Tuesday, May 31, 2005

The flower of youth

I am watching "Down to You". It is surprisingly not bad. Julia Stiles is a young woman who gives such an impression of seriousness and consequence she is often too heavy, too substantial for the romantic teen flicks that she gets. Strangely, starring opposite Freddie Prinze, she is light and loose. Their on-screen chemistry is open and sincere, earnest and vulnerable, fearless. And in the midst of being a pale imitation of Annie Hall it captures the thrill and discovery, the freshness of your first big love.

Beyond their good looks I cannot get over their youth. It amazes me. The Mary Kay director said that the part of a body that age the fastest are the hands and the neck.

I look at my neck and the creases on my face and my hands and I marvel that I do not remember noticing when all of this happened. This showing the signs of time bit.

You who are so young, so very very young who think nothing is ever going to change and that you will live forever.
And you who are starting to notice that you are changing and starting to think that someday all of this will end.

Go to the mirror and take a long look at your neck. Look down at your hands. Now take a big twirl and admit to yourself that that twirl felt good and you look good.

Ready for my close-up

Last night G called me and asked if she could borrow my hands. Her friend R (the painter) came down to urbanana with a camcorder. She had decided to make a movie starring G. She wanted scenes in which G had four hands. I provided additional hands. Lots of light, lists of shots, take after take. Millions of decisions to make: what to wear, where to shoot, iron skillet or stainless steel, onions and tomatoes or just onions. R had clear ideas about how things should look and what should happen. Obviously Directors direct.

It was interesting but slow going. I have thought that I want to make a movie someday. But an observation My Guy made hovers at my shoulder. He says my disasterously messy apartment reflects a person who has trouble making choices. I think about that because it is true. And standing around with my hands in the frame I thought to myself "I will never make a movie. I can't make all of those little and big choices." But driving home at 2am it occurred to me that I make choices when I write songs. And when I write these posts and while it doesn't seem like it ... I do a little editing and editing is making choices. I don't make a lot of choices and I have trouble with the ones regarding my possessions but I can and I do. So who knows, maybe you'll come to this site someday and there will be a link to a 5 minute film of a girl eating a sandwich or something made by me.

I know I should not

But I am going to buy the Maroon 5 album "Songs about Jane." Though I really hate the song "She will be Loved," the song "This Love" is cause for a dance break anywhere, anytime. And "Sunday Morning" is equally gorgeous.

And here I lose all credibility with the serious music fan.

I suppose I should just go out and get the entire Stevie Wonder discography. 'Cuz I am so enamored of the poor imitation due to great love for the original.

I am also one of few people who really likes the self-titled Liz Phair album. Maybe it's 'cause she and I are of an age. Love/Hate, Favorite, Rock Me, these are songs that I can relate to as much as I relate to Fuck and Run.

And while not quite on the subject here's my crappy AM radio test for songwriting. Loud is good and high quality acoustics are great. But if you have to have either(or both) to like a song, that song is merely passable. Dynamics can convey emotion. Plain old volume is a crutch. If your song is played at regular volume through a crappy mono AM radio and still hooks people in, you have a strong song on your hands.

Monday, May 30, 2005

Yo yo yo yo

I hope y'all are grilling and chilling on this fine sunny day.

G. called me this morning for getting coffee. We talked trash and discussed philosophy cackling in our outside voices. We then went to her place where she played me some Elliot Smith tunes, some Nick Drake (who I did not know had committed suicide), The Anniversary, electro songs by the Faint, and Aloha. She always plays Aloha. She loves Aloha. She has acquired her boyfriend's CD collection ( and a very well rounded a literate one at that) and guitar while he is gone. I played it a little which I haven't done in ages. The muscle memory is very deteriorated. Noodled around with some new chord progressions.

I am starting to like Nick Drake with his furry voice and his delicate lattice of tender sounds and Elliot Smith with his gorgeous guitar work and much touted lyrics but I am glad that I am discovering them late in life. I used to listen to lots of Lyle Lovett, Nanci Griffith and the Indigo Girls (who are nothing like ES or ND but also play beautiful and very sad music with beautful and very sad lyrics) but I had to stop because I would get so depressed I wanted to curl up in the oven with the gas on. "The Step Inside This House" double album in which Lyle covers some of the most sad and beautiful songs by Texas songwriters *sigh* it's a real heartbreaker. The hope is that I am stronger and less impressionable now. And I can hack it. Because as Nick Hornby (who I do not know but do adore) once asked, which came first the music or the misery? Are you sad and need to listen to a sad song or do you listen to a sad song and have it pull you down?

After that kind of morning I was at loose ends. I washed the litter box I got from K and made a half-hearted stab at doing some cleaning. Got distracted by my shadow while doing it. So to help with that, I got 4 unremarkable movies for a grand total of $2 which I will "watch" as I continue to "dust" my things.

I was graced with a long long distance call from RB letting me know that she is there and all is well. Amusingly I had "The Dish" on the TV at the time and thought to myself: "Yes, the Eagle has landed."

Sunday, May 29, 2005

Why we do the things we do

My fortune cookie fortune reads: "A new outlook brightens your image and brings new friends." I guess this means that I am either getting a facial or new glasses.

FnB is Food Not Bombs. In its various forms it takes food that is going to be wasted and makes vegetarian meals served for free in parks and at protests around the world. Its foundations are anti-war and anti-poverty.

