29 February, 2008

Rock N Roll Fantasy

There's nothing else in the world that I want more than to be a performing musician. Maybe I'm exaggerating, but I want to be a performing musician as much as I want anything else in life, and I know that my life would have so much more satisfaction and meaning if I were to accomplish that one thing. But there are certain conditions, like being in a band, being able to play the kind of stuff I want to play (in terms of convincing the band as well as concerning my own abilities), and having some kind of an audience that digs the show.

I saw a Led Zeppelin cover band tonight. It was the first real rock show I'd been to since last summer. And I was reminded how great live music is. But being in the audience is one thing. I love getting to see and hear the music being played right in front of me, but I'm not really thrilled about the standing (or sitting) in a crowd of strangers drunk and high, partying to the soundtrack. When I see bands play live, I'm there to observe the show, not to get down and party. I listen to the music - I don't talk to my buds. And I follow most of the notes and changes. Because I'm not just a music fan. I'm a musician.

I want to be up on that stage. I want to be playing the music. I want to be creating the music, not just listening to it. I enjoy listening to it, but I don't feel like I'm in the right place when I'm standing in the crowd. I belong on the stage, wearing that guitar. And that's exactly what I want so bad. Playing music is a hard business - some bands make ridiculous loads of money, while the majority struggle to make ends meet. But playing music is both a lifestyle as well as a vocation. It's a lifestyle that I want to be a part of, and it's one of the few vocations that I consider desirable to me. It should be the answer to my problems. I'd kill to be a musician, even if it meant having a hard life, as long as I could get up on that stage and play.

So what's stopping me? I can't play. I say that, but I could call up a lifeline of people who would profess just the opposite. But it doesn't matter so much to me whether other people think I can play. What matters is that when I pick up the guitar, I can't make my fingers create the noise I want to hear. I consistently get comments from people who hear me play noise at the den that my performance is mind-blowing, and that's great to hear. But the truth is, I play noise because I can't seem to play notes right. I like that I'm doing something different, that opens people's minds to what kind of sounds can come from a guitar, and I think it sounds great sometimes. But it's my Plan B. I play it because I don't know how to play a searing blues solo. And I don't have the chops to win over an audience traditionally without an accompanying band. Or maybe I just don't want to. There are certain kinds of things I can accept playing by myself, but there are other things that I just don't want to bother with without the right elements of accompaniment. I don't want to play a stripped down version of this or that song. I want to rock people's fucking socks off. With rumbling bass, thundering drums, and wailing vocals, behind my searing guitar lead.

I don't know how to play with people. I've never learned how to accompany another musician, and I never really get the chance to practice. Somebody suggests, "you should jam together", and I'm like, okay, what the hell am I supposed to play? I don't know shit about scales and theory and modes and whatever the hell else. I don't know how to accompany a person's distinct style. All I know how to play is the stuff I play. And it may or may not sound good against the stuff you play. People think I'm a great guitarist, and they're surprised when I tell them that I'm intimidated by the thought of jamming with them, because I feel like I won't be able to live up to their playing - and here they think I'm better than they are!

People say I'm modest, and they say I've got the wrong standards, and they say all kinds of things to try to convince me that I'm good, but the bottom line is, when I pick up a guitar, I can't play what or how I want to play. I guess I have to get lessons or something. But fuck that. I don't want to deal with other people.

Finally, after 5 years of not once using the credit card I inadvertently signed up for (because some business-jerk started asking me questions on the phone before I knew what was happening), they're finally gonna close my account. 5 years of annoying notices, but at least I didn't have to talk to anyone.

27 February, 2008

Journal 013

(This entry was originally written by hand last night, while lying in bed.)

Why is it that the more tired I am, the harder it is to get to sleep? What is up with that? My mind goes into overload and my body starts shutting down, but my mind refuses to relax. So I can't stay up, but I can't go to sleep either. Maybe it has to do with having an obsessive personality. I get caught up in something, and I can't focus on anything else. That's why it's hard for me to multitask. Like lately, I've been absorbed in flickr culture, and I have to struggle to force myself to do something else. Because I get in the zone and I wanna ride it out. If I split my concentration, my involvement and ability in any one task will be reduced in power.

I've kind of dropped my post average lately. Partly because I'm doing the same things. How many times should I come on here and say "I'm still looking at nude photos on flickr"? Still, moods change and thoughts come and go and it's good to keep up to base. Or something.

Well, for today (last night?)'s Daily Nude, I accomplished my snow challenge - diving into a snowdrift, completely naked. And, with photographic proof! Oh, it was quite exciting. I planned the shot meticulously before going out, because I knew the cold would not allow for any mistakes. I ended up setting up the camera on the back porch, on top of an old, sturdy clothes hamper for extra height, looking down at the backyard. Soon as the shot was set, I cued the camera, then rushed down the steps (nearly tripping), and laid back into the snow. I grabbed the camera as I rushed back inside to dry off, and discovered that I had positioned myself too far away, outside the range of the camera's flash! So much for not making any mistakes...

Well, I wasn't *too* chilled, and was instead quite thrilled by the experience, so I knew I had to give it one more shot - but just one. I reset everything, and did it again. When I got down in the snow, knowing this was the shot, I wanted to make the most of it, so I tossed some snow over my body just for the sake of going the extra distance. By the time the flash went off, I was anxious to get up. Again, I grabbed the camera on the way in, but this time, I was even more thoroughly wet and chilled.

Giving the camera some time to dry, I only half dried myself off before rushing upstairs into the shower to soak in a cascade of warm water for five minutes or so. Pleasantly refreshed, and warm, I went back down and checked the camera. The shot was a success! Admittedly, it's not exactly the most flattering angle, but considering the circumstances, I'm quite pleased.

Back online, I made the decision to upgrade to a pro account on flickr, after realizing it was a meager $25 for a full year, and mostly for the ability to better organize my photos. While re-organizing my webcam nudes from college, I yet again decided to throw a few more up on there that I had glossed over earlier. I'm gaining a little bit of confidence. Nude, and proud.

Oh, and I did in fact find a group for 365 nudes - two, actually. But here's the problem. One of them is a splinter group from the main 365 group, and despite being a haven for 365 rejects, I still think I'd be too radical to fit in - there seems to be a bias against genitals, for one thing. Now, I don't see much merit in any of those ridiculous cock shots - I understand the curiosity factor, and I've taken some of my own, but never have I considered them to be of any level of worth that I'd want to show them off (seriously, a guy is more than just a penis...) - but, there's a world of difference between a nude (artistic, erotic, or otherwise) showing the genitals (in context), and a shameless dick pic - and I'm against censorship.

Well, the other group I mentioned seems perfect, except for the fact that it's a ghost town, with few members, very few photos in the pool, and *no* activity. And I don't feel comfortable either sabotaging the group, or being the only contributor. I guess there just isn't that much interest in this aspect as I'd like. I like to sit right on the line between art and porn. Artists are afraid to get too close to pornography, and pornographers have agendas which have little or nothing to do with art. But the line can be a beautiful place - stimulating, yet meaningful. But so many people are afraid of getting shot if they get too close to the border. Either that, or they don't have the skill to walk the line. But now I'm just stroking my own ego...

25 February, 2008

Journal 012

It's been a little while since I did a straight journal entry, I guess. I've been spending most of my time lately between playing with photography, and catching up on various anime and manga series. This weekend I finished the first season of Millenium - great show. I look forward to watching the next two seasons. Wow, that was sad what happened to Bletch... I also caught back up on watching the new Zetsubou series. I thought it was gonna be like a totally different retelling or something, but it appears to mostly be more of the same (meaning still good). I also read a manga called Blame!, which was a pretty cool atmospheric, post-apocalyptic in tone, mellow story. Lots of atmosphere; the story takes place in this endless space of mechanical jungle that expands in every direction, much of which is uninhabited. Very interesting.

I've been having fun with the nude photography so far. I'm getting used to shooting for a single shot a day, and I'm starting to realize that I'm not using my batteries as quickly as I'm recharging them - which is a good thing. But it can still get confusing when it comes down to keeping track of which batteries I've used and which ones I've just recharged, since I have six. I think two might be a little more dead than the rest, and I'd be inclined to maybe get rid of them, if I could figure out for sure which ones they were... I've considered getting a new charger, since I read about one that's supposed to be real good, that charges in three hours (as opposed to eight), and is still only twenty bucks. I'll look next time I'm in a store, and see how things turn out. I'm loving the tripod, but one thing about it that irritates me is the fact that when I turn the camera on its side, to take a vertically-oriented picture, the one tripod leg gets in the way of the camera and I can't get it to line up right, so I have to end up taking a diagonal picture. Even if I try to adjust the individual lengths of the legs to change the angle, they're not sturdy enough to stay in place. So for now, that's an irritation, but it's something I've been working around.

I'm still looking through a lot of interesting photos on Flickr, and I get understandably excited when the numbers of views on my own photos go up. I'd love to have a little more feedback on what I'm doing, but I'm a little cautious about advertising myself, and there's always the question of what *kind* of people I want to have evaluating my efforts. I decided not to be a part of the official 365 Days group, primarily for the reason that I anticipate a number of my photos would likely be considered 'across the border'. Basically, it's a reflection of my placement outside of the accepted community of normals. I understand that I'm different, and I want to celebrate it, but I fear the distinctions people would make between me and them, and the way I'd potentially be ostracized and ridiculed for who I am.

