Friday, October 6, 2017

what is nenouwasa?

I have been trying to figure out what Nenouwasa is. For some reason images from Nenouwasa keep coming up in different media feeds without links. Much to my frustration.

Like the googling sleuth I am, I used a reverse image search and finally found what I was looking for. This led only to more confusion. The website states that, "Nenouwasa is based on the principle of planting the roots in people's hearts". What does that even mean? Granted, I think the poetry of the thought is a lovely sentiment but I want cold hard facts.

Since then, I have learned that Nenouwasa does installations that integrate plants. I am still not sure if this is the work of one brilliant mastermind or a collective of creatives.

Photo Courtesy: nenouwasa.com/
Photo Courtesy: nenouwasa.com/
Photo Courtesy: nenouwasa.com/
Photo Courtesy: nenouwasa.com/
The installations don't even look real to me. They look like a mixture of new age art, photoshop, and perhaps something found in one of the Final Fantasy video games. And I am completely captivated by it and a bit offended that this work isn't found everywhere. I'd like to see it in peoples front lawns, in parks, and even at like those small grass patches you find outside of gas stations. 

So, if you are considering any landscaping or design ideas. I highly suggest Nenouwasa!

Tuesday, October 3, 2017

a civil war haiku

This poem was written by my Aunt. This is the same woman that sent my mother poetry books for me, giving me my love poetry and many other things like; needlepoint, shameless swearing, and provocative conversation.

She writes on her page at civilwarhaiku.com:
There is a wooded hill near my house. Sometimes, standing there, I imagine this quiet vista come alive with Civil War ghosts. Looking down the hill, I seem to see the smoke, hear the roar, and smell the fetid odor of men taking each other apart. To cope with this haunting vision, I wrote this haiku ode. I offer it to honor their struggle.
A Civil War Haiku
By: Melissa M. Whelan
Only a horse died
Before the white flag fluttered
Over Fort Sumter

Eighteen sixty-one
April came in stormy then
Four-thirty, the twelfth

Pre-dawn it shattered
The uneasy peace they knew
When long darkness came

The blue and the gray
Made a hundred shades of red
The colors of war

There is no hatred
Deeper than between brothers
So close the distance

Wicked is the edge
That divides the human heart
From that which it loves

Loud days upon them
When war whispers turned to howls
And all were made deaf

War is failure’s price
When words cannot sway the will
Currency of blood

Enfilade sweeps far
Merciless arcs through the line
Cleaving open souls

A nation born free
Yet to embrace enslavement
Had to be reborn

Vessels can be weak
Their ship was unseaworthy
They were seamen still

Defeat’s patina
Of melancholic brooding
Is theirs to cherish

Valor on both sides
Is honored in human hearts
That grasp the horror

Though rebellion shown
Courage worthy of respect
Their deaths not in vain

Defeat assured us
Of a strong United States
Safe from division

Boys’ hands hold aloft
The fragile rag ennobled
Death will make them men

The flag was sodden
Wet with blood and morning dew
Cloth so creased with pain

Only yesterday
It whipped the air unaware
Of its frailty

When the stripes and bars
And stars and colors flying
Unfurl no more

Bullets and disease
Twin conspirators of death
War’s dark handmaidens

Dry and hard as bone
Hardtack, spit-wet to choke down
Their staple of life

A sizzle in fat
“Worm-castles” when vermin-filled
Such is nourishment

Shoeless, cold, in rags
These no gallant uniforms
Not so handsome now

No jaunty marches
But leaden boredom and dread
And hungry half-sleep

Hear the roar, the roar
Rebel yell, Yankee cannon
The death of silence

Battlefield names
Once towns innocent of blood
Tinged now with horror

Fredericksburg’s ghosts moan
Cry out across the freeways
Faint amid new noise

They can still be heard
The decibels of anguish
Humming in the din

Tattered, shattered air
Shrapnel whipping through bowed trees
A bruised sky, wounded

Through murderous paths
And biting pointed acres
Courage propelled them

On and on they came
It is sad to kill such men
Brutal tasks of war

So many limbs fell
Some with leaves and some without
Mingled on the ground

Mangled on the ground
July’s high beauty besmirched
With bird song and sobs

Sherman hated war
“It is all Hell, boys” he said
Man-made Hell on Earth

“Make it bad enough
To make it over sooner”
An orgy of death

Bodies know the rage
Of disease which is war too
Fever took his son

To anguish Sherman
So hated and beloved
In his pained madness

What Lee said was true
“We shall grow too fond of it”
The glory of war

The best it brings out
“Good that it be terrible”
Hate’s lustful passion

In the wilderness
The madness and the horror
Where is glory then?

