Cold Fire

At the end of this Christmas holiday, I had some time to be outside and feel the crisp air on my cheeks. The cold weather tonight is knocking loose a few odd memories, particularly this nugget from the year 1984 which, dare I say, is the golden age of heavy metal and hard rock.

Dokken wasn’t exactly a band I followed religiously. They were on the radio for a span of time during my formative teenage years. But, taken out of context, their lyrics are fuel for all of the Satan-rock street preachers who had screamed for our rapt attention in that era. There were so many bands out who played up the Satanic connection just to increase their magnitude and pump sales. Unfortunately, most of the kids in my world (and some adults, sadly) bought into it and thought they were the real deal; the same kind of chumps who would carve “666” into their schoolbooks and think they were summoning the Dark Lord himself.

Really, “Into the Fire” was the inner struggle of a man that keeps running back to a bad lover who burns him on every touch. Image notwithstanding, that’s basically all it is; a bad relationship that he won’t let die. But the over-the-top music production, the expensive video, and everything about the entire product screams excess, waste, and sex for the sake of itself.

That sound still sticks with me decade after decade.

And don’t get me started about “Dream Warriors” — that’s wedged so deep into my psyche, it’s soothing to the touch.

Holy Season?

I am not Christian, so I do not celebrate the birth of Christ.
I am not Jewish, so I do not burn nine candles when one will suffice.
I am not Druid, so I do not decorate evergreen trees with charms.
I am not Wiccan, so I do not celebrate the impregnation of the Moon Goddess and mourn the death of the Sun God.
I am not Dutch, so I do not anticipate a visit from Sinterklaas or fear the arrival of Krampus.
I am not Viking, so I do not burn an oak Yule log or sacrifice a boar to the god of farming.
I am not African, so I do not adorn myself in kente cloth.
I am not Roman, so I do not celebrate Saturnalia.
I am not a Consumer, so I do not buy gifts for friends and family as placebo for doing so year-round.

Please tell me, again, why I should be required to celebrate this holiday?

That being said, I do enjoy some of the ritual of the season; feasting with friends, getting drunk when the time is right. Hell, I’ll sometimes drive around and look at the christmas lights on neighborhood houses. Otherwise? Sorry, pal.

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.

Xmas Day in Hindsight

My 10-hour nap is over, and I feel like hell. I really don’t know how you couchsurfers can do it. I slept on the couch here and my back feels like one of those turkish windmill knots that scouts earn merit badges for learning. But I got some sleep, and now that I’ve gotten up and have gotten online, I’m feeling much better. More sane. More like something resembling a human.

Ok. Our Christmas morning went rather well. I gave my mother the album “Cow Pie Blues” from Willie Nelson and a paperback how-to on screenwriting. She was thoroughly ecstatic about her gifts. I was worried, actually, about if she’d like the Willie Nelson disc. All I remember was that years ago, before she started listening to country music, that she’d poke fun of Willie and say things like “Willie Nelson? Eww, gross!” Now she totally digs him. So I’m happy. And her screenwriting book promises to give her most of what she needs to know about the mechanics and preparation of writing a screenplay, which is what she had major worries about. I wish her the best of luck on her writing endeavors.

To my sister, her husband, and their family, I gave DVDs this year. For the grownups, I gave “Bicentennial Man”, which I still haven’t seen and they haven’t heard of. From what I’ve been told, it was a good movie; not as long as “AI” which came out around the same time, but good in the “sad but heartwarming way”. And, for the kids, I got them “Spy Kids”, which they’ve seen on VHS, but now they get to watch whatever special features are on the disc. My sister was completely surprised that all three movies in the “Spy Kids” series were shot and made in Austin.

And that’s basically all the gifts I gave. Bah bumhug. :)

So, yeah, after getting something resembling 3 hours of sleep last night, I had to lay down for a nap this afternoon. I was sitting on the couch watching the TechTV version of “Battlebots” and suddenly it hit me. I was out like a light. Over the course of the evening, I woke up enough to relieve my backpain by moving into a different laying position. This went on until 2:30am, when I finally woke up enough to say, “Y’know, I really should wake up some time, but why does it have to be now when everyone else is asleep? Damn.”

So here I am, it’s almost 4am, everyone but the pets are sleeping, and I’m wide awake and in need of a shower, some food, and a little bit of company.

Ah well. I’ll try to snap some quickcam shots around town and post them. I haven’t seen much of the town on this trip, but I already see some snapworthy crap. Feh.

Ok. Later.