The Infinite Abyss

Called the Infinite Abyss as a reference to the movie "Garden State," this is the blog of a 24-year-old, single guy in Kentucky--about his life, current events, travel, work, sports, essentially anything.

My Photo
Location: Bowling Green, Kentucky, United States

At twenty-four years, I have seen too little of the world yet. Raised in southern Kentucky, on catfish and sweet tea, I've learned to balance my upbringing with liberal thoughts. Surprisingly, they cohabit peacefully. Traveling internationally is what I love most. If I could do anything for the next year, I'd backpack abroad. But instead, I work in higher education for my alma mater and am a graduate student for the next two years; I love both realities. Eventually, I want to work for a study abroad program.

Sunday, April 09, 2006

I says, "waiter there's a fly in my soup," he says, "what's the matter did you order a mosquito?" I says "waiter whats this fly doin in my soup?"

I have no idea what's going on.


What's happened? I suddenly don't recognize my hometown. It's gotten so freaking cool over the past 72 hours that I can hardly contain myself. And the fear of it returning to normal idleness is looming and dreadful, and I know, inevitable.

First off, on Thursday night the Revolution, WKU's student radio station, put on their annual free concert. This year, they moved it to Fountain Square Park--a nice choice. I got out of class on Thursday night, late, of course, and went straight to the park with a friend. We didn't stay long, but the crowd was good and may I say that a streetscape is the perfect place to feature this concert. Present were headliner Andrew Thompson, Vilejive, The Wayward, Sound and Shape, Laromlab, Commander, Ocelots, Decade of Expert Assassins, Blue Collar Boys, My Finest Hour, and The Secret.

THEN, last night Nickel Creek played the Capitol Arts Center, approximately 100 yards from where this huge concert had occurred two days earlier. Aside from Ray LaMontagne's Bonnaroo 2005 show, this concert was the height of any live performance I've ever seen. They played for almost two and a half hours! The crowd was good, and it just seemed that Sarah, Sean, and Chris were feeling it. The encore was incredible. First, Sarah came out alone. She crooned and the place was silent for her. I was on the edge of my seat. Then, she sat down on the stage and Chris came out and played a solo piece and then Sean finished that up. They then played three more songs. It was incredible. At one point, I was thinking, this'll be the end of the show and then Sarah said, "You guys can leave if you want. You realize the shows over and this is all just extra right?" Througout the night, their songs melted into their own version of Brittney Spears' "Toxic" which was AWESOME, and "The Weight" by The Band (which is the song that starts with, "I pulled into Nazareth, I was feeling about half past dead..."), and even Bach.

About the time the encore was wrapping up, I got a text message from a friend: "(guy's house), 2nite.. word is andrew thompson will b there. call 4 more info! Party!" OK, so now the headliner from Thursday night's show was going to play at some guy's house up the street? No way. Well, way.

Well after the show, on my way to see Andrew Thompson, I swung back by the Capitol to see if the Nickel Creek had left yet. There they all stood. I met Chris Thile, stood toe-to-toe with the Grammy winner, the guy who's all over my ipod like butter on bread, and though some honey on his arm had most of his attention, he did manage to talk to me for a couple of minutes. I invited him to see Andrew Thompson, which he declined because "I have to walk my friend here back to her car, but I sure do appreciate it."

Oh, and Matt Pond opened and they were awesome.

On a somewhat related note, rumor has turned into credible speculation, and now confirmation that the Maya Angelou will be speaking at WKU this Fall. And now, still in the rumor phase, word is that Barack Obama may also be visiting next year. I really don't know what has happened, but something about my hometown just got really, really cool.

GO HERE, now, doing yourself a favor, and watch the Andrew Thompson video for "There Must Be Some Kind of Misunderstanding."

I says, "waiter there's a fly in my soup,"
He says, "what's the matter did you order a mosquito?"
I says "waiter whats this fly doin in my soup?"
"well it looks like he's doin' the backstroke"
"ooh la la, well excuse moi, there must be some kind of misunderstanding."

I says "ah, waiter there's a guy in my soup."
He says, "you know who that is that's the Dow Jones' average."
"Waiter, what's Dow Jones doing in my soup? "
"Well it looks like he's filing his taxes."
"ooh la la, well excuse moi, there must be some kind of misunderstanding."

"Waiter, there's a condundrum in my soup."
"That's no conundrum, that's Montgomery Clift."
"Waiter, what's Mr. Clift doing in my soup?"
"Well it looks like he's taking a mulligan."
"ooh la la, well excuse moi, there must be some kind of misunderstanding."

