"Fire is motion / Work is repetition / This is my document / We are all all we've done / We are all all we've done / We are all all we've done / We are all all defenses."

- Cap'N Jazz, "Oh Messy Life," Analphabetapolothology

Monday, December 31, 2007

you can still be happy about shrill, annoying things!

my new year's resolution is: NO DRAMA.

there's no room in my life for it. in other words, simplicity, serenity, finding happiness in everything, b/c there's no time for sadness any more. i'm 22 now, goddammit!, and i will not stand for any more of my time being spent on lamentation or regret.

i can't wait for 2007 to be over. it's been a year of drama, for sure, and there have been too many trifles and worries that distract me from what's real (this is real. not this.)

i intend to fill my next year with as much positive thinking and fun as possible, even endeavoring to make the most unpleasant of experiences into an opportunity for learning and self-discovery. i am, of course, speaking of senior project, a Frankenstein beast of a project that has gotten away from me, multiplying grievances like a water-logged gremlin.

despite the dedication of my primary oppressor to making the thesis-writing process absolute hell, i am committing myself to writing a clever thesis, and by god, i am going to finish it and graduate, with my dignity and integrity intact, thank you very much.

and what's more, there will be dancing! and hell, even some flesh-hungry hamsters if it comes to it!

video found at the Positive Energy Vibe Zone.

i'm pumped full of good vibes, and i intend to keep them!

to 2008! - a much better time than now.

Saturday, December 29, 2007

"i shall name one Marvin, and i will train him to go directly for the testicles!"

that piece of carrot is really the remainder of a disembodied finger...
but where's the body? HE ATE IT.

you ask. intrigued? that is a quote from a conversation with my dear friend Brandon (read on...)

you see, senior project does some horrible things to people. mostly, there's a feeling of disempowerment, overwhelming depression, occasional health problems and feelings of self-unworth. there are also, in extreme cases, feelings of surprising hatred and violence. as Brandon put it, senior project "makes me want to commit heinous acts!" (you're not alone, B. you're not alone...)

the salve for such tough times? flesh-hungry hamsters. that's right. rodents with the insatiable taste for mammal blood.

Brandon: [sr proj] makes me want to commit heinous acts. and that is all i have to say about that!
11:59 AM did u finally turn in sr proj?
Brandon: yeah, and bill apparently wrote back within three hours. i made the stupid mistake of just opening it and reading what he had to say
me: oh no
Brandon: which was basically 'get rid of your first 25 pages and then we'll talk'
me: how is it he read the whole thing in 3 hours?
12:00 PM
what's wrong with yr first 25 pages??
he can't just say that, wtf
Brandon: sooooo i dont even know
im going to try not to dwell on it though. i was quite pleased with my paper, actually. something i wasnt expecting
12:01 PM me: well that's good, as long as you like it
did he send back comments?
Brandon: yeah
i could actually hear him yelling them as he was typing them. they weren't just little fixes and whatever. they were things that you could easily tell were being yelled in all their glory
12:02 PM me: oh geez, that's how his comments to my first 30 were...
yep, he's a yeller...
12:03 PM he should be put down ... like Old Yeller
take him out back to the shed...
12:04 PM Brandon: there is one part where he actually sounds kind of dumb though...in my intro at the end when im talking about what's going to be in each chapter, i didn't really go into detail on the chapters i hadn't started yet, i just wrote sentences that were place holders like "in this chapter i'm going to talk about blah blah and blah' and he wrote this really nasty comment about how paragraphs can't be one sentence long as if i didnt already know that
we should feed him to a bear
12:06 PM me: i hate those stupid comments he makes
like, he really thinks we're children
12:07 PM that we haven't learned that paragraphs aren't one sentence long, or that we don't know how to use spell check (something he actually accused me of)
i mean, we're college students, give us a LITTLE credit
12:08 PM he inspires violent urges in me
12:09 PM Brandon: seriously. one of my favorites is there is something grammatically that i was doing wrong, and it happened like 3 or 4 times in my paper. the first time he just pointed it out and im like okay, i'll fix that but then for the other times it happens he gets like more and more violent with his responses, as if i heard him while he made his first comment and was too stupid to do anything about them at the time
me: HA
yeah, definitely seen that before
12:10 PM
i want to unleash flesh-hungry hamsters on him
12:11 PM Brandon: flesh hungry hamsters would be QUITE delightful!
me: maybe i'll do that instead of writing my paper then... it seems a more worthy use of time
12:12 PM
if i got some hamsters now, and gave them a taste for mammal blood, they'd be raring to go by the time school started again
Brandon: this is a good point you make

12:15 PM me:
12:16 PM i'll spend some time making harnesses for them too, so i can unleash them en masse
swarming, like a flesh-hungry twitching rodent blanket
doesn't that sound delightful??
Brandon: yes. a living blanket of flesh eating fuzz
12:17 PM with eyes only for Bill
me: wow, suddenly i'm much more excited about the school year beginning again
12:18 PM Brandon: ahhh!! and then bill has the audacity to end his email with 'good luck' ooooooh go fuck yourself bill
[15 minutes later...]
me: alas, back to the project...
enjoy boston
glad to see u made it safely
Brandon: thank you! and good luck with all the shit
me: it was a pleasure dreaming of flesh-hungry hamsters with you!
Brandon: inDEED!
i look forward to the day
me: mmhmm
12:26 PM i shall name one marvin, and i will train him to go directly for the testicles!
Brandon: yes please!!
me: oh, poor marvin...
Brandon: it's a worthy sacrifice
me: indeed
12:27 PM tho it may be too late, as i believe the seed of his loins has already been sewn
Brandon: really?
me: how, you ask? MAGIC
Brandon: thats not something i want to be picturing
me: i don't believe it's human, it can't be
it's at least half EVIL
Brandon: probbaly at least 3/4 evil
12:28 PM because bill just has that much to give

