Monday, December 1, 2008

My alter ego?

Every now and again I get the strange urge to GOOGLE myself, just to see what comes up. This time, something very odd came up on the search.

http://www.cfsl.de/games/online.php

The line "...and Siobhan Granvold from murder at boddy mansion Sunnyvale, CA" somewhat boggles my mind.

Hm, is my evil twin at work again?

Thursday, November 27, 2008

To be thankful...

It seems to me that people always choose this time of year to be overtly and expressly thankful about the things that they are given in this life. It occurs to me, usually always around this time of year, that we should be constantly thankful for these sorts of things. They do not crop up on the morning of Thanksgiving just so we will have something to say at the dinner-table when the inevitable question "what are you thankful for" crops up. We have these things every day of our life, and should appreciate them everyday. All the same, I sit here in a bed that used to be my own, and I think, maybe I should put this into words. So, here I do just that, to the best of my own ability.

I am thankful for so many things. Especially this year. This year has afforded me the opportunity to reflect on life, people, and myself in ways that I have never before been able to do. That opportunity is a rare one, and something I take for granted everyday. I have the absolute luxury to appreciate the beauty of a sunset with a cup of coffee in my hand. Not only do I have the opportunity, but I take it too. There are so many beautiful things in this world that we never see because we choose not to. I made a point of choosing to do so this year, and it has given me perspective on things that I will never again see the same way.

The simple action of taking someone's hand into your own and feeling them curl their fingers back upon yours is one of the simplest of things. I have done so with and for so many people this year. It is absolutely amazing, because the way in which I have done this recently is not something I have chosen to do for a long time. I associate it very clearly with a person I will forever love and miss. Because when I held her hand for the last time I remember looking into her eyes and seeing absolute love in them. I thought, in that moment that it might be forever gone from my life after that point. I was wrong. I held a friend's hand much the same way early this year when I looked them in the eyes and spoke the truth. They too left my life. I did so for another whom I love deeply and truly in a moment where they needed me the most. And when I took their hand between mine I realized how wrong everything was. So, I went about fixing it in the only way I knew how, by fixing myself. Just recently I took yet another person's hand in my own before placing my second hand on top of theirs and in a flash of brilliance and revelation I realized that I have not been forsaken in this world, and that I am both worthy of giving and receiving love. That must be the most beautiful of things.

I am thankful for those people in my life. Both the ones that have seen me through the years that have come before this one, and those that have only recently come into it. I am now very aware of who the truest of those people are, and I know who and what will stick by me when when I need that support the most. There is nothing more warming than the knowledge that there are people who will be by my side if everything crumbles. For them, I would be there as well. Love, trust, and friendship like that is not something that can be found everyday. I cherish it. It goes both ways because it would never mean as much if it did not. Of this I am aware, and for this I am thankful.

I am thankful for the fact that I have smiled and laughed in a way that I have not done since I was a young girl. The world is a funny play because it takes you up a road and back again to show you what you have lost and what you have forgotten. Those things that you have forgotten, like the fascination of a night sky, can again be appreciated in a whole new way. There is no kind of appreciation like the appreciation of something that has left your mind and come back to you. The world is a beautiful place so that we can forget it and come to love it all over again. People come in and out of our lives so that we can appreciate their place in it to the fullest extent.

I am also thankful for the simplest of things. I am alive. I am healthy. I am given the opportunity to live and learn in a world where many people will never get the chance. These things I take for granted every day, like breathing and eating, are only so wonderful because I know that I am lucky for them.

But, most of all, I am thankful for being needed, wanted, and loved. This is new. Very new. And it took some adjusting to get used to it. Not only am I all three of these things, but I have surrounded myself with people who believe as much. I need, want, and love them too. All of these people believe that I am worthy of these three things, and I believe that I am worthy of this too.

So, thank you, to everyone. Thank you for giving me a chance. Thank you for believing in me. Thank you for being patient so that I could take the time to learn the things about myself that I had forgotten. Thank you for taking the time everyday to show me things about myself that I never knew. Thank you for supporting me. Thank you for loving me. Thank you for seeing more than simply the facade I tried to put up to block you all out. Thank you for listening. Thank you for talking. Thank you for caring.

Thank you for everything.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Ten things that annoy this Gemini...

I am a reasonable person. No, really. I am. I think rationally, I use logic constantly, and I give every person a chance to prove themselves to me. I do not make judgements about people (or a group of people) before they themselves have had the chance to make their own case to me. I will neither hate nor love a person before I meet them, because hat's pointless. I will give people second and third chances to prove themselves to me, because not all first impressions are perfect, I know this.

With this said however, there are certain deal-breakers. Some people are idiots, and while I am not a racist, homophobe, or sexist...I WILL NOT SUFFER FOOLS. So, here I will lay out for you ten of the best ways that you can prove yourself an idiot to this Gemini. They are listed in no particular order, and I do not hold myself limited to this list.

  1. I am a woman, not an infantile dumbass who falls prey to ridiculous ploys to get me to spend more money. Case in point: I go into the Apple store today to buy a new power adaptor for my 15-inch Powerbook G4. I need a 65 watt adaptor. It is that simple. I bought this computer a little under three years ago with the extended AppleCare warranty. That warranty covers EVERYTHING, including the adaptor. The only thing not covered is damage done by the owner (ME) to the equipment. My old charger had a wire connection that had come loose, and was beginning to overheat, smoke, and spark. I walk in, tell them what I need, show them the old charger, and give them my information. I was clear, I was specific, and I knew what I needed. The man helping me then tries to tell me that "wear and tear is not covered by the warranty", and so I ask him to show me where in the contract it says that. He pulls it out, and I point him to the line that says "AppleCare covers the laptop and all of its peripherals, (charger, battery, etc...). It covers wear and tear and malfunctions. It does not cover damage done to equipment by the owner." Point for Siobhán. Next, he then tries to sell me a BRAND NEW $2000 laptop. Thank you very much, I like the MacBook Pro, I might want one, but I DO NOT NEED IT. Dumbass, give me my goddam 65 watt power adaptor for my 15-inch Powerbook G4.
  2. Okay people, I understand you're busy, I know there are only 24 hours in the day, and I realize you're pressed for time...but know your limits! I know what it is like to be very busy, and I know how stress can wear on a person. I realize that you want your Venti Faux-Latte to go and you want it now, but is it the best time to drink when you are driving with your knee, holding the drink in your hand, texting with the other, AND trying to change the radio station? Fucking hell people. Know what you can do and what will impede your ability to prioritize. The radio can wait. Think the latte can wait one minute so you can finish the text and THEN drink?
  3. I am being polite. I do not want to go out with you, I do not care about your problems, and I certainly do not want to date you. I understand that common courtesy is becoming a rare commodity in this world, really...I do know this. I understand that having someone say 'thank you' when you give them their cup of coffee is something that does not happen everyday, but there is no hidden message. I smile because I am nice, I say 'thank you' because I am polite. There is no ulterior motive. A proper response would be 'you're welcome' or 'have a nice day'. You could even hold out your hand and introduce yourself. None of these things that I do are invitations to begin a long and angry rant about your day, nor are they an open invitation to invite me to dinner, ask for my number, or...dare I say it, make some lewd comment referring to some sexual act you might be interested in. I don't care. If you want to get to know a person, introduce yourself, ask them about their day, etc... Give a person time to warm up to you. Girls are not impressed with jackass displays of macho-puffery. So quit it.
  4. Children are not adults. Be patient. Correct them if they do something wrong, but don't scold them for each and every little thing. I will be the first to admit that, yes, children do need to be told when they have done wrong. They do need to be guided, corrected, and on occasion scolded. But it is not realistic to hold a child to the standards of an adult. They simply do not have the experience and training to live up those standards. Guide them, and help them. I am not advocating letting them get away with everything and anything, but it must be done gently and kindly. Also, being a sore loser to a 5-year-old child over a game of cards is stupid. You are forty years old, get over yourself!
  5. Nobody is always right. Enough said.
  6. Your bad day is not everyone's bad day. Don't take it out on every stranger you meet. It is completely uneccessary to take out your frustrations on every person who crosses your path, whether you know them or not. If your have a disagreement with your mother, do not take it out on your best friend or your significant other. It is cruel and pointless. It will make your own day (and others' days) worse. It will make your enemies, not friends.
  7. Pointing out another's shortcoming does not make you look better by contrast, it makes you look like an asshole. Maybe you're better at something than your best friend, but it is not a reason to lord it over them as a point of ego. While I agree that pride in your own abilities and knowledge is good, arrogance is not. Teasing and joking is fine, but cruelty is not. They are (surely) better than you at something else. Everyone has a speciality and talent of their own. Do not act in a way that you would not want them to act in regards to you.
  8. A car does NOT make you invincible. Especially when the person outside of your car stands to be hurt by your dumbass driving.
  9. A moment of kindness does not hurt. It can take but a moment to help someone out most of the time. Sometimes it takes longer. But even so, helping another person is a good thing to do. If they are hurt, help them. Hold open the door for a couple extra seconds for the man on crutches behind you. Someday you may hope that another will do so for you. The woman in front of you in line who is 50 cents short of her total will appreciate the change you found in your laundry. Think about it.
  10. We are all looking for a place in this world to feel at home, for someone to understand us...be patient and people will surprise and impress you.
I'm an artist in this world
More profound with the words I don't say than I could ever be with the ones I speak aloud
I'm trying to make a mark on this world with the words and actions that they will see as pointless

