Monday, June 20, 2011


I am gearing up to go across the country...and it has me thinking about my American heritage. The scope of the states is overwhelming if seriously contemplated. It also made me realize how foreign my own nation is to me. I am going on a short, short when realized how far I am going compared to the entire country, trip to help a pal move out to med. school in Philadelphia. I have this glorified vision of giant golden fields (probably attributed to reading Kerouac) and ancient weeping willows in the Bayou (probably stemming from Huck Finn). The landscape could very well represent the country itself and its complexities and scope. I feel that it would take a lifetime to comfortably grasp this country's historical wealth even though its age is equivalent to a teenager comparing to the rest of the world...

Anyways, I am excited to see some of my foreign home. I plan to party in Austin, listen to some Jazz in New Orleans, sit on a plantation porch sipping iced tea in Alabama, wonder at the Spanish Moss in Savannah, dance the Charleston in Charleston, and hopefully "find myself" as so many of my favorite literary characters have done while exploring America.
So here is a pondering thought belonging to Huck Finn in The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn which I remember most vividly. Huck and Jim are on the raft floating down the river. This is the sense of calm mixed with adventure I hope to feel hangin in the Bayou...

"The stars were shining, and the leaves rustled in the woods ever so mournful; and I heard an owl, away off, who-whooing about somebody that was dead, and a whippowill and a dog crying about somebody that was going to die; and the wind was trying to whisper something to me, and I couldn't make out what it was, and so it made the cold shivers run over me."

Monday, June 13, 2011


This past weekend I took a trip with my family down to the Eastern Sierras. The past couple months I have gone on a few back-country ski tours around Lake Tahoe. I really had only been on two or three real tours before this weekend and they were quite mellow comparing to this most recent trip.
Here is a break-down:
On Friday afternoon my family, my friend Maggie and I hopped in our Sportsmobile and took the ~ three hour drive down to a friend's 200+ acre plot of land by Bridgeport, CA. We set up camp amidst multiple species of sagebrush and lots of dust. We then headed down to a big bonfire along with many other Tahoe locals who came down for the adventure.
From the camp we could survey what we were to hike and ski the next morning. The middle peak is called Dunderberg and we came up the back of it early Saturday morning, walked the saddle between the two peaks then skied down the main chute.
From there we traversed over to what's called Green Creek. This was a 3000 foot vertical ski, my legs were burning!!
The trip totaled 96 guests.
I can't fully explain the extent of this experience. There is something both empowering and humbling about climbing mountains like this. It not only takes physical strength but mental stamina for sure. I have never been so proud of something I physically accomplished. There is a striking emotion standing on top of a 12,374 foot mountain surrounded with even bigger peaks as far as you can see. The grandiose-ness (why not) of nature really floors you and puts life in a healthy perspective.
Long story short, climbing mountains is a cleansing experience and I can see why humans have been awed by nature for as long as we have been around...
John Muir sure knew what he was talking about when he said:
"Keep close to Nature's heart... and break clear away, once in awhile, and climb a mountain or spend a week in the woods. Wash your spirit clean"
and that is your poetry intake for the day...
And here I am on top of a mountain with my family <3

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

musical souls

Have you ever listened to music and literally felt a surge of emotion? Most have...this is why I have always thought that if humans really do have souls, music might be proof. This idea is not novel, many great intellectuals (Rousseau and Tolstoy come to mind immediately) have actually condemned music due to its overly personal nature. Tolstoy in particular believed that one should not spend an exaggerated amount of time listening to music because it forces you to feel what the artist feels and this can be invasive to the artist's inner feeling and controlling of your own. Although, the artist himself is, in fact, baring his inner feeling by creating music in the first place...Tolstoy simply didn't like to be told how or what to feel, which he believed music affects.

Keep in mind that this conversation was in the late 18th, mid 19th century but it can very well be applied to modern music. So, this idea came from listening over and over to the new Fleet Foxes album, "Helplessness Blues." Man, does it strike a chord. While listening to some of the songs on the album I actually agreed with the Tolstoyan sentiment that music can be invasive of the artist's emotions and controlling of the listener's..
I found this 200 year-old idea to be true since listening to the songs and feeling feelings that were not mine.
All of a sudden I felt sad after one song, melancholy after another...some bring tears for no reason.
And yet I can't figure out if it's a bad thing to feel something that doesn't belong to you.
I guess you just have to keep in mind that these are the artist's feelings and ideas, not can stop crying/marveling/wondering once the album is over.

Anyways, simply pondering.

If you would like to read more about Tolstoy's reaction to music (he talked mostly of Bach and Beethoven) his work What is Art is very interesting and his ideas are heavily based on his favorite artist, Rousseau...

There's some free endorsement from tej-tej...this album is really good...
AND for this post's poetry inclusion I think I will just supply the lyrics to my favorite song on the album...because it really is poetry...

Helplessness Blues

I was raised up believing I was somehow unique
Like a snowflake distinct among snowflakes, unique in each way you can see
And now after some thinking, I'd say I'd rather be
A functioning cog in some great machinery serving something beyond me

But I don't, I don't know what that will be
I'll get back to you someday soon you will see

What's my name, what's my station, oh, just tell me what I should do
I don't need to be kind to the armies of night that would do such injustice to you
Or bow down and be grateful and say "sure, take all that you see"
To the men who move only in dimly-lit halls and determine my future for me

And I don't, I don't know who to believe
I'll get back to you someday soon you will see

If I know only one thing, it's that everything that I see
Of the world outside is so inconceivable often I barely can speak
Yeah I'm tongue-tied and dizzy and I can't keep it to myself
What good is it to sing helplessness blues, why should I wait for anyone else?

And I know, I know you will keep me on the shelf
I'll come back to you someday soon myself

If I had an orchard, I'd work till I'm raw
If I had an orchard, I'd work till I'm sore
And you would wait tables and soon run the store

Gold hair in the sunlight, my light in the dawn
If I had an orchard, I'd work till I'm sore
If I had an orchard, I'd work till I'm sore
Someday I'll be like the man on the screen