I am told that the concept of feeding friends and strangers without a monetary transaction or pedaling dogma is in itself radical. Others are not impressed "so you cook feed and eat, what's political about that?"

B and I are not core members of the homegrown urbanana chapter. We kinda do it because the ones we love do it. But this week the core members are gone and have asked us to take care of their baby while they are gone. Some will be gone for many weeks. They left town with the food bins locked in their homes (we are without our beans) and without introducing us to their produce contacts at the organic grocery ... We are Food Not Bombs, without food. B calls everyone she can think of who has helped out in the past. They cannot come, they are graduating from high school today or they are going to see someone graduate. We are what remains.

I gather a few lbs of pasta from my cabinet and B and I go to the Food Co-op to see if they have anything in their free bin that we can use. Over-ripe apricots, garlic, a few scrawny roma tomatoes and some artichokes. We find the artichokes to be bruised and utterly bewildering. Peel and pull and peel and peel and there is nothing left. So the menu is sugared apricots and pasta tossed with onion, garlic, tomato, margarine and olive oil. B is an inspired chef. Without a doubt.

We feel kind of lost just being the two of us. Each of us a little shy and not knowing the other very well. But we push on. It is overcast and we didn't do any PR for this serving and My Guy has taken his hard drive with all of "the inspirational for cooking" tunes, with him. We chop. B sautees. The pasta is very bland and we try to find some way to make it taste like something more than a big pot of noodles - more salt, more garlic, more margarine, more lemon herb seasoning. We push on. We drive up and the cops have bagged all the meters and no one is there. It starts to rain.

So we decide to get coffee and then come back and see if anyone is there. Some Sundays, folks don't show up until quarter past 4pm. Coming back, we see one kid standing under a tree in the rain, (He's the one that M finds annoying, which I can see, the kid is not so tactful.) he tells us that someone stopped by and left after 5 minutes. The turnout of one kid, the rain, the abandonment, missing someone seeking food, this is the last straw.

I do not want to stand in the rain with a bowl of pasta ( B doesn't either). We say that FnB is cancelled. B hands the kid the bowl of pasta with one fork stuck in it and a few plates and instructs him to bring the bowl back next week. I drop her off.

And have this massive pang of guilt at ditching FnB. I have this image of that kid with a bowl of pasta and one fork standing under a tree in the rain and I drive back to see if he is still there and to offer water, more plates, more forks, a napkin, and apricots. (which he had refused.)

There under a tree with the rain letting up (having never really out and out started) are five people eating pasta sharing a single fork. I give them beverages and apricots (which are a hit!) and pretzles and crackers, napkins. Each of them gets a fork of his/her own. And I talked to folks. Which I am usually too disoriented to do. One guy tells me that he wants to breed a miniature albino bison. (?)

I tell them that we need to figure out how to get food for next week. A man with many tattoos offers to set up a food collection box at the Habitat for Humanity store. He says that he also works at the Times Center and they often have too much food. I find great irony in taking food from a shelter to make food for the public. But if they don't need it and are willing to share, why not?

The bison breeder advises us to talk to the manager of various groceries in town about getting baked goods, he says they have to toss bread at a certain point and are willing to give it away for free. I feel embarassed asking the people we feed for advice on getting food but they are happy to give it and seem interested in sustaining the humble five to fifteen person gathering that has happened every Sunday for a couple of months now.

And that is something.

I cannot speak for the greater meaning of the Food Not Bombs movement or philosophy. In my book, B and I, we are Food not Bombs for cooking and giving the kid the bowl. The kid, he is Food Not Bombs for sitting under that tree in the rain with that bowl of food and sharing it. The guy with the tatoos is Food Not Bombs for coming out in the rain and eating and helping us collect food. The bison breeder, MR, MQ, all of us.

Food Not Bombs is five people sharing a fork and a big bowl of pasta under a tree.

Where the feeding of people is a good deed done to another. The sharing of food is reciprocal and reciprocally nourishing. It makes the world more abundant.

Let me tell you about my Sundays. My Sundays are spent chopping, baking, dishwashing, eating, transporting, and chatting with strangers who are my neighbors. I will bring umbrellas in case it rains and sweaters in case it's cold.

I brought home the leftover bit of pasta. Not bad, B, not bad at all

* added note and foolery: This weekend is the 25th anniversary of Food Not Bombs. We did not have a big to do to mark this event. We almost didn't have a to do at all. Almost. Do not lose hope. From the smallest acorn, a mighty oak.
Food Not Bombs: 25 years in the world - Still here in urbanana. *

empty town syndrome

1. return DVD's
2. clean my place.
3. get vegan cookie recipe
4. pick up at his place
5. cook for FNB
6. serve
7. clean up
8. become a vegetable for the rest of the night

My Guy is on a plane home to see his family. We drove up to Chi yesterday and crashed with some friends of his from college days. It's funny to see someone caught between contexts. It brings home how very different we are. And how young he is.

In observance of Memorial Day weekend, there were lots of police out and about. One cop was parked at the highway divider with his radar gun clocking everyone driving by. Also lots of dead deer on the highway and a possum. =(
Welcome to Summer.

I am feeling twice my age today. And I am so tired. I feel ancient, plain, flightless, and lifeless.

