When I'm trying to watch my breath, and keep focused on it, it is very difficult. I feel like the guy in Momento (which doesn't seem to have an internet presence at all or else I'd link to something anything, weird) scrambling around the room looking for a pen, anything to remind me for more than my memory's worth that I am watching my breath, because it always happens so stealthily that I stop thinking about breath and start thinking about something else. It's like trying to have Phoebe, our cat, calm down and allow us to pet her. I hold her and pet pet pet, trying to get her to stay where she is and purr, but she is thinking of something else and soon she walks away, except in yoga I am myself and Phoebe, unable to convince myself to stay calm, always just waiting for the opportunity to jump off the couch and maybe smell the new table or find something to play with.
I'm trying to get Amazon to pay for my yoga teacher to come to our work a day or two during the week and teach it there for us. She just quit her day job and is trying to make a living from yoga teaching alone, so this would be good.
Work is getting better again. I'm at the ideal stage of project-making: invention. So I get to make things completely unbound from business case and design, and get as many of my ideas on there as I can so that they have to explain why they think something should be removed rather than me have to explain why something should even exist in the first place. Also, I'm trying my hand at project management by investigating a particular project that I personally think would be a good idea, and finding out if there are business reasons to support it etc. It's to prove that I can do more than just code, which, ultimately, isn't what I want to do with my measly life. Anyway, because work is fun right now, it made yoga difficult. When I'm in the exciting invention stages of something, I can't keep my mind off it, whereas these last couple weeks I've been so depressed about work that I've had no problem forgetting about everything at the drop of the timeclock. That, and a couple other things, made my first Beginner's class possibly the most difficult yet.
It was funny how we all came out of yoga talking just like our instructor. She has a very cool voice, that extends certain words and sounds.
I've been looking through old things. In a week (pending one possible wrench in our machine) Jimmy will be moving into what was previously K and my room, and so we've been moving boxes from the one closet room to the two closet room (previously known as the kitty room). Pretty much all I have in my closet are boxes full of old things like:
Ah. So, I so hate saying so, so, I had to put about 10 years of pictures in order, which at first I would think is an easy enough thing to do. Look at one picture, compare it to the next, determine if it came before or after the next picture, sort accordingly, and stack. Perl could do this very easily. But, I soon realized that my pictures weren't organized by event, but rather jumbled together from too many thumbs and picture story telling events. Also, all of the roadtrips I've been on sort of blend together, and even the order of locations becomes blurred because I've been to several of the places several times, and usually with some of the same people. So it came down to finding people in the pictures that I knew were in the country or state during certain years, and deducing from that what year the trip was, and what whether it came before or after another trip. Eventually, I'll try to chronicle my life on paper or here (whatanidea!) so that my brain doesn't have to rely on itself ever again to re-create the past.
I feel like my brain is returning to how it used to be before I got all caught up in the interweb. It seems like this storm which brought about a lot of interesting ideas and carried us from geocities to diaryland to blogger to diary-x to home-made scripts and back took more out of me than I thought. And now that I'm reading again and going to yoga and thinking about the present and other things I'm feeling like a self of me that has been on vacation is now coming back.
Last night we went to Patti Summers, which is one of the coolest most surreal places I've been to in a long time. The waitress, Patti Summers, sits at our tables and asks for our drink orders, she is very friendly, later, we see her with a rag spraying down some tables, then she goes back and makes our drinks, then she comes on stage and tells us about the band, then she sings. In the middle of her songs new people come in and she tells them to wait because she's the singing bartender and she'll get their drink orders in a minute, they should just decide on what they want to have. She sings and singles out K in particular in one of her songs. Then she comes down and talks to the crowd and tells everyone that if you looked up "sensible" in the dictionary you'd find a picture of my face. Then, she invites the couple that's sitting next to us to take the drums and the piano, which they do with zest. The girls have a fight in the bathroom, we end up paying $10 per drink, and then we're on our way. Another beautiful night.
