Sunday, April 25, 2010

east of eden

Do you have doubts about life? Are you unsure if it is really worth the trouble? Look at the sky: that is for you. Look at each person’s face as you pass them on the street: those faces are for you. And the street itself, and the ground under the street, and the ball of fire underneath the ground: all these things are for you. They are as much for you as they are for other people. Remember this when you wake up in the morning and think you have nothing. Stand up and face the east. Now praise the sky and praise the light within each person under the sky. It’s okay to be unsure. But praise, praise, praise.

Miranda July

I miss her smell, and the way she tastes. It's a mystery of human chemistry and I don't understand it, some people, as far as their senses are concerned, just feel like home.
High Fidelity

I wanted to get out and walk eastward toward the park through the soft twilight, but each time I tried to go I became entangled in some wild, strident argument which pulled me back, as if with ropes, into my chair. Yet high over the city our line of yellow windows must have contributed their share of human secrecy to the casual watcher in the darkening streets, and I was him too, looking up and wondering. I was within and without, simultaneously enchanted and repelled by the inexhaustible variety of life.
F. Scott Fitzgerald

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

in our bedroom after the war

I just had lunch with a friend that I haven't seen for some time. I always like doing that; it is difficult for me to ever say goodbye to anyone, and I like it when people don't make me. We talked about books and traveling and Carl Sagan. When I started talking about school and my ambitions I realized how morose I sounded. I am so discouraged. I don't like constantly thinking about things like my place in the world, and life after death and what the point of everything is. I don't like to think about it, but I can't help it. I can't focus on what I'm doing because my mind is everywhere else. I like to think about the human body and how intricate it is, and how much of a miracle the rushing of blood in your veins and the firing of neurons seems to be. How everything going on in your body and mind is the most interesting thing I could ever imagine. Or how we are made with matter from exploded stars, how we have all sprung from the same origins and we are all connected. I like being able to write on this because it's like purging all these things that are on my mind all the time. Like the pensieve Dumbledore has. Here are some things I've seen lately that I like, I hope you like them too. Thanks for reading what I write.
Recognize that the very molecules that make up your body, the atoms that construct the molecules, are traceable to the crucibles that were once the centers of high mass stars that exploded their chemically rich guts into the galaxy, enriching pristine gas clouds with the chemistry of life. So that we are all connected to each other biologically, to the earth chemically and to the rest of the universe atomically. That’s kinda cool! That makes me smile and I actually feel quite large at the end of that. It’s not that we are better than the universe, we are part of the universe. We are in the universe and the universe is in us.
Neil deGrasse Tyson

Stéphanie: Why me?
Stephane: Because everyone else is boring. And because you're different.

Writers, especially poets, are particularly prone to madness. There exists a striking association between creativity and manic depression. Why are more creative people prone to madness? They have more than average amounts of energies and abilities to see things in a fresh and original way- then because they also have depression, I think they're more in touch with human suffering.

"We came to writing at an earlier age, from an urge to release a scream that had stuck in our throats. Then we worked on our screams until we thought they were something someone might want to hear.”
Stephen Elliott

A person who has good thoughts cannot ever be ugly. You can have a wonky nose and a crooked mouth and a double chin and stick-out teeth, but if you have good thoughts they will shine out of your face like sunbeams and you will always look lovely.

Roald Dahl

We embarked on our journey to the stars with a question first framed in the childhood of our species and in each generation asked anew with undiminished wonder: What are the stars? Exploration is in our nature. We began as wanderers, and we are wanderers still. We have lingered long enough on the shores of the cosmic ocean. We are ready at last to set sail for the stars.
Carl Sagan

Sunday, April 18, 2010

let's drive to the mediterranean in a stolen car

Then he came in, breathless and starry. When he slammed the door behind him the cobwebs and moondust scattered into the air, so the whole room looked to be swirling with silver.

'Get the map, and the compass!' he said, his voice urgently quiet and shaking with the tone of repressed excitement.

They went out to the garden. The colored lanterns hanging from the tree cast their glow on the grass as the darkening twilight was giving way to a daisy-field of stars.

