The Change in Your Pocket

Twenty children who will never grow to know the world they entered. Twenty truly innocent lives stopped before they had a chance to start. Feeble status updates on Facebook and more arguing over gun control laws. Prayers for families and those affected; disgust and contempt for a person capable of such violence. A nation grieving, cursing the capabilities of today’s world. Who is responsible for this madness? This is our world. Adam Lanza was a human being just like his mother whose death directly preceded the Sandy Hook Elementary events. To say that the shooter is solely responsible for today’s massacre in Newtown, CT is to believe that our race is capable of an inherent evil. I cannot and will not ever accept that as truth.

Those twenty children are at least spared growing up in a self absorbed world full of people who say all the right things, and can cry on demand, but care nothing for their fellow man. Malevolence is a choice and a lifestyle; it is not natural. The students who died today were not around long enough to learn the ugly ways of society. With their youthful deaths they retained their optimism and vigor that would have eventually been torn away by the unjust anger we thrust upon each other.

The pity, the wrath, the wasted words and the politicized arguments must stop. None of that will honor the lives lost. It will not be productive and it will not stop the slew of violence our world has come under. Instead, I beg you all to make a change that will affect everyone. It is simple, costs nothing and requires no new legislature. Just be nice. Treat others with respect and kindness, always. Here and now, before anyone else gets shot. Choose empathy over sympathy. The smallest, most insignificant gestures have the power to change lives. Imagine a world where no one has ever learned the behavior of mistreatment.
Some might say that that is impossible, and that it is an unattainable goal. Well it is a goal that you personally can accomplish. You can’t get rid of all of the guns; you can’t bring those families back their children. It is physically impossible to create a law that prevents violence, but you can think of others in addition to yourself. That is something within every man’s grasp.

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Prefaces … The original Instagram?

Preface:
Alibi, Beginning, Excuse, Foreword, Guidebook, Hint, Introduction, Jigsaw, Owner’s Manual, Notes, Opinion, Ruse, Setting

How many times do readers greedily skip through the opening pages of a text just to get to the good stuff? I was chronically guilty of this sin for the majority of my young life. But skipping the preface is the reader’s most deadly offense. It is in these carefully crafted remarks that the author reveals his art: the actor’s soliloquy, the guitar solo, the bass drop, Mona Lisa’s smile. True discovery happens here. With this introduction, the author prepares us to enter his reality as he sees it. No matter what the method he chooses, the manual will hint at how this piece of art should be received by reality, the public, and the critics alike. Some forewords will be forthcoming and honest like the one Oscar Wilde provided for The Picture of Dorian Gray; others will be sly and farcical as noted by Dr. John Ray in Nabokov’s Lolita.

All writing is beautiful in that it can exist in any condition that the author chooses, and the preface is no exception. Stories can take place infinitely: the ocean of the novel will require a supply of oxygen if the reader is to survive; active readers will take heaving breaths of the life support a preface provides. Without this generous aid some authors choose to gift readers, the sharks will devour us with their literary criticism before we can get back to dry land. At the sea level of humanity, we have an insurmountable amount of our own oxygen; the lone introduction loses its value. Coupled with a singularly invented world though, it is a perfect complement. Forewords are also great for keeping authors out of trouble. If you ever write anything racy, just make sure everybody knows it’s pretend or not your idea in the preface. If you tell people it’s just a story, they have to believe you, don’t they? It’s great when you can include your own excuse why the book is fake and you didn’t really murder your husband so that you could run off with Mr. Hollywood A-lister.

Maybe you think that you don’t require a dry, tedious guidebook to fully appreciate the mysteries of the author’s fantasy. You’re wrong. No one understands a piece of art better than the artist himself. If you, the Calvinist reader, have no interest in learning and growing as a humanity, then yes, you are right, by all means, please do not read the preface. I am sure in your predetermined, programmed existence that understanding the nature of life is trivial. I hope though (especially because it is 2012 and not 1536) that you all are global discoverers. I think maybe we can control our own destinies and those of generations to come; maybe the world can be a better place. And maybe, books, and stories, and novels and texts, and plays and poetry, and sculptures and paintings and orchestras and singers, and organists are experiments that qualify life. Hidden in this small crevice of the world, the foreword is a hope filled gem. Because maybe art does actually mean something. Maybe it’s not just fascinating and diverting, and the preface is actually there to help the author show her readers how she is furthering the world and what understandings she can contribute.

Take Instagram for instance. Let’s say I have a fantastic picture capturing a facet of life that excites me. In this case it’s going to be a picture of Dave and I starting the buffet line at our wedding reception.

