Monday, October 31, 2005

Fools in love, are there any creatures more pathetic?

Yesterday evening I watched some of the best television currently on offer: West Wing, Desperate Housewives and Grey's Anatomy. A tour de force of drama, intrigue, comedy and romance. Yes, West Wing was better before they decided to focus on all of the people not in the White House (and Josh and Donna used to like to be in the same room). Indeed, the events on Wisteria Lane could be written better. But it's a fun night to relax, reconnect with friends, do a little cooking, cleaning or typing and escape--particularly to Seatle where intelligent/funny/good-looking hospital interns are the norm, a weekly blog-like voice over imparts wisdom for life and the OR and Dr. McDreamy may or may not make "right" decision and choose Meredith over his wife.
I spent the hour kidding myself. Dr. Sheppard made his choice, and as Meredith cried, "We can't just abandon her!" over and over again I began to wonder what it is about these characters and plots that I am willing to torment myself over (as do 85% of veiwers).
If I were ever asked, I might want to suggest that television producers stop tormenting the hearts of fans and young romantics with their drawn-out ill-fated relationship story lines. We're all waiting for that moment the two characters finally realize what we all know. The season and a half Pacey and Joey spent in each other's arms were the best Dawson's Creek had to offer (an opinion validated by the Series Finale); Ross and Rachel should have found happiness long before her impending trip to Paris--after all, they had a child together before their cathartic reunion; Dr. Ross and Nurse Calloway (ER--they had twins before he left and she "joined" him a season later), Harmon Rabb and Catherine MacKenzie (JAG--9 years, 3 or 4 other fiances and too many court room battles later), Zack and Kelly (Saved by the Bell)-- all of their romances were dragged out over years of my life. I can't get that back!
But I digress.
I would never actually want my favorite stories to rapidly resolve their central conflict. I know full well that, for yours truly, these are the very story lines I tune in to watch. I enjoy the other parts of the show as well, but these very primal and common stories are the ones that have held my attention for years.

At the end of the day faith is a funny thing. It turns up when you don't really expect it. It's like one day you realize that the fairy tale may be slightly different than you dreamed. The castle, well, it may not be a castle. And it's not so important happy ever after, just that its happy right now. See once in a while, once in a blue moon, people will surprise you , and once in a while people may even take your breath away. ~Dr. Meredith Grey

Friday, October 28, 2005

I'll never get old, Jack. I'll never get old.

I've recently been reminded of two things.
One: Great conversation should be highly valued. To find someone (or a group of someones) who can not only tolerate your tendency to skip from subject to subject with little or no warning but keep up and speak with authority whereever the stream of concious might swerve is rare. It's alot to ask of someone. "Hey, how about you jump on the moving train that is my mind as we race through a variety of topics including relationships, movies, careers, socio-economic and political theory, my history, the history of the world.... and, oh yeah, a few random tv, movie and music references!" Which is why I am so glad to find those people who are ready for the trip.
Two: I can no longer stay up until two o'clock in the morning on weekdays. The toll such college-life activity takes on the following workday is immeasurable--another casualty of growing older.

Monday, October 24, 2005

My gosh, don't you just know it

My sister has visited campus twice in my tenure here. The first time was in the middle of the hell that is the Senior Seminar. I was losing my mind, spent much of her stay holed up in my bedroom typing and consulting the portions of the library I had recently adopted. She sat on the couch (patiently, most of the time) watching movies, television, reading and conversing with my friends. I promised to take her to the Harbor, but as deadlines approached and I recinded the offer, claiming that the college town had so much more to offer. I was lying, and she knew it. But she was kind enough to play along, perhaps noting my slightly insane state and trying not to make any "sudden movements" that might set me off. Whatever the reason, she was kind enough to waste her Spring Break on my couch and I have felt nto just a little guilty since then.
Which is why I looked forward to her visit this past weekend. I wanted to show her all that I loved about Maryland and Baltimore; to give her a taste of the life I have grown to feel at home in. So, I over-planned. Movies, museums, parties, dinners out, lunches in, favorite stores, favorite roads, Mason (my favorite feline), friends and whatever other things she might want to do. Turns out she'd like to sit on my couch and watch a movie. So much for guilt.
I also look forward to visits with my sister because she inevitably introduces me to some great new music. This time was no different, and so I present The Streets:

Mike Skinner, 22, is the musical mastermind behind U.K. phenomenon The Streets. When you meet Mike, with his slight figure; gray hoodie, shiny white Nikes, and gentle Birmingham accent; the phrase 'bling bling' isn't what instantly springs to mind. His debut, Original Pirate Material is the next evolutionary leap for British urban music. It might not be the poppiest album you've ever heard, or the darkest, or the most likely to stir up pandemonium on the dance floor, yet Mike's MC chats offer unparalleled evocation of working class street life. The whole of Original Pirate Material is focused on the unglamorous existence of an Everykid played out between the sneaker store, the bus stop, the dealer's, McDonald’s, the club, the passenger seat of someone's car, and a session on the Playstation.
Conceived as a posse project when many of Mike’s early consorts were interested in taking part, The Streets became just Mike, and his keen eye on urban culture, since no one else could be bothered. As for the name, it came easily. "It's such a good name," he says, "because it's just what you see wherever you go; It's just working class England. It's not about trying to be ghetto; it's just normal for me. I never lived in a housing project, but I wasn't born with silver spoon in my mouth either."

You can check out the Streets at I suggest Fit but you know it as that has been my own introduction.

Friday, October 21, 2005

Why wouldn't we make it a musical?

Dear future boyfriend/husband/bedmate--
Along side my propensity for waking up believing I've entered a variety of galaxies far, far away, I have also developed a tendency to talk in my sleep. This is possibly because my dreams are so fantastic that I want to share them immediately. Or because I'm unconscious and have no idea what I'm doing. Please do not become alarmed/annoyed. This habit is another part of my charm.
Consider yourself warned.

I'm eager to admit it: I love The Daily Show. I think it's hilarious and fairly accurate account of some of the daily craziness in America. It's refreshing to pull back from the precipice of information overload and have someone say, "No, you're not taking crazy pills. That's really as messed up (illogical, ridiculous, etc.) as you think it is." The fake reports and reporters are pretty spectacular as well. This Week in God is a favorite, alongside Back in Black and Steve Courdry and Samantha Jones' "investigative" work. Messopotamia, Indecision 2004, and much, much more.
Which is why I was kinda looking forward to The Corbert Report. I viewed the show as a chance to extend one that I have wished numerous times was an hour long. However, I've been generally disappointed. Powazek echoes my thoughts in his Letter to Stephan Corbert. (Highlight: Steve, lemme ask you a question. You know how sometimes, on Saturday Night Live, they do a sketch with some dumb joke that goes on way too long? So long that, by the end, the audience is only laughing because they think it'll make them stop?)

Tuesday, October 18, 2005

Unholy intergalactic sexual congress

Knowing full well that finding my shoe size in a department store, or even at a shoe-specific retailer, is a bit of a crap shoot, I approach sales clerks fully loaded, shoving 9 or 10 shoes into their eagerly awaiting arms (there are always one or two that I adore, but years upon years of shoe shoppping have taught me not to let my hopes get too high). They are eager to please until I tell them the size (11) at which point their faces fall and they head to the stock room for a rather lengthy search. They may return with a pair or two, maybe in a different color than I've requested. They may come out and, with a semi-hopeful but mostly deflated smile, offer a smaller size (which, I can tell you, is not an option when we're talking about heels). More often then not, they come back, throw their hands in the air and simply shake their heads. I don't really get disappointed anymore--it's a game we play--the internet has done wonderful things for large- (and small-) footed shoe buyers. And, before you start thinking about, or laughing at my "freakishly large" feet please note that I could easily begin a shoe exchange with Paris Hilton-- a bit In Her Shoes, but that is neither here or there.
The ultimate point to this report is that I have taken my shoe buying strategy to the library with mixed results. As I come across new releases or suggested titles in various litblogs (, the litblog co-op, the elegant variation, vagablogging, etc.) I order them through the county's public library system. Inevitably, someone has what I'm looking for--but there is always some question of when I'll receive notice of its arrival. So, I order everything in the hopes that something will show up soon. Generally the system works rather well, and I've been wittling away at the "to be read" pile composed of recent acquisitions, books borrowed from friends and library loans. However, yesterday I received three of the books I've been *dying* to get my hands on--and now I don't know where to begin. I stare at them and they stare right back chanting "Read me! Read me!" like Munchkins starved for attention. "No!" I cry. "I have work to do!" But the chanting continues.
Then I remember that I'm alone in my apartment and that books don't talk-- but you get the picture.
So, I thought I'd share my delema--and my "to be read" list:
The Lovely Bones, Alice Sebold
The Kite Runner, Khaled Hosseini
The Historian, Elizabeth Kostova
Holy Cow, Sarah Macdonald
A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius, Dave Eggers
Picture of Dorian Grey, Oscar Wilde
I, Lucifer, Glen Duncan
Hope and Other Dangerous Pursuits, Laila Lalami
Case Histories, Kate Atkinson
Adventures of a Continental Drifter: An Around-The-World Excursion Into Weirdness, Danger, Lust, and the Perils of Street Food, Elliot Hesser