In other news, the fam went out to dinner today. The restaurant we went to changed their menu a bit since the last time I remember eating there. There was no chicken fajitas, which I remember enjoying, and there was no awesome S'mores dessert, either. I ended up having chicken tenders instead (boring, I know, but they were pretty good), and some chocolate banana bread pudding that was so-so. Oh, I also had the baked potato soup, which was not bad. I like a good soup, but most soups just aren't my kind of flavor. So it's nice to find/know of one that I like. The waitress we had looked very familiar - I'm sure I must have had some class with her in high school. Of course I didn't say anything, because it's not like I was ever friends with her. I probably never even spoke to her, and there's no reason to break that streak now.

For my book-reading progress, I took a break after I got halfway through the third of my self-helpish books, since that's when my reading lamp bulb broke, and I still have yet to replace it. Maybe the rest of that book will provide some more ideas, but I'm still at a loss. I question how much of my inability to cope with society is because of my uniquity, and how much is because of my fears. I like to place a healthy share of the blame on the fact that I'm different, and that I'm just not programmed to work as a part of this machine. But maybe I'm just avoiding the real issue. If I could conquer my fears, maybe it would be possible to actually do something with my uniquity. Like, maybe I'd actually find someone to play guitar with, or maybe I'd find a way to make a living as a photographer, or perhaps a model. Or maybe I'd actually be able to get some kind of job as a DJ, or work in a music store, or something like that. The bottom line is, there are actions I could be taking that I'm not taking, and the reason I'm not taking them is because I'm afraid. And that fear is something that's been ingrained into my behavioral and cognitive processes for a good 24 years. So I'm still trying to figure out what to do (what I *can* do) about it.

22 February, 2008

Footprints In The Snow

Three days and I haven't given up the 365 Nudes challenge yet! Although, I'm gonna have to adjust my work habits. As it is, when I pick up the camera, the mood overtakes me, and I can't seem to put it down. I get different ideas and try different things, and it ends up consuming a lot of time, and I end up with more than one good shot. If I were to keep up that pace, it'd burn me out. So I'm gonna have to try to contain my inspiration in rapid daily bursts, if possible.

I was looking outside tonight, and I noticed the brightness of the 'winter red' sky, coupled with a complete layer of reflective snow on the ground. Last night the full moon was shining bright, but tonight it was fully obscured by clouds. But the combined effect between the luminous red night sky and the bright snowy ground may have created a backdrop even brighter than the full moon. The difference is, though the full moon provides a lot more light than is typical during the night, the ground is still rather dark. But with the white snow covering the ground, reflecting the uncanny brightness of the 'winter red' sky, the ground level environment is possibly brighter than when a full moon shines down on the dark land below.

I've tried shooting with my current camera in full moonlight before, and where my eyes could see much, the camera was blind, to my disappoint. Full moonlight is so very enchanting. But with tonight's 'snow red' condition, I was curious if there was enough light for the camera to pick something up. And there was! The ground was visible, and the sky was even brighter! Exciting! So what does this mean? Maybe I could finally take a picture of myself outside, while naked, since that's where the nude fits best!

Well, the major problem with that plan is the fact that the snow is very, very cold. Still, I knew it was worth at least trying for one shot. But because of the cold and the wetness of the snow, I knew it wouldn't be very easy to get multiple shots, so I had to set things up and make it count! I opened up the front door, and set the camera up on the ground just inside, sitting on top of a short boost. I checked to make sure the camera would pick up the walkway straight out the front door. I turned off the flash and set the counter. This was it. I hit the button, and then rushed outside, thinking only that I had ten seconds to pose myself. Rushing into the snow, being careful only enough not to slip and fall, I felt it was incredibly soft. Like the kind of soft fake stuff they use in department stores for Santa's arena. It was also a little bit deeper than I expected. It was a very magical sensation.

I made it to the edge of the walkway, in about the middle of the yard, and quickly turned around to face back towards the house. I threw my arms up to take in the spirit of the moment, and I noticed by the red light on the front of the camera that I was a second or two early. Those extra moments out there waiting for the shutter to snap, hopping and waving my arms like a looney, conscious of the possibility that by some coincidence another person in one of the nearby houses might be awake and glancing out the window at the beautiful snowscape, only to see a crazy figure jumping around in the snow completely naked, were tense. But luckily, the camera functioned properly and took the picture, and then, now getting quite cold - more so on my feet than anywhere else, obviously - I rushed back inside. I dried my feet on the towel I placed by the door, but I couldn't tell when they were dry, because I didn't feel the wetness, only the cold. Then I went upstairs and warmed them off in the tub. And then I checked my camera to see how the picture came out.

Well, it did just what I could have hoped it would do, my only concern being that the image is pretty dark. But the important thing is that it's light enough to make out. So for what it's worth, that was a success. Photographic evidence of me naked outdoors, in the snow, becoming one with the goddess of winter. After marking down that success, I considered trying for another, perhaps to accomplish that diving in the snow fantasy I have, but ultimately I decided it was just too cold. One step at a time, I suppose.

I noticed that I left footprints in the snow just outside the front door, leading out to the edge of the walkway and back. Now that I think about it, I should have taken a picture of them, with the flash, real quick. Maybe I'll try that some other time. I certainly didn't feel like going back out and smudging them, so I just left them as is. I imagine it will be quite a shock when my dad gets up and sees bare footprints in the snow just outside the front door. I don't see how he could possibly miss them. But you know, I'm not really that concerned about it. I have a feeling he's done a lot of crazy things in his youth, so he'd probably understand getting an impulse to do something crazy every once in awhile. Then again, I could always argue that I was only going out for a moment, and I decided it was easier to dry my feet than my shoes...

21 February, 2008

365 Days

I've been browsing through a number of photo pools on Flickr the past month or so, ever since I discovered the wealth of largely non-pornographic, artistic nudes that exist on the site, presumably having been hidden just behind the content filter. Coupled with my newly open attitude (at least in certain arenas) about my interest in nudism as well as nude [self-]photography, and the nifty tripod I recently procured, which has greatly increased my ability to shoot myself, (although I'm still working on finding a solution to the battery obstacle), my photographical interest and inspiration is aroused.

I've come across a certain challenge on Flickr, called 365 Days, in which the idea is for the photographer to post one photograph of him/herself every day for a full year. No excuses, no arguments, just one picture a day. And there are plenty of ideas about various themes and motifs to explore in case you find yourself lacking in ideas. Now, seeing that my primary mode of taking pictures is self-portraiture (considering that I have no models who would express mutual interest in being shot by me), and that my other primary photographic interest - natural landscapes - is hard to do on a nocturnal schedule and a sheltered lifestyle, this challenge seems right up my alley. Granted, I have so far done a terrible job of keeping up with these one-a-day schedules of things that I want to do more of (drawing and practicing guitar are among the recent failures), but what's one more try? Maybe this'll be the one that sticks...

One of the keys to making sure that this project maintains a certain level of interest, so that there's a better chance of me sticking with it, is my decision to try 365 Nudes - a nude a day. Maybe it's silly to restrict myself to nudes, when I could do any kind of mixture as my mood dictates. But the thing about making it nude is that, to me, at this period in my life, that's exciting. Taking a nude picture is a lot more exciting than taking a regular old clothed picture. And my primary interest here is the form of the human body (specifically, mine), and not the contours of textile adornment. That's not to say that every photo has to be buck naked, or even primarily a nude study - I look forward to experimenting with all kinds of props and themes to see what interesting shots I can possibly come up with. On the other hand, I don't want to put too much pressure on myself to compose a masterpiece everyday, or else, I know I'll just give up.

Besides, a lot of pictures I see are way too artistic, way too staged. Not that it's a bad thing, or that a spontaneous snap is gonna be better, but I'd just like to see a lot more normal pictures of normal people, who - and this is the important part - manage to capture something profound without requiring that look of professional polish. To go off on a tangent, it's like in pornography - you see all those air-brushed images of picture-perfect models, and they just don't do anything for you (well, for me, at least). You want to see real people in real environments - but that doesn't mean you want to look at a bunch of half-assed snaps of ugly people. There's a balance to be found between amateur and professional, where a natural kind of beauty can be captured in a natural kind of way. That's what I'd like to see, anyway. There's a lot of beautiful people out there that you'll never see on a magazine cover.

So I don't know if this is gonna last, or if technical problems (like unreliable batteries) are gonna screw me over, or if I'm gonna end up losing the ability to take interesting photos, but I'm excited enough to give it a run. One photo a day, and I'll probably provide a description for each one, or at least something to give it a little context. This will be on my Flickr account.

19 February, 2008

Homeostasis and Transistasis

The force for stability, and the force for change. In Neon Genesis Evangelion, Dr. Akagi Ritsuko explains that these two forces are the basis of life. It's a simplistic explanation - I once used it to prove that stars were alive - but there's a certain poetry to it. Two opposing forces, in a continuous struggle, and the resulting chaos that ensues is what we experience as life. We find comfort in stability, yet we seek the thrill of change. To cater to only one or the other for too long is to tip the balance of life. Too much change, and we become wild and unpredictable, threatening to lose all control. Too much stability, and we stifle, threatening to forfeit our stake in this dynamic world. But as long as those two forces battle, and we can find a balance in between, we are in a position to continue enjoying life.

As for myself, I'm far more comfortable with stability. I like patterns and routines, because the familiarity is comforting. Unexpected surprises are a source of great anxiety, because I need time to warm up to things, and get to a level where I can deal with them. Yet, I also desire, even require, change every now and then. Change in scenery, change in activities, something to make me feel like I'm not living the same days over and over again. A great way I've discovered to introduce change in my life with a minimal amount of stress is to rearrange my room every so often. It doesn't really involve putting myself into unfamiliar circumstances which would cause a lot of stress, but it does allow me to change my perspective on my world, because every day I wake up in this seemingly new environment. It shuffles thoughts and creative energies around. And it's just plain exciting.

