Friday, December 02, 2011

My New Blog, on Google Plus

*New Blog*

I've started Blogging over at Google Plus. It's more conducive to making posts with links and resources. I also wanted to separate myself from My depressed, manic, and OCD ridden writing here. I'll leave this up for archival purposes, but please forgive the melodrama. ON google plus I'll be posting more about politics  neuroscience, psychology, writing, and art. Less about being nuts.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

money and happiness

I can't tell how the day has gone as fast as it has. I spend no more than an hour on the computer with my word processor open waiting for words to come, and I got my hair cut. That shouldn't have taken all this time. I think that's the ultimate take away from living on my own schedule. Time is even more fleeting than we think. It's no secret that the days quickly turn into years, but that the seconds turn into year as well is a less accepted fact.

I think that highlights again how much more important time is than money. This has been a source of conflict in some of my relationships because it's easy to dismiss my lack of interest in money as a behavioural manifestation of some idealogical belief. That's not the case. I do hold some idealogical beliefs as do all people, but I have arguments for my desire to pursue free time and larger goals rather than pursuing money. Some of it is based on differences between me and other people, some of it is based on changes that have occured between my generation and those immediately preceding us, and some of it is simply based on an attempt to calculate potential quality of life without using money as the measure.

My personal attitudes are partly formed by being raised by teachers. My parents both taught in a poor rural school district. They were paid very little but kept it up because they loved teaching. We still traveled and lived interestingly. I spent a few years of my child hood in Japan, for instance. We had to be more creative about ho to pay for these things, such as finding jobs in Japan, and saving for a long time, but we were still able to do it, because it was a priority. IN this inatance doing something you love, and setting your priorities leads to a good life. That's part of why I don't think money is all that important.

I also find that I am more fulfiled by insular activities that cost little than I am by the external ones. I love to read and to write and to play music. These all cost little or no money. I am sustained by my music and writing, and I don't have to pay to do these things. Id be happy just playing music for the rest of my life.

I also think my my generation doesn't think of work, and money, the same way older (or at least recent older) generations had. We look more towards free time as the holy grail than to money. some of this is because of hte advent of credit, and some of it is simply from seeing our parents choose money over free time, and fullfilling employment and becoming miserable anyway. The further intricacies of intergenerational differences are fodder for other essays.

Despite these social reasons for my attitudes towards money, I think that my reasoning justifying my position is sound. I believe that satisfaction with one's life is more based on enjoyment of ones job and amount of freetime. This is supported by refutatuions of the measurment of quality of life by money. It's a conundrum of the west, this disconnection between amount of money and amount of happy. Why is America less happy than poorer places if money is the key to happiness? the answer is either that money isn't the key to happiness, or that our measurments are wrong. I'm leaning towards the idea that money isn't the key to happiness. This is largely due to coloquial evidence, but if someone can find me a study on happiness and amount of freetime (and I"m sure more than one such study exists) you will see that people with more freetime are happier, (this also applies to people who do work that they enjoy)

The point is that the money isn't important. It's the freetime, and the satisfaction. I think my generation is begining to realise that.

Monday, May 24, 2010

a proposition of a model of High seeking behaviour

One can presume that the phenomenon of creatures altering their state with drugs is primarily due to the way drugs capitilize on endogenous reward systems (like the opioid system) It is important also to note that the cange in state isn't all about feeling pleasure. Though certainly one's opioid system is manipulated when one takes heroin, there is also an equally important change in state and cognition. The feeling of being high, I'll argue, is equally as important as the change in cognition and perception.

Thinking creatures (of whatever degree) are fascinated with modifications in cognition and perception. Some times those changes in perception and cognition are beneficial, Such as the way someone can take shrooms as a way to look at a problem from another angle. Much like dreams, intoxicated experiences often re-imagine and re-frame current problems. When one is at a dead end sometimes dreams and high experiences will find a way out. The use of this is huge.

It is possible that creatures which sought "high" experiences survived more or were more productive sexually because of the removal of inhibitions and the a re-framing of a problem. If someone has an Idea while high about how to more efficiently hunt then his tribe will survive better and the next generation has more "High seekers".

This also leads to another interesting question. If High seeking behaviour is intellectually beneficial, do people with high IQs use drugs more? or use drugs for this purpose more. This could provide some support for the idea of whether high experiences do reframe problems, Though a supperior (and much harder to perform) experiment would be to give a representative sample a serious problem to solve which requires a reframing of the problem (there would have to be a way to still test people who had no difficulty with solving the problem.) and when they cannot solve the problem have them take some sort of drug (marijuana, shrooms) and instruct them to think about the problem, and talk about it while high, then see the percentage who find a solution to the problem.
(this clearly isn't a fully developed study, I have the idea now, I haven't really fleshed it out, I realise there are clear problems with it, but I feel like proposing the rough version of the study and seeing where people go with it.)

If this seems ridiculous then next time you're high (be it on drugs or alcohol, or nicotine) pay attention to how much of the enjoyment and importance of the experience was related to changing ones state of cognition, perception and therefore action

more simply put, Next time you're high ask yourself if you're doing this because it feels good, or because it gives you different ideas and solves problems, and makes you think in a way you normally wouldn't.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

some thoughts

it's dreary outside and I just finished watching a fantastically depressing episode of Skins. The specifics aren't important. All that matters for the moment is that it reminded me of a time when I was going crazy, and the world seemed to fall apart around me. To feel that alone, and that tired, to see such horrid things transpire in your minds eye, it's painful, but in such a pervasive soul filling way.

While watching the episode I kept wanting to write a letter or an email appologising to my then girlfriend for going crazy. I wasn't fully stable by the end of our relationship, and I was entirely mad for good chunks of it. once again deatils aren't that important.

I don't think those feelings ever really leave you. The obsessive thoughts, the wild moods, the lengthy depressions, those go away when the meds are right, and the therapy is right, and the time is right, but that feeling in the pit of your chest that reminds you of how terrible the world really is; that stays. Pesimism was never one of my inate qualities. Somehow it's snuck in under the door.

Of course joy still raises it's head. I still find great beauty in this world that's slowly killing us all, but I can't shake the fear of death, and the realisation that so many people have worse lives than mine, and that means that the whole world is fucked.

I don't do things in sixes anymore. I don't think about crashing my car into the median or the oncoming traffic everytime I drive (I do still have that thought sometimes) and I think I'm past those deep depressions in which I melded with my mattress and pictured my hands bloodied and broken by harsh impact with the walls that held me inside. Now I just have periodic frightful realisations of my imminent death, and the creeping suspicion lying in the back of my head that even the music and writing that seem to make this life worth it may not be enough.

I'm not currently depressed, I feel pretty happy as of late, but still that little fire burns deep within me reminding me that things are finite, and that the chance that the rest of my life is good is on equal footing with the possibility that it turns out terribly.

