Tuesday, February 3, 2015

Gettin Drilled and Huntin Hipsters

So I've been told I'm weak.

Ha.  Fuck that.

If I was weak, I'd be in the damn ground by now.  Granted, aint always been as strong as was needed, but I'm a damn sight from weak.  Bless your heart for thinking it, though.

Yesterday, I was just a little bit short of badass.

So I've been planning to move to Portland for a while, like, okay, a month or something, but still...  here I am.  Being badass.  Why does it make me badass to live in a place fueled by bad fashion and PBR?  Well, it doesn't, but the way I got here kinda, well, it's badass.

A little history:  I f'ing hate dentists.  "OH big whoop Blaze, we all hate dentists."  No, no, you aint understand.  I really hate the fuckers.  When I was a wee lad, I went in for some cavities or some shit.  And they had to drill, so I sit in the chair, and they shoot me full of junk, and they leave the room and wait for it to take effect.  And I'm in the chair, and I'm waiting, and I'm waiting, and I'm in the chair, and I'm waiting.  Maybe they went for a round of golf, or like some of that kinky dentist/assistant drugsex that everyone knows is going on.  Whatever... I was there, waiting, and waiting, and then they came in.  They fired up the PainDrill, and they propped my damn mouth open, and they started working... and I started screaming because that shit FUCKING HURT, and they told me no it didn't, you're numb, blah blah.  No, bitches, I was numb An Hour Ago when you left... so they did this whole fucking mouth full of bullshit to me, as a kid, with fading painkillers.  So I have kind of a trigger when I think dentists.  My trigger reaction is to immediately want to grab a powerdrill and perform freelance trepenation on a fucker in a white jacket.

But then I got a damn infection... aaaand I had to go to the crentist.  So I did, and they seemed cool, had awesomely intelligent assistants, and a rad ass doctor named Dr. Abraham Le.  Place is called 8 to 8 Dental in Lynnwood.  Check it out sometime.  Anyway.  So this guy was like "Dude, your shit is fucked up and I don't know how you aren't screaming right now."  That's his words... except, okay, for the "Dude, your shit is fucked up" part.  But the rest of it?  Real quote.  Said my infection was big.  No options other than a root canal or extraction.  I've left a lot of things behind lately, so I didn't want to lose another tooth.  Plus, my mother gave it to me, so I'm kind of attached.  I opt for the canal.

What the fuck, Blaze, what the fuck does this have to do with the price of rice?  Shut up, bro.  I'm getting there.

Fine, if you insist, here's some damn statistics.
So he gives me this perscription for pain meds and some antibiotics.  Antibiotics?  Penis-illin.  I'm used to that.  No sweat.  Perscription, alright, probably hydrocodone, whatever, I go buy it.  Guy hands it to me.  I pop one as I'm walking out of Walmart.  It's a 5 to 7 minute drive home in traffic.  I get home, and pour myself into bed, boneless and incoherent.... yet still, curiously, full of fucking mouth pain.  And so it goes.  I hurt, I take a pill, I turn to Jello, and I still hurt.  Like three or four days pass and I'm done with the perscription.  It was on like the second day that I became coherent enough to realize it wasn't hydrocodone.  It was percoset.  On the third day, I looked percoset up.  Synthetic Fucking Heroin.  FUCK THAT, right?!  So I call for different pain meds, because, as previously stated, FUCK THAT.  I request hydrocodone, they give me hydrocodone, and I'm not only able to not feel pain, but also to think and do my job.  Woo!

So the week passes, and it's time for the canal.  I log on from home to my work vpn... it crashes.  Log on, crashes, log on, crashes.  A hundred and fifty fucking times in an eight hour period... I was unable to do a freaking thing.  So I talk to my boss.

"Boss, I can't do anything."
"Blaze, you have to do stuff."
"Boss, I can move down to Portland tonight and do stuff tomorrow probably, but I'm getting a root canal.  So I might need a bit of time to adjust to having Russian pit mining taking place in my face."
"You're the man, do it, do what you need, but the world is exploding without you being able to do stuff."
"Alright, I'll do my thing."
(Whole conversation is [Citation Needed])

So I go in for the root canal, and meet the amazingly attractive woman at the desk, who has me sign some shit and pay money.  Then the awesomely attractive dental assistant comes in and proceeds to have wicked smart conversation with me about non-tooth stuff and has me sign more shit and then lay down in the chair.  And I'm illing.  And Dr. Le fades into existence and he's all "You ready bro?"  I nod, plug myself in to The Name of the Wind Audiobook, and let him go to work.

I hate dentists, remember that?  I was so comfortable with this dude and so confident in his skills just by his demeanor that I fell asleep while he was strip mining my #28.  I woke up at one point, he's drilling and he laughs and says "Welcome back, you've been out for like 20 minutes..." somehow I hear this above the sounds of Kvothe saving Dena from the dracus.  And I'm like, "Woah, sweet" and then I relax and he just does the rest of his thing.  Then they patch me up, put on Mr. Temporary McFakeyTooth and hustle me out.  No more prescriptions.

