I would rather be ashes than dust!
I would rather that my spark should burn out
in a brilliant blaze than it should be stifled by dry-rot.
I would rather be a superb meteor, every atom
of me in magnificent glow, than a sleepy and permanent planet.
The function of man is to live, not to exist.
I shall not waste my days trying to prolong them.
I shall use my time.
– Jack London, Credo
I wrote this in a long post a couple years ago, but I really like it still, so it bears repeating:
Looking back, every person I consider important — every relationship, male or female, that means something to me — initially flared up in my life like a struck match.
They already posted the photo to Facebook, so I guess it’s safe to share…
Congratulations to Jesse and Tara on their marriage. It was a beautiful day, for an wonderful couple.
I posted this back in April, to a private thing. At the time, I didn’t want to stir up any real trouble. But I think everyone has sorted themselves out a bit more by now. By way of editor’s notes, Chiaroscuro was a “goth/industrial” club in DC and Spellbound, in their own words, is “Alternative, Darkwave, and Industrial”… a Goth/Industrial nightclub.
At Spellbound this week, I had a regular attendee question me. They came up to me multiple times, and asked why I was there. I wasn’t dressed right, so I obviously wasn’t goth. I shouldn’t be there. So why did I go there?
Surprisingly, my first reaction wasn’t “Dude… you’re getting in the way of my intoxicated white guy dance, and numerous attempts to get shot down by that hot chick!” But aside from pointing out that I obviously had dressed up for a night out, I generally ignored him. What are you supposed to say, to such a ridiculously immature question?
I could argue that I’ve been attending since the night it opened, when I came out in support of a friend’s involvement, and Chiaroscuro before that. I could point out that Spellbound doesn’t bill itself as strictly “goth”. But the more I thought about it, the more I realized how important these clubs had/have been to my life.
People I met in Chiaro turned into some of my best friends. At least one of them was wearing a pink suit at the time, no less. (And years later, as a wife and mom, she is still more of an awesome badass than any chain-draped, boot-wearing, pierced freak I’ve met since.) In fact, probably 95% of the people I’ve met at these clubs have been the sweetest, smartest, most interesting people I know. People who’ve supported me, comforted me, challenged me, protected me, changed me.
When I found out my father was in a hospital about to pass away, I had 16 hours until my flight, so I went to Spellbound. One awesome lady who didn’t even know what was going on in my life sat with me at the back of the bar all night and cheered me up.
More than once when I couldn’t deal with the crap in my own life, I was able to go to Spellbound and stare at the dance floor, listening to music I love… and just zone out for a while. As someone said to me this week… “attain a zen state”.
When I first started drinking, rather late in life, this was a safe place for me to learn. I felt safe, both with the staff and the people around me.
It’s brought me friends. It’s brought me business. It’s brought me lust and love. It’s introduced me to music and lifestyles and art I never would have known otherwise. I’ve been to other types of clubs, bars and events, and awesome as some of them were, they still didn’t match up.
With the help of their teams, Kelowna and Lori Beth created wonderful places to go, that have led me directly and indirectly to a place where I am very happy with my life.
So that’s kind of why I go.
So… drunk guy… you’re saying you go primarily to look like a cool goth?
Friday – Amanda’s Birthday
Saturday – Shannon’s Birthday
You have to shut off all of those voices and look for these special moments—these moments that you accept you have no control over. So much of my job is to not think—to be open to what’s there, and then use my intuition to see where it takes me.
– Rick Rubin
I posted the following two bits on Facebook a couple weeks ago; but I wanted to share them here as well, for long term archiving:
So yes. As of yesterday evening, the sale of the house is officially complete. I am now a poor homeowner.
Commentary on the whole thing will come. But for now, I want to thank two people, without whom it never would have happened: Heidi and Jason.
Heidi contributed to changing almost everything in my life in the last few years. And without her support in numerous ways, I never could have gotten to the end of this process.
Jason went above and beyond the call of duty as a realtor/broker. I can’t imagine a better problem-solver or more enthusiastic conspirator. Even if you’re only thinking about buying a place, you should start talking to him now. I’ve watched him help so many of my friends through every step of the process.
Still haven’t written up the dirty laundry behind the home sale. But, since I already thanked a couple people, I wanted to extend that out a bit. Plenty of people helped me out over the course of the thing. The people who helped me move stuff in and out of storage. People who loaned me tools and such. People who listened to the good and the bad. People who took me out and made me forget my stress. People who offered to beat up the offending parties. Not gonna try and list names, because I would no doubt forget someone. But you all were awesome.
