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Wednesday, February 27, 2013

lacuna



the past several days have been up & down (at the same time) as usual... but something lurks underneath it all, sapping my energy and creativity. i reach into my pocket for the soulstuff that i like to keep there, hoping to shape it into useful and beautiful things to make my days feel significant and worthwhile... but when i turn the pocket out, i find only lint, string, or nothing. i am beginning to enjoy music again, but still only halfway. even the catharsis i normally find by forcing my breath into the extra-tangible shadows and shapes of harmonies, eludes me. and when i try to fix this problem, or even just analyze the issue, i feel like i'm trying to sculpt smoke.

i need ________. but this blog will have to do for now.

~      ~     ~

love come, light up the shadows
let the beauty of you enter in
i have hungered for a tender touch
a long and lonely time

i've seen much more than i want to
so much anger, so much pain
a line is drawn and lives are torn apart
the wounds too hard to heal

love has taken me in, lifted my load
and in this empty space a wonder grows
a dream of some kind of peace
i could hold up as true
i never knew anything about love before you

you call and i come running
i can sense the flood before it breaks
and i'd do anything to dry your tears
to let you know you're safe

love has taken me in, lifted my load
and in this empty space a wonder grows
a dream of some kind of peace
i could hold up as true
i never know anything about love before you

love come, light up the shadow
let the beauty of you in
i have hungered for a tender touch
a long and lonely time

Thursday, February 21, 2013

warmth in winter

i think i have it figured out. before i state my conclusion, though, you have to understand what my life was like before you.

not every week played out exactly this way, but this is the general idea: Sundays began early, because of church activities, and were usually fun / therapeutic for that same reason. then lunch with family (either fun or peaceful, both of which i appreciate). then i got to make up for lost sleep. Sunday evenings were terrible, because Monday morning work was the next thing i had to look forward to, and the nap didn't give me all the rest i needed; just some of the sleep i needed.

Mondays were dubbed Effdays. i blame this mostly on sleep schedule + Circadian rhythms, and mine are quite dynamic. if a person's biochemistry affects (or even determines) their emotional state (apart from any particular external circumstances), and if a person's biochemical status naturally rises and falls rather than remaining perfectly balanced all the time, then there will have to be some low points... even if nothing crappy is happening externally when that low point occurs. my low point just happens to be Monday.

and Monday is quite low. i could win the lottery and inherit my own tropical island and still be depressed.

if i'm lucky, and if i take care of myself, i begin to rise from this trough over the few days following. by Thursday/Friday i'm at the high point, the crest, and i could have a horrific day at work but still come home feeling brilliant.

Saturday's a wild card; all sorts of different things can happen. it's sort of like a slot machine.

when i'm feeling down (due to internals), i try to avoid people. i tell them "i'm not good company right now," which is very true. my automatic response to most things is either harsh critique or just frustration. everything negative in my life is magnified, and all of the longer-term issues that i have to keep on a shelf (in between attempts to resolve them) jump off the shelf and onto my face. i lose hope for the future, even the immediate future, and the things i normally enjoy taste like dust or sound like noise or just bore me.

when i'm feeling up (due to internals), i sing. real songs, made-up songs, nonsense songs, whatever. i do chores, and enjoy them. i brew tea, cross a few items off of my to-do list (and do them!), take the camera out for a spin, start conversations with people, tickle my siblings, etc.

of course the events of last autumn laid me low, and left me with insane wounds that will be years healing. for a few weeks i mostly just stayed in my room, or tried to buoy myself up with time spent alone, eating expensive meals and taking long drives. i asked for help from friends and family, and received it.

and then you asked me how i was doing. and, since you are completely removed from my life and all of the people i know, i told you everything.

~     ~     ~

being able to converse with you every day, basically eliminated all of my low points. i am not exaggerating; although there were those few times when we got upset over something, and of course it made sense that we did, but those are the exceptions. mostly you just magically turned my troughs into crests. (i bet you hear that from all your international e-pen-pals.)

so, i've been trying to figure out these past 8 days, is my depression a result of you suddenly being gone? or is it natural?

well, that was a dumb question, because it's not either-or, it's both-and. now that you're gone, life is just... whatever it was before. and before, it was full of highs and lows. lots of lows, recently.

i realized all of this after a week of pondering, and it took that long because i had to get a full view of an entire week without our conversations. today is Thursday, and i feel... okay. maybe even a little bright. i'm looking forward to good things. i have gotten some of the rest i needed (because i dropped into a depression and didn't feel like doing anything, so i did nothing, which is a large part of what i call rest).

the confusing part was that we talked... Saturday, i guess? briefly. and then Sunday/Monday depression hit. so it seemed to me, at first, that you being gone was causing my depression. and don't get me wrong, it certainly contributed... but i have always told people (and myself), with at least 75% accuracy, that i am far more affected emotionally by what's going on inside than by what's happening outside. oh, and also, Thursday and Friday of last week were absolutely horrible. (although i think that was half your sudden absence, one-fourth circumstances, and one-fourth crappy internals due to lack of rest.)

i have a few irrational tendencies. one of them is to blame my mood on externals when i should be looking inward. in this case it was particularly easy to do so, because i miss[ed] you so much. and it was difficult for me to distinguish between the pain of being depressed and the pain of you being gone. equivocation. i couldn't unravel the two from each other. (until today.)

enihuu: the bottom line is that tomorrow and Saturday will be the first overall-enjoyable days i've had in over a week... but i will still be at least 25% hindered in my enjoyment of life. unless you show up unexpectedly during that time.

our friendship doesn't just raise my low points. it raises the high ones as well. it's like my capacity for enjoyment of life is 125% when you're around.

i have no idea why you've been gone so long. but, quite selfishly, i want you back. even if you don't return at all, don't doubt that, and don't forget it.

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

moon-bathing

a glimmer caught my wand'ring eye
and sweetly spoke: "don't pass me by,
for we are kindred, you and i!"
and i found it better to comply
with the voice of the moon-bathing

for to that voice my course is bound
and in it, my own voice is found
a foreign-yet-familiar sound
i cannot flee; its arms surround
my kingdom, beset by moon-bathing

its light, though harsh, is better than
the sun's ten-thousand-thousand men
i'll throw the gates wide open, then
and let the lunar army in
and surrender to the moon-bathing

the things i leave behind, i mourn:
close friends, and even burdens borne
hard lessons learned, and faces worn
to hide; else face the righteous scorn
of the watchful moon-bathing

Alone is whom i must befriend
alone, i both begin and end:
alone, for i should not depend
on others. i must learn to stand
on nothing but the moon-bathing

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

chaos

music sounds like noise to me.

my favorite music, complex arrangements of superb vocalists and heart-rendingly haunting instrumentals and brilliant compositions... all seem like static.

when i'm exhausted, i try to nap but can't keep my eyes closed. when i'm awake and alert mentally i can't keep my eyes open. i go to my room for silence and darkness, but even the wan winter light is somehow strong enough to slip between the closed blinds and through my eyelids, and i can clearly discern the words of conversations taking place at the other end of the house, even with my playlist in the background.

when i succeed in some task at work, i feel a slight relief and nothing more. when i fail i only barely care, and it feels like the status quo is being maintained.

when i hang out with friends, i feel like i'm faking being myself, or hiding behind my true face. my words seem contrived, as if i'm only trying feebly to entertain people rather than connect with them.

i am beset by some unseen, unidentified foe, and i can do nothing about it except wait for it to pass. and maybe it will do so. but maybe not. maybe i've reverted to being only half of the me i am supposed to be.

i thought i was getting better.

Sunday, February 17, 2013

love and loss



so much heaviness today. i am amazed that i still stand, with these burdens on my shoulders. it must be the collective strength of those around me, so that the problems hounding me don't have to confound me. i see that others have found me... and i hope they will not have to leave. but i expect they will.

this post marks a time of change, even in the midst of a chapter already summarized by the word 'transitions.' so much is changing.

when i emerge from this obscuring fog, i hope to make new statements about where and who and what i am, discoveries and decisions about my life, and plans for the future that will reflect and honor these changes.

please pray for me.

Friday, February 15, 2013

stubborn

somebody help me out with this adjective. i keep hearing people apply it to me, and they don't say it like a compliment. and then i think to myself, "does everyone want me to just go back on every decision i make, and change my mind at the drop of a hat? what is this nonsense?!"

so obviously we have a couple of issues here. it's about definitions and using the right words for the right situations; it's about personality differences; and it's about not understanding each other's backgrounds and experiences.

i can help with the first and the third, right now.

the right words
stubborn: unwilling to change.

that's it. the end. no other denotations. notice there is no explanation for why the person is unwilling to change. they could have terrible reasons... or they could have excellent ones. i tend to have excellent ones.

