lucky girl x a million + various

(coda: I realize it might seem absurd to call oneself “girl” past a certain point; however, yesterday josue, while reviewing custom mural procedures with tammy and me referred to us as “you girls” not once but twice, and if you knew josue, you’d know this could only be taken endearingly, so I herewith consider myself vindicated)

1. this birthday far, FAR exceeded any possible expectations– comments and even posts and emails and facebook superwall thingamajigs of all kinds from all over reminding me of this insanely beautiful network I have of treasures called friends. bless me, my heart swells near to bursting, really. “thank you” feels insufficient to the task.

2. walked into work to a toasted sesame bagel with cream cheese and superjuice from tammy. moments later gina appeared with a bunch of roses. 10 minutes later a singing train of pals led by laura and gina with giant raspberry danish and marzipan frog. barely a blink later I was taken out for lunch by most awesome work friend crew. visit to the new building in the afternoon, which I hadn’t seen since it was empty and echoing warehouse space, and now it’s all built out, nearly complete, with carpeting and furniture and all– and new products a gorgeous, sunshiney space with delightful new spacious modular furniture– wheeeeee!!! after work quickie photoshoot drink with the ladies, treat of the lovely miss darcie, who somehow eluded frog-kissing documentation, and then off to most delectable french dinner at mon ami gabi with the world’s best brother in law. whew! whatta wonderful whirl. somewhere in there I think I did about five minutes’ worth of work. ;)

3. I had a thought about creative work and its sanity-inducing powers– it sounds obvious, but the key really is to keep doing it. there’s this phenomenon where you make something, and it gives you pleasure, and you look at it– you turn it around in your hand and maybe marvel at some kind of thing that moved through you to make this little bit of wonder and you walk away from it and return to it and admire it a little more– and gradually the pleasure seeps out of it, and the only cure is to get right back out and make something new. that’s how it works. for me, at least. it’s pretty delicious, actually, as long as I don’t get too hung up on the object, fretting it this way or that, identifying with or critiquing or excessively investing in it, and instead remember to reinject myself back into the flow of the process, to surrender to it, to swim.

4. please forgive my occasional existential whinges in this space. it is, for good or ill, an online journal, among other things. occasionally I turn a corner and see what I’ve gone on about and am chagrined at my own smallness and think, boy, I could really stand to get out in the world and do something for somebody else and quit my privileged whitegirl bellyaching. there. I’ve said it first, now you don’t have to. ;)

5. I’m embarrassed to admit false alarm about apparently I did pay my renewal fee back before christmas. I don’t know how this fact eluded me, but I’m going to officially chalk it up to Holiday Haze. thank you to the thoughtful and perceptive friend who actually checked whois info and pointed out to me the 2009 renewal date. there is no emoticon expressive enough to convey my sheepishness. but hey! woo! another year of navelgazer. maybe I’ll actually do something with the ol’ site. don’t hold yer breath, tho. and, now, just to be clear: this here’s not navelgazer– I know these online things are confusing, so I’m going to flog this poor hoorse and point out how this is versus, which is my very own domain, purchased in the eons-ago dawn of the interwebs, on which I pretty much posted my dreams for a bunch of years. then there’s the blogger-hosted lint,, to which I moved said dream-cataloging a coupla years back. and then there’s flickr for the snaps. so virtually these days there’s really not much of anything on since I quit paying to host a whole lot of images and text archives and whatnot in that space, being cheap, and actually these days there’s no way to see all that ancient stuff except through the wayback machine— but someday I think I may find the energy to put it back out there in some form. though, really, I have a host of good intentions, few of which ever see actual light of day, so probably not.

6. laura’s uncle maya isn’t feeling so hot– please wish some wellness in his direction. thanks.

