Monday, November 29, 2010

things you wish you didn't know...

I came home last night after being out all day to get my life back in order before starting another week, putting things away, digging out some of the Christmas decorations, and doing the dishes that had sat in the sink a few days since I hadn't planned on being gone this weekend.

I get stressed out at the start of the Thanksgiving season, having the existential life crisis that comes with marking another year of being alive combined with having to hear "Walking in a Winter Wonderland" every ten minutes when I venture into any place of commerce, or finding myself veering near trouble at social gatherings when politics are discussed. I just got texting last year and I don't know what's in the theater or on tv or what the kids are listening to these days.

I straddle this gap of relative affluence (full time job, functioning car, and extra income due to a low standard of living) compared to many of my neighbors and peers, while those I grew up with are buying apps for their iPhones, eating out at places where I can swing food or a drink but not both, going on vacation, living in places that people aren't afraid to visit after dark.

And I'm content and honestly happy, but sometimes I feel embarrassed when some see where I live or it's awkward when I hear people stereotype neighborhoods or certain groups and those places and people are friends and places where I've hung out.

I'm wondering why I feel so okay with most of my life except when I'm faced with feeling out of place in places where others feel so comfortable and so at ease in places and with people that others avoid.

And then...
I wasn't expecting to see a cockroach last night, a pretty big one, and the only thing I had on hand was the bottle of Ajax dishwashing liquid and I drowned it the best I could before calling my landlord who's going to call an exterminator.

Of course, one roach always means there's more. The people who lived there before me weren't the cleanest and my landlord had told me that there had been problems in the past but we also found one the same week I moved out of the old apartment.

And just to be on the safe side, I'll be buying some plastic containers, boric acid, and all manner of other fun things tonight. I'm not really freaked out, I just want the damn things gone. When I was living in Kent, I was the go-to girl in dorm rooms and apartments to kill vermin because I'm good at it and don't get freaked out.

My mom says that out of the three of her kids, I could live in a third world country most easily. Sometimes when I drive through the surrounding neighborhoods where everything's falling apart and there's this sense of hopelessness and impending violence and look at the mansions just around the corner, I feel like I do.

best of the blotter 31

This is one of the best I've seen in awhile.

THEFT, LORAIN ROAD: A man claiming to be the drummer for the 1980s band Foreigner faces theft charges after police said he skipped out on a $32 bar tab at Buckeye Lanes. Workers at the bowling alley told officers the suspect had pulled the same stunt on several other occasions in the past three weeks. According to reports, the suspect ordered six shots of alcohol, two beers and a plate of fried mushrooms. He then refused to pay his tab when it came time to leave. Police found the man, who claimed to be homeless, walking along Great Northern Boulevard just after midnight.

SUSPICION, CHAGRIN BOULEVARD: On Nov. 9, a Cleveland man, 80, left Ruby Tuesdays without paying his bill and left his briefcase behind. When the staff checked the briefcase, they found a gun inside.

The man was later located and all of his belongings were returned. No arrests were made.

SUSPICIOUS, FAIRMOUNT ROAD: A man came home from work and found two dead turkeys under his tree Nov. 10. He wanted a report on file of the incident.

SPECIAL DETAIL; WALTERS ROAD: A large Christmas tree being moved from a Hickory Hill residence to the downtown Triangle resulted in at least eight mailboxes being knocked down Nov. 18 — two on Hickory Hill and six on Walters, as well as several downed power line.

LAUNDRY, N. COURT: A woman called police after her clothing became stuck in a washer at a N. Court Street location on Nov. 19. Police responded after 5 p.m., but the woman was able to release the clothing before an officer arrived.

Friday, November 26, 2010

being in and around...

It took the city extra time to wake up this morning. I drove down east 93rd and then through Shaker this morning and the sun was out but the world was still asleep and those who were awake were frantic in less economically depressed environs. I loved the way the November sun looks, the shadows, the signs of corner stores and storefront churches. I had my camera but I was alone in strange parts and there were enough stragglers that I didn't want to explain anything.

I took the sick kitty to the vet and it's been a long time since I've sat in an animal hospital waiting room. I wished I could take photos of the people and the pets without being creepy because it was just the best people-watching ever.

it really does seem to be true that the pet's looks reflect those of the owners... the crazy couple with the giant St Bernards on huge chains, yuppies with obscure purebreds, the hardcore punk looking guy across from me with the bulldog, high maintenance women with terriers, and elderly cat ladies with elderly cats. It was loud in there with the barking and meowing and I couldn't read the book I brought and don't know how the guy across from me was getting through "Pedagogy of the Oppressed" with all this noise.

