Tuesday, December 28, 2010

The first time...

Some are unable to take criticism well and if you are one such person and find yourself within this writing, then I give mild apology. I have just reached the point where I need to say something, yet it is not my place to say it to anyone within the group I am working with. So, instead I will say it here to get it off my chest and hopefully just get rid of some frustration. If I manage to offend and ostracize myself from the group, well, such is the risk I take.

Do you know how many days until we open? Not two weeks, but NINE days. Come two days from now it will only be a week. To say that I am a little nervous is an understatement. This is one of the first times that I have truly wondered if a show will work or simply crash and burn. Show me why, you ask…. ok, just listen.

So, here goes… The story of the show is a serious one. It is a tale of one man's depravity and how he takes from the world, yet never acknowledges his wrong doing. There is murder, rape, deception, coercion, vengeance, demons, and eventually a descent into hell. Needless to say this is intended to be serious material. Now, within any show of such depth there is always at least one character that is intended to bring a bit of levity so as not to let the audience wallow in how heavy and depressing the show can be. Understandable? I feel so, but we have descended into the land of shtick. All that seems to be missing is a little slapstick and, as mentioned to me earlier, the inclusion of the Keystone cops. Every time where subtlety would be appropriate it seems that we are simply slapping the audience in the face with a humor stick. Each time that happens all the tension in the scene disappears and it gives the audience a reason to disengage from the story.

And then there is focus. How hard is it to simply listen to directions, follow instructions, do your part, and when the director says "focus" to shut the fuck up? I have spent the past ten years working with ten year olds and my average class of 30 can get quiet and remain so far better than 17 adults on a stage can. Really? If your intention is to put on a professional show then….. ACT LIKE A PROFESSIONAL! I am all for play. Hell, you can frequently find me messing around (when the time is appropriate), but if it is time to work, then let's just work. There is little enough time to put the show together if we are on task, let alone if half of our time is wasted by diddling around on stage. When a scene ends, stop. Wait. Listen for commentary from the director. Reset if needed and go on. Do not assume that just because you are no longer "acting" that it gives you license to flap your mouth, flail your arms, and otherwise be a distraction. If the scene is continuing then pay attention. Watch the other actors. Support them. As soon as your mouth opens you are telling them that you really don't give a crap about what they are doing.

Really it all comes down to respect. Have respect for the stage. Have respect for the director. Have respect for the time. Have respect for yourself as an actor. But mostly, have respect for the show. It is a brand new piece that needs to be put together carefully, not just thrown together haphazardly. Make it work, make it fun, make it amazing. Create. Be artists. Don't waste your time, or my time, or the director's time, or especially the audience's time. That is my fear. I am afraid that people will come and say, "Why did I bother?"

That's pretty much it. Those are my main gripes. Again, if I offend I am sorry, but if you don't like my opinion I truly don't care. It is what it is.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Something New

Two weeks into Seattle life and I already find that Tacoma feels different.  

Twenty years ago I came to Tacoma to go to college and swore that after four years I would be headed back south as soon as I was done with my degree.  Instead I ended up staying and life continued on.  T-town became my home and I adapted to what was city-life in comparison to my small-town upbringing in Forest Grove.   Coming from a 1990 population of 13,599 (according to the 1990 Census) to an area with 176,664 people was a bit of an adjustment.  Over time I found that I enjoyed this area and the abundance of people that were here. It took me a while, but I fully adapted to the Tacoma way of life.

 Over the next sixteen years I explored the area and found so many things about Tacoma that I like. The public blueberry park in East Tacoma, the myriad of trails out in Point Defiance Park, the campus of U.W.T. and how it has led to the resurrection of downtown, Wright Park, Thea Foss Waterfront, Fujiya (The BEST sushi in Tacoma), and so many other places. There are so many things to do in T-town that I am surprised that people don't know about them all.
And now here I am only two weeks into Seattle, and I find that I already feel more at home here in this limited time than I did for the first ten years in Tacoma. Seattle, in comparison to Tacoma is huge, 617,334 according to last estimates prior to the 2010 US Census. I know that I have been ready for a change for years, and it seems as if this is exactly the change I have needed.

A few days ago I took a day off of work, as everyone was sick (including myself), and drove through West Seattle in search of an Office Depot. I found myself looking around and, despite my unpleasant physical state, I realized I was just "happy". I wanted to explore the area and see what it was about this space that made me feel instantly comfortable. I have yet to have the chance to do that, but I am looking forward to the chances that I will have later.

Just today Samantha and had the chance to swing by Lincoln Park and I can already tell that I'll be able to get all my nature-fixes I need out there. Apparently there is even a huge, heated salt-water pool. I am so intrigued by that. Trails criss-cross the park and there is a large amount of beachfront property to walk as well. I am already imagining family picnics and all those things that make great memories. Even better, it's just a short hop down the 54 bus line, which means driving won't even be necessary.

And then there are all the junctions, these wonder intersections of little shops, restaurants, cafes, and just cool places to poke through. I have a feeling I (We) will be spending a fair amount of time there. Granted, if we're not careful, we'll probably be spending a fair amount of money too. Gotta watch that part.

So many things to see. So many things to do. I think I'll survive. In the meantime I will just continue to marvel at the feel of the space. It has somehow managed to quickly become "Home."

Monday, October 11, 2010

~ Of armchair Tolstoys and backyard Kings ~

The whole world is a stage – or at least a book. And we, no matter how insignificant a role we might play, are all writers within it. Everyone has a story to tell – a drama to unfold – or a song to compose. As was quoted many times to me, "If you walk down a street and ask a stranger how his or her novel is coming along, nine times out of ten they will say, 'Well, I'm stuck on such and such a part.'" We all have something to say, the problem is that not everyone can find the words to express what they desire to pass on.

It seems that everyone is out there writing furiously on their book, or their play, or their short story. Characters are being created from mere abstraction sand lifetimes are quite often terminated with the ripping of a page the mark of a pencil. Whole worlds and universes are constructed from the swirling miasma of thought while tyrannical kings hold their land in thrall and by the force of the blade. Lovers meet and are thrust apart by forces unknown to them (the authors) and homicidal maniacs run rampant through the streets of a small city in Maine. All these lives, these worlds and kingdoms are brought to life and destroyed by one thing – the writer.

Throughout the country there resides an infinite amount of stories and sagas stored up within the collective memory of the human race, and there are many who would attempt to grasp these narratives and put them down on paper for the rest of the world to read. Some of these writers are successful in their attempts and quite easily bring their characters to live, letting them show us all their trials and tribulations that they must go through until they reach their ultimate goal. However, there are also those of us who must still hunt and peck at our keyboards while trying to get even a spark of intelligence to come from the lips of our latest hero.

Though not excluding the prolific writers of the world, we armchair Tolstoys tend to frequent a place in our minds which resembles a dead end street. Once the character has finally gotten up to speed and it seems that his steps cannot falter – wham! – he face plants into the stone and masonry wall which has suddenly sprung up before him. Dead in his tracks, he appears dazed and looks about without a clue as to what is to come next. A single word escapes his mouth, "Uhhh…..?"

