Friday, March 30, 2007

it may be roughgoing

i have the spring break disease, and it's good. nothing all that much happening really--i wake up, do some grading or some research/brainstorming, go for a run or throw a frisbee for a while, and eat some good food somewhere in there. life in southern california is pretty nice, even when the weather is a little cool for the area's norm. in other words, i'm having a great time with my friends kevin and tracy (among others). i've went to some classes, played basketball, and watched a swimming meet. grading 37 takehomes--each 8-9 pages--takes a little bit of time.

besides that, i've had some very strange dreams of late. i'll tell you about a couple. last night, i dreamed that i was in a futuristic world where i was an advisor and contributor to physics research involving abstract algebra and particle physics. after walking through a lecture hall that had been converted to a research facility, i hurried to strategy practice where we were playing war games of some kind--a la ender's game--it was weird. probably the strangest part was that the place was funded by one of my friends from back home, and i had a strange feeling that in the dream, i was my son (who has yet to be born/conceived).

two nights ago, i dreamed that i was a top player in a kind of war game that took place on melting ice chunks in a very large lake or sea. i was a champion player at this sort of blood sport--a team sport actually, and my team included my three brothers and a couple other people. after we had won a game, an unfriendly fellow came up and challenged me to a duel. i really didn't want to, but i did after a little bit of persuasion. then we started out on the ice floes--it was such a weird sport--somewhere in between dodgeball and paintball and soccer. i guess like a non-magical version of quidditch. i was getting sick of playing on the ice bergs and wanted to push the game to land, but just as that was happening, the other guy fell in and was eliminated.

this song is awesome.

make your own kind of music by the mamas and the papas

nobody can tell ya
there's only one song worth singing
they may try and sell ya
cause it hangs them up
to see someone like you

but you gotta make your own kind of music
sing your own special song
make your own kind music
even if nobody else sings along

it can't be nowhere
the loneliest kind of lonely
it may be rough going
just to do your thing is the hardest things to do

but you gotta make your own kind of music
sing your own special song
make your own kind music
even if nobody else sings along

so if you cannot take my hand
and if you must be going, i will understand

but you gotta make your own kind of music
sing your own special song
make your own kind music
even if nobody else sings along

Sunday, March 18, 2007

one another in equal amounts

woo hoo! spring break! kind of... and it's over, and it never even really started. i've been home for a few days--mostly to watch a womens basketball game, get my car looked at (need a new power steering pump), and see my family--but mostly i spent the weekend watching ncaa basketball (men/women, ncaa/wnit). i did a bunch of grading and some writing, so it wasn't a total waste. next weekend i'm flying to california during my more real spring break. that should be nice--i'm excited for some warm weather and some time to run around outside--i haven't done that in far too long.

in middle school, i usually walked to a tropical fish store after school. more often, i had some after school activity: basketball, wrestling, mathcounts, science olympiad, choir, band, science fair, most anything except soccer, which meant driving to sioux falls or practicing far from school. this tropical fish store was the meeting place, the safe haven really, for nerds like me. i didn't have some deep abiding interest in fish, though we did have fish at some points. i was into buying little pewter figurines that my brother and i turned in to painted chess sets. i never did much roleplaying, but some people there did. i played a lot of abalone and other strategic games there. i even played magic and read comic books sometimes. but mostly i went there because it was a nice place to go to hang out, to be smart and cynical middle schoolers, and to have a candy bar and minute maid orange soda every once in a while (late in my eighth grade year, i cut down on carbonated beverages in large amount, up through the present).

but the thing was, i wasn't just a nerd. i was best friends with the best athletes in my grade, and i was an athlete (soccer, basketball, wrestling, swimming). i did the music stuff (band and choir), but i also played bass in a middle school rock band (the first ever in my town's history). and in all of that, i was both a little loser (as a sixth grader), a nothing (a seventh grader), and popular (eighth grader). try understanding that as a study in middle school identity formation and popularity.

but back to the fish store. my oldest brother hung out there, as did his high school friends, who were also nerds--they all did roleplaying (star trek and dungeons & dragons)--he ended up getting big into the society for creative anachronism and made a chain mail coat and learning to swordfight with armor and baseball bats. all of us boys got really into swordfighting--medieval from the oldest one, and martial arts-based from the second one. it was crazy.

i spent a lot of money there. earlier in my life, i had spent a lot of money on baseball and basketball cards. later in my life, i spent most of my money on musical instruments (guitars, keyboards, etc.). perhaps my most dominant memories involve walking there after school, stopping at the used book store on the way, and getting something to drink. our school finished class at 3:15, and many of the non-athletic after school activities were done by 4. so at the store, i'd look at whatever new stuff the owner had gotten in that day--he was a coworker of my mom, teaching math at the college, very nice guy, and a pretty cheap babysitter--and then find someone to play in a game of magic, or play the store owner in some kind of strategic game, often chinese checkers or aballone. i'd stay there till 4:45, then call home to have my mom come pick me up, and walk to the public library, check out a couple books and wait for a ride home in time to watch jeopardy back when it still started at 5:00. if i didn't get the call in on time, i'd stay at either the fish store or the library until 5:30 as my parents were done watching jeopardy.

my time back then is so strange to remember because it wasn't the best time of my life--i especially disliked 6th grade (probably my least favorite year of school)--but i still did fine and had a place to go. in ninth grade, a coffeeshop opened downtown, not far from the fish store, but i had already gotten beyond nerd games. in my first year of high school, playing in my band, playing soccer, and working on debate had already become the dominant activities in my life, leaving little time for nerd games. those activities stuck all through high school, and even influenced my college experience pretty well.

in the following song, i took out most of the 'are you alright?'s, which i think will make the lyrics a little clearer. this is definitely one of those simple songs, both lyrically and musically, but it works for me, just like most of her songs do.

are you alright by lucinda williams

are you alright
all of a sudden you went away
i hope you come back around someday
i haven't seen you in a real long time
could you give me some kind of sign
i looked around me and you were gone
i feel like there must be something wrong
'cause it seems like you disappeared
'cause i been feeling a little scared
are you alright

are you sleeping through the night
do you have someone to hold you tight
do you have someone to hang out with
do you have someone to hug and kiss you,
hug and kiss you
hug and kiss you
are you alright

are you alright
is there something been bothering you
i wish you'd give me a little clue
is there something you wanna say
just tell me that you're okay
'cause you took off without a word
you flew away like a little bird
is there anything i can do
'cause I need to hear from you
are you alright

if the above song is very good, the song below fits in my amazing category. it's still simple and still somewhat formulaic for her work, but it's beautiful and does just what it should.

what if by lucinda williams

i shudder to think
what it would mean
if the president wore pink
if a prostitute was queen

what would happen then
how would the world change
if thick became thin
and the world was rearranged

if the rains brought down the moon
and daylight was feared
and the sun rose too soon
and then just disappeared

if dogs became kings
and the pope chewed gum
if hobos had wings
and God was a bum

if houses became trees
and flowers turned to stone
and there were no families
and people lived alone

if buildings started laughing
and windows cried
and feet started clapping
and out came inside

if mountains fell in slivers
and the sky began to bleed
and blood filled up the rivers
and prisoners were freed

if the stars fell apart
and the ocean dried up
and the world was one big heart
and decided to stop

and children grew up happier
and they could run with the wolves
and they never felt trapped
or hungry or unloved

if cats walked on water
and birds had bank accounts
and we loved one another
in equal amounts