Widdershins:

(sometimes withershins, widershins or widderschynnes) means to take a course opposite that of the sun, going counterclock-wise, lefthandwise, or to circle an object, by always keeping it on the left. It also means "in a direction opposite to the usual," which is how I choose to take it in using it as the title of this blog. We're all in the same world finding our own way.

Saturday, December 26, 2009

I needs to post something

Winter break has gone on too long
I think I need to break it.
Anyone have a Luddite Hammer? It adds +32 strength against the internet.

EDIT:
Also this is: http://answerintheformofaquestion.blogspot.com/2009/12/microsoft-china-rips-off-plurk.html

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Queer Tarot: A Final Project



Tarot, like Mark Doty’s Ouija board, in Western culture is seen as a part of the occult. It is relegated to the fringes of society, the dark corners of psychic shops, late night television and gypsy houses, seen from a distance but rarely ever sold. But at the same time, it has been around for centuries, used historically as a divination tool and card game, and in more recent years has gained a wider acceptance into mainstream culture. Walk into any Borders, and you can find and purchase a deck of tarot for under $30. The same can be said of queer and gay culture and identity.

The deck I’ve created is meant to reflect some of those parallels, drawing on the traditional meanings of the cards and prominent images from within queer culture to make new meanings based in part within GLBT theory.



Tradition states that the Fool, sometimes numbered 0, sometimes numbered infinity, is the card of infinite possibilities. It is a card of the future, of new beginnings. Here we have a card that depicts not a lone traveler standing on the edge of a precipice, but an activist, faceless and alone. The Fool here wears traditionally masculine clothing and appears to have short cropped hair, but because of the facelessness, defies the gender binary. Possibilities are indeed open as the activist hopes for the future and endeavors to bring it forward. Equality, safety, family, all the hallmarks of the gay civil rights movements can be represented by the simple rainbow sign, but the card is still the Fool. A movement is not one person. Change will not happen because one person, alone, stands on a street corner and yells to passerby. But one person can start a movement; just like how Galloway in Mean Little Deaf Queer defied her own limitations and went on to create from within herself a life worth telling about.


The Empress in this deck is a Queen, specifically an image of RuPaul from a promotional photo for RuPaul’s Drag Race, and what better way to queer-up what is seen as the mother card of Tarot than to express it as the extreme feminine that is simultaneously everything masculine? In this card we can see the dualities of identity. As a drag queen, RuPaul represents everything about the Empress, that spark of creation and performance in art and life, gender as a performance as Butler worded it. As the antipode of traditional femininity though, she evokes a certain level of acceptance and almost tongue-in-cheek playfulness to the idea of gender. The role of queen, empress, and mother is not limited to the female, but is instead an inherent trait available to all peoples, showing that the idea of essentialism, that there is only one kind of Empress, does not hold true in the face of drag. It is proof that there can be aspects of the mother in all of us.

A wedding topper marks the Lovers in this queer tarot deck. In many traditions of tarot, this card is known simply as Love because love is seen as a force of decision and control. You surrender to a higher power when you submit to love and are forced to make decisions that you might not make otherwise. Celie, of Alice Walker’s The Color Purple, submitted to love and she found her strength through it. It is this idea of love that so strongly resonates within the queer community because it has been a rallying point around which to draw those battle lines that the activists (the Fools) can work to create the kinds of change the Empress represents. And in recent history, the biggest rallying point of the queer community has been this idea of gay marriage. On another level too, marriage marks a decision as you choose to make those vows and give up or adjust your lifestyle. And for that matter, the decision to allow/not allow gay marriage or the decision to get one are both cultural creations. We are not born married, but through the constructions of our society we are indoctrinated to believe that it is something we want. The cultural imperative to marry is so embedded that social and political structures have grown up around it. Taken in that sense, this card can serve as a warning against the very image it so innocently projects. Marriage is not natural any more than these wedding toppers are actual people or actual food.


Rather than the Hanged Man, the next card we find is a Well-hung Man dangling in similar position to the traditional card his black leather chaps, thong and chest-belt showing him to be something a little more than your average queer but as someone from the further marginalized spectrum of sadomasochistic inclinations. He is a visual example of Rubin’s sexual hierarchy. For his preference for bondage, he has been strung up and left to dangle, which for all its irony perfectly shows the meaning of the original Hanged Man, the idea that in suspension of thought, in meditation and reflection we find new perspectives that can lead to insight. Within other aspects of what it means to be queer, beyond the gender binary, beyond the heteronormative constructions that have homogenized and isolated the queer community to being ruled by a class of white, middle-class gay men, we find sub-queers that can live perfectly happy, productive lives and are indeed no threat to society but a part of it.


For the final card, we have Death, the unnamed skeletal creature that walks with its sickle, portending doom. But just as Mark Doty did in his discussion of AIDS in My Alexandria, Death is not a thing to be afraid of. It gets a bad rap from pop culture and society, but it is a tool of transformation and change part of the cycle of renewal. An end is but a new beginning, for spring cannot bloom if not first for the fallow wastes of winter. There is beauty in the act of passing. And so in this queered tarot we find a frail, skeletal looking woman admiring a bright, vibrant flower, freshly bloomed. The Fool then is an agent of Death, working to end the cultural stigmas around the queer identity and bring about a new world as the minority works to be recognized and integrated into the acceptance taken for granted by the majority.


Friday, November 27, 2009

Twilight: An Addiction, or Why I Will Never Read That Series

So I've been reading this book, Crack Wars by Avital Ronell that Tony --

Nanotext? Professor Prichard? The lines of formality have been so blurred that I don't really know how to refer to him anymore. I mean, I'm working on a collaborative novel with him and a bunch of other people, and as such have been to his house and met his wife and daughter but am still going to be in a classroom setting with him as the "authority" figure next quarter in Parasites. Quite frankly I see him more as a friend and mentor than as a teacher. But I'm getting off topic.

that Tony gave me to read a little over a month back. It's been slow going, mostly because I've only opened it sporadically when I wasn't running back and forth from one activity to another or studying for my actual classes. It's all about literature and addiction, and addiction as a parasitic entity. A drug, or rather something you can be addicted to, does not necessitate the use of chemicals, it is more complex than a chemical reaction, but can be anything that sustains the interplay between want, need, choice, freedom: drawing toward but never quite crossing the line in that suicidal euphoric rush of death.


But today I woke up, sat down and really started to get into it.

That is until I came across an annotation posing the question, "Who are we when we write? drug dealers? pharmacists? output's quality depends on your skill." This of course made me laugh as I thought of the author of the Twilight series, Stephanie Meyer. For her blatantly terrible books with their anti-feminist images (stalker vampire, possessive werewolf, weakling heroine) to seduce so many readers, many of whom are educated, respectable feminists, she can't be a writer. All the good authors are terribly difficult to read at times and yet are still considered undeniably good despite and because of any criticism they may receive. Meyer on the other hand is merely addictive.

I went to a panel the other week where her works were described as a relationship. You become involved with the books much in the same way you became involved with that stupid 15-year-old boy/girl who broke your heart back in middle school. But such a relationship isn't really a relationship. It's an addiction. There is an interplay (my I like using that word) of power dynamics in which you seek to appease and acquire that which you want.

So in a sense, she's a drug dealer, peddling to the masses of capitalist America. She isn't wholly to blame, her agent and her publishing company and the movies all play a big role in that as well, but as a writer, she's nothing more than a pusher for her romanticized, impossible, idealized, fantasy world. I cannot support that. There is so much more richness to be found in the reality I perceive around me, I don't want to waste my time. If I'm going for escapism, I'm going to take a little more fun without such unhealthy undertones. Give me fairy tales where at least you can learn from the darkness you encounter.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Sleep deprivation and poetry

Morning is a special time for me. It's my chance to reflect and warm up to the day. I've always been an early riser, a morning person if you will, so there is a certain quiet in the wee hours while everyone else is still asleep that brings me a kind of peace and solitude and oneness with the world. If I'm awake, I like taking (after)midnight walks for this reason. Often during such walks inspiration strikes and I am compelled to write. Last night I was so inspired.

Longing after hours

The silence of the morning
as a retreat is a probation
upon the noise of the day
once the waning night is satiated.
Raindrops follow gently,
whispering their ardent androgyny
to those who would bear to hear it.
He who falls is not lost but instead
in coils encased buds bloom with orphic allusions.

