Thursday, December 22, 2011

North Dakota and Other Jokes

Tonight I hung out with Ruth.  We watched some bad tv together, making fun of the shows. 
When I first got there, Claire and her were talking about crepes, and she asked me if Americans had them.  I told her yes, but I pronounced the word differently, and then she made fun of me. 
We had a good series of giggles, and I laughed so loudly and long that I think I frightened other people away.  Ruth has no tolerance for American television, which means she made a lot of faces of horror and disgust.  I turned on a crappy sci-fi show and we began making fun of how racist and xenophobic it is.  Afterwards, I turned on a show with a hot guy, and things calmed down. 
Ruth was doing some research, and she told me that the Eisenhower Library charges seventy-five cents per page to print information for you.  We talked about how steep and crazy that was.  (It really is.)  The library is in Missouri, and Ruth's not really interested in going all the way out there, "Even if it's in Kansas City, which is big," she said.
"Oh, there's Tennesse," she said, looking on Google maps. 
"It's not that close to Tennesse," I told her.
Then Ruth went off about the middle of the country having absolutely nothing. 
"Have you ever been to North Dakota?" she asked.  Then she started planning her trip there.
Two minutes later: "Did you know that there are two Hicksville's in the U.S.?  Do you want to go?"
I don't want to go, Ruth.
"Why not?  What more do you want in life?"
She is very cross with me for not going.
"It has a mall," she said, trying to get me to come.  And then she started talking about how malls are awful.
"It has a vitamin shop," she said, trying, again, to get me to come.
"I saw an advert for IHOP; I don't remember what it is."
"I might have to go to Hicksville.  It's probably just as shit as the rest of New York."
Then she started using Google's Streetview to look at the city.
"There's nothing here!  I'm going to check out the mall."
Then she found a store that sold shoes for "problem feet."  Which led into a fight over how to pronounce "podatrist." 
She explained to me that England only has dentists.  And then looked up a list of the famous people from North Dakota. 
"Sam Anderson's from North Dakota?" I asked.
"Apparently."
North Dakota has some famous people, who I hadn't heard of.
We both knew who Leonard Peltier was, so I guess we weren't completely out of our league.   
"We can go to a rodeo and a powwow.  It's part of their culture."
Okay, okay. 
"I think they are faking this 14 days of fun.  It won't load!"
Then she started researching weird deaths.  In between, the North Dakota page loaded.  "Look, they have peacocks and snow!  People jog there!"
"People jog here," I say.
"That's because you've never been there," she said. 
They also have the world's largest catfish, which she told me all about. 
"North Dakota has a special place in my heart," she said. 
She got excited for their manufacturing plants and their tax rise.  "They must be crazy," she said, about the latter.  "And they extended it for 2016, because they're crazy." 
I told her I was tired, and she gave me the chance to go to bed.

Friday, October 28, 2011

Benjamin Andre 3000

This might be the best picture of a founding father ever.

Sunday, September 25, 2011

What if the Tea Party Was Black?


I am totally fascinated with this rap song, which asks listeners to consider what a black Tea Party would look like.
I like that this song questions how white people are given far more leeway when it comes to their behavior. They are allowed to make militant speeches or express anger without it being stereotyped as angry or dangerous.

Friday, September 23, 2011

Mother and Baby Giraffe

This is possible the cutest picture featuring giraffes I have ever seen. The Memphis Zoo is super lucky.

Charts and Graphs

Found this great bit from How I Met Your Mother featuring Marshall's graphs and charts. I know lots of people who organize their life this way (myself sometimes included.) I really love that he ranked U.S. Presidents by how dirty they sound. That strikes me as a surprisingly good party game.

Monday, September 19, 2011

Report Cards

There's this great little story today about a man who saved a small group of report cards from the Manhattan Trade School for Girls and the stories he discovered there. This is such a great moment of an amateur historian working with a primary source. I love that he contacted the families and gave them information they might not otherwise have.
That said, I'm not sure if I want my future family members seeing my report cards. Mostly they are decent, but if there are the kinds of notes that these have, then really, even I don't want to know.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Seperate and Unequal

So, a few days ago I wrote about how I didn't think men were obsolete/less important. And thankfully, someone agrees with me. Sort of. Christina Hoff Sommers talks about how men are more likely to run for political office, are more likely to win Nobel prizes, get patents, etc. But then she makes all kind of assumptions about gender that make me want to gag. She assumes men are by nature, more violent. She talks about their economic power as if it was their right and as if capitalism were okay. Oh, and she assumes there's nothing wrong with the military. She basically says that women are separate but equal, even though she should know better than that. And honestly, some of her claims make me feel like she isn't really talking about the original article that touched off all this debate in the first place.
All of this is so frustrating. The obsolete question seems like the wrong framework to even be dealing with this issue. We need to celebrate gains (especially for queer women, women of color, disabled women, etc.) and acknowledge all the work that needs to be done. Men are not inherently anything; it's all cultural, so they can't be obsolete; the only thing obsolete is the way some of them have been raised.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Hope Springs Eternal

So Hanna Rosin's article last year called "The End of Men" was just this totally talked about piece. And it poses some interesting theories, which I found myself revisiting when I read this interview with her.
I'd like to start off by saying that I find no use for men. By this I mean I find no use for the stereotypical bro/vague jerk that most men are. The only men I like are men who act like women and certain flavors of gentlemen. Otherwise, they just a waste. One of the problems I have with this article is its broad category of men. Even my categories are too broad for generalization, so this one is too.
At one point in the article, there's discussion of how men are nowhere near as successful as women, but there still people's boyfriends. And I find this troublesome because I don't want a deadbeat, and frankly, I don't think that should be heterosexual women's one option: someone useless. I'd rather be alone. I'd rather be with someone with goals, even if those goals exist outside of a capitalist framework of valuable work.
I also dislike the assumption that men are somehow going to have less cultural or political power just because they're losing other power. I suspect that male-centrism will probably hold on pretty tight, and there will unfortunately be plenty of women who, with false conscienceness, will let them. And you know, just because women are making money doesn't mean they are controlling it. Women's labor has been more prevalent for a much longer time than Rosin is talking about, but it hasn't been paid. Also, thinking of it within a framework of capitalism is misleading anyway, since everyone within a capitalist system is inherently oppressed.

Jane Austen's Bad Girls

So I read this really interesting little discussion of Jane Austen's bad girls. What struck me about these articles is that often Jane Austen's bad girls are bad for pursuing sex outside of marriage, which automatically makes them bad (and, you'll notice, are always punished for, both by society and by the men who sleep with them.) And, really, that's something I honestly can't get behind.

Monday, September 12, 2011

Paul Simon on 9/11

So yesterday was 9/11. I was planning on avoiding the whole thing, because so much of the politics of it (using it as an excuse to destroy civil liberties, etc.) strikes me as insulting to the victims and their families. They deserve more than just a means to an end.
But yesterday I found myself up in the morning so I watched some of it with my Mom. One of my favorite parts was the below video.

I love Paul Simon's "Bridge Over Troubled Water" which might have been more appropriate, but this clip was great too.

Friday, September 9, 2011

Magic School Bus!


I found this great video of The Magic School Bus online. (Apparently all of the episodes are on YouTube.) I actually remember watching this as a young girl. I totally wanted to have field trips this cool.
What I didn't remember was how delightful the individual kids were. I'd kind of like to know what happened to them post-Miz Frizzle's class.
Speaking of Mis Frizzle: I had no idea that Lily Tomlin did her voice. I guess that explains why I love her so much. I kind of want to see a life action version of this show, with Alex Kingston in the teacher role.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Notes of the Death Penalty

So I spent the morning reading up on the death penalty. I read this story about a young man who may have confessed to a crime he might not have committed. I couldn't believe some of the details of this story: a man killed his possibly cheating wife, stuffed her in a car and then drove around to show people. I can't believe people say there is gender equality when things like this happen.
And then I read up on what John Paul Stevens, the former Supreme Court justice, thinks about the death penalty in reference to a particular book on the subject. There were lots of good facts in here too. Michigan (!) apparently made the revolutionary decision to outlaw the death penalty for everything except treason in 1846. And then after that, they decided that the state had to wait fifteen years before killing someone. And that 130 people have been set free (mostly from DNA evidence) since 1973.

