Monday, January 31, 2005

mud and metal mixing good

On this page I usually try to include a song's lyrics and a few thoughts on it, along with a story or two. I do this because there are songs I want people to experience - I like them a lot. But I don't pretend to have insight into what the songs mean - this just doesn't seem to make much sense to me. So I'm trying to figure this sort of thing out - I have an opinion I think.

What can you explain? What is individual? What is shared?

Explaining knowledge-based things (like science) is usually pretty good - it's necessary. This is not to say that knowledge-gaining shouldn't be pre-dominantly experiential and personal.

Explaining jokes is usually not that great - there is some strange thing about humor where it's some insider thing - some people and things are funny, but most jokes and humor comes from situated knowledge or insight

Explaining moral/ethical decisions - this seems to be a very good thing - because we have to live with each other and with everyone's differences, we need to have some degree of homogenization through interchange - dialogue, reason giving, interaction - that sort of thing.

Explaining beauty - this is difficult - I think it might be situational, specific, or case-based. I'm not sure, but I feel like some way of cultivating appreciation and understanding of beauty is personal and part is shared with others. I think that someone can tell others why something seems beautiful to one's self, but cannot say it to change others' views in a fundamental way. That change needs to be self-created.

Explaining analogies - analogies can be made explicit, can be developed - drawing the connections is the most important thing, but explanation can be helpful.

Explaining metaphors - unlike analogies, I think metaphors are more like jokes or something - they draw the connection, but part of their aesthetic is in not being explicated.

Explaining movies is sometimes helpful. Usually it isn't necessary, but if someone comes in late, it might be fine to bring them up to the present scene is sometimes good.

Interpreting lyrics to songs is a dangerous game. I'm not quite sure whether I like it. There are many places for getting lyrics to songs - one of them has it set up so people can post what they think the songs mean - it's - at first I thought this was a cool idea. Then I realized I would much prefer the site was something more like or - I don't think that 'the' meanings of songs can be written by a bunch of people posting stuff to websites.

I've found in reading a lot of people's responses to lyrics of songs are varied, but I don't usually appreciate them. Some of the response types are the following: (a) this song is awesome: I just love how _____ says ______; (b) this song obviously means _____, where blank here almost always has to do with a relationship with someone the singer had a special relationship with; (c) no, stupid, you're wrong - this song is about ______; or (d) i can't believe that no one has posted on this song because it is so awesome.

It doesn't fail that people will make dumb comments if given the opportunity, and I'm fine with that, but I was actually hoping that at least a few of these posts would be interesting and nice to read. Maybe a few have been. But mostly I've been annoyed reading these. Type in the following into google and read the responses if you want a a particularly bad example: songmeanings postal become - click the first link. Read it. You'll understand my point exactly.

People like to say that things are love songs even when they aren't talking about love at all. So it either means trying to find meaning that didn't used to be there (which is fine) or explaining a metaphor in so much detail that I am slightly offended.

So what do I think is better than this style of describing/explaining the meaning of songs? Well, first of all, I'm going to try to keep the identification of problems and solutions to a minimum in this particular place. That's not my goal. But I do want to explain why I am doing what I'm doing. I think that pointing out to other people the songs that one thinks are important might be good enough. Perhaps saying a little bit about why they are important is good too. But saying what they mean doesn't seem important to me. I don't need to know what Jason Lytle and Grandaddy meant by the song here. I don't need to know whether they actually think mud and metal are mixing good when trash congregates in meadows and forests, or whether they actually hate that very idea with a passion. I just need to hear the song and think about it. And I don't need to decide whether it is metaphorical for an 'in-love' relationship or just based on some notable experience (I guess the latter, but with the Postal Service, it's harder for me to know for sure). I'm happy enough knowing that I like the song - I like both of the potential meanings that have occurred to me, but I might be wrong also. I like the imagery. I like the fact that he considers owls and deer, forests and meadows, refrigerators and microwaves important enough to write songs about. And just try to make this song metaphorical for some romantic relationship.