I walk out, face full of raw meat, holes, and plastic, jump in Galactica, and spool up.

JUMP.

Not Pictured:  Portland, OR.
3 hours and some change worth of driving and Kvothe later... and I walk in the front door of my new place after stopping to buy a "The Devil Went Down To Oregon" beer at the local Alberton's.  Samala, her kid, and Brandy are all crashed out, so I lurk downstairs.  I feel fucking GREAT.  Hardly any pain, the doctor did a top notch job.  I hit Armageddon for a short while, then crash out in my new bed, under my heat blanket, and dream sweet dreams.

Now when I woke up... it was like someone hit me in the face with a rocket-hammer.  But that's less badass.

The fact is, that I'm now in Portland, and I did it with style and badassery.

Feelin pretty damn good about my life right now.

Thursday, January 29, 2015

On the Delicate Art of Breathing or Believing

This post may be a bit more tangental and rambly than my usual, which is saying something... but here it is:

There's something very common to survivors.  A few things, really, and these thoughts came to me while I was reminiscing about tales past and possibilities to come.   Survivors tend to be tough sons of bitches in many regards, yet still carry a good variety of flaws and scars.  They have empathy for miles, as they know what suffering and overcoming are, but they are also quick (at times too quick) to slam shut doors. Most importantly, survivors tend to put hope aside, they focus on breathing, they focus on walking, they hit the monsters in their heads and in their hearts with sticks, and the just focus on getting through the day.

Surviving becomes the mode du jour.  It is not easy to get kicked into survival mode, but it is even harder to get out of it.  I've only recently come to realize that while, for the most part, I've been pretty happy lately that I still have a ton of distance left to go.  I spend most of my days smiling, or at least with a neutral expression while I work, instead of bearing a faint scowl or eyes mildly fattened from tears the night before.  I've sat around contemplating this while doing my zen mudding techniques, and I've determined that the reason is that I'm starting to recognize once again that I'm worth being happy about.  I'm a pretty damn cool guy.  I've done some damn cool things.  I know some damn cool people.  I've saved friends lives, I've stitched up wounds, I've danced in snow, and rain, and sunshine.  I've taken 8 hour road trips that have changed my life, and I've gotten lost in inner city forest parks.  I've lived in more states than most south of the bible belt can easily name, and I am ceaselessly amazed by the new things I discover in a place even when I've lived there for years.

At some point I started to believe again, and not just breathe.  I think it happened for no attached reason.  It was at New Years, and I was surrounded by a ton of cool people I didn't know, and the two people that had invited me over.  I was sitting in a crowd of geeks, feeling mildly alienated and out of sorts, when I looked up into one of the most beatific smiles I've seen, and I realized that it didn't matter how I felt inside to the person who wore that smile... she was simply happy that I was there, and by being there, I was making her night better.  I started to believe not that I would be happy again, but that I was worth being happy about... and that's an important distinction.  If you believe you'll be happy again, well, honestly, what's the point?  Of course you'll be happy again.  At some point someone will tell a joke that will make you laugh.  BOOM, happy.  Great.  Woohoo.  What now?  Oh crap, life is still life.  Do you give up believing?   Do you make it in to a Journey song and decide not to stop?  Does that moment of happy diminish your self worth because you expected more, or for it to last, or something twisted like that?  Believing you will be happy again is, in my opinion, kind of fucked up and demeaning to yourself.

However, believing that you're worth being happy about.  Now there's some potential.  You're awesome, I don't give a fuck who you are, you've done some cool shit.  Even some of the people who have injured me the worst in my life are still people worth understanding, if only to truly understand why they did what they did.  Everyone in life should understand that they are worth being happy about.  Everyone should have an essential understanding in their core that they, on some level, can improve someone else's life or bring someone else joy simply by being there and letting themselves be understood, and by doing that they would help alleviate some of the ever present pain and fucked uppedness of the world.

Anyway, I'm doing good.  I hope you are too.  You deserve it... no matter who you are, or what you're doing, or why you're reading this, I hope you're doing good, and that you're smiling.


Saturday, January 10, 2015

Of Big Cats and Bright Futures

So the room has been a bit cold and lonely since Al left.  Every so often, I still roll over and catch myself half asleep stopping my leg from going too far so I don't accidentally smash my knee into a cat who is no longer there.  But I can still feel him, you know?  It's weird to say it.  In the (increasingly fewer) times when I feel down, I can feel his paw scraping against my arm, or a phantom headbutt saying "Its all gonna be alright, buddy."

So I've been thinking on and off about getting a new cat.  His or her name will be Kaizhu... and yes, there's a whole story about that too.  The doctor at the vet offered to give me one of their well cared for vet clinic cats named Tigger... and he's a great cat and all, big and fluffy and catlike in all the right ways, but he just didn't seem too bright.  And after Aleister, I can't have a dumb cat.  Can't and won't happen.  I need a cat who not only plays, but who decides to play games with people.  It's a requirement.  I need something that I can teach, and raise, and know that it is constantly thinking of ways to not only be a cat but to help me be a better human.

