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I don’t know if everyone has favorite words, or that’s a writer thing, or a me thing, but I that’s one of mine. It’s been since sometime in my teen years, floating around in my head, rearing up in odd moments.

I love the way it sounds, I love what it means; it encapsulates more than breaking. Violent, presumably irrevocable destruction is implied, yet, also, a breaking out of proportion with the act from which it sprang.

Shatter has so many possibilities.

When I was young, I loved LEGOs. I built spaceships with them. They had stories. They had personalities, histories, and, as a child, I was invested in them. They were precious things to be protected. They were also, periodically, knocked to the floor.

A crash, and the pieces would scatter across our wood floors, clattering as they slid improbably far. Even then, some part of my mind was caught up in the fact that a fall of three feet could send something ten feet across the floor and under a bed.

Shatter was the beginning.

Reaching beneath the furniture, consulting with the encyclopedic memory of youth, the process would begin of tracking down every broken piece and returning them to their position.

Shatter is irrevocable, though, and the ships never came back together quite the same way. Instead, they evolved. The destruction opened up new possibilities. In this way their stories moved forward. These ships with names, and their crews. From alien worlds they rose, different than before. Sometimes two ships became one. Sometimes one became several. Either way, in destruction there was rebirth.

One trip back from college I took one of those shatterproof bowls from my car, and demonstrated to my dad how unbreakable it was by dropping onto the concrete.

To my chagrin, when it hit the ground, it shattered.

It broke energetically, pieces flying out every which way, in long, curving shards, nearly a series of concentric circles. I kept the largest piece for half a decade before it broke again. I still have a piece of it somewhere. It’s still one of the most oddly beautiful things I’ve ever encountered. See, it broke in concentric rings, shattered along the lines of the resonance within it; destroyed by its own strength. The largest piece looked like nothing so much as a crown, high and spiked, austere and lovely. If Aris had a crown, it would have been made from this broken bowl.

It’s a process that repeats today. I finish a story, even a book, and I drop it. . . to see if it shatters. I rebuild it from the pieces, some words lost, some kept. . . some of the best stories I’ve ever written were lost. I’d remember them, and go back to find them, only to realize they died with a site membership or a hard drive.

Diving into the crevices of my memory in search of all the little scattered words I go. Little-by-little the story comes back together, different, better, more than it was. Sometimes they crash together, combine, sometimes they split. Everything I’ve ever written has been broken and rebuilt over and over.

And we, we’re the same. Sooner or later we all shatter. No matter how strong we are, something is too much, and all the pieces go everywhere. So much of our lives, our happiness, is not determined by any events but by how adept we are into finding all the best pieces of ourselves and building them into something new.

I like it, it’s a good word, shatter. 

Election 2014

I didn’t vote. I thoroughly researched the issues, and decided they were were all too long term to justify my input. Since I move a lot, voting on local issues feels a bit too much like walking into a stranger’s house and rearranging their furniture. I don’t really feel comfortable or justified voting for or against something that will, for example, raise people’s property taxes for the next thirty years.

That said, I do think voting is important, and everyone that did vote should pat themselves on the back, go you!

This election has actually been a lot of fun to follow, because so many races are SO CLOSE! Add to that a few surprising (Virginia, anyone?) and it’s been entertaining. Part of the excitement for me is that I’m not really rooting for one side over the other, so much as a margin.

Here’s what I want out of this election:

The GOP to take senate majority by just a large enough margin to make Obama feel like he’s just been kicked in the testicles by a pro soccer player, but a small enough margin that Team Red doesn’t feel they’ve received a mandate to do anything stupid. There’s a special sort of excitement to rooting for a range rather than a simple win.

Anyway, I just thought I’d give the reminder that, win or lose, we’re pulling off something awesome tonight: we’re choosing our leadership without war, revolution, or fear of reprisal should we pick the wrong side. No one else does that on the scale we do it here, no one else can claim to have done it, without interruption, for so many years. It’s a grand tradition, and, as long as we uphold it, the problems of today will remain small ones which shall pass in time.

