athelind: (Eye of the Dragon)
Goodness. I've let this lie far too long, and I apologize -- particularly since my last post of any substance was "I'M HAVING CHEST PAINS."

I should remedy that, and shall.

First and foremost, HEALTH:

Said chest pains proved not only to be not life threatening, they weren't even a significant health issue. They were, yes, Pre-Ventricular Contractions, and, yes, I do have a family history of PVCs -- but there are no structural issues with my heart. The doctor said that I could go climb Mount Kilimanjaro were I so inclined.

The "flips" have entirely faded, at this point, and considering that they started immediately after I got back from last year's Maker Fair ... I rather suspect the high-voltage jolts I got for funsies from the Van De Graff generator a few booths down from us might have triggered a little persistent twitchery in the old timer.

(Come to think of it, that anxiety/panic attack I had at dinner that one night during Maker Fair might have been the first manifestation -- that feeling of "panic" and "trouble breathing" might have been connected to "GAH MY HEART SHOULD NOT DO THAT" ...)

WORK:

I am quite enjoying my current employment. My experience with interpreting and displaying complex, abstruse data clearly (read: "Your Obedient Serpent Knows Stupid Excel Tricks") has made me the go-to guy for our company's more esoteric reports, and while I tend to get buried in these Special Projects, I really can sink my teeth into them.

It's still a 50-mile commute, but I'm no longer carpooling with [livejournal.com profile] kohai_tiger; a few times driving solo gave me a taste for getting in and getting home earlier ... and earlier ... and earlier. When I flew out to Midwest Furfest last November, I started running on "Chicago Time" ... and really never shifted back to Pacific Time. Most days, I roll out around 0400, get to work around 0500, leave around 1400, and get home around 1515, plus or minus fifteen to twenty minutes either way.

Oddly, since I've shifted my shower-taking habits to evening instead of morning, I get up at about the same time as I did when I was carpooling and getting to work between 0730 and 0800 -- but since I seldom if ever have to contend with anything resembling traffic, I get home three to four hours earlier. Drying off becomes relaxing downtime instead of rushed getting-ready time.

I've also found that I enjoy driving in the early hours of the morning, and not just because of the light traffic. I'm very much a morning person, and those crisp, clear pre-dawn hours just seem more alive to me. I confess that I've also been prone to a bit of Seasonal Affective Disorder for the past few years -- but I never had an issue while on The Chicago Schedule. It tried to sneak back on the few days that I shifted back to a "normal" schedule during the winter months. I think a key factor is Getting Home After Dark: if you get up before sunrise, you've Seized the Day. If you get home after sunSET ... the day has seized you.

FUN:

I've been mostly keeping up with the speculative cinema; I can't believe I've let both Captain America: the First Avenger and Marvel's The Avengers slip by without comment, much less any other movies. On television, Game of Thrones is an amazing achievement, and on broadcast television, I found myself wholly engaged and impressed by Arrow.

I am down to a single game on the RPG front: the monthly Star Wars game hosted by [livejournal.com profile] rikoshi and [livejournal.com profile] tealfox. The Wednesday night game sessions alternating between Ironclaw and The Dresden Files were becoming increasingly untenable for me, and once I switched to Chicago Time, I simply couldn't continue. Honestly, I'm suffering a bit of Gamer Fatigue on that front; once the Star Wars game wraps up, I will probably gafiate from gaming for a year or three.

My chronic automotive issues were finally traced to a glitchy OBD-II (On Board Diagnostic) computer. That took nearly two months to get replaced and functioning properly; if she proves stable, I may start keeping a packed Go-Bag, so I can head out for spontaneous road trips on random weekends. I spend far too much time traveling the same hundred miles of road (I take different routes in the morning and afternoon), and spending the weekend sitting around home not going ANYWHERE only goes so far. I'm a traveller by ancestry, instinct, and long, long experience, and by golly, I need to TRAVEL.

Oh, and I've picked up a few more volumes of Raymond Chandler ...
athelind: (work)
Ah, the life of a grown-up.

Long commutes, manic-depressive coworkers, unexpected bills.

When this song cued up on my MP3 player, it exactly fit my current mood.






One more compromise I won't be making ... )

Too many windmills in my way ... /center>
athelind: (Eye of the Dragon)
One of the yard cats seems to have gotten himself poisoned somehow. Maybe a he got a mouse that had rat poison in him, or something.

