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


February 17th, 2008

For some strange reason I thought I'd been writing more than I have been. Perhaps it's that I've been intending to write more often or making notes more often. I don't know. Memory can be funny sometimes.

Thoughts on my mind tonight?

Head hurts. Think I'm having sinus headaches or having had too much caffiene earlier in the week headaches. Solution: hydrating.

2008. Hard year so far. Gonna turn it around. Plans including getting rid of what doesn't help me and or is unhealthy to me. Working on now: hydrating.

Want to cheer me up? Roses work dandy.

Or a letter...a thoughtful, intelligent, and kind one...

Tomorrow is Monday morning. Another full week. That means I need to get to bed at a decent time. I'll read some more of The Thin Red Line.

I hung a piece of string on the wall today. I put some clips on the string. On that clip I'll hang things I want/need to get done around the house or in my writing or what have you. Six clips in all. Every day I'll grab something off a clip, complete whatever task I've set before myself, add a new one.

Finally taking a gander at the movie THX. I thought it would be interesting but jeeze, it's actually quite good and well thought out. Now if only we'd see there's some scary truth to it...it's all just a matter of degrees, isn't it?

Ok, I should probably go and talk to my love and then do the bills and then mail a few things and then head to bed.

More coherent babble forthcoming...

February 11th, 2008

Why is it when you don't understand something you don't ask questions? Why don't you ask, why, by gods, don't you ask the most important question of all, the most important question that God must have asked the moment before he created the universe:


February 10th, 2008

While some of the pictures you will find posted here are from third sources, most are those I've taken, photographs that have personal meaning to me. I don't always say how or why I choose any given picture I suppose out of the interest of creating a mystery in hopes that you will ask yourself what it means, why did I post it, how does it tie my thoughts together?

For instance if you jumped back to July 30th, 2007 you'd see a picture of me in a motorcycle jacket and black cowboy hat. I was trying this on in the little town of Sisters, Oregon, on my way through with my girlfriend, who snapped the photo. Thing is, I've never much liked photographs of me as I've never felt photogenic and I've rarely allowed anyone to take pictures of me (much less felt they were capturing my good side) so this picture, which I feel captures a softer more playful aspect of my personality, means a lot to me. And while I didn't purchase that particular hat, a few months ago I found one very similar which I enjoy wearing every now and again.

On July 4th, 2007, you'll find a low quality photo I took of my brother's cat Taffy. I took the photo with my first camera, a very simple black plastic point and shoot Kodak camera. Taffy was an outdoors farm cat, as all my cats were growing up, but unlike most of the others who didn't have terribly long lives considering the difficulties of living out in the hot summers and cold winters, Taffy lived nearly ten years defending his territory from other cats. This picture, probably one of the last photographs taken of Taffy, show him with only one good eye (his left), as the other had been gouged out during a cat fight (and my parents, blast their favoritism for dogs, would never take the cats to the vet). Tough as he was Taffy was also a lover, he waited for us to get home from school every day and would rush towards one of us (usually me) and climb up our pants and hop onto our shoulder. He died sometime while I was going to community college in Eugene, having broken his back when falling off the wood pile.

July 18th, 2007. This is a close up picture taken with my macro lens of the Japanese Maple I planted in my yard not to long after moving into my house. It's a beautiful picture but admittedly "PhotoShopped". I have to admit, I think the most beautiful, highest quality, most skilled photographs are the ones that the photographer sees immediately through the lens, as-is, without further modification. I mean, anyone can take a shitty picture and, with the right tools, transform it into something pleasing to the eye; it takes a real artist to do that with nothing more than a camera and a roll of film.

On December 22nd, 2006 you'll find a self portrait of myself at work. Since my very first experiences with a camera I've taken self portraits, usually by standing in front of a mirror and taking a shot of myself looking at myself (and later, after development, looking at myself again). Even today I'll somehow feel the urge to take another photograph of myself, some record of where I am today, something no one else will be able to translate or bring meaning to but myself.