At the same period of time that our character is looking stupefied, we quite often are doing the same. We even make the same sound. Last thing we knew, we were running along with our characters, recording what was happening when suddenly everything stopped; vertigo struck us; and then we were back sitting before our laptops with an unfinished thought on the page and a stupid look on our face. In vain, we try again to pick up the thought where we left off and begin running again, but all we can do is falter a few steps before we throw up our hands in frustration and begin to mutter obscenities at the computer, all the while imaging a recreation of the scene from Office Space where they take the fax machine into a field and beat the living (or non-living in this case) hell out of it.

This block, the band of all bards, minstrels, and muses of the written word strikes frequently and viciously, often leaving us drained and unable to function for a long period of time. Even when armed with our sharpest #2's, we strike out and stab only empty air and thoughts. The mélange of interplay between our characters, their worlds, and their goals lies beyond our reach. Sometimes it is far on the horizon, so we cannot even discern what we were looking at before. While other times, it teases us with glimpses so close that we might even see an action occurring but no know what to do with it.

There is always a great temptation to write through the block, to force the story to continue on. This seems to be a real difference between those of us who scribble in obscurity and to those who are able to produce the vital characters which draw us into their lives. Though there is great frustration in having to stop the forward motion of a world in progress, to force the characters into actions they aren't ready to do is a sure way to self-destruct a saga in the making. Characters will balk in making their smoothly. Each world from their mouths will sound as if rough-hewn and not finished, perhaps forced into being. Eventually they might even rebel enough to sit down and say that they refuse to move one step further.

Thus, we are forced to do what all the great writers do. We wait. Twiddling the thumbs always words and you can do it for free. The problem is you really get bored fast. It seems to be a good attention grabber for about thirty seconds. You could always start another writing project to see if something different comes along. However, there is the tendency to simply start making preparations for what to do when the zombie apocalypse happens. Useful, but not effective the short term.

Maybe you should try playing golf. If you don't play, even better. Take lessons. That way you can spend your time worrying about your slice instead of why your character is sitting there in front of a wall with stars floating around his head. This, along with various other methods of distraction (including doing laundry and participating in a Zombie LARP to get a feel for the impending apocalypse) should keep you busy enough to let your head work out the problems without your mind getting in the way of its working.

Then it happens. Your fingers start to itch and long for the feel of a keyboard beneath them. You start to daydream and realize that what you are thinking about is what your character is supposed to be doing at this moment. It's about this time that you realize that he has woken up from his daze and is ready to start telling you where he wants to go. The only thing that is necessary is for you to listen to him as he picks up the pace of his travels. Record what he does, all he sees, and where he goes. Let him be the writer, and be just a traveling companion yourself. If he has been given the life that is necessary, then things will finally fall into place (with probably only a few nudges for direction from you). It's only when we try to take over his story that the balking will begin again and the stone and masonry wall will appear once more.

Friday, October 8, 2010

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Putting it all away...

Stuff.  Got enough?  Want more? I've got some.  I need to get rid of some. I don't want to take it with me. Who wants it?

Really. 13 years of living in this house and I have accumulated so much stuff.  Where the hell did it all come from?  Pictures, posters, postcards, paper, pots, pans, pie plates, pizza stones, pails, pottery, perpetual piles of peripherals and paraphernalia. Good lord. Don't get me started on the rest of the alphabet.

I must pack, I must purge, I must plan to put everying in a new place. Perhaps I am poorly prepared. Probably.

Ok, enough of that.  I am just looking around this house and thinking I am in the final countdown.  Thirteen years this ghost-filled house.  Some good memories, some not. Mostly just memories in general.  I never expected to live so long in this place.  It was supposed to be a starter house.  And I guess, in it way it has been - multiple times.  It's even being repurposed again as the start of my rental properties.  If I manage it right I might be able to make it one of many.  We'll see I guess.

So, for now I'm just taking it all in.  Three more nights under the roof.  72 hours of days left before the new journey beings.  See, I'm starting again.

In the mean time... anyone need a bowflex?

Saturday, September 25, 2010

There's two ways we can do this. Your way or.....

Some people spend their days walking through their lives living every moment within a haze. They get up and shower, shove some food down their throats, run out the door and plod through their work day. Then when the day is done they might grab a drink, head home, toss a Hungryman in the microwave and plop down in front of Angry Housewives before heading to bed and sleeping until they start again the next day.

God that scares the shit out of me. 

Note: If I ever end up that way please kick me in the ass, head, or other various bodily part.

I have seen too many people doing exactly that with their lives, which truly equates to doing "nothing" with their lives.  At least, it's nothing if there is no enjoyment within it.

I have set myself a few rules for my life over the years:

The first is about stressing over things. It's pretty simple: If there is absolutely nothing I can do to affect the outcome of something, then it is of absolutely no use for me to stress over it. All I end up doing is stressing myself for no reason.

The second is probably just as if not even more important:  Enjoy everything you can.

Ok, I know this might sound a little (or a lot) hedonistic, but I don't mean it in the sense that I need to go out and bed everything that moves. Rather, I mean that I want to enjoy everything I do, be it watching a play, reading a book, or even just something as simple as holding someone's hand.

One example of this is cooking. For those of you who truly know me, you know that I have a difficult time sharing my kitchen.  That is, I love sharing the product of my kitchen, but it is difficult for me to be out of it.  My mother was a wonderful cook (I know, everybody says this...) and she was adventurous in what she did. More importantly, she showed me how to work in the kitchen. I watched her prepare meals and I learned by her example. Now when I am in the kitchen I will find myself stopping and thinking of her at some of the oddest of times. Just tonight I was making spaghetti sauce and it brought her back to me. But the point is not about her, but rather the joy I learned from her when I am cooking. To prepare a meal for someone and then have them enjoy it makes my day.

Oh, and then there is driving.  I love to drive.  More importantly, I love to drive with the windows down. (Ok, nobody make jokes about how I love how my hair blows in the breeze....) I do love the feel of the wind. On a dry day I will hang my arm out the window and enjoy the feeling of 60 mph winds with all the glass rolled down.  And on a day of downpours I can enjoy the stinging numbness that comes with the water. And of course the zen moment of truly feeling that you are part of the car.  There is this moment where you know you are part of this 2000 pound machine and it responds to your every whim. Gotta love that. (Somewhere in the background Tim Allen is making grunting noises, I know it.)

If am walking I love to go uphill where I can feel my quads lifting. When I read a book, I try to really put myself into the part of the character to really get what the author was trying to convey (which, admittedly can be a bit awkward when the main charachter is a seventeen year old girl, or a 63 year old grandmother of 19. but still...). When I am exploring a new neighborhood I want to be lost so I can truly find my way home. 

Oh, and speaking of which, I love when my brain is able to complete more of its mental map of a place. There is such a strange geeky rush I get when I suddenly go, "Holy shit, I know exactly where I am now!" in a place that I have rarely ever traveled.

