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Someone I once held dear died two weeks ago. I hadn't talked to this person in nearly nine years.

This could be a story of how much of a dick I am. At this point I'm fairly sure that I'm not. We were never suited for each other, but these things are hard to learn sometimes. I can't imagine a space where either of us would have been able to talk to each other without violent storm clouds tainting our conversations. We inflicted deep trauma on each other, and while we may have worked through those days and dealt with those problems, we were never going to be in a place where we were going to reconnect. Her death doesn't change that equation. I'm moving forward with the idea that this is just the way things were.

Her death was horrible and tragic and utterly heart-wrenching. But I feel like that part of the story isn't mine to tell. That story belongs to her family and friends and those that were closer. I am only in orbit above all of that, trying to figure out what that all means for me and trying to do what is best and contributing where I can.

It has put me in a bad emotional space. I haven't been sleeping well at all. I'm facing feelings that I haven't revisited yet. I am not only grieving for a snapshot of her taken so many years ago, but also taking what amounts to a first pass of what those days meant to me and to us. I've been adamantly avoiding digging around in that dirt since the moment I took myself away from it all. And when I do think about it, it is still hot and burning and full of sorrow and pain, and I'm not sure that I can handle it on my own.

As horrible as all of that is, her death has brought me onto the path of reconnecting with our mutual friend. I also haven't talked with her in nearly nine years.

We have different trauma to deal with, and a different set of clouds that circle us. We have been emailing all week, and it has been good. I think it is the first tentative steps toward working things out between us. I feel like we're on common ground now, and we can work from that place. I've tried to be supportive over the last few days, while she has been helping out our friend's family during their really horrible time. I'd like to think that I was able to help out in this way, and maybe I actually have.

It feels like my past has detonated, and I'm dealing with the result. This world is weird and sometimes fucking terrifying. But this is where I live from now on.

I am sitting at home on my first day off since last Wednesday.

I have been on twelve hour shifts since last March. I usually have to be up at 5:30AM to get to work and don't get back home until at least 8:00PM. I take my sleeping in on my days off seriously.

I do believe that I crave the warm comfortable slumber in the early morning hours more than anything else in my life. On my working days, I sleep in until the last possible moment. I then begrudgingly get up, get dressed, pack lunch and dinner, eat the breakfast, and out the door. Zoom. I would leave my head on the kitchen counter if it wasn't attached to my neck.

Today I got up when I heard the blender downstairs. My wife makes fruit smoothies for herself for breakfast.

I let the dogs out of their crates. They need a good full body scratching first thing. If the duration of the scratching is not to their satisfaction they will not go downstairs.

I have a bowl of Kashi Blueberry Clusters cereal with soymilk. I have the leisure this morning of making myself a cup of espresso.

I worship my espresso machine. I don't use it unless I have time to sit down and mindfully give the espresso the attention it deserves.

When I was away for training in Switzerland, I had the best espresso and little dark chocolates after lunch at the Polytype factory. They took their time at lunch and then took their time to enjoy their coffee before returning to work.

Now in the mornings that I don't have to work, I get to enjoy my espresso, leisurely and lazily.

My wife takes time every morning this way, taking time to settle into her morning. By the time I am up and put the dogs out for potty, she has made her smoothie and has the CBS Early Show on the TV. This morning she has the laptop out, some mornings she is reading on the Kindle.

The uprising in Egypt is getting worse. Vandals and thieves have desecrated the Cairo Egyptian Museum. Filthy swine.

When she leaves, I take over the laptop and check the national weather service's webpage. There is a big blizzard coming. Should hit Tuesday afternoon and last until Wednesday afternoon. Snow falling up to 3 inches an hour. Accumulations likely in excess of 18". Winds gusting up to 50MPH. Travel may become impossible. "Thunder Snow"!

I am giddy with anticipation. Wednesday is my next day to work. They might shut down the factory. SNOW DAY!!! I hope we get two feet! It has been too long since we have had a real snow storm. The east coast had had two major snowstorms this year. Even Atlanta was "paralyzed" by four inches that had the audacity not to melt and evaporate right away. Now it is our turn! Bring it on!

I do hope that we return to Monday-Friday, eight-hour shifts this spring. I admit that all the time off during weekdays gave me a lot of time to tend to the garden last year. That was useful. But all these days off during the week in the winter has given me cabin fever. The Holidays are over and I am longing for spring, for the ground to thaw so I can till the earth.

But winter is long from over. Hell, the Blizzard is going to be on Groundhog's Day. The Early Show will probably call it "The Groundhog's Day Blizzard of 2011.” I drive 32 miles to get to work. If they don't close down the plant I will probably not make it in anyway. I am ready to do some shoveling! If it is going to be winter, let it howl! Bring it on!

5AM to 6 or 7-ish

I love the night. I am alone, free to enjoy it for myself. The tall goth monuments that the skeletal trees become, arching against an overcast sky, grey bled pink with far-off light pollution. I can stare at them endlessly, marvelling. It's such a simple beauty, and so profound for it. No one sees this, no one understands it. Even when they pretend to, they don't take the time to enjoy it. Simply looking at the sky, the trees, even the houses is enough to soothe the soul. They cast interesting shadows, the fronts of white houses glowing like ivory, the trees lit better than a photographer could ever hope for. At least they look that way. Cameras are woefully inadequate.