This is one of the three that actually is willing to be petted -- the black one with the little white "dickie" that I'd dubbed "Martini". Up until recently, he was most definitely the Beta Cat to Tawny's Alpha, Spock to his Kirk, Batman to his Superman; the last few weeks, though, he's been spending more time on His Own Dread Errands.

[livejournal.com profile] thoughtsdriftby has bundled him up and put him in the animal carrier, and we're keeping a watch on him. If he survives the convulsions, maybe he'll be okay. Unfortunately, the usual "home free" point is around ten hours, and it's been a lot longer than that. I've checked on him a couple of times this morning, and he's still twitching, with occasional bouts of full-on seizures.

Having a dying cat in your living room is not the most cheerful way to start a morning.


athelind: (ouroboros)
The last panel of today's Shortpacked! sort of capturtes how I've been feeling lately. I need to snip it and resize it for an icon, if the text will still be readable at 100x100.

"We're finally growing up?"

"Screw that. We're finally catching up to all those bastards we know on Facebook who are having their third kid."



I need some kind of tag to indicate "This is a good thing, really!"
athelind: (Default)
Upon awakening this morning, Your Obedient Serpent had one of those epiphanies that keep expanding his mind these days.

For the last couple of days at work, I've been in and out of training. Training at my new job leans toward the casual and conversational. They take it seriously, but they want to know that you're engaged.

I've found that, when discussions of safety, odd technology, and strange experiences lean toward the conversational .... I frequently have A Relevant Amusing Anecdote.

And they all start differently.

When I was in the Coast Guard ...

When I worked in the hospital ...

When I was at Cal State, doing Seafloor Mapping ...

When I was in the comic book store ...


When you're clinically depressed, one of the things that gets into your head is the idea that "I haven't done anything with my life." And that's a hard one to dislodge.

But ... by GAD, sir! I've done all manner of things with my life.

I am ... INTERESTING.

You may have noticed that, over the last year or so, a phrase I've used more than once is 'I don't want to be That Guy. "Nobody wants to be That Guy."

Well, I think that I might be This Guy:

... and I think I'm good with that.



Pity poor [livejournal.com profile] kohai_tiger, who, in the course of two to three hours of daily commute, occasionally gets stuck in the role of Hapless Gentleman's Club Member Buttonholed by Pompous Windbag McBragg ...
athelind: (funny)
I was so happy to wake up this morning, look at the date on my computer, and realize that, finally, it was February 3rd!

It's like I spent the last seven years having to relive the same mistakes, over and over, until I finally got things right!

Thank the gods that's over.

On to all new mistakes!


athelind: (Eye of the Dragon)
And so, another year ends, and Your Obedient Serpent will be more than happy to be shed of this one. I bid 2010 adieu with two upraised middle fingers and a shout of defiance.

It's time to face forward.

I've mentioned that sometimes, the radio talks to me, that the station I most often tune to has a tendency to play certain songs over and over again, and sometimes, the songs that cycle into that repetitious rotation are ones that directly address my moods and circumstances.

Back in November, as I was preparing to move a lifetime of belongings out of [livejournal.com profile] quelonzia's garage, this one played nearly every day.

I was going to post it tomorrow, but it played again, just minutes ago.

This, then, is my New Year: No Resolutions, Just Resolve.

I've got a world and a life and a future in front of me.

And it's mine.






I know what it means to walk along the lonely street of dreams ... )

Happy New Year, one and all!

athelind: (Default)
Despite the events of the last year, I still have a lot to be thankful for.

If you're reading this, you're probably included in that list.


athelind: (Eye of the Dragon)
There are a few days in both Spring and Autumn, almost exactly at the midpoint between Equinox and Solstice, where the sun is at such an angle that, if the day is clear, there's a strange quality to the light that makes the world seem ... not so much unreal as hyper-real.

Today is one of those days, one of those high-definition days, and the oddness of the weather makes it moreso. Last night, around sunset, the winds came in off the desert, south-east of us, and brought a wave of warmth; it was actually warmer an hour or two after nightfall than it had been in the late afternoon. Since then, the wind has shifted again, coming from the Northwest, and, while it's still warm today (around 80), the forecast tells us that these winds will soon bring us a front from Alaska.