"oh yeah? you sound arrogant. how about you prove it."

ask me to explain any 'stubborn' decision i make. i will break it down into all of its individual parts and give ethical, practical, and personal reasons for it. please, challenge me. i cannot wait.

now, this other word: obstinate. that is a little different. there are some negative connotations here. this word leans more toward the next level, which would be 'contrary' or maybe even 'rebellious.'

but 'stubborn'... walls are stubborn. that's kind of the point of walls. they're not supposed to move! okay, some of them are portable, and have gates; but i have gates, too. and i can be moved if there is a valid need.

not understanding each other's backgrounds and experiences
people do sometimes actually admire my strong will, when i use it for obvious good purposes. standing up to bullies has earned me some gold stars. holding to a commitment i made, especially one i made to myself-- some people admire that, especially because it seems to be sort of uncommon. trying to form new habits, new year's resolutions, giving things up for Lent, et cetera.

anyway, my point is this: not being easily pushed around by people is one of the few things i really like about myself. and the people i trust like it too (usually; at least, they approve of it, even when they don't like it). it has served me well so far. plus, it fits with my personality, in many ways.

so, call me stubborn. i will enjoy it. but don't get upset if my relative immalleability inconveniences you at some point[s].

pask

i was almost asleep.

i had tried at 9:15p already, for about an hour... but failed. i was exhausted but couldn't drift away like i wanted. so i got up and did some work on my blog, tagging various posts... but then i grew tired again and made my second attempt at the sleep i need. i could feel my brain starting to change gears; i could tell because it always starts producing nonsensical thoughts, things that make sense to me at the time, but really shouldn't. if i'm paying attention, i can tell when i'm drifting.

and so i was drifting. i think my Facebook app might have been open still, but so was my alarm clock app, because i knew i was close to leaving earth.

but then i heard that boodaleep! sound, and my spider-sense told me it couldn't be anyone else.

that same sense also told me not to reply.



so now i'm furious... and also wide awake, just like i usually am when we're talking, no matter the hour, no matter how long i've been up, no matter how my day went, no matter anything. i am alert, and a little shakey from the adrenaline. i'm not mad from my sleep being thwarted; that would be silly. i know my priorities. and i know how much sleep i would gladly give up. that's actually become sort of a trademark of my relational style, or something.

i'm angry because i tried to do the right thing, and you called me bossy & selfish for it. i'm angry because you asked me to do something for you, and then made my efforts only half worth it.



in a day or two, we'll talk through it and one person will say "it was my fault, because of this & that" and the other will say "no no, i should have such & such" and we will both realize what we've learned and be better for it, individually and as friends, and then my world won't feel askew anymore. and we'll even be thankful for the experience, because growth came from it. (and, bonus: another blog post!)

...but until then, my days are going to suck you-know-whats, way more than they already did. because now instead of having to deal only with minor symptoms like a clenched jaw and compulsive note-taking, i'll be gnawing at my own bones: the things i value. questioning them, as if i hadn't found the answers to them long ago.

well then, my first apology should be to both you and me: sorry for replying at all.

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Mae - Release Me





i heard the old man say we need the rain
and i can feel it in my bones: they're aching
i watch the sky and wait and wish these waters ease my pain
because my well is breaking

if you'd get next to me and help me find simplicity
then you could be the one to take me, to break me
and flood my soul

could you be the one to release me? oh, release me
waiting for your love
oh to free me, so release me

grey clouds, they infiltrate, as every move you make
gets me closer to clarity
wild droplet drummers lead a complex beat, 
increase in speed, somehow accompanies our intensities

at first this cloud burst is pulling us under
lightning and thunder
rain falls and you take me under
and flood my soul

could you be the one to release me? (oh release me)
waiting for your love
oh to free me, so release me

so take off your shoes and stay a while 
this might be the right time tonight
if it makes you feel good
then it makes me feel alright

we should take down the curtains now 
and make blankets here on the floor
a torrential downpour, with potential for more
let's cease to fight this tension that ignites us here in the dark
'cause tension causes friction and this friction leads to sparks
the rain has filled this cup and before it overflows 
i wanna take you in now, here it goes

could you be the one to release me? (oh release me)
waiting for your love
oh to free me, so release me

could you be the one to release me? (oh release me)
we have just begun
you release me, oh release me

walentine's day

i am so intensely relieved to be home tonight, surrounded by all of my secondary comforts and a gentle sunset. my mind is full but in a content way, such that each thought is a gift rather than a puzzle. i suppose i must give Tobin James his due credit, as well as the man in charge at Joya de Nicaragua... and of course Dad's coconut ginger curry chicken thing did its work. the summary word is 'quality' i believe.

my Thursday night appointment's cancellation is in play as well, though i would have enjoyed it. socializing is not what i need right now (not in a group anyway). actually one-on-one time would make this evening 100% perfect... but i should not be greedy. especially on Lonelytine's Day.

i am really not fishing for sympathy. i really do enjoy my alone time. recently i've become accustomed to a superlative alternative; but i suppose i should work on giving that up. it should not be my foundation; it should be a shady place along a desert path, a respite and not a home. i have miles to go before i sleep.

today was absolutely horrible. the minutes felt like hours, and the inspector arrived at 2p or so (i arrived at 8:30a). he was an ass. i've never met a more rude, arrogant, disrespectful person while on the clock in all my career as a solarypoo. it felt surreal, like i was having a nightmare, or maybe acting in a stage production. misproduction*. unbelievable. i hope that man ends up working alone in a cubicle in the corner. with no window. for the world's sake. (also, the inspection failed, and it was actually deserving of failure.)

i failed today. maybe that is actually the worst part. i think i need music.



today i am thankful all over again for the friends who have made me (not the friends i have made, which is different). i feel that, even if i never failed at anything, i still would not come close to deserving the blessings that befallen me. it's overwhelming to think about the way certain people have brought me to life. i am a loner by nature... but nurture is something else, and i'm sure i would have grown into a feeble shadow of what i am now, at best, if not for the beauty surrounding me in the form of people like you.

a colourful warmth clings to the horizon, but my lunar companion smiles brightly at me (though the evening's gloaming is not yet fully established). i don't know how i would survive without moments like these to reflect and renew. and wax overly eloquent. and give new weight to the phrase "purple prose." but all's well-- i never claimed to be a good writer. only a prolific one.

when i brought Mom her allotment of wine for the evening, she asked how i was doing, and said she's been worried about me these last few days. she must have noticed the effects of Monday night's / Tuesday morning's somniatic indiscretion. oh, shut up spellcheck... i am the wordinator. you are merely a failsafe, and i will not bend to your will, no matter how you pester me. where was i? ah... Mom. yes, i told her i was doing okay now (i didn't elaborate or mention my altered mental / physiological state). no need.

but, if i had elaborated, i would have explained that even though today was horrible, my evening was gradually reversing the effects of the day's demands on me. i felt so bad... i apologized three times to the customer, who fortunately was very calm and gracious. yet another undeserved and much needed blessing.

(i should pause here to mention my friend Kejalo, who deserves much more from me (as her friend of many years) than she gets. i have been withdrawn-- reticent. this has been only partly necessary. i hope she will find in this account of my day a small piece of what she has rightfully requested: an understanding of what my life is like lately. even from me, it is not so much to ask for, especially considering what she has meant to me for so long.)

i also want to mention Elmadu, whose new public journaling practice has been nourishing to me. i am more and more impressed by her character and creativity. her blog is well-named, and valuable to me in many ways. i am privileged to get glimpses of her journey from the inside, and i hope to be an encouragement and a force for 'validation' (emotionally) in her life, if God wills it. though age separates us somewhat, i feel a kindred-ness that comes from more than just common taste in music, and for that i am grateful.

i think this post is finisheypoo'd. i hope to include in my next installment a favorable review of the next big change in my life. hoping against hope is a strange phrase.

how to enjoy being pseudo-single

boredom is the very worst reason to blog. this shows how desperate i am for something to keep me awake and engaged with the world.

my brain doesn't want to be engaged with the world... it wants to sleep until midnight. my eyes vehemently agree, and even though i know i'll wake up fully when i arrive home from work tonight, i also know i'll want to go back to sleep soon after, when the mini-thrill of clocking out wears off. i hope Dad makes something special for dinner. i hope i have a wine that pairs well with it. i hope it makes me sleepy enough to forsake the latter part of my day.

one of the things that people most dislike about me is that i harbor a deep disregard for holidays. nothing against the ideals they are supposed to represent; it's just the absurdity (imho) of assigning greater significance to a day than what it deserves. who cares about February 14th? scatter your rose petals whenever your heart moves you to do so. don't wait. do it now.

well... not now, since today is February 14th. but later on, when your heart says it's Valentine's Day but the month is June, buy that dark chocolate (and send it to me, because that's a favy of mine). open that champagne. kiss that girl.

"isjami, you know it's a new chapter when you start encouraging people to follow their hearts."

i didn't say those words... but i know what you mean. and yes, i am sort of doing that, to a degree. i mean, be responsible about it. but don't squelch anything that needs to be magnified. don't leash what needs to be released.

and don't hold back from that special person anything that they need from you. don't keep it in. bottling good feelings can be as harmful as bottling bad ones.

hmm... my 'm' key is sticky. brb.



anyway. i think you guys get the picture. and i hope, if you read this post the day it was posted, that it doesn't kill your mood or anything. especially this next section. maybe just stop reading here.