20121125-033755.jpg How adorable. The tent is lovely, our clothes are fancy, the food looks delectable. But I see something different. Dave and I are disagreeing about something, I’m sure it’s petty; but what’s awesome is that we’re all decked out in wedding garb, and I love that this photo shows typical us, despite the aesthetic surroundings. With help from Instagram’s many photo effects, I’m the artist now. I pick a filter that enhances my annoyance about who knows what that is taking place in a very important, very public setting.

20121125-033410.jpg Now, with the help of a filter which changes light and color ratios in the pic, the observer can see what I see: honest, slightly unflattering, but we’ve still got the “newlywed glow” going on.

With the filter, the artist’s point of view becomes slightly easier for the observer to envision, and that’s what the preface does for a novel. It shifts the outsider’s perspective to one of an insider. Instagram can’t come close to the awesomeness of forewords, being that it provides limited filters and frames, but it illustrates greatly the purpose of the preface. Art is about seeing what the artist sees, so read the preface people!

NOvember Ramblings

So yeah what up doh; it’s been a minute I know. My apologies, let me first say, I missed you dearly. And Miike Snow, I missed him too. Nobody knows it but me but I’m still an animal. Don’t forget to cry at your own burial. Why isn’t that spelled barial? Or least pronounced thus? The English language has the strangest nuances. Last week, a dude from Quebec pointed out to me how I lucky I was be a native English speaker; he illustrated this through enough. Through (threw) enough (enuf). Funny stuff, but only if you’re a linguist, or are trying to become one.

I’m reading The Picture of Dorian Gray. What a great work of art about works of art. I feel like now more than ever we can relate to Oscar Wilde’s humble suggestions. Lord Henry seems to think that art today (a statement made about the nineteenth century, but still very vogue in 2012, the mark of a honestly great production of art.) is entirely too autobiographical. Art is nature, and the artist just the blessed vehicle conveying the true aesthetic. The true artist, like Basil, is not interesting. He does not captivate the world, that is for the second rate panderers who can but mimic the beauty of true art. Everyone loves the court jester (Jeff Dunham?), but few gain worldly insights from Achmed the dead terrorist. Like this cover of Dreams by Passion Pit, it’s highly amusing and I love listening to it, I even bought it off iTunes, but it’s The Cranberries, cast off by generation Y or whatever they’re gonna label us, who really understand the dream like quality of finding a soulmate.

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So blogging: it’s entertaining and fun, and there is most certainly a place for it in the future of writing, if we want to blog well, we’ve got to become more about the art than us. If we want to create true art that is. That is the beauty of the blog; there is no censorship. A thousand endings, you mean everything to me. You are a cinema, a Hollywood treasure, love you just the way you are . Benny Benassi is a guy who knows where it’s at. Most people think he’s kinda grimy, and that his music is weird and he’s pervy. That song’s got truth though; I sing along ALWAYS and I never do that. I’d even do it in the library on the quiet floor. But it’s a work of art that speaks to me. It’s on repeat now. Like that picture of Dorian Gray, it’s timeless. Dorian should never exist as he does in the portrait, or as he does in real life. It’s not our blogs that need to be interesting, or even our stories enthralling, our images picturesque. What we need is to remember that we are authors channeling art, it can’t be forced, and I don’t think it’s invented. And now I’m pulling your disguise up. Are you free or you tied up?

In light of NaNoWriMo (we’re not even gonna mention my word count at this point. Does anyone else feel like that should be a taboo question? It’s like, “How much do you weigh today?”), I am taking the time to stop and remind myself that my writing is my art. Like nature, it has no parameters: maybe I meet my goal, maybe I don’t. What’s more important to me, is that I create a complete piece. Maybe I won’t be done on December 1, but I will at some point. It will come to me, because I am meant to write it. I don’t know what it is, or when it will become complete. November is a difficult month for me. Here in The Mitten, the tiny iota of sunshine that reaches us all but disappears once Daylight Savings Times starts, and I die a little everyday. I love vitamin D and I feel so deprived in November; plus all of the profs decide to pile on their major assignments now, so that stresses me to the max. And with trying to do National Novel Writing Month this year, when I’ve never written anything creative in my life, I really just want to crawl into bed and not get up until Christmas morning.

