24 September, 2013

Modesto

It will take me some time to write in clarity about the entirety of this summer, journeying from west coast to east, living in an ecovillage, travelling in Baltimore and visitng family, coming back to Seattle only to head south with nothing but my bike and backpack, culminating in a visit to Symbiosis, a crazy 5 day music and arts festival, but I can write a little about Modesto.

Modesto is a little town about 3 hours east of San Francisco located in the flat, hot nowhere of agricultural production of California. Before coming here I didn't know anything about the city except that it was in the middle of California and George Lucas grew up here. And walnuts. There were walnut trees everywhere.

When I came here on the way to Symbiosis, there I was not terribly impressed with Modesto. Like a lot of places in the USA, it has a similar collection of fast food joints, Walmarts and strip malls. Like everywhere else in the country, people sit on buses and in cars and don't talk to eachother and you see the same general clothes and gestures and accents copied from the latest TV and rap and  hollywood stars.

The McDonalds in downtown Modesto caught my eye not because it was especially beautiful but because it was interesting. I've long held a love-hate relationship with a lot of big corporations like Disney, Coca Cola, Apple and McDonalds, companies which do a lot of harm to the public good, yet are incredibly good at changing and making themselves attractive. McDonalds has revamped itself to be a coffee bar, included health foods and nutritional information. It looks friendly, even and after a long bout of being in the wilderness, hiking or camping, I have often been tempted to a McDonalds milkshake or Ice Cold Coke, a pleasure which never lasts very long..

A few times at the ecovillage, I excitededly awaited my visits to town where I could pick up supplies and spend the day in the brightly lit coffeshops(a step up from the commercial McDonalds). These forays, although happily gave money to local stores, still left me feeling bored and overwhelmed and after the business of having a full belly was accomplished.

But time after time, I've found myself in this same predicament, this predicament of wanting and craving for something, yet being disappointed when it came. At Symbiosis, I craved the sun when it became cold, yet was bored when it became sunny. I came to town, excited to get some non-camp food and check my emails at Starbucks yet after my belly was full and emails read, I quickly became overwhelmed. I spent the night at a cheap hotel(although I didn't really want to) and although it was nice to get cleaned up, I quickly became bored without anything to do in town. I walked down the street at 6 in the morning, Walmart groceries was the only store open and the most economical way to eat, so I stepped in there. I haven't been to a Walmart in years and was quickly reminded of the comfort of those neon lights. I played the Nintendo Wii U console that was sitting out. The last game console I had was a Nintendo 64, and though I was initially excited, I got bored after beating the first level of Super Mario Wii U.

Again and again, these cycles of hope and disappointment continue. Right now I am a nomad, a traveller, homeless and though I crave rest, I am torn between the congestion and excitement and convenience of the city, which I know won't last and the coldness and loneliness of living out in the boonies. Any hope that having a settled place with green grass is in my mind an illusion. But where then are our dreams? I have a feeling it is in some deeper meaning, although that is something I am still figuring out. I want to be an idealistic artist, but truth be told, it is very hard when you are cold, wet, hungry and broke.

And so it goes. The train to Modesto comes. Joy and sun come and go. Rain and cold do too. Hunger comes and goes. It will be good if I can remember this, if we can all remember this, although it is something very difficult to do.

The temptation of Super Mario Wii U or Coke or coffee or any of a million different things, with their colorful rainbow hues beckon to us, in the end, being only empty calories.

The temptation is not much unlike a drug addiction and not much unlike lust. And for a while they can be nice, but they will not bring one home. And so I search for home, not that illustion of brightness and comfort, but not some place where I will suffer needlessly. I hope you all may find home as well. Maybe we are already there and don't know it?

29 August, 2013

Yes.

Why do so many of us spend our lives being unhappy? That question percolated in my mind as I shifted in my seat and watched the policeman ask a middle aged black man for ID and his ticket at the airport. I didn't have my ticket but also had the feeling they weren't going to bother approaching me. The black man left and I sat, just trying to stay awake after the red eye from Boston, waiting for the busses that wouldn't run for another hour.

What is the meaning of life?, I wondered, realizing that this was a wholly bourgeousie affair. Although I had been a homeless wanderer, I was and am resolutely middle-classed, white and priviliged. I survived homelessness because I was never where that black man was, I would or could never know the depths of depravity suffered by half the world forced to work, who didn't have the time or ability to question what it is they did. Who were too tired.

Would you like a croissant with that? the lady asked as she handed me my coffee at 6 in the morning. The lady didn't look like she wanted to be there, and I couldn't blame her. I got out my computer and started planning my approach to California. I looked at room rentals and places to stay in Cali and was disheartened to see that I would likely be stuck in some crappy apartment again and I wished I was better at enduring things like that. It's not about being comfortable and happy, I reminded myself, it's about the bigger picture.

I reminded myself that I was moving on from a lot of unhealthy codependency in Seattle and that I was following my dream as an artist and that life wouldn't necessarily be easy.

When I arrived on the red-eye I was depressed. I didn't want to be in the rainy city. I was disgusted by the coldness of the people, the sterileness of the architecture, the blandness of the culture. As I rode the bus, I was reminded of how over the past 4 years, Seattle has become home. I was overcome with wanting to connect with old friends, go to see interesting, quirky art installations and coffee shops.
I reminded myself to look at the bigger picture.
At least you're not working at Starbucks, I reminded myself.
But maybe one day you'll have to.
Perhaps. But I will always have my art and I can make a life I am proud of.
Even if you are poor and living in squalor.
Yes.
Even if I am poor and depressed and living in squalor.

I looked out the window of the American Hotel in Seattle. ($26 a night and free breakfast and wifi) and was overcome with no emotion whatsoever. Life goes on and so we all do.

20 July, 2013

Moooooovies

Over the years I've cut my media usage. I First eliminated TV and then video games. Being at the ecovillage, I've drastically cut my internet use and plan to keep it that way because I see what a time drain it is. But I've always hesitated cutting movies entirely out of my weekly existence. Be it the new superhero or action flick or a drama or foreign film, they've been a consistent presence in my life.

But aside from "Fiddler on the Roof" which I recently saw and was quite impressed with, all the movies I've seen recently play like video game cutscenes- devoid of subtlety, character development or any real sense of story or drama.

Dialog, which used to be an art is now so across the board horrendous(and not just in superhero movies but in recent romcoms and regurgitated comedy flicks) that it does not interest me in the least even if the special effects are kinda cool.

George Lucas was famous for saying something to the effect of "special effects should always be in the service of story."

He then blew his credibility by making a pale prequel trilogy to stand in the shadow of the original, still corny but infinitely more relatable original trilogy. I think the influence of Star Wars still echoes to this day, except instead of being influenced by the novelty of that movie, movies have tried to copy them over and over again in search of the almighty dollar. This has led to an obsession with special effects, blockbusters and set pieces over story and character and dialog.

There are some good movies which followed the hero myth but nowadays you get ten of them a summer and they're all the same. Hero is an outsider. Hero struggles. Hero saves the girl. Hero cries. Hero dies and is resurrected.

 On top of these you have regurgitated animated movie after animated movie, devoid of the animated essence that makes animation so much fun in the first place.

As a lover of comics and a novice animator myself, all of this is embarassing. Perhaps it would be better if I stuck to foreign and independent movies or at least stop being so cynical and just accept hollywood for what it has become.
Or maybe I should just stick to reading books.

18 July, 2013

Gotta Eat!

