Friday, February 27, 2009

The Mediterranean.

Italy in a nutshell.
One of my favorite photos - taken by one of my lovely traveling buddies, Jenny Cartmell, in Arezzo.

If I had to pick an area to concentrate on (say, in grad school), it would be the Mediterranean. 
And not just because I love love love love love the lifestyle and am craving summer's heat and miss Italy...Man, I am dying to travel.
But the seemingly impossible problem of the Neopolitan mafia fascinates me. How a developed, EU country like Italy can have a rampant problem like this. How mundane things like waste management are huge in reality, especially when privately controlled - by the mafia. The source of my wonderment: I just finished reading Gomorrah - and am now deciding if I have the guts to sit through the film. 
Then there is the civil unrest in Greece.
The unique potential of Algeria.
The question of Turkey's admission to the EU.
And the kid in my class who just got married in Morocco. Uh, cool!

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Bits of the mind's string too short to use, an indiscriminate and erratic assemblage with meaning only for its maker.

Joan Didion - arguably the writer-journalist I would most want to write like.
I used to admire Hunter S. Thompson's particular brand more. But my own character is so opposite of his, I no longer find it appealing - though no less enjoyable.

While reading Slouching Towards Bethlehem, I came across one of her essays and was floored by her honesty. So honest, I found she literally knew me better than I knew myself:

So, Joan Didion's "On Keeping a Notebook" (paraphrased a bit for time's sake):

