grey days of charleston

18 October 2008

Today was, indisputably, a grey day. When Charleston is overcast, it seems to be a different place. The clouds hang low, like they’re right on top of your head. One can nearly touch them. Sometimes the tops of the Cooper River bridge are lost in the mist. The cables of the bridge, though, are brightly white against the grey. I always notice it when it’s rainy. The cables pop. 

Looking out over the harbor, from the battery or waterfront park, you can tell the difference between ocean and sky. But not if you let your eyes get out of focus. If you do that, or don’t look too hard, the water blends into the sky and the distinction between the elements disappears, broken only by the color of the whitecaps. For some reason, these days have their own beauty, perhaps the beauty that comes from the severity of a scene, the bleakness of a view. Sometimes that’s when the city is the most real, when the tourists are all indoors, when there’s no sun shining down or picnicers in the park. There’s only the people who call it home, who are here when the sun doesn’t shine and the hotels are empty, when the parks are empty except for the figure or two silhouetted against the greyness of the world.


at a loss

31 August 2008

Do you ever feel like it would be nice to be told what to do? I’ve had that feeling a lot lately, which is strange, because I am the type that chafes under most any type of restriction that I feel unfounded or unneeded. It is a part, I suppose, of growing up, the moment when, finally, you have the final say and the final responsibility for where you are and the roads you’ve taken. Which is, on the one hand, a great thing, a state of freedom that is what teenagers dream about and those locked into the dull routine of the everyday imagine as the be all end all of existence. And it’s great, really. Mostly. Kind of. It’s great in that there is that control, the self directed urgency of feeling that marks you as being the final arbiter of what you do every moment of every day. Don’t like where you live? Move. Hate your job? Quit. Need a new mp3 player? Go buy one. Want to eat Oreos for dinner? Sure. So that’s nice.

But what about when things go so far in that direction that we are not beholden to anyone? There’s obviously something reassuring about having the final say be someone else’s at least part of the time. In a sense, it’s freeing to realize that sometimes there are some things that one has to do, requirements that come from the outside rather than in, needs that are constraints rather than a casting off of chains. I’ve forgotten what that feels like–and I don’t mean things like work or school, where it’s kind of obvious that you have to toe the line and show up on time and do what you’re supposed to do. I mean the personal sense of obligation, the expectations of friend and family that we all need to guide our decisions. That’s what I miss. Not that having friends and lovers tell you what to do is the best way to exist, but that’s not what I mean. It’s more subtle than that, more complex and yet simpler. It’s like…..when you live with someone, you should clean the house. Not necessarily because you’re enthusiastic about cleaning, but because you know that you have to work together to not live like pigs. It’s wanting to work out because you know that somebody close to you, maybe in the next room, cares whether you have a strong heart and a decent looking body. It’s reading books because you know someone is going to bring them up and ask you about them, it’s wanting to go out to dinner to spend time with someone, not just to eat.

It’s the existence of something other than vacuum. I wrote here about how we are all just parts of a web, connected together by innumerable strands and strange ties. I just feel like mine keeps losing strands, and yeah, I’m weaving some new ones, but that doesn’t make it the same.

No more emo, I promise.

wild nights

12 August 2008

I had an interesting evening yesterday. After hanging out with some people from work at Fuel, a relatively new Caribbean-themed restaurant/bar, I rode my little bicycle right on home to make some dinner. About 10 minutes after I sat down on my couch, though, I started feeling incredibly strange. Then I began trembling uncontrollably. Then I got extremely cold. Now, my house has exactly two window units, and it’s almost always warm, which doesn’t bother me, but it’s not the kind of place that gets chilly without some serious AC crankage and a cool night. So I was surprised to have sweatpants on, a blanket over me, and still be cold. Quickly realizing that I was perhaps coming down with a fever/flu/mystery disease, I decided to go to bed and sleep from 10 pm until 7 am, when I had to go to work. I turned off all of the air, put an extra blanket on, and tried to go to sleep.

I fell asleep, but did not really sleep; instead, I woke up every 45 minutes, feeling like I was dying of too much heat, having bizarre visions. Yes, visions. This happened to me once in high school, when I was laid up at home with a fever during the day. I put on Pink Floyd’s The Wall because I was bored, and proceeded to have strange altered states while my head felt like it was going to explode. So it didn’t completely take me by surprise, but it was still a supremely weird night. Most of the night, I thought I was calculus. Not that I was doing calculus, but that my body and my essence were the formulas and expressions and tangents and the like. This may have happened because I’m reading a novel set in the late 17th century and involving Isaac Newton, Leibnez, the Royal Society, and things such as alchemy. Riveting, I know. (Aside, it’s actually pretty good: Quicksilver by Neil Stephenson, Volume I of the Baroque Cycle.) So Ive been having weird thoughts about science, mathematics, and 1675 London. And all night I was calculus. Bizarre. But interesting.

