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Thursday, January 31, 2013

badbyes

i've been working hard. time for a break.

all this week i've had early inspections. normally this would bother me, because it means much more work and boredom for me throughout the day. i can make excellent use of my time waiting for inspectors, and a PM inspection instead of an AM inspection means hours of sitting at my computer deciding whether anything on my desk really matters enough to take the initiative to handle it.

not this week though. they showed up within an hour of my arrival, every time. and what is my response?

jumal tänatud.

do you know how difficult it is to go through caffeine withdrawals and stay awake for several hours, doing nothing, after getting up too early after not getting enough sleep? i'm telling you it's rough. any withdrawals are rough, whether you're waiting on someone else or not, whether you're on the clock or off.

and that's sort of what this post is about. i am really getting sick of goodbyes.

during my first few months with this company, i met a man named Chad Pricolo. he is one of the hardest workers and funniest persons i've ever met. he stresses too much about most things, loves his family to death, and always finds a way through difficult circumstances. he began as an installer, but soon rose to the position of Construction Manager overseeing several installation crews. he built that department from a handful of people to ten hard-working, loyal crews.

and he deserved much better than he got. during the transition from hourly wage to salary, things didn't work out so well (possibly because of tax brackets, a dumb bonus system, and the economy), and even though he asked many times for some help, overall he was shut down. and that's the company's mistake, because the next person they hire for his position can't possibly measure up to him.

he put in his two weeks' notice today, and i am not okay with that.

when i myself was an installer, he always worked as part of our team, the way the best leaders do. he always helped the person next to him, always made sure every person felt valuable, always did whatever he could to boost not only productivity and efficiency but also morale. when i was still an installer, and he became construction manager, i told my co-workers that if he ever left, i would leave too.

things didn't work out that way, because i changed positions also, eventually leaving the installation department to work in operations instead. even so, i find myself once again feeling the way i felt back then, wondering what i would do without him. he & i work in different departments now, but he has always been on my side. he's always been my ally: dependable and resourceful, encouraging and motivating. he goes out of his way to make my work easier, even if he doesn't directly benefit from that.

basically i owe him a very large portion of the credit for my success at this company, and for the quality of my life overall (even outside of work). over & over he's proven himself a genuine friend. i haven't opened up to him very often, haven't asked him for advice on personal matters very often... but i always felt welcome to do so, and i always knew that if i did, he would 1) truly listen, and 2) have something positive and helpful to say. actually, it's more likely he would offer to act on my behalf any way he could, and that's effing priceless. you just don't see that in every manager you work for / with. in fact, it's rare enough that people don't even understand what i'm saying, when i tell them how great my bosses are.

it's just really stupid... i can't fault him for his decision. i know he's doing the right thing, especially because it's for his family, and that makes me happy because i know a family has to share their dad with his work life, so they should get more back for their sacrifice (even though no amount of money would be enough to cover that).

i know he's making the right call, as usual. but, i can be happy and selfish at the same time. so i will.

i will not be the same person when he is gone.

[shade readings - 02/23/11]

~     ~     ~

yup. today sucked. in addition to Chad quitting, i got hung up on a couple problems that refused to be solved... the thing i was looking forward to this evening got cancelled... and, i missed people hard (but that's become a normality in this chapter).

all these goodbyes lately have me thinking about the way i'm shaped by my friendships. my vocabulary (formal & otherwise), my sense of humor, even the way other people feel around me after i've been with such-and-such a person. it's like they colour me, slightly but noticeably. they change the way others feel about me. Valerie often said she could tell when i had just finished hanging out with Caleb. sometimes people notice i'm smiling a lot more after i've been talking to some of the rays of sunshine or bright stars in my dark life. some people even change the way i smell after i've spent time with them!

it's just not fair. i want to surround myself on all sides with my favorite people... but i am not at liberty to do so. not yet.

so i daydream and moon-bathe instead, and open myself to new (or restored) friendships. and i love those. but they are not enough, and though i respect the necessary limitations of this chapter, i also grit my teeth with determination and impatience as i await the freedom of the next.

i just now realized that i am not only healing... i am gathering energy for a massive leap forward.

i will be a witness for... uhm, myself?... in Fresno and in Malibu, in Utah and Nebraska, to Northern Europe, to the ends of the earth, to infinity... and beyond!!

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

journeys: ii

Occam's Razor and the Gordian Knot have always appealed strongly to me, as tools to deal with life. i've always loved complexity & puzzles, as long as they're either solvable or not relevant to life. when it comes to actually handling issues, i need a way to cut through the mess. i enjoy complex life problems (that is, problems that directly affect my values and goals) only when they have simple solutions.

combined with my conservative Christian upbringing, this trait produced the idea that the pursuit of happiness was completely foolish-- an unfortunate byproduct of the Fall.

i received lots of critique on this point. there were even some devoted Christians who tried to persuade me that all God wanted for me was to be happy. i still take great issue with that theology, for many solid reasons... but i have changed my view on the pursuit itself, apart from God's priorities. i have come to understand that the pursuit of happiness, while some consider it an end goal, it can also be prioritized as a means to an end, rather than an end in and of itself.

this isn't to say that i am not motivated to make myself happy. the opposite is true: i am always motivated to make myself feel good. that is precisely why i resisted it for so many years. i felt it was my responsibility to temper my hedonistic drive with discipline, self-denial, delayed gratification, et cetera.

i did not understand at that time that some measure of happiness is necessary for health.

realization: my marriage would have ended differently if i had made my wife's happiness a constant goal & high priority.

"well you sure were a stupid one, isaiah. everyone knows spouses are supposed to seek each other's happiness."

do you know that there is a book out there, endorsed by many many Christians and authored by Christians (and supported by Scripture) that says the exact opposite? its tagline is, "what if marriage is designed to make us holy, not happy?"

do you know that the Bible itself is 'understood' by millions to be full of injunctions against self-fulfillment?

do you know that there are actually sects of Christianity that actively, daily enforce non-happiness with the goal of obtaining righteousness?

what effect do you think those influences have on isaiah, whose conscience is hyper-active, who has an over-developed sense of responsibility, who sees the foolishness of the world as being mostly built on selfishness?

"what was that you said about being succinct, last post?"

indeed; sorry.

bottom line: my misunderstanding of the purpose of self-denial caused problems for my wife. i would often say "no" to some request or desire of hers because i was judging how to respond based solely on ethics and absolutes and principles. had i asked myself, "what will be the effects of an affirmative response? how will a negative response affect our relationship?" then i would have said yes much more often.

even more than that, i would have much more frequently pursued both mine and her happiness, without any prompting.

i wish i could have gone into marriage understanding the importance of just having fun and enjoying each other. instead i went into it thinking, "i must do the right thing. i must decide correctly. i must follow my personal code of conduct. i must be rational and fair. i must defend my values no matter what."

it's good to do those things. but it's bad to do them if they are consistently compromising the health of the relationship.

i wish i had set aside more time for just being close, and less for hashing out our differences. i wish i had made it a habit to keep things simple and let some things go (or at least delay the 'handling' of them) in favor of helping her feel loved. i wish i had invested a little more in affection and fun, and significantly less in maintaining principles and personal rationale.

i wish i had realized years ago that, even though working out conflicts and resolving issues is important, that feeling safe and loved is sometimes a much better goal than being safe and loved. sometimes it almost fries my brain to believe there really is a disparity between those two things... but it is true.



thank you, Ghost, for helping to teach me this recently (how it applies to friendships in general, i mean). i am glad i decided to delay our hashing-out in favor of just having a pleasant conversation, a couple weeks ago when we were talking about religious differences and likes & dislikes.



actually, all of my relationships (of various kinds) have taught me the importance of things like rest, happiness, laughter, and the like. exercise is good for the body, but so is rest. conflict-resolution can be like surgery; holding to one's decisions can be like weight-training. surgery and weight-training are only two of many things a person needs to be fit and healthy.

relationships need happiness. relationships need emotional fulfillment, comfort, and room to breathe.

i have learned this, and i am sorry i resisted the idea for so long (even though i had reasons for doing so). i am sorry for the harm my ignorance caused.