Such scruff and tumble warmth
warrants the spiced scent of desire awakened.
Bread crumb trails to Hansel lead
before the burgeoning avians of respect,
dignity leave the path a purity still.
Untouched, unpossessed are these sunrise meadows.
The sky is a reflection
of the light below
in these post-coital hours.

Nothing stirs
but the unrequited
and the committed in conclusive embrace.
The quiet holds sway here.
Its power goes unbroken
before the bolden light of dawn.
It demands: Nothing external exists.
Nothing external survives
in sound
before it is smothered,
dampened by the lonely seconds interred
after midnight has taken its respite.

This is the time of the worm
before even the early bird breaks into song.
The wind.
The rain.
The trees.
The travelers passing through.
Moments last minutes last lifetimes
as memories suffuse that embracing shadow
with the warmth of a freshly emptied bed
after grey-eyed Eos follows through with her threats.

Day is approaching,
alarms are ready to prod
and jolt
and persist
in a frenzied push towards consciousness.
Coffee awaits the brewer’s cup,
a seduction of chemical alkaloids
all too willing, all too easy.
But the horizon is as yet unbroken,
unbloodied by the first pricks of Helios’ bright glare.
And it is quiet in the morning, silence to end the night.

Friday, November 20, 2009

The difference between being gay and *being* gay

Being gay is either something you’re born with or it’s a choice. It came up in the movies we watched repeatedly as a way of both reinforcing that separatist view, that in order to create a safe place for a gay identity, you must first establish that to be gay is something separate, something different from the normal in order to gain special protections and rights.

In "Mean Little Deaf Queer", I think Galloway puts it very succinctly when she states that it’s a matter of us and “them.” She’s mostly relating to her experience as being disabled/handicapped, but there are direct parallels between that simple statement and the ideology that being queer is something you’re born with or a choice. Like the little deaf queer that she was Galloway chose neither to be gay nor to be deaf. What she did choose was to live with those conditions on her life and push through them.

Queerness is not something people choose. I don’t know of any straight person who would choose to live their life as a gay/lesbian/bi/trans person if they weren’t. But if being queer is something that is innate, that you are born with it, then to go back to Gayle Rubin’s constructivist views, how you choose to live that life, how you express that sexuality or gender identity is a product of your upbringing.

In an upbringing that believes that being queer is somehow wrong, to be gay or rather I should say to live a gay lifestyle then must become a choice. Who you are constructed to be and what you are as a result of that does not allow for a gay identity so to have a gay identity is to choose not to be what you were born to in favor of being what you were born. To become what you were born and accept that is a choice.

So, is being gay something you’re born with or is it a choice? It depends on what you mean by being gay. It is at this junction that the religious institution and the queer community often reach an impasse because they both mean very different things and have very different views on this matter.

They equate being gay to living a gay lifestyle and accepting yourself as gay. These are not the same thing. Identity is a personal matter, and to call a thing an identity when a person does not identify as such is an assumption that devalues the identity of that person.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

A Matter of Priorities

I'm running out of energy, worrying about stretching myself too thin.
It's not a matter of stress, but a matter of time. I'm everywhere at once, going nowhere fast.
I know I can keep this up at least for now, but I need a break. Thanksgiving weekend sound good to anyone?

Activities keep me busy, but I can't focus on any of them the way I really want to. I feel like my writing for nanoNaNoWriMo is fair to middling at best; the only class I pay full attention in is Chinese (which I hate) because I know I'll fail if I don't; I'm too tired to be as enthusiastic as I'd like in everything else and the only time I see friends are either when I'm studying, eating, in class, or working on one of these projects with them.

It's a matter of priorities and balancing my time. And I'm doing decent so far, but it's draining me. I need something to pull me in, to keep me focussed and to give me reason to want to keep up with this juggling act. I guess that's the question I'm really starting to ask myself. Why am I still going?

I'm far more prone to bouts of irritability and don't feel like my normal, positive self. I know that's not who I am or who I want to be, but I don't really know how to get back to that place without somehow failing in areas that really mean a lot to me. Involvement is what I do, I can't help it, how do I make this worth my while?

That said, somehow I'm happy.
Yeah, tired and stressed and desperately in need of more days in the week, but happy. I love being this busy even if I'm slowly going insane. Call it a bad habit from my days as a student journalist.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

It's time to get writing

As part of a NaNoWriMo group project organized by and with people I had class with last quarter, I'm claiming a write-in weekend. After breakfast on Saturday I am barricading myself in my room until Sunday afternoon (dinner excepting and Nerf Wars that night to blow off steam). I will not be answering my phone. I will be inactive on Facebook. I probably won't even shower (which is fine since I won't be going anywhere).

If I ignore you or tell you no, I can't come out and play, I'm sorry, but you've now been warned. If you care to see what's taking up my time, I will direct you to the finished product at the end of the month.

Hope you all can understand, I love you and will catch you on the Sunday side of things.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

We All Have Issue

We all have issues, causes, ideals that strike a chord deep within us. They're the things we stand for, the things we believe in, and the places we want to make a difference. We are activists of our own lives.

But I wonder at our dedication. Unless something has directly affected you or a family member/friend, I wonder if our dedication to that cause can ever really compare to that of someone with that experience. Which is not to say I doubt the sincerity of activists joining a cause simply because it's a good cause, no, without people like that, there would be no cause.

Take for example cancer. I support cancer research and have actively volunteered at several Relay4Life events over the past few years, but I've never felt like it was my cause. Blood donation on the other hand, that hits a little closer to home.

I've donated blood regularly for going into the third year now. I've passed the gallon mark, but I know unless there is a change in significant legal structures and practices, I won't be able to continue to donate indefinitely. I donate blood because I believe in it. I think it helps people and so long as I'm fit and healthy enough to be eligible, I will continue with this practice.

This cause has meaning to me.

But it wouldn't have the same kind of meaning if it didn't affect me personally. So I say, we all have issues, but some take more precedence than others.

Saturday, October 31, 2009

A Diary style entry: Get your bags ready, it's candy hunting season!

I really don't think today could have gotten off to a better start.

I woke up with my alarm at 6:30, which to be honest, was torture. I hadn't gone to sleep until 2 because I went to Rocky Horror here on campus, and just crashed. I didn't even wipe off my makeup or anything.

So I got up for crew practice at an ungodly hour on a Saturday, and it was gross out. Windy, rainy, it sucked. My carpool gets to the lake right about at 7, and we're running our oars out to the launch, and all of a sudden it's perfect. The wind is gone. The rain stopped, and because this is a Saturday practice a little later in the morning, it's almost light out.

And we rowed for a good two hours, and it was amazing. Sure, we need to work on our form and skills and practice with all 8 in the novice boat going at the same time, but that's why we do this, so we can get that experience. By the end of practice we we still kind of rough, but we actually had decent power with all 8 and relatively little mishap.

Oh, and it's Halloween today. Candy, beezies! Yes! I won't be trick-or-treating, but it'll still be fun. Costumes and food and people. There's no way it can be bad.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

A Poem is an Act of Creation

Dance With Me
We are all searching.
We are all dancing,
left 2, 3, right 2, 3.
Circling and gasping as life burns through us.
Celebrate it and rejoice.
Show the world what it means to move.
You are not beholden to anyone except yourself,
so expand. Grow.
Like the Christian god said, "Let there be light."
Let it shine forth so I can see it.
Let it spread.
Let it be what it was always meant to be.
Ten million candles glow with the light of a forest fire.
If we each to our own selves be true I hate to be the one person standing in the way.

Entwine

I was up early this morning (though it was sleeping in compared to what time I wake up normally) and decided that this kind of cloudy, overcast Sunday morning would be perfect to write a poem or two. It's been a while since I've slowed down enough to tangle words like this. I think the result is a little sketch, but in its own way was cathartic and soothing.

For the record, yes, the girl who punches me in the shoulder is you, Charlie. And while you're everything I could want in a dance partner and friend, I think we both know what I really mean at the end there.

Read on and enjoy.

Entwine

To borrow the words of Billy Idol,
I feel like "I'm dancing with myself,"
I'm searching for someone who can keep up with
the ratatat percussion of this four count step
But
I keep getting lost in the music.
Circling, spinning, dip and twirl.
Frustrated, distracted by that face in my mind.

