hack your brain
SOLASTALGIA, a neologism of the words solacium ('comfort' in latin) + -algia ('pain' in greek): distress, including feelings of powerlessness or lack of control, caused by environmental change “the pain experienced when there is recognition that the place where one resides and that one loves is under immediate assault . . . a form of homesickness one gets when one is still at ‘home' (glenn albrecht)


a huge thanks to the good samaritans that so kindly took the time to help me today. i was walking home from the grocery store downtown in the pouring rain when my soaking wet paper bag finally broke. my stuff went everywhere and my glass container of olive oil broke and covered everything in oil. within seconds, i had two people there helping me to pick oily stuff out of puddles and a guy from the deli across the street ran out to give me some plastic bags--all in the pouring rain. it's nice to be reminded that people can be so kind and selfless!


i am thankful that i can think of several missing from this list, including: 8. the pleasure you get when you take the first bite of a real, healthy, delicious meal 9. the comfortable happiness you feel when cuddling in bed in the morning 10. the ecstatic happiness you feel when you're laughing so hard you're crying (amplified by a communal happiness when everyone is laughing this hard) etc.


this american life maps the five senses: http://www.thisamericanlife.org/radio-archives/episode/110/mapping


"paul schilder, an early gestalt psychologist, gives us an idea of what happens when his patients have disturbed body images, in particular when these images lack wholeness.  he argues that disturbed body images have some part in the development of almost every neurosis.  in one detailed example, 'a case of loss of unity in the body-image,' the patient reports:
when i get this anxiety state i cannot walk further.  i run into myself.  it breaks me into pieces.  i am like a spray.  i lose my centre of gravity.  i have no weight.  i am quite mechanical.  i have gone to pieces.  i am like a marionette.  i lack something to hold me together.
"schilder describes other cases:
the patient sees his face in the mirror changed, rigid, and distorted.  his own voice seems strange and unfamiliar to him, and he shudders at the sounds of it as if it were not himself speaking.  gottfried feels that his movements are interrupted.  his body feels as if it were dead and he has a sensation that a dynamo is hissing in his head.  the body feels too light, just as if it could fly.  a patient of loewry's says, "i feel the body not for me but for itself." the patients look for their limbs in the bed.  a patient of pick's complains that his eyes are like two holes through which he looks.
"although these compelling experiences of bodily fragmentation frequently accompany neurosis, schilder contends that they are never far away from the everyday life of the normal person:
the important conclusion we may draw is that feeling our body intact is not a matter of course.  it is the effect of self-love.  when destructive tendencies go on, the body is spread over the world ... one wold like to say that we lose the unity of our body only under special pathological conditions; but we also have to remember how much the feeling of our body varies under normal conditions.  when we touch an object with a stick we feel with the end of the stick.  we feel that clothes eventually become a part of ourselves.  we build the picture of our body again and again.
~excerpt from emily martin, the woman in the body: a cultural analysis of reproduction)
~art: fragmented self 2, by jacob schere at lucid communications, via flickr


on the poverty of student life

a good time to revisit this


i forget sometimes how powerful art can be.  our dance instructor in jacmel said that their dance studio has always been a place against discrimination of any kind, despite the prejudices that exist in the rest of haiti.  people are free to be who they want to be.  they are free to create what they feel.  it is a safe space, passionate and emotional.

some haitian drumming for inspiration:


solidarity ... globalized.


stendhal syndrome: a psychosomatic illness that causes rapid heartbeat, dizziness, fainting, confusion, and even hallucinations when individuals are exposed to a particularly beautiful piece of art

File:Sunset over florence 1.jpg
like any school, glenard oak had a complex geography.  not that it was particularly labyrinthine in design.  it had been built in two simple stages, first in 1886 as a workhouse (result: large red monstrosity, victorian asylum) and then added to it in 1963 when it became a school (resut: gray monolith, brave new council estate).  the two monstrosities were then linked in 1974 by an enormous perspex tubular footbridge.  but a bridge was not enough to make the two places one, or to slow down the student body's determination to splinter and factionalize.  the school had learned to its cost that you can't unite a thousand children under one latin tag (school code: laborare est orare, to labor is to pray); kids are like pissing cats or burrowing moles, marking off land within land, each section with its own rules, beliefs, laws of engagement.  despite every attempt to suppress it, the school contained and sustained patches, hangouts, disputed territories, satellite states, states of emergency, ghettos, enclaves, islands.  there were no maps, but common sense told you, for example, not to fuck with the area between the garbage cans and the craft department.  there had been casualties there (notably some poor sod called keith, who had his head placed in a vise), and the scrawny, sinewy kids who patrolled this area were not to be messed with--they were the thin sons of the fat men with vicious tabloids primed in their back pockets like handguns, the fat men who believe in rough justice--a life for a life, hanging's too good for them.

zadie smith, white teeth


joe was one of my husband's best friends.  they lived on the same street in high school.  back then, they did drugs together--mostly hallucinogens.  they were close like two people are close when they go through those sorts of experiences together.

he was always around back then.  i never thought anything of it really.

after high school, he moved to oklahoma.  he got into heavier drugs while my husband was giving them all up.  they grew apart for a while.

then he decided that my husband was the only one who could help him get clean.  he came to our house in georgia and stayed with us for a while until he could get a place to live.  he interned at one of the best restaurants in georgia.  we saw him a lot more.

he gave up heroin only to find pills.  he was one of those people that always wanted to get fucked up.  not just a little high, but really gone.  he was pretty good at hiding it all though.  he said he spent all of his money on dvds and such, but we always had an idea of what he did at night.  my husband was always there for him.

