overhaul / undertow

Thursday, October 31, 2002

God, this is such a shitty day.

Wednesday, October 30, 2002

Starbucks, North Dakota next on list?

The California Milk Processor Board is dangling cash and community repairs in front of the town of Biggs, Ca., with one small caveat: They have to change their name to Got Milk?, California.

The sick sad world of marketing.

Read about it here: http://sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?file=/c/a/2002/10/29/MN191011.DTL

Tuesday, October 29, 2002

Excerpted from McSweeney's by a generous, generous soul who had to transcribe it directly:

Dave Eggers wrote a series of letters under the pseudonym of Daniel O'Mara who himself was writing letters from the point of view of Steven. Steven is a dog. This is cool. -michele.

_____________________________________________---begin McSweeney's transmission:

On August 5, 2000, twenty letters were sent by Daniel O'Mara to the chief executive
officers of twenty Fortune 500 companies. This is one; four more follow.

Hugh L. McColl, Jr.
CEO, Bank of America Corop.
100 N. Tryon Street
Charlotte, NC

Dear Mr. Thomas,

I realize that you are a busy man so I will get to the point. I have recently been writing
some passages from the point of view of a dog named Steven, and I would like you to
see an example. Here is one:

I am Steven and I was born in a box of glass, on newsprint cut to ribbons. I am
here now, five years later, and my paws, once white like paper, are now white
like ivory. I have walked streets! And over fields! Have seen things! The hands
of children I've bitten! They look delectable and taste so fine!

I have to move. I have to move. I can jump a mile. I'm that kind of dog -- I can
jump a goddamn mile. I'm a great dog. I see colors like you hear jetplanes.

I'm going to find a hole. I'm going to find a tiny tiny tiny hole and walk
through like goddamn Gandhi.

That is all for now.


Daniel O'Mara
5811 Mesa Drive, #216
Austin, TX

bitchen' broad of the year

Without further ado: The lovely miss Kat Halsey wins bitchin' gal of the year (last year it was both Van and Tana). Why?

More reasons than I can enumerate here, and none of them re. her gettin' me her spare comp ticket to the Electroclash tour (Peaches, Chicks on Speed etc.). What a damn incredible show, and an even more unbelievable woman.....

Oh, btw, go see Robert McChesney speak at Midnight Special in Santa Monica tonight (Tuesday, 7:30 p.m.). He's a brilliant media analysist, the foremost leader in media criticism and in the discussion re. globalization's/unfettered capitalism's effect on media. I'll be there, and so will Jake and myself and some of my gals, Kat included. Look for the orange-pumpkpin redhead--that's me.

And on the Electroclash tour, we got there late--around 11--just in time to catch the last of the Chicks and see Peaches go on. Holy shit. The woman is insanely incredible. Just when I thought I'd gotten her pegged as a novelty act, she belted out with the richest, most honey-syrupy voice ever, full of soul--she's got Aretha's lungs and Rollins' vocal ethic. How any one human could switch back and forth between testosterone-fueled screaming from the gut to high-end soul so often within an hour-long show is beyond me. It's rare I see a show that surprises me--this one did that and more.

And the crowd was fascinating. Usually at shows this intense there's a light tang of fear on the air--girls in the audience hoping the pit doesn't get too wild, hoping they don't get groped, hoping the incitement of the performers doesn't encourage the people around her to take her down in some sexually-charged Lord of the Flies moment. And here, at this show? Well, the ratio was prolly almost half male, half female. With male performers as sexually charged onstage, things might have been different, but this was Peaches, and watching her rant and rage with such ballsy bravery up there, you felt like she'd kill any man in the audience who took the bump and grind bit too far.

Rock on, ladies.

Monday, October 28, 2002

Hey, it looks like I finally got the effing comments working. Woo wee!
Plug: Thanks, Haloscan!

