Sensory overload.

The past week or so has been rife with excellent yet over-stimulating media.  Last night Benjamin and I went to see Enter the Void at the St. Anthony Main Theatre, a “psychedelic melodrama” by somewhat controversial French director Gaspar Noe.  For a bit of context, his previous film Irreversible (which I have not seen and likely will never do so) is said to have one of the most disturbing rape scenes in cinematic history.  Enter the Void was beautiful and terrifying at once.  I was nauseated for the first 45 minutes solid, and left the film with a headache.  Worth seeing for certain, for the unique intensity if nothing else, but absolutely one of those movies I never need to see again.  Much like Requiem for a Dream, in fact.

Earlier this week I saw the much more-traditional cinema-goer-friendly Inception.  Not nearly as neon-drugs-motion-craziness as Enter the Void, but somewhat of a mind***k nonetheless.  My dreams after both viewings were exhausting, to say the least.

On top of the two films I have been reading The Vagrants, a superb historical fiction novel set in late 1970s China.  The details are astounding, the characterization is excellent, but the novel is emotionally depressing.  The plot centers around an execution of a young revolutionary woman who (minor spoiler alert) has her kidneys removed while she is still alive in order to complete a successful transplant for a high ranking political official.  The life of nearly all of the characters is threadbare and meager, a government-controlled, poverty-stricken existence.

So I’m taking a break.  A week, a month, I don’t know how long, but I’m taking a break from desolation, from over-stimulation, from intentionally distressing myself via media to no particularly fruitful outcome.  This does not mean I will be viewing solely romantic comedies and reading heinous ‘chick lit’ by any means.  It does mean I will pursue solutions, hope, joy, and true abundance, not only in my own life but in the lives of those in the media I interact with.  At least for the time being.

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NaNoWriMo 2010

I thought about doing it last year.  Or was it the year before?  But this cycle, I’m committed.  To writing 50,000 words of something resembling a novel within one month as part of National Novel Writing Month.  Because I asked for a reason to write and via recommendations from my mother and a friend, this jumped into my lap.  It shall be goofy.  I will explore.  I will avoid second guessing myself as much as possible.

I’ve already had a request to include sci-fi elements, dragons in particular, and would love to include other interesting pieces- lines of dialogue, character quirks, themes, etc.  So suggest away!  Maybe I’ll even name a character after you.

It doesn’t hurt that the logo is marvelous as well.

~Lauren

2010 Practices to Enact.

Now that we’re into the final quarter of 2010, I figure it’s time to review my resolutions (I called them ‘practices to enact’ in the interest of focusing on growth rather than potential for failure) for the year that I’ve been carting around in my re-purposed pizza box folder.  Not to berate myself for neglecting my original goals, but to reimagine what I might focus on for the remainder of the year.

*do more at Common Ground (one extra event per month)
This went by the wayside almost entirely.  Between the end of my LVC year and then moving into a new house/job I not only did not do more at Common Ground Mediation Center, I pretty much stopped going to meditation altogether.  But I have been doing a bit of yoga nearly every morning, and this form of ‘moving meditation’ helps me center myself at the start of the day.

*read a book a week, re: expanding my mind a la Bob Aldrich
This has probably been done, and then some, and deepened further by my intentional year of reading works written by NSWM (to which I have since added ‘able-bodied’).  Reading has always been and continues to be like breathing- I cannot help but do it.  Right now I’m in the midst of some lovely travel writing entitled River Horse.

*be present; avoid artificially including people in an uncertain future
Though this will always be a work in progress, for focusing entirely on the present is enormously difficult, I feel as though I’ve made great strides in doing so.  The latter portion of this resolution was concerned with demands on put on Benjamin and my relationship, which has since blossomed.  But this is not the place to wax poetic about my love life, I think 🙂

*listen to more classical music, especially live
Live, not so much, but I’ve checked out a few classical cds from the library.  Recommendations?

*have coffee dates with people I admire and enjoy- relationship maintenance
I am notoriously horrible at staying in contact with people, and this has not improved thus far this year.  This probably more than any other is something I hope to re-invest in for the remaining three months of 2010, and potentially include on 2011 practices to enact.

*go to Burning Man!
Didn’t happen.  By choice, I think.  At some point in the next decade though, it will.  If Donovan ever comes back to the United States it certainly will.

*continue expanding my cooking ability, including getting over my irrational fear of meringue
Overall major success on this one.  Between a couple of fantastic and astoundingly easy bread recipes, having ready access to local, seasonal veggies via the co-op and farmer’s market, and in the last month finally having the finances to buy whatever sort of food I desire, I have improved in cooking ability in leaps and bounds.  Meringue hasn’t happened yet, but I’m planning on making sour cream raisin pie to take to Benjamin’s for Thanksgiving.

*go winter camping
There’s still time…winter is six months of the year in Minnesota, after all.

*build a road/touring bike
Obtained The Parrot instead, my beloved Bridgestone BB1.  But a bike trailer building session might be order, because I’m still itching to build something useful.
*make more music, and feel less awkward singing in front of people
Various planned bands have yet to come to fruition (the T-Rex tribute band being the best of the bunch; my stage name would be Hub Cap Diamond Star Halo).  But again, still time.  I don’t think music making will ever play a large role in my life, for I have so many friends that do it so wonderfully already, but ridding myself of embarrassment would be a goal worth pursuing.

*continue cultivating a vocabulary and context to express the concepts I’m passionate about as well as the complicated emotions
Again, a lifelong pursuit.  Ask me again in a few months.

*pursue opportunities for activism in food/agriculture/sustainability
Hoofed animal legalization in Minneapolis is underway yet finding some roadblocks, and I have the Sustainability Fair on my calendar for November.  In addition to activism of the sort I did in college and through working at non-profits I have rediscovered the joy of volunteering, of using my hands in on-the-ground work to fill a direct need.  I think I’m too much a big picture thinker to ever remove myself entirely from the idea side of social change work, but I hope to maintain more of a connection to direct service work in the future.

That’s all folks.  What were your 2010 resolutions/practices to enact?

~Lauren

Simple food beauty.

Minimalism isn’t always my favorite.  Particularly in room decor, minimalism often feels sterile.  However, these photographs from a new cooking book released by IKEA are GORGEOUS.

By highlighting the individual components of each recipe, Homemade is Best spotlights how simple food can be.  Composed of identifiable, pronounce-able ingredients, the tastiest and most heartfelt food really is homemade.  Funny how well this unites with this year’s Nobel Conference at Gustavus…

~Lauren