Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Insomnia Log 8

There's the whir of air escaping into an abyss in my bedroom. The vent normally blows in cool air this time of summer, but right now air seems to be leaving out through it into nowhere. It's about the same sound you hear when you listen into the deep hole of a composting toilet, which I also think is a portal to the Abyss. As my best good friend P and I know from watching As Above, So Below, there are some unconventional ways to get to the underworld if you only look hard enough. Or listen hard enough.

I think a lot about the legacy we leave when we die. This has probably been amplified by several important family members dying in the past couple years. In my pocket notebook I once wrote, "I always think, if I die, someone has to deal with my Speedy Rewards card." Even trivial things like my about.me website or my unused Wikipedia accounts are digital refuse that live on long after the animate matter of me is gone. Digital ghosts. Facebook offers some feature for others to suggest deletion of the accounts of the deceased. That has to be strange to perform. I don't even tell most people I have four Twitter accounts. How will anyone know to delete those? Or will they just pile up like in the dark memory dump of Riley's mind? I was reading about Frances Cobain tonight, about how former Nirvana members see her dad living on through her, while others idolize him even though neither she nor they really knew him. That's the only form of afterlife that makes sense to me, and it's pretty Absurd.

Sometimes dead relationships also suffer a digital haunting. Two of my friends from Dallas liked each other very much and eventually got engaged. They made a wedding website through a service called The Knot that told their story and details about their wedding ceremony and reception in fabulous San Francisco. I visited that site tonight and read "11 days to go!" there. Except this couple is no longer together. I was one of the last of our friend group to know. One day I noticed one of the people in this relationship was no longer Facebook friends with most of our old Dallas crew (previously our "Mutual Friends" on FB). I remember seeing the wedding site years ago but never got a formal invite. I asked this person what was happening. They ended the engagement. I got more of the story when I visited Dallas this past spring (post coming soon I swear!), and I understood why the old crew detached. How strange that in some digital parallel universe the clock is still ticking for this couple to be wed and I'm probably stressing out about dry cleaning my suit.

Speaking of San Francisco, you should see Inside Out if you haven't already. I can't remember the last new movie I watched that had had me tearing up at multiple moments for multiple viewings of the movie (and it is worth multiple viewings). P changed his shirt that said, "Bring back Bernie Mac" to "Bring back Bing Bong". You'll understand that after watching the movie. Go tomorrow! I used to like WALL•E and Up the most of the Pixar crop, but I'm now more aware that I really just love the beginnings of those movies (and their remainders I think are just fine, but not moving). (Somewhere (where?!) I read that the dividing line between mere entertainment and art is in its ability to help us understand the human condition.) I think the beginnings of WALL•E and Up should be their own short films, both pretty tragic. Inside Out, on the other hand, is just as affecting (moving) as the beginnings of WALL•E and Up while still being genuinely funny, smart, relatable, and intriguing for the entire runtime. There are other Pixar films that hold up for the whole movie, but I don't think they have the same poesy as a film entirely about emotions, family, coping, and loss. While other Pixar films primarily focus on the things that bring us joy (a good thing for whole-family movies), Inside Out (literally) turns the spotlight to sadness as an important and neglected emotion that must be felt to be truly human. It helps us connect with the people we love when we need to be loved. I'm going to say this so that it's somewhere on the Internet for those whose search for these kinds of opinions: Inside Out is my favorite Pixar movie.

Blue or Kind Of Blue has a Sunny Border Blue,

Thursday, July 16, 2015

Insomnia Log 7

It's that time of the night when the only thing I can think to do is write. This seems to regularly happen after a decent streak of nights of going to bed "on time". Maybe I feel defeated about missing "bed time" one night and just stay up with an attitude of apathy. I don't think that's all of it, because I'm not yawning or feeling that heavy sack-of-sand feeling in my head, so I'm also not physically tired.

I've got The 88 stuck in my head but I'm happy to have them as guests. OC is OK with me. Before that I was listening to how quiet it was in this room. I couldn't tell if what I was hearing was coming from my head or the space around me. Sort of like how when it's dark enough black looks black with your eyes opened or closed. Sort of like how dark it is in the room except for this lighted screen.

A mentor of mine at work reminded me on Monday that it will always take a long time for anyone's impression to change of anyone else. Put another way, trust is built slowly like habits, but it shatters like porcelain with a few mistakes. I won't go into those mistakes here, but I've got some habits to work in that I think will allow my coworkers to trust me as one of their own. These will take time to develop. I think I often want instant results, but there's no magic pill or "program" that I can throw money at. (Believe me, I've thrown some serious money at "programs" before. The lasting effect has always been, "Wow, I guess I really should do that," while leaving it to me to do the work on it. No quick fix.) I think it will work the same way that I don't realize how much my hair grows in a day but notice it over a few months. (I don't cut my hair very often.) And yet, according to Annie Dillard, "How we spend our days is, of course, how we spend our lives."

I realized this the other day: I think it's challenging my ego and self-esteem to have so much "constructive" feedback from coworkers all the time, but I think I prefer it to the non-feedback I used to get on the job. "Yeah, you're doing fine. ["Fine." No better way to sound insincere.] Just keep doing what you're doing." There's no path for growth or mastery there! A book I'm leafing through called Apprenticeship Patterns (appropriate for me as an apprentice in this company) suggests to "Be The Worst". To surround myself with people who are far above my level and gain whatever I can from them. Seems like it would work like learning a foreign language by immersion in another country, immensely stressful at first, but builds a language in my brain out of necessity rather than sheer willpower (which I know is a limited resource I'm good at burning through). I think while I'm still "learning the lingo" I'm going to be stressed because I don't know how to speak yet.

