On Veganism

I wrote this for a friend's blog and thought I'd copy-paste it. It's kind of a book report/review. I'm going to beef up this entry later, possibly, with some excerpts/facts. For now, this is all.

Last night, I ate elk hamburger baked in a casserole (my housemate from Minnessota, who cooked the dish, proudly calls it a "hot dish," a traditional Minnesottan recipe she got from her mother). The night before, we ate baked chicken. Aside from a small bowl of Hawaiian-style sweet and sour chicken rescued from another housemate's employer's food pantry's excess, that has been the only meat I've eaten in the last four months, and it's the most meat I've eaten in such rapid succession in the two years since I became a vegetarian.

More specifically, I would be classified as a "conscious omnivore" or a "flexitarian" - and these three meals fit into my ethical guidelines: elk is not factory farmed, the chicken was organic, "happy" chicken from a local farm, and the Hawaiian dish was rescued from an untimely demise in a dumpster. But after reading Jonathan Safran Foer's new book, Eating Animals, last night's chicken is the last meat, or animal by-product, I probably will ever eat (note: not necessarily just yet. I'm realizing that becoming vegan is a process, a transition, and I won't be 100% vegan for a little while).

2009 Mix

I made a 2009 Mix CD. This is not my "Top 10 of 2009" or anything like that; I can never make those and be decisive about them. This is just a nice little mix of songs that came out this year that I like in no order (other than an order that makes aural and aesthetic sense, in my opinion), and there were many other songs I liked that came out this year that didn't make it on the mix.

Click the image below to download.

Song Title - Artist [Album]

1. For Emma (Forever Ago) (Justin on Piano Version) - Bon Iver
2. To Ohio - The Low Anthem [Oh My God, Charlie Darwin]
3. Are We There Yet - Ingrid Michaelson [Everybody]
4. Blue Lips - Regina Spektor [Far]
5. The First Days of Spring - Noah & the Whale [The First Days of Spring]
6. Dear God (Sincerely M.O.F.) - Monsters of Folk [Monsters of Folk]
7. When We Fell - David Bazan [Curse Your Branches]
8. La Collectionneuse - Charlotte Gainsbourg [IRM]
9. Heart Skipped a Beat - The xx [The xx]
10. Comets - Fanfarlo [Reservoir]
11. Solitaire - Wilco [Wilco: The Album]
12. Northwest Passage - Leonard Mynx [Vesper]
13. Southern Anthem (Live) - Iron & Wine [Norfolk]


Here's a rough draft of a song I wrote this week. It's called "Contradictions," tentatively, and the lyrics are below.

"Contradictions" from Elliott Jones on Vimeo.

you're sort of a beacon of marvelous light
that invariably weakens as you wind through the night
across town, through the streets and into my room
where i lie awake and think about you.

where i wonder what happens when everything ends
whether you will be there, and will my friends
and i toss and turn, try to squint through the fog
and attempt to squelch my enmity with god

because he's the same god that loves the ones that i do
and he's the same god that hardened pharoah's heart
and he's the same god that brought me to you
and he's the same god that tears me apart.

it's the same sort of useless, trying to understand you
as trying to figure out what big man is up to
because you're the embodiment of all i ever wanted
all mysterious, all beautiful, understated, unflaunted

and so is that just the fault of the human condition?
a war hawk's nobel prize, justified by his admission?
the best loved, most generous in the ground are laid
the most beautiful woman can't love the way she's made

yeah he's the same god that loves the ones that i do
and he's the same god that hardened pharoah's heart
and he's the same god that brought me to you
and he's the same god that tears me apart.


“What makes equality such a difficult business,” wrote the 19th century French playwright Henry Becque, “is that we only want it with our superiors.” His lament illustrates one of the more poignant aspects of an eternal contradiction–the stark disparity between idealism and realism–that has plagued philosophers for all time. Some, like Edmund Burke and the generations of conservatives who followed him, find the idea of true equality not only impractical but subversive, and thus shun it. Others, such as Karl Marx and many of the founding intellectual authors of the United States of America, believed equality was plausible and, in Marx’s case, would be the natural outcome of the oppressive onslaught of capitalism. Neither Burke nor Marx was entirely correct. Burke was mostly correct in his assumptions, as equality is indeed unnatural, but was incorrect in his conclusion. Marx’s idealism is laudable, but his lack of foresight and the impracticality of his ideas of equality rendered his predictions incorrect.