'What is it?' she asked.

and it rained all night

I feel like every atom in my head is going in a different direction and it's splitting apart. In Champaign, in Chicago, in Moscow. Back in my apartment in Italy. In a dusty computer lab coding HTML and helping sneak manuscripts out of the Soviet Union. Nervous anxiety paranoia consumption and I can't do anything about it. Coming down from mania is rough business. Only real accomplishment of today was having survived this weekend.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

we must never, ever be boring

I shared a vagrant optimism that some of us were making real progress, that we had taken an honest road, and that the best of us would inevitably make it over the top.
At the same time, I shared a dark suspicion that the life we were leading was a lost cause, that we were all actors, kidding ourselves along on a senseless odyssey. It was the tension between these two poles—a restless idealism on one hand and a sense of impending doom on the other—that kept me going.
Hunter S. Thompson

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

déjà vu theory

déjà vu- "already seen"; also called paramnesia, from Greek παρα "para," "near, against, contrary to" + μνήμη "mnēmē," "memory") or promnesia, is the experience of feeling sure that one has witnessed or experienced a new situation previously (an individual feels as though an event has already happened or has happened in the recent past), although the exact circumstances of the previous encounter are uncertain.

I used to get déjà vu a lot- when I was a kid I remember riding my bike up a hill and being completely taken aback by the fact that I was absolutely positive I had already experienced that moment. I still get it sometimes, but I don't think I notice the feeling as being as transcendent as it used to be. I was thinking about the feeling a few years ago, and came up with an idea I really like.

Maybe God instills certain images in us before we are born- certain moments, sensations, feelings, or events that in the plan for your life are set to unfold. These are given to you as memories of things that you have not yet experienced, but if everything goes according to plan, you will.

When you get déjà vu, then, it can be taken as a sort of checkpoint- that every decision, instance, thought, action, and the compilation of every second of your life has led you up to that moment- which is where you were supposed to be. That can dispel any doubt or regret that you should've done anything differently. You are exactly where you were meant to be. Everything has occurred just as it was supposed to, and though your life may not have been perfect or as you planned it to occur, you have lived into the life you were meant for.

There isn't anywhere you can be that isn't where you were meant to be.
The Beatles

Thursday, April 8, 2010

everything i tell you now is true

You'll continue to be on the infinitely tall pedestal from which the fall would be fatal. Fatal for me, because if you were to fall it would surely mean my demise. I don't know how you would; you can do no wrong in my eyes. When you left you took away so much of me that I felt like I could barely function. Like I lost too much blood, or a vital organ. Even though you aren't present physically, you are here. I see you in everything around me, and I refuse to accept your absence. Like your presence has permeated so deeply into my psyche that I can only comprehend a situation when you are in it. I never knew what it was to be alone until I met you, and now I know it more intimately than anything else.

That day that you left last year the chandelier fell. I don't know what happened. I was sitting at the piano and suddenly it came crashing to the ground. It looked really pretty when it was falling; for a second there was light going through every one of the crystals and it shone so brightly the whole room looked like a rainbow. It shattered when it hit though, and there's still little shards of glass all over the floor that I can't see until I step on them. The room is so dark now, and when I go in there I remember how the bright patterns of refracted light used to cover the floor.

Every time the phone rings, every noise I hear in another room, every time I walk in a large crowd of people I expect you. The hall is still echoing with the intonations of your voice. It is so quiet, but it keeps me up at night. People can't really know me if they didn't know you. I told a stranger all about you last night. It was hard to know where to even start, with my mind exploding with its inability to articulate you. They could never understand the way I saw the colors around me intensify and deepen when you were there. The way everything around me became illuminated because when I saw it, I was also seeing you. There is no one else to me.

Sunday, April 4, 2010

all the people dreaming and the immensity of it

I felt my lungs inflate with the onrush of scenery—air, mountains, trees, people. I thought, 'This is what it is to be happy.'
Sylvia Plath

"That is well said," replied Candide, "but we must cultivate our garden."

little by little you will turn into stars.

then i'll dig a tunnel from my window to yours

We can go back to that secret meadow we found, with the little stream running through it and the old willow tree. We can talk about anything you want. You can tell me all your secrets, or we can talk about mermaids or the Freemasons. We don't have to talk though, I don't mind not talking when I'm with you. As the sun begins to set we can go into the treehouse we made last summer, where we lined the floor with the glittery stones we found on the beach that one day.

I still remember that day, when we made the huge sand castle with the moat. And when you stood up all the sand fell out of your hair and I couldn't remember seeing someone look more beautiful than you did in that moment.

We can stay up in the treehouse, and then we'll have that adventurous feeling of being out when we should be sleeping. We can watch the lightning bugs flicker on and off as the daylight fades away. Do you want to go back there? I want to go back.

Saturday, April 3, 2010

did you tell him all your secrets?

