A start date

This morning, on the most unusually quick commute to my client’s office ever in all my times of driving it, I passed a giant billboard on the side of the highway, with a Fidelity ad on it that read something like: “Give your daydreams a start date.” I began thinking about where start dates are relevant, and where I am most sensitive when I consider taking a break in my career to travel: a curriculum vitae, a CV, a dossier, a résumé . It’s true – because of my college major in and current career in business, this is a field where people apparently do care about CV’s a great deal when it comes to taking steps in a career.

 photo rude.gif

I want to take time off to travel, but there is hesitation about not staying in the work force while I do it. I’m in a constant state of “weighing my options,”and that ad provoked me to consider what my travels would look like if I just plugged them into my CV after I hypothetically gave my day job an end date. It would feel amazing to be just as proud of time in my CV spent developing myself, not through a job, but through growth from exposure to new people, places, and things. Real development and on-the-job(life) learning, daily practice at cultural competency and seeing things many people wouldn’t normally get to see. Why can’t that be just as respected as a length of time at any firm or company, where you’re stuck behind a desk? What’s so terrible about nature’s office space, huh?

If you think about it, I think travels should be completely relevant on a CV, especially if you take your travels seriously and have a passion for it. It too demonstrated advancement of self and refinement of skills. Navigation. Communication. Exhilaration. It also means you’re constantly outside your comfort zone, agile and adaptable to new environments, and almost fearless in your willingness to adventure into the unknown.

Now, this morning’s commute was highly unusual in how quickly I got to my destination. What normally should take only 25 mins to travel with no traffic has never actually taken me only 25 minutes because there is always traffic. Always. Normally, I’d be pounding the steering wheel, yelling obscenities that only I can hear, and trying not to honk my horn or attract attention because I can’t actually follow through on my road rage. There was a little traffic at the end of the drive towards my final exit, but nothing like every other time I’ve had to make this drive.

 photo uhhhhhhh.gif

Also, normally, I’m completely irritated by the time I get to my destination because typically every single car seems to have a driver looking down at the their lap, and going 15 miles an hour slower than the speed limit. One of my major pet peeves with other drivers on the road (besides texting while driving) is drivers who give more than 2 car-lengths space in front of them and create giant traffic gaps. Everyone in the other lanes see that as an opportunity to change lanes into my lane, in front of this moron in front of me who left the space. That just creates one more car between me and my final destination. It irks me to no end. Most mornings, every single car I get behind has a texting driver creating gaps. I shit you not. This is why I can’t own a car or commute every day. I get heart palpitations just thinking about having to do it again next week too. This is why I live in a city with a semi-reliable public transportation system so I don’t have to deal with getting gas and speed limits.

 photo jennifer slowpez.gif

But this morning, there was very little traffic, slow people didn’t dare cut in front of me and I travelled in my bubble of comfort and safety, listening to great music on the way, dreaming my daydreams. It was a pleasant respite from what has been a thus far horrid commute to and from my client site.

On my drive, I began to let my daydream have a start date. I listened to this song, which I’ve only recently stumbled across. I listened to the lyrics and remembered what it was like to body surf in the waves at Karon Beach in Phuket, Thailand. I felt the ebb and flow, being free and floating into the waves, but keeping an eye on shore. Sun on my face, with beautiful cool blue water all around. Just the beat, a melody, and letting go.

My daydreams’ start date is today. I’m setting aside time to let go and go for what I want. Just after I finish reviewing this memo, adjusting this documentation, and joining this conference call. Sigh.

By idigres

I can see you from my house

Just like Sarah Palin, today, I too can see Russia from my house. On the internet. While I make arrangements for the St. Petersburg leg of my Europe trip this summer. I will be spending fewer than 72 hours in Russia, which is just as well given their attitudes towards members of the LGBT community. Further, I have a Ukranian last name, and given the state of current affairs between Russia and Ukraine, well let’s just say it’s kind of a big deal I’m going there at all in my book. I already feel like I’m flipping them the middle finger, yet curtsying while singing for my supper and to be let in. How’s this? *falls*

 photo palin.gif
 

I’ve completed a draft of my application for a Russian tourist visa, but I still need to figure out where to send it. And there is a space for a photo (like a passport), so I’m assuming my Facebook profile picture (which is more Golden Gate Bridge and less me) printed on a color printer won’t suffice? There are not really instructions of what to do with the application, so I’m trying to put my best foot forward and figure it out myself. I have a self-reported blind spot for visas. But at the same time, instructions would be helpful. Ahem. Just saying.

Thankfully, this is the only country within my itinerary for this trip for which I will need a visa prior to entry. So at least I don’t have to replicate this process multiple times.

I think we are all citizens of a planet, so Russia, why must you burden me with paperwork and administration when I just want to go see a palace and a ballet? Don’t worry; I plan to avoid the borscht. I’m certainly not a spy on a covert mission with the CIA and/or FBI to nab an infamous criminal in a music montage of snowy wild goose chases modelling the latest snowmobile technology and fashions. I might be a missionary from any LGBT organization of your choice, out to convert your beautiful Russian ballerinas and gymnasts into lesbians and adorable gay men (Alexei Nemov – I’m looking at you, handsome.) They may or may not call me the Orientation Advisor – I can neither confirm, nor deny. Time will tell.

Truly, I just want to support your economy and try to get myself silly drunk on the train ride into your country, see some stuff, and move on to the next location. Don’t mind me. I swear I’m no trouble at all if you give me a sippy cup of red wine and an iPhone to play with. But nooooo. Gotta go and make things complicated.

 photo complicated.gif

Your ruble is suffering, Russia – help me help you fix that. No me gusta, Russia, no me gusta. Why don’t you save everyone the hassle and just have a car waiting for me at the airport to whisk me away on my Anastasia adventure? (Complete with Bartok the bat and Rasputin sending green ghosts after me because I’m a princess.) **belts into rather loud version of “Once Upon A December” from the 1997 Disney classic**

I’ve started a packing list for what to bring with me for 2 months of Europe. I’ll be in fairly colder locations just before the peak of summertime. It’s hit or miss with the weather, but I’m really just trying to avoid ice and snow. I’m not the most coordinated of people, and I tend to fall a lot in normal conditions. I don’t need ice helping me out with that.

 photo hiccup.gif

I don’t want to purchase additional pieces of luggage, as I believe my current collection is flexible and more than sufficient for what I’ll need on this trip. I debated using my backpack, but it’s simply not big enough. So I will have a wheeled suitcase I check on every flight, which should give me enough room for bigger pieces of clothing (i.e. pants rather than shorts, sweaters rather than tank tops). It makes it a little more of a hassle to utilize wheeled luggage, especially if I’m dashing to make a train or a ferry. It also means added costs of checked luggage, but I think in the end it’ll be worth it. I’m planning to take the smaller of my two wheeled suitcases for what it’s worth, so I don’t have to pay excessive fees on the baggage. Though if I decide to purchase souvenirs, I may regret not taking the bigger piece after all… Oh, so many tough decisions.

