Wednesday, May 30, 2007

things swallowed whole

There was a knot in my throat from the moment I woke up.
And although I could swallow and I could breathe and speak, it felt like I was choking.

What if it was due to a state of mind?

I walked up and down the corridor. Which didn't help.
I stepped outside. Also didn't help.
I walked. Also didn't help.
I listened to my favorite songs. Also didn't help.
I spoke with friends. Which helped a little.

I sat under my desk, pulled in the chair, and listened to Bjork.

Which didn't actually help. But I am thinking of putting a lava lamp, beaded curtain and a bean bag chair down there.

I went to yoga and that helped. During the practice and for an hour or two afterwards I could breathe.

But now I feel a little constricted again.

Does that ever happen to you?

I am wondering if it's not a state of mind but rather a state of body. Maybe I ate something disagreeable today and I have heartburn or acid reflux. The roast beast sandwich was the wrong choice. Or perhaps there were peanuts or chickpeas hidden in my snacks or lunch today. I don't know.

Clearly, I am reacting to something.
Clearly, I need to get something out of my system.

The question is what?

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

constant companion

If the state of my bedroom is any indication you would think that Chaos is the Goddess who watches over me. My patron, my constant companion making sure to lend a hand in every endeavor that I undertake.

On one hand, it's nice to know that I don't walk through this life alone.

On the other, it makes it really hard to work.

She watches me knowing that my inherent chaotic nature will manifest itself despite my ever effort to the contrary. And in these oh so frequent situations, I hear her laughing and feel her pointing. Especially in situations that are no laughing matter at least to those who write my checks.


Monday, May 28, 2007

"This guy is so accidentally cool!"

Just saw "Happy Feet." Very cute.

Penguins have such short stubby legs, I would never imagine them tap dancing. (Or singing for that matter.) The sight of them animated and dancing up a storm is hilarious.

And the Amigos are the best. Without them this movie would have been too cheesey by far. With them the mix balances out much more nicely.

Sunday, May 27, 2007

Fast Food Nation

Fast Food Nation is the movie by Richard Linklater based on the book by Eric Shlosser about how nasty, evil and corrosive Fast food is to our lives, our health, our economy, and our communities.

The movie follows the storylines of people who are in or affected by the fast food industry.

It has that documentary/slice of life style reminiscent of Robert Altman's "Short Cuts." You can't help but feel like something is on the verge of happening - something big and perhaps very tragic - that these worlds will collide . Of course they don't. In the way that they are interconnected there is no reason to suppose that they would except through some artificial dramatic device inserted specifically for that purpose. No in this movie each story plays out in its own way and from the very short time that we spend with these characters, we get a sense for how nasty, damaging, and corrosive Fast food is to our lives, our health, our economy, and our communities.

The footage at the end of cows getting slaughtered and processed is really disturbing. The working conditions at the meat packing plant as depicted in the movie are also really disturbing.

Meatpacking is incredibly dangerous work yet pays 24% less than an average factory job in America. Those in charge do what they can to keep it that way. Increases in wages, better work conditions would effect their profit margins. We, Americans, spend $134 billion a year on fast food. It's big business. Really big business.

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

when I'm stuck with a day that's gray and gloomy

I'm not gonna lie. I've been kind of blue.

Not that you care. Not that anyone cares. Not that you should. My blues are the trivial stupid kind. The mostly self-invented kind. The I am going to die alone in a rickety old house abandoned and forgotten by even my 20 cats kind of blue. Ok, you have a point - more like the die alone in a rickety old house an abandoned skeleton after my 20 cats make a meal of me.

Admittedly my blues are kind of periwinkle in color. Especially compared to very sad and painful news happening to people I know and care about all around me. But I would say that they do not have the blues. They have actual pain and loss and grief and tragedy on their hands. Stuff that is several orders of magnitude beyond the blues.

And if you are going to tell me that I am being a moronic spoiled overly sensitive petty bourgeois fool I advise you to stop reading and take that superior mentally healthy shit back to your own damn blog and leave me alone. Right now. Here at Things to Do I am the only one who will be belittling my own feelings today.

Yeah. Kind of blue. Riding that downward spiral. Floating back up a little, sinking down and bobbing about.

