It's Not A Disaster

A poem:

One Art
by Elizabeth Bishop

The art of losing isn't hard to master;
so many things seem filled with the intent to be lost
that their loss is no disaster.

Lose something every day.
Accept the fluster of lost door keys, the hour badly spent.
The art of losing isn't hard to master.

Then practice losing farther, losing faster:
places, and names, and where it was you meant to travel.
None of these will bring disaster.

I lost my mother's watch.
And look! my last, or next-to-last, of three loved houses went.
The art of losing isn't hard to master.

I lost two cities, lovely ones.
And, vaster, some realms I owned, two rivers, a continent.
I miss them, but it wasn't a disaster.

--Even losing you (the joking voice, a gesture I love) I shan't have lied.
It's evident the art of losing's not too hard to master
though it may look like (Write it!) like disaster.


In a Nutshell

I laid the Hyundai to rest last week. Yeah, she had major mechanical issues going on (not to mention all of the exterior bumps and bruises) and I think given another month or so of opportunity, she would've simply died on me (probably during rush hour at a major intersection). So last week I made the hefty decision to get a different, less troubled, vehicle.

The whole process went surprisingly smooth - well, as smoothly as any major decision involving a large dose of commitment can go I guess. The car salesman was very friendly and as this lengthy car buying/car trading process commenced, we would chit chat, naturally. For instance, he learned I was from Pennsylvania and he confided he was from Poughkeepsie, so of course we talked about snow. Just light, easy banter...casual conversation to avoid any awkward or uncomfortable silences. He shared anecdotes about his children. I smiled and nodded.

Then, inevitably, at some point he brought up my occupation.

Him: "So you're an architect? *big smile* I thought about being an architect for a while."
Me: *smile*
Him: "That must be fun. Do you enjoy it?"
Me: "Yeah I really do...of course, there are aspects of it that don't suit me, but generally it makes me happy"
Him: "So what made you decide to go into architecture?"

Whoa! Okay, listen buddy! we are having a LIGHT, CASUAL exchange of words here to pass the time: ya know, weather-esque sort of conversation! I sat there for a minute thinking how to answer his question in a few short conversational words instead of launching into a long, philosophically-oriented monologue. I didn't really want to answer. I know he was just being friendly and polite, but that is a heavy question for me - a question I don't want to be flippant about and address with a casual, off-the-cuff answer.

On the other hand, I also didn't want to explain to him how I have a degree in art and how my passion and respect for visual art developed. How I became fascinated with installation art and land art. How I spent my evenings drawing pieces of the human skeleton in an effort to understand structure. How I would pause to admire the solidness and mystery of a door and suddenly need to sketch it. And how I eventually came to the realization that architecture, of all visual art forms, has the greatest potential to profoundly impact our everyday lives.

Architecture is powerful. And I am drawn to that power. Architecture is invasive. It's not an art form that can be safely kept out of our sphere behind closed museum or gallery doors. Often times it's not even something we have a choice about experiencing or interacting with. Architecture is confrontational - not always aggressively so, sometimes gently, benignly, even affectionately. Architecture is a rare hybrid art form - each element contributes to a delicate balance of functionality and pure art. Developing and maintaining that fine line is exciting. Working with the kind of potential that architecture offers is exhilerating. It feels epic, it feels like being a part of something greater than yourself, that could really matter.

So, Mr. Car Salesman, that, in a nut shell, is why I decided to go into architecture. Now, what about this beautiful weather we've been having lately?


Coincidence? Not.

"Can we trace the chain of events that leads to our own birth? Is our existence just coincidence? Do little things matter?"

These are the questions posed by the lovely animated short The Danish Poet.

F. and I took part in the Nashville Film Festival Saturday night and attended the Animated Shorts 1 program with the theory that sometimes the simplest things convey the deepest meaning.

While this theory did not hold true for the animated short, Atomic Banana (I know, how could a film about a chimp, a mad scientist and molecular transformation be anything but transcendant? - trust me, it was profoundly idiotic), it most certainly did for The Danish Poet (which, as you may know, won the Oscar this year for Best Animated Short).

The success of this film lies partly in the sweet simplicity of the story told with an innocent and gentle humor. On the surface there is a depressed poet, a muse, a rainy day, a clumsy cow, a faulty mail delivery system...a series of seemingly random events and coincidences that eventually lead to the very existence of the narrator. And we (the audience) are left wondering if coincidence even exists or if life is just a series of chance events.

Is it that every seemingly little thing that happens in life, happens for a reason, even when we may not be privy to the reason? Or are we all just floating around, being bumped and directed (or misdirected) by happenstance and coincidence? I don't know, maybe it doesn't matter - ultimately it comes to the same thing, free will or not, there are things which happen beyond our control that lead to and shape our lives. The Danish Poet was an enchanting reminder that life is not necessarily random.

