This little light of mine, I'm gonna let it shine...

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Hay for the Horses

by Gary Snyder

He had driven half the night
From far down San Joaquin
Through Mariposa, up the
Dangerous Mountain roads,
And pulled in at eight a.m.
With his big truckload of hay
behind the barn.
With winch and ropes and hooks
We stacked the bales up clean
To splintery redwood rafters
High in the dark, flecks of alfalfa
Whirling through shingle-cracks of light,
Itch of haydust in the
sweaty shirt and shoes.
At lunchtime under Black oak
Out in the hot corral,
---The old mare nosing lunchpails,
Grasshoppers crackling in the weeds---
"I'm sixty-eight" he said,
"I first bucked hay when I was seventeen.
I thought, that day I started,
I sure would hate to do this all my life.
And dammit, that's just what
I've gone and done."

More about Gary Snider here

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

A Bild├╝ngsroman

Hi Shana: I'm trying to close out 2008 time-off records, and noticed that I am missing one timecard for you for last year - 5/12 thru 5/25. Do you, by chance, have a copy of the timecard submitted? If not, could you please re-do this card.
I received this email about a half hour ago. What timing. What grace. (As my hero Bugs used to say.) Soon after I began investigating this oversight I noticed why there had probably been no time card turned in. The week of 5/12 I crashed my bicycle and landed in an Illinois Masonic Hospital bed for 2.5 days. The week of 5/25 I had just come back from Toronto and was coming down with weird and fever-y symptoms that turned out to be herpes. It's interesting to me that I'd planned on writing a piece soon about how I haven't talked about "the H" in a long time.

A few nights ago my copy of Our Bodies, Ourselves flopped open to a testimony from a woman who'd gotten herpes from "a real sweet guy" (I'm not using the quotes sarcastically, I'm actually quoting). The woman talks about what was helpful for her at the end of her testimonial. One of the best things she did was tell her dad, who was a physician in her home town. He told her it was "No big deal" and that "It's one of the least serious medical problems you'll have in life." Man, reading those words healed so much of me so quickly. It was like my own dad had said them.

What actually happened when I did (or did not) tell my parents why Devyn and I hit the skids was was much less rational and not at all warm and fuzzy. I was furious for a long time after Devyn knocked me on the head with the reality of my symptoms. I'm not a person who can sustain anger, but he triggered a very deep wellspring of mistrust in men that erupted out of my being and made me sick for months. Naturally, any time I told any one about my diagnosis it was colored the sickly, putrid colors of anger and pain mixed. Those close to me (and even those just congenial with me) echoed my pain and anger back at me and we all grabbed our psychic pitchforks to ready the hunt for Devyn.

I told my mom early. I see her more frequently, open up to her more easily and I'm terrible at keeping my emotions subterranean. She told me, "You have to tell your father." I don't understand that reaction even today. Unfortunately, I didn't ask her to explain, haven't asked... To me it felt like a requirement, a punishment for something horrible. It felt like she was embarrassed or ashamed. I doubt that's what it was. Perhaps it's time I ask. I never did tell my father.

My mom said the same thing to me, "You have to tell your father" when I came out to her a few years ago. Again, I didn't (don't) understand the place that statement comes from, and again, still haven't asked. I didn't tell my dad, but I assumed (though now I'm questioning) that my mom did. So, I assumed she was going to tell him this news too. Well, she didn't.

Devyn and I began the reconciliation process as my anger waned and I sought healing. My toxic emotions were keeping me inflamed physically too, so I really had to let it go to feel better, in a lot of ways. I felt totally rejected and broken and wanted him to heal it, since I felt he was the one who broke "it." Plus, I missed him. I kept my communication with him secret for a long time because I knew I'd find no approval. Eventually I grew tired of the secrecy and thought, damn anyone who tries to tell me how to live and love. I knew my friends and family knew me well enough to keep mum if they didn't like it; they are, perhaps, more aware at times of my fierce stubbornness than I am. We got back together, I was on cloud nine again, but edged quickly back to the day-to-day realities of a long distance relationship begun via the internet. The truth is that our relationship scared the shit out of me, falling so quickly in love with someone I'd never met, who lived 9 hours away, in a different country. It just seemed impossible. Too much of me wasn't ready to up and go to him. But I tried, I wanted to be different and freer and he encouraged (encourages) my wild spirit implicitly.

