Saturday, October 25, 2008

The Great Socio-Economic Divide

I feel terrible about this Jennifer Hudson thing

We have celebrities in this country. And from what I've seen, most of the current Hollywood Glitterati have been spawned from other Hollywood big shots. Not to mention the useless children of the rich and famous whose existence we have the misfortune of even knowing about, such as the Paris Hiltons, Nicole Ritchies, and any other washed up, has-been or never-been star on any reality show you may be subjected to if you have the misfortune of turning on the tv.

These days it seems to be really rare to find an actual talent that arises from an abyss, based solely on their talent. Most of the people we come across in magazines, tv, moveis, etc. can give thanks to their parents, siblings, aunts, uncles, cousins, etc for paving the way for them.

I am not incredibly well versed in Jennfier Hudson's body of work. I don't watch American Idol, and haven't seen Dreamgirls. I did see her in "Sex In the City" movie. And have seen her in a fwe interviews and appearances and have found her style, and lack of pretension completely refreshing.

So despite Jennifer Hudson's rise to fame, and despite what her personal worth might be on this date, she and her family and not immune from the cycle of crime that plagues the lower-income neighborhoods of major cities.

For work, I deal with lots of families who live in these areas, such as the Englewood area where Jennifer Hudson's mother lived. I've been in these neighborhoods and in people's homes. But let's be honest, I'm a white girl from the suburbs. I might be exposed to these areas a hell of a lot more than anyone I know, but I can't pretend to know or understand it. Or to have an idea on how to solve the problems of poverty, racism and violence that are absolutely intertwined.

So it doesn't really matter how far she has risen. This poor woman and her family have been reduced to a terribly too prevalent stereotype in Chicago of African American families torn apart by gun violence.

I'm not really sure what I'm trying to say about this, except, this shit doesn't happen to Angelina Jolie's family.

And while I'm sure Jennifer Hudson has made lots of friends in Hollywood, I'm sure none of them can udnerstand what she is going through. She will probably have to go back to her neighborhood for that.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

The Library

I have a problem. I really think it might be a genetic flaw. I am absolutely, indubitably, 100% incapable of returning a library book on time. The same thing goes for movies but thankfully Netflix and On Demand take care of that, and honestly, I don't watch very many movies.

As a result of this flaw I am reluctant to use the library at all. I really cannot be trusted.

But I read a lot of books. And being in a book club I often read books I didn't pick out and I'm not sure that I will like. And being a Gemini and slightly schizophrenic at times, I will find myself momentarily obsessed with some random event in history, person, place or idea and be compelled to amass reading material about this topic, only to lose all interest a week later.

So, often times, I am stuck having purchased books that I will never read. Or books that I started and couldn't stand. I feel bad since it is a waste of money when that same book is available to me for FREE at the Library 2 blocks away from my house.

A sane person would use the library to the fullest extent, saving purchases for those special items you know you are going to love, want to hold onto as a keepsake and the such. Or at least limit purchases to once/month and get everything else for FREE at the library 2 blocks away from my house.

There are a few problems with that:

1. The aforementioned genetic flaw. I just returned a book that I have had since April. It is a vicious cycle. As the due date kept receeding further and further behind me, so did my shame. What was wrong with me that I couldn't return this book? Any day was a day I could have walked in, admitted my mistake, paid my fine and cleared my name and record. Instead, I buried the book under a pile of other books on my nightstand.

2. I love owning books. I love everything about books. I love the way they look in my bookshelves, piled up on my nightstand, on top of the piano, in the window sills and anywhere else I can place them. I love bookstores. They are so beautiful. Floors and aisles filled with book on every imaginable topic. And they are all so clean, beautiful and nearly untouched! The first requirement for my dream house is a library (ok, maybe not the first, but definitely a requirement). My second bedroom had been crafetd into a reasonable facsimile of an in-home library until Wilson and wedding planning hijacked the space. I'm going to be trying to finish reclaiming it tonight.

So my fine was only $5. After all these months of worrying, fretting, and most importantly buying silly books that there was no reason to purchase (case and point the Chelsea Handler book. I got a couple of laughs, but will never re-read it and finished it in 2 days).

Luckily friends have been lending me all of the Twilight series.

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Smoking Update

My update is that I'm not. Smoking that is. In case anyone was wondering. Tomorrow will be 6 weeks.

I can't even begin to describe how liberated I feel. I'm seeing the world through new eyes.

At this point I only want a cigarette once a day. Or maybe less. I've been sick this week and didn't even think about smoking once today. Back in the day it didn't matter how sick I was, how bad my allergies were, I still would manage to smoke.

