Friday, August 26, 2005

Viva Las Vegas!

My soul-sister, Stephanie, has known me since kindergarten. Actually our mother's claim we met shortly before kindergarten and have been friends ever since. Although we had boyfriends at one point who almost tore us apart, our friendship has mostly been unwavering.

She lives in SLC, UT, and I'm here in the city of coffee and book stores, Portland, OR. Tomorrow we will meet each other in Las Vegas, which is an odd junction for each of us, since we both are relatively environmentally-oriented, lovers of the outdoors and all things genuine, travelors who generally prefer someplace like San Francisco or San Diego as a meeting place.

But Stephanie has a business meeting there next week, and we decided to meet, go see a show and generally whoop it up for a few days. I'm done with summer term, and have sighed the exhale of no deadlines for at least a month!

We called each other about half a dozen times today to see what the other had packed. We've strategized on where to meet at the airport. We've run outfits by each other, scheduled certain indulgent spa-type endeavors and giggled like teenagers on the phone. We're over (gulp) forty now, but interorly, it seems like we have never aged a day with each other. We're really most eager to sit beside each other and catch up on life without the interruptions of life to stop the momentum.

Friendship cannot be underestimated. Youth is a state of mind, and life--even upon reflection--is really the best of things.

I thought about being alive today, and the complexities of staying true to one's ethical core, while balancing the dark side of indulgences. Las Vegas is, in many ways, an abomination to me. When I'm there, it feels like a dark--but eerily pleasurable--dream. The overstatement, the waste, the complete hedonism is at once hellish and heady. I am interested to see what my feeling will be, since it has been over ten years since I've been there--and that visit was to go with a group of friends to a Grateful Dead concert (an entirely other post!).

So I'll be offline until at least Wednesday, enjoy the summer breeze, wherever you are!

Sunday, August 21, 2005

From the File Marked ...

People I love ...

We Are Nightingales

Because it’s simply inexcusable to call yourself a blogger and disappear for ten whole days, I offer my apologies and the collective excuse of procrastination of schoolwork, the crunch of family obligations, and the adoption of a new iPod mini which became my little darling while I spent nearly 3 days downloading songs from my eclectic CD collection, downloading some things from iTunes and finally importing it all with appropriate playlists etc. God those little buggers are a blast. Babies should get one at birth! I’m not normally one for stereophonic/earphone music, but having nearly every piece of music I adore at my fingertips is sublime. I’ve got the starter mini, but I’ve already got my eye on a bigger model engraved with some little bit of existential brilliance.

It occurred to me that if anyone found my iPod, they’d probably conclude that I’m schizophrenic. I’ve got stuff on there from Rage Against the Machine to Mazzy Starr to Portishead to Siouxsie and the Banshees to John Freakin’ Denver!!! I’m not going to lie to you, “Sunshine” (on my shoulders) still brings tears to my eyes, when I recall that movie about the mom who left tapes for her infant daughter to hear after she died of cancer …

So, blogging shall be sparse for a while as I maneuver through my last week of class, then run off to a completely out-of-character trip to Vegas, return just in time to turn around and head to California with an aching in my heart (I’ve definitely been listening to too much music from the 70s).

If someone had given me one of those hypothetical little quizzes last week, you know the ones where you’re asked to list the 5 people living or dead you’d like to meet, one of my top picks would have been Percy Bysshe Shelley, whose “A Defence of Poetry” (yes, spelled just like that), made me feel intellectually dwarfed and infinitely inspired. I am forever floored by the brilliance of these canonical writers who formulated these amazing treatises before their 30th birthdays. I don’t get it, before I turned 30 I was primarily interested in the firmness of my abs and where to get discount designer-wear! That’s not entirely true, but let’s just say that the level of my philosophical transcendence was stunted.

I will leave you with some lovely Shelley quotes: (He considered everyone with the inspiration to imagine and formulate art poets)

A Poet is a nightingale, who sits in darkness and sings to cheer its own solitude with sweet sounds; his auditors are as men entranced by the melody of an unseen musician, who feel that they are moved and softened, yet know not whence or why.”

The great secret of morals is Love; or a going out of our own nature, and an identification of ourselves with the beautiful which exists in thought, action, or person, not our own.”

