May 26, 2013

Know Thyself

I watched the Girl Walk // All Day movie last night. Chapter 7 is my favorite, especially the subway section, and I'll be listening to the Girl Talk All Day album for the foreseeable future. The whole thing is so beautiful and inspiring and bold. Performance art has always fascinated me and even more so, the ones that somehow interact with the viewer.

The other thing I watched was the most recent Brené Brown TED talk. Both of them are absolutely heart stopping. They've made me realize that I probably definitely have a problem with vulnerability. Realize, but not face. I'm still too freaked out to do that. I've always been good at presenting different versions of myself to different people. I always thought it was because I was good at adapting and knowing what people want. But maybe also, it's easier liking the things that someone else likes and putting on that pre-made persona and interests than really pursuing my own. I'm so focused on being able to relate to the people in my life that I don't carve out enough time for myself.

So what's the takeaway here? My longest passions in life have been dancing and writing. I should incorporate more of those two things into what I do in my free time.

Facts Before Fiction
I sat facing the lake, letting the flat, unchanging landscape consume my senses. I felt a slight tug by my elbow.
A small voice floated up into my ear, "What are you doing?"
I turned my head and smiled at him, "Why don't you sit next to me and see for yourself?"
He carefully navigated around the rocks and brushed away the unseen dirt before settling down facing me.
"No, no, turn to face the lake."
He gave me a wary look and slowly complied.
We sat in silence for a minute before I heard, "You know they're looking for you."
I stared straight ahead, anxiety gripping my heart. He glanced over, and seeing my discomfort, said, "I'll sit with you for a few minutes. They won't think to look this far out."
I managed to give a small nod, but my body was still tense, ready for flight at the slightest cough. I thought about the choices that led me to this particular lake and the circumstances that led to me sitting here in my Fiorvanti three piece suit, hours away from saying my vows.

Nick had been the backbone of the marriage movement. He came from a family of activists, so diverse and varied that you could have sworn they married based on which cause they hadn't taken up yet. So when he turned to me and proposed amidst the wild cheering and tears, I knew it was a moment he had been waiting for his entire life.

I, on the other hand, came from a family of easily distracted, laid-back yacht owners. How I ended up with someone like Nick is a constant source of speculation for anyone who has chatted with us for more than ten minutes. Yet here I was, looking out at Lake Garda, unsure for the first time of the direction my life was heading.

I rolled my shoulders and stood up. No one will be upset if the wedding is postponed a day. We're in Italy after all.

May 9, 2013

What I Like

There are a few things that I like for no other reason than the fact that I actually like them. Sure, maybe someone introduced it to me, but I didn't start liking it because they liked it too. I'm not sure yet if this distinction is important because who isn't influenced by their friends and lovers? Sometimes though, I feel like I lose sight of who I am and that I'm just a shell of a person that's been stuffed with things that other people like and have soaked up their excitement to the point where I'm bloated and only sort of enjoy the food that I'm constantly sampling.

So here's an attempt at trying to distill only the things that I'm sure I like, solely because they're meaningful to me, or they make me happy.

Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead
Ever since I saw a graduate production of this play my freshman year at UW, I have been in love with it. Initially because of the hilarious first bit, but now also for the way it presents existentialism and nihilism, both of which are things that I've struggled to comprehend and understand in relation to how I feel about my own life and its place in the world.

Fight Club
I saw this movie for the first time in the theaters knowing next to nothing about it. I've re-watched it several times throughout the years and every time it's inspiring and reckless and freeing. I used to be much more violent and volatile growing up and sometimes I miss that physicality. I'm still reckless and stubborn. Sometimes I have the overwhelming feeling of purposefully not giving a shit and wanting to see it all burn to the ground.

Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy
I've read this book several times and always makes me laugh. Similarly in this vein, Good Omens.

Hip Hop
I like feeling like a badass while I do it and related to this, dancing in general.

Ping Pong
My dad and I used to go across the street to our neighbor's garage and play ping pong at night. It's been a really long time since I've played it competitively against someone. Zach and I played while we were in Antigua and it made me miss the intense bouts and being actually good at it.

Making this list makes me wonder if I have a broad category of thing that is my forte. I guess I generally like point-and-click games and puzzle games. I like knitting. I will read just about anything. Does "Going to new and weird things" count as a thing in itself?

Still, a large portion of the things I do are only partially because I like them/are interested in them, but mainly so that I can connect with people and have something to discuss with them. I'm trying to keep tabs on the ratio, but hanging out and doing stuff with people is a big part of my life (when I'm not being all "I hate people"). The only problem is that with the large number of people I know, they all have a wide variety of interests and hobbies and I can't hope to keep up to date on all of them, much less get good at them. And anything that I'm not pretty good at generally loses a magnitude of fun and interest for me.

