Saturday, July 05, 2008

Luke wrote "Not sure what else you're doing, in terms of media participation (or not) but your writing is becoming increasingly good these days."

The comment pleases me greatly. As for my media participation, this is it. Blogger gives me a spot in the internet vending machine and my selection is free, even if sometimes I snag on the tip of the corkscrewing dispenser. A good kick to the internets usually jars me loose.

I do have a small idea that would be a fun, low pressure way to create stories and overcome the ubiquitous loneliness of aligning letters. It's in the pre-alpha stage, which essentially means I can do it anytime I just have to get off my buttocks.

But for now, I'm all yours at no cost to you. Except for a few externalities, like making friends and me dropping by to eat your food.

* * * * *

I spent Independence Day with my family, eating and lounging about. This holiday is bittersweet for me partly due to my being a half-soldier and mostly due to the Americans that are currently dying in battle and the Americans that are being killed by poverty, poor education, and basic health care. One argument I had (with a business major) about providing healthcare despite a person's economic status. It was a friendly discussion, but I did reply hotly when she stated what is essentially the foundation for arguments against such socialized initiatives: "This is a country of individuals."

"No," I said, "This is a country of Americans." Our freedom is not being eroded by institutions such as the police, firefighters, other emergency personnel, providing public education, or the fucking post office. In my America, we don't let each other die without a fight.

Sigh. But I don't delude myself about how much the majority is willing to sacrifice. The downside of the visual medium, of course, is that it shattered our ability to conceptualize ourselves as a unified nation. If we had only the radio and the president went on a radio address and said "Americans are being killed by diseases. As a nation, we can help them" I think people would.

In a visual world, if we don't see it, it's not as real as the problems we can. It is more likely now, almost inevitable, to wonder "Well, what kind of Americans are being killed?"

Now this guy makes me proud to an American.

The feeling I get from watching this is pride, envy, a touch of despair, and hope. Perhaps this is how a parent feels as they let go of their children.

The hope I feel is not for the future, but for the present. We can do this right now. The bit of sadness comes with all truths; it encompasses my experiences and illuminates everything, the good and the bad. I've not drank in a three months or so, which is a long time for me, and despite the chemical shenanigans when it reacts with my medication, the most effective motivation has been the saccharine happiness that it brings, the truth-in-shadows.

As a substitute, it is a poor one. Happiness isn't just a feeling, and it certainly isn't achieved by shutting out other feelings. What alcohol gives me is a pleasant distortion. Picking out shapes in the clouds, singing along to static, dancing to white noise.

This makes me feel happy by taking me away from my environment, giving up my awareness, by going to another place. In doing so, I have often literally lost the ability to communicate, as anyone who has been privy to my drunken ramblings can attest.

I still want to drink. The desire is the same. But right now, I am focusing on my other desires. I guess I just don't want to miss anything.

Thursday, July 03, 2008

I've been thoroughly enjoying the new Sigur Ros and Iron and Wine albums. Lot of hand-clapping in both of 'em. Love that hand-clapping. It's going on the list of my favorite instruments, right up there with banjo and those huge drums they use at the symphony. Part of the huge drum entertainment comes from the prim and proper wormy guy in a tux doing the striking. He looks like he should be calling the police to report sounds like this. I love it.

Aside from music, I've been listening to short stories and poems on the mp3 player. I was hesitant at first. Well, not with the poems; many poems demand to be read aloud and are more fun that way. Short stories seem surlier than poetry, like little dogs that believe they are rottweilers, or small-framed men that have poor balance because they are always drawing themselves up a bit too high.

I began with stories I had already read. When I reluctantly admitted to my dog sleeping nearby that literature is indeed still literature if it is heard and not read, I moved on to some Tolstoy.

I loved it. I do love it. When I was listening to the stories I'd already read, I was more following along and noticing a few new things, the more sonorous phrases.

Tolstoy was a good choice, I think. His short stories often read like fables; the intentions of men are simple and tied to their nature and wisdom comes from unlikely sources. In fact, usually some character is standing smack dab in the middle of the wisdom they seek and just need someone to point it out.

I love it. It's like story time again. I want to clap and go "Yaaaay!" and maybe strike some huge drum until someone calls the police on me.

Also, the short stories from Librivox are read by volunteers. If I listen good and practice hard, maybe I can volunteer to read a story. I was thinking of doing that anyway, for the nephews.

Not that I'm terribly lazy, see, but when I was wee my brothers and sister and I had a little Fisher-Price record player and we had many, many little records that came in the back of story books. We would play the records and follow along with the book. I struggle to remember exactly how much we played with that thing, but I know it was a great deal.

So I imagine I can make the same sort of thing for my nephews. It would be fun to even find a record player for them. In this touch-screen world, I yearn for analog. I love switches and dials and huge buttons with lights inside. Part of the appeal of the record player was that I was unable to skip all around hundreds of albums and thousands of songs. I put it on and I listened through everything. Which was wise then when I didn't know what I liked. But then, what do I like now that I haven't heard yet?

