Valentine’s Day: no, i’m not a fan

Typical, a man is not a fan of Valentine’s Day.

An often heard and witnessed harangue, the woe is me charade: a man who has to spend buttloads of cash and oodles of time with a significant other or sometimes-jump-off-turned-friend-with-benefits who may very well be wifey material but you haven’t given much thought, all for the prospect of some carnal pleasure. But, more importantly, it’s truly for evading the days-, weeks-, months- or maybe year-long (because they have a mulligan once another 365 days passes) pissy mood their said woman (or multiple women for the enterprising debonair male) will surely be in if a particular ovaries-toting human does not receive her favorite Godiva-brand heart shaped chocolate, all-time favorite book (first edition, out-of-print), bushel of roses (nope, a single bouquet isn’t enough), whispers of sweet nothings, and not to forget the modern-day proclamation of undying love via Tweets and Facebook statuses. Heck, they may even expect a profile picture change.

Ahh, yes. That’s how it goes. But honestly, before this begins to reek of the i’ve-heard-this-before: i don’t have that strong an issue with the materialization or commercialization of the “holiday” nor the publicly digital display of affection. Go for it. Dole out monies, one-up your best friend with lavish gifts and trips—treat your woman like the goddess she is; i’m all for it.

My issue with Valentine’s Day (in America, for i’ve recently become privy to the stark contrast in Japanese culture where the men are the objects of pamperdom, not the women!) has to do with obligation and the all-or-nothing aspect that love’s showcase has become because of V-Day.

Valentine’s Day makes us—men!—feel obligated to do something special for their significant other on this day. What if i—we—do something heartfelt many (random) times throughout the year? You know, showing love, affection, care, insert whatever word you want here, by taking her out to places or buying gifts, cooking her favorite dish(es), writing sonnets or lyrics, heck even a full song, or just watching a horrible TV show marathon just because she’d like it. And even after all of this, what if February 14th is not on the agenda? You better stock up on hockey protective gear or (for you religious folks) pray for protection, because all hell is about to break loose on your ass. And i’m not speaking without experience: i’ve been on the receiving end of you-didn’t-do-for-or-get-me-anything-on-Valentine’s-day-(or so i thought at first)-and-now-i’ll-be-mad rants, equipped with scowl and looks of impending death. It’s ridiculous.

V-Day is a get out of jail free card for those who consistently f*ck up in their relationships: you cheated (8 times)? Make up for it on Valentine’s Day. You forgot her birthday or your anniversary? You killed her dog, goldfish, pet snake or dreams and slept with her best friends? Make up for it on Valentine’s Day. All will be forgiven.

I shall hail this day for its power of absolution of a year-long litany of sins! Religious- and relationship-wise, i’m not for any of that mulligan type ish when the rap sheet is not equal to the forgiveness.

Now, this is interesting and perfectly timed!: Don’t Drive Your Wife to Cheat the Day After Valentine’s Day. And you thought i was wrong in feeling this way. Shit, i didn’t even know there were (limited) statistics backing up the asinine nature of this one “holiday” superceding all other days’ pampering or gift-giving or just overall being a quality partner/companion/lover/whatever.

Equating love with a 24-hour span is flawed. The “report” that more women sign up on this i-want-and-will-cheat website the day after All Absolution Day because they do not “feel appreciate or loved” is ridiculous. I’m not sure how others cannot see this problem. I would personally be offended if the only time out of the year i received “i love you this much” was during a designated day out of the year, one where every other women in the world is told the same thing, given the same cookie cutter gifts and cards. There’s nothing special about that. Maybe i’m just more romantic than that—i want and strive to do things that are, not necessarily original, but at least unique to that person, to her likes and loves, wants and untickled fancies. Hmmm…i don’t know, man, maybe i’m the irregular one here, and i should just pipe down. Oh, but before i forget:

Father’s and Mother’s Day fall into this, too, by the way; i’m just not as up-in-arms about these two, and i’ve not given much thought yet as to why. Once May and June roll around, i’ll probably have some bubbled-to-the-top thoughts on it i’m willing to share.

