Quote of the Day

Friday, March 27, 2009

where is my mind?

I really wanted to write today.  So many thoughts swimming around my head this morning that I wanted to get down before the sneaky little bastards wriggle away.  But when I finally took my lunch break at 3pm, absolutely nothing would come.  I knew my mind was probably just exhausted from about 4 straight hours of entering credit card bills in Quickbooks, trying to learn as I go, but it didn't stop the tiny paranoid voice in my head from screaming, "Run, run for your liiife!", convinced that all the creativity was being slowly but surely sucked from my brain to make room for accounting and finances and bills, oh my.  It's a scary feeling for me, being so focused on it that I can't seem to manage thinking about anything else.  Unable to even concentrate on reading my book, about all I could manage was to put on some music and stare blankly at the computer screen.  I've really got to get this stuff down so it stops screwing with my mojo.  All I can say is Thank God It's Fucking Friday.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

reflections on an almost-summer day

It's kind of amazing how much good a day of playing hooky and pretending it's summer can do for the soul. Of course, pretending it is summer becomes a much more challenging exercise for the imagination once you make the journey from sun-bathed lower Haight out to Ocean Beach, where the winds whipping into a chaotic frenzy make you seriously question the soundness of shorts as a wardrobe choice.

But even with gusting wind and stinging sand, I think Ocean Beach is still maybe my favorite place in San Francisco. There's something about the way the savage beauty of the ocean meets graffitied cement in a bizarre marriage of wilderness and city that fascinates me and has captured my heart from the very beginning. Staring out at the sun glinting off the water, cool concrete steps beneath me, I'm steeped in nostalgia. I recall: calm warm afternoons, sparkling-water rhythmic waves lulling my mind to tranquility; cold grey evenings huddled in the dunes, fascinated by the wild tempestuous sea, not content to leave until long after the sun had gone down and my face had gone numb. Sometimes I really miss the Sunset.

It's almost as if, traveling to the Outer Sunset, I'm traveling back in time. As if once I hit that place on the road where I can see the ocean just above the horizon, I slip into a strange sort of time warp where I'm somehow my old and present self all at the same time, maintaining my current perspective and yet so finely tuned in to that certain point in my life: heart & soul freshly liberated, untethered and drunk on the promise of this weird and wonderful new home. It's almost as if I'd never left, or as though time didn't exist at all, even though so much has occurred in between, so much has changed. It somehow still feels slightly odd, upon leaving the wind-whipped dunes, to climb into my car and drive home; as if my body half expects to walk the four blocks to that little yellow house, climb the astroturf-covered stairs and be embraced by the unmistakable old-San-Francisco-house smell.

It's an odd sort of in-between place to visit; strangely enlightening and comforting in it's familiarity at the same time. I can still feel it: everything so fresh and me falling head-over-heels in love with the city and my new life. The same sense of freedom and confusion I felt then are relevant to me now, I think, so I guess it somehow makes sense that I should feel as if I'm in two different places, two different times at once. It seems fitting that I should revisit these old haunts now in my mind and in the flesh as I find myself in another transitional period, starting out on a new path and not quite sure where it will take me, but determined to hang on for dear life and enjoy the ride nonetheless.

I leave wind-burned, tangled-haired with sand in my eyes... but oddly happy, with the same unfailing sense of rejuvenation the rolling surf and sand always bring to my mind.

Sunday, March 22, 2009

For some reason tonight I am completely exhausted.  Not just the physical tiredness I feel in the soreness of my limbs and the heaviness of my eyelids, but a sort of stagnant, soul-dragging mental fatigue.  Is this what world-weariness feels like?  I need a shot of inspiration.  Or maybe just a good night's sleep and the fresh perspective of a new day.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Alamo Square

Freshly cut grass.  The burn in the back of my legs as I climb the hill, find the perfect spot at the top.  A stately rottweiler strolls up to where I lay propped on my elbows, sits casually beside me and accepts an ear scratch.  We admire the view for a moment in companionable silence and then he moves on.  The glow of the waning sun is just enough to make bearable the gradually increasing breeze, as the clouds start moving faster overhead.  Dogs chase each other in circles, paws barely touching the ground as they run, the simplest, purest joy emanating from their beings.  The joy of being alive.  Of feeling the grass and the sun and the wind.   I look to the west and I swear I can smell the ocean.

Friday, March 13, 2009

BongGate and thoughts on heroes

Today while getting ready for work I turned on my tv, to whatever channel happened to be on (this is what happens when you lose your remote control).  I was greeting by the Today Show, or the Morning Show, or some such "news" show they have on in the AM, I always get them mixed up.  And after watching this morning's offerings I was perhaps reminded why I never bothered with that kind of show.  Well, besides the obvious fact that I'm usually not up that early.

