NaBloPoMo: My Siblings [ties]

Oops.  Forgot to finish this yesterday

It's only been in the last year or so that I've gotten close to my younger brother (19) and my older sister (27).  Perhaps my only regret is that it didn't happen sooner.  But, as with all things in life, it happened because it should have, and it happened at this time because we all needed each other.

We grew up together, of course, went through the same traumas and the same vacations and had the same parents.  But we were always so far apart in age that becoming "friends" seemed like it might never happen.  My sister was the rebellious one--taking risks and never being afraid to do what she thought was appropriate and right, and as a result my brother and I had a MUCH easier time with our parents as we went through the same trials.  Thank you, Rachel!

My brother Will is the baby.  Smart as hell, and metabolically blessed (he's 6'4"), he deserved to be treated much better than I treated him when we were little.  It's a wonder he doesn't still hate me for all the times I locked him out of my room or punched him in the shoulder for tagging along with me.  But, apparently this is what siblings do to each other (WHY??), and we now share an amazing friendship.

I can actually remember the moment when it seemed like we were finally going to be a sibling unit instead of three people with three very separate lives.  We were in West Virginia with my dad, step-mom, my sister's boyfriend, and my ex.  The trip was an end-of-summer celebration and a last opportunity for a big family vacation before Will went off to school and my sister and her boyfriend went to Guatemala for six months.  We were staying near the New River so as to facilitate a day-long white-water rafting trip down a stretch with several challenging rapids.  Our guide's name was Graham, and most of us had NO clue what we were doing (my ex and I had gone rafting in Ecuador, and I'd been once before that).

It was a bonding experience for everyone involved.  Lots of team-building, laughs, and terrifyingly exciting moments.  We saw an entire raft flip in front of us, spilling all its passengers.  We joked about pushing each other out and laughed when we hit each others' paddles during critical moments.  And at some point, Rachel Will and I recognized that we are all grown ups, and we like each other.  It's weird and perhaps obvious to say that, but then again, loving your brother and liking him are two separate things.

So here we are, today.  Rachel is still in Guatemala.  We email and communicate via facebook and the like.  Will is at school, fratting it up big time.  I'm in New York, as you know, working and living my life in the best way possible.  We're far apart physically, but the connection remains.  Through good times, like now, we feel validated by each other's praise and vicariously-felt excitement.  Through bad times, we're there for each other, allowing pain to be felt and providing healing words.

And beneath it all is the sensation that this is just a beginning.  The future is wide open.

Break from NaBloWriMo: What I'm gonna build

I am going to turn this:

into this:

and make it sound like this:

NaBloPoMo Comfort [ties]

It is swelteringly hot in my office right now.  It was like this last Friday, too.  Come to think of it, there hasn't been a day in the last few weeks when it hasn't been extremely hot in the afternoon.  Very few other people seem to mind, but I'm sitting here sweating up a storm.  It's like this on the Subway, too.  Everyone wears their coats, scarves, and gloves while I am forced to immediately rip off all outerwear and still end up sweating a fair amount.  I've tried meditation, deep breathing, drinking cold water, and wearing more breathable clothing, but I just cannot keep from getting overheated.  New Yorkers are crazy!!

At least, that's what it seems like from the outside.  I also thought that Peruvians were crazy because they rode buses for 7 hours at a time with no ventilation whatsoever.  Argentinians liked their air conditioning, so they were OK with me.  This highlights the relative, cultural nature of what it means to be comfortable.  Sometimes we chastise individuals for not being "tough" enough, or not being able to adapt to changing situations, but the truth is, sometimes we're not really able to do so.  It's a bodily response to sweat profusely.  I'm sure I'll get over it eventually, but until my body figures out how to cope, I will continue to do so and I will continue to be uncomfortable.  There's really nothing I can say to myself to make comfort suddenly spring from the stagnant, humid air and burst into my lungs, filling me with refreshing and revitalizing Comfrons (the quantum unit of comfort).

