"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, 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.

Saturday, October 27, 2007

"trundling" along

i went to the grocery with my friends Brandon and Will today and we spent some time perusing the ridiculous selections in the trashy romance section before we purchased some canned goods to donate to the Oxford Family Resource Center. i think my favorite title was "Déjà You" and my favorite use of a verb was "trundled," as in "she trundled over to the car where Danny waited..." - which is not an incorrect usage, but all i could think of at the time was "trundle? as in trundle bed...?"


image credit: Neko Case

i feel like my mind has been begging me for a break all week. it busted its hump to get me thru the GREs, and now that i'm back with one less thing to worry about, it's all "you want me to do what?!", giving me attitude, doing what my bro calls "back-sass."

we've had a difficult understanding. i agree to give my mind some rest, some well-deserved TLC after a week of hard work and productivity. my mind in turn gives me some great stuff when i need it: being inventive and creative when i least expect it, discovering nuances in mundane things, rising to the occasion in the high-pressure moments before a paper is due, remembering to think of others and also looking out for me. but lately, i've been asking a little too much from it, and my mind is beginning to rebel against me.

in high school, i knew how to love my mind better. i'd let it rest every night, which it loves to do. i'd let it have fun, we'd watch movies, i'd treat it to a good book now and then, and we'd do a morning crossword or some Calculus problems, just to keep each other on our toes, so to speak. things were slow and steady, and we were communicating and checking up on each other. we were happy.

but lately, there's so little time in the day. i find i'm constantly cutting corners in order to make time, overlapping things to make sure everything gets done. my mind hates me for this. it likes to take its time, to be careful and precise, to be perfect and exacting. it doesn't like me when i expect so much out of it but don't give anything back in return. i promised we'd watch some Arrested Development together and look for dominant, oppositional and negotiated codes together, for fun, but i never followed through because a certain project was taking too much of my time and energy.

my mind went on strike this week. it's feeling overworked and underappreciated. it has a right to. i've been pushing it, asking it to stay up late and wake up early, to focus on a million things at once (my laptop has over 20 documents open on it, my browser has 14 tabs open in each window, there are books opened to various pages spread on top of one another all over my desk and bed), and it hasn't had a vacation since August. it's reminding me that the last time it watched a really good film was ... it can't remember. and i can't either.

it especially doesn't like my false promises. i tease it with the possibility of some amazing music (i got the new Radiohead this week, along with Dirty Projectors and Phosphorescent), only to force earplugs upon it. i tried to take it for a bike ride today, only to have our time interrupted by some Students for Staff questions, and soon enough i found myself asking it to think about things again, even while i was enjoying the wind in my hair, the sun on my face. it wasn't fair.

so tonight, it's telling me stop it stop it jesus fuck STOP IT.

it wants me to start appreciating it, before it leaves me for real.

so today, i finally learned to listen.

i'm putting in a movie. and we're listening to some trip hop when this is all done.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

i'm hungry for the nice sound, HOKAY??!!

this is the most genius piece of crazy i have ever seen:

(Ola Podrida's video for "Lost and Found")

absurdly delightful.

p.s. as if i couldn't find enuf reasons to love him, i find another: David Wingo composes scores for David Gordon Green films. oh, love, love, love.
p.p.s. check out Dancing Ivan's website and welcome yourself to the wonderful world of Bulgarian dance!

Saturday, October 20, 2007

i don't understand life sometimes...

i come home yesterday to check my email. i see an unread message titled "On Joey." i open it up and this is what i find:

From: William J. Gracie, Jr.
Dean, School of Interdisciplinary
Studies/Western College Program
To: The Western Community

I deeply regret having to write with very sad news:
Joey Eger, a junior Western major, was struck and killed by a train in Oxford early this morning. Joey¹s death was confirmed in mid-afternoon today...

that's where i stop. what day is it? what time? how long have i been away? what steps did i take? what was the last conversation i had, the last glance exchanged, the last thought, the last sensation on my face? when was the last time? when? where? what? why? why? always, still, continually: why?...

i watch as a plug is pulled, memories suddenly - rapidly - draining away. and a ghost is formed...

death confuses me. but life is no more certain. it doesn't seem fair to have such trivial thoughts when there is so much pointless loss occurring around us. be it accidents, or pointless wars, or suicides or illness, i don't understand...

it seems such a delicate thing. so much precious energy moving in such fragile bones and gentle flesh. suddenly limp, disappeared, evaporated.

where do we go?