I never go shopping on Black Friday but me & a friend of mine ended up at Pat Catan's in search of art supplies and I ended up getting some absurd and random Christmas gifts for my cousins, things that made us giggle like roaring dinosaur keychains, multicolored disco ball ornaments, and a giant inflatable Shamu. We drank coffee at Gypsy and pondered all the ideas and changes that have hit both me and her this year and then I met up with my sister, her mother-in-law and husband for dinner at a pub in Rocky River that was jammed with people who looked like they went to high school together.

They treated me for my birthday and we finished up at Half Price Books amused by puzzles with unicorns on them and I ended up scoring big in the dollar section of the CDs, came home with Astrud Gilberto, Quicksand's "Manic Compression," and Godspeed You! Black Emperor's "F#A#infinity" which is the perfect soundtrack for dark cold nights like these. The Youtube comments are ridiculous but I guess I have a thing sometimes for apocalyptic Canadian anarchists playing epic chamber rock, though seeing them live way back when was emotionally overwhelming to the point that I was dazed and thankful that my friend was able to drive me home.

I've been in a place where there's so much going on inside, it's really hard to explain, and that's when the music fills the gaps.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

give me things that don't get lost...

My birthdays are never epic, but this one's been especially good for not having much going on... not stressing about dead ends, not euphoric with potential. Played a game of Risk with my sister & dad and lost, finding delicious irony in the fact that U2's "War" is playing in the background because that's the one album the three of us can agree on.

Got some voicemail serenades, some sweet text messages and phone calls, and a whole lot of facebook love for what it's worth. People ask me if I feel bad that the holiday overshadows my birthday but it's just so good to see everyone and then when the cousins and the rest of the family converge, it's just such a good time having everyone there.

27 years old now, housesitting on the east side watching an ailing kitty for some friends who are out of town, hoping that she's ok because while I enjoy animals, I don't know much about taking care of sick ones. I'm making sure she's eating and drinking and such, hoping that she'll be all right.

Ate too much homemade cranberry sauce tonight and drank too much coffee, had the usual wine and conversation involving the usual cocktail of politics and religion and evidently one of my distant cousins traced back my Anglo side to 1066 and was unhappy with the presence of French blood a thousand years ago, though I highly doubt anyone's pure anything, with all the invading and raping and pillaging that went on way back when between the Vikings and Genghis Khan and whoever.

Besides, everyone's probably related somehow if you go back far enough and never mind that got mixed with the Irish two generations ago and with the Polish in my parents' case and who knows what with the next group of kids.

If it wasn't raining so hard I'd go back over to the west side to hang out with some of my friends who have no family here and will be up late, but I'm just going to chill here, read, journal a bit, drink some tea, listen to Neil Young. I don't need much to get by and this is beautiful and good.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

in which we become our parents someday...

When we were young, we knew we were born too late, grew our hair long because we didn't bother cutting it, borrowed our dads' flannel shirts, dyed our hair, grew up on the ever-present classic rock which gave us a love of total 70's unhipness.

We tried to find meaning in the last gasps of the alternative era, realizing that Bush and Creed and Staind really weren't all that good and worked our way backwards through labels like SST and Dischord and Sub Pop wishing we could have been around back in the day when you could see good bands cheap at the Euclid Tavern and we had to content ourselves with reunion shows with replacement singers and new bassists and watching clips on Youtube.

We mourned when Layne Staley died, got each other obscure 80's punk band shirts and Squirrel Bait records for Christmas, and when my friend touched Mark Arm's hand at a Mudhoney show it was like he touched the hand of God. We created our own scene, which was one elaborate inside joke that nobody else got involving jokes about Ross Perot and Stabbing Westward.

We'd argue over our favorite Led Zeppelin albums and whether or not Rush was awesome, and give each other a hard time for our guilty pleasures and were obsessed with the documentary Hype! whose soundtrack we rocked out to on the way to prom because nothing sounds more romantic than the Melvins or songs like Mudhoney's "Touch Me I'm Sick."

We wanted to be DIY and start our own record labels, wanted to do what we saw on the east and west coast here in our dying rust belt town as the towers fell on 9/11 but everything here had already tanked as it was. We were nostalgic for an era that had its own share of disposable pop music and generic rock bands, but we ignored them.

