|Friday, October 11th, 2019|
17.31 - Gender, what a concept!
This is an essay I wrote but never shared after *last* year's #ComingOutDay. I touched it up a little, but it's still very rough (I've learned a lot since then and am still learning!). I tried to keep it personal, about myself, and not making proclamations for others (I can get carried away, though). And then I was like, where the hell would I ever post an entire intact essay in this day and age? Unless...
(hi again, LJ)
Gender is a ridiculous concept, on the face of it. These toys/clothes/jobs are only for people born with this set of genitals, and these other toys/clothes/jobs are only for people born with THIS set of genitals (lord/lady/liege help you if you're born with both). And the distinction is VERY important and NE'ER the twain shall meet.
The whole idea, viewed from the outside, is laughable. It's ridiculous and a complete social construct, like capitalism or national boundaries. And yet, we're not on the outside, and societal constructs have real impacts. We live in a society that is deeply, frustratingly, idiotically, and yet incredibly stubbornly persistently gendered. The absolutely arbitrary, completely made-up and farcical rules are rigidly, constantly, vehemently enforced by people who very definitely have better things they could be and probably need to be doing.
I, personally, have never had a use for gender. When I was a kid, I found I was equally able to play with G.I. Joes and Barbies; they both worked just fine in my hands (though I found the Joes made better dancers, due to the articulation). They didn't break or melt or fly from my hands the moment I touched them. I had friends of both genders (both of the ones I was aware of) and those friendships also worked just fine. The boundary lines were always obviously made up and one of those things only adults seemed to really care about. My contemporaries only seemed to care as far as appeasing adults on one of their many, many bizarre fascinations/obsessions; it always seemed as if they made up elaborate games (more 'rule systems,' really) to fill up their time and compensate for the fact they couldn't get away with just flat-out making-believe the way we kids could.
As I grew older, and started attending grade school, other kids seemed like they had started buying into the charade. We gotta do this thing so the adults will take us seriously, maybe? Others were learning they could get a little power from enforcing adults' rules. And then you get peer pressure to stop being so girly or acting like a 'tomboy.' Since I've always been a legendary contrarian, I sided with the Girls when my 3rd grade class decided to do their "Boys vs. Girls" prank war. I think I was mainly excited to have an opportunity to play the spy, because I was already bored by the whole War of the Sexes thing. And like, it pretty much stayed that way, that girls were my best friends / my best friends were girls. I never got into the whole toxic masculinity thing, not til later, at least. I think I saw that I was never gonna be the biggest or the toughest, shrugged, and decided not to bother. Tedious, tedious, tedious.
I didn't realize until way later (way, waaaay later) that there were alternatives. Mainly due to a lack of sympathetic representation in media. At some point, I thought to myself, what do I actually identify MYSELF as? And the response was silence. Like many things in life, I compared it to a moment in Batman the Animated Series. Batman escapes the villain's mind control because, as he reveals to us (by way of his sidekick), that he doesn't think of himself as "Bruce." He identifies as Batman. For me, I realized I don't identify as a gender, any gender. I've always existed in this weird, omni-liminal state of not belonging. Neither fully Black nor white, squarely in between Gen X and Y (I won't use the 'm' word), left-handed but fairly ambidextrous (ambi-sinistral; fuck you, righties). I'm not used to belonging in categories or to labels; what I actually is used to *not* belonging in either. Why should gender be any different? And gender, for me, has always been an external concept; something imposed on me by whoever's viewing me. Gender exists in your perception of me; it occurs in that moment when you observe me and make whatever judgement you're gonna make, and act according to your own perceptions and biases.
That's not how it is for everyone, though. I said earlier that gender is a ridiculous, completely artificial concept, but I also said that we live in a deeply gendered society. As long as that's true, people are going to experience dysphoria, or run up against those imaginary boundaries, or have to fight for their right to self-determination. Just because *I* don't identify as male doesn't mean I don't still benefit from male privilege; I do, and I acknowledge that (I also acknowledge that it's fucked up). But, y'know, it's complicated. As someone AMAB who doesn't put much effort into presenting differently, I make more money than I would as a woman. But as a Black 'male,' I make less money than I would as a white woman. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯
I'm not out here trying to co-opt someone else's struggle. But I have learned to spot the commonalities in the struggles many of us face. I remember reading about manspreading, and hearing from my friends how it made them feel, and the pressure to always feel smaller, the feeling of not being entitled to take up space. And I realized that, I too, felt that way most of the time. Both as a Black American and as someone not socialized with my male privilege. I'm not as loud as I might be, I don't speak up when I maybe ought to. I identified with a lot of the things women around me were saying. Because they're all of our struggles. I thought to myself at one point, "I don't identify as a woman, but I do identify *with* women." Because unless you're cis, white, male, and rich, we're all downhill from the shit coming out of the top of patriarchy's totem pole (totally appropriated, by the way). And, to me, "queer" as an identity is more about acknowledging that we're all on a spectrum and we're all fluid on that spectrum. It's celebrating our differences and affirming each other along our respective journeys towards living authentic lives ("our truth"). It's a condemnation not of heterosexuality/cissexuality but of heteronormativity/cisnormativity; it's a commitment to a world where there's no such thing as "coming out."
So when they come for trans/non-binary/gender non-conforming/intersex people, don't hide. Don't yell about how "this is a distraction" or try to change the subject. Because America has always pretended to be about self-determination. You don't have the right to happiness, but you can definitely pursue it. I know they're out here trying to pull up the rug, haul up the ladders, laugh at us for believing the lie, but we've seen it. We know it's a lie, but we've seen the idea the lie presents, which was their mistake. Because we've seen what could be and we are not going to let that good America, that America (and world, and eventually Federation, hashtag #StarTrekTimes) that could be just vanish. We know it's possible, and THEY know it's possible, so they're terrified, because the lie is how they control us.
So we're gonna lock arms and step forward into the future. One step at a time, but millions of feet with every step, trampling anyone who would stand in the way of that future of justice, and happiness, and self-determination. But it's gotta be all of us. We won't hide, we won't be erased.
3 voices - [mouth|ears]
|Tuesday, April 12th, 2016|
19.43 - Where ya from? :)
The following piece is a monologue I performed for "The Griot Show" last weekend:
I get asked this question a lot:
"Where are you from?" [multiple times, variations]
It's a simple enough question, but there's so much in it.
It's less common now, but when I was a kid, there was almost always an undercurrent of "what's your nationality?" to it.
Or: How did you come to be this particular shade of brown?
Or: WHAT are you?
Even before I knew the concept of a 'microaggression,' I used to get really indignant at the question. My thinking was this: My mom's side of the family has been here since the Potato Famine. In her hometown across the Hudson, there's a grave for one of her earlier ancestors who died in the Civil War. My dad's family has been here a whole hell of a lot longer than that. Where are YOU from? Oh, your family came through Ellis Island? Well, welcome to America. Please try to respect my country while you're here.
At my most self-righteous, I'd identify myself not merely as an American, but a QUINTESSENTIAL American. I AM the melting pot. My family's been here longer than yours, put in more work, and if you're talking Geography (it's clear no one is talking geography by this point), I'm from the dead center of the continental U.S.
I'm glad those questions, or that subtext, rather, has faded with time. At a certain point in my late teens, I noticed a demographic shift. As far as the 'nationality' undercurrent, it was coming mainly from darker-skinned folks who were, in fact, seeking kinship. A lot of people assumed (and still do, since I live uptown) that I'm Dominican. I'm not, but I get it, and the question doesn't make me as angry or exasperated as it used to.
"Where are you from?" [multiple times, variations]
These days, it's more often just simple small-talk. Basic "getting to know you" stuff. Although that still presents plenty of problems for me. Even absent the microaggressive subtext, it's still a deeper question than it seems on the surface. It's another way of asking part of a larger question:
"WHO are you?"
Absent the racial subtext, my youthful self's indignation cools. The nearest I can come to an answer to this version of the question is, "I have no fucking clue." (But that's just between us here, right now.) You can't really get away with that at a bar or a party, not if you want to keep things light and moving along (i.e., not somewhere where you're monologuing, for an audience). I can give a factual answer if I'm OK with coming across as boring:
[mime the pulldown map] I was born in this geographical location, and moved to these various points on the map, and now I'm… here. No, I wasn't an army brat. We just moved a lot. Dad had a job where he got transferred from place to place a lot. Nope, not military-related. In the slightest.
There's no short-yet-engaging version that isn't simultaneously jokey or flippant. I can say I'm from New York, but no, I wasn't born and raised here. (It's more complicated than that.)
Or I can say I'm from the Midwest or Kansas City, but then I have to explain I didn't grow up there, either. (It's more complicated than that.)
After years of trying variations on all of these, I'll often just go for a simple temperature check: "[CHUCKLE] How much time you got?" — and sometimes that suffices as an answer, without having to go down the well-beaten path of the various standard dialogue trees.
But man, few questions put me in my head as effectively as that simple one. "Where are you from?" What I really want to answer is something along the lines of: "That question is not the right one to get the information you really want, friend; let's try a different tack."
