Thursday, September 29, 2011

Brothers & Sons & This American Daughter

If I ever write a memoir, the first line is going to be, "I was supposed to be a rodeo queen."
Which quite honestly is the truth. I remember at one point in time my mother mentioned that her plans for me were to "rodeo hard."
I've apologized to my parents occasionally for turning out completely opposite of what they were hoping for. But it seems children have minds of their own and end up doing what they want. Mine (should they end up existing) may want to be, God-forbid, reality TV stars or money-hungry corporate salesmen. Blech!
I was supposed to be a rodeo queen, but then I started going to punk shows. Then hardcore shows. The post-hardcore shows. And now? Very few shows, sadly. But there are a few bands I really must see live someday. Among them include: Mumford & Sons, The Avett Brothers, Fleet Foxes,The Swell Season, and My Morning Jacket. I think you'll see a trend. Beardy boys playing music from their roots. From my roots.
I have to say, I'm a fan of this new folksy, old-timey trend music is in right now. Some argue that bands are focusing too much on where music has been, and not where it's going, but I think these guys, and others, are doing a good job at blending the old with the new. Holding on to what's been great while embracing what's to come, musically.
And it works for me personally as well. My rodeo queen turned hardcore mistress turned borderline-but-hopefully-not-quite-a-hipster self is revelling in this neo-hillbilly style. It encompasses all that I've been, loved, left behind, and look forward to. And it does so rather harmoniously, if I do say so myself. And quite frankly, it makes me want to dance. And perhaps the most exciting bit of all, my mother and I can finally agree on what to listen to!
Here are a few favorites:

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

What's Your Passion?

I can't really complain about my evening. Aside from getting some concert tickets, I purchased bus tickets to Chicago for $10.50, some self-adhesive mustaches for the yet-to-be-planned mustache party (couldn't pass them up for $1!), perused some used books, munched some tacos, laughed til my side hurt at Jon Stewart, geeked out at Stephen Colbert's Harry Potter reference, and soaked up the imensity of Radiohead on the The Colbert Report. All in all, a good night.
But, even as I sit here,  contented with my evening, my heart swells at the thought of my step-dad and his sister, as about now they are probably opening their eyes, giving sleep the hoof with one final yawn, zipping up their luggage, and heading out for day five of their 11 day European tour. I've said this multiple times in the last 5 days, but I am so excited for them. Jim and Charla work so hard here in the heartland. So hard, they very rarely get to escape it, even to other parts of the U.S. But in a moment of what I'm going to call "clarity," Charla looked around and said something like "Hey. I think there might be more to life. Jim, let's go see the world."
And they went.
And my heart, as mentioned above, swelled.
It swelled because they are doing what I love above anything in the world: traveling. It swelled because their eyes are going to be opened in the way that only travel can. (Mark Twain seems to agree with me.) It swelled because by them taking this trip, somehow I feel more connected to them. And I feel more connected to them because, no matter their thoughts on this trip, they are partaking in what I can only call my passion.
Google (or use one of those cool, old, bulky things known as a "dictionary") the word "passion" and you'll see a heavy relation to the word "suffer." Indeed, the very root of the word means "suffer."
Funny, suffering is not usually what comes to mind when I hear the word "passion."
I blame Hollywood.
But put a "The" in front of it, and you find a pretty intense image of passion as suffering.
Buddhists also link passion and suffering, though their method is to elimante passion (desires) so as to eliminate suffering. Probably why I'm not a Buddhist. Nice temples, though. But I get it. I get why one would wish to eliminate passions/desires. As we've seen in the etymology of the word, to have passion can ulitimately cause suffering. I've seen it. I've been apart of it. I've prayed and cryed and begged for longings to be taken away from me. Having unfulfilled passion hurts. A lot. It hurts so much it often feels like your heart is going to rip itself out of your ribcage, burst through your chest, and hurtle itself to the floor in a temper-tantrum-like protest.
(Reminder-"passion" doesn't only refer to "lusty desire for another person"..or even have to be about a person at all)
But on the flip side, passion, when fulfilled, brings life. The night I broke into the U2 concert. The few precious days I get to be at the ocean. The moment I clear security, strap on my backpack, and for the love that is all pure, holy, and good, get to travel. These moments when passion is fulfilled are the moments that  make my blood pulse in my veins so hard I can feel it. They cause my legs to do unintentional jumping and dancing motions. They make my words come out in a short, somewhat unitelligible manner. (More than they already do.) In short, I am alive, and it is things such as travel, music, writing, the ocean, nature, and yes, sometimes even my bookclub that bring me life.
But I've noticed...
SO many people are content to live a passionless existance. "What brings you life?" they are asked. And they shrug. They don't know. They haven't thought about it. And I'm blown away. I am disheartened and honestly quite sad for them. I mean, I guess if they're happy, fine, go along with what works for you. But I don't get it. I cannot fathom a passionless life. I can't do it. I refuse to do it.
So, if you haven't thought about what brings you life, what you are passionate about, what makes your heart hurt with longing without it and swells to the point of bursting with it, I urge you to think about it. And if you know what you're passionate about, share them here. Or at least with someone. And then, find a way to incorporate it into your life today. Because your life deserves more than a shrug.

