"Undermining my electoral viability since 2001."

Freedom is the Devil's Handshake

On the topic of "the Good Old Days," I have some semi-strong feelings. I'm as dubious of nostalgia as the next guy, and while I love the process of maturation, I fear and loathe the narrative of "getting old." I have all sorts of fun memories of more free, innocent, wild and irresponsible times. Good times. Fun. Naturally given a more regularized, orderly, and subdued existence memories of pure fun are attractive, but those aren't really what I'd call "the Good Old Days."

What I look back on with envy are the times in my life when I really knew what I wanted, and felt like I was getting it, in both the big and little pictures -- times when it could be reasonably argued that I was, indeed, "living the dream." That's what I'm talking about.

My early 21st-Century dreams may have been unrealistic, hazy, naive and fraught with delusions of grandeur, they were still pretty awesome, and to be perfectly honest I don't feel like my dreams were wrong; I feel as though I failed in bringing them to reality. In spite of my (best?) efforts things didn't work out, and in a series of dark skirmishes over 2003-04 the purest hopes I can go on record as ever possessing were all put to rest.

It can and has been said that I just need to get over it, and in some ways I have, but this is my history. It colors everything I do. It is why I am the man I am. I'm not trying to throw a pity party -- objectively I know I'm lucky, and doing quite well -- but I do wonder why, when talking with my two best friends and finally getting down to a level, I don't have much positive to say for myself.

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Return to Resthaven

Well, I'm back in the HC. I cracked my laptop exactly once over the holidays, and wrote in my paper journal (the blog for an audience of one, at least until I'm dead) twice. That's what I call vacation, people!

As often happens when you get a weekend after many days of straight work, I really enjoyed having some time off. Contrasts.

It was especially nice to visit so many fine folks I haven't seen in some time. Big FriendsGiving was a huge success, both in terms of feasting and the follow-on living room dancefloor / porch hangout extravaganza. Made me realized I haven't been to a bonafide house party since we hosted the Country Soul Carnival Cruise up here.

I once again felt mad love for Portland, which reminds me a lot of good old post-9/11 North Brooklyn, before the third wave of gentrification really got rolling, and I got some inspiration for my Westhaven Christmas Talent Show performance piece. I think it'll be a good one in the old Axiom pep-talk style. My working title is "The First Love Is Self Love," which was a fortune cookie I got once, and it's true both with and without the "in bed" suffix.

Greater rhapsodies are coming, but unfortunately I have to take off my po' boho pomo mofo hat and get back to work.

This song is my current inner sound-track: Uptight Jet (the Kleptones).

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Escape Velocity

Made it away from work and to the Euge. Tomorrow me and LGD will head up to Portland for a weekend of Thanksgiving and other festivities. Should be fun.

I'm very much looking forward to four whole days with no work. It seems like too few!

The drive up had some nice vistas, and listening to music all the way on my newly-replaced car stereo got me thinking nostalgic and bohemian. It's been an interesting decade since I left home to make my way in the world. I've done a lot of things, a lot of good things, fun things, growing things, maybe even one or two important things, yet it's unclear what they add up to or where this is all headed.

I certainly feel lucky to have had the life I've had, but I also feel this pressure to make it count, to put together the pieces of the puzzle. I worry that I'm going to get more and more tired and bland and "meh" forever, that it's all downhill from here, that I'm burned out, all dead inside, or just too jaded and self-conscious to really swim in the river of life anymore. Swirling down in a whirl of ennui and anomie and other vowel-strewn monikers for running low on moxie.

It's a dark future, the neurotic. Hopefully that's not what's going to happen. The best way I know to get through this mess is to share it with people, to try and get caught up in the world, to get strong and rested and healthy, to have fun and make art and go to parties, to be open and let the universe really get at my inner workings. That takes some courage, but hopefully I'm up for it.

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Light at the End of the Tunnel (?)

The law of diminishing returns is kicking in. This is the third straight weekend worked through, which is something I don't really mind terribly -- I've gone months and months like this before -- but which I recognize as questionable in effectiveness over time. If all you do is work, it's easy to slide into a mode of semi-constant semi-production: there's nothing to look forward to at the end of a task but the next task, so you don't really dig in and focus the way you might if, say, you had a big fun trip planned once work was done.