College was nice, because I had a chance to completely change rooms every year. But even that wasn't always enough. In my senior year, I remember changing my furniture around multiple times. For awhile I had the bed against the wall with the window. But in the winter, it got cold, so I moved the bed in, splitting the room in half, with my desk by the window. Later, I moved the bad back against the wall lengthwise, at the corner of the window, with my desk closer to the door. Earlier, in junior year, I remember quite a startling experience with a room rearrangement. I had originally set up the room in a way that sectioned off my half, which I liked, because it gave me extra privacy, but my roommate didn't like it, because it obstructed the flow of the room (or something). So one day, I come home from a long day of classes, and the furniture's been completely moved around - totally unexpectedly! It was like the Twilight Zone! I go back and forth on whether I like a room to be opened up or sectioned off, because they each have advantages.

Well, you should be able to tell that I've rearranged my blog a little bit. Namely, I added a third column. It's something I've been wanting to do for awhile, but it wasn't one of the default options, so I wasn't sure how I was gonna approach it. It just seemed like there was too much blank space on the page, and it would make more sense to move some of the "wall hangings" in the right column, into another column on the left, so that there's more activity, without having to scroll down, observing one "wall hanging" at a time, you know? So I finally did a search, since there are all kinds of modifications you can do to change the way your blog looks. I just wanted to simply add a third column. The first set of instructions I came to was way too complicated. (I know HTML, but I never really learned about styles and whatever else is on there, so I was a little lost). Luckily, I found a second set of instructions that was a lot easier for me to follow. Hopefully, the effect looks as good for you as it does for me. Let me know if something doesn't look right. And while you're at it, take a look at some of the new things I just hung up.

I didn't stop with my blog. I also ended up completely redesigning my room. I'd show you pictures, but my alkalines are dead, and I didn't charge up my rechargeables last night, since I wasn't expecting to use them. It's not necessarily finished, as these things take time - you gotta test certain arrangements out and sometimes certain ideas don't work out in practice. Of course, it's not completely rearranged, as there are plenty of things that are too much trouble to move (like my bed, my computer desk, the huge table in the corner, my desk desk, the TV dresser...basically all the major stuff...), but there are enough smaller things to move around to give the room a significant change of personality. This time, I really opened the room up, pushing things largely back towards the walls. It's nice to have a lot of open space to move in, instead of weaving through columns of junk to get from one end of the room to another. But that can be fun, too, sometimes.

I lost a lamp and gained a lamp. I stopped using a desk lamp a while back because the fluorescent bulb got wacky - basically turning into a random strobe. Actually, it was a really neat effect, when I turned it on and shut the rest of the lights off - a real Halloween setting. I considered saving the bulb for next fall, but I ended up inadvertently breaking it while trying to pull it out. I had a backup bulb sitting in my desk (for a long time), and I wanted to make sure it was just the bulb that was screwed up. It was. Now I have that lamp back on my computer desk (I have an identical lamp on my desk desk), which is good, because the heat/reading/really really bright and hot lamp's bulb seems to have just now gone out, so it's out of commission until I go and get a replacement bulb, which I hope happens soon, because it's a pretty important light for my room (mostly for reading, and partly for keeping warm).

18 February, 2008

More Fun Without Clothes

Today the weather was nice and warm, up into the 50's at least. It doesn't look like it'll last, even another day, but it was quite pleasurable to get even just a small taste of spring. I actually hadn't thought much about it, despite noticing the weather when we went out to dinner for yet another birthday celebration, but this evening, my brother came back, apparently from a walk, and informed me of the still-warm weather. It was still a bit early, but I went and checked it out. I was already undressed, and I just went out on the back porch, just outside the door, to gauge the temperature. There was a definite attractive feel to the spring-harbinging air, and it felt nice compared to the chill we've been having, but you know, it was still a bit chilly. The moon, heading towards full, was bright in the western sky, and the swatches of cloud were moving pretty quickly across the sky.

I went back in, then after awhile, I heard wind and rain. I checked again, and it was damp outside - probably better that I hadn't gone out for a walk earlier. The wind was pretty fierce for only a short moment, and I wanted to go right out, on the front porch, to experience it, but the motion-sensing light next door was flashing on and off - most likely due to the wind, but it was still too bad a sign for me to go right out. The light eventually stopped, which I take to mean that there's a decent chance somebody was up to shut it down. I waited a little bit, and it stayed dark, and then I just couldn't stay inside anymore. But I grabbed a dark blanket from my room to cover myself to be extra cautious. It's about the right size to cover me down to about my knees, when wrapped around my shoulders. It's quicker than putting on the ritual cloak, and it's also not as thick and doesn't cover as much, so it lets you feel a little bit more naked than having the huge ritual cloak wrapped around you. It's wooly, so it's pretty good for warmth, but also bad for generating my arch-nemesis, static electricity.

Anyway, I went out onto the porch, and things stayed pretty dark and quiet, so I was happy. My feet got wet right away, even just stepping onto the porch mat, but I was expecting that. I stood for awhile, taking in the atmosphere, as the wind and rain fluctuated, but generally stayed fairly calm. A couple times I stepped toward the edge of the porch, to the end of the overhang, and stuck my leg out to determine the rainfall, which I could hear, but was actually pretty light. I started getting ideas about going out into it, just for a moment. Definitely too cold for anything substantial, but looking at the few remaining patches of snow on the lawn that hadn't yet been disintegrated by the rain, I was possessed by the desire to step in one.

I've always wanted to dive into a snowdrift while naked, but as of yet I've been deterred by the thought of how cold that would be. This would at least be a small step in that direction. My feet were already pretty cold, but keeping them in the same spot on the porch mat kept them manageable. Stepping out toward the edge of the porch, the ground was colder. But I figured it wasn't too cold that I couldn't do it, even though the only snow patch large enough to step in completely was out and down the steps in the middle of the front yard, and then across the driveway, next to the basketball hoop. I knew that stepping into the snow would be really cold, but I judged that I could handle it.

A couple months ago, around Yule, I made a complete circuit around the house on a couple different nights, when the mood struck me, despite the cold. It was a chance to get outside, and going completely around the house made it significant, but it was quick enough that I could get back inside and warm up before I began to freeze. The one thing I remember most, though, is that with the ground as cold as it was (though without any snowfall), my feet got absolutely frigid by the time I made it all the way around the house. But in light of those experiences, I knew that I could handle this one - stepping into the snow.

My first instinct was to drop the blanket I had wrapped around me (well, hang it on the door knob perhaps, so it wouldn't get wet and dirty lying on the ground), so I could do it completely naked, but I was too cautious to do that. I didn't want it to get wet, but I figured the rainfall was light enough that it wouldn't be significant. So I went for it, with the blanket wrapped around me. I made the route out to the remaining snow patches, on the other side of the driveway. Stepping into the snow, it actually didn't feel too cold at first. I stomped around for a few seconds before the cold started to sink in - and it was cold! But not too cold that I couldn't keep my calm. So I considered myself victorious, and headed back to the porch. Now that my feet were freezing, I thought it was a good time to go in.

Back inside, I climbed up the steps, on my hands and knees, since I didn't really have anything to wipe my feet off with, other than the mat in front of the door. I crawled into the bathroom, and rinsed my feet off. One thing I've discovered from my experiences walking around barefoot outside, is that coming in and rinsing them off (especially with warm water when it's cold), feels great. In addition to the warmth, it makes them soft and smooth, which feels good on the carpet, just like when you come out of the shower.

To switch topics, anyone who really knew me in college knows that I used to play DDR a lot. I'm not gonna go into the whole history of that here - that'll probably turn up in one of my College Memories sometime in the future. But I will mention that I thought it was a pretty lame game, like most people, before I really got into it. Even after getting into it, there's still an inherent lameness factor, but the bottom line is, not only is it a fun game that you can play both alone and with friends, but, best of all, it's a great excuse to get exercise, in a thoroughly entertaining fashion. Although I do enjoy walking, it doesn't exactly happen everyday, and a lot less during the cold months. Although I may or may not have better instincts or base statistics than other people, the fact of the matter is, I'm not in very good shape. For the past two years, most of my days have consisted of me sitting at the computer. All. Day. Long.

Now, I'm not real concerned about losing weight. I wouldn't mind if it happened, but even now, I'd say I have healthy proportions, and I wouldn't go out of my way to get any thinner. I don't really care about muscles, either. Again, I wouldn't mind having more strength, but it's never been all that important to me, and I wouldn't go too far out of my way to bulk up (weight-lifting has never seemed all that attractive to me). The one thing I am concerned about is having a healthy heart. Having endurance. Being able to exert myself physically over a period of time without exhausting myself prematurely. It seems rather pointless right now, since I don't really do anything like that, except for walking, so it seems like I don't really *need* to be in better shape. But I like the idea of doing those sort of things, sport-like things, just for the sake of fun - because it makes you feel good. Kind of hard to do things like toss a ball around when you're on your own, I guess, but there are still things you can do without a team.

Anyway, I always come back to the idea of playing DDR to keep me in shape, since it's fun, it's something I can do by myself, and it doesn't matter what the weather's like, either. Of course, I have yet to commit myself to any kind of regular regimen. But you know, it keeps coming up in my mind. Part of the problem is that there is that lameness factor to playing DDR, making me feel silly at the thought of being caught playing it - which, really, is rather ridiculous. I happen to have some dance pads left over from my college days, which I think still work at least relatively well, if not perfectly. Pads can be a pain, since they always seem to be breaking down and responding wrong, which really throws off your game. But you know what? If you're just playing for exercise, it doesn't really matter if you use pads, because the important thing isn't to get all the notes right, but just to get yourself moving, and the game provides a pattern for you to follow. I guess the only other real potential problem is the fact that playing DDR involves jumping around a bit, and that can cause structural stress in the floors, as well as potentially cause a lot of noise, thumping around at night. But I think it's at least worth another try.

