Thursday, April 19, 2012

Response to the first half of Michael Pollan’s book: The Omnivore’s Dilemma

      Just in reading the first three paragraphs I realized I was going to like this book. Michael Pollan had made compelling points on topics I already saw in my everyday life regarding the lack of culture in food throughout our country. Its amazing to have something like the word “diet” - a word which doesn't even exist in many languages- sweep across the psyche of a nation like a tidal wave. Its odd to picture a nation in which food is viewed in terms of trends and fads which come and go with popularity spurned by what people see in magazines or on TV. He touches on two cultures so deeply rooted in their eating habits and traditions that are perceptibly happier and healthier in their eating. In his immediate comparison between the French and Italian food cultures versus that in the US (or lack thereof), I could already tell I was going to find Pollan’s examination and synopsis of the American food industry as very telling. 
        In the next section, I was amazed to see Pollan track everything in an average supermarket, back to the main source of corn (at one point pointing out that even the walls of the supermarket itself most likely also contained a corn derivative of some sort). Knowing that corn itself is actually a fair in-nutritious vegetable, I was shocked to read how much of it is present in almost everything we eat. Following the modicum that, “you are what you eat”, it was difficult to wrap my head around the notion that perhaps we are all just filling up on a bunch of unnecessary and in-nutritious corn fillers in all our food. My first thought about all of the corn excess was that it was  naturally industry driven. I assumed That typical business interests in the American food/farming industry, just like in any other market based/capitalist American industry, drove the endorsement of corn as a cheap resource that could easily keep up with demand. Turns out, I was only partially correct. In fact, according to Pollan the monstrous demand for corn only ends up hurting corn farmers, keeping them enslaved to the production of a resource which is so overly abundant that supply will almost always outweigh demand. This made me think, then who exactly is all this corn production benefiting if not the producer or the consumer? Realizing that even the most honest attempts at a basic meal may leave us entrenched in the corporate interests of large agricultural companies, ( the only ones who do benefit from the cheap resource/ production of corn and subsequently its food products) by no chance of escaping their corn in everything, was an extremely defeating thought. 
           I also really liked Pollan’s examination of the organic food craze. In describing his attempt to make an organic meal he came to the conclusion that organic goods are not necessarily better, that the best route to go instead is just for the most fresh items. He went on to show that picking foods which are naturally in season and therefore more fresh once they hit the shelves of the supermarket, is often a better choice. In comparison, he shows that often organic food production companies are more so in the market of organic produce in order to obtain profit from the niche market which is growing in popularity. This thought took me right back to the original point made in Pollans’s introduction; that a general lack of food tradition/ culture in the US, leaves us vulnerably perceptive to food fads, trends, and corporate marketing schemes. 

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

meditative thoughts from an evergreen state of mind

         Today I have been in "Merica" for one hundred and seventeen days. I'm sitting at a desk eating stale cereal reflecting on all the motions that brought me here and curiosity rushing through my body just wondering if this so called real life will always feel stale. Maybe it will just swallow me whole not even the common courtesy to chew me a little just have some sort of fleeting sense of emotion.
          From this window I can watch trains and boats pass through even see ducks swoop down landing in the cold sound that stretches out before me. Somedays I get a strong urge to run down to those tracks run along side a locomotive waiting for the one car to have its doors still propped open and dive in. Just to keep seeking the adventure that always seems to linger on my lips, always wanting that unfamiliarity and discomfort that keeps my red raider blood flowing.
           But then I snap out of my Kerouac wonderland and start school in three short weeks. For the first time in Nine years I will sit in a class room. Do homework, write papers even pedal to school like junior high. I hope this venture into academia will provide me some enlightened vision quest. Not to make more money then the next guy or seem important or prove anything to anyone but myself. Maybe to show that I'm not that hair gel toting mindless peon that was just a product of the middle class suburban facade that conforms into a box that just gets stacked away checked off that proverbial list of americans who spend and buy, buy bye there life away.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Fox River Valley

sweet-tempered feelings we share
laying in the dark breathing soft night
outsides cool and damp
blowing leaves rustle in the alley
you let me in with inversion
my bag lies still now, my shoes worn
I stand before you jobless and poor
BUT you look into me like I'm something more
I run in circles to pass the time
BUT when you get home every thing's fine
you catch me gazing at you when you speak
its only me in attempt to find the depths to your unceasing mind
BUT as the Beatles said so eloquently
"Let It Be"
your inner mind is so inexpressibly Divine
BUT you have only let the special ones in to find

my mind is so scattered just as my timeline
Ive been here and there, up and down
oh what the hell and side to side
so who could blame a mind that's nor here or there
in any one time
or a body that's slept in as many places as mine
now that my pace has begun to slow
I'm beginning to feel a celestial glow
and just so you know
these words are not for show
BUT for admiration for a girl I'm just beginning to know

