December 26, 2012

The Slow Death of Penmanship

There was one occasion I had stopped by a friend's office to help her out with a couple things and take her out to lunch and she was grading papers from her college level students. Naturally, the curiosity of midterms and architecture intertwined somewhat for me that I was compelled to leaf through a couple copies of student work. They were all hand written, since the technology hasn't quite arrived to print three hundred midterms at the same time from laptops with internet connections. But back to that moment then and there in the office, as I began to read through some of the students work, I noticed a consistent thing all throughout every single paper. Poor handwriting. Granted, I could have ripped a couple of students for incorrect themes throughout their papers, but to me, the penmanship was the most striking thing.

Perhaps about two decades ago, this problem would have been encountered less, with the difficulties of printing and availability of computer type processing. Today, at a time where one can live tweet and blog an entire day's worth of movies and what not from a cell phone, or wirelessly send documents to print at a touch of a button, certain things fall to the wayside and one of those things certainly are handwriting. The way we function and operate nowadays relies so little on the physical taking of notes in class, when we can digitally capture everything that is said, or quickly type it down. Heaven help the teacher or GSI when they have to grade hand written tests.

Handwriting somehow becomes one of those things easily ignored surpassed by more modern technology. Its understandable for technology to move beyond previous technology, but if anything, handwriting still is a necessary technology, surpassed in legibility, and distribution by typing and photocopying, there still is that necessary instant communication between two people. Just as well, say for instance, there are two people from different parts of the country, and between the two of them, comping up with a joint venture. No laptop, just a quick ideas brainstorm. Simple as that. Between the two of them, two young savvy professionals who spent an entire lifetime doing all work via computers, neither has a strict grasp over neat handwriting. Can you expect to see this venture lasting a bit if the ideas aren't clearly laid out?

You might say, well, maybe if they get their ideas out today, they can type it out tomorrow. Well, you can only pull out from your memory only so much, perhaps they'd forgotten a key component to their joint venture. In the immediacy of the events, there is a certain necessity that handwriting performs that it can capture quickly that you might lose in just typing.

If you look at a set of hand written notes of someone who does have fairly decent handwriting and compare it to a typeset of notes, notice a difference. A quick, neat scrawled out side note in the corner, ideas, relations of complexities, things of the like. A set of typed notes, and lets be honest. Parrots what the screen says. Students tend to write what they can see on the board, take in little to no aural response and add notes of their own. Facebook, twitter, youtube, email, all distract us. So that's one nail right there.

Teachers these days, I don't think they're helping all too much either. Albeit, when I attended elementary school in the late 90's, cursive and penmanship was still a very important. I can still recall writing on that thick, plush fiber paper, with the blue dotted lines and it had the texture of paper towel. Trying to write on it with a hard HB #2 pencil, made a light line and a deep crevice into it. I mean, it wasn't easy learning how to write on this swamp emulating paper, but over time, when we did graduate to wide ruled paper, suddenly, there was a world of things we could write, and even more so with college ruled paper.

There was however a wrong turn even I mistakenly had taken in my life. It was around sixth grade after four years of writing in cursive script and growing to resent having to connect my words, the teacher allowed us to print. By all means, my printing improved and eventually my script dwindled into nothing. Throughout high school, you could see my handwriting was fairly simple, not hurried, but in a way, lacking. It was plain, it was simple, and it looked childish. Unrefined for the use in a real world context, it had that charm of bent ascenders and sloping with a curlique descenders that allowed the illusion of childhood to be complete. This carried me through my first year of college when I made a major change in my writing.

My first year, I purchased with much pomp and circumstance a Koh-I-Noor rapidograph pen. Refillable. That of all the things was a new concept to me that I enjoyed. I did own my grandfather's Parker 51, but I ignored it for the most part. Now, my letters became increasingly technical. Resembling the sharp rakish lines of sans-serif fonts I had on my computer. I ran with it. On one occasion, I even wrote an entire month's worth of letters to my girlfriend at the time in Sweden using the rapidograph. It probably was the first pen I owned that, the ink changed the paper. When it dried, your fingertips could trace over the letterforms and feel literally what you had just written. She loved it so much at the time, she went out and bought pens as well just to write in a journal she was keeping for me.

My ex was one of those people who were very influential in my life. She made me appreciate the necessity of good type, good typesetting, good design, good work and good handwriting. Her letters always returned to me with her girlish squiggly scrawl, but it was readable. Just as she influenced me, I influenced her with my choice of excellent writing tools. I always kept on hand at my desk my Lamy fountain pen, a rotoring fountain pen and my Waterman which I kept on my person. These little hints thrown back and forth, we slowly improved each other's handwriting. Part of me wishes I could see the letters I sent her back then, but since then, we had long separated from each other not talking for four years now.

