Sunday, August 26, 2012

Dalian and The Lorax

Beer-sickles may be the most entertaining thing all day. Maybe not the most fulfilling, but probably the most entertaining (but its only 2 o’clock so who knows whats around the river bend. Pocahontas maybe.) Yesterday I put several cans o’beer in the freezer because they were room temperature, and the little mini-fridge/freezer hadn’t been plugged in. This was around 3pm I proceeded to pass out like the suffering jet-lagger I am, and boopitie shoobop ~ twilight comes around and I realize i’ve doomed my sleep schedule. Gotta start making good habits while you can but... aaaah heck ~ toss the repercussions... im tired. One thing leads to another I wake up at 1:30am and I go through the night until the sun starts to come up again around 5:00 and then take a nap and wake up at 7:30. I finally realize that I should brave the freezer and see if all my cans-o-beer have exploded. What magic ~ not a one of them did. So I moved them to my fridge in the morning and went to climb this mountain/ steep hill thats on campus. its about a 10 minute jaunt to the top of it (past the heaps of peoples trash : / and the cellphone tower : / ... the Lorax would not be pleased im sure). At the top is one of the more breath-taking views of the open sea that i’ve seen in quite a while. I’ll get you all pictures the next time I go up and take my camera (might be a while... or might be very soon ~ the crux is me remembering to take the camera. If only I had an iphone eh?) So anyhow, after lunch I took one out ~ still yet unbusted and put it in my New Zealand cozy and flicked the top twice. The question going through my head with my finger on the tab (Chinese beer cans have the pull tabs by the way~ the oldschool ones that actually pull off the metal opening completely) ~the question was... when beer is frozen... what happens to the carbon dioxide. WELL! It didn’t bust so lets find out. SCHPLAT! some how this pressurized vessel managed a 360* splash zone from a small hole in the top. My glasses, my computer screen, the wall, the closet... we all got spritzed. Evidently its still got some spunk even when its been frozen. Also... alcohol and water freeze a different temperatures (water freezes first...). One of the quirks of a beer-cicle is that once you pop the fun dont stop... no seriously... you kind of have to steadily drink it or the ice will displace too much liquid and it’ll flow all over your desk as it melts. SEEEE?!?!! science is fun. --- But a little bit about the city I live in: Dalian The first person I met when I got to the airport and fetched my luggage (praise be, it was all there) was a super awesome guy named James. He’s from inner-mongolia, which pretty much instantly makes him famous in my eyes. All you have to do is say it and I’m all eyes and ears. And then he has to go and seal the deal by being interesting on his own. Shucks. We take a taxi through a kind of ghetto part of town that evidently sells funeral supply stuff. I asked if the next area was gonna be babies and then weddings: get the whole spectrum of life right?. (so darn clever of me) All the while there are 2-3 things ringing in my head: this is real China and they’re not trying to hide it, the air is clear and I can actually breathe (a step up from my previous city for sure), and finally ~ there is so much potential for this place to be a great new stomping grounds for me. We got me to my apartment which is on campus and “cozy.” now I just have to make it homey : / Where’s that box with all my flags that I mailed here...? I’ll have to ask someone about that on monday. The place is swarming with dragon flies and I mean by the thousands. And my personal favourite common bird: the Azure-winged Magpie. Though I do really like crows too. --- Randomalia aside I have a question for everyone: do you think emotional susceptibility changes based on other events that happen in your life? For example ~ people like me have an irritation-o-meter and the more irritated we get, the more likely we are to blow up about small insignificant things. But the same applies for other emotions too. Like the other day I came in and saw Dalian for the first time, and I was so elated that the ghetto-ness of my apartment even made me laugh. (there is a booby-trap switch out of the three for the bathroom that will flip the circuit breaker... that seems to be its only function: to mess up your midnight bathroom trip...) These are two fairly superficial examples, but I think (and for myself I know) that it applies for deeper more shaking emotions too. To be transparent - I’ve left home to cross the big water 3 