Friday, December 28, 2007

what's a girl to do?

thank you, dear readers who sent me kind and lovely birthday wishes. i was the happiest reluctant 22 year old on the planet! i really don't know how i came to deserve such wonderful ppl in my life. thank you.

it was a pleasant Xmas and birthday. i've been enjoying the time at home with my family, and they're a delightful lot. i don't recall laughing this hard or this frequently since i first discovered Arrested Development, of which there's been some time to revisit as well.

i've also been making some slight progress on my thesis, but at the cost of utter isolation and perhaps some bad personal health choices (no breakfast until i have one solid paragraph written, reduced appetite, poor posture due to my unconventional work habits, failing eyesight due to staring at a screen for 80-90% of the day, messing up my body temperature b/c i've moved a space heater into my room b/c i decided i like the sound of its whirring right next to my head, not using my vocal chords in a long time, not thinking about much else besides democracy and education and thus not being able to have normal conversations with other human beings... the list goes on but i'll spare you.)

the current progress report: a decent introductory page and half, which must now transition into a convincing discussion of democratic theory, why schools must carry the democratic promise, and basically outline the remainder of the thesis, setting the tone and approach. oy! it's gonna be a long haul to Jan 1, when my first 30 pages are due...

anyway, i don't mean to bore you with all that. my real reason for posting today is to share this terrifically spooky video, of one of my recent musical findings, Bat for Lashes:

i'm in love with the animal masks on bikes. delightful! some of my favorite bands, i'm realizing now, have animals in the name: Animal Collective (and Panda Bear), Wolf Parade, Band of Horses, Cat Power, Grizzly Bear, Caribou, Andrew Bird... or, at the very least, employ an animal energy and imagery.

fangs and claws,

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

birthday foto

this is me, 22 years old.

and still smiling, somehow.


Tuesday, December 25, 2007

are birthdays happy?

so, tomorrow, the 26th day of December, as is custom for this time of year, i will have my 22nd birthday.

yes, woo-hoo and all that...

but i am remorseful this year, more than any other year before (yes, even compared to yester-year) because this birthday, more than any other, signifies the end of my youth. i've dragged it on long enough, and i find that this year officially closes the door on that splendid carefree stage of youth, and launches me on the track toward adulthood, endless responsibility and trudgery.

looking back, i had it all wrong:
18 = i was "an adult" by legal definition, but lo! - still just a kid, but an empowered one at that - i could rock the vote, buy cigarettes and porn. i was riding out the end of high school, soaking up college like a dehydrated sponge... life was good. no, life was awesome!
19 = not really a "kid," but still a teenager. and living away from home for most of the year, i was far enough from home to still enjoy it when i came back. that is, i could be a kid, while still pretending to have my shit together the rest of the time.
20 = the end of the teenage years, in terms of numerology. a regretful time. but i got in enough wild debauchery just under the wire to make up for the lack of it in all the rest of my two decades of life.
21 = i earn the right to legally imbibe alcohol. the party seems to just be beginning! suddenly i can get into concert venues! the fun places to hang out and party double, no triple, in possibility! downtown Lexington is no longer a void! pass me a pint and turn up the music, all i wanna do is dance all night!...

you see, all those a priori assumptions and fears about my waning youth were unfounded. i put too much weight on the significance of numbers! and sure, this year could be no different, but here's a glimpse at what's in store for me as a 22nd year old:
-graduating from college, leaving my closest friends and the community i've become dearly attached to for a significant portion of my life for a world unknown (i consider 4 years of my 22 years - the first 5-8 years of which don't really count, i was hardly a real human being then - to be quite a significant amount of time, and they've certainly been the most formative)
-getting my first "real-world" job (that is: doing work for a wage that, livable or not, will have to sustain me and all my daily consumer habits), or possibly going to grad school
-living on my own, away from friends and family, and all the sturm und drang that comes with that
-moving to a new city, possibly having to buy a car, and etc. there's too much to think about

you see, i really am still a kid! i don't think i'm ready to be thrust into the world like this, and now turning 22... it just makes me wish i could slow down time for just a bit, just until i can catch back up to it.

i mean, i found clippings from the local newspaper about the Lord of the Rings movies in my room, remembered how much i loved going to see those movies in the theatres... and then i realized the newspapers were dated back to December 2002! that was 5 years ago! i was 16 then! i was in high school! i tried to remember what it felt like to be that young, to have so little in the way of worries, feeling absorbed by the immediacy of everything, having only to worry about getting into college and thinking that would be enough for now (for then...)

how strange it is to be turning 22. and to have nothing left after this but 23, 24, 25, etc. until i reach more decades, and then finally death.

are birthdays happy? maybe they should be... but i'll be spending mine writing my thesis.

meanwhile, i hope you enjoy these gifts [all links yousendit]

"are birthdays happy? or are they just a countdown to death? is there need to worry? there might not be much time left, i haven't lived my life yet!"

"there's only about 20 birthdays you should be allowed to celebrate. otherwise you are wasting cake and paper!"
"You are allowed 20 Birthdays" - Patton Oswalt

love and youth,
who was 21 when she wrote this

p.s. and all i want for my birthday? a decent enough ukulele, so i can play this song to my self, while wandering around in a nice pullover:

Sunday, December 23, 2007

fragments of existence

sorry for the dreary lack of posts lately. i've not been doing well, december 2007 is becoming my least favorite month, i think. thank the Egyptians it's almost over.

for lack of anything more interesting, here's a glimpse into my recent holy daze: since i've been home, i haven't done anything but eat, sleep, freak out about senior project, sleep, get sick*, or freak out. (well ok, i've played a lot of piano too, but that's kinda a foil to the freaking out...)