Their big headliner for the day apparently, was Matt Lauer's interview with Michael Phelps.  About what I've dubbed "Bonggate 2009".  Seriously?  People are still talking about this?  I'm not sure what concerns me more:  the fact that people are so obsessed with celebrities' personal lives that something like this is still "newsworthy", what, a month later?  Or the fact that people are still making such a fuss over a little weed, to the point where the photograph of Phelps taking a hit off a bong is, to paraphrase Lauer, "shocking."  Really?  You've never seen anyone smoke from a bong before, Matt?  Damn, maybe you should get out more.  

So I guess I have to ask:  am I just out of touch  here in California?  Is American society, by and large, that Puritanical?  Or are we just incredibly hypocritical?  Personally, I'm inclined to believe the latter.  After watching a rather painful ten minutes or so of Michael Phelps stumbling through the obligatory, perfunctory apology speech, I found myself thinking how ridiculous it is that the media continually perpetuates these farces, and that society demands that they do.  Is Michael Phelps really sorry for smoking some pot?  Maybe.  But probably not.  He probably does it every weekend for christsake.  Or at least every once in a while.  And personally, I don't think he should be sorry.  The only "bad mistake" he made was performing the act at a party where he knew he could be photographed.  But then since it was a party he was likely drunk to begin with, and god knows I haven't always made the best judgment calls while under the effects of inebriation, so I'm inclined to cut the guy a little slack.

And for that matter, is Matt Lauer really shocked and scandalized at the thought that a 20-something-year-old might want to get a little high every now and then at a party?  I should hope not.  And yet there he was on the screen, churning out overdramatic taglines about how the incident may affect Phelps career and overshadow his achievements.  What?  Did I miss something?  Why should being photographed with a bong tarnish any accomplishments he achieved in the pool?  What exactly does smoking weed have to do with swimming?  What does any behavior or activity during his free time have to do with swimming, for that matter, unless he's taking some sort of performance enhancing substance or anything else that would affect the sport?  

Which brings me to what I see as a problem in our society.  We have a thing for hero worship in America.  We like to have people to idolize, people to look up to.  We love (and sometimes love to hate) our celebrities.  And we love our sports heros.  But that's just the thing.  They're sports heroes.  Which, in my mind, should not be confused with people who commit actual heroic acts.  Should we admire their athletic achievements and be inspired by their skill and heart out on the field or the court or in the pool?  Sure.  Should we expect them to be saints, or to commit particularly inspiring acts outside of the sports arena?  I think not.  Because if so, we are certainly doomed to continual disappointment.  After all, these are just people like anyone else, who happen to have been born with athletic talent and who have trained and worked incredibly hard to rise to the top of their sport.  

Why then, are we surprised when the news story breaks, condemning one of them for some "shocking" thing most of us have probably done at some point or other in our lives?  We put celebrities up on pedestals, just because they happen to be famous, but then we also want to know every tiny detail of their personal life, and of course some of those are not going to be pretty.  There are, I believe, different levels of scandal and misbehavior that should be treated with proportional outrage.  For example, there is the Michael Phelps incidence, and then there is Michael Vic.  Which further proves my point that we need to separate athletic idolatry from idolatry of the athlete as a whole.  Undoubtedly Michael Vic is a talented football player.  Is he a good person who should be looked up to?  My answer is Hell No.  

So yes, I believe that an Olympic champion swimmer should be able to do a bong hit without the world going into uproar.  Should Phelps have been conscious of the fact that he is a role model to a lot of young kids, and taken more precaution not to "let his fans down"?  Maybe.  But when it comes down to it, he's just a 23-year old guy, doing what a large number of 23-year-olds are doing across the country.  And 18-year-olds, and 27-year-olds, and probably a decent number of baby boomers who just miss the 60's like whoa.  

So is society going to continue to punish him for this minor indiscretion?  Yes, I'm sure there are a lot of angry parents out there, disturbed that the person their child idolizes was caught in an illegal act, setting a precedent for their impressionable offspring.  But to those parents I would say this:  if this upsets you, take more responsibility for who your kids look up to.  Teach your children who the real heroes are.  Teach them to separate athletic achievement from moral achievement.  Tell them that a moment of greatness in sports, or in acting or singing, does not equate to an ethical act, and that while it is good to admire a person's achievements, that doesn't mean we should admire or try to emulate everything they do.  Because I think that the real problem here isn't a bit of pot.  I think it is the way we view celebrities, and the unrealistic expectations we place on their behavior.  After all, girls just want to have fun, and maybe Michael Phelps just wants to party.  