Broken Household Appliance National Forest by Grandaddy

Sit on the toaster like a rock
no need to worry about a shock
all of the microwaves are dead
just like the salamander said
the refrigerators house the frogs
the conduit is the hollow log

Broken household
appliance national Forest
air conditioners in the woods
Broken household
appliance national Forest
mud and metal mixing good

Meadows resemble showroom floors
owls fly out of oven doors
stream banks are lined with vacuum bags
flowers reside with filthy rags
a family of deer were happy that
the clearing looked like a laundry mat

Broken household
appliance national Forest
air conditioners in the woods
Broken household
appliance national Forest
mud and metal mixing good

Sunday, January 30, 2005

working for a paycheck

Today was really good. Sometimes talking with someone can make me feel beyond words. Good. I won't say any more; I'll just feel good.

I was having a nice conversation with a friend a couple weeks ago. At one point we were talking about our futures, next steps in our lives. She said something then about how relationships with other people are one of the most important determining factors in figuring out how to live. She was totally right. It's something that I try really hard to temper because it can be taken too far.

Virtue often exists as the middle between two extreme vices. This is understood by philosophers and non-philosophers alike. Here's the problem. Assume for a second that the model we're working with is grey scale. Things are more black or white - things are different tints/shades of grey. Black and white might be the vices here. So we want grey, right? Well, there is a lot of range in the greys so just because something is grey isn't that helpful. Trying to figure out how to temper something, how to find a happy (virtuous) medium - that's the trouble.

Christian theologian Reinhold Niebuhr discusses the existential, religious anxiety caused by the conflict between finitude (realizing that one isn't all-powerful, that one is constrained and imperfect) and self-transcendence (one's ability to step outside of one's self and evaluate one's life, and deliberately influence one's life). This anxiety isn't just inherent in these deepest, personally reflective moments of religious purpose. I think once I started living reflectively (like five or six minutes ago), this became a constant pressure (and hopefully I can cure it in the next few minutes). I don't worry about what things are white or black - I'm sure some people do. I question whether black or white is better than grey in some particular case, or which grey is the right medium. Then I realize the inadequacy of the single white-grey-black scale. But none of those really helps.

So my friend says or my brother says, "stop thinking about it - start doing something. Act. Be active. Then just deal with whatever as it comes." Yes, I say - that's what I need to do. In actuality, I probably do this much more than one might guess. I live. I experience. I don't sit around writing about stuff without ever doing anything. I'm not a chronic wallflower - I can enjoy the book and the perks without being a wallflower all the time. But I still don't feel like anyone has given me an adequate way of living that allows for some reflection along with experience except this one that I use in my life - most emphasize either experience or reflection at the expense of the other. I try to think about things and worry about them for a while. Then I try to stop and just make a decision and go with it, enjoy it. And since I'm almost always worried about the future, I rarely worry about the past enough to question my decisions. And yes, I enjoy and exist fully in the present, too, thank you very much.

What does this mean? Practical. Applied. Specific. Relevant. I am spending a lot of time thinking about my future - where I'll be the next few years - what I'll be doing - where I won't be - what I won't be doing - who I'll be around - who won't be around - who will be close - who will be distant - why it matters. I need to figure out what I have to do to be able to go anywhere and be happy. I have some ideas.

So if you want to make your heart flutter or maybe pause to catch a breath, listen to this song and read the words - if you have a hard time listening to words the first few times you hear songs (like I do), read the words as you listen - some of you may be able to listen to the words without reading the lyrics - that's fine. It is almost overwhelming, but it's not because it's depressing (like It's a Motherfucker by the Eels for example). It's overwhelming because it's incredible. My brother's words describe the experience of this song perfectly: "First day of my life knocks me down every time I hear it" - I couldn't have said it better. Instead, I'll say just this: There are a lot of good songs out there. This is one of them.

