Sunday, May 28

Flower

It was the beginning of a holiday weekend. The beach was filled with umbrellas, coolers of bottled water, and families sunning themselves like reptiles on the surface of a rock. The water was saturated with the laughter of children, the splashing of dogs chasing tennis balls, and the smiles of everyday people taking the opportunity to get away from the places that otherwise box them in.

Near the shore stands a boy, barely six years old. Olive skinned with bushy curls of dusty brown hair on his head. He'd run towards the crashing surf at full speed, waving his arms and laughing - only to retreat from the oncoming waves a moment later in what seemed joyous fear. His father stood nearby, offering quiet reassurances and picking him up whenever the child would somehow miscalculate his jumps into the tide, or get water into his eyes.
Teaching you to swim. Letting go of your fears.
the younger shadow of a shiverkiss unforgotten.
A girl, splashing in the water a few yards away. Perhaps a year older than the boy if there was actually any difference at all. She was dressed in a swimsuit that seemed designed for a woman, but she played in it without any regard to style. It was like she had stuffed enough socks into her mothers fanciest shoes and then gone outside to play kickball with her friends.

She'd hold her nose with the fingers of one hand, and then fall under the water. You could tell the move was supposed to be more graceful, but it was anything but. Her legs would kick half-in and half out of the water, only propelling her a few feet before she'd come crashing to the surface; gasping for air and wiping her eyes, pushing her hair behind her ears before looking behind to get an idea of how far she had traveled.
Watching her swim. The politics of children.
Forgetting the waves that had once filled him with fear, the boy skipped on tiptoe to where she was swimming. His hands above the water, creating balance for the unrehearsed underwater steps he was taking. He shouted a greeting, repeating it again when she seemed not to hear above the sounds of the waves. Soon he was close enough that she couldn't help but hear. He smiled and waved, and asked,
"What's your name?"
She studied him for a moment in silence, smiled, and then leaned into the water, swimming away in the opposite direction. Unshaken, the boy moved again into deeper water, repeating the question again and again as he gave chase. Each time the answer was the same; a quiet glitter in the eyes, followed by another move away.

She may have only been seven, but with a single move she had transformed the boy into Mogwai staring silently from the river's edge at the girl getting water for her village. He turned to ask for my help, only to be surprised by the touch of a hand and the shouting of the word "tag!" as she appeared from under the water beside him, only to escape again as he attempted to reach out and continue the game.

Following wherever she lead, he asked her name again and again -- never receiving an answer.

Qualis pater, talis filius.

It's the kind of moment that humbles a man. A place where you quietly see a reflection of yourself in the child that you have. A real-life movie of the boy that you were, the man that you would become, and the legacies that you never realize might be passed along until you see them played out on stage in front of you:
The boy was getting worked
It's a father's place to let the son play in the water. To let him get comfortable with the pull of the tide and to develop that unique mix of love and fear that one needs to have in order to respect the ocean -- But this was a totally different story:

Nothing short of drowning was going to unwrap my son from her finger.

The sun traveled across the sky and the tide began to pick up, drawing the waters higher and higher to the shore. Soon it would be time to leave, time to return to the places that we came from. Yet despite all of his effort, the boy was nowhere closer to knowing the her name than he had been before.

Part of me wanted to help him, but I knew it was already too late.

Finally the hour came where we had to leave. He protested of course, but the fatigue was already showing in his eyes. He turned to his new friend and waved, saying goodbye with the same excitement that he had used to say hello, and then took my hand as we began to move towards the shore.

When suddenly there was a splash in the water and a familiar hand tagged him on the back. She smiled at him once again with her eyes and said, "You can call me Flower."
Which is exactly what he did.
[Listening to: Gnarls Barkley, "St. Elsewhere"]


Monday, May 22

Simple Things

Once in a while you reach that place where all the clouds seem to pass in front of the sun. The sky is still blue, but somehow right where you need to feel the warmth of the day there's nothing but shadow.
You know what's causing the chill,
But it's still hard not to ask "why?"
Days like these, it's the little things that help the most:
The unexpected smiles. The joke someone can't wait to tell you (because you're the only one who will get it). The shiny new replacement ATM card that showed up a day earlier than expected. Upgrading the cel phone and actually having some sort of choice between the crappy free phone and the not-quite-as-crappy free phone. Falling asleep on the couch watching a basketball game knowing that someone up in the luxury boxes is smiling because of you. Leaving for work early in the morning, and on your way out as you put the OJ back in the fridge you catch a glimpse of the steaks you're marinating for later, when you hope to have company over for a fancy home-cooked dinner that would impress even the toughest of quickfire judges. New batteries in the mp3 player. Walking the Rufus. Two days in the water, two days in the sun. Getting past that freaky peeling stage with your new tattoo, and already knowing the design you're getting for your next one...
Simple things.
In two days my play will open, despite the fact that it's still not quite ready.
In three days I'll be out of a job, still not sure what I'm going to do next.

Clouds hovering. Sunlight obscured.

But then again, I just got a new alarm clock that plays CD's instead of beeping

And we all know what that means...
I'm waking up to Bad Brains.
How could anything possibly go
wrong after a start like that?
[Listening to: Yoko Kanno/Origa, "Rise"]


Sunday, May 21

Girl, You'll Be a Woman Soon

the parrot
        the birdwatcher
      ...then you're going to the vet.
[Listening to: Union Underground, "Killing The Fly"]


Friday, May 19

Ascendo Tuum

This morning on the way to work I heard a commercial on the radio from some local pastor who was soliciting audiences to come to a special service he was giving called "Unlocking The DaVinci Code."

