Some random bits

July 30, 2007

Seems as though I have been tagged by Karen to supply eight random things about myself.  This is my first time being tagged so please bear with me:

  1. I love to play volleyball, especially on the beach.  I have spent more than ten hours in a day playing in a tournament and would welcome the opportunity to play the next day!
  2. I started a book club a little more than a year ago after hearing Azar Nafisi speak about her book Reading Lolita in Tehran.  Very inspiring! If you’d like to see what we are reading next, check it out here.  Read any of these books?
  3. I’ve spent long periods of time in silence at a couple of different meditation centers.  If you would like a challenge, try 9+ days of no talking, eye contact, reading or writing, waking up at 4AM and spending 8+ hours in meditation.  Coming out I always feel refreshed and the mind has a certain quality of stillness.
  4. My wife and I met on a blind date about five years ago.  We were joined by a father and son, G worked with the father and I worked with the son.  What luck!
  5. As part of a longer trip I once hiked 33 consecutive miles with three other foolhardy hikers.  We were on the Appalachian Trail in a section fondly named the “Tennessee Turnpike” thanks to the forgiving terrain and gradual elevation changes.  Our plan: to time it perfectly for a hearty breakfast in Damascus Virginia at 6AM after an all night hike.  Our reality: due to excitement we arrived at 3:30AM to a deserted town, very hungry, tired and in need of showers.  We had to wait.  For the record I hiked with (trail names) Zippy, Ishmael, Dharma Bum a.k.a. Bunny Luv and I was Moonlight.
  6. I have a penchant for a nice cool Mango Lassi and am not afraid to travel great distances to sup of that nectar.
  7. I love audiobooks for my car ride to and from work and I am on the last of the Lord of the Rings trilogy. Go Frodo!
  8. I once pranced around a beach in Northern California under a full moon that transformed driftwood into ancient whale bones.  The passing clouds would throw us into momentary darkness only to re-emerge in shimmering light.

There are rules to being tagged but I will forego the passing of the virtual baton.  If you feel so inspired to take part and post eight random things about yourself leave the link in the comments and I will check it out.  Thank you Karen, this exercise was fun and illuminating!

We love to watch

July 29, 2007

The Culture of Celebrity. Even as I flip through the Startracks of People magazine and look at Gwyneth in Central Park or Demi and Ashton at a Lakers game I wonder to myself: what is the attraction?  Why do I care about what these people so removed from my life are doing on a Sunday morning outside of their residence?  What is the thrill I feel to know that this seemingly untouchable persona has a couple of rolls around the belly?

This was going to start out as a diatribe against the silly fascination we have with the celebrated among us.  The celebs who are famous for being famous, in trouble again as the whole nation watches on.  But I realize that an attack is ill-founded.  Just because I cannot completely grasp the allure of the famous Other does not mean that I cannot identify with that impulse to know what TomKat are up to.  Its like this: I don’t really care but I kinda do.

And I think my attitude is indicative of the culture we have created that loves its celebrities even though they may have their relapses or wasteful predilections.  Lindsey is back in trouble (Who would have thought?), Paris learned her lesson (Or did she?) and Oprah has discovered the Ultimate Diet (Wickedly awesome!).  What am I getting at?  When we look at them we don’t have to look at ourselves.  When enough of us look in the direction of the same person then their is justification for attention misplaced.  We have something to talk about and (Yeah!) it doesn’t really involve us but we can feel passionate about it.  Paradoxically we feel closer to life as we look outward.

I was going to write more but I have to see if Barry and his big muscles can put another one into the right field bleachers.  I don’t want to be the only one not watching.

A wicked way with words

July 21, 2007

Totally wicked!

When I first heard that phrase I stopped short.  The friend who said it was referring to a skateboarder who just pulled off a difficult maneuver.  This flipping of the board and landing on it did in no way seem of ill intent or even the outcome of a deal with the devil.  I immedietly realized that I was being blessed with an expansion of the English language.  More specifically the word ‘wicked’ now had a new connotation apt to replace the likes of ‘cool’ and ‘awesome’.  Wicked had entered a new land, had been given a chance to reinvent himself.  (Today Wicked is a he) And here is what Wicked did:

Striking out in the early morning Wicked crept out of his hovel and, taking few belongings, left his home.  Now Wicked was not used to freedom, having for so long been relegated to the tired paths of evil and wrongdoing.  His life fell to the mercy of human expression and words spoken and written always kept him in the same place.  Wicked was a bad boy.  But on this one very special day his black tendencies were introduced a new wrinkle. 

