"A good example is the best sermon." - Thomas Fuller


November 28th, 2007

Why do I smoke?

I didn't used to ask myself that so much in years past but this past year, 2007, has followed years of non-smoking to a year of smoking with intermittent days of "trying to quit" so I've been asking myself this question a lot.

Now I'm not going to go into the reasons smoking is bad for me. We all know what those are and it really comes down to one thing: smoking is stupid. That begs the question, do I enjoy being stupid? Answer: obviously not.

Then there must be something to it. What is that?

For one thing it makes a good excuse to get away. Get away from what? From work for 10 minutes. From stressful situations of any shape and sort for 10 minutes. From responsibility for, as you guessed, ten minutes. And so on.

But couldn't I simply do something else as a replacement?

And then there are the two biggest reasons I think I'm having trouble quitting: Consistency and Predictability.

Life can get crazy sometimes. I won't know from day to day how much will be on my plate at work and I won't know if I'll come home to a teenager who's in a good mood or a miserable one. I won't know if tonight's a night where I can relax and write or I'll need to react to some issue that's come up at home or abroad. Sure, I sleep every night, eat every day, and on average have one bowl movement somewhere in between, but besides these examples and the nearly constant violence in the middle east there are moments where something deep in my soul which yearns for more consistency and the cigars I smoke, damn them, provide that.

Predictability is perhaps the biggest of my "reasons". You see, I know when I stick a cigar in my mouth it's going to cost me $1, taste like dirt, make me smell, and very possibly bring about a coughing fit. Seems a little bit insane but then I don't know if going to work and giving my all tomorrow morning will result in an efficient, well rounded day. I don't know if smiling at my daughter and asking her how her day went will result in conversation or grunting sounds. I don't know if taking my car in for it's maintenance check will mean it won't break down on me sometime when I'm going on a long trip. There are so many unknowns and I do my best because, well, you never know, but somewhere inside I'm deeply frustrated that there isn't a one-to-one correlation between a smile and a positive interaction, hard work and a verbalized "good job", loving someone and them loving you back, and so on.

Life can be unpredictable. Smoking, for all it's ill features, is not.

Well, I'm not the goddamn Captain but I do steer my life and I'm trying, with my all, to forget why I keep puffing away and steer myself towards healthier and more life affirming alternatives.

Your imperfect,

November 26th, 2007

Holy Kamoly! I didn't realize I haven't written in so long. Okay, I know I haven't written here but I hadn't realized it had nearly been two weeks and here I was with plenty happening, plenty to talk about, plenty to share but time where I just want to sit behind a computer monitor typing? Not too much. Or I should say, aside from work and writing short stories--not too much.

I'm now 34 years old, my birthday being a few days ago. Here are some high level events from my year (many of them firsts and in no particular order):

  • Sold expensive Mazda RX-8 and had no wheels for a few weeks, then bought a '99 Silver Volvo Stationwagon
  • Began smoking after several years smoke free
  • Met an amazing woman who I've been madly in love with for 10+ months now (and going!)
  • Sold my Honda 919 and bought a 2007 Yamaha FJR which I road to Hells Canyon and also to Disneyland (Anaheim, CA)
  • Bought a "big boy" bed
  • Had a $400 MP3 player stolen from my bedroom by one of the delivery guys (definitely a first for me!)
  • Sat at a table with two total strangers for dinner and conversation
  • Stayed at a bed and breakfast
  • Am living alone (bi-weekly at least) for the first time in seven or so years
  • Spent my birthday with my partner--something I've not done in nearly a decade and have wanted to do for longer than I can tell you!
  • Saw myself in a mirror--metaphorically speaking
  • Grew emotionally and spiritually more than I have in years (sometimes ouchy man)
  • Wrote a short story; sketched a picture (things I haven't done in a long, long while!)
  • Ate at a dozen new restaurants and aquired tastes for new foods
  • I've been cooking more and eating better too!
  • Took pictures for the Relay For Life in Crook County for a friend; made complimentary DVD's with music, etc.
  • Allowed someone to take pictures of me without hiding my head in a paper bag...and finding myself liking many of the shots even!
  • Took a girl on the back of my bike who I hardly knew; took a gf on the back on my bike
  • Took my daughter on her last trick or treating trip
  • Started going to an acupuncturist for my knee

And much, much more...