Friday, October 25, 2002

aaargh. I can't get my little anchors to work (see sidebar, "suv manifesto"--or wait, DON"T see it, cos it doesn't fucking work)! I am not above asking for help. I'm trying to link from there to an old post. Plenty of people do it. Why can't I?

blargh. while failing at the above task, I also burnt my pasta. Yes, pasta. How does one burn pasta, you ask? Why, by letting it boil 'til all the water is gone and then allowing it to....burn. Right.

I need pillows taped to my body. I'm gonna hurt myself bonking into common household objects or something.

oh so fucking happy happy happy

I got tickets to go see the Dismemberment Plan in BOTH San Diego and LA!!!!! Woo wee!!!

None of the usual suspects--none of my usual musicfiend pals--could go with me, so I crossed my fingers and bought just one ticket for SD (I don't mind going to shows alone--I can do whatever I want, then) and two for LA. I'm sure I can find someone to go with me before then. I think the show is on the second or something.

So blissfully blissfully happy!

You gotta love a band whose lyric sheet includes stuff like "There are times when I think eternal life ain't such a bad gig: smoke all you want and see the planets. If and only they find a way to cure the longing, the distant panic. Someday, I'm telling you, they'll build a memory machine to wax our hearts to a blinding sheen. To wash away the grief. There are folks who say to have a soul you've got to suffer; well, lately I've had my RDA of that. And call it fascist but I know that someday Happy will be all that matters. Poetry, Aldoux Huxley--yeah, it'll be a relief. If they can make us machines to save us labor, someday they'll do our hearts the very same favor. The wails of ruined lives brought to a halt by the serene hum of computers in air-conditioned vaults."

Hot damn.

Still, as of right now, I'm in a contemplative mood, so it's Unbelievable Truth's album "almost here" on rotation. Kazaa yerself up some "Higher Than Reason" [track 10] and bliss out, euphorically, right along with me. yay.

...all this, and spastic too!

My poor roommate walked in on me stark raving nekkid in the kitchen yesterday morning. She leaves for work every morning at 8:30, and that's about when I get up; I'd just gotten out of the shower and it was time for breakfast. I was going for the drip-dry method. Who would know--she was gone, right?


I began manically hopping up and down (why did I think that would make it better?) trying to cover the critical realms and grabbed the poor hapless dishtowel to cover, well, almost nothing, since the dishtowel is not too very large; and all I could yell as I heard her walk into the room was "nakednakednaked!!!!" like some sort of error warning, continuing to crouch over and hop around like a freak.

I am a moron.

Consider this a public apology, Tana. I am quite sure you will tease me about it for the rest of my life: the wages of stupidity.

But I could have SWORN she'd left for work! She ALWAYS leaves at 8:30! How could I have known she was home sick--and that she walks so quietly she almost snuck up on me!!!

Oh, why bother? I'm shamed for all eternity. Go on, mock me.


Moral of the story: Spare yourself and others. Wait 'til you get a place of yer own to get TOO comfortable.

everything about everything

I love Metafilter. Why oh why didn't I read it more before now?

Thursday, October 24, 2002

brilliant: postmodernists vs. existentialists on Jerry Springer


dumb, crazy love, kung fu, pop tarts.

About three years ago I completed a two-year project at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, which I began about a month or two after I graduated from UCLA's art history department with an absolutely irrelevant degree.

Irrelevant, that is, to just about anything except the highly rarefied and navel-gazing world of museum work.

I sat at a computer for two years, the recipent of a dedicated grant, and catalogued and entered into a mammoth database every item in the Islamic art collection (year two was dedicated to pre-Islamic items and other Ancient Near Eastern artifacts). I wrote object descriptions, dialectic panels, and teeter-tottered around on the padded seats of creaky wheeled office chairs, standing on the toes of one foot while I stretched up to the topmost shelves in the storage rooms that are hidden off stairwells and behind camouflaged doors throughout the upper galleries, trying to reach a 2,000-year-old piece of ceramic so I could write its description, while at the same time trying to exert enough force on the chair below me so that its wheels would not go skidding out from underneath, leaving me to fall and not be found for days, not to mention dropping and shattering said artifact. I still can't get over the fact they didn't have ladders. Morons.

