Cultural Learnings

I had no notion of it at the time, but when I was a child my parents were in the habit of making up words. It is true that every family has it’s own vocabulary, but most of the time it will not jump the confines of words that actually exist. No such constraints seemed to occur to us, and occasionally as an adult, I will find myself trotting out some expression of the created sort and receive anything from mild confusion to utter consternation in return.

The most famous and important (in the humble opinion of this author) example of this is:

Hodie: While it was generally used in a much broader context to mean anyone meddlesome or vexing but still pretty cute, I have over time co-opted this appellation to particular use as the main Nom-de-Plume for my child. However, it can and is still applied in the wider framework mentioned before. Should I spy a particularly charming little mischief, I will remark

“Oh, lookit the little hodie.”

but other examples of the concocted language of my life abound. Also in the pantheon we find:

Phlegmbot: This one requires no translation, but is a colorful example of the created lexicon.

“You ate the last of the Doritos? God, but you are a phlegmbot.”

Yucky Grawdoo: Signifying anything odious or vile; particularly if in reference to something moist, damp, or viscous.

“This bathroom is not clean; there is yucky grawdoo all between the tiles.”

Having had a hodie of my own, it turns out this manipulation of language continues, spurred by the inevitable mispronunciation or misapprehension of words already existing:

Attackative: To imply an aggressive or unnecessarily harsh response:

“I am sorry that I ate all of the Doritos, but why do you have to be so attackative?”

Niblings: The children of one’s siblings, irrespective of their gender:

“All of the niblings will be in the pool, and one of them will probably poop in it.”

Duplica: A replica or duplicate of something else:

“My iPod got stolen by some pigdog* so I had to get a duplica.”

Packack: Something in which to tote and carry one’s belongings:

“Didn’t you make sure you put your sunscreen in your packack?”

Dudes: Sunglasses

“I am jealous of your styley-fresh Ray-Ban dudes.”

Mazagine & Nakmin: Magazine and napkin:

I saw this super hot babe in the mazagine and then I needed a nakmin to clean up the yucky grawdoo.”


It is of course, my fondest wish, to spread these linguistic gems as far and wide as I can. You know, V.D.


Vernacular Dispersion.






*The provenance of Pigdog is unclear, somehow I doubt we made that up.

What would you be?”

A stranger recently posed this one.  Anyone who knows me would know better. They wouldnt even consider asking, because they know I am scared of fish, and thus, imagining myself as a sea creature would be pretty much the worst sort of torture. And also, that hypotheticals of this type are annoying in the extreme and no one I consent to hang out with would ask such a stupid question.

However, when I refused to answer it for the person who did not know better, he did have a follow up question that set me thinking about something that was worth considering. He asked if I didn’t like hypothetical questions, did that mean I was unimaginative. And I realized, that yes, indeed, it sort of does.

 I think about things, in obsessive detail, but rarely make things up in my head. I am reflective, rather then generative, in most cases. I feel I am a good critic, in that it is a pleasure for me to asborb and weigh the work of another; to turn it over in my head and try to see it from all angles, inside and out. I like to play with language and thoughts, but mostly as an atrifact of something I have already taken in from elsewhere. The only “art” I even come close to feeling any chance of making decent is photography, but even that, deals often in concrete and I draw inspiration from observing what is not by conjuring what does not yet exist.

I do not however, as his question implied, say this in the vein of admitting this as a shortcoming. I think it is simply a matter of fact that some people are better at creating their own reality and then expressing it to others through various mediums, and others are better at interpreting the realities they encounter and functionalizing them. I happen to be of the latter stripe, but know damn well both are needed for a fully realized and satisfying creative endeavor to thrive.

I do not suffer from my failure of imagination; it just leaves me with the space to better appreciate what can be born of someone else’s.

Imagination III By realityDream from

“And if there come the singers and the dancers and the flute players, buy of their gifts also. For they too are the gatherers of fruit and frankincense, and that which they bring, though fashioned of dreams, is raiment and food for your soul.” ~The Prophet Kahlil Gibran

For in the everyday commerce of our lives, let us not forget the pleasures that sustain us. Not so much an admonition, this is instead the reminder that sweetness and indulgence too have their place in a well-ordered soul. The aesetics took their task too far; by denying all pleasure they forget we are enabled us feel joy and ecstasy in that we may have a hint of the divine. We must conduct our business, indeed, but so too must we nurture the vessel by which the work is done.