In yoga today at the end our instructer told us to let go of one part of ourselves that's not part of our true selves. I thought about letting go of the negative evil energy part of myself, but wondered if that's really not a part of my true self. I mean, it would be hard to recognize me without it, does that mean it's part of me? Also, it's the negative evil energy part of ourselves that is often best at monetizing our assets in the real world. How many of you would let go of this part of yourself if you could? Is it valuable, or is it wasteful and counterproductive. I'm thinking of the part that makes me dislike crowds, and dislike listening to people on the news, and dislike meeting new people, and talk about people behind their backs, but it's also partly responsible for helping me weed out unnecessary parts of my life, parts that I can use more constructively.
There's a Pixies cover band we're going to go see tonight at the Crocodile Cafe. If you want, come.
I'm reading a book with a cheesy title and which I think falls into the category of "self-help" but I think that this guy is talking about something that I want to know more about. There are things in my head that think I am trying to wake up from some numbing fog-like dream, but like Nisargadatta Maharaj asks in "I Am That," "How can I set right a tangle which is entirely below the level of my consciousness?"
This is what the book is telling me to try to do on page 12: "Try: Stopping, sitting down, and becoming aware of your breathing once in a while throughout the day. It can be for five minutes, or five seconds. Let go into full acceptance of the present moment, including how you are feeling and what you perceive to be happening. For these moments, don't try to change anything at all, just breathe and let go. Breathe and let be. Die to having to have anything be different in this moment; in your mind and in your heart, give yourself permission to allow this moment to be exactly as it is, and allow yourself to be exactly as you are. Then, when you're ready, move in the direction your heart tells you to go, mindfully and with resolution."
I'm trying. When I'm trying to do this, it all depends on words. I have to find a certain phrase to repeat to myself, to drum into my head some idea that will act as the bridge between lala land (where I am most of the time) and the present. Then, the words will bring me there. And I'll be there in the present for a moment (I'm not there now). But next time, those words that I used won't work, and I'll have to find new words. This time, a few minutes ago, I used "don't try to change anything at all" and it worked. It made me realize that even when I'm sitting still there was this pressure in my head to try to force my thoughts into a certain direction, and to force my idea of things into a certain shape. When I told myself not to try to change anything at all, that pressure let go, and whammo I'm slowing down time and it's real, for a bit.
I mentioned the word "context" twice in yesterday's entry. And for some reason it came up in my head again today and I thought that thought that you know so well, "Maybe I should write about that." And so then I came here, after reading a few good stories, and re-read yesterday's entry. And it said context twice. "...the music may not be as great, but the context is even greater..." "...the power of small things can be as potent as the power of big things, it's only the context that matters, the pay-outs and ins are always the same..." Has this recycling of an entry worked so far?
What I wanted to say about context today is this. When you think of good paintings and good songs, the masters the masterpieces, what are the qualities that you've attached to those things? Music is so simple, its just sound. When you think of sound, how much potential is there for sound to make it into your ear and make you feel good? There's no direct connection between a song, the sound, your ear, the understanding of the sound, and the quality of masterpiece being written in your head. Or, there is a path, but it's not predictable. Because I don't think that that path is the whole story. With myself at least, the major player is context. When did this painter paint. Who was he painting for. When was this song written. Who was listening when the song played for the first time, and who was the first person to love it and why did they love it. Where was Beethoven walking when he composed this song in his head, what movie is this song a soundtrack for, what were you doing when this song was introduced to you and how cool were the people who told you about it and how cool did you want yourself to be. It is so frustrating when you think about this mad-dash shotgun thief in the night that is context. Context is just that, it's the space between the beauty and the beholder, and most of the time it has more to do with the beholder than the beauty, but at the same time, the beauty has a certain shininess to it, a halo of potential that may or may not be used when the time comes.
That's why art history is as important as art, music theory as important as music, and the history of english literature as important as any english fiction. Or so the colleges will have us believe. Do you believe? Another slant on nature versus nurture.
What I really wanted to say about context is this. Context is design. Art is content, context is design. If we think of it that way, where our art is the news article, and the social commentary and the way the cover looks and the time it's written, and the person it's dedicated to, and the condition of the stock market and the person you run into at the party and the interview you have with Bryant Gumble and the way you look on your bad side, this is the design, then we're in a new game. Design is assumed to be fully intentional. I've been assuming that context is given, is pre-determined, and that the art doesn't have much influence over the context. But what if we purposefully went in to a project thinking as much about the context that the content would appear in as the content itself. Is this a stupid thought? Is this what makes a control freak, one who argues with your record label about which single to release, which shows to go on, one who argues with his publisher about whether or not your picture shows up on your book, a control freak who controls every aspect of ones public persona? This drove Kurt Cobain mad. This made us hate Michael Jackson. Madonna's good at it. It's what sort of makes us feel uneasy about Survivor--the game is the context and the design, and we feel mistreated if the network manipulates the plot, changes the context to fit their goal, their art. Of course not all art is good, or ethical, usually at the cost of profitability.