Till then: keep buying chocolate and roses one day out of the year, making sure to deliver them with a mirage of a smile. It’ll get you laid rather than laid out.

stream of consciousness #0015: inspiration is random on-purpose

Inspired by words from another who’ve i’ve never met physically—an online comraderie twittering—writing about a muse never encountered by either of us for she passed away years prior, this is a piece about the purpose of inspiration coming at us sideways in the dark holding a flashlight for the gloomy eyes to see hope.

Hopeful for enlightenment, we grope, not quite blind yet possessing almost atrophied optics, around murky caverns searching for an outlet. Almost at wit’s end, we hear a shout as a whisper miles in the distance, hope is still upon is; adrenal gland awakens, legs press on, fingers do the talking—touch a sensation mental more than physical, who needs nutrients to continue?

Continuing with labored breath, the scant whisper evolves, bellowing emotions reach eardrums yearning for companionship. Where must the world end, where is the finish line? Is the journey truly more important than the destination final?

Chains sway behind and below, the walls are now ceilings the floor trapdoors; hopping from crevice to precipice, plateau to cloud; nine rings of torment hover below seven levels of happy hellish memories, all hung together by sinew of the minds lost, not quite strong enough, not almost weak enough to give up, in the middle they laid down, holding up mere apathy at the end. Those on the outskirts soon tasted dewy moisture from the rays of sun lighting dreams
gathered on the way.

Death begats remnants of lives lived, conversations carried, penstrokes fueled by sadness, the sands of time cupped with hands, seeping out slowly, dripping saliva instead of saving—loneliness not an option, only so much solitude one can take; let it all go, scythe swings, fall below.

With digital archives perpetual—until the bunny ceases to beat drums, glasses break, blind we now know, why it continued forward, spinning, never diagonal with any destination in tow—we cease to live finite, able to sow seeds plentiful over pipeways, our pipedreams flood slow, gushing those wanting more, drowning all others able to swim, fighting down- and upstream, they go, go, go.

Ayn Rand’s Night of January 16th

Last night i caught a showing of a play performed on campus: Ayn Rand’s The Night of January 16th.

“Your life, your achievements, your happiness, your person are of paramount importance. Live up to your highest vision of yourself no matter what the circumstances you might encounter. An exalted view of self-esteem is a man’s most admirable quality.”

I loved the line, “I’m an atheist—there’s no use for that [the Bible]” when Miss Karen Andre is sworn in to tell the “whole truth…” so help her God.

The above was the start of a 365 Days post (day 011) from a little over a year ago. I’m really not sure how i got so sidetracked that i didn’t continue writing it. Hmm, maybe it had to do with my then recent breakup, not ready to truly talk about my love for atheism and antitheists, the secular passion within toiling and bubbling. It might be in my journal/diary. Not looking to go back, though; not now at least.

Anyway, i’ve been doing a “spring cleaning” of sorts on all things in my life: from digital missives and notes and blog posts, to my recent (not really since it was in October!) move, which i still have boxes of books and bags of clothes and a mixture of both still strewn around and adorning walls. I’ve been in a mental fog and muddling through a physical swamp of crap from my past, years and years ago, to more recent trinkets gathered—so completing or getting rid of hangovers is cathartic right now. Much needed.

Playbill for Ayn Rand's The Night of January 16th
Playbill for Ayn Rand's The Night of January 16th

That block quote way at the beginning of this post is significant at present as it was last January. It’s a parallel to people in my life, their ideas and motivations, as well as my recent Twitter conversations and Tweets, ruffling the feathers of religious zealots, brandishing my own (and others’) refutation of religious myths as truth (as gospel), exposing their fictitious nature.

Ayn Rand’s Atlas Shrugged did something to me. I was about 20 or 21 when i read it (i need to re-read it soon). I’ve since read her seminal offering to individuality: Anthem, thinking about getting the protagonist’s “name” (Equality 7-2521) tattooed. Yeah, it’s that real. I’ve Wikipedia’d her. I’ve shared quotes & other tidbits from interviews on Tumblr and Twitter. She was an outspoken and unabashed advocate for individualism, enriching literature, and dispelling myths of women’s inferiority in academics (and maybe socially? not too sure). She continues to live on, is the point i’m concerned with—but, of course! it all revolves around legacies for me.