As a remedy, I want to flake out and do what makes me happy.
It sounds simple enough but first I have to figure out what's gonna bite me on the ass if flaked on.

Saturday, May 28, 2005

Things to do before two

1. get oil change
2. check tire pressure
3. return F's key
4. return DVD's and videos
Mystic River, Tokyo Godfathers, The Dish, The Prisoner disk 3
5. pack
6. get driving directions
7. tidy up a little bit. (mop the floor or something...)

My list does not get done the day it is written but over the course of a few weeks things get crossed off or forgotten.

I had ribs yesterday with G. They were charry but quite good. One of us is often trying to convince the other to drop everything in favor of play. This is the first time the other has relented. *hee* We fought over the check in a traditional fashion. It was fun.

Did you know that Monday is Memorial Day? While officially it is a day to remember those who have died for this country. In practice it is a day for picnics and barbeques and gathering to imbibe in the backyard. Or leave town for a short trip on your long weekend. Long weekends, so delightful. They are never quite long enough. Alas I have made no plans. Maybe I will work. Why not?

I am sending hopes and flowers to RB on her adventure with a stern insistance that she be in regular e-contact while there so's we knows things are copacetic.

Friday, May 27, 2005


I was watching the news today (a rarity) and there was a story about the side effects of erectile disfunction medications.

Apparently for some section of the population taking drug like Viagra will cause loss of sight. For some people the blood vessels from the optic nerve to the brain, are adversely affected thus blindness.

It's not exactly the whole masterbation causes blindness thing but you have to wonder. If given the choice between sight and the ability to have sex, which would you choose?

cake decoration

I baked cupcakes for My Guy belatedly for his birthday. He requested that I kiss the top of one in place of frosting or a candle. So cute.

(You cynical types go throw up on your own time. =P)

strung out on serious movies

*waring spoilers everywhere*

My Guy and I watched "Mystic River" last night. It was intense. I accept the logic of the way the tale unfolds and admire the beauty of the structure. This story has really good bones. The characters do what is in their nature and with the intersection of events and coincidences and confidences, I did not necessarily know what was going to happen and when I saw it, I did not want it to happen. I was not happy with the ending. But I understood the chain of events and motivations. I did not like it, but I could see it. And because I could see it I accepted it as a viewer. Strange, no? This understanding between the story and the audience.

I wonder if this is the experience of the ancient Greeks in the Ampitheater. All those citizens gathered together during the festival to honor some God or Goddess. The torches are lit and the chorus begins telling a story that is timely and relevant in its themes, challenging and questioning our point of view and our understanding of the world. The cartharsis and epiphany and all that jazz, which I sort of remember but only vaguely. What theater did was pick us up and walk us through a mental and emotional process together. Bringing us to the other side with a question or an answer or the start of a conversation.

Back to "Mystic River", for me the question is: when an evil thing happens do we carry it with us forever? Does it become so much a part of us as to take the living out of our lives? Like when Laurence Fishburne talks about how you carry jail time as tension in your shoulders and you carry the murder of your daughter in your stomach.

At heart, I am a sap. I know the logic of a story but I look for the way out. The way to turn it inside out and get a happy ending. In "The Piano" the logic of the story says that a woman who cannot conform to the demands of her society will be punished. And when she is sinking into the ocean weighed down by the piano you think that this is the end. This is tragedy. This is opera. This is how the story is told.

But the movie takes a turn thereafter and we see that she does not die, she lives with her metal finger, her lover, her child, and a new piano. It steps through the frame of opera into another room.

Life is bigger and stranger than any story you tell. Life has much more possiblity and maybe our stories should bend their logic to reflect this.

Thursday, May 26, 2005

Hello sunshine, I'm closer to fine

I wrote something that got lost. hrm.

I was CC'd a letter from the Dean of the Graduate College stating a Certificate of Result has been sent to my departmental office. Bureaucratically speaking, I am cleared for takeoff.

In truth I am five figures, less than 60 pages, several references and one defense date away.
I keep taking the letter out and looking at it again. It almost seems possible.
I might finish, I might pass.

After ten years prostrate to the higher mind I might get my paper and be free.

life choices and the worry wheel

I am the type to pick at a scab. And on an overcast day what else is there to do?

The Ex can be a threatening presence in your relationship.
There is a scene in Hi Fidelity where John Cusack's character imagines his ex having the best sex on the planet with ponytail guy. Who knows if it is actually true. It is a trick that the mind plays on you. I imagine that she had this really great relationship that was so fabulous and so much better than what I have and what she had is what I want.

The first reality check: Relationships do not work by the conservation of energy. Individual chemistry makes each one different. So her loss and my gain are not equivalent.

The second reality check: they are not together anymore. Which is an indication that maybe things weren't so great.

The third reality check: the end has been frightfully contentious and destructive another indication that maybe things were not so great or on an irreparable decline.

What happens when
You like what you have but you know you can't keep it.
You know what you want but you know you can't have it.
You like what you have but you want more.
You try to remake what you have into what you want.
You try to change your thinking to be happy with what you have and put what you want out of mind.
There are any number of variations on this theme. Many of which are playing out in episodes of Felicity.
Y'know. It is intrinsic to being human. Unless you are the Buddah.