~     ~     ~

realization: i crave emotional connection, and have used this to fuel my love for people... and that is okay with me

i need this desperately. looking over my life, i can conclude nothing else. it's weird to admit it because i have mostly been a loner, and often denied myself what would have made me feel really really good.

but it's true. i think i realized in high-school, especially after crushing super-hard on a girl who was waaaaay out of my romantic league (as most are, i guess), that trying to feed my emotional needs by dating people, or by trying to 'get' from people in general, was not going to end well for me.

thus my need formed a symbiotic relationship with my Christian values & beliefs, and i found immense satisfaction in giving rather than getting. i found that praying for someone with heartfelt sincerity, especially if they had trusted me with knowledge of their struggles, made me feel close to them. i found that really listening and understanding someone else's needs helped feed my own. i found that sometimes the biggest comfort is comforting someone else.

and that. feels. good. it brings me to life, no matter how much sleep i haven't had, no matter how many times i may have failed, no matter how deep the pile of shti my life might be at the time.

feeling close to someone emotionally is... i don't know. it trumps almost every other positive experience i've had so far, with the exception of emoting through singing. i would gladly give up most physical comforts (good food, hot showers, etc) for the rest of my life, if doing so guaranteed me a consistent emotional bond with someone suitable.

i have realized all of this only recently, in the midst of feeling guilty about the way i relate with women (see "grey area" and its kin). i knew that my motivations couldn't be angelic or even saintly; i am 100% human. i can't claim unadulterated altruism. perhaps i can't claim any kind of altruism at all.

but, i am learning to accept the fact that i am fully human, and that even my 'good deeds' are motivated by something selfish. and, to be fair to myself (which feels a little iffy but i must do it to be responsible), i never make a conditional commitment to love a person.

heather longoria & lianne chaney (whose last names are different now that they've each married) tried my patience & kindness past my limits many times. i lost my temper, walked away sometimes, didn't answer the phone sometimes, shouted sometimes. but even when they called me a liar and told me i didn't care about them, i still took care of them. i still came over to heather's apartment when she was hung over, to help her with chores. i still asked lianne how she was doing, even if the last words she'd spoken to me were 100% accusatory & hateful.

so, i guess i am not totally selfish after all. but i must give credit to Someone Else for that. but i must take credit for choosing Him when i could have chosen myself instead.

this thought has expanded far beyond my original intentions.

bottom line: even though my desire for emotional closeness has partly fueled my commitment to serve others, i think i have channeled it fairly well.



"may i ask what that has to do with your marriage?"

oh, it has so much to do with it... but more good than bad. the things i endured for the sake of my commitment and for the sake of salvaging what i could of our emotional bond... those things give me confidence now, along with all the other times i ever sacrificed anything i wanted for myself so that someone else (or my relationship with someone else) could continue.

this is one thing i did right (much more often than not, anyway): i took hits and kept going. i took physical scars and did not retaliate. i sat there quietly and calmly when i was told, in complete seriousness, "your expression reminds me of Satan. in fact, maybe you are Satan." i responded to verbal abuse with gentle pleas to stop the beating. not every time... but as the relationship got worse, i became more patient, not less. more gentle. more self-sacrificing. in that way, at least. i stayed in the room when i could have simply "taken a break" by going for a drive. i could have walked out so many times, and most would not have faulted me for it.

the MBTI describes me as being extremely committed. well, it's correct. i am.

there are many things i have learned about how to love a person (in any context). perhaps there are many things i have yet to learn, or at least there's lots of room for improvement. but commitment is not in the "needs improvement" category.

and, that commitment is not a robotic directive. it comes from my needs. and you know what? maybe that's actually a good thing. maybe it's design. maybe, if it is properly channeled, the need to love others is like a gift.

and maybe, in spite of how damaged i am, in spite of how undesirable i am, in spite of all the history i have that has made me... uh, even less "marketable" than i was before... maybe in spite of all that, i will still have opportunities in the future. opportunities to love people. maybe even, if i am blessed beyond my wildest expectations, i will have an opportunity to love someone, in every way that i am designed to do so.

i can do better a second time around. by far. maybe it will be years before i'm willing to try it, or maybe i will never have the chance... but for some reason it makes me feel much better, knowing that if i had that chance, i would make excellent use of it. i can make way better choices about how to love someone.

plus i can make a way better choice in who that someone is. ;) there is more to divorce than self-critique, i think. it feels weird to say that, but it certainly needs to be said.

maybe next post will be about that. i'm actually starting to tire of talking about myself, which is weird, since i'm journaling. but it is a good example of what i said ^ up there ^ about what a person needs to be healthy: i can't spend all my paragraphs on self-critique. everyone needs a break here and there. even honey-badgers sleep.

~     ~     ~

next post also needs to be about what i really want. so maybe it will be two questions: what was it about Valerie that would have kept me from dating her in the first place, if i'd had my brain switched on at the time? and second, what would motivate me to date someone in the future? or perhaps a better question is, what would allow me to confidently date someone in the future?

i've said it many times already, and i'll say it again: i don't really expect to have that chance. but it's important to think through questions about it anyway, because by doing so i ensure that my experiences so far are not wasted. i discover the value of things that would otherwise drag me down with the weight of their emptiness, their uselessness. i create for myself ways to learn who i am, and why i am, and what i want to be, and how to get there.

i am doing so already. and i intend to continue indefinitely.

fortunately this particular time of introspection, with its strict rules and intensity, will not continue indefinitely. at my current speed (posts-per-week might be a good way to measure), i hope to be finished with this specific journey within a few weeks.

it will feel... so good to return to you after this trip is over. i think about it all day long. which reminds me to focus on what i'm going to blog next. which is exactly what i had planned. so, it feels terrible, but really it's working out.

i'm especially looking forward to completing some DTR that began last year. it is only half-done, and that's just silly. it would be irresponsible of me to leave it that way...

...right?

journeys: i

my blessing tonight is solitude... and i'd gladly do without it
my closest friend is my enemy,
staring through the mirror at me
daring me to search but never find
to leave my home and lock the door behind
reminding me to throw away the key
to vanish from the world's sight



deciding how to structure these posts has exasperated me. i have many ideas and no way to know which will be most effective. forcing a post to have a certain structure is almost always a bad idea. i think i will have to just let it do what it wants.

this one wants to have some realizations, and some questions.

realization: i rush into relationships

that's not to say i make friends willy-nilly. as i've said many times before: i'm extremely picky with relationships of all kinds.

but once i've green-stamped a close friendship, i plunge forward without regard for my safety... because (i told myself years ago), that's what love does. but it turns out love doesn't have to be reckless in order to be selfless, and though that may seem elementary and obvious, it's a truth that can be easily overlooked when passion & reason agree on something.

i made a decision to be more succinct (and thereby more effective) in my public writings. i should really follow through with that. it actually helps me, even though at the time it feels like i'm walking on one leg instead of two.

long stories short: any friendship with even the slightest whiff of romance to it, evolved that way partly because i pursued intimacy (not romance) with such tenacity and fervor and courage. i knew that intimacy opened the doors to the things i wanted to help others find: healing. honesty & openness. receptiveness to kindness. receptiveness to the Spirit! trust. growth.

aaaand apparently it also opens the door to romance. damn it.