*funny story about my health: i went into the doctor's office last wednesday to, supposedly, wrap up my hepatitis immunizations. since i got one in the summer before i went to Mongolia, my dad said if i had another within a year, i would be immune for life. and with me already running the gamut of vaccinations (this makes my 5th shot this year! hep 1, HPV shots 1 and 2, flu, and now hep 2) i thought, 'what's another shot?'

well, apparently i was too trusting of my local health care professionals. i should have known something was wrong the moment they failed to find my immunizations record. i had to insist that i got a hepatitis shot over the summer before i went abroad. after that, they told me that i'm supposed to get the second shot in the series within a month of the first one (which, do the math, already sounds like a bad idea, if i got the first in MAY). but after phoning to the ppl in the hospital basement, the nurse finally said OK and decided to go ahead with it.

turns out, because of my apparently missing record, the shot they gave me on Wednesday was for hepatitis B, not A like i was supposed to get. which explains a lot. the hep A shots are just 2 shots within a year of each other. the hep B shots are a series of 3. furthermore, i've ALREADY gotten the series, i've been immune since i was a kid!

so, let's recap, shall we? i'm STILL not immunized for hep A. AND, i've gotten shot 2 in a series of 3, without having had shot 1 and without plans to get shot 3. and all this having ALREADY been covered for hep B anyway. now i'm showing signs of jaundice, a symptom of hepatitis B. let's hope those childhood shots can at least keep me from developing hepatitis in my later life after having it reintroduced into my bloodstream by a syringe-happy nurse. yay for happy endings!

oh, and a senior project update: Bill hated my "first" 30 pages, despite both Gracie and Nick loving it. he threatens to not graduate me and to not give me my degree, AGAIN (this is #3, if anyone is keeping count), and he's given me an incomplete in the class, dropping my GPA to the absolute lowest i've ever seen it in my life, a 2.27, which might cause my scholarships to be taken away, and now he's set a Jan 1 deadline for the "new" 30 pages, which i am frantically trying to start writing but feeling ever more depressed each day i try to write it.

if it's any indication as to the kind of duress i'm facing, my gmail chat statuses from the last 24 hours:

FUCK! when did i run out of time??!!!

when did my major become something i detested so much?

all i want for Christmas and my birthday is to be done with senior project and well on my way to graduating in May...

it's snowing in Lexington after 60 degree weather, and i FINALLY started on my project... this day is MAGIC.

pls someone just shoot me. or better yet, shoot [name of oppressor].

tiny fists of rage!!!

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

holiday surprises

in a chat with my dear friend Brandon:

(my status: "there's a lumberjack in my backyard...")
1:32 PM please tell me that you ACTUALLY have a lumberjack in your yard?!
me: i do indeed
he just mounted the tree
i'm quite confused
Brandon: oooooh my lord. i want to be there
1:33 PM me: i hope he's not ACTUALLY going to cut down that tree
Brandon: take pictures!! and videos!!!
me: oh dear lord, he just cut down a huge branch
and now he's draggin it away...
Brandon: this sounds intriguing
i'm so confused as to what kind of place you live in now haha
me: i wish i had a camera handy, it seems he's on the ground now and running
i'm really confused...
1:34 PM haha, me too!
this is the best moment ever caught on chat
Brandon: I think i would have to agree!!
i lumberjack running away with a tree branch!
my house is boring
1:35 PM me: haha
mine is too, 'cept for the occasional visitng lumberjack
how very strange indeed
1:36 PM Brandon: ode to having the occasional visiting lumberjack
that would surely make my heart sing

[15 minutes later]

me: hm.. it sounds as if sawing sounds are coming from the other side of hte house now...
what is going on???!!
is he taking limbs for firewood to sell at the store?
i don't understand...

1:48 PM gasp!! he's ringing the doorbell!
what do i do???
Brandon: maybe he needs to go to the emergency room!
or maybe he wants to seduce you
or give you your own lumber back
there are so many possibilities
1:49 PM you should open the door, take a picture, and then close it real fast
that would weird him out
1:50 PM me: haha! i have a picture!
i shall send it post haste
Brandon: did you answer the door?
me: no, it was the fedex guy
so much activity today...

happy holidays from the land of kentucky,

Wednesday, December 12, 2007



an update from the front lines of my senior project HELL (Bill litters my first 30 pages with hyperbolic vitriol, even though the dean of my college loved my use of personal voice, Bill believes there is "no room for introspection in an academic paper." pls, Bill. just b/c you don't have any inner feelings to explore doesn't mean i shouldn't be allowed to reflect on mine! anyway, check out my response, after this):


The good news is that your words flow smoothly and (when you're not caught up in leftwing jargon) your writing is engaging; also, you're clearly passionate about your topic, which draws readers in, and you connect your personal experience thoroughly to what few sources you use from the professional literature.
The bad news is, as my in-text comments indicate, that you start by skating along the boundary of an acceptable senior project (making heavy use of an extended personal statement in what should be a substantive chapter) for the first six pages, only to veer off into an anti-intellectual rant on page seven at which point you abandon (consistent with your rejection of formal education) connections to professional literature, adopt an uncompromising left-wing political stance by page nine, and descend on page ten into a no-holds-barred political diatribe. Much of the rest of the chapter is about Stephanie and what few sources you even acknowledge are exclusively from the student organizing political literature.
My impression is that you started out trying to be responsive both to the academic demands of the course and to your own political/educational commitments, but you got caught up in and carried away by the rhetoric, and decided to say "to hell with the demands of formal education." It's also evident to me that you've made no attempt to research any sources that might challenge your ideological convictions (or even your presumptions about facts), and you have no intention of writing for anyone other than those who already agree with you. Even-handedness and persuasion be damned!
You've got a choice to make. You are, of course, free to reject Western's academic standards and write a totally biased, ideologically based, reductionist, anti-intellectual, anti-interdisciplinary diatribe—in which case, to be consistent, you must also choose to avoid being tainted by a bachelor's degree. Or you can decide that, maybe your brief is not against all of formal education—after all, you worked hard to save Western, which offers a formal education—and perhaps you can gain insights that would be useful skills for activist organizing by learning how to engage in formal scholarship about social activism, write a project that meets the academic standards of the institution, complete the requirements for the degree, and graduate. We discussed this choice quite openly at the beginning of the semester, and I could have sworn you decided for the latter. Did you change your mind?
Normally I would return a draft this unacceptable and request a revision before our three-way meeting, but my hunch is that you might benefit from talking with us (again) before starting your revision. If, of course, you wish to revise. The choice is yours.



