3 hours of stalking while I can’t sleep

I find myself unable to sleep again tonight, consumed by fear and doubt, convinced of my imminent demise. Far too upset to sleep I got dressed (in yesterday’s clothes, no point in dirtying another set) and turned to the internet and Radio Paradise.

Radio Paradise is, more often than not, an excellent choice when I’m upset. It seems to know just exactly when I’m at my worst and hits me with a surprise favorite that perks me up. This morning it was Blue Man Group’s “I Feel Love” featuring Venus Hum. The song has many detractors in the Radio Paradise community. You can rate the tunes and comment on them, and they have a graph displaying the distribution of all the ratings from one to ten. “I Feel Love” (featuring Venus Hum) is rated at a 6.7 despite my sincere “9” rating. The distribution shows a lot of ones and twos and threes. There are people out there who clearly dislike the tune.

But I love it. Headphones are best, as with all my favorite tunes. And with all my favorite tunes the music takes me to a place of daydreams.

Tonight I had the urge to share the tune, even though I knew there’d be a lot of my own friends who simply wouldn’t “get it”. That’s the way it is with all my favorite tunes. They’re my favorites for reasons that don’t work for other people.

Digging through Youtube I found a recording of their live performance. I also found an official video, but for once the live version was better. I posted it and then proceeded to trip down the rabbit hole. I had no idea that “Venus Hum” was a band name, I’d always assumed it was the singer’s name. Youtube had a couple of suggestions for Venus Hum and I checked them out. Good music, and I wanted more.

I was cautious in my search, however. I know the “Feel Love” tune is old, I’ve had it for many years myself, and the video date was some time back in 2006. Doing a search on the band I found they’d formed in 1999. Typical. So much of my favorite stuff comes from the nineties and aughts. The wikipedia entry didn’t mention anything about the band, but it did say their last album release was in 2009. That depressed me a bit. Any band that hasn’t published something in over five years is generally defunct by default.

Then I let myself explore a bit of obsession with their singer, Anette Strean. In the BMG video she did not look anything like my imagination, but watching her on stage, and in Venus Hum’s other videos, I found her face incredibly familiar, and very appealing.

Something about the lips and the smile... and the glasses.

Something about the lips and the smile… and the glasses.

I cannot for the life of me figure out where I’ve seen her face before, but I swear I have. Not Anette Strean’s actual face, because I’ve never met her, but someone. My brain kept skipping on a loop of “she looks almost exactly like…” with that aching lack of conclusion. There was a strong connection somewhere up in my synapses but they refused to resolve in any one person.

Perhaps it’s connecting to some dream amalgam. My dreams, the good ones at least, present me with favorable people who, upon waking dissection, turn out to be an amalgam of multiple people. The women in my dreams especially, combining all the best qualities of my past friends, family, and lovers. Any adversaries in my dreams rarely need more than one person to create a suitable villain, but the nice ones are always very complex.

The face Annette presents has a feel like that, along with an old “high school crush” kind of attachment. So it’s quite possible the person she reminds me of is just someone I’ve forgotten, but it feels like it’s someone I would never forget.

With the obsession of a newborn stalker I did some searches on her. The Venus Hum website looks like it hasn’t updated since the release of their last album in 2009. I was briefly excited to discover she had a twitter account but was then crushed that she hadn’t posted since 2010. I regained the excitement when I found her facebook page. The latest update was from May but at least it was from this year. Reading her last post I find that she’s talking about how May is Mental Awareness Month and she talks a bit about her struggles with Bipolar disorder. She talks about how the diagnosis was both freeing and crushing. Crushing because it labeled her as broken (my paraphrasing) and freeing because at least she now had a point from which she could work and move forward.

I read of her struggles and looked at the photos she has of her family, her husband, and her daughter. I confess to feeling a bit uncomfortable seeing so much of her life without actually knowing her, but I reassured myself a bit with the knowledge that her facebook account was a personal one and what I was seeing was the few bits she made public. Which made me feel good because a surprisingly big part of me wanted to believe she was still posting tons of updates to her friends and family. I wanted to know she was still … existing.

And I’d really like to remember whom it is she reminds me so strongly of. Because it feels like that person might be important. Really important.

