Other Resolutions

I resolve to get out of this depressive funk I’ve been stuck in for over a year. I want to feel happy and productive and creative again.

I resolve to find a job I like and that pays the bills. I’m tired of work being a stopgap. I want something that I’d be comfortable doing for a while, not where I feel like I need to start hustling for the next job right after I get it.

I resolve to get out and involved and meeting new friends. I can make excuses all I want — putting myself out there scares me. But this is how you meet new people.

I resolve to learn to be at peace with myself. Life is too short to beat myself up just because there are people who don’t want me in their life. I understand this, and yet I continue to do it. I need to know this. It’s an important distinction.

Okay, more cheerful post later, I promise.

On Being Lovelorn

I never thought girls had cooties. I always had crushes, always the starry-eyed hopeless romantic, and unfortunately, almost always lovelorn. This is the way of things when you feel that love should be shared and celebrated, whether it’s platonic or romantic, whether you love someone or are in love with someone: you “love not wisely but too well”, and it goes unrequited. The bright side is that because you allow yourself that freedom of love, you learn to accept it. You’re able to pick up the pieces, and move on — perhaps not forgetting, but accepting, and forging forward.

But sometimes, it doesn’t work like that. There are some that for whatever reason, you don’t forget them, and you can’t accept that they’re gone, and forging forward seems an insurmountable task. The ones that, when you’ve got yourself back together, and you think you’re ready, they pop back up in one fashion or another. A phone call, an email, a picture, running into them on the street, just the glance, the hint, and you’re right back where you were: picking up the pieces, and trying to forget how they felt in your arms, their smell, their voice soft in your ear.

It doesn’t matter how strong or aloof you are, how stable a personality you have or logical you are. You can be a player, or a saint, or be able to cope with disasters both epic and personal without breaking a sweat. You can be inured to love’s foibles (or think you are) all you want, there’s still that person out there that bypasses all your defenses and coping mechanisms and destroys you, without trying or even wanting to. Pointing out their faults doesn’t help, knowing you should move on doesn’t help, knowing there are others out there doesn’t help. It’s too late: you are lost.

I’ve loved a lot of people in my past. And I’ll love many more before I’m through. I’ve been in love, and have been lucky and blessed enough to be loved in return, and will be in love again. I know this. And one day, I may well finally be over her. But not today.
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The Face of Things

Sometimes, in particular when you’re stressed and depressed, even taking control of the littlest thing in your life is a monumental accomplishment. It can be as simple as cleaning your desk and sorting all the bills and paperwork and random effluvium of day to day life into piles, even if you can’t actually do anything ABOUT said cruft. I cleaned my desk and sorted my piles and I do, in fact, feel accomplished by this. It certainly helps that in the process of this, I found a dividend check from March. In celebration of this unexpected (and direly needed) windfall, I’m spending $10 of it on a bowl of potato leek soup, an iced coffee, and a piece of cherry pie (which to borrow a phrase from Agent Cooper, is damned fine), down at Zoka. It is, as ever, the little treats we allow ourselves that make life worth living.

In the grand scheme of things, life could be worse. While I’m in debt well beyond my means, I do still have a roof over my head, food in my stomach, and a job that I enjoy well enough and keeps me from being in a far worse position. I don’t know many people here, which does lead to some (alright, a lot of) lonely moments, but no one is shooting at me or really attacking me at all, physically, mentally, or spiritually. I’ve got my share of angst over my last breakup, but even that is only unmanageable in that I’ve yet to actually move on, for a variety of reasons that don’t need elaborating here. Life is perhaps not good, but it is certainly not bad, either. There are no epic tragedies, just a lot of little grievances that have added up to one hell of a funk: it puts me in mind of a quote from Ovid — “Gutta cavat lapidem (Dripping water hollows out a stone)”, which seems to also be the basis of what the Litany Against Fear from Dune is talking about: “fear is the mindkiller. Fear is the little death that brings total obliteration…” It doesn’t have to be anything big, in fact it’s less likely to be since the big stuff we face head on, we address it and cope with it. But the little things, they’re insipid, they accrete like a gall stone, they eat away at our core one drop at a time.