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Following the Bible Literally

I found this really interesting woman who is following the Bible literally, or a literally as possible. What got my attention first about this woman, Evans, is that she is writing about gender issues and not motherhood, which I am sort of sick of reading about. That she can think critically about religion intrigues me further.
Following the Bible literally would be both easy and hard for me:
Dressing modesty Generally not a problem for me, but it does make shopping hard. Also, defining modest is kind of a problem. Would this include covering my head, because, if so, I've been failing on that one for a long time.
Submitting to my husband Something I don't have, but submitting to my father would be impossible. Ironically, he would totally disapprove of this project.
Removing myself while menstruating I have friends who would probably love to follow this rule since they basically end up doing it anyway. I would hate this, especially since this doesn't seem to affect my life anywhere near the way it affects others.
Growing my hair out Got this one covered: I hate getting my hair done. Please, I would love an excuse.
Staying silent in churches I dislike that women have to do this, but at the same time, I hate people who talk in church. Church is a time to talk to God; it's the one time of the week most people do it so seriously, they can actually make an effort to not carry on about what someone is wearing.
...Actually, that was not as bad as I thought it would be. The other general rules of the Bible (swearing, honoring elders, staying away from blended fabric) would be harder for me.

Something Wicked Comes This Way

I really need to stop shopping online for books, because I am constantly finding new things I want to read (and also, not getting any real reading done.) For example, I really want to take a look at Wicked Plants based on a interview and review that said it was particularly gory.
Also, Freud did cocaine?

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

ICP, Jack White and Mozart Walk Into a Bar...

Okay, so Insane Clown Posse and Jack White are teaming up to rework a Mozart song about...well, you can read about it. Mostly, I'm just too busy trying to figure out why Meg White wasn't invited along, because seriously, that is the only thing that would be more surreal.
You know what, nevermind: nothing can make this any weirder.

Monday, August 29, 2011

Signed Bible

Honestly, Jesus, you dot your i's with hearts? I never did that, not even as a little girl.

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Only in New York

So, reading up on history today, and apparently there was a mayor of New York who tried to have George Washington killed. Yes, that George Washington.
I tend to tell my friends stories from history a fair amount of the time. I think some of them think I'm making them up, which is why I can't tell them this story because it is way too crazy. There are too many details that sound made up, like the fact that this idea was planned out in a tavern. The moment that came out of my mouth everyone would think this was a tall tale. Me? I think it's the sort of thing that could only happen in New York.

Monday, August 22, 2011

Good Grief

I guess this is what I get for not paying attention to literature, because apparently everyone is writing grief memoirs.
I don't know if I particularly care or mind that it's all about grief right now. I've tried writing about grief; it's hard. It usually requires a certain amount of backstory to make the readers understand it. And it's so easy to slip into ridiculous language and metaphors. Really, I would wish people would write about difficult subjects more often.
Otherwise, I really liked this article because I learned some things. I had no idea who had founded the five stages of grief, for example. (This woman also insisted that grief must be told to be healed, an idea I also really like.) I also loved the term "writing meat" that Muriel Spark used. Seems like a really wonderful term. And apparently T.S. Eliot used the image of "shoring these fragments against our ruin," which I also really like.

Bachman and Terrorism

Nate and I have been talking (and making jokes about) Michele Bachman all summer. Today I read that one of Bachman's staffer was charged with terrorism.
As weird as this might be to say, I'm a little relieved. When I saw it had to do with Uganda, the first thing I thought was "Oh no, this is going to be about one her staffers being involved with that anti-homosexual movement there that has so quickly become violent" especially since other religious right leaders got involved and (if there is anything even vaguely Christian in them) hopefully regret it.
However, this charge of terrorism is really fascinating. It is the sort of thing that Republicans would accuse Democrats of doing. I wonder if the mainstream media will report this and what they will say. (And, obviously, what Bachman will have to say about it.)

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Museum Sign


I couldn't help but smile when I saw this. I really hope an intern did this.

Friday, August 19, 2011

"Rocket Scientist" by Teddybears


I have this weird love of science songs. (See what I mean in that last sentence about weird?)
I actually first got into this song because of Eve, who I always liked for being a strong woman in the songs I heard her rap on. And then I really fell in love with this song for the heavy beats that sort of reminded me of a techno-influenced Spoon.
There's also something just really silly about this song. I think if someone read me these lyrics, I would think they were awful, but hear I am, dancing to this song.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Uncontacted Tribe


So, I hate to admit it, but I initially started watching this video because Gillian Anderson was narrating it.
But it's really cool. I'm so use to hearing narratives about how "civilized" people come into these "uncivilized" people's lives and destroy their culture. I am so glad that they are trying not to do that here and are even trying to prevent invaders.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Harry Potter Ruined My Life

Today I happened to read this article called "Regrets of a Semiprofessional Potterphile." The author discusses how it was a relief that Harry Potter is officially over. No more new movies or books.
I remember when the last book came out, Sam said something to me about what a relief it would be to finally be done with the story. That word "relief" stuck in my head. I didn't remember feeling relief but maybe a little bit of closure. And, moreover, the best kind of closure, the kind that makes you look back fondly but still with a sense of wondering what happened afterward.
Reading this article and reflecting back on some of the negative things people have said about their Harry Potter experiences have made me grateful my experience was mostly positive. Most of the negative things about my own experience happened early on with the cultural dominance of the series and not later on. I'm wondering if my ability to pull back from the books and get obsessed with other things (school in general, history, Robert Sean Leonard, Lost) was good for me. (And maybe what didn't happen to everyone, though I can't obviously speak for themselves.)
Hilariously enough, my obsession probably ended around the time when the fifth book came out, which, considering how long ago that way and how long this thing lasted, seems early. I saw some of the movies (often soured on what I thought was poor depictions of the books) and I read the books the moment they came out, but that was sort of it. I didn't read much fanfiction or talk anymore on Internet chat forums. And when I did chat about the series, it was usually because someone would bring it up. For me, the series was done before it really was done, and maybe that's made a big difference in my reaction to it. Honestly, seeing the last movie actually made me a little nostalgic (in the good way I mentioned before, the look-back-and-think-fondly) and want to go back to Hogwarts for a weekend or two.

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Sickish

I was planning on going to a picnic, but I just sort of fell apart as I was trying to get ready, so I laid down in my bed and decided to just forget about it. I feel bad about this, because I said I was coming and because I don't really think I deserved an invitation in the first place, but I had this massive headache. I don't get headaches much, but in the last week I've had them every day.
My Mom came in to check on me because she remembered my plans. (I wish she didn't, honestly.) And I told her I didn't feel well. My Dad stopped in to tell me he was going out to get some sandwiches for my Mom and her friend (who was visiting) and would I like something. And I asked for one too, in the hopes that some food would make me feel better.
When my Dad came back I went to the kitchen to eat, wearing my sunglasses. I still had a headache and light was really bothering me, and my Mom likes it to be super sunny around the house all the time, which would be fine, except in situations like this. My Mom's friend thought the sunglasses were hilarious. I was too tired to get offended by this or by my Mom's insistence to talk politics, even though I've spent about three years telling her I don't want to hear her uneducated opinions or watch her political shows.
The medication in the house appears to be migratory, because every time I need it (which is once every six months, so, not often), it is somewhere else. So I had to ask. Finally, having found it, my Mom felt my head and thought maybe I had a fever. I hadn't even bothered with thought beyond the basic thoughts of how soon I could go back to bed, which I promptly did.
I'm feeling much better now.

Helping

So when Ashley told me she wanted to see The Help, I groaned. (I can't remember if it was inward or not.) Like, honestly, I would rather not see another movie about benevolent white people who have no sense of larger structural oppression. I don't need to see a movie about that; I'm around white people who already think that and I see it on tv when I am trying to avoid blatant misogyny.
So I was reading this article which is written for young clergywomen about the same book, and I am so glad someone finally laid a particular set of thoughts out for me that I think I've been circling for awhile but have struggled to articulate. The author writes that "the challenge of living amidst privilege can be that Jesus' teachings are incredibly indicting to our own lives, which is part of what makes stories focused on morals so much more inviting, and so much more tempting, than stories focused on ethics." Although I had never thought about it in terms of this book, I have always found all the prattle of most of my fellow Christians to be disappointingly about living to some vague moral stance more based on things like not having sex before marriage or abortions. I can't even think of a fellow Christian peer who has ever once mentioned structural problems or Jesus's work on said subject. (I had a priest who would give sermons on religious tolerance and women's unpaid and unacknowledged labor, and seriously, that guy was mostly awesome. On the other side of the religious spectrum, I can think of a few atheists who had it together when it came to these kinds of problems.)
I've been meditating frequently on how disappointed I am with other Christians, because I suspect the why is important, and I think this might be a very big answer on the why. Because, ultimately, if we aren't against the forces that cause things like poverty and discrimination, that, honestly, what are we in this religion for? Are we here on earth as Christians because we want to improve our communities or because we need something to make us feel superior? If we focus on ending injustices, we are here for the community. If we focus on morals not only are we going to fall short on what God calls us to do, but we're going to end up tending to our egos and not the flock.
As some other notes, I really like the rest of this article for pointing out some of the difficulties with race. I loved this quote that the author brings up "For the dishonesty upon which a society is founded makes every emotion suspect, makes it impossible to know whether what flowed between two people was honest feeling or pity or pragmatism." In this instance, it is used in the context of race, but could easily be applied to other power structures.