And you can tell. When you step outside, there's a strangeness in the air, more than just the light, more than just the wind.

Maybe it's just that there's so much change in my life right now, that these strange winds blew in at the end of a long and strange weekend.

I can feel it, though, like a tangible thing.

There's change in the air.






There's no shelter from the wind ... )

athelind: (green hills of earth)
When I mentioned him in yesterday's Writer's Block, I was entirely unaware of the fact that today would have been Unca Carl's 76th birthday.

I've linked to this before, but it's always worth revisiting:




...That's here. That's home. That's us. On it, everyone you ever heard of, every human being who ever lived, lived out their lives. The aggregate of all our joys and sufferings, thousands of confident religions, ideologies and economic doctrines, every hunter and forager, every hero and coward, every creator and destroyer of civilizations, every king and peasant, every young couple in love, every hopeful child, every mother and father, every inventor and explorer, every teacher of morals, every corrupt politician, every superstar, every supreme leader, every saint and sinner in the history of our species, lived there on a mote of dust, suspended in a sunbeam.



athelind: (AAAAAA)
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Have you ever closed the door on an opportunity or a relationship in order to open another door, only to realize you made the wrong choice?

oh, for crying ...

Yes, okay, yes. I woke up to that running through my brain this very morning: sometimes it seems like every single time I've had a binary choice, I've picked the wrong one. On the rare occasions that I do make the right choice, I manage to screw it up somehow with later choices.

I reiterate my conclusion from the last "life of regrets" Writer's Block I answered, less than three weeks ago:

Shoulda-Woulda-Coulda is toxic.

You can't do a damned thing about where you've been.
You can only do something about where you're going.

Face Front.



Rassin' frassin' LiveJournal Drama Llama stereotypes. There should be a cap on how often Writer's Block can ask the same kinds of question in a single month.
athelind: (Default)
[Error: unknown template qotd]

Have you ever had a near-death experience? How close have you come to dying?

Oh, hooray, something morbid to contemplate.

I've had a couple, the first being at age 5.

Our family was vacationing at Yosemite National Park, and my two sisters (the oldest being all of Eight Going On Nine at the time) were set with the task of watching me as we wandered around an outdoor display of old gold mining machinery.

Well, at some point, I got it into my head that I was going to Go Find Mommy, and ran off at full tilt...

... right into the sharp, blade-like edge of some century-old piece of Gold Rush apparatus, set conveniently at Five Year Old Noggin Height.

The blade sliced neatly through the skin of my forehead, along with the layer of muscle underneath, and a major artery. Yes, one of my earliest memories is seeing the world through a red curtain of arterial blood.

Parents were not far distant, as it transpired, and the park ranger responded very quickly (dropping his groceries, as it was always related in later family tellings). With the subcutaneous muscles cut, my forhead skin sagged alarmingly, causing my father to think that there was an actual chunk of skin missing; wonderful parent that he was, he sent my sisters back to the blood-soaked ground to find it.

I was bustled to a doctor's office and stitched up, and I still have a scar neatly along my hairline; four decades later, it's only barely visible. There was a lot of blood lost, of course, and as my mother tells it, I passed out in the car at least once. I have no idea how close I came to death, but if any of several factors had been even slightly different ... .

The other time that I can remember isn't nearly as impressive a tale, and it's been told in this journal fairly recently: the 70-mph blowout I had on I-680 back in March, In this particular instance, I was wholly uninjured, but, again, a slightly different array of factors could have been Very Bad Indeed. If I'd been driving my late, lamented Aspire, with its slimmer wheels and higher center of gravity, I almost certainly would have rolled; the Aspire's tires were brand-new when it was destroyed, but if the blowout was because of something I'd run over, that wouldn't have made a difference.

However close I did or did not come to my Final Destination on that highway, it was shock enough to knock me out of the clinical depression that had plagued me throughout 2009 (if not longer).

Ultimately, I guess I survived that by keeping a firm grip on the wheel and remaining in control during the worst of the crisis.

I suspect that's a metaphor.


athelind: (Default)
I'm doing okay.

I'm holding it together, and getting things in order.

Thanks to all my friends out there, for all your support.

"A million miles is the difference between failure and a new chance."


athelind: (Howitzer)
The phrase "crawling from the wreckage of my life" has been running through my head today.

