27 May 2008

Closed for repairs.

I'm taking a little Crowcrastination break. It's getting more and more difficult for me to come up with any sort of content. Partly this is because my attention span rarely exceeds 20 seconds. Mostly, it is because I don't feel good.

Please be well for me.

21 May 2008

Bad Coffee

A few days ago, I was caught on all fours with my head stuck into a rhododendron. My apartment managers, on their way out to some adventure or another, had the good sense to ask me what the heck I was doing. Panicked, I took my head out of the bush and looked at the incriminating scoop in my left hand, and a partially emptied jar of coffee grounds in my right.

"Fertilizing?" I asked. I suddenly felt like I had admitted to being up to no good.

"Are you going to have enough to do the azaleas out back?"

Coffee experts will claim that I drink bad coffee on a regular basis. I don't drink enough coffee to use the beans within a few days of the roasting process. I don't own a coffee grinder, so I do one mass grind and I let the grinds get nice and stale before I use them all. And, even though I have two oft touted apparatus for brewing coffee, I most frequently use those dastardly paper filters. One of my coffee slinging compadres told me that I might as well wake up and make myself a steamy mug of shit soup because I probably couldn't taste the difference. Ah, touché, my barista buddy; I'm sure you can really pick up every nuance of flavor while chain smoking those American Spirits.

A few weeks ago, I was given a tub full of coffee at a dinner party. My host had spent the day cleaning out her pantry, and being that I've recently become everyone's favorite charity case, I was gifted with the coffee along with two cans of clam chowder and a box of instant pudding. I was quite pleased, because I was getting down to the last few cups of coffee in my stash of beans.

When I tried the coffee, I was not impressed. In fact, the nicest way I can think of to describe this coffee is an understated, "Gross." Still, I thought I'd persist with drinking this coffee, glowering into each cup. I couldn't doctor this coffee in any sort of way that improved its taste. I resigned myself to grimace and bear it.

I'm not one to keep my mouth shut if I don't like something. While this is not one of my more laudable qualities, it has often served my sense of self-preservation. I let it slip that I'd been drinking coffee with a bad case of nasty to several people. The response was unanimous: "Get rid of it!"

I couldn't justify just tossing the coffee, but I felt a little better about buying a new stash if I could use the old gunk to fertilize my building's plant life. I went to the store, picked out some new beans. Today I brewed my first cup, and it's not much better. While I'm not reacting to it with a resounding, "YUCK!" like the previous batch, I'm still wondering how long I'll be able to tolerate the over-abundance of green top notes. To make matters worse, I've got a stomach ache. I think I know the culprit.

09 May 2008

Green Porno Addict

Cover your eyes, ye puritans. I'm hot and bothered about Green Porno on sundancechannel.com. Honestly check it out. It's more benign than its title may suggest.

Isabella Rossellini is the creative wits behind a new series of film shorts about the birds and the bees. Or, more precisely, the earthworms and the bees. It's nature. With an art department. And a sexy accent!

I don't want to give too much away about this wonderfully bizarre series. I cannot guarantee that it's Safe for Work material, but it certainly un-furrowed my brow for a bit this afternoon. It also proved once again that a big vocabulary is the quickest way to my heart with lines like, "I dig my palpi in her epigyne... and run off!"

While I'm busy plugging stuff, may I also give a nod to Theatre Vertigo's The Long Christmas Ride Home. The production is vital, heartfelt, and an excellent testament to Paula Vogel's masterful storytelling. It plays Thursdays, Fridays, and Saturdays at 8:00 pm through May 17, 2008.

Oh, and speaking of masterful storytelling, I just finished Cormac McCarthy's The Road. Like, wow.

08 May 2008

On Broadway

I was walking down the street yesterday afternoon when I see a gentleman approaching from the opposite direction. I presume he's homeless based on his appearance. He's coming up to everyone he passes on the street and briefly engages them in conversation.

