Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Thinking, living simply

Christmas is over, the new year is about to begin. I was reading about the New Monastics yesterday, in particular the organization known as the Simple Way, and found something interesting.

"Action must be accompanied by reflection, and reflection by action."

Not only is it true, it is something that has been on my mind lately. I have enjoyed this December period of reflection and am beginning to recognize the great cycle of rest, reflection, and planning which leads one back to action. Rest and reflection seem particularly necessary to the work of an artist or visionary of any type. When one is deeply entrenched in the thoughts and actions of the work at hand, the struggles of the day, it is extremely difficult to "think big," or draw those abstract connections necessary for substantial innovation.

It's always nice to go away for a while, get some of that "mountaintop" perspective on your life. That's what generally happens when I go to Kentucky with my family to visit my aunt. Every year we spend Christmas together, and every year not only do I get to know my family better, but myself as well.

This time, the realization that came as a shock is that lately, I have been behaving of a citizen of Spartanburg. No offense to Spartanburg, but I only have one citizenship and that kingdom is not of this world. I haven't exactly learned to balance my life in this world with my role in the Body of Christ, but lately, the balance has been heartily skewed in favor of the former. This is me acknowledging the problem as a first step toward correcting it.

I'm so glad to be going to Atlanta this weekend. It's hard to explain the sort of perspective one gets when completely immersed in the local expression of the Body of Christ, but it's beautiful, and it's real. And the beauty of it all is, the closer one is with the Spirit of God, the more perfectly all other facets of one's life are handled, including one's responsibility to one's neighbors, country and planet. Jesus is panacea. Of course I'm not talking about knowing, talking, or preaching about Him, I'm talking about the Person Himself, and actually being one with Him. It's not like He's not here with me in Spartanburg, of course He is. But the link sometimes feels...tenuous. And we need to be shored up occasionally.

I've been experimenting with cooking a little more lately. Today I made pasta with a mushroom-garlic-shrimp cream sauce. There's a certain appeal to my sense of adventure in the challenge of creating a delicious meal from whatever is at hand. Dad has this great cookbook called More-with-Less. It's not just a collection of recipes, it's a presentation of an entire perspective on cooking. Mennonites wrote it. Something tells me that the New Monastics would get a kick out of it too. It basically holds to the premise that we Americans expect, and give ourselves, too much. Too many choices, quantities larger than we need, overcomplicated, exotic ingredients replacing what grows in our back yard. And of course, convenience foods, regarding which I am the queen of sinners. This book teaches how to apply your mind and creativity to create meals that are healthier, kinder to the environment, cheaper, and tastier all at the same time. I highly recommend it.

One piece of wisdom I took out of the book today is that a beautifully prepared meal can be a gift, showing your love to family and guests. More than that, there's this powerful idea of connectedness, an idea that cooking can be not only a manifestation of love, but even spirituality. I'm not sure if I'm making myself clear, but I'm sure Brother Lawrence would know exactly what I'm talking about. Approach everthing with prayer and attentiveness, that's one thing that God has been trying to tell me lately. And it's so foreign to the modern American way of life. Sometimes I just want to back out of life entirely and spend a few years learning how to live properly.

Which kind of reminds me of a friend's blog I read today. (or doesn't really, but I have to segue somehow) Tim and Hannah were true mentors to me before they moved to Austin. Lately I've been following their blogs and it's almost as good as soaking up the Diller goodness firsthand. Well Tim wrote an excellent post about bicycling as therapy. I'm ashamed to admit that I haven't as much as looked at my poor Bike E since gaining a car in October. But Tim's very accurate description of the reflection, pleasure and feeling of connectedness that goes with riding a bike made me want to dig it out and give it some love. I've got a few reams of Root to deliver as well as a few other errands so I've decided to make an outing of it tomorrow. I've got my camera back now (HALLELUJAH! It shows up after a whole year missing!) so I'll take a few pictures. Then you'll finally get to see where my blog's funny name comes from.

Oh yes. We watched Expelled: No Intelligence Allowed today. I had some misgivings about it, but I was actually pretty impressed overall. (not that it didn't have its shortcomings.) I would encourage anyone with an open mind, who supposes that the scientific community is an open-minded place, to watch it. One interesting thing I learned (really it was only incidental in the movie but I found it fascinating nonetheless) is that the founder of Planned Parenthood (I forgot her name) was a leader in the Eugenics movement of the early 20th century. Doesn't surprise me, really.

Hmm. I should go to sleep now since I'll be rising early for my adventure tommorow!

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Skate, art, and a job

Hey, it's a Greer-based arts zine:
(haven't really looked at it just noticed the ad on facebook...)

Today as I was driving home, I noticed several cars parked in the big empty lot next to the abandoned gas station next to my house. I looked closer and saw a bunch of kids on skateboards. A sign read "Sk8 Contest Today!" I've never really had much to do with skateboarding, but it was interesting and rare enough that I had to stop in for a closer look. Turns out, it was a fund raiser / party for the soon-to-be started skate park coming to Union Street. That's cool. Especially because, from what I understand, local skate kids had a big part in designing the park and making it happen. I'm not much of a sports spectator but it was fun watching all those skaters all the way from tiny six-year-olds to high school and maybe a few beyond.

Caroll Foster, a photographer I've seen a bit around Hub-Bub, was the MC today and has been one of the players. I'm pretty sure Will Barnet, the mayor's son, has been involved too. Caroll said it's taken 5 years to get it all together and get the approval, funds and support, but they've pretty much gotten all the money now and will be starting early next year. Here's the website with more info.

Way to go, guys! Can't wait to see the skate park in full swing!

Oh yes, I also wanted to mention, they've created my dream job. My application's in and I'm waiting for a call. Woohoo! Now I have to get all professional and stuff for the interview.

Friday, December 5, 2008

Chicago, Drinks and Clothing

Can't believe it's been nearly a month since I was here. Just been busy.

Read about this chica in Fiber Arts at work today. And this one. Way cool. And how about this fashion label. Slow fashion...what a concept! I feel new years resolutions brewing...

I went to Chicago. In a van. With my friends. lol. Normally I would want to spend an entire afternoon chronicling the epic journey, but unfortunately, the storytelling impulse has been exhausted on friends and parents. Didn't get to the blog soon enough.

It was marvelous, and I suppose to make up for not saying much I will repost a few photos from friends' facebooks. Maybe I will ask their permission first. In the meantime, I will share the facebook note I wrote:

A Collection of Tasty Drinks
So I decided I would begin a list of unusual non-alchoholic beverages to inspire the palate and quench the thirst of the adventurous teetotaler (or designated driver). Feel free to add to this list.

Boba / Bubble Tea

A pan-Asian treat. Frequently fruit- or coffee-flavored, often smoothie-like but whose distinguishing characteristic are the tapioca balls ("bubbles") which add a unique chewing experience. I recently had an avocado-flavored boba - it was actually quite tasty.

