Monday, March 31, 2008

Typos be damned...

The key board is all backwards. Day one of Paris Adventure a few quickies:

  1. Air India is quite the experience...there was an inflatable life vest sitting on the floor under the chair in front of me, and the whole thing smelled like curry.
  2. Sleeping pills and free inflight Johnny Walker not the best idea. When I arrived I felt like a zombie.
  3. I spent an hour trying to get from the RER to the Metro. Which apprently I didnt even need to buy a ticket for when transferring.
  4. Things are not so hard to find. My hostel I found fairly easily without getting lost.
  5. I wandered around the Canal for an hour or two until I realized I was so sleepy ,y legs were shaking.
  6. I slept most of my first day away.
  7. Paris is twice as beautiful as I expected.

Saturday, March 15, 2008

Two Women

There were always in me, two women at least,
one woman desperate and bewildered,
who felt she was drowning and another who
would leap into a scene, as upon a stage,
conceal her true emotions because they
were weaknesses, helplessness, despair,
and present to the world only a smile,
an eagerness, curiosity, enthusiasm, interest.

Anaïs Nin



Erica Funkhouser, "Day Work"

Alone. I love to be alone. Against
the numberless infinities. Or for
the re-creation of the little chores
that roof my world: embellished emptiness.

A round peg in a square hole will find
its four corners—within, without—and fill
them with its private tyrannies. Be still
and see if solitude will make you kind.

Contained. I love to be contained. The air,
a pair of trees that rise in unison,
the shade that lends my day abundant edge:
inventions, all. The other world's a cage.
The body scatters and is never done.
Small teeth and claws await us everywhere.

From Earthly, Funkhouser's fifth collection of poems. via Beatrice)


the narrative

It has been a while. In the silence of the past week I was more able to reconnect with the story, to think and imagine the narrative which drives it, to develop it more. To fine tune my mind to focus less on my own solipsistic narration (twitter on crack) and exist outside of myself in a world that, while driven by my experiences and views, stands on its own merit. To hear the characters speak and advance. To see a plot unfold in its own natural way. Its all a little staggering. And reason to be quite for a little while more.
"A need to tell and hear stories is essential to the species Homo sapiens--second in necessity apparently after nourishment and before love and shelter. Millions survive without love or home, almost none in silence; the opposite of silence leads quickly to narrative, and the sound of story is the dominant sound of our lives, from the small accounts of our day's events to the vast incommunicable constructs of psychopaths."

--Reynolds Price


Friday, March 14, 2008

My Ten Text*

It was promising to be another quiet day in marcia phone land, but then I got these in the evening. I wasn't going to post 'em cause I like to keep it relevant and reflective, but they really made my day:
  • hi
  • sending you as many messages
  • to reward you for leashing up that twitter
  • to make you feel less lonely
  • you
  • should watch some felicity or watch anything to
  • distract yourself
  • don't worry be happy cus i'm
  • so awesome
  • .
Good friends are hard to find.

(*what's the plural of text? texts? that sounds like it referrers to ancient literary scrolls...)


Thursday, March 13, 2008

Site Design, Feeds and Missing Content

I've been thinking a lot about what gets lost in translation lately. More specifically blogs that get mangled by everyone's feed readers. Lately I've been trying some old fashion net surfing.

A few thoughts:
  • Most people I know have (with the exception of me I suppose) have put some thought and effort into their blog design. (see bk, or super clean and simple tyfo, or faves like dork mag, maud or design boom; even blazey pimped his tumblr.) It's as if someone designed a magazine cover and the store ripped it off before they sold it.
  • Lost Content: This infuriates me with the tumblr rss feed and I am currently trying to find a solution. If I post a song and you never go to my blog then you'll likely never hear it (might not even know it's missing in the first place). Quotes and dialog are cut short. Links are lost. SERIOUSLY!?! Come on tumblr? That brings me to my second point...
  • Abbreviated reading: When I go to a blog I'm more likely to peep the content (especially when aided by a nice design) but once you get into the act of scanning your feeder it becomes just that, scanning. If you're missing content from tumblr, you're less likely to care to go back to check it out within the context of the other 5,000 posts you also want to check out. Its not intentional it just happens. Even the information most people pick up, myself included, is done in a quick once over without giving much thought to the words. Which once again means that the design is lost and so is the content. Why bother blogging at all? (No wonder we're all goldfish)
  • Once you add a few blogs you have to add a few more. Completely inundating your reader, feeder and therefore yourself, with useless information.
  • And the Final point. I love google, but their reader is just plain UGLY. Who seriously wants to sit around and stair at the nastiness for an hour or two?
Just make an effort to try and visit the sites of your favorite blogs. It'll definitely make the world a better place and inflate everyone's traffic. Think of it as doing your part to keep those damn designers on top of their game.