Explain to me why all the things I'm not define me
Whereas all the things I am are left by the wayside
Superfluous facts that do nothing to define who I am as a person
Does that mean everything I do tells you nothing about me?

Is the emptiness inside of me everything I am?
I try to hide that darkness from the world
Is there nothing I can do to make you understand?

How should I introduce myself to the world?
If I cannot introduce the parts of me
That mean everything within
But nothing to the world out there?
Should I introduce myself as you will see me
Or as I see myself
Help me to write a definition that will do well to even begin to explain everything I am not

It's the things that are left unsaid that leave the biggest impression
The words I will make you think when this is over
If I can make you see
Make you think
Make you wonder
About this world just a little bit differently
Than I am happy
For I have done what I can

Between the lines
In the brief silence and the white space on the page
That’s the point
Therein lies the message

If that's how I communicate
Why is it so strange for me to think that might be how you understand?

For everything there is an opposite
For light, there exists darkness
For love, hate
And for good, there is evil

Given that, it is so strange to me that my silences carry more loudly than my speech
Explain that to me
PLEASE

So when you look at me
Understand that what I don't give you
Is equally as important as what I do

For every gift, there lay the possibility for the opposite
And now, when I extend my hand in friendship
Know I could have struck you down in ignorance and hate
But chose not to
And it is the choice that marks me
And extends to you as reflection of me

I see myself in the mirror
And it is opposite what you see now
Flipped around
So that I must know you
And understand how you know me
To know myself

So take my hand
Let us be friends
For friendship is far better than hate and lonliness
Let us know each other
That we might, one day, know ourselves

Speak to me in silence
And ignore me loudly
For it is between those actions that we will be at peace
We try so hard
Look so long
For a place
A person
Anything
To feel at home

But is it possible
That home has existed within us
Before us
Beyond us

It is
And it does
It's intangible
Not to be found in the world of men
But barely out of our reach
Only achievable once we understand
That we can never know ourselves until we don't know ourselves at all

The nature of humanity
Is in our imperfections
And I'm not so sure I get it any more than the next person
But that's what makes it beautiful

If you and I can disagree
But still know that we have that in common
We are one and the same

What I'm not you are
And what I am
Is defined by what I'm not
So, by that logic, you are what defines me

So look at me
Through your eyes I might see who I am
And understand what I'm not

Don't quantify or try to define me
For you cannot bring borders to the intangible
I am all that I'm not
And that's the beauty of existence

So listen close
For the silence I give you now
Is more telling than any actions or words ever could be

I see you, and you see me
Without an "US"
There is no we

And so my hand remains outstretched
In the hopes that my offer of friendship will one day be returned
And through knowing you
I can know me
And in knowing me
I can know you

For the space in between us
Is just as important as the space we occupy

I'm not pushing you away
Even now
I'm reaching out to you

For only in questions
Do we find answers

So ask those questions burning the tips of your tongues
For every one I have an answer
And I will give it to you
And even then, I will do one better
I will give you the honest one

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Vanity Blog #5: If Only I Knew German

My words fall on deaf ears but I continue talking all the same, for I have something to say. What I am trying to communicate might not be new or even revolutionary but someone, someday, will listen and it will be good. These words are old ones and I pair them together in an attempt to make people listen. I hope that they will hear what I have to say and will take that message and understand that it is an individual who is talking. My goal is not in the words. It is in me. The same message could be seen if someone took the time to look into my face long enough. The message is me.

We, as people, exist not to bear witness to the events around us. We exist, rather, to be the perceived. the problem is that the perceived does not exist without the perceiver. There must be a person to bear witness to our actions and words to turn them into something of value. My continuing search for an audience is for this and this alone. We exist in a infinite loop of both tasks. We have to be such. The infinite needs us to see it and be it. It is all so much easier with help, and I take no ones hand to help me toward my end. That leaves me with leverage, and my leverage is that I do not look until I see what I want. I talk until someone will listen. The present is as such as well. It is an infinite loop of that which will one day become "history". We are now at a point in this 'present' where we can say that truth is only that which you can make another person believe. The strength and validity of our truth is measured against how many people believe it to be true. And the methodology of creating that truth and honesty is repetition. Say something enough times to enough people and it becomes, for those people, the truth. This is why I keep talking, because for those people, it becomes grander than actuality. It is truth.

We misinterpret the naming of a thing with knowing it. For instance, how do I know a chair? Well, what is a chair? Is it the word? The sound, "chair?" The image in your mind of four legs, a seat and a back? Or is it wood from a tree that sprouted into being from a seed that traveled from tree to tree for millions of years, each tree's survival dependent upon a fragile ecological balance, a perfect combination of minerals, sunlight, weather, and, ultimately, sub-atomic particles that have been zipping around since the Big Bang? Add to that the billions of years and infinite forces needed to create the conditions needed for human beings to exist, chop down the tree, haul it to a mill, carve it into smaller pieces, send it to a factory, shape it into a chair, ship it to a store, purchase it, stick it in an car and drive it home so that an equally complex ass can sit on it, and you may begin to know a chair. In other words, when we truly look deeply into the one thing, we see it is, in fact, the all, and, of course, contained within the all, is the one thing. So, that nothing becomes everything. That nothing can be anything. I'm sitting on a chair now. What is that chair? What am I? And how should I refer to it if I don't know it? For though I know its name, I do not know its substance or being.

Even with this profound lack of knowledge of both truth and the existence of anything there is a place in this world for us. When we truly believe that nothing is anything without us, it occurs to me that the world might just be better without me. For without me NOTHING become ANYTHING. So, all those SOMETHINGS that I put value and merit in pale in comparison to the vast omniscience of the capability of NOTHING and ANYTHING. And that, my friends, means EVERYTHING.