A Latin American rice milk drink. Generally enjoyed iced with cinnamon and vanilla.

Mango Lassi
A thick, rich Indian yogurt drink. Pale orange in color, It's got a great taste and texture and is perfect for cooling your tongue after some spicy papadomes and chutney.

Chicha Morada
A brilliant purple Peruvian drink made from purple corn. Very sweet, tastes a little fruity, a little like bubble gum and cinnamon.

Thai Tea
A sweet, smoky, milky beverage from (you guessed it) Thailand. Opaque amber in color, very rich and usually enjoyed iced.

Grass Jelly Drink
One of many unusual sweet herb-flavored Asian beverages. Contains dark-green jelly cubes. Tastes...herby.

Basil Seed Drink
Another Asian herbal oddity, real basil seeds in their little jelly sacs are suspended throughout. If you can get past their striking resemblance to frog eggs, it is actually, a pleasant, refreshing beverage.

The last three can be purchased canned or bottled at your local Asian grocery. Horchata can be purchased in powder or bottle form at just about any grocery with a hispanic foods section. For bubble tea, chicha morada, and mango lassi, your best bet is to visit a restaurant of the appropriate ethnicity.Will post more as I find them. Please respond with your favorites. I'm particularly curious about any savory drinks out there.

Ooh that reminds me:

Avocado Soup
A chilled pureed soup with many variations. My dad and I make it from avocados, chicken broth, soy milk, garlic and green peppercorns. Frothy and delicious. I drink it from a mug so it counts.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Role Models

I'm not surprised at the election outcome. Nor am I terribly upset. Whatever his faults, the President-elect has already become an inspiration to millions upon millions of people, both here and abroad. I believe in the power of the people's belief in Obama. I also believe this power could prove beneficial or very destructive, depending on the true character of the one who wields it. I guess we'll be finding out.

But it got me thinking. Last Thursday, I attended the Hub-Bub Green Screen, where we watched two short films, one called "Gimme Green" about America's obsession with fertilized, pesticided (?) irrigated lawns, and the other called the Story of Stuff, which you can watch for yourself by clicking here. Do it. I mean right now. It's only maybe 20 minutes long. No seriously, stop reading this and click the link.

It's really incredible how consumerism has been the one value that unites America. I guess I'd missed it at the time, but the fact that President Bush, after 9/11, when he could have issued any number of inspirational missives, told us to SHOP? I mean really?!! What we consume has become our cultural identity, how we define our worth and happiness. When you stand back and think about it, isn't it pathetic?

The discussion afterward, as always, was fascinating. I just love these events because people of thought and action in the community are coming together to learn and think and share on matters important to me. Tammy Stokes, whom I've been keeping up with on Seeding Spartanburg, led the discussion. It was nice to finally put a face to the name.

I was still thinking about the elections, and the mixture of it all gave me an idea. Americans are very suggestible. I mean, they've been trained, from an early age, to buy up all the stuff the media has been selling them. Like it or not, if the TV/news/magazines say jump, 90 percent of America jumps. This includes the people they are supposed to look up to. Certain individuals are tagged as heroes, and society believes it, and they look up to these people and try to imitate them.

Now it's already been perfectly clear that the media is obsessed with Mr. Obama. He was a celebrity even before he was elected (Actually...given the above observation, a causative relationship doesn't seem far-fetched...) Anyway, as president, I can already imagine how every minute detail of his and his family's life will be televised and photographed, every uttered word captured, printed, and revered. And I know this happens to a certain degree with every president but this is like, the Kennedys multiplied by Oprah.

This could be very good for America if President Obama and his family can be pursuaded to be positive role models. What if they went into the White house and started eliminating wasteful spending right on the household level? I mean, applying sustainable living and energy conservation concepts. I can see the headlines now: "WHITE HOUSE GOES GREEN" and if O magazine wrote an article about Michelle Obama doing it, then all of the sudden it would be raised to national consciousness like never before and you'd have all these housewives wanting to go green because Michelle Obama said it was our duty to our country to reduce waste and make what we have go farther (thus helping to reduce national debt etc.)

There are so many ways to conserve energy that are just really simple and easy and make a huge difference. And it all makes sense once you take the time to listen to someone explain it. And obviously a lot of people would listen to Obama if he cared to explain (or at least endorse) it. And of course actions speak louder than words.

I feel like I'm not making my point very well but all I mean out of this is that I think we all should write letters to President Obama stressing the importance of him advocating sustainable choices and responsible spending beginning on the family level, and modeling it in his own family.This works on both the macro and micro level, and it will take both. If people could begin to realize it is their duty to their country and to their planet, and also serves them both short and long term...they'd realize the way they have been living is stupid and change. We just need a strong enough catalyst.

Earlier I said I didn't think Obama would go for this kind of advocacy. But maybe I was wrong. Besides, that's too fatalistic an attitude, after hearing Chris's point about our responsibility to act upon the solutions we want. So I intend to write a letter to the Obamas. Who's with me? Hey, maybe they'll listen.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

I have a headache.

I stayed up too late last night researching Chuck Baldwin and Ralph Nader. Now I am babysitting the library while everyone else votes. It's very quiet in here.

One last thought for anyone who hasn't voted yet: Please pray first.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

recycled political spew

Mmm...I'm starting to like this thinking about politics thing. My brain has needed the exercise since I got out of school. Here are my thoughts in response to Chris's recent blog on political power. Please forgive the elevated speech. It just seems to be the language of my brain on politics, I didn't mean to sound pretentious...

(please read the original blog before you read my answer)

As usual you've clearly articulated some very good thoughts here, Chris. I love the quote from Thoreau. And of course Gandhi's is one of my all time favorites.

chAng, I have to agree with Chris as far as the political power we hold. Voting and jury duty? What about lobbying? How do you think the barons of the oil industry and all the other corporations we love to hate have gotten their interests so deeply engraved in legislature?

And what about the countless, tireless social reformers who spoke up and marched and entreated and wrote letters and boycotted - and those who continue in their tradition today? Chris I'll add to your list of victories one we'd all rather forget - what about the Prohibition?

Voting is only the beginning - the infant's first step - to enacting change. With this in mind, I have to hand it to your precious Obama - he comes a hair closer - with his campaign - to inspiring people to direct, grassroots action than any presidential candidate I've known. If only I could believe that, once in the white house, he won't simply put his feet up, turn to all the grassroots leaders who have fought so hard for him and say "Thanks for the hard work guys...I'll take it from here."

I was surprised by the conclusion you drew from your "approach to voting," which isn't fundamentally different from mine. Issues change, after all - I want someone who will confront whatever issue is at hand from the perspective I am most fundamentally aligned with - this is the person I can trust. However, you threw me for a loop when you said this is an argument against third-party voting - I had seen it in support of a non-bipartisan system! After all, what is one supposed to do when the two dominant, prepackaged standpoints are closer to each other than they are to mine? (Therein lies the difference between us, Chris...)