Anyhow, 33 was a long year. A good year but a challenging one as well. I find myself and my preconceptions about myself and the world being challenged in ways and to extremes they haven't been before. I'm happy in ways I've never been yet humbled in other ways (I've hardly been). I have so much to do, so many more challenges and difficulties to overcome, but so much to look forward to, so much joy to take a bite out of, and so many wonderful books here yet to be read!

Well then, I must get myself to bed then!

November 12th, 2007

This is the dead tree I looked at when I visited for the weekend.

This is the dead tree I looked at when I ran away.

This is the dead tree I stared at in the morning with my friend when I couldn't sleep...

...and the dead tree I looked at when I wanted to give up.

I used to sit and gazed at the crucifix which stood just beyond the back fence wondering what was beyond. Tomorrow, I knew, but what was inside that box waiting for me?

Hopelessness? Self sacrifice? Constant struggle? Pain? Doubt? Misery?

And there it was, just a tree.

The last time I saw the tree I was walking the jogging path on the other side of the road, on the other side of the fence. I had a book in one hand and my partner's hand in the other.

The leaves on the tree were green.

November 11th, 2007

I'm stubborn. That's the matter discussed in totto. Yes, the masses do their thing and I sit idly by coming up with reasons why not to do what the masses are doing because, well, just because I'm the sort of chap that likes to think about something before jumping into it.

In particular I've been somewhat leary of this newer service called Netflicks. While it sounded good, I had my reasons for not joining up. First and foremost, I can be a bit moody at times and the idea of having to wait to watch movie X instead of simply going out and renting it for the evening didn't appeal to me. And then there was just my nervousness about the U.S. Postal Service loosing or damaging DVD's and of course I'd be the one to cover the cost since their computers would say, "Shipped".

After having a few friends with the service I finally turned around and tried it and what can I say, I'm hooked. Not only am I no longer worried about late fees or the peanut butter some person's kid got on the DVDs, but it's fun to check the mail again (I get something besides junk mail and bills!). And not only that, I can now stream movies live to my computer!

And that's what hooked me the other night. Here I was sitting alone, feeling like shit about myself and life in general and so somewhat bored and needing to keep my mind busy I'm browsing through netflicks when I stumbled across Quantum Leap episodes.

Just wanted to take a quick moment to thank Netflicks for giving me a blast from the past, the chance to go back to a show that focused on the best in humanity: honesty, integrity, hard work, values, compassion, strength, and the like.

I suppose if I'm a reincarnated soul I sorta leap from body to body, life to life. Maybe this is just another chance for me to make a difference. That said, I reserve the right to begin every new life with the words, "Oh boy."

November 7th, 2007

It was foggy last night at 3am when I went out on the back porch to smoke. I'd just finished three hours of late night/early morning work and another two three hours of a difficult conversation that left me feeling empty inside. And alone.

I forced myself to brush my teeth when truth be told all I wanted to do was crawl into bed and pretend I didn't exist. It was cold in my room as I'm attempting to save money by experimenting without using the gas heat in my home except when guests are visiting. Instead of going to bed in boxer shorts I put on some long socks and kept the turtleneck and t-shirt I was wearing on. For one or two hours I lay there with my eyes closed and arms crossed listening to Coast to Coast AM, trying to simply let myself be.

Breath in, breath out, goes the mantra.

Although I slept little I made it into work by 10am and did not altogether feel overly tired, all things considered. I coordinated with several people, took care of a few odds and ends, while feeling more and more ill. Around noon I found myself nearly on the verge of tears and did an about-face back towards home where I have spent the rest of my day.

It's 8pm and the fog is back, beautiful yet somehow mocking my own lack of emotional clarity. I stand on my back porch and can barely make the headlights out of cars going left and right. As I stood there my thoughts and feelings about life...I could barely make them out as they went left and right.

The last two months have been two of the most difficult in recent memory and I now found myself humbled by them. Perhaps in a way I'm making an understatement in that matter as truth is, I feel at an extraordinary loss. Did I overcome so much in life simply to be in a place where I wonder if perhaps I did myself no favour for having the tenacity to survive? Will the testament of my life be doing my damnest one day after another only to find myself alone at night clicking away at an expensive keyboard?

Robert Heinlein once wrote:

"A human being should be able to change a diaper, plan an invasion, butcher a hog, conn a ship, design a building, write a sonnet, balance accounts, build a wall, set a bone, comfort the dying, take orders, give orders, cooperate, act alone, solve equations, analyze a new problem, pitch manure, program a computer, cook a tasty meal, fight efficiently, die gallantly. Specialization is for insects."