This is not a blanket endorsement for debauchery  but instead the reminder that the simplest pleasures are worth your most precious commodity, be that time or effort, or indeed coin. That to engage in the material support of your own pleasure is the most satisfying use of the sweat of your brow. To truly earn your delights a great gift.


Fall asleep on the couch when you are strung out on cough syrup while watching a show about elephants in your half doze and then hope the next show is Nova where they talk about geothermal phenomenon, specifically sulfur springs, and then next some Jane Austen meanwhile kinda waking up four or five or seven or nine times.

It works.

There are those songs, you know.

Those songs which contain words and phrases that spell out the aching particulars of however you experience life and beauty and pain and truth.

We all have this soundtrack.; the songs that bring us immediately to a place or time or feeling. Without preamble or fanfare, we are fully and utterly lost to that moment, that emotion. And sometimes, they make no sense or they make a sense that only your insides can interpret. They are often profoundly unglamorous and leave us raw and exposed, but in the best possible way.

And today with my speakers up louder than I can usually have them at work, I heard again the line from a song that most says LOVE to me while I listen. It is contained in a song about stumbling upon love while not yet free to have it. It is not a scenario I have ever found myself in, yet it cries out with the most beautiful poignancy what I most feel… and want to feel from someone else, about love.

There have been others: they tell a story about the way my concept of love has changed

Ghost by The Indigo Girls “Of all my demon spirits I need you the most”

I always felt like this song was about being in love with the idea of someone, rather than their actual person. About idealizing someone past the point of all reason so that you could have no real hope of loving them in actuality. This is something I know well how to do. This was my idea of love when I was a sophomore in high school. It still tugs at me though…

Do What You Have to Do by Sarah McLachlan “And I have the sense to recognize that I don’t know how to let you go”

Some part of me is convinced that love has to hurt. That it isn’t real if you don’t ache for the lack of the other. Probably too large a part of me indeed. The quality of love I most readily recognize is the sort that causes me to lose myself so completely in the feeling that I become someone else as a result. the person I was before ceases to exist and so, in a very real sense I struggle with the notion of losing anyone I come to truly love, for it would result in becoming Not Me, at least Not the Me I’d been ever since falling in love had made me Someone New. Plus also, I just don’t like to let go.

Steam Engine by My Morning Jacket Your skin looks good in moonlight, goddamn those shaky knees”

This song was just eerily appropriate for the love I was falling in at the time I first heard the song. I had never had someone so enamored of me as was the boy who was the object of my affection at the time. I had never had anyone speak with such fervor about how beautiful he thought I was; about the effect I had on him with the mere fact of my presence. This was the lesson of being adored as an aspect of love. It was a good lesson.

Crash by Dave Matthews Band “Hike up your skirt a little more, and show your world to me”

Far from being smutty, I find this line to be singularly romantic. It acknowledges the fundamental vulnerabilty inherent in revealing oneself this way. The faith, entire and unblemished, that accompanies such a gesture. It is an intoxicating moment, to feel that trust for someone else, and to feel it expressed toward you as well.

And now…

Challengers by The New Pornographers “Whatever the mess you are, you’re mine”

This, oh this, is what I have come to believe is really what love is about. Not that we do not see, or that we are made perfect by our love, but rather that we are seen, and known, and absolved, and loved nevertheless. I think I like this notion best. It feels truer, and wiser and more likely, when compared to the illusions and self-sacrifice of the past.

And I wonder, as I always do, about the quality of love that others feel. How it is sounded out across their lives. What resonates inside of them and carries them forward on waves of song…

It is the first Tuesday in November, and thus, election day. I myself managed to somehow fail to be registered to vote. Apparently when I moved, I didn’t submit a new registration with my change of address. When the well-meaning and earnest young people approached me on the train asking if I’d like to sign a petition, I blithely obliged them unaware my signature would be cast aside, invalid on accident.

When my ballot didn’t arrive along with that of my hosuemate a little light when on in my head, but then I failed to move fast enough to remedy the problem. Disenfranchised via scatterbrain.

This is, however only the 4th election in which I even had an interest in participating. I will shamefacely admit, I have only voted 3 times in my adult life. it wasn’t something my parents did, it always seemed sort of pointless, and I didn’t want to just vote without knowing what the issues were, and being politically well-informed is both moderately challening and intermittently depressing. I didn’t really want to make the effort, nor to cast an uninformed opinion into the sea of careless ballots.