And laying aside all the issues the Dems and Reps are virtually ignoring, how are any other viewpoints to be heard at all, much less represented in government, when most everyone in power was handpicked as the truest shade of red or blue? What progress can be made in debate between two parties for whom all issues are settled, who have already made up their minds? Sure, they'll listen to those with whom they agree...to those whose concerns they've allowed onto the table.

After reading your post and thinking it over, I am only more deeply convinced to vote third-party. (Regardless of whether another candidate more accurately reflects my views). If the biggest problem with the third-party vote is what we all three agree it is - not enough people believe the system can change - then it is even more imperative that I use my vote as more than a vote - as a voice for change.

Political scientists are already beginning to notice the shift - more Americans are claiming themselves as independents and straight-ticket voting is decreasing. As the aggregate of third-party votes rises, Americans, in typical fashion, will realize that "other people are doing it, I guess I can too." It will compound on itself and more and more people will begin to consider non-bipartisan politics as viable and possible. I'm not sure what other actions, legislations and paradigm shifts will have to take place, but I am compelled to, if nothing else, take that first baby step.

Hmm...now do I continue my research on third-party presidential candidates, go work on my Halloween costume, or watch Heroes? Decisions decisions.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

It's muh birfday!

I'm 20 years old today. How about that.

I'm writing this while manning the front desk at the library so I'll have to be brief. Tommorow I'm leaving for Kentucky...my wonderfully awesome Aunt Mary Beth is giving me her old car - a '96 camry with a CD player and a sunroof - and all I have to do is go pick it up!

So I guess I'm getting Freedom for my 20th birthday. I'd say that makes the Top 10 list of best gifts ever.

Makes me want to go on a road trip. One without my dad offering me peanuts & jerky every 5 minutes and my mom feigning a heart attack every time I hit the brakes. Maybe one with company of my own choosing and a soundtrack we create and a destination unknown until we get there...

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Two Evils

Nah, I don't actually think either Obama or McCain are evil but I don't like 'em neither. It's so late and I'm exhausted but I have to record my observations and conclusions of the debate or I will hate myself tomorrow.

I've been really riding the fence this whole election season. I refuse to have anything to do with the major parties and in fact utterly despise the bi-partisan system. My mother is a Democrat-turned-Republican and my father is something like a radically constitutional alt-energist conservative with Libertarian leanings. They have instilled in me an understanding that one of the fundamental ideas America was founded on is that government is a necessary evil and therefore should have a smaller rather than a larger role in the lives of citizens. Another is that all the power within a country and, following, its responsibility, stems from and ultimately lies with us, the citizens. Not the state.

Tonight, after watching and listening to both candidates, I still am really borderline. Both candidates managed at times to utterly impress me, and at other times completely disappoint me. However I did arrive at two new conclusions. 1. I really can't stand McCain - his "stage presence" is horrible and he's a pompous braggart. 2. I'd feel safer with McCain leading the country than Obama.

This is why: Obama, for all his smooth speech, intelligence and even sincerity, is Democratic to the very core. He has many, many grand ideas, for increasing volunteer opportunities, bailing out various people groups in need, and extending financial help to struggling countries, etc. etc. And yet, he claims he's going to reduce our net spending. As many projects tonight he suggested funding, he did not elaborate on one solid idea for where to cut. Except, of course, cutting taxes for "95% of working Americans." Oh wait, that's less money to spend on these government projects, not more. Don't get me wrong, I don't like the government siphoning money off of my honest labor any more than the next person, but where does he expect the money for all these great dreams to come from? Are we supposed to just print it up and get bit in the butt by inflation?

McCain brought up Obama's vote for a 3-million dollar projector for a Chicago planetarium. My Democratic friends, with whom I was watching the debate (at Hub-Bub), considered that an irrelevant attack. But it brought to light Obama's fundamental belief about the government's role in society. To him, it was the federal government's responsibility to write legislation to give one projector to one planetarium. As much as I'm sure that planetarium really needed that projector and it benefited a bunch of people, I do not believe that a law should have been written about it, or that it was the Fed's responsibility to think about it in the first place.

McCain acknowledged that we will need to make sacrifices to get through this economic crisis. He indicated broad measures to cut back on federal spending "across the board." Obama attacked this, saying McCain wanted to use a "hatchet" while he would use a "scalpel" to only cut spending where it wouldn't hurt "everyday people." It appears his plan for getting us out of this economic hole is to generously fund new projects while tiptoeing around shaving money off of certain projects he doesn't like.

As much as I hated the way McCain kept plugging himself as a reformer (thank heavens he managed to completely avoid the term "maverick" this time) and harping on his "record," he made a solid point when he stressed his willingness to step across party lines and even challenge those whom he respected the most when he felt they were wrong. While I admit, it was just what America needed to hear in order to vote for a Republican after Bush, I believe he means it. Obama made no effort to challenge the claim that he has never challenged Democratic orthodoxy. Independent thinkers (an ever-increasing percentage of Americans) need to know that a president is willing to take off his red- or blue- tinted glasses if there's a chance they are hindering his ability to make the best choice.

On the flipside, I believe Obama truly understands cooperative leadership and the importance of building on one anothers' strengths. I am not sure how much Mr. Maverick will trust and rely on the experience and expertise of those around him. Or inspire the average citizen for that matter. One thing Barack certainly has is the ability to inspire and coordinate grassroots leaders and ordinary people, to tap the strengths of the citizens to effect change in their immediate surroundings. If only he would use that power to advocate a radical rethinking of the "American lifestyle"; sustainability on the family front, environmentally-aware consumer & transportation choices, healthy financial habits, physical wellness...but after tonight, I just don't think such advocacy would make it onto his priority list. It's not Democratic enough.

Like I said before, I'm still not deeply committed. I may choose to wield my vote against the tyranny of bi-partisan politics. But it's looking more and more like I won't be voting for Obama. Even though something in my gut tells me he's going to win. He is charismatic, sharp, a visionary perhaps. As the figurehead of our country, I think he could inspire a lot of people towards doing whatever they could to change the world for the better. But as its leader, I believe his choices would only benefit the short term, leaving us deeper in debt than ever. Like a few other "great" presidents that come to mind, Obama, praised by future generations as a "hero", would create and then step untainted from a huge mess that his unfortunate successors would spend entire terms trying to clean up.

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Healing Species, Columbia and the International Festival

Gonna keep it short. 3:00 Saturday morning I rolled in from a two-day trip to Orangeburg, SC for the Healing Species training. I am so excited to bring this program to Spartanburg. In a nutshell, it is compassion education...assisted by a rescue dog, instructors go into elementary and middle schools to teach that being hurt is not ok, that every one of us has the power within to change the world, and that giving respect and love brings happiness and true success.

Pamela and I were in a panic the night before the trip since our transportation plans had fallen through. But at the last minute, our very kind, gracious and trusting friend Bill lent us his Lincoln Town Car. That single act has changed the course of our lives. (ack Heroes is rubbing off on me...) The Healing Species is instilling values that, if soaked into the consciousness of a generation, would radically reshape the future of mankind.