The impulse to write things down is a peculiarly compulsive one, inexplicable to those who do not share it, useful only accidentally, only secondarily, in the way that any compulsion tries to justify itself. I suppose  that it begins or does not begin in the cradle. Although I have felt compelled to write things down since I was five years old, I doubt that my daughter ever will, for she is a singularly blessed and accepting child, delighted with life exactly as life presents itself to her, unafraid to go to sleep and unafraid to wake up. Keepers of private notebooks are a different breed altogether, lonely and resistant rearrangers of things, anxious malcontents, children afflicted apparently at birth with some presentiment of loss.
My first notebook was a Big Five tablet, given to me by my mother with the sensible suggestion that I stop whining and learn to amuse myself by writing down my thoughts. She returned the tablet to me a few years ago; the first entry is an account of a woman who believed herself to be freezing to death in the Artic night, only to find, when day broke, that she had stumbled onto the Sahara Desert, where she would die of the heat before lunch.
So the point of my keeping a notebook has never been, nor is it now, to have an accurate factual record of what I have been doing or thinking. That would be a different impulse entirely, an instinct for reality which I sometimes envy but do not possess. At no point have I ever been able successfully to keep a diary; my approach to daily life ranges from the grossly negligent to the merely absent, and on those few occasions when I have tried dutifully to record a days events, boredom has so overcome me that the results are mysterious at best.
In fact I have abandoned altogether that kind of pointless entry; instead I tell what some would call lies. The cracked crab that I recall having for lunch the day my father came home from Detroit in 1945 must certainly be embroidery, worked into the day's pattern to lend verisimilitude; I was ten years old and would not now remember the cracked crab. The day's events did not turn on the cracked crab. And yet it is precisely that fictitious crab that makes me see the afternoon all over again, a home movie run all too often, the father bearing gifts, the child weeping, an exercise in family love and guilt. Or that is what it was to me. Similarly, perhaps it never did snow that August in Vermont; perhaps there never were flurries in the night wind, and maybe no one else felt the ground hardening and summer already dead even as we pretended to bask in it, but that was how it felt to me, and it might as well have snowed, could have snowed, did snow.
How it felt to me: that is getting closer to the truth about a notebook. I sometimes delude myself about why I keep a notebook, imagine that some thrifty virtue derives from preserving everything observed. See enough and write it down, I tell myself, and then some morning when the world seems drained of wonder, some day when I am only going through the motions of doing what I am supposed to do, which is write - on that bankrupt morning I will simply open my notebook and there it all will be, a forgotten account with accumulated interest, paid passage back to the world out there: dialogue overheard in hotels and elevators and at the hatcheck counter at the Pavilion, aperfus about tennis bums and failed fashion models and Greek shipping heiresses, one of whom taught me a significant lesson (a lesson I could have learned from F. Scott Fitzgerald, but perhaps we all must meet the very rich for ourselves) by asking, when I arrived to interview her in her orchid-filled sitting room on the second day of a paralyzing New York blizzard, whether it was snowing outside.
I imagine, in other words, that the notebook is about other people. But of course it is not. Remember what it was to be me: that is always the point.
It is a difficult point to admit. We are brought up in the ethic that others, any others, all others, are by definition more interesting than ourselves; taught to be diffident, just this side of self-effacing. Only the very young and the very old may recount their dreams at breakfast, dwell upon self, interrupt with memories of beach picnics and favorite Liberty lawn dresses and the rainbow trout in a creek near Colorado Springs. The rest of us are expected, rightly, to affect absorption in other people's favorite dresses, other people's trout.
And so we do. But our notebooks give us away, for however dutifully we record what we see around us, the common denominator of all we see is always "I." 
"He was born the night the Titanic went down." That seems a nice enough line, and I even recall who said it, but is it not really a better line in life than it could ever be in fiction?
But of course that is exactly it: not that I should ever use the line, but that I should remember the woman who said it and the afternoon I heard it.
It all comes back. Perhaps it is difficult to see the value in having one's self back in that kind of mood, but I do see it; I think we are well advised to keep in nodding terms with the people we used to be, whether we find them attractive company or not. Otherwise they turn up unannounced and surprise us, come hammering on the mind's door at 4 a.m. of a bad night and demand to know who deserted them, who betrayed them, who is going to make amends. We forget all too soon the things we thought we could never forget. We forget the loves and the betrayals alike, forget what we whispered and what we screamed, forget who we were. I have already lost touch with a couple of people I used to be; one of them, a seventeen-year-old, presents little threat, although it would be of some interest to me to know again what it feels like to sit on a river levee drinking vodka-and-orange-juice and listening to Les Paul and Mary Ford and their echoes sing "How High the Moon" on the car radio. The other one, a twenty-three-year-old, bothers me more. She was always a good deal of trouble, and I suspect she will reappear when I least want to see her, skirts too long, shy to the point of aggravation, always the injured party, full of recriminations and little hurts and stories I do not want to hear again, at once saddening me and angering me with her vulnerability and ignorance, an apparition all the more insistent for being so long banished.
It is a good idea, then, to keep in touch, and I suppose that keeping in touch is what notebooks are all about. And we are all on our own when it comes to keeping those lines open to ourselves: your notebook will never help me, nor mine you. "So what's new in the whiskey business!" What could that possibly mean to you? To me it means a blonde in a Pucci bathing suit sitting with a couple of fat men by the pool at the Beverly Hills Hotel. Another man approaches , and they all regard one another in silence for awhile. "So what's new in the whiskey business?" one of the fat men finally says by way of welcome, and the blonde stands up, arches one foot and dips it in the pool, looking all the while at the cabana where Baby Pignatari is talking on the telephone. That is all there is to that, except that several years later I saw the blonde coming out of Saks Fifth Avenue in New York with her California complexion and a voluminous mink coat. In the harsh wind that day she looked old and irrevocably tired to me, and there is the point of the story. For a while after that I did not like to look in the mirror, and my eyes would skim the newspapers and pick out only the deaths, the cancer victims, the premature coronaries, the suicides, and I stopped riding the Lexington Avenue IRT because I noticed for the first time that all the strangers I had seen for years - the man with the seeing-eye dog, the spinster who read the classified pages every day, the fat girl who always got off at Grand Central - looked older than they once had.
It all comes back. Even that recipe for sauerkraut: even that brings me back. I was on Fire Island when I first made that sauerkraut, and it was raining, and we drank a lot of bourbon and ate the sauerkraut and went to bed at ten, and I listened to the rain and the Atlantic and felt safe. I made the sauerkraut again last night and it did not make me feel any safer, but that is, as they say, another story.

Story, telling.

Neutral Milk Hotel: Holland, 1945 she's a little boy in Spain, playing pianos filled with flames...

So, I heard this song and immediately paired it with The Piano Lesson by Matisse. 

Sasha and Malia.

You've just gotta wonder what it's like...

The Academy Awards.

...I just think Dev Patel seems so genuinely kind.

I weirdly love award show season, even though in all reality the entire concept is ridiculous.

Maybe it's the glamour.
Or Kate Winslet finally getting a much deserved Oscar. She is brilliant.
Or Penelope Cruz getting one too. As my cousin says, she is a goddess.
Or MILK shoving it in Prop 8 voters face - at least for a few hours of TV time.
Or Robert Pattinson presenting.
Or Man On Wire winning.
Or infectiously cheering for Slumdog Millionaire.