times now. Each time has been different, and this time has been incredibly potent. I suppose part of me expected it to be easier (the second time was pretty easy, but this third time was about as potent and moving for me as the first.) Without getting into the details of how that happened, we’ll say for now that I was basically in mourning over leaving my people this time. OK I guess i’ll give some of the why and how. I never really expected to be as close to my family as i’ve gotten. That might confuse you, but I don’t care. Be shocked and amazed if you want. But each step forward that I take in finding who I am, I have also found that i’ve taken another step closer to understanding and wanting to understand these incredible people in my nuclear family (sorry extended family... you’re still on audition : / ) And so to leave them, even though it was completely of my own doing and volition, and definitely the healthy step that I need and want to take, was a separation that I really lament. I started writing something on the topic earlier and i’ll copy paste that in here now. Some of it will be redundant, but it might interest you to see some of the differences in my writing that show up when I write in different moods: ----------------- It always feel so funerary when im about to cross the big water. There’s this feeling like you know the end of what you’re doing now is coming to the end, and you can feel yourself carried towards this “wall of the end” but never know what to expect next. You don’t feel like there is the other side, nor that there isn’t another side, but all you know is that this right now - is ending. I’ve been so touched this last trip home, because I saw, felt and over-all experienced such an immense love and closeness with my people. I never really thought that i’d be in that boat~ where I was so emotionally moved by that kind of separating from my family. This is the third time. And this time in some ways has been the most potent. I think its one of the most healthy and sobering things to feel sadness every so often. And as I have dealt with my sadness today I chose instead of suppressing it, to let it wash over me. Not to wallow in it and count it a misfortune, but to bathe in the feeling and let it remind me of how deeply loved I truly am. Sorrow in most situations is a recognition of lacking or loss. We talk of mourning, but you can’t mourn unless you had something worth having in the first place; so it was a deep and extensive reserve that breached the boundaries of its container within me today: because I have been so blessed and loved so well as to be worth mourning. And I consider that power. I consider that a measure of wealth that has been invested in our lives. And I want as much of that joy and the mourning as my little bones can take. I think to limit our experience of emotion and what they are there to tell us, is a form of robbery. We pillage and loot the depth of what we have had, and are having, and will have if we are so fortunate~ if we don’t recognize and embrace our emotions and seek to understand them. --- I watched a movie about C.S. Lewis and his coping with the death of his wife by cancer. He made a statement in their letters ~ one of which was along the lines of: We are only living in a world of shadows, real life has not yet begun. ---------------------- So thats another part of me for you, not that I imagine it surprises anyone that im super emotional (part of being a drama-queen I suppose). And to round this bit off and finish asking my question about my emotional susceptibility theory... I just watched the Lorax on recommendation of my sister and a friend from Zhengzhou... well he’s from Mexico but anyhow... And I was moved to tears by certain parts of it, and im pretty sure it wasn’t just the movie itself. I tried to explain my take on emotions to someone in the past few months and one of the metaphors that I really stick with is the door in the chest idea. It all goes back to love I think. happiness, sadness, anger, frustration, infatuation, theres a whole slew of “emotions” that come and go without your bidding, and you can’t really do much about them. You can bottle them, or you can experience them. Sometimes that means ulcers, sometimes that means venting them ~ and how you do that is your business. But love, in its many varieties, has a profound effect on, i would venture to say, all of those other emotions. It imbues and augments each of the emotions in a different way. So im here watching the Lorax, and these things that i’d normally brush off my shoulders are all the sudden bringing me to the brink of tears. What gives yo?