Perhaps its me, with my obsession with all things type and good handwriting when my friend came up to me at a dinner once asking me to do ten wedding invitations that were to be sent off to family. I could not say no, since this friend helped me in so many ways. When I started, I set down with several pieces of Crane & Co. stock and attempted to write in cursive. I could not. Baffled and panic stricken, I thought to myself: this can't be right. I love handwriting and stuff like this. Why can't I do it?

I had forgotten the cursive forms completely. I had lost track over the past eight years of how to write strictly in script. My daily scratch had evolved like some form of Frankenstein. I no longer adhered only to print  or only to cursive. It was this god awful abomination, that utilized cursive f's a wide variety of cursive and print s's and a constantly changing lower case a. I realized, this would not do. As fast as I could write, as neatly as I could write (when I have to write neatly or engross I can) cursive script was what I needed most for this wedding invitation. So I sat down, read through Tamblyn's guide and Speedball's guides, and worked back up. It took awhile, but I realized the necessity of good handwriting.

Pedal forward to today. I had gone to visit the classroom of the teacher who allowed me to stop using cursive. It was not quite the classroom I had left. Hell, it wasn't even the same room as before. But she was still there, and still the same awesome teacher I remembered. But before I could even postulate the handwriting question to her, I noticed something incredibly shocking. There literally were no pads of paper or journals around at all. Every single one of these sixth graders were using a laptop or an iPad, to watch lectures, things like that. The only time I saw pencils and paper being pulled out were to answer math sheets, and quickly scribble down assignments. Defeated, I walked towards the door after dropping off my business card and watched as the next generation of students entered a new era of technology and would drive more nails into the coffin of handwriting.

October 16, 2012

From the Journal of a Hypochondriac

The sort of gentle steam rose slowly from the cup of coffee sitting square in the center of the table. One lip of the cup was stained with the golden brown liquid it contained from where a mouth was pressed against it. A dirty spoon, still warm sat resting a few inches away slowly soaking a paper napkin through. Beside all this, precariously placed on the edge was a folded up newspaper, commuter folded open to the crossword puzzle in the Datebook.

A young, beautiful face stared down at the puzzle, her eyes scanning over the clues and blank squares in hopes of finding a new point of attack. Her long golden strands of blond hair cascaded down and the tips touched onto the newspaper and with a flick of her wrist, they sailed into the air and back over her shoulder where they would begin the slow descent down to the table again. Her right hand tapped nervously as she looked over this, her eyes darting from the clues to the coffee and then back again. She knew what this would be like. She would finish about three quarters of the puzzle, give up, toss it into the trash and then the next morning when the answers would be posted in the paper, she would feel an overwhelming desire to find the bin she threw it into and retrieve it.

Every morning, Lily went through this struggle and many more throughout the day. Jumping to quick conclusions and realizing her mistakes and trying her best to fix them or appease everyone, but mostly herself. When she finally reached the three quarters mark, she stuffed the paper into her leather side bag and continue onto work, leaving the cafe a faint memory until the next morning when she would struggle again.

Living and working in the city had always been a dream for her and when she finally got the chance to do so, she couldn't help but jump for joy, take a bunch of her girlfriends out for drinks and then question her choice in the morning while nursing her hangover. Lily had come from a small town on the outskirts of Sacramento, with not much to do with big city living and not much to do with small city living either. It was the sort of town where everyone knew each other by heart and where your personal affairs was everybody's business. The older ladies in the town were certainly more of the productive busybodies, spreading rumors around that Lily had met some rich executive and was taking her away to live in San Francisco. This she would not have. Out of sheer anger, she approached one group of them sitting on a porch and yelled at them: "I'M NOT A WHORE!"

That embarrassing fiasco certainly meant she wouldn't be able to return to town without coming upon the watchful eyes of the Cowden street old ladies. Her mother and father usually decided it was best to visit her in the city rather than she come out home. But it allowed her a new sense of freedom. One that she didn't have to deal with people anymore, or annoying busybodies around her. Now, she was a person living in the city! Now she was part of the many that would be sitting around in cafes drinking expensive coffee with laptops being watched as they wrote screenplays or created works of art.

Lily's job was personal assistant to Mr. Will Yeager. Will Yeager was the sort of man who had dropped out of college, but started his own business and pulled himself up by the bootstraps and through hard work made things happen. All by the age of 32. He was now 34 and running a successful design group in the SOMA district. She would manage all the papers for publication and under her careful and tedious scrutiny, edit them twice even after the editors have sent the papers her to be published in. Secretly, she would sneak in her own edits without telling Mr. Yeager.

It happened that morning, maybe about a half hour after the coffee shop and the crossword puzzle. She had just gotten into the office and started to settle into her small little half cubicle outside Yeager's office. She nudged around the portrait of her and her father, stepped briskly into Yeager's room and grabbed the pile of papers in his out box for her review. It would be another half hour before Will would get here she thought as she nestled into her office hair with a pencil and a new article. It was supposed to be Will's opening statements for the office's annual design newsletter publication.