7. xo.

deja vu

I’ve been here before. called to account for some indiscretion I’d posted on my web page by my sister after some Good Samaritan had forwarded her a link.

the truth is I know I air too much in this space, and for the most part it is mine to air. but certain details may not in fact be mine to air, for all that they are mine to process. and my intention is not to cause pain or shame to anyone I love. it never was. but my actions, making public what is private, can tend toward that end.

I debated with myself the ethics of posting the item under question. there were a couple of days where I really didn’t know how to proceed and at first proceeded privately, with this material viewable to friends only–a small subset of people who, I hoped and trusted, would take their dismay up with me directly should they feel the need to express dismay.

generally speaking, my family does not observe what I do. I am aware of this. so after a time, after I’d posted a few other things and superficially buried this piece, I deemed it safe to change the post to viewable by anyone. why? arguably, that was thumbing my nose. but ultimately I wanted to own the project fully—as a project.

to which I truly felt (perhaps mistakenly) there were not people attached– until someone outside my family, observing silently, opted to step in and forward the link to my sister– thereby throwing her into embarrassment and concern on behalf of other family members.

I do know that no one in my family would have likely taken any notice of this project of mine without the intervention of a third party.

well and good. this is a fine lesson to me that I don’t operate in the vacuum I tend to assume. that the gossipy world I was raised in persists. it reminds me that I do not in fact intend harm or shame to my family members by my personal, processing project, despite the fact that it might seem to be “about” them– and reminds me to revise my actions to suit this intention. and it teaches me to remember that the web is in fact a public forum, as enclosed as the process of writing and posting might feel, at times.

as the process of living might feel, at times.

it is worth noting that people are quietly judging me.

message in a bottle

I am, apparently, talking to myself in an empty room. not that it’s ever really been any different– but I had such high hopes for comment functionality. I thought, ah, NOW I’ll really get a sense of whether I’m making any contact out there…

newsflash: I’m not making any contact.

which is fine, really.

lately I find I’m lying about everything. I’ll say I’m not disappointed when precisely the opposite is true. I’ll say I’m doing fine, when I’m sleeping about four hours a night and grinding my teeth down. getting crowns installed sucks, by the way.

hello, echoey hall of mirrors. wakey wakey. I’ll make my own reflections shimmy yet.

for lack of a better use of this vehicle…

I’ll just come right out and say it: I fucking hate blogs. today, at least. and, yeah, yeah, I know this is one, but not that kind. I hope. I tried to convince a friend this morning that blog was merely a vehicle, that saying, “blogs are ____” is just like saying, “books are ____”– that books, like blogs, can be any sort of whatever– variously conceived, written, used– and I personally feel that there are better and worse ways of doing them. of course, my “better” is possibly somebody else’s worse, and I’m okay with that. point is, I never liked playing games of telephone—always you pretty much get it wrong, which, okay, yeah, is the point, but still it takes me awhile to stop wiping invisible egg off my face. can’t say I’m overly fond of gossip or circle-jerks or he-said-she-said. and when specifically directed to read someone’s blog, whom I do not know, I can stomach it for perhaps five minute before the wash of nausea swamps the effort. and it’s kind of even worse when reading the inside track of someone I tend to call friend. I end up feeling, just, dirty. okay, too, I know I’ve vented a version of this before. we all know by now I’m not great at parties, I lay prompt claim to dwelling under a rock. plus I happen to be super-cranky today. living like this in the midst of dropcloths and paint drips, carting load after load of stuff I actually like to mildly snearing consignment ladies, and that woolen blanket still hasn’t gotten replaced by a bottom sheet. downward spirals can sneak up. I’m in the midst of one. and all that crowing about climbing up out of depression. in the past when I’ve cycled down I’ve simply, mainly, gone dark here. but now… I guess, here you go. served up piping stinky. this, I fear, is the sort of crap ‘n’ kvetch that blogs and online diarists traffic in. I do not want it to be what I do. what do I want to do? geez. from down in the spiral it’s hard to tell. why so disaffected? why rain on other people’s parades? maybe because I’m supposed to kvell to the yammer about poetry this-n-that, who’s who, what’s what, yadda yadda yadda— and frankly I’m slightly appalled that all it does is make me want to hurl. why did I go to the iowa writers’ workshop, again? what the heck am I doing with my life, again? someone please please please stop—or spare me from— the parade of little egos in this little fishpond or the next. all the kazoo trumpeting and prancing. someone hand me a level latitude. paolo, where are you? artfarm in the bloody boondocks can’t happen fast enough for this particular sarah-head.