This is when I notice something. Not one person is shaking their head no. Nor is anybody reaching for change. I start to get a bit excited at the prospect of talking to him. What is he going to say?

At last, it's my turn. He smiles at me, and holds up a Scantron form that I recognize as a ballot.

"I just voted for the first woman president!" he says. "She's going to clean up this whole place. Just like my Mom used to clean up the whole house."

Ah. Progress. So bittersweet.

07 May 2008

I'm the next act, waiting in the wings.

I have been thinking about boundaries lately. Or, judging by the long list of saved blog drafts, it's something I think about more often than one might expect. The dynamic between concealment and candor is something that has fascinated me for a long while. I think, for a time, I even garnered a bit of a reputation for taking a bit of a sadistic pleasure in playing with this dynamic in social spheres.

Revealing that in typeset, I realize that I risk being read as evil. In my defense, may I offer that my actions are not manifest in the intentionally manipulative or malicious, but rather an indefatigable sense of "what would happen if?" To speak in more figurative terms, while everyone else is dancing awkwardly around the proverbial elephant in the room, I might walk up to it and stick a tiara on it's head. And I would take pride in doing so, because pachyderms are regal beasts and I feel they are deserved such an adornment.

So I've been considering the notion of privacy within the context of this blog, particularly since Mama Crow now frequents the page. Something I've slowly come to accept is that this is a place where I must speak quite explicitly about my experience with depression.

Whenever I talk about depression in this forum, I will inevitably find an email in my Inbox from a long lost friend who will admit to reading something I've written here. Their message will often include a precarious benediction to talk about my experience because some scrap of what I've said is exactly what they needed to hear. They'll say, "My therapist just told me that I have a touch of the bipolar." That's funny. So do I.

I recently reconnected with a friend who was witness to my first, and most severe go around with the disease. She has repeatedly commended me for my "bravery" in speaking candidly about my experience. There isn't anything brave about it at all. When I feel depressed, there often isn't anything else I can talk about.

For the past three months, I've spent almost every day sitting in a dark apartment, curled up in a ball, listening to Radiohead on my headphones. Before writing this, I spent probably twenty some-odd minutes staring at the coil of a burner on my stove. I don't want to spend my days doing this, but I don't have much control over what I can and cannot do.

Early on, I would call my mom and explain, exasperated, "I can't do ANYTHING!" After a while I stopped because I didn't really see what purpose it served. One of the many things I could not do was explain what I meant by "anything." In hindsight, I might have said, "Anything other than wipe my own ass and even that is harder than it should be." I believe the French have a term for this, esprit d'escalier.

There is something incredibly safe about being depressed to the point of emotional paralysis. I think Beckett captured the sensation in Didi and Gogo: "I can't go on like this./That's what you think." Somehow, we endure, wrapped in a cocoon of hopelessness. If nothing will come from nothing, surely stasis is better than the alternative.

I think people who have not experienced this level of depression do not understand the security in this sort of despair. I think this misunderstanding becomes dangerous when it relates to feeling a little better. Someone that has not been there will interpret an admission of feeling a little better as an improvement. A depressed person knows differently. Feeling a little better is a much more frightening place to be.

05 May 2008

Curiosity killed the crow.

There's two vacant apartments in my building. I'm delighted by this, but not because of the prospect of new neighbors. I'm glad because it the building managers left the doors to the apartments wide open. Isn't an open door merely an invitation to come inside?

Before crossing the threshold, I had flashbacks of fairy tale children wandering into an unknown cottage and subsequently being baked into a pie. I weighed my options, and figured my prospects for survival were pretty good. I'm also pretty sure the doors were left open intentionally, in case a resident is looking for an upgrade of sorts. I'm not in the market, but I didn't think there was any harm in having a poke around.

I love empty rooms. The space is so promising. I look around an empty space and I'm filled with stories of what has happened here and what events will follow. I ask myself, "How does a life fit in here?" as if it were a puzzle and the pieces are furniture and personal history. It's a blank canvas and an empty page.