First Day of my Life by Bright Eyes

This is the first day of my life
I swear I was born right in the doorway
I went out in the rain suddenly everything changed
Their spreading blankets on the beach

Yours is the first face that I saw
I think I was blind before I met you
Now I don’t know where I am
I don’t know where I’ve been
But I know where I want to go

And so I thought I’d let you know
That these things take forever
I especially am slow
But I realize that I need you
And I wondered if I could come home

Remember the time you drove all night
Just to meet me in the morning
And I thought it was strange you said everything changed
You felt as if you had just woke up
And you said “this is the first day of my life
I’m glad I didn’t die before I met you
But now I don’t care I could go anywhere with you
And I’d probably be happy”

So if you want to be with me
With these things there’s no telling
We just have to wait and see
But I’d rather be working for a paycheck
Then waiting to win the lottery
Besides maybe this time is different
I mean I really think you like me

Thursday, January 27, 2005

getting your chance to try

I am _____
I do _____
I have ______

I would like to be _____
I want to do _____
I want to have ______


It might help if you imagine the present as the past. It might help to imagine the future as the present. You're constructing your life right now - awesome isn't it. You're writing your life story. You're exploring your life's path. Choose your metaphor/frame. Okay, so don't fill in those blanks - they're limiting. But ask yourself some questions like that.

And do it again, maybe not tomorrow, but sometime. Make it a ritual.

What are my addictions: not gum, not coffee, not tobacco, not alcohol, not poker, perhaps exercise, perhaps showers, perhaps tea (sometime in the future). I often tell people to choose their addictions wisely.

Today, I was up early for an eye appointment - they didn't tell me much, so I'm going to hope that no news is good news. And I don't really like bad news. Okay, I'm sorry - that might be a pretty bad reference - I apologize. At any rate, I have to go back to get my eyes dilated sometime - the person said I wouldn't be able to read/drive after getting my eyes dilated, and I didn't feel like today was the day for that.

Last night I had an interesting conversation with someone (friend of a friend) who has worked in an animal experimentation laboratory at the University of Minnesota. She took care of the rats. There were a lot of animals there, and lots of different kinds. And if you want this job, you could probably get it - she thought it was available. You could see how animals live when they are objects of experimentation. You could get an inside glance at things. I asked her to write down her thoughts and experiences - so many people I know worry about this sort of thing. And they don't know what to do - they don't know what is really going on. They don't know even whether it might be all right. And this sort of thing gets so confusing. I want to hear from reflectively engaged people working on factory farms, zoos/aquariums, and slaughterhouses. I want to know what they experience, what they thought of things. I want to collect this sort of thing so I don't have to experience everything myself (though I might like to experience a few of these things).

Back to my life (for those of you who are wondering, I just cut a chunk out of this writing because it didn't relate at all to anything right now - it was on factory farms, vegetarianism, and animals - I'll post it once I've had a little bit of time to think)

Right now is my chance to try - it's my short, warm moment. Soon I'll be remembering today. Soon the present will be the past. The good life is a simple metaphor/title that philosophers whip out any time someone is trying to figure out how to live. People have been thinking about it a lot for a long time. But I'd say even more people have been living their lives, even living deliberately/reflectively/optimistically/excitingly for just as long. There's a lot of collective experience and experimentation going on anthropologically here. It doesn't take philosophers to figure out this sort of thing. It takes everyone.

Right now, I think that finding meaning and purpose in one's life is good. Understanding one's values is important. Having a safety net (one of the About a Boy principles) is important. Knowing some of the connections in your life is good. Knowing how you fit in, what role you play, knowing your home (place, habitat, and those you share it with), and knowing some of the main aspects of your life - these are good things.