The movies have taught me to want what does not exist. Kathleen Hannah would add that this spurs me on to spend money on products to fill that void, that longing.

I have dated a long series of people who leave town. Which on the surface is odd for a distrustful person with abandonment issues. Committment-phobes are funny that way.

It always starts off very promising: talking, flirting, a little lift to the day, something to make me smile. And I think, "Hey this is great. Sex dinner and a movie. I can totally hack this." I imagine myself to be a bachelor girl, a midwestern Holly Golightly. Love them and leave them with the check.

But I am not so cavalier. Then comes the emotional connection and the hand holding and the snuggling and sharing a bed with another person, the smallest quirks and details that imprint themselves on my life and become a part of the rhythm of my day to day and the forming of attachments. Which then pack up and leave for Canada, or Colorado, or Boston, or San Franscisco.

On the up side, it does provide fodder for songwriting and journaling.

I have heard it said that when Pablo Picasso got into a creative slump he snapped out of it by getting a new house and a new woman. I wonder which one lead to La Guernica.

Wednesday, May 25, 2005

Game called on account of sentimentality

Today marshalling my thoughts is like herding cats.

"I'm mad about good books, can't get my fill
And Franklin Roosevelt's looks, give me a thrill
Holding hands by the radio when all the lights are low may not be new
But I like it how about you"
-misquote of B.Lane and R. Freed


First Fig

"My candle burns bright at both ends;
it will not last the night;
But ah, my foes, and oh, my friends,
It gives a lovely light!"

-Edna St. Vincent Millay

MC, the poet-med student-(now doctor)-scientist intensely disliked Ms. Millay. He found her trite and too rigid in her forms and structures. Me, I'm just a hack. I like this poem. I find it breezy and ballsy.

a long lost memory

When I lived at home some mornings I woke up and found my mother sitting at the edge of the bed. After a struggle to consciousness, I would tell her my dreams. If they were bad she would buy my dream for a quarter. She would press the coin in my hand, smile, and assure me that everything will fine. And I would not remember my dreams for the next few days.

When I lived with PJ she told me about this terrible dream that she kept having about how I invited her lousy no good ex-boyfriend came to our place. He walked around with his shoes on and was a real pain in the ass. I bought her dream for a quarter. That night I had her dream.

It seems unlikely that anyone will want to buy my dreams anymore. But I don't want to forget it is possible, because maybe someday I will want to press a coin into a small hand and say that everything will be fine.

white noise

I saw "The Hitchiker's Guide to the Galaxy" today. Yes, it is old news to all of you who have moved on to Episode III. the theater was empty on a fine Tuesday afternoon. It was me, My Guy, and G. I have never had this experience before.

Usually just when I think I am going to have a whole theater to myself Some Dude comes in and sits down. And I am required to behave myself. But today I had the luxury of a private screening of a movie I enjoyed in the company of people I dig.
Sad to report, I did behave myself during this film. It was still a pleasure to put up my feet and laugh a lot.

I remember reading the book soooo many years ago and thinking that it was too clever, so smart ass. Bordering on precious which was part of its charm.

This movie made me happy to be alive. The film is gorgeous and silly and just a delight. I love the point of view gun. The moment in which Trillian (sp?) says "It won't work on me, I'm already a woman." Priceless.
I think it was too much for me, this happiness.

I have spent a lot of time in fight or flight mode. Waiting for bad things that take so long to happen that by the time they arrive I see that they are not only horrible and ugly but also horrible and mundane. Being yanked around by alarming things that I have no control over, by the actions of people I do not understand. Crying for a falling sky that never touches ground. The pessimist, the alarmist, the paranoid, the apocalyptic girl.

Sometimes I forget who is making the choices. I am making choices and by not making choices I am also making choices. I can allow others to speak on my behalf or I can speak for myself. I somehow lose sight of the fact things are not "just happening to me" that I am the actor in the story of my life and I have to take responsibility for what results.

Other times I lose sight of the fact that there are choices that are not mine to make. I have not walked the other's path and I have come by a different way. Hard as it might be, it is not for me to judge and not my call to make.

The distinction between the two should be obvious. Why is it so hard?
And why am I paralyzed so much of the time?

I am by trade an exaggerator. I deal in hyperbole, it is the language of my family. A big gesture to represent an impression of the thing that I cannot put my finger on in an articulate way. I take a hammer to a grape and try to peel it. In a land where the word is the sword, the word is the weapon of choice and precision is everything. I make a big grapey mess wherever I go. "And they all step away from me on the bench there."

Tuesday, May 24, 2005

The Mary Kay culture

E. is getting married in Wales in a few days. She won a glamour makeover from MaryKay and was allowed to bring guests if she wanted. So she had six of women come along for moral support, myself included. Some of the teens did not need makeup in any way and in fact the power and foundation detracted from their natural rosy glow.

It was held in a conference room at the Park Inn. There were 7 MaryKay ladies there and 30 women. The tables had little beauty stations with a mirror and a styrofoam palate on which your products to be tested were placed. And we all put our own makeup on with instruction from Jessica.

The makeup was not very glamorous. Very subtle and neutral, really. at least in my case. We spent most of our time giggling and goofing around. the instruction was pretty basic and at the end of it all I looked like me except tanner and a little more plastic. Their products for people of color have room for improvement.

