Sunday, December 5, 2010

Apple, Tree

Thinking about all I’ve blogged about, I seem to discuss fears quite a bit. I think that may be because fear comes into play in so many different aspects of life. Or because fear is a struggle that requires exploration to overcome. Or because I feel that fear is a powerful equalizer. So, a fear . . .

There is one universal fear that is so powerful and so terrifying that the fullness of this fright cannot be explained by mere words. That fear is a revelation that most everyone experiences at least once in their lives. It goes like this . . .

“Oh. My. GOD. I am just like my mother. How the *!?%&*! did that happen?”

Pure terror ensues from that singular thought.

It’s not that we don’t love our mothers. It’s not even that we don’t like our mothers – we do, most of the time. It’s just that we know our mothers, very, very, well. We’ve lived with them for a large portion of our lives. We’ve seen all of their weaknesses that they failed to hide. We’ve seen their meltdowns and outbursts at their very worst. We’re intimately aware of their struggles and their tendency to take them out on those closest to them. We know, too, that they themselves want more for us than their own mistakes.

And most importantly, in our childhood innocence, we saw all those things that adults don’t think children see or understand. And in our adolescence, we turned that childlike sense of knowledge into a “know-it-all” attitude and vowed NEVER to be like our blessed mothers. And though, in adulthood, we’ve learned to appreciate all that our mothers are, the sentiment of adolescence is deeply rooted in our minds.

So, several weeks ago, when this realization struck me, I was shocked and appalled. I was simply looking over my calendar trying to fit everything in, when I realized that I was very busy. And you know what, I like that. I really like being so busy that I barely have time to think about all I have to do.

“Holy Crap! I am just like my MOTHER. How the hell did that happen?”

And what in the world am I supposed to do about it? I’m pretty sure there is nothing to do about it. Maybe I can develop my mother’s positive attitude towards life and somehow see this as a good thing. But, this is something I don’t get from my mom.

Acceptance. Apple, you lie just beneath the tree that bore you. And when you go to seed, and grow, you will resemble that tree with maybe a couple of distinct qualities. But the end product will be the same, surely. Deal with it. But, man, it really is scary.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Scary thrills

I don’t listen to the radio often, mainly because my car radio rarely picks up any stations outside of major city limits. Basically I can’t pick up any Atlanta stations beyond exit 104 on I-85. As a result, I only listen to the radio twice a week, when I go to class. But, really that’s enough. Not only do I feel that I am sufficiently exposed to all five songs that they currently play on pop radio, I also have the seasonal commercials memorized.

There is one ad in particular that catches my attention. It’s for this major haunted house that is apparently ranked among the best haunted houses in the nation. (Whose job is it to rank haunted houses in America?) Now, I’m not into haunted houses, or horror movies, or ghost stories. They just don’t appeal to me. But, this commercial is intriguing – a GPS voice is giving you directions and then it says, “You have arrived at the point of no return.” Huh? And then a devilish voice repeats the phrase.

“The point of no return” – why is that so frightening? It actually sounds kind of exciting. But then, fear and excitement are interrelated, aren’t they. A friend recently told me that “fear is the worst of all emotions.” And yet, people seek it out constantly! The entire Halloween industry hinges on the fact that people want to be scared. Amusement parks play with our tendency toward acrophobia, claustrophobia, and nyctophobia as if they were dolls and Legos…for “amusement!”

Aren’t we supposed to avoid fear? Isn’t that why it exists – to alert us to danger? To initiate the fight-or-flight mechanism? Ah ha! It’s all about adrenaline, yes?

Yes. So, we’re all rushed up – and then what? And then, well, nothing. Because this manufactured fear has that bit of security to it. It’s all fake. Some engineer somewhere made sure that machine is safe, right? Most of the time anyway, otherwise someone is getting a lawsuit.

Ok then, our inclination for fear is balanced by our faith in someone else – someone out there has our backs. It’s actually about trust and support, huh? Even if we can’t see them or don’t know them, they are out there, so going into this dark, scary place is ok. “At the point of no return,” ok, I’m not looking back – onward! Somebody better make sure this is all going to work out. Hold my hand! Push me along. Tell me it’s going to be alright, that we’ll make it to the other end. Ok, good, we’re fine, see? (Relief)

“At the point of no return,” for my car radio that’s exit 104! Oh well. I go on.