Intention

/noun/ an act of determining a result mentally; the end purpose

aim, design, goal, hope, ideal, means, objective, purpose, thoughts, view, wish

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My intention this week was completely blown. I awoke qualm free Wednesday morning, lounged in bed reading Madame Bovary, showered and was granted a good hair day by the powers that be. An unusually bright, balmy October day greeted me at the door, and I went off to school complacently pleased with life. My lit. seminar engaged in enticing conversation with Avital Ronell’s, Crack Wars. Following class, a fellow writer shared her refreshingly intellectual reflections with me as we discussed some of life’s interesting caveats. Had I not been so highly caffeinated, I might have noticed some foreshadowing at this point, but I didn’t. Instead I capitalized on the gorgeous sunshine with an afternoon jaunt, heading down to Kerrytown for a bewitching bookstore crawl.

Everything was going swimmingly upon entering store number one. Motte & Bailey Booksellers offers an amazing selection in a wide variety of genres (specializing in history but they have plenty of literature and lit crit. as well). The awesome ginger brew from the neighboring TeaHaus contributed to an overwhelming sensory overload as my eyes giddily scanned the neatly stocked shelves. A propped door allowed Autumn to waft through stacks and stacks of books out-growing their former mantles, and I suddenly found myself aquatinted with a gorgeously bound edition of The Canterbury Tales hiding amongst the (three full ledges!) devoted to Chaucer. It was love at first sight, but it ended up not working out for the two of us; I wanted to see other books.

So, we proceeded down the block to The Kaleidoscope, Books and Collectables, a corner niche full of odds and ends that closely resembles a well used attic, complete with NPR in the background and thousands of weathered page turners. It was stimuli overload in the best way possible, and I found entirely too many must-haves over $35 for my liking. While I was on the precipice of springing for a worn out copy of Gertrud, by Hermann Hesse, I heard a voice proclaiming from my peripherals, “The meter ran out a minute ago. They gave us a ticket.” And that was it. Book shut, ticket issued, intention blown.

From there, my day deteriorated faster than Suzanne Collins’ ability to flesh out a plot. I gave up my personal library covets in order to satisfy the whims of the meter maid. I sat through an two hour introductory Spanish class (deprived of any ’electronic devices’, food, drink, or gum, and therefore any productivity) as my professor (who stopped us periodically so that she might finish chewing her slice of Bumpy Cake) hurried us unpreparedly through an unorganized midterm guide. After all that jazz and before driving an hour home back to my messy apartment, I stopped by my grandparents’ to grab some mail. I was rewarded with jury duty, a notice that a bank account I closed six months ago was now open and overdrawn, and an second audit from the university requiring three ridiculous classes (one of which is the aforementioned Spanish class, and the other two not having been on my primary audit at all) before they would agree to surrender my degree.

I got home just in time to watch Verlander and Valverde (again Leyland? Really??) let San Fran and their giant panda run their block all over us. Let’s not even get into Thursday (worked a double, did three loads of laundry, and Detroit lost yet again). Wow, the world has not hated me this hard in a minute. I thought back to my intention for Wednesday, what had I done to cause this universal conspiration? Further ransacking of my memory proved that I must not have set one, and that I couldn’t even remember the last time I had.

Somewhat guiltily, I dropped in on a Vinyasa class at The Shelter this morning. I departed heat stricken and panting from having skipped for a month straight, but I found my intention. Upon returning home, I played eight straight hours of Skyrim, and observed life from a quasi enlightened first person shooter POV. Wandering the realm of Tamriel (which is in a terrible state of cultural disrepair following the reintroduction of dragons), I considered our own realm and re-evaluated my week in a fresh light. What I’ve decided, is that we need more about the books, the stories, and the quests that we pursue rather than the lists, papers, and emails that shackle us constantly. A happy world is going to have more going for it always; whether or not the inbox is empty and the free credit score says 750 is superfluous. It’s time to stop keeping score, and start doing your own thing. That is where true progression comes from, not from a salary check and corporate perks. We must live our own ideas, not someone else’s. A bit of yoga wisdom summarizes eloquently … “Nothing forced is forceful.”

Unedited Ramblings

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“You and me baby ain’t nothing but mammals, so let’s do it like they do on the discovery channel”
-“The Bad Touch”, The Bloodhoung Gang

i.e. what I’m listening to while sort of writing an (in)formal response to Lolita. If theres anything I think I can say definitively about the book, it’s that it should be read as a warning: a small hint at what value literature actually holds. Don’t mess with the masters of language, or we will make you enjoy pedophilia. So you, amiable reader, might just sympathize with my Bloodhound Gang pandora jaunt currently derailing my bland if not succinct essay writing. Who better to ponder the mysteries of language then Sublime, Cake, Rehab, and the likes of those pervs? (I am wondering now at what lyrically rhythmic, subtle palabra HH would have inserted to cleanse my pallet of its unabashed shame…)

“I’m more tounge and cheek then a lesbian orgy.”
“Second verse is different that the first”
“Cause I don’t like you cause your not like me”
-“Shut Up”, The Bloodhound Gang

Do I detect a hint of metafiction here? Sadly, this brilliant cultural metaphor will not make it to my “scholarly response”; Maybe someday we will get to recognize the bloodhound gang, sublime, Cake, all of these great bands for their lyrical prowess, valid language contributions for the world to consume. Break for the overdosing West Coast grime rhyme..

