Friday, April 30, 2010

Giving Up the Ghost, Part I

Today is a beautiful day; the sun is shining, sky really blue, air dry (that's a description, not a directive). I am ready for the trip upstate.

I used to go up to Ulster County a lot, but I haven't in a minute. And you know I've been in the city for too long when I use the word "minute" to signify a long stretch of time. There's this lovely guy who sells breads and pastries at my neighborhood's farmers' market every Sunday, and through some small talk we realized that he attended the same college as me and still lives up there in Ulster. Every weekend when I walk by the market we smile to each other, wave, sometimes chat. Last weekend when I saw him, I expressed my longing for the hills, the air, the (to quote a friend) Upstate State of Mind. "Give up the ghost!" he said. I asked him what that meant, and he explained that it basically meant to just do it already.

And I am so ready. I just took a break from writing this to talk with the custodian where I work; I told him I was going upstate, and he asked what people do up there. "Chill, hike, chill..." He told me that he would go by the lake, [...], go to sleep...yeah. I really like sleeping outdoors. Let the wind wash my face, scratchy grass at my back: bring it. The sun can pour over my body, open my eyes to infinite leaves on trees; the mere thought inspires me. Onward to the Hudson Valley.

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Crazy-Making Machinery

"The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results." -Albert Einstein

This quotation seems pretty valid. I mean, Einstein: he was smart. But, computers...what the fuck? My internet connection at work has, literally, driven me insane.

When I turn on the computer at my desk in the morning, I try to get the internet to work, or go to a certain website (this one, for instance), and the site appears- for a second. Then it blinks out, reappears, and then there's be some bullshit error and the page vanishes. Over and over again. Leading me to do the same thing, over and over again, and expect different results. Until, finally, the internet works.

How do I get it to work? By doing the same thing, over and over again. (Or maybe just waiting...) But it is maddening! How am I to know which time it will work? There's no method to it at all; I just try repeatedly until it decides to correct itself. It's like gambling without all the fun of addiction.

This is only one of many trials that have led me to believe that computer technology is capable of enraging individuals in ways that only a machine can. There's no remorse, no reasoning, just cold, robotic frustration games.

I may fall particularly victim to this brand of annoyance due to my own lack of patience and understanding when it comes to new technology. My solution for most computer problems is: click repeatedly. But I don't care! I don't want to be friends with my computer- or maybe I do, but I don't want to work for the friendship. Why should I? Computer is here to serve me.

(I'm all smug now, but computer has all of these words inside of it. And when the day of reckoning comes, I could just see it now...the robot army asking me if I recall writing a certain blog...me, quaking with fear....laser beams...puppies...what?)

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Vague Return to Real Life

I thought it would be funny to find a picture of a room in a psychiatric ward with padded walls, post it on this blog, and caption it, "More Cushion for the Pushin'," but it's really hard to find a good old fashioned funny farm photo on the internet these days! Plus, my browsing history already says, "Recent searches: padded walls," and I'm at work, so...
Anything to make you people laugh.
I'm somewhat delirious; I'm a little bit sick (physically) and would rather not be at work, and I returned to a decent workspace, but I do sometimes wonder if people are capable of completing essential, mundane tasks without explicit hand-holding direction. I won't go there, though, that's not the purpose of this blog. But really, just a note: if you ever questioned your work ethic or professionalism, do not worry about it. I'm starting to believe that anyone who even considers his or her quality as a worker is probably a good one. Because some people just aren't, and I doubt it crosses their minds. I'm not saying I don't have a good staff, but after stepping up the chain of command, I can see that some folks are just confused.
On another note: I said this already, but I cannot wait to go up to the country. I need some fresh air before I lose it. Mini road trip! I need a vacation from life, and I'm not talking about death, I just mean that I need to get away without the stress of an actual vacation. I do not want to get on a plane, I don't want to spend all of my money, I just want to stand on a hill and look very, very far. It's good for the brain.
Staying home sick after the weekend can be disorienting. I am back at my desk, and I must admit that I'm grateful for this job and for the fact that I'm not in a room full of insane thirteen-year-olds. I was stressed about calling out: the entire night before last, all I dreamt about, over and over, was calling my boss to let her know that I was sick. The dreams would not cease until I made the actual phone call! I had to cross that fine line between my sleeping and waking life...
We take it for granted- the divide between our free time and our obligations. But once we get back into the grind, even if it can be a total drag, it can sometimes align us and encourage us to relish in our freedom when we do have it. I want to be able to blur this line- to feel free even when I am at work of fulfilling any of life's requirements, and not dread having to return to "real life," when my weekend's drawing to a close. I believe that with this sort of continuity, one can feel more centered, more whole. But then what of having a separate, professional self? Do these things need to contradict each other? Ahh...too much introspective nonsense. Need to go home and lie down.

