Wednesday, December 17, 2008

the delay of love

today marked the beginning of a new era (well, for me at least). video chat. the world of distant friends revealed at a 10 second delay. this morning I sat across from sara's pixelated head.
we compared the glory of our morning hairdos and gave each other tours. she showed me the snow outside her michigan home and then she taught me the secret to making "christmas coffee", which I am now drinking as I write this (*hint* whiskey and cream). we laughed, danced and rested our faces on our hands a lot. it was weird, it made me simultaneously wish I was there with her and feel okay about the fact that I wasn't.

technology. we connect in bytes. but you can't measure love in megabytes.

nowadays we are able to connect with greater ease to more people but are we connecting as deeply? in the days of the pony express, wirey little guys, often orphans, would put their lives in peril to deliver love letters. now people deliver news of great import in seconds through handheld devices. "I'm engaged." the tiny screen reads. "I'm moving." the glowing box says. I have recieved very serious news in a very unserious way lately. with technology we are given new ways of communicating and that is amazing and something to be celebrated, but I think it is also important to check ourselves every once in a while and say, I am communicating more than ever, but am I connecting?

with friends spread out all over the place, I am thankful for the internet and cell phones, but I am also determined to write letters and buy plane tickets, and perhaps even build the compound in tennessee that I have been dreaming of where all my friends bring their brilliant brains and handicraft and we collectively create a home. no need for video chat or "can you hear me now" phone calls. just a bunch of friendly faces sitting around drinking christmas coffee together and enjoying the clear sound of each other's stories. until then, I will settle for technology.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

this I believe

I recently had the fortune of coming across this I believe. what started as an NPR radio program has now become two books, a podcast, a community movement, and much much more. it's quite inspiring to hear the beliefs of all types of people and in turn to reconnect with and think about your own beliefs. I believe I have more than one belief, but when I decided to write my own this I believe essay, this is what came out:

I believe in asking questions. as a child I grew up in a religion built on blind faith. no room for thought or doubt, only endless submission to a big bearded guy in the sky that seemed incapable of making something as delightful as the trees I climbed or as funny as the creatures I found digging in the dirt. "he" was a god to fear. a god with a long list of rules to be followed. it never made any sense to my curious mind and wild heart. when I was 10, my family moved from the flat of the heartland to the mountains of the northwest. the simple act of changing our scenery in turn changed our entire lives.

through the relocation we set about establishing a new belief system, one that was unconstrained by fundamentalism and its answers for everything and instead rooted in the fundamental truth of questioning the answers. I watched my parents discover their own truths and was in turn given the space to find my own. slowly our lives moved away from who we were taught we should be while we worked passionately and often awkwardly towards figuring out who we wanted to be. through the process I always trusted myself and my good intentions as I renegotiated my relationship with "god". in the end, I learned that to find god, I didn't need a building with a cross, or a stale cracker and a glass of grape juice; I didn't need the gibber gabber of tongue speak or the monotony of a well practiced prayer. god was everywhere. god was in me and in everything and everyone. god was to be found in the act of loving myself and everyone I met no matter how differently they believed. god wasn't the answer, god was the asking.

it is this belief that has separated me and my immediate family from the family we came from. they do not see god in me. they do not believe there is a place for me in their heaven. but that is fine. for me, heaven has been the new life my family was given -- the life we gave ourselves. the chance to change -- to fully realize the life that I want to live not limited by false judgment and intolerance but liberated through understanding and acceptance. a life of endless discovery and rediscovery. I believe in a life that seeks less answers and instead delights in the freedom to question the endless wow and infinite mystery of living.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

full heart empty pockets

my amazing pal jamie is currently in the process of applying to graduate school for poetry. she says it's because of the economy, and because she wants to enter into a highly lucrative field, seeing as getting her bachelors in acting didn't pay off, except for that one honda commercial she did. I told her that I think it's a great idea. and then we laughed.

oh the economy.