It seems like everything I read about nutrition or food contradicts something else. Canola oil is good for you. Canola oil is bad for you. Eat your raw veggies. Make sure to cook them so you get all the nutrients. A whole grain diet is the most well-rounded. Whole grains are bad for diabetes and place a lot of stress on the body. Eat lots of fruits. Too many fruits could put you at risk for pancreatic cancer.
A few general guidelines seem to hold true across the board- stay away from smoking, overdrinking and sugar. Experts opinions are mixed on things like chocolate, coffee and how much meat is good for you.
Spinach- should you cook it? Some say raw spinach has more enzymes while others say it has compounds that make it impossible to digest. Similar concerns surround chard, collards, kale and many cruciferous vegetables. Some stay completely away from all plants in the nightshade family(which includes everything from potatoes, peppers, tomatoes and more) while others swear off everything in the animal kingdom.
My grandmother, who is 99 was never a great cook or eater. My other grandparents lived similarly long lives, but none of them ate particularly well diets. Perhaps some of it was luck or perhaps some of it had to do with the fact that none of them were terribly obese- I really don't know.
One of my favorite books on diet and nutrition is Nourishing Traditions, and at the center is the idea that whole foods are at the center of our problems with obesity, diabetes and many other conditions.
I'm sure it contradicts half of what you are currently hearing from Dr. Oz or any other expert on the subject and who knows, maybe in 5 years we'll have conclusive proof that broccoli really is bad for you, sugar is good for you and coffee should be drunk at every meal.
But until that time, I think I'll enjoy the confusion along with my broccoli and coconut oil.

16 July, 2013

Homeopathy...

I like to think of myself as open-minded. For example- I am skeptical of astrology, but my logical mind reminds me that the yearly solar cycle influences our hormone production and the time of year often influences food choices as well(greens in the spring, berries in the fall, meat and kimchi in the winter) and consequently, influences behavior and mood aspects. I have trouble believing your birthdate influences your entire fate, since there are so many other factors at play but am willing to believe that perhaps there is a small bit of truth in there somewhere. Perhaps.

Acupuncture, Meditation, Ayurvedic Medicine, Chinese Medicine- they're still a little strange to my westernized mind, but they really do seem to work and the ideas presented for each body type in Ayurvedic seems to hold true for many people. Meditation has been scientifically proven and I have high hopes for the other perspectives as well.

But homeopathy(and its twin, Bach essences) as well as some of the more obscure alternative health therapies and ideas, including Numerology and Cranio Sacral therapy are just so beyond ridiculous I have trouble taking anyone who advocates for them seriously.

In other words, I believe homeopathy is nothing but sugar pills, Bach essences are nothing but water, numerology has no basis in anything except randomly assigning values to random numbers and perhaps it makes me closed-minded to not respect these therapies, but so be it.

13 July, 2013

What's in a Name?

Out of boredom, I try to think of names to name the children(or dogs) I will never have. I have a feeling that next to designing your own landscape and restaurant and dreaming of how you'd spend the Mega Millions winnings, this is a national pasttime.
I don't like my given last name Fortenbaugh(pronounced Forden bocgk) unless I want to bestow a first name such as Ludvig or Bela or something equally Eastern European sounding. With the last name Thomas, I have experimented with the first names Kafka and Dean(literary genius and the antagonist of On the Road respectively) I have also thought of using the name Joseph(the same as my late grandfather), perhaps relegating Kafka to a middle name status, which both sounds somewhat normal and serves as a literary reference if one uses the spelling Josef and simply abbreviates the middle initial(Josef K. appeared in many Kafka stories).
As for female names, I am prone to admiring the names Appalachia and Cheyenne. Gertrude also, the name of my late grandmother is a name I like. Appalachia can be shortened to Apple, which I like, but I fear it may be too cute. Cheyenne can be shortened to Shy, but again, maybe too cutesy. Gertrude shortens quite readily to either Gertie or Trudy, but there are many who feel this name is too old fashioned.
I have no idea why I spend so much time thinking of random things like this. I remember when I was 12 and I spend months picking out names for the dog I was going to pick up from the pound. Names such as Sebastian, Winsor and Eugene passed through my mind(I was an odd child), but when I found my dog I almost instantly knew that his name had to be Bernard.
I have no idea where it came from but it fit perfectly and I'm glad I went with it instead of Sebastian.

Disney Mind

Disney World was a big deal for me growing up. I dreamed of being an animator from the time I was about 4 and had made Bambi, DUmbo and Donald Duck my favorite friends. Disney was the place I wanted to go and work when I got old because it seemed magical. Aside from my collection of action figures and cartoon books, our family had a jar of Pixie Dust(just really a jar of glitter) on our bookshelf and I liked to open it and sprinkle some pixie dust in my hair much to the disgust of my mother.
I created comics with Top Duck, who I decided was Donalds unknown brother. Top was very friendly, unlike Donald, and he wore a green turtleneck and newsboy cap and went on adventures where he would talk to ghosts and animals and free the liliputians. As I got older my stories got more complex and I made many of my own characters, but the original inspiration remained.
As I got older, my love of Disney faded as I realized the difficulty of being an animator and the poor conditions DIsney workers actually enjoy. Interests in nature, philosophy and a growing disconnect with my peers in school led me away from the Disney animator path and into the path of the eccentric artist/traveller, but the lure and attraction of Disney and other related ephemera stayed with me.
I hate to admit it sometimes, but those childhood joys of Disney cartoons as well as associated memories of going to McDonalds after school are things that still bring a smile to my face.
Although there are plenty of more wholesome memories- memories playing cards with my grandfather, hiking and camping with scouts and biking, the early memories of Disney are particularly strong ones.
Although it's way too simple to think of Disney as the bad guys and to simply become disenchanted once you realise the mechanics behind animation or the simple economics that fueled your favorite theme park(MGM studios was created to lure people away from Universal), I can't say that there is absolutely no lure left to work for them(nor for Klasky-Csupo, a company I almost took an internship with).
Ideally, I like to think that there are other, more wholesome outlets for creativity. And realize that as a human, I'm capable of a hell of a lot of self deception, so maybe it's better not to work for Disney and to work on being OK with that, rather than work for them for peanuts, destroying my soul in the process.
I read a book recently that really caught my imagination. It was called No Logo and it talks a lot about branding and Disney in particular. It talked a lot about how companies started out creating products first and then making a name based on that reputation. Newer marketing makes the name first and then makes the products second.
As a result of this, you get the poor working conditions of Disney(as well as other chains) as well as outsourced jobs, dumbed down movies and a general disregard for the public good.
Top Duck would not stand for that.

05 July, 2013

Addiction

They're not always what you think they are. There are the obvious addictions like cannabis, alcohol, TV and gambling and then there are the more subtle addictions that come from simple living patterns that no longer serve us.

I've given up junk food and TV, video games and chocolate, cannabis and prozac and most recently movies and the internet. I meditate, run, eat well and do yoga just about every day and on the surface seem to have no addictions. Except I do.

My mind is obsessed with suicide and I have no desire to live. I've tried in the past to go to college, to find a normal job, to engage in my twin loves of art and nature in various ways- through animation, through botany and nurserywork, through illustration work, but in the end, I am still alone with my own mind and it tortures me endlessly.

I used to think yoga or medication or even cannabis would cure me. I used to hope that if I just found the right job or martyred myself for the right cause, everything would be OK. I used to think that if I just ate the right foods, I would feel better or if I just moved to the right place, I could start over and everything would be OK.

I'm in a place right now that I love dearly. There is nature and beauty everywhere. I am doing a little bit of art and have plans to do permaculture animations. I don't have a solid plan for the future but have a lot of good prospects with either making a small garden or doing some permie/activist art and yet I feel like shit and hate myself for it.

It's a strange condition in our modern world that we can often have so much and yet feel so disconnected from people and from life itself. I honestly have no reason to complain but just feel so disconnected from the stream of life and so naive about how to make it in this world that I push people away and I think about suicide all the time.

I've given up the internet and movies, chocolate and soda, but this might be a hell of a lot harder.

09 June, 2013

To Anyone in the World Who Cares

Writing this feels entirely too self-preoccupied right now but my thoughts on interning at the ecovillage, as naked as I can possibly convey them are of utmost importance right now.

I had a conversation with Patricia early on about living in community. Communities, such as ecovillages attract a lot of transients, a lot of hippies, but being there one has to confront oneself. I knew early on that moving across country for a half year would not be a panacea to cure my depression or any of my other various health ailments(chronic allergies and asthma and general weakness of physical constitution) but I hoped beyond hope that something would give or that I would at least survive.