We almost fall.
There's no one to catch us
as the secondhand stops at 3.
A knockout beauty stands in front of me.
I apologize profusely.
She playfully punches me in the shoulder.
Refocused in that moment I lead us
onward, upwards, down and out
We show this world what it means to move
while inside I'm still searching for the perfect partner

Monday, October 19, 2009

Prostitution


I realize that this particular issue will strike a chord with people. It's a hot button issue, but I was a reading an article for my LGBT Lit class that got me started thinking about this.

The passage in particular that got me thinking about it was from Gayle Rubin's essay, "Thinking Sex." The specific paragraph was about consent laws and went further to say:

"Adults who deviate too much from conventional standards of sexual conduct are often denied contact with the young, even their own… Countless lesbians gay men, prostitutes, swingers, sex workers and 'promiscuous' women have been declared unfit parents under such provisions."

Earlier on, Rubin had made the point comparing the exclusion from the capitalist structure that sexual issues receive with the quality of medical practice were it to experience the same levels of removed legality and acceptance. Essentially it seems that a minor point she is making here is that were prostitution (to use but the most readily available example) legalized and socially accepted, the quality would go up.

Anyways, it led me to wonder just hypothetically, why not legalize prostitution? It's not socially accepted because our culture teaches us it's wrong, but other than that, what's stopping it?

It's dirty/unsafe you say? If we legalize it, then there would theoretically be various monitoring organizations in place to ensure... a quality experience, probably under the jurisdiction of the FDA or some other such bureaucracy.

It's goes against the bible. And remind me again what's so special about the Bible that puts it above other religious texts? Why not the Vedas or the Quran or the Gospel of the Flying Spaghetti Monster?

You can tax legalized institutions, unlike underground operations, providing valuable revenue to fund pointless wars (and to be fair, wars that do have a point).

I understand that this isn't something that's going to happen, and I can't say I advocate it or would participate in, but I also understand that the inherent hypocrisies behind this as an issue make the illegality of it a matter of absurdity. Other than undermining the already shaky foundations of morality, the pros seem to outweigh the cons. If people choose this who is it hurting?

And as far as "unfit parents" if they're providing for their children and not exposing them to undue physical or mental harm, aren't they doing their job as a parent? These are just some questions to ponder.

Another day, another class period of LGBT Literature

I don't remember if I ever finished writing this (it's from a couple weeks ago) but I'm going to post it anyways.

"As a black woman, I have to deal with identity or I don't exist at all." -Audre Lorde

We had a small discussion based around this quote on Wednesday and at one point came to the conclusion that you have to have an identity in order to assert yourself, but I ask what is identity? I believe I've addressed this in previous posts, but it's a prevalent question in our society worth bringing up again. How we define ourselves and more specifically, how we define the criterion we use to define ourselves drastically alters not only how we are perceived by others, but how we create ourselves.

Further, identity is amorphous and in its own way hard to define. It is simultaneously both inclusive and exclusive. I've heard the word essentialism (which I had to look up) mentioned and I agree that this plays a role in how we categorize and think about identifying: there are certain properties of identity that without them you cannot identify anything. But each essence, as the name essentialism suggests, isn't always clear. Philosophy has been waffling for years trying to figure out exactly how you classify something as human. So I'm not even going to try to touch that subject any further than I have just yet.

We are each defined by multiple spheres of influence: society, family and various cultures. In my AP US Government and Politics class my senior year of high school we called such varied influences cross-cutting cleavages, and they don't always run parallel to each other. More often than we like, our base identities clash and we have to choose which social/economic/familial belief or affiliation dominates our identity.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Eric Hutchinson



Want a button? Go here

I happened to run into this artist (figuratively) when I went to Bumbershoot at the beginning of September. Ever since, he's been one of my favorites.



So I figure, why not give a shout-out here on my blog? I've also included a YouTube video someone posted from that same Bumbershoot show I saw him at. Singing about Ponchos, naturally.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Something I wrote on Blackboard for my LGBT Lit Class

The Gay/Straight Binary


I found it interesting in my reading of Sedgwick's Epistemology of the Closet, when she mentions on page 55 the "attempts to name, explain, and define this new kind of creature, the homosexual person - a project so urgent that it spawned in its rage of distinction an even newer category, that of the heterosexual person."

This particular sentence seems to suggest that were it not for the search for a way to define a homosexual identity, there would not have been possible a heterosexuality, which by extension shows the inextricable link between the two. Which, as we've already discussed in our analysis of Judith Butler and Adrienne Rich, does not necessarily mean that homosexual and heterosexual practices have not existed, but that (and here I connect to D'Emilio) it is the rise of capitalist culture that allowed the emergence of a homosexual identity and by extension then it means capitalist culture allowed the rise of a named heterosexual identity.

Before the split that created this dependant binary system, there effectively was no heterosexuality. I call it a dependant binary system because without one the other would not exist. For lack of a better term, there were people and not-people. People, of course meaning parts of the nuclear family unit, and all others counting as abominations, witches or some other form of outcast from the norm of society.

So where does that put us now?

Clearly from the theory we've been reading the "gay" culture is a move to push past this restricting binary system would in many ways be beneficial, but as was mentioned at the very tail end of class, that is not the direction being taken by the LGBTQ movement. Is this binary essential to the establishment and creation of a strong queer culture that can work to break down what we've seen as the heterosexist views held (consciously or unconsciously) by the mainstream?

At one point, yes, this binary was essential. It has proven a valuable way to create a rallying point behind which to wave that rainbow flag, but it seems like this fight is progressing to a point where keeping the us vs. them mindset could actually prove a stumbling block. What's that tired adage? You catch more flies with honey than vinegar. And while I propose no actual solutions here, I think the necessary step is to change the mindset of a culture, which means rather than forcing your existence into view and banging pots and pans, we must use our power outside the culture to recognize the problems within it and help remedy them.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Pulse of a Lazy Sunday



Perhaps its a remnant of yesterday's early morning and late night, but today (Sunday) has been marked by a distinct sense of lethargy, a kind of perma-drowsiness that has made it hard to concentrate.

It didn't help that my friends, much as I love them, kidnapped me and took me to Woods Coffee down at Boulevard Park. Literally, they pulled out a pair of handcuffs and used them to pry me away from my book, my computer and my bed. I remember a time when no meant no, those were good times. I don't know why they continue to bother, they know I don't drink coffee and prefer to make my tea myself. Ah well, I shouldn't complain.

I'm supposed to be reading Big Blue (aka The Lesbian and Gay Studies Reader) for my LGBT Lit class, but I was laying with my feet up on the window frame and happened to notice that I could see my pulse in the vein/artery that runs over the top side of the arch. It was just such an interesting little blip blip blip under the skin that I took a video of it just so I could post it here.

I'm in wonder over the simple power of the heart. I wonder how high you can manage to be while completely sober.

I'm supposed to be reading The Epistemology of the Closet. What can we learn from the closet. Perhaps if I read the essay it will make sense. Or maybe it will make less sense. Such is the world of the college literature class.

I should go read, but maybe you've been inspired by that little blipping pulse. Namaste world, until next time.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Power to the Sheeple

The majority of you reading this know my opinions when it comes to freedom of thought and the meaning of status quo. Normal is a construct of society that is used to trap and confine us. As a definition, it does not exist, rather it is a spectrum of what has been deemed acceptable. The status quo is the agent and mandate of normal for without the idea of the one, the other could barely maintain existence.

I can't say that I'm always the best at living this, but I don't like following the norms. I'm not a normal person and I wouldn't be me if I tried to fit that mold, so it's big to me to train myself (or rather retrain myself) to think for myself. Certain kinds of rules, especially unspoken ones, are made to be broken, because let's face it, they're stupid. If they made sense and were anything more or less than defying the sum average of what everyone else is doing, they wouldn't be unspoken rules. They'd be spoken and written down (in stone. By God).

We're social creatures, it's one of the genetic reasons we think in terms of normal and status quo. If things are the way we want them, they're good. If they're different, something bad is going on and we're all gonna get eaten by the lions or whatever. It makes a certain kind of evolutionary sense for us to be distrustful of anything strange, and if we see an example being set we follow it because that's what we assume the normal is.

It is this mentality of following the example set for you that I personally find most satisfying to mess with.

I bring this up, because I inadvertently set such an example today whilst trying to check if there was a chance of recovering a textbook I seem to have misplaced (see lost, unable to find). My best guess was that I lost the book during class on Wednesday. Since my LGBT Lit class isn't in some big lecture hall, I figure there was a slim chance the book might still be sitting on the windowsill where I believe I left it.