...and getting to see Tina Fey and Beyonce as much as possible is icing on the cake.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

The Swagger of a College Kid.

It's been the week of midterms for me. Last one tomorrow.
And instead of stress, I'm feeling nostalgic.

There's just something about schlepping to the library that I love. I totally go out of my way to appear studious with my contacts out and glasses on, over sized sweaters and hair piled into a messy bun on the top of my head. 
I head for a table meant for four to five people and claim the whole thing by sprawling my stuff across it: highlighters, water bottle, laptop, charger, cell phone, notebook, newspapers, 3X5 notecards, books, Pride and Prejudice soundtrack, pens, snacks, coffee...whatever it takes to immerse in a subject.
My ideas and imagery of what college would be like came from watching sweater-clad Keri Russell study for finals and navigate New York City in Felicity. I was in middle school at the time, but now, with three months left, I don't think I've ever shaken that ideal: here I am writing a 20-page paper at the library and drinking my third cup of coffee, the definitive college student. 

Most of the time, I'm really ready to graduate.
(I'm reading Ralph Waldo Emerson's Self Reliance and am so excited to just "get out there!" and "do stuff!")
Until I realize time is running out on the things I love to hate, like living with 83 other girls or studying all night in the creepy, antiquated, eerie silence of the Great Reading Room. 
I plan to enjoy these undergrad-specific things to the fullest in the coming months - knowing full well they're beautiful because of their time limit.
But it's hard not to shake the feeling that these are things I've come to define myself by.

Recently - as in, I was informed of this only two days ago - my Dad moved from his job as an attorney at a private law firm to an attorney employed by the Oklahoma government. 
And while this job is a much better fit for him and I've always known he was dying to make the change, it still threw me for a loop.
I realized how much I had defined my Dad by his daily suits and ties and the black glass building in downtown Oklahoma City housing his office with the free Coke machine that requires a long elevator ride up to get to and a secretary's greeting at the front.

Good thing I saw Confessions of a Shop-a-holic amidst an economic crisis. Moral of the story: it's important not let the external define you. Gucci purses, business suits and nerd glasses included.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009


...a sign Kori and I saw in Austin.

A heartwarming video to watch...

(Moral is: It'll be okay).

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Happy Valentines Day, Every Day The Fourteenth. (Outkast).

                                               ...via LeLove.

Embrace it.

Listening to...
Ice Cream, Sarah McLachlan.
I'll Believe In Anything, Wolf Parade.


June Parry. Grandmother is my ultimate inspirational figure.

Has literally traveled everywhere - India, Turkey, China, Russia, Nepal (climbed to a base camp of Mt. Everest no less), Western Europe, Egypt, rafting the Colorado River, Peru...
Owns a pair of Salvador Ferragamo heels in every color and is, even in her 70s, the best dressed, most stylish and elegant person in the room.
Quality Over Quantity. Her taste is impeccable.
Eats blueberries every day.
Cultured beyond belief, taking us to every museum opening, ballet and orchestral event that comes to Oklahoma.
Life-long learner. Currently taking classes on the weather and classical literature.
Loves books on history.
A professional at all of the following: piano, nursing, tennis, rock climbing, skiing and bridge.
A prolific listener of classical music, she also love, love, loves Patsy Cline.
Sends me letters.
The most generous of spirits.

Watching my Grandpa's old movies of when my mom was about 4 or 5 and they still lived in upstate New York, I got to glimpse a black and white moment that encapsulates her character:

They lived in snow-covered upstate New York at the time and the kids are sledding in the backyard. Then my Grandmother, in this gorgeous outfit with old Hollywood hair and makeup, gets down in the snow on her hands and knees to sled with her husband and three children.

Friday, February 13, 2009

My Music.

Favorite Songs, Bar None:

Atlantic City. Bruce Springsteen. 

Layla. Eric Clapton. 
I'll take the electric or acoustic. Classic "my sisters and I used to dance on Dad's feet to this" song - every little girl should have one of those. 

Half Acre. Hem. 
I will walk down the aisle to this.

Bruised. The Bens (Ben Folds, Lee and Kweller). 
I could have made it to the moon and back again on the amount of times I've listened to this song.

The River's Gonna Run. Buddy and Julie Miller. 
Sends shivers up my spine.

Moon River. Frank Sinatra.
For perfect moments.

Catform. Rogue Wave.

