Saturday, September 4, 2010

Fate Stay/Night - When Cicadas Cry

red dream at the riviera, palm springs, 2010

Most people don't plan a big trip to the desert in August. Afternoon saw the mercury hovering between 112 and 115 degrees F. Nights, the needle dipped all the way down to 97. The pool retained the comfort of a gargantuan bath and we had to keep the dogs inside so they wouldn't fry their little paw pads on the stone surrounding our floating adventures. Downtown streets throbbed in the heat of deserted mirages. In fact, it occurred to me that maybe the word "deserted" came from the absence of people in the desert because it's so deadly. Maybe I'm a little linguistically slower than I like to admit. Summer here: it's like living in a toaster. And that's why I planned it. It's hard to be miserable with a pool two steps away and everything humming with freon, your loved ones bobbing up and down all around you. Wiffle ball. Fantastic homemade dinners. A rented house crammed with laughing. Happy hours at fancy hotels, we, a fantastic amoeba of quiet mirth amid bored, friendly service and astounding chandeliers. I love Palm Springs. I have big pans to retire there, with many other old Jews, gays, sculpted succulent gardens and my deafening, beautiful, fascinating friends, the cicadas. 

The Magic Cicada, Tony Fitzpatrick, 
Cicadas are the oldest insect in North America. They look like dinosaurs, kind of, probably because they have such a sound design, they haven't had to evolve so much over the years. The tribe of cicadas were shedding their shells long before the US government declared the city founded in 1896, and long before the Agua Caliente Band of Cahuilla Indians spent a thousand years in the Coachella Valley, surviving just fine, thanks, before the Spaniards and the reservations. The cicadas saw it all. Emerging from the ground in August to hang out, shed, and mate for a few months, these insects, at least the dudes, rub their wings together and bang them on their hollow abdomens to get chicks. Some dudes play guitar, some bang bellies. The Palm Springs cicadas are on various 3 or 17 year cycles, but overlapping, and so each summer they show up, vibrato and horny, filling the entire valley with song. The house on Sagebrush Road sported several cicada hollows, former homes of the crooners still clutching the white adobe of the walls. The things are indestructible, perfect. Together, the band  creates a sound so cacophonous, panicking visitors often telephone city offices reporting the sound of fallen electrical wires. 

On my fortieth birthday, I lay on a bright pink floaty covered in spray on SPF 50, my eyes behind a pair of Ray Bans I have somehow managed to neither crush nor lose in the last four years. I roasted, I mused, I sang myself little songs from the last decade. I thought about the notion of beauty and insects, how the great American fear of ugliness has robbed me of so much experience. The hum of the insects is so constant, the human mind can edit it out for hunks of time, filtering unnotables to make room for new thought, but then at rest, their song returns, a sunstruck overture of regeneration. 

I spent my twenties trying to figure out who the world would want me to be, and setting out to be all those different versions each day. Exhausted by the impossible task, I spent my thirties trying to figure out who I wanted to be, and then who I actually was. Soothed by the task, I hope, like the cicadas, my cycle has come to just being, doing what I do, and showing up to do it, slicing away the figuring, the posturing, the relentless disappointment of the impossible. It was my wish then, on the blistering raft along under the sky in a borrowed body of water, witnessed by the massive congregation of bugs, to spend my forties accepting all the ways fear will come, and not to employ the infertile sidesteps and jigs that have done me no good over the years, but to stand in the fear and sing the song that comes naturally to me. No matter how off key. No matter how ugly. Just warble the deafening chorus I have to offer. 

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Night Swimming - REM

                                             delilah and biscuit, 2010

Since our last meeting here, I have been to the desert of Palm Springs, CA, turned 40, played soccer for the first time in about 15 years (we got our asses handed to us at a 6-1 loss, and I've never had so much fun losing anything in my life), and acquired a new family member. As a result, I am both tan and peeling, embarking on a new and incredibly exciting decade, barely able to move, and just the littlest bit amazed with my new pal, Biscuit Seinberg, respectively.

Please stay tuned for tonight's revelations about these events. In the mean time, here is a nice photo of Biscuit with his housemate Delilah, who once appeared on someone's birthday cake in a rented house in Palm Springs, holding court on the sheet cake as the temperatures outsde hovered at about 102 after sunset. Also note, Biscuit's filter was busted and leaked everywhere so it must be replaced this afternoon. Cloudy water from the sand dust. I look forward to vacuuming for the little guy. 

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Obsession - Animotion

love and shit, somerville, 2002

Dorothy Tennov was born in Montgomery County, Alabama. She was a professor of psychology at the University of Bridgeport for twenty years. In addition to being a professor of psychology she was also a student of the philosophy of science, most specifically the science of desire. 

Here is the woman who named the ultimate crushed out state of being. I wonder what drove her to that. Who was the person that had Dorothy in that particular place of heat? The place where, for weeks, months, even a year or so, a lady can't concentrate on much of anything. Except, well, you. The Other. The true desirable thing. There is little need for food, although no matter what one eats, it is the best thing to eat, EVER. It is a state in which everything becomes shinier, deeper, spicier, more gorgeous and beautiful. Unspeakably tender, and yet unbreakable. A person's heart puffs up into its most generous capacity, old grudges are ceremoniously evicted by fascination and beauty. Wounds heal. Muscles stretch. Adventure is the order of each day and a girl dips her toe in any number of oceans. She tries fois gras, skydiving, buys fresh flowers for the kitchen table. She discovers new fashionable styles that miraculously look incredible on her killer bod. Any body becomes beloved. She takes up smoking again, relined on her side, the line up her body like an old muscle car in the moonlight and the cigarette winds its smoke into the night, each inhallation accompanied by the appearance of perfect health. The pleasantly afflicted girl, has no use for sleep, really, perhaps four or five hours a night. Sometimes two and a nap later. She becomes an utter machine of productivity, dragging out old lists of dull chores that have been lolling about the subconscious for years, clogging up the joint and gathering dust. The chores are completed and the small victories pile up adding to the sense that the world is a universe of opportunities, magical psychological twinnings and ornate sensory olympics of delight. The state in which one might as well be dining with unicorns.