Darnit! My wifi went down in the middle of writing this, and i’ve yet to catch up to my train of thought—it has probably been derailed miles ahead. Hmmph.

So: read Ayn Rand, a paragon of personal strength and believer in individual’s having power, too. It’s the best i can offer at the moment. I’ll return later to this.


Built my Online Bookshelf Surrounded by Physical Books

Several times over the past couple of years, i decided to migrate … well, more like copy … my physical books to the digital realm while sitting in the library. That is to say, i haven’t purchased or found a free way to have digital copies of the books—only a catalogue. Man, i should’ve just said that from jump. Anyway…I like instant access to knowledge, to lists—which is probably why i love the Interwebs so much: 24/7/365(6).

Being able to know what adorns two of my walls is a boon to my sanity. I recently discovered a torn plastic garbage with another bag within of books i’ve had since a kid. I think some of the books are my brother’s. Trips down memory lane are resplendent, especially when unexpected.

I figured i’d give more than a cursory look at Shelfari and GoodReads. I ultimately chose Shelfari as my main digital bookshelf since i hadn’t updated my LibraryThing account in quite some time (it was the first bookshelf website i used). I quickly remembered why, too: LibraryThing only allows 200 books to be cataloged before having to pay a fee ($10/year, $25/life). And, more importantly due to my changing tastes, i wanted a site that fit my aesthetic palette—clean and “modern” navigation with a focus on my bookshelf (with covers!).

I hadn’t used GoodReads too much, either, but got back on it once a few social network friends informed me they had accounts by requesting me. Shelfari was recently absorbed by Amazon, which is great since it made for a seamless integration of my 7-year book buying history. A top-notch perk, for sure.

Needless to say, it’s been weird jumping from one rock to the next—reminding me of a child staying at mommy’s house on weekdays and father’s on weekends: some lucky toys are in both places, but only the real important ones have permanent residence at one, probably because they’re rare or have more meaning. Horrible analogy, but whatever.

With everything moving to the digital realm, i’m excited to see how others have gone about constructing their online bookshelf. Are they keeping their books solely on Barnes & Noble or Amazon Kindle accounts’ bookshelves? Or using websites like these? Maybe some combo of ‘em all?

Not much more to say or to ponder, so i’m out. Feel free to find/follow me by clicking the links in the paragraphs above.

Peace out, cub scouts.

stream of consciousness #0013: all i do

For years my tears carried screams muffled by showered water, “I am not my father. I am not him.” I hated my given for years, not changing till i met poetry, spoken words from a friend familiar. Even still, i refuse to use my sur; i see little equity in it, this name more reminder of ancestral tarnish and pain, fatherly shadows, nothing to build upon.

I’ve embraced a duality of innumerable voices bouncing around: pain & joy, happiness & sullen ways, morose visions holding sunshine thoughts. It’s unsettling at times if allowed to creep, spill over and to be soaked up paper towel like.

All i do in life has a center mass, that of filling silos with corn husks, fodder and sustenance for my future offspring. I shall not break the convenant with my 13-year-old self: i am not and will not be him. It’s not out of hate; it’s out of love. I cannot throw away what the DNA coupling of my mother and father bestowed upon me. It’d be a waste. There’s a purpose(s) for each of us, but figuring it out takes time, takes courage, an understanding of why & how. I’m sketching out my plans, coloring by Roman numeral: a mixture of alphabetic & numeric symbols.

Before their questions are uttered, i wanna put a tome of answers on the table: ‘Because’ the title. As a youngster i was given my favorite book, one i know sowed a life-long quest and actions: The Big Book of Tell Me Why. From then it was clear to me all the answers about life were in a book. It prepared me for not talking, to not asking people first, but seeking out the answers myself.

I earned an honorary doctorate via absence, distance learning almost like experiencing sex through abstinence. All my figures of fatherhood were remote: i collected card collectibles of Black men, light & dark skinned athletes, musicians, names unlike mine—slaveowner & African; no grandfathers, one passed two years before my birth, so i believed my middle name was only shared with a long dead King, and a crackhead for an uncle; the other taught me a language i no longer speak, abuses & neglect perpetuated didn’t begin with me. Where was my paternal Northstar?

