sketchface

beginning to worry.

the computer is a fantastic tool in my life:

  • without a calendar in my pocket in the form of a microcomputer (palm pilot, smart phone) i could never effectively live the life i'm trying to live (life goal!)--participant, doer, community builder, fun-lover, socialite. that technology has enabled me for 14 years now!
  • without a keyboard i'd probably write far, far less--i haven't written anything serious on paper in 6 years (my last burningman trip journal). partly because my hands can't keep up with my head in that medium--i can't write 120wpm or even close, and when i try, my scrawl becomes illegible. partly because i am frustrated by the immutability of the handwritten word--editing is heinous. partly because a computer as a focus gives me some of the tunnel vision i need to cultivate to get in the zone to really feel the flow of prose that is the source of both my best [words :: intended meaning] matches (life goal!) and the most fun (other life goal!). that technology has enabled me for even longer.
  • without computers as tools and people who need help making them behave as better tools for them, my lifelong total income would hover around $3000--about half and half a summer job at age 15 and pizza delivery for 3 months at age 25. technology is a valuable career skill. 17 years of enablement there.
  • without social networks, i would have grown up very sheltered and ended up a much different person, and i would be a far worse friend than i am today. or anyway, i would have far fewer friends. i suppose i might treat those few far better, were i not spread so thin. but i like it the way it is. this line item actually wants to be a post of its own, i will remind myself later to do so, for the effect has been so positive since age 15 that i love to bask in its memory.

there are others, of course. i was tired of traditional music media management before the mp3 was invented; i would almost certainly have stopped buying cd's over a decade ago and just be a radio listener with almost no discernable musical taste now. the hobby of computing has scratched a great itch in my brain for a great many years (though that phase in my life is waning). the computer amplifies my intelligence--allowing me to have knowledge at my fingertips that i by all rights shouldn't know via experiential learning--others get that via books, but i keep little in online storage/cache and rely on the internet to fill in the blanks incredibly often. my forgetfulness is not crippling with this prosthetic device!

but here's the worry: computer as entertainment device, boredom alleviator, goof off accessory is overtaking my productive use as primary use. i had one of those flashes of insight that i've been having (or recognizing) more of lately (yay!) about my life: this "tool" is getting harder to use, since i almost compulsively take a break every few minutes to read twitter, or play scrabble. when trying to do "real work" (be that for business or pleasure), the siren song of personal email is frequently too hard to resist.

i guess i have it easy--i check only a handful of sites daily, and most of them don't have enough content to distract me for long. i read my handful of favorite webcomics in no more than 10 minutes on any day--usually just a couple minutes. my livejournal friends page is almost empty these days (i have filtered it down to a level which from which i can fully catch up for missed weeks in an hour or two). twitter can entertain me for around a half-hour per 8 hours of america's-not-sleeping realtime, and is my go-to "waste 15-60 seconds now!" device. but again, even it runs out at some point of constant reloading. scrabble is in theory infinite in its availability, but i do stop finding it fun after some number of games--between 1 and 20. and then i have a refractory period ranging from minutes to a couple of days. so i'm lucky that i don't do reddit, or troll youtube (often, anyway), or have a netflix subscription, or play on the forums anywhere, or even play games, particularly, these days--i wouldn't have to quash many individual habits to get down to an all-business lifestyle. not a lot of different things to cut out. and frankly, the compulsion frequently isn't even that enjoyable. i could probably and should probably try going cold turkey on quitting scrabble for awhile. i stand to regain a fair amount of online productivity.

...or find other distractions. that's what i worry about. that the computer-as-a-productivity-tool era of my life is fundamentally broken. but really i think that i could change, but don't want to. a more insidious addiction.
found it

(no subject)

my god have my emotions been a roller coaster lately. as i'm certain is clear to the 3 remaining readers of this blog and my twitter stream, i've been having a hard time with my ex. feelings of betrayal, bitterness, sadness, needing space and hating when i have it. completely fucking irrational and pretty unhappy some of the time.

