Ideas, not events

When I started writing here what seems like a billion years (and many different lifetimes ago), I recorded events. At the time, in my late twenties/early thirties, those things were important to me.

As I get older, I find that slipping away. There are plenty of things I want to remember, of course — people, events, places. But at least at this point on my personal timeline, those things are important to me from a sense of emotion attached to those events — and if I look at a photo or re-read the details of a day, more and more those things seem detached and disconnected from me. The things that manage to survive and stick in my head, on the other hand, I think do so because the emotions resonate.

I’m not a huge fan of recapping vacations, barring really amusing or monumental events. It makes me exhausted, and usually really disappointed that the moment has passed.

I am fascinated by my thought patterns and opinions, and the way they’ve evolved and shifted over the years. The things I found important, the things I discarded from my attention, and where I stand now. The common ground that lets me know that I’m still the same at the core, and the differences that display change (if not actual growth).

Steven Wilson’s new album is phenomenal on so many levels, but right now, at least, it hits me particularly hard on the thematic level. There’s this exploration of our interconnection (and lack thereof), and how that’s been affected by technology’s advance. And I’m the first one to say that I’m often comforted by the level of surface connection that social media and such allows me, but I’ve recently realized that I was isolatiing myself too much. The album kinda drove that nail home for me.
The song in the video is wonderful, and makes its point with clarity and grace. But watching the video — it’s a gutpunch, for certain. Even knowing what’s coming after the twentieth viewing — man, that’s rough. At least it is for me — I’m incredibly cognizant of the fluid nature of my life and my seeming inability to maintain long distance relationships. If you’re not in my life in the here and now, in the immediate proximity, then the tendency for drift is pretty strong. And I’m not a big photo person, or one who saves too many things.
And then at some point you look up, and another important person is gone, and has been, without a trace.
Water has no memory.
But maybe, at the core, I find some comfort in that — if not the concept, then the related feeling.

The beauty of a dream

I’m too old and too pragmatic and too cynical to still think this way.

It’s not as strong as it used to be — doesn’t happen as often, nor as unwaveringly. I see the holes in the thought process more readily, and I don’t fight or deny those holes as blindly.But it’s still there, that part of me… the dreamer.

I still believe in the possibility of comic books and Hollywood endings (and beginnings, and middles). Anything that I can imagine can happen. Anything that anyone can imagine can happen.

Thousands of years ago, was light from a source other than the sun or fire possible? Could you capture images for future viewing? Communicate across distances with a hunk of metal the size of your hand or travel to other planets?

Things man once swore impossible are not.

If reality can destroy the dream, why should not the dream destroy reality?

That’s the beauty of a dream — you don’t ever let it go.

I’m in love with ideas and ideals, with things that no adult believes in, with things that belong on the printed page and in celluloid nights in cinemas.

It can make it rough, being a grown-up while still holding onto childish things,… but it makes it easier, too, getting from one day to the next.

Ouroboros can go eat itself

There is nothing more disheartening to me at this moment in time* than realizing that that thing — that incident, that action, that behavior that has been weighing on you all day, angering, puzzling, bothering you, on too many levels to deal with rationally and properly — is similar if not identical to something you did in the past.

Fuck your context, and mine. Being a hypocrite sucks. Self-awareness doesn’t really balance this one out too well.

* fuck you, semantics Nazis. You’ll not be using this one against me in the future…

Pressure valve

Some days are all fun and giggles in my world. Other days — and this is one, it is probably apparent — not so much. I get caught up in the news: in reading stories about religious extremists killing and torturing in the name of their god, about men abusing women and children and each other, about greed and entitlement and belittling other people because they are different and you’re afraid of that and everything that is wrong in the world. I get caught up in these things like taking a step too far into the flood waters, thinking they’re shallower or less powerful than they are, realizing as I’m suddenly knocked off my feet and being pulled along with no control.

I get angry, and that’s not something I enjoy feeling. My natural instinct, in fact, is to say no one does — what kind of sick person enjoys being angry? Besides political extremists and the talking heads on news channels? And religious people, and people that are passionate about issues, whether cultural or economic or spiritual, whether left or right leaning. Whether right or wrong, by my definition or yours, they get angry, and shout, and write, and take action.