It’s things like that that make me think it would be interesting to try crazy drugs, or camp out in a sensory deprivation chamber for a few hours. Most of the time I’m so literal, not given to daydreaming, at least when I’m focused on a task. So when my mind goes a little crazy, in my dreams or fever delusions, they really interest me as an altered state, as a way escape the humdrum literalism of my everyday thoughts. LSD anyone?

Elvis Rocks. Don’t Hate.


8 August 2008

moving time

2 August 2008

A little backstory: I grew up in several different homes; my first was a single-wide trailer that had been added to with a ramshackle two bedroom/living room addition, thus creating a hybridized living situation whose full strangeness I did not appreciate for years. The second was a much classier double-wide trailer where I had a big bedroom, as well as a family den and fireplace (movin’ on up, as they say). After my parents’ divorce, there was a crowded house where I shared a room with my brother, then a small house on a major highway (literally, our driveway led to the highway) where I had a tiny, tiny room. Then another double-wide, which, if you know me, is the one that burned down while I was a junior at the College of Charleston. Then came our current, much classier double-wide. Personally, I’ve lived in Buist, a freshman dorm where I had two roommates and a hall bath; then came Rutledge for two years, where I lived with one other guy, in what amounted to an on campus apartment with an actual kitchen!! For the last two years, I’ve lived West of the Ashley in a nice two bedroom two-story townhouse. I didn’t realize it until I was moving during the last week, but I had become rather attached to that cheap townhouse.

Packing up all my books, all of my odds and ends, computer parts and shoes and shelves, I became quite sad; it wasn’t just that I was leaving, it was something more, something that I can’t put my finger on. Partly, I honestly think, it was packing up my books. I have many. Many many. And I’m constitutionally unable to throw them away. Boxes and boxes of books, taken to storage or to my new apartment. Partly I think it was the impending drastic change in behavior; for the last two years, I have ridden the bus every day, twice a day, for two hours, almost every day except Sunday. While it will be very nice to not have to get up that extra hour early, it feels strange already.

Mostly though, i think it was the memories, and not even the memories that are necessarily tied to the place itself. It’s instead a feeling of passing, of moving on to something else, of growing up and yet going nowhere, of becoming established in another place without setting down any roots. In fact, I seem to be losing my connections everywhere, some a long time ago and some today and yesterday. Some are going to be pruned tomorrow, I already know. And all of that is folded into the feeling that I want to settle down, I want to know what I’m doing and where I’m going, and with whom. But many of the whos are missing in action, the wheres are uncertain, and the whats are swirling around in a maelstrom inside my head and heart. So everything is changing, yet nothing feels different, in this in between moment I’m trying to find out who I am while the people and things that made me who I was yesterday seem to be drifting away. It’s exhilarating. It’s incredibly frightening. Navigating between those two extremes is becoming tiring. Also, moving forced me to realize that I have entirely too many things. Not in a complaining sort of way, but in a larger spiritual sort of way. As in I’m too attached to all of my things, and I think that they give me security, the books and little things I know so well. I knew that was an illusion, but now I know that it’s foolish–which are two different things.

Things to Do:

1. Liberate myself from earthly possessions. After all, nobody who seems like they know what they’re talking about says “Go forth and accumulate things, and thou shalt be happy!” Rather the opposite; think of the man who questioned Christ about how to get into heaven and the eye of the needle. Buddhism asserts that man’s (gender inclusive, of course) attachment to possessions ties us to dis-ease, to samsara and the eternal cycle of rebirth. Islam demands a religious tax on material wealth. You see the problem.

2. Work on 1.


9 July 2008

Sometimes I get so angry, angry at myself, at people in my life, at people who have never even thought about my existence at all. Sometimes I sit quietly, sometimes I pray, sometimes I shake in rage.

And sometimes I watch this:

Then I feel better.

ps-It’s really better if you go to youtube and watch in high quality.  I promise.

6 July 2008

What are we all doing?

And why is this one of the most affecting songs I’ve ever heard?