Equality, according to Burke, is not compatible with greed, envy, pride, or lust–arguably inexorable aspects of human nature–and is thus itself incompatible with human nature. What follows logically from contemplation of this contradiction is the opinion of Edmund Burke: “Political equality is against nature. Social equality is against nature. Economic equality is against nature. The idea of equality is subversive of order.” It is at least true that inequality is present in nature. According to Encyclopedia Britannica, many species form dominance hierarchies:
“Dominance hierarchies are best known in social mammals... the evolution of dominance hierarchies in a species is indicative that there is competition for resources. Members of a dominance hierarchy are aware of how they are positioned within that hierarchy and they behave appropriately... In species where organized group living is essential to survival, it also serves to maintain order among pack members.”
It is important to note, however, that by pointing to inequality in nature, Burke is not arguing against equality necessarily. He doesn’t claim that equality is undesirable, per se, and he doesn’t even make the leap toward whether equality is indeed impossible. He simply makes the argument that, observed human nature as it is at present, and possibly taking an example from nature, equality makes for bad government and “subverts order.” Burke was fervently practical and considered contemplation of egalitarianism a waste of time, for “if [a political principle] is not practicable then it is not good.”

Music Du Jour 12-14-09

A few weeks ago, someone in my house happened upon Ingrid Michaelson's album "Everybody." I'd heard of her before; she played at Pepperdine a few years back, and she had a duet with Josh Radin on one of his EPs.

She looks like Lisa Loeb. And not just the glasses; it's the whole nerd thing she's got.

Well, it was put into the living room CD player and, seemingly, never left it for weeks and weeks. We listened to the CD over and over. I stole it a while back and put it in Lisa's car. It hasn't had as heavy a rotation in her car, though, and I was supposed to get it back from her and put it in the living room CD player again. I'll do that soon.

Anyway, the album is beautiful. I wonder whether she writes all of her lyrics, because she has some gloriously cheeky turns of phrase nestled here and there in this album that I really really enjoy. And then the title track is just so cute and catchy.

They say you're really not somebody until somebody else loves you
Well, I am waiting to make somebody somebody soon.
from "Are We There Yet"

Baby you've got the sort of laugh that waters me
And makes me grow tall and strong and proud and flattens me
I find you stunning, but you are running me down
My love's too big for you, my love.
from "Sort Of"

You call me a mountain
And I call you the sea
I'll stand tall and certain, and watch you swallow me

You can move me, if you want to
You can move a mountain
You can move me, if you want to
You can move everything.
from "Mountain and the Sea"

Happy is the heart that still feels pain,
Darkness drains and light will come again.
Swing open up your chest and let it in,
Just let the love, love, love begin.

Everybody, everybody wants to love.
Everybody, everybody wants to be loved.
from "Everybody"

But the real pull is her incredible voice. I love the end of this song, "The Chain." The round is so awesome. And what do you know, it's streaming right here for your listening pleasure:

The Chain [mp3]

Some Seattle Photos

So, I finally got a couple rolls of film developed. I shouldn't have, I can't afford it. But here they are. As usual, about 10% of the pictures came out how I wanted. I'm going to sell my camera. It just isn't worth it anymore. Anyone want to buy a Minolta Maxxum 5 SLR camera with a Quantaray 28-90 lens? Pretty good stuff. It's a good camera. I'm just not patient enough to actually set it manually when I take pictures, and I try to use the automatic settings, and it doesn't work out. Well, here you go:

The first few (bnw) were taken around Beacon Hill and then in a park that Lisa and I visited a few months ago. The color ones were on a hike in Issaquah our house took a while back.

More photos on ihardlyknowher. Enjoy :)

"Racial Identity Reflection: 'Both'"

This past month, a Louisiana judge denied a couple a marriage license. This seems potentially normal enough, but this particular case was interesting to me because the reason he denied their bid for an official union was because they look like my parents.

The judge's rationale was that the children of an interracial union would be unnecessarily burdened by being born half-black and half-white; that they would suffer an identity crisis of sorts - that they would be accepted in neither race community. "I don’t do interracial marriages because I don’t want to put children in a situation they didn’t bring on themselves,” he says.

Reading the article brought me back to May 2006, when I traveled with a group of students down to New Orleans, Louisiana, for a week, to do Hurricane Katrina relief work. While there, we met an amazing old man named Gary, who was taking six months of his retirement to fly down to New Orleans and volunteer full-time doing hard labor for people he'd never met.

I don't know how we got on the topic. Maybe it was my friend Jimmy, who as a half-white, half-Korean may have been discussing his upcoming engagement to a half-black, half Puerto Rican woman, and how their kids, if they chose to have them, would be something akin to multi-cultural superheroes. However we started talking about it, though, Gary, fully aware of our respective ethnic heritages, shared his opinion on inter-racial relationships with Jimmy and I - namely that he, like the aforementioned judge, and for the same admittedly good-hearted reasons, was against them.

"On (Not) Having Children"

There are 29,038,494 reasons not to have children. I was reminded of this fact early this morning as I ate oatmeal, drank coffee, and read from The Sun (some articles from which are mentioned in the previous post).

The theme of this month's issue seems to be "The Hospital," or that's what I've so far surmised (the two articles and one poem I got through this morning were all hospital- or doctor-related). The article I read this morning was in fact a short story (possibly true?) from a mother's point of view, about her 1 year-old son's week-or-so-long hospitalization. You really get into her head. It's heartbreaking.