But that could just be my imagination building up a connection that isn’t even there. I’m feeling crazy enough as it is these days.

Be well, Annette Strean. I sincerely hope you’re going to make more music and I would love to hear it some day. Please continue to exist out there in the real world.

Music and memory

One of the few moments I look forward to in my day is my walk to and from work. Not that I actually enjoy walking. The walk home can be particularly arduous on long days. My feet are, more often than no, in extreme pain and it’s only the thought of making it home that keeps me going.

But I still look forward to those two twenty-five minute spans for one specific reason: music. I put my earbuds in and, with my only responsibility being putting one foot in front of the other and keeping out of traffic, I let my mind wander with the song to some imagining or another.

Now you might think I can do this at home, and I do listen to music more often than not, but at home it’s not the same. At home I have other responsibilities and distractions. I have to do the dishes, cook the food, clean the bathroom, fold the laundry, and a million other little chores and tasks. At home I have movies and television and internet. There’s Tumblr and Pinterest and dozens of other web sites to suck my attention. The music, good as it may be, is generally just another in a large cloud of distractions.

Don’t get me wrong, music at  home is good. It keeps me in a positive mood, more often than not, and quite often inspires me to get things done. Right now I’m being inspired to write these words by Ray Lamontagne singing “You can bring me flowers”, which is a song full of soft jazz and soul and so many feels you might just drown:

 

This lovely tune also illustrates why I love the music of my walks so much – my head space expands and I’m walking through an entirely different world. Walking while listening to my music lets me listen to my music with more intent and depth than listening to my music anywhere else.

It doesn’t hurt that walking to work inspires my mind to escape, and walking home in pain inspires my mind to flee, so the music is a very welcome and ready diversion.

Today’s music reminded me a of a significant lesson in my past. An old, old tune from the very early eighties taught me that all important lesson: A song doesn’t have to be popular to be something meaningful to you.

I loved Men At Work when they released their initial album and still enjoy “Down Under” and “Who Can It Be Now”, although both tunes have been overplayed enough that I have to be in an open and receptive mood to enjoy them these days.

But today my phone dredged up another tune from that album: Down By the Sea. It was one of the first tunes I ever fell in love with that wasn’t loved by everyone else I knew. It would have fit perfectly on a “Headphones Only” playlist, something I plan on setting up on my phone gradually.

Another song of theirs that stuck in my head as one of “My” songs was Be Good Johnny. At the time it epitomized my interactions with most of the adults in my family. Being six feet tall and over 200 pounds it was a mystery to every one of them that I had no interest in sports whatsoever. Be Good Johnny, to me, told the story of a child more interested in imagination than football or cricket, and that was me all over. I would have been better suited to a smaller, bookish body.

I love that … what?

“I love that…”

This is the writing prompt that Dianne has provided for me, the initial spark to inspire me to write a blog post starting with those words. I know what she’s trying to do, and I thank her for it.

Dianne is doing what she can to get me focused on the positive, and I understand her reasons for doing so. I’m sinking deeper and deeper into the negative and losing the fight to come back.

I honestly feel I’m resting in a bog of quicksand and the only thing keeping my head above water is doing my best to Not Move. For the past year it seems that every move I make just sinks me deeper and deeper. Deeper into different jobs that I like even less than the previous one. Moves that are ostensibly meant to provide me with more income either provided me with less, or pretty much the same. Financial failures finally breaking through the levees of minimal payments and adding water to the sucking bog. The dawning realization that I’m worse off now than I have been in over thirty years, and it isn’t going to get any better.

So what I “love” now are those fleeting moments that bring me temporary relief.

I love that moment before sleep, when I’ve set all the pieces in place for me to rest as best I can, when I can set my mind to pretending I’m somewhere else. Closing my eyes and trying so hard to come up with a dream of escape, or release. Daydreaming in those final moments numerous fantasies of flight or superhuman durability. Daydreaming of just not hurting anymore. Daydreaming about being rich enough to not only feel secure myself but to ensure the security of those I care about. Little figments of distraction to trick my brain into calming down and giving in to sleep. So far it’s still working, but I’m waking up earlier and earlier each morning with reality reasserting it’s crushing presence.