Monday, August 6, 2012


When I was younger, and even today if you talk to my mom : p, people would talk about how creative I was/am. But I question these kinds of statements. Am I really? I think “creative” is a word thats inherently bathed in subjectivity. It IS whatever the bump you want it to be. Thats the evasive beauty of it. But that seems like a load of faux-inspirational hooey to me, and I was thinking today about whether or not I really am creative. Some say im creative, but in many ways im just derivative. I see a lot of things. I hear, I feel and I taste just like anybody. Most of what I do is just copy and paste what i’ve perceived before in different contexts and combinations. Am I really creating anything new then? or do I just fractionally perpetuate? Frustrating thought really, but generalities don’t rule out possibility. How do we dream? What is the difference between taking the road already traveled and doing it as best you can and blazing your own trail. Blazing~ burning and forcing yourself into a place that wasn’t open before. Such an aggressive term. Hard work always seems to be connected with success. Sadly enough though its not, at least from what I’ve seen. You can plow on doggedly in pursuit of what was done before, or no real goal in particular... but do you really accomplish what you were looking for? Correct answer is NO because you didn’t know what you were looking for in the first place. You (I) just wanted to “succeed”. Terribly dissatisfying because it never comes to you (me) if you don’t know what your actually looking for : / ~~ This might be completely unrelated on the face of it but i’m gonna talk about it anyway and you can try to bridge the gap or you can just enjoy the ride. And if you dont want to do either of those then you can just sod off and leave me be (snoot of derision to THOSE people). My oldest sister and I were talking the other day about learning styles and the way that we go about remembering things best. Granted this is probably after a conversation about how much we’ve forgotten owing to the effects of binge drinking... but thats a side trail. She and I both identify as more kinesthetic learners in a way because we both learn by doing, but we have some pretty key differences, even in that. She says that most of her best thinking is done when she’s doing strenuous exercise, and im just the opposite. When I exercise heavily I get very distracted and my thoughts are often very erratic (not erotic- mind you). No. I suppose a good part of my best thinking is done when im cleaning. A menial task that makes me be more observant and more thorough and gives me a feeling of accomplishment. It makes me feel like im actually going into the realm of something “good” and my entire being thrums in harmony with a clean, smooth and intuitively organized environment. Its a small thing then when you consider how easy it is to put me in a bad mood by scattering small bits of bullshit in “my space.” things like sand... crackers... sticky bits of childhood, liquid.... or God-forbid ~ crumpled-apart styrofoam. The static electricity that that stuff picks up and its super-light air-susceptible nature make it wildly frustrating for me. But back to cleaning and Zen. I like washing dishes most I think. Warm water and a finishing line. Its a good way to “earn your dirty” as my second sister would say~ to earn the right to be tired by having done something worth-while. WELL! I just earned my dirty by tearing apart the kitchen yet again in my conquest of making this place a little bit less ridiculous. My favourite thing is to take things that dont belong where they are - and throw them. My train of thought is: if its somewhere it doesn’t belong, then it doesn’t matter if I throw it somewhere else it doesn’t belong. Also im gonna sweep anyway. AND the most fun part is watching people crouch in surf-like fear as missiles go flying about the room in every-which way while I go about my business. I figure it has more impact and just MAYBE they’ll think twice about putting shit where it don’t belong! I might be mistaken... but im willing to enjoy it regardless ^_^ Now THATS good gambling. Anywho~ I think the thing that makes cleaning so stimulating for my train of thought is that it gets my mental momentum going. Im huge into synergy, and I think this is just another one of those things. I can accomplish mountains of work as long as I know what im going to do and how to accomplish it. Otherwise ~ relatively simple tasks can make me want to do nothing more than take a nap. And I really do think that environment has a huge impact on people perhaps most importantly on a passive and subconscious level. What the hey ~ the more we can do to get ourselves walking with the right foot forward the better as far as I’m concerned. In fact I was recently in Petsmart with my champion of brother who has a horse of a dog. We were getting him some sort of specific dog food that he likes for its magical health and non-gas producing qualities (red meat... evidently is the gassy killer). And while wandering around trying to find a customer service representative to help us find the humongo bag, I noticed the aquaria and subsequent fish. And I went BOOM! Headshot! That would be the PERFECT pet for me as I travel all over the world. Relatively low cost and I can have something that doesn’t live super long anyway. I’d love to have a cat and/or birds but I just cant respect myself to knowingly get an animal that can live an upwards of 20 years when im only gonna be in a place for 1-2 or something under 5 and have no real intent (or ability) to bring them with me. But Guppies only live like 4 years under the best of conditions