publications

it came of its own accord. accordingly, it came into its own.

Born alive dying dead,
start at the end and end at the head:
I am waiting to be born,
I am waiting to break free.
I call out to the moon,
but the wind-
it strangles me.

Nothing so near to completion can be free.

“As California goes, so goes the rest of the nation…” the headline read. We immersed ourselves in the mythology of the new frontier through full participation, hurtling headlong down 1-90 across the USA. It turned at the solstice when the moon spoke in yawns, ever glib in her slip-sweet tones howling, onward.

Before winding our way across the states we wove a circuitous path to all the homes we’d ever known – Joe’s in PA, mine in NY, Boston, Philly, New York and Wesleyan. At each place we paid our respects to the people who made it possible to prosper and sway, and here I give a shoutout to Joe’s family and my own, to Jeramie, to Jake, to Rob, to Isto, to Jenny, to Dawid, to Rod, to Jeff, to Natan, to Sam, to Alan and Alyssa. Further thanks to Rod to handing me Lawrence Ferlinghetti’s poetry to get lost in overnight and in the dawn’s light, and whose words have remained burning inside me ever since.

“Poetry is the rediscovery of the self against the tribe,” but
“Don’t be so open-minded that your brains fall out.”

The road onward was marked by strong women and sensitive men. We rocked the gorges of Ithaca, caught wind of a wesreunion in the windy city, told tales ’round a campfire on a reservation in South Dakota, coasted through the mountains of Montana to camp near kind souls in Idaho, reaffirmed friendships in Seattle and Portland, then wound our way manic down the coastline to San Francisco just around Independence Day.

At this juncture we parted ways; I wanted to know if I could hack it solo. Surprise? I not only survived, I thrived, and thus the rub: launched from a new nest and a temporary mental incubation, a transportation across the seas to hound the hidden corners of time and self and space. I spoke excitedly, concocted brilliant ideas with a burgeoning international community of activists and academics, wrote poetry buzzing with flavor, listened intently to words i could scarcely decipher, enacted and actualized the very stuff of dreams.

Alone and strange I would conjure charming spirits from the dregs of the day by dousing them in firelight, follow the music to find the true spirit of the town, eat the fruit of the looming dawn and dance until the rain came down. I met bums and soldiers playing heart-songs on the cobblestones, students and artists seeking poetry in well-worn places, all the time helping to foster community within ISDT using my own peculiar yet authentic form of connectivity.

There are so many forms of participation, I’ve yet to incubate fully. This is why I must be untethered and wandering for the entirety of August: to foment and to cement ideas, possibilities, chance happenings. To live the dream rather than living to dream, open heart allowing meanderings, intuition in my teeth. At present moment this structurelessness and imminent homelessness is precisely what’s been needed. I am re-learning how to cook for myself, how to explore unafraid, how to follow the firelights that guide the way.

(This is not to say, “the end,” but please begin: how do we do, how me? how you? now and at this great division of reality. on one end a dream-dew blankets the swamp; at the other, a fire engulfs a fissure.)

And so i found the soul of Portugal, and found my calling also: a wandering empath nourished by adventure and diversity, open heart guided by intuition and empathy ever onward toward la musica au vivo, a cacophonous cadence of erratic heartbeats wound together and the spaces in-between. Full-fledged allegiance to the tribe and to the set path must be avoided at all costs in pursuit of the self-sensical, the poetical peregrination:

She spoke of the need to need nothing, and then nothing came to be: um amor blooming in poetic ecstasy. Obrigada, universe, for synchronicity.

i heart future folk records!

All the things that this blog is about, that my research is about, are beginning to be truly realized in the work of my friends at Future Folk Records. Let’s just say that, for my friend Rod, unemployment + immense creativity & talent + love = this website, where you can find tons of awesome (free) music, media, and art.

Their ideology? As stated on their site:

What is Future Folk Music?

Folk music is the music people make in their own homes, with their own limited resources, for themselves and the people around them. It is the music people use to define their identities, whatever those identities may be. Folk music is the music of community.

The future is now. Cliché as it may sound, technology now makes it possible for networks of likeminded individuals the world over to connect as easily as if they lived in the same neighborhood. Countless numbers of people the world over are now all a part of the same community.

This is the ideology that fuels Future Folk Records. We believe that art is too important to be treated as a commodity. If you want to hear our music, take it. It’s yours. We only hope it provides you with a fraction of the joy and fulfillment it has given us.

