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.