Monday, April 8, 2019

A Day in the Life

Eli T. Cat woke at approximately 3 a.m. She was not aware of the time, but she knew her human would be up soon. She jumped on his squishy ribs and made the noise. The noise made the human happy, and it was part of the essential barter she felt must be respected. Eli was a pragmatist.

The human might or might not respond to the ritual. Regardless, the price must be paid. Today she was in luck, the human woke up shortly after she offered her advance. The human went into the small room. The lights were bright and the up-high box was loud, but she didn't mind. Soon her efforts would bare fruit. She presented her anus for inspection, then jumped up to the uneven footing of her human's legs. She needed to use her claws for additional traction. Her human ungratefully hissed at her, but she knew this hiss was hollow. She gained her footing and began sniffing the human's torso.

After her human finished it's hygiene ritual it went into the quiet small room. It put it's extra fur on and returned to it's nest to apply it's paw fur. Eli loved playing with this paw fur, it dangled helplessly for a few moments, which gave opportunity for a well timed strike. The human would run it's high-up-paws on Eli's back before finishing it's fur application. Eli knew it was time.

Eli darted for the primary room. The human stumbled inelegantly to the food place. Eli waited on the near by perch. The human would place fresh crunches in one bowl, then run water over the squishy bowl of delicious. It would add more water to her fountain, and it was good.

Eli took a few bites of her squishy food, then turned her attention to the human. Would the human leave, or would it stay? Today the human left. Eli sat in the darkness, keeping an eye out for prey. Only the mostly still fuzzy balls were available today, but she knew one day they would skitter in prey-like fashion.

Later the human would return. The bright outside had not come back yet. The human took it's THIRD! layer of fur off it's paws and made it's greeting noise. Eli watched from her perch high above the human. She meowed an expectant greeting. The human climbed a few steps until it's head was just below hers. She presented her flank for worship. The human complied. Moments later Eli decided she had received enough adoration and she weaved her way back to the main room.

The human placed the glowing rectangle onto it's lap and began to stare at it. Eli grew bored and sought a hunt. The human scratched Eli's ears for a few moments, then the creature returned. The creature did not appear to be edible, but it was vexing! It darted across carpet, couch, and paw with impunity. It zigged this way and that. It ran up walls and across ceilings. Sometimes Eli could not reach it, but most of the time it remained a pounce away. It was an uncatchable prey, but she knew it would be back again later.

Eli returned to her perch. The birds began their song and she watched through the see-through wall as they fluttered to and fro. Eventually the brightness returned, and Eli fell asleep.

The human ran it's paw down Eli's neck and ribs. The human seemed to enjoy this ritual, and the sun was warm on her face. She let out a contented purr. The human went to the food place and retrieved some white sticks. The human would frequently share these sticks. Eli anticipated the human's habits and sat where it would return. The human picked her up, the presumption! Still, it had the white sticks. She sat next to it, expectantly. The human ate the stick, but left a mouthful of white creaminess in it's claws. Eli picked the morsel up and chomped greedily. The human kept it's paw under Eli's mouth, as if she would drop it!

The human ate another stick, and offered a mouthful to Eli. Eli lapped it up as the human withdrew it's paw. Eli dropped it in the folds of the human nest. She immediately reached a paw into the crevasse to retrieve it, but she was unable to pull it out. The human intervened to Eli's dismay. She bit at it's paw, latching on to the weird leg it didn't use to walk. The human offered Eli the cheese, and she took it again.

She decided it was time to hunt again. The only available prey was the human's fur-over-fur paws. The human knew to expect this, and it caught her up. Entangled in the human's weird not-legs, Eli found herself paw-up. Eli hated this position, and used every opportunity to demonstrate this to the human. The human didn't seem to notice. It pressed it's mouth into her belly, and onto her head. Whenever the human's not-legs would present itself she retaliated with claw and tooth.

The human released her. Eli returned to attacking the fur-over-fur paw. Eventually the elusive dot returned. She chased it around, following it's elusive pattern until she became bored. The dot eventually faded and Eli made herself at home on the human's nest. The human would periodically bother her with more stroking.

Eli decided to return to her nest in the sun, with the birds and squirrels. There she napped until the human made it's next move. Today the human went to the whirring room. There were many perches in this room that the human felt territorial over. Eli had not learned the rules the human kept here, but she decided the higher perches were rightfully hers.

Those perches had unstable and weird brikabrack in her way. She couldn't quite establish her nest there, even though it was prime real estate. She stood atop narrow branches of plastic noise-makers. She'd paw anything she could off these higher perches. The human appeared transfixed by it's whirring boxes, so she would be able to gain a foothold on the higher vista.

