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OBLIGATORY HOLIDAY UPDATE

Morro Rock
Oh man, it's been so long. Here is the long & the short of things.

1. It's me & Esme's second Christmas together & this year we will be spending it in the Central Valley w/her family. We launch tomorrow & return Sunday. Visalia isn't the most glamorous place to visit, but I love it down there & I'm so excited about spending Christmas with her family.

2. Most everyone who drops by probably knows by now, but we were engaged in late October on a trip home to New York. :) I asked behind a Gatsbyesque gold coast castle & she said yes. We're getting married in the fall (probably late September). Exciting times, these are.

3. I always do the Best Albums of 2010 thing, & this year was no exception. I just did them over at Tiger Attack Twins instead. You see that link up there? Click it. Then you will get to read all about what was great in the music world this year.

4. I really need to keep this as more of a dream journal. For example, the other night I had a really incredible dream that Esme & I were in my hometown, only there was a freeway running through the heart of it, right near my house. From a hillside next to the freeway, we looked at several of the houses nearby & all of them had snow leopards sunning themselves on their rooftops. Like, multiple snow leopards. 10+, easy. It was crazy. I have also been dreaming a lot about big huge houses that are split into apartments, & in various dreams we're living in different units, each of them cavernous & full of rooms, some of them light & some of them dark. I was also having a lot of zombie dreams, but that is likely due to the fact that I was watching too much of "The Walking Dead." Dreams are crazy, awesome things.

5. Happy Holidays, here watch a video for the absolute worst Christmas song ever recorded.

Bizarre Dream, 9/9/10

Wheats
I'm in Oakland with Esme, right off a freeway in a neighborhood exploding with growth. Condos, coffee shops, a thriving main artery of a street. Several friends had moved there. It's dense and walkable and very nice. We're exploring the neighborhood, getting lost on all the side streets. Suddenly there is a mushroom cloud in the western sky. Everyone is panicking, & I seem to be the only one who knows it's just a movie. It's as if someone dropped down a giant screen from above & was showing a very realistic looking film of a nuclear blast upon it. No one seems willing to believe that this isn't really happening.

I'm in a library, in the stacks. All the walls are glass. I'm climbing up, up, up. I'm with a climbing coach. It is really important that I make it to the top, he says. Giant wood blocks protrude from the stacks, like a life-sized game of jenga. I fall & hurt myself.

Now I'm in a restaurant with Esme, unhurt. My friend Daren is there, standing by the door as the bright fluorescent orange movie-sky lights up the front windows, & traffic moves as normal along the street outside. There is a podium at the back of the restaurant. Morgan & Melanie, a couple we're friends with, are standing there. They started clapping. All the people turn around & look at me. They begin to clap, too. They're presenting me with an award...something based upon me being a nice guy. Quite literally, it's a Nice Guy Award. I accept it, surprised & humbled, & give a speech. I head to the front of the restaurant. My father runs from a patch of trees down a hill. He's chasing a deer.

I wake up.

TWO DREAMS

Morro Rock
Dream #1: I am standing outside of a darkened cathedral. Vast pipes rise up in front of it, & dense fog is pouring out. The air pressure seems to drop as I look up at its spires. I have a sinking feeling. Across the street is a tall viewing platform built almost like scaffolding. On it sit a bunch of dignitaries dressed in turn of the century (1900s) attire. They are wearing black clothing, mostly, & they're completely silent & still. They are watching the cathedral intently, & no one breaks to look down or move around. As I stand there, a door to the basement opens & a bright light comes from it. A tour group is about to enter. I stay behind.

Dream #2: I'm at the beach in a large hall about 50 yards from the waves. It's a marketplace. I walk to the ocean. It's filled with antiques & other items -- a rummage sale in the waves. I enter the water looking for finds, but only have a few seconds before the next punishing wave slams into me. The waves roll all the way back to the hall 50 yards back, & each time the hall is nearly filled with water. I'm grabbing boxes of things from the waves & getting carried into the hall with them. I'm stashing my finds on a ledge near the ceiling. The more prized the find is, the harder the wave will crash into me.

RE: QUEST

Morro Rock
I've decided to fulfill a personal request (it was sort of a plea, almost) from my brother, who asked me to update ye olde eljay during a telephone conversation last night.

Kipp, this one's for you.

While I'm here I may as well deliver a few newsworthy nuggets.

1. I got a new job. On March 29th, I'll be starting up with a very small boutique pr & marketing firm which serves green/sustainable/clean tech-focused clients. They're called Blue Practice, & are based in downtown SF, so my commute will only be moving a few blocks away. It's a pretty big change for me, but I'm really excited about it. This will bring me a lot closer to my journalism roots & allow me to continue to foster (ie. geek out over) my environmental/technological side.