It lies in knowing
There are things worth fighting for
Worthy of valor

Two days at Shiloh
Earthly days to rival Hell
Amid peach blossoms

Bereft of mercy
Lay carpets of the dying
‘Til tears turned to rain

Shenandoah screamed
From Sheridan’s ruthless torch
Embers drenched in blood

“Dead on the field”
Such words to echo in air
Heart-breaking Autumn

The bloodiest day
Antietam’s harvest of souls
And shamed victory

Cold Harbor, cold heart
Chilled by time’s swift, blunt slaughter
Breath-taking carnage

Guns with no bullets
Caused Chamberlain’s fearful cry
For the bayonet

Faced the wicked slope
Of hot, roaring raging air
And go in to it

To be in Hell then
Could be no worse than that day
On Little Round Top

Oh, doomed Sultana
Victory could not save you
From water and flame

And proud arrogance
So the waves took you under
To perish unsung

Six – hundred thousand
Did close their eyes forever
The future not theirs

Not to see the start
Of a new United States
Without slavery

And without these men
Who slept in their early graves
So much treasure gone

They killed each other
With ecstasies of hatred
Tornadoes of rage

After the battles
They would have to meet again
Now as countrymen

And look past raw wounds
Past anger, shame and fury
This took valor too

Through their pain and death
They erased geography
And made us one land

Now to make foemen
Be as brothers once again
Tragedy must bind

Chastened by fire
A nation made more sacred
By its suffering

Our national wound
Young bones moulder in old graves
We still bear the scars

Pioneer nation
Our infant experiment
Freedom’s light on Earth

Our America
Withstood her great upheaval
From her knees she rose

A solemn purchase
The price was blood and sorrow
To weld a nation

And make it unite
Through common pain and healing
Unbowed, free and one

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Frenemies (Part 2): Good Friends vs. Frenemies

In my previous post, Friends (Part 1): Good Friends vs. Frenemies I talked about what makes a good friend. A lot of those traits, I try to apply to myself so that I don't accidentally become someone else's frenemy. However, there is a lot more involved in how a frenemy actively sabotages the friendship.

Traits of Frenemies

1.) They trigger your intuition
Frenemies will make you feel as if something is wrong or that they are talking behind your back. It will always seem like they are trying to use you or that they have ulterior motives. Be careful however not to let your own fears or paranoia make you believe your totally awesome friend is a frenemy. They don't deserve that!
2.) They don't know why their "old friends" or "everyone" says they are mean.
They probably won't have any perspective about themselves and might say things like, "I'm not mean, I just speak my mind" or "I'm not sure why people thing I'm a jerk". This means they don't take ownership of their own faults. There is a difference between being an asshole while owning up to that fact and being an asshole while pretending it's just them "keeping it real".
3.) They exhibit narcissistic behavior
A frenemy displaying this trait will be dismissive of your thoughts and interests by either pretending that those ideas were there own or "old news". The relationship will be about them; when they want to hang out, where they want to go, who they want to go with, etc. And most likely will manage to make every conversation about themselves.
 4.) They are accusatory when you put your loved ones or yourself first
This trait compliments the about narcissistic behavior. They will expect to drop everything for them with unrealistic vision. An example of this would be if you were at your Grandmother's hospital because she was about to die and your friend was sending you many angry texts because you couldn't come over to help her dye her hair. A frenemy will believe their hair crisis is more important than your dying Grandma.
5.) They do not listen
Most frenemies select what they want to hear. Sometimes they even hear nothing until it relates to them. This selective hearing is often used by a frenemy to validate their hurtful behaviors and can be used to gaslight you into false guilt.
6.) They are not there
Frenemies are simply are too busy for you or not interested in being around you. This is habitual and usually for reasons that are hurtful. They will pass up being there because they have a hangnail. When a friend cancels on something important or can't be there remember that there is a difference between real reasons and fake excuses.
7.) They don't accept you
A frenemy simply won't like you or will want to change you. This tends to be a progressive passive aggressive trait. Over time all the things you do or say will slowly be rejected by them. They might even go as far as trying to control or change you so that they CAN like you. 
8.) They do not forgive
A frenemy will see any little slight against them as the real damage to the friendship. These "slights" will often be reviewed and restated for years. Sometimes they might even create falsehoods that are unforgivable. Often what they can't forgive you for is so mundane compared to the things you've repeatedly forgave them for that the imbalance can be absolutely soul crushing. Remember that there there are two winners in a healthy friendship because friends thrive off each other. 
9.) They can act on their own paranoia.
They might ask you if you are still friends or accuse you of not being a good friend. A frenemy can even believe falsehoods about you to match whatever idea they have of you within their minds. They'll be passive aggressive or fluctuate rapidly between acceptance and anger towards you depending on their mood.
Of course there are other behaviors of frenemies and often a person doesn't have all these traits. However, if you cringe at reading this thinking about a particular person than it might be time to address that elephant in the room. A good friend will take intervention to heart. A bad friend will start casting blame or reject you for bringing up these feelings. 

Good luck out there in the world of friendsies!

Wednesday, September 13, 2017

Friends (Part 1): Good Friends vs. Frenemies

I thought I would share what I've learned about spotting the good friends in your life and weeding out the bad friends. I have had a number of frenemies over the years and I have realized that sometimes they are hard to spot.

Understanding the differences can help you in a number of ways; you can begin to address the problems that are occurring in your relationships, you can mitigate toxic people from your life, and you can start to understand the traits of the people you want to bring into your inner circle.