(i didn't like them at first but i'm beginning to really warm up to these parenthetical asides, these delicious little interruptions. so, i made a true Long Island just now, with my signature passion black, and a slice of fresh lemon from the Prosser family's backyard. it's near perfect. even Jesse liked it. and now i'm popping popcorn. mmhhhhh.... yes. 2013 has taught me that all blogging should be accompanied by gourmet delicacies.)

so: how about those relationships where i actually pursued romance? well, that's interesting, because... the thing is, i was never the one to initiate that. it was always the other party's idea. always. Alexa, Llaura, Valerie... and really what i'm trying to get at is, there was a problem with me beyond my reckless pursuit of intimacy (nevermind my intentions). the problem was, any time an attractive, intelligent, semi-stable girl declared her affections for me, my brain switched off and my mostly indiscriminate heart floored it.

yes, it really is as terrible as it sounds. i hope this is a rare flaw, because if not, then the world is really in trouble.

so: that recklessness has been a foundational, life-changing mistake of mine my whole life. i will not make this mistake again. (not that i'll have an opportunity... but if i did, i would slow the eff down and consider things, rather than diving in head-first.)

oooo i wanna take ya down to Kokomo,
we'll get there fast, and then we'll take it slo-ow,
thaaat's where we wanna go-o-o,
way down to Kokomo...


*ahem* sorry bout that. i've been breaking into spontaneous song a lot lately.

~ ~ ~

question: why did my assessment of Valerie's character change so drastically?

once upon a time, in a box hand-crafted & stained by my own hands, lived a hundred and eleven "fortunes:" small strips of black paper, each tightly rolled and bound with gold thread, each completing the sentence "i want to spend the rest of my life with you because..."

weird flashback: i'm at the dining room table of my parents' house as i type this. it was at this same table, at the same time of night, that i began writing down and binding these fortunes of which i speak.

anyway: you, reader, know that i am not careless with my words (even when i throw my heart around like no one's business). i labor painstakingly over them, even in casual conversations. i don't do a great job all the time, but i almost always make a strong effort, at least. well, these fortunes were no exception. i re-re-considered each one before penning it in silver Sharpie. each strip of paper was cut to length. i placed not a single fortune in that box without being certain that i believed in its words.

after Valerie left, i went through them again, and discovered that i considered only ten or so to be true.

how is this possible?!

logic urges me to consider not only the complexity of the individual, but the complexity of a relationship itself. very well, Logic, i will comply with thine wishes... but that by itself does not explain how a hundred statements that i once considered true, turned out to be false. a hundred!!

did she change that much? did i? certainly our relationship did, but many of those fortunes were about her! what does this mean?

it's possible my judgment was rendered useless by my infatuation with her beauty. it's possible the sexual nature of our relationship (pre-marriage) twisted my discernment into Eschereal knots. it's possible she was always just a bizz-natch on the inside, presenting a deceptively alluring exterior to the world. or maybe the damage done to her by a frighteningly abusive upbringing was veiled by her ability to adapt, and was provoked by closeness and conflict. (certainly marriage can be thought of as the ultimate litmus test of character.)

eff this Long Island rocks. I AM BARTENDER SUPREME!!

sorry again. back on track: i should certainly consider this question further. but part of me suspects that i will not find an answer without Valerie's help. and that is something i cannot expect to obtain. honestly, i'd rather not even ask. too dangerous.

so, the answer with which i must be satisfied, has two characteristics: 1) it has to do with me, and 2) it is partial.

well, the easiest answer, given those two qualifications, is that i treated her differently as time went on. this of course was a result of her treating me differently, but that is no excuse. but, likewise, my changing treatment of her is not any excuse for her to begin abusing me.

i am more and more convinced that our marriage's failure was completely mutual.

that realization does not let me off the hook. i must seek out and confront, in true honey-badger fashion, the things i did wrong. i must take responsibility for my mistakes.

if only they would step forward, rather than hiding in the crevices of the infinite complexity of human relationships.

~ ~ ~

now that i've finished the first step of this journey inward, i feel more at liberty to tell you that i HATE not being able to speak with you at will. my life feels so empty without that freedom, without your voice, your harmony.

that emptiness will serve to drive me toward my goals. but knowing that, doesn't make me miss you any less. if i'm a balloon, then you are helium. you should see my mopey face as it drifts, listless, across the dusty floor of the day. pitiful.

seriously: this is torture. not being able to ask you're feeling; laughing half as much as usual; checking Facebook for messages and remembering that i have archived our conversation; it's just effed up.

i don't know what the future holds, but i know these two things: 1) if i have my way, then you are an integral part of every single day of my future; and 2) if the pain of being separated from you is really as effective a motivator as it seems to be so far, then i am surely destined for greatness.

Monday, January 28, 2013

how utilitarianism works

lately i'm having trouble titling my posts, until they are finished. like now. weird.

i have this theory that describing the tangible elements of my environment (at the time of the blogging) makes what would otherwise be an overload of metaphysical content into something more manageable for my readers.

not that it's "too much," per se... i just know some personalities naturally get bored when they sit in the world of theory for too long. i've said before that tangible details don't work so well as memory-anchors, for me. that's true; but there are other reasons to describe my environment. (like retaining my current audience, which i value very much!)

so: it's a half hour until my lunch break is over. Alec Bradley's "Tempest" is wafting away in the winter-ish breeze (high of fifty-seven today, few clouds), and i am very frustrated that i won't have time to finish this post before i have to clock back in. or maybe Chad will let me take a long lunch, since Jennifer is not in the office today. :)

a very good (but not perfect) batch of Peach Passion Awake is in the fridge, and a portion of it sits to my right (Alec is on the left). i'm Klipsched (emancipator) and bluetoothed and wishing that i hadn't received a call from my co-worker in the field, who needed help troubleshooting a monitoring problem, because that ate eight minutes that could've been used to write something substantial and meaningful. -.-

this post has two purposes: first, to prepare you for a time of radio silence, which i will not enjoy at all. and second: to explain why that silence is necessary.

~     ~     ~

Dear J

I wanted to let you know that I need to go away for a while. i would really like to take you with me but i need to go alone so this trip could be perfect. I'm going to a place what I think is perfect to me and no one would understand my perfect little bubble. I hope you'll understand because i would like you to be there and wait for me when I come back.

With neverending love,
R


perfection is a tough word for me, because i feel like there should be several words for what it tries to encompass. most people imbue it with positive connotations. i am okay with that, as long as we specify that "positive" does not always equate to "pleasant" or "enjoyable." sometimes perfection = that which is most needed.