When I'm 80, when I'm old - I want to have memories of this time - I want there to be good times. Stories for today are stories for tomorrow. The story from today is just this: I was in 8th grade - here is where the things I 'do' started becoming important, started defining and constructing the reality of me. I was playing music, and I was playing soccer. I was caring about academics, and I was beginning my days of insomnia. I remember an early day in the spring, in Pioneer Park. It was one of those warm, melting days of spring in South Dakota, where it's still cold out, but it feels really warm. There was still a lot of snow, a lot of melting snow on the ground. It was the first day of playing competitive soccer with high schoolers. I was wearing my blue Umbro sweatshirt (the one I still often wear) - I had on a warm winter hat, shorts and shinguards. We started playing soccer in the snow and slush. I felt so good - I was intimidated by the older people on the team, but my skills were such that I do everything they could do and more - I was also as tall as I am today (though I weighed much less).

I remember how quiet I was at first, and I think of how I got so much louder (perhaps obnoxious) over my years of playing soccer. And this is indicative of how I live everything. I start out quiet. I listen. I watch. I wait. Everyone thinks I'm shy. And then they live in continual surprise. I like forcing people to rethink me, surprising them, always trying to give them something they don't expect. Until they know me well - then I'm boringly erratic, boringly eccentric. I'm predictably random. But I'm certainly not introverted, and I'm not extraverted either. Those words just flow off me as time goes on.

And I understand quiet people.
And I understand loud people.
And I like them both, and I don't expect that to be some static consistent part of their lives. And I think that I gain confidence as I do things (or at least start pretending somehow, which is the same thing anyway - when everything's pretend, it doesn't matter). And I think that when I'm 80, I'll probably be more confident than I am today. But I also expect that I'll continue finding things that I'm not good at, that I have no confidence in myself when I'm doing them. And I hope that I keep trying at least a few new things every day. The memories of a man in his old age are the deeds of a man in his prime. I am sure I'll be old some day, but I don't know if I'll ever be in my prime.

Free Four by Pink Floyd

The memories of a man in his old age
Are the deeds of a man in his prime.
You shuffle in gloom of the sickroom
And talk to yourself as you die.

Life is a short, warm moment
And death is a long cold rest.
You get your chance to try in the twinkling of an eye:
Eighty years, with luck, or even less.

So all aboard for the American tour,
And maybe you'll make it to the top.
And mind how you go, and I can tell you, 'cause I know
You may find it hard to get off.

You are the angel of death
And I am the dead man's son.
And he was buried like a mole in a fox hole.
And everyone is still in the run.

And who is the master of fox hounds?
And who says the hunt has begun?
And who calls the tune in the courtroom?
And who beats the funeral drum?

The memories of a man in his old age
Are the deeds of a man in his prime.
You shuffle in gloom in the sickroom
And talk to yourself till you die.

Wednesday, January 26, 2005

parental advice

Here's a story to entertain you: I've been a musician for most of my life - singing, playing instruments, and composing music for quite a while. And I can't snap my fingers. I can whistle. I sometimes make didgeridoo sounds with my voice. I can clap my hands. I can do lots of other things with my hands. I can't snap. And I am not that good at breathing - most of the instruments I played weren't wind instruments. My singing is 'less natural' than it should be for choir - I'm a mimic when it comes to singing so I try to sound like other people. I have been able to hear my real/normal/natural voice a few times, and I worked really hard on it while taking a voice class early in college. But none of this really matters when I can't snap - I remember in 7th grade, I was in a select choir, and that was the first time that I couldn't hide this from music teachers and stuff - and my director couldn't teach me. And I tried to learn. And I tried. But it still hasn't happened yet - I'm almost 25 years old - I could whistle (inhaling and exhaling) by the time I was 6 years old (maybe before, but I remember it then because my grandfather taught me).

In other news today:
Sometimes I don't even know what I'm doing or where my time goes - I am 99.9% sure that I'm not a narcoleptic, but it can be scary every once in a while - time just goes away - I suppose I only can say that because of the measurability of time.

Interesting note - I was told today that I'm the first guy that this girl knows who has watched a full episode of Sex and the City - and I've watched a bunch of them. So I told her that we should watch more of it sometime. Maybe that would be fun. Then I could force a few other guys to watch it also.

