Saturday, December 17, 2011

Saturday, December 3, 2011

International Book Club

Will read for fun.
I've read 20 books in the past 9 weeks here in Guatemala and have decided to start an International Book Club -- like Oprah's but better.  Your job: let me know if you've read any of the following books and let's discuss via email, gchat, facebook, whatever!  OR you could conversely just read one of the following books that strikes your fancy.  Your choice.  Here they are, in order from most favorite to...well, actually I enjoyed and/or loved all of them except for Silas Marner.  Sorry, George Eliot.  Here they are chronologically, from first to most recent, with a haiku about each.

1. The Hunger Games Trilogy, Suzanne Collins

remember Harry
Potter? this fills a very
small hole. still, good read

2. The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time, Mark Haddon

this: the perspective
of an autistic boy who
finds a dead dead dog

3. Survivor, Chuck Palahniuk

religious cult meets
the rise of celebrity
and a plane crashes

4. Atonement, Ian McEwan

who doesn't love a
prolix period piece with
war, estates and love?

5. Lord of the Flies, William Golding

revisit this high
school classic.  there is more there
there after years passed

6. The Talented Mr, Ripley, Patricia Highsmith

inspiration for
film, but with much less homo-

7. Marya: A Life, Joyce Carol Oates

took me 200
pages to say, "Mariah,"
not "Mar-ee-ya."  right?

8. We Were The Mulvaneys, Joyce Carol Oates

a family comes
apart and tries to heal, with
mixed results, obvi 

9. Silas Marner, George Eliot

of the transparent and dry.
don't linger here long

10. What I Talk About When I Talk About Running, Haruki Murakami

it's never too late
for pursuit of a new dream
or twenty-six miles

11. The Book of Salt, Monique Truong

cuisine, Gertrude Stein,
a gay Southeast Asian chef,
Paris, the thirties. 

12. Bluebeard's Egg, Margaret Atwood

we all know how I
Let's leave it at that. 

13. A Visit from the Goon Squad, Jennifer Egan

Egan contemplates
virtual / fleshy

14. Room, Emma Donahue

trapped in the closet,
but sans R. Kelly (or for
that matter, music)

15. Death of the Adversary, Hans Keilson (unfinished)

dense unappealing
prose, fascinating premise.
maybe in ten years?

16. Infidel, Ayaan Hirsi Ali

Ayaan: my hero.
confronting the true evils
of the modern world

17. Under the Banner of Heaven, John Krakauer

just more religious
crazies; proof that god simply
should not be. ever

18. American Psycho, Bret Easton Ellis

the allegory, 
for some, will be lost to the
femicide. A+

Saturday, November 19, 2011

This is my camera on Guatemala

I'll try to keep these photos to a minimum.
So I've returned to Xela after 6 weeks on the road, traveling through Guatemala and Mexico.  The trajectory of my journey changed a bit -- I opted not go into Honduras and Belice, as I was enjoying getting to know Guatemala.  I have troubled views of tourism in general at this point, and I was working through these views on my sojourn.  Nevertheless, I'm thrilled to be back in Xela.  I am volunteering almost everyday at a home, called Hogar Abierto (Open Home) for children of Xela -- taking them exercising, running, teaching English, playing games, eating, cooking.  I opted not to return to language school, as I feel as though my Spanish is at a point where I only need to converse in order to improve.  I also interview tomorrow to be an English teacher here in the mornings, while continuing to volunteer in the afternoon and evenings.  But enough about my time here now.  Here's my time passed...

Una caminata a Lago Atitlán

Thorbjorn getting ready for the
first leg of our journey.
I began my travels by embarking on the three-day hike from Quetzaltenango to Lake Atitlán -- about a 50km journey.  It was gorgeous, replete with rolling hills, cloud forests, pueblos, and rivers.  The hike was let by Quetzaltrekkers, the organization with which I now volunteer.  However, it rained 80% of the time, and I got violently ill on the second day.  Let's just say I marked a lot of territory on this journey.  Therefore, there weren't many photos taken.  But I do have a few.