Happy Halloween!

Saturday, September 4, 2010


I don’t talk much. When you ask me how I am, you can expect to hear “fine.” When you ask me what’s going on, you can expect to hear “nothing.” I’ve always been this way, even as a child. I was always a quiet kid. And when my mom would ask how my day was, it was always fine. When she asked what I did at school, my first response was always nothing. This would entice my mother to say, “Now come on, you did nothing all day? You learned nothing? What am I sending you to school for….” Blah, blah. And so I would match it with meticulous, hour-by-hour details of what my day was – from dressing for school to getting off the bus, minute details.

The only other time I ever spoke so much as a child was when I was retelling my dreams. This is the only time I would ever relate painstaking details without prodding – ask my brother and sister, it was painstaking. Any time I would ever begin a sentence with, “I had this dream last night,” they would run. Even Mom would only last for the first half hour. I would remember every detail of the good dreams. These were the only things as a child that I would talk about without fail.

I’m a dreamer. Can I stop that? Should I? I feel as if the reality of life is often like the audience of my family as I recall my dreams. It is easily bored with my fanciful ideas and imagery, my farfetched desires and wishes. It rolls its eyes at my endeavors to fulfill my dreams, and often blatantly asks me to shut up already. And to be honest, the lack of a friendly audience is frequently frustrating and disappointing – I have so much to say, won’t you just please listen!

But then other times, as I did as a child, I am able to continue my monologue – raising my voice to ensure that my babbling siblings and busy mother could still hear me though they have moved on to other activities, leaving me shouting on the bed about the caves I ventured the night before. But as a child I would go on quietly to school to follow rules and soak in some knowledge; now I feel more action is necessary. Life is a tough audience, but I’m pretty sure my dreams will one day, eventually with time and effort, be captivating enough.

All men dream: but not equally. Those who dream by night in the dusty recesses of their minds wake in the day to find that it was vanity: but the dreamers of the day are the dangerous men, for they may act their dreams with open eyes, to make it possible. This I did. - T. E. Lawrence

Monday, August 16, 2010


Louisiana – you half expect to roll down the windows as you cross the state line to smell hot sauce and crawfish, to breathe in the humidity that instantly fills your soul to the brim. But don’t miss that “America’s Wetlands” sign just beneath the “Bienvenue en Louisiane.” It smells like the wetlands, at least at the Mississippi state line it does. And on this particular day, that humidity turned into a heavy rain in, quite literally, a hot second. It’s not until you cross the bridge into New Orleans that you can smell the fried goodness of a shrimp po’boy and the spiciness of the Cajun cuisine – ok, maybe I only imagine the glorious smell of the city in my food-obsessed mind, but you could very easily smell those things as you walk in the streets.

New Orleans. Probably when people think of New Orleans they think Mardi Gras, music, food and hurricanes and oil spills. And that seems appropriate. But the depth of New Orleans is beyond the typical images, in fact “typical” seems to be outlawed in New Orleans. When asked about the Indians I’d heard about, my New Orleans native friend Claire pointed out that unfortunately she didn’t know much about them because it’s not unusual to see costumed people around the city, so she never questioned it.

Point in case, the Red Dress Run was held this weekend. Thousands of people, men and women, dressed (mostly scantily) in red outfits – the majority of which couldn’t really be classified as dresses, closer to lingerie – roaming around to participate in a “race” for charity. Which charity? Well, no one really knew. And when we looked it up we found that it benefits no particular charity, but instead donates to various organizations. My non-New Orleans mind says, “Wait, what? Really?” But in my New Orleans state of mind there is no doubt that this dress-up and drink run should contribute to whomever, no questions asked. The Big Easy. A festival or celebration for whatever reason, whenever, beyond Mardi Gras.

And of course there is music. You can’t walk outside without hearing music, good music. Now, I’m no music aficionado, far from it, but I’m pretty sure there is more quality music represented in a New Orleans block than in most places in the world. And it creates, through its diversity, rhythm, and people, the palpable heartbeat of the city. The people of New Orleans seem to connect through it, strengthened by the camaraderie of enduring disaster.