Friday, April 23, 2010

Songbirds

Generally, I am partial to older music. However, I've found that much of the newer music that I enjoy is bird-centric. Look:


-Andrew Bird


-The Bird and the Bee


-Bowerbirds


-Mynabirds






Wassupwithat?

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Grow Up, Baby Mouth

That granola post was just skimming the soy-milky surface of the food topic. What I really have to say about food is simple: eat it. But I don't just mean to eat like one or two things. I mean really EAT food.

See, some people have a serious problem. It's called being a "picky eater," but that is a very generous term. These are ignorant and deprived individuals. You may be thinking, "Miss Blogger, you aren't usually so staunchly opinionated." Well, that's because this is an important cause, and it is our responsibility as open-minded, open-mouthed, thinking people to stop this epidemic.

First, we must seek out these sad louts. You may find them near McDonald's, eating fries (never a "fish" sandwich), or perhaps in the park indulging in a cheese sandwich or chicken cutlet on NOTHING with NOTHING on it. These people like chocolate chip cookies but are afraid of sauce, with the exception of ketchup. They actually LOVE ketchup, because it creates the illusion of flavor on their unlearned taste buds. They enjoy grilled cheese, but will not eat a Reuben. They damn better well like pizza. Don't even think about approaching them with curry.

These food-pussies (pardon my French) are terrified of raw fish (and, for the most part, are grossed out by cooked fish, purportedly due to "the smell"), disgusted by the texture of flan, and find spicy foods traumatizing. Essentially, they have the palates that many people outgrow by the age of seven. Not me, though, I've been indulging in shrimp and olives since I've been able to strip 'em and pit 'em. I'm not saying that we all should have been ravenous for exotic delicacies from day one, but come on, we're adults here. If we have access to delicious, mind-expanding foods, we should chomp on the opportunity!

So, here's your assignment: find one of these food-bigots, hold his or her nose, and forcibly introduce that hidebound fool to the pleasures of fine dining. Escargot, perhaps? Swiss chard, maybe? Anything that has some color or an etymological origin in another country's tongue. It's not right for these people to be missing out on such a vital visceral and cultural aspect of life in the free world.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Silly Hippie, Granola is for Everyone!

So, my last post was a bit of a cop-out, but I was listening to that great Fleetwood Mac song and wanted to post something to share my experience, so there you have it. To riff off another post, let''s take a look at dictionary.com's word of the day:

agrestic \uh-GRES-tik\, adjective:
Pertaining to fields or the country; rural; rustic.


Yes! How apt. I am dying to go to the country. I love the city, but I am beginning to unravel as spring fever sets in thicker and I look around without a hill to be found. Take me to the mountaintop! Okay, here's an anecdote of me going crazy/being funny/being a freaking hippie:

I was at the food co-op with my dear friend in the Fun Section (where you can scoop anything from colored pasta to jelly beans into plastic bags), and there were no bags for the scooping! I stood there, in the middle of the rice and the granola and the nuts, looking back and forth, trying to see if I was overlooking the obvious. But there were no plastic bags! I then exclaimed, "Am I nuts?!" I was thrilled with my cleverness. I was standing in front of nuts! Asking if I was nuts! Rich.