I'm going to think about this a bit more, let me know if you think I'm on the wrong track. Instead of being a musician or a writer or a painter, why not be a context artist.
I'm listening to OK Computer right now with that relief that comes after trying so hard to listen to the new Radiohead songs and trying to figure out if I like them or not. And I realize that I do like the new Radiohead songs, but they're really not nearly as good as OK Computer. I imagine Thom Yorke sitting on his red sofa like me, reading his book like me, and realizing, after listening to OK Computer for the first time in a while, after coming back from tour and after coming back from writing the new songs and thinking about the new songs for so long, and realizing in a moment of clarity that he hasn't come close to the power and genius of his past. Then, what would he think. He would think, that's not true. He would think, yes, the music may not be as great, but the context is even greater. And I think then he would be satisfied. He would think that the music is important, but just as important is taking the music apart, destroying it, then, putting it back together piece by piece after you've insulted the record industry, after you've made your listeners think you're deep, and after you've decided that now's the time to come back, to fly back to your cage after being let go and to play your new music up to the bullshit machine with music videos and singles and everything. Sell it full price, rake in the profit, all in time to become dissatisfied with it again, with your own success.
I fear being in this position myself one day. Where I've finally written that book that I talk about so much, and people liked it, and I'm famous and have money and can now do what I want to do all day every day, and I have to sit down for the second and third books. The simple and complete creative energy that went into the first will have to be bent and broken for the second, just so you can say to yourself that you did, just so you join the crowd of destroyers, one step higher than that of makers, and then the third or fourth will be breaking that which is broken, and every once in a while you re-read that first book and realize that you had it all right then. But you cannot do something like it right after you've already done it so it takes this running around and confusion. If Thom Yorke can feel so unsure sitting on his red couch reading his book, then how will I be able to escape the uncertianty? I'm sure Dave Eggers is feeling this right now too. Maybe it killed Salinger. And I'm sure most of these people, the ones that survive for decades, like Madonna, and Michael Stipe, how can they feel when they realize that not only did they get it right in the very beginning, but they've gotten it wrong so many time since, and then maybe once or twice gotten it right again, and then got it wrong again. How frustrating that would be. Do these feelings feel different when you actually meet them, or can speculation bring them to the present like ghosts of the future.
Interesting how feelings can stretch, and yet they're always ready to bounce back to regular shape. What I mean is that when you sit by your father watching him in a coma, as the breathes become irregular and finally stop, you don't think that anything as simple as a few sharply placed words by a half-stranger will ever be able to upset you. But they do, and the power of small things can be as potent as the power of big things, it's only the context that matters, the pay-outs and ins are always the same. Do you know what I mean?
Like, in the story I read, there was a guy who killed his four children, and then felt regret when he hid the mallet in his boat. He couldn't throw it away, it meant something to him. You expect that people capable of horrible things don't have feelings but they do and sometimes more of them than ourselves. We only go through a gray trifle-ridden life, day to day, and we're never bothered by the news, or the things in our imaginations, and so we aren't bothered by anything and we don't find joy in anything. But someone who's on the verge of killing his own family may be more sensitive to the weak winds of the news and the small signs and words that we pass on our daily lives that in some ways he's got more reason to be expected to be moved by the trifles and small details that we would consider ridiculous.
If I were Thom Yorke, what would I do. I can't think that way, because my first instinctual answer is to write a book. So I'm not Thom Yorke. If Thom Yorke were me, what would he do. He would write more songs. So he's not me. Imagination is only this strong.
At 1:38am I have broken down and finally decided to put down a series of unconnected sentences, as they come to me, in the reverse chronological order that I have filed them away. I will keep links to a minimum.
I like the Electrotone Web Design Guide.
Traffic and Blow have similarities.