I researched which ballets were showing while we were in Russia, just for a bit of culture. Giselle is on, and a ticket is less than $100USD. When in St. Petersburg… do as the ‘Burgers do??? So, I will also be purchasing tickets to the ballet today, spending more rubles. I have to admit, there’s something exotic about shopping in foreign currencies. I feel so… cosmopolitan. Despite how shitty the ruble is doing.

I’m only focusing on fewer than 72 hours of my trip and yet it still requires quite a lot of time, when you drill down to the details of choosing accommodation and how to get to the things you want to see. I’m exhausted. There are still so many more details and planning through which to wade. However, this is part of the fun of the overall trip and I don’t want to rush the decision making in the details. Balance is required to plan to be spontaneous, getting high priority experiences booked in advance as much as possible.

It’s like I’m building a house from scratch, and today I focused merely on design decisions for the 2nd bathroom of a big house. Not that Russia represents the shitter, but moreso that I’m spending a lot of time on a place that isn’t first priority yo visit when guests come to the house. They may not see and appreciate these finer details of planning. These are the decisions for me on this trip, and I love them. I admit I hate doing the research sometimes, but it pays off when you plan to do the things you want to do, and you actually do them. We weave a beautiful tapestry or build a beautiful house, but on a trip. Or something.

I heard this song recently and I hum it in the back of my mind as I make these arrangements. So true.

http://youtu.be/z0rxydSolwU

Creating and destroying boundaries to form identity

When I initially started writing yesterday’s post, it was double the length of the published version now. I had you, my dear reader, in mind when I decided to make two posts out of my takeaways from the “How States Got Their Shapes” series. You’re welcome. Yesterday I wrote of borders and frontiers, so please consider that the Part I to this post, which would be Part II. We had our discussion about being visionaries, thinking ahead, and how borders can divide or unite people. Part of forming an identity is figuring out where your own borders and edges are, and whether you’re in the mainstream or the fray. But there’s more to it, which leads to Part II.

“Pennsatucky” in Orange is the New Black is truly a hilarious character. She is the “Jesus freak” in the prison, and at one point even believes she has been chosen by God above to heal those on earth. She pretty much hits every hillbilly stereotype, and bring Jesus into every argument.

Funnily enough though, I had no idea that West Virginia was actually almost named something very close to her nickname on the show. There was some conflict over splitting Virginia westward and eventually the land was split into two states, Kentucky, and West Virginia. Originally the area was annexed to the union as the Transylvania purchase, and they wanted to keep the “Sylvania”, yet somehow they also considered Pennsyltucky as the name for the new state. Even the notion of hillbillies, and the stereotypes of them are derived from a family feud between two families over the border, the McCoys (Kentucky) and the Hatfields (West Virginia). The borders were approved by the government when they each applied to be states, driven by the growth of railroads and western movement. Borders changed because America was changing. And here I was thinking nicknames like Nebrahoma and Pennsatucky were just generic hillbilly insults for people from the flyover states… at one point people thought they would be the names of great states. Go figure.

Here’s something else I learned from that TV show: there are unmarked planes with a generic red stripe that go by the name “Janet” in flight records. The Janet flights run through Las Vegas airport each day, and usually carry military officials. The footage in the show referred to one particular plane which was probably returning to Las Vegas airport from a flight to Area 51. Whoa. I’d heard about the secret life of the Denver airport and the massive underground government base beneath the runways, but I’d never heard of Janets before. I’ll have to keep an eye out for that next I find myself in Vegas.

And did you know the US is comprised of 3 power grids: the East, the West, and Texas? Having their own power grid makes them self-sustaining and impervious to federal regulations over fuel/energy/ gas, causing prices in the area to be lower than the rest of the nation. I always knew the Bush family was heavily invested in oil interests, and somehow indirectly the state benefitted from his ties and was somehow excused from rising gas prices during Bush’s terms as President. I have colleagues in Texas who specialize in all things accounting related to oil and gas in that area. Further, because of its independence when it comes to utilizing its own energy resources, Texas is actually the current state that is most likely to secede from the Union, if we were to find ourselves with another civil war on our hands. On a side note, if California seceded, it would be the world’s 8th largest economy, according to some person somewhere with some numbers and data and research.

Each region in America flourished based on how it identified, harnessed, and commercialized the natural resources of the various regions. There was a fundamental characteristic early Americans had in common: there was a desire to be essential – to feel needed. Don’t we all want that?

Think about it: Beaver skins and furs flourished in Wisconsin, logging and paper products grew up in Maine. Pennsylvania oil drove a whole industrial revolution towards farming and cultivating resources in the flyover states. North Carolina remains the center for gold and finance it once was, housing Bank of America headquarters, and other major banking institutions have a presence there now as well. There’s Virginia tobacco, Mississippi cotton, Michigan cars (and now we can see the carcass of the industry that died there too in Detroit, Flint, and other depressed areas.) Silver was found in Nevada, and so on. Communities rose up with common interests, goals, ways of making money, and providing an essential service or product.

I have that desire to be essential too. In previous blog posts, I’ve pontificated over what my purpose in life is, where my passion might be, and the like. I don’t quite yet know what my “natural resource” is I have to share and on which to capitalize. I know I need to utilize my creativity, make something, do something, to create that distinct identity.

 photo lmhywsk.gif

I’m going to divert on a tangent here about identity. Discovering your identity is a process all of us go through, whether we know it or not. Here’s a most relevant example: as a lesbian, I engage in a lot of pro-LGBT initiatives in the workplace. In Australia, I was first exposed to a bit of research by Vivian Cass. She developed an Identity Model that frames coming out in 6 distinct stages. Not every individual experiences every single stage, and the stages can be experienced in very different ways. Sometimes you can skip a phase or not experience one of them before jumping to another, so there is no order to this. The 6 stages are:

1) Identity Confusion – This is where someone recognizes that his or her identity doesn’t reconcile with societal and cultural norms, or conventional beliefs about heterosexuality. The key words here are “Am I gay?” It’s interesting to note here that research provided correlating data about the rates of self-rejection in this stage. The research also connected an individual’s same-sex attraction with overcompensating in a rejecting attitude to mask a true gay identity to avoid being perceived as gay. In simpler words, research actually shows that increased homophobic behavior comes from some people who never went past this stage, and that homophobia is masking repressed homosexual desires.