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Pajamas in the Afternoon

So, I apologize for being gone for nearly a month. I got sweep up with the rest of my life and forgot to write to you.
My sister has been hanging around with Nikki a lot lately, which is fine. Mostly they seem to go swimming or go for walks or have marathons watching Sex and the City. (After years of being a fan of the show myself, my sister seems to have developed an interest in it.)
Anyway, the other day I was coming out of my room still dressed in my pajamas in the late afternoon. I've increasingly become of the opinion that if no one is going to see me anyway, then it doesn't matter what I wear. Which would be a fine sentiment and all, but I looked up and saw Nikki standing there, taking off her shoes.
She said hi and we sort of chatted briefly. I admitted that I had no idea she would be coming over. (Leave it to my sister to never mention something like that.) I had on a t-shirt and long purple pajama pants, but I still really wanted to be more covered up, so I slowly backed away and went back to my room for a hoodie. I don't think Nikki noticed, but I'm a little embarrassed by the whole thing.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Tree Terrorism

I don't know what anyone's heard, but Auburn's trees still haven't recovered, and it might be awhile before anyone can tell what will happen to them.
Dan calls this 'tree terrorism,' and it is a good way of looking at it. It is really sad someone from an opposing fan got so mad that he poisoned a bunch of old oaks, which, really, is incredible petty and, considering trees don't actually root for football, stupid. If those trees die, it'll be sad because they were so old and well-taken care of, up until this incident.
There's been the suggestion that maybe they should just roll them until they fall down, though that strikes me as potentially dangerous, since people roll after a game, when they are (hopefully) jubilant and usually drunk.
Until we know for sure, good luck, Auburn trees.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

In Honor of Jane Austen

Jane Austen died on July 18, 1817, and in honor of that, Tony, who often comments on this blog, posted photos of things connected to her, like her home, the Jane Austen Center in Bath and the places that showed up in her writing. What a nice tribute. Some of the photos, like those of the coast, are absolutely stunning.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Devil's Islands

I love myths and legends. I really enjoyed this brief one, which is about the lesser known islands of New York City. I like that these islands were considered scary and were associated with Satan. How delightful is that?

Interracial Marriage

Being that I am a massive romantic, I'm really interested in interracial marriage. (Don't tell anyone! I cannot have guys figuring out that the best way to win me over is to write me letters and poems!)
And so I really liked this article on interracial marriage, because even though I knew it happened, I wasn't sure how often, and it's good to have an accurate picture, especially since it makes having arguments with people easier for me.
So, the takeaways:
Asians and Latino/as intermarry at higher rates than African Americans. This rate jumps if we limit it to U.S.-born Asian Americans, Latino/as, and African Americans and not immigrants. In about 3/4 of Asian American cases and about half of Latino/as cases, their partner is white.
(This leads me to wonder how/if they count LBGT, since some places in the U.S. allow for gay marriage, some allow for partnerships similar to marriage, others don't allow anything.)

Monday, July 18, 2011

Voldemort's Dance

So, I know, I have failed at blogging once again. But I did go see Harry Potter (which I will hopefully one day tell you about more in full.) I just really wanted to share this little image with you, because I remember thinking something similar when I saw the movie.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Porn Crazy

Reading this article called, and I kid you not, Is Pornography Driving Men Crazy?
What strikes me as bogus is that none of the studies cited compare men who watch porn versus men who don't. I can think of a lot of young men in my own circle of friends who would probably die of sheer embarrassment before watching something like that.
One of the things that I wonder if it is true is the claim that men are having more trouble with impotence and premature ejaculation because of porn. All those idealized images of men in porn would probably make any man feel less than, and I'm wondering if it's similar to the way models in fashion magazines encourage women to starve themselves in order to have the perfect body.
I also think it is really disturbing that hardcore porn is used to desensitize doctors and soldiers. There's something really awful about that, about the statement it makes on the kinds of people we're training.
Part of me really wants to poll my guy friends about this subject, though I think with friends like Jimmy and Nate, I'm not going to get very far.

Edgard Varèse's Ameriques


Mark is an expert on classical music. And I'm not, in the least, and my biggest hole of knowledge is on "modern" classical music. I've been looking around for stuff to educate myself.
Mark actually doesn't talk about music all too often to me, and I'm wondering if it's a reflection of my ignorance or because he doesn't want to talk about it. (He was once studying to be a musician, but quit about two years ago. I don't know the details as to why, but maybe it's a sore subject.)
In any case, all I really know about this piece is that it's from the twenties.

Monday, July 11, 2011

Malta

...So despite my love of European history, I really don't know anything about the country of Malta, other than it was once controlled by the British and is hardcore Catholic. To fix this oversight, I sat down and read a short article on traveling to the country.

History Things I Learned:

Carthage and Rome duked it out for Malta. Obviously, the Romans won in the end.

St. Paul brought the christian faith there, like he seemingly did everywhere else in the Mediterraean.

During the Middle Ages, the island was controlled by Muslims. Again, not a surprise as other parts of the Mediterraean was controlled by Muslims, most famously southern Spain, but also southern France and parts of coastal Italy.

Napoleon, a native of next door Corsica, conquered the island and stole pretty much anything he could, which is what he did elsewhere, like in Egypt.

Lord Byron traveled there. I wonder if that trip was related to his infamous Greek trip that ended so badly. Also, he complained about the streets, which totally sounds like him, because he's such a whiner.

I could probably conclude here that Malta is basically like its sister European countries in terms of history, but this might be simplistic.

Amazing Side Notes:

They have a Popeye theme park. I don't really know what to make of that, but if I ever go there, that might be a fun place to go, though I suspect I would go just to say that once I went to a Popeye theme park.

Maltese is a blend of Italian and Arabic. Sounds like my sort of language.

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Blogger in Draft

To all my readers out there who are on blogger: how do you guys feel about the new version of blogger in draft?
Although it is very fancy, I really dislike the color choices of the program.  Everything is so small and the light orange of some of the text is hard to read.  It gives me a headache just looking at it. 
I'm also not a fan because I really don't have the time to learn another thing right now. 

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

6 Feet Under

Found this great article about how the term six feet under came about.  Shocker: it's related to the Great Plague.  (Does everything even the least bit related to death has to come back to this plague?) 
The short and short of it is this: to prevent the plague from coming back, six feet became the standard for burial.  (Which begs the question: what were they doing before the plague in terms of how deeply people were buried?) 

Sunday, July 3, 2011

Dancing in September


I love this song.  Years ago, I went on a trip with my Mom, sister, and some family friends.  They left an Earth, Wind and Fire CD, which I totally "borrowed" and listened to. 
I love to dance to this song. 

Saturday, July 2, 2011

Tumblr Crush


I've sort of fallen in love with tumblr as a format.  And then I came across this video of the founder, and I fell in love with him.  He seems like both a down to earth person and very poised and smart. 
Does anyone else think this guy looks like Christopher Gorham?

Friday, July 1, 2011

Found Poem

I'm not usually too impressed with found poems, but this little one is sort of perfect

Thursday, June 30, 2011

Do It For Detroit


So there's this fundraiser to build a neighborhood to bring Detroit's young people back to the city.  As a young person who loves the idea, there's a part of me that is so proud to see people organizing and doing something positive.
But then there is the part of me that feels like raising money isn't going to be enough.  What needs to happen is that there needs to be a complete overhaul of all business is done.  The auto industry sucked the city dry by trying to keep labor as cheap as possible, and then when they discovered cheaper labor pools, moving their factories elsewhere. 
If there's going to be real change, it's going to have to involve reworking the entire city. 

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Atari Teenage Riot

This afternoon I discovered a new band called Atari Teenage Riot.  It combines the anger and politics of punk with techno beats.   

After I watched this video, I was totally intrigued.

I really love this song "Revolutionary Action." I love the screaming. I love the symbolism of so many of the workers losing their faces.