What's Your Battle Cry?

Skulking through the desert, swinging a bladed baseball bat, cometh Cathryn! And she gives a gutteral scream:
"Blood and souls for my dark lord! I carve into flesh with reckless abandon!!"
Yes, friends, that is my "official" battle cry. Cool, huh? - although why I'm skulking through the desert I have no idea. Seeing as how F. will periodically, randomly even, break into the Spartan battle cry, and how Bethany and I are convinced we're directly descended from Viking warrior women, when I saw this nifty little Battle Cry tool on Joanna's blog, of course I eagerly typed in my name. The link is below for your bloodthirsty amusement. Let me know what your Battle Cry is in case we meet in a dark alley (or in the desert).


Night at the Opera

It was a dark and stormy night...eh, not exactly...more like dark and drizzly - and COLD. The valet parking nazi wouldn't let us cut in front of the line of cars waiting to be parked (go figure!), so while the clock ticked ominously toward curtain opening and drizzle continued to muck up the windshield as we waited to be parked, we entertained ourselves by making odd, irritating - but completely hilarious - noises. Don't ask, you had to be there - the only reason I mention it is because it made an episode later in the evening that much more comical.

So we finally get inside the theater and find our seats just as the lights dim (perfect timing really). Okay, so I think I've established before that I like opera. Nerdy, I know - but I make no apologies. Opera is a very formal type of entertainment in that it is highly stylized, over-dramatized, story telling. One does not go to the opera to enjoy subtle acting nuances or brilliant bits of insightful scriptwriting. With opera, the story and dialogue are both secondary to the vocal and symphonic performances. The story is merely a vehicle for displaying the vocal and musical talents and as such, often comes across as melodramatic, corny, eye-rolling, triteness. Which is why sometimes it's almost better to ignore the translation screen.

The first act passed without incident - it was lovely and I was transported. F., on the other hand, was having a hard time staying awake. We hadn't gotten to any of the well-known arias yet, which was apparently the only thing that would keep him conscious.

So, F. was seated on my left. To my right (I was pleasantly surprised to notice) perched a wizened gnome. No kidding. A little old man - I'm guessing about a hundred and ten. The top of his white head didn't even clear my shoulder. Completely adorable. I don't know whether or not he was having difficulty staying awake too, but during the first part of the second act (and during the most famous aria of the entire opera), this tiny gnome accepted a piece of candy from his female companion and (I can't help laughing even as I type this) proceeded to rustle the wrapper in an effort (I can only assume) to open the treat (I'll be damned if it wasn't one of those butterscotch candies that elderly folk are so very fond of!).

For the first thirty seconds or so of rustling, the movement and the sound barely caught my attention. But then...it just went on and on...and on. It was that familiar and annoying scratchy, crinkly cellophane noise that typically lasts for a tolerable few seconds as the perpetrator unwraps the candy as quickly and quietly as possible. But, for some reason, the mechanics of the wrapper were simply eluding my little gnome and the rustling was ceaseless. And then after a couple of minutes, I looked over at F. and I just completely lost it! A fit of giggles overtook me and the more the gnome crinkled and fidgeted with his candy, the more I shook with laughter - I think I even snorted (loudly) at one point.

You know how one little thing can tickle you at an inopportune moment and then it just snowballs. And the more you try to contain your mirth, the harder it is to stop. So there we were...F. and I, shaking with laughter over the incessant crinkly noises issuing forth from my gnome who, I really think was so concentrated on getting that damn butterscotch unwrapped, was completely oblivous to our plight. At one point, the rustling abruptly stopped and we managed to calm ourselves down. But then it started again! - the same piece of candy - the gnome was merely resting his weary fingers (I think that was the point where I snorted).

Aaaaaanyway, after my gnome finally conquered the wrapping and settled down to sucking on his butterscotch, and F. settled down to a nap, I returned my attention to the tragic Madame Butterfly and the beautiful sounds of the opera. It was a great night.


Berries & Creme


Bethany brought this commercial to my attention (of course she did!). You just know the writers who came up with this did so late, late at night after gorging on pixie sticks and Cokes.


Happy effin' Birthday to me

Blah. At 12:16 am EST on this date in 1976, I saw the light - literally. Past the age of twelve, birthdays have ceased to make me happy (well except for the surprise party Jen and Donna threw for my 18th birthday - that was fun)...instead they just make me sad. And it's not about the age thing really (although I can't say I am rejoicing at now being IN my 30's instead of just 30). Birthdays are naturally melancholic - for me anyway; too reflective or something. I feel like staying home from work today and just letting this day go by without notice. But I won't. Again, blah.

On a brighter non-birthday related topic, I have my first tennis league match of the season tonight. Yay!