But then. I joined the debate team in college, and I had no choice but to be politically informed. You can’t win a round without a pretty firm grasp on current events, and you can’t help but form opinions once you are exposed to the information. I became a rather rabid NPR listener, and eventually, felt excited about voting. However, this was recently enough that it’s still only been about 4 election cycles since I decided it was worth all the bother. 

And though I realize vote by mail is less expensive, increases turn-out, and is in every way logistically preferable, I am kinda sad I never got to try out the booth…

For those of you that DID your civic duty, my thanks.

in the continuing series: My Five Favorites

Magnolia is one of my very favorite movies ever. i unwisely lent my copy to some reprobate neighbor of mine about 5 years ago. Boo. Need to find it on DVD. My birthday’s comin!

It isn’t just because it helps me remember a more innocent time when watching tom cruise’s palpable intensity only moved me rather than creeping me out. nor only because jason robards delivers such a touching performance and i always wished he was my grampa ever since seeing “Max Dugan Returns” as a small child. the entire cast of this film moves together in a nuanced and tender way that exposes such loveliness and tragedy all at once.

i’ll help you solve the case, gotta get paid though, gotta get paidi somehow forgot how many little tics i picked up from this movie. the scene where the little boy raps to Officer Jim about the identity of the murderer is classic:

i say this constantly. and of course, we all know i subscribe to the Seduce and Destroy credo


likewise, when Frank TJ Mackey gets cornered in a lie by the reporter and clams up on her, she asks him what he’s doing, his reply:

i’m quietly judging you

classic scorching derision!!

and not only this, but Magnolia contains what is, for me, the singlemost moving and beautiful scene in any film i have ever watched; each cast member sings a line or two from Aimee Mann’s hauntingly lovely song “Wise Up” and it does not matter if they can, or if they are even conscious but only that they are all bound together in this moment of vulnerability and wonder.

so soon will burn. Without a noise, without my pride. I reach out from the inside~ Peter Gabriel

In Your Eyes

Every part of my body feels this song. And not just because Lloyd Dobbler stood outside Diane Court’s window boombox aloft in what might have been the singlemost romantic gesture in modern cinematic history (though it didn’t hurt). It is the heartbeat tempo, the echoing voices, the abandon in Peter’s voice, his willing submission to the passion he feels for this woman. This is a song I want to make love to, to sing at the top of my lungs, to inspire someone to think about me when they hear it. It is utterly romantic and hear-rendingly lovely.

The first sentiment expressed in the song is about his profound loneliness; and I can relate. Somehow there is an experience of peace and contentedness that I only seem to find when I’m in the presence of someone who has totally consumed my attention. It can be easier to find myself when there is someone else to help me look…

This is what Google tells us spring break should look like...

This is what Google tells us spring break should look like…

despite the excitement i no doubt generated by the enthusiasm of my heading, i have to admit, mine was pretty dull.

i worked. i had medical procedures. WOO HOO!!

i did throw up, but not in a good way. not in a “i had way too many mojitos” kind of way. more in a “when they tell you to take those antibiotics with food, they are not kidding” kind of way. as much as i loathe vomiting (and rest assured, i loathe it more than almost all else in life) i am proud to report i can now claim the honor of having vomited while driving a moving vehicle down the freeway and managed

A) not to crash


B) not to get any on me

this makes me inordinately proud.

no one else i know had any fun either, though, so i don’t feel like it was all my fault spring break was a bit of a bust. when i asked hodie what the best thing about HER spring break was she said and i quote

“going to the dentist”

top THAT for excitement!!

not that i claim to have my finger on the pulsing throbbing hemmorhoid of pop culture or anything, but i like to think i’m good at recognizing people who have been in movies i have seen. it’s kind of an obsessive hobby of mine;

“oh, that guy was in the 3rd to last episode of Arrested Development, and the commercial for Olestra, and Dune.”

but there is NO WAY i would have been able to identify


ignore the black baby for a second

ignore the black baby for a second

as the same guy as THIS GUY

seriously. i could have stared at it all day and all night and all damn day again.

and since i am not a huge fan of the humiliation humor, and i think this new project will project will be just as squirm-worthy as his last offering… i say yikes.

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