Have you heard of the Flaming Lips? They've got their entire new album,
Have you heard of the Flaming Lips? They've got their entire new album,
I picked up this book on the suggestion of my physician, when I talked to him about my fears of
Only a few chapters into
He says, "In other words, even if your particular goal is a limited one, such as avoiding a heart attack, you must attend to the whole picture just as much as anyone else. It is not enought to cut your intake of saturated fat. It is not enough to take cholesterol-lowering agents, whether natural or synthetic. It is not enough to increase your exercise. It is not enough to practice stress reduction. To optimize the function of the healing system, you must do everything in your power to improve physical health, mental/emotional health, and spiritual health."
Cheesy, yes. It comes right out of a cliche for the most part that cause and effect is an illusion. But this idea, I think, has been trying to reach me from so many angles lately that I must pay attention to it. As I read in
It reminds me of what
In a way, it makes everything more difficult, but at the same time, it feels very much to jive with how the world seems to work.
Thought is persistent, and our rule over it is limited, lacking a couple crucial functions, such as delete, save forever, and even a good reliable retrieve method.
Thoughts can enter your head very easily, but we don't have a good mechanism for removing them from our heads. Instead, when we begin to have a thought that we don't want to live with forever, we cover our ears and say, "I don't want to hear it!"
I think this very thought on thought has stuck around in my head since the entry about
The only way for thoughts to leave our mind is for us to forget about them. And you cannot intentionally forget something. Trying to forget something will only strengthen its position in your head, and will become readily available whenever you think about "that thing you were trying to forget".
And yet, half an hour later, I still have "doot do do do doo. doot do do do doo" in my head.
Part of the City Stories network.
Lately, I've been letting it fall by the wayside so that I can concentrate on other things like
Some recent ideas I'd like to encorporate into the ultimate citystories script:
+ Allow the use of
+ Use a map and some creative form submission to get the same effect that NYC Bloggers has. Use the bus stops, perhaps.
+ Encourage actual communication to occur in the city, along the same lines as warchalking.
Wow, just writing these things down makes me want to get back to work on that project. Must... resist.... !
Meme of the day: warchalking.
Evolution and destruction of an inspiration: Lately I've made a habit of thinking of some idea (or in this case responding someone else's idea), developing it in my mind into a huge project, and then abandoning it. It's that last exercise of letting go that provides the most satisfaction. Warchalking is a new idea (or a new interpretation of an old idea) where people around a city would use a set of symbols to mark, using chalk, certain areas of the city that have
So I thought, we should do this in Seattle. I could work with the Seattle Stories site and grow something new with it. I could start with my own house since I have a wireless access point in my living room (which is shared by our neighbors).
Then I thought, this
I read up on a couple different hobo language sites, tried thinking of a domain name, writing perl in my head, choosing colors, etc. And then, just like that (I think my coffee ran out), I decided that I'm not going to do it.
Not that I don't think it shouldn't be done, but I'm really enjoying a life with minimal online projects right now. Letting go of projects gives me almost as much satisfaction as completing them. Maybe more, actually, because there isn't that disappointment of original intentions being hi-jacked by a community that can never live up to your expectations.
A lot of people I know are going through really tough and important challenges right now. To focus on something like wireless networks seems to almost be an insult. I'd rather stay uninvested right now, enjoy the reading time, the writing time, the walking time, the wasting time, and when I'm tired of that, then I'll come back to the work-a-holic mentality that comes so naturally for me.
Everyone around me, having an easy time with life, a difficult time, an interesting time or a dull time, I'm with you. I want to be there with you. Let's take that machete to those weeds.
I just added the five final chapters from part one of
Part two is coming along well, I wrote two more pages today, and am pretty happy with it so far. Of course, I have to constantly reconcile myself to the fact that the story is pretty bad right now, but it's the structure I'm trying to lay down now, and the writing itself can be improved on the next revision. Anyone that reads it right now will probably not be doing it for their own entertainment, but perhaps more as a service to me.
It was three hours until midnight, but Seattle's white sun was still hovering, unblinking, in the sky as if it were noon. The sun pushed out the day, asking how long it could stay light before others noticed. Jude was following Mrs. Remington's car down Pine Street, west, down and up hills, towards the Sound, and the sun could not be blocked out of his eyes by the visor because it was placed, with what intention, on the same plane as the street signs, the billboards, the red and green lights.
