Unleashed Potential

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Location: Chicago, IL, United States

Monday, August 28, 2006

An Autumnal Haiku

The day grows darker
As the docent lumbers on
New awakening

Thursday, August 24, 2006

Music Review: The Futurist

My favorite Spaniard, Miguel, gave me Robert Downey Jr.'s album, The Futurist, the other day. Given my infatuation with both RDJ and jazz, it's only appropriate that I review it here.

RDJ is not what one would consider a smooth singer. But then again, neither was Armstrong. That's the beauty of jazz/blues. It's not about the sound, but the soul of the music. It is only appropriate that his voice is raw and gritty, because he sings of life's raw and gritty quandaries.

Listening to RDJ's album is like reading his personal diary. He mourns lost love, but then finds it again. There are refrains that harken to the Serenity Prayer (surely a reflection upon his drug rehabilitation efforts). Most of the songs are written in stream-of-consciousness, adding yet another dimension to the lyrical prose he is trying to achieve.

The songs are not preachy, but more like therapy and reflection. It's widely known that this man has his demons. In fact, we all have our own demons in life. Unlike most of us, he doesn't try to hide the skeletons. On the contrary, they're out of the closet and staring us in the face. I give him a tremendous amount of credit for owning up to life's predicaments and all that follow.

I leave you with the lyrics to the last song on the album, the only which RDJ did not write. The song was originally composed by Charlie Chaplin, and is one of my personal favorites. (Aside - The best cover of Smile, personally, is Lyle Lovett's rendition.)


Smile though your heart is aching.
Smile even though it’s breaking.
When there are clouds in the sky, you’ll get by,
if you smile through your fear and sorrow.
Smile and maybe tomorrow
you’ll see the sun come shining through for you.
Light up your face with gladness.
Hide every trace of sadness,
although a tear may be ever so near.
That’s the time you must keep on trying.
Smile, what’s the use of crying?
You’ll find that life is still worthwhile,
if you just smile.

Sunday, August 20, 2006

Law & Order Meets the Muppets

Dorky? Perhaps...but an amusing way to start your work week. Mondays are hard enough to get through. Might as well start the day with the Muppets like you did when you were a kid.

Don't kid yourself. We all loved Sesame Street and The Muppet Show. And if you didn't, then there must be something seriously wrong with you.

Saturday, August 19, 2006


I been enjoying the feedback I've been receiving on my journal. Everyone is more than welcome to leave comments. I've enabled anonymous commenting, so you don't even need to sign up for an account. Please feel free to say hello!! Just don't forget to tell me who you are. Or else I'm just going to assume you're one of my many secret admirers.

Thursday, August 17, 2006

It's All Relative

"You know I've seen a lot of what the world can do...
hope you make a lot of nice friends out there."
~C. Stevens

Family. It's an interesting phenomenon to consider. Most other animals raise their young to a certain age, and then release them out into the wilderness to fend for themselves. However, humans create families out of this cluster of relatives connected by genes and blood. This family provides social, intellectual, emotional, economical and other means of support. Well, if you're lucky, they do. Not all of us are blessed to have a support system created for us by nature. Unfortunately, we don't get to pick our lineage.

Some anthropologists are starting to classify the notion of "blood" metaphorically, and that many societies understand 'family' through other concepts rather than through genetics. I think this concept is intriguing. You see, I don't think family should be limited to those who are biologically linked to you. I think your family can consist of a myriad of individuals.

In my life, I have many people who I consider to be family. I am very close with my biological family and am lucky in that regard. They provide a bedrock that is unwavering and reliable. I can turn to them and I know that they will be there for me.

However, there are other people in my life that I consider to be my family. There are those friends who you know will always be there for you with their unconditional friendship/love. They know everything about you and love you just the same. (You know who you are, and I am eternally grateful. LYLAT.)

Then there are those who support you through your different phases in your life. I call them your "Metamorphosis Friends". They are going through the same situation and understand what you're going through. From college, to living in the city, to working, to law school...they are there for you. And if you're lucky, they'll be there for you as you move onto another stage in your ever-changing life.

