Thursday, April 30, 2009

Afternoon

I met up with Marie in the park this afternoon. She said she might need a new pair of Plimsolls, but I told her I like the worn out ones she has.

We walked past the dog park and found ourselves smiling at this pair.

We were baffled with the beauty and the size of a pair of well-trained Great Danes - or at least that's what I presumed they were, but I really wouldn't know. "They move like horses", Marie observed.

The "20 lbs or less" dogs have a world of their own, it seems. They were all intertwined into a furry little ball.

We settled on a bench in the middle of the park, right by the big tree, and before we knew it two guys showed up and hugged it and did a ceremonial walk around it. When we asked one of them what it was all about, he told us he was a Hare Krishna devotee, and that the tree was planted by the guy who brought the movement to the United States. "That's why it always has flowers attached to it", he explained.

We had Penne All'arrabiata for lunch. One with basil in it, because I had a whole bunch of fresh leaves in the fridge.

The Sweetest Gift of All

Am I the luckiest or what? This morning I awoke to find an email from Johan saying that this big ass printer is on its way to my house. It can print up to A3+, and the quality of the prints are 5000 x 1400 DPI - I'm not going to pretend I really know what the latter means besides implying that my prints are going to be in a most superior quality.

Is he the sweetest or what? And he knows that I'm so weird when it comes to receiving gifts and that I even tend to feel stressed (mental issues, hurrah!) if I receive something I don't really feel I need. And what does he do but go out and send me the one thing I've been admiring when I visit him in London, along with the note that I will now be able to make collages with images in a much finer quality than before.




















Now all I need to do is learn how to use InDesign and grasp things like three-dimensionality and perspective so I can use my new printer to print out beautiful things like Johan's layouts and illustrations below.
























Hmmm, just as I published this, it dawned on me that Johan has probably done none of the projects above using InDesign. Seeing they're all photographs of actual models. Like, stuff he made, that you can, like, touch. Impressive.

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

hundred

I thought I would go along with the media frenzy and acknowledge Obama's one hundredth day as president of the United States, although I have to say it struck me as a bit arbitrary, and was surprised that even the White House decided to host a "100 Days Press Conference". I mean, why 100 and not a quarter of a year or something?

I'm sure there is an historical explanation for this, but be that as it may, as I sat there watching him on C-Span this evening, being so sensible, reasonable and cool, I couldn't help but feel a tremendous amount of relief that it all worked out the way it did on that beautiful fall evening of November 4.

I was looking for a cool picture of him online to company this post, and in a bout of nostalgia wound up going trough all my photos from when Marie and I went to D.C. and Virgina for his last rally.

So, I decided I might as well use my own pics to congratulate the mister.


I'm "small americano"!!!

Wow! The joy I'm feeling this very moment is positively indescribable!!! And I must share, simple as that!

This morning I went down to Ninth Street Espresso, stood in line, and as it became my turn to order, the barista at the register raised his arms into the air and declared: "You're back! Where you been?!"

Of course this made me giggle like a school girl, flush a little too, especially as my old barista crush was standing there right next to him sipping some kind of beverage, his tattoos showing, his hair a little scruffy.

"I was in Brooklyn"", I answered. Giggled some more.
We been like, 'where is 'small americano?'", he said, and my old barista crush snickered.

"Oh", I said. "So what, am I like the joke around here?"

"No-no", he answered. "But you were like gone for a week!"

This is when a friend of theirs, sitting next to them drinking coffee, chipped in and said: "You gotta remember these guys are high on caffeine, they've been downing espressos since 7 this morning".

We all laughed, haha.


"So what were you doing in Brooklyn?", the register barista asked. "'Cos you live around here, right?"

"Yeah", I said. "I live right around the corner. But I was babysitting the dog of some friends of mine."

And they didn't leave it at that. No no, siree! They asked how the dog sitting had been, which area of Brooklyn I had temporarily resided in, what dog it was, and what a Finnish laphound looks like.

My my. I'm telling you I was floating on air as I left the shop, thinking how much I love Americans and their ability to make you feel recognized in the doings of your everyday life.

And I can't wait to tell my boss either. He was the one who completely destroyed my belief that my baristas might have taken genuine notice of me by saying: "Sarah, they only flirt with you to get better tips".

Tsk tsk, tips, my ass. I'm "small americano". I'm sure they don't have nicknames for just anyone.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Home! ...Alone.