It's the same for food.  We are encouraged in foreign countries to eat the local fare, but more often than not our bodies tell us otherwise.  Preparation methods, local bacterial flora and the like keep our bodies from "going with the flow" (actually, this is usually the problem) and we end up miserable for a small amount of time until we either switch back to Americanized food or push through until our bodies adapt.  Neither way is necessarily better than the other, but it's important to recognize that it's not simply a matter of interest or cultural sensitivity.  Bodies are different because they're used to different things.

And I'm comfortable with 68 degrees everywhere, all the time, dammit.

NaBloWriMo: Empathy [ties]

I am sitting with my computer, doing some work, relaxing on a saturday, and contemplating the meaning of empathy.  I think there's this huge component to my life that involves wanting and feeling like I need to help other people.  Sometimes, this means just going a little further for complete strangers, helping them on the subway, giving up my seat if they look uncomfortable, or offering to pay the extra 50 cents in a grocery store line when it is clear that someone doesn't have the correct change.

Other times, it's more selfishly motivated.  When you care for someone, I think the concept of altruism ceases to apply.  You do things for that person for many, many reasons, but many of those reasons are not selfless.  For instance, I spent yesterday evening taking care of my very good, quite sick friend.  I did it because it made me feel good, but also because she was upset about it and she doesn't deserve to suffer needlessly.  But that's just it--I made the decision that suffering more than X amount is unnecessary, and because it makes me feel bad to see someone suffer more than that, I stepped in, let my pre-med skillz out of the bag, and she is now on the mend, napping and recovering while I learn how to make KMLs show up on a google map API.  Oy.

And that makes me reflect on what it means to love, or to care, or to be there for someone.  Does it make a difference if you are there for yourself as well as for the other person?  I'm not sure it does.  Show me an instance where a person comes through for another person, really sticks their neck out in order to help someone out, and I'll point out how that person is also getting something important out of it.  It's just the nature of the universe that all agents in a situation are able to glean SOMETHING (good, bad, important, subtle) from every interaction they have.

Which I guess makes it all OK in the end--if we're constantly holding ourselves up against this unattainable goal of altruism and betterment for the sake of betterment without any personal gratification, then we may never find emotional fulfillment.  I think it's much better to accept the reality of the situation than try to change it.  In this case, this means indulging my desire to help others until I no longer want to.  It means letting people count on me to the extent of my abilities and desire, but no further.  Really, it's about knowing who you are as a person and letting that come out, instead of some reflection of who you are based on what you THINK other people want to see.


NaBloPoMo: caffeine [ties]

Caffeine has got to be one of the most addictive substances on earth, and to complicate things further, we believe that we NEED it to wake up in the mornings.

And it makes you feel good.  Mainly because of its similar excitatory effects to alkaloids of similar structure, such as cocaine, nicotine, and the like.  It's quite odd that we tolerate this substance, which occurs naturally in coffee and tea and can be extracted from tea leaves and coffee beans in the same manner as cocaine is extracted from the Coca plant, but we have a strong social block against cocaine.

I'm not advocating for cocaine.  I'm not advocating against caffeine.  They both have their place and have contributed a huge amount to our social awareness and the way we live our lives from day to day (recall:  cocaine derivatives include novocaine, benzocaine, and other numbing agents).  But I wonder about our relationships with addiction and whether we can truly get away with pooh poohing such actions as smoking cigarettes while championing a good hearty cup of Joe every morning.  Granted, smoke is more visible, irritating to non-participants, and causes more obvious side-effects, but in terms of long-term effects, there are millions of smokers WITHOUT emphysema or lung cancer, and millions of coffee drinkers who suffer from heart palpitations, panic attacks, vitamin deficiency (you pee most of it out), and insomnia.

I'm not giving my coffee up.  I like it.  But I think the next time I see someone chastising someone else for smoking or eating poorly, I will splash a big ole cup of hot coffee in their face.  Just kidding.  But I will probably say something.  

