Wednesday, January 25, 2012

a few brief snapshots

If you're not one of my friends from home (which makes most of you) and didn't read my post a couple weeks ago, then you probably don't know who my friend Chris was. He very sadly passed away two weeks ago tomorrow, and I've obviously been going through the emotions you would expect. I've also been, along with the other people who knew him, reflecting on the great times that we had together. One of those times was a trip we took to Buffalo in 2010 to see the Canadian post-punk band Tokyo Police Club and Freelance Whales. I recently found some video that I had taken of our trip on one of my external hds and decided to post it here both in his honor and to share with those who knew him––and those who didn't as well.

Here is also my blog post that I wrote about the trip shortly after it occurred. While it leaves out some of the more colorful bits of the adventure like our elaborate and highly successful scheme to convince the bouncers we were over 21 and such, it should put the above video in better context. Otherwise, it just shows a few brief snapshots in time of a guy who I really, really miss, but am very glad to have known.

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Occupying Chattanooga

For not having anything that I needed to do today, it was remarkably busy.

This morning I attended Westminster, where I was able to try out using my nook as a Bible. It worked quite well. So far that's the only book I've put on it besides The Brothers Karamazov, which I bought for 99¢. It's an interesting story, and suitably depressing for me right now. I've really enjoyed using the nook so far... it unexpectedly overcame several problems I have always had with reading, such as how to hold the book comfortably and getting lost on the page. I decided quickly that I needed a case for it though, and also wanted to see what was different about using it at a Barnes and Nobel Cafe. This meant a trip to Chattanooga.

I went by way of Hixson, where I was almost killed in two separate incidents of road rage. I stopped at Target and bought a lamp for my room, which I had been wanting for a long time and then went to Moe's. At Moe's the cashier looked at me funny for a very long and awkward, moment as if trying to make up his mind about something, and then asked me if anyone had ever told me that I look like Michael Cera. Too my knowledge no one has, and what's more I'm very okay if it stays that way.

I don't really see it.
After Barnes & Nobel, where there was no room to sit in the cafe, and it took me forever to decide which case to get, I drove across the city to Fletcher Hall at UTC. I'm taking a very long, very intense exam there in a few weeks and decided that I had better figure out where it is now so that I don't have to worry about it the morning of.  After locating the building, parking, and finding it unlocked, I let myself inside and looked around for a few minutes.

From there I headed across town to the Greenlife, the only grocery within 100 miles that sells the kind of oatmeal that I like to eat for breakfast. On the way there, I drove past the city Court House, and saw a dozen or so tents in the yard in front of it, banners, and a small group of people holding signs. Could this be Occupy?

Intrigued, I parked half a block away, walked up to the site, and asked: "So are you guys like, Occupy Chattanooga?". As it turned out, they were indeed, and they informed me that they were about to have their weekly General Assembly in just ten minutes and I was welcome to join them. So I stood there in the relative cold and more-than-relative cigarette smoke for about an hour while they talked about drafting a petition to end campaign contributions over $100, whether or not people with firearms should be asked to leave the premise of their encampment, and whether it was appropriate for them to have their literature set up at the UTC Young Democrats table.

Even though there were only about 20 of us standing in a circle in the middle of the lawn of the Chattanooga Courthouse, they still used the code of hand signals (jazz fingers for applause, a chopping gesture for 'object' and raising your hand to speak) that I understand was developed for use in New York when there were thousands of people who couldn't hear each other. While on the one hand, this seemed a little hilarious, it worked well, and by the end of the assembly, I decided that it was actually a kind of interesting way of making decisions.

One thing that struck me was the diversity of people who were there. There were obviously the college students and "professional activist" types that you would expect, but there were also a good number of younger professional people and middle-aged folks as well.

So it was interesting... and all because I just happened to drive by.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

The Long Patrol

Somehow, I feel like this semester is a lot more than two weeks old already. I'm not sure if this is a good thing or not.

It may be that there's enough continuity between this one and the last as far as projects I'm working on and people I know that I feel it's just a continuation of the fall. While I haven't had a ton of classes, I've worked on a good number of different things: videos for the school's MLK Service day event, studying for the LSAT, etc. I feel like it's more than that though.