New Orleans can easily be categorized among the great cities of the world, but it is especially unlike any other great city there is. New York is a place to be lost, to try to find yourself. Paris is a place to be alone, to try to find love. New Orleans, though, is a place to belong, to be. So, yes, heart NY, aime Paris, but NOLA, love NOLA. NOLA is love, with a side of soul..and grits.

Sunday, August 8, 2010


When I think about life, I feel like childhood was merely a blip. Adolescence, probably because of its proximity, seems lengthier. (Adolescence, they say, is from 12-21 for females and 14-25 for males, fyi.) But adulthood, already, seems to move like a new sea turtle into the ocean – a slow and amazing and risky! journey into a vast unknown, in the dark – oy! And then what happens??

When people I haven’t talked to in a while ask what I’ve been up to, my common response is, “Oh, you know, figuring out life.” But the truth that I am discovering, moment by moment, is that no one ever figures life out – life with its constant surprises and disasters and sameness always has the upper hand. I’ve spent some time observing people older than me lately – parents of young adults, retirees, the elderly. I’ve found that, yes, on the surface, some stereotypical milestones are met, some wisdom is gained, some new struggles are faced, but largely there are similar events and issues that pervade their lives, as mine. Loss or gain or want of love, embarking on new prospects, self-discovery or consciousness saturate each day.

Once parenting is complete, life and what to do about it becomes the constant theme, as it is in one’s twenties. Once a career is finished, leisure and/or a new career are the to-do, as they are in one’s twenties. Once age sets in, daily exercises, living on a budget, and cherishing time with loved ones become life’s focus, as they are in one’s twenties. Hmm, so what is life about again?? Is there progress?

Do we learn how to handle life’s struggles better – mid-life and post-mid-life crises are strikingly comparable to the acts of stupidity and roaming-ness of youth. Do we gain wisdom, really – I spent time with an older woman recently who in one breath shared stories of life that should bring wisdom, and in another bore ignorance with greatness of stubbornness. Do we learn to love better – are second and third marriages more successful than firsts, do we ever learn to hold our tongues and our anger as we should, do we ever realize the importance of loved ones in our lives?

So what is life about? Obviously, there is no answer to this. At least not one that fits everyone, but I think that life produces its own purpose, for moments at a time. Life takes us where it will, many times despite our own wills. And what we do with it, how we react to it, is what strengthens our character and keeps us going. I can only say this about my own life, I hope never to say that at least I didn’t try. If life is going to tease me with opportunities, ok, I will say yes. I suppose this means that when opportunity is taken away or turns out poorly, I will have to cope with those results and, gulp, feelings – but again with that whole character building thing.

Questions and people and events, mistakes and decisions and enlightenment radiate, reverberate, recycle. And somehow the combination makes us belong in this wide world. Experience. Life.

“But as years went on he became either less self-conscious or more self-satisfied. The world, he found, made a niche for him as it did for everyone.” – E.M. Forster

Friday, July 16, 2010

The Climb?

“Ain’t about how fast I get there/Ain’t about what’s waiting on the other siiiide..” Ok, wait. Last time you took a hike to the peak of some famous mountain or ascended innumerable stairs toward the top of a great building, didn’t you care about what was at the top? Did you not wish with panging legs that you were at that peak now, and not in two hours? Do you now truly remember “the moments” of the climb?

Miley Cyrus, a smattering of emo-y/pop singers, and about every fifth country song invite us to cast off our worries and struggles and just enjoy the voyage; forget about the destination and embrace the current situation even with its rocky façade and jagged-y thorns. Ok, there may be something to that - I feel that if it’s widely thematic there must be. Plus I tend toward similar convictions from time to time. But let’s not forget that life is hard and simply enjoying the ride can be tough. It’s about the climb, the ride, the journey, the getting there . . . the getting where?

I realize that there are sadistic people in this world who do enjoy hiking for the sake of hiking. These are close relatives to those who enjoy running for “the runner’s high,” which I firmly to believe to be a myth. But I would be willing to bet large sums of money that even avid hikers take lingering moments to absorb the beauty of the view at the top before turning to descend the apex. I can understand the satisfaction of overcoming a challenge, sure. But it is the reward, the beauty, that renders the satisfaction, not the challenge itself. Even within the climb, it is not putting one foot in front of the other lead-packed foot that delivers contentment; it is the surroundings, the company or the solitude, the knowledge that you will eventually see that view, which is beautiful.