Yeah, 12 hour days at 66% productivity; belly up to the desk and stare into your pint of workahol, rummy. This is how so many "professional" people end up with broken relationships and no social life, I think, and it's frightening to see it might be happening to me.

Life is contrasts, a holy waltz of experience. Change is the only thing we can perceive. I believe it's true on a literal/micro level, and more importantly at a philosophical meta/macro level too. The feeling you get from moving fast isn't the speed itself, it's the delta, the change. It's physics. Force equals mass times acceleration, the difference in the velocity-vector over time. That's what we feel.

Which is a highfalutin way of saying I've been more than a little rut-stuck lately, and rolling with the dayjob 24/7 isn't helping much. I feel numb and restless. It was a convenient distraction at first, a nice excuse to shut out petty personal problems, but now we're down to the grind, and the pressure is throwing all my psychic flaws into sharper relief than ever. I'm struggling. The most important thing is to stop struggling.

Things I'm spinning my wheels over:

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Dark Circles

Well, slow blogging of late because I've been pouring most of my psychic fuel into work. This month looks to be a record-breaker for those precious billable hours (oh, if only they were denominated in euros, or better yet barrels of crude oil), and it's a good thing to be operating at Full Capacity, but it's also a bit stressful. Not that I've been doing anything all that important with my spare time over the past few months that I regret curtailing, but shifting to 10-to-12-hour days is darkening the circles under my eyes, and drawing forth a great buried longing for true wild big-city-style partytime.

Honestly, I haven't worked this hard since I moved out here, and the old mantra of "working hard, playing harder" is untested here in the HC. It's been more like "work an honest day, then relax and maybe take a hot tub." Different frequencies and extremities of oscillation, you know? How to cut loose and balance all the grindstone-nosing? Getting drunk, eating a huge meal and watching tv isn't quite it. This is a good question for me to get into. It's part of who I am -- the lighter side of workaholism is that I often have a lot of fun under pressure -- and it's a welcome challenge to try and figure out. No gray hair yet, so I'm happy to keep experimenting.

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Back In Black

Well, I have a new lappy. A late-night food run on my bike resulted in me marinating my old computer in Sprite for 15 minutes or so. That's not so good. It may or may not be resurrectable, but with deadlines looming I pulled the trigger and drove over to Walnut Creek to get a fancy new black MacBook (the Apple store in Emeryville was sold out).

It was a necessary thing, but the whole experience gave me The Fear. I don't like the Apple retail experience, a strange mix of yuppie consumer snobbery and cultish fanboyism. It's a dark future, and the "upscale exurban shopping area" kind of scene around Walnut Creek only served to increase my paranoia. It seems like the sort of place that will be caught in the vice pretty soon -- too decadent, too soft, lots of useless luxuries to lose.

But I can't complain. BAD Camp is rolling on well. The weather here is gorgeous. Mighty Oregon prevailed over the Sun Devils. And the new computer is pretty sweet. It's got the latest OS, and it really is way cooler to have a matte black laptop as opposed to shiny white. With any luck the old machine will live again and it can become the new house computer. At the very least, I think I'll be able to get my old data back. Lots of ancient email that I like so search through from time to time.

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Authentic Experience

Commenter yesterday alerted me to my 2nd favorite example of my google footprint. My enduring favorite is the person who found my site with "give meaning to my postmodern life" or something like that. Google oracular. Anyway, it seems I'm number three on a search for "Authentic Experience." Sweet! And, for what it's worth, the post in question does really read like a bad grad-school draft:

bq.. Urban living requires a certain amount of intellectual and emotional buffering on the part of the individual for the sake of survival. You have to be able to be very close to other people and treat them like objects. Coupling that with the observational perspective I’m trying to describe, the view that everything is made up of something else and that this can be investigated, unpacked, it’s easy to get hung up on self-anthropology, a blend of narcissism and the deconstructing gaze.

