31 December, 2007

Open Stage (or Performing Madness)

"The only performance that makes it, that really makes it, that makes it all the way, is the one that achieves madness."

- Mick Jagger, from Performance

Though I am a NEET, "nothing" is never a good answer to the question "what do you do?" So the next best answer for me is probably "starving musician" - although, despite not making any money, I'm not technically starving. However, if my 'job' is recording music, then I haven't been to 'work' in months. And if my 'job' is performing for an audience, I only go to 'work' one night every two weeks.

On the recording side of the spectrum, I'm currently in the progress of recording an album - my first real album (Clear As Mud). Completely self-produced, recorded in the comfort of my own room, with only the equipment I own. But I've kind of run into a brick wall, and progress has been halted more or less indefinitely. Mostly because I am insufferably lazy, or if I may shift the blame onto psychology, I suffer from an avoidant personality. But I'm starting to come around to the idea of working with someone I know in their semi-professional studio, to help me record something worthwhile. I figure, getting away from all the mess of trying to record a sound, and just focusing on playing that sound, will help the flow of things immensely. We'll see. I have yet to make a move on that front.

On the performing side of the spectrum, I've been going to a bi-weekly open stage at the local coffee den (hereby referred to as "the den") regularly for the last 3 and a half years or so, except for the time I've been away at college. The open stage is hosted by a really groovy local folk rock band (The Primatives), whom I have become rather friendly with over the past few years. They're incredibly supportive of local and budding musicians (hence hosting the open stage), and they're a very good folk band that rocks.

Back in the summer of '04 (The Summer of Dreams), when the open stage was just being brought to my attention, I started developing my performing chops (if you could even call it that). I got a gig at the den with my brother, who was just starting to play guitar, and we played a bunch of mostly classic rock covers that were admittably rough, but it was all in the name of fun and the experience of actually pulling together a show of our own (though mostly just for friends, and the staff at the den). We called ourselves The Crunge. Since then, we've played a few more shows, though the last one was a little while back. We seem to have moved in somewhat independent musical directions. But, throughout it all, the open stage has lived on.

At first, heck, even now, learning a couple new songs to play every other week was a real pain. Maybe if you're just learning a few chords and some lyrics, like for a Bob Dylan song, that's alright (no offense to Mr. Dylan). But for a guitarist like me, who wants to play killer licks and hot riffs and sultry solos, and didn't really care much about singing, it was a lot harder to come up with something new. Of course, there's always the option of playing the same old stuff over and over again, but I feel like I have to at least try to mix it up. Nobody wants to hear the exact same songs every single time (well I don't, at least).

So I managed to get by, and I learned a bunch of songs in the process, and I generally got more comfortable with going up and playing in front of an audience, which is great. But, that's still pretty much limited to the familiar crowd of the den. There's another open stage nearby, at Empire, but I have yet to make the leap and play there. I tell myself that part of the reason is that, being a guitar store instead of a coffee shop, with the bright lights and the sterile atmosphere, it feels a lot less comfortable than the den. But part of it is undoubtedly the fear of playing to a crowd largely made up of people I haven't played to before. But I guess that's an important step in the process to becoming a performing musician. I mean, what's the point of playing to the same people every day? I'd love to be able to tour the country, or parhaps even the world, and that means playing to strangers every night. But that would assume I had musicians to play with, to bounce my playing off of, and that we actually had something worth playing to people. You can probably tell I don't have much confidence in my talents at this stage.

Sometime during the past fall, or perhaps late summer, I was jamming on electric guitar, just doing random improvised stuff, the stuff I do to please myself, and that I don't really expect anyone else to appreciate. You know, experimental, electric noise. Playing with feedback and stuff like that. I was fooling around with a bow, a la Jimmy Page, getting some neat sounds, and my dad's friend (also a guitarist, though generally acoustic, and more folky than I) remarked that that was the kind of thing I should do at the open stage, to really put on a performance. So hell, I decided to give up the whole song-playing shtick (although by this point I was actually doing fairly well at covering some classic Peter Green songs, and had even been getting compliments on my singing, which is something I've never put much conscious effort into improving), and just plug into the sonic waves of chaos, as a sort of anarchic musical expression.

People were actually impressed. Although there are some that honestly admit that my playing is a little too loud and grating and dissonant - a completely understandable reaction - even they tend to admit that I've got *something* going on, even if they're not quite sure they understand what it is. One time, I even got a request to turn it up! And I've heard that people keep asking about what kind of pedals I'm using, to get the bizarre sounds I can coax out of my guitar, only to be surprised that it's just me, my guitar, and a regular old amp with built-in distortion. It's an exhilarating experience, and the playing is very physical - sometimes even involving smacking my guitar around - so it's quite a workout, and I always feel pretty good after I finish, even though on some nights I have a better opinion of my performance than others.

So what's the trick? Even before a baby learns to talk, it knows instinctively how to scream. That's more or less what I'm doing. I haven't learned all the sophisticated ways to make a guitar talk and say certain things, but I have a lot of musical frustration inside me (mostly because that sort of talent doesn't come naturally to me like it does to my idols) and this is my way of getting it out. The only reason it's any good, I suspect, is because 1) I can actually coax some pretty interesting sounds out of my guitar that tend to make even some guitarists curious, and 2) listening to experimental music, particularly of the post-rock and related varieties, has given me something of an ear for creating soundscapes that vary between the immensely loud and the comparatively quiet. Maybe I actually have something going for me with this new shtick. I dunno, I also feel like I can really only go so far before I've found all the sounds I can make and put them in all the relatively interesting combinations possible after which people will quickly start to get bored. But who knows until that happens, right?

In the meantime, I still have a desire to learn to play guitar the 'right' way, particularly in the form of the blues. It just doesn't seem like I'm anywhere close to making any kind of money out of it, let alone turning it into a career. Still, it's probably one of the things, if not *the* one thing, I'd truly enjoy doing with my life.

Update - Nude Modelling

Excited by the idea of modelling nude, I've done a bit of web research, which is something I do extensively when I find things that I want to try. I have to plan everything ahead, and I like to know exactly what I'm getting into beforehand, else I get incredibly nervous because I don't know what to expect or how to act, and I become paralyzed by the fear that I'll do something wrong or stupid and embarrass myself. Ultimately, I can only know so much by reading about things ahead of time, and the one thing I really need to do is actually go out and try it. But you know, that's really, really tough for me. Especially something like this. I've toyed with the idea of modelling nude for an art class in the past, but every single time I've considered it, I haven't gotten nearly close enough to actually try it. I wish I was back in college right now, because I remember them sending out campus-wide emails asking for models, and if I was in that situation right now, I think I'd actually try it. But where I am now, it might be a little harder, and until I find something I'm comfortable with, I'm bound to read up as much as I can about it.

I seem to possess the two most important attributes to being a nude model, according to one person whose account I've read - that is 1) owning a robe, and 2) being willing to take it off. Believe it or not, it's not the idea of getting nude in front of a room full of strangers that concerns me the most. But rather, it's having to strike artistically interesting poses on command, and to a lesser extent, holding them for potentially long periods of time. I'm pretty good at keeping my body still, although that doesn't necessarily mean it's comfortable. But I can remember general moments in my life where I'd get all nervous being in a room full of people, and I'd freeze up. I'd be too scared to even move. I wouldn't want to do so much as shift my foot, or scratch an itch, or move my head the slightest bit, for fear of attracting attention. I guess it sounds like I'm the right man for the job, then? But still, how am I supposed to know how to pose? I don't want to pick something terribly uninteresting, and I don't want to put myself in a position where I'd get incredibly uncomfortable after an extended period of time holding the pose. I guess it's just something I'll have to think about.

30 December, 2007

Lament For My Computer

For the past nine months or so, I've had two personal computers, which I've used simultaneously. I had my old college computer, which is about a good 5 years old by now, and a slightly newer computer which my friend sold to me when he left the country (about nine months ago). Now, I was growing up right when computers were becoming huge, so I'm comfortable around the technology, but I in no way consider myself a technophile. My friend, the one who sold me his computer, is a natural when it comes to working with computers, and he's helped me through a lot of computer-related obstacles in the time I've known him (this latest one included).

As it were, I had most of my files on the old computer (hereby referred to as 'nanashi', since I never properly named it), while I worked mostly on the newer computer (hereby referred to as 'harmonia'). Harmonia also had the internet connection, of the two. But nanashi still served the purpose of being my jukebox, containing all my digital music files (mostly ripped from my CD collection), as well as being a storage bin of sorts. I even recently bought a tiny FM transmitter so I could tune into my winamp playlist on nanashi anywhere in the house. But just the other day, nanashi died.

I've never had a computer die on me before. The first personal computer I had all to myself, just sort of got slower and slower, and buggier and buggier, and eventually picked up the habit of shutting down without warning after five or so minutes of use (I got into the habit of saving very, very, very often while typing things in notepad), but it never reached a point where it completely failed to work, at all. Other computers I've had or known of have simply been replaced when they outlived their usefulness, before actually giving up the ghost. But nanashi just died. I woke up one morning, and it had turned off by itself. I couldn't get it to turn back on. I'd push the button, and nothing would happen. No sounds, no lights, nothing. It was plugged in and everything. But no life. Nanashi was done for.

Maybe it was because I kept it on for ridiculous stretches, without bothering to give it a break, or without even restarting it every few weeks or so. Maybe it was because I had it running a playlist practically 24/7 for a long time. Whatever the reason, the reality of the situation hit me hard - if I couldn't get the computer to even turn on anymore, how was I going to get the all-important data off of its hard drive?!

