Thursday, 31 August 2006

Yesterday I did some­thing I haven’t done in a very long time. After work I sat down and read for six and a half hours. I should have con­tin­ued search­ing for jobs [cur­rently look­ing in Toronto] or worked on the re­design for Tremonter or read some Neighborhood Connections Grant Proposals or done some more hoof­work try­ing to find get a list of youth pro­gram­ming for the 2007 Cleveland Leadership Summit or even gone for a run or made din­ner or at least done the dishes or vac­u­umed. I cur­rently have no mo­ti­va­tion. I’ve been work­ing so hard at so many dif­fer­ent things for so long and still haven’t got­ten any­where [or so it ap­pears to me]. I’ve been look­ing for a new job for two years now and have had three and a half in­ter­views in that en­tire time. One of my cowork­ers, fresh out of col­lege, just got a new job mak­ing $6k more than I do.

There is ob­vi­ously some­thing wrong with how I search for jobs or my re­sume or my com­port­ment in the in­ter­view that wrecks me. I need to fig­ure out what that is, ex­actly, and fix it. Although be­ing pol­ished and the right fit for the job doesn’t mean the job is go­ing to be out there, in Cleveland at least. I need to fig­ure out what I want to do with my life and do it. Currently I’ve de­cided that when and if I ever get $4k saved I’ll just quit and move from Cleveland. It is hard to save that much when I still make un­der $29k af­ter nearly three years and one pro­mo­tion. Where will I go? I don’t know. What I’ll do when I get there? I don’t know. Wherever it is, it’ll have to have more op­por­tu­ni­ties for me than Cleveland does, that’s for cer­tain.

I love Tremont, I love the style of Cleveland and its en­ter­tain­ment scene, I love the peo­ple. I’ll con­tinue to do the best I can for the city un­til the day I leave. But I’m out. That’s the only mo­ti­va­tion I have to­day. Cleveland’s got every­thing I want in a city ex­cept for a good, chal­leng­ing and in­ter­est­ing job.

Grandma Berkshire

Wednesday, 30 August 2006

My grandma is one tough cookie. She grew up dur­ing The Great Depression, sent a hus­band off to World War II, raised 4 kids and beat lung can­cer. When I was lit­tle she was al­ways a bit more fright­en­ing to me than my grandpa and I still don’t know ex­actly why, she was only ever re­ally mad at me once, when I care­lessly tore a chunk out of a tree while mow­ing her yard.

I’d of­ten be over at my grandparent’s house dur­ing the sum­mer, es­pe­cially once I was old enough to be al­lowed to ride my bike the two miles to their place. Lunch was al­ways around 11:15 and din­ner around 4 or so. Grandma wasn’t too big on bak­ing or cook­ing like Donna Reed, but the food was al­ways good and there was al­ways enough to fill up on. I used to put Bugles on each fin­ger and eat them off one by one, or snack on Tater Skins. Sometimes when my cousins were vis­it­ing we’d be able to con­vince her to get a box of pizza rolls for us to share.

After grandpa died and my par­ents di­vorced I found my­self stuck with the job of be­ing the man of two houses. I would walk through the cemetary past my grandfather’s grave to get to her house. I re­sented this at first, I was in mid­dle school, start­ing high school and there were plenty of other things I would have rather done than clean gut­ters and mow the yard and trim trees at two dif­fer­ent houses. I got over this as my grandma got older and I grew older and into the re­al­iza­tion at just how much I was needed. Relatively, I wasn’t needed very much, but it was enough to speak to me. When I went off to col­lege the lit­tle chores would pile up un­til I came home on a break and I’d hear from my grandma how my mom was too busy to bother of­ten and from my mom how my grandma needed help so of­ten. [And I’ll get in trou­ble from both of them if they read this].

Grandma is nearly im­pos­si­ble to beat at scrab­ble and eu­chre [al­though she makes an ex­cel­lent part­ner at the lat­ter]. She also kicked cross­word ass when she still did them. A cou­ple of years ago she moved out from the house in Connersville and moved to Noblesville in a sort of re­tire­ment community/​assisted liv­ing sort of place, her em­phy­sema and poor eye­sight make it hard for her to do much. I don’t see her as of­ten as I used to, and I don’t even call as of­ten as I used to. I some­times won­der if she still gets joy from her life and fam­ily or if she is just wait­ing.