Heh, I also remember a record of Romeo and Juliet, the old film, and I would turn it on the highest RPM's so they sounded like star-struck chipmunks. That was my introduction to Shakespeare. Seems to have worked out pretty well. Maybe I'll try to convince a few people to read a play or two with me and record it, for the nephews. Oh, and it must be incredibly over-acted, to the point of lugubriousness. Children have no time for subtle emotions. They consider it a sign of weakness. Or perhaps a lack of conviction. "If you really want it," they'd say, "Why aren't you hurling yourself to the ground, kicking, screaming, and demanding you get it?"

"Because that doesn't work anymore," I'd say.

"Have you tried it lately? Even if it doesn't work, it's an excellent place to start. Then you just work your way down."

Dang. Smart kids.

Monday, June 30, 2008

I don't much care to link together the smattering of thoughts in my head, but in desiring to do anything but write, I have created a Dilemma in which I must do just so, lest I look back in years and regret. Or, more nightmarish I think, to not recall enough to regret.

This creates for me also, quite unexpectedly, an Opportunity, as the night before this I lay awake and thought of regret. This links last night to this night, and indeed it may seem to me as one continuous night if I shift very carefully, as a car rolling downhill might shift into gear and thus powered, soar. Well, not soar. It's a car.

Being freshly showered, I have yet to put on any clothing, making it difficult to wander off to find some other business to distract me, as none would have me as I stand so lacking in attire.

Only my family is present, that I am aware of, and I must respect that ancient code that dictates parents and children must take great pains not to remind the other of their inevitable sexualities. One of the greater illusions I've encountered, and one that puzzles me. But I shall respect it for now, and not wander to the kitchen for the green-green grapes that I know hide in the refrigerator.

So last night, or this night (depending on how things go), I thought of those people that strive to live without regret. This puzzles me also. It could very well be another Great Illusion, as likely as a life with no scars. Possible, certainly. But what manner of life would that be?

Regrets are the fables of memory, the grim fairy tale that would have saved you that time you became lost in the woods, had you known it then. Can we be so certain that we will never find ourselves again?

The house of my memory is strongest where the regrets are the brick and resolutions the mortar. Should I wander again into that Black Forest, memory shall armor me.

It is only of use, this a-regretful philosophy, to those about to knowingly engage in actions that will likely bring regret. Paradox, certainly, as regret must be empowered as real in order to dismiss it. It is similar to the act of ignoring a person; to properly do so one must pay them the greatest attention. To soldier on under the banner of No Regrets and expect it to act as a shield is puzzling.

To deny regret is one of the temporary delusions we use to up a warped mirror where there might be a window.

I suppose that is all my thoughts on regret at this time, as it is all I have written on the whiteboard I now keep beside my mattress on the floor. Lying awake is a dangerous time, as Notions dart out and taunt me like mice might an over-fed house cat.

Often I ignore them and feign great dignity in my task of trying to sleep. Yet at times I wish I were a bit faster, a bit leaner, that I might catch them somehow and not accept the quilted prison of my weakness.

So I got a whiteboard and a dry-erase marker. A quick flick of the lamp and I can blearily scrawl whatever squirming idea I've snagged by the tail. If, the next day, I can read what I've written, a Borderlander is my reward.

That is what I have named them, the Borderlander Thoughts. In the great divide of our consciousness (if the divide is a Real Thing and not another minor Illusion that merely helps pass the time) there is strange gravity. Thoughts are in transit, from conscious to unconscious, or from Awareness to Unawareness which I have just now decided to call Being. So, we have Awareness which is what we seem to be doing right now, and Being, a time in which we our existence doesn't stop but no matter how much my arm is twisted, I couldn't really say what I was doing.

We hate that, I think. The not knowing. It's almost as if whatever this quality is, it isn't necessary. As any drunk knows, just because you don't remember doesn't mean you weren't walking and talking and perhaps making a fool of yourself.

Life on the Borderlands. Of course, it is a place marked by transition and any thoughts, or notions, or gelatinous glob of feeling and images, cannot be found on the border for long. As they cross one way, to Awareness, perhaps they keep their unique shape, or perhaps they join some greater thought or conceit in our waking life. As they cross the other way, into our Un-awareness (or Being) the thought may toss about, gathering layers like a hailstone in the wind, and thus grow mighty for another attempt across. Or, to lean into the wind of my biology training, the microscopic thought, unspent, will be broken down to its basics and re-absorbed, like sperm that never makes it past the epididymis.

There is more on the whiteboard tonight, some half-thoughts about how I would hold a conversation if I were blind. I don't remember writing that. Wait, yes, now I do. Because I wrote it in the dark.

Funny, my handwriting is slightly more legible when I cannot see.

Looking back, I appear to have resolved my Dilemma and written through this sloth. A bit rambling perhaps, but such is the nature of my mind during a continuous night.

Maybe I will wander over to the kitchen now. In fact, I am sure I will.

Sunday, June 29, 2008