NaBloPoMo: Writing [ties]

It was only a matter of time before this became a meta analysis.  Clearly, I have a love for writing.  I think what has eluded me over the years, though, is being able to set up a routine whereby I write regularly and extensively enough to get my ideas down on paper.  This has changed in the last few months, and I've begun writing the blog every day, plus writing in my own personal journal, plus writing to friends and family on a more regular basis.  It's this variety in subject matter that keeps me going, I think.  The ideas keep flowing because there's always a medium through which to express them.  Nothing gets clogged in my head anymore.

I could probably go on for pages and pages about how writing makes me feel, but I think if I said it makes me feel "good," most of you will be satisfied.  I think instead I'll just touch on the importance of developing your own style, if writing does become something that you personally want to pursue.

And that's sort of the point of this month in the first place:  "ties" is simply an ambiguous way of talking about the connections or affinities we feel for the different things in our lives.  It's sort of impossible to have a tie to something that doesn't mesh with your way of thinking in some way.  Writing, expressing thoughts through mutable yet concrete and recognizable words and phrases, is a perfect example of this.  Many disciplines force writers to conform to a certain set of stylistic criteria (journalism, science writing, grant writing, instructional writing), and the writer is forced to find their voice within a rigid framework.  This can be fun, challenging, even rewarding, but is rarely about building an outlet of expression.

Building your own style, or simply using conventions that you want to use, can be liberating.  It can also be catastrophic.  I for one don't want to read these cell phone novels, written entirely in contractions and abbreviations.  You might, but it might be better suited for a personal journal than for public consumption.  This highlights the flip-side of building your own fount of self-expression:  writing, at its heart, is also about communication.  It's very difficult to communicate ideas and thoughts effectively if your audience has NO IDEA what you're talking about.  But everyone's balance has to be different, because everyone's ability and perspective is different.  Go figure.

I know, it just wouldn't be me if I actually ANSWERED a question.  That's just my style, though.

NaBloPoMo: technology [ties]

As a tinkerer, a maker, and an all-around fix-it type, I have a healthy respect for the technology that exists around me.  I think, though, that I also revile it more than most.

It's this ambivalence that has struck me lately more so than earlier in my life.  I think that as I was growing up, technology (specifically computer tech) grew with me and I integrated it into my being.  That gave me the skills I needed to effectively become an "expert" without actually attending a single class or having any formal mentoring.    At some point, though, I stopped taking the existence of technology for granted.  I think at that point, maybe at the age of 18 or 19, tech started to wear on me rather than boost my energy levels.

And that's where I am today.  Sitting in front of a computer all day definitely drains me.  I find myself scouring the internet for new ways to be more productive and to make things more exciting.  I am just as caught up in the craze of having the best and shiniest new gadgets as soon as they come out, although I tend to build rather than buy these when possible.

All this has me asking myself, where does this road end?  It seems that our landfills are filling up faster and faster with the useless, disposable crap we build and sell and then throw away.  That doesn't take anything away from the fact that these tools have revolutionized our way of connecting to each other.  And it doesn't de-legitimize their usefulness in any way.  But it does beg the question:  is it worth it?

This love/hate relationship must resolve itself, I think.


a tech lover.

NaBloPoMo: Music (Well, guitars) [ties]

I was in eighth grade when I got my first guitar.  I didn't know what I was getting into, but it just felt right somehow to ask for an electric set for my Bar Mitzvah present from my dad.  He bought it from a friend of mine.  It was an Epiphone Les Paul Special, the cheapest guitar in the product line.  That night, I learned "Purple Haze" by Jimi Hendrix and played it constantly over the next few weeks.  I was awful at it, and I appreciate my parents' patience with my learning process.