Monday, March 20, 2006

Spread Thin

Today, I was talking to a good friend. It came up that I now weigh 195 pounds. First, with guys, there is no secretness with weight. It's something that comes up about once a year in conversation much the same way one might discuss how many miles to the gallon their car is getting. Now, it's not that I'm fat; I am 6'1" after all, which means that 195 pounds makes me tall, thin, with some hang over flab around the belly is all. But, his reaction was one of shock: "you're kidding!" he said. "No, I'm not." No one believes this about me. In fact, I didn't believe it about me when at a Halloween party in October, I stepped on my host's scales in the bathroom and looked in horror as the scale was sitting on the 200 mark. I went immediately to my parent's house after that night and tried their scales too. How did I get that heavy? And, when? And, where is it all hiding? I mean, I still look the same... only I've gained 20 pounds in a half a year.

Just this past week, I stepped into a crowded elevator in a line of others and at some point, the elevator shifted under someone's weight. I secretly knew it was me. I was with a group of colleagues, so I jovially made a comment, like, "I knew I shouldn't have had that second plate at lunch." A sweet lady near the back said, "like you'll make any difference. Look how thin you are." But, I didn't dare let out in an elevator that I'm busting the deuce.

With all this being said, while my stomach is stealthily becoming robust, my time is seeping away. I am spread too thin. Today's the day where I realized things are almost out of my hands with too much to do and not enough time to do it. There are work duties: I'm about to embark upon the meat of a task I've never done before--which means fear, real fear, of what I'm about to get myself into.

Then, there is school. Oh, school. Why did I think I could take 9 hours this semester? Why? Today I sat in a parking lot in Paris, KY, figuring out how much time I've completed in my 150 hour Practicum and figuring out how much this leaves me. Though the semester is more than half over, my practicum hours are less than 1/3 done. Ouch. So, I set to work trying to solve this problem. By May 11, how could I accumulate 150 hours? I looked first for time off, then there is that trip I'm taking with my on-site supervisor--does time in the car count? sure it does!--there are the meetings that we're scheduled to have each week between now and then, the sessions I'm covering in front of new students... It started coming together! That is, until I realized I had counted my trip to NKU twice. With great doom, it became clear that likely I'm going to have to give up something very important to me until May 11: lunch. From now until then, one hour in the middle part of my day is going to have to be spent out of the office and not with food, but instead in another office. This really bothered me until I realized maybe it's the solution to two of my problems.

Tuesday, March 14, 2006

Perfect Timing

What controls us? Happenstance? Karma? Or us?

I drew a bathtub full of hot water. The lights went off. I grabbed a towel to use as a pillow. As the water neared the tub's edge, I poured some shampoo in to just make enough bubbles to cover the surface of the water. I grabbed my laptop and turned Media Player off shuffle mode.

Something happened today that needs recognizing. I had my ipod playing in the car and on came a David Gray song. I was driving on this empty highway in the mountains. The sky today was a blazing blue marked by shreds of cumulus, the blissful wake of all of yesterday's storms. The road snaked between Cumberland and Harlan, following the path of the Cumberland River, winding in between the southern flank of Pine Mountain and the northern slopes of Black Mountain.

My entire life I've been fascinated with maps. When I was a kid, I would literally spend an hour or more sitting with the Rand McNally Atlas studying my own state--frequently. And, occassionally, I still do. I used to look at place names in the eastern part of the state, the parks, the forests, the mountains, and the towns, imagining what they must be like. The mountains, majestic, cloaked at the top by fog. The towns, haggard, tired, dirty, and children barefoot in the yard just like on Feed the Children. The forests, long, endless, enchanted and virgin. And the parks, with names like Kingdom Come, were like fantasies in my mind.

These places are not what I had imagined. A young mind has a way of creating fantastic things and awful things alike. Take for example the people in these not-so-haggard, but sometimes, village-esque towns: they're not lacking anything except an interstate highway in their town. But sometimes, reality, as plain as it is, just dazzles you. That is what happened today. Real life won out over fantasy.

Driving, today, I watched the clouds paint their shadows across the mountain sides. I raced cloud shadow lines down the highway, finally winning out and driving into a sudden muted light and as quickly back into the intense sunlight.

Water from yesterday's storms was pouring off the cuts in the mountainsides. The roadsides were filled with glinting waterfalls.

Someone asked me today about Bowling Green: "do you have tornadoes there?"
"Yes, sometimes. Why, do you not here?"
"No. We have floods. The mountains protect us from tornadoes."
Another person spoke up. "I remember one time a tornado touched down in Harlan. It knocked over a tree."

