Archive for January, 2012

I’m always a smidgen wary of what I put out here.

The reality must surely be that my readership is very small. And beyond my attention to professionalism, it seems worthwhile to exercise a modicum of control over my output pertaining to current activities.

Safe to say – today was a rollercoaster. Not only did I turn down an opportunity (the right choice, still) but I was a bit embarrassed during a presentation. Some of the tasks my group was to complete were, simply, not up to snuff.

I don’t want to displace blame here. One thing my mother taught me – a team sticks together. You don’t sell anyone out – you don’t make excuses.

You won’t find any here. But I’m still working out my position in the whole leadership thing. And I think I’m finding out I need to be more organizationally on it. I didn’t want to be that person – funny how that works out.

It’s important, though, to get a bit of scolding. Builds you up – makes you better. I’m awful at taking criticism, but I pride myself on my ability to learn from it.

Tomorrow is another day. Today was a benchmark.

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In the days after we met
Long after we were
Built I remained
Rooted in those sands

Like those stone Buddhas
In the Persian desert
Only simply
Cracking open

In the years that
Followed I braved
Each aching winter
Carved alone

In a stance waiting
For a touch
From something
Beyond nature

And when the children
Played on me
I was not at peace
Then without you

And when the monks
Prayed by me
We could not both
Be in Nirvana

And when the dictator
Tore me down
My crumbling arms
Could not heave spite

Could not crave body
Beyond a shattered face
Broken beads
A withering Lotus

In the centuries that
Followed your death
I learned to love
Only silence

I learned to suffocate
And petrify
Till even Om
Was not me

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My senior year of highschool I did an oratory on the importance of confirmation.

It included a pertinent quotation from British Romantic William Wordsworth which I will re-produce for you here:

“That best portion of a good man’s life? His little, nameless, unremembered acts of kindness and of love.”

It remains a topic close to my heart. And if there’s one thing likely to get me going, it’s the the idea that we as a Western culture feel comfortable disconfirming others with such little regard for their desires.

This was made abundantly clear to me during the early moments of the 2012 presidential race when Mitt Romney told members of a group that booed him that “if they don’t like [his] politics, they should vote for someone else.”

Some might credit this with, of all things, honesty. Nevermind that this mirrors Newt Gingrich’s directive to gay voters who prioritize sexual politics that they should simply “vote for president Obama.”

Yes, they are being upfront about their policies. I might add that when Rick Santorum made his racial gaffe some weeks ago he was admonished by Jesse Jackson that if elected he would “be president to all American people”.

Yet the ugly rhetoric I hear is a disconfirming one. With the idea of bi-partisanship so crucial to our success as a nation we cannot afford to simply discount voters (or humans) who disagree with us. The system doesn’t work that way.

The confirmation of another human being has its roots in the acknowledgment of another – not necessarily an agreement with their ideals. Ignoring racial and sexual minorities and simply siphoning them off is unacceptable and a terrible precursor to international relations (where the differences only multiply). The same attitude with potential foreign allies would not just be inappropriate – it would be downright dangerous (take note as to the severe misunderstanding of Iran we are currently experiencing.)

You don’t have to agree. In fact, you may only do so rarely. But we must become a nation of storytellers – those willing to engage in the crafting of a narrative – if we ever want to exercise control over our own future.

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My odyssey as a performer was a very strange one.

One of my defining memories is of the show Stone Soup, which as an elementary school kid I played in. I was one of the three pigs, and sang a delightful song.

A few weeks before we went on our musical director asked me if I’d like to be a narrator.

I didn’t quite understand what a narrator was. I politely declined.

My start in show-biz.

Even today, the idea of the stage is still an intriguing one. A place where I’m never quite sure what to do next, what I’ll find, or what I mean to other people. It is a rewarding, beguiling place. It is somewhere very like home.

In the next two years I’d like to move into that place. I’d like to make myself comfortable.

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And art has given me everything I’ve needed since.”

– David Small [Stitches, 2009]

Few concepts have elucidated my life so well. I don’t like the term artist – it concerns itself with pretenses which shouldn’t concern me.


As I put it to a good friend recently – I don’t feel like my art will leave or reject me.

That’s a naive thought. I’ve been pushed away before, and though choreographer Twyla Tharp and the Greek concept of the genius would heavily disagree about this issue – the point remains. It will go eventually. Everything does.

But at this moment in time my art is a warm hug. It’s a soft pat on the shoulder. It is, simply, the closest thing I have to a home.

Or clothing. Or religion. Or what Nick Drake called a “place to be”.

Those sorts of things are terribly important.

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Oh, let’s hope not.

