Search This Blog

Thursday, April 30, 2009


I am feeling satisfied with the semester as it is right now. Sure, I have some late articles for the Raven Review to write, an
annotated bibliography, and a collection of term papers for History and Culture of Native America. Yeah. So?
Are you trying to tell me that I should be working?

Every once in a while, I have one of those beautiful days that distracts me so much, it (hopefully) invigorates my work.And then...Oh God! Poison! That bad song comes up on my ipod.

Thank God I Have A Skip Button.

When I Was Little: I wanted to be an archaeologist or a detective. I was fascinated by possessions, the idea of possessions. What
belongs to a person and what that says about who they are. Especially purses. What's in your purse? What's in your
glovebox? I love those prints of different types of one category of foods. Like breads, or pastas. It's a whole genre of art. (this particular one is by Mike Ward)

I was also fascinated by the apocalypse (the coming one). What, I imagined, would archaeologists of the future think about me
knowing only what I was carrying in my backpack? What if my backpack was the only backpack?

Much Later, I kept thinking about it. Possessions are the building blocks of capitalism. Possessions as identity is the meme that
anyone selling anyone is successfully using. I don't just carry lip balm, I carry lip balm in a tiny wooden sphere with flowers on
it, because I like that it's not a cylinder. I carry a tape recorder, not just because I use it, but because I am *being* a *reporter*.
My planner is a Slingshot. I've got my hipster ID Card, right there. My professional ID. My vain ID (hairbrush).

What I carry in my purse might also be influenced by how I'm feeling. There might be tissues in there, or painkillers, etc.

You can imagine, from my purse, what you think I do, how I'm feeling, what I like, and who I think I am.
Ipods are a whole new level of carrying ID. They're not just about identity politics, they're also an emotional readout device.
Especially the little 4 GB nanos. *Nothing* fits on there, so the songs that end up uploaded are premeditated.

I won't get into the psychology of reading different playlists. But I have thought about it.
I'll let you figure that out. Instead, I'll just show you some stuff.
This is for context:

Top 25 Most played:
In Dreams - Roy Orbison
Crying - Roy Orbison
Elephant Pao Pao - Shonen Knife
It Comes Right Down To You - It's A Beautiful Day
Animal Song - Shonen KnifeCecilia - Simon & Garfunkel
Paralel Woman - Shonen Knife
Girls - Eleni Mandel
4th Time Around - Bob Dylan
Moonglow, Lamp Low - Eleni Mandell
Salt Truck - Eleni MandellTu Solo Tu - Selena
New Feeling - Talking Heads
Wings In His Eyes - Eleni Mandell
I Wish I Knew (How It Would Feel To Be Free) - Nina Simone
Make-Out King - Eleni Mandell
Bang On - The Breeders
The Weight - The Band
Quinn the Eskimo - Bob Dylan
You Ain't Goin' Nowhere - Bob Dylan
Don't Think Twice, It's All Right - Bob DylanMy Time Ain't Long - Canned Heat
My Twin - Eleni Mandell
Miss Me - Eleni Mandell
Mujeres Divinas - Vincente Fernandez

I am a little embarrassed, yes. I'm kinda girly.

OK, But Listen: I just added these. This is the difference, now. I got rid of Radiohead, The Castanets, all of my Chavela Vargas,
and Gogol Bordello. Instead, I put on stuff by:
The Incredible String Band
The Pentangle,Creedence Clearwater Revival,
John Lennon,
Mimi and Richard Farina,
The Be Good Tanyas,
The Beatles,
& The Velvet Underground.

And this is the list of songs I haven't skipped and listen to:Across The Universe - The Beatles
Well Well Well - John Lennon
Remember - John Lennon
Out of Jail - Algia Mae Hinton
One More Fact - Holly Golightly
Bad Moon Rising - Creedence Clearwater Revival
Who'll Stop The Rain - CCR
Free Bird - Lynyrd Skynyrd (Really? Really.)
Dig A Pony - The Beatles
Octopus's Garden - The BeatlesLodi - CCR
Wrote A Song For Everyone - CCR
Green River - CCR
Dream On - Aerosmith
Knocked Up - Kings of Leon
Sweet Home Alabama - Lynyrd Skynyrd
Don't Call Me Whitney, Bobby - IslandsMiserlou - Dick Dale
One Kiss - Holly Golightly
Painted On - Holly Golightly
An Eye For An Empty Heart - Holly Golightly
I Hear You - Holly Golightly
The Sign - Holly Golightly
Nzage - Smokey & Miho

My interpretation: Cheesey. But I like it. Obviously.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Why are you ruining my silk ties

“Why are you ruining my silk ties?” my Dad asks, as I am tying them together to make a rope.
“These seem to be the strongest ones and I don’t want to fall,” I said.

I am six years old and just wanted to climb, apparently my Dad did not understand. This is where I met my first love, her name is found high above the trees; hair like the wind, eyes like the sky.

My connection to climbing is one beyond mere sport, but it is how I think, how I move, how I am me. However, at times I must step back from what I love in order to see why it is such a large piece of who I am. A great teacher of mine once said, “If we cannot venture off by ourselves without the one we love, it is best to let them go.”

In many ways there is nothing like pushing our entire limit of fear while our last piece of protection is dwindling twenty feet below, only passing into the unknown, and then having the volume turned down on events that before may have seemed important, but only coming to understand they meant nothing at all. Or, climbing half way up a project and working the same route over and over until we are so exhausted that we have only one more try left in our bodies. Then miraculously, when we are most tired, and our minds become quiet we flow through what seemed so far away, and understand that it is only when we let go do we ever truly hold on to what really matters.
Everything that I hold to be important in my life I have learned from climbing. Is the fear that I am going through real or is it just my imagination? What is important right now, and what can wait? Can I trust the person belaying me, of course I can? Should I just walk away, or perhaps get myself into a mis-educative danger?