I love that morning hour on the weekends when I wake up with the usual tension and urgency of another workday to be faced, only to realize it’s the weekend and I can sleep in.

I love that moment over lunch where I can lose myself in a book, and I love that moment when I can pack up the remains of my lunch and close my eyes to crash nap for ten to fifteen minutes. I love the furtive little dreams that crash through my head as I let the pain medication sink in so I can make it through the last four hours of work.

I love that feeling of settling into a new show, watching numerous episodes each evening, getting to know the characters and watching the drama unfold. I love that sensation of getting lost in a well crafted fantasy world where the problems are either easy to solve, exciting to work through, or both.

I love that feeling of putting word to line, of etching my own fantasies onto paper, although I haven’t had the drive to do so in a very long time. It has been weeks since I have felt that desire and I’m not sure how to get it back.

Wait! What was that?! Bring it back!

Wait! What was that?! Bring it back!

Lastly… lastly I love that moment with friends where you can shed your armor and relax. I love that moment where laughter comes easy and it doesn’t matter what you have or what you do, they genuinely love you for who you are and are just as happy to have you there are you are to be there. I’ve missed that so very much in my little world, and it was so very nice to have it back last weekend. It’s so very nice to have that back in my world.

A page a day, day twenty four: unleash the bike?

A couple of months ago I had to move my motorbike from my spot in the parking lot behind my building because roofers needed the entire parking lot for their trucks. It was only pure luck that I found out I needed to move it in the first place. The building management company posted a notice on the back door about everyone having to move their vehicles before the roofing company came in. They wanted the cars moved out by Thursday.

I read the notice Wednesday evening, and only managed to see it because Dianne and I had decided to go out for coffee that evening. Had we not done so my bike would have been towed without warning. They didn’t post the notice ANYWHERE else in the building, not even the front door. They just naturally assumed people would read the notice when they went to use their cars. Except not everyone USES their cars during the week, especially those tenants who work downtown! And of course I only ever park out front because my bike is using my spot!

Anyway… Dianne helped me to move my bike out of the way in the morning. We conferred with the roofers and they assured me that if I moved my bike out of the main parking lot and against the fence it would be far enough out of their way to not be a problem. So we did, and there it has sat since.

As it turns out, this is now a good thing.

And there it will sit until the thaw in June

And there it will sit until the thaw in June

The parking lot for my building is on the north side. It remains in the shade all day until well into May. With Calgary’s natural weather pattern of thaw-snow-freeze, and our building managers’ standard snow removal service that doesn’t do anything beyond the sidewalk in front of our building, the parking lot becomes a solid block of ice that lasts into June.

Last spring this was a huge problem for me because I needed the spot clear of ice before I could bring my bike out of storage and park it there. This spring it was going to become and even worse problem because my bike had been parked there all winter and wasn’t going to be able to be ridden at all until I could get the ice cleared.

Except we moved the bike already, for the roofers, and on that morning they’d already spilled a huge amount of roofing gravel all over the place so we had a fair bit of traction to work with. Now, with the recent warm weather, the alleyway is pretty much dry, including that section along the fence where my bike is parked.

With Dianne’s last visit I picked up a temporary parking pass for her. While I was in the Parking Authority office I asked if it was possible to get a parking pass for a motorbike. The clerk said it was, but that it would be difficult for me to attach it somewhere it could be seen. I explained that my bike has a large wind screen on the front and asked if attaching it to that would bee acceptable. She readily agreed that it would.

So… I have applied for a parking pass for my bike. I’m allowed two before I have to pay extra, so this one is as free (or rather “included in my existing civic taxes”) as the other one. I’ll probably pick it up Thursday morning and, with luck and good weather, should be riding by the weekend.

Before April.

You have no idea how happy this idea makes me.

 

Finally dreaming again

I had a dream last night, which I’m much relieved about. I’ve been fighting a severe cold for the past few weeks and one of the biggest detriments to being unable to breathe is being unable to sleep properly, and thus not dreaming. Since I’ve gotten used to my cpap machine I’ve rather enjoyed the resurgence of dreaming and have taken to gauging my ongoing mental state by them.