The interesting part was the way the women talked about the company. Apparently there are three products for which sales and prices never drop: alcohol, cigarettes, and cosmetics. This making makeup and "beauty" the third topselling legal addictive substance. Scary. that's a lot of cream purchased for self-esteem. The woman stressed that it is not in selling product that you make your money, it is in the rotating reorders once a woman is hooked on a brand of cleanser or a color of eyeshadow. MaryKay creates economic opportunities for women but does so by preying on their fears and insecurities. It's pyramid scheme of beauty. One could argue that these feelings are inescapable in this world and at least this way women participate in a kind of profit sharing. (Yeah. that.)

This style of marketing and this brand of corporate culture has been around for a while. Tupperware is the classic example. There's a documentary about Tupperware that was shown on PBS, fascinating.

It has certainly been an economic opportunity for women historically and now internationally. Women are selling MaryKay in 48 countries internationally. I heard somewhere that MaryKay is developing a strong presence in Brazil.

They were not just there to sell you eyeshadow, they were there to sell you on the MaryKay way too. It's a fusion of entrepreneurial hustle and girl culture, economic empowerment and the feminine mystique.

The core principles of MaryKay: God first, family, then career. The products are sold along with ideas.

Feminism is not just for women who eat vegan and don't shave their legs. In fact maybe a MaryKay party is perfect place to have a conversation about what it means to be a woman and what our lives are like and what each of us wants for ourselves, our children and our world.

MaryKay is marketing through building networks and forging relationships. On a sociological level, I was fascinated. If I could stop chewing my nails and mocking everything I would seriously consider becoming a MaryKay lady, myself.
Look out world, I am gunning for a biodiesel fueled pink cadillac!

Monday, May 23, 2005

I keep starting to write these posts and getting bogged down in organizational bullshit.

So let me just say that the sun is shining and I am off to get a makeover. If you're good, maybe I will post pictures of the results.



Saturday, May 21, 2005


The beauty of spending time with assholes is that they are very clear about the things that they like and dislike. It is part of why people think that they are assholes. But it also makes it very easy to figure out how to deal with them. How to push their buttons and how to make them happy.

The problem with spending time with other people is that you want them to be happy but it's really hard to figure out how to do that. And you want to do what makes you happy but not if it will mean that the other person is not. The Greek Guy used to describe this as "spoiling your pleasure." You want to be happy but if it makes the other person unhappy that will spoil your pleasure in what you are doing.

Friday, May 20, 2005

Food for Thought

There's been a lot going on. Lots of organizational politics and life drama.

I am not a direct actor in the events unfolding. There is a scene from an episode of Buffy in which one character, Anya, accepts that she is going to be killed to pay for reversing a horrible act that she has committed. What happens instead is that her very close friend is killed in her stead. It is not the same situation or the same feeling but I saw that and it resonated with me.

My Guy points out the irony in the fact that it is not happening to me and yet I am so upset about it. This thing has been going on for 7 months. Since around last Thanksgiving.

A terrified horse will run and run and run but eventually it will tire itself out and be still. This horse however is tireless. It has reserves of strength and stamina that amaze me.

I went to the Media Reform Conference this past weekend sponsored by www.freepress.net. It was okay. I went to the wrong sessions, didn't get enough sleep, and had to dodge "friends". I understand that media is important, that having the ability to share ideas and information is vital but I am starting to wonder about the content itself.

One of Indymedia's slogans is "Become the Media." Extolling the virtues of citizen reporting. (a modern take on the ancient greeks and their citizen soldiers) The New York Times will report on things that their editors think are important, but you know what you think is important. You should get out there, see what is really happening, and tell the world. Tell your story.

For politics no question, Media is important for change or maintaining the status quo.

But I wonder if for people who want to make the world a better place whether it is more important to become the media by doing work that deserves public notice.
Media is observation. Media is reporting on the action of others.

Someone still has to do and keep doing the good work.

I was at a three hour meeting full of impassioned speeches and proposals and amendments and consensus building and facillitation. Over 25 people were there to talk and talk out of turn and attack each other and posture and make proposals and form committees and extoll the virtues of non-hierarchical approaches to decision-making. Great. Organizing is tough work, no?

It occurs to me today that if each of us had been calling potential donors for money in that room for three hours, with one $10 donation per person we would have raised $250. At $100 a person we would have $2500.

If each of us had walked someone home safely that's 25 people would have made it home without being attacked or assaulted that night.

If each of us in that room had written a letter to our congressman that would have been 25 letters that would have been counted as representing the opinions of 125-250 constituents.

If each us had written a form letter addressing a different political issue and printed 25 copies for the rest of us to sign, we could have sent out 125 letters to our congressmen on 25 different issues. What kind of impact would that have?

Anybody want to come over, split a few bottles of wine, and pen some letters?

Thursday, May 19, 2005

Life has been very grim of late.
I just wanted to say that and then go look for some rolaids.

Wednesday, May 11, 2005

with the right venue I could make such progress

You don't even know.

I took a break last night to see a two hour thing about the issue of media consolidation. Rep Saunders from VT, Naomi Klein, and Amy Goodman. It was long. Also thought-provoking. They are all very good speakers. Amy Goodman was the one who told me things that I didn't already know. The rest was rousing raise the troops kind of stuff. My Guy and I were among "friends" (said sarcastically) and friends (genuine). *sigh* And then it was back to my reality.

