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Update in the dark

I've been quiet since I got back. Where the hell have I been?

The short version is that, as soon as I was back in the United States, my mother's abuse of my father hit flashpoint during his convalescence at home, he threw her out of the house, and finally - finally - they're getting divorced. Although my friends have wisely told me not to get involved, my dad's health and safety are at stake and I can't stay on the sidelines.

The longer, sadder, more gruesome version.Collapse )

My Vietnam trip is a happier (and somewhat hedonistic...two words: "fruit vineyard") story, so I'll have to find the energy for it soon. I think I wrote earlier that I went there "ready to change." I'm still trying to figure out if that actually happened or not. The last thirty days have made it hard to reflect.

For now, I'll say this: it's amazing how much weight you can lose on a diet that's 50% beer. :P

More next time.

The mind wanders where it will.

- I almost lost my father two weeks ago. Burst duodenal ulcer. Doc called me that night saying he wasn't sure if he'd survive. Today, Dad's able to walk a bit, eat, and joke. His progress has been unbelievable. I hold his hand and talk about the news with him, and in the back of my mind I think about how close to death he was. I still haven't let myself cry. Too much time focused on staying strong. Or staying sane. With how my mother has been acting, I'm not so sure about that second one.

But he's alive, and so am I. So I'll leave that aside for now. Five, eight, ten years ago, I probably would have broken down in this journal about how hellish my family life is, screaming through the monitor about how useless I felt, how hopeless the whole situation feels. Today I'm probably too Spockish about the whole affair, if anything. I just think "Dad would tell me to move past it", and he's still around today to say that. It feels wrong to let anger taint the gratitude I feel for having his life back.

So I'll just say that I'm happy my Dad is alive, and the medical and psychiatric systems in this country can go to hell on a landslide.

- I'll be in Vietnam from June 22nd to July 8th. That's also my birthday, as it happens. Coming back 30 years old. I'm past excitement - the last two weeks have seen to that - and feeling something else. The problem with being so story-minded is you start imposing a narrative on your own life. Usually I can resist it, but not this time. This one will leave a mark on me somewhere, or maybe I just want it to. I'm really doing my best not to turn this thought into 2,000 words. If I had to summarize it: this is a change I'm ready for.

- Given the above, I'll miss out on Anime Expo, which sucks because fucking Daisuke, man.

- I was up to 172 before Dad got sick. The past two weeks cut me down to 166. Disappointing. Still, I'm either strong enough or stubborn enough to get five more pounds over my head. I vow revenge against all broccoli at...some point in the future. My challenge generally comes from getting enough sleep to let the muscle grow. Birthday parties, social drinking (argh...), this shit with Dad, it all conspires to keep a man from the Great Pillow of Healing. And for a guy who doesn't feel a day over 25, I really can't enjoy a day without a good eight hours behind me. Still, I've been a real baby about late nights for a few years now.

- But I reiterate what I said before about weights. Barring disability, do it. I don't care about your gender, your genetics, or your current pant size. I can't name an easier and more lasting self-investment.

- I miss the feel of opening a new game for the first time. Games for me are sort of frozen in time, back in 2008-2010, along with a lot of other things about myself. I think the only ones I played since then were Tactics Ogre, the Dissidia sequel, and maybe eight hours of Skyrim. That's a pretty dismal resume for the guy who put 100 hours into Suikoden III once upon a time.

- Fuck I want to play Heavensward. Patience, Teek, patience...

- Take a look online and you will see that a lot of people in the world today want your anger. Your anger is a valuable resource. Don't give it away.

- Still writing. I hope I have more to say about that soon.

- I hope I have more to say soon, period.


I don't really like Twitter, I don't really like Tumblr, I don't really like Facebook, I don't really like Plurk, and the current climate of social media can go chug a bucket of horse piss as far as I'm concerned. Still, I dust this thing off not out of scorn for those platforms (which, quite hypocritically, I use anyway), but because I'm a creature of sentiment. Really, where else do I get to pick between He-Man and Vagrant Story icons?