I will cover this in more detail in a lovely piece I'm writing that you will hopefully soon be reading in a local publication.

On Friday night we decided to take a detour in Columbia...thought we'd have a bit of an adventure and got a bit more than we bargained for. It started out well, wandering aimlessly through the city, stumbling across large historic buildings and memorial parks we knew nothing about...but then we got hungry. There's a nice little "bites and sights" guide and I got it into my head I wanted to try a tapas bar. As we wandered past a Marriott, I had a nice chat with the doorman, who suggested "blue." as a good pick for a "college budget." 90 minutes of trying to find parking, trying to find the tapas bar, and we finally follow the blue lights, discover they offer free valet parking, and that they are for 21 and up. I was mad. Then we drive around for another hour or so and finally settle on a McDonalds.

I was so exhausted by the end of it all. It was my intention to sleep late into the afternoon, but my dad had other plans and woke me at 11 for brunch. Mom and I then went to the International Fair, which was fantastic as always...it gets bigger and better every year. Ate some great food and bought a few choice international treasures. My favorite booth belonged to Nisha Dias...gorgeous Indian jewelry, clothing, and "paper-free paper" gifts. She did henna on several of my friends too. I love Indian adornments.

I got home a little after 5:00, crashed, and didn't wake up again till this morning. Thing is, I'm still exhausted. Think I'm going to bed now.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

sick and tired

Last night I kept waking up, in half-dreams imagining I had a great mechanical mask on my face, something like a Borg appliance. It's this dratted cold and it's been getting worse every day since Thursday.

Thursday morning I awoke hardly able to swallow. Surmising I was sick and realizing this would account for the past few days' sneezing and coughing, I treated it to my usual remedy: vitamin C and E and a whole lot of sleep. I woke up again at 12:45 and realized I had to deal with the guy whose truck I dented the night before. Other than that, I don't recall accomplishing anything. Oh well, I told myself, today will be my Saturday. That night, against my better judgment, I went out with my friend Bryant to catch Peelander Z at Ground Zero.

Peelander Red's beautiful dreadlocks are gone! oh mourn the day.

"My Heart will Go On"

Peelander Yellow with Bryant (to whom photo credits belong)

Sure it was a lot of fun, and I didn't scream nearly as much as last time, but there's no way dancing around in a smoke-filled bar to music so loud the hair on my neck vibrated can be what a sick body needs.

On Friday I got up at 11, but the fog was thicker and I really can't recall doing much of anything except sometime late in the afternoon going out into the woods with my Bible, God Calling and a lawn chair, and being captivated by the brilliance of the sunlight shafting across leaves and rotting wood. Two colors were highlighted in various shades, creating a palette any designer would be wont to snatch. There was a rich, chestnutty light brown in the foamy, flaky fallen pines, a variant of which glowed like fire on twigs where the sun caught. And then there were the greens - the glow-in-the-dark, plush greens of moss and lichen, and a more vibrant version in the leaves overhead. I couldn't keep the song of praise and wonder from pouring out my mouth. God is an artist.

Yesterday, Bryant and I went to PJ Teague's house to jam again. We did some Beatles stuff, Who Loves the Sun by Velvet Underground, (which, apparently, is also a favorite Tally Hall likes to cover...who knew?) and Fly Me To the Moon. He gave us homemade eggrolls too - they were delicious. Despite my constant sneezing and out-of-its-prime voice, we had a really good time. In fact, we had such a good time that we lost track of time and Bryant had to drop me straight off at babysitting so I'd be there in time. There, armed with a generous supply of antibacterial hand soap, the magic "five minute warning," and a toaster oven, I survived the evening.

Today, the fog was so thick I could hardly stand up without feeling dizzy and weak. I slept so much I'm ashamed of myself. I'm glad it wasn't tonight I had to babysit 'cuz I am definitely not equal to that task. I did manage to cut Dad's hair and I made it through Bards practice, but now I think my evening has ended. I'm going to lay down again. (Funny, blogging takes effort but it's all I've wanted to do all day.)

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

2 days ago, I caught my first wafty whiff of autumn. Today it came to me in full. What is it about that whiff that always brings with it thoughts of pumpkins, new clothes, candles in sparkling amber sconces, family photos, Renaissance outings and other joyful things? Is it a scent, the temperature, barometric pressure, wind speed, humidity...? I donno, but that whiff always makes my head heavy with a deluge of memories and my heart light at the prospect of more in kind.

I got hit today. By a truck. It was my fault, he was in my blind spot and I pulled in front of him. His bumper sustained a nasty dent while I just had a few paint flecks knocked off. It was minor but it shook me up. There goes my "safe driver" insurance discount.

Tonight I discovered Asthmatic Kitty Radio. AK is like my favorite record label of all time so this is big news. If you're new to AK, make sure to check out Half-Handed Cloud, in addition to the ever-popular Sufjan Stevens. I don't want to go to bed because that means taking the earphones off.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Last night, I told the Lord that I was His servant, that I would do His bidding. Today, I waited for His bidding. Half and hour ago, He bid me wash the dishes. So I washed the dished.

In other news, Craig's photos of the jam are up. I am so excited, they are marvelous pictures. Here's my favorite:

There are more on his wonderful photoblog, and many more on his Zenfolio! Thanks Craig!

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Hub-Bubbly Mood

Woo! I had so much fun swing dancing at the Hub-Bub last night. (Jonas Criscoe is a born dancer. Wow.) Two fabulous bands. Christabel and Sarah were even kind enough to stop by the jam beforehand - I got to chat with them - they're pretty cool folks.

The jam was amazing. They just seem to be getting better and better. Bryan Teague (aka chAng) came and brought a slew of friends - Allison (jazz flute, way cool!) Maneesh on the drums, and Donny with a case full of harmonicas. Davin came, whom I know from swing dancing. A guy named Frank found us from CraigsList...an amazing banjo player, taught us a few sweet tunes. Craig from 4pPhotoblog came and brought his family. I'm looking forward to seeing his pictures.

I get to go swing dancing again on Wednesday! (Info)

Lost in the Trees is playing Friday. (info) I probably won't make it 'cuz I've got Bible study, but they're definitely worth seeing. Check out this funky little video I found:

Oh and the AIRS are going to be hanging out at the Seay House for a week. I've never been there, so I'll probably check it out either Saturday or Sunday. (info) Two more fun things coming up: Spark 'n Boil on Tuesday and the Soapbox Open Mic next Wednesday. That'll be interesting, it's gonna be at the Nu-Way just like they had it back before Hub-Bub had a building.

No, Hub-Bub did not pay me to post this blog, I swear!

Saturday, September 6, 2008

Art Mart and the Philharmonic

Today was a good day. I've been working on that song of my friend's and I think I've got a decent tune. In the afternoon I stopped by Creative Tastes/the Hub-Bub Art Mart. Sarah and Ellie are too cool. They sold tutus and moustache-on-a-stick's (moustaches-on-sticks?)