04 May 2008

Teach them what they need to know for life.

Last night I went to see a production of The History Boys at Portland's A.R.T. My mind wandered during much of the second act. I am reluctant to admit this, but most second acts require a pretty adamant work on my part as a spectator.

During lackluster productions, I might be thinking about something menial, like my grocery list. When I'm interested in or challenged by the content, I'm inspired to go on a sort of intellectual tangent wherein I apply the ideas in the play as a filter to my own experience. If I had a little more restraint, I might try to save this mental gymnastics for the moments after the show. Maybe part of me knows better; if I'm not flying solo, I'm bound to be talking about the production with other theatre cronies and I have a hard time formulating my adjunct perspectives during these chats.

Yesterday's performance got me thinking about my experience at an all-girl's high school. Like the boy's school in Bennet's play, my college preparatory experience was similarly steeped in an environment that thrived on academic achievement, gendered perspectives and long-standing traditions.

While I was a student, the school's motto, "Ora et Labora" was rapidly being substituted with a more modern and secular slogan. Like the original, the phrase had supposedly been divined from the school's founder, St. Julie Billiart herself. Subsequently it had been passed down by the Sister's of Notre Dame de Namur for centuries until it found its new home on every letterhead and publication regurgitated to girls, parents, prospective students and alumnae.

The phrase, "Teach them what they need to know for life," has been applied liberally throughout the school's 160 year history. Based on photographs of early graduates, the school functioned as a finishing school for San Jose's Catholic society set. Each graduate specialized in either harp or piano. By the time I graduated, much the curriculum had expanded. We didn't have any sort of a music program, but we were required to have a certain level of competency on a computer.

I don't have fond memories of high school. While certain events and individuals stand out as being positive experiences, my memory is largely colored by the fact that I was bored, frustrated, and a tad righteous. I'd read a majority of the English curriculum before I'd even matriculated, and I'd regularly pick fights with my teachers about why we were studying Steinbeck without any mention to the fact that we were living in Steinbeck country. In short, I was a real pain in the ass.

I sat through the show last night thinking about instances in which Notre Dame actually taught me what I needed to know for life. I came up with a short list. Not surprisingly, I haven't cooked up a flattering collection of life lessons. Perhaps to the credit of my educators, not one of these lessons is explicitly related to the classroom curricula.

We All Wear Blinders

I ran into a classmate on a visit to my hometown. We went out for coffee where she was eager to talk about the gossip and scandals of our school days. She brought up another girl with whom I was not terribly well acquainted who had supposedly gone down to Los Angeles to have a rather controversial type of abortion during our senior year. I had to admit that I had not noticed that this girl was even pregnant.

"How could you not know? She was at least five months along," my cohort protested.

I replied that I was severely depressed and that I had put all my energy to attain some semblance of normalcy. My coffee companion said she had no idea, despite the fact that we ran in the same circles. How could she not know?

I have two theories. One, we sometimes choose what we perceive in order to survive. Or, two, I am a better actor than I believe myself to be.

Woman-on-Woman Hate is Rampant

If I had to give a short answer on the perpetuation of the glass ceiling, I would cite woman-on-woman hate as a culprit. I'm not saying every woman should run out and vote for Hillary. But from what I've witnessed, women are seldom champions of one another.

Between snide, underhanded remarks and the outright cutthroat bitchery, the only thing keeping a girls high school away from prime time soap territory is the lack of sexual tension on campus. I've seen nice girls lie and cheat their way to the top. With a smile on their face. Judgment, resentment, jealousy, opportunism. It's all here. Ambition and cruelty are tenuous bedfellows, and a girl's school is like a petri dish full of their collective venereal diseases.

How did Elizabeth I become one of history's greatest Machiavellians? She had a sister. And they didn't like each other very much.

Box Pleats Are Not Flattering on Anyone

I have visual evidence, but I refuse to put it to use.