"Undermining my electoral viability since 2001."

Random Notes

Several things:

  • Life and death: Frank Edward Robbins the Sixth has his picture taken inside of Laura. Patricia Helsing, RIP.
  • Super tuesday! Obama has a narrow lead in delegates. Neither he or Clinton are likely to "win" based on primaries. Basically, if Clinton can keep a virtual tie, she can probably choke him out at the convention w/superdelegates and committee maneuvers. However, if Obama can open up enough of a lead to make that choke-out sufficiently unDemocratic, he could keep the nomination.
  • On that note, I'm working on my first real decent think-piece on politics in ages. I'll post it on one of those kinds of websites and throw a link up here soon. UPDATE: here.
  • Cornell Club: I'm more or less moved-in to the East Bay bachelor pad. It's pretty cool, actually. We have a nice dining room with an impressive scotch bar, are proximal to both the BART and a couple good night spots, and with a little more set-up should be ready for some kickass housewarming activities soon.
  • On the downside, after two separate trips to Ikea, I still don't have all the parts to build a bed. Screw you, Swedes!
  • It's been productive to be back in the office, and we've got pieces of paper up all over the place with bullet lists and schedules. Feels good!

All in all it's been busy but in a refreshing way. I've been getting up early and coming home late, which if not exactly how I want to spend my time in a perfect world, is decidedly a change in my habits of action, and is as such refreshing.

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The Widening Gyre

It was a slaughter. By the time I got around to buying seven shots of Kessler for the table -- "smooth as silk" -- we were all coloring well outside the lines, flirting with the ladies, shouting half-bright witticisms at one another. Yes, for the Girth's 29th birthday, after a very lovely and grown-up dinner of cayenne chicken and freshly-made pesto, we got drunk.

This is an old passtime, one that brought us together as wild young men, and still serves a bonding purpose, even if the path is now more well-worn and recovery a bit more difficult. It doesn't happen that often, this dionysian fugue, this western tradition of peeling back the civilized parts of our brains. We're more self-conscious and protective; more self-judging too. We've got better things to do a lot of the time. We worry about our health. Still, the ritual persists.

Considerable vulnerability is created, both during and after. This is part and parcel with any loss of control, and it's what we hope for I think, part of the draw. Things will be admitted, attempted, words blurted, action taken. Magical events may transpire, and in the hard light of day, with luck, truth will reveal itself.

The morning finds me shaky, giddy, mumbling rationalizations and pining away over a girl I haven't seen in more than year. The hard light reveals an empty landscape; my cupboard is bare. It's a weak kind of feeling, and I don't like it.

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Decompression, Or, A Couple Perspectives on Workaholism

It's been a good weekend, with lots of sleeping in and no drudgework at all. Absent the pressure-cooker mentality I tend to find myself a little listless and bored, especially in the recent aftermath.

When you're a small child, the most boring day in your life is the day after you go to Disneyland. It's a very high high, tons of stimulation, really kind of incredible if you think about all the psychic energy that gets built up by the whole Disney cultural complex. Anyway, the next day you're one strung-out six year old, and you don't even really understand what's happening.

The trajectory of my adult life has grown up around projects. Productions, plays, parties, road trips, websites, campaigns... all variations on the general theme of engaging in an ostensibly focused effort to Get Something Done. At their best, they're like little births; creative miracles born in the spastic passion of inspiration and carried to term with love, craft and care.

At their best or worst though, projects tend to leave me with that same Disneyland hangover. The stress and attention called for to see things through the last mile are (ideally) some of the highest functioning times we experience as human beings. Afterwards, our metaphysitcal children born, grown, gone, and possibly even dead, we wonder what to do with our lives.

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I Could Sleep For Thousand Years

It's two steps forward, one step back. I've made it back to the old homestead and have gotten this project out the door (a rather big site) that's been eating my brain and soul for the past couple months. I got locked into a cycle of grinding it out, which can be effective in the short run, but yields diminishing returns over time. I did about ten weeks with no weekends or days off save two for thanksgiving and two for Christmas.

Workaholism is in my DNA (dad and his famous 90 days straight in the oilfields, mom and her neverending string of projects, etc) but this was not the way I like it; too disorganized and haphazard. Too much struggling. The most important thing is to stop struggling. Stress-dreams and exhaustion don't help anyone out.

However, we did get it done, so people are happy and that's a win, and as it was at the same a rather spectacular failure in terms of process, there's a lot to be learned. Blowing it is how you get smart, so I've got that going for me too.