So there’s the positive takeaway, I tell myself. Working for change in the world, to turn the tide from the status quo, to bring awareness. And sometimes it works — my parents were in the generation that fought to get equal rights for black people, that attended rallies led by Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr., and Rev. Fred Shuttlesworth, and split from their parents and neighbors and refused to give in to the ignorance and intolerance. And my grandparents, they were around for women’s liberation movements, and I’m living in time where sexual orientation is becoming less and less acceptable a reason to deny someone their rights.

But how much has changed? How little? Close friends of mine still think of blacks and browns and yellows as different and inferentially inferior (especially when there’s no one else around). Gays are weird and gross — and from the agnostics and atheists in my circle. The really religious are so much worse. And women still ask for it they way they dress, and who cares if they make less than me for the same job?

Over the years — almost 43 of them, and counting — I’ve tried debating, using solid logic and research and, when appropriate and necessary, impassioned words. It’s a nice thought, that all that talking and discussing leads to change (on either person’s part, to be fair, or perhaps even observers who don’t participate). But realistically — how many minds have I changed over the years? How many minds have I opened? I won’t say none, but the number can’t be much greater than that.

For whatever reason, people are set in their beliefs, even when shown that the foundation of one of those beliefs is patently untrue. Which, you know — fine. Ignorance is bliss, maybe. And what do I care, at the end of the day, if the rest of the world want to believe in something that is demonstrably (even obviously) wrong?

Because, like it or not (and this is one of those days when I don’t so much), I’m stuck living in the same world as them, and more likely than not, these false beliefs shape their actions, and their actions touch me. Sure, I can ignore the entitlement-shaped statements, and the ignorance and fear-fueled idiocy, and the greed-driven hi-jinks, until it turns into a religious nut deciding that I should die because I believe differently, or my financial situation is affected by some out-of-touch CEO’s avarice — because the world owes it to him, by God!

That list almost went on ad nauseum, but it was gonna end on an obvious Justin Beiber joke. Because fuck that guy. With a jackhammer.

Seriously. Jackhammer. Right in the earhole. Or anywhere, really. it’s a jackhammer. No need to be picky about it.

It’s all impotent rage, at the end of the day, which I think is why I choose to ignore it. It’s more fun to be the funny guy, the guy who makes people smile and laugh and forget about their worries, than to be the guy who gets on social media and rails about problems and issues and who shows up in bars making fun of those idiots who have different opinions than his own.

I wonder what it’s like to be ignorant, comfortable accepting the truth of the world around you from talking heads without ever questioning any of it, letting first and easy impressions and assumptions become the fact and foundation of your world.  I really do. Is it easier? Are you happier at the end of the day?

It’s all just ranting on a page. And even with scalded fingers too tired to hold open this valve any longer, I don’t feel at all ventilated.

I blame it all on Bieber fans.

Day six

And day zero of no smokies. Not so bad.

Chantix isn’t necessarily giving me bad dreams, but something — and I’m looking at you, Chantix — is fucking with my sleep patterns. Enough that I’m remembering my dreams a lot — and thus, how I can confirm my sleep patterns are being fucked.

Not so bad, aside from the tired. Got my vape thing, so when I slip and have that physical reflex, I’m okay.

Think this time it’ll finally stick.

There really are no winners if there is no race

I’ve spent my entire life in a race that doesn’t exist outside of my own head. Well, perhaps a billion other heads, but in reality? No.

Competition is good – it pushes you, drives you, inspires you to move to the next level. But if you’re too hard on yourself, measuring yourself against others constantly, it can lead to perceptions of losing, failure, inadequacy.

And maybe that’s a good thing, to some extent; some level of available self-awareness. Granted, one most people – myself potentially included – don’t possess.

But it’s time to (further) remove myself from the rat race, and stop obsessing subconsciously about doing as well or better than others. That shit doesn’t matter, except to me and unimportant cuntbags.

I appreciate the pace rabbit, but I’m running for my own satisfaction from here.

Rinse, wash, repeat.

Yeah, I have issues….

Sometimes I marvel at why goes on in my head. I suppose, now that I’m considering it, that. These thoughts actually occur to everyone, and maybe no one is okay with admitting it. Maybe the Warren Ellises and Chuck Palahniuks of the world are not so rarified as I like to think, except I. That they’ll talk and write about things that other people find too unpleasant…

Anyway, as I imagine occurs to just about anyone who steps foot on an airplane, I’m in my seat pondering the idea of the plane going down, imaginable over the East coast of Florida (on this trip, at least). And (weirdly to everyone that I’ve ever told this to) I’m not really bothered by that thought. Not that I relish it, but when it’s time, it’s time, so why stress about it? In fact, if its inevitable and out of my control – and in that moment, happening – I’d personally prefer and therefore choose to enjoy the last few minutes that I’ve got. Right?

