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.

Sunday, December 9, 2012

Use your powers for good

In my time, I've worked with some pretty awesome people through work, school and various volunteer opportunities, I've come across some of the most amazing people in the world doing all kinds of work to make this a better place.

And amazing as these people are, they're still people. They still have moments where they can act like assholes or say the wrong thing.

And most impressive (and oftentimes extreme) in this mix are the youth that I get to work with. Because that thing about how teenagers are a LOT more capable than many adults give them credit for, it's true.

As someone who barely feels like an adult, but nonetheless finds himself in positions of being an adult figure, I think it's hugely important when working with youth to treat them as whole and capable beings, which ultimately means holding them accountable.

Case in point:

One of the youth I've met, a brilliant young man to be sure, has this unfortunately snarky habit of pushing people's buttons. For those of us who know and love him, we recognize that what comes across as assholishness is just him playing devil's advocate and mostly saying things to garner a response. For people who don't know him very well, or don't meet him in a mediated situation, it can lead to quickly escalating conflicts that he's usually fairly skilled at handling on his own.

Sometimes though he needs that gentle reminder.

I don't know if I gave the best response I possible when I privately confronted him about an argument he had on a mutual friend's Facebook post, which admittedly he did instigate and then proceed to use language that implicitly painted himself as a victim.

I called him out on that and then offered this bit:

You're more than smart enough to know how to manipulate a situation right to the line and then mediate it back down when you see it's headed in a direction you'd rather it didn't. Probably far more effectively than most people would be able to. That's actually really impressive. Use your powers for good.

I ended with this because I wanted to underline the importance that while I don't think he handled the situation ideally, I know he's smart enough to know that the points I called him out on (being the instigator by implying someone he didn't know is a douche and then painting himself as the victim when they rightfully, albeit not productively, reacted) are true. I wanted to say that yes, he's very good at this, but as someone who cares I expect him to use that skill in a constructive way.

These were just some thoughts.

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

NaNoWriMo 2012

Well, I did it. With half an hour to spare, I finished my NaNoWriMo before Dec. 1. If you'd like to read it yourself, there's a link at the end of this post.

I just printed a copy of the first draft manuscript of the novel I wrote for NaNoWriMo.  See:


It's been a long and crazy road. What started on a whim turned into a race against myself.

For those of you who don't know, I signed up for NaNoWriMo this year because my boyfriend said he would we should send each other pictures of ourselves as incentive to write. I lost track of how many pictures I sent him. I can count the number of pictures he sent me by counting the number of cheeks I can see on my face without looking at a mirror.

But that's okay, a non-enforced part of the agreement was that we would send the pics if we were on track with our writing. Except for three days in the middle of the month and the very end, I was playing catch up.

I started fairly slowly, completely missing the first day of writing because I had class and work all day, then as soon as the event was over I joined some friends for happy hour at the local Applebees. And then it took me a week and a half of writing before I actually caught up to the recommended word count by day.

Through this entire process, I had very little in the way of plot. I had decided three days before the start of the month that I would tell the story in the form of letters, but that's about it.

As I started writing, I used what I knew. I have a large collection of letters from pen pals that I have collected over the last seven years and I used these to give me small pieces to prompt writing: certain phrases, locations or scenarios. I found myself pulling from my bookshelf, quoting poets and nature guides.

Eventually I started a timeline of sticky notes and character maps on the wall above my desk.

I haven't taken them down yet.
After about the third day of writing, I decided I would give my story a four part structure with about each week of the month determining how long I would write each part. Given my epistolary form, I could change narrators with each new part. I continued writing.

This is the French press that was almost constantly filled with yerba mate or guayusa teas.
About halfway through the second week, I was feeling stuck. I wasn't sure where I was headed. In short, I didn't have anywhere to go. That worked for the first half, because I was still setting up the story in many ways and introducing the characters and their personalities, but I realized I had only given myself three protagonists to voice. What would I do with the fourth part?

Eventually it occurred to me that I could change the format of the fourth part a little bit. I could have letter and response, where in parts 1-3 you would only ever see the letter side. Parts 1-3 would each be told through a different protagonist's letters. Part 4 would be told through letters between the characters.

Great! That gave me a a direction to head toward, but I was still missing something to drive the story. I was still missing a climax, an ending, a goal. Unless I wanted to ramble myself into a postmodern stupor, I would need a reason.

And then it hit me. It was the form of the story that gave me the idea. What if Part 4 was only letters between two of my protagonists, potentially about the third? And if I'm showing them interacting, what could happen that would be big enough to make them talk about the third protagonist?

I had a cold feeling in my stomach.

I needed to kill one of my protagonists.

Obviously I didn't need to. I could very well have gone in a completely different direction and created some other kind of resolution, but this way just felt right. Whether I had intended to or not, I had already planted the seeds for my character's death. I had given him strong reasons to live and in taking those reasons away, I could push him to his death.

I didn't like it. In fact, as I was writing, I hated myself for it. I felt bad for this character I had created, knowing that everything he loved and cared about would be systematically removed until he felt like his only option was suicide. That's the worst part. I was making him take his own life.

But much as I hated it, it felt right. It felt like it needed to happen and I could still turn the story around in Part 4. His death wouldn't be completely in vain.

I felt consumed by this story, forcing myself to write as much as I could every night on top of all my day to day responsibilities.

And I'm sure there are plot holes, continuity issues and generally huge sections of just plain bad writing, because a lot of this process wasn't always about crafting perfect sentences. It was about laying the groundwork so I could edit and add enough that perfection that I could be happy with it. It was about winning the competition of me vs. the word count.

My boyfriend was the incentive I needed to start. The incentive I needed to finish was starting in the first place because I'm too damn stubborn to let myself give up.

Some of my favorite lines from Week 4 of writing:
At least once a week I get someone in here that calls it an “I-talian.” I’m like, no dumbass, do you call it “I-taly?” No, you don’t because you would look like an idiot, but the customer is always right so I just have to bite my tongue and ask if they’d like mayonnaise on it, all the time secretly hoping they tip me well and if they don’t tip at all, wish that the mayo gives them a heart attack.
Hafiz and Rumi? What is it with your aunt and naming pets after dead poets? Has she ever had a parrot named Poe? A hamster named Shakespeare? It’s cute and I guess at the very least it proves her to be well read.   
Jake is a crazy-ass motherfucker. He doesn’t know a thing, but thinks he’s right about everything. He’s stubborn as all hell. I think I’m in love.
Thank you to everyone who has supported me. To the people I know only through the internet sending me encouragement every time I posted about my word count. To the people working on their own NaNoWriMo projects at the same time. To all the friends curious about what NaNoWriMo even is. To my roommates for being understanding about me locking myself in my room every night for a month being up until 2am. To Ethan for giving me the push I needed to start. I might have been able to do this without you, but it would have sucked a whole hell of a lot more.

To any of my friends out there who might have wanted to read my NaNo Project, here's a link. This is the version I will be doing my primary editing on, so if you feel so inclined, use the comment feature to leave me feedback! Consider adding it to your winter break reading list.

Handwritten: A Novel in Letters

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

How Social Media Affects our Education

So after reading this Chronicle post via tumblr, I started thinking about social networks and the classroom experience.

There’s all this emphasis on having your own blog, Tumblr, Twitter, Facebook, but what about the skill it takes to read and listen to those things?” he said. “For all the technophilic love given to networked communication and peer-to-peer learning, it’s not the best educational mode—there’s something about linearity and dialogue that works better than the chaos you saw today.