Babe Ruth plays baseball.
Nick Nailor sells cigarettes.
Ashe trains Pokemon.
I teach cats.

Okay, so that's maybe melodramatic, but I'm good at it.

So it started with me haunting craigslist.  Free kittens, blah blah.  Most of them had these massive rehoming fees.  I was like whatever.  Then I found a batch of black and siamese kittens... buuuut I was just about to go on vacation, and wasn't about to get a kitten and then leave it alone for like a week.  So I texted the owners and I asked if I could get one after the New Year.  And they were like "yeah, super, no sweat brah." (citation needed)

So then I get back.  The following day I text them.  I want my cat, bitches.  Well, no, sorry, we're all out of cats.  Go score somewhere else, kitten huffer.



Soooooo I'm back at craigslist.  Day one... nothing... Day two... ehhhhhh pretty cool entry for a black longhair reaching out to his new jailers using the monicker Ninja Lord (but his current jailers call him Kit Kat.)  Cool entry, cool owners, kiiiinda thinkin about it, but then about eight hours later they take the post down.  Eh, shit.  Then I find this ad without pictures for a halfbreed bengal.  Says he's six months old and *massive* but they don't have pics and they don't want 90 bucks.  Not free, but for a good cat?  Yeah, worth it.  And that sounds cool, bengals are smart, so I email them.

And nothing.  So next day, Day 3... I check.  Boom, there's some pics!  Hey awesome!  He looks cool, and he is laying on a desktop computer that is laying down sideways on the ground... and taking up almost the entire side panel.  Woah, yeah, that's a big cat.  Sweet.  Oh... wait, what's this?  Now they want 250.  Damnit.  So I start to do mental math.

250... vetted, wormed, blah... but has his nuts.  Alright.  Hmm... gonna end up a lot more expensive.  But just to check in on things, I start doing research on bengals.

And let me tell ya, man, bengals?  They're the shit.  Big, willful, intelligent, compassionate but still jerks, not lap cats... but cats.  So I start poking around more and more, learning about lineage, breed types, average lifespans, weights, stuff like that.  Really cool shit.

Hello, my name is Captain Awesome.  You hid my tuna.
Prepare to die.
So bengals are a hybrid that come from Asian Leopard cats... which are, well, exactly what they sound like.   At 16 pounds, they look completely awesome and baller.  So I kept reading, and soaking up the information, because hey, brain food.

And then, just to see, y'know, because that's what you do, I looked up bengal kittens in the area.  There are a few breeders, but there weren't any kittens... but man were the pictures I found just made of distilled and triple refined cuteness.  So meeting a bengal was kind of out.  So I started to research some other breeds.  Because I was kind of on this kick, see.

So then I rediscover Savannah Cats... which I'd previously discovered like a few years ago, and been totally amazed by.  And I start rereading them, and I'm re-totally amazed by them.  Because they're kind of the shit.  So I started to hunt through Savannah Cat breeders.  And I found one with a wee little picture of a single kitten they still had.  And I reached out.

This dude is totally cool.  He's been breeding for a while, and he's very concerned with the families he places kittens to.  We talked a bit over the phone, and he invited me over to meet the kitten who is now Kaizhu Rantarri.  I didn't really know what to expect.

So I tool on over to the place, and head on up to the front door.  It's one of those big glass panel front door things that rich dudes have, and I knock.  Immediately, two gatos in leopard print coats come sprinting up to the door.  One of them sits there and eyes me for a while, and the other comes directly up to the door.  Erik (the guy's name, not one of the cats) comes up and invites me in, and these two cats immediately come over and start checking me out.  "Sup, you a cat person, bro?  We cool?"  And, naturally, we're cool.  They're rubbin up against me, hanging out, being awesome, and this dude and I are talking.  And these cats just wouldn't stop rubbing up against me, I have -never- met a cat as affection as these two were.  Talk about Lords of Awesome.  So Erik the Not-Cat invites me deeper into his domain, and I'm like "Lets do this."

So we walk into his living room like bosses, and I bust a right, and I stop.  Because death is staring me in the face.

Now, let me stop for a moment.  Let me explain something.  Because this is kind of key.

If I say "I have a sixty pound dog," what do you think?  Like a German Shepard, or a pitbull, or something like that.  Maybe a chow.  Do you think death?  I don't think death.  I think big puppy.  I think lots of slobber, and occasional growls towards people or beings the puppy doesn't like, and I think of picking up big turds during walks.  I don't think death.

But you come around the corner, and there's this big normal every day living room, with this big normal everyday fireplace, and this big normal every day easy chair, and this big normal everyday couch, and this big normal everday African Serval, and something in the back of your mind just CLICKS and screams "OH MY GOD RUN YOU ARE GOING TO DIE."

