Wednesday, December 27, 2006
I've lived in three countries in the last three years and have found myself many a time in the mixedest of groups-- with friends from Lebanon, England, Peru, Germany, Iceland, Australia, Japan, India, Denmark and many other nations one of my favorite pastimes has become 'the observation of small talk.' What I noticed, however, was that this pastime quickly became instead 'the observation of the ice-breaker called The Price of Beer.' It usually occurs in groups of three or more, and goes something like this:
Hey Max! This is my friend Kjarten from Iceland.
Whoa man, I hear beer over there is really expensive; is that true?
Yeah, man, it's rough. But dude, you have to pay in POUNDS over here-- that is almost as bad.
And then, and I am often astounded at how unaware of how incredibly nerdy this can get, there ensues an entire discussion about currency exchange, the cornerstone of which is The Price of Beer.
So, if a pint in London costs about 3pounds, and last month I was getting .67pounds to the euro, then that would be like 4euros50 per pint?
Yeah, that's awful. You really have to go to Latin America or Africa, man.
Oh yeah! I'm going to South Africa next month.
Oh hey-- we were just talking about South Africa.
Oh cool! I've been there-- beer is totally cheap there.
Yeah, well not as cheap as it is in Peru-- I got three huge bottles of Arequipena for 10nuevos soles because the guy at the hotel totally had a deal with the shop on the corner-- that's like a dollar a bottle and a bottle was like three pints... three pints for a dollar! And it is good beer too!
No way, you can't get a good English Ale or Stout for that though. I mean you can't even get it there at all, but you can get something like that at this great little place I know in Brooklyn-- you have to know where to go though. It's totally a locals only deal and you have to know exactly where it is because it is impossible to find. It's in the basement of this old warehouse and you would never know it-- but once you get inside it is all dark wood paneling and old casks and a huge long wooden bar with about a zillion micro-brews on tap...
Yeah, but those places close at like 2am. That's the problem with Pubs in London too though-- most of them close at 11pm. But when I go out with this one friend of mine, we go near Picidilly Square, and he totally knows all the crazy signs that the cab drivers leave outside random 24hr shops-- one time he walked into one of these places and asked for the owner. When the guy up front said he wasn't there, my friend walked to the back of the place, knelt down and knocked on the floor. A little trap door to a cellar popped up-- my friend passed a tenner through the door and someone passed a six-pack up to him! It was amazing! And dude, a tenner for a six pack in London is pretty good. I mean, it's better if you can get to Paris on the Eurostar, since the pound is so strong now, it's way better to use Euros, but really if you take into account the cost of living then the Price of Beer really is about the same probably...
These conversations can go on for hours.
The only thing, and I mean the ONLY thing, I have ever seen able to stop one mid-one-upping is a quick switch to soccer talk. The only thing more universally discussed that the Price of Beer? The World Cup. But that, of course, can go both ways...
Friday, October 20, 2006
As I've said before, I believe all letters are love letters-- because if someone takes the time to write you a real letter, it's gotta be out of love, right? So here is what I think; a letter finds its purpose in the world when it is part of a conversation, part of a relationship. Relationships are give and take, missing pieces put back together, synergy... when two people-- and this goes for anyones-- create something between them that is bigger than two people, and still just a One. It's this crazy not-math where 1+1=1!!!!! But if letters go out into the world, and are lost to indifference or selfishness, incapability or self-absorbtion, then they are only words. I've found this to be particularly true of love letters, but I think it holds for the rest too.
I think love letters are written to capture nothing more than a moment so powerful you can't imagine letting it slip away. In my experience, it's been more like the letters are writing me... like there is all this emotion and purpose and clarity that has to get itself down on paper; like the letter has a life of its own. It has to become a tangible thing, an object of memory; it wants to be written, and read over and over, and stored somewhere secret and special and slightly scented... People hold on to love letters to remind themselves of themselves, of that moment of clarity, of yesness, of passion, and of the energy they once created, or wanted to create, with someone. I'll admit I've got my secret place all sorted out, it just needs a letter or two.