Basically, I try to understand the moments as they come to me. All you have to do is look at the obvious, and then see the things which most people miss. Look closer. Find the unique experience in everything you do. It might just be the feel of the fabric of your bedsheets just after they have been washed and then put on the bed while still warm. It might be sound of tiny rocks and broken pieces of shell on the beach as the water pushes them back and forth with waves. It might even be the smell of the sap of a Douglas fir that you catch in the air as you are cleaning up your yard after a windy night.  Whatever it is, savor it. Drink up the moments. Live each one instead of simply letting them pass you by. Enjoy the feel of the skin of your loved one's cheek. That's my rule to myself.

Even now I have found myself practicing this rule. I have been enjoying the thoughts that have been going through my head as I write this. Good memories have surfaced and I feel just a bit lighter. Maybe I've got something here. Maybe I'm doing something right.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010


Today was the first day I did not like my job.  The first day.  Ever.  I thought it was bad enough that this is the first year where my work felt like a "job" instead of where I get to go work with some great kids and get paid for doing it.  But now... today.

I am not happy with this situation.  I have relished the past ten years where I could leave home and know that even though I was at my place of employment I would still enjoy my day. 

I think that's all for the day.  I cannot go into details, so I"ll just have to work at it more.  Perhaps with more effort it will be fun.  It just seems so illogical when I say it that way.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Gloria Estefan was right: The rhythm IS going to get you.

I've decided that today's theme will be music.  Don't worry, I don't think it will be a long one.

In 2nd Grade Ms. Rhyum (spelling may have degraded with age) begain a music class at our elementary school  She brought in instruments and started a choir.  I was one of the lucky short people who got to sing with the older kids.  We worked on two part harmony and actually practiced reading music.  Thus began the integration of music and my world.  Since that time the two have rarely been separated.

A short history of music in my life:  Suzuki violin lessons (11 years and I still suck); Elementary music classes and choir; middle school choir with Nan Hindman; musicals at Theatre in the Grove starting around 6th grade; FGHS choir with the incredible Rod Rasmus (the man who truly taught me how to appreciate every new piece of music for what it was, and who always came out saying, "You have GOT to hear this!"); Vocal Jazz Choir with the same man; more musicals at Theatre in the Grove, Pacific University, and FGHS, Choir of the West at PLU; and god knows how many musicals at other places all along the way. 

Anyway, I've always thought life would be more interesting with a musical underscore.  I find that I associate major events in my life with music.  I will almost always find a piece that reflects what is going on in my world, or whenever I think of a major memory I will have a song immediately pop into my head.

When stressed, I sing.  When happy, I sing.  When bored, I sing.  It's kind of in my blood.  Why am I this way?  I don't know.  I'm not arguing, but I know it has annoyed some people in my past.  I have be "corrected" for singing/humming at inappropriate times.  I dont' even notice that I do it.  It's just an innate reaction to the world around me.  Maybe I hear the hum of the universe, and instead of joining it I seek the harmony to it instead.

Anyway, there is little point to this tonight except to say thank you to Chris Rhyum, Nan Hindman, and Rod Rasmus.  I keep your lessons with me in my heart and voice. 

Friday, September 17, 2010

“The times they are a changing…”

     Most of the time, when I hear Bob Dylan I feel the overwhelming urge to take a spork or some other relatively sharp fast food utensil and attempt to remove the accursed anvil, hammer, and stirrup from my inner ear, thus granting myself respite from the caterwauling sound that has emanated from his pie-hole.
     However. Today I think he is right. Just once.
     Twenty years ago I moved to Tacoma intending to be here for four years and then leave to go back to Oregon. 10 Years ago I got divorced and was intending to go back to Oregon. One and half years ago I separated from a long term girlfriend intended to go back to Oregon. One year ago, I foolishly became engaged and was then ran away from by a panicking girl, and what did I intend to do? (Bah, to heck with Oregon, I was going to sell the house and leave the country.) So, have you got the idea that I was ready to leave the state?
     And back in 1997 I bought a house in Fircrest with my ex-wife, then I lived in the same house with the long term girlfriend, and then again with the fleeing fiancĂ©. Too many ghosts. Too many reasons not to stay. Too many years without a strong change to redefine my life.
     Until now. As of today I take a new step forward, and amazingly not towards Oregon. Nope. Northward bound I go, hand in hand with Samantha and the kids. Ok, it's not really very far, only thirty-seven miles. But still, it's out of Tacoma, and into West Seattle. For most people they might say, "That's nothing," but you have to remember this guy was raised in a college/farm town of twelve thousand people. Moving to Tacoma was huge. And now we'll be moving from a town of 179,000 to a city of nearly 620,000. It's a big change. But as time has gone on, I have lost much of my desire to live in a town like the one I grew up in. It still has its charm, true, but I have become more of a city boy than I will often admit. Just don't expect me to give up my boots. Things haven't changed that much.

Monday, September 13, 2010

A question of merit (?)

     It has been ages since I last posted.  And for that I am sorry.  It's not as if there is a line at the door clamoring to see what I have to say, but rather I am sorry that I have let this practice in writing lapse.

     My thoughts lately have been upon my work. Teaching. It has already been an interesting year, as it has been a beginning that I never expected to have to deal with. Third grade.

     But really I have been thinking about teaching, testing, and pay. I was reading an article earlier about how a newspaper in California ranked 6000 teachers within the Los Angeles area from most effective to least effective. This sounds ok at first. I mean, as a parent I like the idea of knowing how effective my child's teacher will be. However, the ranking of the teachers' effectiveness was based off of student performances on a series of standardized tests given over multiple years. I do not feel that this in any way is an effective method of checking teacher effectiveness.
     Working in a school where we have a large amount of transitory students I see a major problem with this style of ranking. Within the past ten years I have had ten classes with an average of twenty-six students, BUT I have had over 350 students. Now, how does that math work out for you? It doesn't seem quite right, does it? You see, here's the problem: During the course of the year I have had an average of about ten students leave my classroom to move elsewhere, and an average of about eleven come in during the course of any given year. With the large amount of military and low-income families in our area, the overall population of the school is very apt to fluctuate constantly, exchanging perhaps over a hundred students over the course of the year.
     Now, where to do these students come from? How much have they learned from their previous teachers? How well were they trained on their basic facts? Do they have parents who support them? What is their family life like? Do they have issues with authority? What is their reading level? Can they even speak English? Really? Do I have to ask these things? Sadly… yes.
     So here's where it gets difficult. These students transfer into and out of my room, often right before major testing time periods. The ones who leave are a reflection of all the work I have put into them up until that time, yet if I am to be graded on my students' state tests, they will not reflect upon my actual work score as they will be recorded on another teachers roles. Inversely, the students who enter my room and then take their tests with my class are NOT a reflection of what I have done over the course of the year, but they would affect how I am perceived if we were to continue with ranking teachers this way. True, they may come from a teacher who was amazing and perhaps even help with my class's overall score, but it still would not be an accurate representation of what I do as a teacher.
     And then there is the issue that 22 states are currently basing teacher pay off of evaluations like this. I know that we are NOT the only city where there is a large turnover of student population. I mean, how would John Q. Public like to have his salary based off of the work of Larry B. Lazy or Sally "I can't get off my ass to do anything except get another HoHo" Jones? It simply would not be accepted. So why do people think that it is an appropriate way to award or penalize teachers with pay raises or decreases?
     (So, I took a pause here. I found myself staring to channel my inner Dread Pirate, but I stopped for a moment and counted fluffy bunnies. But that didn't work, so I blew them away with my musket. I feel better now.)
     I will leave off here, before the stench of bunnies permeates this blog. I believe I have said my peace and can now leave it in your hands to make a choice. You have the right to do that and to be wrong if you choose something that I wouldn't agree with. I have discovered that my typing fingers still work and now I must sleep. But if you feel like debating with me on this one, or you wish to simply ask, "Where is my bunny?" please feel free to leave a comment.

