12 August, 2015

Proof of life

Does anyone still blog? Is this still a thing? Because I'm considering picking up where I am and carrying on, either here or on another platform. Pondering...

06 December, 2012

Reading: Team of Rivals by Kearns Goodwin; A Death in the Family by Agee (Both excellent!)

Gracious! What are you still doing here?
I'm talking a bit to the blog and a bit to those of you who keep checking in here no matter how long I'm away. I don't know who you are or how you ended up here, but welcome.

I've been putting my energies elsewhere and have been hesitant to put anything out there, but things are slowly shifting and I believe a change of some sort is coming.

At the moment, I am in my sweats (plain, grey sweats only being available now in the men's department for some reason), drinking PG Tips from a Ball jar, and bemoaning what feels to be my fate. It's early but already winter dark on a mildly cold night that feels worse thanks to a half-hearted rain.

I returned to the States wanting to be part of a community in the South, where I was born & raised, and work to make some sort of a difference. I don't feel I've succeeded at any of it so far. I suppose I am part of my community and I'm definitely out there, involved, doing, but it all feels very...I don't know. I still feel like a temp. And I haven't really done anything; haven't accomplished anything. Everything feels like it could disappear when I wake tomorrow with a discomfitingly slight "Poof." Still feeling like I don't know where I fit.

I also wanted to finally focus much of my life on the stillness practice to create through my writing and photography. That's proceeded unevenly, at best. Some of it is my characteristic inability to focus and some is, I suspect, the result of goal #1. It's easy to let the negative overwhelm and smother the things that truly give you meaning.

There's a scene in the film Basquiat where Jean-Michel tells art dealer & promoter Rene Ricard that he's going to take a break from painting for band practice with friends:

Fuck band practice... If you're gonna be a 
painter you're gonna have to break a few 
hearts – you don't wanna be like Tony 

Tony Bennett... What do you mean?

Singing on stage and painting in your 
spare time.

I didn't know Tony Bennett painted.

My point exactly.

And I think that's where I am. Again. Fish. Or cut bait. I'm not talking about judgements of good or bad work. I'm talking about hungering for the practice of something. My job pays the bills (because I make sure to have none) and will, hopefully, lead me to get out from under my fabulously useless graduate school debt eventually. It also provides health insurance and, because my paycheck is so low, they threw in housing on-site at the center. People ask where I live and then politely smile and make jokes about how great my commute must be when I tell them I literally live at work. I have to. I know I am luckier than many out there. Still, I do not fit here, that's been made clear to me on several counts, and honest pay and a secure space of my own would feel like winning the lottery at present. Many lessons learned in all of this though.

This isn't a play for sympathy. It's not about blame (but I am quite a bit about self-blame at the moment) or anything like that. I'm just thinking and writing, writing and thinking. And writing is one of the things I have at the moment that is truly mine. It's been one of my few constants forever and I've too often neglected it.

I'm tired of always feeling like I am courting those I meet. There feels a bit of a correlation between the social scene I've experienced with wealthy relatives and some of the circles I've floated in lately. And I'm quite a bit over it. I am tried of trying to find angles, ins. I am tired of not speaking my mind for not saying the "correct" thing. That your entire life feels like a job interview is a tedious thing. It would be great just to meet people as you are and they are, but it so rarely feels that way. Atop that, I am really tired of that sucking chest wound sensation, that dull, slow-motion heaviness, the occasional breathlessness of feeling trapped.  

I've been here before, too many times. It all feels just a bit different this time. I don't know quite how or why yet. Perhaps it's simply wishful, delusional thinking. I'd like to put down the burdens, sit a spell, stay awhile. But I don't think I can yet.

So as the year comes to a close and another one rolls in I'm going to pull back, way back, from a lot of things and re-assess. This is not the life I want. That life will not simply be bestowed. Questions for right now: What do you want? What's the vision? How do you create that life? How do you survive in that life? What's step one? 

That's the assignment. And there's no curve.
Time starts now.

07 May, 2012

Where I'm At

 Received this from a friend and it speaks so perfectly to where I am in my life:
“Be wild; that is how to clear the river. The river does not flow in polluted, we manage that.          The river does not dry up, we block it. If we want to allow it its freedom, we have to allow our ideational lives to be let loose, to stream, letting anything come, initially censoring nothing.           That is creative life. It is made up of divine paradox. To create one must be willing to be stone stupid, to sit upon a throne on top of a jackass and spill rubies from one’s mouth. Then the river will flow, then we can stand in the stream of it raining down.”
                                                                                                                 Clarissa Pinkola Estes

23 April, 2012


Men and women,
thick and sinewy
in silver tones,
assemble the pieces:


The people,
like the automobiles they construct,
have a heft to them.
They fill their spaces solidly
as the image coalesces.

