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.


  1. There's actually, I've heard, some kind of cultural/religious legislation that ensures that St. Patrick's Day never comes into conflict with the Easter holidays. I suppose this makes sense, considering how many Irish Catholics there are. Just today's bit of infornography.

    I have to say, it's pretty refreshing living in a country where religion is no big thing and nobody seems to understand the big deal about religions and interference in the US.

    Or perhaps, rather than religion not being a big thing, it's just that the religion is so old and so widespread that it's more of a cultural thing than a religious thing. There are cultural holidays that have religious aspects, like going to the shrine to pray. It's definitely not, from what I've observed, a serious thing -- just a tradition that gives you a chance to go out with your friends and family.

    c.f. Miyake-sensei's family taking us to the shrine... and not knowing how to pray.

    There are also some other niggling points, such as not being able to wear black ties... colors and combinations are still (superstitiously?) important here.

  2. You question the merit of eliminating distractions? Fair enough, but YOU invented it. I don't know why or where it came from but you're the one who always used to go around saying "look at all these distractions. Tsk tsk."

    We cross polinate ideas more often than punk and metal. I wonder which one you are... ;)