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pembroke & cardigan

October 25, 2023

I am SO glad that the peak of my journaling activity coincided with my flight training at Sugar Valley. I reread the entries and vividly remember every sensation, every little victory and setback, takeoff and landing. That was worthy of being recorded, such as it was.

P and I watched 86 together a few weeks ago. She loved it, and I had forgotten what a great show it is. There were definitely details that came out in the rewatch, and increased my appreciation for the animators’ and screenwriters’ craft. I told her that she’s welcome to borrow my account info if she wanted to rewatch any meaningful scenes, but she’s declined so far, a posture I don’t really understand. My desire to rewatch is THE key measure of how much I’ve enjoyed a particular show, and there are scenes in 86 that I’ve worn out, I’ve seen them so many times. Actually—that’s not strictly true; they still maintain their emotional impact for the most part, but it’s definitely a sign that the show has hooked me to the point where I’m invested in the characters and what happens to them.

How can a day be gray and clear at the same time? Many of those lately. I’ll be 45 soon. The years are rhythmically clicking by. And yet, rereading my journal, there’s a clear line of connection between then and now. I’m still very much the same person. That continuity offers a grain of reassurance as life circumstances change and swirl around me.

someday these wings will perish in your sight

October 13, 2023

Rereading more journal entries… I’ve decided summer 2004 was the Season of Peak Possibility, the axis around which my life turns, before and after. I had a stable job at UNC. I had just returned from an exhilarating trip to France. I still had the Supra. No romantic attachments. My writing had matured to the point where it better conveyed what I was thinking and feeling. I hadn’t committed to PBC yet. I was beginning to study systematic theology with Aaron, and was dipping my toe into what would eventually become a treasured friend group. Yep; pretty sure it was never as good as it was then, at least from the array of options laid out before me.

Do I miss it? Absolutely. But in thinking about my situation now relative to then, I can’t decide whether I’m more resentful over the loss of possibilities in general that accompanies a decision, or of the outworking of the decision I did make. The grass IS always greener, but I still can’t help but wonder how those parallel-universe versions of me are making out.

it’s mighty quiet here now that you’re gone

October 6, 2023

i’ve been behaving myself for too long

In the process of rereading my whole journal, from the very beginning, such as it is. It’s funny; something possessed me to look up Everything but the Girl yesterday, and I discovered they had released their first album of new material in 24 years this past spring. I guess there’s hope for me yet if creators can take that long of a hiatus between updates and pick up where they left off.

Still, Tracey’s voice sounded very different. They’re in their 60s now, which is wild to think about. A lot of life happens in 24 years, and I could hear it in her voice. Just as nuanced as it had always been, but with a tinge of age to it. Not as clean and pure. Different. Just different.

Reading back on my journal entries, as much as I’d like to think it’s autobiographical to the degree that anyone could read and piece together some kind of coherent narrative of those years of my life, I know that’s untrue. My mind works overtime as I read my own words, remembering people, places, situations, feelings and filling in all the (substantial) gaps. I wonder what impression it would all leave on someone coming in cold? I suppose it would be similar to the type of impression I left on my journal followers at the time, at least the ones who didn’t know me in person, but just through my written words on the screen.

It’s an understatement to say I miss those times, but I read about my antics and think about all the time I wasted, and still waste every day. I read my work-related comments and remember that I didn’t even have a work ethic to speak of until ImageWorks in Winston-Salem in early 2007. So much (all?) of what I complained about was my own fault, but I just treated others’ crises and frustrations as normal, or par for the course, or something. I was (and am) so immature. I wonder when, or if, it gets better?

Oh, and with only a few noteworthy exceptions, my poetry really sucked.

heaven is a home you never have to leave

June 13, 2022

There’s a sense of quiet desperation that pervades the last evening but one before we return to the US.

We’ve been in Vence for the past three and a half weeks. It was originally scheduled to be just two, but then members of our party successively came down with COVID and we had to extend our stay. Fortunately, my parents had rented the second house for another week, and the owners let us stay another half week beyond that.