An historic record you may find attached to November 9th, 2006. Yes, that's a little toy car. I got it for some birthday or Christmas, probably when I was ten or so, and I had it until around 2002 or 2003 when I donated it, and many other beloved toys from my youth, to Goodwill. It wasn't easy, mind you, as I always took extremely good care of my things and had owned the toy for two decades, and truth is, I've always been a pretty nostalgic person. At the time I remember thinking I didn't like being a pack rat and these were things I weren't using, why not pass them on? But that nostalgia kept getting in the way, I couldn't imagine not being able to find this thing I had once loved and holding it in my hands and thinking of the past. I didn't want to forget the joy it had once brought me. And then it hit me, what if I took a photograph of it? What if I took photographs of everything I no longer needed but could pass on to someone who might? And so ever since, whenever I want to save the memory of something I've cherished but give it up, pass it on, I take a photograph, an historic record of something I once enjoyed.

On the day of October 28th, 2006 you'll find one of my favourite pictures, my medicine bag. I bought this many years back at a Pow Wow, this beautiful leather bag which I later put various rocks in that were supposed to do things like clear my aura and attract good health. Truth is, I don't believe that stones have supernatural powers but I do believe in the psychological effect that such things can have over a person and so, while the bag usually hangs in my room, from time to time I will wear it.

September 5th, 2006 - Okay, I had to tell you about this, the mess of a wall I'd been beating holes into with a hammer several years back. This photograph was taken to show the progress of a project, one of which has taken far too long for all manner of reasons (excuses). The wood you'll see nailed up almost half hazard were to insure the cats wouldn't jump into the walls and cause damage during their play. For the record, the shelf I intended to build at the time is almost complete, only needing some final sanding, finishing, and paint (inside the closet). I will post pictures here once it's complete.

And what about yesterday, Saturday February 9th, 2008?

That is a picture of one of my bedrooms in Eugene, Oregon, a place where I experienced some of the best and worst days of my life. But that's not why I posted that picture. No, I posted it because as you can see, this was a place where I tried to create order and beauty, a room where everything had its place, the place where I realized Depression, on the most fundamental level, was a choice and it was one I wanted to learn not to make anymore. And so this was the room where I had first decided to get my head on straight, the room I fell in love, the room I studied countless hours for school, the room that, while not the place where I overcame, the place I created the goal to overcome.

For first we must sow the seeds and nurture them.

P.S. Forgot to mention today's picture, some flowers I bought for myself last night as I really needed to lift my mood.

February 9th, 2008

Sometimes when I'm not exactly sure how to start writing I rely on the dictionary. Yes, I admit in some regards this could be viewed as a cop out but I sometimes think if I begin an idea with a definition we as English speakers agree to then who can argue? The dictionary is the standard which we agree gives meaning to the sounds we make with our mouths and the scribbles we make on paper, a foundation on which we can build shared meaning.

And so today I will begin by relying on one such definition:

The dictionary defines a superstition as, "A belief or notion, not based on reason or knowledge, in or of the ominous significance of a particular thing, circumstance, occurrence, proceeding, or the like."

Just for fun (a statement of irony given my state as of late) I Googled the word 'superstitions' and found the site: http://www.oldsuperstitions.com/.

Here are a few amusing superstitions listed there:

Good Luck Superstitions

    • A frog brings good luck to the house it enters.
    • A spider spinning in the morning.
    • Carry an acorn to bring luck & ensure a long life.

Bad Luck Superstitions

    • To milk a cow being sent to market..
    • To see an owl in the sunlight.
    • Changing a horse's name.

None of us wants to admit we believe in a superstition but truth is most of us do. When I was struggling with Depression in my teens, for instance, I sometimes wondered if a mirror I'd broken when I was much younger was giving me bad luck. Doesn't make sense, does it? But think about it this way, there I was suffering through some incredibly difficult emotions which were in large part a reaction to the feeling that I was alone in the world, abused, unwanted, and here was this superstition that said I'd have bad luck for seven years, a finite and well defined time frame, and my time was almost up. My experiences didn't make sense, sometimes, it wasn't how the world was "supposed" to be--so would it make any less sense if I believed in this silly, illogical idea when it gave me hopes that in one or two years I'd serve my time and things would look up?

I think superstitions are often a reaction to the seeming randomness and insecurity of life, a way we can prognosticate, predict the future, find certainty, consistency, and meaning in our struggles, and yes, hope.