But poetry defeats the curse which binds us to be subjected to the accident of surrounding impressions. And whether it spreads its own figured curtain or withdraws life’s dark veil from before the scene of things, it equally creates for us a being within our being … it reproduces the common universe of which we are portions and percipients, and it purges from our inward sight the film of familiarity which obscures from us the wonder of our being.”

Friday, August 12, 2005


Over at one of my favorite blogs, Superhero Journal, Andrea has tagged cyberspace to list 5 personal idiosyncracies.

I'm a strange bird, ritualistically-oriented you might say, so narrowing it down to five might prove challenging. Here's what comes to mind:

1) I can never purchase the first package of anything. In other words, when I reach for a bag of Pirate Booty, I have to take the bag behind the one in the front. When I buy milk, it must be the carton behind the one everyone has touched. If there is only one left of the item I want to purchase, it stresses me out.

2a) I get a real thrill when I finish something off -- like the last bit of shampoo or the last drop of lotion, or the final drop of orange juice, etc. This is because I am a little stasher, and always have a replacement waiting in the wings. But I can't open the new thing until the old one is completely finito (which is a major conflict with my husband who can open multiples at the same time -- imagine that!).

2b) I don't know if it is because of my dad's roots in poverty or mom's in the scarcity of post-WWII Berlin, but I am deathly afraid of running out of anything. Toilet paper and toothpaste are the two most critical. When I was living paycheck to paycheck, this was difficult to avoid, but generally I have a back-up of anything I use on a daily basis.

3) I loathe early morning (despite my knowledge that it can be serene, etc.) and am a true night person--almost always staying alert well past midnight. I've been known to vacuum and clean toilets at 11:00PM. The idea of having to be awake before 7:30AM sends me into convulsions, and I have a real problem with having to wake up and hit the floor running (an early appointment)--it can ruin me for the rest of the day. Oh, and I hate the sound of all the cars rushing around between 7:00-9:00AM.

4) Even if I'm not going to read, I must have a book or some kind of reading material by my bed before I can go to sleep. When I've tried to do without, I've ended up having to crawl sleepily out of bed and find something to place on my nightstand.

5) I have always had a special attachment to my birthday, October 14, and delight in finding out that cool people were born on this day. I often find that someone I like or admiresuch as e.e. cummings, Ralph Lauren, Natalie Maines (Dixie Chick), Winnie the Pooh (it's official), or Katherine Mansfield, share my birthday, and this inexplicably makes me feel special--as if we belong to some sort of Libran club. I also consistently check the time to find it is 10:14.

I know I'm missing other wierdnesses, like my need to carry chapstick with me wherever I go, or my compulsion to end up rushing even if I've given myself plenty of time to get ready. But this should suffice for the tag.

So one good tag deserves another, tell me your idiosyncracies.

Monday, August 08, 2005

Weekend Warriors

On Friday afternoon we were advised that we were ripped off last summer when we paid a roofer (who has disappeared) nearly $900 to wash, repair, and condition my cedar shake roof. I trust this new information because the shake shingles reclining atop the mock-pagoda slope of our roof are showing a dingy grey through the copper “treatment” from last year, curling inward as if they are hugging their bosoms, and in many cases just breaking apart like abandoned lovers. The lovely coppery sleekness they displayed last summer was only temporary--accomplished, I’m told, by mixing cedar-toned stain with a tablespoon or so of linseed oil, and lots and lots of water.

This is apparently a popular con in the Pacific Northwest where many homes are graced with the beauty, but utter impracticality, of shake roofs. The new roofer shrugged his shoulders at my obvious dismay and assured me these things happen, “you live and you learn,” he intoned as he tore off and handed me his estimate.

I all too often find myself getting an unsolicited education.

* * * *

My dog Phoebe is ill. She seems to have a cold. She is unable to breathe through her perky little nose, and last night she panted, gurgled and wheezed through her sleep. This morning, although she ate, drank, and seemed upbeat, I decided to call our regular vet for advice. She would not see us, instead recommending another clinic, because, she explained, Phoebe might need “oxygen therapy.” My dog needs oxygen therapy? I need oxygen therapy! I phoned the clinic for an estimate on costs for a check-up and this oxygen treatment, and the curt woman advised me that examining the dog is $62, and if she required the oxygen therapy, it could cost “several hundred dollars.”

