Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Its like riding a bike, but not really

Its amazing how some things, which I once could do so well, can become with time activities that seem beyond my reach. I used to be able to pump out songs on a regular basis, coming up with riffs and lyrics on the spot; now, its all I can do to pick up the guitar and strum it five minutes without becoming frustrated.

Its odd really; after all, I used to be able to work with limited means, squeezing the most out of my limited resources to the best results I could achieve, making fun of other artists who took months and years to release anything on much more expansive means. Now, I have all these toys and I'm still not satisfied.

Interestingly, the toys I miss the most are the ones that were the most limited. I miss the creative drive that came from the limitations. Now I'm faced with this huge array of devices and sounds, and noting really gets me going.

With synthesizers, samplers, sequencers, effects kits, and powerful laptop, I miss being able to build a track using nothing more than a guitar, a microphone, a primitive keyboard and a recording program. I have the means to record and modify sounds in ways I never could before, and I cant even bring myself to get a damned basic beat together.

It seems that I am meant to return to my roots: minimalism. Before it was by necessity, I didn't have a choice; Now, its by need, as I still don't have a choice. I am wasting far too much time and resources being stumped by choices and toys.

Its time to get back to basics.

Cue to black screen.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

A death in the family

This evening, a little before 10pm, our eldest resident passed away. She was a tough little critter, with her weird crossfit routines and love of animal proteins. We had to grease her regularly like a Greek wrestler, and she certainly worked out like she was one. She did indulge is stuffing herself, which became quite comical at times.



She had been more and more quiet lately, spending much of her time sleeping. While this was a bit unusual, there was nothing that could really be pointed out as being particularly worrysome. Tonight, she seemed particularly lethargic and cold to the touch. We thought that maybe she was sick, sneezing and all. Then the power went out. While waiting for it to return, Natasha called me to her side; Esme was not doing well at all. She was weakening and twitching, feeling pretty cold, going weaker and weaker... and then time simply caught up with her. She passed away in our hands, one tough old wrinkly gal.

She is sorely missed

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

The high price of living

Its not you, its me.

Its an old one, an excuse often juggled as a weak attempt to end an awkward relationship. Its not necessarily a lie, its just a convenient box in which you can drop something that's too hot to handle, and when you don't want the other to get hurt. But it never really works, since that everybody knows the trick, so its just a pantomime played by rote.

Exit stage left.

When you go through a radical transformation, nothing is quite as easy to implement, regardless on how obvious they are. That particular trait is particularly harsh for those who are witness to the transformation. It is an awkward time, where routine gets a swift kick in the ass, amplified by the general anxieties and stress of high-speed normal life, or what passed for it anyways. For those witnesses, who have their own burdens to bear, it is distressing to endure the shock waves as the character role they were used to, and relied on, suddenly reveal that a friend or a loved one is not as bedrock stable as he or she used to be.

When in the embrace of chaos, you depend on those granite anchors to provide a reliable counterpoint to your own confusion. When those counterpoint go through their own storms of change, chaos reflects on chaos like fun house mirrors reflecting each other with no stability or direction; its a hurricane inside a maelstrom inside a black hole wrapped in eleven-dimension quantum geometry. A perfect storm of the id.

When the change is seen as obvious and necessary by the protagonist, it can become antagonizing when your anchors cant reflect that change. The lack of response causes the super-ego to rebel, consider one's allies as potential enemies and declares them traitors; after all, what are friends but validation for the grandeur and genius of the self.

Except that people are not telepaths (well, most people aren't), they cant automatically know what's going on, they cant see reality through you filter, no matter how obvious it appears to you. And when people lose their anchors, when the persons they rely on for stability appears to go bunker and frothy at the mouth, most people stay away from the rabid dog... which cause the super-ego to claim "See! I told you they were traitors!"... causing more rebellion, causing more distance... you get the idea.

I cannot claim to fully understand what others are going through. I can claim to be something of a selfish bastard, and that's no admission or guilt. I don't buy into the whole guilt trip thing, whether mine or other, expect nothing such from anyone, and would, in fact, throw it back at you. I look to the future; I read the past, sometimes through the wrong lens, sometimes the wrong past, but I strive to learn and change. I deal with the present as it happens, just like I handle people as they are.

I bear the scars of my changes. My friends have been enduring the tremors, not knowing what the expect, or how to handle it. I do not blame them for staying well and away; in their situation I'd have probably done the same. My feelings remain deep down the same as before. My posse remains my posse, for the same reasons as before. I have made a mess of things and I have but one thing to ask:

Where's the broom so I can pick things up and clean up.

And what's your poison darling?

Okay, two questions. Deal with it.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Inner demon

I seriously thought about calling this post The Secret, because it is about something that there's this stupid book by the same name, I figured that it wouldn't quite have the same impact. So demon it is. Its also a better followup to my last post, given that it is a followup post.

We must face our inner demon. To do that, its necessary to identify the bastard. The tricky bit is that for the work to be effective, you have to do it yourself, with no outside help. All that yammering you read about about this star or other who "faced his inner demons" or some such bullcrap... well, that's what it is, crap. The fight with the inner beast is one that you don't talk about because its one that is deeply personal, its not something that can really be discussed.



I have an inner demon that I cant discuss, that I shouldn't discuss, simply because to even acknowledge it, to discuss it gives it power. To agree that its there is to fuel the obstacle it poses. And if there is one place I cannot, ever discuss it, its at work, because it would pretty much spell a bad sign and would cause possible harm, not just there, but down the line.

Its a demon that I must face and fight every single day, sometimes easily, and sometimes I need a really big stick. I must fight and be silent. In my silence I give myself power, as the motivation remains to stand on my own, the only way the bastard can be brought down. Its a demon that must be faced, the very act of facing it and spitting in its face is what builds the road to victory.

I intend to keep going forward and onward, regardless of the chatter of the beast. After all, what can it really do?

Don't think about it, just keep aiming for the nuts. That will teach it to mess with a sorcerer with a plan.

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Its like the first snow, but bad

Today marked the first time since I quit the telecom business that I took a customer service call. While I did have to take calls as a fromager, they were very few, and I spoke from a position of responsibility and to a certain degree authority. The new job is quite different, as the game is about a different sort of product, with its own rules and a different kind of power play. Lets just say that I've moved on to the finance sector and leave it at that.

So today was hazing day. Well, its not so much that we were forced to jog naked through a public space while holding a marshmallow between our butt cheeks, but it was still a blow to our confidence and self-esteem. Sure, it had to be done, but I cant say that I felt anywhere near ready for this.

 Maybe I'm getting old, maybe part of what we did felt less than useful, maybe I just needed a kick in the butt... I'm not going to waste time with the maybes, its a pointless debate. I knew what I was getting into when I signed up for this, and it'll be up to me to find my way through.

I really have no reason to fear the situation; after all, I've done this before. On the other hand, it may very well be because I've done this before, and the reason I stopped that's still lingering. While I'm fine with telling people about last summer's accident, and screwing up my back, physical scars bear no weight, at the contrary. But the burnout I went through, that would be a black mark that would impede me, and possibly even cause me to lose this job.

Its not that I'm afraid of losing the job. Its a job, nothing more. But I signed up for this because of the challenge I would face. I am there to show myself that I can do this. I am there to show myself that I can do better. I am there to make myself improve, and improve my situation. I am there because it is a strong work sector where I will be able to move in different circles, where I can make serious money and improve my social position.

Sometimes sorcery has more to do with dominating one's inner demons than anything brought out of the pit. When you get right down to it, you carry within yourself more subtle and devious beasts, who know you better than you know yourself and know all your weak spots and how to exploit them. If you cant claim dominion on your inner bastards, then how can you claim lordship on anything else? That's delusion and adolescent fantasy; you are, as others have called them, nothing more than a magic ninja.

I have weaknesses and I have flaws. I also have immeasurable strength and an ego to match. I have risen to life and death challenges and laughed as the reaper in the face.

This is nothing. It is nothing more than a stepping stone to the brighter, and darker future. I still have work to do. I will not succeed is a single night, or even by tomorrow evening. Time is only your enemy if you treat it that way.

Sleep tight and dream the dangerous dream.

You know, the one where you're in charge of your own destiny.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Changement de costume

I used to call it my monkey suit. It was the outfit I'd wear for work. The monkey suit changed over time, depending on how open-minded or stuck up the workplace was. Sometimes I could wear the outfit in my day-to-day life, but in my mind, this was still a facade, something I had imposed upon me that I had to deal with.

The last few jobs I've held did not have massive requirements on the wardrobe. In customer service, as long as its relatively clean and decent, nobody gave much of a fuck what you wear. As a fromager, I did not have tough requirements, and they already provided something of a required uniform, so having to wear black pants was not a big problem for me. When I came back to work after my leave of absence, even that requirement had apparently been thrown out the window. If anything, the sweat and constant dealing in animal fats and dairy products pretty much ensured that I'd go home and change before dealing with the rest of the planet.