The clatter of the space-takers falling to the floor momentarily startled Eli, but the human was startled as well. Eli took the opportunity to establish her nest. The human quickly looked over to her and made a variety of noises. Eli did not care for those noises, she knew she must entrench her claim.

Invariably the human used it's not-legs to return her to the floor. The brickabrack would be reset and the human would return to it's whirring box. Frustrated, Eli bit his feet and darted back to watch the last vestiges of the bright see-through wall. Different birds sang their songs, and the squirrels hid away. Eli claimed the human's bright-time nest and napped contentedly.

Eventually the human scooped her up and carried her to it's dark-time nest. Eli took advantage of the human's warmth for a while, before stalking off for her evening hunt. Crinkley paper and jingly balls were distraction enough until she decided it was time to start the ritual anew.

Alone in the North Woods

I am a bit hesitant to post this. I feel like this blog is an effort to be transparent, but I'm afraid people might take this seriously. This short story (consisting of 4 paragraphs, that feels a bit grandiose) is an idle fancy. A fantasy constructed of negativity, not actual desires. Writing it out made me feel a bit better. My hope is reading it will help some other isolated soul feel less alone.

Alone in the North Woods

He takes highway 8 north past Laona, into the forests of northern Wisconsin. His red Corolla is paid off and reliable. He finds a side rode and he follows it around a bend. He sees no mailboxes out here. He will be alone.

He pulls off to the side of the gravel lane and opens the trunk. He retrieves his duffel bag, and his shovel. He walks with a measured gate, attempting dignity. He finds a spot with a few dozen paces between trees. He digs. He digs until he is exhausted.

He opens a bottle of water from his bag, and runs it over his hands. He scrubs them clean, then pulls out a folded towel, wrapped around something heavy. He dries his hands and drinks the remaining water. He puts the towel down next to the hole. He finds two envelopes in the duffel bag. One is a request and payment for whoever eventually comes across this, the other is for the police. He will leave this stranger with a choice. He doesn't want to be an inconvenience, to be demanding, even now. He puts the envelopes under a river-worn rock.

He takes the duffel back to the car and closes the trunk. He returns to his spot and stabs the spade into a mound of dirt on one end. He sits in his hole. He pulls as much of the dirt as he can onto himself. He unfolds the towel and places the gun on his chest. He hangs the towel over his head, using sticks to weigh the edges in place. He doesn't want anyone to have to see what comes next. The smooth barrel of the pistol is slightly cool against his temple.

Sunday, February 10, 2019

How to disappear completely (OR: Selfish dick processes the death of a childhood companion)

I struggle with depression. When it's bleak I sometimes like to fade away, just to see if anyone notices. No one does. I think if I took vacation time at work it would be at least a month before anyone checks on me. The bank would notice I'm not paying my mortgage first, I think. Maybe there's some algorithm they run that would detect all my bills are not getting paid at once, triggering a foreclosure process - complete with clean up crew dispatch to protect their interest in the property. Something about the idea of an unfeeling bureaucracy dealing with my remains is comforting. But the point is it would be a while before anyone realized I was gone. Edit: I just realized this probably isn't true anymore. I have a weekly d&d group who would notice my absence in 5-14 days. Yay progress! (?)

I've put effort into correcting this; but there's a fundamental something I just don't get. It's why I think I might have Asperger's. Something about me puts people off. Something about people tends to put me off. I don't think it's something I'll ever fix.

One of my closest relatives is in the process of passing away. I should qualify that. We were very close as children. My summers were almost entirely coupled with him. We grew apart, made different choices that gave us different attitudes on life. It happens. Friday night he did something that killed him. He was still alive when someone found him Saturday morning. I had gotten the news early Saturday afternoon.

This man, who I looked down on for most of his life, had someone who cared enough to check on him in hours. I still firmly believe he was a deeply flawed individual; and the circumstances of his demise does nothing to refute that opinion. But in that one way, he was better than me.

A few months ago he hit me up, asking for help paying off a fine before it turned into a warrant; triggering a parole violation. He had built up a reputation in the family for asking for money. I didn't have the money sitting in my bank account, and his time table was tight. I suppose I could have pawned some stuff or taken a cash advance on a credit card, but in the moment I knew I wouldn't see the money again, and I knew he'd be back for more. I knew he would break another law, get himself in more trouble, and what I did wouldn't change that trajectory. I didn't think about how hard it must have been to ask me in that instance, after decades of not asking for anything from me. I didn't think about how alone he must have felt when I turned him down. I didn't see myself in him. That failure of empathy is going to stick with me for the rest of my life.