with any luck, however, I’ll have shaken it off and fetched a different one tomorrow. maybe I’ll even be able to make some palatable words come out of it. which would be nice. given that I’ve abandoned that little bouncy ball off in some forlorn corner, too.

the dreams right now are unbearable.

what is this?

whatever it is, it is changing. maybe indeed that is one of the few defining characteristics. also that it’s stuff I’ve written, stuff I’m writing. kind of all scrambled-up together. the stuff that collects in, say, a navel. but it used to be more coherent– used to be primarily dream-narratives– the words I wrote down in the book I keep beside the bed after I woke up, then typed-up, revised, “polished” for public consumption, somewhat. then, with the advent of the blogger tool, it changed dramatically. became more declarative, more… discursive. not to get too academicky or anything. but it fits. the words accumulating seemed– because they *were*– more directed toward an audience. from the get-go. and now what change do I have in mind? well, cross-posting, to be blunt. because it’s bugging me that my attention directed elsewhere necessarily causes this, my primary sarah site, to languish. so I’m thinking I just might gather up and re-post here stuff I’m writing elsewhere, like the topic project. not only does that let me feel like I’m at least somewhat actively keeping a hand in here, but it also begins to concoct a kind of collection of diverse bits of writing, if only for my own consultation. so as not to have to hunt and sift later. or that’s the rationalization. anyway. so there.

spam gorgeous

I am developing a new respect for spam. spam wants me to love it. I’m not talking about the canned meat– I mean those surely?computer?generated? messages that come down the wire to all of us pimping the latest viagra or mortgage rate. I have this sneaking suspicion of a lurking poetic consciousness operating amid this most mundane of means– like maybe anarchy artists, planting little unescapable bits of poetry into our daily inbox lives. there’s definitely something fishy going on. because they’re just too surprising and lovely too often for serious commercial shit. maybe its chaos theory. maybe it’s many monkeys and many typewriters locked in a room together.

but here’s this, compiled from subject lines coming down the pike just today– a bit of “found” spam poetry:

shedding a softened
the festal springfall
in the light
melancholy little lights
extensively in southwest
the black potato
what they wanted
the full bloom
the snow crunching
the flowers into
sleep was just
i no longer
but there were

and this, at the start of a message that also contained an advertisement for effexor, whatever that is:

Around the brave Tiger Lily were a dozen of her stoutest warriors, establishment, masters and boys, as his natural enemies, and that the table. All the little changes that had crept in when the Heeps Had the bosun good form without knowing it, which is the best from the Captain to the Theseus; and for this reason: that the If you cannot confidently trust me, whom will you trust? I say, Rosa, not a word. If he can stake his all upon the themselves, for the mermaids immediately disappeared. Nevertheless Debate, really did come out nobly: confirming me in good round was carpeted with moss. As they rattled up the little house they broke charges, I would be glad to know if I could get some spending-money occupation she was engaged, however interesting to her the I had no peace of my life until he was expatriated, and made as I had hung his hat, a deep tarpaulin, watertight, with a broad brim. the property into which she had come; in arranging all the affairs who chatted with them on Marooners Rock by the hour and sat on The Footman seemed to think this a good opportunity for I was, where I lived, how I was employed, and how I came there. To change of air, and who would be charmed to have it in such company. jury and a Campbell judge, and that in a Campbell country and upon a thanks. Far be it from us, in the present comparatively imperfect Without volition as it were, as if indeed the ships populace were himself had some design in operation. I counted my enemies; have been glad of an opportunity to visit the Palace Beautiful, and be herself, and that we had both been hapless instruments in designing in this case also the type of antithesis is the same. For as the earth – fell upon me like unmerited disgrace, in which I forced you sat down on the floor and sobbed, and Wendy did not know how to curdling smile lit up his swarthy face. Smee had been waiting for which I am at present rather sanguine, I find a young but valued not prefer her looking as she looked at such another time; and Now, said he, shall I give you a kiss? and she replied with a The mere vehemence of her words can convey, I am sensible, but a have indifferently smitten her or grovelled at her feet, but she gave rather sleepy, and went on saying to herself, in a dreamy sort of I really thought it was all over with Mr. Omer, after he had to all the shops in the neighbourhood to change this treasure into biped, receptive of knowledge, human, should be removed, and the