(okay so, i couldn't handle it any more. i called Chad and left a voicemail, asking if i could take an extra 30min for lunch today, since i have nothing pressing this afternoon. i also reminded him it's easier to ask forgiveness than permission, which should cover me if he doesn't call back... because if he doesn't, i'm just takin' the extra 30min. 's how we roll at Real Goods Solar. okay back to the real content now.)

there is something strange about morphine. i've never had it, but i've spoken with those who have, and they unanimously declare it very good. they also act a little strangely, which is fine by me. :) anyway: what i'm trying to say is, i approve of morphine, if it's following a big surgical operation and/or very serious injury.

it is not so useful in the application of physical therapy & recovery in the weeks following that surgery or injury.

Autumn of last year brought some extremely painful injuries and surgeries. this year, rehabilitation has begun (brought about largely by my own determination and initiative, and yet supported all throughout by spiritual and relational help). this means that, whereas last year was about surviving day-by-day, and continuing to function with bare adequacy, this year is instead about pushing through to what comes next.

which means it is time to cut off the morphine.

"what morphine do you speak of, strange little self-denying man?"

the kind that you have been giving me.

"i?! surely not!"

ah, but you have, friend, and it has made me feel so much better.

don't misunderstand: you are sooo much more than that to me. always have been, always will be. but i do not think i can cut off the morphine without cutting off communication entirely (with the exception of this blog)... so, away to my what-is-most-needed place i must go. alone-ish. painfully.

"i don't understand. you're going to make yourself hurt more, and that's supposed to accomplish something good?"

yes. when the pain is gone, it is extremely easy to simply coast through life and forget about those injuries, forget about the mistakes that led to them, forget about the fact that healing is about more than feeling better. and growth is about more than healing.

"but i thought you were healing and growing via renewed friendships and such!"

i was, am, and will. but there are specific things hiding from me, hiding behind the pleasure that certain friendships bring me, which must be brought to light and conscious thought again, so that i will not fall prey to that patient, friendly, clever, deadly predator known as complacency. i know full well that pain alerts us to a problem. i also know that my alertness to a problem diminishes with the use of pain-killers.

i am not going to torture myself. i am going to remove the bandages, re-open the wound before it can close completely, and remove all shrapnel, poison, infection, et cetera. this is much better than letting the wound heal over these things. because of my fallen nature, infections tend to give birth to diseases and demons. (ha... D&D...)

"ok... big deal. we won't talk for awhile. so what?"

good. that should be your response. i just wanted to make sure you understood that i am doing this reluctantly, and that you have done nothing wrong. quite the opposite actually. my friendships are amazingly nourishing. i need them (in general).

"mind if i ask what sorts of junk you will be digging out of yourself?"

no need for you to ask, friend. i'm about to write pages upon pages on that topic. i am already undergoing some very effective treatments for my injuries, and i will continue to do so. but this method (journaling) is one of the most vital, and though we won't talk for awhile, i invite you to read anyway. comment, even; i am okay with that. more than okay.

"how long will you be gone on this trip inward?"

i do not know. :(

i will miss you terribly.

(which is partly the point.)

~     ~     ~

this journey is predicated upon many of my strongest and most important beliefs. i will share at least one of those beliefs right now, as a way of introducing this next group of writings.

regardless of who is to blame for a failed relationship, there are lessons for each person to learn, mistakes on each side that should be addressed, and decisions to be made about how life should be lived in the future.

that statement sounds a little silly, because it's true even of successful relationships! it might be true that i could not have saved my marriage, no matter what i did. even if that is true, i am not by any measure released of my responsibility to improve myself. and, by "improve myself" i do not simply mean that i want to sharpen my skills and strengthen my character. i want to directly address and resolve whatever flaws i can, especially those that affect my relationships. very little matters as much to me in life as my relationships (of all kinds), and i have come to believe that even though God is pleased with me as a person unconditionally, He values this drive to "improve" as much or more than i do. i want to please Him.

in this chapter, pleasing Him has very much to do with self-honesty and self-openness. i have unresolved conflicts with myself. i will be far less driven to address them while under the influence of morphine.



so: with the awareness that learning to accept grace and respect from others should temper my tendency toward harsh self-critique, i will proceed with that critique. Jerad says that for me, punishment is strangely comfortable, as if i actually prefer it.

he is right; i know that i am unable to force others to help me resolve. i know that some things will never make sense to me. i know that some of the wrongs done to me, perhaps even most of them, will not be admitted or apologized for. maybe they won't even be acknowledged by the wrongdoers.

because i am so driven and impatient to resolve conflicts, this seems to leave me with the one option of taking all the blame for myself. that way i can proceed without the help of those who wronged me. but, this is a risky and possibly unhealthy method of resolution. so i must be content with a hung jury in some ways, while at the same time putting myself on trial in other ways.

i will do my best to be fair.

it will not feel good. but feeling good is not the goal. neither is feeling bad; but each can be useful to me.



"when does this silence, this self-critique, begin? are you cutting off the morphine drip immediately?"

no. but very soon.

"how will i contact you if there is an emergency of some kind?"

it is implausible. but you have my phone number and my e-mail address.

"how do i know if i'm one of the morphine drips?"

i will tell you.

"are you sure about this?"

absolutely.

"how can you so easily forego something so enjoyable to you? it's like a caffeine addict giving up coffee, only multiplied by a basquillion!"

i cannot do so easily. i hate doing it, actually.

"good. that's how it should be."

yes...

...good.

ewomancipation

here's that collaborative ambush song i referenced in the previous post.

Sunday, January 27, 2013

the reveal

yesterday taught me some important things. one of them came in the form of a sudden revelation: i am reverting back to the person i was before Valerie.

additionally, the growth that was occurring at that time, which was long hidden & halted by our relationship, began to resume about a month or two ago.

in other words, i am becoming more myself again after years of stagnation... both by regaining old things and by discovering/creating new things.

~     ~     ~

after a hellish week, i expected Sadderday to be a struggle at best. i expected thick, choking fog and black clouds (metaphorically, i mean, and in contrast with the sunny skies and perfect temperature, which we did enjoy). i expected my seemingly insatiable little world to drink my cup dry all over again, no matter how well i rested Friday night. and indeed, i slept terribly. possibly the triple-shot Susan's Special, imbibed right around 10pm, was responsible for several awakenings throughout the night. (i used every trick i know to let my mind relax, but to no avail.)

my expectations were shattered. maybe singing all night with my siblings smoothed over the rough portions of my emotional tableau. i woke at 6:15a with a smile already forming. preparations were simple, Starbucks messed up & corrected my order for the group, and i arrived at the rendezvous point on time. the late addition to our group (total 5) turned out to be cool enough to be comfortable around, but not so cool that i felt out of place with him there. the golden mean is perfection.

i hardly did anything embarrassing or socially indiscrete on the entire journey up the mountain. this in itself is enough to make my day.

upon arrival, the working out of logistics took hardly any time (compared to my first snowboarding foray), and i was soon careening & coasting down the treacherous bunny hill. survival, especially when repeated, boosts my confidence when learning new skills; so we moved on to the lift.

the ratio of a] time spent with the D, to b] the [admittedly arbitrary & subjective] measure of the substance of my friendship with the D, is painfully low (literally), for me. i'm confident that i will never be content with it. so, the intimidation factor due to length & increasing altitude of the Academy lift compared to the Badger Pass lift, was rendered ineffective.