That, but snappier, cleverer, and funnier. In a way that will make people who've just met me think: "Here is a funny, clever fellow I'd like to get to know more."
Instead, it gets me thinking about my lack of roots. Just last month, I visited Southern California for the first time since my dad lived out there 2 decades ago. I drove out to a little town called Moreno Valley where he lived when I'd visit for the summer. Drove right up to the house where he'd lived, and nothing. I mean, it's still there, just….
I have a ton of very strong memories from that time, but they were all cold, distant. You really can't go back home.
And, just like everywhere else we'd lived, I don't have any roots there, no people. It's the same in Kansas City, or Louisville. So where DO I say I'm from? Where the heck DO I come from, if those places no longer exist? And I don't have an answer. No "home is where the heart is" or like platitudes. Because my heart is in all those places that I can never go back to.
So instead I go back to basics. A home is a structure built to shelter yourself from the elements, to afford you a minimum of safety and security. Sometimes, you have to build it yourself, and as an amateur you're going to make mistakes. Any homeowner can tell you the upkeep is non-stop; things are always failing on you. And, if there's time, you can set up a garden, put down some seeds that might take root. It gives you something to work on with your own two hands, keeps you busy. It's real. It's here, it's now, in the present.
But that still doesn't answer the question.
I'm trying to write more.
2 voices - [mouth|ears]
|Thursday, March 31st, 2016|
10.14 - Coming to rest.
Copied from facebook (sorry, but it's something).
One of the topics I was researching yesterday was sundive trajectories. It may be surprising, but it takes a fair amount of energy to travel to the Sun. You can't just fall in. Even if you leave Earth on an escape trajectory directly opposite the planet's revolution on the ecliptic, you still have a ridiculous amount of velocity just from being dragged around by the Earth's gravity. Which means you will keep falling at nearly the same speed as Earth (i.e. a near-Earth orbit, ~1 AU out from Sol). To stop and 'drop' into the Sun, you need to kill just about all of the orbital velocity you picked up just from starting on the Earth (or do something like slingshot around Jupiter, like the Ulysses probe*.
Which is a really long and overly-nerdy way of explaining how much energy it feels like it takes me to come to a stop and hold myself in stillness. It's not a question of just 'relaxing'; it is a very strenuous exercise.
* I later amended this post on facebook:
"a better example would've been the Helios satellites, which at their closest, barely got closer to the Sun than Mercury's orbit (0.29 AU / 43.432 million kilometers, still waaaay closer than you'd ever want to be). As an indication of the paradoxical nature of travel within the solar system: at perihelion, Helios-B was traveling at 252,792 km/h relative to the sun (aka 157,078 mph), making it possibly the fastest-moving manmade object ever?
The point is: It takes a SHIT-TON of energy just to "come to a stop" relative to the solar system."
|Sunday, March 30th, 2014|
22.26 - NO SALE
having one of those "no one wants what I have to offer" lifetimes
having trouble even giving it away for free
mood: woe is me
2 voices - [mouth|ears]
|Thursday, March 27th, 2014|
06.33 - Missing
I miss you.
Not in the "I hate being alone" way
Not in the "I don't want to die alone" way
I am missing —you— specifically.
I miss waiting for you to wake up.
I miss messages from you first thing in the morning.
I miss being away from you but with the knowledge
that we'll be back together soon.
I miss trying too hard to make you smile
and annoying you instead.
I miss debating in my head whether you're cuter
when you smile or when you frown.
I miss your ups and downs.
And knowing that I love you
and that that will be enough to fix things when I fuck up.
There are things that I don't miss,
but I miss understanding them
And that we can't be all things to all people.
I miss trying to be anyway.
I miss telling I love you in ways no one had ever before thought to tell you they loved you
for reasons I could never fathom.
I could never fathom the idea of not loving you,
or the idea of people who could.
I miss your storms.
I miss your arms.
I miss your stories and pretending like I hadn't heard them before—
just because I have a good memory doesn't mean I have to act like a jerk.
I miss my mission to make you the most special person in the world
because it was the easiest thing ever;
over before I even started.
I miss only having to make you realize
what I already knew
what is glaringly obvious to me
and has been from the start.
I just wish
that I could miss
missing you, instead
for a moment,
as just a thought
at the back of my head.
And then it's gone,
like a dream taken by dawn.
Forgotten that it was ever forgotten,
wisps of what was.
I just miss
1 voice - [mouth|ears]
|Monday, January 27th, 2014|
22.12 - I could be more cliché, but it would require serious effort.
In my sleep, I reached out for someone who wasn't there. Only, my fingers found her and she woke me with an appreciative sigh as they ran through her hair. Startled by what I expected to not find there, I kicked myself up a level of consciousness and woke up for real to find an armful of pillow.
Yep, couldn't even make it up. Or, I could, but what would be the point?
There was so much contained in that moment, that brief instant of contact. The affection, its appreciative reception, the joy of having someone to care for, the feeling that you matter. That you make a (positive) difference in someone's life. Cause for all the aphorisms about loving yourself etc. etc., at the end of the day, it's still a closed system, and you can't get more out of it than you put in. You can make it run more efficiently by minimizing negativity, but it'll never get over unity.
I'm also kind of bummed because my intern shift at the theater is ending tomorrow, and I didn't get much warning at all. It hasn't been quite a full year, but then I put in some extra shifts (like during the NYMIF), so I'm at about my limit. Though they might bring me back for the festival later this year (whereupon I'll be rusty and all kinds of things will have changed in the intervening 8 months?). At least folks have been unilaterally positive about my work, and I even got props for my (improvised!) lighting work last week. Maybe folks'll raise such a stink that they'll have to bring me back.
Oh well, at least I get my Tuesday nights back, and I won't be such a zombie on Wednesdays (and Thursdays, and Fridays...).
I'm still working on me. And working on making 2014 the year where I find my voice and work on my projects. Uh, after I figure out what I'm doing for employment in a month... =| (Ahh, contract life!)
|Sunday, January 12th, 2014|
23.07 - werk
Man, what am I going to do about work?
My contract is up in Feb. And, well, they actually like me where I am. Like, now that I have my CPAP and my medical shit under control, I'm actually a competent employee. Which... opens a new can of worms. Because now I can start to ask for what I'm worth. And start to think about what works and what doesn't work (since it's not necessarily "me" anymore that's the problem). So now I need to figure out what that means.
I like the place I'm at OK. It's not great, but it's a job. There are a few things that are not working, though. For one, they've got me working in a call center. Like, I'm still a writer, but I am in a place where phones are constantly ringing and people are coming in to pick up and drop off equipment (and I am the 2nd closest to the door, hooray) and people are shouting across the room about Priority Ones and there are big flatscreen monitors playing a 24-hr news loop along with a call center metrics/analytics dashboard and and and.
It's just not the right physical space for me. They keep saying there's no room, but we have one and a half entire buildings (not to mention the East Side office, which I don't want to move to if I can help it). But if I'm going to stay, I don't want to stay where I'm sitting. Too much of a demand? All I want is an actual cubicle (which I had when I started, before we got moved down a floor). That, or let me work from home 2-3 days a week (now THAT'S not too much to ask for).
Believe it or not, that's the major stressor. I pretty much literally can't work while I'm at work. Gotta wait til people leave or work when I'm home. Which... screw that. But while I'm making hypothetical demands, I've started to think about switching fields/careers.
For a bit now, I've been thinking about switching to UI/UX design. It's what initially got me interested in psychology: studying affordances and the way people interact with stimuli. My first exposure to real, actual psychology (as opposed to psychiatry) was a seminar at Stevens when I was in high school where we looked into some human pattern recognition testing software and learned about how the mind interprets stimuli (including some pre-processing that happens in the eyes themselves!). My second exposure was the Perception class I took 2nd semester of my freshman year. And, of course, I ended up majoring in it.
Of course, the place where I work doesn't really design its own software with any UI and stuff. Well, the mobile app people do, but that's an entirely different thing. So I think what I'd need to do is define my own job title and position. Which, well... while I've definitely impressed people in my year there so far, that's a pretty heavy thing for a contractor to ask for. I think, if I'm going to pitch it, I'll have to frame it as a "Client Interface/Interaction Designer." I mean, they're already asking me to do way more than was in my original job description (which says nothing, btw, about communications; if I'm going to draft company emails (the part of my job I like the least), I should at least get recognition (and compensation) for it).
Of course, this means also laying out what my new job responsibilities will be, which... I guess I should google some buzzwordy stuff about what a UX designer does? And then I can graft that to the stuff I'm already doing, and say: "Hey, anything that is client facing, from web pages to emails to documentation already goes through me, so let us make it official, k?" Also, money. Also, bennies. And pls. start my vacation accrual and all the seniority-type stuff based on my original hire date a year ago. Cause you know how these companies are; it'll be six years before I'm getting the extra day or whatever vacation they give you when you've worked somewhere for five years.