It's certainly not the first commercial I've heard dealing with the subject, but it was by far the most desperate. There was literally a sense of urgency to the guy's voice, like he was actually afraid or something. By the end of the ad I wouldn't have been surprised at all if he had started shouting out:
This is not a drill people - Frogs are falling from the sky!
Do you hear me? Frogs are falling from the fucking sky!!
Understand something here -- I've got no problem with people standing up for what they believe in. If Christians feel like they need to offer rebuttals to the claims made in The DaVinci Code, that's cool. Hell, things like this probably do wonders in terms of re-invigorating people's faith by prompting them to ask the kinds of questions that give them the chance to confirm the depth of their own convictions.

The way I see it -- Myths benefit from vilians. Ideas need questions to help them grow into beliefs.
Without Pharoah, Moses would just be another dude with a stick.
Without Simon Peter, the story of Jesus wouldn't be half as long.
But what really bugs me the most is the idea that somehow the movie is what people should be worried about. The DaVinci Code novel has been out for what, 3 years now? Everywhere you go you see people reading it, reading about it, and talking about it -- but now that Tom Hanks is involved it's an emergency!?

If you're going to be reactionary to something that's fine, but how about reacting to it when it actually happens -- not just when Sony pictures decides to make a load of money off of it?
Here's a good rule of thumb: If Ron Howard's involved -- it's already too late.
Panic is a big part of the business of religion -- I get that. It's not like I don't realize that the people who are sounding the war drums over all this are doing it for a reason, it's just that I find it really funny when the method you use inadvertantly points out your own ignorance.
I mean when you get right down to it a minister saying that anyone who reads
the bible should know that the DaVinci Code movie is based on lies is pretty
much the equivalent of a vegetarian wearing a leather jacket.
[Listening to: Emery, "Studying Politics"]


Thursday, May 18

Santoku

It's a really weird time for me lately. The events of the past few weeks have been making me start thinking about just how valuable your time in this world really is, and yet if you look at it from the outside it seems like I'm right back in the same place I always end up in -- looking for a new job and wondering where the heck I'm going to be in a year.

The strangest part is that despite the fact that job hunting is never fun, despite this overwhelming sense of uncertainty that always seems to surrounds my immediate future, there's something really exciting to me about standing on this precipice.
What was it Jefferson said about how the world would be
a better place if there was a revolution every three years?
There are a number of things I still want to experience in my life, things I want to see if I can challenge myself to master. Some of these things (like rock and roll stardom) may be more out of reach than I want them to be (although I'll never really give up hope on it), but there are other avenues that in the past I've felt were too unrealistic, too expensive, and maybe even too intimidating for me to attempt without risking some sort of serious personal failure.
..Like culinary school.
I love to cook. I have for a long time. There's something seriously cool about the mix of craftsmanship, skill, and creativity it takes to be good at it. The way that it enables you to perform for people while still doing something that is satisfying for yourself.

At the same time, going to culinary school can be unbelievably expensive. And as much as it's something I've always wanted to do, I really don't have any kind of concrete perspective on it at all. By that I mean I could find a way to get there only to discover that I utterly hate it. I cook at home, but it's been ages since I've been part of a working kitchen environment. And even then, the kind of levels I'd be shooting for if I actually did go to cooking school wouldn't be anything like the places I've worked at in my time.

But the more I look into it, the more I feel like it's something I would really like to do. Something I would really like to get good at. Something I feel like I could really, really excel at given the opportunity.
Either way, I'll never know the truth if I don't try.
And I'm done being the one who always wanted to, but didn't.
[Listening to: Tool, "Jambi"]


Wednesday, May 17

Scotch

You need to talk about it, but you can't.
You want to get past it, but you don't.
Tape it together.
...Hope it holds.
It's like sunshine through the clouds, rain falling in the day. You go from one moment to the next, feeling each emotion full, raw, and real.

It sounds rough, but it's as true for the good as it is for the dark. Everything's amplified, everything's boosted. How many times in one day can you ask yourself, "Did I forget to eat today?"

Right now the biggest thing on my plate is somehow pulling this school play together. There's a week left until the opening curtain and it's still not really ready. The kids are working hard, and everyone's doing their best -- but it's really just a matter of too little time to get everything done as well as I would like them to be.

At the same time, I also feel like I'm pouring a lot of energy into getting the play right as some sort of symbolic victory. Like all the other harshness going on will somehow be held off a little bit if I can just get this one hour of theater to go well.
Escapism as therapy.
Duct tape and mirrors.
Perhaps that's why the simple moments start to feel forced (even when they're not), when the little questions seem big, and the wilting flowers in the kitchen seem to speak louder than I want them to right now.
Man, what I wouldn't give for a couple
of plane tickets and a surfboard... you know?
[Listening to: From Zero, "Smack"]


Saturday, May 13

Actually Spoken During the Course of My Day

"Alright, I'll leave -- but I'm taking my zombies with me!"
[Listening to: We Are Scientists, "It's a Hit"]


Friday, May 5

A Ladybug in the Rain

A ladybug
in the rain
won't make
any sound
but you're always glad
that she is there.
[Listening to: The Beatles, "Long and Winding Road"]


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