Just another blogger in your life

o maybe I seemed a little angry in my last post or maybe tons of people disagree with me. I have to be okay with that. I am a very impressionable person so having opinions is weird for me. Also, I am glad to discover that my plan worked since I got a lot of views today. I was sick of no one looking at my site because I post a lot about sidewalks and bike lanes and music no one else listens to. Some of my friends are just realizing I have a blog, and I’ve had it for a year!  Coming up on my 3000th view, in fact.

To my 9 Google Reader subscribers, thank you! And thanks to the other faithful readers and thoughtful commenters. I don’t know why I have this blog. Most of the time I am crocheting or painting or doing yoga or working. I’d probably be better off only doing my creative writing after seeing the instant success of Gray’s blog (who knew that furries would incite so much traffic?).

I just feel I have become mean and I don’t want to be. My post about women in films, my conservatives post, my Ugly America post…they’re all so angry at all of you but really I just want to be heard. I’m not mad at anyone. After posting yesterday, I thought long and hard about all the problems of America and how to solve them and my brain hurt. I resorted to focusing on my life again. Small as it is. I constantly waver between the idea that nothing matters and that everything does matter and is so beautiful and broken. I think that waver motion can be translated into a healthy balance of being connected to the world around me while realizing what I believe about it.

With 2009 wrapping up I want to end with some momentum of interesting posts. What will it be? One about dating a guy with Aspbergers? My top 10 movies? Watercolor paintings of penguins? I can do ’em all!

Dreams are made on

y first graduate school application was due today. With my night job of cleaning and my internship and Catholic initiation stuff I have been sort of busy, but that’s no excuse for not posting as often.

I kind of lost sight of what my blog means to me. I had seven blogs at one point this summer, and they were all separated and stood for different things. I was treating the internet like my numerous notebooks that I have. One is for poems, one is for songs, one is for journaling, one is for lists, one is for phone numbers. Walt Whitman wrote his first Leaves of Grass poem in the same notebook he was keeping for names and notes of his general life. Why separate all of these elements? Why was I hiding parts of myself from this blog? It was all urban planning all the time and that’s not what I focus on all the time. Because if I did, I would either be smashing cars with a baseball bat or bashing my own head in. It’s a frustrating subject. It’s stuck with me forever, it is what I’m made to do, but that doesn’t mean it doesn’t frustrate me. So I imported my Pretty Darn Pretty blog into this one.

And I started to doubt the whole “little life” thing. I was worried that it was a reaction to depression, that if I were a happier person I would be more courageous and willing to live bigger and dream bigger. But I’m going to graduate school for the thing I most want to do. I don’t think I’m holding back for anything. Small and large are relative concepts, I guess. The biggest problems of the world are massively generalized. Hunger. Can you think of a bigger beast? We can wrack our brains and beat ourselves out of guilt,  just ignore it, or give food to the hungry people in our neighborhood. People have got to stop resorting to the “starving people in Africa” thing to make themselves grateful. It’s unfair to everyone.

Once we admit that we are small, our lives are small, are abilities are tiny, once we accept our ordinary-ness, we can do a lot. I find that once I break my weeks, days, hours up into moments and live in them, I am enjoying myself more.

A specific way I’ve been doing that is small art projects. I love creating things. I’m writing a novel right now, bit by bit, but in my time gaps between work and sleep and internship, I like make things that are beautiful to me. I’m really surprised at how happy it’s made me.

Joseph Gordon Levitt’s site, Hitrecord.org, is giving him a lot of joy. It’s apparent in his face every time he talks about it. He’s not trying to make loads of money or save the entire world, but his project has gone pretty far (Hitrecord is going to Sundance next year) and it’s genuine.

Adam Lambert is trying to be too big. He’s using controversy as a device to get fame and nothing about his AMA performance seemed genuine. I don’t think very many people respect him. He’s trying to make a big splash by being true to himself, but that’s the wrong formula completely.

The difference between making a big impact by living your true life, making your life small out of fear, and trying to make yourself bigger than you are, is in the core of you, in the daily choice to do what’s right.

I gotta make dinner now. BYE.

Blog Action Day: Climate Change

I can’t think of a more relevant topic than Climate Change for Blog Action Day 2009. Last year, it was poverty. I think my post on that is still on here somewhere. If you search for October 15, 2008, maybe?

Many people have asked me if I think global warming is real. The question exhausts me. I have no idea if it’s real. I haven’t done the research, really, and there’s so much propaganda on both sides. BUT. It’s a genius strategy for getting people to comply with environmental regulations and lifestyle changes–not even the scare tactics but the tax incentives and green jobs. It’s a huge impetus for many changes, touching every industry in America. How do we drive less? How do we waste less? How do we be more sustainable? How do we do all this while still invigorating our economy?

The idea of Climate Change, as I said, is a genius way to get America back on its feet. After the Great Depression, we had WWII and also the mass production of the automobile and the idea of the nuclear family and private property to recharge the economy. Were those ideas false? Maybe. Does it matter? It can’t matter.

I have a feeling we are in some environmental danger, and action needs to be taken. But climate change is not the only motivation for these changes. I see it more as an excuse. For example, in the planning world, people are saying that better planned communities will allow people to walk and bike and use public transit more, which would reduce their carbon footprint. But there are so many other benefits to this lifestyle – health benefits, social benefits, economic benefits – and I don’t see why these are ignored. For the aging generation of legislators and county officials who believe in climate change like they believe in Santa Claus, what is the climate change incentive going to do for them?