I think this is part of the reason alcohol is such a popular drug. If you deaden enough of your forebrain, you’ll eventually loose the mental capacity to maintain a critical perspective, at which point you’re free from all this garbage. Problem is that you may find in reaching this point that you’ve scraped much of your personality off in the process, and may be unable to maintain a coherent conversation, an erection, or a number of other things which you might wish you could keep up in the moment.

p. That's pretty good stuff as the archives go. I've corrected some spelling mistakes in this quote -- ah, the days before FireFox told me when I was mangling language; fuck you, phonics -- but otherwise the thought holds up over the distance of a year and a half.

In terms of what's been going on lately I'll have a few good things to crack open when the spirit next moves:

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Stagnant Sensations

So, the old blog has been pretty much steady-set since March, and two seasons is more than enough for a single design. The uber-minimal dirtstyle plus the background I ripped from koshi had a nice feeling, but I'm not satisfied with it anymore. More directly, I'm also not satisfied with my writing lately. Feels like I'm lacking punch and flow and voice, the gonzo spirit at low tide.

Part of this is no doubt my own physical and spiritual fatigue. It's been a long week, full of things I can't quite publicly discuss, that other people might not understand; meetings with my attorney, an Iraq war trophy knife choping up 17-year old pain pills, dark glances into the abyss of post-modern capitalism.

Secrecy wearies me, and if it were all the same I'd turn my whole life into some weird performance piece, tell everyone all the shit I did. But it's not all the same. The presumption that you might write something about an experience colors it for you, and people react differently under those circumstances. At a minimum, one must consider that an autobiography has other characters in it, many of whom may have bosses, some of whom may have discovered Teh Google, and so I feel restrained.

In the best of all possible worlds we'd all live somewhat more open lives, and whether or not there are myspace pictures of you doing keg-stands wouldn't be an issue, but a shame-based morality is the spiritual companion to our debt-based economy, and so many of the best and truest stories of the human condition circulate as a sort of samizdat; secret underground utterances of the sort you get into trading once you've determined that some Other is perhaps trustworthy. "One time I got so drunk and then..."

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Return to Resthaven

After a busy-as-all-hell week in SF (note to self: this is what happens when I don't set foot in the office for two months) I've returned to the welcoming arms of Westhaven. It's nice to be back in the land of hot tubs and bonfires and cookouts and such. We also have some old and new friends from Portland and New Zealand visiting this weekend, so it's been a fun-time party.

Yesterday we hit up the shooting club and fired off a few rounds w/Capn. Frank's shotgun. It was just my second time shooting and the first for some of the girls we brought, which was fun. By the third round of traps I was actually correctly aiming (or as our elderly sweat-pants and tie-dye range guide called it "pointing") and able to hit two out of three targets. It's nice to know how to safely handle guns; makes them less alien and frightening.

I hit the skate ramp too. Our 6-year-old former roommate Wiley has been working his skills and just learned to drop in, and was egging me on to do it with him. I have yet to put in the hours to even learn basic side-to-side balance, but for Wiley's sake I made four or five attempts. Two of them were actually correct to form -- putting the nose down; not what your instincts want you to do -- but all resulted in total wipeouts, which is part of the whole thing after all. It's a lot of fun to have kids use the ramp because A) it's very cute and B) our neighbors really really hate the thing, and having a bunch of kids and toddlers playing on it makes it sort of invincible to criticism.

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Back to the Bay

Well, I'm headed back down to SF for the week. I was planning to take off yesterday, but Saturday night the Hombre and I made a snap decision to go out to this Burning-man-influenced local rager, which was a lot of fun but didn't exactly put me in a good mood to drive for six hours on Sunday.

I've been having a pretty good run of things of late, feeling more and more like a native and less and less like a shut-in tourist/refugee. It doesn't hurt that I've been getting out of the house regularly. Gee, who would have thought.

This trip to the city should be interesting. After my summer experience of sublet-sampling, I came down from Black Rock City with an "Invest in Westhaven" todo item. That leaves the city an open question. I have to show my face around the office, and there's plenty to enjoy on the metropolitan tip, but making the mental decision to call the HC home for at least another year puts a different spin on things.

Well, that's really all I've got. "The future was wide open."

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