How fascinating. No tornadoes. And when they do hit, they make news for knocking over a tree. But floods, and yes, floods indeed. Even the little bit of rain from yesterday had sent the Cumberland River into a kayaker's dream. The water muddy, churning where it wasn't white.

And as I drove on more, it happened. David Gray came on via random shuffle from my ipod, and I realized I had never heard this obscure song. Everything came together. The day, the sense of bringing a picture to a map, and something I've always wanted to see happened to stand on the side of the road as I drove by--a moose!

I questioned where the music of David Gray had been in my life, and felt that clearly it had waited to define this moment for me. Tonight, as I finished drawing my bath, I brought the computer into the bathroom and played "Life in Slow Motion" as I fell asleep, legs outstretched in hot water, head resting on the pillow towel.

Sunday, March 05, 2006

Photos from the past week

Regatta, Sand Key/Clearwater

After one of my aforementioned therapy sessions

Morning at the Belleview Biltmore with the old oaks and cedars

Sunset at Pier 60

A perfect beach in Tarpon Springs

The Belleview Biltmore Resort... my highest recommendations (just don't take the ghost tour, but do visit the far west wing of the fourth floor)

Monday, February 27, 2006

The Gulf of Mexico is my therapist

If the saying is true that if a bird shits on you, you're going to have a lucky day, then the saying must also be true that if a seagull shits on you, you're going to have a lucky day at the beach.

Yesterday I was shit on by a seagull at Clearwater Beach, FL. It didn't matter, though. Life has been way too perfect the past few days. I've been on a business trip to the Bay area of Florida and may I just say, I have never, ever been so happy to be working.

I'd never been to the Tampa Bay area before, so it's been a new experience. Upon landing, I picked up my car at the airport and a Latin music station was on. I HAVE TOTALLY ADOPTED LATIN MUSIC as my genre of choice now. I haven't understood a single word, but I love the beat as I'm driving around south Florida. It defines the beat of this area. Urban, yet beachy. Busy, yet relaxed. From Tampa Bay, but for a non-English speaking audience. It has seriously gotten to the point where now a song comes on and I'm like, "I LOVE THIS SONG!" even though I have no idea what it's called, who it's by, or even one single lyric. Noventa-dos punta cinco FM (92.5)!

Here's what my days have been comprised of for the past four days:
1. work
2. beach

For the past four days, I've spent each evening on the beach at Clearwater. For the past four days, I have set on the sand where the ocean meets the land and watched the sun go into a big orange ornament over the Gulf of Mexico, then disappear. There have been four perfect sunsets in a row (tonight's arguably the most perfect) and I have been witness to each. There is something so clearing of the mind about watching the sunset, especially alone, to just have that time to reflect and to think about tomorrow and to stare up at the cirrus clouds in the sky over your head after the sun has sank below the water and watch the clouds then go bright orange, then red, then purple, and then disappear into a nighttime sky. It's theraputic. It's forgiving, cleansing, and brings back an innocence and reminds one of the satisfying complexity of the world. It's the time to let the mind wonder. And, when all this wondering is done, it's time to get up, walk across the boardwalk with the street performers throwing flames and juggling swords, past their crowds, with the children up front laughing and parents in back, dad with his arms around mom, and past all the vendors selling hemp jewelry and shell necklaces, and young boyfriends and girlfriends, and the adult couple who's in a new relationship, him playing the guitar for her and them together wrapped up in a blanket of privacy. All of this has made me very happy the past few days. All of this has made me feel very clear-headed. All of this makes me want to stay on for another four days. All of this makes me wonder why I never watch the sunset over the hills at home in Kentucky.

Wednesday, February 22, 2006

One year review

I realized yesterday I missed the one-year anniversary of my kickoff of this blog. The "birthday" passed about two weeks ago. I feel it important to recognize this.

About a week ago, I sat with a new friend telling her about my blog. "What kinds of things do you put on there?" she asked. "Is it like a day-to-day account of what happened?"

This question was very good and cut exactly to the point that I've always tried to avoid with this site. I never wanted it to be a reflection of what I did, but rather a reflection of things I thought and to help me develop thoughts better. As a result, I feel as though I've had a couple of shining moments as a writer where I told a great story and hopefully made someone who happened upon it think. My favorite entry was probably about the bug-in-the-kid's ear.