The home sale is done. I moved in 2 days ago. The house is still empty, until I get my belongings out of storage. (Interesting to note that everything I own fits in a 10’x10′ storage unit).
Starting over is scary shit. But it’s not like there’s an alternative. Can think of much worse ways to start over.
Resolutions, goals, whatnot. What do I want to do or get from the coming year.
I’ll publish a photo book. I don’t know what theme there will be yet. Lots of possibilities. But I want to do something new with my photographs. So I will put together a book, and offer it up on a print-on-demand service. Actually selling anything is a pretty low priority. Putting together an Artomatic exhibit this past year was an experience. So now onto another new one.
I’ll buy a house. I’ve actually been at this for probably close to half a year. But sadly, even though I have a contract, we haven’t yet made it to closing. Knock on wood, we will close shortly after New Years. And then the real fun begins. There’s all the excitement and fun I look forward to … painting, decorating, hosting, renovating… . And there’s all the unexpected problems… furnace, leaks, thefts, breakage. There’s the fear, of being responsible. There’s the accomplishment of another new way to take control of my life. It’s going to be something.
More to come…?
Wonderful night out with friends… well… most of the second half of last week. Thursday was the Die Antwoord concert I’d been waiting for. Friday I got out of the house as needed, and ended up bar hopping on H Street with friends and catching a Burlesque Show at the Red Palace. (Ran into Katie, from the Derby… very nice to see her again).
Saturday was the housewarming for Eldridge. He has a wonderful new place out in the woods of suburban MD. There was fire, watermelon decapitation, lightsaber fights with hawt chicks, and plenty of barbecued meat. Rounded out the night sitting on the roof with awesome friends, watching the party dwindle down below.
I grew up in Central NY. Very rural. Think pig farms, corn fields, and cow barns. Pre internet days; so if it wasn’t in the library and your friends didn’t know about it, then it didn’t exist. A fairly conservative upbringing. All within reason of course. My parents were either fairly open-minded, or at least they were willing to let me do things even if they thought those things were stupid.
But my life since then gets progressively weirder. College is obliged to be weird. But while I never even considered it at the time, you might have expected a move to DC to involve fairly conservative lifestyle. But, well, yeah, no.
Between DC, and various offshoots of my life here, I find myself exposed to, and living in, a life that is full of variety, flavor, and thank gawd, the occasional vice. My friends are a wonderfully eclectic group. As a whole, they do everything, they love everything, they try everything. And if they don’t, someone they’re about to introduce me to probably does. In the language of my rural upbringing, I’m surrounded by freaks. And I love them all. But I have a special place in my heart for the truly non-linear. The people who’ve moved whole-heartedly away from the existing social conventions. Sex, drugs, love, art, body, and home. They don’t experiment with alternative ideas; they are living them. And the extreme end of those people; the ‘strangest’ ones; the one’s who never would have existed in the small world I grew up in… those are the most amazingly sweet, caring , wonderful people. They’re the most mature, about these strange lifestyles. And they’ve never failed to smile when they see me, talk to me when needed, and watch out for me at all times. My friends are all awesome, but the freaks are truly the best.
2011: my year in photos. same criteria as always, which is just about anything. Some are meaningful, some are pretty, some are interesting, some…
A year ago tonight I met this wonderful woman. And now my life has changed in many ways, and I love her more all the time.
(As always, tons more photos on flickr.)
Better to be ridiculous and make an impact, than to be polite and unremarkable.
Let the philosophers rave on about the summum bonum and mystics about embracing God. They are still vertical humans and therefore even their adorations still have something aggressive about them. Humans in the horizontal position have always struck me as less likely to be violent and destructive. So I take my place beside the poets, and less arrogant than the philosopher or mystic, am prepared to find the greatest good and embrace God whenever I hold a woman in the act of love. It is then I know with assurance and inexpressible delight that whatever it is life promises us, this must be it; and that a universe containing this experience must have something grandly important going for it.
— Irving Layton (via Katie West)
Last weekend, in recovery mode after a party of which no photos will be posted here, some friends revealed ignorance of the joys of wet corn starch. This needed to be resolved, and the next hour or so was spent playing at the dining table, and making a thoroughly satisfying mess.