I was already quite pleased with myself at this point. A woman then handed me a plastic bag, thank you, and I proceeded to determine which granola was most worthy of my selection. My friend said, "How about this Goji berry granola? It looks good," to which I responded, "I don't want any of those gross hippie berries." I didn't want none of that hippie shit. Because I'm scooping granola at the food co-op. I'm no hippie.

The moral of the story: I find myself incredibly amusing, but I also may be losing it a little; hence, I need to go upstate and take a breather. Otherwise, I'll just continue my psuedo-culinary endeavors in which I try to make rice and accidentally make rice pudding with rice milk on top (yum!), or I try to steam soy milk and instead fill my apartment with soy smoke. Take it easy, zen master, you're not quite there yet.

Monday, April 19, 2010

Second Hand News


When times go bad
When times go rough
Won't you lay me down in the tall grass and let me do my stuff

Friday, April 16, 2010

Do My Dreams Feel Like Yours?


Word of the Day for Friday, April 16, 2010

oneiric \oh-NY-rik\, adjective: Of, pertaining to, or suggestive of dreams; dreamy.

Oneiric comes from Greek oneiros, "dream."

A little more on dreams, as I was thinking about it and realized that when we talk about our dreams, we never really do them justice. One can describe a dream- the sounds, the visions- but one can hardly reproduce the experience in the mind of another. Is it as important to accurately convey a dream to another individual as it is to convey a waking event? Because a dream is an experience of the mind, but waking events are largely mental experiences as well.

So, what I'm wondering is: that feeling that we have while dreaming, the mood of a dream, so to speak- is it universal, or unique to each individual? It's kind of like that question of, "Does my green look like your green?" As far as I know, there's no way to measure this, maybe through some deep discussion, or some of those neuro-electrode-thingies. I don't know. But when we talk about our dreams, there always seems to be a missing element of the narrative; at least that's the case for me. Perhaps that something is a blanket of thought, composed of other mental activity occurring during the dream, creating a kind of dull atmosphere, a residue of unconscious energy. That blurry, other-worldly experience that we vaguely recall with varying frequency and precision, what is the root of that sensation? And why do some dreams feel more "real" than others? I may have to expand upon this at a later date. Please, feedack is welcome.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Slip Inside the Eye of Your Mind

What a wonderful surprise: not only are people reading this blog, but I received a topic request! Keep 'em coming. And such an apt topic. So, here we go...

Dreams. I slept so much last night; I went to sleep around ten or eleven and woke up around eight. I swear, when I sleep too much, my dreams begin to fade into reality. I've had experiences when I've woken up and have gone downstairs to find that things were just as I had been dreaming them. Even today there was a very blurry line between my dreams and my day. This may have been because I was conscious, in my sleep, of what I should and would be doing in an hour or so. But when my dreams predict events that are not in my own control, well, that's just a little psychic.

I had some intense dreams last night. I hate to get all personal here, but I will for now, because the topic was a request and these dreams are really lingering. It bothers me when people publicize their personal journals, and I'm about to publicize a dream journal- even worse.

So, I'm recently out of a relationship, and I'm happy to be single, seriously not even considering ever getting back together with the unnamed ex. I've moved on, despite some ugly stuff that was experienced. I must be working it out in my unconscious, though, because in the past couple of nights I've had these dreams where we're back together, and it feels good in a way, but I know what I'm doing is wrong and I really don't want to be there. I could interpret this in a couple of ways: that I'm working out my past decisions and facing the feelings I was truly experiencing then, or that I'm living out my fears/desires in my dreams. Thank you, Freud.