to the sparkle-eyed boy who lived above me, who i'll never forget meeting because his room emitted a bright blue glow, because he was blasting Backstreet Boys' "As Long as You Love Me" on his stereo system the first time we met, and because he had one of the kindest hearts around. let us remember Joey Eger, and his life. and let us not cry or be sad, but laugh and celebrate the energy and good humor he once graced us with.
unfortunately (or fortunately) this is my only picture of Joey. that's him on the left, making a face that never fails to make me laugh out loud. that's Joey for you, always putting a smile on your face.

rest in peace, friend.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Lacanian Others: on love and the movies

"there are three absolutes: Life. Death. and Love."
- Dr. C.P. Gause
"i'm a thief, and a liar."
"it's OK. i like you anyway."


it's hard to say what makes you love someone. i'm beginning to suspect love is something we created in the movies. every date out on the town getting dinner and drinks is reenacting something they saw on the screen. every move is a reflection of something they've seen. this isn't reel life, this is reality.

are we doomed to search for these projected loves, extant in only the collective imagination of our generation? will we lose forever in these battles because we haven't learned that the enemy is our selves?

we are searching for ideas, images, tautological feelings we've been conditioned to want, by advertisements and soaring movie soundtracks. we're trying to live the dream, to live what we see, to feel, to be. we internalize these ideas, then become frustrated when our "Others" don't project the images we'd had in mind. is that love?

the psychoanalyst Jacques Lacan said that love is the thing we don't have that we are trying to give to someone who doesn't exist. in other words, a null set between the self and a nonexistent other... so sad, but canonical post-freudian psychology!

[mp3's, yousendit]
The Idea of You - The Neo-Futurists.
Our Life Is Not a Movie, Or Maybe - Okkervil River.


Tuesday, October 16, 2007

catching up

dear friends,

all the studying over the weekend must have worn me out. i went in to take a practice GRE, yesterday, and started falling asleep. i really struggled getting through it, and it wasn't even a real practice (there were no essays, but 2 verbal and 2 math). nevertheless, looking at my results now, i did better when i started falling asleep. so, maybe that's reassuring? i got a 1300 overall. *shrug*

i came home to plant a tree, join some friends for a cook out, got sick from the smell of burning processed meat, then went on a breezy bike ride with Young William and my friend Kathee. i forgot to tell you, i've been learning to ride without hands, and it's one of the most gratifying experiences of recent memory. learning new physical limits, that's something that doesn't come around a lot, you know? i feel like a kid again, wanting to scream, "look Ma, no hands!" can i show you some time? mayhaps i'll join a circus...

we came back and did gymnastics in the hallway. Dustin and Wendell visited. then we sang songs and rewrote some CCR for better wages. i munched on crackers until i fell asleep at 12... maybe 1? and i just woke up (10:45??!! ack!!), just in time to write and remember i have a meeting with my professor.

always catching up...

my rendition of CCR here. [mp3 - yousendit]
the quality is shit: the acoustics in my room are poor, the mic on my laptop is not a good listener, my voice is weak, and the guitar is thumpy. but the intention is there...

Monday, October 15, 2007

the heart stops beating

i'm thinking my irregular heartbeats are a physiological manifestation of heartbreak. i exercised today, my heart is not getting any stronger.

"Every time you stop loving someone, your heart loses some of its blush. It vanishes. It's cancelled. & you wonder which of your feelings you'll no longer have the capacity to feel again. How much less am I, today, than I was yesterday?" - from here.


i think i'm going to build (or dig, rather) a spooning hole. yeah, that way when i say "i just wanna crawl in a hole..." i can actually follow thru. "say what you mean," you know? think of it as a watering hole, but for spooning. people need a daily dosage of spooning to stay healthy, i think. and this is the perfect way to ensure your daily quotient.

i'm imagining a large pod-like structure. doesn't have to be underground... something lined with soft, nice, gentle things. maybe childhood security blankets. worn out sweatshirts. soft alpaca mittens. purring cats and sleeping bear cubs. and lots of friends and cups of hot tea.

i wish i could crawl into a hole right now.

Friday, October 12, 2007

friday night lights

SFS infiltrated the Miami University homecoming parade this Friday, with a beautiful show of solidarity (& it looked like Christmas!!!). we handed out AFSCME balloons and candy, and supplemented these with an informational flyer on our living wage campaign.

the float was a collaborative effort, with students and staff getting together 2 weekends in a row to plan, paint, assemble and build a replica football field, complete with a Sargent Pepper-ed audience of SFS members past and present.

we whooped and hollered, whistled and honked, whirred a siren and clanged a bell, while chanting to announce our arrival:
"everywhere we go-oh, (everywhere we go-oh - it's repeated)
people wanna kno-ow,
whooo we aaaare,
so we tell em:
working for JUSTICE!
justice for workers!"

it was a lot of fun, and a great way to get the word out on a living wage.