Dear Bill,

After spending most of the evening and morning reflecting on your recent comments, I can see where you are coming from, and understand that my writing failed to convey a persuasive argument
. I don't believe your vitriolic tone was justified, but your use of hyperbole was perhaps necessary to get me to understand my own distasteful use of exaggeration.

I admit that I erred, for once, on the side of punctuality, deciding to try to meet the deadline before I was ready to submit a thoroughly reasoned and researched paper. I compromised the content and quality of my paper, in addition to my reliability as a narrator.

I would like to point out that the senior project is a learning process, and I am certainly not opposed to learning from my mistakes. I am finding my voice along the way, and though it's not always the voice of reason, I would like you to respect my efforts in the process, and not be so quick to dismiss me. Furthermore, I believe education should be a collaborative process, and your consistently combative approach to my work does little to encourage my continued engagement. I hope you will take my feedback as seriously as I am taking yours, and reciprocate my efforts to change.

That said, I'd like to thank you for your comments. I look forward to our continued discussion tomorrow.

Stephanie Lee

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

elfed self


ho ho ho?

(i'd say yes, "ho ho ho" indeed. those are some naughty dance moves those robot elf selves are making...)

Sunday, December 09, 2007

it was the best Hanukkah ever!

i went to my friends Will and Laura's house to celebrate Hanukkah with their family. and, like Passover last year, it was a beautiful gathering. there was food, wine, and rejoicing.

and in the end, much spooning, wanton fondling of a mostly friendly nature, and MUSIC!! the Runyans busted out the guitars and djembes, and we let the party get carried away by a wave of a-rhythmic funk.

shabbat shalom!

Friday, December 07, 2007

keep on keeping on...

the media urges workers to cease their striking "for the sake of the children!" read on...

busy with finals and wrapping up business from the past semester and from the summer too. i just wanna make it thru the weekend, when most of my work will hopefully be done, and then enjoy hanging out without something hanging over my head.

so, for now, read (if you want) a paper i submitted in the past week on the state of labor relations in America today, and an indictment on Christmas.


The Villainization of the Worker and the Cultural Power of Christmas

When I first read the BBC’s article “Show goes on for Grinch musical” (November 22, 2007), I was reminded of the movie Love, Actually (2003). The film, in case you haven’t seen it, is an examination of eight London couples’ relationships during the holiday season. In it, improbable romances take bloom “because it’s Christmas” (offered to the audience as an excuse, or a rationalization – as if to aid in the suspension of disbelief). The final message isn’t so much that “Love conquers all,” but rather that there’s only one thing more powerful and irrational than Love: Christmas.
The recent halt to the stagehand strike on Broadway reminds me of this tendency in our movies – aptly depicted in Love, Actually – and in our culture to mythologize and bestow power to certain symbols. I mention Love, Actually because of the important link between spectacle, commodity and culture that it makes explicit: the film fetishizes love and the spirit of the holiday season, succeeding in having the audience and its characters surrender themselves to the power of Love and Christmas, depicted as a set of performances and exchanges of codified behaviors. The commodity and its spectacle are conflated: Love is Christmas and happy endings. In a society whose culture is largely mediated, cultural values are often articulated and reproduced in the form of spectacle: “The spectacle is not a collection of images; rather, it is a social relationship between people that is mediated by images.” And Christmas is Capitalism at its most spectacular: the pageantry, the parades, the commercials, the camped-out shoppers waiting as if for a new Star Wars film, whole city landscapes turned into Winter Wonderlands. Citizens turned into mall zombies, as in George A. Romero’s Dawn of the Dead (1978). These holidays are a holy daze.
This spectacularization becomes problematic because of its tendency to distract us from problems of lived existence. It is the tendency of the spectacle to replace reality with that of a hyperreality – “a world in which the spectacle defines, circumscribes, and becomes more real than reality itself.”
This is capitalism in action, enacted as spectacle, an illusion we uphold and defend at the expense of our fellow human beings. “The spectacle makes visible the world of the commodity dominating all that is lived.” This can be seen in the New York State Supreme Court judge’s injunction against the striking stagehands, demanding a resumption of their work “for the sake of this city.” The invisible force of labor in society suddenly made visible, it is imperative to the machine of Capitalism that labor protests be quelled as soon as possible, so that “life as usual” may resume. The article also mentions the popularity of Broadway among tourists, suggesting the need to end the stagehand strike in order to give them what they came for – an “authentic” NYC experience. The show must go on. Resume your positions. = The institution of Christmas exercising its domination by subjugating all other activities to its demands.
Within this dichotomy, the worker and his/her rebellion are situated in a position of delinquency, aberration, and worse – villainy. Anyone resisting or delaying the magic of Christmas is derogated – a “Grinch.” The story of “How the Grinch Stole Christmas” exemplifies this mythology, telling of a bitter curmudgeon who experiences a “change in heart” due to the overwhelming spirit of Christmas. By withholding the popular Christmas show, the striking workers are depicted in a negative light, as challenging the very sanctity of Christmas itself. One of the article’s captions explains, “the musical is very popular with children,” the implication being that the workers are victimizing an innocent public by disrupting the holiday proceedings. “Do it for the children,” we say. Do it “for the sake of the city!”
This is an appeal to Christmas spirit: it’s a long-standing myth in American culture that Christmas is “the most wonderful time of the year,” a time for philanthropy, for goodwill towards all, and for outstanding miracles. The stagehand strike went against the imagery of jubilation and goodwill associated with the holiday season, but Christmas soon conquered and quashed its opposition. “The spectacle is the moment when the commodity has attained the total occupation of social life.” The BBC’s article depicts the labor strike as a deviation from shared cultural values and reasserts the language of Christmas cultural mythology, calling the continuation of work a “miracle on 44th street.” The myth of Christmas spirit manifests itself in this particular instance to bedazzle us and quell opposition to a general capitalist mentality. We, the readers, become accomplices in suppressing the rebellion of the workers, we defend the spectacle at all costs, complaining about TV show reruns or a Broadway-less visit to NYC, rather than caring about the actual workers themselves or taking the time to understand the issues for which they are striking. The spectacle of Christmas becomes more real to us than the reality of labor disputes and workplace inequities.
This illustrates the power of the spectacle over our lived experiences, the entrancing nature of spectacle to deceive and distract. Submitting to the power of Christmas and its spectacle turns this moment of rebellion and critique into one of irreverence and then irrelevance.