I'm sorry that this is how I think, and would change it if I could, but I've already done so much changing, and put so much work into getting rid of the OCD and the Mania and the Depression. I wish I could change things.
Honestly I need a research lab. There are too many good questions, with reasonably testable hypothesis that come into my mind. it could be the question of whether there is a tendency for mentally ill people (or severely mentally ill people ) to be night owls or any of the many other testable hypotheses I think of. Every couple of days I have a research Idea that I truly want to test. Sadly I haven't the means to test these hypothesis. I am rather tired of undergraduate education, I'm tired of regurgitating information. Analysing, and coming up with new ways to test an idea, or synthesising old ideas to come up with some cogent model of how something works; that's the sort of stuff that excites me. That I haven't the resources to pursue these ideas sort of infuriates me. Of course It's all a mater of time, and once I'm off to grad school I'm sure the frustration that comes from not being able to start on research immediately will leave me. Of course the realities of research may also give me pause. I just feel that I am in a unique position to find out new things. Not all of my ideas are good, but until I am given the opportunity to really test them, how do I know. I feel that research will be the best way to fulfil this curiosity that so heavily defines my actions. Creation and curiosity.

Given this post is all musing and little content, tomorrows post will fix that. I simply feel that I'm up against a wall. Right now I am read to find out things no one knows, but I don't have the means. It's an unpleasant place to be.

Monday, May 17, 2010

a few things.

First I'd like to direct you to a nice visual study guide on Cognitive Biases.
according to the guide itself "Cognitive biases are psychological tendencies
that cause the human brain to draw incorrect
conclusions." So read away.

Secondly I'd like to talk about two ideas that have been bouncing around in my head for quite some time.

My eventual research goals involve the way that we relate to stories, and the way our brain processes them. I think that there are elements of story which are universal but can't be explained just as a recounting of memory, or as something similar to a lie. I think there are non temporal (not related to the time line of events in the story) things about all stories. The best example I've been able to come up with thus far is foreshadowing. It is something that occurs only in stories. Foreshadowing requires knowledge of the end of the story. I also think that foreshadowing happens unconsciously. I do need to figure out how universal or common foreshadowing is though.

the last think I want to talk about is the usage of cigarettes as indicators of passing time. Be it the picture of a cigarette that has burned itself to the butt, where the cigarette looks whole except for where the tobacco was there is now ash. It's a pretty poingiant way of showing time transition, and the sorts of people who smoke tend to have stories. There's also the suggestion of progression towards death.


those are my musings for the day.

Saturday, May 15, 2010

One problem (of many) in modern mental health.

Im sort of tired of people, but that's not the topic for tonight's rumination, just an observation that seems particularly salient. Today I want to talk about a particular problem in modern psychology. If you have some sort of anxiety disorder your insurance will cover medications, likely standard anti anxiety drugs like attivan and klonopin, and if you have some particular subsets of anxiety disorder, or depression along with your anxiety (which nearly everyone who is anxious all the time does, obviously) also some sort of anti depressant, usually an ssri. What your insurance won't pay for, or won't pay for as much of, is a particular kind of therapy, called cognitive behavioural therapy.

CBT is one of the most effective methods of dealing with anxiety disorders like OCD genralised anxiety and panic disorder, as well as one of the most effective for depression. When done in concert with antidepressants the rates go even higher. However, if you want this sort of therapy and you don't have money (likely because you can't work because you're spending all your time being anxious) no therapy for you.

This hits at the root of a serious problem with modern psychology. Though the tools are there, the systems to provide services aren't. With budget cuts and the general problems associated with the current financial climate most county mental health systems don't have psychologists on staff. They have psychiatrists, as they must, so drugs can be prescribed, but psychologists period (much less those from the subset of CBT specialists) are not paid for.

Some of this is due to the view of therapy as pointless (spurred on by the low effectiveness of nearly every other sort of therapy) and some of this is simply due to lack of money, but the ultimate result is alonger course of illness and greater rates of disability and hospitilisation for people with anxiety disorders and depression. There are many great CBT specialists who work privately, but if a patient doesn't have money, (and even if you have insurance the co pay is likely to be rather large) the they're shit out of luck.

This is a general problem in mondern mental health care. It's something I probably see more of because the facility in which I work has many clients who are on medi- cal or who don't have any insurance. People lucky enough to have money don't usually come through our facility, and usually can afford to pay for therapy. That's not to say that the problem isn't still valid.

I could explain further, cite sources, and give a personal speil on parts of it, as my OCD is currently in remision because of CBT along with SSRI's (though other problems did arise after this period) but right now I don't feel like putting the time in. Look for the numbers yourself, or if you're interested leave a comment and I'll make an essay with citations and evidence that's a bit more objective.

Friday, May 14, 2010

alone time.

sometimes I feel like I am losing myself. I need a certain amount of time alone in order to really seek out who I am and to remind myself of that. I haven't been having that time. That's not to say that I don't love being with my girlfriend all the time, It's only to say that Sometimes I just need a bit of a break from people. People are tiring, and draining, and no matter how much you love them, over exposure is going to lead to some sort of resentment over time no mater what. I want to avoid that resentment.

It's hard to explain the need for alone time to extroverts. I just get different things from people than extroverts do. I love people and quite enjoy some of the wonderful interactions I have with them, and the conversations I have, but I can only take so much of them. It's nothing personal, it's just something in me that needs time to rest.

The lack of time on my own has also sapped some of my creativity. I have been writing less, and playing music less, and creating less in general. There are fits and starts, but the longer bits of the process don't really seem to come through.

I need more of my own time. getting that without offending someone or creating another problem is going to be hard. I hadn't insisted on alone time in the past, and I'm guessing that's a problem now. It's such a necessity though, that I may go ahead and confront the situation anyway.

Friday, March 19, 2010

state of things.

I've just stopped exporting my notes to facebook. I don't suppose I mind the raising of awareness linking it there gives, but I don't feel like receiving positive comments everytime I write something that sounds depressed, or friends asking me why I didn't tell them. frankly I'd much rather deal with some of this stuff alone. I haven't been writing nearly enough, and decided to start the blog up again as a way to force myself into it. It's not that I don't want to write fiction or essays, it's just that the structured sort of writing I'd most like to do requires a different sort of life than mine. that's not to say I can't start writing for real soon, it's just to say that twenty hours a week of work and 15 units of classes doesn't really lend itself to putting time into writing.

I don't really think my meds are working for the depression. I'll just bring that up to the forefront, it's the reason I'm writing after all. I've started taking 100 more mg of seroquel in the morning in order to help with the depression, and I guess it has helped. I did significantly beter this quarter than the last (well perhaps not significantly, actually I may not have done better at all, all of this is up for debate) and I've been better about sleeping less. I don't cry as often. I guess it has helped some, but I still feel so tired, and so sad, and I don't really know what to do about it. I counsel clients to write, so I'm writing. I give advice about this stuff, and I'm relatively good at that because I understand where the clients are coming from, but the help I'm providing at work is partly support, and the availability of someone who understands what's going on. I can't get that from self advice. or really from people I know.

I know people who are depressed, I'm in love with someone who's depressed a lot of the time. Her reasons are different than mine, and create their own problems. She says she feels lonely, and that I help, but she still feels lonely. I can relate. I feel loved most of the time, though sometimes she does play mind games (I don't care to explain the situation. just suffice to say that as far as I can tell we're as healthy as circumstance has allowed) but that's not what any of this is about. I feel lonely because I don't have anyone who really knows what's going on. I still feel sad a lot of the time, and being numb is better than that. I smoke, though I don't drink as much anymore, and that helps. I also take my pills to prevent mania, and psychosis and worst of all mixed episodes, and that's a daily compromise, but I still feel tired in my very centre.