And if we spot it? Generally, this means it is because things have already worn away to leave a cavity, so you are faced with an uphill battle, late out the gate. But you have to try. You have to pull yourself up by the bootstraps, and put one foot in front of the other, even when every inch forward feels like a mile. Not for some perceived glory, not for some light at tne end of the tunnel, but because you don’t have a choice. It is the very essence of life and death, because if you don’t get up and try, you’re dead or will be soon.

So, yeah, things could be worse. That’s not an invitation for things to become worse, mind you, but it is an acknowledgement and a declaration: I have let myself slide down under the weight of my stone, and it is high time that I start pushing it back up that goddamn hill.

Writing in the Evening

There will be a music post that will go up sometime later tonight (you know, after I write it), but for now, other things:

I’ve been writing a lot lately. Every morning, I get up early, and drive in to work, usually get there by 7:15 for an 8 o’clock shift. This is mostly because if I wait, the traffic gets far heavier and far more variable: hard to nail a time closer to 8 without going over consistently. So, I go upstairs, into the breakroom, grab a cup of coffee (of mediocre quality at best… dunno if the machine needs to be filled, or the coffee they’re using has “expired” or what, but yeah, not good), and then go sit by the window and write for 20, 30, 40 minutes. Most of it is just personal journaling, a sort of abridged morning pages, but I’ve found it immensely useful and meditative, a good way to start my day. In fact, I felt so good that I sat down this morning and punched out arguably my best cover letter to date, discussing a community manager position at Blizzard… which was promptly eaten by Outlook Webmail, and is gone, unrecoverable and sorely missed. I haven’t been able to recreate it, and get that flow going again. Very frustrating. I’ll give it another shot later, as there are FOUR positions listed at Blizzard that I’d be good at and would like to do, so it’d be foolish to give up because of that.

I went home this evening, and sat in my apartment, stuffy from the day’s heat, and decided I really really didn’t want to be there right now, so I grabbed my laptop, and went out for ice cream. I discovered that Ben&Jerry’s has a new flavor (or at least, it’s the first time I’ve seen it), which is a take on the chocolate chip cookie dough using gooey oatmeal cookies instead. Quite tasty. It was totally eating a good oatmeal cookie in ice cream form. Big thumbs up to that.

As I sat on a bench eating my ice cream cone, I realized that it was pretty symbolic of where my life is right now: doing what is generally considered a social activity (going for ice cream) alone. And that is likely where my life will be for the foreseeable future. I’ve met some people, such as those at work, that are good people, and are friendly, but I can’t seem to bring myself to pick up the damned phone and call and make the effort to hang out. It’s not that I don’t like them: far from it. I’m just not clicking in, and it’s purely on my side of things. When I’m in roles where I feel like I have to put on a “public” face, putting the energy into establishing and maintaining contact and communicating with people, I’ve found myself feeling like I’m constantly out of breath (regardless of how I’m actually breathing). I’ve had so few socially energizing experiences since coming out here (ie, moments where I can “let my hair down” so to speak and simply BE with someone without any sort of holding each other at arms length) that I feel like I’m running on fumes.

Which is sort of a tangent from the point: I had an overwhelmingly vivid image of me eating alone, watching socialization from the outside. I didn’t feel upset or happy about it, I simply accepted it. This is the way of things right now: I’m single, I’m solo, and until something changes and I click in somewhere with someone, that’s the way it’s going to be. I’ve been told by two different people that you never know when things will change, and you never know when someone is going to show up and click. This may be true, but for right now, I’d say I have a better chance at winning the lottery. Similar philosophy, too: if it happens, awesome, but I’m not holding my breath. (Not trying to be pessimistic or bitter, just aware of where I am and what’s going on around me.)

No Friday

Apologies for the lack of a music post on Friday. I debated writing one and back-posting it over the weekend, but ended up opting not to. No good reason, it just didn’t happen. In fact, not much happened all weekend — felt a little anti-social and worn out, and spent most of the weekend playing World of Warcraft as a result. That said, I did spend a few hours today trying to clean/reorganize my apartment so the stack of books that were occupying half my desk now actually have shelf space (much juggling, and a little haphazard in terms of organization towards the end of it), and other random assorted foo. Sometimes you need the down time, I guess.