Things that strike me about Geneva every time I visit:
- trees, trees, trees
- slate sidewalks
- greeting strangers
- they big sky
- the big fucking lake
- children playing on the sidewalks
- Queen Anne’s Lace
- names ending in vowels
- the smell of fresh, green air
Being a “nice guy” is like being an alcoholic, in that you’re never really cured. There’s always that little bit of something in the back of your mind, waiting to jump out and take over your life again. So I speak from personal experience, but hopefully at a distance. It certainly feels like a drastic change occurred in my life within the last few years. And there’s plenty of evidence to support that. But I’ve been feeling like maybe I’m in a unique place, able to see the issue from both sides.
For the sake of less arguments, let’s define what a “nice guy” is. You’ve met them. You know them. You’ve listened to them talk, and talk, and talk. If you’re a woman, you think they’re your sweet, vaguely clueless friend. If you’re a man, you’re friends with them; but you find yourself shaking your head a lot at what they do. And if you are them, you have a justification for everything I’m going to say, anyway.
The “nice guy” label doesn’t come from a good place. Although these men probably are pleasant overall, the name has nothing to do with desirable personality traits. It comes from what is a common refrain, when discussing male/female interaction with these men. “Women don’t want nice guys. They want assholes.” Or “I’m a nice guy, so women never want me.” You know you’ve heard this dozens, if not hundreds of times. Most likely among guys talking to guys. If it’s a guy talking to a woman, I promise you he has a crush on you, but doesn’t think he has any real chance; but maybe if they can just convince you…
Those discussions always proceed with great amounts of logic and reasoning. Always with the logic. Like many things in my life, I always felt safe retreating to logic. “Well… if you look at it in this common sense way… A + B = C, then I’m right, even if it didn’t work out.” And while I was almost certainly correct, it was completely beside the point. I was trying to use logic as a defense in human relationships, which are at their core, completely illogical.
The nice guy will eventually tell you where he has firmly positioned himself in the whole scheme of relationships. “I don’t even try anymore.” “I don’t need to be in a relationship to be happy.” “She wasn’t what I was looking for, anyway.” “I just can’t meet women, because of X”.
And the nice guy is going to do this…. over, and over, and over and over… the nice guy telling you about their dating life at 25 will sound pretty much the same at 30, and 35, and…
Why are we like this? I would guess a little bit of conditioning, and — if current science is to be believed — a little bit of biology. Second point first, ‘nice guys’ are almost always geeks to some extent. While they may not wear a pocket protector, the personality quirks are still there. Often with a strong leaning toward Asperger’s-type traits.
But the conditioning part is what interests me most about all this. “Why did I think about men, women, and relationships in this way?” In general, everyone you’ve met shares the same large cultural reference pool. So it’s probably not a question of strictly ‘what’ you’re exposed to. I had the same interests as anyone else. And to some extent, they even matured as I got older. But especially when you’re talking about the sexes and how they interact, there was always a certain amount of unflattering naiveté. Like I was looking at the world through a Norman Rockwell painting, or Disney colored glasses. Women are great, but you put them on a relatively chaste pedestal. Dating always leads to something more involved when it goes well. Sex is great, but it’s walled off in it’s own little world. I would like to say it’s a sort of junior-high point of view of the adult world. But I’d guess junior high kids today are less clueless than I was.
Many years ago, when I first started questioning the “Women don’t like nice guys” mantra, I said that maybe it’s not ‘assholes’ they want so much as confident men. Confidence is absolutely an attractive trait. Real or faked, it gets me better results in both business and personal life, regardless of whether I actually know what I’m doing. But… like everything else… I don’t know if this is really so clear cut. Confidence is a symptom of a personality that is outgoing, that takes initiative. You’re not sitting back examining life, but you’re actually participating in it. You’re engaged, good or bad.
Those kinds of traits absolutely run contrary to the mental process of a nice guy. These men don’t want to exert themselves on someone. “I’ll just tell this person I’m interested in about myself, and if they’re likewise interested, they’ll let me know, and we’ll…” …whatever. It sounds so mature, and logical. But relationships don’t start out like you’re drafting some mutually beneficial contract. Looking back, every person I consider important — every relationship, male or female, that means something to me — initially flared up in my life like a struck match.