I think part of the inherent breakdown within the discussion this article talks about is partly the medium, and partly the education of consciousness and interaction with networked modes of communication.

Regarding the medium: Twitter is not the best venue for these kinds of discussions. There is an internal lack of stability that does not allow for a consistent and organizable flow of conversation. True, it has gotten better over the years, but a nested timeline like the Plurk interface where each update is its own dropdown conversation, and tangential threads can easily be removed to their own thread

or even a shared document like in a Google Doc would better allow for a discussion because different subjects could be fleshed out and, more importantly, contained. The form of the website itself dictates, in part, the way we interact with it just like a film is different from a book even if they have the same story.

As packets of information, tweets are not an effective tool. Using them for discussion is similar to reading a play by Shakespeare but only reading one couplet at a time with significant pauses in between.

It also seems a mistake to have everyone in the same room tweeting at the screens in front of them. It helps keep the conversation on track, yes, but it also creates an environment of enforced silence where the only expression of ideas is through the screen, through twitter. Why not let everyone go home and sit in their pajamas to tweet? They may be distracted by other things, but the comfort factor can easily help relieve the stress of using the Twitter platform for discussion.

Regarding consciousness: Just like with any other skill, it takes practice to master communication through a social media platform. Some of us are better equipped than others to the demands of digitized communication. I for example can run two small blogs, a tumblr, personal Facebook page with two shared pages through work, multiple emails, a plurk account, a twitter account all with some degree of success in part because I know how to focus and refocus my attention and can conceptualize the ways in which my multiple online presences interact with each other, with my audiences, and with how much attention I give them.

This is a learned skill.


One that with developments in technology we are learning at earlier and earlier ages.

If I may use another analogy, some people can only text one person at a time (and even then are pisspoor at following through)
Google Gooeys on texting
 While other people can juggle several conversations at once without feeling overwhelmed.

Using social media at the level necessary to promote meaningful discussion requires a base understanding of not only the dynamics of the social media, but also people. If I flood someone's feed (be it twitter, or otherwise), there is no chance for response. Conversely if I do not update enough, my input is not contributing.

Digital and social media will never surpass the linear flow of a classroom discussion for direct transfer of information, but they have other benefits.

There is a record of the conversation being had that can be referenced repeatedly. You don't have to be there to take part. Linking and further networking provide opportunity and access to further information (outside articles, et. cetera). Digital communication and social media are vaguely atemporal in that they do not require a strict linear progression of information. You can revist, add to, or critique any point of a conversation at any point. The text (as most concrete signifiers of communication) is malleable and moveable in ways that verbal conversations aren't.

For example, for a group project in a class I took my freshmen year of college, we created a Facebook group that surprisingly still exists. Utilizing the social media as a tool, we were able to have meaningful discussion, in part because we chose a format that was most meaningful and helpful to our needs.

Twitter can never be that because it is too disorganized and too short. Tumblr because it removes length constraints has some options that make it more useful than Twitter, but the interface is still missing the traceable cohesion required for meaningful communication. I think that plurk has a better interface, but suffers some of the same limitations as twitter for size of posts. Things like Google Docs (or the now defunct Google Wave) offer probably the best option, but are also more unwieldy and disorienting as a shared experience.

In short, I think the classroom experiment as described in the article fails not on a why, but on a how.

A Second NaNoWriMo update!

I fell behind in my writing last week and am struggling to catch up, but I'm past the halfway point. I have the long Thanksgiving break to get some work done, so I hope to get well ahead in the next few days.

Ethan has since dropped out, deciding that while the NaNoWriMo process is cool and definitely an amazing cultural and social experience, it's not his way of writing. I respect that and am still sending... encouragement from time to time. I on the other hand have reached the point of obstinate. Having started and made it past the halfway point I am more determined than ever to finish successfully. The process has become a challenge for me, and I will win, encouragement from other people or no.

The farther I get into this, the more I'm realizing that the characters and the story have a life of their own to me. Sometime in the next week I'm going to write the suicide of one of my characters. It makes me terribly sad because I know it has to happen and I have to put him through painful hell to get him there. The groundwork is being laid and at this point there is no alternative. It hurts to write because he doesn't see it coming.

Anyway, some choice excerpts since my last update:
I squished a very pregnant spider today. Felt bad about it despite the utter hideousness of the thing. I tried to warn it and shoo it toward the window, but it wouldn’t listen to me, so it had to die. It was that or burn the building down and I rather like where I live.
Anyway, food. I made it. People love me and unanimously voted me queen of the dorm and are officially starting a petition to secede from the University so we can operate under a benign monarchy with me as its head. It’s good to be queen. Maybe as a queen I can have tea with Elizabeth II. That would be amazing.
As you can see, Myra has quite the voice. She's not bossy so much as occasionally demanding.

Adrian on the other hand seems a bit more subdued.
It started to snow last night and did not let up until early this morning. I awoke to the most amazingly tranquil and breathtaking scene outside my window. I wanted so badly to capture it with my pen, but as with many things that are this beautiful, it was fleeting. Like a spring butterfly it alighted upon my nose and was gone as I stood there blinking. Jonathan and Eleanor and a few of the neighbor kids were out the door and frolicking in the powder before I was properly awake. The curse of being a teenager, I suppose, our bodies are a war zone of biological weapons priming and immunizing us for adulthood, we need all the rest we can get and yet give ourselves very little.
 We'll see where this goes from here.
 

Saturday, November 10, 2012

A NaNoWriMo Update

As some of you may know, I'm participating in NaNoWriMo this month because Ethan... convinced me to.
Since we're more than a week in and I'm still only behind by about a day's worth of writing, I thought I would give you some choice sentences and phrases:
These first two are from Part 1: Letters from Mitchell
After dinner, we played a rousing game of monopoly. I was wholly unprepared for how cutthroat a game of monopoly could be.
And two:
"Alright, Mitchy-boy time for us to get intimate."
I blinked as she took a step toward me and slowly placed her hand on my chest.
“Go on the other side of that tree and clean up, you stink!”
With a shove, she turned me around and pushed me toward a tree that grew right at the water’s edge.
This last one is from Part 2: Letters from Myra
[My roommate] was known as the Barbezonian on her roller derby team, a flailing whirlwind of pink death.
The more I write, the more I'm starting to wonder about Myra.

Friday, October 19, 2012

What Song Would You Choose?

For the past two years, I've been working on this playlist I'm calling "Anthems From the Collective." It's a playlist filled with songs that other people (the collective) can't let go or keep coming back to in some way because they're meaningful or powerful on a level you can't always explain.

I got the idea after a summer camp, when at a circle ceremony a youth sang along to Carolina Liar's "Beautiful World" playing through an iPod. And the way he moved, you could tell the song resonated with him.


So far as I know this was a first time anyone had done anything quite like that in a Heart Circle ceremony. Usually people just sing a song or have the group sing for them.

Well this got me thinking, as unusual events are wont to do, about my own music. What songs resonate with me in that way?

I actually came up with two for very different reasons: "Mr. Tinman" by a local college band, Lamppost Revival, and "Sunrise" by Norah Jones. The first called to me even before I new anything about it. I had an English class with the lead singer and we became Facebook friends, and one day he posted a link  to a music video:



I knew I was hooked. To me this song is feeling lost and inbetween, but still going forward. It shook me and for reasons I can't explain in words became an instant favorite.

"Sunrise" has always been my morning song, my rainy day song, my you need something to calm yourself down song. It's the song that I subconsciously start singing when I'm having a day that feels particularly deep.