I believe that voices of fear, both from without and within, can only be banished by putting trust the voice that comes from one's own heart. Be still. Listen to it. If it speaks of love and compassion for others, for the world itself, it just might be the voice of God--or a reasonable facsimile. If, however, it snarls with fear of the unknown, fear of losing what you have or of not getting what you want, then it just might be the voice of Adolph Hitler--or a reasonable facsimile. But, be still all the same, and listen. It has something to say, and if you believe it, it is truth.

So, when that voice comes to you in all its glory and form, give it is due. Then, and only then you may toss it away in a moment of derision and laughter. You probably have better things to do than listen to that nagging voice in your head anyway. Or instead, you may choose to be sane and make an appointment with your friendly-neighborhood-head-shrink. He will not tell you anything you do not know, and the most you hope to gain from any of those encounters is from giving this poor man a story to tell his wife when he goes home that night. Or a punchline to a joke that you will hear five years later in a bar. Something that would start with, "What do you do if you hear Adolf Hitler's voice in your head?" The punchline is almost unnecessary at that point, because the opening line of the joke sets it up to failure. It would be traded around bars and clubs for years until someone inevitably answers the question and says, "you listen". I would listen. I wouldn't follow the advice, and I might not believe it to really be Adolf Hitler, but on the off chance that it was indeed kosher, I wouldn't want to miss out. Would you?

Every voice, no matter how derisive or despicable the source, has something to say. And naming the voice or object does not define it. So, even some carbon-copy Hitler voice in your head might have something to say. Though, in the end of it, I think I'd rather have FDR. I don't know German.

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Image of a Woman

Imagine a woman who believes is it right and good that she is a woman
A woman who honors her experience and tells her own stories
Who refuses to carry the sins and burdens of others within her body and life

Imagine a woman who trusts and respects herself
A woman who listens to her needs and desires
Who meets them with tenderness and grace

Imagine a woman who has acknowledged the past's influence on the present
A woman who has walked through her past
Who has healed in her present

Imagine a woman who authors her own life

A woman who exerts, initiates, and moves on her own behalf
Who refuses to surrender except to her truest self and wisest voice

Imagine a woman who names her own god
A woman who imagines the divine in her image and likeness
Who designs personal spirituality to inform her daily life

Imagine a woman in love with her own body
A woman who believes that her body is enough, just as it is
Who celebrates her body's rhythms and cycles as an exquisite resource

Imagine a woman who honors the body of the goddess in her changing body
A woman who celebrates the accumulation of her years and her wisdom
Who refuses to use her precious life energy disguising the changes in her body and her life

Imagine a woman who values the women in her life
A woman who sits in circles of women
Who is reminded of the truth about herself when she forgets
Imagine ME as this woman

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Vanity Blog #4: I Hope For A New Dawn

For my own part: I have never had a thought which I could not set down in words, with even more distinctness than that which I conceived it. There is however a class of fancies of exquisite delicacy which are not thoughts and to which is yet, I have found, aboslutely impossible to adapt to language.

These fancies arise in the soul--alas, how rarely--only at epics of most intense tranquility, when body and mental health are in perfection. And at those near points of time, where the confines ofwakingworld land with the world of dreams. And so I captured this fancy, where all that we see or seen is but a dream within a dream....

Edgar Allen Poe

A shot of caffeine starts my every day and breath rushes to my lungs in a fervent desire to poison my every waking gulp of life giving air. The assumption that I want to live is an age old one, and people wonder why I favor to gulp down smoke instead of the clean air of this quarantine. This is a place I know far too well and have never visited for reasons of my own. I am here for another's pain and another's tribulations. Why must I feel it all?

The shot goes straight to my heart and jump starts it from the peaceful tranquility of sleep. Another day, another coffee, for that is what has replaced blood in my veins. My fingers shake as I've had no food and only espresso, a gift from a face behind the counter that knows my name, but not that the drug he hands me will keep me going for another hour.

I had a shot this morning when I awoke. It was enough to wake my brain enough to think. Not many do that anymore. I voted too. I had to think before I could do that. So much hangs on this choice that voting without a mind is unthinkable (pun intended). And because I voted, I get another free shot. The shot that reminds me how much is riding on this. A reward for something that should be done anyway. I think about how much this choice means and what it can do for this world.

Another shot and I see you face and I fall in love all over again. The simple beauty of a smile reminds me how little I need to think about you, and how okay that is. The words to describe those thoughts do not come because they are not thoughts at all, they are feelings. I may not be good enough, but if i can make you happy I am all that I want to be. Remember that when the world ends.

An IV straight to my blood adds some more energy to the mix and I cannot see for the world moves too slow. Speak quickly so that I might be slow enough to understand. If I have one more shot the world will end and it will all be over. I have made my voice heard, a thing all people should do. I have stood for those things I believe and know to be right, and I hope that will be enough. I have loved beauty, and I can call that good. This world will not end with a bang, for it started that way. Things should never end the way they began, it is not the way. Eliot has told me so, "This is the way the world ends: not with a bang but a whimper." And so with a whimper I cast my voice out into the world. All of our whimpers together might join to make a torrent of noise louder than the bang this world began with. Let us hope a new day shall dawn.

Monday, October 27, 2008

What a keyboard was made to do...


If I could find a new way to feel like my old self maybe then things would make sense. As I cannot seem to find a new solution to an old problem, I walk off in search of an old solution. I never had a solution. Would another's solution work just as well? Probably not. A strangers answer to my personal question would probably fit about as well as a square peg in a round hole. These things never work half as well as they should. I am not myself these days, and I wonder while I sleep if I ever was myself. I think too much in sleep and not enough in waking and it occurs to me that nights are not for these endeavors. If I never was myself, then who was I? I am a stranger in my own home most days, and home is nothing anymore. Then again, it has been suggested that a family might be no more than a group of people who all miss the same place. What if I miss the security of a person's arms? Does anyone else miss that same place? And if I am the only one, do I have no family. Not only would I not be myself, I would also be homeless and hopeless. The best I can hope for in such an event would be that the arms I miss so much during the day (and even more at night) belong to a person who missed my embrace just as much. That would not be beyond reason to hope for. I am not yet hopeless.

The words that fall from the busy tasks of my fingertips do not seem like my own, and I am certain my voice does not speak them. The voice that others hear fall from my lips is different from the one I hear in concert to the clicking of the keys. I wonder sometimes if the rest of the world even hears the words I intend them to. If my voice is different, why wouldn't my words be?

The other day my phone rang and I went to the door in the hopes that I would see your face on the other side. We've become so disconnected that we would rather phone across a wall rather than walk a few steps to see each other. Even with the people we are closest with we do this. Why?

Time and space seem to form around the life I am building, and I feel myself swinging through time in a way that i have only heard described by Vonnegut. I swung forward recently. The flash of the life was a sight to behold, that was for certain. I could remember everything that came in between and I feel sure that i will dream it tonight once you put me to sleep. As it stands, you sleep now under the crook of my arm and I swing back. Things that have come before this point in time flash in front of my eyes and my finger click on in the attempt to record it all in some inadequate shadow of what is happening. I swing back, and then forward again. The process repeats, and my pendulum will continue to do so. If I thought enough about this, this would frighten me beyond words. As my words continue are continuing to be born into this world, I can reasonably assume that I am not thinking too much on this. My swing forward was a sight to behold, and I think you would have liked it very much. You will see it with me someday, that I know.