Amen, it's good to be back! My room is clean and tidy, the fridge is full and organized, and I have clean linens on my bed (to which Johan commented: "But you hate clean linens?" And he's right, I somewhat do. But if you consider it as a package deal, it's kind of nice that everything is spic and span, I think).

The only thing missing is my man. Matteo is gone, you see, off to Mexico City to report on the Swine Flu. And what's worse, he doesn't know when he will be back. He's on a one-way ticket.

And I'm guessing he'll be put in a quarantine with the rest of his crew too once they all decide to come back.

Whimper whimper whine....tomorrow I'm going to FedEx to ship him a good-sized lasagna.

What is this....supposed to mean?

After one week with Lux, I find that he and I have come to understand each other, if not fully, then at least a little better. A turning point happened late on Sunday as we went for a midnight "pee and poop". Lux grabbed hold of a stick and sat down with it, and I in turn grabbed the other end of it and started to pull it in the direction we were going.

But then he decided to pull back.
And I pulled back in turn.
As did he.
As did I once again.

Then he jumped up and looked me deep in the eye and said: "Wait a minute, you like sticks too?!! And for all this time you haven't said anything?!!"

And that was when we both began to run down the street like two merry retards, our hair flowing in the evening breeze, each of us holding on to a branch about 12 inches long.
Connection. Like, not just physically, but, like, emotionally. BIG TIME!

Which is why I felt a tad surprised this morning when I woke up and found dirt all over the bathroom floor. Dirt and traces of dog paws. In the spot where Lux prefers to sleep. And I felt even more surprised when I stepped into the garden and found a huge hole dug in one corner, right next to the fence.

Lux had stepped outside with me, and stood next to me contemplating it as well.

"What is this?", I asked. "Land art?!
He didn't answer.
"Were you trying to escape or something?", I continued. "Is having me around the house so bad you decided to dig your own grave? What is this supposed to mean?!!"

That's when Lux got into the hole he had dug for himself, the corners of it forming a perfect little cocoon around his furry self.

"What do you want from me?", he asked after a while. "I'm a dog, I was bored, and that's all there is too it. Can't we just be happy that I'm finding use for it now?"

Such a sneaky fellow. I remembered later that he had woken me up at 6 a.m., asking to go outside. And because it was so warm already and because I wasn't thinking straight yet, I figured I could just leave the door open and let him come inside again when he pleased.
Bad call.

Monday, April 27, 2009

Give Free Sake

Imagine if this is intentional. That when you sit there with two empty beer bottles before you, waiting for your freebie to arrive, then a waitress steps up and says: "Alright, now you give free sake".

Alter Egoes

There are moments when you can't but wonder if you may have a handful of alter egos, whose doings and daily lives you remain oblivious to.

Like today, for example, when I found this miniature-sized harmonica in the pocket of a dress, which I haven't worn for a year or so. I have no clue as to how it got there.

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Celebrity Spotting!!!

Oh my, were Lux and I excited when we made my first celebrity spotting this evening - and I emphasize it was my first, 'cos obviously Lux, being a Boerum Hill ol' timer and all, has seen many a famous face throughout the many (dog)years he's spent walking down the shopping strips of this hood. In fact, rumor has it that he was once petted by none less than Matilda Williams, who, for those of you who ain't in the know, is the child of Michelle Williams and the late Heath Ledger. Shhhh!

Anyhow, who did I see but Hope Davis! I really like her, in fact, and she looked so chill and simple-pimple walking down the street with her husband and kids in tow that I almost mistook her for an old colleague from New York University Library.

Board of Education. Slanting.

Deli

Jesus


Full-sized even.

Neighborhood Watch




Hydration

What healthy might look like

Yesterday I wound up discussing Body Integrity Identity Disorder with Matteo and Johan Mau, the peculiar "psychological feeling that one would be happier living life as an amputee", which is "usually, if not always accompanied by the desire to amputate one or more healthy limbs in order to enact that desire."

According to wikipedia "The exact causes for BIID are unknown. However, some experts have put forward theories as to why some people suffer from this illness. One theory states that a child, upon seeing an amputee, may imprint his or her psyche, and the child adopts this body image as an "ideal". Another popular theory suggests that a child who feels unloved may believe that becoming an amputee will attract the sympathy and love he or she needs. The biological theory is that BIID is a neuro-psychological condition in which there is an anomaly in the cerebral cortex relating to the limbs; cf. Proprioception. If the condition was neurological, it could be conceptualized as a congenital form of somatoparaphrenia, a condition that often follows a stroke afflicting the parietal lobe. Since the right side of the inferior-parietal lobule, which is directly related with proprioception, is significantly smaller in men than women, a malfunction of this area could potentially explain not only why men are much more likely to have BIID, but also why the requests for amputations are most often of the left-side limbs (the right side of the brain controls the left side of the body and vice versa)."