Our bands weren't anything special, our shows at school gyms didn't happen because the guy in charge of getting keys got busted for weed, and some of us went on to become scenesters and substance abusers, some of us moved away, some of us grew up and quit music, and others of us only sing at church or on karaoke night.

Now we're the same age as our fallen heroes. Those of my friends who joked about being dead by 27 are now heading towards 30. If we can't be Kurt Cobain, we can be Eddie Vedder. The thing that's hard about this age is that we've got enough life behind us that mistakes we made in our youth will follow us for the next four decades and yet we're still young and dumb in a lot of ways in a culture that makes it easy. We've branched out too, finding out that there are other amazing and undiscovered sounds that came out pre-1967 and weren't created by suburban white guys with guitars.

I get the feeling that Generation X is going to inflict our cultural consciousness with Tupac, Nirvana and "indie rock" the way that their parents beat us over the head with Woodstock and the Beatles, but it looks like my younger cousins don't know who these people are and think Green Day is this cool new band, and some of my little sister's friends have jumped into the straight-edge scene so it'll be interesting to see how all this plays out. The classic rock station is playing "Enter Sandman" now so I'm assuming Jane's Addiction won't be too far behind.

Dying young is far too boring these days...

it could always be worse...

Something about the impending winter, the holiday season, and having another birthday depresses the hell out of me every year. It's not because I stress about getting old the way others do but there's this sense of what have I done, what have I lost, I wish I could start over.

I've moved three times in the last year, struggled through the legal system, saw some relationships I valued deeply disintegrate, found out at the dentist that my mouth is all messed with a combination of genetics, not flossing the right way, and the stress... and I guess I'll get through like I always do, but I just get so tired and don't feel like I'm much good for anyone when I don't have it in me to pick up the phone and I come back and just end up sleeping because even though it's beautiful outside, I can't walk down there myself and I don't want to call anyone up because I'm just too out of it.

When I think about vacations and just getting away, it just seems like an illusion because you're still who you are anywhere, and you just have to come back eventually.

It's not surprising that the law of entropy makes a whole lot of sense. Sometimes it just feels like life is all about more or less falling apart but staying together enough to function on a basic level.

And my problems are nothing compared with those of others... I have to keep reminding myself of this because the people who want to compete in the Suffering Olympics are really no fun.

Friday, November 19, 2010

thursday night fill-in playlist

Most of this would have been a mixtape I would have made you my third year of college, but it works darn good on a Thursday night. It's weird being in the studio and being awake and actually getting phone calls, mostly from people ten years older than me who haven't heard Jawbox since back in the day who wonder if I'll be a regular fixture and if I'll play "Jesus is Way Cool." I like this time slot even though I'm wedged in between two metal shows and while it's not Air Supply, it's not nearly as heavy either.

sonic youth - dirty boots
jawbox - breathe
sleater-kinney - all hands on the bad one
fugazi - do you like me
throwing muses - pandora's box
swervedriver - a change is gonna come
mission of burma - trem two
the buzzcocks - harmony in my head
high back chairs - afterlife
REM - crush with eyeliner
love - 7 and 7 is
X - poor girl
the clash - city of the dead
elastica - in the city
the pixies - mr grieves
jesus and mary chain - far gone and out
blur - there's no other way
echo and the bunnymen - crocodiles
ride - drive blind
love battery - foot
the cure - cut
jane's addiction - summertime rolls
pavement - cream of gold
autolux - here comes everybody
the dirtbombs - brand new game
afghan whigs - cito soleil
morphine - buena
soul coughing - is chicago
queens of the stone age - white wedding
the verve - life's an ocean

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

we could drive around all night / we wouldn't have to go too far

The single life is good to me, and it's so strangely liberating to be solely responsible for everything, to paint all night, to come home and not worry about waking anyone up. It's so quiet where I'm at that I feel like I live in the country even though I'm in what some of my relatives call "the ghetto," though it's a mix of insanely affluent yuppies, mental cases who live on the street, seemingly infinite ethnic groups and everyone in between.

While me and a good friend are planning on living together this spring, I like knowing that I can handle this and that I enjoy it because one can't live with housemates forever and I don't count on having a life partner someday.

So much of our cultural identity gets tied up in the idea of getting married or finding your soulmate and/or buying a house and/or having a lucrative career and honestly all that doesn't mean much to me. I don't know if it ever did, because I would have planned my life out differently back then.