~     ~     ~

maybe what i need to do is replace these holidays with my own versions. i can't completely ignore Valentine's Day; it isn't possible. but i could probably make my own holiday. and if i do so, i think i will call it Lonelytine's Day, and do what i did half a year ago: take myself out on a hot date.

recent events in my personal life have brought the realization that i have really adapted well to some of the demands of an active social life. i used to be a complete hermit who occasionally went on dangerous missions to greet people, or go to the grocery store. but now i can take on this other persona that has a natural smile and a warm welcome for people. and the adaptive ability i've formed, is the ability to switch back and forth between hermit and faux-socialite.

on February 14th, i'll revert back to hermit, even if i am out in public. i'll withdraw into my crab-shell and remember how comforting the darkness is, and how calm i can become if i stop wishing people were close by and let my first love (solitude) give me a big welcome-back hug. i'll reminisce over old journal entries, sign out of Facebook, and play something mellow and ambient while the tealights burn down.

in this way i will preserve one of the most important aspects of my core identity. and i will call it a celebration, though most will not recognize it as such. in this way i'll recharge and keep from making too many mistakes (of the reaching-out / vulnerable kind).

maybe this is an okay day / post after all.

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

a handful of pebbles

     i'd rather be sleeping than bathing
      in sunlight, which satisfies only so much
     but even my slumber, i wouldn't mind trading
 for the moonlight i'm shamelessly craving

       a faraway light is a blessing

     too distant to touch, still it searches my soul
     but all of the freedom i've found by confessing
   is outshone by the flame we're suppressing

   i'm designed for rejoicing in trials

     and part of me knows it deserves what it gets
 but i'd forfeit my rights and walk miles & miles
  to sit under your window awhile

  with a handful of pebbles and a hint of denial

i'll sit under your window awhile

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

what beauty does

-- originally scheduled for posting @ 2/12/13 2:43 AM --

i just spoke at least a page's worth of blogworthy material into the aether. it may have fallen on deaf ears this time; i know not. i realized only afterward that i wanted it written down. now the moment has passed and my heart has already been poured out.

but i must at least dip my toe in the water, else risk complete dessication (of this particular material), even though in this case i can only w[h]et my appetite rather than sate it.

i find that this is often true of those things i identify in my life as truly beautiful: they do not simply please my senses, they arrest them. they scorn my ability to multi-task, to split my attention. my entire brain, from the outer edges of both lobes to the corpus calawesome, strains forward in an instant, desperate to soak in as much as possible before the moment passes.



i experienced this on the cliffs of Corona Del Mar six-ish years ago, when the low-slung full moon cast its floodlight on the breakers that sounded a symphony of cymbalism (which in my life at that time represented both true chaos and the perfect ordering of what could have easily been mislabeled as random events).

i experienced it on stage at C³, when an incredible recipe of my favorite musical and social ingredients made me momentarily forget who & where & what i was, and plunged me heart-first into a pool of achingly familiar and yet otherworldly emotions, without regard for the trembling and hunger such a submersion would induce.

i experienced it, not surprisingly, in the dead of night-- though winter's azure afternoon illumination graced it (or was graced by it?) at the time. it presented itself as though it had always been there, as though the way it wove the light around itself for raiment was nothing particularly captivating. it spoke as though its words were down feathers, slow-motion-suspended in swirling snowflake shapes... rather than chains with which my otherwise-free brain could be firmly bound.

i experienced it against my will, and returned to it as often as i could, because i cannot decide which draws & pains me more: the distance separating me from it, or my excruciating closeness with it.

this is what beauty does: its vise-grip holds me with a fierce tenacity, as gravity would if it were angry with me... and at the same time, it lets me fly if i wish.

and i do wish that.

secrets


i'm doing some cleaning. i found this on an abandoned blog. it deserves to be here. it was labeled "secrets."



i want to be close to you; i want to know what you're doing, and how, and why, and why you're thinking what you're thinking, and when we'll be past this phase of life. i miss you; i miss doing things together, things we set aside for just us, things not meant for either of us alone, but only for the two of us together. i wish you would help me preserve them instead of taking them away.

i know the evil i have in me. i want to remove it and be protected from it, and to protect you from it. i want you to know me so deeply that i don't have to tell you when or how you've hurt me. i want to enjoy you, to rest with you and have fun with you and eat with you and sleep with you.

i want your heart to soften. i want to stop working against that. i would rather feel hurt x3 than hurt & anger & frustration. i wish my character would grow and mature, so that i could set a good example for you, and influence you for the better instead of for the worse.

i wish i didn't have to hide any of this from you. i wish you would let down your defenses. i wish i could be as humble as i should be.

i wish i could embrace your whole self, and be embraced in return.

author-ity

"we had a long talk with oliver just now. i keep thinking that you would love him. he managed to put things in perspective for me once again. ...the point was peace of mind and peace between people and that you should watch who and what you let into your life, because that makes you what you are.  
and now i am twice as happy and grateful that i met you."
~     ~     ~

there have been times when i allowed caring friends to speak into my life whatever they wished. this turned out to be a mostly-harmless mistake afterward, when in processing their words i found almost nothing discernible let alone valuable.

now in life is not one of those times.

thank you elmadu and T. C. Lewis for your contributions to my story. they seem merely verbal on the surface but i find layers upon layers of significance and delicious substance underneath that surface. i can't thank you enough for your good work...

...except perhaps by asking for more good work in the near-enough future. ;)

thank you ghost for speaking things into my life that i didn't know could take root & flourish there.

thank you, friendica, for never giving up on me, for caring about me, for receiving my care for you, and for being one of the best things that's ever happened to me.

~     ~     ~

guest bloggers: i hope you will be gracious toward me. i wanted to let your posts remain the most recent for awhile, to sort of 'feature' and spotlight them, but there is so much in me that needs to be let out, and some of it loses meaning outside its chronological context; so i will publish the drafts that have been waiting in the wings. but i am also tagging your posts in such a way that the next moon-bathing design will feature them prominently long after the original post-date.

thank you again.

ourcana

at 6:49a this morning, a powerful spell was cast on my day.

my Skype call ended, and at that exact moment my alarm sounded. i laughed and rose, already showered and fully dressed, and began preparing my things for what i thought would be a long day of driving and monotonous desk work. but i felt that the day would be different, though i didn't realize that yet. while filling my beverage container, i did not drop any ice cubes (for the first time in months), and i spilled not a drop (also rare).

nothing caught on the door as i left. i did not have to go back to my room for anything i forgot. and even after sitting in my car waiting for the frost on the windshield to melt, i arrived at work 15m early. my eyes, though... they began to increase in weight. i don't know if i've ever felt them heavier, except maybe after working a youth-group all-nighter. i kept my sunglasses on and went about my tasks; i felt as though all acknowledged me but no one really noticed me. like i was a welcome ghost. i strongly prefer this.

i collected my work materials and began the driving. the highways were so congested, but somehow i glided through traffic without a single close call, horn honk, or missed turn.

at Starbucks, i spoke my order smoothly and received my quadruple espresso with gladness. my eyes were still the only part of me experiencing anything unpleasant; everything else felt warmed up, ready to compete in an athletic challenge, and my mind (though sluggish) calmly told me that it could handle anything. i called in a favor anyway, and while waiting, began sipping the Americano.

half an hour later i was gliding through traffic again and blasting Maroon 5 through my voicebox. this combined with the coffee and the inexplicable peace (& very explicable rahuldatus) and the charmed nature of everything happening that morning brought me to full wakefulness... and past that point, into something new, which i found hard to define but easy to accept.

~     ~     ~

at VUSC, Andrew & i during a very cultivation-heavy chapter in our friendship would often stay up almost to dawn enjoying music and food and thick conversation. the next day was often difficult, but i remember being content. happy.

this was ten times that. this was an all-suffusing warmth and gentle energy that let me coast along, frictionless, oblivious to any worry. it was difficult even to form thoughts about the future; i simply existed, and shaped myself to fit every occurrence. i kid you not: every door i opened, opened silently and smoothly, perfectly balanced. every person greeted me with calm and kindness. i dropped nothing, lacked nothing, succeeded at every large and small thing. even the weather complied with the theme: sun and breeze. perfection.

this went on until about 1:09p, when the spell faltered.

Facebook servers went down, which was the first sign of the magick's end. (lately it has been my primary source of verbal encouragement.) then i missed my turn. then another turn. i began encountering the idiot drivers we all know and love. over the next hour or so i dropped my keys, stubbed my toe, and started sweating in the heat. my heart rate increased, though i was still calm. small noises startled me.

fortunately i found refuge at 2:03p, in a restored FB server and my air-conditioned office. i have now been awake for 36 hours, and there is a lingering mantle of arcana that comforts me, despite falling only around my shoulders rather than over the entire day.

we'll see if it has enough spark remaining to convince my boss to let me clock out early and keep my appointment[s] in La La Land.

(Em)Pathetic Pursuit

Hello... moon-bathers? My name is Taylor Lewis, and I’m a 19 year old that loves reading and writing, mainly imaginative fiction and insightful topics of Christianity.

When I met Isaiah about 3 or 4 years ago, he was volunteering as a leader at my church’s youth group, putting his affinity for asking thoughtful questions to use against (or perhaps for) teenage angst and apathy. I was sorting through several personal problems at the time, my belief in God being one and my frustrations to fit into a group being another. In addition to the love and wisdom I regularly experienced over time there, Isaiah played an even more crucial role by convincing me I can choose to believe in Christ even while wrestling questions and doubts.

...which is really neat when I look at it now, as someone who just recently became an adult volunteer in the same youth group, and as a blog writer that has even been invited to make a post on moon-bathing! :O


~     ~     ~

Moving on though, I was given a prompt:

1) "what is essential in a person, for them to build a good friendship with you?"