Matteo and Johan Mau weren't advocates of the biological theory and thus both found Body Integrity Identity Disorder to be the symptom of a mental disorder, and thus not something that should ever be treated surgically.

From there, their opinions diverted a little, I guess, insofar that Johan Mau accentuated that accommodating the amputation of someone suffering from BIID should never be at the expense of society at large, whereas Matteo accentuated that society at large has a responsibility to meddle when someone suffers from a disorder that may put their own life at danger.

Feel free to correct me guys, if you find that I am not doing your arguments or stories justice, but this is what I remember most clearly from our late night talk:

Matteo brought up the example of a man in the UK who ate nothing but French fries, couldn't imagine eating anything else, and eventually died from malnutrition. This, he found, bore similarities to the Body Integrity Identity Disorder: It's non-sensible to treat something physically healthy, thus it must be the symptom of something else, which in turn ought to be treated as a mental disorder with or against the will of the person suffering from it. (Again, feel free to correct me, if I got it wrong.)

Johan, who just like Matteo, is a Political Science student, was more focused on the expenses associated with the treatment and care of the members of a society. Society, he found, should be committed to ensuring its members a dignified life, and having one of your limbs cut off when there is nothing wrong with it, is pure excess, and is not the responsibility of society, the State, whatever to deal with. (Once more, do feel free to chip in and correct me.)

Me, I realize, when it comes to such issues, I'm torn between being quite a Liberalist and quite a Socialist. Although I'm not crazy about this juxtaposition in the first place, I found this little snippet from Wikipedia quite useful:

The basic ideological difference between liberalism and social democracy lies in the role of the State in relation to the individual. Liberals value liberty, rights, freedoms, and private property as fundamental to individual happiness, and regard democracy as an instrument to maintain a society where each individual enjoys the greatest amount of liberty possible (subject to the Harm Principle*). Hence, democracy and parliamentarianism are mere political systems which legitimize themselves only through the amount of liberty they promote, and are not valued per se. While the state does have an important role in ensuring positive liberty, liberals tend to trust that individuals are usually capable in deciding their own affairs, and generally do not need deliberate steering towards happiness.

Social democracy, on the other hand, has its roots in socialism (especially in democratic socialism), and typically favours a more community-based view. While social democrats also value individual liberty, they do not believe that real liberty can be achieved for the majority without transforming the nature of the state itself. Having rejected the revolutionary approach of Marxism, and choosing to further their goals through the democratic process, social democrats nevertheless retain a strong skepticism for capitalism, which they believe needs to be regulated or managed for the greater good. This focus on the greater good may, potentially, make social democrats more ready to step in and steer society in a direction that is deemed to be more equitable.

*The harm principle is articulated most clearly in John Stuart Mill's On Liberty, though it is also articulated in John Locke's Second Treatise of Government and in the work of Wilhelm von Humboldt, to whom Mill is obliged and discusses at length. Conversely, Mill concludes that government should not forcibly prevent people from engaging in victimless crimes such as personal drug usage.

The Offence principle relates to the Harm principle, in that both postulate a moral or legal ground for enshrining an actor's behaviour. Whereas the Harm principle refers to the interests of "the other" (the victim), affected by the actor's conduct, the Offence principle refers to the moral standings/feelings of society. Do we want to prevent people taking drugs to protect them (against themselves), or because it is disruptive towards society and hurting the moral feeling of others?


What it all comes down to, I guess, is that a) I find that people should have the liberty and right to determine and pursue what makes them happy as long as this pursuit does not pose a direct harm or threat to the happiness of other people, and b) that society should ensure these rights by supporting the people who are not in a position to do so by their own means. In other words, if someone really finds that having a limb less will make them happy, then who am I to judge if that's right or wrong. So by all means, go ahead, and if you can't pay for it yourself, then we should all at least consider chipping in to make it happen.

You know, I'm not saying we should simply pay for it no questions asked, but hey, let's at least critically assess whether the person in question has given it proper thought as to why life will be more with less.

