Friday, February 3, 2012

Gasworks, stars, and planets

So I'm sitting in my car after walking through Gasworks looking at the stars and planets. As part of my 2012 resolution to get serious about writing again, I figured it would be a good time for a blog post.

I haven't traditionally been much of an astronomer, but I'm pretty sure that this month is a fantastic one for astronomy hobbyists. Venus is currently about an hour from setting, with Jupiter high in the sky. A few minutes before Venus sets, Mars will rise in the east, and towards midnight, Saturn will be visible. Later this month, Mercury will be visible.

I've spent a lot of time recently watching documentaries on the cosmos. It takes me away from where I am and fills me with a sense of wonder about our universe. Since I'm currently an agnostic, I don't feel that it connects me to any particular celestial being, but my brain does somersaults trying to comprehend the vastness of space and the processes by which all we can see came to be.

I guess it's high time that I take up astronomy. Perhaps that's the most fitting way to remember a friend of mine that recently passed away from cancer; he was an avid astronomer, always able to spot the majority of the constellations in any sky.

It's Friday night and all I can think about is the stars. At least the stars are cheap--it wouldn't work right now to grab a drink or to go out to eat, because it's that time of the month when the eagle is most definitely grounded.

As I said, the stars take me away from it all. I've actually been considerably under the weather today; this morning it seemed like I would never be able to get moving, and I ended up being about two hours late for everything today. I was able to catch up, though, when there was a lull at my internship.

Like the stars, I feel spread thin. Nebulous, if you will. Foggy. One of my friends has suggested that I haven't really dealt with everything that is affecting me. I suppose that could be true--after all, I'm writing about it, in spite of all of the things I could be writing about. But it needs an outlet.

There has been a lot of death and a lot of heartache leading up to this point. Like giant supernovae, it is impossible for me to ignore the auras of the people that have left my universe; the memories circle around my mind with nowhere to go, no outlet, because all of the people who knew them (really knew them) are also gone.

Mine is a universe without stars.

Every once in a while someone comes along who proposes to change all of that, someone who tries to bring some light into this dark nebula of consciousness--but I push them away. I always push them away, because it's too painful to think about sharing something real and having it end. So I stay in stasis, alone.

My roommates talk to me. The conversation is as shallow as rainwater; work, school, television. I've never been a fan of television, but now that I can find commercial-free fare, I use it like a charging station: Go home, plug in, tune out. I don't have to think, much less feel.

This isn't going anywhere healthy. I'm always cynical; cynical of organizing, cynical about politics, cynical about relationships. I'm such a pessimist these days that I fail relationships before I begin them.

I am adrift in a galaxy of possibilities, but each one passes me by. Each time, I wonder as they go--could this have coalesced into something brilliant? Something explosive? Something with gravity?

With meaning?

I look at the stars and wonder--how do I ever get there from here? It's a long, dark road, and my light has all but flickered out. I need to find my purpose. I need to find my shine.

As these words fill empty space, I contemplate whether I can excavate my inner light by continuing to write.

I'm willing to give it a try. The sky, as they say, is the limit.


Thursday, January 5, 2012

upward mobility

So it's 2:15 in the morning. I haven't slept. It's one of those days that takes a lot of winding down.

Yesterday (by now), I gave $208.00 to the bloodsucking collection agency that takes over all of the court fines for those of us who don't always have the money to pay all of the fines that the system doles out for parking. I didn't ignore the tickets; these were parking tickets that I actually went to court for, and got reduced. But when you don't keep up with the payment plan (let's say you have rent, utilities, a cell phone, food and gas to pay for with only a part-time job in a failed economy), then the court adds a $25.00 penalty and sends the ticket to AllianceOne (that's the name of the company), which adds $15.00 to each individual ticket and begins to charge interest at 12%.

They'll be the first up against the wall when the revolution comes.

So those of us who can't pay in the first place have to somehow outperform inflation (which is fabled to be 5%) and come up with twice the amount that we originally owed. That's exactly what I did, and then I was shocked to find that I wouldn't be able to afford the tabs for my 13-year-old car because Seattle has a new plan to charge everyone an additional $20 for (you guessed it) parking services, an additional $20 for road construction, an additional $20 for mandatory new license plates, and yet another $15 for not paying my parking tickets on time, for a whopping total of $115.00.

$323.00 is not a drop in the bucket for me. In a good month I bring $1,400.00 home; in a bad month, around $1,000.00. My monthly expenses average around $1,000.00. I'm really lucky this will be a good month, but I still won't be able to get my tabs until my next check comes through in about a week. Let's hope nothing goes wrong between now and then.

I have to give myself credit, though. In 2009, I paid over $1,000.00 in a roughly similar circumstance when I was driving my old Volvo. I guess that shows improvement--I'm either doing a better job of not getting parking tickets, or a better job of timely dealing with bureaucracy. I should have just sold the car to avoid paying the tickets, but I loved that car. It is now somewhere in Oregon, hopefully being well taken care of. Miss you, Tiger.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

A brief history of occupying Seattle

Seattle Central Community College. Major protests and occupations (100+ people).

