , but plenty more that are surprising and unique, that hit you like a mac truck you never saw coming. 
Say for instance you are a woman in a relationship with someone, and you are performing a fun and consensual act on your partner – like oral sex.  Normally, this would be an act that’s inherently a little more submissive for whomever is on the receiving end, in this case the male, because things like the speed, aggressiveness, technique are all in the woman’s control if she’s making the choice to perform said act.  However, as with most sexual acts, there are ways to play with the element of control, and things a man can do to make him feel like he has more control over what’s happening.  He can provide verbal instruction.  He can place his hands over his partners hand(s), or perhaps along the sides of her face just to feel more participatory.  Or, and here’s the toughie, he can choose to hold her head in his hands and control things like speed and depth by forcefully moving her head.  Under normal circumstances, this might be totally fine, and even fun, for both people, to playfully take and relinquish control in turn.  But I think it’s fair to say that once you have experienced sexual violence, there are no such things as normal circumstances.  And a behavior such as the one I just described can suddenly turn an enjoyable consensual activity into a frightening and confusing flashback to previous incidents of sexual violence.  Even if the act itself was not a part of that experience initially, just the feelings it evokes can be enough to trigger the memories of those experiences and all their associated trauma.  But it’s not like it happens every time that situation occurs, or even any time.  The point is that it is random and unpredictable what will trigger a victim, or when those triggers are turned on or turned off.
So the reason for this incredibly detailed and graphic setup is to explain that when a person who has experienced sexual violence chooses to be intimate with someone, it is a REALLY BIG DEAL.  Because we are taking a chance that the partner who we are trusting with our sexuality will for starters treat us kindly and as an equal, but furthermore be understanding in the event that a trigger should occur (which, inevitably it will at some point during the sexual relationship, if the actual relationship continues for a lengthy amount of time). 
It is both incredibly easy and incredibly hard to make that decision.  Easy, because as easy as it is for someone who has never experienced violence to jump into bed with someone they’re really excited about, it is 10 times easier for someone who feels they have diminished rights in a sexual partnership.  They jump into bed with someone they’re really excited about because they are conditioned to do so.  They understand attraction as something that inevitably leads to sex.  But it is incredibly hard because it is frightening as all hell to put that amount of trust in someone, the trust required to experience things as equals and to deal with triggers when they arise.  It makes the victim of previous violence feel completely and totally vulnerable.  To try to analogize, it’s like saying, “Oh I want to give you a present because I just met you and I like you and want to use gift-giving as a way to help you understand that I like and appreciate you, but oh by the way, this present is actually the most important thing I have to give to someone and please don’t break it or devalue it or throw it away or it might irrevocably crush my spirit and bring back all sorts of trust issues I’ve been trying to work through for 10 years.” 

Can you imagine actually saying that to someone?  Or how about the real life version of that?  Every time I have had to make the words come out of my mouth, it has been a physical challenge.  Moving my lips, forming sounds.  Saying, “I do want to make love to you, I really do.  But I need to warn you about something.  Nine years ago I lost my virginity through date rape and was the repeated victim of a controlling person who took advantage of me sexually, and because of that, I still struggle even now to form normal sexual relationships with people.  I may react to things we do in ways that are unexpected, or abnormal, or upsetting to you or me.  I’m a lot better than I was, and as time goes by I continue to get better, but its something you must know about me in order to engage in this type of relationship with me.”  It’s nearly impossible to say.  Every time.  But it is essential.  Open communication is the key to a successful relationship, both in the bedroom and outside of it.  And if you can’t be open about something so foundational to your behavior in a sexual relationship, how can you possibly expect it to succeed?
There are arguments to be made that it might be worth waiting a while, until you are more comfortable with the person or have established a solid ground in that department.  But to me there are two risks there.  First, that a trigger happens before you’ve had the conversation, causing your partner to be (A) uncomfortable because they don’t understand what’s happening, and (B) upset that you didn’t trust them enough to share that information initially.  The second risk is that a partner may not believe that your explanation or history is legitimate, or have a harder time understanding it, because they’ve seen you act “normally” in a sexual situation several times already, and can’t reconcile that normalcy with the idea that you may now blow up at any time.   It will be harder to compute and therefore seen as an insurmountable impediment, rather than a vague possible threat that you already know how to deal with, if addressed up front.  So for these reasons, I see it as essential that potential partners understand what they are facing when they get involved sexually with a former victim.
As we have already discussed, however, this leaves the victim feeling incredibly vulnerable.  Not only from the risk-taking inherent to disclosing the history and engaging in the sexual experience, but also the sheer visceral effort required to make the disclosure in the first place.  The way your potential partner reacts to this information then becomes critically important, as it will determine if your vulnerability is (partially or fully) soothed or worsened.  Furthermore, the way they treat you after your first sexual encounter carries a lot of tension because if that worry has not been completely pacified, the victim will need more positive reinforcement than usual when faced with said vulnerability. 
Unfortunately, most people are not in the habit of providing that reinforcement.  Nor do they necessarily understand that it’s required.  And it can be tough at the start of a relationship, when people are still trying to get to know one another, to say, “Hey I promise I won’t always be like this, but I’m feeling extremely needy right now so can you please let me know that you like me, you’re comfortable with my issues, and you promise you won’t hurt me?”  Because the other person doesn’t necessarily know the answers to those questions.  That’s what starting a relationship is all about.  Getting to know the other person and figuring out if they’re someone you like, you want to become close to, and someone whose issues you can put up with. 
So all I’m saying is, as much fun as the start of a new relationship can be, it can really suck too.  And as much fun as sex is, it can really suck too.  But these challenges are exponentially harder for victims, most of whom unfortunately tend to be women. Add to that the other pressures faced by women in sex and relationships - concerns about body image, sexual performance anxiety, and so on, and you can see how it is just really hard to be a girl sometimes. Relationships are tough. They are high-risk high-reward business.  They are putting yourself out there and maybe getting crushed, or maybe getting lifted up higher than you’re ever been.  And they are scary as hell.
Rant over.

Monday, September 12, 2011

A Day Late, A Buck Short

I spent yesterday not dealing. I didn't want to see it, hear it. Didn't want to care what it meant to other people. Didn't even want to reflect on what it meant to me. Was angry at its ubiquitousness. Told my brother as much, without even thinking. He said he didn't want to watch football with friends because of all the associated 9/11 hooplah, because he wanted to deal with that privately. I answered quickly, "I don't want to deal with that at all." So I didn't. And yet it became impossible to avoid, somehow.

Today I started thinking about a photograph. I tore through some memory boxes looking for it. My college had a newspaper called "The Justice." I think 2, maybe 3 days after September 11th, 2001 it put out a special issue. There was a picture of me on the cover of that issue. Nobody who isn't me would know it was me because it doesn't show my face. But I know it's me because it's me. I'm sitting on a stone bench by the pond between the three chapels. I am wearing a long khaki cargo skirt, a blue baby tee, and though the photographer is fairly far away, you can just see the edge of my purple flowered underpants poking up out of the back of the skirt. If you're looking closely. I am leaning forward with my elbows on my knees and my head in my hands, and I am crying. The photographer is probably 30 yards behind me. I didn't know she was there until I saw my picture in the paper days later. I saved this issue for years. It is somewhere in my house, but in the boxes and boxes of memorabilia I have whose filing and labeling system has broken down in the 20 years or so of collecting, it is hard to locate at a moment's notice. I've decided that it's enough to know I have it.

To "The Justice" the picture represents just one more anonymous person grieving. To me, it represented the beginning of finding my voice. A truer, more thoughtful inner voice.

It cost me my first college friend. About a week after it happened, I hung up a copy of this poem by Ani DiFranco in my dorm room. Was it insensitive, considering that my roommate Mary's brother had been killed when the first plane hit the North Tower? Hell yes. Do I feel a bit of regret for that now? Definitely. But I couldn't even think about whether it was sensitive or not back then. All I could think was that I needed to express something huge, but couldn't. And here was somebody else expressing a lot of what I felt. That because I couldn't say it adequately in my own words yet, I had to have my voice represented by proxy.

Mary didn't speak to me for weeks after I posted it because I refused to take it down. And even after the ice thawed a little bit, we were never really close again. A story for another time, a differing proclivity for drugs drove the final wedge between us.

A purpose of liberal education not yet fully understood was doing it's job. Influenced by the events of the world and my own convictions, I was learning how to think. How to express what I thought. All the while growing. Formative.