I couldn't afford to buy a home even though they're about the price of a new Kia in my city, and I'm deeply satisfied with my work even though I know I'll never make a whole lot of money, and the life partner thing is something that either happens or it doesn't.

Now that I know that I am not afraid to come home to an empty place, that I don't feel powerless or completely vulnerable, that doesn't bother me, and most of the time, I like being able to be by myself. I'm content with where I'm at especially not having to work around someone else and everything that it brings.

Of course I say this and end up going out on something very much like a date that involved coffee and stargazing and talking til early in the morning. I'm not sure what all that means but I'll just see where it goes, see what I get to know. And in the meantime, I'm surrounded by a beautiful community with some wonderful neighbors and friends who invite me over for pizza and sitting outside next to the fire pit, or to watch football and learn how to throw knives and ninja stars at the pumpkins we carved a few weeks ago. I'm meeting up with my eastsiders tonight for dinner and more hanging out.

When God said that He gave life, and life abundantly, it seems to have less to do with material gain and more with the beauty that comes from unity and a sense of wonder at this beautiful world and a reason for living. At this point, despite a lot of hard things, there is so much beauty that I just can't even totally understand it.

Friday, November 12, 2010

best of the blotter 30

JARRED RACOON, PINE: A patrolling officer witnessed a raccoon with a jar stuck on its head run across the road near the 500 block of Pine Street around 9:23 p.m., Nov 5. The raccoon quickly wandered away, and the officer moved on

FRAUD, LOCHSPUR LANE: A family reported Oct. 26 that they had just received a “scam phone call” involving someone from Texas requesting that they wire money to get someone out of jail. After an officer called the family and spoke with them, it was determined that it was not a scam after all.

CRIMINAL DAMAGING, EAST WASHINGTON STREET: A woman reported arriving home about 1:40 a.m. Saturday and finding one of her front windows broken, with a stone porch decoration — depicting a dove and the word ”Peace” — thrown through it and found on the interior floor.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

power, corruption, and lies

I went back for my last hearing in front of the judge this morning and after waiting half an hour, she finally showed up in a better mood than last time. Every case where the cop didn't show up, she let them off, which she didn't let happen to me a few months ago even though it was the same situation and my partner in crime got his charges dropped for lack of witnesses when he went in front of another judge.

It kills me that people who have this kind of power abuse it when they wake up on the wrong side of the bed in the morning or have their own axe to grind. Evidently the guy texting while driving gets off because she's in a good mood and the girl taking photos in an abandoned building gets probation and a $200 fine because she hadn't had her morning coffee yet.

I wanted to say something so badly but knew that'd get me in more trouble.

Meanwhile, Mr. Comic Sans who think he owns the soul of Cleveland because he owns their basketball team and a good chunk of their subprime mortgages is trying to mess with our river. Thanks a lot. I still wish Lebron had taken you with him. I hope you pull an Art Modell. The amount of hubris here is so stunning it's disgusting.

That, and the ubermensch, we're above the law attitude I see out of these business owners and national leaders just makes me want to hurl. The constant need to defend the indefensible, the constant trampling over others in pursuit of the almighty dollar, the constant devaluation of others who don't count because they have no money or don't look like you or don't provide you with connections.


Friday, November 5, 2010

i can't stand it, i know you planned it...

One of our regulars at my place of employment has some paranoid tendencies, and is constantly trying to uncover proof of conspiracies and such everywhere even though it's obvious to anyone that rich, mostly white, people run the world. It's not that much of a secret. And of course, these people have one agenda or another and the means by which to propagate it, whether it's Koch or Soros or Bin Laden or whoever.

Some unclaimed printouts that we found when we came in a few weeks ago had a list of a whole lot of militias in the United States, articles about the Hutaree, and a place that sold HGH and other steroids online but suggested that you should "Buy Now!" because they might get banned soon and supplies won't last.

Some of the names of these groups who love freedom, the American Way, and guns, were pretty much to be expected, though others sounded like the products of some 10-year-olds playing with GI Joes and Playmobils(Fort Eagle) or someone who's watched way too much old TV (Roger's Rangers, which is actually named after a group of colonial fighters who fought with the British, so I don't even get where the patriotism thing comes in here). Another group described themselves as "All the Innocent Americans the Government Hasn't Thrown in Prison," which would presumably be a lot of people.

Another website told its adherents not to boycott their French's mustard along with the freedom fries, because it wasn't actually made in France. For the record, most of these people still had Geocities and Angelfire pages, which made me think of being in high school and those annoying banner ads that seemed to be EVERYWHERE.