Staying within the overall topic of this blog entry, I'll obviously have to try playing DDR in the nude. Not that it would be the first time. Actually, there was a marginally-related incident that I feel kind of bad about, in hindsight. One day back in college, two of my friends were playing DDR in our dorm room. Instead of playing, I went out for a little bit. If I recall correctly, it was because the weather was nice, and I had already decided to go out with my guitar for a bit before the sun set. Although that could have been another day. But for whatever reason I left, I came back later, only to enter the room and discover to my surprise two guys practically in their underwear, dancing about, playing the game. They were obviously only trying to keep cool, but you can imagine my surprise. And I feel bad about it, because I was judging them then just the way I fear people might judge me now. But then again, context is an important factor with these sorts of things.

One other physical activity I've considered doing nude is practicing kendo. Certainly, they put on a lot of armor, and if you're actually sparring with someone, it would be immensely dangerous. But I mean just on my own, practicing forms and such. I'd have started doing it a long time ago, if it were something I could do in the privacy of my room. But alas, the confined quarters (even considering the size of my room), make swinging a sword around quite unreasonable. There's always the backyard, but the problem I've had so far with practicing kendo where someone might see me (even if dressed), is that, based on my anxiety issues, I don't feel confident about going out and swinging my sword around. I feel like I'd stick out, and people, if they saw me, would naturally focus their attention on me and maybe want to ask me questions and watch me practice, and then there would be tons of pressure on me to act like I know what I'm doing, you know? Regardless of whether the reaction is positive or negative, that kind of attention makes me uncomfortable. Even in the dead of night, when I'd love to be confident enough to go out and practice without even wearing clothes, when the weather's nice, I still can't shake those anxieties about the slim chance that someone might be awake, and they might glance out their window, and see me. And under those conditions, it'd be even worse, because swinging around a sword at night is generally suspicious, and doing so naked is even more alarming and questionable.

At any rate, I thought about finding something special to wear, that would let me blend in with the shadows better, giving me more confidence to get out there and practice. You know, something vaguely ninja-like. Skin-tight, black, covering the arms and legs. If it helps me get out there, it'd be great, but I don't know how great I feel about ordering a unitard from some dance company. But I don't want some expensive, pop culture ninja get-up, either. Just something simple and effective.

Anyway, just some things I've been thinking about.

16 February, 2008

How Did It Come To This?

Ten years ago, this was a relatively normal family. Two parents, three kids in school. And you know, it might sound arrogant, but I felt like I was the favored child in the family. Not because of how I felt about myself, but because of how I perceived others feeling about me. Compared to my brothers - and no offense to either of them - I was the genius, the smart kid who consistently got good grades. And in those days, grades are the sole determinant for future potential (LIES!). The way the formula's supposed to work is something like this: kids all go to college, graduate, start promising careers, find a wife, marry, start a family, the cycle continues, while the parents get used to their newfound freedom and as retirement age sets in, they learn to sit back and enjoy life and go after the dreams they may have forsaken in their hardworking youth.

Of course, the devil fools with the best laid plans. My mom desired freedom and independence, and so my parents split up right around the time when the oldest of us sons were getting ready to graduate high school and move on to college. Within a year of that turning point, my dad lost his job to down-sizing, and though I don't know what his plans were then, it's been years and he hasn't gone back to work, so for the time being, it seems like it was a forced early retirement. He keeps himself fairly busy holding down the old homestead, and spends a lot of time watching TV, which I know he enjoys, but there's a question, at least in my mind, of whether he'd have an interest in pursuing something else in life, while he still has the time and the health, if he didn't have the potential concerns about taking care of us kids that he wouldn't have if we didn't end up being such parasites. As for my mom, she seems to be doing pretty well for herself, maintaining a positive outlook, and working like a machine to get her own business off the ground.

As for us kids, at least one of us managed to hit the mark, mostly. My older brother has been working constantly since the age of, like, 14. He bought a very pretty, used Firebird while he was still in high school. After graduating college, he was immediately placed in a prestigious accounting firm, where he's been the past few years. He works a lot, but he makes a lot of money, and as far as I can tell, his future looks promising. So far he's chosen to live out of this, our dad's, house, for whatever reasons - there are plenty to choose - although I'm confident that he could afford to move out if he wanted to. He's got friends, too, and it seems like he's perfectly suited to living life. He might envy my lifestyle of effortless laziness without responsibility, but I envy his ability to deal with the world and get done the things that need to get done.

So what happened to me? I remember touring my dad through the physics building one day when he visited me on campus while I was enrolled at college. I showed him some of the posters on the walls in the halls, of various students' collaborative projects, and he was amazed at it all - all this mind-bending complicated science-stuff. Everybody was impressed, I was studying physics, I was gonna be the next Einstein, I was gonna redefine the laws of the Universe, I was gonna win the Nobel Prize, I was gonna go to space, I was gonna invent new technology. I was on the cutting edge of knowledge. Hell, I believed it myself, for awhile. But then I learned the reality of things, and certain events undermined even my ability to keep up with the pace I had set for myself. So I dropped out. I may have graduated college, but that doesn't change the fact that I dropped out of life.

On the other hand, my little brother has dropped out of college, but he still seems able to pursue his dreams, even if they're the runner-up dreams (Living The Plan B!). He's been making efforts to get a job, and here I sit, wasting away. It seems as if not one of us is really supposed to be here, like this, but that's the way things have turned out. I have dreams and desires, but I don't have the motivation or ability to do anything about them. I'm paralyzed. I'm living in a shelter, and I've lost the desire or ability to protect myself, out there.

What do I want? I want to move into an apartment somewhere - get a place to myself. I want to be in charge of providing for myself, getting my meals, paying my bills. But I'd need to have an income, and that means getting a job. I want to have a job. But any job I can imagine, doesn't feel like something I could do. It's all so strange and unfamiliar, and I'm terrified to go out there. I'm terrified to be on my own. I want to be on my own, and I want to experience that excitement. But at the same time, I'm terrified of the possibility of failing, and not knowing how to deal with it, whether I can figure out what to do to get what I need and want, and actually doing the things I know I need to do - because they scare me!

1) Get an apartment. What do I have to do? Look. Look where? Go around neighborhoods? Look in newspapers? Look online? What kind of place am I even looking for? How much can I afford to spend? What kind of things do I need? Where do I even want to be? It's too much, I don't know where to start, and even if it came down to contacting people and looking at places, and moving in, I don't think I could handle that. Too much uncertainty, too much unfamiliarity, too much fear. Avoid, avoid, avoid.

2) Get a job. What do I want to do? Should I force myself to do something I don't want to do? Then how do I pick a thing? I feel terrible getting a low-end job because I'm a freaking college graduate, but the higher-end jobs (including middle-end) are too intimidating and selective. Almost any job you can think of includes interacting with people, and that terrifies me. Even if it was a lonely job, I still can't put myself in a place where I'm being evaluated, judged to determine whether I'm fit for the spot. I don't feel like I'm what any part of society is looking for, and I have a hard time justifying who I am to a bunch of tight-necked squares. Why do I want this position? Truth is, I don't, I'm only applying for it because I need a job, badly. I don't wanna do it, I don't wanna be here, I don't want to talk to you, I don't want to talk to anyone else. Avoid, avoid, avoid.

I'm lost and I'm scared and I don't know what to do, and nothing's happening because I have this happy place that I can crawl into where I can forget about all of that stuff for awhile, and just simply exist. I understand the need to pull the rug out from under my feet, but there's nothing in the world that can make me do it, and I'm too afraid to let anyone else near it, because I'm terrified, scared to death, of standing on the naked floor. That's a silly metaphor for a serious problem. I'm confused and I don't know what to do. I've been taking small steps for two years, hoping that a convenient solution would present itself, but it hasn't, and I'm not equipped to do the things that need to be done to improve my condition. I want help, but I'm willfully isolated from any person who could help me, if such a person exists.

There's a conflict going on inside, between the two sides of me. There's the side that's ruled by fear, and the side that's ruled by desire, and the side that's ruled by fear has the upper hand. My desires demand recognition, but my fears refuse to acknowledge them.

Why can't I be making periodic posts about how great my life is going, about the interesting things I'm involved in at work, about the fun trips I go on with friends, about the great connection I have with my girlfriend? Why do I have to live in a state of periodic distress, between the periods of being comfortably numb with my life and who I am? Why do I have to be this person, and not someone else? I understand that everyone has problems, but why can't I be a person who's got the equipment to deal with his problems? Why did I have to be the person who doesn't have what it takes to handle his problems? Why did I have to be weak? How come in this overcrowded world it's so easy for me to avoid the people who might go out of their way to help me? How come more of those people don't exist, and how come they don't do a better job of finding the people that need them?

I heard there's this program in Japan, created to help hikikomori, where the parents call in and hire a Rental Sister to act like a concerned sister and do whatever it takes to get through to the hikikomori and encourage him to join a program and improve his life. I want a Rental Sister...but they'd probably be expensive, especially if I have to ship her from Japan, and I'd probably need a translator, too...

15 February, 2008

The Artist Is Always Naked

I doubt that phrase was meant to be taken literally, but it wouldn't be all that inaccurate a description for me. I wasn't planning on doing anything special for Valentine's Day, but something worked out anyway. I'll get to that shortly, but first, on a somewhat related topic, I'd like to bring up my underwear again. If nothing else, it must be a good sign that I'm a little bit less anxious about talking about my underwear than I was the first time.

