Thanks Nathan, Sarina, and Connor for celebrating my bday with me in Pittsburgh, PA. The list of highlights is not short but includes vegan Polish food, a tiki bar, the Mattress Factory, hanger leading to lunch at Starbucks, rosé champagne, Hambone's, Arsenal Bowling, feeding deer & seeing at fox at Allegheny, etc. etc.
My dear friend, its always a pleasure to reunite.
Note to self: If it Makes You Happy by Sheryl Crow is one of the best songs of all time
It pains me to say that I look forward to hindsight. That 20-20 that eats you alive. Regret and forget instead of forgive. Forgiveness is a skill that I hope to one day attain. Hand-crafted like the patch on my back, this paradoxical-leaning concept takes practice and care. One day I'll leave this place, the pain that Zoloft brings and takes away, a distant memory. I'll take from my reflection the pieces that I like. I'll leave behind the lag in the mirror. How funny it is that we never actually see our own face as others do. Simply an image or a reflection in the mirror. We know everything that we see in spite ourselves. To learn to forgive these lags in understanding oneself is to live. I wish to live. I wish to relinquish regret. I wish to construct a life of forgiveness.
Shout out to Nathan for helping me with the lighting.
You're usually reluctant to hike, but I know that you always leave proven wrong. Thanks for letting me pressure you into doing these things with me.
I can’t quite form a cohesive thought or description of what being back in Europe feels like. To put plainly: it feels good. I have literally been here for minutes, but instantly it feels reminiscent of one year ago. The familiarity of this airport and its smelly cigarette smokers and the blast of cool air that greets you as you leave baggage claim and enter the airport shopping center/bahn station. I feel like I am myself a year ago, but stronger. So many fears that I faced one year ago caused me to cower, and today I feel ready to embrace certain challenges. So much has changed in a year. My confidence in my social life, research, relationships, and identity have solidified (with some work still left to do). National Geographic’s September Issue discusses addiction and the disease that causes people to repeat behaviors that they know are bad for them. In a way, I feel addicted to challenge and change. I absolutely panic during change and inevitably become depressed during some challenges, yet I pursue it again and again. Germany has been a milestone and insignia of challenge in my life. Being here (well, almost here) makes me feel a sense of pride. I absolutely love this country. It destroyed me a year ago, but that adds value. Now that I am here, I don’t want to leave. I want to face myself again. I want to feel so alone that I am forced to enjoy my own company. I want to read books t convince my mind that it is someone else. I want to fail again and again so that I have to succeed.
You know when the anticipation of the events of a singular day become so scheduled and fragmented that the day itself ceases to exist? The events that you look forward to are swallowed in the chaos that surrounds the tasks at hand. Sometimes the meaning of time lies in moments passed and very rarely those that I look forward to. The future is never now. And now never lasts.
with Maisie, Erin, and Julie
Musik City by Tan now floods the corners of my bedroom, muffled by a familiar darkness and sound of the gratuitous Columbus summer thunderstorm. I sit in my bed, hands and wrists still numb from lack of sleep/nutrition, head still reconfiguring sun and moon simulations of the past 24 hours. From the day I found out about the solar eclipse back in May, the preparations for this event took a sharp exponential turn during the last week. Columbus appeared to be entirely sold out of protective eyewear for the event as I bounced around from Midwest Photo Exchange to Lowe's to Half Price Books, Giant Eagle, and the UA Public Library. By the time that I arrived at each location, the glasses had supposedly just sold out. Why was the universe working against me during the time of one of it's greatest displays of power?
Nathan and I took off for Nashville, Tennessee at 8 AM on Sunday morning, making frequent stops at businesses in small towns who were rumored to have eclipse glasses. We asked locals and made phone calls that only added an aspect of comedy to our wild goose chase. (Soon, Dixie Rose would inform us that she has eclipse glasses.) Upon arriving into Nashville, we stopped for late lunch in our favorite hippie-vegan-punk style restaurant that exists in every city. After salads and a discussion of what it means to be an adult, we were on route to Nathan (Snell) and Dixie Rose's new home.
We rang the doorbell and immediately were greeted by literally too many people to remember every single face (cat and dog included). The last group of visitors came through to show NS and DR their controversial Harmony Korine style indie film. After a few hours passed, it was just the four of us (and Eno and Kitty) chit-chatting over G&T's, playing improvised games with thrift store figurines. Tipsy enough to go out, Nathan Ward designated our drive to the honky-tonks on Broadway. We watched country music over fried pickles and observed pre-eclipse strange behavior of birds flying over the river from a rooftop patio. The drunken night ended over my first Game of Thrones experience.