Now the Yeats Annual was a pretty big deal in the design world. Every year, Lily would watch as boxes of three hundred magazines each would be shipped off to New York, Portland, Chicago, London, Pairs, Rio de Janero, Tokyo and elsewhere. She secretly knew that for the last four years at least, every single one of those annuals had some of her own little edits here and there. As she settled into the page, suddenly she found herself looking at a photograph of Will Yeager staring back at her with a cool confidence. She blushed slightly at his gaze and then realizing she was blushing at a photograph quickly composed herself again. Maybe Lily had read about ten pages before she realized with a slight cough, Will was looking back at her slightly puzzled.

"What're you doing with that? I thought you'd have taken it down to printing by now." Lily nearly overturned her chair by his sudden appearance. "I mean, you'll get a chance to read it in a week when it comes back from the printers." He leaned forward to look at what she was doing. "Are you editing... Lily. Explain."

"Hi uh Will," she tumbled over a stack of papers creating a chaotic mess on the floor. "I was just overlooking the editors work." "Well, you know that's why we have editors in the first place." "Well um, I guess I didn't trust their work good enough. I mean, obviously, this is going out with your face... I mean signature on it. It didn't hurt before." "What do you mean before?" Realizing the jib was up, Lily fumbled with the top drawer of her desk and pulled out the last five years issues of the Yeats Annual. She opened them up to him showing her neat handwriting in red pen scratched here and there left and right. He read through her edits slowly, slowly pondering each time he reahed a major place where she had left edit marks. "Well Lil, I gotta say, I'm glad you've been going over the editors work. You know, i'm surprised they haven't made any sort of stink that what they changed wasn't theirs. I mean this section here," he gestured to an open page nearly covered in red. "I think your changes here are actually better than the editors."

"Will, please, I love working for you." "No no, this isn't what you think. What you did here is actually good and I'm thankful to have you do this. I'm going to have a talk with Stephen in editing and you might get his job soon." "I can't possibly do that. I mean, who'll make sure your lunch is made properly and..." he cut her off there. "Fine Lil, if you're happy here, you can stay here no problem. But I would think you'd make such an excellent addition to the editing team. I'm not going to fire Stephen, but maybe take you on part time during Annual season. But anyways, messages?" Lily thrust a stack of pink sheets of phone messages into his large rough hand. Will turned and walked into his office.

A cold bead of sweat rolled down her forehead. Editing? Those guys are a bunch of animals. Literally. She didn't like the thought of answering to anyone else but Will. Even then, she was basically her own boss working under him. All she had to do was every so often send in the reports he asked for, and return his comments to the departments. She pulled another drawer this time, this one filled with various medication bottles, one for anxiety, another for cramps, another for ADD, another for ADHD even though she didn't even have those conditions. She swallowed a handful of carefully chosen pills and relaxed back into her chair and opened Facebook.

"Looks like I'm going to be an editor for Yeager." she wrote into the status update.

July 20, 2012

That's not living...

I was sitting in the living room of my elderly grandmother's flat earlier today when I decided to run out and go grab a cup of something sugary at the Starbucks my friend Lauren works at. I'm still here as a matter of fact. I'm actually just starting to get settled into my table, working slowly on my drink made of about 80 percent sugar and with little to zero caloric value. But there was something that had happened moments before, moments that made me decide to get outside rather than just sit down with family around my iPad and start to write this. I somehow had motivated myself to go out spend 2 dollars on bus fare to get out here, and another three something to buy the damn drink, but here I am I suppose.

 So let's Tarentino this for a second. It was there in the living room, with the television on and set to the discovery channel. My mother and father both engrossed in some reality show about property value wars or something of a similar ridiculous nature. Anyways, just as I was about to lose interest, they go and show a commerical for the Toyota Venezia or something like that. I can tell you with a sound of assurance that it had a stupid pretencious sounding name like Engava or Romadallion. But they chose to show some attempt of a vaguely nerdy and dorky seeming girl. Like if you had an unliscenced copy of Kristen Schaal for your own commercial use. Big eyes, the slightly curly hair and glasses. "My parents just got into facebook, they have 19 friends, how is that living?" *cut to parents having fun mountain biking with other people* "I have 840 friends on facebook."

I know everyone has come to this realization, as well at some point. We as the most interconnected society, one of the most closely related and understood societies. We know more about ourselves, the human body, mind, space and just recently, scratching the surface of physics. Yet never before has there been such a degenerated society of people devoted to remaining so devoted to the introvertic comforts of home. We become so much of a society enticed by the comforts, and no longer the serendipitous nature of new discovery.