I was thinking back on this, trying to explain these thoughts to myself better. I've always had trouble sleeping. I'd lie up at night as a kid, just thinking about every insignificant thing. That's easy to believe, since I've used a form of the word "think" three times just now. This is a gift. Waking up late at night, or failing to fall asleep. It's given me this special ability to see the world almost empty. I had to sit in my foyer so I could keep looking at the weeping willow in my front yard. Hard to write this without the visual inspiration. The sky is a greyish pink color, with spots of blue in places. It's amazingly barren. As if there were a hole up there and all outer existence was sucked away. And I love it. That led me to another memory. The anecdotes about how I was supposedly "morbid" as a kid. I mean, I was cheery enough about it. Though I never followed their cultural movements, I may have been born a perky goth in spirit. Supposedly once I told a teacher when she would die in military time. My memory of it was that I was just fucking around, I was in kindergarten, I was not a comic genius just yet. Also, I believe there were two separate occasions that my mother was called to school because I mentioned Dr. Kevorkian. But at least by the second time I was out of elementary.

The final explanation I came up with, even though none is truly necessary, is that everything good in life comes from nature. There is still a lot of snow on the ground, and ice where feet fell. Going out for a walk is the only activity that always succeeds in making me feel better, at least if it is far enough. I'd love to be able to paint these things properly. I thought about trying with my Sumi-e brush, trying to piece together oak and maple and willow and sycamore trees out of lots of little bamboo strokes. Paint is natural. Metals from the Earth, plants, ashes of animals... The papers from trees, obviously, and the brushes sometimes are wood, and the bristles may be the air of hogs, badgers, goats, whatever else. I just finished an education in herbology, that I fought against for a while but finally accepted. It may contribute to this mindset, but the mindset is not new. Not even for me. Something happened between adolescence and now that made me deny such simple truths.

Around 8 to 10AM

Lengthy debate over whether certain comedians, musicians, artists, etc. can be objectively better than others. I understand that pure subjectivity is probably the culturally accepted norm. However, I have these problems with it:

  1. If I work at my craft for four years, learning everything I can, working hard to top myself, then according to this theory, or at least some proponents of it, I won't have gotten any better. Since there is no objective value to my work at the end of the four years versus the work before - since they have no relative value or merit unless it is determined subjectively by an observer - the work is effectively of the exact same quality, and my skills have not gotten greater. As a consequence, education and training are completely pointless for anything like this.
  2. It was mentioned at one point that what the only thing that can be improved at is appealing to more people. It could be inferred, if subjective opinion of things is all that matters, that appealing to the greatest mass means being the best. That would mean that since more people drink Budweiser than Rogue or Samuel Smith's, it is superior. I don't want to be accused of setting up a straw man, so I have to say that this was never stated directly or quite implied, but I believe it has to logically follow from this point of view.
  3. If this is true, then something drawn by Leonardo da Vinci is on perfectly equal footing with a crudely drawn dick in a bathroom stall. Subjective opinion is all that matters, so if I think it is somehow really awesome, then it is at least as good.

I offer this support to my own side:

  • I love punk. I get punk. Because I love it, it doesn't mean that Johnny Rotten is or was a better vocalist than Robert Plant or that Sid Vicious was a better bassist than Flea or Les Claypool. Primarily, this is a difference of technical skill. I will admit that the thought put into something may not determine its value, but the technical skill of the person definitely has an effect. The objection you could raise to this is that, for example, Kurt Cobain was nowhere near as skilled a guitarist as Herman Li, but Nirvana was awesome and Dragonforce is shit. But then, Kurt was a better vocalist (may not have that power metal range, but he could do things very few people can), and a better song writer (there used to be a chart of how many times the words "fire", "flames", "soul" and others appeared on a single DF album). This is what I personally believe. It seems even fair to say that Nirvana is objectively superior.
  • If we were to make a grading rubric, originality would have to factor in. A comedian that steals jokes and delivers them poorly should not be revered as highly as the one who writes all their own material and delivers them brilliantly. Stephen Wright is objectively better than Carlos Mencia, and I will stand by that until the day I die.
  • If I can do something you can't do, and you can do something I can't do, then we may or not be equal in that respect. If you can do something I can't do, and I can't do what you can do, then you have bested me.
  • Snooty as it may sound, intelligence is a determining factor in quality. Just because a comedian is almost universally hated does not mean that he or she is a misunderstood genius. They could just be utterly incompetent. If tastes change in the future, that does not reverse truth. I would also like to point out, in case the argument arises, the theory of multiple intelligences. A person's IQ doesn't have to be high, but you would expect a great writer to have high verbal intelligence.
  • A person's opinion can be objectively wrong. Pretty much no one here isn't going to say that a racist is wrong. No one is going to say that those responsible for human trafficking could ever possibly be right in what they are doing or believing simply because they are entitled to their own opinion. There was a time when a majority of people believed the opposite. Since the majority of society agreed on whatever horrid belief, it was seen to effectively be the truth, and the opposite views were scorned. But if everyone believed that the Earth was the center of the Universe, it didn't make it true. Well, so what, you could say. How is that anything like one person telling better jokes than another? The point is that even though you are entitled to your opinion, you can always be completely wrong. When we die, something has to happen to us. Maybe we go to heaven, burn in the lake of fire, get reincarnated, rot in a hole with no consciousness... I don't know, I don't pretend to know, and I don't really care. But when I die, I might find out the Scientologists were right. I will be distraught if it is possible to be dead and distraught, but I won't be able to deny this reality. Maybe those examples seem ridiculously harsh and unwarranted. I freely admit this. But if they make made my point to anyone then I don't care.