I realize that I forget to breathe. It seems so silly, forgetting to do the most natural thing in the world. Luckily we don't need to think about making our hearts beat. But if I pay attention, I notice that I hold my breath a lot. And really, the more I hold my breath, the more I want to smoke. I think that the desire to smoke has been tied to the desire to take a deep breath as ironic as that might sound. I'm relearning how to inhale deeply without taking a drag. I've really been trying to be cognizant of this. And to breath.

One major life task down, so many more to go!

Sunday, October 5, 2008

Sunday Parkways

I have been enthralled by this idea since I first came across it. Started in Bogota, I believe, the concept of taking major urban thoroughfares and turning them over to foot, bike, and other non-motorized modes of transport for a few hours on Sundays.

Sunday Parkways has come to Logan Square. Jason and I got up early and went for a run.

I had imagined entire streets shut down and children playing, people sitting, running, laughing and dancing. Kind of a giant block party that would stretch from Logan to Pilsen.

Unfortunately, it was less populated, and more highly regulated than that. But Jason and I went for a 30 minute run and it was fun. I loved having the streets to ourselves, being up early in the neighborhood and waving hello to everyone. And I loved running. It was fun and I'm getting better at it! There is a second Sunday scheduled at the end of the month and we'll be out there again, running, smiling and waving.

Ever since I've moved into Chicago, I've been trying to find that neighborhood I want to be a part of. i want to know te people in my local stores and see familiar faces on the streets. I love Logan Square for providing me with a taste of that. If you can ignore the hookers in the alley, the graffiti, and the broken water main I've been calling the city about for 3 days.

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Belief and Technique in Modern Prose

I've been thinking more about writing these days. Obviously, I started a blog. I fear it may appear to be more out of narcissism than anything else. But really, at the heart of it was a desire to start re-exploring my creative side.

I have never enjoyed writing. Words such as "creative writing" made my skin crawl. I have tried to journal at various points in my life with no success. I hated the sound of my voice on paper and just lost interest.

And while I love reading, I enjoy it for its entertainment value and don't usually like to think of the craft aspect. Often, I enjoy the escapist component more than anything. While I can remember where on the page a certain detail can be found in a text book, 8 times out of 10 I can't remember the ending of any fiction I have read.

But I'm enjoying this. I enjoy my writing better when I shift my focus to writing for an audience instead of writing for myself. Sometimes I even think i'm funny. Not that I have any audience here, but I can have dreams, right? And while I keep waiting for the fabulous, pithy, entry that will prove somehow that I am an interesting person, with incredible insight, I haven't been able to create it yet.

I came across this in my horoscope in a copy of New City I picked up today. Supposedly, a list of tips for writing from Jack Kerouac.

Of course I read it. And to be honest, I found them to be as applicable to belief and technique in modern living as much as writing. But that might be where I'm coming from right now.

I'm feeling suffocated right now. I hate my job, hate the fact that my biggest concerns right now are car payments and new storm doors, and hate my complacency in my current situation. I'm yearning for something new and exciting. Yearning for a magical life. Yearning to throw off the constraints of the bourgeois life I seem to be entering into.

So while I am not much of a writer, maybe I can be better at living. I think I'll try to start with #4

1. Scribbled secret notebooks, and wild typewritten pages, for yr own joy
2. Submissive to everything, open, listening
3. Try never get drunk outside yr own house
4. Be in love with yr life
5. Something that you feel will find its own form
6. Be crazy dumbsaint of the mind
7. Blow as deep as you want to blow
8. Write what you want bottomless from bottom of the mind
9. The unspeakable visions of the individual
10. No time for poetry but exactly what is
11. Visionary tics shivering in the chest
12. In tranced fixation dreaming upon object before you
13. Remove literary, grammatical and syntactical inhibition
14. Like Proust be an old teahead of time
15. Telling the true story of the world in interior monolog
16. The jewel center of interest is the eye within the eye
17. Write in recollection and amazement for yourself
18. Work from pithy middle eye out, swimming in language sea
19. Accept loss forever
20. Believe in the holy contour of life
21. Struggle to sketch the flow that already exists intact in mind
22. Don't think of words when you stop but to see picture better
23. Keep track of every day the date emblazoned in yr morning
24. No fear or shame in the dignity of yr experience, language & knowledge
25. Write for the world to read and see yr exact pictures of it
26. Bookmovie is the movie in words, the visual American form
27. In praise of Character in the Bleak inhuman Loneliness
28. Composing wild, undisciplined, pure, coming in from under, crazier the better
29. You're a Genius all the time
30. Writer-Director of Earthly movies Sponsored & Angeled in Heaven