Sunday, May 08, 2005

we together make a limb

so i study rhetoric - that's what my graduate work is currently in. maybe i've already mentioned this, but it's what is on my mind right now. rhetoric is. . . i have to explain it to so many friends, use its assumptions/methods in so many papers, remind myself so often why i'm doing what i'm doing. it should come easy. but it doesn't. i came to rhetoric because i could study the environmental humanities in an interdisciplinary way. i could try to understand why people care about things - how they relate to, connect with, and function in the world.

william kittredge understands why i'm studying rhetoric, why i think it's important, why it matters in terms of the things i care about. he says:

"We live in stories. What we are is stories. We do things because of what is called character, and our character is formed by the stories we learn to live in. Late in the night we listen to our own breathing in the dark and rework our stories. We do it again the next morning, and all day long, before the looking glass of ourselves, reinventing reasons for our lives. Other than such storytelling there is no reason to things."

and he thinks that we need better stories that help us understand life better. i think we need to just look a little harder for them. i find them all over. i listen and watch for them. i create them in my head. they may not be perfect, but they help.

and there are other things that aren't stories - most importantly there are experiences. there are everyday, normal experiences and experiences that are outside our norm. there is home, and there are adventures. without experiences, we don't have any use or even possibility of stories. but without stories, we don't have any understanding of experiences. it's hard to value and care for stuff without a story.

here is a story - it helps me understand some parts of my life. i like the song very much. there are other stories that i attach to the song, give it value independent of its meaning to the writer/singer. and i think that it illustrates why studying rhetoric isn't such a bad thing - i may not have much more to contribute than anyone else who hears this song, but i recognize the importance of it - why i should be attentive to it. why i should appreciate it. why i should love it.

red right ankle by the decemberists

This is the story of your red right ankle
And how it came to meet your leg
And how the muscle, bone, and sinews tangled
And how the skin was softly shed

And how it whispered “Oh, adhere to me
For we are bound by symmetry
And whatever differences our lives have been
We together make a limb.”
This is the story of your red right ankle.

This is the story of your gypsy uncle
You never knew ‘cause he was dead
And how his face was carved and rift with wrinkles
In the picture in your head.

And remember how you found the key
To his hideout in the Pyrenees
But you wanted to keep his secret safe
So you threw the key away.
This is the story of your gypsy uncle.

This is the story of the boys who loved you
Who love you now and loved you then
And some were sweet, some were cold and snuffed you
And some just laid around in bed.

Some had crumbled you straight to your knees
Did it cruel, did it tenderly
Some had crawled their way into your heart
To rend your ventricles apart
This is the story of the boys who loved you
This is the story of your red right ankle.

it's so fucking beautiful

today, i saw some close family friends, including the amazing woman who lived next door to my family in my birthplace and first hometown. and i saw my mom (and dad) - it was good - hopefully eating lunch with me was a good enough mother's day present.

either don't regret the stuff you do, or don't do the stuff you'll regret. this is just another lesson from my upcoming self-help book (cleverly titled "don't sweat on my stuff, and it's all my stuff"). i've also mentioned the most important lesson before - choose your addictions wisely. these little quips are either pointless or brilliant - depending on whether or not you need little hints to help you with your life (as i do). the title for that book actually came to me in a dream my junior year of college when i had this dream that i was on tour promoting the book i had just written, of that title. it's quite crazy how something like that can happen. i haven't yet written the book, but i will soon, and it'll hopefully be fun and entertaining, not to mention having some other purpose (like helping me and everyone else learn about life somehow).

today i made an imovie video from footage i took on a trip with friends to wisconsin this spring. i really like how the video turned out. let me know if you want to see it sometime.

this may seem cryptic, but it's really apparent to me right now. my good friend said recently, "I love relationships - they're so incredible. That's all I can say." i totally agree. i like them when they are not always what one expects, but somehow so amazingly good. like stars, they are so fucking beautiful.

spectacular views by rilo kiley

In steep cliffs
with rocks all piled up
mysteries of your passing luck
Ages past
shells and bits of bone
forming new limestone
to give things their turn

There are no bad words for the coast today
You never knew why you felt so good
in the strangest of places
Like in waiting rooms
and long lines that made you late
and mall parking lots on holidays.

There are no bad words for the coast today
when we hold our breath until nothing's left
it all starts to fade.

We can see the stars
from where the birds make their homes
staring back at us.
but distanced perfectly
projected endlessly
it's so fucking beautiful.

There are no bad words for the coast today
then you ask what's a palisade
and if we're too late for happiness?

Sunday, May 01, 2005

just this afternoon

it's amazing to me what can make me feel uneasy, not in the worst of ways, but in a bad enough way. let me explain. no, there is too much. let me summarize.

the last few days have been good enough, but i've had worries over money, school (particularly a paper i'm writing and decisions being made by my department), friends, and the cold weather. it's may 1, usually my favorite month, but it doesn't feel all that happy today.

i was lucky enough to spend time around some friends and my brother this weekend, lucky enough to watch a baseball game and an ultimate frisbee match. i have been lucky enough to talk with a best friend some.

but the team i was hoping to win the baseball game didn't win. the team i was hoping to win the ultimate match didn't win. my friend on that team was sad. i saw twenty or so girls crying afterwards and hugging each other.

there are few things that pain me more than someone i care about being sad - she wasn't crying, but her friends were, and she probably felt like it. i hadn't seen her in nearly a year. i wanted to see her happy. and i didn't know what to do - i certainly didn't belong there - i had no place there, but i didn't want to leave without saying hi. so i said hi, this probably isn't a good time - i'll talk to you later.

it's days like this that make me question myself, any optimism i have, make me feel worn. i could blame it on the stress of the end of a semester. i could say that the cold makes me sad. but that's not it at all. i really don't like it when life is hard on those i care about. i don't want to protect them from hard days (though this crosses my mind). i don't want to make them feel better when things are hard by making them ignore the bad (though i usually do want to do this). what i want to say is that i just want them to feel good whenever possible. i want to help them feel good. i'm not sure really what i want.

but these feelings go through me - sometimes when i think about my older brother, often enough with my closest friends, right now with my uncle and cousins.

definitely recognize that my overall views and moods these last few days haven't been all that unhappy - just this afternoon. just this afternoon.

avalon by sigur ros

there aren't any lyrics - and unlike other sigur ros songs, there's no singing in icelandic/hopelandic either. but listen to the song. somehow or other it's hopeful.