Saturday, September 24, 2011

de cosas divertidas

¡Hola y besitos de Guatemala!  Surprisingly enough, I´m having a difficult time carving out space to write in this blog.  I am doing a lot of writing, but don´t necessarily always want to be doing it in front of a computer.  That being said, for my mother´s sanity, here I am in all my blog glory.  I have now been in here in Quetzaltenango for 2 weeks, the first of which was filled with muchas cosas políticas, but I´ll get to that in another post.  We´re here to talk about fun.  And I´m having a lot of it.  And in breaking news, this past Sunday was the first time someone utter the word “vamos…” and my brain didn´t automatically fill in “a la playa” afterwards!  And yesterday I got into my first argument in Spanish with a bank teller who refused to acknowledged that it is impossible to sign your name in the exact same way every time.  But anyways…

Un noche mio en Guatemala City

My first Guatemalan meal!
Not much to share here.  My hostel picked me up at the airport, brought me to their lovely accommodations, wherein the fellow guests and I ordered Pizza Hut, as there wasn´t much by way of local flavor that delivered and we were advised against going out on our own.  So I had a quiet night in, decimating my new friends in Scrabble.  The next day we boarded an early bus for the 4-hour trek to Quetzaltenango (henceforth referred to as Xela). And it was en route to Xela that I finally downed my first truly Guatemalan meal: tortillas con carne asada y frijoles

Proyecto Lingüístico Quetzalteco (PLQ) and Xela

Monday, July 11, 2011

Beam Camp: A Review

Things accomplished / happening since arriving at Beam Camp:

  • Named my bunk, along with my co-counselor Andrew, “We Live Here” and designed accordingly.
The boys' names are written onto each arrow.

  • Realized the importance of reflection (below: the before bunk shot I use for mine, immediately after leading our daily hysteric cabin cleanups).

  • Learned the names, histories and interpersonal dynamics of 71 children.
  • Hosted the first ever Beamapalooza 2011 along with an inimitable 11-year old camper.
What's brown and sticky? A stick!

  • Performed Lady Gaga’s “Edge of Glory” at the piano at Beamapalooza 2011, dressed as Lady Gaga.

I invited some kids up at the
end to join me on the final choruses.

  • Realized how important 9 hours of sleep is.
  • Conceptualized a fashion show and hosted as my new alter ego, Hans Werner, a designer with an ambiguous and fluctuating accent.
  • Planted 5 tree groves on the campgrounds.

  • Welded together about 50 links of chain (with about 1100 to go), in order to construct a ship made entirely out of welded chain.
  • Participated in a song parody of Beyoncé's Single Ladies, entitled Singing Chickens. Choice lyrics: "If you liked it then you shoulda laid an egg on it."
  • Made exciting discoveries with Cassie, staff director.

  • Lead evening activities, including rousing renditions of Salad Bowl, Weird Al Scoop (a song parody activity), and Human Puppetry (writing plays for others to perform). 
  • Along with my 10 cabin boys and Andrew, created a composting system for BeamCamp.

  • Lead(ing) a course entitled 1-5-6-4 (which is filled to capacity!) on the structure of pop music and how to forge connections between popular music and poetry (including composing pop mash-ups, authoring prose and poetry inspired by those mash-ups, and setting contemporary poetry to music).  It was during the domain presentation (where course leaders describe their courses, or "domains") that I unveiled my mash-up: A Teenage Dream Where You Don't Stop Believing 'til the World Ends and I Love You Just the Way You Are: A Fireworked Bad Romance.
  • Bore witness to one of the most beautiful Fourth of July Celebrations: 72 Campers, in absolute silence, setting 72 origami boats afloat on Big Willey, each containing a single tea light, as the sun sank slowly behind the mountains.

  • Lead impromptu rain-induced choral concerts at the piano (Rolling in the Deep, Forget You, Someone Like You, Born This Way, Don't Stop Believing, Firework).
  • Created unparalled friendships with my fellow co-counselors.
Manda, de Australia.