I did my laundry today, having gotten into the habit of doing it on Thursday nights, since my other brother, though away during the week for work (since this is his busy season), comes home for weekends. Anyway, I have three sets of underwear (sets, not pairs), not counting my pleasure pair of silk boxers. Of those three sets, there's only one pair left of my old set, six pairs of the 'usual' set, and I don't know how many of the [relatively] new set since I don't ever wear them, because they're uncomfortable - they come up way too high around the waist. First, to clarify, despite conclusions some people I know may have come to, I've decided that, as long as I'm wearing clothes, I feel more comfortable with a little support, so provided I do laundry regularly, the plan is to wear the underwear I have. Well, that last pair of the old set was getting kind of raggedy (torn in places), and I couldn't help tearing it apart. I tore out the fabric, leaving just the frame of the briefs intact. It's kind of interesting to wear, because you feel the seams, and you almost want to believe you've got underwear on, but then you realize there's actually no layer between you and the air/your pants. It might sound pretty silly, but it's kind of fun to wear. It's almost like having some bondage rope to outline your figure, but you don't have to make any effort to put it on, and it's a cinch to take off.

Okay, well, that might answer a question you might otherwise have had if you end up doing certain things that I'll be talking about later on in this post. Cryptic enough for ya? I've been thinking about getting some new underwear, not just to replace old pairs I have, but because I've been toying with the idea of trying a new style. I've already explained that boxers have little appeal to me. But briefs themselves are pretty lame. I'd want something with a little more style, and something that has a low waist, since that's the direction fashions are going these days, and I've gotten used to it, myself. In other words, I was thinking about maybe trying bikini briefs, and maybe in something other than a bland white. Not like a string bikini brief or anything, but just something that only really covers what needs to be covered. The one thing that bothers me most about traditional brief designs is that overlapping pocket/hole thing in the front. I have never once used it and frankly, it doesn't seem any easier or more convenient than simply flipping down the top, to get your friend out (even when it comes down to unbuckling and unbuttoning - it's still more dependable than fishing for an eel). I mean, even if I was pissing in front of other people, which is something I generally wouldn't volunteer to do, I don't see how it could be so important that I get my snake out without risking exposure of his eggs. What does it even matter? It's not like other people would be concentrating on it (or if they were, they probably wouldn't mind seeing a little more...).

Okay, I apologize, I had no idea this discussion was going to head in this direction. But I don't want to avoid talking about things just because I'm not entirely comfortable talking about them - otherwise, that would reinforce the idea in my head that there are certain things about me that I'm not allowed to talk about, and therefore should be ashamed of. Moving to more interesting things...

I was in an unusual mood tonight, after watching my daily episode of Millenium. There was an odd show on the History Channel (my TV just happened to be on that channel, because of the last show I watched) about pig farming, and when I shut off the DVD, the show was talking about selective genetics, and the methods they use to preserve pig semen. Yeah. TV has a powerful hold, though. I'm sitting in that chair, watching shows that hold my interest, and it feels like there could be nothing better than staying in that chair and watching more TV, even after the show(s) I was interested in have ended. Because it's almost like dreaming - you ignore all your physical barriers, you don't have to exert yourself whatsoever, you just sit, and watch, and be entertained. But it's dangerous, because you end up wasting time watching stuff that does you no good beyond killing time, and the constant commercial breaks wear your brain down, and over time, you enter a zombie-like state that eats away at you and your ability to ever do anything else in life away from the television set.

Sometimes it's hard to hit that power button, but it's like a massive release when I do. At first, I'm disappointed, because the entertainment box has died, but very quickly the release washes over me, and I feel free to exist again. I tried reading some more from the third and last of the self-helpish books I got in December, Anxiety Disorders And Phobias: A Cognitive Perspective, but I was getting easily distracted. At first, I was afraid that, of the three, that book would be an effort because it would have a lot more technical language, and be more about psychological theories than therapy approaches. And it is, but it hasn't been a problem - it's actually very interesting, and I look forward to reading more. But today I was distracted. I spent some time looking up stuff about hikikomori and freeters and shut-ins and parasite singles, online. I want some books that can tell me how to fight avoidance itself, but it doesn't seem to be as common as stuff about fighting anxiety...

Ok, time for the interesting part. After tearing up my underwear, I put on the three blacklights in my room, on a whim. I also picked up the neon green plastic toy squirtgun sitting on the table, since it was glowing. Looking in the mirror, I got the idea to maybe try and take some pictures. You know, test out that spiffy new tripod I recently got! Well, that little tripod was a massive help. Considering I literally spent less than ten bucks on it, I wish I had gotten one years ago. Finally, I can set up shots in all kinds of places, without having to be there holding the camera! Of course, that doesn't eliminate the trouble of doing self-portrait photography. There's a lot of work in thinking of a pose, hitting the button, then rushing into place before the shutter snaps. And with the camera I have, I have to reset the options for every shot (in this case - no flash, self-timer, go!). Now, there may be a way for it to remember and repeat the settings automatically, but I looked through the menus and I couldn't find it. So it was still a challenge, but a much better success with that tripod, and I think I got some decent, interesting shots. Plus, it was fun, as always. I put my favorites up on my Flickr account, so I guess this is sort of my Valentine's Day gift to the [online] world. Again, if you want to see them, you'll have to login on a registered account, and turn the content filter off. Hope your V-Day wasn't too heartbreaking!

14 February, 2008

College Memories (2)


I remember sitting in the van, with everything packed up, driving out, up the street, away from the house I had lived in for 12 years or so, heading toward the interstate, unimaginably excited about the journey I was embarking on. My dad was at the wheel. We were listening to RRK, and whether by fate or irony, the song Point Of Know Return by Kansas played. I knew that I was making a huge step in my life, and that from here there'd be no turning back.

We listened to Neil Young's Decade on the trip up. I saw visions of demons and angels in my head, during the instrumental portions of Cowgirl In The Sand. When we arrived in Lewisburg, it was getting late. We checked into the hotel we were staying at overnight, before the big day, and then tried to drive in to get a glimpse of the campus. We made it to Market St., and when my dad asked the guy at La Casa De Pizza where the campus was, he said it was just another block or two in that direction. We were confused, as we didn't know the area too well, but we got some pizza and took it back to the hotel. By this time, it was full-on dark. I remember eating that pizza in the hotel room, watching some Conan The Barbarian movie on television for a little bit, then listening to the radio on my portable system, trying to find which stations were good in this town, before finally getting to sleep.

In the morning, I giddily prepared myself, and we headed towards campus. Our car was directed to the building I was to be living in - Larison Hall. As we arrived, and stopped the car in front of the building, we were immediately absorbed by a whirlwind of volunteer assistants who quite efficiently whisked all my luggage away and up to my room. I and my dad were informed that this was the chance for me to go in, get my room key from my RA, and check out my room - without my dad's assistance, a first chance at independence. We eventually met back at my room, and started to unpack some of the more important things.

I finally got to meet my would-be roommate, Brent. Ironically, he was from California, which is where my then-girlfriend had moved to attend college. He was a great guy, very friendly, although we weren't really the best match, since he was a total party guy/social butterfly. But for what it could have been, it was a pretty positive experience since I had never faced the prospect of living in close quarters with a stranger before.

I guess there were some events and things, but it came to a point where my dad was anxious to start the long trip home, and where I needed to start getting used to living on my own, away from parental guidance and protection. We parted ways in the middle of a thronging crowd assembled for some activities fair type gathering on the lawn next to the chapel, and I remember it being an incredibly bittersweet moment, filled simultaneously with fear and excitement, sadness, and vigor.

There was about a week of freshman orientation before actual classes began, where we could get used to living on campus, where to get food, become acquainted with our hall mates, attend supposedly mandatory (ha!) meetings about adapting to college life, and stuff like that. Basically, it was a lot like some kind of camp, except that we were living in buildings and not tents or huts. There were some incredibly lame festivities, where we were held captive on the field and forced to play embarrassing games with the rest of the freshman class, which really lowered my appreciation for the whole orientation program.

My hall had some pretty cool people. Of the two guys right across the hall from my room, one of them was from Pittsburgh, which was pretty cool. He was kind of a rough-and-tumble sporty type, though. Once, we got in trouble for playing the same song from each of our rooms, and adjusting the volume so that you could get a perfect equal balance from both sides by standing right in the middle of the hall between the two rooms. That was awesome. Down the hall, in the triple, there was "rock star Mike" (the Asian and the Mike that I was friends with in college would find irony in the fact that this particular Mike was Asian - and a guitarist! Premonitions?), who was a talented guitarist, and Pedro, another beginning guitarist like myself. Interestingly, we had three Laurens on our hall, and two Kates of some form. There was also a fascinating individual by the name of Whitney, who I got to know a little better later on (he spent a year backpacking in Europe, before entering college!). He started out studying Japanese right away, and though I had plans to take Japanese too as soon as I got the chance, he once told me never to take it because it was so challenging!

During one of the early festivities on campus, though it may have been after classes had started, there was a fleeting experience that burned a lasting image in my mind. I was walking through a crowd on the fields and walkways outside the upper entrance of the LC, tons of people hanging out and having a good time. Maybe there were some crafts, maybe there was some food being served. It was a beautiful, warm, sunny day. Anyhow, and this image may have been idealized by my emotional reaction, but I recall seeing a beautiful girl in the grass, barefoot, with flowing blonde hair. It sparked in me a visceral connection to everything I loved about the idealism of the love and peace hippie generation, and though I didn't make any kind of specific connection to the girl at the time, I took it as a symbol of how beautiful and amazing this world was that I was just entering into! The possibilities were endless!