While cultures tend to have their own shared superstitions (ever heard the one as a kid, "Step on a crack, break your mother's back?") I also believe individuals tend to create, over their lifetimes, their own personal superstitions. Since I'm using my own life as an example today I'll share with you one such superstition I've had, one which makes no sense but is sometimes the only explanation I have for the struggles I sometimes face.

When I was fifteen I started to grow my hair out. By the time I was seventeen I could, for the first time in my life, put my hair in a pony tail. And I loved my long hair, loved twirling it between my fingers, and loved the way it looked in the mirror. It made me different (to most other guys) and in some ways gave me an identity separate from the young boy I had once been.

Unrelated to my hair was this Depression thing I was slowly allowing myself to sink into. Life, I generally felt, was a fucking hell hole. My parents spent more time ignoring and criticizing me than supporting me (I finally left home without letting anyone know where I'd gone), my friends, well, they didn't invite me to their parties and, so I learned, thought it was somehow fun to make bets on if I'd kill myself or not. I couldn't get a job and when I did it was flipping burgers with others who seemed to have no pride in anything they did (and while most were nice enough at work, none of them were interested in me outside the workplace--something I would struggle with greatly later in life). Anyway, I won't recount any more of my story except to say I was being bombarded by difficulties on every front: family, friends, money, regular insomnia, other health related issues, and so on and so forth.

That's not to say there weren't some moments of joy but it seemed like those were few and far between. They'd pop up like an unexpected ray of sunshine during a thunder storm then suddenly they were gone. Their unexpected loss made the desire to go on living less and less palatable.

And then one day I decided to live. No, things didn't suddenly turn around making life easy but I realized it was time to just get up and live, not just "live" in the literal sense of the term but get off my ass, make some goals, and find emotional health. I dedicated myself to living with a more thoughtful, more positive, more objective, point of view every day. I cut my hair and I started to climb that mountain.

But I digress; I was supposed to be talking about superstitions, wasn't I?

So a few years back I decided it was time to grow my hair out again. I'd had it short for about a decade and I kept having dreams where I looked at myself in the mirror, long hair going down to my shoulders, and I liked it. So I grew my hair out and out and out until I could get it into a pony tail again.

And then, as if my life were a DVD and I could click backwards through the chapters 15 years, I was finding myself challenged more and more than was "normal" or "typical" (for either my life or even your "average" one). Something incredibly stressful would happen at work, one of those once an every few years kind of somethings, and I'd think okay, that's tough, I'll go home, get in touch with my best friend, and they'll be there for me. So I call my friend and they can't, they have nothing to give, they're falling apart too. I check my e-mail and get an unsolicited hate letter from an old "friend". I say to myself I'm not going to let this get me down, I'm going to keep my balance, but then get phone calls from my parents who want technical support for their computers now, now, now. I help them and then I try to make dinner but my mind is elsewhere. Work is stressful. The friend I need most isn't available. My parents are focused on their own needs. A child is throwing a tantrum. My left knee and hip begin to hurt more than normal and I need to lay down as every step is painful. It is Friday, the weekend as a kind of savior and is just the next day so I can sleep in, sleep and forget, and then have the freedom to find my center again--but that night they come, the nightmares, and the next day fatigue, physical pain, and loneliness. I lay on the couch watching TV for twelve hours straight trying to get my head around things again.

It has been like that far too often over the last few months.

And so I think, wow, maybe it's my hair! I mean, I've been doing the same thing I've been doing the last ten years, keep the chin up, never give up, look at the bigger picture, pick up new skills, try to meet new people, etc., etc., etc., but it's not working anymore, all this time and energy and wisdom and hard work but it's just one stressful experience after another: it must be the hair!!! Look at those old pictures, sullen eyes, poor posture, immeasurable sadness hiding behind a grin, look at that long black hair, isn't it obvious, isn't it time to shave your head again and start a new life???

Strange as this idea might seem to you I'm in good company. The original Knights Templar had similar beliefs about their hair though in the reverse: long hair brought a warrior power, strength, and courage.

This last week I woke up and said to myself, "This is going to be a good week. I know I experienced something incredibly stressful this weekend but I'm going to make this an excellent week. I'm good enough and god darnit, people like me!"

And sure enough my attitude improved and I found myself feeling balanced. I was eating healthy, regular meals and getting an enormous amount of high quality work done at my job. Things were looking up! Then bang, bang, bang, the cannons rung out from the hillside but I found myself dodging to the left and then to the right. "Ha, ha!" I'd hear my inner voice screaming, "You missed!".