It’s been a story of achingly beautiful scenes interspersed with moments of hands-up overload. But now everyone is well, and I feel the old familiar, visceral need to throw my arms around the stone walls, the immaculately-trimmed hedgerows, the sea and sky in one view and the history of this place. My favorite times have been nightly walks with Luke, watching the light fade behind the four old baous in a row, sentinels that will watch over this place long after I’m gone.

I want to bottle the breeze I felt on a warm day in Coursegoules. I parked the car and Diane and I leaned against the concrete wall, looking out over the valley and spying the little windsock on the bleak ridge behind. We watched the cloud shadows play over the little green fields and villas, shielded from the coast by the first wave of the pre-Alps.

It’s subtly different than last time, but there are broad similarities. There are things I’m genuinely looking forward to returning to, like our house, animals, projects and the general ease of everything. Last time, I had very little of that. But there’s still a generous feeling of displacement that’s building, even now.

More than anything, the whole process, as it repeats, reinforces a feeling of mortality. These times end. They slip through my fingers over and over again and I don’t know how to get HERE from THERE. That’s the paradox: Back when I was more flexible, I didn’t have the work ethic to apply myself and figure things out, and now that I do, my flexibility is severely constrained. As soon as I say that, though, I’m reminded that when I set my mind to it, even then, I could make things happen, so perhaps it was something else.

Regardless, that time is gone, this one is soon to be, and my time will be up as well, sooner than I think. What will I make of it? What will WE make of it? God and His Word are the only things I’m sure of, and I need that fact to be more than cold comfort as the core ache of another departure looms.


July 29, 2020

I keep thinking that if we hadn’t moved, maybe he’d still be alive. Midwestern is just as busy as Brook Hill, but it was slightly farther away, outside his normal territory (even though I’d see him venture that far before).

Our beloved Benjen was hit and killed by a car today. A good samaritan found him in the road, moved him to the side, got his collar and found us. I took his little body to the vet where they confirmed what we already suspected.

He was my favorite cat ever. Here’s a list of some of the things I will miss about him:

  • He loved tummy rubs. When he was in the mood, he would roll over in my lap and look up at me expectantly. I rubbed his belly and he would nestle his head in the crook of my arm. If I stopped, he would reach up toward me with his paw for me to resume the rubbing. I thought it was a kitten thing and he would grow out of it, but he never did.
  • He would always ask politely to be let outside, usually with just a glance or a meow or a little nibble to my legs if I didn’t respond quickly enough.
  • He LOVED to be outside. Whenever I’d meet him outdoors, he’d flop down anywhere and everywhere for a tummy rub.
  • He had the sweetest disposition. He got along with all our other cats, and they all had issues with each other. But not Benjen. He was so easygoing and unflappable.
  • I loved the “mask” around his eyes and his coloration. The dark tabby areas and the rest of him white.
  • He slept on top of me almost every night. I laid down and pulled the blanket over me and 9 times out of 10 he was there before I’d even had a chance to settle in.
  • He would let me pick him up and hold him with both his front paws on my right shoulder. He didn’t like being picked up generally, but he let me do it and purred more often than not.

I just want this day to end. I don’t want to think anymore that less than 12 hours ago I petted him after he had a quick snack downstairs. And that he was the first creature I said “Good morning” to when I got up. We’re devastated.

andes chucky

May 1, 2019

Boy I loved Shirobako. I don’t know that I’ve watched another show, anime or not, that’s done such a great job of not only giving every character of a very large ensemble a fleshed-out feel and unique personality, but has also made every character sympathetic in some way, even the ones I initially disliked or misunderstood.

As mentioned on my Twitter feed, it’s a must-watch for anyone who works in a creative field, as I do. The daily struggles, especially the challenge of having to be creative on demand despite the lack of inspiration, are very real.

