Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Photos from out and about

Because my brain is broken, here are some photos from when I was out and about a few weeks ago. Wheeee!





Thursday, November 6, 2008

I wish I wrote this

http://www.salon.com/mwt/feature/2008/11/07/havrilesky/index.html

Friday, October 31, 2008

Happy Halloween!

Where I work, we take Halloween seriously. Departments dress up, decorate, and always try to outdo one another. The café always decorates – there’s a Jack the Ripper looking guy in one corner, and in another a zombified scarecrow; there are jack-o-lanterns, black cats, cobwebs, and flickering lights on the salad bar, over the grill, and at other random places. People bring in their kids for office trick-or-treating. It’s a fun way to break away from the suit-and-tie environment that we have the other days of the year. (Granted, with the way the economy and mortgage arenas are tanking, the enthusiasm for All Hallows this year at work has waned.)

I just went downstairs to grab some coffee. (Mmmmmmmm. Cinnamon coffee = heaven in a cup!) While down there, I saw a little girl (maybe 3 years old?) dressed as Bam-Bam. Not Pebbles. Bam-Bam. She’s here with her dad and spreading her cuteness around like SARS. With a serious and intent look on her face, she runs over to the scarecrow zombie and threatens him with her caveman club, waving it at him so very fiercely. Then she runs back and stands in front of her fathers legs, like his wee protector, and at the same time gathering safety from him, glaring all the while at the life-sized doll who is threatening her territory.

The two times she safeguards us from the evil zombie scarecrow (she’s not to be trifled with, don’t let her 3’ frame fool you into underestimation!) she does so entirely silent. There is none of the typical toddler “hi-ya!” yells – only deadly, deadly silence. Forget the Marines or the Seals. If I ever need a defender, I’m calling Bam-Bam.

I think my ovaries just jumped out and bit me in the ass.

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Stuck between the bars

This happened to me.

No.

Seriously.

I shit you not.


cat
more animals


It was shortly after Mom died, and Dad and I were out eating at some restaurant in the mall. (At that time it was the “high-class” mall. Close to 30 years later, it’s now the ghetto mall.) The 80's-tastic kind that had the pseudo-wrought iron bars that separated the moneyed masses (who could afford a sit-down restaurant) from the roving teenagers (who were relegated to finding sustenance at Orange Julius). The fact that I considered a restaurant in the mall as the epitome of haute cuisine, I won’t get into now. (Though they DID have the red and white checkered plastic tablecloths, complete with red-glass candle holders. Tres-chic. That’s me, class all the way.)

Anyway, Dad wasn't paying attention to me for a second, so I took my chance, and the bars looked big enough for my head to fit through. (What can I say? Apparently I was having a Laugh-In moment. I loved that damn show.)



The flashes of memory that I have of that time usually contain some sort of restaurant – I guess Dad didn’t want to cook much. Can’t blame the guy. Lord knows I wouldn’t want to cook, or try to referee a 5 year old.

I remember one time (at band camp), wanting to be a “big girl”, big enough to go to the restroom “aw by myself”, but then after traversing the tribulations of finding a non-icky toilet, one that didn’t smell like mold, hermetically sealing the toilet, then maneuvering my short-ass self onto the toilet, I find myself screaming for help, because I was too small to open the floor-to-ceiling stall door by myself. For hours I tried to wrench open that door (though it was probably more like 45 seconds) just so I could prove that I could do it on my own. I think it was at a Coco’s. Dad had to come in and open the door for me. I felt like an ass.

There are many instances of me doing something dumb in public, in a restaurant. Oh hell, I still do that to this day. (If you’ve eaten out with me, or just have seen me eat, you know this. It’s one of the reason’s I steer away from light coloured tops. And I always ask for extra napkins. Shit, I really should have my own travel-bib.)

Back on point – I *thought* my head was big enough to fit through those bars. And it was. Reversing my head, and ears, back out through the bars though? A bit trickier. Apparently ears easily bend one way, but not the other. I was able to get out (as evidenced by me typing this to you now from my bedroom, and not from that same booth in the restaurant), but it was only because the waitress (and Dad) buttered up my neck, head, and ears with butter (shit you not, they buttered my head with those single-serving pats) in order to pull my head-strong self out of those bars.

Did I learn my lesson? Not really. Sometime within the next year, I did the same thing. Except this time I wasn’t publicly humiliated.

Friends of the family lived in a two-story apartment, which had the metal-latticed staircase frame. Their kid, who was the same age I was, and I were playing. He wanted to play cops and robbers – where he was the cop, I was the robber – and wanted to handcuff me to the frame work. Before he could, though, I did THE SAME DAMN THING. This time though, I realized my ears wouldn’t break if I just held my breath, pulled back quickly, and bit down my tears. There was no way I was going to let my head get greased up again. The back of my ears were a bit tender for a while, but nobody else (except for Cristian) knew of my humiliation. Well, until now at any rate.

To this day, I have this overwhelming urge to stick my head through railings. Weird? Very. Yet, I still succumb to that stupid temptation of, “hey, it looks like I can fit my noggin’ through there …” Just a few years ago, I found myself sticking my head through the second-story railing of the apartment complex I lived in. The view was superb.

I guess I like to look at the world from different angles, with a heavy metal safety guard. Then, as now, I just … I just want to run, fly kites, wrestle, jump, and play. You really can’t do that when your head is shoved up your ass. Or stuck between bars.

I’m coming home. No … I AM home.

Anyone have any butter?

http://ca.youtube.com/watch?v=7FeIu_pf-_E

Monday, September 15, 2008

Take me out ... tonight ...

Apparently I'm on a Smiths kick. Embracing my old goth/punk/new wave days. (Yeah, yeah, yeah, I DID listen to hair metal. It was great escape. Still is. But The Smiths? Joy Division? *swoon*)

We find succor in our past, no?

The last few years have been a learning experience, with a steep fucking curve. Would I have it any other way? Some parts yes. But overall?

Hmmm. May I get back to you on that?

No?

Alright then. (Ya bastard inquisitor! I shall call you Torquemada ... )

Would I? No, I wouldn't. Our parts create the sum, no? I'm finding that my sum is just fine. Now. It's always growing, changing, and morphing. It's a little twisted, a little chipped, but overall ... I like my total. My end product. It's not perfect, but it is mine.

Have I made mistakes, messed up, and fucked up? Of course.

Haven't you?

"Let he who is without sin cast the first stone" and all that.

***

Growing up I always felt I should be seen, and not heard. Some of that concept was spoken and unspoken, explicit and implicit. Either way, I took both views to heart. Only after I lived 30 years was it that I realized that maybe, just maybe, I could be heard as well, and that I wouldn't disappear because of it. Or stop being loved over it.

That being seen AND heard wasn't a venial sin. (Just a mortal one.) That maybe my former teachers weren't blowing sunshine up my ass, and that possibly, maybe, my words (and how I strung them together) had some value.

I don't want to preach. I don't want to be an example. I don't want to DO anything, really. I just want to be. To exist. Yes, there are a lot of dark abysses that I harbor and embrace. There are also a lot of bright pockets of light. (That whole parts=sum thang.) When I write to the 'nets at large, I don't want to be read as a harpy. Or as a know-it-all. Or to be viewed as needy, or over-opinionated. I just want to be read. To be understood. Not to be seen as though I'm standing on a soapbox. Just ... to be ...

Isn't that what we all want, deep down? That to know, in the cacophony of life, our voice stands out? Is felt? Is heard?

***

The other night, I dreamt I was skiing. Fighting moguls, a triple diamond course. And it felt good. Invigorating. Scary, yet life-affirming. There are so many things that could go wrong while having two thin boards strapped to your feet: falling off a cliff, impaling yourself with a pole, or breaking some bystanders nose (yeah, the nose thing is a true story. To that unknown woman, I'm truly, deeply sorry.)

Skiing was something I loved as a child, as a kid, as a teenager. Honestly, it's something I still love. (I just haven't done it in a dog's age.) I woke up ... longing, and semi-sad. But I also awoke joyful. An odd juxtaposition, that.

I was curious, so I looked up what skiing is supposed to mean in the land of dream-speak. What the dream-dictionary said was, "To dream that you are skiing, suggests that you are pushing yourself and putting your mental and/or physical ability to the test. You are your own fiercest competitor."

Hmmm. Oddly, that's true. Very. On so many different levels. (And it sure as hell beats the "transvestive pooping outside of my bathroom stall" dream of a few months ago.)

And you know what? I'm over being seen. I want to be heard; I guess that's why I'm trying to write more, and put it out to the world at large.

(Those of you who know me I say, "Fine! Put me in a room with people I don't know, and I'll still be the person standing in the corner bogarting the buffet. Being in the center of action, the life of the party, will never be me. Baby steps people. Baby steps. Now pass some more of that shrimp cocktail my way!")

***

Shyness CAN stop you ... from doing all the things you'd like to. Lord knows it stopped me. Still does, at times. But I am finding out this ...