But I had a few more visions last night/this morning. I dreamt that I was facing some contention with my mother, which seems strange, because we mostly get along great. I think this could have to do with my facing up to myself as a woman, growing into an adult, and seeing my mother as another adult. Because, in the dreams, our arguments spring out of my reaching out to her for help when I'm feeling smothered by others, men in particular. There was another part of this dream where I was fleeing people and falling missiles that were being dropped from planes. By the end of the dream, there were unwanted people clinging on to me, like the sickly people who reach on to Jesus in that scene in Jesus Christ Superstar. (I'm sure that scene's in the Bible, too.) So that felt pretty suffocating.

The final, and most liberating, vision I had was that of a trip to the mountains. I need to go upstate! I'm even dreaming of it. And in my dream, I remember saying, "I've been wanting to go to the country, and now I finally am," or something like that. And just as I type these sentences, the song "Are You Leaving for the Country?" comes onto my random hypem.com mix. You see? A sign. I've got to head for the hills.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Homework


So, I'm starting to think no one is reading this blog. And by "starting to," I mean that I don't think many people have been reading this from the start. So I'm going to give you all (being NO ONE) a homework assignment:

- read about Carl Sagan on wikipedia

- watch "In My Language" on youtube

Internet homework! How much fun is that?

Extra credit: Research the work and, more interestingly, the life of Nicolas Tesla. Much better than online shopping/fantasy football/porn.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

I'm taking requests...just not Freebird.

Well, hello there. I hope that if you are reading this you are feeling comfortable and happy. If you're not, please turn off your computer and go outside for a walk or something. Or light some candles and do some deep breathing until you decide what it is you need to do to feel nice on the inside.

I've been trying to do that sort of stuff and it is definitely working. It may not be that exciting to read about, but it's true. It's not easy to find stuff to write about every day that is blog-appropriate. I'm referring to stuff that:

- doesn't ramble on about my personal life
- isn't incriminating
- is family-friendly...ha!

But, really, this would probably be much more engaging of a read if I were to write about my personal encounters, but then who would get to read it? I could write about the crazy mom who went off on me yesterday at work (oops!), but then what if someone at work were to read this? Or I could write about...nevermind. You see? But I'm content bringing my readers along with me on my personal journey to contentitude. Feel free to join me...

I'm finding that certain facets of my life are settling into a more peaceful place as I allow myself to drop my defenses, relax, and appreciate certain people. For instance, my father. The more I spend time with him, the closer I feel to him. This is a closeness we've been cultivating for years, that I don't think either of us were particularly comfortable with all the time. But we're really similar, and when we just chill together, it's pretty nice. So I'm grateful for that.
I also have extremely lovely friends. I'm talking about very beautiful people. This is something I've been working on for a while: meeting people, forming bonds, bringing people together. I'll boast that I am quite good at bringing people together, although I used to get jealous when those people would then form bonds with each other. I'm pretty sure I'm over that.

Wow! This is completely a personal rambing. I'm breaking my own rules, not surprisingly. So let me bring it back to my metablogging. What can I write about that will be entertaining without being incriminating? How about this: if you are reading this, please leave a comment with a topic. I will write about that topic. Anything! This'll be fun.

Friday, April 9, 2010

No one, I think, is in my tree



That was the original title of this blog, a lyric from the Beatles' "Strawberry Fields Forever," my personal favorite. I've already explained why I changed the title; does it really need explanation?

I was singing with some kids today, fourth graders mostly, and I played the song for them. How did it make them feel?, I asked. One of them didn't like it because it sounded sad, and I couldn't argue with that. Then another said he didn't like it, and when I asked why, he replied that the "theme" didn't sound right, that it sounded "creepy." They're right. It is a sad, creepy song. That's why it is so great!
Ever since I was in fifth grade, I have been intrigued and bewildered by this song; I remember sitting in front of my parents' record player, listening to the Magical Mystery Tour album, repeating this track, scrawling the lyrics down in confusion. Why? Because the Beatles only included the B-side lyrics in the liner notes, or at least in my mom's copy of the record. This fascinating poem was nowhere to be found.