And you'll be like "Oh whatever, Blaze."  But this happens.  It's this primal thing.  On the big normal everyday couch is a 35 pound cat.  A 35 pound mini-cheetah.  And it is looking at me.  It's not looking at me mean, it's not grimacing, it doesn't have its ears back... it's just looking at me.  But something in my brain is squirting adrenaline all over the place.  I think I let out a very eloquent, Malcolm Reynolds style "Huh."

And this cat unwinds itself from where it sits, and it prowls over towards me.  Why does it prowl?  It's not hunting.  But that's just how cats move.  If it was darker, it would have lurked, but it was a well lit room, so it prowled.  And it starts checking me out.  Snuff snuff snuff... huff... snuff snuff.

I can easily understand where people will knee-jerk reaction against these cats.  But it's a completely unfair position... because African Servals have been domesticated for years and years in (spoiler alert) Africa.  They are very curious, very affectionate when bonded, and utterly awesome felines.

So back to the story, Mr. Mancat continues to check me out for a while, and then all of a sudden stands up and... are you ready for this, are you sitting down?  All of a sudden he stands up, and puts his paws ON MY CHEST.  Think about that.  Think about a cat big enough to put its front paws on your upper torso.  He starts to sniff around my belly and look up into my eyes.

And I kinda, y'know, freeze.  I'm staring at this cat, and it's staring at me, and then it opens up this tooth mouth and it hisses at me.  You know those moments when your insides tighten from fear?  Well I'm pretty sure the guys at CERN have an easier time finding Higgs-Boson particles than they would have had finding my testicles at that moment.  And Erik's all casual about it, he looks at me and he's like "That's how they communicate.  That's like a meow.  They communicate with hisses and these bird like chirps."  By the way, here's a picture of him kind of standing up, not even at full extension.

Doesn't look that big, right?  Just like kind of a slightly increased cat.
Like 1.5 times normal cat.
Yeah, how about now, homeboy?  Is that a lot of cat or what?
So I calm down, and eye the cat... and its ears are front facing, curious, eyes aren't narrowed, tail is mildly swishing.  So I reach out to pet it, and that's when this big mini-cheetah just Nopes the fuck out and heads over to Erik.  That was too much for it... which, y'know, I understand.  I wasn't His Person, so I hadn't earned that right.

After hanging out with the big cat for a while, we head upstairs to see the kittens.  And man, okay, like those of you that know me know I'm a cat guy.  Was raised by cats, had cats all my life, I'm a cat guy.  Seen a whole lot of kittens.  And sure, kittens are cute, that's what they do, but these kittens?  Man... like it's a whole other league of cute.  At just over a pound, these things are some of the fastest things I have ever seen on four legs.  Just rapidity filled little mammals.  Zoom.  Zoom.  And they're playing, and laughing, and Erik and I are talking about 40k because he's like this rad dude.

And all of a sudden Kaizhu leaps up and burrows into my Canada hoodie.  And I'm like just... Yep.  This is the dude.  This is my cat.

So we hang out with the kittens a little while longer, head downstairs talking numbers and care and stuff like that.  He starts playing with the big cat with this fishing pole style toy, and the big cat is like working together with the little cats, using these pack tactics and trying to get the toy... you know, like dogs do?  Yeah, except cats.

As you might be able to tell, I'm pretty excited about the prospect of getting my new gato.  After Aleister sailed to distant shores, I've been thinking a lot about them.  I do believe I have found my breed.  He can't come home with me until late February, but when he's ready to depart, I'm going to love on this cat so hard.

I can't wait to introduce you all to Kaizhu Rantarri... who I am sure is going to earn a great many titles due to his immense brilliance.

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Dancing under an Ever Setting Sun

"I'm not going there to die.
I'm going there to find out if I'm really alive."
-Spike

I refuse to be beaten.

I'm sitting here in my tiny room, with my two Target shelves crammed full of stuff, my borrowed bed, my laptop, and a hole in my heart where my cat used to be.  I don't have much, but I've had less, and this is enough.  Life is what you make of it, and there are plenty of people who would spend days laying in bed weeping at having as little as I have.  There are far, far more who would fight and claw and kill just for half of what I have.  So it's all perspective.  You can look at the distance you've covered, and you can weep for the past.  You can look at the future, and start chasing things that may never come.

I've determined to look only at where I stand.  This is what matters.  This moment.  Nothing else.

A lot of things helped me realize this.  For a few years I gave up.  Really truly gave up.  I wasn't happy, I couldn't see a way to get happy, no matter what I tried I couldn't seem to change who I was or where I was or anything that actually mattered.  No matter what I did, it was always the same.  I was little more than a trophy.

Then I started to change.  Some things happened, some things that I thought were wonderful.  Some moments that I will always hold on to.  I have a napkin that stays in a frame that will always make me smile.  A box of scented letters.  Some jewelry.  Some baubles.  A poster and a handful of pictures.  These things I look at and I will always look at.  I have more I could say on the matter, but nothing else is ever said, so these words will stay inside.