"Selling Out"

A couple excerpts from and commentary on articles from the online (truncated) version of The Sun magazine, which my house subscribes to (and I am so, so glad that we do. Best magazine I've ever had the privilege of reading).

I. From "Who Will Heal the Healers?"

Passaro: What are some items you’ve accepted in trade from patients [for health care]?
Wible: Dog care, carpentry, gardening, massages, cleaning services. Local artisans have donated the use of a kiln and glass-fusion classes. I donate many of these traded items to other patients in need. Then there’s the delicious homemade bread and homegrown produce. I will work for food.

"Countering Social Ills in Afghanistan Through Development"

During our charla today, we watched a video about the war in Afghanistan. The point of the video was to convince the viewer that the war in Afganistan is not working and that we should withdraw our troops (instead of deploying 40,000 more troops) from the country.

The video recommended development as a more effective means of quelling anti-Western hatred, and I tend to agree. The main issue was security from an American standpoint, i.e. reducing terrorism. Well, it's obvious why war as a security measure is a fallacy; why sending more troops into a country that dislikes being occupied will not increase our security but instead will foment more anti-Westernism.

But another, often more contentious issue is the problem of social ills; of human rights issues. The situation is surely bad (from an American ideological standpoint) in Afghanistan, with human and civil rights abuses, especially directed at women, common. And a lot of Americans see the war as the means to liberate the country from the oppressive, misogynist policies of the Taliban.


I'm glad that I'm getting back into the habit of posting more often. Unfortunately, I've been getting in the habit of something else that I thought I had kicked a few weeks back. Drag.

The only reason for this post is to share the fact that, of all of the late 2000s female singer-songwriters made popular by LA's Hotel Cafe and the Hotel Cafe Tour, Priscilla Ahn is my favorite. That she is the prettiest did not factor into this decision, and I will also say that Meiko is a close, close second.

The loop pedal at the middle and end of this makes it what it is. Reminds me of this incredible Swedish singer-songwriter I saw perform when I was in DC namded Theressa Andersson, who mixes all of her stuff live with loop pedals on stage, and she sounded way better live than she does in the following video:

Hope you enjoyed the music!

"Sleep Alone"

I made this last night. I borrowed a couple books about drawing and figure drawing from the library the other day and I really want to spend a lot more of my free time practicing drawing.

Click to enlarge.

"Hairy Women"

So, LVC is a group of young activists concerned about community, simplicity, sustainability, social justice, defying conventional societal norms, anti-racism, and many other things. For some LVCers, the "defying conventional societal norms" means more than just extricating oneself from the standard American consumerist/capitalist mindset.

For many LVC women, this means deciding that their internal merit is far more important than their physical appearance - many opt to go without make-up. Some take it a step further and do not shave their arms or legs, or pluck their eyebrows... and a daring two or three have decided that there is no real reason for them to shave any of their body hair. Yes, this means hairy female armpits.

I fully support this decision in theory, and want to believe that since I was simply socialized to find smooth armpits and legs attractive, I could be socialized out of the belief. I know that I would be somewhat uncomfortable if Lisa decided to stop shaving her armpits or legs - but I know intellectually that expecting her to shave her body is an outmoded, sexist convention that I could get over.

As I was thinking about this, and about how much I respect the two women I've met this week (there might be more) who do not shave their armpits, I found myself thinking about my face, and how I haven't shaved in a couple days. And - wait. Why do I shave my face again?


I've been gone for a bit - because I've been ultra-busy. If you follow me on Twitter or Facebook (which is likely, I don't know how anyone would find this blog otherwise) then you know I recently moved to Seattle, to work with the Lutheran Volunteer Corps for El Centro de La Raza. Let's recap what happened before that:

Two weeks ago was my last week in Portland. I was sad to leave; I loved Portland, with its strange and wonderful denizens, bike-friendliness, ease of navigation, weather, and more. I dreaded the move to Seattle, except (and this is a very, very large exception) for the fact that Lisa would be in Seattle! Even if I was going to be working as a dirt licker, I would have welcomed the move.

I had a lot to do the last week - I had a blog to write for this one guy, I had some work to do for Charles, I had to pack, I had to finish my sign twirling, and I had to get my summer reading done for LVC (still haven't completely finished that). On top of that, I found out early in the week that my brother was going to be hitch-hiking up to Portland with a friend! So once he got there, most of my time was spent with him and I couldn't spend much doing the stuff I needed to do. But it was good to see him. We still don't really see eye-to-eye, at all, but it was a good time. We hung out, busked a bit for tobacco money, and talked. It was a good time.