And now, a new environment, both to work and to live. This was a very conscious decision on my part, a necessary change of circumstance, a consequence of my vacation. It dawned on me that I'd been underestimating and underusing myself. I was living in a troublesome area, in a dysfunctional apartment because rent was cheap, which allowed me to undershoot my salary expectations and use any extra cash to buy pretties. Which is well and fine, but it gets you nowhere, just a cluttered home.

And sacrifices. The previous place, besides the so-called humans living and breeding in that area had its own cost; after all, as a condition of the rent agreement we weren't allowed to live with cats, dogs, or other furry companions. Being animal lovers made this pretty hard on us, so this had to change; it was a condition in out search for new dwellings. We also had to consider that any new dwelling that would meet our requirements would certainly mean higher rent. So less pretties. No big deal, its taken care of.

The decision was taken even before I returned to work; at that time it made more sense for me to return to a secure job, that might not be fantastic, but provided the necessities. One less problem to deal with, the change took place.

The purge became necessary as well; you cant go through years of collecting all kinds of stuff without going overboard at some point. A big part of my purge decision involved the furniture. You get fed up with making due with what you have; it becomes necessary to get what you want. If anything, a theme, a sense of unity, a sentiment of order in the creative chaos, so that the mind can rest once in a while. That got taken care of too. The process isn't completely over; just because you get rid of things doesn't mean that you have a replacement that you want or can afford readily available.

And the wardrobe. It seems like an exercise in vanity, but if you upgrade your lifestyle, go all the way. I spent years in jeans and t-shirts (two drawers full of the things), and it gets tiring. If your sense of aesthetics are anywhere near developed, you see the need for some variety, some change in your appearance. In a work environment, you'll want to portray the image of someone who has things together, whether its strictly for appearances. Everyday jeans and t-shirts folks don't tend to get noticed and promoted. Or taken seriously.

I also happen to look good when smartly dressed, and can make the subtle but important difference between style and fashion. One is an art, the other a drug. Style requires a deeper statement than just whatever happens to be in season. You can have style wearing random pieces of vintage and new items, if the mind behind the image is creative. Too many people who claim style are noting but hipsters with an attitude, something to sneer and spit on.

Anyways.

I have made a commitment to myself: onward and forward. It has a cost. Being intelligent requires one to recognize the need for that cost, and the reward for the trade. Its not like I wont be wearing any more jeans and t-shirt, its just not going to be a fashion statement. Its just going to be another face I'll show the world.

The French refer to it as a "costume": what is interesting about this statement is that it reflects an American saying: life is a play. What the Americans haven't figured out yet is that not only is there more than one act, but that there's more than one play. You can change according to your role.

Just put on a new costume and act.

Monday, November 8, 2010

The endgame

Sometimes, the plan works; sometimes, there's some sand in the gears and there's a few snags; and sometimes, someone goes and throws an entire MACTools mechanic's tool wall into the machine so that you can only see your creation die in a fiery stillbirth.

But not this time.

Actually, this time its far too smooth. The time line is pretty much as scheduled; I had decided to get a job by Hallow's Eve and, lo and behold, I did get the interview offer before the end of the month. The process had to take place fairly fast, and there wont be much of a warning period for my current employer, but I'm moving on. This is my will and it will not be denied.

And not just my will either. Before my interview, I asked the Ladies to intercede and give me support; I burned incense, offered respect, even offered blood. That last part seemed to have been turned down, as my knife could not penetrate the skin, so I dabbed them and thanked them in advance.

I felt confident, both in my own respect, but also ready to wage some battle of wills; I could feel the energy coursing through, a sort of angry calm burning within, and the struggle went through easily; after all, what was it I could really lose? It went well, as I got called for a second interview, and I forged ahead, picking the earliest time, which others would have found daunting. I had some thought that this was madness, but I wanted to at the very least finish the process I had started.

And it paid off. I got offered the position, which begins next week. I will be evolving within an organism which will provide growth opportunities, something that I have cut myself from before. Just like the many projects that were undertaken and never completed. That is one lesson I've assimilated from my unplanned vacation: stop wasting time, stop keeping yourself down, stop just dreaming and enact your will.

And there's always a payment to be made. Of course there is. The Ladies did get the promised blood, as a few days after the interview my hand got some scratches and some drops of blood flowed. The spell was completed when I took in the blood, as I carry the Ladies within, and channeled the offering through myself.

I am my own temple, I am the channel to the spirits and my will flows through the aethers to the dwellers of the void.

Do not fear, act. There is no greater cause but the accomplishment of your will.

Monday, October 18, 2010

Lets play choo-choo train

Is all going according to plans.

More or less.

Months ago, when I was pushing to return to work, I never meant it to be a permanent fixture of any kind. For that matter, that job was never meant to last as long as it did; originally, I go this because I was not making anywhere near enough cash through unemployment, and I was looking for a way to supplement my income during the summertime till my butcher course started. And how convenient could that be to get a job in a freaking butcher shop?

It was only meant to last a few months, but turned full time when I decided to keep the steady income and job instead of returning to class (where I would have learned very little it turns out.) When I had my accident and was stuck at home for months, it sure wasn't because I was broke that I wanted to go back to work; indeed, I was paid nearly full salary to just stay put. But its something of an annoyance to be forced to not work when I was quite confident that I could have picked up the job pretty much as I had left it. Indeed, if things had gone according to expectations I would have been back to work last fall, instead of last spring.

Before I even had some sort of time frame the decision to move dwellings had been taken. Sure, it didn't go smoothly, there were bumps and so forth, but the dwelling changed, and a good thing it was too. But that sort of required me to stick to the gig I had, at least till we got settled in. And that's all part of the plan.

I'm a man with a plan. The plan isn't in any way complete. It changes according to circumstances, and seriously, that's okay. Of course, even a procrastinator like me will get cabin fever and need to get something, anything done, one way or another. Promises have to be kept, the job's gotta get done.

So I do it.

But now that we're settled in, its time to look for brighter shores. The job is stagnating, the atmosphere is rather unwholesome, and its friggin' time to get out. So I've been job searching. I don't know what I want to do next, but its probably gonna be temporary also, something to help the changes that need to happen. If anything a change of neighborhood is in order. I have considered returning to the old scene, good old customer service. I cant say honestly that I love it, but it does tap both experience and abilities that I have that make me a good candidate. I am looking for a type of work that does not require me to wear jeans and t-shirt and get down and dirty and do heavy lifting.

Back when I took this job, I really needed to get the hell out of the whole office environment. Six and half year is a long time to be answering phones, day in and day out. But I think that I need to go back, if only to find out if I can. Perhaps even to seek a higher post. I don't know, maybe I'm getting a second wave of ambitious drive.  I'll probably need to shoot higher than the skill set that I am confident that I have, and gun for that little extra mile that others might see.

Its not like I don't have a plethora of projects just sitting on the back burner. I have made offers and promises, and I certainly intend to follow through on them. If I didn't, ten I'd not only let others down, I'd be betraying myself, and I cant to that. You don't walk away from death a third time to just let your ambitions go; at the contrary, it kicks your inner procrastinator in the balls and makes it take a hike for a while. I gotta get things done, and bad habits to burn.

First the job's gotta go. Its eating up too much energy for insufficient returns. Its a fucking fossil fuel guzzler.

And then... well, I'll post some more.

You cant make a writer without breaking some pens.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Those who wait

Patience is a trait I've learned a long time ago. when you cant afford to get what you want, you make due with what you've got.You also learn to look at the world with attention, as opportunities abound, for those who take the time to notice.

For instance, I have recently begun a job search, very laid-back like, applying to whatever looked mildly interesting. Barely twenty-four hours in, I already had a few contacts and one interview, with some letting me know in forty-eights hours the result. Another twenty-four, and if I had been available for e meeting, I might well have been offered a position already. I do have that meeting set up for next Monday, but it already looks promising, with the quite likely position offer before noon. At a better salary than I'm making now, benefits and so forth. So, a win already. And I'm still looking.

Another example: about a month ago, I lost my keys. Now, its not a lot of keys, but it was an annoyance, as the set contained the one copy of the key we'd need to get into the building in case of a power failure, and the two keys that open a lock I got and only used once, so annoyance all around. We looked and looked, tried to think about where they could have gotten, blamed it one the cats roughhousing, and left it at that.

Then tonight, as I'm picking up the laundry, they tumble out of the load.

Yet another: on that keyring I carried a small pocketknife. Nothing particularly fancy or expensive, but rather useful and convenient. I used it nearly everyday at work, till I lost it one day. Again, looked and looked, couldn't find the damn thing and considered it and annoying loss. Last week, given that the time was right, I did some cleanup of the walk-in, and t was lying there on the floor.

Loss is one thing, this one is one of opportunity; on Monday, after the interview, I was walking around downtown, looking at picking up a couple of Terry Pratchetts and the new Swans album, a good thing to listen to before the show on Friday. After breaking fats at Ye Olde Orchard (at three PM), my partner points out a little hat, a yidlid, looking for a good home. Now I'm not a religious man, but I certainly understand the memes and powers associated with symbols, so I picked it up. It will probably join an eclectic assortment of occult and religious artifacts, both bought and found, in my Cabinet of Shadows.