So I collected these three songs, and started a playlist. I started asking other people the same question I'm asking you now: What songs resonate with you?

Monday, October 15, 2012

Dai Stiho Friend

So I've been following Diane Duane on tumblr ever since I realized she had a tumblr account. (You should go follow her here, she posts some pretty amazing things.)

Someone else had reblogged something and that made me search the Young Wizards tag and it's like I was that unabashedly awkward teenager again, the one who was not ashamed (and to be very honest still isn't, but lacks time) to devour entire series of books in a matter of days. And I thought to myself, how could I ever forget this?

But the thing is, I hadn't forgotten, not really. I'd just absorbed it, incorporated it into my everyday life so that it was like a tattoo imprinted on my mind and never looked at. I realized this as I was out for a jog and as I passed a cat I said "Dai Stiho Friend." I've been doing this for years, long before I even knew what tumblr was.

For those of you who haven't read the books, cat-wizards work as gatekeepers in the books, they run the wizarding equivalent to Grand Central Station on earth (if I recall, in Grand Central Station) between worlds. "Dai Stiho" is a form of greeting in the wizarding language.

So let's call this a Diane Duane appreciation post. You've helped create something that has, for many of us as young readers, become part of who we are. Thank you.

[edit]
Post, OVER. Author read and liked it!


Monday, October 1, 2012

A Short, Informal Treatise on the Keratin Sprouting from my Scalp



I know I've shared this video before. If not on this blog, then through other social media. It's fairly well known as a viral video. A cute little girl standing on a bathroom sink affirming all the things she loves about herself and her life. I've watched it enough times that I've memorized it and trust me, if I could, I would stand on my bathroom sink and proclaim the same.

I'm not a four year-old though and my current housing situation doesn't really have counter space in the bathroom. So I'll blog something I love about myself instead: I love my hair! I love my haircuts!

Seriously.

I love my hair.

I don't think I put that much effort into my hair. Half the time I'm rocking the day-old-gel look (except I don't use gel, I use this or this), but it looks good on me and fits my personality.

I've been cutting my own hair for almost three years now, five if you count having my friends in the dorms cut it for me, and given the versatility of my 'do, I think I do a pretty good job.

I can put it up:
Or I can fold it over:

I've even shaved it a few times:

It feels like I've both come a long way and come full circle from the days when my mom would drive all the way up to Seattle to have Grandma Sy cut my hair at her salon for free. Please don't turn over in your urn, obaa-chan, but I think I do a better job, even if I am forced to trimming an entire side of my head blind since no matter where I place the mirrors I still can't see the back of my head.

I'm also a little proud of the fact that I'm graying at 23. Not in distinct patches the way a lot of people do, but kind of mottled all over. It started around the 6th grade and has continued ever since. People occasionally ask me if it's stress when they first notice, but I'm pretty sure it's just genetic. I don't ever plan on dying my hair. I don't need to.

Hair is a fairly superficial thing to be proud of, but my body is my temple and sometimes the roof needs new shingles to stay in proper working order.

If you were to pull a line from Jessica's Daily Affirmation, what would you be proud of?

Friday, September 28, 2012

Cognitive Dissonance and the Dual Life of Danny; or Facing a Privilege of Knowledge

As most of you know by now, I'm an English Lit/Kinesiology double major. A lot of you also probably know that I consider myself a heArtist, an activist from the heart, with a decent working knowledge of gender/queer/racial theory and praxis.

I often find I introduce myself with: "and I prefer he/him/his or they/them/theirs pronouns."

I question the use of race and ethnicity in any kind of survey format.

I cringe when someone uses "sex" and "gender" interchangeably.

Rather than calling myself a feminist, I say that I work on feminist projects because I think that with many of the postmodern influences within contemporary, third-wave feminism it's very hard to "be a feminist."

In short, I'm a bit of a queer who questions institutionalized systems, even those bureaucracies that I work for.

Being a Kinesiology major then has proven somewhat ironic at times as I constantly feel as if I have to question authority and what I'm learning. Kinesiology as a generally health-related field is biased against me in many ways. I'm generalizing, but it in part instills the kind of institutional behaviors and thought processes that I spend most of the rest of my time fighting to educate people about.

Let me give an example: most of my kinese-peers are fairly athletic, or at least active. We're constantly studying the human body, how it works, how to make using it more efficient, how to fix it when something goes wrong. So it wouldn't be uncommon to hear someone make a comment about a person needing to find the right diet/exercise program to lose weight and be happy. While it is true that changes to behavior can lead to changes in mood, the assumption that they have to happen in order to be happy is fat-shaming. But in many ways it's built into our field of study because from a clinical perspective to be obese is something that needs to be fixed.

I'm always working to be very careful to frame my arguments in ways that are sensitive to people of different body types and even catch myself before I outright agree with any claim that would denigrate another person's body. But the bias is there. It infuriates me when people don't take care of their bodies, when they are lazy and inactive and only eat junk and then complain about feeling like shit.

I constantly have to remind myself though that there are institutional pressures that affect these kinds of things in so many ways. Race, class, geographic location, education, all these areas I experience as privilege allow me the time to eat pretty damn well and make the free time to work out, part of privilege is access.

Talking with a friend before class the other today I had to explain what asexuality is and how it's different from most people's colloquial conception of it, and while he was open to the concept it was so foreign to him that he barely had words to respond to me. Part of privilege is being so normal the sometimes if you're outside of that normal there aren't even words for you.

This is the field I'm going into right now.

And I recognize that I will face similar conversations and thoughts in any field I go into. The fact that the discourse of the field itself is often part of the problem drives me crazy though, just a little, because it often marginalizes or erases any recognition of the kinds of privileges and oppressions concurrently at work in favor of the stripped-down facts.

How do I do this without removing the humanity?

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Imposter and the Problem of Self-realization; or Oh Gods He's Blogging About Class Again

My first assignment in Eng 423 is to read the short story Imposter by Philip K. Dick. I will admit that the first thing I did upon learning the premise of the story was to skip to the end to find out what happens. There's very little in the way of spoilers to me since half the time a classmate or professor will spill the beans anyway, plus the story is only 14 pages long in the anthology we're reading. So consider this a spoiler warning if you care.

What strikes me about the ending is not the fact that Olham is actually the Outspace robot carrying a bomb, but rather the dissonance within the assumed knowledge that the detonation sequence for the U-Bomb would be in a spoken phrase. The last lines:

"But if that's Olham, then I must be -"
He did not complete the sentence, only the first phrase. The blast was visible all the way to Alpha Centauri. [emphasis mine] 

The implication of this penultimate sentence being that the phrase "But if that's Olham" is the trigger. Let's pause for a moment. The trigger (if indeed it was a spoken phrase), is a fairly innocuous utterance premised on a non-knowledge that Olham is not the real Olham but a robot impersonating him. Destruction hinges on the uncovering of knowledge and a verbal recognition of the deceit. The Outspacers were counting on the Earthlings to discover their ruse.

Had the authorities completely ignored the threat, the chances of that particular phrase being uttered are reduced to the level of turning Olham's life into a situational comedy where hijinks ensue. 

What's more, because of the particular ways in which Olham replicates the mind of Olham-prime, the robot was completely equipped to continue with the "Project" and ultimately be the doom of the Outspacers. 

Fundamentally then, it is the self-actualization of Olham as the robot that destroys humanity. Like a child who looks in the mirror and for the first time connects that what he is seeing is actually himself, once Olham sees the body he gives up the illusion that he is the human Olham, and then he explodes. The suggestion is that it is our humanity that destroys us, the constant yearning for knowledge and the "real" undoes us, especially when we are faced with the metaphysical realization that what we know as real isn't real at all. Once we're adrift from this basis, once we're destabilized, we are no more. It isn't just Olham who is destroyed, but given a blast "visible all the way to Alpha Centauri" the entirety of the solar system is gone.