So I need to put all this together, plus fix my resume, plus start looking for jobs (both tech writing and UX) so I have something to fall back on if they call my bluff. And I had a dream about my boss just going ahead and renewing my contract without talking to me, which is totally something he'd do. He'd get to be the hero who keeps me on board (at the same pay rate, for his corporate masters) because I'm too talented to let go while totally sidestepping any messy negotiations.
Which is the funny thing about our society. It's my job to ask for more money, almost always/universally. Meanwhile, the system is set up so that they try to pay me as little as possible. In a society/economy where my entire worth is tied up in my income/compensation. No wonder we're all so depressed and miserable. And no wonder we're all fucked.
|Friday, November 1st, 2013|
18.56 - Damn, it feels good to be an astrophysicist
So after a lot of hemming and hawing, I decided to do a costume yesterday after all. But instead of stressing and sweating the manufacture, I decided I'd only do it if I could rig it up using office supplies.
I've had the idea to do the NdGT reaction/badass meme since maybe last Nov.? I wanted to rig the arms with wire or whatever to make them stay in place. Instead, I came up with the idea of making a mustache out of post-its colored in with black marker, and then rigging the arms with paperclips... so that my hands would be free for drinking/dancing whatever. I also figured I'd print the caption so it was a little more obvious what I was doing.
You can judge the final result for yourself, but people on facebook (and those in person who got it) went nuts for it. Which I hadn't really expected, but whatev. If it makes you laugh, job done!
I of course have a tendency to pick costumes that are somewhat obscure (Red Right Hand). The nice thing about this one was that it worked if you recognized NdGT, even if you didn't recognize/weren't familiar with the "watch out, badass!" meme. So, as a guy who likes his jokes to work on multiple levels (as an exercise unto itself), I'll probably work to layer my costume references more distinctly in the future.
I'm not usually much of a party person (though I like dancing... when there's room), but I do like it when I'm at a party and someone comes up to me and references an ongoing conversation about the ontology of time (or whatever you'd call it) and then about my glow-in-the-dark t-shirt and how it has common names for the various constellations (Strongman, Big Bear; it's a test print). With a guy who, by the way, is wearing a mask of himself (that was made for someone else at another event; unrelated meta-ness!). I'm doin' alright in the Life Dept. right now. =)
|Tuesday, September 17th, 2013|
19.17 - Wait a 2nd
( clackety-clackCollapse )
"What happened here was an unavoidable tragedy," he said, before all the microphones and cameras and the backdrop of flags. Several reporters in attendance fired their guns into the air in assent. "There was no way," the commissioner continued, around a pull of Jim Beam, "to prevent this exercise of individual freedoms." More gunshots, these unrelated, sounded in the distance. "We can take comfort in the pride these individuals must've felt, sacrificing themselves for our American values." More whoops and hollers, punctuated by the bang! of small arms fire (the heavier weapons having been left outside; this was, after all, a press conference). “What matters most," he slurred, swelling with patriotism, "is that we do not, in any way, let this tragedy—this celebration of individual liberties--open a conversation about our collective freedoms and rights to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. because we all know that the point of forming a Union in the first place was to ensure and enshrine the rights of‘ the individual, and not in any way to elevate our society and populace as a whole; what could be more antithetical to the individual quality of life than raising we average from me muck? Let us not undermine the bold sacrifice of those who died here today with such talk."
The noise from the crowd was terrible and wondrous.
mood: too tired to satire
2 voices - [mouth|ears]
|Wednesday, September 4th, 2013|
12.11 - Not. Sold.
( typeCollapse )
My head swims with negative voices, before I've even begun. I don't even have an idea and already it's not good enough. "It's been done to death," I'm reminded, "and by better writers than you'll ever be." Which may be true, but without even an idea, how can I ever know?
Even if it‘s been done, what am I to do about that? I cannot change the past. And though I can change my perspective and examine my beliefs and even influence who I will become, I cannot change who I am right now. And I am the sum of my unique experiences. I must have a story. I must have something to say. Even if it'll been said before. Stories are made to he told and re-told, handed down and amended, mended and reused like a hand-me-down blanket.
It's only our current (and very recent) system that demands originality (yet familiarity) so that something can be trademarked, copyrighted, bar-coded, packaged, and marketed. It. is no longer enough to be a storyteller, someone who gets paid for the craft of the telling, the recitation (but so much more than just a rote repetition!) of the classic tale. Not if you want to make a living.
And so we are held hostage by this idea of the original (yet safely, marketably familiar) tale. Our keyboards and pens and tongues sit idle, our stories (and our histories, for what is less original than something which has actually already happened?) inert and unprofitable. But stories are made to be told, not sold.
So now let this become my mantra, my aegis:
Stories are made to be told, not sold.
1 voice - [mouth|ears]
|Wednesday, August 21st, 2013|
10.56 - Not There
( TypingCollapse )
You reach out for me, but I'm not there. Or rather, you're reaching out for the person I used to be, but you miss. You fall short by about a year. So when you hug me—the me who I am now—it's awkward and stiff and something is missing, It's me. I'm missing, The me I used to be, the person you need only when you need him, has gone. Moved on. He is in another country now, a land where your passport is not valid to where you will never—can never—be granted a visa.
You take what little you can get from that hug, whatever residue of lingering affection that has aged into pity. Because when you always take what you need, it will never be given freely. And so now what once would have been a gift becomes an obligation, a formality, an empty ritual, done to appease long-slumbering gods who will never be sated. The god of emptiness can never be filled.
Somewhere, we share a moment; some other us, in a time and place where we learned to be ourselves. Somewhere where you were able to be honest with me and yourself about what you wanted, and trusted me enough to handle it. And really, isn't that it? The trust? It's the missing element that keeps us from what we want. There were moments when you trusted me enough to give, to open yourself and be a real, reciprocal human with me. But they were too few and fleeting, and maybe I failed to rise to the challenge; failed you like so many so clearly have. Because of who you are, and because they gave into their human nature to take and took from you. And so those spectres haunt us now even as we embrace yet pass through one another like ghosts.
01.36 - Best Supporting Person
( Read more...Collapse )
What do you do when you find yourself as a supporting character in the story of your own life? How do you take the focus back, learn to be your own protagonist? Is it just a question of taking charge, becoming uncompromising... relentlessly? Is there even a way to do that without becoming completely off-putting or unpalatable to your friends?
Maybe the fact that I'm even asking that is telling. Maybe the key to capturing your own story (and destiny?) is to simply not worry about those sorts of things. To, in finding yourself, let friends find you. But if they don't, will the knowledge that you're being honest with yourself and true and doing what you love be enough?
And what if your truth is that supporting character role? What if you're not meant for "more" or different? What if that's exactly what you're meant to be? What if there's fulfillment in selflessness and being the main character is overrated or even harmful?
And what if these questions are Just soothing words, telling yourself the most palatable version of the truth? Perhaps the most we can hope for is the ability to choose 1he lies that serve us best. And that's where our friends come in, our own supporting characters. They're there, in part, to call us on the more egregious lies, the more harmful or hurtful ones.
4 voices - [mouth|ears]
|Sunday, August 4th, 2013|
11.38 - plot germ
|Thursday, August 1st, 2013|
11.07 - "...the thoughts of philosophers... of liars, who say that underneath I'm worthless, incomplete."
For/inspired by lampbane
( Original...Collapse )
Depression is tough. Not only do you have to grapple with this invisible enemy within, but no one seems to know how to handle you
or what to do. Usually, folks try to help; which manifests in the
form of trying to fix you or your depression, when it can't simply
be fixed and indeed resists fixing. Which, of course, they take as
anywhere from a personal challenge to a personal affront; as if
you're the one challenging or resisting them. And now in addition
to fighting depression, you've got to fight off people Who take your
illness as some kind of personal affront.
So I cultivate friendships with other "depressives" (hooray,
being labelled by your illness; stigma!) or people who understand;
people who don't see your condition as a reflection on themselves
or as a slight to their abilities as a friend. I cultivate those
friendships where it's OK and enough to just be; be in each other's
space, be silent together, and to be imperfect. To let our imperfections not merely be, but flourish... or at least breathe. To let us
be us, and to realize that like gems, our flaws are what make us who
we are, and not merely some featureless sample grown in a lab.
Feature, flaw, imperfection, character.
Give me one person with character over a thousand perfect
featureless (faceless is a horror trope) "friends" any day. Or year.
Good friendships are cultivated on the scale of a, lifetime, so I
can afford to be patient. It's worth it. Because, given patience
and a modicum of attention, you may find the person showing themself
to you; not necessarily some mythical "true self" but a glimpse of
some facets of the gem they don't usually show. Or not; you can't
really control it (nor should you try, but if you've read this far
you likely already know that). Just be with me. Just be.
mood: without rushing, without faltering
3 voices - [mouth|ears]
|Tuesday, July 30th, 2013|
10.22 - Verity's Song
I've been forcing myself to write as often as possible, in particular for a finite amount of time before work in the morning (don't think; write, and especially don't edit). This morning's thing turned into something of a eulogy for a dear, prickly family member who died last week. It's not perfect or polished, but neither was she.