Anyway, I left Portland, gave my garden to Sal, and drove up to Seattle - and met Lisa! And we spent a week looking at roomshares for her to live in. I found out where I'm going to be living too, and it's gorgeous and less than a mile away from where I'll be working (pretty freakin' convenient). Lisa's place is OK; we definitely looked at a bunch of dumps. The best thing about it is that it's month-to-month, so she can jet out if it turns out to be just terrible. I guess the worst thing about it is the location (Magnolia); it's not super far from downtown or anything but it's just not central or in a cool neighborhood like Ballard.

The next couple days Lisa and I spent garage sailing in search of a desk; Emily and Brian gave us a dresser and side table that will work well. We found a cool one at "Not Yo Mama's Garage Sale," which was pretty sweet. The rest of the garage sales were pretty lame.

So far my review of Seattle, vs. Portland, is that Seattle is, and definitely feels, like a much bigger city. Seattle is extremely difficult to get around in. The street names seem arbitrary, and the directional designations (NE, S, SW, or none) are difficult to wrap my head around. Portland was so easy. Lisa and I got lost basically every day. I think we're starting to get the hang of it, now. I'm going to be glad to be taking the bus most of the time, I guess? Or walking to work? Not having too far to drive. I hope I can get a bike soon, I suppose.

Anyways, I didn't spend long in Seattle; at present I am back in Washington, DC, for a week, to do a training thing for LVC. I took a red-eye flight and didn't sleep really, which is a bummer. I arrived in DC at 8:30am, which is 5:30am PST. I don't have anywhere to be until 2:00, so I am at an Au Bon Pain down the street from our registration area waiting it out. I'd be nice to sleep here in the cafe but I don't see that happening :)

I do like DC, though. When I lived here I don't know if I took advantage of/appreciated the city as much as I could have. I love the metro. I love the feeling of the city. I love its overtly diverse nature. Anyways I'm here for a week. It's hot. Luckily it's going to get cooler while I'm here, but anything's hot compared to the perfect Seattle weather right now.

In other good news, I got two paychecks in the mail today - as soon as I get my reimbursement from LVC and my deposit back from Larry, I am officially going to have my credit card paid off! YES! That means that I spent two months in Portland, spent my savings (there really wasn't any) and my graduation present cash (also not too much, but a sizeable amount), and basically came out even. But the experience - was it worth the experience? I don't know; I ended up getting a job in Seattle anyway (which I could have done from home and saved $1000 or so). But Portland was a great time. And I found out how much I loved the city. I am glad I did it, so then, yes, it was worth it.

That's all for now :)

"My first ever comic!"

OK! Wow! I'm nervous. I mean, really, nobody is going to read this anyway, but... Well, this is the first comic I've ever really done. Like, scripted it, drew it, inked it, scanned it, a little post-processing, and now it's here online.

And it's not great, but that's kind of the point, I guess? Like, going through the archives of some of the webcomics I read daily now, it's crazy how much they've changed, how much better they've gotten. I'm just glad that I've begun, that that's out of the way, that I can start getting better (I have a long way to go) at drawing comics.

I drew this comic on a 9x12 piece of sketchbook paper, with a mechanical pencil, and I inked it with a fine-tipped sharpie. Haha. For the word bubbles and some clean-up I used photoshop.

So, with all that being said, the comic makes a lot more sense if you (well, I guess, it makes no sense at all unless you) read webcomics. I reference inkdick, DAR, Penny-Arcade, Questionable Content, Pictures for Sad Children, and Octopus Pie in this comic, so if you aren't familiar with them you might not "get" it. Anyways, here you go:

Original Version (click to enlarge):
This one has my original word bubbles in place and I didn't do the greatest job of trying to edit out stray pencil marks that wouldn't erase.

Second Version (click to enlarge):
This one I entered the word bubbles in with photoshop because I wasn't really satisfied with my handwriting (especially toward the end). And I did a little bit better with editing pencil marks. And there's a tiny bit of color.

I still have to decide whether I'd like to put word bubbles in digitally (not this crazy hybrid I tried here that doesn't work) or just be more careful with my handwriting. Anyways, please enjoy and leave a comment! Good or bad, tips, tricks, which of the two versions you like better, etc. Thanks a lot.

"Christianity & mewithoutYou's Lyrics"

I recently read Anne Lammot's "Traveling Mercies: Some Thoughts on Faith," which I highly recommend (both to Christians and to anyone else). One of the thoughts she shares in the book struck me.

Before she became a Christian, for weeks she would walk into a Church nearby the Sunday flea market she frequented, because the music was so beautiful. She had been brought up with a healthy distrust of Christianity, and would stand in the doorway listening to the music but leave just before the sermon. For weeks she would stand, entranced by the music, feeling a strange peace in the beauty of the songs, and then her intellect would get the better of her and she would leave after the songs ended. Eventually the music broke her, and she began to stay for the sermon and then, much later, she became a Christian.