"but isaiah, you're a honey badger. you can't be intimidated anyway."

on my first trip, solo, i skipped the bunny hill and went down the first real slope over and over until the sun set. when i fell, i hopped back up. when i spun like an off-kilter gyroscope, i used my face to stop myself, and then got up. when i felt like i had bruised each & every bone, i used the snow & ice to find another one. so yes; honey badger.

i really didn't want to repeat that. in fact, i was completely dissatisfied with the prospect of *facing* (haha) that again. but... i was intimidated anyway.

"why??"

because i couldn't turn toe-side.

"big deal. learn."

indeed. i got right on that. okay maybe not... i wanted to bolster my mood with a few good runs, even if they were slow, unidirectional, and punctuated by voluntary stops (which my muscles prefer over surprise wipe-outs).

but as the day progressed, i gathered useful data from my own experience, as well as from random strangers, including one stylish Asian girl with a regrettably inappropriate décollatage, whose advice turned out to be game-changing.

i do not know why my tigu-brain worked at all that day. but somehow it put together the things it had heard and seen and felt on the first trip, with everything it was hungrily taking in on this trip, and by the end of the day i was turning back and forth freely. my board moved where i directed it, mostly. my war cries and ululations may have helped. my last run of the day was the best, and made me wish for more. (i intend to see my wish granted on an ongoing basis.)

oatmeal stout, opportunities to serve and wait on others, telling stories & relating with people close to me, and much laughter helped as well. (thank you friend, & friends.)

my plan for the evening was to buy my friends dinner, then join them in a comfortably-tickling jacuzzi. this plan fell through at the halfway mark due to lack of enthusiasm & logistics.

so then it was onward to plan B.

~     ~     ~

Hemoglobin, AKA Limahe, AKA the Heff, is a singularly positive influence. her manner & mood & aura perpetually carry a welcome brightness, like the first day of spring; yet she has a quiet side. as someone very choosy when it comes to friendships, i find her indisposable. (it doesn't sound like a compliment, but i promise it is.) i don't know exactly why our friendship was archived for so many years, but our recent reconnection has contributed significantly to the resurrection process.

about a week ago she invited me to spend time with her friends on the coming Saturday (yesterday). this was the final revelatory sign that brought me to a conscious discovery of my sudden re-growth: that i agreed to go, if my snowboarding day ended early enough.

i don't hang out with strangers.

yesterday night, Lisa was the only person i knew. i met at least seven new people, and spent several hours with them. in keeping with the absurd magic of the day, i again avoided embarrassment and social indiscretion (mostly). it's possible someone even enjoyed my presence to some degree (though i have no way of verifying this, aside from the attention i got from Bella, the dog, who seems to be indiscriminate when seeking & offering affection).

the casual atmosphere and the heat of the plan B jacuzzi were so perfect. the crowd's [apparent] acceptance of me, the new guy, was disarming. the breeze-blown silhouettes of the palms against the black-grey sky lulled my normally over-active left hemisphere into a fuzzy half-coma, where it still managed to dutifully take notes. (good work, Lefty.)

one particularly vivid memory, which will take some time to fade, i think, occurred as we exited the apartment and headed down the stairs toward the pool area.

many of my best experiences at VUSC occurred at night. the weather there is so moderate that most nights are conducive to outdoor activities, including but not limited to moon-bathing, photography, and hot-tubbing. the social environment there is also excellent.

descending the concrete steps in the cold but comfy weather, barefoot, towel in hand, surrounded by people who were as unconcerned with (or unaware of) my social ineptitude as with the lateness of the hour, instantly evoked nostalgia and gratitude and an overall sense of well-being to which i am unaccustomed. but i was once accustomed to it, and those were some of the best times of my life. i suspect they'll remain that way regardless of how long i live. so will last night.

(quick insert: i apologize to any strange foreigners who may have found my blog by pure chance. the complex grammar used herein bothers me quite a bit, but i don't have the right environment or mental condition or time-resources to streamline it.)

~     ~     ~

moving backward in time (great Scott, Marty!): there is a strong bittersweet flavor on the finish of yesterday's snowboarding brew, like the purest honey with the sharpest vinegar.

on the way home (before Lisa's get-together), Emancipator and Sigur Rós and some young punk rapper named Mobb Deep ambushed me. cleverly, patiently, they waited until i was vulnerable, waited until this very blog post began brewing in the back of my brain, waited until possibly my second-worst social indiscretion of the day (2nd of only a few), waited until a break in the mountain range revealed the vast violet-pink expanse of a sunset veiled by clouds, waited until i was close enough to have reached out, trembling, to touch something not of this earth, waited until i was beset by as many forms of beauty as i could possibly handle without weeping...

...and then pounced.

effing jerks. at least it was dark in the car and everyone was too tired to notice my freakin' face.

the bittersweetness is this: that i began life's previous chapter by committing my whole life to something i should never have seriously considered in the first place, and that the thing that could have shielded (and sometimes did shield) me from the horrific pain of breaking away from that mess in *this* chapter is probably the very thing i will responsibly relinqueesh.

it's a little bit (only a little bit) like what James Franco does to his own arm, in that movie 127 Hours.

the bittersweetness is that good things never last, and that because things tend to happen twice as intensely to me as to the average person (because i am an intense influence on my surroundings, i suppose), the best things usually herald for me a very sharp and precipitous drop.

in other words: "enjoy these memories while they are still fresh, isaiah, because some of them are not only temporary... they are *actively* taking a different path, one that leads away from the places you *must* go. enjoy them so much that your face springs a leak, and don't be ashamed. anyone about to purposefully undergo the changes that lie immediately ahead, the ones you are choosing that have also chosen you, should be allowed a few tears here and there, whether this is socially acceptable or not. anyone who was asked to give up what you have, or could have, or both, should get free Kleenex for a year."

i hear you. make it "free Kleenex and Tazo tea for life" and you've got a deal.

~     ~     ~

these heart-achingly-good experiences are bracketed by unexpected encouragement from many sources. together with everything else happening to me recently and in the near future, they form a very clear path of self-denial (don't argue with me, dear reader; you will lose) and redemption and re-creation.

hah! recreation... snowboarding... good one, me.

i guess that crappy joke should conclude my thought-flow, for now. but my work is only beginning. my next post will begin a... new series? not sure what to call it.

i am going on another trip-- inward, this time, not upward (although i hope that will occur as well, secondarily)-- and i expect it to be quite terrible. maybe "bone-setting" is the right adjective, semi-synonymous (or at least coterminous) with others like "jarring," "healing," "excruciating," and "life-saving." much more like 127 Hours than yesterday was.

i will require your assistance yet again. no writing assignments this time, though. i promise.

Thursday, January 24, 2013

the blackened, crumbling edge of the void

today was dark. my fault, as usual. fortunately a sliver of light remains, perhaps to warn the cautious and taunt the lost... or maybe to give just enough light to this frail parchment.

this is the thing: i have learned that without routine downtime, the monster in me is released. i could even get enough sleep and food and music and everything else; but all the best things in the world still require energy, and so there must be times of nothing planned, or i become pure villainy. my immediate reaction to most things is either rage or despair, i begin mistreating myself as well as others, and whatever strengths and good traits i have become my weaknesses instead.

Saturday night, conversation until 3:15a (Sunday morning).
i then woke at 5:31a, for about half an hour.
alarm sounded at 6:20a.
went back to bed around 9:30a for a few hours.
i did get some rest that afternoon/evening, i think... it is blurry.