Eight years, four guitars (acoustic, electric, another acoustic, and another electric.  I only kept the last two, though), uncountable amplifiers (well, more like 6), and LOTS of lessons later, I'm a passable musician with enough skills to play in a wide variety of scenes.  That really doesn't interest me, though.  What does interest me is the way the guitar feels in my hands when I pick it up off the wall, its weight and the balance with which it hangs off my shoulders by the strap.  The vibrations through the body and neck still give me chills, and honestly there are moments when sitting still and plucking a single note over and over is enough to please me.

As readers are beginning to realize, I am easily made wide-eyed about small but significant aspects of my life.  I think my relationship with the guitar is an archetype for this sort of experience.  Every now and then I spend several hours simply touching the guitars, polishing them and inspecting them, tuning them and changing the strings, never actually playing them.  Like anything in life, if you treat a guitar well, it will treat you well in return.

An instrument is a conduit to another dimension, a set of feelings and sensations not accessible through non-musical means.  It can facilitate friendships, long nights spent playing and learning and creating, and it can foster romances, spreading feelings unknown to that point, or providing a connection upon which to base affection and embraces.  Learning how to play the guitar is the most rewarding, frustrating, and affirming experience in the world.  I will never stop learning, because there is no end to what you can know and do with those six strings.

NaBloWriMo: Creation [ties]

I didn't write yesterday, mostly because I was on the phone all day with the cable company.  They are terrible.  

I had wanted to write about Music.  That will have to be another day's post, though, and will probably take several days to cover.  Today, I'm going to tackle my interest in building and creating.

When I was five, my grandmother gave me an electronic fire engine.  It had a wired remote with buttons on it to raise and lower the ladder, sound the siren (there were several varieties), move backward, forward, and each axle was independent.  It must have cost a fortune!  Within two weeks, I had taken it apart, disassembled the remote, and re-routed it to my model rocket launching system so that you could launch at least 15 rockets at once, if you so chose.

My parents were furious.

By the age of ten, I had boxes of broken toys and old computers under my desk, mostly useless, ready to be repurposed into whatever projects I could think of.  By thirteen, I had built my first computer and knew the purpose of each component and how they interact on a relatively basic level.  I still have parts from that original machine in the latest iteration, which is now sitting in my closet, waiting for the financial freedom I will need to upgrade it to a serviceable level.

I have always been fascinated with how things work.  The interactions of electricity, a "substance" we cannot see, within visible components that are constructed with specific behaviors in mind just interests me to no end.  I am entirely enamored with the idea of building things from scratch rather than buying them, and I do so at every possible occasion.  There is just something so powerful about working with your hands, using the tools available to YOU to build something that YOU can use.  It is freeing and enlightening and it keeps me sharp.  I learned more from a year of tinkering with guitar amplifiers in college than I did in most of the courses I took that year.  The culmination of that year was this:

That's a Fender Vibroverb.  I converted a newer "Custom Vibrolux Reverb," repaired the cabinet, and recovered the amp.  It sounded amazing, and it fetched me about a $400 profit.  Not bad for my first project.  I played it at one show and was totally hooked.  I have not stopped playing with musical toys since.

Today, I built my friend Cait a Fuzz Face pedal.  That's a distortion effect for those of you non-guitar nerds.  I can still smell the solder in the air, and while I am happy with the job I did, I am already aching to build something else.  Luckily, I am building a guitar for a friend in exchange for a bike, so I am busier than perhaps I should be.

I am not emotional about my building and my creating.  I am all business, all the time.  I am connected viscerally to my work and the job at hand.  It's the most zen-like I ever get, I think.  There is the work, and there is you, but you are one with the work.  You speak to the work, and it speaks to you, but there is no speaking.  At this point it is easy to see how it all fits together, and suddenly you're in it, entirely in it, dualistically aware of how each intricate move will affect the finished product.  You strive for perfection, but rarely find it.  That's the game.  And it's a fun one.

NaBloPoMo: The Outdoors [ties]

Nature is where I belong.  I belong to nature.  I am a part of nature.  Nature is a part of me.  The world exists around me, and I exist inside the world.  I did not create the world, and the world did not create me.  I inhabit the earth, and the earth inhabits me.