This Tuesday they are starting an "adult playtime" called Spark n' Boil. (more info here. ignore the "21" it's actually for 18 and up.) Sounds like a barrel of monkeys. I'm so there.

It was blasted hot so after helping set up for a bit Bryant and I fled to Taco Bell for a Frutista Freeze (those things are so good) and then to PJ's house to jam. He's got this music room full of instruments - we rocked out, it was awesome. He even put a new spin on one of my old songs and made it sound pretty good. And I found out that Rock Band, unlike most video games, is not a complete waste of time. Bryant plays drums on there all the time and now he kicks butt on the real thing.

By the time we left it was considerably cooler outside so I went back to the Art Mart. There was some really fine work there. I felt bad about not buying anything (can't wait to get my own place to fill up with art) but placated myself with the thought of spreading the news about some really cool local artists and artisans.
Here's a sampling.

All Aboutcha - Jewelry by sister team Kristen and Trina - I know these ladies! Speaking of whom...Swing Dancing at the Hub-Bub September 17th! Woot woot! Be there.

Pottery by Kate - Beautiful rustic pottery designs at reasonable prices.

White Wolf - Hand-hammered silver and copper jewlry in Native American tradition.

McRose Designs - "Jewelry with an Artisan Spirit"

I'm really annoyed. I misplaced the cards of my top pick two artists (and they had to be the coolest cards too - one was a tiny print and the other was a recycled retail tag) but I will let you know when I find them.

...Actually, I found one of them on Google:

the Green Wardrobe - I just love the aesthetic of this artist. She had these great "upcycled" journals made from old hardbound books and various bits of stuff- including comics, feathers and Happy Meal bags. Very cool.

Oh and I was also reminded of a cool upcoming event: "A Taste of Africa" - it's going to be at the Memorial Auditorium on the 20th. It's sponsored by the Cross Cultural Institute. I've really got to check that place out some time.

Then to top off the evening, Lucas Patterson (editor of Root) gave me free tickets to the season opening concert of the Spartanburg Philharmonic so I took my dad. It was at Twitchell Auditorium at Converse so it was like a mini-reunion with a lot of Converse buddies. I even played usher while one of my music major friends took a pit stop. The music was of course spectacular. Violinist Lara St. John was the special guest and boy did she know how to put on a show. After intermission, they played this piece written by a guy who was sick with unrequited love and so he wrote this symphony about a crazy pipe-dream where he killed his beloved out of frustration and was sent to hell. Just by listening I would have never guessed - except for the final movement ("the Witches Sabbath") it sounded like your typical Romantic-era symphony. At least to me.

Yep, so it's been a pretty good day. I've got to wake up for church in 7 hours. Darn it.

Friday, September 5, 2008

A Realization and Lots of Photographs

I figured out why I can't write good lyrics. While writing about Missy Higgins for the Spark, (yes Steve, another plug. I now know it's going to pop straight into your inbox...so much for name-dropping behind your back...) I read a lot of interviews talking about the process of songwriting. There was also a 14-yr-old girl in there somewhere who said something about the reason she writes songs is because she just can't express how she feels any other way. I've never had any trouble stating my feelings in prose, so perhaps I'll never be able to muster that emotional thrust necessary to write a song. Maybe I'm destined to become Hugh Grant in Music & Lyrics.

Today I met with a friend who has a few lyrics that need tunes. We'll see how the theory pans out.

I found the photos from my graduation weekend. It was so hard to choose just a few...every time I look at these my heart just floods with joy and I had to share it with someone.
Ecstatic at the airport, the night before graduation. This was the first time my dad had met baby Shakti.

At the reception after graduation. That's my sister next to me, and Aunt Mary Beth hiding coyly behind the flowers :) She's usually behind the camera.

It was the first and last chance I'd get to enjoy the Converse campus with my whole family.

Back at home. Mom never passes up a chance to display her storytelling skillz.

Aaron and me jamming on the piano.

It's a family thing.

Mom is a first-class kazooist.

Shakti gets in on the action.

My father really took to the whole grandpa thing.

Mom prefers to be known as "J-Ma."

At Five Spices for a last meal before their trip home. If you've never had lunch at Five Spices, you've got to try it - such the best.

Little heartbreaker.

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

thoughts on blogging + ADHD + veggiemobile

I'm sitting here strumming on the guitar, spinning this expansive melody and getting totally frustrated because I have no words for it. I don't know why it's so dang difficult for me to write lyrics.

I'm also frustrated because something about this new blog isn't sitting right. I was archiving my old xanga blog and rereading some old posts. My thoughtfulness surprised me. It seemed, while not much was going in my outside life there was a lot more going on inside my head. The reason I started blogging was because I had this impulse to journal, but there just didn't seem to be a point to writing something nobody would ever read. The idea of an audience, even the nebulous notion of some possible readership somewhere in the world, was enough to get me writing. And yet, I realized ("don't expect" about 1/2way down the page) that I wasn't really writing for anyone but myself, so I didn't really censor or edit myself. I didn't think "if I write this, they will think I am that kind of person" or "that will bore people" or even "they might not get my reference here I should explain it." Looking back, I find that me-person more interesting than the me-person that's here so far.

There it was more like I was a bodiless mind floating in a great expanse populated by other minds that may or may not drift near enough to pick up some brainwaves. From the start, here, it feels like I am standing in front of a roomful of people, particularly Spartanburg people, talking to them, trying to be interesting enough so they won't walk out. I'm overly aware of an audience and it's giving me something like stage fright. I've been reading other people's blogs too, which are fascinating to me as a reader but crippling as a writer. All of the sudden I'm weighed down by all these expectations which may or may not even exist.

Shake it off, Lydia.

Today, I locked my wallet and keys in the car, because I was late to work, because I slept too long. After work, even after psyching myself up to work on this new article for the Spark, I ended up sleeping most of the afternoon. Then, when I finally did wake up and get on the computer, everything else came rushing in...it's amazing how much work you can get done while avoiding the work you're supposed to be doing. Generally, I allow myself a little leeway on matters like this - might as well do it while the doing's good. I know from experience that ignoring the impulse and trying to force my concentration on the task at hand usually results in unproductive, frustrated hours, then, when I go back to the thing I'd wanted to do earlier, I find I am so exhausted from trying to ignore it I no longer have any energy for it. But at least today I eventually got around to the article and got a good hour or two on it. If only I hadn't slept...I could have run out of other things to do much earlier in the day and had more actual work time.

I've been reading a lot about adult ADHD lately. It's interesting how in the medical community, there's a lot of "without proper medication, this disorder will likely cause significant problems in your life." And then there are people who say that it isn't a disorder at all, it's just something unique about you that you learn to work with, playing on your strengths and accounting for weaknesses. Sometimes I contemplate medication...it would be great to stop unintentionally tuning people out and having to get them to repeat themselves three times. It would also be great to finish more of what I start, not interrupt people or finish their sentences, not fidget, be able to focus in a noisy room, etc... But I have this fear that it might take away my motivation or lessen my creativity or my ability to come up with non-linear solutions to problems. It might be messing around with who I am - and I'm generally pretty happy with me.