Bojan, de Providence.

  • Basically feeling complete and utterly full in my life.

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Brevity is the Soul of Wit

Camp is great, me, exhausted.  The kids got here today, and I am exhilarated, inspired and activated.  This is the real deal.  And let's be honest, I probably won't be doing much posting.  But we'll see.

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Almaz Makes It Count

One of my besties, Almaz Sara Dessie, graduated from medical school and Providence two weeks ago.  This is the song I wrote to celebrate her and her transcontinental move.  I am so proud of her.  Oh, and she really likes Beyoncé.

Friday, June 10, 2011

Oh, Daniel

So I just started learning guitar 2 months ago.  I figured I need to be the coolest camp counselor possible -- and I can't very well lug my piano out to the campfire.  So I've been teaching myself on my mom's old acoustic (while she teaches herself piano on my keyboard).  Here's my first foray into songwriting via guitar -- inspiration provided by, well, Daniel.  Oh, Daniel.

Monday, April 25, 2011

You didn’t like 2666? That’s bologña!

Upon finishing Roberto Bolaño’s 2666, the posthumously published 900-page tome centered on an elusive German author and the spate of yet-to-be solved female sexual homicides committed in Juárez, Mexico (which Bolaño fictionalizes as Santa Theresa) in the past 20 years, my initial reaction was: what the fuck?

Absent was my usual conception of a novel’s end: a resolution, some semblance of a wrap-up. Here we have five seemingly disparate books placed one after the other, and the threads of varying thickness tying each to one another were revealed slowly, and at times enigmatically, but where was the dénouement? I sat stunned, and a little betrayed, for a few moments, until I began to process what had just taken me the better part of two months to finish. A revelation: 2666 had, for me, pulverized the boundaries within which a novel must remain and revolutionized the rules to which a novel ought to adhere. Could this be due to my sophomoric understanding of the current literary landscape? Perhaps. But if so, I implore those in the know to point me toward works on par with 2666 (Maybe Infinite Jest?  It's on my list, okay?).

There is something bigger at play betwixt the first and final pages: between the subtle call to action; the intersection of postnationalism and cultural identity; the commentary on futility and obsession; the plight of wars both intra- and international; the silencing of a multiplicity of voices. Yes, these tropes can be found across the spectrum of literature, but Bolaño creates a new stage from which to air them; his novel both dazzles and provokes without adhering to conventional parameters. In full cognizance of the vagueness in which I’m communicating (due to my apprehension at spoiling the beauty of this novel for anyone), let me say that in this, his final work, Bolaño explodes the very term, novel, yet adheres to the secondary definition, creating something unusual, crafty, and inimitable.

Friday, April 1, 2011

Sonnet 100

Ginny contemplates existence.  On the toilet, natch.

My left forearm now bears the mark of Margaret, fulfilling a dalliance I entertained in my initial blogpost.  Nice follow-through, Hawkins!  These last four lines of Margaret Atwood's Variation on the Word 'Sleep' serve as a testament to my allegiance to the written word, both mine and that of others.  A constant reminder that it is through writing that we come to know ourselves, and through reading we come to know our world.  And maybe something about love, blah blah.

Taken within the context of the orginal poem, these lines have an eerie voyeuristic quality, a desire to be unknowingly essential to someone.  But I also appreciate how they resonate in terms of the muse -- that which inspires us (sometimes unbeknownst, sometimes fleetingly) to act, create.  That muse that inhabits us for only a moment, giving us the capacity and space to take a heretofore inchoate thought and forge a tangible product or empirical action.  Thanks to all the muses out there. (Especially Josh Silverman of Schwadesign who helped me with font selection, and my tattoo artist-in-residence Mike of Black Lotus.) 

I had another tattoo finished in this sitting, but Imma waiting for that to heal 'fore I post photos.  Think: an ode to Providence.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Most Erudite Feline II isn't the only way to receive Word of the Day.  Lucy's selection for today is most fitting for her: phonophobia.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Submitted for the approval of the Midnight Racism Society...