Cities have their place in our world--I'm living in one of the biggest ones on earth right now, with the most wealth and the most poverty and the most opportunity and the most disappointment--truly a place of extremes.  And that's just it.  Cities are great ways for people to come together and enhance their social, economic, and intellectual lives.  We move to cities to find wealth, love, and answers.

In that way, being outdoors is almost the exact opposite to being in a city (despite the existence of large parks and the prevalence of public transportation).  I feel connected to cities, but I feel born of the earth, akin to nature, and at home without need for shelter or internet or phones.

Sometimes, I like to take long hikes.  Other times, I enjoy just sitting in the woods, no matter what time of year.  And I can almost always make a case for building a fort out of dead limbs and pine boughs, sitting inside and reading for hours at a time.  In my travels, I've seen forests and deserts and mountains and oceans and rain forests and high plains and subtropical rivers and so many more ecosystems than I can count.  I think even seeing the million varieties of a single species of tree could excite me in the same way.  What matters isn't how, why, or how much, but just that there IS nature left in the world.

My world is the world of the outdoors.  They are one and the same, and yet separate.  I can live in the city and have my mind be perpetually in the clouds, the forest, or the cloud forest.  In my head I am frequently walking through the underbrush, rafting down a raging river, or wheezing at the top of an Andean summit.  I doubt I will ever tire of these experiences, and I hope against all hope that I will have the ability to go to these places and walk these ancient paths until the day I die.

NaBloPoMo: The Internet Died Edition [ties]

My internet was dead yesterday at home.  I kept putting off writing, and then it just became impossible.  I was only going to write a tiny, tiny bit anyway, so here goes:

I live in Brooklyn.  I have become so attached to this place, how it works and feels, and how it makes me feel.  I love it.  And so I wanted to share a lyric from an Avett Brothers song:

Brooklyn Brooklyn take me in
Are you aware the shape I'm in
My hands they shake my head it spins
Brooklyn Brooklyn take me in

It's a simple lyric, but it gets to me.  I came to Brooklyn broken, alone, and lost.  Within weeks I'd found a community, reasons to live and love, and peace of mind.  I could not be happier.  So, thank you Brooklyn, for providing for me what small towns could not.

NaBloPoMo My Home [ties]

I grew up in the woods outside of Charlottesville, in Virginia.  I wasn't born there, but all my childhood was spent in this house:

Seeing this photo reminds me of the incredible springs, summers, and falls I spent outside at home.  This house is on a 5-acre plot, with a pond (behind the camera), a stream (to the right) and woods extending all around.  In the summer, when the leaves are the thickest, you can't hear the road.

I used to spend every free moment outside, making forts, walking trails I blazed with my father the summer we moved here, and fishing down at the pond.  I developed an active imagination, and I created mythologies about the animals that lived in the woods.  Friends and I built dams down by the stream, dug caves, hid from my brother, and planned new Utopian societies that would form just feet from a major road.  It was bliss.  I had such a connection to nature, the elements, and what it means to be alive in a world almost completely overtaken by pavement and development.

We had a garden, fenced off to keep out the deer.  That didn't last long, because deer couldn't care less about a fence (they jump).  We also had beds upon beds of lilies, lamb's ear and other inedible and edible herbs, all maintained by my mother, the nourisher (my father was more of a "let's make sure everything's working well" kind of person).  We would help her for maybe 15 minutes at a time, then run away to swing on the rope tied to a Mimosa tree nearby.

A lot of change has touched my life since then, but I never forgot the beauty and the solitude of the woods below my house.  To this day, when I am troubled and at home, I take a walk down to the stream.  The only difference between now and then is that now I know I'm just visiting the places I used to inhabit.  The mystery, mythologies, and harmony of that places still exist, just temporarily.  Getting used to that was hard, but I will never be too old to feel that way again.