That's where my computer whiz friend came in. With his assistance, he actually had me taking both of my computers apart and removing and installing hard drives. And with his guidance, I seem to be doing alright, despite never having been exposed to the innards of a computer before. And the best part - that precious data on my hard drive has not been lost from my reach!

So, what I had to do was, since the enclosure for the external drive I had laying around refused to work properly, I had to take the hard drive from nanashi out, and switch it in for the larger of the two drives in harmonia, for the time being. It was a thrilling and harrowing experience, knowing my precious data was on the line, and that I might never see it again - if I screwed something up, or if I was just unlucky. But I had the area lit up with my bright lamp; I had tools scattered about; and there were computer parts strewn across the floor. Dust was kicking up absolutely everywhere. I totally went into Lain mode (I even stripped off my clothes, although, unlike Lain, I stripped them all off, and it wasn't necessarily for reasons relating to static electricity). I swapped the drives, like some kind of cybernetic magician, and voila! - gained access to my old hard drive and all the files in it!

The trouble is, I can't access my old hard drive and my newer bigger hard drive at the same time with the equipment I have, so I have to burn all my important files to DVD first, before I switch them over to their new home. It's a real pain, but on the other hand, it's a good opportunity to back up all my files, few of which I have ever really bothered to back up before. But what kind of files could be so important, that I couldn't stand to think of losing them?

First, of course, there's my hard-earned collection of porn, catered entirely to my own taste, and representing years of discriminating effort wading through quite a bit of garbage. (I actually backed it up about nine months ago, but I've acquired a nice cache of good stuff since then). Second, there's my entire collection of photography, including every photograph I've ever taken, many of which (the older ones) were scanned by hand (a process I never, ever, desire to repeat), and many (the newer ones) which don't exist anywhere else, least of all in the 'analog' realm. I would hate to lose these. Then of course, there's my entire digital music collection, which I've mentioned above. Although most of it exists in the form of my physical CD collection, I do not relish the idea of having to rip over 300 albums again. And then, perhaps as important as anything else, there are many random relics of the past, memories of times and people I've known, that would be painful to lose. The rest, I suppose, is ultimately expendable, though I am in no hurry to get rid of it.

I'd like to mention that there is one other thing I would have hated to lose, had I not already transferred it over to harmonia within the past few weeks. That is my personally recorded music, mostly in the form of large wav files - since these files can basically be considered my 'masters'. When I recently posted an incomplete version of the album I've been working on to my webpage at zharth.tenjou.net (Clear As Mud), I was moving some files around, and with all those huge wav files, the space on nanashi's drive was running out. And since I had plenty of free space on harmonia's large drive, I made the move to transfer all my recordings from the one to the other. So even if things had gone worse in the past couple days, I at least would still have had those. But, thank my lucky stars, it looks as though all of my data will be mercifully salvaged.

The process is not entirely finished yet, but I'm hoping for the best!

27 December, 2007

College Memories (1)

The college application process was a nightmare for me. It's not altogether unlike the whole resume scene. Tests are one thing, but what I had trouble with the most was the recommendation letters. Asking somebody to write something like that for me was a huge hurdle, especially considering that I was the kind of person who tended not to make a huge impression on or have much personal connection with my teachers. The "college essay" was also something that I antagonized over. What is it even supposed to be about? I don't remember exactly what I ended up writing, but I think I just described a few aspects of my unique personality - you know, in an attempt to stand out.

For the letters of recommendation, since I was considering studying physics, I figured it would be a good idea to ask one of my physics teachers. There was the teacher of my current AP course, and then there was the teacher of my previous honors course. I felt a little bit closer to the teacher of my previous course, so I resolved to ask her for a letter of recommendation. It was really hard for me, but I forced myself to do it, and she accepted my request. For the second required letter of recommendation, I turned to the one teacher that probably knew me best (which is still to say, not a whole lot) - my Japanese teacher, V-sensei. It helped that she openly admired my intelligence. I had no problem convincing her to write me a recommendation.

I kind of waited till the last minute to apply to colleges. (Well, my older brother waited till the last minute; I guess you could say I waited till the last hour). It was a pain in the neck for me, and although my dad had made a point to take me to some college fairs so that I had tons of brochures to look through, I had a hard time figuring out where exactly I wanted to go. I eventually picked out four places, and applied to each one. Harvard was at the top, and Penn State was at the bottom - since my dad graduated from there, and my older brother was currently enrolled, I figured I'd have no problem getting in. Harvard flat out rejected me (although some 4 or so other kids from my high school had already been accepted to Harvard that year, probably on early decision, so they probably reached some kind of quota). Of the remaning two colleges, one put me on a waiting list, and the other accepted me. Oh, and Penn State also accepted me, as expected. So, ditching the waiting list college, I had two places to choose from - Penn State, and Bucknell University.

In the spring, I took a day trip up to Bucknell with my dad, and my girlfriend tagged along (she was already primed to enroll in a college in California - if things had progressed between us a few months earlier, I might have actually considered applying to a college in CA), on admissions day. The weather was cool and gloomy, with a little bit of drizzle here and there. I remember making a point to catch the trial physics lecture. Tom Solomon was the professor, and he definitely made an impression on me, talking about Chaos Theory and related issues. I was still undecided about my major (as I figure most people are at this stage), but I was toying with the idea of studying computer science. Unfortunately, there was a complicated split between the computer science associated with the engineering college and the computer science associated with the arts and sciences college, and it became this huge issue for my dad, who wanted to make sure that I was in the right position to pursue what it was I wanted to study. Of course, the issue wasn't nearly such a big deal, but my dad was determined to clarify the details, and I got incredibly embarrassed and somewhat frustrated at all the questions he insisted on asking various people.

It actually got pretty bad, and I kind of broke down, and started saying that I didn't even really want to go to college anyway, that I was only doing it because it was expected of me. My girlfriend tried to console me, and I felt a little better, and kind of just rode the rest of the day out. It was a mixed experience.

But among the cool things that happened that day, in addition to the neat physics lecture, I got to meet the anime society at the club fair. They had a really cool Evangelion wall scroll hanging up at their booth, which is the same wall scroll I had hanging up in my room back home. I talked with them very briefly (pretty sure it was the pres and vice pres of the club at the time), and became excited at the idea of joining an anime club. Another interesting experience that day was walking between the lower dorms and hearing Black Dog from Led Zeppelin's fourth album blaring from the direction of Larison Hall. That made an impression on me.

On another day, I went up, just with my dad this time, to visit Penn State main campus. My experience was much less personal, partly because it's a much bigger place (like 10 times the size and population of Bucknell), and partly because it wasn't explicitly the day for prospectives to check out the campus. But my dad knew the place well, and he showed me around. The main impression was: huge. It was like a city. It definitely didn't have the homely feel of Bucknell, but with size comes diversity, which breeds opportunity. Still, I felt more comfortable in a smaller place with less people. Plus, having the opportunity to attend a college like Bucknell seemed like one not to be missed. I mean, so many people go to Penn State, it just seemed like it would mean more to attend Bucknell. And that's the decision I made.

While I was deciding which classes to request for my first semester, I got the idea that I definitely wanted to major in physics. My concern was that if I didn't get off to a good start, then I wouldn't be sufficiently prepared by the end of my time at Bucknell to go to grad school. Like, if I didn't start right away, I wouldn't have time to earn the right credits, or that I'd have to get an arts degree instead of a science degree, and that that would give me a disadvantage trying to advance higher in the system. So instead of letting things work themselves out naturally, I made a point of entering the university as a physics major.

Among the other classes I requested, Japanese was one. Having finally got a chance to formally study Japanese in my final year in high school, I was anxious to continue my education in that language. As fate would have it, I ended up being forced to take a year off from my studies in Japanese, only to return to the language in my sophomore year. But the good thing about that is that I ended up studying with some really cool students.

For my required "freshman seminar", I had to pick a list of favorites from the available choices. There was a physics-oriented seminar, but the one that really caught my eye was more concerned with philosophy and psychology. It was titled "Distortions of Reality", and is definitely one of the greatest courses I've ever taken. And the professor was an unendingly fascinating individual himself. I also requested a general philosophy course, since I had always been interested in philosophy, and there had never been any philosophy courses in my high school - the closest I could get was a psychology course in my senior year.

So my freshman schedule consisted of the freshman seminar mentioned above, the introductory philosophy course, and for my major, a combination of the introductory physics course, and Calculus III. I guess that last one requires a little explanation. I took AP Physics and AP Calculus (the higher of the two AP Calculus courses) my senior year in high school. I also took an AP Computer Science course (in C++). I managed to score a 5 on my AP Calculus exam, so Bucknell placed me considerably ahead in math. It was a mixed blessing. The higher I got in math in high school, the more I felt like I needed some extra time to get my bearings and really understand what I was doing. But I kept plowing ahead. And that continued into college. I was able to survive through Calculus and Differential Equations, and once I got to Logic (the mathematical, not the philosophical kind), it was a refreshing change of scenery. Instead of solving equations, which is more important to science, all of a sudden it was about proving (mathematical) statements, which was endlessly more interesting, and far easier for me. I regret not studying more and higher math in college, but on the other hand, it was a relief to finish my math requirements early, and open up spaces for some more interesting courses, like the ones that earned me minors in Japanese and philosophy.


Despite my alternative beliefs, my family is still very much Christian, so I still celebrate Christmas. It's usually a pretty good time, since we have a decent sized family, and we're all very friendly to one another. I've known people who've had families that tend to have some animosity between certain members, sometimes with different camps and things. But my group is all decent people. Of course, my family is sort of split in half, ever since my parents divorced. The two sides, though harboring little specific anger for each other, generally stay separate. It's not like they'd actually fight or anything, but because of what's happened, it just sort of seems appropriate to mark your position and defend your territory. I dunno. They don't really ever mix, so it's not much of an issue.

