25 March, 2008

Talk Don't Bother Me

Good luck with the title.

I gave my MySpace page a slight rehaul. Nothing major, just trying to slim it down a bit, without getting rid of anything important. I've been kind of lazy updating it lately, particularly since starting this blog. But not forcing myself to explain everything I put up there will make me more willing to keep it up to date. The whole point of that page, since my original reason for having it (i.e., keeping track of My Shady Uncle Thomas) has long expired, is for people who know me to keep up with "what's up" in my world - things I'm interested in and currently spending my time doing. I guess a secondary reason is for people I don't know to get to know me better, but it's not like I'm constantly making new friends over the net or anything. And besides, I doubt even the people I know check up on it all that frequently. And that doesn't bother me, because it's their prerogative, but what does bother me is when people ask me questions like "what's up?" when they could easily figure out the answers for themselves. I do this stuff for a reason, and it has to do with my general distaste for conversation. Think of it this way - you could make conversations with me richer, happier, and more meaningful if you did your homework.

I wrote this randomly a bit earlier today, sort of a rant, about this very topic:

I think the question "what are you thinking?" is an inconsiderate invasion of privacy. If I wanted you to know what I was thinking, I'd just tell you. Ask me "what are you doing?", and there's a good chance I'll rate your intelligence lowly. Whatever happened to observation? I realize conversation is a give and take process, but I can largely do without it, so if you want to converse with me, do your homework. I don't like open-ended questions like "how's x-and-or-y?" Tell me what it is you actually want to know, and if it's something I don't think you could easily figure out yourself, without my help, then I'll be more inclined to divulge that information. I'm not a chit-chatty guy. Conversation is a means to an end. And that end is procuring information, insight, and feedback. If I like you, then after awhile, I might decide that you're worth my time for idle chit-chat. In the meantime, don't waste my time. (/end)

It's not like I'm singling anyone out. I hardly talk to people anyway. But maybe it would be helpful for you to have a better understanding of why that is. Although this is all pretty ridiculous, because honestly, who do I really expect to read this anyway? When I write this stuff, I write it firstly for myself, secondly for the one or two people I can expect will read it, and thirdly for the random people who might be surfing the web and might just happen to get interested in who I am and want to find out more.

Somebody I know, but don't see very often, might say, "tell me what's going on in your life!" Now, I'm too kind to say what I really think, but my instinct is to say, "if you're really interested in that, you could easily figure it out for yourself." I'd be so much more pleased if somebody I hadn't seen in years walked up to me and said, "I read that you're watching Millenium, have you finished the third season yet? Isn't it a great show?" I'd be taken aback at first, because I'd be surprised that anyone would actually care enough about me to find that sort of thing out. Gee, what a wonderful world we live in, where everybody cares so much about everybody else!

Sigh, I guess it's just a matter of me being a loner, not versed or interested in standard social etiquette, hoping to eliminate my loneliness in alternative ways that the majority of civilization, not loners, are not versed or interested in.

I think I'd have a better time normalizing myself if I was drowned in people, so that I didn't have all this time to sit within myself and reinforce all the negative self-image issues I have. But that doesn't change who I am or how I think. It doesn't change my fear and apprehension about approaching people, and it doesn't change my level of anxiety and discomfort when subjected to the presence of others.

The human mind is a terrible place to live.

23 March, 2008

Journal 020

Last night I dreamed I was having a birthday party, which is ironic, since it's my brothers' birthdays that are coming up. And of the two people that showed up (my brother already being at the house), one was a person I never would have expected would come, but was the one person I'd be happiest to see. As it worked out, I, in my way, managed to avoid everyone for most of it - even though it wasn't intentional. I don't recall the details.

Before going to bed, I saw, in the growing light of dawn, that a layer of snow must have fallen during the night. As prophecied. Although, waking up this evening, the snow was already completely melted by the verdant dampness of the coming spring, so I wonder if the snow was merely an illusion. Well, I can't be sure if there'll be another snow or not, but I for one am looking forward to warmer weather.

The second batch of CD's I ordered has just arrived. The Crazy World Of Arthur Brown is awesome - perfect sixties psychedelia. Crusade by John Mayall & The Bluesbreakers - featuring Mick Taylor on guitar - sounds great. I can't believe I wasn't aware, but I Can't Quit You Baby is on that album! That's one of my favorite blues that Led Zeppelin does! And considering that Led Zeppelin evolved from the Yardbirds, from which Eric Clapton migrated into the Bluesbreakers, in which his eventual successor (and predecessor to Mick Taylor) was Peter Green, who formed Fleetwood Mac, whose music was known to have inspired Led Zeppelin (my, the webs we spin) - perhaps this track deserves a note in the Roots of Led Zeppelin project!

The last of the 3 CD's I just got was the Stones' classic live album from 1970 - Get Yer Ya-Ya's Out - also featuring Mick Taylor. I remember 5 years ago, my brother had this album, and he played it once in my presence (at the cabin, I believe), and I remember thinking it was mediocre. Of course, that was compared to the Led Zeppelin and such I was listening to, and the Stones have a slightly different aesthetic - less epic, virtuosic intensity, and more of the raw grittiness of roots music. At any rate, it's a testament to how my taste has evolved over the years that, now, I think the album sounds fantastic.

The finale to Millenium's second season was great, but I was a little concerned at the opening of the third, at how much things had changed. Frank back at the FBI? A brand new co-star in a supporting role so integral that she has usurped Catherine's (who no longer appears in the story, sadly) position in the opening credits? But I like it thus far. As skeptical as I am of pumping new main characters into an established series (and heaven help them if they had decided to axe Frank Black), I really like this Agent Hollis, so that's good. Also, I'm ecstatic, because I've been waiting all this time for the Millenium Group to become the enemy, and I think it finally has, so I'm excited. I hope they don't shy away from that.

