A palate-cleansing sorbet of trivialities

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Having contemplated a blogging hiatus recently, I briefly put the idea of a hiatus on hiatus. Now I am back to considering a break from it. I suppose it’s not like a store or job where you have to formally shut things down or go on sabbatical – I just follow the ‘inspiration’ for pouring out the contents of my sometimes addled mind as it (inspiration, not the mind) comes (or goes).

I am channeling this energy into an offline project that is moving forward very quickly, and it’s eating every bit of creative marrow I’ve got in my bones. Thus I will potentially write blog posts when I need to unload or unwind. It seems that my most prolific blog writing periods happen when I am thinking too much, overanalyzing and in periods of intense emotional confusion or anguish or something. (Anguish may be too strong a word, but I like it, so I will leave it.) Once free of these things, the feverish urge to blog floats away. Blogging is, in some ways, a kind of existential palate cleanser.

I finished Infinite Jest – finally. As I wrote before, I marveled at its massive depth and breadth but cannot say I liked it. It was laborious to read at times, and I could not wait for it to be finished. I am still reading six other books, though – some great and some for fun (all my ‘hone your psychic abilities’ books are in fun; I have, after all,  to fulfill the psychic destiny one of my exes claimed I had when, while hiking along for many silent hours near Háifoss in Iceland, I randomly blurted out, “Sorbet is a vegan dessert!”. He looked at me as though he’d seen a ghost, and said, “I was just right then thinking about how my grandmother used to make sorbet.”)

I watched the second season of Love on Netflix – it’s easy enough viewing but only remarkable in that “I’ll Be Your Mirror” plays at the end of one episode and made me think back to a moment in time – so very long ago – when I was briefly involved with a Polish guy who made me possibly the most eclectic music tapes ever, and I think he was the first to introduce me to the Velvet Underground (starting with this song). I also recall that he had nothing but critical disdain for the United States – but many years after we had lost contact, I discovered that, after returning to Poland for a number of years, he eventually made a permanent home in, of all places, the American South (that’s a familiar trope, though – the “America Haters” who end up living there quite comfortably in the end).

I’ve cut back immensely on the TV viewing, but there are still things I watch – such as the aforementioned Love, binged in an afternoon; Girls – I’ve hate-watched the whole series, so why would I not complete the circle by watching its final season?; The Americans – it’s one of the best shows ever, and somehow more relevant than ever… and other stuff as well, but it is true that once I broke the cycle (ha!) it seemed quite dull to return to the majority of shows I’d mindlessly been sucking in.

Otherwise, life is work, creative projects, a series of last-minute travel or guests and always hoping for sunlight over the dismally, stormy greyness that pervades today. Nice weather, too, is a palate cleanser.

Letters of the Unliving (Mina Loy)
The present implies presence
thus
unauthorized by the present
these letters are left authorless–
have lost all origin
since the inscribing hand
lost life.

The hoarseness of the past
croaks
from creased leaves
covered with unwritten writing
since death’s erasure
of the writer–
erased the lover

Well-chosen and so ill-relinquished
the husband heartsease–
acme of communion–

made euphonious
our esoteric universe.

Ego’s oasis now’s
the sole companion.

My body and my reason
you left to the drought of your dying:
the longing and the lack
of a racked creature
shouting
to an unanswering hiatus
“reunite us!”

till slyly
patience creeps up on passion
and the elation of youth
dwindles out of season.

Agony
ends in an equal grave
with ecstasy.

An uneasy mist
rises from this calligraphy of recollection
documenting a terror of dementia.

This package of ago
creaks with the horror of echo.

The bloom of love
decoyed
to decay by the finger
of Hazard the swindler–
deathly handler who leaves
no post-mortem mask
but a callous earth.

Posing the extreme enigma
in my Bewilderness
can your face excelling Adonis
have ceased to be
or ever have had existence?

With you no longer the addresser
there is no addressee
to dally with defunct reality.

Can one who still has being
be inexistent?

I am become
dumb
in answer
to your dead language of amor.

Diminuendo
of life’s imposture
implies no possible retrial
by my present self–
my cloud-corpse
beshadowing your shroud.

The one I was with you:
inhumed in chasms.
No creator
reconstrues scar-tissue
to shine as birth-star.

But to my sub-cerebral surprise
at last on blase sorrow
dawns an iota of disgust
for life’s intemperance:

“As once you were”

Withhold your ghostly reference
to the sweet once were we.

Leave me
my final illiteracy
of memory’s languor–

my preference
to drift in lenient coma
an older Ophelia
on Lethe.

Photo (c) 2008 Angela Schmeidel Randall used under Creative Commons license.

High, Low and In Between: The Multiplying Gift of Music

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Capping off a week in which I was obsessed with thinking about, talking about and listening to music, I finished the work week (almost – still have Friday to get through) watching the film Les choristes. A perfect finale.