A few weeks ago, when I was in LA for Nick and Sheena's wedding, mewithoutYou was playing at a downtown music venue and a bunch of my friends were going. Because one of my goals while in LA was to see some of the friends that I so dearly missed since moving away from LA, it was a perfect opportunity to interact with a bunch of them at once.

I'd never been a big fan of mewithoutYou; the strange vocals, nearly inscrutable lyrics and too-hardcore for my taste musical style turned me off. But I read Chris Faris' review of their new album, and I knew that many of my friends (Amy, Trevor, Matt Dougherty, to name a few) absolutely LOVED the band, so I decided to give them a try.

And the concert wasn't great. I had downloaded their albums a week or so prior and tried (in vain) to get into their stuff. At the concert, I didn't know a bunch of the songs; it was far too loud and hot and crowded; I was tired from a missed flight and hours of public transportation and didn't want to stand there listening to music I didn't really enjoy.

But I talked to Trevor about his love for the band and he said it was all about the lyrics. He said that he is consistently amazed when re-listening to their songs, that he reaches newfound insights each time he sits with the lyric book and follows along. He called them "the most Christian band I know." Coming from the teaching pastor at the church I attended frequently, this is something, and equally so because I very highly respect Trevor's taste in music.

So after getting back from the show, and especially after getting their new album, which is much, much more easily palatable than their older stuff, I started listening to them more. And then a lot more. When I found that I really, really enjoyed their new album, it somehow gave me license to like their older stuff too. Except for their first one (can't get over the screaming, sorry) their last three albums are now at the top of my frequent listening list. I really, really enjoy mewithoutYou's stuff. And now, after having listened to their albums over and over, something curious has been happening.

"I was a teenage propagandist"


I've been, for a long time, wanting to write about what could be called my "journey of faith." I haven't really written about God, Christianity, or my take on "faith" in a quite a long time - it used to be a regular topic of mine for musing - because so much has changed, and it's so important to me, and to write it down would make things finalized in some fundamental way, but nothing is finalized by any means. I've been in a continuous state of flux for the last two years or so in terms of "faith." I just realized how appropriate it is that I should put the word "faith" in quotations, because it's really a meaningless word - in the sense that it has so many meanings to so many people that it cannot stand alone and have meaning, and needs some sort of explanation in order to establish context and, thus, meaning.

I wonder now whether a few of years ago I might have written "journey to faith," and I wonder whether six-to-twelve months ago whether I would have written "journey away from faith." I don't at present think either of those is accurate. Much of this was prompted by two very similar conversations I've had recently with two entirely different people about this topic - and my difficulty in having said conversations. Both were Christians, but one a sixty-something conservative friend's mother, and one a twenty-something very liberal very good friend of mine. The first was more difficult, but in both cases I didn't know how to describe my "relationship with God" (or whether I believe I have one), or even describe who I believe God is or whether I believe he or she exists, or really say anything substantial (or coherent) about how I view "faith."

I will make a statement here, which will hopefully serve to end these introductory remarks, assuage any non-Christians reading this, and hopefully not turn away any Christians reading it: I am not a Christian. At least, I don't think I am. I once was. I once knew things wholeheartedly - but I don't know if I really know anything anymore. That's sort of the point. This story is much more nuanced (and I believe that every human being's story is much more nuanced) than "coming to the faith" or "getting to know Jesus" or "falling away from the faith" or "becoming an atheist" or whatever. Maybe no one will want to read it. I'm sort of writing for myself, after all. But maybe it's interesting enough for you, reader, to read on.

The Teenage Propagandist

I grew up in a sort-of Christian home. By "sort-of," I mean it was like the majority of American families in that Christianity was presupposed but not overtly practiced - we said Grace at mealtimes, we went to church on Christmas and Easter and sporadically throughout the year. Once in a while my dad would be hit with a moderate form of religious fervor and would sit us down and read Bible stories to us from a Children's Bible stories book, probably the "Children's Book of Virtues," which I remember clearly, and which was a more secular moral primer for children. We also surely had more Bible-based childrens' books around the house.

My father also had some adult Christian books laying about the house, from authors such as Charles Swindoll and C.S. Lewis, which I assume he read at least once. My father was quite the voracious reader, and as I grew I followed in his footsteps (and eventually became an English major!) and ended up reading almost everything in the house, including these books. We never really had any overt Christian training; my father didn't force anything like Sunday School upon us (with any regularity, at least; I do remember some Sunday School in my childhood). Christianity was presumed the norm, but wasn't thrust upon us in any indoctrinating way by my parents. The indoctrination I later put upon myself.

"Food Stamps, Pride"

A few weeks ago, I was driving to my friend Nick's wedding with another friend, Mike. We were catching up (it had been many months since we'd seen each other) and one of the things we commiserated about was our difficulty in finding jobs and relative broke-ness. I mentioned that I had recently gotten accepted into the food stamps program (startlingly easy in Oregon) and he said something like, when he was an unemployed, recent graduate, he had considered doing the same thing - but pride, or something like it, had kept him from applying.