Vocally uttered words have less meaning to me than printed married characters: empty truths, promises broken bounced along my eardrums when eyes pored over kept secrets. Words heard are mere dust and ashes; words seen are written with blood. All i ask for is never to be lied to; at least not cut deeply. But then, who’s to know how far the knife will plunge?

Never wanting that for my progeny, this vow of a promise to them is unwavering. All my knowledge and experiences shall be at their disposal from jump, syphoned or guzzled, heated up and devoured, or laid on a shelf collecting dust till readiness. I only want there to be a direct line, a number brightly emblazoned & hung above, fluorescent light guiding 24/7.

The Big Book never had unpublished answers: how to deal with a sick parent; why must a teenager be a father figure to a young brother when a parent isn’t dead? Where to go for school? How to tie a tie? What the hell is being a man?

My mother is prone to say a lot these days, “I gave up my life for you and your brother.” She’s just being dramatic as usual, yet, hyperbolic statements and sentiments come from somewhere. I’m already a decade older than the age she had me—8 yrs older than my pops—and i couldn’t, wouldn’t want to imagine having to raise a child right now. Especially not alone.

Life is cyclical, and i want to break mine Staind-like; if not, nothing short of failure is my life. So, for them, all i do is theirs.

Neither confession nor indictment

I want this to be neither confession nor indictment but more of a review, maybe a prospectus.

So, 2011 was a tempest of a year for me. Fitting, I guess, that “tempest” has been used to describe me by a person whose life i may have inadvertently thrown for a loop; though it would be an echoed action since they had torn up mine, my head, lashed out and scarred my heart years prior. However, i’m not truly one for revenge, even if incidental.

Anyway, after the ravaging typhoon remark, i began to think and see myself more as an innocuous plague: i understand i can wreck havoc and mass effect upon a given sector or prospect—read: women—with relative ease, and with little wont nor worry. I will get and do whatever i want. It’s really that simple—i am a grown ass precocious child, understanding i can obtain whatever i fancy, and not giving a damn what it costs nor the effects. It’s ridiculous, really, since (i believe) i’m such a giving and caring, a sensitive and aware person. Ahh, i chalk it up to the intricacies, the paradoxical and ironic nature of being a Gemini as skin covering the skeleton as Cancer—i should call myself a walking astrological triptych, if i were to be so forcefully artistic or, gasp, poetic.

Several weeks ago it was brought to my explicit attention that i’m an “intense” individual. Bugged out because i never pegged myself as one—at least not in such a direct manner, as if i was the crazed blond fiance in Wedding Crashers, but without the malice. Remarks from a loved one, from a lover (a muse), from a reflection, always pierce the deepest, cover the warmest and secure.

I’m well aware of my seriousness—it may seem odd to outsiders who’ve only seen me in social settings, the jovial me, or the rambunctious side, but it’s more of who i am than anything. I wrote a poem a few years ago (it might be on Facebook, not too sure, but it will be in dust) where i concede, “Even when happy / my constant mood is pensive.” There exists at the basis of my thoughts and all my actions, a desire to know what it all means, what makes it or something important—why being the driving force. Everything i experience, taste, smell, every person i meet, every conversation i have, i look a la Sylar for how it can help me, what i can gain from it, what its or his/her use is.

For me, i’ve found so much solace, a veritable crutch and enabler, an inticer in the form of Liquid Jesus—for Kravitz, that would mean “love,” which has a fitting side, too, in all this. I’ve many unpublished posts and written notes on my romance, marriage, and constant separation/possible divorce with alcohol. It’s the gift that keeps on giving—and taking. Crazy, though, i’d parallel love and alcohol, intertwining them in a twisted tango of sorts.

This shield i’ve placed on the shelf for 2012. So far for the whole of January it has collected dust—our everlasting marker of history: dead skin cells, hair follicles, matter. My contact lenses have been able to dry off from the alcoholic solution, gazers again without hazy distortion. It’s allowed me to focus on myself, my mental, more than carnal pleasures and desires, no thrill seeking.

The human psyche has layers, i believe, sorta like the make-up of the skin. The epidermis is the facade, is the outter mask, the distraction that is shown to the unpiercing eyes of the world—even if that reflected vision be off mirrors or tempered waters. Some will show the secondary and tertiary levels with relative ease, possibly at the same time as the primary, but others, most of us, will take some slashing and gash-inducing to peer below into the depths. That is—unless alcohol (and possibly other toxins) is introduced.