March 20, 2003 - reacting to a global tragedy

December 2003 - reacting to a personal tragedy (I'm only noticing now, years later, that the only thing I could think to draw on that random night of artistic collaboration in mod 32 was woman born from tears)

April 2004 - Traveling 600 miles in a bus full of strangers to further exercise my voice

I would do more to connect the dots for you but these days my voice is better expressed in images than words. And primarily, images are what have dominated my consciousness for the last twelve hours or so. Particularly the significance of images, both generally and to me personally. Some day, when I'm long gone and my progeny (or if I don't manage to have any of my own, perhaps my nieces or nephews) are talking about the life I've had, photos will be their anchor. They probably won't talk about the six years I spent making project plans or writing marketing materials or running accounts payable for a small office. I hope. I hope they'll talk about how the day King George II declared war on Iraq I was one of the first people on a bus to Boston to shout my displeasure from the rooftops. And they'll see the photograph to prove it. My daughter will pass on my hard-learned lessons about the value of sex and relationships to her own daughter, and maybe (for at least one more person) stop the cycle of violence and abuse that is far more common than is ever discussed. She'll show her the drawing from the mod, or the portrait series of date rape victims that in the future I hope to shoot, or the picture of my sculptures from 2003. Images will connect to history, to lessons, to connection and shared wisdom. Insight into a consciousness that hopefully will not be a waste after it's gone if it can somehow provide a way to show what it has learned. Another reason to keep pouring as much energy as I can muster into my time behind the lens. To never give up that passion, whatever the day job might be.

So many of us are already proving we are unable to learn from the past. Let that not be my legacy.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011


...should be more like Thanksgiving. A time for reflection. We should give thanks for all the good that has transpired in our lives up to this point. We should recommit to the universal mission of helping others, promoting understanding, and trying to make positive change in our world (both large and small). And we should give thanks again that we have yet more time to work on that, and on ourselves. Those are my birthday missions this year.

Monday, September 5, 2011

Three Preview Shots

I'll have a much more detailed breakdown on Scenes From My Lunch Hour later this week, but I'm just too excited about how this weekend's photo shoot went not to post a pic or two as a preview. Here are three of my favorite shots from Vanessa & Mike's engagement shoot at Yates Mill. As always, click to make bigger. Also, it should be noted that these photos are copyright :)

Musical Mondays: Inspired by BTVS

"It's Over, It's Under" by Dollshead

Saturday, September 3, 2011

A Fact I Should Have Learned Long Ago

Sometimes, it feels fucking amazing just to say "No."

Monday, August 29, 2011


I am so depressed today.

Here's the problem. And I'm sure this is going to be a bit incoherent because it's well past my usual bedtime. I'll use a micro example to illustrate a macro problem.

I have self-image issues. As discussed at length previously. I'm trying to work through them. One of the primary problems I've always had with my image is that I have almost no internally-derived sense of beauty. I mostly only feel beautiful when other people make me feel beautiful or tell me I'm beautiful. So when there's a lack of people in my life filling that function (particularly in a romantic context) I have a much, much harder time believing that I'm attractive. A friend recently said something so simple it should have been obvious to me long ago, but seemed revelatory to me at the time he said it. I think it went something like this: "I find you attractive. No matter where you go in the world or what you're doing, I'm attracted to you. And you can carry that with you. And know that it's true." No one had ever said it just like that before. Compliments had always seemed contextual rather than lasting or permanent. It helped a little to think that the good things people have said about my appearance don't go away just because those people are no longer right in front of me. Of course, it's also harder with appearance because one's appearance is often changing. Or at least mine seems to be.

Anyway, small example right? Well, not small, but well defined.

Now let's apply that micro problem to the rest of my life on a macro level.

I'm depressed right now because things have been going really shitty lately. Ticking off some of this shittyness: (1) I lost something sort of important to me that had been brightening my life. (2) An opportunity that I thought was going to help me make some significant changes to my direction and my lifestyle failed to pan out. (3) I have been struggling with eating again, and surrendered an important weight-loss milestone I had hit a few weeks ago with some irresponsibly earned gains. (4) I have had a few other disappointments and hard times best not discussed here. Point being, it's been a challenging few weeks.

Instead of bucking up and pressing forward looking for a different source of light, another opportunity, exercise and discipline to restore losses, and things that might make me happy, I've been wallowing. And letting all these things make me feel totally invalidated as a person. They're just setbacks, yet I've never been great at dealing with setbacks. I let them completely derail me. My weight watchers leaders have talked in the past about the difference between a "lapse" and a "collapse." In a lapse, you make some bad choices but you quickly right the ship and return to good habits, or better yet, compensate with extra discipline to balance bad choices. In a collapse, each bad decision leads to more bad decisions because of guilt, shame, negativity, etc. Spiral. One has to not let a lapse turn into a collapse. Stop the spiral. Difficult.

I'm having a collapse right now. I just see all the challenges strung together and think, "How am I ever going to right this ship?" or "Maybe I'm not meant to or capable of righting this ship." I start to question core things I should know about myself. Positive things. I stop believing in myself. But see, like the attractiveness, the good things I know about myself don't stop being true just because day to day existence has been a bit more challenging. But dear god, it is hard for me to remember that. Is it hard for other people too? Sometimes I wonder if it's just me. But I'm sure that it's not, even if I wonder. Humanity, man. We're all so much more alike than we sometimes like to believe. We gotta keep learning from each other. So I'm gonna try to apply the lessons of attractiveness to life writ large. Try not to let it take me down. Lose my sense of self. Lose my validation. Gonna reach deep down inside and try to find the will to keep on keepin on.

Fuckin a.

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Hilarity, Courtesy of My Sister-in-Law

As Hurricane Irene descends on the East Coast, federal disaster officials have warned that Internet outages could force people to interact with other people for the first time in years. Residents are bracing themselves for the horror of awkward silences and unwanted eye contact. FEMA has advised: “Be prepared. Write down possible topics to talk about in advance. Sports...the weather. Remember, a conversation is basically a series of Facebook updates strung together."

Hurricane Irene is a'coming Jersey. Be ready to converse like never before. Lol.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Other Thursday Thoughts, In Rough Order

I'm sure this isn't all of them, but it's as many as I could recall at this late hour.

10amish: In case I forget to mention it later, I think it's adorable that you still call me every time there's a bad storm or a natural disaster. That you remember how much these things scare me, that you subsequently think to call and check in, and then actually follow through and do it. It's amazing. It makes ME feel really good and also speaks to what an awesome person YOU are. Way to go, you. :)

3pmish: I've had a lot of family around lately. This has led to a lot of rehashing and discussing the past. Learning each other's perspectives on events we for so long have only seen through our own eyes. Managed to verbalize something I've known about myself for a really long time, but never summarized quite so succinctly until describing to my sister during her visit. My parents fought kind of a lot when I was in middle school and early high school. Or at least, it felt like a lot to me. A lot of times this fighting was about the younger of my two older brothers. He was going through a tough time and they were right there with him. And had their own issues compounding any problem that came along. I remembering hearing the fights they had with my brother, the fights they had with each other, remember the fights my brother and I had. I remember thinking, "I don't ever want them to fight like this about me. If I can be a perfect kid, maybe they'll stop fighting all together." And I think this hypothesis dominated a LOT of the decision making I made in the latter half of high school. Hell, even much of the decision making I've done since then. Be the perfect kid and your parents won't fight. Be the perfect kid and things will fall into place. Live for everyone's expectations and you'll find satisfaction therein. And it did provide a kind of satisfaction (and definitely did lead to some really positive decisions, but plenty of negative ones too), but I don't think it provided overall happiness. I've started to come out of it some. Being in Durham has helped. Being isolated means making more decisions for myself, rather than for anybody else. Awareness.

6pmish: I am going to rock it at bowling tonight. I have been kicking ass lately, so I'm gonna keep kicking ass.

7ish: (After X / X / 9 - / X / X / 9 -) YEAH! I am kicking ass. I hope I can keep this up, it's looking like a record breaking game for me...

745ish: Well, balls. A 118. I choked. Hardcore. That sucks.

945ish: I really want to call. Really badly. I am about to be in the car for 35 minutes so it's a perfect time to call. It's sad not to talk to you, so I want to talk to you. AND YET. Talking to you will make me aware of how much I miss you. Too, it will be sad to talk to you and have it not be the same. I don't know if I'm ready for that sad. The first sad is easier. But boy do I want to call. Give it time, I tell myself.