last night some of that came to a head and good thing it did. as usual, both parties were unaware of the feelings of the other and a small scene was made (fortunately, via text message) and caused some of the floodgates of communication to come unplugged and i don't even know if there will be positive results regarding the friendship i want so badly, but at least now we're both more aware of the problem. which was a frequent problem in our romantic relationship as well--"oh, i had no idea i wasn't satisfying your needs...for the last 2 years :/"

so i don't know if that's positive or not, yet, but it was definitely necessary and i feel better for having been through it. (ok, i fibbed, i haven't made it through yet--she told me what she thought, that much is true. i did write the long email about how i feel and how i hope things will go but i am sitting on it for the day to make sure it still says what i want it to say at the end of the day. just like i waited til the sober light of dawn to write it in the first place, rather than writing it from a painful, unhappy place last night. PS: thanks to my cat's 6:20am vomit session for having me up at dawn.)

but this post isn't actually about the past. it's about the future. sitting there last night, in search of every kind of distraction, i realized i need to change. not change my desires (to remain good friends with her; to remain open, loving, in touch with my emotions; to continue to be able to express what i think and feel as often as i want to those i care about), but change my actions.

i think the best parallel to my desires is a story my friend Raj told me once while we were stuck in 5mph traffic coming down from the mountain in colorado for several hours. i could talk for hours about Raj; i in fact have a man-crush on his brain, which is amazing (the brain, not the crush). but the story is simple and he is somewhat irrelevant to this post, so i will carry on to the story: it's about his parents, who had an arranged marriage, and in fact had barely met before they married. yet, he says, they have one of the healthiest relationships he knows of. not because they were or are perfect for one another. but because they chose to put effort into loving one another, and that effort has been tireless, but extremely effective. they did not fall in love. they actively made it so. and it works. and it is strong like titanium, their love. and i was and am fascinated by this phenomenon, as one who only falls into most things in his life (and, is generally pleased with how his life works as he surfs the currents of probability. pleased not to be choosing all the time, but going with the flow, and letting things work. because, everything works if you let it!)

so how is that parallel to anything except the curvature of my brain's myriad unexpected wanderings? well, i am deciding to dig myself out of this pit of despair and be happier. i tweeted that i'd decided to stop being sad and a wise friend said that emotions don't work like that and she's right. but what i can choose to do is be healthier--both in the emotions i choose to wallow in (choose joy!) and overall mental health, which i believe leads to more positive feelings. to this end:


  • i need to start going to yoga or doing aikido again (i'm thinking yoga, since it's easier to fit into my already overbooked schedule). healthy body sane mind, as some song buried in my playlist says (it's punk/ska...maybe the impossibles or less than jake? don't know and can't be bothered to figure it out just now)
  • i need to meditate daily, at least on days that i don't have yoga. i only do it for 15 minutes or so but it definitely perks up my day and flushes some toxins out of the ol' brainstream.
  • i need to write daily. catharsis via typewriter, check!
  • i need to reread the 4 agreements. i don't actually love this book, but i was reminded of one of its lessons in particular the other day and i need to really accept and start living it: don't take anything personally. anything anyone else does is about them and their feelings and their opinions. act from your own feelings and then be responsible for the results.
  • might need a lil camping trip, all alone and without technology or intoxicants, to do some deeper meditation and a little mental reset. i've found a likely hole in my schedule next week that i might attack. we'll see how i feel after doing some of the above in the interim!


not sure if you'll see a lot more of me here, or if i'll write in my private journal, or maybe work on a novel or my long-overdue trip journal from the desert. i just read a beautiful piece last night that made me want to write more (this one: http://robinsloan.com/last-beautiful . go read it! it's short and sweet and awesome.) and then i realized that it would be therapeutic. and i need active therapy--because it's none of her fault that i'm still hung up on her and unhappy about it. that's all me. and i have to cope, like a big boy. chase my joy and "live my dreams", as the tiny charm that gogolsbeloved sent me while i was on my first bike tour says. still good advice lo these 4 years later! (and probably 40 years in the future, it still will be good advice.) and it dovetails well with some serendipitous general-purpose advice (not particularly directed at me) just this morning from a friend that i made on that bike tour, on art, and doing it successfully: http://philintheblanks.com/blog/?p=546

so that's where i'm at. where are you, today?
sketchface

i swear i had something to say...

