Insomnia Log 9

There’s a humming coming from somewhere in the room. Doesn’t seem like it’s the one lamp on. What could it be?

Sometimes I scroll through my text message logs with individual persons (redundant? seems clear), especially when no new messages come in. Is there a way to link back to old messages and say, “Ha, remember when we said these dumb things?” I suppose a screenshot attached to a new message would work. Would people be interested in that besides me? If the log spans years with few large gaps, you probably have a friendship with someone. Or at least plausible evidence of one. I think these blogs posts are mostly long chat logs with myself.

I haven’t written here in a while, and this was the most likely type of entry to be posted first. I’ve had plenty on my mind to keep me awake, not least of which current events. Some feeling in me feels like it’s waking up (again). It’s shaky and too unclear to name. I’m seeing evidence of it here and there. I wept when driving across a long bridge today, at water with large white and gold (or was it blue and black?) spots on it below tumbling purple clouds. Further weeping at a crashing beach below a yellow ring of sky below those same clouds. My most common exhale lately is a sigh. Puzzles seem fine when there are only a few moving parts, and then you learn the full scope and it’s daunting. Example: making a 10 x 10 x 10 Buckyball cube; mess up the alignment of one row and the whole thing could be ruined! Similar feeling for sorting through and getting rid of my various junk: one box seems to open another, and eventually it’s a good idea to put things away and nothing really happened with the box contents. If only eBay could teleport your items away.

Listening to Courtney Barnett’s The Double LP: A Sea of Split Peas has me wanting to play guitar again. Incidentally, yesterday I found a cassette tape of my recordings that I label “Late Night Radio Hour”, because in between “songs” I pretend to be a radio DJ with a soothing voice. This is normally a secret I save for the third or greater time of meeting someone, so shhhhhhh. I covered Courtney Barnett’s Boxing Day Blues (my favorite song of hers) on that tape, but my guitar Stella is very out of absolute tune (but in relative tune), so I sung, like, three or four half steps down, sheesh.

I want to find more random blog posts of people declaring their favorites of things. I often search for things like “favorite Radiohead Amnesiac song” or “favorite Magic expansion”, but those rarely yield anything. Often I get forums, which I find noisy and unhelpful. I really want to see people with enough courage to just lay down their favorites publicly, and not give a damn about what a “poll” or “top ten list” or “forum discussion” says. I’ll answer my own questions for other searchers with the same questions above: 1) Like Spinning Plates, especially the live version in I Might Be Wrong, and 2) Lorwyn. Bandcamp has a nice feature of marking which song on an album in your collection is your favorite.

While we’re at it, I want to find more random blogs that aren’t about anything really, or ones that take huge tangents to get at what they are trying to say, but it’s such a scenic detour that you don’t mind. An example of the latter is The Pokémon Sprite Guy, whose blog I found two years after it ended, but whose delivery in writing I really enjoy. That’s another criterion: the blog needs to keep being updated! (Hence a stab at writing this very post.) My old friend S and I have scenic detour conversations, and the nonlinear form makes time irrelevant. S had a blog of no-topic musings, but I can’t find it anymore. I think I want more “content” out there that is written by people who just like something, not because they want followers, “highlights”, or money , or something bogus like that. I’m talking something like Geocities, where if you wanted a page about your favorite thing, you wrote it, in your own voice. Now we just click our interests and are served “content”. I’m tired of that. Maybe with enough musings here I’ll have covered all my interests in some detail. I like to read about others’ interests in their own voices, so I’ll pay that forward. For the three of you who know who I am, you might even learn something new.

Mostly I don’t like signing into Facebook, and I don’t want to deal with Messenger. Snapchat makes me feel like I have no life. Twitter is so noisy. I want to asynchronously catch up on my friends by reading stuff like what I’m writing here, but I know that the platforms above are easier to use. They just don’t give me the same sense of knowing someone like you’d get out of reading their writing or having a real conversation with them. I guess they’re not really for that purpose, but it seems shallow to say they are exclusively status-promoting tools. Oh well, I’ll relish the longer form stuff as it comes.