2) "what do you value most in your current close friends?"

Let me first admit that this is a challenging prompt. Close friendships are unfortunately very rare in my life. I will try my best to focus on my positive experiences though I’ve rudely neglected them... and to salvage what fragments of the answer I can from those less than satisfactory or now broken friendships.

There are multiple words you could try using to describe the essential ingredient and most appreciated aspect of my few close friends, but my favorite would be empathy. Except the empathy I have in mind isn’t just sharing my emotions... it’s having a significant reaction and/or involvement in my existence. As I will detail later, I believe this can be observed in how a person uses opportunities of word or action to acknowledge what you mean to them and pursue your good.

That might sound very silly, especially because it suggests my requirement for letting people get close to me is that they are interested in being close to me. Isn’t that dangerous, and redundant? To the former, I will admit that it has played a role in many relational blunders in the past, though my own hasty will untempered by wisdom was ultimately responsible. In the case of the latter, allow me first (a)n opportunity to explain how I personally try to measure this quality carefully, and if you are so patient, (b)ear with me following that to how I see this trait as valuable.

I’m sensitive-- not so much emotionally, but socially. I notice when you take opportunities to greet me. If someone sneezes and you say “bless you” but remain silent moments later when I sneeze as well, I’ll notice that too. If you choose to express in some way that you enjoyed sharing time with me as you say farewell, I definitely notice that. It doesn’t have to do merely with manners, but about the warmth and acknowledgement they represent.

Mostly I pay attention to the long-term trend of how I’m treated, so I can gauge how much others care for me in (hopefully) the big picture.

This made befriending other/more extreme introverts very difficult for me when I noticed multiple things that seemed to suggest apathy. What I learned, fairly recently, is that reserved people can still communicate their care for you, if you give them time and appreciate their unorthodox language for telling you so. I think it actually makes the way they empathize even more valuable, that it takes them such a unique mode and extra effort.

Back on topic, though-- my sensitivity of expressions of care is a reason I require and value this trait in close friends.

Furthermore, I would argue that empathy of this sort is extremely beneficial in itself to the friendships that display it. I know I don’t fully understand this yet to explain it thoroughly, but here’s two points to remain concise and relatively organized.

I would say that, on a selfish level, a friend’s consistent support is what encourages me to trust them with the vulnerability that comes with closeness. It’s those hundreds of little things that build a foundation for much larger and more dramatic aspects of friendship later on.

In a more selfless perspective, I think that what you mean to a friend adds great significance to the things you offer them. I’m quite familiar with offering encouragement to others at a distance, but to channel my efforts in a relationship where I’m a valuable individual to the recipient, still seems like an alien subject to me.

I’ve realized that blessing people from my role as a blesser does not produce the same growth-inducing challenge and mutual fulfillment as impacting someone uniquely as Taylor Lewis, their close friend.

Note that this doesn’t mean that all the individual points raised in Elmadu’s post of yesterday and Isaiah’s original post are totally insignificant to me. I think they pointed out some very important things I would value as well. However, they are rarely at the forefront of my mind the way empathy is, and I expect them to appear naturally in a growing friendship, just as empathy will likely manifest through their use of those positive qualities.

Even if I met someone that embodied all of these positive characteristics perfectly, though I would admire them for a time and might have energy to encourage them as an acquaintance, I would not have lasting energy to pursue knowing them and reach out in vulnerability. As awesome as their flourishing personality might be for blessing others, I would count it as a loss in my own struggle for friendship if I cannot stand out to them and impact them personally.

And in all honesty, this critique at the forefront of my mind is probably meant to be directed at myself just as much as it should be kept in mind for my friends. There could be more people in my life than I know who receive special encouragement from me not based on my abilities but just from who I am to them. Perhaps I have been taking refuge in the relational distance, maybe even unconsciously, and sealing my own fate through assuming roles that tend towards a less personal interaction?

Since I wrestle with the concept more than they would expect, it would be wise of me to first invest in others as I would like to be treated... if not already because of the Golden Rule, then because the empathic link I’m desiring must be anchored at two points.

Monday, February 11, 2013

dissolution


the best kind of ships

relationships of course!  =)

wow... i think this weird schedule is getting to me.  ahh... music, both new and old, and old-new, is one of my favoriteest things.  :)

anyway.  guest blogger:  elmadu!!!

ok.  on with it.

quick(ish) background:  i realized the other day as i was thinking about these questions is that the reason i am so cautious and distrustful when it comes to relationships and even well-intending people is not because i am introverted or shy, but because i have been disappointed too many times.  once upon a time, i would make friends just by asking, and anyone who wanted in on my friendship circle was welcome.  but moving (actually, probably just getting older) sent me into a different world.  even as early as second grade, i would make friendships only to be left out of them or to be subconsciously dubbed not cool/popular/[fill in the blank] enough for them.  sometime between seventh and ninth grade, i came to the subconscious realization (even more than i already had) how incredibly stupid this was.  i stopped automatically accepting as a good friend anyone who showed interest, and started hardening [more of] a defense, learning to recognize situations that would later leave me high and dry.  better to invest little and lose little, right?  to choose loneliness rather than have it thrust upon me later.  which i think is often a good call of discernment, to be a little picky and choosy.  the thing is, even before my "shield" was as developed as it is now, i found that it left me lonely more often than i was ok with.  which also makes sense, since humans are designed to interact with one another.  even now, i have few whom i would actually consider close friends, and even fewer whom i would rank more than a detached closeness.  it's like the difference between liking someone a lot (as a friend :) and being able to trust them to be a good friend back to you.  BUT!!! the upside to this system (as i have more recently realized) is that when i find truly quality friendships, they are some of the most excitingly satisfying experiences that i have yet encountered.


what is essential in a person for them to build a good relationship with you?
  • understanding.  the person has to be able (or at least willing to try) to understand my views and interests, and why i make the decisions that i do.  not that i would condemn them for not understanding or anything; i am more complex than i sometimes seem.  but the effort has to be there.
  • realness.  obviously anyone with false intentions would fall out of this category, but also anyone putting up an overly-polite, overly-charismatic, or overly-eager-to-please shield.  who am i actually befriending?  i have to know you in order to be close to you.
  • acceptance.  i can't constantly be afraid to make a fool of myself.  it happens a lot.
  • value.  the person has to truly enjoy me for who i am, not for any mask or show i put on.  also, i don't want to have to worry about being left out or forgotten very often.
  • mutual effort.  i was also going to add "commitment of some degree" as another separate bullet, but i think that actually falls under this.  example: the phone rings at both ends, yo.
  • listening and opening up.  the relationship can't be all about one person or the other.  i want to be able to tell you something (or even ask you something) and know that you are listening.  but i also want to hear what you have to say, especially if it is relevant, or especially especially if you really need to tell someone.
  • balanced humor and seriousness.  few things bother me more than the inability to take anything seriously.  we have to be able to hold meaningful and intelligent conversation.  at the same time though, the person has to be able to enjoy life, to lighten up at the right times.
hmm... i might be being too picky.  i'm not sure that all of these are really essential to all good relationships with me (maybe not) or just the best ones.  it's not that all of them have to be to the extreme or anything.  everyone's human.  but this stuff is important.


what do you value most in your current close friends?

i admit, in some cases i have been extremely spoiled with friends that were/are more than i ever could have expected or asked for.  for this, i will include all of my friends, with the qualities they have.  some of the things i appreciate the most in my current friendships are...
  • everything above.  even without anything else, all that stuff is the kind of thing [are the kinds of things?] that give[s] me more excitement and thought about friendships even outside of them.
  • musical similarity.  since i am greatly affected by music, having other friends who also are helps me to better understand and connect with them, and vice versa.
  • putting me out of my comfort zone.  weird, but true.  not all the time, but i find i appreciate the occasional extra force to do something, for my own good or for the good of others, that i would normally opt against.
  • superiority.  not the arrogant kind, but the experiential kind.  some of my friendships have actually been situated in such a way that i can constantly learn from those around me!
  • certain kinds of irresponsibility/shortcoming.  hmm... this can get a tad confusing and undefined, but one example for me would be procrastination.  in some cases, a friend has stayed up until 3 or 4 in the morning with me (over email chat) as we finished the same project.  or, similarly, if we both did really badly on a test or something, or (more seriously) if we find that we both struggle with something.  it's the support factor.
  • similar goals/values/interests.  this is pretty self-explanatory, but it always helps with understanding one another.
  • mentorship.  kind of similar to the superiority one, but this is more specific to wisdom, especially of the spiritual kind.
  • good sense of humor.  some of my favorite times with friends have been when we could just laugh over stuff, whether legitimately funny, or corny funny, or just late-night stupid funny.
  • comfortability.  i actually don't mind some fun at my expense (sometimes i kind of enjoy it... shhh...) as long as there is no hidden meaning and it isn't carried too far (which honestly, would be kind of far if it was someone whom i trusted).  it's like this:  if i were to put into words the thoughts that the person was thinking subconsciously (in my understanding), they would say something like, "i know it's ok to poke fun at you because i know that you know that i am totally joking and that i value you."

over the past couple of years, and especially this past year, my best friends (not necessarily my "closest," though in a way they are, but those who are best for me) have been unconsciously teaching me how to be a good friend, just by their example.  the hard part for me is learning how to follow that, and to be that impactful in others' lives, which i hope will start to come more naturally as my relationship with God deepens and my priorities fall more and more into place.