A Note to the Ant-Peoples of the Greater Phoenix Area But Specifically the Vicinity My House.

Ants, I understand your plight. Phoenix, where both live, is inundated today, beneath the angst of what was recently a hurricane.

Much as that hurricane is to me, a seething mass of power, quite capable of killing me without effort or notice, you are to me. And yet, unlike the hurricane, I am not unsympathetic to your plight. Had you come as refugees, I would have granted you asylum until the waters had receded, content to share my space.

You did not come as refugees, however, you came to conquer. And in the cold dim morning as I dressed to jog, you attacked me viciously, and without warning. Though I killed you effortlessly, where you waged battle with my feet and ankles, still, there might have been piece. Yet, no less than three times did you attack me.

To you I am as a god or force of nature, but also I am busy. It is for that reason I authorized and carried out the chemical extermination of your species from my abode. Though to you this seemed, no doubt, the act of a cold and uncaring force, as you lay convulsing on the cold tile, I assure it was an act of revenge, justified, certainly, but also carried out with cold malice.

You held your fates in your foremost tibial spurs this gray morning, and, my little friends, you done screwed up. I only hope that whichever ants soon occupy your barren burrows and neglected caches learn from you mistake, and in your shattered corpses find the message I have writ by my actions: “Peace in Life, or Peace in Death.”

Do not weep, however, for you will be remembered until the very hour the itching and burning around my ankles fades.

Writing and Shooting

Love and Stuff

That article on the chemistry of love did really well, so I think I ought to go ahead and let everyone know that it came via a conversation with my girlfriend on the subject, and it was her very smart idea that I should write something up. Also, thanks for stopping by if we have any repeat visitors!

On that note, I have been building up my oxytocin reserves since I get to pick my girl up from the airport in two days!



Edited Version of First Book

Some Random Stock Image of an edited book for scenery.  (Photo credit: TheCreativePenn)

I’ve just survived my third week (and second time reading) at the writing group, and I find I really like the place. It’s important to have people other than myself tear my work apart. I should write more. I have such trouble with discipline lately. It’s stubbornness, really. I want to be able to just write fiction and get paid for it, and the lack of that option makes me want to track down some personification of fiction as a concept and just slap it around a little. Since that’s not possible, it’s good to hear feedback from people with far more experience than me on the ground.

Some red ink is needed, sometimes, to get your bearing professionally.


A Bullet Stuck in the Chamber


I think a good part of the current frustration is just too long in one place, as such things go. I need to do more than just think about things. Don’t get me wrong, I like thinking, but I am the sort of person who needs to do things, or it just builds on a sliver at a time. However, it’s hard to do things when you only barely have enough money to do more than get by.

I haven’t been completely boring though. Not only have I been going to the writing group, but I went shooting last week. Planning to go again this week. Awesome, right?!

Marlin Model 60 .22LR rifle manufactured in 1982

Marlin Model 60 .22LR rifle manufactured in 1982 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The gun I traded my dad for my target .22, which is in theory much better for just going out and shooting (it’s certainly about 1/3 the weight) didn’t work, however. It’s a Marlin Model 60, which is a semi-automatic rifle. For non-gun folks, that means it loads the next bullet for you, rather than you cycling it yourself to empty the chamber and load a new round, like a bolt action. In theory, it’s convenient. In practice, my experience involves a lot of trying to figure out why it’s not loading the next round right. In this case, each time I got things cleared out and fired, the next round would wedge itself firmly halfway in the barrel.

It crossed my mind that my dad might have given me a non-functioning gun as a joke, but that’s not how he generally operates. It turns out I probably shouldn’t have been using subsonic rounds with it. I decided to take it apart, clean, and oil it, just in case. It was surprisingly easy to disassemble, but I probably should’ve hired a chimney sweep. There were parts that looked like they were supposed to be black that eventually proved to be bright shiny steel. My dad generally takes excellent care of guns, so I don’t know how this one ended up quite so gummed up, but I got the whole action moving much more smoothly.

