curious, not creepy.


apart of the magic.
December 17, 2009, 8:10 am
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within the next 24 hours i’ll be a college graduate. which is superfuckingawesome and also totally bizarre. and the strangeness didn’t hit me until today when someone asked me if i was a ua student. my first instinct was to say yes but that was incorrect.

to celebrate this fabulous occasion i am going the classiest route possible.

BEST WESTERN KAROKE.

i’ve been practicing for this my whole life:

starting at about 930pm. be there or be lame.

also- if anyone actually wants to witness the event it’s at 530pm, centennial hall, FREE PARKING AT THE MAIN GATE SQUARE GARAGE.



wanderlust.
June 11, 2009, 3:38 am
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i remember reading the excerpt of wanderlust last summer and wanting to read the book in its entirety. unfortunately, i got distracted with other classes and other books and never got around to reading it until this summer. i tracked down a copy of the book and got to hear rebecca solnit’s history of walking.

the structure of the book gives the reader a very through and detailed history of walking. she begins with a personal narrative voice, discussing what it is she goes through while on her walks. we share a lot of the same ideas about what makes walking important, “walking allows us to be in our bodies and in the word without being made busy by them.”  she talks about how thinking has begun to be looked down upon in today’s society. we are always moving forward so quickly, needing to be more and more productive each day that by seemingly being inactive causes us, and others, great distress. i catch myself doing this fairly often, especially in times of stress. if i’m not constantly working on something or planning my next step i feel as though i’m just wasting time. but, if i just gave myself a moment to be with my own thoughts i’d be much more productive. but doing nothing, is very hard to do. she also touches on how we have become disconnected from outside spaces and each other. we are now living in a series of interior spaces, from the house to the car to work and back.  “one lives in the whole world rather than in interiors built up against it.” walking allows us to reconnect with the idea of being in nature and being with ourselves.

she continues this idea of connecting with ourselves, because ‘in the experience of walking, each step is a thought. you can’t escape yourself.’ its this notion of what walking does for a person that leads into how the trend of walking for some kind of cause began. it began with the pilgrimage, or a sacred walk, “pilgrimage unites belief with action, thinking with doing, and it makes sense that this harmony is achieved with the sacred has material presence and location.” the body becomes a vessel for all the beliefs that the person has, making the private public through this gesture. for a long time, it was only religious based causes, but over many years it was able to evolve into something with more political content. solnit uses the Peace Pilgrim as an example, a women who dedicated her life to walking. originally she set out to walk 25,000 miles for peace and after accomplishing that hefty goal she just continued to walk but stopped keeping track of the miles. she wouldn’t bring anything with her aside from a few toiletries that could fit into her pocket, she relied on the kindness of others to help her sustain herself. this idea is what made her walks mean something, she walked for peace and that relies on others to give part of themselves to people they don’t know for the greater good. i think its great that someone is able to have that much trust in others, and that she really did do what she set out for. though there isn’t world peace, which who knows if it will ever happen, she made a very positive impact on the people she interacted with which is a step in the right direction.

what i found to be the most interesting was the next section of the book, lives of the streets. it is easier for me to relate to urban life then rural, not that tucson is super urbanized but its certainly not a tiny town. she draws a comparison between the two at the beginning of this section that really sums up the relationship that i know i have with the city. “the average rural walker looks at the general – the view, the beauty – and the landscape moves by as a gently modulated continuity: a crest long in view is reached, a forest thins out to become a meadow. the urbanite is on the lookout for particulars, for opportunities, individuals, and supplies, and the changes are abrupt.” anytime i have lived in a new neighborhood i do this, i go out on a walk to familiarize myself with the area and see what is nearby. and though i have lived close to 4th avenue for the past 4 years, i have very different places that i go to out of connivence. i could always be found at epic when i lived in west university, but now that i live in iron horse i go to caffe passe. they are only half a mile apart, but feel so very far apart. i don’t really cross 6th street that often, instead i found all the things that i need on my side of the road. there is still that instinctual part of us that looks knows that we need to know where food is, where shelter is, it’s just that now we do that from the comfort of our cars instead of using our legs.