Refection Reflection

Tuesday, 29 August 2006

Since my li­brary books and Amazon or­der haven’t ar­rived yet I started reread­ing David Cooper’s Existentialism last night. I picked this up at a ta­ble in the fac­ulty build­ing at Notre Dame many years ago. This was a very cool ta­ble. Profs would drop what­ever books they no longer had a use for there for other profs [and pi­rat­i­cal stu­dents like my­self] to snatch. Unfortunately I didn’t find out about this ta­ble un­til my ju­nior year, thereby miss­ing two years of po­ten­tially awe­some li­brary build­ing.

In any case, apart from a few copies of The New Yorker whose cov­ers I cov­eted un­til I threw them out, this vol­ume is the only one I can ac­tu­ally be cer­tain came from the holy ta­ble. Coming as it did, post- my ex­is­ten­tial­ist phi­los­o­phy course, this book has served as a re­fresher since that day. Last night, the same sec­tion that al­ways catches my eye caught my eye last night in the same sec­tion. If you use Amazon’s Search Inside This Book fea­ture and go to page three you can read it for your­self and a bit more. I’ll still ex­cerpt the crit­i­cal point.

…to quote Kierkegaard again, ‘an ex­ist­ing in­di­vid­ual is al­ways in the process of be­com­ing.’ …no com­plete ac­count can be given of a hu­man be­ing with­out ref­er­ence to what he is in the process of be­com­ing. … “As Heidegger puts it, the hu­man be­ing is al­ways ‘ahead of him­self’, al­ways un­ter­wegs (“on the way”). …Unlike the stone, whose essence or na­ture is ‘given’, a person’s ex­is­tence, writes Ortega y Gasset ‘con­sists not in what it is al­ready, but what it is not yet…Existence…is the process of realizing…the as­pi­ra­tion we are.’

This is al­ways a good re­minder for me when I get frus­trated about the dif­fi­culty in re­al­iz­ing my as­pi­ra­tions. As long as I ex­ist, I’ll be in the process of be­com­ing some­thing new. Satisfaction and must arise from the jour­ney while mo­ti­va­tion must arise from the des­ti­na­tion, even if never reached. That’s al­most ex­actly the point of Camus’s The Myth of Sisyphus.

My ap­pli­ca­tion and un­der­stand­ing of this idea doesn’t bind fully to a pure ex­is­ten­tial­ism [which prob­a­bly doesn’t ex­ist], but it works well enough for me.

Yes, But What Goes Unsaid

Monday, 28 August 2006

I had a full and ex­cel­lent week­end, full of su­perla­tives. I had sushi at Pacific East be­cause Kimo’s was closed for the Indian’s game, watched A Murder of Crows by Mac Wellman at The Liminis and had a Pisco Sour and Bourbon Daisy at the VTR. A Murder of Crows [I’m prob­a­bly go­ing to go see it again to make sure] may very well be my new fa­vorite play. I didn’t re­ally have an old fa­vorite play, but this one fit right up my al­ley. I got a sweet ‘biner clip with built-in flash­light at the VTR too.

On Saturday I grilled some ke­babs from the WSM and made the most de­li­cious pork chop I’ve ever had. Yes, a few weeks ago I said the same thing, but this chop was bet­ter. Heirloom toma­toes and roasted corn on the cob com­pleted the meal. I also put­tered around Market Square and the City Xpressionz [God I hate typ­ing like I’m l33t] spray-paintathon.

Sunday I did my laun­dry and went to see Thee Silver Mt. Zion and BLKTYGR at the Grog Shop. Rafeeq & Co. put on the best show I’d seen from them and Thee Silver Mt. Zion made me think about the meld­ing of pol­i­tics and art. How all too of­ten art is used in the ser­vice of pol­i­tics in­stead of the other way ’round. Thee Silver does it the other way ’round and the mu­sic def­i­nitely ben­e­fits from it.

