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 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 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.
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