26 April 2011

you'll find him most anywhere

When I'm at my sister's I sleep with the window cracked open. Indoors has always seemed stuffy to me so I'm always sitting by windows, opening and shutting them in turn depending on how much I can stand the cold. I can't wait until it's warm enough and I can move my office onto the back porch and sleep outside with my roommates.

My nephew is nearing eight months old and I still think he's the best thing to hit this planet. I love staring at him, watching him bobble his head about, scrunching up his face when he's tired, hearing his baby dinosaur sounds. And a smile from him is the sweetest gift. 

Sometimes I think of how old he is, think back to when he was born, and it's strange. He's so lovely and that time was so confused. Will I look at him when he's in his twenties and at the verge of some momentous life event and remember that time–just before him, right around his birth, all that's happened in the last eight months: my varieties of broken heart, my first days of my last semester at university and then my graduation, my stress, these decisions I'm trying to make. He balances everything out. He's all hope and potential and sweetness. Goodness gracious, I'm an aunt and I can love him like I've never loved anybody else. You might never see me as vulnerable as I will be when dancing around the room hoping to get a smile from him or showering him with kisses or singing every song I know the words to (false, actually, I restrain from singing the Kingston Trio songs I know because my sister doesn't want her child exposed to their adult content and language just yet).

Most of these songs I've learned from my mother, from the treasure trove of songs she sang to us for lullabies and for waking times. This certain one, Bobby Shafto, is based off a real person who broke a woman's heart, and she died from the breaking. But the wonderful thing about lullabies and folk songs that are passed down in oral tradition rather than in writing is that the words will change and then the meanings as well. My mother's voice of comfort never sang about that man in Ireland, to me it was about the moon brushing the dust off the knees of his victorian, threadbare, black smoking suit–it's always been a love song to the moon.

Bobby Shafto's fat and fair
combing down his yellow hair
you'll find him most anywhere
pretty Bobby Shafto

Bobby Shafto's gone to sea
silver buckles on his knee
He'll come back and marry me
pretty Bobby Shafto

cloud day

19 April 2011

how do you know what a wasp is thinking?

In my bathroom on a window ledge is a large envelope that has "DON'T MOVE AT ANY COST" scrawled on it in sharpie. Because on this envelope is a wasp, trapped under a small glass jar, trapped under a brick. I feel guilty that it's slowly suffocating (I hope). I hope and I feel guilty?

This is me as your protector: kicking washing machines, beating spiders until they have been dead for minutes, and leaving wasps in jars. It's just, what do I do? Let the wasp out to sting me multiple times? Or to build a nest in my backyard to sting someone many multiples of times? No. So it stays in it's glass prison.

Sometimes I feel like I'm in a glass prison. Frosted glass because I have only mild ruminations and intuitions about what my future should hold.

What is this wasp thinking right now?

cloud day

cloud appreciation is also part tree appreciation.

This picture was taken only a few seconds after that first one, go figure.

17 April 2011

I will figure out what music to listen to so I will relax and fall asleep and not panic about my future all night long.

13 April 2011

my life in two pictures

The problem is I'm in a cycle, hopefully not a downward spiraling cycle but....

my real lunch (say what $100 digital camera?) next to a real Sarah Michelle Gellar

You see, I haven't been cooking much lately. The closest I come is microwaving half an acorn squash. Maybe I'm still impressed that my idea of fast food is a Cliff bar or quality bread and humus. An apple. Some carrots. The problem is: I subsist on my fast food. Do you know how long it takes to get full off of some edamame here, some cucumbers and vinegar there? So my fastfood is really (lazy) slow food and because I am so slow at eating and cannot eat one-handed (which rules out reading a book, something I mostly do while brushing my teeth) I watch Buffy the Vampire Slayer during meals and the next thing I know I'm telling myself: just twenty minutes longer, Buffy's mom just DIED! And how is she going to kill Glory, the god, and will she ever love Spike and what's that voodoo doll thing? What? A sexy robot? HOLD ON! They're the same person!!!!!?!

Man. Good thing I like my job or there'd be no reclaiming me. Also, don't spoil the answers to those questions.

12 April 2011

cloud day

11 April 2011

10 April 2011

an essay in parts: part III

How many times have I listened to Bob Dylan sing "everybody must get stoned" today? And still, after hours of him I Want You still pulls me in. And you can't help but admire the humor and lungs of Dylan as he drones out Freight Train Blues.

Anyway, the point I'm supposed to be reaching is the question that keeps being asked, do I really believe God is silent?

Well, you tell me, what is silence?  Is silence proof there is no God, there is no one there to answer? Do the heavens seem silent because we don't know how to listen? Does God withhold answers because he is disinterested? Or is silence not the answer but part of the equation, on this side of the equal sign, the circumstance that needs to take place for the chemical reaction to happen?

The other day as I was making pesto for my dinner my world was silent. (Except for the part where I was too lazy to chop walnuts and pounded them with a hammer instead.) I quietly watched as the knife shredded the parsley, their juices making them turn darker and darker green. I didn't turn on any music or podcast, there was no one else in the kitchen to yap with. The world was so silent and sometimes it seems such a deafening thing.

But I think it's important.

