where i am much more interesting than usual.

if i was playing jeopardy: cynical 20something edition, here are my dream categories:

– waking up drunk and lo fi noise rock of the 90s

– cooking for 20 on 30 bucks including beer

– canadian geography for americans

– no i will not fix your computer

– pop culture, 3 steps removed

– what rock cures multiple sclerosis?

– doing the impossible, nightly

 

here is a post, once squirreled away on facebook, that i do not want to lose:

i should start by saying that this isn’t fair. not only is the other participant unarmed, they don’t even know there is an arms race to begin with (and, knowing them, wouldn’t care to join in).

 

but i am nothing if not thorough when it comes to research and equipping — a skill honed after years and years of tactical RPGs, and strategic packing for poverty jet setting sessions that, by all accounts, shouldn’t have happened but did anyway.

 

so i will compare lincoln to a video game. every action has a much-exaggerated reaction for many reasons. moves made at jake’s under the influence of cloves and moscow mules will be worth double experience points because twice as many eyes are paying attention than you assume. battles retreated from for the sake of not engaging in something that’s futile are infinitely more shameful under the lens of motivations. spells cast in dark basements or empty fields for good or ill are that much more risky and rewarding.

 

since i’m not a lincoln native, i don’t understand all the rules yet. the combat systems are just starting to seem manipulatable to me. i understand the risk i took in getting the information the-person-who-knows-me-too-well warned me against (sorry, pendragon). but am not entirely sure about the consequences yet.

 

i can only assume, that, since this is lincoln, they will be catastrophic.

 

 

here is a conversation that makes my interactions seem like some kind of scripted indie show.

“lincoln is built as a grid. except in the suburbs, where all bets are off.”

“lincoln is wayyyyy too convoluted to be a grid. we need to spend an afternoon and construct our venn diagram of relationships.”

“i’m just saying, it was built as a grid originally. that’s why the game play has such exceptions. we fused another board atop the first one.”

“from a completely different game. it’s like a mousetrap board ontop of chess.”

“i’d play that.”

“we are playing it.”

“success?”

!team adventure, #udl, $6 bottles of wine, almond goatmeal crisp, america vs canada-isms, buckaroo banzai &the cavaliers, chain-smoking american-spirit blacks, chilling in my bathroom, clack clack clack!, conversational;slumming, covert favor-doing, ear-hats, felt penning truths, healing-america by-beating people-up, heyyyyyyy ohhhh, icy-cold fist of death, insomnia for creativity, kneejerk irony, losing at hexic, low profile musical interludes, machiavellian mac and cheese, magazines for high-minded lowlifes, nerd camping, pilfering ideas, pineapple & onion pizza, porching & cigarettes, poverty jet setting, quelle fucking drag, refusing to use recipes, robot&mattress, sad bastarding, scheming nefarious schemes, scrabbleskype, self-induced panic attacks, stewart’s key-lime soda, story-of-everest, the suicide loft, visual punning, wilco at 4am

a post for someone else.

this post was originally written and posted here: http://change-the-word.blogspot.com/2011/11/beyond-labels.html

 

I’m visibly uncomfortable when someone brings up my ‘writing.’ Writing implies some extra process, some mindset, some kind of effort outside of the norm to produce something for consumption. Relying on expertise I don’t have, sensibility never developed, and all the plot points I’ve left scribbled in the margins is no substitute for a real story written by someone who lives out the constructed lives of their characters with such care that sometimes they can’t begin and end as a person in a definitive way.

The truth is, I don’t write. I’m not a ‘writer.’ At best, I’m an ardent bookkeeper of my thoughts. At worst, I’m in the middle of a manic upswing and have access to some kind of writing implement. With no means to tell the difference between the two authoring modes, people are haphazardly confronted with a distillation of my thought process, rather than something I’ve crafted for another’s enjoyment.

Assaulted with letters penned in the middle of the night, bombed with one text after another laced with ridiculous metaphor, harassed by emails so tangential a unifying theme is nowhere to be found — sending the sum of the various things my mind churns out is a litmus test, of sorts.

“But that’s still writing, Shae.”

I’ve struggled with labels, rationalizations, people incensed that I don’t think I have ‘talent,’ ‘voice,’ ‘skill,’ or other writerly qualities. Confused that I don’t identify with what they think I am. I don’t fit in writing workshops (I’ve tried. I’m a nth dimensional object trying to scale to a playing board that I literally can’t comprehend), guides have no methods for me to improve, all the practice in the world will not make my words palatable, accessible, or widely read.

I’m not a writer though, so those things don’t matter. But like anyone who does something often to various ends, I want to get better at ‘writing’ what I’m not writing. I asked myself over a year ago, how do you get better at something you don’t technically do?

I decided you study the component parts of what you’re creating.

So I learned about thoughts. Spent time with how the brain transforms idea into written language. Devoured everything I could find on how words grow up into big, strong concepts with which to take over a mind. Branched out endlessly into the topics I find are directly correlated with what I was trying to say, even if no one else sees the connections.