I'm learning how to arrange my life so that I function best. Sometimes, I adapt my environment, sometimes I adapt myself. Homeschooling and college synched nicely with my modus operandi - lots of choice, innovation welcomed rather than stigmatized. I'm wondering (and a little anxious) how it will be different in the work world. A lot of bosses have little patience for employees doing things their own way.

Hmm. I really didnt expect to be writing about that tonight. Oh! but I just thought of a story I read somewhere, about a little girl who was doing poorly in school. Her parents were very concerned - she was always fidgeting and having trouble focusing in class, and her grades were suffering, so they took her to a doctor. They thought she might have some kind of disorder. The doctor talked to her and her parents for a while and then said to the girl "We're going to have a private word in the other room. Please stay here." As he left the room he turned on the radio. He took her parents to a one-way glass window and they watched her. Less than a minute passed before she was on her feet, moving to the music. The doctor turned to the parents and said "She's fine. She does not have a disorder. She's a dancer."
They enrolled her in dance lessons, and not only did she begin to flourish, she grew to become one of the most renowned dancers and choreographers of her time - Gillian Lynne, choreographer of Cats and Phantom of the Opera. You can't help but wonder what would have happened if they'd decided she was ADD and put her on Ritalin.

Oh! I just figured out where I heard about her! Sir Ken Robinson's TED talk. Go watch it, it's good.

And now, presenting this week's Really Awesome Idea:

The Veggiemobile.

Yesterday, Chang discovered his brilliant idea had already been set in motion.

Saturday, August 30, 2008

I just finished watching Dan in Real Life - good movie, great soundtrack by Sondre Lerche. (BTW apparently it's produced Son-dray Lehr-keh) I love these kinds of movies. Understated, full of...community. I just love watching adults in a big family interacting. Having fun together, goofing off, fighting, being there for eachother... maybe because it's still such a new thing to me. I'm the youngest in a family of five, and we were always pretty much it beside my mother's sister Mary Beth. My brother left home when I was three, and we hadn't been in very good contact until recently. And while my parents and I were moving all over the country for dad's work, my sister was going to college and building a life in Texas - since I was eight we've only seen eachother about twice a year.
A couple of years ago, around the time I was being initated into the realm of adulthood, my sister Esther got married. Her husband, Brandan, has a twin brother and two sisters, divorced and remarried parents, and grandparents on both sides, not to mention his sibling's spouses/bfs/gfs. At their wedding, I got a glimpse into a very different kind of family...big, and colorful and close. Not that we're not close, and we're certainly colorful, but it was just a completely new experience.
Aaron (2nd from L) Esther and I with my new siblings-in-law after the wedding

Since then, my brother Aaron has started a family of his own, so now throw a wonderful "sister-in-love" and an adorable, sweet and smart baby neice (Shakti) and suddenly I've got this big ol' family. Unfortunately, Esther and Aaron and their families live in Austin, TX, and Aunt Mary Beth lives in Kentucky, but whenever we can all get together, it's a true delight.

Cassie, Shakti and Esther from my summer 07 visit

The last time that happened was for my graduation this past may. It was one of the best weekends of my life. I got to know my family, again, and realized that they were all pretty cool people. The kind of people I'd want to know, even if we weren't related. We hung out and talked, (Cassie and I would definitely have launched some kind of crafty project had we had more time) and Aaron and I jammed on the piano. I am so proud of him and his music, proud of Esther and the fact that she's been getting a master's degree while teaching full-time - and has been offered a position as a school librarian before she's even finished her degree. And I'm proud of Cassie, who is a phenomenal mother, and has found her calling as an outspoken advocate of natural birth and healthy parenting.

Hopefully I'll find my misplaced photos of graduation soon.

Even moving back in with Mom and Dad has been alright - they're cool too, in their own way. After all, my mom gets to put on goofy hats and read stories to kids for a living (she's works in the children's department of the downtown library - say hello to Ms. Jane next time you're in) and my dad...well I could spend a whole blog on him, let's just say, he's a character. Life here at home is pretty good - now if I could just get my bedroom into some semblance of post-college order, and if Mom would just stop trying to tell me what shoes to wear to work.

Oh! Work! That's right, I have to tell you about my first week on the job! It's great. My boss, Mr. Haller, is laid-back, funny, and a good teacher, and he brings his dog Scout to the library every day. So far I've learned basic circulation stuff (checking books out/in) and cataloguing (getting new books into the system and ready to be checked out). I'm always reading and learning, and sharing my passion for learning with students. I spent Friday basically doing a library scavenger hunt (was working on the freshman library orientation worksheet) and coming up with new obscure words for them to look up. I stumbled upon a choice phrase from the 1600's in the 1989 New Oxford English Dictionary: "the savoir of his meate thru eructation ascendeth." It amuses me greatly. I am so immature.

So yes, I have to thank God for blessing me with such a rich life. Family, Good job, great friends...last night after Bible Study, my friend Grace (the one who plays with her husband, that I mentioned in the first post) had me over to look through a bunch of gift clothes that didn't fit her. I don't know what was in the air, but she, her husband Jacob and I were slinging puns left and right. I discovered puns are best enjoyed (perhaps "snorfed" is a better word) with cheddar popcorn, Jello and Bing cherries, late in the evening. Grace sent me home with a cup full of rose petals and the stern command to take a bubble bath. You can't beat friends like that.

And that leads me to my musical discoveries of the week:

SeePeoples, an edgy, Asheville-based indie-rock band ("Apocalypse Cow" may be the best song/album title ever). Thanks to the Spark for introducing me to these guys.

Tally Hall. Crazy. that's all I have to say.

The Crayon Fields...this is the seemingly random connection from Grace and the bubble bath - these guys are perfect for a quiet evening with candles, lavender, rose petals, and bubbles. At least if you're me.

Until next time!

Sunday, August 24, 2008

hello world!

I don't like introductions. I prefer the "in media res" approach. What am I supposed to say? Well, how about this. Here was me in high school and early college. This was the blog I was paid to keep later in college. My goal for this new blog is to own my life in its geographic context. After living in Spartanburg, SC for eight years, the longest I have ever lived anywhere, I'm realizing how indelibly place has become a factor of who I am.

Enough with the introductions. I want to tell you about yesterday.

I woke up...ah forget that. I started the morning in prayer, ate a leisurely breakfast with my parents, got dressed and spent the rest of the day in preparations for the Jam. The Jam - the Hub City Jam - is an accomplishment I believe I will be proud of for the rest of my life. It started out as an effort of the Hub-Bub/CollegeTown Student Street Team - a noble collaborative enterprise by a Hub-Bub artist-in-residence and a handful of college students from four of Spartanburg's six colleges. I write about it in detail here. Anyway, the first jam was a small but successful event on Morgan Square, where I met several people who thought this was something Spartanburg greatly needed - that it had the potential to draw the community out and bring people together, particularly the creative types who often feel undernourished and understimulated in this town, etc etc.