I could have panicked, and freaked out, and have caused myself unnecessary stress about the losts. I could torture myself for having picked up, or not having picked up the kippah, as an object of personal devotion and obedience that did not belong to me. But that sort of guilt has no power over me, just like I strive to not let that over which I have no control have any hold on my peace.

My peace is of my own making, just as my drive is to look forward; it does not prevent from looking up or down or sideways. You never know what you'll miss otherwise.

Monday, September 27, 2010

The long road to somewhere

The one thing that makes people wary and anxious about change, is that most significant change takes time, and most people are constrained by time so that they need anything to be done now, right now, in the exact way that they want it to happen.

But the universe doesn't work that way. The universe doesn't get bogged down in minutia, the fate of a single speck of dust is not on high priority when dealing with cosmic objects the size of supernovas.

When I returned to work, there was never any intent for me to stay there long. The game plan was to return to active duty, get through the summer, and then move on to the next step. I didn't want to start a new job while I was moving, there's enough stress to deal with on one front, I don't need to expand it.Now that the move is done, and the summer is over, its time for me to look for my next step.

Its sort of interesting, because the majority of my close circle is out of work and searching, all in the span of a month. Sometimes change just slams into you; other times, you can see it coming from a mile away, if your eyes are open to the signs all around you. Like how the work environment has become more and more poisoned, how coworkers are leaving, through choice or circumstances... and then you find out that your boss has put out recruitment notices for your position. Sure, I could see it as him finally seeing that one person cant do all that work by himself...

But I'm not blind, or stupid. I can read the signs on the wall.

So the search has begun. At this time, I have applied to a few jobs, and I've already gotten three calls and an interview. Its been less than twenty-four hours. It is quite possible that I'll have a new job by the end of the week, if history serves me right. And I'm still working, so I don't have to worry too much about the income, for now. Sure, I may find out that I'm let go tomorrow. But honestly, that doesn't bother or scare me at all.

If anything, fear has left the building.

Good luck world, I'm out and about, and I just don't give a fuck about your expectations.

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Work In Progress

Its been over a month now and time is starting to sink in. Moving to a new place, especially when you've taken the opportunity to ditch the less-than-satisfactory accumulated furniture, can certainly mean that you're living in a messy and less than organized space for a time. Without some of the required furniture, unpacking can be rather partial for quite a long time; but that's the game you have to play when you decide to upgrade.

Its a weird thing to do, upgrading, when you've spent years scrounging, fixing up, and just generally making due with whatever you could get your hands on. Why buy bookshelves, when you can just pick some up in the alley, paint them up and line them up against the wall, stacked with anything made out of paper with printed ink? Why spend the dough on a dresser when you can fix that thrift up, and dump your stacks of t-shirts in it?

Well, its a simple shift really, its when you start seeing the need for a coherent whole, instead of just a practical hodgepodge. Its actually a nice thing to have your bookshelves in a sort of logical sequence, where they are all pretty much the same size, or a matching set, where looking at them does not require you to squint your eyes to fuzz over the sight of them and shrug and give up. Its like moving on from wearing things that are "clean" to things that "match". Because all too often, things that match just work much better than just relying on things that work.

Up the benchmark as it is.

So after months of having not touched anything, of having packed it up, and at this point, having pretty much all of it just stacked up pelle-mele in the office, its time for a creative workspace to emerge. There are things that defy creativity; yes, it is possible to just write stuff up sitting on a busted box half a mile under the earth in a coal mine, but just because you can doesn't mean you should.

No matter how mentally strong you are, your environment does have an effect on your creative output, or even more to the point, on your creative drive. If you are of the creative type, and your life sucks, your work situation is precarious and your living arrangements are somewhat shifty, you tend to be highly motivated to run creative output marathons, where the least amount of tools are required to get the most amount out, because your motivation is so high up that you just have to express it or your head will explode.

But once all of that stabilize, you end up with the return of the pendulum, as the accumulated security of your existence will bog down the creative process. You tend to become focused maintaining the stuff you've accumulated, instead of making something new. And all that stuff piled up around you will act as miles and miles of intellectual speed bumps, slowing down the creative race to a snail's pace. Its not that you no longer get ideas, its that its become too cumbersome to actually act upon them.

But I have had enough of this shyte. Today is the day where I confront the procrastinating urge, and turn it into a proactive kick-in-the-ass for the artistic lunatic that lurks within.

I'm not claiming that there's a genius inside; but if I dont look for it and exercise my media muscles, I'll be thinking that TV writers are pretty damn good at their jobs pretty soon... and I dont know if I can live with myself accepting such mediocrity as a valid philosophy.

Here's to Chaos! Hail Eris!

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Get'er done

Five years. That's how long I had stayed at the previous location. And the previous one was something of the same order. I haven't moved a lot in the last ten years or so, probably because I had moved so much in the previous six. It gets to you after a while. While the place might not be fantastic, you make due with it, adapt to it's limitations, even tho, deep down, you really need to move on. All kinds of reasons pop up for not doing it, like jobs, lack of money, the perennial "well, its not so bad", which sounds like the kind of excuses one come up with to stick with an abusive relationship.

But I'm not codependent, I'm just a procrastinator, with the attention span of a Corvid (Ooh! Shiny!)

So the new place got selected, we dealt with the fun bit of getting a truck and a crew together. We started out by looking up the truck, a nasty business, as in this neck of the woods, its mass moving time, which means increasing fees and depleting availability the closer you get to the moving date. Mover are considered, and rejected, given the rates they charge. We settled on renting a cube, and it was a scramble. Dropping the heavy deposit and locking the credit card was making the whole process a squeeze, but you just gotta roll with it. We posted a call for help to friends, and while some answered positively, a few turned it down, with good reasons (like that they had committed to help someone else move already), and some did not even answer. But in the end, we got a crew.

Because my employer owns a shop that does deliveries, I figured, what the hell, why not ask him for a truck? And he agreed. So back to scrambling to cancel the rental in time, to avoid penalties. And then scramble for boxes for the packing process early on, as the mountain of boxes kept mounting, and still there seemed to be more to pack away. I though that a culling was in order, but you can only cull so much, and after a while, you have to readjust your priorities and you just end up dumping stuff in boxes, to be dealt with later.

I kept reminding my employer about the truck, but he wasn't setting things up with precision, which is a pain in the ass when you're trying to set things up like, say, a schedule, or your drivers. On the eve of the move, I ask him again about the truck, at which point he asks me "what day I'm moving again?" He had it set that I was moving a day later than reality, so the wait for the arrangement to go through was actually the most stressful part of the whole ordeal. When I hear back from him, I get to find out that I was getting the twelve-feet cube, not the sixteen that I had expected. Okay, pain it the ass, but can deal. Call the drivers and get things organized.

The next day starts early. Seven in the morning early. Mostly because there are still things to be packed away, some cleaning needs to be done, the usual moving chaos. While we are packing the two vans, the movers show up for the new tenant. Woopie! Now that it matters much, as we have already set room aside for them to move her stuff in anyways, but someone will have to stay to make sure that nothing shifty takes place. And it does. While we were out, the movers tried to dig into my tool box without asking, at which point our watchdog wailed into them. Considering that a good proportion of movers are ex-cons, let that be a warning for those who were thinking of dealing with them.

The vans packed, a crew is left behind to continue with the process, while we get the truck and dump the first van's load. We have to search around for awhile to figure out who to talk to, only to find out that we're actually getting a twenty-feet truck, which is awesome. And to highlight my status in the company, the boss came out of a meeting to wish me good luck and to see how things were going. The truck finally arriving, the driver takes it up and returns to the old apartment, while I go with the van to the new place to unload. While there is an elevator here, its moving time for several people, so we pretty much elect to bring the boxes up three flights of stairs by hand, which is a long and tedious process.

We return to the old place, and continue loading the truck. The fridge and stove we dumped in the alley earlier we already picked up by scrap metal men, or used appliance shops looking for free stuff. Either way, its a good thing. By seven thirty, we are done loading, the old place has been sweeped through to make sure nothing's been left behind, and away we go! Given that its been a long day already, we elect to park the vehicles and go for our well-deserved dinner. Conveniently, there's a decent bbq chicken place just up the street, at a reasonable price.

After dinner, we return to the apt, where we are joined by Kate and Dom for the big push. Its nine pm already and we have both a truck full of furniture and boxes, plus a van full to unload. Luckily, we now have the elevator to ourselves. Along with a pair of dollies, its makes the process a lot less tedious and more efficient. It still takes us till well past midnight to finish up, but eventually, everything's unloaded. The truck gets returned at something like one-thirty AM, so that by the time we're back home, we're bushed. Especially since that both me and Natasha had to get up to work in the morning. Yay us!

According to my buddy Dang, this was one of the smoothest and least troublesome move he's been involved in. I just was happy to be done with the whole process. I am thankful for all of those who have helped us, if only by providing good vibes, as every little bit helps.