i had one of those thoughts, earlier, the kind that makes me want to pick apart my feelings on a topic in public and request the pleasure of your commentary. and then i failed to act upon this urge immediately and like a dream interrupted by the sounds of a cat getting sick, it evaporated in the instant of distraction, action, and reaction. of course i was just reacting to a text message which would have been there 20 seconds later, but i am not any good at prioritizing my time in the heat of a moment. long-term planning i'm great with the optimization ("so, since context switches cost a lot of time and effort, let's do one thing at a time and start with the best cost-value ratio even if it's not the most important task since it'll be done quickly and the feeling of accomplishment can buoy us onwards through the longer harder stuff and ..."). when already working, a clown could come in and ask me to get face-pied for no other purpose than his amusement and i'd probably say "sure!" i am a yes man in that regard, and i am pleased that my friends abuse it only moderately frequently rather than constantly. for i can be snuggling a pretty girl who made a rule that if i leave her side she leaves my life and still be distracted easily by just about anyone asking just about anything.

attention deficit disorderly much?

so let's see, what is new in my world today? a fair list of things:

1) new roommate transition is beginning--the traditional "sharing of the google docs rent/utility cost spreadsheet" took place this morning, and i'm trying to clear out enough room in the various storage locations for john to move in in a few weeks. the "garage" is a big one, because both him and other-recent-addition mark have tons of tools and it would be nifty to give them a place to store as well as use them that isn't inside the house. for though i love screwing inside, sanding, sawing, varnishing, and many other activities just don't seem completely compatible with health and cleanliness.

2) going with former roommate in a few hours to take his cat to get put down. his cat is around pixel's age, which scares me a little, but P seems to be in good health and is certainly as purry and cuddly and grooming herself and healthily hungry/thirsty...but 12 is a long time in cat years. so i'll just cherish whatever i have left. (since she's immortal, my cat, i know in my heart of hearts i have until forever! but what i know in my heart is often not the truth that i will have to someday address with my brain :/)

3) big weekend! let's see:

  • matt's goodbye-to-portland festival this evening will take us to some iconic locales--the classic-games arcade that serves beer, the food carts, some karaoke at the only place i've really had fun singing (i don't sing in public lightly).
  • the midnight mystery ride, which i will attend and then come almost straight home from, since..
  • ..i'm racing in a triathlon in the morning. i learned long ago that if i don't take the first step, i never get to the hundredth, and race season is no different. so i'm starting early despite having done 0 swimming or running since my last race, at the end of last summer. i'm not worried about drowning, but it may be a bit of a slog. that's ok, that's about the shape i'm in..
  • after the tri, my friends are leading another of my favorite sorts of bike rides--pub crawl! this is the "beer century", which i came dramatically close to succeeding at last time (100oz of beer by bike...i think i hit 92 or something in about 6 hours?). this time i'm just gonna hit a bar or two since i have other things!
  • hangouts with 2 relatively new friends, in separate pieces. movie+consolation snuggles for a recently dumped friend, and drinks and peoplewatching with a brand new friend.
  • sunday sunday sunday! i'm helping a pal hang a picture. i think i'll spend the rest of the day recovering from my weekend...


oh, and, ramp up to barcamp is in its final week. woo! it'll be fun! come play with us! free food and beer and lots of geeking. and not just computergeeking, either!

whew. for a mostly-unemployed dude, i sure don't have a lot of downtime.
all the help i needed

he has a sort of dry wit...

yesterday i had a beer. but for the 7 days preceding that, i had none. after my post about alcoholism i back-burnered thoughts of illness and addiction because i'd kind of made my peace with the situation--i like drinking but don't believe i'm compelled to do it or anything. and suddenly i had a day where i explicitly didn't feel like drinking, so i didn't. and looking ahead to my week, i had no social obligations that would likely make me feel drinky--no happy hours, no meetings at bars, no parties where i wouldn't know many folks, no dates or dancing. so i took the un-plunge and dried up for a week. and it was good.

