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These Days Are Said To Try Men's Souls

Jun. 23rd, 2017 | 05:41 pm
location: Raleigh, NC
mood: Reserved
music: Petshop Boys - It's a Sin

Next Thursday, I buy a house. And all I can really think about is how I need to fortify it and lay in provisions for war.

I'm not joking.

I look at everything going on surrounding Trump and I genuinely fear that war will come. Will we be invaded? Will we launch a strike and be retaliated? Will forces within this country have enough and strike out for justice? I don't know. I just know that as I read about the growing graft and corruption, the growing lack of governmental safeguards enacting, I fear violence is inevitable.

Inevitable and necessary.

I really wish it wasn't necessary. I really do. But I don't think it's a matter of it becoming necessary, I think it's been necessary. I just think most of us are still in denial. There's a moment when a fight starts, where the victim struggles to grasp what's happening. There's a moment where the assailant is the only one who knows what's going on. That's where I think most of the country is. We are either in denial or expecting those whose job it is to manage this, to handle this, to actually step up. And they aren't.

This isn't just about Trump. The volume of police killings is becoming overwhelming. The police ceased to be the good guys in our culture long ago. It started with Rodney King but it's been deteriorating. When I watch a TV show, the police are never the good guys in my mind. When I see the police out in public, I don't feel safer. Quite the opposite. And I'm white. I can only imagine what a non-white person must feel like.

I feel guilty for not sparking the fire myself. I clearly believe there's a need. I'm not sure if its fear or lack of knowhow or if I'm still clinging to the hope that maybe civility will reign in.

My faith in civility is dwindling however.
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The Ghost of Tom Joad

Jun. 9th, 2017 | 05:18 pm
location: Raleigh, NC
mood: Calmly despondent
music: Metallica/Foo Fighters - Something Else Matters

I crashed bad today. Real bad.
I've plateaued somewhere placid but not good.
I am so tired. I just want to go home. But not where I live.

Saudade. Hiraeth.

Maybe this is old age taking it's toll. I couldn't say. Or, more likely, this is just depression. I don't know. I just know that, in this moment, I'm too tired to be angry. I'm too tired to think. Not physically tired, emotionally. Mentally. Some reservoir within me has run dry. I feel like a cloudless sky over parched land.

I want to go home.

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Drowning

Jun. 2nd, 2017 | 06:07 pm
location: Raleigh, NC
mood: Furious
music: House of the Rising Sun (some metal version)

I genuinely think we're doomed.
I genuinely fear that many of us won't live to see the end of the decade.
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Awake Alert Alive Almost

May. 19th, 2017 | 05:13 pm
location: Raleigh, NC
mood: Tired
music: David Foster - Man in Motion (St Elmo's Fire)

I don’t know where to begin.
- Beth and I are buying a house. Our loan was pre-approved today and we formally submitted an offer (and expect it to be accepted). We’ll due-diligence it by EoB June 9th and close July 30th. We’re moving fast to accommodate the seller.
- This morning, my mom was in an accident on I40. She’s okay and the car may or may not be fixable. It seems like just a really bad fender-bender but she rear-ended the person, so there’s no question how this will playout insurance-wise (spoiler: badly).
- My dad was harassed by the Chapel Hill/Orange County police this week. A complaint was filed earlier this week that he had attended a church where children congregate (which would be any and all of them; name me one religious house that doesn’t have children’s programs). While technically illegal, this is something that has never been prosecuted because come on. Well, that’s started to change, thanks to Pat McCrory, who empowered the courts to pursue what is a clear constitutional issue. We’ve secured a lawyer if it becomes a matter, but hopefully it won’t. It is acutely clear to me however much we might ‘win’ if it gets to court, it would have to get to court. And while Orange County isn’t Durham County, it’s clear that, nation-wide, drawing out the period in jail (not prison; jail) is a well-respected tactic in the ‘justice’ system.
- This morning (or yesterday?), Representative Al Green from the horrid state of Texas officially called for Donald Trump’s impeachment on the floor of the House. Might seem trivial (probably is), but what has been getting floated with greater interest is now officially on the table. Good.
- Today marks the 60-day mark that I haven’t heard from my publisher (except on Facebook). I think I’ve officially been forgotten about, which has me pissed off. Email after email after call after email. If I walk through the doors at AMA, I will formally announce that I am leaving the publishing house. If that happens, this summer will not only involving prepping for a move and finding a retirement home for my mom, but also finding a publisher because, good god, am I tired of this.
- I am completely and totally caught-up on work. All of my work (at work-work, not writing) is at a point where there is none to do, I don’t have access to the database to do (like run some reports or crunch some numbers), or need something from someone else that I’m waiting on. I have nothing to do. It’s unnerving.
- My project for my Green Belt has been approved. I’m putting on a strength seminar for the students at the kung fu school, and have to write an accompanying paper/program to go with it. I’m quite excited about it and I’m looking forward to it, but it’s going to be a lot of work, on top of training for the test (and the rest of this crap).
- This week, I realized how I am defining success for my writing. It seems like it would be obvious thing, but success is (or can be) a very personal thing. I’m not interested in money or fame (but boy howdy will I take ‘em if they come my way). What I am interested in critical evaluation of my work, and transference into another medium by others. I don’t just want a comic book of my stories; I want someone else to produce it. I want my work to reach such a level that somebody comes to me and asks if they can make a [insert narrative artistic work here] of my stories. That is the height of success for me. Seems trivial, perhaps, but a clear definition of what I want has eluded me, I think since I started all of this.
- I finally had Goodberries! In all the years I’ve lived in the Triangle, and worked in Cary, I never went to Goodberries. Holy hell, why didn’t any of you people tell me?! I hold the Dairy Queen Blizzard as something hallowed, but I may have to concede that Goodberries’ Concrete Mixes might be better. They may have out-blizzarded the blizzard!