Work stress dreams always revolve around returning to my old job at the University and not knowing what to do. I suspect my mind picks that job as a minor defensive move because I always end up reminding myself that, regardless of the complexity of the task there had always been a manual to follow. This allows me to calm myself down and regain control of the dream.

Life stress often results in dreams about having to share living space or struggling with having to navigate through either very convoluted parking lots, cityscapes, or just buildings in general. The shared living space always involves rooms with gaping walls and showers with no privacy whatsoever. Open bathrooms that only afford limited privacy with opaque shower curtains figure prominently. Obviously my personal  and being able to figure out where Ian and what i.e. doing are huge buttons for me.

Last night’s dream was a new take on desires for personal freedom. In my dream the snow had melted just enough that I thought I could navigate the roads with minimal risk. I had very definite plans to hit the road on my motorbike to ride someplace hot and dry.

Apparently my dreams of freedom are becoming literal.

The only difference being, with the real world, you ultimately have to come back. In my dream I had no such intention. It was a very solid feeling of “point south and go”.

I guess that’s what makes it a dream.

Breaking Bad in controlled doses

So I’m starting to gain an appreciation for why I shouldn’t watch too many “Breaking Bad” episodes in a row. I’ve always been too easily influenced by the characters and stories I watch or read. Any particularly good book that gets me identifying with the character will strongly influence my emotions as I read it. If the character has a high self confidence or is strong willed I’ll find myself enjoying those parts of my personality more and more. If the character is weak or unsure my own doubts will plague me just that much more. If the character I’m identifying with is feeling lost and rejected, I’ll very easily feel the same.

I’ve known this for a lot of my life. I keep meaning to use it to my advantage but it only really works if I’m becoming engaged by the character for the first time. If I’m re-reading a book, or re-watching a movie, the effect is much less pronounced. It becomes much less about identifying with the character and much more about visiting an old friend you’re very familiar with. Re-experiencing a story can still influence my mood, but the influence is fleeting and lacks depth.

So it only really works well with new books, and I’m never guaranteed how well I’ll identify with the characters of a new book until I’ve read it. So I’m aware of the effect, but I can’t predict it.

I’m starting to see a pattern with Breaking Bad, though, and it’s making me cautious. Walter, the main character in Breaking Bad, is brilliant and resourceful. He’s also at the end of his rope, facing cancer and financial ruin he turns to cooking up meth to make money to leave for his family after he’s gone. The lies and deceptions he engages in to make this work without getting caught are diabolical and complex. They twist and weave and keep the viewer on the edge of his or her seat at all times. He dances beautifully and we admire him even as we wince at the choices he makes.

Breaking Bad

Don’t mess with him… he knows chemistry

We can identify with him easily. He’s in a job that’s beneath him in which he’s not only underappreciated but often derided or villified. I have to wonder if being a high school teacher isn’t as depressing as being a dentist sometimes. So many of the kids range from just not wanting to be there to becoming outright hostile that I have to wonder how so many people manage it from day to day.

Anyway… Walter… he’s at the end, emotionally. He’s hit the bottom and can’t see anyway up except to make increasingly villainous decisions. The American health system he’s forced to rely on… doesn’t exist. He’s stuck making it on his own and ventures further and further into the shadows to do it. Each step makes him harder, tempers him like iron in a forge, and you cheer along with him as the spineless high school chemistry teacher starts facing down insane drug dealers while outmaneuvering the local and federal police agencies. Every time he faces a wall he bluffs and batters his way through it. Despite the sentence of death, and quite likely because of it, he dares more and more, gaining strength of resolve along the way.

But he also loses, more and more, easily as much as he gains. I’m down to the last few episodes of season two (it’s taken me this long to work through it) and he is becomng increasingly fractured in his personality. The dark is grinding up against the light to the point where good news has him flailing in anger while dangerous threats are exciting him.

And this is the point where identifying with the main character becomes a chore for me. After watching an episode of Breaking Bad I have to restore myself with something much lighter. Big Bang Theory is always good for it, but Eureka is even better. Was. Was better. Eureka is over, and lord I’ll miss it.