So I remember writing, "Always no sometimes think its me/ but you know I know and it's a dream/ That is a no I mean a yes but it's all wrong/ That is I think I disagree." What? What is John Lennon talking about? As an inquisitive eleven-year-old, I was forced to accept the nonsense and inconclusiveness of Lennon's lyrics, which were gripping in their musical context of haunting strings and backwards flutes.

Click on my Hype Machine widget to the right of this post, and you can hear various versions of this song, none of them the original release (there's a classical guitar interpretation, the Beatles' studio version sans vocals, and a Spanish ska (reggae? rocksteady?) cover, featuring Debbie Harry). I believe that they each capture the song's essence, but the instrumental Beatles one is the most powerful.

Choosing favorites is difficult, because different pieces of art serve different purposes in one's life, but this song has been with me for a while, and I won't let it go. Have I heard better songs since my first listen to this gem? Maybe, but there's something about Strawberry Fields that I'm attached to- even if its magic were to fade, I would feign it out of nostalgic love.

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Chew On This


Striving for balance seems to be an ongoing quest. What I mean is that, at least in my short experience, finding a calm place within oneself while staying motivated and stimulated is something of a slippery slope, but as long as one accepts the perpetuity of it, some kind of peace may be established. I find myself feeling good, peaceful, balanced, and thinking, "I don't want to screw with this." It's tempting to stay in a my little happy place, but I can't be afraid to move forward out of fear of tampering with perceived zen. I think I need to find a comfortable pace and create a solid home base so that I may travel through life knowing that I have something safe to return to while still taking risks.

I believe that I've been a little trapped by jumping to conclusions and viewing things in absolutes. Pushing past that, or at least trying to, has been exciting thus far, as has sharing this experience and voicing these ideas. Even if it has been obvious to many people for a long time, it's grounding to remind each other that this is a shared experience. Looking around the subway in Queens, the most diverse place on the planet, it's comforting yet confounding to find commonality with strangers who may appear to share nothing with me. But we're sharing a space, showing each other respect, participating in humanity.

Oneness in nature is easier to recognize than it is amongst people: the overlapping of tree branches, the soft green tide of leaves of grass pushed by the wind, the shared, brief blossom of magnolia trees. They all know when to act together; we are slightly more resistant. I try to focus on the patterns of nature, outside and within myself, before I allow myself to be tripped up by my thoughts again. Thinking, rethinking, analyzing, distorting- it's an alluring trap, but as I push my way through the tangled bakery string of neurosis and allow myself to fall into the rhythm of openness to the unknown, I approach calm.

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

This is why...


...I trust Cadbury more than Joyva.

Monday, April 5, 2010

I am the Cosmos


I am feeling pretty far out today. The past few days have been a whirlwind of energy and, at the risk of sounding crazy, the vibrations are shaking me in a new direction. Now, this blog is not to be about me me me me meeeee, so let me just say that I am the cosmos, and we all are, so if this spring is moving me, it must be moving others. "I Am the Cosmos" also happens to be the name of a song by Chris Bell, go to hypem.com to listen to it, or click on my sidebar----->.


The name of this blog is changing, because I was tired of saying the former name aloud, and this name is by no means permanent. It's a reference to the Van Morrison album "Astral Weeks," and it's also in honor of the ever-shifting nature of our lives and the simple fact that we're part of the cosmos. So, if you are reading this, please take a deep breath in, let it out slowly, and know that you are one with the universe.

Friday, April 2, 2010

Holy Sweets!