Traits of Good Friends

1.) They listen
When friends listen, they really listen. That means minimal interruptions, re-framings of what they hear, asking of questions, and other symbols of quiet compassion. 
2.) They are there
The friends you want in your life are present. That means they listen and they want to be there for you. When you ask them for help, they offer it gladly. If physical distance is an element to your relationship, they do little things to remind you that they are there.
3.) They are happy for you
Good friends are genuinely happy for you when your life is good. When you hit a snag,  they cheer you on, They are eager to hear how things turn out and are thrilled when you share your good news.
4.) They accept you
They aren't trying to change you. Good friends like you. They like you at your best and they like you at your worst. 
5.) They push you to accept yourself while encouraging you to improve
This means they do accept you but they also listen to your ambitions. They are your cheerleader and coaches. They are the ones that give healthy perspectives and that feels damn good.
6.) They have your back
This means when you do something stupid they don't shame you. They jump in with you. Yes, they might want to have a conversation with you if you want to go on a murder spree. However, in everything else you have a unquestioning partner ready to bring it.
7.) They practice forgiveness
Everyone makes mistakes and a friend understands this. They will be the person that is eager to forgive you because you are important to them. Just be sure you aren't putting your friendship on line by expecting unreasonable or repeated forgiveness.
8.) They will humble you
Their caring for you will act like a mirror. It will inspire you to want to be better and invest more into the friendship. It will remove ego and make the relationship about the friendship and not the individual.
All of these things are elements of a good friendship and of course there other things to consider like; shared interests, personalities, distance, etc. Soon I'll address what things can be indicators that you actually have a frenemy on your hands.

Edit: Here is the post about frenemies called Frenemies (Part 2): Good Friends vs. Frenemies for your enjoyment.

Thursday, August 31, 2017

that time i was accidentally a skinhead (throwback thursday)

One night, (after watching the movie Tank Girl) I was inspired to cut my hair. At first, I was trying to use scissors to give myself the most bizarre hair do of all time. When that didn't work, I used my father's hair clippers. What I ended up with was this.

Not my best move.

The next day at school, I found out it was crazy hair day and picture day. People were like, "Did you do that on purpose? That is so hardcore!" and because I was advanced in sarcasm I'd say, "Sure, why not".

It was about a year later, in Chicago (when my hair was all one length) that I met my first female skinhead. I didn't know that is what she was. I just liked her style and informed her that I was growing out the same hair she had. She was, less than impressed. She informed me that she was a skinhead and that it was called a chelsea cut.

London Skinhead Girls in the 1980's
Photo Courtesy: cvltnation.com


I must admit that I was both embarrassed and a little grossed out that I was appreciating someone from a group that is connected to so much hate. What I later learned was that was not always the case.

During the 1950s and 1960s the popular culture was mod. We know this style by the numerous characterizations of it in movies. However, there were subcultures to this movement. 

The mods we know of were called peacock mods or smooth mods. This group was known for their wealth, their fashion, and their music. There was another group at the time known as hard mods. They were from the working class and didn't have money to spend. Their fashion was utilitarian as were their haircuts which were shaved close to the head for  practicality at work. By the late 1960s skinhead was the common term for this group. 

They were known to hang out in dance halls and listen to rocksteady, ska, and reggae. In the beginning the group was not racist or political. In fact, they embraced the culture of rude boys out of Jamaica which can be seen by the skinheads musical interest. It wasn't until the 1970s that everything changed and skinheads began politicizing. From there it was a slippery slope into a blending of white only, far-right, and neo-nazi ideals.

In a way, I am both proud and embarrassed by my accidental foray into being a skinhead. I too was like those hard mods; financially broke and following the beat of a different drummer. But I wonder how many people thought I was a racist asshole? I wonder how many people looked at me and thought I was all about white power? 

*To be clear, I am not a skinhead and I hope for a day when no one sees race as a separator or a reason to hate.

Sunday, August 20, 2017

who is mike pence

I don't want this blog to become a place where I focus on politics. Unfortunately, I am somewhat bound by the current political landscape and the radicalization of the United States party system. 

Before the election, I wrote this blog post about Trump and then another blog post about the great economic risk that is the Trump administration. Both do not shed a good light on what Trump and his people mean for America. Interestingly, there has been one outlier that I haven't known much about and that is our vice president Mike Pence. Before doing the research I have known three things about him.
  1. He is a staunchly conservative Christian 
  2. He is anti-gay and pro-life. 
  3. He was the fiscally inept Governor of Indiana. 
Here is a deeper look into what I found about him.

Mike Pence was elected as the governor of Indiana in 2012 after being in the House of Representatives for a number of years. His reign in these political positions had a number of controversies long before Trump announced that Pence would be his running mate for potus.

As a congressmen Pence did not have an exceptional track record. The New York Times reported that during his twelve years in congress none of his proposed bills became law. Washington corespondent Carl Huse said, “His [Pence’s] interest was more in preventing things from happening — spending, taxing, expanding liberal social policy,” That is a statement on the kind of political representative Pence is. He has a track record of only holding strong positions on topics that are important to him, such as religious protections and anti-abortion regulations.

What was incriminating was the nearly $13,000 Pence took from his congressional campaign funds to pay for an assortment of personal expenses. These expenses ranged from paying his mortgage to covering his wife's car prepayment. It cost him an election race, but that did not deter him. Pence invested his money and time in saturating Indiana media with apologies and remorse as a way to "reinvent himself". Obviously, this worked as he became the poster boy for naive remorse within Indiana and made his way to becoming Governor of the same state that he betrayed.

In 2016 Trump introduced Indiana’s Mike pence with the words, “Governor Pence enacted the largest income tax cut in the state’s history.” Which was a misleading boast for the state's stagnant tax legislation. Which went from the 3.4% (that had been in place since the 1980’s) to a .1% change of 3.3% under Pence. That would mean a whole $85 of yearly savings in tax expenditure for the average Indiana resident. Obviously this cut did not improve the states finances and in some cases affected the economic growth negatively.