I'll miss the 7 year old I swam, explored the woods, climbed the bluffs, and played on the train tracks with. Our relationship wasn't remarkable, but it was part of the foundation of who I became. I wish it worked the same for him.

Sunday, December 30, 2018

Music for 2018

My favorite romantic comedy is High Fidelity. I'm old. I get it. In the spirit of Cusack, I'm going to make a list of music that helped me through 2018. You will find various rock and metal acts, some electronica, and even a smidgen of hip-hop. Google Music, YouTube, and Spotify playlists for your listening pleasure, including honorable mentions that I did not write a blurb about. Most of these songs are on incredible albums, so album names are included. Ready? Let's do it.

10. Fiona Apple - Tidal - Slow Like Honey  "You remember me like a melody. Yeah, I'll haunt the world inside you." Fiona is a master of sultry, silky jazz that bites like a kitten wrapped in razor wire. Feeling wistful? Fiona has been there, and she will show you the way through it.

9. King Buffalo - Longing to Be the Mountain - Eye of the Storm This chorus-heavy meditation builds from a sleepy Sunday morning to an evening star gazing session, to a peyote fueled bonfire, to a crescendo of snowboarding too fast down a run that's just a little too advanced for you then suddenly you're back at the bonfire, flirting with that girl and it's going really well. I'm a big fan of movement in songs, and Eye of the Storm goes places.

8. Muse - Simulation Theory - Pressure This was the year where I finally got past Matt Bellamy's voice and started to appreciate Muse. It didn't hurt that Pressure smacks of my favorite Queens of the Stone Age attitudes. The guitar pushing a sweet little melody through the ands makes every measure a joy. The music videos for this album are charming, and you should check them out.

7. Helms Alee - Sleepwalking Sailors - Tumescence This song, this band, isn't concerned with polish. They are the ocean mid-storm, they are the sirens perched atop bloodied crags, they are the captain raging against his failure. They are perfect.

6. Flying Lotus - You're Dead! - Never Catch Me (Featuring Kendrick Lamar) Flying Lotus has been a constant trip-hop mainstay for over a decade. His smooth, tranquil melodies paired with Kendrick Lamar's frantic rhymes are a sight to behold. Then Flying Lotus lays a groove that puts drum and bass and glitch artists to shame. Never doubt Flying Lotus.

5. Ghost of Paraguay - On The Run EP - The Swan This track is beautiful, low key ambiance. When I needed to find myself. When I needed to get firm footing while I was off balance. When I needed to see the beauty in melancholy, Ghost of Paraguay had my back.

4. The Glitch Mob - See Without Eyes - Enter Formless I would go to clubs more if I could expect to hear Glitch Mob. Enter Formless invokes the spirit of dance music without being dancable. The beat is subtly complicated, and flirts with dubstep while staying clear of the genre's more obnoxious aspects.

3. The Sword - Apocryphon - Cloak of Feathers The Sword captures what I think the standard of Rock and Roll should be. A detractor might say that description makes them sound generic, but they are incorrect. Their song writing belies danger, sexiness, adventure, triumph, and strength. The Sword knows exactly what they're doing, and they do it better than most of what I hear.

2. Carpenter Brut - TRILOGY - Le perv Dark, squarewave, retro futuristic, driving, determined. TRILOGY is there for any journey through flickering streetlights and neon hypnosis. Carpenter Brut delivers on Daft Punk's promises.

1. Red Fang - Murder The Mountains - Wires My 2018 was dominated by Red Fang. If I had to pick one song out of their beautiful discography, Wires would be the one. "It's hard to believe but I can see how there could be so little left to lose. Momma's not okay, she lights a candle every day that you're away. Today could be the one that burns the mother fucker down, the final act of grace." Everyone knows that feeling of rock bottom. Everyone knows that feeling of concern to the point of anger. The longing lead guitar backed by the determined rhythm guitar and the bombs-away bass paint a picture of a hellish trench battlefield reluctantly braved by a confused boy who wants nothing more than the safety of his loved ones. Red Fang consistently sets out with intent, delivers on it, and do so with a smile and jabbing elbow that lets you know that the darkness is ephemeral.

Most Disappointing: If you had told me I'd make a list like this in a year a new Perfect Circle album came out, and that I wouldn't include anything from that album I'd have called you crazy. Yet here we are. The Eat The Elephant fell flat for me. In a world where social media shares and elevates seemingly considered opinions, Maynard's take on the world doesn't seem all that special. Maynard's appeal to me has always been his ability to speak to the human condition, and to do so with humor, metaphor, and artifice. This album did none of that, and it leaves me concerned for the next Tool record.