I got to the room around a little after 2 only to find a class occupying the space. As much as I wish I were true ninja, I doubt I would have been able to slip in unnoticed and make my way to the far back corner, so I decided to wait, hoping the class was nearing its end. The time neared 2:30 and I realized it wasn't an hour and a half long class ending, but a class that had just begun.

I wandered the halls of Old Main, even pulled out a book I'd hoped to share with the Book Exchange operating out of OM555 and read for a while down the hall. No luck. 2:50 passed, and the class was still in session. It was an hour and a half long class that went until 3:30!

I decided to wait the remainder of the time outside the door, ready to spring in and out, fast as an assassin making a kill. So I took out my book, leaned against a wall, and began to read. The class across the hall got out at 3, they passed by me without seeming to even notice I was there.

I continued to wait, and soon a new class started to show up to enter the recently emptied room. The first saw the room was empty and entered, no problem, but as the room filled up, people began to get hesitant. With me standing right outside the door, they assumed I was waiting for a class to get out and so appropriately formed a line behind me.

Technically I was waiting for a class to get out, just not the one they needed to get into. I didn't know if I should laugh, point out I was waiting for the class across the hall where there was a professor lecturing, or keep my silence. I kept my silence and eventually one of the first girls to wait behind me asked me if the class had let out yet or what. I answered truthfully (a good policy to have) and she and her friends, followed by the rest of their class, filed past me into the room.

In short, I set an example by waiting and the sheeple saw sheeple did. And it took one girl who stepped out of the line and thought for herself to make a difference.

In case you were wondering, when I finally got into the classroom, my book wasn't there.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

The Art of the Mix

I've been a fan of the Mix CD since I've had the ability to make them (namely the last three or four years). It's an art form really, and that idea has been reinforced in me since I read the Rachel Cohn and David Levithan collaboration: Naomi and Ely's No Kiss List about a year ago.

The protagonists themselves, aren't that noteworthy for their musical prowess, but the love interest of the heroine, a sexy, black man named Gabriel. He makes a carefully crafted mix for Naomi a little over halfway through the book. It's got reason and rhyme behind every song selection and the songs aren't just haphazardly shuffled together either. Gabriel recognizes that like in real estate it's all about location, location, location. There are certain songs and certain kinds of songs that just can't go together and make a good mix. There has to be flow, a continuity and unless you do so intentionally, by design, breaking that flow or tone has the potential to throw off what could be a really good mix.

You see, it's not just about having good songs. A Mix CD is like telling a story. Kind of like: http://www.plurk.com/p/q5c4c was a poem told in YouTube music videos, so is the playlist you use to make the mix the ingredients for a mix. By definition, a mix is both a singular and a plural. It is made up of many things, but is also a cohesive whole. Without some kind of structure or order, it's chaos, which doesn't make for the most enjoyable listening experience.



My friend Grace had the idea to start a WWU Mix CD Exchange Group, and we had our first meeting today. It went smoothly, as you can see in the video, and we plan to make it a weekly thing, every Thursday night at 7. I understand that not everybody shares my philosophy when it comes to making mixes, but at the same time I can respect that. It's their right to not to be so obsessive about song placement and selection.

I love the idea of this group though, because with a diverse (or large) enough group of people, chances are you'll hear something you've never heard before. And if you like it, you may even make friends with the person who's CD you end up with. The last few months, I've been all about expanding my musical horizons, especially with respect to the local scene around Seattle. That's how I've found such groups as The Senate and Dyno Jamz and Common Market. But now I don't have to go looking to find music, it will come to me.

I'm totally psyched for this to continue.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

A Letter to My Blog

Ah, Widdershin Writings.

It's been good. It really has, but I'm reconsidering this whole arrangement we have. I don't have the attention span right now to maintain you the way you deserve to be maintained. Posts should happen at least once a week, preferably closer to three times a week, not intermittently once every two or three weeks as I forget you exist again and again.

It's my fault really, you shouldn't blame yourself. I mean, I got busy. I got distracted. If I were trying to make excuses, I'd even say it was because I didn't have constant, 24/7 access to the internet all summer, but I'm not trying to make excuses. And we both know that's not true. I checked my emails and Plurk and Facebook each at least once a week. You deserve better than neglect, and what we have/had, I think that's something worth trying to rekindle.

So here's the deal, I will write a blog post on something relevant to my life or to my classes or to something that's been nagging my mind at least once a week. These posts will be no less than 300 words and at least once a month they shall be accompanied by a video or photo or some other kind of multimedia image so you aren't just text.

Do you think you can agree to that, Widdershin? I feel so bad for how I've treated you these past few months and I want to make it up to you any way possible.

Alright, well, get back to me.
Much love,
Danny (acelessthan3)

Saturday, September 19, 2009

The Devil's Playground

You know that movie, Idle Hands, where the guy's right hand gets possessed by the devil and he can't control it? My hands get possessed by music.

When I have my headphones in and I'm listening to a rockin' song, I'll find my left hand starts moving. It's small at first: Really nothing more than a slight twitch. But then, as I get more and more into a song, it morphs into a kind of dancing. My hand slides up and down an invisible scale more or less in time with the singer's voice. I think I'm more a lyricist in that sense. I follow the words and the language just as much as the beats. Sometimes I can't tell if it goes up or down (I'm not that musically inclined I'm sorry to say) so my hands switch back and forth until I know for sure.

If there's piano, my hands will play an invisible keyboard, albeit not very accurately, but that's why it's invisible, no one has to hear it.

Eventually my right hand gets dragged in as well. I don't think I ever end up conducting the music I'm listening to, but I think that if I were to learn it, I would sign the songs. Depending on who I'm with and where I am, the dancing will spread. Up my arms, into my shoulders, down to my hips then it skips to my feet, and I'm full on dancing. It's freestyle with hip-hop and salsa influences.

It's inevitable.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

A haiku:
Waiting is stupid
My train is yet to arrive
Bags take up my space

Thursday, September 10, 2009

A photo is worth 1000 words, apparently photography is worth 620

If you've met me in person, you've no doubt seen me with my camera, and while I'm in no way a photographer, I do take a lot of pictures. For the last year, it seems like my life has been a never-ending series of snapshots, still frames from the movie of my life concentrated around the scenes where I'm surrounded by people.

It was during a conversation a few nights ago that Sarah mentioned that going through the many photo albums of pictures I've uploaded to Facebook wasn't like going through so many other people's pictures where everyone is lined up and smiling, that more often than not, my albums tell a story. It was a small comment, but it's made me think about the nature of my photography or rather my digital perspective.

I hesitate to call what I do photography. To me, photography is formal. It's planned and executed with the express purpose of ending up with a photograph of something or someone. There's thought behind it: the angle, the lighting, the subject. If photography were a large, glossy, oil painting, what I do with Earl Jr. (that's my trusty little Fuji Finepix J10) is more like stick figures in the sand. It's capturing part of the moment, part of the experience in instant gratification.

I learned early in life that to ignore the camera. My childhood was punctuated with the flashing bulbs of my grandmother every time we visited. There's the stereotype of the Asian tourist with the camera around their neck, well I'm here to tell you it's not just the tourists.

As I was going into the eighth grade, my mother pushed me to join journalism, pushed me for college applications and transcripts even though it wouldn't actually matter for another two years, where I was taught how to use a camera and how to take pictures for the yearbook. And one of the first things we were taught was to try to aim for natural. When you point a camera at someone, more often than not, their IQ will drop a hundred points as their eyes light up and they strike a pose. It looks as goofy as it sounds. So take candid pictures, don't let them know you're taking a picture until after the flash has faded.

I mean think about it, in most professional photography, they bend and position you to put you in the most natural looking poses possible and then spiff it up with perfect lighting, backgrounds and props. But the goal is to make it look natural, like you were always in that position. So to capture those same moments, to capture those same kinds of vulnerabilities candidly is a lot harder. You don't have the same kind of control of timing and position and lighting.

Perhaps a better analogy for what I do with a camera would be to compare it to amateur butterfly collecting. You run around with this image net and swing and swing at these fleeting fluttering images, missing most of the time, but with enough time and persistence , you'll get exactly what you're looking for and you can save it and frame it however you please. The key is to keep swinging.