... I AM woman.

Hear me write.

***

(Thanks Ms. Bug. I read this years ago, but re-read it again tonight, and it made me think. Again. http://people.tribe.net/queen_of_pumpkins/blog/820dcb0e-4008-4695-80a9-98076fe7f97e)

Friday, August 29, 2008

Poop! I smellz it (or like it)

Dogs - 0

Cats - 0

Me - 4

Yes. Tonight was bath night. Dog 1 meekly, delicately, stepped into the tub. (Okay, it was after about 5 minutes of me saying, "yes, you're a good girl. A vewwy vewwy good girl! Aw, who's my good girl? Yes! You! You're my good girl!") The entire time she was giving me those eyes. THOSE eyes. Those eyes that said, "But, but, but ... I'm a good girl. For why am I being punished? Do you not love me anymore?"

Dog 2 fought. He growled. He gave his all. He splayed his legs against the edge of the tub, in a hopeful stance of, "If she can't get me in, I can continue to revel in my poopiness." Time and time again, this hasn't held true. And it didn't hold true tonight. I picked his 60 pound ass up and dumped him (gently) into the tub. After that, he was docile. (Granted, he still shot me glances of, "You know, I COULD eat your face if I wanted to". This was in direct opposition of his look of rapture when I was scrubbing that one spot. You know, the one just above the tail? Yeah, he has a love/hate with bath night.)

The cats are easier to manhandle. Just grab 'em by the scruff of the neck and hold 'em. One will willingly get into the water, but doesn't want to remain. The other will fight before he touches water. But once he's in there, he'll walk back and forth, caught between his genetic history of "water = bad!" and the fact that he thinks it's kind of neat.

At any rate, I have 4 clean animals (their smell? Much improved!), and one very dirty me. The combo of sweat, wet dog, dog slobber, and flea shampoo does not a "stink-pretty" make.

It just makes a stink.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Snapshot of my 'hood

I live in the land of milk, honey, and boob jobs. Where every sentence ends with an up lilt, as though everyone is always questioning … something? The verbal stops, pauses, and connectors aren’t the silent denoters of periods, commas, and em dashes; instead they use punctuations of “dude!”, “like”, and “right?”

Southern California is one of the most laid-back, yet uptight, areas of the country. (I feel I speak with some authority on this, seeing as how I spent 3 years of my life traveling these states of our nation.) Because of this, you get a weird mix of people. Sometimes the weird mix is found in one person, sometimes in a neighborhood.

Take my neighborhood for example. Almost every night, sometime between 9 and 10, there’s the rollerblader. Now, rollerblading isn’t uncommon especially round dese heah parts. The late night rollerblading? Still not uncommon. However my guy does it shirtless. And LOUDLY singing along to whatever is on his iPod (typically some mix of Ice-T, Eminem, Snoop, and the like). Another denizen of my tract is actually a friend of mine – he goes night walking. Sometimes he does it with his mandolin. Sometimes he does it while tying a pillowcase around his neck, and pretends he’s the folk crusader, rescuing damsels with his righteous chord progressions. (Okay, he doesn’t REALLY do that, but he DOES think about it.)

Then there’s the typical mix that all neighborhoods, even apartment complexes, have – the newlyweds, the crotchety old man, the prozaced-out eternally happy Mom, you know … the norm. Then there’s the family next door: they are kind, kind, kind. The teenaged girls are nice, with just a touch of rebellion. Their male cousin lives there as well, and he is one of the nicest and down to earth boys ever (and he’s 13). Then there’s their youngest son, who will either turn out to be a serial killer, or a lawyer. (The jury’s still out on that one.)

With all these people living in close proximity, you’re bound to overhear something you may not have wanted to know. But then there are the people who are out, walking their dogs, talking on their cell phones; it’s the OC version of multi-tasking.

In a quiet neighborhood, especially when the night is settling into its skin, voices can echo. And carry. And you’ll hear things the speaker probably wishes she had waited to ask until she got home. Things like,

“Have you ever moaned with your mouth open?”

Why, yes. Yes I have. You mean, you haven’t?

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

This is one shade of my grey

I've never had an abortion. No need for emergency contraception here. Nothing. Nada. Zilch. This is not to say I haven't had a scare (or three) when I went to the local CVS to buy a 12-pack and a pregnancy test. (And may I just say that I hate it when some person behind the counter decides she can moralize? And the rare times I've been in this situation, it WAS a she. "Well, if you're pregnant, you KNOW you can't drink that beer ... " to which I responded, "Yeah, I know. If I am, it's HIS congratulatory drink, but if I'm NOT, it's OUR 'phew, we missed the bullet on that one' toast". Always it was said with a smile, even thought part of me wanted to say, "Shut your damn maw and just tell me the total, you self-aggrandizing bitch".)

Coming of age in California may have skewed my perception. If we had stayed in Utah, I may be singing a different tune, and living a different life, right now. But ... I did, and we didn't, so here I am ...
______________________________

A few months after getting my first kiss, I lost my virginity. Raised a strict Catholic, I really only heard peripherally about The Pill ("something only whores want/need") and condoms. So, although I was "safe" in exploring my budding sexuality, the fear of getting knocked up was like lead in my head. As I weighed the scales of my own sexual justice, what I came back to were these two thoughts: if I got pregnant, RIGHT NOW at age 16, would I have the kid? Or would I abort? Both thoughts, both options, pulled at me as though I were nothing more than seaside-boardwalk taffy. The scales never, truly, equalized ...

As I was still searching for the ever elusive orgasm, a few friends around me were already on the pill, another had an abortion, and one more was just another "teenage pregnancy" statistic. MY thoughts, and THEIR realities, were at war in my head. "I can't go on the Pill, it would mean I'm a slut" vied with, "Please God, let this condom work as it should!" jockeyed for attention with, "holy shit, it happened to her, it might happen to me", mixed with my relief of, "thank God it's them, and not me".

And some people wondered why I couldn't just let go and flow with the moment. Pfft.
______________________________

The most vicious attacks against me came from girls. From women. I realize (now) that it was fear driving them. It wasn't me, per se, they wanted to belittle. They had to do it to feel better about themselves, about their place in the world, their self-inflicted hierarchy.

Do I agree with it?

No.

But then I realized something ... we all have our roles to play. Mine, then, was to be their victim. To take what they said ABOUT me, and absorb it into the woven fabric of my soul. To turn their perception into my truth. To accept their taunts, their words, their fantasy, and turn it into my reality. I had to allow myself to be the victim, in order to find my inherent strength.

It's something, hopefully, that taught both teams (them and us, tormentor and tormented) something. Something about compassion, about walking a mile in the others shoes. The tormented learned inner strength and understanding, the tormentor empathy and understanding.

Sure, the learning may not have happened then, hell ... it may not have happened yet, at all, to the individual players. But it will happen. Timing doesn't matter, only that it DOES happen.

That moment of "oh, wow ... ok. I get it". On BOTH sides. I'm still learning that I never knew what was going on in their heads, in their home-lives. It's still just conjecture at this point. I only knew how it affected me. And for a long time I could only hold onto my perception, my reaction. In my smaller and selfish moments, I still hold on.

The middle school "slut", who would sneak out with her bathroom hall pass to steal kisses with the blonde jock? I learned later, much later, that her home life was a mess, a mess to the nth degree. It makes my emotional wobblings look incredibly small in comparison. And now I realize she was just grasping for some control. Something only SHE had control over. SHE was the one who chose to kiss that boy in the hall. That was her empowerment, her awakening. The rest of us? Yeah, we called her slut. And for that, I still feel like shit. Because could I honestly say I wouldn't do the same in her position, then?

Hindsight being 20/20, I understand now what made her act out, what made her target me. I was a geek. I was the only redhead in school. I was the easy target. Physically small, and mentally soft and scared, scarred.

Then though ... ? I didn't understand. And then, it hurt, deeply. Honestly, it still does. Sticks and stones?

Bullshit!!!

Physical wounds CAN heal, but those words ... those words stick like a burr.

I was upset, then, that she couldn't see my life, my outlook, my reality, through MY eyes. The fact that her reality, her 12 short years of life, was skewed through her experiences ... I didn't get that. Didn't understand. I didn't see HER life. Not then, at any rate.

The mutual hurts, of the then, built up a wall of non-understanding. On both sides.

Now though? I think if we ever meet again, that unspoken wall would still be there. But not as solid. Not as real. Not as intimidating. More of an automatic protection; an unconscious feint. Yes, there would be a chink, where we could not necessarily walk a mile in the others shoes, but at least we would have a movie-preview-type of understanding. An understanding that leaves us satiated, yet wanting more.Questioning.

We may separate by looking through each others weakness, and the understanding that comes from it, or we may bring up that armored self-preservation once again, our souls still connected under that hard shell of metal ...

