"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

Thursday, August 30, 2007



i'm gone this weekend, leaving in a matter of minutes for a conference/ 75th anniversary celebration for Myles Horton's Highlander Folk School. i'll be taking workshops on community organizing in the mountains of Tennessee, re-reading Horton's autobiography, The Long Haul (one pivotal resource in my senior project), and trying not to get bitten up by mosquitoes like i did the last time i was in TN!

so while i enjoy the company of progressive educators and social change makers, pls enjoy the inspiring words of Myles Horton, and imagine you were there with me (oh, if only i could take all of you with me...)

"education is meant to help you do something for others" (3)
"When you work toward equality, you have to devise some kind of structure in which there can be justice, but in the meantime you have to do the best you can in an unjust society. Sometimes that means that the laws you go by are moral laws instead of book laws." (7)
"you learn what you do, and not what you talk about." (16)
"i wanted action to be the main thrust, instead of just talking about future action that you don't practice." (16)
"in order to act on my beliefs i had to accept the idea of civil disobedience. i knew that i might have to violate those laws that were unjust, and i made up my mind never to do something wrong just because it was legal." (16)
"the violence of poverty destroys families, twists minds, hurts in many ways beyond the pain of hunger. there is another kind of violence that supports the violence of poverty, and that is institutionally sanctioned violence." (27)
"i couldn't be an absolute pacifist, because i thought that there might be times when it would be a lesser violence to have a revolution." (38)
"you can't use force to put ideas in people's heads. education must be nonviolent. i can't conceive of another type of education." (41)

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

and it goes like this...

great conversation while driving home from WV with the fam:

my brother is talking about having nothing to do in Lexington with his friends.

me [in a mocking deep voice]: "you could pick up chicks"

my mother chimes in: "yeah! pick up chicks. that will keep them busy."

me: "keep who busy?"

Mom: "them. the boys. keep the boys busy."

me: "doing what exactly?"

Mom: "picking up chicks."

mm. a smile so wide you could fit a canoe inside.

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

an o.k. kind of knowingness

i'm pleased to be found on the top 10 list of returns for a web search of "miami university - not liking it" [done by a MU student on campus, or so says the traffic report]

it's like when someone came upon this sight [sic] while searching for "sophomore slump symptoms," or any of the odd searches that bring ppl to this place.


Sunday, August 26, 2007

we're back!

and ready for action!

so fire up yr engines!

p.s. read more about Miami University Students For Staff at our website.

Friday, August 24, 2007

with it being super hott [sic] in oxford right now (to stave off health risks, Miami has set up cooling stations all over campus with bottled water and mist-ers, so i feel like i'm at a music festival ALL THE TIME, it's great), i decided to wake up extra early this morning, while most were still sleeping off the last night's festivities, and watch the sun rise from the two giant windows in my room while eating creamy peach yogurt. the mornings are remarkably cooler and calm, and i can't sleep in my new room anyway (it's a nice room, and i've never had trouble sleeping in the dorms in the past, it's just lately i've been unable to stay asleep for very long).

i took a bike ride, and felt high, being super awake to sights and sounds others missed as i passed them by. i saw strange patterns in the clouds, like snake leather, felt the physics of my bike as i balanced a yoga mat on my back, saw a small, exquisite yellow and black bird take flight before me (anyone an ornithologist?), and pulled up to the Rec Center to see people leaving with sleeping bags from having spent the night (another Miami health initiative).

i spent the morning in yoga and pilates classes, contemplating my pelvic floor, it's true location, asking it "how are you?" and saying "good job" and offering it encouragement and support.

i'm going for a bike ride in the woods this weekend, and hopefully finding time to spend with friends and music.

what are u doing?