I don't think someone whose depression is rooted in pain from the past can really understand what it's like to feel bad for no reason. Sometimes it's the lack of a reason that hurts the most. I'm scared of death, and realise this every night I sleep alone, thank god I don't sleep alone much anymore. I don't feel like I want to die, though I am tired of my current life and see only a few thin threads that lead me out. I still want to do things and learn things, and create things, but I don't know anymore how long it's going to be until I get to do it for real, get to do it on my own. get to just fucking be what I want to be. I'm tired of working too hard for too little return. I'm tired of keeping myself going with weed and music. I'm tired of waking up every day to go to classes that feel like wastes of my time. And I'm just tired generally.

I already feel somewhat disconnected because of the damn drugs that are keeping me from debt violence adultury and potential death, I don't need to feel more disconnected because of some terrible neurochemical tweek.

I could get on some new drugs, but that's a long process, and one which is going to be hard, and unpleasant. I just don't know if it's bad enough to go through with all that. I'm keeping myself out of the part that's the most destructive. why it has to be the part that's most enjoyable is just a cruel trick.

I'm sure I have more to say, but now music is going to be far more help to me. so Off I go to record a song or two.

thank god for seroquel weed and the release of steam that this blog may provide.

Tuesday, March 02, 2010

Inexpensive DNA diagnostic tool for use in the third world.

an important venture I'd suggest supporting if you're able. Could make a world of difference.

Friday, January 29, 2010


Busyness is no excuse for lack of creative output. While the time one has may be limited the time in which one creates should never go by the wayside. Would that I were going to school solely on loans and grants, rather than paying for it, at least partially, with work, I would have the time I want to devote to creation.

I always feel like there is something in me that needs to get out. it isn't a matter of the nature of output or the quality others apply to it, it is about a vision which I cannot help but share. When asked to make my work more accessible, though I fight with the temptation, I avoid doing so. It isn't because of simple pride about the "rightness" of what I intend to do, or because I don't believe that being more accessible wouldn't benefit me, but because If not fully expressed, what is lurking inside my mind will continue to stew, and boil, and percolate until m mind is no loner my own; until I am filled with the lurkings of ideas unfulfilled, and passion put towards the wills of others.

when I am obstinate and choose to perform my songs improvised, it isn't because I wouldn't be able to rehearse and perform songs. Of course that would take me a huge deal of time, and I would need to write songs in a slightly different way. I Improvise because there is so much melody, and interaction, and desire to produce in my head that I am not satisfied simply performing songs which already exists. For me the creative process, the act of making something new, is truly fulfilling. When I perform a song I have written, I enjoy it, I enjoy the feeling of playing it, but when I improvise I feel something entirely unique; I feel the deep satisfaction of taking that which is inside and putting it out.

If I do not I will burst.

I am irrepressible. This is half because of my neurochemical deficits, and half because I have found that creation is nigh the only thing that makes life worth living.

I am not producing to give myself notoriety, though I do want people to hear me, to read me; I am not producing to say that I have; and I am not producing to make something which will last longer than me; I am producing because I have to.

It doesn't seem like it would be as simple as that, but in the end, it is.

I must create. The fact that in every class, every day of work, every moment of distraction, I am exuding and idea, or a verse, or a melody, or a simple thought which will later build a story. I am not ever comfortable with lack of output. Everything I do gives me reason to create more.

I don't suggest that this makes me unique. I imagine that if more people truly knew themselves they would see that there is also output in them which needs to go out, I simply suggest that I have found that which is in me doesn't sit well. The things I must put out, really aren't going to stay silent without me wanting to explode.

Lack of time is no excuse, because there is never lack of desire, and never lack of inspiration, and never lack of reason.


that is all I can do


that is all I am

the times I feel most alive are when I create, when I make, when I become something new.

Would that those were my only hours. I will do what I can to make a life where creation is the goal, and the only goal. Until then I will post sporadically, and burst with ideas. I will fill notebooks, and play songs which no one will ever hear; and gradually I will put out more and more of that which yearns to escape from the rigid edges of my mind, until I am satisfied, or until I am dead.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

a question asked and answered.

It's easy to become jaded and bored with the world when so much experience leads to the same general range of emotion. When one's affect is truncated to no longer include the vast extremes of mania and depression, everything else seems like a half measure. This is half blessing and half curse. It is easy to presume that I am lucky because all I must do to fall asleep at night is take a pill, but it is equally easy to presume that it hurts to not care.

That sounds like somewhat of a contradiction. Apathy, however, genuinely is painful. It is made more-so by the insight into one's desire. Just like belief, no one chooses apathy. One can make the motions of caring, but to actually have a deeper part of oneself activated there has to be the turn of some key, a key to which I haven't access.

When becoming jaded with all of the shortened range of experience that fill my life I fluctuate between contentment and complete discontentment. At least in that I have a full range of experience. Also along with becoming jaded I am thankful for the ability to operate in culture despite my chemistry, and so it is all shot through with ambivalence. I love the ability to function, and hate the inability to feel as deeply as I could before. Each night and each morning is a sacrifice of range for functionality. I'm pleased that I get a choice, but I'm not pleased that the only real acceptable choice is to submit myself to drugs and society. My choice is rendered meaningless because no one would accept a decision to forgo my medicine; no one would accept my decision to, by society standards, fail.

I continue with this course of action because unmedicated I have lost relationships, liver function, and financial stability. I resist the action because unmedicated I am given days of wakefulness filled with writing, a flow of ideas which never stops, and feelings others take illegal drugs to experience. I take my pills in the hopes that they will lengthen my life, prevent another depression, and lead me to a successful job in research, but all I'm truly guaranteed of is a restricting of my affective range.

The question every bipolar person has to ask is haunting me. Is it worth loosing mania and hypomania for a normal life? If the continuation of my illness weren't likely to lead to suicide, debt, and potentially so many other unpleasant ends, there would be no question at all. I'm stuck knowing that I sacrifice a unique ability to experience life with the seasons and to feel more deeply than nigh all my peers. I must take my pills and know that by doing so I cut off a whole range of possibility that so many others have mined successfully to create some of the greatest art there is. I must subdue the wildness in me, and perhaps a modicum of the greatness, in order to aim for a more acceptable success.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Another installment of my seasonal affliction.

Daylight savings time was invented by people who's alarm clocks went off at 6. The sun was painfully absent from the beginning of their days. They saw fit to set our clocks back and hour when the light began to fade so that their mornings would feel like mornings rather than the ends of the previous night.

If only the world ran on my schedule. My nights have been so much longer. by the time the clock has struck Five, the sun has set, the crows have flown off and the cold has begun the leech into my bones. It doesn't help that there's a sort of cold that has reached its fingers around my mind.

I was feeling the icy fingertips of winter slowing my thought before the time changed, but the removal of the sun from the bulk of my daily activities didn't help slow the progression of depression's insidious tendrils.

Lack of sun, determinism of season, and a cruel chemical trick played on my by my DNA, has left me feeling slow, snappy, and altogether deficient. This isn't new for me, but I had hoped this seasonal shift would no longer be a factor in my life. I did expect to begrudge the leaving of the sun, and I did expect the season to have a slowing effect on me, but I did not expect to still be so beholden to my moods.