2) Identity Comparison – With this stage, there is an acceptance of your new identity as gay, but there can be struggles with how to handle this new identity. People have to manage the loss of heterosexual privilege and possible discrimination or oppression if they come out. The key words for this stage are “I’m gay; what does that mean?” This is where we realize there isa conflict because you’re still the same person, and as you contemplate sharing your true identity, you worry about what people will think and if this identity would cause others to alienate you or treat you differently. Many people in this stage are in the closet, which can lead to depression, anxiety, and other self-destructive behaviors. In the workplace, many people here find their performance at work suffers as they are understandably directing their energy to self-protection and managing situations that arise where their identity might be compromised.

3) Identity Tolerance – This is where one begins looking around for signals of whether they will experience acceptance or rejection of their newfound identity. They are sensitive to visual cues, like maybe a rainbow pin in a boss’s office flagging them as an ally, or this person may begin to visit websites to learn about LGBT culture. They begin to notice there are other gay people around them, and begin searching for people like them, coming out of that isolation of the previous stage. They may go to gay bars, rent movies to see what gay people are like in movies or TV shows, or find an LGBT alliance in the community. This stage provides the groundwork for building a support network. The key words for this phase are “Are there others?”

4) Identity Acceptance – This stage is where someone might begin to openly identify or come out as lesbian, gay, or bisexual. They come out to close friends and family, maybe even at work to colleagues with whom they work closely. There is not embarrassment, but you certainly can’t push these people out of the closet, as they very much want to come out on their own terms. It is here that you accept and own who you are and start asking, “Where is my support network?”

5) Identity Pride – Here, people develop a much stronger LGBT identity. These individuals have gone through the struggles, come out, and may even feel a responsibility to serving as role model for others on their journey of self-identification, or take on an activist approach at work. There is a hardening, and protective shell that creates a deflective barrier, for the nicknames and insults to just roll right off. These people may have a distinct “screw you if you don’t like who I am” attitude, because they have fought to own who they are. The key words for this phase are “Whom do I tell?” It is here people decide how out and visible they want to be – extroverts do well here, sharing insights, standing up and being counted. Introverts may not engage in this stage as fully because even if you weren’t gay, you wouldn’t share much of yourself with others.

6) Identity Synthesis – This is the “so-what” stage. This is where being gay is a part of your identity, but it’s not the primary defining quality. Some find that advocacy is just plain tiring, or someone may have moved past that activist stage, and they move out to suburbs to live quietly with a partner and raise kids. This a more “mature” phase in my opinion, because you’re gay, that’s great, now what? What else are you? A writer? A singer? An accountant? Individuals in this stage may still very much need their support network, and may still have pride, but they are just simply not as active in the community.

So then if we take these stages of identity and apply them to the way early Americans built their own regional identities, it yields some pretty interesting results. One way Americans all over the 50 states and surrounding territories identify themselves is simply by speaking.

Southern accents were a direct result of forming bonds and camaraderie with other Confederates, at a time when sometimes the only bond was that you hated the union/northerners. The accent helped people develop an identity totally different from the people in the north. Yall – no apostrophe. In the north east, especially in my New Yorker family, it’s “Yous and you guys”. Some say “Y’uns”which apparently translates to you ones or youngins.

There are two accents I didn’t know had names, beyond gibberish. Ever heard someone from the deep south say their words so quickly and with a cajun twang, that it sounds like there are no real words in what they’re saying? Mumbo jumbo? Those are dialects from Ocrocoke Island, and there’s also the dialect of Gullah. These languages developed on an island, in the south, and in general, there are massive dialect differences when a language develops on an island, in isolation, filling necessary conversation gaps with new sounds and words and meanings.

After living in Australia, I can now tell the difference between British, South African, Australian and New Zealand accents. Subtle nuances in vowel pronunciation and length of holding cause small differences to the seasoned ear. Australians can do great impressions of Americans, but when I do an impression of an Australian, I come out sounding cockney and British.

Accents are generally regional; they are local and thus the locals must be trustworthy. Accents convey friendliness, honesty, inspire pride, belonging, and trust. Does Obama have a noticable accent? Not really. But George Bush? Did you ever notice when he was in Texas, he spoke with a twang, but in DC, he monitored himself and his accent melted away in the company of those in the capital who didn’t bring out his Texas twang? Politicians can turn it on and turn it off – have you heard how George Bush says “Priorities”? My ex was from the south and always said these words in the funniest ways: Lawyers. Um-brella. Thanksgiving.

Accents ebb and flow too; some are in full retreat. Speaking in accents demonstrates one’s ability to adopt a local identity. Accents are a small part of who you are.

All over the nation, we have different words for the same thing: Soda, pop, coke, soft drinks, tonic, seltzer. It’s no coincidence that when asked what kind of Coke you’d like in Atlanta, you could answer, “Sprite,” and it would make total sense to the locals. The Coca Cola Company was founded in Atlanta. I even visited the coke museum there. I read a book a few years ago called A History of the World in Six Glasses, and it talked about how coffee, tea, beer, spirits, wine, and ultimately water, shape the world as we know it. Interesting history, when one puts it that way. And Nevada – apparently the real pronunciation is Nev-Add-uh. Not Nev-odd-uh. So put that in your pipe and smoke it.

California is fertile breeding ground for new words added to the English language. Northern Californians use the word “hella” as in, “That skateboard jump was hella cool!” My new personal favorite words are the perfect response to, “How are you?” on a bad day: sangry (sad + angry) and terrihurtsible. Brilliant.

I always thought Californians didn’t really have an accent, thus I don’t have one. I can pop out a valley girl or surfer though, if need be. It just comes naturally. California is part of the population where there is no real discernable dialect. But linguists think the way Californians say things is part of the local dialect – in a laid back manner, not too quickly, not pushing or forcing words into you. Californians get “totally” “stoked”; even the surfer phrase “far out” came from California, which is ironic because I heard more Australians use that in 3 years than I had my whole life before Australia. Californians penned words like unfriend (via the Facebook generation), and the word bromance, which is a recent favorite. Californians are dubbed as lazy because they give up halfway through a word… legitimate becomes legit, monosyllabic becomes mono.

This makes Californians actually have a lot in common with Aussies who will give a nickname to anyone and everyone. My initiation into Australian culture was coming up with my nickname – which wasn’t exactly easy. They shortened everything: afternoon (arvo), breakfast (brekkie), and nicknames like Coxy, Hinchy, Foxy, Gunners, Chongers (even though that widely accepted nickname for that person made me shudder at the weight of the racism associated with it, so I just usually used her real name).

I’m taking credit for my own word until someone else wants to fight me for it. I like to think I came up with “prolly”; it’s my favorite, and short for probably. As in I’ll prolly go to the gym today.