Maybe this is what happens when things are working the way they should. What is time in relation to matters of love? Should we count time in centuries? Or rather do we cherish every nanosecond as though it is an hour? I am both here and years ahead all at once. In many ways I want to continue this path, but at the moment I want nothing more than to turn back the clock a few hours so that I can prolong this moment with you. I want to go forward, backward, and stay stationary with you. I want all of these things all at once. No wonder I am swinging through time in such a way. There is no other reasonable explanation.

The only thing that remains is to ask if you miss my embrace as I do yours. But, as usual, you give me an answer before I've asked the question.

-kpp.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Without Reflection

It's a dog eat dog world
Which is just fine for a bitch like her
Her heart put together from the shattered pieces she has taken from others
Love letters and sweet words that she gives you will be whittled in your skin
Blood drawn from the shards of your own heart
Scars for you to show to others
Proof that she loved you enough to do this to you
Once upon a time
When letters are sent with no postage attached they never reach their destination
A life is spent tiptoeing around the pieces of another's wreckage
They will cut into my skin the same as yours
I may not have the same scars to show but I have taken the time to put those pieces back together again
It wasn't my heart
The heart of another that never belonged to me that i pieced together
The heart she cared enough to break, but not enough to fix
The heart is still hers and it will never be mine
The organ was whole until her love acted as a hammer does on glass
The blood spilled in the task of reconstructing a life that will never again take its original form
Bandages cannot do what they should
The blood meant to keep me alive seeps from under the skin that was supposed to keep it in
Torn edges of paper that used to say more
Words carved into skin cannot be erased
Skin that used to belong to me
Skin that belongs to you, and so then it belongs to her
All you have belongs to her, and I am yours
These stories were not written for me
I did not write them
They are another's words on my lips and somehow I can breathe only blood
Teach me to unfurl the petals of the blossom yet to be
Cast a shadow of the life I desire so that i may see it once before this blood is gone
Before the words run out
How does one heal a wound that refuses to feel pain?
Why does the dawn come dark as night?
The sun refuses to shed light on this place and so we have no place to see
he speaks of her so reverently
Her portriat stands proud on his mantle like the Virgin Mother, looking over all that we do
There is no escaping her divine works now
What does that make me?
I have no right to cast the stone
She came before me, and will always be first in your mind
I built your love again and the image of her remains
For just today I will speak with you
In your own tongue and on your terms
Forget not that I am not of this place
I have no home here, and there is not one to be built for me
I can play the part you see
Walk her walk
Talk her lilt
Sing her songs
But you cannot be fooled
So I rebuild the vestiges of the heart she broke
There is one piece she took away with her
I give you a piece of mine so that yours might be whole
A child looks through the chink of my own heart
She sees only the image of you
Why must she have inherited your eyes?

--S.Granvold

Vanity Blog #3: The Art of Being Right

I believe that I am unequivocally right about everything. This sort of self-righteousness manifests itself from the logic and rationale that has been instilled into me from the young years of my life. Being raised in such an environment I came to question not only those positions that disagreed with my own, but also those that I subscribed to myself. I believe that this, more than anything, can explain my cynicism and bitterness regarding the world. Not only do I regard other people's opinions with extreme pessimism, but I regard my own statements and opinions with the same doubt. I hold myself to higher standards than I hold others to because I believe that I am better than that. This is my vanity at its best. I hold myself to a higher standard than the rest of the world because, quite simply, I do not want to be like the rest of the world. I get somewhat stubborn when convinced of my own righteousness in any given situation that I refuse to let go when I've sunk my teeth in. I will argue a point to exhaustion. I take defeat very personally, and so I have learned how not to lose.

My parents, damn their intellectual hearts, raised me to be intelligent, self-serving, and rational. I never understood why everyone else in the world did not subscribe to this same definition of intelligence. I firmly believe that everyone has it in them to be intelligent, but that many choose not to be. Why they would do so boggles my mind. So, logical being that I am, I came to the eventual understanding that intelligence and the effort required to manifest it were overrated and not truly valued in this world. Even as such, I go about trying to impart some kind of impression on people that will make them see basic reason, basic logic, ANYTHING! My inherent desire to make this world see reason and my intrinsic laziness now cohabit in an apartment far too small for them and the divorce proceedings are still in the works.

I am, as stated, cynical and sarcastic. But, really, I'm an optimist. I just like to throw in a good dose of reality into my paradigm. I believe that people on the whole have the ability to achieve greatness. Until the rest of the world sees this, I will do it myself in small ways. Someday, I hope, it may add up to something truly great. I have nothing to show for my quest yet, but the day of reckoning is yet to be had.

You may have come to the logical conclusion at this point that I am merely a bitchy, overrated, egoist, arrogant girl who is capable of huge delusions of grandeur. You would be right if you came to that conclusion. However, it would require you to follow a basic line of logic to understand that, and as most people cannot, I thought it prudent to simply supply all the idiots with the answer. It's easier that way.

There is no hope. Only reality. Reality is a sad sad reflection of what it could actually be if people took the time to think. Unfortunately, as coherent thought seems to be a thing of the past and a fad that has seen its day, I await a new dawn.

Prop 8

For those of you who have not been following my recent Facebook discussions, this post is in response to an ongoing conversation about Prop 8.

Nathan, Joseph, I post this here in that it is too long to post on Facebook.

I am now going to address what I believe the majority of your arguments seem to have been about, and in addition a few that have been brought up tangentially by Joseph's other posted links. The bolded part at the beginning of each entry is the argument that I am addressing.