and they breed like lies among slutty teenagers. ohhhhh weary sigh though y’all. So i’ve done two things in the time since starting this post: googled “what does it mean to dream big” and used my mac-standard dictionary (the thing is just delicious) to look up creative. The definition search yielded the following: relating to or involving the imagination or original ideas, especially in the production of an artistic work. It also had a bit of a debate similar to the one I posted above about derivative vs. creative. They also suggested a few other more specific words to replace creative in certain instances: Original, Imaginative, Inventive, and Resourceful ~ and I thought it was an interesting sort of list. I think this list is interesting and important because, as I mentioned at the beginning of this post, I think people hide behind the word creative. They use it to spread around fluffy feelings, and the beef i’ve got with that is that fake compliments are hardly more than farts in the wind. They carry good intentions... maybe... but how can anyone be expected to take a compliment to heart if its not grounded in any sort of truth? In fact a compliment that the receiver knows to be a lie (calling a troll beautiful and relying on that “in the eye of the beholder” schtick for example) is more than likely to create mistrust and just further doubt and questioning on the issue. And while im on the issue ~ please don’t fake happiness. Christians and religious folk are some of the worst perpetrators of this life-crime b/c they feel its their responsibility to show the world how “good” their lives are ~ doubtlessly because of how “good” religion is. And I say this as someone raised in a Christian house and Christian community... and have seen FAAAAR more than my fair share of fake lives. But to pretend that everything is delicious and that every moment is “just a joy” then I think we’re covering over the spectrum of life and numbing the clarity of truth. This type of life leads to a lot of treading softly and builds personal closets that we subconsciously know we just shouldn’t open. And I regard that as sub-par. I want the full spectrum and I’m gonna claw and bite my way to it regardless of those who think I shouldn’t. Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable--if anything is excellent or praiseworthy--think about such things. (phil 4:8) Is this where we get off track with that “nice stuff only” attitude? And I ask each and every one of you - is truth what it claims to be unless it is in its entirety? If there is only part of the truth, does it remain “the truth”? Life, and subsequently everything in it, has its ups and downs. Where are dreams, there are also nightmares, where there is explosive laughter there is also bitter sorrow, and to not even acknowledge the other parts of these wholes is to spit on and disrespect the whole itself. Anyhow thats my diatribe on that... (Exit soap-box stage left) So on to the second thing: I googled “what does it mean to {dream big}.” I’ve had so many people tell me to dream bigger. I don’t really dream ~ that or im constantly dreaming. This or that. But I wanted to know what other people thought the definition for the thing was, and so I googled it ~ like I do all good questions. And the first page had nothing but one good hit and the rest was either complete bollocks or faux-inspirational tripe. Just like “creativity” ~ “dream big” seems to be this mantra that people hide behind to make the world seem uplifting and supportive without actually having to do any of that pesky supporting or uplifting. Trash. So the one good hit had like one good comment and then a bunch of mildly interesting fluff (probably more succinct in its mildly interestingness than mine... ~snark) To go on though ~ she talked about “creating a life” and living creatively. Fairly non-committal things but she did cue me off on another thought: How much of creativity was really just looking at a context in a new/different way? How do we solve new problems that spring up? How do mechanics fix your car? Anywhich way it all starts with knowing what the situation is, and the more intimately that we know what the thing is, the more freedom we have to explore ways to solve it. And even if its not a problem, what if its just something that just “is”? My brother, his girl-friend and I were talking about Picasso because of one of her frankly disturbing dreams the night before and my brother mentioned an artist called Salvatore Dali. I only knew about the Melting Clocks thing he did. He’s got lots of other goofy awesome/ disturbing stuff. And you know we call these people ~ these artists ~ great imaginative “creative” folk. But I ask myself why, and there is a huge part of me that screams out, “BECAUSE THEY LOOK AT THE WORLD DIFFERENTLY!” Shoot. They’re painting clocks for goodness sakes: what horribly impractical crap. But some of us are deeply moved by what these champions of expression do. I am (at least some of the time : p) Not that i’ve really gotten to spend anywhere near enough time with so-called artists to say these things, but I like to think that they get something in their head that they need to express, and it comes from them in a dynamic and living way. It is their experience and perspective that they birth into the realm where everyone else gets to experience it. And I am grateful that they do it. While I do not appreciate all art ~ in whatever media it may come in ~ I appreciate and in fact CRAVE for people to express. And what are some areas that we have seen people “Dream Big” and “Go for the Gold.” Oh look ~ the olympics. Again... And child stars. Gosh I severely dislike child stars. Those