I was listening to NPR the other day and heard a teaser for a show on the next morning's program about people who are on food stamps, many of whom had never in their lives thought they would need government assistance. A lady quoted said something like, "I make sure to dress well when I go to the supermarket so that I don't seem like the kind of person who needs food stamps..." I was interested. I hadn't thought too much about it, but the next time I went to the grocery store I felt myself eyeing the floor as I handed the cashier my EBT card (the "official name," they aren't stamps after all), and wondering what the other people in line thought of me using it. I realized I have almost the opposite reaction - I look too wealthy to be on food stamps; do the other people in line think I'm cheating the system in some way? Do they think I don't deserve it? I almost want to dress worse when I go to the store, to avoid that kind of judgment. But all three of these reactions (not getting EBT in the first place, wanting to look like you are above food stamps, wanting to look like you deserve them) all stem from the same source: pride.


Derek said something to me tonight on Twitter about how we're both living our big city lives and yet we end up sitting home alone on Friday and Saturday nights watching television. He doesn't really count; it's the first time he's been single in... five years or so, and I guess I don't really count because I'm just passing time until I move to Seattle and this long-distance relationship thing ends.

Speaking of television, though, I was at the Mississippi Ave. Street Festival today and one booth had tons of DVDs for only $5. They also had TV Show DVDs for incredibly cheap - seasons 1 and 2 of Weeds, for example, for only $15; I think they had Grey's Anatomy, they had a few South Parks, the first season of LOST - if I wasn't 100% broke I might have picked one up.

Here's something else I've been thinking about. What's the deal with love and relationships? I know it's a super-unique blog post topic, but I just realized something about watching three seasons or so of a TV show in a matter of weeks - people in TV shows get in relationships, and then the relationships end. Ugly Betty is what I just finished watching, so I'll use it as an example - Betty falls in love with Henry in season 1, and then is on and off with him in season 2, and falls in love with Gio, and then that ends, and then she falls in love with Matt and then on the season finale Matt breaks up with her. There's a lot of love and lot of breakups. But usually the relationships in TV shows are spread out over months. I witnessed Matt and Betty's entire relationship in a matter of days. It just makes it all seem so futile. I guess it's kind of getting me down. It's making me miss Lisa.

People on TV shows always talk about the relationships "working out," or about "the future," but you know from the start that they aren't going to get married, ever. Unless it's the series finale, Betty is never going to get married. It would completely alter the fabric of the show. Think about Sex and the City - the whole show is based around her relationships, and they all have to fail. You kind of root for them to work out, especially when it's a cool guy (Like Aidan... yes, I like that show). But like I was saying before, she can't get married unless it's the last episode (or the film, which I didn't actually see, but I assume she married Big and ended up "happily ever after"). It's like all TV relationships are doomed from the start. Depressing, right?

Anyway, I've been feeling really lethargic lately; I stay up late watching television and sleep in and waste time reading comics or watching YouTube or surfing Digg. And sometimes I'll go out, like today. But I feel like for the last few months I've just been waiting for the 4th of July to be over because then Lisa was going to be here. And now she isn't. And there are perfectly legitimate reasons for her not to be, and I understand, but it still sucks. I didn't realize that that was what I was waiting for. She said something that made me think, why did I move to Portland if I wanted to be with her so bad? Why didn't I move to Plano for a little while?

But I had to take a risk, and it sort of paid off. I feel like I've taken a lot of risks for this relationship. I have never really known what was going to happen or what the future would hold. I never worried about money and it's gotten me in some bad spots but it's given me some incredible times as well. I guess I feel that there should be more risk-taking in the world. Figure out the details later, you know? Get into debt for a little bit if it means being with the people you love for a little bit. If you believe in God or the Universe or Love or something then it will all eventually work out. Plus, we are of the lucky few who have safety nets in that our parents own homes and have enough income that we can always move home and pick up the pieces if our big risks end up breaking us down.

But what I really meant to say is that, after tonight, it's final that I will not be seeing Lisa until mid-to-late August. So waiting is over. I watched my TV shows; Ugly Betty, 30 Rock, Arrested Development - I don't have those to occupy my time anymore. I have some work I can do, I have a million cool events I can go to, I have some new friends I can hang out with. I have a guitar. And I have all the time in the world to WRITE. Why am I not writing in this every day? Why am I not writing stories, and songs, and ideas for screenplays, and essays? Is that not what I want to do with my life? Am I not a writing major? Well, as Lloyd Dobler would say, "My assault on the world begins now."


I've been doing a lot of thinking. I've had a lot of time, being unemployed; what time I don't spend catching up on all the television I've missed out on for the last few years I spend thinking.

I've been wondering about the life I'm leading, I guess - being out on my own. I'm here, basically alone in Portland. Derek asked me the other night whether I get lonely, and the answer is yes. Well, sort of. I don't really get lonely. I don't get homesick. I've learned that I don't really get that emotional at all.