It’s put together with a lot of care and is obviously a kind of love letter to the anime industry, with a lot of inside jokes and nods to things only those directly involved in anime production would know about. The animation is consistently strong throughout and the music is perfect. If I had one nit to pick, it’d be a wish for more differentiation between the main characters’ designs. The primary way to distinguish between the 5 of them is their hair color and style, and I kind of hoped they’d be more distinctive beyond that appearance-wise. At least the template, such as it is, is appealing. Highly recommended show. Episode 23 stands as one of my all-time favorites.

il se heurte contre la vie

July 24, 2018

Paris, tu me manques… Des bons souvenirs de notre voyage de l’annee 2000.


April 2, 2018

  1. Well, I relented on watching SAO with P. Sure, it has some borderline-objectionable content, but nothing worse than your average primetime sitcom, and I’ve been staying an episode or two ahead of our joint viewing, so I can skip or fast-forward scenes that cross the line. It’s tough to find time to sit and watch it together, though.
  2. I dreamed last night that I moved to Japan. I was staying with at my friend Jeff’s, who lived in a kind of one-story duplex in the heart of downtown Tokyo. He had a carport that held a vintage pace car Mustang and a late-model Dodge Challenger. The house was built in the ’60s and the interior decor had that flavor. I had forgotten all my clothes in the move, didn’t know a lick of Japanese and had absolutely no job prospects.
  3. I’m glad I can still dream, and remember my dreams. I don’t know that I ever envisioned a day when I wouldn’t be able to, but it give me a sense of satisfaction just the same to know that I still can. It feels like a kind of mental barometer; as I age, as long as I can still recall my dreams, I’ll know my mind is in a good place.

no particular place names

March 26, 2018

no particular song
i’ve been hiding
what am i hiding from

  1. I’ve been getting into anime lately. I watched (and re-watched) and greatly enjoyed Kimi No Na Wa (Your Name), a 2016 Japanese blockbuster by Makoto Shinkai. His Garden of Words was nice also—if a bit short. I watched The Girl Who Leapt Through Time and have started on Sword Art Online. I wanted to watch the latter with P—and we even made through a few episodes, which she liked—but the later content in the series veers a little too adult for her. Maybe when she’s in her mid-teens. It’s a bummer because it’s a quality show otherwise, and she was into it. Some other series and films on my to-watch list include Wolf Children, Voices of a Distant Star, 5 Centimeters Per Second and Steins:Gate.
  2. We accepted an offer on the NC house last week. Buyers’ inspection on Thursday. Hoping everything is OK and that the process keeps moving forward.
  3. Our Corgi puppy, Olive, is growing up. She was sick last night and threw up all over the kitchen. That was fun to clean up. She’s a sweetheart, though, and still a puppy so it’s hard to stay frustrated with her for too long.

when winter came

January 8, 2018

They pressed the petals of their ambitions
next to any heat source they could find.
Not knowing where a blade of hope would be stymied,
it came to a head—finally.
The craft became so large in his field of vision,
it would have usurped a fleeting glance;
fortunately, at that moment several large figures began to descend.
Only wanting to be tethered to a salt flat
and the shape of her mirage,
he opens the door.
Its outlay might wince in translation from the norm,
but only if another figure stepped in.
“It depends,” she says, “on whether you would allow process
to unbind me.” I always saw my life as one unbroken
plain of residual consciousness.
If I had known how severely the Three would wince
at his approach, perhaps the unfurled darkness would
have chosen to amend its stay upon the dais.
As an exercise, it was almost finished by
a gap between the open beams. That said—
and she knew a positive organ after a while—
innumerable silver fellows posited
a return to the rain. I wished for a world where
crosses were silent,
to live and extinguish in a moment.

young legends die all the time

January 3, 2018

but i don’t mind, don’t close your eyes
don’t say goodbye, i’ll be unkind
don’t do it, don’t do it