NW was abruptly awoken by me accidentally knocking my clumsy foot into the plug of the air mattress, what he described as a "camp" move. Dixie Rose, being the incredible host that she is, cooked breakfast sandwiches for us to prepare for the big day. By 10 AM, we were on route to our viewing location, swooping up Dixie's BFF Pierrette on the way. About an hour later, we drive around the final unpainted winding local road and climb up a long driveway to a 6-story house, hidden by a forest of bamboo, amongst other trees. We walk through to the back to find a private pool with many other guests. Lony Frank and his wife Jodi hosted this viewing party. They greeted us warmly, offering watermelon and potato salad as well as stories about Lony Frank's missile engineering during the Vietnam War.
As the eclipse began, the sun was high above our heads while our bodies were submerged in the perfectly temperate pool. We watched as the darkness of the moon slowly slid in front of the sun. Anticipation grew as crescent shadows became visible and the temperature between shaded and non-shaded areas became cooler and uniform. The contrast of the world was still highly visible but it was if the brightness level had slowly dragged down.
Totality came suddenly. The world around us turned from a dimmed brightness to a haunting gray-blue. We felt silence as the black circle glowed in the sky and watched a panicked group of birds take flight across the display above us. Venus suddenly became bright and visible, followed by Mercury soon after. Two minutes of disbelief, fear, and awe were spent by some in the pool, floating with ears covered to silence out any remaining noise to amplify the incredulous events before our eyes. As quickly as the darkness grew, even more quickly did it fall. Light returned to us and the birds flew back to where they came from.
The rest of this story is 12-hours of nonsense, anger, hunger, and laughter with Nathan Ward. We did whatever we could to avoid the eclipse traffic, but we had to just go through like everyone else. Nathan feels heavy on my heart, and claimed an even bigger home on it after the eclipse. Totality of the moon in front of the sun will now sit side-by-side with this lover of mine.
Although my adoration for Ayn Rand and her philosophies is often met with challenge, certain aspects of her convictions and novels seem to play out in our modern society. In Rand's lexicon, she often returns to the motif of violence. If you have read Atlas Shrugged, perhaps you recall the scene (without giving too much away) where Dagny Taggart must enter a building immediately to save the life of an individual, but she is first met by a guard who enters a paradoxical episode when he cannot decide if he should let Miss Taggart into the building or choose death. Needless to say, he chose death implicitly by not choosing to act rationally. I understand that this is an extreme, but the moral point of this scene is one that reflects todays society (which I will touch on momentarily).
One quote came to mind which inspired this post, "The only proper purpose of a government is to protect man's rights, which means: to protect him from physical violence. A proper government is only a policeman, acting as an agent of man's self-defense, and, as such, may only resort to force only against those who start the use of force." I cannot recall where Ayn Rand said this, but it reminds me of the scene described above. Just as an aside, I have read Atlas Shrugged, The Fountainhead, and Anthem, and I recognize that her philosophies fall under unpopular opinions, but I do wish to only highlight this one aspect of her ideology. To put quite simply, Rand expresses incessantly that violence is never warranted unless it is a response to violence, or more metaphorically, in response to a threat to one's life. Perhaps this is only my interpretation of her novels, but I find it relevant and rational.
To those who act irrationally and disrupt the lives of those who choose to live and to live as rational beings, they are a disruption that cannot be penetrated by rational behavior. White nationalism is the posterchild for irrationality. I think it goes without saying that our society needs diversity to thrive, that deep down the family tree, many of our ancestors were black or jewish (focusing on the groups which neo-Nazis and the KKK specifically hate), that this country itself was taken from Native Americans by a group of immigrants and has been welcoming in immigrants since its conception, that the color of your skin, your religion, your beliefs, do not have an implicitly hierarchical nor contrived system in society, and that no one singular group has historically or sustainably thrived. White supremacists are irrational, and when they appear before us with shields and bats, they are warranting violence in response.
And Mr. (not-my-president) Trump who can proudly state to this country that there is "blame on both sides" is fervently wrong. For a moment he showed courage when he condemned the alt-right groups who have been supporting him throughout his campaign and presidency, but he quickly retreated to his cowardice that marks him in the irrational category alongside these extremist groups. If he wants to define the "alt-left" as "very violent", look at the sources: police shooting unarmed black men and women, hate crimes against muslims, LGBTQ community, blacks, and other minorities, and now white supremacists objecting the removal of a symbol of a time of hatred towards black people. If you want to define the alt-left as a violent group, then you are damn right they are, and Mr. Trump has done absolutely nothing but allow it by perpetuating hatred and implicitly encouraging violence by lacking to condemn these hate groups and acts of racism.
I cannot believe that so many people in this country supported the election of such a heinous, irrational, racist, etc etc etc etc president.
Javi, Mallory, Julie, and Nathan