What about sex? For nice guys, it’s this great thing that will come about after you’ve established a relationship with someone. While you’re by no means celibate or ashamed of sex, it’s not part of this early connection with someone. It’s a secondary, or tertiary stage. This one is harder to discuss intelligently. If relationships — as I said earlier — are completely illogical, sex is completely insane. Sex is hormones coursing through the blood telling you to do ridiculous things that probably even violate the laws of physics. What on earth made nice guys think this blood/sweat/magic thing can be left out of the discussion? A romantic relationship doesn’t lead to sex. Sex is part of a romantic relationship. Leave it out, even initially, and you’re leaving out a vital ingredient. The unspoken promise of sex, the looks, the hand on the other person, the holding, the actions themselves. Some female friends recently stated that while yes they wanted nice men, (presumably with a looser definition than mine), they wanted nice men who would put them over the arm of the couch and fuck them. The idea that women want to have sex isn’t shocking. But the sheer directness and central nature — that struck out at my dormant “nice guy”. Every woman I’ve asked about this has agreed with the main point, without question. Even better? The women who made the initial comment are the geekiest, most intelligent, uber-nerdy, (honestly… Asperger-ish) women I know. Apparently there are no “nice women”.
How do I think of life and relationships now?
Life is chaos. Try to simplify it and make it manageable and understandable, and you’re actually stripping out the things that make it worth living. If you dive into the chaos and let things swirl around you, it’s fascinating what you will see and experience. A hour of unexpected, new, exciting things is worth many times even the most enjoyable pre-planned day.
Relationships are similar. Don’t go in with a plan. Just go in. Interact in every way that comes up. Say every stupid thing that comes into your head. Forget everything you’ve ever seen or read, because every human relationship is unique. If there’s a connection, seize it immediately. And if not, that person still fits in your life somewhere.
This is one of those instances where the photo isn’t necessarily flattering, but is a wonderful image. Captured Sunday afternoon while enjoying caffeine in the park.
It’s a bit frustrating. There were like 6 epic things that happened this weekend that I can’t or won’t talk about publicly. Poo. But it was a damn good weekend, overall.
So… are you coming to my birthday party this Friday?
We are here to ruin ourselves and to break our hearts and love the wrong people and die. The storybooks are bullshit. Now I want you to come upstairs with me and get in my bed!
— Nicolas Cage to Cher in Moonstruck
There is no cure for birth and death save to enjoy the interval.
– George Santayana
I just posted my annual collection of photos, for 2009. (Yes… a little late). Same as always: It’s a collection of photos I took last year. The criteria for inclusion is subjective. Some I liked for technical reasons. Some for aesthetic reasons. Some were important events or people, (or cats). Some… I just felt should be in there. They’re not the best of the best… they’re just 2009.
In past years, I’ve felt like I didn’t do much. But towards the end of last year, going through my archives, I was reminded of how much had gone on, and with who. Flipping through these photos made me very happy.
I think I have fulfilled one of my lifelong goals, with this comment I received today:
I know I needed the laugh and believe it or not u r the first one I think of when I think of any comment about my ass!! hard to believe I know
So last night as I’m heading out the door, I get a call saying I can come pick up my replacement lens, today. Whee!
So… I head out the door. And I end up having a very enjoyable night. To the point where I’m sitting on the Metro on the ride home, realizing I’m smiling like an idiot. Probably freaking out people across from me.
I fell asleep on the couch. So when I rolled over and finally opened my eyes this morning, I was facing the bay windows. And the first sight of the day was a crystal clear, deep blue sky. The white curtains were swept back, and three of my favorite portraits were propped up against the wall.
I wake up, just in time to get a call from one of my clients saying that, without provocation, they had negotiated a 50% increase in my fee for a monthly project I do.
(Click on any image for the whole set)
When the hell did it get to be 4:30 AM? Last time I checked, it was 1:50. Then there was hawt chicks, and crepes. and music and …
Oh I give up.
Often when I’m walking the streets at night, after being out with friends, (or while still in the act), I really have this urge to just wander and take pictures. Cities take on this whole new life at 2 or 3 AM on Fridays and Saturdays. Crowds fill the street like it was rush hour. And cars line up from corner to corner.People are loud and boisterous. Instant connections are made that last 30 seconds. The police can be seen around the edges, not so much strictly enforcing the law as encouraging people to keep the mal-drama to a minimum.
Sounds to me like the perfect place to take pictures.
It’s come up in several discussions with friends that they don’t always bring their cameras into questionable areas, or places they could get damaged. It’s reasonable. But for myself, my choice was always to bring the camera just about anywhere. I’d rather run the risk — especially since these are often the more interesting situations — and get some great shots. Cameras can be repaired, but moments can’t be relived.
Though honestly I wasn’t too worried about having my camera out in a nice hotel room in downtown Atlanta. But even so, while at Dragon*Con, a rather large, solid, intoxicated man landed on me, and knocked my camera to the ground.