Editor's Note: Strike that - no tennis to cheer me up tonight...my opponent called and asked to reschedule for Sunday. *sigh*


Easter Battle

I am sad and disheartened to report that there is a veritable war going on at my office. Factions are forming. Alliances have been sealed. There has been passionate debate going on all week. Those who were once friends have turned to bitter rivals almost overnight. It has been harrowing to say the least.

What, you ask, could be the cause of such destructive behavior? Religious differences? Political stances? Moral and ethical dilemmas? No. No. And no. Even worse....brace yourselves....candy. Candy is the source of our "Eve of Destruction". Easter candy to be more precise. A great divide between those who love Cadbury Creme Eggs and those who adore Reese's Peanut Butter Eggs; a chasm filled with distrust, misunderstanding, and fear.

True enough, I fall on the side of Cadbury Creme Eggs, but I accept all candy preferences and orientations. After all, isn't it all just one piece of the great sugary goodness? Can't we all just enjoy our preferred Easter candy and extend tolerance to those who don't share our preference (yes, even to the poor lost souls who prefer Jelly Beans or Peeps). Let us lay aside our differences and embrace our shared love and enjoyment of Easter candy. Let us not revert to violence and insults. Tolerance my friends...tolerance...


Power Failure

Adios, fluorescent slave drivers!
Hola, gentle daylight.

So long, glowing screen of productivity!
Greetings, chatter and laughter.

Farewell, stern time-keepers!
Welcome, giggling in a darkened hallway.

Good-bye, technology!
Hello, human interaction.

We were without power at work today for nearly an hour. No lights, no phones, no computers, no elevators, no air conditioning...well, you get the idea. Needless to say, the lack of modern technology was fairly alarming and positively crippling. It was fun! People got stuck in the elevator and firemen had to come to get them out! It was great! And it was somewhat surprising to realize there was really very little productive work we could do under the extraneous circumstances...so, we all just milled around, chatting and joking.

As a kid I always loved when we would have a storm and the power would go out at our house. Maybe it was simply the novelty of having no modern (by my childhood standards) conveniences. My parents would light oil lamps and my sister and I would dig out our flashlights and whip the beams around the room to create a "disco" effect. Sometimes we'd play a boardgame by candlelight (usually Monopoly) or we'd pop popcorn on our gas stovetop or Bethany and I would try to tell ghost stories to each other and then get totally freaked out. It was great. It was a giant step out of routine and normalcy and today at the office it was no different. Well....there was no popcorn or Monopoly...but there was a refreshing break from the expected. A break from technology. I would suggest routine power failures...but then of course that would defeat the fun, unexpected quality of the situation.


Definition of a Crush?

CRUSH [kruhsh]

Noun - Informal: an intense but usually short-lived infatuation.
Verb - (used with object): to press or squeeze with a force that destroys or deforms; become injured, broken or distorted by pressure.

I had this oddly interesting conversation regarding the definition and/or nature of crushes a couple of weeks ago and for some reason it has resurfaced in my mind today. The gist of my friend's opinion was that a crush can easily be viewed as negative (as opposed to harmless and flirty), even destructive, to both parties involved (the crusher and the crushee). Putting unrealistic expectations on a person, building them up in your head, planning a future and then not having those expectations met is emotionally devastating. Well, sure. But, that scenario seems more like obsession rather than an innocuous little crush. When you start naming your unborn children, it has probably moved beyond the crush stage!

For a thirteen year old girl, a crush is cutting pictures out of TeenBeat to tape to her bedroom wall. A crush is pretending to be really interested in stamp collecting so you'll have an opportunity to talk to him. A crush is finding out his class schedule so that maybe you'll accidentally bump into him in the hall.

The idea of a crush has always seemed very innocent and sweet...not all-consuming and obsessive - more of a secret admirer rather than a secret stalker. My insightful friend then brought potentiality into the equation. This was in response to my rather flippant, "well so what?" So what if a person has an obsessive crush - that's their prerogative, right? We're responsible for our own feelings. Well, if the crush stems from a place where there is absolutely no potential, then it will result in unnecessary pain. So, the trick then (if you are the crusher) is figuring out if there's potential or not (hey, there could be potential with me and JT - you don't know!). Or, (in the case of the crushee) if you are perceptive enough to detect that someone has a crush on you and know that there is no potential, then do you have a responsibility to tell them so? Yes, it's all very complicated.

Therefore, I plan to steer clear of crushes from now on just avoid any inherent complications or presuppositions. So when my phone rings and I see his name on my screen, and my stomach does a little happy flip... and when I see or hear something that makes me think of him, and I break into a smile... and when I look forward to seeing him. This is not a crush...this is a...what? A like? An admire? A respect? An enjoyment? A non-obsessive crush? Hmmm...I'll have to come up with an appropriate title. Or maybe it shouldn't be labeled at all.