I've always loved this quote in part due to the fact that I've either done most of these things or would be able to quickly pick up these skills, situation meriting. Of life in general I can say I have an uncanny ability to be unspecialized and yet there's one core thread I have found through most of my endevours: the ability to be successful in those I take up w/ the exception of those where I'm heavily reliant on others.

Perhaps it seems a bit dark and gloomy for me to share a thought like that but it's one that comes to mind when I am feeling dark and gloomy, this learned notion that, "If you want something done you've gotta do it yourself." And while I am more conscious than ever before that others have provided support in various ways to me over the years, often at crucial moments, I can still say that my greatest successes have been accomplished on my own. I do not know the joy of a community complimentary to my own uniquie idiosyncracies nor the support many recieve from it and perhaps it's a cop out when I'm feeling so down on myself to simply quote the words of Groucho Marx, "I refuse to join any club that would have me as a member."

So I sit here tonight and I feel foggy. I feel overwhelmed. I feel unloved, unwanted, and alone. I know I will be able to cut corners and save up for the cello I've been wanting for a few years but I don't know if I'll have anyone to play it for. I feel, for the first time in a long, long while, devoid of the passion which has kept me going all these years: hope.

Tomorrow I will attempt to nurture it back home.

November 6th, 2007

I am too old and I am also too young. I am too serious and I am also too upfront with my views. I am too sensitive and yet I don't feel enough. I am too quiet yet I share too much. I eat too much meat or I don't eat enough. I give my heart too easily or I need therapy because I can't open up. I am too main stream or I'm not with the latest fashion. Have you caught the latest episode of CSI Portland? I spread myself too thin or I don't have big enough social circles. I read too much or too little. I write too much or too little. I watch tv too much or, yes, too little. The music I listen to is too flamboyant or too passionate or too silly or too reserved or just not what you happen to be enjoying at the moment. I am eclectic that way. My shirt is too 80's, though I bought it in 2004, my hat is too redneck, though I got it as a gift, and my hair, my hair is thinning. I am too honest, though honesty is what you've asked for. I am too thoughtful, though it makes you wonder why. I am too damaged, though it has given me wonderful insights (and I wouldn't change what I've been through or who I am for the world). And I am too different to fit into your reason or why.

I am too x or too z or too y.

I have changed my hair, I have changed my clothes, I have changed the way I walk and the way my thoughts flow. I have looked to the past and I have looked to the future, I have looked under every rock for someone who would nurture without "too this" or "too that", oh, how hard to find a person so pure as I'd like to think myself to be but alas always too, too, too, and always me, trying to be like water to fit every container but too slow, too slow, that's what I am, less like water and more like honey, slow, it takes me awhile to cover the waffles or pancakes or muffins or bacon then the plate but when I do, oh how sweet, how pure, how organic the experience!

I sometimes don't know who to be. I sometimes don't know what to say. I sometimes don't know how to act. I'm just me, I tell myself, I'm just me and that's all I know how to be. Not too young and not to old but whatever age my birth foretold. I'm just me, I'm just me.

I am thirty three years old. I have changed and evolved and adapted as circumstances have required and yet…and yet I sometimes feel I cannot change enough to meet the particular needs of anyone. I put my whole heart into it. But when push comes to shove I'm just the person I am. I'm better than the person I was, not nearly as good as the person I will be. I come to the table with the skills, knowledge, and wisdom I have. One day perhaps I can be me without being "too" something or other.

One day my best will be enough.

November 4th, 2007

November, finally.

I was going to write on the 1st but I was too busy. Same with the 2nd and 3rd.

The Disney trip journals are done. I promised myself I'd document the experience and I did. It's time to write about something else.

What will that something be, you ask? Well, I have some ideas. For instance, I can write about the experiences and thoughts I've had over the last few months. And I can write about the last few weeks which have led to some major transformations in my life.

As for this weekend, I've been cleaning the house. I started with the kitchen, moved to the living rooms, and the last two days I cleaned the garage. This week I plan to begin picking up leaves from the front lawn and back gardens.

And then?

And then I finish a wood working project that's in various stages of development (or non-development) since last year. And then a few others.

What I write in the next month will say a lot about my life and who I am. For now, though, I bid you goodnight.