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Life | First Time Flowing - Part 2
 

All posts in Life

Blarg

I admit it, I am phoning it in today. I can’t think of anything to write about. I hadn’t been working on the Dune artwork for a while, so I spun that up today and rendered out another character. The impending release of Rex took the wind out of my sails a bit. I know it isn’t Dune per se, but it has the same game mechanics. Since it is from Fantasy Flight, I’m sure it will be fantastic. The same thing happened when I started work on a custom Cosmic Encounter set. Fantasy Flight brought it back so there was no point in making my own.

In other news, the girlfriend project is going really well. ūüôā I look forward to experiencing even the most mundane events like doing laundry because I want to see what it is like to do them with Bess. I see her just about every day and she isn’t sick of me, which I take as a good sign.

Look at Everything

Your world has always been a smeared, rained on sidewalk chalk landscape of floating, impressionistic faces, every tree a wad of green cotton caught in a thicket. One day they give you the glasses and you see a world once hidden, presumably everyone else’s world.

Your world has always been sliding planes of glass, a parallax trick of time where towers simultaneously crumble and rise. One day someone slides the paper under your tongue and the stars reveal their highways, all clocks chant the same moment.

Your world has always been a sandy beach spilling a silicon waterfall into the basin where the ocean used to be, a forest of dry wine glasses abrading in the constant thirsty wind. One day someone crests the hill and plunges a dowsing rod into your heart.

Your world has always been a rough sketch, hand drawn dreams from the nubs of sixteen Crayola crayons. One day someone gives you the 128 pack and you realize many of the colors are invisible if you are alone.

But you are not alone now.

Here’s to Trying New Things

Okay, I’m a little late with this post, but I have been delightfully preoccupied lately.

The other day I went to my girlfriend’s¬†Brazilian¬†Jiu-Jitsu class. Let’s pause and reflect on the layers of awesomeness in that sentence alone. It is like a delicious cake. Okay, let’s move on. Bess has been taking classes for a while and she speaks¬†enthusiastically¬†about how fun they are. Years ago I had taken Wushu, so I had some rudimentary martial arts experience. So when she invited me to come along, I agreed on the condition that she didn’t tie me into a pretzel, hold me above her head and throw me against the back wall. Bess assured me nothing of the kind would happen.

We showed up at the…dojo…gym? I’m not sure if there is a special term for where Jiu-Jitsu takes place. After signing a waiver and suiting up in a gi, I walked out onto the mat with Bess where a demonstration was already underway. I had hoped there would be some kind of intro for complete noobs, but they have you jump right in. Years ago, another version of me would have balked at the very idea of trying out what appeared to be a sport requiring much physical exertion. Also, I would have insisted on an in depth tutorial. But I was with Bess and I trust her and everything seems new again, so why not?

The first half of the class consisted of Bess and I taking turns subduing each other with the new move demonstrated by the instructor. Jiu-Jitsu is all about grappling and choke holds. You’re wrestling around on the ground 95% of the time. I hadn’t really expected that. I thought it might be about self-defense¬†counter moves¬†or something more like karate.

After rolling around for a while, we sat out and watched the second half of the class, which was about sparring. I remarked how everyone wore a disconcertingly impassive expression. Bess explained that each person was deep in thought, considering their next move, like participants in a chess match. There was no aggression or other intense emotions involved. No one wanted to hurt their sparring partner. I never really thought of it in that context. Bess joined in on the sparring. She held her own and looked like she knew what she was doing. I was really impressed!

Ultimately, I decided that Jiu-Jitsu wasn’t my thing, but I’m glad I tried it. It was more an exercise in being open to new things instead of deciding “I am this way” and missing out on opportunities to grow. Also, I want to spend as much time with this girl as possible.

Happy

I was losing hope that I might ever get to this day, but everything changed last week. Her name is Bess and she is wonderful. And beautiful, and clever, and passionate, and brave, and fun. My heart ignited when I met her and I always want to be with her. I’m glad I held out. I’m glad I was picky. I’m glad I followed my heart.

We are just at the beginning. The road winds ahead through hills and valleys unseen. I am ready.

Plus One

I just want everything in one place. I already use Google for nearly everything else: mail, calendar, news reader, phone, instant messaging, music, documents, etc. So I see that black menu bar at the top of my browser (Chrome, natch) all the time. It is really easy to check messages and notifications in Google+.

There are still a lot of ties to Facebook, though. So what I am considering is using Google+ as a space for connecting with my friends and channel everything else into Facebook and Twitter. Facebook can become a news feed for anything I’m interested in outside of my circle of friends. And since there is a handy Facebook plugin for Google+, there is no need to actually go to the Facebook site to see it.

At the end of the day, I don’t care about the Facebook or Google brand. I care about the data feed. I am interested in the curated Internet where the import and export of data is managed with as much granularity as I desire. I am interested in certain topics from certain sources and filtering out everything else.

For it to work, people have to actually *use* Google+. This may mean adopting new practices analogous to what is on Facebook. Events can be replaced with Google Calendar. +1-ing something will become easier when there are browser plugins for it along with Google Reader integration.

For something that is so new, Google+ is already pretty great. It will only get better as it gets more closely integrated with other Google services. I want social media to get to a place where it is effortless and ubiquitous. It just works without having to enter some partitioned mind space where we have to think “Okay, I am doing social media things now.”

Truth or Dare

As has become tradition, my friends and I get together on the weekend of July 4th for a cookout and summertime festivities. We usually end up sitting around with some drinks and playing board games. On the drive over, I was mulling the idea of bringing up a probing philosophical question and see if we could have a discussion instead. The question most recently on my mind had been “What is a baseline authentic Human experience?” Can we even know what a normal human existence should be like in today’s world? I just wanted to have a different sort of evening than usual. As it turned out, I didn’t even need to suggest it.

