Wednesday, February 24, 2010

They call me Mr. Clean

Cleaning up is a broad term when you get right down to it. Spic-and-Span doesn't always help to the job (well, unless you inject it or something), as not all things require a sponge and a bucket of water. Sometimes, what you need is just an unstoppable drive to get things done.

I am a self-called Cling-on, that is, I have a tendency to not only gather, but keep stuff around, for all kinds of reasons. Its not so much hoarding, as I can very well not pick up things, and I like to be able to walk around on the floor without having to step on and over piles of unknown material. Its not to say that I'm a well-ordered man, but I'm working on it.

Part of the motivation with my current drive has to do with the unplanned break that I was obliged to take this summer. Given the circumstances, stuff piled up, more so than usual, so that by the time I was able to start dealing with it, well, I had my work cut out for me. And even then, the primary motivation was just to return things to normal.

But normal isn't good enough.

I started being more aware of my creative limitations, that is, how little I had been creating in the last few years. I noticed that when I was quite a bit poorer, I could produce more, my output was better in quantity (the quality I'll leave to others to judge) and I was far more driven to create. So I started asking myself, what's stopping me?

And the answer is... stuff. I had lots of stuff. Way more than I needed, way more than was necessary, way more than was rational. I had been accumulating stuff of all kinds, because I could see some possibilities in them, because I figured that they would come in handy, because they were cool toys, because... well, I made up a lot of reasons to gather all that stuff, and then keep it.

But there was no real need behind it. I had already learned a related lesson, in the one creative field I had kept active all this time, in the kitchen. I had learned and hardwired a lesson a while back, about failed dishes: if its screwed up, throw it away. While it still be edible, it doesn't mean that you have to eat it, I dont care what those green folks are saying. So why not transfer that lesson to the rest of my existence?

So that is what I have been doing, in increments, in small dosages, one little bit at a time.Its not necessarily an easy task; you have to put your mind to it. But once you do, you'll realize that all you were doing is holding yourself back, and making due with what you have, which is well enough if your finances or your situation restricts you, but not good enough if you are not restrained to the same degree anymore. And once you kick it into gears, not only are you skimming off the unnecessary gear, but other more efficient solutions come up in your thought pattern and you end up not only better off than before, in a slimmer package, but you have a more efficient way of life too.

I thought that I needed a bigger apartment; I was wrong. I need a better apartment, and I have to rearrange my mind to fit into it.

And get rid of the mountains of... stuff.

Monday, February 22, 2010

Do more, use less

I'll come out and say it, I'm a lazy ass. Well, not so much lazy, but a pretty effective procrastinator. And an ass. Sometimes.

The biggest problem with being a procrastinator, is that, in my case, I'm also a fairly ambitious creative procrastinator. That is, I do not procrastinate because I'm avoiding doing the house chores, or looking for a job, or any of that stuff. Okay, so I procrastinate about doing my chores. And I'm not the most proactive job seeker in town. Mind you, I have some good reasons, like not actually needing to work for the time being, yet I get paid anyways. Which may be part of the problem.

The problem is really a mental process; procrastination is the art of finding reasons to delay the inevitable, at least as far as concrete actions are concerned. Laziness is more not doing things because you dont give a shit about it, so why bother. Procrastination is about throwing real or imagined obstacles in the way to prevent one from starting anything in the first place. Its imagining that the obstacle has some sort of cause-and-effect relationship with some objective, whether actual or completely made-up.

Where my problem lies is that I have let things pile up. While I may wake up (or go to bed) with the motivation to get things done, sitting at the desk, in front of the screen pretty much sucks that energy dry. While here, the point of view is that the whole house is a mess, that every piece of that mess is a massive boulder to push up that thorny path to accomplishment, and really, there's all those news items I haven't read yet, so I'll do that first.

But seriously, when you can manage to get your ass off of the chair and start moving around, you realize that the effort is all about beginning, not finishing. Its really harder to convince yourself that you can, and will do it than it is to just... do.

So various strategies will have to be implemented to bypass that brain drain and just get the hands and feet going. Allocating a limited time to wake-up/breakfast/read the news should get me off the screen and looking for action. Readjusting my sleep cycle will be another improvement, as staying up late does nothing to accomplish anything (as noise is an issue, and a great excuse for putting things off for later), and neither does getting up late (as you then already feel bad for not getting up earlier.) Just that will also help me readjust to the eventual return-to-work schedule, whenever that happens.

