Sunday, December 30, 2007

before the revolution

today was such a weird day. there were so many more crazy people than usual at work...thankfully, a few of them were insane in a good way. like this one woman i was helping at the cutting counter. she acted like she knew me—like i was her best friend and she hadn’t seen me in months. which freaked me out, mostly because a lot of my parents friends shop where i work and they recognize me but i don’t recognize them, and then i feel awful about it—and she looked like she was about their age, mid-fifties-ish. but i’m almost certain i’ve never seen this woman before. anyway, at some point i said something that was not even marginally funny and she laughed, and was like “ooooh, emily.” umm, crazyperson? i complimented her on this really awesome coat she was wearing, and she flipped out about it, then ran over and told her husband “emily likes my coat!” i’m pretty sure she was not actually on any drugs, but i could be wrong. she didn’t bother me at all, though—i would so much rather deal with people who are crazy in an overly-friendly sort of way than the entitled, irrational, ignorant psychos i deal with regularly.

i’ve changed so much since i started working…i never used to be quite this negative about my own species. a few days before christmas i was walking from my car to the store and the parking lot was extremely full, there were people piling huge mounds of shit into their cars, and i felt so completely revolted. disgusted and pissed off and just generally horrible. what the hell is wrong with us? i don’t exempt myself from this at all, i’m definitely part of the problem. the whole everything is fucking fucked, and i’m too angry to even try to be articulate about it.

how do we change all this? i don’t know what to do. i’ve tried being an activist—i used to do protests and demos and all kinds of things when i was in high school, in my idealist days, but i’m sure it never did any good. occasionally i would encourage one of my friends to not eat meat anymore, and it would last a month or so, and then i would find fast food paraphernalia in their car, and that would be that. when will i accept that the only behavior i can change is my own? should i accept that?

i’ve basically thought myself into an aggravated stupor at this point. very few of these thoughts have actually translated themselves into words, which is how i know i should stop writing. the following passages were written by the slingshot collective, and they give me hope.

we need to figure out why so many folks assume that centralized control by the few over the many, permanent poverty and inequality, structural violence and war, intolerance, ugly, soulless cities, and environmental destruction for every human function are ‘normal.’

daily living forces everyone to make constant decisions: to decide whether you’ll compromise and conform with ‘the way things are’ or do your best to live what’s in your heart and your imagination. those individual daily decisions eventually add up to your lifetime. each decision seems minor—each compromise and conformity can get rationalized as ‘necessary’ ‘realistic’ or ‘inevitable.’ but if you imagine a different world—a world with cooperation, sharing, equitable distribution of resources and sustainable environmental choices—why do you think that some moment in the future will be the right moment to start living according to your vision? …if you think about it, there never will be a moment when it is more ‘convenient,’ ‘acceptable’ or ‘appropriate’ to begin living in a different way. it will always be deviant, an extra bother and an isolated act in a world that goes on in the old ways.

from “tips for modern simplicity”:

here are some tips about how to minimize our entanglement in the industrial capitalist machine that is destroying the environment and enslaving people across the globe. it is true that lifestylism—spending most of one’s energy changing your own individual behavior rather than working to smash the system—is not the solution for complex social problems like capitalism and industrialism. however, it is equally true that it isn’t good enough to say ‘i’ll change my individual behavior after the revolution.’ if we’re all waiting for everyone else to change first, or for some great movement to tell us it’s time to change, we’re missing the point. change happens on all kinds of levels in complex ways. revolution means change on a structural, mass level—in ways far outside of our isolated, individual hands—and it also means millions of individual people simultaneously changing their own lives and behaviors in private, invisible ways. participating in movements for change is crucial to change the structural, mass level, but our daily life choices are important too and are solely up to us.

that’s why a lot of us are switching teams—devoting our life energy to non-hierarchical alternatives to the system and avoiding participation in the heavy resource consumption mainstream economy every chance we get. in figuring out how to live more simply, it is often useful to ask ‘how did people live 100 years ago’ and/or ‘how do people live in places that haven’t yet been industrialized?’ living simply focuses on quality of life, not standard of living. we’ve found that by learning how to live simply and farther outside the system, our lives are full of richness, excitement, creativity and fun.

Friday, December 28, 2007

in praise of pencil marginalia

putting my copy of the maximus poems up for sale on felt so glorious. i went through and erased my little enraged pencil markings, and i came across this one quote that i starred, from page 240:

(her hemispheres
loomed above me,
I went to work
like the horns of a snail

i love it. someone really, seriously should erasure (or just edit the hell out of) that book. if it was taken down from 635 pages to about 15 it would be pretty kick ass.

in addition to listing a ton of books for sale, i ordered even more; i need 17 books for next semester. it’s better than last semester, when i needed almost 30, but still...damn. allowed me to get about $400 worth of books for less than $75, including shipping. there was a $118.75 psychology book that i got for $1.20 (2nd edition rather than 3rd, but it’s only 2 years older, and fuck new editions anyway), and a $49.50 (used price!) book that i ordered for $1.71. the bsu bookstore is such an incredible rip-off.