  1. The passage of Prop 8 does not discriminate against the LGBT community. Prop 8 is simple and clear: it eliminates the rights for same sex couples to marry. It would write discrimination against one group of people--lesbian and gay people (incidentally a protected class in California)--into our state constitution.
  2. If Prop 8 does not pass, our children will be taught about homosexuality in schools. There is not even ONE word about education in Prop 8, and no child can be forced against the will of their parents to be taught anything about health and family issues at school. California law prohibits it. Sacramento Superior Court Judge Frawley has ruled that this claim is "false and misleading". Incidentally, one of the most conservative newspapers in the state, the Orange County Register, has also said that this claim is false. http://www.ocregister.com/articles/marriage-sex-protection-2174926-california-state And lawyers for the Department of Education have also stated that this claim is false.
  3. A Massachusetts case about parents' objections to school curriculum will happen here. In contrast to Massachusetts, California parents and given the absolute right to remove their children from school and opt out of any curriculum regarding health and family instruction that they do not agree with. Why bring up a case that is irrelevant here due to laws that California has that Massachusetts does not?
  4. Four activist judges... "Prop 8 is not about courts and judges, it’s about eliminating a fundamental right. Judges didn’t grant the right, the constitution guarantees the right. Proponents of Prop 8 use an outdated and stale argument that judges aren’t supposed to protect rights and freedoms. This campaign is about whether Californians, right now, in 2008 are willing to amend the constitution for the sole purpose of eliminating a fundamental right for one group of citizens." I quote this directly from www.noonprop8.com as I believe I could not state it better myself.
  5. The definition of marriage. This discussion regards political issues, not religious. We are not a country that is centered on religion. While many citizens are religious, our policies are not determined by that. This is law. And by law in California sexuality is a protected class, and they cannot therefore be denied anything based on that difference. Even something so simple as that title of marriage. Because you say nothing is being denied but that title. The title is. By denying that we are writing discrimination into our state constitution.
  6. Plessy. Plessy v. Ferguson separated everything. Schools, restaurants, places of worship, marriage. Everything. Everything was kept separate because of an irrational fear and in some cases a religious argument that it was for the better. Brown was the case that overturned it. And yes, Brown did directly have to deal with education, but it overturned Plessy on the whole. I don't remember the last time I wrote down my place of worship or favorite restaurant on my resume.
  7. Churches might lose their tax exempt status. This derives from a flase connection to a case in New Jersey regarding a Methodist Church. Considering that is the case that occurred in a state that does not allow the gay right to marry, so it has nothing to do with Prop 8. The New Jersey case "the Ocean Grove Camp Meeting Association (OGCMA), a Methodist organization, had taken advantage of a New Jersey law granting a state property tax exemption for a pavilion in the seaside town of Ocean Grove that was dedicated for public use. Note that the case did not involve income tax exemptions and note that the purpose for giving the exemption in the first place was to reward organizations for opening their buildings and facilities for public use. The property in question was a boardwalk pavilion open to the public. 'Bands play there. Children skateboard through it. Tourists enjoy the shade. It's even been used for debates and Civil War re-enactments.' it was also available to be reserved for marriage ceremonies by people of any faith. Nevertheless, the OGCMA wanted to prohibit a gay commitment ceremony (not a marriage ceremony) from being held in the pavilion. The New Jersey real estate commission ruled that if OGCMA intended to claims a property tax exemption for a building open to the public, the could not discriminate. Seen in this light, it was a sensible ruling. Implicit in the ruling is that the group could discriminate if they ceased to claim a property tax exemption for a public facility. It is important to note that this ruling pertained to only the pavilion, which constituted a mere one percent of the property the OGCMA owned. The total amount of additional tax asserted was $200. The OGCMA continues to recieve a property exemption for the remaining 99% of its property. This case had nothing at all to do with any Mormon, Catholic or any other church's chapel or sanctuary that is used for religious purposes. It has nothing to do with any church's income tax exemption. To my knowledge, the Mormon Church has never sought to take advantage of a property tax exemption similar to the New jersey exemption and likely never would. The California Supreme Court ruling on gay marriage cannot have any federal tax consequences, and the Court so noted explicitly in its decision. The Supreme Court also noted that its ruling would not require any priest, rabbi or minister to perform gay marriages, which should be self-evident because of the First Amendment's guarantee of freedom of religion." (quoted from www.mormonsformarriage.com)
  8. Ministers who preach against same-sex marriages may be sued for hate speech and risk government fines. It already happened in Canada, a country that legalized gay marriage. A recent California court held that municipal employees may not say: “traditional marriage,” or “family values” because, after the same-sex marriage case, it is “hate speech.” Of course, anyone can be 'sued' for anything, but the fact remains that no minister has been convicted of a crime in Canada or the United States for preaching against same-sex marriages. Remember also that in the US we have far more liberal laws regarding freedom of speech and religion laws than in Canada. The description of a California case that I have heard brought up is again, irrelevant. Good News Employee Association v. Hicks was decided BEFORE the California Supreme Court decision, so it has nothing to do with Prop 8. Nathan, you yourself said that "The real problem occurs when you have a homosexual couple request a marriage ceremony in a church whose doctrine does not allow such a marriage to take place. The church obviously says no, and the couple who already knew what the answer would be, files a discrimination lawsuit." (quoted, Nathan) "If a minister can be sued for discrimination for refusing to marry a gay couple, then his right to worship is forfeit." (quoted, Joseph) California law prohibits this, so what is the problem?
  9. The choice to be a homosexual/heterosexual. Homosexuality is not only a choice. Where yes, a person technically has the choice of the person they choose to partner themselves with, they do not choose their basic instincts regarding who they are attracted to. As not all people subscribe to the same religious doctrine, it is not necessary or relevant to use one religious doctrine to define all people's actions or moral compass.
  10. Threat to marriage. As I see it, the biggest threat to marriage is divorce. With a 48% divorce rate I think we might have bigger things to worry about.
  11. Marriage as a religious ceremony. As I have stated, marriage was not, historically speaking, originally a religious ceremony. Even among Christian cultures it was not required for a religious official to oversee the union until 1545 and the Council of Trent. Until that point marriage was purely, a personal matter. If we are going to the origins of marriage, should we not go back to that? Also, marriage exists both as a religious ceremony and as a legal document. It is not always both. Where one might be recognized by the church and not by the state, it might also happen in the reverse. What Prop 8 is choosing to redefine is a legal definition of marriage, not a religious one. But it is choosing to use a religious point to view to try and define a legal contract.
  12. "When it comes to religious freedom vs anti-discrimination, religious freedom looses. THAT is wrong. That is taking our rights away." (quote, Joseph October 21 @ 9:13pm). You claim the religious freedom is more important, even if it infringes the right of others. I think not. Your right to worship as you please should not interfere with an individual's right to live as they please. It's that simple.
  13. "The definition of marriage among judeo-christian religions has existed LONG before that same society to which you referred, so how far afield do you want to go?" (quoted, Nathan October 22, 6:34am). You claimed that the roots of marriage were religious. They are not. If you choose to go onlyu far enough back to prove your point you leave out the real origins of the institution of marriage."The definition of marriage among judeo-christian religions has existed LONG before that same society to which you referred, so how far afield do you want to go?" (quoted, Nathan October 22, 6:34am). You claimed that the roots of marriage were religious. They are not. If you choose to go only far enough back to prove your point you leave out the real origins of the institution of marriage. As Sean has provided for me there is mention of marriage both outside of and predating the Christian institution. "Epic of Gilgamesh: tablet 2: Enkidu and Shamhat leave the wilderness for Uruk to attend a wedding."
  14. "I do claim inconsitency because there are currently other people in the USA that ask for their "rights" to marriage to be recognized. Why should your redefinition be accepted and theirs rejected?" (quoted, Nathan October 22, 9:46am) I claim that the reasoning of these four California Supreme Court Judges was sound, and not made in haste nor was it a rash decision, take a look at the reasonings they gave.
    • "The flaw in characterizing the constitutional right at issue as the right to same-sex marriage rather than the right to marry goes beyond mere semantics." p. 53, from In Re Marriage Cases.
    • "Because the right to marry refers to the right of an individual to enter into a consensual relationship with another person, we find it appropriate and useful to refer to the right to marry as a right possessed both by each individual member of the couple and by the couple as a whole." FN34, p. 53
    • "In undertaking this inquiry, we put to the side for the moment the question whether the substantive rights embodied within the constitutional right to marry include the right to have the couple’s official relationship designated by the name “marriage” rather than by some other term, such as “domestic partnership.”" (p.54)
    • There the high court, in describing the scope of the “liberty” protected by the due process clause of the federal Constitution, stated that “ ‘[w]ithout doubt, it denotes not merely freedom from bodily restraint, but also the right of the individual to contract, to engage in any of the common occupations of life, to acquire useful knowledge, to marry, establish a home and bring up children, to worship God according to the dictates of one’s own conscience, and, generally, to enjoy those privileges long recognized at common law as essential to the orderly pursuit of happiness by free men.’ ” (Perez, supra, 32 Cal.2d at p. 714, italics added [“to marry” italicized by Perez], quoting Meyer, supra, 262 U.S. 390, 399.) The Perez decision continued: “Marriage is thus something more than a civil contract subject to regulation by the state; it is a fundamental right of free men.” (Perez, supra, 32 Cal.2d at p. 714, italics added.)
    • "As plaintiffs maintain, these high court decisions demonstrate that even when the state grants ostensibly equal benefits to a previously excluded class through the creation of a new institution, the intangible symbolic differences that remain often are constitutionally significant."
    • "Second, particularly in light of the historic disparagement of and discrimination against gay persons, there is a very significant risk that retaining a distinction in nomenclature with regard to this most fundamental of relationships whereby the term “marriage” is denied only to same-sex couples inevitably will cause the new parallel institution that has been made available to those couples to be viewed as of a lesser stature than marriage and, in effect, as a mark of secondclass citizenship."
    • "Under these circumstances, we conclude that the distinction drawn by the current California statutes between the designation of the family relationship available to opposite-sex couples and the designation available to same-sex couples impinges upon the fundamental interest of same-sex couples in having their official family relationship accorded dignity and respect equal to that conferred upon the family relationship of opposite-sex couples."
  • You asked for a outlining of the fallacious arguments you have used, and so I will give them.
    • The first is called "An Appeal to Belief": something is not true simply because you believe it to be so. A religious doctrine is one such basis when used as an outline for a legal discussion. And the fact that a majority of people may agree with you does not make that claim necessarily true. Also here I will add "Appeal to Common Practice", the fact that something is done and is commonly done does not make it right on the basis of that. This has also been called "Appeal to Tradition".
    • "Begging the Question" you imply that the fact that it has been done this way means that it is inherently right. It's a circular argument, saying that it's wrong because it has been prohibited, and it has been prohibited because it is wrong.
    • "Division". The qualities and attributes of the whole should not be be attributed to each part. In this case you say that because civil unions and marriage have the same legal rights that they are the same. While yes, they are both a part of something known as partnership recognized by legal status and they may be in most ways equivalent, that fact does not make them equal.
    • "Questionable Cause". However many cases you bring of how you think this will harm our families, children, religious institutions, or rights (though as I have laid out, many of them happen to be not relatable anyway), they are not necessarily logically linked. Simply because these events may be commonly associated with gay marriage and the right to do so does not mean that one caused the other.
    • Slippery Slope". You say yourself, if we consider this redefinition why should we not reconsider them all. This "what would be next" line of thinking is a fallacy.