During those early days, I also met another person that would have a hand in shaping my experience of college life. I believe I first met Paul on the bench outside our advisor's office, waiting for our very first individual meetings with him. Paul was clearly much higher up on the social ladder than I, but we shared an interest in physics and classic rock music, as well as a passion for playing the guitar, so I like to think we were able to have a pretty meaningful acquaintanceship. In addition to my intense fandom of the band he later played in on and around campus, by his connection I was introduced to a lot of scenes that I never would have experienced otherwise. Not to say that all of those scenes were necessarily scenes that I wanted to be a part of, but even so, I'm grateful for getting to see all different sides of life, even if just for comparison.

One of the major developments of that first week of living on campus was the switch from rooming in a double to rooming in a single. My roommate Brent became friends with another guy a few doors down, who also came from California, and who lived in a single. Turns out this other guy was having doubts about attending Bucknell, and before the week was out, he arranged to withdraw and transfer to UCLA. Lucky for me, Brent was the first person to act on the vacancy. He moved into the single down the hall, leaving me in my room all to myself! Some people warned that the administration would find someone else to squeeze into my room in Brent's place, but no such thing ever happened. Besides, that room was pretty cramped for two people, anyway. But it was just right for one. The extra special bonus was that, since it was outfitted as a double, I got twice the furniture! So I had an extra set of shelves, twice the closet space, one desk for school work and one desk for my computer, and a double bed! It was fantastic! Truly a dream come true! I lofted both the beds, so as not to overcrowd the space in the room, and put my computer desk in the cave underneath. It was amazing! Shangri-La!!

12 February, 2008

The Artful Dodger

Art is a form of creative expression. Art is the process by which an artist externalizes his/her vision, so that he/she may present it to others. It is an artist's job to find a method by which he/she can communicate these visions. A writer forms ideas into words, so that others may read those words and grasp the original ideas. A painter finds ways to manipulate images, shapes, and colors, to represent feelings and inspire emotions. A photographer finds reflections of meaning in naturally existing subjects. A musician manipulates musical tones to affect listeners emotionally. In all forms of art, there is an idea, an expression, and a reaction. Each of these is important.

Personally, I find that I do not lack ideas. But the part of art that I constantly struggle with is expression. Every form of expression I've tried has been insufficient to convey the ideas I want to convey. It's not that these forms are incapable, but that I am incapable of manipulating them in the necessary ways. But what is an artist who cannot create art?

I am a very ordered perfectionist. When thoughts get tangled, I become very distressed, and it's hard for me to tie them back together. Writing is too one-dimensional. You start in one place, and you read until you get to another place. You cannot be in two places at one time, and it takes time to sufficiently enter a place so that you have absorbed all of the necessary details. Creating an image, a picture, helps to alleviate this problem. They say a picture is worth a thousand words - and it's a lot faster to register than a thousand words would be. I think I would have a much easier time forming my ideas if I could draw them out into a visible form. Instead of spending paragraphs describing the appearance of people or places, it would be so much easier to just draw them, so that I can take a single look. I can already see them in my head, so there would be nothing more effective. But the problem is, I can't draw for shit. I can only draw very simple shapes; I don't know how to put lines together to form complex arrangements. If I see something in my mind, I have no way of showing it.

I think the web system of HTML is very fascinating. The idea of things linking together in any kind of way, like a system of cross-references, allows for a very non-linear presentation of information. When I start working out ideas for, say, a story, I tend to put the pieces together in chunks, here and there. And over time, I'll modify those chunks with new ideas. But keeping track of what and where all those chunks are (and go) is daunting, and it discourages me. I think that designating certain places for certain types of information, and then creating visual menus linking to those places in a way that makes sense to how the ideas are organized in the overall plan, could be a vast improvement on the method I have now - which is to just use multiple text documents designating different topics or sections of the story.

In other words, what I'm trying to say is, I have this idea for creating a story that, instead of being a linear cover-to-cover experience, is actually a more visual web-discovery kind of experience. Imagine a fan site based off of a book or movie, where the main page is, say, a map of the land where the story takes place. Then, on the map, there are links to various sections of that land where things happen, like cities, for example. And there are character bios that you can click on with images and descriptions of the characters in the story. Now, imagine that instead of being a supplement to the story, that web-based experience was the actual story itself. You wouldn't necessarily have to read it in a certain order. Granted, the main narrative of the story would still have to be read a certain way for it to make sense, but not all the parts necessarily have to be experienced in the same order. If you're curious what happens here or there, or with this or that character, then check it out! This probably wouldn't work with a traditional narrative, but I'm thinking of a radical new kind of narrative-based experience. It's based off of a fictional world that exists outside of the course of the main narrative. Imagine a Lord of the Rings website with a map of Middle Earth, and you can click on Rivendell and read about what the place is like, its history, character bio for Elrond, and also click a link to parts of the book that recount events that occur in Rivendell.

I think this could possibly be a revolutionary new way to experience entertainment. Not to say that this sort of thing has never been done before, but it doesn't seem like the kind of thing that's widely considered as an option when a person sits down and says, I have this cool idea in my head for a story, and I want to tell people about it. I mean, they could put up a website, but it's still bound to not be quite as immersive or as extensive as what I'm imagining in my head.

So is what I'm imagining actually possible to the extent that I'm imagining it? I dunno. The point here is not for me to revolutionize entertainment and give people an entirely new form of experience. If that happens, that's great, but remember, the goal is simply for me to formulate my ideas in a way that feels much more natural to me, and easier, than current conventional methods. I have these ideas in my head, and it's like they exist in different psycho-spacial areas because of where they fit into the grand 3-D (or more) framework of my overall world plan that serves as the backdrop for the story I want to tell. It's like, I think that maybe utilizing the power of hyperlink technology, I can recreate an experience that's one step closer to those neuronets of brainwaves, which means being one step closer to the pure idea that serves as the basis of art, and sacrificing less in the process of expression.

It sounds great, but there's still a lot of expression that needs to be accomplished. There are still lots of words to be written, and, if possible, a lot of pictures that could be drawn. I can work on the words, but I'm having trouble working up any kind of confidence in my non-ability to render visual ideas into visual images.

The worst part is that I can't decide if my inability to work within pre-defined parameters, and my great desire to revolutionize the world, is something deliberate that will someday lead to great innovation, or if it's just another symptom of my failure as a human being.

11 February, 2008

Bedside Manners (or Raging River of Thought)

I don't know if it qualifies as insomnia, but I often have trouble getting to sleep. This is one of the main factors contributing to my desire to increase the length of a day by a few hours - believing that staying up longer will make it easier to finally fall asleep when the time comes, without sacrificing sleeping hours. (The other major factor is my hatred of being forced to wake up prematurely). Alternatively, I suspect that if I did more throughout the day - particularly more physical activities - I might be tired enough by the end of the day that I'd be able to fall asleep easier. Well, however it may by alleviated, the problem as I see it is related to the raging beast that is my mind. When I shut off the lights and climb into bed, the distractions of the physical world melt away, and my mind is free to explore. It runs off into patterns of thought that keep me awake, rather than allowing me to drift off to sleep. And the longer I lay in bed trying unsuccessfully to fall asleep, the more frustrating it gets. Usually, it eventually happens, but every once in awhile, my mind just refuses to shut off. And what's particularly annoying, is when I get that feeling that I need to document what I'm thinking about - like when I get a great idea about something, and I want to write it down before I forget it. It's annoying because on the one hand, I want to stay in bed and try to fall asleep, but on the other hand, I feel this urge to get up and stay up and pursue the idea.

On a related note, I also do a lot of thinking in the shower. In this case, I know that I'll be out and back in my room within the hour, so if I have any great ideas, I can just remember to write them down after I get out - unlike when I'm lying in bed, and I'm afraid I'll fall asleep and then I won't remember at all what I was thinking about before I drifted off. Still, for some things, I put a lot of importance on the exact wording of things, and oftentimes, if I don't capture that precise wording, the idea won't have nearly the impressive appeal to me as it originally had. This is a problem when I'm thinking about a topic of discussion, and I find a great way to articulate my stance. I want to preserve those words I used to frame it that way, but I can't very well write something down while I'm in the shower, and it just wouldn't be feasible to hop out of the shower everytime I think of something new. Sometimes I go to painstaking efforts to memorize exact phrasings of things while I'm in the shower, so that I can write them down after I get out. This is actually a great way to exercise my memory skills (something I've always prided myself on), but it is a lot of effort (usually more than I'm willing to expend on most issues), and one potential trouble is that if I take the time to memorize the first couple of sentences, it might actually stunt my thought process in terms of coming up with the next few sentences. So then I come up against a pretty interesting conundrum. Do I focus on memorizing what I have, making sure not to lose it, or do I let myself follow the thought through, knowing that I might very well engage myself in an enlightening inner monologue that I'll never be able to duplicate?

Well, if it hasn't sunk in yet, I was lying in bed trying to get to sleep, and I started thinking about these very issues, and I felt it would make a good entry for my blog. At first I juggled the value of getting up and going with it against that of staying in bed and hoping I could remember enough in the morning. Guess which side I ultimately allied with? I think those first two paragraphs were pretty good though, so right now I'm gonna say it was worth it. Although, in addition to talking about my sometimes frustrating thought patterns, I thought I'd also mention a few things about my bedside manners.