Tangent:

The problem with any story, any truly good story, is that it ends. I’ve said it for years, held onto it as a personal phylosophy: All stories have to end or they go nowhere. That’s the simple rule of stories. If we ever become truly immortal we better have mastered space travel as well because no finite little ball of mud will ever hold enough mystery to keep us engaged for eternity.

In television series “going nowhere” gets identified by “jumping the shark”, reaching that point a story where there isn’t any more worth adding but producers still force writers to churn out episodes in vain attempts to rake in the cash.

So, if a story is good, it has to end. Unfortunately, we become attached to some of these stories and having them end can feel a little like losing a whole circle of friends. Eureka was one of the best.
:End Tangent

I just finished three episodes of Breaking Bad, watched them back to back this evening. I fell victim to the entertainment version of “hand-to-mouth”. Each episode ends on a question, or a big reveal, or a cliff hanger of some sort. Something to keep you on edge for a week and eager to see the next episode. But if you already have the next episode in hand there’s nothing to make you wait that week and you just fire it up.

If you’re not careful you can wind up watching some shows until four in the morning. Worse, you’ll find yourself debating on whether that two hours of sleep before work will really be worth it or if maybe you should just do a few more episodes and finish off the entire night.

But… breaking bad. Walter. He gets under my skin when I watch him. The actor is brilliant. Too brilliant. I subscribe to his reality wholeheartedly, but his reality isn’t good. It’s too much. Too much trouble, too much bottom, not enough top. His successes just lead to more trouble and even his most ardent supporters end up working against him.

He makes me paranoid. His psyche meshes in seamlessly with my own insecurities and I begin seeing the shadows and dark corners a little more clearly every time an episode ends. He is still the hero, he still strives and succeeds, but as one of the characters mentions even the good news isn’t a light at the end of the tunnel, it’s just more tunnel.

I want to be inspired by his stoic strength, his grim determination to succeed, but I end up wallowing in fear and dispair with him as I watch him turn ever more dark and violent to overcome each new hurdle.

I have to watch the show, though. I have to watch it because it is just so damned good. But I have to be careful. Like taking some psychadelic drug I have to be careful to not dose on an episode of Breaking Bad when I’m already down or struggling. It won’t improve my mood. It will just make it worse, possibly even undoing any positive steps I may have already taken that day.

I admire Walter. He’s an everyman caught in a terrible situation and struggling with heroic efforts to overcome, to survive. I admire him, respect him, and possibly even love him a little. I just never, ever want to be him, or anything like him.

Brief and Casual

Drinks with Leslie on Wednesday was inspirational. The trip to Airdrie was surprisingly short. I’m guessing the expansion of Calgary is rapidly closing the gap. It seemed I wasn’t on the open road for more than a minute before I had to suddenly cut across four lanes to make my exit.

Leslie and I haven’t seen each other in decades and I was graced with the unique position of drinking with a friend who hadn’t heard twenty years of stories. We talked about Chad quite a bit. And writing. Hence the inspiration.

The ride home was a little melancholly. The night air was warm and traffic was light. I could have ridden away for days if I’d had the opportunity. The glacial progress of the setting sun gave way to the brisk flicker of streetlights whipping past at 150 kph. I have a terrible time keeping to the speed limit on my bike these days. If I don’t get out of third gear it feels like a wasted trip. Plus the bike just rumbles happily at that speed. It seems to be made for it.

Thursday was cleaning and rearranging. It was supposed to be all cleaning but I got the majority of it done anyway. And I like the layout of my bedroom better. Now I just need to get rid of the last few pictures and my two ammo boxes stacked in its corner. Not sure if I’m going to hang the pictures or throw them out. They’re all too large to fit into the trunk for storage and I have to put them somewhere. So many of them don’t fit into how I want my place to look, though. Putting them up would just look wrong.

The ammo boxes are my tool boxes now, so I need to keep them … somewhere. Not sure where yet.

Friday was more drinks with good friends and laughter. Some faux pas on my part for talking too much, but I never do know when to stop. Discretion never was my strong suit. Part of that comes from living a life where few if any consequences would matter, and part of that comes from my philosophy of straightforward communication. I confess some of it comes from my love of pulling triggers and pushing buttons as well. I do need to learn more caution, however, when it’s more than just myself in the story.