I thought about and discussed genius songwriters this week – focusing in mostly on the late, great Townes van Zandt and to a lesser degree, Robyn Hitchcock (whose duet of van Zandt’s well-known “Poncho and Lefty” with Grant-Lee Phillips I stumbled upon the previous week).

I met someone who has placed van Zandt (rightly) on a songwriting pedestal. A songwriter’s songwriter. The striking thing, for me, though, was in exploring how each of us – and by extension, how anyone – discovers music. Discoverability is a lot easier these days – easy to spread and share. Not quite so much in the “old days”. This led me to thinking about the web music weaves – the intricate web, unique to each of us – making up the soundtrack of our lives. The web also has a kind of reach – one piece of music or musician leads us to their influences or contemporaries. It was in this way that I discovered Townes van Zandt myself back in 1990.

I had fallen under the dreamy spell of the Cowboy Junkies’ album The Trinity Sessions and, being too young, could not attend their first show in Seattle. When they came back in early June 1990 (hear me let out a sigh here – I am 26 years removed from this – “who knows where the time goes?”), I begged my parents let me attend (luckily they did). The Junkies were touring with Townes van Zandt – my first introduction to him. Since then I’ve devoured his discography, and have seen its presence proliferate in film and TV soundtracks ever since.

The woven web was taking on new parts – the initial discovery of the Cowboy Junkies had first led me to the Velvet Underground (as the Junkies gained their biggest ‘fame’ from their remake of “Sweet Jane”). I had known of Lou Reed earlier, but mostly only having heard “Walk on the Wild Side” a few times and seen him a few times on a brief and more mainstream path in the 80s. And from the Junkies, things moved on to Townes.

Thinking about all of this, I reflected, and wrote to an acquaintance that “one of the most beautiful things about music is its ability to not just endure and bring people together or even its transformative power but its “introductory” powers. That is, you hear something that means something to you… but it does not stop there”. In fact, it never stops. The web continues to multiply.

Breakfast for dinner & vanilla syruppy lattes

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Cooking for friends, I decided to serve big platters of breakfast for dinner. I made piles of bacon – made crisp in the oven – and fluffy piles of scrambled eggs. To make the whole thing truly American, I made pancakes. It’s a rare occasion – and I really only do it American style – no super-thin crêpe-style pancakes here.

The recipe I used for American pancakes:
1 1/2 cups flour
3 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon sugar
1 ¼ cup milk
1 egg
3 tablespoons melted butter

Whisk dry ingredients together, whisk in the milk until a lumpy batter forms. Add the egg, mix. Melt and add the 3 tablespoons of butter.

Meanwhile heat a griddle or frying pan over medium-high heat and add a small pat of butter for cooking.

Use ¼ cup for each pancake (makes 8 to 10 pancakes). Cook on each side – on the first one, when the top starts to bubble, you will know it’s about time to turn it over. Cook the opposite side and remove to plates. Serve warm with real maple syrup.

Then I decided to make vanilla lattes. I had no vanilla syrup but decided to make some. It’s fairly simple.

Vanilla syrup (for coffee drinks, for example)
1 cup water
1 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla (preferably clear but any vanilla will do)

Heat the water and sugar on the stove on medium heat while constantly stirring. Stir until sugar is completely dissolved. Add the vanilla. When well-mixed, pour the final product into a bottle. It will probably keep for weeks or even months without being refrigerated. I did not have a good storage bottle so had to use an empty Grey Goose vodka bottle!

Vanilla-flavored simple syrup for coffee drinks

Vanilla-flavored simple syrup for coffee drinks

Then I made happy little vanilla lattes!

Makeshift vanilla latte magnificence

Makeshift vanilla latte magnificence

Wine in the morning
And some breakfast at night.
Well I’m beginning to see the light.

The changing workscape: Don’t miss the boat on remote

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Even my colleagues are in on it.

My penchant for writing about – and practically agitating for – remote work has even influenced some colleagues. One sent me a link to an article about surprising remote work possibilities and jokingly suggested I may have a future as a remote sports psychologist. Ha!

I don’t know that I got a lot of value from the article – nothing I did not already know. But it reminded me that sometimes the route to work-from-home possibilities is winding and indirect. Considerable creativity and thought can chart the course before you hit smooth sailing waters. Not many jobs are advertised or designed as remote-work friendly – but there is a lot of room in many jobs for negotiation. I recently negotiated for more work-at-home time, which comes none too soon for my sanity, productivity and the horrors of long-distance winter commuting.

And telecommuting makes sense. Another (former) colleague sent me an article about what differences telecommuting may make in the future of transportation and traffic.

“Telecommuting is occurring everywhere in metropolitan areas, from dense cities to their far-flung suburbs. The rise of the Internet is producing more at-home work, but not just, as once believed, by people who want to live far from their workplaces. Many telecommuters are likely only a few miles from their potential offices. What’s happening across the country that may explain these changes?”

One of the best parts of writing on this subject is many acquaintances jumping in and contributing bits of information and evidence. I love it.