i definitely had a productive, hangover-free week. i missed the sauce only slightly--usually when hanging out with others who were drinking and offering me a beer (not realizing that i was on the wagon.) i got shit done i'd been meaning to do for months (but didn't actually end up making a sizable dent in my to-do list or anything). i woke up with at least somewhat less struggle every morning.

and at the end of it all, i only really wanted one beer, to go with a great dinner my roomie and i prepared for eachother. i didn't get drunk or even buzzed, i just enjoyed the flavor (yeah, i drank a good beer.)

so i don't feel as dependent as i had; i will still be taking a longer dry spell in the winter time. and it wasn't hard or bad, but i did find that in company of new people, my shy self came out instead of my fluid, fun and funny self. i'm definitely still a social drinker/drunk, and i'm ok with that. i think i might hold off a little on the antisocial drinking (alone), because it doesn't really give me any benefits, though. so hey, that was informative and functional and not at all scientific which is fine because i am neither rigorous nor double-blind.

and hey, we have some homebrew here to drink! american wheat ale is ready, and the coffee porter just got bottled this week (not drinking beer while bottling beer: some kind of crime for which i'm certain i shall later pay =)) and will be ready at the end of the month.

i don't think i came up with any grand revelations during my undrinking binge. i was perhaps more thoughtful since drinking definitely leads to carelessness (in myself, at least), but i wasn't a deeper thinker. i meditated a few times, which was good, but my mind is roaring since the last meditation i had was the wheels-spinning, coasting-through-nature kind during my tour in february. so maybe my mind's a little calmer but i think i need a meditation routine to do much good--drinking or not. (which could be as simple as doing yoga every day, or doing aikido a few times a week. or sitting on my ass for 15 minutes more days than not, calm and empty. that's the kind i did last week and it was good, if not sustaining in effect.)

it seems to me that i ate similarly (certainly less likely to come home and want second dinner at 1am), however, minus all the empty beer-calories, i seem to have merely maintained my weight (a rare happenstance that i measured my weight at the beginning of the week, but convenient since i measured it again now to find it unchanged)--but i also didn't do a whole lot of extra miles on the bike this week and i ate several extra servings of dessert, since i made the best bread pudding, twice! and ate a lot of it both times. and it's like 90% butter sugar and eggs. so maybe that was a confounding factor. i think i'll probably have to wait for a month+ to see a real difference, and maybe not make the richest thing i've ever cooked twice in a 4-day period.

in conclusion, this half-assed experiment showed that not drinking is kinda good for me. it seemed dramatically great the first two days, but then calmed down to just good.
i'll probably be more inclined to skip it in the future, though clearly not in social circumstances, when it is a net gain.

thanks for your support!
sketchface

what matters most in a relationship?

i've long thought it was maybe dedication or devotion, maybe communication or cooperation. and while all of those things are awesome and necessary for me to *enjoy* a relationship (of any kind--from work colleague to lover), i've recently come up against the lowest common denominator in my mind: respect.

what's funny is i didn't accord respect much, er, respect in the past. i mean, i respect humanity and individually almost anyone i have more than one chance interaction with. and aside from occasional verbal blunders wherein i accidentally malign a group (saying "boys want to fix, girls want sympathy" to someone who is transitioning female-to-male being my latest foot-in-mouth snafu--generally i believe this to be true but perhaps indelicately phrased at that moment), i act like it in a fairly non-ambiguous way. are you angry after we interact? that was not my goal. did i screw up? i am truly sorry, it was not my intention. do we disagree? fine, but we can do so without name calling or such intense focus that we can't find something to connect and cooperate on as well, even if it's not politics/green hair/religion/what constitutes good sex. heck, i once upon a time hung out with a dude who sent spam email for a living, and though i totally totally disliked his work (and in fact, my work at the time was largely undoing his work!), once he realized that i wasn't into what he did but also wasn't being a dick about it, we grew to have a rather good relationship based on him teaching me hackeysack and me teaching him basic self-defense. this perhaps hearkens back to one of my life philosophies, stolen from the movie the roadie, "everything works if you let it", but no matter, i respect you enough to not hit you or devolve to ad hominem attacks or anything else uncouth.