The three seasons of this show are indeed unique to one another in their focus. For example, the first season deals with the violent crime aspect, while the second season explores the mythology of the Millenium Group and their prophecies, and I shall see what the third season is like, though I can already tell it's much different than the first two - without losing that "Milleniumistic" charm, of course. Initially, I thought it was Chris Carter's characteristic style of slow reveal (on The X-Files, "I don't even want to show the aliens until the fifth season" - paraphrase, from memory), which is great storytelling. But then I learned that Carter basically gave the show to his writers after the first season, and they're the ones responsible for its change of direction. Oh well, it still works out quite well, in this case.

We dyed Easter eggs last night. It's a fun little activity, I guess. I made some neat eggs: a green watermelon egg; one with a kitten face, inspired by Sasha; one with a really scary face; an orange jack-o-lantern egg; an egg that sort of looks tie-dyed; etc... The two best things about Easter are Cadbury Creme Eggs, and deviled eggs - I can't wait to have some deviled eggs. Oh, and peanut butter eggs (the Reese's kind). There's an awesome commercial (get it before it's gone) where a chocolate bunny kisses a jar of peanut butter to the tune of makeout music. Classic.

And now I have a headache from playing too much online Stratego. It was great fun, though.

Have a happy and moral Easter!

18 March, 2008

Journal 019

I guess it's been long enough since my Christmas haul, because I'm feeling that urge to discover new music again. I'm trying to hold back my spending of money on luxury items, considering that I don't have an income, and that this Burning Man thing looming on the horizon threatens to be an expensive chip in my pocket. But sometimes I just can't hold back.

I just got a few things, including a Muddy Waters anthology, a Freddie King DVD (spicy!), and Steamhammer's third album, Mountains. I was thinking about what I recently said about Steamhammer sort of being one of my underdog favorite bands, and since then every time a Steamhammer song comes on my playlist I've noticed how great it sounds. The atmosphere of it is incredible - the distinct vocals, the guitar tone - it not only stands apart from everything else in its neighborhood, but it has this ethereal quality that appeals to me...and even at the bottom line, it is what I love - guitar-driven blues-based-but-exploratory rock, and yet, as I already mentioned, it manages to stand out from every other band of that kind...

Mountains is hailed as Steamhammer's definitive effort. I don't completely agree, though there's still time for me to change my mind. However, if the second half was as strong as the first half, it would easily be true. The first track contains a mind-blowing guitar solo, and the second and third tracks actually constitute an awesome live blues jam (lasting over 15 minutes all told). The second half of the album is less outstanding, but I have yet to really get to know the songs. Still, the album is ultimately not any better than the band's first two amazing albums. After Mountains, there was some personnel change, then one last album recorded before disbanding (guitarist and new bass player heading off to form Armageddon) - that last album is considered disappointing by the author of the liner notes, and is indeed harder to get a hold of, but it apparently contains only three tracks, hinting at the band's seeming progression from blues to progressive rock, and it's certainly an album I'll have to hear some time in the future. For now, the three albums I have will serve well to place Steamhammer as one of my all-time favorite underdog bands - meaning that they are not only not as popular as the legends, but also have less material. Let's see, Cream and the Jimi Hendrix Experience, both legends, each had only a small handful of albums, and I think, despite those two bands' clout, I like Steamhammer more. Not that they're better in /all/ categories - I mean Hendrix and Clapton are both amazingly talented guitarists - but that they're closer to my heart. In the end, Steamhammer is more /me/ than either Cream or the Jimi Hendrix Experience have ever managed to be.

The Committee is a great film, although it's more of a surreal audiovisual exploration ("I may have cut my own head off and sewed it back on...") of the philosophical implications of certain aspects of society and their relation to individual psychology ("What is the difference between your relation to yourself in the future, and your relation to other people now?")...than an entertainment flick, and it does get pretty complicated and hard to iron out in places, but I love it. "In the womb, the individual thinks that he is the universe. When he is born, the first thing he understands is everywhere else - that he is /in/ the universe, that it was made for him. Then, he discovers other people." I'm only paraphrasing. And the scene where The Crazy World of Arthur Brown performs a song to an upscale party, complete with the torch-headdress...oh, it's great stuff. And Pink Floyd does the ambient soundtrack. Anyway, I watched that movie again recently, and it refueled my desire to hear more Crazy World of Arthur Brown - the last time I ordered the album, it never showed up. I'm hoping for better results this time...

I could easily spend hundreds of dollars or even pick out hundreds of titles of CD's to buy, but I have a lot more discretion than a certain someone else, whether for better or worse. In any case, discovering music is one of the excitements of life.

Switching gears, today's episode of Millenium (Somehow, Satan Got Behind Me) was rather humorous, in a morbidly funny sort of way. The whole episode was about four devils disguised as old men, sitting around a table at a donut shop in the wee hours of the morning, telling stories about their preferred methods of torturing mortals. It was great. Frank Black had only a tiny role in this particular episode, as he perchance encountered each of the four devils during the course of each of their stories, concerning them since Black, unlike most mortals, has the ability to see evil for what it truly is - in other words, he could tell they were devils and not old men. There was also a hilarious scene where a tormented censor board official broke onto the set of what was clearly the shooting of an episode of the X-Files, complete with Mulder and Scully stand-ins, about to do an alien autopsy before a couple of aliens with machine guns interrupt. I love the seriousness of this series, but it's nice to have an episode like this every once in awhile to make light of it all.

Speaking of episodes scarce on Frank Black, a couple days ago there was an episode where the character of Frank Black was completely absent! It was focused on Frank's wife Catherine and her interaction with Frank's now-and-then Millenium Group partner Lara Means. Considering not only the importance of Frank Black's character to the series, and how good a character Frank Black is (thanks in no small part to Lance Henriksen's portrayal), it's telling that this episode was so good even without him. I'm getting towards the end of the second season, and I suspect things are gonna heat up quick. The time is near.

