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who can i turn to

September 16, 2017

if you believe still
that England don’t love you
and she never will

  • Freelance has hit a bit of a lull lately; it’s been hard to figure out what to do with myself in my off-evenings (when I don’t go for a run). I should be putting the pieces together for the eventual launch of my full-time freelance endeavor, but a larger part of me wants some creative expression tonight. So here I am.
  • P and I ran errands late this afternoon. I decided it would be an “all U2” car ride. She particularly liked “Stay (Faraway, So Close).” This made me exceedingly happy.
  • I’ve started rewatching Cowboy Bebop. I want to live in that world, where interplanetary travel is so easy and effortless. I wish more people felt as strongly as I do that we need to get off this little blue-and-green rock. In that one respect, the technological curve can’t be vertical enough.
  • Speaking of interplanetary travel, a few weeks ago I watched Passengers. Contra all the negative reviews, I really enjoyed it. I didn’t feel like the action-filled third act detracted from the film, but flowed from and felt integral to the rest of the movie. It wasn’t a simple MacGuffin, in other words—and the situations encountered directly addressed some of the ethical questions raised earlier. The film’s director seems to have put forth as his main goal in making Passengers to get viewers to ask themselves whether or not we would have acted in the same manner as the protagonist, given his situation, but I think the film holds up on many other levels besides just that one. Well-acted, beautifully-shot, tightly-constructed and funny—recommended.

like christmas day without you

August 3, 2017

it’s cold and there’s nothing to do

Josh and Jonathan made good points on Tuesday when I (hesitantly) shared with them D’s and my long-term desire to move to the mountains: For spouses, and even kids, to be so completely in sync about a move is a rare enough thing that it’s not situation to be dismissed out of hand. D and I have so little in common on a superficial level—i.e. things that aren’t theology or philosophy or politics and are easy to talk about and get excited over—that a move may be a very real way to foster closeness. As reasons to move go, that’s a pretty good one, especially on top of all the other intrinsic mountain qualities pulling us that direction.

Speaking of the mountains, the frequency with which my parents visit the area is amazing to me, especially considering it’s a 5.5-hour drive for them from Chapel Hill. Needless to say, I don’t think either of them are really dragging their feet when the other decides another trip is a good idea. I find it hard to imagine they won’t be moving there long-term, or at least buying property in the area and spending a good chunk of the year there. Makes me happy to think about that possibility.

bicycle spokes

July 31, 2017

And…we’re back. From Hayesville. Returned yesterday afternoon, and today feels like the day after Christmas. Both D and I miss it very much. It’s a transcendently beautiful place, and this weekend showcased it like no other. It was the perfect mountain summer weekend—mild, sunny and breezy. We went out on the lake Saturday afternoon in a rented pontoon boat and splashed around various islands and peninsulas. Saturday evening, we ate on a picnic table in the carport as the evening breeze blew through. I brought my little portable record player outside and put on some music, and we regaled ourselves with some grilled steak and barbeque chicken. It was absolutely wonderful.

We want to move there as soon as possible—but so many pieces have to fall into place for that to happen. One day, hopefully.

an old friend calls and tells us where to meet

July 27, 2017

I discovered another one. Another perfect synthesis of image and music, that is.

The first was detailed in this post:

Mono, “Life In Mono” — To date the strongest synthesis I’ve found between a song and a visual image. It was between this song and the first teaser trailer to the 1997 movie Great Expectations. You won’t find the teaser any more anywhere–I’ve looked–only the full-length, inferior trailer remains with a different accompaniment. But if you hear this song and think of muted red and green, symmetrical, baroque icons and elaborate shapes rotating deliberately on a black background intercut with the more passionate moments from the film, you’ll be on the right track. Beautiful, delicate, enchanting.

So yesterday evening on the way to the gym, I plumbed Primitive Radio Gods’ “Standing Outside A Broken Phone Booth With Money In My Hand” through the iPod onto the stereo, and whilst listening, the image of Velázquez’s painting Las Meninas came into my head:

I wish I could describe how the song and the painting fit together, but at this point it’s a gut-level thing. It’s powerful, but the reasons aren’t fully-formed yet.