He shifted down, a millionaire, as they came to a stop at the bottom of the hill. He looked at the gold-plated box he had lifted from the small table at Mrs. Remington's house, now sitting in the center of his passenger seat, unbuckled. Looking ahead, all he could see was the golden halo of Mrs. Remington's hair barely reaching above the top of her seat. Her car was filled with light. Glass, spinning and rotating and dancing with it as it took form, was now proposing to him, asking Jude to accept its own self into his heart of hearts, his chosen art medium to live with forever, to have and to hold, the art that he has chosen from all art possible to participate in, till death did them part. Glass was fused to his way of thinking, integral to the shapes he felt he could see in and outside the studio, in and outside himself, and he couldn't draw lines around himself without including glass as well. However, at the same time choosing glass meant not choosing sculpture, nor paint, nor words, nor video, nor music nor anything else that he could now choose from: infinity, now that he had the means. This was how tomorrow would be different from yesterday, yesterday was ruled by an angel of finite possibilities and accidental fates, where luck and chance had introduced him to a series of friends who led eventually to the glass studio, and he had considered it the best he could get, given the circumstances, and the angle of light on his life. Now, today, choices were all pushed into the arena of intentional decisions, not to be made for reasons of convenience, nor by process of elimination, in fact not by accident at all but by that cosmic element from which free will itself was blown, when lifted from the bondage of time and money. His heart had opened up and was bringing in cleaner, more efficient blood than it ever had before, filling grand chambers with new thoughts and impressions arriving from unknown and newly discovered arteries, filling everything larger and larger, growing everything to grand proportions, the kind for kings, queens, gods, and goddesses, challenging the walls that were once much tighter, waiting patiently for the familiar strain of a full heart before releasing its first beat into the stream. What then? Jude was driving slower, breaking sooner, signaling with more regularity than he had before because he felt more precious. There was a greater fall, more to be lost, from where he stood now and where he had stood a day before.
Pine and Pike were parallel streets cutting across most of Seattle, however, at its western-most point Pike took a sharp right at the Market, and intersected with the final stretch of Pine, creating a small corner against expectation. There was the house, the Remington House, on the corner of Pike and Pine, large, faded black, blocky, old, yet solid, his new house as of now, in which lived people who had been hired for this same indescribable job, asked the same questions on some previous sunny day by Mrs. Remington, given answers which would be kept forever secret between contract maker and contract signer. Mrs. Remington's car stopped suddenly at a green light, and Jude nearly back-ended her. He saw a woman in a straw hat walking across the street, glancing angrily to her side, pointing at something. Mrs. Remington waited, then continued into the alley behind the house, and Jude followed.
They walked through the backyard which was filled with tall trees of several different colors and shapes, some with large flat leaves and others with small ridged leaves and white trunks, none of which Jude could pick out by name, although words like "oak," "maple," and "pine," came to mind like fallen sparrows shot out of a flock at random, but nevertheless, the trees all looked familiar and dear to him: these were the trees of his back yard. There would be birds and squirrels in these trees, most likely. A key was lifted loudly from Mrs. Remington's purse, to open the back door. He followed every object that struck his interest to its finest detail, confident that at the end of every path of observation lay his own reflection, staring back at himself. A universe tightly wound around the moment that he now participated in, everything mirroring everything else. The key in Mrs. Remington's hand was one of twenty other keys, wrapped around a wide metal ring amongst other plastic trinkets sealing small photos and gold-plated icons of barnyard animals. Jude saw that she had climbed three steps to get to the door without struggle, and she had left her cane in her car. She had driven here on her own. He supported her arm with his own as they stepped into the kitchen. "Thank you, dear."
Jude stepped in front of Mrs. Remington, holding an expression of greeting, prepared specifically for the first person he saw. He stepped heavily, rang out "Hello?" as he turned the corner and saw a dozen people lounging on couches, sitting around a table, laying on the floor, like so many bored gods and goddesses. The world was in good hands. Claire jumped up from her seat, carelessly moving a soft head of brown hair and beautiful eyes off her lap, "Jude!" There was a dull explosion from the kitchen.
