Tue, 27 Dec 2005

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the turning of the year

As I get older, I think I get more resistant to learning anything new, despite the fact that I know that I am currently in an extraordinarily maladaptive state.

I give up. Just let me lie here and rot for a little while. I'll figure everything out later.

But, as they say, time waits for no one, and I figure I've got to look back sometime.

You can't know where you're going if you don't know where you've come from.

It's soon time to make resolutions, to ring the new year, to start with a new slate, but I know myself too well. I've never managed to keep a resolution past January 31, and is futility really all that bad if you accept it for what it is?

Never before have I been caught in a horrible loop of "been there, done that." It is all too easy for me to look ahead and prognosticate that any changes that are bound to happen are also bound to be bad.

Is it really that healthy to always prepare for the worst? I am reminded of a particular passage from Survivor by Chuck Palahniuk (which I blogged about once upon a time.)

With my eyes closed, I ask if she knows how this will all turn out.
"Long-term or short-term?" she asks.
Both.
"Long-term," she says, "we're all going to die. Then our bodies will rot. No surprise there. Short-term, we're going to live happily ever after."
Really?
"Really," she says. "So don't sweat…. Can you just relax and let things happen?"
I ask, does she mean, like disasters, like pain, like misery? Can I just let all that happen?
"And Joy," she says, "and Serenity, and Happiness, and Contentment…. You don't have to control everything," she says. "You can't control everything."
But you can be ready for disaster….
"If you worry about disaster all the time, that's what you're going to get…."
The whole world is a disaster waiting to happen….
"No matter what happens," [she] says, "no matter what you do… it's the right thing."

And I think I've said this before, and it just continues to worry me: I can't feel a goddamn thing. I mean, I can sense misery and pain and suffering and hopelessness, but I don't think I can experience them anymore. Sure, it's a coping mechanism, but the sad fact of the matter is that I can't seem to experience anything. Oh, sure, I've had momentary lapses of joy now and then, but you know that sort of contentment that gets you humming, makes you look forward to the next dawn? That, I don't know a damn thing about. That carefree, innocent glee that all kids at least are capable of. I don't remember the last time I felt that. Deep down inside, I know that once upon a time I did, but I really lost the habit of it. I've been worried about the future for so long, all I really know how to do is worry. About things that I have absolutely no control over.

The first step to dealing with tragedy is acceptance. But I think there's got to more than that. It's like watching your house burn down, or something. I mean, yeah, at some point you have to accept it. But what is it, what is that emotion that makes you determined to move on, to rebuild? That's what I'm missing. I've learned the trick of living with the ongoing tragedy of the universe, but I haven't picked up the technique of starting all over again with full vigor. We all know that all things go to shit eventually, but I feel like most of the human race is able to build anyway. Sure, some of these people are probably deluded or insane, but I think there is something wonderfully innately human in that—the ability to keep going, and not just survive, but excel, even in the face of horrible setbacks. I really don't know how to do that. Sure, I can keep going, but it's nothing more than short-term survival. The long-term is nothing but this bleak, featureless haze, of the same thing over and over again, death and decay, and the long black darkness of eternal sleep.

You know there's something wrong with you when you're only 29 years old and the only thing you really have to look forward to is death.

But I'm too jaded to think that I can turn things around in 2006. I mean, yeah, you've got to start out small. Tiny steps.

There's gotta be more to life than this, right?

00:10:10 27 Dec 2005 > /soul > permalink > 5 comments

Tue, 20 Dec 2005

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one step at a time (it's all about small, non-threatening things)

Probably around January, I'll have cleaned out of my apartment. Maybe. If I remain strong-willed and devoted. It's times like this that I wonder if I haven't got some sort of subtle brain damage. I've been reading Descartes' Error by Antonio R. Damasio, which deals with how, contrary to popular belief (and Vulcan culture), it is necessary to be emotional in order to make sane, rational decisions. He begins by pointing out certain brain-damaged individuals whose abilities to reason, to communicate, to manipulate abstract ideas, and to process information, are in fact intact, and yet they display the inability to navigate through normal life, often making monumental errors in judgement.

The interesting thing is that this hearkens back to my little soliloquy on executive brain dysfunction. I had also read The Executive Brain: Frontal Lobes and the Civilized Mind by Elkhonon Goldberg (which I've touched upon tangentially once upon a time) and times like this, I really feel like I should get an MRI. Or maybe treat myself empirically with amphetamines. (To the DEA agent who may be reading this entry: I'm totally kidding!)

I don't know. My brain is just serious mush right now.

20:09:26 20 Dec 2005 > /soul > permalink > 0 comments

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chaos

As I sit here in front of my computer in my underwear, unshowered, and unshaven, procrastinating about going to work, I stare at the detritus of my living room, with weeks-old mail strewn across the floor, and tangled up wires all over the place.

Times like this, I can't help but wonder: what the hell am I doing with my life?

And then I remember this: It is far too late for regret.


It's 53 degrees outside right now and there was a very recent time in my life when I would've classified this as a heat wave, what with it being December and all, but now that I've completely readjusted to sunny Southern California, all I really want to do is bury myself under my covers and wait until spring. I kind of wonder if seasonal affective disorder is simply a genetic anachronism from some mammalian ancestor that used to hibernate. Whatever it is, I've got it, and it sucks.


And why is it, that when I'm feeling really low, whatever the reason may be, I always find myself dwelling on the fact that I'm alone. Oh so very alone.

Ha.


It's time, meet me on the sunny road…

07:27:32 20 Dec 2005 > /soul > permalink > 2 comments

Sun, 18 Dec 2005

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dying days

burnt out, trampled, bruised and scratched up tattered and shredded into bits was it dark purpose, cruel design as the daylight waned and darkness usurped the land that I was made against my will to face the dying and the dead made to be Charon rowing the rickety boat across that lifeless river

I will remember their lifeless eyes the heart still beating, the lungs still drawing breath but the soul knew no more, trickled out, evaporated in that final agony that is wordless the only cry a weak whisper escaping from my lips in that bleak despair of those sterile rooms the darkness of bitter morning looming outside the windowpanes reminding me that we are, in the end, just lifeless meat

I have mastered the art of crushing hope stamping out the sparks of miracles to offer nothing more than a peaceful death (but it is as I have always known it the dying may suffer, but it is the living who must bear it) send sweet nepenthe dripping through your veins and it is I who must remember who will whisper your name in the dark quiet night in the silence before dreaming in the space between spaces

It is the weeping of the still-living that wound me thousands of tiny needles and knives and the dreams and hopes of what might be shredded and mangled by cold, hard science the mathematics of probability and Time's unstoppable arrow even the stars are torn asunder, obliterated into soul-sucking darkness given enough time

Those final breaths, hard, and labored, the body, unthinking, still aches to live but all I can promise is unending sleep

It is in this quiet moment the cold silence of dark winter night hanging over me that I catalog the names of the dead whisper their names like a litany and pray for dreamless sleep.

21:46:03 18 Dec 2005 > /poetry > permalink > 0 comments

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emiliana torrini "sunny road"

I think I have a thing for Icelandic women. I stumbled upon the single "Sunny Road" by Emiliana Torrini I think somewhere on the iTunes Music Store. The album it's on is "Fisherman's Woman" which juxtaposes her sweet gentle voice with pretty acoustic guitar accompaniment. I don't know why, but it makes me think of the California coast, and light rain.

21:08:54 18 Dec 2005 > /playlist > permalink > 3 comments

Sat, 12 Nov 2005

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low score

found on eye.8.infiniti

clearly my life is a goddamn mess.

This Is My Life, Rated
Life: 2.9
Mind: 2.8
Body: 2.5
Spirit: 4.2
Friends/Family: 2.7
Love: 0
Finance: 2.9
Take the Rate My Life Quiz

although, as Charles Bukowski once said, "if you don't have much soul left and you know it, you still got soul."

22:32:34 12 Nov 2005 > /blog-bites/quizilla > permalink > 7 comments

Thu, 10 Nov 2005

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525,600 minutes

The heart may freeze or it can burn The pain will ease if I can learn There is no future There is no past I live this moment as my last There's only us There's only this Forget regret Or life is yours to miss No other road No other way No day but today

does time really move this fast, like a flickering flame, slow and steady when it's first lit, then burning harsh and smoky as the tallow softens and melts, years dripping downward like spent wax, faster and faster until the flame at last flickers out?

it is approaching 9 years since those dark and dreary days when I lay trapped in my self-wrought impregnable prison of fear, making decisions and succumbing to indecisions that have irrevocably altered the arc of my destiny, and just a snippet of a song from good old B flings me back to older realities just as well as a fully working time machine would.

Without you, the ground thaws, the rain falls, the grass grows.
Without you, the seeds root, the flowers bloom, the children play.
The stars gleam, the poets dream, the eagles fly, without you.
The earth turns, the sun burns, but I die, without you.
Without you, the stars roar, the breeze warms, the girl smiles, the cloud moves.
Without you, the tides change, the boys run, the oceans crash. The crowds roar, the days soar, the babies cry, without you.
The moon glows, the river flows, but I die, without you.

I've been trying to wrap myself in the darkness of autumn, but looking back, I see that this is the time when things, great and small, tend to fall apart, from my minor pathetic tragedies to the horror of the fall of great nations.

seeing death face-to-face day-in and day-out, dealing with her like a familiar customer, I have been swiftly punished with harsh guilt for my failures, and taunted with false hope to remind me of the futility of my Art. I have been forced to accept the tenous fragility of life, how easily the fire of life can be smothered and snuffed out. And I can't help but think about that one final autumn in the not too distant future that won't have spring to follow it.

23:34:02 10 Nov 2005 > /soul > permalink > 0 comments

Sun, 30 Oct 2005

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too early

so I forgot that we switch back to Standard Time today, therefore waking up an hour too early, which is, I suppose, not as bad as waking up an hour late. and now for some reason my stomach is tied up in knots.

I really think that I'm pretty much losing my mind.

yesterday I fell asleep right after work, which is a shame, because I actually got out around 3:30 pm (I could've gotten out earlier, but I was slacking off too much at work) and the sun was still shining pretty bright. of course, it was a saturday, and since I'm essentially anthrophobic, it was doubtful that I would use it to good purpose anyway.

anyway, I woke up feeling all depressed for some reason. it's not like I had a bad dream or anything. I mean, sure, I was kind of bummed that I had to work the entire weekend, but this is not anything entirely new. I suppose I should be happy that I even get days off. but that wasn't it.

sure, there's the whole existential angst thing, the whole "I'm doomed to die all alone" meme that I've been obsessing with as of late. but I don't think it was really any of that crap.

mostly, I think that I certifiably have an Axis I diagnosis. I have lately been not wanting to do much except go to work, eat, and sleep, and sometimes not even that. unopened mail has been piling up again, and my apartment is in worse disarray than usual. dirty dishes have also been piling up, and it has been a supreme effort to throw away the garbage.

but I managed to extricate myself from this hellhole known as my apartment and sauntered on down to the nearby Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf, had myself a dulce de leche latte, then moseyed on over to the also nearby Borders.

once upon a time, I had dreamed of becoming a writer.

ah yes.

now don't get me wrong. I really like what I'm doing now. I like taking care of people, and I like teaching them about health matters and how to manage them.

but there's always that feeling—I suppose it is merely greed—that I wish that I could do both. I almost (but not quite) wish that I could do both things half-assed rather than do one thing well and the other thing not at all. but here we are.

the thought is that soon enough, all this madness will end. In three years, I will (in theory) not be working 80-100 hours a week anymore, I'll have time to actually have a life. I guess the thing that freaks me out a little is that by then I'll be 32, just one year younger than when Jesus Christ was crucified, and what I'd really like to do is have a life now, while I'm still nominally in my very late and waning 20's.

I don't know. days like this, I'm afraid that twenty or thirty years from now, I'll look back at my life, at all the suffering, all the loneliness, all the dark despair that I've put myself through, and I'll wonder, was it worth it? and that answer will be, no, but there's nothing you can do about it now. hell, why wait twenty or thirty years, sometimes I think that now.

and it isn't so much that I don't like where I am now. what I regret, and what I resent, is what I had to let go in order to get here.

although "letting go" is perhaps too optimistic a term to use in reference to that which I never had. but I digress.

at the least, my depressive mood lifted a little bit.

still, what worries me is that despite the fact that I will no longer have to endure sub-freezing temperatures, I have a feeling that this is still going to be one long, hard, cold, miserable winter.

06:02:38 30 Oct 2005 > /soul > permalink > 2 comments

Tue, 25 Oct 2005

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losing touch

maybe it will get better when I'm done with this ridiculous lifestyle of working, on average, 80 hours a week (and sometimes even more than that) despite getting paid essentially peanuts. but, knowing how my life has gone so far, I'm not going to hold my breath.

I found it amusing that dear S thought she should try to bolster my courage and encourage me to meet women. She serendipitously reiterated BD's mantra of mathematics, which is, if you get rejected enough times, inevitably, at some point, you are going to succeed. It is at once a very optimistic and yet very fatalistic belief system.

now, never mind the fact that I am hypersensitive to rejection. maybe I don't really quite try. it's more like I blunder into situations. this is, after all, how I got together with N all those years ago. I suppose that the words are not enough. instead I need to suffer and bleed to convince people that I really want and need them. and, sadly, I can't do it any more. at the first sign of pain, I stop and give up. which explains my massive failure rate, but I don't quite understand why it doesn't seem like it's quite that painful for everyone else.

I still reminesce about that time I told A that I really like her, but then left it at that, which I guess she was OK with, which is, I suppose, better than her saying flat out, no way. it is bizarre how a relationship that never was haunts me perhaps even more than when N cheated on me and slept with some other guy. I think my inability to show A how much she meant to me, how much I wanted her to be part of my life, just epitomizes my lack of agency in this world. thinking back to that time, I realize how helpless I am with trying to get my life going in the direction I want it to go in. Instead, I am doomed to tread paths that have already been laid out for me, and no matter how much I resist, I get inexorably pushed down these roads that people long dead have already paved for me.

I think, also, that it is funny that I also told S how I felt about her, and she discouraged me quite ardently. I think we might remain pretty good friends, but she will be married some time soon, and I'm just going to hang out in the shadows, watching other people be happy.

it isn't quite that I don't try. it's just that my attempts really, really suck.

witness the latest minor disaster. it isn't necessarily the end of the world, that I woman I am interested in fails to call me back. one out of many, I suppose. but I don't know if I can really do this mathematics thing. I can't really see myself doing this more than four or five more times without it hurting really badly, and I figure the number of times I need to try are more in the hundreds range—or worse.

heh. if I didn't hate the current Pope so much, I should just get it over with and join the seminary.


it was interesting the choice of songs my iPod decided to play on the way to Tuesday night dinner with J and friends and back again:

  1. "You're the Only One for Me" by Allure
  2. "It Might Be You" by Roberta Flack
  3. "Everything" by Material Issue
  4. "Little Heaven" by Toad the Wet Sprocket
  5. "High and Dry" (cover of Radiohead) by Mike Moore

The first song reminds me of the time my sister tried to OD on Tylenol, after which I visited her for the first time at UCSD. The second song makes me think of all those times singing this song on my dad's laser disc karaoke machine. The third song was mine and N's song, which, ironically was covered by Fuse around the time I was hanging out a lot with S. The fourth song reminds me of my elementary school—this was one of the end title songs for the "Buffy the Vampire Slayer" movie starring Kristy Swanson, Luke Perry, and Paul Reubens A.K.A. Peewee Herman, and they shot some of the scenes near my elementary school. The fifth song is one of my favorite Radiohead songs, and sort of embodies my plainitive demand from the universe at large. So far the universe doesn't seem to give a damn.

I don't know. I think I'll just listen to whatever iTunes serves up to me right now. Like I've managed before, there is something about music that just makes me feel better, even if nothing else seems to be going right.

23:45:42 25 Oct 2005 > /soul > permalink > 5 comments

Mon, 24 Oct 2005

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chrono trigger

for some reason, I am fantasizing about time travel right now. sometimes when I grow weary of my life, I wonder if I somehow missed an important flash point early in my life. you know, like there was a decision I was supposed to make, but I didn't make it.

sometimes I feel like I am seriously going the wrong way.

but I think of a super nintendo game that me, my brother, and my sister would continuously play way back when called "chrono trigger". the premise of the game is that the heroes have to travel across time to make certain things happen and prevent other things from happening so that the world doesn't get destroyed. on the way the heroes are faced with the bleak hopelessness of the future and the dark desolation of the past. an ancient, magical utopia is destroyed, like all other empires, by mad, ruthless power grabs and greed, and the future is annihilated by nuclear war, the planet left to rot like a hollowed out carcass, a world not dissimilar from the world of mad max and the thunderdome, or the horrific future envisioned similarly by both "The Terminator" and the "The Matrix." and the Enemy that must be defeated is revealed to be a thing that feeds on despair and destruction, and only an awful sacrifice by the main character saves everything.

not that I hallucinate that I'm going to save the world or anything.

I just wonder if I was supposed to go in a completely different direction. I kind of regret that a lot of my life has been spent in acts of wanton self-destruction, and as I start cresting the hill known as Life, I don't particularly look forwards to the ride down.

there is a subplot in the game about a man who gets torn out of his own proper time and into the hellish future, where he lives the rest of his days all by himself trying to build a time machine so that he can get back to his proper time. in the end, he fails, and dies, and days like this I sort of feel like that guy. I sometimes feel that my chances for happiness were somewhere in the distant past, if only I had made the right decisions instead of plunging headlong into the abyss, where I am alone and forsaken, and the worst thing about it is that it's all my fault.

of course, time travel makes me also think of John Titor. I had a dream about him once. I dreamt that I had successfully discovered the secret to time travel and that on the way to the future, I passed him as he made his way to the past.

my fantasy is kind of ridiculous, though. if I really did discover time travel, would I, instead of using that kind of power for the Good of Humanity™, use it instead to fulfill my own petty desires? I'm not sure I would even screw with Fate that much. after all, we are all here by the coalescensce of a trillion billion million different decisions and indecisions stretching all the way back to the big bang, and for me to screw with even one of these choices would mean not only possibly the difference between life and death, but the difference between existence and non-existence.

in the end, I content myself with the Many Worlds interpretation of quantum mechanics (on which the cult classic series "Sliders" is based.) Even if in this world I am doomed to loneliness, there is probably at least one or two worlds where I found fulfillment and happiness. all I want to be able to do is to be able to see what those worlds are like, to know that even if my future is desolate, that maybe it could've been all right if I had just made the right decisions in the past.

ah, whatever. I don't know why I imagine that it's all down hill from here. although I'm getting closer to it, I'm not quite half way through this life quite yet. surely there's still time for a change. or not.

23:23:24 24 Oct 2005 > /soul > permalink > 3 comments

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autumn

the days are getting short now, and I never really understood how people can claim Southern California doesn't have seasons. (I think I've waxed philosophically about this before, but anyway.) sure it doesn't get mind and limb numbingly cold, but there is still a significant, palpable change in the air.

I always seem to become extra-reflective during the autumn. (as if I weren't extra-reflective already.) my mind gets drawn deep into memory, as I wonder at my folly, at my mistakes and missed chances in autumns past.

I can't get to sleep. it's fucking 2am.

and whatever it was that I wanted to say seems to have slipped my mind. ah well. forget it.

02:12:30 24 Oct 2005 > /soul > permalink > 2 comments

Fri, 21 Oct 2005

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how low are your sex standards?

Is this really any surprise at all?

Up for anything
You had sex with 17 out of 21!
You are up for anything. You demonstrate almost no scruples when choosing women, and you are willing to sleep with many of the women that most ignore. Of the 21 women I showed you, you rejected at most 4, meaning you you'd jump in the sack with just about anyone.

Please remember, I'm making no claims about your dating interests! You can safely separate your sexual and romantic desires, which is impressive. Ultimately you would have sex with many women you wouldn't date.

It is likely that in your everyday life you see plenty of girls you'd jump at the chance to jump. Have you ever been with a hooker? If not, it's a real possibility.

Test results are categorized into 8 levels of pickiness, as the graph to the right shows. You are the #7, seventh most critical, test taker.

You are way more forgiving of physical flaws than others. Also, you are very likely to dig sloppy, crazy, nasty women.




My test tracked 1 variable How you compared to other people your age and gender:
free online datingfree online dating
You scored higher than 81% on tolerance
Link: The How Low Are Your Sex Standards Test written by chicken_pot_pie on Ok Cupid, home of the 32-Type Dating Test

21:25:44 21 Oct 2005 > /blog-bites/quizilla > permalink > 8 comments

Sat, 15 Oct 2005

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unattainable

why do I dream of things that cannot possibly ever happen? I know, I know. BD explained to me once in a drunken and blunted state: I seek the unattainable because it's safe. There is no fear of failure when you already know you are going to fail.

I'm not talking about unattainable as in "there's no way she'd ever be attracted to a fat slob like me, no way she'd ever fall for a big loser like me." I'm talking about unattainable as in "she's been with this guy for like nearly a decade, they're practically married," like utterly, damnably hopelessly unattainable.

and yet still I dream.