NaBloPoMo: Trust [ties]

Today, someone told me they trusted me.  I cried.

That moment was powerful.  It was important for reasons I won't go in to here, but also simply because it highlights how beautiful and intrinsic the concept of trust is.  For the most part, we are individualistic creatures.  The cultural differences that exist across the scope of humanity do little to dim the light of unique individuality that exists in each of us.  We tend to consider our opinions to be most valid, especially when applied to ourselves, because it's assumed that we know our own self in more depth than anyone else can.  Similarly (but significantly distinct), we tend to believe that we are most suited to making the decisions that affect us personally, both important and trivial.

We are outraged when someone assumes they know us better than we know to be the case.  Sometimes, we're wrong, and the object of our outrage is actually speaking from wisdom and experience and careful, loving observation of your own life.  This is the case with parents and their teenage progeny.  We have all experienced wondering how the hell our parents can be so wrong, and most of us have the good fortune of laughing about how silly it is to think such things about people so close to you.

We live in a world where trust is the exception, not the rule.  I think a lot of people wish this were not the case, but it is often so difficult to determine whether a person has your best interests in mind while they make decisions that affect you.  In most cases, we'd rather be safe than sorry.  And then, sometimes, rarely, someone comes along.  This person may be a friend, a relative, a stranger, or anything in between.  What connects us to this person is typically undefinable, but there's an affinity almost at once.  Maybe we feel inexplicably that within moments of meeting this person it's safe to tell them more than perhaps we should, or maybe it just means they put us at ease.

Whatever the case, when those seeds germinate, they put roots down into your soul and push shoots up into the world.  Trust is grown, cared for, and harvested by those who notice it.  It nourishes and inspires those who understand its intricate subtleties.  And sometimes, it just makes you cry a little bit.  However it manifests, trust is organic and irreplaceable.  There is no substitute, in a romance, in a friendship, even between enemies.  Those people who you know the best may not be trusted most, but those trusted most will soon be understood best.

After all, what is trust but unconditional and universal love for the way we interact as human beings, spinning at a million miles an hour through the vastness of space, alone, or not, but always surrounded by the potential for understanding our place in the world.

Trust ties me to people.  It ties me to myself.  Trust is the force that holds us together, and when it breaks, we become unglued.  Heartbreak is nothing more than a loss of trust.  Betrayal is the result of misplaced trust.  And when trust continues unabated, evolves and grows, puts down new roots and regrows season after season, we call it love.

NaBloWriMo: Hair Models [ties]

Wow.  What an incredible weekend.  And it's not over.

Friday I went to a meeting with a newly signed metal band.  If you know me, you understand how odd that is.  They are going to PAY ME to start rowdiness at their show.  Oh, and free booze.  Freaking great.

Oddly enough, that was the least eventful part of the weekend.  Yesterday, I was lucky enough to be a friend's Hair Model at the Aveda Institute in Manhattan.

When I first agreed to it I was just happy to be getting a free haircut, from a friend, at a nice salon.  That was really all the motivation I needed.  It turns out that Aveda is all about natural ingredients and the organic integration of meditative techniques into their services.  If you know anything about me, you know that this, unlike the metal band, is very much what I'm in to.

The entire experience was zen-like, concentrating on a perfect process and the true immersion of self/universe duality into every moment.  It started with a licorice/mint tea, designed to relax me, continued with a scalp massage which incorporated shiatsu techniques and some amount of energy balancing, and then we were off on the 3-hour process of cutting my hairs.

My friend Lindsay is a student at Aveda, but she's talented, to say the least.  She came right out and told me that the way I was used to wearing my hair was pretty ridiculous, and she was right.  It looks great.  It really does.  And just in time to start some pits at this metal show.

The three hours of hair cutting were inspirationally meditative.  Thoughts kept passing over my mind in ways that I have trouble initiating when alone in my room and putting my mind to only meditation.  Realizations and priority reorganization occurred quickly and without interruption, and the typical distractions that occur stayed only long enough to alert me of their presence and then fled as my mind was again taken over by the mindless mindfulness of meditation.

