Sunday, April 20, 2008

What happens when you stare at a screen and the dam finally breaks....

So, I made the decision this weekend that I'm not staying on another year in Philadelphia. I'm relieved, but not happy. In a way, it feels like I've failed. I've failed at moving out and supporting myself on my own. Now, I have to crawl back to my parents house and live there and save money before I try again. In reality it's nothing like that. My parents would most likely have helped me pay the few bills that I needed help with, and supported me as I needed for at least another year at which time I might have been able to save up enough to keep on making a go of it. No, I wouldn't have had a big nest egg to work with, if any.... but who does now? I read so often about friends who are making it paycheck to paycheck, moving around restlessly, searching desperately for roommates to bring the bills down to a barely reasonable level, and part of me thinks, "yeah, that's what this time of life is all about".

But then Vulcan logic kicks in and I remember a piece of advice I once gave to a girl I thought I was going to marry. This was my High School Sweetheart and we were both going through college application craziness. She was applying to a whole bunch of schools that she really wanted to get into and taking it as seriously as most guidance counselors tell most high school students they should. I, on the other hand, hadn't yet even begun to fill out my one page application to community college because I knew I was going there and they don't reject anyone, so why worry?

In retrospect, I think she resented me for that. We planned to take our SAT's on the same day so we could go to the park after we had finished. She went to bed early that night before, ate a breakfast and was there 20 minutes early, just like her Princeton Review course had told her to be. I didn't take any courses, didn't go to bed any earlier, slept in too late, and went to take the test in the shorts and t-shirt that I had slept in. My bed-head conveniently camouflaged under a New York Yankees baseball cap.

She, being a music major (the first of many major changes), had the benefit of an audition where she could prove that she was better than her SAT's said she was. I knew that's where she would shine. I could listen to her sing for hours (less if she chose to sing soprano, but when she sang alto... endless), smile watching her connect with 3-5 year old's until my face was sore, or drift into such a peaceful state listening to her flute echo throughout the church sanctuary. Being with her, made me know that if no other quality, being musically inclined would be one of the quickest ways into my heart.

I digress. She had a contact, a teacher, at her first choice school who her father played with regularly in a band. He mentioned to her father, knowing her talent was more than tests and grades showed, that if she ever decided to come to his school to let him know and he'd help her out. Now, this wouldn't have disproportionately advantaged her against any other applicant, rather, leveled the playing field so to speak. My advice to her at the time (spoken with a heavy grain of religious salt) was that, "[If God] had given you this contact, this ability, isn't it unnecessarily handicapping yourself [and going against God's Will] not to use everything you've been given to accomplish what you want?"

As luck, chance, [God?] would have it, I was born to extraordinary parents, who have enough confidence in how they raised me that they will selflessly give to me above and beyond the call of other parents knowing I won't let them down. Was I entirely out of money for living in Philly? No. Between no interest offers and loans from friends who'd I'd loaned large amounts of money in the past, could I make it? Yes. Would it be easy and would I have much, besides saying I lived in Philly for 2 years, to show for it? No. So I'd be 2 years behind in what life should be [I guess], and have little if any savings to start some real attempt at a stable life because frankly, working 35 hours a week, and commuting 30 hours a week at a minimum is not realistic for anyone.

DS called it before I even really felt it. She knew that this was ridiculous and that I need to stop being whatever I was being and do what needed to be done. As we sat in the Vietnamese place for lunch, "So you're not happy with life at the moment"
"You're not happy with your commute and overall lack of free time."
"You're not even happy with the way you look or feel physically."
"Then what the hell are you doing?"
And of course, she was right. I think my trip out to see her was the first step, and my weekend spent at home, just at home this past weekend was the second and final step. I've got someplace to go home too which I've always had. I'm already in the routine of paying out for rent, utilities, etc, so now I can keep that up and just pay it right into a savings account (which my father has agreed to keep so I'm not stupid with the extra money floating around). I'm used to missing 30 hours a week, so now I can take that time, put an extra 2 a day to sleeping (bringing it from 4 hours a night back up to 6ish) and focus those other 4 hours on creative endeavors. I'm going to start keeping a "creative log" of sorts to make sure I don't squander my newfound time on stupid things, like getting lost on the Internet or something else unproductive. I want to try painting. I want to get back to writing music. I need to have 8,000 words in an intelligible novelette or few chapters of a novel by June 30th for a week long Science Fiction writing seminar I want to attend. I'd like to put Linux on my laptop, and make it fully functional on my desktop. I'd like to go rock climbing with Superman again. I'd like to not run myself into the ground during the week, and have to sleep at 12 hour clips on the weekend to catch up.