In November I was feeling strained, but Devyn's world was crashing down around him. He became orphaned after his mom had a long fight with illness in the hospital and he nearly became impoverished from missing all the time at work while he coped and settled affairs in Brooklyn. I couldn't let him spend the week of Thanksgiving alone in Toronto; a week he'd planned to spend with his mom. I asked my family members if they would be ok with him coming to our warm and hearty dinner. It was terrifying for me.

Asking my family if Devyn could join us for Thanksgiving was hard, but my dad's reaction was most surprising. He seemed to not understand my request. "Sure," he said, "I thought you two weren't really together anymore, but if that's what you want, it's fine by me." I was unbelievably relieved. I did not understand the pained looks my mother gave me.

It was November fourth and Barack Obama was being elected president. I was at the rally where he acknowledged and accepted his new job. That day was a saving grace in as many ways as there are people who prayed for it. As I was leaving for the rally my cell phone rang, it was my dad. He told me that my mom had just told him why Devyn and I had broken up over the summer. He told me he was really pissed and that any one who behaved like Devyn had deserved to be alone on Thanksgiving. If it hadn't been for Barack Obama (and all the amazing hope, peace, love energy in my city and the world) I would probably have spent the whole night in mental agony. My dad is the most important man in the world to me. Where my mom's disapproval often proves to be a catalyst, my dad's is unbearable.

Devyn came anyway. I kept much of the vitriol from him, played damage control with my family. My mother, father and grandmother all knew the story. They gracefully accepted him at dinner. Shifty eyes were our only confrontation. My grandmother had some choice words later which I had no problem hearing, dismissing and then prohibiting. Thanksgiving week was unfortunate and sullen; laborious; any other synonym for "heavy" I can think of.

All of this is back story. It brings me back to the e-mail from HR and where my mind has been ranging today. I've been freaked out again recently by love and its ins and outs. I have all sorts of painfully poignant, and maybe beautiful, phrases that float in and out of my dreamy head regarding my ability, or lack thereof, to be "good" in a Relationship. It's not that I'm a liar, or adulterer, or abuser. I'm not clingy, I try my best to communicate clearly and without my temper lighting the way. I'm actually really good at being judicious when the going gets tough. I make a great best friend.

The problem is, I have spent my whole life telling myself just that: I make a great best friend. It's like an out. The coping mechanisms I used in high school, to make me feel better for feeling so damn unsexy and awful in my body turned into habitual thought patterns. When I got over feeling so terribly unsexy, I tended toward out and out sluttery, to prove myself worthy after so many years of not feeling so. One of the lessons my 20s are teaching me is that this is how I learn, like a pendulum swings. I go from one extreme back to its opposite. I run this track back and forth, back and forth, a little less extreme each time until finally I find the center, my center, balance. It's so exhausting. Maybe, when I'm in my 30s, 40s, or 50s I will be smart enough to skip that process and will slowly edge my way to center from at whatever extreme I started.

Actually, maybe I'm learning the process now. Those painfully poetic phrases that slip into my mind on whims still entice me. I want to hold them and turn them over, see what gruesome details they contain, like the roadkill I go out of my way to examine when there's time. I am definitely one for the grotesque. Hugging the moribund to my chest does me absolutely no good though, in a world where I actually want to relate to people intimately. I don't want to sabotage relationships or think that love can be let go as easy as any passing whim. So I remind myself that I have the wisdom to do otherwise. I know internally now that attitude is everything. Change your attitude and the world seems to change with it: it's one of those awful, trite things to say that, never the less, I want to heed. Maybe that's part of being an adult, you accept the trite stuff that seemed like ridiculous bullshit when you were younger. You start wanting to make something right, rather than spending a lifetime all full of angst and waiting for the perfect human to come along and fit right in without any work. You really realize, no body is perfect (in their angst, or in their happiness), we're all just human.