One thing that I think might be a question on certain people's minds (as it's been asked of me at least once), is what the hell do I do with my hair when I go to sleep? Because I've heard at least one tale of a person with long hair who woke up choking with it wrapped around the throat, and subsequently ran off and got the hair cut. Although that person must not have valued their long hair much to get it cut off so easily, it does bring up a concern. I've only had significantly long hair for a few years (let's say, long enough that it could choke me), but in college, I ended up getting into the habit of pulling my hair up to the top of my head, after laying down in bed, and tying it off with a hair tie thingy, then letting the hair hang over the top of the bed. That way, I can toss and turn back and forth with minimal tangling and whatnot, and I don't have to constantly be concerned about where my hair is, since it pretty much stays in one place. I don't know what other people do with their long hair, if they braid it or what, but this system has worked fine for me so far. I actually wish I knew more about hair stuff, because girls can do so many cool things that guys just never learn. It's like a secret art.

I like a soft, but pretty flat pillow. Those super-fluffy pillows can be really luxurious, and nice to lay on, but I have a hard time sleeping on one, because the pillow fluffs up all around your head, and that makes it hard to breathe clearly. Speaking of pillows, I happen to have a rather large mattress, and while I love to spread my body out, my pillow stays on one half (actually more like 3/4's), with the remaining quarter (the side of the bed away from the wall) hosting a stack of two really fluffy pillows, creating a kind of pillow wall that obstructs my immediate view of the area just beside the bed and the rest of the room, while I'm lying down in place. Why is this? One simple reason. After I had my sleep paralysis episode a year or so ago, I became very paranoid about an evil presence kneeling down beside my bed to watch me (which is exactly what happened during the episode), so just like you throw the covers over your head to protect yourself from the monsters in the dark of your room, I put those pillows there so I wouldn't have to be staring out into the darkness beside the bed, wondering if something might be there. Wow, that sounds so childish, but damn, if you've experienced what I've experienced, you'd understand.

As for covers, I have a nice stack of a bunch of comforters, and I use a varying percentage of that stack throughout the year. In the coldest winter months (like right now), I use most of them, to keep warm, which I guess is about 4-6 layers (I had to take off two of the layers to block off the window...). In the summer, I only use 1 layer, and it's always the same layer on bottom, which just happens to be particularly comfortable for me. Speaking of being comfortable, there's nothing more comfortable than sleeping nude, and the only time I don't is when I can't. But even now, in the cold winter, there's nothing a layer of clothing can do that an extra blanket can't do - and the blanket doesn't restrict you as much, or create as much static friction. Even in college, during the times when I shared a room, I devised a system where I'd use the basket, that I tied to my bedside to sit my alarm clock on, as a place to keep my shorts after taking them off under the cover of the blankets, so that I could slip them on again in the morning before climbing out of bed. I don't remember exactly when or exactly why I started sleeping nude, but I do remember a period of adjusting myself to it. I'm sure I didn't have any specific ideas about nudism back then, but I must have recognized the comfort and simple joy of it at the time. And that's something that I haven't forgotten.

Sometimes, during the summer, it's so hot that even using the one blanket is too much. But for the longest time I've had an inborn aversion to sleeping without any covers. Maybe it's a natural thing - defense mechanism or something - but I've always felt vulnerable without being covered - particularly the feet. Whether it's monsters or the cold or just the space, I feel uneasy climbing into bed without having anything to cover me. On the other hand, when it's just too hot to be covered, I've learned to make compromises - mostly by covering myself as little as possible, balancing the feeling of being exposed with the feeling of being overheated. I like the image that I get in a lot of anime/manga series of Japanese people sleeping with a wide but rather short (perhaps folded over) blanket covering only their midsection. I wonder what the story behind that is, if that's a Japanese custom, if there's some reasoning behind it or something. I've tried it, and it's fun just because of the association I make with characters from anime, but it only works when I'm really hot, and even then I have to gradually unfold the blanket to cover myself up more as I cool down.

Boy, isn't this interesting? I think that's all of what I thought I'd mention. I did promise something about bedside manners, didn't I? Luckily, I haven't really been forced to share a bed with anyone I didn't want to, as a result of crowding or whatever (there was that one time I opted to sleep on the floor rather than share a bed with another guy, if you remember). I have had a little experience sharing a bed with a girl, however. There are all kinds of emotional benefits, waking up next to a girl you love and all, and the physical closeness, which is all pretty obvious. There have been times when I've been pushed out of bed though - inadvertently, but no less frustrating. Ah, I just remembered something else - positions! No, not sexual positions! I mean sleeping positions.

I've always been a side sleeper. I lay on my back to relax, but never to fall asleep. I don't specifically have a favored side, as far as I know, except that lately I've been falling asleep on a particular side - but I suspect that has to do with facing away from the light leaking in through the window. As far as sleeping on my stomach, it's the oddest thing. I had a friend/roommate in college that always slept on his stomach. And it kind of scares me, because there are certain connections I do not want to have with this person - and anything related to sleeping is one of them - but I've never slept on my stomach before, yet, after having lived with him for awhile, I started doing it. I honestly can't explain it. And it's a habit that I still haven't been able to completely shake off. I also have this particular pattern I place my arms in that usually gets me the most comfortable, and it's something that I also happened upon during college. It's like a criss-cross, where I'll have one arm directed upward, over the head of the bed, and the other directed outward, away from my face - but with the arms crossed. I dunno, this is weird stuff, and I'm suddenly starting to wonder if it's even all that interesting, and most importantly, if it was really worth getting out of bed for. Maybe now I'll be tired enough to fall asleep. Still won't make me feel any better when it's time to get up though...

10 February, 2008

Ascension, and Seven Sins

I've long been intrigued by the term 'ascension', and the ideas it conjures. To me, it's sort of like a more appealing version of 'enlightenment'. In fact, ascension is the main theme (and current title) of one of the two 'major' stories I'm working on trying to write (which I believe I've mentioned before). Maybe the idea's not entirely original, but I have a personal attachment to it, so I'm not concerned. My story is structurally similar to The Divine Comedy by Dante Alighieri, but the major difference is that while Dante was merely a visitor, the character in my story is an 'inmate' - he's not just taking a tour, so he's actually quite invested in his journey.

It's not like I've made any progress on the story in the past few months, but it *has* been coming up in my thought stream the past few days. One part in particular. While exploring hell, the main character is brought before a trial of the commanding demons of the abyss. These are the most powerful of the fallen angels, who once served under God, but they have since been transformed by their hatred in a way that reflects the nature of their individual crimes against God. Specifically, there are seven of these demons, who each originally defined one of the seven deadly sins. The trick for me is making the original sin seem like something noble (because admittedly, the aim of my story is to portray God as the villain), and yet, make their present form a believable, if extreme, extension of that frame of mind. I have no intention of making the devil look like a good guy. I mean, he's still badass and everything, but he's evil for all the right reasons. It's like, if you throw an innocent person in jail for life, and they spend their entire life harboring a grudge which grows inside them like a cancer, ultimately turning them into an evil monster seemingly without conscience. But he's really just acting out his frustration against fate and the whims of the creator, whom he secretly draws plans against. Well, that's totally the undercurrent of my story.

Anyhow, I've been thinking about those fallen angels, and what they'd be like, based off of the ideas of the seven deadly sins. There's something endlessly fascinating about the seven deadly sins. I like it when things are organized into a nice pattern, and seven is one of my favorite numbers, but I'm sure a large part of the appeal comes from the fact that these are vices, and they have that "bad boy" image. I mean, I've never been particularly interested in the seven holy virtues! So anyway, you see the theme of the seven sins come up a lot, but again, that doesn't concern me. I have yet to find the perfect representation of them, and I feel like I might be able to draw that out of my own head. I recently picked up a straight-to-video movie (called Fallen Angels), that told a story about seven sin-related demons, but regretfully, after getting so excited about it, it ended up coming up short of what I was hoping for.

Of the ideas I have so far, I know the leader of the group will be Pride, as expected. And tied in with vanity, he's the only demon who's able to maintain a relatively beautiful form. Granted, I use the term 'beautiful' in a very relative sense. He's still demonic in appearance, but whereas the other demons are actually disgusting, Pride has something of a more statuesque appearance. In addition to their form, each of these fallen angels has a favorite punishment related to their sin, as well as a backstory about how they initially committed their sin and were expelled from God's kingdom. I'm not about to explain everything I have so far right here; I just want to give you a general idea of what's on the table.

In addition to Pride, Gluttony is a rather easy form to figure out. He's hideously bloated, with many mouths, particularly a huge one on his bulbous belly. And his favorite punishment is, unsurprisingly, eating his victims. Some of them are pretty straightforward - giant phallus and tentacles on Lust, who likes to rape his victims; large muscles and short temper on Wrath, who has a habit of going berserk; etc. - while others are a little harder to crack (Envy?). But either way, what sells these characters is their histories - in a sense, their humanity. Trying to create these characters and fit them into a timeline, keeping them interesting, while maintaining the spirit of the overarching story/goal. I guess that's playing a part in slowing me down.

In addition to the seven fallen angels based on the seven sins, I've thought about adding other demons into the pantheon, based around other concepts that didn't make the seven, like lies, and perhaps things like fear or decay. I also want to use classic names, although then I get concerned about pre-existing mythologies, and matching the wrong name to the wrong personality. But I like the idea of taking the different aspects of the devil, called by different names, and splitting them into distinct personalities. It also parallels the method I used for naming the regions of hell, by taking various names for hell from various belief systems, and using their descriptions to create distinct sections of the entire underworld.