10pmish: I'm going to start working on a mix. It'll be called "A decade of friendship" or something similar. I already know what songs will open it and close it, plus three in the middle. It will be cathartic. I'll have to narrow down the long list of good songs about regret, in reference to that night. How it could have been so different, how I still think of it sometimes. But maybe it's better that it wasn't. Oh shit, it's being cathartic right now. It's catharsising the fuck out of me just thinking about it. Oh crap. Here come those tears that have been waiting to pour for two weeks. I was wondering when I'd finally cry and boy can I cry. But it's good. The crying is a good sign. A sign of healing in progress I think. I hope. Mix tape. Yes, it will have to happen.

That's How Long I Want to Be Your Friend

A circle is round, it has no end... (you know the rest)

My day has come full circle. There have been at least 10 things I have wanted to write about today. There's no way I'll remember them all now, but I am writing at a feverish pace trying to get as many out as possible.

I started out the day thinking about how time makes us see the past with rose colored glasses. I was thinking of a recent visit with an old friend.

Before I start, because I don't want this whole post to reek of negativity, let me say this. I love this friend dearly and he is super important to me. And though it might sound from what follows as though there's bitterness now, it's quite the opposite. We have a really great relationship. I so enjoy our hangouts and I am super happy of the place we have reached that allows us to remain close friends in our adult lives. And our recent visit was GREAT, despite the small excerpt to the contrary below.

Ok, back to the main story. I often think of this friend, when he's not around, with nostalgia and fondness. Sometimes I'd even go so far as to say longing. And yes, this was a friend of the romantic variety. But I spent the last six months of my relationship with this friend thinking to myself at least once a week, sometimes daily in the worst times, that it was not meant to be. That I was incredibly unhappy, and that I should just say so, even if it meant the end of things. But it is so hard to remember what that feeling was about when I look back on it. What I remember instead are all the things we had in common, the fun times and laughter we shared, the intellectual arguments and banter, the hikes we went on, the great sex we had (sorry Dad, if you're reading this). It's hard to remember the bad times. Our brain naturally wants to push those things to the rear of the filing cabinet, make them take the F train to its end in Brooklyn (if your brain is a subway system, like mine). But when hanging out with this friend recently, he got more and more cranky and whiny as the night wore on. Cranky and unwilling to make decisions, and then annoyed when I stepped in and made the wrong one. I had forgotten about how cranky he could get. Then, the next day I wanted to hang out again. And my friend didn't. But his excuse was that he didn't feel like it, didn't feel like doing anything in fact. But then we proceeded to talk on the phone for an hour and half. This used to drive me CRAZY during our relationship. He'd be all, "nah I don't want to hang out," and then want to talk on the phone for two hours when we lived TWO MINUTES AWAY FROM EACH OTHER. I was like, if we're going to spend all this time talking, WHY NOT DO IT IN PERSON? Wtf, mate? At least now that we're no longer in a relationship, this doesn't bother me, because expectations are a lot different. But it reminded me of how much it USED to annoy me.

So while we still share things in common, still have fun together, it is good to take off the pink shades every once in a while and see things as they really were. See him as I truly know him - the good AND the bad.

In between then (7am) and now (11pm) I've had approximately a million other thoughts. And yet, I came back to rose colored glasses not five minutes ago. And not on purpose.

See I went to the pharmacy today in between work and bowling league (more on that later) to kill half an hour and pick up some toiletries I'd been needing to replace. One item on the list was toothpaste. When I got home tonight, I went to put the new toothpaste in the medicine cabinet. And I noticed that even though I switched brands over a year ago (before I even moved to NC) to a 'sensitive' toothpaste, I still had my old regular aquafresh sitting in the cabinet. Right next to the nearly empty tube of sensitive stuff. "That's really old," I thought. "I should totally get rid of it." I reached up and grabbed it, and it jerked me into a memory as quickly and jarringly as I imagine sticking your face in a pensieve must feel.

I am in bed, in my Westwood apartment. I'm trying to sleep but the sound of video games wafting in from my living room is keeping me awake. I have to work tomorrow, and I'm annoyed. Finally the TV turns off. The bathroom light and accompanying fan turn on. Running water. Toilet flushes. Fan goes off. Bedroom door creaks open. Clothes swoosh gently off skin and land with a soft "whoomp" on the floor. A thin frame slips under covers and set of arms wrap tightly around me. It should melt my heart but I remain unmoved.

"I couldn't sleep; TV was too loud," I say in my most pitiable voice.

"I'm sorry."

It's said with sincerity. He kisses me softly on the neck.

"Your breath reeks of cigarettes," I complain, even more annoyed now that he's being conciliatory.

"I brushed my teeth," he offers, a little defensively.

"Well it smells like shit," I snap.

"Well that's because your stupid toothpaste tastes like shit!"

"If you don't like it, why don't you bring your own damn toothpaste over, and stop using my stuff!"

"I don't know what your problem is."

The arms recede away, rolling with the body now facing the opposite wall. I shiver. And immediately regret my attitude.

Flashback to the present. I am holding the toothpaste, transfixed. A dumb blank stare on my face that hasn't yet awoken from memory, though my mind is already returned. Rose colored glasses would have hidden that moment from me. Toothpaste revealed it. Isn't it funny, the things you remember? And how funny that I'm back to rose colored glasses at the end of this long, full day. It's like my brain knew it would be a nice cap to the day to return to what we started the day thinking about.

Anyhoo, I think I shall write another post for some of the other stuff, as this one has taken on a life of its own with all the embedded reflection.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

RIP, Todd Wharton

I've been processing my thoughts on his death for a few weeks now, and I still have a lot of emotion about it, even though we'd been out of touch for many years. I'd like to come back and say some more, as well as display some of the pictures that speak to favorite memories of Todd.

In the meantime, I'd like to share this poem written by Todd. One of my old PHS classmates found it and shared it on Facebook. It's pretty amazing, and haunting. I'm not surprised he turned out to be a talented writer; he showed a lot of promise in that area when we were in school.

I Shouldn't Say...

...that I'm trying hard to believe, because it's not hard to believe. I know in my heart that of course it is better. No regret.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Distracted by Vacation Crazy Time

I should have mentioned yesterday that the vacation was insanely good. It was full of adventure, thought provoking discussions with friends, dancing (as all good weddings should be), and much more. For now, I'll leave you with my favorite picture of the trip. Taken of my friend Peter in the early evening hours on the Delaware River, just as the fog/mist started to roll in and give everything that soft edge and beautiful light. As always, click the photo to embiggen.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011


Just came home from a long trip and there was so much here, piled up, waiting for me. Particularly mail. One piece of mail made me a little sad. Later, I started to sort out my dirty laundry from the trip. In one of my pants pockets was a movie ticket. It too, made me a little sad. I put them together in a place where I wouldn't have to see them for awhile but wouldn't ever lose them either. It's kind of a metaphor. I'm trying hard to believe that it is better to have loved and lost than never loved at all. Fate is a cruel mistress though.

Monday, August 15, 2011

Musical Mondays: KJ, This One's For You

Sometimes I wished we still loved each other. Regina Spektor understands. Here's "The Calculation."

Was good to see you.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Sorry for the Drought

So I have to apologize. I have been neglecting this blog big time lately. The reasons are twofold. First, there have been a lot of things happening in my life that have been sucking up my time. Secondly, any time I have left over for blogging has been dedicated to getting a different blog off the ground. I recently had my friend Mike, who is an excellent programmer, build me a website for my humble but growing photography business. While I'm not quite ready to show that yet, as the 'about' page still needs to be finished, I will say that part of it is having a blog attached to it. For shots that I want to show off but not enough to make them featured on the professional page. To that end, let me introduce Scenes From My Lunch Hour. It's an idea I conceived of a few months ago wherein I go out during my lunch hour each week and try to find something worth shooting. While the blog has not followed this format thus far, it will begin to very shortly. But I needed to get some other content up there first, so it's not totally bare when I start. I'm not super happy with the template, but I'm still learning my way around wordpress at the moment. I am not great with CSS, much better with straight up HTML or XHTML, so I find it a bit annoying.

In any case, most of my efforts have been expended there, at the expense of this blog. Hopefully soon I'll have something to show for it, and in the meanwhile I'd just like to apologize for the drought of posts here.

Also, one thing to quickly share. Was reading through a quick Entertainment Weekly piece yesterday about the end of Harry Potter. Several of the main actors were asked for quick soundbites on 'what they'd miss most' about the movies. Expected answers were given - the cast, the experience, the stunts, etc. But I liked Snape (Alan Rickman)'s answer best: "I think things like this are meant to end, and you should not miss it - you should just be happy that it ends well." A valuable maxim to remember for many things, Snape. Thank you.

