Archive for July, 2006

Things to Add

I like the fact that this blog is an inconvenience for friends. They have to intentionally desire to read what I write in order to make it here. It makes me more honest, it allows me that much more freedom.

I just returned from the road trip. I would hope that it is not the last great road trip I take, but for the time being, it is the road trip.

nine days, forty-nine hundred miles, six or seven states… it was pretty intense. drew and I left last saturday at 6am, arrived in san diego sunday night at 11. the next 5 days were the best this year so far, and there is no contest.

until the day i die, i will laugh at how true the verse is that says (paraphrased) man makes plans but God decides the future. as a dreamer I am prone to pre-live events that are soon to happen – so I can better be prepared. kyla got to hear my thoughts regarding the trip to san diego, and encouraged me to repeat them to their intended audience. but the time arrived and the thoughts formed no words. it was better that way.

i had intentions, hopes… maybe just fantasies as i prepared to drive out. reality tends not to impede on desires when they are still in infancy, and so it was with mine. i knew how the words would sound, how my audience would react, how the moment would be tender and sweet.
the moment never came, and neither did the words. there were moments in the week that were tender and sweet, but of a different sort. honestly i thank God that those words never rolled off my tongue, one, because it’s much too soon for me (even now, i am scared), and two, because it would have introduced an awkwardness to the trip that was entirely unnecessary.

as the trip ends i realize now that i didn’t miss out. nothing that had any chance of lasting started, and everything that might always be, was furthered. and my heart was refreshed and soothed in the tiny things, like the way she hugged me “without worrying about letting go,” or by her encouragements regarding my passions, or the fact that she liked sitting by me in the car as much as i enjoyed having her there. those things that could have been missed, now stand out so clearly.

so i’m home, and she’s a friend that i will greatly treasure. and what she has yet to find out (although i’ll tell her) is that she is one of two in my life who are the standard. i saw in her eyes and smile and passions and words and desires so many things that ring familiar – the right mix of familiarity and mystery – an enticing mix that means should we have more opportunities “to become,” we would find things to talk about for days. and i’ve always treasured honest conversation much more than things that seem so easy. to find someones lips with your own is a simple journey, to find someones heart is a never-ending adventure.

I do not know when the search will begin again. even in my head now, with the crushes i entertain at times, i am laughably fearful of what might happen. upon the arrival of that time, or upon a crush that doesn’t scare me though, i have it clear in my head what she’ll be up against. it’s not an easy standard to match because i do not have the kind of friends that are easy to find.

i have the priceless friends, the type worth driving 3 or 5 or 7 (i’m not really sure, i didn’t count) hours out of the way to see for 2 hours, and the type worth driving 30 hours just to spend face to face quality time with. There’s even more to add, but not now.


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On Downloading

Interesting take on the subject of downloading music, put forth by Andrew W.K., rock musician, in an interview with Gothamist.

I stopped downloading illegally not because of an ethical conflict, although there was that, but more that I said, “At this point, I’m not enjoying this way of experiencing music.” It seemed dissonant to be sitting at my computer. I could burn it onto a CD so I could listen to it on my stereo, but I was unable to shake the connection and context of the song coming from the computer and that it had been completely separated from the person who made it and their intent. There’s something about picking up a CD, taking it out of its case, seeing the album title and artwork on the CD, and seeing the album title and artwork in the case. It’s very easy to say, “Yeah, that’s a small part of it,” but it has a very significant place in the listening of music. I don’t think it’s important, but I don’t think it can be discounted as part of the experience.

I have to agree with him actually… it is much more rewarding for me to have the full package. Often times an artist uses the actual cd and liner notes to accent the music, a fact you miss if you download music – legally or illegally.

I personally have stopped downloading music for the most part – I have a subscription to eMusic (review here) and enjoy buying music as much as possible. It is an aesthetic aspect, I guess.

This subject isn’t anything that my mind has considered in quite some time, but I found the quote and thought it to be interesting.

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Hopes Up

So I inconsistently write. No updates for a week, then two in a night. And you won’t hear me apologizing. You would hear me apologizing if I had misspelled “hear” as “here” like i first typed. I hate misspelling words.

Remember the first time you were let down? I don’t. I’m so used to it, I cannot even remember when it first happened. Fairly often do I build up my expectations only to have them dashed. I’ve learned never to trust in plans made, they just don’t work (partly why I’m so surprised I’m actually going on the road trip).

A friend recently went to New York City for her first time, and she came back raving about the Broadway shows – and nothing else. She had believed so strongly in the movie version of New York City, with it’s empty sidewalks, yellow cabs, and litter-free streets that the real thing was a heartbreaker. Sad too, because the movies do paint NYC to be a modern utopia, the perfect place to be hip on the scene or fall in love. Not the NYC she saw though… it was dingy and real. Reality sucks.