“Annie’s 12 years old, in two more she’ll be a whore”
“But I’m staring at her tits, it’s the wrong way”
“Her two brown eyes are leaking like a sieve, but it still ruins her make up I never wanted”
-“Wrong Way”, Sublime

And maybe I will argue in my boring, rule following version of this ramble in proper MLA format, that Lolita in the public canon is a necessary gateway for our culture’s current roadblock. I might even venture so far as to suggest students read “The Wrong Way” as an accompanying text. Nabokov, who spoke English as a secondary language, crafted such an elegant, calculating story in such a thorough manner as to enrapture his audience into a neo-classical, metaphysical stupor, herd them through an American dream, and eventually dump them exhausted, under the scrutiny of the institution. And for those who can’t relate to such forgein themes, there’s Sublime’s good old American grunge grabbing the archetype for current culture.

“I hear you brave young Jables, you are hungry for the rock. But to learn the ancient method, sacred doors you must unlock”

“To find your inner fortunes through the valley you must walk. You will face your inner demons, now go my son and rock.”
-“Kickapoo”, Tenacious D

You know how you never really learn what burning is until you touch the stove for too long … The same theory applies to Lolita, you never really learn the power of wordcraft until you watch Humbert Humbert completely unravel and go bat shit crazy. It takes a lot to get through to us self absorbed human beings, even more so when it’s learning and we really aren’t receptive to having other people’s perceptions thrust on us. And that’s Lolita’s ethereal beauty. It wrenches us away from our perceptions and points them out as fallacies of language, warning us of the dangers of complacent reading. And if that doesn’t work, there’s always the inevitable return of the great white dope.

Hometown Discount

/noun/ a competitive edge granted on a regional basis favoring the local consensus

celebrity, class pet, fan favorite, grassroots, golden child, homegrown, homer, home court advantage, localite, pride and joy, the chosen one

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What happens when a series sweep, featuring Yankees hits in only three of 39 innings pitched, tidies up the muddy tracks of a deflated Yankees season? Well, to the victor goes no credit. Local realists will most likely agree that Detroit’s national image could use a little polishing, what with the city being ground zero for the current economic epidemic an all; baseball realists will admit the Yankee’s historical dominance looms larger than life. But ESPN and the rest of the sports community appear more concerned with the fate of Yankee’s baseball next year than the Tiger’s systematic lockdown. This sweep is not synonymous with victory, of course; it will become another insignificant stat for the history books should the national league take it all this year. With that being said, I wanna take a moment and thank the clubhouse who just knocked those Yankee elitists on their asses. Here’s the hometown discount, imported from Detroit:

1) New York trailed the entire series; despite starting in the Big Apple, the Yankees proved incapable of gaining a lead after a solid four run rally in the ninth. 2) Delmon Young was clutch in the twelfth, with an RBI double to secure a Game 1 win and later the well deserved ALCS MVP. 3) Anibal Sanchez silenced the Turner trade haters with a seven inning gem. 4) Following the loss of Derek Jeter as well as game two, Joe Girardi benched an underperforming Alex Rodriguez (try .120, 0 RBI, 0 HR this postseason). 5) Kobe gave a shout out of encouragement to his buddy A-Rod, “We’re different. But you’re talking about, ‘He’s one of the best to ever play.’ I think really the difference is, sometimes he forgets he’s the best… Where, I don’t.” 6) Phil Coke pitched in when his team needed him most, closing games two, three, and four and posting a 0.0 ERA this postseason. 7) Max Scherzer and Justin Verlander led the league in strikeouts with a combined 470 K’s this year. 8) A cover debut on SI is way more awesome than Seventeen, sorry Cameron. 9) Last year, Verlander won the Cy Young, AL MVP, and the pitching triple crown but was denied admittance to the World Series. 10) This year, Miguel Cabrera pulled a feat baseball hasn’t seen since 1967, winning the Triple Crown batting title in the American league. Preferring to let his bat do the talking, Cabrera is the third baseman that should be capturing the nation’s heart.

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Infinite

/noun/ A space or quality that lacks boundaries by nature.

Buzz Lightyear territory, innumerable, limitless, undefinable

To infinite language, and the words beyond…

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