Past that, I have a lot to do these next couple days with regard to conference paper submissions and thesis research preparation. Then I'll be able to get into the courses I'm taking in more detail, while simultaneously figuring out what I'm going to do with the next part of my life.

I really like this song a lot, and the story is that between the end of December and the beginning of January, both my brother and a best friend mentioned to me that they liked it. Man, I'm not sure how it is changing my life - I do think that it probably has a lot of potential to do something like that.

How do I know I'm an overly sentimental person - this song makes me feel like crying, but my right eye is still messed up - I'll get that looked at tomorrow. So anyway, am I sentimental? That's the question for today? Ask yourself - am I sentimental? Are you? What does that really mean?

Father and Son by Cat Stevens

It’s not time to make a change,
Just relax, take it easy.
You’re still young, that’s your fault,
There’s so much you have to know.
Find a girl, settle down,
If you want you can marry.
Look at me, I am old, but I’m happy.

I was once like you are now, and I know that it’s not easy,
To be calm when you’ve found something going on.
But take your time, think a lot,
Why, think of everything you’ve got.
For you will still be here tomorrow, but your dreams may not.

How can I try to explain, when I do he turns away again.
It’s always been the same, same old story.
From the moment I could talk I was ordered to listen.
Now there’s a way and I know that I have to go away.
I know I have to go.

It’s not time to make a change,
Just sit down, take it slowly.
You’re still young, that’s your fault,
There’s so much you have to go through.
Find a girl, settle down,
If you want you can marry.
Look at me, I am old, but I’m happy.
(son-- away away away, I know I have to
Make this decision alone - no)

All the times that I cried, keeping all the things I knew inside,
It’s hard, but it’s harder to ignore it.
If they were right, I’d agree, but it’s them you know not me.
Now there’s a way and I know that I have to go away.
I know I have to go.
(father-- stay stay stay, why must you go and
Make this decision alone? )

for the wheels to nullify

I'm really tired right now, but I'm feeling pretty decent I guess. I'm hoping that I did enough work today, got enough done. I feel like I did a bunch, but probably not as much as I was doing last semester - I guess I can't measure my productivity on a time when I felt like I was spread way too thin. I have no idea where I'm at in life right now - I'm pretty sure that I'm not bound like the song I've chosen describes - but I still think it is a masterfully written song. I think that I might choose the following few songs to write a paper about for that conference I was mentioning - they all relate to climate change somehow - if you have others that you think relate, send me an email:

Radiohead - Idioteque
The Postal Service - Sleeping In
Modest Mouse - World At Large
Jack Johnson - The Horizon has been Defeated

This will allow me to describe a few other songs by these musicians, which will be good. But it will also make connections between popular culture studies and environmental literature. It should be fun. I'll write more on this later.

The following song is a well chosen extended metaphor. See if you can pick up on it.

The Shins - A Call to Apathy

Untie me, I've said no vows
The train is getting way too loud
I gotta leave here my girl
Get on with my lonely life

Just leave the ring on the rail
For the wheels to nullify

Until this turn in my head
I let you stay and you paid no rent
I spent twelve long months on the lam

That's enough sitting on the fence
For the fear of breaking dams

I found a fatal flaw
In the logic of love
And go out of my head

You love a sinking stone
That'll never elope
So get used to the lonesome
Girl, you must atone some
Don't leave me no phone number there
La dee da

It took me all of a year
To put the poison pill to your ear
But now I stand on honest ground, on honest ground

You want to fight for this love
But honey you cannot wrestle a dove
So baby it's clear

You want to jump and dance
But you sat on your hands
And lost your only chance

Go back to your hometown
Get your feet on the ground
And stop floating around

I found a fatal flaw
In the logic of love
And went out of my head

You love a sinking stone
That'll never elope
So get used to used to the lonesome
Girl, you must atone some
Don't leave me no phone number there
La dee da

Tuesday, January 25, 2005

I need to know

Describe my identity. For the purposes of this assignment, describe my research identity. Who am I, and what do I do? I'm supposed to be an academic for this part of my life at least. What does that mean about me? I guess I might as well get started trying to figure out who I am.