We much would rather find a restaurant recommendation on Yelp the first time than try a restaurant that you passed on the off chance that it might be good. We strive to find the information that we dont need to find with the least amount of human interaction possible. Perhaps someone ignorant might have said, "the restaurant serves heavily lamb and other gamey meats. If you don't like the sound of occasional plates being dropped and the entire staff mocking and ridiculing you." Curiosity strikes you, though rambuncous, and racous, the warm Greek staff let you smash a plate on the floor to the yells of OPA! You would have never known. Just from someone who happened to been in a bad mood on Yelp.

 Facebook, the bane of meeting people. Its great, having the chance to meet people, reconnect with old friends you might have never seen ever again. It's great for that. That and only that. It really is no true replacement for meeting people, seeing other people on a regular basis. I have met people who are odd, too lazy to go out when invited by friends, but angry at the same friends when he saw that the friends had posted amazing and fun looking photos of that specific outing.

 So live. Go out there and go see a friend, go watch a film, eat dinner with people, play and make music with others, and all that jazz.

June 29, 2012

Nature Hath Returneth

A happy object
once the pride and joy
of a family long gone

With all but
one, slowly finding its
way, to its triumphal return
into, a world ruled by gaia

Iron to steel,
steel to stamp
stamp to object
object to value
value to pride
pride to death
death to abandonment
abandonment to rust
rust to nature
nature unto itself.

May 21, 2012

Sounds of Happiness

Sam laid in bed, her chest rising and falling to the rhythm of her breathing. Rafe also was in bed next to her, but he was sitting up, sipping from a steaming cup of coffee with a copy of the sunday morning paper spread over the entire cover. He looked over to the clock on Sam's side of the bed. It said 10:45 in bleak red bars. He leaned back against the headboard and continued to sip coffee. As he shuffled through the papers, he read whatever article caught his eye. The utility company is to change out transformers in the north part of town, Local boy wins first at the county youth swimathon, Mayor caught walking wife's dog while wearing only fur coat and flip flops. How odd Rafe thought and looked back at the article title: Mayor's caucus on creation of new dog walk wears anti fur activists over his flip-flop. I suppose that makes a little more sense. When he tossed aside the metro section, he saw Sam roll over onto her chest and an idea popped into his head. Rolling the little audio cart into the bed room, the only sounds he made were his feet padding against the wood floor and the sound of the casters rolling. He plugged the cart into the socket and from the bottom shelf, grabbed a Charlie Byrd record onto the turntable and switched on the machine. Carefully dropping the arm onto the record, he waited for magic. Then it happened with a gradual crecendo as the tubes warmed up. "Blues for Felix" slowly arose from nowhere as it passed through the speakers slowly filling the room with the rich sounds of guitar and bass. Sam rolled around once more and this time buried her head into the pile of pillows on the end of the bed. With a muffled groan, she slowly came to. The sound she made could only be described similar to when an old man gets out of a chair. While Rafe looked pleased at the cart, he didn't realize that aims were being taken from the bed. As he stood with arms folded looking at the cart, a pillow knocked him in the head and he wheeled around. There sat Sam in the middle of the bed wearing only a tshirt and shorts with another pillow cocked in her arm, ready to be chucked. As he tried to approach her, another pillow sailed towards him and this one he deflected and tossed back at her. She smiled as she bounced with each pillow thrown. "Moin moin sleepy face." "Ugh, I want to sleep." "Sleep's so overrated silly face." "No it's not." She looked at him and tried to squidge her face into puppy dog eyes. "Yuck, don't do that. You know that turns me on so much." Rafe said jokingly. This time, she squidged her face even harder to exaggerate puppy dog eyes. Without warning, he pounced on her and kissed her all over. "Aaugh, stop. Okok, I'll wake up." "Haha, here, put pants on." He threw a pair of skinny jeans at her face. As they dressed, record kept going on the turn table. With each song, Mr. Byrd kept playing as the two milled around the room. Rafe tossed out the coffee in the kitchen sink. Sam collected the papers and put them in the kindling bin by the fireplace. When chores were finished and done, the record came to a close as they plopped onto the bed tired. The sound of the record needle on the finish track made a pleasing sound Rafe thought. The drone of the dust and the click as it rolled over the finishing guide, he listened to it keep going until the action finally decided to return the arm home. He rolled over to Sam and kissed her.

April 19, 2012

The Variation of Land in California

Our great state of California is an amazingly varied place, with a possibility of being one of the most ecologically diverse states in the union. From the Klamath mountains to the Mojave Desert and everything in between, there is nowhere else in the state so varied within a boundary of ten degrees latitudenally and ten degrees longitudinally.

