Ye Olde Archive Archived Posts: 2004-2009


A beautiful melancholy

I would not want to run a mile with a thousand spectators watching me intently, and I don’t know why. I think I could probably make it a mile without collapsing, if I jogged it, at least. It’s not a soul-bearing act, but I’d prefer to have a thousand people watch me write, or read, or just sit and stare at a wall. I’d rather give a speech in french in front of a thousand french people, I think. Scary ….

Today has been a bit melancholy, a day where I just want to relax, and feel like the world is judging me for my inaction. I revere stillness as much as action, silence as much as speech, meditation as much as thought. It’s often in my silence that the world makes me feel alone.

It’s a beautiful melancholy. Don’t begrudge me it.

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The cure for mad cows

News Flash: Spanish scientists believe they may have found the solution to mad cow disease, an infection caused by a rogue protein produced only by cannibalism. Though as yet unproven, geneticists believe that mixing the genes of those infected with mad cow disease with the genes of those infected with placid bull syndrome would cause both infections to cease, effectively killing two birds with one stone.

Placid bull syndrome is a long-standing, formerly rare ailment in Spain. The first recorded “placid bull” was none other than the lovable Ferdinand, who most people know from stories for his love of flowers and refusal to fight when thrown into the arena. For a time since, Ferdinand was put to stud, until the Spanish realized that “placid bull” was a dominant genetic characteristic, and was passed down to each and every one of Ferdinand’s offspring. Now, placid bull syndrome has become a major threat to the Spanish way of life. After all, what would Madonna do for a music video if she couldn’t have a matador in it? Where would Spain be without decadent bovine bloodshed? Needless to say, Spain is as concerned, if not moreso, with finding a cure to placid bull syndrome as they are to mad cow disease.

Skipping animal testing, scientists have jumped straight to testing on humans. Though results so far have produced only “bi-polar minotaurs”, scientists are sure that the cure is within their grasp, and that it is only a matter of time before humans are once again meek and docile, and bulls ferocious and mean.

On another front, PETA says the solution to mad cow disease is simple. In the words of PETA spokesperson, “Of course the cows are mad. They work hard for little or no wages, live in squalor, and have to put up with the occassional “tipping”. The cure for mad cow disease? A union!”

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The rolled spring bounty of General Tsao

Regarding the title of this blog, i.e. “Where is my muse?” (editor’s note: this was the subtitle of the old blog I had at, I can now, officially report having found it. It was not, as I had perhaps expected it to be, located in a park, museum, work of art, literature, or in the depths of someone’s eyes. Rather, I found it in a chinese restaurant.

Yes, it was there, amidst the wonton, eggdrop, rolled spring bounty of general tsao, that my muse awaited me. And you might imagine, much to my amazement! Even so, it was no bolt of lightning, nor thunderclap, nor sudden clarity of thought. Rather, and rather abruptly, I was confronted by my muse when that most-delicate of chinese post-feast cuisine, my fortune cookie was presented to me, along of course with my check and an after-dinner mint. Expecting portents of doom, cute kitchen wisdom, or some chenglish garble, I was, and I admit it, a bit dismayed when my fortune read, simply, “I am your muse.”

I sat, stunned, for several minutes, contemplating the ramifications of this revelation. Should I move to China? Should I have gone to a thai restaurant instead? Who was General Tsao, anyway? Finally, and a bit furtively, I took both what was left of the cookie, and its fortune, and quickly devoured it. I got up, payed my check, ate my mint, and left the building, occassionally glancing over my shoulder for bad signs that I might soon be struck dead, or maimed by ducks.

Half an hour later, I had horrible indigestion. Perhaps ironically, it wasn’t even inspiring indigestion. I guess that may be for the best. So, at least for awhile longer, the title stands, and I’ll try to forget this whole fortune cookie thing ever happened. It’s better that way.

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Seize the day and throttle it!

Carpe diem. That’s the short, latin version. I like the american version by Bill Watterson, too.

Calvin: ‘My elbows are grass-stained, I’ve got sticks in my hair, I’m
covered with bug bites and cuts and scratches…
I’ve got sand in my socks and leaves in my shirt. My hands are
sticky with sap, and my shoes are soaked! I’m hot, dirty, sweaty,
itchy and tired.’