A 3 month old lens. Ultra-wide angle, so not exactly cheap. By the next morning, when I went to pick up the camera, I noticed the lens body separating into two pieces. And it’s been getting slowly worse ever since. As of this afternoon, the auto-anything was dead. I couldn’t zoom, and it was still sagging.
Took it into Penn. $150 estimated repair, though that’s just their average for this kind of lens. 4 to 6 weeks wait. And even then, I won’t be surprised if it’s not salvageable.
Eh. I’m not really too upset. I did get plenty of wonderful shots that night with the lens. And none of the damage was intentional. Even in his drunken state, the first thing the guy worried about was wether he’d damaged the camera. It sucks, but life goes on.
I have no doubt I am being greatly biased by my wonderful memories of Friday night, but…
I really like this kind of picture. Reasonably good quality. Highly dynamic. High Contrast. Capturing a very specific, unique moment. And it never would have looked this good on my previous camera.
There were some other great shots that night:
I haven’t tried to make New Year’s resolutions since I was in elementary school. And I’d surely break every one of them if I tried now. But I’m not going to try. It doesn’t fit with the way I handle those kinds of things.
But the New Year does make me introspective. Retrospective? Contemplative? One of those -ives. So in the last few days I’ve been thinking about how my life is going.
I am healthy. Compared to many of my friends, and most of my family, I’m incredibly healthy. I am secure. Living in a decent place. I’ve been running my own business for over 4 years, and making a living off it. And the number of ways that has changed my thinking for the better are innumerable. I have every toy I’ve ever wanted, and learned that I’m happier with less of them. In recent years, I’ve gotten back in touch with many old friends, and made many new ones. That’s probably the best thing on this list. And those friends and family let me take pictures. I don’t have “that 1 special woman”, but I do have so many women in my life that mean more to me than any of the past “1 special womens”.
And I have a cat.
I’m not happy with my life, because to me that implies being content. And I have way to many things I want to do, to be content. I am, instead, just very happy.
When did 15k a second get to be too slow? When did I get old enough to ask questions like that?
So I have a few minutes while this template is downloading.
Kinda late to say it, but I had a great extended weekend, last weekend. I have purty books from National Geographic. Checked out the Prop 8 protest. I got to spend time with old and medium friends, and to meet new people who could hold an intelligent conversation. Parties and food and meat, oh my.
This kind of thing is good for me. Whatever has been happening the last couple weeks, I am not currently yelling at my phone and computer when no one else is there.
I’ve been drinking alcohol sporadically now for about 2 and a half months. The selection has actually been fairly limited, partly out of ignorance and partly out of opportunity. It’s been largely beer, wine, and cider, with a handful of mixed drinks. Overall I can’t say anything had the least effect on me other than some Margaritas drunk during the vice presidential debate. (Although it may have just been Palin that was making me feel a bit woozy.) Even that was just barely, really. I’m not particularly anxious (nor even worried about) getting completely smashed, or anything. (There is a kind of academic interest in seeing what effect it would have on my social skills, as that’s been a discussion topic for years, with other people.)
But if it’s normally having no noticeable physical effect on me, and the taste is only enjoyable about half the time so far, then what exactly is the appeal to drinking? Alcoholic drinks cost considerably more than soda and ice tea. And some people can’t seem to decide if they should be annoyed at me when I ask about drinks. I don’t think they can really grasp the concept of being completely ignorant of the topic.
That’s just it, though. I am — well, was and mostly still am — completely ignorant on the subject. How many things in life can you claim to be completely knowledge-less about, that are still very common and popular activities? This is actually exciting. Learning something new. And being able to do so anywhere, with anyone. I can’t remember the last time I picked up a whole new subject from scratch. Two and a half months, taking pretty much any opportunity that came up. (Don’t worry mom, it was surprisingly few). And I still barely even scratch the surface. And those people that decided I am being sincere seem to get a lot of enjoyment out of it as well. I think everyone likes passing on what they know… and this is a topic everyone knows. No matter what the disparity in knowledge, no matter what the lack of previous social interaction… this is something that always seems to connect. Imagine being able to try something completely new at almost every place you go.
There was a lot going on in my life this year, somewhat behind the scenes. (Though of course some of it leaked out. Damn reality.) Makes it hard to talk about certain things without bringing up other things.