certainly i do not always get this respect reflected back at me, for instance when i'm riding my bike legally in the middle of an auto lane since there is not enough room for me+car in said lane (this is legal in texas and oregon--ride "as far to the right as is practical and not hazardous", to paraphrase the legalese), and someone in a car behind me is shouting at me to get off the road and passing me unsafely (say, around a blind corner, with inches to spare, at high speed, while shouting and looking at me instead of watching the road. funny how often that all happens in one go. where i mean funny uh-oh, not funny ha-ha). those people i do scream at, usually something like "you just threatened my life." that kind of thing is about as disrespectful a thing i can think of to experience, so i lose a lot of my zen nature when it happens and feel not in the least bad about being angry and derogatory to the actor, particularly since they never even hear my insults. but that's rare, and certainly i will not threaten them (or their protective metal cage) back--i'm not a guy who whips out my u-lock and starts pounding on windows or anything. so while i do not respect them at that moment, neither do i let me disrespect sink to the same level as theirs and even if there is no positive result, at least i didn't make their day memorably worse.

there's also the case of someone like bill-gates-as-microsoft-ceo or george-bush-as-president, where someone is driving an aspect of my life (acting in my name, be it as leader of my country or leader of my industry) in a way that i feel is so totally wrongheaded i just can't find much common ground. and while i was writing that, i realize i can still summon some respect for those guys--gates made it easy once he turned into a huge philanthropist, and bush, well, i have a great (liberal) friend who was an aide of his while governor of texas, and even she has good things to say about him. not total losses, respectwise--i can find things to respect in their lives. fortunately i never met total scum like charles manson or someone who kills kittens in their spare time, i guess?

so, i feel like a respectful person. and maybe i get more respect back as a result. but when i feel disrespected, more than when i feel unliked or unappreciated...if the person who i'm in conflict with can at least offer some respect for me doing what i feel is right...we can carry on in our lives without having to avoid one another. if not...well, not so much. and that was part of what got between me and shads. i don't think she doesn't respect me. but she did some stuff that i felt was disrespectful and didn't really apologize until i prompted for it. in balance, she's mostly respectful, but wasn't in some important areas that got lost for a little while, and so i had to tone down our relationship from "close friends" to "friends that could build something good, again". we'll see how it goes..

what do you think is most important in a relationship? i realize i got a little heady there, but maybe you have something more like "humor", or "does not have an intolerable odor". tell me!
all the help i needed

it gets better.

so i'm in a rather better mood this week than last. thanks to the trifecta of her forgiving me enough that i think we will remain friends, the passage of time, and the support of my awesome friends. thanks, everyone who reached out to me--it was a lot of tears and a lot of struggle to see the light at the end of the tunnel, but i'm gonna make it, and i've been doing a decent impression of my usual happy-go-lucky self for the past few days.

i even somewhere decided this would be a good week to drink less and that turned into none and i haven't really missed it much for the past couple of days. of course, i picked a week in which the only happy hour is a meeting i accidentally scheduled in an alcohol-free workplace (well, it was intentionally scheduled, but accidentally alcohol-free =)), so the temptation will be small.

one "job of my dreams" didn't pan out this week--i went in for an interview the day before the guy whose job i was applying for decided not to leave after all. can't blame him, it seems like a pretty sweet gig at a very sweet university--enough so that i was considering committing to an 11-mile, minimum 40-minute (timed while really hustling) commute for the rest of my days (yeah, this was the kind of job one settles into for life). and that's for the best--i can definitely afford to make it through the end of pedalpalooza without really being financially worried, and the *other* job of my dreams (more challenging, pays better, still for a good university) is taking some time to get its ducks in a row. but i feel good about that one, not least because the guy creating said job asked for my resume to build it off of. i am very fortunate to be in a place where i can wait around awhile for the right opportunity, and in the meantime, the two huge events i'm co-organizing will finish up and i can go back to *not* having meetings more nights of the week than not.