Don’t play the silly game of political debate. What I mean is that it really doesn’t matter if it’s scientifically real, because the idea has become so big that it is real, and it’s affecting everything already. I just want everyone to look beyond the politics of climate change and see if the solutions have other benefits. If they do, why not support them? This nation is far too polarized and it’s really too bad, because a lot of exciting things are going on.

Critical Hindsight

The blog world is strange. I feel I have to dig up interesting stuff and try to sell stuff and I feel I’m blogworshipping some Google God, trying to get as many hits as possible. Boo on me. It’s an exhausting endeavor. I used to just write what I wanted to write, when I was a teenager, and it came out all moody and indie and I tried to reference David Bowie in every paragraph, trying to prove to my peers that I am actually cool on the inside. But I look back on that old me and find her cute, just like the Bush supporters were cute, just as the highway and parking lot builders were so cute, thinking cars were our futures. Cute. None of these people could help it, including me.

Alexis Bledel’s going to be in a movie (probably cliche, probably a flop, but she’s SO CUTE!) about being a graduate and moving back home and not finding a job. WOW. That sounds familiar! It is incredibly difficult to stay motivated and to keep growing up when I live in the house I was born in. And I’m the youngest. Let me spill about my novel, too. I look back on what I’ve written and cringe at my dialogue. Oooo it’s bad. It sounds so natural in my head but on paper it’s like a Star Wars movie. Or Gran Torino. Anyone else notice how rotten the dialogue in that movie is? And the blatant Christ figure scene??? SO blatant, Clint. Clint have mercy. Anyway, I hope my mind can pull this novel through about 200 pages. I really hope it turns out good. And I hope it’s not the only one I’ll ever write.

Do you think good and evil actually exist? Actions that seem good at the time end up doing harm usually. But there has to be some sort of good. Art must be good. Sure, novels have come out and sparked entire movements of thought, but I can’t label any of those movements good or bad. The Modernist movement made some ugly buildings but it also produced some sweet design and it was direly needed after that opulent era. We will always look back at our personal past and criticize. We will always look back at our nation’s history and criticize. But who could have helped it? No one could have stopped the Industrial revolution from polluting our cities, even if we had known.No one could have stopped me from hating the world in high school. (That’s what breaks my heart about unhappy teens. They’re forced to be miserable by a bad upbringing until they can learn to be happy on their own. That needed self-awareness doesn’t kick in quickly enough.) There is only this moment; we can only do what we can.

I do know pain and joy exist. The latter is hard to recognize. I’m trying to connect with it more.

Renewal in more ways than Green

The blog world is extremely excited about green jobs. The Green For All blog updates about green jobs.  Through it, I found a movie trailer for a documentary called The Greening of Southie. I was drawn to this because I read All Souls, by Michael Patrick MacDonald, which is a memoir about Southie, or South Boston and the incredible problems there. These projects were full of drugs, crime, suicide, gang lines. The author lost four of his siblings to the neighborhood. It is an intense autobiography but well worth the read. The most surprising aspect was that the people in Southie loved Southie. They didn’t realize that it was so bad. It was their neighborhood.  MacDonald’s mother moved to a trailer park in Colorado and hated how spread out everything was, that there was no public space, no stoops on which to hang out with the neighbors. It is great to see news about Southie today. We hear a lot about green building and green jobs but I have hope that this documentary will show exactly how it is being done. The government, in the 70s and 80s, was experimenting on the poor in places like Southie. Now people are putting efforts into their own communities and fixing what was collectively broken. This is democracy.

Comeback and a Book You Must Read

I thought maybe the next time I’d muster up the motivation to post would be after graduation. But I started reading The Geography of Nowhere by James Howard Kuntsler today and after two chapters I already know that it is going to be a great read. Yes, this is a book about American landscape–it deals with everything I talk about on this blog concerning towns, suburbs, cities, and walkability. But it’s incredibly interesting and well-written!  And it gets to the heart of why I want to do this with my life. Please, please, please read this book. He’s a funny writer!  He has a blog, too.

In No Country for Old Men, the movie and the book, Chigurh flips a coin deciding whether or not a gas station manager will live. When the manager wins the coin-toss, Chigurh questions why he wouldn’t keep the coin forever in a special place.  The coin meant something after that toss. He, against his will mind you, put up everything he was on that bet. It changed the nature of the coin forever. “Anything can be an instrument,” Chigurh says. I think about this in terms of America. We seem to pretend here that our landscape has no meaning. Sure, humans can succeed and find happiness against incredible odds, but to deny that your streets, building codes, power structures, trees, parking lots, have as much affect on you as the design of your house is compartmentalizing your life. Your environment is your environment. No matter what it is. We give it power over us every day.

Last semester in Chicago, I remember getting so mad at my internship–that it seemed to want to beautify a street more than…I don’t even know, some more altruistic motive. But I was distinguishing too much again. The Magnificent Mile needs to be beautiful. The surrounding neighborhoods need those changes we were fighting for–they need human scale rather than to be easier for cars to plow through. A flourishing community is going to be beautiful. These things affect each other.