His misunderstanding of socioeconmics continued when Pence signed the 2015 the Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA) of Indiana. Previous to the bill being signed two groups of organizations were publicly against the bill: the majority of Indiana's business sector and the LGBTQ community. The business sector included; Anthem, Cummins, Dow AgroSciences, Eli Lilly and Company, Emmis Communications, IU Health, Roche Diagnostics and Salesforce Marketing. 

Pence furthered this controversy during a famous interview with George Stephanopoulos where Pence refused to respond to the same direct question six times. In this interview, Stephanopoulos asked Pence on six separate occasions whether the RFRA would allow businesses to discriminate against the LGBTQ community. The question went unanswered which caused an uproar and a slew of Indiana businesses dropping contracts with the state. There was so much pressure on Pence to correct this mistake that he was forced to add a protection for the LGBTQ community. But the damage was done and the state lost millions in business cash flow.

The LGBTQ community was criticized at the time by conservative groups for being alarmists. Unfortunately. Pence had already shown himself to be a supporter of "conversion therapy" which is a Christian backed idea that mental health therapy can cure someone of their sexual preferences. There were plenty of falsehoods being thrown by liberal supporters like, “Pence had gay children treated with electroshock therapy to cure their gay”. This was not factual and fueled the conservative platform of the LGBTQ being misinformed. What Pence did support was government funding for --  and I quote, "[people] seeking to change their sexual behavior".  

Unfortunately, the science is clear that conversion therapy is a pipe dream. Both the American Medical Association and the American Psychological Association, has repeatedly stated that, “the view that homosexuality is a disorder has been rejected by all the major mental health professions”. It is disheartening to think that Pence's misunderstanding of science would lend himself (and government funding) to such a wasteful political move.

This is not the only clash between his good Christian intentions and the understanding of social sciences. Pence put a number of laws into place that would force a large number of the Indiana's Planned Parenthood to close. Dependent on your political views it is debatable whether Planned Parenthood should be allowed to provide services like abortion. However, it is well known that Planned Parenthood provides a number of other services at low cost in places where other health services are not available. More importantly there is proof that mass closings of Planned Parenthood cause a measurable influx of health risks. Pence would soon to see such influxes when there was an immediate HIV breakout of 190 cases within the state that could be directly linked to the loss of the state's Planned Parenthood. 

In this case, there needed to a preventive offset. Meaning, Pence (and his people) should have understood the risks involved with such closings and created a program that encouraged low cost "non-abortion" clinics to provide temporary service support until a more permanent solution could be put in place. That is just simple social risk assessment.

I'm not sure what kind of vice president he would will be. His record, although tenured, does not have the kind of activity to show us how he approaches anything outside of his partisan agenda. Because of his personal Christian values, I can strongly predict that he will have a strong anti-LGBTQ and pro-life focus. And although he presents himself as someone that wants fiscal and economic conservation, he doesn't seem to understand how socioeconomics impact the broader margins.

For many, that might not be a point to quibble. But, for me the deeper understanding of socioeconomics is the number two aspect of a good political representative. The number one aspect being ethical behavior, which Pence proved himself questionable when he stole $13,000 from his  own campaign.

Tuesday, August 8, 2017

the city of the dawn

In a previous post about Whittier, Alaska, I mentioned that I have a soft spot for unusual places. One of these places happens to be a lifelong source of fascination to me.

Back in the sixties, 1968 to be exact, a group of 5,000 like minded individuals broke ground on a social experiment that still continues today. With the support of 124 nations, they created a community in Puducherry, India that seems like it might be a cult -- except for one thing that is essential cults everywhere -- they have no leader.

Auroville (also known as The City of the Dawn) was at one time the magical brainchild of the late Sri Aurobindo and his counterpart the late Mirra Alfassa. During Sri Aurobindo's life, he established an ashram that surrounded his practice of integral yoga. Mirra Alfassa (also known as The Mother) took the ashram one step further by buying up land to create a functional city of total acceptance.

As state on their website,  there goal was simple; 
“The purpose of Auroville is to realise human unity – in diversity. Today Auroville is recognised as the first and only internationally endorsed ongoing experiment in human unity and transformation of consciousness, also concerned with - and practically researching into - sustainable living and the future cultural, environmental, social and spiritual needs of mankind.”
Auroville is a bizarre place, with structures that remind me of the city models used in Logan's Run or Star Wars. There at dome houses, curling layouts, and geodesic structures with weird plotting that rejects the usual grid structured city.

Within Auroville, there are citizens from all over the world that come from all walks of life -- regardless, of religion, culture, language, profession, race, or age.

There seems to be mysterious application process to be accepted as a permanent resident in Auroville. This involves many interviews, a two year period where you live and work (for free) in Auroville, other process I'm not entirely sure I understand, then you donate money in exchange for housing (or the ability to sustainably build housing).

Technically, there is no money or government in Auroville. The donation in exchange for something called an Aurocard is supposed to resolve exchanges within the city. However, not many follow this rule and still ask for cash donation exchanges or bartering. And even though there is "no government" there are many councils and groups of people jumbled together to make decisions or for fill tasks. 

The largest blight on the life of Auroville is the crime that bleeds in from outside villages into Auroville. The city has to contend with people from places like Kuilapalayam harassing woman or even attacking. But, lets face it much of India is dangerous and stricken with poverty. Most of the peace obsessed denizens (and visitors) are easy targets for the maligned.