It was great.  I couldn't have asked for a better haircut or company.  Kudos, Lindsay, you're going to go far!

weekend plans to rival those of the stars


paid gig to be in the audience at a "hard rock/metal" show and be included in a music video.  No idea who the band is (they haven't said) but the space is in midtown Manhattan and quite famous.


being a hair model.  Yes, you read that correctly.



Yes, I know, lame post.  I can't think of anything else to write today.  Sorry.

NaBloPoMo: My friend Seth [ties]

There's a lot of soul-baring going on around these parts lately, and I figure I should keep it up.  Today's post is about my friend Seth.

In a lot of ways, Seth has been a brother to me.  I know, I know, I have a brother, but Will, for all his current wisdom, charm, and maturity, was not always that way.  In fact, when we were younger, we didn't get along due to the age difference (4 years).  I was mean to Will, too mean, and I am trying to make amends for that now.  There will be a post in the near future about that.  What I mean, though, is that Seth filled the role of compatriot and partner-in-crime from the time we were 7 until now.  I assume this will continue into the future, even as our lives take us in different directions.

How we met is sort of irrelevant, because it didn't make a difference how long we had known each other--it was like we had always been friends.  I think I spent about three quarters of my weekends in middle school with Seth, either at his house or mine, staying up late, watching rented VHS's and eating popcorn made in a cast iron pot topped with soy sauce.  We would laugh, talk about poop and farts, as young boys will do, and go to sleep usually after several reminders by parents to shut the hell up.  We were not a quiet pair.

Over the years, Seth has been one of the very few people I have always been able to go to for advice.  And more often than not, the advice given was truthful, hard to swallow, and abusively delivered.  This has always been the way we worked.  Somehow we are always able to vent our frustration with the world on each other and allow it to build us up, not tear us down.  Seth has always been the "friend approval" I look for when I embark on relationships, and lacking this I inevitably feel as if I might be doing something wrong.

From the moment we first got in trouble for making faces at each other at Seth's sister's Bat Mitzvah (he was in the front row, I was up behind in the mezzanine, how the hell did we think other people wouldn't see?), we've been partners in crime.  We've broken every type of furniture known to mankind, had some rough mornings after nights of drinking, played pranks on each other and our siblings, And one incident that went like this:  "Hey, if we open the window when we play music it won't be as loud in here!"  Cue complaints by neighbors.  We've worked together, gotten in trouble for laughing too much, playing chess not during lunch hours, complaining to the wrong people, and generally being screw-ups.

And yet, we both got into great schools, different schools, and excelled academically (probably because we weren't around to distract each other).  I remember the day I left for college, anxious as hell that this might be the end of our friendship.  It wasn't, and I was pretty stupid for thinking so.  Friends like that only come around every now and then, and they stay with you for life.

Right now, Seth is in Korea, and I'm in New York.  We've seen each other only once or twice in the last year.  It's been rough, what with my own troubles (travels, breakups, depression, new jobs, new living situations) and his own (dissatisfaction with  Korea, women, and the like).  But, as always, we make it work.  Skype, AIM, and the occasional Facebook hijack (check his wall, kids) have kept us close.  When he gets back, even if he doesn't know it, he's moving to Brooklyn.  We're going to start a music shop that sells a very specialized type of spoon, and Baba Yetu will play constantly in the background.  Life will be great.

Until then, Seth, thanks for being a best friend and brother throughout my life.  And yes, this is, in fact, a bromance.  Get over it.

NaBloPoMo [ties]


I love my family.  In fact, especially recently they've become the most important people in my life.  So, here's a quick shout out to each one of them:

M:  Here's to your unbridled courage in the face of your struggle, and a fighting spirit that you've passed on to me.  Plus, even though you're self-conscious about it, you give great advice.

