August 27, 2007

Adult Situations

Apparently I am capable of being an adult sometimes, no matter what you may think of my socks or my incoherent personal philosophy.

Recently Kate posted Best Life Magazine's 8 Foods You Should Eat Every Day to MetaFilter, and it made me start to look askance at my usual breakfast. (Apparently I'm not the only one.) Suddenly my eight ounces of Friendship lowfat cottage cheese with pineapple derivative wasn't looking like such a good thing. Please save me from my breakfast, I thought. I have been starting to dread the flavor of it in the morning, and little plastic tubs that I feel too much Global Warming guilt to throw away have piled up in my cabinet to heights that the Collyer Brothers would approve of. Me and my cabinet have had it up to here with cottage cheese. But at $1.49 each ($7.50 a week), how could I beat it?

So determined to blaze new nutritional trails, I came home from the store today with a box of McCann's Irish Oatmeal, a half pound of walnuts, and a jar of blueberry jam. It so happens that one cup of dry oats and a half cup of crushed walnuts fits neatly into an 8 oz. cottage cheese container, so now I have five portions on deck. All I have to do is stir one into a cup of vanilla soymilk, add two tablespoons of blueberry jam, and scorch it in the microwave, and voila! Blueberry oatmeal with walnuts. Three of the eight things I am supposed to eat every day. Cost of oats, walnuts, jam, and soymilk add up to slightly less than what I was forking over to Friendship. Even though it's after one AM and I'm standing here in my underwear stacking MRE's in my kitchen, I feel strangely capable and hope that new breakfast equals new hope for the future.

At this rate, it's only a matter of time until my goddam socks match.

August 25, 2007

Two Halves of a Day

Red Cross and Hospital Bracelet

It doesn't matter whether you got to do everything on your list of tasks for the day.

It doesn't matter if you wind up sleeping in way past the point of rest, to take advantage of sleep being the only place where you can be completely alone.

It doesn't matter whether you wake up and have to kick dirty dishes out of the way to get to your closet. It doesn't matter if you wash them, though you do anyway.

It doesn't matter if you pay your overdue bills and make lunch plans and lay out your uniform for class. It doesn't matter if you eat chips and salsa for breakfast, or if you chase it with some of the chocolate cake left over from the middle of last night. It doesn't matter how good or bad you feel about your body on any given day, the bare facts are somehow always the same.

It doesn't matter what else you happen to be doing when you get the phone call from the ambulance. It doesn't matter if you are in the middle of editing images for an ongoing web project. It doesn't matter if you hadn't planned on leaving the house for another two hours. As you put on your hat, you acknowledge that in all likelihood it doesn't actually matter if you make the trip to the hospital at all. It doesn't matter if you stay home and just wait to hear the details like everyone else. It doesn't matter if you are a faithful lover; everyone knows that you are not.

There is a certain point in the day when it starts to matter. Sometime between the wait for the L train to the first hospital and the cab ride across town to the second one. Certain fibers begin to glow within the fabric the politeness of the cab driver, the phlebotomist's sense of humor; the plate of eggs left untouched in the diner due to the urgency of getting the patient home and comfortable, right away; the cheerfulness with which you accept that you left your bag in the restaurant in your hurry to catch yet another expensive cab. Gold threads twist out of moments of suspense, a net that isn't strong enough to catch you now, but may be someday when you're even weaker than this, when it trawls the air around you, passed from hand to hand by everyone around as they watch you struggle to tread water.

The second half of a day doesn't necessarily have anything to do with the first. It doesn't matter if you run a few errands pick up your bike from its tune-up, rent a dvd, buy a few bottles of wine that will go straight into the freezer. It doesn't matter if you turn the whole crisis into a opportunity for an early dinner date, or to hide from the heat together with a movie. The walk you take to the river together has nothing to do with the cab ride across the bridge, the photos you take of each other by the water have nothing to do with the electrode tabs visible through his shirt.

The place on the docks where you sweated out the blackout in 2003 is underwater now. So is the metal crows' nest where you have picnicked with so many friends, from where you have fed gulls and tasted snow and watched warehouses burn and gotten to third base. From where you have taken many, many but not nearly enough photographs.

It doesn't matter what shape the house will be in when you get back to it, or how much wine you spill on the sofa. The only time besides sleep when you feel completely alone is when you are together, and that's a peaceful travesty, a lovely derail, a planned demolition that sends up glittering clouds which pass for incense around here. The moon rises, perversely full and pink as a carnation. Giving up, you sort of win.

My Sunken Kingdom

August 22, 2007

Paper Planes

My new personal anthem for the day month year.