Her arms went around him in a hug, then her expression changed and she yanked his neck around and into the kitchen, followed by Roman and Jackie, whom he knew, and one or two other curious bodies, not yet named.
Mrs. Remington was standing, fine, in the center of the kitchen, looking out the window above the sink. A quick investigation ensued outside, and a bearded man with a large friendly face returned in the rectangular doorway and waved them outside. Mrs. Remington stayed where she was.
When Jude stepped down behind the circle of tall bodies, Claire took his hand and let him in to see. The girl in a warm dress and green eyes turned around with cupped hands, and inside was a small brownish black bird, legs curled under it, wings folded, and beak tucked down. "It hit the window." Shadows from the low sun cast shapes over the hands and the bird, obscuring any close observation of life or death.
Jude spoke up, "Is it breathing?"
"I can't tell." She held it toward him.
The others, except for Francie and Claire, seeing the event transitioning from action-adventure to drama, went back inside the house.
Jude lowered his head, making out a dark patch of tiny feathers on its chest, and tiny white spots and black stripes covering its wings. Her hands were shaking, and Jude couldn't tell if the movement was from that, or from the lungs expanding and contracting within the bird's tiny rib cage. He steadied her hands, looked closer, and saw the ecstatic movement indicating life. "It's alive, I think." He looked up at the girl, then at Claire whose chin was reaching over his shoulder, horrified, and stood back up straight. "Let's take it inside." The look the girl had given him-he felt his skin accept it, as if given the perfect breath, where he was the gathered glass.
"It won't live," Claire was quick to predict.
Inside, Claire took care of Mrs. Remington, with disapproving glances at the others, who placed a bird above their guest. She walked Mrs. Remington to a chair in another room, and closed the door behind them, while Francie found a cardboard box and filled it with grass and placed the bird on the green bed. "I'm Francie." Jude shook her hand again, which was now cool and soft.
Roman introduced Jude to the others around the table: Jess, whom Roman had his arm around. Jackie, whom he knew. Michael and Benny, to Roman's left, friends whom Jude had heard about. Benny was the large faced man with the comforting smile who had first found the bird. Owen and Amy St. John. Owen looked like a cowboy, had a firm handshake, Amy looked shy. Over on the couches, a large blank whiteboard laid out before an older man named Skip. He awoke from an unknown pre-occupation and waved exuberantly in Jude's direction when he heard his name. Not present was Juliette, currently traveling in Europe. He let most of the names fade unremembered for now, but kept the faces close to him, loving them, this trusting and friendly group of beautiful faces belonging to artists, writers, photographers, musicians, etc, of which he was now one, all through the mystical luck of Matt Vandruff never showing up.
Claire came out of the room and asked if anyone else wanted to talk to Mrs. Remington. Francie did. She touched Jude's shoulder as she stepped behind him, and Claire took her place. He hugged Claire again. They talked about Matt, speculating on his lack of appearance. Moving day had come and gone before the eleven others noticed that one was missing, and they never heard from him. Jude was his replacement.
"What did she ask about?" Amy nudged Claire. She indicated the other room. Other people pretended not to be listening, continued talking about Matt and looking at the bird, breathing, but space was made in the conversation for her reply. Jude bounced around in the energy created by this tension, feeling drunk.
"I can't tell," Claire said.
Owen glanced at her, prepared to ask the question if he had to.
Claire continued, "Mrs. Remington asked about what I had decided to do this month, and before I could answer, she closed her eyes. When she opened them, she asked if I felt well. I said yes. And if I was eating well. And that's about it. She said she was getting old, and a few other things." She shrugged.
Francie came out of the room.
Claire disagreed, "It smells. It's depressing."
Roman nodded in agreement with Claire, and volunteered to be next to talk to Mrs. Remington, worry suddenly flashing across his face as he looked at the girl next to him. Francie picked up the box, "I'll take care of it, don't worry." She carried it upstairs.
The cowboy knocked Jude on the shoulder. Jude felt a bit nauseous.
"And there's one more person you haven't met. A secret person. Am I right?" He knocked her too, "And he had that same look on his face when he met Francie that you did."
"Oh please." said Claire.