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

A good realization

     It has been a very interesting and life changing past 14 months. Things have been up and down and spinning in circles… Pretty much common stuff for some people, but I am no longer a "spinny ride" type of guy. Almost half a year ago my life changed again and took a drastic turn that resulted in the destruction of my single life. Obviously it was a change that I will never regret, as these past six months have been the best I can ever say I have experienced.

     Today was a bittersweet day. I had to go back to work after spending every day of my summer with the woman that I love. I love my job, but I did not relish the idea of not seeing Samantha every day. And, of course, while I was there I kept thinking about her (because that is how disgusting we are….), and yet I also found I missed the kids too. Now, this really doesn't surprise me, as they are very lovable children (despite the screaming tantrums that sometimes occur). It's just fascinating that they are definitely part of my world as much as Samantha is. It's the "insta-family" situation. Apparently for many guys this is too much and they have a hard time accepting it, but it is not for me. I like the role of "dad", even if it is actually "step-dad". I know they have a father already and it is not my intention to replace him, but I do enjoy being able to help parent these two wonderful children.

     I really don't have too much to say today. It's been a long day and my brain is not up to rants or tirades today. I just wanted to say that right now, at this very moment, I love my life. I don't care what tomorrow brings. For now I am completely ecstatic to be me.

     And this time (though not normally) I AM the topic of a blog.

Friday, August 27, 2010

If the shoe fits.... (throw it out and buy some damn boots)

Ok, this has been a pet peeve of mine for many years now.  I work in an industry where I meet a variety of people from different walks of life.  The singles and couples that I meet tend to be of a multitude of ethnic backgrounds and of varying degrees of wealth.  Needless to say this gives me a very interesting cross-section view of the people who live in the area where I work.

This leads me to my peeve.  Stereotypes.  You know they are out there.  I don't need to go into a huge amount of detail to get the exact image into your mind on any of them.  And when you have that image, you will have a very distinct gut reaction to how you feel about that particular stereotype.  There is nothing wrong with you, we all do it.  As humans we categorize everything in our lives so that we know how to deal with things as they come along.  Our brains are hard wired to do this.  That way when something new comes along we have set templates of reactions already stored away.  Once we have identified which of the categories it best matches, then we will use that base reaction as our initial response to the new stimulus.

So, again.... stereotypes.  Many of them are negative.  And what gets me is that so many of the people who have been stereotyped complain about the stereotype.  Now, the complaining isn't bad.  I understand if you get all ticked off because people treat you a certain way just based on the way you look.  However..... If you do not like the stereotype that is placed upon you......DON'T KEEP LIVING THE STEREOTYPE!

The most common example that I have noticed in area around my work is that of the young black male.  I have had conversations with previous students who have come back to me and then complained about how white people cross away from them on the street or give them frequent sideways glances in stores.  The problem is these young men are dressing the part of the stereotypical gang banger thug.  Their pants are slung to their knees, they attempt the "gangsta" walk, when they talk to their friends it's always too loud and the word "nigger" is slung back and forth between them as if it were a ball.  I have gone so far as to tell them exactly what I said before.  People will categorize you based off of how you look and how you act.  If you don't like it, then stop.

Now please note that this is not just about this particular group of people, it just happens to be predominant one around where I work.  There are plenty of others....

Take the pretty girl for instance:   Oh my god, I am soooo cute.  I mean, wow.  I can't believe that I could get these pumps and this miniskirt for only $25.  I had to get them because I just didn't know what to buy for the prom next week.  And can you believe what Tina what wearing?  Oh my god, it was so last year.  Yuck.  (Wait, are you hearing the voice yet?)  The problem I often see with this person is that they complain when guys see them as being materialistic and shallow.  They complain when they are treated as merely sexual objects rather than as humans.  Well, here's an idea.... if you have sentient thought in your mind please try to speak it without a high pitched squeal, the words "oh my god", and a fit of giggles.  Also, quit dressing like the slut.  Sexy is one thing. Skanky is quite another.

Ok, so those are two fairly obvious examples but they merely touch the tip of this mess.  Perhaps it just goes to complacency.  Maybe it is just easier to go along with what everybody else does.  Or, perhaps some of these people like living the stereotype because they feel it gives them some form of power.  Who knows?   All I know is I will continually reiterate the following: If you don't want to be stereotyped, quit acting/dressing/living like the stereotype.  It's as simple as that.

Oh, and for those who might get all uppity about the white guy complaining about stereotypes.... give a thought to the mental image of a six foot tall man wearing boots, jeans and black t-shirt while walking down the street.  Now make him bald with a goatee.  Perhaps a bit of a perpetual scowl.  Who hasn't walked a little wide from this guy? 

But really, this isn't about me.... because like always, I will not be the topic of a blog.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

And now for something completely different...

"I will NOT be the topic of a blog!"

Ok. Whatever.

Moving on.... (prepare for shameless self promotion).....

Eight days until an audience.  Eight days! That's both scary and amazing.  I hate the stress of the daily creep up to the first performance, but I love that first audience reaction.

So.... The Last 5 Years.  Please come see it. If you like it I'll be your friend. (And I'll even give you a kitten.)

September 3rd through the 12th.  Fridays and Sundays at 8pm. Saturdays at 2pm.  I look forward to seeing you there.


And again.... "I will NOT be the topic of a blog!"  (See, not a topic, that's reserved for the title of the blog. Really it's more of an annoying intro and tagline.)

Monday, August 23, 2010

It's a question of civility...

Ok... today I feel as if I have a black flag of my own to hoist.  Will it be as deliciously profane as the dread pirate Gabriel?  Probably not, but still...

So... Facebook.  We all know it, right?  It's a public forum.  Ok, I get that.  It's a place where we can express our opinions and share information.  Play attention to people's posts and you might learn something about them.

Now today I am feeling as if I need to talk about this idea, the public forum.  Yes, it is public. When we express our thoughts and opinions on a forum such as Facebook we allow others to see what we feel and think.  I think that's great.  If you control who you allow as your friends and keep your profile open only to people you know, then you can allow those close to you to get to know you all the better. 

