Monday, August 13, 2012

Adios, Crackheads!

Choosing happiness is, at its core, as simple as this flow chart. It's getting to the point where you really want it that is a different story.  This winter was kind of a crap fest.  I don't know what happened, but I eventually figured out that the path I was on led to a place I didn't really want to go.

Hop, skip and a couple of Dr. Drew Rehab marathons later, I decided to treat the lifestyle change like beating an addiction. 

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Of Vitality and Vulnerability

This is such an odd way to return to this blog.  I don't really want to go into all the business about what has kept me away except to say that my last post marked the beginning of a gradual withdrawal into a void out of which I have only recently emerged.  (Cryptic, yes. But that's all you're gonna get -- for the time being, anyway.)

So what has brought me back?

Over the summer, my blogger friend Wendy died of a heart attack after the Flowers Sea Swim in Grand Cayman.  She was 50. Sixteen years and two days older than I.

Strangely, I only really began to learn more about Wendy after her death  It's just bits here and there that I could piece together from people's remembrances of her on her Facebook wall, but two things are clear. First, she loved swimming. Second, she was a consistently positive influence on everyone around her, no matter how close or casual the relationship. 

It's such a cliché to contemplate one's mortality when a friend dies, often inspiring some sort of beat-the-clock flurry of activity or a commitment to living a better life, whatever that might mean.  Something I have been contemplating for a while now has been what it means to live a vulnerable life.

Sunday, February 28, 2010

If You Like a Ukulele Lady

I don't know why I think this is a good idea, but I'm learning to play ukulele.  My Tagalog tutor had a cheap one lying around that she wasn't playing, and she let me have it so I could see if I liked it before spending dough on one of my own.  (A decent starter uke is about $50-80 bones; this one is probably in the $20 range.)

Actually, this was inspired by the poetry slam I went to the other night.  They busted out a uke for one of the pieces and I jotted down in my notebook, "get a ukulele" -- a note I rediscovered the next day in class when I was talking about deciding whether to lobby for a creative performance as my dissertation project (the uke would be put to use in the performance).  So I went home Friday and spent the rest of the night learning all I could about the ukulele and how difficult it would be to get started.  Turns out it's not too bad.  After an hour or so of tuning and tinkering around, I know four chords (though I can't quite change between them yet), and I'm getting the hang of strumming.  I can already see the cheapness of the one I have, though.  The tuning thingies (I could probably look this up, but I want to get this posted quickly) are made of plastic and don't stay in place when I tune.  That's definitely a problem.  Nevertheless, I think I'll see how I'm doing in another couple weeks before I decide if investing in an entry-level uke is wise.

But let me tell you, I've already got my eye on this little number:

Lanikai LU-21C Concert Ukulele
Part #: 302530
List Price: $119.99
Your Price: $79.00
Inventory Status: Available

And if I go through with this, it will take every fiber of my being not to get one of these (I think you know why):

Thursday, February 25, 2010

To Save 15 Bones

Through a series of mistakes and miscalculations, I ended up missing my bus and had to drive my car in to school this morning and park it on one of the university parking ramps.   Thursdays are my crap days anyway -- I usually arrive on campus around 8am and have back-to-back-to-back obligations until after 6pm.  And just so you know, it is nearly impossible to plan, pack, and lug around the amount of food a day of this length requires, since I don't stay in one place all day.

Today, however, would be even longer -- I caught a poetry slam that lasted until after 7. (It was AWESOME, by the way.  I'm attending a free writing workshop they're putting on tomorrow at the library.) I actually had a short break just before their performance, and I wanted to go home and get some dinner...except that it would cost me $15 duckets to get my car out of the ramp!  Screw that!   They stop monitoring the ramp at midnight -- then I can get the damn car out for free.

But to stay until midnight, I'd still need to go home to get the power pack for my laptop and workout clothes.  So I took the bus home anyway, gathered up all my stuff, and then caught the next bus back to campus.  Despite my ambitions to be productive, I am dead on my feet nonetheless.  I have no desire to exercise, so I'm counting the 30-minute walk to and from the bus stop as my workout.   Actually, being on foot in the cold night air was peacefully invigorating, if that's possible. Though it had "cold and lonely" written all over it, I really enjoyed waiting for the bus alone in the dark. 

The walk across campus to the student union was also pretty fantastic -- though I nearly froze my fingers off to get a photo of the capitol building that even approached being in focus.  Worth it, anyway.

But now, despite drinking down a large coffee, I can barely keep my eyes open except to look longingly at my car, trapped on the third level of the parking ramp for another hour and a half.

I wanna go home and go to bed!

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Riot Proof (Or, Scrappy Is As Scrappy Doo)

This is a view from the steps of the Old Capitol building.  Just beyond the trees, you can see two brick buildings.  Actually, you can see the one brick building with all the windows, but the other -- the massive brick blob -- somehow manages to disappear behind the one tree in the foreground that doesn't have any leaves.  This is the building that houses my department and my office.  And it was designed to be riot proof.