Fantasy >>> Reality

Do I really want to talk about how I received instructions for enjoying Absinthe ("The Green Fairy") from the reporter(?) who covered the Open Stage last weekend? Do I really want to talk about how Stickman's bringing me in to record a track for the Coffee Den tribute album he's engineering? Do I really want to talk about how I received an offer to play lead guitar in a local band, but I'm too scared and lacking in confidence to even respond? Do I really want to talk about how much trouble I'm having trying to become a normal, to the point that I'm already prepared to give up? Do I really want to talk about how my eye is temporarily screwed up and it's made me pretty miserable the past few days? Do I really want to talk about how much it sucks only being able to see clearly for half a day, since my glasses are broken and there's no hope of getting new ones?

No, I'd rather talk about fantasy. About how, after a full year of procrastinating, with the advent of Holy Week (coincidentally, though), I've finally completed Purgatory and have entered Paradise, and am well on my way to the end of the journey, long as I keep it up for a little while longer. I really hope Milton's book is an easier read, though I suspect it will be. The worst part about Dante's composition is the history lessons. Not just a lesson, the book is a freaking course! I've already railed about that, though, so enough. Beatrice's presence is pretty inspiring.

I had a lab partner named Beatrice in physics class in high school once. I remember there were a lot of girls in that class, which was kind of nice. But now we're talking about reality again. And the reality is, my Beatrice will meet me in hell before she ever escorts me into heaven - and that's never gonna happen. I guess that's just a reflection of my soul...

13 March, 2008

A Window Story

Disclaimer: The events depicted in this story are fictitious. Any similarity to any persons, living or dead, is merely coincidental.

Spring Has Come Again

There once was a young man who lived in a tower. He liked to spend his days sitting at the window, watching all the interesting people shuffling on by below him, engaged in their busy, active lives. The young man was too timid to venture out into that world himself, but he was content to simply sit by and watch, living out his fantasies through imagination, fueled by the images of the people he saw strolling by below.

That is to say, he was content, until one day, when he spied the most beautiful woman in the world returning home by the path that ran within sight of the young man's window - and watchful eye. He was entranced by this sight, and found himself glued to the window day and night, hoping for another glance of this woman. But each time he saw her, it wasn't enough, and he had to see her again, until he found himself wishing, for the first time ever, that he could descend to that world below him, and meet this beautiful woman in person.

Now, this was a very absurd feeling, contrary to what the young man was accustomed to. He denied it at first, not wanting to risk the dangers of leaving the safety of his perch. But regardless, he remained glued to that window, and now, instead of watching all the people flitter by, his gaze was tuned to only one figure, and when she wasn't in view, he was unsatisfied, yet ever vigilant.

Love Doesn't Reign, It Pores

The spring brought heavy rains, and the young man's heart softened. The beautiful woman stopped walking past the young man's window, and as a result he became depressed and began to feel empty. The simple contentment he had once felt being at a distance from the world below, was now gone from him. His sheltered existence provided him no solace. A fire began burning within him - small at first, but ever increasing. Eventually it burned so strongly that the young man could no longer sit idly by.

For the first time, the young man descended those long stairs, and entered the world he had watched for so long. Seeking out the beautiful woman that had entranced him, he found her, and, timid though he was, managed to make her acquaintance. The spring rains erupted into thunder and lightning, and the young man's world was turned upside down by intense emotions he had never experienced before.

The Illusion Of Summer

It was still unclear to the young man, but his passion had blinded him, like the brightest rays of the sun. Where he saw divinity, there was only humanity. Where he saw perfection, there was only mediocrity. Where he saw purity, there was only dogma. But he pursued this bright image of an angel, believing she had descended from even higher than his own perch, not realizing that she had truly come from a bit lower down.

She was no agent of evil, but the devil had planted his seed of darkness, by taking advantage of the woman's beauty, and by corrupting the man's sight. Even now, the coming darkness was shielded from view by the blinding light that the young man thought he saw. It was only a matter of time, however, before the illusion was shattered by reality.

A Hard Fall

The illusion was dispelled, but the devil's seed had bloomed. The young man entered a state of full-blown despair. Everything that had once held meaning became utterly meaningless. The young man retreated back to his lonely tower, and sobbed in the darkness for what was lost, and what he had hoped for, but had never truly gained.

Meanwhile, the princess accompanied the black knight to the grand ball, protected by his shining crest, while the dragon of the deep celebrated his victory over the heart of one vulnerable man.

A Cold, Cold Winter

Years pass, and the young man's heart is still submerged in a thick layer of ice, his world still shrouded in darkness. He doesn't even bother to look out the window any more. These days, his gaze is directed within. Is there any hope for him? Will the spring ever come again?
Breakfast of Champions: A bowl of fruity oatmeal and peanut butter and jelly on a toasted english muffin, with a glass of your choice of juice (or in my case, Gatorade).

Life Improvement Strategy (Bootstrap Method):

>Exercise every day
>Eat less, but not necessarily less often
>Adapt to a diurnal schedule
>Stop being afraid of people
>Stop self-doubt, self-hatred, and self-sabotage (starting with the thought that this whole strategy is lame)
>Go outside in daylight
>Get new glasses

Long-term goals:

>Get a job
>Move out
>Make new friends that share my interests (no offense to the friend(s?) I have now)
>Get a girlfriend

And a big FUCK!!! YOU!!! (cue that guy from Letterman) to everybody who didn't magically help me when I was too pathetic to help myself. If any of this stuff actually works, I'll be a lot better than most people on this planet. That's not egoism, that's just a statement of how hard this sort of thing is for me. And fuck you to all the positive people out there who right now are saying "yeah, that's the plan, you've got it now!" You guys are the worst, because you didn't help me either.

"You have no idea how refreshing it is to hear somebody even more cynical than I am." Actually though, I'm getting pretty tired of my brother's apocalyptic nihilism. I need a more positive influence in my life, after all.

I miss Miss Viv.

12 March, 2008

Journal 018

Kind of getting bored of talking about myself, I guess. Especially when not much of particular excitement is happening. Maybe it's my old feelings pulling me back, but I also feel like not having to explain the "excruciating minutiae, of every, single, daily event". Or rather, not having to lay bare every impulse and activity I engage in. Partly because I just can't be bothered to exert the effort. One of those psych books I read kept stressing the importance of the observing self, but I can't formally evaluate every little thing that goes on in my life and mind.