That armor will never be as strong, viable, or whole, again.
______________________________

In trying to "get" others, or at least accept them, I see more of the universe. By seeing them, I see more of me. In their stories, their lives, I catch a glimpse. A glimpse of something more.

A glimpse of sympathy.

A glimpse of empathy.

But underneath it all, a small, minuscule glimpse of understanding.

And selfish satisfaction, selfish cognizance.

I'm trying to view people past the armor they put on to the world at large. Trying to see past the bravado (theirs and mine), to the core underneath.

This whole acceptance thing? In a word (or two) ...

... it sucks.

By viewing others, it forces the mirror back at the looker. The observer. And makes them ask questions. Questions they may not be ready to answer, or at least answer to the world at large. Sometimes not even be able to answer to themselves.
______________________________

Growing up, life was very black and white. We were ALL sinners. There was no real grey. The grey you saw, that you questioned? It was answered in a very black and white way.

"Why does she pick on me?" .... "It's because you're different."

It wasn't until later, much later, that I learned that their version of "black", of different, was truly charcoal. Their version of "white"? Ecru.

I DO admire, envy, and feel pity for, those people who CAN view life in complete black and white. There were, and are, times when I wish it were so easy. Black equals bad, white equals good. If only it were that simple, and that clean. That striated ...

... She picks on me because I'm "bad", I'm "other" and I deserve it ...

What happens when you mix black and white?

You get grey.

And that's where life lives, and thrives. And grows.

Life isn't that clean cut, that striated. It's in the shadows, in the mix of black and white, where understanding, sympathy, and empathy take root. And where the most fun, interesting, and fertile times of our lives take place. It takes place in the shadows. In the grey.

I cannot tell you that your combination of black and white is better, or more pure, than mine. Both are just shadings. Both add depth, and character.

Sometimes the hardest lessons are the most meaningful. And the most slippery and obtuse. I keep trying to remind myself of that. That *this* shade of grey is MY life, right now. And I must understand, or at least tentatively grasp, this shadow, this shade, before I can move on.
______________________________

Would I, or could I, get an abortion right now, at *this* moment in my life? The right here, and the right now?

No. I don't think I would. Or could. It's too deeply a mottled mix of black, white, and grey.

However, I want that choice. No, let me rescind that. I NEED that choice. Need that palette of options, of colors, before me.
______________________________

I don't agree with the way our country is headed, the way our world is headed. But I still harbor hope. Oddly.

If someone tells me that *this* is the way I should think, or that *this* is the way I should behave, or that *this* is the box I should fit in ... I rebel. Down to my soul, I rebel. It may not be an outward manifestation, but I DO rebel.

Maybe some of it is genetic. Maybe some of it is learned behavior, like Pavlov's dogs. Either way, I balk at the restraints put on me.

And that's just it - while I'm working on breaking myself free of self-, or other-, imposed shackles, I try to never put those on another person. It's hard. Really hard. It's easy to moralize from the safety of your own chair, your own mind, your own life. Harder still to take a moment to take a stroll in their life, and out of your own.

And it's hard to *not* denigrate, or belittle, another. To put them in a box that's easily understandable to you. Even when they try to do the same to you, to enshroud their own safety. It's a gut-jerk safety mechanism. On both sides. Fight fire with fire, yanno?
______________________________

My mother is no longer here. Nor is her mother. My blood. My heritage. My history.

However, *I* AM. I am here. Here, using the black, and the white, to create my own personal shade of grey.

And I refuse to let their their voices die, because I am afraid to use my own. Hell, they were the ones who gave me my voice in the first place, even if they didn't agree with what my vocal chords produced ...

Both of them were nurses. RN's. They saw the fallout of the 60's and 70's. They didn't agree with it, not on a spiritual or religious level. (Maybe Mom did. She WAS a hippie and just ... was ... and just ... accepted ... )

But on a human level? Yeah ... they mixed their own shades of black and white.

Maybe I'm just searching for human contact. Not necessarily connection, because that would mean me giving up part of me. But maybe reaching out for just a touch? A sense of someone walking in my shoes, while I walk in theirs?

A touch of compassion would be nice about now.
______________________________

Maybe what I'm trying to get at is this:

If you are my friend, I will support you. NO MATTER WHAT. Hell, I may even provide an alibi.

If you aren't my friend, but my acquaintance, I will support you. NO MATTER WHAT. I may not provide an alibi, but I will wholeheartedly give you my ear, support, and guidance (for whatever that's worth).

If I don't know you, I will support you, as long as you are forging your own color, your own place, and are doing it with openness and honesty. Being true to yourself. I may not agree with your views ... but if they are come upon honestly, and with empathy, I will give you my support. (Just don't put your own spin on my charcoal creation.)
______________________________

Each of us creates our own palette, our own mix of black and white.

Who am I to say that your grey is the wrong shade?

Who are YOU to say that MY grey is wrong, or immoral?
______________________________

What started this blather was partially this: http://www.rhrealitycheck.org/blog/2008/08/08/plans-b-damned-the-quest-emergency-contraception

Some of it is this: http://projects.washingtonpost.com/congress/members/m000303/key-votes/
______________________________

I'm just finding my voice, after a long hiatus. Please don't make me raise it. Or silence it. Just let it ... speak.

And listen.

And I promise the same. I hope.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oHxGXeyXNnA

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Don't hide what you feel inside. Don't let anybody stand in your way. Just let the music ...

... take you higher.

Yeah, yeah, yeah. The title is a small shout-out to David Coverdale. What can I say? I was a hair-metal junkie. Oh hell, who am I fooling? There is no "was". Skid Row is still a guilty pleasure. (I blame my Uncle Mike for that. HE was the one who put a tenner in my hand and forced me to go into Liquorice Pizza to pick up the newest album from Whitesnake. That's my story, and I'm sticking to it. Damn you, Uncle Mike!)

*******************************

If I were more savvy, I would just create a mix of the below. But I'm not that technologically keyed in (I could be, but I'm lazy). So instead, I'll just throw out a few links. Listen to all, or just snippets, or just scroll past it all. In this, I'll allow you to create your own mash-up.

(Please stick with me through the links ... as I said, you don't have to listen to all of them, but it's my set-up here people ... and as an additional disclaimer - when I say "trad" music, I mean that to be the instrumental/traditional music of Ireland, Scotland, Cape Breton, etc. Or, as my friends from Ireland call it, the "diety-ditty shite".)

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1g9Cxrc7FSg
I'll be there, with a love that will shelter you. I'll be there,with a love that will see you through.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rQdSJXPDtjs
Look out baby, 'cause here I come.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-lOcRI37cu0
But there's a power, and a vital presence, that's lurking all around.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iqH_xqh0eVw
If you stick around I'm sure that we can find some common ground.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1p2g2WuGXwE
And my fond heart strove to choose between, the old love and the new love.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uhSYbRiYwTY
I'm stepping through the door, and I'm floating in a most peculiar way.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xaOyUdiv7rU
You showed me how, how to leave myself behind, how to turn down the noise in my mind.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5EoNd_maBbY
He sings out a song which is soft but its clear, as if maybe someone could hear.

http://www.imeem.com/people/du5ZGSY/music/ggSG_jmu/ben_taylor_band_island/
Everyone can see that I'm an island, I've got ocean just about everywhere that I can see.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6lzb-jYZrLE
No you can't take that away from me.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9o2dPi_hhTc
In my dreams--it's still the same. Your love is strong, it still remains.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qv343ai0EfA
Where I come from and where I am going, and I am lost in between.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=z9vlmAYw0a8
Er, Sean Ryan?

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9dh90sTlSOs
Quimbara quimbara quma quimbamba. Quimbara quimbara quma quimbamba?

Okay. That's enough for now. And it barely scratches the surface.

-- When I first started this rambling, I wanted to make a point of how music is our universal connector. But the artists and songs I chose to link to seem to be my subconscious telling me something. (Maybe it is saying something to you too.) Just an observance. Now, onto my blathering. --

How do you capture this? All of the bands linked above I've seen live, some numerous times. Each and every show was a narcotic to me. There's the fact that you're seeing these strangers, though they aren't strangers to YOU, because they somehow spoke to your soul. ("Oh my god, they wrote that song for me!") Then there's the communal anticipation - every single person is there with some expectation, some want, some need, and those desires become a palpable energy. It all adds up to a heady brew.

How do you capture those emotions, those feelings? How do you contain that deluge in a paper cup? Can you?

Would you really want to?

You can't capture moments. Seriously, how DO you catch a memory? Photographs are one way, but they only retain a small part of that infinitesimal moment. It's not like you can carry around an old mason jar and plunk it onto your head every time you want to keep some memory, some event. Even capturing fireflies ... they eventually weaken and their light dies out. It defeats the purpose, no?

(And if you DID try to go the jar route, the concussion from all that banging against your noggin' may not be worth the price.)