...I call this story, "The Tale of the Entitled, Inarticulate White Girl with Roots (and not the kind that connects one to one's heritage)".

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Most Erudite Feline

Ginny embarks on a literary journey her father began many years ago. Personally, I would have recommended beginning with The Robber Bride, but I don't like being pushy -- and the short essays in Writing with Intent are more palatable for a cat.

Monday, February 28, 2011

You know black, it's this year's pink...

Indulge me as I briefly reflect on the past 30 years, and the coming three. In consuming a belated 30th birthday dinner with my folks and grandmother last night, I began to think about my turning thirty this past 14th of February and what it means. I came to the following conclusion: absolutely nothing. You won’t find me curled in a feeble state dreading my impending dotage, nor lamenting years strew carelessly aside without regard. Yes, in sincere awareness of all its banality I utter: I have no regrets. I look back on my life, my struggles with finding a path, with substance, with education. I turn toward the dark-filled, love-scattered, and bond-testing times alike and revel in their didacticism. As a faithless man, I murmur: I have been blessed.

And now I begin a new chapter: life outside of Rhode Island. This week was ripe with change for me. I received a job offer to be a camp counselor at BeamCamp in New Hampshire for the summer, which I accepted. I gave my notice at PASA, which proved more difficult than expected. After New Hampshire, I’m buying a one-way ticket to Guatemala, where I will spend several weeks in an immersion program, followed by an unknown amount of time traveling and volunteering throughout the country, until I feel my Spanish has reached fluency, and my commitment to social justice in Central America fulfilled. During this time I will be applying to MSW programs in NYC, and will move to the city following my return from Guatemala, to (hopefully) begin an MSW program in fall 2012. I’m ready to move in a new direction. And while I’ll no doubt miss seeing this on a regular basis:

I know I’ll return to it one day. Wish me luck.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Poetry via Pop: Marry You

Marry You

A revelry, a dance
dasein in longevity's absence

The choir bells ever peal
(they've not been silenced)
for it takes a life's breath
to arrive entwined with solitude

A dalliance not marred
like a bruised avocado
sickly brown and metastatic

Let eyes do
what they ought
let "I do"s
remain fraught
as they everwere

A freshly severed finger
unencumbered by infinity
elates in its nudity
(never actually encircled)

Bursting forth:
an explosion of peals
discarded melodies, transvalued
through a new dancing shoe.

[ jh ]

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Who Is Love?

My brief exegesis on the film lo sono l'amore (I Am Love): trying to attribute the titular declaration to some character and make a little more sense of the foreign film. Thoughts [SPOILERS AHEAD]:

Betta: Her rejection of her Giorgio and subsequent confession of her sexuality was perhaps what pushed Emma into Antonio's arms -- witnessing her daughter's strength to defy both tradition and a family where patriarchs have very delineated ideas of their offspring's lives, Emma was no longer afraid to grasp onto what she wanted. Betta is love.

Antonio: Antonio, with his culinary passion, awakens within Emma something long dormant. Their lovemaking scene, juxtaposed with all the pollenation and buzzing and fertilization, shattered Emma's mundane and tepid existence, fulfilling some unexpressed desire. I remember in her dream we catch a glimpse of outreached purple-streaked hands offering her a bunch of grapes, vibrant with color. She accepted Antonio's fruit. Antonio is love.

Edo: Edo's death seemed to be the final act that drove Emma into Antonio's arms. I'm hesitant to think she would have left everything for Antonio, given the nature of his relationship with her son. But, to put it crassly, with Edo out of the way Emma was free to pursue her love -- Edo drove Emma into Antonio's arms. Edo is love.