Besides the fact that Auroville seems to be a unique mix of maverick spiritualists and solar powered retreats, they also are trying to do something more. That "more" is valuing acceptance and "progressive harmony". Is it radical? Yes. But, I can respect anything that is based on a creed like this;
  1. Auroville belongs to nobody in particular. Auroville belongs to humanity as a whole. But, to live in Auroville, one must be a willing servitor of the divine consciousness.
  2. Auroville will be the place of an unending education, of constant progress, and a youth that never ages.
  3. Auroville wants to be the bridge between the past and the future. Taking advantage of all discoveries from without and from within, Auroville will boldly spring towards future realisations.
  4. Auroville will be a site of material and spiritual researches for a living embodiment of an actual human unity.

Wednesday, July 26, 2017

i am a cat

Everybody knows this about me and the other day I found a terrible book of "poems" written from the perspective of a cat. It vaguely reminded me of Sad Cat Diary by zefrank1.


The book is called I Could Pee on This and Other Poems by Cats by Francesco Marciuliano. Here are two poems from the book that amused me.

Nudge

Nudge
Nudge nudge nudge 
Nudge nudge nudge nudge nudge nudge
Nudge
Your glass just shattered on the floor

Elegy for a toy I broke 

You no longer jingle
You no longer roll
You no longer do anything
Since I had to see what made you work

I can´t deal with all this guilt
I can´t express my deep, deep grief
I can´t believe what a cheap piece of crap you were
Seriously, I hardly touched you before you broke

Monday, July 17, 2017

my mom is a hoarder or the purge

Ages ago (in the time of AOL and floppy discs), I stumbled upon a webpage dedicated to a young Englishman's plight with his mother's hoarding problem. This was also before THE show dedicated to the worst of the hoarding community. So, that webpage was my first exposure to the truth that my mother was a hoarder.

Luckily for me, she is manageable. Her problem is that she buys thrift store trinkets much faster than she (meaning my father) can donate them back to the thrift store. My parent's tiny two bedroom apartment has become more of a museum of needlepoint pillows, brass owls, glass paperweights, and flame-less candles.

The "junk lady" from the movie Labyrinth is an accurate representation of my mother and me.
Photo Courtesy:  capablecivilian.com


Unfortunately, this has given me a complex. I find myself cringing when I have more than two of anything. I find myself questioning the amount of cups I have or if the amount of towels I have are acceptable. There are even digital examples of my need to remove the clutter, where I delete anything I deem unnecessary from social media.

I call it, "the purge". 

Recently, I realized that this might actually be a positive compulsion. That this "complex" is actually...dare I say; a healthy habit. As the old adage goes, "a clean home is a clear mind". 

That is what spring cleaning is all about right?

So I have two systems to accomplish what is "needed" that I will share with you:

Phase I

Ask yourself five simple questions when wondering if you should keep a particular item:

  1. Can I function with out this item?
  2. What is the worst situation that would come of being without this item?
  3. Is it more useful to someone else?
  4. When was the last time I used this item?
  5. Does it cultivate my deepest happiness in some way?

Phase II

This is a quick list of things to remove or organize per room:

Living Room
Before organizing shelves and drawers I throw out or replace:

  1. Kick-knacks that are making a surface unusable
  2. Paper items not limited to; books, magazines, newspapers, letters, manuals, etc.
  3. Games, cds, dvds, or blu-rays
  4. Unused toys (for both pets, kids, or grown-ups)
  5. Unused electronics
  6. Unused pens or lighters
  7. Unused pillows or throws
  8. Old candles or air freshener
  9. Old decor or curtains
  10. Broken, torn or incomplete items

Kitchen
Before organizing shelves and drawers I throw out or replace:

  1. Expired items in the fridge, freezer, or cabinets
  2. Old or near-empty bottles
  3. Unused or extra utensils
  4. Unused containers, jars, or plastic-ware
  5. Unused books or menus
  6. Unused or rusting cookware
  7. Unused cups or mugs
  8. Unused cleaning items or pet items
  9. Unused electronics
  10. Take out or paper items

Bathroom
Before organizing shelves and drawers I throw out or replace:

  1. Old or near-empty bottles
  2. Old makeup or polish
  3. Old brushes
  4. Old candles or air freshener
  5. Old decor or curtains
  6. Old towels or mats
  7. Expired or sample-sized items
  8. Unused electronics

Bedroom
Before organizing shelves and drawers I throw out or replace:
  1. Old candles or air freshener
  2. Old decor, pillows, or curtains
  3. Old towels, sheets, or bedding
  4. Old socks or underwear
  5. Old shirts or pants
  6. Stained items
  7. Clothes that do not fit
  8. Clothes you never wear
  9. Scarves, purses, jewelry, or shoes
  10. Items without pairs like socks or gloves
  11. Hangers
  12. Unused electronics
  13. Broken, torn or incomplete items
Office or Creative Space
Before organizing shelves and drawers I throw out or replace:

  1. Kick-knacks that are making a surface unusable
  2. Paper items not limited to; books, magazines, newspapers, letters, manuals, wrapping paper, folders, business cards etc.
  3. Games, cds, dvds, or blu-rays
  4. Old cords or ink cartridges
  5. Old candles or air freshener
  6. Old decor or curtains
  7. Old photos or documents
  8. Old vouchers or coupons
  9. Old pens, pencils, markers or art supplies
  10. Old or unused fabric or notions
  11. Unused electronics
  12. Broken, torn or incomplete items