To summarize, I'm really excited about this class.

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Abarat: Absolute Midnight, or Why I Think Somebody Needs to get Candy Quackenbush a Sandwich

So I just finished reading Abarat: Absolute Midnight.

Without giving too many spoilers, I just wanted to ask what exactly does Candy Quackenbush run on?

Examples:

  • While Candy is depicted sleeping twice in the entire book, both times she's dream traveling. Not very restful.
  • Multiple times she has her life force, her very essence, drained from her body. Then while she's one step from dead, forces herself to run away, despite any pain or discomfort or physical reliability left in her body from the stress.
  • She does not eat. Food is talked about a few times, and the group that Candy is with even eats ("As Eddie paid for Betty's meal, Candy searched her pockets. She had two patterzem and some change." - Chapter 33) but before Candy herself puts any food in her mouth she's distracted looking for Malingo, meets an old acquaintance and the whole group decides it's time to run for their life.
Given this, my only possible conclusion is that Candy is solely sustained by magic throughout the book. That or the blatant Christ-figure references are to be deduced that she is a God and therefore does not actually need sustenance.

Saturday, September 1, 2012

Lavender Rosemary French Bread by Danny


Since Larkin, Rachel and Jacob all requested I share my secrets, I thought I would post the recipe to my blog. This is a recipe I modded off of a fairly simple French bread recipe I found online. I've made it enough times that I rarely measure my ingredients very accurately. I'll update this post with pictures when I'm done.

Ingredients:
1 packet yeast (or a good spoon-sized scoop)
a generous pinch of sugar
1 1/2 cup warm water

~4 cups all-purpose flour
1 Tbsp butter or vegan butter substitute
~1 Tbsp fresh/dried rosemary
~1 Tbsp fresh/dried lavender
~1/2 cup vegetable or olive oil
extra flour for hands/work surface/whatever you use as a rolling pin

1/4 cup oats or cornmeal
coarse sea salt
1 cup water

Utensils:
large mixing bowl
measuring cups/spoons
rolling pin
baking sheet
sharp knife
pastry brush (though you can use your fingers)
small oven-safe bowl
bread knife
Directions:
  •  Prep the yeast by mixing it with sugar and warm water in a large mixing bowl until dissolved and let sit for 10-20 minutes
  • Once yeast is prepped, add butter, flour, rosemary, lavender. Mix until it starts to clump into a ball. Let rest for about ten minutes.
  • Lightly flour your hands and the work surface.
  • Dump the dough onto the work surface and knead for about ten minutes. If the dough sticks to your hands too much, heavily flour your hands. 
    • It should be fairly sticky for the first few minutes but as you knead it will eventually become a nice ball that sticks to your hand when you touch it but doesn't leave any dough on your hands. Add pinches of flour to your hands, the dough or the work surface as necessary if it's too sticky.
    • If the dough is too hard and looks dry instead of kind of elastic, add water 1/2 a teaspoon at a time as you knead until it reaches an appropriate consistency
  • Set the dough aside. Wash and dry your large mixing bowl (or use a different mixing bowl, I just like fewer dishes). Add the oil to the bowl and roll your ball of dough around in it. Let rise in bowl, covered, in a warm place until doubled (about two hours).
  • Go do something else. Read a book, watch an episode of some television show, do homework, write a blog post explaining to people how to make bread, make juggling balls, just leave the bread alone while it's rising.
  • Spread oats or cornmeal out on the baking sheet
  • Check your bread, is it risen? Good. Punch it down and cut it in half, trying to leave as much of the oil in the bowl as you can (you might want it for later).
  • On a lightly floured surface roll out half of the dough into a good sized rectangle, about the length of your baking sheet.
  • Tightly roll the rectangle of dough into a solid tube. It should start to look like a loaf of bread. If the ends are little messy or the edge kind of unfolds, just dip a fingertip in that cup of water, wet it and then squish it together until the dough holds.
  • Place the loaf on the baking sheet and repeat with other half of the dough.
  • There are a couple different ways you can do this next step. For this recipe I like to use the sharp knife to cut a line a good half inch deep the length of the loaf, but you can also cut three or four diagonal slashes or cut Xs. Get creative!
  • Let the bread rise for about an hour.  Preheat the oven to 400*F 
  • Go do something else. Read a book, finish that episode of some television show you started earlier, do homework, write a blog post explaining to people how to make bread, just try to leave the bread alone while it's rising.
  • Using the pastry brush or fingertips, lightly brush the loaves with water (or some of that leftover oil) until they have just enough of a coating that you can sprinkle the sea salt over them and it will stick.
  • Lightly sprinkle sea salt over the loaves.
  • Dump half the cup of water in the bottom of your preheated oven (careful of steam!), place the rest in a small, oven-safe bowl on the lowest rack. The steam you're creating here helps give the bread a nice crust and means you won't have to brush it with egg or anything.
  • Bake the loaves for about 40 minutes on middle rack.
  • Remove from oven when crust is a nice golden brown.
  • Let cool (or don't, but don't say I didn't warn you it can burn), slice, serve, and enjoy!
Sorry if the directions were a bit much, but I was trying to be more detailed than most recipes I see online. You can easily modify this recipe. Leaving out the lavender, rosemary and sea salt gives you a plain french bread. You can also form your loaves differently. One time I cut the dough into six balls and made them that way instead of standard loaves. 

Friday, August 24, 2012

This is why I can't watch movies by myself

I made fry bread with dinner the other day.

I had been watching The Immaculate Conception of Little Dizzle on Netflix, a comedy about a computer engineer who goes ape-shit and is fired from his job and then becomes a janitor wherein he is used as part of an experimental testing group through cookies.

Then I got hungry and I decided that after tasting the wonder that is fry bread, I would attempt to make my own.

Using this recipethis recipethis recipe, and this bit of a recipe:

2 cups flour, 1 cup milk, 1 tbsp baking powder, 1 tsp salt


I ended up with this final product.


They're little denser than I meant them to be, so I know less kneading involved next time. But it was still delicious and worth it!

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

The Violence of Voice

Having just gotten home from a Power of Hope summer camp, I'm feeling extra sensitive to ideas of power, privilege and voice. Which got me thinking today about the power of voice, both metaphorically and literally.

I saw a friend crossing the street as I was walking home from coffee downtown. Upon hearing me, he turned like he'd been hit by a bullet. This is a fairly innocuous example, and I'm sure hearing his name while wearing headphones in and thus being audio-directionally challenged probably had more to do with his reaction than my voice, but having seen these kinds of reactions before, I can't help but imagine there must be some kind of power to our voices.

In the same way that silence can be suffocating and confining, voice and the release of sound can be uplifting. So many of us find release, find catharsis in music because it fills the silence.

I've been told that I sound different when I yell. My voice is a little deeper, a little bit more what people would traditionally call masculine, a little harsher. I think it's the volume and the fact that when I yell it's more what people would call barking.

The point I think I'm trying to get at (if I have one) is that when my voice changes like that it's effective. It gains a kind of violence and power that's physical. Here, a few videos to help explain:

Or if the Ted Talk is too long:



Or as another visual example:



These are fancy scientific devices that use physical principles of human anatomy, but at the same time, our voices can achieve much the same effect in a way that these devices cannot, our voices can communicate the violence of emotion. Often I find myself flinching at the sound of anger or leaning into the sound of earnest excitement.
Our voices have real power over those who listen. They create and enrapture. They destroy and reduce. It's a responsibility when we use it, so use it wisely. Think before you say.