There’s something very satisfying about taking something apart, figuring out how it all works, and putting it back together better than you found it. It’s the same sort of satisfaction gained from editing.


Also, this gives me n idea for something I want to write.


Post Post Song Post

This is a bit morbid, but it’s just such a rough and powerful song, and the way it drops off towards the middle and then picks up again. . . well, it’s just a hungry sort of song, and I enjoy it. There’s a version with musical accompaniment, a version that’s just the music, and all three are great, which it a pretty strong indicator of just how good a song it is.

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Just Some Thoughts



Should Be Working

I should be working. You know what, though? I’m going to do some fun writing first. This is my first full day as a twenty-seven-year-old, and precedent is important. It’s been a fun couple days. Ended up seeing some old Flagstaff friends at Lux, and then bar hopping from there; there were friends, there was ping pong and sack toss at The Yard, pool at Metro, and probably other things I’m forgetting.



On my actual birthday we went to a “Booze and Pancakes” art show, which was pretty fun. Thaddeus and I played a bit of Mass Effect multiplayer beforehand. Nothing quite like putting on a Krogan face and whacking dangerous aliens to death. There was fuseball and Gin bought me a whiskey, which was awesome. Some of the art was pretty cool, too.

So, all in all, it’s been a good couple days. I wish my girlfriend was along for it, but you don’t get all you want, all the time, and you have to really take a moment to appreciate life when it’s going really, really, well.

Today’s been back to business as usual. I went to the gym, and turned my legs to jelly. Then I helped clean the fridge because the jelly had grown legs. Now, well. . . now I’m working.

The last couple months have been tough in a financial sense. I’ve been getting by, sort of, but behind, behind, behind. Even when things should have been fine, I was dealing with banking issues that pretty well rendered my accounts useless for the better part of two weeks. I’m finally out in front again.

Here's  a picture of a mosquito admiring herself in the mirror for no particular reason.

Here’s a picture of a mosquito admiring herself in the mirror for no particular reason.

So what’s it like being 27? Pretty much the same as it was being 26 and 364/365ths, to be honest. Still, this past year has been tumultuous and good. I’m better at what I do, now, more sure of what I want in many, many, areas of my life, and, odd as it may seem, much closer to a great many life goals. Which is about the most you can hope for out of a year. In some ways I thought I would be a bit farther down the road now. So much of success on paper doesn’t translate into financial success, and. . . well, there’s always half a dozen opportunities for moving forward, and most lead to dead ends, pitfalls, or just meander without taking you anywhere in particular. That’s okay. This is about continuing to walk, more than anything else.

I’d be lying if I said I didn’t like it.

Life does move along, and it’s a bittersweet thing. At least two of the people in this picture will be in other countries when my next birthday rolls around.

the yard web

But they were here for the night, and life’s much better for it! I’m looking forward to this next year, and seeing where it takes me.

A Survivalist’s Guide to the Shutdown: Day 1

Politics. Politics never changes. When the end came, it came pretty much how radio talk show hosts said it would. 

It’s Monday morning, the first day of October. Uh, 2013. I’m pretty sure the date and time shows up on these posts somewhere, I don’t know why I told you that.

The US Federal government has been shut down for. . . Well, I don’t know actually. . . Does the whole government run on Eastern time, or is it by time zone? Did things shut down three hours later here in PST? Is the government live sports or a sitcom? Also, does it all shut down at once? I mean if everyone used their exact budgets for the year to the minute, I guess, mad props, but I’m assuming there’s some office somewhere where everyone got the flu last week so they can technically make payroll for another day. So it’s some sort of staggered event, then. Probably.

I don’t know. I just don’t know. There’s so much confusion around. I guess, like a lot of you, I have a lot of questions. For example, should I buy an eyepatch now, or should I wait until after I lose an eye to some sort of battle wherein I establish my badassitude? Luckily, this happened in October, otherwise I’d have no idea where to buy one.