America’s Got Talent and whos-its-whats-its that are non-stop on T.V. A lot of people get confused and befuddled when I say i don’t like the olympics and child-stars. My dad for one. He loves that crap. I cant tell you how much time he spends watching children with full-blown operatic abilities or how giggly he’ll get when he sees these 17 year old olympian swimmers. “Imagine what it’d be like to be going back as a senior in highschool with a gold medal (guffaw guffaw guffaw).” uh-huh... (sneer) It just so happens that when I was in middle school, I had round glasses. And I looked exactly like the illustration of harry potter. I got myself a temporary nickname I did... But you know the killer: when I watched the Harry Potter movies as they came out, I would enjoy them until the credits and then i’d get bitter. You wanna know the petty reason why? Cause I had this bitter envy of their adventures. They had adventures that made them grow. Danger that made their dreams lucid. But lets not dwell on how petty I can be ^_^ I would be mentally “off” for a week: distracted and irritable because I wanted to get swooped up and taken on adventures myself. (Sigh) But I guess I’ll just have to not live a story and instead create a crazy sort of a life. --- I was having a bit of what we in my family call “quiet time” and reading along in scripture and I with this whole inner dialogue about creativity that i’ve been having I came across these bits and read them in a different way than I ever have before. Salt and Light Matt 5: ~ 13 “You are the salt of the earth. But if the salt loses its saltiness, how can it be made salty again? It is no longer good for anything, except to be thrown out and trampled underfoot. 14 “You are the light of the world. A town built on a hill cannot be hidden. 15 Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. 16 In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven. What if this wasn’t the same thing i’ve been hearing my whole life? What if this wasn’t as much about being out-there evangelical Christians doing good works and converting the whole place so help me God?!! Honestly im a lot more likely to believe that this is talking about being the people that we were made to be. This isn’t about religious fervor I don’t think ~ I think this has a lot more to do with giving what you have to give in life and contributing in the unique and glorious way that we were made to. I was talking to a particularly wise friend of mine once and we talk about culture at large a lot. She commented partway through some conversation about how many people in culture aren’t interested in really supporting and cultivating people, but instead are a lot more interested in shaping other people to be more like them ~ to project their own ideas and attitudes and interests on other people. Holy zombie apocalypse y’all. Lets look at one more thing and then I can stop thumpin’ the book ~ don’t worry. Matt 6:~ 22 “The eye is the lamp of the body. If your eyes are healthy, your whole body will be full of light. 23 But if your eyes are unhealthy, your whole body will be full of darkness. If then the light within you is darkness, how great is that darkness! So we talked about creativity possibly being a way of looking at the world differently right? SO check out the above: The first verse talks about the eyes and its connection to light. Which sounds painfully obvious right? There were old-school philosophies (ancient greek, I forget who...) that subscribed to an idea that light came from within you and the rest of the world was dark, and whatever the light from your eyes shined on - was what you could see. For us its the other way around, but whatever. The kicker for me though is where it talks about your eyes being healthy or unhealthy and your body being full of light or darkness. Then in the last sentence it says ~ if the LIGHT within you is DARKNESS then how great is that darkness! Its a big deal to me and this was the thunderbolt to the dome for me because its a mixed metaphor. Two things that normally can’t co-exist. What if this is actually talking about the same thing I mentioned above ~ creativity just being a different way of looking at the world, and expressing yourself based on that perception. If your eyes are healthy, and you embrace your light and cultivate it (put it on a stand) then your light has a chance to shine out and enrich the lives of those around you. Whereas when we cramp and hinder who we are, or could be, and become something other than what our inner self is (or could be) we kill that light. Our light actually becomes a darkness and we instead spread that nastiness around. Some of the nastiest people i’ve ever met were the ones that either refused to acknowledge who they were, or wanted to cramp the spectrum of what other people could be. “Just” a thought. ---- So the productive area of all this is that I think I’ve just licensed myself with more freedoms. No one is going to schedule my life for me. No one can dream my dreams for me, and I don’t want them to. No - instead im much more inspired in continuing down the road that I was going in, but definitely in a different way. I’ve loved languages and cultures for a very long time, and some of the key reasons that I do are because of how connected those things are to the way people perceive their experience and how they express their thoughts and feelings about their experiences. And I want more of that. I was getting disheartened over the past... probably year, but as long as I pick my venues better, I am convinced that there is a lot left in this world for me to be a part of. And the more I experience ~ the more ill be able to contribute. Why not?