I have reached a point where I have recently said to numerous people and even here that I am in the clear as far as work and such and yet my list of to-do still seems to be too long. And it is preventing me from starting any one thing, for fear that others will notice that I've got enough time to do one thing but apparently not enough time to do another thing.
I have recently watched lots of movies: Pollack, Momento, Bridget Jones's Diary, and Blow. All, good.
I have not yet finished the book which I started so long ago.
I took a 2-hour nap today after helping my friend move into his new house, a real house, in Renton.
K and I had a great conversation the other day about whether or not the idea or the execution of an idea is more important. She said idea, I said execution. It's mostly just a debate over definitions, since we both sited examples (she: Picasso, Pollack, Warhol) (me: Shakespeare, John Lennon, Beethoven) that supported our side, and which we both agree are good. But writing is a medium that requires such a fine level of attention to detail, it's hard for me to say that the idea is in any way separated from the execution. A good story isn't enough to create a good book. And I've read books that are great but which had bad stories, or sometimes no story at all. John Lennon would write songs flaunting the fact that the lyrics meant nothing, that he could make a song out of any words. Shakespeare didn't even invent his own stories, he just re-used existing ones. But people like Chihuly can think of an idea and let others make it. At the workplace it's the difference between project manager and web developer. I prefer the doing to the saying, although I get a lot of say in what I do so maybe I just like it because I know that I have a lot more power to get what I want if I'm the actual one doing it, and I can sneak in things and convince people later that they're good ideas. Maybe I'm not an ideal client for a project manager. What kinds of things are there that have their entire value in the idea and not the manifestation? Historical context and right timing are all part of the idea as well.
I woke up twice last night in a sweat. Soaked. My hair dripping, my pajamas drenched. I spent many minutes freezing without clothes in the bathroom trying to wake up and figure out what to do, cold cold cold.
Remember that letter I wrote to The Stranger a couple weeks ago? They listed me in their paper this week in the section called, The Stranger Suggests. It suggests you visit Seattle Stories on Monday. See you there.
I'm enjoying life again. Expect this blog to be somewhat boring for a while, while I re-evaluate things and change things once again. I'm not thinking about changes in design, but in content. I never hear from my visitors. I have stopped feeling rewarded for writing here. I need new incentive, and it will have to come from somewhere other than you. I will begin writing fiction again, and find reward in my own writing, even if you don't.
I can sit for 5 minutes and imagine I was Bono, from U2, whom I saw in concert on Thursday, good concert, anyway, and imagine that I was Bono and that I had spent the last 20 years of my life in a band, I had written many good songs, people like me, I am now on stage and singing a song I've sung before, people like it, there are blue lights soaking the audience and when I look at them they raise their arms and wiggle them. They look like little amoebas or bugs. The are listening, they listen, they are reciting my words, yes yes, but how deep into their heads have I gotten? Are these listeners interesting? Have I made any impact? What have I done to this world exactly... nothing bad, nothing really that good either. What's important to me. My family. At least I have my family, and I have the band. I'm getting older, and rather than ride the wave of pop music and advance it further, as I know I can do, I will refocus on my family, maybe write songs, but not anxiously wait for the public to approve. I will leave everything behind but that which I can't. Sounds good. Can't wait for this tour to end. How many more songs are there tonight anyway.
My boss gave me monday off for free, no vacation time used. Because I work hard. Yeah.
It's 2:02, I'll keep going for 6 more minutes, making this a 30 minute entry. It'll make the page a little lop-sided, but screw you.
It is lame to enter a group of people and introduce your friends as associates. So lame, in fact, that I will start doing it.
It's Easter. I remember last easter I was just moving over to mockerybird. Now, a couple days ago, I hear a story from K where she and a few other people including Leanne and lbj, were talking at a table on a night which they were the Angles, much like lbj's telling of this night, and they mentioned that Seattle Stories was mentioned in The Stranger, and someone at another table knew about that site and also knew about mockerybird. A few other people. Strangers. I hear this story, woken up at 3am when K comes in and I am sleepy and I remember mumbling, "that's creepy."
And so I didn't write here for a few days, for some reason that made sense to me.
Quiet, I'm thinking.
Everyone, please, give me hope that not all of this is in vain. Otherwise, if it is, tell me now so I don't waste my life in this stagnant pond. It's now 2:08. Love ya.