My glasses finally broke yesterday. The lens can not be placed back in the frame with any tools that are available to me. So I'm kind of screwed. Luckily, I have my contacts, but the more/longer I wear them, the more they irritate me. I also have an older pair of glasses which is in good shape, but the prescription is prehistoric, and it doesn't fit terribly comfortably on my face these days, either. Basically, they increase my ability to see clearly from about 5 inches (without glasses) to about 11 inches (with the old pair). So I still have to sit up with my face practically against the monitor just to work at the computer. It's irritating.

It bugs me that despite having practically no responsibilities for nearly two full years, I still haven't had the chance to live exactly the way I'd like. That is, on a rolling schedule, where I wake up whenever the hell I want to, and with complete isolation, not interacting with another human being, in person, except when absolutely necessary, which I guess would mean every few weeks or so when I'd have to hit the store for stuff (assuming that I didn't bother going to the Open Stage, to avoid people).

I'm pretty good at isolating myself. I desire companionship, but I don't know how to deal with it, so when I get it, I want to get rid of it. Then I hole myself away so that people won't bother me. But then I sit there and ruminate on how lonely I am. But I can't deal with people, so there's no solution. And the more I hide myself away, the harder it gets to come out. The longer I go without needing to hit the store for some little thing, the harder it is to convince myself to get out there. I can't even stand the thought of going outside into the public market place in daylight. There's no way I'm gonna go and get myself a new pair of glasses anytime soon.

I don't want to die, but I wish I could just crawl into a hole somewhere and hide for a few years.

09 March, 2008

Journal 017

Last night was kind of damp, and it was raining off and on towards the morning. I remember lying in bed, thinking to myself it'll snow again before it starts to really get warm - it always does. Well, I wasn't anticipating it so soon, but I woke up today to yet another fresh layer of snowfall. I'm sure this won't be the last snowfall of the season, though I am already anticipating the soothing showers of spring.

It's surprising that Easter is so early this year - right on the tail of the vernal equinox. But it's convenient that it would decide to ride on the heel of the pagan festival of Ostara (or Eostar) - the celebration of said equinox. Still, I'm used to it being sometime in April, so this is a little unusual. And then St. Patrick's Day is like a week before Easter, which is ridiculous. Can't these people spread their holidays out a bit better? In general pagan observance, there are 8 significant celebratory dates spread fairly evenly throughout the year. Well, the only reason I'm complaining is that I have ideas for my music log to honor the various holidays, and *way* too many holy-themed songs to play before Easter.

And March is also a busy month for birthdays in this immediate family, involving both of my brothers' birthdays as well as my mother's birthday. Second only to the late January, early February stretch which holds my birthday, my dad's birthday, and, I believe, also my grandmother and uncle's birthdays. Anyhow, I hate the whole thing about gift-giving. Doing something nice for a person you care about is one thing, but being obligated to purchase some commercial commodity for a specific day, or face the risk of being ridiculed or even victimized, is another thing entirely. I mean, going out and celebrating is nice - you spend time with the people you care about, and that's the most important gift, right? I don't believe in cards either, though. It just seems such a phony way of showing appreciation. Here's a cheap item you're just gonna throw away after looking at, with artwork I didn't draw, and some nice words I didn't write, but it's the thought that counts, right? At any rate, my one brother just spent $400 on CD's - and he's trying to pursue an ascetic lifestyle, and my other brother has enough money to buy anything he could want that I would ever think of buying him, and I don't even know him that well anymore, and the interests he does have I'm clueless about - sports, mainly. So to me, it just seems kind of pointless. And yet, the pressure to perform remains. They both got me something for my birthday, so it'd be tantamount to a slap in the face if I didn't reciprocate.

Today's episode of Millenium (for me, anyway) was good. I think I'm more than halfway through the second season now. I was lamenting the fact that Frank's wife Catherine isn't in it as much now that they've split up after the events of the first season cliffhanger. She really is a good character. Not as good as Frank Black, of course, but still good, just what you would expect from the woman that would marry Frank. Although, their relations have been pretty frustrating, since they seem to be drifting apart for the wrong reasons. The Millenium Group itself is proving to become more interesting as the series continues on. Still lots of mystery there. I was excited about this episode, because for once there was some real tension developing between Frank and the group, and at this point, although for the whole time the group has been portrayed as the good side, I'm wondering if there's maybe something more sinister going on underneath it all than what one might expect. The episode itself was a rather interesting "Into The Wild"-ish story, about a kid who, before entering college, entered instead into the Alaskan wilderness to find a much more fulfilling life. I'm really enjoying this series.

Keeping on that thread, a couple days back I saw the Jose Chung episode of Millenium. If you have no idea what I'm talking about, then you're out of luck. But just like the rather unique and entertaining episode of The X-Files which features Jose Chung, there's a similar episode in Millenium. I love how the titles of these two episodes so perfectly and succinctly describe the basic theme of their respective series. For The X-Files, the Chung episode is titled "From Outer Space", and for Millenium, the episode is titled "Doomsday Defense". And really, that's what those two shows are all about!

Apparently, my dad's nickname among his buddies is/was at one time "Too Much". This is clearly reflected in the license plate he chose for the family van. Now, I don't know what earned him that nickname - although I can get a pretty good idea, judging from what I know of his personality, always taking on challenges and whatnot, and from *pieces* of stories from his younger days that have slipped out here and there - but recently I discovered an entirely different behavior of his that resembles that moniker. And it involves his cooking. Particularly when making sandwiches. They're always so huge, stuffed to the brim with ingredients, on huge buns, covered in grease. Personally, I think they're too masculine; I'd prefer a more feminine sandwich (if that makes any sense). But it's a matter of style, and at least the sandwiches are still usually good. But it's not just sandwiches. I enjoy the quesadillas he makes, but by god, they're like freaking overstuffed oreos or something (I'm sorry, I had a really hard time thinking of a good comparison). It's just that, the quesadillas I'm used to are mostly tortilla, with a nice hint of other ingredients inside, mostly chicken and cheese. But these ones my dad makes are truly beasts of the wild. And there's often huge portions, regardless of what's on the menu. My older brother eats a lot, but I'm on the other end of the spectrum, and I always feel pushed to eat more than I'd prefer, because you know, semiconsciously, I fear that not eating very much would give off the impression that I don't like the food or something, and I instinctively feel like that would be a personal attack against his hospitality. I know it's not a very reasonable reaction, but I can't help fearing that sort of outcome.