Every day I parked in the two-tiered parking lot across the street, walked through the crosswalk to the museum's employee gate, said hi to the guards who I always knew, and shuffled in to work. In those days I was doing kung fu every night of the week until ten at night and sometimes later, then hanging out with friends afterwards. I was often exhausted and/or hungover. But damn if I wasn't in great shape. I still self-aggrandizingly brag about the six-pack I had at the time. Ha. These days I'd be happy for a two-pack. Or maybe a 40-ouncer.

I came to know the gate guards, and the other guards whose job it was to prowl through the parking lot, moderately well--at least enough to know them by sight. I wasn't thrilled about this though. I was such a wreck those days--up working out 'til ten, staying out partying 'til three, slogging in bleary-eyed to work at ten, living off of pop-tarts, diet coke, and california rolls (ah, youth)--that I had NO interest in chatting it up with anybody standing inbetween me and the door to my veal-fattening pen of an office. I was pleasant, but always relieved to escape their attention. A few seemed to like me a bit too much.

One summer evening I was leaving work. It was still sunny out. As usual, one or another of the guards was manning the little booth by the gate to the parking lot, and he said Hi as I walked by. He came out and walked towards me (damn, I thought, now I have to make small talk) and stretched out his hand: he was holding a manila envelope.

It was so long ago I don't really remember the exchange, but it was something to the extent of that since I'd mentioned to him in the past, when he asked me what I did at LACMA, that I was a writer, he'd taken the time to write up some of his own poetry and would be flattered if I'd read over it. I thanked him profusely and nervously fled. I didn't want to be the recipient of such an intimate gift from someone I didn't really know and never really wanted to talk to.

I thought about throwing it away, absolving myself of the responsibility for reading it, but it seemed an unkind thing to do: this man had trusted me. I pulled the pages out halfway, didn't read any of it, noticed a large post-it stuck to the front of the small sheaf, and stuck it back in. I decided I would read it later. It got lost in my car over the next few weeks (for those of you who know my car, you can understand how this could easily happen), and I sighted it from time to time but never opened it. I figured the contents would be unimpressive as far as writing quality goes and i didn't want to think poorly of this person; I already felt guilty enough about not reading them immediately.

I don't remember seeing him much after that, and if I did, it never registered; I left LACMA shortly after, and began teaching full-time. After about a year and a half of teaching full-time, I got posted to my current position, and now I once again sit in an office and write all day. This time I don't mind it. My life is much more stable and balanced than it was back during my time at LACMA. Honestly, I'm surprised they never fired me over there, given the bizarre hours I kept and my constant state of not-quite-all-there-ness. These days it's much better, and as a bonus I don't have to summon all my bodily musculature to stand tiptoe on tall rollerskating chairs and grab at bits of pottery that predate Christianity.

I was frantically looking for some papers in my room yesterday, and when i came upon a manila envelope I hoped it was what I was searching for. It was not. It was this man's letter. I immediately felt nervous; I didn't want to read it. But I felt I owed it to him; he had trusted me, after all. So I opened it.

The poetry had been printed on four or five pages of decorative paper, the kind you buy at Kinko's. At first glance it seemed like crappy love poetry. I felt embarrassed. I didn't want to read about this young Cassanova's conquests.

Then I read the post-it note affixed to the front. It was handwritten in a florid cursive and signed by one Mohammed. Without it here I can't quote it, and even if it were here, I do not think I would, as it seems to violate some sort of trust or minimize something that was, obviously, very important to someone.

Regardless, I am glad I never read it, or I would have parked in another parking lot for the rest of my time at the museum.