  • Happy new year. Expect much more activity in here in 2018. One of my new year’s resolutions is to get back onto the blogging kick.
  • Spent Friday morning through Sunday evening in NC, working on the rental properly. My parents came out on Saturday and were incredibly helpful, cleaning, fixing, conversing… It was wonderful to have them there, and I got to meet their new puppy, Barnabas, who is…puppyish, with the energy level that entails. The house is finally ready to be put on the market. The downstairs ceiling could stand another coat of white paint, and the door frames might could do with a little more touching up, but overall the house is move-in ready. Turnkey for a new family. I took around 90 photos Sunday morning, and reviewing them, it’s tough not to feel sad given our attachment to that little house.
  • We’ll be picking up our new little corgi, Olive, in a couple of weeks. It’s going to be interesting to see how she handles the presence of 5 cats in the house, and how they handle her.
  • This is one of the best fan-made music videos I’ve ever seen. The coordination between the music and the visuals is epic:

i know your stairs and your doorway

December 27, 2017

I’ve got some definite gray around my temples now. I’ll be 39 in less than a month. Sobering, but my uneasiness about it comes and goes. It helps that I don’t think I feel my age. I still run twice a week and hit the gym 3 times (over lunch MWF), and I eat well (D’s wonderful cooking helps in that department). If I feel tired, it’s because of the hours I keep, or some combination of stressors unconnected with my physical health, thank goodness. I know all of that can change in an instant, but smooth sailing for now.

I’ve let myself dwell on the concept of mortality more over the past couple of years than I likely have in all my years prior. My last living grandparent—my mom’s mother—finally passed away at the beginning of the year at age 95, and those events always invite a protracted amount of reflection on the scope of this phase of our existence here on earth. Between that and an opportunity to see family we haven’t talked to in years, funerals are good that way. It’s time to wise up to the fact that we’re not invincible like we were in our teens and 20s and really ground our belief, or lack thereof, in the afterlife and what it means for the way we live now. To put it more crudely, staring at a dead body in a coffin throws the flaws in our worldview into sharp relief. Does it dispel all doubt? Absolutely not—that’s something I wrestle with more than ever—but at the very least it should propel our minds into places we so easily distract it from in our day-to-day.


December 25, 2017

For the second year in a row it’s been a low-key Christmas. Part of it has to do with the fact that we chose to remain here at home in Tennessee rather than to travel back to NC. Among other things, the kids scored a ton of Harry Potter paraphernalia. HP actually made things like stocking-stuffers really easy, given how much merchandise is readily available. Not a lot of head-scratching involved.

My parents got me a $50 Home Depot gift card that will be put to good use this coming weekend during the work trip to NC and some nice clothes. I received a pair of giant Reese’s PB cups and a Fossil watch from D. I’ve never been a watch-wearer, but she and I both agree it’s time (pun intended) to add a tasteful watch to my wardrobe.

The day rolls on and the light falls outside. I had meant to put the smoke tester on the BMW today to check for any additional vacuum leaks before the 350-mile trip on Friday, but I’m not going to worry about it. It survived the trip with only an occasional running hiccup last time, and I know for a fact I was driving with a leak from the DISA valve seal—which has now been repaired. Here it is after a bath on Saturday:

2002 BMW 330i 330 E46 Orient Blue

the spice of life

December 24, 2017

The cats behind me in the living room are in fine form, alternately chasing each other around and wrestling. As long as they don’t bother the pile of presents circumscribing the tree, they’re OK.