I have, in fact, been making apologies this weekend for saying too much. Yes, that’s apologies plural. I’m really not very good at discretion.

But Friday night was good. Really good. I was able to talk with a new friend about things she already understood without my having to go into entire libraries of background information and a glossary. It was fantastic to just talk without having to stop and clarify every two sentences.

It was also excellent seeing the Dargies again after too long an absence.

I just have to remember there are discretionary points at which I should probably just stop talking.

Saturday was the rest of the cleaning and a much larger shopping trip than I had planned. In Thursday’s rearrangement I finally decided to get rid of the floor lamp that’s been balancing precariously in my living room for the past year. The top was completely free floating and stayed put only so long as there wasn’t a stiff breeze. The light had to be turned on full brightness or there was this metalic, electronic hum that made my eye teeth ache. And full brightness was far, far too bright for my little condo. It had to go.

Which meant I had to find a replacement. So I went in to Ikea Saturday morning for a little shopping. I found two replacements in the form of a pair of holmos. Don’t look at me funny, that’s the Ikea product name for them. But I have to say, there’s nothing like a pair of holmos to brighten up a room.

And the holmos were cheap, too. I got them for $20 each.

The trip itself wasn’t cheap, however. I came away with two dozen new glasses for other people to drink out of. My original Ikea glasses are Joel sized, just over a liter each. Numerous people have given me raised eyebrows and casual comments about “size” that got me thinking people other than me might feel a tad uncomfortable about drinking from a half pitcher. So I purchased a dozen relatively “normal” sized glasses for other people to drink out of.

And frames. I bought frames as well.

After having hung most of my pictures and putting away the rest I knew I needed to cull the frames and pictures that I already have. But then I also have all these Paul Chadwick prints that are being wasted by sitting in storage all the time, and I found a set of frames that might just fit them and get them out. So, yeah, after struggling to figure out which old picture frames I wanted to throw out because I don’t have room for them I brought five more home.

People should not allow me to shop at Ikea by myself.

Saturday’s party was pretty good. Not wild or crazy, but still fun. I got several drawings done up on my couch but there’s still tons of free space to work with. I’ve decided that drawing on my couch is now going to become the casual activity for future gatherings. When we start gaming again any unconscious or otherwise disabled character will result in the player picking up a couch cushion, shuffling through my bucket-o-markers, and drawing something new. I already love the stuff I have now and I’m dying to get more. It’s kind of like tattoos for your home. Each new image you receive has you yearning for more.

One of the highlights of Saturday was having Julie visit, someone I also haven’t seen in over a decade. Although I could have done without Leslie and Julie bringing their nineteen year old “kids” with them and making me feel incredibly old. (I jest, the kids are great… intelligent and quirky just like their parents)

Another highlight was the gift of two road signs created by Mike Dargie himself. A pair of his own road side variations, one “caution: pirates” and one “need head”. The Pirates, I think may find a home on the washroom door. The “need head”, of course, makes the most sense on the bedroom door. I know, it’s terribly college-dorm-room in it’s theme but the signs are fun.

Sunday morning was cleaning all over again. More than just cleaning up from the party I also found myself vacuuming all over again. I’d only just vacuumed on Thursday night and here it was, less than 72 hours later, and I swear the dust bunnies were breeding giant mutant offspring because there were rolling tumbleweeds of fluff collecting in the spaces I know for a fact I’d vacuumed clean on Thursday.

I had the place completely cleaned by early afternoon, though, and it felt great. All the garbage was gone, all the laundry done, and the dishes either hand washed or clean and drying in the dishwasher. All the tech and pens and whatnot was put away. My refridgerator is now packed with food and booze, however, and while I can bring the food to work the booze is just going to wind up staying there until someone comes over to drink it. I’ve been taught that drinking alone is pathetic. I tried it once, just to check, and yeah it’s pretty sad.