How do you keep those fleeting times of your life real, immediate, and tangible? For me, it's listening to music at every chance, and finding new artists. Expanding my musical knowledge base. The ones I've seen live, when I hear their CD again, I'm brought back to that moment, and that time of life when I saw them play. It may not be as gripping or as urgent as *that* moment, but it's enough of a visceral memory that I'm left wanting more. It's like giving a needle to a junkie ... they will want more. And then more again.
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The Four Tops and The Temptations were my first concert; Dad took me. The first concert that I took myself to was Bad Religion, and I've seen them more times than I can count. (Greg? Have my babies? Please?)

I do remember every concert and every piece of live music that I've seen. Now ... I can't rattle them all off, or even remember all of their names (there's been a metric assload of 'em), but if I hear a band, I can most likely tell you whether or not I have seem them live.
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Recently I posted about the quiet time of night, when you can truly feel at home in yourself. But what about those times and experiences that allow you to go OUTside of yourself? When you don't want the world-collective to be quiet, and you want to connect instead?

Live music does it for me. More specifically, live trad music. It's one of the few times my brain shuts up completely (dancing being one of the exceptions). There is no static in the background, no mental niggling. I am in me, fully. In the music, completely. In the moment, wholly. I'm connected, yet disconnected, all at the same time.

I've lost track of time, of self and surrounding, being caught up in the moment. Moments are (supposedly) fleeting, but each moment I've had when I'm surrounded by music have never been lost. They are here. HERE. (Imagine that I'm pointing to my chest, my heart. And stop looking at my boobs!)

We carry each of those moments with us: those instances of feeling, of connecting, of being more ... and of being less. They are never lost. They are inside of us. Hell, they ARE us. When enraptured at a concert, I live right up to that second. And then I live all of my lives that could have been. And my life that is. And will be. And then I lose all of that. I just "am".

Don't just be in the moment. Live it.
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Why the fuck am I channeling Tony Robbins? I really don't want to be some arm-chair psychologist, or motivational speaker (or have that horrible tanning-bed look). I don't want to tell you what to do, or how to feel, or how to view the world. I guess, that by putting my thoughts out there, to y'all, I can tell myself that I'm not actually talking to myself, talking to an empty room, not actually talking to my cats, but instead I can pretend that I am communicating with (at) people. Because, after all, only "those crazy people" talk to themselves.

And talk to their pets.

(Besides, when I DO talk to the cats? Their response is ... ball licking ... not really the answer I was looking for. Thanks guys. Bastards.)
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Personally, live music allows me no sense of time. No sense of worry. It gifts me with transcendence.

In that moment, everyone is individual, and everyone is whole, and part of the whole. Everything is learned, and unlearned. In that moment everything is forgiven, and everything is forgotten. Everything, that is, except for that note, this note, that phrase, this chorus ... this moment of electricity. Of vibrance. Of feeling so incredibly grounded, and yet it is still an out of body experience.

Pretty much ALL live music does that to me, when I am there in the audience. I feel a part of, and apart from. And I'm at peace.

Recorded music doesn't make me feel that way, at least not in that immediate sense. Unless it's trad. I don't know why that is - maybe some unknown genetic memory.

Trad music (even bluegrass in a way) is kind of weird for me - I can have it playing in the background, and I don't have to concentrate on it; it won't disturb me if I'm doing another task that requires me to focus. But if I actually do stop and listen, it reaches out and grabs me by the throat. By my heart. And by my gut.

It's still the only type of music that I can consciously force myself to put in the background. Other music makes me stop, and listen to the lyrics. Focus on what it's saying ("Is it revved up like a dooce, or is it wrapped up like a douche? I should replay that part again ... ")

Maybe I view trad like the lover that will always be there, no matter how I treat it. Just because I listen to other genres, or go and see their shows, and feel that same excitement when I listen, it doesn't lessen the hold that trad music has on me. Or the love I have for it.

Apparently trad music is my aural booty call.
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3:00 AM is when I'm alone with me, yet semi-connected to the world. Being at a concert, or in a pub watching a trad band, is when I'm just part of a whole; when the world is semi-connected to me. A small speck that creates the whole ... experience.

One paint-spot, one small dab of the brush ...



... can create this:



Individually, yes, that one point is interesting. Taken by, and of, itself, it can be beautiful. (The listener, the audience member, as a person can be endlessly fascinating and intriguing. But when I'm at a concert, I honestly don't give a shit about them, except for how they contribute to the show. The energy they give off. How they tie into the entire experience.) When that one small part contributes to the whole? Wow.



There are those of us who connect(ed) by following the Grateful Dead, some by going to see indie groups play where the band outnumbered the audience, some by being in packed arenas to see Jay-Z, and some by standing in a small club to see a cult-status band, where you feel packed in like a sardine - oil included. For me I can, and have, connected in all of those places. I've connected listening at home to 8-tracks, albums, tapes, CD's, and now the internet (PANDORA! I love you!)

Music is the art form that can reach out through whatever delivery platform (recorded, live, or something you created), and grab you. Music really is the foundation of life, mine at any rate.
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To me, music IS my shelter. It's my safety net. It does, and has (on so many levels and in SO many ways), see me through.

I think most of us want to grip, capture, and hold close those seconds. Those that bring us into the moment, and take us out of ourselves. Me too. I want to be able to Tivo those experiences so that I can relive them, again and again. And again. It wasn't until now, THIS moment, that I now realize ... I don't want to.

I want those transcendental minutes of life to remain ever elusive, but still within my grasp. The fact that they now have that soft, feathered edge make it more comfortable, and comforting, when I look back. Though the intensity is now dulled, there is still that memory.
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It feels like I'm leaving this unfinished, and I am. While writing this, I had all of the above links playing, then some. The musical siren song is calling me. Asking me to come visit them again. This song ALWAYS makes me cry, and still I laugh and smile through those tears. Because it takes me back to a place, a snapshot in time. A time when I was crying a lot. And laughing. And living. So I'll leave you with this http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZN2XPaMjB0E and this question ...

The above was a snapshot of the soundtrack of my life (concert-wise at least). What's your soundtrack, concert or otherwise?

Friday, August 15, 2008

The difference between dusk and dawn ...

Why is it that when I *should* be getting ready for bed, my brain starts to wake up? I've always been this way, even from a very young age. (Okay, maybe the feeling of wanting to stay up all night was due to the fact that I thought an evil leprechaun lived under my bed, and that weird anxiety has never left ... nor has that leprechaun. Fucker.)

Anyway, when most "normal" people are sleepily wiping their eyes, and yawning their "good nights" through a mouthful of toothpaste, I'm starting to wake up. Maybe some of this is situational - this is the time I'm able to catch up on my e-mail, random YouTube links, and news. But always, the night has held me in its grasp. Especially 3:00 A.M. - I found out later in life that this is considered the "true" witching hour, but for me, there was a palpable change in the air, when everything just seemed to stop. And to breathe. And to "be". And to just accept whatever was out there, happening at that moment. It was, and still is, my comfortable and safe time. My me-time.

There's something gripping, and tentative, and soft, and even "dark" - no pun intended - about the wee hours of the night that just captures me. Reaches down into my soul, heart, and mind, and it won't let go. (Like a cat embracing a catnip mouse.) Maybe it's because the world (or at least the world around me) is quiet, and that allows me time to expand my brain, and let down my walls. It allows me to be fully in my skin, allows me to feel, and allows my brain out to gambol - this is the time when my synapses are allowed free reign. It's when I can follow the random paths of, "what if", or "what if I hadn't"? And I don't stress over it, at least not at that point. Not at that time of night. (Or morning.)

Seriously though? That type of thinking (the what-if's) leads to a downward spiral. When we play that game in our head, of COURSE our lives are that much better (or that much worse). In my late-night fantasy land, I ALWAYS win the lotto at the last possible minute, rescue the kitten in the tree, donate wildly to charity, and then Colin Farrell always seems to find epiphany in monogamy (with me) when he meets me at the supermarket ...

Our lives just ... they just are. No more. No less.

Life is what we make it. Life is what we *don't* make it out to be. It's raw material thrown our way, and our job is to shape it into something. Whether that is a bad rendition of an ashtray, or a Michelangelo-like sculpture, we are where we need to be (not necessarily where we WANT to be). But ... we are where we need to be. We are here, right now, right HERE, in this place, in THIS moment, because this is where we must be in order to ... do. To process. To digest. To take-in. To learn. And to teach.

The 12-year-old me would scream at the almost-32-year-old me. THIS, this "me" is not what I wanted, what I envisioned. THIS IS NOT ME, DAMNIT! But ... here I am. And this IS me. And you know what? I wouldn't give up, or re-live, any minute of it. (Yes, with hindsight being 20/20, there are instances where I wish I HAD acted differently, said something other than I did - or decided not to say - , or acted in a different manner.) Yet, all of those instances, all of those moments, have led to the "me" I am today.