The only time I was ever told I was a good dancer was at a wedding reception in downtown Raleigh sometime in mid-2005, just before I moved to Winston-Salem. I had had quite a lot of champagne, and probably shouldn’t have driven back to Chapel Hill after the event… But as far as the dancing is concerned, I think I must’ve just gotten lucky; I can’t imagine what I did that might have provoked that compliment from Heather, my date. Whatever the case, my momentary skill certainly wasn’t connected to any amount of practice, since I hadn’t been to a club (and still, to this day, haven’t—don’t ask me how I made it through my 20s without experiencing that). At Mark’s wedding a couple of years prior, I remember talking with Michael, his best man, during a long drive about the psychology of dancing, and I probably exasperated him with my overanalysis. His perspective on it was that it was a matter of being confident, but that didn’t help; it seemed—and still seems—like something of a catch-22: How am I supposed to be confident at something I’m not good at? And how can I become good at something that no one wants to do with me before I acquire that confidence? The answer, I think, is that like with so many other things, some folks stumble upon the answer, and the rest are left to grope in the dark or avoid the activity entirely. The richer become richer, and the poor…well, you know the rest.

The only time I’ve lost sleep over it, in a manner of speaking, was during our trip to France in 2004, when the rest of the group wanted to go clubbing in Paris as an alternative to my stick-in-the-mud leading of everyone around the more tourist-y attractions of the city. That’s when my insecurity reared its ugly head and I had a mini-meltdown here in my journal. Other than that…the activity exists on the very fringes of my experience, and I’m fine with that.

the snow turned into rain

December 23, 2017

  • Current favorite song: EBTG, “Tender Blue.” The intro tips its hat to the Flamingos’ version of “I Only Have Eyes for You.” It’s a nice touch.
  • As a kid, I observed the adults around me and remember feeling there was a great gulf between childhood and adulthood, and not understanding how exactly one would get there from here. Grown-ups were fundamentally different people than kids in some qualitative way. Looking back on it now, it’s been one long continuous process of learning little things a few at a time. There was no abrupt switch or crossover point, and we remain the same people we’ve always been.
  • Washed both cars today, the last day I’d have been able to do it before the weather gets significantly colder (tomorrow’s high is only 49°, in contrast to 67° today). Used the rubbing compound to get a bit of parking lot rash out of the Mazda’s bodywork. And although I’ve resigned myself to the fact that it’s a losing battle trying to keep the cats off the BMW in the garage, I’m going to try—I put up the hood and trunklid as soon as I moved it inside. Need to put the smoke machine on it tomorrow so I can see if there’s anything I need to order next week before the next—and hopefully last—work trip back to NC next weekend.
  • Working my way through Neon Genesis Evangelion (the original series) at the moment. Far too adult to share with P, but it’s interesting to me. Not as “grounded” as Cowboy Bebop, but thought-provoking in different ways. Very syncretistic.

i won’t try to stop you

December 22, 2017

when you speak of the past
doubt is over now and i can join in when you laugh
fascination makes us ask for more than we like to know
i needn’t explain, i think you know

A bit of freelance after a good run (the first is a couple of weeks, actually) + Clif bar + provolone slices + EBTG’s Acoustic = A nice way to end the day. The live version of “Fascination” to close out the album is a real showstopper. I desperately wish they were still making music, but after being so prolific throughout the ’80s and ’90s, I suppose they’ve earned a respite.

I have GOT to upgrade my equipment at some point in the near future. My iMac is nearly 10 years old, my MacBook older still (the latter necessary because it’s the only bit of hardware that will still run my copy of FormZ, which is even older). I have the latest versions of Illustrator and Photoshop, but that’s it for recent software. And I know people kick around the word “investment” when they’re trying to justify an outlay for something they want, but in my case it really is—I spent $700 on the iMac, $100 on the MacBook and around $300 on FormZ and they have paid for themselves many, many, MANY times over. Soon, hopefully.

Now, to bed.

monsieur gére-tout

December 21, 2017

  • Listening to some Yves Montand this morning at work. Reminds me alternately of France and then of his song on the Rushmore soundtrack, “Rue St Vincent.”
  • Found a point-of-purchase display designer job listing in Paris on the Coroflot job boards yesterday. I half-jokingly sent it to D, and she replied “But it’s in Paris,” and I responded, again half-jokingly:

    Sell both houses and both cars, use the funds from one to pay off debt, and from the other to set up a life over there. Connect with my Reformed pastor friend and his expat American wife in Paris, attend their church. Live there 4-5 years, come back to the US. Easy.