I worked at the Engineering Library until 7 this morning.
Sitting there through the night walking past sleeping figures on the floor, chairs and table brought back memories of a time when I used to do this all the time. When I was EE and we practically lived at the CS building.

Of course I was younger then, had more stamina and it used to be a lot more fun - I was working and chillin' with my friends.

But I am up and I am going to get coffee now.

Tuesday, May 10, 2005

the usual nonsense

I came home to find a plumber in my bathroom. Apparently the floor around the toilet bowl was rotted and water was leaking everywhere, including the downstairs neighbor's apartment. For every moment spent on the throne there was a chance that I would fall through the floor while doing my business. The mind reels! They have replace the floor around the toilet and need to get in to do the same for the floor around the tub. I am afraid of my shower. *!*

The plumber and my landlord both thought that Kitty was the greatest.


Today, My Guy intimated to me in the car that I seem to want to hit pedestrians. I waved this off and replied snappishly, but as I drove up on the curb to pass a very slow cadillac hesitant to merge left, I realized that I drive like a jackass. Everyone thinks that they have good taste, a sense of humor, and they are good drivers. Ah, the pain of new-found self-knowledge.


The right strap of my backpack broke. It came crashing down with my laptop in it. So far things are still working. *whew* As a righty I keep picking it up by the bad strap and then have to transfer it to my other shoulder. It's a process.


Yesterday my advisor looked at me after a brief conference and said: "I finally get the impression that you want leave here." And so I went on to drop links into this blog and try to come down from four day my caffeine-orama.

Mmmmm... Coffee....

Monday, May 09, 2005

Antidote to Cynicism

What's so amazing that keeps us star gazing
and what do we think we might see?
Someday we'll find it, the rainbow connection.
The lovers, the dreamers and me.

Happy Birthday Kermit!

random chattery

Last night My Guy came downstairs hugging two pillows and a book about refugee populations and proceeded to "read" on the couch while I wrote at the chess table. Reading looked an awful lot like having your head on one pillow while shielding your eyes from the light with the other in a pillow sandwich. It was excessively cute.

What with the excessive caffeine consumption and all the fans and air conditioners kicking in with the warm weather *yes finally!* I am very itchy and dry. There are serious acts of moisturization in my future.

Dear Prime Time,
Putting the processed orange cheese :Velveeta, American cheese, orange plastic on a calzone is a crime against pizza!

'Course My Guy spent hard earned future cash on it, and I'm starving ...so I am eating it. Just this once. A crime nonetheless.

cross posted lyrics

Love My Dog

You don't like my dog cause he got fleas,
he's really shy and often smelly.
You're tellin' me it's an either or situation.
Now,Baby, I hear you. I get what you mean.
But me and this dog, Lord, the things that we've seen.
If you love me, you got to love my dog

He gets me up at the break of light.
Keeps me warm on the coldest nights.
We like our bread and we like our brie.
We sprawl on the sofa and watch TV.
I scratch his head while he leans on me.
If you love me, you got to love my dog.

We don't always laugh at the same jokes.
He don't care how many cigarettes I smoke.
He eats me out of house and home.
Well, you can speak your mind, that's your perogative
but he's a real smart dog and kinda sensitive.
If you love me, you got to love my dog

Yes, he chewed your shoe and pissed in the hall
but he's a real good listener with a sympathetic paw
I'm asking you not to give an ultimatum
'Cause I think of the hard times this dog has got me thru
and he could help me get over you
If you love me, you got to love my dog.

"It's no surprise to me, I am my own worst enemy."

I am chronically and severely disorganized. Woefully and malignantly disorganized. A look at any space I inhabit including the desktop of my computer says it all. The brain's not much better. I am starting to wonder if it is a kind of brain damage. Surely it results from the countless times that I have bashed my head against this car door, that wall (throwing back my head to laugh, of course), and crashing into so and so's forehead when I misjudge the distance coming in for a kiss too quickly...

It's horrific the amount of time I have burned up doing the same thing over and over again. I have written and re-written the same section over and over again realizing, too late that I am retreading what I "accomplished" the day before. Writing the same outline yet again. Cataloguing the same data files over and over as if this next time there will be something actually new and interesting about it that justifies my existence and the last nine years of my life. Afraid to even look at it. Looking up in exhaustion to see that I have spun my wheels yet another day without making any visible progress.

As a periodic self-help junkie, I have read books on time management, making time for your life, effectiveness, and procrastination. They say (THEY) that the things that you do in life can be divided by the 80-20 rule. It goes something like this: only 20% of everything that you think you have to do, really needs to get done. If you can figure out what's in that 20% and get it done you'll get like 80% of the satisfaction of accomplishment and you'll be moving forward towards whatever it is that your little heart desires. And vice versa the other 80%, not so important. You can do it but it won't do that much for you or make you feel that great. It's matter of recognizing and acting on your true priorities.

One thing to know and understand this, quite another to do it.

There is the fear naturally. Which I can discuss endlessly. Another post, perhaps. =) And there is the greed. I want it all and right now. Every moment and decision is a experience of the tension of opposites, of wanting things that are equally desirable yet mutually exclusive. The appeal of the potential of a thing, an opportunity - I find to be intoxicating. And I spazz in all directions or sit, paralyzed. Either way, the same immobility.