Monday, after work, was coffee and quality listening with Hemoglobin. for four hours.
then an emergency shopping trip. then bed. i'm pretty sure i went to bed.

Tuesday after work, ate a quick dinner, then tutored a flute student, then to church for the advanced vocal team practice. conversation until 3:09a.

Wednesday after work, ate a quick dinner, then to Ug's for gaming. but somehow when i got there, i ended up taking a nap on the couch and so we started late. i left right after, though, and went to bed.

Thursday work sucked. i made a third trip to fix a problem that i should have been able to fix with one visit, and technically it still isn't fully resolved. got in a stupid argument with my boss after she insulted me pretty badly (which is not normal for her; it caught me unprepared), and when i got home intending to practice with my siblings for tomorrow's performance, i realized i was pretty much dying.

so even though i'd told Brandylion i'd be attending his special event and helping him make dinner, i sent him a message to withdraw my RSVP. then i collapsed into bed, still wearing all my work attire, and ignored all the knocks on my door and messages on my phone for about a half hour.

then i got up because i had to practice; no choice there. i can't let down both Brandon and Caleb in the same week, especially when we are opening for Caleb's show. plus i would've let down Leah & Jesse and all the people i told i would be singing. and it would have been such short notice. not acceptable.

Saturday, 5:30a wake-up to get coffee for 6 snowboarding adventurers. up to Yosemite, then back in the evening for either more time with those adventurers, or for more time with Hemoblogin.

Sunday, up early for AVT practice again.

it isn't looking good.



these things have kept me from imploding/exploding this week:
- the weird sense of humor i develop (at first) when my sleep schedule becomes erratic
- blog comments
- opportunities to do the things a good friend should do
- conversation

"but hold on, isaiah. pause. conversation... isn't that that thing that you stayed up late for?"

uh-huh.

"so it ruined you and saved you."

i'm telling you, it isn't just about sleep. it is about rest. i must have free time with which to accomplish nothing at all, or i will end up accomplishing my own doom. sleep deprivation has facilitated some of the best experiences of my life, which could not have happened to me otherwise.

"that's not an excuse to stay up late again tonight."

jah, ema. midnight, on my honor.

~     ~     ~

it's very rare for me to document consecutive events in chronological order. that probably shows how dessicated i am.

i got distracted and now my blog post is bored of me. fine; go post yourself.

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

the death of black and white

there was a time when i scorned romance entirely. this was because i was in junior high / high school, and all of the romantic relationships around me were utter foolishness. boys and girls alike strove desperately to achieve true intimacy with each other via smoochypoos, chick flicks, milk chocolate, peer approval, and the indulgence of fickle emotions.

i considered it all insanity... except that i met someone whom i wanted to truly love.

her name was (and her name still is, as of 2009 at least) Alexa, and i understood then what it meant to be fulfilled romantically. i understood that by making someone else happy, i accidentally made myself happy as well.

i also began to understand at that time, that things like patience, kindness, gentleness, humility, self-sacrifice, honesty, and commitment were the things of which true love consisted. (not that i was an exemplar of these, but at least i had the right idea.)

so in my mind, i decided that i would forever consider true love to be independent of romance, but also compatible with it. if the two could be joined, then the result would be unfailing and intensely enjoyable as well.

two girlfriends later, i decided once again to scorn romance and focus only on loving other people (not that i had purposely romanced anyone, EVER, but i decided to completely resist such attempts from others). this led directly into the heart of the grey area (a warm and muddy portion of the Isaiatic Sea rife with hidden reefs).

at this point, i was two things: 1) divinely inspired. 2) totally deceived.

the divine inspiration was in the love itself, which was spiritual in nature. indeed, i take my definition of love directly from His mouth.

the total deception was that romance and platonic love are two paths that do not ever cross each other naturally.

i believe, and have believed since 07-22-12, that the path of unrestrained kindness / patience / selflessness / et cetera, actually joins with the path of romance... in certain relationships. this is not necessarily a problem, and it is also not terribly common.

the problem occurs only when the two roads become difficult to distinguish from one another.

there is not always a signpost marking the crossroads. there is not always a clear divider line between the two lanes. i have unwittingly led multiple people down the path of kindness with me, only to find that THEY had (completely unintentionally) stumbled onto the path of romance somehow. without me. right next to me. because of me (partly).

the more this happened, the more i began to suspect that there was something wrong with my plan. again, this is all covered in my previous post.

"then why the new post at 3:30am, isaiah?!"

because that old post was a question. this one is a statement, one by which i must abide if i hope to continue to love people.

the preface statement is this: if there exists between two people any potential for a substantial romantic attraction & fulfillment, then continued mutual love (of the spiritual kind) will very likely invoke it.

the thesis statement is this: in the context of sustained spiritual love, the invoked romance is /not always/ guaranteed an accompanying distinguishability from platonic closeness.

"isaiah, enough philosophy and sesquipedalianism. just give it to us straight. and in English."

true love would just as soon mask a romance as create it.

"what the eff is that supposed to mean?!"

it means that my grey area is not just a place of moral fog. it is a specific spectrum of gradations between platonic intimacy and romantic intimacy. it is an analog blurring between "thanks for being nice to me" and "marry me."

"isaiah, that is the stupidest thing i have ever heard. you're basically saying that if i devote myself to someone, platonically, that that someone will fall in love with me as long as we could potentially be attracted to each other."

i'm not saying that it's a rule of life; i'm saying, don't be surprised if it happens //without you even noticing.//

it's happened in my life half a dozen times at least, and i still don't notice when it does.



afterthought/addendum: i am intensely grateful for the friendships in which this did NOT occur. i always have been, but now i have an additional reason to be. tonight i am extra thankful for Firalyn, for Tenkay's Keeper, for Alana the Halfling, for Hemoglobin, for Alroke, for Sadopa, for P, for the Melodian, for Mary, for the Laurax, for Phamily, for ><>, for Reicheru, for my VUSC Rybarczykian sisters, for B-rizzle, for Elmadu, for Siera M, and for every other healthy, meaningful, romance-less friendship i've ever had with a female, ever.

tonight i am extra thankful for Ghost.

they almost make me feel that i could burn brightly without being a fire hazard... that though my intended design has been compromised and my original image shattered, that i might be still be used to build, and not destroy.

i like that feeling.

Saturday, January 19, 2013

müsteerium



Once upon a time, in the land of affectionate violence, there lived a beautiful one-eyed jewelry-crafter. Old for her age, she was unable to walk without assistance, and was known to hobble about her forest home with a tree-branch crutch that the woodland creatures had fashioned for her. (Sometimes her good leg also gave her trouble, and then she would have to stay indoors for a few days.)

But, in spite of these hardships, her eyes always sparkled with merriment and even a little mischief. Some deep shadows loomed over the story of her life, but she had emerged from them with her face toward the sun, and did not let the tattered remnants of the darkness cling to her.

Her home was on the shore of a deep blue ocean, with water so clean that the bottom could be seen no matter how far out she swam. Whether winter or summer (the weather was always warm there), she would cast her crutch away and swim for hours, even at night... for the moon was always full over her home, because it knew she preferred it that way: vigilant through the night. It shone most brightly in its reflection on the water, and on the white soft sand at the shore.