she goes onto talk about this as well, the new way to get around is no longer to walk but to drive. and because of this there has been a serious decrease in public space. she compare cities to one another, how “most american cities and towns are organized around consumption and production, as were the dire industrial cities of england, and public space is merely the void between workplaces, shops and dwellings.” back, not too long ago, people would come out on saturday nights and just go for walks around plazas and streets. “the promenade is a special subset of walking with an emphasis on slow stately movement, socializing, and display. it is not a way of getting anywhere, but a way of being somewhere, and its movements are essentially circular… allows people to remain visually in public but verbally in private.”  there is a women she talked to that grew up in san francisco and can remember when she was young going out on these walks, that the streets would be full of people just going for a stroll up and down market street. there is a sense of community there, even if you’re not speaking to the person next to you. “the word citizen has to do with cities, and the ideal city is organized around citizenship – around participation in public life.” though these walks may not seem like they are changing anything, they are creating an active public life. there are people out and about which not only helps prevent crime, but also boosts the local economy though their purchases as well as a sense of community which i find to be severely lacking today. there was a demand for public spaces at this time because people were actually filling them, something that can still be seen in places like san francisco and new york but is a rare sight in tucson. 

this next portion of wanderlust really struck a chord with me. ever since i did walk 5 in which i took myself out on a date, i have been doing a lot of thinking about my role in todays society. though the status of women has progressed a lot from 50 years ago there are still things that haven’t changed. and what solnit discusses in the chapter, walking after midnight: women, sex, and public spaces, is still relevant today. she gives historical examples of women being subjected to unfair social standards and legalities.  in 1895, lizzie schauer was arrested as a prostitute because she was out alone after dark and asked two men for directions. she was on her way to her aunts house, but the very act of talking to these men was perceived as solicitation. they performed medical examinations to make sure that she could still be considered a ‘good girl’ and was so she was released. if she hadn’t been a ‘good girl’ she would have been charged with walking alone in the evening as well as having been sexually active. “the young men strolling on the streets think only that a woman of good reputation does not allow herself to be seen in the evening.” women would be arrested if seen out at a late hour, while men had the privilege to go out at any time, day or night, without judgement. though things are not this extreme now in america, there is still this sense of fear that is instilled in women of being alone at night. “two-thirds of american women are afraid to walk alone in their own neighborhoods at night, according to one poll, and another reported that half of british women were afraid to go out after dark alone and 40 percent were ‘very worried’ about being raped.”  we are socialized to be afraid instead of learning to be independent and take proactive measures to protect ourselves. 

it also got me thinking about other nations and how the freedom of going on a walk at any time day or night, man or women, is prohibited. there are national curfews and if they are not adhered to, there is the very serious and real risk of being arrested or death. i can only hope that one day this will change.

if walking is a primary cultural act and a crucial way of being in the world, those who have been unable to walk out as far as their feet would take them have been denied not merely exercise or recreation but a vast portion of their humanity.

wanderlust changed my thoughts on walking dramatically. i’ve always enjoyed going on them, they’ve always been a means of clearing my head and really being with myself. the history of walking and its evolution turned out to be much more fascinating then i thought it would be. but what was the most interesting part is knowing that i am not the first person to have used walking for these reasons. that i’m not only one who uses it as a means of collecting my thoughts or as a way of being both present and detached from the world around me.



walk four – cocoons and engagement

i decided to take this walk in a place that has gone from a place of comfort to one of total disdain, the mall. i remember being like 13 and going to the park mall every weekend with my friends. that was the place to be at that age, and that seems to linger on for a few years. but at some point, it switched over for me. it stopped being a place that i liked going, instead i absolutely dread going. 

i was armed with my ipod for this walk, which happened to have crashed the day before and needed to be reloaded with music. i was at a friends house so he put on a bunch of music for me. all of which were bands that i liked when i was just finishing middle school and starting high school. so listening to bands like incubus [yeah, i know] really took me back to the time when i actually enjoyed being at the mall. while on my walk around the place, i became very interested in all of these things that i never really noticed before. i couldn’t help but stare all of the horrible southwestern art that could be found throughout the space.

i hate southwestern art.

so much hate.

and the attempt to bring in natural lighting into this very artificial environment.

faux light

but what i found really interesting was the big potted plants. 

twins.

bush.