Sunday, July 29, 2012

Buffet; or Why Danny Can't Overeat

So I recently went to the Golden Corral location in Marysville.

Needless to say I was somewhat horrified and even a little disgusted. Not because of the Golden Corral chain, mind. They provided excellent service and given the high volume of customers at the time, I can find no fault in their food outside of the fact that it is a buffet.

In my opinion, the food was bland, overcooked, drowned in fat, and grossly over salted. The patrons, bless their hard-working hearts, were for the most part grossly overweight or too young to have put on the pounds yet.

I felt traumatized by the experience because sometimes, less is more, and the culture that I've cultivated around myself here in Bellingham is not particularly one of excess. As a college student in the United States, it's by no means poor, but it's not overindulgence, not gluttony.

When we first sat down, I felt markedly out of place for immediately making a beeline for the salad. There was no line. I was the only person getting food from the salad section for at least ten minutes. I could have been happy with simple spring greens and a little fruit and nuts and cheese and a few small pieces of chicken breast meat. That was just enough to constitute a satisfying, if small, meal.

Buffets are the epitome of Americana in that they promote a lifestyle of too much the same way Wal-Mart does. They target themselves at the lower classes, promoting "low prices" while gunning for profits. They're effective at this in that they can create appeal, and in ways there's often no choice or no alternative.

I'm blessed to be in a situation where I have options and to have the education to see the larger systems at work. They make me uncomfortable.

The Postcard Poems


So I'm working on this series of poems I'm calling the Postcard Poems.

So far they're mostly silly little love poems for my boyfran with no particular significance to anyone else. But I'm putting them on postcards and sending them to him. Some of them have custom, one of a kind art by me. Some of them will be on postcards I found in a shoebox at one of the local used bookstores. Some of them will be blank except for the writing.

I guess, think of it like a kind of extended letter.

At the same time though, much as I love my boyfriend, I don't want to limit myself to subjects of love, cuddling, sex, the future, empty beds, and film studies and literary theory (common interests and you can only talk about love/sex so much).

Which means I need to send more postcards. 

Which means I need to write more poetry to put on postcards.

Which means I need more subjects and ideas to focus on.

Let me put this another way:

Hey, I think I know you.
And this is crazy.
But message me your address.
And get a postcard maybe.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

"The 50 Shades Of Grey Effect"


This post is a response to the Huffington Post article, The 50 Shades Of Grey Effect: Jane Eyre, Pride And Prejudice And Sherlock Holmes To Be Republished With 'Explosive Sex Scenes'.

I have three main points against this idea.

1) Isn't this what fan fiction was created for?
Other titles to be published under the Clandestine Classics collection include Austen'sNorthanger Abbey and Arthur Conan Doyle's stories featuring Sherlock Holmes.
Now, call me ignorant, but I've been on Tumblr frequently enough to know that with advent BBC's Sherlock there's enough people with OTP's of Sherlock and Watson that anything Clandestine Classics comes up with will have been done five different ways already.

For another title to be -- uh, repurposed like this, Twenty Thousand Leagues Under The Sea, I wonder if they'll also keep the giant lists of scientific names of sea creatures that Jules Verne was fond of including amidst the adventures on the Nautilus. And if so, can someone please insert one of the sex scenes inside one of these sections?



2) The sex is already there.

"[W]e want to enhance the novels by adding the 'missing' scenes for readers to enjoy."

I'm sorry, but they can't be missing if they were never there to begin with. Part of the beauty of so many of these classics is the way the culture and society that shaped the writer affected the writing. They weren't from a time or place that allowed for this kind of blatant sexuality so they used metaphor to disguise the acts within the writing. The sex is already there people.


3) If we're going to do this anyway, I vote combine this with with the the zombie editions by Quirk Classics.

Imagine it: Pride and Prejudice and Damn Sexy Zombies.

I'm just throwing ideas out here.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

That one time I had a song written about me.

Spring Quarter 2010 Sophomore Year of College

He was kind of tall. Almost gangly, but you wouldn't know it for the way he stooped and hid behind the shyness of his voice. We'd had a class together the previous quarter, Parasites, but nobody knew he was there. He was a guest with a host, a ghost.

Maybe three of us in the entire class noticed him in the back corner. Even for the online assignments on a social networking site called plurk, he was scarce. His posts, few and far between as they were, were regularly and systematically erased because the most successful parasite (or houseguest) leaves its host with no traces that it was there.

I was drawn to him. I could feel the red thread of fate unraveling the slack necessary to pull us together. 

So I crossed the gap. I read and commented on his posts. I made eye contact as direct eye contact as I could when he walked past. I invited him to share a meal with me.

"So I ate beside [Teddy] today. He's a quiet, awkward soul and underestimates the power he has within himself. I'm so drawn to that. He offered to teach me guitar, but then immediately said he wasn't very good. I asked, and he's played for 10 years."  - Excerpt from personal journal, March 10, 2010

I suppose it helped that at the time he was hopelessly infatuated with one of the two other people in class who'd taken the time and energy to notice him, my friend Kai. We went together to watch her perform at the Naked Truth on Stereotypes.

We got to know each other. We became friends.

When he graduated after winter quarter, I stopped seeing him as much. He was still in town but lived far beyond even my walking prowess. Still, we kept in touch; exchanging emails and continuing an impossibly long conversation thread on plurk.

Late in March, he sent me an mp3 file via email. There was no caption, no commentary. The only way it related to the conversation we'd been having was that at the time I had just started an Independent Study Project (blogged about and mostly contained here) on a postmodern examination of music and society. Just 912 kilobytes, the song was a cover of "Holland, 1945" by Neutral Milk Hotel.



The quality was crap, recorded with a webcam on a shitty computer. But despite that, it was beautiful and powerful. It bit more low key and folksy single-man-with-guitar than the original.

"You have a completely different kind of energy when you're singing than you do talking in person. The closest I can think of to describe it is to compare it to the feeling I get when I'm dancing. Everything else drops away. There's just me and the music and - and it's like making love, by which I mean creating love. I dunno, it's not really something you can put into words. If you have any other music recorded and feel so willing, I would love to hear it." -Excerpt from personal correspondence March 22, 2010
 This was soon followed by two songs he'd written for past loves, a cover of Daniel Johnston and a song he wrote for/about me.



Three minutes fourteen seconds about me dancing.
Danny you dance all through the room.
Danny you dance like nobody's looking at you
And it's beautiful. And it's beautiful.
And it's beautiful.
Danny your hands move where you want them to
Danny you know this what all of us want to do
Because it's beautiful. Because it's beautiful.
Because it's beautiful.
Though it's beautiful.
Though it's beautiful.
It's beautiful.
The lyrics are so simple and drawn out so much in the song. I listen to this, and I want to live up to it. I want to be that beautiful by forgetting about the world for just a few minutes and dancing.

In a later email he told me how I was one of the only friends he'd made in college, which I found sad and beautiful at the same time.

***

We still talk occasionally. Exchanging emails and catching up. About two months ago, I joined him in partaking of conveyor sushi with his girlfriend. We don't talk as often as we should and if he got that job in Portland is now quite a bit less easier for me to find than when he was in Bellingham. 

At the idea of him writing a song about me I'm touched and a mite flabbergasted. It seems... strange somehow to realize yourself as a muse, as inspiration, the uncanny feeling of a writer being written about.