I fell into the trap of thinking that modern medicine could solve my ills in a single swift strike. This is a silly error, which I would not have made had I been thinking more clearly, or even paying attention more closely. I should well have known that my little fluctuations are far from over.

partly of course I was simply hoping that I could be strong enough to subsist on a single medication. It's not surprising I wasn't quite that strong. With so much going on in the way of school and work, as well as my creative endeavours, it is no surprise that a single chemical change would make me better.

I feel that I most certainly could subsist on few, or no, medications if I were in an etirely different social situation, but in school, in this world of schedules and responsibilities, bills and tests, I am left to the wills of my moods, or the modifications of medication.

It's no wonder that the successful manic depressives of eras gone by were so often from families with money. With the money to spare, and the time to really put towards a creative endeavour, perhaps I too could have been great. Perhaps I still can be, but time is the important variable here.

Perhaps when I get some new drugs, and more time I'll write more, and sing more, and play more, but these aren't things I want to put in the sector of what if. I want to say fuck you to the mundanity of undergraduate edcuation and just put my time into my two favourite artistic avenues (music, writing). I don't suppose I'll drop all my current responsibilities, but the temptation is pretty great.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

the ridiculousness of the 24 hour news cycle

The 24 hour news cycle is rather ridiculous. I'm sitting in a coffee shop and there's a TV in the corner playing CNN. for the last hour there's been some ridiculously indepth coverage about some kid getting blown away in a balloon. It's being treated with the same gravity and importance as a military coup, and the result is one child having had an exciting, potentially scary, day, and no injuries all around. This is the sort of thing which gets covered now. It's somewhat sad. Now that we have to have news at all hours of the day news has to be made. It's notable that so little really happens in the world during a single day. There are far more notable things occurring today than a child being blown away in a balloon, and yet that's the most sensational thing, so millions of dollars are spent covering the event.

It just seems like a rather ridiculous use of money, of time, and of human resources. I know this criticism has been made before, but I feel like it's reasonable to make it again.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

the nature of apathy, and how I hope to fight it.

I often have these grand designs before I sit down to write something. Before dosing of in my earlier class I had wonderful ideas about what to write, and little bits of them still stir in the back of my mind, but the will is gone. So much now that is the way of things. I have some idea for which passion flows, yet when I actually get to implementing the idea my passion has gone. Some of it's the drugs.

I can't say if I'd be apathetic without the medications, but I do believe it wouldn't be quite as bad. Of course it's not as bad as when I was taking SSRI's, but the issue is still there. Only the deeply bothersome, can make me angry (which was not always the case). I don't like apathy. I was such an idealist, and I so much wanted to spread the wondeful things I had found to all those who surrounded me, now I don't feel that desire so much. My idealism has fallen by the wayside, and though I can find myself having a small bit of caring for other's plights, I just can't seem to get worked up about it as I could in the past.

Of course apathy seems like a relatively harmless ill, but it bothers me. One of the few things about which I can care, is that fact that I don't. It's one of those lesser ills that feels like a gateway to the greater ills. The less one cares about bad things happening to others, the less one does about those things.

So here's my suggestion, Though I suppose it's primarily to myself; when apathy grasps at your chest, breathe in deeply and pause, and then breathe out quickly and do something. It sounds silly, modifying apathy with breath, but I swear that's a key way to get around the problem. Just stop and force yourself to care. It's easy to see after a while, that the things we do often leave marks on us. The things we seem to care about become the things we actually care about. The things we think about tend to come up again and again. Forcing yourself to do something, forcing yourself to sit down and breathe in a breath of action, a breath of willingness to do something will change that apathy and inaction into action, and eventually into caring.

Wednesday, July 08, 2009

a few things to look at.

here are some lovely things to look at to go along with the things to listen to I posted a short while ago.

some cool Indian illustrations

Art made from different coloured rice planted in rice paddies.

The Moon Fell On Me
some beautiful, stark drawings and captions.

Wednesday, July 01, 2009

Where my time has gone.

When I'm not doing this I'm actively doing something else. It's been a long month full of excitement of various kinds. I started work on Monday. I had a shift Monday and Yesterday, and have one tomorrow. It's a fun job thus far. I like the general nature of it. I'm working at a mental health facility. We're a transitional facility for people in crisis. The idea is that we provide a place for people to get through whatever their current issue is, be it an active mania, a suicidal depression, or a psychotic episode. The idea is that after the client has finished with service at a more restrictive mental hospital, or some psych ward after a 5150 (the designation in CA law underwhich someone may be kept against their will for psych evaluation, requires intention to harm oneself or others)

We're here to help people in crisis get through that crisis and set them up with services afterwards. We can get them in touch with social workers, housing, monetary assistance for prescriptions, all sorts of things. It feels good to be doing something that really does help. We are indeed making a difference in the lives of our clients. Even clients who come in more than once are positively affected by our programme.

I'm pleased to be working above all. Having a job is so relieving. I'm getting back into the flow of working, which is a nice feeling. I haven't worked hours this long in a very long time.

In the time leading up to starting work at this job I've been really busy with my band Oh Wait, Too Late. We had a show opening for two wonderful Sacramento bands, Knock Knock, and the English Singles. Knock Knock is one of my favourite bands, so I was rather excited. It was a good go. I've also been writing, though that's fallen a bit by the wayside with school and work.

When I have work I wake up at 9 ish, go to my 10 o'clock class, then I'm in class unitil 2pm. I take a bus back to my house at which I get in my car and drive to work. I work from 3 to 11:30. It's a long day, and when I come home I just deal with the necessary things.

It's disappointing not being able to get writing or music done on those days but it's worth doing and I enjoy finally having money.

I've also been working on some songs on my own. Some have been in the experimental vein I've been mining for quite some time, and one is more standard.

I've been trying to get my musician friends into a group where each of us writes a song each week, or couple of weeks, and then we play all of our songs for eachother and then we write another. We decide on one topic for the song to be about. I basically just want to get my musician friends in one group so I can get them into a band mode.

The first song we're doing is about New York. I'll write about New York later, and why I want to move there, but the song is a bit about that. One of my friends just moved to New York and she sort of stirred the spirit in me. I want to be in a place with a real scene, and a real variety of music. I don't feel like anyone will care, listen, or appreciate my weirder stuff in a place like Davis or Sacramento. I don't know if they will in New York either, but I feel like musicians migrate there. It's like a mecca where I can find other musicians of similar sprit.

Oy. This has been rather ranty, but for the first post back in a while that's ok. I'll try to post again on a regular schedule, but I don't know if that will actually happen. I certainly do hope to try.

but as I said earlier, if I'm not doing this I'm doing something else. So these months of inactivity haven't been pure inactivity, they've been activity in different sectors.
If there's any interest I can get people links and contacts and all that. I'll try to write more because I feel bad for leaving this blog so barren.


Sunday, June 21, 2009

more music people should hear.

Radiohead Vs. Dave Brubeck - Five Step

Radiohead - Bangers + Mash

one great radiohead song, and a great mashup of Fifteen Step, by Radiohead, and Take Five, by the Dave Brubeck quartet.

Something good out of Kansas, who would have thought.

pretty awesome stuff. The pop crossover of all the guitar interplay I love

better than any band based on Harry Potter deserves to be.

It may be impossible to dislike the song Dying is fine, by Ra Ra Riot.

So awesome. The wonderful band Vampire Hands

Music everyone should get to listening too.