And what of the ride? I love to drive, typically far and alone, but a good road trip is enjoyable to, this is undeniable. But ask anyone who has broken down, done the road trip with screaming children, or driven through Atlanta during rush hour, the drive is not the point and can be unbearable. Driving however can hold with it the opportunity to think, laugh, sing out loud, experience beauty. I love to drive, but somewhere in Albuquerque I developed the habit of sleeping as a passenger (and of trying not to as a driver), despite the sunset painted evenings and balloon dotted morning commutes.

And life, as it goes, is not a singular road trip to New York City or a one-time hike to the top of Arthur’s Seat. Life is a cross country journey, on foot. Even after you pass through the Appalachia and endure the dreary of the plains, the Rockies remain. And hell, as far as I know, once you reach the sandy beaches of the Pacific, you may have to turn in another direction . . . or swim. So life, life is less about the journey (because a journey may take you nowhere) and more about the view – the beauty, even if you have no clue where you are going.

“With the moonlight to guide you/feel the joy of being alive” - Morcheeba

Saturday, June 12, 2010


The sensation of having to urinate. I mean, when you REALLY have to pee. That has got to be one of the worst feelings in the world.

Peeing in a cup is one of my worst fears. Ok, maybe it’s not a fear, but I truly detest it. Confession: I have a shy bladder. I don’t like going to the bathroom when I know other people are around. It’s not crippling, I manage, but I had to acclimate myself to it over the years. The trick is to try not to think about it. (But please, if you are ever in the same public restroom as me, refrain from talking to me until I’m washing my hands.)

Anyway, she says in a quieted and shamed tone, producing a sample of urine on demand is a quest for the urinating-challenged – the pressure involved is overwhelming. So the last time I was asked to do so, I prepared myself. I made an early appointment. I did not head to the bathroom upon waking. I engulfed two large glasses of water and a jumbo thermos of tea in the fifteen minutes before I left for the lab where I was to produce the sample.

By the time I arrived, early, I was confident in my ability to achieve the task at hand. By the time my name was read and I was told that the lab where I actually made my appointment was down the hall on the left, I was confident that my bladder would explode leaving me dead immediately. (Why there are two separate medical labs on the same level in the same office building still baffles me.) By the time I signed the new log-in, explained my tardiness (“It happens all the time,” she said.), and sat down to wait yet again, I was dancing in my seat like a three year old with similar bladder issues. I really had to pee.

Crossing my legs, closing my eyes, trying not to think of it. If I went to the bathroom now, I certainly would fail to deliver. But it hurt to even tap my toes at this point. I HAD to go to the bathroom . . . was it possible to pee just a little bit to relieve this horrible, awful, no-good pain now shooting through my pelvis? Do I have enough control not to completely relieve myself? I have got to try.

I’m pretty sure that it is the absolute worst feeling in the world. Next time I’m feeling down or ill I’ll remind myself of that and see what my opinion is then. But, lessons learned. Know your limits when imbibing liquids. Peeing “just a little bit” is possible. When preparing, always account for wait time and the unexpected. And never, never prepare for elimination.

Sunday, May 30, 2010


Do you remember those Herbal essence commercials – the ones that shamelessly employ the almost-entendre that is “organic?” I don’t even know if they run those commercials anymore, but I was thinking of it in the shower the other day and realized, when I lather my hair I’m much more concentrated than that. I certainly don’t look like the women in the commercial. Mainly because I don’t look like the women in the commercial, but also, I certainly don’t make those facial expressions. My facial expression resembles something closer to the one made when screwing a light bulb into a fixture just out of reach, rather than one that is, well you know . . . shall we just say it’s not a John-Mayer-guitar-playing face.