You can listen to the song on my tumblr: http://acelessthan3.tumblr.com/post/27448822390

Friday, July 6, 2012

Let's play a game!

Let's play a game!

Here are the rules:

I'm going to give you a fragment of poetry and your job is to guess whether it's a translation of Rumi (Fourteenth century Sufi poet from Persia) or from Billy Collins (2001-2003 US Poet Laureate) without using the internet.

1)
When I am with you, we stay up all night.
When you are not here, I cannot go to sleep.
Praise God for these two insomnias!
And the difference between them.

2)
After I had beaten my sword into a ploughshare,
I beat my ploughshare into a hoe,
then beat the hoe into a fork,
which I used to eat my dinner alone.

3)
I want to carry you
and for you to carry me
the way voices are said to carry over water

4)
In your light I learn how to love.
In your beauty, how to make poems.
You dance inside my chest,
where no one sees you,
but sometimes I do,
and that sight becomes this art.

Translations/interpretations of Rumi come from Coleman Barks's Rumi: The Book of Love. The fragments of poetry from Billy Collins come from the collection The Trouble with Poetry and Other Poems. I recently came across these two books while staying at a friend's place in Port Orchard.

Monday, July 2, 2012

The Fairy Tale Sermons: Hermes

I've had most of this particular story written out for over a year now, waiting for the right moment to post it. Given the liminal nature of Hermes, I think posting right as I'm on the verge of moving seems wholly appropriate.

I appeal to the Muses to grant me the eloquence to tell this story true. Do you know the tale of Hermes? In Greek mythology, he was messenger of the gods. With his winged sandals, he was quite literally light on his feet, flying between the heavenly Olympus and the mortal realm below. But if he was quick on his feet, he was quicker with his wits.

There's a story that says he was no more than a few hours old when he snuck out of his cradle and into the pastures where the sun god Apollo kept his cattle. Using a tree branch to cover their tracks, he led the entire herd to a field way up in the mountains.

Now, as you can imagine, Apollo wasn't very happy when, on a break from his godly duties, he checked on his herd to find them all gone with not a trace of where they went. But Apollo was a prescient god, with the power of premonition, able to see things most people couldn't and he knew that Hermes had something to do with his cattle's disappearance. So, with all the wrath of a raging god, he burst into the nursery, demanding the return of his herd.

Ah, but the sly Hermes was prepared for Apollo's eventual arrival.

“What do you mean return your cattle,” he said, “I'm but a newborn babe. How could I steal them?”

Apollo would have none of this.

“I know you have them. Return my herds at once!” thundered the angry Apollo.

“But sweet Apollo, where could I hide all your cattle? Here in my crib? The thought alone is preposterous.”

Undeterred, Apollo replied, “Fine, if you shall not admit to thieving what is rightfully mine, we will have to take this matter before Father Zeus.”

He seized the infant Hermes and carried him all the way before the throne of Zeus, king of the gods.

“Father, this rogue child has made off with my prized cattle and refuses to return to me what is mine!”

Turning to the young child, Zeus asked, “Did you steal Apollo's herd?”

“I do not have Apollo's cattle, oh wise and mighty Zeus, though even in what short time I have been on this earth I have heard of the wondrous size and strength that befits the property of one as glorious as Lord Apollo. I am but a newborn babe, how could I steal from one so honored as he?”

Said Zeus, “You may be but a babe, but never were you innocent, Hermes. Apollo, I am sorry but if you have no further proof beyond your word against his, then I cannot take any further action.”

Just as Apollo began to protest, he stopped and stared at Hermes.

“What is that you have in your hands?”

Hermes held up the instrument in his hands. It was a tortoise shell with strings threaded across its length. He'd been fiddling with it on the floor during the discussion.

“I call it a lyre.”

“Lord Zeus, I will forgive him his trespass and let all be settled with regards to the circumstances of the disappearance of my herd if he gives me this lyre.”

Zeus turned to Hermes.

“Do you assent to this, child?”

“I do.”

The lyre came to be a prominent symbol and representation of Apollo as a god of music.

Hermes, in addition to his roles as messenger of the gods and psychopomp, became patron god of merchants and thieves, of inventors and travelers.

The lesson here is not one against stealing, because Hermes is very clearly rewarded for his trickery.

Instead, this tale suggests acceptance. Not of unacceptable deeds, and I'm very careful here not to use the term bad as a value statement on the act (the taking of another's property without permission) because this narrative has played out many times in reality with no consequence and few if any of us call these actions bad. Colonization is a good example.

No, the acceptance I speak of is an acceptance of change.

Heraclitus is famously attributed as having written that the only constant is change. In this story, Hermes is a manifestation of change. As a liminal god already standing at the brink in-between lives and stories even in his origins, Hermes transitions us from one narrative to another. Quite literally in his role as psychopomp, escorting us to the underworld.

Friday, June 29, 2012

Acelessthan3: Branding

Our culture is an amalgamation of identity groups, and we the individual bearers of those seals and symbols and markers.

 The thought came to me the other night that I am branded. I am imprinted and encoded with the diverse runes and sigils of contemporary culture, the bitten apples and swooshes and golden arches simplified and amplified to the point where a passing glance is enough to embody and recreate an entire experience even if you've never partook.

In the essay Pop, Magic by comic writer, Grant Morrison, Morrison describes the sigil as “one of the most effective of all the weapons in the arsenal of any modern magician”and later talks about the viral sigil or logo, powers of intention created by corporate or cultural processes. Like Susan Blackwell's memes, they are self-replicating ideas that seem to have no traceable origin.

According to Morrison, what separates these sigils from any passing desire is the intent. Intentionality or the investment of energy maintains the magic of a sigil. By inscribing it repeatedly, forgetting the meaning and mindlessly reproducing the image of the sigil we make it happen.

So then, the genius of branding in a certain sense is the way that the corporate manages to perpetuate idea(l)s through their sigils. I'm thinking in particular of clothing.
 
In Scott Westerfeld's charming YA novel So Yesterday, Westerfeld explores ideas of marketing and fashion and what exactly makes something cool. The way the protagonist, Hunter, describes his job as a “cool hunter” formats the experience into a pyramid scheme: at the top of the pyramid are the Innovators. They're the truly original people.

In the next level are the Trend Setters, they see the Innovators and adopt and create trends based on what they see. They're the reviewers and managers who disseminate the idea. Directly below them are the Early Adopters, the first wave of people who hear about a trend and incorporate it. They're the reason it becomes big enough to receive the kind of placement that gets the attention of the next level: the Consumers.

Interesting and hipster as it is, I'm going to ignore the Laggards and the Jammers and the rest of the pyramid in favor of focusing on another concept that gets brought up in the opening of the novel, that of the Logo Exile, or as I would describe it branding incognito. Essentially it's corporate namelessness: the active removal of branding and logos from attire.

I bring this up in relation to Morrison's writing because there's a different kind of power inherent in namelessness. With intention, it is a subversion and reaction to the sigil power of corporate branding, of the logo. Comparatively it carries a fairly minimal impact. Within corporate, capitalist culture, we are barely teeth on the cogs and wheels of the great profit machine.

But while there may be minimal social impact, the personal impact of adopting Logo Exilism is both easier and more difficult than one might expect. Many clothes, especially basic layers, only contain some kind of logo on the tag, which is easily removable. But even then, certain styles have become their own kind of sigil. Knee length mesh athletic shorts with high top athletic shoes = basketball for example. Or even simpler than that, most of us have learned to recognize a certain American brand of Apparel that visually displays very few signifiers.