There are few changes that can effectively take place instantaneously. The most effective ones are those that are both natural and incremental, baby steps in the right direction. You can sit down once in a while and take a break, but you keep going in the right direction. That's how objectives are attained, whether its cleaning the dishes, or finishing that short story.

And I'm late starting on that.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

New crib

Early in my citizenship, I moved every year. That is, every year meant a new apartment, yet another place for me to call home. They were always fine at the beginning, but they;d grow stale pretty quick, but then there's this lease thing, and well, you get my drift.

After some rental wandering, I found some place where I stayed for a few years. In a way it all sort of reflected my relationships; I didn't stay long at a place, I didn't stay long with the girl. But once I was at that place, I started getting the idea that maybe sticking around was more than a living arrangement. I cant say that it was an instantaneous change; it might have to do with the fact that I kept moving further and further from the social scene physically, so it became a little more difficult dragging some girl to my abode.

Well, that and it sucked, really. The landlord was a ghost that could only be reached when he had to get paid, but pulled a disappearing act as soon as any sort of repairs was needed. So it took me a while, but I did end up buggering out of there, and on to better pasture. Which also sounds like my love life. And my career path.

Anyways, I got this pad, which was the biggest thing I ever lived in that wasn't a house, in good condition, and at a price that is still a sweet deal. But after five years, its time to move. The place has its flaws, like unreliable water pipes, not the best insulation, unstable electrical system, the weirdest arrangement of rooms I've seen in a while; its livable, but I'm feeling trapped. The neighborhood is less than the best; not the worst, but I've seen better. Its time to move.

So the hunt has begun. Its a weird thing. Mostly because we are so ahead in our search; the lease only expires on July 1, and a little over four months ahead, we have begun to hunt for a new place. For one thing, the budget is higher. Not only because the income is higher, but because leaving here means that we have to enter the open rental market. But that's fine. We are also looking at getting a little more for our bucks, as we're looking for some character, and a goddamn second closed room. Imagine a house where the only closed rooms are the bedroom and the toilet. And then try to get any work done while your significant other wants to watch tv or something.

So the first two spots were... well, frankly, the first one was scary from the moment we saw the building. Loads of graffiti on one wall. Oh well, how's the inside? Old, crooked, kinda moldy, the place creaks, there are obvious holes where there shouldn't be holes, tape on windows... I guess I should have stuck with my first impression when I saw that one tenant used bedsheets for curtains. Oi. The second place was much nicer, closer to where we were interested to be, closer to public transport, in much, much nicer condition... and cheaper. We could have pretty much walked in and settle, but... its not there yet. We cant just jump at the first few we see. Its still early, way early in the hunting season, so no reason to rush. And we aren't ready to move anyways, not yet.

Reliable information tells us that we're in the right ballpark, so the hunt continues. The longer we wait, the better prepared and the more cash we can have set aside for the movers and the required upgrades. So we get patient. We're even open to the possibility that we'll be here another year, which gives us even more time to upgrade home supplies and stack some safety net.

But I feel the wave pulling me. Good thing I know how to sail.

Friday, February 19, 2010

Baby steps

Some things require big leaps. Sometimes, the biggest leap is to take the first step. For instance, I have been making music for a while; I had originally thought about building my own label, but I ended up releasing through a micro label instead. While it may seem like a step back, it was a step forward: I did get to release music, and thus accomplish something. Whatever happened to the label is irrelevant; I went and got published.

Following the folding of that label, I have returned to my original plan, self-publishing. When you get right down to it, its a pretty daunting task, as I am now pretty much solely responsible for my output's existence, and will be obligated to actually work actively and whore myself a little bit if I want anyone to notice the output. And I'll have to dedicate some time to actually have an output at all.

Its really hard to get a label to work if you have nothing to release.

So, after dicking around and wasting time, I took the baby step towards getting that plan underway; I have gotten around to getting the domain registered. I think that the scariest part of it is the finality of the act, as the name now is settled. Was it my original name? Hell no, but since I got the idea of doing this over 10 years ago, other people have picked up and acted, while I did nothing. Well, okay, I was broke a lot of that time... and not that net savvy, but eventually, I got around to it, and now, its done.

Sigh of relief.

And now, the big game starts. I'll have to figure out what the site will be like, what content to put in and so forth. It seems like a pretty tall order, but the game's afoot.