Obviously, I was prepared. Apparently, the people who watch the SEC and stuff are down for the count, and the grizzly bear wranglers (yet another job no one mentioned to me growing up) are on furlough, so I can only assume that the people who enforce all federal laws are out for the duration. I hear the people who press the elevator buttons for the Senators have been sent home, so things are truly desperate. I’ve downloaded a list of federal crimes so I know what’s okay to do now.


Highways are federal property, aren’t they?  I mean, this is like Mad Max, right? The fate of the world now revolves around gasoline, leather clothing, and guns? I’ve been waiting for a chance to put machine guns on my car since roughly ten years before I got one.

Why don’t we shut down the government every year? Because I have a leather jacket. I am prepared for this. Anyway, I need to make some car modifications.

10:00 AM

This is already turning out to be a bad morning. Not only could I not find any machine guns, and had to settle for welding machetes to my wheels, but everything appears normal. I felt like such a damned fool driving around with those chariot scythes spinning along at knee height.

Sure, they seem awesome in theory, but they were really hard to install and the Ben Hur vibes are really muted by how tiny they look on something the size of a car.

I’m not sure it was worth the time to install them. They make this whoosh!whoosh!whoosh! noise, so people would hear me coming even if I was driving a Prius.  On top of that, I only saw one person who looked like a post-apocalyptic cannibal on the whole drive to find the machine guns. Well, he was a white guy with dreads. Close enough. I tried to use the scythes, but he just jumped right over them. I mean, he screamed and looked confused, but he jumped over them, no problem.

I’m almost glad I haven’t put the machine guns on yet. Machine guns are harder to find than I expected them to be in the post-apocalyptic wasteland we’re now living in. I thought every single store was supposed to be well-supplied with arms and ammunition after the government collapsed?

Well, I’ve been to three 7-11s, a Cracker Barrel, and a Hallmark store, and there’s been not one damned machine gun. Obviously, I avoided actual gun stores since those are no doubt shooting galleries right now as people battle over the last supplies.

I did see many people who looked like they may have been zombies, cannibals, or severely shell-shocked in 7-11, but that’s not really strange. Not only were there no heavy arms or explosives, but things still look fairly normal. At least Coke half of the Slurpee machine was still working. Who knows how much longer that will last? I grabbed some Slimjims and filled my pockets with some sort of greasy meat tubes that were rolling back and forth on what appears to be some sort of repurposed exhaust manifold. They seemed barely edible, but beggars can’t be choosers in this day and age. It’ll be iguana on a stick soon enough. If it’s not already.


The man at the counter looked up and asked, “Hey, you gonna pay for those?”

It’s a fair question. One hand, this is a new world where only the strong will survive, but, other hand, it seems fair to be generous while supplies last. I took a handful of bullets and bottle caps out of my pockets, and threw them on the counter.

“Keep the change,” I growled, practicing my best post-apocalyptic voice.

“Shit.” The man goes pale. I grinned as I walk out the door. Apparently, I’ve got the growl down.

Still, I need some heavy weaponry to back it up. I think I’ll have to take a trip to one of the nearby abandoned military posts.


11:00 AM

One thing I have to say I’m enjoying is the total lack of speed limits. The chaos on the freeways is palpable. People are weaving in and out of lanes without signalling, cutting each other off, and moving twenty, thirty, miles above the speed limit while recklessly texting and shouting into cellphones.

Finally, some real action.

Oh, and a pleasant surprise: The armor on my car was light enough that I could still hit 85-90 mph on the flat stretches!

Soon, I looked in my side mirrors and spotted flashing red and blue lights; a bandit in a stolen police car. . . I know, right? Who’s going to fall that? The government is shut down faux cops!

I couldn’t outrun the pursuer, and pretty soon I had a whole pack of them on me. I’m not sure if the armor was worth it. My heart was pounding. I had expected them to take a few shots at me. I guess they figured there was no reason to bother, with the armor and all. So I guess it’s a wash, overall. Too slow to escape, to baddass to shoot. Then, one of them attempted to send me into a spin.