On my mind these days, in various frequencies...

- I've never met an environmental activist I didn't want to punch, except for the ones I wanted to date.

- Up 13 pounds since January. Heavier weights, heavier shakes. Doesn't look like I'll keep my hair past my 30th birthday, but I'll have an ox's chest and freakishly venous arms. I already can't wait to cut, mind you - I feel like such a heifer. But the last five years have well and truly convinced me that weightlifting is one of the best lifestyle changes a man can make, with regard to his personal improvement. It naturally guides you to improve yourself in other areas. Insofar as you have a "natural state of being", lifting is one way to (re?)discover it. Sleep becomes the treasure it's meant to be, too.

- And then you pair it with a zinc/copper supplement and it turns your dreams haywire. I had one last week about being on a Tomb Raider adventure with an ex who ended up needing me to take her car to be detailed at 1AM by those two fairies that summon Mothra. I certainly can't fit that shit into a Tweet, so it's going here.

- Sometimes I wake up wondering what it would be like to have a wife snoozing next to me. Other days...

Coworker 1, a straight jock type: "You got a secret wife at home we don't know about?"
Me: "Nope."
Coworker 2, an engaged lesbian Navy vet: "Smart man."

Lone wolves are sometimes the envy of the pack, I guess. It's fair to say that there are nights I'll wake up and have a name I murmur to myself, or a memory I turn over in my mind. I don't think Loverboy Teek is ever going away. But I see that flash of pining in my married friends' eyes when I talk about spending a morning at some hole in the wall in Laguna Beach or Pasadena or Palm Springs, by myself and on my own time, hitting the road whenever I want to. How long should a man in the 21st century hold onto that? No new insights from me, I'm afraid. I don't have anything to add to this tune. I'm just letting it play.

- Being a generation or two behind the times with consoles lends you a certain perspective on the continuing brawl over games. But, even if I were up to date, I think I'd still be so disheartened by the direction of the conversation - and infuriated by the dimwits that are manipulating it for their own gain - that I'd prefer to recuse myself entirely. Sometimes it gets the better of me, though. I want to urge people not to get suckered into fighting somebody else's "culture war." Then I start feeling like an old man on a porch, and just go back to running through Ivalice or wherever. I feel bad about that - like I should say more - but I can't shake this suspicion that this whole storm of controversy is just a proxy for something else. I have my theories as to what it is. Hope I'm just paranoid, but more likely, I'm just getting cynical. I don't know when my insights into humanity hit such a low temperature. I miss 2005.

- Almost as much as I miss Eternity. I still play around in MS Word with another one, every now and then.

- Chicken and broccoli and rice. Chicken and broccoli and rice. Tomorrow and tomorrow and tomorrow.

- Last year, I felt as early as January that 2014 would be "a year of culmination" in a lot of ways, good and bad. I don't know what the theme for this year is, but I think I see its silhouette. Not expecting a bumpy ride, but I'm strapping in for a long one.

- Fuck I want to play FFXIV. I never stopped being that kid who wanted life to be like Final Fantasy. God, I'll probably think the same at 40.

Anyway, back to grinding at the Wheel of Pain.


We're halfway through 2014, and I still have no idea what it's all about.

(This thought has been brought to you by the National Committee for Posting Shit That Might As Well Go On Twitter in LiveJournal Instead.)

Better thoughts

Things have improved since my last visit here (which are increasingly guarded, given how many of them are locked...eesh). Reading over that one again, I don't think I was seeing myself clearly. The week afterward, I wiped my schedule and started lifting again, more heavily this time. My way of thinking went through a slight but significant shift, and I found myself on...a rebound, I guess you could call it? I found myself doing more, at work and at home. (Imagine that, getting results by - gasp - doing things!) As another part of that rebound, I took the aforementioned friend out to the Night Market in Costa Mesa a couple weeks ago and we had an awesome time. A very awesome time. There's a certain coarse pleasure in nomming on hot dogs and slurping down boba tea from a food truck by this name. It's funny - in contrast to the brooding mass of quiet I was a few weeks before, I had the better aspects of myself on display that night. That was me liking being me. I'm not sure how fast an epiphany has to be in order to qualify as an epiphany, but I definitely come through this month with far more clarity on my situation. And it's not the dead end I feared it was, nor am I as helpless before it. Realizing that is worth an episode of self-flagellation.