( Typed original...Collapse )
Stiletto heels clicked their way down the hall. The echo carried through the darkened emptiness. Verity hummed a tune to herself, almost tentatively, as if her solitude might evaporate at the slightest indelicacy. But she was really and truly alone. Her patrol of the office, conspicuously casual and innocent yet thorough, showed vacant cubicles, workstations abandoned as punchclock veterans slipped free of their drudgery. The night was hers!
And so, liberated from burdensome decorum, she gleefully kicked off her heels--literally--as the song within her bubbled closer to the surface. Her to-do list was far from empty, and her inbox non-zero, but she couldn't feign a single concern for that other life; that bland and colorless dreamland that demanded a third of her day. As she spun, not quite dancing, she felt herself come to life. For her, for now, there were no deadlines but the final one. And who knew when that would be?
Grief takes many forms, but she felt her aunt would approve of this one. A woman who had never compromised herself for anyone else's expectations or limitations would certainly understand or even applaud this momentary rebellion. She may never build a business from the ground up, or even raise a son on her own (not for want of help but precisely because she did not), but Verity made her own decisions, her own mistakes, for better or worse, because of who she was. And because of a woman who taught her never to compromise.
As the song rose to her lips, half-escaping and half-exploding to fill the space around her, she closed her eyes to feel for the tears she expected, but none came. Her voice and all it carried were the only things to escape from her into the placid universe.
For Alice, who always encouraged my writing more than my self-criticism, and a personal feminist hero of mine. R.I.P.
|Thursday, July 18th, 2013|
13.20 - In-Groups and Out-Groups in Human Society
( Typewritten pages.Collapse )
I read something recently that explained the "Conservative" mindset as a series of concentric circles of in-groups. As resources grow scarcer, they withdraw further and further in, excluding people who aren't like them in increasingly granular ways. White hispanics are OK, until they aren't. Catholics are Christians until they aren't. And so on. There is a closing of ranks that results in an Othering of huge swaths of page people. Those people.
Which is crazy, if you view humanity as a superorganism. which, given the distributed network of information that serves to treat each brain as a neuron in a. giant macro brain (nevermind the Collective Unconscious; the Collective Conscious is here and real today), it increasingly evidently is. Our own cells are turning against each other, which, in a body, would be considered cancer. Maybe it's just starvation, in is a society still in the grips of Scarcity. Breaking down some of our cells so that others may live. Cannibalizing them. No two ways about it.
The hallmark of any "evil" side in most of our traditional narratives is that they will turn on one another. This is why we're supposed to cheer for the "good" guys; they care about everybody, and they won't turn on one another, no matter how much easier that would make things. Through this lens, it‘s hard to see the Conservative strategy as anything but evil. Classic Sith, or Orc, or Ferengi, or... the list goes on. The "good" guys are concerned with seeing everyone at their best, so that they can contribute the most to the battle. Isn't that usually the reason we're given for their victory? That they banded together against impossible odds to triumph?
The body can't survive unchecked growth; that's a given. But we've seen population growth taper off and even decline in our healthier/more affluent societies. So it seems like there are adequate checks in place against that. What the body can't survive is a. lack of empathy. It needs blood to carry energy and nourishment to all of its cells, not just the ones that control the energy supply. Everyone serves some purpose, has some value. Even in the case of the appendix (which has recently been shown not to be useless after all), we don't just choke off the blood supply to it so that it withers and dies and then festers necrotically, poisoning the rest of the body.
3 voices - [mouth|ears]
|Monday, July 15th, 2013|
19.59 - OCR Experiments
Dont you feel like you have something to say? Something worth
Baying? If not, what's the point? What's the meaning of a. life if you Can't extract meaning from it? "Nasty, brutish, and short"? 18 that all there is? What do you have to say? What have you seen? What have you learned, through pain? What pain can you spare others? Not that one's
life will ever be pain-free, but at the least we can afford them
new Pain, their own pain; rather than repeating the same old mistakes. This is, in a certain sense, what stories are. They are arch“Ted Pain; our apecies' storehouse of sufé‘ering. Is it any wonder the Ancient Greeks had so much love for tragedy? It is not a Joy in (mother's suffering; it is the warmth of shared understandm. "Nostalgia" -- our pain. These are humanity's scars. The goal is not to cut, but to trace the scars on fresh, unmarrgg skin. “If you hhould think to do this, then know that you risk these wounds.“ which is why games are such a wonderful storytelling medium. "Don't merely hear about the pain; experience it without the risk." Experience a weakened version; like a. vaccination of shared learning. with all the pain of an emotional pinprick; it hurts, but it'll heal.
It's also why stories show such a survivorship bias. Those who lived to tell about it, lived to tell about it. There is nothing
g innately special or wonderful about our heroes, other than that
they survived. And here is the cost they paid to do so (dear readers)
Paid in full, so you don't have to.
So remember the things you've suffered, and share them. Commit them to memory-"human memory-— so that the superorganiam will learn
from them. If you learn no other lesson from life, learn this one:
These are our shared scars.
I took three pictures of the same typed page, and submitted them to Google Docs for digital conversion. The full experiment is here.
|Friday, July 5th, 2013|
18.33 - The Modes of Control
Last night's dreams were all about... consent, I guess.
Dream #1 started with Marty McFly (now at college) on additional adventures, trying to rescue Doc Brown from something or other (along the lines of the Telltale Games adaptation). The adventure itself was kind of long and tedious in the way that dreams can be, but once it was finished, Marty felt all kinds of newly confident and figured he had this whole time travel thing all figured out. So he goes to Jennifer and tells them their life together is going to be great, and he's gotten them both into a program in Paris (there's always some program in Paris?) that she wanted to go to and she's like, how'd you manage that? And he's like, I have my ways. And then they get to Paris and are checking out the place where they're going to study and she kind of idly mentions something something would be nice, and Marty's like, look again! Because now he just hops in the DeLorean and makes changes so that things will line up just the way she wants them to and is basically back in a flash. But she understandably starts getting creeped out by this and by how perfect everything is, and is like, I never asked for this, we never talked about any of this, it's just you going off and doing things unilaterally "for us." And Marty's like, "Jennifer, can't you see I'm doing this for you/just want to make you happy?" And she's like, "Who's Jennifer? My name is Eve." BUM BAH BUMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMM! Because he fucked with the timeline too much and literally lost the woman he loved. Like, she never existed.
Next dream was in a giant bookstore, like the New England Mobile Book Fair crossed with The Strand. I'm browsing next to my sister (I don't have a sister, so, uh, symbolic, I guess?) and some creep walks by and smacks her on the ass. So I stop what I'm doing and follow him to the front, hassling him the whole way to apologize, but he's just like, "For what?" and laughs. Rrrrrrgh, men/patriarchy/rape culture (have I mentioned I have an "i hate my gender" tag on tumblr?). So when he got on the checkout line, I very calmly and coolly took him down. Then, putting very insistent pressure on his windpipe with my knee, I demanded an apology. And the fucker was still like, "Nah" so I lost my shit and started to gouge out his eyes while I crushed his windpipe. But then I thought better of it, got some control over myself, and decided just to crush the offending hand instead. Let him live with the responsibility for his actions and as a cripple, rather than just outright murdering him (I'm so gentle and kind in my dreams). And I do mean crush, as I essentially went and systematically broke every single bone from the wrist up in multiple places. Even in dreams I'm very cool; even in dreams I'm very controlled. Even in a violent rage, I'm very methodical, very deliberate.
So that's it; just two very vivid dreams, with something of a common element. My dreaming mind can spin a hell of a story, even if I can't seem to get that to translate into writing when I'm awake.
|Monday, June 10th, 2013|
16.08 - Correspondence, of course
Another thing I've been doing (as a writing exercise) with my typewriter is composing letters.
Although they're somewhat unconventional.
( the letter...Collapse )
And yes, I'm taking requests.
3 voices - [mouth|ears]
15.28 - writingy things
I've been trying to force/persuade myself to write moar. Like, to develop regular writing discipline. The typewriter is a cheat; a crutch for that purpose. Even when I tell myself I have nothing to write, nothing to say, the typewriter is like, "Yay! I am fun! =D Come use me!"
( marked up...Collapse )
|Wednesday, June 5th, 2013|
18.45 - Typewriter
Remington Rand Deluxe 5
2 voices - [mouth|ears]
|Tuesday, June 4th, 2013|
16.15 - Aims
Stuff I have in mind/intend to do:
* Get up earlier; 1 hr writing each morning.
* 1 hr. on the drums in the evening (on nights when I'm not working/holding a practice/etc.)