01:58:29 15 Oct 2005 > /soul > permalink > 5 comments

Wed, 12 Oct 2005

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voiceless

so it seems that I have lost my voice. I woke up this morning and didn't realize that I didn't have one until I went to buy coffee. Huh. I guess that's what is unique about living alone (this is the first time I've ever done it) I can go for nearly three hours without having to utter a word to anyone. Even in the household where I hated one of my roommates, this wasn't really possible.

it is, I suppose, a little sad and pathetic, but, hey, we're not going to dwell on that today.

all in all it's been one kind-of fucked up week. Depressingly, I again had to stand by while a little kid died. I had traded a Saturday call (because I was deathly ill) and this past weekend I had to pay it back.

now I realize I can be disgustingly blase about death. It is truly a defense mechanism. I made it through the night by not thinking about it, even as I wrote orders to increase the morphine and start Ativan, and OK'ed not getting labs and even not getting vital signs. I even slept for a good three hours. But then I got up, wrote 8 progress notes, when the attending let me go home, and thanked me for taking care of the little kid who was dying, and I know I really didn't do too much. The aura of depression was palpable in the unit, and I walked out of there sadly, and by the time I made it to the cafeteria, it hit me.

I realize that my life has been stripped bare of emotion for a long time now. I don't remember the last time I cried, I mean, really cried. And, yeah, it's all a defense mechanism, because I'd probably be crying continuously about how fucked up this world is. But that's all I really wanted to do, with all the busywork done, and all that was left to me was to go home with another little bundle of sorrow tied to my heart. Even then I wouldn't let myself do it. The tears came, but I squeezed them back. How else are we supposed to survive this stupid life otherwise?

I find myself thinking about that little kid for a little bit every day now. I didn't even really know him or his family. I met them for like 15 minutes, and I blundered into their room with all the grace of a blind, ataxic elephant. And here's this kid who can't breathe, who is suffocating because of malignancy, and there's nothing I can do about it but stare like a stupid oaf. There's nothing I can tell this family that has suffered horrendously. I'm completely useless.

I can't even bear to think about that kid's family. It tears at the flesh of my heart. It's physical pain, and it's not even my own pain. I just can't imagine it. It sucks. That's as articulate as I'm going to get about it.

But yeah. I guess I had to vent that. It sucks not having anyone to talk to about it.

So, yeah, this is why I say with regards to a lot of things that it doesn't matter. Because if it did, then it would just hurt way too much, all the time.

17:32:00 12 Oct 2005 > /soul > permalink > 3 comments

Fri, 07 Oct 2005

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is it friday already?

the thing that sucks about my job is that for the most part I only get one day off every week. This means that, for the most part, Friday doesn't mean jackshit to me. Probably because I have just recently been let out of my cage and have actually been cavorting in the World Outside™, only to be penned back in again, I was acutely annoyed by how much fun the rest of the world seems to be having.


for sheer companionship and affection, you can't beat having a dog. the week I descended down into the Pit of Despair™, I had my sister's dog Pazzo as a constant companion. being that for the most part he is cooped up in my sister's apartment, she usually takes him out twice a day. this task devolved to me while I was in NYC. Man, sometimes I can't help but feel envy for the life of a dog. you don't have to worry about food or shelter, you can sleep all day, and the best most wonderful thing to look forward to is the daily walk.

Pazzo is rather well housebroken, and he exhibited supreme bowel and bladder control, to the point where he would whine in agony rather than soil himself. He would always remind me that it was time to go for a walk by headbutting my leg and trying to climb up me and claw at my face. So, at least, that was one thing that was fun, and which I miss.

When I got back to L.A., we tried to start walking our family dog Angel more regularly as well. Unfortunately, unlike Pazzo, Angel is extraordinarily antisocial. He has bitten people with little provocation (luckily he doesn't know how to rend and tear flesh—it's like his teeth don't work properly) The other thing is that, unlike Astoria, where my mom and dad live is on a decent sized hill. It makes for one good workout, but it is difficult to convince me out of my lazy stupor to go.

I've thought of getting a dog, but I realize that I wouldn't have the time, energy, or patience to housebreak him. And, if the condition of my potted plants upon my return to San Diego are any harbinger, I would probably end up guilty of canicide.


fuck, I have to work tomorrow.

23:33:07 7 Oct 2005 > /soul > permalink > 1 comments

Thu, 29 Sep 2005

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sympathy for the damned

So I actually made it out today and went to the Strand, where I immediately purchased way too many books. One of them is a book I've frequently stopped at and even flipped through but never before felt compelled to purchase. It is called The Noonday Demon by Andrew Solomon, and the very first paragraph sort of captured how I've been feeling the past few days:

Depression is the flaw in love. To be creatures who love, we must be creatures who can despair at what we lose, and depression is the mechanism of that despair. When it comes, it degrades one's self and ultimately eclipses the capacity to give or receive affection. It is the aloneness within us made manifest, and it destroys not only connection to others but also the ability to be peacefully alone with oneself. Love, though it is no prophylactic against depression, is what cushions the mind and protects it from itself. Medications and psychotherapy can renew that protection, making it easier to love and be loved, and that is why they work. In good spirits, some love themselves and some love others and some love work and some love God: any of these passions can furnish that vital sense of purpose that is the opposite of depression. Love forsakes us from time to time, and we forsake love. In depression, the meaninglessness of every enterprise and every emotion, the meaninglessness of life itself, becomes self-evident. The only feeling left in this loveless state is insignificance.

It's sad and tiring to realize how easy it is for me to slip into this state, when I don't have the structure of the work day to keep my mind occupied, despite taking medications. And I suppose that's the flaw. I'm basically just hanging on, killing time, getting by. Subsistence. Hence, the lack of growth.

Another part of me believes I simply can't communicate what I feel to anyone who has never been depressed before, which is, I suppose, inevitably true. I just feel like I've been staring at this hole in the Universe for a greater part of my life. I haven't yet fallen in, but I'm definitely in a decaying orbit. And, sure, I can make some things still happen in my life. I have somehow managed despite sometimes crippling bouts of this malady to obtain an advanced degree in something, and in some ways even managed to excel in the field. Miraculously, despite many hiccups, stutters, stumbles, and outright falls, I've somehow held my shit together long enough to achieve what can perhaps be objectively described as a modicum of success. But looking at it from a distance, it's obvious that in some ways, I'm just breaking even. What is easy for many, perhaps a majority, of people is often a grueling task for me. Someone who possessed my inborn talents but who lacked my propensity for melancholy might have become Someone Great. Someone who might have already changed the world for the better. Me, I'm just doing what I can to keep getting sucked into that Utter Darkness, to keep my flickering candle flame lit.

I suppose the experience that I have no capacity in communicating to others is the process of surviving this state. In some ways, I feel like I've endured a mental anguish that most people are lucky enough to not have to ponder. As Solomon alludes to in the above paragraph, non-depressed people typically don't ponder their own staggering insignificance to the universe. Me, I've stared that fucker in the face night after night, until the notion that everything I do means nothing has been burned into my soul. So every fleeting emotion, every measure of excitement, every infatuation, sort of just fizzles out, because in the back of my head is the belief that nothing permanent is going to come of it. It's like I've been trapped in Douglas Adams' Total Perspective Vortex[1][2] from The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy and much to my dismay, my brain didn't get liquified to goo, and I'm forced to live with this knowledge for the rest of my life.

At this point, it's no longer a matter of ignoring this thoughtstream, of forgetting about it. At this point, I would have to be brainwashed. Re-educated. Made to believe that what I do is not meaningless. I mean, right now, intellectually, I know that's true. That everything I do has some effect on the universe, as infinitesimal as that effect may be. And regardless, there is the ethical beauty of just tending the garden—the task itself is its own reward. As Gandhi put it, "Whatever you do is insignificant, but it is important that you do it." But it always rings hollow. I do take my job seriously and somehow find it within me to sincerely give hope and comfort to others, but for some reason, I can't get my advice to apply to myself.

I've long realized that it is one thing to know, and another thing to understand. And yet again, it is completely another thing to believe. I know that what I am putting myself through is a destructive process that I don't need to go through. I think I even understand what I have to do to get out of here. But the thing that is holding me back, the thing that is sucking me down into the black hole is that I can't for the life of me get myself to believe any of these things.

17:50:48 29 Sep 2005 > /soul > permalink > 3 comments

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reality continues to ruin my life

I don't know what to say. Is it the weather? Am I simply having a premature episode of seasonal affective disorder?

I remember last year when I was on vacation, I was kind of dreading having to go back to work. Now granted, this was probably because I was new to everything, and didn't know half of what I was doing, but, really, it's not like I'm so much smarter now. I think that one of the maladaptive rationalizations I've learned is that confidence isn't so much a matter of being able to do things right, but more of a matter of not giving a shit. It isn't so much that you get better at things—it's simply because you care less.

But, yeah, another pathological aspect of my psyche today is that I almost can't wait to get back to work. What kind of sick fuck would rather be at work than on vacation?

The main problem is that I certainly have way too much time to think, and all the paths I know always seem to lead me to deep, dark places full of despair, with no apparent way out. I think I succeeded in the strategy of not-thinking for the past few months, what with family crises and being busy with work, but this break has got me thinking that maybe this isn't such a great strategy, since everything I hadn't been thinking about has suddenly reared its ugly head in my face with at least twice as much soul-sucking strength.

I'd like to say that I'm OK, that, sure, there are lots of things I want from the world right now, but I just have to be patient and tend my garden, and as time marches on, I'll discover the difference between what is important and what is not. But on deeper inspection, it becomes clear that I am all sorts of fucked in the head, and the notion of becoming even remotely unfucked is somewhat laughable, and I suppose the noble thing to do is to try not to drag down too many people into my whirling vortex of decrepitude.

Right now I think it is appropriate to quote Tyler Durden: "Self-improvement is masturbation. Now, self-destruction…."

06:52:32 29 Sep 2005 > /soul > permalink > 0 comments

Wed, 28 Sep 2005

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approximating sanity

a summary of the rather depressing conversation I had with BD the other day:

so he indicts me for having a rather boring and empty life, which I can only agree with. that's just how it is. the thing that is troubling is that I really don't have the wherewithal to do anything about it. now I know that no one is going to rescue me from this downward, toilet-bowl-flushing-like spiral, so as far as I can extrapolate into the future, I'm just pretty screwed.

sure, it's a defense mechanism. because I'm pretty much done with dealing with rejection, having had extensive experience with the process. so I've pretty much decided that I'd rather not meet any new people. solves a good percentage of my problems with dealing with humanity. my rationalization is that I'm barely able to keep up with the people I already know anyway.

but they say no man is an island, and I know deep down this is pretty pathological. I guess I try to cope by trying not to care, by detaching myself from the situation. so if someone doesn't want to hang out or talk to me, oh well, such is life. it's not like I'm not usually busy anyway.

so BD hopes that things will be different in 5 years. for one thing, he's sick of hearing me tell him the same old shit. definitely in terms of my emotional growth, I haven't changed for the better in the past 5-7 years. in 5-10 years, he anticipates embarking on what CB once called the hetero-normative consumer pathway—the American Dream, the lifestyle that includes 3 bedrooms, 2 bath, a 2 car garage, and 2.5 kids. ah, married with children. he'll be telling me about the not-sleeping-because-the-kid-keeps-crying, the dirty diapers, the teething, and all the stuff that I'm bizarrely familiar due to my job, but which I don't really anticipate being able to put into practice in my own private life. now I'm not one to call anything impossible, but I wouldn't exactly bet my life savings on the possibility of being in a similar position in 5-10 years. (Lord have mercy on my convoluted sentences.)

the reality is that I know that this can't possibly continue on for that much longer. realistically, something drastic is going to have to change, or I'm probably going to be dead. sucks, and I hate to be alarming, but I can't envision much else happening in the long-term future.

21:42:08 28 Sep 2005 > /soul > permalink > 3 comments

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waste

so I ended up not doing anything today. I was another of those days where I wonder how I may have offended any deities or if I was an evil bastard in a past life. it didn't help that I didn't sleep very well last night (although, likely, that's part of the reason why today was such a waste.) I moped around all depressed for no rational reason, although I did get out to walk my sister's dog. I wasn't able to find replacement razors for my Mach 3, so I just said screw it and decided to get another razor. after shaving off nearly a week's worth of beard growth, I thought I was finally ready to head out to the city, around 4:30pm. then I couldn't find my 7-day subway card. after much cursing and frantic searching, I gave up and decided to shell out some cash. what made me finally surrender was that my iPod battery gave out. it was just not meant to be.

I don't know. I suppose one of these days, perhaps my temper will flare and I'll be insane enough to not accept failure, and rail against probability even if it kills me. Times like this, my thoughts stray to the Battle of Maldon.

20:43:38 28 Sep 2005 > /soul > permalink > 2 comments

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nothing meaningful or constructive

AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH!

OK. I feel a little better now.

11:18:48 28 Sep 2005 > /soul > permalink > 0 comments

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reeling

my tarot card reading was rather ominous today. basically the gist of it was that everything is fucked up in your life and will continue to be so in foreseeable future, and that the only recourse is to go with the flow. the creepy thing is that my horoscope for today basically said the same thing—that despite things failing to go my way, there's no use getting pissed off about it, and that I should just roll with the punches.

great.

if I wasn't certain before, I'm pretty goddamn well certain now that there is something chemically wrong with me.

09:40:33 28 Sep 2005 > /soul > permalink > 0 comments

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insomnia (how i hate the night)

Now the world has gone to bed, Darkness won't engulf my head, I can see by infrared, How I hate the night.

Now I lay me down to sleep, Try to count electric sheep, Sweet dream wishes you can keep, How I hate the night.

—Marvin the Paranoid Android from The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy

so you know you're in trouble when you wake up and then immediately regret it, mostly because you must now consciously face some fact that you wish weren't true.

how is it that a recriminating conversation indicting me for emotional stagnation, coupled with a relationship status change on someone's profile on Friendster create sudden emotional turbulence, the likes of which I would hardly be able to foresee even just a week ago?

in other words, why can't anything ever stay simple?

but I recognize that it doesn't matter. or, more precisely, it does matter right now, but since it won't kill me (I'm pretty sure), in the big picture, it doesn't matter.

or some such solipsistic rationalization as such.

feh.

03:37:18 28 Sep 2005 > /soul > permalink > 2 comments

Tue, 27 Sep 2005

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i am so fucking doomed

so I watched 2046 with BD today at the Sunshine Theaters. it wasn't what I was expecting, but I found myself engrossed by it anyway. the protagonist is a writer who churns out smutty science fiction. the time frame is the late 1960s. the setting is hong kong. he is a seriously damaged character, basically unwilling to let himself get attached to anyone, and even when he realizes what he's doing, he just lets it tragically go on anyway, resigning himself to eternal loneliness.

or maybe I'm just projecting.

anyway, in Old English, doom didn't have the negative connotation it does today. it was basically a synonym for fate, for destiny.

sometimes those are just cards you get dealt.

whatever happens, happens, even if it keeps happening fucking over and over again.

22:32:31 27 Sep 2005 > /soul > permalink > 0 comments

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nyc: revisiting the big city (continued)

in some ways, gotham has been on my consciousness for a slightly longer time than the windy city has. the first time I came out here was in January 1993, and from what I remember, it was not yet fully giulianified. me and others from my high school were only there for a night, I think, on an east coast college tour. I remember being cold, staying in a place infested with roaches, with holes in the walls where some guy on probably pcp decided to take out his aggression on the building. ah, those were the days.

the second time wasn't until 1997. this was when I became enamored with the irrational tangle of steel rail and electricity known as the new york city subway system. me and my family did the whole tourist thing—the empire state building, the statue of liberty, the world trade center. we even watched les miserables.

third was in 1999 while I was on the way to farmington, connecticut to interview for medical school. BD was living out in jersey city at the time. I got lost looking for the port authority and it was snowing. I remember wondering if I could actually die out there.

fourth was again in 1999, after I had made my move out to chicagoland. it was interesting to compare and contrast the two cities. JdG had just moved out there at the time, to Brooklyn Heights. BD had moved out to Astoria. I had an interesting adventure navigating the N and R at 3:30am coming out of Brooklyn. I finally emerged on the Queens side by the time the sun started coming out.

from that point on, I think I may have come out there pretty much every year. in June 2001, JdG graduated from the New School, and a bunch of us from college came out, mostly from Cali. I came back out in late July 2001 with BS, JT, and C. That was a lot of fun. it is somewhat eerie to think about that time, right before the WTC was destroyed.

seventh was in late June 2002. Me and Y decided to go on an insane 15 hour road trip from Chicagoland to NYC, leaving inexplicably at 12am, finally rolling across the GW Bridge around 3pm. BD was in Hoboken at that time. That trip, I think, set the tone for my lifestyle the rest of that academic year.

eighth was in late january-early february 2004, when I was interviewing at mt sinai for residency. I had flown in from chicago, where it was 2°F without windchill. I remember coming up from the newly reconstructed WTC subway station and catching sight of a temperature reading of 18°F and I remember rejoicing for how much warmer it was.

ninth was just last year, after my sister had moved out here for law school. she now lives in astoria. that trip was less eventful, spending most of my time trying to catch people in their spare moments, or hanging out at the museums. I really dug the Cloisters and am thinking of going back up there just for the peace and quiet.

so this is my tenth trip to this city that doesn't sleep, the city between two rivers. at least collectively over the past 8 years, I've probably been out here for a total of two months or maybe more. I still fantasize about moving out here some day, but it seems less and less likely. I am too in love with the eternal california sunshine and the desert. but, never say never, right? (even if I've just said never twice… anyway.)

08:07:50 27 Sep 2005 > /soul > permalink > 0 comments

Sun, 25 Sep 2005

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waking the sleeping dragon

so I guess the weather really does fuck me up pretty good. I've got to make it a point to move to an apartment that gets better sun exposure than where I live now. hopefully with air-conditioning, especially since direct sunlight will only heat the place up a bit.

but I didn't leave my hotel room until about 2pm today. I had my Chicago-style deep dish pizza at Lou Malnati's, and I decided not to go up to the Signature Lounge since the weather was so shitty.

so I let my solipsism get the best of me. as soon as I walk out onto the street, it started raining, and then quickly pouring. if I didn't know any better, I would take this to be a sign, a bad omen if you will. the grey sky really depresses the shit out of me. I doubt I would last very long at a latitude any farther north than Chi-town—I barely survived as it is, and not without probably lasting mental scarring, but what are you going to do, live and learn, I guess. in any case, once again, my decision to move back out to sunny southern california is reaffirmed.

I am still impressed at how coming back to a place can dredge up all these long-submerged thoughts and emotions. I mean, maybe it's just coincidence. it has, after all, been a while since I've had a chance to sit back and re-evaluate my life. I suppose the only true difference is that I'm a lot more resigned to my current lifestyle (or lack thereof.) Except for brief bursts of incapacitating depression and moments of excruciating sleep-deprived suffering, I really don't dwell too much on leaving for Tierra del Fuego or the Himalayas. it's entertaining, no doubt, but probably a little too fantastic for a reasonable Plan B™.

the cold hard truth is that I will be expected to continue to be sleep-deprived and angst-ridden for at least another three years, and, as people are wont to say, it's only going to get much worse before it starts getting better. Oh goody. the deception is the idea that somehow life after residency will be all peaches and cream, and yeah, I'm probably going to make more money, but most of that it going back to pay my debt to Satan the banks, and I'm definitely going to have to work my ass off to earn it. as far as I can tell, I really don't work that many hours more than a junior attending physician. (The only thing that will definitely be nice is that I won't have to sleep overnight in the hospital.) but this is, I suppose, a worry for another day. Hell. I'm on vacation.

I guess I'm just being wistful about not being able to rest on my laurels.

that and the stark realization that I'm an emotional cripple, and there's nothing I can do about it that won't involve lots of pain, suffering, tears, and sweat.

c'est la vie.

01:34:24 25 Sep 2005 > /soul > permalink > 0 comments

Fri, 23 Sep 2005

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trying to envisage my future

it is moderately distressing that every time I come home, my mom(!) bothers me about my love life (or more accurately, the lack thereof.) it is painfully obvious to me that she wants to be a grandmother rather soon, and it baffles me how this is supposed to transpire.

I don't know, call it rationalization, call it sophistry. whatever the case, a string of disasters has rather damaged my ability to want to pursue romantic relationships. call it avoidance, call it whatever pathology you want, but I have a feeling that this is more than a transient thing. you know how people can have strokes, but how some people just have neurological deficits for no more than a day (a transient ischemic attack, or TIA), others have it for a couple days or so (a reversible ischemic neurological deficit, or RIND), while others, it just continues forever and actually gets worse over time (a cerebrovascular accident, or CVA) I'm beginning to suspect that, as far as my romantic abilities is concerned, I've entered the end-stage. as far as I can tell, there is no rehabilitating this cynicism and fear. I've closed off all possibility, and whenever there is a faint glimmer of hope stirring somewhere in the corner of my mind, the vomit reflex kicks in, the way someone with leukemia tends to throw up every time they come to the hospital, even if they're not even going to get chemo.

in short: as far as finding true love, getting married, and having kids is concerned, I think I'm pretty much doomed. I've crossed myself off of Darwin's list.

Again, rationalization. Sophistry.

so it is that subconsciously I tend to linger in the friend zone. Instead of pursuing possiblities, I deliberately let them go. abandon all hope, all ye who enter here. what the fuck is the point?

so I don't really now why I bother. there is not enough alcohol in the world that would get me to jump off this doomed train of thought, at least not enough alcohol without outright killing me.

drunk? who me?