This is music ya'll should listen to. most of it should be stuff you many not have heard. So this is the music I love. There's plenty more, but these are just the things that are mostly overlooked and the things that are so good they could never suffer from over exposure.

A great song by a great band.

as good live as it is recorded, if not better.

definitely a favourite.

this one is a Defining album, and song, for my high school years. "I just got this symphony going" by The Fall of Troy.

A little too awesome, Battles performing "atlas"

ridiculously catchy Sia singing "the girl you lost to cocaine"

Gomez "in our gun" my first dabblings in Indie Rock started a bit with these guys. Before that it had all be Jazz, Ska, and Punk of various stripes.

This is an obvious influence on so many artists, and I'm not going to pretend most people haven't heard David Bowie, but he's so good. David Bowie, doing Rebel Rebel.

Friday, June 05, 2009

in conflict with the daily grind

I've been wasting my days. Nights go late, and early mornings are a thing of the past. I've been biding time until my break comes. I don't know what my break will be. I have all of these goals, and I can't quite get all of them in order. It's not a problem with indecisiveness. I can settle on a goal, and keep following it, but so far it seems that most of these decisions will be made more by the pattern of events than by my on will and desire.
Today and in days past my life often feels like a pretty big waste of effort. I would rather be writing, or playing music, than working on papers and taking tests. I've been fighting against the things the world requires of me, and begrudgingly doing just enough to continue getting by. There aren't any good guidelines for how to live the way I want to, or the way I need to. I don't want to be dulled by drugs and arbitrary responsibilities.
How much money I make isn't going to have any influence on how good my life is, nor is it likely to get me remembered. It's a selfish goal, being remembered for something, but it's not the sort of selfish that detracts from anyone else. I have to create and discover. I've tried being stagnate, or just living through my life in the haze that everyone else seems to live in, and I can't seem to do it.
I don't feel real in my days of taking classes and working. I feel like I'm wasting the days of my life that I'm never getting back. It's more important that now be brilliant, and enjoyable, and remarkable considering the fact that I don't believe in something afterwards. I don't want to waste what, by all reason I can muster, is the only time I have.
I only put time into my creative goals when I'm procrastinating about doing the work required of me. I can't start doing research tomorrow, and thus far only a few people are willing to pay for my music. I can't spend all day writing and then expect to be able to pay for rent and life and all these things.
So I'm writing this now because I feel conflicted. All of my goals are contrary to the way the organised world works. I can't work with society on these things. The life of a musician isn't one that's easily obtainable. That life means working temp jobs and playing music in all the free time you have. Being a writer means doing your writing when you're alone in your room, forgetting about the work you do all day. People don't treat these things I love so much as careers. Finding someone to pay you to write is ridiculously difficult. The same goes for playing music. I don't know how to go about this. The things that most fulfil me, the things that most give me reason to keep on living, are not the things that will give me money for rent, for food, for a phone. The stuff that gives me what I need to survive and be involved in modern society has nothing to do with that which fulfils me.
Maybe when someday I'm making money as a researcher I'll be ok about all this, and will be able to put all my efforts into creative things, be it creating experiments, or writing, or making music. That day can't come soon enough. Slogging through every day, feeling worried about how I'm going to sustain my life, worrying about being alone, worrying about if anything I do is worthwhile, all of that shit is going to populate my days for quite some time. I can't seem to get past all of that superfluous shit, that drags me down into the mundaneness that seems to keep everyone else mildly content.

Monday, June 01, 2009

A tribe without history, description or subordinate clauses

Living without Numbers or Time

By Rafaela von Bredow

The Pirahã people have no history, no descriptive words and no subordinate clauses. That makes their language one of the strangest in the world -- and also one of the most hotly debated by linguists."

I heard about these guys a while ago, it's very very interesting, and brings up some interesting problems for linguistics as a whole. If you're remotely interesting, go and read this.

School getting in the way of my Learning.

It's so tiring existing in this life and timeframe I've ended up with. I'm happy with my life I suppose, but sometimes I feel like I don't have time to do the things that really matter to me. I don't like the way that school works. Grades don't mean a whole lot to me, and the way time is structured doesn't work as well for me. The weird mix of strict schedule and completely unstructured time is hard to parse. I'm not the sort of person who has my life on a schedule.
But that's not where the worry really occurs. I prefer the sorts of goals one has for a job. More particularly I prefer the sorts of goals one has as a researcher.

I often feel like school gets in the way of learning. I have a lot of things to get done that have nothing to do with school. I've learned more from my own research and my own reading than I feel I ever have from school.

I wanted to go to university because I love learning, and I thought that university was about learning. It isn't. That seems obvious now, but at the outset it wasn't. Of course I learn things while in school, but that isn't the prime directive. The primary goal of school is either to get a degree, or just to figure out what one wants to do.

Grades aren't an accurate evaluation of one's intelligence, or of ones skill, it's simply about study skills, and a certain devotion to minutae. I've never been the best at studying, or the best at managing my time, but there's never been any doubt about my intelligence.

I'm just frustrated that I can't strike out on my own yet. I can't do research on my own, or just put time into my writing and my music. I am stuck doing work on papers that are of little interest or ultimate import, I'm stuck studying for classes which will not further my goals in any way. I'm tired of doing work that isn't worth anything. I want to do the things that I love as my prime activity. Maybe just work a job and then in all the extra time do what I'd like. With school it's not like that, I don't get off after the class is over, there are papers and studying afterwards. If I'm done with work, I'm done with work.

With research it's like work with the possibility of involving myself in mental machinations afterwards as well. I think about that sort of thing and enjoy it, but when I have to write papers and study instead of being able to spend more time doing research or music or writing, that's all I feel like I'm doing.

It's just a little frustrating seeing my creative endeavours falling by the wayside while I gain nothing of import.

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Learning for learning

I have piles of books everywhere. I had to steal milk crates to supplement my shelving. Even after that addition I still have books on my floor because I don't have any space for them. I don't have an excuse for the pile of clothing. I have a little alcove (about one metres by two metres) with my amps and guitars and basses. It's a nice organisation I guess. I want to have a space where the living room can have my books and instruments, that way my room just has the books I'm working on reading and my work desk, and a dresser. I really would be down for having spartan space if it weren't for the books and music.

That's somewhat indicative of my personality though. The over flowing of books. I haven't read all of them of course (what's the use of a whole bunch of books you've already read?) but it's nice having all these books. At least once a week I end up pulling books off of my shelves or out of their piles to find some passage or some line. Sometimes it's simply to see what I wrote in a margin, or to find inspiration for a band name, or a story.

I don't really understand people who don't have books. I go to the library too. I understand not buying books, but sometimes you just can't find it at the library. Beyond that used books are brilliant to have around. I have so many books that I got for free from either dumpster diving, or library purges, or the shelves of teachers moving classrooms. I have piles of books that were curiculum for classes I never took. I got some brilliant books on discount that were intended for an English class in Irish literature which I didn't have time to take. The books were great though.

That's the point. I don't really get how people couldn't enjoy these worlds created by others. The sorts of people who end up with favourite television shows should have a similar affinity for reading. "The man who doesn't read good books has no advantage over the man who can't read them." (Mark Twain) I love stories of all sorts though. I end up watching television shows and feel enthralled. That happens with great books too. I think it's even better with books. I have more stories from books in my head than movies and TV.