And yet, in the midst of everything, I made that quiet omission. That in many respects I’m a solitary creature.

For a variety of reasons. Intellect, upbringing, etc. But truly – and not without some kind of merit – I sometimes struggle just to interact with other people.

And it’s not always that, either. There are most certainly moments where I interact just fine, but the hint that I might not be as competent as I suggest is a bit overwhelming.

Yeesh. How trite.

The term “high-functioning crazy person” has been bandied about. Not sure how far off that is, either. I pride myself on the quality of my work, its inherent artistry, and my ability to create truly beautiful things.

It’s just that the creation of that work sometimes feels like the thing I’m really meant for. And that makes interacting with other people tricky. Art, as you may hear me opine here and there from now on, is my home.

A lovely home. A quiet home.

But know that I would love to hear your voice. Or talk about your troubles. That I embrace you as a reflection of my love for the complexity of humanity. I acknowledge your humanity – wholly and with verve.

My nights are quiet nights. Full of silent tinkering. Full of idealistic craftsmanship.

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This is a preliminary sketch of something I’d eventually like to flesh out.

It’s about, I think, the unsettling darkness of the highway. Eventually I’d like it to be a novel or a collection of short stories.

Somewhere there is a boy half-asleep and dreaming. His face pressed up against cool glass as lights twinkle in the distance.

Very far away, two people are arguing in a car. The boy barely hears them, though, his sleepy eyes flitting open every so often to watch the comforting bulbs fade into the distance of the evening.

The boy cannot yet know what those lights represent. The way twin porch-lights glint like ugly jackals. The curvy flicker of a distant forest-fire. The must of fluorescent glare on skin.

He will dream though. He will fall, slow to discover the hidden, spiny teeth of the night. He will imagine for the first time the gaping maw of those angular flashes. The pines torn aside as the night rears its head to lick, touch, and bite.

The boy will scream. The mother will comfort.  But looking up and out into the night with clear eyes will not erase his vision. He is now marked. And the night, alive with the songs of human skin, will not forget him.

He will never unlearn the strange faces which live in the darkness.

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I spent a fateful three months alone in a dormitory last summer.

It was a period of self-discovery and growth. A mix of high and low points springing from my passion for people and art.

In short – I sort of found myself artistically living alone.

I always used to tell my mother that I wanted to make enough money to buy a CD or book on the weekends. Enough to make my art was plenty.

I still feel that way. I don’t even want a home at this point. Just an apartment of my own once I graduate would be terrific. A way to get to work, get my things, and make my work.

That sounds simple – perhaps too simple – but it’s also very ideal. Very streamlined. Appropriately designed.

I’d like some art in my room too. Some photographs and posters and things.

And a bike! I’d like to learn how to ride one sometime so I can meander around a park.

It’s all very simple, though. The dream world of my mind often seems like the grandest adventure.

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There are things I don’t think I’ll have.

I got into a discussion the other day about my lack of interest in marriage. A day later someone else responded incredulously to the notion that I’d dated someone before.

These are normal reactions, I know. And maybe that’s part of the reason I’ve turned toward the standard answer that art has become my home. Art, for whatever else it does to my self-image, suggests an interest in me. And tentatively, at least, it promises not to leave me.

I’m not worried (at this point) about not marrying. Someone much smarter than I recently suggested to me that marriage need not be the only way to establish a life-long relationship. This is heartening.

And as for kids… well, that’s awfully far away. But right now – I don’t think so. I feel guilt about that occasionally – I know my mother would love to be a grandmother. She’s wonderful, and any child would be so much better for having her in their life.

But there are just certain things about my life. Even beyond my typical peculiarities – human things that don’t make that much sense to me. Intimacy, domesticity, the circuity of time and the winding of life.

I don’t understand. And in some respects don’t want to understand. I want to make beautiful things, and to be a beautiful thing, and to share them with someone beautiful. But I am not a very good sharer. And I wonder sometimes if that isn’t just the trick of it.

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There are moments, I reflected last night, where everyone is called up to bat. Tough moments, bitter moments, real moments.

I don’t know if I dodged that bullet or made the right move. I do know that I had a crisis of conscience as I contemplated over-extending myself to please someone else. And I do know that those moments have an unusual knack for revealing our deeper humanity.

I don’t know what that makes me. Afraid, most likely.

If I could tell you just one more thing about complicated relationships it might be this: choices echo out. And if, like me, you really value the in-between above all else… that can be a lonely place.

Jamba Juice of all places has a slogan akin to “Go out on the branch – that’s where the fruit is”. That’s corny and accurate – comfortably numb is no way to live.

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