And of course, with this weight lifting, everything else bubbles up like an over-active bottle of orange crush.

Mark reminded me of this quote the other day:

bq. “innocence must die, if we are ever to begin that journey toward that greater innocence called wisdom.”

I feel kind of stuck in the middle there. Innocence is dead, but wisdom has yet to arrive. I've been having a lot of anxiety lately about how life seems to be moving in a direction of dispersion, people all going their separate ways, spreading out over the map and settling down. Even though I'm part of the problem here (maybe because I am), this makes me sad.

It seems like a ridiculous cliché, but I think I've always subconsciously thought my grown-up life would be like living on some kind of commune. Back to my roots!

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My Love Is A Monster

Spending a week inside the Robbins Family Nest got me thinking quite a lot about my own rather barren romantic landscape. I'm being screwed by O'Hare Airport (as usual) and have several hours to sit here, so I figured I might try and organize my head a bit about this.

I've come to see my decision to relocate to remote Humboldt County in part as a semi-conscious decision to get away from women. In one way it could be seen as a sort of self-purification or monastic thing. Alternatively, it could be seen as a decision to flee. It's unclear, but all in all the decision was right for me, and I am where I am, so I sort of try to look forward.

It occurs to me lately that sex and love are in some ways skills, requiring energy, attention, and more than anything practice if you want to do well. It's like a bicycle in that you never forget how, sure, but it also really seems like the kind of thing where you can lose your edge; or, to be more specific, where I currently feel dull and edgeless.

So there are flashes of paranoia that, having taken myself out of things, I may not easily find my way back -- that I could end up drifting along nonplussed by the world, libido curled up asleep inside me where I put it to bed. That's an unpleasant thought.

And then, thinking of that mis-attributed quote about how our greatest fear is our own power, I'm immediately struck by the opposite idea, that maybe what troubles me isn't ennui or boredom, but rather a fear of living, of what I might do or be or become.

That would explain this semi-conscious self-divorce. If I made a move to cut myself off from sex, I must have done it for a reason, and that reason probably has something to do with me not being very happy with myself.

And, thinking this, I know immediately that it is true.

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The Adventure of Your Lifetime

One of the better things I ever wrote in the old blue journal book that I lost -- container of all my most personal post-college scribblings -- was the line "life, the adventure of your lifetime."

It is what it is, and all we can really hope for is that we keep giving it 100%, and that the people around us are good ones. The world is impossibly huge, more giant than any of us can comprehend. Forget the goddamn universe, just the planet Earth is so much more vast, varied and wonderfully amazing than anyone can ever possibly conceive. Just don't even worry about it, and dig the fact that the world is always going to present the potential for more.

I feel the pull of exploration again, for the first time in a while. I used to really think of myself as a scout -- indeed, I'm sure that old journal has a series of great long entries on what exactly it means to be "an explorer" -- but lately I've been building and nesting, husbanding my resources even as that took me hither and yon. In 2008, it feels like I might have to get a bit more balsy, risk some chips, try out some new things, ditch the risk-aversion, etc. Sounds good.

The world is huge, like I said. I think I should see more of it. Time to start packing a towel.

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Here Comes The Rain Again

The rain is on, steady and heavy for the past two days. Listening to it fall in my bedroom reminds me of childhood home. It's peaceful and soothing as long as you've got a roof over your head, especially if there's also a fireplace going.

Things have been going really well. I'm stuck working though the holidays on an overdue project, but we're making steady progress and I've come to accept that it just needs to get done, stopped being angry at myself for letting it get out of hand and frustrated with the other cogs in the system. This too shall pass.

I had a really scary moment on Satuday. Trying to wrap things up and get ready for the party, I accidentally deleted some critical files. Luckily there are multiple backup systems in play, and very dependable people out there too. Nothing was actually lost, but for the twenty minutes or so it took to sort out, I found myself staring down the barrel of a truly colossal fuckup. Feeling that kind of weight made me realize my stresses and troubles now aren't so bad, and (silver lining ahoy!) it makes them that much easier to deal with.

Getting that crisis resolved to neatly sent me into the evening with a lightness in my spirit and a new energy for life. Contrast reveals. That feeling is carrying on, and I'm learning the practical truth of my words about the contagious nature of Love and other emotions. Attitude is infectious, and in any organization or relationship, we all feed back into one another, both positively and negatively.