By wearing clothes with logos, we project and broaden everything that logo represents both surface level and subconsciously.

As you would have guessed, I wonder sometimes about my personal style. I tend toward Logo Exile, seeing very little aesthetic appeal to emblazoning myself with corporate names, but I also am in process of creating my own brand with my own logo.

A<3

I've explained the meaning of this little sigil so many times I've almost forgotten what exactly it means. I can tell you where it comes from, and what the pieces mean, but not the intention behind it, which as Morrison states is key to “powering up” a sigil.

I wonder sometimes if it's things like this that make me memorable. How much does style affect and interact with our relations with people? Surface-level though they may be, the clothes make the man as the adage goes. My style, while fairly colorful and DIY, is also kind of plain if you ask me. Are all my little sigils contributing to the perceived essence that is me?

Because of the way in which intention and perception and belief play into the magic of sigils, you can't quantify it, and thus I am unable to scientifically measure one way or another how my style creates me. But it's an interesting thought.

Sunday, June 3, 2012

Recently in the Life: or One Final Procrastination

I've got a big, epic, end of the school year post that has themes and subheads and all that fancy blogg-y stuff in the works, but for now I'm doing a quick photo update of life. 

So the last few weeks have been fairly hectic. Busy in the best way possible. I don't know how I've managed to successfully juggle everything.

Looking cute at the Jeopardy Release party.
If you read my post about a month ago, you know I have a boyfriend. His name is Ethan and while I don't think either of us was expecting a relationship to end our respective senior years in college (his last, my first), we're both happy to be together. 

While we're still negotiating how we want to deal with him graduating and moving away, it's an open conversation and in the meantime, we're spending as much time as we can together until then because that's just a lot more fun than worrying about already uncertain futures. My only regret is not listening to Facebook's suggestion that we be friends a lot sooner, because I like knowing awesome people, and he's pretty damn awesome.

Former Drag Empress of the Imperial Sovereign Court of the Evergreen Empire
Shanita Blough flanked by Timbaland and Oliver Clozoff.
 On May 24, I made my debut as my official drag persona and co-emcee of the WWU Third Annual Condom Fashion Show: May DeFlowers. It was a bittersweet moment in that this event that I've put so much time and energy into was finally here! On the one hand, it would be done, I wouldn't have to think about it or stress about it or be interviewed by journalism students covering an event for their intro to news writing class. On the other hand, it would be done, no more events for this school year.

The show itself was a blast and we had a decent turnout despite a big concert being scheduled for the same night. Frustrating, but unavoidable given the circumstances.

Some of the lovely models at the CFS.

Performers, volunteers, organizers.

The models, performers, donors and beneficiaries were all amazing. And I'm so glad I got to be a part of this wonderful show. 

If you would like to see more pictures from the CFS, I have some from backstage posted to my Facebook.

Creepy hands are creepy.
 I hung out with my friends Rachel and Alaina the weekend after the show because Rachel is graduated and her lease is up, so she's moving home. As one last huzzah, we had ice cream at Mallards.

They're one of those essential stops for anyone visiting Bellingham because they're locally owned and operated, fresh, hand-crafted ice cream. These aren't the kind of flavors you get in most stores. I got a double scoop of Rhubarb ice cream with a scoop of strawberry seaberry ice.



After ice cream, I recruited Rachel to help me fashion hersheys kisses flowers for Ethan, because I'm just that kind of crafty fatherfucker who makes adorable things for his boyfriend. I made pizza and we had some fun with the extra pipe cleaners.

Since hanging out with Rachel, I don't think I've done all that much of note. It's been dead week (the week before finals), so I've been wrapped up in studying.

I started reading a chapter from Yopie Prins's Victorian Sappho on recommendation from my professor. Consecrated fecal matter do I love when I find a genuinely useful text for a paper! This book works perfectly for building on the kind of arguments I'm trying to make in my term paper for my Victorian Poetry seminar class. 

In my paper, I'm analyzing A.C. Swinburne's "Anactoria". The short version of my argument is that lyric poetry of the kind Swinburne writes creates a sense of embodiment in the reader to the point where that effect is consuming.


As part of the peer-review process of writing these term papers, we've been organized into panel discussions where we gave a brief outline of our argument and paper to the class and then received feedback and questions from the class. Our professor has been bringing hot water and tea for these panels, so for the last panel I made chocolate-coated, lavender shortbread cookies. 

Chocolate-coated lavender shortbread artfully arranged with a sliced strawberry.

I've realized that I take my confectionery skills far too seriously considering everything else I'm involved with. I've always considered myself crafty, and I guess that just translates into food as well. If I wasn't so dedicated to the bodies I love learning about, I might consider dropping out and going into food artistry.

"Saw this, thought of you :P"
Received this picture from my friend Alex this morning. He's off having adventures in NYC because... reasons? At first I was all, you saw yourself in a mirror? But then I looked at the sign behind him. I'm glad my friends think of me when they see gay stuff. I think.

Any time Alex and I hang out, we inevitably talk about bodies since he teaches martial arts and I'm studying kinesiology. He and his friend Ali joke about opening a dojo together and wanting me on board as "The Healer/Organizer." Ali is another one of those people I wish I'd met a lot sooner, from what I know of her, in personality she's somewhere between Alex and I in terms of sarcasm, organization and outlook on life. The three of us would probably make a pretty kick ass team if we don't kill each other. 

One of my favorite Seattle bands, Impossible Bird is playing in Bellingham this coming week on Wednesday. I'm excited because that's the day I'm finished with finals (except for my PE final on Thursday, which I have to show up for and look like I'm trying in order to pass). It's also the day Ethan is finished with finals and we've agreed that after yesterday we're both going to throw all our focus on finishing up the quarter strong, so Wednesday will be the day we get to hang out again.

Also, one of the band members wrote on my Facebook wall:


When one of the members of your favorite local band writes on your wall, you find a way to show up to the concert. It also shows you've probably been to far too many of their performances and are friendly enough that they don't think of you as some kind of stalker/groupie.

So yeah, that's my life recently (and upcoming). Hope you all are doing good.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

An Open Letter

To the representatives of Campus Christian Fellowship of WWU,

Today, I saw many of you wearing blue shirts that read "I'm sorry" across the front. I was tabling for an event my office is putting on this Thursday.

First and foremost, I want to say thank you. The time and energy you've taken to spread awareness about the possibility of an inclusive and loving Christian community is truly awe inspiring, and given the history of Western society, a lot of actions have been taken in the name of Christ that do not represent His teachings in a way consistent with the kind of love and acceptance he preached.

As an agnostic queer who struggles with this idea of Faith, I can appreciate the effort to make amends for a history that is tied to your most core beliefs. I want you to know that I don't hold you responsible, and I hope that the many people on this campus like me also don't hold you responsible. You are not responsible for the ills of others in the past, but it means so much that you would take on that responsibility anyway. I welcome the opportunities I've had to interact with members of your community and organization to share ideas about faith and what it means to share this earth with people of all kinds of diverse backgrounds.

In turn, I want to offer an apology for the reactionary and often harsh judgement that often arises in the communities that I come from. Just as you cannot represent all Christians, I cannot represent all queers, but this does not mean I do not see or hear the kinds of harsh judgement that get passed on all of Christianity. It does not mean I have not made those judgements in the past. From a social and cultural context, there are and have been tensions between these communities and I think any kind of reparations or restitution must begin with open dialogue. More important than any kind of history is what we do with it, how we learn from it and where we focus our work in the future.