That whole gap in my understanding is lined up with my disappointment in so many of the people I've met in college. I've met plenty of wonderful people, and even the people I've met who I didn't like weren't particularly bad, but even among that group of wonderful people, I've found a stunningly low percentage interested in learning. There are people interested in grades, and people interested in careers, and people interested in social activities, but the people interested in learning for learning's sake are few and far between.

When I get excited about what I study, and go on these wonderful little rants from the books I've read, the studies I've read, I feel so lively. It's like a way for me to filter out the people who aren't excited about learning. I drop facts too much. I just bring up random facts in a conversation, or take things literally and explain things to people. I know some of that comes from some of my own insecurities, but I'm pretty damn sure that some of that is me trying to seek out kindred spirits.

I don't think the method really works.

Sunday, May 17, 2009


It's hard to get away from one's moods. It would be radically difficult to write something happy right now. I'm feeling despondent. This melancholy has settled on me, and I'm not sure what to do. There isn't much I can do.

I wish I could control all this. Of course I've gotten better at sorting out the world around me to improve moods, but there are some things I'm just not any good at yet. I'm still essentially alone. I've not gotten any better at turning basic connections into more meaningful relationships. Sometimes it's just like a cycle of missed connections. I really wish there were something I could do about it though.

yesterday Matt and I were talking about how everyone has insecurities. We were also kind of trying to single in on our own insecurities, and I couldn't think of mine. I wasn't in doubt that I had some, but it took me a while to figure out what they are.

I'm worried that I'll end up alone. I'm also worried that my creative output is all shit. I latched on pretty heavily to my diagnoses after figuring it out, but I feel like that was just me finally making sense of a large part of my life that couldn't be reconciled otherwise.

Before I got treatment for OCD I was spending a whole bunch of hours a day just doing rituals. So latching on to the definition and diagnoses for me was just a way of finally making that part of my life able to be dealt with.

I do have insecurities about who I am on drugs, but those aren't what are bothering me right now. I'm feeling lonely. I was desperately in love with Julie while I was going out with her. I really did think we'd get married or something of the sort. When all that ended it left me a little out of it. I had to deal with going crazy, and getting better all while dealing with her leaving. I just tend to doubt that I'll ever find something like that again. Even when I feel like I will find something good, I lament my immediate loneliness.

I like having time to myself, and I can entertain myself, but I need someone to confide in in a certain way. I need companionship. I so miss that. I don't know exactly what to do to get back in something like that. I'd do whatever I could.

the first glimmer of a career in music.

I just skateboarded home. It was lovely, and I sung an Irish drinking song on the way. I do really wish that most of my nights were like that. I play a show, I drink and have fun dancing and talking, and then I go home to write and listen to music. It is the best way a night can end. I feel like I may be on the brink (the brink being within a year of) of becoming a musician at least part time. I do believe that my guitarist and I could continue on playing music for a living, and working shitty temp jobs in the interim. we just had a great show. The turn out was low, but everyone at the show felt engaged, and felt like the show was fun and enjoyable. we are learning to be entertaining. The music has never been an issue, it has never been in question that the music was good. What we needed was a show that people enjoyed. we are finally getting to that point. We have some great shows with great people, and I feel like we are finally getting to a point where we can be amazing. we can do a show that everyone will enjoy, regardless of their opinion of the music. That's how we work. Our music is very poppy, but has depth. So it is something to which people can dance, and can have fun too, but if they take the time to listen, they will find a different layer of meaning.

I haven't been this excited about a band ever. I've been in a few bands, and none of them have had as much potential as that which I'm in now. I feel like there is potential. I have never looked at music as a career. It always seemed like something I do on the side, but Matt and the band I'm in (Oh Wait, Too Late) has given be cause to re-evaluate the situation. I don't know if we'll go anywhere, but if we do, I'm happy to go all the way with this band. I've never felt dedicated enough to feel like that was an option. I will agree to whatever the band requires, because I really do love what we're doing. I really do feel like this can be my life. Living on a tight budget doing a temp job but putting my creative effort towards a band. I feel like maybe this is a new branch I can move my life into. I never thought of myself as that sort of person, who would be happy to be in a band, and do shit jobs to do it. I always pictured myself as a researcher or as a clinician, but now that's changing. I think that that's an important change. It's interesting to feel this progressing. I feel like I could do anything right now. That sort of freedom is hard won, and I feel like grasping it as long as I can. I have time for a career in research later, I should just take this opportunity at face value. I have done this far, and I think we can keep it going as long as people care to listen.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

just another post.

While taking my shower I was dreaming up blog topics. I kept coming back to some grand article titled "confessions of a serial monogomist" it's an entirely ridiculous idea. I was going to write about being in love and not being happy as a single person, and what that means.

Ultimately it's not very interesting to talk about myself in that way. I highly doubt anyone wants to hear about my feelings on romance. It's one of those things that I get tempted to write about, but don't because as self serving as this is, I like to keep up the illusion that I'm writing for the purpose of being read.

I'm also going to avoid writing once again about how blogging is so much wankery. I'm sure anyone who reads this is well aware of how mastrubatory this sort of writing can be.

In a lot of ways this is here for my dreaming. I dream up so many ideas in a day, fewer now on my drugs, but still a large amount. I sort of need to filter them out. Or maybe it's not really a dream sorting process. I'm pretty sure I just need to remove myself from the equation. By getting all of the stuff that irks me out onto a page I can use my other ideas without so much interference.

I'm not sure if that's true either. I may just be keeping my muscles flexed while doing school and music. I'm just writing as a way to keep my skill with the language and my ability to rant intact. I haven't been working nearly enough on stories, though I have three or so in the workings. I feel like maybe I'm just writing here to keep my writing abilities on hold while I'm busy with other things. I don't really know if that's a good thing. Perhaps I should just throw myself back into my writing. Of course it's not like I have time. I don't make money writing. I don't get closer to the end of my schooling by writing. Basically I'm at a point where I have to either sit tight and just keep my writing skills oiled with inane things like this blog, or I can go all into it and neglect these other sections of my life. I'm really tempted to opt for neglecting everything else.

Monday, May 11, 2009

The California part of my upbringing

I didn't grow up quite like anyone else. The main place I grew up is right where the Cascades meet the Sierra Nevada's. Mount Lassen is just at the end of the Cascades, It's volcanic rubble from an eruption in 1914 reminding us of that. My front yard was not a yard. There was a paved road and then forest. The forest was owned by somebody, and trails went through it, but it still felt like a living breathing thing.

It was a walk across my small five road town and across the train tracks into PGandE territory before I could find a slightly more wild bit of the forest. The forest in front of my house had felled trees all over after a particularly windy storm, and the debris made running and jumping about rather fun, but the lack of animals to chase and observe left it feeling less real than the meadow behind our house, filled with ducks and geese.

I know so much of that forest so well. I injured myself on more trees than I can count. The sticking up branches sometimes would scuff my knee, and the trees with lower branches were never safe from a climbing.

I still love a good tree to climb. The deciduous trees down in this valley have so many more bends and so much more to grab onto than the pine trees of my youth. The heat here is so much worse than the relative cool that was always there in my home town. 80 degrees was a hot summer, and we'd had snow almost every month of the year.

we were where the air was thin and the water unfiltered. My friends and I would go to drink from the broken pipe over at the spring that spouted fresh clear water that was being pumped to the houses in the small town.