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Panties in a Twitch

I'm doing my urban Saturday morning thing: drinking coffee, surfing blogs, listening to music and enjoying a sun bath from my south facing windows. As usual, for these urban Saturday mornings, it's nearly not morning any more. I got myself in a twitch yesterday. Maybe the "girl version" of the following from Women Who Run...
The moral is that those nettles, even once Coyote Dick got out of them, made his cock itch like crazy forever after. And that's why men are always sliding up to women, and wanting to rub up against them with that 'I'm so itchy' look in their eyes. You know, that universal cock has been itching ever since the first time it ever ran away. (Estes 370)
How did I get myself in such a state? Well, being prone to obsessive thought patterns helps. So does having hedonistic and sexually explicit friends. Most impressively to me, is that my egoistic fire ants came from memory. These are memories that go way back to childhood exploration of my sexual being. In non-sexual ways I have been dredging myself for memories of a more innocent time in order to reclaim my instincts while rebuilding the deck of my intuition. This dragging of memory has revealed some interesting sexuality threads that weave back to my earliest youth. I have always loved acting innocent while knowing the truth. More so, I love acting just-wise-enough to clue the "adults," for whom I played, in to the fact that I was in the know. Their reactions, as they realized I was playing them for fools, delighted the hell out of me then and does so no less now. No surprise to some of my close intimates, I am a born smart ass joker...and a tease.

The older I get the better I realize that my personal perversions are no more a phase than my bisexuality is. I have been reading a blogger intermittently, i.e. when I have time at a computer away from work, who describes her preferences and the actions taken to fulfill those needs so clearly that I feel more compelled (perhaps inspired) to cull my needs into forms comprehensible and plain. I do not mean I want to dull these very exciting desires, but I want to be able to speak the needs clearly without having to give a background history of myself for perspective. Paradoxically, I want to open myself up to sublime vulnerability with a partner without feeling compelled to share the more daily baggage I carry.

I think I will soon take Devyn's advice and set up a FetLife profile. Like a cosmic prank to ruffle my feathers, I get seriously bent on being the little mischief girl. I want fine ringlet piggy-tails and puppy-dog eyes. I want the cooing praise of a firm handed "adult." I want to play dress up, put on lip gloss and be told how smart and pretty I am. In my fetishsex experiments I have braised these pleasures accidentally and it is only recently that the compelling moments have coalesced into a sexual being more attainable.

He assures me, somewhat jokingly, that I will discover there is a plethora of resources to fulfill my desires in Chicago, and that once I'm on FetLife I will realize this and forget about him. I doubt the truth in that, but hope for something that bears mild similarity to his sentiments. I could no more forget my first Daddy than I could my first love. I am hoping to find a situation more accessible though, because pining for situations in the past is about as helpful as a balloon in a sword fight.
Without a clearly defined way to act on these compelling fantasies I get restless and guilt ridden. I can't stop wanting or thinking about wanting what I want and then I feel guilty, like I'm somehow betraying the commitments I've already given myself to.

Last night I knew action had to be taken to prevent me from spiraling into a depressing cycle of yearning, remembering and pining, and guilt. I played dress up for myself while listening to Lola's music collection while burning a sensual bergamot and tobacco flower candle and taking pictures. Then I went out and gossiped, whined, and giggled with Danny over our perversions. If I couldn't have my root-beer float (explicit), then this was just what the doctor ordered.

Friday, March 20, 2009

So, What I Really Mean to Say Is...

I will now blog that last post again, with details, and and as little context as possible - just to see what happens.

On Saturday I skipped a V-team meeting and went with Amanda to a Mind, Body, Spirit Expo. I paid $15 for 15 minutes for an akashic records reading. I asked three questions and in return I got 7 spoken and written pages of my past and future.

I asked: Please tell me the ancestry of my spirit, not familial, but soul-wise.
I was told: The lifetimes of my soul are many and varied. One particular soul life was that of a woman in Africa. She was a leader, a care taker, and protector of the women and children of her village/tribe. She protected them from not just men of other tribes, but from animals. This was a truly wild pace. She was strong emotionally and physically. Her work in her village was her passion and her life.