Now, like any ultimate state, the coin bears both a heads, and a waggly tail. Or, on a bad day, A spiked, evil, scaly tail with poison in it. During the height of limerence, thoughts become not just persistent, but downright intrusive. Which is to say, limerence is a condition of obsession. Everything is associated with the object of desire. EVERYTHING. All horoscopes refer back to this person: the news, travel, hunks of conversation overheard at the next table in the taqueria, plot lines of Friends reruns in which you find yourself identifying with Ross and Rachel so hardcore, it becomes poignant, dare I say poetic?

According to the good universe at large throwing data into the sack of Wikipedia: 

The constant thoughts about the limerent object define all other experiences. If a certain thought has no previous connection with the limerent object, immediately one is made. Limerent fantasy is unsatisfactory unless rooted in reality, because the fantasizer may want the fantasy to seem realistic and somewhat possible. (...) Otherwise, the long fantasy is anticipatory; it begins in the everyday world and climaxes at the attainment of the limerent goal. A limerent fantasy can also involve an unusual, often tragic, event...

Side effects include heart palpitations, trembling, pallor, and flushing. Also on the possible menu we have awkwardness, stuttering, shyness, confusion, dizziness, fainting, headaches, and, as we've noted, loss of appetite. There is apprehension, nervousness, and anxiety. Amid this circus a condition of sustained alertness, and razor of awareness develop coupled with an enormous trust fund of entitled energy. 

The sensation of limerence is felt in the midpoint of the chest, bottom of the throat, guts, or in some cases in the abdominal region.This can be interpreted as ecstasy at times of mutuality, but its presence is most noticeable during despair at times of rejection.

The nice side of it can feel akin to a big hit of clean ecstasy coming on, a pile of great cocaine that was free, or a huge toke of a glass pipe of dull blue crystal meth reeking pleasantly of wet mimeograph paper. I am not choosing drug metaphors either because I happen to have dabbled a bit in the past, or because I am making an attempt to be a cutting edge person frolicking on the fringe of society with too much eyeliner and bad skin. I'm doing it because this shit is actually based on drugs. Your body manufactures drugs this good. And like any strong controlled substance, it's pretty ugly when the unicorns you are dining with unzip their faces to reveal themselves as hungry minotaurs escaped from the maze. 

Me? I love love. I love falling in love. I love being in love, witnessing love, documenting love, honoring love, and depicting love. I love ceremony and tawdry demonstrations. I love Julia Roberts films and Meg Ryan movies before she went and fucked up her face. I have no shame about cheezy or over the top. And I also love the story of Limerence run amok. A bunny on the stove. Extreme limerant problems. 

splendored thing, indeed. 

And getting there, a veritable feast of dangerous delights.

So be careful out there people, 
but not so careful 
you don't show up to have the time of your life. 

And have dessert. 
It's delicious.

Sara Elise

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Ballad of Big Nothing

From our friends at Merriam-Webster Online Dictionary:

Main Entry: 1ex·tra 
Pronunciation: \ˈek-strə\
Function: adjective
Etymology: probably short for extraordinary
Date: 1757
1 a : more than is due, usual, or necessary : additional <extra work> b : subject to an additional charge <dessert is extra>
2 : superior <extra quality>

Main Entry: 2ordinary
Function: adjective
Etymology: Middle English ordinarie, from Latin ordinarius, from ordin-, ordo order
Date: 15th century
1 : of a kind to be expected in the normal order of events : routineusual <an ordinary day>
2 : having or constituting immediate or original jurisdiction; also : belonging to such jurisdiction
3 a : of common quality, rank, or ability <an ordinary teenager> b : deficient in quality : poorinferior <ordinary wine>
synonyms see common

Looking over these definitions carefully, it seems to me that the combination of the two might be defined by our dutiful Blogger, Sara Elise Seinberg, as

Additionally common or incredibly routine. 
Painfully boring.
Utterly usual.

Instead, as you read above, extraordinary is most probably where the very word extra came from. Meaning 


Everyday I am struck by how the very things I stroll by, say, ingest, hum, or listen to thoughtlessly, invariably end up being entire planets of fascination. Whether it be from the world of musculature, ink, topography, history, clothing, or melody, I find myself musing constantly on how the magic of the everyday somehow relegates itself to such a seamless existence, it becomes invisible. 

I'm throwing flour on the invisible man here, raising a glass of cool water to the fog drenched sky in order to ask, what the hell is the deal with the microclimates of San Francisco, anyhow? How did it slip the pages of history to not let us know that Freud's daughter lived her whole life with another woman, was buried with her? How does automatic transmission work and why? Does LSD create images in the brain, or does it lift a veil to reveal images already present? Why is Jessica Alba a working actress?

A stroll through the questions that perk up my days and the answers that keep me fascinated through the evenings. 

Won't you go for a walk along with me? We don't even have to talk at all, we can just look around side by side. It'll be great. I swear.

Sara Elise