February 2006

Over the course of the past nearly 2 months, I’ve managed to get myself back into serious fighting shape by exercising 4-5 times a week. I haven’t lost or gained any weight, but I can see a lot more definition and my cardiovascular limits have made huge strides.

So I’m at a work party on Thursday evening and for some reason the topic of being sick comes up. I mention to a friend that it’s been a long time since I’ve been sick, and how the last time I threw up was probably when I was in my teens.

Yeah, you probably know where this one is going.

Last night before bed, I wasn’t feeling too great, but figured a good night of sleep would help me shrug off whatever was bothering me. In the middle of the night, I woke up several times, sweating and having a hard time getting comfortable. At six, I realized there was no fighting it and went to the bathroom to get it all over with.

Over twelve hours later I’m gaining back a little of my strength, but still incredibly weak and generally not feeling so hot. After an accomplished day off on Friday and getting some stuff done on Saturday, I was thinking that I’d manage to get ahead on a few projects today by spending a large part of the day writing and reading. Alas, I spent large portions of the day sleeping and feeling completely beat down. In between naps, I still managed to get a few things accomplished, but as a whole my day was completely sidetracked.

It’ll be awhile before I start talking crap about not getting sick again.

the panapetFor some reason or another, some people are very surprised to find out that I’m secretly a sports fan. I don’t follow every sport, and I don’t get into professional teams at all, but for some reason I’ve become a big fan of both college baseball and football since I graduated from college.

Being from Nebraska, I suppose that the college football part of the equation was bound to happen, but I’ve also gotten so I really like having a baseball game on during the spring and early summer. It’s relaxing to me, and for some reason all the numerical components of the game really appeal to me (whether its batting averages, pitcher ERAs, or even how a double play was turned).

While thrift shopping a couple years back, I found a little AM radio from the early 70s that was made by Panasonic called the Panapet 70 (pictured). If one were to stretch, they could say that it was the ultimate precursor to portable audio, as it’s not only stylish, but it has a headphone jack and is even attached to a metal keychain. I can’t imagine anyone actually attaching the radio to their belt, but it does add a fun element to the little radio. For the next couple months, the Panapet and I will be good buddies.

Sadly, my goth and my “act like a ham for the camera” phase seemed to coincide during my first two years of college or so. There are many, many photos from this period, including some that make me cringe a little bit when I see them. It was during this time that I dyed my hair jet black and let it grow out to about shoulder-length, resulting in some minor questioning from my family and some odd looks (and rather vicious rumors) from people in my small town when I visited home during the holidays and summers.

I can’t seem to recall who took this particular picture, but for some reason it’s my favorite. It’s mainly because of the odd perspective, but partially because I’m not smiling at all, despite the cheesy finger-pointing pose. I was so, so, serious. Oh yeah, and to top it all off, I’m wearing a Nine Inch Nails t-shirt. Head like a hole, dudes!

a goth just floated by

During my junior year of college, there was a lip-sync contest held by some student organization or another. When it was first announced, I didn’t give it much of a thought, but as the deadline approached, my roomate Mouser and I decided that we should go ahead and enter. Instead of rehearsing or trying to set up any sort of choreography, we just decided to pick up some weird clothes from the local thrift store and wing it from there. At the time, Paul’s Boutique by the Beastie Boys seemed to be a popular favorite, and given the outfits that we found, we figured that “Hey Ladies” would be the best choice.

In order to not completely blow our cover, we actually wore bulkier outfits comprised of sweatshirts and jeans over the top of our tight polyester pants and shirts. When our names were announced and it was time to go, we stripped down to the sweet duds and jumped up on stage. As mentioned above, we didn’t really rehearse for it, but I remember that our act involved a lot of finger-pointing, pelvic-thrusting, and exaggerated movements in general. When the song was over, we went zig-zagging through the crowd as “5 Piece Chicken Dinner” played and then stopped by the drink counter to rehydrate.

We ended up getting 2nd place.

Hey Ladies

I have this problem during the winter months in that certain places on my hands get small cracks in them and then bleed. For the most part, this only happens when we have a particulary dry winter (as we are this year), and so I end up going a couple months with the hands of an old man. It doesn’t seem to matter how much expensive Norwegian Formula Neutrogena cream I put on my hands, they just soak it up and then get dry and crack and bleed again. For this reason alone, I’m hoping that the cold will soon be over and we’ll have spring and rain and butterflies again. The bare-knuckle boxing excuse is getting old and unfunny.

A Year Of Magical Thinking by Joan DidionIn addition to reading numerous positive reviews and it showing up on several year-end lists for 2005, TG had recommended a couple other Joan Didion books that we already own (Slouching Towards Bethlehem and Play It As It Lays), so I decided to check out A Year Of Magical Thinking. The title of the book states the time frame that passes in the book, but it’s hard to imagine many more tragic events taking place in 365 days than what happens to Didion.

Around the beginning of the book, her daughter falls into a coma induced by septic shock. Two weeks after that happens (and two days after Christmas, coincidentally), her husband of almost 40 years dies of a massive heart attack right before they sit down to dinner. A couple weeks later, her daughter is out of the coma and is told the bad news, then only a couple weeks later has a massive edema on the brain and almost dies.

All this is stated on the book cover, so I knew that I wasn’t exactly going to be reading an uplifting sunshiney book. The first 50 pages of A Year Of Magical Thinking are like successive punches in the gut as all the major events described unfold. Didion has a somewhat dramatic flair that seems a bit much at times, but during the first part of the book, she draws you in and really makes you think about how you would feel if some of the same things happened to you. Major life events that she’d never had to worry about are thrown at her rapid fire and the book gives a good account of the range of emotions that she goes through, from self-pity to near complete irrationality.