22:54:18 23 Sep 2005 > /soul > permalink > 0 comments

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memory lingers in the streets

in today's trivial minutiae: I am typing this on my brother's Toshiba Satellite, horrifically missing MacOS X. It's really just the little things. Like how I don't have to reboot the stupid computer every time I wake it from sleep because I can't get back onto the Internet. Like how I don't have any built-in Firewire ports and therefore can't charge my iPod (because, like the scatterbrain that I am, I left my stand-alone charger in San Diego.) I've had to sort of shoehorn a UNIX like system onto Windows XP (by installing Cygwin) feh. the spacebar is screwed up for some reason, and I have to really pound on it to make it type a space.

anyway. I wandered the streets around the Mag Mile today, and I couldn't help but reminisce about all the times I've done this, usually in misery or loneliness or both. for example, I started thinking about that time when S left me in the Friend Zone, her rejection burning in my chest like Drano, all the while listening to M trying to rationalize a way to forgive her ex despite the fact that he had likely fathered a child with someone else (all the while stabbing my heart with little pinpoint daggers. ah the joys of the Friend Zone™) and here I was wandering these empty streets under a grey, dreary sky (I can't even remember what month it was because there were so many grey, dreary days over the past five years) chain smoking cigarettes and imagining how my life was going to turn out, how I was probably going to alone for the rest of my life, and how every day was the same, this low-level of mediocre misery. not the incapacitating grief of full-blown major depressive disorder, to be certain, but certainly as annoying and as draining as a case of infectious mononucleosis.

and it's interesting how when you go back to places that you haven't been for a while, all of the sudden all those emotions you left dormant come up to bite you in the ass, or at least make you trip as you're trying to step onto the curb.

what is interesting (and not a little bit pathetic) is that nothing has really changed. I just have a lot less time to wallow in self-pity these days. I mean, yeah, as soon as I'm done with residency, the rest of my life pretty much looks like that black pit of despair that imagined that one gloomy day as I strode down Michigan Ave, burning cigarette in hand. it's not a little pathetic that the one bright spot of the exhausting work I'm doing is that at least there are attractive, intelligent women there who talk to me and give me smiles of recognition, this despite knowing that (1) it scarcely means anything, and my desperation is merely a symptom of being single for far too long and (2) relationships among colleagues have this tendency to become far too complicated and volatile.

so here I am on day 2 of my vacation, whiling the time away in my hotel room, typing about how sad and pathetic my life is. as usual. I don't know, like I said, I'd rather not think about it, because the future, frankly, looks horrifically bleak on a more global level, and currently, I am from at least a purely monetary point-of-view, worth more dead than alive (because if I die or am killed, the insurance on my loans will cover my debt.) while, certainly, I could theoretically start making money once I am done with this particular stage in my life, the thought of working for the next ten years merely to bail out this sinking ship known as my credit rating kind of leaves a nasty taste in my mouth, and it's times like these that I feel like picking up and moving to Argentina, or preferrably somewhere where I won't get extradited for defaulting on my debt, or maybe joining a remote monastery somewhere, but oh well, whatever. As they say, we'll burn that bridge when we get to it.

17:47:05 23 Sep 2005 > /soul > permalink > 0 comments

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chi-town revisited

so to be honest, I decided to come out here because of a girl. now M can't say I've never come out to visit.

but I was also intrigued to come back to this place, to see if anything has changed since a year and three months ago when I left this place, likely for good, except for times like this, perhaps.

I have discovered, much to my chagrin, that, without free plane fare and without leeching off of any of my friends, Chicago is an expensive place to visit.

I don't know if it's simply because I don't get out anymore—at all, but cruising down the Blue Line from O'hare after all the airport workers got off at Jefferson Park, I noticed that there were a lot of young people out. not that there's anything surprising with young people going out on a Thursday night (after all, everyone knows that the weekend starts on a Thursday) but, I don't know. I suppose it's just where I am in my life. All the people I hang with are either my age (circa 30) or older, and, sadly, most of the time, it is work-related. Man, I can't believe I am calling early 20 somethings "young people". Still, I'm kind of stuck on the notion that anyone younger than my little sister is pretty young. This despite my "baby sister" turning 24.

anyway, I realize I miss the big city. I miss the ability of being able to walk a couple of blocks from where I live and be able to find something interesting to do. I only actually lived in the city proper for 2 years (and out of that I spent nearly 6 months out of town) but I was in Chicagoland for 5 years total, and it's strange to not be able to think of this place as home, as much as I bitched and moaned about being stranded out in the Midwest.

although, I suppose that was the interesting thing. I fully recognize that growing up in Southern California separates you from reality de facto, simply by the fact that you have to get in your car to go anywhere. Hence, trapped in your little bubble universe travelling at 15 mph down the 405, you really don't get the same sort of city vibe. Mike Davis talks about the irony of artificial, Potemkin city centers dotting L.A.—Universal City Walk, Downtown Disney. Hell, that's what malls essentially are—prototype arcologies, privately owned pseudo-public spaces.

I dunno. I'm starting to leave stable orbit and head out into the vast blankness of outer space, but it gets me thinking about the so-called "culture war," which in some senses marks the divide between the people in the rural areas and suburban hell, and the people who live in the city proper. Sure, you can't ignore the notion of race when discussing this, but to focus on that alone is oversimplifying. The so-called "Sun Belt cities," of which L.A. is the prototype, and which easily includes San Diego, are really just hundreds of suburbs and private artificial developments that, after forming some critical mass, were amalgamated into these hellish places of big-box Walmartization and cookie-cutter tract housing with no true city center, no true central business district to speak of. in what may not be coincidence, these kinds of cities dot the landscape of the red states. I mean, the whole premise of suburban living is that is somehow approximates the wide-open spaces of the countryside and combines it with the consumer-convenience that civilization (i.e., city centers) traditionally provide. In my mind, it doesn't work. Decentralization and hodge-podge unregulated development simply lead to the stagnation of youth (since they don't have anything interesting to do or go to when they're not at school except for the mall), the obesification of American people (since you have to hop in your car to get anywhere, and no one walks—there aren't even any sidewalks sometimes), and widespread environmental destruction. There is also a sense that this disdain for natural ecology practiced by many developers leave unsuspecting suburbanites at the mercy of not-so-merciful Mother Nature. While New Orleans was destroyed, and Houston awaits the tender ministrations of Hurricane Rita, you can see every year how parts of Southern California routinely burn down (see most of San Diego County and the mountains in Ventura and San Bernardino Counties in the Autumn of 2003), and all those rapidly (and cheaply) built hillside developments tend to slide into the sea. (See Ventura County, Malibu, Laguna Hills.)

Not to say that the supremely centralized schema of urban development pioneered and well practiced by Chicago is the end-all, be-all. Chicago has had it's share of eco-disasters. After all, a year or so before I ever came here, nearly a thousand people died one summer from heat-related conditions. But there is something about living in a city like Chicago, or New York, or San Francisco, that is missing from places like San Diego. (Oh, sure, L.A. is the prototype of sprawl and decentralized private development, but in it's early history it developed more like traditional cities, and you can still see faint glimmerings of that when you wander around Downtown or K-Town.) The wackos on the religious right see the centralized city as fortresses of depravity and the libertarian disciples of Ayn Rand find the centralized city as the epitome of the welfare state, but it's hard for me to relate. After all, the centralized city is the basis of civilization—without the city-states of Mesopotamia, without urbanization along the Nile, the Indus, the Yangtze, et al, what would life be like?

10:22:47 23 Sep 2005 > /soul > permalink > 2 comments

Tue, 13 Sep 2005

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29

Uugh. Hard drive crashes. Very sucky. My iBook lies on a Apple-certified repairer's workbench. The hard drive is actually no longer the problem, since I successfully tore open the plastic case, unscrewed 30-40 screws, popped off the aluminum shielding, took out the clattering 40 GB factory-installed hard drive, and popped in a fresh 100 GB 2.5" hard drive from (you guessed it) Fry's Electronics. The iBook actually works OK. The problem is that (1) I've managed to render the CD-RW non-functional and (2) the latch has snapped off, so that the laptop fails to close. I won't even mention the lack of audio. I had accidentally torn out the wires that connect to the built-in speakers. (I had also accidentally torn out the wires that connect to the power switch.) I managed to fix the power switch, but since I didn't want to go screwing around trying to figure out which wire was live and which wire was ground, I just remnants to the inside of the case and let it be. That's what external speakers are for, anyway.

In any case. What did I do today, one more year closer to that notable epoch, that dreaded age? My sister thinks I'm insane for thinking a year ahead (and I probably am) but I tell her, no one cares about turning 29. the only reason anyone cares about turning 29 is that it's one year closer to 30.

Not that 30 necessarily has any significance personally. Sure, society at large seems to make a big deal of it, but in reality, I find myself using 32 as a rough guide, the age at which my father married my mother. Then there is 33, the age at which Jesus Christ was crucified. And then finally there is 36, which is currently the half-way point if you subscribe to the putative life expectancy of an American human male, which is 72. Of course, since I'm a person-of-color, that is probably lower than that, and because I'm overweight and borderline hypertensive, probably even lower than that.

Ah well, I'd rather die young anyway.

In any case, all I did today was turn in my poor battered iBook for attempted resuscitation, then got sucked into the vortex known as Target. I now have two unassembled fusion maple file cabinets sitting in my living room. I then went to Fry's because I felt a little antsy not having at least two working computers in my apartment, but I managed to stave off temptation and actually left that godforsaken hellhole empty-handed.

After that, I went into a bit of decline…

I did manage to tame a few meters of the unwieldy wires traversing my apartment. Right now, it looks like my front door is booby-trapped, what with the thick ribbon of wires running up and down the siding. There are eleven different-colored cables, and it is quite aesthetically displeasing to look at, but I can't figure out an alternative. I need a Feng Shui expert's opinion on how to run my multitude of cables through my apartment. In any case, the decreased amount of entropy in my apartment is actually almost palpable.

Definitely not my worst birthday, though. People called, I chatted and caught up, and I hung out with a few folks for a little while. I've decided that my worst birthday is probably when I turned 23 (nobody loves you when you're 23) and I was all by myself stranded a good couple thousand miles or so from anyone who gave a shit about my existence, and I managed to miss everyone's phone call, and I didn't talk to anybody, and all I did was cower in my apartment, completely overwhelmed by being marooned out in the Midwest.

Heh, this is the first birthday in a while where I haven't been delirious and/or drunk. (Last year I didn't even blog my birthday because I was on-call, and while I wasn't drunk, I was certainly delirious, not to mention the fact that I literally passed-out and I was offered IV rehydration.)

But, yeah, I'm in a contemplative mood now. The fall has never been my favorite season. It's always bittersweet. On one hand, September heralds my birthday, on the other hand, it means summer is over. And in the past few years that I've traipsed over this earth, September always seems to be the time when really bad things transpire, or when things I hope dearly for fail miserably.

Ah well. Good times for a change. See the luck I've had would make a good man turn bad. So please, please, please, let me, let me, let me, let me get what I want…. Heh. No cake, no candles, but I'm making wishes anyway.

23:29:10 13 Sep 2005 > /soul > permalink > 1 comments

Sun, 11 Sep 2005

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catch up

a lot of crazy, fucked up shit has gone on in the past three months since I fell off the blogosphere (and, remarkably, none of them have anything to do with unrequited love, for once.)

"Let me explain. No, there is too much. Let me sum up… — Iñigo Montoya from "The Princess Bride"

now if you've read this blog for any length of time whatsoever, I'm sure you're familiar with my penchant for melodrama, but, to put it in 25 words or less, a loved one had a near-fatal event, another relative is in the middle of a long drawn out messy divorce, another relative apparently deliberately failed to invite me and my family to a wedding, another relative is getting married rather soon.

In the midst of this all, I have stood at the bedside of two babies, watching them die, without me being able to do anything about it. My stupid dog bit someone. An American city has been destroyed, not so much by nature, but by sheer, brutal incompetence. And for the past couple of days I've probably sleep nearly forty hours. Yesterday I was literally awake for only 4 hours.

Ah, yes, let me vent my hypochondrism before I start believing my own paranoia. Yesterday it was about 12pm. I had gone to sleep around 8pm the evening before, so I was kind of hungry by now. I hopped into the car, crossed a few intersections, then realized that I really couldn't turn my head without wanting to puke.

Fun times.

So, my peripheral vision severely curtailed, somehow I manage to get a bite to eat and make it home without either crashing or puking. Thank God for better living through chemistry. I've been popping meclizine like breath mints, and while it keeps me horrifically sedated, at least I haven't spewed barf all over my apartment.

Naturally, I am forced to wonder, do I have viral meningitis (because it can't be bacterial, otherewise I'd be dead by now) or do I have a brain tumor? Realistically, I should wait until next Friday before I jump to conclusions and demand brain imaging. As it is now, I probably deserve a spinal tap, but I don't have much desire to have a three-and-a-half inch large bore needle shoved into my back. And, unless it's herpes (which is unlikely, because, again, I'd otherwise be dead by now), there really isn't anything I can do about viral meningitis except bitch and moan.

In the interim, I have zoomed through a few books by Tom Holt, a British fantasy writer whose prose has made me laugh out loud in quite inappropriate venues. So, yeah, it's funny. It's pap and filler half the time, but if you're a fantasy freak, how can you not love references to Gollum?

He does, however, pack a mean melancholy ending. One of the books I read Little People ends with the guy not getting the girl. Pretty much the same thing happens in In Your Dreams where the hero saves the girl who had once loved him, only now she doesn't because the bad guy (or, bad girl, to be exact) sucked it out of her brain.

It really is nice to know that someone else can relate.

But what else is there, really? My mom keeps bugging me about meeting someone and getting married, which really isn't anywhere on the agenda. It's at best around number 125, right up around brokering world peace and being one of the first Filipinos on the moon and/or Mars.

Anyway.

That's really the sum total of the past three months. I could go all out into deep meta-analysis and illustrate just how these events have completely warped my mind, but suffice it to say, if you thought I was weird before, you ain't seen nothing yet.

22:41:27 11 Sep 2005 > /soul > permalink > 5 comments

Sat, 23 Jul 2005

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questions for miss manners

now I'm no etiquette nazi—far from it—but the following wedding goings-on strike me as just a little gauche:

  1. A 32 year old man does not get his own invitation, but is instead lumped in with his parents—with whom he does not live with. Bizarrely, his sister and her husband are not invited at all.
  2. The bride-to-be's aunt is invited, but not her husband (and, no, they are not divorced.)
  3. Acquaintances are invited over close family members.
  4. Many people—including close family members—are invited to the bridal shower but not to the wedding or the reception.

opinions?

22:29:10 23 Jul 2005 > /soul > permalink > 2 comments

Mon, 04 Jul 2005

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singularity

compelled to distill some sense from the gnarled mass of thoughts like a tangled skein of yarn convoluted into incomprehension pathetically conflating this sensation, this phenomenon of not feeling any pain merging this concept with happiness

knowing it is hollow, a dessicated rind of delusion enclosing the horrific, intrinsic void

this nullifying nadir of my existence at the hopeless bottom of this gravity well embraced on all sides by impossibilities

what more, indeed, what more can a man ask for? as I stifle my desire, crush it like a spent, empty beer can against my forehead

because what is desire but suffering? but still knowing that stillness is death

can my soul ossify, perhaps? fossilized, smashed down by the weighing strata of fear fraught with failure I think: Atlas with the world on his back the doomed caryatid falled under her burden my soul crystallizing into dead, still carbon (you ever think of diamond as the sad remains of some creature? some sad creature as myself crushed down into something that sparkles at last)

times like this, I wish I could implode like a star shining bright my heart blazing like a hellacious furnace committing violent acts of creation raging with the tempest of a stellar wind illuminating the aching void of the cosmos

Oh.

I am but a man alone, and doomed to die and days like this I wonder if that is all I have left to look forward to.

23:56:07 4 Jul 2005 > /poetry > permalink > 0 comments

Sun, 03 Jul 2005

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strings of memory

(disclaimer: all that I understand of m-theory is what I have read from Brian Greene's excellent popular texts The Elegant Universe: Superstrings, Hidden Dimensions, and the Quest for the Ultimate Theory and The Fabric of the Cosmos: Space, Time, and the Texture of Reality. I am hampered by my inability to do calculations more complex than integration, and in reality don't really use much more than basic algebra these days.)

As I zoomed up the I-5 from San Diego (for some reason, having lost almost an entire day to sleep) I pondered how I was tracing a three-dimensional path through four-dimensional space-time (not even wanting to ponder the other six to seven dimensions postulated by m-theory) Realistically, I was really just thinking about a two-dimensional path through three-dimensions, considering only two of my own dimensions crisscrossing space-time, a la "Donnie Darko," where the titular protagonist can see an object smearing across space-time, being somewhat able to anticipate the near-future. And given the continuous nature of the threads that make up my individual atoms, I was wondering, why wouldn't it be possible to send signals to myself back in time?

Clearly I have been influenced by Kage Baker's The Life of the World to Come which is about a corporation called Dr. Zeus Inc. (AKA the Company) which has a time travel machine and uses it to retrieve treasures that were otherwise believed to be destroyed (for example, the books lost in the Great Library in Alexandria when they burned it and Hypatia, hitherto unknown works of Shakespeare, etc.) The one limitation is that they discover they cannot actually change the past—everything up to the 24th century is already known and thus preordained. (Why this changes in 2355 remains a mystery)

There are metaphysical theories that use M-theory as a springboard that posit that the phenomenon of consciousness occurs in the hidden, curled-up dimensions, thereby explaining the difficulty of tracing the exact neurons in the brain that should contain "the soul." But even without this hypothesis, if you imagine the (very flawed) analogy of a particle's wavefunction/worldline/fatemap as a continous thread tracing space-time, given the contiguous structure, why couldn't you send a signal along this thread, regardless of which direction it goes with regards to the arrow of entropy?

(What would it mean to be sending a signal through the time dimension only? Is it forbidden because of the inability to travel faster than c? )

Clearly I have not successfully done this yet. I don't have future thoughts intruding into my head as of yet, nor do I recall any instances of this occurring. Or maybe I could be wrong. Maybe that explains many of the extraordinarily vivid dreams I sometimes have—bits and pieces of the future getting garbled as I send them down my own wordline.

Would this explain my frequent sensations of deja vu? (Although I suppose Occam's Razor could simply point to psychosis, but is not a productive line of thinking.)

Could this explain my current sense of ennui? I have no desire to try anything these days.

Mostly, I am extraordinarily wary (and perhaps not a little paranoid) about falling in love.

Not that there's really any risk of that happening these days.

But seriously, the days have been passing with a sense of "been here, done that" that has been quite alarming. When you start losing your desire to eat, and your sex drive, that's got to be a sign that something is not right, and while I'm probably just clinically depressed, I like the exercise for my imagination.

I'll keep trying to fling memories back to my former self. Everything predestined, but with a very convincing, very harrowing illusion of free-will.

Maybe.

And that's the best we can do until all the qubits decohere.

21:14:17 3 Jul 2005 > /physics > permalink > 0 comments

Thu, 30 Jun 2005

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GNOME 2.10.1 build order

updates revised 28 June 2005

GNOME 2.10.1 was released on April 17

  1. glib 2.6.4
  2. atk 1.9.1
  3. pango 1.8.1
  4. gtk+ 2.6.7
  5. at-spi 1.6.3
  6. libart2 2.3.17
  7. libglade 2.5.1
  8. libgnomecanvas 2.10.2
  9. gail 1.8.3
  10. libIDL 0.8.5
  11. ORBit 2.12.2
  12. libbonobo 2.8.1
  13. libgnomecups 0.2
  14. libgnomeprint 2.10.3
  15. libgnomeprintui 2.10.2
  16. gconf 2.10.0
  17. gnome-mime-data-2.4.2
  18. howl 0.9.10
  19. gnome-vfs 2.10.1
  20. audiofile 0.2.6
  21. esound 0.2.35
  22. libgnome 2.10.0
  23. libbonoboui 2.8.1
  24. libgnomeui 2.10.0
  25. gnome-desktop 2.10.1

See Beyond Linux From Scratch for a more definitive build order

07:50:30 30 Jun 2005 > /computers/gnome > permalink > 0 comments

Mon, 27 Jun 2005

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i am a nerd

I am nerdier than 89% of all people. Are you nerdier? Click here to find out!

08:37:49 27 Jun 2005 > /blog-bites > permalink > 6 comments

Wed, 15 Jun 2005

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the future is now

As I waxed speculatively the other day about the development of a topographic symbiosis between the virtual and the real, apparently I've missed the boat because it's already here.

04:44:28 15 Jun 2005 > /unrealcity > permalink > 3 comments

Wed, 08 Jun 2005

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radiohead "creep (acoustic)"

Interesting flash animation set to the melancholy strains of Thom Yorke.

19:08:04 8 Jun 2005 > /playlist > permalink > 3 comments

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matrical metaspace

I skurffed a random essay through Blogdex about Los Angeles and the way it is depicted in various media. The author in particular talks about the abstracted representation of Los Angeles in Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas and how strange it is to have been to a real place and find it recreated in a video game. I imagine the emotional impact is quite different than if one had grown up in L.A., where one becomes naturally trained to appreciate the gradations between "real-real," "fake-real," "real-fake," and "fake-fake." (Or maybe it's just me.) I tend to assume that the rest of the world tends to simply dichotomize experiences between "real" and "fake," since that seems to be the most useful distinction.

Anyway, it got me imagining a merger between geocaching and virtual reality, where, in cyberspace, there is a near 1:1 construct of the real world, where your movements in the real world are completely mirrored by the movements of your avatar in the Matrix-like world. For example, say I'm going down Hollywood Boulevard in the real world. Say that once I got to the intersection of Hollywood and Highland, I decide to log in to cyberspace. In cyberspace, I'll still be at the intersection of Hollywood and Highland, but instead of the monstrous megamall that stands at that intersection, there is instead, oh, a space elevator. Or some other structure that is easy to program in cyberspace but essentially impossible to create in the real world. So you would have these two symbiotic paradigms: the real world, and a meta digital world, which would for the most part remain identical except for some magnificent modifications.

