Sunday, February 28, 2010

when you awaken in the morning hush

For some reason, I really appreciate when abstract ideas and feelings are attributed to corporeal entities. Particularly things in nature or parts of the human anatomy. It makes the feeling more immediate, and it seems to connect what's going on in my head with something tangible. I know that material existence is fleeting, and ideas can go on forever without having a physical manifestation, but that often seems to make them less accessible to me. Saying that I feel something so strongly that it has left a visible impression appeals to me; as if the gravitas of the feeling could not really be articulated verbally.

The Portuguese call it 'saudade': a longing for something so indefinite as to be indefinable. Love affairs, miseries of life, the way things were, people already dead, those who left and the ocean that tossed them on the shores of a different land - all things born of the soul that can only be felt.

Anthony De Sa

I think that the natural world is the only place these things can be conceptualized. In the oceans, in the trees, in the ground, in gardens all wet with rain. In really powerful storms and desert heat. I try to acknowledge that my existence has been given to me by the earth, and that I am of it, and at some point I will go back. One of my favorite sentiments of the Bible is 'Remember you are dust, and unto dust you shall return.' I remember reading something about every part of your body being a loan from the earth that you will pay back in death. It sounds kind of morose, but I remember reading it and liking it, and how it put everything in perspective. It also makes it sound like people never really leave, they just become less of themself and more of everything around you. I can't remember exactly what it said or where I read it, but I tried to rewrite it as best as I could.

i have taken from the ground
my skin and my bones
but i wanted to say
as i slowly pay it back,
i thank you for the loan

I know there are many other sentiments written about that idea. My favorite is by Mary Elizabeth Frye.

A few nights ago some of my friends and I were talking about books we were required to read in grade school. The first substantial paperback we could remember reading was The Giver. We started talking about how the Giver put memories and feelings into the boy, so he could pass them on. I would like to be able to receive the memories of other people and nature. Then I would be less of myself and more of everything around me.

The other day I was trying to think of the most beautiful way to see things I was walking by. My favorite was the snowbanks, because I could think of them as inverted tidepools of frozen stars.

And your very flesh shall be a great poem.
Walt Whitman

Friday, February 26, 2010

glittering san francisco night

Someone sent this to me once, I think because of the reference to Carolyn Cassady. I remember reading it and getting the nostalgic, sad feeling that I have when something ends and I think about my life changing and people leaving. The feeling I sometimes get when it's about sunset and I watch the slanted light falling on all the buildings in Chicago. I love it so much I starting choking up when I read it.

I'll get my ticket and say goodbye on a flower day and leave all San Francisco behind and go back home across autumn America and it'll all be like it was in the beginning—simple golden eternity blessing all—nothing ever happened—not even this—St. Carolyn by the Sea will go on being golden one way or the other—the little boy will grow up and be a great man—there'll be farewells and smiles—my mother'll be waiting for me glad—the corner of the yard where Tyke is buried will be a new and fragrant shrine making my home more homelike somehow—on soft spring nights I'll stand in the yard under the stars—something good will come out of all things yet—and it will be golden and eternal just like that—there's no need to say another word.

—Jack Kerouac, Big Sur

Saturday, February 20, 2010

going subterranean

The other day the former assistant of Jacques Cousteau, Susan Schiefelbein, came to one of my journalism classes to speak about her part in writing The Human, The Orchid, and The Octupus: Exploring and Conserving our Natural World. She was an amazing speaker, and hearing her talk about her travels all over the world with Cousteau was extremely interesting. I have had an affinity for Cousteau since I was in 2nd grade, when there was a set of children's books about explorers in my homeroom. The book about Cousteau was always the most popular in my class, probably due to the fact that the cover had a picture of him swimming next to an octupus in a coral reef. Cousteau fascinated me, and I wanted to be a marine-bioligist for years afterward so I could have the kind of adventures that he did. I envisioned my career as swimming through acquatic wonderlands with schools of brightly-colored fish following me. Being able to listen to stories about him for an hour and a half from one of his closest friends made my week.

once I spoke the language of the flowers,
once I understood each word the caterpillar said,
once I smiled in secret at the gossip of the starlings,
and shared a conversation with the housefly
in my bed.
once I heard and answered all the questions
of the crickets,
and joined the crying of each falling dying
flake of snow,
once I spoke the language of the flowers
how did it go?
how did it go?

Listen to the mustn'ts, child. Listen to the don'ts.