A recent image has been floating around the internet recently, depicting the State of California prior to its statehood. A massive lake now gone once was the southern end of the San Joaquin River. There would have been no difficulty in taking a steamboat from Redding all the way down the Sacramento to San Francisco or even Bakersfield! Imagine, hot, dry acrid Bakersfield sandwiched in between the Carrizo Plain, Techapi Mountains, Piute mountains and the Reenhorn mountains. Currently, it's a fairly decent sized city, pockmarked with tracts and oil farms. Imagine around here, one of the largest lakes in the continental US proper. (considering Lake Superior is split between the US and Canada. Drained away to feed agriculture. As sad as the loss of such a huge lake, the use of its waters for agricultural purposes the transformation allowed the central valley of this state to be used for growing vegetables and other food stuffs that now support the state. The concern of soil salination and wildlife is a major concern in contrast. But the last thing the state needs again is another Salton Sea.

When Leland Stanford arrived for his innauguration as Governor of the state, he was paddled up in a boat to the state capitol. Imagine, a city like Sacramento with Interstate five passing through it, massive tract home plots, city streets and the like, being swampy marshlands. The interruption of Nature by man is always ever present with diverting the existence of natural formation for human benefit. Back to the example of Tulare lake, the reason it disappeared was the damming of the headwaters of the Kern, Kaweah, Tule and Kings rivers. By establishing a system of dams to control flooding and allow portioning for potable water, agriculture and industry, the government in effect killed a major ecological beauty for the use of its people.

We should laud great pioneers for their ingenuity, to work the land such that people are capable of living off the land, even if that land was dry and practically unusable before. Brigham Young's arrival at the Great Salt Lake sparked a systematic irrigation of the land allowing the Mormons safe haven from persecution in 1848. Today, the city of Salt Lake City is a major flourishing metropolitan area.

We also cannot forget those who have moved tirelessly to preserve the same beauty of the land that we know today. The work of John Muir and convincing then president Theodore Roosevelt allowed for the the formation of the foundations for what would become the national parks system and the department of the Interior. Muir wrote of the mountains and the redwoods of the state of California, the beauty of the Yosemite valley and even wrote of other natural wonders of the state. His tireless efforts would preserve the forests and natural wonders for years to come.

Along the fault running from the Santa Ana mountains, across the San Gabriel and up through the Salinas valley and into the San Francisco penninsula, here the shape of the earth is caused by multiple faults running into one another. At fault for our conception of how plates and mountains work are: it seems that all mountains are formed by plates colliding and both being pushed up. That seems to be the basic concept we all embrace at least. Here along the San Andreas fault are various types of fault lines. Subduction plates, collisional plates, slip faults, etc. From this, we find the true forms of why the state's landmasses and mountains shape the way they do as we recgonize them.

A Brief Introduction to Subduction:

So what do we know about subduction? Perhaps, a few of you reading this may know, others might have looked it up on Wikipedia. In a sense, the entire earth is a constantly, rebuilding construction site. The core of this planet where the pressure and such is extremely high causes an extreme and intense heat. We know from basic physics and science that warm things tend to rise and cool things sink. So we have Magma being superpressurized and then it moves upwards. As it rises towards the surface towards the Lithospehere, it cool and creates variations in that part of the earth. Places where the lithosphere is thinner, will get pulled down, creating basins. Places where there is more variation and thickness, it tends to create land mass elevations. But back to the issue of Magma. When it is rebuilding, it creates the forms we know.

So at plate collisions whichever plate is cooler, that one will be pulled downwards and the hotter and lighter plate will rise, and actually float over. Where the lower one subducts under the other plate. With subduction, there are variations of the plate where you have the many types of fault interactions. Slip faults, strike faults, subducting faults, slip strike, etc. An excellent example of slip strike fault exists in Hollister, CA. There is one landmark that is known to many locals, and especially by geologists: a wire rail fence that stretches along a section of fault line that since its building in 1930, the fence has been stretch and pushed around showing the seismic activity exhibited since.

Back to California:

So what is it about this state that makes it an amazingly varied landscape. Every possible form of climate in the world exists here. The highest point in the contential United States, as well as the lowest dry land in North America both exist here in California, within a hundred miles of each other! From the head of the Klamath, following along the Cascades into Oregon, Washington state and ending somewhere in British Columbia. This range is marked by multiple mountains: Baker, Glacier Peak, Mt. Rainier, Mt. St. Helens, Adams, Hood, Jefferson, Craters, Three Sisters, Thielsen, Crater Lake formation and Mt. Shasta. This protective covering and the shape of the lands prevents low hanging clounds from passing over this ridge, causing a temperate rain forest. Many of these head waters form along these ridgelines, causing the lush forests to have no trouble growing here.

From extreme climates also derives extreme life forms, the state also boasts some of the largest trees, tallest trees and oldest singular, non-recursive tree. The title of largest and oldest goes to a colony of Quaking Aspen in Utah. So how does the state of California get so lucky? Its hard to say, but with proper climates, good fertile soil and the ideal conditions to allow these extrmes to grow.