And its not like I dont currently have plenty of time to deal with that.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Get the timing right

One of the toughest thing in life is timing. In martial arts, its not so much about how strong you are that makes you hit the other guys, but if you can get your timing right and sidestep his defense. In baseball, its all about correctly gauging the trajectory and hitting the ball just right, just at the right time. Sometimes, its applying for a job just as the market crosses path with your skill set.

Since the events of the Magical Summer, I have noticed that some things have been taking place in a much more interesting timing than usual. I find that timing is as much about making the right decisions, but also about spotting opportunities as they appear and acting upon them.

For instance, in the aftermath of this summer, I was left with an income of zero. What little I had left was actually from a loan I had gotten just before, so its just delayed trouble. My girlfriend ended on a medical leave, so there was no income from that quarter either. We got pretty tight, playing the insurance waiting game, applying to whatever agencies we thought just might help, even welfare. We were that low. But then the insurance came through and a wad of cash was dropped on my lap. It was an obvious opportunity of just treat myself and splurge some, and I did that with gusto. But something else that happened too is that I took the opportunity to spend some of that cash buying things that had been delayed for far too long, because the weekly paycheck kinda screws up your financial management.

After the new year, something else happened: priorities got reassessed and a overall cleanup, a purge began to take place. Suddenly, it wasn't about making do with what we had, it was figuring out what we wanted to getting to the point of getting it. It was looking through what we had and decide whether it was worth keeping. Too long I kept things "just in case", or because I dont want them to go to waste... and they just get piled up, gathering dust and taking up space.

And once you start on that process, the rest of the universe send out a message, sort of "what took you so long?" and things just start happening. Job opportunities that allows not only better income, but that allows better living conditions. Once that your optics are reset, you keep certain things in mind, like that apartment that's been teasing you for months, and poof! the income develops so that you can upgrade to the cooler place. While you're upgrading to the cooler place, you start looking at your furniture and you notice how much of it was just making do with what you found, and you start noticing the things that you actually want to follow you to the new place.

You decide that you want a lifestyle makeover.

Its not that the lifestyle you have is bad, its that its patchwork, a collection of knicknacks that dont quite mesh, a sort of halfhazard mess that needs some solid work. And that's where things stand at the moment. While I am thinking a little ahead of where I can stand, I am going through mental lists of what has to stay and what has to go, what furniture I want to gather, what organization will be required. I'm ahead of the game, because we haven't looked at new apartments yet, nor has the new job started, but the timing is just right. There's enough time for us to get settled in the new rhythm, gather the necessary funds, find the new apartment, give notice to the landlords, pack all of our stuff, get rid of the extras, get my treatments started and be done by the time it becomes necessary for me to return to work...

Timing is everything.

The stars are right.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

As part of the many things I do, I occasionally DJ. While this sounds pretty glamorous, its not really, unless you happen to hit the right spot at the right time and you get swamped with barely legal boobies. Here's a clue: never happened to me.

So, here's the playlist for my set last night:

death in june - but what ends when the symbols shatter?
christian death - venus in furs
deathride 69 -state of decay
the cramps - mad daddy
alien sex fiend - hirricane fighter plane
bauhaus - in the flat field
bauhaus - rose garden funeral of sores
jarboe - warm liquid event
jarboe - danse dementia
tom waits - kommienezuspadt
mushroom patience - martial pop
*battle of mice - a day of nights
sophia - pride
pimentola - psychopompos
*death/human - secret face
creaming jesus - a forest
pwei - ich bin ein auslander
the stooges - i want to be your dog
swans - the great annihilator
marionettes - ave dementia
ex-voto - resurection mary
theater of hate - black madonna
switchblade symphony - dollhouse
rasputina - saline the saltine queen
rome - kriegsgott
sol invictus - shealth and knife
the moon lay hidden beneath a cloud - untitled
division s - red wine
der blutharsh - untitled

The stars denote requests. Oh, and those requests were played through a goddamn ipod. I hate spinning with an mp3 player. Its just fucked. Also, the stuff requested isn't part of my game. It just threw me off. That's because the audience was meager (worse than usual) and was mostly composed of death metalheads. Now, I dont particularly hold a grievance against metal (I am more of an old school gent in the sound I prefer) any more than I have a grievance against Jesus; its their fans I cant stand. Metal fans are the absolute worst as far as disrespecting protocols, as in thematic nights. I really dont care how many of you are out there, or your proportion in regard to the attendance, if you're not out at a metal night, or some sort of open alternative night, then fuck you, we're not going to play your shit. Its like expecting the Rolling Stones to play some Iron Maiden, cause you're a bunch of Maiden fans. That is disrespectful.