Friday, July 29, 2011

San Francisco in Everlasting

You start with ever shade of dusk
          your home to characters of every
          my eyes see you phantasmal a plenty
          your lights shine some hallucinating facade
          your neighbor hoods illustrate wince to the nation
Haight-Ashbury set back over the city
          your a distant touristy reminder of
          your hippie past wearing mock tie-dyes
          western winds sweeping bewitching fog over
          your hills laying comfortably like breast reaching
          for the sky Telegraph Hill Russian Hill Nob Hill
Mission stands in deep depiction of a pill
          your lifeline  lengthy of ups and downs
          your never weary of baring wholly
          my eyes see busy bustling days
          drunk horny dirty nights
          keep up the buffet of life
Castro your sooooo GAY
          your streets are neat and pretty
          your smell is of marijuana and rosemary
          I see one of a kind
          your numb to societies standards
          you enjoy mockery of generics
Downtown you shadow your city
          sunlight can't find your sidewalks
          you must be the backbone for why
          would you stand so tall over
San Francisco
you see through soft feminine eyes
your hearts thunders with the passion of the strongest man
your street singers amuse the rhythms of your soundtrack
your nakedness is never alarming
in this way I adore you.................  

Saturday, July 16, 2011

i came Now I Am

i came scared
i came mad
i came sad
i came short haired
your heart felt good
your mind Utopian
your persona unique
your voice sprinkled emotion 
like a landslide
how many special people changed
how many lives will never live the same
how your like a visual illusion
I am tranquil
I am thankful
I am exhilarated
I am longhaired
you are the Gypsy Train

Thursday, July 14, 2011

champagne blonde/finding the gypsy train


       In December 2009 I arrived with trepidation for yet another winter season of bartending, this time at Squaw Valley in Lake Tahoe, California. On the first day I was acquainted with the usual suspects of any ski resort, except one. With champagne blonde hair, freckled nose, and perfect pearl white smile Ashley stood across the room. I was incapable of taking my eyes off her through the entire orientation. But then I talked to her, judging instantly, I presumed she was moody, self-absorbed and an unmitigated pain in the ass, only to discover a short time later how wrong I was.

A few weeks went by. Ashley and I worked and argued together. Once feeling contempt for this beautiful girl, I found myself at the end of each day with thoughts of her. I would get perpetually excited on the way to work each morning. Slowly our encounters became friendlier. I realized deeper down she is actually caring, dependable and could make me laugh uncontrollably. Then it happened, in the midst of a friendly feud about work and a few beers, we stepped into the snowy outside, I kissed her. To this day I'm not sure in what instance I thought to kiss her, but I did. The next couple weeks went slowly and with uncertainty.

Then one night in early February Ashley stayed over and after that we were together nearly every night for the next months. In May we visited Portland, Maine Ashley’s hometown. Then decided on a whim we would move there so she could be near her family. We both flew back west with plans of me packing my things in Seattle and meeting her in Tahoe to drive east for the summer. While at home getting things together I received a message from my best friend Zach "I'm buying a bus and we need a fourth person, you in?"

With Zach’s call in crept that wanderlust feeling that so often consumes me, compounded by apprehensiveness of crossing the country for a girl. Deciding I was too crazy about Ashley not to see how things could turn out, my bags were packed, ticket purchased. When I arrived at Tahoe Ashley and I were both fearful and intimidated about the future. We spent the next week finalizing the end of season at Squaw, shipped what wouldn’t fit in the car, loaded the rest and set out in the evening sun winding up the hill on Highway 431 taking one last look out over breathtaking Lake Tahoe and drove across the dark night of the Nevada desert.

The next week we happily rushed across the US visiting the Grand Canyon and friends along the way in Colorado, Iowa and upstate New York finally arriving in Maine the night before Ashley’s 25 birthday. Everything for me at this time was feeling so right and I was ecstatic with my decision. First couple weeks were great until I was unable to find any work. This started to exhaust me, which lead to arguing and frustration. We moved into an apartment in downtown Portland at the height of all the quarreling. Pressure thickened for the both of us. So badly I wanted everything to work out. All I could do to numb the situation was run. Literally running everyday day of the week was my only escape. Every thought I had was consumed by “what to do, how can I make this work, what can be done?” No matter how bad things got, I missed her every time we were apart and I was always so happy to see her again, adding even more confusion.