Photography started with ghosts.
Shadows caught in the long exposures
later begat certainties.
And amid the flood of images now,
ghosts of inconsequentiality.

You can believe
in these people,
in this image.
You know
they once stood this ground.
You know
their hands posses knowledge we lack.

How to build things?
Hands moving
as birds before winter.
or always known?

They do not stop for smiles,
strength and yet ease in their stance,
a natural testament
to something I can’t recognize
on this side of the century mark.

And then they vanish.
The spaces barren.
Even emptiness
cannot fully convey.

Their structures remain,
wounded and skeletal
Worn cadavers
Death is organic
and comes in stages.
Just as the worker is lost
without work
This place feels lost
without workers
The rag pickers
scour the battlefield
and leave the bloody corpses
to rot.

18 April, 2012

A Word from Harry

"I wish more people felt that photography was an adventure the same as life itself and felt their individual feelings were worth expressing. To me that makes photography more exciting."
- Harry Callahan

16 April, 2012

Finding & Losing Your Voice

Just finished: On Photography by Sontag
Reading: A Room of One's Own by Woolf
On Deck: Twilight by Gay (with 100% less vamps & werewolves than in similarly-titled novels)
Recent impulse buy: The Horse Latitudes by Muldoon in hardback for $6
New & good: Valdeon, a cheese from Spain & serious challenge to my love of Fourme d'Ambert
Listening to: John Cage (fits well during illness)

A woman is singing a rising gospel song down at the bus stop outside my window, oblivious to the rain, the manic traffic on Southside, or the rattle of the air compressor in the construction zone out front. And I suppose that's as good as anywhere to pick up the story. It's a dark Monday, but aren't they all? Except this time I'm enjoying things from my tiny bed thanks to some sort of Springtime sinus mess that's finally left me literally speechless after about 48 hours and hacking like a patient in a TB sanatorium. Not quite Mimi, but then, there's seems no Rodolfo to be found for me either.

I've been away from these parts for quite a while and I believe that's been a good thing.  I'm not entirely sure what I'm doing back here; maybe it's due to losing my audible voice and just wanting to be able to heard somehow. You don't realize how dependent you are on your voice, how much you really speak, until times like this. And you don't understand the power of silence within the crowd. By Saturday night my voice was shot, but I'd gone out with friends and done my best to persevere and be social, especially since I was blessed with meeting some new folks whose company and spirits I truly enjoyed. 

We ended up back at my friends' apartment building, a looming, ramshackle old home in the Highlands that, like so many, have been carved up for modern living and abandoned to the elements in favor of easy, cheap rents. People gathered around the fire pit in the small back yard, the group ebbing & flowing from hidden passages to neighboring properties, and settled in for a long, pleasant night. At this point, having introduced myself to newcomers and refreshed greetings with others, I went silent and enjoyed the warmth of the fire, the smell of the smoke, and listening to the leaves in the breeze and the new faces around me. 

After a few hours, one man from the big city who has deigned to spend the summer in our little town and who kept goading me into telling stories earlier in the evening because he liked the new sound of my voice finally was silent enough himself to notice the stillness in that moment. It didn't last: "Scratchy voice lady (the only way he referred to me all evening), you're not talking anymore. Why aren't you talking? I like the way your voice sounds. Are you not talking because it hurts? Say something! You know my sister's voice sounds just like yours but all the time(the fifth time he'd mentioned this), so I feel some sort of kinship with you." All the words tumbled forth towards me in rapid succession through the wood smoke. I responded with more silence and a facial expression of waning bemusement and slight weariness (though sometimes my attempts at such expressions fail and tip into general annoyance). 

"Does your throat hurt?" he asked again, squinting his eyes and tipping his head to one side at the question as if speaking to an uncomprehending child. "Why won't you talk? You're so quiet."

"Of course her throat hurts," said one of the other residents, a small, slight young woman who I had bonded with over a mutual preference for film over digital photography earlier in the evening. "And I say her presence alone is more than enough," she said, staring across the fire at the man while rubbing my shoulder reassuringly before returning to tend the fire.