Online or Digital

  1. Unsubscribe from email sites
  2. Delete and organize emails
  3. Sort and name folders
  4. Sort and update personal contact or email lists
  5. Sort and delete old documents
  6. Sort and delete old games
  7. Sort and delete old music
  8. Sort and delete old images
  9. Organize images by year or subject
  10. Empty browser and spam folders
  11. Remove any large files like movies or project files

Purse or Personal
  1. Paper items not limited to; business cards, tickets, coupons, napkins, notes, lanyards etc.
  2. Hair items not limited to; bobby pins, rubber bands, etc.
  3. Jewelery
  4. Cosmetic items
  5. Change
  6. Eyewear
  7. Perfume or cologne
  8. Unused items
  9. Broken or incomplete items

Friday, July 7, 2017

kinderwhore, candy darling, nancy spungen, and courtney love

Candy Darling Dancing
Photo Courtesy: Pictures of Beautiful Darling Documentary via youtube.com
What if I told you that the picture above was not of Courtney Love but of Candy Darling, a transgender actress from the sixties? Would you believe me? Well, I hope you do because that is Candy Darling dancing in a VERY Courtney Love fashion.

Who was Candy Darling you ask? She was one of Andy Warhol's Superstars, like Edie Sedgwick. Candy spent a lot of time in Warhol's company both socially and at the Warhol's infamous Factory. The song Take a Walk on the Wild side by Lou Reed was partially written about Candy. The Smiths cover art for Sheila Take a Bow was an image of Candy's face. The song Candy Says by The Velvet Underground was written about her and how she felt betrayed by the gender she was born with.

She was in fact before her time and taken from this world too soon (in 1974).

Candy Darling Wearing a Baby Doll Dress
Photo Courtesy: brandxmovie.com



I like to tell people that it was Candy Darling that invented the "kinderwhore" style of fashion popularized by Courtney Love. In the sixties short dresses were already the modern style. However, Candy wanted to have a more classy and sometimes innocently girly look than what was popular with  her peers. Unfortunately (or fortunately), Candy was quiet tall giving her dresses the almost doll-like look that is synonymous with kinderwhore.

I also like to take it one step further and postulate that Courtney Love modeled a lot of her early persona after Candy Darling (and Nancy Spungen but I will get to that in a minute). In the following images you can see pictures of Candy wearing a heart shaped locket

Left: Candy Darling in Dressing Room
Right: Candy Darling with Tennessee Williams
Photos Courtesy: pinterest.com and pinterest.com





The icon of a heart was also used predominantly by Courtney Love in much of her early years. I always felt like this was another nod to Candy Darling's look. (Yes, I am aware of the connection of hearts to her surname and Nirvana's Heart Shaped Box.)

Left: Courtney Love and Hole
Middle: Courtney Love with Heart Dress
Right: Courtney Love Editoral with Heart Locket
Photos Courtesy: pinterest.com, pinterest.com, and prettypassionsfinefashions.blogspot.com


What is interesting is that Nancy Spungen also wore a heart shaped locket seen in these photos.
Left: Iggy Pop, Nancy Spungen (back), and Cyrinda Foxe
Middle: Nancy Spungen
Right: Sable Starr and Nancy Spungen
Nancy Spunge was dubbed, "Nauseating Nancy" by the press. She was famous for being Sid Vicious's (from the Sex Pistols) other half. She was also a prostitute and a drug dealer -- and not shy about it. Nancy was known for being blunt, loud, and out of control. Yet, somehow Sid and Nancy were in love. Unfortunately, their romance came to a tragic end.

On October 12, 1978, Nancy was found dead under sink with a stab wound in her hotel. Sid was arrested for her murder. The case never went to court because he soon thereafter overdosed and died.
I can't help seeing Sid and Nancy's demented love story, far too similar to that of Courtney Love's and Kurt Cobain's (from Nirvana). Obviously, they did not have the same narrative or ending. Courtney Love is still alive and kicking. However, their lives had similar chaos and acts of self destructive behavior to Sid and Nancy.

Courtney Love's own love-story ended in gruesome death of Kurt Cobain. But before that, the comparison of her image to the image of Nancy Spungen was lost on no one. Kurt Cobain himself said, "She looked like Nancy Spungen [when he first met Courtney] and I probably could have fucked her that night." And when Courtney Love auditioned for a part in the movie Sid and Nancy she exclaimed, "I am Nancy!"

I find that I have to agree. 

In fact, I have always seen the public image of Courtney Love (in the nineties at least) as a weird mashup of Candy Darling and Nancy Spungen. It is as if she idolized these two characters and formed a temporary identity around them. Leaving her core identity untouched. Maybe it is just a coincidence. Maybe not. I just can't help think that Courtney Love took what she needed and came out the other side.

I'll leave you with these two quotes from Courtney Love and let you decide.

"Drag queens taught me how to be a rock star." - Courtney Love
"Nancy was stupid." - Courtney Love

Monday, June 19, 2017

a darker shade of magic

There are two types of books that I always find a little confusing; time travel books and multiple dimension books. It may have something to do with how these types of books are written, but I always find them hard to follow. Which is sad, because I am fascinated by both time travel and multiple dimensions. 