I’ll leave you with this video of a young Andre the Giant training because it’s Friday of the craziest week I can recall.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=L-bEbg0luDI
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GOMAD

May. 12th, 2017 | 05:15 pm
location: Raleigh, NC
mood: Distracted
music: Xzibit - Concentrate

I live a charmed life.
So much so, that one of the major troubles occupying my mind today is trying to devise a good mass-building diet.

Starting next week, I'm going to cut more weight. After finding a fat-loss program that worked like a charm, I'm going to do it again. I want to get down to 10% body fat. But after that, I want to try going in the other direction. I want to add muscle. Not a lot, but I'd like to maybe get back up to 200lbs. Additionally, I just want to figure out how to do it.

I don't want to change my routine, though, largely because it's hard enough as it is. I do half an hour to an hour of gymnastics or kettlebells in the morning, half an hour of kung fu at lunch, fifteen or so minutes of shadowboxing at night, and fifteen minutes of stretching (which may get extended to something more like 30-45 minutes). When I calculated all of that up recently, I realized just how active I am and the likelihood that if I just followed a mass-building diet, my body might take care of it on its own.

There's very little about nutrition that we know. There are a lot of educated guesses, but there's also a lot of poor science or just myths.
But mostly, there's a lot of anecdotal evidence. And while anecdotal evidence shouldn't be fully trusted, if something works, I won't argue with it just because it wasn't arrived at by scientific method.
Case in point: sometime around Pumping Iron, top body builders were asked the diet to build muscle. Schwarzenneger was asked, Columbu was asked, Metser was asked, etc. They all gave similar answers, involving a whole host of supplements, complicated eating protocols (like snacks in the middle of the night to keep from going into catabolism, etc).
When Lou Ferrigno was asked, he said "Drink a gallon of milk a day".
Thus, GOMAD was born (Gallon Of Milk A Day)
GOMAD, and it's little brother LOMAD (liter), is an example of the simplicity that athletics can and should take. Another protocol, and I can't remember now who came up with it, was simply 'eat another meal'. Whatever your normal diet is, just add one more meal. On top of proper training, that will probably be plenty.

So I'm juggling those options. I have no real reason to do this; it's just a fun mental exercise.
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It's a Sin

May. 1st, 2017 | 04:16 pm
location: Raleigh, NC
mood: Tired
music: Pet Shop Boys - It's A Sin

More than one update a week?! Insanity! Insanity I tells ya!

I actually don't have a lot to say.
Lot of stress.
Lot of work.
Hang in there. Monday's almost done.
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Solodemic

Apr. 28th, 2017 | 01:55 pm
location: Raleigh, NC
mood: Somber
music: Metallica - Broken, Beaten, and Scarred

I'm taking off work early to meet a friend who will be staying with us this weekend. Said friend may be a girlfriend, I'm honestly not sure. She and Beth will discuss that tonight, potentially while she goes with Beth to a friend's funeral.