I’ve been working for the past few weeks doing functional testing for some video games. It’s enjoyable, and I like my coworkers well enough, though I will admit, you do get a little sick of playing the same game over and over and over again. All in all, it’s pretty laid back: we each have our station, and we’re pretty self-driven. I don’t think it’s what I’d want to do forever (even if it paid better), but it’s a nice gig for now, and hopefully will provide a leg up to other positions I’m interested in. It’s kind of ironic that I set out to do this “daily music” thing right around the same time I started working again, and thus suddenly didn’t have as much time to rummage around for neat music, but by and large I think I’ve managed to get by. Any thoughts or comments on the format or music you’d like me to review, let me know.

I’m at a point in this whole “single and isolated” thing where I’m really sick of putting in the effort for essentially no reward. Just feeling kind of disillusioned with the social and dating “game”, which frankly I was never a fan of anyway. I’m sure it’s just a passing thing and sooner or later I’ll give it another shot, but for now… meh. I’ll happily talk to anyone who puts in the effort to show enough interest to say hi, but I’m done trying to initiate.

Selling Kidneys Averted

With much thanks to the lovely Mickey, I now have money to pay my bills this month and hopefully still have some float for while work gets into gear. She bought my G5… it’s MARKEDLY faster than her current machine, and has half a terabyte of storage to help house her pictures, and helps me out of a really tight spot in the process. I also reactivated CS2 on it before handing it over, so until she picks up her copy of CS3, she has a more up to date copy of Photoshop in the process. In the meantime, no CS2 on my laptop, but I like doing Photoshop on the desktop more anyway, so no biggie. Just need to remember to migrate the activation to the laptop when I fly east for a week in July.

I haven’t forgotten my plan to start reviewing songs on here, I just got a little delayed in working to make sure I have food on the table. I’ll aim to actually start it Monday (tomorrow).

There’s a lot else to talk about. I hit a really low spot the other day, quite possibly the lowest I’ve been, even through the anti-depressants I’ve been prescribed. I was a mess, and sort of let my apartment become a mess (been working today on correcting that), and… well, it was rough. It wasn’t any one thing, just everything caught up to me at once, the job issues, the lack of money, the speeding ticket, the loneliness, the girl troubles. I ended up talking with my friend Lorna, recently back from Japan, and Chris out in Norway even gave a much needed and appreciated phone call. We talked a fair bit about what I need to do to get out of this hole, and that on some level, hitting bottom is a good thing (though it sucks). Talked about taking any shit job that’ll pay the bills, and when you get off work, spend the rest of the evening working on what you’re passionate about. Getting out of my own way and experiencing the muck and the shit that life has to offer. It would help give me more humanity in my writing — while I’m technically a good writer (while I occasionally make slips, my grammar, spelling, and vocabulary are good), and my theory on a number of things is good, I lack that pathos in my writing that gives it passion and humanity. And y’know, it’s true. My writing, while perhaps not sterile, isn’t exactly full of the human element, either. It’s something I’ve been aware of for a while, and it’s something I need to work on.

I’ve managed to convince a friend to come up for the week at Squam in July, which should be great, as it’s been a while since I’ve seen them. Of course, “convince” might bit a strong term… being able to relax by the lake and catch up on reading and chatting idly is pretty enticing on its own. It does mean that I’ve gone from “eagerly anticipating” to full on “excited” about coming back in July.

Some Days You’re Busy

Nabil in November 06…and some days, you’re just a bum.

May has been a weak writing month so far, for no discernable reason. A good chunk of the first half of the month was spent working nearly every day — good for the wallet, bad for writing. This week, however, I’m not sure if I’ll be working at all: the problem with this testing gig (other than low pay and no benefits) is that it’s as-needed, and sometimes projects simply don’t time out to give steady work. There may be a shift starting on Wednesday, but in the meantime, that means Monday and Tuesday are something of a wash. I managed to get some errands done today, and tomorrow is supposed to be beautiful and warm, so I’m hoping to go out and enjoy it.

Saturday morning, I got up and headed south to Portland, where I helped my friend Adam move one of his friends into her new place… we got back north about 4am, so a kind of long day, but it was fun and good nevertheless. It felt good to get out and doing something with other people. Timing unfortunately didn’t work out to catch up with Dan, but hopefully I’ll manage to track him down some other weekend.