(1) 1969-1972. Clashes between BSU and SCCC administration, including BSU occupations. Link 1 | Link 2
(2) 1972. Minority workers occupy SCCC. Link 1 | Link 2
(3) 1976. Seattle Community College Federation of Teachers goes on major strike. Link 1 | Link 2
(4) 1988. Black Panther Party holds its reunion at Seattle Central Community College. Link
(5) 1990. No Blood for Oil protest of the Gulf War. Link
(6) 1994. Homeless youth set up encampment at SCCC (lasts less than a week; voluntarily taken down.) Link
(7) 1999. SCCC used as major staging area for entry into WTO protest action. Link 1 | Link 2
(8) 2000. SCCC epicenter of WTO demonstration commemorative protest. Link 1 | Link 2
(9) 2001. Students and community members protest police murder of Aaron Roberts. Link
(10) 2007. Hundreds march to protest Iraq and Afghanistan wars. Link
(11) 2008. Once again, hundreds march to protest Iraq and Afghanistan wars as well as campus recruitment.
(12) 2011. Occupy Seattle, having been repeatedly forced out into the elements by Seattle Police, moves to SCCC. Link

Other schools; mainly, the U of Wash.

(1) 1950s. University of Washington students staged regular protests and walk-ins against McCarthy trials of UW faculty as well as the growing threat of U.S. nuclear armament.
(2) 1968. BSU @ UW stages sit-ins in protest of the Vietnam war. Link 
(3) 1970. Students at UW hold a strike against the Vietnam war. Link 
(4) 1975. Faculty of UW strike over firing of two Chicano professors.
(5) 1986. UW shantytown constructed by students seeking divestment from South Africa.

Occupations, generally.

(1) 1890. The Lakota encampment making its last stand at Wounded Knee suffers a massacre at the hands of the U.S. Army, which disposes of the Lakota corpses in a mass grave. Link
(2) 1900. Having had their longhouses burned down by the U.S. Army and other whites, the Duwamish make their last Seattle encampment along the Seattle waterfront. They are subsequently exiled to Ballast Island, where they remain for little over a decade before being permanently pushed out of the area bearing the name of one of their chiefs, Seattle. Link
(3) 1931-1941. Bounded by the Port of Seattle, warehouses, and Railroad Ave., Hooverville was the largest of many Seattle homeless encampments turned shantytowns during the depression era. Under protest, many tenants were evicted in 1938. The shacks underwent an elimination program and were burned down in 1941.Link
(4) 1934. An 83 day strike closes West Coast ports and railroads. Protestors treated violently by police. Link
(5) 1980. Puget Sound Peace Camp set up at Boeing's missile production site in Kent, WA. 
(6) 2000-2011. Dale City. Comprised of veterans and other homeless persons, this encampment town was destroyed by Virginia State Police and the VDOT on March 21, 2011. Link
(7) 2009-present. Nickelsville. Recently, long-time YWCA housing director Jeanice Hardy has said that she is sending desperate people to Nickelsville because there are no public resources. Link

Friday, October 28, 2011

Birthday 2011!!!

So you may have seen that I haven't written since JANUARY--this is a problem that I definitely plan to correct in 5772/2012. This year, I wanted to get back in touch with my heart, both socially and politically, and I feel like I've done a pretty good job.

So SOME of you know that it's my birthday weekend, not that other thing :P :) :) --if you want to grab a birthday drink with me, come to the Conor Byrne on Sunday night for the open mic (5140 Ballard Ave NW); there are other plans for pie and ice cream late Monday night, contact me for details!!!

Also--for those of you who keep asking about my birthday wish list, here it is, from most expensive to least expensive (but all equally desired!):
  • iPhone 4 (could be used, refurb, whatever, just don't buy a new one!)
  • A bike (also used, of course; prefer city/hybrid tires, ≥26", 18 speed, geared for Seattle :P)
  • Shoes (I need a pair of hiking boots and a pair of running shoes)
  • A UW Alum license plate holder (rear only, George doesn't have a front plate)
  • Crazy, Stupid Love DVD (there may be others, you'd have to ask)
  • A Jackson Browne CD (there may be others, you'd have to ask)
  • An Oreo cream pie (yes, I know, it's a repeat :)
  • World peace, or at least for you to show up to Occupy Seattle :)
That's pretty much it! Check back soon for future blog posts.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

The Traveler

Final revision

Tired, worn, sick from the rain, the traveler comes home once again;
Inside no one is there for him, no one to greet him but the wind;
There's no sweet voice, no open arms, no one to see him but the stars;
Through thatched roof he sees them, bleary; the door creaks, loud; his bones are weary.

He observes his shaking body; frail, weathered, clothes so shoddy;
The wind, his only concubine, has made him weathered, lonely, shy;
She blusters through the walls and door, and through his feeble skin once more;
Raspy echoes fill his lungs; he wipes away phlegm with his cuff.

He feels he is made of tin, his chest a hollow, empty pit;
He feels hostile, void of hope, and doubts he'll ever be much more;
He tries to cry but finds that tears require hope for better years;
At barely smoldering hearth he stares as the wind blows ashes here and there.

He'd hoped the wind would be less harsh; last summer, it had warmed his heart;
"The winds of change," he thinks aloud, "may finally blow my fire out."
The traveler tries to find, in vain, wood to kindle fire again;
The stores of wood are all soaked through, his movements are too slow and crude;

He starts to speak, though no one's there, perhaps to nothing but the air:
"Take my spirit and carry it far, free from the ashes of this dead hearth;
Let me see once more the house where at Christmastime with joy we'd shout;
Friends gathered loyally at my side as year upon year would pass us by;

How far away they all seem now! Though still close to my heart somehow;
To feel a bittersweet embrace as into chocolate eyes I gaze;
While sweet strings play familiar tunes to passion under crescent moon;
And let me camp on hills of stone and sing for those who've kept me close;

Too long I've struggled with this wind; let her carry me off again!
And on the dark side of the moon, let me dance from dune to dune;
With feet that will not ache each day, oh wicked wind, take me away;
To stand on Saturn's lovely rings, and see the glory of all things;

Then take me to the underworld, and let my aching joints unfurl--
to rest with those who came before, to feel the warmth of love once more."