The colors of change in the time of leavings

Autumn lends itself to metaphors of change because it plays itself out so brilliantly. Here in northwestern Pennsylvania, for instance, the hillsides boil with color. The change metaphor seems so common for this time of year—although it holds true for any season—but I could never reduce autumn to a cliché.

My season of leavings continues, and that’s what makes autumn’s change so apparent this year. Here I sit on the cusp of October, at the height of autumn’s splendor, yet all I can hear through the cacophony of color are the quietly creaking branches of bare trees in late November, glazed by a freezing rain that heralds the onset of winter. The thought leaves me forlorn. Continue reading

See you in St. Louis

Thursday morning, Julie and I took our trip West for a turn South. With Einstein Bros breakfast sandwiches in hand, we got an early start out of Chicago and headed toward St. Louis, Missouri.

We spent almost two days exploring St. Louis, but not without first making a stop in Illinois’ capital city of Springfield. Three hours and acres of open land Southwest of Chicago, we parked Julie’s car near the state capitol building and went for a walk. Continue reading

You've impressed me, Ohio

I have driven Interstate 90 between Rochester, New York and Chicago, Illinois more times than I can count. Before Tuesday, however, I had only been a tourist along this route once during a family road trip to Milwaukee, Wisconsin.

This week, my sister, Julie, and I decided to tour this land while kicking off our road trip South. What I learned? Ohio impressed me.

Our day included a 7:00am departure from North Chili, New York and a 10:00pm dinner at a local Notre Dame bar called “Brothers.” By the time Julie and I pulled into South Bend, Indiana, we ate what could have been the most delicious veggie burger and chips I have ever devoured. Continue reading

Nota Bene #122: OWStanding

“When I lie on the beach there naked, which I do sometimes, and I feel the wind coming over me and I see the stars up above and I am looking into this very deep, indescribable night, it is something that escapes my vocabulary to describe. Then I think: ‘God, I have no importance. Whatever I do or don’t do, or what anybody does, is not more important than the grains of sand that I am lying on, or the coconut that I am using for my pillow.'” Who said it? Continue reading

Talk of the plaza

Two main topics consume the conversations of Washington, D.C.’s Freedom Plaza today. Whether through announcements, group assemblies or personal chatter, most cannot help but consider two large issues: moving forward from an unsuccessful protest at the Smithsonian’s National Air and Space Museum and action plans after midnight.

Yesterday afternoon marked the weekend’s largest October2011 protest march through Washington, which ended with an attempted entry into the National Air and Space Museum. Though security guards and pepper spray stopped demonstrators, the mission aimed to highlight the Museum’s drone exhibit and its glorification of military executions at a public institution. Continue reading

Occupy and unite

It’s a beautiful Saturday morning on Freedom Plaza. Colorful signs, banners and tents fill the square as dedicated campers emerge from sleeping bags and prepare for another day advocating for change. I sit at our “base camp” with a group of social workers from Tulane University. Many have come to know us as the “Mardi Gras crowd.”

This is my first protest, but that’s not the case for many participating in October2011. We have met activists from places like Florida, Wisconsin, California Arizona, and New York. As more activist groups form in cities nationwide, we begin uniting through one single word: Occupy. Continue reading

Preparing our stand against "The Machine"

Hope and excitement filled the room today as our group of nine Tulane students, staff and faculty members made final preparations for October2011. We are two days away. Our ultimate mission: change.

We are on the brink of what reporters have begun to call “American Autumn.” With Taking Back Wall Street now three weeks strong and local rallies sprouting up in cities nationwide, we cannot help but wonder what this could mean for our weekend in Washington, D.C. Whatever it is, we are ready. Continue reading

October2011 protest, one week and counting

“October 2011 is the 10th anniversary of the invasion of Afghanistan and the beginning of the 2012 federal austerity budget. It is time to light the spark that sets off a true democratic, nonviolent transition to a world in which people are freed to create just and sustainable solutions.”