More nebulous long-term goal-ish things:
* Learn more math + programming to work on mathematical modeling of hyperspatial geometry
* Make educational rap songs; make science glamorous, use my riches to open a science academy in Harlem
* Write. Everything. Sketches, plays, books (fiction and non-). Get in the habit of writing, feel like you have something to say/contribute that's worth listening to (because you do)
These lists are for starters.
|Wednesday, May 29th, 2013|
18.23 - The Thingening
So I have taken the dive. Not only have I bought a typewriter on eBay (awaiting delivery, sometime next week) but I plonked down for a MacBook Air. The 11"/smallest one, for portability (especially on the motorcycle, wheeee). I have realized/acknowledged that the tablet is insufficient for my random computing needs (mainly creative endeavors that I am trying to be more ambitious about, like writing and coding/learning to code). So, wow, spending money on myself. For something not related to food/shelter (after much agonizing about the environmental and economic ramifications, not to worry). I also caught a comment today that I made in Apr. 2011 talking about building my new desktop as soon as I got my tax refund check. Sigh. But yeah, life happened. Now, though? Looks like stuff is stabilizing.
I'd like to buy a decent desktop for the purposes of recording Let's Play videos (yes, like a million other idiots). I've even got a decent concept for my first series of videos, to get people hooked/interested/aware and that showcases my... unique personality and playing style (which, in D&D terms, is probably somewhere between Loony and Real Role Player). I have a long history of saying I will do something and then someone else does it (often not as well as I think I would've, but whatevs counterfactuals). So I may be behind the curve, but I think I could bring actual entertaining content. And if I don't, at least I'll have basically a (low-end) home recording/editing studio.
Which is good, because I still want to work in (at least) audio recording/processing in my free time. One idea I have is to be sort of the mad scientist of hip hop (no, not that guy) and turn the freestyle rap improv thing I'm doing right now into sort of educational ("Schoolhouse Raps") content, focused on making science as glamorous as "gangsta" is/was in the 90s. "Fuck spinning rims, I'm talking Tokomaks. Spin those atoms; take the power back." Because learning is fun, math is awesome, science/knowledge is power, and people who "hate rap" are racist. When I look back on my life and my regrets, among them I do not want to count "I wish I'd built more robots." Humanity has so much potential; we should be more focused on the Kardashev scale than the Kardashians. Something something Waking Life superchimpanzee. I dunno, rather than complain about the world, I'd like to focus on the things that make us great. It's something to aim for until I start actively decomposing, at least.
So I'm trying to actually do things, and follow through with other things, and hope for still yet other things. Which is I guess part of kicking depression in the ghoulies? Because I'm not going down without a fight (unless you're a lady, but we're talking about depression here get your minds out of the gutter guis omg). Between the two of these things, it's, again, something to aim for. And I think in the future, what with the innernet 'n all, micro-fame is gonna be the way to go. Jobs are nearing obsolescence and the only (infinitely?) sustainable growth fields are creative endeavors (and I'm including science and programming under that umbrella). So either I succeed and lead the new vanguard or I die penniless and alone (or some laem middleground or hwatevs) but at least I'll be interesting (it's amazing how once I start talking about these things at say, a party, I actually have things to talk about; vs. the typical sorts of conversations where I am useless I SUCK AT SMALL TALK OK).
As I said to a friend recently, I'm lately all about recognizing what's amazing/wonderful about all the people I meet, reflecting it at them, and clearing any and all obstacles that might be in the way to them shining at 100% brightness. My superpower is boosting other people's superpowers. (I'm useless on my own, though.)
I am an end to negativity.
9 voices - [mouth|ears]
|Thursday, May 23rd, 2013|
14.34 - It doesn't get comfortable
The closer I get to comfortable (at least, financially), the less comfortable I get. I sit staring at a Macbook Air, pondering a purchase, unbelieving that I can afford to purchase it without going into debt, or even wiping out my savings entirely and... I'm just waiting. Waiting for the bottom to drop out.
I'm so unused to stability that it makes me feel unstable. I'm suspicious of it. And I'm still skeptical of happiness, unsure that I'm deserving of it, sure that it won't last, feeling like it must be a prelude to something worse. I see the football, and I know I can kick it and kick it well, but I don't trust Lucy.
Are you comfortable? It doesn't get any better than this...
mood: are you any better than this?
|Monday, May 6th, 2013|
18.36 - dreamblather
I dreamt that I was working (as a production intern, I think?) for a really awesome show. I described it on facebook as being about "Hogwarts, but for science." Though I also thought of it as "the Big Bang Theory done right." The dream was more about the story idea(s) I had for an episode I wanted to write/pitch, but of course the actual stories themselves have evaporated. The idea for the show is still good, though. May not go anywhere or be commercially viable or anything like that, but still.
The show was set at a school for gifted kids, where science was the norm (and yes, since I went to a science and technology magnet school, I also understand the role of art and all forms of creative exercise, but I'll focus on the science), kind of like Eureka, Jr? So yeah, kids working on science and research and studies and basically really being encouraged to be as smart as they can be (as someone who grew up always being the smartest kid in the room, and who has studied the science of intelligence, I'm convinced everyone is intelligent, given the chance/support/resources/nutrition/attention), while still dealing with all the normal teenage stuff. And what it comes down to, in a lot of thinking about it, is really just being life-affirming. Like, what I would've loved to hear (in a believable fashion) when I was that age: just keep being you and doing what you love and being excited about stuff no matter how much people rag on you, keep asking questions, keep questing, keep being the best you you can be (even if that occasionally means downtime where you're not designing a particle accelerator, robot, or interstellar drive). Learning to fail, and fail well. Picking up the lessons as you pick yourself up and dust yourself off to try again. Keeping an eye out for your friends and even people who aren't your friends or even friendly to you for when they fall because if you can help them up and help them move forward, that's less time and energy directed inward at self-hatred. Something I'm intimately acquainted with.
Because humanity has such capacity for greatness. Riding under the George Washington Bridge on Saturday, I looked up and marveled at just one of the magnificent things we've been able to accomplish. And we were on such a trajectory. We've been to the moon. But though the rockstar scientist has never really been a thing, we did have great projects and great progress. And there was a big anti-intellectual backlash, but then "nerds" became cool again, but how much of the new "nerd" culture is just liking certain intellectual properties and buying the right merch? How much of it is people making actual progress on the frontiers of knowledge? How much of it is quoting Real Genius vs. living it?
Not everyone is going to be a scientist. Or a great actor. Or a hard-working teacher. But everyone has something they love, a fire that should be fanned. I may not be anything *great*, but I'm certainly going to do more to fan the flames. Starting with my own.
I haven't explained this very well because I'm rushing and I have to leave for practice. But at least for today, I've written something.
mood: well, that went off the rails
|Thursday, April 25th, 2013|
18.29 - Still love
I love the fact that almost all of my icons (excluding the ones, like Rob Gordon, depicting someone who is explicitly right-handed (and of course the completely irrelevant ones)), have been altered to be left-handed. Axe-grinder, I'm looking at you.
In response to a post where I asked people to describe me in a single word, rijhol said, "deliberate," which I think is still one of the best answers I've ever heard.
|Wednesday, April 3rd, 2013|
17.20 - The TEC's technique cuz he's a technician
Had my first tech shift at the Magnet Theater last night. Turns out, I'm pretty awesome at it. The house manager was pretty cool, good to me (in terms of keeping me hydrated and then covering for the resulting potty breaks), and dug my tunes. In fact, a lot of people dug my tunes. Because fuck yeah, good music (That Pretentious Music Jerk rides again!). There's not really a point where you're "cool music guy," you just like what you like and then if you're lucky time changes tastes to favor your secret loves. Because I haven't changed, but I guess I am sort of a cool elder now. Which fine, I'll take it. Hop up on my knee and I'll tell you about concerts of old.
Speaking of which, Spacehog is touring again. And I found this out because they reblogged a video of theirs I posted to tumblr. Cause in my wild young concert-a-week-going-days, I never saw them live. Now? Tickets for next week! (Was teching during last night's HousingWorks show, though, which is too bad, because HW is cool and generally a good thing.)
But yeah, last night was really a microcosm of how together and wonderful and amazing my life is right now. Surrounded by funny, talented, and caring people, confident in myself for once (finally!), and generally living my life. Really living (not just existence, lol). I'm good with how I am, and getting better. Doing my best not to become overconfident (which has never even been a concern before). Trying to be nice and genuine and kind and real and honest with everyone I meet; really engage. Wring the fuck out of life like a parched man with a damp cloth. I'm only here for so long; I may not be able to make life a tiny bit better for everyone I meet, but I can damn sure try. Also: I now count myself among those people. Which is nice; I'm not used to treating me like a person.
I still have plenty to work on. I'm still terrible at socialization. Very bad at engaging people, like answering questions with more than one word, asking questions of other people to encourage them to talk (rather than just trying to silently glean everything from observation). Better about reaching out to people, like, Hey, I'm thinking of you and also thinking you're awesome, hope you're having a good day and/or hey let's get dinner and just spend some time together. I can't help but feel like I must come across as closed, standoffish, or just aloof. Though I'm definitely aloof. Maybe oblivious is a better word.