Recently, I read a book that fell into the multiple dimension category and absolutely loved it.




A Darker Shade of Magic by V.E. Schwab is unique in so many ways. 

The dimensional aspect of the story is well explained and although it permeates the book, it does not over take everything with complex explanations. These color coded parallel dimensions simply exist and Kell (the main character) is one of the few that can transverse between them.

Kell is an interesting character. Quietly flawed. Quirky. Likeable. Although, he does fall into the one-of-the-few-people-able-to-do-a-thing-archetype, I didn't feel that he was written to be overly special. There was a sort of underlining humility to him. Plus, I felt comfortably detached from him. Because of that voyeuristic detachment, I wasn't super invested in his character. It caused me to be much more invested in everything else.

What do I mean by everything else? There is so much else to talk about, from the detailed descriptions of coat pockets; to the caste of outsiders that are not outsiders at all. Although, the world building is subtle, Schwab defines enough to allow the readers imagination to run wild with possibilities. You taste the darkness of one parallel world and you wonder what is magically possible in another. 

The characters are inclusive. Rhy (Kell's brother) is a sort of poly pansexual that may or may not be a bit frustrated with the day to day struggles. Lila (the cross-dressing-street-thief-pseudo-pirate-love interest) is skilled, obnoxious, and suitably reckless. The bond that forms between her and Kell reflects the simple affection that can come from extreme circumstances. This is not an all out romance, of slow burning sexy bits, don't read it if that is what you are looking for. Holland (Kell's counterpart gone awry) is twisted and lost in all the right ways. You find yourself wanting him to find is way out of his stoic little tragedy. The Dane twins (the bad guys) are truly sadistic and good stories always have legitimate monsters pushing that plot along.

The plot was simple and I appreciated that the plot line's catalyst (the threat of dark magic) came together to create something surprisingly unique. Even more unique than Kell being a sort of diplomat between dimensions.

The reason that this book was a total win (for me) was that everything felt nuanced -- not spelled out in excruciating detail. It was like watching parts of a dream, instead of being totally immersed in a dream. That somehow set it a part for me and I think that same feeling could put others off to the story. However, I loved it. Five. Stars.

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

selfies and werewolves

I'm not a fan of selfie culture. I find it strange and narcissistic.

Even before there was the camera, people felt the urge to have artists create images in their likeness. The wealthy had artists create portraits in watercolor, oil, and even frescoes. Often these artists would paint more expensive clothes or even change history by adding false imagery at the request of their patron. In the time of antiquity, people had statues and mosaics made to display their likeness. So, this practice is not a new habit of ours.

Oddly, there is one painting that always comes to my mind when thinking of humanity's constant need to create these kinds of displays. The painting I'm talking about was of a man who suffered with hypertrichosis named Pedro Gonzalez (Petrus Gonsalvus).

Petrus Gonsalvus
Photo Courtsey: wikipedia.com


The story of  Pedro Gonzalez, is a strange one. Pedro Gonzalez was born in 1556 in the Canary islands (a group of islands off the coast of Spain). At birth, he was a source of local curiosity and soon drew the attention of  the aristocracy.

During the 16th century, all kinds of people were seen as oddities were traded between powerful or wealthy families. So, Pedro was taken from his home and given as a gift to King Henri II.

King Henri II decided to give Pedro a Latin name (Petrus Gonsalvus) and ordered Pedro to receive an education. The King did this as a sort of entertainment; he wanted to watch the "savage" fail. Fortunately for Pedro, his education was a success.

Pedro became fluent in multiple languages. He mastered the art of the nobleman's etiquette. He even became essential for receiving foreign dignitaries and ambassadors, gaining favoritism from the King.

When King Henri II died his wife, Catherine de Medici, took power as regent. She decided that Pedro should be married in hopes of producing more "wild children" like himself. Catherine became a matchmaker and found a woman (ironically also named Catherine) for him to marry. This new Catherine was a French woman, rumored to be a great beauty.

Petrus and Catherine Gonsalvus
Photo Courtesy: davonnajuroe.com
Petrus and Catherine met for the first time on their wedding day and though it might not have been love at first sight, Catherine gave him many children (seven in total and four of their children inherited their father's hypertrichosis).

In 1581, he and his family were sent on a never ending tour of the courts. Where many paintings and studies were done on him and his children. This fascination escalated and soon they settled under the ownership of Duke Ranuccio Farnese, who tragically sent away Pedro's affected children as gifts.

Petrus's Daughter Antonietta Gonsalvus
Photos Courtesy: wikiart.org and journals.openedition.org


I don't know why I connect this strange story of Petrus and his family to the current selfie culture, but I do. Somehow, I think we have become voyeurs in each others lives. The more bizarre or unique the narrative,  the more interested we become. 

We all buy into the freak-show or spectacle of life. I wonder how healthy that is? And I wonder who are the Petrus's of today?

Friday, June 2, 2017

low latent inhibition

In a previous post, I talked briefly about my low latent inhibition or LLI. To anyone that has never heard of this, it makes me sound like a pervert. I promise you low latent inhibition has nothing to do with how frisky I may or may not be when I get drunk. (Note: My frisky levels do not change when drunk vs. sober.)

LLI is actually what I like to consider a mental trait. It is the term used to label a particular way of processing information.

