“The Narrative”

The Narrative..

What is “the narrative.”…or should that be “The Narrative?”

I hear this phrase used a lot, this concept talked about a lot, as if it is an agreed upon notion, an agreed way to look at the world and understand it. Now, me and this phrase were never formally introduced. I never use it. It struck me in a recent conversation with a friend, where he referenced it, that it sounded a lot like a part of a religion. Apparently, the narrative is the way things are or ought to be, the correct moral agenda for the time, the approved human social developmental moment. It is articulated by experts who we should just accept, honor, and follow. This I would add is in contrast with that other term you may have heard of, the Zeitgeist, the spirit of the times. The Zeitgeist is not the agenda of experts and social engineers, and reflects better the notion of the human spirit and it’s potential manifesting in a certain way in a certain time..it’s more open to interaction and commentary by common folk, it’s less contrived, more accessible, more democratic even.

“The Narrative” sounds a lot like it is trying to copy something like moral laws or codes articulated by priests and ministers, experts in a field, people of a certain status, that I would say is not questioned enough, about how we should live our lives. I propose that thinking about current events from the perspective of “the narrative” is a step backwards. Last time I checked, at least in traditional Protestant and Catholic churches in the USA, the tendency of conversation was more towards questioning dogma, of speaking in the vernacular, and trying to understand different perspectives, and to be more independent minded, etc. I could be wrong, and please correct me if so. It’s been some time since I’ve been an active member of a church, so it may have changed.

Anyways, there is something disturbingly dogmatic, authoritarian, un-American, about this idea of “the narrative.” It’s like some great decree everyone must abide by or be socially ostracized (may I remind you that the worst traditional punishment for people was not death, but exile.). Big brother is watching!! The golden rule has been replaced by strict adherence to the current Narrative and use of approved language, which is always changing just to keep you on your toes and taking your anti-depressants. What a strange time we live in. Is it just me? What do you see and here out there?


Words of power

Here is a thought I had the other day: “Some people who are trying to use power will refuse to explain the meaning of the words and use a lot of specialty words and abbreviations. Then if you don’t know the meaning of this code, they will see you as not part of their in-group and therefore not cool or safe or allowed.”

This is a confusing subject and I’m sure many other people know much more about it than I do. A lot of times it depends on context. When I am grumpy sometimes I will resist explaining myself – but I usually do – you just have to deal with me dealing with my mood, which is often entertaining as I alchemize my bad moods through humor or intellectualizing or a combo of both.  Sometimes a person may be in a hurry and have no time or energy to teach, even though they might want to.  Some things we do because that is who we are, other things we do because of the circumstances we are tied to…

my heart

It is not something my mind knows, but something my heart knows, and drags my mind into in utter confusion, something my heart drags my mind into for rest, for peace….this center of my desire, this sadness that I see in the eyes of everyone I’ve loved, everything I’ve ever loved every joy in my life, at the very center is this pain, this wound, this emotion, this depth, not of despair, but the lifeforce of my beating heart, this strong strong sadness and yearning to comfort and be close…..what is it…..I heard it in Depeche mode’s song, “enjoy the silence,” I felt it in the presence of a new friend, I think of it when I think of all my ex girlfriends and girls I wish were ex girlfriends, when I think of Grandpa, when I think of Mom and Dad, I felt it day in and day out towards a crush in elementary school, labeling it as love, yearning, because she looked like me but was a girl…..it is the strongest feeling I ever feel, it defines me, and I wait for it and wait on it day in and day out…I beg to know what it is and let go of everything, work myself ragged, then give up the fruit of my labor, there is nothing else…what is it? Do I want to know, or do I just let myself feel it now and again, when the stars align, and let time and life reveal itself to me or not?

It is the feeling I have found in certain music that has touched me,…..that desire to be together….Yoga….

It is homesickness, the desire to smell the grass of home, but also the feeling that smelling the grass actually brings, the homesickness I felt even while at home, even with the closest people in my life…..I desire to be close, so I can feel that sweet bitter desire of actually being close, that tragic sadness that I tried to tell someone once was my love for her – described in a Spanish piece of music I played once – the work of love, living in this pain, loving it, healing it for each other and being home….there is nothing I desire more, and I would give everything for it….

oh god how I miss her, how I miss her, how I miss all of my loves….and that can never change, for there is nothing more precious…..is this why I pushed myself away from her, because I was about to get over that hump, about to enter something new, to get past this melancholy and I just would not have it, could not, I loved this feeling too much, and sank into it until it was all I knew, and I felt pain greater than I could possibly believe I could feel, and survived…it is still there though, deep inside, and I both fear and love it.

St. Patty’s at Cafe Coco.

How does a person live a transformative life, a life in process and development, a growing life? This is something friends of mine and I have been discussing quite a bit over the last week, although we are certainly not alone. The subject is so vast and all encompassing that this space of expression right here cannot answer that question. I don’t have an answer, and I’m not sure anyone else does either. We have attempts at an answer. Sitting here writing this is one such attempt in the form of an activity, a process.

Creating, sharing, interacting on a level of ideas is something that gives me happiness, that gives meaning to this space of time called my life. I’ve done this in so many forms. The forms that stick out in my mind are music, writing, legos, fort building, snow fort building, cooking, playing, tai chi. There are many others…maybe I can explore this further, expand on this tangent. My Music Theory professor Dr. Feldman gave us exhaustive essay projects at the end of each semester. They were both painful and wonderful as I typed and typed and edited and edited until there was nothing left to say about all the material we covered that semester. My fingers hurt right now as I type, and I’m only on the second paragraph – this would explain why I don’t type more than I do, and why I should type more – I need to condition my hands!