July 25, 2017

Best names in science fiction, in no particular order:

Arkady Darell
Princess Irulan
Spike Spiegel
Han Solo
Khan Noonian Singh

* * * * * *

Thinking about flying out to SF to meet with the folks I do a lot of freelance for. A round-trip ticket from ATL to SF is surprisingly inexpensive. I could probably do the trip for $600 or less, including hotel and car rental, if I’m frugal. I think D needs a break first, though, before I start to consider a trip in earnest. I’d obviously contact them first to arrange a time for a visit, and there’s always the off-chance they’ll offer to pay for some or all of the trip. Would love, love, love to work for them full-time. The flexibility that would afford me would be immense, in spite of the reassignment of freelance as day-job work. To be able to work from home, to be able to live wherever we want as long as I have a stable electronic platform and a good internet connection… I have all the tools I need, it’s just a matter of putting the remaining pieces in place and taking the leap. Maybe in the next year or so?

chez quelqu’un

July 24, 2017

I’m just ready. I’m ready to be where we’re going to be. Especially as I read over old entries and ruminate on the fact that I wrote them 10+ years ago, I’m overwhelmed with the desire to get off the merry-go-round before I’ve been on it another 10 years without realizing. I don’t feel particularly old, but the numbers don’t lie, and as thinking about my memories in 10-year blocks becomes the norm, a sense of mild panic sets in that I’m not in a sustainable place—whatever that means.

All I know is that I’m not meant to be here long-term. When will it stop? If I’m honest, I’ve been restless my whole life—hence the reference to the Platonic ideal of “Home” a few posts down and the desire to attain that being such a driving force. I’m ready to be Home. Help me to be patient.


July 23, 2017

Can’t wait to visit Hayesville again next Friday. My dad’s rented a pontoon boat, so we’ll go out on the lake for a bit. L’s excited about stargazing from the top of the dam, and both the kids want to play on the tire swing and go the creek. I love it, especially on summer days like these when the heat and humidity is crushingly oppressive and I long to someplace just a little cooler and drier.

D and I are pretty serious in our desire to move there, or at least somewhere like there, at some point in the future. Doing so would require me to either freelance full-time, or land a job that allows me to work remotely—the opportunities that would support the fam just aren’t in that area. To that end, I’ve been slowly moving pieces into place to hopefully be able to make the transition in the next year or two. It’s going to take a substantial financial head of steam; that much is given. But the lifestyle shift would be worth it a million times over.

succumb to your youth

June 12, 2017

lost in our mood
afraid to feel truth

As I tumble gracelessly into the blanket of middle age, I’m beginning to be able to visualize more how my kids will manifest themselves as adults. More than glorified parental appendages, they’ve both developed fully-formed personalities at this point, and are both a real delight to talk to and spend time around.

We’re back in NC for half a walk visiting D’s folks, and we made the required pilgrimage to Arigato for some Japanese food, and my overwhelming impression was just one of delight in my kids. L was across the table in between two of his cousins, narrating the food preparation with a quasi-play-by-play, and P was cozied between D and myself, completely and utterly safe and content. I think the latter feeling rubbed off a bit; it’s difficult to remember a time when that particular part of my mind was more at ease. That isn’t to say all of me was; there was a large part that was still “on,” as it were, but a crucial little nugget was content. For a spell.

whiskey neat

May 20, 2017

I feel like all my creative energy has been ground out of me. Crushed away. I had time pressure before, but I seem to remember being able to make time to just sit and…the words came. Even if I had to jot down a topic on a scrap of register tape, I’d return home and more often than not I’d be able to recall the nuances of whatever it was I wanted to share or discuss. Now, on the off-chance a matter pops into my head, it’s utterly gone by the time I sit down and place my fingers on the keys. I hope I’m just out of practice and simply doing it more will help.

I really should be in bed, though. The day starts on the dot, though granted even that is better than it used to be.

The two places I’ve discovered that feel like home to me are France and Hayesville. I haven’t found anywhere else where the convergence of innumerable factors meshes with my subconscious in a way those two places do. I’ve shared this with Diane. I think one thing we do have in common is a restless quest to return home, wherever that is for us, respectively. Even if our ideas of home are wildly divergent, at least we can relate on an emotional level to the feeling of displacement. I suppose there’s some comfort in that.


May 16, 2017

  • Penelope loves Aphex Twin. She’s dug every song I’ve played for her so far off The Richard D. James Album. I want to broaden the horizons of her musical appreciation beyond avant-garde electronica, but I’m not sure the point of entry to any other genre. Will probably just keeping playing other stuff for her and see what sticks.
  • Luke’s astronomy interest has flared up again (I sound like I’m talking about a rash, haha). He’s mentioned wanting to stargaze next time we visit Hayesville. There’s a great spot on top of the dam. I miss it very much and want to go back soon. Maybe when my parents return from Europe and we’re on the other side of our NC visit in June we can discuss another mountain trip.

concrete and clay

May 15, 2017

Why would I be surprised that things don’t change?