The lurking monster residing in each of us is not unlike that of our favorite serial killing Dexter: he is boxing with shadows in each episodes, both his own and those of his victims and loved ones. It is the mental battle waged (and won) that is hardest of all. Without the mind being in tow, all bets surely are off regarding the outcome of life physically. Each of us has a monster breathing heavily or as a whisper, yet the strength of each is similar: unknown. Some of us learn early to keep it tamed, or to maintain it under toe and key, but many of us—and i take liberties with believing i’m well-versed in the wild things under our beds, skin and residing within—are simply afraid to acknowledge their existence, to truly know what is awaiting our first misstep or mishap.

No longer afraid, and not totally angry at the moment, but more aware with a greater sense of clarity about me and a possible future, i’m heeding my tattoos, “procrastinate tomorrow; live for today,” by writing daily, sticking to budgets, shunning cigarettes and alcohol, ingesting copious (not really) amounts of caffeine, and manifesting my vision board.

The past few months i’ve been around too many link-minded people, by that i mean those who want to be great, and who are taking that ambition and doing something about it. It’s inspiring. Being the utmost competitor, even if this is not a race nor a sport or game, i will see it as such. I have too many skills, too high of an intellect, and other assorted “things going for me” to squander them—or, truthfully, to allow peers to reach heights possible for me, but i didn’t, i refused to, or was plum lazy.

That lingering fear i talked about is stronger than ever—but now i’m unchaining it, unafraid it will consume me, instead it will be my hybrid against all foes, namely the vampiric partier. I’ve built more than enough frat boy, social butterfly, “man whore” equity to fight off inquiring attacks of why and surprised wows. Now it’s time to establish a strong intellectual credit base, constructing ground-up scholarly and didactic complexes and parks.

It’s the first day of our wonderful slice of American pie, Black History Month—a leap year, too, meaning one extra day of Black goodness!—so i’m invoking my ancestors for some galvanized resolve in looking at the world around me, at my self, and understanding where i stand at the moment—is this a plateau or a springboard?—with hopes of adding to the world this time around.


treating every encounter as if memoir material

After a recent introduction to a new clique (or maybe just a roughshod gathering of friends and friends of friends), i had a feeling, a slight tugging, that this was part of something bigger, that this Brooklyn night will end up years later across ruled parchment.

Possibly the names will be changed, or, remaining intact, will only exist in a systrophic litany without fat, no delicacies for the reader to nosh upon, compelled to research each entry themselves; either way, my existence present at and involvement in said night of board games shared with a gaggle of artists, creatives, musicians, lawyers, sandmen—all of us world travelers—might be documented.

This night produced a decision, a new modus operandi: i will treat every encounter as if it is memoir material—whether that be mine or the other person’s, doesn’t matter; i see that distinction as a trivial matter, something along the lines of: the center mass of the universe actually being what all planets and objects revolve around (yes, the sun included).

With my unparalleled love and awe (?) for memoirs, auto- and self-scribed biographies, i should be obsessed with them, one would think, but I’m not. I save my frenetic indulgences for other things—or, really, i have an interest in too many things to dedicate energy to a sole purpose, unless, of course, it isn’t for a prolonged duration.

Anyway, what’s important is life stories fascinate and interest me (yes, there’s a difference! One I constantly quibble over with my father who loves the former word, while i have historically hated it, swearing by the latter lol).

With each reading of a new journey, be it Nikki Giovanni’s autobiographical essays (Gemini and Sacred Cows) or Andy Warhol’s Diaries or Henry Miller’s Black Spring or Herbert Gold’s Bohemia or Kwame Ture’s Ready for Revolution or Bro. James Weldon Johnson’s Autobiography of an Ex-Colored Man or Walter White’s Walter White and The Harlem Renaissance or Jack Kerouac’s Dharma Bums and On the Road, i marvel and take notes from each, looking at their encounters and meetings as markers that great and creative minds will always find a way to intermingle, to cross, to double-cross, to copulate, to share, to head nod at reflected spirits all on their own journeys, understanding but not looking too deeply into the magnitude of their existences.

