Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Ashley's Picture of the day 6/30/09

A police motorcycle with a view of American flag in the mirror at a Fire Fighters funeral procession outside Merrimack Repertory Theatre in Lowell MA.

This is Larisa

perhaps playing sauerkraut sorbet

Monday, June 29, 2009


This sounds like a wonderful idea, and I'm honored to be invited. And, since procrastination methods are foremost in my mind at present, here is my intro. My name is Larisa, I am 33 years old, and I recently graduated from law school and am now studying for the California bar exam (hence the need for procrastination methods). My avocation is music; I play the piano, specializing in ragtime, and perform at ragtime festivals as often as humanly possible. And, on the subject of music, here is (as requested) the upcoming concert information (Aug. 14-16 in Sutter Creek, CA). :) And here is a Youtube video of one of my performances from the last festival I attended.

My participation in this blog will have to be somewhat minimal until the bar exam is over, but I do hope to open my big mouth (and insert my big foot) at least a few times. On the subject of creativity - does creativity and imaginative activity really have to be purposeless and disconnected from the working world? Is all art "quite useless" by definition? Is it possible to be creative in a typical white-collar office job? To be creative as a lawyer? As an engineer? As a janitor?

Ashley's Picture of the day 6/29/09

This is from the set of Northern Stage's production of A choirs Line. The two figures in the back ground are 'pig and wolf' (ands yes wearing costumes) they are figurines that are very popular with Dartmouth college. This picture is during the photo shoot for the calender.


Continuing the dialogue, somewhat, in regards to beauty and our extant conceptions of what it consists of in our daily lives. I believe that our identities consist of everything that informs them, whether that be conformation to social realities and formal career necessities, or our inner perceptions and emotions and thoughts, or the visceral, undeniable touch of the boundaries of skin, or the face in the mirror that restricts us more immediately to what we can't avoid. I believe that we are all--and none--of these things. We are gods, terrible and beautiful. The only thing that would confine us is our own lack of vision. I have different masks that I can put on and take off, dependent on the situation and with who I am dealing with, but the inner integrity of who I am remains constant. Because I am also you. Because everything is also I. We. Us. Empathy and intuition is the only way into this understanding. I believe such things about beauty.

We scribe our differing perspectives, for example, onto this communal blog. And it begs the question of how one could ever rightfully be lonely. We listen to ourselves through each other, hearing ourselves echoing deeply through the chamber of multiple existences. Nothing that anyone could write could ever be wholly alien to our understanding of ourselves. And that's beautiful.

My name is Mark, and I am at a kind of transitional moment in my life in many ways, which makes it difficult for me to articulate simply what and who I am without seeming overly self-absorbed, which I've probably already succeeded in doing. But I live in NYC and I am recently become a NYC Teaching Fellow, and it is certainly a pleasure to have yet another venue to share deeply with others in a cyberspatial sort of way with mostly complete and total strangers. I have a blog that I have been updating less and less frequently, and I hope that this opportunity to jumpstart the creative juices will assist not only myself but others in the good cause of creative thought generation. At the very least, it's fun. Cheers! And hello Maisha and thanks for the invite.

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Imagination evaportation

Note: I'm starting with a repost of something I wrote for my own blog earlier this week. It kind of follows Mai's pondering a bit...

What happens to our imaginations as we get older?

My oldest son, Gabriel, went to a camp this week. Camp Invention. It was pretty cool. They learned all about science and physics and inventing during the week. Today, they had a little expo where their family members came to view their inventions and creations.

I was impressed by all the creative problem-solving these elementary school students came up with. The older students created Rube Goldberg machines, complex devices that perform simple tasks in indirect, convoluted ways, that were to catapult and smash a rotten egg. Each team came up with something different. They were made out of coffee maker parts, Walkman's and other discarded appliance and recyclable items like paper towel rolls, boxes, egg cartons, etc.

Their machine designs and plans were some of the most creative drawings I've seen in a long time.

They let their imaginations run wild with nothing to stop them and all the encouragement in the world from the camp counselors.