So far, I have survived. I came in and the first few days was in quite a haze. The first week I slept between 12 and 14 hours a day- closer to 10 or 11 now counting my frequent naps. I quickly acclimitized to living in a house of between 10 and 14 people, although I doubt I'll ever get used to the various dishes laying around, I can't complain about the housemates(no thieves, drunken liars or crack smokers) and given that I am the eldest of the interns at the house have taken to doing the best I can in hopes that I am something of a positive example. The others are college age or a bit older, definitely more social than I, but equally lost in different ways than I.

Yoga practice and running have opened most days, or hiking. I have been eating good food, although simple- grits for breakfast , usually a pb sandwich for lunch and rice and beans with salads and greens and potatoes mostly. In the mornings, there are a few hours of work and in the afternoons a few as well. It is not a lot of work and allows for a lot of time for reflection and resting. Although the work is not particularly hard, sleep often comes at midday after working in the garden or doing cobbing or whatever work had needed been done. I suppose it is what my body needs although at times it seems excessive. I then work a few more hours in the afternoon, after napping and try to work on my art projects which I have trouble keeping track of many days and so get little done(its mostly writing ideas for animations that I want to work on). I also work on mindfulness and other spiritual readings and half the time delve into pap like Stephen King because I feel tired and lazy. The house socializing seems to take up too much of my time other than that, although it's not necessarily a bad thing, I realise I need to be more clear and be OK with not always being social. Usually I try to be helpful but I need to balance my own needs as well as others desires to chat mindlessly, which I don't usually find interesting.

The ecovillage in general has been a welcoming place although it is definitely challenging. I feel like some aspects of communal living are beneficial, although very often I wish I had more of my own space to work in and garden in and could decide when and how to interact. I wonder if this would lead me in particular to being more isolated but I think it could work. I like being off-grid in general and out of the city, but realise the challenges of making this work. I appreciate the other workers in the house- especially being around much younger folks it has made me reflect a lot on my own pessimism and self-defeating nature, wonder why I always try to work so hard and try to regain some of that lost dream that seemed so approachable when I was 20 or so.

The ecovillage in North Carolina does not quite feel like North Carolina, or maybe not what I expected it to feel like. Many of the residents are transplants, so there is very little southern twang and the climate and area supports a lot of very liberal minded folks. Happily, there is a good mixture of ideals at Earthaven. No hive-mind although everyone is trying to live more sustainably.

I guess I am not sure exactly what I wanted to convey here. I am doing ok although my weak stomach and allergies and such are a hindrance. I am learning a lot although I am worried where I will go after this as I don't want to go back to being homeless and I need to keep hope somehow and doing that with crappy part time illustration work has been more frustrating than I want to admit and I'm more depressed and suicidal than most realise even though I seem to complain about it way too much.

OK that's enough writing from me. I hope everyone is doing well or at the least, hanging in there and not giving up hope, least of all on oneself even if one has made a lot of mistakes or has a hard time finding hope as I often do.

26 April, 2013

A day like any other

I was in Seattle for an appointment Monday and talked to some of the buskers and canvassers. I quickly became overcome with nostalgia of the time when I first moved to Seattle 4 and a half years ago. Staying in downtown, I eventually found cheap housing in the suburbs until I came downtown when I was homeless.

Downtown, even though it's rife with tourists and shops remains fascinating to me because of the diversity and activity of people and things. The shows and events quickly lost what little appeal they had and staying in a hostel until I had no money at all, I began to see a lot more of the darkness of the city. The drugs. The violence. The craziness. I always tried to be friendly to the homeless people, but when I became homeless, I began to wonder how much of what they were doing was an act. Dressing a little dirtier than they could, they could get more money. Feeling sorry for themselves, people would feel sorry for them.

I stopped giving money away, because it was inherently selfish, only done to make my guilt a little less prominent. I still tried to give a little to the Spare Change guys from time to time, because they were clean and I knew the money wasn't being thrown away at least, but I knew the guilt still haunted me.

Feeling empathy and actually doing real things are often quite different things. You can't really buy yourself into "heaven" if it is a place and it is a place based on merit just as you can't really buy other people out of their own hell. It's a place we all share. Together.

I flashed back again to Hagerstown. I volunteered at an art gallery while studying Multimedia, sometimes looking after it, sometimes cleaning and organizing art supplies. I had a few pieces up there and at a few other places but never liked teaching kids so I didn't. I stilll don't know if that was the right thing to do, but felt woefully unprepared and distant and often regretted it. I volunteer now at a Mental Health Community Center here and a feeling of obligation follows me when I go there, too. Something i am not sure exactly what to do about because I also have a very real need to actually do real things and not just volunteer all the time. At the clubhouse, I Mostly just cook lunch and try to organize their newsletter. I am going to miss that place and I am going to miss the old gallery in Hagerstown, but at the same time, I know life goes on and challenges await.

While I was walking around Seattle, I remembered quite a few things that day. It was a beautiful day, sunny for the first time in months and so there were a lot of happy faces. In Capitol Hill and Pioneer Square I saw some folks I knew from support groups and some I knew from the streets. I hung out in a Capitol Hill park, reading a book while overhearing a kid talk about getting clean. He reminded me of myself and a little of my friends. Listening to him talk about counseling kids and staying clean gave me a little bit of hope.

I walked to the bus late that night. A funny kid who had had a few drinks too many told the beautiful lady standing next to me that she was beautiful, many times. He was charming and harmless, but still I could tell she was nervous and many Seattlites eyed him cautiously, keeping an eye on them both but like polite Seattlites, keeping their distance. But he quickly disappeared when her bus came and she left.

I eventually arrived home, and now I am thinking about my bags, which are already mostly packed. I've moved around enough times to know that my social issues will follow me whereever I go, that no magical perfect job exists anywhere. I will feel like I'm making a bad decision whereever I go and whatever I do. I am thinking of perhaps teaching permaculture, just like I have thought of being a counselour or teaching in central America. I know there will be good things I have done and will leave behind and I think, if nothing else, hopefully I can say that I made a positive impact. Planted a lot of trees out here, led a lot of restoration events, tried to be active and do work despite my idiotic psychotic depression and anxiety, cooked a lot of good meals for $2 a plate. I hope it was enough.

I don't know.

It's scary.

I'll miss Seattle.

25 April, 2013

The kids are alright

Now that Washington state has OK'ed wine and liquor in grocery stores and we're well on our way to having weed being sold in restaurants(as a gourmet foodie thing), it probably won't be long before weed is sold in grocery stores, too. And what is the gateway drug these grocery stores give us? Caffeine.

It used to just be something adults had. That black coffee was a rite of passage. Something only inattentive parents would let their children near. Then came the soft drinks. Schools started with the soda pop machines to make a few bucks. The school lunch programs tried and some of them succeeded in banning this junk, but it's already here and it's here to stay.

I grew up in the '90s and by then, Jolt Cola, the predecessor of Red Bull and 5 hour energy was just being introduced. It was hard to find but it was out there. When you found it, you felt like a drug addict. It had something like two to three times the caffeine of Coke. Nowadays, a trip to any of a few close, local grocery stores reveals a full 1/4 aisle of these drinks- all brands and varieties. Some of them in cans. Some of them mixed with coffee. Some of them in convenient powdered form. This stuff is everywhere.

And if you want coffee, Starbucks makes only the strongest, bitterest coffee imaginable. Diarrhea and visual distortions are almost guaranteed. Half of these coffeshops are even inside of grocery stores, right next to the energy drinks, booze, beer and wine.

It is very interesting that we don't take the caffeine problem seriously. I am not suggesting that having a cup of coffee or hot cocoa every now and then is bad or that even a cup a day is really all that bad(except for the withdrawals), but the easy accessability and marketing of these products as being cool makes them a strong contender for being the REAL gateway drug.

Just think- if caffeine is everywhere and perceived as safe, what's to stop you from taking a few of your friends ritalin or provigil tablets? When you realise there is very little difference between the two(at the dosages some of these energy drinks are at, having one or two is the equivalent of having some amphetamines or cocaine), what's to stop you from experimenting even more?

We send a very mixed message. Drugs aren't black and white. I don't like beer or wine but wouldn't mind having some weed butter available to purchase and yet, I really don't like the way it's marketed and glamorized. I hate that some idiot named all the weed strands names that sound like candy. It's fucking stupid.