The Pale King, an unfinished novel by David Foster Wallace is about to be published posthumously, has a wide collection of characters most of which are IRS examiners, or wigglers, working at their office in Peoria, Illinois. On one hand this book could be about boredom, there is a section that records the page turns of each office worker. "Howard Cardwell turns a page. Ken Wax turns a page... Anand Singh turns two pages at once by mistake and turns one back which makes a slightly different sound." One of them proposes a play: an IRS employee sits on a stage reading forms, making notes. "He sits there longer and longer, until the audience gets more and more bored and restless, and finally they start leaving, first just a few and then the whole audience, whispering to each other how boring and terrible the play is. Then, once the audience have all left, the real action oft he play can start." In his Time Magazine review of the book Lev Grossman proposes this interpretation of the proposed play: "The audience misunderstood what they were watching. They waited for the action to start without realizing that it was already happening, all around them, if they only knew how to see it."1

"If they only knew how to see it." If I could appreciate the silences that are ever present–ritualistically, daily present in my life–the quiet routine of living, with all the silence that they bring, would have meaning. I don't have to overflow with pep and happiness about it every waking moment–then I'd be a gross cavitous sweet-tooth of a human being. But an idea that keeps coming back to me is I should appreciate sadness and ho-hum hum-drum.

How did I end up sermonizing? Dang.

Maybe this all serves as good background, I've had these theories for a while that work quite well with quotidian life. But being part of a fatal accident isn't everyday, not for me, and maybe because it was a silence of dramatic proportions that's why I spent the next few hours in shock. I study cinema, I don't want my life to be cinema, in fact, I don't even want to make cinema that's so grandiose and loudly heart-rending.

In the RadioLab podcast "Silence"2 Robert Krulwich delves into the story where Abraham is asked by God to sacrifice his beloved son, Isaac. Abraham has already followed every command of God and according to the Bible, at this time there were some pretty evil, mean and nasty people, and so it might be plausible to say that at this point on the earth there was no other man on earth who loved God as much as Abraham. And God has promised Abraham that through Isaac many nations shall arise, innumerable posterity. In other words, hope. God has promised but he now asks that Abraham sacrifice his beloved son. Abraham asks no questions, he says nothing, he goes and does.

This is a grand cinematic fatal story. And it has a lot of silence.

So Krulwich wonders about this silence, particularly the silence of Isaac coming down from that mountain by himself. "What was Isaac thinking when he went down alone from Mt. Moriah? When he walked into what was left of his long, long life. He must have asked himself, Why was I tested? Why was I spared? What is the point? Am I an accident? Am I alive because my father passed a test? Would I be dead if he didn’t pass the test? Do I matter? Am I precious? I don’t know. I don’t know! So what do I do? I go on, I grow older, I marry Rebecca, I have children of my own, I make mistakes, I laugh, I savor my love for Jacob and for Esau and for sunsets. I hope that I’m here for a reason and that one day it will make sense. Sometimes I believe it does make sense, sometimes not."

And Krulwich says this:

part of being human, of being a good human–beyond our capacity to love and to care–is a desire for answers, for explanation. It’s a desire to know why.

I do not understand everything, I do not have answers for everything, I cannot see the eternity that I believe in. But in line with LDS doctrine, I believe that I am striving to be like God. Part of that striving is asking questions and facing the silence, not drowning it out, so that I might understand, so that someday I may be a God.3 Now I am mortal and I'm still digging at the silence, then I will be immortal and then shall I know even as I am known.4

Until then, I just hope and I question.

ps. There are many more things I have to say on this subject but I've reached the point where I think you've stopped reading and I'm feeling self-conscious that I'm being preachy rather than participating in a discussion that I've been having with many of you face to face. I've loved all your thoughts on this subject and I'd like to hear more particularly if you are not LDS or don't believe in God because I find all sorts of ideas engaging and enriching.

1. Grossman, Lev. "Unfinished Business, Resurrecting David Foster Wallace's Last Novel." Time magazine. 11 April 2011. p 60-64.

2. RadioLab "In Silence" (I've fixed the link now)

3. My personal interpretation is not that I will be a Goddess, that God is only whole when it is the woman and the man.

4. 1 Corinthians 13:12

07 April 2011

an essay in parts: part II

Jad Abumrad & Robert Krulwich of RadioLab. Photo by way of WNYC

RadioLab podcast "In Silence"

 Robert Krulwich reads a sermon he gave at a synagogue about the story of Abraham being commanded by God to sacrifice his son, Isaac. "It’s my attempt to try to reason–to try to make sense out of one of the darkest and most difficult stories that humans have ever told each other."

Don't toss this off for fear of hearing starched collars and bad syllogisms–those things won't happen, Krulwich has a voice and stories that would brighten any dinner party. RadioLab is perhaps my favorite podcast (even over the ridiculously popular–and yeah I enjoy it too–This American Life). I once heard described as being a hybrid of This American Life and Bill Nye the Science Guy.

06 April 2011

an essay in parts: part I

this is not the same video I posted before. not really, anyway. there's a question I ask at the end, I'd like to know what you have to say about the subject.

from the plane from Marge Bjork on Vimeo.

read about my trip to Paraguay here. the accident here.
the song is "Kites" by Geographer.

02 April 2011

at the end

I have a lovely friend who travels the world to further the cause of poetry, here's a bitty she sent to me. 

Watch the full episode. See more Poetry Everywhere.