I remember being in southern France back in ’04 with Aaron and Donald, and although some things had changed—new stores, parking lots, buildings, altered roads—I still knew the area like the back of my hand. And I loved it. I was buoyed by the thrill of rediscovering familiar paths, and the largest part of the emotion was the quasi-surprise derived from the fact that area had changed so little that finding my way around was no challenge.

I think because my life had changed so much in the ten-year span since my family lived there, I expected the area to change in lockstep with my own evolution. How it would have changed, I had no clue—it just would have felt more natural for it to have altered in some way. Don’t misunderstand—I love that the area remained the same; the surprise was entirely subconscious. All I knew at the time was that I was back home.

The environment I was living in didn’t help. The pace of development in RTP was—and is—so breakneck that it far outpaced what I was comfortable with. Call it mapping one’s emotional state onto an area: It happens, and the areas we love best change as much or as little as we want them to, in the ways we want them to.


May 14, 2017

  • I really should be in bed. There’s a soft, gray, nearly 1-year-old kitten in my lap, though, that makes it hard to get up. He’s sliding off; hang on… OK; now we’re good.
  • Well, the Mac Mini arrived yesterday, and…it won’t work. Despite the fact that the eBay listing clearly stated the computer would come with 10.5 preinstalled, it had 10.7, which is too new to run FormZ. I really should upgrade to the latest version of the software at some point, but that’s over a grand for the package I need, and the version I have does everything I need it to—except run on the latest Mac OS. Hopefully the eBay conflict resolution service will come through for me.
  • Diane and I have been trying to make it through the LOTR Extended Edition again, but we’ve stalled out in Lothlórien. I suppose there are worse places to be stuck.
  • Pen and I discovered a cardinal’s nest earlier in the evening. We were jumping on the trampoline in the backyard when we heard a mother cardinal doing her angry chirp. A little investigation and we found a low-hanging nest with a chick and two eggs in it. Phoebe was nearby, but fortunately she wasn’t aware of the nest.
  • I’ve been playing Escape Velocity: Nova in fits and starts. It’s nice but not quite as engrossing as its predecessor (EV:Override) that I used to play during my junior year of college. I got into it, but Mark (my roommate at the time) didn’t dig it quite as much. I can’t remember whether that was during my straight-A semester or not. I think it was. Wish I had had that balance of focus and enjoyment all throughout college. So, so much time wasted in so many ways. I’m still so ashamed when I think about it.
  • I want to freelance full-time. I’m tired of the 9-to-5 (aren’t we all?). Too risky, though, at this point in our family life. Maybe later.

foreign fields

May 12, 2017

New Mac Mini’s coming tomorrow. Since the old one’s HD died, I haven’t been able to slave it to the iMac and run FormZ, so I’ve had to do all my freelance and after-hours CAD work on the MacBook. That’s really clunky since my copies of Photoshop and Illustrator are on the iMac, so there’s been a lot of back and forth, switching keyboards and mice, etc etc. Look forward to having everything in one place again, so to speak.

I really miss the old LJ group. We had a good crew, and a good thing going for quite some time. Disappointed that so many folks, including myself from time to time, have gravitated toward outlets like FB and Twitter. I know a big part of LJ’s appeal was the social aspect, but to me, the larger part was the journaling aspect, the writing.

I’ve been enjoying Kacy Hill’s music quite a bit lately.

this is it

May 8, 2017

My favorite:


star flight

When I was 14 years old, I was very interested in business jets. My favorite at the time was the British Aerospace BAe 1000, an intercontinental development of the smaller BAe 800, and before it the H.S. 125. I sent a letter to British Aerospace asking for information, and they replied with a package of glossy brochures and fact sheets (they’re still at my parents’ house somewhere). On one page of the brochure was an ad for the aircraft, a single page image of the plane flying at night with the cabin lights visible through the darkness. I don’t remember the copy; just the visual. It made an impression on me. I imagined myself at the helm of the plane, flying over the Atlantic at night, in command of that multi-million piece of hardware and the lives of the passengers in my capable hands. I didn’t have many “hero moments” as a kid, but that was one of them.

I still think about that image every time I see the lights of an airliner blinking overhead in the darkness, and I feel a twinge of what I felt then when I drive my family through the night on a long road trip. It resonates.


April 26, 2017

Never gets old:

satellite flyers

April 19, 2017

Happy new year?

I drive Penelope to school most mornings, and we listen to music on the way. The drive only lasts around 8 minutes, so we only have time for a song and a half. I’ve made a series of “New Music” cds (haven’t gotten an AUX input installed yet for the BMW) and we’ve been listening to random songs on those.