This kind of blue is where I take time to sit under my desk and wallow. Where I want very much to mope and I spend a lot of time holding my head in my hands. And in the midst of this I realize that, in fact, I have grown a little. The people around me can't know how far I've come. This is not as blue or as bad as I have been in the past but I have not grown nearly as much as I thought I had. Which is a little disheartening.

Still I have gotten to work on time and gotten through the day mostly with my game face on. It slips sometimes but it's serviceable. The goal is to be functional and to not spread my gloom and misery like some kind of communicable disease - to hold myself back from raining on the parades of others even though misery does like a little company.

I wake in the morning and have almost entire songs written that I promptly forget on hitting the snooze bar. I am left with the afterglow of a rhyme scheme.

And in the midst of it I do have a conflicting and competing desire to not be mope-y

In an effort to get into a better mood you can exaggerate your misery to epic proportions to your friends complete with scenarios of high ridiculousness.

You can call friends that have problems bigger than yours and offer a sympathetic shoulder.

You can call friends that you know will not be sympathetic and force yourself to discuss other things with them.

You can write emails to everyone you know that you never send.

You can write blog entries that you never post.

You can write journal entries that get erased or will remain forever private.

You can face, accept, and embrace the utter ridiculousness of you, the reality of your true self in comparison to that cherished idealized version that you wish you were. Warts and all.

You can take yourself for a walk.

You can take yourself out to lunch.

You can walk into a room where they are playing a song you really like:

"Girl put your records on, play me your favorite song
You go ahead, let your hair down.
Sapphire and faded jeans, I hope you get your dream
You go ahead, let your hair down.

You're gonna find yourself somewhere, somehow"

-Corinne Baily Rae

You can wear a shirt that makes you feel skinny and busty, maybe even a little pretty.

You can wear shoes that make your strides feel longer and listen to the songs that make you feel stronger.

You can plan to get your haircut.

You can go to a lecture series and hear Alice Walker and Gloria Steinem and Wilma Mankiller rap about life. Inspirational women who have done some really unusual and extraordinary things with their lives.

You can allow your friends to take you to a gay bar where they play nothing but broadway showtunes and project the scenes onto big screen TV's.

You can get really drunk and belt out epically extreme and emotionally overblown totally out of proportion to real life cheesy songs like they are "the sound of your soul" complete with diva arm gestures and elaborate dance routines and ask yourself why in the hell you haven't seen "Wicked" yet? (But only if you are the sort who likes Showtunes.) While the gay man in your group, your cruise director for the evening, warns the other bar goers that despite what they might think, you are not a tranny, that you are a real live woman, like, with a vagina.

You can show up to work the next day more than a little sick.

Just sitting here bitching and moaning about this to you, I feel my blues drying up a bit more. I know that it is like the passing of a storm. And only a matter of time.

But to the matter of those I know in actually pain. I don't know why but I am recalling a poem by Louise Gluck. Make that Two Poems.


The Wild Iris

At the end of my suffering
there was a door.

Hear me out: that which you call death
I remember.

Overhead, noises, branches of the pine shifting.
Then nothing. The weak sun
flickered over the dry surface.

It is terrible to survive
as consciousness
buried in the dark earth.

then it was over: that which you fear, being
a soul and unable
to speak, ending abruptly, the stiff earth
bending a little. And what I took to be
birds darting in low shrubs.

you who do not remember
passage from the other world
I tell you I could speak again: whatever
returns from oblivion returns
to find a voice:

from the center of my life came
a great fountain, deep blue
shadows on azure seawater.


Do you know what I was, how I lived? You know
what despair is; then
winter should have meaning for you

I did not expect to survive,
earth suppressing me. I didn't expect
to waken again to feel
in damp earth my body
able to respond again, remembering
after so long how to open again
in the cold light
of earliest spring-

afraid, yes, but among you again
crying yes risk joy

in the raw wind of the new world.


LJL tells me that I am too hard on myself. Perhaps that is true. It does occur to me that my periwinkle blues might be fed by internal demons.

I agree with Alice Walker that it's okay to sit with your pain or your sadness. In fact, it's probably a good idea to do a little bit of sitting.

That being said - the key is to sit with your sadness and not beat yourself up about it to feel worse. Be where you are don't spiral yourself down further and further.

I am sorry that you suffer. It is horrible. It is not fair. It is wrong. There are no words.