Just put it all in a plain paper bag. The coffee. The beer. The weed. Keep the kids safe. Don't lie to them. Let them make their own decisions.Don't use it as a quick means to boost profits and then not want to deal with the consequences.

18 April, 2013

Trauma

We remember traumatic events. Be they good or bad. Years from now I still remember that I was sitting at home, drawing, on sick leave when my mom called and told me to turn on the news. I turned on FoxNews or MSNBC and saw the airplanes hitting the towers. I remember my dad telling me he had cancer. I remember when I rode in a police car and spent the day in a holding cell. I was looking up a recipe for Spanokipita when I heard about Boston.

There are things I don't remember that I wish I did. Whole weeks and months of my life that I spent working that seemed to flash by or not even happen at all. My grandfathers death. My whole high school experience was a numb, barely remembered dream. I vaguely recall the birth of my niece, although I was in a homeless confusion at the time and moved from one strange living condition to another. I remember the dumbest movie quotes but can't for the life of me recall any of Amerika even though I've read it at least 3 times.

They say that ongoing anxiety and trauma can result in a kind of numbed state. I vaguely remember many news events growing up- the Waco bombing, the airplane crashes but they seemed to happen so often, they merge into a kind of vague idea of what happened. At a few times in my life I have had tweakers as neighbors. At first I was agitated and would wake up when I would hear them at 3 in the morning or when they would start screaming. I quickly grew used to their erratic behavior and odd hours and even slept through their constant alarms.

I know this is not always a good response to terror- this apathy and anaesthesia that kicks in after all the adrenaline has run out, but it does help one to survive. I noticed it when I was homeless, sleeping along the Columbia River. At first I was persistently watchful, but over the course of weeks I soon became comfortable sleeping in the strangest places, dumpster diving and walking around in filthy rags.

Finishing up the newsletter at the community center today, it could have been any day. Nothing really especially memorable. People came and went. Meetings happened or didn't.  But then there was an incident. I don't want to mention specifics on here, even though I have a tendency to overshare, I will say it could be/have been a sexual assault lawsuit.

The event caused a lot of tension. Mostly because there was a lot of confusion surrounding how to react. A lot of anxiety. From me, I noticed a lot of anaesthesia and mental withdrawal. Things were resolved but I can't say for certain I will remember this event in the future. I only hope that if something important happens I'm not too traumatised to respond.

Sometimes

Since I live near a community college here in Bellevue and it stands between me and my weekly meetings with my case manager, I often find myself walking through the campus and can't help but flash back to my college days.

When I think of my college days, I invariably think of my brother and sister's days as well. My sister's many boyfriends and girlfriends who would carouse the bars and clubs and games and events. My brother sneaking in at 4 am, making strange art projects, my dad finding pot in the car, his drunk shenanigans and funny stories, and then there's me. My recollection of college comes mostly from a corner in a library, where I would find a place to study or from an empty parking lot at UMBC. When I wasn't in class, I was dreading the long commute there. Most times, I envied my brother and sister because they seemed to be having a good time at college while I was miserable, eating my lunch in the bathroom, working in the stock room of a hardware and lumber store and spending my nights drawing pictures(this was before facebook) and watching strange art house films.

Flash forward years later. I eventually did go back and at least finish a certificate although the college experience was pretty sedate. I went to Hagerstown Community College and took half of a course load of graphic design classes for a few years. I made a few acquiantances there. Drank coffee with a few friends. Had a few utterly bizarre and clumsy dates but then college ended and life went on. If you knew Hagerstown, this isn't surprising. It's still a small town in Western Maryland that closes down at 5 every day. The main attraction is the Dairy Queen and the Valley Mall(not the vibrant downtown as the tourism industry wants to sell you). My exciting list of things to do included riding my bike, reading various things, from time to time, going to the new art or poetry opening and sitting at home, cooking and watching weird art house movies.

So there I was, walking through the college in Bellevue again, except even more time has passed. My sister now has a kid. My brother stopped smoking and goes to sleep at normal hours now. It's been five years since I've been in college and I realise more and more that life is pretty open-ended.

I can't read minds but I see the boy walking by himself and realise that could be me. I see a group of girls that reminds me of my sister and I suddenly realise I am quite older and quite different and all of this is OK.
The kids at school are really into fashion. Into cliques. Into identifying themselves. It's terribly superficial because as we grow older we realise how much more complicated we are than our likes and dislikes and sexual preference and religion and job. We realise how nobody really knows what they are doing.

I still worry quite  alot about being weird and asocial and introverted and wanting to sit at home and cook. I can definitely get into ruts and fear change quite  a lot. I still feel like an alien amidst people and think I always will. Hopefully I will learn to be more accepting of how I am and how my brother and sister and everyone else is and realise that college and life is not at all like how I thought it would be.

16 April, 2013

Seattle

Woke up at three for some reason could not sleep or eat
Read Andrea's blog and facebook and watched part of "Rango".
5 o'clock drank coffee(I know, I know) and went running at gym
The only thing to watch was Spongebob. Did not want to watch scare tactics about Boston.
Arrived to prep lunch. Finished Spanakopita, Veggies. Tried to keep H calm and on task but mostly non confrontational as he kept pacing in and out of the kitchen.
Snuck out at noon. R talked to me and I tried to dodge the conversation because of my appointment.
He had dyed his hair and his face looked like smudged makeup.
I should be a better friend sometimes to people.
Continued reading Chalice and Blade on bus while overhearing some homeless people talk about an interesting adventure they went on. Pretended to read while I listened.
Second bus breaks down.
For some reason I am not worried. Realise I have not eaten anything all day. Almost 2.
Other bus comes. La di da.
Bright sun in Seatle. So beautiful. Walk up hill to appointment. When Seattle is sunny it's fucking amazing. Everyone seems so happy.
Apologize to counselor. Don't know what to talk about. Parent issues. Relationship issues. I'm leaving in May. Afraid. I sit on my hands because I'm nervous.
Walk up hill. Talk to tattoo guy to see about getting work finished before I go.
See sun setting. Awkwardly following someone back down hill. Try not to invade space/follow too close or make them uncomfortable.
Give dollar bill to homeless man. He also wants the 5 I have.
Hold bus door for lady.
Sit and read at bus stop.
Seattle is amazing when it's sunny.

12 April, 2013

The day after

I've been doing a lot more volunteer work than paid work recently. Planting trees, cooking at a mental health community center. I don't mind it- because I like doing these things and they get me out of my head. If I stay at home too long doing freelance art I invariably wind up cleaning the refrigerator with a toothbrush or huddled in a corner, afriad of everything. I wish things would magically get better, but the truth is, I don't think if anything gets better it will happen suddenly or easily and I don't think things will really just "get better". I've been afriad of everything my whole life. As far as the volunteer work, the remarks are good on my resume but I tend to spend too much time doing these things and randomly traveling facebook than doing anything "normal" or "future thinking".

Sometimes I forget how weird my brain behaves. Amidst the cooking and mundane chores at the community center we also have an art group. Sometimes, when I'm not terribly unsocial I can participate in the groups. We sat down for this latest group and it seemed straight-forward enough. The question was "Who are you and what keeps you from your authentic self?" For the first part, the answers ranged from I'm a man to I'm an artist to I'm a Christian were shared with the group. I declined to share because I couldn't decide if I was my brain, my physical environment or God herself.

The I that is me needs to stop thinking about this stuff so much because it's not really that helpful. Things are beter when I can leave my room and simply do something. But it always feels like a monumental struggle and sometimes I just give up because I am tired of it all.

I'll be starting an internship soon. Leaving the stable housing and unstable work situation here to try something different. My counselor isn't working out and I'm not finding work but still, moving across cuntry is scary and uncertain, even though staying here is just as scary. I'm not sure if it's the right choice or the wrong choice. I've laid things out on paper, but usually these things look clearer on hindsight. I'm not terribly worried about being homeless or starving, although I am terribly worried about other people and police.