It is surprising to me how this gentleman had so many friends, and took his life. I suppose I can actually understand. But it's astounded how many people I know, who knew him. People outside the Triangle, outside of North Carolina.
I'm not going. Mostly because of my very soured relationship with his sister. I will fully accept that my grudge is a bit excessive, but it is still a deeply personal thing to me that I don't take lightly. Just I don't take pledges of love and friendship lightly, I don't take slights like that lightly. Many people might advocate for forgiveness but I feel that the inability to hold a grudge is a sign of poor character.
That isn't the only reason I'm not going. I don't care for funerals, or observances, or any of the trappings of death. Death, in many times, is to be celebrated. If there is an afterlife, then this person has gone to it. If there isn't an afterlife, then marking the passing of a life, reminding ourselves of our own mortality seems futile.
The other reason, of course, is probably the scariest: I envy him. He did it. He died. While I'm not suicidal, don't want to be suicidal (again), and have no plans to take my life, I cannot help but admire those who do. It's a sick admiration, like admiring those who endure pain, who forego treatment, etc. It's not right. It's downright sick, but it is true.
I live predominantly for my work. Whether it's writing or an obligation to my family, most of what keeps me rooted is my to-do list. There will never be a single day I wake up where I won't have an obligation, a single thing to do, a fight that must be waged. Death, to me, will be a release from that and it's something that I look forward to. I love life, I love living, and I'm very happy. While I am in no hurry to die, I look forward to death.

Tomorrow is Refeed Day. I'm looking forward to the carbs and the sugar. I think I could use the high.

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Within The Walls of the Black Citadel

Apr. 21st, 2017 | 05:17 pm
location: Raleigh, NC
mood: Something adjacent to nostalgic
music: Castlevania II OST - Within These Castle Walls

I remember the first time I had a visceral reaction to a video game. It was playing Castlevania II: Simon's Quest on the NES. That may have been the first video game I ever beat, and it sure was a feat at the time.
If you aren't familiar with the gothic horror franchise, I'll spare you the long tale. You have to go to five mansions and gather the pieces of Dracula's remains to destroy them and lift the curse. Lots of recycled enemies, color-swaps, etc. But the arrival at the final stage, the final castle (ostensibly Castlevania), was heralded with new graphics and new music. More unsettling, no enemies. Still just hearing the music, titled 'Within These Castle Walls', will send a chill down my spine.

The last time I can remember that happening was at the finale of Dragon Quest VIII. The adventuring party invades the Black Citadel to face Rapthorne, the Malevobad guy. As you descend through many layers with frustratingly hard monsters, you hit this point where you find a simulation of a town, like some faux town out of Disney World. There are no enemies. No random encounters. The music doesn't change from other dungeons, but as most Dragon Quest music is recycled from previous games, it's heavily ingrained and familiar. Anyway, as you travel through the town, it's just small enough to realize that you're moving in a spiral. Worse, with each completion of the spiral, the town is deteriorating.
First, there are boards on the windows and the plants are withered. Then glass is broken and doors have been kicked in. It gets worse, until there's poison on the streets and statues of once-revered gods have been defaced.

These two experiences were removed by probably twenty/twenty-five years and yet they underscore how much games can do, and how much I enjoy gaming. I look forward to the next time games engender an emotional response (aside from anger because the random draw system gave me yet another 1-star item, Transformers Forged to Fight, or romantic thoughts, Final Fantasy 7...8...12...don't judge me).

***

Also, because LiveJournal's users are mostly Russian, I'm sharing this picture because fuck Putin.
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Dancing Days

Mar. 31st, 2017 | 05:27 pm
location: Raleigh, NC
mood: Tired but not entirely cynical
music: All That She Wants (Leo Moracchioli cover)

My psychiatrist put me on some new medication, or rather started me on a dosing program for stronger medication. We'll see how it pans out. It takes six weeks to get up to what is considered a medicinal dose. I already feel better, so there's clearly a placebo/psychosomatic effect at play, but I don't care. Give me a Tic Tac and call a Perfection Elixir. Just let it work.

Of course, I also learned my psychiatrist is charging me $140 for a missed appointment that I showed up for and she double-booked. Her office contends that I was scheduled for the day before, which I call shenanigans on but they have documentation and I don't so I'm $140 poorer. NC State-itis strikes again. From now on, I am going to photograph and save every goddamn receipt, slip of paper, and note I'm given. Thankfully my ISPs can collect confidential information and sell it without my permission...wait...

And yeah, there's all that. I've had one confirmed friend who decided they should be elsewhere over the state of the country/world. I didn't know him THAT well, but it's always nice to message somebody on Facebook and say 'hey, haven't heard from you in a few weeks, you doing okay' and get a response from his boyfriend about how the funeral was last week.

I just want the world to be okay. And I want to be excited again. And for said excitement to live up to it.
Maybe I'm on my way there. Maybe we all are.

Here's to hoping.
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Bleeding Me

Mar. 24th, 2017 | 04:37 pm
location: Raleigh, NC
mood: Banal
music: Autocorrect for Life - Kongos

Every day, I crash.