For me, the worst part about the Christmas celebrations is having to get up in the morning, when I'm used to going to bed in the morning. And it's not like I can just stay up through the morning and then sleep the rest of the day. After presents, my immediate family has our traditional Christmas morning breakfeast, featuring a delicious egg casserole, with various sides like danish and cinnamon rolls. After that, we all head over to my gramma's house to get some more presents. Then, in recent years, my two brothers and I have made a habit of visiting my mom's side of the family (usually just a handful of people hanging out at my grandad's place - my aunts live out of state and my uncle often seems to have an excuse for not making it on time). We chill for awhile, then come home just before guests from my dad's side of the family start arriving at our house for the evening, for the traditional Christmas dinner - which consists of a homemade sandwich bar with freshly baked and sliced ham and turkey.

I knew that if I didn't do something about my sleep schedule, I'd end up staying awake over Christmas Eve night, being exhausted during Christmas morning, and just being completely miserable for the rest of the day. So the day before Christmas Eve, I tried only sleeping for a few hours. Getting home from the Christmas Eve party at my gramma's house shortly before midnight, I anticipated being tired enough to get some sleep before the big day. Well, I got to sleep, but I only slept a handful of hours before my body woke up completely. Sometimes this happens - when I'm really tired and end up falling asleep in the small hours of the morning, I'll sleep at most a couple hours, and then wake up fully, with no chance of sleeping any longer than that. Despite how tired I was, and how little sleep I got the day before, that thing happened and I only got a few hours of sleep before Christmas. So I was pretty tired during the day's celebrations, but I managed through it.

I was planning on seeing a movie that night after the big dinner, but by the time the guests left, I was so tired, I had trouble keeping myself awake. So I crawled into bed and just crashed. Of course, instead of sleeping a good long time to rest my body and mind, I ended up waking up sometime in the small hours of the morning. It was like my body was completely rejecting the idea of sleeping during the night or something. Anyhow, I got enough rest to stay up until almost noon that day, but before it got any later than that, I resolved to get a few hours of sleep before the time I'd usually wake up. Trying to force myself back into my old routine, I made a point of getting up at the usual time, around 5pm, after getting only a few more hours of sleep. This is still the day after Christmas. So now, being late into the night of the day after Christmas, I'm pretty tired, but I'm making an effort to stay up until the usual time I'd go to sleep, hoping that I can get a decent rest and push myself back into the usual schedule. Hopefully my wits will be about me better tomorrow.

So for Christmas, my spoils mainly include rock and blues CD's that I asked for, DVD's of various movies, some books (and manga), and a bunch of other medium and little things to make it interesting. I didn't ask for anything major this year, as I didn't have anything particularly in mind except stuff I'd rather take care of myself. For example, I'm planning on buying some kind of ritual cloak - officially, I'm considering it a birthday present to myself (my birthday's in January). I've been looking forward to it ever since I decided I'd get one, over a month ago.

It's exciting (even though it's not a whole lot different from what I do every day) to have stacks of new movies to watch and music to listen to. When I have these kinds of distractions though, it makes it a lot harder for me to make any kind of progress on my artistic endeavors - like writing my stories or recording my music. I have enough crap available to me to keep me busy until next Christmas, I'm sure. But that's not really the problem. I mean, on the one hand, it bugs me that there's always more stuff to do - more books to read, more series to watch, more games to play - but the important thing is that I need to take some time to do the things that are really important (e.g., the stories and music I mentioned).

But I have an avoidant reaction to things like that that need to be done. The more it needs to be done, the less I want to do it. And for something artistic like these things are, I just don't feel like it can work if I'm not in the right mood, if my creativity isn't being facilitated by the conditions in and around me, if it feels more like a burden than a gift. And that bugs me. I don't want it to feel like that, and I don't want to force myself to do something when it feels like that. But it needs to get done. So I'm kind of at a loss. Just thinking about it doesn't make me go "oh yeah, I can't wait to try this and that and get that finished." Instead, I think, "ugh, it's such an effort to go and set up all that equipment, and then make sure the levels are right, and then see how it records and how well I can play it, and blah, blah blah, blah blah." So I put in a DVD instead.

Something's gotta give.

26 December, 2007

43 Things

I happened upon this website called 43 Things, and I was intrigued by it. The idea is that you can create an account and then specify 43 things you'd like to accomplish in life. You can either choose things other people have already created, or you can create your own. You can also leave comments about your progress in accomplishing those goals, and help other people meet goals you've accomplished in the past. For me, it just seems like a great excuse to organize a bunch of my ideas about things I would love to do one day in my life (whether I realistically expect to do them or not). It's a great way to discover just what it is I'd really like to get out of life, and how I could make my life better by fulfilling my dreams. Here, I'll list the 43 things that I picked out, and describe the what or why of each one (and maybe how?).

I Want To...

...Live in a loft.

I think I've finally discovered what those apartments are called. I think they're called loft apartments - the kind that looks like a warehouse or some kind of studio, that's been re-dedicated to become a living space. You see it in movies sometimes, usually with artistic characters (although, I remember at least one with a scientific character). Typically there's like a cargo elevator that you have to take to get up to the apartment. The apartment itself is very open, with a high ceiling, and sometimes an upper level, and it's like all one big space without a lot of walls between rooms. I've never actually been in one. But ever since I started seeing them in movies, I've fantasized about living in one. It just seems like it would be such a cool place to live.

...Live in a lighthouse.

I've also fantasized about living in a lighthouse. Doesn't it sound romantic? Maybe only for a loner like me, but the idea of living in a tower by the sea, with a commanding view of sea and shore, is the stuff of dreams. No people to bother me, and my house is my job. Ideally, I'd love to run a radio station directly from the lighthouse, like the one character in John Carpenter's The Fog.

...Live on a lake.

Growing up, the annual family summer vacation was a visit to a resort lake town. We'd go to the beach sometimes, too, but the lake was every year. In fact, I went there every year without fail, until about 6 or 7 years ago, I think. I still wanna go back some day. At any rate, I've learned the pleasures of living on a lake. I can just imagine owning one of those nice lodges right next to the water, with a nice grassy yard, and trees all around, with a personal dock and a few boats for going out on the water. It's always more fun going to a store or restaurant when you get there by boat. It would be such a peaceful and relaxing existence...

...Own a beach house.

Alternatively, I wouldn't mind owning a beach house, either. One of those really nice and fancy ones, with a private beach. Boy, if that's not living the dream...

...Live in the Winchester Mystery House.

I know it's not really available for buying up and personally living in, but I still have a dream to live in that house one day. If you don't know the story, this is the house built by the heiress to the Winchester fortune. She was a little mentally unstable, so she actually held seances to decide how the house should be built. The result is a maddening example of unconventional architecture. Stairs leading to nowhere, doors that open to brick walls, secret passages, it's insane. And some people say it's haunted. Following in the footsteps of Jimmy Page with the Aleister Crowley mansion (Boleskine House, on the shores of Loch Ness), this is my dream house.

...Start a radio station.

I had a radio show in college, and it was one of the most enriching experiences of my life. I enjoyed it so much, getting to spread my music, and the things I had learned about it, to the people of the community (or at least the one or two who were tuned in). I'd love to be a radio dj again. In fact, I bought an FM Transmitter so I could sort of play the dj for a radio station localized completely within and around this house. But I have problems with the way commercial and big-name radio stations run things. You hear the same old boring songs over and over again, and you don't get that thrill of hearing something unfamiliar, or getting to know the dj's personal taste. I'd love to start a radio station of my own, throwing all of those useless conventions into the trash. I haven't yet warmed up to the idea of internet radio, but maybe that's ultimately the direction I'm gonna have to move in...

...Learn to play the blues.

This is something I've been meaning to do at least since I graduated college. I absolutely love the blues, and I feel the music resonates within my soul in a special way. I can really feel a good blues guitar solo, and one of the things I want most in life, is to be able to play a moving solo like that - improvised. So this is something I really want to work on. I've played guitar for at least 6 years now, but I really want to learn the stuff I need to be a real blues guitarist. I need to get lessons.

...Get better at guitar.

I'm completely self-taught, so far. I've dabbled in music theory, with scales and chord patterns and such, but I haven't really gotten a firm hold of any of that. Basically, my current style of playing guitar is wildly anarchic. It's more noise than music. I love it, and it can be quite a mind-expanding experience, but I also want to be able to play better conventionally. Songs and solos and stuff. The kind of thing I originally picked up the guitar for. So that maybe I could actually play in a band.

...Be in a band.

I play guitar mostly on my own. I go to open stages sometimes and show off my ear-splitting style. But I've always wanted to be the guitarist in a band. I want to impress people with my playing, but I don't want to have to carry the whole show. And although I like singing enough to want to continue doing it here and there, for most songs I'd love to just sit back and play the music, letting somebody else focus on the vocals.

...Become a rockstar.

Honestly, I'd settle for being a bluesman playing in bars, but what I'd really love is to be a rockstar. My ideal image of rock stardom? Jimmy Page. He's got the chops, he's got the style, he's got the occult mysticism fueling his persona of coolness. I can't imagine the experience of being a guitarist like that in a really good rock band, it must be amazing. And I wouldn't mind being chased by swarms of girls, either. This one's more 'dream' than 'goal'.

...Find my dream job.

Maybe I already know what it is, and it's just a matter of acquiring it. Like being a rock star, or a bluesman, or a radio dj. But I'm not completely sure. I don't like the idea of working in a job that I hate, just for the sake of making a living. I really want to enjoy my job, and I want it to be an enriching experience in my life. I'm not sure yet whether or not this is an attainable goal.

...Move out of my parents' house.