You’re not going to believe this: Turns out wheel scythes are awesome for shredding tires! I mean, one got snapped off when it got stuck in the bandit’s wheel well, and the other side got clipped off by the median as I struggled to regain control.

The bandit spun off, careening into the other bandits and strewing their wrecks across all five lanes like something out of a movie.

The resulting pile-up and fire provided me plenty of breathing room to escape.

I took a deep breath to calm my nerves, and told myself the something I’d been wondering, deep inside, ever since several hours ago when I heard the government shut down: Yes, you do have what it takes to survive in this harsh new world. 

I am a road warrior now.


12:00 PM

It turns out the abandoned base has already fallen into the hands of a militia. They seem well-organized and highly-trained, so I opted to enter negotiations with the guards.

I approached with my hands up to show that I was unarmed. I mean, I had no guns or knives or grenades. Obviously, I have arms, or what would I have been using to hold my hands up?

I had parked nearby and approached two of the guards on foot. One of them was about my age, the other couldn’t have been more than a kid, barely twenty. Truly, desperate times.

“Hi,” I said.

“Uh,” said one, “hello, sir?”

“You guys seems like a really effective outfit.” It never hurts to start negotiations with a little flattery.

“Thanks,” said the other. Things were off to a good start. “Can we help you, sir?”

“I was wondering if you guys had any machine guns.”

“Uhm, lots, actually, sir.”

“Awesome, are any of them for sale?”

They both shrugged.

“I don’t think so, but you could, I guess, check if there are any in surplus?”

“Awesome.” They had really great gear, it looked like. Camo, guns, ammo, shiny buttons. I’ve always been a lone wolf, but I realized then that I might not be able to go it alone. I would need friends, allies, powerful people who owed me favors, if I was going to survive.

“I don’t suppose you’re recruiting?”

“Yeah,” said one. He pulled out a card, and told me, “I don’t know if you’re exactly what they’re looking for, what skills you have, but it wouldn’t hurt to give them a call and find out.”

Business cards. Slick. Things seemed to be off to a good start, but it wouldn’t hurt to raise my standing with the group.

“You guys need water, or, like, half a Slurpee or anything?”

“No thanks, we got all that here, sir.”

“Yeah, thanks though.”

“No problem,” I tell them.

So I took one, and started to leave, then remembered I had another question.

“How hard do you suppose it would be to mount machine guns on my car?”

They both laughed. That stung a little. I may have earned their trust, but it was clear I had a long way to go to earn their respect. I changed the subject.

“Is your operation abandon this place any time soon?”

“Why would we do that?”

“Well,” I tell them, “soldiers don’t get paid while the government’s shut down, so I don’t imagine too many supplies will be coming in.”

“Wait, what?”

“Soldiers aren’t getting paid?”


They held a brief, whispered, conversation. The only words I caught were “mortgage” and “alimony”.

“Look,” said the older one, “how much would you be paying for the machine guns?”

“Well,” I said, considering, “most the stuff I have you guys will already have, but I guess I could give you a bar or two of my emergency gold, would that work?”

I pulled one out of my pocket, to show them. They seemed impressed. Which was good, since it was the only one I had. There was another brief conversation.

“Come back in a week, same time, same place, and we’ll give you an address.”

I nod, and growl out thanks, before walking away. There was gust of wind that came by right then, and I’m pretty sure it made my leather jacket billow in a very cool way.

So far, so good. All I needed to do was find another gold bar by next week. Money was useless, now, but I wasn’t out of options. I looked out into the desert. Somewhere out there was bound to be a coyote or some sort of animal that had inexplicably swallowed one. Or maybe some raiders. I don’t know.

13:30 PM

The drive home was uneventful. I took the beltway to avoid the bandits and it seemed to work.

16:00 PM

As I sit at home writing this, collecting my thoughts and enjoying what will no doubt the last electricity and running water I will ever experience, what really strikes me as strange is how normal it all seems.