Sunday, February 10, 2013

ch3ss3r

spending so much time with my family has not solved any of my major life issues... but it has helped me in every other way.

my evening was crappy until J3ss3r got home from wherever he was. he's been asking me to play chess, and the timing was finally perfect. i took two Excedrin (the magical drug, and the only one i ever take), put Bonobo on the dining room speakers, and told him to set up the board.

he poured himself some white port. "really??"

"it's the only alcohol we have!"

i couldn't believe my ears. i told him so with my eyes. "how about a real Long Island? like... with iced tea in it."

and so it came to pass that the quality of my evening increased tenfold. (even before the alcohol began to take effect.)

scarlette

i changed the colour of my alarm clock from red to blue.

no one will care but me... in fact i wouldn't've have mentioned it here except that i realized something i want to remember. for months i've kept it red, because all of the other colours felt too happy and pleasing.

red represents anger and bleeding. it's violent and simmering and it clings to my mood. most recently, it has specifically symbolized my open wounds... my developing (or slowly shrinking?) scars.

"it's just your dumb alarm app."

yes. but no. it's the last color i see before i sleep, and the first when i wake. i use colour to express myself. (my preference for black is not a vague, mysterious matter. it feels like me, looks like me, so i wear it.) red has signified the forest fire that's been scouring me bare.

i changed it last night because i am starting to be happy again. not happy enough to feel like a nice blue, but that's the point i want to make (to myself): i can't always depend entirely on what i'm comfortable with, to determine what i need. i've learned to trust my feelings more than in any other chapter, but i shouldn't swing too far. i should give myself an uncomfortable nudge every once in awhile. for weeks i've been trying to change the colour of my attitude when i'm completely alone at night. only last night did i succeed.

i nearly always listen to music that matches and expresses my mood. once in awhile i should play something a step or two away from where i am, and see if maybe i can take a small step in the direction that i might need to go.

Saturday, February 09, 2013

journeys: iv

another bright-sun-puffy-clouds-cool-breeze morning at Sierra Vista, and guess who sounds like a radio announcer. =P

when i have trouble picking music, sometimes i have to conclude that i actually don't want any. this confuses me (probably because of an overly simplistic self-image), but i sometimes have to roll with it and enjoy the ambient aural environment. today, though, some old couple brought a hyperactive dog who barks loudly at everything, and since i'm sitting in a sort of brick corridor, that's just not acceptable. i am not an aural environmentalist today. Foo Fighters it is (from the "cigar museek" playlist, and with apologies to anyone from countries that have cleaner air than all other countries).

it's actually not the best day for tobacconing. the breeze is getting gusty. that blows.

"focus, isjami."

right... life. serious things. self-therapy or something.

~     ~     ~

can you tell i'm starting to grow weary of it? this is like that point in your 45-minute workout where you have 30 minutes left, but you feel like hitting the hot tub instead. or, it's that point in your essay where you know it will probably earn you a passing grade-- barely-- but you also know you can do better. you know you can create something that has value beyond the grade it earns you.

i've re-realized today that we're expected to learn writing as a skill in school, but without either an excellent professor or a class specifically designed to bring out your creativity, writing is not generally recognized as something that comes from who you are.

these Fuentes are great, but i think they're more for lunch than breakfast. i need to try one of those Javas. i will say, though, that the spice is contrasting with my double latte in such a way as to make it taste sweeter. sometimes i forget that pairing can enhance either element, not just the one i'm focused on.

so, writing: it's like singing. i have this theory that anyone could sing well if they practiced enough ('enough' = respective to each person). but i mean that in a technical sense. not everyone is passionate about it. there are even some who do it well without really caring much about it. they invest their knowledge and natural ability, but not their heart.

same with writing, i think. skill is important, but it needs to come from the heart to really have value (imho). furthermore, it is probably best that the creation reflect the state of the heart in that particular moment. for example, right now i feel great, so it's difficult writing about my marriage. it's difficult even to think about it. (it always has been, but this time it's not because of pain, it's because of the lack of pain.)

this is probably why some people say that depression can do great things for music artists. i myself have said this, and experienced it. little of what i've written (blogging, musicking, whatever) has been happy through-and-through.

this is no excuse not to write, though. the assignment is due whether my heart is in the ideal state to create, or not. but... perhaps i can step out of character for just this one day, when i'm running on 12 hours of heavenly sleep. maybe i can find a way to spin these thoughts positively, without doing harm to the nature of the content.

wish me luck.

~     ~     ~

apologies

i have these two conflicting thoughts in my mind. perhaps you can help me reconcile them, or at least convince them to work together for a short time, for a common goal.

on the one hand: increasingly (as we approached the end), even my most Christ-like efforts to resolve any issue were met by fresh fighters fiercely forcing the front lines forward. seriously, it blew my mind sometimes. i think i need to admit to myself that i cannot overcome any situation just by doing the right thing, even if i do that right thing really well. i think i need to admit that i was up against another sentient, independently free-willed creature, who was always fully capable of foiling my finest efforts.

interesting. i was subconsciously fearful of approaching this point in my writing, because i knew it had not been resolved in my mind yet. but as soon as i thought of asking for help in working it out (asking is a separate action than actually receiving help, and can sometimes be very helpful on its own), as soon as i became okay with the irresolution, i was able to make progress on it.

irresolution is a real word?? dang it... i was hoping to invent one today.

yes. my honey badger is not omnipotent. why is it that so many of my breakthroughs are built upon realizations of what should be obvious???

that statement is chock-full of psychology and significance. i have not the training to expound, sadly. i wish i had taken more psych classes. this post is turning out far better than i'd expected.

on the other hand: even though i gradually developed more patience, more of an ability to quietly endure violence, it's also true that i became more and more discouraged. i lost enthusiasm. and perhaps marriage is a lot like writing and music: one can force one's way through it by sheer will and skill and maybe even natural ability, but none of those things can substitute for a passionate heart.

(dang it... the sun is behind a really large cloud. i'm going to freeze again. i'm really learning the value of warmth in wintertime here in 2013. better switch to Punch Brothers.)

i lost that passion to create (in my marriage) as things progressed. that is not an excuse to act differently, but it is certainly a good explanation for the lack of a certain inimitable quality. and that brings me to another realization: sometimes when a friend is in need of someone to listen, or advise, or just to be with, i have to withdraw instead of engage, because i lack that energy. i certainly could engage anyway, but this is usually a bad idea. i am much less useful when i go against my intuition and try to draw from an empty well.

so, there is the conflict unresolved: depression and discouragement robbed me of something that would have certainly benefitted the marriage (even if it wouldn't have saved it), but was there something i could have done to reacquire it?

why should the fire die?

i desperately desire answers to these two questions: 1) could i have done something to avoid divorce? 2) would it have been wise to do so?

if i could answer those two right now, i could move on as soon as the court finishes processing our paperwork. not that it would be easy, but those two answers would provide plenty of material with which to build a satisfying resolution.

~     ~     ~

this is all under the heading of apologies, so i will make some of those right now. i just needed to put them in a fair context, so as not to beat myself down too far, or with the wrong weapon, at least.

i am sorry that i did not work harder to fight the discouragement and depression. i am sorry that i did not invest more of me in our happiness. i am sorry that i gave up a little bit, that i let some of my own feelings of helplessness and pain defeat me, at times.

i am sorry that i withdrew emotionally.

that last may be in the top 3 mistakes i made. for all my talk of pain threshold, of my extensive experience in suffering through relational mistreatment for the sake of the cause, i fell short in this case. i missed the mark. hamartia. i am sorry.

i pray that God brings you others (in relationships of various kinds) who will do better than i did. i suppose marriage is the only relationship in which one would be challenged to that degree... but He knows what i mean.

~     ~     ~

this exquisite Gordian... i finally feel that it's beginning to unravel somewhat. i do not know why it's so difficult to admit my mistakes together with my successes-- it is certainly more difficult than admitting either group on its own-- but i feel it is key to completing these journeys.

is anyone getting tired of these yet? it's a little strange to have regular readers again. almost as strange as posting regularly again. perhaps Elmadu and T. C. Lewis will post soon? :3

part of me is wondering whether these questions, answers, realizations, and apologies are really worth anything beyond the feelings that they bring. i am making a sincere, strong effort to grow, but i have to wonder, are they effective? what if these are somewhat... placebic?

(aha! not a real word already! excellent.)