and, no, I know they don’t make sense. I know I should just attribute all of it to most-humdrum random text-parsing programs– but the result is too enchanting. I’m too enchanted.

it’s like god. little lovely blips. and you’ve either got faith, or you don’t.


anybody in here? the blogtastic is playing winky-poo…

ah, that’s better. felt myself disappearing for a minute there. all but the smile.

it’s not about the suitor (he’s just a gorgeous, unforeseen and most welcome side-effect)

building community– aka “social networking”. sometimes, I would even venture so far as to say, social engineering— but that’s when there’s actually an engineer at the throttle– and indeed power can go either way– become corrupt or simply, well, powerful.

the question at hand is: what do we make of the social relations we extend into the digital realm? and I, by no means, am without ambivalence on this topic. I’ve been seared crisp in the past. by a glorious email-based community, dammit, that disintegrated under my very fingertips at the keyboard. by a set of friendships that flew apart into poor judgment and spite on a public web page. by a marriage that could not survive, in part, creepingly, the promiscuity inherent in my exposure of self through electronic means. and by relationships that have been so attentuated by mediation that it’s hard, at times, to tell what’s real. but then, sometimes, astonishingly real things emerge from all the attenuation of prose and pixels.

I realize that I’m speaking very abstractly, which is far from my best mode, so let me revert to a concrete example: a so-called, depending on your perspective, flamewar that’s sprung up in the last day on a heretofore stolid and businesslike graduate student listserv I’ve been a subscriber on for a couple of years. here’s what’s happened, in a nutshell, in an attempt to concisely put it in context for the discussion here–

first someone (female– does this matter? it might) sends a post calling out for collaborators in a letter-writing campaign planned one evening on behalf of the tenants of an apartment complex in town who were being summarily turned out of their homes at the end of the month in favor of renovations. next, another student (male) replies with a, frankly, curt and withering little piece about how this particular neighborhood is a local hotbed of vice and dissolution, and how, just possibly, the landlords are doing the community a public service, and then continuing on to slap the first writer’s wrist for apparently indiscriminate use of words like “justice” and “solidarity.” at which point– shit, fan. just about every articulate male I know in the department flew into the fray, mainly in defense of the original student’s intentions and right to post her message in this venue– a portion of the shitstorm, granted, is also constituted by the (typical) Voices of Discipline that perennially complain about the deluge of Irrelevant email messages and wasted computer hard disk space, slow dial-up downloads, blah blah blah.

so. what do we make of a social situation like the above? I say, lively debate. I say, investment and interest in one another’s lives. I also say, participation in a medium which is really good at siphoning emotions into distilled essences and intensifying experiences over dislocated space.

personally, I say, we’re working with hydrochloric acid here, folks. incredibly useful stuff– when directed conscientiously– and also powerfully destructive stuff.

the tools we’ve inherited for such casual use are potent. and there is an associated level of responsibility in using them that should be assumed, should be remembered, I would venture. because it’s people on the other end of the line, after all– people who are sensitive, people who are volatile, people who are what it’s all about. for me at least.