Saturday, October 15, 2005

When are we gonna re-evaluate our decision-making paradigm?

Things I learned this week (a short list):
Monday: I have a problem with the scientific method--it doesn't take our subjective observations and hunches into account the way it should. I know it's done great things for the hard sciences but something about using it to study human behavior/interactions doesn't sit right with me. Also, statistics need not be as scary as many of us believe.

Tuesday: (1) I adore page-design as much (if not more) as I did in high school. (2) I miss Dr. House much more than I should.

Wednesday: Ignoring the Bourne Identity has been an ill-advised and unwise decision on my part. Mason and I spent 2 hours absolutely riveted by Clive Owen's (aka The Professor) attempts to assasinate the title character. *Sigh* He really is fantastic--and I suppose that Damon person's not too shabby either.

Thursday: The cat does not appreciate being kneed in the head whilst he sleeps--'nuff said.

Friday: My true calling: restaurant critic. When not listening to or conversing with a friend and her parents over dinner I "kept score" awarding points and noting "demerits." Service:6. Food: 8.5. Also, Sahara (which came somewhat highly recommended to me by two of the prominent men in my life-- I belive their exact words were: "You've got to come downstairs and see this! It's great fun!) is a rather terrible film. I suspect I was not the target audience, but the plot was ridiculous and all of the "beautiful people" were inexplicably horrid-looking.

Saturday: Mason has a thing for Matt Damon... or perhaps just Jason Bourne. While he generally ignores/scratches me until I put him into solitary for the duration of a film, he actually curled up and "watched" both Bourne films. Weird. Very weird.

Wednesday, October 12, 2005

The morning's gone, all dreamed away

I am a middle-of-the-day person. Most mornings, I manage to pull myself out of bed around 7:20am, stumble about the apartment for a bit and become fully human somewhere about 8:00am (though not a critical thinking human). Generally, barring meetings and interruptions, I am fully ensconced in whatever I'm working on by noon, and tend to lose track of time for 6-7 hours--yesterday I missed a meeting at 1 because I forgot to look at the clock between 12 and 2, but I got alot done. In the evening, I concentrate on catching up with friends, planning for the next day, and non-work related activities until my brain shuts down (approx. 11pm) and I head for bed.
There are the weeks that aren't very productive. Time passes and I have nothing to show for it. I hate those weeks.
And, occassionally, there are mornings when getting up "on time" doesn't happen. My current schedule allows some flexibility in this department, but I worry a bit about "the real world" and a the time to come when other people will expect my clock to reset itself to their needs. For example, when the cat annoys me in the middle of the night (out of hunger or sheer boredom) I pick him up, throw him in the other room and shut the door. Children are not so easily ignored. Husbands are not so quick to forgive just because you feed them. Bosses don't really care when your "productive time" is--the office is only open from such a time to such a time and that is when you have to work.
And I know I'll have to adjust...I'm just not looking forward to it.

Thursday, October 06, 2005

Fido alerts upon the locker

September's like summer,
But the nights are like fall
Tell me your fall stories
~Girlyman, Fall Stories