So, today, I'm keeping myself home to try and finally kick whatever this is that's ailing me. And to avoid anyone else asking me "What?" when I try to speak. Sadly, they aren't kidding, just not thinking.

Paid work aside for the time being, I've been writing, but it's still a bit scatter shot as I continue to settle in and get try to sort my balance here. Really have to find a system to catalog and order all the ideas. I think moving out of the center (living at work is not simply a metaphor for me) and into my own space, despite my finite financial resources for the foreseeable future, is a big part of that balance & order. And I've been doing some of this. Some creative projects have been percolating in my brain. And I've been getting a start on being a creative & activ(ist) member of my broader community.

So, yes, I'm back, for better or worse. And I'll be plumbing depths of great and lesser fathom again. Thanks for bearing with me, even if all y'all insist on remaining silent. Your presence is sufficient.

03 November, 2011

"Where poor people are treated like the enemy..."

It's a tight race between this song and "This F***ing Job" by Drive-By Truckers for my nomination for our new national anthem.
I can't find a great video of her performing this song (here's one though), so here are the lyrics. In fairness, here are the DBT lyrics.
Released back in 1996 and just as damned spot on perfect today as ever. 
Given the report out from Brookings regarding the reemergence of concentrated poverty in this country (well worth anyone's time), seems a fitting song for the day.

Iris DeMent, "Living in the Wasteland of the Free"

We got preachers dealing in politics and diamond mines
and their speech is growing increasingly unkind
They say they are Christ's disciples
but they don't look like Jesus to me
and it feels like I am living in the wasteland of the free

We got politicians running races on corporate cash
Now don't tell me they don't turn around and kiss them peoples' ass
You may call me old-fashioned
but that don't fit my picture of a true democracy
and it feels like I am living in the wasteland of the free

We got CEO's making two hundred times the workers' pay
but they'll fight like hell against raising the minimum wage
and If you don't like it, mister, they'll ship your job
to some third-world country 'cross the sea
and it feels like I am living in the wasteland of the free

Living in the wasteland of the free
where the poor have now become the enemy
Let's blame our troubles on the weak ones
Sounds like some kind of Hitler remedy
Living in the wasteland of the free

We got little kids with guns fighting inner city wars
So what do we do, we put these little kids behind prison doors
and we call ourselves the advanced civilization
that sounds like crap to me
and it feels like I am living in the wasteland of the free

We got high-school kids running 'round in Calvin Klein and Guess
who cannot pass a sixth-grade reading test
but if you ask them, they can tell you
the name of every crotch on MTV
and it feels like I am living in the wasteland of the free

We kill for oil, then we throw a party when we win
Some guy refuses to fight, and we call that the sin
but he's standing up for what he believes in
and that seems pretty damned American to me
and it feels like I am living in the wasteland of the free

Living in the wasteland of the free
where the poor have now become the enemy
Let's blame our troubles on the weak ones
Sounds like some kind of Hitler remedy
Living in the wasteland of the free

While we sit gloating in our greatness
justice is sinking to the bottom of the sea
Living in the wasteland of the free
Living in the wasteland of the free
Living in the wasteland of the free


08 October, 2011

Visual Aids

Modern Living II by Taromeet
Modern Living II, a photo by Taromeet on Flickr.
Been on a bit of a writing tear, working on some stories that have been festering in my head for too long. Also been out in the wilds backpacking. Until I string some words together here, I'll try to placate you with some new images over on my Flickr page.

15 September, 2011

A Must-Read

This was shared by a friend and though I posted it to Twitter and FB, I believe it needs to be read. Please pass it along.
Know your rights.

Some real Shock and Awe: Racially profiled and cuffed in Detroit 

11 September, 2011

New (old) city, new start...

Reading: Sandman Vol 1 by Gaiman, et al; Regeneration Through Violence by Slotkin; Reading Like a Writer by Prose
Listening to: Lots of Woody Guthrie (as always); Mitch Barrett
Recently enjoyed: Clear Creek (KY) Festival '11

I've sort of flown the white flag on today, but that's alright. My playing hermit today will hopefully help me  finally get started with some sort of routine to help me get some things moving in life, not the least of which being my own physical form.

Things have come some sort of full-circle and I'm back in Louisville, where I lived when I started this blog in 2005. I was offered a position with a scrappy community center on the southside that serves a low-income neighborhood that has a significant refugee population. The director, very much an old-school, roll-up-your-sleeves sort of social worker, knows me well and offered an immediate solution with some interesting possibilities for the future. I'll be stepping back and working the office, for now, while also taking on a slew of projects large and small. Over the next several months I'll be transitioning into the position of Community & Family Liaison. Other than getting me back out in the community, the position is a new one for the center and I'll get to have a say shaping just what my role will be. What I do know is that I'll be working with the local international community; families who use our center; city, state & agency/nonprofit representatives and more. I'll be blogging more about our programs and future goals and plans as I go.