Well, agree or don’t. That’s my answer, and I’m sticking with it.

What is odd, to me, is where that thought took itself. I figure, at cruising altitude, you’ll probably realize that the end is near with a few minutes to spare – enough time to not only realize what’s happening but to do a thing or two. Most people would panic, of course. Some (like me) would fire off a text or try to make a phone call to a loved one – significant other, family, best friend. So that’s first on my list, followed (while I’ve got my wireless connection running) by a smart-ass but hopefully quippy and memorable tweet, cross-posted to Facebook. Everyone wants to have quotable famous last words, so I gotta give that a shot if I’ve got notice.

This flight, for instance, inspires a thought or two about the irony (or lack thereof) of dying so close to the toilet closet. Seriously, there’s not a better design for airplane bathroom placement?

But then I spent twenty minutes winding what song I wanted to go down to. And this became an overriding obsession for the next twenty minutes, and now that I can turn on electronics without causing panic in the sky, I’ve spent thirty more minutes flipping through my iPod trying to figure it out. Foo Fighters A320? Too literal. Devin Townsend seems appropriate on many levels, but I don’t think I can pick one song that sums everything up appropriately. Steve Vai, Queen, VAST, Porcupine Tree all get their turn, flipping through song after album after song, building yet another morbid playlist for eventual upload (with vague and pretentious title, no less) to 8tracks…

This, by the way, is why you should put me in a window seat, not in the back of the plane. Distract me with pretty clouds.

I eventually settled on Steven Wilson’s Drive Home, by the way. Probably trying to time it so the solo peaking would be the last thing to go through my head, aside from the talkative Air Force dude in front of me.

Everything Dies

Some album titles write their own reviews. Some musicians provide their own obituaries.

Peter Steele, bassist and vocalist for Type O Negative, died yesterday at 48 of reported heart failure.  This is the sort of news, I suppose, that you hear more and more as the years pass — as we age, so do our peers and inspirations — but I wonder if it’s the sort of news that you ever get used to?

Type O Negative were never one of the best bands around, but they’ve been consistently in my playlists since the early nineties.  Christian Woman came out at a time when my musical tastes were being refined and redefined. October Rust remains one of my favorite albums from start to finish.

The music is dark, haunted, wrapped in autumn-turning-winter.  The lyrics are doomed and pessimistic, soaked in nostalgia and stained memories. All of this from one of the most consistently self-deprecating and funny personalities in music:

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UPDD19l_xWE]

It’s always sad to hear of the passing of someone who’s life and work touched your own.  But better to remember the good and smile than dwell on the loss.  Here’s to you, Peter, and the music you left behind — thanks for that.

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QMHQQvBs6o4]

“I’m searching for something which can’t be found, but I’m hoping…
Everything dies”

The Magic of the Mixtape

Should I bolt every time I get that feeling in my gut when I meet someone new? Well, I’ve been listening to my gut since I was 14 years old, and frankly speaking, I’ve come to the conclusion that my guts have shit for brains.

I’ve never read Nick Hornby’s book. I should, I know — seeing the movie (no matter how great it is, with John Cusack and all) isn’t the same.

But a lot of people in my circle of friends get it.  Maybe we couldn’t have written the book, but we’ve made our fair share of mix tapes – or CDs, or playlists, or 8tracks. We get older, the technology gets newer, and the story stays the same.

I’ve made hundreds of mixes in my time, to be played in certain seasons, to remind me of certain seasons. For movies that have been scripted, for movies that haven’t even been plotted yet, for those times when I want to make up my own movies on the fly.  To absent friends, to present friends, and even to enemies.

I’ve heard more and more artists complaining about the iPod, and the fact that you can set your album or artist or entire collection to shuffle, and you don’t get the beauty of listening to an album, straight through, as the artist intended.  If that’s the case, why not release your music as 70 minute song cycles, with no track break?  But even if you do — we’ll still figure out a way to break out the five minute chunk that we want, because it would bridge Pink Floyd’s “Breathe” and “Lady Helen” by Devin Townsend perfectly.

These songs, these lyrics — for many of us, there is a soundtrack to life.  It’s nice to be able to preserve that, when we choose, or to craft an alternate to inspire or escape.