I'm curious to hear everyone else's thoughts.

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The Universe: planetarium reflections

I know I steal a lot from Whiskey River. Trust me, I don't want to but I can't help myself. Their quotes are so amazingly relevant that I can't help but think to myself, so and so has to read this. So please do us both a favor, add it to your reader.

This one particularly reminds me of my trip to the planetarium and teeny my reflection after.
"The universe takes on a whole new meaning when you know that your place in it was not foreordained, that it was not designed for us, indeed, that it was not designed at all. If we are nothing more than star stuff, how special life becomes. How inspiring it is to share in the sublimity of knowledge generated by other human minds, and perhaps to even make a tiny contribution toward that body of knowledge that will be passed down through the ages, part of the cumulative wisdom of a single species on a tiny planet orbiting an ordinary star on the remote edge of a not-so-unusual galaxy, itself a member of a cluster of galaxies millions of light years from nowhere."
- Michael Shermer

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Maybe I was ego tripping?

The Flaming Lips=Zen?

The lyrics to my favorite Flaming lips song:
Ego Tripping at the Gates of Hell.

I was waiting on a moment
But the moment never came
All the billion other moments
Were just slipping all away
I must have been tripping
Were just slipping all away
Just ego tripping

I was wanting you to love me
But your love it never came
All the other love around me
Was just wasting all away
I must have been tripping
Was just wasting all away
Just ego tripping

I was waiting on a moment
But the moment never came...


A lot can change in a year.

Its been exactly one year today since I packed an overnight bag and moved on with my life. A lot can change even in a day. I had no idea what I was giving up, but I didn't know what I stood to gain either.

It puts things in perspective. How many of the people that I know will I still speak to in a year? Which of the things that feel immediate and important are still going to matter?

"Reality is flowing. This does not mean that everything moves, changes, becomes. Science and common experience tell us that. It means that movement, change, becoming is everything that there is. There is nothing else; everything is movement, is change. The time that we ordinarily think about is not real time, but a picture of space."
- Henri-Louis Bergson

(If this post lacks coherence or eloquence its because its seven am in the morning and I've been up since four....there are so many things I wanted to write between the bed and the screen that aren't really translating into real coherent thoughts)


Zero SMS

Its been over 24 hours since I received a text message. Only two personal calls, one from my roommate and one from my mother; and bare minimum in the chat department. It is indeed an odd and isolating event. A great deal of silence. A little refreshing and a little lonely at the same time.

Its hard to imagine that a year ago this was sort of the way life went, sans blog, twitter, facebook, flickr, tumblr, etc; I chatted with only one person online on a regular basis and I only received one personal email on the exact same day last year.

I did finish finally finish one book and start another. Write a great deal. Bake a casserole and drink a bottle of vino. It was a good day, a great evening.


Tuesday, March 11, 2008

On Self Respect: Part Deux

A few people ruminated on the recent post quoting Joan Didion's On Self Respect and whether that would mean my slowly fading web presence/willingness to be as "accommodating"as I've been in years pass. And yes I've been answering fewer emails, sign into chat less frequently and considering the invasiveness of twitter. I offer a few comments back and would be curious to hear any one else's opinion (not on myself particularly but on the quote)

From a Chat:
Creative people.... need/love to find their own solutions to everything and will rarely have it any other way. No matter how sweet they are. I think, that's the essence of being creative. Problem Solving.