So, I'm toying with the idea of picking one thing a month or so and spending time boning up on it and having it be a focus. Topics would include story games, sci-fi/fantasy novels, game design/development, cigars, whiskey, blues dancing, beer, cooking, anime, specific video games (TF2, SC2), coffee, steampunk, punk, goth, the pin-up/suicide girls style, tattoos, leather, bootblacking, noir films, Mad Max apocalypse style, specific nerdy subcultures (Star Trek, Star Wars, Firefly, Dr. Who), Magic: The Gathering, Pathfinder, and D&D, specifically DMing.

That's at least two years worth of research topics, most of which I know something about, but would by no means consider myself an expert. Is there really anything that I would consider myself an expert on? I suppose maybe knowing events that are going on around the city, coming up with an outfit, places to eat, and making a presentation or document better. I wanted to put in there something about people, like knowing who is good people or flirting my way into people's pants...but neither of those things are especially teachable. Not reliably anyway.

And Tonight the Night Rules Us
"Catch it! Catch it!"
The crush of bodies made breathing almost impossible but she held out her hand and willed the spiked ball to fall into it. She got her wish. It impacted and shattered into blue wisps which floated up in front of her eyes and faded into her coinage. Immediately the pressure was gone and she took a deep, victorious breath.

Ignoring the jealous stares, she squeezed into the minicar that materialized, allowing herself a small smile. She would eat well tonight. The minicar sank back into the ground and entered the vast underground tunnels that honeycombed the Earth, the magnitude of which constantly took her breath away.

She closed her eyes and resisted the constant urge to check her social networks, knowing that her rank was blowing up and that the requests for bumps would soon follow. Instead, she called up a quick meditation app and selected the japanese garden 5 minute exercise. As she followed the instructions, picking up fragments of the lyrical Japanese that could be barely heard under the voiceover English, she felt her mind sharpen. Nothing like a nice quick defrag to calm her nerves.

All too soon the minicar glided to a stop. She popped out and entered the maze, her clothing changed to bright yellow as soon as she crossed the threshold. Giant balls of delicious flavored rice hovered in front of her face and she ran through the hallways, eating as much as she could and savoring the fresh fruit. But nothing could match the thrill of hunting down those who pursued her and consuming their flesh. Her eyes glittered in the darkness, jaws constantly chomping and swallowing each morsel before wiping her face with her arm, leaving a bright red smear.

May 8, 2013

Unable to Set a Good Pace

It's now becoming normal to go to bed at 11 or 11:30 on weeknights. It used to be that 10:30 was late. This is probably terrible for me overall since sleep is important for a lot of reasons, but it just feels like a chore that I don't want to do. Sure I feel tired and sluggish, but that doesn't instantly translate to going upstairs and lying down and closing my eyes.

Went to the opera tonight with W. It was two short operas,  La Voix Humaine and Suor Angelica. One was about a breakup over the phone, the other about a woman who was forced to become a nun because she had a son out of wedlock. It's crazy what love will make people do. In one scene, the woman wraps the phone cord around her neck and tells him that she has his voice wrapped around her neck. But in all actuality, it's not really that weird. It makes perfect sense. When you're distraught, weird things will make you feel better and sometimes, immediately make you feel worse.

A Lasting Note of Solitude
The sun burned so hot and so brightly that she imagined she could see the steam coming off of her skin as she stepped out of the heavily AC-ed store and onto the sidewalk. I'm melting she thought to herself and imagined sinking into the cracks and being stuck to the shoes of people who would walk all over her and scatter her like wet paint down the street. But she stayed whole and solid and kept on walking. She tried to enjoy the heat that made sweat drip down her back and caused her shirt to stick to her skin. Tried to force herself not to squint in the bright light, which she knew made her look angry and confused, and instead take in the vibrant colors and soak her rods and cones. She wanted to tear off her clothes and have the sun judge her and burn its touch deep into her skin. She took a deep breath. And turned the corner, slipping into the shadow, an escape that chilled her momentarily, but soon enough, she no longer missed the warmth of the sun. Back to zero.

May 7, 2013

Of Art and Soul

I am a voracious consumer of things and experiences, most of which is Art of some kind. But I see all of my friends creating art and I'm frustrated that I have no art of my own. Bits and pieces here and there...but it's nowhere near the same level. For a long time I thought it was because I was afraid of starting, of having nothing to say. But as I'm getting over that, I'm realizing that the real issue is that I don't like to spend time with myself, by myself. I prioritize going out and hanging out with people, consuming shows, games, and books, and pretty much everything else above setting aside time to be quiet and think and be in order to create. One of the only things that I spend creative time thinking about is the outfits and costumes I put together.