2. The weather in San Francisco has been SERIOUSLY INCREDIBLE the past week or so. I'm not even kidding. This is full-on spring fever weather up in hurr.

3. This week I have dressed in a 70s wool suit twice (once for a dual birthday/house party for two good friends, & the other time for a different birthday/house party for a friend which so happened to be 70s themed...what are the chances?), run the Lyon Street Steps top to bottom 5 times in a row, drank some green beer, & witnessed, via the magic of the internets, two incredible feats in the animal kingdom: a surfing alpaca & a skateboarding owl. You might say it's been a good week for me & extreme sports-playing animals alike.

4. Today I bought a Fuji Instax Camera from Photojojo via Tumblr, & I am currently coveting a very special coffee mug (see below).



That's my update for now. I hope you're well, lj-land.

THE DREAM OF TIRES

Gothic
I was meeting a friend (a buddy from college) at a restaurant located on a rural country road. I parked my car down the block & walked up to it. When I got back, the doors & hood were open. A dude was standing nearby. He had switched out his well-worn tires for my new ones, & refused to give them back. Somehow, this had made the car undriveable. It was a fact in my dream that if I were to take the car out onto the freeway, I would blow out a tire. I was really mad, & getting to the point where I was trying to fight this man.

I woke up before I was able to retrieve my tires.

YEAR 1

Amber field
There's been one emotion that keeps turning up in my life over & over again lately, & that emotion is disbelief. It isn't the kind of disbelief that's tinged along its edges with sarcasm or outrage, but the early stages of a real genuine, Talking Heads' "Once in a Lifetime"-style internal dialogue. It's big & it's beautiful & it is swirling around my Peter Pan tights, which are hung up neatly on a hanger at the ready (for those extremely rare moments when thirty-somethings everywhere need a hero).

It's been one year since I went to a party at the Big Blue House & saw a pretty girl that I did not know just milling around in the kitchen all cute-like. Naturally, I was pretty offended by this. Some rando girl who just happens to be super adorable has the AUDACITY to just be hanging out in my house -- MY HOUSE -- & I didn't know her? Nuh-uh. It was some kind of crazy affront that I was going to get to the bottom of. Yes I was. And yes, I did.

I walked up to her & just started talking. In all honesty, I don't think she had bargained for some rare breed of lunatic to harass her that particular evening, because she swiftly departed for the restroom & said she'd be right back. Yes, that's usually the kiss of death, but I'm pretty stubborn & I didn't have anywhere else in particular to be, so I stayed put just in case of the very slim chance that she actually wasn't trying to shake me off. So imagine my surprise when she came right back & started talking to me. An epic conversation about music (what else?) ensued, & some time later in the night (though it felt very short), she told me she had to leave. Still clinging to my overconfidence, I flat-out demanded that she give me her number so we could plan on going to some shows together, then I walked her to the door & stole a kiss. Sneak attack...it's pretty much the only way I don't get shot down.

The rest, as they say, is history. Our first year together has FLOWN by. We've met each other's families (multiple times!), moved into our own apartment together, & talked about the future. That's not quite right. We didn't just talked about THE future, we talked about OUR future.

I could cite a thousand special moments spent with this woman I love. The best thing of all, though, is that we've grown so much together. I've learned a lot about myself through her (mostly good, but she's also not afraid to occasionally hold up a mirror to my bad habits -- of which there are more than a few). We care about each other, & it translates effortlessly into a million little mostly indescribable things. It's in the way we put the toothpaste on both toothbrushes, even if one of us is lagging behind schedule in getting ready for work in the morning or bed at night. It's in the way we invent theme songs; mine excel if they're sung like R Kelly or Michael McDonald, & hers frequently take the form of slightly off-key twee versions of unwritten showtunes. When theme songs won't suffice, a carefully placed short burst catch-phrase will do (a personal favorite of mine is when Esme declares "chi-cken-guts! drive-me-nuts!"). It's in the way she lets me know she's hungry by gnawing on my arm, sometimes like it's corn on the cob, & sometimes like a hunk of meat. It can be painful, but it's always funny. It's in the way she will randomly start sniffing my ear like a puppydog. If her nose were wet, I wouldn't be able to tell the difference. We travel well together, we sleep well together, we work well together, & although we don't always speak the same language, we're striving to get fluent in one another's chosen dialect. What more could a lucky man like me ask for? I'm pretty stoked that I get to love this woman.











