I’m being haunted by the good ghosts of 1997.

Two weeks ago, I got the itch to build a new desktop wallpaper for my laptop to replace the current one which has been there for a few months. I saw something that day that evoked a voice I’ve let sit silent, and I wanted to wake up that voice and weave it into something good. That voice spoke of an image I drew in November ’97 when I was in the throes of hungry creativity during my two-month stint of hardscrabble unemployment in North Carolina. During those two months, I wrote poetry, I drew art, I listened to music, I met people, I had a new relationship with an awesome girl. Even without a job, I was producing. I was in the springtime of my life.

The vision was to use this drawing, a box with circular vines weaving in and out of the box, in a layered tableau of drawing, ripped paper, a cherry branch, a few vines curling around, stick pins, all softly front-lit and backed up by a textured background. I could do everything in Pov-ray, but I needed a scan of that drawing. I remember scanning it some time back in ’99, so I searched my hard drive and all my backups for the image. It was nowhere. Disappeared to the ether. So my only option was to scour my room for the drawing and attempt to rescan it.

In my search, I managed to unearth a treasure. I found my birth certificate. Found some more poetry from North Carolina. Found a stack of love letters. Finally, I found it: the drawing, and all of the drawings I had created and compiled between late 1997 and 2000. Bingo.

I was really, really into vines, banners, fineals, things draping from suspended bars, very fine lines, crosshatching. Still kinda am. I had several mechanical drawing pens, and I used them with much attention on making the most miniscule drawings. I would fixate on an image for hours, touching here, shading there until I was satisfied. It was like sex. After all the work, something beautiful would be created.

In the span of a few hours, I had dug out and set up the scanner on a very obsolete computer and I rifled through my stack of drawings to find the best ones to scan and commit to pixels. Spent some time the next day cleaning up the vine box drawing while listening to Nine Inch Nails and Rush concert dvds. I was happy. For the first time in a while, I was happy again. Not just the memories that returned while I meditated on my art, but there was the happiness from meditating on art itself. Having a mind quiet enough to draw. And it was there that the Eros returned.

If life is not lived to create, then it is a lie. I can’t get any more truthful than that. The reason we are here is to create things that will outlive us. And I’m feeling that drive again, like it is the springtime of my life. I am insane for having kept the voice of the muse silent for so long.

Kind of shameful, really, that I kept quiet, but I kept quiet because of the shame; an endless cycle. I had created so much that the amount of crap scaled upwards with the output and I started seeing it; instead of loving all my babies, I hid them away and stopped producing. I heard the voices, the wrong voices, in the coffeeshops, on the message forums, in the channels, rambling about talentless hacks who take themselves too seriously, and that had a very chilling effect on me. I stopped producing and it became winter. The Very Long Pause.

I’m not finished with this image yet, but I will be soon. I worked on it all day yesterday and spent today taking care of necessary things instead. I don’t want to be done with the voice when I’m done with the image. I want to keep drawing, keep writing poetry, get back into music, keep speaking with that voice, the muse. To emote. To love again. To take my failures and abortions in stride as I keep up the creativity. To be a producer.

I’ve been living a lie. It’s time to speak the truth.

Update (Feb 3, 2008) The image is finished. I put the final touches on it a few days ago, and now comes the time to share. Enjoy!

Getting Over It

I am finally getting over my cold. We broke up a few days ago. She tried to hook me up with her sister Bronchitis, but I said “NO! I’m not interested. Let’s just pretend to be friends and never call each other ever again.” I’m also getting over my angry cough; for two nights it’s been getting me up at 3am in a fit of dream-coughing that gets so bad I wake up and have to do something about it. Disrupts my sleep. But I take some robo, double up my pillows to elevate my head, and make another pass at sleep. Maybe tonight will prove successful.

Work is hectic. My department is in the middle of a move to the new campus, so my coworkers and I have been pulling crap out of the corners, piling papers, sorting them into stacks, and then throwing away all the stacks. Every wire, cable, heat sink, component, processor, screw, server, everything has to be sorted, returned to its place and packed up by 5pm next wednesday. So far, it’s all a clusterfuck: trying to motivate and organize a department of ~75 people to get their stuff straight, and trying to get the movers to understand what we need moved, and trying to have all parties communicate what actually has to happen (versus what people think needs to happen) is a herculean effort. AND my coworker and I have to keep producing numbers. So, when all our equipment is over in the new campus across town, we’ll be with our test servers and offline test equipment in the old campus trying to do our work for two days, and then we’ll pack it all up and carry it all across town.

Predicting a huge pain in the ass.

While writing this, I remembered that I needed to update my timesheet, so I tabbed over to my Google Notes page to note the time I left today. What the hell…when I clicked on the note that contained all my clock-in/clock-out times for this week, the note disappeared. Deleted. So I clicked “Undo”, and the note came back, then I clicked on the note again to select it for editing…it deleted again. So I clicked “Undo”. It didn’t come back. It wasn’t in the deleted bin. It just…vanished. What the hell. All my timepoints lost, and I hadn’t had the chance to enter it all into my real timesheet app. So, I tried to remember and re-entered everything.