I'm flexible. I'm experimental and adaptive - I veto those things I do not like. I'm reflective. I try to be active. I am trying to be more confident. I'm trying to be an optimist. I'm trying to be better at saying no. I'm trying to accept disappointment, pain, and difficulty in a better way. I am thankful. I am often sentimental.

I like people. I like the environment. I like animals, tea, good food, the sun, trees, grass, my family, friends, rivers, music, the sounds of a B3 organ and a Fender Rhodes electric piano, reading, drawing, writing, talking with people I care about, playing music and singing, playing and coaching soccer, playing ultimate frisbee, swimming (or just spending time in water), imagining, dreaming, sleeping, traveling, adventure, the smell of good food and decomposing leaves (but probably not combined), and fruit juices.

Academically, I like a lot of things - they interest me. Things often interest me because they interest other people, sometimes because they don't. Things interest me because they are important to figuring out how people should relate to and act regarding the environment. People have been worrying about how to relate to and act regarding other people for quite a while, but it's only recently that nonhumans have been considered something to worry about.

I am interested in more than I will ever get to study in detail. This is one reason I like teaching - I get to learn with students about their interests. I'm a generalist - I confess it - I know that it will make my life difficult in academia. I don't even know whether I want to do science, humanities, or application (law/policy). I just don't know. I try to surround myself with friends who are good people, but also people who are doing something I'm interested in - this way I can keep up on those areas and know that good things are happening in them, even if I can't do everything. I try to connect with other people's lives, not because it's going to get me jobs, but because I think that a lot of value is tied up in that sort of thing.

After writing up my research identity, my professor told me that I need to engage reality more - affect change rather than documenting it. That's intriguing because while I was brainstorming this whole last weekend about this sort of thing, I had the quote from Gandhi on being the change that you wish for the world written in the center of my notebook page. I just don't know what's going on. I know that wherever I end up these next few years, I will be quite well off - I'll find good people to work with and learn from. I'll spend my time on good things - I'll get a job in the end, hopefully one I like in a place I like, doing what I like, near people I like. I'll pay off my college loans so that I'm less bound and more free. Then I'll probably do something like put a down payment on a house to bind myself again - just because it makes economic sense.

I do feel like I'm finding what I want to find at the University of Minnesota right now, and I'm not sure what that means - I'm not sure if this would change as time goes on, whether the program will be cooperative with my goals - that sort of thing. But I'm liking the classes I'm in (and was in last fall) - I'm liking the people I know and the experiences I'm having. I think that a little bit more support not just for me, but for everyone would be better.

More than anything with this program, I'm scared of TechComm - I told my advisor that in my last email to him about the program - I don't want anything to do with TechComm - if the program was just Rhetoric, and people were studying TC or whatever, I'd be happy. I feel like out of the main people who are doing graduate stuff here, only a couple would I want to take classes with, and less than half would I be fine with taking classes with. And I haven't really taken any bad classes so far so it could be that they're coming, and I can't avoid them.

And the University of Minnesota is a good institution, with good professors, doing good work. I know people here. And I would be fine studying here. Three of the eight PhD programs I have applied to would involve me studying at the University of Minnesota - I obviously think well of it. I am applying to three philosophy programs, an english program, a rhetoric program, two environmental studies programs, and an ecology/biology program. I'm applying to the public research universities in Reno, Tucson, Eugene, Seattle, Madison, Minneapolis, and Brookings. I have preferences between institutions within disciplines, but I don't have overall preferences. I'm not quite sure how I'm going to decide between philosophy, rhetoric, environmental studies, and ecology. They're all so different, and the differences will dictate where I'm at for quite a while. If you have any guidance for this - if you can offer me any thoughts that might not have occurred to me, please do so. All of my applications have been sent, and I expect to start hearing from programs in a month or so.