The prospect that my legacy will have footnotes and cross-sectioned entries with and within others’ books or pamphlets, poems or essays, plays or blog posts, fiction or non-fiction, excites me, makes the existential parts of my psyché giddy.

There’s a hope that my legacy, the platform for my haranguing fear of not leaving indelible marks upon this world, will have some fodder, some aliment to sustain itself.

Am i looking unnecessarily deep into this? Sure; i’m open to consider that. But what else is there to do when one has no children?

Create future manifestations, future triumphs, and future failures all in the hopes i’ll see them come to fruition, even if they’re distorted—of course.

Now, here’s to the next social event or cosmic encounter, the extemporaneous conversation, the random show of goodwill, of good faith, to future spillages of drinks, holding of doors, to lingering eye contact; never know what words will be written because of ‘em. All is possible memoir material.

my future reflected in birthmarks

Somewhere along my journeys i heard the spiritual theory that birthmarks signify how many lives one has lived—actual indicators of where one was killed previously. I would think, then, that if one was not murdered, but say had lung cancer or passed because of an heart attack, they would show up on the relative spot on the skin where said afflicted body part resided. But, that’s not important.

I’m not truly sold on the violent nature of the blemishes, but i do feed into the lives tallied inconspicuously through ubiquity idea.

More times than i can even think to count, i’ve thought about how many times i’ve been on this earth, how many encounters over the decades, maybe centuries, i’ve had to roll the dice.

Others, pretty much always women, have asked innumerably, as well, “Who are you?—how old are you?—how many lives have you lived?” Or, “I wonder when we last met.” And the thing with words is they all have to be unpacked, and more so when one is aware of tone and context; these inquiries weren’t survey fodder, application items, but deeper curiousity. And i truly dig it—i dig them—for i wonder, too. I usually answer with a smile or some other expression rather than anything vocal. I don’t have a direct, succint answer. There cannot be one—one rational or logical, at least. Even still: i’m always more interested in where we, whoemever it is, met rather than how long ago. Human nature doesn’t change much, just customs and societal rules, so i want to know how far i’ve traveled more than when. Wait, no. I’m lying. It’s a combination of both; i need to know where and when to understand the historical significance, to know if it was even possible. If i—we—am still the same aesthetically as before, with minor alterations, such as hair and possibly weight, anything that is variable normally, would i fit in that society during the time period; would i be ostracized or accepted? Hmm. Ponderments with increasingly doubtful answers.

A stone’s throw away (and this works since we’re talking about time!), a few-years-old dream was rekindled: to spontaneously hop on a train (think Amtrak) heading as far away for half a day’s trip, where i’ll scribe and scribe, hopefully producing a novella, at least a short story, hell, maybe an handful of blog posts or essays, during the jaunt there and back. I don’t want to tell anyone till i arrive at far off destination, only that i’m safe, i haven’t been abducted, and then not until i return, limbs intact. Don’t want anyone to know where i’ve gone. I don’t do well with the “ask” for permission thing. I will just bounce—a quasi-spontaneity. The goal being to write, to think. It’s a lust to wander in inconspicuous solitary. A modern-day ascetic journey.

It fits in with years long gone, of years antiquated: of Abraham Lincoln composing the Gettysburg Address; of Bro. James Weldon Johnson traversing the northeast to the South, poor, passing, thinking; of Whitman and Thoreau; of Atlas Shrugged, the personification, tranquility and tumult of burgeoning railroads, of pioneering; of the human spirit—always on the move. I want my future reflected in birthmarks. Prophetic, perhaps. Maybe.

Thinking about writing within the spaces of decades ago: of the Harlem Renaissance, of the Antebellum South, within the viewpoint of a woman, of a White man, of a Black single mother, of a chattel slave, of an indentured servant, of a Negro League player, of a tattooed native not unlike my current looks or decorated skin, of a god, a devil, an angelic demon.

Meandering thoughts through space, time and cultures; through thoughts, religions and desires.