Everything seems so ordinary. The school zones are all on, the stores are all open, the trains are running, apparently the stock markets are up.

All around me, people pretend their world hasn’t changed. They continue on as if the very lynchpin of our existence hasn’t folded in on itself, and rendered us helpless in the sudden absence of the constant and overwhelming array of services it provides to us. For a wild second it almost seems as though nearly all the government services we can’t live without are administered on a state or even local level through private companies, functioning nearly independently of the distant Capital.

I know this is crazy, but sitting here eating my rehydrated dinner and the gallon of ice cream that would otherwise soon melt, I almost believe it will all hold together, and somehow, some way, we’ll pull through as a nation and a people.

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Introspectives and the Calculus-based Theory of Affection 10

The month or so after a break tends to be a productive time for me. I almost look forward to it. I like to look back over it all, and see what I’ve learned. This one’s been interesting. I guess you just get to the point where you’re looking for people who might be along for the long haul. That’s not to say I’m planning to settle down and start a family any time soon, it’s just that it’s a big world full of people, and finding the right one to head down the road is no small task. Maybe it’s time to start looking around with that in mind?

There’s a driving snow in this small AZ town today. It’s the wet kind that sticks and turns the roads into a Mario Kart experience, as drivers slip and slide like some SOB just unleashed all the banana peels. I love it. I narrowly avoided being the third car in a pile up today as we all slid across the ice at two miles an hour. There’s something thoroughly amusing about a situation where an accident may or may not be unavoidable–and getting out and pushing against the front of your car might be a viable option. I managed to salvage the situation, though the two cars ahead of me did not. The coffee shop looks to be closing early, with the snow and all, so I’ll be making this short.

I just ran into a girl who recently broke up with my friend Dave. She was sitting in the coffee shop, talking to a girl I recognized, belatedly, as being a friend of my most recent ex, who I met on the same night, four years ago, at a party at Dave’s house. A lingerie party. Have I mentioned this town is small?! It was nice to finally meet her with her clothes on.

I think I’ve finally figured out this “love” thing. According to the Global Language Monitor there are 1,013,913 words in the English language. . . roughly 160 times the number there were just 400 years ago in Bill Shakespeare’s time. Most of those probably popped up in the last century or so. That’s because we don’t have words for all the concepts under the sun. To paraphrase a Disney song, there is, “. . . more to be seen than can ever be seen, more to do than can ever be done.”

Love means a lot of different things. I love my family. I love my car. My dogs, past and present. I also love the show Community and I really love bacon–which is not a show but is should be. Why is there not a Bacon Network? My point is that love is a diverse topic, even before you break down the various ways you can love someone romantically.

I was really bothered for a bit by how cold I was in response to this last break up. I can’t square the sort of love that lasts for decades and serves as the foundation for building a family with the sort of love that can be shrugged off with all the sentimentality of a particularly itchy wool sweater. Still, I know that sort of love exists, because I’ve seen it. So what the deal, here?


Like every single other thing in existence, it’s all about calculus. For those of you who never had the privilege–nay, the pleasure of taking calculus, let me inexcusably oversimplify the entire subject and say that it is the science of figuring out the equations for the lines on the graph, and every little thing about them. Yes, it’s y=mx+b with a fancier name. If that sounds simple, well, do keep in mind that you can effectively graph anything and there’s no law that says you have to stick to just one or two dimensions.

Anyway, I found this analogy helpful. When you meet someone and carry on a relationship it’s because you’re both at a point on that grand twisty-line-rendering equation of your life where you’re pretty close to one another; physically, spiritually, emotionally, etc. The problem is that, even if you love them at that shared point, people are not points, we are lines. There’s no guarantee the two of you are going to follow a compatible path just because there’s a compatible point or two along it.

And that’s the key, right there. To love and calculus: The lines on the graph never just bounce around for the hell of it, oh no! There’s an underlying equation to it all. So there’s this other kind of love, this longer love, that doesn’t give a damn about the points, it’s about finding someone who is following a path like yours and spending the rest of your life understanding the intricacies of the equation.