Monday, June 21, 2010

the dark assembly and spooky boogie night: playlist 06-10-2010

A promoter had booked the venue some months back, but seem to have forgotten that you also have to advertise to get people to show up. The audience was very slim indeed, but since it was "punk", it didn't have too much of an impact (I hope) on our usual audience. But still, four bands for six bucks, and they couldn't get enough people to show up to count on one hand...

imaginary steps - when i'm gone
bauhaus - man with x-ray eyes (live)
joy division - passover
the cure - fascination street
siouxie and the banshees - israel
sisters of mercy - alice
der blutharsch - untitled
sol invictus - the killing tide
southern death cult - the crypt
birthday party - release the bats
the cramps - the mad daddy
queen adreena - pretty like drugs
killing joke - the fall of because
einsturzende neubauten - haus der luge
angels of light - all souls rising
tiger lilies - start a fire
christian death - the angel (cruciform)
howden/wakeford - the wormwood season
portishead - hunter
novy svet - traicon
nick cave and the bad seeds - jack the ripper
coil - love's secret domain
pimentola - psychopompos
akira - tetsuo

Thanks to Wax for giving up his spot to let me sling my mud. I'll just have to put a decent band together to make up for it :D

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Moving pains

I've moved between apartments before. I've been in tight spots.t with very little to  I've been stuck having to move with little to no notice. Its a tough spot to go through, but you go through it, and move on.

But as you move along in the world, as you move up, it gets more complicated; for one thing, you most likely accumulate more stuff. That has its own baggage. But you also most likely hook up and then its not one person dealing with a move, its two (or more.)

While having someone else in your life allows one to increase one's strengths, it also adds up to your weaknesses, in a geometric rate; they dont add up as a standard addition, they more like expand by the power of the number of participants. The growth is exponential.



The difficulty is further increased by emotional and intellectual differences, that have little to do with intelligence; they have more to do with one's perceptive filters and problem solving approaches. In most cases, the buck stops at the problem itself, seen in a way that expands it through a nasty system of parasitic dependency, inflating it to the point that it blocks any sort of light shinning through. In my case, I tend to see a problem as a group of circumstantial facts, which when analyzed, present their own weaknesses, cracking the walls of perceptions and allowing one to get a proper perspective on the situation at hand. Once that is achieved, the rest is to pick a path and follow through till resolution.



All that being said, while we are ahead on the organizing and packing, with a little over two weeks to go, some elements are popping up to throw a few wrenches in the machine, and there's the ghost screech of trouble ahead. Often, the problem lies in transportation, or lack thereof. It is very hard to move from one dwelling to another if you do not have some sort of vehicle. That got solved last week, when we secured a truck. The problem that then occurred, was that we had to clear out several pieces of furniture; the solution was to call up the Salvation's Army to schedule a pickup, but they didn't have a free spot till August. Not good. Others were just as problematic. So I cut the middleman, and put out an ad, offering it all for free. Surprisingly, I have received about a dozen messages, and there's already some pieces gone, with more to go.

But the big itch, the true wrench in the cogs, it that while we have the truck from noon to five thirty, we only have access to the apartment at four. And so far, its possible that we might need to make two trips.



So I have to roll with it and think fast. Do we go for extra transport? Do we look at temporary storage? Or do we get the time frame changed? How about all of the above?

So tomorrow is going to require a lot of phone calls. And maybe a little bit of begging for favors.

But I'll pull us through. Even if its going to be a close shave.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

You can rely on old men to make a mess

Having been a pretty steady renter for many years, two properties in a row, the time had come to pack up and move. However, circumstances were that we had already renewed the lease, so due ti territorial regulations, a 90 period is required to be given for the lease to be terminated. At the time, this made it For August 1rst.

Given that most leases terminate on July 1rst and the mad scramble would take place on that day, we felt pretty comfortable with our schedule, as we wouldn't have to fight it out with other movers, and we wouldn't have to get gouged by professionals, cashing in on the money pot. Our new place was also happy to have us moving in a little later than everybody else, as that meant less pressure and more convenience for everybody involved.

But then, things got old-man complicated. As in, every time we spoke, the current landlord changed his needs/requirements. You could smell the building up panic. Pushing back the moving date one day, taking it back another; increasing rent, decreasing rent... messy, messy times.

So this morning, I got another visit from him, and now, we have to move out for the 1rst of July. We now have three weeks to wrap things up, gather a crew, figure out if we get a truck (with any luck), or do we hire professionals, deal with the extra furniture... on the other hand, we dont have to pay for the July rent at this current place. Oh, and I still have to clean up and finish the bathroom.

So, apparently, there was a tectonic shift in the last year that's reflecting on pretty much all areas of our lives. Its crazy, its messy, but it seems to be going in the right direction.

Onward and upward!

Friday, May 28, 2010

On the importance of purpose

If any change came out of last summer's adventure, its a renewed sense of purpose. If anything, I find that the majority lack this sense of purpose, going through life in routine motions, expecting that tomorrow will look pretty much the same as today. This is why most people react poorly when the wrench is tossed in the gears and routine goes out the window. Living week to week, day to day, the plan is pretty basic, mostly involving getting the paycheck and paying the bills.

And careers. I cannot stand that poor meme. I cant abide with the idea that I'm expected to pick a single path and stick to it till the paradise of retirement. If anything, careers no longer exist and retirement is something of a pipe dream.

I strive to act with purpose, move with purpose, think with purpose. Not to the benefit of anybody else, for their goals and dreams. but for my own, my own plans my own expectations about myself. People who thrive in the service of others are those who have an emptiness inside and feel a desperate need to fill the gap. That is the purpose of religion, and to my mind, the obsession with being "in a relationship." It is expected that its a fulfillment, but its mostly about gaping the wound in the soul. If relationships happen, they happen, if they dont they dont, so deal with that fact. Have purpose for yourself.

If you wait too late, you've only got yourself to blame.

This bring me to the current issue. My landlord, a nice guy and all, cant seem to really decide what he wants to do about our moving out. First it was okay, on a three months period; then he asked us to stay; once we said, its done, we're moving, then we were to find someone to take the lease... or something. Now, it seems that he would have liked us to move for July 1rst, because he's have a hit period of moving, and he wants to increase the rent.

It mostly seems that he's finally cluing in to the idea that our moving out might be a good thing, which I had told him, but its a little late in the process now. He didn't have a plan, because he expected us to stay another year. He didn't increase rents much all this time, possibly because it might have enticed us to move out. But now that he's struggling to get loans and so forth, apparently because he doesn't charge enough rent, now he wants to increase it in one shot twice as much as he has increased it for the 5 years I've been here.

My purpose remains the same, my direction remains the same, our timing remains pretty much the same. Our plan needs no change, as I'm sticking to the original agreement. His plans get thrown on the side, as he never really had one in the first place.

I have no time for those without purpose, without direction. I follow my own creed, I listen to my own advice, and to hell with those who thing that they can stand in my way.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Being in charge

Moving out is always contains a certain element of stress, no matter the amount of excitement involved. After all, you have to pack up all your belongings, change addresses, deal with utilities, and so forth. You unwrap the cocoon and move it to its new location, hoping for the best.

In this city, the majority of moves are done on July 1st, which causes massive chaos, as streets are blocked off, the costs of movers shoot up, and the crazy hunt for a new abode is condensed in a fairly maddening three month (the regulatory warning period one must give for the landlord to find new tenants.)

And then, there's cases like ours, where we had agreed to renew, and then asked to drop it. Our three months just got shifted some, which isn't that bad when you think about it, since that we dont have to fight it out with the rest of the population for moving services.

But.

Having just announced to our landlord, who had asked us to reconsider and stay) that we were, yes, moving, I was told that we were now also in charge of finding new tenants. So I guess that we're transferring the lease. Because we didn't have enough already to deal with, we now have to put out an add, take pictures, deal with viewings... and get the chosen one approved by the landlord.

The lucky winner will get the chance to obtain some free furniture, but still, this is now our responsibility to deal with. Great.

Lets see how much rental magic this sorcerer can muster...

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Do not adjust your tv set

Last week was pretty hellish, but not because it was particularly hectic. Well, it was, sort of. As in, increasing return-to-work workload, combined with the hunt for an apartment. So, yeah, fairly hard on the nervous system. Hard enough that the rehab had diagnosed neurological fatigue.

Which in fact, didn't happen.

My educated guess is that the pressure of the increased workload, and the limbo land of waiting for the rental application to go through sucked the system dry. Especially since that the landlord tried to talk us into keeping the lease for another year, trying to scare us or something, which didn't work, but there's always doubt when the decision is out of your hand.

But Tuesday came, and the energy were actually running high, no fatigue... and then the phone call. Ahead of time, which could go either way, but it was positive, as our request was approved. Talk about awesome. And since we're back in control of our living arrangements, I'll be back in control of my work situation too, as next week its the last of my test drive, and its going to be full time. After that, its back to work, period. I'll have a last meeting with the rehab folks and out with them.

Back in control.

