Thursday, June 23, 2011

childhood trophies on my shelf

for whatever reason, i cannot stop listening to this song. its on repeat. and i'm hanging on these phrases in particular. i think Joey Ryan is wonderful so check him out. He was just at WorkPlay and I am SO sad that I missed him. Anyways, I'll let the lyrics speak for themselves and speak to you untainted.

"well, i think i'm gonna work construction. just to make something of myself.
i can't live off these childhood trophies on my shelf.
i wanna get my hands dirty. i wanna feel the burning in my legs.
i want more than a receipt for what i paid.
because everybody loves something new. cause you can open it and plug it in.
and it feels like a good night's sleep, like the girl you like paid you a complement.
they can keep the change and they can keep it coming; they can talk to who's listening, but i'm still looking for something a little more permanent.
I'm still looking for something that I can die with.
cause everything i've ever owned, got dusty and old. so i threw it out just to make myself some room. 
if my luck is running out, please don't let it be so with love. it's been a long year but i'm not giving up. even if i lay 10 million bricks and they break through the summer haze, someone will come around and bull doze 'em down someday."
-Joey Ryan, Permanent

Monday, June 20, 2011

they'll only be there til you're dead, so DREAM.

“Go CONFIDENTLY in the direction of your dreams
Live the life you’ve imagined” –Thoreau

Every morning when I sat up in my bed in my old apartment, the wall facing me held a canvas with the above quote. Naturally, I got use to its presence, so it didn't always serve the purpose of encouraging me to follow my dreams and do what I want to do, taking whatever steps I needed to get there. That's not easy to do. 
I've taken on a deep adoration for Fleetwood Mac's line,
 "Have you any dreams you'd like to sell?"
 I do. I have A LOT of dreams I'd like to sell.
It surely would make things easier. 

Walking through the streets two weeks ago, I stumbled upon a group of musicians who were passionately playing this awesome music. These men were smiling, so incredibly happy to be doing what they loved. I stood and watched in awe as i let these thoughts settle over me. They had a HUGE crowd gathered around to watch and listen. People from the surrounding streets were  eager to join these talented individuals sharing their passion with others. there was this magnetic energy surrounding these guys and it was thrilling to watch. After several minutes, I walked away and continued onto my intended destination. Astoundingly, when I walked by five hours later, these guys were still at it. There was still a sizable circle around them, eyes glued with smiles painted on their faces. A few kids were even dancing along. I firmly believe that even if there hadn't been almost 100 people standing there, this group would have still been playing proudly with just as much energy. What a statement! 

Street musicians are generally looked down on, ignored, seen as a nuissance or whatever. There are huge misconceptions about poverty across the world. But I have a new-found appreciation for these musicians and the artists you see. Who knows, maybe they could be a lawyer or doctor but choose to do this because it's what their passionate about. More power to them. Since I can't sell my dreams or manage to forget about them, I will take a lesson from these guys and trust that if I do something I love, I will be happy. I will draw others to me as well. Everything else will fall in line after that.

A few days ago, I encountered a woman who pointedly questioned my intelligence, my background, my family and in the process insulted me more deeply than I have ever been insulted before. She boldly argued that I had no dreams and that if I did have dreams, I would be walking toward them on a straight and narrow path. I beg to differ. I do not think that the path is straight. Well, at least not any interesting path. I think my path has curves, bridges, waterfalls, concrete, yellow bricks and will lead me all kinds of adventures. Dreams are like the road signs that guide you and get you to wherever you want to be  headed. Luckily for this woman, I started thinking about the dreams that I have had throughout my life. When I was a little girl, I wanted to be a veterinarian. Or more specifically, one day my six year-old self  told my mother, "a dancing pig doctor." As a kid, I would play teacher for hours on end by myself upstairs. True. Thanks for almost 11 years of dancing, choreographing, directing plays, stage managing and acting, I would do anything to be on Broadway. Ever since my first trip to Paris, I've wanted to travel the world. Every summer day for several years, I watched ER at 10 am and 11 am which made me want to be an ER surgeon like George Clooney. With my mission trips and commitment to the refugees in Vienna, Austria, it is a deeply rooted dream of mine to support that mission monthly from my own paycheck. Languages captivate me. I dream of being bilingual and raising my children bilingual. 
In the scene between the window frame 
Where the jackals preyed on every soul
Where they tied you to a pole 
And stripped you of your clothes
I was a dreamer, staring at windows
Out onto the main street cause that's where the dream goes

And each time they found fresh meat to chew
I would turn away and return to you
You would offer me your unmade bed
Feed me till I'm fed, read me till I'm read
But when the morning came
You would catch me at the window again...
And when I got older, when I grew bolder
Out onto the streets I flew
Released from your shackles
I danced with the jackals

And learned a new way to move
So before you take this song as truthYou should wonder what I'm taking from you, how I benefit from you being here
Lending me your ears while I'm selling you my fears...

