31 October 2011

The upside of spam

Ha, a spam comment to my last post finally prompted me to deliver a long-awaited update. What have I been up to? True to my vow at the beginning of the year, I’ve been working on my career with an eye to some kind of improvement. So far it’s been mostly thinking, and not much action, but hopefully the latter will start happening soon. Sorry to be so vague, but I have to preserve the veneer of anonymity I have here as much as I can. Someday I can look back at all the things that happened on the job in the last few months here and it won’t piss me off as much as it does now. I can’t wait for that moment!

18 April 2011

Ruminations on air and space

I’m in a restless state, and it’s a particular kind of restlessness that I’ve finally been able to identify after years of trying to figure it out: it’s a mood that strikes when I’ve been spending too much time reading things. In particular, I’m talking about reading internet message boards and news sites. I can kill weeks keeping up with my favorite discussion sites, being amused at other people’s humor, touched by other people’s shared emotions, and irritated by their occasional idiocy. But at a certain point it’s just overwhelming to constantly be the recipient of communication—it’s tiring and even depressing. At that point, I get restless, and it’s only recently that I’ve put my finger on exactly why.

To constantly receive, and never create—well, it’s an imbalance and I apparently feel it at a visceral level rather than a conscious one. (I do want to acknowledge right up front the irony that you who are reading this are now slightly behind in your own subconscious striving for that same balance. And I’m the one who’s done that to you—sorry.) It manifests in a particular feeling that my head is too crowded with noise, that there’s an interfering hum of chatter that’s pushing out my own inner voice, and that there’s not enough air and not enough space inside for me to think any of my own thoughts.

You know, the Air and Space Museum in Washington is incompletely named: here I’m talking about mental air and mental space. It’s probably a stupid cliche that ideas need a little room to spread out in, or else they don't make it past the germination stage. Something patly metaphorical comes to mind about giving those young ideas room so they can grow to maturity. Let me really run this into the ground: it’s hard to differentiate ideas in the seedling stage; they all look much the same. With all the clatter of the world around me, it’s getting too loud in here. So it’s high time I stopped screwing around reading other people’s blather and started listening to what I myself might be thinking about.

As usual, in attempting the creative process, I end up thinking about the creative process. This isn’t a new phenomenon by any means. I suppose it’s like the old joke about telling someone not to imagine an elephant. Anyway, I’ve been feeling frustrated about how mercurial creative thinking really is for me. It seems to happen at specific times of day, under circumstances that aren’t easily quantified, and it’s incredibly fragile. To continue ramming my botany metaphor into the ground, it’s more of an African violet or an orchid than a spider plant. And unfortunately, I love routine, and my routine doesn’t allow for a whole lot of opportunity for true creativity. The minutiae of daily life are always first on my mind, and if they aren’t taken care of, they nag me and keep me from freeing myself. Maybe if I had a chef and a personal assistant, I’d be a more creative person—heck, my African violet would probably still be alive, too.

But then I want to be more optimistic about my circumstances. There are a lot more ways to be creative in life than just the obvious methods of writing, or designing, or creating art or music. At least, I hope so, given most people’s need of a paycheck. Few people have the time to break out of the daily grind to really do something wild and new. This is where I do have to admit that there is one thing I had better in childhood than adulthood: the freedom to be unburdened by basic worries about life needs and to be creative on a large scale. Now it’s far more restricted, with more of my time taken up by other demands. A short story, a song, these are rare and precious, and I’m frustrated by that.

And if I’m not really producing something major, why go for small-scale achievement? When I hum a song or appreciate a design or read a novel, I’m being touched by someone across a wide gulf. The people who created those things really achieved something in their creation, to have an impact that reached me at all. That phenomenon never fails to make me feel intensely jealous. Of course, reading a post on a message board or blog is nothing like that in terms of scale. Do those matter, then? But that brings me back to my restlessness, and the reason for it. By typing out these ideas, by spending a little time in my own head just sifting through some thoughts, I can add a little weight to my side of the scale and restore a little bit of balance to things. That helps. And maybe some day I can clear the little things out of my way and really get on to something big.

23 March 2011

Future pico de gallo

I suppose you’re all wondering why I’ve gathered you here today.