Language has innovated in more ways you can imagine: adding the adding “@” sign on a level of Morse code and binary code came about from the age of email addresses. Never before has that symbol even shown up on our radar until it was used in email addresses. It was sloppy shorthand for the word “at”, that no one really used because two letters is just about the same amount of effort. @ best.

Every innovation puts new words into circulation – the telephone, email, cell phones, texting, abbreviations, like OMG BTW LOL IMHO LGBT etc. Something I noticed only after living abroad too, is that there is an American accent adopted by the media. Every single film that comes out of Hollywood, every Simpsons episode, has that accent to me like a Californian. Nondescript. You don’t notice it the accent, and that’s the whole idea. The lack-of-accent is easy to understand without local dialects. Local Australian commercials were always thick with Australian accents. In the US, every local car salesman commercial uses a heavy local accent, to get the audience, people in that area with similar accents, to buy cars from them. That’s why I think Australians do a great job at imitating the American accent – they’ve been exposed to it via the media. Compare that to the commercials I would hear for Outback Steakhouse once I came back to America. That’s the WORST fake Australian accent by an American I’ve ever heard, including my own feeble attempts, and it’s overlaid with a thick media accent of bland newspaper, if you will.

Lately, my own personal dreamscape has been changing. I’ve had a few dreams where I’ve left packing to move my stuff from Australia back to the US (yes I still have those dreams), because it doesn’t seem like I have much. Then I get to packing and it’s much more than I anticipated, everything gets disorganized quickly and I don’t successfully move. Part of me knows that my subconscious is preparing for another change.

I had one dream recently where I knew myself to be in Reykjavik, Iceland, in an underground laboratory. I was put through a series of trials of self-identification. In early trials, I came out far ahead of other people, but there was no better or worse, there just was a relief in finding something out about myself. In one of the trials, my “start class” of February 2015 (given the number 02-2015) had to reach into a basket filled with various eggs – of various sizes, shapes, weights, colors. The egg I pulled out was rubber and purple, and much smaller than the others. Mine had some weight, and could bounce. It was resilient, durable, compact and easy to carry. I could compare my egg to the eggs others chose – weightless and fragile papier-mâché eggs, eggs made of dense stone like granite – but there was no point. That egg was my identity – I chose it, and I loved it for what it was. I finally knew who I was.

Obviously in real life, my identity is not a small purple rubber egg. It was just good to know who I was, finally. That dream mirrored my real life. I have an identity now that I love because it is me. I have added something huge to that identity by living in Australia for 3 years, and that’s what makes me purple and rubbery and travel size. I didn’t pick up the Aussie accent, but there are moments at work when people call me out for sounding Australian, because while I don’t have an accent, I picked up another verbal cue that “ain’t from around here.” The intonation in my voice goes up as I reach the end of a sentence, so it sounds like I’m asking a question.

So out of arbitrary borders, commonalities with others in the frontier, regional language dialects, and even sexual orientation and gender identity, we are constantly forming and displaying who we are. So much goes into it. But at the end of the day, the earth is one big melting pot, or salad, depending on how you like to look at it. The sum of the masses lead to broad sweeping generalizations. So while there may feel like tons of futility in determining who you are and where your boundaries are, because you won’t change the landscape of the blanket we are weaving, you, as a single solitary thread, of whatever color and whatever fiber, are important. You can’t get lost and feel small, when there is so much good stuff about you. Right at this moment, and as you change and grow and evolve, there will be more good stuff about you.

Self-identification is a lifelong process. You can be anything you want to be, no matter where or what you come from. My maternal grandfather was a garbage man, and my paternal grandmother worked in early American sewing factories (sweatshops). Identities change over time, they naturally ebb and flow, fluidly allowing us to navigate daily choices and tasks. So it just goes to show – it doesn’t matter where you come from, but where you are going.

 photo lemorange.jpg

Boundaries and frontiers

In San Francisco, we’re geographically on the edge of the country, on the frontier of technology, and as individuals we’re probably more than 3 standard deviations away from “normal” compared to the rest of the country. But something I’ve learned, being one of those who live in areas like this, is those who live on the outskirts and in the fringes pave the way for followers. These outliers do not follow in the footsteps of others but instead forge their own paths, and leave a trail.

I’ve been watching a series available on Netflix “How the States Got Their Shapes,” which talks about various events in the nation’s history that made the borders where they are. It’s not as simple or straightforward as you think. A lot goes into history – border disputes, land additions, religion, sports, culture, and anything else you can think of that might divide or unite people.

I must admit, U.S. and world history was lost on me. I don’t know why, but it just went right over my head like water on a duck’s feathers, and rolled right off, with me none the wiser. I was even in an AP history course in high school and got good marks, but I don’t think anything really absorbed into my brain for the long haul. I guess the way it was communicated to me, it seemed like boring dates, with no real story behind it, or why it was significant. What history lacked for me was context, the brain wrinkle, the so-what.

As I get older though, the more interested I become in National Geographic, educational videos, documentaries, and especially just about any program on the history channel. I can actually learn history things now; it permeates through my duck feathers and actually saturates my brain now. I’m learning a new appreciation for history, as I don’t want to be one of those doomed to repeat it. Generations to come will be feeble followers, not fearless adventurers. They too must learn the rules, and proceed to break them will all the fervor they can muster.

 photo boundaries.jpg

To me, the game changers are people who find a way to make something better. It’s innovation. They speculate about solutions to problems we didn’t even know we had. Speculators are true visionaries. They have an idea and take a chance. They see things that others cannot. They are the true dreamers. They create infrastructure, the bones that support society. Transportation, fuel, waste management, product and food distribution, education, solar/wind/green energy, long term care/residential properties/real estate, and so on. Infrastructure leverages existing systems and creates a way to harness the resources available to them.

Speculators become the leaders. They have to convince everyone and sell the idea. They think of things like boundaries through time – it’s not just a matter of “my land goes from this tree to this river.” A boundary that stands the test of time can be independently measured time and again, and people will agree on it – like creating boundaries to latitude and longitude of the earth. Then regardless of whether the trees and rivers are now where they were 500 years ago, the boundary is still objective and in reference to a “stable” constant. Brilliant minds think of things in such different ways.

Venture capital and private equity firms fund the new ideas and become speculators in their own right. I’m from the very heart of Silicon Valley, the birthplace of these so-called “angel investors,” who finance good ideas, new ideas.

Surveyors measure land and boundaries with precision tools. They can get to the nearest centimeter, now using GPS technology. They can remotely bounce some data to a satellite in outer space, and account for gravity in their measurements and calculations. Their measurement requires a certain constant though, i.e. a centimeter will always be a centimeter and will never be more or less than a centimeter. What makes a reliable measure, anyway? Of course, I think of the musical Rent and the 525,600 minutes of a year we measured in love. In music, a measure is a lapse in time. In Morse code, it’s a break creating a dot or a dash, a flash/break in light. A cushion for the force.