And now, that it's 3:49ish and I've managed to combine what looks like at least 3 individual posts in to one (possibly) semi-coherent ramble, I'm going to sleep. I'm also reserving the right to edit this once I'm awake and, well... awake.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Blogmark - California

Like the scores of books sitting on myself with colored tassels hanging out of their tops and down their spines, marking places I've long since forgotten that I've read to, so this blogmark holds a place in my blog for my trip to California. This will be where I will explicate the following potentially confusing list of events.

In only a minor representation of no particular order, where:

- I met Gaius Baltar, the harbinger of death to the 12 colonies of Kobol, all for a hot blond and glowing spine;

- I met one of the most significant contemporary musical influences in my life currently;

- I learned that geeks everywhere can bond anywhere;

- Sleeping in an airport is an acceptable means of overnight accommodations;

- I walked 2 miles uphill because 1. I said I would and 2. was too stubborn to stop anywhere but the top;

- I decided to watch a tear-jerker of a movie on a plane surrounded by 5 adult women from the same eye doctor's office coming back from a conference of some sort, presumably having to do with optometry;

- I helped DS successfully think up a good excuse to play hookey from work and spend the day roaming her world, meeting her friends, and enjoying her company just like the old times;

- I traveled the countryside to have lunch with far off friends, because they weren't so far off anymore;

- I decided it was a great idea to take a 10:25pm flight to get me home at 6:45am after the appropriate amount of time and time zone adjustments, and then go right to work at The Agency (my blind co-workers can't see me sleeping, so I won't actually be sleeping then, right?)

- I now go to sleep to rest for my last day with the ocean on the wrong side me and turn off DS's iTunes I've been enjoying listening to (I forgot how much I missed my Robert Miles cassette tape, which I should probably get on CD now...)

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Terminator:TSC season finale

The orange creamsicle tasted sweeter than I remembered. Maybe because it had been so long since I had a chance to enjoy such a simple pleasure. This was the first break I had gotten in a long time from trying to save the world... except for school. If you can really count school as a break....

Derek was more relaxed than I'd ever seen him, elbows propped up on the picnic table we were sitting at. Seeing him that relaxed made me tense up and I scanned the park, making note of all the faces and finding at least 4 paths for a quick escape. At least one of us should have our guard up. Mom's training.

I only half listen to Derek as he talks to me. I look around the park again, trying this time to see it from his point of view. Knowing what this place will look like after Judgment Day... and yet, sitting here, barely believing your eyes that it could ever have looked like it does now. Sun shining, kids playing, green grass... hell, the sun or grass of any kind at all....

The baseball, bright white against the emerald grass, brings me back to the present. I had noted the kids playing earlier, but had already deemed them not a threat. That's all the Machines would need to do... create child Terminators. The ball stopped a few feet in front of me and I knelt down to pick it up. The littlest one ran over to get it from me. I smiled at him, or more accurately, the innocent, carefree spirit I saw within him. In his world, there was no other concern but getting that ball and continuing to play with his older brother. For a split second we stared at each other, eyes locked in a familiar sort of gaze. 'Cute kid,' I thought, secretly hoping to myself that he might be one of the ones spared from living through the war with Skynet; That he would never have to loose his innocence....

As he smiles his 'thank you' and runs back to his brother my gaze lingers upon them, observing a life I never led. A life of playing in parks, not living in constant fear that a Machine might be sitting on the bench across the street calculating the best time to kill me. As the children exchange gear and the older one takes the ball something catches my eye. For a split second, it looked like there was a name on the back of the shirt... I watch, silently willing him to turn around again to prove to me it was just an apparition. The older one turns around and I freeze. A million thoughts fly through my head at once, eyes widen, mouth falls agape. It can't be... R-E-E-S-E. It is. My mouth starts to move but no sound comes out. Is that Derek? If that's Derek then that means....

I regain control of my body before my voice and spin to face Derek sitting, smirking at the table, knowing I had just discovered his birthday present to me. "Is.... Is that.... you?" I'm hardly capable of stammering those words out. He says nothing. His eyes move from the kids up to me, a silent answer. I turn back and continue to stare at them, my mouth moving, yet soundless. I turn back, needing to know... "And the younger one... is that...." Derek answers as I trail off, already knowing the question that was coming. "Kyle." It is. That's my father, or rather will be my father....