Talking to Lisa especially, but to Rob and Derek and Ben, about family has got me thinking. And watching Arrested Development, where "family first" is the mantra of that hyper-disfunctional family. But it seems like everyone my age has a sort of bond, a connection, that must be severed, usually with difficulty, for them to make the jump to moving out and living their own lives apart from their family. I don't really have that.

I don't know if it's a result of having divorced parents, and living in so many different places, or the strange family dynamics that have presented themselves as a result of that, but I never had a hard time imagining myself moving far away from my family and starting my own life. I had friends in college who talked to, if did not visit, their families very regularly. And Lisa surely has a difficult time with the decision to move away (though her reasons are more complicated). I was struck when Ben, of all people, told me that it was difficult for him to live far from his family.

I've always thought I was a pretty emotional person. Intuitive. Introspective. But in the last year or so I've noticed that I have a marked lack of emotion about almost everything. I always thought it was cool-headedness, or something, but it seems like it's more than that. It seems like I just don't really care, and that bothers me tremendously.

Why isn't it difficult for me to be far away from my family? To contact them only when it's necessary? Maybe it's normal for young adults to want to strike out on their own, but... it seems like everyone my age at least has a difficult time with it, even if they end up at the same conclusions that I do. My family aren't bad people. They've supported me in everything. They are loving and caring and affectionate. I love them. So what's the deal?

I've always known that I'm the kind of person that would lock up feelings and try to be calm and collected about things, but I never thought it was a lack of emotionality. I'm starting to think that it is. I don't know.

July '09 Photos

Last weekend I witnessed something so beautiful - two of my good friends getting married, to each other! I took photos and they came out BAD, BAD, BAD. Here are a couple (out of 100) that aren't TERRIBLE:







They are a little bit out of order... but you get the idea. Goodness, it was so beautiful. I want to get married.

Pride and Such

I was doing really well at posting in here regularly... I must apologize, all of my faithful readers, for the suspense. I'm doing well. I'll try to do a recap to bring us up to speed. Also, I have a terrible memory so we'll see if this even works.

Tuesday, June 9th
I went by Sisters of the Road and dropped off my resume and cover letter. Unfortunately, the lady who took it (who is hiring, who I'd be working under) didn't really want to talk or anything. Maybe she was busy? So I just dropped off my stuff and left. :T And then I went to go get tickets to Greg Laswell for next week! And then I realized I was hungry, and I went back to Sisters for lunch. On the way back (like 30 minutes later) I passed by the same lady... and said an awkward greeting... I wonder what she was thinking. What's this guy up to? He came and left... and then came back later... is he a stalker, a weirdo, or what? You know? Bleh. But the food was excellent and I met Sarge and Arthur. And then I left, and went and did some other stuff that I don't remember at present. :(

Wednesday, June 10th
I had a busy day today as well. I drove all around town - I went and dropped of a resume at a little coffee shop that's hiring, and I drove by the Doug Fir to see if they were selling Bat for Lashes tickets (sold out! But they sell some at the door so I'm going to go try that), I went to a garage sale way out in Troutdale and got a desk and some storage shelving stuff, I drove down to Lake Oswego and looked at a bicycle (no good), and I think I did even more. It might have been this day or the day before that I talked to Jesse and he said he's going to come to the BFL show! So that's cool. I have a new friend. I also made contact with Charles at NWeSOURCE (please don't look up their website) as a potential job opportunity, and with Ifara, Inc., an AIDS awareness/advocacy organization that I might be volunteering with to help them write grants.

Thursday, June 11th.
Thursday! Was a big day. I went in the morning and bought a bicycle! I LOVE IT, here are crappy cell phone photos:

Yessss... I'm fuzzy here about the timing, but I also met with Fred at Ifara, Inc., and am going to help them out for free, and with NWeSOURCE, and I'm going to be helping them out FOR PAY! That's right, I got a job. It's temporary, and piece-by-piece, meaning not steady, but I'm writing and doing a little layout design which is cool.

Then that night I rode my bike to the Doug Fir and waited in line and got tickets to BFL! I also met Jesse there, who is this awesome dude I met at a couchsurfer meet-up the weekend prior. He is a graphic designer, runner, and all-around cool dude. Since we got there about 6:30 and the show didn't start until 9:30, we had about 3 hours to kill, and we had only met once. Luckily, we are both talkative, and we had a ton in common so it was cool! I think we're going to go running next week. Sweet.

Then there was Bat for Lashes... such an AMAZING show. Unfortunately, some WTF band called Hecuba was before them, and they were interesting to say the least. Oh gosh. But BFL was so incredible, and I was literally a foot away from Natasha Kahn, because I stood on the edge of the stage as to not block too many people, and she happened to set her keyboard up right on the edge, right in front of me!