Here are some things I've noticed about this site:
1. Commenting is dead. I used to get loads of comments. No one comments anymore. I take responsibility for this. Clearly, my writing sucks now and I'm not engaging anyone. Maybe its the fact that I've stopped posting free music downloads each day. Maybe its the fact that I rarely post pictures of myself on the Price is Right anymore. Maybe I've pissed you off through something I've written or an actual attrocity I've committed against you in real life. But, if so, please let me know. Say something mean in my comment section. I won't care. Really.

2. I get a hell of a lot of hits from the photo I once posted of Amelie (Audrey Tautou) from google images. This proves my point that she is the world's most perfect woman.

3. My favorite hits are ones that involve people finding my site for some really weird, twisted searches. What is going through people's minds? But for whatever reason, they end up browsing around for a while.

4. Though I've sank to occassionally making this a diaryish "then I did this, and then..." account, I've tried to actually supply some form of intelligence occassionally. But honestly, at the onset of publishing posts, I would think about it a lot... what will I write tonight? Now, though, I sat down at my computer a minute ago needing to write a proposal for a research project that's due tomorrow night and I realized, I don't really want to do that. I think I'll visit dericoky.blogspot and write something.

5. Though I've thought about letting this blog go, I keep it. Even though most of the people on my "I give these people half their hits" list are now no longer active bloggers (where are you guys?) and I miss the community of reading what everybody had to say each day, I've always thought of writing here as something I do for myself, not for others. But there's no doubt that my writing has grown scarcer as time has gone along. I suppose there is something that makes writing for an audience a little more commital.

Sunday, February 19, 2006

Atlanta: February 2006

photo credit: National Park Service (

When I lived in northern Kentucky one thing I was constantly amazed with was the history that took place in the area. I remember thinking after I moved into my apartment on a bluff over the Ohio River--I wonder if any slaves ever crossed the river here. As a resident of the area, especially late in my residency of Kenton County, I became increasingly more and more curious and began to seek answers to the area's history. I learned loads of things I'd always been curious about, but perhaps the most shocking thing of all that I learned from this experience is that I had a real interest in Black American history, namely the Underground Railroad, and within the past few days, I've had another breakthrough: I love studying Martin Luther King, Jr. as well.

Now, what's it matter? I'm white. I'm male. I'm Christian. I'm straight. I'm exactly what American society points out should be easiest. Heck, to add to my demographics, I'm even college-educated and employed. But the truth is, I'm not content to just enjoy this. I feel some great homage to things that came before me and struggles that people unlike me faced. I just do. And, I'll add, I'm very glad that I do. I don't understand why I feel this relationship to this rather important volume of history, because I've rarely had to struggle for anything in my life.

Last weekend I had to go to Atlanta for work. I went down very early Saturday and my plans for the day fell through. It turned out to be the most serendipitous event I've experienced in a long time. I first dropped off a friend on the north side of town and then proceeded downtown to be a tourist for the day. I parked my car and set out downtown on foot, quite amazed by Atlanta. The last time I was there (besides passing through the airport as seemingly most flights do) was when I was about 14. The skyline seemed to scream wealth, power, and an in-yo'-face-American-dominance that I didn't realize existed in the city. My footsteps led me to a predominantly black district of the city where Underground Atlanta is. As I walked, I put on my gloves and buttoned up the top button of my coat. I watched fog come out of everyone's mouth. The street was filled with screaming pedestrians, families out and about, and in every window it seemed someone was getting their hair done. The urban beat of the city was penetrating me with a chill of exicitement. I took the steps down under the streets into the food court and ate Chinese in a line where a framed Coretta Scott King picture sat in rememberance on the glass case above the Lo Mein with cut, dying flowers around it. There was an employee who stood yelling for passer-bys to stop and try the special. His selling line was "we serve real chicken here, folks. No chunks, no kibbles-n-bits, nothing but the best chicken." As a reverse effect, this kind of disgusted me, but I was really hungry for Chinese so I stayed in the line. Aside from that, this guy spouted off political opinion as if he were a recording device playing back the real blowing lines he'd heard from the news. It was great to see such a public display of biting political criticism. It made me question, even if we are afraid that people around us will disagree with what we say, why are we still so afraid to say it? The food was great. I sat and felt the urban beat absorb me and ate my food alone at a table in a place where I was the minority for a change. Perhaps more than anything, that's what felt good sinking into my skin.

I visited the Coca-Cola Museum, which is an anecdote that doesn't belong in this post and then truly felt a power of the city when I walked into the CNN Plaza later that afternoon. But it was hours later, after I'd gotten back in my car that serendipity struck.