Hobbes: ‘I say consider this day seized!’

Calvin: ‘Tomorrow we’ll seize the day and throttle it!’

Well, my day was not precisely throttled. I’m sorry to say I spend it feeling unwell, physically, and very reflective, mentally (not so sorry about that part). Reading back on old writing, some dating back to 1995, always reminds me of how foolish a creature the human is … or if nothing of so broad a scope, how foolish I am, particularly. On the bad days, this gets me down. On the good days, I revel in it. After all, the implication of looking back on your life and not feeling foolish is that you have not grown, not changed, and can’t blush at your own naivety because you have not yet realized and overcome it. This victory, of course, only heralds in new battles, more naivety … of a heightened kind, maybe so and maybe not, but new. Every day IS a new day, and we awaken as new people not only every morning, but every hour and every minute. What I am now is not what I was even 30 seconds ago, where I was only beginning to formulate a thought that the present me has already had and the future me will one day have long since forgotten.

Today, I work in a library, and it is, in many ways, a standard 9-5 type of job. Tomorrow I may be in my car driving to New York to make my living as a street poet. That there is only a tiny fraction of a percent of a whisper of a chance that that might in fact come to pass does not really lessen the idea as a possibility.

And the point is, we have choices. Not just little choices like: “What tie shall I wear today?”, or “What shall I have for dinner this evening?”. And not only big choices like, “What will I do for a living?” or “Should I ask her to marry me?” In every second of every day there are a million (literally) and more choices waiting to be made, turned down, ignored, hesitated upon, and overlooked. Every positive choice I make is a million negative choices at the same time. That I choose to type this also means I’m choosing not to get a drink of water, not to write something else, not to watch TV or read a book, get more firewood, build a swimming pool, go for a walk, move to New York, call a friend, learn to speak Polish, buy a gun, kill someone, overthrow the political system, streak the town or go out dancing. If you think about it, the amount of “no” you say everytime you say “yes” is staggering.

The point of all this is that maybe some of the “no” should become “yes”. I think a lot of people make decisions because they don’t realize that there are other, valid choices out there. I feel secure in my choices because I am willing to recognize the other possibilities. I am happy doing what I do because I choose to do it, out of a million other things I could be doing. Most of the time, saying “no” to a choice is subconscious, an automatic response that accompanies saying “yes” to another choice you may have grown so accustomed to making that you have, in your own mind, raised it from beyond being a choice to now just being “how things are”.

“How things are” is a lie. It’s a comfort we want to use because we are afraid, as Mandela says, not of our weakness but of our great strength. It’s not scary to have no choices. What’s frightening is having countless choices. Each of us is nothing less than a god, with complete dominion over the most essential: ourselves.

You are responsible for every minute detail of your life. You can change, and you can stay the same, and either involves making one or numerous choices. There is ABSOLUTELY no such thing as being powerless, especially not concerning who you are.

In twenty years, I’ll look back on writing this, and I’ll surely feel foolish for sounding like a damned fortune cookie. But I chose to write this, instead of a million other things I could have done, and I’ll not regret that.

“Action is choice; choice is free commitment to this or that way of behaving, living, and so on; the possibilities are never fewer than two: to do or not to do; be or not be.” -Isaiah Berlin, From Hope and Fear Set Free

In the end, all it is: carpe diem.


The last leaf

I’m looking for the time when it won’t be a struggle to write here every day. To say I don’t have time to write makes me feel weak. I do!

And then there are days like today, when nothing in my head comes forward for me to write. I’m no good at reaching back in there and grabbing things. So I submit something previously written, in hope that the simple act of writing, anything, each day will urge my bring to bring its inane thoughts to the forefront.

Dawn’s disgrace is ending.
I would give anything for a Sun that would rise and not stop,
for proof that everthing is not over,
for the last leaf to fall.

What’s unwritten is that beauty relies on ending, as much as on beginnings. It relies on sorrow as much as joy, pain as much as health - and this is true of all things. There is no blue without red, and rainbows are not beautiful because of their uniformity. And yet, each day our society tries to remove another color, to make us uniform, to fight against that which they are not, because they are good and so everything else must be bad, because they are right and so everything else must be wrong.

Maybe the biggest problem is that, in large part, we live in a world where we can’t agree to disagree.

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