And back to my real paycheck. It doesn't seem like much, but 90% of the paycheck is still a gap. The extra $30-40 a week can go a long way if properly managed.

So I'll be back in the driver's seat. Soon in a new, better, quieter home, that supports animals companions, so we dont have to hide anything, and we'll be able to get a nice big snuggly cat.

Its been a wild and crazy ride.

Onward and upward.

Monday, May 17, 2010

A showcase of good tastes

Well, anyone can claim that they can cook; I go a few steps beyond, transforming existing products into something that is so much more.


First example, is my homemade subs. slow poached onions, mushrooms, three kinds of meat and good proper cheese. Why would I want to eat the takeout stuff?


Ah, one of my favorites: goat cheese, matured in wine for three months. Great stuff.


Chili roasted turkey: this is turkey the way it should be. Eat as is, or pull the meat off to add to a dish.


Frittata, the Spanish breakfast of champions. Seriously a great way to start your day, especially if its Sunday.


Another easy dish, mussels. A kilo pack, when coupled with a baguette and the delicious, flavorful soup makes a full meal unto itself. I would add nothing more than a light crispy green salad.



And finally, last night's dinner: roasted bone marrow. The bit of sauce you can peek behind the bones is my personal touch to an easy dish, a delicious condiment that I will certainly make again: sauted onions, with a good amount of butter, salt, black pepper and mustard powder, which is then roasted with the bones in a good amount of good beer. Delicious!

Saturday, May 15, 2010

We lost control

When dealing with somewhat major changes, like a new place of dwelling, there are many things involved which you can do that will make things smoother. Its always a good idea to check your finances, determine what you're looking for , the upper and lower limits, both of your budget and what you're looking to obtain. Its always a recommendation that you move up, rather than sideways; trading for the same, but different makes no logical sense.

Preparing ahead of time is always helpful. Whether its the packing, the scouting of locations, or just checking to see just how much movers cost, preparation is half the game.

Once that you've gotten the intelligence together, its time to sit down and prepare your strategy. Where you'll campaign, for how long, and so forth. That being done, you work out your tactics on the ground; make the calls, set appointment, visit, ask questions. Get a short list together, look at the pros and cons, pick a pack leader. Then apply for it.

And that's when you lose control. Because other, external factors come into play. The ones you can only control so much. Will you get a good reference from your current landlord? From your bank? How deep will they dig? Are there any factors that will be seen as a problem by the actual owner, someone whom, most likely, you'll never meet, as you deal with the building manager?

After all the canvassing, begins the waiting game.

And you thought that you were stressed before...

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Who's the boss

Today, after a ten months absence I returned to work.

I cant really say that I missed the place. Its not that I was happy to stay home and get paid for it; been there, done that, got my t-shirt and used it to clean the windows. The habits born of not answering anyone for my whereabouts for a long enough period of time will take some time to plow over, but at the beginning, it'll take some focused effort.

Ironically, I had been looking forward to this, not so much to "return to the workforce", but to stop being dependent for my income. Especially since that when I left the live-in rehab (aka phase two), I was on a good action roll. I would have plowed through phase three and would have been back at work six months ago. But some unseen forces decided that this wasn't gonna happen.

So the habits set in, and weight poured on, and I am back at the place I was two years ago. Well, minus the bike. I am going to return to the road, but first, getting my schedule in order is what's the most important. And finding a new apartment.

So this spring is going to be somewhat... hectic. But its to be expected really. When you're in a rut for long enough, any decision encouraging change tends to snowball into an avalanche, with more and more little bits of chaos adding on, and the best thing you can do is learn to surf the wave. Trying to stop, or slow it down will lead to nothing but broken bones and unnecessary wear and tear. Build some muscles, and you'll just be able to move larger and larger obstacles out of the way to your goals.

There is no turning back; the past is that dead thing in the closet that's wearing your mother's nightgown. The future is the bright light coming from the doorway. And now, you get to be born, again and again.

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Risk

When dealing with any sort of challenge, a good strategic mind looks at the various options before deciding on the course of action. One has to weight the costs, in money and effort, versus the gains or losses, whether this path leads to better results than those, and so on.

Most of the time, the biggest impediment to strategic thinking involves emotional speculation. We tend to use our imagination mostly to do shoddy guess work of other people's reactions to a situation, mostly due to fear and social anxiety. As an example, how many people declare themselves of a particular religion or denomination, simply because that's "hows its done and that's how it goes", because being Irish means being Catholic, or being Arab means being Muslim, or being an inner city black means being something of a gangster and ghetto, and so forth.

How many people imagine what life is and how life works, entirely based on what goes on within the confines of their little neighborhood? A fish in a tank cannot imagine what life is like, or even conceive of such a thing as the sea. If you keep your vision short and narrow, then strategic thinking cannot take place; at best, you can do very well tactically, which is short and narrow indeed, envisioning only a limited array of possibility of outcomes and consequences. That is how most mistakes are made, and how people get stuck in a rut.

By thinking strategically, it is necessary to look beyond the next work day, the next week, the next corner. You have to start thinking beyond what your family would think, and start seriously thinking about longer term effects. How likely are those inconveniences to remain, versus the effects of the benefits? Is not attending a family dinner worth your mother being pissed off a few months versus attending a workshop that will benefit you for months, or years to come? Whose opinion matters the most, the career counsellor's, or your dad's? Does the family tradition of being in this one area, and working in this field, for generations on end the best plan? r should you start looking outside the home range for a range of possibilities?

Often, strategic thinking involves looking at a challenge from multiple angles, which bears different viewpoints that allow for more complex geometric thinking. It does require some more work in preparation, and a different challenge unto its own, as this way of thinking requires to ask questions, and get answers, to work at its most effective. Strategic thinking needs masses of information, and a certain degree of mental discipline, to allow for the proper management of that accumulated data, for organization and analysis. If that skill is lacking, then you will end up with a gap, which will lead to false leads and inappropriate goals, which will certainly impede your success.

If the strategic analysis is done sufficiently, then the planning stage will be far more accurate, leading to less tactical work, given that false leads have been culled, and emotive blocks conquered with rational discipline. With improved planning, less work has to actually take place afterward, as your intelligence gathering and analysis already took place, and allowed you to determined the incremental goals that needed to be achieved for attaining your ultimate goal. This data gathering and analysis will allow you to correctly identify your obstacles, and often, the proper target for action. Sometimes, the best way to convince dad to let you go to college, instead of continuing the family's tradition of coal mining, is to convince grandpa that its a good idea. Just as you are impeded in your thinking by his possible reaction to your decision, he is also impeded in his by his bondage to the perceived importance of family tradition. Single industry towns are pits of despair, as they are unable to conceive of life without that industry, or life outside their county for that matter.

By analyzing the data, and filtering your tactical mind through the filter of your objectives, you can decypher the correct course of action for success. Do you go by the book and follow all the steps, just to make sure you win as much as possible, even if you'll endure endless haggling and anxiety because of too many actors getting involved, with far too many decision power and possibly fickle rationale? Or do you condense your tactics, target the most direct decision maker and deal with a minimum of actors in a minimum amount of time?

Sometimes, the hardest part of the decision making process is the first active step. Making plans is not hard; its acting upon them that is. But if your endgame is to improve your living arrangements, then plan and act accordingly.

And treat your companions, animal and human, to a damn good meal in the bargain.

Monday, April 26, 2010

Lone gunman

A man who gets picked on would be very tempted to just immediately retaliate, and in some cases, it makes tactical sense to do so. If successful, you'll be left alone, win or lose, either because you wont take their shit, or because if you snapped, then you're crazy, and no one in their right mind messes with crazies.

Tactics is what makes you want to slash a guy's car tires. Its immediate gratification for the target's abusive behavior. And its quick and easy.

But.

It leads to escalation. Cause there's  good chance that he'll know who did it. And then the police are more likely to take for him than you, because you have caused property damage, and at that level of action, it might just be enough juicy action to get them involved. That's the limitation of tactics.

Now, if one was to take the time to think and plan, the whole busted tires, graffiti, or stink bomb tossed into the place of business gets pretty petty. After all, if he just happens to have more backing than you, all he has to do is become a physical threat, and then you're less than likely to raise a fuss and you'll just take your hole and shut up.

Strategically, you want to start by gathering some intelligence. You want to catch a vulnerability or two. You want to use existing tools for your purpose, towards the accomplishment of your goal. You use time as your ally, instead of your enemy.

Strategy is when you can get a whole picture, when you have the map of the whole city, instead of the target neighborhood. Its establishing goals that require more than one step to accomplish, more than one actor to play it's part. Strategy isn't a fixed path, its a destination to be reached.

Then tactics come into play. The short-term cause-and-effect actions, where limited objectives are accomplished with the goal in mind. The win-or-lose endgame is mostly a tactical situation, more dependent on the unforeseen actors stepping in to help or hinder you. Strategy, when well understood and coherently planned, is an ever-flexible beast, open to dynamic changes and directional shifts. Like apologizing to someone who insulted you to get him to drop his guard and let you slide in close where the right blow can cause even more damage than what the original tactic called for.