I would be a liar if I didn't tell you right now that every day I fight the urge to break down in a fury of fear for the encroaching doom that seems eminent. sara and I have been known to use iceland's economic state as a comfort for our own. we are not alone in our struggles. and the debt, oh the debt, the adding and never subtracting. it has kept me up at nights. but why? my bank went bankrupt. and now my credit card company can't keep it together. why should I care that I owe them some dough? and WHAT IS THE WORST CASE SENARIO? what could possibly be so terrible? moving back in with the folks? two people that I respect very very much are currently living with their parents. let's not forget that my dad makes great coffee every morning and then pours quality wine at night. and my mom, well shoot, that woman lives to make her kids happy -- pancakes every day of the week if I so requested. the point is not that I am going to move back home, the point is that if I couldn't pay my bills, as I am so afraid I will not be able to, what is it that I am fearing would happen? bankrupcy? there are worse things. homelessness? I wouldn't be homeless -- besides my parents, there are always the parents of my homeless friends. I think what I am really afraid of is not being able to get sushi when I am craving it or taking a trip to mexico in january because I feel like a drink on the beach. what I am having a hard time with is the lack of freedom that the shackles of debt so expertly applies. joan didion said it best,

"The secret point of money and power in America is neither the things that money can buy nor power for power's sake... but absolute personal freedom, mobility, privacy. It is the instinct which drove America to the Pacific, all through the nineteenth century, the desire to be able to find a restaurant open in case you want a sandwich, to be a free agent, live by one's own rules."

and that is what I want, the luxury to live by my own rules, but why is that a luxury? how has freedom been given a monotary value? and how can I fight against a system that I don't actually believe in? I don't believe that money will make me happy. I don't believe that I need money to live a rich life. I don't believe that debt is an excuse for giving into a job that I hate. so what is it that I can do to free myself from buying into the widespread panic that I can't afford to accept?...
fighting it everyday. talking with friends who share my sentiments. taking trips I can't afford, but also can't afford to miss out on. selling my bone marrow. participating in medical studies. dog sitting and baby walking. singing on street corners. charging people money to watch me talk about nothing on the internet. picking free fruit off the trees in LA and selling it for a reasonable price. shaving jg's head and selling his locks at a premium price. laughing at myself everytime I start to worry about the ecomony, reminding myself that the u.s. of a. owes A LOT more money than I do. partaking in a lot of free activities like writing to friends and looking through photographs and waving at cute kids in strollers and remembering what really matters. the fact is, and this is what I have to remember, you can't put a price on rockin' in the free world.

Sunday, November 30, 2008

a time for being

what I am about to say is not original, but I am going to say it anyway. all-too-oft, holidays miss the point. what was (hopefully) created to bring loved ones together -- to enjoy the glow of winter fires and the warmth of each others hearts -- has been turned into a stress fest, a chaotic gathering of frazzled families and friends. shoulders sagging from the malls, heads throbbing from the decision making. how many rolls of wrapping paper will these gifts need? how many bottles of wine will it take to survive grandma's questioning? but wait, did you even get a chance to enjoy it? or were you too busy stuffing the turkey? too busy straightening the house? screw the gifts, give yourself.

this thanksgiving ranks among the best of all time. it was simply delightful (keyword being simply). no frazzled messes were made. just a leisurely day of hanging around drinking mimosas, watching john hughes flicks, and somehow managing to make a delicious dinner for six. we sat down and ate and drank wine and talked and talked and talked. we sat at the table for four hours before we thought to get up for the pumpkin pie (which my mom threw together last minute with a few simple ingredients - and which was astounding in its deliciousness). my point is that I could have easily stressed myself out. four guests in our little house, a big meal made in our tiny kitchen. but no, I told myself to just enjoy the company and see what happens. and that is what I did, and what happened was magical. we sat around sharing stories and laughing and realizing that the holidays are not a time for doing but a time for being. simply being in the moment, together.

taking a photo op

jG francis took this picture. I like it a lot. that's all I wanted to say.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

chunky jazz hands

life's full of firsts. first step, first word, first kiss (mine being an extraction of vital tonsil tissue - a process so unpleasant, so "un-hot" that I vowed never to repeat it). tonight I experienced a new first. a first spray of vomit. chunky jazz hands shooting out of the mouth of a babe. my man, jg, who first took a sip of alcohol at the age of 33, took a new step into intoxicated adulthood tonight - highway to the danger zone, the one-too-many punch. we walked home from margarita madness. bobbing and weaving. I turned around to witness the beauty of expelled excess - my friends, it was beautiful. the violent spray of intoxication backlit by city traffic, the splatter of a bad idea bouncing off the front lawn of strangers. poetry in motion. congratulations. you. are. drunk.