Granted, I also banned myself from alcohol until Memorial Day. Gotta account for all contributions.

With all that no longer weighing on me, I've been coming back to the thing that should be. I'll be 29 in July. I decided I'm going to take this idea that stung me around New Year's, and put it between a pair of covers by 30. That's a bold oath, and there's a legion of excuses, digressions, delays, and padding ready to quash it. But, while I hate saying "this time is different"...this time is different.

Some ideas I've had because I thought they would sell well. Some because I thought they'd defy a genre and validate themselves over time. Then there are some that I think of as "spiritual successors" to stuff I wrote when I was a teen. While I'd entertain the thought of any of these doing well, I kept coming back to the same conclusion: if you believed in it, you'd be writing it. Time passed them by, and I lost what anchored me to them.

This one I believe in. It's a challenge to articulate why (and I may not really succeed until it's done), but as best as I can describe, it has an engine powered not by dreams of fame, wealth, or historical prominence, but by...well, everything I like. Everything I have liked. It doesn't take inspiration from what's lacking in the field or what's doing well at the box office or what's playing on my iPod. The inspiration comes from my own memories. I never run out of reasons to believe in it.

Shit, this thing has bits of everything from Ivalice to Suikoden to Paradise Lost to The Big Lebowski. Surely that gamut is worth some time with pen and paper.

It'll be tough, and it'll be tiring, and it'll plague me with doubt and uncertainty all the way to the peak of the mountain.

And it'll be good.

Waking moment.

I've been aching for this kind of day. Gray, rainy, breezy, cool, calm - and back to being myself for a little while.

Pulling up my old LiveJournal client today feels like driving through my hometown. It's less that you wonder where the time has gone, and more that you're surprised how completely and indiscriminately time has changed everything. For something I checked essentially every few hours only five years ago, I can't even remember what icons I still have kicking around.

All that time and what's happened in-between are what bring me back to this today. I moved here in January 2011. In just a few months, it'll be three years since I packed it all up and parked myself in Irvine. Unsurprisingly, my mind has been preoccupied with what those three years have been, and what they mean for me as a whole. There's a lot to be proud of. I've lost eighty-one pounds and fourteen pant sizes; I ran the 2013 Firecracker 5K in Chinatown; I threw my first-ever dinner party (hey, milestones are milestones). I can cook and clean and provide at least minimal service to a car. I've even, finally, made some truly incredible friends. One I came very close to kissing, but we'll leave that for another day.

Career-wise, I've done well. I advanced from an entry-level HelpDesk tech to managing the onboarding and offboarding for a Fortune 500 company, and my pay has increased, and everyone likes me, and...

And if I were more dramatically inclined, this is where I'd grab my coffee mug and fling it full-bore at the wall.

Well, not really, but you get the idea. I'll dispense with trying to polish the cadence of this entry, and just say that shit I miss a lot of things, and today makes me remember all of them.

Mostly, I miss myself. Even when it was hell being myself.

The years between 2008 and 2011 were a bad time. A bad, bleak time. And even so, while the inertia of those years may have galled me, haunted me, I was at least myself. Writing Eternity may not have gotten me or anyone involved published for it, but at least I was writing, about characters I liked and for people I cared about. Wandering alone and aimless around my hometown made me feel like Luke stuck on Tatooine, but I don't know who I'd be without the longing those days ingrained in me. My love life back then seems in hindsight like one long tangle of puerility on my part, but there's something about that rash, torn, vulnerable state that I miss, too.

It's all strange to think about, but yeah...I look back at even the worst chapter in my life and like who I was then. I wonder what he would tell me today.