October is upon us, more quickly than I expected. No longer are we "getting into the swing of things." No, no: we are, indeed, swinging. Work comes in work goes out. I never really feel as though I am actually caught up... and then more work comes in. It's a cycle, like most things.
I used to say that I hated the autumn because I am a fan of definates. Spring and fall always seemed like indecisive seasons-- the kind that make planning your wardrobe and activities uber-difficult. Now, I look forward to this time of year. Even though time seems to be speeding up and the "to do" list continues to get longer, fall offers me the chance to go out for one more lazy afternoon walk before it is too cold/snowy/icy. The leaves really are as beautiful as people say they are--I just have to take the time to look up. And there is that distinctive fall smell--some combination of dried leaves, moss, wool and spice.
This is not to suggest that I have begun to romanticize the change in season beyond reason. My climate control doesn't do what it should: control the climate. I go to bed too hot and wake up far too cold. My skin has gotten scratchy and dry, as though the baseboard heating had been turned on (it hasn't) and I'll have to refill my allergy medicine soon. My hair is begging for some TLC and has begun of shedding and building a "winter coat" (a process left over from our days of true mammeldom when we lived outside, ate berries and killed things with clubs). The season definately has its downers... but not so many as to make it completely unenjoyable.
The "spirit" of the holidays has hit early this year. I am already excited about the get togethers and reunions of the next three months. I'm slowly finding ways to weave my own memories and traditions into my current life. I'm even excited about Halloween: trick-or-treaters, pumpkins, decorating, haunted houses, scary movies.... not a bad list for someone who genrally loathes All Hallows Eve.
As my life changes (be it in location, career, relationships or any other of a myriad of possibilities) I'm finding that it is the friendships, family, celebrations and traditions that help to hold it together. At a time when everything is new, it is comforting to find familiarity. And when you can't find it, sometimes you can create it.
October's poplars are flaming torches lighting the way to winter. ~Nova Bair

Monday, October 03, 2005

We built on the river....

It seems that whenever I have a lot to mull over I start cleaning like a mad-woman. Somehow, removing hidden dust-bunnies, re-alphabitizing my CD's, DVD's and books and cleaning out my closets helps to clear my head, organize my thoughts and make decisions. So, when I found myself rearranging my furniture at 4 am (Friday/Saturday) I wasn't so much surprised as pleased-- the wheels were churning.
I found myself in quite the quandary: Should I do the frugal thing and stay in the next evening, or take advantage of the chance to see one of my favorite musicians live? I know, I know-- not the most taxing question (quite simple, in the end), but it was underlying--and old-- issues that kept me awake moving heavy bookshelves about the apartment.
I was introduced to Dar Williams, by chance, back before illegal downloading was really illegal. I had done a search for a song (I don't know which) and found a cover by Dar. I remember listening once and immediately downloading anything I could find. Her voice was mesmorizing, but, more so, her lyrics often spoke the words I couldn't find. As one of the more defining relationships of my life came to a close, she comforted, gave advice and offered hope. It was like finding an older, cooler sister who understood how I felt, even though it didn't make sense that anyone else could.
Over time, the songs I love have changed. At first, it was Spring Street with its reference to my own coping mechanism ("I was too happy driving, and too angry to drive home") and the promise of starting over. Next, The Christians and the Pagans offered my roommate and I a humorous holiday anthem. As Cool as I Am followed with the empowering lines ("I don't know what you saw, I want somebody who sees me"). I connected with the narrators of Iowa ("How I long to fall, just a little bit, to dance out of the lines and stray from the light. But I fear that to fall in love with you is to fall from a great and gruesome height") and The Ocean--the song from which this blog receives its title. And there are the songs already posted here... Reflections of where I'm at and where I've been. Dar has taught me to laugh at myself, to trust in friendship (again, and again) and to recognize that it is no accident that the current picture of my "ideal man"--a rather well-bred, well-mannered modern Neanderthal-- looks the way he does. And so (of course) I decided to see Dar live.
On three hours sleep I headed to B-more to visit with friends over a trip to the local market and a wonderful breakfast. I made my way to DC in the afternoon for the first--and, possibly, final-- crabfest of the year (which is Okay, because they were the most wonderful crabs ever!). I hopped the metro with Lizzie, and found myself at the 9:30 Club waiting for the opening act (Girlyman-- who were very, very good!) to hurry up and start so that Dar could take the stage.
And then she did. Although the set was a little new-song-heavy, I enjoyed the entire hour and a half we spent together. I stood less than twenty feet from the woman who had held my hand through most of my recent emotional education... and the fact that we will never really know each other doesn't really matter. It's a priceless connection, and I am forever grateful.

But that is more than enough sappy introspection for one week... After all, I have a thesis to write.... And closets that need cleaning!
P.S. Serenity was wonderful! I actually enjoyed myself throughout (most) of the movie. I don't want to give anything away, but you should definitely see it.... And I'll write more after I see it a second time!