TOP TEN ALBUMS OF 2009

Amber field
The year's over already? Wow, that was fast. Here's my favorite new stuff that got shoved into my ears this year. Editor's Note: there's a huge huge write-up here, but my personal Top 10 list would probably look like this.

10. The Dodos - "Time to Die" (it's a grower)
9. Phosphorescent - "To Willie" (willie nelson covers -- tear-jerkers & barn-burners alike!)
8. Neon Indian - "Psychic Chasms" (remember that time you left that tape on the front seat of your car & it got all warped?)
7. The xx - "xx" (paint the walls black & lie in bed all day)
6. Japandroids - "Post-Nothing" (burn off that unwanted teen angst with the japandroids air guitar workout!)
5. Diplo X Santogold - "Top Ranking" (are you ready to go out? you are now)
4. jj - "jj n° 2" (a beautiful record about love + loss + drugs + death)
3. Neko Case - "Middle Cyclone" (neko outdoes herself again -- so so beautiful)
2. Grizzly Bear - "Veckatimest" (the bear gits legit)
1. Animal Collective - "Merriweather Post Pavilion" (like "the truman show" set in the forest)

Honorable Mentions
Andrew Bird - "Noble Beast" (liked it, but not as much as past Bird efforts)
Akron/Family - "Set 'Em Wild, Set 'Em Free" (ditto this, but they're amazing live)
Dirty Projectors - "Bitte Orca" (i'm really starting to love this record, problem is i only just wrapped my ears around it for the first time a few weeks ago)
Discovery - "LP" (it's got its share of gems, but not nearly enough great moments throughout)

THE OBLIGATORY ADULTHOOD REALIZATION

Morro Rock
Hey kids! It's been awhile huh? I'm going to try & stop by with some more frequency, I promise.

There's something that's been on my mind of late & I want to start by saying this: I've found the divide. I've walked up to it, looked across to the other side, walked the edge a bit, & I'm curious. This is the divide between my usual approach (unfailing positivity) & the OTHER side, a practical & realistic daily outlook. It's been an argument of mine for...well, MANY years...that people who claim to be realists are actually usually pessimists in disguise. And that's true pretty often, because let's face it, most things in life don't come easy. So, this "walkabout" is pretty uncharacteristic of me, being a Mr.Sunshine-type personality (not in an annoying way (I hope), but more like, hey, a great idea would be if... & in just those three little dots would be a specific way in which the world could be a better place, according to me).

You see, when given the choice to view the world from the perspective of 'What is Possible' Vs the perspective of 'What Is', I don't just prefer the former, I lean on it...I trust in its strength. The issue here is this: Maybe I should be the one GIVING it that strength in the first place. IT should be leaning on ME. Wouldn't that make more sense? Now, I'm not sure how best to make this change. Change is NOT, as it turns out, my forte'. But it occurred to me recently that it could be just as simple as shifting my weight around (the backswing of that thought is that it could be pretty complex & turn parts of my life upside-down...oy vey). I really do need to get good at this making changes thing. I'm a sucker for a routine, for little nuggets of happiness that are easy to find because they've always been there waiting for me to pick up on my well-worn path.

Not so long ago, I was an unstoppable force of creativity...a raging river of ideas, a bouncing electron. I feel like I'm slowly getting back to that of late. I'm older & calmer & slightly more poised now, so I hope this doesn't come in the form of a torrent of big ideas. A manageable meandering stream will do for me now. What I'm looking for is this:
The type of creativity that comes with times of uncertainty
- the times of uncertainty
+ the comfort & grace that come with adulthood
__________________________________________________
(INSERT ANSWER HERE)

And before we go any further, I do have a few questions.
1. Is that comfort & grace an illusion, or some fuzzy story we tell ourselves when we think of our parents when we were young?
2. Is it something we've culled from the combination of movies & advertisements?
3. Does it come as a sort of packaged deal with great quantities of money?
4. Do Age & Wisdom happen naturally together, or does one really have to work at the latter?

Most of my childhood memories are pretty pleasant, & in them my parents more or less had things figured out pretty well.
5. Does that make me a revisionist historian?

I'm not trying to get all heavy on ya'll or anything. These are just things I wonder as I start to peek around the bend past the old "what happens this weekend" & "what happens this summer" line of thinking into real structural questions. How & where & with what will I build my future?