18:43:10 8 Jun 2005 > /unrealcity > permalink > 3 comments

Wed, 01 Jun 2005

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the killers "mr. brightside"

but it's just the price I pay Destiny is calling me open up my eager eyes…

the chordal and rhythmic structure of this song makes me think of Beethoven's 9th Symphony.

this song so exemplifies many excruciatingly painful episodes in my life, and yet I think of it as a happy song. while I'm not exactly a glass-is-half-full type of guy, I think I do have the ability to find the silver lining in even the blackest, most ominous cloud.

it's always darkest just before the dawn.

and if it can't get any worse, then that means it can only get better.

11:00:05 1 Jun 2005 > /playlist > permalink > 2 comments

Mon, 30 May 2005

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nowhere but nowhere

Currently Playing: "As Long as I Can Dream" by Expose Mood: generalize dissatisfaction with the universe at large

The only time I felt at peace during this weekend was (1) when I was asleep (and they were sleep periods of epic proportions—I do not doubt that I slept more on the three days of the long weekend than I have in the two weeks preceding) and (2) when I was in transit.

These days, it seems that nothing makes me happier than being unconscious, and barring that, barrelling down a 12-lane freeway at 90 mph.

I seriously need a vacation. I need to go somewhere where no one can bother me, where I can just brood on my own, and, as usual, stare at the sea.

I really don't understand why I let my mind get totally fried like this.

22:49:32 30 May 2005 > /soul > permalink > 0 comments

Fri, 27 May 2005

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pause

I sunk into a depressive mood this afternoon. Maybe it's just adrenalitis or something. All of the sudden I was exhausted despite it not being a strenuous day at all. The stress of the past 11 months, especially of the last four, has finally caught up to me, and, frankly, I want nothing more than to pass out saturated by tequila catching some sunlight on the beach.

I had a bizarre epiphany while listening to my iPod as I drove home from work: I am probably going to die John the Baptist-style (figuratively speaking) with my head on a silver platter.

(Yes my mind is truly arcane. I have long equated dying like John the Baptist with dying lonely and insane.)

The Playlist of the Damned:

  1. Green Day and Oasis mixed by Vin Vicious "Wonderwall of Broken Drams"
  2. Sarah McLachlan "World on Fire (Marius De Vries Mix)"
  3. Norah Jones "Shoot the Moon"
  4. Ben Folds Five "Don't Change Your Plans for Me"

I walk a lonely road The only one that I have ever known Don't know where it goes But it's home to me and I walk alone

My shadow's the only one that walks beside me My shallow heart's the only thing that's beating Sometimes I wish someone out there will find me

And all the roads that lead to you were winding And all the lights that light the way are blinding There are many things that I would like to say to you but I don't know how

And maybe You're gonna be the one that saves me…

The world's on fire and It's more than I can handle I'll tap into the water (I try to pull my ship) I try to bring more More than I can handle (Bring it to the table) Bring what I am able

I watch the heavens and I find a calling Something I can do to change this moment Stay close to me while the sky is falling Don't wanna be left alone, don't wanna be alone

The summer days are gone too soon You shoot the moon And miss completely And now you're left to face the gloom

Will you think of times you've told me That you knew the reason? Why we had to each be lonely It was just the season

Sometimes I get the feeling that I won't be on this planet for very long I really like it here I'm quite attached to it; I hope I'm wrong

All I really want to say You're the reason I want to stay But destiny is calling And I told them when my time is up I'm out of here

No dying in my sleep for me. No one to mourn my burnt up corpse, neither.

Why do I dwell on these things?

That's all there is, there ain't no mo'

19:48:08 27 May 2005 > /soul > permalink > 6 comments

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little brown fucking machines

JRM forwards me an interesting read.

The following e-mail is reproduced under provisions of fair use as protected by existing copyright law.

From: henrico galvez <e-mail address redacted> Date: May 27, 2005 12:02:25 AM PDT To: webmaster@magandamagazine.org Subject: READ this…

just saw your recent publications...I couldn't understand, why you people keep on repeating this "little brown fucking machines" term,, what is your bloody objective? Anything that is ugly is best FOUND A SOLUTION and rarely brought GLARINGLY in pinoy's faces.You don't hear black people constantly talk about slavery do you?You people have totally missed the boat,you use artistic expression as an excuse when out of ignorance and naivete, you're causing more DAMAGE than you can imagine.The government of the Philippines need to change it's policies concerning the trafficking and tretment of it's citizens.But your CONSTANT repetition of these UGLY terms serves no purpose, at best for non-filipinos who seem not to know anything about this and a non-bias look at Filipinos, is now destroyed thanx to your too much ROMANTICIZATION of being an activist kuno.You like to harp on these ugly terms but the actual people who should be MOVED by this[the Phil. government] has heard this a million times and apparently don't give a shit. So who are we destroying? NObody but ourselves.I couldn't figure out why seemingly educated students who went to Berkely would be so bloody excited to keep on repeating this ugly terms, and for what? To educate the white world, you people who's priority in life is to marry the next caucasian guy/gal who comes your way, who are we fooling here.The problem with you people is that in every art form that you produce, it's always the VICTIMS LANGUAGE that you employ.You ROMANTICIZE your ACTIVISM BUT THEN when you all turn around,walking proudly with your white boyfriends and girlfriends, AS IF you've bagged a treasure.You damn INFERIOR, PATHETIC maggot, no wonder nobody gives you any respect.You keep on proclaiming these ugly terms to the world, you express your hatred for it and to the dominant culture which you perceived to have EXPLOITED you, and finally foaming at the mouth to have a relationship with these bastards.YOU PEOPLE ARE A PATHETIC, BREED OF PEOPLE,mONGRELS WHO ARE NAIVE AND IGNORANT.Stop playing the victims language, and ingrain what nIETZCHE CALLS "will to power",Of course, you wouldn't know anything about that would you?In the meantime let's keep coming-up with all this 3rd world/ "I am a victim, boo-hoo hoo,/ hate the dominant culture who exploited you, sensibilities, and pass it as art too, an INFERIOR FORM OF ART THAT IS.And proudly walk with your bagged white girl/boyfriends.You people are ignorant maggots....Pathetic!!!!Your activism does more damage than good, when you're not doing anything...Read a book, so you can put some real knowledge in your cocunuts, instead of ROMANTICIZING activism....

Now, given my profession, the first thing my mind gloms onto is the level of pathology in this e-mail. As someone who occasionally takes care of those who have been abused—I've been involved in the care of people involved in child abuse and elder abuse as well as in domestic violence cases—it is heart-rending and not a little bewildering to see the same theme repeated over and over again. These people are caught in very ugly and awful situations, and what many of them end up doing is denying that the ugliness and awfulness of their situation exists. Some people even destructively channel their rage against others, thinking that their acts of violence are a sign of their strength, rather than just another symptom of denial. And, not infrequently, they strike at people who are trying to help them, and perversely often times protect the very people who are abusing them.

What we have here is this kind of pathology on a sociological scale.

I don't know how other progressive-thinking Filipinos feel about this, but I've pretty much accepted the notion that Filipino culture is the product of abuse on the nation-state level, a culture that has been repeatedly humiliated and violated, and is now riddled with emotional trauma and widespread mental pathology, having been at the mercy of several imperial regimes—the Spanish, the Americans, the Japanese. And consequently, a lot of sociological phenomenon can be traced back to a peculiar self-loathing mingled with self-esteem, and a bizarre hatred of the oppressor despite admiring their qualities. And then there is the splitting behavior: things are either bad or good, but there is no in-between.

Some people I've talked to have cast the behavior of pretending that nothing bad is happening as a cultural trait of Filipinos. I see it merely as a culture-wide expression of post-traumatic stress disorder.

Then again, the writer has a point with regard to the fact that dwelling on and wallowing in victimization is not helpful. The point of realizing that I am a victim is not so I can lie around pathetic and waiting for someone else to help me. The point of realizing I am a victim is so that I can ascribe blame for my circumstances not to myself, which many people of abuse tend to do, but to the rightful party. To put it in concrete, simplistic terms, if I have no money because someone robbed me, then I shouldn't get bogged down in self-blame and kick myself for getting robbed. Rather, I will have to go after the robber one way or the other. And when people notice the fact that I have no money and deride me for it, I can justifiably tell them to fuck themselves, I was robbed. I'm certainly not asking these asshats for pity, but they've got to recognize that I didn't get to this low spot by my own design. To use the analogy the writer introduced, black people do not bring up slavery again and again to tear down their own people. The reason they point it out is for all those asshat white people who think that black people did this to themselves. What black people are saying when they point to slavery is that, wherever they are, even if it is at this low point, it isn't like they tried to get there on purpose. Someone (notably white slaveowners) brought them down to this point, and to blame them for their state is plainly bullshit.

But, yeah, on a personal level, nothing pisses me off more about some Filipinos than the urge to cover shit up, to make believe that everything is all right, and all we need to do is pray to God to obviate the fact that, culturally speaking, we have all been violated. I saw this all the time when I was a kid. My aunts and uncles would deny their plainly existing bastard children, would deny infidelity and straight up sexual perversion, would deny addiction, would deny that their children were gang-members and drug-abusers. They have a word for this in the DSM-IV. It is called delusional disorder and it is one symptom of psychosis. And as far as I'm concerned, it's rampant in Filipino culture.

And (you knew I was gonna pull this in somehow) this is all made manifest in the curious cultural phenomenon known as PCN. Pilipino Cultural Night. All these stereotypes are made replete, and in typical borderline fashion, things are either metaphorically airbrushed or are stylized so as to be caricatures. While the younger generations are less apt to deep-throat and swallow the Ferdinand-and-Imelda-like notion of "one big happy family," neither are many of us willing to deal with the sharp, barbed complexities of being a member of a diasporic culture caught within the interstices of American Civil Rights Movement and the general anti-neoliberal global revolution. Despite never being able to fit in with the retro 1950s, McCarthy-era white suburban utopia, some of us are nonetheless loth to accept the dissolution of nation-states, the decreasing importance of tradition, and the general trend towards anarchy (and I mean the ideal anarchy posited by the Greeks) and away from central government.

Which brings me back to a thesis that I frequently ponder. We belong to culture that the conquerors have tried hard to erase. Notice how little Americans know about the Philippines, this despite the fact that the Philippines was an American colony for 50 years (and, in reality, longer than that, given the Cold War and the military presence in Subic) How almost no one learns about the Filipino-American War. About how Americans massacred up to a million Filipinos, including women and children, during this war. About how the Filipinos already had a tradition of democracy and freedom prior to the arrival of the Americans, how Aguinaldo was about to defeat the Spaniards, but that it was the Americans who finally prevented us from obtaining independence.

Instead, what do they know? Like it or not, you type in "filipino" in Google, and a lot of those hits are going to point to porno sites or mail-order bride sites.

But seriously, are we really going to try to repress this shit? What for? So we can live our delusional lives and pretend that our culture was never abused and humiliated?

But the reason why I think this becomes key is because the process is repeating itself in Iraq. Halliburton et al are busy literally razing the terrain and attempted to Americanize their society, and, while it is bound to fail, I would not be surprised to see Iraqi culture turn out similarly to Filipino culture. A culture designed by committee, with all the "ugly" parts elided, made to please the white-bread minds of corporatist America.

Seriously, though, I think it is key to accept the fact that we are part of a defeated, colonized culture. We are not the conqueror hegemons, folks. We are not the Empire. We are the Resistance. There is a lot more honor in accepting what we are rather than pretending to be what we are not.

But from the didactic side of things: if you are willing to reject the Bawlderized, Bayanihanized, Marcosized version of Filipino history and are willing to learn even all the ugly parts, then you will be one step closer to understanding how the global new world order works. It ain't a pretty place. There is oppression and exploitation everywhere. But recognize that our job in the Resistance is not to make the world a pretty place. It is to rid the world of oppression and exploitation, one step at a time.

I'm not trying to be militant here. I'm trying to be realistic. In my profession, you can't get away with just treating the symptoms of disease. It's not enough to just make someone feel better. You've got to treat the disease itself, and that means first diagnosing the disease and accepting that it is there and then going after it, in which case sometimes you have to cause pain before you can start the healing. Sounds cliched, I know, but this is kind of the essence of good medicine.

But if you're not going to treat the disease, if all you're going to do is mask the symptoms and pretend the disease isn't there, then you might as well just be masturbating.

18:21:39 27 May 2005 > /via-trails > permalink > 6 comments

Mon, 23 May 2005

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m83 "gone"

In some ways, I am careening off the edge of sanity.

I wasn't the only one alone in the restaurant that evening. Another gentleman who looked quite inebriated sat across from me, looking harried and upset. Me at a later stage of illness, perhaps, if I let this kind of thing spiral out of control. Right now it is in its subacute phase. The EKG looks abnormal, but my vital signs are still stable.

I drove randomly to Coronado today. Naturally, the place I wanted to eat at was closed. So I wandered around the nearby bookstore, checking out a cute girl out of the corner of my eye.

After that, I jetted back to Mission Valley and got something to eat. And drink.

As far as consequences go, I am at that point where my answer to everything is "I don't care."

I am not exactly at the apex of my mental health.

So I threw down $100 at the Borders, searching for enlightenment between the lines. It continues to elude me, of course.

I think maybe that I've stopped making sense a long time ago.

Or perhaps I've never made any sense.

If I can only manage to hold my shit together for another three days. Now that's a big "if."

Fuck.

22:36:12 23 May 2005 > /playlist > permalink > 0 comments

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soy un perdidor

I have been cursed with two virulent pathologies that plague me to this day. One is the perverse belief that all emotion is not meant to be expressed ad lib. Passion should be channeled, in controlled burns, outside the confines of civilization. The other is the bizarre idea that if someone is abusing me, I should not abuse them back, because after all, I am much better than they are.

I've noted this before, way in my adolescence. I have a superiority complex that makes me feel inferior.

So here I am taking shit that I don't deserve and keeping my mouth shut.

My pathology runs so deep that I can't even enjoy fantasizing about killing my tormenters. Deep down inside I realize that I won't feel any better plunging a sharp object into my enemy's chest. All vengeance is fleeting, and the accomplishment of such will therefore be joyless and not worth undertaking. Or, to put it less convolutedly, my time is better spent in other ways instead of dealing with this bullshit.

Of course, as is predictable, my voluntary repression sometimes leads to violent and perhaps even psychotic acts. I recognize that these unhealthy behaviors essentially turn me into a ticking time bomb.

In fact, I can look back upon my most recent regrets and find that they were all precipitated by taking too much shit stolidly and then losing it and going nuts in the end.

This path leads to the insane asylum, or to prison. One of these days I'm just going to go for some poor bastard's jugular, and God only knows what sort of mess that'll land me.


So I am currently busy getting myself drunk. I don't know why, I just can't think of anything better to do. I have nearly finished an entire bottle of Pinot Noir by myself. Ah, Pinot Noir.

I find it disturbing that two women have noticed that the character Miles from the movie Sideways reminds them of me. To put it tersely, I suppose they can recognize the patheticness and desperation. On a somewhat related note, two different women have also told me that I remind them of Sidney Carton, the sad, pothetic creature from A Tale of Two Cities. I think I like that comparison a tad better. Carton is, in fact, a loser who eventually decides to commit suicide in a convoluted manner—obsessed with a woman whom he never had chance with. (The whole A+E situation springs to mind. I would likely put my head on the chopping block for her happiness, but I'm not in a rush to test that hypothesis out.)

But what intrigues me about Carton is the idea of squandered potential. Like I wonder if I should've already won a Nobel Prize if I didn't have to deal with my perverse psychological nature. Who knows what sorts of triumphs I would've accomplished with my brain if I hadn't been mired for all these years in major depressive disorder?

A part of me is wondering if I think too highly of my intellectual capabilities.

So I'm pretty blasted on some cheap-ass Pinot Noir. I can barely see straight. I should come into work drunk, or at least hung-over. My ass-hat supervisor will just have to deal.

00:24:00 23 May 2005 > /soul > permalink > 1 comments

Fri, 20 May 2005

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staring at the sea…

…staring at the sand staring at myself reflected in the eyes of the dead man on the beach the dead man on the beach
I'm alive I'm dead I'm the stranger
You scored as Albert Camus. You are Albert Camus, so you are one sweet existentialist. He built largely upon the framework of existentialists before him, but introduced the concept that life is absurd, but that we should continue living anyway. You have strong liberal leanings, although you annoy the Communists. You are susceptible to driving fast, and possibly crashing into a tree.

Albert Camus

82%

Martin Heidegger

71%

Jean-Paul Sartre

61%

Friedrich Nietzsche

50%

Soren Kierkegaard

43%

Not An Existentialist

43%

Which Existentialist Philosopher Are You?
created with QuizFarm.com

This comes as no surprise.

But it doesn't mean anything.

05:36:22 20 May 2005 > /blog-bites > permalink > 5 comments

Thu, 19 May 2005

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in a galaxy far, far away

there was a point yesterday when I contemplated driving all the way to L.A. so I could watch Revenge of the Sith, but I am still traumatized by The Phantom Menace (what a dumbass title!) and I can't stand the fact that Hayden Christiansen is a major gimp, and that they digitally stuck him into Return of the Jedi. Still, despite Lucas' recent asshattishness, he managed to redeem himself somewhat to me (there is still some good in him, I can feel it…) by making explicit the parallels between the Star Wars Saga and the neocon usurpation of the American Government. I would not be surprised if George W Bush revealed himself to be a dastardly mastermind able to shoot lightning from his fingertips, despite his apparent substandard IQ.

anyway, I'm probably going to watch Revenge of the Sith sometime soon (anyone want to watch it with me so I don't look like a big loser going to watch it by myself? Thought not) and so I'd like to point out this:

05:35:23 19 May 2005 > /blog-bites > permalink > 7 comments

Wed, 11 May 2005

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what you do for love

The Keys to Your Heart

You are attracted to those who are unbridled, untrammeled, and free.
In love, you feel the most alive when your lover is creative and never lets you feel bored.
You'd like to your lover to think you are stylish and alluring.
You would be forced to break up with someone who was insecure and in constant need of reassurance.
Your ideal relationship is lasting. You want a relationship that looks to the future... one you can grow with.
Your risk of cheating is zero. You care about society and morality. You would never break a commitment.
You think of marriage as something that will confine you. You are afraid of marriage.
In this moment, you think of love as something you thirst for. You'll do anything for love, but you won't fall for it easily.
What Are The Keys To Your Heart?

19:34:30 11 May 2005 > /blog-bites > permalink > 10 comments

Sat, 07 May 2005

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scattered and remote

Something as innocuous as a touch on the shoulder… "We missed you the other day." words and gestures that I want to take out of context, to launch me off in a daydream, hopelessly fantastic wishes.

Trying to latch on to some meaning.

I have learned that it is like reaching for wisps of cloud, stray glinting rays of starlight, fireflies.

Like trying to dance on water.


So I milled around the supermarket today during the witching hour, when only the weirdos, the drunks, and the college students are whiling away their time wandering aimlessly through the aisles. My main task was to procure some soap. I had run out of some very basic material and desperately needed to replenish.

Strikingly, I was treated to two versions of "Breathe," one by Melissa Etheridge and one by Greenwheel, and then Kelly's Clarkson's hit single "Since U Been Gone" One wonders if one of the workers at the supermarket was disgruntled with his or her romantic fortunes.

I could relate.

But I guess it is more elemental than all that. The fact of the matter is that a human being is a social organism, and for me to eschew interaction with other people is ultimately self-destructive and probably eventually fatal. Without others to help me with my self-definition, I wander around in a sea of meaninglessness. A solipsistic fog. An existential mire.

You think about it hard enough and you come to the question of "why am I bothering with all this crap?" and then you can't come up with an answer, and without other people around, it becomes increasingly logical to end it all.

(Don't worry, this is not a cry for help. I swear that I am not actively suicidal right now. Trust me.)

But I cannot touch them. I don't even know how to approach. How to tell someone something as ridiculously simple and guileless as the fact that seeing them in the morning makes me smile, makes me content, even though I know that I've got a whelk's chance in a supernova. That's all, nothing else. It doesn't mean anything more than what I understand.

I don't know.

This is clearly the delirium of the early morning.

Thank God for psychotropic medication.

00:56:14 7 May 2005 > /soul > permalink > 4 comments

Fri, 06 May 2005

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postmodern and transhuman

You scored as Postmodernist. Postmodernism is the belief in complete open interpretation. You see the universe as a collection of information with varying ways of putting it together. There is no absolute truth for you; even the most hardened facts are open to interpretation. Meaning relies on context and even the language you use to describe things should be subject to analysis.

Postmodernist

75%

Idealist

69%

Existentialist

63%

Materialist

63%

Modernist

56%

Cultural Creative

50%

Romanticist

25%

Fundamentalist

0%

What is Your World View?
created with QuizFarm.com

from Gura's blog. I knew I should've been an English major. Or, more likely, comparative literature.

18:09:27 6 May 2005 > /blog-bites > permalink > 4 comments

Tue, 03 May 2005

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against all odds

For some stupid reason, I have Phil Collins in my head. Wonderful.

Of course, there's the cover version by The Postal Service which I find entertaining.

I can't go to sleep because of the acidic feeling in my stomach. I had fallen asleep at a ridiculously early hour, but this pain has woken me up. And, now awake, it's gotten me thinking, and as usual, one thought has led to another.