There's something much more metal about this song, espeically the intro, though they seem to be doing their classic punk screaming and techno beats.

When it comes to "Dead For Me," there's something about the bass guitar that reminds me of Good Charlotte. (Good Lord, I haven't listened to that band in ages.) I really like that there's a woman in this band. One of the many critiques of punk rock was what a men's scene it is, and so even having one girl around is better than nothing. I don't know who did one of the girl's makeup, but I love the huge almost a black lightning streak going through her face.
It's like the politics of The Matrix was transferred into a soundtrack.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Toronto Women's Bookstore

Found this intense looking Women's Bookstore in Toronto.  They look really cool.  I totally wish I could go there and volunteer, but alas, I have no plans to go to Toronto anytime soon. 

Poetry Slam

Went to a poetry slam.  I went early because I was friends with some of the people I knew who were putting it on and I wanted to be helpful, but when I got there, I discovered there wasn't much for me to do.  I fooled around with the music that was playing before the slam.  Someone had made a mix CD years ago, but the intern couldn't get it to actually play on the laptop, and neither could I.  We tried to get last.fm to play, and it was playing, but we couldn't get any sound to come out. 
The poet they brought in was really nice.  He walked in with Freddy, who I hadn't seen in a few weeks.  Freddy said hi to me and then wandered off.  I actually didn't realize this was the poet, because he looked so different from his pictures.  He was shorter and his hair was neater.  He was really skinny and totally dressed like a hipster.  And he stuck out his hand and shook mine. 
He had lived in New York City and Portland, and was currently in Austin.  He talked to us about living there, and there was a part of me that was totally jealous. 
I then realized as we were getting seats together that I had no idea if Mark was coming or not and hadn't even thought of him.  Sacre bleu, I found myself thinking.  How could I?
I texted him, asking if he was coming.  A few minutes later he texted back, saying that he was coming, but was going to be two minutes late.  I laughed, but was totally surprised to discover that we have an injoke.
Mark sat with me, but he talked to one of the other inters, who he was in a playwriting class with. 
Stephanie introduced him, mentioning that slam poetry was often political and that was fine and good, but it was nice to have slam poets who saw the beauty in life. 
He's like the Mary Oliver of slam poets, I thought.  Stephanie loves Mary Oliver, for reasons that sometimes escape me.  I think she's an okay poet, but she always writes about the same thing, nature, and I've never read anything of her's that struck me as extraordinary, just fine.  Stephanie always talks about how Oliver is so interested in joy in her poetry.  Maybe I'm a miserable person but her poetry never makes me joyful and it frequently bores me. 
The performance was amazing.  The poet had all this amazing imagery.  I loved his voice, which sounded so ordinary but powerful.  I'm still not sure how he managed to do this, because usually when poets read they have their "serious poet reading serious poetry that is going to change the world" voice, and he just sounded like a storyteller from a mythical place. 
He told stories in between his poems.  He talked about how his Mom use to run a bookshop, which might be the best Mom job ever.  He would go there every day after school (again, so jealous.)  And that he loves to find new independent bookshops because of that.
He talked about how he read one of his poems once, which had a mermaid tattoo coming to life, and was interpreted to be about crack.  Which is really funny but kind of horrifying.  It sounds like the unnecessary freaking out of my own mother. 
He also talked about how much he worked and traveled and performed his poetry.  He said that if he was a musician he wouldn't have a chance in terms of making it, but that people were willing to shell out money for poetry. 
"Poetry," he said, imitating people.  "Yeah okay?" 
This gives me hope that maybe I could make it has a poet one day.  I always worry that there isn't really a market for poetry, because I swear to God that is the number one article I always read concerning poetry.  "No one reads poetry except poets, and not even them" type of headlines.  But maybe it's not all doom and gloom.  Maybe there are people out there who will listen and read. 
I realized as he began his last poem that I had heard of this guy before.  A while back, Austin showed me a video of this poem being performed, and I was totally stunned to hear it. 
I don't remember how, but occasionally Austin and I would hang out and talk poetry.  He showed me videos of slam poets.  He was always into slam poetry more than I am.  I think slam poets are amazing, but I have no talent for doing what they do.  Austin, however, did. 
Austin eventually left school, for reasons I'm still not sure of.  I was sad to hear he left, because he didn't say goodbye.  And it meant he didn't graduate. 
After the last poem, the poet took questions, and the first person asked:
"What do you dream about?"
"Seriously?" I said.  Mark laughed, but he was misinterpreting my words.  As crazy as that question was, it wasn't really that I was having trouble with: it was the voice. 
It was Austin's. 
As the poet answered (which was not terribly impressive.  I think he might have said something about fishermen), I scanned the crowd.  Austin was on the other side of the room.  It was too dark to see clearly, but I thought I could make him out.  He seemed to be wearing the same long black coat that he had always favored in the time I knew him and a knit cap, again, that he had always favored. 
No way, I thought. 
There were other questions, mostly about what the poet read and symbolism.  After he stopped answering questions, he sold and signed books and gave people hugs.  He came over to the side of the room Mark and I were sitting at and we sat there and talked.  Stephanie came over to tell us that she was taking all of us out for a late night snack. 
"Why not drinks?" I asked. 
"Not everyone can drink," she reminded me.  Oh yeah.  I forgot that she had interns to watch over, who were fairly young. 
Mark and I sat there waiting, and eventually I saw Austin.  One of us hailed the other, I don't remember. 
Austin came out saying right away that he was getting along again with a particular professor I knew.  I was sort of surprised because that was so not the first thing I was concerned about.  I mean, not that I don't want Austin to be picking fights or anything, but what I wanted to know was what he had been doing. 

Gay Bar History

I spent part of today reading up on the history of gay bars.  The worst thing about reading this kind of stuff is how much it makes me want to actually go to some of these places.
I really want to check out The Atlantic House, even though I can't imagine a reason why I would ever be in Massachusetts.  It sounds like a really fascinating history: it's existed since the 18th century and it was a regular haunt of artists like Tennessee Williams, Eugene O'Neill and Andy Warhol.  
(As a sidenote: will I know that I have made it as a writer when people are aware of where my regular haunt is?  And is it a problem I don't currently have one?)
One of the worst things about reading this article is I found myself thinking about how much I would love an excuse to go to these places.  
And as a last note: How disappointing is it to hear The Double Header isn't much of a gay bar anymore? 

Hipster Wedding

I'm not really interested in weddings, but I stumbled across these photos from what looks like one of the most hipster weddings ever, and I kind of fell in love with certain things. 
I really love the bridesmaid dresses, even though they didn't seem to flatter all of the women in the party.  I want each of these dresses, honestly, just for myself to wear wherever. 
And I'm totally a sap for images of people loving each other.  I'm trying really hard to resist, but to no avail. 

Monday, June 27, 2011

General Culture

Read this really interesting article on why general culture isn't important
For myself, I'm not sure if I have general culture in the first place, though there are a lot of things I'm interested in that would fall under general culture.  (Well, I guess.  The writer never defines what "general culture" is, and I've never heard the term before.)  The writer talks about how someone talking to him about German poetry makes him want to scream.  But I guess that leads me to the question of "What does he talk about?"  There's never much of an answer, though he implies relationships are what most people want to talk about.
Reading this article, I found myself imagining going on a date with someone like this, and I was struck by how boring talking to someone like that is.  If I wanted to talk to someone about relationships, I'd probably do so with my friends, where they already know me; I don't want to talk relationships with strangers and certainly not on a date. 
I agree that learning practice skills are great and that some people are maybe emphasizing the wrong thing when they focus on learning things for the sake of other people instead of learning about something because they care, but the entire article strikes me the wrong frame for the problem.  I don't know anyone who knows things just to know things and I would much rather talk to someone about what they like because then I'll actual know something about them.  If someone isn't interesting, then I'd rather figure that early on, and then move on.
Of course, the entire point of that guy's website is how to manipulate people, but then I'm not interested in wasting my time on an endeavor like that either.  

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Out with Jack

Went out with Jack for a drink.  I think maybe we were just nostalgic, because we talked about some of old friends and the memories we had. 
Jack is one of those people who views high school as an okay experience.  Since Jack and I went to high school together, this is a view that kind of boggles my brain.  He was such a nice guy, but occasionally people were awful to him, and he witnessed the same injustices and problems that I did.  I guess I am less easily impressed. 
As much as like Jack, sometimes he does this thing which indicates he's either not listening or he doesn't want to listen.  He always does this when I state how happy I am, which these days is anywhere from moderate to almost perfect.  I'm not sure what this is about, exactly.  Maybe he thinks I am lying about my happiness?
...I have to admit that I haven't been as happy recently as I once was, but happiness is a lot about attitude and not necessarily what you do or do not have.  If you make it a point to try to be happy, it makes a big difference to how you address the unhappy circumstances in your life. 
And this attitude is a change for me, at least in comparison with my high school self.
This is the one thing that I think is preventing me from being closer to Jack.  I want to get closer to him, but I suspect he doubts my honesty.  It hurts a little, to recognize that.  And it hurts to realize that he's probably keeping me at arm's length. 