Whenever to about 3PM


3PM to 6

Wrote this thing. Checked to see if I graduated yet. The school received my work today. They did not send me an email, and my grades have not been updated at all. It may take them a while; I finished exams for thirteen courses, in addition to nine projects for a total of over seventy pages. They should have fun with that one.

Really need to finish this story right here. Had a lot of good ideas, but I'm completely shit at realizing them. There's a lot of "tell, don't show" going on. I think with the extra time I'll have I'm going to start reading books. Fiction only if possible, and the longer the better. American Gods has been sitting untouched on my bookshelf since Christmas of 2009. Actually it may have been 2008. I ordered On A Winter's Night A Traveler last week, and it came a bit early.

I have to figure out what to do with my life. I'm not in the same rush I was before. I understand that you have to figure these things out with time, but I can't just hang around and mooch off my parents forever. A friend is willing to mentor me as a DJ, and I'll make a little money at gigs, too. He is brilliant with computers, so maybe I'll learn something new there. I wanted to help him in his repair service, but he says he doesn't need help with that. His wife has me set up to take photos for some events. Their standards aren't very high, but I want to do the best I can. I've thought about offering an editing service to make more money. As it is, what I get paid might not cover expenses. I've considered trying harder at writing and programming this year, but right now that doesn't seem like something I can do. I'm still pretty drained.

Somewhere between 6 and 9

Worked on story. Found a more interesting way to start it, so part of it won't make sense. Don't care, still cool. There are three different POVs right now, or at least two POVs and one journal. Writing is in bite-sized nuggets. Might be annoying, have to see how long it looks.

Somewhere between 8 and 9:30

Looked up J Mascis's rig on guitargeek. So many awesome, beautiful pedals. I saved the pages for later so I could listen to sound samples, and I fantasized about trying everything out. I dream that one day I will make money off of music in some way that justifies buying loads of shit. I tried to decrypt each pedal's place in J's sound, and I figure most of the time the Big Muffs and the fuzz pedals are what's doing it. I mean, the giant Marshalls contribute. But I bet that the Univox Super Fuzz is a big player. Still need to listen. A few of these things are close to $1000, but on the upside, some are under $100. I'm still in no position to get anything now.

9:30 to 11:00

Mostly spent writing. I've finished now, published things. So many Scratch PadsI've left unfinished. Maybe there's time now. Maybe it will come easier. Maybe my proverbial glasses will break and I will shout melodramatically at the sky. I want to post some of my songs. Starting with My Dick Is Angry. I think it's maybe my best work lyrically. I want to record it too, punk screams and angry riffs. Twilight was good, but I actually recorded a demo for that one. They shouldn't be separate, ever again. When I wrote Dark One, I thought it was shit. It looks like it might be worth another try, though. There are several lyrics-only things I did last September that I think I like. Maybe I'll post them here.

Some other interesting stuff this week

Apparently some people really like elf ears. There is something tantalizing about the ability of body modification to constantly surprise me. I mean, I saw the Pain Olympics. Somehow lately I'm more surprised by the subtler things that don't cause permanent physical and psychological damage. Making ears pointy is pretty low on the scale. Come to think of it, this same week is the first time I heard of scarring. That is some crazy shit.

There are flowers shaped like bats. This is the greatest. I never gave half a fuck about flowers before I learned this, and now I want a yard full of them. Giant menacing black bat flowers.

I've learned about two of the most soul-crushingly horrible things I've ever heard of. the Pit of Despair and what Agent Orange does to people. I'd heard of both of these things before, but I don't think I ever saw such graphic details. If you search for Harry Harlow on Google Images, you will see pictures of baby monkeys sucking their thumbs and hugging surrogate mothers, and generally looking a bit like human babies. Except maybe a little better. With the Pit of Despair, monkey babies and monkey toddlers were placed in isolation after they had bonded with their mothers. After ten weeks, they were psychotic, and never recovered. They couldn't interact with normal monkeys, couldn't mate, but Harry wanted to see how their parenting skills were affected. "One mother held her baby's face to the floor and chewed off his feet and fingers." Before he performed these experiments, he had been clinically depressed from the death of his wife, and he received electro-shock therapy. The whole thing is a monument to fucked up. They don't make horror movies anything close to this. And the Agent Orange photos speak for themselves, I guess.

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