If you are an artist of any medium who would like a place in the Future Folk Records community, we encourage you to contact us at: futurefolkrecords@gmail.com.

A snippet:

i <3 future folk records

all i have are stories.

Last week, a very old woman instigated an interlude in what is normally the spot where i plug into the web whilst chomping an everything bagel. after a short conversation about the quality of the yogurt, we sat near each other with a shared wariness. she snapped, “young women these days, with their tits and their asses just out for all to see!” She eyed me slowly up and down. I was wearing grey sweatpants, a brown long-sleeved shirt, and green sneakers, no makeup, hair up in a ponytail. “You don’t do that, do you?” Responding in the entirely present moment: “no, I try not to attract too much attention.” This seemed to please her, she nodded approvingly. “This city’s dangerous.”

“Yeah, tell me about it,” I agreed, distracted by the intense desire to check my e-mail. Somehow I felt that would be inappropriate. Turns out, I was right. Later in the conversation, she would speak of nearly all modern technologies with no small degree of contempt. In the interim, there were long silences.

She broke one: “Now, you’re under no obligation to answer this,” (oh boy, I thought), “but why did you move to new york? were you thinking of opportunity?”

I could answer this question with glee. “Not at all! I finished my master’s degree, and now i’m just working, trying to save money and building my life while my boyfriend finishes his degree.”

(Earlier that week, a Russian housekeeper at one of my puppy’s homes had received this same response and replied, “oh, so soon you will get married and get fat! trust me, i know.”)

The old woman (whose name I never did catch) eyed me suspiciously. I caught the vibe and attempted to convey my feelings toward this city: “people are too angry here. i want to have a garden. possibly a chicken. we are going to move west as soon as he finishes.”

At this, her eyes lit up. She nodded enthusiastically, her cynical old-new yorker guise slipping off. “Yes! That’s a very good idea.”

Our conversation moved to the economy, to the job market, her dour persona returning. “I’ve lived through a depression,” she said softly. Our eyes locked. I wanted her to send me the feeling she was exuding, and asked, “does it feel the same as it did back then?”

“Oh, it will get much, much worse,” she said ominously. “It’s terrible.” Her eyes misted and she looked distantly at nothing, mournfully, “I really don’t know what will become of us.”

And yet, yesterday morning I took a trip deep into Brooklyn. At Broadway Junction, an older black man in a dark green coat bellowed “Obama! Obamaaaamaman,” laughing maniacally. Around me, his giddiness spread like a virus. I found myself grinning despite my suspicions and doubts. Throughout the day, as I zipped through the streets of lower Manhattan on my new kick scooter, people murmured that name, shouted it, wore it proudly on their foreheads and chests. As I stopped at my favorite bagel place (where I had met the old woman), I recalled the man who’d sat near me two weeks ago, enthusiastically befriending another older man who’d been loudly championing John McCain. They went on for awhile, at some point one of them making a comment stupid enough for me to glance up in disbelief, which garnered the response, “I know you’re not happy, honey, but there’s nothing I can do about that.”

“Oh, I’m perfectly happy,” I had retorted, “this election is going to be a goddamn landslide!” Moved my gaze quickly back to my handheld and twittered about it.

Over the course of the past few weeks, my outlook toward my newly adopted neighborhood of Bushwick has changed dramatically. I barely noticed it happening, besides noting with relief that my panic attacks (lingering remnants of several traumatic incidents earlier on in the summer) had all but ceased. You see, as I came out of Mr. Kiwi’s the other day, groceries in hand, I was stopped by two eager young guys, musician types. “Excuse me,” one of them said, “do you think you could talk to us a bit about the neighborhood?” I drew in a breath, looked furtively toward Troutman, then met their eyes. They looked so hopeful, so willing to believe that this area wasn’t so bad as it looked, but instead, full of promise. It really struck a chord in me.

I began hesitantly, mentioning my recent arrival and subsequent mugging. I mentioned my fear of walking down even Broadway after dark. They were quick to point out that the danger is certainly more paramount for a young woman walking alone at night, and I agreed. They said they were looking at a place right where we were standing, and I found myself boasting about Mr. Kiwi’s, grinning as I mentioned the evangelical preaching at the corner of Myrtle & Broadway, praising the JMZ train. I spoke of the new bodega, Broadway Pizza, Goodbye Blue Monday, the eclectic and increasingly gentrified population, the many Hispanic families and odd Hasidic Jew, the fantastically low rents. They thanked me profusely, looking so excited and hopeful it just about broke my heart.