I was awash in the most intense relief and remembering I've ever felt. My head was doing this "wah-wah-wah" thing that I've only ever felt before on drugs. My internal monologue had only 1 thing to say: I knew it! I knew it. I knew it.

I asked: How do I use that knowledge to help me find my way forward?
I was told: This is a very wise question. There are other plans for you. You have the ability to do energy work and heal, but you must first heal yourself. You have a very emotionally charged relationship with males, not just physical men, but with the male energy. You believe that men are disrespectful, dishonorable, untrustworthy. You believe that all men are universally this way simply because they are male. You must heal this before you can go on the healing path.

I was enlightened. Memories again flooded me, but of this lifetime and not soul's past. I knew my next question must involve my mother in some way.

I asked: How do I go from where I come from, my family, to where I will be?
I was answered: You do not talk about it. You do it and they (my family) will see your changes. They will want to know how. They will ask you, hear your answers, and believe.

So that's the abbreviated version without my novella of mental interpretations on top. I feel ajitter and amazed sharing it again.

I walked around in a haze. A woman tried to sell me her earrings, I said, "I can't look at those, I'm not here right now." She handed me a heart shaped sucker and said, "Have this, it'll help." And it did. It was a sucker, and it helped. I later purchased a few ounces of Clary sage oil to help ground me when my head flies off for the hinterlands.

Saturday night I cleaned my house for 5 hours and thought, thought, thought. It was good to be alone. I was still dazed by Sunday, when I had promised to go see the opera "Hansel & Gretl" (by ENGLEBERT HUMPERDINK) in which Ammie played in the pit. I went with Amanda. We were both too abuzz with our yesterday activities and couldn't focus on the opera. We scammed off between the 2nd and 3rd acts and went around the corner for a snack.

I met with Ammie later, and it was wonky feeling. I managed to pull myself to a center of sorts, but still felt all riled up. When we arrived at our destination I put on a happy face and that mask mostly made my thoughts of other things quiet down. We cooked and ate and went home.

I managed to begin something that night that has been repeating: I say, aloud, with 100% confidence, my truth. I say it to people I love, people I like, and people I don't know and it's easy. I only say it if they ask. Usually, it's accepted. I wonder if that's radical honesty. I could know but haven't read the manifesto yet.
So, I began these statements but it was too tired a time for Ammie and I to go much farther than just a few.

On Monday I was not here. I was at work, and not there. I was in my brain, and we were gone. I had therapy. I asked my therapist how I can help loved ones who struggle when I understand how to get out of the struggle. I told her what I saw with regard to the readings and my way forward. I asked her if it was weird for her that I came in and basically provided myself therapy while she listened. She said it was interesting and I thanked her for existing in my life.

On Tuesday, Wednesday, I was not here. I was at work, and not there. I was in my brain, and we were gone. I went with Ammie to my friend's house to visit her cat, Fish, while she is out of town. I tried to talk, and tried not to talk, about some things and may have failed on both counts. They are more personal, non-bloggable things. On Wednesday I went out with a cute new friend and talked her ears off and vice-versa. We talked about ghost spirits, magic, boundaries, energy, sexuality and goddesses. We talked about how people feel familiar even when you've just met them.

On Thursday, I really tried to be here, but then I was at work, and not there. I was in my brain and we were gone. My boss was gone too, so I did a lot of surfing and day dreaming about a life where I all I do is read. I went and played with Fish the cat again, and started a sketch that could be a children's story. My mind turns furniture into children's stories a lot. I thought about the memories I have from my previous soul life. It all makes so much sense.

Today, I'm kinda here. Now I'm here, I'm at the office, but I'm not at work and I'm here (with you). I'm ready for home and music and literature and masturbation and cats and plants and the sunset. It's the vernal equinox. Maybe I'll try to balance an egg on it's "head" but probably I'll worship in my own way. Maybe I'll masturbate a lot.

Shedding Layers

It's been awhile. This week has been just like this winter, big & thick. Now there are two words I used to appropriate to dirty sex talk. Just like everything else this winter, I now mean something new.