Photo from the Merc, where there are more and a write-up as well.

I was only able to get this crappy phone photo (I forgot my real camera), but you see how close I was:

Wow. It's been too long since I've been to a great concert. I'm tired and I need to get to other things, so I'll finish the wrap-up later tonight or tomorrow.

Who knows what I did on Friday, June 12.

Saturday, June 13th, and Sunday, June 14th have been the Pride Festival! I helped IFARA run a booth where they got people to film safer sex messages for a PSA.
I think one of those days was the day I planted my little garden! If you want to see it, and some of the process, I filmed it and a little tour of my house in a YouTube video for my girlfriend. If anyone that's reading this wants to watch, then they can find the video here; remember that it was filmed for my girlfriend so... skip the sentimental parts if that's not what you want to see, I guess.

Monday, June 15th through Thursday, June 18th are kind of a blur. Applying for jobs, bumming around the house, riding my bike. On Tuesday, I think, I went over to Jesse's for dinner and met his girlfriend, who is super nice (they're both super nice, actually) and then we went for a little jog and talked about stuff. And we passed by the Skate Church, which was weird. But the skatepark looked awesome; I think I might check it out next month...

This upcoming weekend is the beginning of PedalPalooza!

Does Portland have a festival every freaking weekend? I can't go, though; I'm flying back to SoCal to go to Nick and Sheena's wedding. I am pretty psyched for that. But PedalPalooza goes for a few weeks, so... I don't know. Should I do the naked bike ride? Or one of the other 328974 biking-related events? We'll see.

Tomorrow I go to see Greg Laswell! Exciting! I feel like I shouldn't have bought that ticket, though; I still don't have any money. Oh, did I say that I applied for, and received, food stamps the other day? They decided to give me the full amount (about $200), which is probably more than I need. Anyways, I do need it; my income right now is about $400-600 a month, and my rent is $450. So, let's hope I get a real job, and then I won't have to be on food stamps anymore, OK? Yay!

I live at 4221 NE 77th AVE, PORTLAND, OR

So I chose to live with Larry. Except, Larry doesn't live there, he owns and rents the place but lives elsewhere. So I live with some other dudes. Weird, middle-aged dudes. Most of them are really mellow and keep to themselves, so that's cool. But Sal is really friendly and we talked a little bit. He seems like a really wise man. He moved here from Libya 32 years ago and I think has a lot of experience and wisdom. We'll see. Everyone in Portland is weird, and that is awesome. I love weird people. I think that might not have been expressed enough in my last post. I love how everyone is themself here. There aren't seventeen layers of pretension like most of the people I met in LA. People don't really seem to care about what you think of them... it's great.

We went to a couchsurfing meetup this afternoon and I brought some fruit I had just purchased at a roadside stand (it was a potluck). But then I left it all there! I wanted to bring home at least a little. And I made a friend! So that's cool.

Did I mention that we saw The Hangover the other night? It was hilarious. I recommend seeing it. Not the funniest movie ever, and I surely have critiques. But quite good.

Bat for Lashes is playing at this little club on Thursday. And Greg Laswell is playing next week. I think BFL is sold out, though. Tickets are going for $100 on craiglist? They were originally $10. Hopefully I can buy some at the door, I don't know.

Also, this is a strange, convoluted post, but I like today's Cat and Girl (click to enlarge):

That is all.

Elliott Writes: "Enough"

I wrote this a while back, and then I revised it a few weeks ago when I sent it as a writing sample for a job I applied for. I think I like it a bit less now, but it's recent writing!

A mentor of mine has a t-shirt that reads, “The opposite of poverty isn’t wealth… it’s enough.” I often wonder about this enigmatic message; its simplicity, its hope. But one realizes that the phrase is only superficially simple. What does “enough” really even mean? And how do we get there?

This past summer I spent six weeks volunteering in a small town in Ghana, western Africa, where poverty wasn’t just downtown, or on a news special, or in my non-profit class, but was everyday life for nearly everyone I met. I remember seeing a poster for sale on the street that featured a naked, emaciated young boy, arms outstretched toward the sky, with an imploring look on his face and tears in his eyes. Above him were the words, “God, you promised us our daily bread; may we have it now?”

And I wondered about the concept of “daily bread,” and about greed, and about the United States, and about Africa, and about wealth and about “enough.”

On our last day in the country, we spent the night at a friend of a friend’s house in Accra, the airport city. But “house” is a inaccurate, because this was a three-story mansion, even by American standards; complete with a servant/doorman, a neatly trimmed garden, and, most unbelievably, both air conditioning and running water.
And spending the night in a mansion was difficult, after six weeks in regular Ghanaian homes; we looked out over the balcony of the third story of this benevolent woman’s home and as the sun set watched a couple across the street give their daughter a bath in a bucket of soapy water, on what could be called the “front porch” of their grimy, dilapidated shack.