It apologized for "being so bold," and went on to state that he had adored me from the minute he first "set eyes upon my face" (as I got out of my car? yikes), and that I "haunted his dreams," and he wanted only to behold my face etcetera etcetera (yeah, sure, dude). It made me feel horribly uncomfortable, squirmingly flattered, and quite spooked. How could it be that someone could feel this way about...me? I'm no luscious beauty, certainly nothing to inspire the kind of slavish devotion he was going on and on about.

I couldn't read the rest of the poetry. It made me feel as though I'd been under surreptitious surveillance ever since I got to LACMA. I stuffed it all back in the envelope and kept looking for the other papers I'd lost. (I found them soon after, in plain view on my desk.)

I've loved men in my life. Some of them I've loved with the kind of blind and meaningless adoration that this man seemed to be under the spell of. He and I never spoke. I walked past him a few times a week--that was all. It is bizarre and fascinating and sad and, I guess, lovely in a way, to think that such heights of ecstatic passion, such brilliant intensity, obsession even, can be reached on so tenuous a tightrope as just seeing someone once in a while--and that someone not even be much to write home about, at that.

And yet.

I'd wager that a fair amount of my most passionate love affairs were conducted on as unstable a basis, an untenable a foundation. Many will say, "that's not really love, that's obsession," but naw--it's love. Love is rarely all it's cracked up to be, kids. Love paces a long line from obsession to appreciative interest. When it's in a healthy range of its spectrum and is accompanied by commonalities such as friendship, shared interests and ideals, and complementary personalities, it can last a lifetime. But love by itself is never enough. That poor man--I must have seen him several more times before I left. Did he stay up nights wondering if I'd call (he left four different phone numbers on the back)? Did it leave him nonplussed or hurt when I continued to pass by, day after day, not noticing him or waving gaily as though he hadn't just bared his soul to me (and really, he hadn't--the letters were still in my trunk, unread)?

Love, thou art abysmally dumb.

Wednesday, October 23, 2002

lyrics by ryan adams:

Dear Chicago,
You'll never guess.
You know the girl you said I'd meet someday?
Well, I've got something to confess.
She picked me up on Friday.
Asked me if she reminded me of you.
I just laughed and lit a cigarette,
Said "that's impossible to do."
My life's gotten simple since.
And it fluctuates so much.
Happy and sad and back again
and I'm crying out too much.
Think about you all the time.
It's strange and hard to deal.
Think about you lying there.
And those blankets lie so still.
Nothing breathes here in the cold.
Nothing moves or even smiles.
I've been thinking some of suicide.
But there's bars out here for miles.
Sorry about the every kiss.
Every kiss you wasted back.
I think the thing you said was true,
I'm going to die alone and sad.

Tuesday, October 22, 2002

for the two or three people out there who actually don't say "I'm not really into poetry."

Got some new prosety.

I'm sure you're all thrilled.

Sunday, October 20, 2002

...to perihelion?

Phew. After four months dye-free, I've finally returned my hair to its former red-orange glory. Rah!

Feeling a good bit better, and it's either that (a) the dye soaked into my small primeval lizard brain to push the "happy" button, releasing dopamine and serotonin or (b) an internal move, a change in tides, shifted to lean me sideways just enough to get up off the bed and color my hair a color that, as a painter, I quite thoroughly dig. (I would never wear it, but for some reason orange looks good in my hair and on household objects. Ah well.)

It'll fade over the next two weeks or so to become just plain red au natural, but for now the hair (if not quite the rest of me) looks a bit like the girl from Alias if she'd been eating a few too many carrots.

I do hope that there is that bit within myself that moved to haul me up and out of my crap mood ( and not just carcinogenic chemicals seeping into my brain stem). I hope that as much as my life, like a car with lousy alignment, pulls to the shoulder and threatens to drop me off the edge of the road, it has a decent enough driver to keep to the correct side of the lines and not plow, head on, into anything too awful to manage.

A tropism towards the light, if you will.