Last night, on my way home, an off-duty MTA guy started chatting with me as I got up to disembark at my station. Wanted to ask me about the Culture novel I was reading and what I thought. Which, well, what are the odds? At 1am? On a Tuesday? I didn't have much to say, but then I was tired and we were pulling in to my stop. Still, it was a cool thing that happened and all in all, I felt pretty good last night.
mood: you can check my credentials
2 voices - [mouth|ears]
|Monday, February 11th, 2013|
13.14 - Dunno but today seems kinda odd
I woke up this morning with "an enormous sense of well-being." Maybe not the best way to describe it, but I felt... effective, rather than ineffectual and hopeless. Like: Hey, let's actually try to get stuff done because I bet we can actually accomplish stuff! Depression is a motherfucker. Due to financial considerations (losing my health insurance LOL), I haven't been taking my antidepressants, so it's a bit odd that I have been able to feel better. I guess (as I've posited many times before), my happiness/depression is really most closely tied to money. Sad as that sounds. I'm way happier when I don't have to worry about money. Chalk it up to growing up poor, maybe? So lol chemical imbalance, acually is bank balance. I guess?
Because I got a job. Yep, someone hired me. In December, I made a leap from a plummeting aircraft without a parachute, and shonuff, I have managed to survive. So hurray, income. Well done, guy. What I'm looking forward to most is having a job where I feel competent. Having a job where I start off in a good place (meds, CPAP) and quite possibly kicking ass at it. When a plan comes together and I'm firing on all cylinders, I visualize it in my head as some kind of ninja taking down a whole mess of thugs by channeling his selective attention to respond/react/repulse each attacker one at a time. They're not attacking one at a time, like you see in the movies; that's just how it feels when you're on and time slows and you can dissect every motion so that it seems like they're coming at you one at a time (at least, I imagine that's what the movies were trying to emulate, esp. in the days before widely available slow-mo and Matrix-y type effects). I'm so ready to be there.
By all accounts, I probably shouldn't be feeling so rosy. There's a definite area of pain in my life right now. But I guess that's the point? One aspect of my life (even if it's a biggun) being out of whack doesn't seem to overshadow everything else the way it used to? I can still feel sad about things without being wholesale depressed. It's an improvement, at any rate.
mood: might as well chance it; can't lose what never was yours
3 voices - [mouth|ears]
|Tuesday, January 29th, 2013|
18.12 - My thoughts to your thoughts
(isn't that what writing/performing/art is all about? putting thoughts in someone else's brain?)
I've been performing... a LOT. Had a Friday show a week and a half ago, followed by a Monday show (test drive, round 2), and then we performed Sunday night with our mentors in the North Coast. Aaaaand... North Coast's beatboxer for the past 3 years is leaving for SoCal with his girlfriend. Which leaves an opening. And I'm going out for it. I've been trying not to view our last two performances with the North Coast as auditions, buuuuuuuuut. I got some notes after Sunday night's show. And, aside from some audio issues that I think stem mainly from my lack of experience in performing with a microphone (especially in the Magnet space), it was almost entirely positive. And it sounds like they're looking to have a few people who can really rock a mic so that they're not so dependent on one person. So yeah, I'm enthusiastic about the possibility of getting to do that. I love doing the Hip Hop Debate, but these folks are just on another level. They've just been doing it longer. And the idea they might want to do it with me? That makes the little six-year-old spitting beats into his cupped hands feel like his whole life of fucking around with beats and making sounds with my mouth has been worth it.
In all seriousness
I've been feeling lately like I'm almost ready for a serious relationship. And being unemployed leaves me plenty of time to watch Netflix. I was watching the episode of Parks & Rec where Anne kisses Andy in the hospital, and he has this moment where he realizes he's just thinking of April. And I've kind of been feeling that way lately. About one girl in particular. I've basically given up on the whole "let me get some space" thing, because she's been pretty much everywhere I am. As she commented on Sunday, we spent about 12 straight hours together on Saturday. But, y'know, whatever. I like her a lot, but I can let it go. And someone else will come along, or she won't (and indeed, there's a lovely lady who I think may be interested, but see above at really only having eyes for the one). I'm actually pretty cool with things at the moment; especially everything in my life outside of the whole unemployment situation. I'm cool on the whole relationships thing; it'll happen when it happens.
5 voices - [mouth|ears]
|Wednesday, January 2nd, 2013|
20.05 - Bi-curious
Laying in bed this morning thoughts:
You know what always sounded kind of silly to me? The biathlon. Because what goes together more than skiing and shooting? It makes some sense in the context of hunting in snowy Scandinavian countries (or, actually, according to Wikipedia, Norwegian military drills), but man, what an unobvious pairing that was to me. Because of that, I always saw it as kind of silly. But you know what? I think I'd like to try it.
I've actually never skied. It should come as no surprise to most of you that if I were ever to ski (big if), it would be the less popular, more strenuous, and (of course) older version: cross-country. Because downhill is so popular and trendy and omg lol sold out amirite. Shut up. Cross-country is also generally more scenic (I'd assume) than just zooming down a hill and then riding a lift back to the top over and over again.
I mean, I doubt I'd ever do it competitively. I like to push myself, to challenge myself. To do better, be faster every time. I'm really only competitive with myself. But it's much like walking fast in the city. I don't do it to be an asshole, or because I'm in a hurry. I do it for the challenge, both physical and mental. And because it feels better than shuffling, slumping, shambling from place to place. So that part of the biathlon would probably be fun. Sweaty, exhausting fun. With pretty scenery.
But the real beauty of the biathlon is in the shooting. Because what I never realized in my youthful mirth over what I saw as a nonsensical juxtaposition is that while yes, it takes work to be the best at two things instead of just one, there's a lot more going on. You are at the peak of your exertion, going as fast as you can over hill and snowy dale and then you have. to. stop.
And things become very slow. With your pulse pounding and your breath heaving, you have to steady a rifle and pick off a target.
Timing the squeeze. of the trigger. between. your. heart. beats.
I remember thinking about this when I took archery class for gym in college (yes, I had had the concept explained to me by then). Monitoring my breath. Timing my pulse, trying to slow it. Choosing the moment to let the arrow fly, the moment to surrender control of it to the inflexible laws of physics. And let me tell you, that shit is awesome. Zen and the art of archery. Be the target. Get out of your head. Get out of the way. It is amazing to practice focusing on nothing more than the barest essentials of life: oxygen and blood. No one can live life that way, but it's a wonderful thing just to glimpse it.
3 voices - [mouth|ears]
|Wednesday, November 14th, 2012|
13.55 - So long, and thanks...
Everybody is way more serious about relationships than me. Or, more accurately, dating. Yes, it's OK if you don't want to go on a second date after a few days of thinking about it. I will find some way to go on. It is OK, you don't even need to provide me with a reason. You're allowed to change your mind. Thanks for the smooches.
I mean, I'm dating specifically because it does not require a commitment. I just want to get to know more about you, find out the ways in which you are wonderful (because everyone has some*). Smooching is a nice extra. Not smooching is just fine. Snuggling, not snuggling. Let's not make our lives any more stressful than they already are.
* Fortunately, Sturgeon's Law doesn't apply to people; at least, not to populations. 90% of people are really great, although 90% of what we do every day is crap/boring/uninteresting. It's getting to that 10% of magic that's in every one of us that matters. Something you do is amazing to someone else. Guaranteed.
6 voices - [mouth|ears]
|Monday, November 5th, 2012|
17.00 - Eeeeeeeeeeee!
Man, last night was such a blast. My hip hop improv group had our mainstage test drive at my theater. Whether we get a regular timeslot out of it or not, it was still a dream come true just to have that one show, beatboxing in front of all sorts of people for basically half an hour non-stop (I went through 3L+ of water, if anyone's curious). I'm exhausted a day later, but still happy and contented. When you're doing what you love to do and other people are getting enjoyment out of it, that's just aces. I mean, it really is true what they say about following your heart. Do what you love. Don't stop doing it until you're dead (or until it stops being fun).
We've got a new timeslot in our obscure basement performance space, starting this month, so hopefully we'll get more people there what with the not being at 11pm on a school night.
|Thursday, November 1st, 2012|
15.23 - Runnin'
Every time that I want to shrivel up and hide from life, I have to remind myself: this is what your father would have done. Running away from responsibility.
I'm tougher than that. I can take it on the chin with a smile. I can do this.
And then afterwards, if I want to curl up into a little ball and maybe cry a bit, that's OK, too.
|Thursday, September 27th, 2012|
Doing my best to not be a total fuck-up.
partial fuck-uppery is inevitable
|Tuesday, September 25th, 2012|
Seems like the only time I have for introspection these days is while I'm asleep. Last night, I dreamt that I had a prom or something. Bought a brand new, sparkling white silk suit. Message!
The scene (because really, that's what it was) where I got changed into the suit (with help) resulted in me coming out looking like a man. All growed up! Message!
Oh well. Hopefully this means mental/psychological new beginnings. It helped that a friend (whom I've recently become closer to) gave me a heartfelt hug (in the dream, I mean) and told me what a wonderful person I was. Hey, that's like my subconscious telling me I think I'm OK, right? It's probably still not healthy, but I think I'd do much better if I got a hug at the end of every day and someone told me I was a good person/had done a good job/was appreciated. Stupid need for external validation.