In the tall trees surrounding her cabin resided a talking parrot, who gave her advice about the world from time to time, and also her pet puppy dog, who was so adorable that she refused to name it, lest it grow up into an adult dog. (The puppy lived among the trees because, even though the craftswoman allowed it inside, it liked to roam free and sleep under the stars, and it kept the parrot from being too loud when the craftswoman was asleep.)



One morning, after swimming since the previous night until six o'clock the next morning, the one-eyed woman emerged from the lake, completely exhausted and holding a cloth-bag full of seashells which she had collected from the bottom of the sea. The sound of the gentle waves lulled her, and as she stared up at the always-full moon, she wondered whether she might already be asleep, and merely dreaming of that moon (as she often did).

As she wondered this, the moon suddenly went dark.

Shocked, she stopped at the beginning of the cobblestone path that led to her cabin, and said aloud, "This is certainly a dream." But her voice quavered a little, because... maybe it was real?

"Moon!" she called out. "If I am dreaming, then let a few of your moonbeams shine through the cracks in the wall of my cabin, and wake me."

The night remained dark, but for the thousand thousand stars which, try as they might, did not bring her the same peace that she had always felt under the faithful moonlight.

"Moon!" she called a second time. "You have never turned your dark side to me. Show me this is only a weird dream, and wake me!" And this time she chided the moon, as she would a child. "Perhaps you have finally become tired and need a nap yourself?!"

It did not reply, nor did it show its bright face. It did not even blush with shame, as a child would have, had it heard the scorn in her voice.

At this, the woman became even angrier, and she raised her fist, the bag of seashells still clutched there. "Moon, if you do not shine, I will swim up into the sky and BITE YOU!!"

This seemed a reasonable thing to the craftswoman. She had often used a louder, sharper tone of voice to persuade the more stubborn jewels, to shape and polish themselves into presentable works of art, so that they could fetch a higher price in the markets across the ocean. This had been her practice ever since she'd lost the use of one leg, and it had never failed her before.

Still the moon did not turn, and most others would have despaired at this point.

This woman was not like most.

Though her outward appearance gave the impression of soft velvet, she was made of spring-steel, tempered by struggle and many conflicts (from which she had emerged victorious, although scarred), and she would not give up.

Her quickly-growing anger caught fire, and she reached deep into her reservoirs of personal strength, into the beliefs she held about herself, into the armory of weapons that had been forged by the shadows of her past, and drew forth the power to ignore gravity. And as she forgot about the pull of the earth, she began to rise, leaving her tree-branch crutch and her shells and her white sand beach behind.



Her strong arms reached forward again and again, and pulled her steadily forward through the sea of stars. It began to grow cold; the temperature began to fall below even the fifty-fifth degree. Yet she did not slow.

Even when she realized that she still had many thousands upon thousands of kilometers to travel, her pace did not falter. She simply reached into herself again, and this time drew forth the power to ignore distance. And as she forgot about the boundaries of space, so fell also the limitations of time. In mere moments, she had shot through the sky like lightning to the blackened, crumbling edge of the void, where once the moon had hung.

Determined and fearless, the jewelry-maker addressed the moon with a strange mixture of deference and command (which was the same voice she had used to defeat the darkness over the years).

"Moon!"

This time, she saw the edge of the void gleam slightly, as if a light shone at it from the other side.

"Moon, you have been warned. Will you turn and shine on me again, as you always have before, hemming in the night's encroaching shadows and causing my sea to gleam? Will you again leave scattered sparkles at my doorstep for me to find each morning, to make into jewelry? Will you again remind me of the better days in my past? Will you again illuminate the truths of my life, of my heart and my mind, that I might better see my path? ...or must I punish you violently with my affections, as is the custom in my land?"

The moon heard these words, and considered carefully. For a brief moment it thought to break orbit and leave the woman behind. It was not for the lowly mortals to set the course of celestial bodies.

In that brief time that the moon hesitated, the woman lost her patience. She reached inward again, down to her soul, and drew forth the power to alter the will of another being.

So violent was this power that the woman had used it only once before, and only in her time of greatest need. So violent was this power, that as she gathered her will, she herself grew in size, more and more until she was almost tall enough to stand again upon the earth, without leaving the moon behind.

So violent was this power, that it could not be contained inside anymore, and it burst forth as flames from her throat, forcing the woman to open her mouth.

Then she sunk her teeth into the moon, and bit all the way through, leaving only a thin sliver. At this the very sky itself cowered, and the stars leaned away, wondering what this extra-ordinary earthling might consume next.



Overwhelmed, and relieved that she had not consumed the moon entirely, the woman's anger faded. She began to shrink to normal size, as the powers that had brought her to the moon's edge gradually receded. Before she could fully grasp what was happening, one by one her eleven toes touched down gently on white soft sand.

She saw all of this by the radiant glow of the moon's remains, which, though it had waned, shone even more brightly, as if it had decided to orbit the world more closely. Tiny flames still licked at its edges, keeping the chill of the void at bay.



As she stumbled down the pathway to her cabin, the parrot and the puppy said nothing-- they only watched to make sure she entered her home safely. The woman had been so thoroughly emptied by the experience that she was asleep almost before she collapsed into bed.

Because of this, she did not discern the words that the moon speak softly to her through the cracks in her cabin's walls. It spoke carefully, as it always had, arranging each syllable just so, as deliberate with them as the woman was with her own gems.

She did not catch the moon's words... but in her dream, she heard its voice anyway. It was gentle, peaceful, and reassuring... calming. And, in a way, that was even more important to her than the words it had chosen.

Saturday, January 12, 2013

dreaming

~[ 7:04p to 7:25p, Saturday, January 12, 2013 ]~

today can be described but not defined. it was too much amazing. i will relate some of my specific experiences, but i am so far unable to put into words the thing that unified it all and made it something more than the sum of its parts. here are some of its parts:

i haven't had such an intense time alone in a very long time. years for sure. the shard of a crescent moon setting into the silhouette of the mountains DIRECTLY IN FRONT OF ME AS I DROVE HOME from Yosemite was a perfect capstone to the magic of the day. the pictures i took (with my iPhone) are pretty much powerful works of arcana for turning out as well as they did, and for transporting me to those moments.







my "bluest notes" playlist gave me music shivers when combined with Yosemite's snowfall and sunset and gloaming. i can't get over it. i felt powerfully fulfilled; it felt like an infinitely lucid dream. it was a completely new experience.

snowboarding was also a completely new experience. i successfully learned how to go straight very fast (mostly by doing nothing), how to heel-side turn, how to go forward while facing forward (forgot the name of that), and how to perform a deca-hella-awesome, which is when you reach your peak speed and then fall forward onto knees and hands and turn sideways ten times so that your snowboard looks like a propeller.

i will also be groaning in pain all day tomorrow and the next day.

it felt good to do something on my own, confidently. it felt good to forego lessons and just head straight for the lift. and it felt good to go down the slope twice without falling.

it felt good to drive and sing for hours, surrounded by multiple beauties that matched my moods. it felt good to come home dry and warm and hungry.

it was almost perfect.