The things that have been done to me in the past year alone would crush many people.  Have I been wrecked?  Oh yes.  Have I been torn apart?  Yup.  But here I stand, unbeaten.  I carry the smiles with me, as they are light, and I no longer carry heavy things.

I'm also looking at the future every so often, but it's difficult.  Every time I plan for the future, it just seems to fall apart.  Plan to be a writer... falls apart.  Plan to have a family... falls apart.  Plan to blah and blah and blah and blah.  Falls apart.  Goodbye, Nebula.  So now, the most I plan is three months, and the plans I make are nothing that can't be changed.  I have plans to return to that filthy fucking destroyer of dreams of a city to see some of the best people I've ever met.

I have plans to head down to see my dear friend Samala for Christmas, as she is one of the very, very few people I trust enough to let inside and see what really makes me tick anymore.

I have plans to go see Trish and Jared, two who have stuck with me through thick and thin and have told me flat out "No, this isn't your fault" or "Damn, dude, you really fucked up there" and are still willing to pat me on the back, share a drink, and let me haunt their shadow for a while.

I'm currently working on two novels, both on hold while I recover from the loss of my cat, and I'm planning to start working out again come New Years.  I've gained weight recently, and I don't like it.  It's not me.  So I'm going to get rid of it, y'know, as ya do.  This is all in my immediate sphere.  This is the now.

There's a phrase I used to use a lot.  Got me through some times.  It's an old Russian thing, and when you consider the mindset of that part of the world, it really comes down like a hammer.  The phrase is "This too shall pass."  I used to repeat that shit to myself like a mantra.

I don't anymore.  I started to think about that on my birthday.  I started to wonder, I started to think, and I realized I hadn't been using that phrase.  Then it hit me... I don't need to.  Yeah, right now kinda sucks, but I'm doing alright.  The only thing that kinda sucks is I don't have anyone close to me to share the laughter I want to share.  That's it.  Maybe that'll change, maybe it won't.  Maybe it'll change and then THAT will change, or maybe it won't.  The sheer fact of the matter is, I'm comfortable with who I am right now.  Right now.  I'm not comfortable with who I used to be, I'm not comfortable with the mistakes I've made... so instead of lamenting them, I corrected them.  The things I didn't like... they passed.  There are still thises that are passing.  Soon they shall.  But I don't fight through them anymore, I just kind of float.

The sun may be setting, but it is a beautiful view.  And I'm alright with that.




Thursday, August 21, 2014

Boxing with Shadows

Been a real tough day.

Some days I can push past all these things that I feel.  I can strap on that sacred and profane mask that makes my laughter seem genuine, and my smiles almost feel real.  A few good friends, a couple good times, and I can push and push and keep going.  I can keep my eyes skyward and almost forget that I'm sinking.  It's never real though.  At the end of the day I curl up in this small room and stare at my pillow, or stare at the ceiling and it all just feels hollow.

I can close my eyes and I can see roads before me, stretching off in to the distance or sometimes just looping back around.  I can dig my fingernails in to my palm hard enough to make my heart keep beating, bite down on my tongue to keep the words I want to scream from leaking out.  I can focus, sometimes, on those roads and regain a measure of hope.  Other times I just can't.  I see those roads leading off through some sort of bright pasture and my mind reminds me with all the subtlety of an orbital bombardment that it will end in another cliff, or a burnt bridge, or something else and I just want to give it all up.

But no matter what I do, my mind just won't stop.  It won't stop considering my current problems, it won't stop pulling up all the small details and trying to make sense of the last three years of my life.  It tries to put these puzzle pieces together and I can get a few snippets of a picture, but never the full thing.  It just doesn't make sense.  How can something like that just *STOP* like it did.  I could never do that.  And it is this horrible lack of answers, even though I somewhat have a shitty sense of closure, that vexes me.  It stabs me in the depths of the night and I come awake out of a dream to realize that, no, I am still alone.  And it might not be something that will end any time soon.

I have friends.  Some of them are good ones.  Some try and reach out and let me know they're there, but there's no hand to take mine and tell me it'll be alright.  I have this fucked up vision in my head that if I just had someone who would just take my hand, physically, for a little while and go on a walk with me and talk so I could feel actually very close to someone while I talk that it would help immensely... but I don't.  I'm in this alien city that I've dreamt about for well over half my life.  I've always wanted to move here, and now I'm here, and it just seems that nothing is changing.  I keep telling myself it will.  It's been 20 days, and the high points have been great, but the lows are awful.  And this one is one of the worst.

My anniversary came and went and I fought and fought and fought.  It finally caught up with me today and just clobbered the shit out of me.  I hit back with helping others, I hit back with music, and my cat kept rubbing up against my leg and clawing the living shit out of some of those soul shadows... but no matter how many I killed they just kept coming.  I feel like Kerrigan when Arcturus Mengsk abandon's her and the Hive finally captures her.  That moment where she has no ammo, she knows there's no backup, and the fight just completely leaves her.  I don't feel like fighting anymore.