It did get me thinking about how my imagination has been stunted by the rules, discouragement and years of working for the Man. Somewhere along the way, I lost my desire to create and be artistic. I lost my joy of simply silly and beautiful creations made for creation's sake. I began to produce.

Somewhere along the line, everything I did had to have purpose and meaning beyond being silly or beautiful.

I still dabble with scrapbooking and design and painting and crafts, but it's usually with a specific goal, such as organizing my photos for my family, making presents for various holidays, cooking a meal, etc. It's rarely for the simple purpose of expressing myself or exercising my imagination. It only happens when all the chores are done and everything is in its place, which means rarely.

I think that is one thing that being home with my kids has taught me. I need to get in touch with my inner child again and relearn how to be silly and imaginative. I'd forgotten how happy those simple pleasures make me.

My youngest, Morgan, is probably the most imaginative person I have ever known. He creates entire worlds out of nothing at all. He comes up with the most amazing and detailed stories you've ever heard. He doesn't care that sometimes they don't make much sense in the real world. They make perfect sense to him and that is all that matters. It is a beautiful thing.

I hope he never loses touch with that imaginative side of himself.

... and Gabe's invention?

He created something called an "Attractor" that attracts his little brother when Morgan is being a bit too imaginative, and annoying, for Gabriel's comfort.

one fish, two fish, red fish, blue fish....

Hey everyone please feel free to feed the fish at the bottom of the page :)

Ashley's Picture of the day 6/28/09

A hole in the Ventura Pier with the ocean.


I am so excited that people are signing up for this! It's kind of like a Field of Dreams experience:

If you post it, they will come.

Sweet! I hope you all write something! Even if it's just to post the date of your upcoming concert. (Hint hint nudge, Larisa.) :)

By the way, if you want to invite friends to this experiment, shoot me an e-mail at melonai@law.upenn.edu. I'll grant you admin privileges so you can add people. I've already done this automatically for one or two of you, because you know interesting people. We can have up to 100 authors on this blog. Once we get a decent number of posts up, I'll invite more folks too.



Hi everyone, my name is Ashley. I'm 26 living in Philadelphia and I work as the Master Electrician (I make the lights work) at the Wilma theatre. a diatribe on thoughts of the matrix.

Have you ever been driving and come to a turn in the road that looks strikingly familiar to another place you have been? I think its the Matrix running out of ideas. How many ways can you make a landscape look? if we Begin their programing with all of the basics then as the machines developed AI wouldn't the base level of information be influenced by the data we imparted to them? What about corrupted information? that might explain why EVERYTHING tastes like chicken, they where unable to recover the files on what foods should taste like. how do robots really know what Tasty Wheat REALLY tasted like? did Tasty Wheat ever really exist?

One thing I would like to know, how did the city of Zion come to be if everyone was in the matrix? it must have really been hard for the first person to be flushed to build a ship, then find a place to build a city?

like how many licks does it take to get to the center of a tossie pop, the world may never know.

Beauty is ...

"We've just found out the universe is expanding, you know.
That means the truth is getting bigger."
- Mia Adjali

I have been reading The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle by Haruki Murakami. Basic premise: Can we ever really know someone?

How many times did I encounter that concept as an undergrad majoring in English lit? We have constructs of people in our minds, but do we know who they really are? Can we? It's like Cloud 9, by Caryl Churchill. We operate so much on presupposition, or our own imagination.

I hear it again on the radio this afternoon. I am driving home listening to NPR's membership drive, and they're playing a clip from This American Life about a woman who discovers that a band called Boy Hits Car has written a song about her father. She is shocked, because she sees him through a veil of teenage angst -- random rules, overly strict, high expectations, kind of a jerk. But the guys from Boy Hits Car, they've idolized the man as someone in tune with nature who disregards the constraints of the modern world. And through the show, you see a little bit from everyone's perspective and disagree with them all. The band has turned this old father into some sort of guru, an icon -- someone who only exists in their imagination. And to some extent, they're right that the man is larger than his daughter's understanding. But on the other hand, they are singing about their ideology, not about the person at all.