If any of you know of any songs you like that are implicitly or explicitly related to the environment, you should let me know about them. I'm investigating a possible presentation on music lyrics and the environment for this summer's Association for the Study of Literature and the Environment conference. Two of my colleagues are looking at a movie (another element of popular culture), and I think that music lyrics are a good choice, especially given my interest in them.

This endeavor would be in addition to me pursuing and looking at the topic of Ecosystem Health (what I'm currently studying for my MA thesis).

At any rate, this song comes from my trip to England - I can't figure out much about this group, but the song is very good. I hope you can find it and can listen to it. I especially like (and I know others do also) "I need to know there's a little hope inside of you"

Need by Archive

You've got time, time on your hands
Bury your head in the sand
Take your time, hurry it up
Cause it sits there and just drift away

You've got worries more than enough
Course it's rough you soon know that it's tough
All that time, time on your hands
Cause it sits there and just drift away
I need to know
I've been sitting into a prayer pew
I need to know
There's a little hope inside of you
But that might
Might not be

Oh my baby please look me up
When you feel that you've had enough
You were mine I was yours
Sit to see and now drift away

I need to know
I've been sitting into a prayer pew
I need to know
There's a little hope inside of you and
I need to know
I've been sitting into a prayer pew
I need to know
There's a little hope inside of you
But there might, might not be

Thursday, January 20, 2005

Everything Will Change

My trip to England was amazing - I had a great time - I look forward to telling people about it when I get the chance. It was a good mix of tourizing London, hanging out, and doing Britishly normal activities. I was there for nearly one week, and I loved nearly every minute of it. There are some amazing people at the London School of Economics - I met a number of them.

I saw some of the tourist stuff.
I watched a lot of Alias and Sex and the City.
I drew a picture of a bridge.
I finished the lyrics to a song I started three years ago.
I spent a week with a best friend.
I found some new songs to like.
I returned ready for a very good spring semester.
I started making plans to play guitar and sing at coffee houses in my area.
I ate very good Indian food.
I went to lectures on International Relations/Law and on Corporate Environmental Responsibility.
I went swimming with a bunch of Brits.
I said hi to the Queen Mum (okay, first lie).
I missed the coldest week of winter in Minnesota.
I developed some eye-problem - I think this is the only bad thing from the last week really. I have an appointment for next Thursday to get it checked out.

This song is good - it has been in my head today - it seems like a good song to whistle to - give it a try - then figure out whether it is easy to whistle in tune. Then sing the lyrics with it. Give as much as you can.

Postal Service - Brand New Colony

I'll be the grapes fermented,
Bottled and served with the table set in my finest suit
Like a perfect gentlemen
I'll be the fire escape that's bolted to the ancient brick
Where you will sit and contemplate your day

I'll be the waterwings that save you if you start drowning
In an open tab when your judgment's on the brink
I'll be the phonograph that plays your favorite
Albums back as your lying there drifting off to sleep...
I'll be the platform shoes and undo what heredity's done to you...
You won't have to strain to look into my eyes
I'll be your winter coat buttoned and zipped straight to the throat
With the collar up so you won't catch a cold

I want to take you far from the cynics in this town
And kiss you on the mouth
We'll cut our bodies free from the tethers of this scene,
Start a brand new colony
Where everything will change,
We'll give ourselves new names, identities erased
The sun will heat the grounds
Under our bare feet in this brand new colony
Everything will change

Tuesday, January 11, 2005

Warm light on a winter day

In a few hours, I'll fly to London, and that will be good. I'm excited, and I'm glad. I think that a lot can be said about a lot of things, but I'll beg silence for the next week or so. Until then, listen to this song and cherish whatever meaning it holds for you - it's quite beautiful. All my best.