Anyway. Here I am, about to embark on yet another solo journey far away from home. I think it's the last one I have in me for awhile. My proirities are shifting, and as much as I love the synergy of letters, the way of absence making the heart grow fonder, I love hugs more. And I need to remind myself that I can be peaceful, and purposeful, and have pride in my work and my self wherever and however I choose to be.
But while I'm away, please write me letters. Put a little of your heart and soul down on paper, see how it feels, smells, lives and breathes... and send it to me. I promise to write back.
Monday, October 09, 2006
I get all heated every time this song comes on the radio. Do people not HEAR this anthem to apathy? "it's not that we don't care, we just know that the fight ain't fair so we keep on waiting waiting on the world to change". Pleeeeeeease.... The apathy of the youth of the 90s needs to get over itself. Waiting on the world to change? Stop that. Change the world. Be the words that you say. Stand up for something. Figure out who the hell you are and then BE that person. Vote as that person, work as that person, love as that person and change the world as that person.
If I had your resources and audience John, I would be doing something very Other than waiting on the world to change. Stop talking about your watch collection, and your love life (we really don't care), and talk about how we can change, how we are changing the world.
Because I look around me and see the people I love doing just that. Creating possibilities for themselves and acting like global citizens. Investing their lives by serving their countries, investing their time in teaching, investing their money in causes and orgainzations they believe in, investing their hearts in the people around them... and in people far away from them. None of these members of our generation are Waiting on the World to Change.
Get out of Hollywood and New York for a few minutes, John, and stop WAITING. What kind of excuse are you trying to make? Don't make any for me, please. I refuse to be a part of that crap.
Friday, September 29, 2006
Clifford D. May points out in the Minneapolis Star Tribune that “in Muslim countries Christianity and Judaism are attacked viciously and routinely”—yet in our country communism, fascism, socialism, and really anything anti-democratic is, or has been, treated the same. The McCarthy hearings, the current embargo on
So ‘Muslims’ are saying ‘it is wrong to speak ill of our religion,’ and the goal of Muslims may indeed be to spread Islam across the globe, to wipe out those in its path. But the goal of the
May states that Muslims “are attempting nothing less than the establishment of a new world order in which the supremacy of what they call the Nation of Islam is acknowledged, and "unbelievers" submit -- or die. Call it an offer you can't refuse.”
Now hang on a minute. Wasn’t it the former President Bush who proclaimed there would be a New World Order after the fall of the Soviet Empire? And wasn’t it the current President Bush who echoed the same on 9/11?
For the Nation of Islam ‘unbelievers’ submit or die—but for those who attack democratic freedom? For them, the
Consider yourself a relativist for a moment and take a look at another of May’s quotations.
"The Muslims take their religion very seriously," Choudary explained as if to a disobedient child, "and non-Muslims must appreciate that and must also understand that there may be serious consequences if you insult Islam and the prophet. Whoever insults the message of Mohammed is going to be subject to capital punishment.
Now, look again.
“The Americans take their democracy very seriously,” President Bush explained as if to a disobedient child, "and non-Americans must appreciate that and must also understand that there may be serious consequences if you insult Democracy and the President. Whoever insults the message of the American forefathers is going to be subject to capital punishment."
American and Muslim governments are very different. Americans believe in the freedom that is granted to us by the US Constitution—but Muslims believe in freedom too; a freedom that one has in their soul when they follow the Qu’ran. And while some Muslims may have a religion which asks non-believers to ‘submit or die,’ American democracy also is a religion which our soldiers fight and fall for, which our government evangelizes, and in which we believe.
Monday, July 10, 2006
It must be an eye-opening experience, realizing that you don’t know how to walk home. The route that many Londoner’s keep in their heads is not of roads but of underground train lines. Each morning they enter a tunnel, and some minutes later they emerge, blinking, miles and miles across the city.