I’ve been doing a bit of reading about HDR photography, and decided to experiment a bit with some of my existing work… I already take doubles and triples of a lot of my shots, so I figured it’d be reasonable to find at least a few sets that would be suitable (the best way to create an HDR image is to set your camera to do exposure bracketing, and do multiple shots at multiple exposures… 3-9 shots at different exposures should give you a nice range… tripods are practically a must). In the process or sifting around, I found my shots from spending Thanksgiving down with Claire and her family in Williamsburg, VA. I miss her like crazy.

I tend not to talk much on this blog about the personal stuff — I’ll bore you to death with mundane shit and idle references, but when it comes to personal interactions, they at most get a mention. This is entirely intentional, and has nothing to do with wanting to avoid being “emo” or any other similar poseur bullshit. It comes down to the fact that it’s personal and private. Sometimes I think I shut it down a bit too much, though, so let me open up a little bit: this past fall, I wasn’t exactly in the best frame of mind, and several events transpired that exacerbated it — in short, I was a trainwreck. I ended up relying heavily on Claire for support and a receptive ear, which put a lot of extra stress on her. Things started to fall apart, and ended back in January with her decision to cut off all contact. This is largely my own damned fault, and you’ll not hear me argue any different. I regret where things ended up, and daily wish there was some way to fix things. Not looking for anything, not pity nor advice, just saying it because it’s been on my mind.

Of Many Things

Let’s just get it out there: Kurt Vonnegut died. Chances are pretty good you already knew that, given that it’s been all over the news and blogs and everywhere else. Still, putting it out there in case you hadn’t (also, because the article at the NY Times is pretty well written and worth the read).

Thanks to everyone who wished me a happy birthday on Tuesday — the day itself was pretty “meh,” a genuine non-day that I spent alone, but that in and of itself is an improvement from a lot of my recent past birthdays. So — thanks, it meant a lot to get the well wishes. I did pick up some shoes (my Keens are completely shredded, hardly a good impression during job interviews), so I swung by Wooly Mammoth in the University district and picked up some Clarks on sale. They’re pretty snazzy, though I must admit after spending the past month in sandals, it does feel weird to be back in a closed shoe. Still the toe room is good, they’re light, good insoles… they just feel light on the feet.

I’ve been sleeping in a lot lately, which isn’t really a good thing, but hardly unexpected. The anti-depressant medication helps me through the day, but the process of waking up is still a pain (even if I take the meds before bed). I don’t think I mentioned that I’m back on meds for it before, but yeah, since November or so. I was having a pretty bad depressive relapse due to fallout from my breakup and stress from finances and lack of work and just in general trying to figure out what I was doing with myself. I wouldn’t exactly say I’m “better,” but the meds do help me get a grip on things. Except the sleep part. Worry about money and work is mounting, and so my “defense” mechanism of sleeping too much is rearing its head. (It’s not that uncommon, the rationalization is that if you sleep through it, it’ll go away. That the world doesn’t really work like that is irrelevant.) I suspect some low grade dehydration might also have something to do with it (it’s never good when you can actually recollect all the liquid you’ve ingested in a day, and that most of it is caffeinated — and not even much of that).

Not trying to get mopey or anything, just sometimes you have a down day.

The most recent issue of LensWork (an excellent photographic magazine if you haven’t already checked it out) discussed a new podcast they’ve launched, that offers “commentary” rather than “critique” for a particular image from one of their current issues. The article that expanded on this topic went on to explain that whether you like or don’t like an image is relatively useless to anyone but yourself, and similarly, while exploring the technical merit of a print has value, describing how you would change it is also irrelevant — you are viewing the finished product, so unless you are planning to do a variant of the image, it doesn’t really matter what you would change. So they’ve opted to instead call their work a commentary on the image, similar to the work a docent might do in a gallery or museum.