Then one morning like any other in early August we woke up in our little apartment, making breakfast and coffee. Still so easy to remember the whole morning so vividly, bright sunlight shown through our makeshift curtains and across the hardwood floor where I sat days earlier building our sofa. Left over pizza box lying on the floor from last night, and half drunk wine glasses sitting on the side table. We were both drained from thoughts of feeling like we needed to make some sort of bourgeois life for ourselves. We began to bitch at one another, unaware of any necessary reasons. All of this culminating to the most tranquil dispute we had in days.

I began packing my bags in frustration and anger not believing I would actually leave but in some child like temper-tantrum. Ashley seemed to ignore my behavior as I walked through our place picking out the things I could fit in my duffle. The apartment was hot and quiet; she sat on the end of the bed amongst the ruffled sheets my bags lay neatly by the front door. I walked through the open bedroom door, stood in front of her feeling like in any instant my heart would burst. I wrapped my shaking hands around the back of her head and gave her the softest kiss I could on her cheek just below her eye, pulled her in close and whispered “I Love You.” Turning, I walked out of the room, laid my key gently on the dining table, grabbed my two backpacks and duffle and walked down the carpeted stairs, out to the street below.

I stood there for a moment in tears my skin trembling. My ears listen intently for the sound of her voice, asking me to “get back inside.” Nothing was heard but the soft swish of leaves in the trees above. There was nothing left to do but walk away. Faintly remembering where the bus station was I began in that direction, sticking to the side streets hoping not to see anyone. I walked the 20 blocks in the blistering sun feeling desolate and pointless, arriving finally at the bus station, which felt like it had taken hours and hours. I stood there with my bags with only one real option, Boston.

A good friend from Seattle was living in Boston for school, so I bought myself a ticket for the next bus. I sat and waited leaning against the building watching the cars pass by with unfocused eyes. Forty minutes went by I sat that way feeling sad and lonely, the bus pulled up and it was my turn to get on. I walked passed empty seats making my way to the back. I tucked myself in a corner and texted Colin, he replied immediately with directions to his place. The bus ride was quiet; I starred out over the dimming New England sunlight. The next 3 days I hid away in Colin’s spare bedroom talking with Zach on Skype and looking up flights the world over.

I was feeling so many mixed emotions during this time; it’s like everything I wanted I couldn’t have. I came back after another long run along the river in Cambridge watching the crews row on the river in perfect synchronization and buses pass through the languished summer city. Walked up the steps and into the turn of the century home I was staying, into the bedroom still sweating from my run, pulled up the flights for Bogota, Colombia and purchased a one way ticket for the next day. Just like that in 24 hours I would be flying out of Boston and leaving everything behind; whereas, just days before I was walking the streets of Portland handing resumes door to door.

The now infamous Bus awaited me in Ecuador. The bus was broken (the first of many broken moments), but Zach assured me it would be ready to roll at anytime, in actuality it turned out more like 6 weeks, but when in bus, no one keeps track of time. I traveled the next two weeks on my own in Columbia all the while excited to see Zach again and meet the crew in Quito. During this time my mind raced, wishing at times I were back in Portland, with the girl I still loved. Thinking maybe my decision was too rash but too proud to admit, I just hoped every time I went online to check my mail there would be something from Ashley.

Finally, I arrived in Quito, Ecuador meeting Zach, Alex, Aleana, Matthias and Monkey. We spent my 26th birthday hung-over on the floor of a Hostel eating cheap hamburgers. Instantly I felt at home and welcome into the uncharted future of the Gypsy Train. Even after many months of travel my mind would still wonder and have nights desperately missing Ashley.

I would really like to thank Sally Barker and all of her family for so much support and help while I was in Portland. Letting me into there homes and so graciously looking after me as if I had always been there. You still and will always mean so much to me, and thanks for always making me laugh so hard.
Also Colin McLaurin wow!!! saved me in the last moments, even when I was 3,000 miles from anywhere I knew, there he was to lend a hand in a moments notice. And to his Beautiful roomates Katie and Christine for letting me spend hours telling my sob stories.
Thank you all

Friday, June 24, 2011

simple & easy

raindrops on window panes

whistling tea kettle

soft music

sliced fruit

sweeping floors

washing dishes

swaying hammock

good book

restful nap

rain drops on palms

sliced tomato

corn tortillas 

joint in the setting sun

listen to waves crash

crickets in the grass

in candle light

easy and simple