Works Cited:
Society of the Spectacle by Guy Debord
Simulacra and Simulation by Jean Baudrillard

Sunday, December 02, 2007


as i was monitoring my site traffic this evening in between writing final papers and not going to the Cass McCombs concert as i had wished, i "stumbled upon" this:

um, right...

for those observant readers, you'd know that i have a personal endorsement from my hero Jens Lekman displayed proudly in the top right corner of my blog. well, it used to be labeled "a crisp endorsement from the CCAA booty patrol," a reference itself to an of Montreal song (and what does "the CCAA booty patrol" mean? i couldn't tell you, tho this question has sparked much heated debate...)

anyway, i find it disturbing that these kinds of things are being said about my blog, and my ass. tho i am glad to see one lewd person finds my blog "hip" and my ranting to be "very cute," i'm appalled by the demeaning urges that inspires in him. and i don't appreciate this being the standing reputation of my blog.

so, if you feel differently (and i hope most of you do!), please please PLEASE endorse my sight [sic] in a more pleasant way. something like "stephan!e's writing makes me feel like a kid again," or "this blog makes me feel safe in spite of all the wrathful disappointments incurred by modern life," or "if free rad!cal writings were a condiment, i'd eat it spread all over toast every morning with a cup o' tea." you know, something nice.

vote here: Stumble Upon ToolbarStumble It!

i'm so meta...

Friday, November 30, 2007

dropping the writ

photo from Cass McCombs's website. read on...

it's been a lo-oh-ong week! there is much to do in a very short expanse of time, i'm going to have to rip the fabric of space & time and find a hole to sleep in...

which is much too unfortunate, b/c i just learnt that Cass McCombs is coming to Louisville to play a concert with José González this saturday. as in, i'm gonna have to build a time machine real quick if i'm gonna find time to get away from my work to bask in the ecstasy of such sparkling live performances.

here's how the weekend could potentially "break down" (as in gimme the break down, what's the shake down? things are gonna break. as in brake. as in drop everything, stop the presses, this news is fit to print, fit to sprint, stop and go go gooooo!!):

there are two (2!) enticing concerts this weekend, back-to-back: Cass and José on Saturday in Louisville, then Peter Bjorn and John on Sunday in Cincinnati.

let's do the math, shall we? that's 2 tantalizing guitar talents + 4 delicious Swedes (José shares a hometown with my favorite Swede), in just 48 hours.

+ i have 30 pages of an undergraduate thesis, a final paper (5 pages), a Teach for America final interview, a 6 essay question final exam, a multi-genre research paper, and a final inquiry project proposal and presentation to be done by Wednesday of next week...

but with such chances at happiness before me, i'm tempted to just drop all the work and elope with my records...

so, while i debate my decision, download these tunes, and commiserate with me.

dropping the writ,

how can you not love Cass McCombs??! he must be one of the most un-deservingly under-the-radar musicians i know. and i'm totally digging - like hand me a shovel, i'll dig my way to China, where it's still yesterday - the album artwork:

listen: "That's That" (from his album Dropping the Writ)

and of course, José Gonzalez's cover of The Knife's "Heartbeats" is one of my faves.
listen: "Heartbeats" (from Veneer)

Monday, November 26, 2007

the present is a mystic trance...

it's 4:20 in the anti meridiem and i am still awake, typing furiously, obsessively, at my senior thesis. 

it seems i finally stumbled across a burst of inspiration, and despite my overwhelming sense of tire, i decided that if i went to sleep i'd waste this precious moment(um).

the problem now tho is i'm not sure how to actually begin the thesis. i have some strong points that need introduction, and i'm not sure how best to accomplish it. i want it to be urgent, but not too abrupt. i suppose i want to ease the reader into an energized discussion of the failings of our educational system and my scathing critique of capitalist society in large, but how...?

these things are delicate, first impressions make a big difference. and it really sets the pace and tone for the rest of my work...

but some of what i have written so far is somewhat exciting. such as:

America isn't at the polls; America is at the mall. A generation of pseudo-citizens, their brains doped up on reality TV, atrophied from instant access and instant gratification, tricked into thinking their children's happiness is a McDonald's Happy Meal and duped into believing democracy is texting a vote for their next American Idol. This isn't real life; this is reel life. 

and i find myself worrying about this crick in my neck that seems to be attendant with lack of sleep and long hours in front of my laptop in awkward sitting positions.

perhaps to bed?