And I don't want to.  I want to just let the cold black wash over me and let it all go away, but I can't.  I'm a redhead.  It's in my nature to resist.  So here I am, damning my fists as I just keep fighting.  Pointlessly.  It's all going to come around to pain again eventually, but here I am, fighting.

I don't even know what I'm doing anymore other than fighting for the pure sake of not giving up.  So maybe I will become successful.  Maybe I'll get rich.  Maybe I'll get published.  So what?  So I can put a trophy on my wall that no one will appreciate but me?  It will, in the end, mean nothing, and I recognize that.  I spit at it, and I push on anyway.

Because that's what I fucking do.  I don't give up.  Especially not when you're a redhead.  The fight is just in me in a deep core place.  I keep shooting until I run out of ammo.  Then I stab until my blade goes dull.  Then I pound until my firsts turn to burger, and even then, I keep on going.  Friends may step in and take some blows, or do some damage, but in the end it will be me, and only me, who will be able to win this fight... if it even is winnable, which I am increasingly of the opinion that it is not.

I'm not even able to find peace in Celephais these days.  Even that distant terrain has lost its meaning to me.

I'm just fighting, and I just need to keep going, even though it is pointless.


Wednesday, June 4, 2014

TIL What Absolute Horror Is

I haven't posted in a while.  Those of you who know me can probably figure out why.  So I'm going to try to start getting back in the saddle.  Too bad I don't have a more light hearted subject to kick off the new season... but here goes.

Something started to cut at the back of my heart last night, somewhere around 3 AM.  I'd gone to sleep after playing a bunch of Civ 5 and thinking about where my life is compared to a year and a half ago, and where my life will be in five years if everything goes as planned.  It was a whole bunch of serious shit tumbling through my head, and so when I rolled over and cuddled up to Aleister so I could watch Sin City from between the brackets of his fuzzy ears, I had a lot of mentally unwinding to do.  I remember drifting off as I watched Miho block Iron Jack's barrel and my psyche wandered off towards ZoogTown.  I guess somewhere along the route to Celephais I took a mis-step.  Things didn't go well.

At least it has a nice travel brochure.
I woke up and I ached inside.  Not the ache of loss, or of physical exertion, or a hundred other aches that I am quite well acquainted with.  No, this was something new.  This was some horrible new prototype ache that I couldn't figure out.  I laid there in bed watching the ceiling fan rotate in a dark room, shadow on shadow, and wishing it was raining.  My head kept spinning with all the things going on in my life, both right and wrong, and I kept focusing on things that I should no longer worry about.  Aleister rolled over and clawed me comfortingly, I think he could sense the brink I was on, and wanted to pull me back.  My fingers wound through his aged, warm fur, and in the rhythm of his heart I found some small solace.  I drifted off.

Came to not much longer.  Aleister had wandered off to get some food or do cat things.  I laid there again watching the shadows of the room and trying to untwist my brain from around the treads of the monster tank that seemed determined to crush out any remaining sanity.  I got up to put in Boondock Saints.  I figured maybe the jokes and the sound of gunfire would calm me.  Aleister eventually returned, but the shadows still lurked, and I drifted off about the time that Funnyman delivered the sandwich.  My dreams were as soft and comforting as Ron Jeremy's mustache being shoved into tender places.

Pipes.  I'll just say pipes.  Your mind will do the rest.'
I tumbled over at 6 am when my alarm went off.  Turned it off.  Went back to sleep.  Except it wasn't 6 am.  It was 7:10 am.  My mind was for some reason back on the schedule I had had when I was sleeping on a stained futon mattress in the corner of an unused room in an apartment which by no means was home to me.  I woke up, chest full of broken glass, and I didn't have time to process that Something Was Wrong.  I broke in to motion.  I called my boss at 7:50, told him I'd be running late, and I kicked my ass out the door.  Static on the radio, static in my mind, and I didn't have the presence to change either channel.  It was all I could do to just go.

Pulled in to the parking garage, and the climb up the four levels seemed to take a lifetime.  Everything was somehow moving in slow motion and yet blinking by in pulse-quick flashes of other cars.  The rows were too tight, I gripped the wheel and kept pushing, my foot steady on Galactica's throttle.  I had to keep trying.  I had to get to work.  It was my sane place.  My rational place.  Things made sense there.  If I could only just get to my cubicle this would all go away.  I hear my scorpion ring click-shift against the silver of my grandfather's ring on my right hand and I realize how tight I'm gripping the wheel that it caused them to scrape like that.  I finally get out of the pilot's seat and go.  I'm breathing too fast.  I can hear my pulse.  My mouth tastes of copper, but I have to keep going.  I get half way down the stairs.  Some lady comes out of the second floor door and almost runs in to me, I crack a joke, she laughs.  I don't even remember what I said.