Thursday, August 23, 2007

what's broken can always be fixed, what's fixed will always be broken

as some of you will remember, i fell in love with the music of a Swede named Jens Lekman.

and as the summer winds down and blows away, taking my memories of it (the smells, the touch and feels) away, too, i find myself listening to his music again. it always seems to find me in these liminal months, when i'm back in the midst of woods in Oxford, Ohio, awaiting the approach of autumn in the corners of rooms by windows, wishing it would rain to match my mood.

i think this is why i love Jens and his music: it allows me to relax and stop trying to articulate pangs i get about delicate moments, and be satisfied in knowing someone understands, that someone put it to song, with handclaps and gentle harp, and extravagant whistling.

i'm realizing time is fleeting. i spend my days now worrying about classes and homework, graduate exams, finding jobs, rushing to the library to grab all the books relevant to my research before someone else can, waiting for weekends so i can trip over to the woods or to the farmers' market. busy busy, always planning ahead, but never seeing directly in front of me.

i read a beautiful reflection on the death of a friend, on how the smallest details are what you always linger on to remember someone. "glances, touches, purchases, short phone calls, preparing a snack, standing in a doorway, taking off or putting on shoes." same goes for memories of your own life, i guess. all you have are moments.

which is why i return to Jens Lekman every summer, and especially why i listen to him now. he knows what it's like to want, more than anything, to prolong this moment, and every moment thereafter, to long to stretch out the spaces between seconds and climb inside and build a home. "The desire to go back to another time, to swim for a while there, and to cast it in rosy light. The doomed, daft act of revisiting a lost place and gilding it gold." [source]


speaking of moments, i stayed up all night remembering the summer in lost journal entries. i remember i've yet to fulfill my promise of posting writing from my summer travel journals. is there any desire any more?

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

dangerous familiars

hi to all you patient and adoring darlings!

thanks for your patience these past few days. i've been busy traveling all over West Virginia and Kentucky, and have just recently returned to being settled and having all my things in one small room again.

that is, i'm back at Miami University for one final year. and as i'm shopping around for the most interesting and compelling classes to take, while i'm stressing out about my undergraduate thesis and studying for the GRE's and planning student actions for all my various activisms, i've also found, in the blissful off-time, a surprising nostalgia and reminiscence creeping over me.

even as i look around the campus, at the frightening droves of willowy blondes and preppy jock boys, their polished exteriors enough to make me insecure, and despite the inexplicable phenomenon of cornhole that seems to proliferate here, i can sense that i'm really going to miss this place next fall, when i will surely/hopefully be somewhere far, far away.

i know it's merely because i've gotten familiar with the place, have become accustomed to moving back to the same dorm for the past 4 years, am grateful to see the same familiar faces, to have such a strong community in which to wallow, enjoy coming back each year geared up and ready to fight for a cause i've been devoted to for over 5 semesters.


this familiarity has me kinda scared too. comfort is overrated, even dangerous. keeping on your toes becomes kinda like floating, when you get good at it. and who doesn't want to defy gravity?

i got to thinking about this in one of my classes today. i was sitting in a class full of Education majors, a class called "Cultural Studies, Power, and Education," a class filled with typical Miami-types, feeling a little on edge because everyone in there was so white bread [sic]. the professor had been trying all of class to ease us into a radical mindset (which i gratefully dived right into), while we examined ads from the 90's that proffered 40's gender politics to preschool aged consumers. i glanced around the room to see students rolling their eyes, grimacing at the mention of atheism and Marxism, the girl beside me scrawling the word SOCIALIST in big letters across the first blank page of her notebook, and underlining it.

i give the professor a lot of credit. to open with that kind of radical leap in student expectation is truly courageous. i'm counting on a smaller class next time around.

anyway, this moment turned into a huge realization for my research into the practice of critical pedagogy:
for me (and i consider myself fairly radical, surprise, surprise), this first class wasn't unusual or myth-busting at all. in fact, it was too easy to agree with the professor, too natural to nod along, to laugh at his leftist jokes, to feel grateful for and, yes, comfortable with a liberal bias in the classroom.
on the other hand, my peers were noticeably unnerved, even perturbed, by the professor and what they must have perceived to be Commie rantings. and so, they were reluctant to engage, hesitant to open their minds to the possibility that advertisers care less about the consumer than about selling products.

and then i realized, looking around, everyone in this class was wearing nice Polo Ralph Lauren polo shirts, J Crew khakis, their heads gelled and kempt, glistening examples of Miami's "squarely in the box" reputation. of course they couldn't open their minds to cultural studies and critical pedagogy! it made them uncomfortable!

when capitalism is working for you, when you're comfortable with it, you see no need, no reason, to challenge it. comfort and capitalism are closely related, in fact, they are co-conspirators. in a society used to instant gratification, it becomes hard to get people used to stepping out of their comfort zones. why would they ever have to, if they can find a KFC wherever they go? same goes for ideological comfort zones.

existential discomfort = the worst kind.


speaking of familiars, you should get familiar with the guys over at Said the Gramophone. they keep one of the most beautifully written music blogs out there. in fact, it's one of only 2 i actually read on a regular basis. this post was particularly striking and appropriate for the approaching end of summer. FUN TIMES FOREVER.