Regardless, I don't think I took a wrong turn moving to Irvine. I think I could take one now, though, if I'm not careful. And I think that an important part of me has, for whatever reason, been submerged since I came here.

I think that's why I welcome a day like this, after all these months of heat and cloudless skies: I feel like I just woke up.

I've known for a while that I'm unhappy with my job, and I'm actively looking for somewhere else to be. (Hardly unique in that respect!) This past couple of months especially, I've been weighed down by resentment and frustration and negativity, and it's not just clouded my mind, it's turned it into a dank boiler room. But now I'm realizing it isn't just the job - it's me, and the way I've forgotten myself. I've been searching for something I don't actually...want. I'm just looking for more of the same thing that's keeping me casting wistful glances at the past. That Fortune 500 company I contract to? Will never actually hire me as long as I'm in my twenties, so frankly, it can take its money and shove it. I have only naked loathing for the idea that my life has to be half over before I'm worth anything. Blizzard? Charming place, but for as many times as I've pounded on that door and received only silence, maybe I should just leave that idea behind me, too.

I'm saying nothing new, shocking, or unencouraged when I say that what I really want to do is the same thing I wanted to do five years ago:

I want to write forever.

That feels really good to say again. (Helps that I already know what I'd like my magnum opus to be, too.)

As I say that, of course, I hear the night's first peal of thunder outside. It's not as simple as that, I know. Barring a lotto win, there's no way I can just drop it all and run, and I'm not that sort of person anyway. Knowing me, I may well "submerge" again tomorrow. This may just be one short waking moment in a night I still have to sleep through. I hope not, but then, I could use a little extra shuteye this week.

Even so, today, in all its drizzle and quiet, seems like it's been important for me. Almost like I could have picked it out of a month five years ago, come to think of it. I think I would have ranted into my journal about it back then, too.

Maybe it's encouraging enough that I still sound like myself.
@A203D Thank you for your message. I will never go back to Ivalice. I want to start working on a new project. thx :)

@HellishRomance It's not that I'm not interested, but actually doing it is something else.

One wonders just how many dream worlds have ended at the hands of a crass, bloodless corporate environment.  One wonders.


Finally watched Rurouni Kenshin: Shin Kyoto Hen, which I now believe translates loosely from Japanese as "Rurouni Kenshin: Steaming Pile of Monkey Shit."

These are dark days for anime.
I was looking through the Series Bible for Gargoyles the other night, as much to see how good writers can handle an ensemble cast as to remind myself that Angelfire still technically exists (!), and every time I read the Xanatos section, I have to smile.  They so obviously loved making this character.  Some of the lines that still catch my eye:

"David Xanatos is a man of extremes. He's extremely rich, extremely powerful, extremely arrogant. But more than that, he's extremely smart. You may hate him, but you'd be foolish not to respect him...in extreme amounts."

"Xanatos is not a mad dictator or a war-monger. He's not out to destroy humanity, take over the world or bring our system-of government and commerce crashing to the ground. Why would he want to? His success has seen no limit under the current system."

"What he can't take (i.e. our gargoyles and their obedience), he might destroy, less out of spite than to make sure it won't later be used against him. But he hates waste, so he wouldn't make the latter decision lightly. in Xanatos' opinion, he acquired Manhattan long ago. It's his town."

"He's smart enough to know he couldn't conquer in a toe to toe physical confrontation with Goliath. And he has nothing to prove by trying. But he might have a lot to gain by cheating. Or by using some of the technology his companies have created to win."

"...he doesn't often lose. But when he does, he doesn't throw a tantrum. He's highly confident in himself and is sure he'll triumph eventually. He simply moves on to the next plan. There are always contingencies."

"Goliath and the other gargoyles know that Xanatos is a formidable enemy, and they're learning that he can't be fought by tenth century means alone."

I can't begin to tell you how much I miss this magnificent bastard on my TV.

Quote of last month.

"You will have noticed that the Republican primary campaign has turned into a cautionary tale of Mutual Assured Destruction."
-- John J. Reilly