Baby Shower

I went to a baby shower with Madison, Lisa, Tori and Ashley.  Well, actually, at the beginning, it was just Madison, Lisa, Tori and I.  Ashley is notoriously late for things, and although no one was particularly surprised, no one was terribly happy about it either. 
Since the party was around lunch time, they served us salad.  There were different types of salad, and at one point Madison and I decided to switch like an old married couple.  A woman we didn't know who was sitting at our table thought this was really funny, even though Madison and I have been friends for ages. 
Madison talked to us about going on a road trip with her boyfriend soon and Lisa talked about her new job.  Tori, who was helping out with the party, was mostly too busy doing stuff to really sit and talk to us. 
Ashley finally showed up after most of the food had disappeared.  She was an hour and forty minutes late.  Tori had even lied to her and told her the party was starting a half hour before it really was, and which means she thought she would be two hours late.  Tori went and got her a salad. 
I understand that everyone has off days.  And I get that sometimes life gets in the way, and sometimes traffic's bad.  But Ashley is always late.  I don't remember anything that she hasn't been late for.  And I think she's gotten to the point where it's just insensitive. 
When she was late to this party, she told us that there was someone at the house visiting her sister and she decided to "visit with them."  I can't believe Ashley was dumb enough to say this, because it sent the very clear message that the party and her friends weren't as important.  She would have been better off not offering an explanation at all. 
Also, she was dressed exactly as I was: green shirt and black slacks.  The only difference was that I had on scarf too. 
When it came time to open gifts, Tori helped move them to the new Mom and Dad.  Their nieces, who were both pretty young, were helping her with the small gifts.  They danced around and got in the way of the aunt who was taking pictures.  At one point, the younger niece had a ribbon stick to her shoe.  I got her to come over to my table. 
"Can I have your foot?" I asked.  She lifted her leg up and I tore the ribbon off. 
Tori watched all of this and commented "I can't believe you think you're bad with children." 
I don't think I'm always bad, but I do hate a lot of children.  I know that sounds really terrible, but I have low tolerance for adults who are mean or stupid; why should I like children who are the same way?  I realize some children grow out of these things, but less than you would think. 
I think I would with raising a child in certain circumstances.  I think I'd be okay adopting a quiet child who could keep themselves entertained.  I'd prefer a girl because I'd be mortified if I raised a son who treated women badly.  And if I was raising my child with a partner, especially a male partner, I would want to emulate genderless behavior.  So, I would want to be more like a father, in charge of things like punishment, and not always the nurturing parts given to moms and women. 
Obviously, this is all very specific.  And probably would never really work out in real life.  So thus, I don't really want children. 
At one point, the new Mom pulled out a baby outfit that was stripped with two types of green, and I commented that the baby would look like Steve from Blue's Clues, which made Madison laugh. 
After the party was over, we stayed around to help out.  I threw away trash and then took the tablecloths outside to beat out the little bits of things. 
There was a ton of left over ribbon, which I took.  I don't know why, but lately I've been thinking I want to tie my hair back with ribbon. 
Tori got these great frames decorated with Noah's Ark and all the animals on them, and put a picture in it for everyone.  This was a totally great idea.
After the party, Tori invited us back to her apartment for drinks.  The previous occupants had apparently left behind alcohol, and she wanted us to try it.  It was wine, which is not something I really drink, but I was fine with that.  Free alcohol is free.  
We sat around the kitchen table and drank.  Madison played some music and I sang along with her at parts of songs I knew.  

Latinos and Latinas in Hollywood

Reviewing an article on actors who "you didn't know were Latino" today, and finding myself sort of worried about the things said in the article. 
First, I'm always bothered when actors "pass" as white, because it sends the message that their actual race or races is unacceptable.  Raquel Welch, Jamie-Lynn Sigler, members of Jersey Shore and especially Alexis Bledel have all made careers out of playing white or coded as white characters.  Bledel played one of the white main characters in a alarmingly white town of Gilmore Girls and the Greek American character in The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants.  Fergie may or may not be passing, depending on who you ask.  I suspect most of my friends think she's white, but she's made a point of working with other people of color. 
Benjamin Bratt is quoted in the article as being disappointed at the lack of roles that Latino men have, which is part of what makes passing so bothersome.  Passing as white often just marginalizes people of color more than they already were, and in a world were they are always being marginalized, this is problematic. 
The other thing about this article is that it reveals the complicated nature of identity.  Harry Shum, Jr., despite being coded as Asian, was both from Chinese parents in Mexico. 
As a last note, I don't feel comfortable about the statements made some of the actors.  At one point, they mention a particular singer got his talent from being Honduran.  This kind of stuff is based on stereotypes, and even a positive stereotype can have a negative effect on people. 

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Busked

Read this article on busks, which were one of the many devices used, mostly by women, to make their clothing stiff. 
I realize this is a totally historically accurate thing, but when I read stuff like this it makes me want to throw up.  I complain all the time about my jeans being tight; when I see women wore things like this I think "there's no way I could handle that." 
There's mention in this article that one busk has a love message on it.  It might make an interesting detail of a romance story.

Minute to Win It with Grandma

Went to visit my Grandma.  She was excited to see my Mom and me.  And she was reading a sports magazine when we found her.  Among other things, it had an article about next year's Final Four.  They postulated that next year it would be the traditionally good at basketball schools, including MSU, which was on the cover.  (They were also big fans of North Carolina.)  I read bits and pieces of the article after she abandoned it, including anything on MSU and Butler.  Paul, Jimmy, Nate and Danny talk sports a lot, and I always feel lame for not knowing as much as they do.  (Though I honestly don't know if anyone knows as much as Danny does.)  So I try to keep up with the basics. 
Grandma wanted to watch this show called Minute to Win It, which I've never seen before.  I have to say, it's not really my kind of show.  I tend not to watch game shows, and when I do, the ones I like are trivia games, which is why Paul and I once had a standing Jeopardy watching date on Mondays.  (I still watch it occasionally, and I like to play along, because blurting out stuff and using my brain are both my cups of tea.) 
Anyway, the show is mostly silly and strange things, involving household items, like stacking cups in a certain way or throwing ping pong balls.  I wasn't really impressed, but I feel like the stuff on the show would make fun games to play with friends at a party.  Possibly they'd be even more fun with alcohol. 
The show had a young male teacher and an older Mom, and they were pretty cute together.  Then the next contestants were an older Dad (who looked weirdly German) and a cheerleader for some Atlanta team.  The cheerleader reminded me vaguely of Amanda.  The guy was kind of creepy.  A lot of the energy felt false and contrived and there was something about most of the contestants that mostly made me think they just wanted to get on tv. 

Poe Movie


I love this classic picture of Poe because he looks so self-aware and mocking about how crazy he is.
 Apparently there's going to be a movie of one of my favorite poets, Poe!  I'm pretty excited for it. 
I'm still a little iffy on the casting of John Cusack.  He's such a light personality and I usually associate him with comedies, not the sort of horror and tragedies that Poe wrote.  (I know that Poe didn't write tragedies in the classical sense, but many of this stories ended on a note of despair, with families destroyed or people locked up and starving to death or in an obsessive quest for gold on an island.  Even poems like "The Raven" are about being haunted by a dead love one.  Hard to see that as cheerful.) 
When I think about who they should of cast, my first instinct was to go with Johnny Depp, but as I think about it, I feel like Stuart Townsend or Robert Downey Jr. would be great choices too.  Of course, I'd really like to see Brandon Lee do it, but, unfortunately, we'll never see him do anything anymore.  (R.I.P. Brandon!) 
But guess I'm going to have to eat crow (...oh, Brandon Lee!) on this one because I just saw some pictures of John Cusack as Poe and I have to admit, I'm impressed.  He doesn't really look like Poe, but he does look like a BAMF, a gothic, wizardry BAMF.  And it's making me intrigued as to what this movie is going to be like. 
I really love that Hollywood appears to be on a slight Victorian kick, with movies on Sherlock and Queen Victoria. 

