Saturday, March 29, 2008

Omega Blog

Ah, what's become of blogging? Am I the only one left? The Omega Blogger?

Nick? Blogged only until he found a girl who would put up with him, promptly married her and has not left the bedroom since.

Lyco? Buried under public interest petitions and environmental regulations, too weak to reach the keyboard.

Hanah? In interests of reaching Supreme Court, seeks to reduce her paper trail (she's also been trying to have me killed, so far without success, for much the same reason).

Jay? Lost to the siren song of Flicker.

The era, alas, is ending. Soon I will be the only one left. Also, there will be some zombies involved.

My boss and I spoke today, as we do once a week. Do you still work here? he says. That's what my pay stub says, I say.

"You look very happy." Of course, my boss is pretty cheerful himself, so we get along. And the reason I look happy is because I always assume I'm being summoned to the office to be yelled at--I am never yelled at, not even that time I accidentally got the IT guy deported, and thus am always pleasantly surprised.

"Well," I say, "I moved up a notch on my belt today, hence the spring in my step. Wasn't even trying to lose weight."

This led to a long discussion of the ravages of age on the metabolism of the human machinery, ending with my: "And on that note, I'm off to the gym."

Ah, the gym workout. Some people rotate muscle groups by day, sticking to a firm schedule. I myself work whatever muscle is targeted by the the machine directly behind the cutest girl on the treadmill. This is known as romance.

Afterwards, my ten laps in the pool were somewhat less pathetic, even considering today was legs and shoulder day in the weight room, which I'm pretty sure are the only muscles involved in the unique stroke I liberally call front crawl. My legs essentially taffy at this point, I go jerking across the length of the pool like an epileptic trout. Ten times.

Then it's off to a party at Lyco's. I get lost, but I know she lives on R St. so I go up and down the length of that for a while. Eventually, I noticed I'm the only person doing so. There are bars on the windows. And hey, didn't Lyco get mugged in this neighborhood last year?

Luckily, I ran into a man who offered directions. Sure, he turns out to be an ex-convict who was released from a 12 year prison term 3 days ago, but I don't learn this until ten minutes later. Plus he's got a certain affable charm. I call up Lyco for directions, and he grabs the phone from me and asks for nearby landmarks.

Kurt a.k.a. "New York" escorts me to Lyco's. We speak of gentrification and the state of race relations in modern day America. He likes white people, he says. I like black people, I say. We both check out a passing brunette and mutter appreciatively. We're peas in a pod. He gets me where I'm going and I give him ten bucks.

Lyco is standing out on the street waiting for me. She's also apparently dispatched a search party.

Speaking of parties, I do very well at this one. There's a rough spot where I try to explain my idea for science fiction story heavily influenced by dualist philosophy involving a fish tank full of disembodied souls in an extra-dimensional pet shop. The seminary student I'm telling this to nods and feigns interest. I'm losing her. So I switch gears and talk about the time an ex-convict walked me to a party, which kills.


Hanah:
I miss Sasha

me: I miss Sasha too.

Hanah:
:(

me: Feels like I haven't heard a good pun in weeks.

Hanah: Please don't try the one about emery boards.

me:
That sounds a little rough.

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Pennywise

I took a swim today. First I hit the weight room. Now, because I have little foresight and also have a nasty streak of laziness which I'm sure I inherited from one of my parents, even though both get up at five A.M. and work the day through, I always forget to renew my Paxil prescription when I run out. The upshot is, there's a few days every few months, where SSRI-wise, I'm running on fumes. I break the pills into smaller and smaller doses to make 'em last, and eventually just run out. One time this happened when I was helping my friend Drew (ah Drew, I haven't returned your email even though it's on my mind, I'm such a dick) move to Bloomington. I told Drew.

He said: "You're not going to go crazy or anything, are you?"

"Nah," said I, "It's a subtler effect."

Later that night, I sneaked into Drew's room, clamped two slabs of bread around his left leg along with a toupee of lettuce and some mustard blots, and took a bite out of his calve. "Mmm, gastrocnemius sandwich!" I squealed, and that's how you get back at someone for calling you crazy.

The point is today, I was feeling a little dizzy. So I called a doctor, who couldn't help, then a pharmacy, who couldn't help, had the pharmacy call the doctor, presented my insurance card, and voilĂ : pills.

And part of the reason I hold off on the pills is because I'm curious just what will happen if I don't take them. It's been four years I've been on them, and without, of course there was the soul-gnawing depression, terminal mopeyness, and much more, but maybe there were some good parts of dysthymic me that I've forgotten. Manic-depressives always complain about their medication taking the colors out of their lives; perhaps I've lost something, too.

May well be, but I've got stuff to do, and I can't afford wild psychotropic flights of fancy. So I popped 40 mg and went to the gym.