At least on the external validation thing, my freestyle hip-hop show is growing in renown. The booking agent for the bar we play once a month is supposedly coming to watch our show this Thursday, with a view towards giving us a better time slot. And we got approved for a Test Drive at the Magnet (my regular theater). Things are happening!
Signed my lease again, meaning I'm about to start Year 3 in this apartment. That's longer than anywhere else I've lived continuously on my own, and is approaching the longest I've been anywhere since moving out on my own (made it about 2.5 years living in the same place with contadina). Starting to feel like home for the first time since Louisville (age 7, for those keeping track). I miss all the people I no longer see, don't get me wrong. But this was almost certainly the best move I could have hoped to make.
|Tuesday, September 18th, 2012|
13.53 - The Author as Dreaming Mind
Man, I feel bad when I have nothing to write. Journal-wise or fiction-wise or non-fiction-wise (I also have a nerd dating blog that I set up and promptly failed to write in; the few dates I've had since its inception have been uneventful or at least nothing blog-worthy (in a good way)).
But wow. Usually, my dreams are very linear and really not that wild/wacky. But they're also not terribly figurative or imaginative or symbolic. This morning on the train, my dreaming mind came up with no fewer than three concrete story ideas/narratives/allegories that would make, at the very least, good writing exercises. Symbolic, somewhat, but not about me, which is what's interesting. Not like my brain trying to tell ME something, just trying to tell a story, period. Too bad I forgot what they are (you knew that was coming). Still, it's good to know that that's in there somewhere, fighting its way to the surface on occasion.
I should sketch out whatever pictures I can in what time I have. I remember something to do with a widow and her child, him holding the hem of her skirt, half tentative to toddle off on his own, half tentative to let her go. Symbolism. Also, something vaguely science-fictiony/futurish, revolving around a philosophical concept, perhaps. Lastly was, I think, a poem. Haven't written a decent one of those in ages.
Standing at the sink in the bathroom here at work, washing up after lunch and looking in the mirror, a thousand thoughts racing around my head, it came to me that I should be writing. Why not? Just whatever. I should finish roman_a_clef. And then finish it again. Kill your darlings. Learn to revise, and to let go. Tear it all down and build it up a dozen times. Be fine with mistakes, learning from failures is how we grow.
Be OK with that. Be OK with you.
|Thursday, September 13th, 2012|
14.05 - is what I need
Pretty much this. I am starting to feel like I have really come into myself (minds out of the gutter). I'm really where I belong: geographically, mentally, creatively. Shoot, pretty much romantically, too (or at least I'm where I need to be now; not that everything is set and decided and happily ever after). The only missing piece is my job. Which I still have. For now.
Practicing breathing. Practicing being grateful. So much wonderful stuff has happened in the past 1-2 years. Not to disparage what came before, but I feel like I was stalled. And yes, sometimes it feels like a wasted decade. I know that's not true, but blah blah allowing myself to feel etc etc acknowledge yadda yadda.
I'm closer than I've ever been to being a real boy.
mood: make it alllllllright
|Monday, September 3rd, 2012|
09.50 - Lessons
I will never have a successful relationship until I learn to let go of responsibility for the other person's happiness.
|Thursday, August 9th, 2012|
10.59 - beat
I think I somehow keep forgetting to mention I had my public beatboxing debut a couple of weeks ago. An entire hour of beatboxing (plus warm-ups!) is exhausting. And I went through at least 2L of water. That's a lot of spittin'.
I've been beatboxing on my own since I was about six. Finally, recognition! And a chance to shine. How fun! And it's currently set to be a monthly thing!
Probably the coolest one/the one that got the crowd into it was the one I did based on the Metroid theme (and I love that Metroid is in the Swype dictionary) for a rap about outer space. Folks was like, aw shit, this ain't gonna be no regular show with the same old-ass beats. =D
3 voices - [mouth|ears]
|Friday, August 3rd, 2012|
18.58 - Right to the heart of the matter, right to the beautiful part
So after about 2 weeks, I've started getting used to the CPAP. I'm sleeping through the night now, for the most part. And yes, I have a lot more energy and focus. I've also been concentrating on my sleep hygiene; getting to bed by 10 most nights. Oddly enough, I've been feeling more tired at night. My inexpert guess is that since I'm actually awake during the day, I'm just finally feeling the difference between that and sleepy-bye-bedtime. Or maybe I'm wearing myself out more because I have the energy to do so. No matter what it is, it's good, because it's certainly helping me get to sleep at night.
It's kind of interesting, and the difference feels a little bit like I've been sleepwalking through life and now I'm finally awake. The sleeper has awakened and junk. I'm a lot more productive at work (though as stated in my previous post, it probably won't do me much good). The true test was that I sat through a grueling 4 or 5 person interview last Friday (over the course of about 5 hours, including a provided lunch, which was nice. And tasty) and only yawned/felt sleepy once. I'm really serious about becoming a new/different person. Even if it's purely psychosomatic, there's nothing wrong with a dynamic change that you've essentially tricked yourself into (a la Dumbo's feather?); the results are what counts. I'm expecting my weight to drop (for any of a number of reasons, incl. better nutrition/not being too tired to make food, not just the more exercise thing). I'm also expecting my immune system to improve. Hopefully, no more getting 5-7 colds every winter.
I also expect (and am possibly seeing; it's hard to tell) some easing of my depression symptoms (though the medication has already done a lot for me, which is why it's hard to tell). I actually almost feel... confident. OK in my own skin. Like I'm not a bad or flawed (well, no worse than anyone else) person. Which takes some getting used to.
It also means I'm more OK alone. And supposedly you're supposed to learn to love yourself before you can love someone else and all that. But does anyone ever get to that point where they don't need someone? I doubt it, at least for people like me. I'm a performer. I am getting better at validating my own damn self, but I'm sure I'll always need something external. So I have been going on fewer dates, which may or may not be related. I don't know that I'm really into "dating" at this point. I certainly don't want anything steady. I discovered that in the mirror last night (there is a surprising amount of truth to be had if you can catch the look in your own eyes when you say something); I'd said "I'm not really looking for anything serious right now." And just like when I asked myself if I was worried people wouldn't like me because I don't like me (answer was: No), I had a moment of clarity, self-correction. I stopped on my way out of the bathroom and rephrased it: "I'm really not looking for anything serious right now." Amazing what a little word order can do.
And it's true. I'm not. I'm not looking to "play the field," either. I think what I'm looking for is a freedom from labels, at least from right now. I tried the whole playboy thing; it doesn't work for me. And I don't know what I was trying to prove. Congrats, you made out with another guy's date at a bar while he wasn't looking. Does that fulfill some magical checklist in your head?
But if anything good did come from that, it's saying "fuck you" to the rules. Anything and everything goes. I mean, I won't lie to anyone. I don't like deception. I'm too good at it (HUMBLE-EVIL-BRAG OMG) and it just leads to bad stuff. Usually, it's self-deception, like telling myself I can be what someone else wants me to be. And that's the kind of thing I won't do anymore. If I like someone, I tell them. But I don't have to like everyone. I can like some people and not love them. I can love some people and not want to bang them, even if they're female (this is nothing groundbreaking, but people make assumptions). I don't know that I convey that very well to the opposite sex, "Hey, I like you, but not in that way" or whatever, but it's there. Men and women can be friends, if they don't want to fuck. That said, I also don't have to be friends with/pretend to be friends with (more self-deception) someone I do want to have sex with. It's OK for me to say, "Hey, I can't spend all this time with you because it's going to drive me crazy." Basically, my feelings are valid, and to hell with what society says about them.
So, of course, that naturally means I'm alone. But meh. When the right person does come around, it will be really right. Because we're both being really honest with ourselves, and each other. Right? That's the theory, anyway. Until then, I'm keeping my mind, my heart, and my horizons open. I'm putting my shields down. I want to get to really know people, and likewise have them get to know me. "I want real human moments. I want to see you. I want you to see me."
So let's do it. Let's get naked. Let's strip away all the bullshit and be real humans. Acknowledge all the dark parts of us. We don't have to act on them, but neither do we have to suppress them. They'll just boil over. Or fester. But also pull down the bright and beautiful parts from their lofty, glorified perches, hold them in our hands, and turn them over. Examine them. Handle them. (Like, for example, that the most heroic deeds are tiny and everyday rather than epic.) Let's examine ourselves and find that instead of lacking, that we are perfectly imperfect, completely incomplete, just fine as we are. We are enough. We are all we will ever need to be. If we are the universe's way of knowing itself, then let us know ourselves, with all that entails and all the glorious potential we house.
Every atom in our bodies was born in the heart of a star. Let us shine, together.
mood: dont know just what I've found
|Friday, July 20th, 2012|
14.52 - "Sweet dreams... you bastard."
I got my CPAP machine yesterday, to treat my sleep apnea. It's weird sleeping with a mask on. And any time I opened my mouth, the positive pressure forces air out and wakes me up (turns out I do indeed talk in my sleep sometimes). But overall, it was better. I felt like I'd actually slept. The beans, they are cool.
