It hasn’t been really cold out recently. Have you noticed? I’ve enjoyed it, actually, as it provides some wonderful weather for my morning ritual of coffee, a quick fix and squirrel watching. They’re really bizarre, I wish you could see it. They like to chase all the birds out of the trees and while I don’t find it particularly nice, it is only in their nature and they do not know any better for they are just squirrels. And besides, the birds can fly south, if they really wanted to get away from nut-grubbing little rodents.

The past few months have been strange and lost, all kind of blurring into one big mess of days and emotions. I’ve never felt more free, but there’s a loneliness in the freedom of embracing the open-ended nature of the entire world and the rest of your life. It isn’t warm and it never fulfills and I am not sure why, but maybe that’s just the nature of the whole wide world, and I shouldn’t begrudge it that.

California comes next week, and it comes somewhat uninvited. I’ve grown tired of the depth of the valley and its big heavy, thick blanket. I am unexcited by light pollution and obligatory aspects of Being There. I miss my family, dearly, and cannot wait to spend Christmas morning with them, but dread the lack of breathing room and the inability to relax makes me tired just thinking about it. But it’s only in the nature of going home, so what am I fighting it for?

It is silly to predicate something like love on the existence of a soul, especially when you both know that it’s only cells in various arrangements. But it’s nice to think of something indescribable like that, when you see the eyes of someone you love reflect your hopes and the beauty of your future. It’s whimsical and makes the most rational of folks irrational beings for a blip on the timeline. How terrible. But I guess it’s in our nature.

I don’t really care how terrible this post is. Suck it.

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I know I may be jumping the gun a bit here, but I am so not ready for winter. I know I’ve mentioned it before, but the last month and a half of summer was so energizing! I felt myself break a little bit when I realized that goodness was getting swallowed up by the presence of grad school. But, as we embrace you, Rainy Monday (and a week that looks as if it is going to be similarly rainy), it is hitting me full-force, for the first time in my adult life, that I am positively dreading the change in seasons, specifically knowing that every day wintertime gets a little bit closer. The days are getting too short, the cicadas have quieted and we’re all getting ready to settle in for a winter’s nap.

I want to resist the nap this year, big time.

So what are we going to do?
I want your help friends. I want to hear what gets you through the gloom and drear of winter. What makes you look forward to winter?

wtwta1wtwta2

I want to hug him.

Added:

Maxmaxmonster

(This is, without a doubt, a completely complete example of this blog’s very namesake. And the worst kind, too.)

The Plan is as follows: In a little over two years from now, I will have attianed my Master’s Degree. 

The Plan will be executed by: A strong investment of my brain and heart into becoming a Lady Scholar of the highest degree and henceforth being able to ‘sow my brain seeds’ into the malleable minds of young college students and colleagues.

In consulting what my Plan is, the reality of the failure of even those best laid is apparent and everywhere.  If I may direct you to Antoni Gaudí, for a moment, the original architect of the unfinished masterpiece Templo Expiatorio de la Sagrada Familia, located in Barcelona, Spain.

Antoni’s opus. A massive structure that is far more impressive than you’re giving it credit for. While it is difficult to imagine the course of his life went according to plan, after the beginning of the construction of the cathedral leading up to his death in 1926, his blueprints were destroyed during the Spanish Civil War by anarchists. Hope, be lost?  Plans, be damned! Construction on the cathedral continues to this day and as it approaches its 140th birthday in 2026, it shall be finished (I am sure the residents of Barcelona have heard this one before).

But it’s beautiful, no? Aside from the fact that I highly doubt the Spanish Government really wants a gargantuan, unfinished, “witch castle” in their midst, there’s a certain romanticism about a postmortem continuation of plans, even if they stray from their original intention (Hendricks, 2009). It would be easy to allow something such as death and the burning of blueprints to get in the way of completion, but we press on, still, and follow through, ever aware of the likelihood that even this present architect may not live to see the day when steel cranes and wooden scaffolds no longer scrape the sky along side massive spires and ornate decoration.