But do borders and boundaries really matter? Even if they are precise, to the centimeter, aren’t they just arbitrary anyway? What’s the point if they change over time?

Early Americans were fighters, self-reliant captains of rugged individualism, pioneers, real Mavericks. <<*said with nasal Sarah Palin accent* >> But why do we fight for the land and ideas and the things people can’t see?

Honor. Integrity. Rights. What is right. There are even rights high into airspace above us. Rights indefinitely into future time, in perpetuity.

Contracts (and measurements) have a fatal flow that assume a constant. But that’s just the thing. Boundaries melt and mix. It gets messy. On the frontier – that’s where the decisions have to be made. Where law is put to the test and hopefully, it works. Every frontier is like this – the fashion industry, art, science, technology, and so on. Ask yourself this, though: Do we fight now? Do we fight for anything now? In my daily life, I don’t see the same level of struggle that those who came before had. Not by any stretch of the imagination.

Contract lawyers made a killing in early America. They wrote original contracts, defined parameters, set protocols and precedence, created the boundaries and infrastructure we currently have in America. They put in words and eventually into contracts the measures of land to the 23rd parallel, whatever that means… Surveyors tell you where the land is and more importantly, where its borders are.

This TV show also has a few stories about the 51st state. To be clear, many places are hypothesized to be the 51st state – Washington DC, since it is just a district and not a true state, which makes voting for DC residents a little special. There is the state of Jefferson blurring the border between Oregon and California. Those residents truly believe they live in the state of Jefferson. The frontier is very much like living ghost states or territories, that elusive 51st state. You create your reality in the frontier. It’s sort of a made-up place in your mind where you get to make and enforce the rules. You either love it or hate it. The frontier is not for everyone.

They’re introducing a new area code in San Francisco at the end of this month, because we’re close to using up all the 415 phone numbers. In fact, I got a text message from Verizon today warning me that as of February 21, I now have to dial the area code 415, even for local numbers within the same area code. The new area code is 628, and they chose to create an overlay over the same geography as the 415. Why couldn’t they just give it a specific locale, so we can always associate 415 with San Francisco city proper? When NYC ran out of 212, they just stopped issuing those numbers and started 917. Why did they have to overlay California’s code? I see no point.

In the early days of the telephone, we used rotary phones before cell phones(it’s sad there is a whole generation now who have never used a rotary phone.) Therefore, the first area codes were for big cities, and they used smaller, early #’s. That means it was quicker for an operator to connect someone dialling a 212 (NY) or 203 (DC) code, whereas Santa Cruz, California used (831) which would take much longer on a rotary phone (because 8 clicks takes longer than a 2). I’d argue San Francisco city proper deserves the lower #, so they should keep the 415, and the new area code should start with something higher… Whyyyy?

In San Jose, there is a bit of a tourist attraction in the Winchester Mystery House. As a local, I can say I still have not yet visited, though I’d like to. Sarah Winchester went a bit bonkers and left a local legacy. The house has stairs to nowhere, and other architectural oddities that sometimes make no sense. In a way, I like to think she was redefining the boundary of what a house could be. Just like a house boat, or a tree house, might redefine your idea of a home.

For me, it’s good to know where boundaries are. That way, you can decide to operate within them, or break them, depending on what the situation demands. I do well in the fray, on the frontier. I do better creating my own reality, rather than operating within the confines of someone else’s reality. I want to create my own boundaries, that actually mean something.

 photo boundaries-2.jpg

Being my own valentine

On this day in 2014, I was with some great mates in Australia, in the Hunter Valley (Australia’s version of Napa Valley – wine country), for a Dolly Parton concert. We stayed at a cheap motel, and drank whatever we could find, which was a lot. I was still a bit of a mess, but stabilizing on my antidepressants. I was growing out my hair, and it was at the beginning of what would be 2 years of that awkward-in-between hairdo. I had lost a lot of weight, and finally felt comfortable not only wearing shorts and a tank top, but also posing for a picture in them. Here I was, breaking in my first set of gumboots:

 photo FullSizeRender 7.jpg

It was a hot and muggy day, with intermittent rain, which made for muddy grounds. A shuttle had couriered us over from our motel to the vineyard venue for the concert. We schlepped for what seemed an eternity to find a great spot. A good friend at the time had been engaging in a heavy flirtationship that for lack of a better description, proceeded to go tits-up over the course of that weekend (and not in the good way that lesbians can go tits-up). I remember lying in the next bed over from my friend, as she sobbed, feeling her anguish with every heavy breath. She really liked this woman. Hearts are awful things, aren’t they? They love who they love, regardless of whether that person is good for you or not. They know no boundaries, no right and no wrong. There is only now and only that person.

Fast forward a year later, and I’m on another continent, no plans for any concerts tonight. No plans of any kind tonight, in fact. I bought myself some flowers, my favorite (well, one of many): orange roses and baby’s breath. The bouquets were so full, I had to split them across two vases. Nostalgic point: the way Australians say “vase” vs. the way Americans say “vase”. I do miss Oz every now and again. Sigh.

For me, Valentine’s Day is overrated. I’ve had girlfriends over the holiday, and I’ve been single. Unlike one of my recommended readings for those overseeing their personal finances, “I’ve Been Rich. I’ve Been Poor. Rich Is Better,” celebrating this wretched holiday either way still sucks. I’m one of those people where if I love someone, I will show them every single day, and I do not need a holiday to force commercialism upon me to do so. I am a hopeless romantic. I don’t need any more encouragement, ok?

 photo ifyouweremywife.gif

This year, this is any other Saturday. I will go to the gym; it’s extended cardio day. Now I know what you’re thinking:

 photo bedroom.gif

I might do a bit of work, since it is my busy season and it would help to be ahead of the tsunami of tasks I expect Monday. I see no need to take myself out to dinner, to belly-up to a bar to drink pretend-sorrows away. I’m not sad to be celebrating alone this year, if you could call it actively “celebrating.” I do acknowledge a hole inside my heart where I’ve given away some pieces and where some pieces of someone special’s might inhabit. However, right now, the timing is just not right. I’ll never get the pieces back I’ve given away, and not many have given me pieces of their hearts. Patience, young grasshopper.

In any case, being a Bohemian at heart, I cannot let a holiday supposed to encourage love go without acknowledgement. << Insert sing-along to Moulin Rouge’s “Elephant Medley” and the charming naïveté of Ewan MacGregor’s character, exclaiming all you need is love. This will be the year I finally get to Paris, and to the Moulin Rouge perhaps, so I can belt this out to an unsuspecting and probably annoyed crowd.

So find some way to feel the love, share the love, give love, and accept love today. Marinate in it like a pig in mud, like chicken in BBQ sauce. Go and get you some.