"you can't know that, isaiah. you can't start second-guessing now. you don't know what these will mean to you in a year, or in five years. you have to take risks and trust yourself to some degree or you will be forever doubling and tripling back to cover and re-make your tracks. that is insanity."

yes... perhaps you are right. but i needed to voice the fear. and to switch over to Norah, since i'm sitting inside the coffee shop now. fits better for conclusions, too. Punch Brothers are more about conflict and confusion than conclusion.



please forgive me for how i fell short. apart from the ultimate failure, and apart from all those other things you have decided to hold against me forever: please forgive me for those things i listed above. i really believe you will be healthier if you do. and if we have to continue to interact from time to time, perhaps it will make it a little easier on you.

i wish that you could understand how much i genuinely want to resolve things. i believe as i've said before that further attempts at in-person cooperative resolution would be foolish, but maybe my desire still matters, somehow.

i want to believe Sensei Mendel and King Andrew, that what they say about me is true: that i am more emotionally aware than the average person. maybe a lot more. i want to believe what i say to them about myself: that i am driven to be honest and open with myself and others, and that this serves me well in my pursuit of integrity and character. i want to believe all of my friends when they say good things about me. it's not so much about ego, although i guess that has to be part of it. it's about going through life without feeling that my chains are unbreakable, that my issues are insurmountable, that my failures so far are portents that i will continue to fail.

i don't really know what life has for me after all of this. but i want to know that i won't have to meet it unarmed & wounded. i want to do what i can to prevent myself from ruining it. i want to be equipped, steady, nourished, healthy, rebuilt, ready.

i want to be moving ever closer to my design. if i can complete these journeys, then i can be excited about that. i can be passionate about what comes next. i can be moved to create and not destroy. i can be fueled by that fire that brings that inimitable quality to life. (i think this is what really makes someone an artist, more than skill or talent.)

if i have nothing else in life but that, i can be content. Father, please renew me, and let it be so.

Wednesday, February 06, 2013

follow-up self-diagnostic

this post deserves at the very least the briefest of replies from what it would consider future-me.

i have been answering the question it asks for about half a year now, and my answer boiled down is "definitely, it was dead. but a few jolts from the crash cart (extremely painful) brought it back to life."

i recognize many things i now use to nourish me, that i did not purposely use at that time. life is far better for my choice to nourish my heart.

the almost-1st-ever moon-bathing invitational

i was going to blog hard but i forgot my keyboard at home!! so frustrating!!! x_x

whatever. i guess journeys iv can wait. it's just... i'm super busy for the next few days and i don't want to wait. maybe this situation warrants another late night. i just don't want these thoughts i'm keeping in to over-incubate. know what i mean?

i should prepare you all for yet another new type of post here. i've invited the legen...



...dary Elmadu, along with renowned blogger Taylor C. Lewis, to contribute to moon-bathing from time to time. i can't guarantee they will like my prompts well enough to respond to them every time, but if they do so this time, they'll be talking about friendships. specifically they'll be answering questions about what makes (for them) a strong / close friendship work, and/or what they most value in the close friendships that they have currently.

since i am bluetoothfully handicapped today but still driven to post, i'll prime the pump a little by telling you two of the things i needwant the most in close friendships:

first: conversational creativity. people who don't have it (or who do not choose to employ it) mostly say whatever their environment has taught them to say. nothing is too cliché; they do not understand (or they pay no attention to) the concept of trite-ness. they respond by rote, by muscle memory. to me, they have a 'programmed' feel, which is a little scary to me. it's like watching reruns. it's also like doing chores: somewhat necessary but so dull, and difficult to be enthused about.

it bothers me for many reasons, beyond the boredom of it.

on the other hand, people who do have it (and who use it by default) are interesting. their personality shows even in the first few words i hear from them. imagine you could completely forget the content of your favorite movie, but clearly remember that it was a good experience. you could watch it over and over again and enjoy it just as much (or more?) each time.

people who make an effort to speak their own words, thereby allow me to hear their own voice. i don't want anyone to read me a script. i want to know people. this is one of the reasons i have adopted and now promote the phrase, "can i ask you a personal question?" it encourages people to break from scripts and reveal themselves rather than regurgitate the world's empty noises.

second: careful listening. that doesn't mean i need someone to understand everything i say as soon as i say it... it just means they are paying attention to my words, and processing them as if they have never heard them before (which they haven't, if we understand the importance of context). this is sort of the reverse of the first thing: some people hear only what they are programmed to hear. it blows my mind and gets my goat simultaneously.

have to get back to work. stay tuned for some writing that's probably a lot better than mine. :)

Tuesday, February 05, 2013

night owl

last night i dreamt i was happily married.

i must have kicked my blankets off of me, and forgotten to turn on my space heater, because the first thing i remembered upon waking was telling her i would keep her warm (it was cold in the dream, even with the down comforter and high-quality mattress). i remember her smiling in response. i remember tracing her shoulder blade with two fingertips. i remember enveloping her with my arms, and feeling like nothing else mattered or even existed.

i don't remember her name, and i barely remember her face, and she was no one i know in real life. apropos.

~     ~     ~

i'm flashing back now to the Hobbit premiere, and the post i wrote while sitting in the theater waiting for it to start. i'm surrounded by super-stylish young adults drinking coffee & tea, and the combination of things i'm overhearing is one that i'd never overhear in a Starbucks in Fresno.

"did you hear Postal Service is together together again?"

"i remember feeling like, i was actually cool for a brief period, back when scene-sters were a big thing, and i had this black jacket that i always wore..."

"at Indie Jam a guy next to me got tazed!"

"and he said he was a youth leader, and i'm like--!!!"

"i've got a 1,300 page book to read, aagggghhh..."

"that Warped tour, i looked over, and Zach Farrell was standing there, and i was like, 'hey you're Zach Farrell!' and we like watched the concert together and talked and stuff, and he was cool."

various other cultural references tell me i'm neither much older nor much younger then they are. this is different than nostalgia. it's something else.

the feel of the weather is exactly what i remember from six-ish, eight-ish years ago. i hear both crickets and carhorns. i smell something grilling, and the ashtray in front of me. the guy who took my order made sure i was aware of the wifi password at the bottom of my receipt. nobody-- not the customers, not the staff-- is nondescript. everyone has something that stands out. even their energy is different... i feel like i'm surrounded by people who are more alive than the average person.

~     ~     ~

i'm told there was a time when i looked forward to the sunrise. i would wake in an instant, sit straight up and ask, elated: "is it morning time yet?!"

eventually though, i discovered i could watch VHS movies all night without anyone knowing. all-nighters were actually somewhat common even before 5th grade. this was only exacerbated by the advent of things like AOL, urban exploration, and college. the darkness and the night are great, but it's even more than that: it has to do with the awareness that this time is not allocated to anything else. i have no responsibilities or tasks other than what i choose, whether i'm driven by whimsy at the time, or by some higher calling or mission.

i planned tonight's exercise in carpe noctem with the idea that it was not for my own benefit... but singing all the way here, combined with the slowly growing effect of kicking the morphine, has spawned dark thoughts at precisely the right time. up until now my journey had been intellectually driven. i was weirded out that the pain i expected to return to a conscious level was not presenting.

but it is finally returning, and it brings company: anger. helplessness. panic. and i think to myself, "i conquered these! i forsook anger! i am fearless!" ...but seeds remain, and will sprout if i do not dig them up quickly.

(ahh yes. please join me, Mr. Fuente, if you would. thank you.)

so, my next post (at the least) will include apologies, very specific critiques of behaviors that i am glad to leave behind (mostly if not completely). but, in the spirit of that "trophies" post that Rabbi Evian particularly appreciated, i will also be defending my character a bit, which is especially important if the growth i've experienced is to stick. i am not the same person i was before marriage. i am not even the same person i was two years into my marriage. and many if not most of the changes are good ones.

i am increasingly discouraged at work, especially with Chad's departure looming. i realized today that purpose drives me to do things i would never be able to handle otherwise. knowing i am doing something that matters, makes the unbearable enjoyable instead. like getting two hours of sleep tonight before going back to work for an otherwise-normal Tuesday.

i have always known this, but never expressed it clearly. i always knew i could be happy cleaning toilets as long as my favorite music was playing; i knew that i could be spit on (figuratively and literally) by people who should have been grateful and/or gracious, and still feel only care for them... as long as i had decided to love that person ahead of time. not that i never reacted badly to anything, but it was uncommon, and i did my best to channel it into things like rocks and trees and walls and King Andrew.

so, important things. work is not very important to me. it's an excellent outlet for my need to problem-solve, and i love having a unique (and therefore more valuable) usefulness in accordance with my skillset. and i mostly like my co-workers. but i'm growing weary. just sitting down at my desk makes me want to rest my forehead on the keyboard. forcefully.

but that's one area where i am mostly discouraged. where would i go? i have great medical, a flexible schedule (even when stupidly busy), time for a midday nap, lots of driving to do, and people who appreciate me. it will be tough not only to find any new job, but also to leave this one. that's two times tough. rough. especially with my debts, like the Toyota and school and such. i'm even paid well. it's almost a dream-come-true.

perhaps i should stop awaiting better things and begin pursuing them instead.

~     ~     ~

i guess i am doing that already, in the most important arenas... but although i am lazy, i was never one to be content with three-out-of-five stars. i really need more than that. i really want to work for a church. i really want to live in a room that's clean at least three times a week. i really want to have friends over to cook dinner with me. i really want purposeful work more than i want money (even though it's been super-enjoyable buying people gifts left and right).

but i also really want to travel. not sure how i'm gonna work that one out yet.

~     ~     ~

Jerad asked me if i was ready for the next step in my ministry involvement. i told him i wanted to be, but needed to finish these journeys first. part of me is irritated that i said that, which of course is a good sign that i said the right thing. parts of me need to be reined in.