I sprint at a steady walk down towards the building, every fiber of my being screaming at me to Run GODDAMNIT RUN but I hold it in.  I can't look like I'm late.  I have to act like this shit was planned.  No one knows but me and my boss.  So I walk to the door.  I wave it open, and head to my desk.  I say good morning to those I pass.  I settle in to my cube.  I start to breathe.

Except nothing is fixed.  Nothing is better.  I fire up my computer.  I log in to the phone.  Any moment now, any fucking moment now things will make sense and the world will make sense and this murder of crows in my chest will fly the fuck off and leave me be.  Any moment now.  I get up, nothing changes, I get my coffee.  I crack a couple jokes to a co-worker.  Keep up appearances.  Don't let them know that you have a rabid wolverine fighting a junked out honey badger inside your rib cage.  Keep up appearances.  I get back to my desk and realize I already emptied my water cup.  My coffee sits neglected by my keyboard.

I breathe out, and its like... well you know that sucking soft feeling that an ocean wave gives your shins when there's this monster killer swell of a wave coming up right behind you?  It feels like that.

Except with less warning.  And buildings.  And less fun.
Its like when I breathe out I have to clench my teeth down to stop a scream.  I am suddenly hit in the back of the head with all the thoughts from last night, all the tumbling stress of the last year and a half, all of the weight of those I carry and those I have left behind and it fucking murders me through and through.  It pulls my spine straight out, sharpens it, and drives it through my heart and transfixes me to my chair.  I can't move.  I can't get up.  I sit there in fucking stark horror as these horrible emotions and terrible thoughts have their way with me.  I'm alone in my row.  The sun is beating down on me from outside.  I fight, and I fight it, and I try to get a mental shield up only to get knocked right back down in the muck.  Every negative impulse is pushing me to contact the last person I'd helped in a time of great stress, but I know I can't.  I can't.  It'll be seen as weakness, it'll only make things worse.  I reach out to Christy, but she's busy, can't give me an answer that really helps.  She tries, but... it just doesn't click.  I'm still lost.  There's still horror and pain all around me, and I'm still stuck to this chair.

 I finally text someone, my friend Trish, because I don't know what to do.  I ask for help.

Sometimes that's all it takes.  Asking.   Trish comes down like a fucking avenging angel.  This whole crazed storm is still kicking my ass but through these texts she is fucking there, she's holding my goddamn hand and I have SOMETHING.  I try to block everything out.  I try to count things that are real.  At some point I must have gotten up and gotten ice from the machine, but I can't remember it.  I clutch a cube in my hand and feel the cold and the burn and I count, and keep counting.  Finally break time.  I go out in to the sun.

Outside I run in to Kira.  Bum a smoke.  She instantly figures out some shit is way wrong, and I tell her because I can't keep it inside anymore.  I can't fight this.  Its still having its away with me but I am getting back to my knees.  She gives me some more tactics.  A shield that actually holds against the storm, coupled with the sword Trish had given.  I finish smoking.  Kira shakes my hand, holds it for a while, and I know she can't stay past her login time but she gives me just enough strength to get back to my desk.  It starts to kick my ass again.  I use my shield, I count, I use my sword, I hold my ice cube, and these insidious twisted facts and lies and emotions are just too much to take.  They're ripping my heart apart.  I wish it was a heart attack, but it wasn't.  A heart attack... people there would have known what to do.  There's a defib.  They are trained.  But I couldn't let them know I was having a panic attack.  I couldn't look weak.

I get up.  I have to find the wisest man I know.  His office is closed.  Boss's Boss is in it, so I pass by, I count my steps to the ice machine.  Get more ice.  Count my steps back to my desk.  Sit down.  Count my breaths.  Count ceiling tiles.  Something concrete.  I focus on colors.  I focus on numbers.  I keep trying to fight.  I get back up.  I find AJ's door open.  I go inside.

He tells me more than what I wanted to hear.  He tells me, as he always does, what I NEEDED to hear.  He lets me sit, and he lets me vent, and he puts everything aside and he helps.  When I'm done explaining and making excuses and trying to find some sort of solid anything in my mind I finally stumble upon the word foundation.  And he takes that concept, and he builds it up.  He turns a mirror on me, and he makes me look.  His simple explanation of these concepts that I already knew but could not actualize cuts through the haze of pain and filth that surround me, the parcel up the negative, they separate the worthless and show me how much I am worth.  They show me how positive I am, and more so, they show me how I have remained positive and a good person through all these horrible times.  And then he explains to me that focusing on myself, on building myself, instead of building and helping others, is in no way selfish.  It's the only way that I can survive right now, and keep on helping others.

Tonight I wrote about three pages in my journal before I wrote this.  That's not too impressive, I write big, but it's there.  I focused on my plan for the future.  I focused on the good things.  I focused on things that build me up.  I finally feel, almost 24 hours later, as if I'm finally getting over this.  I can still feel it scratching, but I'm armed, and I'm armored, and I know where I stand.

