26 May 2005

My Psychosis

It's late and I'm reviewing the day with a certain sense of satisfaction. After a very emotional and difficult week, I feel equilibrium return like a welcome friend. So of course, being me, I have to program in some music to cut my brain loose and let it roam. Because of the reflective tone my life has taken of late, I chose the recordings of piano days. There aren't that many, perhaps 5 altogether, though to people who hate classical music I'm sure they would seem like an entire CD in themselves. And as I listen to myself circa 1984, I realize what large chunk of me has been missing.

Passion. Not conviction, not anger, not enjoyment, not whimsy, love, or commitment. Pure emotional passion.

The music is a testament to the fact that, once upon a time, I felt with every nerve ending in my body. And poured it out through my fingertips. I could buy a piano tomorrow, practice 5 hours every day for the next 2 decades and never produce the music I produced then. Back then, music was such a psychotic experience for me. I still transcend everything when I sing, but I don't lose touch with reality. Then, I was gone--in Neverland, in a world created by the emotion and the keyboard and the sound of notes cascading through my brain. I didn't belong to the space-time continuum. And if I close my eyes as I listen, I can still see the lushly surreal, fantasmagorical worlds I visited when I played.

Music may be the most powerful communication tool ever created. It provides a direct patch from the emotional center to the subconscious. It's visceral in a way no other medium or art form is. It requires no interpretation, no conscious or logical facility to be experienced and understood.

Kirk, if you are reading this, I love you so much for dubbing this stuff over into digital for me. I rediscover myself every time I play it.

21 May 2005


Lately, in my spare time, I've been going through my old and not-so-old writings. Much of it is poetic, so I've started a separate blog for that. Noetic Decay at http://noeticdecay.blogspot.com/

10 May 2005

In the Eye's Mind

In one of the last scenes of Waking Life, Richard Linklater states a theory that this entire journey called Life is nothing that instant of moving from the No to the Yes, from rejection to acceptance of God's love. I would change it and add this:

All of this life is series of moving from the No to the Yes. Yes, you choose to experience. Yes, you choose to participate. Yes, you choose to love. These are all action verbs which require a decision on your part. And each Yes adds up to a greater Yes -- the Yes to live fully, conscious that you are manifesting your own reality.

You cannot truly live if you fear death for without death you cannot be alive. It is all the same journey. Once you say Yes to Death, the fear of it dissipates. It becomes, as it has always been, just another rite of passage to experience. You find your priorities shift from holding on to what you can own of this earth to what you can create within it.

And with each Yes the next comes easier, until saying Yes becomes a reflexive muscle.

This does not mean we do not have to live within boundaries and limits. We exist in a physical form and that fact imposes its own limitations. I should know better than most what it means to burn yourself out saying Yes to too many things at once because I still do it too frequently for my body's full health. However, the life fully lived means risking everything you fear and everything that causes you pain.

So here's your task, should you choose to accept it. Say Yes to some action this week, and take the ride of that choice as far as you can. Expand and live.

04 May 2005

Creative Changes for Education

Imagine if your high school class was run like a D&D game. You are a 14-year-old adventurer and you walk into this unknown classroom. You know about 4 other people out of the 25 gathered there, so you and your buds slink into seats in the back of the class. The GM/Teacher looks everyone over and starts counting you off in groups of 5. You are separated from your buds and you're moving your bookbag into the desk between the pimply-faced nerd and the snooty girl with an accent that could cut diamonds. You and your team, which includes the nerd, the snoot, a jock-wannabe, and a reject from the local stoners' bar, are given your assignment: To pass 9th grade. 80% of your overall pass rate will come from your own work. But the other 20% will come from teamwork and how well the other members your group also succeed at mastering their classes.

Think of it -- 20% is not enough to flunk you if you are a generally excellent student, but it will sure make a dent or a difference to anyone attempting to get by with a "Gentleman's C."

It also fosters teamwork and a sense of community, and motivates helpfulness through use of self-interest. Could it work?

03 May 2005

Small Blessings

Among the small blessings I count in my life is a city council that has a sense of humor. They certainly needed it last night.

Kudos to Stratton Salidis, who knows how to put on a good show. My bad that I didn't bring enough popcorn. The issue at hand: Development the Meadowcreek Parkway and the eastern connector. Specifically, the $1.5 million set aside to do yet another study on how it can be accomplished. This is a road project which has been debated and rejected for 30 years. Stratton's cast of characters who spoke before Council last night included a woodchuck who moved his family into McIntire Park and would be displaced if the Parkway was built and a "developer" who wanted to spend more money on sprawl and needed the roads in order to bear the traffic of new housing and shopping center plans on his table. Most of the councilors could not keep a straight face through the procession. (Rob Schilling, the exception and the sole Republican, looked as if he thought the dignity of the council was being affronted by such tactics.)

I do not want the Parkway. I understand why it is needed, but, IMO, there's a better way to handle it.

We have made Charlottesville City a very attractive place to visit, to hang out, to shop, and to live. Unfortunately, this attractiveness has resulted in a very expensive place to live. Because of this, Albemarle County is in genuine danger of becoming overdeveloped. Certainly the road system from the County into the City that exists now barely bears the traffic required of it.

Instead of using the monies set aside for the study, or for the project itself, on paving over sections to relieve traffic congestion, why not use the money to create the kind of environment in Albemarle that Charlottesville has in abundance?

We don't need more shopping centers and residential communities, so much as we need more neighborhoods, with work and amenities within easy walking, bussing, and biking distance. Charlottesville has the Downtown area, with it's charming street mall, the University area, with its kitschy stores and trendy bars, and Barracks Road, while still a strip mall, manages to attract foot and bus traffic by the virtue of combining easy accessibility with diversity of storefronts and services.

Albemarle and Charlottesville, if they are truly concerned about traffic, should work harder to make such community settings in Albemarle territory. No one wants to go to Albemarle Square, Seminole Square, Rio Hill, or Fashion Square Mall. One needs to shop at Circuit City, Office Depot, TJ Max, or Sears. These malls are driving destinations: not a joy for window shopping, hanging out with friends, or grabbing a quick bite or drink at the local pub. They represent everything that is wrong with current development. If Albemarle had more user-friendly destinations, business, and, thus, traffic would want to develp around those neighborhoods instead of everyone driving into C'ville. What C'ville has is the ambience which makes people want to make the trip in for the day or evening. C'ville will lose that ambience unless smarter development takes place.