Saturday, March 24, 2012

Spring Rain

When I lived in Mexico, I made a small poster for my wall that read "Mexico is so loud" and listed the many daily cacophonies of that place. I love San Miguel, but damn.....loudness.

Lately, with the birth of Spring, South Philly also has become very is stoop sittin' weather, so everyone who stayed inside during our winter that wasn't is now outside. Outside in Philly sounds like: trucks and cars, police helicopters, people yelling at each other (in a seemingly amicable way), kids screeching on bikes and shooting each other with toy guns, horns blasting from Broad Street; in general, the city has woken up with the season.

The trees are blooming and so is the neighborhood. I live in the Newbold neighborhood of South Philly: very close to the stadiums and just off the busy-ness of Broad Street. Cars come peeling by at all hours, and everyone seems excited that the sun is back.

Today, though, it is raining and mostly quiet. I am reminded of Steve Nieve's album "Windows" from a few years ago....I wish I could post some tracks here but only have the album and there seem to be no videos!

Look On Down From the Bridge

Mazzy Star is my band for rainy days: always has been. I remember listening to them years ago, as a freshman in high school, on cool wintery days in Texas, and now on my stoop in Philadelphia.

I've Been Let Down

Be My favorite

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Late Night, Heavy with Spring Mix Tape

MIA - "Bad Girls"

Good girls go to heaven....bad girls go wherever the hell they want!!!

Queen - "Crazy Little Thing Called Love"

The Beach Boys - "God Only Knows"

Blur - "Tender"

Ladytron - "True Mathematics"

The Vaselines - "Bitch"

Annie Lennox - "Money Can't Buy It"

Beach House - "Take Care"

The Cars - "Double Life"

U2 - "Tryin' To Throw Your Arms Around the World"

M. Ward - "Let's Dance"

IF you can keep your head when all about you
Are losing theirs and blaming it on you,
If you can trust yourself when all men doubt you,
But make allowance for their doubting too;
If you can wait and not be tired by waiting,
Or being lied about, don't deal in lies,
Or being hated, don't give way to hating,
And yet don't look too good, nor talk too wise:
If you can dream - and not make dreams your master;
If you can think - and not make thoughts your aim;
If you can meet with Triumph and Disaster
And treat those two impostors just the same;
If you can bear to hear the truth you've spoken
Twisted by knaves to make a trap for fools,
Or watch the things you gave your life to, broken,
And stoop and build 'em up with worn-out tools:

If you can make one heap of all your winnings
And risk it on one turn of pitch-and-toss,
And lose, and start again at your beginnings
And never breathe a word about your loss;
If you can force your heart and nerve and sinew
To serve your turn long after they are gone,
And so hold on when there is nothing in you
Except the Will which says to them: 'Hold on!'

If you can talk with crowds and keep your virtue,
' Or walk with Kings - nor lose the common touch,
if neither foes nor loving friends can hurt you,
If all men count with you, but none too much;
If you can fill the unforgiving minute
With sixty seconds' worth of distance run,
Yours is the Earth and everything that's in it,
And - which is more - you'll be a Man, my son!

--- Rudyard Kipling

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

A Philadelphia Traffic Court Misadventure....

Today at 1 p.m., I had my first traffic court trial. Having been blessed with good common sense when it relates to driving, I have not gotten many tickets in my life. In fact, actually, this was the first moving violation. Parking tickets and myself, here in Philly, are an entirely different story and I actually think that the Phila Parking Authority is now looking to ticket my car whenever possible.

But I digress.

Today I was lucky to be allowed to leave work early and go to traffic court on 8th Street and Spring Garden. Conveniently, there are some capitalistic upstarts who have turned a vacant lot across the street into a $5 Traffic Court parking lot. Luckily that lucky five dollar bill came in handy.

I walked in and saw metal detectors: very similar ones to the ones you find in airports. There was a gruff police officer who looked at me and said: "keys! cell phones! change!". I looked at him as if to say, "are you kidding? I have two cell phones, two sets of keys and who knows how much change. I am so tired I am hoping I actually stay awake during this process...." Luckily for me came another police officer who, sensing my duress, said "just put it all on the conveyor belt. We're going to see what you got anyway."

I followed his instructions, went through the metal detector, and walked over to Impound Court because Courtroom C was closed. Impound Court is an exciting place full of colorful characters who have all had their cars impounded due to various indiscretions. It was amazing to see how many people were there and who were so angry that they had made series of bad decisions and neglected to take care of business, but were now willing to pay hundreds of dollars to get their cars back.

Due to the sheer amount of people in court that day, those of us who were supposed to be in Courtroom C were moved to Courtroom B to speed the process along. Courtroom B was where it got interesting because there was a judge and bailiffs and a colorful painting of the Pennsylvania state seal. The judge had a funny sense of humor and clearly loved being the center of attention and broadcasting everyone's bad deeds to everyone else in the room.