Oh,and the whole short attention span thing? Reflected even in my impulse to throw an undercurrent of nested parenthetical remarks into this post (Reinforced by reading all those stuff-as-many-connected-and-tangentially-related-facts-into-one-endless-subordinate-clause-ladden-breathelss-sentence scientific papers {I used to diagram Ben Lewin's sentences in Genes IV just to try to find the verb of the main clause.} makes me wonder if I am going to be able to get this damn thing done.

I wanted to liken my brain to a car trip with driver whose foot is on the gas or the brake at all times. The discontinuousness makes your neck hurt and your stomach churm. ( Don't you hate drivers like that?!) But it is my head and on reflection, it all makes sense to me and maybe only to me, no queasiness or neck pain. Just stress guilt frustration and shame.). I vacillate between abject panic, deep concentration, and suffocating boredom.

There's references to look up and images to analyze. And those Frostian miles on a snowy road.




Friday, May 06, 2005

I have never read Saul Bellow

This is an exerpt from a letter he wrote to Philip Roth

"I had an Uncle Willie Bellow, in Brownsville, [...] He was a very very feeling, cheerful, generous humorist, without much power of self-expression."

This description makes me like his Uncle immensely and for that I like Saul Bellow too.


I started this song a while ago but the lyrics just came together a few days ago.

Identity Thief

I want your life
I want your girlfriend
I want those shoes
and your convictions

what's mine is mine
What's yours is also mine
You back away
and we'll be fine

I want your clothes
I want your hairdo
and all the teams,
that you belong to

I'll keep what I have
and take what you have
you go start over
it won't be that bad.

I want your car
I want your stories
I want your friends
and all your memories

*key change*
I want your house
I want your history
I want your Mom
to just adore me.

I'm makin' lots of friends
thanks to you
now I need a personality
- yours will do

I want your style
and your positions
I want your jokes
and your opinions

What mine is mine
What's yours is also mine
Just back away
and we'll be fine

in place of 5,000 words

I inherited a low-res digital camera from JR when he left town. I mostly take pictures of cats:



and my feet.


Over New Years I got to go here:

And while driving I took this:

Most of the "while driving" pictures turned out distorted and weird or just boring and ugly. With the added benefit of me almost driving into a ditch trying to get a picture of a hawk in on a milemarker. It's best done as a two person photo safari.

'though the other day to see a guy across from me at the intersection taking pictures from the driver's seat. I am not alone!

Thursday, May 05, 2005

the question of freedom

This is a groovy quote I lifted from Mittens' livejournal, whose journal title you have to love:


One of the purposes of the ascetical life is freedom. Freedom to do what you really want. And what do you really want? To be able to love without impediment! To be free to do what in the depths of your heart you really want to. To be free to love what is important, what is worthy of our freedom as sons and daughters of God. To be free from compulsions. To be free in the realm of imagination, which is very important. To be free from threatening images, people disagreeing with you. To be free from heedlessness, to be attentive to reality and fully awake to what we are doing. To be free to be at the disposal of reality, of others, of God. To be free to be able to be moved by the love of God. To be free from being overly sensitive, which is a danger in this life. This is not just being hard-boiled. We are free to be real or not....The really question is not 'Am I happy?' but 'Am I free?' --Thomas Merton

Even taking out the God stuff, it strikes a rich chord.

Love is a lot of things. And freedom is too.
Sometimes you need to be freed. Sometimes you are the only one who can free yourself.

Wanted: new brain

I thought I had scheduled my defense date for May 25th. Yay!

Turns out, I only did it in the alternate universe of my mind !

One of my committee members can't do that date and I am now in a mad scramble for the 26th or the 27th. *slaps forehead* If not I don't know what is going to happen. Perhaps they kick me out sans degree. AW, the departmental secretary just laughs at me and tells me to roll with it.

My brain is damaged. I am so preoccupied. I thought it was only exhibiting itself in my hygeine practices. Fear not, I am still managining the soap and hot water thing and the deoderant thing. Although gentle reader, I supposed it wouldn't matter to you, as you can't smell me from where you are ... or can you? Of late I step out of the shower to find that I have only shaved one leg or one armpit or the bottom half of one leg and the top half of the other.

It is coming down to the deadline and my thesis still looks like a bunch of random chicken scratch. But strangely, I am having fun with it, at long last.

and yes, today I am italic-happy. What can I say, I love spaghetti and meatballs as much as the next gal.


(The title of this blog should be changed to "you can't smell me from where you are" )

Off to further my self-mortification.

Wednesday, May 04, 2005

hate to admit it ...

In the off moment when my mind wandered away from Dad (short attention span - hello.) ...
Putting physical distance between me and Urbanana: all the tension and drama, the waiting, the uncertainty, the thesis and everything else that being there embroils me in ... felt great!

I swung from the Dad situation to feeling giddy and then back again.

Of course, driving without your CD collections puts you at the mercy of the radio.

There's lots of christian talk stations to dodge and lots of country stations.

I gotta admit, that single by Kelly Clarkson, "Since U Been Gone" is a pretty nice track. It has that clear and simple opening like a confessional indie rock tune and then goes all diva cresendo. She gets to from Liz to Avril to Cher in under 20 seconds. And, it's great how she can "Yeah, yeah" with conviction.