Like clockwork these days, sometime around 3pm, my mood and outlook tank. I go from doing just fine to compromised and emotionally broken in seconds. Everyday. Not exactly at 3pm, but in that realm.

This is connected to a drop in blood sugar and some other body/brain chemistry stuff. I’ve experimented with snacks or having an energy shot in the afternoon, but those have not consistently shown worthwhile results. Sometimes they work, sometimes they don’t, sometimes they backfire. So, the search continues. What is clear is that it’s entirely biological and it’s entirely manageable.

And that kind of depresses me.

A dozen years ago, I was dangerously delusional. Knights. Hearing the queen of the moon singing. Magic. I just cringe to recall those days. And yet there is part of me that wants those days back. Why? Because of chance. Because of the unknown.
I can’t grasp the magnitude of the hubris for what I am about to say, yet I understand life and the world all too well. Not enough to predict or control it, but just about everything I see or experience has an explanation grounded in precious few originations. Emotions, potentially even thoughts themselves, are chemical reactions taking place in the brain. Tweak a chemical and transform a person. We are little more than the result of the pH and nutritional contents of our cranium. Change the electrical sparks or the chemicals floating inside and that’s it.

Love isn’t a thing. It isn’t some magical force that flows through the universe or influences our actions. It’s a collection of IF-THEN statements related to physical attraction and emotional-intellectual familiarity. Infatuation, a crush, can run its course so predictably that it can be scheduled down to the day practically.

Goddamn it, that’s depressing as fuck. And every day around 3pm, I’m reminded of it. If I switch medications (which I am hoping to do next Friday), then maybe the trigger reminding me of this will be removed. But the reality seems to remain the same: electro-chemistry rules all.

This poisons concepts of so many things. Justice, fairness, righteousness. I once thought honor was a trait above and beyond all things. It was as critical as a soul and as important as life itself. Maybe moreso. Now I’ve learned it’s just another word for honest. Chivalry is misogynistic; lionizing, idolizing, fetishizing women. They aren’t people, at least not to the chivalrous.

I want my depression to be a black cloud sitting within my lungs. A curse placed upon me before my soul came to this earth. A virus that travels through the spirit. I want my depression to be something.

But it isn’t.

Depression is a chemical inequity. Either the release or uptake of a chemical in the happiness quartet (dopamine, serotonin, oxytocin, endorphins) is what causes it. It’s not necessarily genetic, but it’s like cancer in there are genetic factors and environmental factors and behavioral factors. It’s a chronic illness, like any other. For all intents and purposes, I have emotional diabetes.

And every day, around 3pm, I am reminded of this. As I set aside panics, sadness that would break anyone else, horrifying thoughts, and prurient fixations, I am reminded of this. Neurotransmitters in my brain are acting less than optimally and, as a result, I am faced with the gaping abyss of existential horror.

So I close with this, a quote from the Hogfather by Terry Prachett, a conversation between Death and his daughter (I think):

“All right," said Susan. "I'm not stupid. You're saying humans need... fantasies to make life bearable."

REALLY? AS IF IT WAS SOME KIND OF PINK PILL? NO. HUMANS NEED FANTASY TO BE HUMAN. TO BE THE PLACE WHERE THE FALLING ANGEL MEETS THE RISING APE.

"Tooth fairies? Hogfathers? Little—"

YES. AS PRACTICE. YOU HAVE TO START OUT LEARNING TO BELIEVE THE LITTLE LIES.

"So we can believe the big ones?"

YES. JUSTICE. MERCY. DUTY. THAT SORT OF THING.

"They're not the same at all!"

YOU THINK SO? THEN TAKE THE UNIVERSE AND GRIND IT DOWN TO THE FINEST POWDER AND SIEVE IT THROUGH THE FINEST SIEVE AND THEN SHOW ME ONE ATOM OF JUSTICE, ONE MOLECULE OF MERCY. AND YET—Death waved a hand. AND YET YOU ACT AS IF THERE IS SOME IDEAL ORDER IN THE WORLD, AS IF THERE IS SOME...SOME RIGHTNESS IN THE UNIVERSE BY WHICH IT MAY BE JUDGED.

"Yes, but people have got to believe that, or what's the point—"

MY POINT EXACTLY.”

I roll that exchange around in my head quite often. I feel like there is some grain of truth in there somewhere where maybe I can find the singing of the moon queen, find the magic of those days long past. I haven’t found it yet. I fear I’ve forgotten how to find magic.

I don’t know if that inability is a loss of that which I could once do, or gaining an insight into what once deluded me. But if that magic was born out of ignorance, then I would carve my brain from my head to have it back for even an instant.

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