Friday, June 24, 2011

Party at Erin's

When I first got there, I was surprised by how few people were there yet, as I came fashionably late.  I wasn't intending to be fashionably late so much as I got talking to Paul, Jimmy, Nate and Sam and then realized I was late.  
Jamie was there, and I decided to sit with her, which immediately Erin made an issue of.  Erin thinks something strange is going to with Jamie and I, which is ridiculous.  I mean, I like her, obviously; we're friends.  But Erin just gets really weird about the two of us talking to each other. 
Last year, the three of us, (Erin, Jamie and I) were in a class, and Jamie was always quiet.  She almost never talked.  Most of the other (predominately girls) were untalkative too, but because I knew Jamie, I spoke to her before class.  Erin did mention once that I was the only person who ever talked to her, which was sort of the point.  Jamie is nice, but shy.  Just because someone is shy doesn't mean they should be ignored.  I make it a special point to try to engage shy people, especially shy girls, because I know how hard it is in a new social setting with people you don't know.  It's easy to let your be unheard. 
I think one of the other problems was that I walked in and there happened not to be any chairs available, which wasn't necessarily a big deal, but a young man (thankfully, sitting next to Jamie) got out of his chair immediately and offered it to me.  I don't need men to always do the chivalric thing, but I try to be appreciative when they do.  I think the fact that I was dressed in a white dress with black curly designs all over it annoyed Erin too, because this wasn't necessarily the sort of party to come dressed up to.  Whatever.  I need more excuses to be dressed up for, and I'm happy to take whatever I can get. 
One of my many frustrations with this party was that I couldn't get a straight answer out of anyone about it.  I was invited, but no one could tell me when it was going to be.  Or where. 
So I was a little annoyed to discover that this party was BYOB, because seriously, no one said anything.  I had to nag Erin just to get her to tell me what was going on.  (And then happened to run into someone who actually did tell me what was up.) 
This is like in March when I went to a party with her and Carrie.  Before I got there, Carrie gave me three different addresses to the place, all of which turned out to be other places.  (I walked in on another concert, and when I asked about the event, the people there thought I was mad.)
Liz, who, for some reason was there, implied that I was stupid not to know better.  I actually could have brought something for myself, as I passed multiple stores in my walk over.
Liz isn't part of this group of friends, though obviously she's friends with Erin.  She's been hanging around a lot lately.  Erin told me in March that Liz had broken up with this guy that she's been with for years.  I felt bad for her because of the circumstances Erin described, which made it sound like this guy freaked out on her.
All that said, sometimes Liz can be really snarky, and I'm not sure how to react.  I always try to be nice, though it's a struggle for me sometimes.
Jamie very sweetly stepped in and offered to me some white wine, which sounded good to me.  We trooped downstairs to borrow glasses.  (I get the distinct impression Erin didn't plan much for this party, as the only thing she mentioned doing was cleaning.  To be fair, the cleaning probably took a long time.)
The basement is where the kitchen is and the huge table everyone eats at.  I'd been down here a couple of times before.  As Jamie and I trooped down there, we found one group of people trying to study.  (Someone later mentioned that Erin had probably pissed her housemates off by having this party at this time of year.)  When we turned into the dining area, there were Marguerite and Virginia.  I said hi to both of them, kind of surprised to see Virginia but not so much to see Marguerite as she lives there.  They both looked like they were working on homework, Virginia with her computer out.  Marguerite was working on an art project.  Part of her project was to illustrate some things, including a poem I had offered to let her use.  I asked her if that part was done, and she said not yet.
"I love that poem!" she gushed.  "You said some very true things and I love that you used a snake!"  (The snake was part of an image in the poem.
I was totally touched that she liked it so much.
Jamie and I got our glasses and headed upstairs.  We cheered and drank.
I got to talk to Anne, who I haven't seen in ages.  Anne was wearing this really tight, really short shorts.  The way her body was shaped and the way the chair was designed made it look at various times like she wasn't wearing anything on the bottom half of her body.  I knew what that felt like because I feel like I have awkward fashion moments all the time. 
Part of the time, I sat outside with Bobby and talked.  Bobby told me about the novel he wrote while he was in high school, which was apparently about unrequited love.  He implied heavily that it was written from personal experience.  Bobby is not physically attractive, but he's so great to talk to that I find it hard to believe some girl would be dumb enough to turn him down. 
While we were sitting outside, some friends coming late to the party came up and said hello.  Mostly they just drank and fooled around, and thinking Cory was done with whatever bad poetry reading he was doing, we headed back inside. 

Now the Story of a Wealthy Family

Speaking of Arrested Development, I found this nice little article talking about the show and how brilliant it was
I just watched a first season episode last night, and it totally cheered me up.  Arrested Development is my go to cheer me up show.  Usually when I'm feeling down or just need something that won't depress me, this is the show I watch (though I must admit I'm starting to watch episodes of Parks and Rec for the same sort of thing.) 

Awards Night

So, Erin was lucky enough to win an award, so I (with some of her other friends) went to support her.
There were all sorts of awards.  Bobby, for example, won an award for an essay he wrote, though he wasn't there to receive any praise.  Another young woman I occasionally talk to won an award for an essay she wrote on Pacific Islander fiction, which I know nothing about.  I'm particularly proud of Bobby, because he once told me that I had a positive influence on him.  When I first met him, I didn't think anything like I'm going to positively influence this boy, but I guess that's the way life worked out. 
For prizes, in addition to money, they gave away seed packets, which I really liked.  It's almost it's own metaphor: at school, teachers and books plant ideas in you; now you have seeds to literally plant.   
I had classes in this particular building, and at one point, I heard the nearby bell tower chiming, and it reminded me of one class I had.  It was in the morning, and I remember how much I enjoyed the quiet walk there, and how I was usually the first one there.  It was so warm in this room, I would usually go over to the window and open it up, and somehow, this was unintentionally timed to correspond with just about the time that same bell tower would chime. 
Erin got an award for creative writing, and she read a short piece about herself.  It was about how she doesn't like to be touched.  (I need to write on this same topic, now that I'm thinking about it.)  She read really fast, and honestly, I don't think anyone in the audience really got all of it. 
Erin tends to write longer pieces, which aren't really conducive to the format.  (Other winners, including Lia, were reading poetry or performing small pieces from a longer play.)  Erin needs to pick shorter pieces and she seriously needs to slow down.
I did get to see the professor in charge of screenwriting.  Erin had complained, in passing, that he wasn't much of a creative writing teacher but more of a public relations/advertising kind of guy.  The moment I saw him, I whispered to Erin "Seriously?" which made her choke and laugh. 
After the ceremony, Erin revealed that her parents and uncle were in town.  And she hadn't invited them to the awards night.  This surprised me a little and then it made me sad.  I would give anything to have my parents come to something like this, but they wouldn't.  Not that I'm ever going to win an award, but I would never not tell my parents about something like this, especially given that they were here anyway. 
They were at the coffee shop across the street, so a group of us walked over there.  I had never met Erin's parents before, but some of the other friends in the group, like Liz and Jon, had. 
Erin has told me a lot of stories about her parents over the years, so I thought I would know them better than some of my other friend's parents.  And there wasn't anything about them that struck me as a lie on Erin's part, but I had always imagined them differently. 
For example, I had always imagined her Dad to be tall, almost entirely bald, and had little tuffs of white hair, which he wouldn't comb and would stick out all over the place.  I imagined he'd wear glasses.  And be overweight.  Basically, I imagined George Bluth, the Grandpa, from Arrested Development
Instead, he was shorter.  And his hair was sandy, and possibly he had a comb-over, because it looked strangely similar to Donald Trump.  His face was wider instead of longer.  He didn't wear glasses.  And there was something Hobbit like about him. 
The other thing about him was that I imagined he would speak like Erin spoke, which is to say, like me.  But he had a distinct accent, something I've heard people refer to as a Yooper accent.  Erin hates that term, and I can understand why.  I would describe his accent as sounding something similar to a Finnish American. 
I imagined her Mom would look almost exactly like her, only older, but she was shorter and very slim and her face was longer than I had imagined.  She actually looked similar in appearance to Erin's brother. 
And her Uncle looked a lot like her Dad, except he had long hair.  Come to think of it, he looked a lot like I imagined Erin's brother would look like, before I had met him.   
This is a good example of why I want to meet people's families.  I want to know everything I possibly can about my friends, and their families are an important part of their lives.  And because my imagination is clearly off. 
Erin introduced us, and her Dad clearly remembered Jon and Liz.  We spoke briefly.  There were some awkward pauses, which I guess I should of expected too, but there was something about having the quirkiness of Erin's family confirmed that made this funny to me.  Erin was right, they were different, but in ways that I hadn't considered.  They were looking for somewhere to eat, and someone suggested one of the local bar and restaurants, so we trooped over there.
It wasn't really that late yet, but the bar at this place was totally full.  We had a big group so we got a long table for ourselves.  I sat near Carrie, Erin's brother, and Erin's Mom.  I ordered a burger and some drinks. 
I tried to make conversation.  Carrie and I talked about future plans.  I tried to talk to Erin's brother about what he was studying and where he lived, since these were some of the few things I knew about him.  He was sort of hard to talk to, not because he was mean, but because he didn't offer much.  I was hoping maybe he would talk about his program, since I had friends who were part of the same thing.  I asked him if he liked where he lived, but he didn't have much to say on the subject. 
I racked my brain for other things to talk about, but I really couldn't come up with much.  I remembered Erin complaining about the Bart Stupak controversy last year, and remembering something she had mentioned about him, I asked her Mom about it.  This turned out to be a mistake because Erin's Mom did not have the same political views as Erin, which I thought she did, because of the way Erin talked about her family's politics. 