Mmmmm Easter candy. Nasty, sticky, finger-staining conjoined baby chicks and smushy bunnies. Hollow rabbits with hard sugar flowers stuck on their heads. Chocolate eggs that look like real eggs made of pure sugar on the inside! Thank you, Jesus. And Passover candy...mmm...chocolate-covered matzoh. Chocolate-covered marshmallows. And my personal favorite, chocolate-covered jelly rings. Okay, passover candy ultimately consists of chocolate-covered anything kosher...or does it? Perhaps I should say anything deemed kosher by anyone who possesses the authority to deem something kosher, and the pious Jews who try to get right with God around this time of year are at their mercy.
I'm Jewish, but did not grow up in a kosher home. Long story short: I came home one break from college, only to find there were labels inside the kitchen drawers and cabinets: "meat" and "dairy." When I asked my mom what was up with that, she realized that she had forgotten to mention that our home had gone kosher since I had been there last. Kosher shock. My mother had her reasons (spritual inclinations, etc.), and my stepfather (aka: The Enforcer) loves to bring plans to fruition before one can say, "Well, maybe I don't want that wall painted avocado..." They made it happen quickly, and have kept a kosher home ever since.
Every Passover, the house manages to get even more kosher: my mom and stepdad clean everything out and replace all the food with food that is expecially kosher for Passover. Blessed food. Like, no high-fructose corn syrup; hence, Coca-Cola is made with sugar instead around Passover, which is great. So of course one would feel it is safe to assume that any candies produced for Passover by Jewish companies would be KOSHER FOR PASSOVER. Au contraire, mon frere. This year, I found an interesting disclaimer on the back of the package of my beloved jelly rings, something along the lines of:

Please note: Legumous extracts, i.e. corn syrup, are deemed parve (kosher for Passover) for both Ashkinazim and Sephardim (the two main sects of Judaism) by the renowned Rabbi blah blah blah and the preeminent Rabbi whoever.


Okay, so I don't recall it verbatim, but I assure you that the words "preeminent" and "renowned" were used on the back of a box of candy, which is absurd unto itself. Now, at the end of each of the rabbi's names was the abbreviation for rabbi, like, the way that M.D. finishes off a doctor's name. So it must be very, very official. Their blessings or approvals or whatever have
the magical power to contradict kosher law. My mother wasn't even using olive oil on this holy day as per her rabbi, meanwhile the sneaky Brooklynites at the Joyva candy company were pushing corn syrup.
Springtime holiday candy is still the shit. I would just love to sit in a bed of freshly blossomed daisies while being pelted with Peeps and smothered in Cadbury creme eggs. But please don't shit on my head and tell me it's raining, Joyva jelly rings.

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Bending Time



Time flies like the wind. Fruit flies like bananas. --Groucho Marx (1890-1977)


What is time? A construct? An illusion? All we have? Don't think too hard about it; it's the way we break down our spinning course through space, or whatnot. It's a litte bit like Frankenstein's monster, in that man created it but often seems to be battling against it. No wonder we take such pleasure in the bending of time.

We can bend time in a "copy and paste" sort of way, a la daylight savings: steal an hour from the spring, get it back in autumn. This changes our outlook, giving us that nice extra hour of sunlight in the evening, a renewed sense of freedom after work or school, hope for summer hours. And we of course can stretch out the hours by indulging in the likes of traffic court or standardized testing, or watch time dash by when we're with entertaining people such as yours truly.

But what about music? The way music can move a person, not merely through heartfelt lyrics or soulful solos, but the way a delay in rhythm, the time between verse and chorus, can change your heart rate. The first time we hear a song that shakes us from the inside, we step outside of time, and each time we hear that song again, we try to regain that initial experience. Time slows down, and the way that we measure the moments is in the hold of the song. We relish each beat, not wanting it to end, but try not to relish too deliberately, as this will rob us of the authentic experience. We escape time by immersing ourselves in music, which robes time in sound.

Art can make a statement through its message, or strike one with its beauty, but only music can manipulate time, and that's what makes it so powerful. It pushes us viscerally, literally shakes us, and when vibrations catch us in an unexpectedly pleasing pattern, well...

Anticipation, accumulation, release- music provides this by way of rhythmic interplay and melodic changes. The ticking of the clock, the metronome, they beg to be tinkered with; time pleads to be challenged and molded by music. Poetry can do this, too; anything that toys with rhythm can capitalize on our construct of time. But only music can meld the elements of words, feeling, sound, to grant us the pleasure of slaying time in its embrace.