Monday, July 25, 2011

Musical Mondays: Great Album, Underrated Track

I've been listening to a lot of Cake lately. This is because I'm working on a much longer post about my favorite ten bands. Recently, a friend was in town visiting and asked me about my favorite bands, and except for #1 I didn't have a ready answer. I had lots of bands I thought might be included on the list, but no set order and no decisions about their relationships/position versus each other. So anyway, as part of writing that piece and listening to make small judgments, I am relistening to a lot of contenders, of which Cake is one.

I remember having an argument with my friend Mark a few years ago about which Cake album was the best. Although "Fashion Nugget" tends to be most critics preference, and I agree there is undeniable brilliance in it, I think I prefer "Comfort Eagle." Reason being, I can listen to CE all the way through without skipping a single track, but I almost always skip "Land of Race Car Ya Yas" and/or "She'll Come Back to Me" when listening to FN. Mark of course thought I was crazy for skipping ANY of the tracks on Fashion Nugget.

Anyway, in light of all that, I decided to make the musical monday one of my favorites from FN. I think it's a simple but brilliant song about the ending of a relationship. There's no personal significance to this pick or anything, I just really think it's an absolutely great song. And I definitely think this track is underrated or discounted versus other songs on the album. So enjoy!

Monday, July 18, 2011

Musical Mondays: Yeah, That About Sums it Up

One of my favorites from my parents' 'greatest hits' of S&G when I was really little. Perhaps, at that age, second only to 'cecilia' to which I would dance around the family room like a mad miniature whirling dervish. Though really, that whole compilation was great. But this was like a little nugget of happiness buried in the middle. And it encapsulates today. So here ya go:

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

It's a Question of Leading by Example

Not as the only factor, but as one factor of influence. You grow up with a Dad who picks one career, decides he's going to be the best at it he can possibly be, and spends your entire life climbing the corporate ladder - it's gonna have a big impact. On what you imagine for yourself, what you feel people expect you to deliver, what's responsible. You don't see what other ways there are to live life. But there have to be other ways.

It has to be true that every day people quit jobs that make them unhappy, even if they don't have another plan in place. People throw caution to the wind and jump off the train. They are smart, confident, and unfraid and realize that if they work hard and are passionate, things will work out. They'll find something - be it work, volunteering, subsisting, or the joy of living just to have experiences. Tell me it's true, internet.

Tell me there are people who never settle in one place for too long. Who have six careers if they feel like it. Who pursue their creative interests as far as they go and even if they never make any money doing it they feel satisfied because they're living straight from their soul. Tell me.

Tick. Tick. Tick. Tock.

Monday, July 11, 2011

Musical Mondays: From Rawnald Gregory Erickson The Second Radio

Inspired by a relatively new Pandora station of mine. It's "Loud Pipes" by Ratatat.

Sunday, July 3, 2011

Instead of a Working Song, a Working Haiku

Some day I might write a whole book of these.  As I once said on facebook, my love for haiku cannot be overstated.
Your borrowed hair tie
A thin red line 'cross my wrist
I notice sometimes

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Return of RDF: The Gardener

He held the hose like a gun.  Arms stretched forward to meet at a point, index finger poised near the trigger.  Anticipating for a beat, he soon gave in and squeezed, soundtracking himself with a little "Pew-pew!" uttered under his breath.  Water shot out in a grandiose arc, matching tone with its swooshing fanfare.  His amusement at enjoying this basic task was reflected only in his eyes, which hid smiling behind oversized raybans that gave him a slightly alien appearance.  Shifting the hose into his left hand, he reached down with his right to scratch.  The mosquitoes at last night's barbeque had been prolific, and particularly keen.  One had gotten him squarely in the middle of his newest tattoo, an extravagant byzantine cross that took up nearly the entirety of his right calf.  He hesitated to scratch the skin that was still tender and recovering, but the urge to itch won out.  It was painful yet still satisfying, sort of like poking a bruise.  As if facing those overzealous pests during his day job weren't enough, anytime he socialized outdoors he further exposed himself to their gnawing incursions.  Suddenly, the door of the corporate building whose lilies he was so playfully tending swung open. A young woman materialized, exhaling a half sigh half exclamation at the brutal temperature.  He gave a sidelong up and down glance.  Brunette, petite and curvy - not his type.  Back to his lilies then, tall and slender in their plumb beauty.  The sun beat down on the back of his neck, but he felt light as the droplets of water still misting gently through the air.

Monday, June 27, 2011

Musical Mondays: Hard Sun for a Day of Hard Heat

A really fantastic song from the soundtrack of an absolutely incredible movie. Eddie Vedder sings "Hard Sun" from the soundtrack of "Into the Wild."

Rain Tableau

It was so hot, it was almost oppressive.  She walked out the door for lunch and the scalding, humid air resisted her like water.  She was swimming upright through the heat.  She perched on the low concrete wall that enclosed the pond, taking tiny bites of her sandwich and chewing them up slow, pondering.  She noticed the air around her start to hum, felt its low, guttural vibrations the sky above prepared to open.  Suddenly, she was being pelted with droplets fat as egg yolks.  She looked up and saw the rain pouring down, glittering like millions of Hope diamonds, crystalline and breathtaking.  She closed her eyes and a scene popped into her head.  He was here. They ran for cover together, but stopped short.  "Kiss me!" she beseeched him, while warm rain obliged on both their skins.  A memory she suddenly longed to create.  She opened her eyes.  Stuck out her tongue to taste the rain, finding it a touch bitter.  Popped in her last bite of sandwich and ran back inside, alone.

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Strange Dreams

A night of weird, strong dreams.

First I dreamt that she came back. She came back and made everything terrible, and no one got what they wanted, even him. No one was happy. Not she, nor I, nor him. Everyone was in terrible pain.

Then I dreamt about Keith Jarrett. And I missed you. And I noticed your hands and how much his resemble yours.

Then I dreamt of falling.

I woke with a start every time. Strange night.

Also? Postscript unrelated? I can't believe you're engaged. If even a scumbag like you can find someone, I guess there's hope for the rest of us.

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Remembering Life's Fabulous Realities

The person I was my first two years in high school was SO different than the person I was the last two. Part of this had to do with the fact that halfway thru high school my parents dragged me halfway across the country to Michigan. Different school: different people, different classes, different culture. But I think another big part of it had to do with becoming comfortable with standing out. As has been discussed here before, so much of my middle school and high school years were spent being teased by everyone. As a result I developed a finely honed desire not to stick out. To be purely average. I didn't want to attract attention because I had trained myself mentally to recognize any attention as negative (which had a strong grounding in reality!) Even though I had been recognized/isolated as "gifted" in elementary school by my teachers, I stopped trying to live up to that label for awhile in middle school and early high school. Even though I was in all honors classes, I was perfectly fine to make Bs and coast my way through without making too many waves. Suddenly, moving to Michigan was like - whoa, blank slate. I really started to love school, and realize how much I had been missing by not giving it my all. The relationships I formed with teachers, the degree to which I found my inner voice, my initiative and spirit - these things all were strengthened by giving myself a chance to really be who I was. I am so grateful to have had that opportunity and experience, though before it happened I was certainly dreading it! As most kids forced to move in the middle of high school would be.

Anyway, not the point for today. I wanted to share something with you. In case you don't know me that well, or didn't know this particular fact about me - I save everything. I have pretty much every piece of homework, every paper, every notebook from every class I've ever taken. I have every single debate flow from college. I have all the birthday cards my parents ever gave me, every photograph and negative I've ever taken. Memories, history - these things are SUPER important to me, and always have been. As a kid, I spent HOURS poring through my parents photo albums, many from before I was born. Sitting in the corner of my family room in Parsippany, my ears covered by the giant headphones belonging to our receiver, my parents Miles Davis or George Winston or some borrowed CD of my siblings (phil collins, depeche mode, smashing pumpkins, beastie boys are some of those that stick out in my mind), my head full of music and my eyes scanning the pages of photographs. I could tell you better than they could today about the captions my dad hand wrote below all their pictures.

So recently, I felt a yen to look back at some of my old high school papers. Whenever you get to know someone new, or someone you know even better, you often talk of the past. And for me, that tends to wake inner voices of nostalgia and reminiscence. The other day I was telling a friend about my junior year English teacher, Mr. Staniszewski, or Mr. Stan for short. Other nicknames included NDAS and 'magnanimous individual.' Mr. Stan was one of those teachers who stuck with you forever. He had funny ways of saying everything, his walls were covered in old tennis racquets and vocabulary words, his clock was covered in numbers, and he used to start almost every class with a salutation to the sun. In his class we read Annie Dillard and William Least Heat Moon, we watched "Harold and Maude", we talked about language and words, Thoreau, nature, and whatever we wanted to. He used to joke that he had dementia and might not ever remember our names, but I think this was secretly a ruse to be able to call us whatever he wanted in order to amuse himself. He used to say his wife made him go to marriage counseling for not being able to remember her name. He taught me to analyze, to think, more than any teacher before or after him. He was a creative, intelligent, inspirational and all around awesome teacher.