For the foreseeable future I am actually living at the center, which used to be a small Catholic school. The living quarters were for the nuns and everyone still refers to it as the convent. That I, once referred to by a nun at school as the "Spawn of Satan," am now living in a convent (former though it may be), is a source of amusement to many. Two Americorps volunteers live in the apartment as well and it all seems to work alright. It's actually a nice space and having grown out of a certain level of materialism I truly enjoy the limited space. The whole thing feels very Jane Adams/Hull House-ish at times, which is a good thing in my book.

In addition to work, I'm trying to settle in, get involved, develop a better practice of writing, and work on my photography. And I'm trying to remember to be patient with myself and the universe. I am really trying. It's nice to reconnect with the family I have here and start making new connections. I miss my ocean and my Glades, but I just couldn't find work in Florida (at least in my areas). While many complain that Louisville is a big small town, that can actually be really helpful in times like these. Add to that a great cost-of-living, active arts & activist communities, a significantly diverse international population, some amazing architecture (which I'll get around to shooting soon), and a truly local economy (locals supporting locals), it wasn't a hard decision to say "yes."

Having jumped straight into work about eight hours after arriving in town, I think today everything sort of caught up to me. Well, that and all the asado I ate at my cousin's house last night...and likely the small, but heavy desk I moved upstairs & into my room late last night. Or maybe it's the many changes, wins, loses & draws I've experienced personally over the last ten years. To quote Henry Jones, Jr., PhD: "It's not the years; it's the mileage."

For now, it's time to brew some tea and crack a book for pleasure.

25 August, 2011


Pondering lightly: Is Kovarian actually an aged Amy, at war with the Doctor and sending her daughter against him, blaming him for all she's lost in some timeline? And, something about wiping out the Silence just doesn't feel right to me. None of you know what I'm talking about, right? *sigh* Saturday, people. Saturday.

Enjoying: Irene's feeder bands and walking over to gawk at a stormy sea. Also hoping the good folks in the Bahamas made it through alright.

Car will finally be ready at the dealership tomorrow, so picking it up that evening and hitting the road for new territories and gainful employment this weekend. More news to come once I arrive at my destination. Epic day of solo driving on tap.
Cheers all.

18 August, 2011

A bit more flux

Excuse the mess as I rejigger things on the blog. I'll get everything sorted soon-ish.

I made the decision on my very own this evening to leave the state for the small city job. When I lined up everything in the here and there - the place, the job, the community, the possibilities... - the decision was vastly easier. It'll be a slim year, but a good start.

So, I'll likely leave the middle of next week. I'll share more details as I get them. I feel good about the decision, but it'll take a little time to sink in.

I wear a jetpack now. Jetpacks are cool.

This turned up on the Interwebs somewhere and I adore it. Science fiction. historical fiction. Dragons and aliens and faraway, never before places! Oh my! If it's good, it's just good fiction. Read (or watch or listen to) something you wouldn't normally reach for on the shelf and you may discover something wonderful.

Further dispatches from the job front

Another update from yet another fellow grad:

"Submitted a bunch of job applications to the cruel gaping maw of the employment market. Hopefully they won't get lost in the ether like the last two dozen."

Meanwhile, I remain in limbo for another day. The out of state job awaits and they need an answer, but I am still trying to get a decision out of the job here in my home state. I refuse to get backed into a situation where I end up with no job at all, but feel like I'm walking the edge on this. Making calls and everything will be sorted one way or another in the morning. I've just been in an utter fog this week. Even reading, which usually is a huge help to me in rough times, has been a challenge.

Fish or cut bait, world!

16 August, 2011

Bit of nonsense

So, I had to give in and buy a car after six years of traipsing about. Sadly, they're still quite a necessity in the hard-headed, auto-centric U.S. Settled on a Honda Fit: reliable, affordable, decent footprint. It'll be here by next week.

Just had to add this, as a nearly life-long Whovian: Somebody at Honda is a Doctor Who fan. Seriously. The color of my car is called Vortex Blue and is basically pearly TARDIS blue. And it's bigger on the inside.
Didn't put it together until now, but...
I am amused.