he was so goofy.  big and tall, with a goofy grin and gangly walk.  we used to disagree for the sake of disagreement.  i think we both wanted to be right--wanted to seem smart.  i don't know.

we lived in the same town for years, until it came time for us to move to kentucky.  when we left, there was no one to watch out for joe.  we'd hear sad stories about him falling asleep at work because of the pills.  eventually, he got fired.

from that point forward, he went downhill.  i always knew he was sensitive, but i didn't know just how bad the pills had gotten.  he moved back out to oklahoma to find work and went through a few jobs.  he found a girl and tried to move quickly with her.  they were engaged.  he wanted so desperately to have a different life.

then she left him the day after his 29th birthday.  it had been moving too fast for her.  she had cheated on him.  she wanted time to herself.

she didn't know how much he needed her--or just someone like her in his life.  he lost it.  threatened all sorts of horrible things when he was on the phone with my husband.  he was so alone, but promised he wouldn't do anything crazy.

then, just a few days later, he was found dead of an overdose.  maybe it was an accident.  maybe it wasn't.  either way, it is the end of his story.  there is no more to that story.  it's like an art film--there is an abrupt ending and the audience is left wondering what comes next.  where is the character arc?  would he have figured it all out?  what was the reasoning behind such a final ending?

i guess real stories don't follow the same process that amateur writers use to create stories.  his story just ended, leaving us all with more questions than answers.  he was always there.  now he will never be there again.  end of story.


enough said.


camel train in broome, australia.

(brett symons/flickr)




Winter Doldrums Got You Down? Have Some 'Hygge'
January 30, 2012
by Claire O'Neill

I don't speak a lick of Danish, but recently learned a great word that describes a very particular feeling. Hygge (pronounced "hYOOguh"?) often translates to "cozy" — though it connotes much more. From what I gather, it means something like "fireplace warmth with candles and family and friends and food, tucked under blankets on a snowy day, cup-of- coffee conversation, scarf-snuggle, squiggly, warm baby love." Or something like that.

I've heard claims that Denmark is one of the world's happiest countries — despite dark winter days with only six hours of sunlight. How one might begin to quantify that, I have no idea.

One semi-recent Forbes article explained a British study: Scandinavian countries, the study showed, are some of the most prosperous — and prosperity, the logic goes, is correlated with happiness. (Make of that what you will.)

"But happiness is much more than money," the Forbes article reads. "It's being healthy, free from pain, being able to take care of yourself. It's having good times with friends and family."

Danes, it seems, have all of that going on. In particular, there's that last bit about friends and family. That's where the ever-important hygge comes in.

One Lonely Planet guide to Copenhagen has a whole page devoted to it:
"Usually it is translated as "cosy" but hygge means much more than that. Hygge refers to a sense of friendly, warm companionship of a kind fostered when Danes gather together in groups of two or more, although you can actually hygge yourself if there is no one else around. The participants don't even have to be friends (indeed, you might only just have met), but if the conversation flows — avoiding potentially divisive topics like politics and the best method to pickle herring — the bonhomie blossoms, toasts are raised before an open fire (or at the very least, some candles), you are probably coming close."

Bars and restaurants have fires or candles blazing through the year, and a constant, generous supply of alcohol....

(from NPR)


wooden heart

we’re all born to broken people on their most honest day of living
and since that first breath...we’ll need grace that we’ve never given
i've been haunted by standard red devils and white ghosts
and it's not only when these eyes are closed
these lies are ropes that i tie down in my stomach,
but they hold this ship together tossed like leaves in this weather
and my dreams are sails that i point towards my true north,
stretched thin over my rib bones, and pray that it gets better
but it won’t won’t, at least i don’t believe it will...
so i've built a wooden heart inside this iron ship,
to sail these blood red seas and find your coasts.
don’t let these waves wash away your hopes
this war-ship is sinking, and i still believe in anchors
pulling fist fulls of rotten wood from my heart, i still believe in saviors
but i know that we are all made out of shipwrecks, every single board
washed and bound like crooked teeth on these rocky shores
so come on and let’s wash each other with tears of joy and tears of grief
and fold our lives like crashing waves and run up on this beach
come on and sew us together, tattered rags stained forever
we only have what we remember

i am the barely living son of a woman and man who barely made it
but we’re making it taped together on borrowed crutches and new starts
we all have the same holes in our hearts...
everything falls apart at the exact same time
that it all comes together perfectly for the next step
but my fear is this prison... that i keep locked below the main deck
i keep a key under my pillow, it’s quiet and it’s hidden
and my hopes are weapons that i’m still learning how to use right
but they’re heavy and i’m awkward...always running out of fight
so i’ve carved a wooden heart, put it in this sinking ship
hoping it would help me float for just a few more weeks
because i am made out of shipwrecks, every twisted beam
lost and found like you and me scattered out on the sea
so come on let’s wash each other with tears of joy and tears of grief
and fold our lives like crashing waves and run up on this beach
come on and sew us together, just some tattered rags stained forever
we only have what we remember

my throat it still tastes like house fire and salt water
i wear this tide like loose skin, rock me to sea
if we hold on tight we’ll hold each other together
and not just be some fools rushing to die in our sleep
all these machines will rust i promise, but we'll still be electric
shocking each other back to life
your hand in mine, my fingers in your veins connected
our bones grown together in time
our hands entwined, your fingers in my veins braided
our spines grown stronger inside
because our church is made out of shipwrecks
from every hull these rocks have claimed
but we pick ourselves up, and try and grow better through the change
so come on yall and let’s wash each other with tears of joy and tears of grief
and fold our lives like crashing waves and run up on this beach
come on and sew us together, were just tattered rags stained forever
we only have what we remember