Maybe I should not be so trusting. Maybe if I say “Google sucks!” they’ll find this entry in their results for the search “Google sucks” (companies have departments that do this) and they’ll contact me to see what they can do to help make it right. Maybe I should file a bug report. Maybe I should just get over it.

I hate computers.

Year-end Egress Into Infirmity

So yeah, I’m sick. Thanks.

My year, 2007, was punctuated by eleven days off; holiday work closure encompassing seven working days and two weekends. I planned to use this time for loafing, for projects, for doing what the hell pops into my mind; then my mother called to tell me she was coming down for a visit, to which I agreed. It was nice having family come visit me for a holiday for once; enough of going to visit them every year. I love that woman to death – I mean, c’mon, she’s my mom. But I don’t know how to tell her to not stay so long. Seven days. I asked around trying to divine what kind of protocol there is for telling family that they are welcome but only for a certain time. The answer comes back, resoundingly, that nobody knows how to do it. There is no protocol.

She says she’s a homebody; she’ll be fine just sitting and watching TV and that I can go out and do whatever. I can come and go as I please because it’s my house. I say bullshit to that. If I were to have done just that, I would’ve heard no end of it. “I come to visit, and you hang out elsewhere.” It won’t work. When I have a guest, my sole duty is to entertain the guest. I’m always on set. Little down time. People don’t understand that about me. If you’re in my house, I am your host. What I have going on has to be suspended. Maybe that’s an immature way to look at it. Maybe I’m taking the role of servitude. I don’t know. But that’s how it happens.

I learned an apt phrase a decade ago. “The hardest thing for a man to do is to disguise his feelings as he puts a load of relatives on the train for home.”

So she left friday morning, travelled safely, and got back home. I rested. That evening, I sat at Epoch and had coffee. Tried to get some work done; tried to pick back up where I had left off a week prior, and had no luck. I couldn’t think clearly, got a little angsty. I left there around 10 and started driving because I clearly didn’t want to be in the four walls of my own apartment. I drove around town, ended up on Highway 290W, and drove out to Oak Hill. I kept driving.

Seventy minutes later I was in Fredericksburg, Texas. I had no suitcase, no toiletries, no change of clothes, but I rented a room and spent the night. It was really nice to get away. To punctuate the stressful week with my own diversion. Complete seat-of-the-pants. I didn’t care. That’s the kind of shit I wanted to do the entire break; completely live without schedule, without demands, and finally I was able to do it, but damn did I do it big.

I got up that morning and did the tourist thing. The downtown area was kinda neat, but in a 1960’s crafts fair kind of way. Tons of middle-class white people dropping money everywhere. I had a nice wurst sandwich, got a taste of the local German culture, walked around and took pictures. Sort of went around as a floating eye and soaked it in. I left after it all got too white and made it back to Austin at 3pm.

Spent the remaining days of 2007 just doing what felt right. Completely relaxed, turned off to necessity. Tried to regain myself and my own initiative. Took a right turn on my main website project and decided to backtrack and retool, but it’s still not so successful.

I should learn by now that I can’t get any work done at Epoch. It’s fucking impossible. I can sit down, open the laptop, and hunker down for work. And then someone will stop by the table, say hi. Someone will walk by and decide to chat, or join me. And out the door goes my attention. Programming is a tough task; takes focus. And there is no focus when someone visits; it’s broken and not so easily retrieved.

So last night, I got called out to a New Year’s Eve party at a friend’s place. I obliged. Took the remains of my rum bottle, a bottle of cola, and headed out the door. Had a great time at the party. It was quiet, mild. We had a ton of fireworks but because of the red flag warning we chose to stick to firecrackers and roman candles. Well, the roman candles were a bad, very bad idea. It took two stray flaming balls to prove to us what a tinderbox the tall grass next to the road actually was. No sooner did the balls land in the grass and start going out, the grass burst into flames. We were sober enough, luckily, to stomp it out and decide to not do roman candles again.

I didn’t get drunk; didn’t even get buzzed, but I got relaxed. That’s what counts, really. About 4 shots of rum, a lot of water, and a glass of champaign and I was still sober. Went to bed around 3. An alright night indeed.

But this morning; fucking hell. Now I’m reminded why I shouldn’t drink. The alcohol was just enough to kill off all the germs that were keeping the bad germs at bay. When I woke up, my throat was on fire. I’m all scratchy, phlegmatic, and getting stopped up in the head. Fucking hell. An ok end to the year leads me into the lair of the illness dragon to start the new year off in the worst of ways. And now I have to go back to work tomorrow morning. Damn.

Happy effing new year, dammit.