Main Entry: peri·he·lion
Pronunciation: "per-&-'hEl-y&n
Function: noun
Inflected Form(s): plural peri·he·lia /-'hEl-y&/
Etymology: New Latin, from peri- + Greek hElios sun -- more at SOLAR
Date: 1666
: the point in the path of a celestial body (as a planet) that is nearest to the sun -- compare APHELION

from aphelion in?...

I've been weird ever since July. Something's come loose and is knocking around up there, I can just tell.

Do you ever get the feeling--usually late at night when you're alone, doing some quiet activity--that you haven't the faintest idea what is going on? and the additional feeling as though you may never know? and find it very scary?

I donno. I guess I just get lonely, or depressed, sometimes.

Question: When one feels depressed, knowing it runs in yer family, should one regard it much in the matter as one would any recurring chronic illness--"Oh, crap, here we go again, I'd better rest up," or do you just let it flatten you?

Honestly, neither of those two options seems terribly appealing.

Hats off to Dad for tipping the genetic hand and making it clear beyond the shadow of a doubt--no subtle suspicions, no putting two and two together--it's clear as daylight, ever since those few years back--clear beyond the shadow of a doubt that there's something, some sicko tendency, in the blood to be contended with; a quiet little murderer, preferring poison over more crass means, its sole intended victim myself, loosing in the veins from time to time a narcotic unhappiness that seems both impossible to adequately medicate and maddeningly narcissistic. Seeing him go through what he did. He only made it out alive with medicine.

I do not want to take drugs for this.

It comes, it goes, I oscillate wildly between euphoria and epiphanies and then going down, undertows taking me.

Maybe everyone feels this way. I donno. It's not like it's SO bad. I just get moody. And so, yes, fine, I'm a drama queen.

Did you know, at aphelion (happens in July), when the earth is furthest from the sun, it's also the hottest? 'Cos the main continental mass is tilted towards the sun.


Thursday, October 17, 2002

lyrics by liz phair:

i know i dont always realize how sleazy it is, messing with these guys but something about just being with you slapped me right in the face, nearly broke me in two its a mark i've taken hard and i will carry with me for a long long time i dont know if i could drive a car fast enough to get to where you are, or wild enough not to miss the boat completely... I don't know if I could fly a plane well enough to tailspin out your name, or high enough to lose control completely.
Honey, I'm thinking maybe...you know, just maybe.

I broke up at the roadhouse. I wouldn't know you were alive; you haven't seen me for weeks now.
It wouldn't shock you if I drove right out through the back of your eyes--and
I can't be trusted, they're saying I can't be true.
But I only wanted more than I knew.
Baby I'm tired of fighting.
I always wanted you.
I only wanted more than I knew.

...and lyrics by whiskeytown:

Well I can tell
She can tell
(See what you have been losing...)

Main Entry: hyp·o·crite
Pronunciation: 'hi-p&-"krit
Function: noun
Etymology: Middle English ypocrite, from Old French, from Late Latin hypocrita, from Greek hypokritEs actor, hypocrite, from hypokrinesthai
Date: 13th century
: a person who puts on a false appearance of virtue or religion
- hypocrite adjective

Wednesday, October 16, 2002

So lately it's been foggy around here.

It's quite odd. Fog is normal for this time of year in Southern California, but not the sort that lingers throughout the whole day, expanding upwards to merge with the low clouds, hugging the tops of the mountains into obscurity, filling the space around you--that used to be so big, such a big sky here in south Glendale by the railroad track and all the old buildings no higher than two stories--the sky opening up above you like a blue dome, waiting to suck you off your feet--and now the fog, like I said, filling the space around you so densely that you can't see clearly to things, like trees and lightposts, just a few yards away. A haze hangs over everything. From the freeway, which during my drive to work I travel on for the space of about forty seconds, the land looks as though it has been dissappeared, only a few rocks by the shoulder to indicate the presence of something massive possibly crowding in around you, unseen. All you see are the asphalt stalks supporting the overpasses and the swirls of ornate graffiti, and the tinny delicate lamps sagging in over the roadway where we all rush along, our passage both echoing and hushed by the white stuff. It's as though this little corner of earth here, by the river and in the crevice of the hills, is being annexed to some other world, but slowly so as to avoid discovery.