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Lunch Outside

I decided to take lunch outside because it was a nice day.  I sat on a park bench, swinging my legs like a little kid, and just marveling at how beautiful it was. 
And then Jimmy happened to come up behind me.  He was dressed in a fancy suit because he had to give a presentation for a class.  He had mentioned how much time this presentation and the project was taking and now it was finally over for him.  He seemed relieved, and also tired, since he was up at six. 
And then Jane walked by and she excitedly told me about how she was at this Indian restaurant and how one of the waiters had admired her yellow pants, which lead to a conversation, which lead to a job. 
I could almost hear my Mom in the background, yelling "Ask her if she could get you a job!"  I might ask her eventually, but maybe I should wait until she has some actual pull at this place.  And you know, to make sure she likes it.  Might be a miserable job for all I know. 

Writing Workshop

Mark invited me to a writing workshop he was holding. I brought a poem because that was what I had written the day before, and I mentioned this to the other writers because I wasn’t totally sure about the poem in question (which is a good reason to ask people what needs to be changed.)
After I read my poem, Kean said “You wrote that yesterday?”
Er, yes. Actually, I probably wrote it in about a half hour, maybe forty minutes if you could fooling around with the line breaks. I usually write poems without regard for line breaks, and then experiment with them later.
Everyone was mostly supportive of the poem. Kean mentioned that it sort of spun off on a tangent fairly early on, and the more I look at it, the more right I realize he is. So, I’m cutting that bit.
Mark did give me a wonderful compliment though: he told me I have amazing catalogs in my poems. That made me feel wonderful. I must admit, I’m sort of obsessed with catalogs, so I was happy to hear that.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Hanging with Jon

Jon and I hung out.  We went to this courtyard where we use to brainstorm ideas and talked about things going on in our lives. 
Jon has recently gotten engaged, which was the big news.  He told me about how he and his fiancee are planning their wedding. 
He also showed me some art he's been working on.  Apparently something he and his fiancee do.  It actually looked like stuff similar to the stuff my Mom likes to make. 
While we were sitting there, Nate and Sam walked by.  Nate complained that I hadn't been by to spend time with him enough.  It was a surprising thing to say, because I don't usually feel needed by anyone, and sometimes I get the distinct feeling people want me to go away. 
Which is not to say I mind.  Years ago, I complained about boys being too needy, but I don't feel that way about Nate.  It might be because he's not a needy person, or it could be that I like the Nate's neediness.  It makes me feel needed but not like I'm under emotional siege.  (Which was the problem, back then.  That and he was never very giving, in all senses of the word.) 
Jon and I continued our talk, and I gave him a gift.  Jon's been complaining about having writer's block, so I collected some cool quotes from writers and gave them to him.  He thanked me. 
I also saw one of my favorite conversational friends, but he was on the phone and just waved at me. 
Jon and I went into one of the buildings nearby and dropped in on an art gallery party.  Just because.  They had these really bizarre mini rolls.  They were like spring rolls, but smaller, and covered in this clear, kind of squishy film.  It sort of made me imagine the larvae of some science fiction alien monster, which meant that I wasn't really into them.  I felt like they should have been trying to move out of my hand as I ate them. 
Afterward, the party ended and we dropped in on a poetry reading.  I was mostly going because I had some friends who were going to be there and two who were reading, so I wanted to go to see what would happen. 
Bobby and his girlfriend were there.  I've actually never met his girlfriend before.  Unfortunately, I didn't really get a chance to talk to her.  But Bobby seemed good. 
Bobby also formerly introduced me to his best friend, Cory.  I actually met Cory last year, though I don't think he remembered me. 
A couple of different teachers introduced the reading.  Lia read first.  She read poems mostly in the style of Mary Oliver, who, if I'm remembering correctly, she likes.  She had one poem about shopping the grocery store late at night.  There was something about it that was very calm, very dreamy.  If I was writing that poem, it would be more scary or, at the least, fraught with a sense of how strange being under florescent lights late at night in a desolate place. 
Then Cory read.  Cory was more formal in delivery.  He felt more like listening to a professor.  He talked about his girlfriend, and how they didn't get along right away.  The poem he read that sticks out the most in my mind was about a pistachio.  No kidding.  It made me brainstorm another poem for myself about a similar subject. 
This is one of the many things I like about poetry readings: they always manage to make me want to write more. 
There were more people reading, but Jon and I had to leave because we had to go to Virginia's concert. 
(Like I've said I've been super busy.  Three events in one night.)
Virginia plays harp.  The night before, I had proofread her list of songs.  I'm embarrassed to say that, since she was playing mostly classical songs, I didn't recognize much that was on there. 
The concert had a lot of friends that I hadn't seen in a while: Dean, Jane, Marguerite, Erin, and Amanda were all there.  Jon sat with his fiancee.  I think I briefly shook her hand.  Marguerite was reading a sample of poems I sent her and complained that I didn't need to send sixteen pages.
"Yeah, but there was only five poems," I said in reply, which made people laugh. 
Virginia's parents and old teachers were there, which was nice to see.  Virginia's Dad was older than I imagined and Virginia's Mom looked more like a typical Mom than I imagined.  I sort of imagined that Virginia's Mom would look more like a hippie than she did.  Her teacher there seemed like a sweet old lady. 
Despite knowing Virginia for years now, I had never seen her play.  It was really nice.  I've always had a soft spot for harps.  When I was little, my favorite instrument was a harp.  I had a computer encyclopedia program and I would play their samples of harp music all the time.  (I also played the violin, piano and guitar samples a lot, which I guess is pretty telling too, in terms of my musical tastes now.  I love violin, especially when it's used in with a heavy beat, since that's uncommon.) 
Harp is such an impressive instrument, partly because of its size but also because of the detailed finger work one has to use.  Virginia also had a piano player accompany her and then later on, another harp player.  Erin and Marguerite really wanted pictures of this. 
During the intermission, I turned to everyone and said "I don't mean to brag guys, but I'm going home tonight with the musician."  This got laughs from people.  Obviously, since I was living with Virginia, I was literally going home with her, but the implication I was making about sleeping with her was false.  Virginia luckily thought this was funny, and she laughed and put her arm around me. 

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Expat Aid Workers

I came across this blog today called Stuff Expat Aid Workers Like.  The title is probably a joke on Stuff White People Like and talks about various humanitarian programs.
I've gotten skeptical about charities in the last six months or so.  I've been reading things about them that bothers me and have made some observations about others that I find appalling.  I was saddened, but not surprised, to read this tongue in cheek piece about how aid workers have to live away from the people who probably need the most help.       
I find this entire thing so depressing.  It makes me feel like even if I am compelled to do that right thing, by giving my time or money to an organization, it's being wasted. 