I am thinking that maybe my sudden feelings of loneliness are more symptoms rather than an actual disease process. I think that it is merely a manifestation of my stress, as I hang on dearly, trying to make it through these last few weeks of my intern year.

It is always darkest in the last hour before dawn. Or so the saying goes.

The thing that keeps me going is the notion that things are supposed to change for the better once I get past this madness.

00:58:34 3 May 2005 > /soul > permalink > 4 comments

Mon, 02 May 2005

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what are words for? (before the tangent)

OK, I got distracted there from what I was trying to say. The reason why I scraped this fragmented lyric from the inside of my brain is because I am musing on something a girl once wrote me, a long, long time ago in a galaxy far, far away…

Even then you had that sweet, special smile…

…when I didn't even think she knew who I was. Although I don't know what she would think if she knew that I had been attracted to her from the start. I remember seeing her, hanging out with mutual friends, and I remember having to catch my breath.

And of course my usual lack of self-esteem fell upon me with a vengeance. Clearly out of my league. Once again I long for what I cannot have.


Ah, the strange paths that my life has taken.

Nearly a decade since, and I haven't really made any progress in terms of overcoming my inability to trust other people. Well, either that, or I am simply unloveable and worthless, but we all know what a vortex of despair that would lead us down. As I've said before, believing such things is ultimately incompatible with life.

What I am really left with are these thoughts, which are evoked everytime I see the Sea, and those mysterious islands just on the horizon.

Just call me the Dread Pirate Roberts.

19:29:36 2 May 2005 > /soul > permalink > 0 comments

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GNOME 2.10.1 build order

updates revised 28 June 2005

GNOME 2.10.1 was released on April 17

  1. glib 2.6.4
  2. atk 1.9.1
  3. pango 1.8.1
  4. gtk+ 2.6.7
  5. at-spi 1.6.3
  6. libart2 2.3.17
  7. libglade 2.5.1
  8. libgnomecanvas 2.10.2
  9. gail 1.8.3
  10. libIDL 0.8.5
  11. ORBit 2.12.2
  12. libbonobo 2.8.1
  13. libgnomecups 0.2
  14. libgnomeprint 2.10.3
  15. libgnomeprintui 2.10.2
  16. gconf 2.10.0
  17. gnome-mime-data-2.4.2
  18. howl 0.9.10
  19. gnome-vfs 2.10.1
  20. audiofile 0.2.6
  21. esound 0.2.35
  22. libgnome 2.10.0
  23. libbonoboui 2.8.1
  24. libgnomeui 2.9.1
*
patch file modified

18:27:38 2 May 2005 > /computers/gnome > permalink > 0 comments

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what are words for?

(if you are a child of the '80's, and/or a fan the erstwhile Flashback Lunch on KROQ with Richard Blade, you will recognize that the title of this blog entry is stolen from some song lyrics.)

I talked with M today about the difficulties of relationships, the snafus with communicating emotions and expectations, the drawing of boundaries, the marking off of categories, even the finely split nomenclature of types of relationships. I really all sounds obscenely absurd, and yet, despite being out of the Game, so to speak, for a long while, I completely understand.

now I have been easily ignoring the lack of female, well, actually, just human companionship in my life these days, except for work. as I have bitched and moaned repeatedly, my life is all about work these days. which is a convenient excuse for why I'm not going out and meeting people.

but I know that's not the real reason. the real reason is that I am deathly afraid to let my guard down. I mean, I'm not a complete hermetic isolate, I do joke around with my co-workers and I do go out once in a while for non-work related activities, but I know that I am probably eons away from being able to trust one single person with the cobweb thin fragility of my ego.

Right now, I don't know. I like my weltanschaung the way it is. I kind of gibber at the idea of allowing someone into my life, and letting her rearrange all the metaphoric furniture. and yet to look upon the ensuing decades and imagine them completely unchanging, with me here alone, doing the same thing day in and day out, devoting myself to work entirely. there is something painfully and disasterously sterile about that. I'm not quite sure I want to make that decision, to let myself float off into the cosmos unchanging, merely decaying, instead of letting someone else touch my soul. to take a chance and let someone else change me, make me more than I already am.

There is that damnable question:

What if?

but, more ponderous pondering to follow…

11:23:48 2 May 2005 > /soul > permalink > 5 comments

Sun, 01 May 2005

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chicago really is my kind of town

American Cities That Best Fit You:

80% Chicago
70% Philadelphia
65% Los Angeles
60% Honolulu
60% New York City
Which American Cities Best Fit You?

found on my sister's Xanga

It's interesting that Philly ranks so high. I've been there once, and I was not particularly impressed, but then again that was like fifteen years ago. Honolulu, I've never been to, unless you count stopping over at an airport. If it weren't so damn expensive…

13:30:50 1 May 2005 > /blog-bites > permalink > 5 comments

Wed, 27 Apr 2005

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darth vader has a blog

One of the universe's favorite galactic killers posts his thoughts via Blogger. Who knew that a genocidal maniac could be so funny?

13:37:49 27 Apr 2005 > /blog-bites > permalink > 5 comments

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starship dimensions

For all us sci-fi geeks. A comparison of the sizes of different starships from various books, movies, and video games.

06:59:43 27 Apr 2005 > /unrealcity > permalink > 0 comments

Mon, 25 Apr 2005

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edumacation

I have, for some bizarre reason, been pondering the fact that two of the most famous transcendental numbers are so close to each other. Namely, π and e. As most geeks know, π is roughly equal to 3.14159265 and describes the relationship between the circumference of a circle and its radius, i.e. C=2πr. e, on the other hand, is roughly equal to 2.71828183. I am not as familiar with e, being currently unable to comprehend math that is more complex than high school algebra, although I do know that it governs such processes as the doubling time of bacteria and the radioactive decay of uranium.

Somewhat humorously, the difference between these two numbers turns out to be roughly 0.423310825, which is only two magnitudes of order and a very small fraction off from the answer to life, the universe, and everything. In other words, the answer is π-e x 100.

Anyway, I also found this page, which explains a magical equation found in an episode of "The Simpsons."

20:45:19 25 Apr 2005 > /simpsons > permalink > 3 comments

Fri, 22 Apr 2005

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the exhaustion of self

So I just finished reading "The Mask" by Stanislaw Lem, which is in his collection entitled Mortal Engines and I was thoroughly haunted by it. (SPOILERS to follow) The story is about a robot built to assasinate an enemy to the crown. The robot is ensconced in the body of a woman, whose purpose is for the enemy to fall in love with. Prior to consummation of this passion, the robot frees itself from the fleshly disguise and, despite a rebellious disposition, is forced to run along with its programming to kill his target.

I will leave it at that.

While it does get into the interesting maze of Godelian incomplete thoughts regarding free will and how do we determine whether or not we really live in the Matrix, for example, what I found entrancing was the initial sequence where the robot, finding itself a woman, is conflicted by the false, implanted memories and her desire to determine the truth about her existence. The way that she believes herself a stranger in her own skin, most peculiarly like how some patients with neurological deficits can feel (as described in some chapters by Oliver Sacks in The Man Who Mistook His Wife for a Hat.

The way that, at times, especially when I was growing up, I felt like a stranger in my own skin, ill-at-ease to be myself.

The way that I am uncertain whether I am merely playing my role in the Great Game, or whether I have any say in which direction I go.

And then in the end, it doesn't matter. We are all programmed to some extent, but to grow up means being able to overcome the limitations of programming.

Or, I suppose, something trite like that.

But what drove me into this soliloquy are these tortured reflections of a medical student unsure whether or not a particular path is the right path. And the sad fact of the matter is that I think that you will not know until you get there—at which point it is kind of late.

I suppose my decisions were easier. If anything, I was born into this role. In some ways, this is my heritage. I knew nothing else. I don't think it was until I was 16 when I realized that it was possible to have a career entirely outside of health care. Oh, sure, before I crossed that final threshold, I had my doubts. One question was: if I don't do this, will I wonder for the rest of life until my dying days? The other question was: what if I'm not good enough?

And through various mundane trials and tribulations that millions before me have experienced, here I am, carrying the (now much lighter) yoke of 80 hours/week (give or take), and basically trying not to kill anyone.

While I do sorely miss having more time to myself, more time to think, to ruminate, to reflect, I realize that, due to the nature of our society, I have to find some way to pay the bills whether I want to or not. And if I'm going to be working, I'd much rather be a physician than some sad sack pushing around papers behind a desk, knuckling under the stifling confines of corporate culture.

I suppose, in life, as in medicine, sometimes you have to choose between what sucks, and what sucks even more. You might call it settling, but there is something to be said about succeeding at mediocrity. It is much better than failing at excellence.

In other words, this is called solipsistic self-rationalization and sophistry. (I love alliteration.)

Hell, I like my job anyway, even when it is a serious pain in the ass.

21:47:55 22 Apr 2005 > /soul > permalink > 0 comments

Wed, 20 Apr 2005

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less than single

For various reasons, including a conversation this morning of which details I will elide at this point in time, I am feeling extraordinarily alone today. It could be simply because I've run out of one of my medications. I still have plenty of the other one, and I think taking it on its own might have simply unmasked some of my bipolar tendencies. I found myself laughing out loud a lot today, and, like the stereotypical manic, I went on an absurd shopping spree, spending money I definitely do not have. Then, of course, I would have histrionic dialogues going on in my head. (They're not voices, damn it.) I've probably swung between abject depression and ludicrous joy at least seventeen times today.

And despite all this, despite the fact that I have to wake up in about four hours in order to work for twelve hours tomorrow, I cannot sleep. I've even taken some Valerian root, and the remnants of the previous psychotropic medication I was on (which is known to be sedating. Kids, don't try this at home.) If this doesn't work, I'm going to have to resort to some Benadryl, which always makes me feel like crap in the morning.

Kids, just say no to drugs.

But, yeah, let me tell you, while I had a good time this morning, and the conversation I had was mostly fun, parts of it confirmed to me the fact that the world is a dark and ugly place. In fact, I'm still digesting the story that was told to me, at times agonizing over the global scope of it all.

It's all fucked up.

At this stage in the game, there has been nothing left but to mull over my past history of unrequited infatuation. The woman from whom I was forced to leave precipitously, although in any case, I was, and no doubt will be, firmly ensconced in the hope-destroying Friend Zone. The woman who is going to the other side of the continent before I got a chance to know her (perhaps fortunately, since it prevented me from having morbid thoughts of not having a chance with her.) The woman who I didn't think was my type, who I ended up finding that we had a lot in common, and who rebuffed my advances, and with whom I'm still friends with, who is getting married soon.

Bah.

It's nice to not be tied down, nice to not have to fulfill anyone's expectations, but it would also be nice to have someone waiting at home. Or to have someone with whom to wait at home for. And it's terrible when you get so sick of the monotonous solitude that you don't even want to hear yourself think anymore.

There does not appear to be anything new under the sun. I am once again chewing the cuds of my frustrated desires. As if the world wasn't already full of more important, more pervasive tragedies.

This sucks.

Well, hopefully the Valerian is kicking in, since I'm starting to yawn a lot. I'd hate to end this on such a down note. All I can say is, trite as it sounds, tomorrow is another day, and anything can happen.

00:21:47 20 Apr 2005 > /soul > permalink > 0 comments

Tue, 19 Apr 2005

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gamma ray burst

Even my dreams are laced with nothing but work, work, work.

I dreamt that maybe there was a huge cosmic gamma ray burst. This would manifest in doctors' offices and hospitals as an increased rate of miscarriages in the next couple of months, and an increased rate of malformed babies nine months after. And the rate of malignancy, especially bone marrow problems, would increase as well.

06:16:03 19 Apr 2005 > /dreams > permalink > 3 comments

Sun, 17 Apr 2005

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configuration 4

So here I am again trying to rearrange my furniture. I realize that the main source of pathology in this apartment is the fact that I have too many goddamned wires running around the house. I wonder what the book about Feng Shui has to say about that? (And on a random tangent, as usual, does electricity count as water? It does, after all, flow like a current, from high potential to low potential… all right, I'm betraying my geekiness again…)

I have my computer table in the Long Life sector, my couch in the Prosperity sector, and my television in the Disaster sector. Naturally, my front door opens onto the Death sector, but, hey, there's nothing I can do about that. Maybe I need to put up a windchime or something. Heh.

The engineering difficulty that I am now faced with is the fact that the cable outlet is on the opposite side of the wall that I've put my TV. Stupid TV. If I weren't paying a ridiculous amount of money to have cable simply so I can watch The Daily Show, I'd seriously dispose of it. Shit. Anyone want to buy a TV?

18:48:16 17 Apr 2005 > /soul > permalink > 0 comments

Wed, 13 Apr 2005

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serious brain damage

I don't know why I care, but times like these, I'd like to know why I'm as brain damaged as I am. Having self-diagnosed myself with executive dysfunction syndrome after reading this book, I wonder if it's simply something congenital, or if I really had a hypoxic event when I was anesthetized as a little kid for my tonsillectomy. Not that I'm interested in suing anyone, but I think it would be interesting to know. After all, I think I'm relatively pretty functional, with the occasional nervous breakdown now and again. I don't know, if I was brain damaged, I could probably be a poster child for how you can recover from very subtle mental deficits.

I'm not just being facetious. Well, I suppose I am, partially so. I do really have a problem with making decisions, though. And I know at least a few people with similar problems. Difficulties with prioritizing information sometimes manifests as learning disabilities, or problems with taking timed tests. This is basically what the frontal lobe handles: organization and prioritization. The kernel of the operating system known as the human mind, if you will. These are the two things I do very poorly with, and seriously, it's amazing that I've gotten through life at all. I like to think that the rest of my mind has somehow compensated for its failings. The brain, like the Internet, seems to be able to route around damage sometimes, although it can't easily reduplicate whatever was lost.

Anyway, that was a really verbose prelude to why I am cursing my disease state. Currently, my apartment is in complete shambles. It looks like the Secret Service decided to systematically ransack it in search of paraphanelia that could get me locked up in Gitmo. Yes, that's right. Systematic chaos and disorganization. There are stacks and stacks of books just piled up on the ground. My clothes are likewise folded and stacked in very random places. I have receipts organized in messy piles according to month and year. It is a serious mess, and yet it seems like it's the only way I can find anything. What is particularly fucked up is that I seem to function worse when everything is neatly put away.

And thanks to my rampant disorganization, I think I may need to make a four hour round trip drive to my parents' house in L.A. and back in order to retrieve my 1099INT and 1098T in order to properly file my taxes. What a waste of a day.

To top it off, I am dangerously approaching rush hour. (I don't really know why the call it rush hour when it clearly lasts more than one hour. They should properly call it rush epoch. Or rush eon. Anyway.)

(And another manifestation of my disease state is that fact that I always get detoured sidelong into tangents, frequently finding myself miles away from my original point.)

One wonders if this is a controllable state, much like major depression or generalized anxiety. I've tried the antidepressants, and while they succeed in preventing me from self-harm, they don't really touch these higher functions. From what I understand, that's what amphetamines like Ritalin and Concerta are for.

(Once again, I am forced to ask: am I nothing but a clockwork orange? Anyway.)

Time to get on the road. After one more tangent…

12:56:25 13 Apr 2005 > /soul > permalink > 0 comments

Thu, 31 Mar 2005

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wind and water

Today I had the day off. Unfortunately, I had forgotten to leave the intern pager at the hospital, so I had to wake up early in the morning to get it to the intern taking over my service. Which is just as well, because I had 13 dictations to do.

After three hours, I had breakfast at the Mission, picked up a package at the post office, then went back to sleep.

I was supposed to run some errands the day before. Yesterday, I had laid my head down at approximately 3:30 pm and failed to wake up until midnight. I still haven't learned to set my alarm post-call before nodding off to sleep.

But this time I woke up around 1pm and decided that it was a good time to go to the beach. This time I headed straight west on the 8, out to Ocean Beach.

Now I realize the following analogies are lame, and they really don't do justice to any of the places I talk about, but I'll write them anyway:

Whenever I try to explain Venice Beach in L.A. to any of my Northern Cali friends, I tell them it's like Telegraph Ave in Berkeley, or the Haight, except it's right next to the ocean. Well, in truth, it really isn't, it's just that the smell of incense and marijuana often fill the air in these places. I imagine that these places are the few scattered remnants of what used to be the whole country in the '60's, but what do I know? I was born in 1976.

Anyway, to mutilate an already ugly analogy, Ocean Beach in San Diego is like Venice Beach on steroids. It is actually a lot more like Telegraph Ave/Haight-Ashbury than Venice is. Venice is more like a tent city in comparison. (But of course, none of these places has that guy who wears a turban and roller-skates while playing the guitar.)

So, yeah, there are the hippies and the Rastafarians and the potheads and the goths. The counterculture still lives in scattered corners. Even in uber-conservative San Diego. I ended up going to the used bookstore, where I bought a grip of books. One of them was about feng shui for apartment dwellers. We'll see if it will actually help me with my inability to stay organized and clutter-free. I'm really desperate. I'm ready to try anything. Shit, if this doesn't work, I'm probably going to have to hire a maid to keep my shit together. My place may as well be radioactive, that's how nasty it is. Anyway.

And, as usual, though probably because of my erratic sleep pattern today, I can't get to sleep, despite the fact that I have to once again wake up at the ass-crack of dawn. Damn it.

22:30:31 31 Mar 2005 > /soul > permalink > 0 comments

Sun, 27 Mar 2005

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things never turn out…

…the way you plan them to.

As if I wasn't acutely aware of that fundamental fact that governs the universe.

Anyway, my mind is really not functioning these days. I think I've come to the trough of this year. I may have made it over the wall, but now I'm becalmed.

I'm getting nowhere, fast.


But I've been bitching about how one-dimensional my life has gotten these days. Outside of work, there is this huge gaping void, and lately, I've been avoiding this chasm by either going to work, or sleeping.

Sometimes I hate holidays.

I have all this time to think. For some reason, despite being told by my oldest friend B from practically the day we met that I think too much, I still think too much.

If you get what I'm saying.

Ah hell. I should just go to sleep.

I can't get to sleep I think about the implications Of diving in too deep And possibly the complications… —from "Overkill" by Colin Hay

As I've been trying to say, I've been fretting about how one-dimensional my life is. I've noticed how empty of content my days are now that I've managed to catch up with some of my friends whom I haven't talked to in months. They ask me, "So, what's new?" and I try and try and rack my brain, but there's nothing.

A conversation with my ex-roommate B reminds me that "this too shall pass."

Anyway. I've been pondering how my life has very few degrees of freedom. (OK this is going to sound nuts, but) I feel like I'm trapped between two Casimir plates. There's all this energy that's getting stored here, all this weirdness popping into reality, and I just have this feeling that when get out from between these plates, reality is going to be a bitch to pay back. (OK, I admit it. I'm a sick bastard. And the biggest nerd you'll ever meet. I read books about quantum mechanics for fun. Even though I don't know how to do math more complicated than algebra.)

I'm a virtual photon streaking through the quantum soup generated by pushing too unyielding surfaces too close together without actually touching.

I'm not even high.

I'm going to get to sleep now even if it kills me, damn it.

22:56:58 27 Mar 2005 > /soul > permalink > 2 comments

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that's racist!

Innocently, M asks me why it is that some Asian men get pissed off when they see a white guy dating an Asian woman. M is a Pinay in the Midwest who has only ever dated white guys.

I know that my brother gets irritated by it. M's cousin does as well. While I don't really feel strongly one way or the other, I can understand why some Asian dudes feel that way.

I mean, even I kind of flinched a little when my oldest friend B (who is, yes, a white guy) told me about his wild sexual escapade with this Pinay he used to work with. It was a visceral reaction. I can't really seem to explain it.

Without making it too political and too racially charged, part of it simply the inferiority complex that it foists upon Asian men. In typical chauvanistic fashion, some of us take it as personal affront to our ego. The perception is that it sends the message that Asian men clearly suck.

Now I'm not indicting any individuals here. I'm only meta-interpreting the societal gestalt. It is simply a naieve psychological exploration of the few guys I've met who have this hangup. I honestly don't know what white people think of this phenomenon, although I have certainly met quite a few Asian fetishists.

But the sad fact of the matter is that it reinforces particular stereotypes and self-defeating attitudes. The asexual Asian male. The disempowerment of the Asian male in a dominantly white society. It can cause a kind of invisibility. I remember that A and I felt it when we used to live in the Midwest. Living on the West Coast, or visting NYC, even I would get a few looks and smiles from women, but in the Midwest, I might as well not have been there. I might as well have had a shaved head in Buddhist monk fashion and a big sign saying "Eunuch" taped to my back.

True, it's all in how you choose to perceive certain stimuli. I'm not saying it's right to feel this way, but, there you have my interpretation. In case you've ever been wondering.

14:46:59 27 Mar 2005 > /soul > permalink > 1 comments

Sat, 26 Mar 2005

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obnoxious cel phone users

so of course I can't go to sleep, despite the fact that I have to go in to work on Easter Sunday at 6am. For some reason, I feel all wired. Of course, it could be all that caffeine I consumed today.

hypochondriac warning (skip if you don't want to read about my paranoid hallucinations) So as I climbed the ramp from the train to the parking lot, I totally got out of breath. No anginal chest pains, but definitely light headed. Which is, from what I understand about physiology, not very normal in a 28 year old male. I start worrying about anemia, and whether I might be bleeding out of my gut somewhere. Of course, what it probably is is that I'm horrifically out of shape. It's disgusting. I need help.

but on the train I was one of those people that I find annoying, yapping away on their cel phone. It was good to talk to B, whom I haven't heard from in a million years. Not that I'm necessarily the easiest person to get a hold of.

but we mused about the impending big 3-0, which is technically still more than a year away. but we both mourned the fact that neither of us were anywhere near our vaunted goals.

the big 3-0 just seems like such a steaming pile of bullshit, though. It's not like my life is going to magically change. or, to look it another way, things can only get worse.

ah, I love being so optimistic.