My reality sucks. It doesn’t actually, but I just bit into a bitter piece of my summer reality pie. It has been fantastic these past few months… rebuilding and renewing and in a few cases building from scratch the friendships that Will Be. There are those friends you lose contact with and wax nostalgic about later on when you receive a wedding invitation, and then there are friends that you must keep. I have those friends, I love those friends.

But I built it up in my head to be more, a classic romantic idealist wishful thinking move. I wrote the speeches, I played out the scenes, and now I must smile at my fool-esque manners. Have I learned nothing?

The funny-yet-hard part of everything happening in your head is that no one else knows. So they don’t know what you had hoped for, and they don’t see the dejection you are now facing, because it is not actual dejection, and there was nothing upon which to base your fears.

It is ok though. I try not to be a whiner and I try to make the happy eyes that hide behind my fake glasses genuine happy eyes, and like always, I’m mostly thankful that the friendship remains, despite the absence of the probably-never-would-have-been-anyways.

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This evening stands on the edge of an epic journey in my life – for once it is a journey I see coming. I’m sitting here listening to The Avalanche and kind of just being, for a few minutes. I’m packed and prepared – an odd feeling. I’m ready to go, just under 24 hours in advance.

Lately the question of why create art or what is the point of certain mediums has sprung to mind. As an idealist creative type, the hidden agenda in my creativeness is that it might change… something. The world eventually, but something else before that level too.

In light of that goal, it is disheartening to survey modern media, to view the art  that gains popular attention. The ADHD modern mind is split between instant internet fame – celebrity of the minor kind, and lifestyle glamour fame – celebrity of the major kind. In this sense, the Numa kid, Britney Spears, and Tom Cruise have a lot in common. Each has created something that has captured our cultures attention – for a varying span of time. None of them matter though. In the history books, Tom Cruise will be a sidebar trivia fact, Britney Spears will be credited with ushering in the new era of Pop, and the Numa Kid won’t be mentioned.

Yet each has created something or another, whether it be a stupid internet video, some bad music, some interesting movies, or what-not, they have produced something. And in that measure, I have potential in-common-ness with them. I too hope to produce something, to create. I hope it falls into the category of art.

The questions in front of me now is – in this modern ADHD age, how can art of any significance be created, and in these troubled times, is that the best use of time/money/energy.

Enter [stage right] Sufjan Stevens though, and the new perspective on this issue his work has brought. I respect him not just for the music he has created, but the work done prior to becoming a musician. He put in the work, he studied his craft. Rather than taking the “I’m going to start rock band and get famous” road or any variation thereof, he studied. He learned. He majored in short storytelling, he learned to play multiple instruments, and he honed his craft.

Maybe I glorify him too much, with the goal of encouraging myself. But here’s what I’ve learned from his music. Good art, art that takes time and is layered and is not necessarily populist, that art can be significant. Sufjan creates music that invites further learning. His study of Illinois contains many aspects – the history involved in the songs, the fictional narratives his lyrics weave, the emotions conjured by layered instrumentation – the further you delve in studying these, the more rewarding the music is. In other words, Sufjan creates songs that engage, not merely entertain.

Sure, you can enjoy his cd’s on a purely aesthetic level, they do sound really good. And maybe many people do, never actually hearing the lyrics. But I just find that even a cursory examination of the lyrics piques the curiosity enough that you can’t be satisfied until you understand, until it makes sense.

It’s also comforting to know that Sufjan has cd’s out that critics aren’t going to rave about, that while still worth considering – are not going down in history as albums of note. It’s encouraging because I tell myself that my first work must be perfect, not to me, but to the audience. And that won’t happen.

Leaving for a road trip tomorrow, I know the journey set out before me. But in life, I have no clue, literally no clue, how it will pan out. I sense where I am to be, where I am headed, but I could be way off base. I only know what God has put into me, what I have learned, and what I enjoy doing. Fifty years from now, I have no clue what it will be like to look back. But standing right here, on the eve of life, I feel that maybe just maybe I do have the ability to create something significant, something with value. And I look forward to that day.

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Sick Day

So I called into my morning job sick. And it’s completely not a lie, because I’m feeling bad and attempting to not move so my stomach doesn’t perform a late fireworks show.

I haven’t just slept on a weekday since school. I think I may have done it once during finals week because I didn’t have a final that day. It is truly an exquisite and wonderful thing. The clock rolled past 6:45, past 8, past 9, and I wasn’t up yet. Of course I’ll have to get up soon, because I need to be downtown at noon, but that’s ok.

But I slept in, and aside from the stomach, enjoyed the morning for once. I’m now going to go play with my new camera, and get ready, because I’ll still be showing up for my afternoon job I guess.