That being said, sometimes, the best tactic, the one more conducive to your strategic goals, is to play it by the book. Because simply put, a lot of struggles thrive because people aren't willing to do what's necessary; they fight for appearance, so that they dont look like pussies, but really, they dont have the will to win.

But if you plan to win, then you must fight to win. All that matters then, is how you define winning.

And the best strategy is to play your cards as openly as possible, yet still come out on top by superior pokerface. I intend to win. I have had enough losses to last me a lifetime.

Sunday, April 25, 2010

A swift kick in the head

Sometimes, your plans get thrown a wrench. The measure of a man, or woman, is how they respond to the situation. Do you bitch and moan? Do you file a complaint and hope that the problem goes away? Or do you roll with it?

A few months back, we had decided that we were moving to a new place. We had started looking at apartments, we had a good idea where we'd end up going, how much it'd cost, but we didn't have the cash on hand; after all, you need the first month of rent, and you have to figure out the moving costs. So I looked at getting a loan. That didn't go over well, as I hadn't been all that smart about using it, so I was denied. Given that situation, the move was put on hold till the financial situation got resolved.

Now, the plan was to fix the credit thing, save some cash, and take the time to find the best place possible at our leisure. I had taken the credit-fix steps, I was on the way to start putting some cash in savings, the back bills were being cleared out, and then it came up that I could start returning to the workplace in the coming weeks, so that I could start seeing some more cash coming in, and while were at it, its quite likely that my girlfriend might get a raise too, so all was going well, yeah?

Turns out that, no. I had expected summer to be something of a bitch, since that the patio would be set up, and there would be some more clientele at a later time in the downstairs bistro, but I figured, we can pull with that for a while more and then move out.

But the bastard is a selfish ambitious bastard. The downstairs bistro has been holding some parties till 3 am, DJs and all. The volume was so loud, the stuff on the shelves were vibrating. Now, if I had moved over a bar, or club, I'd understand. But that isn't the case. Hell, I moved in here before he set up shop down there. Anyways, I called he cops, complaining about the noise level. Took a while for them to respond. Like 2 1/2 hours. And when they get there, I find out that the bistro's getting a bar license. What that means, essentially, is that he can stay open till 3 am every night, sell alcohol and pump up the volume all that time. A dreadful prospect with summer coming.

The area is an up-and-coming neighborhood, an old low-income/welfare area that's being gentrified, condos and fancy shops and all. And he's into the fancy shop shit. If you were a counsellor and you had to pick sides between a thriving business and a pissed-off citizen, in an area that going gentrified, who would you pick? We got our answer when the cops visited and talked to them, but it essentially changed nothing. We get to look forward to near-unlivable nights for the foreseeable future.

So the plan got it's wrench. Well, its sort of back to square one, really. We're leaving as soon as possible, lease renewed or not. Its unlivable, and we cant win, so why fight on his terms? We're back into looking at our financial options, which will most likely be harsh, but I'd rather drop some cash than deal with the asshole downstairs.

The way I see it, we'll have to move aggressively, purge smartly and pack out stuff and leave. I cant say that I care much for this place, we were to move out anyways. But the timing gets thrown a curve ball, and we just gotta roll with it. We might have to downgrade the budget, but we have to get one available ASAP. And we will.

One way or another.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Our Lady of the Bones

From Wikipedia:

"Left Hand Path is a term used in occultism for one kind of spiritual path. It is the opposite of the Right Hand Path, which is what most people think of when they think of religion or spirituality.
The use of this term in occultism came from a term used in Hindu Tantra, Vama marga in Sanskrit. This ancient form of tantra used the breaking of rules (taboos) as part of the practice. Rules about diet and sex were broken on purpose. For example, rules against eating meat and drinking alcohol might be broken. Such a practice might require eating meat and drinking alcohol while having sex in a graveyard or cremation ground.
People who follow the Left Hand Path in the West are not interested in giving up pleasure or the world in order to be spiritual. They are not interested in worshiping God or following rules made up by others. They seek to gain power and freedom by breaking through taboos, fears and restrictions.
Many people link this term with Satanism and black magic, but they are not the same. The Left Hand Path is sometimes described as amoral."

I'm not one to go on about morality, taboos, or anything like that. The restrictions of the "official" organizations, whatever they are, tend to sound more self-serving than anything, either falling into the religious spin, or the "secret club" game, but mostly, its about "follow the leader." Its not a game I play well. I can listen to what's being said, it may make sense at the time, and I may fall for it... briefly. Unfortunately for groupies, my basic makeup makes me pretty self-reliant, so the onboard critical lens flips back on and the bullshit scalpel comes in and starts removing the unnecessary fodder, which in many cases, strips most of the message. In the end, all that is left is technique, or at least, those that work in my personal repertory.

Whats the point of all this? Well, if you've read any of the previous posts, you'll notice a pretty obvious path of questioning, one of conscious transition, from whatever state I was in to whatever will be next. I have been doing all sorts of things, not necessarily constantly, but transitional periods are rarely consistent; think of how it was to be a teenager and you'll quickly understand what I mean.

One of the recurring themes of the period has been the purge. All kinds of things get collected over the years, some of them casually, some with intent, but they collect. Eventually, they collect dust. That dust can be both the common layers that lay of the objects in the house as they lie forgotten, but there's plenty of dust that accumulates elsewhere, layers of crap that weights down the mind and spirit, all kinds of clutter that clumps down thought patterns and prevent you from moving forward, like all the stuff that piles up in your house.

While I've been doing some purges some time back, collection has renewed and I've fallen back into the bad patterns.

But.

Recent turns of events, when taken in a certain sight, tells me that the transition continues and some paths get revealed to be dead ends. Not long ago, I opened some communication channels with a fine lady with apparent knowledge and demonstrated experience with the more creative and dynamic paths of evolution. Then the goals I had been vaguely pursuing in my physical work have been identified and the routine has been set to put me on the path of achieving them. This week, as I was leaving the gym, I had a simple choice: turn right go wandering to the commercial path where money gets easily blown away on knicknacs, or do I turn left, grab some fish and go home? I turned left. Then the next day, I cleared up some space and did some home workout. Today, I decided to finally drop by the pawnshop and see if that little gizmo I had spotted a while back was still there, and since the price was quite agreeable, I picked it up.

And its a great little piece of work.

All this is, in my mind, an indication that I am going the right way. It lit up some areas I had been setting aside where more cleanup is required. It allowed me to see how those ares could be dealt with. I can feel myself moving forward again. Sure, inertia is still the bastard that slows me down, but the running I've been doing shows me that I can move forward at very nice speed, and with endurance, so its all about kicking myself in the butt.

There are different ways of getting motivated. There are others that can motivate you, consciously or not. But the basic fact is, you have to have your mind open to those possibilities. And its amazing what nearly two months stuck lying down can do to get you motivated. That, and the musty smell of the grave.

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Stayathomebody

I have been off work for ten months now. Post hospital, I've pretty much have been a stay-at-home guy, through no real fault of my own. During all this time, there was a period of high energy and motivation, which had its definite advantages, like getting the house in order, purging loads of accumulated stuff of all kinds, furniture and so forth; some things got replenished, I blew a bunch of money...

Well, thats not the point of this post; the problem that occurred had more to do with the fact that after a while, you know, winter sets in, and, especially since I had something of a foot problem, I didn't get out much, and had next to no exercise. I gained weight. Bastard thing is that I had lost weight while in the hospital, and that was a good thing; the plan was that after I went back home and moved on the phase three, that working out would continue, minus the impediment of extra weight, so I would have gotten closer to me goal, and faster. But, heh, it just wasn't meant to happen, and I put on the pounds.

I had a suspicion that I had; its really hard to fool yourself that you can still fit in those pant when you need to suck in your gut to do so. So when they did the basic physical evaluation at the rehab gym, and I found out just how much weight I had put on, I cant say that I was happy; as a matter of fact, I was right back at the weight I was two years ago, when I gave boxing a try. There was a bit of a screw up, and an unexpected break from the gym sessions took place. I had a physical evaluation done by the doc, and... fucking hell, I had gained even more weight. I'm actually at the heaviest I have ever been (and measured.)

Lets just say that I'm not happy. I cant really say that I'm bummed out, or depressed. No, given my spiritual makeup and past, I'd say that I'm more like... pissed off. Now, it'd be easy, and damn convenient, to blame others for my situation; I do, to a certain degree, but really, I've been pretty lazy. Its even easier. Why work out, when there's all that stuff going on online? Why workout when there's all that stuff piled in the way? Why work out when I can work out tomorrow? Why work out... well, you get the idea.

There are NO logical or reasonable reasons I didn't work out. My brain, due to old programming and bad habits, just cant be bothered to make exercising a real priority, so it'll create a bunch of actually weak and senseless excuses that create non-existent obstacles to my goal. So the big project at this point is ditching that mental trash.