I realize that my dreams have changed a lot if I think about the different ones that I have had over my lifetime, but I have not forgotten them. "Don't lose the dreams inside your head, they'll only be there til your dead. So dream, little darling, DREAM." (Dave Matthews) I have gone from thinking about them in almost a fantasizing manner [staring out of windows onto the street where the dreams go] to actually realizing them- BECOMING these dreams [out onto the street i flew, released from your shackels, i danced with the jackals], one step at a time.  
I cannot forget them, I cannot sell them, so I must ensure that I am actively, passionately and CONFIDENTLY chasing my dreams. I will ensure that I am supporting my friends and encouraging them to do the same. Let's stop staring out of the window and join in!

Saturday, June 18, 2011

hakuna matata, it's a wonderful phrase.

Since I left my sunglasses in the car, it got sunny. 
Eating dinner outside after a full jam packed day, I said, "wow, I'm so glad we had good weather today and that it didn't rain." literally, 30 seconds later, raindrops starting falling. 
The best thing about traveling, is that the most ordinary things can appear extraordinary. The things that you would find extremely frustrating in your own state, are viewed as an adventure in foreign lands. Yesterday, as dad was driving out of the parking deck, I seriously thought we were going to wreck at any second. An underground parking deck with a spiral exit when you're in a huge company stick-shift van is a frightening combination, trust me. Then we got to the exit and our ticket wouldn't work. I announced that if he intended on backing down that spiral we barely got up, I was not participating. It all proved to work out just fine though. 
I don't know when the last time was that you watched The Lion King, but tell me those 4 minutes didn't just brighten your day significantly!

In Ghent, Belgium last week, we parked somewhere and just winged it. We couldnt read the Flemish signs worth a damn, so we shrugged our shoulders and didnt let it stop us from seeing the city. Our van could have been impounded while we were in a museum. But the point is- it wasn't. After all, how true is it that most of the things you worry about NEVER happen?!

I need to take this lackadaisical attitude back with me. Life is an adventure. Take risks! Maximize time, resources and engergy. Don't sweat the small stuff. Do what you can now and save some things for later. I love the Rick Steve's phrase he puts in all his travel books, "Assume you will return." Its key to relaxing and ensuring that you breathe and enjoy what's in front of you. Yet, with that, comes responsibility of  capitalizing on opportunities at your disposal. There are thousands of thoughts worthy of filling your mind over worries about what other people think, do, what may or may not happen or what that sign says in that language you can't read.
There was no point in worrying whether or not we were ever going to get out of that parking deck. Bask in the present. It's going to work out. It almost always does somehow. 

Friday, June 17, 2011

spread love like violence

If I had my own world

I'd fill it with wealth and desire
A glorious past to admire
And voices of kids out walking dogs
Birds, planes, trees, cleanest cars

If I had my own world
I'd love it for all that's inside it
There'd be no more wars, death or riots
There'd be no more police, packed parking lots
Guns, bombs sounding off

If I had my own world
I'd show you the life that's inside it
The way that it glows when you find it
The way it survives with it's families
Friends or it's enemies

Let's make this a new world
I swear you can go if you want to

If I had my own world
I'd build you an empire
From here to the far lands
To spread love like violence

If I had my own world
I'd build you an empire
From here to the far lands
To spread love like violence

Let me feel you, carry you higher
Watch our words spread hope like fire
Secret crowds rise up and gather
Hear your voices sing back louder

-Angels and Airwaves, Secret Crowds

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Your English is good

I have been so incredibly blessed to have had the opportunity to travel all over the place. Until this trip, I have never really thought about whether or not all that would have been possible if I didn't speak English. I have been happy that I speak English for a long time. It's the dominant language. Additionally, it's impossible to learn.  In the years Americans spend taking English and perfecting the rules behind our native language, Europeans learn like four languages. Here are some facts about English you English speakers should know (from here). 