Good times.

But lest we think that the righties of the US of A are the only ones susceptible to this, these are just a few of the Greek anarchist groups that were active in the last year. Unlike the anarchists I knew when I was at Kent, who seemed to spend more time eating vegan food, stealing copies of "Fight Club" from Borders and pens from the Cashier's Office to "throw a wrench in the system," and not bathing because hygiene is "fascist," these people actually blow things up.

Summer Entropy Commandos
Summer Tranquility Disturbance
Non-Patriot Saboteurs - Cores for the Spreading Insecurity
Fire Shadows
Comandos Husscheyn Zhachyndhoul Jhachanghir / Revolutionary Intelligence Agency
Antisexist Group
Immediate Intervention Hood-wearers
Wild Wolves
Conspiracists for the realization of insecurity
Immoral City De-Structuralists
Revolutionary Cores Alliance - Speedy Arsonist Agency
Fire Cores Conspiracy / Nihilist Commandos
Destroyers of whatever is left of social peace
Consciousness Gangs
Happy Sleep's Apostates
Arsonists' Millennium Cooperation
Organizers of Night Entertainment
CHAOS: Chaotic Groups of Sabotage
Carnivalists in the tune
Nikola Tesla Commandos

Maybe some of these sound more awesome in Greek or whatever, but having been around people on both loony ends on the political spectrum, I find it interesting as anything to see how people define themselves and their enemies.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

art and crime

There's an art show tonight at Loganberry Books where a real photographer is showing some of her work that's inspired by urban decay and graffiti. I look through these beautiful photos and realize that we've been to the same places, only she didn't get arrested.

I'm 5 days away from completely probation and realizing as I ride the Rapid that most of my photography involves some element of illegality as do those of most of my fellow artistically minded Clevelanders and other rust belt denizens. I'm fine with giving up the abandoned buildings.

Those places still fascinate me the way that ruins in the Old World would if I lived there, but I don't want to deal with the court system again, much less run across who knows who. Now that I know what the law is, I respect it, and in all honesty, those adventures were things I'll look back on a few years from now and go "Damn I was stupid back then."

My favorite parts of the city are the dead zones along railroad tracks cutting through industrial wastelands, where everything is growing and a whole other world exists underneath bridges and in forgotten worlds, where flowers spring out of concrete and vines take over fences, the soil is red from the rust of former manufacturing and the bright aerosol colors are arcane hieroglyphics showing that others have gone before us in a city that's gray most of the year.

But these places are owned by someone. Someone who's hoping that a developer will come along someday and buy these swaths up for the revival that may never come, for an industry that can be elsewhere, or someone who might be dead and doesn't know, or some nameless corporation in another state, or languishing in brownfield purgatory.

I went to hear this photographer speak last week and she talked about her excursions into the architecture of this city and times she ran into trouble but was always very nice and gracious, asked permission, but she's an older lady so she has some modicum of respectability as opposed to me being young and in racially mixed company in a city where the culture of past generations is still segregated.

There's so much talk about the creative class and making this a haven for artists. Other cities are known for their bright murals and incredible graffiti, but here, if it's not safe and clean and able to be consumed or surrounded by trendy restaurants and beautiful people, it gets destroyed. I wish I could have experienced 'The Temple of Lost Love' back in the day before it was whitewashed by city workers and the Campbell administration. The aesthetic may not be appealing to all, but it resonates with a lot of us.

I felt a sense of loss when the RTA started buffing over a decade's worth of paint from the Red Line. Does that gray paint really look better? Does someone painting "Cleveland Rocks!" in rainbow letters of declaring their love of Led Zeppelin on a wall really hurt anyone?

So now I'm trying to figure out how to continue to pursue exploration and artistry in this city without getting in trouble again. I've done a good job of keeping it legal, and I intend to continue to do so to the best of my ability but I think now about how many things that are not moral wrongs that there's something on the books about. For all of us who've ever cut through someone's yard or picked up a piece of furniture off of someone's curb, or walked down some railroad tracks or opened someone else's mail by accident.

I'm sure it won't be as hard as it feels sometimes, but I'm honestly jealous of all these photographers who don't feel like they have to debate these questions.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

the morning after... usually sunny it seems.

People are coming in saying that they lost their freedom, but I wonder where they've been the past 10 years or maybe even longer, with the Patriot Act and its continuations and escalations, justifying the unjustifiable under the pretense of "state secrets," not to mention the ways in which people who have the least amount of rights and protection in this country simply "disappear."