charlotte bronte’s jane eyre is required for one of my classes, and i just recently picked up a sweet hardcover copy of that book from a thrift store. i knew it was old when i found it, but i didn’t know how old…turns out it was printed in the mid-1800’s. when i bought it i intended to gut it and make a craft project of it. probably better to leave it intact, because i reckon it might be worth more than the five bucks i paid for it. i’m really not looking forward to reading the book, though. it sounds absolutely miserable.

and kisses for the lasses

i got back from mccall yesterday, where i spent most of my time curled up in a giant papasan chair, reading the books i got for christmas and trying to write a bit of poetry. there was also much taking of pictures. i’ll probably make a second post about all the marvelous things i’ve read lately, because right now i want to focus on photos.

during the summer i’m all about close-up photography, really connecting and sometimes interacting with the subject. but during the winter it’s much more detached, resulting in a lot of landscape shots, which i don’t really like…it just seems like anyone can take landscape photos, there’s not much challenge to it, and the result is not nearly as interesting. recently i started cropping landscapes to non-standard, panorama-type sizes. the aspect ratios turn out completely different on all of them, so they look funky next to each other, but it's fun and liberating not to have to fit in to the usual 2:3, 5:7 or 4:5, or any pre-set standard.

i walked down to payette lake…it’s not far, our cabin is just across the bridge and down the street from the little tourist lake-area, but it was a bit of an ordeal walking along the highway with all that snow. it reminded me of the time i rode my bike to the mccall thrift store and got caught in a huge rain storm, without any rain-protection and no fenders on my bike. just about everyone i passed was staring at me, and they probably thought i was insane because i was completely drenched, muddy, freezing, with mascara running down my cheeks, and laughing my fucking head off the entire way. i couldn’t get over the hilarity of the situation, despite the discomfort of it.

three snow-covered cars, belonging to our nearest neighbors, whom my parents refer to as “the bumpuses.” they typically have about 5-10 broken-down cars in their yard, along with a lot of other crap that makes their property look really goddamn classy.

this is one of the wee little out-buildings on my parents property. the previous owners said a writer lived there for a while. i can’t imagine living in that tiny room…it has electricity, but no heat or gas or running water—imagine roughing it like that, especially when there’s two feet of snow on the ground! i really wonder what that person was writing about. in my imagination, s/he was writing on an old typewriter, by the light of an old gas lamp, with a cot in the corner and a little wash basin. it’s kind of a cool romantic thing to think about.

the snow was well over andy’s head, but still he plowed through it, with his tiny little munchkin-dog legs, wearing his new christmas “spa robe;” he blazed trails all throughout the back yard, and lucifer tripoded along behind.

on the night of christmas eve i ventured out and took some pictures of all the lights, and the full(?) moon. 1600 ISO works wonders. i was even able to write messages in the snow and take pictures of them using the cabin’s outside lights as the only light source.

i took a lot of pictures out the window on the ride home. i loved how these cows were lined up on the very top of a hill, so symmetrically; also the backlighting made for a neat effect.

the drive back was mostly clear, but there was a short snowstorm at one point…luckily it cleared up just before we hit the curvy/dangerous part of the highway.

the view of horseshoe bend, from highway 55.

Thursday, December 27, 2007

phyllis the amaryllis, IV

my grandma gives me an amaryllis bulb every year. it's nice to have a colorful, living, tropical-looking flower to take pictures of during the winter.

Saturday, December 22, 2007

vibrations free of charge ! for an exciting game !

i had an exceptionally fruitful thrifting expedition today. i scored such finds as: vintage teddy ruxpin doll for $2.50; tron, the storybook (from the movie); a small ceramic owl teapot with two matching owl teacups; reader’s digest complete guide to sewing; and a coffee mug with a 1980’s-looking porno shot of a woman, naked and spread-eagle on satin sheets, over which someone very tastefully drew a bra and not enough underwear to cover a bush that puts peaches to shame.

among the gems passed up: a figurine of santa clause, holding the severed head of what one presumes was an impostor santa; an LP of “alice in wonderland” starring magilla gorilla; “my very own Hanukkah box;” a hideous yellow fondue set; a pair of astronaut boots; and a handmade christmas-decoration dog-like torso-structure made out of braided yarn, with front legs coming out of its chin. you might wonder how i could walk away from these treasures, but what use would i have for another yarn-dog-torso? i’d just be adding it to the pile.

i also witnessed some pretty amazing parenting at a fast food restaurant. first, i walk into the bathroom and there’s an unsupervised half-naked kid running around, so i walk right out, cuz i have an enthusiastic aversion to children. fifteen minutes later the mom shows up, having accidentally driven away without her two kids; so she collects them and leaves. i figure i’m safe, so i go in the bathroom, and then this other mom with another kid runs in—he’s just pissed his pants, and she strips him, makes him lie down on the disgusting bathroom floor while she changes and chastises him. i had to carefully step around them to get out the door. it’s not often i feel pity for young humans, but this was one of those times.

it’s weird being released from the stress of school. today was the first day in a long time that i had all to myself, without having to worry about homework. i don’t know if i had a single day like that all semester. i work tomorrow but on sunday it’s off to my parents’ cabin in mccall for christ-mess. it gets pretty boring up there, for someone who doesn’t do any winter sports; but there are beautiful photo opportunities, lots of knitting by the wood stove, and i’ll have time to read for pleasure. that is a fucking foreign concept.