I was pretty tired last night, and I've noticed I've been getting to bed kind of late lately, and getting up at the last minute. I'd love to get to bed earlier, and last night I tried to. But god, I was exhausted, lying in bed, and what I really wanted was to just fall asleep, but something kept me up. Some nagging, restless feeling. I guess there's not much to say about it, I just can't get past the fact that when I have to get up, I'm tired enough to sleep for hours, yet when I go to bed, it's often an effort to cross that line into sleep mode. Why do I have to be sleepy when I have to get up, and not when my body needs to rest, and I want to go to bed? If only I could harness that power and apply it at the appropriate times. It's not like I'm never tired, that that energy's not there - it is, it's just not in the right place...

I finally finished reading the Rurouni Kenshin manga over the past few days. I had stopped at the end of the Kyoto Arc, and now I've finally read the (final) Jinchuu Arc. Very good. So that's where the stuff about Kenshin's past comes from - which is easily the best part of the animated series. I liked it a lot. Why does the ending have to be so depressing though? I mean, it's not like it's a particularly depressing ending. Ironically, I'd probably feel better if everybody died at the end - maybe that's why I like those tragedy endings better, because it's easier to say goodbye to a character when they've died and the world is destroyed, than simply walking away, knowing that their lives will go on, but that I won't be there to continue experiencing their pleasures and joys. It makes me feel sad, saying goodbye to those characters and their stories, and it makes me sad in real life, and I re-realize how lonely I am. And I think about my life, and I want to go out and have adventures, and make reality as interesting as fiction is. But it's not that interesting. And it's never that perfect or happy either. Still, even that intense feeling of nostalgia - whether it's for experiences you've had or only imagined - and that bittersweet, painful feeling of longing... I wouldn't give that up for anything. That feeling of being alive, and that desire to strive for more, to make an effort to try and relocate happiness, however futile the search may be. I just can't understand how anyone could treat life so lightly. But we don't all have the same experience of it, I fear.

I myself have questioned the merit of eliminating distractions. As much as I enjoy losing myself in fantasy lives, it keeps me away from my own, real life. I wonder if, I had nothing to do, at all, except lie in bed or strum the guitar or write stories from my own head, then maybe I'd strum the guitar and write stories from my own head more often. As long as I have a choice between doing those things, and doing something easier, with a more direct reciprocation of pleasure and satisfaction, I will almost always choose the easier path. I have this long list of things to do - largely, fantasy worlds to experience, in various forms - and I feel like I won't get anything really important done as long as those things are on the list. So I think about closing the list to new submissions, and burning through each item till it's empty. Then I could focus on what's important. But there are always new things, interesting things. What if I hadn't opened myself up to watching Berserk? There are a lot of things I enjoy, but I question how much impact they really have in my life, but a series like Berserk, I wouldn't want to live a life without having the experience of that series, given the choice. So if I close myself, what could I end up missing? Yet if I leave myself open, what important tasks in my life will I neglect? I have a really hard time balancing between the two, as I've explained. So I'm not sure where to go from here. But in the meantime, I still have that list of things that I intend to burn through.

06 March, 2008

A Little Self-Psychoanalysis

The bottom line is, I'm afraid to enter unfamiliar situations alone. That's why though I want to leave this house and find a place for myself outside in the world, I'm absolutely terrified to do so. What am I so afraid of? I don't have any confidence in my ability to depend on myself. I fear not being able to take care of myself, that I won't remember all the important things I need to do, or that I won't have the knowledge or the ability to do them. I'm afraid I'll end up lost and confused, with noone to turn to. Alone, and vulnerable.

And considering the way I am, these fears are not completely unfounded. Considering that I'm too nervous to call up a doctor and make an appointment, let alone go in for one; considering that I don't like going out and shopping for something because I'm afraid a salesperson will ask me what I'm looking for, and I'll feel uncomfortable interacting with a stranger... And I always feel bad walking out of a store empty-handed, partly because I feel bad not buying anything, and partly because I'm paranoid that they'll think I'm trying to shoplift.

And when it comes to bureaucracy, I'm clueless. I've gotten speeding tickets twice in my life. The first time wasn't too bad, beyond that depressing feeling of being 'punished' by our political 'parents', and that's because I was able to pay the ticket online. But the second time, the officer didn't write down a total charge, and so as far as I could tell, I had to go in and see somebody about it. It wasn't as bad as having to go to court, but even just having to find the building, get there during the day, and talk to the right people to get the matter settled, was a nightmare. It went perfectly smoothly, and I should be able to use that experience to bolster my morale, but instead, I severely dread ever having to do something like that again.

I don't want to have to depend on other people to guide me and show me the way and constantly tell me that I'm safe and everything will be alright, but that's exactly what I feel like I need. I hate this idea because it's so cliche, but I guess it makes some amount of sense - I'm like a child lost in an adult's world. I think back on the first day of the school year, throughout my childhood, especially when moving to a new school building, and that uncertainty about the environment, where things are located, who I'm gonna be surrounded by, what I'm expected to do... By the end of the year, and by the end of your tenure at a specific location, you get familiar with the area, and become comfortable. Think about your senior year of high school versus your freshman year, or your senior year of college versus your freshman year. You gradually come to master your environment, and the uncertainty gives way to comfort.