There was an incident on the bus this morning. A man, either high or slightly manic was yelling in some foreign language, gesticulating loudly. Like the polite Seattleites we all are, noone said anything. The bus driver assured us she was calling the police. The man had a bit of lucidity and apologized. She still called the police.

I felt really bad leaving the bus because I could empathise with this man. But again, I was scared too.

I took today off to watch a movie, came home and took a nap, then woke up but was afriad to leave my room because my loud roommate was out, playing his Christian music and cooking and I knew seeing him would mean a ten minute conversation about his sexual conquests, and so I stayed in my room for an hour. Finally I got the courage to leave.

I hope that I, now 33, can have some sort of courage. I'm tired of being a failure for everything. To have courage it would not be to make money and talk about sexual conquests or to be a person confined to my body, but to at least be. Even if all I do is sit in a shack in the woods, make art and hemp yogurt and sing off-key.

I, now 33.

05 April, 2013

. . .

Life goes on, doesn't it? You hope there is going to be such a big change but then you look back and see that not much has changed and that what has changed has taken great effort. Broken things stay broken, slightly mended and never the same even if fixed. That weak knee or ankle gets better, but it never is the same as it used to be. I guess one can change where you live or who you live with but that it really doesn't change much.

I read about the old councils, such as the Iroquios Confederacy and how change there rarely occured, because it wasn't needed. Our modern bureacracy can barely affect changes because they are too turgid, so while change nowadays is desperately needed, due to comfort or overly complex rules or bureacracy, change simply doesn't happen, or if change does happen, it is sometimes something superficial that doesn't address the problem you had in the first place.

One example of this: In Seattle and many of the surrounding towns, they've started to use only paper bags and charge 5 cents. This is to reduce trash, especially of plastic bags, but it was such an effort for such a small thing, I wonder what we were hoping to accomplish with it?

And was the effort worth it?

I think the humbling thing about life is just how limiting ones influence is. How even after extreme effort, not much seems to change. I worked tirelessly on weekends for a year to remove ivy and replant an acre of forest only to see a completely needless parking lot paved over the area. It was saddening and humbling, and made me wonder more than once why I was putting so much effort into something that people did not want anyway.

The future of the world is scarier than ever, at least for the human race, with the global warming and widespread pollution, the political and social apathy and disillusionment and a million other things.
The truth is, it is going to be a hard road back. Little changes like removing plastic bags aren't going to fix the core of the solution or at least not fast enough. Removing weeds won't help if we keep building parking lots and new houses and polluting.

We could keep looking for new technology, building better cars, thinking that that is the solution, but what are we living for anyway?

20 March, 2013

Stay long stay strong

So here is where things are written. Things of great importance and such. Things that you will read and be enlightened by. Things that... oh nevermind, it's pretty random around here.

There are four weeks until I leave for Asheville. There is still a lot of prepping to do before I go there. A lot of random stuff moving around, changing my mailing address. Catching up and finishing the work I am doing now on the Permaculture Music project. Trying to plan for the future and whatever art projects that lie in store there. I'm hoping to have something to do with art projects in the future. I feel like that could be good.

I don't know though. We will see what the future will bring. I will be moving across country from a place I don't belong to another place I don't belong. I have a feeling I want to travel around and do interviews, make some art and maybe one day settle down and have a dog. Every now and then I think of going back to school and then laugh because it seems so ridiculous.

I wish I were happy like the people in those Drug commercials.

But that's stupid. I'll just keep waking up in the morning. Keep pressing forward through the pain and doing yoga and being stubborn and not taking prescription anti-depressants. If I could take them, maybe I could enjoy a shitty job here and make money and be content.

It seems I will have to make do without the support of psychiatrists and things, travel the road, straight-edged and free and depressed. But at least I will have lived, right?

I hope so.

I hope you can live, too.

It's not always happy or optimistic. It's pretty sad most of the time, actually.

Stay clear of the drugs. Even weed will fuck you up if you stay with it for too long.


17 March, 2013

Nobody, Nowhere

I read RD Laings "The Divided Self" about a month ago and really felt like I had read one of the most essential books of our time. At its core, the book talks about a self, seen largely in anxious and schizoid categorized individuals that needs to be around people but at the same time, feels unsafe. The self then creates a false self, one that acts more than participates. It's a coping mechanism that in the end causes more problems than it solves.

The book is my life.And I'm exhausted. Right now I'm gearing up to go to Asheville to work on a farm and I'm terrified. I got glowing recommendations and was honest in my interviews, but I'm terrified I won't be able to live up to expectations. That things will fall apart. That I won't be able to handle things. I'm a hard worker, but I've struggled my entire life with asthma, allergies and general nonspecific weakness and ineptitude.

But staying here doesn't seem like a great option, either. It's a little more secure as I have cheap housing for the forseeable future but there is no work and I've become stagnant again. I feel like I need a change in order to break free, to do and become something greater, but am also terrified and feel like there are no good options wherever one looks.

I am optimistic but its not the kind of rosy optimism. I think the future of mankind is going to be kind of dark but after maybe a few hundred years, we might be able to live healthily again. I forsee a lot of pain and death. It's terrifying and I'm terrified and not particularly trusting of people.

Sometimes I just want to end it all. But the guilt doesn't let me. :\

02 March, 2013

What's so Great About Art, Anyway?

Last summer I got paid entirely too much money to be an extra on a Hollywood movie. The movie, "21 and Over" just released to terrible reviews. I didn't see the movie and might wait until it's out on DVD to see if I can spot myself and my friends, but the crew were very nice, had a fun time making the movie and did everything in a smart and efficient manner(as efficiently as a Hollywood movie can be). They knew they were making a commercial product but had fun doing it.

There exists a strange sort of split in our society between high art and fun. It's fashionable to say your(sic) an artist. To pretend that what you're doing matters. To suffer nobly for the greater good. It's not very fashionable to say that you're doing something for the money or just to have fun. You have to suffer. You have to be important and tell other people how important you are.

I've put on a few art shows and used to tell people I was an artist. Then I got tired of the responses. Often there was the look of awe when I told them I was an artist. Then I would say I usually just draw dogs and book covers and it's oftentimes pretty mundane. 

For some reason I have found there is often the assumption that great artists or great athletes have some magical ability. That they do something beyond their simple craft. Something magical and mysterious that noone else can touch. There seems to be the thought that mechanics and janitors can't know this too. That artists don't simply learn their craft in school or by trade little by little the same way that teachers and politicians do. It is a great disrespect and disservice to worship and praise great artists if you are not also praising great teachers, great plumbers, great mailmen, great bus drivers and great bridge builders.

I have no idea why we worship artists(especially actors) and sports figures. They are two of the most worthless professions. Even though they do what they do well, they are just entertainers. They are just having fun. What's so great about art, anyway? I like to draw, but is it growing food for me or fixing my toilet or making me a better person? No!

Fuck art!

28 February, 2013

I wonder if I will dream tonight.

Is that a freight train plowing through the house? No, that's only my roommate's alarm clocks. Plural. One on his cell phone, vibrating and playing music. One on his mantle(I guess), buzzing erraticly. One somewhere else in his room, sounding like a chicken. They're not all set to the same time exactly, but after the first two have been going off for several minutes, they are all going off at the same time. It's 4:30 and I'm more awake than he. Finally, the alarms subside and I am treated to explosions as his truck starts up, roars and slowly creeps away. I really have no complaints about my roommate other than this sometimes rude awakening, which is simply due to the fact that he has to work at 5:30 in the morning. It is certainly preferable to my previous meth smoking roommate who liked to jump up and down on his bed at 1 in the morning, turn the heat up to 90 and fill the refrigerator with orange soda.

After the initial warm fuzziness of dreamland wears off and I am faced with the torture of another day of menial tasks, random job applications, torturous hot yoga, noisy cars and tedious work, I sit before the computer. Today, I am typing this blog. Other days, I am checking the news and weather while leaving facebook on in the background, wondering if anyone will notice me or if my friends will post anything interesting. Is my sister still alive? Is my brother still the king of hipsters? I procrastinate as long as possible before heading off for the day.