She asked me the other day what my favorite song was. I honestly couldn’t say. I made a compilation cd of “Daddy’s Favorites” in response, but couldn’t pick one in particular. Angie Aparo’s “Spaceship” is on the cd. I get lost in the menacing surreality of its lyrics—it reads exactly like a dream with its emphasis on random objects and their jumbled juxtaposition next to verbs that describe longing, or other strong emotions.

One song I didn’t include, and probably won’t even though it’s one of my favorite, is Dar Williams’ “Iowa (Traveling III).” I struggle to explain how that song affects me every time I listen to it. In my mind, the lyrics alternately originate from the wife, then the husband, from the man, then the woman in a kind of dialogue that makes sense in my mind but that I would have difficulty describing. I think what gets me about it is that it touches on the contradictions in our long-term relationships that mushroom as the years go by. It’s another form of the “can’t stand you but need you” lyrical trope, but one that holds particular weight with me.

quite a catch

July 14, 2016

Loving the Pet Shop Boys’ newest album, Super.

Turns out Luke likely has some form of diabetes. Diagnosed last week. D made dietary changes and he’s doing fine, praise God. To say that we’re feeling overwhelmed is an understatement. Would like a success story. Every new and existing thing in our lives seems like it follows the same trajectory from bad to worse and we’re just hanging on by the skin of our teeth.

We had another epic meltdown last night. In fairness, he was hit with a few disappointing events, but his inability to control his anger or process his disappointment is so integral to his personality that it feels like things will never change. The Lord can do anything, but…just another area where it feels like we’ve gone ages—years—without any sustained, measurable improvement. I’m 37. Is this how it is indefinitely?

I’ve been running on fumes the past couple of weeks. No time for existential or nostalgic reflection.

Happy Bastille Day, by the way.

into the morn

June 30, 2016

Iona’s “Everything Changes” took me back to our trip out west in 1996. I miss that little Walkman and the case of tapes I took along. There were only a dozen or so slots, so I had to select my traveling music very carefully. The album wasn’t that great overall, but “Everything Changes” stood out for its slightly more industrial, electronic feel. The hotel in Jackson Hole had orange curtains and high ceilings and felt like something out of Jackie Brown. I don’t remember what I was reading then. The wheels of our eventual breakup were turning 1,500 miles away, unbeknownst to me. I was immersed in blue skies, clear air, idealistic pinings and long, long car rides.

I knew I wasn’t secure. I told myself I should buy something for her during the trip. I wanted to, but the thought that it’s something I should do—a sense of duty, almost—weighed on me more heavily. It was almost the idea that “This is what you do in a relationship,” and I went through the motions. Odd, though, because I did want to; it was a bizarre combination of obligation and effortlessness. I was confident; I didn’t feel like an imposter, a fraud, but I think I had a kind of subconscious awareness of the ephemeral quality of it, like it could be snatched away from me at any moment at the same time my conscious mind very much believed, if not that it would last forever, that at least it was open-ended. That probably stemmed from the quasi-unintentional way it started, how I backed myself into it and then slowly came to realize what an absolute treasure had fallen into my lap. It’s ironic that it was that lack of self-consciousness that fostered the attraction in the first place, and as my affection and insecurity increased in lockstep, the demeanor I first showed her withered away. And there was nothing I could do about it.

yesterday, today, forever the same
you are

you don’t care a bit

June 29, 2016

the dust has only just begun to form
crop circles in the carpet

Back in a different life I used to work at GNC. While on a shift, when things were especially slow (or even when they weren’t and I could sneak a spare second), I jotted down journal entry ideas or poetry fragments on bits of register tape. I need to do that again—not with register tape, mind you, but on any of the assorted stacks of blank post-its I have here in my cube.

I’m frustrated with and disappointed that as much as I told myself otherwise, it appears that a huge source of motivation for me to write, back when I did write frequently, was the attention of an audience. It takes the roof off a bit, metaphorically speaking, forcing me to admit to myself that maybe my online persona didn’t completely match my real-life one. As soon as I say that, though, the retort is that I didn’t write or discuss anything that was ever contrary to the way I really felt or thought. So it wasn’t a qualitative difference so much as a quantitative one. The quality is still there, albeit somewhat atrophied from lack of exercise, but I don’t believe it’s anything that can’t be resuscitated (triple negative?).

So, status check:

  • 37, still 6’4″, still have red hair (with a bit of gray now), still have the same rectangular glasses Leslie helped me pick out in Durham in early 2004.
  • Diane and I will celebrate our 10th wedding anniversary this November.
  • Luke is 12; Penelope is 8.
  • Still out here in Chattanooga.

Those are the all-unimportant (for the purposes of this journal) facts. Hopefully the daily anecdotes will serve as springboards for the recording of the internal dialogue. Which is how it ever was.

blood and tears
they were here first