Some more favorite things I have searched for, and my answers to them:

  • Album of the 1990s: The Real Ramona by Throwing Muses, followed closely by King by Belly
  • Radiohead Album: Amnesiac
  • T-shirt brand: So far, AS Colour’s 5002 Paper Tee
  • Painting: The Nostalgia of the Infinite by Giorgio de Chirico
  • Book: If You Want to Write by Brenda Ueland. I have brought this book to a beer festival for re-reading while in line.
  • Pokémon game: Silver
  • Pokémon: Diglett Cubone (but Diglett’s in the top 15)
  • Color on a guitar: Surf green
  • Candy bar: Zzang Ca$hew Cow, Butterfinger does the job for the most part

Infinitely Yours,
Art

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 maters 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,
Art

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.

You can do anything.
The sun’s the closest star, but it’s dang dark,
Art 

Insomnia Log 6

Readers,

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,

Art

Insomnia Log 5

I’ve got the opening theme to Portlandia playing on endless loop in my head. I’m not referring to it by its song name or artist because I learned it first from Portlandia. I’m not current on music, or I might have known about the song back in 2011. Heck, I’m not current on TV either, never having watched the first season of Mad Men and only seeing the first season of Portlandia a week ago because the library carried it.

“Current” is definitely the right word for the state of understanding recent developments, i.e. knowing current events, or knowing what song is currently playing. If all our information is a river (I think it is), those who are current with it swim at pace in the most turbulent and forceful parts (the current) of that body of water. Those who are behind and don’t even think about swimming in that stream (like the author) are just looking at the river and all its swirls and ripples. I happen to look at it all rather wistfully, poetically if my brain is working. I have a list called “Music to listen to” that contains music recommendations from friends (whom I trust more than Amazon or Pandora). I’d say that list has six items added to it for each item checked off, on average. I find staying current pretty stressful. I rent multiple CDs from the library and listen to them while driving. Sometimes my car’s CD player thinks I put in a coaster and beeps at me with the CD halfway out. If it does actually play, it feels like homework if I’m working to stay current. “Have you listened to the new Vampire Weekend?” I did pick it up from the library and I didn’t know what to do with it. Nothing stuck. I don’t even remember how any songs went. I reply to that question with, “Yes, it’d be a fine weekend for a campfire.”

I like unasking questions. “Mu,” said Jōshū.

And yet the album The Campfire Headphase sticks with me, especially the song Dayvan Cowboy, even though the songs are just loops of guitar sounds. Why? I don’t know.

I don’t listen to lyrics. My good friend P will repeat sections of songs we’re listening to when he thinks the lyrics are important. I miss the words until the fifth repeat. I usually just nod on the first repeat and politely say, “Mm. Yeah, that’s a good line.” If I want to be moved by words I prefer reading them on paper. Maybe that’s why I like a lot of music that’s just sounds and no words.

Coming full circle, I only like the part of the Portlandia theme that plays during the show’s opening, i.e. the part without words. Once the robotic vocals come in, I lose interest. Then the song becomes something I “have to” interpret. Beats never need to be interpreted, only felt. Jazz never needs to be interpreted, only felt. I don’t think I can feel spoken or sung word.

Missing: adenosine; reward: $$$
Art

Insomnia Log 4

Hey, just because it’s fun to lie down and look at trees outside my window doesn’t mean I should keep doing it. In fact, last night the sun hadn’t even fully set when I looked out my window and then stopped remembering things, and then I woke up when it rose again. Now I can’t fall asleep. I wish my circadian rhythm knew what a day was.

Do you know that feeling of enjoying communication with someone, and all of a sudden it stops? Where for seemingly no reason you can’t get a hold of a person anymore? Where you even start to doubt yourself for something you said or did? It’s a rotten feeling, like a feeling that something may actually be rotting in you, and I wouldn’t wish it on anyone. If you ever get like this, here’s my advice: drop it, forget you ever knew that person, and be around your friends. Breathe. Drink some water. You’ll be OK. Not everyone likes peaches.

