"I know now what I knew then, but I didn't know then what I know now." This is a line from the Modest Mouse song whose title I borrowed for this entry. Think about all that you know at this moment in time; did you know it all last year? Unless you are taking a class or studying a language, odds are you haven't learned much (in the formal sense of the word). There are of course many types of learning, and in this crazy world we are all teachers and students together.
So what have you learned in the past year? What have I learned? I am talking about all kinds of learning, both a personal type of selfknowing as well as the formal kind of study. A year is a long time, and I think with a bit of effort I could come up with a large list of things I did not know on June 23rd, 2009.
For example, I know that I am not someone who feels fully comfortable at parties like the one I went to last week. It was a free event for Stuff Magazine's food issue sponsored by DonQ rum. The yuppies were flopping and smiling all around; I saw perhaps a handful of people that I might enjoy talking to. I won't pretend I had much fun or that I was there for any reason other than to get free food and drink (as you can see from the picture below, courtesy of stuff's website).
The rum drinks were fruity, strong, and not very good, though they did have some tasty cheeses and good appetizers. Short ribs and mashed potatoes in a savory ice cream cone, tasty but trying a bit too hard with the presentation. Little cheese and olive flatbread pizza-ish bites, with dressed greens on top, were also good.
It just seemed like a party where people pretend to have fun so that other people who are also pretending to have fun can see them doing the same. Maybe some people were having fun, and maybe I am being a bit harsh. But I know that it was not my scene, and I don't know if it ever will be. On a similar note, the VIP tent at concerts, at least at the Bank of America Pavillion, is over rated and kind of lame. The best part of the vip access that Jill and I enjoyed at the State Radio/John Butler Trio concert, besides the amazing 6th row seats, was the vip bathrooms. Seriously, no free stuff, no meeting of the bands, and the bartender at the vip bar wouldnt even give me a cup to get water from the bathroom with. but it's all good, because the reason that most people came, not the vip tent or the drinking, but the music, kicked some serious arse.
So, besides that fact that I don't want to be a yuppie, what else have I learned in the past year? I learned how to read, write, and most importantly speak some Arabic. I know that walking on the beach with two women I love makes time slow down. I learned how to change a tube on my bike and how to prolong a torn bike tire's life (put a dollar bill on the inside of the tear, between the tire wall and the tube). I learned how to appreciate the smell, its clean earthy aromas, of my Mommy's compost, and how much that differs from the stinky and chemically smelling mulch that was spread in front of the buildings the length of my block. The difference? The source, of course.
That mulch came from a big company that mass produces a uniform finished product. The only company that made my Mommy's compost was that of the worms, bugs, and other critters in her back yard. Small and local is the way to go. It is the same thing with food.
After almost three years of living in Boston, in September I hope to finally find my niche as a member of the Verndale cooperative. The idea? Low impact, low cost, friendly communal living with like-minded folks. A compost bin is in the works too, with approval from the landlord secured. Things are looking up. They always should be, really, because there is always something good to look forward to. It is waiting for you, just around the bend and over the brook. It could be a potluck dinner party, a bike ride in the cool of a summer's dusk, a good boook waiting on your bedside table, a cold beer to refresh the body after a long day of hard work, or a beach picnic of local strawberries, cold curried rice salad, and cheese humus and tomato sandwiches. Whatever it is, remember to take pleasure in the simple things in life and don't cry over spilled milk. Or spoiled milk.