I was retaining my balance, I wasn't about to give in. Good for you, Aslynn.

And then my parents came to visit. Everything was fine until I started instructing my dad, who is blind, on the use of his new computer which I had just put so much time and energy setting up and configuring for his unique needs. As I was teaching him the various key strokes, how the present software differed from the previous software, he became more and more agitated, at times become belligerent towards me. Knowing I couldn't remain balanced while allowing someone to speak to me in this way I said, "If you're going to talk to me like that I'm not going to help." It wasn't long before I made the request again. Finally, after about fifteen minutes of verbal abuse I drew my boundary a third and final time to which he shouted at me, "You're being stupid!"

I walked out the door and said simply, "Ok, if that's your choice. I'm done. Enjoy your computer as it is."

At this point I had made a firm decision not to help him anymore. I've been building computers and doing IT support for him for over a decade and in that time I wasn't paid a cent. And while he has thanked me from to time that's not really what I wanted: to be treated with respect.

The next morning I walked downstairs ready for work. My dad was sitting on one of the couches, fingers reading through one of his books. In the past I would not have said a word. After all I was pissed and had every right to be angry with him for being a complete jerk. Why should I talk to him? But I've learned it wasn't healthy to generalize one thing (his behavior around computers) to another (my father/son relationship with him) so I asked what his plans were for the day, told him I was headed out, and kept the computer out of the conversation.

While I was in the kitchen grabbing my lunch I heard him say, "Your mom says I called you stupid last night but I didn't call you stupid."

Keeping my emotions in check I responded curtly but honestly, "You said, and I quote, 'You're being stupid!'"

There was a short silence. A sighted person could hear the gears turning in his head. Finally he said, "I don't remember saying you were stupid but if I did, I'm sorry."

And that was it, the moment I knew it wasn't my hair. There he was, the man that always thinks he's right about everything, the last person on earth I'd expect to apologize for speaking to someone harshly, and there he was apologizing. Not only was he apologizing, but he was apologizing for something he didn't remember saying. And not only was he apologizing for something he didn't remember saying, he wasn't begging me for something in return (i.e. to reassume his lifetime subscription to free IT support).

There it was: a simple, humble, non-accusational, unadulterated apology.

So I don't need to shave my head again until such time I choose to. Still, I must admit this week, this month, this last few months have taken their toll. Objectively I see it as just a really bad patch, the kind of which happens from time to time in life and which you wish you could tape over (taking the DVD analogy and transforming it into a VHS/BetaMax one!). Subjectively? It took me fifteen minutes to find the motivation to begin writing this though my fingers rested solidly, heavily, on the home row keys.

And yet here I am still typing, still breathing, still believing that even when my chin feels like it's super glued to a table I can still find a way to lift it up (or at the very least reposition my body so it appears to be lifted up!).

I wish to conclude this Reflection with one final dictionary definition:

Ouch: Used to express sudden pain or displeasure.

February 3rd, 2008

I didn't write on the 1st as I promised myself I would. When was the 1st anyway? Oh yes, Friday. So I'm going to write on the 3rd instead so I hope you'll forgive me.

I've had a lot on my mind lately, especially over the last twenty four or so hours. I keep thinking I need to write to a friend, tell them what's up in my life but I don't find myself with the time, never the time, just going from A to B to C then ye gods I just want to get in bed and fall into endless dreams of alien worlds where I somehow belong.

My dreams as of late have not been so kind to me. Indeed, I've been experiencing dreams that are reminiscent of those from many years past and I can't help but wonder, haven't I evolved past these things, haven't I grown, haven't I found the answers I needed?

I probably shouldn't be so hard on myself, I know. I've come to find many of the answers, grow in many ways that I know I've needed to. And yet...and yet I find I am hard on myself because some areas of the wood are still rough and I know I should have sanded them yesterday or the day before but I found another reason to procrastinate on a job I knew had to be done at some point.

Some point.

This is the year not of awakenings nor is it (I think) a year of miracles. No, this year is, I think, a year of work, of labor, of exercising my muscles and sanding down the boards so they're flush and smooth.

And so begins month number two.