In conclusion, we can look into the shape of things to come. If the way things continue, the shape of California will continue to change for all eternity.

April 16, 2012

Memory of a Place

What we closely associate with most emotions and with our sense of place is through location, and the experience we derive from that location. Where from these places, we develop an attachment through sensory deviations, from working with a certain aroma, a certain sound or even the feel of a chair sometimes. So, it is safe to say, you give place to what you can derive from what you experience.

Say for instance, I worked in a cafe, the overpowering aroma of roasting coffee, the heat of steamed milk, the things all are associated with with those feelings.The way we recgonize our own home, the feel of our own bedding the warm feeling of home, and what not. It becomes in our nature to recgonize these things. If we encounter in a store, the same feeling of the sheets or the fluffiness of the pillows, then you see this as a comfort. But likewise, your sensory actions can work against in these terms. Where by finding only one aspect, we might not agree with all of them. I find everything in my room comforting, from the pictures hanging on the wall with one blank spot in a sea of picture frames, to a handmade fur throw, to the pile of drawings on my own desk. Say I went to IKEA and it just happened that one of these things was replicated with great accuracy there. Let's just say for instance: one picture frame missing on the display of picture frames. My mind recgonizes this as something similar, but at the same time, there is no fur throw in the picture frame section of IKEA. Nor are there a pile of my own drawings. Here is where I am only recieving a partial picture of a memory. Perhaps I might see this exact same thing if I should ever look at my wall and see the singular blank spot.

What we are to associate strongest are these feelings. That there in lies the greatest instance of power in our minds to make a sensory association with a certain particular event. When walking through Grace Cathedral in San Francisco, you are wowed by the sheer mass and volume of the entire building, and you will later use this as a form of association if you ever enter another church of similar volume or constrasting volume. There is no limit to this, we will always associate one thing with another just to compare. How would you describe the shape of this? Like a tea pot. How does this smell? Like coffee.

So in our work and in our time, we look for these small hints, that we can bring to the table, to make sense of the world. So next time someone asks you a comparative question, think about what sort of device you will use on your own to describe what are your biggest comparisions in life.

April 08, 2012

There's always the Memory

You sit on a rough wooden bench, the cast iron leaves press into your back and there are people mingling around the round, concrete picnic tables. The strands of light bulbs rock slowly back and forth with the slow gentle warm breezes. There is a low murmur of voices as people laugh and chat. A great lakes steamer slowly rolls by blaring its air horns as the gentle dirty wake follows it as it steams northwards. There's only a couple of people you know there, and even them you only know through work. So it feels weird to be here, with people you hardly know surrounded by more people you don't know at all. You don't know why you came, you figured on a whim, why not? You usually don't hang with these people, and you start to question why you bother coming out, these people, they don't interest you, they don't like what you like and the only relation you have with them is work. Probably a few comments about football and hockey is all.

As you're lost in thought, you notice someone sitting down next to you, breaking your thought and line of concentration. She seems to have the same amount of frustration and nervousness as you do. You want to make the conversation start, she's a cute girl with a black and white polka dot dress finished off with a satin bow around her waist, and short brown bobbed hair held back with a ribbon. You can sort of see the conversation, she'll laugh and giggle, you'll concur with what she says. Then some drinks will flow and the two of you are confounded with loose tongues as you just engage in some of the most indepth conversations on Dante's Divine Comedy.

Later that evening, the two of you'll go back to either yours or her place and engage in a nightcap, which becomes more than just that, it'll become a kiss, then an embrace, then a fuck. The next morning, neither of you have regrets, it goes on for months before you ask her the question she wanted to hear, "Will you marry me?" and she'll say yes. Before you know it, there's her in the white gown of her dreams walking down the aisle towards you in a smart morning suit in a huge church midst thousands of flowers and all of your friends. And you'll both say "I do." and there, it's done. With a poof and a shake of your head, you look around you. The flowers and church and gown are gone, just the warm summer night, the swaying lights on the walk, and you're sitting on an empty bench.

Perplexed, you look around for the mystery girl, and there she is, she just moved momentarily. You approach her, and the first thing you ask, "What do you think of Dante's Divine Comedy?" She looks at you through her big plastic framed glasses, and can say just one thing: "I like it."