Chris passing away may be a big part of it. While that didn't directly affect anything here, it definitely changed my own little world in some way or other. Maybe just looking at how things were last week and how different they are now is what accounts for the fact that it feels so long ago.

This is my last semester of course. I guess I feel more ambivalent about that than anything else. I'm not in a hurry for it to be over, but then, neither do I want to drag it out as much as possible.

One thing is for sure: If things keep going how they have so far, it will be a very long semester.

Saturday, January 14, 2012

My Friend Chris

This is a picture of my friend Chris.

I've only ever had a few close friends, but Chris was one of them.

We were very different in some ways, but maybe that's why. He had a really hard life. Probably the worst life of anyone I've ever known. But he was also the most optimistic (to the point that it bothered me) and generally happy person I've ever known.

One thing we did have in common was music, and that was our main connecting point from the time he first moved to New York where we met. We were both learning to play guitar at the time, and while he quickly surpassed me, he was always my favorite person to jam with. We liked some of the same bands, and he introduced me to more and probably shaped my musical tastes more than any other one person.

I heard in some class or other that for men, your friends are individuals that you do things with. And while fate and geography kept us separated for the vast majority of our time, whenever we were in the same part of the country, Chris was somebody that I did things with, whether it was playing guitar and talking about music late at night on the balcony of his first apartment, sneaking into bars when we were underage, or driving all night to see a band and explore a city we had never been in before.

If you know me, you might be thinking some of that sounds out of character, and maybe it is, because Chris was the only guy I ever did that kind of thing with. I'm not entirely sure why that is, but I think part of it was how much he enjoyed life... even when it didn't go as planned. Things that would have ruined my day normally just felt like part of the adventure when I was with him––something that would make a story we would laugh about months or years later.

And there are a good number or those stories. I'll always be glad to remember them. Sadly, though, there won't be any more, because Chris died on Thursday. And I don't know what to do.

I will miss you my friend.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

A Walk with Mom

I kept very busy the last couple days of Christmas vacation, and that busyness continued up through my return drive to Tennessee the day before yesterday. My break up until that point was blissfully lackadaisical, interrupted only by activities such as attending functions related to my extended family; the dynamics of which could be reasonably compared to the politics of Europe sometime between the World Wars, unintentionally becoming an accomplice in a drug deal in New York State; an experience which caused me to cross drug-dealer off my list of potential occupations, and eating extremely well. This lifestyle was brought to an abrupt end when I decided––for reasons that were not entirely clear to me then or now––to take the LSAT this February. Since to the best of my ability to discern my own desires, I do not want to continue my education or be an attorney, I cannot tell you what combination of subconscious suggestions by relatives, boredom, or the vague idea that I someday want to be wealthy and respected could have prompted me to sign up to take the infamous academic achievement test for entrance to law school. I can tell you, however, that I decided to while on a walk with my Mom, which brings us to the real point of this post.

One of my favorite things to do whenever I'm home, you see, is go for a walk with my Mom. I really only did once this vacation, and it was a rather cloudy day. Realizing I had taken nearly no photos all break though, I decided to grab my camera. It turned out the battery was almost dead, so I only had a limited number of shots. Sometimes I feel like that sort of thing can actually make for more interesting photos though. So here, in a mostly unedited sort of extended photo essay, is my Walk with Mom:

A January 2nd sky in Coryland PA.

Gas spilled on the pavement. The colors used to fascinate me to no end as a young child.

My Mom.
When I was little, I can remember my parents pushing me past this tree in a racing stroller. I always loved looking at the roots, which were visible because of erosion. I came home this time to find it had been chopped down. You can still see the roots though.

This vehicle was abandoned (I hear the owner has threatened to kill anyone who touches it, but for all practical purposes, abandoned) beside our road several years ago, and has not moved since. It vexes my Mom to no end.

Some kind of mechanism on the telephone line, the function of which I do not know, but can vaguely remember being told that it has something to do with squirrels.

Our walking companion of the last several years, Bella. For some reason my shots of her are always blurry. I could be using a DSLR or a cellphone. The result is the same.

Returning to our house at dusk.
My best photo is not here, unfortunately. You see I ordered a print of it for my Mom and I don't want her to see it here before she gets it. But maybe I'll post it later.