SFS is working on a lot of these this year, finding creative and dramatic ways of inserting ourselves into the school's wider culture. as our activism has been interpreted as counter-cultural in the past, it's fun to play with expectations this year and appeal to a wider audience thru creative means.


Tuesday, October 09, 2007

on hi-at-us


so, there's a lot going on! oh-so-much is going on! i can't believe i'm still a student sometimes, it's like i'm juggling 2 jobs and 5 obligations, and it just becomes too much to remember to do homework too!

well, there's SFS, which is taking loads of time, what with the living wage committee and research, funding meetings and negotiations, our weekly meetings, planning organizing retreats, applying for grants, and then having to build a homecoming float??!!

and then there's Campus Progress, for which i need to start becoming more available to help regional rep's with their projects, need to organize some projects of my own, and then there's 2 films or documentaries waiting for me to pick them up at the package center (and later screen!), that have been sitting there for weeks because they just keep coming and i don't have the time nor means to pick all of them up any more!! (there are 4 total boxes and packages for me. that's too many to carry on a bike or in my arms...)

oh, and then there's senior project, which fills me with self-loathing because i can't understand the intricate ways in which all these steps are supposed to help me write the paper i basically already wrote. wha??

and then i have to apply for Teach For America, before they won't accept me any more, and i haven't even begun thinking about my personal statement!

there's also my obligations to Talawanda High School every week as a volunteer in their Extra Time Extra Help program. soon the weather will be colder, making my bike rides to the school a little less pleasant. (but thank goodness for Autumn!)

and then, i'm teaching a class next semester! which requires a lot of planning and paperwork and all sorts of bureaucratic gymnastics, as i'm trying to draw a diverse group of students with institutional incentives and perks. and the fact that i'm teaching a 300-level undergraduate seminar makes me feel less and less like an undergrad each day. and as i'm spending so little time in a classroom these days, i am forgetting that, oh yeah, i am still a student, and i still have to graduate and figure out a future for myself.

which brings me to the fact that i'm taking the mother-effing GREs in less than 2 weeks and i have yet to understand what i'm getting myself into!

am i forgetting anything? i've been working early mornings at the radio station during the NPR fundraising drive, which is exciting and fun and a love fest, obviously, but also has me kinda exhausted.

put all these things in a blender, what do you get? one really frazzled undergrad who's had weird heart palpitations every five minutes for the last 1.5 days. at first i thought it was a happy thing, kinda like butterflies in the stomach, but like skipping in the heart. but then i realized that maybe it was a not-so-happy thing and maybe i should take 'er a little easy...

but as my friend Jens Lekman once wisely advised me [in an email about love and relationships more than heart tremors of the life-threatening or stress-induced kind]:

"if your heart is small and fragile then you need to start exercising. pump it up !"


Sunday, October 07, 2007

the final draft

here is the finalized course description for WCP 333, "Education for Social Change", or, as i will explicitly call it now: The Activist Subversion of the Miami Plan.


Do you dream of changing the world? Do you want to meet other people who do? Do you want to get course credit (and have fun!) while pursuing your dreams?

As you prepare to register for Spring semester classes (priority registration begins Oct. 11 at 7 am!), I hope you will consider taking the student-initiated Interdisciplinary Advanced Seminar: "Education for Social Change" (WCP 333).

I am working with Dr. Nick Longo, of the American Studies/ Educational Leadership departments and director of the Wilks Leadership Institute, to develop an exciting new class that will challenge the conventions and expectations of the traditional classroom, as we examine democratic and popular education, their histories, theories, philosophies, practices, and applications. We will look at the role of education in society, examine and reflect on our own educational experiences (through multi-genre and multi-media creative projects), and use this as an entry point to engaging in social change.

I started this class out of my own passion for activism and desire to "change the world," and because I believe that significant social progress can take place in our lifetime, if we are empowered and encouraged to create it. I believe education provides this hope, and I believe the critical-democratic practices of popular education in particular will free students to pursue their dreams. Students in this class will thus "learn by doing," practicing democratic education in the study of it.

If you are interested, or have questions, feel free to contact me.