I should also men­tion that I made my first [and hope­fully last] visit to Crocker Park over the week­end. That place is the flag­ship of American deca­dence and moral bank­ruptcy. An en­closed sub­ur­ban “lifestyle cen­ter” [“mall” is too prole, ap­par­ently] de­signed to look ur­ban, com­plete with res­i­den­tial lofts above the big boxes, speak­ers vom­it­ing top-40 muzak from the ‘80s hid­den be­hind the care­ful land­scap­ing and the whole place made my skin crawl. Seriously. Suburban faux-ur­ban loft apart­ments above a rich-per­son-only mall where you can buy a park­ing space so you don’t have to walk as far to the stores. I didn’t see one non-white per­son the en­tire time I was there. WASP city. The place made my skin fuck­ing crawl. More on Little Citadels.

Passport and Tickets

Thursday, 24 August 2006

I got my pass­port and my Notre Dame foot­ball tick­ets in the mail yes­ter­day. I’ll be go­ing to the Penn State game with my un­cle, the same one who took me to my first ND game [and Lou Holtz’s last] as my 16th birth­day present. Tickets for Michigan, Purdue and UCLA also go to him, but I’ve got tick­ets for the Monogram game against Army to mark the tenth an­niver­sary of my first ND game.

The pass­port turn­around was much faster than I thought. Something like a month in­stead of 3 like I’d heard. Good thing too, be­cause Americans won’t be able to get back into the US from Canada with­out a pass­port start­ing January 12007.

Also re­ceived in the mail yes­ter­day: Finder.

I Keep Forgetting These Goddamn Titles

Monday, 21 August 2006

My high school buddy Phil came in this week­end for a visit. We did a tiny mu­sic odyssey, went to a show at The Church, the Rock Hall, and the Happy Dog. Even though this wasn’t the best week­end to see a band [no­body par­tic­u­larly big was play­ing] we still rocked out to noise on Friday and blue­grass on Saturday. Proving once again that no mat­ter what your mu­si­cal taste, there you’ll be able to find a place in Cleveland play­ing it.

Labels Redux

Friday, 18 August 2006

I’ve writ­ten about my re­sis­tance to la­bels sev­eral times. Yet af­ter The Shondes show the other night I found my­self think­ing in other paths. I was wear­ing my Don Hertzfeldt “Rejected” shirt, per­haps as a mostly un­con­scious as­so­ci­a­tion with the mean­ing of The Shondes and the fact that I was go­ing to a show full of per­form­ers who are mar­gin­al­ized. Yet in ret­ro­spect I feel that in my dis­dain of la­bels I might have ap­pro­pri­ated one that I have no right to.

I’m a Catholic white mid­dle-class straight male. I’m any­thing but a shonde, any­thing but re­jected [ex­cept when it comes to get­ting a new job]. In my la­bel-dis­dain I think I ne­glected to rec­og­nize that when peo­ple will­ingly la­bel them­selves [in con­trast to ac­cept­ing a la­bel] a sub­tle ex­change of power takes place. This is prob­a­bly right in there with the recla­ma­tion of “nig­ger” and “queer” which I’ve un­der­stood in the­ory but never in­ter­nal­ized.

By em­brac­ing the la­bel of a mar­ginal group a per­son gains grist for the grind­ing away of the mill­stone sta­tus quo. Because the ac­cep­tance of the la­bel is willed in­stead of en­forced, my old saw about how la­bels limit more than they spec­ify changes. The lim­i­ta­tion now be­comes fo­cused [like a laser beam, Andy] and strong enough to bal­ance the ex­change of power to those who don’t rec­og­nize this next bit. It is al­most like “Tom Hanks as Tom Hanks in Tom Hanks from Space”. By that I mean the la­bel-chooser re­tains all the power of la­bel­less hu­man­ity in ad­di­tion to the fo­cus pro­vided by their cho­sen la­bel; to those who un­der­stand the rea­son­ing be­hind their choice. So, for ex­am­ple, The Shondes are even more pow­er­ful than the peo­ple who have cast them out re­al­ize. By go­ing on mak­ing rock as “just folks” who hap­pen to use shonde-itude as a slap-back to so­ci­ety, they’re op­er­at­ing on a dif­fer­ent level.

For me, my dis­dain of la­bels is prob­a­bly caused by the fact that I am so mainstream/​majority. I have no need to adopt a la­bel be­cause, at a fun­da­men­tal, self­ish level, the world has al­ready set my plate the way I like it.