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

the pursuit of happiness

"no more promise, no more sorrow
no longer will I follow
can anybody hear me
I just want to be me
when I can, I will"

It's funny how, having not even put much conscious thought into our current state of mind and being, we can suddenly realize, in a seemingly inconsequential moment, that we are, in fact, happy.  I think that in general, we have a habit of believing that happiness is dependent upon our circumstances, upon external forces that somehow have to power to lift us up to new heights or dash us down upon the rocks.  But recently it's occurred to me, or reoccurred, that real happiness is not outside of ourselves but within.  
On a recent blustery, rainy night walking home from the gym and lingering in Alamo Square to watch the lights and seek the comfort of my City breathing below, it suddenly dawned upon me (who as a general rule has always scowled at and avoided the wet and wind with great fastidiousness), that perhaps the ever-elusive state of happiness occurs simply in coming back to yourself, no matter how long of an absence; in reclaiming the freedom to be yourself, the desire to become better, stronger, more productive,  and the confidence to know that you can.  In acknowledging shortcomings as well as strengths and need for improvement along with accomplishments, and being ashamed of nothing.

As I stood in the park amidst the darkened urban forest, oddly relishing in the cold air and the wind whipping against my face and threatening to literally knock me over, I realized that somewhere in the months gone by, I had remembered myself, and come back to myself.  And despite all the confusion,  even though I knew that nothing in my life was even close to certain... in that moment, and in life in general, I was happy.  Intoxicated, punch-drunk in love with the city and the world and all it has to offer.  With the endless potential that lies in front of me if only I have the courage to take advantage of it.  And that, I think, is a good place to start.

Friday, March 6, 2009

to blog or not to blog...

"Leaving wits the spacious air
With license to build castles there"
~Jonathan Swift

To blog or not to blog.  That was my question.  It's something I've been thinking about for months, always in the back of my head, lingering somewhere in my perpetually endless to-do list, right between "clean the bathroom" and "plant an herb garden".  I remember telling a friend, a while ago, that I was thinking of starting a blog.  He informed me that the purpose of a blog is to educate, to incite discussion.  What then, I wondered, could any blog of mine offer?  I must admit I feel thoroughly unqualified to write revolutionary political commentary or to report insightfully on current events.  So what then, could I write that would be of value?  What would my blog be about?  And, more importantly, exactly what the fuck was a blog anyhow?

These questions, for the most part, have yet to be answered.  But it seems I have finally decided that I will indeed attempt to answer them.  And that answer, or the quest for it, will be a journey I think, hopefully a gradual discovery of purpose as this blog progresses and grows.  Much like life itself, no?  But the impetus of my blog is this:  I have these thoughts, like most people I assume, random thoughts that travel through my head like cars at a busy intersection.  And sometimes, if I let the thought go, if I sit idly by and watch it rush through onto its next destination without flagging it down for a ride, it is gone, perhaps forever, doomed to become the ghost of a musing, to linger on in the purgatory of lost and forgotten thoughts and dreams.

There have been times, mostly during few and infrequent periods of being high, that I could swear I had grasped some sacred, unknown truth, or remembered some crucial, long-forgotten moment from childhood that held the secret to my entire existence, held my fingers out to touch the very meaning of life itself.  These no doubt were fanciful illusions; the effects of over-intoxication on my low-tolerance brain.  But still I can't help but think:  how marvelous if I could happen to capture one of these moments?  What if I could record and remember such a conversation with myself, instead of it persisting as a vague, nagging recollection of something interesting and potentially important that will forever remain a mystery?  Well, ok, maybe it wouldn't be so spectacular, they would likely read as the drug-addled rantings of a lunatic... but perhaps interesting, or at least mildly amusing.

Anyway, I digress.  These "moments of higher consciousness"(hah) are not the point of this blog.  The real point, I suppose, is to give some of my thoughts a chance to come forth, to speak for themselves.  To record my everyday contemplations, on life love, happiness... whatever random argument or epiphany may happen to visit me that I don't want to let go, that I want to lasso in and hug close and invite to tea to mull things over with.  To capture moments, the feeling of a fleeting glimpse of existence that, like a falling star, streaks across the consciousness only once in a lifetime:  many will follow similarly, but never in quite the same way.  And so these I call my "castles in the sky",  my snippets of insight or delusion, random musings and day dreams that take root and see fit to build themselves a palace in the celestial spaces of my mind.

The truth is that I don't really expect anyone to read this.  I decided to keep this blog for myself, as a kind of personal record or archive for the ramblings of my ever-wandering mind.  But, if you somehow should find yourself here, reading these words, please do make yourself at home.  Take off your coat.  Sit and stay a while.  Welcome to the random and sometimes wacky world of my head.  I must apologize in advance for the mess, for my frequent long-windedness (it comes naturally when writing) and occasional self-indulgence (hey, it's my party, I can cry if I want to, right?).  I hope that if you do happen to stumble upon this blog and somehow feel, whether out of interest or boredom, compelled to linger, that you won't be terribly bored or confused.  I hope that you may find here a smile, a laugh, perhaps a nod of the head.  Maybe you won't leave particularly edified or incited to discussion,  But maybe, just maybe, you will leave contemplative, inspired, or thinking about something in a new way.

**photo by Ken Parry**