Am I perfect? Am I all that I can be? Am I living up to my potential? Hellz to the EN-OH! But I am living my life. Even though sometimes this concept of living seems to be arduous, and instead I feel I am stuck on pause, in stasis. On the snow-channel of the TV.

We all, each and every single-damn-one of us, have those moments when you relive an earlier moment, and come up with the PERFECT comeback. But focusing on the woulda-coulda-shoulda is detrimental to our growth as people. We just have to put that away under the mental file of "Next time, I will say, I will do ... "

Regrets? Yeah, I've had a few (or maybe eleventy-thousand of them). But I would never try to trade them in for the life I have now. I've found perfection in the cracks, and I'm quite content to sit in those foundational ruptures and laugh. And weep. And cackle through the tears. Laughter is fun. Laughter is love. Without laughter, there is no life.

A friend of mine said something in a flippant moment, that has stuck with me for over 10 years now. The exact phrasing is off, but the meaning was, "I'd rather regret the things I did, rather than the things I wish I had done".

I'm trying to live that motto, trying to embrace this roller-coaster of life, and laugh the whole way. Joyfully. Embracedly. Whole-heartedly.

Finally I'm realizing that I can't be everything to everyone, but I can be the best "ME" when all is said and done. If my final product is an ashtray, or a sculpture, at least I know I was made out of love, blood, sweat, tears, and fire.

And that is what I strive for. Am striving for, daily. Moment to moment, second to second.

We are the sum of our parts - me, you, our friends, family, acquaintances, and even our ancestors have a hand in molding who we are. Sometimes carefully and lovingly, sometimes heavy-handed. A genetic butterfly effect.A societal imprint.

This late night peace and stillness allows us (or me, at any rate) to think. To feel. This is the time when the world-collective isn't using its brain, which shuts off all the extraneous noise. And this is the time that truly allows our souls to embrace, and enjoy, the silence.

It forces me to be more open, more embracing, of others. Of their quirks, foibles, and flaws. I recognize these things in myself, and know that others have a universal experience. What I've experienced, and lived, so too have they. As I learn to love myself, I learn to love them. It literally blows my fucking mind. And rends open my heart in ways I never, ever, could have imagined.

And now? Now I will laugh. And I will live. And I hope that you will laugh with (and even sometimes at) me.

To quote the inimitable Frank Sinatra:

I've loved, I've laughed and cried.
I've had my fill; my share of losing.
And now, as tears subside,
I find it all so amusing.

To think I did all that;
And may I say - not in a shy way,
No, oh no not me,
I did it my way.

For what is a man, what has he got?
If not himself, then he has naught.
To say the things he truly feels;
And not the words of one who kneels.
The record shows I took the blows -
And did it my way!

When is your "silent" time? When is your "what do I see in me, when no one is around" time? When are you able to strip yourself down to your bare essentials, and see who you truly are, who you truly want to be?

Do you actually, truly, and honestly seek a quiet time? Or, do you allow the pomp and circumstance of what we call "life" to draw the lines of the art that is ... you?

It's late, and I must go meandering down the dry-goods aisle to meet with Mr. Farrell. I can't be late for a date, now, can I?

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Thoughts on the news (trigger warning maybe?)

On another site I'm a part of, someone posted a link to this story: http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/world/us_and_americas/article4481742.ece

Granted, I do agree with the original poster when she said this woman was a "character". I also agree with another commentor (commentator?) when she said she was "effin' crazy!" On the surface, I'm TOTALLY amused. However ... this is what I posted in response over on Tribe.net:

Heh. Okay, I can totally see the glee in finding amusement in this woman's craziness. (C'mon, who doesn't like to look at a train wreck every now and then? Even when we can empathize/sympathize with them ... )

But ... from an "uppity" standpoint, I take offense at a couple of things in how this story was told (a trigger warning may apply here):

"... the 17-stone Kirk Anderson claimed, his petite, busty admirer tied him to a bed ... and forced him into sex ... " ,and then: " ...You have seen the size of Mr Anderson and you have seen the size of my client ... "

Not to totally derail this conversation, but ... rape is rape. Men rape women. Women rape men. Men rape men. Women rape women. People rape PEOPLE. There is no gender involved - it's power. It's rage. It's anger.

No means no. End of story, end of interaction. It does not matter your size, your gender, or what you are wearing. If you do not want to have sex, then you say no. Your partner should abide by that. Sometimes ... they don't. (I really don't want to come across as trite in this, or really cut-and-dry, but I'm trying to get some thoughts out without doing too-damn-much-editing. Please read my words in the spirit I hope they convey, and not in the semantics from it.)

In the sum-total 14 paragraphs of the article, of those 5 mentioned her looks. And 5 in some way made an insinuation about sex. Mathematically, that means that 36% (okay, okay, 35.7%) of the article focused on: her looks, sex/rape (even though they don't call a spade a spade and call it rape), or some combo thereof. Is that journalism, or sensationalism?

The man that she handcuffed and forced into sex did not consent ... the word *forced* implies that. (At least, by my parsing, that's the understanding I came to.) Granted, many a man has had fantasies of a woman/women tying them to the bedpost and "having their way" with them. However ... this man was Mormon. And typically I view religion as ... other.

From personal experience, there's a lot of hypocrisy betwixt sex and religion. However, I do know and interact (daily) with a lot of Mormons. Those that ARE (Mormon), live by it. The ones that want to break the "rules", don't really identify as Mormon. (More often they'll call themselves Jack-Mormon, or some other derivative.) So, the fact that this man was a Missionary ... eesh. What she did was rape. That's it. End of story.

I've met Christians, Jews, Muslims, etc., who will bend the rules to suit their needs, but Mormons? From what I've experienced (and that's all I'm saying ... it's my experience ... either they ARE Mormon, or they aren't - or were raised, or recovering, or what have you) ... people will bend their religion, and what their religion espouses, to suit their needs, or to make it fit their world view. With the Mormons, though, it's all or nothing. (There's more subtext here I know, and the ladies in this tribe who have a metric tonne more insight and education into religion than I do can offer more insight, they can/will offer their observations.)

Hmm. I guess what I'm saying is ... "what the hell does it have to do with the facts what she looks(looked) like, and what bearing does it have to the matter at hand what religion HE was?" Not a darn thing.

It's all sound and fury, signifying ... what?

Again from the article, "To flee on bail, she donned a red wig and disguised herself as a member of a mime troupe, together with her alleged accomplice, Keith May."

I'm gonna put on my snark hat right now ... a red wig?!??!? Are they inveighing that people who have red hair are evil? And will run from the law? And that those eeeeeeeeevil redheads will join those no-goodnik mime troupes to escape justice? (Okay, mimes are evil. I keed! I keed!)

Keeping the snark hat on, again from the article: "... then resurfaced ... dressed as a nun ... a rope and handcuffs were in her car."

Maybe she just needed some space to totally live out her quasi-religious-BDSM fantasies ... ???

This turned out a hell of a lot longer than I intended, but apparently it struck a nerve. (Granted, some part of me is still totally entertained at the craziness of the woman. I mean, c'mon - she had puppies cloned from the EAR of her dog for Christsakes.)

Sunday, August 10, 2008

More on art ...

... I was watching Margaret Cho, and she said something that made my brain go, "aroo?" It woke something that's been tickling my brain for the last few months/years, and here's my start. Am I on the right path?

This, along with my last post, is a very rough draft, almost stream of conscious. I think what I'm trying to say is that just by listening, hearing, even being a passive observer, we all contribute. And that if we all just become a teensy bit more aware of what each person has to offer (even if we don't agree with it), our daily lives will become that much more beautiful. Hmmm. Yeah. I think that's where I'm headed with this.
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What is art?

Is it the snap of a shutter? The brush of oil on a canvas? The turn of a phrase? The pitch in a voice? The note on a scale? The line of a leg?

Right now I'm watching Margaret Cho's "Revolution" and she said something to the effect of: "The function of art is to comment on culture." I emphatically agree, but would have to add to this: yes, one part of it is to comment on culture, and some other (not all encompassing parts) are to make you think and to make you feel.

Art begets Art.

How do YOU choose to comment on culture? Do you consider yourself an artist?
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We are all artists, deep down inside, down to the core of our being. Each and EVERY ONE of us is an artist.

We live.

We breathe.

We experience.

Art is "us": it's how we tap into our inner beings and it is how we show ourselves, how we show our views, how we show our souls, how we show our opinions. It is how we reflect "us" back to the world. When we do that, when we hold up that mirror or even a two-way glass, we are artists.

"But what about someone like Limbaugh? He can definitely turn a phrase, but does that make him an artist?"

Yes. Yes it does and yes he is.

Now, before you get your panties in a twist, hear me out.