As anyone filling out job applications knows, there is only so many one can do in a day. A few hours and this work is done. The yoga and running fill some of the interim time. Working at a community clubhouse fills more of that time. Doing small contract artwork fills the rest of the time.

I look at my internship applications. The ones for the Permaculture farms and other silly things. I look at my meager existence and hesitate as I wonder if it would be wise to take an unpaid position at such a farm. I'm 33 years old, not particularly strong(I wonder if I could make it as a farmer) although I am terribly bored with the life I have now.

I watch the facebook again in the evening. I eat something healthy for dinner. It's probably something I had cooked 4 days ago and have been eating for 4 days straight. I don't care as I barely taste anything anymore anyway and so I look out the window. Nothing looks back. The house is quiet. I wonder if I will dream tonight.

24 February, 2013

I'm not worthy

Thanks for the nomination for the award thingie, Drew. Drew nominated me for the Liebster Award, which is cool, becuase I didn't know anyone read this blog.

Anyway, here is my answering to Drew's queries.

1. If you were to attend a costume party tonight, what or whom would you go as?
I don't have any costumes and I probably shouldn't go naked.

2. What are your choice of toppings on a hamburger? And do you prefer gas or charcoal grilling?
I'm dietarily vegan, athough the best choice out there is a Portobello Sandwich at Union Station(I forget the name of the restaurant in DC). As for grilling, gas is bad for the environment but I hate the taste of charcoal.

3. You are chosen to have lunch with the President. The condition is you only get to ask one question. What do you ask?
I have spoken enough to people in politics or in the public eye to know that there is nothing I could ask searingly that would get either an illuminating or interesting response. I'd probably ask him what his favorite Kid Cudi song was.

4. It’s your first day of vacation, what are you doing?
Trying to convince myself I'm having fun(but am actually sick to my stomach).

5. What is your concession stand must-have at the movies?
Due to my decreasingy brittle, cavity ridden teeth, I don't partake in candy as much as I used to. Plus, I'm cheap. If I could though, jujubes or perhaps black licorice.

6. Which do you dislike most: pop-up ads or spam email?
Pop ups. Spam is easier to get rid of.

7. What do you think Captain Hook’s name was before he had a hook for a hand?
James T. Hook, I think. He was one of Peter Pans friends, as are all the pirates, but when they eventually escaped and grew up, Peter decided they were enemies. The pirates work tirelessly to free Peter's slave Lost Boys.

8. Rock, paper, or scissors?
The Rock

9. How long was it from ‘the first date’ until the proposal of marriage? How long until the wedding?
Uh, what?

10. Which is worse, being in a place that is too loud, or too quiet?
Too loud definitely.
Can never be too quiet. I detest putting TVs on for noise.

11. What is one quality that you really appreciate in a person?
Honesty and Humility above all else.OK

OK, there we go, Drew. Thanks for the nomination. As the second part of the nomination I'm supposed to list 11 facts about me.

I'm Vegan, 5'6" so I get to shop in the boys department like Prince, Never eaten at Taco Bell, never smoked meth, hiked the south half of the Appalachian Trail, want to one day live in a small house in the middle of somewhere(not close to a city but not a nowhere) and I also don't have a college degree or a car . Is that 11 yet?

Thanks, Drew.

http://vedekdrew.wordpress.com/2013/02/24/this-is-the-liebster-award-thanks-for-this-milady/

Also, Andrea you're nominated. You're the only personal blog I read, but I still think you're great. Nominate someone else if you want to and tell 11 random facts about yourself. :)





22 February, 2013

How small are we?

The human population of Asia is just over 4 billion - well over half of the worlds human population. The human population of all of Europe and the Americas, by comparison is about 1.5 billion. The number of bacteria in a human body is ten times the number of human cells but are necessary, mostly for digestion. The number of bacterial cells outnumbers the population of the world.
I suppose I like thinking about these facts because after reading Andreas post , they remind me that I am just one person in a great big swarm of humans. It reminds me just how small I am.

But when I think about just how similar I am to other animals, like Bonobos, who have been known not only to wash their food, but to season it and use tools.
and
to Ants, who have been known to "milk" aphids for honeydew, in exchange for protection, I don't feel quite as small.

And when I think about other things like the fact that our $32,000 a year average wage  is actually the top 1% and how out average 5'10" is actually quite tall, it makes me feel more normal for making 10,000 dollars a year and being 5'6".

18 February, 2013

Diary of a Schizo - How to Describe Weird

The problem with mental health diagnoses from my perspective is that they are hard to pin down. Even if one decides that for some reason being sad is abnormal or thinking weird thoughts is abnormal, when there is no test to do that, how do you define it?

It's obvious to many in the field, both psychiatrists and patients that the diagnoses can often be used to control or manipulate, not really to help. They can lead to overmedication and overmeddling from control freaks. I don't believe the diagnoses are completely made up as people are definitely suffering, but how much of it is due to our culture and how much is truly genetic is impossible to know.

My diagnoses have ranged from depression, social anxiety, schizoaffective disorder, derealization disorder, general anxiety, ADD and probably a few others I am forgetting. I think there is some truth to the diagnoses as I have trouble relating to people, often experience intense flushes of panic that leave me feeling that I am not in my body and that the world is not real and as a result sometimes I will do or say weird things in a panic. Whether this means I should be medicated or I should talk more is yet to be known.

I have given up on medication since I did that for four years and only got worse as a result. I suffered every annoying side effect from nausea and impotence and weight loss, but also suffered from some really bad ones like wanting to die all the time. The doctors have told me the medication could be helpful but it doesn't seem to be worth the risks.

I have found exercise and yoga and running especially to be helpful in depression. Cutting back on sugar and eating balanced meals with no sugar or caffeine really important for anxiety and psychosis. Doing different things and learning seem to be good for the brain and working in general can be good for a lot of things. And so that leaves me where I am - weird.

Being weird is hard to define. I know I'm different than others, but exactly HOW different is hard to say. I was diagnosed as crazy, but I can pretend to be normal, mostly and get away with it, except that people find me a bit odd or shy. I'm not really interested in dating or careers, but I wonder how many people simply pretend they are. I like to do a lot of female things like yoga and gardening and I hear voices and drift in and out of dreams all around the clock, but I wonder how many other people do that, too.

In the end I guess there is no way for me to know, although some of my thoughts and living arrangements stress me out. I can get terribly depressed and suicidal at times and that makes me sad. I don't want a diagnosis for that, though. I just want to be treated like a person.