I'll need to accept that I have some shortcomings as a developer. Some are inherent to my character, because whether we call traits "strengths" or "weaknesses" are just labels for perceptions of how common inner mental structures affect other things. In that way, my strengths lead to my weaknesses, and vice versa. I'll do what I can to go further than my short arms can currently reach. Until I've developed confidence in this "pattern language", as the book calls it, I'll look to this image for inspiration.

T. rex holding two grabber claws as if they were its longer arms

The sun's the closest star, but it's dang dark,

Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Insomnia Log 6


I owe you some more blog posts about my spring road trip but you aren't going to get them right away. Soon enough. I've at least been thinking about writing them recently as opposed to not thinking about them recently. Patience.

I wish I had patience. I think at my core is rage that I try to prevent from feeling. I nod and say, "Mm," when I really want to say, "No, that's not correct," or, "That's terrible." My good friend P and I talked on the phone last night and agreed we need to stop more pointless conversation in its tracks. Simply halt the speaker and say, "OK. We can talk more about that after you change your shirt. Why are you wearing that shirt? Why did you think that was a good idea?" Flip something pointless on its head with something equally irrelevant. If they actually change their shirt they care enough to deserve your attention.

I haven't felt so angry in probably months, which might be what is causing this sleeplessness and stream of unedited words. Dawna Markova says, "Rage is passion without choice." It feels like a spit of gasoline into the engine. If Color Theory (more on this another time) is to be trusted, and I think it is, rage is composed of the colors black and red, where black represents one's own ambition and power and red represents one's emotions. We use words like "ardent" to describe someone's passion, and the feel is fiery, which is also very red. Red is about creativity and emotion; I just worry about its pairing with my own ego and power, manifesting in anger. It's a potent fuel, no doubt.

I've continued with my mostly daily haiku on my Twitter. I missed up to five days at a time, but I keep coming back to it. I like the challenge. For my grandpa, for whom we just this weekend held a memorial service, I dedicate every day of the remaining half of the year that I will write a haiku, a poetic (thus red, but controlled, with choice) expression to help channel the anger I have that he's gone. I felt that this weekend. I clutched my magic egg (a lucky charm, more on this another time) as "Taps" played, my throat tight with strained tracheal cartilage and my face a frown canyon. I looked at some of the treasure maps my grandpa and I made year after year for a forest that no longer stands where now rest pole barns and snowmobiles. I miss him so much. I want to live a life as great as his and often worry I won't. I want to walk in the woods again with him, him pointing out the morning dew beading on old spider webs below ferns, white light and long shadows abundant. It can't happen. I remember collapsing in front of an angel statue the last time I saw him, fingernails piercing palms, so angry that anything could take someone so great away. I want to keep channeling this rage in a creative way.

There's another reason I started writing these haiku. One that I'm now ashamed to admit but think I must admit at this point. Most longer term projects of mine kick off because I'm upset that someone doesn't reciprocate my feelings for them. I created Behold The Cheese as a way to cope with longing for someone. I learned Graph Theory and developed Color Theory from it as a way to take my mind off someone else. And I took on the poetic challenge as a way to deal with rage about my grandpa and rage about someone who left me with feelings of withdrawal. I directed so much of the latter anger toward myself for months after I stopped seeing her, after conversation previously held everyday abruptly stopped. I believed that there were things wrong with me that were keeping me all alone, that I wasn't funny enough or strong enough or that I was too obsessive. I compulsively ate and drank without realizing I was over my limit. I sighed, so much. I created such a narrative about this person in my head that thoughts continued on far longer than I expected them to. I felt haunted. I kept thinking of reasons why this person was justified and I needed fixing.

I don't need fixing. I'm not broken. (I sense my own power in writing that.) I don't want to diminish myself anymore. I don't want one person's rejection of me to bring down my esteem and affect relationships that matter far more. I deserve love.

P asked me if this person liked me for the reasons he likes me (that is, for my real self). I didn't have a good answer back then. The answer is probably no. The people who really like me say, "Never change." They tell me they miss me and wish I were there.

I am also angry about some comments I've received on my appearance and beliefs. I received both from a teenager who probably doesn't know any better, but that doesn't defuse my immediate emotional response. I don't like being called "Jesus" mockingly, especially because Jesus probably didn't look anything like my mostly Nordic self. I don't like being called "Sasquatch" while I'm staring at my grandfather's urn about to be buried, the last time I would ever see his physical form, though dust. He said, "Whoa, it's Saquatch! Let me get your picture!" pulling out his phone while I was sobbing and sullen about my fallen hero. I'm sorry, that's disgusting. That's asocial. I don't ever like hearing gay jokes, but especially not from a punk teenager as I'm celebrating marriage equality with my Facebook profile picture. I hope this person reads this when he grows up and realizes what a shit he was.

I have a tendency to get carried away. I can be vocal and loud about things. Some people like it, some people cover their ears. I think it's one of my greatest strengths and a simultaneous weakness (but I believe strengths and weaknesses are intricately tied). It sometimes leads me to think more about another person than can be reasonably reciprocated, which leads to me being alone. But it sometimes also leads to one hundred something haiku produced so far this year, or over 5,000 miles traveled across these United States in two weeks. Sometimes it leads to twenty mile walks which result in deep insights to my brain and brewing of lavish life philosophies. Sometimes it leads me to inexplicable sobbing, or at least looking out windows for hours wistfully. Sometimes it leads to lengthy rants like this one.

The more I use up this anger rocket fuel in creative projects, the better.

Black and red all over,