It’s around the middle of the book that things seem to go a bit off course, though. As her daughter is going through therapy, Didion starts to simply churn out memory after memory of life with her husband as she ferries herself about her everyday life. Many of these memories are repeated several times during the course of the book, and while some of them are interesting, at times the page after page after page of exposition feels almost like random name dropping (whether she’s making note of staying at the Beverly Wilshire, that Donald Rumsfeld was a classmate of her husbands, or that her husband has an autographed copy of a book from Julia Childs). Some of the facts seem to tell a story, but many feel barely relevant at all.

In some ways, I can see how this huge diversion (which takes up nearly half the book it seems) fits in with her at times incoherent behavior after her husband dies. The random thoughts and fleeing memories do seem like they’re coming from someone who is grasping and reaching and remembering to retain every little detail. The problem is that they just don’t add up to very compelling storytelling for the casual reader.

In the last section of the book, Didion again seems to pull things together as she recounts different events and how she is progressing, but by then the story of her daughter is oddly lost. After investing so much into her story throughout the book, that thread simply unravels a bit as the book reaches the conclusion (although through some reading on the web, I found out that her daughter never quite recovered fully, finding herself in a wheelchair before finally dying last summer).

Having said the above, I feel a bit odd being critical at all of such a personal work, but as a reader the book padded out for me in places. I’ll have to plan on reading some of her earlier work at some point.

As a quick sidenote, I must say that I love the simple design of the book cover and the very subtle use of color on the type to spell out her husbands name.

Zoey was feeling a little bit left out that I’d posted a picture of her sister Elsa and not her, so here’s one of Zoey and I chilling earlier this week after playing outside in the sun.

Zoey and Me

blurry face I know that I have to be content with sleeping six or so hours a night, because when I start cutting closer to five for more than a couple days, my body really starts to not like me, especially when I’m coupling that shorter amount of sleep with lots of exercising. I don’t mind feeling a bit of an ache in my muscles, but an ache that turns into a complete body and mind drag is no fun.

I haven’t gone out and shot photos for fun in well over a year. I haven’t yet gotten back into video editing like I wanted to. I don’t work on music enough. I haven’t spent any time writing anything other than reviews or blog entries in a long time. There are hundreds of amazing books that I’ll never get around to reading. I haven’t sat down and done an ink drawing in years. There are tons of movies that I still want to watch at some point. It sure would be fun to get into woodworking.

Sometimes I think about things like that and I wish that I didn’t have to sleep at all. If I could just keep going and going, maybe I would have enough time to do some or all of the above things that just sort of sit on an unchecked list in the back of my head at all times. As it stands, I have to budget, budget, budget, when all I want to do is fill my head with new ideas while at the same time spilling out my own into various mediums.

Would I feel this same way if I’d lived 100 years ago? Would I be worried about having enough time to learn leatherworking, hunting, and better riding skills while trying to invent some sort of new devices? Is it a problem with me specifically? Am I just wanting to do too much when I should be focusing on and advancing my skills in a couple areas alone or are my symptoms a microcosm of the the oversaturated culture that I grew up in?

It’s times like these that I want to say something profound, but instead I just start dropping f-bombs and wondering where all my time went.

Fuck. It’s time for bed.

There is hope for your futureInstead of wondering why we’re having such warm days in the middle of the winter, I’ve decided to embrace them a little bit more knowing that the cold will come back eventually (it has to, right?). I’ve tried to make a conscious effort to at the very least get up and away from my desk at lunch, even if I’m busy, and go outside and walk around a bit or sit in the sun and read for ten or fifteen minutes.

This small change in my routine has helped me out a lot lately. I’m not sure if it’s just getting a little more fresh air or the sitting in the sun itself that’s helped me steer away from dwelling under a grey cloud lately, but for the most part I’m keeping on a nice even keel. It’s supposed to actually get truly cold later this week, so I’m going to do my best to soak up as much sun as possible while I can.

Song3 It’s been months since I’ve made any sort of mention about music on this site. As you may or may not recall (depending on how long you’ve been reading here), I was/am in a band called Marianas and last summer after releasing a 4 track EP, our beloved drummer Tom moved to Florida, forcing us to decide what to do next.

In true Generation X (or whatever one we fit into) form, we didn’t really do anything. We left our status up in the air and all just sort of focused on different things for awhile. Our bassist Malcom devoted more time to alternately making the world a better place and trying to find some time in his life to breathe between projects while Ryan started taking those previous band nights and using them to work on his own epic solo/collaborative project Rituale Romanum (of which I’ve heard early mixes and been amazed by). Meanwhile, Aaron G got a dog (and everyone who has a dog knows how much time that eats up, in a good way) and has been on the early front end of a couple different musical projects of his own (both solo and collaborative). Tom even mentioned teaming up with some people on a musical project in Florida, so while Marianas is not a band in a true form right now, it may turn out that the scattered seeds of the group end up adding up to something quite a bit larger than it was by itself.
Oh yeah, and since I last worked on things with the group, I picked up a new computer and taught myself a lot about some different programs, mixing, and hopefully music in general. At first, I just tinkered lots and lots without getting much of anywhere, but I’ve been working on several different things on my own and Ryan and I have met up on occasion, slowly pulling together little bits here and there for something that may or may not become a release of some sort down the road.

At any rate, I guess the inspiration for this post was hearing something that we’d been worked on that sounded really good to my ears and made me feel just a little more excited about things than I have been in awhile. It’s nothing that’s close to finished and it might not even be anything that ever sees the light of day, but if you’re a person who works on music or art of any kind, you’ll know what I’m talking about. It was one of those little moments that makes all the trudging and slower passages not seem like such a drag and at the same time gives you a slight kick in the ass towards something that will hopefully be a little more polished.

Stay tuned, and someday I’ll finish something again, I promise.

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