Yesterday around four in the afternoon, I emerged instead from my flat four blocks from one of the terrorist bomb explosions. As the sun came out over rain soaked central London, I could see streams of people walking north up our street from the King’s Cross Station area. I live near a busy road that is one of the main veins in and out of the city, and there were police in their bright day-glo yellow coats at every intersection. No longer teeming with the blackened, frightened faces that my roommate saw filing onto a bus that morning, swathed in silver emergency blankets, now the streets were filled with ordinary people. Many of them had no idea which streets to take home.
We had stayed in our flat all day, as advised by the police chief, and proceeded to navigate a flood of emails to and from all of our friends and family—our mobile phones, and even our landline, weren’t working. The neighbourhood was far from quiet, however, as sirens and the whir of helicopters continued throughout the day. I was quickly reminded of how I went through the very same process a few years ago in New York. No bodily harm? Check. Call mom and dad in Minneapolis? Check. Make sure all friends in London are ok? Check. Send mass email to everyone I know? Check. Watch the news? Check. Slowly make my way back, unaffected, into my regular life? Definitely more difficult.
We walked a bit east to the Angel neighbourhood—where another main road runs north all the way through outer London—and encountered a man who had printed off hundreds of maps of the area. He was handing them out to disoriented commuters. A simple act of kindness. We sat down at one of the few open café’s, and watched London walk by. Again, the sidewalks were thick with people all travelling north. Waiting for a friend to arrive (she was stranded in the city for the evening and would be staying with us that night), memories New York again filled my thoughts. My roommate at the time had walked eight miles, including across the Brooklyn Bridge amidst thousands of frightened, ash-covered Americans, to get home. But here, people were calm. They were stoically walking their children home from school, grocery shopping, and talking on their mobile phones: men hauling heavy briefcases, and women suffering their office heels.
Soon we began to see buses running again—the ones headed south empty save a few, and the ones travelling north absolutely packed with steadfast commuters. This is a tough city, and it can’t be bothered to stop and listen to the voice of a hateful few. The wheels and gears of the machine that is London which had ground to a halt at 8:50am had started to creak to life again. The unaffected parts of the tube were running in time for the Friday morning commute. The unaffected people? Well, they just don’t exist. But now, at least, they know how to walk home.
Thursday, May 18, 2006
Wednesday, May 17, 2006
you know how when you are a child you don't really think of your parents as 'people'?
yeah well, someone said something about how cute it was that my parents were 'peter and wendy, just like in peter pan' when i was in the SEVENTH GRADE, and i had never made the connection. i swear. i can remember the moment. it was mrs bjork's math class. i was sitting in the third seat in the last row against the right-hand wall when you were looking at the board.
i didn't tell that person that, though! i just smiled and said-- 'yeah i know! cute, right?!'
the BISA, though, is that i've begun to think it's real too... my dad is totally peter pan... it's like he's got this little boy inside... and my mom is just like the wendy-bird... i really really like these thoughts...
Tuesday, May 16, 2006
my BISA today is letters.
love letters especially-- although, something about letters in general makes me think they are ALL love letters in some way... i mean, you take the time out to write a letter, it's gotta be out of love, right?
'love letters to no one' is a great imaginary... i feel like i write a lot of these actually...
'come by and see me, i'm a love letter away' --voxtrot
Monday, May 15, 2006
Anyway, I'm not going to totally bore you, this time, with academic nonsense. The reference is this-- at camp we do this thing called Devotions. It sounds all churchy but it's not really. We just take some time out of the evening to sit together in a circle (best with a campfire) and talk about things that are purposeful, and passionate, and problematic, and possibly fantastic in our minds, bodies, hearts and lives. Yeah, well it's camp. And yes I am getting to the point. Usually there is a central question, or game, that brings out everyone's responses. My favorite game (BWCA rules are the best, but I can make do just about anywhere), the one that give me fire in the belly, is called Hopes and Fears (hence the research topic). And the reason it is so great is as follows: I do NOT have a fear of wasps. Why that is a strange way to start, you say. Yes. But it is significant because I SHOULD be VERY VERY afraid of wasps. All the social theory I can get my hands on tells me that the way I think, the way I hope, the way I fear, is due to past experiences. When I was young (8 maybe?), I climbed up into the treehouse at my cabin with my dad on the ladder behind me. It was a really really high up treehouse. And it had, unbeknownst to us, a really really big wasps nest underneath it. Well, we climbed up into that treehouse, my dad and I, and tromped around. We pissed of those wasps something fierce. And they came a-calling to tell us about it. HUNDREDS of them. And I was in shorts.