There was a woman this year. Okay… there were two women this year. But there was one woman who really helped turn my life upside down. Haven’t had a crush like that in… well… forever. But rather than sit back and pine and admire from afar, I told her how I felt.
See… as far as I always knew, that’s where the drama was supposed to end, one way or another. This is either a good thing for them, or not. But as I recently wrote, my outlook up to that point had not been particularly realistic nor mature. I wish I could go back and have had just a tiny bit of understanding for that brief time. Not because I want to change the outcome. I can’t find the words to say why. But that’s what I wish.
I had some problems. I never should have gone in with assumptions, first of all. It set me off on the wrong foot to start with. There were misunderstandings. Oh so many misunderstandings and miscommunications. And there was very much me not being in the frame of mind that I should be. (I know that one’s still a bit vague, but that’s all you get for right now.)
I’m trying to think of how to describe her. It’s hard to look back to immediately before everything, and remember what I thought of her then. Like what I saw before was a shell of something. (Not to say I know the whole story now.) But some things hold true, still. Her and I led very different lives. But there’s more in common between our backgrounds than almost any friend I have. She is smart in a way that’s almost scary. She’s said she bullshits some of it, but I’ve yet to catch her at it. Every topic. Every idea. Every argument. And she does have the opinions to go with that knowledge. Oh my gawd, when she gets passionate about something…it’s a joy to watch and hear. I just sit there smiling like a dummy. And she is beautiful. I’ve been trying for 10 minute to figure out how to describe her beauty, and I can’t find a fitting way. I think I did tell her once, perfectly. But I’ll be damned if I share that moment with everyone else. Just know that there are times where the sight of her can just make my brain stop. If you know what that means, then you know what that means.
That’s just the surface shit. The stuff I knew before, and still believe. When we thankfully came out the other side of the surprisingly short bit of drama, I was left with a much more complex picture than I imagined existed. But I think I was left with a different, better friendship as well. And one of a kind that I needed right now. I know this sounds like the immediate justifications of someone who didn’t get the girl. I keep worrying it is. But it’s been about 6 months now. And she’s still incredible.
Hopefully this is out of my system now. Been wanting to write something about this since day 1. Though.. you know… if I disappear in a few weeks, after she’s read this, could you send someone ’round to collect the remains?
Recently I told someone I had a crush on them. (no… not that person. nope, not them. No…. oh just give up, already!). Briefly, the night before I was gonna say it, I thought for a whole half second that maybe it was better not to say anything. It’s not specifically the potential rejection that worried me. Just that I love the stupid, giddy feeling that comes when there’s someone that you like. The feeling is just pure “good”, and there’s all the possibility and all the potential in the world. And no matter how it turns out when you finally tell the person, that feeling is gonna change. And for a second, I didn’t want it to.
No one ever told me — while I was growing up in east bumpafuck, new yorkin the late 70s and early 80s — that I would one day be sitting in a restaurant in Washington DC, looking through the largest photo archive ever assembled, while talking with a friend in Indonesia. Is a plot right out of a 1940s sci-fi novel.
I forget sometimes that the future is here.
I fell in love, last week.
I was sitting in Starbucks over in Dupont on Tuesday afternoon, waiting for a client. I sat at the only space available, at a table across from a girl writing a paper on her laptop. She was cute in a geeky kind of way, with the glasses and the hair pulled back and all. She had this really great grin, when I first sat down. A half-grin that is just waiting to say something.
But she never stopped grinning. I must have sat there at least an hour and a half. It wasn’t a grin. That was just her look. I dunno if I could handle a woman who’s everyday look was enough to make me weak.
Thankfully I’m a huge wuss, and never really said anything to her.
I have always liked wandering around in cities at ridiculous hours. Everything takes on a surreal quality. I used to work a semi-third shift at a newspaper, and would come home at 3, 4, or 5 in the morning, in a small town. And everything was quiet. It was when I first notice that night time tends to have no weather. Especially no wind. It’s a Twilight Zone episode, where you’re wandering around an abandoned city and nothings moving. My favorite memory of that job and those people happened when two of my coworkers, driving home from the same job, pulled over and started a snoball fight, in a suprisingly bright street at 3am.
The last couple weeks, I’ve gone to a club about 6 or 7 blocks away. It’s very nice not having to think about how I will get home. If someone offers me a ride, great. But otherwise, it’s nothing more than a short walk. And I’ve been stopping at CVS on my way home, since I’m inevitably hungry by the time I get out of the club.This CVS just makes me cringe in daylight. It’s every depressing aspect of city life all rolled into one little cell. But at 3am, even it becomes fascinating. And everyone wandering the aisles looks briefly at you as you pass, probably wondering why you would be out at such a strange hour in a place like this, (forgtting of course that they’re also doing the same).