Maybe it was the withdrawal, maybe it was the Billy Goat I had beforehand, but while I was in the weight room (though I did show marked improvement) I felt like I was going to vomit or pass out. Not that I mind--I like feelings like that, physical exertion, panting, lungs burning, cold sweat, hitting walls of your potential. That is the gnawing hint of being alive. It's a wonder, with a taste for altered states, I've never gotten into drugs. But drugs are one of those many things in life that strike me as interesting but not worth doing when I could be reading a good book.

Then I tried swimming. You wouldn't think swimming would be hard--hell, maybe it isn't--but after two laps, I've got to rest. I did ten laps, and I was dead. The last lap I was sucking in water (freestyle), caught in an illusion where I was treading water and getting no closer to the end. So... I've left room for improvement.

I finished Stephen King's It today, for the second time. My gut reaction is to put out lots of provisos, saying I know he doesn't write the best, and sometimes it is kind of pulpy, and sometimes overly obvious and sometimes repetitive--and that's all true, mind you--but damn, what a story. Probably my favorite book.

Someday, some cute, smart girl will ask me what my favorite book is, and I'll look deep in her eyes, and say without wavering The Unbearable Lightness of Being or Love in the Time of Cholera, because I'm genetically programmed to lie in the interests of procreation and to feel no remorse. But blog readers will know the truth.

Now, to quote an email I wrote today, to an old friend:

"So, summer after I graduated high school: by this time I'm in love with [her] (the way Ben loved Beverley, I swear it) and was very happy with this, even though she was dating someone else, I didn't care, because I loved the feeling. My family's on a trip out in Yellowstone and thereabouts, and I find a copy of King's Gerald's Game at one of the hotels we're staying at. This is also the trip I read Atlas Shrugged, Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone, Hearts in Atlantis (good book), and probably some others. I'm reading the King book, while everyone's eating lunch, and of course I'm enraptured and can't put it down. Then the novel gets to a very gruesome part--involves cutting one's hand and stripping away skin to get out of handcuffs. The simile that struck me was a comparison to a cooked piece of turkey and the skin being pulled off the drumstick.

"That does it for me. My body goes cold. My parents ask me if I'm all right, say my face is bleached white. I'm dizzy. They lead me out to the car so I can lie down. I wait until the feeling passes. Dr. Bauman, who's vacationing with us... diagnoses this immediately: I was going to faint. I don't, but I almost did. Later I finish the book--even go back over the same passage until I can read it without being upset.

"Isn't it amazing how much power that has! Here's something else amazing. Last night, I was reading It and I'm 8 years older, understand. I've seen blood--I was in a horrible car crash last year around this time and had a concussion that knocked me out. I get a little twinge when I have to give blood at the doctor's, or donate at the Red Cross, but I swallow that and make myself watch them stick the needle in--some deep-seated urge to be brave.

"Nonetheless, I arrive at the chapter of It when Patrick Hockstetter dies, attacked by a swarm of flying leaches. I remembered some details, how one stuck its proboscis through his eyelid, but I rediscover others, e.g. how one landed in his mouth and gorged until it burst. Incidentally, this whole passage is very finely written, I say with no reserve. Reading it, last night, I felt my body go cold again. I felt my hands--they're icy. And I started laughing, amazed at how much power was in the book. I was actually starting to faint again. This delighted me--delights me to think a bunch of words could do so much.

"I didn't faint this time either."

The email was to my high school English teacher, who I was very fond of. Still am.

Tonight, I was out walking, because the weather's turned warmed, and after a while decided to jog. There was a tin of Altoids in my pocket, so as I'm running through the Arlington streets, the parks, around the mall, I go by in the dark like a ghost with maracas, like a pissed-off rattlesnake. I run for longer than I expected, and instead of aiming for any goal, just enjoy the pain that starts creeping up my chest, the ache in my legs.

I also wrote David. Quote:

"Not a bad feeling. A good feeling--in a way. Definitely a big feeling. And my philosophy is, doesn't matter if the feeling's bad or good, so long as it's a big feeling--that's the important thing."

Listening to Mahler's 7th. The finale is spectacular. Now turned to my new reading quest: back in time through Hugo Award winning novels, starting with a Vinge book from 2007.

Night.

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Works Cited

He looked down at the book in his hand. Kipling. Damned jingoistic elevator music. But it's a start.

Vernor Vinge, Rainbows End

Sunday, March 23, 2008

Mysterianism

A wicked irony, that sometimes the unknown terrifies me. But shed some light, draw a map, and the unknown becomes the known. And when the known is terrifying? I turn back to what's unknown and pray that there's something good left in it. And something will always be unknown, so I can always pray. Pyrrhic victory, that.

We all have a degree of existential resilience. No reason why that I can see, but the smarter you are, the greater the immunity you need.