I’ve been morbidly intrigued with and unafraid of death since a young child, signified by the passing away of my paternal grandfather, the only connection to another language, tagalog. I still remember that snowy day at his funeral—possibly my oldest memory of this life. I didn’t know until i was older that i spoke tagalog with him, one of the only to do so, since he didn’t speak English well, if really at all, save for curse words (like “nigger,” which he called my mother when she was pregnant with me; but that is not unexpected of i/emmigrants who are prone to learn the “names” and perjoratives of the underclass or sects and blocs of people in said country; though, no absolution, just point of reference. He did, however, grow to absolutely love and adore my mother once we, my brother and i, were born).

My mother nutured my life-long fascination unknowingly by continually talking about death arrangements, namely her funeral (buried like the Jews, within three days—do not keep her body out!). So, i’ve always known that nothing lasts forever, nothing physical at least, in one form for eternity.

With each passing year, possibly even months, more and more birthmarks—or, should i dub them life spots?—seem to sprout upon my body. Maybe there are so many that i don’t recall them being there since the beginning. Or, have they surfaced as i get closer or reach the various ages of my previous deaths? Or possibly, encounter something similar from before; maybe, learning a skill or having an epiphany: they’re like awards or achievements echoing centuries forward.

One of my favorite videogames, Planescape: Torment (for PC), which probably has the greatest story of all-time, focuses on The Nameless One, an immortal emblazoned with scars upon scars and tattoos upon tattoos (of course i instantly liked him). Each mark tells a story, signifies a memory, an encounter, a person, smell or experience. Every time he dies, he comes back alive days or hours later–sometimes weeks, even years. He doesn’t change bodies or appearance, however. His journey takes him through various spaces and times, dimensions and lands, all hinging upon figuring out the mystery, deciphering the clues, putting together the jigsaw while solving the rubix cube of why him. It’s a(n even more) sordid Momento.

The point of it all (Anthony Hamilton), ‘all’ being this post, is reflecting on the future through mirrors of the past. Is it possible? Not sure it matters. It does make for interesting, sober thoughts, though. How far to go? How little traveled?

I guess—i hope!—i’ll get to see, to know.

Stream of Consciousness #0008: underachieving

Even in my dreams—during the times of peace, of unconscious revery—i find myself berating my self, left with remnants once awake.

The unconscious finds a way to highlight the conscious mistakes, missteps and mishaps it feels occur on a basis, if not daily, then still way too often. Waking up in a state of anger, or with vexation and annoyance, or with any tidbit of beguiling angst because of visions and memories elusive, are not choice ways to begin one’s day.

However, thinking about it rationally, or maybe logically is the better use of diction, it is a good thing—an omen that i must change things. And, usually i do, now that i look at history of self. When i am angry at my self, i make changes.

See, i cringe at the thought of disappointment. I do not, have not ever, want to disappoint anyone: not myself, not my parents, not “superiors” or supervisors, not my brother, nor my teammates. No person. There exists a constant angst, possibly a fear, that i’m doing something “wrong.” I tend to apologize a lot.

Considering myself a fuck up, or using the words i used in high school to describe my sophomore or junior self to the college guidance counselor, “under-achiever,” always galvanizes me in my life attempts at reaching the various thresholds i’ve set aim upon. I can laugh at it now, the whole being in this lady’s office and explaining to her quite frankly that i underachieved sophomore year because i didn’t care anymore; but it’s not really that funny, since i know i can do better. I just need the motivation.

Not much motivates me—besides the prospect, the underlying thought that others believe i’ve disappointed them, that i’ve done something (continuously) wrong. I want to rectify it—or, really, i believe i should be given explicit directions, some type of goal or outline so i know i’m on the correct path—or something to that end.

When i told that lady that i stopped caring, it was the truth. After my A’s/90s marks throughout elementary and junior high schools, i arrived at a top-tier high school, in one of the “gifted” programs, only to see a plethora of other students whom i knew weren’t as intelligent or smart as me, who definitely didn’t achieve the same standardized test scores nor the grades, in the the same school.

I realized then and there that our academic system was a farce of itself: that busting ass didn’t get most people much farther in life, but being at the right place at the right time, or knowing the right people would guarantee such. The masses would be lumped together with everyone. Money went a long way, too.