Saturday, November 24, 2007

senior project nuggets

hi all -

making a tiny bit of progress on the lofty project. since i've found myself incapacitated by the lit review and unable to generate anything new or original of my own (figures... when u waste time regurgitating other ppl's thots u soon forget yr own...), i began compiling useful fragments from some sources i'm reading, as i try to rediscover my ability for original thought.

so here they are, some inspiring nuggets:

from Jane Addams's Twenty Years at Hull House

...I had been sharply and painfully reminded of "The Vision of Sudden Death" which had confronted De Quincey one summer's night as he was being driven through rural England on a high mail coach. Two absorbed lovers suddenly appear between the narrow, blossoming hedgerows in the direct path of the huge vehicle which is sure to crush them to their death. De Quincey tries to send them a warning shout, but finds himself unable to make a sound because his mind is hopelessly entangled in an endeavor to recall the exact lines from the Iliad which describe the great cry with which Achilles alarmed all Asia militant. Only after his memory responds is his will released from its momentary paralysis, and he rides on through the fragrant night with the horror of the escaped calamity thick upon him, but he also bears with him the consciousness that he had given himself over so many years to classic learning--that when suddenly called upon for a quick decision in the world of life and death, he had been able to act only through a literary suggestion.

This is what we were all doing, lumbering our minds with literature that only served to cloud the really vital situation spread before our eyes.


from Ivan Illich's Deschooling Society

...the right to learn is curtailed by the obligation to attend school.

The current search for new educational funnels must be reversed into the search for their institutional inverse: educational webs which heighten the opportunity for each one to transform each moment of his living into one of learning, sharing, and caring.


from Situationist International's "On The Poverty of Student Life"

Modern capitalism and its spectacle allot everyone a specific role in a general passivity. The student is no exception to the rule. He has a provisional part to play, a rehearsal for his final role as an element in market society as conservative as the rest. Being a student is a form of initiation. An initiation which echoes the rites of more primitive societies with bizarre precision. It goes on outside of history, cut off from social reality. The student leads a double life, poised between his present status and his future role. The two are absolutely separate, and the journey from one to the other is a mechanical event "in the future." Meanwhile, he basks in a schizophrenic consciousness, withdrawing into his initiation group to hide from that future. Protected from history, the present is a mystic trance.



Wednesday, November 21, 2007

something to be thankful for...


as the whole world (except for the descendants of the Native Americans, for whom Thanksgiving - is probably one big F*** YOU in the face of their heritage and culture) enjoys the break to be with their families and friends, i am freaking the hell out about all manner of things future and looming.

I AM LOSING MY MIND. if hair were the physical extension of the mind, it's coming out in handfuls. i swear i am hallucinating, i don't feel alive most of the time, and even occasionally believe i am dead. (surely being the living dead counts...?) i've been having out-of-body experiences while riding my bike, when i had several close calls with cars that would certainly have killed me if dumb luck didn't intervene. example: i am riding my bike to the rec for my usual workout. i stop in the driveway of the arts center and look both ways for cars. seeing nothing, i prepare to cross the street. for some reason, i decide to hesitate for the briefest of moments, just as a white car comes zooming out from behind a row of parked cars. i feel the wake of its passing, the wind sweeping across my face. i can imagine its impact, as i ride into its negative space, imagining myself rolling out in front of it just as it was gaining speed, my neck breaking upon impact, my body broken as it's airborne to land in a lifeless thud on the pavement. i imagine blood and spit coming out of my mouth and eyes even while i ride my bike up to the rec and park it.

another time in the last week, i was almost side-swiped by a car on my way home from class, and as it passed by me, i imagined leaving my body behind in the spot where the impact would have occurred, and i imagined my self, the one still riding the bike, to be a ghost, or my imagination, disembodied, floating on in spite of death. (for about half an hour i wondered if perhaps i really was dead, and my existence was the result of brain flickers, a parallel existence that suddenly came awake to fill the void left by my bodied life...)

i'm losing what little self-assurance i had to begin with: i came home for the break to find out i got horrible GRE scores. even the analytical writing section, which i had hoped would be fine, turned out to be less than mediocre. there's no way i'm getting into grad school like this... and what's worse, i actually think grad school may be a better fit for me than Teach for America. how can i teach kids in poverty-stricken communities when i've never even lived in the real world myself? i'm still just a kid myself. and i'm not qualified to teach anything...

and they won't want me anyway, not given my recent failures in life in general and school in particular. even though senior project seems to be under way, it's just one thing in a slew of other things that are oppressing my life and freedoms. what's worse, this confluence of things has me paralyzed with fear, stunned with the inertia of having to begin against such weight, such sheer volume of things...

all this fear, this utter paralysis, of course gets me no where. and worse, it has me doing stupid things, such as sending this utterly pathetic email to my professor:

(the IAP referenced above is a project i was supposed to have already completed by now, but which i have yet to start, b/c it seems completely irrelevant and worse, time-consuming!)

all i want is to bind books and write things that make me (and others) happy. instead i feel half-alive but mostly dead...

blah blah blah enjoy your thanks giving

Monday, November 19, 2007

200th post + updates


i'd like to commemorate my 200th post by first apologizing to you loyal readers whose interest in my life and happenings amuses me so much. thanks for caring, yo.