I had my akashic records read for 15 minutes on Saturday. I was prime for the information, waiting on the other side of a spiritual door without knowing how to knock and ask for entrance. Some direction for my focus came from this; it was an immense session with a complete stranger who spoke ancestral spirit truths to me at my request. I could have stayed locked away all week, in my apartment thinking and astral projecting the world and time over, but of course I was at work instead. Being at work when I'm absent minded is very energy consuming, so it wasn't the lightest of weeks.

I accidentally happened upon the blog of Oliver de la Paz today. He was a guest professor I had, when I was 22, for a 6week poetry intensive called "Poetry: Obsession." He tricked us all on our first class (well he tricked me anyway). He said we'd mostly be writing in class time and we'd start immediately. He said every class would start the same way: 15 minutes of writing what ever streamed into our consciousness's. The result of the first 15 minutes was my having to write about a traumatic accident that happened when I was 6 for about 90% of the class over the weeks. I thought it was a brilliant, but sneaky move.

His is a true blog, nothing highbrow about it. I really like that he's not putting his life work here, but using it as an extension of his online persona. It's great to see a poet and professor just being human online. His everyday writing is accessible and normal and I gather some kind of inspiration from it; perhaps I'm reminded that art isn't the everyday, it's the result of a contemplated process following the spark of an idea.

Like I said, this week has been thick, like this winter has been. Around Thanksgiving all my life became unbelievably jumbled up. Lovers and best friends halted existing in the normal way for me, they stopped in their tracks. I felt as if I was separated from the peers I felt closest to, like we were standing not more than 10 feet apart but were separated by a thick, invisible wall. We just stared silently and felt estranged.

I reexamined my relationship with sex and sexuality. I plumbed the deep of my psyche looking for answers to my future and found they were actually there, waiting for me. Things were not difficult for me in the old way of confusion and complication, but in a new way of learning patience, precision and acceptance. The friends and lovers did some mining too, and I talk with them all of our found gems now. The thick is thinning, we begin to shed our layers for spring.

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Up the Wolves

There's bound to be a ghost at the back of your closet
no matter where you live
There'll always be a few things maybe several things
that you're gonna find really difficult to forgive

There's gonna come a day when you feel better
You'll rise up free and easy on that day
and float from branch to branch lighter than the air
Just when that day is coming, who can say
who can say
Our mother has been absent ever since we founded Rome
But there's gonna be a party when the wolf comes home

We're gonna commandeer the local airwaves
to tell the neighbors what's been going on
and they will shake their heads and wag their bony fingers
but by that time we will be gone

I'm gonna get myself in fighting trim
scope out every angle of unfair advantage
I'm gonna bribe the officials
I'm gonna kill all the judges
It's gonna take you people years to recover from all of the damage
Our mother has been absent ever since we founded Rome
but there's gonna be a party when the wolf comes home

Up The Wolves - The Mountain Goats

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Hurry Quick! Submit your art to help spare vaginas!

Reverend Shana Rose, wants to be at your service

It's time!! Let the moonlighting begin!

I am going to market my services as a Reverend in the upcoming Wedding/Commitment Season (more on my experience after questions). I am doing some research and that's where all you married/formally commitment ceremony'd come in.

Please copy/paste and answer the following 15 questions to the best of your abilities and e-mail them back to me at shanaroseis(at)yahoo(dot)com. If you hate computers and would rather call and chat about it, feel free! Just give me a heads up in the comments and we can set up a time.

Any other insights, fond memories or suggestions are encouraged. Please also feel welcome to forward this to any other friends/couples you know who have recently gotten hitched or taken part in commitment ceremonies. Be Well!