The other thing that has been crossing my mind is the fact that pretty much every woman that I've had an interest in or even dated is now either married or in a stable long term relationship. I don't know why, but there is something discomfiting about that. Again. Things can only get worse from here on out.

But what do I care, right? It's not like I have any time for anything in my life right now except work, work, work. I can't even make my bed, much less have a girlfriend at this point in time.

As I've said before, in what seems like an eon ago, what I need is a personal valet, not a girlfriend. I wonder what the going rates are for hiring an assistant? I wonder if I can bid for such services on e-bay?


Then there is the bizarre deal I have made. Basically a rip-off of "My Best Friend's Wedding." So, of course, there is this woman I have mentioned before. One night, in the aftermath of a messy break up and me trying to console her, we come up with this insane plan to get married by the time I'm 35 if we hadn't met anyone else we'd want to marry.

I honestly don't know what to make of this. As far as I understand it, we're just joking.

But then there's this niggling part in the back of my mind that makes me think there's more here than meets the eye.

Madness.

The thing is, if I'm dead serious about this, I figure I should just go for it. Spill my guts and run all the way with it, even if eventually it leads me out into the middle of traffic only to get mowed down by a figurative Mack truck.

Instead, I make excuses.

Does this mean that I'm only fooling myself with what I feel? Or is it even more horrifically convoluted? Am I fooling myself that I'm fooling myself?

Will the madness never end?

Maybe I just need to have a frontal lobotomy. That'll definitely make all these dilemmas go away.

23:58:22 26 Mar 2005 > /soul > permalink > 6 comments

Wed, 23 Mar 2005

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GNOME 2.10.0 build order

This entry is not yet complete

GNOME 2.10.0 was released on March 9

  1. glib 2.6.3
  2. atk 1.9.1
  3. pango 1.8.1
  4. gtk+ 2.6.2
  5. at-spi 1.6.3
  6. libart2 2.3.17
  7. libglade 2.5.1
  8. libgnomecanvas 2.10.0
  9. gail 1.8.2
  10. libIDL 0.8.5
  11. ORBit 2.12.1
  12. libbonobo 2.8.1
  13. libgnomecups 0.2
  14. libgnomeprint 2.10.0*
  15. libgnomeprintui 2.8.2
  16. gconf 2.9.2
  17. gnome-mime-data-2.4.2
  18. howl 0.9.10
  19. gnome-vfs 2.9.91
  20. audiofile 0.2.6
  21. esound 0.2.35
  22. libgnome 2.9.1
  23. libbonoboui 2.8.0
  24. libgnomeui 2.9.1
*
patch file modified

21:42:45 23 Mar 2005 > /computers/gnome > permalink > 5 comments

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lost and spent

Another day off pissed away. Not to mention a couple hundred flushed down a couple dollar slot machines.

I don't know what possessed me at 6:30 pm (an hour and a half before my bedtime) to take $160, drive off into the mountains to a Native American reservation, and essentially burn it in a masochistic act of futility.

No use crying over spilt milk, I suppose.

But it seems that me and my sister have the same problem. Both of us seem to be incontinent when it comes to money. We somehow always end up spending more than we have, and I am almost certain that—unless I can get someone else to manage my funds—no matter how much money I make, I will always be broke.

Talk about Sisyphus rolling the stone up the hill.

Despite my aspirations towards monkhood (I've got the celibacy thing down cold), I can't seem to get around the whole vow of poverty thing. It's not like I own expensive things, necessarily, it's just that I really have no idea where my money goes. I mean, it isn't that I'm completely incompetent, it's just that thinking about every penny starts making me depressed, which has the somewhat amusing side effect of making me spend even more money. (I seem to have acquired the habit of self-medicating with consumerism.) I've decided that I am much happier not thinking about money, and if that means that I am always essentially broke, I guess that's the way it'll have to be. (Again, unless I can find someone to manage my funds. My oldest friend B has already volunteered his fiduciary services. Since he lives on the other side of the continent, this doesn't lend well to the kind of micromanagement that I need help with. He half-jokingly told me to give him a call once I have my first million. Which, according to my calculations, will happen, like, never.)

Anyway, you can't buy happiness. Although it seems that you can rent it for a while, so to speak.


I am also meditating upon red-shifting galaxies again. It is interesting to find that pretty much all of the women I have ever been seriously interested in are now in stable relationships, and a few are in fact married. I just learned that one of my friends is now engaged. (I had once upon a time told her how I felt, and I got the "let's just be friends" talk.)

It is interesting the way my love life has gone (or more accurately, not gone.) 1) I have been cheated on 2) I told someone how I felt about her and we basically came to the tacit agreement that it would be best to ignore it. It was almost never alluded to, and it was certainly never discussed again. 3) I have been pre-emptively told that it would be preferrable that my feelings not be known because it would probably unnecessarily degrade the friendship (This discussion did not occur in direct reference to me, just in a generalized, impersonal form) 4) I have simply completely failed to express my feelings and ended up surrendering to a better man 5) I have actually once had to play out the "it's not you, it's me" scenario—yes, remarkable as it seems, I had to once convince someone that a relationship with me would be a bad idea 6) I have encountered the "you're like a brother to me" scenario.

That pretty much sums up the past ten(!) years, really. It is interesting to note that my horoscope today stated:

An idea from the past hangs in your mind like an abandoned tire resting in a roadside ditch. Mental cleanup includes consciously deciding on one course of action and letting go of the other possibilities.

I feel that this is directly applicable to my stagnant situation.

It makes me wonder. I think B (the other one) would contend that deciding explicitly to take the path less traveled is simply a cop-out. Or maybe he wouldn't think that. Maybe I'm just projecting.

But, yeah. Maybe it's true. I've said once before that I think I make a pretty decent friend, but I would probably make a pretty shitty boyfriend.

Oh well. You gotta play the cards that you're dealt. (Please remind me never to go gambling ever again.)

21:42:13 23 Mar 2005 > /soul > permalink > 0 comments

Mon, 21 Mar 2005

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only hope can keep me together

I'll send an S.O.S. to the world, I'll send an S.O.S. to the world. I hope that someone gets my— I hope that someone gets my— I hope that someone gets my—

I seem to always come back to this song.

Right now I am simply shuffling randomly through my mp3 collection (which has recently just outgrown my 40 GB hard drive, although I'll admit, I probably have at least a few hundred megs of duplicates that I haven't bothered to clean out). Because of my wacky habit of keeping track of memories by attaching them to songs, I find my mind taking off to what are now quite distant eras of my life.

Not that I'm an old geezer, mind you. It just feels that way sometimes. Especially after being at work for about 30 hours.

I'm getting that "floating in space" feeling. That feeling that no one could give a shit if I lived or died. That solipsistic feeling that there's really no one else around. Everyone else is just an actor or a computer-simulated program or something equally creepy.

I suppose that this is technically a sign of insanity, but I think that everybody's a little crazy anyway.

I know I am.

Heh.

I don't know. I'm totally in that state of mind where I feel lonely, but the thought of the company of other people makes me clastrophobic. Like, I start imagining my life populated with more people, and I get the creeps.

Bleh.

Today has just been a very fragmented day. Once again I slept all day. I dreamt about the end of the world. That the universe was falling apart, and that the only way to survive was to take this hypertransit corridor that dematerializes you and accelerates you to near light speed, then decelerates you and rematerializes you. Like the inside of this corridor basically looks like what I imagine a particle accelerator looks like. (By the way, did you hear the bizarre news that some scientists think that they may have created an atom sized black hole? Neat-o.)

Stranger still was the fact that the timeline of my dream was bifurcated. In one timeline, I was married to this woman, but in another, she was married to someone else. But if you entered the hypertransit corridor, the timelines would combine. (Leading to very awkward social situations.)

I dreamt that they were slowly converting freeways into hypertransit corridors. And that certain medical conditions prevented you from traveling on the hypertransit ways. So some people were doomed to be extinguished by the coming cataclysm.

But unfortunately they had the dimensional equivalent of the INS on the other side of the corridor, and in my dream I basically had to sneak through the border. (I don't remember how you're supposed to do this at 95% of c, but hey, this is my dream, damn it.) So here we were, about twelve of us in a one bedroom apartment, including a dog, refugees from a dying universe, unable to leave lest we get deported and condemned to endure the Big Crunch.

Oh, I remember now. We had a patron who was powerful enough to sneak us through, but was quickly losing influence so that we had to worry about deportation.

Anywway.

04:48:13 21 Mar 2005 > /soul > permalink > 4 comments

Sat, 19 Mar 2005

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cesspool

the hour of barking madness, long ere the coming of the dawn to sleep now would be folly oh but to await the sunrise… this floating space and time of going nowhere fast

the mind disposes of thoughts and ideas dreams and memories forking, twisted paths turning inward upon themselves like Ouroborous eating his own tail there are no answers except for the one we already know the rest of it is just filling in the blanks

the city that is no city that is a place I may only visit in the darkness with my eyes shut

we take the train into the city center though of course forgetting that there is no center only the periphery is real and we spin about on Joseph's constructed merry-go-round seeking that ivory tower the phallus stretching up into the sky that God tore down, scattering us to the four winds

and all we're left with is some psycho-babble some half remembered doggerel about penises and tongues and the unforgivable hubris of trying to reach heaven

I dream of voices in the Oort cloud stirring and I wonder about all the things in this universe that remains unseen all the things that are seen, but we do not understand living on this tiny rock spinning around a little poof of starlight that could wink out in an eyeblink as far as the universe was concerned

we are, ultimately, little children playing at high drama mutilating and killing each other for some paltry trinkets trying to ignore the long, lonely darkness staring at us through the night sky

00:50:14 19 Mar 2005 > /poetry > permalink > 0 comments

Sun, 06 Mar 2005

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sleep is for the weak

So as I noted, I stayed up for 32 hours the past couple of days. I figured that I'd take a four hour nap, pack, and then head up to L.A. to visit my parents. Heh.

So I wake up around 9am the next morning, completely disoriented, with eye-boogers glueing my eyelids shut. I feel completely dehydrated, getting orthostatic when I stand up to pee, which is miraculous that I still can, considering that I have been NPO for 24 hours, and I was already dehydrated when I fell asleep. Nevertheless, both my flanks ached, and I was sure that I had developed bilateraly kidney stones.

It is now 7:30pm, and I still feel dehydrated.

I don't know how people in relationships, and especially people with families, survive this madness.

19:27:00 6 Mar 2005 > /soul > permalink > 1 comments

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dreaming while the house burns down around me

Now I should probably know better, but for those of you who know me well, this is probably not surprising at all.

It's actually been a while since I haven't slept at all on a call night. It never occurred to me how much even 1 hour of being able to put your head down makes all the world of difference. So I try to drive home without killing anyone after working for 32½ hours straight and decide to warm up the pizza that I had left over from the night before call.

Bad idea.

As the pizza sits in the oven, I decide to lay down on the couch for a second. You know, just resting my eyes. Checking the lids for light-leaks.

A few minutes quickly turns into sixteen hours, at which time I notice that the place smells a little smoky, and my throat is a little raw, like I've been smoking from a pipe.

How I managed not to immolate myself is a mystery to me. What can I say. God has a strange sense of humor or something.

Anyway, I guess the mild-to-moderate asphyxiation stimulated my brain or something, because I had some really weird dreams.

One: I dreamt that my other dog died, run over by a car.

Two: I made it to an island in the East Pacific that was it's own country, and the populace was made up entirely of ex-patriate Asian Americans. The Filipino guy who hooked me up with my travel visa was trying to extort me, so I got rid of his phony goods and made my way to the U.S. Embassy. My uncle then wanted to fly out to Cebu. Bizarrely, I find out that one of my mentors in medical school had had an affair with the Queen(?) of this country and they had had a child which died.

Three: A neighbor of my parents comes to the door in the advanced stages of labor, and my mom and dad end up delivering her in the foyer. The kid is past dates (something absurd, like 42 to 46 weeks) and me and my brother make sure that he's doing OK. The baby is, however, grunting, and I scan my brain for anything that we might use for deep suction.

Four: The bottom of my parent's hill has majestically gentrified, with an enormous commercial district that reminds me a lot of New York City. The city I find myself in is one of those weird hybrid cities I dream a lot about: some bizarre amalgamation of NYC, Chicago, and L.A. This version has the hills and mountains of L.A., the population density and public transport system of NYC, and the lakeshore of Chicago.

Five: Me and my brother are playing this really fun RPG that has very realistic animation. The world is kind of like Middle Earth, and involves various aspects of many of the computer and game-console RPGs that we've played throughout our lives.

19:21:47 6 Mar 2005 > /dreams > permalink > 1 comments

Thu, 03 Mar 2005

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red shifting galaxies

I came home today all-of-the-sudden completely fried. I'm working in yet another different place, and once again went through the rigors of the First Day™ The day went surprisingly, swimmingly well (as they say.) But as soon as I got home, I crashed on the couch and curled up into a fetal position.

I've been envious of babies lately. Although I must admit it must be really irritating to be a newborn still in the hospital. Every day they rip you away from your mother, unwrap you from your swaddling and strip off your clothing, and then apply a cold, unyielding stethoscope diaphragm to your chest, poke their fingers in your belly, grab your legs and try to dislocate your hips, flip you around, and twirl you in mid-air before finally putting you back. But even still.

Some days in the NICU actually made me want to have a kid. (Not a premie, mind you, but you get what you get.) But I think it was merely a manifestation of my desire to still be a kid.

Spending time with all those mothers and babies made me think that that relationship is probably one of the purest expression of love, in those first few hours and days after birth. That you will never be loved that well again in your entire life.

As they say: we enter life bloody, cold, wet, drowning in our own fluids, screaming in terror and in pain. And then things get worse.

I am ever the optimist.

Unfortunately, the side effect of hanging out with all those stupid babies is that it made me reflect on the fact that I won't ever be able to have one unless I can convince a woman to have one with me.

Which brings me to the topic at hand.

Yeah, I've been trying to avoid these thoughts, and I've been, up until recently, pretty content with being alone and beholden to no one. My sojourn alone up the Pacific Coast was really soul-cleansing, and I doubt it would've had that power if I'd had had anyone come along with me.

But, to steal another turn of phrase, reality continues to ruin my life.

I suppose I've never really gotten my mind out of these morbid thought. Consider the way I continued to ruminate about the disasters of the past. The Central Coast is rife with some brief but vivid memories, making me think of a life that I was destined not to have. I feel really silly for having so many vain hopes, so long ago. And I suppose that every time I fall into this black mood, I'm simply trying to stop myself from being that silly again.

I must say, though, that I have simply been around too many attractive women, hovering in that savage land of the Damned known as the Friend Zone™. It is, I suppose, ultimately an illness. A psychosis. A phobia that I can't seem to overcome. While the Friend Zone is not where I'd want to stay forever, as B would agree, it's familiar and it's safe.

"Familiar and safe" is simply a euphemism for "graveyard of souls."

So there is the woman who I know would freak out if she knew I felt that way about her. The woman who sees me as a brother, the ultimate Kiss of Death. The woman whom I've barely met who is guaranteed to be out of my reach in due time and is probably out of my reach anyway. The woman who I shared a grueling and torturous month with, as professional colleagues, with all the distance that this implies.

I suppose what this really reflects is the failure of my imagination. If my psyche were not so mutilated, I doubt I would be this hopeless. As long as you're alive, there's hope, and yet I can't seem to drill this simple concept into my head.

In an anti-solepsistic twist on things, I feel like everyone has a chance but me.

Shit. I am just asking for the Darwinistic cleaver machine to mow me down. Unfit to propagate.

Anyway. The reason I bring all of this up is that I randomly thought of an arcane metaphor for all this.

They are like stars. I mean, I don't know, did you ever think, as a kid, that you could just reach up into the sky and pluck out a star? Like a firefly or a spark? The ancients thought that they were jewels embedded on the dome of the firmament, not ordinarily reachable by humans, but only just barely out of reach. Certainly within the demense of heroes and gods. But then Galileo and Copernicus and Kepler and Newton threw that all out the window, and the stars were no longer in our neighborhood, becoming the background upon which the solipsistic dance of the planets occurred. Then Edwin Hubble, via Albert Einstein, discovers the ultimate shocker. The germinal seed of the Total Perspective Vortex. We are specks of dust living on a rock orbiting an unremarkable yellow star, one pinprick of light amidst the trillions of scattered balls of gas that illuminate the darkness. One indistinguishable speck embedded within a single pinwheel of gas and dust floating amidst an infinite sea of other pinwheels and dust blobs.

All of the sudden, the stars are ludicrously distant, the nearest one probably unreachable for another fifty generations at the least, if we don't manage to blow ourselves up.

And still their light shines upon us, glimmering, shimmering beautifully, unaware that they are gazed upon with awe by a little dust mote like me.

This is how I sometimes feel about women and relationships. To put it more succintly, as M once did: so close, and yet so far away.

Ah well. Better luck next lifetime, I suppose.

21:09:22 3 Mar 2005 > /soul > permalink > 0 comments

Sat, 26 Feb 2005

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lent

This season has traditionally been a time of giving up things, but perhaps because of Vatican II (when hippies apparently infiltrated the Catholic Church), when I was growing up in Catholic School, the emphasis was on making a life-affirming change. Instead of negative reinforcement, the idea was to do something positive. Instead of giving something up, the idea was to do something new to make oneself a better person or make the world a better place.

So in that spirit, I have vowed to not wallow in my dingy apartment on my days off. To that end, I actually went out last night (witness my barely coherent musings and the pathetic story fragment that it inspired.) And today, I decided to visit the Sea (which, as I have mentioned, I am completely obsessed with.)

Today I found myself in La Jolla. While there are better, less snobby beaches to go to, for some reason I was drawn there. Maybe it's simply because of the cliffs, reminding me of my mad trip up Highway 1. Maybe it's the traces of memories from those demented days when I would fly out to California from Chicago and spend time visiting my sister here. I don't know.

The thing I noticed is that the music on the radio really gets me down. I don't know why. Because I don't live that far away from work right now, I haven't been bringing my iPod with me, which may have been detrimental to my mental health. Now that I am listening to my own music again, I feel much better. I want to rationalize that it's because the hip-hop they play on the radio is dreary and appeals to base commercialism and materialism, while the hip-hop that I have on my iPod is typically life-affirming, cognizant of the Struggle, and/or cerebral. Conclusion: hip-hop on the radio sucks shit. Nothing we already didn't know.

So I wandered around the streets of La Jolla with my iPod on, and it really made a difference to my mood. I stayed out there until the sun was too low to provide any warmth, reading The Executive Brain: Frontal Lobes and the Civilized Mind on a bench overlooking the cove. The book really reinforces my suspicion that I suffered some subtle brain damage when they anesthetized me as a kid, given my general indecisiveness and the overwhelming inertia I feel when trying to start a project. It's probably no surprise to anyone who knows me well that I probably have some kind of brain damage. True, I may be highly functioning, but I've always maintained that I'm probably the stupidest smart guy you'll ever meet.

After that, I decided to go to Coronado, another site of decadence, where the affluent dwell. One of the places I work is actually in Coronado, so I ate at a familiar diner and browsed quickly through a familiar book store. By then the sun had set, so I headed home, a little weary, somewhat pathetically content that I at least didn't simply rot at home.

The question is, how long can I keep this up? Can I keep going for the next three months without having an entire weekend off?

Still, I suppose I don't really have any choice. Sink or swim, baby, sink or swim.

19:14:03 26 Feb 2005 > /soul > permalink > 3 comments

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ineptitude

He arrived at the club two hours late, hamstrung by his own scatter-mindedness, without any real hope that he would still find her there. But he headed out anyway into the night, amidst the teeming swarms of barhoppers and thrillseekers. There was a time when he would have revelled in the illicit goings-on of the night, the whoring and the drug-dealing, the generalized debauchery. But in this strange place, he only felt desolate, having been gone too long from this lifestyle.

He was unsure he would recognize her face on the barely lit dance floor, couples bumping and grinding to the sexually suggestive beats, the bass mimicking the undulations of lovers fucking. And then he spied her at one of the tables on the edge of the dance floor. But elation was quickly followed by ice-cold self-recrimination and self-loathing for his stupidity. She was wrapped around some guy with a tight, built body. Ah well he thought to himself, not really surprised. So this was probably her friend. He toyed with the notion of simply not approaching, then realized how ridiculous he was being. Indecision won the moment, so he bought himself a drink. "Shot of tequila," he told the bartender absently, and without salt or lime simply slugged it. Nothing he thought to himself. Not even a buzz. He ordered one after another and almost went for a fourth when he finally decided to pull himself together, nearly tripping in doing so. Here it goes, and he walked grimly to the table, swaying a little…

18:51:03 26 Feb 2005 > /3p-omni > permalink > 0 comments

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spammers must die (reprise)

So I've disabled trackbacks since some bastard has started pinging pr0n sites at me, which is not that great of a loss since no one has pinged me since I started using Blosxom as my blogging engine. I wish I could eviscerate these spamming scum.

18:35:09 26 Feb 2005 > /computers/www/blosxom > permalink > 0 comments

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translocation

I should've known better than to go to sleep drunk and without taking my meds.

One: having to wake up early enough to drive down to San Diego from L.A. and go to work. For some bizarre reason, I was on an OB-GYN rotation, and the hospital I was working at reminded me of Cook County Hospital in Chicago (minus the ER)

Two: in my dream, I learn that an undying but hopelessly unrequitable love is not entirely unrequited.