Bruce Lee once said that a martial art is, “Honestly expressing ourselves through movement.” For I believe that spoken language can only reach so deep into our souls, but that most communication comes from body language. Climbing is how I express myself; no words, just moving, because that is how I think; attempting to understand the rock rather than trying to conquer it.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Life is a shovel, now dig

How did I know that the sun was going to come out this morning?

a) I guessed
b) I was lucky
c) It was written

Many things happen in our lives that seem to “just make sense.” As Joseph Campbell once wrote, “We must stop living the life that we have planned, in order to live the life that is waiting for us.” This is the life that was written. Some may say there is no destiny, and they are right, just as some say there is no free-will, and they are also right; for we have both, we have a free-destiny. We have the freedom to choose, but only to choose from what is in front of us.

We can do anything, and this is sometimes forgotten. Some say, “Well, we just need to think positively and it will come true,” but this is only half of what needs to be done. For the entire equation is something I call “Activated thinking;” this not only means knowing we can and will, but also doing, preparing, and activating our entire life. We must change in order for a change to take place in our lives.

In the fall, I will be participating on an expedition, traveling the entire Arizona trail; 800 miles on horseback. This has never been done before, and the course will be part of the Paul Smith’s PhD dissertation, a faculty member in the Human Development program. This is an entire semester length course sprawling from September to December, with four classes taught on the trail. One of these courses is an independent study that I am putting together that asks: how can an expedition like this be implemented in a public school with a standards based curriculum? How can a school with students from medium to low-income families raise the money necessary to carry out such an expedition, or one of a shorter length?
In order to get into this class I needed to turn in an application with references, and then was reviewed by a committee. During this time there was no need to worry, for how do we know if the sun will be out the next day even if the clouds are in the way, “it is written.” When an action takes place that seems to just fit with the world, with our current lifestyle, and our current mindset, it is no longer a struggle to fit the piece into a puzzle, but a peace of mind that overtakes all worry. Just breathe, be patient, listen, learn, and take action according to what we truly want in life; this is the secret, nothing more.

As Emerson once said, "Always do what you are afraid to do."

For the biggest risk is not taking one.

Monday, April 13, 2009


Listen, guys. I know. I know, I know that Prescott College is not in to religion. We're into Spirituality. Sometimes. And we are so definitely not into Christianity.Neither am I. Not in the strictest sense.But I love the story of resurrection.
I love ceremony, I love that feeling you get with 200 people in the same room thinking similar thoughts, focused, on love of other people, love of the dead, love of that feeling. I've been thinking about ceremony a lot.I read this page, about one of the Latino cultural centers in Dallas (my home):
The show is all of images of La Virgen de Guadalupe. That art critic is annoyed with repetition. He wrote: "As we drove up, we noticed three male Hispanic* artists rendering Frida, Diego, a Super Lucha and somebody I didn't recognize, super realistically in lush, dark mural colors on the front wall.
I was dismayed by the un-original images and forms portraying America's most original and individualist artist couple ever. The irony was weightily whelming, and I tried to escape inside the building, but Kathy lingered long out there, insisting I come watch what I'd already seen too much of.
Inside, we were seriously un-awed and actively annoyed by the tedious exhibition of me-too copies in differing colors but few different concepts lost in a hopelessly PC, taste-free zone. Kathy worried aloud about the nightmares she expected next time she'd try to sleep. It was, she said later, "the stuff of bad dreams."
We do that. I do that. It's not just tourists who shop for luchadores paraphernalia, Frida prints, the same dia de los muertos figures every year. My mama is obsessed with milagros, which are the same images, in a thousand tiny silver incarnations. Pressed hands, legs, arms, breasts, flowers, boots, eyes, hearts. I love these things. I love that they are all incarnations of the same idea. We love those ideas. I love the idea of the ideas.

Those art critics see that as unoriginal. Typecasting artists into limiting stereotypes. Maybe we should make art that isn't about Guadalupe, Diego, and Santo? I joke all the time, anything that I cook is Mexican food because I'm Mexican. But that doesn't ring true, does it?
I think this art is ceremonial. It is an affirmation that we love who we are, and we love our culture.

I have 4 images of Guadalupe in my room here in Arizona, and I didn't have any at home in Texas. I didn't need to. In the absence of my family, and of the neighborhood, and of the music everywhere around me, I have these little statues and pictures instead. They make it easier for me to sleep. Cheesey as they are to high art, they make where I'm from part of where I am. Putting them in my room was itself a ceremony, each time.
Ceremony is a way of making emotional, mental, and spiritual things physical. That's what I see in this art, and that's what I get out of mass. It's not even that ceremony is's that it's necessary.
Easter is this weekend. I am searching for things to do. Prescott College is far from religious, and I think in most other places, I would describe myself the same way. Here though, I miss my family with an intensity that itself is nearly religious. It is transformative! I lament my diet, I chastise myself for not making my own tortillas. Insignificant and distant memories take on so much more weight, and I want to listen to nothing but Rancheras alllll day. I want to cry. Something so stupid, like wearing my hair back and out of my make-up-laden face is now worthy of Vincente Fernandez soundtrack and despair! What's up with that?!
In sum, I have decided to buy a nice white dress and go to mass tomorrow, things I haven't done at home in years and years. In my beautiful mexicana family's absence, I am everything they want me to be. Except there with them.

*I hate this word, and I never use it to describe myself. It's the critic's word. Write me sometime, and I will explain in copious detail why.

PS. I watch that movie, Frida, nearly religiously, too. For exactly the same reasons.