(on a related note, i hope you'll consider attending barcamp portland 5 on 20-21may, and the world's largest naked bike ride. both are free and fun! if you're not in portland, it is quite likely that both of those events have a local (probably free) equivalent for you: check out http://www.worldnakedbikeride.org and http://barcamp.org for more info.)

there's something to that saying about idle hands, as applied to the mind--staying busy is definitely keeping the keel evener as i heal. so there's that.

have a beautiful day, friends.
sketchface

the hardest thing

what is the hardest thing you've ever done?

for me it was telling dark_knightly that i couldn't live with her. one moment, harder than 5 years of earning my black belt? totally. she asked me to "keep it off the internet" but i don't think she meant here; i think she meant twitter and facebook, where she still lives. here is a ghost town and since i still live in it, i can own it. right? well, i'll wait for more complaints before i react. you and she can think me weak; i think myself opportunistic. sadly, i've never felt as though i owned my own voice to speak freely. sad, yeah? well, i'm not sad about it, but you could choose to be in my stead. or you could choose to give me a hug i so thoroughly need.

jupiterjuniper said this today:

being Misunderstood. no matter how minute the situation--being talked down to by a stranger, being misread by a close friend--i have the capacity for such profound sadness, and without the tools to dig myself out of it. to clarify. to make sense of it, make sense of me.

yeah. i can't dig myself out. i drank a lot, trying. didn't help--dulled the senses though. so there's that?

the older i get, though bold and brazen and opinionated, i have learned to truly honor my meekness, my sensitivity, and calm in general. which is not the same as being a wallflower, or being walked over. it is about quiet, not silence; it is about listening to the space between words. attracted as i am to the opposite, this feels really significant to me. to Go Quietly, Gently.

she speaks to my digital persona!</i>

for some reason, i think of the delicacy of andy warhol.

though my soul is screaming with sadness, and my being shot through with poignance, i can think of nothing more to say. it may have already been said. show it to me?
sketchface

misfires at the ceasefire, crossfire, on fire

submitted for your perusal, some random points:

for what is probably the first time in my life, i picked up a girl at a bar last weekend. granted, we were both part of a stupendously awesome "cease fire" pub crawl put on by the alter egos society, and we were both dressed in ridiculous superhero costumes. so at least we knew we were fishing in a likeminded pool? anyway, we went back to her place where she took me up to her room, flashed me, and passed out hard. she does not remember coming home.

so being the gentleman i am, i turned her over so i could snuggle her clothed bits and passed out as well. the next morning she woke up hungover and dashed off to work. i don't think we'll talk again, since i found out later that she was just trying to swipe me from a perceived rival. but i felt sexy for about 16 hours before i found that out, yay?

o, work. trying to finish up with a consulting client but finding little traction from them or from my motivation. wondering if that motivation will ever turn up, wrinkled after a run through the wash in a pocket, or hidden under that pair of shoes i haven't worn in a year. but now things are picking up--i'll be interviewing next tuesday at reed for a position i think i'd like. it'll be a pay and responsibility cut, but i think i can enjoy it. and i can definitely enjoy a solid 9-5-nothing-more-expected job with great benefits like being back at a college in an environment where people are excited about learning! and i have some other prospects lined up--maybe a gig at ohsu doing heavy cluster stuff, and recruiters are banging down my door for less desirable but immediately available stuff. and then my ridiculous tax return makes money a non-issue for awhile. so i guess the crossfire is between working and not? i'm not really sure. but i am feeling torn, after almost a year of not-really-working. not torn between goofing off more and working, but between giving up on finding something better and taking what's there and building my rainy day fund back up so i can go crazy again and stop working in a few months or years or decades. hmm.

i am not actually currently on fire. i do feel a little burned out, though. on the dating scene, on the volunteering scene, on even my standard goof-offs. i've owed you a trip journal from my desert journey for over a month. i'm not doing my best work at my volunteer obligations. oh well.

here's hoping...tomorrow's a new day. yeah, that must be it.
sketchface

the past versus the future

most days now i feel like all of my "good epic" experiences were in the past. Collapse )

these days, i stay out til 1am playing board games with a couple guys and come home to all the hot half-naked chicks going to bed with fish sticks and decide to type a livejournal post instead of instigating epicness.

and really, i guess i still do epic stuff that will make great stories for my nieces and nephews. but i think, somehow, that the urgency has gone out of my adventures that would leave me feeling honest if i called them epic. instead, they're just reality.

can't really call that a loss or a win. but i miss the old days.