I do not remember being stung (over one hundred times). I do not remember being in pain, or being scared. I only remember my dad yelling for my mom and swatting wasps away from me. I only remember him dropping me from the top of the ladder down to my mom waiting below. I only remember her catching me, and running into the house. I only remember her putting baking soda paste onto every sting. I am not afraid of wasps. I don't even flinch. That memory-- the one that Bourdieu and all the other fancy sociologists tell me should always be reminding me to be afraid, only reminds me of how much my parents love me. My dad was stung way more than I. I'll bet he remembers. It's a great memory. And they are fucking great parents. That's an uber-BISA.
Ok and yeah, so if you really want to know, wasps and devotions are pretty much where my PhD is coming from.
well, the whole wasp story, really
the idea of a 'kharma boomerang'-- gets 'em every time.
Sunday, May 14, 2006
It's like, here go my thoughts, and you can see where they came from, and you kind of know where they are going, but now they have become your thoughts too...
See! Elipses are great. It's like they promise something good and meaningful, or funny and just not something that one can actually talk about in polite conversation.
Saturday, May 13, 2006
I've been following the Moussaoui case a bit... I read a lot of online news (thank you Google, you are the best friend a girl could have). And I read today that there was one dissenting, anonymous voter who is the reason Moussaoui did not get the death penalty. I've read all the various craziness about the trial-- the guilty plea, the attempted retraction, the changing story, the whole 'martyr' issue... and frankly I just don't care. I applaud the anonymous hold-out. I don't even care if, Runaway Jury style, the whole damn thing was rigged. Yes-- I realize that the 'American justice system needs to do it's job'. And no I do not buy the argument that it is 'expensive' to keep people in jail. The number of people executed is just over 1000. 1000 people. We can't afford to keep alive 1000 people on government cheese and hamburgers? Please. Bottom line? I just don't think that it is, ever has been, or ever will be, the job of the State to kill people. For any reason. And it's not because it's God's or anyone else's job either. It's no one's job. Death just happens. But it shouldn't happen that way. I don't think things are 'wrong' or 'right', but I hate the death penalty. I'm using the word hate here, about the death penalty. It's just not good, not purposeful, not meaningful. I hate it body mind and spirit, all the way down into my gut. I hate it hate it hate it.
I really really don't get angry often. I don't. But as you can see, this whole issue gets me really really heated. Why, you ask? Because it means that the State is deciding that the only meaning in life, the only thing that makes people what they are, is what the State decides is valuable-- their past. Motherfuckers. We NEVER KNOW what is going to happen to us, for us, with us, or through us in the future.
I agree that if you are a citizen in a democratic nation, and you break the rules, you must be responsible for that decision. But I do not agree that any rule, set out by any one or any society, should mandate death. There is just too much grey area, to much at stake in a guilty/not-guilty system which leaves no room for manouvre or context.
If the State set up some rules which led to the killing of black people, or women, or gays, or native americans, or 'insert marginalized group here', we would be outraged. But criminals? Somehow that is ok?
How dare the lawmakers decide what makes someone valuable. How fucking dare they.