So, this leads to my issue.  Some people complain consistently about how much information people disclose upon Facebook.  Why the fuck they choose to complain about what another person writes I'll never know.  Personally I don't really care.  They can truly complain all they want, except it would be better if they kept their complaints out of this public forum. (explanation later) Earlier in the day I was reading someone's posting for their work Facebook page and I noticed that a sibling of that person had made a remark in supposed humor about that person which was in fact a blatant insult poorly disguised as a joke.  Very poorly.  So I called them on it. 

Now I understand that there are times when siblings will give each other crap about things, but this joke, though attempting to look innocuous enough, took it too far, especially because it was on the person's professional page instead of their personal page.  First off, you don't make derogatory comments about a person upon their professional pages.  I mean really, c'mon.  Would you go to their work and say, "Oh my god, you fucking suck!"?  Really?  Well, perhaps you would.  I like to think that I might have a bit more tact than that. Second, why do you feel the need to post anything negative about your family member in such a public manner?  If 'you have a family member with whom you have a issue, please just keep your shit between you.  Really, the rest of us don't need nor want to see it plastered on Facebook. It's just tacky.

So, going back to that complaining in a public forum thing I mentioned earlier.  If a person complains about how much another says in a public forum, it should be perfectly fair game to call them upon what they say in the same public forum.  I mean, turn around is fair play, right?  So I called this person upon their bullshit, yet I did it in a non-caustic way.  I simply reminded them that for someone who was so concerned with the information shared in this forum they might need to be more concerned with what they are showing about themselves.  You know.. the fact that they are showing they are the kind of sibling who has no problem being fucktastically rude and putting down their family in front of others. (Yes Gabe... fucktastic was for you.)  Now, was I wrong to call them on their crap?  I personally don't think so.  But I'm sure I'll hear otherwise from a few people. 

Well, like I said earlier... I lack the venom of the dread pirate, but at least I feel I have said my peace.  Oh, but I almost forgot the kicker.  This person, because they didn't like me calling them on their shit, UNFRIENDED me.  Oh that's funny.  It's like being seven and saying, "I don't want to be your friend because you won't let me win."  I mean really... grow the fuck up!

Thus ends my mini-rant. Thank you.

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Defining a feeling

To quote a 20 year old young man that I know, "I am in deep smit."  It is true. (Apparently that's my catch phrase.)

According to dictionary.com commitment is the following:
  1. a pledge or promise; obligation
  2. engagement; involvement
  3. an order, as by a court or judge, confining a person to a mental institution or hospital.
Webster's dictionary defines it as:
  1. The trait of sincere and steadfast fixity of purpose
  2. The act of binding yourself (intellectually or emotionally) to a course of action
  3. The act of pledging or engaging; the act of exposing, endangering, or compromising; also, the state of being pledged or engaged
Words. Definitions. As my friend Gabriel has eloquently (*snicker*) put it, words only have the meanings that we give them.  Thus if I believe that being committed is something that implies an obligation, then if am committed to someone or something then I must be obliged to it. Yet that implies an enforced reciprocity for some previous action.  I don't do well with being forced to do anything.  Thankfully, that is not my view of being committed.  I do like the third definition from Webster.  "The act of exposing, endangering, or compromising."  It has a hazardous sound to it. But if you think carefully, it is really talking about risk.  Exposing your heart, endangering your feelings, and compromising your own individual self in the attempt to find someone who you can pledge to be with.  

I guess I feel all commitment comes with some form of risk.  But, I also feel that it is the risk that makes the committing worth it.  So, I find myself looking across the table (with a steadfast gaze) and I bind myself to what I see... taking a risk, pledging the next ten minutes at a time, knowing that I have all the time in the world to ask for more.

It's not junk mail

Dear reader,

   Hi. My name is John. I've been around for a while. As a matter of fact you see me in so many places. I've seen you in the grocery store, the library, on the street. Sometimes I'll see you at baseball games or just standing in line outside your favorite little Mexican food snack truck. It's funny because I feel as if I have been taken for granted for so long. And there are times that I have kept you entertained while reading the newspaper. But then again, I'm sure there are times that I have also pissed you off too. Remember that last time you were on the freeway and that guy in the sports car zipped by you just a little too fast and then cut in front of you? Yeah, that was me. I'm pretty sure I gave you the bird too when you honked your horn. (You should have heard the words I chose to yell, too.) Oh, and that person at the convenience store who pays for everything in change? You guessed it... me.

   Yeah I'm pretty much everywhere these days and no matter how hard you try it is very difficult to keep from interacting with me. There are times when I will agree with everything you say. We will have the best conversations and get along fabulously, almost as if we have known each other for years. But then there will be days when I am a perfect stranger who feels that every word that comes out of your mouth is the most ridiculous thing I have ever heard. On those days we will probably argue or at least just storm off in different directions thinking that the other is the biggest damn idiot in the world. Meh. That's life.

   I'll be honest with you here. On the whole I don't much care about you. It's not that I dislike you, I just don't really care one way or the other. To me, you are just another person in the world whom I interact with periodically. You are the random person in the adult bookstore, the checkout clerk at the pharmacy, or the bicyclist who I am sometimes tempted to swerve and hit because you are riding in the middle of the lane instead of staying on the side where the little pictures of the bicycles are painted. I really don't want to hear your opinions on life, the universe, and everything else that goes on in your brain. If I ask you directly, please feel free to tell me. And if you ask me, I'll do the same. However please don't be offended by what I might say, as it is my opinion. I don't ask to be berated because my opinion differs from yours. And I cannot promise I will be very friendly if I am attacked for thinking the way I do. Our views on religion will probably be different (as no two people will ever interpret life the same way). I'll let you have yours if you do the same. However, watch out if you choose not to. The funny thing is, we probably do have a lot in common. We all essentially come from the same place. We are all residents of this spinning blue and green orb in space. We are are born naked and without directed thought of our own, and we all tend to learn our basic views and ways of functioning from the ones who came before us.

   So, I'll see you on the street, in the store, or perhaps at work. You live your life. I'll live mine. Keep in simple. Be honest. Be tolerant. We're all stuck together here so perhaps we should learn that nobody is the exact same as us. And if you can't... well, be really careful the next time you are riding that bike of yours.


John Q. Public

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

The things you learn...

So earlier today I was reading an article about the development of new iris scanning technology. This new tech is able to scan the human iris within one second and is able to accurately identify any iris stored within a database.  This acts much like fingerprint identification, yet is more accurate and apparently is now becoming easier to do.  There is already a scanner in place that can scan up to 50 people in one minute, and this is all while the people are in motion.  That means you could have multiple lines of individuals lined up and passing this overhead scanner and it would be able to recognize each individual iris.

Ok, creeped out by this yet?  Now it seems the company which has improved this technology is installing it all throughout a city in Mexico (one with a population of one million plus).  Any convicted felon will automatically have their irises scanned and put into the cities database and anyone else may volunteer to join the database as well.  Then, whenever people do such things as use the ATM or go to the bank, get gas, or use any public service they will have their irises scanned and they can be tracked.