Friday, August 17, 2007

this is going in a gilded frame above my bed at school next year.

so that, when i wake up every day dreading having to write my 80-page undergraduate thesis, i can look at this and think to myself, "well, at least i don't have problems like these..."


mo' money, mo' problems...

...or, something...

got back from WV with the fam! lost my momentum while mountain-biking on a steep slope of loose rocks and plummeted to a surprising non-death. considering the odds, i'm in good shape, just a few scratches on my knee, bum, and arm.

got some great footage of the parents singing John Denver while driving thru the WV mountains. will post later when i can access the harddrive again! (it's packed and ready for Oxford!)

so many things to do before i move back! how will i ever find all the space and time in which to do it?!

while sorting thru the myriad loose papers and random mementoes i've accumulated in the past 14 or so months, i (re)found these weird decision maps.

i remember finding them for the first time while doing laundry/ working late one night in the dorm.

these are merely a few of the small packet i found - there are oh-so many more! could there be a series of them, awaiting discovery?

the possibility is just too delightful to contemplate right now.

Sunday, August 12, 2007

marathon (wo)man

as i mentioned yesterday, i ran a half marathon in my hometown of Lexington, KY, The Midsummer Night's Run.

my standards were pretty low, considering i haven't trained due to some persistent medical problems related to over-exertion (shin splints put me in physical therapy for 5 weeks this summer), and because i just returned from a grueling road-trip that left me exhausted, both from heat and probably malnutrition (i lost 8 pounds in 5 days!)

nevertheless, i finished. not in any sort of record-breaking time, but i did manage to stay in the upper half of the contestants. and i'll take that.

some glimpses of the moments before the race:

i am a runner...

... and he is my father's son.

this is what i'll look like when the gun goes off

timing chip - for keeping time
brother/sister combo


p.s. will be gone this next week with the fam in West Virginia, then packing to go back to school. drop a line and i'll say hey when i'm back in Oxford again!

Saturday, August 11, 2007


Ben playing music and trucks with Reina (6) and Kiran (3)


i hope the reader-ship hasn't threatened mutiny in the wake of my brief absence (get all the nautical references?? eh? eh? oh stop...)

i just returned from a 5-day road trip with my friend Ben across Kentucky, Tennessee, North Carolina, Virginia, and West VA. we spent our time visiting intentional communities along the way, working on farms, building houses, playing harmonica and guitar and drums and playing with kids, making cookies, meeting religious goat-milk enthusiasts and fending off their vigorous proselytizing, crossing rivers, surgical removal of sea ticks, going to the beach, flying kites, drinking chocolate beers, sleeping under stars and atop of cars in the forested mountains of VA/WV, and lots and lots of swerving driving and wavering navigational skills.

but, all told, it was a lot of fun, and a great way to see the country! i recommend it.

anyway, i'm tired from all the heat and the work, so i'm going to take a nap. i'm running a half marathon in an hour, i'll let you know how that goes!


Saturday, August 04, 2007

more thoughts on the 2008 Democratic campaign

in light of the provoking points my friend Brian brought up the other day, i'd like to append to my last post, in which i addressed what i think are important strategic concerns in regards to landing a Democrat in presidential office in 2008.*

You raise some good points Steph, but two things may make that moot.

