Archive for November, 2010

November 26, 2010


thanksgiving came and went with good company and cheer. a company largely made of strangers, but warm like friends i’ve yet to make. it felt as if it could be the shape of things to come; every day here strengthens the thought that i might someday move to vermont to continue down the path of comics more seriously.
i’ve recently moved into what feels like the best house i’ve landed in my seven years in portland. my housemate is agreeable and my workspace is more functional than ever before. when i received the keys it seemed like the point upon which the future turned; it was the motion of renewing my decision to stay. now i feel it might have been something else: the deep breath before the final act. like a two-parter doctor who finale, saving the best for last. i couldn’t have known it then, but catching a glimpse of this other life has put things in quite a different light.
i would not be myself if i made any decisions right away. not my way. but as something to work towards, even a mere possibility, is something worth storing.
in the meantime, there are leftovers to be had.

November 23, 2010

the delights of uncertainty

in vermont. or new hampshire. it is a novelty unto itself how quickly these lines are traversed here.
i began to feel it when the 737 was in descent over boston. from above the city – assuming the glowing, incandescent protozoa that i was seeing was indeed central boston – looked foreign and wondrous and new. the gridlike simplicity of my hometown set the scene for infinite contrast.
the town of white river junction is home to roughly 2,000 people. it is also home to the center for cartoon studies, of which my host is alumni. notions of a school borne in my mind as one thing were quickly shattered when i beheld it: a modest building, indistinct from its neighbors, along the central strip of main street. a few classrooms and lecture halls, a downstairs shared workspace, and no more save for a few ancillary buildings nearby.

after a day i felt that i had more or less seen all that the town had to offer. there was the polka dot diner mere feet from the coffeeshop, with their fantastic chocolate cream puffs. there was a pizza place, above which lived css students and faculty. the railroad cut through the middle much like the willamette river defined my own city. there was a path leading under the tracks, the charles schultz comic library, the road leading away. i think living here would necessarily induce a kind of madness that would either drive you to flee or convince you never to leave.

this morning i hopped a bus into hanover on a quest to find a new moleskine and explore some of the outlying towns. i got off at what felt like the heart of it; facing me was the old world glory of dartmouth college, with its red brick and dead poets society atmosphere. i think there is no greater happiness than walking through a strange place for the first time; a place that, regardless of history or fame, is utterly foreign to you. these impressions last only hours at best, when each step is without precedent and each building is a wonder undreamt of. out here you become aware more sharply than usual that time can be as fluid and nonexistent as you like: there is history to be stepped into at will, and movement is optional.
the journey into boston itself is still to come; i may or may not return to hanover in my stay. there is plenty still i have to see. plenty still to stir that most exquisite of feelings, that of not knowing.

November 20, 2010

idiot, slow down

being sick lends itself to despair. like any downward spiral worth its salt, physical deterioration acts as icing on the cake to all the other shit that isn’t going so well. it certainly doesn’t incline me to write. let me be many things, but let me not be one who whines in a blog.
a week ago craig thompson and company came into my restaurant. they’d been in earlier in the evening, but like many others had been deterred at the hour wait i quoted them. i get star struck around a few people and he is one of them. they returned on the heels of a hectic night and despite usual trends things were picking up in the post-10pm late night dining area. my internal clock was slowing; when i saw craig and his party return through the front door i was determined to keep them there, whatever it took. the evening had worn me down and in that moment of seeing him come back, disparate elements – mostly fatigue and the sense of having more to do than one can do – converged in my brain and i lost myself. i remember proclaiming that the wait was over and that i could seat them immediately, and feeling locked in a mild panic/urge to get them taken care of. many times i’ve been busy and i move fast when i have to – nothing new. but after the dust had settled it was pointed out to me that unless the restaurant was on fire, i shouldn’t run through the restaurant like i had just done.
i had no recollection of having full-out run, but there it was. all those little elements came together and i lost my shit, if just for five minutes.
now the sickness has mostly burned through me and i’ve returned to work. while i was functional i felt myself still subdued; my mind was quiet in the way that a blocked pipe is quiet and i moved no faster than was absolutely necessary. when it got busy i mostly just let it happen. i didn’t have the energy to run; i’m not sure it would have made much difference in the end even if i had.