And if you take enough of these candid miscarriages the way I do, collect them in one place and put them in chronological order, they do tell a story. It might be a little fuzzy on the details from time to time and sometimes people will be missing or incomplete, but it's natural, and the story part rises organically from that fact.

Any and all action tells much more of a story than the feigned smiles of a group shot.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Bumbershoot fun

This past weekend I got my face painted for the first time in who knows how many years. It was a kind of torture resisting the urge to itch for the few hours I had the paint on, reminding me why I'd forgone facepainting, but somehow I managed to last without the paint getting rubbed off, or worse washed off by the fickle attempts at rain by the Seattle skies.

The shirt I wore was another acelessthan3 original print, a simple design of black stripes on an orange shirt, mostly in an attempt to stand out in the crowds. I knew some friends would be at the music festival and wanted to make myself easily visible so wore one of the most painfully bright shirts available. It worked. Charlie and I hadn't even entered the event yet when I received a text informing me I'd been spotted.

Later in the day, I was surprised to find myself able to spot my friend Alex from across the Seattle Center International Peace fountain before he saw me. Just proves a good eye beats colors any day.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Acelessthan3

I'm pretty sure I set this one as a scheduled post for last Thursday. Dammit, blogger, quit doing this to my scheduled posts. I schedule them to post at a certain time, post them at that time, geez, is that so hard? Oh well, posting now.

Who is Acelessthan3?

I'm pretty sure that at his most basic level, Aceless is some extension of me. It's been my chosen pseudonym for over half a year now, the fa├žade I hide behind whenever I need to come up with a new username.

I like to think though that Aceless is a little more and a little less than me. Aceless is me in a mask, the parapersonality through which escapes all the jokes and intelligence I don't let myself show, the elegant fool on stage. He is the Locke and Demosthenes to my Peter and Valentine (please get that book reference whether you love or hate the books). But at the same time, he's so much more superficial and surface level, lacking the depth and experience of his own identity, always sharing and drawing symbiotically upon my knowledge and experience.

Of course, it's getting hard to tell the two apart. It's not like Aceless is some exclusive avatar I use while gaming with a specific circle of friends, no, virtually all of my presence online has become or is in the process of becoming an annex to the construction that is Acelessthan3.

And to think, it all started with a deck of cards.


Origins

I was at summer camp up near Leavenworth (yes, Power of Hope, the same one I talk about all the time. You would too if you had the chance to experience it, which you do have the chance, I'm telling you that you do. Look them up: http://powerofhope.org) a little over a year ago. One of the youth there with me was a boy by the name of Cyrus.

Now, Cyrus was a bit of a clown and a thespian. He had a knack for taking your attention that made him a natural magician of the stage. It was really no surprise that he did card tricks. At the end of the week, he gave away his deck of cards. Pick a card, any card and it's yours to keep. I think you can guess which card I drew.

Well flash forward to I think it was around January 2009. I'm signing up for some internet site; I don't rightly remember which one, but the site's asking me to create a username and I want one that's unique to me. I flip through the pages of the journal I got at camp and still write in, and I stop on the page where I've taped the card.

That's it! I'll use the card. But to put as my username theaceofhearts is altogether too mundane and in all likelihood already taken. I need something original. So I look at the familiar ace of hearts shape and imagine how I would type that. Perhaps if I used the well-known emoticon for a heart: A<3? No, special characters aren't allowed. And then it hits me, spell out A<3. Acelessthan3 and my internet pseudonym is born. Incorporation

It was around this time that I started talking to a rather tech-savvy friend who convinced me to sign up for several more social networking and data storage sites, each requiring a username. By now I'd become fond of Acelessthan3. It's distinctive and with the creation of my plurk , thanks to my enrollment in a literature class called Nanotexts, and twitter accounts had gained a level of personality as I wrote through Aceless.

When I started designing and silk-screening my own t-shirts, A<3 became my signature so you would know it was an Acelessthan3 original print. When I make mix CDs for friends, I always take the time to create cover art to go with it and invariably sign the bottom with "An Acelessthan3 Original Mix." Hell, I've even begun to sign personal letters with Danny A heart (since I don't know the coding to make an actual heart appear there, with the heart being underneath the A in true card style). If I weren't so comfortable in my identity as Acelessthan3, I'd be worried about this overlap.

Monday, August 17, 2009

Fate kismet and other facts of life that shape who I am as a spiritual being

A while back, I made a post about a little Buddha statue I found on the side of the road and in it, promised to write about my religious beliefs. Here's a small portion of all that I could write about there:

I don't consider myself a religious person. My faith has yet to become enamored of any single organized religion. Much like in high school, there's far too much drama and social politics involved with any of them.

I cannot call myself a Christian. I believe in the teachings of Christ, but I cannot reconcile those teachings with all the sins against man committed in the name of someone who clearly preached a far more loving ideology. At the same time though, I recognize that that history doesn't necessarily reflect any Christian people I know, because most of the ones I know are truly loving, kind people.

I take umbrage to the institution and the church, and what they've done in the name of the religion, not the religion itself.

So it's kind of a mixed bag.

And with other world religions, I feel uneducated about them and a lot of them have the same kind of deal as well. War and violence and hatred all over what some God nobody knows anything about has said. Like I watched the movie Slumdog Millionaire, and I was practically hyperventilating through parts of it watching these people in India suffering. It's the same thing when I look at history and religions, there's just this ENORMOUS baggage and weight behind it. And I don't know if I can do that. I don't know if I can embrace that and accept that it's a pain I will never be able to heal.

At the same time though, I have this unshakeable faith that there's more out there. I just don't know what it is. It's like in the books and stories, you KNOW good will win, even if it takes a while, it's gonna happen.

I believe in Fate, what some call Kismet or the hand of God. I have a hard time believing in coincidences, especially when people are concerned. It shapes my belief that certain life experiences are ordained and meant to happen. Free will shapes the path and the time it takes for you to get there, but it will happen in the end. I take peace from this knowledge.

If you are meant to meet someone, you will be presented with opportunities to meet them until you do, but how you meet them depends on which path you follow.

Religious belief as I see it boils down to the same kinds of principles I believe in love:
Love yourself so you can love others and in doing so treat them with respect.
Work towards making good things happen and good things will happen.
Live what you want to see in the world.
In short, find: optimism, respect, love, acceptance

Monday, August 10, 2009

Back When

Just a crappy little poem I wrote the other day when I couldn't sleep.


I bet you could see more constellations
before we learned to turn hillsides into suns
Night was darker back when
back when electricity was fire in the sky, was
snake tongues of light tasting clouds

I want to climb a mountain and look down
find Orion's reflection in the city
The Northern lights as the twinkle change of
synchronized traffic signals
Make a wish on the freeway cars as they burn by

It was probably simpler
Midnight trysts meant more
They weren't sterilized in incandescence
or washed out with cold fluorescent glow
LED screens sucking away at souls

This is a digital age of plastic and chrome
Everything gets vacuum packed and sent off
in another satellite to streak across the horizon
Yeah, I bet you could see more constellations
back when

And I quote: "Hot Gay Twins"

View Original Post for the accompanying YouTube video if you still aren't reading these at my blog.


I was initially tickled by this video. But then Davey just goes on and on and on.

I think I can understand the appeal of two, attractive guys going at it (I am a gay teenage boy after all), but from the other side it makes sense as well. They're brothers. Socially and mentally incest is taboo. And I must say, despite us both being gay, I in no way find my brother to be attractive, so just because they're twins it really shouldn't make a difference.

If I were straight I wouldn't be interested in my hypothetical sister, no matter how hot she is (because hypothetical sisters are always hot).

Suffice it to say, I don't get the whole incest appeal. Big whoop, they'd be having sex. And? The far more interesting possibilities would involve sex with your Doppelganger. Think about it, in the stories, your doppelganger is out to kill and replace you. It adds a whole other dimension of weird. There are moral and ethical repercussions here.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Zombie Cookies 2

So apparently Mother's Cookies were bought out by Kellogg after they went bankrupt back in October and have been working to get the cookies back on shelves by June this year, at least on the West Coast.

The complete list according to seriouseats.com is Arizona, California, Colorado, Nevada, New Mexico, Oregon, Texas, Utah, and Washington.