Listen or download here. (And here's a backup YouTube link.)

M.I.A album review here, with accompanying interview. As a general rule I prefer my music sans gunshots, but if life isn't change, then what is it?

August 17, 2007


David Lynch's INLAND EMPIRE is finally out on dvd. I spent most of last winter going nuts over this movie-- as it's three hours long and surreal to the point of periodic incoherence, it's actually pretty easy to go nuts during the movie.

In hopes that you'll be intrigued enough to take a whack at it, here are the French and Italian trailers for the film, which are as usual much better than the American version.

August 15, 2007

Places Worth Caring About

I have learned so much about the way public spaces should actually serve to benefit the public, mostly from working alongside organizations like Transportation Alternatives and the Friends of the High Line and so forth. But these organizations are New York City based, and who looks after the rest of the world?

This video is a wonderfully fun twenty-minute presentation by James Howard Kunstler about America's use of space in suburbia and beyond, and how the growing number of "places not worth caring about" affects and defines our national character. How can we restore them to the "physical manifestations of the common good"?

"Oh no!" you say. "Boring white guy making me feel guilty and panicky about the future of America!!" Relax, it's an amazingly encouraging and entertaining performance that you will want to pass on to as many people as possible, because this is something we all have to question-- now that all our neighborhoods look exactly the same.

Thanks to Ambrosia Voyeur for the link in this (also entertaining) thread.

August 13, 2007

Portrait Exchange

A couple of months ago I agreed to participate in a portrait exchange for a friend's collective art project. We were to halfway complete a self-portrait, then switch with someone and project another self-portrait onto theirs. I was designated to swap with Sommer Xavier Foster, whom I had never met. The collection of portraits will be presented in a gallery on August 23rd, I'll be sure to post when/where.

I received Sommer's drawing in the mail, her likeness portrayed in her signature bird/humanoid style. In fact, I've since seen some of her other handiwork, in which birds feature prominently. With so much empty space to fill, I was baffled as to how I might proceed-- I couldn't do justice to her work with my own half-assed drawing abilities, but the strangeness of her bird-face made me want to respond with something outside my range of ability. So I took stock of what was in my apartment, found myself staring at my long-reach stapler, and the rest, as they say, is history.

It seemed like such a fun idea to staple a portrait of myself. I hadn't reckoned with the actual physical labor involved in KERCHUNK-ing literally thousands of staples into a sheet of posterboard, on some of the hottest nights of the summer. I stapled until I got blisters, until I was sure the downstairs neighbors would complain, until I had to towel my face from the exertion. And as a puncture is a lot harder to erase than, say, a pencil line, I was critically self-conscious of the fact that each KERCHUNK was permanent, I could only work forwards, never backwards. After the first few hours I began to feel as if I had unnecessarily ruined someone else's interesting self-portrait because of my hare-brained impulse. There was nothing I could do but keep trying.

KERCHUNK KERCHUNK KERCHUNK. After a while it became mechanical, I stopped thinking of it as a likeness of myself and started seeing it as just a job that needed done. Which was interesting, because I gave up my stake in whether the portrayal was flattering or accurate. The lines just needed to be traced and retraced, the edges reinforced, the stapler reloaded, until it felt done. Which is exactly what happened yesterday afternoon after an hour of stapling while listening to a documentary about Prussian Blue, the white-supremacist tween twin pop sensation. Suddenly I was done, and whether because of the actual result or just the work that went into it, for the first time since I started, I saw myself in it.

Portrait Exchange

Detail view here. I hope that you'll come check out the rest of the exchanges at the end of the month, and see whatever became of the other half of my contribution. I'm keeping my fingers crossed that I'll have been turned into some sort of terrifying half-bird.

August 9, 2007

Horror On a Small Scale

A few weeks ago I received a questionnaire from my high school reunion committee and found myself at a loss when I tried to answer the questions. Does anyone ever even read these things? Should I give the socially acceptable version of the truth, or boggle them with unexpected honesty? I hadn't even decided for sure yet whether I'll attend. While I did finally complete the questionnaire and send it back, it wasn't until I came across MicroHorror that I found an outlet for my misgivings on the matter.

MicroHorror is a site that collects short horror stories, "each no longer than 666 words". It's a real challenge to create something genuinely creepy in such a short span, but some of these stories are really masterful-- and if a particular story doesn't really do it for you, well hey! At least it was short.

Check out my (short!) contribution, inspired by the reunion questionnaire, and while you're at it, consider submitting one of your own!

I have profound regrets that I didn't think of this sooner, because I would have happily skipped all the pesky questions and sent them this story instead. Hey, they want to know what I'm up to lately, right?