Later that night, after feasting on burgers and many beverages, someone proposed we play Truth or Dare. Now, we are all adults in this group, so this idea seemed at once silly and charming. After all, we were many years out of high school. While there were a few Dares executed to various degrees of success (we will most likely never speak of them again), we all tended towards Truth. We all asked and answered thoughtful, insightful questions about ourselves. New facets of my friends unfolded, sparkling. I was able to share a lot of things that just never came up during our debriefings of video games and TV shows.

I had had several discussions in the past few weeks about missing deep conversations and how they tend not to happen in certain groups of friends. So this was a very fulfilling evening, one where I got to talk about things that mattered to me with some of the people who matter the most. I think that recently I have begun to reverse my stance on compartmentalizing groups of people and having certain expectations about what is possible with them. A friend recently told me that if you engage people on a level you yourself wish to be engaged, you’ll find that people will meet you halfway.

So here’s to the surprise and delight that comes from expecting more from relationships.

Tree of Life

Tree of Life is a meditation on God, family, growing, the meaning of life, a lot of things. I’m not going to review the film or go into my specific impressions of it as it is something you need to experience for yourself. The film is primarily a series of evocative visual scenes with little dialogue, so it would be like me describing Guernica when you ought to just go look at the painting.

During the pre-show, they showed clips from Sagan’s “Pale Blue Dot.” One of his closing challenges was to examine the arrogance of claiming that the universe was created for humans or one particular religion or subgroup.

Asking “Is there a God?” is a very human-centric question that seems ridiculous in the context of a universe that is absolutely not human. Humanity comprises an incalculably tiny part of all existence. Why does it even make sense to ask such questions? We are part of something gigantic, not set above it.

From my point of view, belief or disbelief in God are both necessary. The impact of the belief in God is the equivalent of there being a God, just as the impact of disbelief in God is the equivalent of there being no God. The effects of these beliefs are real and measurable. The questions “Is there a God?” or “Is God real?” are irrelevant.

Out of Focus Much Too Bright

I remember when I was working on House of Whack I could just sit there and create graphics for ten hours at a time. And I didn’t feel it. Time just blew past. Lately I’ve been noticing that it is hard to stay focused on any one thing, be it a job at work, a personal project, video games, TV shows, whatever. Part of it is an energy thing. I’m tired and unmotivated much of the time. After sitting at a computer for eight hours at work, it is a tough sell to tell myself “Okay, now it is time to be creative! Let’s sit in front of the computer some more!”

Another part of it is I feel like I’ve got to get it all done, see it all, play it all, before…what? Before I die? Before I’m in a relationship? I don’t know. So, unconsciously, I was becoming very results oriented, wanting to get to the end as quickly as possible. I really need to relax and enjoy the process of whatever I’m doing.

I’ve been learning some new software so I can create illustrations of the characters for the Dune game. Learning digital tools is like learning new spells. I want to be able to summon the floating palace right away, but first I need to learn how to push little stone blocks around. My mind cracks open with the possibilities and then is daunted by all there is to learn. There’s already so much information in my head.

Ugh, even finishing this post is getting to be a struggle. Sleepy sleepy…

Judgement Day

I decided to make a sandwich while I was waiting for you. I know, I could have just bought one from one of the vendors lining the street. I’ve sampled their wares in the past and can attest to their tastiness. But I like to watch my hands build things. I like to choose the order in which to stack the various components. Now, I could have simply purchased the sandwich fixings at the supermarket and gotten on with my day. I had already been waiting a long time and I didn’t know when you’d be back. But still, I had been in so many arguments with people in the store about which bread is best that I thought I should bake my own. Yes, it took a long time, especially planting and harvesting the wheat. The dairy farm passed through several stages of disaster before it became viable. The tomatoes were easy. Always had good luck with tomatoes. I cannot fully describe the pleasure of seeing all those sandwich components spread out on the table around the blank plate. Maybe the sun gets a similar thrill, an intake of breath just before it crests the horizon, painting the world anew. I stacked that sandwich layer by layer, a secret combination to condense satisfaction into the smallest possible space. I know that were I to show the sandwich to the man on the street, he would nod in recognition at some layers, shrug at others, and wrinkle his face in disapproval at certain culinary choices. He’d never want a bite of it and he’d never hungered for it like I had.

They are still murmuring out there, checking their watches, comparing schedules. Thanks for taking your time. This sandwich is the best I’ll ever have.

Someone Should Be With Me Here

Sometimes I wake up in the middle of the night with a crippling muscle cramp chewing into my leg. I think, “I wish someone was here to help me. I wish someone could massage the pain out.” Or, pain aside, I want to reach out and find someone next to me in the darkness and not care about anything else that may have happened to the world while we slept.

Sometimes I cough so hard that it triggers my gag reflex and I throw up a little bit, but I wasn’t expecting it, so it sprays out over my hand in a dripping mess. I think “I’m glad there is no one else here to see this. Who would want to witness this horrible display? No one.” No one would tolerate how I choose to do my laundry or re-use my dishes or not shower until later.

Hunter S. Thompson spoke of knowing the “dead-end loneliness of a man who makes his own rules.” I’ve been alone for going on seven years now. In that time I have honed the skills needed to be on my own. Certain habits and practices are deeply ingrained. I know myself and what I want better than I ever have. It is like I started out as a simple puzzle piece with rounded edges, with many potential compatibilities. But then I found myself with years of introspection to while away and antsy hands that set themselves to whittling complex patterns along the edges of the piece.

Now no one fits. Or maybe only one fits. Or the ones that might fit aren’t interested in fitting.

I fall in love with rounded edges, my heart forgetting that I myself haven’t had them in quite some time.