  • English is the most widespread language in the world and is more widely spoken and written than any other language.
  • Over 400 million people use the English vocabulary as a mother tongue, only surpassed in numbers, but not in distribution by speakers of the many varieties of Chinese.
  • Over 700 million people, speak English, as a foreign language.
  • Did you know that of all the world's languages (over 2,700) English is arguably the richest in vocabulary; and that the Oxford English Dictionary lists about 500,000 words, and there are a half-million technical and scientific terms still uncatalogued?
  • Three-quarters of the world's mail, telexes and cables are in English.
  • More than half of the world's technical and scientific periodicals are in English
  • English is the medium for 80% of the information stored in the world's computers
  • English is the language of navigation, aviation and of Christianity; it is the ecumenical language of the World Council of Churches
  • English is the main language of the Internet. 
  • Of the 163 member nations of the U.N., more use English as their official language than any other. The easiest way to calculate the economic influence of a language may be to add up the gross domestic products (GDP) of all the nations where it is spoken. People who count English as their mother tongue make up less than 10% of the world's population, but possess over 30% of the world's economic power.
Last week, I was sitting at the train station in Munich enjoying a nice little sandwich and Radler (beer with lemonade- worth a try! Perfect for a summer day) when I was approached by a nice business-looking man. He said to me, "your accent is very strange. Where are you from?" so I said Atlanta, the south of the United States and he seemed so genuinely amused. "a southern accent! I've never heard one. Wow. I like it." Then he went on to tell me that he taught English at a university nearby. I don't think I've ever brightened someone's day just by speaking English. It made my day. I don't even really have a southern accent." 
I spent three days in Koln (Cologne) and only ever heard English one time unless English was directly addressed to me. I was amazed at how stupid I felt trying to do things around town with a vocabulary of about fifteen German words total. But no matter where I have been in the last week, if I speak English, English is spoken back to me. Its incredible that we have this pull over the rest of the world. To where a waiter in Ghent, Belgium or Koln, Germany knows English just in case some stupid American tourist happens to sit down at their table. 

As arrogant as that can make us, I am deeply thankful for it. I think our language learning should be amped up significantly, but ill save that rant for another post. But if it wasn't for the rest of the world learning English, I'd be even more lost than I usually am. And I certainly wouldn't have gone so many places. So cheers to English ruling the world so I don't have to learn German. Be thankful that Your English Is Good!

Friday, June 3, 2011

sometimes its better to act as if something just fell from the sky

for someone who loves travel so much, it may surprise you to learn that i have a HORRIBLE sense of direction. though i still dislike Germany a great deal... i am pleased to announce that i admire Koln (Cologne) for its ease of navigating. upon arrival to this city, i decided to go to two art museums, walk around the cathedral and do some shopping. yesterday was a national holiday so all the shops were closed. and even when i went today, i was disappointed. though i did score a sweet new blazer so i can be just like kim kardashian.
anyway, i was walking around these two art museums thinking about art.
i LOVE impressionism. its my favorite by far. thanks to the holiday, i had the entire museum almost to myself. so i ended up sitting in front of this for almost 30 minutes, just listening. 

i have blogged before about how much i love Monet (click here to get caught up). i love how he had the patience to paint the same subject many different times to show how the light was reflected differently, to show how it changed without changing. i also discovered some new artists that i loved. after spending almost two hours on the rooms with impressionism, i briskly swept through the rest of the museum because no matter how much time i spent in Italy and elsewhere, I just don't have a taste for Renaissance art.
next, i found myself in a modern art museum, Museum Ludwig. i've studied picasso a great deal and seen his work in probably over 10 museums. but for some reason, yesterday, i just couldn't wrap my mind around why certain "art" displays belonged in a museum. is it art? absolutely. i believe everything is art. but in a MUSEUM?? maybe my intolerance for modern art yesterday had to do with the amount of alcohol i had with my lunch. oops.

i listened to the little audio guide as this British voice explained to me that the sea of blues evoked an image of personality and blah blah blah and i thought to myself, "it does??" as i stood staring at a canvas that was literally just BLUE- one shade of blue-BLUE. i was clueless. even with an explanation, i didnt see it. i couldnt. the art was so ridiculous that in one room, a ladder was there and i wondered if it was there for a repair or it was "art." i mean, anything can certainly be art. especially if thats how it was intended by an artist, i was just like, "wtf" all three floors of this place. one installation was a radio. and that was it. a radio. wow. how inspiring. i'm sure if i had thought to put one in a museum, i could be a millionaire. damn.

also, i'd like to ramble about the titles of these works. the title, "woman with a hat" for a renaissance painting that is indeed simply a woman with a hat, makes me wonder, why we think these are the most infamous artists in the world? doesnt art have something to do with creativity? can't they come up with something better than the exact description of what their art is??
example- August Macke, "Man Reading in A Park" 
Oh, that's a painting of a man reading in a park? No shit.

Works titled "untitled" are the worst. if the artist chose not to title their work, or just didn't get around to it, i'd like to know, "no title chosen" instead of "this world-renowned artist couldn't come up with something to call this black canvas we are displaying as art."
example- Christopher Wool, Untitled. 2007. wouldn't it be nice to know what the hell this was so you could at least attempt to understand it? that's the point of a TITLE.

hell, i could be famous. i believe i am an artist. maybe youll see my half finished canvas sitting in my house now in a museum in a few years titled "untitled." with a little number by it and some bullshit description of what i meant the significance to be. you never know!!

all this to say, you know, it doesn't matter how much art you've been exposed to around the world, there is some art that speaks to you and some that doesn't. some that matters to you and some that doesn't. maybe thats what makes it art. 
i'll leave you with the words from one of the pieces of art- installation- done with foil on the windows of the museum, by Gillick. and know that I'm going to stick to my precious Claude Monet.