17 February, 2013

The Crone

the crone

She lived at the end of a long dirt road. In a house she lived, although many often confused it for a shed. And in her yard, it was filled with old cars and tree stumps, tangled bushes and all manner of strange and forgotten things.
    The people who lived in the nice houses, before the dirt road began, in the houses that all looked the same with the yards that all looked the same, these people often passed by her house and quietly disapproved of her. They quietly felt sorry for her.
    The people who lived in the nice houses were never hot since they had central AC and they all had two children. One boy named Justin or something equally cute and one named Marie or something equally pretty. The furniture in these houses was new or at least pretty and the food at these houses  was always plentiful, even if the people who lived there were perpetually on “diets”.
    The people in the nice houses tried to ignore this lady(who they took to calling “the Crone” behind her back, even though her name was Eulilah). They laughed at her and made jokes of her while they had their barbecues and watched inane television programs and talked about their diets and exercise fads and celebrities and diets.
    So it came to pass that there was a flood. Eulilah rejoiced at the flood because she said that her plants in the wetland needed it. She said it was a good thing, but of course the people in the nice houses were not happy because the flood damaged their basements and their kiddie pools and they had not been prepared for this at all since they thought only of themselves and their inane little lives.
    The people made walls to dam the flooding which only made it worse in some places where mosquitoes began to congregate and too dry in other places, making the land lifeless.
    Eulilah was enraged that the public funds were used in what she thought was a stupid manner. So Eulilah began to protest and talk in town hall meetings about how flooding was good and how nature knew what it was doing and if you'd just stop and think, you'd see how we need all manner of things on this planet, not just the ones we find pretty.
    The townspeople of the nice town didn't really like Eulilah, but they liked their laws which said all people are allowed to speak and so they put up with her protestations. That is, until one day she did the unthinkable and said that even death was necessary.
    “You old hag” somebody yelled, “You old crone! We need to lock you up and force you to live with us and be happy!” Eulilah cackled because she knew she was right, but she was powerless to stop them as they took her away, cut her dreads, locked her up in an old persons home where she was fed a steady diet of stool softeners, Mellaril and Ensure.
    Now the people of the town didn't like what the old woman said, but she did make them think and fear death, which they tried not to think about at all. Usually when someone died in this town, they hid them and tried to find a replacement who could wear the same clothes. But now, since she had brought it up, death was all they could think about.
    The scientists worked day and night. They made special drinks to stop cell degeneration and they created special implants to replace DNA with a more stable XNA. When someone was in a accident or drank too much alcohol, they simply replaced the destroyed organ.
    Years passed and the people didn't age. They just went on watching their TV programs and going to work and cutting their grass and talking about celebrities and diets and movies and politics and the pope.
    At first, everyone was happy. But after about a hundred years, even the strongest dopaminergic enhancers did nothing to alleviate the dullness that had pervaded their lives.
    A few people began to wonder about the old crone and they began to wonder if she was right about death and ugly things. The others called these people fools and made them repeat positive affirmations and to only think positive things.
    But everyone knew something was amiss.
    And slowly but surely it began. The death and decay that had been controlled and stopped all around the world began again.
     The diseases held at bay by pills found other ways.  The XNA although terribly strong began to show signs of cancerous growth. Eventually, enough people were upset at their lives that the old woman was broken free of her imposed hospitalization.
    She had been forcibly changed to extend her life, but once she was off her medication she began to age again and she began to think more clearly.
    “Oh old woman, what shall we do?” they all asked.
    She cackled and shrugged her shoulders and said, “You decide what you should do! Just let me die.”
    And with that she died and the people had no answers from her since people in real life don't have magical answers.  
    And instead of trying to think about the problem even more they went to where her house was and where wild plants and wild things still lived. They found something about this place beautiful.
    And so they smiled and took off their spaceman suits, which they had been wearing and they stopped taking their pills. The wild animals sensed this and began to regard them as equal.
    The people were of course, terribly stupid and one of them was eaten bu a wild bear and while this was terrifying, and while the people that took over the old womans home were often cold or hungry and they often didn't know what to talk about and their hair was often unkempt, they knew that there was something to be gained by wildness.
    Hopefully the people in the city, in the nice houses will one day learn this, too.

15 February, 2013

What they say is hard is easy

Sometimes I am amazed. I had a four hour tattoo done, barely wincing and the tattooist said he had never seen anyone move or react so little. I recently braved and am braving a few times a week hot yoga classes that on occasion make me extremely dizzy and nauseous. There were remarks that this yoga is difficult and remarks that this tattooing business is painful. To me, it doesn't seem painful. To me, climbing a mountain on a bike is not amazing, staying up for three days is not so bad, someone dying is not so painful.

I don't say this to say that I am some macho superman but it is funny that what is said is hard is actually quite easy and simple while what is thought to be easy or painless, to me, at least, is extremely painful.

Public speaking and acting, fasting- easy, painless
Going to a party and dancing, eating too much- painful
Working very hard on a project, living on caffeine and adrenaline- easy
Going to a soul crushing job day after day- painful
Going to the dentist, getting a 4 hour tattoo, walking until your feet bleed- not so bad
Trying to find a reason to live- enough to drive one to suicide.

13 February, 2013

Looking forward to the Day after Valentines

I lead a very boring life it seems. Mostly I do the same things week after week. I make my yogurt and meals for the week on the weekend. I practice yoga and run before going to work. I work and come home to work on artwork and sometimes I visit with other people. For fun I like to plant trees and hike in the woods.





I do the same things except in the fall I like to can and try to see the stars when it's not cloudy.

I thought about posting something to one of those dating sites just for fun, but the truthiness I would have to install in anything I write would scare away anyone I would want to talk to.

ahem
"Boring, middle aged bachelor seeks friend who he may or may not want to hang out with all the time. Said bachelor is interested in making food at home and drawing. Said bachelor is very poor. Said bachelor is crazy."

So tomorrow is Valentines Day and aside from St.Patty's day it is one of the worst holidays we have. I don't say this because I am not dating but because I feel a Hallmark holiday is a bad reason to be romantic. Not that I have much experience in said things anyway. I'd much rather hike in the woods and draw than deal with all the craziness and delusions that come along with dating.

The day after Valentines is a great day, though. It's called "Discount Chocolate Day".

11 February, 2013

Diary of a Schizo: The Good News and the Bad News

The Good News: I may have a job
The Bad News: It's the same shitty job as before
The Good News: We are not in any terrible war or global catastrophe.
The Bad News: One might be impending.
The Good News: I have an interview for a Permaculture Position at a farm that could be wonderful
The Bad News: I am absolutely terrified of the position and the challenges that I will not be able to live up to
The Good News: I have not appreciably moved backwards(except for my shitty oral hygiene resulting in half of my mouth falling apart) and am not being forced to take drugs or talk to useless therapists.
The Bad News: I am completely worthless at moving ahead.
The Good News: We did not have a house meeting and there are no issues and drama or drugs at the house
The Bad News: It was better when there felt like people were living here despite police trouble
The Good News: I have people who consider me friends
The Bad News: What is wrong with these people?
The Good News: I'm not dead
The Bad News: I'm still alive

06 February, 2013

Diary of a Schizo - Lucky Me

http://www.seattlemet.com/arts-and-entertainment/culture-fiend/articles/lucky-them-is-filming-in-belltown-today

While waiting for my resumes to circulate, I received an email that a new Hollywood movie filming in Seattle was looking for extras. Interested in the easy money, I replied to the email with my photos and information and the casting director gave me days to be on set. Easy enough! I sent her the pictures and she said I look like a Seattlite(whatever that means) and I should show up on set at six in the morning. I guess since I'm an extra I didn't have to audition! Sweet!

This will be the second movie I've extraed in and will constitute the fourth and fifth day I've done this. It turned out quite similarly to the first movie. The days were long as usual - 12 hours is the average it seems and mostly we just sat around until the Assistant Director or Casting Director called us. I'd say we were paid for actually doing about ten minutes of work each while sitting around for 11 hours and fifty minutes each day. If I look at it this way, I made $1,000 an hour or so (working only a tenth of that). The hard work of being an extra consisted of pretending to have conversations and walking up and down the street multiple times. I also did some stand in work which consists of standing under a light while the actors prepare. I know acting can be stressful and emotional but being an extra mostly just consists of not messing things up for the real actors.

As easy as the work is and as professional as the cast and crew all were- even checking up on us as we waited in the basement of a bar many many times to make sure we weren't dead(we were mostly napping), I can't imagine doing this work full-time as it is incredibly boring. I used the extra time just sitting around to finish reading RD Laings Divided Self and to study some Spanish. But after five or six hours of this each day, that became difficult as we couldn't leave the basement bar for we could be called on set at any moment.

It was neat seeing the workings of a studio/Hollywood film. I can now say I've met Toni Collette and Thomas Haden Church if I want to brag to people (I don't). They seemed nice enough. Some Hollywood actors I've met did not seem very nice, but some people in real-life are not that nice either so I guess that's just life.

It did surprise me that Toni had such a strong Australian accent, which I later realised is because she is Australian. I guess that makes her a good actor!

02 February, 2013

Diary of a Schizo - Forgetful Me

With being laid off from my temp job, looking for work, finally getting that tooth pulled at the dentist and having to reschedule my tattooing until I can get another job and save money, I had completely forgotten about this poor little blog.

Please accept my apologies.

Life has been crazy. I was very happy as usual working at the nursery. Today we hosted a smaller volunteer group but we still had about 15 people volunteering and potting plants. I am very happy I am able to do this work and feel great kinship with the others there. I guess sometimes I overthink things and worry that I do not do a good enough job. Mostly I worry about being awkward with the social aspects of hanging out with other people and talking about Justin Bieber or actresses who are too fat or too angry or diets or TV or movies or something equally inane. I still like them, but honestly, the endless blathering sometimes drives me nuts.