    If only it were.

  • A goal of mine for this journal is to record moments I have kicking around in my head, but have never written down. I think about certain episodes so often that I take it for granted someone somewhere knows about them and their significance, but if something (God forbid) were to happen to me, they’d be lost forever. I also want to transcribe my handwritten journal entries from my senior year of high school.
  • The only 10,000 Maniacs songs I play on repeat are “Carnival” and “A Room For Everything.” Here’s the association with the first song. As for the second, it’s not tied to a particular memory, but just the song that speaks the most to me from the band’s Mary Ramsey period.

like a g6

December 20, 2017


I am obsessed with this airplane at the moment:

Gulfstream G650

Gulfstream G650. Excluding Concorde, probably the most beautiful aircraft ever made. Its lines are absolutely, quintessentially perfect. Not a one out of place.

It’s actually kind of a grudging admission. I’ve always been into aircraft, and when I was younger my fandom manifested itself in a kind of brand loyalty associated with the passions usually devoted to sport teams and such. When it came to business jets, I was a Cessna Citation and British Aerospace fan. Gulfstream and Bombardier were the opponents, the enemies. Cessna rolled out their Citation X in 1993, the fastest civilian jet apart from Concorde, with a max cruise of Mach 0.925, and naturally it became my favorite. The manufacturer had done an exceptional job of shaping the aircraft to be able to cruise efficiently at that speed, and it showed in the plane’s design, which is overwrought and baroque, but at the time I was so bought-in to my Cessna fanboyism that I ignored some of the Citation X’s more ungainly aspects.

And then a year later, with no fanfare, with no durm und strang, Gulfstream announced the GV, which cruised nearly as fast through careful aerodynamic attention to detail and a healthy dose of engine power. Even though the planes don’t really compete directly in the market, it felt like a defeat. I remember being really upset about it in our hotel room after visiting the Paris Air Show in 1993. It was a blow to my fandom; even though the Citation X eventually proved itself a sales success, its bragging rights—and by extention, my own—had taken a hit, even though I had absolutely no one to brag to.

Now, though, I have to admit Gulfstream has the upper hand aesthetically. Talk about attention to detail: the G650 is peerless. The flap guides are all tucked up under the trailing edge of the wing, all the planes’ various elements (empennage, winglets, engines, etc) are proportioned perfectly and even the plane’s stance on the runway is flawless. I could watch these videos over and over again:


December 19, 2017

  • Trying to get the NC house fixed up to sell. My dad has been an absolute rock star in helping me work on it; relentless in his efforts to assist. I can’t thank him enough.
  • Pen and I continue to listen to music in the car on the way to school in the mornings. I’ve been trying lately to pique her interest in less electronic sounds, with limited success.
  • It’s been ages since I’ve been on a trip of any sort. The last time I was in an airplane was 2013, and before that 2008. Hard to believe how little I’ve flown recently when it was such a staple activity of the first part of my life.
  • I’ve been up late almost every night over the past couple of weeks working on freelance. I’m grateful for the work (if effectively paid for Christmas) but goodness I’m tired.
  • The kids are very, VERY into Harry Potter at the moment.
  • I haven’t run in a couple of weeks. I’ve changed my route so that now I’m running around the neighborhood instead of through the sketchy areas around our subdivision, so at least the runs are more relaxing—but it seem I still need motivation to get out there. Part of the issue is the aforementioned fact that the kids are into Harry Potter; they beg me to read extra chapters/pages and it’s invariably close to 10 PM by the time we finish reading and L goes to bed.
  • I’ve lost close to 7 lbs just by moving to Coke Zero from regular Coke. It’s nice I suppose, but I still need to be exercising. At least the daytime gym visits haven’t tapered off.
  • My mom is interested in getting a new car. I keep pushing for a Mazda CX-9, but I think she’ll end up getting an Audi Q5 or a VW Atlas or Tiguan.

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.