One of my favorite things from Mr. Stan's class was the "fabulous reality." The fabulous reality was a kind of paper we used to have to write for him. It could be no longer than a page, no smaller than size 10 font. It was meant to describe, in full, an episode which caught the writer's attention and gave them pause. Something that made the writer sit back and say, "Huh", to cause reflection upon the 'fabulous realities' of life on our little planet. It could be anything from seeing a hundred birds taking flight simultaneously to the passionate kiss between a couple reuniting at the airport. And it could include as little or as much setup as was necessary to set the stage for the moment, the attention grabbing piece of life. I always loved this concept. Not only because it is fun to have such a small amount of space to relate something significant to the reader (being concise always being one of my challenges as a writer), but also, because anything that gives us pause and causes us to appreciate life is a big thumbs up in my book. As Mr. Stan believed and so do I, none of us do this enough.

So after reminiscing about Mr. Stan, I suddenly decided I had to dig out these old papers and read a few. Which was a very pleasant way to spend two hours. Then I decided I ought to come on here, write about him, and maybe share one with you. So here ya go, an effort that received an 'A' called "The One Millionth Shopper".

Six girls huddled around the table, arms crossed, fingers stuffed in armpits to keep warm. The door swung open again, hitting them with a cold gust. "Would you like to make a contribution?" a hopeful voice asked. "No thanks," was the unenthusiastic reply. A cup sat on the table. A couple of dollar bills were sticking out of it, some crisp and new, some old and crumpled. The cup was paper, with a flower border. The kind you often find in people's bathrooms for taking a quick sip of water. It looked homey surrounded by plates of brownies, trays of cupcakes, and piles of chocolate chip cookies. "BBG Bake Sales Today," the sign read. It hung in front of the table and swung up every time that breeze of freeze came through the door with a prospective customer.

The girls had been there all day, calling, coaxing, and convincing. Their goal was to reach 400 dollars by four o'clock. There hadn't been too many customers when the sale started around ten. But now it was three-thirty in the afternoon, and with three hundred and sixty making an uncomfortable lump in the back of one girl's pocket, their goal was in sight. Another customer entered the store. The small blonde girl, who had asked, didn't manage to finish the word "contribution" before the cold woman had hurried by. The girl hadn't been loud enough anyway. She looked as though she never ate, and consequently spoke in a voice which could easily be confused with a balloon hissing out the last of its air. Her head hung down, like that of a dead flower, and she apologized in her whispery voice for not being faster. The other five comforter her, as they could only have been expected to do, considering that teenage girl tendency to form groups of confidence. "We'll get the next one," a heavyset brunette said decidedly. The blonde gave a slight smile in return.

For the next twenty-five minutes people came rushing in and out of the store. Some hurried by, some stopped and considered, and others came over with inquisitive looks, wanting to know what they were contributing to. The girls had smiled, and given their set speech. Most people, when hearing it was for charity, stopped and gave a dollar or two, so the girls learned that if they started talking when people walked in, they could usually express their charitable intent before the indifferent ones got by. And so it had come down to this: The store's clock, hard to read, because of a newly cleaned gleaming glare, read 3:58, and the girls had in their possession three hundred and ninety-two dollars. The automatic supermarket doors swung open again and a mid-twenties couple could be seen coming through. "I call this one," the evident leader of the pack whispered to her girls.

"Hi would you like to make a contribution?" she asked. "We are working to raise money for the Make a Wish Foundation, which helps ill children all over the world get their wishes granted," she continued, not bothering to take a breath and looking the semi-assaulted pair straight in the eye. Still not waiting for an answer, she added, "We had set a goal of 400 dollars for the day, and we have 392 and two minutes to go." When she had finally finished, there was a small pause. It seemed to the six girls, standing unbreathing, apprehensive, around the table, that the pause lasted for minutes. The man reached into his back pocket, slow like molasses, and pulled out a wallet. Then, without another apparent thought, he pulled out a ten-dollar bill, and said, "Well how much do you want to give us for ten dollars?" The collective squeal of six teenage girls was comparable to that of a countryside pigsty. Choruses of "Thank you so much!" and "Oh my gosh, we did it!" could no doubt be heard throughout the entire store. The husband chuckled, picked up a cupcake, and said to his wife, "I feel like one of those one-millionth shoppers, don't you?" as the two turned and walked away from the group of girls still hugging, laughing, and clapping, with the pure happiness of success.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

I Am Not An Angry Girl... Usually

But today I am livid.  There's something that makes me madder than almost anything else, and so I try not to think about it.  But sometimes I need to think about it.  Sometimes the things that move us most dramatically need the attention their scope commands.  Getting away from myself though.
Hardly a day goes by anymore that I don't think about bolting.  I feel like the time for hitting "reset" is coming close.  How can it not be, with such things dominating my consciousness such a large part of the time?
and generally my generation
wouldn't be caught dead working for the man
and generally I agree with them
trouble is you gotta have yourself an alternate plan

Sometimes I just want to ditch all of my possessions except a few pieces of clothing and my favorite, most rereadable books. And my camera, of course. And maybe a few photos. I'd pack up these few items into my little hatchback and drive out to the desert to live like Georgia O'Keefe taking pictures (since I can't paint) of skulls and rocks for all eternity, until I die or lose my mind completely.  (Aside: I never knew much about GO'K until fairly recently, not being a particular fan of her paintings.  But the more I learn about her, the more I respect and admire her.)
Other times I want to shave my head and move to Kathmandu and go hang out with some monks and practice denial, simplicity, meditation.  Try to reach a place of peace that is so far from the reality of my current existence as to feel unreal.
Sometimes I want to abandon the desk, the chair, the house, for the hoe, the field, the ground.  Work my hands til they're blistered and raw, dirt caked under fingernails, and then fall asleep to the tinkling music of insects under a bowl full of softly glowing stars. 
And then occasionally, I want to jump.  Not just metaphorically as we've discussed, but literally.  Though I know the solace imagined in the freefall would be fear and pain instead, and maybe even a little regret.
and I have earned my disillusionment
I have been working all of my life
and I am a patriot
I have been fighting the good fight