and now, sadly, back to the egocentricity: a lot has happened lately...
-i thought i was going to drop out of school when my lit review still wasn't done last Tuesday and my seminar instructor told me i was not going to graduate if it wasn't done by the Monday preceding (that was a dark time in my life that i'd rather not commit to the ethernet, if that's ok with you...)
-i finally got it done on Wednesday night, only to have my computer crash in the moments before i could email it to my instructor ... this resulted in some profanity better left censored, if that's ok with you...
-i recovered the document, minus some minor spelling changes, and submitted it no less than 3 weeks late.
-in the end, the 4 weeks of frantic reading, regurgitation, and misguided typing, the overwhelming feelings of existential confusion, utter exhaustion and raw frustration, the hours of endless shaking and eye-twitching, hallucinations and hopeless tears finally amounted to a 15 page document that signifies the worst experience of my undergraduate career. i was so excited to finally have it done, i think i sat and stared at my computer screen for another half hour, not knowing whether to cry from relief or to go to sleep for the sake of my sanity.
-on track to graduate again. the lit review = A.
-interviewed for Teach for America.
-heard back, was invited to a full day interview... (which i am preparing for now and am v. v. nervous and stressed... again!)
-rode in a small bike protest which i'm hoping grows into a Mass.
-organized an SFS training retreat. the feedback was positive. it seems i'm pretty dece at organizing...
-got a call today from Campus Progress. they want me to organize an alternative spring break on labor organizing and living wage activism. 'tsa good thing i'm pretty dece at organizing...
-got a lovely book from Brian over at hummingbunny in the mail today! thanks for the gift, friend. it's always nice getting labors of love from friends in the mail.

speaking of which...

i'm on my way to getting some book-binding materials as part of my senior project! i'm terribly excited, i can't stand myself! i finally tracked down the book-binding guru in the english department and now have a list of materials that will make this dream of binding my senior thesis a reality.

the idea i'm currently playing with: printing my thesis on the pages of these blue books

then, binding the individual books together, each one a "signature", and possibly using an exposed binding as seen here in the work of Slack Buddha Press:

i plan on making at least 2 individual books en masse for my project:
1) the thesis itself, an artist's statement of sorts, the theory informing my praxis; and
2) a volume of essays and creative works done by students in my class, which we will assemble and bind as a class under the collective name FREE RAD!CALS - this being a manifestation of praxis, an actualization of everything i believe - bound and sewn with the careful precision of my own hands...!!

i've been keeping a list of friends and mentors - people who have helped me and who have inspired me throughout the process of writing and creating this project - to gift copies of my thesis to in the spring. if you're reading this now, i probably have your name down somewhere, but i need yr address.

things are EXPLODING!

Sunday, November 11, 2007

tonight, tonight, we'll crucify the insincere, tonight.

before i went to bed tonight, i awoke to a memory of Jens saying this at his concert in Chicago:

last night i went to bed in a bad mood. the show in Cleveland had some technical difficulties, and i got a little upset, and i went to hide in the bathroom, and some hipster kid came and said some horrible things to me.

but today, i woke up with Billy Corgan's voice in my head and he was telling me 'tonight, tonight... we'll crucify the insincere, tonight.'

and we'll start the crucifixion with "The Opposite of Hallelujah."

i liked that quote a lot. i am struggling to get through some technical difficulties of my own that have me somewhat upset. the man in charge of my senior seminar told me last week that "i'm flirting with disaster," that i "should decide if [i'm] going through with this" and that if i don't turn in my lit review (a task i've found pointless, tortuous, and disempowering) by Monday (TOMORROW!) i am not going to graduate in May.

well, sir, let's begin the crucifixion...

Tonight, Tonight by Smashing Pumpkins [yousendit]
The Opposite of Hallelujah by Jens Lekman [right click save as (from Secretly Canadian)]

Saturday, November 10, 2007

Jens Lekman concert videos

from my dreamy trip to chicago. oh how i wish i could travel back in time, to this night, rather than live the sad present (i was told i wasn't going to graduate...)

sipping on the sweet nectar of my memories,

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

strange times in my life

i don't have time to write a review of the show in chicago that would give Jens full justice, as i was told today for the second time this semester i may not graduate. so, as i try to focus on lit review, lit review, lit review, please read this review i found, which is more or less an accurate recounting of the glorious night that was the Jens Lekman concert in Logan Square Chicago. [the only major point i must contest: the "Pocketful of Money" encore was one of my favorite moments of the whole night. it's one of the first songs i ever heard of Jens' and i remember going "whoa. this is good. what is this?" it sent chills down my spine to hear it performed live!]

video and more fotos soon, i hope!


Oh, Jens. Only you could pull me out of my enclave on a cold, cold night after I’ve spent the entire day on an airplane. And you can scold me for doubting how your intimacy would translate to a venue the shape of a high school gymnasium. You pulled it off and, dare I say, it was the most glorious show I’ve ever seen you do.

I was to the left side of the stage when a burly bouncer told us all to back up as the band were coming through. And they did so in a perfect line of heavenly white and smiles. My excitement woke me up.

Taking the stage in matching white patent lace-up shoes, various white smock tops and dresses and button down shirts, and appliquéd birds, it was Jens and the girls (ok, and Viktor Sjöberg fiddling on a laptop occasionally over there in the corner) here to slay us all. Even though I miss those cozy shows with Jens and two or three others singing softly to us, with the addition of strings and brass, his songs are given the glorious treatment they deserve live.

He played many songs off the new “album” (I hesitate to call it an album as his full-lengths are always compilations of songs, and with “…Kortedala” I had heard a number of the songs in different incarnations previously). “The Opposite of Hallelujah” sounded magnificent. His rambling intro to “Nina, I Can be Your Boyfriend” made everyone collapse in giggles. The way “It Was a Strange Time in My Life” bled into “ PlayBlack Cab” caused us all to jump in glee. He didn’t kill the party this time, oh no.

There was a funny moment after the second or third song where Jens told us about the bad ending he’d had to the night before in Cleveland. Apparently some hipster dude had hurt his feelings with misplaced words! Poor Jens had a fitful night’s sleep, but woke up with the sound of Billy Corgan’s voice in his head, “We’ll crucify the insincere tonight…” And with that, Jens didslay the insincere with his songs this night.