Thank you! Love, Shana
(Questions below)

Common expectations/Requirements for Reverend to perform for a Wedding
1. Who was responsible for acquiring the marriage license?
2. Did you write the bulk of the vows/speeches for the ceremony? (If so, please skip question 3).
3. The Rev. wrote the bulk of your wedding service: What input did you provide to make it more personal?
4. How long was your ceremony?
5. How did you find/choose your Reverend?
6. Was your wedding indoors or out?
7. Did your Reverend have a microphone?
8. Did you Reverend hold a book to read the ceremony from? Did you like/dislike this?
9. How much did you communicate/work with your Reverend prior to your actual ceremony?
10. Did you Reverend stay for your reception (if you had one)?
11. How much did you pay for your Reverend's services?
12. What year did you get married?
13. In what state did you get married?
14. Was there a specific religion represented in your ceremony?
15. What was the best thing your Reverend did to help make your ceremony special?

Reverend Shana Rose's Qualifications
Ordained by the Universal Life Church in May, 2008
First wedding performed in August, 2008 - recommendation upon request

Public Speaker Experience
February 2009 - 3 Monologues in "The Vagina Monologues", V-Day Lakeview (Chicago)
March 2008 - Guest Host/DJ on KFAI St. Paul/Minneapolis
June 2006 - 2008 - cafe or bar Poetry Readings/Open Mics
August 2002 - 2004 - Radio DJ for WUPX, Marquette MI
May 2003 - September 2003 - Radio DJ for WMQT, Marquette MI

Monday, March 9, 2009

Blog & Sidebar Updates

The face lift to Subterranean Fire continues!

I removed the AdSense, for now, cos I just haven't taken the time to "optimize" it and make it useful or interesting yet.

I have created three Best Of categories: Sex, Prose & Poetry, and My Stories. They're chronologically organized with the oldest posts on the bottom. I filled out the Sex column today. I will go back sometime soon to add all the good ones to the other two categories.

At some point I'll look for an about me section or make a post, for new comers.

So, have a new look at some old posts! Leave me comments, of any variety!

Comfort Food with a Kick

Two weeks ago, mid-rant about soul, spirit, ego and vitality compared with working, paychecks and etc. I mentioned some comfort food: "Last Monday I was experiencing a good dose of Shadow Rebellion. Ammie took seriously good care of me that evening, plying my mood with the most beneficial comfort food ever (I'll ask her to blog it, or to tell me where she has)."

What she made for me and my troubled spirit was grilled cheese and tomato soup. I know, awwwwww, right? When she offered the idea of that dinner I was at work and interpreted her suggestion the way my mom would have: 1 can of Cambell's tomato soup concentrate and 1 grilled cheese. I suspected the grilled cheese would at least be on hearty or special bread and with a nicer-than-American cheese. I mean, I do know Ammie a "little bit" at this point; however, I learned that there are many lovely surprise to come! For what I got was gourmet, warm me to the bones and heart circles, not-yo-mama's comfort food. Hm...there's a restaurant name in there somewhere. I promised I'd post the recipes, and here they are: for your mouth watering, make you feel better, pleasure.

The Grilled Cheese recipe originated with Ammie's fellow foodie friend Rose-Anne. Here are the ingredients, excerpted from Rose-Anne's blog, "Love, Life & Food: Home of a Serious Cheddar Connoisseur":
2 slices of good sandwich bread, such as pumpernickel
1-2 tsp. Better (you could also use softened butter or even a drizzle of oil, if you prefer)
1 tsp. Dijon mustard, or to taste
~1/4 cup shredded sharp cheddar cheese, or to taste (use the good stuff here—it really makes the sandwich!)
4-5 fresh spinach leaves, enough to form a nice layer of spinach
Ammie adapted it to give it her own, surprising and tangy kick. She left the spinach out and used sourdough instead of Rose-Anne's pumpernickel. The cheese she chose was havarti, which was creamy and moderately mild. All of those nicely moderate flavors: the mild sourness of the bread, the creamy havarti and strong dijon mustard coalesced into something divine when she tossed a handful of dried tart cherries in the middle. OMG. What a stroke of genius! She says she's tried and failed at the recipe before (too much butter, or cheese, wrong cherries perhaps) but this time she had a task at hand and she aced it. The perfect comfort sandwich: toasted golden brown, chewy, crisp, melty, tangy and bold. That combined with the warm, acidic spiciness of her tomato soup = Oh my.