A year and a half ago I laid out all the options.  Considered them, making calculations, savoring their different flavors.  How to escape, what path to take.  In the end it came down to money.  I chose the tamest path, the change with the least change.  The path defined by money.  And money is what makes me so blindly, haphazardly angry.  It is nearly impossible to live without money.  Each generation that has proceeded mine has taken more and more steps every year to further cement this detestable, illusory system into the fabric of our lives and our society. 
From the very simple, to the very complex - money is required for nearly all actions.  Want to drive your car off to the desert to create?  Better have money for gas.  Money for food and water. Money for shelter. Want to go work on a farm?  Better have money to pay the doctor when the inevitable injuries of hard labor begin to take their toll. 
Or at least, this is what we've been taught to believe.  That money is somehow necessary for all of these things.  But it feels so ridiculous if you actually stop and think about it.  Nothing hammers this point home for me more than gold.  Gold is pretty and can be used to make beautiful things, but what is it really worth?  What is it really useful for?  Someone decided it had an inflated worth and everyone else went along with it.  People in my business always talk about there never being anywhere safer to put your money than in gold.  In Turkey, families in rural areas often store their wealth by buying gold bangles, as opposed to putting it in banks or even tin cans in the backyard.  Our own government has impenetrable fortresses whose only purpose is to store it.  But if it really came down to it, if we faced some kind of apocalypse or reset - what good would it do the government to have a bunch of gold?  "Here, take this, give me something of value in return!"  Um.  "Let me melt it down to make a blanket."  Oh wait.  I'm pretty sure a shelter made out of gold would work similarly poorly.
In that same vein, I always loved the idea that today a cigarette lighter costs 99 cents in any convenience store in america, and a cell phone costs 99 dollars, or more.  Yet if the whole world came crashing down around our ears tomorrow, which of those two items would have more value?
I am questioning questioning always.  There are some things I know for certain in my heart or in my mind, or sometimes both.  There are so many more things I still need to figure out.
One of the things I thought about as an actual option, as opposed to the hyperbolic examples above (which I do actually think about, just not seriously considered last spring) was joining an intentional agricultural community in Virginia.  I was motivated by a desire to do more simple, physical work.  To live in a place with less electronic stimulation and more books and good conversation.  To escape from the trappings of money for awhile, having felt like the last 5 years had been spent over obsessing about it (or at least citing it as a primary motivation to remain in my stagnant situation).  I even contacted the people who ran the community by email to ask them some questions that had occurred to me while reading their website and literature.  But there was one factor in particular that ended up stopping me cold in my tracks.  This particular community, which had seemed so awesome and progressive and hopeful versus others I had looked at, had a hard and fast rule.  People who join their community on any kind of permanent basis (which I think they defined as longer than 6 months) had to turn any income earned on capital assets over to the community.  Meaning, I couldn't join these people for a time and allow my fifty thousand dollar IRA to keep growing while I did it.  Any 'unearned income' is the 'property of the community.'  And to me, that just didn't seem fair.  I reasoned that I worked hard to save that money long before joining the community, so why should ANY of it benefit them?  And they didn't just want earnings on stocks, bonds, real estate, etc. but they also went as far as to specify social security, pensions, and interest from a plain checking account.  I guess their philosophy is that by joining the community you are accepting their social contract of providing for members based on need and equality in exchange for work credit, and that represents some sort of rejection of capitalism (therefore justifying any income earned from that system becoming communal property).  But at the time, I couldn't handle that idea.  I was super protective over what I had earned and been given.  And to be honest, even now, the idea sort of bugs a little.  Although I get it.  And I respect it. 
It gets me thinking, because the money thing is definitely one of those questions where it seems a little silly to go half-assed on it.  Either you buy into the system, or you don't.  The thing is, there are so many pragmatic challenges to rejecting the system outright.  Truly rejecting money is an incredibly difficult thing to do in our society.  I know of a few people who have done it, like the Peace Pilgrim and Suelo.  But it is a hard existence, or at least, it seems that way to me as an outsider.  One of the biggest difficulties for me is property ownership.  I don't want to live in caves where I occasionally get ejected by a park ranger.  I think I would want to own some sort of semi-permanent shelter.  But then very quickly you get into the question of property taxes and how even when you own something in our society you never really own it.  How crazy is that??  The day I learned about property taxes so many years ago was like a giant rambaldi ball bursting and drowning me in the resultant flood of water.  I guess maybe a way to circumvent that would be to rent but use bartering of goods and services for rent instead of money.  Although it's still a form of currency.  God, the issue goes so deep.
Anyway, I've been working-on-slash-thinking-about this thing all day today, and there's still so much more I could say.  But I really can't right now.  And my anger has faded quite a bit as the realities of the day, and of work, intrude on my musing.  Perhaps I'll write some more when I get home from bowling tonight, but in all likelihood probably not.
Either way, rant about money aside, the winds of change are blowing.  I feel them on my skin.
i've got a lack of inhibition
i've got a loss of perspective
i've had a little bit to drink
and it's making me think
that i can jump ship and swim
that the ocean will hold me
that there's got to be more
than this boat i'm in

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

The Last Enemy

Already had death on the brain this week, what with recent conversations, long solitary hours on the road, and the death of a friend's father.  Now to add a coworker to the list.  Rest in peace, Jennifer. Your brave, protracted battle with cancer was astonishing and inspirational to me.  We will all miss you greatly.   Perhaps yesterday's song should have been the below instead; it is one of the most beautiful songs about death I have ever heard:


"What Sarah Said" by Death Cab for Cutie
And it came to me then
that every plan
is a tiny prayer to father time
As I stared at my shoes
in the ICU
that reeked of piss and 409
And I rationed my breaths
as I said to myself
that I'd already taken too much today
As each descending peak
on the LCD
took you a little farther away from me
Away from me

Amongst the vending machines
and year-old magazines
in a place where we only say goodbye
It stung like a violent wind
that our memories depend
on a faulty camera in our minds
But I knew that you were a truth
I would rather lose
than to have never lain beside at all
And I looked around
at all the eyes on the ground
as the TV entertained itself
'Cause there's no comfort in the waiting room
Just nervous pacers bracing for bad news
And then the nurse comes round
and everyone lifts their heads
But I'm thinking of what Sarah said
"Love is watching someone die"
So who's going to watch you die?

Monday, June 20, 2011

Musical Mondays: Because It's Been Forever

When was the last time you heard this, eh?

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Ummmm, Ew.

Today I had occasion to see the video for "On the Floor" by JLo. Do not ask how. I wasn't seeking it out, it sort of just happened to me. Here are some thoughts:

(1) Hellllllllllo obvious product placement. The shoutouts to BMW and Swarovski at the beginning were just sad. If you're going to be that obvious, at least be amusing and self-deprecating about it (see: Wayne's World).

(2) Anyone else think Jlo's nude spider-woman costume is a rip off of the Britney "Toxic" costume? It was the first thought that popped into my head, anyway. Let's compare:



ok - they're obviously not the same, but the reference is there, in my opinion. and Jlo? You don't need to take any pages out of Brit's book.

(3) She never really dances in this spider suit. Know why? It's those six inch heels she's wearing. Sometimes women are DUMB. So DUMB.

(4) Though the conceit (pun intended) of celebrities watching themselves in videos is not a new one, it's still always creepy.

(5) Pop music is out of new ideas right now. SRSLY.

That is all.

Musical Mondays: I'm Late! I'm Late! For a Very Important Date! (well, actually...)

Forgot to post on Monday, being all wrapped up in narrating my funnily bad date. Here's what I intended to post, had I remembered. It's a song called "Beat On Us" by 13 & God:

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

An Open Letter to My Date From Last Night

Dear sir,

You can take this with a grain of salt, since I don't know you very well.  In fact, maybe you should take it with a bucket of salt, since I don't feel I really know you at all.  After two and a half hours of sitting and talking with you, I don't think I know anything more about you than I knew before our date. 
Let's call this problem #1: WHO ARE YOU?  While it is cool to like the same books, movies, and television shows as someone else, it is not endlessly fascinating.  You don't go on dates with someone to drop as many references as possible and see how many they get.  Or at least let me say I don't go on dates for that reason.  You go on a date to get to know someone a little bit and see if you'd want to spend some time with them.  Learn a little bit about them, maybe share some personal anecdotes or stories.  Even if your date actually GETS most of your pop cultural references, that doesn't make it cool to go on and ON and ON about these things.
Let's call this problem #2.  IT IS OKAY TO STOP AND TAKE A BREATH EVERY ONCE IN A WHILE.  If the person sitting across from you LITERALLY has to interrupt you in order to get a word in edgewise UR DOING IT WRONG.  Combine this with problem number one and you'll see that all my attempts to steer the conversation away from "every comic book you've ever read" and into things like where you went to school, where you've traveled to (if anywhere), what your lifestyle is like as a freelance writer without a 9-5 job, were overruled by your need to give me stream of conscious ramblings about pop culture for 2 1/2 hours.
Oh, and 2 1/2 hours.  Let's talk about that for a minute.  I'll call this one "PROBLEM #3: SOCIAL AWKWARDNESS."  When you are having a conversation with me and it's so clearly one-sided, how do you not see that you are making me incredibly bored?  How long did you possibly expect my attention span to last?  How is it possible that an hour and a half into it, none of the following signs tipped you off to how awkward you were behaving: looking out the window every five minutes, paying more attention to the conversation of the people sitting next to us than to you, sitting back from the table, endlessly wrapping my necklace around and back off my finger.  Not until I literally started tapping my foot on the metal table bottom (accidental outpouring of frustration, btw) did you notice and stop long enough to ask me if I wanted to move to the bar next door.  My mental response? "I think emphatically NOT."  My actual response? It did allow me to say that I didn't think I'd make it to pub trivia at 9:30, but once those words had left my lips you considered that license to keep talking until that very minute, never letting it occur to you that my next sentence was going to be "Actually it's getting late and I need to head back to Durham."  Thankfully a well-timed call from a friend allowed me to say to her, "I think I'll be heading back to Durham pretty soon."
Continuing in the vein of social awkwardness and not understanding conventions or moirés: let's talk about the fact that you invited me to meet you for coffee/food at 6pm (when you knew I'd be coming straight from work).  Then, you sat in this café for 2 1/2 hours and DIDN'T EAT OR DRINK ANYTHING OR PATRONIZE THE ESTABLISHMENT AT WHICH YOU WERE HANGING OUT.  And looked askance at me when, after an hour of listening to you talk, I couldn’t stand being hungry anymore and had to go up to the counter and ACTUALLY ORDER SOMETHING.  Not only because I was starving (and eager to give my ears a break) but also because it's good to actually buy something if you're going to take up a table for that huge amount of time.  And when I asked if you were hungry you said, "No, I ate right before I came."  WHO DOES THAT?  Someone who doesn't understand how these things work.
Alright.  I hate to do this.  Because I have struggled with my image/weight/confidence/etc practically my whole life.  But the one thing I have never done is misrepresented it to other people.  If anything, I am probably harder on myself and more critical of my appearance than I ought to be.  I certainly don't overpromise and under deliver.  I have several full length pics of myself on my profile and none of them have been digitally altered or strategically cropped.  I am what I say I am - WYSIWYG. 
You, on the other hand, are all about misrepresenting yourself, and not just physically.  Let's call this problem #4: LIES.  Not only did you make the fact that you had lost 60 pounds two years ago a focal point of your profile, but additionally all your primary pictures are you ridiculously skinny.  Then two fat pics at the end where you say something to the effect of "I can't believe I used to look like that."  When, in exchanging messages with you, you mentioned you still go to weight watchers, I was super excited.  I was like, "Ooh great, we'll have that in common."  When I tried bringing it up in conversation, however, you were totally uninterested in talking about it.  Perhaps the reason for this is that in contrast to the 'success story' you make a highlight in your profile, your current appearance is a bit different.  YOU GAINED THIRTY OF THOSE SIXTY POUNDS BACK AND FORGOT TO TELL ANYONE.  Or perhaps, purposefully didn't tell anyone.  I was sort of willing to give you the benefit of the doubt on that, until it appeared you had fudged more facts about yourself than just the one.  Another big part of your profile was where you consistently lauded yourself for being employed as a freelance writer and actually making enough money to live, and live well.  You cited the swanky downtown Raleigh neighborhood where your "sweet pad" was, and said how nice it was not to rely on your parents any more.  Then, on our date, you offered the following gem - your "sweet pad" is actually a condo you inherited early from your parents after they purchased it outright on a real estate windfall from another house.  And this free living situation allows you to write and not worry about exactly how much money you are making.  Ok, here's the thing.  I DO NOT CARE ABOUT MONEY.  Or at least other people's money.  I care about my own money a great deal and have made certain sacrifices to get it, and therefore feel sort of protective over it (even though I think the whole currency thing is kind of a sham, and that's upsetting, because what have I been doing for six years focusing on making money.  Ground we've covered already).  So back to the point.  I wouldn't have cared that you were freeloading off inheritance in order to do something you are passionate about regardless of income. In fact I think it's kind of cool.  But the fact that you thought you had to lie and misrepresent your financial situation, I think, says something bad about you as a person.  That you're not comfortable in your own skin, that you care too much what other people think, and that you actually do play the money game.  Which later, you confirmed by telling me you were thinking of giving up freelancing to write for a company and do press releases and marketing and stuff.  When I asked why, you said "Green talks."   BARF.  I am trying to head the opposite direction from that with my own life and feel like intelligent people make the realization they need to run away from money & convention, not towards it.