Its not like I am lacking in knowledge, or equipment, I have plenty of that. I can get a proper workout everyday, if I can just my head in the proper space. So its a mental workout, which will lead to a physical workout. Something I have been considering is joining a gym, or a martial arts class. If anything, the financial commitment would certainly provide sufficient incentive to get a workout every day, or at least, several times a week. Using a gym would take away most of my excuses (like stuff being in the way), but a martial arts class would sort of do double duty, getting be in better shape, while allowing me to learn new skills that would come in handy.

I have set myself pretty ambitious goals; that is certainly not something I can be faulted for. I have time; besides the rehab, I dont really have anything going on for a while. I can set aside the money and get things under way.

But do I have the guts?

Do I have the drive?

Will I commit?

We shall see.

Sunday, April 4, 2010

Its like riding a bicycle

So last night I attended Nevermore for the first time. Its a local "old school" Goth night, not so much a club night, more like an event, given that its every few months or so. And old school, in the case, is not, say nothing but 80's stuff, its that its about the stuff that used to be played 5-10 years ago, say just before the whole EBM thing really kicked in.

So overall, it was bearable, if a little hot for my tastes (unusually warm sprint weather combined with the traditional bad club ventilation designed to get you to drink more), but it was nice to see less of the plastic kids than usual. I can honestly say that the worst part was the guest DJ, who, yes, used to DJ locally 5-10 years ago, but was one of those responsible for the EBM shit thing, and I cant say that I missed that. At all. Especially the damn shit he played. Seriously, just because KMFDM made it a sort of trademark of theirs to release remixes of their tunes and call it a release doesn't mean that it makes sense to do an entire set of that sort of crap. Also, you know why there's no such thing as "retro dance nights"? its because all that dancy stuff has a life expectancy of about 6 months after it was released. Bouncy stuff really doesn't ago well.

But I digress; while I have attended that sort of events before, and I have reminisced in private and confidence about that sort of thing, last night's vibe actually put something into perspective that had been perplexing me of late; I felt out of touch. I just couldn't blend in, feel the flow, just enjoy the party. There were so many little pointless nagging details that were distracting me that I couldn't just experience it.

I have mentioned in my previous post that I felt out of sync, that I was more of an observer than a participant. That has not changed; what has changed is my understanding of the ongoing process. I have been spending some time and effort recently, helping my girlfriend deal with far too many years of trouble, to reinvent herself, to build who she is.

And now, it just downed on me that its my turn, as this disconnection had taken place quite some time back, leading to a burnout and subsequent questionings and changes. The process of reinvention had been taking place all this time, but on a subconscious basis, bits and pieces at a time. There's been trials and errors, there are things that have been considered, experienced, left by the wayside, or stuffed on a shelf. There things that have been yet considered or attempted, due to all sort of little psychological hang-ups, perceived or not.

It is a pupa stage, where the transformation takes place, a sort of adolescence of awkwardness and misconceptions, of self-torture and delusion. But it is transformative, in that after all is said and done, something new and shiny and dynamic will emerge, to take to the sky anew and pursue more focused goals.

In the meantime, work is required; the body needs to reach its potential, the mind needs to remember its existential focus, the creative needs to remember what work means and the spiritual needs to remember what its all about.

And on the way, there will be blood. But I have shed mine; someone else needs to bleed now.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Out of synch

On Friday I went out and about in the hip area of Montreal, where I had some time to kill before meeting up with my girl. So, as is my habit, I went browsing a couple of places, just to see if I could stumble upon a nice deal.

It was a dead end all over. Its a weird feeling when you look at items that not that long ago you'd have dished out some cash for, you have them in your hand, you dont exactly have a problem with the price, but the thought that comes to mind is, I cant be bothered.

The selection does not attract me. I have actually fallen off the band wagon a little while back. Its becoming quite a bit more difficult to buy albums, because I have been out of stream for long enough that I dont know any of the new bands. And that's not mentioning the old ones who have not only fallen off the wayside, but actually seem to revel in their state and seem to spend more time digging their fetid pit than realizing that they're in one.

And its not just music; just walking about, I see all these people go by and I quite simply cant relate to them. While normally, the spring weather brings out the more revealing outfits and let the females of the species set off ocular beacons for the male members, if there were any, I didn't notice. I actually stopped noticing a while back. I cant say that current fashion trends help at all.

One of the things I've been splurging on (besides foods) has been books. Tho cookbooks certainly normally make a good half of my purchasing attention, I've been picking up some fiction lately; some Pratchett, because we haven't read all the Diskworld novels yet, but also, I've returned to my old stomping grounds and picked up several novels of Dungeons and Dragons; I wanted to return to my old ways, feel the old magic... but the magic's gone.

Its sad when you get right down to it. Dungeons and Dragons is certainly an influence, and was a motivation, for getting into writing. I'll freely admit that much of what I did write has more to do with heroic fantasy fiction than anything modern or scifi. Its my ballgame I guess. In a way, getting my hands on those books was a way to reconnect with the genre, but also somewhat scouting the field, to see what the "competition" was like. Er. Yeah. No. No no no no no. I cant say that I expected Howard to come out of his grave and write anew. But what the hell, guys?

See, D&D was purchased a while back by Hasbro, who saw money possibilities there, and has been trying to milk it since then. Which make sense, in a business way. But they are treating it just like any franchise, so its all about expanding the niche, getting the Playstation kids and selling more toys. That the novel are related to the product, I get it. But let me put it this way: I have been gaming for 20 years. I'm not through the second chapter yet and I feel the need to pull out the reference books to look up the creatures that are being put in. Also, I feel the need to pull out a baseball bat and take out my resentment on the writers, who are hired to pull out this shit.

I'm out of the spin, I cant connect. I've become an observer and I cant quite understand what the hell is going on. I feel the need for subtitles, just so that I can get some sort of frame of reference. But between you and me, I feel somewhat positive about the future.

Cause if that's the competition I'm up against, then bring it on, guys. Do your best.

And good luck.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Playlist for a wake (of sorts)

Last night I spun what is pretty much my last set for a while, and it was unforeseen; the night is winding down to its last few events, being replaced with some other weekly biz (no foul on the venue, but if you can bring in more paying customers as promised by the promoter, wouldn't you?) I wasn't scheduled to take part, but the officially listed DJ asked me to spin with him, a very nice and generous offer, I must say, and how could I say no? I quickly tossed together a book (as I had taken my bible apart a few days before), but I used somewhat different selections, going for less folksy stuff and more... abrasive material.

part 1

der blutharsh - untitled
laybach - propaganda
chapelle nitrique - lesson 4
cyclotomia - nwo
swans - stupid child
jarboe - shiva could not be defeated by any m
an or god, anywhere

part 2

sanctum - lets eat!
die form - spiral 1
genevieve pasquier - order of thoughts
pimentola -  sairaus ryomii silmistasi sisaan 2

the set ended up starting later than expected, because the venue was showing some doc on SNFU (and the frontman was in the audience...) later than expected, so we were delayed about, oh, an hour. And the official DJ, who normally either spins from a laptop, or burns CDs suffered a technological setback as his machine decided that life wasn't worth living anymore, so I ended up getting most of the airtime. As an extra irony, this was one of the largest attendance this night; I guess that the whole "not EBM/hard electro" thing just isn't that cool with the kids. Meh, doesn't change a thing for me. I'm just happy that I got to spin, and even more, I spun one of my own creation (which highlighted how much I need to work on the whole editing/processing thing in the future), and a few pieces that had gotten left by the wayside due to this or that.

Would I spin again? Sure. I like it. Is it likely that I'll have the opportunity in the foreseeable future?

Very unlikely. I'm just not part of the cool set, mate.

Monday, March 15, 2010

Of pitchforks and bullhorns

The yearly Anti Police Brutality demo just went by outside. Mostly street punks, but more than just the locals, so probably patched up with out-of-towners. Bunch of kids that look like university students, probably kids who think that they are politically enlightened, but most likely, deluded. There were some older guys, but they were few and far between. I'd say that the median age is about 21, at best. I'd say that the average outfit would cost about $20, if it weren't for the sheer amount of studded belts and band patches. Generally grubby, "street" look. There were several kids wearing some sort of face masks, probably to "hide" their identities. Several Black Block wannabes. Several wannabe anarchists.

I'm fine with speaking out against abuse; I'm fine with pointing out bullies; I'm fine with targeting global chain outlets for political statements. What this was, however, is a bunch of teens who haven't really got any sort of plan, pounding the asphalt thinking that they are righteous in their "liberty" of thought. Of course, the fact that they go out of their way to get in people's faces, actually challenging people to mess with them... well, how can they rightfully complain afterwards if they get their asses kicked? You walk around broadcasting aggression 24/7, how can you be surprised that some people, who pack the sort of power that allows them to get away with it, will gladly beat the shit out of you, with a broad smile on their face?

If I were to define myself politically, am an anarchist by sympathy; those kids may call themselves anarchist, but that's just a cool label. In fact, what they are is troublemakers, and even more, teenagers that refuse to grow up. They just dont get it, because they dont think, and they are completely unable to see any issue from multiple points of view. They are unable to make any sort of meaningful contact with other groups, because they lack any sort of actual human empathy; they can only link up according to their limited, but profoundly anchored ideology. They are the exact same crop as the KKK and other extreme groups, just with a somewhat different label.

