"Sailed not as a seaman, but as a traveler..."

"Sailed not as a seaman, but as a traveler..."- Sir Thomas More's Utopia

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Dirty, dirty diphthongs.

I'm a writer, kind of, among other things, somewhat.

Since deciding to drastically change my life, labels have become more and more difficult to apply to myself and to the people that I interact with. It drives me a little crazy sometimes, to not have a concrete idea of what it is I really am doing and what role people are playing in my life, but whenever that happens, I just tell my OCD to shut the hell up. Not everything needs an explanation. And now, before I go further down that tangent, into and through the looking glass, I wanted to clarify something. The origin of my blog's URL. The history of its label, if you will.

T'was a cold and foggy morning in San Francisco, CA. So cold in fact, that I decided that my usual 6AM Bikram Yoga session before work was just not humanly possible. As a result, I drove to work (I normally biked to Bikram to, you know, be more of a hippy, also, because I just love alliteration that much). So, as I was driving, I caught a very interesting segment on NPR. The entire radio show was about this woman who had published a collection of poems that she'd written as a means of therapy for overcoming her daughter being raped.

Yes, her daughter was raped and she wrote poems about it.

Do with that piece of information as you may. I will, however, tell you what I did. I sat in my parked car, waiting for the show to conclude because, fuck, I was late for work already anyway. And all I could think of was how useless this woman was. Her daughter was fucking molested and raped and all she did was write poems about "wilting blossoms" and other such meaningless metaphors. Something in my head just snapped.

When the show finally ended, I wanted to scream, but I couldn't because I was already late for work. So, I left my car, parked right off the Marina (one of the most beautiful places in San Francisco) and I headed to the office. While passing these well-groomed houses that would be estates if given an extra acre or two of land, my mind brooded over the little crack caused by the NPR segment it had just heard. I felt like there was something fundamentally wrong about the entire scene I was in. It was spring and the cherry blossoms had just started to bloom. It was also San Francisco, so the beautiful trees were delicately shrouded in an almost ephemeral kind of fog. I felt as though I were walking through a living metaphor. Something about truth and beauty being shrouded in our own shit accumulated through years of just moving through the motions. Something, something, something.

My mind returned to the NPR segment and all I could think of was, really? I just spent the last half hour listening to some woman read her poems about her daughter being raped. My biggest dilemma of the day thus far had been whether or not to skip Bikram. I felt so worthless, being lost in my own world as this larger universe continued to swirl in tempests around me.

When I got to the office, instead of working on whatever deadlines I had that day, I wrote down the words that bubbled up inside of me. The result was a poem of sorts. It was like automatic writing, my mind was vomiting out words. I read the resulting series of words over and over again, not really fully understanding what it all meant.

It took about another year before I finally worked up the courage to leave everything to try something new. When I decided to pack up and leave, I didn't really intend on documenting anything on a blog. Some close friends, however, convinced me of somehow cataloging my adventures and thoughts. And I am really glad that I listened and started this blog. Although, I obviously can't share everything, and, admittedly, I keep many things private, it's good for me to be able to look back at what I've done and what I've been through. Also, I like to think that you find my musings interesting or at the very least, amusing (ha, see what I did there?).

Anywho, before this drags on anymore, I named this blog DIPHTHONGS because 1) I am a nerd, 2) Phonetics and linguistics are awesome (this may be related to the first point), and 3) I took it from a line from the resulting piece I wrote after listening to that NPR segment. Also, because this blog is about changing my life and that's what diphthongs are, the sliding of a vowel sound to create something completely new. Ooh, nerdgasm.

Without further ado, here is that piece I wrote that has inspired the name of this blog:

Ode to Poetry

I want to hear a poem that refuses to be called a poem
I want words to hit me in the face
Screaming at soft spoken voices barely transmitting across
Radio waves
Where is that mad passion that drives insanity from inanimate
Implacable mediocrity
Swallowing up wallowing in melancholy every day
I want to feel syllables that battle for beats of resonance
Syntax that assassinate unneeded adverbs and or punctuation
Violently whirring onomatopoeia round and round in your ribs
Drumming your lungs for gasps of commas
Waging wars with
I want to see letters rising up like seas
The color of red herrings
Tainting the skies like rouge on a back-alley hooker
Back-handing panhandlers
Where is that sultry sweat of stink
Squeezed through the sieves of synonyms
For danger
I want poems that hate poetry
Of unrequited love
Nothing but words for unrequited want
Of life
Of rumbles of desirous things and eloquence in hearsay
Of utterances of strife
I want poems that explode from your teeth brandishing
Diphthongs like daggers
Hissing like a volcano unleashing its wrath with beautiful abandon
Trading stillborn sentences for staccato rhythms that refuse
To follow iambic pentameter
And rather than be forgotten implode into a black-hole
From which nascent stars can create new constellations
I want a poem that refuses to lie down and die
Full of words that shake your stoic earth like tremors threatening
The cities you have built

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Rhinos, schizophrenic ghosts, and modeling.

Image: Hanging with some family at the 4th largest mall in the world (according to Forbes).

So how do I followup with a three-month hiatus? With a four-month hiatus! That's the secret to success, people. Always outdo yourself. Always.

So, what have I been up to? I haven't done one of these highlights list in a while, so I guess this would be the perfect opportunity. Here goes (in somewhat chronological order):

- As per previous post, I was the editor of a magazine. Which was just... Crazy.

- I was on television and radio. Seriously. I have proof.

- Got into another bar brawl and almost got stranded at the local jail.

- My netbook was stolen by some drug addicts (seriously, unfortunately).

- Was about to get a tattoo of the closing line of Ionesco's Rhinoceros which reads, "Je ne capitule pas!" But as I was about to get prepped, the entire city went into a blackout. Yeah, so I just went out and got drunk instead.

- In a quarter-life crisis induced frenzy, I applied to a grad school in Spain. I think I got in. I might need to brush up on my Español.

- In the cortisol induced stupor proceeding the aforementioned quarter-life crisis, I turned off all of my electronics and hibernated-slash-meditated for an entire week. Some friends thought I died and in gentlemanly fashion, went to the nearest pub to toast my beautiful life. Live fast. Die young. Cheers!

- After hearing about their awesome night at the pub, I wrote a story about a guy who fakes his own death just to see who goes to his funeral but then, gasp, it turns out he really is dead and is just a ghost with schizophrenic tendencies! Then I slapped myself for making up such garbage.

- My mother came to the islands to try to bring me back to America. I said no. She gave me an iPad. It was an interesting exchange.

- I discovered twitter and now my insomnia is worse.

- I grew a tail.

- Previously mentioned friends (who toasted my assumed death) decided to throw me a birthday bash. I was a total ass and didn't show up. My neuroses don't allow me the luxury of friends. Apparently.

- Bumped into some folk I met last year on a boat headed for Bali. Small world.

- Discovered Hipsterville, Philippines. It's like Brooklyn but in a jungle.

- Went to a party on a farm on a mountain. It was hot and sticky and I got diarrhea.

- Went on a road trip to Vigan and discovered a 300 year old mansion that's been beautifully restored and is now a luxury hotel. My travel companion and I were asked to model for their promotion materials (I'll post the shots as soon as I get them, maybe). They paid us in wine.

- Currently planning my escape from this archipelago to search for some adventures in Australia. Also, koalas.

One of the highlights above is complete fiction. I mean, SRSLY guys, I'm crazy but not crazy crazy. Have fun guessing which item is made up!