When someone like Rush Limbaugh says something like "dunderheaded alarmists and prophets of doom", regarding environmentalists, he is spurring art. A statement like that will make you think, and it spurs you to learn. It spurs people to take photographs like this



Is that photograph NOT art? Is it not evocative? I cannot say what the photographers mindset was when she snapped this photo: if it was just something akin to, "wow, look at the structure, the colour, the composition; or if it was something more along the lines of, "oh, we're just dunderheads are we? Well look at THIS Mr. Limbaugh! Gore 4EVAR!"
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This image is art to me. It woke something inside of me, which I'm still trying to verbalize. What does it say to you? What was this artist thinking, or trying to convey? If you do not "see" what he was trying to "say", is it still art?
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Art IS a comment on culture. It is also a comment on our current world situations. There are certain songs, dances, paintings, and photographs, which will evoke different meanings in different people. But there are some forms of media that start out as journalism, and then turn into art - it's a cultural view.



I didn't know Eddie Adams history at the time of this initial writing. But... even if the intent of this photo was to show the atrocities of war, if it just started out as visually showing facts, it morphed into art. Heart wrenching, and yes, disgusting, but art nonetheless. Why?

Look at the photo again. LOOK at it. Strip away what you know of the history of the time. Just ... please, just ... look. Just think. Just feel.

Did it stir anything inside of you? Yes? Then it is art.

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Art is education. When you view, hear, or feel something, and it makes you think ... and then research .... it is art.
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Art can be selfish (acting, singing, performing) in that we *need* that immediate feedback, that instant applause, to continue to light our fire.

For others, art is therapy: we HAVE to get these images, these words, these movements, these notes ... we just have to get them OUT, out of our brain so that we can come back to some semblance of sanity and stop the images, stop the words, stop the movements, stop the music in our heads just so we can sleep. And function.
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Art is showing others the world as you see it, and inviting them into your space ... and hoping that we can all find a common thread so that we can meet in understanding on that common ground.
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Why is it that when someone is considered an artist, they are typically viewed through the filter of some sort of addiction? All of the "great" artists were fucked up in some way, and sought release through various behaviours, chemicals, intoxicants. Is it because "art" drove them, or that society at large just didn't hear them? Painters, writers, singers, dancers, comedians - most of the "famous" ones were dependent on something. Was/is it because of society? Or was/is it because they doubted themselves, and only through inebriation, by allowing them to "get outside" of themselves, were they able to tell their truth?
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Art, as viewed by most of society at large, is seen as something "frou-frou", as "classist". It's narrowly defined as something only the Imrpressionists did, or "weird stuff" that's seen in art galleries (Pollack anyone?) But actually ... art is SO broad, and SO all encompassing. Each of us lives and breathes art. I create art, you create art, they create art ... even by being an observer we pay the piper of art.
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Art is the vehicle of being heard, of being understood. And isn't that what drives most of us - to be heard?

Yes. We are ALL artists.

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Drafting

So, I'm kinda thinking that this will be a multi-part post. Here is my VERY rough draft. Part one.

I do have a question to you: how would you like to see this random train of thought played out? I'm playing with the concept of a "choose your own adventure": yes, I AM asking for input, but that doesn't mean it will influence the outcome. But ... it may.

This is the beginning of a tangent, and depending on how you view it, it MAY tie into the second part I have saved in my "drafts" folder. If your thoughts (of where you think/would like to see this lead) don't tie into what I already have written, then, well ... so be it.

Yanno?
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Damnit. I want to be prolific. I want to write. I want to dance. I want to shoot (photographs, not guns, but sometimes shooting guns can be fun. BANG!)

I want my words, my movements, my images to make an impact. I want what I write, dance, and show to inspire another person to take my idea and make it better. And I want their work to inspire me to one-up them. A healthy, artistic competition. None of this, "I'm better than you" type of competition, but one of, "holy shit! That was fantastic! Here's what I've done with it. What do you have to say?"

Every single day I'm introduced to a new way of writing, a new way of moving, a new way of looking at life. Not all of them I agree with - some I vehemently disagree with. But you know what? I envy those people. The people whose words and images and dances move me to tears ....

...
to feeling

... to anger

... to something MORE.

Something more than "myself".

Well, maybe envy isn't completely the right word. I DO envy them. Yet ...

... They spur me. They influence me. They awe me. They light that fire under my ass that makes me want to hone all of my skills (and find new ones), so that I can be at times be clear and concise in my written word, and at times semi-amorphous in my movements and visuals. This compulsion is so that you (the audience, the viewer) are led to your own point, your own conclusion.

Many of the people that I envy are near and dear friends of mine:
* The younger ones that make me wish that I had taken a different path.
* The older ones that give me hope that I can still accomplish my dreams. And excel at them.
* All of them share one trait though - they do not deny their artistic bent.
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I have artistic constipation, and have for a few years now. Soon I will be prolific, I know this, but this current stasis is killing me, suffocating my soul. These words, these visions, these movements, they are all stuck in my head.

Does anyone have mental Metamucil or DrainO that I can use to flush them?

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When people ask me what I do, I feel they are asking who I am. What I do for money is NOT who I am - I refuse to be constrained into a box of who YOU think I should be, of how you think I should act and feel. Does it make them uncomfortable when I don't fit into their percieved statistic? When I'm forced into a box, I will do anything within my power to break out of that box (even if I do like and find the box to be cozy and agreeable). Sometimes this works in my favor, most times it is to my detriment.

Yes, I do well at my job, but that is not the only layer. The people who identify with their jobs, and allow those jobs to create who they feel they should be, seem to view me as ... less. When they realize that I do not live to work, but instead work to live, it seems anathema to them that I have more pressing desires outside of the 9-to-5. I feel as though I'm viewed as a pet monkey. And I hate that.

I WILL play by their rules, but adding a bit of "me" into the mix.

Does this make me a corporate heretic?

Thursday, July 31, 2008

Make it stop

I.
Can't.
Stop.
Listening.


http://www.imeem.com/thmorrigan/music/_wuKN-5H/deb_talan_ashes_on_your_eyes/


Pandora? I love you. (That site is friggin' crack to me.)

Methinks I must get this album

Learning, learning

Why is it that when I SHOULD be going to bed and sleeping, the Muse decides to pop in for a cuppa? I'm not complaining - I would much prefer to see her at 3 A.M. rather than not at all. However, my brain feels like TV snow, so I'm going to indulge my OTHER muse right now - photography.

So.

My family has a pretty darn fantastic eye for photography: Popi, Dad, and at least two of my cousins. Apparently, so do I (eye, har har).

Anyway, this is something I want to learn a hell of a lot more about (settings, depth of field, yadda yadda). I even bought a new purse so that I could always have my camera on hand. So ... here's the first post showing some of my beginning tries at being a shutter bug.

(And if I see these photos anywhere else without credit to me, I will find you and give you an Irish Hardshoe lapdance.)











Friday, July 11, 2008

Emo barf

Okay, I wrote the below tripe on July 6 – Dad’s anniversary. I was watching “Across The Universe” and blabbering and bawling like a fucking baby. So – it’s a bit incoherent. And I’m tempted to edit it, but I’m not going to. I’m linking the songs that struck me, that tipped my brain into the weird space that I was in. Maybe you’ll get it, maybe you won’t.

Also, today my dear, dear friend’s mother died. She was also my friend, not just her mother. I will miss her sharp wit and humor.

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Growing up, I never “got” The Beatles. Dad, his friends, his contemporaries, even MY contemporaries, loved them. I just didn’t understand, didn’t get it. I mean, c’mon … “Hey Jude … ?” It never had any relevance for me. Not then.

The last decade or so, I’ve started to understand it more.
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I think I was about 9, maybe 10, and Dad was blasting “Strawberry Fields Forever”. It’s minor and dissonant, and that struck a chord in me that just didn’t harmonize. Not yet, anyway. For some reason, probably due to the internal jangling I just didn’t know how to parse, the song made me feel at odds with myself. It made my brain react on some visceral level in a way that I just could not … GET. I remember looking up at him from my homework and saying, “Really? This is what you like?” Dad just kind of chuckled and said, “Yep. It’s the Bee’ouls.” (When you read this, mentally read “Bee’ouls with a glottal stop, a bad American accent trying its damndest to try a Cockney accent on for size.) Then he went back to making dinner, not quite silently humming to himself a medley of Beatles tunes.

Click this, but don’t watch. Just listen. Listen with your pre-teen mind. The one that is still innocent, and can’t quite get the underlying meaning. Just open yourself up to the music and tonality. Take yourself back to the black and white of childhood. Take yourself back to the time when there were no shades of grey …

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ywg-PdeGVL0
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There’s something universal about The Beatles. About love. About loss. About pain. About joy. About frustration. About anger towards the “other”. And, because it DOES need to be said twice … about love.

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None of us are one thing or another. We’re a weird mix of disparate ideologies. Now … now, we understand the difference between supporting our troops and taking a stance against war. We can love our friends and families because of, or in spite of, their stances. No longer do we spit on the troops. Now … now we welcome them with open arms, even if at the same time we (internally) rail against a war we do not agree with.