D:  Thank you for instilling in me the need to learn and to know what the world is like.  Without this, I don't think I would stand a chance.  And, when it comes down to it, you're the smartest person I know.

R:  You glow with healing energy.  No joke.  Please, never change, the world needs such a wonderful example of what it means to care.  You have my utmost respect and love.

W:  Every day you turn to me and tell me something new you've learned.  Sometime this isn't conscious, but buddy, you've got the makings of an amazing human being, and each time I turn around you show me more reasons why I should have been nicer to you when we were growing up.  You can always talk to me, you know that.

...and not to leave out the newest members of the family:

C:  You bring much-needed humility and perspective to a family that thinks a little too much of itself.  Thank you for teaching me the power of humor and the healing power of loss.

D:  Your unbreakable calm soothes souls.  Nothing can perturb you, and that is not only rare, it's downright amazing.  Thank you for bringing happiness, support, and hope to my mother.

I love you all.

National Blog Posting Month (NaBloPoMo)

In an effort to promote myself, I'm participating in the NaBloPoMo this month.  it actually occurs each month, but this month's theme is "ties," whatever that means.  I will be writing every day (but I do anyway) about neckties, bowties, twistie ties, and so forth.  Not really.  Because I'm pretty sure ties means something else here. Almost positive.  More to come.

More writings [Writing]

I'm on a publishing kick.  Funny, because I work at a publishing company!  Ha Ha Ha!!!!1111one!

This is a short story.  It's not finished.  But I think that's part of the charm.

To answer your inevitable questions:

1.  No, it's not about me, although there are bits and pieces of me in the story.  How could there not be?
2.  It's not as hopeless as it sounds.
3.  I can't really make risotto.

Something reeks of repression.  Heavy curtains of muffling wool settle lethargically against the window trim.  I could move them, look outside, see what could be making that noise, but I don't.  I tell myself it's just because I'd rather imagine than spoil the surprise, that schrodinger and his cats would be proud.  The curtains know differently.

It sounds like someone is cutting down a tree with a chainsaw, but it's too quiet and yet very present.  Could there be an animal outside?  None that sound quite like that, and at noon in summer in a crowded neighborhood, I doubt the poor critter would stick around long enough to try.  Here, I'll lift my arm, force my hand to draw the curtains to one side.

Or not.  A breeze tries to ruffle the curtains but succeeds only in producing a long, low sigh as barely lifted it falls back into place.  I hear a car out by the road.  It's saturday, and not many people are out and about.  If I had to guess, I would say this one was a sedan.  Two 30-something adults in the front seat of assorted genders.  It doesn't sound like the back seat is full.  The vibration seems too light, too carefree to be carrying baggage.

I should go do my errands.  There's no food in the house, and no clean dishes.  I can smell the mold from last month's leaky roof all the way from the bedroom.  I feel the air change temperature against my cheek.  Another breeze.  This one can't seem to move the curtain at all.

songs [music]

I do this ever so rarely because to be honest, I'm terrified of feedback on my own work.  Here's two songs I've written in the last month.  Don't read too much into them, though.


These feet ache for the open road
for calluses and the thrill of bedtime heartbeats
waking up to a world larger than love
and flowing ice from winter cold
you lean in and I drop my guard
hands tremble, arm against arm

I've spent years living tomorrow instead of today
loving like we'd have forever or even more
you drag your hands through your hair and you were rid of me
without you the sun still rises, deep red smiles
So we ride the rails clickity clack clickity clack
feeling the high-tide energy building rising
high-rise jump and our feet leave the ground
our words reach other suns but we remain unsurprised

I've got these arms strong from years of raising them
against the tyranny rained on those who march out of time
and a chest with a scar straight down the middle
appeared just the day after we committed our crime

Don't brutalize that which you don't understand
we rise, harmonize high above those so tiny-minded
the ever-tempted white man crusading for yesterday
forever minor players under our study
A blog about social change, written from Brooklyn, New York. Currently looking for contributors.