That's right.

It was apparently built at the tail-end or right after that period in history when college students paid attention to the world around them, got pissed, and took potentially destructive action. With the exception of faculty offices, you can only see out if you stay near the doors.  Every door in the building is a fire door, so leaving my office to go to the restroom is a workout.  Similarly, the first floor is laid out in a such a pattern with oddly-angled turns such that one becomes disoriented in the building very easily.  Students can almost never find their instructors' offices -- or even the department office at times!  It took me the better part of a semester to match the specific portions of the inside to their outside-world counterparts, and correctly identify which of four unevenly placed exit doors connected them.

During my first year, I don't know how many times I ended up walking 3/4 of the way around the building because I could never be sure which was the shortest path between the part of the building where I was standing and where I wanted to end up.

A perfect physical representation of the problem I have with academia in general.

I took this picture the same day that two emails went out over the grad student listserv "encouraging" more attendance at department seminar.

More concerned about being considered a "great thinker" than they are with doing the kind of thinking (or ACTING, for that matter) that might actually do someone any good.

When I Heard the Learn'd Astronomer
                                                          by Walt Whitman
When I heard the learn’d astronomer;
When the proofs, the figures, were ranged in columns before me;
When I was shown the charts and the diagrams, to add, divide, and measure them;
When I, sitting, heard the astronomer, where he lectured with much applause in the lecture-room,
How soon, unaccountable, I became tired and sick;
Till rising and gliding out, I wander’d off by myself,
In the mystical moist night-air, and from time to time,
Look’d up in perfect silence at the stars.

"I love you, Walt freakin' Whitman!"

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Mornings with Dinah (Or, Serenity WOW!)


The song Dinah was named after -- it captures her little personality so well!

I try to do yoga every morning, and these days it has turned into quiet time with Dinah. When I first started, toward the end of my time in New Mexico, I still had all three dogs.  Even though I wanted them to hang out during yoga time, that proved an impossibility.  I don't know if you've ever tried to lay on the floor when dogs are in the room, but they lose their shit.  "Oh my Gawd, she's on the floor!  Let's go put our snoots in her face!"  Of course, this never happened when I wanted to sleep on the floor with them -- they'd trot off to their respective beds.  But if I got on the floor with any sense of purpose (crunches, yoga), it was like feeding time at the koi pond.

Anyway, I can still hear Dinah's little paws on the yoga mat.  They made this hollow sound that the other two dogs were too heavy to make.  When I'm doing my morning yoga routine, my mind usually wanders off to New Mexico and Dinah's paws.  It's a good way to start the day.

As serene as that sounds, my mind usually ends up in the land of wiener dog races, and I can't help but laugh.  You know how dogs get feisty sometimes and then sprint on an invented loop in the house for what seems like no reason?  Well, when Dinah did it, she'd hunker her rear end down like a motorboat.

If you know what's good for you, you'll press play while you read the next bit.

One day I came home from work when she and Rocky were in mid-chase.  Dinah came flying out of the hallway with the crazy-eye and her tongue flying, with Rocky right on her tail.  As they crossed the living room, I thought they would turn around in front of the coffee table. BUT NO!  Dinah leaped onto the table, over the bottom cushions of the couch, and then  -- turning her body in mid-air -- banked off the back cushions and ran back from whence she came!  EGADS! And Rocky, being more potato-y than Dinah, followed suit only without the acrobatics -- his paws clobbered every. single. surface.

Of course, Boots could see that this was lots of fun and wanted to join in.  But she was even bigger and more lumbering than Rocky. All she could manage was to bounce her front paws a few times in the direction the other two just ran before they turned and were headed back toward her. This effectively turned her back half into a pivot, and she just hopped her front half back and forth barking her head off as the other two dogs whizzed by. 

Suddenly, the claw marks on the coffee table made sense, and the mystery of how stacks of student papers ended up strewn all over the living room was solved.  OH MY GAWD, those dogs were so damn funny together.  They didn't do this very often when I was home -- I certainly never saw the ninja couch turn -- but they obviously spent a lot of their time alone entertaining themselves this way.  I miss them all!

Monday, February 22, 2010

A Voice Like Buttah

“For singer/songwriter Carrie Newcomer, beauty is discovered in the midst of the ordinary. Life is experienced in the spaces between darkness and light. Truth is found in the bond between music and word. On one level, the listener experiences these types of connections through Newcomer’s lyrics, which explore life with a progressive spiritual sensibility. In a world that encourages us to move faster and think bigger, Newcomer invites the listener to slow down and reflect on the small things that make life worthwhile. For her, ‘songwriting is not about being clever, flashy or fancy—it is about telling a compelling story in language and music with elegance and clarity.’ The result is a resonant soundtrack for a world that is both sacred and ordinary.”