In that sense, the adult world is still very much unfamiliar to me, and uncomfortable. I can even imagine myself coming to master it, getting used to it, and seeing it as not such a threatening place - and sometimes I use that illusion when I'm forced out there, which may actually give other people the impression that I'm more in control than I really feel. But even so, everytime I'm faced with the reality or even just the thought of actually having to go out there, the uncertainty is right there. So I avoid it. Not going to school was never given to me as an option. I forced myself through it because I didn't even postulate the possibility of anything else. Being a child, and not being in control of my own decisions, there was no choice. But now, it's different. Despite all the pressure on me to get a job and to operate in society, I am in fact an adult now, and I am expected to be in control of my own decisions. Nobody is forcing me to work, and so the possibility of not working, and not being a significant part of society, even if unreasonable, exists, and it's the path of least resistance.

Psychiatrists, at least in the popular image, like to trace present problems back to past traumas. I remember when I was a young child, being separated from my mother for the first times - being dropped off at daycares, and preschool. I remember a feeling of absolute terror and despair. Being separated from everything that represented safety and comfort in my life, and being thrown into an unfamiliar situation with a bunch of strangers. Being lost and confused, feeling alone, and perhaps even abandoned. Although I may have gotten better at dealing with situations where I'm cut off from my lifelines - considering that it's rather hard to get through life without being exposed to those sorts of situations - that feeling of dread has never left me. I should be able to recognize that that daycare is not nearly as venomous as my fears make it out to be, and I can accept that on a logical basis, but deep down, my instinctive reaction is the same. I feel like if I go out into the world alone, something bad is going to happen; I won't be able to cope. My fear blows the entire situation out of proportion, and in the face of this drastic challenge, I turn and hide.

It's not rational.

"Adult child, don't hide, just run - go!"

05 March, 2008

Journal 016

I'm happy to report that I've gotten into the habit of playing DDR semi-daily. It feels good to get a workout, and I'm happy about the thought of getting into better shape. I've gotten to the point where I can start off on Standard, as long as I choose the easier songs, to get warmed up. I have to say, HVAM is every bit as good as it was back in the day, and it really stands out because it gives you a good stream, without a lot of tricks - just a steady, fast-paced workout. And, sweating feels so much better when you don't have clothes on that'll just get soaked and cling to your body. Bouncing around without support can be a little 'interesting', but I haven't found it to be a problem. Although, sometimes it can distract you and become quite a different kind of problem...

Yesterday the weather was relatively mild, which I think I mentioned in the last entry. I was expecting it to be warm, since the temperature was supposedly in the 50's, overnight, and my brother was sort of freaking out about how nice it was, but when I went out to investigate, all I felt was a rather chill breeze. It was nice, compared to the snowy weather we've been having, but not exactly 'comfortable', in my opinion. Which is a shame, because glancing out the blinds on the front door, I was actually getting an excited urge to try something I've never done before. Something very risky, but that I want to do really bad. It's simple, and there really shouldn't be any problem about it, but that's just not the way this society is. All I want to do is take a walk around the block without any clothes on. That's all.

Well, I thought the temperature might be a bit more bearable if I was a little warmed up, so I played DDR for awhile, and when I started getting hot, I felt the mood take me. I wasn't about to do the block thing, since right after thinking that, I saw a car pull into a driveway up the street, but instead, I grabbed my bokken and put on my sandals (since I figured the extra protection would be a good idea for jumping around, as opposed to simply walking around the yard - I wouldn't want to come down hard on a stick or a particularly sharp rock, and ruin all my fun) and I went outside. For once, I ignored whatever insecurities I might have about somebody just happening to be up and glancing out a window to see me, and I started swinging that bokken around, practicing the things I was taught, and imagining myself cutting down invisible enemies left, right, front, and back. It felt great. It was good practice, and it totally boosted my enthusiasm.

If only this sort of thing could be more accepted. I wouldn't have to continue feeling like I have to hide. I went outside again tonight, after tiring myself at DDR. It's colder out tonight, but after getting heated up from a good workout, going outside is one way to cool off quick. And from another perspective, heating up first is a great way to get yourself prepared to go out when the weather's colder. I was too tired to do more bokken practice today, and besides, I wasn't planning on staying out that long, but I wandered around the yard a bit, and enjoyed myself. The ground was damp and a bit muddy, and rather cold. My feet got chilled pretty quick, but instead of running for shelter, I sucked it up, and was able to endure it for quite awhile. Walking through the damp grass and mud actually felt kind of nice, despite my general hatred for dirt of any kind. I went around front, to the porch, and sat down for a brief moment. Then I walked to the front corner of the yard, circled the hydrant, then walked the length of the yard, out on the street past the curb, till I got past the van (parked at the end of the driveway), at which point I re-entered the yard and went toward the back, and around, back inside. Just like I did once before, which I may or may not have mentioned in an entry a while back. I may have left muddy footprints on any part of the pavement I walked on, but I don't really care; it was totally worth it.

Switching gears somewhat, I'm kind of proud of the nude photo I shot today for my project. It was a planned out concept that I think works fairly well. Basically, it's a variation on the three wise monkeys (see no evil, hear no evil, speak no evil), which works as a bold statement about the supposed indecency of exposure, and various ideas about censorship. If you can get past the silliness of the idea, it's actually pretty meaningful, I'd like to think. Honestly, I don't know if anyone reading this blog also follows my Daily Nudes project, but if you don't, yet you're interested in seeing this particular shot, I'll spare you the search and give you the link right here - warning: obviously not safe for work, unless you have a cool job :p - (http://www.flickr.com/photos/zharth/2311426357/). Of course, you'll have to be logged in and have the SafeSearch off to see it. And, as always, it's completely up to you if you want to check it out, or not.

03 March, 2008

Journal 015

Okay, now for the stuff I /meant/ to talk about in my journal entry last night...

