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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.

ambient

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:

France

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.

sail

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

wishbone

November 9, 2015

Remembered Sarah Masen a day or two ago, and binged on a whole bunch of songs from her self-titled debut album (admittedly the only one I owned). I remember buying that all the way back in 1996. I was a rising senior, if I remember correctly, and we were still attending South Durham Bible Church in Parkwood. It must’ve been the waning days of that church (my dad locked the door the day it folded), and I let Leslie borrow the album, and she really liked it. It’s a shame Masen didn’t go on to greater success; she was (and is) a very talented songwriter, with a kind of diary-like quality to her lyrics.

twelve gauge

November 4, 2015

Absolutely exhausted. I should be in bed now, and I’ll head that direction as soon as I finish this and take care of a few other things.

Productive day at work. The air conditioning died in the office (happened with my last job as well) so it was sweltering in there near the end of the workday. At least it’s not July. I tried to articulate to Marie what makes the nature of the design work I do at my new job so much more fulfilling than what I did previously, and I think it comes down to the fact that the types of displays I design now are one step closer to actual objects (being smaller in scale) and have less of a built-in, architectural quality to them. It sounds simplistic, and it probably is, but most industrial designers go to school to design thimble-to-vehicle-sized things; if we wanted to be involved with larger, environmental-type structures we would have been architects or landscape architects. And of course there’s more to it than that (a boss that acts like a normal human being helps a lot), but that’s part of it. Eh.

he has done a great thing

November 2, 2015

  • We sang “He Who Is Mighty” in church on Sunday. I’ve had it going through my head all day. I’m not complaining. It’s Christmas-ish and beautiful.
  • This site is live again. I’m trying an experiment, much like I did when I had that rash of posting a few years ago, of trying to write something, no matter how trivial, at least once a day, and hoping that will spark the habit. The fact that the first page on here spans more than 2 years is really sad, but… I can’t do anything but move on from that. I’ve privatized a bunch of entries, so there are about a dozen additional posts in that period, and…I’m the only one who’s really bothered by this, aren’t I? Stop talking about it? Probably a good idea.
  • Hunter is curled up on a blanket behind me. Oddly, Phoebe isn’t on my lap. She’s the newest addition to our three-cat collection and is a lap cat par excellence. She normally takes up residence here when I work in the evening, which is most nights, but she must’ve found another cozy spot somewhere else in the house.
  • My new job isn’t without its quirks, but it’s light-years beyond my old position. It’s been a breathtaking answer to prayer. I feel productive, valued, like my contributions are appreciated and matter, and (this is huge) I don’t dread going to work any more. Sunday evenings aren’t the slow emotional downward spiral of anticipation they used to be. It’s taken me a while to get used to the new mindset, and I hope it will only improve from here, to hopefully where I was, emotionally, when I worked at my job in NC. I’m actively trying to put the pieces in place.

words on a screen

November 1, 2015

Stumbled upon my repository of old poetry while looking for Halloween pictures for Diane. I flipped through a few. Some are okay; some are pretty bad; but my overarching feeling when reading them was a strange feeling of detachment. Most were ostensibly written with a specific subject in mind, and now I realize that they weren’t really written for that person at all, but were in large part a kind of exercise of my own romanticism. I hesitate to call them vanity projects, although I suppose, like most of my writing endeavors, I feel an added stab of motivation when I have an audience; my private journaling has never been consistent. Still—I don’t feel any connection to or longing for the subject of the poems’ words. They’re strangely mechanical. There’s a feeling of wastefulness, too, but who really knows in those moments what will last? You give of yourself because you want to believe, and because the idea of being in love is easier to wrap your mind around than the jigsaw puzzle reality. So it is with my formulaic expressions of romance, recently rediscovered.

dominoes

March 26, 2015

  1. I love the word “mend.”
  2. I don’t know whether to be excited or depressed that retropop is growing in popularity. I guess I should be pleased the style is getting more exposure and inspiring more bands to create music in that vein. Is there more crap? Sure, but there’s also more quality music. Can’t have one without the other I suppose.
  3. I’ve got the White Horse Inn podcasts since the beginning of the year loaded up on the iPod in preparation for the trip back to NC for the weekend. Not really looking forward to the driving and being away from the family, but all in all it should be alright.
  4. D found this link a few weeks ago, and I haven’t been able to get enough of listening to the sermons online.

my aim is true

March 25, 2015

How did I end up here, stumbling at the end like Pip and Estella? Only not quite the same—la seule chose contre qui je cogne, c’est moi-même. It just works better that way.