Thing is, the only thing you can do is extrapolate the line from the shared points, the equation from the line, the future from the past, the past from the accumulation of moments in the shared present.

How about that?


Trajectory 4

Song of the moment:

This is a personal blog, so in theory I should talk about me. Uh. I’ve been working out?

Given how I don’t really know anyone here (although that’s  been changing) I tend to spend all my time working. I work when I’m at the coffee shop, I work in my apartment, I even work when I’m at the bar. I don’t always work on paying writing, but I’m always doing something, but I do need some sort of physical action in my life. As a consequence I’ve been spending a lot of my spare time in the gym.

It’s been about a month now, and it’s been alternately encouraging and disappointing. I have a goal. I want to get back to 185, at least (my old max weight) but I’m shooting for 200. Instead, I’ve been holding steady around 165. Why? No idea. I’ve been getting stronger–much stronger, my max lifts have gone up about 20% this month across the board. I’m damned happy with that. Lat pull’s gone up by half. Feels good. I just don’t get why I haven’t gained a pound.

Work is going well. Really well. Fantastically well, in fact. The feast and famine themed wheel of the self-employed is definitely turning towards feast at the moment.

Life tends to be a bit of a mixed back. Some success, some failure, no matter what you do or how good you are. The part that’s variable is the ratio of one to the other. And that’s got a lot more to do with what we in the business call, “Getting your ass in gear.” It’s 10% about where you and 90% about trajectory. I feel good about where my life is right now, and that’s a nice feeling, but I feel fantastic about where it’s going. I try not to get too hung up on that. I have enough to focus on without daydreaming about fame, fortune, and the bikini model millionaire astrophysicists I’ll be dating somewhere down the line.

Once I get rent together (and the loft bed that’s been sitting unassembled in my room for almost a month) I’m going to build a workbench for projects. Nothing fancy, but I do need projects to stay sane. On the table at the moment I’m looking at trying some cool new things with moss graffiti, and maybe revisiting distilling scents.

On a related self-improvement note, I’ve been working to overcome my problem with remembering names. Our brains are very good at prioritizing and filtering the information that bombards us each day. Since I have no problem in general remembering information, it must be that my brain is not assigning a high enough priority to remembering names. They’re going in the spam folder. Being a new town, this is the perfect time to fix that. So I’m training myself to remember names. It’s actually going fairly well, too.

So there, that’s my life right now. If you’re not a little better than yesterday, you’re wasting today.

Another Christmas

A year ago today I was about to go in to work, because if I worked for time-and-a-half on Christmas and Christmas Eve I could afford to go home and see my family over New Years. I was working a very easy job as the overnight guy at a hotel, which was all fine and good, but it wasn’t where I wanted to be.  I wrote something about that time about how 2011 had been one of the best years of my life, and I hoped that 2012 followed suit. That was a tall order, given that I was moving to a new city and starting a business.

I thought now would be a good time to talk about how life moves along, to take stock of it all. Not just for myself, but for the people around me. It’s interesting to watch how people change and grow up. Awful lot of my friends are having babies, some of them even on purpose. Liam and Phoenix are already out in the world, and there are going to be at least two more popping out in early 2013.

My sister’s got an EMT certification to go with her archaeology degree, and she’s back home in Las Vegas with her fiance, they’ve just got an apartment together. She’s not where she wants to be yet, but she’s got her feet on the ground, and sh’es employed–not bad for someone fresh out of college these days.

A lot of people are putting down roots, others are deciding roots are overrated. One of my friends (generally referred to as Big D in my blog) bought a condo, to go with his stable full-time job. Gin moved in with him, to help with the house payment. Gin quit his old job about the same time. . . Turns out making rich people richer isn’t all it’s cut out to be, even if it pays well. He took a leap of faith that he could switch to a completely new career in midstream. It was a stupid gamble, maybe, and it sure looked like it was going to bite him in the ass for awhile, but he got exactly the job he wanted, and then he got promoted. Risks are not always rewarded, but there aren’t many rewards for the people who don’t take them.