I really think this is an incredibly cool story, and I don't know if that shows through at all in what I've explained here, or anywhere else. It probably sounds really cliche, which is understandable, but I've already said that this is my story, and I want to tell it. Course it's hard to get over the feeling that no matter how cool I think the idea of it is, in the end, it might not be all that amazing a read. But then, there's only one way to find out. Although I like to think things out extensively before committing anything to the page, I feel it would be beneficial to start writing more, as a way of getting those creative juices flowing. Besides, if I don't like something or change my mind, there's always room for revision, right?

09 February, 2008

Grades (or Brains R 4 Zombies)

Well, damn, I was gonna go to bed at a decent time, but then I got a little distracted. I was thinking about how mercilessly ironic it is that, in school, I always got good grades with little effort, where my older brother had some trouble - and yet, now that we've both graduated from college, he's the one with the respectable job and the steady income, and I'm the one holed away from society, living off of my savings. I'll tell you this, grades may have *some* pull in this society, but they sure as hell don't tell you a damn thing about how well a person's gonna do in life. Intelligence is one thing, but there are so many other important factors that the education system (at least the one I went through) doesn't test or gauge - like charisma, work ethic, motivation, innovation, perseverity, etc.

Well, I've always been interested in math, and furthermore, I love organizing things, so I've worked out some basic statistics on the grades I received in college. I had/have plans to integrate them into a future [retrospective] version of the college page on my website (zharth.tenjou.net), but since I'm looking at them, and thinking about them, now, why not pull them out here?

Of course, there's a couple issues to confront when it comes to revealing grades. First of all, grades seem to be this highly secretive thing. And I can understand that. It's nobody's business how well you do in class unless you choose to let it be their business. Well, I don't have any particular problems at this point with letting people know how I performed in the classes I took. I mean, what difference does it make? Anyone who judges me significantly differently just because I got this or that a grade in school is probably not worth my time anyway. And besides, remember that whole truth thing I happen to value highly? Well, talking about this reveals truth, which makes me feel good, and I really can't see any significant benefits to keeping such things a secret.

Now, I have already told you that I've been able to get good grades fairly easily throughout my schooling experiences, so you might think I'm just out to brag about my high scores or something. Well, it may be true that I'd be less willing if I had worse grades (honestly, I dunno), but I can only assure you that my purpose here is merely to explore trends, show another piece of who I am, and give me something to talk about. So keep that in mind, and if ever you start to feel envious about my intellectual capabilities, just remind yourself that you are almost certainly making a much better life for yourself than I am right now. Besides, not all the grades I got in college are what I'd consider 'good'. If it was a line of straight A's, there wouldn't really be much to talk about it, would there?

The key thing I want to talk about is this quick graph I just worked out. There's also a more complete grade sheet which you can look at if you're inclined. Basically, if you wanted to know what grade I got in a class you know I took, or wanted to get an idea of what kind of classes I generally did better/worse in, or if you just want some specific data to make sense of the graph, you can find that info on the grade sheet. You can also see how many credits I took each semester, as well as the names of the instructors for the classes I took.

So take a look at the graph. Time for analysis. As you can see, I was off to a great start, with my GPA consistently increasing through the first three semesters. That trend died in the fourth semester - spring of my sophomore year. Looking at my specific grades, you can see that that may partly be attributed to increasingly difficult physics courses. Still, the drop wasn't too significant...yet.

Then came the Fall of '04 (Semester 5). Everything turned sour at that point. Two major culprits are Quantum and E+M, two classes I struggled with (and Quantum I absolutely downright despised!). But we don't want to make the mistake of assuming that the classes themselves were the only determinant for my performance. We must consider psychological factors as well. Having made my move over the previous summer, while staying on campus to work, only to be completely rejected (if subtly so) by the girl that turned my world upside down, I entered that fall into a deep depression, the darkest period of my life so far. That was when I turned my back on physics, and from then on it was an uphill battle to follow through on the promise I had already made (to myself or the administration or my parents or who, I don't know) to earn that physics degree. And it was a struggle.

As you can see, the following spring semester (Semester 6) was a remarkable rebound, considering the weight of the previous semester. But, as much as I wanted to keep my final GPA above 3.5, the next fall semester (Semester 7) pretty much made that impossible, thanks in large part to Thermo, a class that I despised almost as much as Quantum. I think it's utterly remarkable that my GPA for that term alone was even lower than that of the Fall of '04, and I'm trying to justify it in my mind. I had 4.5 credits in the earlier semester (Semester 5), and 3.5 in this one (Semester 7), which I feel has a likely connection (unfortunately, I don't have the formula on hand - wow, I just did my first math problem in probably two years, trying to figure it out...). On the other hand, that C- in Thermo doesn't help matters. The material wasn't particularly interesting to me, and it's likely I didn't put in as much effort as I maybe could have, because at that point, it wouldn't be surprising if I was starting to get tired of the whole charade.

You can see my final semester was a lot better, though still below average. I only had three credits (I could easily afford to do that), so it was laidback, but it was also my last semester, so I felt like working less than ever. I even quit whatever jobs I had had on campus so I could just take it easy. I would have done much better if I didn't have to take that capstone. On the one hand, it's the one I wanted, and it was fairly interesting. But I had long given up on doing any homework by that point...

(If you're looking at the grade sheet, you might notice that the upper level physics courses I did best in were the ones related to astronomy and relativity. Also of interest is the fact that, in my final semester, I did significantly better in metaphysics than I did in astrophysics - proof that I chose the wrong major? Just may be.)

In hindsight, it's really a sad state of affairs. You could scold me for giving up on physics, but it's not like I decided I didn't want to do physics anymore and just gave it up. I actually couldn't do it anymore, and so I had to say to myself, "this isn't working". Unfortunately, I haven't found anything else that works so far. I am proud of myself for sticking it out, though, as tough as it was. Even if my diploma means absolutely nothing to me now. Dropping (or failing) out of college just isn't my style, and I'm not so sure it would have been something I could have lived with. Still, what the hell do I do now? "But the training that he learned will get him nowhere fast." Aim my sights high, aim my sights low, the problem's still the same - I just can't seem to fire the gun.

08 February, 2008

Journal 011

I got to bed at a decent time last night; I was actually in bed before 7, and the difference showed, as I felt a whole lot better about getting up at 5 than I have been lately, even if I was still not exactly jumping out of bed by that time. Temperatures seem to have gotten colder since that short mild span, not that I've really been outside much. Though I just peeked out the window, and it looks like a light layering of snow fell at some point during the night. From what I can see in the darkness, there's a nice wintry wonderland look to the air, even if the snow is only light, and the roads slick instead of powdered.

I read an article on Cloverfield in Fangoria, and the more I read/hear about the movie, the more I get the impression it's something I gotta see. It's only been out 3 weeks, but I'm surprised it's still showing in the first-run theaters. That goes to show both how jaded I am by the theater business, and how well the movie seems to be doing. At any rate, I've got myself into the mood, now that I know what the movie's gonna be like, and that I have a good feeling it'll be worth the effort, so I'm thinking about catching it soon before that mood fades.

My Dreaded Lord Taskgiver has been dumping some really good manga series on me lately. He persuaded me to read Kurozuka, a 10 volume series about a couple of immortals and their adventures through time. It was really good. He also put me in connection with the Sailor Moon manga series, which I am excited about, since I'm a pretty big fan of the Sailor Moon anime series, considering that it was one of the first series that got me hooked. I've read the first two parts (up through Sailor Moon R), and it's been very good. Some interesting differences in the storyline than what I'm familiar with, but nothing too drastic, as far as I can remember. And then there's a series called Blame!, which I haven't looked at yet, but from the descriptions I'm getting, it sounds interesting.

So I'm running out of space on my hard drives. I finally went through with uninstalling Tomb Raider Anniversary on my C drive, a little while ago. That freed up a whole 4 gigs or more (man, it was a huge game). And my D drive is right about at its max. So I've actually been putting those manga series on my C drive temporarily, until I free up some space on D. To do that, I considered what would be the best way to make some space fast, and I realized I had a few entire anime series sitting on my drive, just waiting to be archived on DVD, after I get around to watching them. So of the three I have in full, I decided I'd watch Negima real quick, so I could move it off. I watched half of it today (13 episodes), and I'm really enjoying it. So many adorable characters. I counted 31 in the class, from the scenes in the opening animation. And it doesn't really feel like a repeat of Love Hina, which is something I was a little afraid of.

Interestingly, the episode of Millenium I watched today had a similar theme to M. Night Shyamalan's The Village - with a gated community of people who feel immune to the evils of society, only to find that the evil exists even within their ranks. Afterward, I happened to catch an episode of Modern Marvels on the History Channel, purely by chance. It was about 90's technology, and the roots of the high-tech digital world we live in today. There was lots of interesting information about the internet, including the launching of Google and Amazon, and stuff on the development of cell phones, digital cameras, and GPS devices. And - my favorite part - they talked about the advent of FPS PC games, and not only mentioned Doom, but the Doom modding community! It was so awesome to hear them talk about that, even if just briefly, on television!!

I had an idea about this RPM Challenge. I thought about, instead of doing the ambient thing, I could actually try to do another album I've been planning for a while - Amusement Fair. For that album, I have a bunch of pre-written poems selected, and what I have to do is just turn them into songs. It would restore the whole song-crafting business that was lacking from my other project idea, and it would be a good excuse to do something I've been meaning to do. But I looked at it today, and I have to say, I've become discouraged. I realize that I really don't have much interest in being a songwriter. I don't really care about writing songs, so much. I just want to play them. So I dunno what's gonna happen. Tomorrow's yet another Open Stage, and I suppose it'll be exactly like the last however many since I've been doing the 'madness' thing. Maybe it's just a passing mood, but I don't have much confidence in being able to reach my dreams right now...