"Well at least a Democrat won in our county," as if they haven't been as utterly corrupt on a local level as the other party has been on a national one.

But I can't get emotional about politics anymore. It's so ugly and seems to get uglier every year. I listen to people talk and the ignorance is astounding and the smugness is overwhelming, and each side is acting like they're in middle school with "I'm smarter" or "I'm prettier" or "You suck" and there really isn't much of a difference when it comes down to it.

We're really an oligarchy, run by a select few with a lot of money and connections who either buy their way in or finance the way in for others. I'm convinced that if you start out with any integrity, you've lost most of it by the time you get that far.

It's easy to demand and expect things of others, and harder to take any responsibility to do.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

it's that time of year again.

It's Election Day, and I get to pick the lesser of 6+ evils for the new position of County Executive, try to figure out which judges don't suck, and hope that my provisional ballot gets counted. Yay.

I do what I can to vote my conscience and stay informed and try not to get myself in trouble with everyone I know because I seem to disagree on everything considering that I don't feel represented by either of the major parties and their talking heads. My views on God and human nature occasionally catapult me into quasi-wingnut territory philosophically, yet I also don't believe that a government should legislate morality and I don't assume that most people share my views or expect others to fall in line behind me.

I don't want to get into arguments about a whole host of issues on this forum because I don't know how most of these things work out in practice, but I vote based on the belief that ALL life is sacred and created by God, whether it's the unborn, the elderly, the rich, the poor, people like me and different from me, people who live in other countries and practice lifestyles and religions different from my own.

I'm ashamed that as a country we're responsible for things like torture and death squads in other countries. I'm glad I voted third party and that I didn't have these high hopes of expecting things to change, because Gitmo and the School of the Americas are still open, we're financing corrupt governments that abuse the rights of their people. I can't stand the way that opposing groups talk about each other, the self-righteous echo chamber smugness of both sides, the ugliness and constant justifications of unjustifiable things.

I believe in treating others the way I'd want to be treated, and so I try to screw over as few people as humanly possible, attempt to vote for people that will hopefully not screw others over too much, and don't expect the government to fix everything. I think we project our hopes so often on people who can't deliver on them, and substitute that for doing anything to change the world around us ourselves.

I try to do my best to live out and love and do the right thing by pursuing peace in my own life because that's the only thing I can really answer for and live by this:

Lord, make me an instrument of your peace.
Where there is hatred, let me sow love;
where there is injury,pardon;
where there is doubt, faith;
where there is despair, hope;
where there is darkness, light;
and where there is sadness, joy.

O Divine Master, grant that I may not so much seek
to be consoled as to console;
to be understood as to understand;
to be loved as to love.
For it is in giving that we receive;
it is in pardoning that we are pardoned;
and it is in dying that we are born to eternal life...

it's good to be here.

The leaves have come down, the cold is here to stay, and I love wearing thermals and hoodies again and resurrected the flannel shirt permanently borrowed from my dad.

I took a walk with my camera on Saturday through Little Italy up the Mayfield road hill. While I love hanging out with people, I love those moments of solitude too especially when it's by choice, when I can let the leaves crunch, explore a bit, wander in and out of art galleries, end up having conversations with random people having yard sales and trashpicking furniture off the front lawns of apartment buildings.

Carved pumpkins with my neighbors on Friday night, and we made salsa with the produce from her garden, and then Sunday was our annual church Halloween party for the neighborhood which makes me think of both really Pentecostal churches and that one skit where Eddie Izzard is talking about the Pope.

Over 600 kids and parents came in and I passed out candy and ran the soccer game with the help of the Ethiopian kids, and did end up dressing up this year in a kimono a friend gave me awhile back, watching the kids and parents come through with some truly awesome costumes.

I realized as I watched the constant flow of families and kids through the building that this is probably one of the only events in the neighborhood where the whole community shows up, where I'm hearing Spanish, Lingala, Amharic, and Kreyol, watching the children of the new urbanistas mingle with the kids who lives in the Section 8 apartments and the refugee kids who show up excited at this strange new holiday where you wear crazy clothes and everyone gives you candy.

Seeing families hanging out together, neighbors meeting up, and kids having fun in a safe place just made me happy. I don't find the holiday as magical as I did when I was younger, but to be able to make it fun for the next generation was a beautiful thing.

Is it weird that Halloween reminds me again why I stayed in this city and even with the lameness and frustration of Election Day, glad to live in this country?