Most people process information in a latent way. They come in contact with their environment and they are able to simplify the information they are receiving before storing it. For instance, a latent thinker (neurotypical) experiences a crowded diner in a easy to process way. Their brain, without conscious effort, is simplifying their experience so they can choose what to focus on.


Someone with LLI does not have this simplification in their experience. They notice more sounds, more movements, more colors, more textures, etc. -- at all times. This does not necessarily mean that they are aware of EVERYTHING, it simply means that they are experiencing more of the present environment than the average latent thinker.

One of the problems with LLI is that it can be difficult to live with. The people with LLI that have lower IQ's might also struggle with Asperger's, Autism, or other spectrum issues and the people with LLI that have past physical or emotional abuses might have mental illnesses like Bipolar or even Schizophrenia. The reason for this, is that a stifled LLI brain cannot cope with the constant barrage of information.

I am part of the lucky few that do not suffer from these mental health issues. At worst, I have minimal anxiety. Although, I am definitely a walking billboard for eccentricity. The truth is, anyone with LLI knows that processing information the, "LLI way" causes totally unique challenges outside of what a neurotypical would face.

I compiled a list of LLI pros and cons. (I mostly copied and pasted from; samantics.net and lowlatentinhibition.org. But, I have added some of my own.)

Pros
  • You notice more, hear more, smell more and feel more through tactile contact. Without any conscious effort, your mind is in possession of a broader intake of information.
  • Upon encountering any form of stimulus (that interests you), your mind automatically dismantles and explores its components.
  • You usually see through the lies and the deceptions that people use in everyday life. If you’ve watched the show Lie to Me, they would call you a “natural”.
  • When learning, you can often make instantaneous changes. Adaptation is easy.
  • Self-correction is easy because the underlying principle is more evident. Clearer.
  • You make connections and associations between seemingly unrelated material.
  • Comprehension is typically easy. You notice the non-verbal background information and this often provides a more comprehensive picture than what is being spoken.
  • There are exponential leaps of insight taking place all the time, with the background reasoning intact. Wave-upon-wave of permutations, options, variables and choices.
  • Creativity is a given. You see alternatives.
  • You notice things that other people miss
  • Leaps of logic are common. Instead of progressing A,B,C,D and onward, you skip from A to N to Z, accurately.
  • There is no talking voice in your head. No ‘chattering monkey’. The volume and complexity of the information at times drowns out conscious thought entirely.
  • You see the world more thoroughly.
  • Learning is not limited to defined periods of academic study. The assimilation of information is constant, ongoing and never static. There are no lulls or pauses. Everything offers a lesson.
  • Within the maelstrom of information there exists a place of calm and quietude. The eye of the storm. No verbalization exists. No internal narrative. Just presence. No sense of self to intrude of interrupt.
  • You may find that you are often able to answer questions before they have actually been asked, because it always feels like you’re a step ahead in terms of where conversations are going.
  • When preparing for a situation you often find yourself going over as many possible scenarios as possible and try to prepare for the possibility of each of them occurring.
  • You have an incredibly strong intuition. Your instincts are hardly ever wrong and it may feel as though you can predict a lot of things before they happen. This doesn’t mean you can see into the future or read minds, but rather that you are able to use more stimuli to piece together logical conclusions that make it seem to those around you as though you can actually see into the future. You’re actually able to see things that they don’t because your brain is processing stimuli that their brains are not, and that stimuli to them, doesn’t exist.
  • Why is always being asked internally or subconsciously. You even might find yourself asking why you are asking why.
  • Everything seems a little "meta" to you.
Cons

  • Education is awkward. Schools are not set-up to cater with this condition. The way in which things are approached by schools seems piecemeal and incomplete.
  • Listening to other people talking/thinking aloud can be infuriating. They are at point A when you have reached point N or Z already.
  • It is difficult to write/type/speak quickly enough to articulate ideas and the breadth of the permutations involved. Verbalizing what takes place in your mind is impossible. Words render only a fraction of the entirety.
  • You can go off on tangents very easily which can often confuse other people around you.
  • You can very easily forget your train of thought due to many other trains of thought all spanning off the original thought. This means that you’ll spend a lot of time trying to remember what it was you were just thinking and then frantically tracing back your order of thoughts until you manage to get to the source.
  • Tact is necessary since people lie constantly.
  • LLI makes driving a car difficult. Your brain notices countless dangers and variables, and you become overwhelmed and nervous. You are either a terrible driver, or an incredibly good one.
  • Hyper-vigilance can lead to anxiety, and sometimes OCD-like tendencies.
  • Illusions are not very effective. You see through things without wanting to. Conventions and traditions have no significance.
  • You do not value what other people value, and often feel truly unique/alone.
  • Filtering out the variables and honing your options to something workable can be very difficult. Every solution potentially harbors new problems, new variables and new concerns.
  • People may find you to be a little odd, unorthodox or a little intense.
  • You have a habit of saying things that do not fit the accepted norm of behavior. You often choose to disregard conventions because they serve no constructive purpose.
  • Background noise can be a major problem. Especially if you are sick or tired.
  • Your perception of time is either slowed down or sped up.
  • You might have problems with interrupting people due to impatience or not being able to gauge the pauses in conversation.
  • You may have been misdiagnosed with a form of autism or with ADHD/ADD, or professionals may not have actually been able to tell you what exactly is ‘different’ about you.