November 17, 2010

fuse blows

each day i go through the same routines. in the mornings i make puer tuocha tea in a 20oz glass beijing teapot and put a record on and sit at the drawing table and write. the fact of repetitive behavior is a good thing – every step lessens the overall significance of each day and alleviates the mental pressure to produce something extraordinary. after the first pot my brain has started spinning normally. writing by hand is slow; tethering the mind to its speed is hard to do.
at some point the gears shift and my thoughts move from gentle reflection to manic possibility, ideas for projects and wikipedia articles and library books to read come in fast and hard. i taught myself a while back to be open to things – lesson one is turning off internal judgments – and so take some pleasure when i begin to race like this. the iphone has become a godsend in this way, for its ability to act as a surrogate brain/repository for homeless ideas whose lifespan would otherwise be mere seconds. the signal to noise ratio is generally dreadful in a manic state; things make sense only to the one caught in the blur and it feels like only a matter of time before something breaks binary binary binary binary bin-
in the middle of it you feel invincible. but you know, in your gut, that you’re heading for a crash.

November 14, 2010

good christ i am ridiculous

i think a good deal about composition. this came initially from my interest in and experience with comics, but it has seeped into the way i look at most other things. my bedroom and office are arranged based on the objects within them, and upon their intended purpose; if something is lacking i will mentally begin planning trips to secondhand stores or plotting bimonthly rearrangement sessions to maximize utility.
in my room there is a master desk, home to the computer; there is the bed, and there is a small round table which houses a chess set, a rubik’s cube, and some overflow books. it sits by the window because that allows a good bit of distance from the bed – you always want the bed to have its own space, that the other things in the room might better retain a functional identity – and it is pleasingly symmetrical to look at upon entering. the bed was recently relocated to heighten this distinction.
but i struggle with the need for a decent bedside table.
i pulled out my measuring tape to gauge the ideal height for such a table. roughly 22 inches. next i logged onto ikea’s website to check for options (mentally weighing the time it would take to bus out there tomorrow against the worthiness of the act), before my gut passed final judgment that an ikea table would be all wrong for the room. i made a note to myself to head to the rebuilding center in the morning instead.
before giving up i attempted one more angle by pulling one of my plastic trash tubs out from the office and covering it with bookbinding board. the height was good. a candleholder sat stably on it. it wasn’t the most sustainable model, but it was cheap as free.
i lay there in the dark and my eyes fell on the chess set coffee table across the room, untouched for days on end…
if anything has come of growing older it is the reduction of time between insanity and the moment i say oh fuck this and knock it off. i pulled the damned round table to my bedside. it is perfect.

November 13, 2010

why we are here

i started this blog because i’d become sanctimonious about the entire blogging process, huddled over moleskines and scowling at the twitter and facebook crowds. taking it too far and rejecting out of hand the validity of any kind of reflection or sharing that involves my day to day life. i also started it because i’ve been using the recoveringmale handle for most of my digital life. no more.
my hope is to write often, without much forethought or pretense, and thereby avoid my own bad habits of moralizing and going for big grand statements. life is surely worth examining, and i’ve been holed up inside my judgmental tower for a little too long. my growing distaste for humanity and its habits have manifested in a near-complete lack of empathy, and a subsequent lack of ability to see things from any perspective not my own.
i remember the turning point, years back, when writing on Blogger went from free and easy to something more sinister. i turned from writing for myself to writing for a perceived audience. one of the undeniable effects of sites like facebook and twitter is that the high degree of interaction (and the nebulous fact of ‘friends/followers’) tangibly modifies one’s behavior and expression. it taints an otherwise pure impulse. therefore i have disabled comments on this new blog; i am going to write in it and you can read it if you want to.

November 12, 2010

let’s regenerate

i’ve been talking to myself more than usual. hello.