I was torn. my love was in distress. but I was transfixed. mesmerized by the making of history. in the midst of the the last liquid burst, his shaking hands held out the peace sign. I knew he was okay. he was better than okay. he too knew, something special had taken place - the awkward or the extraordinary - our firsts are as important as our lasts. I felt lucky to have been a part of something bigger than us. the process of discovering.

Monday, November 17, 2008

the big tree

photo by nat hansen

this weekend I took the train from LA to santa barbara. I forgot my camera. you'll just have to believe me. it was awesome. the backsides of buildings, the bent backs of workers, the stretch of the ocean, the smoke of the fires, the drama of the windblown trees. it was awesome. why have I not done this before? I will do this again.

when you get off at santa barbara, you are met by a hundred-and-some-year-old fig tree that will make you ponder the power of patience. this thing is mindblowing in its expanse, its shade, its root system. huge is a word that comes to mind, though there are many others, like incredible, life-affirming, awe inspiring, calming, so on and so forth - as goes the beauty of trees.

anyway, I was in santa barbara, not only to eat entirely too much pork abodabo, but also to mix an album with the as-yet-to-be-named band I play in. let me say this: making music is relatively easy - you close your eyes and you sing or you strum an instrument or you pluck some keys. but making an album - as far as I can tell - is the furthest thing from easy. if it weren't for the persistence and obsession of mr. benjamin pringle, it probably wouldn't have happened. but, it did, and four million tracks later, we found ourselves sitting and listening to the magic of mixing as it transforms all the hard work into beautiful music. it's exciting, getting to this point. polishing the marble structure you've been chipping away at for weeks or months or even years. seeing its shape that you have reveled, stripping away the excess. taking a step back to see what was at one time the stone slab of an idea now having been completely transformed into a work of art.

we sat there holding the shiny disc with our callused finger tips. we put it in the cd player and let our voices fill the car as we drove home. we listened, we smiled - at ourselves and at each other - and when all the songs had played, we sat quietly looking out the windows at the passing night. and then, we started thinking about all the new songs we could write.

Saturday, November 8, 2008

whistling scorpion

the first sign is that I've been whistling scorpion's winds of change a lot lately. that met with the gale force winds of change that swept the dark clouds out of the sky and let the sun shine down once more on this nation when this country blew its own mind and elected obama. change is all around us. from the political scene to the trees outside. which brings me to my next point - trees. on my recent road trip I thought a lot about trees, seeing as there were, well, a lot of trees. trees are lovely, necessary. they remind me of the change that is not only natural but expected in life. trees grow, bend, shed life and live again. so it seems only logical that humans should do the same. which brings me to my next point, I want to make like the trees and leave. I am ready for a new view. I am ready for a place where the tap water tastes sweet. I would like to live somewhere where people are more eager to exchange ideas than business cards. there has been a collections of "signs" for my bohemian soul. one of which I would like to share: blue highways by william least heat-moon. so far it seems a book that should be required reading. a journey through the heart of this country - history, humanity, trials, tribulations, realizations, glory on the open road. somehow I have forgetten that this country has more than two polar cities worth inhabiting. lately, the U.S. map has become like the night sky, the further I get from LA, the more stars I see.

