Archive for July, 2004

forced sharing

Saturday, July 31st, 2004

My internet connection’s been really spotty this week, but I don’t feel I can really complain about it too much. When I moved into this apartment for the summer, I discovered I could pick up wireless signal from the house next door in my room. Well, at least if I sit against the far wall. This of course raises some eyebrows when I mention it. My dad refers to it as taking advantage of the internet’s existence as an unlimited resource (like breathing air which doesn’t effect someone else’s ability to breath air, or something like that). In other reactions seems to be the gypsy adage of “forced sharing” seems to hang over it. Other people simply seem to think I’m a criminal.

Well, if my neighbors read this, come knock on the door, and please leave your pitchfork and torch at home. We can have a pleasant cup of tea together, and I’ll give you ten bucks for your Internet bill.


Tuesday, July 27th, 2004

I love the sound of the rain outside my window as I’m falling asleep. Or sitting outside on my covered patio while it pours all around me. That’s good too.

Imagining a Life History

Thursday, July 22nd, 2004

Every morning on the way to work my carpool stops at the 7-11 to get coffee. I generally sit in the car and wait for the driver to get back, since I don’t drink coffee. This morning as I sat in the car at the end of the parking lot, this old woman was standing by the exit of the lot. She was wearing a mumu dress and was smoking. She was probably about 67, and looked like she had been smoking for forty years at least. She was small and stout, and all her wrinkle lines made it look like she had been frowning as long as she had been smoking. She just stood there, as if she had been taking a morning walk and then suddenly forgot where she was going. A car pulled out of the lot, a white convertible with two young men in it, and she started yelling at them and waving her arms. When they avoided eye contact and didn’t stop, she tried to flick her cigarette ash on their car. She was mostly unsuccessful. Another car pulled out, and the scene was repeated. But with each car that came through she seemed to try less to get them to stop. She seemed to become resigned to the fact that no one was going to stop. Finally a woman in a green SUV stopped, and they exchanged some words, maybe directions, and the old woman turned and walked in the direction she had come from. The women driving the SUV pulled out slowly looking over her shoulder to try and watch the old woman. A minute later my car pool driver came back with his coffee and donut.

I wonder what the old woman wanted. I wonder how she got to be 67 smoking in front of the 7-11. I wish I could ask her.

In other news, my fingers hurt from using an exacto knife all day for two days in a row now.

democratic dialouge

Wednesday, July 21st, 2004

Last week I went to my first “show” at the New York Theater Workshop. I put show in quotes, because it wasn’t a play, or even so much of a performance as it was a lecture. It was called Patriot Act and was comprised of Mark Crispin Miller presenting a series of points about the present state of out country, interspersed with some humorous patriotically themed magic tricks. Mark Crispin Miller has written a number of books, so he certainly doesn’t need my validation, but he is a smart fellow. I always really enjoy watching really smart people do their thing.

Sadly I don’t feel like can do justice what he said with any form of summary. If you want to read some of his stuff check out his blog, which seems to be on a thread about Electronic Voting Machines right now. That was a big point in his talk, and something I hadn’t really heard a lot about in my campus bubble of a life. So check it out.

There were quite a few things that he said that hit me hard. One of them was a thing he said toward the end about becoming involved in the democratic discussion. He made a plea to his audience to become informed and not take all their news from the big media that is pumped into our homes. He said, “go out there, listen to foreign news, take advantage of the internet!” This really struck me. I don’t claim to be the most highly informed person when it comes to current events. Over the past few weeks a lot of my news has come from fafblog. Now, I don’t claim this to be a good or bad thing, it’s just true. But it was the thing he said about become part of the dialogue that really struck me.

I did a bunch of research for a class last semester on blogging as a phenomenon. A lot of the people I talked to about it had this rant they would go on about how blogging is going to change democracy for the better because it is allowing the average person to become involved in political discourse which may not occur in other forums. I’m not entirely sure if this idea can be backed up, but I am drawn to it as a person in love with the idea of democracy yet saddened by the way it seems to work.