It's incredibly convenient living here. I don't have to pay rent. I don't have to pay for food. I don't have to pay for any sort of utilities. But it's not 'my place'. I want to live somewhere that feels like it's really mine. Where I'm not a guest, who has to always consider the burden he's placing on the person letting him stay there. I want to show that I can make it in the world, that I'm my own man, and that I'm out there. I feel like that would give me more freedom to actually be who I want to be. Maybe these are just convenient feelings, but I still think it's important to move out from under the roof of my family's shelter and protection. For them as much as for me.

...Be a ghost hunter.

I've been fascinated with ghosts for a long time. I don't actually believe in them, but I am curious, and I know the fear that can come over you when you're in the dark and you start thinking about strange possibilities. I've always wanted to actually visit a real haunted place, and try to find evidence of ghosts. Though a skeptic, I'm open to possibilities, and all this 'evidence' people have experienced - I'd like to experience some of it firsthand. Besides, it just seems like an exciting thing to do, going to a haunted location with some friends or cohorts, looking for evidence of the supernatural. Even if it was just taking pictures in a graveyard at night, I would love to try some sort of ghost hunting some day.

...Learn Kendo.

I've also been fascinated with swords and sword fighting from a young age. Swords have always been infinitely more interesting to me than any sort of guns. I've played around with toy swords plenty, but I'd like to learn some real skills. I actually did study a little bit under an Aikido master, who taught me to at least be comfortable holding Japanese bokken, shinai, or katana. But I would absolutely love to learn more. For me, there's a lot of grace in martial arts. I've never been very interested in dancing, since it seems to be so capricious and unfocused (social dancing, anyway) (plus the fact that it's incredibly embarrassing), but I find a great sense of beauty in the careful and precise motions of the martial arts. Throw a sword into that (which also limits the hand-to-hand contact that I don't particular like), and you've got me interested.

...Draw more.

Ever since becoming interested in Japanese anime, I've flirted - as many other fans have, I'm sure - with the idea of drawing those kinds of characters. In high school, I made a concentrated effort to learn to draw in that style. I bought (and still have) a stack of instructional books with many sketched figures, that I spent some time drawing from page for page. In addition to getting some good practice, it was also an exciting crash course in anatomy. I built up a collection of pages of largely embarrassing sketches, but I never really went anywhere with the drawing. I love the idea of being able to take an image from the mind, and bring it into realization in a form you can see, and can show others, but I've just never been that good. So one of my minor goals in life is to draw more frequently, with the hopes that continuous practice will make me better and better, to the point where I can actually draw something from my mind, that's nice enough to look at.


I actually have cosplayed, so this should probably either be "cosplay more" or "cosplay better". For those that don't know, cosplay is a form of costume play usually associated with anime fandom, where people dress up as their favorite characters, usually (but not always) for conventions and such. The couple of costumes I've worn in the past have been pretty sub-standard, I think. I've cosplayed as a generic ninja from Naruto, as well as a mediocre Griffith from Berserk. I think dressing up in exotic costumes can be exciting, especially when there's a character behind it that you like or respect. I'm no good at sewing or making clothes in any form, and don't have a particularly strong desire to learn, so I think I'd rather be a cosplay model, with somebody else designing costumes specifically for me. It's not really something I expect to do in a major capacity, but I think it would be fun if I had the chance.

...Write stories.

I don't have *major* aspirations of being any sort of writer, but I do already have some specific stories in my head, that I'd like to take more time to get down on paper (computer). Of the two main stories I'm working on, one is about a young man who goes on a journey to slay a dragon in order to avenge his family and hometown (it's actually a lot more interesting than it sounds by that description), and the other is about a soul's journey through heaven and hell, and the eventual overthrow of God's kingdom. I have others in mind, and I would love to see even just one of these ideas fleshed out into an actual complete story.

...Take more pictures.

I've mentioned my interest in photography. Early on, I spent a lot of time taking pictures of sunsets and cloudscapes. I have a particular interest in capturing the beauty of nature, in its many forms. I love seasonal shots that show the difference in a specific spot during different seasons. I don't really take a lot of pictures, but I always seem to enjoy it when I do. So I'd like to make a point to take more pictures. Part of the problem is the inconvenience of carrying a camera around with me everywhere I go (not to mention making sure I always have batteries charged and ready), and another part is not wanting to draw attention to myself by pulling out a camera, or having to worry about taking pictures of someone or something that I shouldn't be. But I have some shots that I'm proud of, and I'd like to get more.

...Read every book I own.

I have an interest in reading, but I also have a habit of avoiding reading when I could be doing something else. I have a stack of books on the back burner, that I haven't read yet, that I've been meaning to read for awhile. My best friend is a bookophile, so he seems to constantly be recommending more and more titles. Other people dump books off on me sometimes, if they think I'd be interested in them. Basically, I'd really like to just go through the stack and read everything I own, so I don't have to feel tied down and backed up anymore. But realistically, I know that even if I did read every book I own, it wouldn't be long before I'd get a few more and the stack would grow anew...

...Record my music.

As a starving artist and a struggling musician, it would make sense for me to record my music. I have written a hand full of songs, and just recording some of what I play in general would be a good idea. I've been working on an album since graduation, but it's been over a year and progress has pretty much halted. I really need to kick myself into gear and finishing recording what I have ready, so I can put that album behind me and move on, start thinking about new projects. This could be essential to my progress toward finding and gaining my dream job.

...Be in love.

I've been in love a few times in my life, and though there's usually an amount of pain that comes with it, especially when things don't work out (and face it, most relationships fail), I still believe that love is the most powerful and the most amazing emotion known to man. Love is the reason we live. For a person like myself, who doesn't meet people often (and when I do, I tend not to make the best impression), finding someone to love isn't easy. Being desperate doesn't necessarily mean that my standards are any lower than they would be otherwise, though. I don't play games; I want someone who can make a profound impact on my life. Ultimately, though, I just want to be in love again.

...Have sex outdoors.

For someone who reveres nature, and worships love, there is little more exciting than the idea of making love in the great outdoors. There are any number of intriguing conditions, too. A grassy field under the full moon. A warm day under the hot sun. A sandy beach with a bit of seaspray. Up against a tree, or in a hot tub (or spring) under the falling snow. I'm interested in a little environmental experimentation. I just have to find a willing partner first.

...Be a nude model for an art class.

I mentioned this in a previous entry. The idea of it excites me, and it's totally something that I'd love to try, if for nothing else than to be able to say that I tried it. It really makes me nervous to think about it though, making myself the center of attention like that, not to mention being nude in front of strangers. But that's the kind of barrier that I'd like to break down, if I can. I just want to be free, and be me.

...Be nude more.

And, in that vein, I just want to be nude more. More often and in more places. I don't want to have to hide it from people, either. I don't know how realistic this goal is, considering the way most people seem to feel about nudity. But I'm interested in pushing the boundaries. When and where I can.

...Learn Japanese rope bondage.

I actually already own a length of bondage rope, and I've played around with a few ties (on myself). Something about bondage in general intrigues me. I'm not into the heavily dominant-submissive or sadomasochistic lifestyles (oh my), or the extreme bondage thing, but leather and other shiny fashions are attractive, and something about having a girl tied up really turns me on. I figure it has to do with the whole confidence thing - making the girl my toy and robbing her of the ability to have any sort of mind of her own, where she could reject me or try to take control of the situation, puts me at ease and gives me a kind of power trip that I'm not used to having. It's nothing psychotic, though, I just think I could have a lot of fun with it. And I'm totally willing to take turns. I just have to have someone that I can completely trust to do this with. In the mean time, I could do for learning some techniques, and becoming more familiar with different kinds of knots (maybe if the Boy Scouts were allowed to test their skills on the Girl Scouts, I wouldn't have been so quick to quit, all those years ago).

...Beat social anxiety.

I think this is self-explanatory. I mean, this is a large part of what this blog is about, isn't it? Social anxiety has plagued me all my life, and I've been fighting it constantly, but I haven't been able to beat it yet. I'm certain that if I can beat it, the quality of my life will increase drastically. No matter what it takes, this is something that has to happen.

...Be more confident.

Related to my social anxiety, I seem to lack any kind of confidence in social situations. I'm soft-spoken (that is, when I speak at all), and I have a hard time asserting myself and getting my ideas and feelings across to people. I need to have more confidence, in saying what I mean to say, as well as saying it more clearly and in a louder voice, so that people aren't so quick to ignore me.

...Become a better conversationalist.

See above. I have a hard time holding a conversation with most people. I find it difficult to relate to people that I don't know real well - it seems like it's either they're gonna talk about what interests them, and bores me, or else I could try talking about something that interests me, which will undoubtedly bore them (something I obviously don't dare to try). Conversations with me are largely one-sided, and this isn't a good thing. My social life is filled with awkward pauses. I respect comfortable pauses and silences, but I wish I could learn to replace those awkward pauses with genuinely interesting conversation.

...Overcome my fears.

I'm a pretty timid person. I tend to let my fears control me and my actions. I need to break free of these chains. I know that, based on past experience, most of my fear is irrational and unfounded, and serves only as a barrier to realizing my potential and in a lot of cases, just having a good time. Don't be guided by fear!

...Live up to my potential.

I kind of mentioned it above, but I feel like the quality of my life isn't a result of who I am, or what I necessarily deserve, but that it's more a product of my disorder. I'm a college graduate, with a degree in physics. I'm a smart guy. I'm kind and I'm sensitive, and I care about people. I'm interested in getting to the truth of things and not deceiving and bull-shitting people. I deserve to be in a better position, and conquering social anxiety is an essential step in living up to my potential.

...Change my name.