Jude was ready to forget most of what he was saying. "What secret person?" He followed Owen's gaze to where Skip was sitting on the floor still, with his white board in front of him, now half scribbled with writing. Behind him, above the couch, hung four other whiteboards, which he could only make out some of the writing on.
"And also, where'd you hear this from?"
"Well I guess he won't be secret for long. Just while Mrs. Moneybags is here. He's Skip's friend." Jude remembered the texture of Francie's hand, and wondered if she would come back downstairs tonight.
"It's not like that," said Claire, to something he had missed.
Jude wasn't interested. For a while they stood looking at the bird in the box, which they all three thought would be dead in the morning. It was still far from night, the sun was still miles above the horizon, and Owen, knowing he had hours to kill before he could go out, said, "I'm going to break the World Record for sitting on a flagpole."
Mrs. Remington's House
As he got in his car, sinking into the cool seat, he felt the seatbelt strap wrap around his chest, and heard the click of metal as the buckle locked into place. He looked out the front windshield, at the street as it started moving, accelerating more slowly than usual due to the trailer hooked on the back, and he saw the windshield itself. He didn't notice the lanes or the lights or the other cars on the road, but he did see the thin cloud covering the city, and the position of the sun, and he thought he could pinpoint exactly where the Sound started and where it ended. He pulled up outside of a large white house, obscured mostly by a black gate set in stone, the gate having been swallowed by huge rectangular bushes stuffed tight with billions of shiny dark green leaves.
He knew the story, but as he swung the iron gate and stepped into the yard, he swapped out imagined place-holders he had been keeping for her lawn, her yard, and her house, with the real lawn (green as green could be, with a large weeping tree in the middle of the yard; over the back fence a view of the Sound that was quite astonishing; several cars pulled up into the shaded driveway), and her real house (which had tall white Roman columns and miniature statues along the top tier, and a door right in the center of what was probably a perfect cube of a house). The doorbell, when pressed, created a cascading series of dongs and dings. He was let in by a person about the same age as himself, and ushered to a side room, away from the immense room that stretched in front of and above him, to wait for Mrs. Remington to arrive.
She came in almost immediately, while he was still responding emotionally to the red walls, and the light dancing through sheer curtains and reflecting upon the rear wall over paintings and ornate tables.
He turned to meet her, but she wasn't there. What had entered the room was actually just the sound of her approach, and it took another minute before her steps, and the cane, and the rest of her self appeared in the doorway. She stopped and looked at him from behind wide and thick tiger-shell-rimmed glasses. She was a woman no larger than a ten year old girl, wearing a thick glass necklace, comprised of chain-linked pieces of seamless glass expertly crafted, a golden globe hanging off the bottom, possibly the most formidable object on her body although it had stiff competition from the belt and the bracelets, which were both sturdy collections of leather, gold, silver, and glass. Each material that the jewelry exhibited attempted to rise above the rest in intricacy, and if not that, then just sheer volume. She smiled warmly, exposing red creases under her eyes and under her nose, skin that looked as sheer as the curtains. Her glance, her steps, her smile, they all lasted about a second each before falling apart, to be replaced by another glance, another step, another smile, a little less convincing. "Sit down." She too sat down in a high-backed chair whose cushions didn't give at all under her weight. Light fell on her face, illuminating the almost invisible shroud of golden hair that extended in all directions out from her head. She leaned forward, offering her hand, which Jude reached over to, what, shake? When his hand touched hers, her thumb moved lightly in his palm and dropped a small wrapped candy. She winked at him, delighted.
He unwrapped it, placed the cube of toffee in his mouth, and tried to keep his habitual smacking to a minimum. She said, "I am Helen," placing no significance on this choice of words, despite the apparent effort required in voicing them, as if they had begun their long journey from original thought to complete irrelevance long before the complex machinery of muscle received their instructions, and produced the final high raspy echo. And then, quickly, while the gates of communication were still warm and open, "Jude, I will ask you some questions." She produced from her jacket pocket a small two by three inch sheet of yellow paper, and a hefty microscope with a large wooden handle. Jude, sugar melting away from the nugget under his tongue, watched her with as much love and hunger for the sweet knowledge of knowing as a child.
Holding the magnifying glass up to her eye, and the paper a foot from that, she said, "Jude," and read, "Household chores. Cleaning, repairing, washing." She looked up at him, "Do you want these?"