January 27, 2012

This Hip American Life

The morning is still, the air is quiet and hardly a thing stirs in the cozily furnished room. The two bay windows watching over the narrow street are uncovered, the old glass lets in a bold stream of light pool over a worn out and flattened shag rug. A small fireplace reveals the remnants of last evening's fire, the crumbling cinders perched so delicately, the breeze from a passerby would easily cause the entire structure to turn into a mound of dust. On the mantle, a variety of clocks tick, each one slightly off by mere seconds as if some one took pride and time in setting each and every single one of them. On either side of the fireplace, there are built in bookcases overflowing with old cloth bound novels, several first edition copies of famous books, some art books, and even a couple of fine press books hidden in the mess. Photographs, framed in simple wooden frames hang on the walls and sit on whatever available surfaces are around. Vintage portraits, drawings, prints and drawings get large huge frames as they are carefully placed in the wall space, to give the most aesthetically pleasing situation. Overstuffed couches, covered in pillows, sheepskins and throws sit sadly, sagging from years of overuse but there is something about the bright patterned fabrics that still show they have some life in them. A coffee table made of some stolen street sign is littered with typographical magazines, literary reviews and stumps of burnt out pillar candles.

Down the hall, the door to the kitchen is ajar slightly, mostly because it sticks in the other direction. A peep through the crack reveals a worn looking tile counter, but scrubbed clean. The dishes from last evening's dinner still sit, soaking in lukewarm soapy water. Further down the hall, another open door reveals what looks like an office but looks almost like a reading corner in some old university library. An old lion claw foot table sits in the middle of the circle of bookshelves, a single lamp in the center with several books strewn about. A copy of planetary physics, mechanical systems and a stack of dog eared Harry Potter books are what you can make out from the doorway. It would be a bit rude of barge into this little sanctuary of learning. All around you, evidence of life, scarves and hats hanging on hooks, several heavy coats and a pair of bicycles suspended from the ceiling. At the end of the hall, a door with a stolen restroom sign hints at the contents of that room and the bright sunlight streams in off to the side illuminating the stacked washer dryer.

The door to the bedroom is ajar, open only a crack. Peering in, a semi naked man is seen carefully on tip toe bearing a tray with two cups, a pot of tea and several various pastries. He sneaks to the far end of the room and places them on the coffee table in front of a couch and arm chair. He tries to pick up a cup and a slight shuffling sound from the bed causes him to panic and toss a cup in the air. Realizing the potential peril of the ceramic container, he fumbles and tries to catch it as it bounces out of his fingertips each time. Making a narrow save, he has a look of shock as he realized, he managed to actually successfully catch the cup before it broke or woke the other person in the room. The bright comforter reveals a shock of blonde hair, splayed out over the solid colored pillowcases. Replacing the cups on the tray, he pours out tea, and arranges the pastries carefully. Thinking to himself, for a plan of attack, he crawls on top of her, and begins to kiss her cheek.

Suddenly at once, the clocks on the mantle in the living room all go off at the same time, revealing a resonating barrage of bells and gongs that waft down the hall and into the bedroom. The face under the blanket stirs only slightly as it disappears underneath the comforter to avoid the kisses. Frustrated by his attempts, he walks over to the windows and draws up the curtains, bathing the entire room in light. The tea tray casts a reflection over the bed, with shadows outlining the cups plates and pot. The light only furthers the massing of blankets and pillows over the blonde head of hair. Finally, he resorts to a last measure of attack. Momentarily, the room is empty except for the sleeping person but the half naked man returns, with a record in hand. Placing it delicately on a turntable in a corner of the room, the speakers come to life with the crackle and pop of dust as the sounds of a slow jazz piece come to life. Climbing on top of the other person once more, he resumes the barrage of kisses and the face turns to him as their lips touch. A passionate exchange, he grabs her glasses and places them carefully on her face, bringing a smile as her world suddenly comes into focus.

She wraps a blanket around her shoulders for warmth as he leads her to the couch now warm from the morning sunlight. Gingerly, she begins to take a sip from the steaming cup of tea while he munched on a macaroon. They discuss plans for the day as the record then proceeds to the next song. This time, a lively uptempo solo prompts him to walk over to the machine and turn down the volume. They seem inseparable, brushing their teeth together, getting dressed together and assembling in the hall together. She asks him something and he nods in agreement. Locking the apartment door, they walk down together into the sunny street, the proprietor of the shop they live above begins to set up umbrellas for the lunch crowd soon to pack the shop front. At the corner, they part with a kiss as she walks towards the bus stop and him towards the grocery store.

The day goes by without seeing these two for awhile. The shop is packed for an hour or two with brightly flanneled and bearded people waiting for fresh made sandwiches and cuts of meat. The sounds of electric trolley buses running and the noise of San Francisco almost make the scene ordinary. The call of the vegetable seller at the corner shop, the honks of an impatient woman driver from San Bruno stuck behind a double parked taxi waiting for his fare and the talks about town of shows at the Warfield, Regency and Great American Music Hall. The ordinary scene is broken when the man arrives back home, arms laden with paper grocery bags filled to the brim with carefully picked vegetables and delicacies. Momentarily, he is gone, but returns to enter the butcher shop and picks out a decent sized side of meat. Soon after, she comes back as well, with an armful of small boxes and a potted plant on top. They go up the steps together and return to the little apartment.

