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il se heurte contre la vie

July 24, 2018

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

population:tire

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.

presentation

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

Literally.

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:

valuation

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.

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.

innulèa

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.

spire

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.