Here's the official press release:
http://news.prnewswire.com/DisplayReleaseContent.aspx?ACCT=104&STORY=/www/story/05-05-2009/0005019404&EDATE=

"Souter says Americans need civics lesson" and other frightening things I've read in the Sunday paper

Page A3 of my local Sunday paper, the News Tribune (serving South Puget Sound) runs a little box along the seam-side of the page titled "In Brief" with a short rundown of stories from across the nation and the world.

Souter says Americans need civics lesson was one of the headlines that happened to catch my eye. A short synopsis of the news brief, or rather, the first sentence/paragraph: Retired Supreme Court Justice David Souter urged the nation's lawyers Saturday to help revitalize civic education warning that the failure of many Americans to understand how the government works poses a serious threat.

I'm shocked and appalled and in complete agreement with Souter. Later in the brief, Souter "pointed to a poll showing two-thirds of Americans can't name the three branches of government." Not that I particularly endorse the television corporation named after an orange animal of the dog family, but this is the reason shows like "Are you smarter than a 5th grader" have been allowed to have any measure of success. Americans are stupid.

It's no wonder we as a country are so ass-backwards compared to the rest of the industrialized world in so many aspects. We let idiots and morons and rock stars (and appropriate combinations thereof) be the ones in charge because we're too apathetic to even take the time to know how our own government works.

That's a damn shame because I for one believe that as far as governmental models go, ours has some pretty strong things working in its favor. Sure, there are major areas of corruption and aspects have gotten way out of hand, but the system of checks and balances between the three branches of the Legislature, Executive and Judiciary is a really good idea.

I'll save a discussion of the strengths and flaws inherent in the system for a textbook, but really, it's not that hard a concept. The hard part is how this system gets applied to running a country and all the political maneuvering that has shaped the government into the behemoth it is today. It's been complicated to a game of politics and control and infighting as all of our elected leaders try to force all the other elected leaders to agree with them and create/overturn laws and policies that will benefit us as a people, themselves, our allies, our enemies, their individual constituencies, the corporate interests providing them with money.

Vietnam's harmony with Zen master unraveling

This bit of news came from the very next page as the headline to a story about relations between Zen master Thich Nhat Hanh, his followers and the Vietnamese government deteriorating supposedly after he made statements to the media supporting the Dalai Lama's return to Tibet.

Y'know, for a group whose stereotypical image is that of a peacefully meditating, balding Asian monk, these Buddhists really seem to create conflict with governments looking to repress their religious freedom. Riots and protests and semi-provoked attacks on monasteries make me wonder just how dedicated you have to be to maintain inner peace amongst so much chaos.

It's really not funny how these esteemed religious leaders are being forced from their homelands in the face of oppressive governments, but the kind of temerity shown by these mostly bald, mostly older men belies a greater will by the people to express themselves as their beliefs see fit.

The worst mistake opponents of such religious leaders could do is to martyr them and continue to seek to repress a spiritual movement. Look what happened to Christ, and over 2000 years later his teachings are stronger than ever. You cannot kill belief.

Six Flags filed for Chapter 11?

I normally don't do more than skim the business section as I have very little interest or knowledge in economic matters save for a deep interest in the bigger picture meaning of economy that seems to shape our materialistic society. Money is no object to me and anything beyond the necessities should be shared and enjoyed with as few restraints as needed except to maintain those necessities.

A small headline in The Wall Street Journal Sunday page caught my eye since I'd just spent the day running around my local water park. "Ride out summer at a theme park." Aside from the milquetoast pun on the word ride, it seemed like the kind of simple travel story you would find in the business section instructing how to spend your money and yet still manage to save (a contradictory idea I've still yet to wrap my head around).

I read it anyways.

The second sentence, "Though Six Flags filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy-court protection in June, deals are available at many of the theme-park chain's 18 U.S. locations" was the one that made me double-take. Since when did Six Flags file for bankruptcy? Oh, in June. Say what?

This should have no bearing on me whatsoever as Wildwaves and Enchanted Village (though I guess they dropped the Enchanted Village part of the name some time ago), the local water park I mentioned, hasn't been owned or operated by Six Flags for several years. But remember those commercials where the crazy old man in the ill-fitting suit danced to the Vengaboys and kidnapped random strangers on his magic bus and brought the to a wonderful land of happiness? Six Flags was responsible for that advertising annoyance.



I'm flabbergasted and left wondering how? Why? And more importantly, where was the major media coverage of the collapse of one of the biggest names in the theme park industry? I seem to remember there being quite a lot about some giant car corporations getting ready to go belly-up. Doesn't that bit have something to do with our overall economy as Americans find that frivolous spending on expensive theme parks and roller coasters aren't the best way to attain happiness and maintain a sustainable lifestyle?

Monday, August 3, 2009

Zombie cookies?

So it was about this time last year when I first read a few stories about Mother's brand cookies going out of business, so I was understandably surprised to see these sitting in the aisle of my local Safeway grocery store tonight.

While I'm more than glad to see production hasn't ended as someone has bought out the confectionary staple, I'm shocked to not have learned of their return sooner. Does anyone have any dirt as to exactly when and how this happened? If not, I'll look it up within the next week and let you know.

And coming tomorrow, I rant about some articles I read in the newspaper yesterday. (yes I actually read the physical sunday paper, doesn't everybody?)

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Life Would Be Wonderful if Facebook showed the embedded video


This past week, I had my Canadian friend Gabe staying with me for a few days after he got back from camp but before he returned home himself.  I've known this enthusiastic kid for two years, and this is actually the first time we've seen each other in two years since we parted ways at the Power of Hope camp where we met. It's the kind of price you pay for being minors who don't drive and live a good four-plus hours journey away from each other.
Since we had mutual camp friends organizing an informal after-camp get together on Whidbey Island, the day after my family picked him up, Gabe and I threw a day's worth of supplies in a backpack and took four buses and a ferry North. We ended up staying on the island for three days.

By the end of our stay, despite feeling like I smelled worse than a wet dog, I was told repeatedly by one of the girls in our merry band of love children that I smelled good, leading us to the theory that I emit some sort of pheromonal scent in my sweat that makes me somewhat attractive to women. The cruel irony in this of course is that I'm Capital-G Gay.

Long story short, we had fun and I'm sure the sense of love we all got from that experience together on the island will carry with us through the next year until we can get together again. In the meantime, we've agreed to start a traveling notebook, acting in some ways akin to a chain letter, passing from person to person with us each adding our own entry to the collective story.

I've spent the last four days at home decompressing and writing letters. Which has made me realize I should really get some kind of personalized stationery. It would add quite the personal touch to my letters and look prettier than the standard printer paper I've been using.

Sometimes I feel so old fashioned with my letter writing. There are people in my generation who don't even know how to send a letter, let alone have the handwriting to do so. We're so used to typety-type-type-typing everything on our laptops and cell phones. And while this isn't a bad thing, it lacks that special touch that sets a letter apart.

I for one can't imagine a love letter without the curlicues and twists of some cursive script. What font can really compare to the handwritten for the effort and simplicity that goes into what's being said? Sure, readability might be better, but it doesn't feel like it has as much thought in it. You can tell a person immediately from their handwriting, but the typed word could be anyone.

Saturday, July 25, 2009

I haven't posted anything in over a week.

I feel like such a bad blogger, but rest assured dear readers, I will be writing something soon. I just haven't figured out what yet.

Maybe I'll write about my recent excursion to the beautiful Whidbey Island, or maybe I'll write about the horror of what felt like the hundreds of bus transfers it took to get there. I don't know, it's too early to tell. All I know is I'll write it in some kind of word document and then I'll post it when I get online again sometime next week.

Can we agree to that? Is that satisfactory? Well, too bad, you don't have a choice in the matter.

Friday, July 17, 2009

Why i hate biking in hot weather.

The dark spot across my chest is where the strap from my backpack was.

I feel disgusting and tired. However, it was a damn good workout getting to the bank and back.

I think this is a sign I'm supposed to be buddhist.

I was walking home from the grocery store when I came across this little Buddha sitting in the grass on the side of the road.

I'm not really one for portents and omens, but considering I just started a shirt design based on the mantra of compassion (ohm mani padme hum), this is a little too convenient. I mean what are the chances?

Now I think I need to write a post about my religious beliefs. I'll try to get one up in the next few days.