And when the sun sets, and I drive home along the freeway (again) and then off the first offramp onto the road that goes past the cemetery and over the hill into Hollywood, it's either a blankety grey dusk, sinking down over the valley like a tired dust disturbed from the valley floor itself, drifting grey and dank along the tops of everything, an exhausted blue wash; or it's a hellaciously beautiful carnation sunset, the sun a flare with no edges, the sky the color of salmon and sweet-sixteen roses, throwing light over the cityscape, creating a hyperreal look to everything; the fog still in the air but thinnner, attenuated, stretched out to a spiderwebby veil, as though you could reach through it and have it stick to your fingers, a screen dropping lightly between myself and the land and the buildings, between observer and observed, making you feel not of this world (or is it what's out there that's otherworldly?) the angular tangerine light straining blue-purple shadows to the breaking point, coloring the road the color of the sea at night, indigo and ink; and the sun-shot sky smeared with raspberry and the fog or the haze or smoke from a forest fire even, an illuminated duskiness, every inch of asphalt, every building and light pole and benign tree made a cool and darkened sliding screen, a ghost world, through which you imagine you could move undetected.

I sing in the car on my way home.

Tuesday, October 15, 2002

Eric Schlosser might be kinda proud....maybe

Burger King has a new veggie burger. As much as I dislike fast food, I'm gonna try it and tell you if it sucks or not. If it's good, I think honestly that we should all buy 'em, to send a message to the fast food folks that we want sustainable, responsible, healthy foods.

Of course, they may be chock-full of GMO's, but hell, it's a start.

Hey, look, we bombed Iraq today.

Like we have already, fifty times this year.


It just goes to show you, this is all about politics, the election year, and people's own careers. Iraq's been shooting at our patrols in the no-fly zones for years. We shoot back. If all we wanted to do was shoot at them some more, we could easily have done that--we ARE doing that. No. This is about something else.

Monday, October 14, 2002

Blargh. I'm tired. But I got a portfolio shot for a friend, so it's all good, 'cos I've wanted to get that done for a while.

Moral of story: Being exhausted can feel good if it's accompanied by a well-earned sense of accomplishment.

Let's just hope the damn things come out.

Thursday, October 10, 2002

And now, for your entertainment, witness Michele's loss of innocence, crumbling before your eyes:

Via IM:

Me: this sucks: http://news.google.com/
Jake: not surprising
Me: i know. But still.
Me: Wait---aaaaugh, no filibuster after all? and i called, and faxed, and emailed, and still he decided not to? what an asshole!
Jake: he didn't?
Me: Laura said he didn't do it after all--not enough support from his colleagues.
Jake: hmm, i haven't gotten that...
Me: hmm.
Jake: sigh, yeah. i saw him on cspan earlier, but now some other dude's speaking in the senate.
Me: fuck. we are doomed.
Jake: i've assumed that for some weeks now. no one in the government is interested in what i think
Me: what will we do, jake? :(
Me: i thought we had a voice. naiively, i thought that at least blatant self-interest in their own reelection would cause congress to listen to the overwhelming numbers of their own constituents. i guess for all my cynicism, a big part of me believed that "the process" worked. It doesn't.
Jake: the only way to pressure politicians is to make them feel that disobeying you is more threatening that obeying you
Jake: i don't know what kind of threat we can offer
Me: voting them out? :(
Jake: yeah, get yourself a voting bloc that will vote them out based on this sole issue and you've got something
Me: I smell cynicism in yer text there.
Jake: i think they're thinking 'if i vote against this, my opponents will call me unamerican next election and i'll lose'
Me: can they really be so dumb? God. I'm asking stupid questions, aren't I?
Jake: no, they're probably right
Me: Ignoring their constituents is the ultimate in being unamerican. But I guess that's old-fashioned of me to think so. This is the least democratic thing I've witnessed in a long time. Well....maybe not.
Jake: actually, like a third of the house voted against the iraq resolution. i'm surprised
Me: yeah.
Jake: and even if they did, do you think that would stop bush?
Me: :( I don't know. Something HAS to stop him. He's supposed to do what the people want him to do. Most of the people don't want war. God. I am arguing this like a child. I am so stupid.
Jake: sorry i seem so cynical, but i went through what you're going through a few weeks ago. anger and powerlessness
Jake: basically feeling, 'wow, i have no say in my government'
Me: Yeah. that's exactly how I feel. I might as well be in effing Iraq myself--I'd have just as much input. Wow. I hate them all. Oh, look, now I'm in the "anger" stage.
Jake: yup. and terrorists from other countries are gonna bomb ME for shit the government's done when i have no say in what my government does?
Me: god. You're right. And we are going to do the same to them.
Jake: like i said way back when, cheney, bush and hussein in a locked room with chainsaws: limit the harm to the people who are have the conflict.
Me: god. I agree. But really, they don't have the conflict. They couldn't care less, could they? it's all an elaborate dance to engender war fervor and political / financial success.
Jake: yeah.
Me: I am brokenhearted.
Jake: sorry, ive got to get going. i'm meeting tom for the michael moore movie. Call me later if you need to.
Me: ok. have fun.
Jake: will do.
Me: :)
Jake signed off at 5:28:43 PM.

Michele abdicated her faith in the United States government at 5:28:44 PM.

From the New York Times:

"The Senate's closure vote came after the majority leader, Senator Tom Daschle of South Dakota, announced from the Senate floor that he was supporting the resolution. "For me, the deciding factor is my belief that a united Congress will help the president unite the world," Senator Daschle said. "And by uniting the world we can increase the world's chances of succeeding in this effort and reduce both the risks and the costs that America may have to bear." "

How, Mr. Daschle, has war ever "united the world," except by suffering?

letters from Iraqi teenagers:

Mohamed Ahmed Issa
Baghdad - Iraq

Dear Daniel,

My name is Fahad. First I want to thank you about your nice feelings toward our people in Iraq. I'm 17 years old too. Let me tell you about my day. I start school at 8:00 o'clock exactly like you. I go to school every day except Friday, because it is the formal holiday in our country. When I don't go to school I play my favorite sport Football [soccer]. Also, I have a computer. We are not killers, really.

Here in Iraq we love all peoples in the world and we try to help them if we could. All people in the world must not believe everything bad said about us in programs made specially to produce bad facts about Iraq. So we are a people like the peace and work to get it. Because whatever I say I can't describe to you how much Iraqi people suffered after the war.

At the end I really want to tell you that I like you very much because
I believe that the person who like music has deep feelings inside. I hope we'll become friends if you send me a letter to know more about each other.

Your Iraqi Friend,

27 September, 2002
Iraq - Baghdad
Al-Markazia Secondary School
Mohamed Sidigge El-Dubassi

Dear Friend,

My name is Mohamed Sidigge El-Dubassi. I am 19 years old. I am student in final year in the secondary stage. My school name is Centre Secondary in Baghdad. My father to have plenty of work to do because he work in journalism. My mother is artist and sketcher. I love sports. I love Manchester United. I love David Beckham, Rod Van Netelroy, and Roy Keane.

I love happy life. This is my life on generally.

In the end, I thank you on you read my letter. I expect your letter.

Love Always,
Your friend Mohamed El-Dubassi

For all the letters, visit http://www.wagingpeace.org/articles/02.10/1003iraqpenpal.htm.

Wednesday, October 09, 2002

Note to self: while getting four apples from one of the locals during my vacation is charming, it is no substitute for a fucking paycheck.