Cited sources include: Responses from California Supreme Court Judges, www.mormonsformarriage.com, and www.noonprop8.com. Also used, as you have noted was the wikipedia article on marriage. This was used as an outline of the historical background of marriage. If you would like me to cite other sources on this matter, I can if you so desire or require. I did not feel it necessary to cite the entire article, just the portions I was using.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Vanity Blog #2

I believe that a life left without scrutiny is a life not worth living at all. Oddly enough, I have also found that my life examined has left me with a big headache and a lot of heartache. I believe that this is a dilemma worth examining, even with the headache that it might cause. I believe that progress for people is gained at times of extraordinary difficulty. I believe that those times when peoples' egos and vanities are completely shattered and torn are when they grow the most. Unfortunately, all of this was wasted on me, because it required me to spend months and years afterward building up a new ego and new façade that was stronger and more resilient than the one that shattered before it. I believe that we so desperately seek connection with other people that we give them the ability to break us. We wait not for them to break us, which I believe many of them will eventually do, but rather we wait for the one who we give that ability to who does not choose to take that opportunity. I believe that this kind of fear of total breakage and pain is what we expose ourselves to when we fall in love. I believe that love is the highest form of torment that we can subject ourselves to. For in what other endeavor do we open ourselves to such opportunity to complete destruction? After each and every knock down that I've gotten has actually been a step up for me, and I believe that every step has been in the effort to create a stronger, better version of myself. I believe that the daughter, friend, sister, girlfriend, writer, artist, nerd, damaged-girl, gamer, coffee-drinker, sarcasm, history-nerd, snob, egoist, brat, success and failures in me have all been steps on the way to the ways in which I am now. While each of these steps have been false versions of myself because they were no more than passing fancies that were little more shadows on the wall or the light creating the shadow itself. None of them were…are the actual Siobhán. So where does this leave me? I believe it might leave me right where I started, without ego? I wish. No, I am as much of an egoist as ever. But it makes me wonder, is that enough?

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Vanity Blog #1

This will be the first of a series of blogs that will occur at random, according to my whim. They are modeled after Chuck Lorre's Vanity Cards which would appear at the end of his TV shows for a brief interim and were usually loaded with a copious amount of text. These are based purely on my beliefs and thoughts as they occur to me and will generally cater to my own sense or pride, vanity, and superior self-worth. Sometimes they will stay on one topic, sometimes they will not. Occasionally they will be deep and meaningful, and sometimes they will be shallow. Deal with it, this is my shameless attempt to share my views with people.

------------------------------------

I believe that most people in this world think that they are better than everyone else around them. This is not true. It simply isn't. At the very least, for one simple fact. I AM BETTER THAN EVERYONE. At the very least, I am better than most. It is true, and I know it to be so. But, I believe that I would not be so amazing were others not so un-amazing. It is, after all, a matter of comparison. I believe that most people know this, but simply refuse to admit to it. But, seriously now, I also believe that a person's sense of superiority lies in the fact that they are better than another person. I believe that there is always someone better and some one worse than you out there which gives rise to Buttercup's line, "Only compared to some."

I believe that nobody is that fantastic. If they were, I believe that they might just spontaneously explode. I believe it would be so. I believe that my point of view is generally best. Whether it actually is or not is sort of a moot point right now.

I also believe that the very belief in something both manifests itself in our life and causes us to fear it. We cannot fear something that does not exist, and so as soon as we believe it into existence, we have created something both capable of inspiring awe, respect, or fear. Or, possibly, any other number of feelings in us. I also believe that our feelings are shaped by our experiences and are subject to our whim. This means that we are both capable of and responsible for managing our emotions, feelings, actions, and thoughts. I believe that no one (short of holding a gun to your head, vicious blackmail, brute strength, or a really cute pout) can make you do something against your will. Your will and body is your own to do with what you will and I believe that no one can make you feel guilty about that unless you already feel guilty about it yourself.

I believe that a person has only themselves to answer to at the end of the day, and if they are not happy with that, then they should change something about their life until they are. I believe that change is good and acceptance is even better. I also (for some God-forsaken reason) believe that there is good in this world if people would only care to take the time to look.

You are amazing and compassionate people, even if you do not yet know it.

Thank you.

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

not like me...

Have been feeling somewhat...under the weather lately. I am not sure if something is in the air or if there is something more philosophical at work. Either way I have been unable to feel like myself in the hectic pace of my life lately. I am having issues finding my grounding, and very few things feel like home anymore. It's like I explained to somebody today. Sacramento has never been home. This is not where I belong. Not really. The place and people are not one that I wish to continue with as the years go along.

But if the place I live is not home...then what is? I'm not at home in the home of my parents, that much has been glaringly obvious, for that has become more symbolic to me over the years than anything else. And if my apartment here isn't...Well, where am I to go?