But yes you need to be more selfish.
From a Comment:
How is lack of self-respect related to a lack of self? What if - sometimes, or to some extent - this problem is caused by the fact that we don't perceive ourselves as well or as thoroughly as others perceive themselves? Then we overcompensate to try to demonstrate that we know what it's like to be human, that we can empathize and communicate.

The sad part is that it usually works - who would call us out? Who (especially there in NYC) is sufficiently unconcerned with him/herself that they'll see your behavior as your own madness, and not a reflection on them?
From an Email 'Twitter could be your calling":
Because I am in awe of your self-disclosure, and because this makes it sound like I won't see you for a good long while as you reconvene with self, I offer you the slightly contradictory words of Viktor Frankl:

"I wish to stress that the true meaning of life is to be discovered in the world rather than within man or his own psyche, as though it were a closed system. I have termed this sonstitutive characteristic 'the self-transcendence of human existence.' It denotes the fact that being human always points, and is directed, to something, or someone, other than oneself - be it a meaning to fulfill or another human being to encounter."

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Saturday, March 08, 2008

Alice Smith

I saw Alice Smith perform last night at Highline Ballroom.

In June 2006 I came across Alice Smith on Big Stereo and sought out a couple of her song. March 2007 I met someone else who dug the song "Dream" as much as I did, and had a deja vu experience. "What song is this" I thought, "How do I know her?" Why of course, from my own musical library.

Every so often I encourage people to jump on board with a particular female vocalist. Its not because I have great musical for sight, I just happen to be in the right place at the right time and know what talent is.

Why you'll listen to her:
Alice Smith was honest to goodness one of the best female vocalist I've seen perform live. Ever. In Life. I didn't think it was still possible for someone to produce the sound that came out of her mouth, without theatrics. Yeah. Think Ethel Waters or Bassie Smith singing the blues in 2008. Modern music for modern times of course, but just as moving.

Standing almost stock still on stage, she made it look like it was the easiest thing in the world to produce a sound that even Alicia Keys appears to struggle with. It took me a minute to register, could that girl be making as big and as dynamic a sound such as she was? Yeah. The conversation of course went back to Things We Know. If Amy Winehouse was Billie Holiday, tragic and talented, then Alice Smith was Sarah Vaughn or Ella Fitzgerald. She'd live to be 80 and has more raw talent to boot. Plus, she's absolutely gorgeous with an insane body. Every one was mesmerized.

Why you'll never hear of her:
Live, you almost wonder whats missing from her album. Well. Her. The recorded songs don't do as much to capture her range and talent as they should and leave something to be desired. She's all performer with a record that could be better.

But if you've ever wanted to see a nice souther girl make good and you dig good music: Listen and Listen and Listen.

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Thursday, March 06, 2008

French Kisses and Bad Days Made Better

I went to see the film Un baiser s'il vous plaît or Shall We Kiss at the IFC Center as part of the Rendez-Vous with French Cinema. A film by Emmanuel Mouret, who spoke after the screening. Quite entertaining and if it finds American distribution, I'd recommend seeing it or renting it.

It tells the story of
Gabriel and Emilie who meet on the streets of Nantes randomly one afternoon. He offers her a ride , and the ride turns into a pleasant dinner with clearly romantic overtones. At the end of the night he goes in for a kiss only to be turned down by Emile, who believes that even a small kiss could have the most unexpected consequences. They cut to the story of Judith and Nicholas (played by Emmanuel Mouret), two very good friends, who as a means of curing Nicholas' need for affection decide to engage in a quick tryst that begins with just a kiss (what was probably the most awkward and funny love scene I've ever seen on film.) The film centers around there growing affair (Judith is married to adoring, rich and attractive Claudio) and the unexpected repercussions of their actions. Wry, observant and also quite touching, SHALL WE KISS? is a very contemporary meditation on the wages of infidelity. Mouret's intelligent, successful characters deluge their emotions and instincts with very open speculation as to why they're doing what they're doing, trying to appear as if they're in control while it's clear to everyone else they haven't been for a while.