It's a lot of responsibility, really. I'm reminded of a cheezy country anthem by Hank Williams Jr, and the traditional barroom call and response:

Why do you drink? _(To get drunk!)_

Why do you roll smoke? _(To get stoned!)_

Why must you live out them songs that you wrote? _(To get laid!)_

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So Saturday night I got back up on that art horse (which I've only been talking about for eight or nine months, so that's pretty good), and did a nice little talking piece at our christmas party talent show. [[T.S.L.|Text is here]]. It was very well received, and even though it was far from my best work, it was up to my own standards and I was pleased. I haven't shown off that side of myself too much since I moved out here, so it was nice to be able to let the artist out, to do something worthwhile with people's attention.

It turned out to be a more preachin' thing than I'd originally intended. That reading was latent in the verse and I'd just chosen not to rehearse it with that in mind, but the crowd responded on that wavelength, and our home in Westhaven was the original community church, so it seemed appropriate. It also made me realize the last time I did something performative I was officiating Frank and Laura's wedding.

Maybe I should just go with it, create myself a guru preacher character. I like being coy and vulnerable too much to go full out Reverend with it, but at the same time the form doesn't have to be so didactic, and it could really work for a lot of things.

To be honest, as an adult I've always equated art with religion. My training tended towards the ritual and having come up without a conventional religious framework, the process of creativity and the divinity of Really Good Performance/Product are what underpin any personal notions I have of mysticism and magic. It's a human and social thing for me, the moments the acts evoke. It's old-time; clap hands and all.

Anyway, it left me more exhausted than ever, but feeling high and mighty in my soul.

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The Circle Game

I'm feeling it. Well, actually, I'm totally fucking exhausted to the point of being goofball jittery, but sitting here on a borrowed bed after spending a week dancing along the edge of what I can really do as a person, I'm all strung out, a little hung over, but sizzlingly alive. It's hard to articulate. Words fail, but General Tso's Tofu provides.

Earlier this week I visited with Bill, my Pa, my step-father, father of my sister, who was around the house from when I was about three until I left home and did me a world of good in-between. He and my mom had a really interesting relationship, one which reached a romantic coda when I was a teenager (and was ergo semi-oblivious to this, or perhaps just too self-absorbed to care) but they stayed together as a logical family unit until my sister left for college.

He's married now to a wonderful artist named Patti -- hence the domain name -- who's lives most of her life out in DC, and who he (and my mom) have been friends with since they were wild and young. Yeah. Life is strange that way. I remember meeting Patti when I was a kid in Iowa when we were out there one summer on the farm, her and her then-husband Skip -- who was part of the wild and young thing too -- come out to visit and break the news that Skip had cancer. Skip died. We all went to his funeral in DC. They played The Circle Game.

Patti is dying now too. Same cause. All things considered I was impressed by how well she's holding up, and Bill's doing a stellar job of taking care of her, but it's clear where things are going and it was bittersweet seeing her; made me feel sick to my stomach to say goodbye.

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On Becoming A Class-Traitor

As the end of the year approaches and various spreadsheets are compiled, I am increasingly forced to face the uncomfortable reality that unless something changes I will soon cease to be legitimately bohemian in economic terms. Affluence awaits. While I'm sure this is the sort of thing that parents love, and people less fortunate hate to hear me bitch about, it actually does provoke a significant amount of anxiety for me. Hence the blogging.

Clearly, I don't buy into conventional American moires about what's polite to discuss, and I frequently carry on about religion, politics, sex, drugs, and all sorts of other topics that people tend to avoid in polite company. However, aside from the details of my own romantic life, money is probably the thing I'm most trepidatious talking about. Seems like a good way to give offense and/or invite ridicule. Nevertheless, it's on my mind and I feel like getting it out in the open, so here goes.

If I Had Money I'd Buy A New BMX
I grew up, for a number of reasons, with a certain amount of classism, although I wasn't too conscious of this until I went to NYU. There was always some vague resentment towards "rich kids" and a general anti-capitalist attitude (some of which still persists), but it wasn't until I got up-close to the children of idle wealth that I realized how much it set me off.

Part of this is justifiably utilitarian -- waste is bad and a lot of people are unreasonably extravagant -- but there's a difference between inequality/decadence and being financially successful (c.f. Warren Buffet). I've come to see Classism as no different at heart than any other -ism: a prejudice; something to be overcome.

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