As intellectually confining as the place was, it was definitely physically freeing. The forested half of my upbringing makes me feel a little boxed in when surrounded by anything other than trees. I still climb trees whenever I find one worth, and I still feel like there is little better to do with ones day than go on a walk to just write in some place with birds and trees, and a little bit of water.

Monday, May 04, 2009

Sometimes I just want to leave.

I love stories and films and shows in which people just leave. They drop things and go to some other place. Find themselves dropped into New York, or London. I've always wanted to just drop things and disappear into some foreign place. I'm surprised I never did anything like that while manic.

Now I'm remembering something like that though. I think the part of these stories I always miss is a partner. I have to have someone I'm running away with. Once when Julie was visiting me in Davis, we drove all the way to San Francisco just because we could. Just because I so wanted to take her there. We didn't practically have the time. We went to the Amtrak to see if we could take the train and that wasn't an option because it was too late.

I drove us there anyways. All the way to Japan town where we stopped at my favourite udonya, and I had great Kitsune udon with Julie. I don't remember what she had. I remember getting lost in north beach where the signs began showing up in Korean, and Chinese, and then I hit the coast. We drove back and the sun set down on us as I pressed the gas pedal and listened to the loud rev of the engine. She sat beside me and we held hands. It was great.

I've never done any disappearing act on my own. I'd love to, but I feel like now that I'm relatively sane, it's too late. I had my chance, but going it alone wasn't what I wanted. I never wanted to disappear into the world alone and isolated while surrounded by city walls. I wanted to go into the void with someone to share the isolation with. To gradually find solace in this ordered world. I wanted to explore a city with a lover.

I never fully fulfilled that desire. It's something I'm not entirely ok with. One of those desires I never got to fulfil. I've had weeks of writing. I am having relative success with my band, I'm working on towards becoming a neuroscientist. I've met other goals, or at least explored their bounds. That disappearing act is one I may never get to fulfil.

I've not really had a partner in quite some time. I'm sane again, and I feel like I can finally give as much as I get, if not more. I want to asuage this loneliness, and I'm ok with how selfish that wish is. I want to be with someone, and I'd like that to be sooner rather than later. I'm not sure how to make that happen, just like I'm not sure how I could ever fulfil my disappearance fantasy. I'm in a limbo which isn't mediated by insanity or by the less kind arms of fate. I don't really know what to do in my situation. I've so many options, but no idea on how to act.

Sunday, May 03, 2009

some things brought up by a walk.

I went for an hourlong walk today. That's not something I do often. The whole time I was reminded pretty heavily of the situations in which I used to take long walks. When I was manic I would walk late at night or even early in the morning, still up from the night before. It cleared my head, and let out some of the energy that builds up. I always felt like the world was more open when I was walking.

When I would get seriously Obsessive Compulsive I ran. I had a few routes I'd run. Things would just get to be too much and I'd put on my running stuff and just run out of the door. It was the only real respite from all of the terrible things I imagined and the strictures of ritual. Even while running some of the stuff that so bothered me during the rest of the day would come up, just not as badly. I would run past trees and imagine them as gallows, and run past cars tensing my fist and imagining the process of slamming my fist through the wing mirror.

Running had less of the rituals, and less of the rules of my every day life. It felt so good to be out. The suburban sprawl still felt somewhat confining, but it was better than my room. I've thought a lot about how a strictly ordered environment, with concrete, and numbered streets, and walls and stoplights effects one's mind.

I don't suppose I would have been saved from the OCD had I stayed in the wilderness, but I don't feel like it would have been quite so bad. I just connect the going mad with leaving the mountains because they occurred in concert. The mountains were a different sort of confining. The social world was small, and the intellectual world even smaller. I felt unfulfilled in many ways. Leaving was good.

The strictures of suburbs may not have been very healthy though. It's a trade off. In order to have the intellectual challenges and opportunities I had to trade that physical freedom and space.

I only lament the loss of the forest when I'm alone. When there aren't people with whom to interact, when I would like to just go on a walk not bordered by houses and sidewalks. When I'm with other people I'm thankful for the density. It's only when by trick of fate or turn of mood I end up alone but energetic. A walk around Davis doesn't fulfil the way a walk through the forest does. I can stop at a bench and write, but I don't feel the same way. Cars pass, and houses are lit up. There are open fields if one goes far enough, but they're flat, and homogenous. Those fields aren't like the meadows of my youth. The house lined streets don't give me a feeling of openness.

I was raised in such a wide open place, that to live in a place with walls and doors and cars and sirens is a big adjustment. I'm stable here, but only with medicines. I'm happy here, but still confined. Of course my father went mad in the mountains. The wide open spaces didn't prevent his madness, just gave a large space for it's expression. He could feel manic and go on a huge hike into the wilderness. He could go wild in the woods rather than running into people and parties and all the things that occur in a college town. I don't think I would have avoided madness by staying in the woods, I just don't know that it would have been as bad if I had space to spread out into.

my dad didn't need medication for some forty years while in the mountains. He was able to live manic, and depressed, and cyclic. He could live out his wild life without confinement. The social structures confine, the world doesn't. It's almost the reverse here. Pavement sprawls endlessly, but people are in all sorts of configurations. I can never burn enough bridges to not have friends somewhere. I'm not one to burn bridges, but it's comforting to know I could. I know so many people, doing so many things. The freedom I once had when I walked out my door now only spreads to intellectual freedom and social freedom.

I won't knock what I have, but I will lament that which I've lost.

Friday, May 01, 2009

Other People's art.

I found an amazing album on Stumble Audio, but I don't really have the money to buy the album. It's Harajuku No Emo Ko by Tober. It's really charming. I feel like I'm listening to a nice middleground between pavement's loose indie rock and Braid's emo/indie. The album was made in 2004 and I can't find anything about the band. I'm really surprised to find an album that sounds like this from a band I've never heard. I feel like an aficionado of that early indie rock scene. That whole Urbana Illinois scene, and the influence of a bunch of New Jersey and Washington DC bands.

It's refreshing to find something I missed. I could probably spend seven bucks on an EP but I'm trying to be as frugal as possible now. Music is one of those thins that I buy whether I have money or not. Most of the bands listen to are small enough that it actually hurts them if I steal their album. Sometimes download is the only way to get a hold of something, but I'd much rather pay the artist. I like buying demos at shows. I usually buy shirts at shows though, because I've usually got the album already, and I'd like to wear the shirt, and I know the money is going into the bands hands.

A book I really liked "the boy detective fails" by Joe Meno was obtained at a reading. There were only about ten people there. I brought a copy of Meno's Hairstyles of the Damned from the library. I got both Hairstyles' and Boy Detective' signed, and felt really cool about it. Also a plus was the fact that I knew he was getting the money for the book. I put the money in his hands
He was actually going to spend it on gas, or food, or booze, or cigarettes, while on the road.

It's a much nicer way to support an artist.

I've been finding lots of great music lately, and lots of great stories, and lots of great shows. I'm just in a mode of discovery right now. Sometimes going through all this work by other people helps me with my own. I love reading anything I can get my hands on. So many books so little time. I read for pleasure rather than reading for classes. It's a passion. You kind of have to be into it for it to make any sense. There are just people who read.

I've also been finding cool people lately. Cool musicians and cool scientists. It's just a nice time for me, finding all these people and things that I had missed for a while.