Overall, fail.

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Trick question.

You want to set yourself an interesting challenge? Get nine guitars; then figure out the most effective way to store them in a way that leave them accessible and keeps the whole setup easily movable, yet stable. Take into consideration that you're going to be dealing with different types of guitars, of different sizes and shapes, from a mini concert to a hollow body electric and possibly a bass.

Oh, and you are on a limited budget.


Getting creative yet?

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Junkie

If you'd have asked me a year ago if I were likely to change my tech for something up to date, and whether it'd change my behaviors, I'd have laughed at you.

And now, here I am, looking at my new phone and my first ever charges for text messenging, as I've busted the plan limit; trying to figure out whether I'm going to keep this little guy (which overall works just fine), or whether I'll take advantage to my trial period to upgrade to a smartphone (damn you bells and whistles!)



And here I am, typing away on a netbook, while preparing to sell off my desktop, to be replaced by an external memory drive, flat screen and possibly two new small computers, possibly two netbooks, all in a wireless network for the new home.



Damn nabbit, I'm becoming a tech junky, and all that thanks to a truck door strike of lifestyle inspiration...

Its all about timing, really

A few weeks ago, I had determined that I would be leaving this apartment, and neighborhood, for a much nicer, quieter, less commercial, and overall, better area. Leaving this place would imply a higher rent, but that would pretty much be the case wherever we went, especially given the cost to space ratio. This place now is still livable, its the neighborhood that's basically a pit in the process of gentrification.

For those who dont know how that process feels like, or aren't familiar with the area, let me give you a brief description: this is an area that was for a long time one of the armpits of the city, a cheap hood where blue collar families and welfare dynasties mixed up with crack whores and street punks; so basically, fairly lively and colorful, if you dont mind tar as a color scheme. With the real estate boom, some years back, this became a sought after area for developers, as the land cost was still pretty low, so condos have been popping up with a discomforting regularity. As the condos build up, the new tenants moved in: students, young professionals, young families and gays who ended up being excluded from the close-by gay area due to costs and lack of space. these fine folks mix in with the remaining locals, tho many are being pushed out, due to rent increase and just general property value, tho some left because they were "no longer welcome" in the area, like the skinheads. So gentrification has its good points. But also its bad, with awful buildings, pseudo city parks set up to try and discourage the low-rent locals from gathering there, and pretentious and chichi boutiques setting up shop to cater to the new kids.

But that is not the point. We put some math down and looked at the numbers, and it'd be conceivable that we move out on our current means, if a bit tightly. Given last year's events, being tight for a more extended period of time might not be the best game plan. So I came up with a solution: take a small loan. I've done it before, might even do it again, and it'd have taken care of the unknowns and our needs for the coming months.

But I was refused. And will continue to be refused unless I clear up my credit for a good six months solid. Which means that I'm renewing the lease, if only to find a way out of it later.

So what's this thing about timing then?

The thing is that, in hindsight, and hindsight being so great and all, that I had the potential to have dealt with this a few months back, when I got my insurance payments. Had I planned then, this matter would have been resolved at the source and I'd be packing boxes already. But then, I wasn't thinking of moving, not really. The thought wasn't in the headlines, so to speak, so that planning didn't happen.

But I'm not bitching about the past, its just not my style; its like focusing on problems instead of solutions. So instead of saying "if I knew then...", I'm looking at the opportunities that present themselves: we can start strengthening our finances; do the furniture upgrades that were going to take place in the move anyways; finish the clutter purge at a more leisurely pace; and feel less pressure to finding a new place, and settling on whatever is available now, and find something that is much more according to our needs and can fit our upgraded lifestyle, which we are still defining.

Getting old is when any sort of difficulty becomes a problem; youth is when those difficulties are tuned into challenges, and those challenges become a creative impetus. Yes, its possible to turn back time, if you put your mind to it.

Monday, March 8, 2010

Its like avatar, just not by Cameron

I'm not saying that web designers are awesome; I'm not saying that they're not. Most likely, the problem lies more with the client, who knows shit about design and will dictate the most horrible shite for the designer to put up as a web page.

Anyways, I'm not a web designer. Far from it. I am trying to cobble up a site for myself (and others), and decided to cut the middle man a design my own shite. That way, I am wholly responsible for all the flaws, and the awesomeness, no matter how accidental.

The setting up is not that hard, really. A bit of googling will find you several shareware options to get the progging work out of the way, so all you've got to do is download a few, install and give them a test drive and see what feels comfortable. That's not a problem so far, especially since that the prog I'm using has this neat little function opening the page you're working on in your browser, so that you can see what everybody can see.

The problem I have is more... hardware related. That is, its a limitation of the screen I work on, the built-in rectangle of the netbook. I love my netbook, but its really not designed for that kind of work. Its not that big of a deal, really, as I can always plug in a regular screen and work that way (I have yet to try that out, but I will have to eventually.)

Well, I can go on and blame the screen for my slow progress, but the other is even more immaterial, really. While I have a base idea as to what its about, and what it'll sorta look like, now I have to make that a reality. And being the creative control freak that I am, I have to use next to nothing but original work. I could just browse the web and use pics and art as is, but for many a reason, some legal, some otherwise, I just cant use that sort of stuff. It doesn't feel right. For one thing, the intent just isn't there.

So more plodding around is required. No big deal, as there's no real deadline to have this going, and its not like I dont have several other things demanding my attention.

I am ignoring them. But then again, I am ignoring too many things. Besides updating my facebook...

Monday, March 1, 2010

Interview

What is the worst of all questions that can be (and will be) asked at any job interview?

So, tell us about yourself.

What the hell are you supposed to answer? In the case of a job interview, its a bloody pit trap. You have to guess what answers the interviewer is looking for, as they sure as hell ain't going to give you any clues; its a competition after all. Too much, or too little will sink your chances, as will being way off the mark. And why the hell are they asking this anyways? Its not a date, for fuck's sake.

Now, take this question to different context; imagine that you are the interviewer and you're interviewing yourself; what do you answer? What do you put into your bio, which would make you interesting, what details do you highlight, which do you leave out, how truthful are you willing to be?

The more honest you are, the least likely you are to find yourself interesting. Most likely, you'll feel that you haven't done quite that much that's interesting, or worth talking about. It gets even worse when the goal is to interest the reader enough to make the leap and actually take a peek at your output, perhaps even enough to inquire about some financial deal, like buying a copy.

How honest are you going to get? What makes you fascinating?

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

They call me Mr. Clean

Cleaning up is a broad term when you get right down to it. Spic-and-Span doesn't always help to the job (well, unless you inject it or something), as not all things require a sponge and a bucket of water. Sometimes, what you need is just an unstoppable drive to get things done.

I am a self-called Cling-on, that is, I have a tendency to not only gather, but keep stuff around, for all kinds of reasons. Its not so much hoarding, as I can very well not pick up things, and I like to be able to walk around on the floor without having to step on and over piles of unknown material. Its not to say that I'm a well-ordered man, but I'm working on it.

Part of the motivation with my current drive has to do with the unplanned break that I was obliged to take this summer. Given the circumstances, stuff piled up, more so than usual, so that by the time I was able to start dealing with it, well, I had my work cut out for me. And even then, the primary motivation was just to return things to normal.

But normal isn't good enough.

I started being more aware of my creative limitations, that is, how little I had been creating in the last few years. I noticed that when I was quite a bit poorer, I could produce more, my output was better in quantity (the quality I'll leave to others to judge) and I was far more driven to create. So I started asking myself, what's stopping me?

And the answer is... stuff. I had lots of stuff. Way more than I needed, way more than was necessary, way more than was rational. I had been accumulating stuff of all kinds, because I could see some possibilities in them, because I figured that they would come in handy, because they were cool toys, because... well, I made up a lot of reasons to gather all that stuff, and then keep it.

But there was no real need behind it. I had already learned a related lesson, in the one creative field I had kept active all this time, in the kitchen. I had learned and hardwired a lesson a while back, about failed dishes: if its screwed up, throw it away. While it still be edible, it doesn't mean that you have to eat it, I dont care what those green folks are saying. So why not transfer that lesson to the rest of my existence?

So that is what I have been doing, in increments, in small dosages, one little bit at a time.Its not necessarily an easy task; you have to put your mind to it. But once you do, you'll realize that all you were doing is holding yourself back, and making due with what you have, which is well enough if your finances or your situation restricts you, but not good enough if you are not restrained to the same degree anymore. And once you kick it into gears, not only are you skimming off the unnecessary gear, but other more efficient solutions come up in your thought pattern and you end up not only better off than before, in a slimmer package, but you have a more efficient way of life too.

I thought that I needed a bigger apartment; I was wrong. I need a better apartment, and I have to rearrange my mind to fit into it.

And get rid of the mountains of... stuff.