Sweet Thing. Van Morrison.
Favorite lyrics:
And I will drink the clean, clear water for to quench my thirst
And I shall drive my chariot down your streets and cry, hey, its me, I'm dynamite and I don't know why

Other Favorites:

4th of July, Asbury Park, Bruce Springsteen
Brings the scene to life.
The River, Bruce Springsteen
Beautiful. Sad.
Born To Run, Bruce Springsteen
I am constantly yearning to be freer...I am constantly hungry. Not really sure how to describe that feeling, but this song does it perfectly.
Born in the USA, Bruce Springsteen
The reverberation in his voice on this...Plus, Meg hates that I love this song.

Fields of Gold. Sting.

Crystal Village. Pete Yorn.
This is my European traveling song - earphones in, listening on a bus, plane or train with your head leaning against the window.

Wonderful Tonight. Eric Clapton. 

Radiohead. Go To Sleep. 
The intro is perfection on Earth.

Hurt. Johnny Cash.

Sondre Lerche. Counter Spark.

The Animals. House of the Rising Sun.
Haunting. Ambiguous lyrics that allow me to create multiple story lines. When my Dad was in college his roommate listened to this 24/7, so the song gives him horrible flashbacks. 

Rusted Root. Send Me On My Way. 
Joyful. For some reason, this song makes me excited to have fun with my own children someday. 

Lucifer. Jay-Z. 
I'm blown away every time.

Jolene. Dolly Parton.
Coat of Many Colors. Dolly Parton.
My favorite voice in all of music-dom.

Anthems for a Seventeen Year Old Girl. Broken Social Scene. 

Broken Arrow. Rod Stewart.
I blame my Mom for overexposing me to Rod.

Better Be Good To Me. Tina Turner.
Again, my Mom's influence. Tina had to make this list.

Hallelujah. Jeff Buckley.
I'm not a big fan of Jeff Buckley's voice in general for some reason, but this song is genius.

Roxanne. The Police.

Werewolves of London. Warren Zevon.

Kate. Ben Folds Five.
Because everyone needs a song that feels dedicated to them.

All These Things That I've Done. The Killers.
What's better than the surprise of, I've got soul but I'm not a soldier.

Wonderwall. Oasis.

I Want You To Want Me. Cheap Trick.

Senorita. Justin Timberlake.
I love the call and answer part.

L'estasi dell'oro. Ennio Morricon.

Rocky Mountain High. John Denver.
Play it when you're in the Colorado mountains and it lifts your soul up.

Wandering. Ben Folds.
For the piano solo.

Learning to Fly. Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers.
Mary Jane's Last Dance. Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers.
Free Falling. Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers.
Because they never ever fail to put me in a better mood.

Pretty Good Year. Tori Amos.
Cornflake Girl. Tori Amos.

Lay, Lady, Lay. Bob Dylan.

Paperback Writer. The Beatles.

Dear Catastrophe Waitress. Belle and Sebastian.

Rag Doll. Aerosmith.
I just love its rockstar cheesiness.

Don't Stop Believin'. Journey.

Summertime. Janis Joplin.
The energy she put into her music is insane.

Nina Simone. Sinnerman.
Before her time.

Favorite Albums, meaning every song is as great as the next:

Blue. Joni Mitchell.

Blood On The Tracks. Bob Dylan.

Graceland. Paul Simon.

American Water. Silver Jews.

Room for Squares. John Mayer.

Summer Teeth. Wilco.
Yankee Hotel Foxtrot. Wilco.
A Ghost is Born. Wilco.

White Ladder. David Gray.

How to Grow a Woman From the Ground. Chris Thile.

Punch. Punch Brothers.

Tapestry. CAROLE KING.
Every song on this album is a famous, sing-it-in-your-sleep hit.

Funeral. The Arcade Fire.

Songs For Christmas. Sufjan Stevens.
Come On Feel The Illinoise! Sufjan Stevens.

Gimme Fiction. Spoon.
Kill the Moonlight. Spoon.
I love their sound.

The Reminder. Feist.

Trio II. Dolly Parton, Lucinda Williams and Emmylou Harris.
Seriously killer combination.

Favorite concert experiences:

Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers.
In the pouring rain, Austin City Limits.

Austin City Limits.

Arcade Fire.
Both times, Austin City Limits.

Norah Jones.
She has so much soul-it transcended the Ford Center.

Dashboard Confessional.
Because I was with my best friends. And Martin drove us down. And we visited the best 7-11 in the world afterward.