It's a very nice part of settling in.

Thursday, April 30, 2009

Some Misconceptions about OCD

After a while it gets pretty hard to write about yourself. There's only so much interesting material to delve into. That's one serious issue I have with the nature of blogging. I've never been the sort to make posts with links to various things. I'm not the sort who really blogs news. Basically all I have to write about comes from my own experience and my own interests. The occasional post about neuroscience or storytelling gets written, but the nature of those posts is pretty centred on me too.

I've written about it before, but I feel a little narcissistic writing about myself so much. I know that's not why I do this, but it is a problem that sneaks up on me now and then. I've always been pretty self critical about that sort of thing.

So while I was seeking treatment for OCD I was pretty paranoid about misrepresnting myself. If I told a psychologist I was doing rituals for 3 hours a day, I was probably doing rituals for more like 4. I just couldn't get myself to say how many hours I was actually doing because I had convinced myself that I was just seeking attention. I had this whole worry that I was just being a nuisance when I admitted to how often I was doing a ritual.

That's part of OCD actually, that whole worry that you're misrepresenting yourself. People with OCD will sometimes convince themselves that the police are looking for them to arrest them for murder. The way it works is you have a thought about killing someone you love. The thought is graphic and scary, and you are appalled by it. The thought is so real you're even a little convinced that you did kill the person, or that you're going to. SO you do something to keep from thinking the thought, to keep from killing the person. I would touch my left shoulder to my left ear 6 times, touch my left cheek with my tongue 6 times and turn around counter clockwise 6 times. Sometimes I'd do this stuff in multiples of 6. That stopped the thought. Problem there is that you have to do it more and more to stop the thought. So you'll be lying in the foetal position on your bed picturing the death of your girlfriend and doing these rituals in 6s but it just won't fucking stop.

That's one of the most terrifying things in the world. I've never had a panic attack, but I can't imagine it being much worse than this. There are little things that bother you too. It's not just that big thought that haunts you. Things not being straight is bad. If there's a stack of papers I would fix it. after exams I would go up to the front to turn it in, and spend a minute or so making sure all the papers and testing forms were in straight orderly piles. It didn't matter how embarrassed I was to be doing it, I would still go through the motions.

Eventually even stepping on cracks and segments in the pavement would bring it on, so I couldn't do that. I couldn't go into bathrooms with small tiles because I would end up stepping on lines. I had to watch where I was walking all the time.

I went to a therapist to work on this stuff, and when taking the scale (the yale brown obsessive compulsive scale) I filled it out so that the final number was a 6 and I wrote over each number six times so that it was bold and clear.

So I wasn't just into keeping my room clean. Things didn't just need to be straight. I wasn't the colloquial definition of OCD. I was the clinical definition of OCD. I imagined my girlfriend dying in gruesome ways, and sometimes imagined myself killing her. If I had bad thoughts on the sidewalk, I would lick tyres to keep them from coming on. Sometimes in going someplace I would lick the whole row of tyres.

It always annoys me when people use OCD in a colloquial way. It's always for something silly. I just can't see OCD that way. Something silly that means you like your pencils straight. I see OCD as that thing that makes some people wash their hands until they bleed, that made me so afraid I spent 3 or 4 hours a day (probably more in actuality) doing rituals to avoid seeing my girlfriends death. OCD was the thing that convinced me that I was going to slam my fist through a wall, and watch the way the rough drywall tore at my skin.

OCD isn't someone being anal. OCD is actually pretty fucking horrible.

(for those of you who are seriously anal, but enjoy keeping things straight, and who don't seem to have many other coping mechanisms I suggest you look up OCPD or Obsessive Compulsive Personality Disorder)

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

happy to be on working drugs.

I'm so glad to be well. I've been helping out a manic friend for most of the weekend, and I remember how good that felt, but also how bad all the consequences could be. It's so nice to be well. I can fall asleep at a reasonable time, I can do what I'd like. I love not being thrown about on my moods.

Of course I did love manias. People take cocaine to feel the way I feel if I just don't take my drugs and stay up for a night. It's just the depressions. The depressions are too much. I don't know how long it would be. 5 years, 10 years, but after enough of those depressions I'd just say fuck it and get the hell out of the living world. I'm glad I have another option than going through those horrible downs.

Seroquel really is a miracle drug. My dad is stable (without doubt) for the first time in probably 40 years. I am back in school, and able, and well, and succeeding. I still have my doubts about my creative process, and about the things I produce, but I feel like I've been given and early reprieve from what is meant to be a lifelong struggle.

I feel quite sorry for prior generations of manic folks, tossed about with no ability to avoid all this wildness. The Woolfes and Byrons. I'm so lucky to be in the situation I am. Tonight I'll go to bed thankful.

Monday, April 27, 2009

a short bit on stories.

I can't get over how interesting stories are. I just love reading, and hearing, and watching, and telling stories. I don't really care where they're from, or how true they are. I almost feel like a story is truer than the actual events.

Ultimately our pasts are just the stories we tell about the past. I often feel like I've integrated some of the bits of stories I've read and seen into the fabric of my own life. Those bits of me that are most like Holden Caulfeild are that way because of and interaction between how I am and how the book made me.

There are a few important functions of language. One asks for things, and passes on information. As far as pure necessity goes, it's difficult to figure out what stories are for. Of course there are those elements of passing on knowledge and instilling values, but I suppose that's what I was getting at. We use stories to encode our societal values, and to suggest what is expected of each individual. We use stories as a way of keeping entertained.

There are a lot of wonderful things we use stories for.

I've more to say, but will get to it later. This post felt like pure speculation, and not in a good way. But such things happen.

Sunday, April 26, 2009

How we relate to stories.

Sometimes there's nothing profound to be said. My posts the last few nights have been short ones. That's not necesarilly a bad thing, but it is something I take notice of. I'm not sure what's turned me towards these shorter posts. Some of it is just lack of inspiration, but some of it is a better idea of what I want to say.

If I have the simple desire to recount my day, then the post is likely to be more concise. If I warble on about some topic, not fully knowing what I'd like to talk about, then the post will be long.

I'm never sure how a post will be take either. Some of the posts I've written that people mention to me afterwards aren't the ones I would expect to have a big draw, or a big emotive force. It's really interesting seeing what of my writing is taken up by others.

It's that intersection between reader and writer that's so interesting. The way some people attach to a book, or a story. I'm really interested in how that interaction works. There are certain stories and posts that really enthral me, and I don't know how much of that is an interaction with the author or how much of it is simply the story embodying part of me.

It takes some serious thought to figure out why we like some story so much. What of a character do we see ourselves in?

Some stories are easier to peg than others. The reasons I love Catcher in the Rye are pretty obvious. There are certain things about Holden Caulfield that seem to fit for me as well. I loved Catcher in the Rye the most when I was disaffected, and crazy, and gradually falling out of step with the whole lousy world.

Some are more difficult to figure out. I still don't quite know what it is about Ender's Game that enthrals me. I've read the book tens of times and I still don't know. I can see some ways I relate myself to Ender, but it's not as simple as the relationship I have with Holden Caulfeild.

It's never what I expect people to latch on to. The posts that I write as a one off, on a whim, tend to be the ones that people adhere to. Same goes for parts of a story. People always take something a little different than was intended.