Three: me and my oldest friend have moved to Chicago, and we are wandering around Wicker Park, looking for somewhere to eat breakfast.

I hate it when I wake up more tired than when I went to sleep.

11:31:56 26 Feb 2005 > /dreams > permalink > 0 comments

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serious mental problems

Tomorrow is my first day off in 12 days. Without question, I believe that this has had a negative impact on my emotional status. This morning I had to all but drag myself out of bed and get into the shower, and I showed up to work 15 minuntes late, thinking of nothing but of the hour when I would get out and free myself from the shackles of daily drudgery.

The pathetic thing is that I only have one day off and then I get to go back to work on Sunday for 30 hours straight. Yipee.

There comes the question of "quality of life."


I reminisced about what was possibly one of the hardest months of my life. Dealing with death. Feeling responsible for death, even when realistically, there was nothing I could do. How I have willingly allowed my soul to be scarred. Like standing in front of the avalanche, trying to stop it with brute force, even though I know that it is utterly hopeless and futile.

And yet mental anguish has never managed to kill me. Debilitate me to the point of uselessness, perhaps, but I have never been able to take the knife to my chest and end this suffering. For better or for worse.


What I wonder is how you can lose something that you never had. It is with a heart-wrenching, sinking feeling that I have come to one of those moments that are simultaneously a hello and a goodbye. Those brief few hours spent with each other, exchanging inanities. Dreaming to myself what will certainly never be.

I didn't even have time to descend into my morbid self-doubt.

But yeah. Before I even got to know her, she's going to be gone. I doubt that the cumulative amount of time I've spent with her has equalled up to an entire day in these past three months, enough to make me wonder, but certainly no where near enough to know.

I suppose I should be content with potentiality, rather than demand certain hopelessness.

And I can't help but feel my life is going in neverending circles.

And still, I persist in claiming that I don't need anyone, and I'm perfectly fine here on my own. Which from a purely rational perspective is entirely true.

And yet there's this feeling of aching emptiness which I can't help but curse as ridiculous.

I suppose it's like being an emotional amputee. Feeling pain from a phantom source.

There's nothing to see here, folks. Just a tired young man who thinks he's a 109 years old.

Cryptic, I know. It's the best I can manage at 2am.

02:12:43 26 Feb 2005 > /soul > permalink > 2 comments

Mon, 21 Feb 2005

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worship

It being Lent and all, and me being a Catholic caught in the vortex of a now 4 year crisis of faith[1][2][3], I was watching Comedy Central today. Since it's Monday, the Daily Show wasn't on. Instead it was an old Damon Wayans stand-up routine. He got to talking about the hypocrisy of preachers, and how religion is just a way for people to commit evil acts and yet still feel good about themselves. And, inexplicably, I had the urge to want to go to Church.

But instead, I went to the Mall, which is, I suppose, the American equivalent of a Church. The Church of the Almighty Dollar. It struck me the number of happy couples walking around. Having spent winters in the Midwest for the past 5 years, where you really can't go outside for at least 5 months out of the year, I have forgotten that that's what people do when they can't think of anything else to do in California: wander around the Mall.

Of course, I ended up spending some money at Target, but, ah well, what can you. There is only one God, the Dollar, and his prophet is Adam Smith.

I swear. I'm not a Communist.

21:40:06 21 Feb 2005 > /soul > permalink > 0 comments

Sun, 20 Feb 2005

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hst

I can't remember the first time I ran into Hunter S. Thompson's work, but it was relatively recent, and it all started with "Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas." I think it might have been in the awful aftermath of the 2000 election which destroyed the American Republic. On first glance, the movie is incomprehensible, almost literally so. The lines are half-muttered, the characters addled on drugs, and insanity is the only logic to the course of events. Which, if you think about it, is really what the world is like. And in time I realized what "Fear and Loathing" was: a requiem for the American Dream. Not just the end of the freedom of the '60's, but a generalized regression. The loss of potentiality. The Republic finally failing against the forces of history and entropy, and decaying into Empire.

But HST led me down a path of self-discovery. If I had read The Rum Diary before I ended up going to med school, I might have just said "Fuck it" and pursued my dream of becoming a writer, locked in a rat hole of an apartment, staring at my keyboard, smoking a cigarette. Trying to make the words come together and to tell a story. (I dream hazily of that time in college, amidst what I now understand to be a prolonged major depressive episode. The few bits of happiness I remember were when I was working on a campus-based literary magazine, creativity locked up against the four walls of time and other obligations. The cigarette smoking, the booze, the weed, the camraderie, the trauma and the pain of lives intertwined, however briefly. As usual, I wax over-romantic. But, seriously, those were good times.)

HST was my John the Baptist, a voice of the generation past, crying out in the wilderness. In these bleak times, I wonder if there might still be hope for a Messiah to wrest us free from the shackles of Empire, but, despite what you read, HST was always about hope. How in a dark, filthy bathroom amidst the vomit and the shit, there was still some glimmer of humanity. Despite the dessicated structure and form of our now-imperial society, run by the suits, the point-haired bosses and other idiots with no souls, there are sparks of authenticity. Real people. People who yearn for more than that 3 bedroom house in the suburbs with the 2 car garage and the 2.5 children and keeping up with the Joneses and all the other acts of idiocy represented by a wasteful capitalistic machine society. People who truly desire freedom, who are channels of inspiration, who actually do make a difference without having to say so. Truly actors on the stage, not just the background scenery that most of us are.

In his writing, and in his friendship with Oscar Zeta Acosta, I found my way to the histories of the city of my birth that they tend to omit from the history books, the City of Angels, an occupied city, the indigenous designated as non-persons, and the invaders trying to rule the masses despite being the minority. In those seething '70's, the struggles of the Chicanos, as pervasive and soul-wrenching as the struggles of the Blacks in the '60's. The murder of Ruben Salazar. As I cruised down streets with names like Santa Monica and La Cienega, Figueroa and Sepulveda, and even older names like Cahuenga and Tujunga, it all made sense. The ebb and flow of Empires and Republics, of freedom and totalitarianism. Of conquest and of being colonized. It contextualized for me what was probably the most traumatic event of my adolescence, the L.A. Riots. It made me realize that this wasn't some one-off event, that this was part of the on-going struggle of freedom versus oppression.

It was HST who introduced me to the abomination that was Richard Nixon, the man who sought to rule the world, who perverted the laws of the land to achieve his goals. A harbinger of the things to come, I suppose. Although the neocons make Nixon look like a saint.

But there is just too much bile and ichor. Too many tears shed, too much blood shed, and in too many ways, it's like we haven't learned a god damned thing, determined to drive off that imperial cliff just like the British and the Romans before us.

A part of me is reluctant to believe that this was just suicide, or the result of some tragically bizarre accident.

One only needs think of Gary Webb to wonder about things to come and of things that might be. (And to juxtapose these real journalists with scum like Jeff Gannon. Fuck.)

But, whereever you are Dr. Thompson, know that there are still people fighting the good fight, mostly because we don't have any choice. Like the doomed Anglo-Saxons at the Battle of Maldon, we will fight to the death rather than live in a world run by treacherous thugs and men of no honor, people who want to bring a deadening homogeneity to the world. Not because of some hopeless deathwish, but because it'll be the only way to make sure that life is still one hell of a ride.

23:06:09 20 Feb 2005 > /soul > permalink > 0 comments

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bluetooth ipods

I knew it was only a matter of time. Bluetooth-enabled iPods. (It's only a rumor.)

21:24:09 20 Feb 2005 > /computers/macosx/ipod > permalink > 6 comments

Thu, 17 Feb 2005

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time flies

My most hated month, the dreaded month of February, is at once living up to all horrible expectations, but at the same time, isn't as bad as it could be.

For one thing, at least I'm not freezing my ass off.

I can deal with 50 degree mornings.

But I have grown obsessed with the sea.

My trip up PCH (aka California Highway 1) seems to be echoing through my soul. I finally finished Christopher Moore's Cambria (aka Pine Cove) Trilogy which includes Practical Demonkeeping, The Lust Lizard of Melancholy Cove, and The Stupidest Angel. (And I was also gratified to learn that Mr. Moore is an anti-redstater.) And I also ripped through Sideways, which, while perhaps a bit laden with cliche and not a little misogyny, was still pretty decent, and indeed reminded me of the flavor of the Central Coast.

Ah, the Central Coast. I'm not really sure I could live there, only because I know there are some sheet-wearing, ignorant-ass, racists lurking in the bucolic pastures and meadows. But that is another story.

On my partial weekend off, I grew obsessed with the fact that the Santa Monica Mountains, whose eastern end, Mt. Hollywood, faces my parent's house, runs straight west and off into the ocean, becoming the Northern Channel Islands, which includes Anacapa, Santa Cruz, Santa Rosa, and San Miguel. Given the proximity of the hill that my parents live on to Mt. Hollywood, I wonder if my parents' hill is part of the same piece of rock. I descended into websites dedicated to geology, learned that the Palos Verdes Peninsula used to be an island until the San Andreas Fault raised up the Los Angeles Basin from sea level.

On Sunday, I helped my dad and my brother take my uncle and my godmother to LAX, after which I was to head off back to San Diego. But, as the sun glowered in the western sky, I decided to head west down the Imperial Highway (which immediately makes me think of centurions and conquistadors and colonialism) and ended up on the shore, which really didn't have anywhere nice to stop. The entire coastal route was lined by chemical factories and petroleum refineries, and the view didn't much improve until I got to Manhattan Beach. Eventually, I decided to get out of my car at Hermosa Beach, where I watched the sun dip behind the clouds and the sky turn dark purple above the crashing waves. To the north, the Santa Monica Mountains seemed to head west off into infinity, and to the south, I could see the Palos Verdes Peninsula and the dark, hazy shadow of Catalina Island (which is a place that I want to return to someday, to try to recapture the very fleeting sense of happiness I had there as a teen-ager.)

Since it was growing late, and would soon be my bed time (since these days, I have to get to sleep by 8pm if I wanted to be up and functional the next day at work), I thought I would just get on the monstrous 405 and head back to S.D. Instead, I foolishly took a detour down Palos Verdes Drive and cruised down the seashore. By then it was pitch black, but I could makeout the lights of the city of Santa Monica and of Malibu to the north, and could later see the flickering lights of Avalon, the one-square mile settlement on the northern shore of Santa Catalina. I don't know what it is about islands. I don't believe in racial memory, but these sensations make me wonder sometimes. Is there something in my blood inherited by my ancestry that gets stimulated by the sight of the sea, and the idea of island-hopping?

I returned to civilization on the southern portion of San Pedro, wondering faintly if I could possibly live there. In San Pedro, I could still have that feeling of insularity, sheltered from the ravenous megalopolis, but still be technically in the City of Los Angeles. (I certainly don't want to live in the suburbs on the Palos Verdes Peninsula itself.) In any case, I drove across the Vincent Thomas Bridge, the only suspension bridge in Southern California, skimmed by Downtown Long Beach and headed down the 405.

For that short while, I was happy.

One day, I will learn how to sail, and I will buy a boat, damn the rest of the world.

Until then, I need to promise to myself that I will visit the ocean whenever possible.

18:01:06 17 Feb 2005 > /soul > permalink > 2 comments

Sun, 13 Feb 2005

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GNOME 2.9.91 build order

This entry is obsolete. Please see GNOME 2.10.0 build order.

GNOME 2.10 beta 2 has been released. There are a few new packages since 2.9.90 (2.10 beta 1)

  1. glib 2.6.2
  2. atk 1.9.0
  3. pango 1.8.0
  4. gtk+ 2.6.2
  5. at-spi 1.6.2
  6. libart2 2.3.17
  7. libglade 2.5.0
  8. libgnomecanvas 2.9.1
  9. gail 1.8.2
  10. libIDL 0.8.4
  11. ORBit 2.12.0
  12. libbonobo 2.8.1
  13. libgnomeprint 2.8.2
  14. libgnomeprintui 2.8.2
  15. gconf 2.9.2
  16. gnome-mime-data-2.4.2
  17. howl 0.9.10
  18. gnome-vfs 2.9.91
  19. audiofile 0.2.6
  20. esound 0.2.35
  21. libgnome 2.9.1
  22. libbonoboui 2.8.0
  23. libgnomeui 2.9.1

14:08:32 13 Feb 2005 > /computers/gnome > permalink > 0 comments

Sun, 06 Feb 2005

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stress ulcers

it is 9:30pm, and I have to be awake again in 6½ hours, and I basically pissed away an entire weekend off.

well maybe I'm being a little harsh on myself. I did sleep quite a bit. I also felt sick as fuck and like complete ass yesterday.

I most likely have a horrific case of gastroenteritis (yes, too much information, I know) and it feels like my intestines are trying to wriggle out of my belly, but now, since I took a 4 hour nap between 2pm and 6pm, I can't seem to get to bed.

This sucks.

I am currently reading The Lust Lizard of Melancholy Cove by Christopher Moore, another of his books set in Cambria, AKA Pine Cove. I recently finished reading Practical Demonkeeping and will probably go on to read Sideways which is not by Moore, does not have supernatural goings-on, and is not set in Cambria, although it is set in the Santa Ynez Valley, which is, while farther south, still on the Central Coast. Yes, I've heard the accolades and the hype about the movie, but since I spied the novel at B&N (where I found Lust Lizard) I figured I'd have a look.

I've been thinking about the time I spent wandering the Central Coast. I worry that I spend way too much time by myself. A small part of me worries that this is completely unhealthy, and that it may very well be the first step on that long descent into clinical insanity.

Then I wonder which class of perenially single people I fall under: am I a quirkyalone, or am I a full-fledged loner outcast&the type of person that everyone worries is really a psychopathic killer.

Which is all a very roundabout way of saying: what am I doing with my life?


Despite my avowed disdain for making plans, I realize that for the 1st 20 or so years of my life, I was driven by one single goal: to become a physician. Whether or not this was a good idea or not is sort of moot at this point, but I am totally having one of those existential moments. I've brought this up before. If you've ever watched "The Princess Bride," you might remember Iñigo Montoya's existential quandry at the end of the movie. He had been so intent on revenge for so many years of his life that now that he had achieved it, he really didn't know what to do with himself.

Yeah, I guess the lesson of that movie is that I could always become the Dread Pirate Roberts.

But seriously. What's next?

Oh sure, I still have to finish my residency, which is going to be another rs and five months of ball-busting agony, but, while I am under the yoke and the whip, I figure I've got to have some sort of carrot leading me onward.

What is that carrot?

Oh sure, there are the traditional, normal things. Money, power, love. A good paying job, a nice house out in the suburbs, a family, 2.5 children. The good ol' American Dream. But you and I know that I could never stand such inanity, at least not for long, and, sure, part of that is the finite probability that I will never meet someone that would be willing to procreate with me.

After all, this isn't exactly the ideal world to raise children in. Especially not if this country regresses into a racist, homophobic utopia for fat white guys, which it seems to be in danger of doing.

But, then what?

Here is where I finally confront the heart of the matter and recognize what exactly lies inside my heart.

I guess this is the carrot, as mundane as it may be. I need to finish my residency, get a decent paying job, and pay off my loans before life passes me by completely.

And assuming that nothing manages to derail me on the way (which is basically another way of taunting God or the Fates to kick me in the crotch and give me a nice wedgie), I guess I can do this in 10-14 years. Maybe sooner if I can rein in my extravagant spending habits. And if I can keep my sex drive repressed by psychotropic medication.

Sick, sad, but effective.

Shit.

So that's where I am. Making a decision to go down the path that I probably should've just gone down years ago, instead of having to face me fears of inadequacy, realize that I should actually probably pursue my dreams instead of simply fulfill other people's expectation, and then now have to come up with an escape plan from a prison of misery of my own making.

OK, OK. So I don't hate what I'm doing that much, but, months like these, I know that I'd much rather be writing than spending 36 hours locked up inside a hospital.

Ah well. It's all perspective.

21:56:18 6 Feb 2005 > /soul > permalink > 0 comments

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cortical stack

Like many aspiring authors often do, I had a "hey, I thought of that" moment. This occurred while reading Broken Angels by Richard Morgan, the second book about Takeshi Kovacs, a Japanese-Slavic mercenary from a colony world 100+ light years from Earth who used to be a U.N. Envoy, which, contrary to its diplomatic connotation, really describes someone who has been trained to be a preternatural super-killing machine.

But the idea that I had once upon a time which I have since failed to complete as a novel is akin to the cortical stack in Morgan's books.

What is the cortical stack? It is basically the human equivalent of an airplane's black box machine, except more sophisticated in that you can retrieve the person's consciousness and reimplant it into either a computer or another human body, thereby wondrously bypassing death. Sure, you can still melt the cortical stack to slag, causing Real Death™, but people can go on for centuries without running into that kind of problem.

I was actually going to use a similar device in a Fantasy story with SF trappings. Swords and sorcery mixed up with a little interstellar technology here and there. I was going to call the device (for lack of imagination) a soul catcher. My protagonist would find the soul catcher of a particularly nasty demi-god-like character who harbored a genocidal rage against the inhabitants of this world. It would have been guarded for centuries, with very few people even understanding what the thing is anymore. Set against the backdrop of a corrupt Republic that was on the verge of being twisted into an Empire (how original, I know), the chaos of war allows the thing to get lost, and strange forces become allied to try to retrieve what they think is a powerful artifact which is in fact the very consciousness of an evil persona who was thought to have been long-ago vanquished and who is now looked upon as more of a character out of mythology.

Anyway, my soul catcher is basically just like the cortical stack, except for some details of storage and reimplantation. Ah well, maybe I'll use it anyway. If I ever make any progress on my story.

13:11:29 6 Feb 2005 > /3p-omni > permalink > 0 comments

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mac mini

Now, mind you, I don't have one of these myself, although I am currently saving up for it. A review of the Mac Mini entitled "The Emperor's New Computer" has been penned by Jorge Lopez, a Microsoft Certified Systems Engineer, which rehashes a lot of strawmen arguments about Apple Computers in general that have been circulating since the early '90's by Windows/x86 die-hards. I couldn't help wonder if this wasn't a piece of satire, since the arguments are way off base.

Some of these arguments are truly ridiculous. Take the criticism that the Mini lacks PS/2 ports, parallel ports, and (I assume, DB-9) serial ports. Seriously, what modern peripheral does not plug into a USB port? Are you really going to want to attach your circa 1995 PS/2 mouse, keyboard and Centronics parallel printer to a computer built in 2005? A decent USB optical mouse and keyboard can be had for $20-$30 total. And who really still uses 3.5" 1.44 MB floppies? A 128 MB USB Flash drive can be had for the cost of 20 floppies these days.

The lack of expansibility is perhaps a more reasonable criticism, but then again, Apple is not marketing the Mini as a full-on computer. It is marketing it as an appliance, a media center. It has the same sort of satellite relationship a gaming console (such as, for example, the XBox) has to a full desktop and/or notebook computer. These machines are not meant to replace your personal computer. And if you really want to, although it is more expensive then merely popping in a 3.5" hard drive into an open drive bay, you can daisy chain 127 external drives via Firewire, or you can connect them by USB 2.0.

I can't believe he knocks the fact that it makes no noise while operating. Isn't this what everyone wants? What kind of moron doesn't know if they turned an appliance on? Early gaming consoles didn't have fans that made noise, and 8 year old children were competent enough to know that the damn thing was on. Come on!

His mischaracterization of MacOS X is really ridiculous, though. He is trying to argue that MacOS X is not as advanced as Windows, never bringing up the fact that MacOS X is in fact a UNIX variant (techinically, more so than Linux is, but we won't get into that right now.) Meaning that it is technology that has stood the test of time, the type of OS you can depend on in mission-critical scenarios. (OK, so you might not be screwing around with a GUI when you are in truly mission-critical scenarios, but, hey this is UNIX, you can boot into a command-line if you are truly hackerish.)

And since the early 1990s, just exactly what sort of application can you run on Windows that you can't run on MacOS? There are MacOS X versions of Microsoft Office, all industry standard desktop publishing and image processing programs are available for MacOS X, many advanced video editing and audio editing programs are only available for MacOS X, and if you really need to run Minesweeper or Solitaire in all it's crashable glory, you can run WinXP on top of Virtual PC (which, by the way, is now a Microsoft product.)

Yes, I know. The argument is games. But, really, this is a marketing and economic issue. There is no techinical reason you can't play games on a Mac. The typical performance bottleneck in a first-person shooter is the video card, but Macs use the same AGP video cards that x86-based systems use. Hell, one of the first person shooters ever created (Marathon, written by Bungee, the company responsible for the wildly popular Halo series) was written exclusively for the Mac, and this was in the early '90's Sure, it's a pain in the ass to port code written for DirectX APIs to anything else, but the limitation is economic, not technical. Just look at the popular games that have been ported to Mac OS and even to Linux: Civilizations, Warcraft III, even Halo. But honestly, if you're really a die-hard gamer, and you're into more than just first-person shooters like Half-Life, you really should be getting a game console and not screwing around with your computer that is likely to BSOD at a critical juncture in the game before you even saved.

The e-mail criticism is bizarre as well. Mail.app is a really excellent mailreader, especially when you consider it comes with the OS, unlike Outlook (the full version.) And if you really want to run Microsoft software, there's nothing stopping you from installing Microsoft Entourage, which I understand is actually superior to Microsoft Outlook.