Do I hear Orwell having a bit of a laugh somewhere?

I admit this is a bit to much like Big Brother for me at times, but then I have to think about it.  What could the positive repercussions of this be?  People who have a criminal history might be delayed entry into a store until security was warned of a potential threat.  If someone goes missing it would be possible to track their last known location by simply pulling up the data.  Perhaps you run a highly secured company, iris recognition scanners could help protect your company by give access to only those who need to be in the secured facility.  It is not as if you could go out and just whip up a batch of counterfeit eyeballs to get you into the location.  And then what about controlled substances like tobacco or alcohol.  There would be no more issue of carding someone. (Excuse me sir, just look at this scanner and then we can get you your strawberry daiquiri with a splash of coconut rum. Don't worry, we won't mock you until we are around the corner.)

I guess the technology could be used for good or bad (much like superpowers, but without the spandex).  It truly depends on how you view it.  An entire city that is linked and the populace is within the database has the potential to eliminate, reduce, or at least severely limit the number of crimes that could be committed.  If the overseeing database has complete knowledge of your whereabouts I would assume that premeditated crimes would be far more difficult to carry out.  If your entry in the database included medical information about you, then if you were ever injured and went to the hospital there would be no time wasting searching for medical history.  It would all be there displayed for the doctors as soon as you entered the building.  On the flip side, you might get piles and piles of extremely targeted spam and junk mail based solely on your spending habits and the places that you frequent. These too could be recorded by the system

On the whole I don't really have a set opinion yet.  I am fascinated by the tech and its potential uses, but I am not so thrilled about having a computer store in its database that on Sunday at 5:34 pm I was at the corner of Market and 75th and rubbed my nose in such a way that it looked like I was picking it and flicking it at cars of drivers who pissed me off.  For now I'll just wait and see how it goes in Mexico.

Until then I'll just be sitting here pointing at my brain and wondering where the tissue went.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

A change of plans...

   I was going to spend tonight complaining about the fact that most drivers in the city of Tacoma have quite obviously gotten their drivers' licences out of a Cracker Jack box, and a discount bootleg box from South Durka Durkastan at that.  I was going to complain about how within the period of four days I have had three drivers in a double-laned turn lane cross out of their obviously marked lane and instead pull into mine directly ahead of me thereby forcing me to apply my foot to my brakes (and, consequently, wish to apply my foot to their heads). Oh, and then there were the two people who sped through glaringly obvious read lights as it would be such an inconvenience to them to have to perhaps follow the rules of the road.  Afterwards, I was going to rant a bit about the fact that I think there should be a drivers licence renewal test that is mandatory every five years so that the morons who get into their over-sized, gas-guzzling, testosterone compensation vehicles would at least have a shred of knowledge about what it is they are supposed to do behind the wheel of said monstrosity.
   But I've decided against it. That would be silly.  Truly, what would be the point?  I fear I would simply be wasting my breath, howling against the wind.  I mean, are any of the imbeciles that I am talking about actually going to read this? (no) If they did, would it force them to realize that they are putting peoples' lives at risk every time they forget that it is illegal to make a lane change in the middle of an intersection, especially when turning? (no) Will it truly grant me peace and be a fair replacement of the feeling of wanting to insert my size twelve Ariat boots through their ear canals of that I can feel the heels rattling around in the quite obviously empty space? (sadly, no)  I will do none of that.  I will continue (in my head) to imagine myself disintegrating the vehicles and the drivers within with laser beams from my eyes, thereby removing said idiot genes from the breeding pool of the population however. But I won't gripe about the drivers. Nope. Not at all.
   Instead, I've decided to tell you that I like cheese.  I do.  It is fabulous. Anyone got a problem with that?

Monday, August 16, 2010

Almost home

  Somewhere just over his left shoulder he could sense it.  Not that he could see it, because how can you see a feeling?  But that is where it was.  Just there.  Back, behind, and to the left.  The feeling that he just didn't belong.
  It had been there all along.  Really, for as long as he could remember.  It was as if something was always there reminding him that no matter what people said or how hard he tried he just wasn't supposed to be there.  How long ago had he noticed it? Maybe he was six or seven. It was in grade school anyhow. Even then he was aware of it, though it was years later that he truly understood what it was.
  Perhaps it was because of the adoption.  That could be it.  At birth he was given up for adoption by a twenty-two year old woman who had already bore two children before him.  The first two she kept.  This one however she did not.  Perhaps that was it.  He knew it could not have been easy for her, to spend nine months of her life with this human growing inside of her knowing that as soon as it forced its way out it would be taken away and she would not see it again.  But still, she did it.  She gave him away.  He didn't think he had any sort of anger at this woman he did not know, but it is hard to be sure.
   And his family.  They took him in at the age of one month.  Adopted him, as they were unable to have any more children after their first.  They gave him a home, a sister, a life.  When he was old enough to understand, they let him know he was adopted.  That his mother had been unable to take care of him and that they chose him as their son.  It was well done.  He always knew and there was no guilt felt about it.  He had been chosen.  That was good that made him special.  That made him different from all the rest.  That made him... different. 
   Different doesn't belong.  It's not the norm.  Perhaps that had been chasing him all these years.  But it wasn't just that.  There were too many other things.  Living in rural Oregon in a town of only fourteen thousand that had its own college, he was the son of a professor.  The child of an educated couple who had views on life far different from those of the average person within the town.  All of his friends would have been described as children of the blue collar worker.  He was not.  They had farms and cows and chores that involved shoveling stalls.  He had to trim the laurel hedge and study.  He didn't exactly blend in.
  Maybe that was it too.  Not a jock.  Not a hick.  Just a normal guy who had learned that girls could be more than just a piece of meat that you could take down to the creek and fuck before driving them home. 
  And then there was college.  Almost normal there.  Nobody really fit in at college, not at first.  Everyone was feebly flapping their arms in a vague hope to fly as they struggled against this sudden onslaught of independence.  At that point in time he didn't feel it.  He could ignore the urge to look back to the left.  But of course people settle into college, they find their purpose in college, they find their soul mates in college.  He did not ever manage any of those. 
   He did find things he liked to do.  And he did find a wife, for a while.  But that was not right, it wasn't meant to be.  Perhaps starting the marriage with the thought, "Should I really be doing this?" would have been a clear message to not continue on that trail, but he had become so used to just plugging ahead despite that nagging feeling that he did just that.  Five years, gone. Wasted. 
   Will he ever figure out what it is?  Will it always be there just beyond his peripheral vision? Possibly.  He doesn't know.  But it seems to be lesser now. A mere faint echo of what it once was.  In the past year he has found something that feels more like home than anything ever has.  When she is in his arms there is no doubt.  But still there is that urge.  There.  Just to the side. 

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Blech. Blech. (and) Blech.

When you are two and you get sick you scream and cry and pretty much let everyone know how you are feeling. Snotbubbles fill the air and you demand the attention you need.