1. Immigration is not going away and any gains made by the right are being negated by the Hispanic vote moving left.

2. Iraq is the key and will determine who is elected. The more American casualties and violence, the more likely a Democrat will be elected.

yes, you're right. Iraq is a key (tho i would argue, not "the" key), and it is certainly affecting the way they're campaigning. but Iraq aside (since the Dems will, in large part, present similar strategies for getting out of Iraq), the vote still boils down to a matter of "how much change can our country handle?"

now, for my generation, this is a momentous point in our lived history. most of us can probably barely remember a States without the ludicrous Bush regime. any change will seem huge to us. but to have our first minority president, that will be TREMENDOUS! (and i'm not saying unwelcome...) even for other generations, our first woman or Black president will be a huge turning point in our nation's history, and i'm not sure if that much change right now is something America is ready for.

again, i hope i'm wrong. but many analysts have been saying, like you, that Iraq is the key. and many, unfortunately, still have terrorism in the back of their minds. and in the word of one political analyst, are "looking for a president who can protect us."

i just hope that we don't go seeking that kind of protection in something "safe."


*let me remind you, readers, that i am in no way claiming any sort of authority on the subject of formal politics. as i have said before, i tend to stay out of it as much as possible, preferring grassroots community-organizing to the two-party system. heck, i'm not even a political science major (or minor!) so my opinion is merely that of an interested observer, and hopeful citizen of the United States.

Friday, August 03, 2007

elections 2008: how to get a Democrat in office

don't want this to happen again? then we better rethink our voting strategy...

i try to stay out of formal politics as much as i can, and stick more to the immediacy of local grassroots organizing and community-building (that, to me, is where true democracy lives and breeds).

however, as an activist and as someone who would like to see significant progress made in my lifetime, i concede that we (the people) need help from those in more obvious states of power - the policy-makers, office-holders, our leaders and representatives in Washington - before we can realize progress.

and unfortunately, because of the sheer extremes the current administration has brought us to (widespread hatred for America and Americans, an international image of callous cowboy bravado), many - including myself - have decided that the only way to right our course is to elect a Democrat into office in 2008.

indeed, many activists have been working hard in the past years to build grassroots campaigns for Democrat candidates. in Ohio, recent election of Governor Strickland over Blackwell was seen as a huge win for the left. all over the nation, we are seeking a balance to the current administration by plugging in Democrats in every office imaginable.

so obviously, a lot is resting on the spot for Democratic candidate for President in 2008. and though i would LOVE to see either Barack Obama or Hilary Clinton make the ballot, i also have my reservations.

unfortunately, democracy in America is far more theory than practice: it's not "a government for the people, by the people," so much as a spectacle for the people to gawk and laugh at. (an emphasis on the idea of "spectacle" - we are not participating so much as we are watching.)

let's not forget that even if election by popular vote was actually practiced in the States (by which case Gore would have won and we could have avoided this discussion altogether), there still remains a stubborn majority of conservatives (and worse - neo-liberals!) in our country. conservatives who, even when faced with the travesties of justice inflicted on our nation by the Bush administration in the past 8 years, will still, undoubtedly, be reluctant to cast their vote for a Democrat, let alone a Black man or a woman (it's sad, but probably true).

what i fear is that neither of the forerunners in the Democratic camp will actually get elected. if offered a choice between a standard Republican candidate (from the country club set of old-fashioned white traditional values) and a minority candidate with liberal values, i fear most voters (not even just the conservative ones), even when reminded of the horrible events and misdeeds of the current administration, will still vote for the Republican.

regrettably, i don't think a majority of our citizenry is ready for change. at least, not the kind that would accompany the huge shift in paradigm that having Hilary or Obama in office would signify.

i hope i'm wrong. i really do. but it seems that if we want a Democrat in office in 2008, the best way is to vote John Edwards (he's got a kind of Kennedy feel about him...)

or is Al Gore still in the running...?


Wednesday, August 01, 2007

to hold you over

until i can get around to planning, recording, editing and posting another podcast, maybe this will hold you over: my playlist (@ last.fm)

you can follow/listen along with me during the week, keep track of what bands are really finger-strumming my strings this week, if ya know what i mean...

also, i've learned that i would give my right arm for a date with Michael Cera (i mean, he's so dreeaaameeeeey... and frickin' hilarious!)

ok, maybe not my right arm. but definitely my left. ok, maybe not that either... but definitely a kidney (left or right. yeah. that's how serious i am.)

peas out,