I suppose this entry ought to wrap up with a point. This story is mostly a round about way of getting to explain why I wanted to blog. Or at least trying to begin to explain. I’ve gotten some flak from people about giving in to the pressures of the internet world, and the fact that the internet is really just a passive aggressive tool for saying things that you wouldn’t say to people’s faces (and I know some of you think that, even if you aren’t saying to me). Well. That’s not why I do it. I want to blog because I want a space to take my stories and opinions and say “I am not afraid to share this with the world. The whole world.” I want to be engaged in democratic dialogue. Can’t do that if I don’t at least try, right?

article to read

Sunday, July 11th, 2004

This morning through various other links, I ended up reading this article on the blog Obsidian Wings. It’s a rather personal piece about the things that have been happening in this country in the name of national security in the past two years. She says a lot of things that rang really true with me about accident of birth and the privilege of being relatively secure that I won’t be personally affected by these laws. It’s still scary, and perhaps scarier because it is so easy forget.

starving artist complex

Saturday, July 10th, 2004

Woke up this morning with a little bit of a cold. So, I’m drinking heavily. Drinking tea heavily I mean…

I found a book about Rent and Jonathan Larson on my roommate’s bookshelf. So I read it. Inspired, I listened to the soundtrack of Rent all the way through for the first time in about four years. My roommate presently works at the New York Theater Workshop, which is the theater where Rent got started. Last night over our french fries at the bar she told me a story about meeting the guy who directed Rent when he showed up at NYTW. She didn’t know who he was, and so was snappy with him for being rude to her. Anyway, listening to Rent again and reading about Jonathan Larson resparked the romantic desire to be a starving artist. How does that sound for a life goal? It’ll work for today at least.

In my work to become part of the starving artist community, I finished reading a play for NYTW today. My lovely roommate got me set up as a reader, where I read plays for them and they give me comp tickets to their shows. This week’s play was really bad. At the end the protagonist woke up and the whole thing was a dream set on her by her dead mother who then appeared as a ghost. This playwright needs a good smack up side the head. In the most loving and nurturing way possible.

creative process in seven stages

Monday, July 5th, 2004

I’ve been doing some writing over the past couple days. It’s been a really long time since I’ve attempted to complete a creative piece, and it’s been funny for me to recognize all of the stages of the writing process that I have always experienced. These became clear when I was taking a creative writing class and I was doing this on a regular basis.

Stage One: as I sit down at the computer to compile my thoughts into a draft – “I am so productive and creative. I am so proud of myself, this is going to be the best thing I’ve ever written.”

Stage Two: as I get to about the middle of page 2 – “…..must keep writing…. Oo ! something shiny! NO! must keep writing…… I’m hungry…… keep writing”

Stage Three: as I get toward the end – “this sucks, why do I even bother? No one reading this will ever understand what I’m trying to say. EVER!”

Stage Four: when I finish – “okay, that sucked. I’ll just bury it and never look at it again, and then I won’t be embarrassed.”

Stage Five: proof reading – “yep, I was right, it sucks.”

Stage Six: after tweaking it a little bit – “Well, there are parts I like. I just hope somebody else reading will understand…. But if I share it with someone they will probably hate it, and therefore me…. So maybe I should just keep editing it”

Stage Seven: after sharing it and getting feedback – “That was amazing, I’m so proud of myself, that’s the best thing I’ve ever written! I should write more, like all the time! I’m going to go write, right now!”

Return to stage one.

As you can see the majority of this process is spent thinking that my work sucks, to some level or another. But for some reason I keep doing it. Sadly, with this piece I’m working on right now I seem to be stuck in stage six. When I did this for class I would be forced to share it because that was part of class. So now, I need to work up the courage to ask someone to read it for me. We’ll see how that goes.

You know, taken out of context I must seems so strange

Friday, July 2nd, 2004

I have a friend who is a great musician. It seems like he plays just about anything he can get his hands on. I had never known somebody who actually loved classical music before. We went to visit his parent’s house in Virginia once. I seem to remember that his family moved there to work for the Democratic Party in DC years ago. His father spent all of dinner talking to me about politics, and knew more about my home state senators that I did. While we were there my friend gave me this CD. He says “Somebody gave this too me. I hate it, but I think you’ll like it.” Great start right?

The CD was Ani Difranco’s Living in Clip. And he was right. I loved it. About half way through the second disc is as song called Fire Door. She says,

I make such a good statistic
someone should study me now
somebody’s got to be interested in how i feel
just ’cause i’m here
and i’m real

I write here in that spirit. That all these stories are valuable, and worth being shared.