Applications for jobs have been flooding out of my inbox but very few have been coming back in. Resumes are being distributed. There are a few internships and classes at Permaculture Farms as well as less idealistic applications at smaller companies and even a few cafes.

There is also a temp job next week as Thomas Haden Church and Toni Collete are shooting a movie here in Seattle and I was called in to be an extra. I can not say too much more other than the movie is on IMDB here http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1885299/
because someone may shoot me if I say too much(shoot me with a lawsuit perhaps):

On the way home, while I was waiting for the bus, a lady in a truck stopped and called out:
"Do you want a ride?"

I hesitated, thinking of that drunk guy I used to give rides to in Maryland. I thought we should trust people more and so I said "OK."

I told her that I was volunteering, that we have 10's of thousands of plants we plant all throughout the Seattle area in the nursery. I told her I had some work but was looking for work currently as I was temporarily laid off from the temp job I was working.

She told me of her dream of creating a company that would sell planters for balconies and specific plants that people could easily grow and maintain.

As she is talking, oblivious to the road ahead, and obviously overexcited, I am a bit apprehensive. She talks about her daughter and college and keeps coming back to her grand plan. We take a detour to the landfill and she doesn't seem to really notice when they tell her there will be a twenty dollar surcharge for not tying the bags in her truck down.

She unloads the bags and finishes telling me her plans. I tell her it's a great idea and she offers to be partners. I'm a bit overwhelmed, especially considering my lack of experience and the sudden offer and tell her I will think about it. I realise she is a nice lady that is probably a bit lonely as her daughter is off at school on the other side of the nation. I'm not sure how to continue the conversation. I tell her that I considered going to SCAD for college(another great art school) but never did. We exchange numbers and part.

Life is crazy and I'm glad I took the ride.
It was much different than my many memorable rides with the happy alcoholic, yelling at him to shut the door so he didn't fall out as I was driving 60 miles per hour towards Frederick.

20 January, 2013

If Bones Could Talk

My bones protruded morbidly
My  flesh decayed with certainty
I smiled, danced and laughed with glee
they called me a deformity. 
 
Why do you dance and prance about
While us with life wish to avow
That joy is not what we all want
We're waiting for our time to come.

Yes I am gross and so decayed
I laugh and dance and prance so gay
in health I found I never lived
I died and found an awesome gift.

You are a fool, you are a kook
you certainly don't know the truth
You speak of joy and laugh with glee
But we know life IS misery.

I will not argue with you dears
and I can no longer shed tears
but now I'm more alive that thee
though worms live where my heart should be.

17 January, 2013

Diary of a Schizo: Work

Work sucks for a lot of people. I'm no different. The bus ride that begins the day is also the onset of daily morning sickness. I like to think of it as morning sickness even though I'm probably not pregnant because just writing- I'm so anxious I'm nauseous every morning is kind of depressing. So I try to hide in the back of the bus and not look at anybody.

The kid, I think he must very much want friends. He follows me to work again and we talk about a few things. I'm not much for conversation but try to be polite: I mention the Orioles might make it to the Superbowl and he laughs and says it's the Ravens. I try to pretend I said that on purpose.
At work, I unstaple about 3,000 documents. Maybe more. One of the scanners compliments the orderliness of my work. I say thank you. Not many more words are said today. The worker on the desk next to me, Mary is from China and she talks and laughs at me sometimes. I smile and laugh even though I usually don't know what she is saying. She is a very nice lady. I just wish I understood her more(and I give up asking after not understanding 3 or 4 times).

The workplace to me solidifies the idea of Seattle Freeze to me- polite yet unfriendly. It's also somewhat corporate. I don't think this is necessarily bad- Seattle has a strong independent streak, but for someone who is so introverted it is not the best environment. One of my best friends is loud, hyper and black. I'm the exact opposite, but I think sometimes we need something different to break us out of our ruts. Whatever they are.

 I try to remind myself that it won't be forever and finally getting a comma in my check account balance, I have a bit of comfort that could allow for changes in the future..

16 January, 2013

Diary of a Schizo: Hot Yoga

A few days back I went to a new yoga studio and passed out in the shower. This studio, which was a Bikram studio was terribly hot even by hot yoga standards. The other yoga place I had been going was hot also, although I didn't usually develop a puddle on my yoga mat there. Sadly, though it was a nice studio, it was something like $17 a class and I make roughly $nothing so the decision to spend that same 20 for a trial month at the Bikram studio seemed to make sense.

The new studio also had the benefit of being slightly bigger, hence having more than one guy in every class. Being a male, I find it kind of awkward to often be the only guy in class. I don't stare at the other yogis or anything, but it is such an awkward situation to begin with!

Every studio, like gym seems to have different social rules. Some are friendlier than others. I've only made one friend though - the guy who woke me up when I passed out. I made a few acquiantances at the old studio, but these places aren't very social. Being in Seattle, home of the Freeze, most people are polite enough, but pretty much to themselves and they're there for yoga, saying Namaste and sweating wayyyy too much.

I'm really glad I didn't faint on my second visit there. It's not really the health problems that worry me about that. Or the fact that I was laying naked on the gym shower floor. I just found it embarrasing.

15 January, 2013

Diary of a Schizo #1

I am probably not schizophrenic in the clinical sense but have enough symptoms of mental illness to qualify for either schizotypal personality disorder or possibly schizoaffective disorder. Not that any of this is going to matter in this blog. I hate diagnoses. Not to belittle the pain emotional problems cause, but labelling diseases is I believe much more harmful in categorizing and boxing someone in.

I was first labelled years ago when I attempted suicide and aside from the very real troubles of growing up, these diagnostic boxes have made my life just that much more difficult. I don't think it's all "someone else's" fault- Being able to justify laziness or idleness with "depression", social faux paus as "schizophrenia" or "anxiety" is a very real problem.

These writings(hopefully I can keep up with it for a while) are going to be about me putting my thoughts out there as honestly as possible. I'll try to mix it up a  little. I really don't want to write about the same bus ride and the same odd converations I have every day and I'm sure you don't want to read about them.

What I hope to present is just the ramblings of a mad man who is, I hope, somewhat sane. Although I don't represent the entire mentally ill community, there are many more like me out there than there are those who actively seek to hurt others.

1/15/13

I called my therapist to let him know I did not want to make an appointment right now. It has been weeks since I have seen him and I've gone through this before. Getting fed up with talking to the human equivalent of a wall.

He said he was concerned about me on the phone. He said he wanted to see me. I listened and tried not to yell back at him. I said I had not made any decision yet but I am tired of therapy. I feel like it is boxing me in, it's an unhealthy codependent relationship, I told him. He didn't agree and said again he wanted to see me. I told him I'm busy with work and have not made any final decision yet. He said he'd call back later.

I'm tempted to see my counselor again even though I don't feel it is helping me move ahead. I am having a lot of trouble looking at people or at cars. It all seems like a minefield I want to say. No. That would just be complaining. I have to be stronger. Find a way through this. Start with saying hello to people.

I feel nauseous. I managed to stuff down  a banana for breakfast. I ran then caught the bus to Issaquah. The kid is staring at me again.

I try to look at him just to nod and apologize but I'm feeling very nauseous. I just want to disappear. He's still staring. I feel like shit. I don't want to go to work and I don't want to be here. I nod at him and stare out the window.

The bus arrives at the transit station. I try to help a lady find her bus but can't help her beyond that. Sometimes I don't pay enough attention to other people, like her. I black out a little and fade back in as I'm walking to work.

The work itself is temp work. It's not especially hard but terribly tedious factory work. I'm thankful for the work and try to do a good job but it's like slowly going insane. Since being there I've been getting more and more dissociative spells- feeling outside of my body and reality kind of like Alice in Wonderland and it frustrates the hell out of me. I say goodbye weakly when I leave but noone hears me anyway.

I think about the things I can do, the reality I can pay more attention to. I watch the beautiful clear sky as I ride the bus home. I make a few notes of things I need to work on- emails to send to farms, artwork I need to plan and calls I need to make.

I begin to write a blog.