Friday, December 28, 2018

Wellness Update - 12-28-18

Now Playing: Giant Bomb - Game of the Year 2018 Deliberations
Now Drinking: Coke zero. I'll probably start drinking in a few hours.

Social: Oddly a lot of my focus was here last week. I had a coffee date last Thursday. It was ... weird. I didn't get any negative vibes from her, still haven't, but we went from constant texting to like... she'll reply if I say something. She calls me 'hon,' and doesn't say 'no' if I invite her to things but... hasn't done anything with me since. I'm talking to a couple ladies from various dating sites, got some numbers, but I'm not super excited about any of them. They all seem nice. New friends, I guess.

D&D didn't happen this week. Neither did Gloomhaven. I'm not 100% that Gloomhaven is coming back. Guess we'll see what happens next week. A friend that isn't consistent with her interest in RPGs has expressed an interest in playing. If a night frees up I might get back into Encounters/Pathfinder Society. That could be fun.

I finally got a table. I'm having people over Monday. There's some static between a friend and an ex, they're both planning to come. It's going to be a small gathering so... I'm a bit worried about it. I'm working on applying diplomacy now.

Financial: Just paid my bills for the month, threw my bonus and a little more at my credit card. I dunno that I completely undid the damage buying my table and chairs caused, but it's better than letting it linger. My budgeting software reports I'm getting closer to breaking even, and then I can start paying things down super hard. I'm pretty sure that's how it works.

Exercise: Steps are still up. I did a set of rows this week, will probably do more tonight. I think I'm back on the train.

Weight Loss: I maintained, as expected. I'm trying to get back in to ketosis, but I've got a suspicion I'll have a few beers and some pizza on Monday. I do not want to weigh more on 1/1 than I do today. Hopefully I'll weigh less.

Friday, December 21, 2018

Wellness Update - 12/21/18

Now Playing: My Favorite Murder #152/Giant Beastcast #187
Now Drinking: Coke Zero

Weight Loss: I've been staying steady for the most part. I had some big travel for work this week which was enough of an excuse to break my diet. I'll probably cheat again for Christmas. I was hopeful that I'd be a lot lower now, but I suppose holding steady through the holidays is better than nothing.

Social: Tuesday night most of my D&D group got together to play a card game at Fantasy Flight.

I had a strange day last Saturday that left me feeling very isolated. As if the universe was listening to me Tinder, OKCupid, and Facebook messenger lit up. I had one... date? last night. we went out for coffee and went for a walk. It was over in under an hour. We had been chatting on Snap pretty consistently all week. But after we met up she seems less engaged. That sucks.

A person I met a few months ago hit me up. She's invited me to an outing next month, and she's coming over in after my table arrives to play some games.

Another woman hit me up on OKCupid. She seems pretty cool, but I'm not sure there's any physical chemistry there. She left town for Christmas, but I suspect we'll meet up when she gets back.

Fiscal: I had money left over after my last paycheck. I've had some low key anxiety about it all week. Nothing has exploded yet, so I suppose I'm okay to pay down some credit cards.

Exercise: I wasn't great about rows this week, I still haven't shook this cough. My step count is still up, so that's positive.

Creative: The last few weeks haven't had a lot of guitar playing. However, to make room for my new table I sold my big dumb Peavy amp and got a super cool little Orange micro amp. I'm pretty sure I've played it more in the last 12 hours than I played the Peavy in the last 6 months. I'll put a video up here when I record one that I am happy with.

Friday, December 14, 2018

Wellness Update - 12/14/18

Now Playing: King City - Slow Season
Now Drinking: Coke Zero and Water, not mixed. Obviously.

Social Life: Nonexistent this week. I got sick, canceled Tuesday plans. I did meet up with a friend briefly yesterday. Started making more of an effort to be involved in the local Pokemon Go community. Maybe that'll pay dividends later. My D&D game was good, but I think I'm about done being a player. The guy who's running this thinks there's two-four more sessions left. I'm kind of anxious to get back in the DM's chair.

Tomorrow I'm going to a buddy's place. Should be a couple regulars there.

Exercise: Is coughing an exercise? That's about all I did. I've upped my step count a bit this week, but I'm still way low. I've gotten to the point where I feel like I'm in shape, but that clearly isn't true yet. I noticed anytime fitness is open 24/7 and they're getting a branch a few blocks from me. That'd be great for insomnia nights, but I haven't had one of those in a bit. I'm holding out hope that the Lifetime Fitness that's coming in a few months will be 24/7. I sorta doubt it will be. I guess I'll wait until after the New Years gym rush is over and make a decision then.

Overall: Everything else has been pretty flat due to sickness.