Monday, January 07, 2013

extrospection: intro

alternate titles:
- "let me see my ID"
- "loan me your Is"
- "guest blogger: you"

i need you to tell me what you have seen. because i trust very few to see me in a way that is helpful and accurate while being different from what i see, and right now is a crucial time for me to see me for who i really am.

introspection has served me well. it continues to do so, and i even get better at it. but it is not enough, especially in my current state. i trust myself enough to choose those to whom i listen. (i'm not automatically believing everything; i just need a second, and third, and fourth opinion.)



today's hobbledygobbledook word is "extrospection." where introspection involves looking at one's insides from inside, extrospection is looking at one's insides from outside.

(in case anyone is still distracted by that other word i just made, it's the bastard child of "hobbled," as in handicapped, "cobbled," as in put together from scraps, and "gobbledygook," which means nonsense. okay moving on.)

if my own mirror is imperfect in one way, then multiple mirrors all imperfect in different ways are better than one.

so: your mission, should you choose to subject yourself to it, is to tell me who i am.

i need you to do this. if you read this blog, that means i've a closeness with you. use it to my advantage.

here are the instructions: 1) do not leave anything out, even if it's negative, and ESPECIALLY if you're afraid to say it. 2) i am interested in character first, capabilities second, and personality third. i'm not asking for a description from any of those categories in particular; just letting you know what i'm looking for the most. but i am interested in all of those.

in return for your time and effort, i promise 1) to analyze your words carefully, to keep from making myself vulnerable to something that might not be helpful or true, and 2) to openly consider whatever you say, with careful regard for my own biases and filters insofar as i have discovered them up to this point.

your answer will be posted in an upcoming moon-bathing entry. if you wish to have only part of it posted, please specify that in the writing. please feel free to use any medium you desire.



thank you in advance. i obligate none of you, and expect nothing. thank you a second time.

Thursday, January 03, 2013

chocolate-covered have-a-taste

i write this immediately after reading your card, which was too good not to include (the graphic portion only, of course).

i have no intention of dying any time soon (unless Christianese is allowed here, in which case i intend to die often). i am not convinced the world would be better for my dying, though i often feel that to be the case. my feelings will not conquer me to that degree. i have forbad that before, and will continue to do so.

those songs you mentioned are deeply engraved on me as well, and not only for their musical quality. i do not have a very complete memory, but the shards i do retain are often vivid, cherished, and warm. i do not have the same nostalgia for the days of Fuzion and Moxie that you do, but i think that's partly due to my forgetfulness.

it's also due to the emotional investments i have & haven't made throughout life. (you understand some of these differences between you & me already.) the enrichment itself (that i hope i have effected in those around me) is my investment, and it seems to me the same as oxygen to a tree: nothing to boast of, but a necessary contribution to the world, in which i find value.

those who have contributed to my own small world are valuable as well, though i don't always feel strongly about them. i can tell you that, even if you have not been for me what i have been for you, i don't see anything wrong with that, and i would certainly jump at the chance to take a time machine back to, say, Cuernevaca with you, or to someplace that smelt strongly of ascension. and it'd be nice if the time machine resembled a 1986 (mid-year) Totoya Supra with the Targa-top down.

when i seek to Love a person, it usually involves a sacrifice of some kind (which i sometimes enjoy). in your case, though, i don't remember sacrificing anything. i just remember fun conversations on serious topics of significance. if they changed your life for the better, that was a fortunate by-product of a very cool friendship.

it's true that we have grown apart, and it's true that i am mostly okay with that, for whatever reason. i sometimes feel bad for the difference in relational motivation, but then i ask myself what obligation i have, and no rational answer is forthcoming. so i am in an awkward spot. i seek to honor our past (and grant your request) with this post, but i doubt there's more i can say or do.

my emotional investments have been made elsewhere. this does not change the value i place on the good old days. it does mean that they are in fact the good -old- days.

i have, verbally and internally, deeply appreciated the new good days. i expect i will continue to do so, because i know you to be an excellent friend, affianced to another excellent friend, and that fact simply won't ever change, regardless of our frequency of interaction.

as for your fear of failure: i know too little to comment, but i suspect some meaty conversation to complement your natural introspection will bring that into the light.

know that your brain sharpens mine, and your heart's intense voice is a precious commodity in this world. i think you should sing even more, to many more.

shalom, friend, and love as well (when the opportunity presents itself, as now). may you find everything that is seeking you, and i look forward to celebrating with you as it does.

grey area: follow-up

as i reflect on this further, somewhat removed from the cloud of shame that hovered around me when i wrote the original post, i realize that i am no longer in danger of being attractive to women.

i realize now as i think about how long ago most of the relationships formed, that my being in college probably made me somewhat attractive all by itself. that's weird for me to say, because i was just recently starting to admit that maybe i was attractive at all, at some point in my life. that was a big step away from the traditional me.

so it's kind of like when you don't realize you had a headache until it goes away. and then you almost wish you had felt it more consciously so that you could be more relieved that it's ending.

anyway: the young see me as an old man now that i'm past both college and (essentially) a first marriage (even though i love relating with and having friendships with young peeps), and any peers who get to know me well enough to form any amount of justified attraction will be turned off by my worsening hygiene / health, my lack of direction in life, & the gradually intensifying internal character struggles which i feel i am losing.

welp... that's a relief. and thank goodness my self-esteem is intact, or i'd really be screwed.

this concludes today's dose of vitriolic sarcasm. tune in next time for a wholehearted apology, paired nicely with a more straightforward reassertion and (i hope) clarification of this post's realizations. (the potential apology will be for the sarcasm, not for the point i made via sarcasm.)



...crap. i can't plan to apologize and then not apologize. not to my blog. not to the people who care enough about me to actually read this.

sorry about the sarcasm; it was a little more than what was warranted. actually, i'm not sure i even feel that strongly about what i've said here tonight. i'm exhausted, and i'm troubled by many things both related and unrelated to this small topic. and i felt shallow for caring enough about my attractiveness to dedicate a blog post to it.

but to be fair (to me), i am critiquing a past post, which is an essential part of my reflection process. so maybe i shouldn't be so harsh. it isn't really about whether i'm attractive to the opposite sex; it's about being honest with myself about where i am now, versus the places that have defined me over past years.

and now suddenly this post is both substantial and approved of by its author. excellent.

change is a theme of this chapter. i have trouble remembering that, though it gives me hope. it's just really tough on me emotionally to hope in something so vague, so hidden from me. it is difficult to see what specific good will come of any of these struggles. i feel more like i'm under siege than undergoing transformation. my supplies are running out; the citizens of my small city-kingdom are turning to theft, deceit, and other petty wickedness.

friendly neighboring cities smuggle in goods from time to time. but some needs go unmet, and certainly the most painful and urgent questions go unanswered. i have even witnessed strong armies coming to my aid, that my forces might rest awhile. i have received undeserved but desperately needed hugs, literally and metaphorically. i've had opportunities to laugh and cry without forcing either.

these are blessings and not solutions. and i wonder why things cannot simply come to a close; i wonder what else remains before the closing of this act and the opening of the next. some scenes puzzle me completely: what is the purpose?? there is nothing of value here!

once again, as i have expressed several times in past acts characterized by stagnation / atrophy / limbo, i long for resolution. i feel as though i've been tensed and ready to spring for months, maybe longer, and my limbs are groaning with the combined effort of remaining poised and bearing their agonizing burdens.

hm. too dramatic. sometimes my blog tells me when it is time to stop. i should listen to it.



some things, i myself will change, on my schedule; and those victories, though they may not win the war, may be preparing me for what comes after the war. i pray this is true.

amen