This is not all there is
What we see and what we know is nothing
Experiences are limited to the size of our perceptions
We see nothing
We are blind and must make judgments in the dark
I can't do that
That's just not like me
I could ask for more, but what would I get?
To answer to a vengeful God who wishes to strike guilt and terror in my heart is just not like me
Are you happy with that?
Or do you also say you cannot, like me?
I do not need that justification to stand on
I am good and kind of my own accord
I have beauty and compassion in a world that has shown me none
So, why do they not like me?
There is no promised land
Too many people are hurting to call it that
With nothing to call my own I walk on in a world that lost sight of me years ago
I am not lost, even though I do not know where I am going
To lose my way is not like me
Even the sky is too terrified to show itself to the world these days
Another hour is spent raining the tears I cannot cry for the crimes of men who have no one to answer to but their own conscience
Who polices that?
It is not in me to cry for those men, even those who have broken and killed me
That's not like me
Are you saddened by the state of the world?
Do you walk on doing nothing about its wrongs?
Or do you endeavor, in your own small way, to make it a better place?
Maybe, instead, you paint on a smile and go on whether you like it or not, like me
Why does the world take the beauty of innocence and ruin it?
What was there to be gained?
All it gave me was a quest
A jaded thirst for answers with no questions
Even when there is no method to madness, the chaos makes sense
That could be my answer
I could accept its simplicity, but that's just not like me
The tears of my eyes are not my own
The salty tracks they use as roads numb my sight
The day is so still that it feels like death
I keep waiting for even an ounce of kindness to be shown to me
Why do they not like me?
This is my kingdom and in it, I am perfect
The fire is dying and I light a cigarette with its last breath
All my answers are smoke
I am too good for the lives I have lived
I never asked for any of this
My broken lungs breathe air that hates them
My perfect beauty was crafted by hands that never knew what creature would be born from their wreckage
Flowers bloom from the tears of this world
Absolute beauty comes from perfect pain
So too am I
A perfect girl with a hole in my heart and I wonder, can it too be watered by tears?
I know I've cried enough
Will flowers grow in to fill the space?
I only want to know one thing
With my beauty and my perfection
Why do I not like me?

-S.Granvold

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Of Clouds and Crows

So many things to do but none of them seem to matter
I look out and hope to meet your gaze but you're no longer here
So I choose, instead, to lie out on the grass in the hopes that it's embrace could rival yours
You and I both know that nothing does
Instead of your eyes I see the sky
A blue that resonates a total of zero times
That nothing seems to take over
Clouds scattered randomly in a pattern that suddenly makes perfect sense
They float on by with a carelessness I can no longer reach
A night crow flies by with purpose
A purpose that has left me in days gone by and has not been missed since its absence
So I watch, instead, the crow and his intent as it passes me by
I wonder what goes through his mind
Might he be tired?
Would he like to sit for a while next me on the grass which must look greener from his vantage?
Would he like to rest his wings and exchange a few words?
Reflections on what he might have to say pass my eyes
Maybe he would just listen to my stories
The epic tales of my own continued correspondence with terrestrials
It just might be that he would caw on and on
Sounds that I could never understand
Trying to tell me of the creatures who own the sky
A place I have always longed to inhabit
I have long had to content my desires with those of the ground
My land-locked feet forbidding the adventures I would take with wings I will never have
We could sit for hours I reckon
It might be, when it was all over, that we would make a date for the same time the next day
I might ask him to take me for a ride
For my hands long to skim over the clouds of my dreaming
Could he take me with him?
I could ask him to show me a world that was never my own
Maybe, instead, I could clip his wings and take him with me
I could
I would never inhibit such beauty in that way
So, I will instead keep him in my mind and remember the conversation we never had
For I never asked him to linger
A lost opportunity at a friend that will never be
Advice I will never hear
Tales from eyes that I never looked into
Maybe I'll choose to forget him
But I can't do that now
For I never got the chance
I'll go on with my day
The clock ticks by with its steady pace
Seconds and minutes telling me of the places I should be
In the distance a bell rings
I'm running out of time
No time left to linger in the grass of another's yard where everything is green
For my own world is dreary without the colors of this world
Back to time
Time for reality
Reality of what I see with my eyes
What I see of a world I was never at home in
I can return again
It won't be the same
Even at this time tomorrow
The chance is gone and I must take what I can
Even if it is just the possibility of a conversation I never had
Perhaps, tomorrow, he will stop by
I won't be there
I could say, "Next time."
There is only this time
So maybe tomorrow I will avoid a conversation with the clouds
But with a thirty percent chance of rain
I think they will only cry on me

-S.Granvold

Thursday, September 25, 2008

life will be all that you make it...

This past week has seen a good number of "firsts" for me. Some of them bad, but the overwhelming number of them exceedingly good. You see to the left here the first picture I've taken with two people I had never before taken a picture with. Side note: thank you Katia, this picture would not have been complete without your hand and the back of your head. At the end of everything, I am alive, in one piece, and exceedingly happy. All things considered, I count myself as having come out far ahead of par. Life treks on in such a way as to allow me to remain more than content with my place and circumstance. Even the worst of these recent days has left me more certain of the things and the people I have chosen to give places in my life to. Whatever might have happened does not matter, because what did happen was far more critical.

It has been said of me before that I am something of a klutz. People all around me are dancing intricate steps while I continue to trip over my own feet. However many times I may stumble over that doorstep, I will always get back up again. While some might say that makes me a fool, it seems to have done nothing but good for me. I refuse to fix a system that is not broken. So, having fallen off the metaphorical horse once again, I did the only thing that occurred to me. I stood, checked myself and others for injury, and jumped right back on. There was nothing else for it. The trust to which that speaks not only gives me infinite knowledge about myself, but also about that metaphorical horse and that journey I have chosen.

I took off this weekend for an escape into rain, trees, and dirt. It has been a long time since I have gone camping and it was certainly long overdue. So, thus packed and ready to go we (Steve, Katia, Sean, and myself) set off onto the road. I learned, quickly at that, that I should never discredit that 30% chance of rain, especially when the rain would be inconvenient. I learned several things that weekend. Thankfully, one was a lesson I had learned before, and served me well in two regards over the course of the weekend. I learned how to fall a long time ago, and thank goodness too, otherwise both of those things could have been...well, bad. In a way I am learning to fall all over again. Only this time tucking my chin and pulling my arms in won't do me any good. I must trust myself to fall without knowledge of what the repercussions might be. At least (both literally and metaphorically) I am not falling alone. I now have things in my life that I didn't even know I wanted...maybe I'll finally get my wings too...

And so fool that I now am, I wish for wings,
As one foot steps off the edge of the cliff that I've been teetering on for my entire life

So, we set our tents up, boiled our water, and pulled out the boxed Cabernet Sauvingon and prepared for the night. A meal of freeze dried Beef Stroganoff and two cups of cheap wine later and the conversation quickly began to degrade. It should be mentioned here, that this is not a good mix in my stomach. Included in this "conversation" was a horribly bad (yes, redundancy can be fun) rendition of Friends in Low Places by Garth Brooks, to which we could not even remember all of the words. Seems to be a common problem with this group, as previously we had trouble with the words of American Pie even with the lyrics printed out in front of us. Now, keep in mind here that Siobhán is a cheap date when it comes to wine, and this night was no exception to the rule. I was afraid, at one point, that we had scared away our camping neighbors.

So, my camping urges thus satisfied, I made my way back into the real world. If I had thought it would be boring in comparison, oh how wrong I was. From
plans far that I am far to young to consider to backwards marriage proposals of convenience from men I don't even know I have had myself an interesting week.

Despite annoyances at certain people who seem unable to do the simplest of things, I go on with my life the best way I know how.


Oh, and as a note, Siobhán has the most bizzarely awesome afterglows ever! And she is glad someone finally understands them.

So, suffice to say, Siobhán is looking forward to the near future and is trying not to think too hard about the upcoming
Batizado. I am building a life for myself that could possibly end up to be better than anything I could have ever planned in my youth.




Slainte!

Ciao!

Tchau!

Arrivederci!

Meow!

Thursday, September 18, 2008

axé!

