Here's the set that I've been adding all my new kitten photos to. I'll try to be a little more vigilant, I promise. Please stop sending me threats.
September 30, 2007
September 28, 2007
September 27, 2007
Tonight is the showing of the portrait exchange I worked on for the Studio Collective. Presented by the Antagonist Movement at NIAGARA, the viewing begins at 9PM. I'll be there, if anyone wants to come say hi and check out all the other portraits...
Posted by Tom at 1:26 PM
September 26, 2007
The new issue of my webzine, Cork Animal, has been posted. This time around the theme is RELIGIONISM, and ten of my favorite people have offered up their religious experiences for your amusement and edification. Stories from the spiritual wilderness, of faith and loss of faith, with accompanying photographs from my resident shrine-seeker Amy Lee Pearsall. Hope you enjoy them!
I contributed two stories, companion pieces on the subject of initiation. Two powerful experiences that altered my concept of what one could expect from life:
"THE DARK SIDE OF THE MOON"
I started this project as an excuse to get more writing done, but also because I thought it was important that people consider their own interesting stories to be worth telling, whether they fancied themselves a writer or not. A good story can shine through inexpert writing, just as much as a really mundane story can sparkle in the hands of a master. While I know the internet is chock-ablock with people preening and reveling in the importance of their own lives, it's my hope to cultivate more of a campfire setting, a place where the story you bring is a small price to pay for the stories you get to take away with you when you go.
Posted by Tom at 2:22 PM
September 22, 2007
Republican Mayor of San Diego, Jerry Sanders, has broken my heart with his shockingly emotional statement revealing his new stance on equal marriage rights.
I've been revelling as much as anyone else in the rash of gay sex controversies dogging our Republican legislative body. Until I saw this video, I had almost forgotten how much better it would be for our adversaries to genuinely understand and embrace our position than to see them all go down in faggoty flames. It may be forgotten tomorrow, but with this video, the rules of the game have shifted a little bit-- in the nation as well as within myself.
This coincides with my learning Mahatma Gandhi's Seven Blunders of the Modern World from Galen this weekend. Gandhi called these disbalances "passive violence" which fuel the active violence of crime, rebellion, and war. They are:
1. Wealth without workTo these, Arun Gandhi added:
2. Pleasure without conscience
3. Knowledge without character
4. Commerce without morality
5. Science without humanity
6. Worship without sacrifice
7. Politics without principle
8. Rights Without Responsibilities
Suffice to say I have as much work ahead of me on these as Jerry Sanders does on his next campaign for office...
Posted by Tom at 7:05 PM
September 5, 2007
I've noticed recently that when I'm at work, or at almost anytime that I'm seated for long periods, my breathing is incredibly shallow. Of course, the shallower your breaths are, the more of them you have to take, but as long as the air is dribbling in and out of you regularly enough, you probably won't even notice.
It's taken me a long time to realize the extent to which this is affecting me. Lately I noticed that it wasn't until I left work that I ever truly breathed deeply, and how stifled and threatened I felt throughout the day under even fairly benign circumstances. My job isn't hard, and the people aren't so scary, so why am I gasping?
A little research informed me that shallow breathing is quite common. It occurs when you draw air just into your chest area using your intercostal muscles, instead of throughout your lungs using your diaphragm. Experiment with this. When you are watching a movie or working on the computer, or doing anything in which your body is at rest but your attention is focused elsewhere, do you unconsciously operate on the bare minimum of air? As you are reading this, does even half of a full breath seem uncharacteristically deep compared to how you were breathing a few minutes ago?
I was also able to confirm that one's tendency toward anxiety, stress, and asthma and panic attacks can all be affected by shallow breathing. I don't know whether a general sense of dissatisfaction caused me to unconsciously tighten my breathing, or if the act of simply sitting in a chair for so many hours has changed my breathing, resulting in more and more associative feelings of anxiety over time. Most likely, it's just another of life's unfair vicious cycles (I collect them). Either way, after a year and a half, it's time to acknowldedge the toll this is taking on me and how rotten I feel a lot of the time.