I still have the sense that I'm not being as efficient with my time as I should be. I want to go camping so bad, but I'm anxious that my weekends are filling up and so I want to plan which ones I should go camping on, but I feel like all my efforts at planning things in advance are always rebuffed because no one else plans their time out that far. Maybe the solution is to try camping on my own (which I've never done) or not be so set on having everyone be able to come. I have an additional 5 whole days of vacation time this year that are currently unallocated. Two of those days could go towards Christmas, so that I could have the entire week off, and/or I could start taking three day weekends during the summer months and go camping. Another amazing thing is that I have 4 1/2 days of sick time accrued. This is literally the most sick time I've had at any one point in the last 8 years.

The obvious solution is to start blocking off time to work on a project. And maybe after getting going on something, I can work on it in a group setting. And spend some time coming to terms with my fear of not being able to do the things that I want to and finding ways to do them that aren't dependent on others. Really just trying to be more independent. Because I feel like I'm trying to sustain myself right now and not doing a good job.

His obsession was collecting the last bit of things. Candles that were more horizontal than vertical, boxes and boxes of shampoo with a film of product stuck at the bottom, slivers of soap, the last piece of paper in a ream...his house was full of one-use items. It wasn't even something he thought about anymore, whenever something he was using got down far enough, he would casually put it aside, always knowing when there was just enough left. He lived his life like this, never experiencing the end, but always the beginning. It kept him from becoming disillusioned and he spent hours walking slowly around his almost empty house, picking up items and remembering and imagining the possibilities. No item was tossed aside from being used up. Each lovingly saved from the abyss by a careful owner, its servitude remembered for years to come.

May 3, 2013

Importantness of Sleep?

I have been getting less sleep than usual this week. Two late nights of movies, both of which were pretty great and wildly different (Upstream Color vs. Iron Man 3). Work has been pretty relaxed this week, which was good. As a result, I spent some time adding things to my Amazon Wish List.

If you read this blog and like it, vote by
buying me something off of my wish list
donating to my Be the Match 5k run.

The Bear That Would Not Sleep
All throughout the life of Bearkins Beary Bear, sleep was the lowest priority. The urge to claw every moment out of life was strong with this one. Then one day, BBB was shot by a zoo keeper. The shot knocked BBB out and when BBB awoke, iron bars surrounded a bare, concrete room that the world had shrunken to.

Railing day and night did nothing and the drugged periods of unconsciousness that served as deeply resented "sleep" only served to fuel the rage and determination.

BBB was so intent on escaping from the zoo keeper's prison that one day, thought became action, and action became reality. Eyes closed, BBB took a final leap at the unyielding iron bars and with a breath of every ounce of soul, phased into and through the bars and escaped.

May 1, 2013

Xhip Xhape

I wrote up this blog post about one of our D&D sessions many many months ago and neglected to post it because I don't think I was done with the post, but it's definitely too late now because I can't remember anything else. I enjoyed writing these though. Write-ups are somewhat a chore, but I also like being able to infuse what happened with some creative flairs.

You know you're in the Material Realm when people gawk at you instead of averting their eyes or ignoring you.The Gray Hand appeared on a newly built teleportation portal in the modest town square of an up and coming village. Malek jumped down and stopped a farmer that had a basket of potatoes on his back.
"Say, what's the name of this town?"
"This is Water Down, sir."

As the farmer turned to go, Malek closed his eyes and did some calculations in his head. After a few moments, he turned back to the rest of The Gray Hand and said, "We're about 50 miles from where we parked the Xebec. How about some Phantom Steeds Inadia?"

Ten minutes later, The Gray Hand galloped silently out of town and soon came upon a riverbank and the cavern where Malek met his most recent untimely death. The cliff still bore the deep claw gouges from the Hydra as it struggled to regain its footing before failing and falling.
"You went down first last time, you want to go down first again?"
Malek shrugged nonchalantly, "Sure, I have plenty of rope for it."
"I'll come with you...uh, you know, in case you need help finding the ship." Cytharyan turned slightly and winked surreptitiously at Inadia and Kalavich.

Once the all clear was given from below, Inadia and Karash made their way down the rope. Inadia pulled out a pair of gloves to protect her hands and used Magic Hand to make the descent more enjoyable. As they cleared the branches and moss from the Xebec, they decided to make their way to Mackelton to see if they could find some kobolds to clean the ship of the accumulated grime and decay from its years in "storage".

As they flew over the town, they were mildly surprised and intrigued to see that in the time they had been gone, the town had apparently assimilated with neighboring towns since they could see a mix of kobolds and humans. While such a thing was not entirely unheard of, the difference in intelligence and skills would normally lean towards a second class citizenship for the kobolds. The Gray Hand touched down with a flourish in the town square, which was sadly devoid of its statue of Malek.