He's in mid throw as I turn back around to look at him. He looks so focused, completely concentrating on throwing the ball back to his brother. The satisfied look on his face after he makes the 20ft throw causes a smile to tick at the corners of my lips. He runs back to pick up the bat again. "Throws pretty good for a 5-year old, huh?" Derek asks. I didn't need to answer. I couldn't answer. The emotional weight on my chest was beginning to choke me up. He picked up the bat, clearly too big and heavy for him, and choked up almost 4 inches. "Your father always had a nice arm." My heart skips a beat... He knows! Shit, did I give it away? Mom told me not to tell him, I didn't just do that... did I? I swing my torso to face him. Barely louder than a whisper, I choked out, "How'd you know?" Derek looks me in the eye, not hesitating for a moment. "Every time I look at you I see him" as his eyes dart back to the 5-year old Kyle swinging his bat.

My heart once again fills my throat as I'm lost for words. Half a smiling, half in awe my mind is reeling with the events of the past few minutes. My uncle, introducing me to my father decades before my father will conceive me with my mother. It's almost too complex for me to get my head around, but there it is... right in front of me. "Besides, your mom's his type" Derek adds. I slowly turn back to face my father. My body quivers with emotions I can't even being to distinguish. Part of me wants to cry, wants to run over to him and say ' it's ok dad, mom and I are here' .... but he's only 5.

My eyes tear up in the realization that this moment, here and now, is as close as I will ever get to having a complete family.... a normal family like everyone else. A mother, a father, and their child. This is the only time the three of us will ever physically be in the same place during the same time. My lip quivers and an unseen chill runs down my back. "Happy Birthday" Kyle says quietly. My eyes stay locked on my father as I burn every detail of each second into my memory. I've finally met my father.

I swallow hard against the lump in my throat. Happy Birthday.....

Tuesday, April 08, 2008


14 hour days. That's what I'm running right now. Up at 5:30am, out at 6, on trains from 6:30 to 8:45, working till 4:30, on trains from 4:56 through 6:40pm if I'm lucky(7:40 if I'm not). I'm not looking for a pity party... I'm the idiot who decided to live in Philadelphia and work 20 min from NYC. However what this is, is an excuse. That until I adjust, the phrase "spotty at best" pretty much describes me. Words are a struggle, taking me 3 days to draft and write an e-mail to a friend(hope I didn't ramble too much). Work is slow, and luckily I won't have anything too intense for a while; planning for a program months away and unjamming a copier 23 times in one day isn't too mentally intensive. Basketball tonight was like a slow motion dance where my mind couldn't make my body catch up to the events happening around me.

I'd like to adjust soon, if that's alright with life, that is...

Wednesday, April 02, 2008

Stories, but no time

So, while my life speeds along and I actually accumulate things that I can pretend are worth writing about... I tide you over with a philosophical cartoon, on the purpose of life. Coincidentally, or maybe not so, this has been a big concept on my mind right now, or at least one of two (the other being the oh so simple yet oh so complex question"Who am I?"). Enjoy!


We've got a system of schooling which gives a completely different impression. It's all graded, and what we do is we put the child into the corridor of this grade system, with a kind of "C'mon, kitty kitty kitty!". And you go to kindergarten, you know, and that's a great thing because when you finish that you get into 1st grade. And then, "C'mon, 1st grade leads to 2nd grade!" and so on. And then you get out of grade school and you go to high school and it's revving up, the thing is coming, then you're gonna go to college, and by jove, then you get into graduate school, and when you're through with graduate school you go out to join the world.

And then you get into some racket where you're selling insurance. And they've got that quota to make! And you gotta make that! And all the time, the "thing" is coming! It's coming! It's coming, that great "thing", the success you're working for. And then when you wake up one day, about 40 years old, you say, "My God, I've arrived. I'm there." And you don't feel very different from what you always felt. And there's a slight let-down because you feel there's a hoax.

And there WAS a hoax. A dreadful hoax. They made you miss everything… by expectation. Look at the people who live to retire, who put those savings away. And then when they're 65, they don't have any energy left, they're more or less impotent, and they go and rot in a . . . "Senior Citizens Community".

Because we've simply cheated ourselves the whole way down the line. We thought of life by analogy with a journey, with a pilgrimage, which had a serious purpose at the end, the thing was to get to that end, "success" or whatever it is or maybe heaven, after you're dead. But we missed the point the whole way along. It was a musical thing and you were supposed to sing, or to dance, while the music was being played.