What is really laughable is the criticism of the lack of antivirus software, defragmenter, and registry cleaner. While I recognize that Macs are not immune to viruses, UNIX systems are simply more robust. Consider that the Internet is run mostly by computers running a variant of UNIX. MacOS X makes the wise choice of not allowing the newbie user to run around as root, unlike Windows, which gives the first user account admin privileges, allowing one to trash one's computer willy-nilly. Without root access/admin privileges, it is pretty difficult to spread viruses and worms. Not to say that it's not impossible, just that it's less likely.

With a modern filesystem like HFS+, what in hell do you need a defragmenter for? Sure, fragmentation happens, but it is not the performance sucking problem that it is with FAT16 or FAT32. Note that NTFS (another modern filesystem) needs far less attention to defragmentation than it's DOS-based cousins.

The lack of a registry cleaner could be a problem, although, again, access to the Netinfo Registry is limited to the admin (i.e., you need to explicity type your password if you or a program wants to make changes.) You can't just blindly mangle your registry like you can on Windows, and there are very few reasons why a newbie would want to go mucking around in Netinfo.

I do not foresee the Mini getting unstable and slow in a couple of months. I've known users who have uptimes of a couple of months—i.e., not rebooting— with very little performance loss.

I do wonder what sort of software this guy is running. If a particular package doesn't exist, I am certain there is an equivalent, hell maybe even a Free or Open Source equivalent. And if you're really missing all those performance-killing gewgaws and doodads swirling around in your web browser, go ahead an install Mozilla Firefox and it's plugins. With regards to keeping track your passwords, it's built into the OS. Keychain.app will track your web passwords, e-mail passwords, and certificates if you want it to.

This is where the article descends into what may well be a gotcha. The author makes such absurd claims that perhaps this is a subtly written piece of satire, and the last few paragraphs is the "Ha-ha, fooled you into taking me seriously." For example, take how he tries to install MS Office for Windows onto a Mac. Or the fact that he mindlessly refers to the hard drive as C:\, which means nothing to a system that is not based on MS-DOS. Who the hell wants to run IE 5.2 anyway, which is ancient, not standards compliant, and which might actually open up your Mac to serious security risks? Run Safari, run Firefox. You've got choices. IE is a piece of trash that's not going to be updated until Microsoft releases Longhorn.

And then the fact that most of the software he runs is simply stuff that keeps his computer from otherwise crashing. Sad.

Anyway, I figure anyone who is going to buy a Mini knows exactly what they're going to use it for. For a file server/media center (mp3 player, photo storage, DVD player, etc.) that can be effortlessly added to a LAN (Rendevous/Zeroconf, baby!) $499 is not a bad price at all, and you don't need to assemble it yourself or try to hunt down obscure drivers for your cut-rate no-name Taiwanese peripherals. If you really hate Mac OS, you can probably easily get Linux to run on it. What more could a real hacker ask for? Sure, the stylishness might be a minus in that regard, but hey, nothings perfect.

12:08:13 6 Feb 2005 > /computers/macosx > permalink > 0 comments

Wed, 02 Feb 2005

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hi-ho, hi-ho, it's off to work i go

so endeth my gloriously noneventful vacation. I am apprehensive about surviving the next 4 months, which are likely to be quite grueling and mind-bending, but nothing lasts forever, I guess.

I am, once again, procrastinating.

God save me from myself.

08:52:25 2 Feb 2005 > /soul > permalink > 6 comments

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last dance for half a year (the theory of many-worlds)

in the background the soundtrack of my private despair

dream of gazing into your eyes, light glimmering those stray photons etching like laser light into the hidden dimensions of my heart

nonsense tumbles from my lips like verbal troglodytes misshapen, ugly, and needlessly brutal I am tumbling through space flailing wildly, trapped in my own vortex forever hiding my desire

the conversation spins and spirals I am mesmerized, enchanted the space between us unravels, splays out into cold, immeasurable distance

to die numb and unfeeling light fading, the false warmth of frostbite alone in this merciless maelstrom this unforgiving tempest I see my doom wrought in the golden thread of the Fates reaching into infinity, unraveled, unfettered, unbound

in the blackness of empty space I can only dream of the life I was not destined to.

08:49:48 2 Feb 2005 > /poetry > permalink > 0 comments

Mon, 31 Jan 2005

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redesign

I got tired of the way my old site looked. I was never really happy with it, actually. So this is what I've been working on for the past week in fits and starts. The actual amount of time I worked on it probably adds up to no more than a couple of hours at most, but what took up most of the time was the setup. Which is what most rational people would call procrastination.

I don't know what my problem is. I always have to go through some elaborate and excruciatingly painful mental ordeal before I can start a task, no matter how inane and superfluous the task is. Typically, the "setup" takes at least five times more time than the actual task itself.

anyway. I decided to go with the "less is more" dictum. Of course, I'll be perpetually tweaking it until I break it or until I decide I'm sick of dealing with it.

the lengths I go to torture myself are breathtaking sometimes.

11:53:20 31 Jan 2005 > /meta > permalink > 1 comments

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GNOME build order

This entry is obsolete. See GNOME 2.9.91 build order for updates.

I'm trying to build GNOME for MacOSX via Fink, so I'm documenting the process by which I built the packages, and the .info and .patch files.

  1. glib 2.6.1
  2. atk 1.9.0
  3. pango 1.8.0
  4. gtk+ 2.6.1
  5. at-spi 1.6.2
  6. libart2 2.3.17
  7. libglade 2.5.0
  8. libgnomecanvas 2.9.1
  9. gail 1.8.2
  10. libIDL 0.8.4
  11. ORBit 2.12.0
  12. libbonobo 2.8.0
  13. libgnomeprint 2.8.2
  14. libgnomeprintui 2.8.2
  15. gconf 2.9.2
  16. gnome-mime-data-2.4.2
  17. howl 0.9.10
  18. gnome-vfs 2.9.90
  19. audiofile 0.2.6
  20. esound 0.2.35
  21. libgnome 2.9.1
  22. libbonoboui 2.8.0
  23. libgnomeui 2.9.1
  24. libgail-gnome 1.1.0

10:23:39 31 Jan 2005 > /computers/gnome > permalink > 0 comments

Thu, 27 Jan 2005

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time runs out

Currently Playing: The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou Original Soundtrack

So today is my last day in this isolated place. I really didn't do much at all today. I ended up buying a sweater because I just realized that I went up to Central and Northern California in January without a sweater or a jacket. Very stupid. So I ended up paying an arm and a leg, but at least now I have a souvenir of this silly trip.

I also drove around the residential areas of town just to have a look around, and walked along the cliffs overlooking the ocean. Nothing too exciting. Today was the day I was supposed to have some creative output, but that unsurprisingly didn't happen, and I instead ended up surfing the web as usual. Sucky.

I at least ripped through a couple of books these past few days. All nerdy stuff, of course. I finally read Altered Carbon by Richard Morgan, which is set in a futuristic San Francisco. The McGuffin is that death has essentially been abolished, as people can simply upload their personalities into new bodies (for a price, of course) but in essence, it is a detective story. Very cyberpunk and Bladerunner-esque. I then read The Stupidest Angel by Christopher Moore, who happens to have once lived in Cambria. In fact, the setting he uses in this book is Cambria, except that he gives it the pseudonym of Pine Cove. It was very entertaining to be reading it while actually being here. It made me wonder about some of the locals I came across. Finally, I zipped through Faster than Light which is a non-fiction book written by Joao Magueijo who is a Portuguese physicist who is intent on one-upping Albert Einstein himself. The guy's sense of humor is over-the-top, and he not only discusses science in layman terms, but also lashes out at the academic establishment using quite colorful language. I found myself laughing my ass off. The book also made me regret the fact that I never learned calculus—if I had, I might have become a physicist, but then again, I don't think I have the temperament for the cutthroat world of academia.

All in all, it's been quite a relaxing stay. I've done as close to nothing as I think is humanly possible. I really don't think I'm ready to return to civilization quite yet. Ah well.

21:28:23 27 Jan 2005 > /soul > permalink > 0 comments

Wed, 26 Jan 2005

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atascadero and back

I realized that I didn't have my charger for my phone (I swear I brought it with me) so I had to go and get one. This required me to go inland.

Playlist for the journey:

  1. Brian Eno - Deep Blue Day
  2. Dream Academy - Please, Please, Please, Let Me Get What I Want (this is the instrumental version that they play in "Ferris Bueller's Day Off" while they're traipsing through the Art Institute in Chicago, which is a cover of the Smiths)
  3. M83 - In Church (Cyann & Ben Version)

So nothing exciting there. Highway 46 from Highway 1 to Highway 101 is very pretty, particularly after the rains, with the verdant grass and the low-lying clouds. It's about 26 miles or so, not too windy. A lot of the Central Coast wineries are along side this highway, but I have yet to stop at any of them. I don't remember what year exactly that was, but at least 10 years ago or so, I went down this highway with my family to go see Hearst Castle, which is disgustingly opulent, but I guess worth seeing once in your life. (I forget how much admission was.)

Right before sunset, I decided to go find the Point Piedras Blancas lighthouse, which is, unfortunately, not open to the public. I did, however, get to watch the elephant seals and watch the sun set with the lighthouse in view.

It is apparently mating season among the seals, and it is really easy to tell the difference between males and females. Males have a characteristic snout which earned them the name of elephant seals, while females don't. One of the males was trumpeting and trying to approach some of the females, no doubt in an attempt to copulate. The females would bellow in protest, try to bite the male, and fling sand at his eyes. This happened with three different females. The male eventually gave up, moved away from the females, and lay on the sand like a log. I couldn't help but feel sympathetic. Heh.

18:26:26 26 Jan 2005 > /soul > permalink > 1 comments

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executive dysfunction syndrome

it's bizarre how they pretty much have a name for everything, how it has become fashionable to call every little personality quirk a syndrome.

take executive dysfunction, for example. it refers to a kind of frontal lobe problem, basically a sub-type and/or differential diagnosis for ADHD. it really just means those times when you have too many things to do or so many choices to make that you don't know what to do next and so you just freeze up and let everything go to hell.

so now we enter the whole nurture-vs-nature debate. whenever someone coins a fancy name like ADHD or executive dysfunction syndrome, the next thing that comes up is, whose fault is it? (and the lawyers come of the woodwork…)

but that is beside the point at this stage.

as they say, you can't put the shit back into the horse.

of course, it's easy to rationalize and point to my procrastinating tendencies as the root cause of all my problems, which is kind of silly. i know for a fact that i can cure myself of my procrastination and still have a lot of problems. problems are like the molecules of an ideal gas: they expand as necessary to fill up the entire space.

it's hard to want to cure myself of my malady, too. after all, i've gotten by these 28 years OK. sure, there have been plenty of rough spots and tight squeezes, but that's life, right?

the problem with this particular malady is that it fucks with motivation. try as one might, it would be hard to get me to change without some serious jedi mind tricks, or maybe electroconvulsive therapy. with a problem like this, someone could threaten to kill me if i don't fix my problem, and i'd probably just lock up and let them shoot me in the head right there.

such is the nature of this beast.

shit.

one of these days i'm just going to have to figure things out, grow up, and act like a responsible adult.

right.

09:54:10 26 Jan 2005 > /soul > permalink > 5 comments

Tue, 25 Jan 2005

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how the story ends

So I finished reading through most of the e-mail I sent to N when we broke up. It's kind of funny to be reading just half the conversation and yet still getting the full emotional impact without knowing what the response was.

It's also kind of weird to be reading your own writing from a truly detached perspective. I am certainly not the same person who wrote those sad, heart-wrenching, gut-churning missives. I may still be currently clinically depressed, but I've also got a decades worth of baggage on top of it all.

I am clearly going to be alone for the rest of my life. Ah well.

What is sad and pathetic is that in my chronological writing—from e-mails to the handwritten notes I kept to my blog in its multiple incarnations, I just keep coming back to the topic of how hopelessly alone I feel, how wretched this singular existence is, and how helpless I feel about being able to do anything about it.

What I have recently accepted is that I just don't want to deal with it. In some ways, it's a manifestation of executive dysfunction syndrome. Of knowing precisely what I have to do, and yet not doing it. It's not just this, not just meeting people. It's a lot of things. I realize that the way I have learned to cope with stress is to freeze up when there's too much pressure on me. To just fall apart.

It's amazing that I've gone through all of these disasters, many at least partially caused by my own hand, still to have made some plodding progress in life. Looking back, I sort of wonder how I managed to escape psychotherapy. You'd think that someone as depressed or at least as dysthymic as I am would've been noticed. It's easy to wallow in self-pity and say that it's just that no one cares, but maybe if I hadn't been so highly functioning, they would've picked me up.

Sometimes I wonder if being put under general anesthesia as a little kid didn't nuke parts of my brain.

Whatever. It's the hand I'm dealt, I guess.

22:35:04 25 Jan 2005 > /soul > permalink > 0 comments

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masochism

On R's advice (as you can see, I am very suggestible), I headed up to the Central Coast and am hanging around Cambria and vicinity (which includes such places as Cayucos, San Simeon, Morro Bay, San Luis Obispo, Atascadero, Templeton, and Paso Robles, among others.) Mostly, I just want to stare at the sea. (There is clearly something very wrong with me.)

I was supposed to take this time and focus my thoughts. Maybe try to figure out what I need to do with my life. Maybe even put some ideas down to paper (or at least HTML.) Ambitious things like that.

Instead, I find myself combing through old things I have written and then abandoned, briskly written snippets that fail to develop plot or character, or skeletal summaries of what I want to happen, with very little actual text to back it up. This activity has rapidly degenerated into reading old e-mails. I actually have a lot of messages archived all the way back to 1998. I have some stray e-mails from college (1994-1998) but most of them I wiped out deliberately. Lots of painful, ridiculous shit. Interestingly, though, I have a pretty thorough archive of the e-mails I composed in 1995 and 1996. These chronicle my disastrous breakup with N and my subsequently even more disastrous infatuation with A. After that, my non-existent love life is documented mostly on paper, although I've blogged a few pointless episodes here and there.

I must say, it is interesting to note how I have dealt with a decade of being alone.

In other words, I haven't learned a goddamned thing.

But reading through those tortured e-mails is really interesting from a textual point-of-view. The progression from those blood-drenched, tear-stained epistles of utter despair, to my initial foray into blogging, to my current writing style is kind of amusing to observe. In a lot of ways, my writing has actually changed for the worse. But I think I am a lot saner now. I've still got a full-blown Axis I disorder to contend with, but at least now I'm on medication. Heh.

I was suffering from a little trepidation. I've been asking myself what the hell I'm doing here in Cambria, but now I think it's for the best. It's a nice isolated place where no one can bother me (because my cel phone has absolutely no reception) And I can stare at the sea until I'm cross-eyed. There were perhaps other ways to achieve this sense of solitude, but I'm satisfied. Thanks, R.

20:41:36 25 Jan 2005 > /soul > permalink > 9 comments

Sun, 16 Jan 2005

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last unicorn

My top result for the SelectSmart.com selector,
Which Last Unicorn character are you?,
is Prince Lir

Figures.

"And all for nothing," he said. "I cannot touch her, whatever I do."

14:41:30 16 Jan 2005 > /blog-bites/quizilla > permalink > 7 comments

Sat, 15 Jan 2005

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she looks

where did that come from, that look, like "yikes!" or "i don't know what's going to happen, but we'll find out soon enough," like lightning flash, freeze framing everything searing it into my retinas recognition like an elbow to the head where have i seen that before a hundred lifetimes ago perhaps this infinitely unraveling distance between us sending me spinning and twirling out into space no, not us, there is no us but this memory of a dream and the things that I've happened to pin upon your visage shimmering in my mind half-remembered things that never were striking true in some backhanded fashion

i wake from my dreams frightened whether good or ill not remembering which way the world is supposed to turn has my dream ended, and have I wakened? or do i sleep, and still dream?

i still don't know what's going to happen but, as you've never said to me, we'll find out soon enough

21:47:36 15 Jan 2005 > /poetry > permalink > 3 comments

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more to life

I feel really out of sync right now. I just don't feel right, and it's nothing I can explicate by blogging. I feel like I need to sit still upon it, bore holes into the issue, and figure out where I'm going wrong.

Whether it's the madness of the past year that has finally caught up to me, the legendary wall looming up ahead, or whether it's simply the fact that things have been so tight that I haven't even been able to keep up with my medication, in some ways, I feel like I'm falling to pieces, and I just don't know why.

Thank God I have a vacation coming up. I don't know how I'm going to survive these next 4 days of work.

21:30:26 15 Jan 2005 > /soul > permalink > 8 comments

Wed, 12 Jan 2005

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goodbye

My dog died two weeks ago.

She was pretty old, having just turned 14, and she had been sick for quite a while. I only really saw her when I'd come home to visit, and I guess I feel guilty for not playing with her and paying attention to her as much as I could.

I've been really busy lately, I haven't had time to think about it, but I really miss her, even though I know she's lived quite a long life for a dog her size, even though I took her for granted in her twilight years. There is something sadly missing when I come home now.

In the end, I guess it just reminds me of my own mortality. At 28, you would think this would be the last thing on my mind, but I guess this past month has been pretty emotionally trying at the hospital. Three of the patients I took care of died, two of whom went to the ICU, one of whom had a cardiac arrest (which was what ended up sending him to the unit.) All three of them had been previously well—for their aga—and highly functioning in terms of activities of daily living. Two of them, I still don't really know what killed them, and I'm not sure if anyone really does.

One of the cases I think really affected me in ways that I am not effectively expressing. I spent a lot of time working on him, and I talked to his family pretty much daily, and I was (perhaps foolishly) hopeful. This guy was only 49, and he ended up dying on Christmas Day, when his family decided to withdraw care in the ICU after he had had a cardiac arrest. I was the first one there at the code, and I remember feeling completely helpless, not knowing what to do. It was probably no more than a few seconds before someone else showed up to run the code, but those few seconds felt like eternity. That's all I really remember about those 30 hours of call that night—that sinking feeling of not knowing what to do,of feeling helpless and stupid and just feeling hopelessly tired.

Self-doubt, guilt, abject depression. Those are some of the emotions that I carry from that day. My dog dying sort of just topped it all off.

We all die. That's probably the only certain thing in our lives. (I suppose they say taxes are just as inevitable, too.) I think it's twisted how Western society, and American society in particular have managed to turn a perfectly normal part of life into this ugly horrible thing.

I wish we weren't all so afraid of it.

I think about the story my mom and dad tell me of my dog's last days, of how she was in too much pain to even get out of her doghouse, how she wouldn't eat. How they just found her lying cold and still, how she probably succumbed when no one was around. The Department of Sanitation carried off her corpse. All that's left in the yard is her house, and that palpable emptiness.

14 years, 49 years, and certainly 75 years are long times, and still, death seems like "Poof!" and it's all gone.

Where do all those thoughts and feelings go? That's what I wonder. What is the awful, profound process by which matter goes from being sentient to just a pile of flesh?

Morbid stuff.

In the end, I hate feeling so helpless. There's nothing I could've done to stop any of these deaths, and yet, for some reason, I feel like I should've done something. I'm not so solipsistic to think, "why bother?" because I know that no matter what, every tiny thing makes a difference, but I'm at a loss to explain what happened to me this past month.

Suicidal depression just seems like a selfish luxury these days.

I feel fucking old, and it has nothing to do with the number of years that have elapsed thus far.

22:43:08 12 Jan 2005 > /soul > permalink > 5 comments

Mon, 10 Jan 2005

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silence

brain gasps, grasps, futile struggle, gripping, fingers digging, crumble fall

we spin so far out of control, brute force of a landslide, an avalanche crushing gravity

even light cannot escape

still my soul glitters like the spewed-forth remnants of a giant supernova star guts strewn across the heavens like a gruesome motorcycle accident or mauling by a lion God's entrails hanging from its mouth

even in beauty there is a reminder of death

spend all of life avoiding the only thing worth wanting the tired silence of the grave regrets not of life but of not living

the seconds pass like tiny diamonds falling into the drainpipe into the sewer flushed down like shit and toiletpaper gold scattered about carelessly like dandelion fluff like cigarette butts and ashes

Do I grieve the inevitable? that final passage into the long, dark loneliness of forever? Or do I weep that I have nothing to fill this time with but lifeless words dropped like cold stone from my lips

22:36:31 10 Jan 2005 > /poetry > permalink > 0 comments

Sat, 01 Jan 2005

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reason

what is it like to have that sense of purpose, that burning force, that blessed fire, that animates your sinews? what is it like to desire, keeping you whole even against the shearing forces of adversity, the crushing weight of the universe, the downward pull of futility?

what is it like to be driven by the brilliant clarity of wanting, even against insurmountable odds, even against all reason? what is it like—i think i knew once upon a time, before time itself grew treacherous—to be able to hope when there is no hope?

the will to fight, when fate tries to suffocate you, when fortune seeks to break every bone in your body?

i am much too young and certainly nowhere near wise enough to be considered old, but definitely not young enough to not know any better. these days, i just want to lie down and grow still, let destiny maul me, let inevitability rend me limb from limb, scattering the sparks of my soul, flickering out and fading into bitter ash.

if i still knew how to dream, days like today wouldn't faze me at all.

23:38:34 1 Jan 2005 > /soul > permalink > 0 comments

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not feeling right

maybe it's just the fact that i've slept 2 hours, no more than 15 minutes contiguously, in the past 40 hours, but i keep getting this "squeaky" feeling in my head, kind of like the sound of metal scraping against metal. the hypochondriac in me keeps worrying about blowing a blood vessel in my brain, but i really don't feel good.

22:45:55 1 Jan 2005 > /soul > permalink > 0 comments