this idea of bringing nature into totally fabricated, unnatural environments is a theme that has been popping up a lot lately. i know a lot of people working with this theme, and was able to see it a lot while at the mall. i found it to be a really funny juxtaposition of these plants against these brightly light, backgrounds with bright colors and photoshopped models.

i walked through the whole mall and had all of these thoughts about the space itself and didn’t really take into much consideration the people in it. which happened during the second half of the walk.

i’ve always been an eavesdropper, and the mall is totally the right place to be in to hear some really good stuff. its not that i am trying to be nosey, but i just really like seeing people in their element. when they are totally themselves because they think that no one is paying attention. people are so funny and don’t even really know it. so, when walking through the mall without headphones i couldn’t help but not smile and giggle a bit when people would say something funny or just ridiculous. the highlight being this: “now, learning how to say what color are your panties in Arabic seems way more important than anything else.”  that gem happened right outside the victoria secret, which may or may not be a coincidence. 

i also noticed how unwilling people are to make eye contact with you there. everyone was either looking at the person they were with or staring at the ground. there were a few accidental glances by some teenagers and they quickly looked away, the only people who actually maintained eye contact were those annoying kiosk people and the mall security. both of which make sense, since it is part of their job. but, it is still very interesting how people react when they make eye contact with you especially when you don’t look away. we’ve become very sensitive to this and can feel when it has gone on too long. 

it was a very interesting experience going back to a place i used to spend so much time in. this walk made me realize different things about the space that i don’t think i otherwise would have payed attention to.

here is the route that i took for my walk, 

park mall



walk five – in your name.
June 4, 2009, 9:20 am
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i asked a good friend of mine what was something that was important to him, something that he really believed in. i shouldn’t have been surprised when he told me something totally unconventional, as last year he had me pick up all the nails in my alley, but i was. 

it is important to be able and comfortable being alone. there is nothing wrong with it. its not something to get used to, its something that we all do. 

with that being said, he asked me to go on a date. to picture what my ‘perfect date’ would be and do it, but alone.  i was totally intrigued by this idea, but was really hesitant to actually follow through. this idea of being alone or feeling loneliness is something i’ve been thinking and dealing a lot with lately. some of my closest, and dearest friends are moving and will be gone by the end of the summer. i’m excited for them to move forward and actively pursue their future, but i can’t help but feel sad that they’re leaving. its not that i don’t have good friends that are still in town, but i guess more then anything it makes me feel as though i’m falling behind. for those of us who’ve grown up in tucson, there seems to be this mentality that you have to escape. that you haven’t really made it if you haven’t moved away. at least thats the way me and my friends seem to look at it, it is this place that you love to miss, but hate to be in. 

the idea of this walk felt far too personal so i initially rejected it and asked him to come up with something else. he refused and insisted that i do it. and after a lot of coaxing, i convinced myself that i needed to do it. 

char's

i started off my date at char’s, one of my favorite restaurants in town. i wasn’t nervous when walking in, but when the hostess asked me how many and i said just one her only response was ‘oh.’ the nerves kicked in.

dinner.

i realized when i sat down, that i’d never eaten dinner alone at a nicer restaurant.  normally when i go eat alone, i have a book or something to do. but i didn’t have that option as it would be rude to do that on a date. i did notice myself becoming very sensitive to the other people in the room and what they think about me being alone, or what it is that i think about people who eat alone.  the only time i’ve ever felt any kind of sadness for someone who is eating alone is if they are older.  for some reason it seems worse when they do it then someone who is younger.  i think i project my ideas of why it is they don’t have anyone else with them, like their partner passed away or all their friends are in retirement homes when they could just be doing what i am – unable to find someone else to go with but am still hungry.  the other customers didn’t seem to even notice that i was alone, they were all caught up in their own conversations that they didn’t really give me a second glance.  and it was kind of nice being alone there, however i did miss having someone around who could order the curry so we could share.

after dinner i took myself to see a movie.

loft.

now, hunger isn’t necessarily a first date movie but i figured on a perfect date the other person would want to see it as badly as i did.  i’ve seen movies by myself before, but what is interesting is that even though i’m in an environment that is totally familiar being there off the clock and alone felt a little awkward.  in my mind everyone was wondering why this girl was all alone at a pretty depressing film, but i don’t think that anyone really cared that i was there alone.  instead i was projecting these things onto them.  