May the [mass x acceleration] be with you

I was watching the National Geographic: Amazing Planet series the other day, channeling my inner rock nerd. Having a geology minor from university, and a rock/crystal collection, I enjoy the physical science of the earth and its processes. I don’t know why, but I always have been a big science and math nerd.

From the documentary series, I learned that Yellowstone is basically just a super volcano, overdue for an explosion which would potentially have disastrous results. The last super volcano that erupted was in Sumatra, Indonesia, and changed life on earth forever.

Yellowstone erupts every 600,000 years, and it’s been 640,000 years since its last eruption. Any minute now… If the Yellowstone volcano erupts in my lifetime, no matter where on earth I am, ash would be spewed forth into the atmosphere, obscuring the sun, causing temperatures around the globe to overcome global warming by plunging dramatically. The water cycle would generate acid rain from all the sulfur particles in the air, killing plant life, and possibly forcing humans to the edge of extinction.

When I was in college, someone I barely knew who lived in my apartment complex and had a crush on my roommate gave me a book to read. It was called Earth Abides, about a post-apocalyptic earth. It just reinforced that notion that despite all things man-made that permeate our every day life, the forces of earth are stronger than any of us. A layer of dust will always settle over the top layer, burying us if left untouched and unmoved. The earth will always move on, with or without you, with or without humans, and matter will come together, fall apart, and energy will neither be created nor destroyed, but transferred back and forth for an infinite amount of time. But no time and no place will ever be as it is now.

The series went on call Tokyo and San Francisco, cities on the cusp of the Ring of Fire and at the earth’s major subduction zones, “Cities waiting to die.” Morbid much? I guess by being a San Francisco resident, I’m tempting fate simply by living here. When the pacific plate finally folds from the pressure of the spreading sea floor in the Atlantic, and curls inward to the earth’s core, this city will possibly disappear from existence. It calls to mind the lyrics of “Pompeii” by Bastille, about the destruction Mt. Vesuvius had on that ancient city when it erupted:

“And the walls kept tumbling down
In the city that we love
Great clouds roll over the hills
Bringing darkness from above
But if you close your eyes,
Does it almost feel like
Nothing changed at all?
And if you close your eyes,
Does it almost feel like
You’ve been here before?”

It’s happened before, and it can happen again.

Also in this documentary series, and reminding me of previous lessons from my geology courses in college, they discussed the Coriolis effect: wind and water (“wasser” in German, in case you were wondering) on the earth’s surface push away from the equator in a clockwise motion in the northern hemisphere and in a counter-clockwise motion in the southern hemisphere. Caused by angular velocity interacting with the earth simply rotating on its axis, this compound centrifugal force affects both water currents and wind currents. These currents feed typhoons that form over the Pacific Ocean, and hurricanes over the Atlantic Ocean. This also shows how ships can get stuck in the doldrums at the equator where the opposing wind and water currents meet in tranquil, stagnant harmony.

To pursue somewhat of a tangent, I love this song by Nelly Furtado, Força. It speaks to other forces beyond the physical in life. Enjoy. (Pause for effect.)

Without gravity, inertia, water, an atmosphere, and most importantly, time, none of this would be possible. Every single waking moment, and even in our sleeping ones too, we are constantly enacted upon by the forces that be. Some pressure is building while others are releasing. One thing starts going right in life, and 2 more fall apart. Creation and destruction is an ongoing process of renewal. It’s life and death and everything.

Inner turmoil can be likened to the planet, or vice versa, we can animate the planet earth by calling it a living organism on its own with its geologic processes. In many ways, an individual is like the earth. We have hot spots, areas where things build under the surface that could lead to catastrophic destruction (maybe it’s anger or sadness). We have our own subduction zones where we curl into ourselves and pull something in and under the surface never to see the light of day again. We have areas where we are spreading, growing, and new things are pouring out of us into the world. So much happens at our very core, at the center of the force, and what we see is only just floating on the surface. Circumstances are such that the tectonic plates on the surface of the earth statistically cannot be in the same position moving in the same directions, looking at they do right now. There is no moment like now. We will never be the same as we are now, too. I don’t know how it gets any realer than that.

 photo rock_balancing_art1.jpg

I have my own Coriolis effect happening too. One part of me wants desperately to move, to travel, to see more of the world than I’ve ever seen. One part of me wants to put down some roots, call a place home for the long haul, and make a life more stable than I currently have. Part of me wants routine while the other yearns for controlled chaos. The forces that be, the pressures of life, and wanting it all, all coalesce together in a place that both tears me asunder and completes me, and where I’m paralyzed with inaction somewhere in the middle. I’m not fully committed, but I’m not fully free either. “This is our last dance, this is ourselves… under pressure.”

I’m in my own form of the doldrums. I’m planning a two month vacation that isn’t really what I want yet everything I want at once. I am both unsatisfied and completely ecstatic. The realities of my situation sink in, that it would be unwise to quit a career and job I’ve been building for over 10 years, but if I am not happy and want more, I should quit the job to move on and allow myself to find something else for the next chapter of my life that will bring me more happiness and satisfaction. Yet to some extent, happiness is not about getting more or something different. Sometimes it’s simply beginning to want what you’ve got. Why can’t I just be satisfied with things the way they are. Why must I feel the urge to destroy what I’ve built and start over? I must be crazy.

It’s a vicious cycle of Catch 22’s, so many finer details intersecting where the opposing forces meet. It looks calm, but it’s truly storming at a level we can’t see. What appears to be stable and calm is really just vibrating so quickly and building up energy that before we know it, the introduction of the smallest unstoppable force to an immovable object can set forth a series of events that leads to… well, a change in life as we know it.

There is a holding pattern, where the positive reinforcement and negative feedback effects intersect that is supposed to be equilibrium… but how permanent can it be once you’ve found it with the interaction of these forces over time? I would maintain that we are constantly in a state of disarray, whatever the opposite of equilibrium is.

 photo not an expert.gif

There is always an imbalance in the force. The forces act on all of us, and we too are the forces for others. The force was strong with Anakin Skywalker, and people say, “May the force be with you.” “May the odds be ever in your favor.” How can that be? The forces are always opposing? Does it matter which side you’re on or if you’re in the middle? Perhaps that where perspective comes in. There is a tangent here of good vs. evil and what determines which of the forces get labelled as such. But I’m not going down that rabbit hole right now. Feel free to explore it on your own, and discuss.

