Tuesday, May 30, 2006

Treading is always an option

I spent yesterday morning giving swimming lessons to a friend who didn't really know how to swim and who started to panic a little stepping into water a little over 3-foot deep. My friend is not a dwarf nor abnormally short. The fear had a different origin. One that was a foreign concept to me because, for the longest time, I've been at home in the water. Texas is so fucking hot during the summertime that the only way to survive to spend it immersed in something other than your own sweat. Parents toss their young into the pool at a young age and expect them figure out. I survived the ritualistic baptism by fire in our 4-foot above ground monstrosity. Shortly after that test it was swim lessons every summer that ended the year I maxed out and finished the final course before lifeguard certification. Yes, I've rescued a drowning dummy and used my own jeans as a flotation device. From there is was the city swim club and competitive swimming. I didn't suck but didn't really win either.

As yesterday's sun beat down, my only goal was to at least convince her she could float on her back. We came close. Even though she wouldn't give up control and let go of the wall, she did indeed float on her back. There was no faith in the water not to screw her over, to be that invisible layer of support beneath her back. I hope I was understanding and patient. A teacher I am not, but I figure I do okay when I try. It also made me realize that there are things I'm afraid of, and even though others may be able to do them, the smallest step will be difficult for those who are afraid.

Monday, May 22, 2006


I spend a lot of time worrying about whether I'm doing the right thing with my life and if I'm doing enough to make the world a better place. I feel the need to make an impact, to solve some big global problem. I know I can't but feel like I should at least be trying to contribute my two cents to the cause. This is why guilt and feelings of selfishness tend to wash over me when I start to entertain ideas of trying to do something more creative with my life.* It's only when I read articles like the Washington Post Magazine's piece on locally-based artist Allen Carter that I start remember how art and the creative have been used to shift thinking and spur social change. Carter's (Big Al) work not only reflects an amazing dedication to the art and imagination, Battiata talks of how his art challenges you to face realities you may not want to deal with. The butterflies in my gut in reading this article are for excitement and remembering all the writing, art, photography, theater that has helped in shifting my frame of reference. Even in my current field I see the value in the creative. At a recent conference on rivers I attended, an award was given to Beth Maynor Young for the awareness she's raised with her photography of southeastern rivers. Her photographs have inspired land and river protection throughout the region. Even crafts have gotten activist again** with sites like Craftivism that highlight ways to give back, act out, etc.

Anyway, I ramble on simply to say that I'm excited and hopeful and may just be working my way towards that Master's thesis.

*I feel like that was such a conceited sentence. I'm in no way saying I'm creative enough to ever do anything like that as a career. We're talking a dreaming-only scenario.
**Those old school ladies sewing circles could be pretty revolutionary ; )

Monday, May 15, 2006

More Luke than Christopher

***Warning: You may not want to read this post if you haven't seen the season finale of Gilmore Girls.***

We all make mistakes in life, those last minute decisions made in a moment of panic or desperation that either turn out to be harmless or alter the course of our destiny forever. Imagine my shock when I decided to pay a visit to Stars Hollow yesterday and saw that final scene with Lorelai in bed with Christopher. How familiar was that face that screamed "Oh shit, what have I done," without moving a muscle? As disappointed as I was, I knew what few errant twists of fate it took to get there. For Lorelai it was months of feeling like she was on the backburner in Luke's life and that immediate broken heart (and probably a little bit of old feelings for Christopher, etc., etc.). In my own life, see how easily those bad decisions come to me. Sure, one more drink won't hurt. I'm sure it's just a leak in the oil pan. Not talking to the mystery guy yet AGAIN!*

* Yes, I saw him again last night and froze like a deer in the headlights of an oncoming vehicle. I saw him 3 out of 5 days last week and managed to not say a word. Soon fate is going to flip me off.

Friday, May 12, 2006

Missed connections

Do you believe in fate? As with many things in life, I've walked the line between buying into it and also knowing that regardless of fate I choose my own destiny. Lately I've started believing in fate a little more as I continue to cross paths with this one guy in all the oddest places. I first locked eyes with him as an off and on Barn customer. Maybe it's my imagination, but catching each other's eye has intensified over time. That said, I wouldn't think anything of it if it were just the Barn. It's not. I've accidentally parked beside him at Target and passed him on the streets of D.C. on a handful of occasions, each time eliciting a double take (from him). After seeing him again on Tuesday night, I finally decided that next time I saw him I would speak to him. He's cute, tall, and makes my heart skip beats. I'm interested. Easy enough, right? Well, fate is one smart-ass bitch because last night he boarded my normal bus a few people behind me. I've never seen him on this bus before, and he happens to get on so soon after I made my decision to speak?! As I took up residence in my normal seat (back corner), he sat down and proceeded to crane around to look at me. We locked eyes yet again (can I just say I'm ready to move beyond the eye lock). He would look back periodically and would glance at everyone that passed to see if it was my stop. Meanwhile, I'm putting on the lip gloss and texting Scarlet trying to figure out what to do. The bad news is that (1) I was dead tired having just gotten back from an event in Jersey; (2) tired does not = uber hot; (3) was carrying a tote where you could see my mixed drink pj bottoms on top; (4) was dealing with the drama of figuring out how I was going to get gas to my roommate who was stranded in the rain; and (5) already late to the Barn. So, even though I had my line prepared, I didn't approach him. The timing was just off. I do believe in fate and know we'll cross paths again. Next time I'll be prepared ; )