When you are four and you get sick it is fairly similar, except instead of just crying and screaming you also yell about how you are feeling. There is the vacant stare you adopt when you really just cant focus on anything and your brain has turned to mush. Still, you demand the attention you need.

When you are an adult and you get sick people expect you to lock yourself away and not see anyone else. You have to suck it up and deal.

I don't feel like being an adult today. I'm just saying. Blech.

Friday, August 13, 2010

A shameless plug...

I have no rant today. I cannot compete with Pirate Gabe! (http://hoistingmyblackflag.blogspot.com/)

Though loved I will not be cuter than puppies or sweeter than cupcakes about Samantha. (http://mommytheactress.blogspot.com/)

I don't even have true food habit goals in mind. (http://www.theoneyearvegan.com/)

No. I am only here to shamelessly plug a restaurant tonight. Silk Thai Cafe in Tacoma.

As it turns out the accident Samantha and I witnessed this past week involved the son of the owner of the Silk Thai Cafe. He was lucky enough to escape with only a broken ankle. At the scene people were calling the police and insurance company, but only Samantha thought to call the boy's mother.  

In response to Samantha's kindness, we were treated to a meal in return. And I will tell you that of the multitudes of Thai restaurants I have tried around the Greater Tacoma Area this place takes top honors all around.  I'm not going to gush about too much. That would just be silly.  I will say that despite sitting in a little nondescript strip mall near Papa John's Pizza, you forget entirely where you are as soon as you enter. The decor is beautiful and it sets you in the mood for the food immediately.  Ok, I lied earlier, I will gush about a few things.

First off, being on the first two weeks of the South Beach diet I was very concerned about what we would even consider eating. However, we found two absolutely amazing salads that fit what we were looking for: the beef salad (yes cow and tasty greens) and the seafood salad (mussels, prawns, squid, and scallops again on tasty greens).

These had the most amazing sauces and spices that made them so much better than one could make at home. Fresh mint and tamarind on the beef salad were amazing and the lime and chili dressing of the seafood salad, though very powerful, have made an instant customer out of me.

One of my favorite things is that the food does not seem to be Americanized. It is not overly sweet and saucy, but rather it relies of the natural herbs and the spices of the cooking. Truly, it is amazing. I'm really not going to say too much else on this restaurant except that if you really know me then you know of my love of food. And you will also know that I will not often go out for food if it is something that is mediocre or something I can make myself. The food here was neither.

So, foodies, go here. Eat. Enjoy. Say hello to Suki. You will most likely see Samantha and I here frequently.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Just below...

I've been accused of being shallow before. I've been called insincere. It has been said that I fail to look beyond just what lays upon the outside. All of these have been true at one point in time or another in my life, but undoubtedly nobody is capable of saying they truly have never been. The problem is as a collective whole it is very easy to simply live on just what lays on the surface of people. We have become accustomed to giving the world a mask or a veneer that we think is either expected or accepted. This thin coating of the diluted form of us is predominantly what people see.  Perhaps it is because they choose not to look deeper, or maybe it is because we don't let them see any farther.

Am I a deep person? Perhaps. I have been accused of writing "bricks" at times, as my thinking tends to get a bit heavy. I prefer to think of it as being more introspective. I like to give things what they are due, which most of the time is simply time in which to fully understand them.

But depth is not just in a person, but can also be in relationships. I have been in committed relationships for years at a time and have thought of them as being "good" relationships. However, as of lately I have discovered that they were actually very simplistic things, not worthy of permanence. This is not to say that the feelings within them were not valid, but rather that it was not the stuff that solid foundations could ever truly be made of.

And yet today driving down the street I felt the need to say, "I love you" to the amazing woman sitting next to me. At the moment I wasn't thinking purposefully of anything except that we were headed home and I loved the feeling of her hand within mine. There was the subtle curve of her fingers in towards her palm as mine rested over her own. The skin on the back of her hand was dry and warm. She was talking to me, and though I was listening I can no longer recall what the subject was about. At that moment however, how I feel for Samantha became very clear. It was as if all things past were paper thin and my feelings for her suddenly swelled up, took the width of the road before me and rose above the trees. It was a very tangible embodiment of what I find in my heart for her.

It was solid.
It was real.
It was permanent.

There was no question as to what it was. As to what it is.

I never really thought of myself as a "surface" type person before, but I guess I was. Yet now I find myself going deeper, looking below, and being amazed by what I see.

Watch out Boy Wonder!

Have you ever been asked, "If you were a superhero what would your power be?"  Of course you have. Heck, you might even have asked that question yourself. What did you answer? Invulnerability? Flight? Invisibility? Maybe even, gasp, all three?

There is something truly amazing about the concept of a superhero. It's something... well... super. They are the dreams and prayers of our inner child. They can represent what it is we feel we missed from others in our lives, or give us aspirations of who we should strive to become as we grow. To do these amazing things with powers far beyond that of the mortal man is something that we can only fantasize about. And despite the truly impossible odds of ever becoming one we still do it.

But what would the cost of actually being a superhero be?

Well, first there is the requisite secret identity. Who would you be? Would you remain who you are today, or would you start out new? What would you do for a job? I mean, it's not exactly as if superheroes have a steady paycheck coming in. (Unless you are more of a hero-for-hire, which really isn't very super.) And then, now that you have your secret identities job, how do you keep it? I would assume that it is fairly difficult to maintain the image of "street-wise sandwich maker" at your local sub shop if you keep running off in the middle of slicing the pastrami to save a family from falling off a cliff when the accelerator of their Prius gets stuck under the floor mats causing them to careen off the road in the only section that doesn't have a barrier and then just narrowly miss the only tree that might have saved their lives before plummeting to their deaths. I mean, that meat is not going to slice itself. Plus think of all the overtime you are going to have to put in to afford all the cool gadgets and toys that you will need in order to properly stock your super-lair.

Now, let's say your super alter-ego has chosen the ability of flight as his power. Do you have to register your flight paths, or are you just allowed to flap around all willy-nilly causing havoc with the rest of the planes that have gone through all the proper channels to get their clearance. And then what about all the registration numbers? I mean, how are you going to look in your snazzy spandex suit with LDG238248475AB on each side of the legs in black block letters to make you easily identifiable to all other aircraft in the region? Truly, it would be a fashion faux pas of extreme measures.

And what about your super-villain arch nemesis? I mean, how many of those do we have laying around? Granted there is a short list of certain individuals whom most people would have no issue if they were suddenly captured and brought to justice, or perhaps even just never heard of again, but really what sort of enemy will you really find? There will be no Lex Luthor for you, no Joker, no uber-meanie here>. Simply run of the mill people with no ability to withstand your amazing powers. Boring.