Also, you guys seriously grunt and growl way too much. And your shit all sound the same.

All that to say that was off my game and I cant say that I was very focused in my set, with the interference, some screw ups and some missed spins due to distraction.

And fuck you, death metal dudes. Seriously.

Monday, February 8, 2010



Thats called Sunday at my house.

Sunday, February 7, 2010

The homestretch

Being a man with projects has it's ups-and-downs. For one thing, you have the very warm satisfaction of doing things yourself, and generally having a pretty unique piece; on the down side, having a pile of projects to do also means that you are constantly bombarded with conflicting signals as several of them at a time will fight for your attention.

The trickiest bit about home projects is finding the motivational energy to get things done; while its fairly easy to get going when you're, and the end result is always satisfying, the "blank page" state is always a pain, since that while you may have all that is necessary to get the job done, you are still assailed with constant doubt about your ability to get it done. Its easy to see all the things that could go wrong, and they can very easily step in your way, pushing you to get busy doing non-important stuff, like watching TV, cause there's no effort required.

Once the project is started, things get a little easier; if anything, I have to keep myself from barging ahead, not taking the time to do things properly. Back in days of kiddom, I was an enthusiastic model assembler. The job got done, but not very nicely, because I was far more intent on seeing the end product than doing the job properly, so I would just put parts together, without painting, without letting the paint dry, or taking any care about putting the stickers on right. So the model was done, but a little askew.

Its something you learn to watch out for later. I think that cooking has taught me that important lesson, that things just need the proper time to get done right, and the end result is so much better. Mind you, taking your time also means that things sometimes get unfinished, partially completed and set aside and forgotten. You assemble it just enough to use it, but you know that its not finished, and it bugs you... so you go watch TV, or dick around on the computer.

And then, when a project has been sitting there, sometime torn apart, after a few years, something happens. You lose track of where the parts are. Well, I do anyways. I know that I still have the damn thing, but where? Given the amount of projects, parts, leftovers, rebuilts and so forth, you end up with several containers of all kinds, containing and your little bits and pieces. But which one has the part you need?

The hunt for the proverbial treasure has a side benefit: while digging around with one target in mind, you often uncover other items that will lead you to another project, sometimes related, so you end up spending time now to save some later. It doesn't necessarily help the project at hand, but it just might keep you morale up to get you going.

And then, you find the little piece, and discover that its actually a few. Not a big deal, when you have all the pieces, but it still leaves lingering doubts, "have I got all the pieces that I need?"

But you let it go, take out the drill and carry on.

Monday, February 1, 2010

Life isn't quite as fair as its claimed to be

Some of you may know this summer's events, but for those who dont, I had a pretty damn severe bicycle-car door encounter this summer that got me in the hospital for a couple of months; its not completely dealt with, but I've had to learn the broader implications of the term "patient".

All that said, part of the severity of the damage (and only part) is that I don't wear a helmet. While I can certainly understand the protection that a helmet affords, I am unconvinced that wearing one will make riding any safer, since that the rest of my body is still very much a potential target to the local retarded drivers. And, oh man, are they retarded.

But that's another show. The point is that as likely necessary and logical as they may be, actual bicycle helmets are horribly designed, the more expensive the flimsier, and so, your protection lowers as the cost rises. And I'm not even talking about the aesthetics. Most of them are absolutely terrible, having that vaguely sportish look about them that I find utterly repulsive. So that didn't help my attitude towards them one bit.

Then today, with googling for an unrelated item, I stumbled upon this little piece of work:

Finally, pink done right. This is a helmet I'd be perfectly fine about putting on my head as I tear some asphalt with my city-customized Peugeot.

Except for one thing.

The maker, Helmets R Us is a non-profit company that works with non-profit organizations and school to promote bicycle safety to children. So they do not sell any to individuals, only to schools, and by default, only in bundles. So no brain bucket for me.

While I may not be able to get my hands on this little guy (which most likely, wouldn't have fitted my head anyways), it has had a good (depending on your perspective) consequence: I am now more seriously considering getting a helmet. I cant say that I'll wear it yet. But I'm keeping my eyes opened now for something that fits my head, isn't made out of cheap plastics and styrofoam, and isn't an embarrassment to wear.

Its a good thing that I still have a few months till spring.