And I wonder about this. What is beautiful, what is iconic, that exists outside of our own minds? And if icons and concepts can't exist beyond an individual's conception, then who are other people? Is a person only the mental construct that individual has of themself? Our are we defined by our guts and biochemicals? Maybe we are the being that our friends and family believe that we are. Or are we an amalgam of all of these things? I believe in the latter -- guts, chemicals, skin, flesh, idea, relationship -- but how can we be an amalgam of things that aren't independently real?

Thinking like this makes me feel a little bit lonely, a little bit strange. All of the people I see as beautiful in the world, I am not sure really who they are. All of the truths that I believe in, they're only truths to me. And how much am I not listening, not perceiving? What am I missing in this universe? I feel like I can only grow by knowing others, but can I ever know others? Can I even know myself?

That has been my day, today. Full of wondering. To be honest, I also drafted a third party complaint, bleached my shower, replaced a loose toilet seat cover, hung a new shower curtain, put away the dishes -- these are the menial things that make up my existence, but I don't think about them much. Maybe I should focus on here-and-now more. My boyfriend is coming home tonight after a week away, and I think about him and what it means to be loved. And I walked the dogs before lunch, and I think about my tenant and her dog leaving in August, and what I will do to entertain my beagle when they're gone. These thoughts loom larger than the day's chores, but they are still submerged, a little, in that old loneliness.

I get lost in stupid thoughts, sometimes.

By the way, if any strangers are reading this, my name is Maisha. You can read about me on my profile. "Maisha" means "life" in Swahili. It's a derivative of an Arabic word for the same thing. I am 30 years old, almost 31, and I am a law student pursuing a career in public interest law -- international, immigration, or poverty law. I went to UCLA for undergrad and am attending the University of Pennsylvania for grad school. I used to dislike pizza and the color pink. I have reversed my position on both of those things. I am dating someone quite seriously for the first time in my life; he is nothing like what I expected and makes me wildly happy. I used to work in newspapers, but not as a writer. I'm not good at keeping friends, but luckily my best friends are good at keeping me. I used to be very unhappy most of the time, but I have recently learned that if I put my life on the line for ideology, I can be very, very happy. And I have done just that for the past year. That is a very small part of me. Nice to meet you. Would love it if you introduced yourself and invited friends to play this game of storytelling. Maybe by hearing your vision of life, my own version of the truth will grow larger. And if nothing else, I will imagine you beautiful.

Want to play?

Welcome, welcome.

I wrote a blog last summer that was a lot of fun, and now that I am back in a situation where I can go home and relax after work (as opposed to the academic year's go-home-and-work-after-work), I'd like to start writing again. I've had phrases and stories scurrying around my head like mice in the Inquirer Building. If you've never been there, it's like this: You open a drawer and find a nest of baby rodents huddled for warmth. Or out of the corner of your eye you see a shape racing along the floor, and just as you begin to think hey-what's-that-shape-moving-over-there, it's gone. But I haven't caught any of these ephemeral stories with words yet, and I think perhaps it's overdue.

Not to mention you. I want to hear more about you. I've seen a few blogs online with multiple authors, and I really like this idea. I would love nothing more than to be able to invite all those people I find most fascinating and have them writing in the same place. It could be like Twitter -- one liners about happenings and interesting finds. It could be like Live Journal, whole diaries that we share with each other. It could be reposts of our own script, or of other people's. The point is to have an intimate collection of minds and conversations with editors and activists and poets and lovers and friends and technicians and thinkers. My only request is that writers avoid gratuitous content that would force me to mark this blog "adult." (I don't mind candor or art, and I don't propose to censor anything. This is just a request.)

Well, what do you think? Do you want to play? Imagine that I am five years old, and have just knocked on your front door and asked your mother if you could come outside for a game of hide and seek, please. Imagine becoming five years old again and running around with boundless energy, eating grass, scraping knees, and making up the rules to suit ourselves.

I want to talk to you, and I want you to hear me. And I want to really listen to you.

I'll start with a story of my own on the next post ...