Inspired to become more involved with the community here, I wrote in to the editor of BushwickBK, a fantastic blog and my primary source of information about Bushwick. I told my story, pitched from the heart, and asked to write for them. “Ethnographic vignettes?”

As if I needed more commitments… 🙂

the most beautiful thing i ever read…

…is the introduction to e.e. cummings’ collected works. i read it many years ago, and pull it up whenever i need a reminder as to why i live the way i do – in the pursuit of being continually reborn, in the refusal to settle for anything less than a little more than everything, with the acceptance that i don’t quite “fit” and never will, dedicated to truths found only by my own accord- pardon my tendency to manifestos, but you’ll see what i mean. enjoy! 

The poems to come are for you and for me and are not for mostpeople– it’s no use trying to pretend that mostpeople and ourselves are alike. Mostpeople have less in common with ourselves than the squarerootofminusone. You and I are human beings;mostpeople are snobs. Take the matter of being born. What does being born mean to mostpeople? Catastrophe unmitigated. Socialrevolution. The cultured aristocrat yanked out of his hyperexclusively ultravoluptuous superpalazzo,and dumped into an incredibly vulgar detentioncamp swarming with every conceivable species of undesirable organism. Mostpeople fancy a guaranteed birthproof safetysuit of nondestructible selflessness. If mostpeople were to be born twice they’d improbably call it dying–

you and I are not snobs. We can never be born enough. We are human beings;for whom birth is a supremely welcome mystery,the mystery of growing:which happens only and whenever we are faithful to ourselves. You and I wear the dangerous looseness of doom and find it becoming. Life,for eternal us,is now’and now is much too busy being a little more than everything to seem anything,catastrophic included.

Life,for mostpeople,simply isn’t. Take the socalled standardofliving. What do mostpeople mean by “living”? They don’t mean living. They mean the latest and closest plural approximation to singular prenatal passivity which science,in its finite but unbounded wisdom,has succeeded in selling their wives. If science could fail,a mountain’s a mammal. Mostpeople’s wives could spot a genuine delusion of embryonic omnipotence immediately and will accept no substitutes.

-luckily for us,a mountain is a mammal. The plusorminus movie to end moving,the strictly scientific parlourgame of real unreality,the tyranny conceived in misconception and dedicated to the proposition that every man is a woman and any woman is a king,hasn’t a wheel to stand on. What their synthetic not to mention transparent majesty, mrsandmr collective foetus,would improbably call a ghost is walking. He isn’t a undream of anaesthetized impersons, or a cosmic comfortstation,or a transcedentally sterilized lookiesoundiefeelietastiesmellie. He is a healthily complex,a naturally homogenous,citizen of immorality. The now of his each pitying free imperfect gesture,his any birth of breathing,insults perfected inframortally milleniums of slavishness. He is a little more than everything,he is democracy;he is alive:he is ourselves.

Miracles are to come. With you I leave a remembrance of miracles: they are somebody who can love and who shall be continually reborn,a human being;somebody who said to those near him,when his fingers would not hold a brush “tie it to my hand”–

nothing proving or sick or partial. Nothing false,nothing difficult or easy or small or colossal. Nothing ordinary or extraordinary,nothing emptied or filled,real or unreal;nothing feeble and known or clumsy and guessed. Everywhere tints childrening,innocent spontaneaous,true. Nowhere possibly what flesh and impossibly such a garden,but actually flowers which breasts are amoung the very mouths of light. Nothing believed or doubted;brain over heart, surface:nowhere hating or to
fear;shadow,mind without soul. Only how measureless cool flames of making;only each other building always distinct selves of mutual entirely opening;only alive. Never the murdered finalities of wherewhen and yesno,impotent nongames of wrongright and rightwrong;never to gain or pause,never the soft adventure of undoom,greedy anguishes and cringing ecstasies of inexistence;never to rest and never to have;only to grow.

Always the beautiful answer who asks a more beautiful question

Thesis as Academic Marathon

Last week, I finally sent in my thesis, which with appendices currently stands at 234 pages. I’ve been celebrating ever since, finally released from the constant strain I’d been under all year. The best comparison I’ve found for relating my experience is that of a marathon. I was a competitive distance runner in high school, and it would seem I transferred that competitive energy and masochistic endurance into my academic life. By “masochistic endurance,” I mean: the intentional sacrifice of the body’s needs for the sake of continually moving forward; when the brain separates from the body so as to control it, rather than being controlled by it-

ie- survival mode

Looking back, I see that the stress I put myself under, however much I rationalized the need for it, took a serious toll on my health, and ultimately affected every other realm of my life in the process. Take this blog, for example. I had all but abandoned it this past month, and for the most part it has been mostly a repository of snippets of my thesis and musings related to my research. In focusing my energies on the single-minded pursuit of one aspect of my life, I became unwell and overwhelmed.