Sunday afternoon was divided up by the brief visit of a friend in my dark cool hiding place. Conversation was had and ice chilled beverages were consumed. No sooner did I drop friend off at home than my continued reverie was interrupted by yet another call. Scott offered his apologies for losing his battle with tequila Saturday afternoon and thus missing the party. By way of consolation he offered to ride with me to Cochrane for ice cream and I readily agreed. I’d been trying to think of a good excuse to take my bike out and this was a perfect opportunity.

Like a good Doctor with his Tardis our grizzled badger had a companion with him, a young lady who’s name I’m very embarrassed to admit I’ve forgotten, and keep forgetting despite having met her three times now. She’s a good foil for Scott, as any Doctor’s Companion should be, and we paired up for a volley of “poke the badger” with reasonable coordination. Badger retaliated with a debasement of Simon Pegg movies and Douglas Adams books, the humors of which he apparently finds tiring. We rebutted with a simple defection and she rode back to Calgary with me. That’ll teach the grizzled tuner to besmirch the names of such luminaries.

It was pleasant having a rider for the trip back. While I barely know the woman her presence was notable and welcome. Legs against my hips and arms around my chest, it was the most physical contact I’ve had in months. It’s kind of sad when something so brief and casual actually becomes noteworthy.

It probably would have been a lot more relaxing if the bright yellow “low fuel” light hadn’t been glaring at me for the latter three quarters of the trip. There aren’t any gas stations that I’m aware of on the number 8 highway, and when I took a brief detour into Lakeview for the one gas station I knew was there I found, much to my annoyance, it was closed. I wasn’t terribly worried. I’d managed a good half hour into Golden with that yellow light glaring at me last summer so I knew I actually had plenty of fuel left. It was just embarrassing to have forgotten to fill up before embarking on our trip in the first place.

I feel bad for having just dropped her off and not stopped to chat a while, but I wasn’t entirely sure how much longer my bike would keep running.

Monday was a test of my reserve, and I cracked a bit. I was curt with a few customers and outright stoic to one in particular. I think I’m definitely ready for a vacation. The weekend was very nice and relaxing, but the two days were far too short. Sixteen days off won’t feel much longer, I fear, but I’m ready for them all the same. Just four more days to get through without scaring or scarring any more customers and I will finally be able to relax.

Just four more days.

The Condo is clean again, now that I’ve cleared away dinner and washed the pans. The stove is wiped, all debris put away, and I’ve reduced the lights down to two holmos and a candle. My little netbook is barely visible on my dining room table even as I type away at it. Radio Paradise has been delivering some lovely Morcheeba, Black Keys, Pink Floyd, and Dengue Fever tonight.

The home is dark. The home is light. The home is soothing and serene. The home is mine, and sleep awaits.

Inertia

I have a button on my fridge, I bought it a while back when I was ordering Christmas presents from Think Geek. It says, simply, “I’m not deaf, I’m ignoring you.”
It was funny at the time, and sometimes at work I’d like it to be true, but in general… it isn’t.
I’m not ignoring you. I’m not ignoring any of you. This is just how I am. For all my ability to talk and write, for all my skill at explaining how things are or might be, for all my ability to tell a story… I am, at my heart, a lousy communicator.
My ability to tell a story isn’t talent, it’s compensation. I grew up alone for much of my life and, as such, missed out on some of the social tricks many people take for granted. I completely suck at small talk and other simple social conventions. I discovered, instead, that people will … think less strange of me if I entertain them with stories. Besides, the stories also keep me entertained in my own head.
But that’s a tangent for another time.
What I am saying is that I do not do well at initiating contact. I never call anyone except when I have some specific reason for doing so. I don’t leave my house unless I have a goal, someplace I already need to go.
I never start anything, I wait around until there’s something worth following.
The annual non trad is just the exception that proves the rule. If people weren’t constantly asking me about it I’d eventually just stop.
A number of people have been commenting lately that I haven’t been around, haven’t been calling. Rest assured, it isn’t just you.
I’m slipping, I think. I’m reverting to the sad solo life I used to have where, if it weren’t for Chad’s comic shop or the school’s computer lab, I would go for weeks without talking to anyone who didn’t call me first. There were communal watering holes I stumbled on and returned to for the human contact I knew I needed but didn’t know how to find.
Now all the watering holes are gone. I go to work, go nonstop all day, and drag myself home to distract and entertain myself for a few hours before finally dragging myself to bed for not enough sleep.
On weekends I nap. A lot. Which just makes that tired Monday morning all that much harder to face. If Mondays weren’t so crazy, so constantly-on-the-run busy, they’d be intolerably long. Luckily for me Mondays are days that never have enough time, the hours pass in a blur and I’m home again, on the couch, watching something on TV or playing another video game.
The thought of calling people occurs to me, all the time, but it… feels like effort. I can never think of a good reason to talk to people. It’s easier when someone is already there for some other reason, then some random thought will occur to me and I’ll bring up some obscure topic of conversation. But when I face the dialing buttons of a phone I have nothing in mind, nothing significant enough to be worth calling someone about. So I don’t.
I’ve always been like this. It’s always been easier to go with the regularly scheduled event, the common watering hole, whether it was the comic shop or the computer lab or the regular Monday night movie on an overstuffed couch. You didn’t need a reason to show up, the place was the goal unto itself. The resulting socialization came naturally.
I have no ideas, no plans of my own. I have tasks, chores, and obligations. The rest of the time is balanced between a library of distractions and the proverbial ticking clock, marking the passing hours.
I’d really like to think that finally getting the rest I need would prompt me to changing this, the constant surrender to inertia, but I fear it may be too late. I’ve been like this all my life, it would be a miracle for it to change.
And now I’m late for bed again.