I've gotten into the habit of briefly opening the window in the bathroom when I go in to take my shower, after getting out of bed every evening. The reason is so that I can see the landscape, in the light of day, since on my schedule, I very rarely get to see the outside world in daylight. It's great just to be able to actually see the world, instead of just darkness, and in an instant I can tell what the temperature is and what the weather is like for that day. The past week or so it's been pretty snowy, but last night it was unexpectedly mild (on a relative scale, of course). When I looked out the window today, before my shower, all the snow had been completely melted away. God, I can't wait for spring. As much as I love the snow, I want warmer weather already.

Oh, another nice thing about looking out that window, is that, because it's pretty small, you always get the same viewpoint on the world every day, and it's facing west, and by the time I get up, the sun is usually not too far above the horizon (depending on the season, of course), SOOOOO, it's cool to notice how the sun's position on the horizon, and in relation to specific trees and houses in the foreground, changes over the year, moving north in the spring, and south in the fall. That kind of practical astronomical sort of thing fascinates me, which isn't surprising, considering my interest in nature-based pagan spirituality.

Last night I watched a video of a live concert for a Japanese pop group, AKB48, which consists of a bunch of cute Japanese girls, most of which (I believe) are aged in the teens. I'm not gonna bother with an anthropological discussion of modern pop trends in Japan, so if you want some kind of explanation or something, have fun. My friend, who currently lives in Japan, sent me the video, and he's the one who introduced me to the group. Back when we were in college, he introduced me to a similar group, Morning Musume, and we watched a bunch of their videos, and I know I was pretty hooked for a bit. The basic appeal is cute girls dancing around in sexy costumes while singing happy songs. More or less. And although I still prefer the aesthetic of 'white' girls, I've learned over time to appreciate Asian beauty.

The AKB48 video was pretty good. The costumes were impressive. For the first few songs, they had layered outfits, and after each song, they'd instantly peel off the outer layer to reveal a different outfit underneath. It's quite a shocking effect, and it's amazing that they can pull it off; having costumes under costumes, and managing to make them all look fantastic. Then, throughout the show, different sets of girls come in with all kinds of different elaborate costumes. The number with the girls in skeleton dresses was incredibly adorable. I was a little disappointed that they did the song "Skirt, Hirari" in shorts, since one of the major appeals of the song (for me, anyway) is the way they sort of flip their skirt throughout the song. Even without skirts, they were still pretty hot, so I think I can forgive them. I also enjoyed "Seifuku ga Jama wo Suru", which is an amazing song which basically translates to "My School Uniform's Getting In The Way", and involves the girls singing lines like "take off my uniform", "I want to be loved more freely", and such. Personally, it's just more attractive than when some American slut does the same. Different cultural backdrop and whatnot. I'm a sucker for seifuku, anyway.

I guess most fans who get into these Japanese pop groups have a favorite girl (or maybe more than one). I have to admit, ever since the first AKB48 video I watched, there was one girl in particular that stood out from the crowd. Doing some quick research, I find that her name is Kojima Haruna. There aren't a lot of people in my life, the way things are now, and that means there aren't a lot of girls, either. As pathetic as it may sound, I've learned to love two-dimensional animated characters. But unlike some point-of-no-return otaku freaks (and I use that term endearingly), I haven't forsaken my love for three-dimensional girls...yet. Honestly, I'm not too worried about that, but I do like to sympathize with people who get obsessed with fictional characters, because, although there are lines that shouldn't be crossed, there are also certain levels to which we should have no fear of going. In the past, I've argued the merits of having affection for fictional characters, and what bugs me is people who say that there's absolutely no reason to waste emotion on an imaginary person. As far as I'm concerned, the person who says that either has absolutely no imagination, or empathy, or could do with a little less real-world popularity and attention - since he's probably hogging it all, keeping people like us from getting the attention we need.

Well, speaking of pop idols, I was at Wal-Mart last night, and seriously, you can't turn around without finding yourself face-to-face with some kind of Hannah Montana merchandise. It's really getting out of hand. Damn mainstream American pop aesthetic. Give me a cute Japanese chick any day of the week. I've noticed recently that Wal-Mart has been shipping in tasty bakery-style Pepperoni rolls, and it's always a treat having one of those, although sometimes there's less pepperoni than I'd like. I at least looked for a replacement bulb for my reading/heat lamp, but I didn't see the right kind. I probably have to go to some hardware store or something for that, and I don't see that happening any time soon...

Hm, I just remembered that I completely fell behind on my music log last night, and that I still need to catch up. Time has run out, and I'm still not 100% sure of this week's theme. I'm trying to plan ahead for the upcoming holidays. Themes for Easter, and the Vernal Equinox, and eventually Beltane, and all that. Is anybody even keeping up with the ZML? I don't wanna pester people and forcefully remind them to take a look, because that's not the kind of person I am, but I get the feeling that most of the time I'm only doing this for myself. And although I'm more or less okay with that, for the time being, I was hoping that maybe there'd be /some/ kind of discussion about it. I know I took down the comment form, because nobody was using it, but I recently added a link to a discussion on my personal message board, which has been out of use for so long. I figured it was the perfect solution, and I can't believe I didn't think of it before I went to the trouble to program a comment form that ended up being unnecessary.

I know it's a lot to ask people to bear with my specific taste in music, but I've had experience as a DJ, and I'd just like to think that there are people out there that not only respect my services, but are interested /enough/ to at least get involved. I don't mind if somebody thinks a song sucks here or there. And besides, if there's something specific you'd like to hear, I've always been open to suggestions. Granted, I'm still in the captain's seat, but I like to take care of my listeners, when reasonable, and it'd be a good way for our musical tastes to interact, and we may both learn something at the end of the day.

All I'm trying to say is, playing music for people isn't a one way street. But I'll admit, I'm also afraid of the kind of exposure I'd like to have. I think that's a common thread in my life.

Journal 014

Seriously, where did three days go?

Story time!