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Great Beyond

There is this place that I find glimpses of within all of us. I think it is what C.S. Lewis wrote about in The Weight of Glory, the fact that we never talk to a mere mortal.

Conversation after connection, acquaintance upon intimacy, it all seems to pull back the corner of a curtain. Like the chocolate bar that Charlie Bucket unwraps just the tiniest corner of. There’s a Golden Ticket waiting for us to discover, and I don’t feel I’ve ever made it past that tiny unraveled bit.

Who am I? To the government, as Better than Ezra says, I’m playing the part of anonymous numbers on a chart. To those at church, I am the Homeschooler, always weird and never there. To those who attended CFC conferences, I am That Guy Who Was Dorky Cool. To my family I am Weird But Loved. The list goes on, meanings assigned by memories or associations.

I don’t want that. I want the Heart. The Root. I feel like I had it. It was there, solidified, concrete, monumental in my life. The “Who is” in “Who is Winston.”

That’s just the key though. It wasn’t my name, nor me, it was the Preceding Me, the Before Me. My quest now, the corners I keep unwrapping, is not to find the “me,” but the context of me.

I have these wonderful friends too, who sit there eating their chocolate bars and tightly clasping their golden tickets. They are not shoving them in my face, they are not saying “look what I’ve got and you don’t,” instead they are saying “I’ve found a lead!”

Because the Golden Ticket, the “who is,” isn’t an end. What a horrible end it would be. No my friends are sitting there, reading the Golden Ticket, enjoying the goodness that comes with it, and beckoning me to follow.

The problem with things like this, is the Golden Ticket can only be unwrapped by the owner. For someone else to take hold of this, and follow it to its end, means they reap the benefits. I don’t.

Why why why why does that scare me? What is it about the defining moment, the grasping of the Truth, the unwrapping of the Wonka Bar, that I shy away from like a cat from Water?

What good is it to examine the world, the creation, the beyond me, without knowing what it is beyond. This Golden Ticket that I continually glimpse in these non-mortals I am priviledged to know, this leads to that Great Beyond.

To a world with so much to know and so little time to know it. With so much to share and so many to share it with. So much to do and too many ways to do it. The options are innumerable, the choices infinity, and that much weight is overwhelming for me. I can not do it, I can not begin to get a grasp on it.

She suggested the key though. Take what I’ve glimpsed, and dive in. Reach for it, take as much as I can get, and osmosisize it. That Wisdom that I receive, the Outside Me that can define me, is the key to the Great Beyond.

All this to say, I remember what it was like, knowing who i am, because I knew the I Am. And I only remember glimpses, and only now experience glimpses through those who are dearest to me. And until I remove the blinders, until I face the Truth, I will live as a phantom me. And the world will overwhelm and confuse and hurt and hide and change and I will be blinded by its refracted rays.

And I just found this from T.S. Eliot in another book I’m reading:

At the still point of the turning world, Neither flesh nor fleshless;
Neither from nor towards; at the still point, there the dance is,
But neither arrest nor movement. And do not call it fixity,
Where past and future are gathered. Neither movement from nor towards,
Neither ascent nor decline. Except for the point, the still point,
There would be no dance, and there is only the dance.
I can only say, there we have been: but I cannot say where.
And I cannot say, how long, for that is to place it in time.

“Burnt Norton,” Four Quartets

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Simplified Spelling

It’s been 100 years since Andrew Carnegie helped create the Simplified Spelling Board to promote a retooling of written English and President Theodore Roosevelt tried to force the government to use simplified spelling in its publications. But advocates aren’t giving up.

They even picket the national spelling bee finals, held every year in Washington, costumed as bumble bees and hoisting signs that say “Enuf is enuf but enough is too much” or “I’m thru with through.”

Thae sae th bee selebraets th ability of a fue stoodents to master a dificult sistem that stumps meny utherz hoo cuud do just as wel if speling were simpler.

-The Star Tribune


Jason Kottke says it best when he pointed out you can’t read every other paragraph on that page. Honestly it doesn’t look that much more simple to read that than to read what is familiar – even if the path to reading and spelling is longer through the traditional manner. But what’s more, how ugly does that third paragraph look?

Blech. If simplified spelling were adopted I would move to France, so that I could read and write an aesthetic language. That’s right, I’m pulling out the moving to France card. I’ll go hang with my homies Johnny Depp and that Baldwin brother, if he ever held up his promise.

While we’re on the subject of aestheticism in writing – that happens to be the number one reason all my text messages are properly spelled and generally punctualized. I simply think it looks better. Experience has also shown that credibility is added merely by formatting, capitalizing, and punctualizing. And who couldn’t use a little extra credibility?

I could, I definitely could.

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