It has an oddly positive tone that seems at odds with the words ...

... but when you realize that the alternative is "trapped in the wreckage of my life", then the upbeat tone all makes sense.


athelind: (Eye - VK)
One last post before I call it a day:

A little Uriah Heep. You may be hearing more of them from me; there's something in the air this summer. Maybe it's just the unusual humidity; I first heard Heep in Texas, whilst flunking out of Texas A&M.






I'm a man with a whole lot on his mind ... )

athelind: (Eye of Agammotto)
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If you were given a life do-over card, would you keep it or give it to a friend? If you kept it, would you prefer to be born to the same or different parents? Would you want to keep your memories?

I'd keep it, most definitely. I can only think of one friend who's managed to screw up his life anywhere nearly as badly as I've screwed up mine.

I wouldn't trade my parents in for anyone. I would definitely keep my memories; that's the whole point of a do-over, right? "Putting things right that once went wrong", as they used to say on Quantum Leap.

If I had to limit myself to one, specific change, I'd have stayed in the Coast Guard and gone to Marine Science Tech school. I could have spent the last two decades actually doing Real Science That Made A Difference instead of pissing around struggling to get a science degree that I don't know how to apply.

If I kept my memories, I could still meet the people who mean the most to me.

And the one who made me happy.


athelind: (Default)
[Error: unknown template qotd]

Was there something you were afraid of as a child that just seems silly to you now?

Oh, quite the opposite.

Most of my childhood fears turned out to be entirely reasonable.

I doubt that my younger self would say the same about the anxieties of my adult life.


athelind: (AAAAAA)
Came home bitey. Not work-related, Universe-related. Cynicism turned up to 11.

In a word, RAAR.

This requires a song.






It's not a game--it's just a rout! )

I already feel better.
Listening to Mr. Aday belt out existential rage
is like primal scream therapy.

athelind: (Eye of Agammotto)


GO GO GO THIS IS IT THIS IS IT
Life is not a dress rehearsal!



(That last line is credited to multiple sources;
the exuberant quote as a whole, I believe,
is from a sign that used to hang on [livejournal.com profile] kolchis's door.)
athelind: (Tiananmen Rebel)
[livejournal.com profile] eggshellhammer and I just had an online conversation about gaming and pop culture that might be worth sharing, at least for my own future reference. It started out being about gaming and pop culture, anyway ... .

[livejournal.com profile] eggshellhammer:
I've been in this noir DnD game, for... I dunno. Maybe 20, 24 sessions now.

And it's getting hard.

Not that it isn't fun -- but it's hard to endure it.

Because the world I exist in when I go there is such an agonizing moral vacuum. and even though my character has such great power to kill and to endure suffering, I can't make things better.

I don't have anything I can punch that will make a better day rise.

Because in noir, there are no good decisions.

And my only power is violence.

I'm constantly trapped in cycles of violence, and I can't escape them. I can't resolve them.


Your Obedient Serpent:
Sounds frustrating.

The secret in noir is to play the Hard Boiled Detective: do the best you can, help who you can, and maintain your own integrity in the face of a hopelessly corrupt world, because, if there's any moral dimension to that existence at all, it's what you bring to it.

Your quest is noble because it's futile.

The difference between Philip Marlowe and Don Quixote is that Marlowe knows that he's not going to win in the long run, and that even his little victories are often Pyhrric. But he keeps pushing on, because there's an important difference between "Not Winning" and Giving Up.

When you give up, you've lost.

If you keep pushing, and fighting, and striving, then even if you haven't won -- you haven't lost.

If you were playing in a Gothic-Punk game like the old World of Darkness, that would be part of it. Part of playing that game is embracing the Emo. Noir isn't too far off from that. You're a Tragic Hero, and you know it -- and that's what gives you strength. You're standing in front of the tank in Tiannamon Square, and flipping it off.

The Hard Boiled Detective doesn't back down, doesn't compromise, and if he gets the shit kicked out of him or gets killed, he does so knowing that he did it on his terms.

The people who look at an "agonizing moral vacuum" and decide it doesn't matter what they do, that they can kill and torture and do whatever it takes to accomplish their goals?

They've already lost.

The people who curl up in despair because they're not Saving the World? They've lost, too.