I don't want to make this a music blog, but I have to make an exception to rave about the Headlights show I went to last night. Headlights are signed to the record label that I interned for last semester, so I was familiar with them prior to the show. 'Market Girl' has been one of my favorite songs for a long time. Their live show completely blew me away. They opened for David Bazan, but truthfully he should have opened for them. Their stage presence was phenomenal, and I was really satisfied that I had been involved (albeit in a very minor way) at the record company they are part of. This is the first time since I saw Ezra Furman and the Harpoons over the summer that a performance has made me want to listen to everything they have produced. Their modesty was obvious in the dialogue they had with the crowd in a way that made me want to be friends with them; immediately endearing. The venue was pretty full, but it was as intimate as if they had been playing in a backyard during a summer party. In the midst of their national acclaim that was rather unexpected and very refreshing. I love Midwestern people, I really do. I liked these photos of them, and their uncanny ability to capture central Illinois as a destination scintillating with intrigue and understated beauty. It is too, it's just in how you look at it.

Friday, April 2, 2010

turn on tune in drop out

I want to work in revelations, not just spin silly tales for money. I want to fish as deep down as possible into my own subconscious in the belief that once that far down, everyone will understand because they are the same that far down.

Jack Kerouac

I've really been trying to figure out what I want to do with my life. Putting in some serious thought. I had to facilitate a symposium for the program that I'm in, and it was intimidatingly professional. In the middle of the dry cleaned button-downs and suits I found someone who basically did with his life what I aspire to do with mine. That was reassuring. He is now retired, but was a journalist who traveled all over the world doing foreign correspondence.

He told me that he had constantly felt restless in one place, and wanted to experience things for himself. Him and his friends wondered if getting drunk in Moscow would be more satisfying than in the United States. It sounded like they caused quite a ruckus behind the Iron Curtain. He wanted to experience every nuance of life and existence in a different context. I could basically feel the wonderlust just talking to him. I loved hearing crazy stories of getting detained by the KGB. He reminded me of Jack Kerouac. A lot of people and events remind me of Jack Kerouac, though, because I imagine I am a little obsessed. He said that he had confidence I would figure everything out, and he felt like he was talking to himself 30 years ago.

Is not this the true romantic feeling - not to desire to escape life, but to prevent life from escaping you?
Tom Wolfe

The event was interesting and important-seeming (chock full of distinguished alum and 'keynote speakers'), but afterward I needed to get away from structured bureaucracy. And my feet really hurt from my shoes. Really bad. I had gotten an email from my adviser about a writer visiting campus for a lecture he was giving. Typically those emails are about little speeches that academics make in lecture halls that you can attend. In this email the writer, Greg Lindsay, proposed meeting for drinks at a bar on Green Street. This sounded promising immediately, and in the enterprising spirit of the day I decided to go. My instincts turned out to be correct!

At one point in our discussion Lindsay compared himself to Tom Wolfe. I knew then that the rest of the night would be pretty interesting. It was nice to drink off the feeling of inadequacy that had burgeoned while listening to the lectures at the symposium gallivanting around campus with an esteemed writer. I loved listening to stories about the Manhattan power elite and ending up in cabs with David Bowie as much as hearing about KGB detainment. At one point I asked him if he ever found the NYC party circuit to be vapid and draining. He said he did, but he'd had a lot of fun getting to that point. I can imagine! While he told stories I was thinking of the smoke-filled bars they probably unfolded in. My imagination got a bit carried away and I think what I was imagining was more in tone with a speakeasy in the 1920s than a swanky Manhattan event full of socialites and entrepreneurs and artists.

I am fascinated by people who run with an idea or a passion and make it their livelihood. I love hearing stories of how you can make your own path through life. How the world is riddled through and criss-crossed with people making new trails all the time. People who defy the status quo. What a day!

They're just beginning to open the doors in their minds.
Tom Wolfe

Thursday, April 1, 2010

gone to look for america

The following photos are from my service trip to the Appalachian Mountains. We volunteered in Jonesville, Virginia. I can't stop thinking about it. I get a lot of satisfaction out of manual work, and after spending every waking moment with the same five kids I became a little obsessed with them. It was so bizarre seeing how drastically different it was in another region of the United States. I want to learn about different places and lifestyles, everywhere. I need perspective and I need to know what is out there.

I love traveling and I learn so much more from it than I do in school. Lately I can't stand sitting in a classroom. Can't. Stand. All I want to do is go everywhere and be a sponge. I want to help, too. I don't think I'll ever be satisfied with a completely sedentary lifestyle.

The other day one of my professors told me I was not creative. That was pretty difficult to hear because it is one of the characteristics that I think I most strongly possess. I know he's wrong, but it was still demoralizing. Other people will doubt you, but you must never doubt yourself.