Right now, songs:

Sex on Fire. Kings of Leon.

Black River Killer. Blitzen Trapper.

Let It Rock. Kevin Rudolf and Lil Wayne.
Mostly because I love OU Basketball right now.

Right now, albums:

For Emma, Forever Ago. Bon Iver.

Santagold. Santagold.

Slumdog Millionare Soundtrack.

Note: Trying to describe music that you just absolutely is impossible. I feel like I failed miserably.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Birthdays are a BIG DEAL.

Whitney Caldwell, aka Mate:

Roommates in the Theta house through four consecutive semesters and three awesome rooms. Not living with her next year...unimaginable. Nope, I literally can't even think about it. 

Together, we have our own way of doing things. For instance, spending a restless Thursday night biking to two separate locations for the unbeatable combination of a cupcake and a beer on the patio.
And to have someone in your life that just gets you, I wouldn't trade it for the world.

I could use 3,000 adjectives to match the 3,000 inside jokes, but I'll limit myself to five.

So unbelievably cute in everything she does.

So, in summation:
Happy 22nd Birthday to my inspiring South African social worker!

Quote 2.

...not sufficiently conscience of being a "Future Wife and Mother" in perpetual capital letters. And girls who had never been kissed, with shocked expressions on their plain but not particularly wholesome faces...these girls had gone east or west or south, married and become "people," prophesying that she would come to a bad end - not knowing that no endings are bad, and that they, like her, were by no means the mistresses of their destinies.

F. Scott Fitzgerald, The Beautiful and the Damned

Quote 1.

A universe of ineffable gaudiness spun itself out in his brain while the clock ticked on the wash-stand and the moon soaked with wet light his tangled clothes upon the floor. Each night he added to the pattern of his fancies until drowsiness closed down upon some vivid scene with an oblivious embrace. For a while these reveries provided an outlet for his imagination; they were a satisfactory hint of the unreality of reality, a promise that the rock of the world was founded securely on a fairy's wing.

F. Scott Fitzgerald, The Great Gatsby

Sunday, February 8, 2009


I love following Chris Thile's career, no matter the name the music's being played under. 
He's so talented it makes me ache.

Art, Life.

The moment I saw Van Gogh's Bedroom in Arles on a projector slide in an Art History class my freshmen year - it's been my favorite work of art. I just sort of fell in love with the tilt of the wall, the tint of the floor and the domestic scene paired with Van Gogh's signature, psychological brushstrokes.
This past summer I got to see it in person when an Impressionism exhibit came to the Fort Worth Museum of Art.
And I don't think you can top that, seeing a work of art you really just love for no academic reason up close and in person.

One time in London's Tate Modern, Meg and I sat in a dimly-lit room full of Rothko paintings and I swear feelings pulsed out of the canvases.

And this summer, Caravaggio's frescoes in Rome's Contarelli Chapel of San Luigi dei Francesi Church reawakened my dormant spirituality.

I've been brought up in a family that surrounded and encouraged me with art, making it alive - from my Grandmother's 100-pound coffee table book filled with gorgeous, gold Klimt to my mom's Frank Lloyd Wright architectural roadtrips and elementary school art lessons.
So I guess I've been raised to believe experiencing art is important and impactful.

And I just watched Vicky Cristina Barcelona (highly recommend it) and it's inspired my new life goal: see Gaudi's spectacularly surreal Sagrada Famalia Church in person. 

Keep dreaming.

Saturday, February 7, 2009

Hey, Rich Girls.

My Uncle Richard loves to debate politics with me through email. 
And it's usually pretty enjoyable, because we both consider ourselves open-minded, though he leans to the right and I'm definitely on the left. 
But lately I've gotten unbearable emails concerning the economic stimulus package - see the cartoon above.

My response:

Riiiight. In times of economic crisis and severe job loss, it's best to deny food stamps and health care so people have no way of getting back on their feet.

So what's the Conservative solution?
I mean, besides government not getting involved in any way, shape or form. (Hello toxic assets).
And definitely no spending.
Well, unless it's a HORRIBLY ILL-CONCEIVED war. Right? Then you're willing to fork out billions and billions.

I'm just saying...a Conservative administration was in control for the past eight years.
Now it's our turn. Give it a chance.


P.S. The more economic classes I take, the more I understand where you're coming from.

And on the subject of economic crisis...
I can't stop listening to Rich Girls by The Virgins.