Malek and Cytharyan disembark and after some inquiry, find themselves in front of a lanky human, who frankly looked at them with suspicion.
"What business do the likes of you have here?" He asked gruffly.
Malek looked at Cytharyan for a moment and said slowly, "Well, I have some history with this town, back when it was inhabited with only kobolds. We were in the area so we decided to make a quick social visit. What's the name of the town now?"
"New Hope. It's been called that for about 8 months now."
Cytharyan, sensing the man's skepticism, quickly interjects, "We're also looking for a few able bodies to help clean up our ship. We just took it out of storage and it could use a thorough going over."
The man relaxes slightly, "Well, as long as you're not here to cause any trouble, we always welcome coin. I'll see if I can round up some folks."

They take their leave and a few streets down, found a kobold that didn't seem occupied. They sauntered up to the kobold and struck up a conversation.
"So how long have you been living in Mac...New Hope?"
The kobold looked skittish, but quickly answered, "Few months sirs, not long."
Malek casually took out a gold coin and started twirling it between his fingers. The kobold perked up slightly, his eyes mesmerized by the twinkling of coin.
"Do you know of any kolbolds that have been here for a year or more?"
The kobold furrowed his brow in thought and then nodded, "Only one left is Old Wise One." Malek flipped him the coin. He caught it with surprise but it quickly dawned on him how to play this game. As Malek took out another coin, he seemed positively eager to please and was shifting from one foot to the other.
"Where does the Old Wise One live?"
"OUTSKIRTS." The kobold's eyes bugged out with his exclamation and he panted with excitement, as if he was afraid someone would buzz in before him and give the right answer. He also waved his arm frantically in the direction that they should go. Malek tossed him the second coin and gave a short laugh. He and Cytharyan set out.

The wooden house was humble and the interior was cozy, though simply furnished. As they entered, they were met by an elderly kobold (think Yoda but not green).
"Welcome! My name is Ikik."
"Well met Ikik. We heard that you were the last kobold that remember back when New Hope used to be Mackelton and..."
Ikik suddenly interrupted, "Lord Malek! Forgive me for not recognizing you right away! Please sit!" He shakes he head and says, "Yes, I am the last one. Heathens have taken over the town and that is why I live on the outskirts." He suddenly brightens and says, "Is that why you're here sir? To strike fear into the New Hopeians? Things have been going downhill ever since you left."
"No, I just came to to let you know that we tracked down the people responsible for the massacre. They were given no mercy."
Ikik's eyes grew misty and he looked down as he said, "Thank you Lord Malek. My son was one of the ones killed that terrible terrible day."
They all sat in companionable silence, thinking back to that day.
"Lord Malek..." Ikik hesitated and the hand that was holding his cane shook.
"Yes Ikik? What is it? Don't be afraid to speak up."
"Please sir, take me with you. There's nothing left for me here and I swear I will make myself useful!"


A crowd of muscular men and a few stout kobolds crowded around the Xebec all clamoring for a chance to be chosen to help clean the ship. Inadia chose the eight most able souls and two kobolds (to get into the small parts of the ship) and lowered a rope for them to climb up.
"We'll pay you each a gold coin for your work, but not until after you've earned it you hear? Now get started!"
Inadia closely supervised the work and when dinner time rolled around, she shook her head distractedly and said, "No, no, I can't leave the ship. Feel free to go, and send some dinner here for me."
The rest of The Gray Hand met at a nearby tavern and ate lamb. Kalavich and Ikik enter into a drinking contest, a nightly ritual for Kalavich whenever he can find a willing opponent. They each have a keg of the best ale the tavern has to offer and go to town. In the midst of the drunken revelry, Kalavich looks away for a moment and when he looks back, Ikik is no where to be seen. When he hops off of the chair, he sees Ikik slumped underneath the table. Apparently the kobold had passed out and slid off his chair. Kalavich shakes his head and picks up the kobold and slings him over a shoulder. And since his keg is already empty, he also takes Ikik's half finished keg and slings it over his other shoulder and makes his way back to the ship.

After unburdening himself, Kalavich suddenly noticed a flash of movement out of the corner of his eye. He promptly drunkenly searches the Xebec and unsurprisingly finds nothing of note. In the morning, everyone shrugs at his inarticulate mumbling about seeing, yet not seeing something. They take off and make for Kingston, where they land in the town square, making quite a hubbub, which is exactly what they wanted. They roll into the priciest inn in town (feather beds and all!) and party until the morning.
The next day, Inadia puts Magic Mouth on the ship to announce their intention of interviewing candidates to crew the ship. Two women and three men are hired at 20g/month. With that taken care of, Inadia and Cytharyan find a magic shop and while Inadia cleans them out of their reagents, Cytharyan takes the opportunity to practice his skills and steals a few potions.

A Poem for Me

don't do enough
for you.

But I want to be heard.
I want to be understood.


I want to feel connected -
embraced & accepted

Open up a port.

It's not secure
It's not safe
You'll hack my shores.

Weak signals are unreliable. Uselsss. Slow.
My interests
My wants