Hope to see you in the Spring!
-Stephanie Lee
WCP 2008

Saturday, October 06, 2007

Students for Staff Fair Labor Action Band

as a result of the weekend i spent at Highlander earlier this year, SFS has taken a decidedly more innovative approach to our actions this year. namely, we've created a Living Wage band that has met a few times, adapting popular songs with living wage-related lyrics.

my friend Will and i got together tonight and recorded really rough demos of 2 of our living wage songs, to the tunes of "Heart of Gold" (1) and the classic by Pete Seeger, "We Shall Overcome" (2)

i've uploaded them to the internets, if you'd like to download and laugh along:
1 - "Living Wage"
2 - "In Solidarity"
[both files are yousendit, click on link and download from there]

the "in solidarity" one is particularly ridiculous. it gets particularly more ridiculous around 3:30.

p.s. the sound quality is shitty. we recorded in my room, with my laptop mic, and i'm still a beginner at guitar.


Friday, October 05, 2007

Exciting new course for Spring 2008: "Education for Social Change"


as i mentioned yesterday, i'm teaching a class next semester!

and as excited as i am, i'm also struggling with ideas for how to market it to a broad base of students. obviously, i'd like to have a class size of more than 3, which is the current tally of committed persons (not too bad though, considering it became official just this afternoon).

i drafted up this general email that i suppose i'll forward around to departments and see if i can recruit people that way. i'm not sure how much i like the last paragraph, about wanting to "change the world," but i felt it was necessary to explain that this is a radical posture, without explicitly stating it.

let me know what you think?


Hi everyone -

Do you dream of changing the world? Do you want to meet other people who do? Do you want to get course credit for pursuing your dream?

As you prepare to register for Spring semester classes (priority registration begins Oct. 11 at 7 am!), I hope you will consider taking the student-initiated Interdisciplinary Advanced Seminar: "Education for Social Change."

I am working with Dr. Nick Longo, of the American Studies/ Educational Leadership departments and director of the Wilks Leadership Institute, to develop an exciting new class that will focus on democratic and popular education, their histories, theories, philosophies, practices, and applications. We will look at the role of education in society, examine and reflect on our own educational experiences (through multi-genre and multi-media projects), and use this as an entry point to engaging in social change.

I started this class out of my own desire to "change the world," and because I believe that significant social progress can take place in our lifetime, if the leaders of tomorrow are empowered and encouraged to create it. I believe education provides this hope, and I believe the critical-democratic practices of popular education in particular will free students to pursue their dreams. This class will thus aim to practice democratic educational theory in the study of it.

If you have any questions, feel free to contact me.

-Stephanie Lee
WCP 2008

Thursday, October 04, 2007

i am worn out!

i have been so tired this week! it's inexplicable. it's almost inexcusable. i was falling asleep in class today, literally falling! my head kept swinging to the side, my eyelids were stuck at half-mast, i was practically drooling from slack mouth. embarrasing. earlier this week i went to bed at 10 pm, to wake up at 7:30 am, work for an hour, then go back to sleep for another hour!

while i worry about my bouts of narcolepsy, i wanted to share some exciting developments in my project process!

first, a new title: "Revolutionary Praxis: Empowering Alternatives for Renewed Democracy" [thoughts? do you like it better than the last one?]

and, most exciting of all: i'm (tentatively) teaching an upper-level seminar next semester! yes, i'm currently in the process of designing the curriculum for a Western junior sem that will focus on democratic education, its history, theories, philosophies, practices, applications, and implications in social movements. the class will likely be called "Education for Social Change" and will feature creative projects and civic engagement projects. i'm excited to get started, and even more thrilled by the possibility of my "students" getting institutional credit for it, a class i hope is so fun they forget about grades all together!

it's nice to think of myself and my beliefs being couched within this institutional reward system and having it work in my favor, for once. it is a radical posture.

so, my class schedule for next semester (my last semester) is looking decidedly revolutionary:
5 credits of Senior Seminar (writing the thesis, no small task, to be sure)
3 credits possibly taking Social Work Policy (a class taught by a friend to the living wage movement, Dr. Alfred Joseph)
3 credits of independent study (to work with my mentor Nick Longo on creating and planning the aforementioned seminar)
3 credits TA'ing for the aforementioned Nick Longo in one of his first-year seminars, "Leadership for the Public Good"
=14 credits, a bare minimum for Miami in my final year here
(barring any exciting electives, such as Social Dance or Photography, ideas my friends and i are batting around as last hurrahs in undergraduate education)

if i weren't so tired, i'd do a backflip. //
i'd do a backflip if my back didn't still hurt from paddle-boating on the Potomac.