No, there will be no super heroism in my future. I have opted instead to aspire to sidekick. Really they have it made. They get to see a fair amount of action, yet their fantasmariffic buddy is always there to do most of the heavy work. They frequently have some form of power of their own, though it pales in comparison to the true hero. But honestly, compared to the rest of the world, they are still far from normal. And think of every sidekick that you can. Okay, done that? Good. Now go through them and ask yourself, "How many of them were fat and old?" None? Well, I can think of one, but Arthur started out late in life and you truly can't blame him for being a bit dumpy after all those years as an accountant. But I digress.... fat and old? Bah! Sidekicks seem to be eternally young and in prime physical shape. It is as if they gain the additional super power of eternal youth and the ability to look good in lycra and a short cape. (Never a full one. Too messy.)

So, that's it, there's no debate. When I grow up I've got it all planned out. There will be no capital S emblazoned on my chest. No giant red lightning bolt. No indecipherable symbol that is as cryptic as one drawn a silly little man who once went by some royal name. No no. It's the life of "goodof'  pal" or "mighty chum" for me. Now, could someone please direct me to the nearest superhero please? (Oh, and I'll need a reference. Anyone?)

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

The meaning of it all.

   It's funny... in the English language we have singular words that have multiple meanings. One word yet sometimes eight or nine things it may be referring to. You simply have to either memorize every single definition or be able to determine what the word means strictly from the context it in which it has been used. For some words this is fine. They are used so frequently and their separate definitions are so disparate that we have no problems discerning the meaning intended.  However, there are others where you pretty much find yourself saying, "What the fuck?" and then twisting your brain around the words you see until you can make some sort of sense of it all.

   I have found as of late that I feel some concepts need more words, or perhaps more directed words to let us know what we are talking about.  In truth, it is one word that I have found needs improving. Disappointment.

   It's a word that I have come to know fairly well over the past few days. However, each time I have felt this emotion it has had a very distinct purpose and direction to where it comes from. In each case I can simply say I felt disappointment, but I would love to have a more intentional word for each one.

   Let me give my three examples and perhaps, if people can enlighten me on a more appropriate word, there can be a lively discussion at the end of this blog followed by drinks and a light dessert.

   1.  Disappointment at oneself:  Here we are, three weeks away from opening of our show and I find myself still struggling with the words to these songs that we have been working with for months now. My brain knows the words but it refuses to cooperate with my mouth when it comes time to expel them from my body with my lungs pumping and my hands flailing all dramatic-like in the air. I should know these words. It should be easy to spout them forth, but I continue to fail at producing them. I am disappointed.

   2.  Disappointment at a system:  Years ago back when the earth was still cooling I purchased my house with my ex-wife. It was easy. Make bid. Put money down. Make payments. Done. Now it is so much harder and I find that the system I oncek new has changed. Prior to the impressive crash of the previously hyper-inflated housing market, the selling price of my home was nearly one hundred thousand higher than it's current rate. Also, how equity was determined in your home was figured differently. Since that time things have changed, as I learned yesterday morning. With the devaluation of my home in both potential sale price and in assessed taxable value, along with the change in equity determination (and after owning my home for more than 13 years) I now have a whopping three thousand dollars of equity in my home. Wow. Really? I am disappointed.

   3. Disappointment with another person:  Without going too much into detail out of kindness to said person, there is someone who very recently I took into my life and allowed to give themself a chance to reset and get their feet under them.  I became cheerleader and defender of this person so that they might feel that someone is truly on their side, for that is exactly what I was. However, despite this the person choose to forgo the help offered and ignore the promises made during the time they stayed here, putting Samantha and I in a position where we now have to scramble to make plans that were previously made work. I feel as if all my intentions and attentions were thrown aside as is they were merely paper in the wind. Easily blown away and of no consequence. Truly, I am disappointed.

   This word has honestly struck me, as it is a feeling with which I am normally not familiar. It is not that everything always works out perfectly in my little sunshiny world, but rather I can normally brush off things that I cannot affect. If I can have no direct effect on something, then I try not to worry about it.  However, in this case one thing is something that is truly in my control, one is something that I though I had in control, and one is something that I wish I could control. And because of all that I find myself disappointed about being in this situation.

   See? Now there's a fourth one. Disappointment about a situation. 

   So, all that I am asking for is a little more clarity. Can I truly feel the same feeling on all four types? What could I call each thing? Why can't our language make more sense? Why do I have to find myself so disappointed that I can't use a definitive word. Damn! There's a fifth one.

Saturday, August 7, 2010

"What's in a name?" or "Why the heck did they call it that?"

  I chose the name of my blog due to a definition that I read repeatedly about my own name.

  Bruce - 
     origin: Celtic
     meaning: watcher in the thicket

  When I first read this (at the the age of around 11) I had to ask what a thicket was, and then I had to ask why I would be standing in it. It didn't make much sense to me then, but as the years went on and I learned more about myself I found that it was fairly appropriate. I have spent most of my life in love with the outdoors. I don't have to be in it all the time, but I am truly at home there. I also like to just sit and watch nature while I am in it. Granted, I don't jump into the nearest patch of bramble and stare at things. That leads to strange looks from anyone else I'm with and various scratches in places where no thorns should ever be. No, I just like to observe the world around me, and not always in the woods. I'm perfectly happy sitting on a park bench, at a mall, or in a restaurant and watching the movement of life around me. It's like I'm seeing a story unfold around me.
  Now, I know that many people have viewed the definition of my name in a slightly different light. In an slightly more voyeuristic way. Watcher in the thicket.
  "So, you like to stand in the bushes and watch people? That's kind of creepy." Not exactly how I think about it, but I can see why they ask.
  Why am I writing about this? Because words are interesting. They are like people in some ways. They change and evolve over time. I was reading earlier today about the word "coffee", a subject dear to me. Traced back in time coffee can be followed back through four different languages to a phrase that means "wine of the bean". Over time this phrase (which I will not even attempt to type) evolved to "coffee", a word so far from the original that it is difficult to even see it as being related.
  There are so many words that we as Americans simply ignore, or don't appreciate. It is as if the language that we use is becoming devalued. Perhaps it's just the standard American view of history. As a country we have such a short one in comparison to other countries, so instead of looking back we are constantly looking forward. It saddens me that we are losing the history of our language.
  Ever wear pajamas? You know, those things we pass off as bedtime clothing? Pai Jamas were loose trousers that tied around the waist worn by Indian Muslims over 200 years ago. What is that stuff you put on your hamburgers? Ketchup? It was originally a fish sauce known as "brine of fish" or "kichap" from Malay back in the 1700's. British versions of it later included other various items ranging from nuts to oysters. You can thank the US military for making it into what later became your favorite condiment. What about tattoos? Originally "tap to", the phrase was called out to signal soldiers and sailors to quarters over three centuries ago. It referred to the sound their feet should be making on their way to quarters. This later translated to the rhythmic tapping of something to form a beat. Which then later paired with the Polynesian word Tatau that described the markings of skin through the piercing of the skin. Should it not be interesting then that the tattoo of the needle is necessary to make the tattoo on the arm?

   Words have meaning and power, but they also have history. Does this mean that I am destined to be a voyeur or a peeping tom as my name seems to suggest? No if I can help it, but I can at least be entertained by the idea. I just want to find the meanings of the words we say. It keeps my mind busy, and it helps keep a little more history alive within me.