For awhile now I've played around with the idea of changing my name. Kind of like spirituality, I think a person's name is something that one should decide for oneself, after having enough time to discover one's true nature. But the trouble is that I'm not entirely sure what name I want to have, or if I might decide to change it in the future. So I've kind of resorted to mostly just using nicknames. Maybe it's just as well.

...Spend an entire day watching the extended version of all three Lord of the Rings movies back-to-back-to-back.

Yeah, I've been meaning to do this ever since I completed my collection with the extended edition of The Return of the King. It's quite a commitment though, considering that it will almost certainly take over 12 hours. I've done the equivalent in the past, though, I just need to find the right time (and possibly the right company) when the mood is right.

...Learn how to surf.

Uh, yeah. I haven't had any experience whatsoever, but when I see people surfing (like in tv and movies, since I don't live near the beach, and rarely get to go to the beach), I get the feeling that it would be a lot of fun, riding the waves like that. Plus, I'm all for a beach kind of lifestyle. It's something I'd like to try if I ever happen to be in the right kind of place.

...Swim with a shark.

I grew up watching Shark Week on the Discovery Channel. Sharks are awesome. I'm not a huge animal lover, but I have loads of respect for sharks. They're so majestic, kind of mysterious, they rule the sea, and despite being apex predators, they're not bloodthirsty monsters, and you can interact with them almost one-to-one, if you understand their behavior and are willing to treat them with the respect they demand. Anyhow, I definitely want to get a chance to swim with a shark (or better yet, sharks), at least once in my life. And in their natural habitat, not some lame aquarium or something.

...Find a fairy.

I'm a little obsessed with fairies (and elves, too). I find it strange that people generally consider fairies to be a girly thing. I mean, we're talking about little naked chicks with wings. Sounds kind of hot, to me. But being a guy, I feel out of place and embarrassed by looking at fairie-related products, or putting pictures of fairies up on my walls (I don't think I've actually done that yet, specifically - though I have shamelessly adorned my guitars with faerie stickers). Anyhow, I don't really believe in fairies, but I do have an interest in fairie mythology and they do have an ambiguous yet central place within my spirituality as a kind of natural symbol. I might not believe in them as is, but I do believe that searching for one can be a meaningful experience.

...Start a revolution.

I have some pretty unusual ideas about things, I think. I suspect that a lot of my anger towards society is misdirected frustration about my own inabilities to become who and what I want to be, but still, I think some of my ideas could go a long way towards creating a better society. I'm not claiming to have all the answers. I just have some ideas that people need to consider. And a revolution, to me, is a romantic notion of changing the world to better suit my tastes.

...Perform a concert to an empty coliseum in Pompeii.

This is one of my dreams. If you've ever seen the Pink Floyd video, Live At Pompeii, that's what I want to do. Just play to an empty stadium during twilight, and on into the darkness. It'd partly be a tribute to Pink Floyd, but we'd play original music - post-rock - so as not to make the mistake of trying to do something that's already been done before.

...Walk more.

I love to walk. It gives me a chance to think, and a chance to recognize the world around me, outside of the places I spend most of my time in. Plus, it's a good way to get exercise, that isn't overly exhausting. I've been spending so much time in my room, sitting at my computer, that I don't even walk as much as I used to. I'd like to make a point to get out and walk more (but moreso when the weather gets warmer...).

...Participate in a ritual at Stonehenge.

I just love the idea of this. I'm sure Stonehenge is awesome, and I bet it would be so profound to participate in a ritual there. I love the idea of using stones to create a giant solar calendar. I wish I had a setup, like some kind of special garden or hilltop or something, with a good view of the horizon in every direction, with markers setup to make meaning of the passage of the heavenly bodies. Get in tune with the ancients (we are of the sun).

...See the aurora borealis.

This just sounds like it would be a really cool thing to see. I love weather, and I have an interest in astronomy, and seeing something special like this would definitely be something to remember. I'd like to make a point of it someday.

...See a total solar eclipse.

I remember seeing one in grade school, but I was young then, and it's been a long time. The solar eclipse is one of the most fascinating astronomical occurrences visible from the Earth. The idea of opposites, of day becoming night, light becoming dark, and the sun being swallowed by the moon, intrigues me. And it's just a beautiful, moving experience. I definitely have to see another one some day.

...Wear more interesting clothes.

When I do wear clothes (heh), they're pretty mundane. I wear t-shirts that I like, but ultimately it's just a matter of putting on what's easy and what's comfortable. I like the idea of wearing some more interesting fashions, like bellbottom jeans, some kind of interesting boots (that aren't too feminine, but not overly masculine either), more buttoned or flowy shirts, maybe even some jewelry (maybe), perhaps a neat hat every now and then. Dressing up can be a lot of fun - the reason I hate it so much is because first of all it's a pain, and then it's usually boring clothing that I don't like. If I had interesting clothes that actually expressed my unique outlook on life, and successfully matched my laidback attitude with my personal sense of style, I think it could not only be fun, but could also boost my confidence. Plus, I'd be bound to get more attention from people, and by standing out, they'll know right away that I'm different, so I don't feel so bad when their mundane ways start to bore me.

...Get new glasses.

Ok, I was kind of running out of ideas by the 43rd thing, but it's true that I need new glasses. The prescription seems to be fine (it's a miracle that I've gone so long without really needing an upgrade), and I like the look of the glasses I have now just fine. The trouble is that the lenses are so scratched up that it actually causes a visible difference in the clarity of the image I see. I generally just deal with it, but it gets annoying sometimes, and I should really just get new lenses already. The problem is that I don't like the idea of going in and having to risk talking to the doctor and having to do an eye test or schedule an appointment or anything like that. That's pretty much kept me away...


I've never considered myself that great at making or having friends. So it's pretty surprising when I look back through my life and find out just how many so-called friends I actually had. Although ultimately, I think the important point is the quality of the friendship. Having 'friends' doesn't make you a social person.


I don't think I had much in the way of my own friends during my earlier years. I mostly just played with my older brother and tagged along with his friends. I do remember following him around with the neighborhood kids, kind of piggybacking on his playmates. I have vague recollections of a kid from either next door or a few doors down, that we may or may not have watched Barney with, and a kid over the fence at the back of our yard. But my memories of this period are hazy, so I'm not altogether certain.

First Best Friend

Going to school was traumatic for me. I remember crying my brains out the first time my mom dropped me off at pre-school and left. The two teachers tried to console me, but I was inconsolable. I guess it got to a point where I could 'handle' it, but I never really got the hang of mingling with the kids my age. I also have similar memories of some sort of daycare - traumatic memories of being left alone in a savage wilderness of strangers more or less my age.

Considering how I was, I find it absolutely unbelievable that I was able to even make a friend in first grade, let alone such a good one as I did. I remember we took some kind of writing test, possibly on learning the alphabet, or maybe vocabulary, and the teacher had some issue with the way I wrote my answers out. Like, they were sloppy or something, and I remember there was a good reason for it, but it was something I was too embarrassed to admit to, so ultimately, the teacher punished me by making me redo it, and then she made me stay inside for the first 15 minutes of recess or so. I was sitting inside waiting, and the boy in the seat next to me made himself known. I don't remember anything concrete, but we got to talking, and from then on, we became very good friends.

For the next few years, we seemed to hang out a lot, and had a lot of sleepovers at each other's places. I remember every time his mother called up our house to ask if I wanted to sleep over, I had paralyzingly conflicted feelings. I knew it would be fun, and I wanted to go, but I was always so terrified of the idea of being in an unfamiliar house for the whole night, and having to deal with another family's customs, and surviving experiences like using unfamiliar toilets (I actually had a huge problem with admitting that I had to go to the bathroom, and asking to be excused - it was terrible, and became quite embarrassing in at least one instance). So sometimes I would end up chickening out and saying that I just wasn't in the mood. Still, we did have many sleepovers. I even remember one double-sleepover, where he slept over my house one night, and then I went and slept over his house the very next night. That was something.

Most of what we did together, that I remember, consists of either fooling around playing the kind of games that kids play, terrorizing his big sister, or playing video games. And the one video game we played by far the most was Super Mario World. We must have taken to beating that game merely as an appetizer by the end of that period. I remember being uncomfortable around breakfasts, and I guess dinners, too, when those were included in the sleepover. I suppose it was a combination of (fear of) unfamiliar table habits, and unfamiliar (and possibly unappetizing) foods. I mean, what was I supposed to do when I was served something I didn't like? (And I was a *very* picky eater as a kid). I couldn't possibly just say, "I don't like this, can you make something else?" So in those cases, I had to grin and bear it, and just try to be the best and least troublesome houseguest I could be. At least, his mom seemed to genuinely like me.

I know we had a lot of fun in those few short years. I remember we had many good times at the local pool. We were also both in the Cub Scouts, so we typically tented together (and generally helped each other survive) during the annual summer camp. I remember always being kind of scared of summer camp, but I always enjoyed the experience and had mixed feelings about going home by the end of the week. I have memories of lying in the tent at night, just before going to sleep, and we would talk about random stuff through the darkness, until one of us fell asleep. He was always first. I have a good feeling that my childhood fear of being the last person awake originated from these experiences. Of course, the fear of being awake last didn't do a lot to help me fall asleep sooner...

Somewhere around third grade, as students we were given the option to start learning an instrument. I wouldn't have bothered, but my friend wanted to try it, so I agreed that we'd do it together. Turns out his mom ended up having him repeat a grade at that time, so I ended up doing the instrument thing on my own. Since I already agreed to it, I just went through with it, and that's how I started playing violin. The reason my friend repeated a grade had nothing to with academics. We were born in the same year, but while I was born in January, he was born in the following December, so we were actually almost a full year apart. He was closer in age to the students in the grade below us, and his mom felt that he would have a better school life if he was among his age group. At least that's how I understood it. I'm sorry to say that our friendship never recovered from this arrangement. Being in different grades, at that stage, really killed what connection we had. Suddenly we were parts of entirely different groups of kids.