Ammie didn't have the soup recipe written out anywhere before, so I'll copy/paste it from the email in which she wrote it out for me (what can I say? the lady's got my back.)

Ammie's Not At All Average
Spicy Tomato Soup

Ingredients, all to taste:
Tomato broth (she used Trader Joe's box of tomato broth, which is creamy and good)
crushed or minced garlic
salt and pepper
dash of cayenne
splash of red wine
diced ripe tomatoes
olive oil

Heat up a small amount of olive oil in a pot. Add garlic, spices, and tomatoes, and saute for 1-2 minutes. Add the red wine and saute 1-2 more minutes. Add tomato broth and warm to desired temperature. Eat.

Be careful with the cayenne, it's a fine line between low burn and fiery death.
There you have it. My own soup for the soul kind of combo. Make, eat & enjoy!
Thanks to Rose-Anne and Ammie for doing the leg work on this.

Sunday, March 8, 2009

Urban Narratives/City Stories

A few weeks ago, a friend of mine asked if Shana and I would like to help his friend out with her degree by taking part in her investigation of urban mapping and city geography. This entails making some sort of "journal"[...] about our travels through the city for a week. - Ammie
I began my participation in this project last Thursday, 2/26, the same day that Ammie wrote the above post. I was pretty excited at first because it presented an opportunity to be creative for someone other than myself for the first time in a long while (unless you want to count creative spreadsheet creation). I nicked a little notepad from the office and began to journal my travels every day for a week. The author of the project described the opportunity this way:
[chronicle] you every day life in your city...for example: where you go, how you get there, how long it takes, who you interact with (even non-verbally), for what purpose, memories triggered by your environment, why something in the urban / your personal environment(s) is(are) significant...and anything else you can think of.
When another friend of mine read the description she expressed some sense of it being an overwhelming task. I like that the artist presents so many options. I don't think she intends for any one person to accomplish all the things she lays out. I think she made her description of this work broad so that as many people as possible can participate and have an experience that is personal. While doing my urban mapping I filled 3/4 of my notepad and a plastic baggie of the contents that get tossed in my bag(s) as I pass through the city each week. I collect bits of paper habitually, there are notes to myself, fliers about neat sounding events, gum wrappers, poems written on receipts, etc. I plan to make a sort of diorama or collage, including the notepad, the paper bits and mapped routes of travel.

Herewith are some of my favorite musings from my weekly travelogue.

To X3 SB - Man in blue windbreaker, leaning on a side of Red Roof Inn smoking, gives eyes at me

X3 bus at Erie waits as I run the block to catch it. I thank the unimpressed bus driver. It's silly that they call this an express up here where we crawl, feet at a time, from the Mag Mile (past the Wrigley & Tribune buildings, over the river) to the Loop.

A cap top ad sign: "When was the last time you took a zip line downtown? Jamaica" I am skeptical

I inform a woman...that she's about to sit in a wet seat. "I was wondering why nobody's sitting here," she says.
"Thank you," she says. Her dark lipstick is pretty.

Arrived @ [a restaurant] and opened door - a "Chad" walked right out, I stared @ him, he bumped my arm and mumbled "Thanks." I said, after he passed, "I wasn't holding it for you." God, I'm such a hater sometimes.

Some people rise to get off at Damen/Clybourn. The Lathrop Homes are here. My mom used to lock our car doors when we drove by these buildings. I was always embarrassed by the racism I perceived in that act and am smug at the memory when I pass them now.

Tuffy's Auto Service: this place always makes me think of an old co-worker, Shatondria. Everyone called her man Tuffy. All her friends called her Precious. She told me I could call her that too, but I never felt comfortable at that point. I lived, unhappily, in the suburbs at the time and still didn't know how to act (normal) around Black people.

Someone - the lady next to me? - is wearing a Crab tree & Evelyn perfume that I had when I was 16. I stole it from the store at the mall with my cousin. Smells lovely still.

Woke up early with Ammie and went for breakfast. Couldn't decide if we wanted to take 56 Milwaukee SE bound or Blue Line (SE toward the Loop). We rock/paper/scissorsed to decide while walking S on Albany at 9 am. Ammie's win meant train. Rock over scissors. [I love playing R/P/S with someone for the first time because you have to ask "do you 'shoot' on 3, or after 3?"]