I've helped people through panic attacks before.  People who meant a lot to me.  And I remember how frustrated I sometimes got because nothing I said seemed to work.  Nothing -fixed- them.  But today, with the help of a few friends, and the wisdom of a man who defines description, I put myself back together.

And that's all it takes.  Someone being there.  Someone being close and listening and reaching out and saying You Are Not Alone At This Horrible Moment until things start to make sense again.

I have this dreadful feeling that this won't be my last panic attack.  I think because of how my life is these days that this may happen again, but now I know.  Now I know what to focus on.  And how to reach out.  And I know that, in time, I will be whole again.


Saturday, May 18, 2013

The Machinery and Habits of Love

We all want perfection.  It's true.  Don't doubt it for a moment.

Maybe not in all things, in fact, certainly not in all things... but in something, we want perfection.  We want that perfect car, so we look at the styles and bodies and we pick the one that strikes our eye just so and we find that rusted out hulk.  We tinker, we build, we paint, we improve, and then we revel.  We want that perfect movie, so we watch trailer after trailer and we go to opening nights.  We want that perfect body, so to the gym, to the road, and to the weights in the corner of the apartment we go while supplementing with drinks, shakes, diets and DVDs.  We want that perfect love, and we strive and we change and we compromise and we fight, knowing it will all be worth it in the end.

But in to every sky a cloud, on every beach a sharp shell, and every sun a burn.  There are always flaws.

The best heros in any novel make the worst decisions, and then overcome them.  A hero that never fucks up is a boring read.

Batman became an alcoholic after Robin died.

Spawn cut a deal with the devil to come back for the woman he loved.

Justice never truly figured out if he was insane, or from another dimension.

The Navajo have a tradition when they make a beautiful piece of art.  When they produce a bead-work, they put one bead in that is off color.  When they paint a picture, they leave a brushstroke undone.  There is an oddity to any silver work, whether it be patterning or luster... there is a flaw.  Why?  Why ruin a beautiful work with any sort of -intentional- failure?

Well, it's hard to explain.  But the long and the short of it is that they believe that everything has a spirit, and that small flaw is left as a 'vent' to any badness or evilness or negative energy to escape through.  If they made a perfect work, it would be a static, stagnant thing.  By leaving that small aperture, they ensure the work shall continue to be beautiful, because anything within it that festers, any negative energy it picks up, can be vented and exhaled back in to the world.  It's a lot more complex than that, though... and that's what makes it so difficult to explain.  The idea at a core is that when you make a piece of art, any piece of art, you are sharing your soul with a static piece of the world.  And if you make it a closed system, a stagnant thing without a vent, then that part of you will be trapped within and will grow toxic.

The same, I think, is true with people.  People have problems.  They make bad decisions.  I have some very good friends who are going through some very serious shit right now, and my heart bleeds for them.  I will never think that there aren't reasons for the situations they are in, but here's the thing, and it correlates to the point I just made:

The work of art is only appreciable by the person viewing it.  If someone is staring at this amazing piece of art, and they can only see the flaw, that is not the work of art's problem... that is the fault of the viewer.  People are completely the same.  If you love someone for the beauty they have injected in to your life, it should be no problem to look past the bad decisions, past the hardships, and revel in the beauty and the intent with which they better you.  But equally as important is to leave your own flaws present, to not change yourself on an intrinsic level to the point where you become a closed system.  Leave your own flaws in place, your own problems, or you will potentially cause stagnation for your mate.

More importantly, people need to realize that the flaws an individual has are just as important as the positive qualities.  There is no perfect person out there.  There's just not.  There's simply someone who has insanities and passions and problems that mesh with yours with a minimum of cutting to either side.  Cutting being the operative word... there will always be grinding.  We are talking about two gears who are misshapen and come together to drive an engine powered by love.  Rust will flake and fall to dust, metal will grind and sift in shards to the ground, and eventually those gears will mesh perfectly but it will not be a painless or instant process.

A machine is a work of art.  A plethora of parts that work together to a focused goal, fueled by liquid, by lubricants, and by explosions.  Love is the same kind of machine.  There are liquids, there are lubricants, and there are explosions.

The difference is that physical machines have interlocking nuts and bolts, have tightly fit parts, and have engineers to help them stay together if something doesn't quite fit right.

Love only has you, and your mate, and those around you who understand the both of you and can reach out to tap a piece in place, turn a bolt tighter, or add a bit of fuel when your engine is coughing or sputtering.  It needs to be fed, this engine, it needs to be maintained, and cleaned, and periodically taken out for a long-hard run on the highway to blow the carbon out of the carburetor.

And it takes both people to do it.  Sometimes one must do more than the other.  Other times the load will switch, but both need to keep carrying it, or the system breaks down.

Love, true love, is worth whatever fight it takes to continue it.