That's not the only factor that tore us apart. I'm not sure of the reasons, but around this time, he just started acting very strangely in a lot of situations. It became gradually worse. It was harder to hang out with him, and the rest of the kids at school began reacting to that. Maybe I was imagining it, but it sort of became a stigma to hang out with him. I'm ashamed to admit it, but later on as I was transitioning from him to some new friends, I invited him to my birthday sleepover, and I was actually embarrassed to admit to the other guys that he was my friend. It eventually got to the point where we didn't even talk to each other anymore; we didn't even acknowledge each other's existence when we passed in the halls at school anymore. Whatever he was going through, the truth remains that after not having anything to do with him for a few years, in high school, he re-emerged in my consciousness, though only marginally, as he was well-known around the school as something of a queen, with a reputation embodied by the song "I Get Around". I never spoke to him or anything; we had obviously taken wildly divergent paths in our lives. But thinking back on our friendship, and how he turned out, it does make me wonder...

The Gang

Jumping back to elementary school, I'll introduce the 'new friends' that I mentioned above. This was later, like 4-6th grades, as opposed to 1-3rd. You can't understand how utterly cool it was for me to be part of this gang. And when I say gang, I mean like a group of friends, not a gang gang. Not that our gang was particularly respected or anything among our classmates, but for me, to be part of something social like this was amazing. There were four of us, all guys. We were almost like a superhero team or something. We had nicknames, and we passed each other secret notices, and we had secret meetings to discuss secret plans. Sometimes we'd meet up after school at one of our houses to hang out and play, and sometimes we'd all walk up to the pizza parlor for lunch for a special meeting (getting permission to walk to the pizza parlor for lunch, which was right up the street from the school, was always an immensely exciting privilege). I'm pretty sure we all knew each other from orchestra. This is the group that I associated with during those days, having smaller connections to their other friends, and it was those friendships that got me invited to the two Bar Mitzvah's I ever attended, which was an interesting affair, being so different to anything I was familiar with, having been raised Christian.

The highpoint of my friendship with these guys was the school field trip to Williamsburg in Junior High. The Williamsburg trip was probably the first time since scout camp that I had a chance to kind of live among peers for a few days, without parents. We stayed in a hotel, four people to a room, and we mostly stuck together while touring Williamsburg. Being that awkward-but-exciting Junior High period of life, this was the first time I really had any sort of sense of 'letting go' with friends and just having a good time. We were fooling around in the hotel room, and I got locked out for about a minute, just for fun. Unfortunately, the chaperone down the hall, watching to make sure all the kids stayed in their rooms and behaved, spotted me, and started coming in my direction by the time I was rushing back into the room. I told the other guys that the chaperone was coming, and we all freaked out, and I tried to hide, because I knew she was gonna want to have a word with me! I hid in the other room, I think I may have even crawled under the bed, and the chaperone came and knocked on the door, and she totally bitched us out. Then she left, and we all had a hell of a time making fun of her, acting like she was a fanged monster or something, considering her insufferable temper.

I also remember sleeping on the floor of the hotel room with a single pillow and no blankets. There were two beds and a foldout couch. I wasn't particularly keen on the idea of sharing, so I ended up on the floor. It was a miserable sleep, but you gotta take the bad with the good. For the rest of the trip, I made a big deal about calling the hotel the Un-Quality Suites.

After the relatively boring Williamsburg stuff, we all got to spend a day at Busch Gardens, which was a blast. At this point, I was still terrified of roller coasters, and of our group, only one other among us was also not a roller coaster rider. He was actually the one of the gang that I was closest with, and maybe that has something to do with the fact that we shared our fear of roller coasters by spending that day riding the weaker rides together. It was still a good time. I remember actually wanting to meet up with another friend that day, though. It was someone I was just getting to know, and he had said something about hanging out at Busch Gardens, but I never did find him that day. Oh well. We still became friends for a brief period, as I started to drift away from the gang.

I think the primary reason for my drifting away from the gang was the fact that I finally quit orchestra to take computer programming in 8th grade. I had been looking forward to taking that class, and as fate would have it, it was one or the other - orchestra or computer programming - that's how the schedule was set up. So I had no choice but to quit orchestra. Granted, I had been looking for an excuse to quit orchestra for awhile, so I wasn't too shaken up about it. I just wasn't any good. I really enjoyed playing the violin, but only when I could actually play something right. And I absolutely hated practicing, so I was hardly ever able to play anything right. So it was frustrating, and extremely embarrassing during tests - we had to play a passage alone, while the entire orchestra sat in silence, listening. And then we were graded on how well we played. I remember taking a re-test once, and the orchestra teacher/conductor remarked at how much better I was playing. I chocked it up to a combination of more privacy during examination (re-tests were done more or less individually, just outside the room, while everyone else was practicing or working on something else) and actually having spent some time practicing, which I hadn't gotten around to before the first testing. That was probably the first class where I really struggled and had to make an effort just to stay in the game.

(As a side note, since I'm talking about orchestra, there's a connection here to the smart girl I mentioned in my 'Girls' entry, which I forgot to discuss there. Not only was she my math rival, but she was also my violin 'rival'. Although, we were pretty close to equal in mathematical skills. I remember testing for placement in the orchestra (like first chair, second chair, etc.), and for that we'd each go in to the teacher/conductor's private office to play a piece so he could judge our abilities against those of our peers. I remember that people were saying that either I or the smart girl had nailed first chair, simply for the reason that we were the only two people that left the office smiling (obviously a sign of confidence at our playing, right?). Well, for the smart girl it was true, since she unsurprisingly got first chair, but for me, I think it was more a matter of thinking "oh god, I'm so incredibly terrible, I can't believe I'm even in this class, this is all a big joke...". Maybe that and the fact that I had (and still have, to a degree) a habit of smiling uncontrollably when people look at me and when I'm submerged in a social environment. Either way, I got last chair (I don't even remember how many there were, but I was dead last). We were seated in pairs within the orchestra so as to balance out our skills. Therefore, as last chair, I got to sit right smack next to first chair, my crush, and we shared sheet music. Great, huh? Not so much. It was completely devaluing to be sitting there, playing terribly, just emphasizing how bad I was and how much better she was. It was torture. If it's any consolation, I think I convinced the rest of the orchestra that I was second chair, my proof being the fact that I was seated right next to first chair. My friends actually seemed to believe it, but in hindsight, they must have known how the system worked, since I'm pretty sure it was the same for violas and cellos as it was for violins, so they must have known I was last chair. Well, if that's true, I guess I respect them for letting me have my little illusion...)

(As another side note relating to my 'Girls' entry, 'The One' happened to also be in this orchestra, playing viola. But I was only casually aware of her during this period.)

Anyhow, there was a point where I was already starting to feel kind of excluded from the gang, even before I specifically moved on. Maybe it was because I spent so much time to myself, and hardly ever talked to people, but I think they thought that I had other friends, or something. Before the Williamsburg trip, the students had to choose who they wanted to room with, in groups of four. Nobody asked me, and I was way too shy to ask anyone myself. I agonized over it up to the last minute, and I still had noone to room with, but the deadline was there, so I managed to get my mom to call one of my friend's moms and ask about it, and they ended up arranging for me to join their group, displacing one of their members who had some other people to room with anyway, and their excuse (which I don't have any reason to disbelieve) was that they thought I had other friends and that I was rooming with those other friends.

Orchestra concerts were always a big deal. You got dressed up, you came to the school in the evening, and you got to show off your skills and play to an audience. It was always exciting, and incredibly nerve-racking. And then there would be the after-period. People would wind down from a good show by hanging out and partying and stuff, I guess. The gang usually went to this one family-type restaurant, and always had great stories to tell about their times there, and the crazy conversations they had. I don't think they ever once invited me. And I don't consider it a malicious action, just the sad nature of our friendship. I guess I was kind of drifting away, and even in the best times, I was so distant that I probably wasn't a major fixture anyway. Ah, well.


So this new friend (the one I tried unsuccessfully to meet up with at Busch Gardens) was a guy I met in my computer programming class. We had a short friendship, that kind of developed for a bit, then sort of stopped short at one point, for some reason. In the end, I don't think we were 100% compatible. It was probably more of a hang-out-in-class-and-goof-off-while-playing-games-on-the-BBS-since-we-finished-our-program-assignments-so-fast sort of thing. Honestly, I don't even have a lot of specific memories of him, so I'm just gonna have to move on.

The Ukrainian

There was another one-off friend in Junior High. I don't even remember how I met him (probably also from computer programming), but I do know that he was in my French class at one point. I didn't know him for very long, but I feel like he had a profound effect on my life. If I believed in these sorts of things, I might be tempted to believe he was some kind of angel. I mean, even if I didn't entirely want it at that point, he actually made an effort to help me become a better person. And most people just care about themselves, right? And he wasn't too pushy about it, so it's not like his help wasn't welcome.

The thing I remember most about him is that he liked going ice skating, and he got me to join him for the casual skate every Friday night for a period of time. It was pretty cool. I had fun ice skating (I wasn't fantastic about it, but I had taken lessons at a young age, so I could get by), and it was a major experience to actually have somewhere to go out to on a Friday night, you know?