Capoeira is a Brazilian "martial art", as many of you have probably heard me say in the past. But the term "martial art" goes a long way to NOT describing Capoeira at all. While there is, certainly a fighting element involved in Capoeira, it is also so much more. Mestre Acordeon has said that it is "A dance like a fight, a fight like a dance, a song…a way of life." It is, at once, a martial art, but it is much more ritualistic and fluid than more traditional Asian Martial Arts. But I will explain that later.

Capoeira begins in Brazil during the period of the slave trade with the slaves taken from West Africa to work on the Brazilian sugar plantations. Capoeira takes its roots in the Diaspora of West African traditions, which explains a lot of traditions that I will enumerate at a later point. Capoeira, as compared to other martial arts, is very young, having only been in practice for around 300 years, and only established itself in the last century. Up until that point Capoeira had a history of violence, danger, and unlawfulness.

The slaves practiced Capoeira in secret, as they had to hide it from their masters. As such Capoeira was turned into something that resembled a dance in many ways more than a fight. Once slavery was abolished in Brazil these ex-slaves made up the lower rungs of society, and many of them took up crime and gangs as a way to survive. Because of this Capoeira became associated with poverty, crime, and gangs. Capoeira, up through the early 20th century was heavily punishable by law. It was even, at a point, punishable by death. Capoeiristas found ways around these laws and rules. There are rhythms on the main instrument, the Berimbau, that indicate certain things to Capoeiristas. One, in particular, tells some of the ways in which Capoeiristas had to hide their activities. Cavalaria is a rhythm on the berimbau that tells Capoeiristas that the police are coming, and to get out. In this way they are able to, covertly, help each other out and get out. Hopefully, by the time that the police got there, the only person left would be the one holding the berimbau and there would be no roda to break up. Other rhythms dictate the type of game that will be played, or to form the roda.

The roda is the circle around which Capoeiristas sit and within which the game of Capoeira is played. Music is played, songs are sung, and the game is played. The roda is a somewhat sacred place in Capoeira culture. There are many rituals and traditions that revolve (pardon the pun for those of you who get it) around the roda.

At this point, I find it pertinent to get into a discussion of Capoeira rituals, of which there are many. The first, and possibly most important of which is the Batizado celebration. Batizado translates to mean baptism. It is the celebration at which new students receive their first belts and actually become Capoeiristas. The celebration generally spans a weekend and involves workshops for students, visiting mestres, food, music, dance, and a lot of merry-making, as they would say. It is an opportunity for students and mestres alike to come together in celebration. Students, as I did just a few weeks ago, make their own cordao (belt), and eventually must enter the roda with a Mestre to receive it. Students are often presented with apellidos (nicknames) at Batizados as well that do something to explain something about them and that will follow them through their Capoeira lives.

Capoeira is not a fighting style so much as a way of moving and defending that can be applied to fight. It is, traditionally, fought barefoot. One explanation that I have heard to explain this has been to harken back to Capoeira's West African origins. In many West African religions there is a belief that ancestors do not go up (say, to heaven) when they die, but rather underneath us in the ground. Therefore, our connection with them is through the ground and the feet are more sacred than the hands; the hands being made for work. This would also explain why a lot of Capoeira fighting is done with the feet. This is why you will also see many Capoeiristas 'connecting' with the ground at various moments. The most obvious and continuous example of this is the fact that we are often barefoot, especially during the roda. Also, you will see many Capoeiristas touch the ground with their hand just before, and especially after the game has been played. This moment of connection is singular and specific to each and every Capoeirista. Some sign the cross before they touch the ground, others hold their hands over their hearts during certain songs, and others still create their own ritual.

The idea of community is very important in Capoeira, and is made evident in everything. The roda is the most important example of this. Even if one is sitting on the outside of the roda and is not playing a game, they are responsible for clapping and singing to keep the Axé (energy) going for the players.

There is so much more to Capoeira, and many things I do not yet know. Not all of this is any kind of definitive description of Capoeira, but it does well to explain some of the basics to those of you who do not know much about this art that I have come to love.

If you have any questions, please ask, I love talking about this, and I enjoy helping people to understand this art that is growing in American culture.

Agua de Beber, the studio at which I train, is having its Batizado on Saturday, September 27 at 4pm. If you are interested in seeing a good show and want to come out, I suggest it. It starts promptly at 4pm and is $10 for the public to come and watch.

Blessings to all of you, and especially to everyone out there that is preparing for their own Batizados for in that way you are my brothers and sisters and I love you all. Immense gratitude goes out to all of those who have taught me, and especially to Contra-Mestre Galego for all of his help.

Axé!

Ie viva meu mestre!
Ie viva meu mestre camara!

Ie que me ensino!
Ie que me ensino camara!

Ie a Capoeira!
Ie a Capoeira camara!

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

less than three...




The dust is in my eyes and my boots are kicked up, I've won a lot of heartsick prizes along the way. I've picked up so much and left even more behind. I never see these things when they're sticking to my skin, but I'm certainly better off for everything that I let in. To be certain, I'm better for what I let in than what I choose to keep out. I lost way too much way too young, and the with all the promise and work left undone. It's funny to think that all that guards me is some created imaginary median line and I used to fear that brutal crossing over. Now it's time and it's not painful at all, and not nearly as frightening as I once imagined.

One days those bullies will be withered up and spent. The father, son, the holy warriors, and the president will fall from the imagined grace of our reverence. Those glory days when we kept up our fists for all the world to see will beat them - and maybe us - into submission in the name of the free. I've heard it said that we're in an evolution, but we're all so busy now that we can't even keep our heads. How do we get ahead? Planets eternally pirouetting and atoms that are cleaved in half remind me that it all will keep moving.

Those crosses on the side of the road tied with ribbons look lonely with the flowers that will die in commiseration for the memories with which they were laid to rest. They remind me, daily, how lucky I am to be able to walk this mile. I lay down at night and smile to myself at my luck. Wake me up again. There's a poem in my head. I don't believe in war but I do believe in luck. The birds call to me in the morning; what are they saying? The gate blows open and the trees sway in the wind. I pass the cemetery sometimes and stop to think. The names forever written in stone beg a silent prayer. When I come home it is time for supper and I know that all I can ask is to be loved, and the only way to ask for that is to give it myself.

I wasn't looking for a lover or a friend. I wasn't pretending and I wasn't working undercover. You walked across that space, an imagined dance floor in my mind, and you said the only thing that could have been said. Intricate steps of a dance I never learned played out in front of me and suddenly I knew how to move. I knew that I wanted to see more and I knew that I would try. Eye contact is all that is needed at times. I don't want to be saved, and I don't want to wake. Let me sleep. I was born a Gemini. I don't mind confiding, or even the word vomit. I've been misled and misguided, and I am easily led astray. I dance with disaster, and I rarely miss a step. I spin faster and faster, long after many have slipped. In the middle of everything there's someone to break the fall. Over and over, again and again. I stumble on in.

I am pulled in so many directions, but I choose my own no longer burdened with regret. I dive in over my head and find a way to stay above water. There is a perfect protection. I am soaked to the skin, but water is my home. There are bones in my closet; I've collected quite a few over the years. Goodness knows what causes any two peoples' timing to coincide or what brought this fool to where she is now. Love a fool!

There is no time and no space and there is a permanent smile on my face. My friends have complained that I'm going insane, but the truth is...we're all just afraid. That's okay. My fear has been thrown out, for it's not worth the time. We all decide what counts for us, and for me it's in everything. Outside, inside, actions, reactions... It's not a lie. What brighter light is there? I'm going with the tide and the angel on my shoulder wonders just why I've blindfolded her.