Over the last couple years I’ve gotten pretty good at jotting down ideas that sprout up into my mind, but resist like the plague the work of rereading, reworking, developing, expressing, and ultimately integrating these ideas into my life, using them to transform myself, inform myself, grow. All these little spurts of ideas remind me of little spurts of musical ideas that I get really enthusiastic about for a moment, but again don’t take the next step of working with, hold myself back, distract myself, procrastinate, and wonder why I don’t build confidence. How can I have confidence if I don’t put in the time and effort? I used to do this automatically, motivated by school, parents, competitiveness, etc, then my body just broke from my obsessive effort and for the last 5 years I have been trying to put my Humpty Dumpty self back together again. It’s hard to put in time and effort when you only have enough energy to take care of the bare essentials of continuing to exist. This has been changing and is picking up some momentum.

Just sitting here focusing like this, I suddenly find myself happy, recognizing myself again, it’s pleasant….It is a beautiful day outside, the nicest weather I’ve felt so far this year, a light breeze, 70’s and partially cloudy, people laughing and smiling getting ready for St. Patrick’s day carousing pre-gaming at the coffee shop. I’m enjoying the process of relaxing into this place, letting my mind move…..


For all the recent press on Nashville’s growing status as an “it” city, as “Nowville”, etc, there is one thing that the articles might be missing. In fact I am sure there are many things these articles are missing. They don’t tend to be complex reflections of the complex reality of Nashville, but are marketing tools, trying to help boost Nashville’s status. They remind me of what often bothers me about other people when I interact with them – overconfidence and a lack of ease and slowness for proper introspection.

The one thing that these articles are missing can be best summarized in one word…..”Nastyville.”

This is a term coined by the illustrious coffee drinker and local public intellectual, Maurice Kuttab. Many have of course heard about East Nasty, but few realize that the city itself on a whole has some nasty characteristics that are not brought up nearly often enough. I for one just don’t have the energy to exude (or ooze) enough positivity to keep my awareness of this nastiness at bay! How bout a bit of airing of grievances?

Grievance no.1 – Passive aggression. it is rampant, everywhere, it drives me totally bonkers.

Grievance no.2 – The sweet smell of the sewer as it fills the air outside of Fido in Hillsboro Village. Is there some strange addictive substance wafting out of that sewer? I swear it is addictive! I think it also makes me hungry. This is quite a conundrum for me, as I can’t indulge in this delicious setting to eat and hang out due to being banned, for of all things, playing the violin. Although it is still rather unclear to me why….I asked for clarification and the owner did not offer any.

Grievance no.3: No city wide composting! If we are serious about being sustainable and environmentally friendly as a city we should have city wide mandated compost pickup like San Francisco. That would be freaking awesome.

Grievance no. 4: Song Writer’s nights. I really don’t want to listen to most of the songwriters I hear at these things. Wouldn’t you go out more if you were being Serenaded by say, a String Quartet rather than what you hear at a song writer’s night? I just get really bored at people singing and playing guitar.  There are occasional glimmers of originality, but I’m not sure they make up for it. Furthermore, since most of these events are low or no cost for bars and restaurants, no one wants to pay musicians to play at their establishments, and what is considered music by patrons and owners is really limited.

Grievance no.5:  Allergens.  Yes Nashville is one of the most allergen filled cities in the world.  We literally live in a bowl full of all sorts of things that keep us constantly plugged up.

Grievance no.6: Weather: Although warmer than my hometown of Buffalo, NY, Nashville has huge and quick fluctuations of weather to a degree that if you live here there is a definite Bi-Polar aspect to your bodies personality (now add that onto passive aggression and that alone creates a lot of nastiness.).

Grievance no.7:  Keeping up appearances and being nice.  The most obvious example is the phrase, “oh isn’t that sweet,” or something like that, hiding your seething hatred behind words of cloying damp niceness.

Grievance no. 8: Inept service staff…..all those songwriters singing at the songwriters nights, well they are the service staff for the food industry in this city…and their artistic ego’s are sometimes too much work to deal with!  But than I am sure I can be a lot of work to deal with as well!

Crock-pot weekly! What’s cooking good looking?

Every week I make one or two crock-pots full of a soup that I eat for breakfast and lunch. It is never quite the same. This morning after eating a bowl of this stuff with some raw broccoli, a hard boiled egg, and a cup of green tea, I just got really excited and wanted to share what I threw in the pot this morning. My breakfast was just so delicious and satisfying to my stomach that perhaps others might want to try this!

So here we go! Today’s Crock-pot contents: a couple cups of lentils and split peas, chopped Onion, Fennel, carrots, radishes, and cabbage, a few pieces of chopped up stew beef, Hungarian Paprika, Pepper, Himalayan salt, and finally, doused with the broth I have been cooking in the Crock-pot for the last 24 hours, made from the carcass of the two Cornish hen’s I ate this past week, a chopped onion, water, salt and pepper.

I’ll let this cook until I go to bed tonight. I finished this creation somewhere around 10:15-10:30, so that should give it a whole 11 or 12 hours to cook on low making the house smell even more delicious than the broth by itself made it smell! That’s all for now! Let me know if you want to try it and if you have questions! Post your creations in the comments! I’m always looking for more ideas!

Cheese of the Week!!

Blue Stilton CheeseYes, my choice of cheese this week at Trader Joe’s is the fantastic English made Blue Stilton Cheese. I’ve had a number of blue cheeses lately and I am really beginning to enjoy the strange pungent taste. The most interesting fact I found out in a very superficial online look-about was that apparently large percentages of people who eat some of this cheese before bedtime have odd and vivid dreams. I’m definitely trying this out!!! Creepy. More perfunctory info can be found here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Stilton_cheese#Manufacture_and_PDO_status