Martin Sandberg and Lukasz Gottwald, y'all did a lovely job.

near losses

Mom called me two days ago to tell me that Dad was in the hospital and that I should give him a call.

I called and found out that he has a heart irregularity that causes bloodclots and the doctor is worried that this will cause a serious stroke. One of them got stuck somewhere in his brain and he lost half of his field of vision. Mom took him to the hospital where she proceeded to yell at the entire staff of the ER. If you knew my Mom you'd know how out of character that is. They gave him a CAT scan, ran a few tests and gave him something to lower his cholesterol. He started to feel better and his eyesight started to improve.

And then last Saturday at 3am, he couldn't feel his face and my mom took him to the hospital. They did a crapload of tests and decided against heart surgery. Instead they are giving him blood thinners and anti-clotting meds (B will have to tell me if they are the same thing) and observed him for four days. My mother didn't tell me until Monday because my father didn't want me to worry.

My Guy convinced me to drive down saying, "I don't know what kind of relationship you have with your father, but if it was my father I'd drive down and I don't even like my father." An excellent point.

Dad was released the next day and upon seeing me said, "What are you doing here? Go finish writing your thesis!"
Which is what I thought he would say. He can see and read although his peripheral vision is impaired. And he joked about how disappointed he was that the doctor told him that he was not allowed to take up rollerblading now.

He was released on my parents 40th wedding anniversary. We ended up running into friends of theirs who are expecting a baby who were at the hospital for an ultrasound. The five of us went to lunch and then for coffee.

It's a case of good bad luck. I see a lot of that in my life. It's scary. He could have died. But he's fine. He can't eat grapefruit or spinach and he can't travel overseas or rollerblade. He has to see the doctor every two days and get a device to monitor his blood but the doctor said that with care and attention, he could live a long time this way.

I have watched my parents get older and frailer and, well, weirder. But they are as funny, smart, adventurous and vibrant as ever. They are the most interesting, beautiful, and big hearted people that I know and I cannot imagine a world without them. I know it is an eventuality, but I want it to be a distant one.

Sunday, May 01, 2005

two day wrap up

It is a lazy Sunday. The sun is shining and I slept in. My still sleepy head rattles with vague recollections of the weekend: a contrast between what I intended to do and what I actually did.

On the Rocks was mixed bag but mostly refreshing and fun. Three student written, directed, acted and produced one-act plays. Two comedies and one drama. The drama was terrible. Very stilted with two very good actors and five really not so good ones.

My favorite was a play about building a time machine - very funny. The actors played it very stylized like you often see the Oscar Wilde play "The Importance of Being Earnest" or reminiscent of Reese Witherspoon's performance in "Legally Blonde." Everybody was hamming it up and mugging like mad. The physicality of the performances was a greater part of the fun.

Yesterday for the better part of the AM, I was emotional and operatic - a state not conducive to being productive. I passed the day in mental acts of self-torture. Making assumptions, predicting the future, having expectations, trying to read minds, over interpreting small things, projecting, over interpretion, ascribing motives, not communicating these are all detrimental practices in relating to other human beings. And I like to think that I am past these pitfalls but I fall back into them. JD was a saint to deal with me in my sorry soggy state.

Then I called My Guy and we met up and ironed things out a little. Between cigarettes (for him, I don't really smoke) and episodes of Buffy season 7. While I braided tiny bits of his hair. With this simple hair modification he has gone from looking clean cut and serious to looking like a hippie surfer.

I have a friend who is doing the on-line dating gig. She's getting to be quite the virtual "It" girl. I experience this vicariously and try to encourage her to cast her nets exponentially wider. After all, to some extent dating is a question of volume. Meeting someone who is a good fit, the right fit may boil down to meeting a lot of people who are not to get to the one who is. The Kiss a lot of Frogs approach.

This, in apposition to my approach which is find one and run with it until you hit a wall. Break up and repeat with someone new.

The Zombie movie marathon was postponed to Sunday which left us at loose ends for the evening. We thought that a change in venue would help him work on his presentation and me work on my thesis but it did not. We were ultimately lame watching SNL and playing computer games. It was good for me. I can't speak for him. Hilary Swank was the host and did a hilarious skit about a talk show where everyone has had Botox. Everyone's facial expresions are frozen while they speak emphatically and tell you how they are feeling because their faces won't reflect it. High-larious.

"Oh, Procrastination accept my humble offering of a lowly boring post about my day and shelter me in your pillowy arms. And do not send me out to perform the deeds which plague and hound me." =P something like that.

I did however slog through an article suggesting that pioneer neurons play a significant role in the pathfinding of follower growth cones. So this argues that fasciculation with pioneers is the greater part of navigation. I wonder though if this interpretation is limited by the narrowness of the analysis. Patched could be affecting factors that have not been tested or observed in this paper.

The important question here is : does blogger have cut-tags? And how do I use them?

Children of the War in Darfur

My Guy is professionally concerned with issues of human rights. He showed me this last night:

children's drawings

Human Rights researchers gave paper and crayons to kids from Darfur to occupy them while their parents were being interviewed. You expect kids to draw pictures of their home and their family, the pets, spaghetti birds, cotton candy trees, not helicopters and men with guns taking women away. Hurts my heart.