Friday, May 12, 2006
Do you ever wonder how birds feel after they fly into a windowpane? The one's that live, anyway. And wake up after all the 'stun' business is over. Yeah, I think it must be like a strange hangover... like there was no alcohol involved and yet you still feel nauseus, and stupid... but not regretful because if you hadn't tried flying through you never would have known if it was glass or a great adventure? exactly. And then you also have lost the dreams of what *might* have been on the other side of that window... that's the worst part actually. Although it does force you to keep generating new dreams... that's not so bad.
Thursday, May 11, 2006
Wednesday, May 10, 2006
even though it's just beginning to be summer here, I get this feeling in the evenings when it's all chilly and i need my sleeping bag...
i could go crazy on a night like tonight
summers beginning to give up her fight
every thought's a possiblility
voices are heard but nothing is seen
why do you spend this time with me
may be an equal mystery
Tuesday, May 09, 2006
I lived with ghosts for two summers at camp. No really. I did. There's even a picture. I lived in this little teeny room in the main lodge. It isn't really a bedroom-- I dragged out all the crap that was being stored in there (microscope, boxes, old books, table, weird old dentist chair, you know-- camp stuff), and dragged in a camper bed. My mom made me curtains. I had my comforter that I'd used every summer at camp since I was 8, and my sleeping bag (see previous post). And I had ghosts. Besides all the poetic ones I could think of, echoes of campfire songs, chapel's of yesteryear and firewalk services past, and laughter of long gone campers, I also had real spirits in there. The old director sleeping on his bed under the stairs, doors opening in the middle of the night, lights flickering, screens banging when there's no wind... and just this incredible feeling. This incredible you're-not-alone feeling. I loved that room. I love ghosts. Reminders of all the living that's been going on. All the friendships, and fights, and crying, and caring, and laughing and singing and dancing. I could smell them, the ghosts. I really really could. They took care of me I think. Let me sleep well and live well.
What/who are your ghosts? It's time to make this blog interactive. Give me BISAs people.
and i start to feel a feeling
like the warm air through the screen
you come regular like seasons
shadowing my dreams
Monday, May 08, 2006
I never want to forget how marvelous is my hybrid sleeping bag. I love my sleeping bag. I'm using the word love here, about my sleeping bag. (and if you get the reference, you win a soft shell). It's down on the inside-- for softness and happy dreams, and poly on the outside, to take on the weather. It's the perfect length, and it has a pocket for my watch (alarm) or a midnight snack!!! I have no idea what they made the lining out of.... but it might just be heaven.
This is what I love about my sleeping bag the most, though-- it's like when I am in it, all of the little spaces in my mind where images can be are filled up with beautiful ones of nature... the cliff in the boundary waters where I took the best nap ever, the steam rising from a hot cup of tea just outside the door of the tent on the inca trail, the sight of my house from the sleepy camping-in-the-backyard eyes of my eight year old self, a mouse scurrying along the log walls of my little room in homaji lodge, the sight from the deck of the stars over half moon lake, the moonlight peeking through the straw walls of my little hut at the bottom of the colca canyon, or the nothern lights over the athletic field at camp... my sleeping bag wraps me up in all of these images and I sleep so happy.
I live in the city now. London-- it's a Big City. There is are no tents or canyons in sight. But I brought my sleeping bag. It's on my couch. I lay on my couch, under my sleeping bag, and look out the back door at my primroses and the pidgeons (and the snails-- I have to nap with one eye open if it's raining), and fall asleep on Sunday afternoons... it's marvelous. I think the next time I am camping, there will be a new image to add to the portfolio. Who would have guessed it would have come from my little flat in London.
Sunday, May 07, 2006
Saturday, May 06, 2006
Yeah well apparently it's a slippery slope. I find myself using the f-bomb in polite conversation, on the bus, and in the pub (although I will never say it to little kids... that river runs too deep). And I have further realized that I enjoy saying it more than anyone else... in a sneaky kind of way. For the Brits, fuck is just a word. Their answer to the American 'darn' or 'crap'. But for ME? For me it is NAUGHTY. I am being a REBEL. Those of you who know me know what a coup this is-- and it's this very point which makes saying the word fuck such a feel good experience for me. It is like this little secret that I have with myself. I don't have to smoke, or binge-drink, I can just fucking swear... and no one else knows I'm swearing!
