get comfortable

…because this entry is long. Go make some iced tea or something. I’m serious.

Ready? All right. First off, 28 Days Later blew my freakin’ mind. Apocalyptic, telling, thought-and-feel-provoking, the plot was maddeningly simple almost edging absurdity but delivered so well I didn’t care. Belief suspended, I was shoved inside, and the cinematography… astounding. Very visually stimulating, and I’m not talking explosions and the blood-puking “infected,” but the long shots of a deserted London and the terror-desolation in the expressions of the survivors. I could eat those images for hours.

And just as the protagonist Jim realizes something is terribly wrong, the soundtrack cuts into Godspeed You Black Emperor!’s “East Hastings”—recently on a GYBE! kick, I’d been listening to that song at least once a day all week, and hearing it then… UGH. I damn near passed out. Really, truly brilliant. I own very few movies because I always thought that strange; I can’t watch them repeatedly, at least not enough to warrant buying them. But I’m definitely picking this up when it once it hits DVD.

My Fourth of July was thoroughly enjoyable (Happy Birthday, America—I still and will always love you). I grilled with some friends and we rented Mighty Ducks (filmed in Minneapolis!), then later we played on the swings at Lake Calhoun and waded in the water while watching late hangers-on lighting fireworks off the beach (it was about two in the morning). Sand sticky-dirty and we didn’t bring a towel, I led the way all sneaky into the courtyard of some nearby condominiums where we washed our feet in a fountain.

Then we just… walked around. It’s something I used to do when I was a kid, something I miss like you wouldn’t believe. Minneapolis parks and water sites at night are so surreal. You can cut out the skyline, disappear in what you swear is really wilderness, insist is otherworldly. I’ve visited these places during the day—down by the Mississippi and in parks loaded with people—but night wandering deep and dark’s a trip in this “city of lakes” that can’t decide, cosmopolitan? or where-this-all-began? before commercial initiative and urban sprawl.

I love Minneapolis, and I love my friends. I truly feel that this is my home. My friend Nathan suggested I head out to Seattle with him this September, something I seriously considered. This decision somewhat hinged on whether I get a real job (and now I have one), but really… I like it here, and I don’t want to leave, at least not for the short long-term. I’ve fallen in love with this city. Besides, if I left, I wouldn’t be in the politically precarious, turning-inside-out state of Minnesota for the 2004 presidential election. This is no joke—I genuinely feel it is my patriotic duty to stay here and vote DFL.

In ever-important music news, the knowledge of The Mars Volta’s first full-length release “De-loused in the Comatorium” somehow escaped me, but my memory managed to jog hey, wait a minute… shouldn’t they have something out by now? and sure enough. I’d throw out some wicked adjectives, but I used up all the good ones when raving about 28 Days Later. Yet though I’m awed and excited by it (excited because I know it shall inspire grand things), I can understand why others might think it too weird to listen to.

I recommend it—highly—but it’s likely an acquired taste. It’s not that avant-garde/post-rock-pretentious, but it’s not easily digestible. Proceed with confidence but do it with caution. And patience. If you allow… these things become a part of you. They become the all of you.

Isn’t it great how I think people actually read this, consider my opinions and suggestions, and occasionally download mp3s or pick up albums? It’s fun.

Lastly but not least, I saw Sasha last night for the third time (yes, I’m spoiled, and yet another reason to love Minneapolis). I’ve never danced so hot and hard in my life. It must have been over a hundred degrees in the Quest—I was wringing sweat out of my tank and soaking my head in a restroom sink. And the music, of course, was loud and wonderful. But this isn’t what I want to talk about. I want to talk about chi.

Last semester I took a once-a-week class in t’ai chi—one that focused on the relaxation and breathing aspects and not the martial applications which no way in hell could be learned in four months much less taught to the lay. I was dubious, of course. Chi. Energy. Life-force, unseen, something I can’t wrap my mind around much less my hands. To strangle it. Because that’s the way am, the way I’ve always been—skeptical, soulless, solid.

But I am an anxious person, ridiculously so, stressed-out and worrisome with a metabolism through the roof that makes me look like a heroin fiend. I needed one more credit to graduate and figured some tension release techniques would be useful, and they were. I… “felt” things while doing t’ai chi and qigong, almost immediately, and they were very positive, however strange, and however much I questioned them, reduced them to science. The energy is heat. The tingling, the friction.

Towards the end of the semester, this positive feeling shifted, not so much in the form (the actual t’ai chi), but with the qigong, a related exercise. T’ai chi is like a dance—organic yet scripted, you do this then this then this. Qigong has specific movements, but it’s more do-what-you-feel—what feels you.

Though I speak with admittedly limited experience with both practices, qigong seems to require a higher level of relaxation, of letting go, of concentrating on not concentrating on anything, of pushing past that and falling straight into it. Although at first I preferred this activity, in the last half of the semester, qigong made me feel uncomfortable, nauseated and dizzy like I might pass out, and my vision did black over several times. I couldn’t stand to stand so still and I constantly wanted to swipe at my body like bugs crawled all over me.

I didn’t tell my instructor about it because I’d’ve felt stupid. He was a great guy but also somewhat intimidating, very intense, and I just didn’t want to bring it up, partially for that reason but also because I didn’t believe in it. Didn’t really know if it were true and wouldn’t’ve, couldn’t’ve accepted anyway that something was going on and that something was wrong. Off. Negative.

What makes this especially interesting is that this was in the thick of my kidney troubles—and hey, guess where chi centers. In the kidneys. Friends in the class made fun of me for this. Said my chi was evil, at least very sick, and I guess it was—unwell, that is. Backing up building excruciating pressure stabbing me to the floor screaming for hours nearly once a week for months.

The class ended mid-May, and I’ve since practiced the full form only a couple times. But whenever I dance… qigong comes back to me along with pieces of t’ai chi—and all of it’s full-force positive, and positively amazing. It’s not a decision hey, this would be kinda neat I can’t control it, it just comes over me, and it feels so right, and good.

Though I’ve forgotten the finer parts of the movements, the movements haven’t forgotten me, happening spontaneously and I let them push through, let them guide my motion already frenzied, calm- and complementing my crazy dancing. It’s unbelievable. I’ve always held dancing as the highest I can feel, the closest I can get to getting away from, getting inside everything, of losing control yet being in total, of feeling connected and coming close to dangerous words like spiritual. Like soul and god and sacred. And now I feel like I better understand it.

I know how to manipulate this screaming pulsing shaking mad feeling and I know how to allow it to manipulate me.

I’m good right now, I’m good, but I’ve also been going through a lot of sideline anxiety, little things preoccupying, reminding they’re connected to legitimate concerns as I realize… trends I thought five years ago I’d eventually break away from are not patterns I can change but blueprints to my personality and how I live my life. I’m conflicted. I know this. But I also know so much of what I feel is really only mental, and I how I choose to think about things, to deal or not deal, will dictate my state of being. Let in stupid bullshit? or just let it go, and I let it go, and I physically know it.

I physically feel powerful when I play with my chi, because it tells me. I am okay. Makes me aware of my whole self—physical, mental, emotional, spiritual, and past, present, and future. Tapping in last night was the most intense experience I’ve ever had. Think I’m talking shit too poetic and abstract? trust, I think I’m way gone, too. But it’s true, it happened, and I’m still learning from and feeling it, tingling across my body and slipping off in waves.

…And I suppose freaking a wall of speakers for four hours had a lot to do with it. 😀 I could write another thousand words on how music itself affects and plays into this, but I already wrote a book about it, and this Sunday fine has other attractions.

Thanks for reading, all. I hope this finds you well.