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Dinner with Gary

I sort of left you there with my last story.  Again, every time I try to sit down and write, I get interrupted by life. 
Dinner with Gary was nice.  We went to this sushi place.  I've only been there a few times, but it was the first place that I was introduced to sushi about four years ago (with Stephanie and Lia.)  Last summer, when Nate and Dean and I went there. 
I had my usual and Gary had something adventurous.  We mostly ate and talked like old times. 
Gary's been doing well.  He has been having lots of career related successes lately, and I'm really proud.  He was invited to a political rally to speak and he's always getting invitations for fancy dinners and conventions.  I'm so proud of him.  I always knew he was smart and passionate, but I didn't guess he would be this ambitious.  Good for him. 
He also told me about one of his favorite hobbies, genealogy.  He's talked about researching his own family before, and it has lead him to learn lots of interesting facts about his family and even to finding lost family.  More recently, he's been working on a website version of a basic genealogy guide, written for people who are just getting started. 
"I've always wanted to do something like that," I said.  "But I don't really have the time and I wouldn't know what I was doing.  It sounds like a good project for you." 
He told me that he did research for other families, and I told him my family would probably do that.  "What do you charge?" I asked. 
"Oh, no, I wouldn't charge," he said.  "I would do it for free." 
So maybe one day I'll ask Gary formally.  One side of my family has been thoroughly researched, but the other side is fairly dark.  And I'm sort of curious as to what Gary would find. 
Gary was even sweet enough to pay for part of my dinner. 
The only bad thing, at the end of the evening, was that my computer fell off a chair.  I was worried it was going to be damaged, but so far there's been no problem. 

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Muppet Doppelganger

Yeah, I'm bringing sexy back. 
A couple of years ago, Tori, Ashley and Lisa got into it over the show The Muppet Babies, which is one of those shows I remember watching as a kid but could not really tell you much about, other than they were baby versions of Muppet characters. 
After being asked what Muppet I resemble most, I have to say it: Animal. 
It's only a shocker to some of the people who know me.  If you've ever seen me get emotional (in good and bad ways), you know I can express a lot.  Also, as a kid, I had unceasing energy.  I might have been a regular old perpetual energy generator.  I am all bitter that I lack the kind of energy I had as a kid. 

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Tea with Mark

Went out for tea with Mark.  He had finished a class in the early afternoon, and I figured that he would have another one in the late afternoon or early evening, but he didn't, so we talked about about four and a half hours.  There are so few people in my life I can talk to for such long periods of time, and Mark is definitely one of them. 
As usual, Mark and I spent a ton of time talking about poetry.  He and some other mutual friends are all right now into Ann Carson, and Mark showed me one of her books.  I had heard of her before, but I had never actually seen any of her poetry.  And I could see why he was showing it to me.  There was something very prosy about it, but also something inherently intellectual and academic.  They were tight little pieces.  He had borrowed the book from a friend, and we both admired her handwriting, which decorated the margins. 
We also talked about book design.  There's this one cover for a poetry book that we both thing is miserably bad.  I told him my idea for an alternative cover, one that did a better job of displaying the title poem and looked prettier. 
"Well, do you ever think about what you'd want your poetry books to look like?" he asked. 
Oh, of course.  I fantasize about it all the time.  I don't think I'm silly enough to believe I'll ever publish a book of poetry, but I think about it. 
"I usually think of the art for the book as being highly related to the content.  So, I'm working on some science-related poems, and I'd like the book to be decorated with old school science drawings, the kind you see in old textbooks." 
Thinking of it, I'd really like to see some of Mark's poetry.  It's been a while since I looked at anything of his, though, the more I think about what I saw, the more impressed I am by it. 
We also reminisced about classes we took.  I confessed that Emily was sort of turned off by the way he use to talk, which maybe I shouldn't have told him.  I followed it up with "But I defended you because you had just changed your major and we're probably still finding your feet," which was how I felt at the time.  Plus, I honestly felt like Emily was being a tad persnickety.  I love Emily, but this was one of the few times I disagreed with her.  Mark wasn't that hard to understand.  
I might have also admitted my momentary annoyance with Mark.  When we first met, I didn't really have any thoughts on him either way, because I didn't know him.  Then he started always sitting with me in class, and because I had lots of friends in this class I found myself wishing he didn't.  But after a week or two I realized I really liked him and that he was my friend.
This this weird tendency around here for things to be super intense super quickly.  Natalie once described this happening to her and Mike.  They met and BAM!  They were best friends.  This was what happened to Mark.  We spent very little time between acquaintance and mutual adoration. 
It was mostly quiet in the tea house, but this punk guy sat down near us for a while, while I probably talked poor Mark's ear off.  
Mark told me a little about his upcoming trip to Germany.  He told me that he had wanted to go to London, but because of the price of hotels, he decided not to.  Instead, he's going to live in a tiny town near the French border.  What exactly he's doing academically, I'm not sure.  He apparently speaks very good German, so I'm hoping that in addition to the usual fun travel stuff (getting to know a new place, meeting new people, speaking the local language) maybe he'll be studying German literature.  There's a lot of important work that was done in both German romanticism and expressionism. 
While we were sitting there, Justin's roommate, came in and said hi.  He recognized me because I had met him recently.
"Are you two dating?" he asked. 
It seems like Mark and I have been getting that one a lot lately.  Mark said no. 
"We're more like work partners," I said, thinking about how frequently we worked on various projects together.  An idea occurred to me.  "We're more like partners in crime," I said.  Justin's roommate sort of chuckled at us for saying that. 
Eventually, I had to cut our chat to an end because I was meeting Gary for sushi down the street.  When Mark had originally asked me for tea, I thought that I would have plenty of time in between tea and sushi.  I was going to go lock myself in a study room and try to write.  But clearly, Mark and I were having so much fun, I almost lost track of time. 
Gary wasn't going to let me though.  About ten minutes before my sushi date, he texted me that he was going to be two minutes late.  That's right: two minutes.  I found this weirdly funny, because I can't think of anyone who texts to say two minutes.  I don't even know if it's necessary to text if it's five, because it seems like everyone I know runs on a minimum five minute late schedule of some kind or another. 
Mark thought this was funny too. 
Three minutes later, Gary texted again to tell me he was going to be on time, and Mark and I both found this funny. 
"He's like that.  One day you'll have to meet him," I said.  I had already told him tons about Jimmy. 

Moving

I had to move my stuff to Virginia's, who was kind enough to take me in after my previous plans fell through.  Because I didn't have a car, I had to carry everything myself.  It took me seven trips.  It was about a fifteen minute trip to walk there, and then fifteen minutes back.  And I had to pack inbetween.  So, obviously, it took me a long time.  
The good news was that I had a couple of suitcases on wheels, so I mostly wheeled stuff back and forth. 
There were sort of the normal annoyances with moving.  Getting the maximum space in your suitcases, for example.  But then, of course, you have to be careful not to pack too much because then you're moving it, and it'll get too heavy.
Virginia gave me a key to her place, and the second time I showed up (after she had left to go practice), I realized it was the wrong key.  I had to call her, and she came right over, apologizing a million times to me.  But really, I felt bad for having to call her.  She was working, and I don't like to interrupt people, even for something important like this. 
And after a while I got tired, and cranky.  My feet hurt.  I was sweaty and gross. 
I found myself getting angry about why my original plans fell through.  Mostly, it was a principal of the issue, and I vowed, as I heaved stuff to and fro, that I would have a short chat with this person about everything.  I tried to keep my anger from bubbling over, and I was certain if I just spoke to this person reasonable and did stuff like say "I feel..." and then filled in the blanks, they would apologize.  And if I could have an apology, I'd be fine. 
At the end of the day I was exhausted.  I skipped dinner because I was too tired.  I took a shower at Virginia's, who had showers I wasn't used to.  The ground was weirdly sloop like and I got my shower bag, filled with my shampoo and whatnot, wet, because there was nowhere good to put it.  But once I got clean I felt better. 
Virginia let me sleep in Jane's bed, who is apparently never home anyway because she's always hanging with her boyfriend.  Jane's bed might be the best bed I have ever slept in.  It has gigantic covers and the mattress is weirdly soft, and everything is warm fleece.  I was so tired that I didn't struggle to sleep at all.  And it felt so good to lay down. 
Later on, Paul asked me why I didn't just ask for help, and I told him that I felt bad about making everyone else responsible for my stuff.  I think the easier way would have been now to say I didn't want to be a bother. 

Hemingway

Reading up on Hemingway today.  I always associate him with a certain type of misogyny: one that's big on display but really has nothing substantial to support itself. 
But I learned some interesting facts from this article, including:
-George Orwell actually fought in Spain, until Hemingway. 
-Hemingway's dispatches were mostly fictional. 
-He wrote a play years later where he clearly puts himself in the place of a hunky spy pretending to be a war correspondent. 
As to the mystery of why Hemingway killed himself: he collapsed under his own ego.  I see this so often with men who paint themselves as larger than life, but there's nothing about them that his large.  All there is just facade, there's nothing even so wonderful behind it.
I would also note it's pretty telling that Hemingway's father killed himself.  Suicides have an unfortunate habit of running in families (Kurt Cobain, the infamous musician, was the fifth suicide in his family.)