(aside: i think it's amazing that this bluetooth keyboard hasn't been charged since i first bought it several months ago. either i'm not blogging enough (haha), or ZAGG really does rock as much as i tell people it does. i've already recommended them to three complete strangers who asked me about it (despite my being deeply enklipsched at the time[s]).)

on second thought, i'm not totally enamored of the social aura here. half the people hold their chins a bit too high. my returning confidence shielded my as i walked in, but i did get lots of weird looks. sorry i'm not hip'n'cool enough to dress better than my snowboarding garb. :P

Arturo is on his last leg, and the temp is beginning to drop (or maybe it's just mine). i should wrap this up.



tonight's post was mostly rambling, but i find that to be necessary nowadays. strange but i accept it.

i still miss you more than i can espress. i'm not expecting any three-fold utopian dreams in the next few months (or ever, i guess), but i can't say i don't dream them anyway. well i could but i won't. i could really use a jacuzzi right now.

next post will include a murky yet vivid description of how i zombie my way through the worst work days. fresh memories make the best blogs.

Sunday, February 03, 2013

a journey outward

this is not part of my 'journeys' series. it's another one of those marker posts that has very little content yet great significance. i use these to remember important things without having to write novels about them.

this is me telling myself, "don't do it, isaiah. it's crazy. you're crazy. maybe even foolish."

this is also me responding, "if you can stop me, then do it....
...but if you can't, then shut up."






it's strangely quiet tonight.


Saturday, February 02, 2013

journeys: iii

[DISCLAIMER]
even for me, this post is extremely long. it's mostly for me anyway, so if someone decides to skim it but claim to have read it, i won't blame that someone at all.

~     ~     ~

this recent resurgence of blogging activity is starting to rewire my brain (aside from the content; the action itself is affecting me). as i open the app (i hardly ever blog at my computer anymore), it feels like i'm about to play a new song that i know i'll appreciate.

that's another change: i hate being in my room. of course cleaning it would make a difference, but since i hate being in there, i don't want to clean in there either. but cleanliness and order and space all calm me; they're an essential aesthetic. so... i should probly handle that.

it's the usual today: a triple, passion/peach/lemon/black, and a maduro. someone named Beth Orton is singing on a remix of Central Reservation, and i really love her voice for some reason.

two old-timers are at my usual spot, with cigarettes, so i'm waiting to move in when they leave (more out of courtesy to the other Bux-goers than for concern that i'll be evicted). i'm a little annoyed because my dark roast is getting cold, and it was supposed to pair perfectly with this Patel, but whatevs.

it was also supposed to be sunny today... but no. my muse is dampened. if this post turns out to be junk, i'm blaming the old-timers and the clouds.

~     ~     ~

question: if i'd been thinking at the time (that is, with my brain), how would that have changed my relationship with Valerie?

this is really five or six questions all rolled into one; but i don't think it would be useful to separate them all, any more than taking apart Elmadu's violin would help me play a song on it.

the night i first saw her, she was reclined on Ecclesia's bed; there were four or five of us hanging out. Ecclesia had just recently decided to befriend me. i still don't understand that; but apparently she actually informed Valerie of her intent ahead of time. Val disliked me at the time (unfairly, but rightly, i suppose). Ecclesia befriended me anyway, and that was one of the best non-romantic female friendships i'd ever had, and will have ever had... save for its super-crappy ending a while ago.

i remember liking her dark hair and darker eyebrows, and the way her lips were shaped, and her green eyes. and her alto range (she wasn't a great singer, but her speaking voice was pitched and textured in a way that appealed to me). i remember being intrigued, in almost the same exact way that a new song half-heard through retail store speakers promises to sound eighteen times as good if i flag it and listen to it later on with the proper equipment.

that analogy is a little disturbing now that i've finished typing it out. oh well!

so we interacted a few more times within the next week or two. she and Ecclesia were bff at the time (haha...) so i had meals with them, started noticing that we had some classes in common, and kept them company during fire drills and false alarms for the girls' dorm. the more i saw her and talked with her, the more those stupid sparks flew. eventually we started hanging out one-on-one. i don't remember exactly how that happened, except that as we hung out with the group more often, i automatically drew closer and closer to her.

i have come to a realization about charm. some people have a general charisma that affects most people around them, sometimes of both genders. that is very different than the kind of charm that occurs when one person develops romantic interest in another person who isn't opposed to receiving that kind of attention. it's as if the person's objective abilities and personality are all transformed into something uniquely powerful, and the recipient of the 'charm' doesn't even have time to consider where that person 'rates' on the various scales that seem to matter so much in the dating world.

of course, part of what made this whole thing work at first was that neither of us had intentions of dating. even Valerie admitted later on that she just found me attractive and wanted to... enjoy me as much as possible before graduating. and i? i saw a girl who was extremely overworked, who then took the energy she didn't have left and used it to get homework done early so that she could please everyone (especially family). i saw a girl who had been severely wounded by her upbringing, by her parents, by her friends. i saw a girl who could use a friend, and since she was vulnerable, i successfully volunteered myself while at the same time becoming attracted to her in a way that somehow overrode my default "i'm never getting married" mentality.

and yes, i did have that mentality, much to the despair of a handful of well-intentioned but misguided female friends in the then-recent past. i point that out only to show that i had successfully resisted several attractive (but dangerous) women up until that point, and i do not fully understand why i broke down at this point... except for this one interesting thing: when i told Val about my past relationships (platonic, romantic, and in-between), she said these words:

"i don't want to be one of those girls. i don't want you to treat me that way."

the more i think about that, the more i realize its significance. she probably didn't understand the implications of her request. i loved those girls. i loved them by wiping up their tears and their vomit, by giving them my attention without ulterior motives, by taking them on long drives and moon-bathing with them on lonely nights and by sharing music with them and just making life less hellish.

so... when i agreed not to treat her like those other women, i may have made a mistake that paired perfectly with hers.

that night on the baseball field... i had invited her to moon-bathe. she had agreed, but there were definitely ulterior motives in play.

"you should kiss me."

- um, no. that's dangerous. plus i don't know what will happen if i do.

"uhm good things?!"

- no. i feel afraid. and i'm not afraid very often.

"what are you afraid of??"

- ...i don't know. i feel like i'm being invited into a dark cave, and there might be a bear inside. or maybe not. but it feels like there might be.

"that's ridiculous. we should kiss right now."

i really don't understand myself. i guess it comes back to the grey area concept: that there is, in some cases, a very smooth and deceptive spectrum of gradations between Plato and Aphrodite, and that one need not intent to arrive at the right end in order to arrive there.

full moon, 75 degrees (Fahrenheit), a blanket in a field of green grass, and a beautiful woman telling me to kiss her. and i had already agreed to remove the "james kelling" element from our friendship. (more on that later). well, removing that left only one element.

well... eff.

~     ~     ~

sexual intimacy bonds two people, regardless of what they intend. it rewires the brain (literally). it immediately begins to alter perceptions, create subconscious assumptions, and basically just take over.

"isaiah, that's insane. i can kiss someone without being transformed."

very well, hypothetical foil. i hope you are happy with the condition that allows you to do so.

"hah! what condition?"

the same condition that keeps people from feeling pain. maybe it's a burn, or some other kind of scar. it's an insensitivity that develops from damage done, whether that damage consciously hurt you or not.

i myself am so sensitive that eye contact is very difficult for me. i cannot maintain it for more than a few seconds without feeling as though the world around me is shifting and my viscera are twisting up in preparation for some kind of internal cataclysm.

so, imagine what a kiss does to me.

for crying out loud, i can't even drink my favorite beer without making inappropriate noises!!

some would call my sensitivity a gift. i can enjoy life more than others, perhaps. well, yes; but i am vulnerable to pleasure. i am malleable. my brain is susceptible to many kinds of rewiring. and some of them are both pleasurable and dangerous.

like the woman kind.

james kelling protects me from that, to some degree. i have this quest, which serves as both sword & armour. it gives me an overriding purpose that guides me away from romance and lets me toe that line (or explore that vast expanse) between black and white. it makes me courageous instead of shy; it lets me ask personal questions instead of stuttering half of a greeting. it lets me ignore how attractive a person is or isn't, and see through their exterior to the currents that pull them a dozen different ways, often without their knowledge.

i abandoned it, in Valerie's case, and that was a huge mistake.

"why?"

because it blinded me to what was actually happening.

"what was actually happening?"

i was developing a romantic obsession without any substance beneath it.

"why was that bad?"

because deciding to marry someone based on romantic obsession is one of the most stupid things a person can do.

~     ~     ~

it was truly insidious. i really believed that i was considering all of the important factors. i believed i was being reasonable. i believed we had the kind of love and mutual understanding that a good marriage would need.

i believed the intense fear and uncertainty i felt were normal things for a potential husband & wife. i now believe differently.

a degree of uncertainty is healthy; but, in keeping with my mostly-lifelong disregard for intuition and my steadfast loyalty to the left hemisphere, i shrugged away the uncertainty and proposed.

i remember talking with Caleb about it all. i knew i needed advice, so i told him how i felt. i told him about my fears. the analogy we came up with (for me being affianced) was this: a mostly-doomed attempt at escaping from the Death Star, while it was in the process of exploding.

this probably should have alerted me to an urgent need for deeper introspection and analysis. funny thing is, it was my intuition that was offering me the best advice... so maybe analysis was my mistake. i was using a rose-colored stained-glass microscope, when i should have been using a simple mirror.

