— this is really happening

October, 2007 Monthly archive

Our next door neighbor two houses down is a brave man. And I’ll use the word "rad" in his favor as well. His yard is one of those places that would have terrified me as a child, but it also would have been impossible for me to withstand the temptation to trespass just to get a better look at the oddities within. A few objects worth mentioning: In the backyard there’s a toy zebra with red painted eyes and no teeth, an Albertson’s shopping cart filled with empty paint buckets, and a rocking chair in constant, subtle motion uncomfortably teetering on an twin mattress which is lying flat on a dirt cutout surrounded by about twenty hubcaps. There’s so much more. I can’t do justice. But I walk by and I know it’s art. That’s what it is. On this safe, but predictable North Berkeley street, art prevails in the form of would-be junk. I perhaps unfairly suspect that our other home-owning neighbors find his house "an abomination," and I might too if I was trying to increase my land value – but I’m not.

This afternoon, our brave neighbor was standing in the main drag of P. Avenue holding a sign above his head that said, "STAY HYDRATED PEOPLE!" in big block red letters. I’m laughing just typing this because it was just an incredible site. I wish you all could have seen him. Complete with V-neck undershirt and cut off jeans above the knee, James (I think that’s his name) stood bold like the white knight of the white trash underworld reminding passerbys to drink water. What a great reminder, indeed. While getting my camera, I ran into the house and promptly filled my water jug before returning out to try to snap some photos. To paint an even wider picture, this is the same man who put up l&f posters around the neighborhood a few months ago claiming to have found a chameleon "in good condition." Yes, this man does it all. Underworld radical man.

I asked if I could photograph him with the sign above his head and he declined. But, he agreed I could shoot some of his front yard. So here goes:






So, guzzle the overflow! Cherish the beautiful simplicity of a glass of water and a fresh breath! "We never know the worth of water till the well is dry."


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I always liked the word apothecary. Just saying it I feel Ancient Greece all over. Dusty books. Ruinic spells. Velvet robes with hoods. Pointy ears. Pale elf faces with blue magic eyes. Apothecary. Metal tools in satin carrying cases. Wooden chests with rusty lockets. Apothecary. Hmmm. The inside of a Cirque du Soleil tent is an apothecary of surprises. Sure, it’s a circus tent like any other, lollypop-striped and crowned with a tiny, waving flag. Sure, you shuffle in like an M&M and sit on a chair the size of a 2nd grader’s toilet seat. Ah, but from first step up the steep, wooden rafter stairs you are met with a cavalcade of thousands of dollars of glistening gestures of transformation, and transportation. And it’s worthy of the Gods, and I go every time I can.

I’m thinking about this now because the past few nights I have taken on the serious task of transporting my living and work space into an apothecary of creation. I’ve asked myself what do I need to change in here in order to make the writing happen? What smells? What colors? Hello, lighting? Messages on the wall?

Now, one could argue (even me, and definitely my cats) that these efforts are just a further attempt to avoid writing my thesis. (thank you, Ellen Degeneres for confirming that thought) That may be true. OK, it’s probably definitely true. BUT, buuuuuut, I have to accept this is part of my process. And guess what? It’s working. The writing is happening. With little notes on the wall, with new cleaned carpets and fabric hanging and fresh sheets and cleaned desks and new rugs en route, my apothecary is emerging. And against all odds, from the billowing smokestack of incense and sometimes-lethargy that is 1210 P. Ave., the thesis is forging. The army is in action. Now I just need some hot spit to keep it up.

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American cats are so much more civilized. Gawd!


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As Litcrawl is crawling over San Francisco’s streets tonight, I’m recalling the massive changes that can occur in the span of one year. Last year on this same night I was smushed against the cold wall of the Make-out Room, teetering on tippy toes to catch a glimpse of Michelle Tea. She’s around a lot, a solid local, but I have a soft place for Valencia on my shelf, and I always enjoy seeing her. Tonight, 365 days after the fact, I’m wearing an entirely different cape. Today was spent drilling over manifestos and revolutionary literature and rhetoric from Latin America’s strongest female activists of gender reform. School has got me now. I’m swirling with the Zapatistas aim to “command by obeying,” the Sandinista’s “walk at the pace of the slowest one.” and the Voces Sin Echo torturous stories of slain maquiladoras that inspire me from across the world.

As usually occurs after a session at school, I am ready to rise up. So with that in mind I am adding the first video to thisisreallyhappening, today’s somewhat feeble attempt at solidarity.

Here, we’re unveiling the mystery around money. The money theory class was oddly forgotten in my high school curriculum, but the stunning facts remain: if there were no debt, there would be no money. Money IS debt. Uhm, yeah.

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Willie Wonka landed in my bedroom and gave me these flowers. Well, actually I bought them from a nice lady at a flower stand. The best time to buy flowers: in the rain. I’d like to eat them.

If you’d like, download a big boy wallpaper version of this here.

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There are always these obsessive forms that you cannot get rid of.

 – Andy Goldsworthy from the film, Rivers and Tides
Rowan Leaves with hole;   Click to enlarge.
I remember a drawing I made for my father once. It was my bold attempt to draw as many people (human forms) as I could on one large piece of white butcher paper. It was fall I bet, and getting a bit cold outside. He was watching a football game I think, so it must have been the ’80s because that’s the last time the ‘Niners were any good. I remember lying on the floor with crayons, dilligently drawing circle after circle (the heads of the people). It is a mesmerizing memory; there must have been thousands of circles, all different colors. And I remember looking down in astonishment as my creation grew before me. My big plan was to draw the heads first, then go back in and add the legs and then the eyes, ears, and mouths.  The noses were deemed unnecessary, of course (drawing noses was never any fun, right?).
It went on for hours, and I still remember the outcome. I bolted up the stairs to show my Dad my creation. Watching me with one crisp, blue eye (the other remained on the TV), he held the paper out with both hands. Words escaped him. He just stared, soon with both eyes and the TV disappeared. Finally he said, "Wow Birdie, this is my favorite drawing you’ve ever made."
The Same, the same; Click to enlarge.
I don’t have the drawing any more. Sadly, it was lost in the shuffle. But the thought of it somehow forgives the fact that I’ve listened to the same song 650 times on repeat today. As I’ve recently learned beginning my first week of training for a marathon, doing things in repeat motion is good medicine.
On the same note, today I’ve been thinking a lot about the Scaw’ish form maker, space shaper, Andy Goldsworthy. He taps for me the essence of that intangible thing that is here and then gone. Growth, Time, Change, and the idea of yes, these "obsessive" forms in nature. Did you ever notice how they chase you? I posted some of my favorite shots of his work here. Catch it, it’s good.
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My face got wet while I slept. Lilac sheets. Flannel. And kitten love machines at my toes. What a wake up. Who wants to hear about my dream? Well, you do! You’re reading my blog!

I dreamed the drains of my energy were gone. To clarify, I felt the feeling of having no drain whatsoever on my energy. This is possible? YES. Conversation with good southern friend at loud BART station must have ignited my imagination. Incredible freedom. So I slept in a state of reminiscence of something that hasn’t come yet. A most bizarre feeling. There was also something about a brick building and wide hall with an indoor field and a locket. *Poof* as I type the scene is fading, and by now I can barely see it anymore. Maybe back to bed?

I feel entirely settled and contented now. Raindance for my Mom who is in the hospital. And raindance for everything that everyone in the world is waiting for. 

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