Aiden McGee, watching his friend do a two rotation kick flip on his skateboard, exclaimed, “Man that was totally wicked!”.  Aiden had no idea the event he had set in motion.  Other teens were nearby and their non-conformist follower antennae sprung to attention at this most unusual proclamation.  For some this transference of information was unconscious.  For others the combination of totally and wicked in reference to something cool sent shivers up their pimply backs.

Wicked’s world changed forever.  No longer stuck to hanging out with the malicious and the malevolent, Wicked was welcomed by awesome, sweet and fresh faces.  Instead of plotting to take over the world Wicked met up with his buddies to surf the crystal liquid of the California coast.  Rather than releasing flying monkeys on an unsuspecting band of travelers Wicked took his mountain bike off-road to catch air on some narly curves.  Yes Wicked had changed his ways.

Still he had to attend to some of his old duties.  As the new Wicked swept through the younger humans, older voices and pens were still defining him in the same well-trodden way.  Wicked would have to follow that path when asked to upkeep his evil beginnings.  But it was different now.  He didn’t have to always play that same role and could act out different versions of himself.  Thanks to luck or fate he could now brainwash millions and still pull off the sweetest kick-flip this side of Dover Avenue.

More ways to be wicked…

Hair it is

July 13, 2007

My senior year of high school I stopped cutting my hair.  Besides the occasional trimming the wavy locks were allowed free reign to blanket my shoulders and back.  My mom was none too pleased and my siblings were wondering what could have gotten into my head to allow that bush to flourish with abandon.

Things calmed down and that included my mane.  With more length the curls were subdued by gravity’s force and I celebrated the day when those first strands actually stayed behind the ears they were tucked.  Entering college my hair represented the awakening reinvention of this nest-dwelling boy into an independent reckless man.  The hair thumbed its kinkiness at the Man and was a signpost to others that this individual was willing to defy some of society’s expectations.

Collegiate women found this long hair appealing and at times would seek me out because of this lone characteristic.  Sensing a good thing more hair grew upon the chin and sides of the face.  A surprising gush of Irish red below the mouth complemented the flowing browness on top.  The wildness of my appearance began to influence my inner convictions. (Or did it work the other way around?)

I became a beacon for and sought out all things that my hair represented: drugs aplenty, parties til early morn, taking chances just because they were there.  I became more free of movement and speech but only when those intoxicants found there way into my system.  I thought that because I looked different than most of my peers I was by default different.  But I too was caught up in the frivolity of numbing the senses just because I could.  My hair was a reminder that I was willing to take that next step into the void but really I was holding back from facing the truths of my being:

I did not need alcohol to speak deeply about my feelings.

My outward “look” was inconsequential.

Long hair clogs the shower drain much faster than short hair.

The shorning of the once fair head of hair I gave as a gift to my mother on my 24th birthday.  She cut with abandon.  She shaved with glee.  We went out to celebrate at a Steak house and I marveled in my vegetarian irony.  I could feel the wind on my scalp and my mom said that my sparkling blue eyes were no longer hidden behind my unruly locks.

For more strands of hair…

Slippin’

July 7, 2007

A few weeks back G and I were invited to an afternoon party of food and volleyball.  Hot and humid, the sun beat down upon us as we shared the different dishes we brought and gulped our water and sodas.  The last guests to show up became the heroes of the party as they presented to the hosts a box depicting water and kids with the large words SLIP N’ SLIDE.

Now I don’t know if anyone else out there has ever partaken in this wet and wild backyard event but it is an experience worth exploring.  Picture plastic laid out over grass and an attached tube running up the side with pinprick holes that allow water to sprout like tiny fountains.  Bodies being launched haphazardly as water splashs up and soaks onlookers.  Facial contortions mingling between pleasure and shock as slipperiness introduces free movement with accompanying awkward limb arrangements.

Please before you decide to make a run towards the plastic remember to let the surface gather enough moisture to prevent friction from stopping you immediately.  This particular set had two “runways” that permitted dual launching of bodies into soggy gliding bliss.

Pick a partner say one, two, THREE and you are off!

A piece of advice: Do a trial run without much speed to test the amount of distance covered:  when the plastic ends there is grass (or worse) that will now be your high-speed means of transport.  Green stains on the chest or back are funny for only a moment.

Second piece of advice: When going tandem with a partner remember to keep arms and legs straight in front and behind lest you find a toe in your eye or your hand on a bottom.

Lastly: This is the summertime-have some fun!

Anyone else have experiences with this oft-forgotten warm weather companion?  (If you don’t recognize the slip n’ slide brand name perhaps you recall plastic rolled out and a garden hose?)

For more slipperiness…