Maybe I do better with an audience? I don’t know. And it’s not that I didn’t chronicle anything privately—I did—but the consistency was lacking, to say the least. I think the slight restriction of nominal anonymity is worth enduring for the added motivation of public exposure. Regular (I won’t say good) writing requires a comfort zone, and I cultivated one over the years here. It would be easy to maintain that the consistency was a function of the audience, but the two-month burst of quality posting 5 or so years ago belies that. Quoi qu’il en soit, me voiçi.

After my run last night, I held my arm out to block out the neighborhood below and reminded myself that it’s the same sky I saw 10, 20, 25 years ago when I first read the H.A. Rey book and learned the constellations in Auron. If at least one of my senses can experience that familiarity for a moment, that’s a good thing.

Funny to think about the ebb and flow of LJ. It was really the only game in town during its early years, the only semi-permanent alternative to instant messaging. Folks who wouldn’t otherwise have written anything felt shoehorned into the blogging mold. Then Facebook, Twitter and other social media sites arrive on the scene and offer users what they really want: Cheap, disposable communication. Don’t get me wrong; those things have their place. I think it was just nice to see folks, for a year or two at least, forced into expressing themselves longhand, so to speak, however reluctantly. And after the diaspora, here I am again.

boom clap

July 16, 2014

Yes, I have the unfortunately-named Charli XCX’s latest going through my head these days. It’s a good pop song, though, and I’m not above embracing the occasional dose of plebeian music; heck, most (all?) of my enthusiasm for ’80s tunes encompasses music that would fit comfortably under the “pop” label.

I had some good themes in my head earlier today, but they’re gone now. I’m downstairs, typing on the netbook with the TV muted, kittens scampering around the room. They’re full, so they have energy to burn at the moment.

More soon.

bette davis eyes

October 8, 2013

1. Had a great visit to McConnell Elementary today…followed by an awful phone call from Diane to a lady at the Hamilton County Schools central office, essentially stonewalling our attempt to get the kids moved from Daisy (where we’re districted) to McConnell. I will be visiting Daisy next week, but my initial drive-by didn’t look too promising: Tacked on to a high school, looking very small and run-down, with a large dumpster right next to the front playground, and having to drive that terrible gully-ed road to get there… No thanks.

2. If you haven’t seen them, do yourself a favor and check out the series of Shirley Manson / Craig Ferguson interviews on YouTube. Their repartee, the dueling Scottish accents… They’re hilarious. I wonder if Penelope will look like her? If she grew up and could be a mix of KT Tunstall and Shirley Manson I wouldn’t object a bit.

3. The extended stay I’m presently in reminds me a lot of a dorm, with its paper thin walls and hustle and bustle this time of the evening.

i don’t ask a lot

April 26, 2013

On the edge of the weekend and so mind-bendingly disillusioned with the level of incompleteness in my life. I know we’re all “in process” to some degree or another, and usually I can repress that to the point where it’s nothing more than a background murmur in my thought life, but every once in a while it breaks through, like a sudden crevasse in an ice floe.

Didn’t help today, either, that I downloaded Duncan Sheik’s “On A High,” and, in listening to the electronic version, caught aural whiffs of Andain’s “Beautiful Things,” which of course took me back about 10 years to Design Services and all the attendant uncertainty and relational flux of that time…

When are things going to be…? I don’t even know.

gold

April 2, 2013

Wilson Phillips, “Ooh You’re Gold.” An incredibly cheesy bit of filler pop from their debut album. Listened to it on my Walkman in a hotel room somewhere in Italy. Tall wooden shutters on the window overlooking a semi-busy street. Mild fall or spring day. Como, perhaps?