don't get me wrong, I'm not about to get all new york on LA's ass and start talking some ignorant nonsense about how LA sucks just because I've seen a few movies or visited the sunset strip. LA is a magical place, for better or worse. the palm trees and burritos alone make me think I could never leave. it is beautiful and grotesque and shallow and real as hell all at once. it is home to so many different dreams that don't have reality shows. it has been my happy home for over 3 years (which is a record). it, like any place, has so many things to offer. take what you want and leave the rest. my recent thoughts of distant landscapes is not born out of a dissatisfaction with the here, but with an excitement for the there. for the where? which always brings about the how? and more importantly, the why? those questions I want to always be asking myself. it's not that I'm not happy here, it's just that I think maybe it's time to start nurishing these roots with some new soil.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Yes, We Can

This is our moment. This is our time — to put our people back to work and open doors of opportunity for our kids; to restore prosperity and promote the cause of peace; to reclaim the American Dream and reaffirm that fundamental truth that out of many, we are one; that while we breathe, we hope, and where we are met with cynicism, and doubt, and those who tell us that we can't, we will respond with that timeless creed that sums up the spirit of a people:
Yes, we can.

~The New American President, Barack Obama

the shedding of tears is part of our long, and oftentimes, painful history. countless tears have been shed out of struggle and loss, heartache and hopelessness. but last night, for the first time in my lifetime I was witness to a different type of tears shed by a nation. tears of joy and pride and hope. tears that were not hot on our cheeks but cleansing to our eyes - we could see more clearly the future we have been hoping for. in front of us stood a man who stood for us as a promise of change; as a symbol of difference finally united. people who had given up, began again. people who doubted, believed.

what a gift. "barack" is a semitic word meaning "to bless" or "blessing". we are blessed to have such a leader at this time in our history. and when I say "we", I do not only mean the united states of america, but the entire world. kenya is declaring tomorrow a national holiday in honor of barack. today, the vatican is filled with prayer that obama will finally be the leader that helps bring about peace in the world. smiles could be seen across the globe; hands of all color holding up two fingers in a V. not since we landed on the moon, has the world been so committed to our cause, or so joined in our celebration. for the first time in too long the world is reminded that, as barack said so beautifully, "...Our stories are singular, but our destiny is shared."

what an amazing time in history - our history. what an opportunity to be a part of such profound transformation. but as barack said last night, "This victory alone is not the change we seek — it is only the chance for us to make that change." so now is the part in our history where we decide how much we can give and how much we can change. while the nation did not let race sway their vote, california voters passed proposition 8 banning gay marriage. while one victory against discrimination was won, another was lost. this is just the beginning. as obama said, "The road ahead will be long. Our climb will be steep." so will we continue to climb? the real challenge we face is keeping this hope alive. the real struggle is taking the flame of last night and letting it be the light that guides us down the long road. we cannot forget.

it is the responsibility of our hands to build the future we deserve. it is the tireless service of our hearts and the choices of our minds that will direct the course of our history. it is our voices that will first shout, yes, we can! and yes, we will! and finally, yes, we did!

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

america made beautiful

in case you missed it.

Monday, October 27, 2008

the mother road gives birth

“Once in a while it really hits people that they don’t have to experience the world in the way they have been told to.” ~Alan Keightley

“Without new experiences, something inside of us sleeps. The sleeper must awaken.” ~Frank Herbert

travel is my alarm clock. it buzzes in my brain and puts my feet on the ground. it removes the sleep from my eyes and brushes the stale taste from my teeth. each day on the road is like morning - dreams still weaving their way through your waking thoughts, coffee speeding your excited talk with old friends and new strangers. each day you decide where you will go, what you will do, and ultimately, who you will be. and often, the road will tell you otherwise, and then you get to find out who you really are.