the film was absolutely amazing.  it would have been nice to have someone around who’d seen the film to discuss it with them, but it was nice being able to fully digest it on my own.  after the movie, i drove home and walked down to che’s as the conclusion to my date.

bar time.

this was the part that i’d been dreading the most about this whole walk.  i’d never been to a bar alone before, the idea of it totally freaks me out.  i feel like its a completely different experience for a guy to go alone then it is for a girl.  if a girl is seen by herself there is an automatic assumption that she is out ‘on the prowl.’  but if a guy is out, he’s just out having a drink which is a very weird double standard.  i was able to find a table which was ironically by the last person i went on a ‘date’ with.  which got me thinking about the word ‘date.’  i find the word to be very intimidating as there are very specific intentions and expectations involved with going on one.  there is that ultimate goal that at the end of the night you’ll be getting that goodnight kiss or something more, which maybe why i don’t use that word very often.  we’ll go and ‘hangout’ or something, but never a date.  it feels like too much pressure to me.  so it was kind of funny that the first time i’ve used that word in a long time was in reference to myself.  after all of that inner dialogue i looked around the room and noticed that just like at dinner, no one seemed to really care that i was there by myself.  i did get a couple strange, prolonged looks from two guys sitting at a table but it didn’t really bother me.  it wasn’t nearly as horrible of an experience as i was expecting it to be.  instead, it was kind of enjoyable.  

i figured out that its not that i’m not capable of being by myself, but that i just enjoy having someone else around.  to be able to talk about things that just happened, or discuss a thought that just popped into your head.  

there seems to be this social stigma about doing things alone.  there is this idea that if you’re alone, then you must be sad and lonely and totally friendless when in all actually it seems more like a sign of independence.  that you are free to do and go wherever it is on your own and feel comfortable doing so.  going on this date with myself made me realize that.  it is okay to be by yourself.  it is okay to be alone.  it is okay to have a nice evening all by yourself. 



project one – googly eyes.
May 24, 2009, 11:05 pm
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for this weeks project, i’ve decided to do an ephemeral piece that expands upon the ideas from my first walk in which i searched for faces in places.   instead of just trying to find these faces, i took a more proactive role and created them.  the use of googly eyes helps really define the face, and also adds a very playful element to the piece which is was a goal of mine.  i want them to be a nice surprise to be found by other walkers, and hopefully be a reminder of our childhood and how easy it was to enjoy these simple joys.

googly gutter.

googly trash.

googly metal.

googly wood.

googly lid.

googly sidewalk.

googly bricks.

googly fence.

googly cactus.



walk two – desire lines.
May 22, 2009, 9:32 pm
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just like last summer, i had a really hard time trying to find desire lines. i didn’t want to re-use the same ones that i found last year so it took a lot of looking for me to do so. and i found one in the funniest place. 

i’m doing an internship at the phoenix art museum, working primarily in tucson and going up once a week. when i was there i was trying to find my way back into the building and stumbled across a little desire line that lead me in the correct direction.

phx desire line.

i began thinking a lot about why it is i have such a hard time finding these little footpaths and i realized its because people don’t really walk anymore. everyone is in their cars all the time, people riding bikes to places, but its just not that often you see someone walking somewhere with a real purpose like running errands. with that in mind, i started to see a new kind of desire line everywhere.

new desire lines

new desire lines

i think that these can be seen as a new kind desire line.



walk one – smell and sound
May 21, 2009, 4:32 am
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there is this smell that infiltrates tucson every summer and is one of my absolute favorite things about living here. that wet dirt smell, that is definitely the smell of summertime. 

and there are these sounds that fill the air – the train blowing its horn, the hum of swamp coolers and the voices of people chatting on their porch.

summertime.

summer sky.

i went on a walk this evening and it was a culmination of these two things which are just apart of experiencing tucson in the summer. its much quieter out at night with most of the ua kids gone back home until august. which is nice. and it is much cooler, with the looming rain that changes the color of the sky to that beautiful redish pink. i guess more then anything, my walk tonight made me appreciate this town. i know i spend a lot of my time complaining about it and wanting to leave it, but it really is a great place. and it was also really nice to just take my time and enjoy the weather and the smells and the sounds instead of being in a big rush from one place to another. it’s been a long time since i just went on a walk with no destination in mind.