This could have been a great date, and I was actually pretty excited to meet you. But I didn't really get a preview of the real you, and you put up a lot of walls that I have no patience for or interest in breaking down.  I am an open book and I'm looking for the same openness in a partner. You never gave me any fodder to really connect with you on. It's really too bad.

I could go on and on about the things that irked me about you, but I am running out of time on my lunch hour, and I don't need to allow you to waste any more of my life. Let me just close by saying this: 1989 called and it wants its jeans back. 
Your disgruntled date

Friday, June 10, 2011

The Score Thus Far

Week Game 1 Game 2 Game 3 Series Avg Season Avg
1 92103117 312 104 104
2 866785 238 79 92
3 7812587 290 97 93
4 13694137 367 122 101
5 12392117 332 111 103
Interesting to note that despite the fact that my overall game has definitely improved this season, my average hasn't matched that of the first week.  But the first week was an uncharacteristically good one for me, score-wise. 
For comparison's sake, here are some sample sets of scores from our last season (in the "Let's Get Started" league, whereas now we're in the "Not That Good" league.)  Foolishly, I did not save my scores from every week, thinking since I was doing it for fun, why should I obsess?  Now, I'm suddenly super interested in the patterns of my score and how I'm doing.  I think the fact that I'm improving is a big part of the genesis of tracking.
Week 4 - 73/105/65
Week 5 - 69/131/87
Week 6 - 67/107/66
Week 9 - 79/104/69
My game seems to have become a lot more even-tempered this season.  More consistent.  Last season I often had this bell curve thing where I'd have a crappy warm-up game, a half-way decent game in the middle, and then I'd get tired and have another crappy game.  Only once this season have I had the bell curve.  In fact, much more often (3 to 1) I'd have the inverted bell curve, where my crappiest game was the middle one.  Explain that to me!
The general improvement between seasons I definitely think I can attribute to getting my own ball.  Having a bowling ball specifically drilled to fit your hand as opposed to a house ball which only has S/M/L holes and is drilled un-angled so it can be used by a righty or a lefty has made a huge difference in my release.  I can bowl much straighter more consistently when I'm not gripping the ball with a death grip because I'm afraid it's going to slip off my hand.
Anyways, bowling has been SO fun.  I'm really glad the two people who were going to do it alone decided to mention it to the group writ large and let us all get involved.  It has been a great way to get to know my coworkers, it's been fun to see myself improve, it's handy and money-saving to have acquired shoes and a ball for leisure bowling as well as league play, and it's been a great way to be social and get out of the house another night each week.
Fun times.  Watch this space for updates on my progress throughout the season.

Where Have You Gone, Joe Philosophy?

Somewhere along the way this week, I lost my ability to be philosophical.
Well, I shouldn't say I lost it.  I should say it went into hiding.  I peered inside myself and it was gone.  Briefly, it's absence made me feel a bit crazy.  Shortly though, I realized I'd just have to tease it out.  I played its favorite movies, thinking maybe it was hiding behind my eyes.  Perhaps the chance to laugh at its favorite comedy or cry with its favorite tear jerker would make it want to come back to the surface.  But there was no stirring, no sign.  I listened to its favorite music, thinking maybe it hid in my ears.  Could these tunes of mirth or significance rouse it to action? It seemed not, as still silence greeted me in return.  I even tried to dance it out, thinking perhaps to hide properly it had spread itself so thin over bones and muscle that it could only be spurred to action through movement, through physical release.  Still it was nowhere to be found.
At wits end, I talked to people about the loss of my philosophical friend.  "If I can't be philosophical, how will I balance out my emotions?"  My best friend in NC, my sister, my best friend from Deis, each had a similar message.  "You rely on us."  "We'll be philosophical for you."  "We'll be the voice of reason."  It was then that I remembered.  Reason can't be lured with imitation of life, bottling and selling of emotion, plated echoes of reality.  It is lured by reason.  Just as we are comforted by other people, so our inner sense of rationality, of reason, is comforted by the echo of the reason in other people.  My ability to philosophical popped back up when it saw it had others of its kind to talk to, to hang out with, to have solidarity with.
Which is all a long winded way of saying, whatever you're feeling - talk it out.  Through discourse, through debate, through camaraderie and cohesion - there is where you will find your comfort.  There is your solace.  There is your purpose.  Put away your movies, music, television.  In others, our energy and wholeness is restored. 
Funny paradox that the presence of our six billion should be both a terrible strain on our planet and simultaneously a consolation to us as individuals.
"Without deep reflection one knows from daily life that one exists for other people." - Albert Einstein
"If we have no peace, it is because we have forgotten that we belong to each other." - Mother Teresa

Monday, June 6, 2011

Musical Mondays: Look Alive

This week's selection is one of my favorite Nada Surf tunes, called "See These Bones." But for a bit of a change I've included a live version hosted by Paste, which I think is vastly superior to the album version from Lucky. Ignore the video, that's not the important point. It's just a beautiful and well written song.

Sunday, June 5, 2011

The Ocean Breathes Salty

Today, the ocean seems calmer somehow and it is befitting as I am feeling more relaxed than I have been in while. At times, there are even moments of complete silence as a little wave slowly undulates its way to shore, rising higher and higher until it crests, turning over itself in an acrobatic display matching its thunder-like crash. It sticks the landing and the seconds of white noise that follow mimic the applause of a crowd as the water eases its way up the shore in a foamy blanket. Then silence once again.