I have been back a week now from an epically gorgeous cross-country road trip. I am not the same. I am never the same, the pillow doesn't feel the same, the muscles in my face have changed - so much smiling. I sent my mom a text message on the last day of our journey, I told her I was not ready to leave the road yet. she responded with a reminder of how nice "home" is. I told her, I feel more at home on the road. on the road everything is that vibrant mixture of familiar and strange, exciting and mundane. in between the opposites, your brain is called on to constantly work it out - how to feel, what to think. in this state of awareness, you are fully alive, you miraculously recover from the coma of routine and meet each sight, smell and taste with the wonder of a child.

and yes, of course it is exhausting. always being awake to life - but that is why hotel rooms have cable. you can pick and choose how much you are able and willing to take in. fortunately I was accompanied by two valiant road warriors on my journey. jg and heidi were right there by my side, ready to fearlessly face the unknown of a tennessee dive bar or, in heidi's case, the taste of memphis dry ribs after 10 years of vegetarianism. together we navigated through the colors of autumn. we met new friends and old friends along the way. kimberly opened her apartment and her heart to us in brooklyn and shared giggles with us on the air mattresses at night. ron and his mom made us laugh our arses off despite the dodgers loss while in phillies territory. sara was the best guide one could wish for leading us through the post-apocalyptic wonder that is detroit. the strangers sitting at the bar in the lamplighter lounge in memphis became quick friends as we sat sharing stories over pbr's. and two friendly baristas in fort smith, arkansas made our lattes and our night as they listened in wonder to the tales of our journey.

it's not the miles you travel, or the local fare you try, or the pictures you take, it's the people you share the ride with, and the people who share their homes with you, and the people you meet along the way. it's the people who take you as you are and give you themselves in return. I was lucky on this trip, the people were nothing short of beautiful. I am thankful for them, and the road.

Saturday, October 25, 2008


I'm nervous, I must confess. my hopeful nature is shivering like the autumn leaves aware of the approaching winter. but I do not want another winter for this country, we have been hibernating for far too long. obama is like that first day you can drive with the windows down. obama is like the first day you can smell the lilac bushes warming ever so slightly in the springtime sunshine. obama is sunshine and he will illuminate this great nation if only we give him the chance. please america, vote for the future this country was intended.

like whitney, I too believe the children are our future, but unfortunately they can't vote, 'cause if they could, they would vote for obama. do it for the children - get out there and cast their votes for the person that will help pave the way towards a future the kids and the old folks alike will be proud of. hope. change. obama. gobama!

In the end, that's what this election is about. Do we participate in a politics of cynicism or a politics of hope? ~Barack Obama

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

all this beauty

inspired by skl's beautiful blog, I decided it was a great time to make a (short) photographic list of some of the things I believe to be beautiful. times are hard - the economy, mercury's ass in retrograde, 3 more days till I get to watch the dodgers kick ass... but I look at these photos and I realize, even if a meteor were to fall from the sky and squash this little town, I would be blessed to have been a part of all this beauty. all that said, that meteor better not even think of heading this way until after the dodgers win the world series...

and now, in no particular order: beauty as told by b

good hair
the game
32 years
good men
this day
more family
mary beth
a road atlas

and that's not even the one/sixteenth of it.

Sunday, September 28, 2008

astronaut wisdom

"We learned a lot about the Moon, but what we really learned was about the Earth. The fact that just from the distance of the Moon, you can put your thumb up, and you can hide the Earth behind your thumb. Everything that you have ever known, your loved ones, your business, the problems of the Earth itself, all behind your thumb. And how insignificant we really all are. But then how fortunate we are to have this body, and to be able to enjoy living here amongst the beauty of the Earth itself."
~Jim Lovell, Apollo 13

if you like beautiful 60's footage of space travel and astronaut wisdom, I suggest you get your eyes on In the Shadow of the Moon, an amazing documentary by David Sington where science is stranger than fiction. I was like a bright-eyed child amazed by what a miracle this experience we call life on earth really is. we forget easily, but watching this film is a nice reminder. look at life through the shiny eyes of those who have seen it from the moon and lived to talk about it. significantly more than 2 thumbs up.

Saturday, September 27, 2008

spoon at the bowl

6 friends (jessica, jamie, keirin, jeremy, jg, and b)
3 bands (beck, spoon, and mgmt)
lots of food (cheese, salami, bread, hummus, carrots, beets, pickles, and more)
and some kitchen sink drinks (gin, club soda, lime, basil, cucumbers, and granny smith apples - yummers)
all in all, the hollywood bowl was nice and the bands were good, but the friends, food and cocktails won out.