We (being me, namely, with the help and support of Kerry Fey, Patrick Bryan, Ben Womick, and my dad) decided we would continue to host the jam every other week through the summer. Due to the intense summer heat and lack of shade in Morgan Square, we moved to a small downtown park I had always been fascinated with - Richardson Park. (For those of you who don't know, it is the triangular mini-park on S. Converse Street across from the Denny's headquarters/"BB&T building.") Between the intimacy created by the pillars of the gateway, and the giant shade created by the skyscraper's shadow, it was an ideal spot. The downside was, there are next to no pedestrians on that side of town, unlike Morgan Square. We struggled with haphazard publicity efforts and a dismal attendance rate through the summer, but I met several interesting people, and everyone seemed to think it was a very important, worthwhile thing to do.

One day in particular, I remember going to the jam very disheartened, believing no one would show up besides three of us, and frustrated and stressed for not being more "on top of it." The beginning was just like I expected, me and my friend Bryant messing around individually, two mediocre guitarists who had exhausted our repertoire within minutes at previous jams. But then Bryant's friend Houston came. Something about that single new player brought everything to life. We played, we forgot ourselves, we really got into it and the time flew. And people came by, stopped to listen, and expressed sincere gratitude and appreciation for what we were doing downtown. And that was when I decided - or perhaps realized was the word - that there was absolutely no reason to be stressed. Even if the Jam dwindled to a single guitarist playing downtown every once in a while, that was something. Something that no-one else was doing, and something that would somehow, I just knew, effect a positive change.

I learned a lot of things over the summer and worked out a lot of infrastructure. We backed down to the more manageable, easy-to-remember "every second Saturday of the month" schedule, and are back on Morgan Square. We got an email list, a myspace, a facebook, and are getting event permits from the City. We have a graphic designer working on a colorful flyer that only has to be posted once for the entire year. The most important things I learned are: 1. Don't stress over it - there is no such thing as failure and 2. Do some small thing with a cumulative impact each time and it will grow slowly but surely.

Back to yesterday. (The above paragraphs were all a parenthetical remark. This is how I write.) My cumulative effort for the week was to create a sign for the mailing list. After about a half hour, I had a creation of cardboard, duct-tape, and a sheet of printer paper that I was satisfied with. I got prettied up, packed everything into the truck, and took off downtown. The wind proved to be a bit of a challenge in setting up the handouts table, with my brand-new sign, but I learned long ago to bring a copious supply of scotch tape to the jams for just such occasions.

It was a great jam. Kerry and Bryant came, whom I expected. We were joined by Jason, who does not play but is an enthusiastic listener. PJ Teague brought his friend Adam, both accomplished musicians who were a lot of fun. And Randy Patterson of the Bushy Valley Boys stopped by towards the end, which made me happy because we'd been trying to drag him into this since the beginning. After the jam, which, for perhaps the first time ever extended past our normal 7:00 end time, PJ, Bryant, Adam, and I went to Venus Pie for dinner. If you've never been to Venus Pie, you really must go. Not only is it an independently-owned local favorite and a great hang-out spot, it is the biggest, tastiest, cheapest single slice of pizza you will ever eat. And their cannoli is fantastic. (Of course, it's hard to mess up cannoli.)

After Venus Pie, I had an hour to kill before going to the Brasserie Ecosse to hear Kerry Fey play with Marc Higgins. What to do? I contemplated going back to the park and playing some more, but it was too dark. Then I thought, hey, Hub-Bub is right above Brasserie, maybe some of the artists-in-residence are in. This year's batch of AIRS are a fun group of people. I had the fortune of getting to know them soon after they moved in, at the Antibodies' Green Party at the Music Camp. Fun times. I never knew I could dance like that for 5 hours straight.

Where was I? Oh yes. I went to the Hub-Bub and caught Patrick and Jonas leaving for an art opening at the Chapman Cultural Center. (Man, I'm really loving these links today aren't I?) But they said Sarah was in, so I rang her. Sarah Witt is one of the most delightful people I know. She welcomed me into her charming apartment and fed me homemade yoghurt. Somehow or other, we got on the subject of Martian Mud so I whipped up a batch for her. If you're curious, just mix up some water and cornstarch. I usually add a few drops of green food coloring just for fun. She was hooked. That's the great thing about Sarah, she likes to play. It's hard finding other adults who unabashedly play. I do have a good friend who enjoys making "forts" in the living room with her husband. You know, the kind you made as a kid with chairs and tables and sheets and pillows. I want that kind of relationship with my spouse.

So Sarah and I played with Martian Mud for a while, and I swung on her swing as we talked about various things including our shared passion for transportational biking, and before I knew it, it was 10:30 and Kerry and Marc had been playing for an hour. Sarah and I parted ways, but not before visiting Ellie downstairs, who had to babysit a most...er...lively private party in the Showroom.

Kerry looked great, and sounded great too. The Brasserie crowd was fairly small and somewhat drunk, but appreciative. Marc played a lot of covers, and some of his really great original stuff too, and he asked me if I'd brought the djembe with me. See, Kerry has this djembe that she brings to the jams and lets me play. I adore the thing. Marc apparently thinks I'm good at it because he invited me to play with him. I can't turn down an offer like that. I played till the skin was peeling off the heel of my hand and the sides of my fingers. I played with Marc, Kerry, and a guy named Hank. I played 'til 2:00 in the morning, when the last customer stumbled out and the bartender hinted that he needed to prepare for a "private party," and I left Marc and Kerry and the djembe with fond farewells and a head full of rhythm.

Well, it is nearly midnight and this migraine I have been ignoring for the past two hours is becoming unbearable. I have to get up early for my first day on the job at Spartanburg Methodist College tomorrow. I'm to be a part-time library assistant. It's exciting - I hope it will help me discern whether I should pursue a master's in Library Science.

Good night. I hope you will enjoy my blog.

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

Adventures in Athens

This is an excerpt from the archives of my student blog, now unpublished. But you can read today's Converse Student Blogs here.

Man, spring break was way too short. My friend Triona and I decided that Spring Break needs to be two weeks long. The first week for students and faculty to just collapse and breathe, the second week to get bored and actually start doing productive things. It seems it's impossible, as hard as you try, to catch up on everything you want to. Inevitably, the last day of Spring break is spent facing up to the mountain of work you neglected.

Nonetheless... Athens was fantastic. I did get some work done, but I'm afraid the exploratory spirit got the better of me.

I started out with $25 cash and $75 in the bank. I packed my poetry books, laptop, Bible, journals, clothes and necessities, iPod, and lots of snacks. My hostess, Joy, was so kind. I had a room to myself, wireless internet, free breakfast and dinner when I was around, a ride to campus around noon each day, a ride back each night, and someone to answer my many questions. Oh, and she let me borrow her camera, so I have pictures! Couldn't have asked for more.