I marvel at how much calmer it must be to be in a state of equilibrium on an issue with two strongly opposing sides. I wouldn’t know. I can’t help but think how unachievable true homeostasis and stability over time is. With so many forces acting upon us, once we find that balance, how hard it is to maintain, as the forces push in on us everywhere, and we must puff ourselves out and push back to oppose them.

 photo train cat.gif

People, places, things

People

This weekend, a good friend of mine for the last 7 years came to town. It’s the first time I’ve seen her since my father passed away. She was there for my mother and me when everything happened in June 2013. She brought her young daughter, which instantly gave my mother something to focus on, other than the state of reality.

We had a good time together – reminisced about old times, and some of our crazier adventures. There was the time she pulled a black feather out of her underwear one morning, after we saw the movie Black Swan, with no idea where it came from or how it ended up in her underwear. There was the time we found a tooth in her car, with no explanation of how it got there. There was the time she had her stiletto to some guy’s temple at a bar called Zeitgeist for giving me a hit of ecstasy that proceeded to give me the worst high ever, and eventuated in a case of shingles down my right shoulder and arm. There was the time we drank 40oz. bottles of malt liquor on the stoop across the street from the projects, meeting a homeless woman named Linda with a boombox who flashed my friend. I could go on and on.

San Francisco had its first rain of 2015 after an odd January breaking records for no rain. Thanks for that drought reminder, California. I get it – you’re dry. It was storming something awful outside, and a couple more mutual friends came over to say hi and enjoy the company. We broke in the hands-free wine glass holders my mother made me for Christmas this year. You heard me right: a necklace with a chain of ribbon and a triangular cloth wine glass cradler that allows one to speak like an Italian while her red wine is nestled comfortably between her breasts, never too far away if she just had a straw.

There was a lot of laughing, and asking after this person and that, and looking at photos of her two kids who grew so much while I was in Australia. The next day, we got beer and bacon for breakfast (at her specific request) and began a round of day-drinking… well not so much for me. I’ve written posts before about my decreased intake of alcoholic beverages – but she enjoyed plenty to make up for me. We made new memories at our favorite SF hangout, and I eventually left her catching up with her ex she drunk-texted and invited to the bar, so I could shower, and sober up after my 3 drinks left me fairly tipsy.

Places

Other big news for me is that Friday before my friend arrived, I began purchasing tickets toward my summer 2015 Europe trip. I was super excited, and found some great deals for using my United miles up to avoid paying excessive airfare. I can now reveal my itinerary for May and June 2015 will be London, Paris, Rome, Helsinki, St. Petersburg, Stockholm, Oslo, the Lofoten Islands, Bergen, and Reykjavik. I’ll be going to the UK for the second time, which means I’ve done the touristy things I wanted to my first time, under the premise I probably may not return. I did the Tower of London/Tower Bridge, Royal Exchange, Kensington Palace, Elephant and Castle, Tate Modern, St. Paul’s Cathedral, the tube (mind your own gap, please), etc.

I’ll be calling London my “home base” in May, visiting my former flatmate in Sydney who is living there now, and some other friends who live in the area. Then, towards the end of May, I will finally go to the two countries I’ve been saving as a trip with a partner/girlfriend. I decided there’s no point saving up for a day that may not come, so I’m going to Paris and Rome. I couldn’t be more excited. While I have about 20 destinations in Italy alone I’d like to visit, I’ll only see one city this go-round. Ideally, I’d love to live in Italy and take my time in each of those cities I’ve researched that appeal to me, doing things like tasting parma ham, mozzarella di buffalo, balsamic vinegar, and most importantly, wine. I’ll be visiting 7 new countries on this trip, which pleases me greatly. I’d like to see northern lights, glaciers, geysers, geothermal pools, ice caves, volcanos, craters, and amazing architecture.

The history of some of these locations escapes me, as I was never interested in history or world history in school – I just couldn’t relate. However, the way I see it, I’m never too old to learn, and as a kinesthetic learner, there is no better way for me to learn it, than to immerse myself into it. I’ll be travelling with my friend I’ve named in a previous blog post “Hank Moody”, from the TV show Californication. We have traveled together before, and do well with each other. My aunt also wants to join up for 2 weeks of the trip from Helsinki to Oslo. Then, my London host/former Sydney flatmate will possibly join us in Stockholm as well.

It’s not a solo trip by any means, and I may not have too much time to think. I’ve been saying for a long time, I just need to take a break, do some soul-searching, and figure out what I want to write in next chapter of my life. I threatened to move to a remote hostel for people who don’t like hostels in Nicaragua to figure out what it is I have to contribute and what makes me happy. I won’t get that kind of freedom on this trip I’ve planned. It’s more to catch up with friends, try staying in hostels for the first time ever, and see new places. It’s a Scandinavian adventure; I’m going to Vikingland. Perhaps I’ll finally learn how to train my dragon, avoid getting a dragon tattoo, and be gay with a Ukranian last name in Russia because honey badger don’t care… honey badger do what she want. Hrpmh.

Things

My black-feather friend who visited this weekend also brought with her my last box of books she was holding in storage for me. She was my friend who took many boxes from my mother’s house when my father passed, because my mother was moving, but I needed my stuff to stay in California. I’ve written at least one post before about being reunited with my things in storage in waves, and this was the last wave. Perhaps they are just old paperbacks of Harry Potter and Sookie Stackhouse (the character upon which the True Blood HBO series was created), but these books are so much more to me. They have a piece of me in them, and there is a piece of them in me. The attachment I feel to books is a little odd. Just like Belle from Beauty and the Beast, I’d rather have a library than the interest of Gaston.

I’ve piled the books on the floor, literary stalagmites climbing up the wall like a flourishing bougainvillea vine. The smell is divine. Musty, like a garage, but still that intoxicating paperback scent I will always call home. I need to find a dedicated bookshelf, but I also don’t know that I want to commit to more furniture in my apartment.

I always said when I was leaving Australia, that landing back in San Francisco would just be a springboard, a launching pad, to the next place I want to live. That place could very well be abroad. So for now, I’ve axed the idea of committing to more furniture, even cheap and makeshift. I’ve another commitment in mind, and it may involve applying for a working visa somewhere over the rainbow.

 photo happy.gif

When things come together

I spent most of today in the arms of busy season, wrapped in a “hug” (translation: day-long series of valuation meetings). “EBITDA, cash flow projections, trading comparables, M&A transactions, strategic sale analysis, market multiples, discount rates, WACC’s, CAPM’s, assumptions…” If I’d brought my business meeting bingo card (I developed the idea early in my career to keep myself awake and more engaged in meetings that make me want to snore), I probably could have hit a blackout twice today. No joke. Best part – when you yell, “Bingo!” the client feels like you really get them and are emphatically supporting them in their endeavors. They think you’re agreeing with them, and you are winning. Everybody is winning.