I heard a man explain that he hadn't caused an accident, but that the rain had caused the accident. Another man explained that he had driven the wrong way down a street because his girlfriend was in a rush and put pressure on him. Someone from the peanut gallery said as loud as possible, "They fuckin' robbin' us blind". The bailiffs got angry and told everyone if we wanted to talk to do so outside.

In a very short amount of time, I was called up to the stand and brought my bag with laptop, cell phones, etc. as well as my knitting bag up to the bench. I had been knitting for about an hour in the various trial spaces and thinking, "I wonder how many people knit in traffic court?". The judge asked me how I pleaded and I said "not guilty." Hereto follows the exchange of hilarity that is, generally, my experience when I meet random people in Philadelphia who choose to impart their humorous but sarcastic belief system about their city to me:

"Why do you have Texas plates?"

"Because I just moved here from Texas, from Austin, Texas."

"Why did you do that?"

"I wanted to teach in the big city, so here I am."

"Why did you do that? Don't you watch the news?"

"Well....let me tell you, teaching here is really hard, but I love the kids, so it's ok."

"What grade do you teach?"

"6th and 7th! Science...."

"Are you nuts? That's the worst!"

"Well, like I said, I love the kids, so....."

He turns to his assistant, "I am telling you, there is a calling for young teachers. Tell you what, I am going to cut you a break. Dismissed."

"Thank you sir."

And off I went into a glorious spring-summer day, and went home, and took a nap. Now it is so warm in my bedroom I need a fan.

Saturday, March 10, 2012

Springtime in Philthy....



 Pamir, Afghanistan --- 

I would like to be here, today, with some rose petal jam and bread and some good the time I am old, I will have been everywhere I want to visit.


 Spring has sprung here in Philadelphia....the sun is shining, the light is strong and long, and thoughts of gardening are swimming through my mind. I am lucky and have a share in a community garden in my neighborhood, and am very excited that, finally,  I will be able to start planting! 


 My vegetable garden in Austin....I miss my old house...


I cannot tell you how my disconnection from gardening whilst living here has disrupted my mood and sense of self. 


 I am feeling very indignant due to some situations that are happening that I cannot mention here, in the public sphere that is blogging. I have chosen to channel that indignation and resentment into gardening and silver- and gold-smithing. I have some seeds, some soil, and a new commission!


 Me gusta mis jitomates!!!! 


 It feels, somehow, as if something has shifted here....either I have passed the point of no return, or it's as simple as the Sun has come back. I had no idea how I would be effected by Seasonal Affective Disorder, being that this is my first real experience of Northern winter...I am so used to sunshine all the time that I am not quite sure how to deal with it when it disappears. 


I think that Philly especially emphasizes the malaise of winter because everything here is hard: stone, brick, no sun, all shade and grit. I went to work in the dark, and I left work in the dark, and never go outside for anything.


 Last year, during lunch and during my prep period, I would work on native landscaping my school's grounds. I planted plants, sowed seeds, weeded, and pruned trees. Here in Philly, I constantly joke (with sadness in my heart) that there are no trees, no plants, not a lot of nature anywhere. 


 At the apex of Perpendicular Trail, Acadia National Park....


 It has been a transition, bien sur! A transition that has made me aware of those environmental aspects that I need in my life for my own personal happiness. 


 The same veggie garden at the Haney House, East Austin


 So.....Moore Street Community Garden

- lettuce

- arugula

- basil

- green beans

- peas

- kohlrabi

- tomatoes

- collard greens

- bok choy

- flowers!!!

And a new jewelry commission to make meat cleavers out of silver......



Hamilton Pond, off Route 3...Mount Desert Island 


 There is a tipping point in experience, when you realize you finally moved past this hurdle you couldn't even identify, it was so hidden in the murk of your thoughts. Once I crossed that hurdle, identified it, saw it, and was able to step back and take a breath and say, "there you are!", nothing much is bothering me right now. In the moment, yes, but if I write about it, go to the studio and heat up some silver with an oxy-acetylene torch, make something with my two hands, choose seeds and think about how they will grow and change, read a book....I realize that all of this is transitory...time passes by so fast! If you don't stop to take a look around once in a while, or you might miss it....


 Me, in England, with my Grandpa, at breakfast....almost 25 years ago...


I just started looking at the Tao Te Ching again, after many months of leaving it to gather dust on the shelf. I love this book, and especially my edition of it. I constantly read its passages and think about how they relate to my life. This one was the one that flipped open yesterday:


In the pursuit of learning, every day something is acquired.
In the pursuit of Tao, every day something is dropped.

Less and less is done

Until non-action is achieved.
When nothing is done, nothing is left undone.

The world is ruled by letting things take their course.
It cannot be ruled by interfering.