He understood. "No."
He could say more, but she looked at him, delighted as she marked a big 'X' on the paper, and said, "Jude," and then, back to business, read, "Shopping. Groceries, supplies, clothing." Then looked up again, looking at him through the magnifying glass, "Do you want these?"
Jude looked outside, the sun was still high in the sky. He twisted the golden candy wrapper in his hand, as noiselessly as he could. "Yard work. Do you want this?"
X. "Okay. Good. And for your work. Do you know what you will do?"
"Not yet." Jude felt guilty about this, although he hadn't before. The others hadn't given her a anything either.
"I will ask again next month."
"Okay. I'll definitely have something by then."
Mrs. Remington leaned forward, tilting her head to the left, "What?"
"Next month. Yes."
She nodded and produced a few tiny coughs. "Okay." She leaned back, still looking at the paper through the magnifying glass, studying it for more questions. "And how much is the salary?"
Mrs. Remington leaned forward, tilting her head to the left, "What?"
"Per month? Like, um. Every month?"
She leaned back, smiling, nodding her head no. "Per year. Per year. Paid monthly."
Jude leaned forward, then leaned back. There was no way for him to do this other than to just do this. He stuffed the candy wrapper into the couch's complexly patterned cushion. "One million."
Jude's Glass Studio
Jude woke early, having merely skimmed through the night's sleep-it was so full of dreams. He yanked his wet red hair from under the faucet and dried it with a towel, rubbing his face with the same motion. He was starving.
He entered the studio, welcoming the warm push of heat against him. Abbey and Sharon were already there, spinning irons in the furnace. He felt good today, and knew it as a fact as soon as he did his first blow into the pipe. He had gathered some glass on his iron, rotated it, rotated it, rolled it along a wet wooden block held in his right hand, half a dozen trips to the furnace and back to his bench, he stood up and held the blow pipe with both arms and took a steady in-breath before breathing out into the pipe, and plugging it with his thumb. Lifting his head, he saw blossoming forth was a smooth perfect bubble. It felt natural, he remembered that feeling, the perfect measurement and cutting of breath, yard by yard, from a handful of other perfect breaths, that always came by accident. He fell in love with the piece only beginning to be made, a dripping red and transparent tear, the heat now pushing at him stronger than he could push back, sweating uncontrollably.
The iron swung back and forth from the furnace to the bench, from hot to less hot and back, in rhythm with the irons of Abbey and Sharon, all glass getting harder, all the time, and soon Abbey had prepared another iron with a small red tip. Jude slid a steel file along the tip of where the glass met the iron, Abbey watched the far end of the glass, searching for its center, then, quickly, touched her iron to the center and began spinning it in step with the glass. Jude tapped up on the bottom of his iron with the file, with what he felt to be the tap of inspired skill, but it was slightly off. His skill did not yet match his desire, and the mindset best for creativity was slightly at odds with the mindset best for detail-orientation. Nevertheless, the glass separated cleanly from his iron. Abbey swung her iron around and handed it to Jude. Sharon prepared the lip of the vase in unison, while Jude rolled the body in shards of white glass, then green, shards which melted and blended in with the original shape. They dipped and poured two handles, they attached and cut the lip, they watched the glass and cut off one handle that had cooled too quickly. A small poisonous flower, a sliver indicating strain in the glass, his eyes weren't perfect, but he did see this one. The clipped glass was removed to a bucket, where it sat with other rejected glass clippings, and exploded a minute later with a pop! They grew a new handle, kept it, wiped their foreheads with cloths, danced some more, then placed the new vase in the annealler. Soon, the play would end and the glass blower, Ivan, would arrive. Sharon, Abbey, and Jude were his assistants.
It was a cool day, although every day was hot in the studio, and in there each day felt just as hot as the last, his skin and mind never fully adapting. When Ivan arrived, they assisted him in making several pieces, pieces that they'd made a hundred times before, and by the end they were tired, their arms, legs, and lungs, and Jude reminded Ivan that he would be leaving early today. At each rest, Jude went to the sink and doused his hair in water and rubbed his hands through it and over his face, and remembered what he would be doing that night, and how it would change things. Ivan remembered, yes, he would be leaving early today, that was fine, as they stood on the steps outside the studio,