And although I consider the scent of shampoo before I buy it, it’s for absolutely no aroma-therapeutic purpose – the squinty face I’m making usually prevents inhalation. I don’t know why I concentrate so hard; scrubbing isn’t that difficult. Despite my unusual attentiveness to scouring my scalp, however, I’m pretty sure that those commercials could be construed as false advertising. Shampoo is not that pleasing. To further hamper any pleasure there could be, there is a tiny wince of guilt if I linger in the shower a minute longer than necessary for fear of wasting water.

Simple pleasures, where have they gone? Personally, unless it involves chocolate, I’m typically not truly fulfilled anymore by the simple things. And honestly, even my chocolate standards have risen to the dark chocolate plane. What do we lose with the development of our palates?

I’m forever looking for an adventure, whether in considering my next big life decision or purchasing a Zahtar spice mixture at the farmer’s market and researching what in the world to do with it. Maybe there are too many options available to us that we take our lives for granted. Maybe we expect too much from ourselves, our experiences, our possibilities. Maybe our imaginations and egos and hopes are bloated more than a PMS craving for potato chips. Maybe we want too much of some indefinable unknown to allow ourselves to enjoy the leisure and privilege of a hot shower.

Or maybe I’m just weird. Maybe people do relax in the shower and breathe in the forest-y scents that transcend them to a most “organic” place. I don’t know, maybe. Maybe I can re-learn to be content in simplicity.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010


When was the last time you closed your eyes and imagined you could take flight? Do you remember the feeling that you were soaring through the sky, maybe with a cape or wings, but never on an airplane? As a child these moments were easy to find – a sunny day, a jump off the trampoline or diving board, that simple jump into make believe – and you were flying without even trying. Flight, feet far off the floor, wind whisking over your body, gravity non-existent.

As an adult, that feeling is hard to find. Actual flight is what takes you from one point to another. Procedure, lines, baggage, fees weigh you down. Your ideas of flight are encumbered by fears of what happens if something goes wrong – when you’re that far in the air, gravity is sure to set in at some point, what if you lose control? Safety tips are restated, you are protected by steel and people who know what they are doing at the wheel.

As an adult, there are few times that you can fly with your feet still on the ground. Only speed and remarkable experiences send you into flight. Maybe jumping off a cliff, or out of a plane, maybe, but the fear factor is there. Definitely driving down an empty highway on a semi-cold night with the windows down and a favorite soulful song in the speakers sends you into orbit. Standing on a sidewalk on a blustery British day, just standing, with the wind whirling between your legs so that at any moment you are sure that takeoff is near, and then you close your eyes. Flight.

These moments are rare, and easily missed. Close your eyes. Imagine. Believe. And maybe, maybe wings will sprout, for a short time at least. Maybe we spend too much of our waking hours with our eyes open and our minds focused. I am seeking to find flight again – breathtaking, unprotected, fearless flight.

Wednesday, March 31, 2010

A Dog's Life

Every now and then I look at my dogs and think, “Man, wouldn’t it be nice to be a dog?” I mean, to play and eat and sleep all day with no worries about the future or what you should do. Even if you do something wrong you’re too darn cute for anyone to be mad at you for too long.

Yes, maybe it’s silly to long for a dog’s life. What is their impact on the world? What is the extent of their emotions? Their experiences are in fact very limited. They have little options of what to do with their lives. They are at the absolute command of others – forced to entertain with monotonous tricks and being cute on demand. It’s not exactly enviable.

BUT, beyond that, if you belong to humans like my family, it really is a pretty good life. And we might even learn something from the way our pets live their lives. They pursue only the things that make them happy – food, a toy, or the most comfortable place to lie. They get excited by the most simple of joys. They forgive without thought; their loyalty is beyond compare. The sole purpose of their days is to love their people and to receive love in return, no questions asked.

Of these things, perhaps we could only try to achieve the last. Perhaps that would make our lives more meaningful.

Sunday, March 14, 2010

A few of my favorite things

Sex and the City, Season 4, Episode 1, first café scene. Everyone has favorite books and TV shows, movies and songs. I have favorite episodes, favorite scenes, favorite lines. I read the last sentence of any book before I begin it. I love particular glances shared between characters, the delivery of a line that induces a certain truth behind it, descriptions that emote. I have an obsession with moments that I’m pretty sure I’ve transferred into my real life. This is good, and bad.