A man is seen standing by a subway entrance. Above his head three layers of highways cross. He is already sick but watches half of the six walk right past him. Later that night, a woman sits alone at the bar. Close by, another man is sleeping while his telephone rings. Three people sit together some distance away while the woman nods forward and draws increasingly small circles with her finger onto the wet wood of the bar. The people working there step down to serve you. Standing lower than the floor area of the rest of the place they are situated at exactly the right height to deal with those sitting low at a low bar. The woman's dress is made of an artificial fibre. She turns and hurls a medium sized metal spoon towards the three sitting across the room. They feel the rush as it flies past them and some clanking against the wooden panelling of the wall but sometimes it is better to act as if something just fell from the sky.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

getting hitched and quitting drinking

this summer (from May until August) I know SIX people getting married. i have been cynical. admittedly, i have been a bitch. i have ranted, complained, expressed my opinion, lamented, questioned, doubted, stalked, gossiped, and been filled with joy for these friends that i have known a very long time to their face and behind their back. from learning about the potential of the impending engagement, to hearing the details of how the question was popped, to inquiring about wedding details, i have attempted to be supportive and i have likewise blatantly expressed my apathy or concern. oddly enough, feelings of approval or disapproval aside, i will not be seeing any of these brides walk down the aisle. my only connection to the actual celebration will be via Facebook. i cannot group all six of these in the same category of how i feel because that would be unfair to these friends. as certain as i am that none of them will read this, i owe everyone an apology. however, an apology i am unwilling to give. instead, i'd like to offer an explanation.

i am young; afraid of commitment to nearly everything. i have no idea where i will be in three months. i have big goals and huge dreams to chase. i've got at least four years of school ahead. i've got serious trust issues with males (and females for that matter). as i've blogged before, i don't even always trust myself. at least once a week, i am mistaken for a child +/-10 years younger than i actually am. i am wrestling with who God is and who He is not. i could not guess my credit card bill within one hundred dollars. i want an extravagant and beautiful wedding that is the party of the year. most days, i could not create a list of bridesmaides i'd feel comfortable with. additionally, i'd like the engagement ring of my dreams, a paycheck of several digits in my name, letters after my name on a business card, property that is decorated in my taste instead of a flashback to The Great Gatsby. i cannot wrap my mind around knowing someone at this exact moment that challenges any of the above.
     Though I was desperately reminding myself all last semester of the phrase, "don't push love away. it's all we have" (The Juliana Theory) and indeed do not plan to be blind to the opportunities that do pose a challenge to the above first-person statements, I just needed to get all that out there. To say, "hey, everyone. this is where i'm at." I confidently chose this path. I stick by the decisions that brought me here with great pride but occasionally, I am harshly reminded that people I literally grew up with, have transported themselves to a whole new stage of life that I don't know a single thing about. I don't even know about the steps they took to get to that stage of life. I doubt this from time to time and identify with Ben Gibbard's words. "Will I have learned so very little when these bones are old and brittle?
 I wait to talk when I should listen and cloud mistakes with false revisions. 
All my friends are forward-thinking, getting hitched and quitting drinking. 
And I can feel them pulling away as I'm resigned to stay the same. 
I was once a loyal lover whose lips did never seek another's
But now each love's more like a match, a blinding spark that burns out fast.
And they all conclude with the same sentence: 'I've never met someone more self-centered who thinks that life with a nice girl's like waiting for a bus to work.
If you deem it so, just cut the cord and go.
You'll be fine, there's plenty of hills to climb."

So as people are continuing to get engaged more rapidly than i can keep up, in case your big announcement is headed my way soon, please know that i do love you deeply. and i am so incredibly happy for you. my wishes for a lifetime of bliss together is genuine and as sincere as possible. but i just don't get it. i don't understand and i cannot relate. as distance has already crept into our relationships by the very introduction of your significant other, i can only pray that the distance is not increased by your leap into a dramatically different stage of life than i am in. a stage i do not see myself joining for a long damn time. PLEASE do not become a bridge engulfed in flames behind me simply because I am not there yet. We will both be fine because there are plenty of hills (in all shapes, sizes and stages of life) to climb. I'll just be climbing the engaged and married hill long after others. But that's okay cause I CAN go my own way.

a deep thank you for reading this self-absorbed, rant. maybe i wrote it because i need affirmation. maybe i wrote it because i need to be told that i am wrong. that i am self-centered and jaded. perhaps i need to hear both. perhaps this is how you feel too.