So, what does that mean to me? Basically that I realize the importance of plans and their value, but also the value in their potentially ephemeral nature. I am noted by some (myself), as being a lover of plans, lists, ideas, future-minded thinking. While obtaining a Master’s involves slightly more planning than say, a weekly investment in my mental health by committing to a strict regimen of yoga and meditation, it is nonetheless susceptible to the same fate as other Plans.

This does not distress me, because Epicurus (who is swiftly becoming my favorite Greek) tells me it should not.

Plans are nice and have the potential to add great joy to your life, they also can create misery, pain, suffering and strife. Well, as can everything, I suppose, but these things matter not. Epicurus lived his life believing in the value of pleasure and doing what brings you pleasure, like creating cathedrals that may never be completed.  And while I am not well-read in Classics, nor Epicurus, nor Architecture, nor Gaudi (thanks, Wikipedia!), I can read well.  And I can copy and paste well, too.

For Epicurus, the purpose of philosophy was to attain the happy, tranquil life, characterized by ataraxia, peace and freedom from fear, and “aponia”, the absence of pain, and by living a self-sufficient life surrounded by friends.

At the outset, this was to be an entry about my renewed career as a student and my passion and love for all things Academic (I even researched the etymology) and it didn’t even really end up there either. How’s that for an example.

 Plans, as small or as big as they seem will fall apart. You will die with uncompleted projects, some worthy of being continued by others, mostly not. This is not cause for distress or for fear or any other negative emotion that will take away from one moment of your ataraxia.  Do what you will with whatever you will, but seek pleasure! To me, the tragedy in Gaudi’s plans are not that they were uncompleted upon his death, but that his sole-investment in their progress near the end of his life put him into seclusion, away from camaraderie and basic and simple pleasures we are able to pull from life.

When I am older, I want to have the following clarity, which is taken from a letter written by Epicurus to Idomeneus, as Epicurus lie in his death bed without child or wife, suffering from kidney stones:

“I have written this letter to you on a happy day to me, which is also the last day of my life. For I have been attacked by a painful inability to urinate, and also dysentery, so violent that nothing can be added to the violence of my sufferings. But the cheerfulness of my mind, which comes from the recollection of all my philosophical contemplation, counterbalances all these afflictions.

To live, to live with pleasure and to live well.

Let’s plan on it.

I haven’t written about music in a while.

In the age of the chelseaPod, I have realized that on most days, I have more music than I know what to do with. Two, three, four-thousand songs on one little device? I always find it amusing that iTunes is snarky enough to tell me just how much of my life I would spend if I listened to my entire catalogue, soup to nuts, in a single sitting. “You would miss 5 days, 4 hours, 23 minutes of your life if you started now and did not stop.” Well, that’s okay. While music is  important and truth on all fronts, not everything in my catalogue grabs me to the point that I would be unable to let it ride and listen to the thing straight through for those 5 and a quarter days.  In fact, I challenge most people to sit down with their iPod on shuffle and let it go for 10 songs and not find yourself feeling the need to hit skip. Fine, 15, for good measure.

The point of this ramble being that we don’t stumble across that album that you can listen to constantly and forevermore often enough. We find lots of things that we like, but to name albums that you can listen to top to bottom, over and over can become somewhat of a challenge, especially in a time when getting music is made so simple by having a boyfriend who is prolific and incredibly efficient at using music downloading software.  Suddenly, you look at the calendar and, surprise, you do not have 5 days, 4 hours and 23 minutes to sit down and pass judgment on everything and discriminate your tastes.

But, sometimes there’s an album… sometimes… there’s an album (I’m channeling Sam Elliot here, work with me) that shakes you to your core and grabs you by the ears and says “Listen! And feel! And move! And drive faster! It’s time!”

This summer, I discovered That Album and it is Wilco’s 2007 Sky Blue Sky.

My immediate association with Wilco is working at Tower Records in 2004 when A Ghost is Born was released and on a superficial level being drawn to the album for its artwork.  When my friend and co-worker began playing it on the floor constantly, I was drawn, like moth to flame, and found myself all a flutter by feeling feelings that music is supposed to make you feel, all the time. “At Least That’s What You Said” is almost too perfect of an opening track for an album. Tweedy’s voice cracks the door with a sweetness and vulnerability that’s lets you in, slow and steady, but then sneaks in that electric guitar riff and drum beat that tears it open a little bit more to the point where you’re hooked and committed for twelve tracks.  I learned quickly that I cannot read, converse, nor be productive on any front while listening to this album. It commands your attention and you’re an utter fool to ignore the call.