I realize this may sound naive, because of course we must establish some criteria for what may be considered the characteristics of a dignified life. And I suppose this is were I become, first and foremost, a humanist, understood in a modern sense of the word, as someone willing to discuss and modify what are thought to be the values, capacities of and worth of the human being at a given point in time. These things, as history has shown us over and over again, are ever changing. As I said to Matteo last night, homosexuality was also considered a symptom, and a treatable one at that, back in the day.

What I really wish for, I suppose, is that I can be part of a generation and a society that is willing to make the concept of normality more encompassing. I support homosexuality, gay marriage, gay parents, transsexuals, and grown-ups who get a kick out of dressing up like babies, just like I hope that had I lived in a different time and place I would have supported the right of black people riding in the front of the bus and going to University. You get my drift, I hope.

When I read about BIID on Wikipedia, one of the things that struck me most, was that it said that people suffering from the condition recognizes that their desire to have a limb cut off is "strange and unnatural". That they feel "alone in having these thoughts, and don't believe anyone could ever understand their urges. They may try to injure themselves to require the amputation of that limb. They generally are ashamed of their thoughts and try to hide them from others, including therapists and health care professionals."

And it reminded me of this thought-provoking quote I once came across which went something along the lines of "healing processes often being mistaken for the symptom of a problem".

And I truly wonder if so many of the things that we consider to be challenges to normality or rationality or whatever category you wish to employ, are really just indications of other normalities and rationalities in the process of healing themselves. That it's a really healthy sign. That they are, please excuse the cheesiness, making their voices heard.

I'm not saying I want to amputate any of my limbs or anything. I'm just saying I relate. To whatever it is they might be trying to heal.

p.s. This little piece of writing is not necessarily to be interpreted as an argument. I'm just thinking out loud, and of course you're welcome to point out any inconsistencies in my thinking. In fact, I welcome them.

Issues and bliss


Last night I ventured back to the East Village, pick-nicked on the roof with Matteo and Johan Mau, and nearly started crying when I had to go back to Brooklyn again.

Brooklyn, and Boerum Hill in particular, is beyond lovely, and I would most certainly enjoy living here too. But jesus christ am I realizing I have issues when it comes to my own house and leaving it to go stay at other places. Going on vacation is one thing, and then I utterly enjoy adventuring to spots I've never been before. But when it comes to having an everyday life, or something just remotely like it, then I realize I have difficulty functioning in surroundings different than my own. Apart from when going for walks, I can't think properly when I'm not at home. I feel I get a bad case of ADD.

Which is probably also why I will never thrive in an office - unless it's one I set up for myself of course. Just like it made me miserable leaving for school in the morning back when I had to do that. Having to leave your house for so many hours a day just felt, and continues to feel, unreasonable. Non-sensible even. It's like I miss out on being me (imagine a panpipe playing, softly...).

For the past couple of days I've been thinking this might be the ramifications of having moved so much back and forth between my mother's and my father's house while growing up. Seeing my mother worked as an air hostess, we'd go back and forth every 4 days, sometimes even every three or two. And even though my parents were the sweetest to us, tirelessly driving us back and forth with all the stuff we wanted to bring - schoolbooks, clothes, toys, and our dog - it always felt strange to leave your one home behind to go to your other one.

After this Brooklyn dog-sitting experience, however, I'm beginning to think it's really not so much a question of being traumatized by having two homes, although I do acknowledge that it has really made me cherish having only one, and one that's mine. But what it really comes down to is that I think I have issues. As in emotional disorders. Major ones even. Pure and simple.

But I think I like having them. Because when I avoid the things that trigger them, I feel genuinely happy. Blissful even.

So much ado about nothing

Theater ain't my thing, performance art even less so, modern dance gives me restless legs, and watching musicians perform experimental jazz gives me something reminiscent of acid reflux symptoms.

Really, listening to it I can find quite interesting, but watching it annoys me. The exaggerated mannerisms of the musicians, the whole "I-must-throw-myself-over-the-piano-just-this-minute-so-I-can-hit-that-key-
over-there-all-the-way-over-there-with-my-blazer-jacket-that-I-just-pulled-
off-violently-and-crumbled-into-a-ball-in-order-to-throw-myself-back-in-
my-seat-and-sweat"..oi-oi-oi. It makes me feel awkward and ill at ease, and not it some sassy Brechtian way.

Take me to the movies any day instead.