The biggest change he made in my life was forcing me to get over my fear of roller coasters. We went to the local amusement park once with a couple other guys, and he pestered me to ride the big one. I refused, and one of the other guys with us was also afraid of coasters, so I didn't feel too out of place. But he persisted. For me, just standing in line for one of those things, knowing the inevitability of being pushed closer and closer to the thing, then being strapped in and taken for a wild ride with no escape if it got too extreme...it was terrifying. But eventually, he got the other scaredy-cat to ride the coaster, and I gauged his reaction to make my own decision. He had been afraid, like I was afraid, but after riding it, he thought it was great. So I figured, I have to get over this fear, because if I can, I'm sure I'll be able to enjoy riding these things. And that's exactly what happened. I remember, after deciding, I was standing in line and I said "I can't believe I'm doing this". But I was. I rode the coaster, and it was a huge blast. From then on, it took some time to shake off that fear of standing in line, but even then, I was able to ride it out, because I knew that once I got in the seat and the ride started, I'd be having fun.

At the end of the year, during yearbook time, when everyone was filling their pages up with friendly signatures, I was once again in that mode of extreme anxiety, desiring the simple companionship of a few nice words scribbled for posterity, but paralyzed and unable to actually ask anyone to sign my book. And of course, nobody ever seemed to come to me... In French class, I made the desperate move of actually asking my friend to sign my yearbook. As he did, he told me, as if it was something very important, that this was the first thing I had ever asked of him. Like, as if, I had this problem of speaking my mind and making my thoughts and feelings and desires known to other people, that I had some kind of barrier to being who I am and getting what I want. And of course, that is all true. I've never forgotten that comment, or the keen awareness that he had of my condition. I feel like he was the only one that was ever able to see my struggle better than I could see it myself. I wish I had known him longer, so that maybe he could have helped me even more. But I think his disappearance was the result of moving back to the Ukraine.

High School

I think friendships in high school started out relatively sparse. For me, I mean. There was the whole getting used to the system, and the fearing of the upper class bullies, who made themselves particularly intimidating in gym class. Luckily, I don't think I had any serious run-ins with them. In general, I think I was the kind of kid that people thought was cool or interesting, but didn't have any particular desire to seriously befriend. Like, all different kinds of cliques might respect me and say hey, that guy's cool, but none of them would ever actually make any sort of effort to become real friends or anything. It's kind of hard to explain. You'd think that might give me an extra boost of confidence, but it never really did. Because though it might seem that I was 'in' in certain types of circumstances, I was never *actually* 'in'. Although it could have been worse.

There are a lot of people not really worth talking about here. But one person that I became relatively chummy with, was this one kid who sat next to (or near) me in homeroom. We also had some computer programming classes together, but he always resented me for my natural skills. I'd finish my programs early, and he'd be in the lab after school, just catching up. I might have helped him a bit, but I probably spent more time mocking him. That was the great thing about our friendship. We enjoyed casually insulting each other, but I don't think there was ever any honest hatred between us. It was just a refreshingly low-stress arrangement. We spent countless minutes between classes, and in homeroom in the mornings, toward the later years, discussing the merits of rock vs. rap. Neither one of us wanted to budge, but though I've never lightened up to rap, he did eventually start taking an interest in rock. I made a compilation of good rock songs for him once or twice. We also spent a lot of time discussing casual philosophical topics.

He was actually a friend of, and part of the general clique that included, 'The One'. I remember over that winter break, so much happened from the last day of school before break, to the first day after break. Coming back, he mentioned my 'hookup', saying that he thought it was such an unexpected match. He asked me "why her?", and all I could say was that it just felt natural. I found out later that he had unresolved feelings for her.

Anyhow, he was a cool guy, in his own pathetic way. He actually came up to me once and casually mentioned how he had cut himself the night before. And I don't mean accidentally. I really couldn't understand it, and it disappointed me immensely, but that's just how he was. After moving on to college, I may have seen him once or twice - he actually showed up at "the den" once and got to see me perform a couple songs (that was the night I played The Rain Song in an alternate tuning), but that's it. I haven't seen him since then, and I'm not in a hurry to resurrect anything that connects me back to high school. With the exception of 'The One', I made a point after graduation to sever my ties to the school. No old-age high school buddies for me. Even 'The One' broke away from me, despite the commitment we thought we had to one another.

But it doesn't bother me, because I made some really great friends in college. But this entry is already pretty long, so I'll have to talk about them another time. There's still also the issue of my brothers, who have unsurprisingly played a major role in my life. All in due time.

24 December, 2007


I'll admit I haven't had the best of luck or the most experience with girls in my life, but I have had some, and I'm thankful for that. There were a number of girls throughout my life that have made an impact on me, and I'd like to take a moment to discuss the most important ones.


The first girl I ever remember making an impression on me was the girl that lived across the street from the house my family lived in during the majority of my childhood (pre-kindergarten) years. My memories of this stage of my life are admittedly vague, so I don't recall a lot of details. I'm pretty sure she had a brother, who we (my older brother and I) played with a lot in that neighborhood. I'm not sure, but I think the girl was actually a little older than me, closer to my brother's age. We didn't really have much of a connection, I think, other than just being neighbors that played together sometimes. I mean, I was pretty young at this point, but I do specifically remember having some kind of admiration for her. Maybe it was my very first crush. Although, as I've said, I was quite young at the time. My most vivid memory is when her family moved away from us. It was probably the saddest memory I have from that young an age. The day after she moved away, we woke up and looked out on the front porch, and on it the word "goodbye" was written in chalk. I recall crying very hard.

The Best Babysitter In The World

Also from my childhood days of living in that house, I remember our regular babysitter, Stacey, who lived just down the street. She was absolutely the coolest person in the universe. Every time she came over to watch us, it was an absolute blast. She loved to play videogames, and she'd always bring over some titles, or we'd rent some for the occasion. Thinking back on it, she was a total 80's chick, but that kind of thing didn't really make an impression on me at the time. I think I can honestly say that I loved her, but it wasn't really in a romantic way. Heh, I guess it's like the way you love God. Or something like that. It was a disappointment as we got older and saw her less and less, particularly after she moved farther away. But those evenings of playing video games with Stacey have to be among the greatest times I've had in my life.

Within The Family

I'm not sure at what age this happened, though it was fairly young, but I specifically remember having a crush on one of my cousins. Obviously, nothing ever came of it, albeit to my disappointment, but I remember lying about liking some early pop boy band just so I could hang out with her. I'm not a hundred percent certain, but I think she might have had really long hair at a young age.

Elementary School

Throughout elementary school, focusing on the later years when girls really started entering my consciousness in a significant way, there were two girls that impressed me. They were actually close friends who spent a lot of time hanging out together, and they were also two of the most popular girls in our grade - so naturally, I wasn't the only one thinking about them. The one was more the outgoing type, with a lot of style, and a certain amount of attitude. Basically the girl everyone wants. And the other was a lot shier, a bit of a more gentle beauty, with fairer skin and a softer voice. Of the two, I think I liked the shy girl better. Of course, considering who I am, I probably never once even so much as spoke in their direction. But I remember thinking that whether or not it was a good day depended on whether or not I had made any kind of contact (not necessarily physical) with a girl on any given day - any girl, really. (As a sidenote, I remember that later on, in high school, the outgoing girl ended up becoming the bad girl type, dating a lot of rebel-type guys, while the shy girl ended up getting serious with the smartest guy in our grade - he was an insufferably nice guy, but I always hated him for getting her, though I'm sure they deserved each other).

Ah, I just remembered another girl from elementary school that played a significant role in my life. She was tall, and probably had longer hair than average (though not necessarily really long), and she was a bit more playful than the rest. I remember, in the period before the kids really started thinking about dating, this one girl would sort of take on different boys, one at a time, to sort of be her pet. I pride myself on being one of her pets, although there wasn't a whole lot to it, besides getting more attention from a girl than I usually would. Which was a great thing.

Junior High

Junior High was a painfully awkward period of life. Once again, there were two girls that captured my attention. The one I liked more was the smart type - actually my rival in math class. The other one had really long, jet black hair. But I kind of lost interest in her when she got a buzz cut and went all punk/butch. As for the smart one, I remember two significant moments between us. One was at the end of the year, when I actually, for once, got up the nerve to ask her to sign my yearbook. We exchanged books, and returning them, we both shared a laugh after we realized we had both written something math-related. I guess it's not that much of a coincidence, in hindsight, but that didn't ruin the experience at the time. The other moment was at a school dance. You have to realize the effort it took me to actually go to the school dance. It's the kind of thing I'd fantasize about when I was at home alone on Saturday nights. But this one, I actually worked up the nerve to show up at. It was a Halloween dance, so I put on a cape and I may have put a colored streak in my hair. It was a hell of an experience, although nothing really great happened, except at the very end. The dance kind of ended a little earlier than I had told my dad to pick me up, so I was sort of hanging around as the adults and the student helpers tore things down. The smart girl was there as one of the helpers, and we were sitting on a table as things were winding down, and she mistook me for being one of the helpers since I was still around, and she made some comment about us doing a good job, and slapped me on the back, in that camaraderie kind of way. God, it's not much, is it? But to me, it was everything.