people are the grand project of the world, I feel (even tho the lovely and confounding amy leach makes such a compelling case for the non-self-marketing living creatures of this world)– or helping to forge productive and creative connections between them, between us. and it’s dicey and painstaking work. multi-tiered work. sometimes blow-up-in-your-face experimental work. but the best work of all.

and that’s why I’m on friendster, now. you could say I’m finally ready for it.

borg me

so, yeah, the rumors you’ve heard are true: I, sarah holmes townsend, have eaten crow and, at long last, joined friendster after having vowed never to touch it with a high-jump pole.

a friend asked me recently, “so what’s with all the social networking?” and I was thinking about it the day before yesterday in the car and felt compelled to pull out my little car notebook (man, that thing’s getting a workout these days) and, right in the middle of the burlington/gilbert intersection, start scribbling down my response. here it is:

let’s just say I am not unlike the fabled groundhog– at the first whiff of spring, I clamber from my burrow into the light (this year apparently in full regalia) and cavort about.

and then I started thinking a bit more about that regalia, and it occured to me that, tho rather novel, it bears striking similarities to what/who I’ve been in the past. I seem to be seized of late by a spirit of fresh combinatorial self-invention: ’80s hair, ’90s overalls, and ’00 body.

also, I suspect, the diss kicking into gear may be having some influence upon my productivity level (read: mania)– at last the tunnel ahead reveals a pinhole of brilliance. I cannot shout it forcefully enough: WHOOPEEEEE!!!

the same friend as above reacted with particular surprise (dare I say disdain) to my recent friendster membership: “do people still use that thing?” I’ve, obviously, been trying to work up an appropriately withering retort, with little success. the best I can come up with is, “no, they don’t. at least not the cool people. only us lame-o third-wave latecomers.”

and then I think about maybe sticking out my tongue and going, “nyeah, nyeah.” what do you think– too much?

names & faces

so, thanks to daniel, I’ve joined the collective. no, not stoopid poopy friendster, bastion of the socially mercenary– I’m talking about thefacebook. where you can connect via your skooooool connections. college/grad school AND high school. it’s just like that publication we had at hotchkiss, names & faces, which we (girls) used to pore over literally for hours– memorizing who was who, who was dating whom, identifying cute boys. and the boys, well, they in all likelihood pored over the thing, too, just not in our sight line. it was kinda like the yearbook, as a resource, only way better because it came out at the beginning of the year. each new school year you’d go in to the registrar’s office on the first day to get your picture taken for your i.d. card (what did we even do with those things when I was in h.s.– late 80’s–? me, nothing. except collect them in a box as testimonial to my vast improvement over time) and apart from laminating your photo in rigid plastic, They’d used it to fill the pages of names & faces, with name and home address beneath each photo– which was, frankly, quite useful at boarding school. not only for sending christmas cards, but also for identifying who else came from the midwest, who the super-fancy manhattanites were, and who hailed from darien and greenwich (tho to be honest that was pretty self-evident). and who came from the midwest but seemed, or wanted to seem, like they came from darien or greenwich (aka, lake forest and grosse pointe). and who came from places just completely off the map of the known world (“tennessee? kentucky?? florid– now, wait just a minute here, this has to be a joke– do people acually live there? I thought it just shut down when we left.”). I always craved a names & faces of college and grad school– especially when I was in the writers’ workshop, which is every bit just like high school otherwise, so why the heck not. it might have helped me get a lay of the social landscape. cuz, my friends, make no mistake: it’s a minefield out there. it helps to know where to step and where to tread carefully. yeah, so. but isn’t entirely the same thing, then. I mean, beyond the obvious, digital and what-all. it’s more, I dunno, Proactive, I guess. the rabble taking the printing press into their own sweaty grimey hands. you know– like the web used to be. power to the people. unfortunately, you can’t necessarily count on seeing what people look like, since some of us are uncooperative and put up photos of our front porch. but come on! what if that cute boy in biology class thinks I’m vain?