Just suffice it to say for now that I believe in the power of Fate, Kismet and the purpose of coincidence.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Musings on Love

There was much waffling over whether or not I would post this. I had to rewrite it like three times before I was satisfied enough with it that I didn't just delete the whole thing. If you can't tell, I've kind of started myself on a spiritual journey this summer, doing a lot of introspection and soul searching. It's also made me feel very creative so if nothing else I'll get all sorts of cool art out of this.

"I love you."

What meaning do these words have anymore? We repeat them a thousand times a day, often without any thought. I love you means goodbye. I love you means can I kiss you. I love you means I'm glad you're here.

But when I think about those moments of pure love where I look at someone and all thought leaves my mind, all the voices in my head shut up for the power of what I'm experiencing, in these tiny moments words fail me. They're moments full of innocence and an intensity that pull you direct to the bone.

In these moments, my instinct is not to say some stammered "I love you," but to act. I want to reach out, to caress away a tear or kiss surprised lips. To laugh with pure, unfiltered joy and spin in circles until I fall down crying because I'm smiling so hard.

Unconditional

I've said this in previous posts, but love is unconditional. Love encompasses and rises above whatever else we may be feeling. If it doesn't, we should question whether or not it's actually love or if it is love, then what other emotions and influences are at work.

It's possible to love someone you hate and hate someone you love. If you don't believe that, just look at your parents. The hate may or may not come and go, but the love endures. Or for another example, look at a small child. Hurt them and they will react in rage and sadness, but as soon as that passes it's like nothing ever happened.

Have the heart of a child tempered with the control of experience. It's a scary thing to do because from experience we learn to harden ourselves, to protect and shield ourselves from all the pain and misery the world throws at us, or in some cases that we throw at ourselves. We're afraid to let go of those protections, to make ourselves vulnerable and open and let our love express itself.

It takes work to break habits we've been in the process of establishing since early childhood, but as the tired adage goes, practice makes perfect.

More often than I like to admit, I've let fear hold me back; fear that my expression of love is somehow inappropriate for the moment or for the person I would be showing it to. But there have been a few times where I've pushed past that and bridged that gap and let my love manifest itself.

The first time this happened in recent memory, was my first kiss. Which I feel understandably uncomfortable writing about that here, but discomfort is just fear of judgment, and if you come from a strong place within yourself no matter what anyone else says their judgments cannot hurt you.

First Kiss:

We'd been talking online for what felt like months, though in reality it had only been a few weeks. There was an excitement and reciprocation of interest I'd never experienced before. We discovered each other through some mutual friends and started talking out of my lack of inhibition when it comes to talking to friendly strangers, or in this case, not so strange people I don't know.

One of our mutual friends was putting on a poetry reading in my area and being that we're both poets of a sort it seemed like the perfect opportunity and motive to get together in person. The only thing was that he would be coming from out of town. Not really thinking of any deeper implications, I offered my dorm room, opening my door and my bed. After all, what is mine is my friend's (except for my toothbrush, but that's kind of a different circumstance).

He caught a bus, or rather several different buses, on a Friday afternoon and was to meet me after my classes ended for the day. Sure enough, I wasn't out of my last class for a full 10 minutes when I got a voicemail from an unrecognized number.

"Hey Danny, it's me on somebody else's phone, just letting you know I might be a little later than expected since I have to transfer buses downtown before I make it to campus."

I waited with my friend, Dani taking silly pictures on one of the nearby sculptures. I saw him before he saw me and almost instantly had this huge, silly grin plastered on my face.

We spent several hours together before the Salt Lines performance talking and hanging out, basically getting to know each other better. Laying with my head in his lap, I noticed he had strong hands. I got to hold those hands later at the performance and again when we reconnected with some friends. I felt safe in them.

Back in my room after all of this as we lay in my bed, he felt warm sharing that space with me, his arms wrapped around me. I think we were both drifting off when I rolled over. I wanted to look in the face this wonderful person beside me. I think I held my breath for a moment before I leaned in and kissed him on the lips. On and off throughout the day I'd felt called to do that, but this was the first time I stopped my fear from holding me back.

It tickled sweetly and it was an unfamiliar pressure on my lips. It didn't go much farther beyond that, it'd been a long day for both of us, but I think that was as far as I was ready for at that point.

My point

Looking back, I'm tempted to call that a beautiful moment in my life, but realistically, all firsts are beautiful in their own way. It means a lot to me though that I've been able to find the peace within myself to think of this moment without any bitterness. So often we let the end of a relationship ruin any happy memories from that relationship or worse, get so caught up in missing those happy memories that we don't let go of the relationship and it hurts us.

But by sharing the experience of my first kiss here on my blog, I'm trying to show how it happened in a moment of love when I let my guard down and just let it happen. I didn't need words to say everything I expressed with a kiss. Of course it doesn't always have to be a kiss, depending on your relationship with the other person and the situation at hand, love could express itself as a hug or a smile or even something as simple as eye contact.

Love is a gift like the air we breathe. We all have it and we can give it freely to anyone. You cannot contain it and you cannot see it, but you feel it when it's missing and you feel it when it's there.

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Not the same secret service.

I've recently begun to see television ads for an SMS question/answer service (similar to the popular Chacha or Google text) branded as KGB. Just text 542542 and for a $.99 charge to your cellphone bill, your question will be answered.

Does that disturb anyone else?

I doubt they're named after the USSR espionage agency, but the similarity puts me on edge, more so knowing that so many of my peers are ignorant of the connotations of the simple acronym KGB.

What's worse is the ads themselves depicting an underground internet search organization finding answers fast as you can text. Um... HELLO?! Secret underground organization dealing in information? I hope this is just some clever marketing joke.

Ghost pains

It was around this time last year that I broke the Hamate bone in my left hand (that's the bone in the palm of the hand connecting the wrist to the pinky and ring fingers). I didn't know it at the time. When I got hit by the SUV on my bike, I'd assumed from the swelling and the pain that I'd only sprained something.

I also discovered just how much we rely on our pinky fingers and that tiny bit of extra leverage they supply to operate in day to day life. Lifting anything bigger than a pen was torture and a frying pan was next to impossible.

The uneven lump I discovered a few weeks later once the swelling and pain went away proved otherwise.

My hand had healed without a visit to the doctor, but the bone didn't set evenly so now I have mismatched hands to tell the tale of my youth. It's nothing so drastic as to interfere with the use of my hand. Being that I'm a lefty and it was my left hand that was injured, I'm glad to still be able to write with as much legibility as I had before my accident (which admittedly by some standards isn't saying that much).

But now I find myself from time to time experiencing ghost pains in my left hand. Or more likely they're real pains and I just haven't caught on that my hand is still effed up. But I don't do any kinds of activities that put particular stress on that bone. I don't karate chop blocks of wood or… actually, I can't think of any other activities that would directly impact that part of my hand. Regardless, my point is made, I'm not doing anything to actively make the problem worse save massaging the lump caused by the healed fracture when it aches.

Saturday, July 11, 2009

Simmer on low heat until you've reduced me to tears.

Organizational stress is one of the few kinds of stresses that gets to me. Planning and coordinating different people and hoping that things work out according to said plans is one of the few kinds of activities that with enough time would have the potential to reduce me to tears, this is more likely if the thing I'm trying to organize is something I truly care about.

So, if you ever want to see Danny have a nervous breakdown, ask him to plan your wedding.

I think the reason this kind of stress gets under my skin so much is that it often lacks that element of control. There are too many unpredictable variables, too many people involved in coordinating even simple events for you to be able to do anything but hope people pull through with what you ask them to.

I trust people, probably at times entirely too much, but there comes a point where I'm trusting too many people to come through like a series of dominoes, perfectly in order, all at once: it shakes my faith and puts doubt in myself. My natural inclination towards positivity and optimism makes it hard for me to admit that I have doubts about people I trust, but that doesn't change that the doubts are there.

I'm much happier when I have control, not necessarily to micro-manage since I also believe it's important to respect the personal space of the people you're working with and trust them to do what they need to do in their own way, but I've lived so long by the adage that if you want something done right you do it yourself that it's hard to give up that independence simply because I've never really had people available to ask to do it for me.

It's not even about the people either. Sometimes my fear comes from chance. A computer crashes or a bus is late or something happens. Something always happens and while I can usually improvise and find a way to work through this, the thought of it is daunting.