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

wowfx.dll, i will smash your face

viruses…trojans…malware…goodness, my computer was so profoundly infected. and it still is. this one nasty little rat-shit piece of bastard will not go away. but at least i can actually use my computer again, for the first time in a week…for as long as it lasts. why can’t everything just work the way it’s supposed to all the time? that should be a rule…at least during finals week, for fucks sake.

i think i’m going to continue my blog, because surprisingly the novelty hasn’t worn off yet. it feels like it’s about to…but i think maybe it will be a good motivator for me, to keep me writing. so we’ll see.

maybe i’ll turn it into a dream journal, at least in part. i love keeping dream journals; they make such awesome fuel for poetry later on. i had a horrifying nightmare about vivisection the other night…there was a monkey hooked up to this machine, with a chord going into its brain that made so the monkey never had to eat or sleep or anything, all it could do was stay awake and feel pain. the machine simulated car crashes, over and over again, never stopping. in the dream it brought me to my knees and i was sobbing, then i started gagging and woke up and cried some more. i wanted to write a poem about it, but i can never manage to write poetry about things like that…i can’t get past the feeling that i’m exploiting someone else’s pain, no matter how genuinely i feel about it.

Sunday, December 9, 2007

bug powder and mugwump jism

i just learned that in anatomy, the word “helix” refers to the “folded rim of skin and cartilage around most of the outer ear.”

today something completely unprecedented happened. i finished putting together all of my chapbooks—!two! !days! before they are due. under normal conditions i would just be wrapping them up about half an hour before class, but as luck would have it this weekend i used them as a vehicle for procrastination (chapbook > lit paper, always). they turned out pretty sweet, i think. they better have…i spent approximately 14 hours making them. almost an hour per copy. (i made extras).

i also finished my gertrude stein response poem already, in time to put it in the chapbook. i typed it on an antique typewriter and left in all the ridiculous typos when i transferred it to my computer. originally it was my intention to type all of my chapbook poems on this typewriter, but i had no idea how outrageously difficult and slow and error-ful the typing would be. it’s such an awesome machine, though. and using it makes me feel like i’m in the movie adaptation of naked lunch, writing on one of those talking typewriter-insects.

my place of employment got radio headsets this week. they are way too much fun. i decided we need a warning code for when sue (the devil incarnate, who is ironically a fundamentalist christian) comes in to shop. but if we had such an alert system we would all just scatter, and she wouldn’t be able to catch anyone to measure her fabric. except maybe the new girls who haven’t met her wrath. and that would be very sad for them.

speaking of evil personified, my family decorated our little xmas faux-tree today, and this petite monstrosity fell out of the bag of tree decorations. i made it a long, long time ago—though not long enough to excuse the full horror of this cycloptic baby jesus-effigy. its skin is made of hosiery, and its mouth is part of a rubber band. oddly enough, it fits in with the other tree decorations. my family is really weird.

Thursday, December 6, 2007

jack spicer's olson response poem

A Postscript for Charles Olson

If nothing happens it is possible
To make things happen.
Human history shows this
And an ape
Is likely (presently) to be an angel.
If you dream anything
You are marked
With a blue tattoo on your arm.
Rx: Methadrine
To be taken at 52 miles an hour.

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

glowsticks and lollipops

tonight i got out of class just as the basketball fans were leaving. it’s never pleasant for me to walk in a crowd—especially a crowd of sports fans leaving a game—but tonight it was oddly enjoyable, even despite the vile children running about. the weather was so mild, and i smelled all these scents in the air that don’t usually occur all at the same time here: ice cream, cigarettes, chlorine and french fries. it reminded me of a beach i used to go to, walking on the boardwalk by the ocean late at night. the only smells missing were salt water taffy and seaspray.

Saturday, December 1, 2007

our tassels tied together

there’s a bar on federal way that a few of my coworker friends and i visit once in a while. it’s called the TK, but we call it “the shifty bar.” our little store rests between a truck stop and this lovely trucker bar. drunken truckers wander through our parking lot on their travels between the two, and sometimes the music from their zz-top-resembling, jimmy buffet-covering house band seeps through our walls. i don’t do bars so much, but i’ll make an exception for the shifty bar.

i decided a couple days ago that if the TK was an inn, it would be the cabana inn on main street. i have no words to express my feelings for this inn. partly because it’s about 4am and i’m very tired, and i can hardly type, much less think. but also because the cabana’s splendor is unwordable.

i also have a lot of affection for a certain parking lot elevator. there is happiness in winter, even when it seems like just about everything is dead.

the last few days have been exactly what i needed to escape my school funk. hopefully it has the sense to stay escaped.