My favorite part of the evening was the discussion after the film, a woman asked in french about the difference between American cinema where infidelity is often treated as tragic and French cinema where it usually takes on a more comedic light. Mouret responded, while of course everything in the film had consequences, in France infidelity was a national sport.

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Wednesday, March 05, 2008

The Dreams are Killer

My dream life has been rather interesting. I'd been trying to think of the context in which to write about it, but honestly, they need no context. They're a little insane and a little unstable and make only a little sense. (I try to avoid writing about dreams because well, usually they're quite boring for someone else to read about, but this one was quite interesting in the oedipal sense...and the fact that I dream greek mythology):

I dreamt of a boy, I'd never met. Dark and small and african and the beginning of the dream he was told "you will kill your father by the nights end." And it was a joke that no one believed. A smallish man that resembled the boy, except for his expansive chest and his wrinkled face. His wide flat nose and his strong demeanor. I dreamt of a trip that we all took by bus. The greyhound variety with grey seats and a pattern sewn into the strip down the middle that hearkened back to the tetris days. People who were familiar to a life that I am no longer leading, I was surrounded by them. Faces and names that my subconscious recall, but I, in my waking life, do not. The place we went was uneventful. Everything was bright and lit up (this I recall from a recent event).

Skip the uninteresting details. The what we did in between or who we spoke to or why. Skip to the hotel room, which is most important. Again, I can't recall why I was placed in a hotel room with a father and son, I think I thought it odd and questionable. But there were no other rooms and nothing to be done, so I went. We sat the father and I, face to face. He on the bed looking down to me on the floor (the boy sat in the corner on a chair, a single lampshade illuminated his dark face and was the only light...shadows crept up like vignetting, around the edges of the room). He seemed upset, and he talked and talked. We fought and fought, to varying degrees of intensity, for what seemed like hours. In the end, he was convinced that I should marry his son. It seemed ludicrous. I might have said so. He continued on and the boy looked on his face set into a grim stare. His face a mask, two white eyes bobbing in the darkness. Pulsating. You could nearly see his neck tha-thumping which each beat. Quickly. I wish I could recall what made him so angry. But only the lounge from the chair to the bed was memorable. Only that he was on his father before I could firmly grasp the situation. Seeing someone strangle another person in their dreams is still unnerving. Even if the man had never lived and there for couldn't really die, I can still see it when I close my eyes. Something so passion filled and heartless, even imagined, stays with you.

The man jerked and jiggled. He twisted alarmed and batted at his son, but the boy stayed fixed like a 500 lb weight on the mans chest. Impenetrable.

And then it was over, almost as quickly as it had begun. He stood up. He wiped his brow. He looked at me as though I had stumbled into the room mistakenly while he committed his crime. We stared like that for a beat, unsure of what to do.

"You have to leave," He told me. And just like that he began to move around the room, tidying things up. Wrapping his father in a blanket as though the man had never lived. It felt like he had done it in my honor, even though I can't recall why, killed his own father just like that. He hurried around as I stood there in shock.

Sirens began to wail...nothing is ever easily explained in dreams. But there they were, officers, the entire party of our trip standing in anticipation. He pushed me toward a door that separated our room from the next. His face again impenetrable and I felt a tenderness sweep over me. For what he'd done for me, for what he'd lost, for what he'd been told would happen and could not avoid. Maybe for all the things we can't avoid. And he pushed me through...and moments later I walked into the light where everyone stood waiting. Police looked with fire arms held. Someone wrapped me in a blanket and I watched and waited for him to turn himself over.


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On Self-Respect

I read this quote in September when is was published on Maud Newton from Joan Didion's Slouching Toward Bethlehem, told myself to buy the book (and I would have today had I not had a terrible, horrible, no good, very bad day.) I've referenced it more than once in conversation and today I felt the need to bring it up again within the context of the conversation I had with a friend today. It revolved around a writers discipline and the art of saying no:
If we do not respect ourselves … we are peculiarly in thrall to everyone we see, curiously determined to live out — since our self-image is untenable — their false notions of us. We flatter ourselves by thinking this compulsion to please others an attractive trait: a gist for imaginative empathy, evidence of our willingness to give. Of course I will play Francesca to your Paolo, Hellen Keller to anyone’s Annie Sullivan: no expectation is too misplaced, no role too ludicrous…