~     ~     ~

"what's Valerie like?"

she trusts her feelings first and foremost, and believes that her intuition is nearly always right.

i think that's because they lead her to the places she wants to go, and not because they've proven themselves wise. far too many people end up believing whatever they most want to believe, not what they need to believe.

i am okay with people trusting intuition if they temper it with more objective beliefs and guidance from others. too much trust in oneself is always dangerous, regardless of what kind of trust it is, and whether it's trust in logic or feelings.

the honest truth is this, friends: i don't even know exactly what makes Valerie incompatible with me (other than selfishness), because i don't truly know her. i mostly doubt that she truly knows herself, even though she appears to (even to me). i don't know her. i really don't. the crazy things she started saying toward the end are far beyond my ability to unravel.

in counseling, there were some good moments and some discouraging ones. the good ones were either 1) Valerie realizing something about herself, and breaking down over it, or 2) me realizing something about myself, and being joyful and relieved and energized. i really did learn some important things in those dozen or so sessions.

the bad moments were the ones that left me thinking i knew less than before.

it's just too much mystery (of the bad kind). as i look back on it all, i realize not only that i probably couldn't have saved the marriage (even if i had done everything right), but also that i probably would have been making a weird mistake if i had somehow saved it.

"isaiah, that is contradictory to the Christian doctrine of marriage."

perhaps. i think there are some terrible things that God hates more than other terrible things. i'm pretty sure divorce is not the very worst thing. i'm 99% sure that a continued marriage to Valerie, even a peaceful one, would have precluded many of the good things that God intends for me that aren't marriage.

i'm not justifying any decisions; i'm trying to explain that, given Valerie's nature and decisions, divorce was the lesser of two evils.

"recant."

can't.



so, the answer to the question is, "had i been thinking with my brain, i would never have jettisoned Mr. Kelling. i would have never kissed Valerie. and life would have been much more like it is now, except earlier on."

i HATE leaving mysteries unsolved, especially mysteries as relevant and immense as this one. but even with Valerie's cooperation, i don't think it's possible. i could keep trying, but it's not worth it. there is too much damage that could be done and not enough potential benefit.

therefore i am moving on in good conscience. scarred conscience, but that doesn't mean it's unhealthy or foolish.
~     ~     ~

question: what if i had pursued romance wisely?

oh man. this is one of the most interesting questions i've ever asked myself.

well, i definitely would have gathered more information from people i admired and trusted... like Cameron, Jerad (eventually), Andrew (THAT would have been game-changing), and maybe some family members. people whose relationships with their spouses were healthy.

i also would have begun trusting my intuition much earlier, and much more. it has actually served me very well in many critical situations, as long as i paired it with my highest values.

i would have decided much earlier on to marry someone only after developing a very healthy, solid, non-romantic friendship with them.

i'm so glad i have this blog to reveal to me how foolish i am. seriously.

i have to keep saying this, just in case anyone has misunderstood me (which happens pretty much all the time): i don't expect to marry. i don't even expect anyone to be legitimately interested in that prospect. and, let me be even more honest and open than usual, here (which is saying a lot): i don't really expect to meet anyone who is / has the essential ingredients i would want & need. and even if someone did, the chances they'd be interested in me are quite slim.

well... okay, so that's not entirely accurate. i have met people who might be what i want & need. the thing is, in order for me to be sure, i'd have to really know them well. in order to even "date" someone, i'd have to have a well-established friendship that hadn't been coloured by romance. at least not too much. i'd have to spend years understanding such a person.

anyway: what i'm trying to rereiterate is that i'm thinking through some of these things only to learn about myself, not to make plans for the future. i don't intend to go looking for someone to marry.



so far the answer to this question seems to be, "i'd not have kissed Valerie, and i would've gotten married no earlier than age 30."

i guess that's not such a bad answer.

"what exactly do you want & need?"

well, helpful questioner, i don't entirely know, but i have some ideas:

- spiritual support
the strength of the Body should be present in my wife, just as it should be present in me for her. i am not talking about righteousness or wisdom or any specific spiritual gift or ability... i am talking about devotion. i need-- i don't just want, i NEED-- a wife who is devoted to the pursuit of God, and driven by the Spirit.

tiny rant: i hate it when people talk about "loving God more than spouse." this is absolutely absurd. how can you even compare the two?! God is sovereign, inhuman (partly; sort of) saviour, and woman is helper, flesh-of-man's-flesh. there shouldn't be any comparing of the two. there should be only "love God in the way you should, AND love wife in the way you should."

they are not incompatible with each other, and they certainly aren't hierarchical.

"but isaiah, if a husband ever had to choose between loving wife and loving God, shouldn't he choose God?"

he will never have to make such a choice if he loves each in the right way. quite the effing opposite: by loving his wife, he will be loving God.

end tiny rant. what was i saying before?? oh yeah, things i want & need.

yes... she needs to be consistently driven toward God, throughout her life (not first in life; in and through all of life).

hm what else...

- music

it's too much a part of my life not to put it on this list. i am unwilling to have music and wife separately; i must have both. they must be intertwined. Valerie liked listening to music that matched her mood. i need something far more than that. i need someone who needs to emote via music, someone who values harmony as much as they value a good night's rest. i need someone who will want to sing with me, and with whom i will want to sing.

it's like if i had a kid. a woman who didn't love that kid as much as i did would not be a good candidate.

- a balanced and purposefully-developing brain

that area between the ears can turn me off or on in an instant. that's not to say i only like brainy people; indeed, it's not even so much about intelligence. it's about values... just like the previous two needs/wants. i needwant someone who is driven to become smarter, wiser, more self-aware, more creative, more intuitive, more well-rounded (haha...), more cognitively and sub-cognitively capable.

i need someone who strongly desires to know herself and me, with both hemispheres. i want someone who considers both math and art very important (because i believe they are important). i needwant someone who questions most things, and works hard to find the answers.

- a helpful degree of honey-badgery

oh man. i just had the greatest idea for an endearment.

my dad calls my mom "precious." the more common endearments are "babe," "baby," "dear," "love," "lover," "wife-of-mine," "tenderloins" (okay maybe that's just Caleb), and "honey."

i'm'a call mine "honey-badger." trés cuteé!!!

jk people. (somewhat.) but seriously: i can't be close to someone who folds at the first sign of a conflict. i can't be close with someone (even platonically! at least not mutually) who avoids anything resembling a disagreement. it will not work. i mostly believe that such a person actually has some personal issues that need to be grown out of.

yes... i understand that different personalities handle conflict differently, and that just because someone is less assertive than me doesn't mean they have a problem. in fact, the opposite is probably more true: anyone as assertive as i am probly needs to lighten up. and i have certainly done so in the past few years.

but a person who is incapable of doing battle when necessary is not good for me. they would probably be crushed, even if i continue to become the kind and gentle person i want to be someday. i need someone who has some armour that fits well, and a weapon of some kind (even if it's only a sling and five stones), who can surrender when appropriate and fight to the death when necessary.

they don't need to be perfect in this category... i just need someone who understands the value of honey-badgery, and is at least capable of arguing over something without taking the whole thing personally and collapsing emotionally.

on the other hand, i also need someone who won't fight for the sake of fighting... someone who won't fuel their words with anger, but with fierce love. i guess what i'm saying is i want someone balanced, who doesn't swing too far to either side. at least not very often.

this thought obviously needs more development. but i have things to do today. moving on.

- a well-tempered desire to have children

the thing is... i do want a child, but not enough to begin the process. even if Val & i had had a great relationship, i would have waited quite awhile to have our first kid. i might even be able to go without one.

i don't know how i would feel as a happily-married-for-ten-years man. people tell me that their desires changed after that long. but i need time. and i need someone who won't be pushy about it. someone who doesn't urgently need to have kids. i want to have the freedom to invest in the other values i've already established. i need freedom to enjoy my wife without other major relational commitments.

i understand they're not mutually exclusive; by loving my kids i'd be loving my wife. but i guess i mean to say that, i needwant freedom to enjoy my wife directly. that means going hiking and snowboarding and picture-taking and world-traveling without any luggage that makes noise without my permission.

"harsh!"

*shrug* that's how it is. i want kids, but i want other things more. maybe that would be different later, but i can't plan on it. i really like the idea of having a child, and i really really like the idea of not having one.

- the Melodian interrupted my train of thought and i really needwant to urinate again

this post is three times as long as i intended anyway. and Rocky is on his last leg. let's conclude.



James Kelling is the pseudonym i invented in college, when i had plans to be a superhero / vigilante.

i'm not joking in the slightest. my myspace.com url was (well, is) /jkelling. i loved being able to serve people (always have; especially women, even in elementary), but i hated the attention i got. so i thought, "i'll make up an identity and do loving things in secret, so that people can benefit but i don't have to be noticed. it's brilliant!"

it turns out that doesn't work so well for relational ministry of the type i had in mind/heart. but i still like the idea.

from now on, if i mention James Kelling, you'll know i mean that quest for Spirit-infused self-effacing incognito-when-possible chivalry.

i have no idea what i will be posting next. but i am content in the knowledge that i'm making progress. to be honest, i am still a little mystified as to how i conceived of this plan to kick the morphine and blog a novel about myself. but intuition tells me it's a good plan.

i still miss you.