But anyone who has heard the album knows that and knows that’s the style of this band that packs some serious punch in all of their endeavors.

Back in the beginning of August, I was sitting at my desk and jonesing for something to listen to and walked out to the CDs, and maybe it was divine intervention, but Sky Blue Sky was sitting there, waiting to be plucked off the shelf by some unsuspecting Children’s Programmer. ‘Twas me!

I came back to my desk, fired up the old Windows Media Player and let it go to town.  The next few minutes were a blur of real life and the sharpest focus on what was coming through my headphones. “Either Way,” the opening track, holds onto that same sweetness which opens AGIB, but it’s brighter, more hopeful and seemingly complete, with the slick and easy guitar addition of Nels Cline (personal hero and favorite), only until it blends into the second track. “You Are My Face,” is a sweet and simple song that hides little deep pockets of sounds and sass, lyrically and otherwise, promoting a trend that carries on for the entire record.

There’s something almost otherworldly about the way I felt *really* hearing this album for the first time on a sunny Friday in early-August. Driving with windows down and the amp up to 11, and allowing tracks like “Shake it Off” and “Walken” completely light up my insides and made it impossible for me to want to do anything other than hear these songs on this album, right now.  The energy was paralyzing. Even when Tweedy’s lyrics turn more melancholy and soulful, like in “Hate it Here,” there’s something hopeful, not necessarily from the lyrics themselves (which are just as sad as they are sweetly awkward), but from the reminder of honest, straightforwardness that can come through in song, if you let it.

My absolute favorite track is “Walken,” which boasts lyrics of a routine hazy confusion, that is even echoed in the basic tonk of the opening chords and notes, but when the chorus breaks in, so does certainty and a howling call-and-response guitar part accompanied with clarity and truth, “The more I think about it, the more I know it’s true. The more I think about it, I’m sure it’s you. Honey, I think you’re just right. You’re just right.”

To me, this song ties together a big theme throughout the album; the exhaustion of running around your own brain, the often erratic and numbing thoughts that we can experience when trapped inside ourselves, and then, when accompanied by the right blends of lap steel guitar, that Big Wilco sound and the skill of writing near-perfect pop songs, the startling clarity and brightness can push out the heaviest of clouds. Sky Blue Sky might not be the best album you’ve ever heard, but when you realize what music is meant to be, above all things, Truth…

You’re just right, Wilco. You’re just right.

(Oh, and, did you know that you can listen to every Wilco album (except the S/T) on their website? Fo’ free? Well, you do now.)

Greetings, Friendlings! How are you?!

I am well and lazy and am coming off of a lovely week-long vacation from life and worry. It’s wonderfully refreshing and while the physical aspect of vacation has departed, I am sticking to a regimen of not allowing the mental taste to stray too far from my memory. Wonderous!

I am moving this weekend with two wonderful ladies into an adorable little house that is located in the “hip” part of town. A part of town that will offer no assistance when consulting my desires to shop/eat out/drink and give in to vice. But I must resist, most of the time, and stick to my guns for one week from today I have my first class as a grad student at NKU! Today is my orientation and while I am not looking forward to droning speeches and shitty powerpoint presentations, I am looking forward to getting my books and hitting them moderately hard starting next week.

Summer is winding down, kids. One more week for us Norse and it’s looking like there’s gotta be some good old fashioned fun left in the Ol’ Summer Cannon.  While the beginning of this summer was rough and rocky, the last month or so of it has been on the up and up and I do think we should continue this trend. Wine? Fine dining? Park-day laziness? Films? ROLLERSKATING?

Oh, options.

calvinandhobbesToday is good, Friends. Ya know?