During the afternoon, the wind had picked up even more and a few snow flakes were flying around in the air. I got in my car, studied a map, and felt confident I knew how to get to my hostel (even though I was on business, I wanted the experience of staying in an American hostel--I ended up sharing a room that night with a Norweigan, an Argentinan, and a guy from New Zealand). I started down Auburn Avenue from downtown and thought I was heading the right way, but the further I went the more I doubted my navigation. I went below an underpass where there were rows of homeless people lying in the cold with their pile of stuff beside them. There must have been 100 homeless individuals here. As I emerged from the dark, I passed by a convenient mart with barred windows where police cars and an ambulance were parked in the street outside with their lights going--something had happened. I kept my eyes ahead of me and concentrated on street names, trying to re-picture the map of downtown in my head. I was behind a Caprice that was painted purple and had black tinted window and had hydraulics and spinners on its tires. As I drove up a small hill, I noticed a crowd of people on the sidewalk in an area that I only caught out of my peripheral, but imagined it to be a school. I drove on and the neighborhood suddenly improved by leaps and bounds and suddenly I was at an intersection with a National Park sign. Confused, I sat in the intersection and read the sign. MARTIN LUTHER KING, JR. BIRTHPLACE NEIGHBORHOOD

I parked the car, got out, feeling something very good about what had just happened. I had gotten lost and had ended up at a site I didn't know existed, but was exactly where I wanted to be. I walked down the street and looked at the homes, the places where MLK's boyhood friends lived, where the corner store was where he bought candy, and finally the house where he was born. I looked at a picture of Martin Luther King, Jr. standing with his own children on a spot in front of his boyhood home where I had just stood myself staring up at the porch swing and the windows moments earlier. The wind stirred in my ears and I held my cheeks in my hands as I walked around.

I got in my car and drove down the street and this is where it really happened--the biggest surprise, where my getting lost really paid off. I realized that what I had caught a glimpse of earlier wasn't a school, but instead was The King Center. I parked my car down by Ebenezer Baptist Church, where MLK's father preached, and later MLK himself would get his start as both a reverend and an activist. I walked the street and realized that the crowd I'd seen earlier at The King Center was gathered there for a reason--Coretta Scott King had been entombed there days earlier only yards away from MLK himself. I walked up the steps in amazement at my lucky stumble. The wind suddenly howled and snow came flying in. The sky to the west cracked and downtown Atlanta, a mile or so away, suddenly lit up like a glittering sea at sunset. The moment held a spirit I will never forget. I stood at Mrs. King's gravesite first, staring off across it, across Auburn Ave at the flying snow. Then, I stepped over to the water that seperated me from MLK's island tomb. There were lots of others there, but I felt so alone. In all the wind, no voices carried to me; it seemed silent. I sat down on the water's edge and put the tips of my finger in the water and spent a long time. I stared across the blue water, across the tomb, across the trees and the flying snow, to the glittering city a mile off in the waning sunlight and felt I had discovered why the city had seemed so powerful to me.


Today, I laid on the sofa a week and a day later and watched a documentary on King's life. I watched black-and-white footage of marching from Selma to Montgomery, through Cicero, saw the stills of the moment after he was hit with a thrown brick. I watched video from his last birthday at Ebenezer Baptist Church, saw his influence in Washington, LA, Chicago, Memphis, Mississippi, and in Alabama. And knowing what was coming didn't make the moment any less poignant than when the documentary featured that last speech he made in Memphis, when he closed with the following:

Well, I don't know what will happen now. We've got some difficult days ahead. But it doesn't matter with me now. Because I've been to the mountaintop. And I don't mind. Like anybody, I would like to live a long life. Longevity has its place. But I'm not concerned about that now. I just want to do God's will. And He's allowed me to go up to the mountain. And I've looked over. And I've seen the promised land. I may not get there with you. But I want you to know tonight, that we, as a people, will get to the promised land. And I'm happy, tonight. I'm not worried about anything. I'm not fearing any man. Mine eyes have seen the glory of the coming of the Lord.

Chills ran up my body and tears came to my eyes this morning as I watched this. Though I felt I knew the words, have heard them altered and in sound bytes my entire life, this was the first time I had seen with what spirit he delivered them with. As he closed with that very last sentence, he basically just fell back into a chair. People fell around him to shake his hand. The audience seemed positively electric.

In one month, work will take me south again--this time to Memphis. Having visited Memphis before, having seen Graceland, there are two sites I'm aching to see. I'll spend the day at the National Civil Rights Museum and I'll visit the Lorraine Motel. And maybe someday, the need for all of this history that doesn't belong to me will cease. But for whatever reason, right now, it's strong and real and feels like I need to own up to it--even if I am a white stereotype.