It is the phenomenon sometimes called “alienation from self.” In its advanced stages, we no longer answer the telephone, because someone might want something; that we could say no without drowning in self-reproach is an idea alien to this game. Every encounter demands too much, tears the nerves, drains the will, and the specter of something so small as an unanswered letter arouses such disproportionate guilt that answering it becomes out of the question. To assign unanswered letters their proper weight, to free us from the expectations of others, to give us back to ourselves — their lies the great, the singular power of self-respect. Without it, one eventually discovers the final turn of the screw: one runs away to find oneself, and finds no one at home.

"And lead us not into temptation" as the scripture goes. I've got to have a little more self respect, when it comes to my writing, my friendships, my relationships. I've got to learn to say no and distance myself. I cannot be apart of it all and still give time to my writing.

Just my thoughts on today.

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Monday, March 03, 2008

The Cocktail Party: T. S. Elliot

It will do you no harm to find yourself ridiculous.
Resign yourself to be the fool you are.

You will find that you survive humiliation
And that's an experience of incalculable value.

That is the worst moment, when you feel you have lost
The desires for all that was most dersirable,
Before you are contented with what you can desire;
Before you know what is left to be desired;
And you go on wishing that you could desire
What desire has left behind. But you cannot understand.
How could you understand what it is to feel old?

We die to each other daily.
What we know of other people
Is only our memory of the moments
During which we knew them. And they have changed since then.
To pretend that they and we are the same
Is a useful and convenient social convention
Which must sometimes broken. We must also remember
That at every meeting we are meeting a stranger.

What is hell? Hell is oneself.
Hell is alone, the other figures in it
Merely projections. There is nothing to escape from
And nothing to escape to. One is always alone.

Half the harm that is done in this world
Is due to people who want to feel important.
They don't mean to do harm — but the harm does not interest them.
Or they do not see it, or they justify it
Because they are absorbed in the endless struggle
To think well of themselves.

There are several symptoms
Which must occur together, and to a marked degree,
To qualify a patient for my sanitorium:
And one of them is an honest mind. That is one of the causes of their suffering.

To men of a certain type
The suspicion that they are incapable of loving
Is as disturbing to their self-esteem
As, in cruder men, the fear of impotence.

I should really like to think there's something wrong with me —
Because, if there isn't then there's something wrong,
Or at least, very different from what it seemed to be,
With the world itself — and that's much more frightening!

Everyone's alone — or so it seems to me.
They make noises, and think they are talking to each other;
They make faces, and think they understand each other.
And I'm sure they don't. Is that a delusion?

Can we only love
Something created in our own imaginations?
Are we all in fact unloving and unloveable?
Then one is alone, and if one is alone
Then lover and beloved are equally unreal
And the dreamer is no more real than his dreams.

I shall be left with the inconsolable memory
Of the treasure I went into the forest to find
And never found, and which was not there
And is perhaps not anywhere? But if not anywhere
Why do I feel guilty at not having found it?

Disillusion can become itself an illusion
If we rest in it.

Two people who know they do not understand each other,
Breeding children whom they do not understand
And who will never understand them.

There is another way, if you have the courage.
The first I could describe in familiar terms
Because you have seen it, as we all have seen it,
Illustrated, more or less, in lives of those about us.
The second is unknown, and so requires faith —
The kind of faith that issues from despair.
The destination cannot be described;
You will know very little until you get there;
You will journey blind. But the way leads towards possession
Of what you have sought for in the wrong place.

We must always take risks. That is our destiny.

If we all were judged according to the consequences
Of all our words and deeds, beyond the intention
And beyond our limited understanding
Of ourselves and others, we should all be condemned.

Only by acceptance of the past will you alter its meaning.

Every moment is a fresh beginning.

(This has been feeling particularly true as Of Late so I thought I'd share)

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"The Opposite of Love is Not Hate.
The Opposite of Love is Fear.
And the Opposite of Fear is Understanding.
Which means the Opposite of Understanding is Hate."

(found on the back of a Karma Card)

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