I learned how to add notes to photos in flickr today. Not that there's much to learn, although it was being buggy in Opera, so I ended up doing it in IE to make sure it would work right. But it's the first time I've ever actually added notes to a photo. Today's nude is a little more mundane than average, I think, but there's a neat little trick to it that wasn't actually inspired by, but perfectly mirrors in hindsight, the gimmick on the cover of Pink Floyd's experimental double album Ummagumma. I wonder how many of the few people that even see the photo will get the connection... I figured it was best to leave it a mystery and let the knowledgeable figure it out for themselves.

I know I already said that I didn't care /what/ people did as a result of seeing my nude photos, as long as it doesn't bother me - and I stand by that - but still, I'd like to hope that in the long run, my work receives more interest from artists, and actual nudists, than perverts. Not that I have a particular problem with the perverts, but it's just not the kind of people I'm looking to have a connection with. Hell, I'd love it if even just a woman got a kick out of my photos, regardless of intentions, but as far as I know (and I could be wrong), women, on average, aren't nearly as interested in seeing men naked as (straight) men are in seeing women naked. So where does that leave me? If you see naked men on the internet, what's your first assumption?

I'm 100% straight, and I'll admit I have homophobic tendencies. Though I'm straight, I'm not narrow-minded; I have no problem with other people who choose different ways to live their lives. What I /do/ have a problem with is largely a matter of image. The superficial argument goes something like this: I have enough trouble meeting girls as it is, I can't afford to let anyone have even the slightest doubt about my orientation. Then again, if you think about how much girls fawn over the gay guy, it seems like it'd be a nice way to weasel their affections, and in this bi-curious modern era, it wouldn't be too much of a stretch to "suddenly" expand your horizons, fulfilling your girlfriends' forbidden dreams, which is secretly what you were trying to do in the first place!

Well, I'm not deceptive enough to try a thing like that. But furthermore, there is a more fundamental problem I have with the idea of guy-on-guy relations. Again, I make it a point not to judge others based on my own beliefs and opinions, but that sort of thing just isn't for me. Sure, I have no problem with the idea of girl-on-girl relations, but before you call me a hypocrite - the important point here is that I love women, and that I don't love men. So as long as the subject of loving is women, I'm happy, regardless of who's giving the love, and if the subject becomes men, then I'm hightailing it out of there.

Now, once upon a time, an interesting question was raised by someone in my presence. If you find yourself sexy, does that make you gay (or bi, I suppose)? My immediate answer to the question was no, of course not, that's something completely different. And that's precisely what I believe. I'll admit it, I have narcissistic tendencies. Some people dread looking at their reflection in the mirror. You know what? I actually enjoy having mirrors sitting around my room, so I can look at myself every time I cross the room and whatnot. Especially when I'm naked. I find myself to be fairly sexy. Does that mean I'm attracted to guys? No way. It's just completely different when it's yourself. When I look in the mirror, oddly, I don't see a guy, I see me.

On the one hand, I feel like this is something that's kind of hard to explain. On the other hand, I suspect that maybe other people understand and perhaps experience it themselves more than I might expect. At any rate, the bottom line is that I can enjoy looking at pictures of myself nude, but I have very little interest in looking at pictures of any other guy nude - that "little" constituting my interest in a purely artistic representation of the male body, or certain nudist pictures where the focus isn't on the body specifically, but on the /idea/ of being nude, which I can sympathize with.

As far as I am concerned with people, which isn't a whole lot, I could do without them mostly. People make me very anxious, and I would live a much more peaceful and relaxed life without them. Granted, they're pretty much essential to living a full life in this day and age, and that anxiety is one of the things I'm trying to work against. But I'm doubtful about just how much I can fix. I have a great family, and at least one of my two brothers I'm pretty close with (even though it gets frustrating sometimes). I have a better friend than I could have ever predicted that I'd have, which is great, because without him, I'd probably be a full-blown shut-in, with no contact with people whatsoever, one of those hikikomori cases you hear about in the news (if you live in Japan, I guess).

So at this stage, although I like the idea of finding people to hang out with who share my interests (especially considering that the friend I mentioned above is currently living out-of-country), I'm pretty confident that the anxiety and effort of meeting and knowing those people wouldn't be worth it, and I have little motivation to add any new people into my life. Still, I'm always looking for a potential soulmate. Even if I sincerely doubt my chances of ever finding someone who could possibly meet my standards, I'm still not about to give up. And even though I don't even meet people, and I don't hang out with people, I'm still open to the idea that some day, some way, there /could/ be a person to fill that space that I'd love to have filled.

I guess it's kind of pathetic. I mean, what are the chances of me finding someone who is both an attractive female, /and/ shares my interests? If we talk about nudism alone, most of the vocal nudist population I've been exposed to is male, and middle-aged. And nudism is only one of the interests I have that is far out of the mainstream. I can't even find a way to live in this mainstream world, I certainly can't have anything to do with mainstream people. But it's hard to find radicals. First of all, they're a minority, so there's less of them. Plus, there're so many different kinds of radicals, it's impossible to find the type you want. You find the wrong type of radical, and yeah, they might be just as anti-mainstream as you are, but they might have wild beliefs and opinions that run drastically counter to your own. And that ain't gonna work. It's like the world is saying, "step into the mold, or fend for yourself." And I couldn't fit into the mold if I wanted to try.

Well, this has been interesting. I almost dread what a certain reader might say in response. We share a lot of the same ideas about things, but our philosophies diverge considerably at some point. I feel like he's trying to push me to adopt his outlook, and it's not going to happen. Then again, I reluctantly find myself trying to force him to see some of the things I see, and that's not going to happen, either. He chooses anger; I'm content to live with sadness. That's the difference between metal and blues, anyway. I don't care if everything sucks, it's still infinity times better than nothing. And just because there's no logic in god, that doesn't mean there isn't any logic in life, or love. Maybe it is all based on gut feelings, in the end. I feel enlightened because I'm not infected with god. Maybe he feels enlightened because he's not infected with life or love, beyond what's forced upon him. Still, even though I have no love lost for god, I wouldn't give up life or love for anything in the world. And that's who I am.

This is who we are.

The time is near.

790 days remaining.