Suddenly, the apartment is a blaze of motion. As the burners on the little viking stove come to life, pots and pans are rested, smeared with butter as garlic and onions are put on to simmer. The dressed up side of meat waits patiently on the counter, tied together with twine and seasoned to perfection. Meanwhile, the living room is cleaned up, the ashes swept up and discarded, books neatly arranged and magazines thrown into the magazine rack. The overstuffed chairs and couches are arranged around the fireplace and coffee table and new candles are brought out. In the dining room, the table is stretched out, the leaf brought in and several folding chairs now lean against the buffet on one side of the room. From the kitchen, the sounds of sizzling and the smells of herbs and spices begin to pollute the pantry and the dining room. The cardboard boxes reveal board games and these are placed on the coffee table in anticipation. While he cooks, she goes around setting the table, eight places in all. Satisfied, she enters the kitchen through the pantry in between the dining room and kitchen and wraps her arms around his torso. Smiling he turns around and kisses her tenderly. The moment is broken when again, all the clocks in the living room chime indicating that it was now five thirty.

The harsh buzz of the door buzzer is broken only by a crackly voice through an old fashioned call box. The door opens up to reveal the first couple to arrive, a tall bearded man with combed back hair and a chrome bag over his shoulder. His girlfriend, an equally tall redheaded girl sporting large glasses and a beanie leans in to give the blonde woman a hug. Again the buzzer rings again before the first couple can even get comfortable and the next group of people enter. This time, it's two guys, one with curly hair and a waxed mustache and the other clean shaven but sporting a bow tie and a vintage blazer. They both walk into the kitchen to talk to the man as the buzzer yet rings again. Two girls appear now, one short and slightly round but very pretty, the other about average but sporting the Bettie Page look. The both of them squeal as they see the blonde woman and come in for hugs. Soon, everyone is introducing themselves in the living room, smiling and exchanging words and glances.

Pretty soon, the dining room is filled with the smell of many varieties of food. Garlic butter onion noodles, the beef roast, a vegetable curry, pan fried onion cakes, fried rice, a tray of fish fillets, breaded and fried in oil and several loaves of fresh baked bread. As everyone sits down, all the guests suddenly produce a bottle wine they each had decided to bring. The couple pulls out a port as he explains to the host "for dessert." The two ladies had opted each to bring a bottle of white and red while the two gentlemen both opted for a bottle of red wine each. Soon, flat cylindrical Spanish wine glasses are brought out as all the bottles are opened and soon the entire group is talking, eating and between the group of two males and two females, a hint of flirting. As soon as the food is gone, the dessert is brought out, a gallon of homemade ice cream, a chocolate fondue pot and a variety platter of things to dip. The hostess jokingly remarks, "we should have bought a fountain instead." The bearded man pulls the cork from the bottle of port and begins to portion it out to the rest of the guests and before taking a sip, everyone toasts the host and hostess. Both of whom blush and kiss each other to congratulate them for a job well done.

As soon as the plates are put into the dishwasher, the group migrates to the living room where a fire is started in the fireplace and an iPod is hooked into the handmade goldwire speaker cabinet. A slow indie playlist comes on in the background as the board games are opened and a rabble of voices argue playfully over which games to play first. In honor of the group, they all choose Hipsteropoly and after several rounds, the game is set aside for team pictionary, the boys versus the girls. It wasn't exactly fair since the two guys who had come together were carving artists who worked at the print shop the host owned, but the ladies defended their ground quite well, even overtaking the guys team and eventually winning with the word Tumbler. Pretty soon, the furniture is scooted around and an impromptu dance party begins and more wine flows. Fearing his liquor cabinet might be raided, the host locks it up, but the hostess gives him that look, a sort of pouty, be nice and share look. Reluctantly, the bottle of absinthe and the brollieur are brought out and everyone in the party becomes distracted from dancing in the presence of ice water and sugar cubes.

The mass of clocks all begin to chime as everyone drunkenly turns towards the mantle, realizing the time and the necessity of sleeping in is mandatory, everyone begins to leave, the couple first indicating they have their bikes locked in the hallway. The other two groups, suddenly turning into two couples indicate they would share a cab. As soon as the last guest is gone, the furniture is rearranged back the way they were, the board games put away, the fire stoked out and the candles put out. The dishes are left to dry in the washer and the leftovers wrapped and stowed away in the fridge. She uses the bathroom first to shower while he arranges the bed, getting it ready for the night. They switch places as he uses the bathroom. Once everything is finished, they crawl under the covers and switch out the lamps and cuddle each other to sleep. They kiss one last time, "good night little boo." "Night night beau."