About 4 o’clock this morning, I went down to the lobby to get a soda from the machine. Someone was running the dryer in the on-floor laundry room. That’s life in the middle of the night. You know it’s out there, but it’s all locked up behind walls and doors.
For most of the week, it’s been incredibly humid. So thick you can smell the water in the air. And then yesterday the temperature dropped about 15 degrees F, leaving it kinda-warm, but with random cool breezes. And all of a sudden, I feel like I’m back home again. I’d forgotten what it felt like living near so many lakes.
Now this morning, the light coming in through the windows is hopelessly soft and mellow. Even the traffic noise seems to be keeping to a minimum.
The world’s gone all soft and mushy. And no, I’m not stoned.
I miss winter. Winter in places where it’s really winter, anyway. Winter should be snow in drifts you could lose small people in. Winter should be bone-chilling winds that the best coats and hats can’t keep out. Winter should mean every body of water being hidden beneath an icy blanket for 4 months. Winter’s should mean storms where you could lose an elephant if it strayed more than 6 inches away from you. Winter should mean something.
Here winter tends to mean being careful not to slip in the slush.
I love this above picture, (taken by Michael Tinkler). A boathouse on the campus in my hometown. It’s frozen in, with ice extending probably 40 or 50 feet out from the shore, on this massive 42 mile long lake. The water is choppy and steaming, although it’s hard not to think of it as some dry ice or liquid nitrogen gas release. And of course, the sun beats down perfectly clearly, not making the least noticeable difference in the temperature.
Nature will have its way whenever it feels like it.
Hard to believe I used to sit on a bench in that exact spot, during the summer, reading. (Or, when I was even younger, watching with my friend, as college co-eds made out on the dock).
It’s really not the same, but a recent cold snap here in DC froze over much of the Potomac. You can see the unending field of snow in the picture below, leading to the foot of the Jefferson Memorial. The snow of course is just dusting the sheet of ice that buried the Tidal Basin.
As I’m sitting here, I found a scar that I’d forgotten I had. It took me a while to even remember where it came from. It’s right at the joint, so I don’t normally even notice it among the normal creases. It just reminds me of the various other scars, none of which I’ve looked at either, lately. And you know… every single one of them came from me doing something stupid.
Right on schedule, my building manager was fired today. Third one we’ve been through since I moved in here. They have a warranty only good for 2 years. At which point they’re not even serviceable. You just throw them out right away or they’ll begin to smell. Interesting timing though… since our assistant manager is due to take next month off. I sense bad things emanating from the future.
As if a premonition of todays events, I was attacked by a bus yesterday. Sitting at the bus stop in Bethesda, one of the Ride-On busses came down the highway. And the door fell off. Like that, stopping about 4 feet from me. Traveling at about 40 miles an hour, the bus continued on and ran over the door. And… kept going. Never stopped. Never came back. And there in the highway sat a bus door, in several pieces, surrounded by the traffic which had screeched to a stop around it. And we all just sort of looked at. The cars eventually moved on, and I pulled the pieces onto the sidewalk. Much as it would look really cool to see a car shred its undercarriage by hitting a giant metal frame and 4 foot long slab of glass at highway speeds… I just didn’t want to have to administer CPR. Yuppies have diseases, you know.
So, Keir, maybe the busses are working for the squirrels?
I so need a DVD burner, for backing up by photos, if nothing else. I had over 4,000 pictures in iPhoto, and burned 9 CDs just to get the archive back down under 2 gigabytes. I love my new camera. But bigger toys have bigger issues. Huge photos also mean it takes forever to copy the files off the camera using the USB cable. (An hour and a half for 200 shots). But today I found a brand-name firewire CF card reader for only 11 bucks. So I got that going for me.
So I was thinking today. And that’s always a well-known novel experience for me. Thinking about this work stuff I do. I’ve elaborated before on how much I love the control it offers. How much freedom I now have. How I now contribute, rather than leeching from the system. But as fundamental as it should have been, it never really occurred to me until this afternoon how much I like the creative part of it all. Many people go into business for themselves. Most frequently, it has to do with selling something, followed closely by offering your experience and advice in trade. But I actually create new things. Each jobs involves creating something brand new, that’s never existed before.To me, thats an incredibly fulfilling thing to be doing for a living.