It is so hard to be a permeable being in a city where the very air you breathe can seem like a personal assault. My bike rides to and from work are a time when I should be breathing as freely as possible, but so often I'm very busy protecting my healthy pink insides from the visible clouds of exhaust hovering over the pavement, or from the grape-formaldehyde fumes emanating from the fresh coat of paint they're spraying onto the Queensborough Bridge (a disgusting, and frankly baffling shade of tan. TAN. Who paints a bridge tan?). There are the fumes from the creek, clouds of grit thrown up by construction crew jackhammers, and tremendous steam vents. On the sidewalks you get trapped behind slow-walking cigarette smokers or pass shoulder-high bunkers of garbage. There is always something adversarial to guard against, until eventually a squint or clench or held breath becomes more than instinctive-- it becomes reflexive, pre-emptive, triggered all the time to protect you against threats both real and imaginary.
I have my own way of working this out, but as usual, AskMetafilter is running to the assist in the rescue: someone requested links to guided meditation mp3's. Whether you're unfamiliar with meditation or merely out of practice, guided meditations can be a big help, and many of these are worth downloading. I have been relying on my kung fu practice to compensate for the meditation I used to do; while there is a focus on breathing in kung fu, there is so much else to pay attention to (and so much work to be done) that it really doesn't serve the same purpose. Being easily frustrated these days by the effort it takes me to sustain meditative breathing on my own (it used to be so easy!), I am looking forward to playing with these guided sessions as an welcome opportunity to escape my own thoughts.
Posted by Tom at 9:38 AM
September 3, 2007
September 2, 2007
Sponsored by the New York Buddhist Church,
Partner with Interfaith Center of New York,
Co-sponsored by New York Disaster Interfaith Service
supported by NY de Volunteers and New York Kayak Company.
Also supported by the Buddhist Council of New York, New York City
Downtown Boathouse and LIC Community Boathouse
If you will be in town during the September 11th three-ring circus and would like a peaceful alternative to the usual hullabaloo, you should head down to the Hudson River at W. Houston Street for the New York Buddhist Church's annual event. Click above for more details.
The temple itself is at 103rd and Riverside, and is one of my favorite NYC destinations. It's a beautiful building tucked into a quiet block overlooking the Hudson, and I wish more people would check it out. It's a long hike from Greenpoint, so I don't go very often, but that would change if I knew I might run into more people I knew...
Posted by Tom at 6:05 PM
This summer I bought a shirt at the Renegade Craft Fair which became my favorite almost overnight, but it has taken me a while to look and see what the company, SquidFire, sells on their website. So today has been as good a day as any to sit and crave and sulk and count the days until my next paycheck. Hey, at least I can check out their disturbingly hot models for free.
In addition to their mens' and womens' t-shirts, they have stuff for babies that almost makes me want one. Almost. And those of you still relying on plastic bags from the grocery store need to check out their tote bags and fix yourself up with one pronto.
Posted by Tom at 5:12 PM
It took me a while to decide whether the impulse to get a kitten was just an aftershock of the Great Reconstruction. It seemed unfair to dangle another life form over the sucking crater of my gloom, especially a tiny cute one. I started having apocalyptic dreams in which I adopted children orphaned by the blast or the earthquake or the flood, and woke from these dreams feeling sharp emotional pangs of sympathy and loss instead of the philosophical dread that I normally feel when the city crumbles in my nightmares. I had an earlier opportunity to adopt, but as tempting as it was, I was still teetering on the edge of selling everything I owned and waking up the next day in Argentina, and was not yet in a position to be trusted with small things.
I discovered a new litter born around that time, and decided to wait seven weeks for one of those. Perhaps I would feel warmer inside, perhaps I would know a thing or two more about what was in the cards for the next week/month/year. I heard that there were orange ones in the new batch. Perhaps I could stop pulling out my hair and have some left for it to match.
I'm not better yet, not all the way, but I'm on my feet now and fighting with awesome surgical strikes. I can finally see all the holes in my boat now, instead of just despairing at the water rising past my ankles. I went to meet the new kitties the other day and learned all about them, which one was the sweetest and which one was the bounciest, which one was the sleepiest. I decided on the sixth (and last) born, who had to be revived after his birth lest he drown from the fluid in his lungs. His human parents tended to him all night, hoping he would gather enough strength to nurse as all the others were already heartily doing. In the end, he pulled through, and is now just as happy and spoiled rotten as his littermates, and will be coming home with me on the 13th, where he and I will learn to get along with ourselves and each other.
Here's a video of the kittens playing, filmed a few nights ago by my friend Jeff. Anyone who is interested in adopting, let me know and I'll put you in touch with him.
Posted by Tom at 4:15 PM