Day 1: Rode the free University of Georgia bus.

UGA is HUGE! Picked up literature, map of campus, bus map, etc. at the student center. It was Meat Out 2008, which is a vegan/vegetarian education day that they basically made a party out of, so I was treated to free food, break dancing, and live music on the plaza of the student center. Great band. Some nice vegetarians helped me get my bearings. They introduced me to Flagpole, which is this free weekly newspaper – community, culture, politics, pretty much everything interesting. From it I learned about all the fun things that go on in Athens…way too much fun to be had, every single night of the week…I'm kind of glad I didn't go to UGA...I would never have been able to force myself to stay in and study!

In the afternoon, I called my friend Tiffany and she was having a Bible study with the Full-Timers (= men and women whose full-time job is serving the saints – they conduct Bible studies, pray with people, listen, give godly advice, etc) so I went to that, it was nice, and then Tiffany and I hung out and talked for a while.

That night I ended up at the Sisters’ House, which is, in my church, where some of the college girls live along with the full-time sisters. (There’s also a brothers’ house.) My friend Lauren lives there, she cooked me tilapia and spaghetti squash, and we talked and looked at some saints’ wedding pictures. Did you know that tree climbing is an “official” hobby? This couple loved to tree climb, in fact, they had this whole series of pre (or maybe post) – wedding pictures in a big tree. They use harnesses and gear like rock climbers. Who knew?

Day 2: I love downtown Athens. Musicians walking around with their instruments, stopping and playing, people just hanging out. They’re not all after some agenda. I mean there were plenty of suit-type people and college kids who were just trying to get from point A to point B, but some people were actually there to just be there.

Wish this pic weren't so blurry, took it while walking. There was a guy playing guitar and singing, sounded like rockabilly, he had talent. I stopped and listened for a while.

These guys were on opposite street corners, right across from the Arch, UGA's historical entrance. The street between them is what I'd call the heart of downtown. The People's Party, understandably, drew a big crowd, but the Victory guy got plenty of honks.

That night I ate dinner at a nice family's house with Joy, the full time sisters, and a cool chic named Gene. Joy's the one holding the baby in this picture:

Day 3: Gene had told me about the Hot Corner, a 24 hour vegan-friendly coffee shop where the creative types hang out. She thought I'd like it, and I did, a lot. I spent most of Wednesday there.

  Lunch was a sarsparilla and a chocolate muffin that I think had cornmeal in it. Different, but good. Met a nice guy named Travis who helped me find some wireless internet when Hot Corner's broke.

  There at that big table is Ethan. I took that picture before I met him. We spent an hour or so at the same table basically ignoring eachother, he was reading a novel and I was reading Gerard Manley Hopkins and Lucille Clifton. Turned out, it was his 19th birthday and we ended up having a good long conversation. We talked a lot about Athens and Spartanburg. Also Jack Keruac, life choices, backpacking in Europe...fun times.

I found out in Flagpole that Mandala, UGA's literary journal, was having their release party Wednesday night. What a lucky coincidence, here I am about to throw a release party for Concept! So I went. It was at Barcafe Cine which was a neat place, wish I'd took pictures. Several poets read their work from the journal, and Shawn Hill read as a special guest. I met a really sweet lady, Pam, a retired cop-cum-watercolor artist, who helped me get to this other event I found out about in Flagpole, Poetic Confessionz, like an open mic poetry thing.

Unfortunately, this is the best photo I have. That's the MC, Montu. Dreaded Mindz Family was the host. They've got a real vision for their community. I respect that.

Entry was half-price for performers, so I pulled up a poem on my laptop and read it. It died halfway through, that was embarrassing, but Montu let me try again a little while later, and everyone was really supportive. They liked my poem, I think, but it was way different from most of their stuff. They had...attitude. Some of them incorporated song. I hadn't heard much like it before, but it was cool.

At midnight, back at Joy's place, I realized I hadn't eaten since the sarsparilla and muffin, so I made some quesadillas with leftover chicken and bell peppers. Oh, how I miss a fully-stocked kitchen!

Day 4: Funny, I stayed out latest on Wednesday night and woke up the earliest Thursday morning. Read some Seamus Heaney while eating Velveeta and crackers in the student center. I'd heard, at the journal release, about a poetry event on Thursday. I got real lucky, again, it was the Cave Canem annual symposium, and I got to hear Shawn Hill (again) and Nikky Finney with some superb poetry and a Q&A session. Turns out, Nikky Finney is from Newberry, SC! She just finished a poetry comission from Wofford! Talk about small world.

At the reading I met a cool gal named Scout, she's an English major at UGA, and we ended up going out for sushi.

Isn't it pretty? It was all very good, except for the raw quail egg.

After that late lunch, Scout took me traipsing around the UGA campus. It was lots of fun, again UGA is HUGE so there were plenty of hidden nooks, like this lovely little garden:

Scout doesn't really like photos of herself, but she took this one of me shortly before we parted ways:

I bought that Dreaded Mindz T-shirt at Diverse Universe the night before. They were raising money for some kind of cool community project. Oh, speaking of raising money, on Monday, there were these sorority girls having a yard sale to raise money for two Mongolian children to have cleft palate surgery. Good cause, really cute stuff for cheap, a lot of it from Asia. Athens stores, while totally awesome, are fairly pricey, so I didn't do too much shopping. Nonetheless, my bank account's scraping the bottom of the barrel. Glad pay day is tommorow. (Today, actually...)

I got back home late Thursday night, and the rest of the break consisted of spending time with family and friends, and trying to get a little more work done.

The moral of the story is, you can have your cake and eat it too...no wait, that's been said...how about, you don't have to have a lot of money, know your surroundings, or even know what the heck you're doing, to have an unforgettable Spring Break.

Now I'd like to get at least a few hours' sleep...

Monday, March 31, 2008

Greetings from Athens, Georgia!

This is an excerpt from the archives of my student blog, now unpublished. But you can read today's Converse Student Blogs here. 

Yay for spring break. Here I am in a lovely little historic Georgia college town. My purpose is two-fold: to catch up on schoolwork/get my life back in order for the rest of the semester, and soak up as much of the city as I can.


Day 1: Organize my life, dig up & polish old poetry, get a map/events calendars/other useful literature.
Day 2: Write poetry, read poetry, go adventuring, eat with friends, maybe catch a show.
Day 3: More poetry, catch up on reading for classes, more adventuring, friends, maybe another show.
Day 4: More of the above, go home.

The weather is catching me off guard though. I really should have checked the forecast, I definitely packed with a rosy view of perfect, sunny Spring Break weather. It was like 45 degrees today. Brr.

In other news, God is still very good. He's been humoring me even as I do and say incredibly stupid things. (sheesh, I can be such an idiot.) His newest message: "My will, My way, My time." Amen, Lord.

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