It turns out that I'd been skipping out on slow-wave (aka deep) sleep, pretty often. A night without deep sleep just can't be restful. It's physically impossible. So that explains a LOT about my non-existent energy levels. As I've said before, I'm expecting not just more energy but a better metabolism and maybe even an actual decent immune system.
I'm looking forward to the point where I'm used to the device. I am looking forward to waking up refreshed—even more refreshed than I felt this morning, which I'm sure is just the tip of the iceberg.
mood: prepare your sleep apparatus
|Tuesday, July 17th, 2012|
11.39 - Matricks
I think the whole "humans vs. machines" things in the Matrix was just a red herring. Or, at least, symbolized something else.
Neo is able to perceive the 'source code' and change it. And what's the quote? "Through our eyes, the universe is perceiving itself." We are the universe's method for experiencing itself. And what is consciousness but the ability to understand one's programming—the deterministic (to an unknown degree) rules that govern one's behavior/existence—and change it. So, in essence, it's a system (whether it be a universe, a machine AI, or an organism is irrelevant) achieving consciousness, sentience, awareness.
mood: idle thoughts
|Wednesday, July 11th, 2012|
18.34 - I know it's dumb to say...
When it's all over and the dust has settled, I will have more friends than anyone.
But I'll still be alone. Go figure.
Recently, I said to a friend that I was trying to push myself outside the comfort zone, because I know that's where the magic happens, but it's nice to be able to rest occasionally. And she had a good response: "Outside the comfort zone only works if there's a comfort zone." (I'm paraphrasing, don't quote me on it.)
And man, could I use some comfort right now. Just someone to sit on the couch and watch bad TV/movies with. And possibly the occasional snuggle. Because I miss that.
Wah wah wah. I'll get over it. "This, too, will pass."
mood: meh, dating
3 voices - [mouth|ears]
|Tuesday, July 10th, 2012|
12.39 - FBoFW
One thing about spam comments is that they often send me back to old entries. (ex.)
2 voices - [mouth|ears]
|Tuesday, June 26th, 2012|
12.37 - He ain't a heavy breather, he's my brother
I finally got the results from my sleep study back, and on a scale of "mild, moderate, severe," I have moderate sleep apnea.
And wow. Just wow. Talk about life-changing.
"All those wasted years... all those precious, wasted years."
I've suffered from insomnia since I was 12, maybe earlier. I've always been a light sleeper. I don't know how long I've had the apnea, but it's quite possible all of my "laziness" (or the vast majority of) was just from a lack of decent sleep. I wouldn't be surprised if it was a component in my depression. All the times I struggled with various jobs. All the projects I never had the energy to finish. Shoot, probably even my weight; I've always had trouble physically dragging myself out of bed to exercise.
Because I've always been motivated. Which is what made so little sense. I couldn't be lazy, I loved doing stuff, or otherwise didn't have a problem doing stuff other people complained about.
Still unpacking this. I will probably have to wait until my health insurance switches over on July 1st to get any treatment/equipment.
I don't want to pin too much on it, but since getting my medication under control and starting to feel much better about myself, the energy has remained the missing piece. And now, who knows? I may become a totally different person.
1 voice - [mouth|ears]
|Friday, June 22nd, 2012|
15.56 - Good Grief
Getting comfortable with myself. This is good.
mood: a delicate smile
1 voice - [mouth|ears]
|Sunday, June 17th, 2012|
21.55 - What you want
This video reminded me of a dream I had last night. I played the video because of the audio, specifically the lyrics, prompted by the sudden re-emergence of this song in my head despite the fact that I haven't heard it in who knows how long.
Regarding the dream: Well, the part I remember is folks being over at my place and critiquing the old radio tuner/console that I got from my dad's effects (Happy Fathers' Day, orphans/Batmen). And they were ripping on the fact that it's missing a few knobs or switches or whatever. But, you know, whatever I got from my dad, in terms of either physical possessions or genetics or personality traits or whatever—well, it's mine. For better or for worse. I am who I am. And if you don't like it, you can either help me fix it, or get the fuck out of my home.
Last night, there was a girl who was somewhat snidely incredulous that I carry a Leatherman most everywhere I go, even while I was fixing her favorite necklace with it. Form follows function, people. If you don't like my tools, I can always take them elsewhere.
This is the kind of standoffishness I was worried about. I'm not this insufferable in real life. If anything, I'm not insufferable enough.
2 voices - [mouth|ears]
|Thursday, June 14th, 2012|
14.37 - tubglr
oh shit im on tumbler now
1 voice - [mouth|ears]
09.42 - There's no one else more worth living for
Reminder: Live for yourself.
Make decisions based on what's right for you.
Ask yourself: "What do I want?"
All things for me to keep in mind.
It's not a question of being a nice guy vs. being an asshole. It's taking care of yourself (and you can't take care of others if you're a shambles). It's not even putting yourself first; it's putting yourself on an even footing with everyone else. You're just as good as they are. Your needs are just as valid as theirs.
There's nothing noble about being stepped on.
mood: keep your girlfriend
1 voice - [mouth|ears]
|Monday, June 11th, 2012|
12.47 - Helplessly Helpful
I had an interesting dream last night. Interesting to me, at least, because of what it says about me psychologically.
I was walking down the hill that leads towards my grandmother's apartment building. I was talking to my boss (strangely) who was discussing my job performance. Although I was doing well, she said that I should be doing so much more. And not in a "better at my job" sense; in an "improving the world" sense. She reminded me that I'd scored the second-highest ever score in their application test (a test that was laughably complex in any real world job less than, say, genius-level government think tank, butmy brain still thinks in terms of SATs and achievement tests; they were only part of my life from the time I was 4 until the time I was 29). The only higher score was the perfect score some savant kid got, and it turned out he didn't work well with others (he wasn't high-functioning enough; I don't mean that he was some asshole).
So I looked up the ridge across the street from my grandmother's to see this new high-rise they were building, and suddenly my mother and grandmother had replaced my boss, and were talking about the stresses the building materials were under, and how I should be able to endure much, much more. But in looking at the unfinished skeleton of iron girders, I thought back to my work with polarized light and how it was used in stress analysis. I felt like I could 'see' the structural weaknesses, and what I saw wasn't reassuring. Additionally, they were building the thing with some kind of overhang (to increase square-footage?) and it all looked very precarious.
We went inside the building and into this common area that doesn't exist IRL, where folks and families were milling about, sitting together, chit-chatting, etc. I generally hate idle chit-chat, so I wandered over to the window and looked out and up. I saw them lifting girders into place for the new building, and I expressed concern that their path went over the front end of the room we were in. I moved to the back of the room and encouraged my family members to do the same. I wasn't worried enough to raise a general alarm or anything. My mom came with me, but my grandmother was talking to one of her friends. My mom started talking to me, I forget what about but likely something related to her current brand of religious fundamentalism. Whatever it was, it got me mad enough to take my focus off of my grandmother. So when the cable on the crane frayed and snapped, dropping a huge girder across the other end of the room, I had no idea where my grandmother was. Real world problem that worked its way into my dream: She's been having trouble with her phone, making it hard to get in touch with her. So I basically have to tell my mom to shut up and tell me if she can remember seeing my grandmother leave (can't go check because the exit is blocked). We take turns calling her until I finally get through. My (normally-unflappable) grandmother is in tears, totally shaken up (but alive) by her brush with death (she'd left the room just moments before to get something from her apartment). And I'm kicking myself for not having been able to do something, or stop it, be more sure in my prediction.
And then things sort of stop for a moment. Time stops, or I stop paying attention to it. In my head, I go into my brain and observe all these many counterfactual scenarios that are zooming around. And I'm looking at all these "what I should have done" moments and they're all insane and not at all realistic, like lifting the girder with super-strength (as if it's my fault for not being Superman or the Thing or Tony Stark).
Because fuck it, let's face it, I'm addicted to helping. It's all fine and well to say I need to be less accommodating and life for myself, and so on, but what's left when that's all I am? I am a little engine of change powered by self-doubt, a furnace that forges equal parts empathy and solutions. I know that's not true, that I'm nothing if I'm not that guy who's always there for someone, always willing to help, always ready to sacrifice. I don't know what it'll be. I worry that, as an overcorrection, I'll start acting like some kind of jerk or asshole or jerk-asshole hybrid. I worry that I'll lose my friends. I worry that it won't be me. All that typical bullshit.
And as I lay there, realizing I was now awake, working through my thoughts like Rain Man trying to solve "Who's on First?" I thought of the story from Astro City about the hero (Samaritan, the Superman analogue) who dreams in his brief dreams of flying, free of the responsibility of caring for the people on the ground below him. Free of having to fly, non-stop, around the globe to stop endless catastrophes. With nothing to fix, and, more importantly, nothing to fail at. Because I imagine what gnaws away at Superman most (I'd say keeps him up at night, but I don't actually know if/how he sleeps) are all the things he couldn't fix, all the people he couldn't save. Being helpful can be a terrible, oppressive responsibility, especially if it's essential to your self-concept, or, like me, it's where you derive your sense of self-worth.
I'm working on internal validation, but man is it ever hard to switch a vehicle from one fuel source to another, especially if the latter is scarce.