I’m in my car. Sometimes I hang out in here while it’s parked. It’s really quiet in here. It’s even quieter than in my place, because my fridge is loud and always running (so don’t call me for pranks, OK? (The end of land lines has brought the end of prank calling, alas. I used to prank call, and I miss it. There were so many Buttses in my phone book.)), and there’s that loud dripping outside my bedroom window. There is no noise in here. It’s dark. I still can’t fall asleep. I have been able to sleep in my car before. Rest areas are very cheap motels.

Someone expressed surprise to me tonight when I said I still didn’t know what I wanted to do with my life. “At your age?!” I want to be interesting enough that even at age 40 I still don’t know what I want to do. I was starting to express what I would ideally be, but then I got cut off, so I dropped it.

I think this song counts as a love song. What do you think? I could picture it played by a chamber orchestra for a wedding. I was really sad to hear about a friend who became separated recently, when the wedding had a cool nature and blue/green (my favorite colors) scheme, and there was a chamber orchestra. What a nice wedding. Damn shame when the wedding’s so nice and the marriage just isn’t. Then I saw a person in my friend B’s family get wedded by the state (straightforward), but apparently their marriage will be great. Can asexual people get married to themselves for tax benefits? I’m not asexual, but it would be so much easier to be that way. It would also be cool to reproduce by budding.

Hey, did anyone else celebrate Beltane? I gave a quiet “woohoo” at 2014-05-05T13:56-0:00. Between Beltane and Lughnasadh is going to be really nice. I’ll explain more after Lughnasadh.

Sleepless, soon in Seattle,
Art

Insomnia Log 3

Polaris wrote the soundtrack to the ’90s Nickelodeon TV show The Adventures of Pete & Pete. Right now the song “She Is Staggering” from that soundtrack is playing in my head on repeat, especially the lines, “I couldn’t get to sleep/ And then I couldn’t eat/”

My shoulder keeps popping, and I’m not even a street performer.

I want to cook something awesome again, but I’ve been eating leftovers from restaurants and family meals for weeks now.

I wish there were a book titled How to Fall Asleep. I’ve got a few other How to books, and most of them are about drawing, which won’t help right now.

The place I really work (I actually have to work for “The Man” and show up somewhere every weekday morning) has new faces around me all the time. (There are also new bodies attached to these new faces, but a masquerade would be fun every once in a while.) A considerable fraction of faces I only see for a few months. It feels a bit like a claw machine that keeps filling up with new plush toys and leaving some old ones at the bottom, you know, like the bears that have one eye upside down that no one wants. I had a friend in college who could win at the claw machine maybe 50% of the time, which is really good, and he gave away his bounty of plush animals. I took away a few of the crooked-eyed rejects. They needed a good home.

I keep hearing a big drip around my bedroom window. It’s been like that since November. I don’t see water damage anywhere, so I think it’s OK. That drip sound is not regular, so it makes it even harder to sleep on a night like this.

I want some milk, but I think my tummy would get mad at me.

I want a guitar effects pedal that makes airy distortion like the kind I hear in songs by Polaris, The Pretenders, and Throwing Muses, but that’s the only way I can describe it. That’s my favorite guitar sound. I don’t hear it anywhere anymore.

I don’t know if I told you, but I tutor children younger than thirteen in math and other subjects. It’s a “drop-in” tutoring program, so any number of students and subjects could appear. Yesterday the program coordinator and I were the only tutors for about eight students, all needing one-on-one attention. I was disappointed I didn’t figure out how to clone myself in my experiments when I was nine. At one point the coordinator left for the library, asking if I could hold down the fort. I said, “Sure,” but thought, Oh no, I know one of them is going to faint or cry or maybe they’ll get in a fight while he’s gone and I have no training in resolving conflicts between children, oh man what am I going to do?

I love the movie MirrorMask. The main character Helena finds a book called A Really Useful Book in her adventure in the movie. I want such a book right now to give some advice about sleeping, or maybe just help me think about life in general. None of my current books have “useful” in the title. What was I thinking in buying them?!

Yours awake,
Art