In addition to a crisp, uniformed front, the band treated us to a few choreographed moves. It was early in the set that a soul breakdown came on through the laptop in the middle of a song, and Jens and the band beckoned at the audience in a come hither fashion. Ooh. Then during “Sipping on the sweet nectar", the music stopped, a programmed beat came in, and the entire band put their instruments down to flail about onstage as if they were airplanes. How wonderfully appropriate! How I wanted to join them!

PlayThe Cold Swedish Winter” made the sold out crowd go utterly quiet. I struggled to keep my eyes from spilling over. Who doesn’t want someone to hold through the cold winter nights? And in “ PlayMaple Leaves,” you’ve got to wonder just who is denying Jens.

I think the band played two encores. It finally came down to just Jens and his guitar (reminiscent of the edge-of-the-stage serenades of yore by him and his ukulele). The last song he played was “ PlayPocketful of Money;” certainly not one of my favorite songs. But the audience sang the deep voice sampled on the song’s record, and it became a call-and-response between us and him, going on and on. When it finished, Jens told us that he’d said to Washington, DC that their rendition was the best, but he confirmed that we had now ousted them!

Viktor took to his laptop after Jens left, and a few people stayed around to dance and see what our darling Swede was up to. He graciously signed loads of posters and took even more pictures, newly bedecked in a grey suit and black scarf. Apparently he even capped off the night with some more strumming and singing at somebody’s house which, of course, I am sorry to have missed, but I am grateful for every experience I have with Mr. Lekman.

Saturday, November 03, 2007

jag älskar dig, Jens Lekman

(i love you, Jens Lekman.)

so the show was aMAZing, of course, and Jens was delightful and charming, as i knew he would be. i have tons of videos to share and pictures galore to blow up and plaster walls with, just let me know if you have blank canvases.

oh, and afterward i met him and we talked and he signed a poster for me and asked me how i spell my name and then he said "Stephanie" in a delightful Swedish accent, and i thought i was gonna die or tell him over and over again how much i love him, but instead only managed to say "your set was wonderful" and then i practically floated all the way home on the train, and i wasn't even mugged walking back in the dark!

if dreams were delicious food, i'm in a food coma right now.

Monday, October 29, 2007

this is the dream of Stephanie Lee

dear gentle readers,

it's been a mission of mine - one not so much chosen as thrust upon me by the coincidences of the universe and time - to see Jens Lekman perform, ever since i missed his Pitchfork performance to accompany my friend Dylan as he slowly ate his breakfast at the pancakes house - i ran 3 blocks to the festival from the train stop only to catch the last half of Black Cab - a moment that still makes my heart quiver with sadness and regret.

then i discovered his blog last summer and felt like i'd found a long-lost friend. you know how kids feel misunderstood, they just want someone to talk to, to not feel judged, to feel less alone? that's how i felt when i discovered Jens' music. our lives were coinciding and he was providing a soundtrack - i was unhappy with school and life which had become routine, Jens was sad in his neighborhood and thinking about moving out. i found a ditty kind of delight in his writing, felt less alone for it, and wanted to feel that way all the time. for a whole month maybe, the only thing i wanted to hear in the morning was Jens singing about Jehovah's witnesses and casanova sweaters. it put me in a swing-song kind of mood. it made Sweden seem like the happiest place on earth, if Jens was there.

so here we are now. a year and a half since that moment i ran gasping over the Union Park lawn to realize i was madly in love with the sound of Jens Lekman and his boppy pop band. and now, in a matter of mere days, i will be living in a dream: i was so close to having to give up, when i couldn't find a friend to drive with me to chicago for the weekend, and all the trains and buses from Cincinnati to Chicago were leaving either too early or too late, and very expensive. i was ready to book a 3 am train out of indiana on wednesday to make it to chicago. and then i had no where to stay! the hostels were booked, completely full, and none of my contacts in chicago got back to me. even then, i considered sleeping in parks and on benches, in dark alleys, sleeping in all my clothes and using my backpack as a pillow. the way i saw it, Jens is coming all the way from Sweden to play his songs, i just need to make it to chicago. i had to find a way.

i've had a series of happy coincidences fall upon me: i met with my thesis advisor on Monday morning and told him how i was stressed trying to get work done before i try to catch a 3 am train to chicago. and then he said he was also going to chicago with his wife that weekend and could give me a ride! wow, that's fantastic! i can go up on Thursday and come back with them on Sunday! wow and gee, a weekend in chicago!! this is amazing.

then, i go to try to find a place to stay. i check all the hostels - all full. i'm freaking out, where to go? i email the Western Alum listserv and a friend i know is working at the school of the art institute, and soon enough, i have 3 potential places to stay - with my friend Dave in the loop (that's prolly where i'll end up), my friend Eric who works for some law firm and treated me to heirloom beets when we first met 2 summers ago when i was working at the Field Museum, and then my friend Jason who teaches in Chicago and lives practically across the street from the venue where i'm seeing Jens (where i'll prolly crash on Friday night rather than try to take a train or bus back to the loop from Logan Square - that's how i got stranded in a really bad part of town at 3 am one night 2 summers ago and had to wait at the side of the street for the buses to start running again at 5 - not fun!)

i've been getting calls out of the blue from ppl in chicago looking for indymedia. it's been 2 years since i worked there and suddenly i get 2 calls from people in the last 3 days asking for help on audio podcasts. weird!

there's changes being made to the CTA this weekend, i'll be there right before they put the new fares into effect.

and the weather in chicago is looking beautiful this weekend.

and, i just discovered that both Broken Social Scene AND Sunset Rubdown are playing in chicago this weekend! what are the odds??!

the universe wants me to go to chicago this weekend.