I developed a love of everyday photography studying abroad in Britain, where every day was an exploration. Photography feeds my obsession; it allows me to stay in a moment long after it has passed. I’ve told people for years that I don’t like posed pictures, my favorites are the snapshots that capture personalities and emotions. Emotions that are fleeting.

“Carpe diem.” But what happens when that day, and the next, and the next are not to be seized. What happens when you have nothing left to do, nothing but wait. I’ve been told that I’m a free spirit, that I have nothing holding me back; I can do whatever I want. But in this moment, there is nothing to do. And for someone who is obsessed with moments, that’s like torture. I have to wait, be patient – aahh.

I get stuck in moments, and some linger longer than others. I string moments together to make up my existence. The experiences that are defining and memorable create a life. I cherish the moments that I encounter (they help to inspire my blogs), but it makes all the lapses between them dull and unbearable. I suppose patience is a good thing to learn. And resilience, if necessary, but I’m clinging to hope.

“This is your one opportunity to do something that no one has ever done before and that no one will copy throughout human existence. And if nothing else, you will be remembered as the one guy who ever did this. This one thing.” - Garden State

Wednesday, January 27, 2010


I am no nature buff, far from it. I know little about plants. I seldom camp (though I wish this wasn’t true); I probably couldn’t start a fire without a lighter and some accelerant. But I do appreciate nature; I sometimes crave the outdoors.

I want to hear the rustle of decomposing leaves uncompromised by concrete. I long to feel the mud slide underfoot, ever so threatening. To be lost in the woods, not in the “what am I going to eat, who’s going to eat me” kind of way, just to lose yourself in the sounds of the birds chirping without visibly seeing a living thing. The muddy river flanked by bare and dying trees is void of all beauty but for its movement – water flowing not from a fountain, but seemingly from nowhere, moving trees and land as it passes. This sandy bank I’m sure was brought by man to protect it, but still it’s nice to see, to feel the grit in your fingertips. The red dirt nearer the water seems to bleed from the earth.

The only signs of life are the footprints of rodents and deer mingled with birds’ nests and the wind. The only verdure apparent is the moss and the budding saplings, excepting the evergreens. The sunlight through the leave-less trees shines like an angel appearing in an old forgotten movie. The river rushes, the branches sway, the squish beneath, unhampered by anything. I sometimes crave the smell of nothing but dirt; no pine scented air freshener or vanilla aroma candle can compare.

I went for a long walk in the woods yesterday..I may have gotten a little carried away. I felt refreshed, until I stopped to get my computer and cell phone repaired on the way home.

Also, I would never dream of taking up running, think how much you would miss.

Wednesday, January 6, 2010


Every once in a while I leave the house without looking at myself in the mirror. At some point I’ll catch a glimpse of myself in something shiny. Have you ever looked at yourself and not recognized the person staring at you, not one bit? The eyes, once bright green, are faded with blue-black rims and covered with weighty spider webs that pull the lids down. The redness, too, from the lips is now a shady blush. The once sun-kissed cheeks and freckles now appear moon-slapped. And everything is deeper, more pronounced than I remember. This can’t be my face.

But I look again. What seems to have happened is that Tired has finally moved in. He’s visited before, usually just a stopover, after late nights or trauma. But this time he seems to have brought all his bags and is planning a long, if not, permanent stay. Tired lay his bags in the tight storage area under my eyes and has turned off the lights to conserve energy. The luggage is heavy, pulling the skin there further away from where it belongs.

Maybe it’s just leftover makeup that didn’t come off when I washed my face. But scrubbing doesn’t help, and it’s been two days since I wore mascara – two showers and washing my face should have rid that. No, it seems the darkness is tattooed under my lashes. Concealer helps. Smiling, though, seems to accentuate the baggage.

Maybe it’s part of growing up, this reinvention of your facial structure. Maybe there’s a reason adults learn to appreciate the bitterness of coffee; children don’t quite understand it yet, don’t need to taste the things they know, need the caffeine to keep them awake.

I suppose coffee, along with moisturizer and sleep, is the answer, but it seems that I should just wear makeup more often. Or maybe not recognizing yourself is ok. Maybe rediscovery can actually be invigorating. Maybe it’s invigorating enough to chase away Tired, show him he’s not welcome here for the moment.