I made dinner for some friends the other night. It was a simple affair. We sat around the table and chatted about our day. We shared our disappointments, successes...teasing and laughter ensued. While they may not share my genes, they certainly felt like family to me.

Monday, August 14, 2006

(Literally) Sweating My Butt Off

Those of you who know me, know that I'll try just about anything once. Case in point: Bikram Yoga.

What is Bikram Yoga, you ask? According to Mr. Bikram himself, it is a curative method of yoga therapy. In reality, it's 90 minutes of gut-wrenching poses in a room that's heated to 105° F. The heat is supposed to loosen the muscles and enable you to reach more positions than if you were in a normal yoga class. The inevitable sweating induced by the heat is supposed to release toxins (and I'm told will make my skin "glow"). I danced ballet for 12 years of my life, but I was never the most flexible of people. I also have a tendency to get over-stressed due to law school and life in general. So I thought that Bikram could be a way to kill two birds with one stone.

I can already hear my mother saying "What in the hell are you thinking?". You see, as a child, I used to pass out when the summer months would bring on the heat. Call me a fragile flower, but I spent a lot of time hanging out in the air-conditioning during August.

Well, the first class was slightly traumatic. To begin, it started at 6 AM. That's right, I said AM. Those of you who have had the pleasure of witnessing Jess in the morning know just how well I do in the early hours (read: crabby and non-social). However, I decided to start doing this workout in the wee hours, hoping to perhaps swing my Circadian rhythm to a different beat.

You begin class by laying down face up in a darkened room, waiting for the instructor to come in and start up the class. It fools you into thinking "This isn't going to be so bad", because your pulse is normal and the room hasn't really begun to heat up yet. Oh no. The instructor will continually raise the temperature as the class progresses, until it reaches that blessed 105°, saying things like "Raise your right foot way up over your head while reaching forward with your left arm, like you're a human bow & arrow." (pose #6)

Riiiiight...no problem.

Add to this that your body is sweating like there is no tomorrow. The sweat is dripping in places it's never dripped before (Ever head sweat in your ears? No? I don't really suggest it.). Your pulse is racing and you can't catch a cool breath.

I involuntarily invented a new position that morning: The porcelain prayer. Yup. There's a reason that they tell you to come to the class on an empty stomach, as I found out that morning. NOT a good way to start the day. The instructor tells me that it's a normal reaction for first-timers, and it may be some repression expressing itself from when I was a kid and passing out in the heat. Yeah...not so sure about that one.

Well, you may be surprised to learn that I returned to that class and many more (thanks, Dima). My Bikram friends assured me that it would get better, and it has. It's still not the easiest thing I've done, but I find myself looking forward to it each time. I haven't vomited since the first class, and I'm getting more flexible. I sleep better. My lower back isn't killing me like it usually does. My skin is, in fact, kind of glowy. So I think I'll stick with it for awhile and see how it goes.

Who knows. Maybe I'll be able to knock down that bow & arrow pose after all.

Thursday, August 03, 2006

En Archi in o Logos

I grew up in a small town. Therefore, I have an appreciation for the peace and quiet that the stillness in life can afford. Granted, as a typical teenager I was screaming to get out of the sleepy little town. But now as I go back and visit, I recognize that it holds a special place in my heart. It has its own charm that is quirky and endearing, and I enjoy having it as my own little adytum.

On the other hand...Chicago. Wow, what an amazing city. I have a love/hate relationship with the Second City. The winters are cold and depressing and sometimes it is too noisy to hear myself think. However, the summers make up for all that is lost during the snow and slush that takes over the city for far too long. The culture and diversity that flow through these streets are transcendent. Every day I seem to discover something new to explore in this urban jungle.

From small town beginnings to the big city, I consider myself fortunate to have made some wonderful connections with amazing people. Each has taught me a life lesson in their own way. A friend and I had a discussion the other day observing how the more we learn, the more we realize we don't know anything. The seemingly contradictory statement makes perfect sense to me. This blog will be a bit story telling and a bit metacognitive, but mostly a reflection of my path through this journey we call life.