10 March 2011

Possessions are causing me suspicion

There is one thing I’ve been putting off in life for quite some time now, and a few recent events have finally spurred me to get cracking. The task? A major review and overhaul of my possessions, specifically all of the stuff I’ve acquired over the last, oh, ten years. The recent events are two in number: first, it’s coming up on the two-year anniversary of when we moved into our current apartment, which means that any moving box that still has stuff in it is fair game for disposal. Second, my favorite office supply store near where I work is going out of business. I know that doesn’t seem terribly relevant, but it fits into the puzzle because the office supply store is where they sell things that help you get organized, like file folders and so on. And also, the store itself was incredibly well organized, in a way that bordered on obsessive. Since I value my own organizational talents, the store and I were a good personality match. And now that they’re going out of business, I figure I’m going to need to pick up the slack.

Back to the moving boxes for a moment. Thanks to all the housing woes of the recent past, many of which have been chronicled here, there’s been a lot of moving in the last several years. It’s true that moving frequently often discourages the piling up of unwanted stuff, because you have a strong motivation to keep your possessions lean and you don’t have time to fill your current space with crap. On the other hand, though, recently I’d been moving often enough that I never wanted to spend the time to really look through boxes of papers and random possessions, especially if they were already packed carefully and easy to just move. So a lot of crap has been following me from house to house, simply because of inertia.

I’ve also been partially stymied by the impulse to try and get rid of things in a constructive way, by selling or giving them away on Craigslist. I had a little success at that before the last move—people will take all kinds of odd things if you offer them for free or cheap on Craigslist. But in the ultimate reckoning, I realized a couple of weeks ago that I had a lot of stuff to get rid of, and listing it all individually on Craigslist was too daunting. In fact, it was keeping me from getting off the ground at all. Then I read an online discussion about cleaning out stuff, and was reminded of Goodwill. Stuff that isn’t trash but that I don’t need or want is exactly the kind of stuff that Goodwill takes. Aha!

For about a week, once I started to commit to the idea of going through things, I was in the planning stage. There are only a couple of storage areas in the house where I originally stashed the stuff we don’t use: the dining room closet and the extra room upstairs. There’s also the three redundant corkscrews in the kitchen, but that was quite easily addressed. Now I’m in the phase where I’m actually gathering the unused stuff, trashing the trash and boxing the Goodwill candidates. I also cleared out a clothes drawer that had shit in it I didn’t even remember; things I hadn’t worn since college, or never. Uh, college is getting to be a long time ago. That led to a lot of gleeful chucking of things into the trash, and now that drawer is only half filled. It’s like my pajamas get to live in a mansion with cathedral ceilings now.

I also visited my doomed office supply store today, and bought some things to help organize some of the crap I do intend to save. Childhood papers and writings from the distant past are scattered across several boxes and locations right now. My plan is to collect them into a single plastic file box, which I can then easily store and move. My messy life will be neatly filed—ah, the irony.

Of course, an important part of the entire process is to report it here, if only to provide motivation to see this through. Embarrassment is a healthy source of stamina. After all, I mentioned here that we sold the old Civic when, last September? Well, the bag containing all the stuff from the glove compartment and the trunk is still sitting in the dining room. Uh, maybe it’s time to get rid of that.

28 February 2011


So I went cross-country skiing for the very first time yesterday. It was my first time on skis in my entire life, as a matter of fact! Let’s just say that gravity had its way with me in cruel fashion. You know, the ground is very far away from you when you’re on skis, and I was demolished by even the slightest downslope. I hope my left knee forgives me for getting fallen on so many goddamn times. Ooof.

Today also marks the very early end to the annual challenge to try and get some cycling in every month of the year. Thanks to this year’s ridiculously snowy winter, I haven’t been on the bike since January freaking 1. Oh well, maybe we’ll have a drier spring than usual and I can make up some miles!

07 February 2011

Al Thornton dunk of the century

There isn’t too much that’s good about the Wizards these days, but this dunk is INSANE. That is all.

31 January 2011

A visual summary of the month

Four more inches, and it will have snowed up to my height so far this winter. We’re supposed to meet that target tomorrow!