In this time, be kind to yourself. It is terrible to suffer as consciousness buried underground. But you and I both know (small comfort though it might be) that at the end of your suffering, there is a door.

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

in the presence of that talented bastard

To make it up to me for not getting to see Arcade Fire, The South found me a show to see.

The RM, The Can, The South and I went to see That Talented Bastard Ben Gibbard when he came to town for a solo show. He was here with Johnathan Rice and David Bazan.

Johnathan Rice was okay. The last song he played was kind of brilliant actually. And he got us all to sing along about how We were all stuck out in the desert and we're gonna die - wipe that salt and sand from your blistering eyes. The rest of his set was so so.

David Bazan plays guitar with rock solid rhythm. His voice is curious but appealing and he sings songs with titles like "shit talk" or a song written to a music critic called "Selling Advertising." Suffice it to say that I am madly in love with him and so disappointed that he is married.

That Talented Bastard Ben Gibbard then took the stage and did his thing. It was pretty amazing. Mind you, I don't know that much of his oeuvre. I am one of the unwashed. I have the Postal Service album. It's a great record. I probably should put it on my list of great albums and the songs stand up to acousticization. But I don't know his solo work and I don't know that many (if any) Death Cab for Cutie songs. It was a pretty decent introduction. That Talented Bastard is a very articulate singer. The beauty of an articulate singer is that you don't have to know the song to hear the lyrics.

(Lyle Lovett is an articulate singer. MomVee is an articulate singer. Now that
I have - for the most part - stopped trying to channel R&B and soul divas, I aspire to be an articulate singer too.)

The words sung cleanly and clearly and with such melancholy. Every once in a while I would cover my mouth with my hand in surprise at a turn of phrase or an image. At other points I would gasp and squeeze some appendage belonging to the South in utter amazement. Talented Bastard

There was one letdown. He did a cover of "All Apologies" on the piano. He can barely play piano. It was just wrong. It was a crime against Nirvana. I'm not saying that a cover must be true to the original. I'm not saying that a cover must be expressed in the spirit of the original. But it was just so impossibly earnest - no edge. It was gross.

One misstep for a Talented Bastard. Only one.

At some point during the show my mind wandered ever so slightly to the documentary "We Jam Econo" about the Minutemen. There's this show that they played where the crowd spit on them. They were covered in spit and loogies. And they kept playing. The spit flew into their mouths when they were singing. And they kept playing. They broke strings. In the end D. Boone and Mike Watt were playing on maybe two strings a piece but they went right on through.

And sitting there in the Town Hall theater, I wondered what Ben Gibbard would do if that happened to him. Would he keep playing? I don't know. I think he might.

I'm pretty sure that The South - provided he had a little liquor in him would spit back and keep playing. I'm pretty sure that EH would as well.

Would I keep playing? I'd like to think that I would but probably not. I am more likely to run from the stage in tears.

Most of the time it doesn't happen but any night that you get up there it could.

Whether the house is full or empty - they might boo. They might spit and throw things at you. They might mock you or ignore you or they might turn around and leave you. They might come up and hug you or try to tear off your clothes or your face. They might tear the mic away from you and do their own thing.

You just don't know. On any given night, it could happen.

On this night it didn't. Such a Talented Bastard, New York wouldn't dare!

Sunday, May 13, 2007

where does science fall in all of this?

"There are only two industries. This has always been true," [...] "There is the industry of things, and the industry of entertainment. The industry of things comes first. It keeps us alive. But making things is easy now that we have the Feed. This is not a very interesting business anymore.
"After people have the things they need to live, everything else is entertainment. Everything. This is Madame Ping's business."

-Neal Stephenson "The Diamond Age"

You may or may not agree with this proposition. But if you do agree with it, what happens when creating entertainment becomes easy as well?

Monday, May 07, 2007

late night overdue rental

I just saw "Mutual Appreciation." It's not my life but it's just so familiar.

I've been on dates with a couple of these guys recently.
Reminds me of one of my past boyfriends.

The awkwardness and the lostness. The drifty weird difficultness, the utter inability to communicate to articulate, to make contact, but having a hyper-awareness of the emotion, the intention, the desire sitting right under the surface. right under the surface, so close in proximity - yet completely remote.