Taking blue line again, SE bound to Jackson stop. Going 30 minutes out of my way to support "local" small business Loopy Yarns.

Printer's Row with lovely old-Chicago buildings: Monadnock, Fisher, Old Colony buildings.

Got a ride to Hyde Park last night for a dinner party at the Haymarket Co-op and back. Today walked 7 houses S to my best friend's house for a cigarette. Came home and realized I was late for a 3 PM appointment in Lincoln Park. Hoped to get a cab but the bus came first. Have to distract myself from watching clock.

Followed directions to and fro, not too interesting. My train car smelled like poo. We all noticed it.

I notice the Women & Children First bookmark stuck out of the book a bearded young professional reads next to me. It makes me like him.

Some things I like: not hurrying, getting a seat, when 2 trains and a bus have arrived and there are streams of crisscrossing people and no one bumps into anyone else, 2 seats to myself, efficient commuter unspoken laws, punk kids (unless they hassle me), Antony & the Johnsons

Going through Lincoln Park. 3 women walk a dozen bundled preschoolers southward. They hold a long rope between "teachers". All bundled and toddling in wonder. So cute!

Got a slow start yesterday morning, didn't want to say goodbye. Ammie told me to go right out of her building because I could get the 147 SB @ Foster & Marine Dr. @ the end of her street I saw a bus stop, but no 147 on the sign. I waited a minute and became unsure. Ammie told me, on the phone, I needed to walk 1 block N. I groaned about missing my bus but she told me the Bus Tracker said I still had 4 minutes. I ran there, to be sure. Bus came a minute later, an accordion bus with, apparently, no seats. I squeezed through toward the back and saw the last available seat in the "way back" row in between 2 men. I decided, "yes." Squeezing in was uncomfortable at first, but then I got my music playing and my shoulders angled right and I felt satisfied and sassy.

Beautiful day today. Really wanted to ride my bike to work, but haven't ridden or tuned up all winter. Riding down LSD feeling fine.

Saturday, March 7, 2009

Scavenging Stories

The idea of being in the right place at the right time has been on my mind lately. I tend to romanticize everyday events more than most. I turn daily occurrences into stories in real time. I don't know what that says about my future, but it does make the passing time more interesting to experience. I like to think that the universe is leaving me hints on a trail, or clues on the scavenger hunt of who I am to become.

There is a likeness of Gandhi spray painted on a wall on my route to the train which reminds me to accept nothing less than I deserve. It reminds me too, to make as much art as possible and to create, because the world needs our creativity to be beautiful and efficient.
Some neighborhood dweller leaves inexplicable foam letter messages stuck to mailboxes and light posts occasionally. Both of the most recent installments have happened on my block. The lettering on the mailbox said "You are the bluest" in blue foam block letters. They come off rapidly, leaving only the double sided tape strips that stuck them up in the first place. The light post received a message vertically, directly in front of my building exit, which said "She looks white to me" in white. At the time I was simply perplexed. What's the meaning? What's the statement? What's the point? Is there a specific audience?
I don't really expect these messages are directed at me, or that they have anything to do with anything I can imagine, but I do like to imagine. I like to imagine these messages are left to perplex and that my placement and timing are in sync with what plans the future has for me. I can imagine they are speaking to me in some way and that satisfies my need to know I'm heading in the right direction.

Do I believe in fate? Do I believe everything happens for a reason? They aren't easy questions to answer. They are loaded questions, at times, too. They call up ideas about what is "deserved" and questions about events that occur. I tend to think on a level of archetypal motives that doesn't jive with experiencing tragedy up close.

These questions do not always need to be a part of my minute to minute experience however. I allow myself quite a lot of time for story realm existence. My imagination has become more insistent lately as well. Every moment is an opportunity for a story about something that may carry no importance; but maybe I'm exercising my mind to be ready for possibilities. I like to think that I'm teaching myself what I need by living in this imagination realm.