  1. The healing powers of the written word.
  2. Cheese. Most of the time.
  3. The color green.
  4. Bird noises in the morning.
  5. The persistence of ants.
  6. Cheap wine and winding conversations.
  7. The accessibility of photography.
  8. Believing in your own dreams, but the amazement and awe that can come when you realize someone else believes in them, too.
  9. Smiling without your mouth.
  10. Our ever-present elasticity and ability to grow, move, experience and change.

What logical explanation could there be for me to finally see a need to dust off the old blogging hat and once again grace the interwebs with my words! Nothing.

Not nothing in the sense that there is an emptiness or boredom or realization that I have a blog and nothing with which to fill it, but nothing is something to celebrate, I think. Too much something, these days and not enough nothing.

Okay. I’ll take a step back. Recently, Stephen has adopted the most admirable and wonderful talent of pushing himself to read at least the entire front section of the New York Times (Do I need more reasons to adore this kid?). Something that few attempt and even less complete at the age of 21. One of his favorite sections is the OpEds and I cannot blame him. Wit and honesty and sometimes humor is something that can get lost in 24 pages of daily news roundups and it’s a refreshing and easy to read informative section. Don’t get me wrong, I love Salon.com, which is all Opinion, all the time, but seldom do I venture over to the Times for a healthy dose of New York spunk. And with the “death” of print journalism, I figure I should support it while I can.

Today I stumbled across an editorial section called Happy Days: The Joy of Less. Read it, once you get the moment.

Iyer is an American Journalist currently living the life of the moment in Kyoto. He isn’t addicted to his iPhone, or nervous about a car payment or mortgage, quite simply because these things do not exist to him. He is not a millionaire yearning to be a billionaire or a 20-something nervous about what their retirement fund is going to be made out of. He is living for today, not the future. And like many, he’s lost a lot of his savings in the past year or so, but he’s okay, he’s living and he’s enjoying. I cannot say that for myself and I haven’t even lost that much.

I found myself envious of his lifestyle and then found myself fantasizing of the idea of not having to pay bills because I didn’t have any and what my life would be like were that the case. To be able to completely drop out and join the ranks of the elite; Those wealthy in mind, body and soul, not material things.

When I was in Argentina I remember being surprised at how happy everyone was. So much that we use to define our happiness (techno gadgets, nice cars, luxurious vacations) were absent from their lives, but they were happier than almost any American I had come across. They weren’t worried about the things we worry about because they didn’t have them in the first place.

Now, I’m not about to chuck my television out the window and drown my cell phone in the Ohio River, but maybe I should. Instead, for now, I am going to pay attention to what today is telling me and drown out the incessant nagging of tomorrow and the day after. Life is far to short to boggle our brains with things that may not last through the end of the week. So, I’ll sit on my porch, read a book, listen to a rainstorm and love the life of today and the people I am lucky enough to share it with and slowly, over time, become one of the elite.

Also! I have been checking out some new music lately:
1. Juana Molina- Un Dia
2. Coconut Records- Davy
3. Sara Watkins- (Self Titled)
4. PJ Harvey & John Parish- A Man and a Woman Walked By
5. Death Cab For Cutie- The Open Door EP
6. Yeah Yeah Yeahs- It’s Blitz!
7. She & Him- Volume One (I know, not new, but I’m behind)

Hopefully this is some sort of motivation to write something? Time shall tell…

One of my favorite memories is one from Summer of 2006, standing in a field with some new friends in the middle of Northeast Argentina, a little tipsy on fantastic Argentine wine and just looking up. It was the stuff of legend. When one has spent their entire life looking at a Northern Hemisphere night sky polluted by city light, there is nothing quite like being out there in the middle of nowhere, with no major cities for hundreds of miles and just looking Up. The sky was so clear, you could see belts and shooting stars and beautiful decorations and patterns that were ever changing. One of the coolest parts was that you could see satellites scraping their way through the night sky. So beautiful. So amazing.

Anyway, one of my favorite websites is spaceweather.com. They often have neat information on when and where to look for fun happenings in the night sky. Very neat stuff. Anyway, I also found a link on their website for the best time, in your zip code, to catch a satellite flyby. And it looks like the International Space Station is going to be gracing our skies in the next few days. How neat!

So check it out and look up, Kid.