These words describe the mission behind a “Human Needs, Not Corporate Greed” protest beginning October 6th in Washington, D.C.’s Freedom Plaza. One week from today, I will be participating in this protest with a small group of students and faculty from Tulane’s School of Social Work.

I have joined several committees and coalition meetings since starting my Master’s program one month ago, but this will be my first “hands-on” experience as a social worker in training. While my knowledge of protests until now has involved little more than taking pictures from the sidelines, I feel both fortunate and excited about being involved in this experience. Continue reading

And we're off…

It’s official. I no longer live in Chicago. I currently don’t live anywhere, actually. For the next week, I will be homeless, bouncing around from couches to hotels to spare bedrooms. Last night, I even slept on couch cushions (minus the couch) on the floor of my own empty Chicago apartment. As it turns out, moving sometimes brings unexpected twists to set plans.

Today, my brother, Dan, and I set off for our road trip south from Chicago to New Orleans. Since neither of us have seen any land between the two cities before, we decided to make my city-to-city move an adventure. And what an adventure it has already been.

In the past two days, I have learned that my life fits on a 12-foot Penske truck, condo building rules annoy me and my cat does not like other cats…particularly other male cats named Sparkle.

Continue reading

Nota Bene #113: Seth's Near-Death

“Ordinary life is pretty complex stuff.” Who said it? Continue reading

Nota Bene #107: Zzzzzzzzzzzzz

“I am ready to meet my Maker. Whether my Maker is prepared for the great ordeal of meeting me is another matter.” Who said it? Continue reading

Nota Bene #99: Heed the Peace Gnome

“You just pick up a chord, go twang, and you’ve got music.” Who said it? Continue reading

Nota Bene #97: toDwI'ma' qoS yItIvqu'!

“To be truly free, and truly to appreciate its freedom, a society must be literate.” Continue reading

Nota Bene #96: Saturn's Hexagon and the Bulava Spiral

“Clothes make the man. Naked people have little or no influence on society.” Continue reading

Reality is making us sick, and fantasy can't cure us

You’re honey child to a swarm of bees
Gonna blow right through you like a breeze
Give me one last dance
Well slide down the surface of things

You’re the real thing
Yeah the real thing
You’re the real thing
Even better than the real thing

– U2

Fantasy stories, myths, legends, tall tales, fairy tales, horror, all these have been with us for a very long time. Science fiction, as well, has been with us since Mary Shelley found herself in a bet with Lord Byron about the possibility of writing a new kind of horror, one not grounded in the gothic.* So the presence in our popular culture of stories based in unreality of one form or another is certainly nothing new.

It seems to me that there’s been a lot more of it lately, though. Continue reading

Republicans are "rebranding": round up the usual suspects

You have to love the headline: GOP set to launch rebranding effort

WASHINGTON (CNN) – Coming soon to a battleground state near you: a new effort to revive the image of the Republican Party and to counter President Obama’s characterization of Republicans as “the party of ‘no.'”

CNN has learned that the new initiative, called the National Council for a New America, will be announced Thursday.

It will involve an outreach by an interesting mix of GOP officials, ranging from 2008 Republican presidential nominee John McCain to Jeb Bush, the former Florida governor and the younger brother of the man many Republicans blame for the party’s battered brand: former President George W. Bush. Continue reading

Got change?

The buzzing topic of conversation throughout liberal America appears to be just how much change the new president brings to the table.  His stalwart defenders rally to his side on comment threads, regularly regurgitating the stock phrases that appear in emails from campaign headquarters, er, the White House.  One need not look very far to find a statement like, “He’s our President and we have to stand behind him.”  That type of statement is a little too close to Bushbottery for me, but i’ve come to understand that it is, in fact, nothing of the sort because Bush was evil and Obama is good.  I won’t argue the former, but it is far too early to make the call on the latter.

Continue reading