REGARDING THE LESSONS OF 9/11

Amber field
Okay, we all know what today is. We all know it's a significant date to us, & we spend a whole lot of time reluctantly reminiscing, reflecting on thoughts & feelings, & then re-burying those reflections in the name of not empowering the twisted ethos of terrorism. I hate feeling a single ounce of cynicism towards what is arguably the single darkest day in our nation's young history, but the fact of the matter is that I do. Maybe it's a backlash to the over-politicizing of the early '00s, the blind flag waving, the utter lack of genuine reflection from the leadership of the previous administration. Maybe it's a reluctance to do any real soul searching of my own. I don't quite know.

When people talk about Never Forgetting & parrot those who speak of the Lessons of 9/11, I can't help but cringe. WHAT ARE the lessons of 9/11? Are they personal? Are they deep-rooted in society. Are they ethical? Everyone has a different opinion on what these lessons are, but all I ever hear about is the Never Forgetting. How can you not forget a lesson without knowing what that lesson is in the first place?

The very model of our modern society is inherently flawed. The direction in which we've turned the ship -- away from small & flat, away from working hard for yourself & your family, towards a large, hulking pyramid scheme of consumption, irresponsibility on the personal & professional level, & buck-passing -- to me, seems like the wrong direction. That's only part of the problem, though. The remainder of that problem has to do with our indifference, our diffidence, our distracted, over-connected reliance on innovation & shiny new things to come & save the day. I hate it as much as I admire it, though. That ingenuity & willingness to work hard for big ideas & better ideals is like a torch in the dark night sky of this nation right now. But that underlying principle, PROFIT, is a strong breeze, a driving rain in the face of it.

I'm not trying to come across as some radical here. Shit, I don't have the wherewithal or the patience to sink into that kind of lifestyle. I'm not built for it. I just think that there is SO MUCH time wasted spent talking about that which does not matter & will never matter, & NOT ENOUGH time spent trying to actually make things better for the masses. I'm not talking about Socialism, per se. I'm talking about something more like Centrism. Maybe not exactly that either, but something like it.

I want my country to be the kind of place where Social & Environmental Justice can be actualized. Where a kid can get a decent education & a teacher a decent wage for that matter. Where people eat mindfully because they can afford to & know what is nutritious & what isn't. Where corporations are run with a conscience, not their bottom line or profit margin or the value of their stock. Where people can live a comfortable life by working hard & striving to better themselves, & where people decide that hard work for the good of the masses is a better path than stabbing the backs of those in their way to get to the top of the mountain alone.

Right now, Heath Care is in poor shape. Public Education is broken. Our economy & industries are badly beaten & limping. And yet we stubbornly insist that America is the greatest country on God's green Earth. Speaking of, I'm sorry but have we proven lately that we have an ounce of respect for God's green Earth? There's a swirling patch of garbage larger than Texas floating out in the Pacific Ocean right now. How many of us care that WE caused that? How many of us even KNOW about it in the first place?

We are too busy investing in Stuff to take time to care for our People. When the value of an iPhone becomes greater than that of a human being, we have a problem. We have lost touch with our humanity. We have forgotten how to respect one another, to respect the land, to protect & preserve, to conserve & sacrifice. These are words that our grandparents knew well, words that we no longer seem to understand.

So before we talk about how magical & special the human condition is, let's realize that simply loving freedom harder will not make us a better country. If you want to make a difference, start convincing others to make a difference too. Revolution & change doesn't start at the top, it starts at the bottom.

Right now, from where I stand, 9/11 didn't change much. So if you want not to lose the lessons of that terrible day, it's time to cut through all the dramatics & get to work. Our ghosts will be our ghosts, & only time will take care of that. If we're going to take *anything* out of this tragedy, ever, we're going to need to change the game first.

OFF TUESDAY

Sonoma
I had yesterday off & accomplished the following things.

1. Picked up car from mechanic.
2. Changed car registration address @ DMV.
3. Changed mailing addresses with bank/credit cards.
4. Car wash & fillup.
5. Appointment with the dentist.
6. Made a run to Goodwill w/donations.
7. Got neighborhood parking pass @ DPT.
8. Cleaned up more stuff @ the Peach Pit (my old house).
9. Made a second run to Goodwill w/more donations.
10. Romantic dinner of burritos & beer @ the laundrymat w/Esme (while washing clothes of course).

Maybe my most productive Tuesday ever when you consider that I successfully navigated through the treacherous minefields of TWO city agencies. It's also definitely making me realize that life WITH a car can also make things INCONVENIENT. Oh, & also expensive. Not that I'm complaining.

I think we all know that the physical act of moving sucks. But it does feel pretty awesome moving into a place you love with a person you love, especially when you know you're almost completely done with the process. Proper hunkering will commence soon, I can feel it.

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