High School

High School is where things finally started to get interesting for me in the romance department. I had spent my whole life as a loner, lamenting my position outside of the social circle, believing that that was just my place and that it would never change. But then I watched Evangelion in a one-stop marathon, and it blew my mind. At the climax, mirroring Shinji's breakthrough, I discovered that what was actually important in life was people - specifically, *other* people. So from that point on, I started actually making a conscious effort to try to score some companionship (granted, in my terms, that doesn't necessarily mean much). That was in the fall, and the following spring, I met a girl online. It's kind of pathetic, but for me, I suppose it couldn't have happened any other way. The internet was the best place for me to meet someone and start to actually make an interpersonal connection - in a largely impersonal arena. We seemed pretty compatible at first, and we chatted regularly for awhile before we finally realized that we both wanted to be a couple, so that's what we did. I was 17 years old at the time (she was 15), and she's the one that awakened my sexuality. In the past, I had understood that looking at pretty girls felt good, but I didn't really 'get' what it was all about until, with her encouragement, I discovered the secret. I have to say, she was quite perverted. We had a lot of cyber-sex and played a lot of erotic cyber-games. It was fun, and it was the first time in my life I actually had someone that I could consider a romantic partner. Somebody who actually admitted to loving me. It was an amazing feeling. The relationship only lasted three months before she went on a vacation to Europe, and for some reason decided to end it before she left. I cried really freaking hard that night, but then the tears were gone, and the sadness was mostly behind me, only to be replaced by anger. She later told me that she was planning on resuming our relationship when she returned (it was only like a two week trip or something), but by that time, I had said some pretty mean things, since I was so pissed at her, and well, things ended kind of messily. I was ready to move on, though.

The One

Then the most amazing thing in my life happened. 1) I fell in love with a girl, 2) I actually mustered the courage to show her my affections, and 3) she actually returned my feelings sincerely! She was a girl I'd known from Junior High, but had never been real close to until senior year of high school, when things just sort of blossomed. It started on a field trip with the Japanese class (to an outdoor taiko concert in the city, actually). There were sparks, but I was still pretty timid. When Christmas rolled around, knowing that she considered herself to be a witch, I spied a deck of Tarot cards during my shopping that I knew she would love, so I picked it up. The difficult part was actually giving her the gift. Last day of classes before break, I was agonizing like crazy during that last period, almost dying from anxiety. Should I head to her locker after this class and give her the gift, or should I just forget it and go home? It was a back and forth battle. For once in my life, I did the right thing. I found her and gave her the gift. We got to talking, and she invited me to a New Years Party with her friends. The next day, she called to confirm details, and we ended up making plans to meet that night. It was magical, though still very innocent and repressed. Next day, we went to see a movie. Another of the most agonizingly anxious moments of my life. I had the urge to put my arm around her shoulders, you know, like the cool guys do in all those movies. But at this point, despite all the signals, I wasn't even sure if she was actually available. Halfway through the movie, I just did it. It was another one of the greatest moves of my life. Later that night, we shared a passionate kiss - my first. Then, just like that, it was Christmas.

We had to be separated for a few days, to spend time with our separate families. But the night before Christmas, I couldn't sleep at all. A strange idea started formulating in my head. I knew it was downright insane, but the more I thought about it, the more I knew - just knew - that I had to do it. I got out of bed, like 3 or 4 in the morning, took a shower, and then, before dawn, I drove over to her house. I remember seeing the light snow falling in the glow of the van's headlights. I got to the house and I parked out front. It was freezing, and it was really early. I turned the heat up high and I figured I'd wait till they got up. You see, I didn't have much of a plan at that point, I just knew that it was Christmas morning, and I had to see her. Before too long, the car battery gave out. I guess I should have kept it running. At that point I knew there was no turning back. The only way to get home would be to get help, so I knew it was just a matter of waiting till they got up. My bones were being chilled to ice.

Finally, around 6am-ish, I couldn't take it anymore. I went up to the door and rang the bell. I felt bad about waking them up, but they said they were just about to get up, anway, though I can't know for sure that they weren't just being polite in saying that. Anyway, I had a problem, and I needed help, and they knew who I was, so they were very welcoming. I had a cup of coffee to warm myself up (I wasn't in a position to be picky), I even got an impromptu gift (a cinnamon candle which I still have and burn every once in awhile), and most importantly, I got to see the girl of my heart on Christmas morning. After getting a jump, I headed on my way, in the brightest of spirits, to join my own family for Christmas. It was insane, but I don't regret it for an instant. Can you imagine any better Christmas gift? I can't.

So from there, things just got better and better. I confessed my love to her explicitly, and we got pretty serious after the New Years Eve party. Meaning the night of, as well as in the ensuing months. We went to the prom together, we graduated together, and we spent the summer in love. Then she moved to the west coast for college. We continued the relationship mostly by phone. I flew out to visit her just after Christmas that year (my first ride in a commercial jet - and alone!), and the experience was mostly positive. We definitely had some good times. I came home after a week or so, and after that things started to go downhill. In the spring, tensions mounted, and during a particularly bothersome sickness, the whole thing stopped short. Later that summer, she showed up on my doorstep, and we started back up again. Another semester over the phone, then that holiday season, it was over for good. It was just not working out. But I was ready to move on.


Even though it's already been a couple years, the latest one is still too recent, and I don't necessarily feel like dredging up the painful memories that I'm still trying to heal from. Another time. If you're anxious, try reading my poetry or listening to some of my songs.

Clothed In Space (or Comfortably Nude)

I alluded to this earlier, but now it's time for the full-on confession. I've always had a fascination with nudity, but only recently have I accepted it and begun to become comfortable with it. For me, nudity possesses an allure that is independent of any connotations with sexuality. That's not to say that nudity cannot take on a sexual quality, as it often does, but the truth is that I've learned to appreciate and enjoy nudity in a completely non-sexual context as well. I'd like to share an observation I've made. It's not like I've actually discussed this with anyone, but it's an impression I got reading various people's opinions. It seems to me, that aside from the whole sex issue, one of the major problems non-nudists have with nudity is that they think it's all about seeing. Whether it's having to see other people nude (arguing that most people are ugly in just their skin), or having to expose one's self to others. But nudism neither has to be about exhibitionism, nor does it have to be about voyeurism. It's not about seeing, it's about being. The appeal is simply *being* nude.

I'm not gonna pretend this is true for everyone, although I would recommend giving it an honest try at least once in your life. Ultimately, though, that's not my decision, and I still respect people who disagree with my views. But at least for me, I find that being nude is exhilarating. It's thrilling, but it's also immensely comfortable, assuming that the temperature is reasonable. Perhaps a part of me is attracted to the idea of exposing myself completely, since I've lived for so long hiding myself from people. But above and beyond that, I've always been drawn to the natural state of things. It's not unconnected to my search for spirituality. Settling on a nature-based belief system, such as the general form of paganism, has a lot to do with the idea of stripping off all of the chains of the society of man, including clothing, and re-uniting with the natural principle within. As I mentioned previously, being nude in a natural surrounding, to me, symbolizes the perfect state. It fills me with a wholeness and a vibrant awareness of the energy of life. It truly is a mystical experience.

But I can enjoy being nude indoors, as well. I have to admit I've practiced. Having a house effectively to yourself for half the day every day, during the hot summer months, tends to lead toward a continuous shedding of layers. Nobody's around, and nobody's gonna see you, so what difference does it make if you're not wearing any clothes? So you experiment, and you either find you like it or you don't. I like it. Simple as that. It's fun, so I find I want to do it more and more, as much as possible. Of course, there are conditions, like whether it's warm enough, whether you can expect to be alone, and if not, whether anyone is going to mind. I'm comfortable by myself, but I'm still not sure if it's something that I want to share with others. I mean, yeah, even I get the feeling of, "oh I don't want to see any of these people naked". And yet, a part of me is excited by the idea of it - not the seeing, but the being. Because ultimately, it's all about being, and I enjoy being nude, so why wouldn't I want to share that with other people of a like mind? But then, I feel like those kind of people aren't exactly easy to find. I have to reiterate that this has absolutely nothing to do with sex - I don't want people to get the wrong idea, else I'd be likely to find myself in an extremely uncomfortable place that I really really don't want to be...

"Have you ever taken photos of yourself nude?"

I have to admit, this question intrigues me. Particularly in this age of digital photography, where you can completely bypass the development stage, ensuring that you're the only one who has to see the pictures you take, it becomes a very valid question. It's probably not surprising at this stage, but to answer that question honestly, I'd have to say yes. I've taken photos of myself nude.

This begs the question, why? For what purpose? Curiosity? Because there's someone you want to show them to? I consider myself an artist, with some interest in photography. The nude body is a natural work of art. Put two and two together. Although I'd obviously prefer to have attractive female models, the bottom line is, I have to work with what I've got. And, this might sound a little strange, I'm not sure, but I actually consider myself somewhat attractive. Unfortunately, and this might also sound odd, I kind of feel like I look better without clothes, anyway. I mean, when I'm dressed, the only real part of me that shows is my face and my hair. And while my hair is beautiful, I've never been entirely satisfied with the shape of my face. Of course, this is just my opinion, and I'll bet that for most of the people I encounter, thinking about how attractive or unattractive I am is one of the last things they want to be doing.

So that explains it, right? Actually, I have an even more obvious answer. The first nude pictures I took were for my girlfriend. The last part of our relationship took place cross-country, and you need some kind of comfort, right? All hail the webcam. Anyhow, that might have been the start of it (I didn't own a digital photographing-device before that webcam, which I bought specifically to keep in touch with my girlfriend when she moved from sea to shining sea), but the pictures I've taken haven't exclusively been for her. Some of them I've just taken for myself.

And being an artist, they're not particularly lewd or crude. Some of them are quite interesting, from an artistic perspective, I think. I have considered putting up something of a gallery of my best shots, but I've never quite got past that feeling that nobody would want to see them, as in, "what the fuck, I don't wanna see you naked." Plus, there's obviously issues about the borderline between art and pornography, and I'd be afraid of somebody getting the wrong idea about my intentions, you know? But on the other hand, despite my hesitation, I don't think there's anything particularly shameful about my body, and I'd probably be proud to show it off, as long as everybody else is on the same page. (On a related note, I've flirted with the idea of being a nude life model, but I've never had the balls to actually try it). Maybe I could go for a private gallery of my photos, and only give permission to people I trust. I dunno. Does that sound too weird? Too perverted? Too risky? Too pointless?