The Shins - Pink Bullets

I was just bony hands as cold as a winter pole
You held a warm stone out new flowing blood to hold
Oh what a contrast you were to the brutes in the halls
My timid young fingers held a decent animal

Over the ramparts you tossed
The scent of your skin and some foreign flowers
Tied to a brick
Sweet as a song
The years have been short
But the days were long

Cool of a temperate breeze from dark skies to wet grass
We fell in a field it seems now a thousand summers passed
When our kite lines first crossed
We tied them into knots
And finally fly apart
We had to cut them off

Since then it's been a book you read in reverse
So you understand less as the pages turn
Or a movie so crass
And awkwardly cast
Even I could be the star

I don't look back much as a rule
And all this way before murder was cool
But your memory is here and I'd it to stay
Warm light on a winter day

Over the ramparts you tossed
The scent of your skin and some foreign flowers
Tied to a brick
Sweet as a song
The years have been short
But the days go slowly by
Two loose kites falling from the sky
Drawn to the ground and an end to flight

Monday, January 10, 2005

A Return of Sorts

I haven't written here for a while, for a number of reasons, most of them related to being busy and on break. We'll see if I can keep things going now.

Having made it through a very busy semester, I'm excited for two things: a more relaxed semester and a trip to London. I'm quite sure it will be a great trip. I don't especially like flying, but there aren't any trains to England yet (to my knowledge). The distance is quite simply too far for me to row - it seems farther than ever before.

I'll have an update on this trip later. But right now, it might humor some of you to read a few highlights of this last year - I'll keep adding to them as I remember them. And these short blips certainly don't do the memories justice. I did edit out the names from the way it was written up before. It shouldn't matter too much. And I'm not including a song's lyrics on this post. -- Best wishes this year - all of you.

my most difficult memories of this last year:

my brother's divorce - i spent a lot of time worrying about him and my niece

choosing to have the busiest semester of my life this fall making my life pretty difficult at times

not being in the same town as my girlfriend while we were dating - breaking up - asking her in december if she still liked me and her saying no

my best memories of this last year:

playing frisbee in the little park by the snelling house

teaching for the first time - i was sometimes nervous, always busy, but i really felt like i was doing something good

watching strange french movies with a friend last spring (still haven't found a movie as good as amelie to watch, but the best part is that it doesn't matter too much)

seeing some awesome concerts - ben folds and rilo kiley were great, and death cab for cutie was amazing

having academic discussions with friends

going to two conferences over the summer (in estes park and eugene) where i met a bunch of nice and interesting people

getting lost while wandering around prairie pothole wetlands - this was one of the most frustrating experiences of my life, but afterwards i've come to appreciate that frustration (and i bought a compass)

my birthday party when a bunch of friends from brookings and from college all came - i had an awesome time - a special friend made cake, we sat around and talked, and played frisbee

sitting around and talking to my parents while on break - this one seems pretty simple, but it's been a pretty big part of my life this last year

going on trips to western south dakota with friends over spring break and this summer - we saw buffalo and hung out in the hills

going catfish fishing with my dad and grandpa in june when the white river was running - taking pictures and wandering the river bottom

hanging out with my niece on my numerous visits to rapid city - she is an awesome little girl - i especially like playing hide and seek

sitting at home in my basement and playing online poker with my brother - i also owe him for exposing me to some great music this year

my favorite musical groups of the year: the shins, death cab for cutie, the postal service, iron and wine, and rilo kiley

watching eternal sunshine of the spotless mind and garden state - my two favorite movies of the year - runners up include i heart huckabees and fahrentheit 9/11

coaching soccer over the summer - as always i had fun coaching - i think it's my favorite job i've done - right now i'm not sure if i'll coach again this summer

going to a friend's cottage in wisconsin - playing music, going boating, and being with great friends

playing tennis with a friend last summer - i guess we didn't play more than once, and that wasn't for very long, but i felt as happy/content/comfortable as i can remember

dating a remarkable girl - someone with whom i love dreaming - there are more amazing memories than i will include here - i really think she is an amazing person, and i wish things had worked out better - i guess it's possible the future will be just as good