Monday, September 26, 2011

Farmer's Market

Oh, the Farmer's Market. There's no better way to spend an autumn Saturday morning than sipping a fresh cup of coffee and perusing the tables chalk full of fruits, veggies, flowers, and bread. A plentiful harvest is truly something to be thankful for. (Now, if only there was a holiday to celebrate such things!)
My kitchen in need of some fresh veggies, I strolled through the market this Saturday last. I was rewarded with the warmth of the sun, greetings from friends, smells so delectable, and a backpack full of goods grown and made right here at home. I'm eager to turn them into something even more scrumptious.
Aside from the standard foods such as cucumbers, zucchinis, and squash (which I no doubt purchased), I decided the sweet potato pasta sounded too good to pass up. Especially when the hutterite patroness gave me a Korean recipe for which it should be used. Sweet potato noodles, some sweet bell peppers from the neighboring booth, steak, and some sesame oil all tossed together to form a world of deliciousness. I can't wait to make it.
Also, good European rye bread can be hard to come by, but fortunately there is a German man who sold me some. Rye bread, butter, havarti cheese, and some cucumbers and you've got yourself a tasty snack. Follow it up with a cup of coffee and let out a contented sigh.
Sure, I could head to the local supermarket and purchase these things. But the freshness is lacking, local farmers aren't supported, and the sun won't shine on my back as I'm sampling the finest heirloom tomatoes around. (FYI-they come from Gilkerson Gardens. Upon eating one, I literally said aloud, "Oh yeah, this is what a tomato is supposed to taste like." But you have to go to the Tuesday market to get those.)
Winter is just around the corner. The stalks and leaves with whither away and we'll be left to eat the much less tasty supermarket vegetables grown in some other country. According to my calculations, there are 5 Saturday morning farmer's markets left. I'd better stock up. And I should really learn how to can. Time to call my grandpa and take some lessons. And run away with his garden veggies. 

My Bounty

Friday, September 23, 2011

Way Back Home

This is amazing.

Sunday, September 4, 2011

The World That Lives Just On The News

I just now found this poem I wrote nearly 10 years ago to the day. I had just finished my internship in Seattle (my first foray into the big wide beautifully ugly world) and was taking a poetry class at the University of Nebraska. I only have one copy and I keep losing it, so the fact that I just found it right now excites me greatly. It is the original hard copy I turned in to the professor and has all his notes and commentary, which even today is flattering. The prof also told me to submit it for publication. I never did. Not really sure why.  I'm putting it here so that there is less pressure to not lose the only copy I have, though I need to make a conscious effort to keep this one because it's filled from top to bottom with the professor's comments. The poem is in the form of Sestina, which is comprised of 39 lines with the same words ending the lines in each stanza in varying order. It was my first work outside of high school poetry. I was 19 years old, with fresh eyes and a yearning to save the world.
Here's the poem:

Sadness each night on the five o'clock news
Another innocent victim lies cold
Death and destruction, sickness and pain
Why does the world scream? Anger loves fear
Fear loves anger, each feeds on each other in
a cycle of pain that, my God, I wish someday would

end. A beaten mother covers her bruises. She would
leave if the fear he would kill her would leave. New
bruises every morning. As she drives into
work, she tries to find an excuse. Her child, cold
and hungry, cries in the backseat. Life for them is fear.
As she looks out the window, more pain

is all that she sees. For the man on the corner, pain
is all he knows. A bench of wood
for a bed, his eyes are so vacant they show no fear
No emotion at all. A crumpled jacket that's far from new
is all he has for warmth...and a pillow. Cold
eats away at his frail bones as he stares into

nothing. As the woman drives further into
the city, she tries to block out the pain
while more heartache stands out in the cold.
The foreign man walking out on the sidewalk would
weep if there were any tears left to cry. His new
baby boy and his wife have passed on. His nation's fear

of change has killed them. Most are afraid,
so they hide their beliefs, so they are not forced into
exile...or death. The man has escaped to a new
Promised Land, but not without paying the price. His pain
will live on with each mother and child he would
see on the street, until his own body is cold.

Next to the man stands a woman who's cold.
For not many clothes she has on. Her greatest fear
is her health that is fading, as the disease would
soon take her life. Her time on the streets got her into
a mess, where there was only one way to survive. Pain
had to be ignored, as each new night brought in someone new.

This world lives on the news and it seems very cold
Yet we turn our backs on the pain and the fear
and pretend it's not the world we live in...or ever would.