Thursday, May 11, 2006

Thumbs down to news

I used to pride myself on staying abreast of current events and regularly catching the news (either print or TV); however, ever since September 11 happened, I've found the news a bitter pill I'd rather not follow. I realize this is a dangerous game I play, risking being so out of the loop. Knowledge is power...I buy into that ideal. I just need to get my knowledge some other way. Have I found the delivery method right for me? Not yet. I definitely frequent "new media" (that's blogs, peeps) and do read the paper periodically. I go old school sometimes relying on word of mouth (dangerous, I know). You'd be surprised how much people want to pass along to you or what you can overhear just keeping those ears alert. Having been on the road for more than 7 hours today, I feel only affirmation in my feelings of dissatisfaction with the news. Seven hours, 4-5 NPR stations, and the same 4 stories over and over and over. I can now recite the story of Bush's reaction to the USA Today article on the NSA tracking the phone calls of millions of Americans. Curious about immigration policy or the proposed tax cuts? Give me a call. I respect the journalists working hard to keep us all informed, admiring them from afar with what could sometimes be called jealousy. All I really want is to continue to see the envelope pushed and the harder questions asked. As media conglomerations grow, let's hope the news reported is less watered down than we've come to expect.

Wednesday, May 10, 2006

Do you contra?

Contra...out of breath dizzy fun. According to wikipedia, it's an English country dance originating in the 17th century and later adapted by the French. Once co-opted by the Americans it was re-interpreted and considered some form of American folk dance. Honestly, it reminded me a lot of square dancing. Whatever you call it, I was doing it on Monday night after a glass of wine and a little Red Hook. Someone had the bright idea to hire a caller and band the last night of the river rally I went to in New Hampshire. Couldn't have been too terrible an idea as young and old (and, yes, me) poured onto the dance floor to fling each other about. Passed from man to woman to man while skipping, swinging and do si doing all I could do was laugh. Don't be surprised if I try to get a little contra going at the next party ; )

Sunday, May 07, 2006

...live from New Hampshire (on a hijacked internet connection)

I was going to complain. I had plans last night for my blog to be about how I just don't connect at some of these events. Today happened though. It wasn't the breakfast of chai french toast or the fact that my presentation was over this morning (successful btw). It wasn't even how a session on water privatization re-energized my activist spirit. It was a simple box lunch on a rock by a dancing river at the base of Mount Washington in the White Mountains of New Hampshire. It was pen and paper to record my thoughts as the water danced over the cobble and a look upstream revealed the glare of gentle whitewater. It was knowing that I did have friends inside the resort but could come down here and find my center. It was having a spider race across my foot and knowing it was time to go. It was a silent chuckle to myself and knowing I'll always be me and that's an okay thing.

Thursday, May 04, 2006

Why metro is truly trying sometimes

Currently on the orange line traveling in the direction of Vienna and
surrounded by crazies. Seriously, I'm not being judgemental here. Any
psychologist would put both of these guys in a mental facility or at
least prescribe a heavy drug regime.

Crazy #1 talks really loudly, spouting off minute facts about Sesame
Street. I now proudly know that there was a special retrospective to
Mr. Hooper in 1983 after he died. Perhaps my favorite that came out of
his mouth was on the the new theater in Tyson's Corner.

"It's outrageous!"

Metro patron: "You mean expensive?"

"No. Outrageous, like in beautiful. It's beautiful."

Metro patron: "Oh."

"Outrageous. Jem...she's truly outrageous (he's singing, mind you).
Like that."

I swear he said just that. My lip throbbed just a tad as I bit down on
it to keep from laughing. I stopped laughing when he began to carry on
a conversation with himself in the mirror.

Crazy #2 had an obvious problem that he needed to share with the closest
metro employee. I didn't hear everything but evidently someone was near
him with a knife and he was afraid for his life. He also wanted to know
if it was ok to kill someone.

You can't make this shit up.

Tuesday, May 02, 2006

More geeky than freaky

Thanks to Netflix (and Steven and Charlie for the strong recommends) I watched the pilot episode of Freaks & Geeks last night. Immediately it became apparent that this was in fact a documentary shot at my high school. I found myself watching and trying to figure out which group I had fit into in high school. Freak...geek...popular...jock...no...no...no...no. I was a floater, a little bit of many. Band nerd and honor society convert, the geeks were my peeps. I dated the guy who would quote Star Trek (don't ask). Don't pigeonhole me though. My cynicism and hatred of the "system" also gave me a home with the freaks. Though too straightedge to ever fully join, I hovered around the perimeter, dabbling occasionally. Popular never really took hold, though I had remnant friends from my junior high days as a mainstream cheerleader wannabe. I'm embarrassed to say now because it makes me look like such a bitch, but I considered myself better them, so I didn't even try matriculating into their crowd.

I'm curious how a show with such a strong underground following and such a tap on reality didn't make it more than one season. Were the geeks who grew up to become producers and directors tired of having to relive their awkward youth on the small screen, or maybe the jock/bully/popular kids who morphed into shiny ad execs didn't want to see freak kids and geek kids up close and personal so ad dollars were lost. Like I said, I've only just begun but am stoked to stroll down memory lane, reliving real life through the kids of Freaks & Geeks.