The isolation I felt, despite the efforts of my friends and loved ones to support me, crept in during the loneliest hours- usually around dawn after spending a dozen hours at my desk. I recall searching the Web for stories of those in my position, looking for guidance and hope, or at least some solid advice on just when too much is too much. I couldn’t find a lot, but what I did find helped me immensely. Now that I’ve a clearer head, I thought I ought to do my part in returning the favor. What follows are some realizations I had to learn the hard way (damn), but maybe you won’t have to (sweet!):

One thing I realized is that staying awake for too long without pausing for rest is a huge time-waster. I would spend hours in a state of half-consciousness, struggling to put words to my increasingly scattered thoughts. Especially after 24 hours, my attention span and ability to articulate began to decline abruptly. Sleep is necessary. Your body cannot, in fact, be separated from your mind, no matter how much we wish it to be so.

I found it especially easy to rationalize such self-destructive behavior thanks to the discourse that surrounds university life. While my rational self knew I was in need of such human comforts as sleep and social activity, my competitive spirit clung to the vision fed to me through my environment and media consumption. That “vision” is in fact an irrational ideal of a superhuman superbrain. Now that I’ve stepped back from it a bit, it’s not nearly as alluring as it once was, this “success.” Success is happiness, and happiness comes about through wellness and ALLEVIATION, rather than perpetuation, of stress.

One thing that got me through during my frequent bouts of losing confidence was having mentors, in their various guises. Here I’ll take the opportunity to plug the potentially awesome benefits of this new “social web”- I was able to befriend and communicate with a variety of researchers and authors who might be considered experts, and their advice for me was enormously motivational. Inspiration and hope can be derived from even the briefest of exchanges at times. Reaching out is easier than ever.

Nevertheless, I cannot stress enough (heh) the incredible importance of grooming one another- face-to-face interaction cannot be replaced by any means. It is easy enough to become a hermit, but from my experience, we need others in order to keep it real. It is easy, also, through the process of isolation, to grow bitter of the world and to see yourself as separate and alone, a martyr. This past week has been one of reintegration; I now see that my biggest mistake this past year was neglecting so much of what makes me happy- people, especially- but I am lucky to realize now that the love had been waiting for me to return the entire time.

Writing that brought to mind the Desiderata, which I read every new year’s eve. That seems like a good note to end on- blunt simplicity.


Desiderata – Max Ehrmann

Go placidly amid the noise and the haste,
and remember what peace there may be in silence.

As far as possible, without surrender,
be on good terms with all persons.
Speak your truth quietly and clearly;
and listen to others,
even to the dull and the ignorant;
they too have their story.
Avoid loud and aggressive persons;
they are vexatious to the spirit.

If you compare yourself with others,
you may become vain or bitter,
for always there will be greater and lesser persons than yourself.
Enjoy your achievements as well as your plans.
Keep interested in your own career, however humble;
it is a real possession in the changing fortunes of time.

Exercise caution in your business affairs,
for the world is full of trickery.
But let this not blind you to what virtue there is;
many persons strive for high ideals,
and everywhere life is full of heroism.
Be yourself. Especially do not feign affection.
Neither be cynical about love,
for in the face of all aridity and disenchantment,
it is as perennial as the grass.

Take kindly the counsel of the years,
gracefully surrendering the things of youth.
Nurture strength of spirit to shield you in sudden misfortune.
But do not distress yourself with dark imaginings.
Many fears are born of fatigue and loneliness.

Beyond a wholesome discipline,
be gentle with yourself.
You are a child of the universe
no less than the trees and the stars;
you have a right to be here.
And whether or not it is clear to you,
no doubt the universe is unfolding as it should.

Therefore be at peace with God,
whatever you conceive Him to be.
And whatever your labors and aspirations,
in the noisy confusion of life,
keep peace in your soul.

With all its sham, drudgery, and broken dreams,
it is still a beautiful world.
Be cheerful. Strive to be happy.

This Space is a Place Within Space

I am constantly reworking the whole. Truth be told, things have never been so gooey. I recommend clicking.