I never got how Dad could have such a deep love for “hippy” music, for “Hair”. Especially since it was so anti-war, anti-Vietnam. But now? I get it.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ChTBKjtfd2w
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It was the late 1990’s. Swing was in full revival. Life was good. I was happily typing away at my computer at work, and Tanya calls. “Hey Tanj” I say. Her first words, “The US is sending troops over to Iraq, again.” I never really understood what people meant when they said, “I was hit in the solar plexus”, but now? Now I got it. You see, I was dating someone who was active in the Navy. And Tanya, bless her heart, knew that. She also knew my past, and knew that I would automatically think of Dad. (Forewarned is forearmed, and all of that.) I really don’t think I can describe the feeling of my heart leaping into my throat at that moment. That moment where I thought, “Holy shit! This man that I adore COULD be sent to a foreign country and die .,.” There really is nothing more awakening than realizing this: we are all infallible, and mortal, and that some man in a suit and tie holds our own life, our own breath, in their hands.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NwB8QiKWodk&feature=related
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He signed up. He wasn’t drafted. He did what he felt was right, what was his patriotic duty. The generation before him, and before that, fought in WWI and WWII. Some even Korea. That’s the mentality that held many men of my (and your) father’s generation – the mentality of “duty” … just something that had to be done. Many then, and now, may ask, “Why? Why sign yourself up for death and emotional destruction?” Well … it just what you had to do. He could have dodged, but he didn’t. And by NOT going against his own grain, it changed him. For better or worse.

(Dad and Malcolm are at 0:32, Dad at 0:34) http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4Idr8Z_VTSA
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This … this is the song that allowed me to love The Beatles. Unabashedly.

With every mistake we must surely be learning
Still my guitar gently weeps

From the movie: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sdaa6M8DN7g

From The Bee-ouls: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AHChc2I7FKk

With Abel, I KNOW there are were many, many things wrong with “us” … but, I do know … I KNOW … that I can totally and completely break down in front of him. And know that he won’t judge me for it. I guess … hmm, I guess that is what I’m looking for, what I am striving for. I DO want to lay my soul bare, and know that I won’t scare someone away. Yet … yet …. when I do open myself like that, I want to know that that they will still be there, fully and completely, when I butterfly myself open. When I lay myself raw. (I don’t want them to shy away from salmonella now do I? Hyuck, hyuck, hyuck.)

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Three years ago today is the day I found my bulwark, my FATHER, bloated. And … stinky. Smelling of death. And endings. And that? That is something I NEVER wanted. I always had these … “hopes” … that one of his friends would “find” him. And that they would call me. That they would call me with the news. I never, NEVER, wanted to be the one to find him. Find him so laid bare. Even though, deep down, I knew. I KNEW … I would be the one to find him. I never wanted to. Ever. Even though I knew that was the way it HAD to be played out. Finding him … gone … that killed a part of me I’ll never get back. It killed some of my innocence. Even though I knew my innocence was long gone before this that day.

I’ve been going through some major transitions, life transitions. And even though it’s a transition I NEVER thought I’d go through … it is what it is. And I always thought that Dad would be here through all of my changes. I feel like a failure – I wasn’t able to make my marriage work, I wasn’t able to bring into this world a child, a grandchild. I feel like a failure, of epic proportions. (I know I’m not.)

My friends, my true friends, who know me, know how hard it is for me to lay myself so bare. So … “butterflied” … it’s a painful experience for me. Yet … yet … I know this is something I need to do, something that has to happen. It has to happen for me. It has to happen so that I can move forward. And even though it makes me seem weak (at least, in my own mind) it’s something that I have to do.

Mom was an unabashed hippy. She wanted to hitchhike to Woodstock. How she wound up with a dyed-in-the-wool Republican is beyond me. However … they made it work. And it gives me hope.
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A quote from “Across The Universe”: Music is the only thing that makes sense anymore. And now? NOW … I get it.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GQNpEET9WqQ&feature=related

(EDIT - A month later, I finally realize something. I really wish he was around, now, even if just to see this movie. Some of the views he would not agree with, but overall, he too, would "get" it. So, thanks Dad. Thank you for not just teaching me, but showing me how to see both sides of the coin. In your depression, you really, truly, and honestly, taught me how to keep hold of my sanity. I love you.)

Monday, May 26, 2008

It's my brain

I have these words in my head … so many words. These words in my head tell a story, but the story just doesn’t want to come out. I’m staring at these words, these black and white words on a page, and they are staring at me, as though THEY are the enemy, and I am the enemy, when, in fact, they are truth. These words, these same words on the page, belie both their hurt, and my acceptance thereof. My willingness to see the meaning behind the words. It’s an infinite loop – both sides tell the meaning, the truth. Each side is unwilling to see the meaning behind the words, behind the meaning.

This is the Gordian Knot – both sides have validation. However, this is my truth. My past. Something I haven’t wanted to face for a long time. Because those words tell a story, my story. And I hate the fact that my words (my story) opens the door to some ugly truths about the human psyche. About MY psyche. About YOUR psyche.
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It’s Memorial Day Weekend, a time which we should spend honoring those who have come before us, and have gone – some before their time, some after it. But each one deserving of a short moment taken out of our day, to give them a nod: A nod of thanks, a nod of remembrance, a nod of honor, a nod of love, whether or not we agree with the politics that took them. It’s a time to reflect upon the past, both general and personal, a time to invite the past to sit down and have “a cuppa”, and to speak.

This should be a weekend of reflection, of intro (and outro) spection. A time and place to honor those that came before us, who allowed “us” to be. A weekend where we should allow ourselves to look at our past, at the steps that we’ve taken that brought us to this place we call “the present”. Because – past, present, and future – they are all inextricably intertwined. Our past leads us to our present, our present leads us to our future … Sometimes holding onto our pasts will make for a very uncomfortable present, which will lead to a wonky future.

Maybe over “a cuppa”, when we meet face to face with our lives up till now, we can exorcize the demons of our pasts, and allow us an open road to the future, the present. Embrace that past, both bad and good, and enmesh it with our present selves, to clear the path for our future selves.

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Some people have told me I have a remarkable mind, and I don’t quite know how to react. To quote Tim Minchin, “This is my brain, and I live in it … it’s where I spend the vast majority of my time” – to me, my thoughts (logical and circular, true or false, healthy or self-perpetuating) are just those – MY thoughts. There’s nothing remarkable about them. They just … are. At least, that’s how it seems to me.

I spent most of my life (at least until a few years ago) trying to forge my own self, my own identity – something, and someone, separate from my mother, whom I never really knew.

I never felt remarkable – I was always trying to live up to some other persons’ ideal version of me, some mold they were trying to fit me into. A mold that didn’t quite fit right in the shoulders, and tugged a bit at the thighs. It was a close enough fit, but the lines didn’t fall right. And I admit it – I tried to shape myself into those odd fitting clothes for a while. Tried to tell myself that the fashion they were touting for me was the fashion I wanted.

Reverberations of, “What would your mother say?! What would your mother think?!” still haunt me. And you know what? From all I’ve learned, from all I’ve gleaned, my mother would say, “Good for her! She’s becoming her OWN PERSON!” And even though I really didn’t know her, I want to take a moment and give her a nod of thanks. Her nudist and anarchistic tendencies, they have been passed down to me. Flesh of her flesh, blood of her blood. “They” didn’t get it, but we (she and I) do.

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My friends only know me as “me”, as ____, and they love me for that. And for that fact? I am truly grateful. They weren’t there (excepting a rare few) when my Mom’s family was trying to fit me into the Katie-mold. Instead of letting me make my own ___-mold.

Because of that, I judge myself harshly. I try (tried) to be the person in the corner- the quiet one who doesn’t make waves or draw attention to herself. When I tried to enact my own way of being, I was shut down. When I showed a spark of creative thinking, of going outside of the status quo, I was met with the argument of, “That’s not how your Mom was”.

Well, the stories that I’ve heard, of Mom, have told me that THAT was who she was. Always the individual. Yet, when I tried to forge my own individualism, it was shot down. Put in the parentheses of, “That’s not how your Mom was”, when in actuality, it WAS how she was. As an adult, when I met with her friends, and they told me, “Wow, you are very much like your mom”, and I took that as a “good on ya”, instead of seeing them trying to fit me into her mold. I took it for what it was – a compliment.

I wish I had the strength of character, then, to say, “Stop! Stop trying to turn me into your dead daughter! I am her, I am my father … I am ME!”

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This staid person you see? She’s just a façade, a straw (wo)man. Straw burns easily, and I DO love me some fire. Now, finally, am I able to embrace “Anni”, and not “Anni, trying on Katie for size”.

Now … who has some marshmallows? They always go well over a fire.

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It’s all about baby steps. This red hair, these freckles? It’s not just my mothers. It’s also mine.