Truth be told, I loved every minute of that meeting. It was like being back in my college finance courses. My little tail was wagging; I have no shame. I felt in my groove all day – I’d spent much of this past week coordinating for this meeting to take place, and it would have been a huge improvement in the process compared to last year. I was in my stride; I had no discomfort or nervousness leading into today. This is what I’m skilled and trained for. It felt great to hit my stride.

San Francisco is due for some rain on the tail-end of this week, and I’m looking forward to snuggling up with the fairy lights on, candles lit, and some quality cozy inside time I can cherish, listening to that much-needed rain.

I’ve begun watching the series House of Cards this week, too. I’ve heard good things, but I find this series truly addictive. I don’t follow 100% of the play by play, but it’s like watching masterminds paying chess, how adept they are at reading people and predicting plays. Fascinating. I really like Kevin Spacey in basically every film he’s done, and what he brings to this show does not disappoint.

And, news in the entertainment world has recently made its way across my google chrome news pages about an all-female remake of Ghostbusters with Kristen Wiig AND Melissa McCarthy on its way. Can it get better than that, really? Well, maybe if they were making an all-female remake of Indiana Jones to Diana Jones, too… But I digress…

I’m planning an event for our LGBT employee resource group at work, of which I am one of the co-leaders. The room has been reserved, catering ordered, budget secured, communications and invitations extended, and guest speakers set up from the San Francisco AIDS Foundation, a straight ally on supporting those in the community, and a younger staff member in our organization on the importance of role models, coaching, and mentoring for LGBT staff. It’s all coming together nicely.

Frank Underwood, Spacey’s character in House of Cards makes these plays with every intention, and each step is carefully thought out. Unlike that, mine is just haphazardly coming like I meant to do it all along, but we all really know I didn’t. Sometimes, good things just come together and you just gotta go with it. This is one of those times.

 photo thumbs up.gif

Words and pictures

A man is worth more than his words, and a woman more than her pictures…

A funny memory invaded my head this weekend. I remembered how I used to love using colored pencils to give a little pizzazz to illustrations in my old paperback books in elementary school. I would disengage because I’d already read 4 chapters ahead the night before on my own while we read it in class. If I wasn’t talking out loud in class or to the person next to me, I was lost in my own world. There simply was no in-between. I found color in between the lines, even though they were 16 colors I didn’t mix myself, by superseding the existing form with colors in my head pouring out my own wooden colored graphite magic wands.

I watched a movie recently, Words and Pictures, where an honors English teacher challenges his students to create moving work which shows who they are. If you’re interested in the plot of the film itself, I recommend watching it, but the purpose of this post is not to review the film. The pieces of art created within the story were what spoke to me – namely, a poem and a painting.

Who are you?
“I am a small poem on a
page with room for another.
Share with me this white field,
wide as an acre of snow,
clear but for these tiny
markings like the steps of birds.
Come now.
This is the trough of the wave,
the seconds after lightning.
Thin slice of silence
as music ends,
the freeze before melting.
Lie down beside me.
Make angels.
Make devils.
Make who you are.”

My attraction to this poem comes from an unexpected implication of the tone set by the last line, not the first. The beginning claims to be small, but the end says it doesn’t matter, make who you are. I started reading it, inferring one tone and found a new one somewhere along the way.

I am complete in my own right – my own poem. There is room where I am for another complete poem. There is no right or wrong poem for the page next to me. I’d like to think though, that the ideal poem to join me on the page will complement and draw further out the flavors of my own poem. My poem will draw out the flavors of her poem, neither detracting from the other, and creating something united and cohesive yet, with independent individual undulations catching the light differently. I also like how there is always room on a page for more. There is always something more to the story… Layer upon layer of words can write over older words, and colors can overlap each other in sedimentary slumber.

I could care less about the snow, but for the continually fresh canvas it paints in nature. Snow is a medium for impressions, yet it is temporary due to the changing state of water. It invites one to start anew on the smooth surface, and make an impression. Leave a mark, put your weight into it. Not only will you shape the snow, but the snow will shape you. It will sand down the harsh corners and edges to make smooth what once was sharp. The playfulness of even the letters and sounds of the word silence are ironic and provocative. The S zigs one way then another, while the L cuts right through to the point. The “ssss” of the C and the baby’s breath neutral background set by the “e” likens to wetness, heavy and fresh – all feelings of being both the clay and the duron sculpting tool.

We should all be so lucky to work in a medium constantly renewing itself like we are. In many climates, including mine of the windy city by the bay, the canvas is not so smooth, blank, or fresh. Still, one does what one must to make an impression in the wind and on the stone. However, there is an air of hopefulness and futility – while making an impression in the snow allows you to define and recharacterize who you are, who you are is perpetually, constantly evolving. There is a sadness in catching a temporary time and feeling of just one moment; there is a pointlessness because your impression will not last and will be wiped away. Just as you appear on this earth, and fade away, dust to dust… What is the point of capturing what you can, when you can, if someone will just paint over you one day? Or worse, paint over you to “make it better”… Creation and destruction…

To me, coloring in the black and white illustrations in the books of my youth, made my imagination and books themselves living, changing organisms. The pictures jumped off the page into a world of my choosing, within the confines of the storyteller’s making, and the words formed the framing and the drywall and the paint for the walls of which this world was constructed. Writers and artists create a world on a page, and the reader makes it theirs. It’s a beautiful dance, on a blank page.

In an exercise the protagonist takes his english class through, the students grunt to communicate basic needs, like cavemen. Sometimes you need to communicate things and grunts aren’t enough, so you create words, out of necessity because what was used isn’t enough. The old way simply doesn’t allow you to convey what it is you have to say. So you must find a new way to say it. It may be the same sunset everybody else sees, but the picture does it a justice that words cannot, and vice versa. Then add to that describing what you see and perceive that no else is looking at and, wow, what music you’ve made.

Apparently, Binoche’s own paintings are used as part of the set where she paints in her studio. There is one painting in particular that speaks to the very dual nature of words and pictures. It uses purple to shape one person and red to shape another in the painting, and everywhere they are connected is blue. Firstly, you normally learn in kindergarten art class that red and blue make purple. So to me, using the colors that way say when two people join, they can find middle ground in a new blue world together and it just works. Maybe you think red is anger and blue sadness, but beyond recognizing the emotion on its own, blue is a new color that comes from the fundamental intertwining of the colors. The lines give impressions, but not complete beings. It demonstrates through a picture where words fail, where you can’t see the end of the purple person or the start of the red person, but you see this beating blue heart of the two… It’s all connected.

 photo FullSizeRender 6.jpg

I find the pieces used in the film both beautiful and inspiring. That if you can find something to say and a way to say it, well that is how you make who you are. Perhaps you use words, maybe you use pictures, but most importantly, it’s what you say and how you say it. Sometimes though, even words and pictures can fail to truly capture something that is free and longs to be born.