So I was talking to Tonto the other day, while we walked. Earlier in the day, I had been thinking, for god knows what reason, about oral history. The method by which knowledge and history were passed along, person to person, by stories and repetitive telling. But that all kind of died out with the advent of television. Without going into the evils of TV in particular, it is true that people started spending less time together creating life, and more time in their own little world, observing a fantasy. What really struck me though, was how ‘blogs and journals are gradually starting to resurrect the idea of an oral history, albeit in written form. Message boards and journals are offering up technical answers. Memory archives hold the shared histories of families and groups. Individuals work through their past, and what it’s made of their present, right there in front of your eyes. It’s staggering, to imagine the sheer volume of memory that is online, now. And a little scary, in that so much of it tends to reside in single places, making it susceptible to loss. If the California is wiped out, the thoughts and stories of 10 million people may be lost. But the NBC homepage will be fine, thanks to colocation.
(It still makes me smile.)
There was a very ugly woman on the train tonight. She sat across from me as I tried to read Dandelion Wine. She wore a beautiful black dress. But underneath, she was knock-kneed and boney. She had a mustache and eyes that didn’t belong.
I think the ugly girls go to bed earlier. Normally when I come back from the boonies, it’s 3 AM and the car is filled with vastly intoxicated teenage girls in less clothing than Michaengelo’s David. The last set of girls I remember spent the entire 40 minute ride calling up taxi cab companies on their cell phone trying to find a ride from the last station. They were both 16 and a little cuter. Even the chubby one with the mohawk.
I’m sorry… but I still cant walk through downtown after midnight and not marvel that I’m here. I know that makes me a really big dork, and it’s only worse that I’ve been here 7 years.
I think it’s better when it snows in the big city.
I’ve lived both in the city and in the boondocks. But here in the city, snow does something special. It’s that one little accent that sets the whole thing off. Every different building, every bush and tree, every mailbox, street-sign and lamp post all pull together into one big painting, held together and held down by a white blanket.
In the boonies, once you’ve seen one field, one river, or one frozen lake, you’ve seen them all. But here in the city, every street is a new picture with untouched nature spread all over it.
The top strata of the “Recently-Read Pile”:
Idoru by William Gibson
All Tomorrow’s Parties by William Gibson
City Come a Walkin by John Shirley
Beyond this Horizon, by Robert Heinlein
The Atlantic Abomination, by John Brunner
Jennifer Government, by Max Barry
Journey to the Center of the Earth, by Jules Verne
Isaac Asimovs Christmas, Edited by Gardner Dozois and Sheila Williams
Skylark Duquesne by E.E. Doc Smith
The Santaroga Barrier by Frank Herbert
Virtual Light by William Gibson
Keepers of the Gate by Steven Spruill
Foundation by Isaac Asimov
Foundation and Empire by Isaac Asimov
Second Foundation by Isaac Asimov
Destination: Universe! by A.E. van Vogt
Assignment in Eternity by Robert Heinlein
on a bagel
I like this time now. It’s been snowing a while, but there is just a light dusting covering everything, like confectioners sugar on a bakery cake. The remaining light is catching the snow falling just light enough to look like pixies dancing outside the window. If I was just a few decades younger, I would be aching to go out and play, despite there not being enough snow for a decent snowball.
Mother Nature is a tease.
It’s been over a week since the first deciduous trees sprouted leaves. But every year I know spring has come when the big tree in front of my apartment windows has bloomed. The warm weather this past week caused everything to bloom. Even the tree started to.
Until saturday. At which point the weather changed and everything has stalled.
That tree is only in perfect bloom for a couple days each year. Shortly after it blooms, there is always a heat wave which wilts the leaves.
For those three days, you can almost smell the life growing out there.
I ring in the new year among fire sirens, pictures of drunk people yelling at a ball of fire, and wind gusts that could freeze my gonads into oversized hailstones.
And despite all that’s happened this year, I do not have my normal pessamistic outlook for the coming year.
This has got to be a bad sign.
I’ve gotta get a lot more annoying. I haven’t upset anyone into posting comments in a while.
I discovered heaven today.
They sell it at starbucks. It’s called a Whipped Caramel Cider.
Speaking of the great Satan, did ya notice you can’t even view their site if you refuse to accept cookies. And why not? Because Passport needs cookies.
Isn’t there something intrinsicly evil about Microsoft and Starbucks teaming up to steal…er…store your personal information?