Aub and Max bought a house of their own. They’re the first of my friends, at least in my age group, to take that step. Just like Big D, they’ve got roommates for now, but it’s part of a pattern of people building lives. I thought Max might move on to another job, but he seems to have decided to push for a raise and more benefits instead. I see my friends moving closer to where they want to be. It’s strange to see how different where happens to be. Some want homes, some want families, some want new jobs, and some want to get the hell out of Dodge.

Me, I’m just getting more comfortable with the idea that I may never be where I want to be. I’ll be getting an apartment with my future-former-ex-girlfriend, it looks like. I’ve got my first paid book in progress–it takes a lot of time, a lot of effort, and it’s not done yet, but there are new projects in the pipeline ready when I finish. My most recent moved me officially into the black for my writing business. From here on out, I am someone who started and ran a profitable small business. In a practical sense, it means that, instead of being stuck working a shift over Christmas, this year, I paid for my trip home while sitting in a coffee shop in Flagstaff waiting for Brittany to get off work. I’m doing what I want to do with my life, and I am being paid to do it. That’s a good year, right there.

There were moments this year when I thought I would fail. I was looking for a job, even, when I caught my first major break. There’s no question that, had it not been for my friends, I would have failed. I would have had to move back home or get another 9-5 job, or maybe both. I was there, on that edge. I could still fail. Failure is always shadowing us all, grabbing at our ankles, hoping to trip us up. It’s good to have people there to catch us.

The thing is, anything you can do once, you can do again. So, sure, I’m hoping 2013 is like 2012, but if it’s a year where everything goes wrong, I’ll just end it hoping 2014 is like 2012. I’m going to do something I don’t normally do, and I’m going to give advice for everyone going forward. Nothing groundbreaking, just the same stuff everyone says, everyone hears, and everyone still has to figure out on their own:

Life is hard, and life is easy, and it will be somewhere in the middle most the time, and it doesn’t care about us little people so it will be whichever of these things it wants to be whenever it damn well feels like it. The things is, it’s a bit of a journey and whether the going is hard or easy, if you keep your bearings and you keep walking, you’ll keeping getting closer to where you want to be. Or you won’t, but you’ll end up somewhere, either way. The funny thing is, if you ask someone if they’ve had a good life or a bad life, where they are and what they’ve been through don’t have half the impact on how they answer as who they are. So that’s my advice: Stop worrying about where you want to be, and start worrying about who you want to be. It’s the only part you can really control anyway.

Enjoy the trip.


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Function is Beauty 5

Many of the friends I’ve had that have actually graduated with their engineering degrees have been functional alcoholics. Thinking back, I drank far, far, too much when I was studying chemical engineering. . . there something about approaching a twelve page, sixteen part, calculus-based engineering homework question that the sober mind rebels to.

Today, I have been, for reasons I’m contractually obligated not to elaborate on, delving into some pretty heavy engineering. And, through no plan of my own, I am, by my standards, inebriated. So it harkens back to those days.

The simple truth is that you just can’t do any good engineering sober. You can be an excellent sober number cruncher, don’t get me wrong, but that’s different. See, to be worth your weight in table salt as an engineer, you must have a naturally analytical mind. This means a mind that continues to function analytically while impaired by lack of sleep or ethanol-laced toxins in your bloodstream. Because you simply have to unlock the artistic part of your mind to do engineering right.

Look at the Eiffel Tower, the Golden Gate, the Hoover dam, and so on, and so on. It’s about the truth in the function. They are undeniably beautiful structures absent frills, and lace, and crenelations, and stone gargoyles. All the accouterments are unnecessary because the form is caught up in the beauty of pure, unalloyed,

English: The Eiffel Tower.

English: The Eiffel Tower. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

function. Great engineering is art. Great engineering is beautiful.

I’m not doing any great engineering tonight, but I’m trying to manage some halfway decent faking of it.

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