I soon figured out that doing what i wanted with my time regarding studies, or my reading and whatever else would be a better means of having a fulfilling life than just sticking to the script. It worked—for the most part, but it had it’s issues, too. I realized that throughout life i and others would continue to be lumped in with everyone else–with the masses. I wasn’t intellectually elevated enough to have only classes with the smartest of the bunches as i was in JHS, and i definitely wouldn’t go to an Ivy League school because of my poor grades in my sophmore year, which i elevated during junior and senior years. It was too late. Even in college, during my computer science and English classes, the curriculum was a joke and the students weren’t too astute regarding either subject. They didn’t care either, really, for whatever reasons.

It was a marathon to mediocrity i couldn’t be a part of any longer. Just like any- and everything else in this world, all is relative. Before writing this, i believed that i needed to continually be angry at myself to spur my energies or change. However, after the past few weeks, i’ve been learning or, really, thinking differently. I don’t need to exactly be angry; but i need more constant and trusted support. Daily does she give me (unknown) support. It can be direct or residual, but it just helps.

Understanding that support from peers, that having a group of positive minded friends and family, or even just acquaintances with like-minded goals and pastimes, seems to be a boon. I’ll just have to keep monitoring this.

Donate Your Idle CPU Time

For those like me who keep their computers at home and at work on all the time, here’s a simple way to put them to use while away: it’s called volunteer computing. Basically, your computer gives some of its resources to assist in various scientific or academic research projects. It’s important because there are > billion computers in the world, but most of them are not being used to anywhere near full capacity, especially sitting idle for hours at a time. By volunteering your computer’s idle CPU time, you can greatly assist in projects such as cancer or DNA research. There are dozens of projects that allow you to donate your computer’s resources.

How this works is by downloading software (i use BOINC), signing up with a project manager, choosing the projects you want to assist, and voila. When your computer is idle for a given amount of time (and connected to the ‘net, of course) it will start crunching the numbers for that project. Think of it as a screen saver that actually does something but be pretty lol.

A (very) recent entry into this field, CharityEngine, which donates whatever it makes from research projects to charities, and one that has the potential for mass adoption because of the ease of use, is a team from Waterloo during Facebook’s annual Hackathon contest.

For more information on volunteer computing, i’ve copied & pasted from BOINC’s website:

What is volunteer computing?

Volunteer computing is an arrangement in which people (volunteers) provide computing resources to projects, which use the resources to do distributed computing and/or storage.

  • Volunteers are typically members of the general public who own Internet-connected PCs. Organizations such as schools and businesses may also volunteer the use of their computers.
  • Projects are typically academic (university-based) and do scientific research. But there are exceptions; for example,  GIMPS and (two major projects) are not academic.

Several aspects of the project/volunteer relationship are worth noting:

  • Volunteers are effectively anonymous; although they may be required to register and supply email address or other information, they are not linked to a real-world identity.
  • Because of their anonymity, volunteers are not accountable to projects. If a volunteer misbehaves in some way (for example, by intentionally returning incorrect computational results) the project cannot prosecute or discipline the volunteer.
  • Volunteers must trust projects in several ways:
    • The volunteer trusts the project to provide applications that don’t damage their computer or invade their privacy.
    • The volunteer trusts that the project is truthful about what work is being done by its applications, and how the resulting intellectual property will be used.
    • The volunteer trusts the project to follow proper security practices, so that hackers cannot use the project as a vehicle for malicious activities.

The first volunteer computing project was  GIMPS (Great Internet Mersenne Prime Search), which started in 1995. Other early projects include SETI@home, and  Folding@home. Today there are over 50 active projects.

Why is volunteer computing important?

It’s important for several reasons:

  • Because of the huge number (> 1 billion) of PCs in the world, volunteer computing can supply more computing power to science than does any other type of computing. This computing power enables scientific research that could not be done otherwise. This advantage will increase over time, because the laws of economics dictate that consumer products such as PCs and game consoles will advance faster than more specialized products, and that there will be more of them.
  • Volunteer computing power can’t be bought; it must be earned. A research project that has limited funding but large public appeal can get huge computing power. In contrast, traditional supercomputers are extremely expensive, and are available only for applications that can afford them (for example, nuclear weapon design and espionage).
  • Volunteer computing encourages public interest in science, and provides the public with voice in determining the directions of scientific research.

Hope to see you donating your idle CPU time :-)