In the meantime, a neighbor (who is a nurse) recommended children’s Benedryle, which seems to have cleared her nose swimmingly for about $6.

* * * *

Yesterday Aaron and I went with a couple of friends to float the Clackamus River. This was a new experience for me—an afternoon of genuine blue-collar fun. Floating the river is a sort of pared-down version of an afternoon aboard a yacht. Only the yacht is a $60 Coleman blow-up raft, outfitted with an ingenious attachable cooler float. We received lots of appreciative smiles and nods, and more than a few inquiries about the cooler float. Here are some things we observed as we rode the wild rapids of the Clackamus:

* Lots of empty beer cans thrown to the bottom of the river (we gave up trying to fish them all out)
* A grandmother, her granddaughter and a black dog happily floating in a two-person raft
* Two gonzo youth sliding kayaks down a 50-foot rock face
* Huge ospreys circling overhead, the sunlight shining through their white-tipped wings
* Three eerie rows of crackling power lines, looming like the skeletons of giant suma
wrestlers poised to grab us. They hummed and sputtered as we dug our oars into the swampy river to get past them.
* The zen-like sounds of water flowing over shallow rapids.
* A bright-orange craw-dad skittering across the polished rocks of the shoreline
* The afternoon sun ducking behind a ridge of fir-trimmed mountains, casting a sort of lamp-
light over the waning day.

Monday, August 01, 2005

The Politics of Trampling

Warning: This post does not pull any political punches.

This just appearing on Comcast's homepage, release credited to Terance Hunt, AP White House Correspondent:

"WASHINGTON - President Bush sidestepped the Senate and installed embattled nominee John Bolton as ambassador to the United Nations on Monday, ending a five-month impasse with Democrats who accused Bolton of abusing subordinates and twisting intelligence to fit his conservative ideology.

"This post is too important to leave vacant any longer, especially during a war and a vital debate about UN reform," Bush said. He said Bolton had his complete confidence.

Bush put Bolton on the job in a recess appointment - an avenue available to the president when the Congress is in recess. Under the Constitution, a recess appointment during the lawmakers' August break would last until a newly elected Congress takes office in January 2007."

bold [italics in first paragraph are mine]

Another option that would have filled the post, Mr. President, might have been choosing another candidate that appealed across the board.

Each day the policies of our current administration bring me to new heights of incredulity. Bolton is, simply stated, the wrong man for the job. Why would anyone appoint an ambassador to the U.N. whose past record of disdain for the institution isn't even in dispute? It can easily be argued that Bolton's disposition has no business in diplomacy at all. Bolton has a reputation of displaying a nasty temperament when he is crossed, and his questionable tactics include attempting to attain the names of individuals who disagreed with him (Comcast article).

This leads to further speculation about the nature of our country at this time. The way our current administration uses loopholes, bullying and domineering tactics to shove through its agenda. It is time to call a spade a spade--there is no attempt being made to join this country or to respect opposing points of view. All Bush's claims are pure rhetoric, the sort used by his buddies Kenneth Lay and Carl Rove.

That a man with Bolton's record should never have been considered for this post seems quite obvious to me, yet again and again the president displays an unprecedented arrogance because he isn't interested in accommodating any agenda but his own.

The Senate response?

"Sen. Edward M. Kennedy, D-Mass., sharply criticized the move.

"It's a devious maneuver that evades the constitutional requirement of Senate consent and only further darkens the cloud over Mr. Bolton's credibility at the U.N," Kennedy said."

"Sen. Christopher Dodd of Connecticut, a senior Democrat on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, said, "The president has done a real disservice to our nation by appointing an individual who lacks to the credibility to further U.S. interests at the United Nations."


More on Bolton:

Bolton v. Democracy

Bolton Often Blocked Information, Officials Say

Good-bye to Intelligence

Oh, and here is an "article," which I found on the ultra-right-wing WorldNetDaily site--actually stating the case against Bolton more eloquently than I can:

Bolton's Legacy