Remembering Danny

Sitting here trying to create some new discs for the house stereo. I’m trying to find new stuff, music to set and change moods that we haven’t all heard a million times…

So naturally I download an entire Gary Numan retrospective.

“Down In The Park” still takes me to places I’ve never been, and probably never will see beyond my own imagination.

I had a very odd friend back in high school. Well, okay, I’ve always had a lot of odd friends. It’s funny to realize I’m generally the most normal person in my circle.

Danny was… indescribable. A bum, quite likely, yet also a fine conoiseur of alternative music before there ever was Alternative Music. Hell, he was a massive collector of alternative music before anyone ever coined the term New Wave. David Bowie at his most Ziggy was just standard background stuff for Danny’s tastes.

Danny used to be a roadie for Pat Benetar, if you cared to believe him, before he wrecked his back forever. It was hard to believe him, of course, but he did have his ear and nose on some of the weirdest stuff to ever escape the depths of New York.

He lived on welfare and worker’s comp because of his various injuries. He rented a room from a gay landlord who was constantly trying to sneak in to his bed at night. He would have loved to have moved out but the rent was the cheapest anywhere so he just kept his door shut tight and alarmed the stairs to his bedroom with a random scattering of boxes and foil wrappers that were impossible to get past without making some kind of sound.

He walked everywhere and ate the cheapest food possible. He was socially awkward to the point of eccentricity but managed to avoid the line that crossed into offensive. Being slight of frame he managed to clothe himself from whatever he could afford at the salvation army.

All in all I suspect he managed to survive on about 100 bucks a month, including rent.

The rest he spent on records and, occasionally, gaming material. His room was like a hobbit hole dug out of a strata of vinyl, cardboard and paper. There was just enough room for him to sit on the floor next to his bed and stereo so he could make mix tapes.

Living in the small town of Saskatoon (city of 150,000, sophistication of a town of 15) we’d never heard of any of the artists he collected, like Nina Hagen and many other German punk imports. He never bought the regular commercial stuff. If there were any bits he liked he’s just borrow it from the city library and tape it for himself. He reserved his hard scrounged cash for stuff you couldn’t find anywhere else.

By the time I’d heard Gary Numan’s “Cars” and gushed with boyish glee about it Danny already had a half dozen of the man’s albums. When he found out I like Gary’s single hit he mixed me a couple of tapes of his better stuff. I immediately fell in love with “Are Friends Electric?” and set about trying to find original copies for myself. I think I managed three tapes in all.

For a couple of years Murray and I gamed with Danny, gathering in Murray’s basement every weekend. We’d start sometime on Saturday afternoon and usually finished up around six in the morning. I’d spend most of Sunday just sleeping to recover in time for school.

Good times, good times.

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