There was always some sort of benchmark to live up to, and now that those benchmarks (well, the people who held them for me) are gone, I’m feeling a bit … moor-less. It’s forcing me to find my own identity, separate from the confines that were ascribed to me. I’ve been given a blank slate, and I have a pen in my hand, but the paper is still blank. At least to my eyes. Others, looking at the “paper of me”, see varying things – a scribble here, a dash of color there, a whiff of Amber (if the wind is just right). And I guess I see those hints as well, but they haven’t formed a coherent picture yet, not in my mind.

In my mind I’m still a frightened little girl, hiding in the bedroom linen closet with a flashlight and the newest installment of the “Create Your Own Adventure” book. (True story – linen closet. Flashlight. Book.)

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I am me. Hear me roar. *squeak*

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What spurred this emotional vomit? Tim Minchin: (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CDGuPp1np4o)

Sunday, May 25, 2008

Did you know ...

... that, IN CANADA, the plural of "fish" is ... "fish"?

Thus spake The Canadian.

I can't believe that his genetic material will continue after him.

Communication to our youth, or lack thereof

It’s spring. There is a change in the air from the coldness of winter to the melting spring, a renewal, a resurgence. Outside it’s blue skies and birds chirping. But inside my 8th grade classroom it’s a darkened room, a quiet chatter of hushed voices, completely at odds with the birdsong outside. There’s something palpable in the air – a sense of excitement, uncertainty, and curiosity. All I can see are the silhouettes of my classmates from the glare of the TV screen in front of the room, heads close together whispering. Sister Maria shushes us in her thick brogue, “Now, now ladies. It’s time to be quiet”. Then … then, our “educational” video starts.

All I can really recall from class that day is a vague feeling of repugnance and disgust, and a lot more questions than I was willing to ask at the time. Two other things that I remember: red, lots of red, and the sounds … a vacuum-like whirring. This whirring was the medical procedure being done, known as vacuum aspiration or D&C. (I think one of the girls had to leave the room in the middle of the video.)

What I’m describing is the sexual education we received in 8th grade in Catholic School. There was more covered, I’m sure, but what stuck with me almost 20 years later, was that video. We had to have a parental consent form signed to see this video – we were very curious about that. All of us were excited and curious – “what would they show that needed our folks’ okay? It MUST be nudity! I mean, this IS sex-ed, right? Why else would they segregate the girls from the boys, just to show a video?” Well, that’s what our 13-year-old hormonal selves were hoping at any rate. Boy, were we wrong.

The video? It showed an abortion being performed.

In a way, I get why they showed us that – it’s an impressionable age and scare tactics do work. The Church is vehemently anti-birth control and anti-abortion. Brain washing and indoctrination is best done starting at an early age.

Gina was never a friend of mine during our Catholic School years, but once in public high school, we did become friends. Our educational and religious background was the same and our family background was similar. So – why did she wind up pregnant at 15/16 and not me? Why was I able to continue to go out on weekends and experience teenage life, while she was stuck at home, watching her body slowly expand in order to shelter the new life growing within?

Some of that, I think, goes back to those unasked questions from 8th grade. At some point I DID ask. I found trusted adults and asked my questions, I listened in on adult conversations (it’s amazing that people think that kids don’t hear things), I ate books on every subject (though we won’t go into my guilty love of sci-fi and fantasy here) … and I think that search for knowledge might have made the difference. Gina thought (at age 15/16) that you couldn’t get pregnant if it was your first time. Sadly, so did her boyfriend. Talk about a life lesson, eh?

I still think about Gina – wonder how she is doing, what type of person her child has grown into (wow, she must be 16 by now), and hope that she will teach her about sex. Teach her openly and honestly, without relying solely on the school or church to do so.

Education, of any kind, needs to be supported at home, including the uncomfortable subject of sexual education.

I’m of two minds regarding this story (comments in parenthesis are mine) - www.dailygazette.com/news/20..._sexed/.

“The parents said they had collected 163 signatures of residents opposing the introduction of Planned Parenthood materials or organization-developed instruction in the school.” (Now, I’m curious – are these just residents, or are the majority the parents of children in the aforementioned school?)

The article links to a site (www.notinourschool.com) which is the spearhead behind the fracas. I didn’t spend much time looking at the site, but one of the ideas they state is that Planned Parenthood purposely uses bad condoms, so that there will be an increase in a need for their abortion services. Huh?

“Deborah Young said she started researching Planned Parenthood education guidelines and found passages that suggested masturbation is a source of pleasure.” (Uhm, yes. Maybe I was a hyper-sexual child, but I remember being very young and figuring out that certain things just felt good. Of course, I would never ask about it, because I knew it was “dirty”, so I was left to my own devices to explore and not have any idea what was going on, physically. Children are naturally curious creatures – isn’t it better to give them the information about their constantly growing and changing bodies, instead of leaving them in the dark and having them muddle through?)

“Dr. Michael Rochet, a physician, said the school district should search for alternatives for Planned Parenthood programming because he believes the instruction will facilitate curiosity among students.” (First off, I do not want this man as my doctor. Secondly, is curiosity a bad thing? Isn’t curiosity what spurs open discussion between people, friends, lovers, and parent and child?)

But then, he redeems himself in the following statement - “We don’t have to follow everybody else. Let’s lead the pack,” Rochet said.” Now, I understand how people will be quoted out of context, in order to fit in with the authors’ viewpoint. This statement, taken just as it is, I completely agree with. Why not build something that will fit in, and be tailored to, your own community? A program that is built by and for the community? A foundation that is community led, parent led, but with feedback from the people that are being proselytized to?

When I read this story, I could see both sides. However, reading this story through the spectacles of my own life story, I can honestly say I wish I had Planned Parenthood teaching sex-ed in my school. Alongside the abortion video. I think it may have saved me a lot of angst. And questions. A LOT of questions. The private school education I received I would never give up. But, there is a difference in private vs. public school education. Private school has a lot of heart behind it (right or wrong) and public school has a lot of information, with the heart lacking.

I really don’t want this to turn into an issue of pro or anti-choice, pro or anti-abortion. It’s one where I want people to question, to communicate, to dig down deep and find out what they want to teach – what to teach to friends, what to teach lovers, what to teach their children. We create our community, we say what is okay to teach, and what is NOT okay to teach. We are the ones that say what questions are okay to ask, and what ones are not.

But isn’t that what life is? A journey of questions, then seeing where those answers lead us?

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

So tired, so much to say, but I just can't ...

I always thought that “feminism” was a dirty word. That if I stood against the status-quo, stood up for my rights as a human (not just a woman), that I would unbalance … something. That “something” was never fully explained to me, other than, “It’s okay for him – he’s a boy. If a girl did that, she’d be considered a whore.” That is a direct quote from my Ga, when I asked her why my Uncle and (soon to be Aunt) were living together, but not married, and “when could I have a boyfriend?”

I think Ga, if born in a different time, would have been one of those loud, brash, and outspoken feminists – she always believed, down to her marrow, that women and men were equal. Each one could do what the other could. She even had my career planned out for me: I would first become the first CEO of Shell Oil, and then the first woman President of the United States.

But then … then she would say something like the above (that it’s okay for boys, but not girls), and that would chip away at the foundation she was trying so hard to build for me. A foundation that (now) is starting to take hold, one where I am strong, confident in myself, and not afraid (well, not too often afraid) to speak my mind.

I always thought that “feminist” was a dirty word. That if I succumbed to the dreaded feminism movement, I would turn into a misandrist, wear sandals, chop off my hair, move to Berkeley, turn Vegan, and be an unloved spinster. (Okay, well, I did chop off my hair and move to Berkeley, but no sandals for me!)

From Dictionary.com:

Fem-i-nism
1) the doctrine advocating social, political, and all other rights of women equal to those of men.
2) (sometimes initial capital letter ) an organized movement for the attainment of such rights for women.
3) feminine character.

I prefer the third definition: Character: “the aggregate of features and traits that form the individual nature of some person or thing.”

We are all individuals, men and women. Each of us has strengths, each of us has weaknesses, and those vary from person to person. Being lumped into one category or another is unfair to us as singular beings, as well as the whole. Each of us has something to teach, and something to learn. When we start stereotyping based on gender, we lose out on this learning that we call life.

“Good lord woman, what’s got your panties in a twist?!” Quite a few things, actually: Honor killings theriomorph.blogspot.com/2008/....html, recent court decisions www.foxnews.com/story/0,29...173,00.html and www.pnj.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article and Phyllis Schlafly receiving an honorary doctorate degree from Washington University news-info.wustl.edu/news/pag...664.html. (This is also the woman who stated, “By getting married, the woman has consented to sex, and I don't think you can call it rape.”)

Gender equality has come a long way, and I am very happy to live in a country where I am allowed to voice my opinion, and where others can disagree with that opinion, and know I will not be stoned for looking at man by accident.

Some interesting takes are here, some I agree with, some I don’t: viv.id.au/blog/

This wasn’t as coherent or tongue-in-cheek as I wanted, but I’m friggin’ tired and sunburned. Night all.