Baby steps people, work with me here.
So if anyone wants to cross the street without looking both ways, run with scissors, or turn in a paper without a staple, I'm your girl!
I am writing an essay this weekend and, thus, have only left the flat for grocerys. So I thought today's contribution to the collection would be pretty fucking lame. But I came up with one of my favorite new pop culture references, and he's American to balance out the posting.
"it's not about the bike"
I use this one all the time-- replace 'bike' with whatever.
"it's not about Peru"
"it's not about the mountain"
"it's not about the snails"
"it's not about ME"
Friday, May 05, 2006
Thursday, May 04, 2006
"if I needed some 24year old to tell me the world was 'dangerous', I would have called my little sister. she tells me these things because she loves me, not because she's a wanker."
"and then i do wonder where my attention was. if that is even the question." (m.r.)
Wednesday, May 03, 2006
But as I said, this post is about snails. The little suckers climb up the brick wall from outside my deck, sneak into my planters, and devour everything pink. I have been spending about 30mintues every day picking them off plants and tossing them back from whence they came. My routine has changed somewhat now, however, thanks to an episode with a particular snail two days ago. After removing three or so quarter sized individuals from their lunch, I returned inside to finish my novel (Never Let Me Go, Kazuo Ishiguro, pretty good). About an hour later, I glanced out the window in the back door to see a snail inching its way up the outside of one of my planters. Shaking my head, why won't they just leave us alone, I thought, I went outside to reprimand the newby. Picking him off the planter, however, I noticed that his shell was cracked, and it was missing a big old chunk. You little fucker (I said this out loud, smiling, sort of). It one of the same damn snails I had just tossed out. I admit it; hucking snails as far as I can over the far brick wall of the building feels pretty damn good. Do birds like escargot?
See how you like THEM pidgeons, Slick.
And stay out of my primroses.
BISA's for today:
'a strange new combination of the things we've handed down' (m.cohn)
'farewell to the old me' (dar)
'the beauty of the rain, is how it falls' (dar)
'you are what you read' (y.g.m.)
'my friend who cares about me, but who doesn't give what i need and doesn't need what i give...'
Tuesday, May 02, 2006
I've tried my hand at songwriting and poetry, and am always working phrases around in my head... the only thing I know I am really good at writing, though is letters. The by hand kind. The by hand kind that means I get to use stationary or postcards, stickers and postage stamps. I like the way handwriting is expressive, how certain strokes depend on the viscosity of the ink, density of the paper, or construction of the writing implement...
But that's sort of an aside, because this blog ain't about letters. For those you'll have to wait for the book. Ha.
This blog is about words. It's about phrases... the little gems that I think up, and the ones I borrow from conversations overheard, songs, quotations, ads, poems... This blog is about the phrases people use in everyday life that capture emotions, and be-ing... the ones that capture truth.
Just as a photograph can portray something real and wise, so too can words create images of beauty, if only in the imagination. It's wordography. I’m a wordographer, and I fashion wordographs.
So I'm making a collection. I've tried this before-- time and again, really. But it never fit properly. China dolls, meh. Books, hard to transport. Patches, stickers, buttons... meh, meh, meh. Favorites get lost, there's no cohesion, no purpose, no meaning.
But WORDS, man. Stuff that won't just end up on a Nalgene water bottle, or covered with dust in my childhood bedroom awaiting transplant to the 'tubs' in the basement. A collection of ideas, of images, of intimate truths, is a collection I can get behind.
But, frankly, 'wordograph' just isn't pretty. I don't want to be calling this a collection of wordographs, of wordos. Hell no. My term of choice is 'bisa' (pronounced bis-sa). If you haven't caught on already, gimme a second to explain...
My challenge, my hope, my goal, is to collect at least one great bisa every day antes de la se escabulle.
Before It Slips Away.