Monday, May 30, 2011

Musical Mondays: Hot Tub Cameo

So my next door neighbor, Jeff, is in this awesome local band that is probably about to make it big. They're called "Hammer No More the Fingers" and they are awesome. They just came back from a pretty long tour in Europe (I think 12 cities). They probably have Avett-Brothers-like chances of making it. We hope, anyway. The thing is, it's hard to pigeonhole their sound. Which I think makes them sort of great, but may impede their ability to get picked up by a major record label. Anyway, Aaron and I are watching closely and trying to spread the love wherever we can.

So today's musical monday is dedicated to HNMTF. Below is their newest music video, filmed by our friend Ned. My neighbor Jeff is the one who looks like a young Tom Petty, wearing the blue and red warpaint towards the end. ALSO! Look for a cameo by my hot tub at the very end of the video (they filmed the last scene there).

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Trains: A Love Story

planes trains

2 hour wait to get on

immediate bording

partial undressing necessary - shoes, jackets, belts, etc

nobody expects me to take any of my clothes off

groped or x-rayed by random people

no one cares

16" of legroom, 24" of seat

24" of legroom, 36" of seat

the perils of assigned seating - annoying people, middle seats, drink cart elbow smashing, etc

choosing your own seat (adventure?)

bag check fees, bag weight limits, carry-on limits

no fees, plenty of storage, no fighting for overhead compartment space

few permissible times to leave your seat

you can always leave your seat

no where to stand even when you do leave your seat

a whole car dedicated to dining; standing room at the end of each car

tray tables

actual tables

one outlet, if you're lucky

one outlet PER seat

overly airconditioned, pressurized, germy ice cubes

the ability to go stand between cars and get fresh air

crying babies, snoring passengers

the quiet car

6" porthole windows

gigantic windows

the view from 36,000 feet

the view of parts of america you may never have seen, up close

annoying, controlling flight attendants

cheery conductors who make themselves scarce



All we have to do is make them faster and they'd be a clear winner. As it is, I still think they're a clear winner, it's just that sometimes scheduling necessitates a quicker method of transport, unfortunately. I am waiting for the train renaissance, man. People are going to have to realize one of these days what a worthwhile investment it is. Think of the jobs rennovating and expanding that kind of infrastructure could create! I own stock in several railroad companies - Norfolk Southern, CSX, etc. I really believe trains are the superior mode of transport, and I'm hoping, someday our country will come back around to that perspective.

Till then - CHOO CHOO!

Saturday, May 28, 2011

More Train Thoughts

So there’s this thing I’ve been doing lately. I’ve become romantically involved with a good friend of mine. It’s tough to quantify exactly what this involvement entails. See, I wouldn’t call it dating, primarily because we live in different states and there is none of the regularity associated with dating, but secondarily because there is no explicit commitment. But neither would I call it not dating, or I should say, neither would I call it just hooking up. There’s more to it than that, for me anyway. BTW - I don’t intend to name him here, but neither do I want to make up a stupid fake name for him. I’ll probably just refer to him by the amusing moniker my boss has given him, “confusing man friend”, or “CMF”, for short.

One of the toughest challenges to our involvement, or perhaps I ought to say one of several tough challenges, is that this unquantifiable nature of things necessitates trying NOT to contextualize, to understand what my CMF means to me and how he might fit into my life more long-term. But most of us, when getting involved in a romantic situation, have a strong natural tendency to want to do exactly that. Else, why are we doing it? But perhaps one of the only things that is clear about our involvement is that my CMF will be in no such position for perhaps quite a long while, if ever, and so there is not much point to my contextualizing him in my life if he is unable to do the same.

And yet, I still sometimes catch myself meditating on these context-dependent, “broad-spectrum” questions. Making observations of his behavior or tendencies and wondering, how do I feel about that? Is it compatible with me? Could I live with it long-term? What does it mean?

I’m on a train today. It’s led to a LOT of time for thinking and analyzing. Also, writing. This is the third blog entry I’ve composed already (though the other two were about food politics and trains, respectively). Naturally, the CMF has been on my mind a good deal. And there’s one quality of his I’ve been thinking about a lot, not for any particular reason, but I feel compelled to write about it to help me sort through my thoughts. Important to note, though, that this is primarily a thought experiment. Or an idle marinating. I know there's no reason in particular to be thinking about it, but I am, so I'm brain dumping.

This CMF, see, I’ve known him a pretty long time. We first met when I was 17, so it’s been ten years. While we’ve not always had consistent contact over those ten years, in the style of many of my friendships (and the style I naturally aspire to) we were usually able to pick up where we left off when we did get back in contact, as though no or little time had passed. And long before the romantic part started, when he was just an MF and no C, there was one quality in particular about him that I appreciated and took pains to mention when describing him to others. CMF, with only the rarest exceptions, always tells you exactly what he thinks. And he doesn’t give up on people easily.

As has been discussed on this blog a multitude of times in great detail (most recently HERE), my life has not taken the direction I expected. And I’ve often been unhappy with where my choices have led me. One of the most problematic things about this faulty trajectory is that most of those closest to me, both friends and family, have been either oblivious to it or willfully ignorant of it. Except my CMF. He has never let me forget that I’m not where I want to be, that I used to have different dreams (no matter how vague they were), that I refused to accept this type of existence when he first knew me, and openly mocked or was mystified by those who would choose it. And he has never been afraid to tell me so. I probably have 15 emails saved from the past ten years, each of which contains a little bit of that sentiment somewhere in its long, thoughtful reply. It is so, SO important to have people like that in your life, and they are so rare. It is one of the things I have always appreciated about him. I know that when I ask him what he thinks of a decision, or a thought process I’m having, I’m going to get the honest truth. And when I get complacent, he’s there to remind me I shouldn’t be. He doesn’t let me settle for anything less than what I deserve, what he thinks I ought to deserve.

The thing is, I think this particular quality takes on a different flavor in a romantic relationship. One thing I must emphasize right up front, before I explain what I mean, is that it’s not the honesty part I have trouble with. I would never, EVER want someone I'm seeing to be dishonest with me. I absolutely, one hundred percent think that honesty is the most important characteristic of a successful relationship (though certainly not the only important one). However, more than loyalty, more than affection, if you can’t count on open communication you may as well give up now. There is no chance of survival without honesty because it is the backbone of everything else. For example: loyalty that is dishonest leads to resentment. If someone disagrees with their partner on something but feels the need to agree because they want to be unconditionally loyal or avoid conflict, it will just build up into resentment (either consciously or sub-consciously) until it creates a serious problem, whereas if addressed head-on initially, faces such better prospects of reaching resolution or compromise.

So it’s not the honesty. It’s the small but inherently adversarial essence of this quality that I think could be a problem.


Ok, back to CMF’s unfailing honesty and accountability-keeping. What’s a good word to describe this quality, btw? It’s not just honesty, so I can’t just call it honesty; it’s the confrontational nature of the honesty. Shall I borrow a word from Colbert and say ‘truthiness”? Perhaps solely for word economy I shall. So...this truthiness. I’m not sure this is a universal tendency of people or unique to the way I operate in a relationship but I tend to rely, heavily, on my partner/significant other for support. I desire encouragement, cheerleading, when things are on the upswing, consolation and sympathy when they’re not. And support for the days when I come home and say, “Today just wasn’t my day.” This may be partly because of the E in my ENFJ; my energy is so extroversion-focused on other people that I devote very little time to myself. To being my own cheerleader or consoler. So maybe it’s not universal. Either way, I hardly ever ask for the support I need. Therefore, I think someone who is unafraid to remind me I’m not meeting my goals might combine with my tendency not to support myself and perhaps make me feel like I’m consistently under attack, or being criticized. Which, to be fair, is a feeling no one likes. But it’s especially difficult for me, I think, to deal with criticism (just something I know about myself). I take things personally.

Now practically, this may not actually be the way that this truthiness pans out, but I am theorizing that it might feel that way. I think there is at least one way to mitigate this effect. If the partner couples that tendency to be truthy with a strong, vocal tendency to support and comfort, and affirm, it would probably be ok. But see, when you’re not in a relationship with someone, or at least not a quantifiable or committed one, it’s hard to know exactly how supportive they are as a romantic partner, and how actively they voice that support. I mean, don’t get me wrong, CMF has been SUPER DUPER supportive as a friend over the years. But it’s just totally different in a relationship. It’s inherently not the same. You can’t use one as evidence for the other.

I don’t know when, if ever, I’ll be able to see how this theory comports with reality. And that’s sort of tough. But sounding it out and understanding that it’s a potential challenge has value in and of itself. Or at least to me it does. I like to know what I might face because then I can think about how I might deal with it, or speculate if I could. It’s one of the very few ways in which I’m future-oriented (being generally more past-oriented). So today it’s been on my mind, and now I’ve sounded it out. And it helped.