As a result, I have a tendency to overcompensate. I always make sure every possible base is covered almost to the point of redundancy. I will double and triple check that people know what time and where and who with as well as where to go if something goes wrong. Nobody's ever said it, but I'm sure I can get annoying about it with the way I will reiterate and rephrase everything so that there is absolutely no possible way you can confuse what I'm saying and meaning.

Friday, July 10, 2009

Another acelessthan3 original print.

This one is called "The truth about me."

It's me of course because the top is the number 21, which is what I take to be one of my guiding numbers in life, and no, it has nothing to do with drinking ages. I was born on September 21.

Truth because the little black specks down near the bottom are the Japanese kanji for shinjitsu, which translates as truth. And it's a sword shape because sometimes the truth hurts, but sometimes that pain is necessary.

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Cheese is my master.

Having grown up on slices of Kraft American Singles and pre-packaged partial-skim mozzarella string cheese, it's taken me a while to warm up to the world of cheese making. I think it's partly because I never knew what possibilities were out there, there's still so many to try too. Here's just a few of the cheeses I've had the pleasure of enjoying:

Swiss cheese has a tiny bit of tang to it with an almost waxy texture. It's sweet too, which I like in a cheese (I've since learned that I am not alone in this and that Americans in general favor sweeter cheeses, which is how the ewephoria variety was developed).

Another Swiss cheese that I like is a variety called gruyere. It too is sweet, but it lacks that same tang; it has a slightly nuttier flavor and a definite pungency about it that gives it some oomph. The texture is nice too. It's a hard cheese with a kind of gritty, crumble in your mouth feel. Pieces closer to the rind take on a slight chewiness. When I'm in the mood to treat myself, this is the cheese I splurge with, eating it by the block. Which at roughly $30 per pound, making a pretty standard-sized block about $9.50, doesn't happen very often.

Cheddar is kind of strong in my opinion. Next to American cheese (whatever the hell that is), it's the white bread of cheeses. Or rather, it's the toasted Wonder Bread of cheeses or the fake-tanned faux-Californian from the middle of suburbia of cheeses. Cheese is not naturally yellow-orange, you know. They add annatto, a vegetable extract, to it to make it that color.

The only cheddar I've had that I really liked was a free sample at a Haagen store of a wine-soaked variety. It was purple on the outside and still had that distinctive cheddar sharpness, but it was mellowed by the winey taste.

Generally I've avoided pre-sliced sandwich cheeses, I think mostly from bad experiences with Slices (that processed, individually-wrapped "Cheese-product" you could almost use as flame-retardant, worse than Velveeta) than anything else. That said, provolone isn't bad. I've only ever had it in sandwiches though, so I tend to think of it as pretty bland with a soft, creamy texture.

I'm not too big on soft cheeses: Munster and the like. They have their place and go really well with certain things, but as far as snacking on them by themselves, they're too mushy and don't really lend themselves to portability. When I get the chance though, I want to try some more.

That said, I like mozzarella. The real kind that you find in specialty stores and closer to the deli, not the stuff that goes on pizza or gets individually wrapped and put in lunches for school, though when melted those can be quite tasty. Top some firm heirloom (or regular) tomato slices with a piece of mozzarella and a little basil or Italian seasoning, and it's a perfect. It's mild enough that it has versatility, but it's distinct enough that you still know you have mozzarella when it's put in front of you. Plus it retains its stringiness which is fun.

Like any food in your standard American culture, cheese is vastly underrated. When your standard consumer can only name maybe five varieties of cheese they use on a day to day basis (two of which are pre-shredded mixes of the other three), you live in a cultural wasteland. Explore a little, people! There is more to food than meat, bread and potatoes. There is more to flavor than just meat or salt!

And if you truly enjoy that and are happy with that, then I can respect your decision. But before you settle down to your bland little grocery world, will you at least try something different first?

I've degenerated to ranting now. This is usually the sign I should stop typing and go away, so I think I will. Try some cheese, send me some suggestions and enjoy your day.

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Unconditional: 100th Post!

"Imagine a perfect relationship. You are always intensely happy with your partner because you live with the perfect woman or man for you. How could you describe your life with this person?

Well, the way you relate with this person will be exactly the way you relate with a dog. A dog is a dog. It doesn't matter what you do, it's going to be a dog. You are not going to change a dog for a cat or a dog for a horse; it is what it is."
-Don Miguel Ruiz, The Mastery of Love: A Toltec Wisdom Book


It reminds me of that Depeche Mode song that goes: "People are people so why should it be you and I should get along so awfully." Every relationship is a connection between two people each with their own desires and drives that create not only who they are, but how they interact with the world. Expecting them to change to fit your drives and desires cannot work and cannot lead to happiness.

I like this dog metaphor because it's true. If you treat every relationship like you would the loving bond (an important distinction since some people treat dogs quite horribly) between dog and master, then you'll be much happier.

A dog wants to be with you when it wants to be with you because it wants to be with you (or because you have food, but even then, it still wants to be there). If it doesn't want to be with you, it will squirm and struggle and run off to the other room; there's absolutely nothing you can do about this except to laugh and let it go. You can follow if you want but it won't expect you to and will probably be just as happy if you do as if you don't. If it isn't, it will come back.

The dog doesn't try to change you. It doesn't try to control you. It will let you know when it needs to go to the restroom or that it's hungry or thirsty, and if you don't respond it will work within its means to satisfy those needs without you. If it misbehaves and poos on the floor or eats out of the garbage or drinks from the toilet it's because you didn't do your part not because it's acting out against you.

Put a dog in a kennel or lock it outside, and it will whine. It will be sad. You are containing it's free spirit to roam and wander and randomly come up and lick your face and give you its love.

The key part of all this is the unconditionality of it. The dog is a dog no matter what, just like you are you no matter what, and you both have to be those things entirely for it to work and not expect the other to be anything else than what it is. The book goes on to ask "If you want a dog, then why you are getting a cat? If you want a cat, then why would you get a horse or a chicken?"

I look around at my relationships and the relationships of the people around me, and we're constantly criticizing each other and nit-picking. You don't fit my vision of what you should be. You don't talk loudly enough. You aren't responsible with money. You never communicated with me on the level I was trying to communicate. You aren't the pretty little tabby, you're a dirty, smelly mutt.

We can't change those things. All we can do is try to change how we react to them, which isn't to say we should give up, but getting angry or upset is an action in futility.

Basically what I've taken from this is the idea that I want to love unconditionally and love compassionately for the betterment my happiness and for yours. It is by no means a completely selfless or easy endeavor, I want to be happy as much as the next person, but in recognizing that, I'm also accepting that I'm not perfect and neither are the people around me. By accepting that fact as something I will never be able to change though I'm working that much closer to my goal.

The reason I post this here is because thanks to Power of Hope, I've learned that the best way to actualize an intention or goal is to verbalize it and share it with other people.

As we say at camp: Do you support me in this?

Monday, July 6, 2009

SkyFlowers

I want to catch you
shower of gold
this is the end of the rainbow broadcast
across the evening sky
shakes my heart
Boom. Boom. Crack.
shakes my bones
fingers of light to caress this aching soul
More! More!
Please never let this end
So much smoke the aftermath.
Wherewithal does this wind us blow?
Ashes, ashes, we all fall down.
Fill this union with soot
but take away the memories.

I spent the Fourth of July with my friends Kellen and Dani on Kellen's grandparent's boat out on Lake Union. It's really the first time I've done the whole fireworks thing without my family. I grew up going to our family cabin on Hood Canal. That's long sold now, so the last few years have been much quieter celebrations of Independence Day, that is of course if we do anything at all.

I have to say there's something to be said for experiencing the Fourth on a boat. Being able to feel every explosion as the fireworks light up the sky was something I highly recommend… unless you have heart problems or an otherwise sensitive constitution. If you're going to be on the boat all day before the fireworks start though, I strongly recommend bringing not only copious amounts of food/drink, but also things to keep yourself entertained.

Anyways, during the light show I felt rather poetic and since I didn't have my usual notebook handy, so I pulled out my phone and texted the above poem in chunks to my email. It's not the most eloquent way to write a poem, I know, but it got the ideas out of my head and into a more concrete medium than anything else available.

I realized only after I had Dani read it that it kind of sounds like a love poem, which I suppose I shouldn't ruin that element of it by admitting that it's not, but… it's not a love poem, or it wasn't meant as such when I first wrote it. I may keep this and adapt and expand what I have into something more once I have someone in mind to be writing about.