So thank you for opening the conversation.

Sincerely,

Danny

Monday, May 21, 2012

In which Danny rambles semi-coherently.

Tonight is the AS Awards Banquet. It's a chance for all the crazy folks known as Student Employees of the Associated Students of WWU to celebrate all the hard work we've put into making this year great for all the students of Western.

It's going to be great fun.

I would rather be home working on an essay, or cuddling with my boyfriend, or as would most likely be the case, at Ritmo Latino Salsa Club dancing (it is Monday after all).

Don't get me wrong, I love recognizing people for the great work they do, and I love that our organization works to make people feel wanted and appreciated. But I don't really feel like I' ready for a banquet just yet. I have one big event on the way still: The Third Annual Condom Fashion Show. It's Thursday, and the event is kind of my baby for the school year, so I won't feel like I can truly celebrate the end of the year until it's actually over.

But rather than make this a post about how busy Danny is, because I've learned how to manage my time this year, I'm not actually as busy as I think I'm perceived to be and I know many people who are far busier than I am (busy people tend to congregate and be involved in at least one thing with each other so that we know all the other busy people).

Instead, I want to talk about stones.

I recently got a piece of amethyst when I was wandering downtown giving out donation letters.



I thought it was kind of pretty and picked it over the other pieces of amethyst.

Unless it's food, I'm not usually prone to these kind of impulse buy for myself, but I was in a store called Stone Moon and it felt right.

For the first few days that I had it, I carried it around in my pocket. I worried (2c) it in my left hand until about two days later I thought I lost it.

Did some laundry, and like magic it reappeared. I wire wrapped it and have been wearing it as a necklace ever since. I'm getting rather good at that.

Amethyst is supposed to ward off insobriety and increase psychic abilities as well as enhance dreams. I'm not completely sure how I feel about that, but it's pretty and I like wearing it.

Friday, May 11, 2012

A Well-Dressed Accordion


5/8/2012

I'm sitting in another man's bed as I write this. Not in any kind of erotic, post-carnal memoir sort of way (what do you take this for, a sex blog?), but a comfortable, hanging out kind of way, with his roommate procrastinating her homework by browsing tumblr on the other side of the room.

With everyone else I've been interested or involved with, there's been something defining that drew me to them, enough that I've been able to label them with some obscure but fitting nickname for anonymity's sake, because while this blog is personal to me, I also very much want to respect the privacy of the people I'm writing about. No matter how hard I try though, I can't come up with any kind of silly pseudonym for Ethan.

I find though that I like that.

We've been seeing each other for, gosh, a little over three weeks now, though it feels like so much longer. Buddha's shining belly, has it really been less than a month since we were first introduced?! On some level, I feel like I've known Ethan for a lot longer because I've known of him for over a year now. We have enough friends in common that Facebook, in all its nosy social media interfacing, has been suggesting him as someone I might know for months. Now that we've actually met, I'm kicking myself for not listening to it sooner.

I suppose it doesn't help that upon hearing that he and I are involved, the majority of mutual friends we have (and apparently there are quite a few of them) seem to react somewhere in a range between inarticulate excited noises that can only be described as fangirl-like squees to “Ohmygodyou'resocute!.” He and I have reached an unspoken agreement that the appropriate reaction to this phenomenon is death glares with the occasional “Shut the FUCK up” depending on who's saying it. Feeling like the center of the who's dating who rumor mill in a campus community can be exhausting, and for us at least unifying.

We met at a party the weekend after Easter that I almost didn't go to. He'd gone because of his roommate and I'd ended up going because I had made a commitment to our hostess at the Birdhouse promising her I would show up to the party.

Unsurprisingly, we were introduced in the kitchen, not because that's where the booze tends to congregate, but because at parties like this one it's the place you're most likely to be able to hold a conversation and be heard over the music/drunk people. That and I'm always drawn to kitchens,  bookshelves, or the dance floor. So when he showed up in the kitchen, I was there.

I think anyone who knew either of us at the party could see that there was something going on. Once we were introduced, I don't think we were separated once the entire night until he reluctantly left my side around two in the morning, sending me his number via his roommate. We even left the kitchen together a little later in the party, only to end up sharing a chair in the living room, casting sidelong glances at each other through our conversations with everyone around us.

I wouldn't exactly say that sparks flew when we met,  we are in Bellingham after all: the City of Subdued Excitement, but I would say that there is definitely chemistry between us, the kind of magnetic attraction you don't even notice until it's gone and all you can feel is the lingering pull.

My work in the Sexual Awareness Center has really opened me up to being very direct when approaching people I'm interested in, because I'm not sure if it was even a full twenty-four hours before I asked Ethan out on our first date. We were both busy, but agreed to coffee or ice cream the following Saturday.

We continued talking throughout the week and somehow “coffee or ice cream” turned into dinner followed by ice cream. I'd been hinting at that possibility most of the week and resigned myself to just a simple coffee date up to the point where he texted me while I was at the grocery store purchasing ingredients for dinner. Needless to say, I saved those ingredients until the next day.

I surprised him with a flower (long stem, red gerber daisy if you must know) when I met him at the Copper Hog. Though he didn't turn red exactly, Ethan blushed and looked down at the table for at least half a minute before meeting my eyes. I wanted to kiss him.

After dinner we walked downtown and I treated us to Mallards Ice Cream since I had cash and it would conveniently fill my stamp card so that the next time I came in I would get a free scoop. I invited him to my friend's Big Lebowski movie night. He told me that it was one of his favorite movies. I felt like this was a sign the universe was telling me it wanted this to happen.

At the movie night, we were relegated to sharing a beanbag chair since all other seating had been claimed. I don't think we would have complained even if we'd told we would have to sit on the floor. I felt comfortable enough in his presence that it wouldn't have mattered. I laughed quietly to myself as he quoted more than half the film. After the movie, we sat in the dark on our beanbag chair, an island of sobriety surrounded by a sea of drunk on white russians, holding hands while a Creedance Clearwater Revival playlist played in the background

Then he kissed me.

For a chaste, closed-mouth kiss that lasted less than ten seconds, damn was I seeing stars. When I walked him home an hour or so later, I couldn't help myself, I grabbed him by the tie and pulled him into another kiss.

Some time after our first date, Ethan talked with our friend Jesamie, and as she relayed the conversation to me, she'd asked what he liked about me and he'd answered that I'm the kind of guy who would bring a red rose to a first date (I would have, too, had I not been concerned about the historic and literary connotations associated with red roses). As Jesamie put it, “In other words, his Danny-ness.”

I think that's what I like most about Ethan as well. I could talk about how I think he's adorable and nerdy, or that I'm constantly amazed by his intellect and skills as a writer, or his great taste in movies (and uncanny ability to actually get me watching them) but there's something more innate than that to which I feel I'm attracted.

We haven't had any kind of formal a relationship discussion yet, on Friday so I don't now feel comfortable referring to him as my boyfriend, though given the way we interact with each other, I suppose he'd let me get away with it. For now, I'm just happy to have someone who wants to hold my hand, who randomly texts me “:]” on a Saturday afternoon when we have plans for the evening, who asks me what kind of wine I like before we meet so I can make dinner (and picks a damn good one, too), regardless of what labels we use to refer to each other.

As I sit here in his bed, a pink stuffed bunny at my side, he's sitting in the other room on his computer, working on something for one of his creative writing classes, muttering almost incoherently to himself  about the idiocy of some of his classmates. It's kind of endearing, though that may be the sleep deprivation talking.

For now, I guess I just want to say I'm content.