...and somewhere along the line, I think I might have stopped talking to Eggshell about his game.


And no, I didn't realize the inherent pun in advising "Eggshell" to play a "hard-boiled" character until I was almost ready to post this. Observing this in the Comments is both redundant and unnecessary.
athelind: (Default)
[livejournal.com profile] eggshellhammer and I just had an online conversation about gaming and pop culture that might be worth sharing, at least for my own future reference. It started out being about gaming and pop culture, anyway ... .

[livejournal.com profile] eggshellhammer:
I've been in this noir DnD game, for... I dunno. Maybe 20, 24 sessions now.

And it's getting hard.

Not that it isn't fun -- but it's hard to endure it.

Because the world I exist in when I go there is such an agonizing moral vacuum. and even though my character has such great power to kill and to endure suffering, I can't make things better.

I don't have anything I can punch that will make a better day rise.

Because in noir, there are no good decisions.

And my only power is violence.

I'm constantly trapped in cycles of violence, and I can't escape them. I can't resolve them.


Your Obedient Serpent:
Sounds frustrating.

The secret in noir is to play the Hard Boiled Detective: do the best you can, help who you can, and maintain your own integrity in the face of a hopelessly corrupt world, because, if there's any moral dimension to that existence at all, it's what you bring to it.

Your quest is noble because it's futile.

The difference between Philip Marlowe and Don Quixote is that Marlowe knows that he's not going to win in the long run, and that even his little victories are often Pyhrric. But he keeps pushing on, because there's an important difference between "Not Winning" and Giving Up.

When you give up, you've lost.

If you keep pushing, and fighting, and striving, then even if you haven't won -- you haven't lost.

If you were playing in a Gothic-Punk game like the old World of Darkness, that would be part of it. Part of playing that game is embracing the Emo. Noir isn't too far off from that. You're a Tragic Hero, and you know it -- and that's what gives you strength. You're standing in front of the tank in Tiannamon Square, and flipping it off.

The Hard Boiled Detective doesn't back down, doesn't compromise, and if he gets the shit kicked out of him or gets killed, he does so knowing that he did it on his terms.

The people who look at an "agonizing moral vacuum" and decide it doesn't matter what they do, that they can kill and torture and do whatever it takes to accomplish their goals?

They've already lost.

The people who curl up in despair because they're not Saving the World? They've lost, too.


...and somewhere along the line, I think I might have stopped talking to Eggshell about his game.


And no, I didn't realize the inherent pun in advising "Eggshell" to play a "hard-boiled" character until I was almost ready to post this. Observing this in the Comments is both redundant and unnecessary.
athelind: (big ideas)

You know, I used to think that it was awful that life was so unfair.
Then, I thought:


Wouldn't it be much worse if life were fair,
and all the terrible things that happen to us come
because we actually deserve them?"


So, now, I take great comfort in the hostility and unfairness of the universe.



-- "Marcus Cole",
in J. Michael Straczynski's
Babylon 5

athelind: (Default)

You know, I used to think that it was awful that life was so unfair.
Then, I thought:


Wouldn't it be much worse if life were fair,
and all the terrible things that happen to us come
because we actually deserve them?"


So, now, I take great comfort in the hostility and unfairness of the universe.



-- "Marcus Cole",
in J. Michael Straczynski's
Babylon 5

athelind: (loved)
About a month ago, I made a friends-locked post about this; now it's time to turn the cards face up.

[livejournal.com profile] quelonzia and I are separating.

On Friday, she'll be flying to the Philippines for business. Immediately thereafter, I will be moving out.

This is not a divorce. We are not "breaking up". We still love each other; gods, do we love each other. We still want to be together.

However, since I graduated from CSUMB in 2003, I have not held a full-time job for more than three months; they've all been short-term contract or temp positions. My current part-time retail position barely lets me pick up my prescriptions and the occasional grocery run.

She needs to know that, if something happens to her, I can actually survive.

I need to know that, too. I wish we didn't have to do this, but, honestly, until I make some drastic change in my situation, I'm just going to keep spinning my wheels.

The separation will continue until I have a permanent, full-time job that lasts more than six months.

Thanks to [livejournal.com profile] thoughtsdriftby, I have a place to stay until I can get my shit together.

I will do everything in my power to insure than the duration is as short as I can make it.


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