Listen to the shouldn'ts, the impossibles, the won'ts.

Listen to the never haves, then listen close to me...

Anything can happen, child.

Anything can be.

Shel Silverstein

Monday, February 15, 2010

they have a secret world

There are certain songs that remind me of feelings I've had throughout my life. Today, while listening to the song 'Kim and Jessie' by M83, I was reminded me of a feeling I had one night in late June the summer after my junior year of high school.

My best friend Alex's house was getting torn down and then rebuilt, so they were living in a small apartment about 10 minutes away. One night we decided to see how the construction was progressing.

We visited the lot and found it to be at the stage where the infrastructure of the house is essentially completed, with no walls or intricacies inside. Against our better judgment we climbed into the skeleton of the house to explore. The air was at the temperature where it was neither balmy nor cool; the kind where it feels like there is simply nothing surrounding you outside your own skin, and the sky was spectacularly clear. The wooden beams were drenched in pools of silvery moonlight that reflected off of them like bones.

We skipped through the thoracic cage of the living room and kitchen, murmuring about whether or not there was something technically wrong with what we were doing. I remember Alex wondering aloud about the kind of events that would unfold in the house in the next few years.

The stairs were unsupported ledges winding through a marrow of beams. We bounded up them faster than could possibly have been safe, and the second floor was even more precarious with wood panels set apart by gaps forming an incomplete floor. A single clavicle beam stretched over our heads forming the border of our ascent. At that moment, the panels beneath us were bathed in a shimmering glow that seemed to make the whole structure alive with promise and magic. I remember looking at Alex as the headlights of the cars pulsed by and wondering if the entire house had just shuddered beneath us.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

the human mind creates order when there is none

Joel: Sorry. My life isn't that interesting. I go to work. I go home. I don't know what to say. You should read my journal. It's just, like, blank.

Clementine (considers this): Does that make you sad? Or anxious? I'm always anxious thinking I'm not living my life to the fullest, y'know? Taking advantage of every possibility? Just making sure that I'm not wasting one second of the little time I have.

Joel: I think about that.

Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind

echoes to the remotest star

Recently I have been complimented on my outward confidence and assurance of identity and purpose. I am satisfied that I have been able to portray this image, but that is exactly what it is- an image. The more I discover about the world the more I am overwhelmed by confusion. My inability to accept things at face value has led me to an internal struggle that seems to deepen rather than recede. I often find brief peace of mind in moments of clarity and wisdom I attain from other people. It's not mine, though- what I have is confusion.

"For the few little outward successes I may seem to have, there are acres of misgivings and self doubts."
Sylvia Plath

I would like my reality to be the reality of the universe, and not mine alone. What I would like to do is internalize the world around me; take it in through every pore of my skin and let race it through my veins. Maybe then the confusion would subside into an inherent possession of understanding. I could present it to you, too, if you've ever felt the confusion that I have. Maybe I could give it to you in a way that makes it more comprehensible.

"When we try to pick out anything by itself, we find it hitched to everything else in the universe."
John Muir

Maybe that's the problem, then. Maybe I don't understand because I am trying to take it piece by piece, which is impossible when everything in the universe, all past, present, and future is inextricably bound and you can't just tear the fabric apart.

I wish I had more confidence in the fact that everything will work out the way it is meant to. I really wish that I did. I wish I knew what I was supposed to contribute, or how I could make my existence worthwhile. I really wish that I was more complacent with my ignorance over this painful awareness.

I can make you satisfied in everything you do.
Elliott Smith

Richard Feynman said is perfectly, but we're different. It doesn't frighten him, but it frightens me. It scares me to death to be honest.

You see, one thing is, I can live with doubt and uncertainty and not knowing. I think it's much more interesting to live not knowing than to have answers which might be wrong. I have approximate answers and possible beliefs and different degrees of certainty about different things, but I'm not absolutely sure of anything and there are many things I don't know anything about, such as whether it means anything to ask why we're here, and what the question might mean. I think about it a little bit and if I can't figure it out, then I go on to something else, but I don't have to know an answer. I don't feel frightened by not knowing things, by being lost in a mysterious universe without having any purpose, which is the way it really is so far as I can tell. It doesn't frighten me.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

nixon now

The other day I was taking a quiz, and there was a quote by Richard Nixon in the text.

"Always remember others may hate you, but those who hate you don't win unless you hate them. And then you destroy yourself."