While I applaud the decision to explore the content and context of an image rather than simply review it, personally I would have preferred that they had opted to make an effort to re-take the value and intent of “critique”. Literary or Art Criticism functions exactly as they are describing, and as I’ve mentioned before, what they are describing is the core function of critique. Just because in the photographic community the term has been co-opted for what largely amounts to a technical (or even subjective!) review doesn’t mean that the term is a lost cause. Don’t get me wrong, a technical review absolutely has merit, especially within the professional community for the purposes of furthering one’s craft, but it is only one element of a wider form of criticism that is largely being ignored — ignored to the point that a national magazine like LensWork felt it necessary to divorce themselves of the term!

That said, I still really enjoy the magazine. The photography in it is exquisite, and reading over the biographies of a number of the artists is really encouraging — many start out with “I went and did something else for 20 years, and only got back into photography quite recently,” which is encouraging in that it suggests that 1) technical excellence can be gained or regained quickly, and 2) that you don’t necessarily have to work at your craft for 50 years just be start to be recognized.

It’s kind of strange, in that I feel that I still have so much to learn in terms of craft in so many fields that I wish to pursue, but at the same time feel like it’s time in my life to start leaving a mark, to create and do. It’s a weird dichotomy, the urge to create and but the need to further craft in order to do so. I don’t think I’m really properly explaining it, but this will have to do for now.


I’m sure it’s exacerbated by the fact that I’m sleeping on the floor with a sleeping pad, but I’ve had little to no sleep the past two nights. Last night I got roughly 20 minutes of sleep… I say roughly because I remember checking my watch and seeing that it was 6am, and then actually waking up at 6:30 when my alarm went off (had a job interview at 8… I’m hoping it went well, but I’m not sitting around waiting for it, either). The rest of the night I can remember in excruciating detail. Got up, went to my interview, then went over to Zoka to leech bandwidth and get some juice and a chai. Their network is a little overly locked down, in my opinion: most of the ports are locked down, which means that I can’t check my email securely, or even log into Avatar (found a nice little workaround for that… the standard ssh port IS open, so I ssh into the host and then telnet remotely from there). Interestingly, even the Gtalk port is locked down, though none of the other IM services appear to be.

Something I meant to sent to Lichen last week but forgot: are you aware of the library and literacy initiative in Portland, OR? It was remarkably refreshing to see billboards promoting reading nights not only at the local libraries, but at cafe’s, sponsored by libraries. I think that’s a fantastic marriage. Coffee and books have already been wedded together for years thanks to the prevalence of cafes in every Barnes and Noble and Borders (to name a few), so why not leverage that link for libraries as well?

Today, I think I need to buy a shower head and a pillow… I gave the shower head that’s in there a fair shot, but a) it sprays everywhere, b) it’s too low (I’m sorry, I shouldn’t have to practice yoga to wash my hair), and c) the water pressure out of specific parts of the nozzle could cut diamonds. The desire for a pillow I imagine should go without saying.

Links for the Moment

A Periodic Table of Visualization Methods, discovered via Chris Pelsor’s snogblog. For those of you who dig on this sort of stuff, it’s totally a good find, lots of good information.

How To Be Friends With Your Ex is a good read, kind of relevant to me personally. There’s a lot to the whole notion of staying friends with an ex. My own personal philosophy stems from the idea that just because a relationship is ending, it doesn’t mean you suddenly stop loving someone. I still love all my exes, there’s no doubt in my mind about that. My opinion is that it’s a heck of a lot easier to process the loss of the relationship if you’re not trying to also suddenly “un-love” someone. Acknowledge that you still love them, and that they still love you, but that the relationship wasn’t working out. Something to consider is that you started dating this person because you felt they were good people. I won’t say that there aren’t some wolves masquerading as sheep so to speak, but generally, if you trust your judge of character elsewhere, you should trust it in this as well. If you trust your judge of character and believe that they’re good people, then why should that abruptly change because they’ve decided the relationship wasn’t working out? If you can accept that they’re still good people, but simply couldn’t remain in the relationship (for any number of reasons), then it becomes a LOT easier to become friends again a hell of a lot sooner. It’s a lot better in the long run, in my opinion, to change the nature of your love (from more eros to an agape-centric love), than to try and kill all feelings for someone and then maybe become friends at some distant future point.

There’s a lot more to all that than I’m really writing down, but for now that will have to do. It’s already a kind of cluttered explanation, but until I sit down and let it percolate for a while, I don’t think I’m going to do better.