Emma: Clearly the most troubled character in the film. Swept away from her home and a father who restored works of art for resale (much like he prepared her for her marriage?), she married into privilege. But there was always something tight in her face, something hidden under the surface, and a coolness between her and her husband, who actually renamed her upon arrival in Italy -- can't get much more overt than that. In the final dream sequence we are allowed into, while she is sleeping after learning of Edo's death, there is a young girl shaking her: "Kitezh, Kitezh" she says. Kitezh, is what Emma shares is her original name, but it's also a legendary town in Russia that submerges itself under a lake to ward off an attack from the Mongols. Emma, too, had submerged herself to survive her marriage, but is now rising to the surface. Emma is love.

But then I realized that maybe it's just more the force of love, speaking its voice: "I have arrived, I am here, resistance is futile."

Friday, January 21, 2011

Friday Night Food Porn

A Friday night in heaven.

You will need:
4 (four) oblong slices of Seven Stars Bakery Durham Stick
1 tub of Virginia & Spanish Co. Brown Bear Peanut Butter
1 jar Bonne Maman Raspberry Preserves
1 tub Philadelphia Whipped Cream Cheese, Chive
1 tub Smart Balance Whipped Low Sodium Buttery Spread (for your health)
1 laptop
1 internet signal (pilfered or purchased)
2 cats

You will:
1. Brown bread slices in toaster oven, until sufficiently toasted.
2. Slather one slice with cream cheese.
3. Glob peanut butter all over second slice.
4. Spread Smart Balance liberally on third slice.
5. Smother preserves across remaining slice.
6. While toast is heating up the toppings, open your laptop and cue last night's episode of 30 Rock on Hulu.
7. Recline with slices and laptop.
8. Eat cream cheese-topped slice first: it is the most savory and should be entirely consumed before embarking upon Dessert (parts i-iii)
9. Laugh at the stupid thing Tracy Jordan/Jenna Maroney just said.
10. Alternate subsequent bites between preserves, peanut butter, and Smart Balance.
11. Remark to yourself how talented Tina Fey is.
12. Final bite...your choice.
13. Let cats lick plate.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

My Heart Is So Full

This will be the newest piece of framed art hung in mi casa:

Reasons this cover resonates with me:
  1. The amount of unadultered space given to Chris and Darren.  Nary a inset photo to detract (though that's more US Weekly's game than EW's).
  2. The tenderness limned on Chris' face. 
  3. Its poignancy in light of Chris Colfer's Golden Globe win for Best Supporting Actor.
  4. The fact that these chaps are in uniform (yum).
I love being gay. Rock on EW.

Now, would I like a little more diversity in the portrayals of gay teens/gays in general? Absolutely (see the homogeneity of those on The United States of Tara, Shameless, Will & Grace, Ugly Betty, Brothers & Sisters).  But this is a small step.  The dream is alive.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Homophonic Fail of the Day

I arrived at work this morning to find this:

So naturally, I made this:

And did this:

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Next step, ditch the car...

I accquired tattoo number five this past Lord's Day.  Black Lotus' Mike Boissoneault and I are getting to be fast friends -- we passed the time watching on of my favorite horror flicks, The Descent.  In retrospect, I should really select lighter fare to view during my tattoo sessions (tambien yo había visto El laberinto del fauno aunque recibí mi tatuaje de Tori Amos).  I was more prepared for the ribcage pain this time around, from an earlier introduction, but the last 20 minutes proved rather unendurable, due to the increased sensitivity of my skin to the incessant stabbing of the needle into my bones.  Coping mechanisms included lamaze breathing, the forceful pinching of the skin between my thumb and index finger, the biting of my thumb knuckle, and imagining that it could be worse -- I could be battling a bloodthirsty chimera of bat, human and wolf in a subterranean labyrinth. But now it's over, and I couldn't be happier with the results.  I am really digging the idea of my body as canvas, now a celebration of the most economical and ubiquitous mode of transportation, not to mention a thing of sublime beauty.  Two more to go before February 14th...

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Feline Fecundity

Today marks the one year anniversary of Ginny's birth.  See Ginny, content before homemade birthday hat, and quite livid afterwards.  Some folk just don't like to celebrate.