Richard Nixon, White House farewell address

I don't know very much about Richard Nixon aside from his involvement in the Watergate Scandal. I really liked this quote though, and I thought it was relevant. Relevant in how hatred can eat you from the inside out, and give power to the object of it.

When I was little, I was looking through a closet in my grandma's house and found an old box from when my Dad and Aunt were kids. It was covered inside and out with bumper stickers from a state fair so you could barely see the psychedelic green and purple flower pattern on it. It had the mildewed smell of something that was old and hadn't been in the sun for a few years, and the stickers covering it were from the 1960 election and said 'President Nixon, Now More than Ever.'

inside of me and such a part of you

I've heard people say that you can attract occurrences and events with your mentality. Kind of like a self-fulfilling prophecy, but not just in a 'positive outlook' way; in a reality way. That there will be empirical evidence resulting from your attitude toward life. The world will present itself as you have thought it to be; certain instances will gravitate toward or away from you. I wrote this as what I want; as the mindset that I have. Hopefully this will lend itself to a higher probability of it happening. If I am very fortunate, I will find the person that I wrote it about. Not someone to be an ornament to my vanity or to pass the time, but the other part of myself. I hope you will enjoy this foray into my psyche as much as I enjoyed writing it.

I hope you don't need to hear that I love you. I really hope that you don't; that you already know. I hope you're aware that no sequence of events or amount of time could fade or alter it in any way. I hope you know it with the certainty that I feel it. If you ever question it, though, I will remind you. I'll tell you a thousand times, until it becomes ingrained in you like your image is ingrained in every fiber of my composition. Maybe by doing this I will start to mean as much to you as you do to me. You are as much a part of me as any part of my own being. This part of you will never leave me, and I will never leave you.

Monday, February 8, 2010

this world is only gonna break your heart

I gave blood today for the 4th time. I decided to listen to 'Blood Bank' by Bon Iver on repeat the whole time blood was coming out of my arm. I got a lot of satisfaction from watching the pint bag fill up. I didn't mind the feeling of it being removed, and I got satisfaction from the fact that a pint of my own blood might help someone at some point. I watched them put it in the cooler. I wonder where it is now, and where it will end up. I don't mean to over evaluate the contribution. It isn't much. I try to do what I can though, even if it is insignificant.

When an assistant offered me a plastic bottle of water afterward, I almost refused it on account of my personal stance against water bottles because of their immediate effect on the environment, water privatization, and waste. In that second I realized how self-righteous that would probably come off. Maybe support one cause at a time, or you'll faint on your way down the stairs, the assistant could say to me. I would probably say that to me. I kind of enjoy when my own thinking patterns are turned against me. I hate when people are self-righteous or pretentious. Those are probably the two qualities that I hate the most. When people have that attitude I really want to prove them wrong and throw it in their face. If I get labeled either of them I will do some serious reflection.

The sky looked extraordinarily gray and frozen today. Kind of like the washed-out look of buildings in San Francisco. I like the way San Francisco looks though, and the shades of gray outside now don't have the same effect. There's no stunning bay area or remnants of Haight Ashbury in central Illinois (No Alcatraz either though, which I'm happy for because that place always frightened me). It reminds me of the song 'November was White, December was Gray,' by Say Hi. For some reason this has gotten me looking forward to the essentially glossed over holiday Casimir Pulaski Day. It's the first Monday of March. It's probably my favorite song by Sufjan Stevens, too.

in the morning through the window shade
when the light pressed up against your shoulder blade
i could see what you were reading

'This world is only gonna break your heart' is taken from the song 'Wicked Game' by Chris Isaak. When I heard the song 'Lenders in the Temple' by Conor Oberst I remember thinking that the lyrics 'that circus tiger's gonna break my heart,' and 'this crystal city's gonna fall apart,' would've gone nicely in that song.
February 4, 2010 hitchcock?

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

look closer


We all have to claim something, even if it is only our own confusion.
Sabrina Ward Harrison

Life does not consist mainly, or even largely, of facts and happenings. It consists mainly of the storm of thought that is forever flowing through one's head.
Mark Twain

andy and edie

In the depth of winter I finally learned that there was in me an invincible summer.
Albert Camus

counting stars by candlelight
all are dim but one is bright
the spiral light of venus, rising first and shining best
on, from the northwest corner
of a brand new crescent moon
crickets and cicadas sing
a rare and different tune, terrapin station

Robert Hunter