I am a nervous wreck about money. I think I'm gonna ask for an advance.

But at least I'm back alive, says the plane- and shark-phobic who just returned from Hawaii. And I managed to brave not only the plane but to go in the water too. Yay.

Sadly, too broke for any effin' therapy.


Sunday, October 06, 2002

Drove up Haleakala.

Gave ride half-way to Rastafarian who was walking to Hana. The road to Hana is a bitch. I can't fathom walking (52 miles). He seemed perfectly happy, though. I really envied the way he took full advantage of life.

Took photo of a man's garden with small shrine to Mary; man subsequently gave me four big apples from said garden.

Was offered joint by two men kicking back and enjoying the view at a park halfway up the mountain; I declined due to the curvy two-lane highway, but thanked them profusely.

Got "hang loose" and thumbs-up signs from a horde of Harley / Triumph bikers on their way down Haleakala, while I was taking shots of a church whose steeple and the cross that adorned it were backlit by the sun as it slanted through the fog and clouds that are perpetually climbing down the grassy slopes there.

In short, a good day.

Will be flying home tomorrow. I have been homesick, but have also had a good time. I am not looking forward to getting back to find myself broke--I don't get paid days off.

But I did get four apples.

Saturday, October 05, 2002

I have learned many valuable lessons on this trip.

1. A trip taken with others is not your own experience: it does not belong to you. It is a shared construct. Concessions must be made, or steps must be taken if you want your time to belong to you and you alone. The best step to take, if you want your time to be yours and no one else's, is to not go with anyone else. To go alone.

2. If you go with others, it is advisable to make sure they share your tastes and are familiar with your frame of reference and the ideas you hold dear. If they do not, you should hope that they at least can tolerate of appreciate your points of view.
This has not quite been the case with my parents. [reference the "Wilco episode:" "Michele?" "Yeah, mom?" "Why do they make that noise? I don't understand the point. It's so noisy. It makes it hard to hear." "Well, mom, I, um, guess that in contemporary music, the idea of music has expanded to include new definitions of what qualifies as beauty. Sometimes art is challenging...lately musicians have been manipulating sounds with computers to create sonic landscapes, textures laid down in tracks, and after a while you come to appreciate the art of it, the way you can learn about modern art and then appreciate things you didn't understand before. Here they're using the deconstruction of the sound to miror the degeneration of the musicians' resolve, the sense of loss expressed in the song." "Oh. I'll take your word for it. Um, can we turn it down a bit?" At which point I hit the eject button.]

3. Relating to point number two, if you travel with people who just plain aren't like you, it's wise to take steps to allow for distance. Rent your own car, get a private bedroom or suite, even take walks by yourself. If only to keep from banging your head repeatedly against a wall.

4. Just because you used to be comfortable taking trips with the fam, relegating decision-making to your parents and having them supervise your every activity and monitor your every choice, does not mean you'll dig it quite so much--or find it as comforting--when you're 25 years old.

5. You can't go home again.

6. I guess I've grown up. Hmm.


Tuesday, October 01, 2002

Yay! I'm alive. In light of this unexpected, life-ish development, the "goodbye if i die" post seems a bit dumb, but I don't think it was a poor choice to do it...it certainly made me think a lot about what is most important to me, and my feelings about my life in general.

I guess they're relatively positive. :)

Here is where I am staying:


It's purdy.

There is also a lot of new developments going up around here...if I hada digital camera I'd scan 'em in fer you to see, but it'll have to wait 'til I get home...anyway, the new land developments--there's even an Outback Steakhouse!--and the housing developments are making this place look almost indistinguishable from parts of Orange County, Ventura, or the midwest. You have to drive out to the less-frequented areas to remind yourself you're in Hawaii.

However, the fact that I AM writing this from a very tiny internet cafe / sanwich shop / video store / ice cream shop makes it all seem a little more charming.

see ya.