Physics, astronomy, set theory, evolution, and organic chemistry welcomed me into their structured lands, and I fell into worlds full of the concepts I needed to express the complex chain reactions of ideas wandering around my neural paths. Their soothing lexicons and measured structure providing comfort and essential basic compounds I would need to build the experiences I have into tangible, understandable pieces of work for others.

It deviates, then. It’s not ‘writing’ anymore. These are experiments. I can cloak what I’m doing or not doing in a layer of arm’s-length. My thoughts become series of hypotheses for testing on others. Sentences become footnotes in research papers, a thesis is drawn out of the hunt for the words that go together unequivocally.

Now, to find someone to grade it.

the great lakes.

my life is doomed/blessed to be peppered with intense conversation at inconvenient times.

 

the only conclusion i’ve drawn in this exasperating five days is that i am far too invested (in all things) for the average person. i’m talking about you. i’m thinking about you. i’m wondering about you.

 

when someone you know the two sides of a bell curve to is sitting on your couch, crying, perhaps it isn’t the best time for The Hard Questions.

the previous conversations — dick jokes and loose metaphysics told in the same sharply exhaled breath — should be an indicator as to the overall readiness of the individual.

but they’ve all had it easy for so long. you’ve had it easy for so long. you need to move on.

so let me show you how to do that.

 

spending 10 years of your life in the same situation facing a slightly different direction isn’t experience. it’s just your perception playing tricks on you. showing you the other side of the same shitty idea.

it’s not a separate dimension, it’s a set of goggles for your current configuration. so, defy all logic, ignore what everyone else is saying, and come with me.

the physics are much more interesting in this other place.

 

the great lakes await.

a conversation.

s: and then, thinking about spending time with you alone makes me think of a completely different set of tangential thoughts. 

l: like?

s: more abstract

l: hmmm ok….

s: more like feelings and racing thoughts.

l: i can understand that.

s: chemicals, reactions to light. that feeling i  get when you stop touching my body. the dissolution of all the stuff i mentioned involving other people. the contraction of a universe, in a way.

l: god i love the things you say. your way with words is stunningly beautiful.

s: the numbers and the lines. things others have told me, stolen and repurposed for you and only you. a hesitant investment of the things that matter to me.

l: only you can make me speechless.

s: i doubt that very much, sir.

l: you just did.

s: nothing to say? you? hmm.  i’m in an odd mood. glyphs and characters are my best friends and my most elusive weapons.

l: i’m not used to someone using speech in such a magnificent way. takes me aback in a way i’ve never exprienced.

s: is it magnificent? most people get lost. they get angry when they can’t navigate the paths i haphazardly lay.

l: i’m not lost, i feel found.

s: they tell me to stop talking in riddles, stop taking in stray typos. leave suggestions and language for the sake of language at the door.

l: i want every word you have. every sound, every syllable.

s: why? they’re not important. or monumental. they’re not destined for big things or small print. this is just how it sounds in my brain. imagine extracting common conversation from this kind of thought at a 1:1 ratio.

l:  your opinion of the importance of your words is of little consequence when they cause new emotional reactions inside me.

s: i’ve spent years snipping and sniping stray syllables. turning text to trivialized transactions. thoughtless, tuneless chatter. no fun, no cadence, no meter to drive their maker mad…. i’m shaking because i’m terrified.

l: of what?

s: being who i am. i’m editing even now.

l: being you is what has captured my imagination, don’t stop.

s: what happens when i step over a line? or when i get so far away i can’t get back? when i flirt with words and the idea of who you are, and i won’t stop?

l: that won’t change a thing. i’m yours for as long as you’ll have me.

s: but what will you do while i’m away, obsessing over not repeating, never reusing a main word.

l: i think you should stop thinking and obsessing.

s: how will you feel when i’m cheating on you with all the dead remnants of thoughts written down for posterity?

l: i feel like you’re asking questions without answers.

s: how could something  that esoteric ever have an answer.

l: my point exactly.

s: are you mad i asked it?

l: never.

focus.

i was listening to a scientist talk about radiation. about quasars, about blazars, about gamma rays, and what he spent his life looking for. i stayed and chatted with him for an hour longer after his discussion.

you could tell he loved what he was talking about. he jumped from subject to subject. he’d discuss the destruction of stars and then turn to philosophy as a logical follow-up. my kind of guy.

“looking at these things, these stars, it’s time travel. studying these things is time travel.”

which of course sent him spinning off in the direction of einstein and time dilation.

 

but that sentence stopped me dead in my tracks. i couldn’t breathe. i didn’t hear what he said about perception, i was too busy struggling with the realization he had just plowed into me with.

i’ve said this to someone who wouldn’t judge me outwardly for saying it. but i’ll commit and say it here for potential others to see without caring. and i’ll use doctor who as an example.

 

i’m jealous.

absolutely, horribly, seethingly jealous. i am envious, i feel ripped off. cheated. i’m angry and upset and absolutely heartbroken. watching, reading, seeing things like that makes me wistful and bitter. i want that.

i want to experience things in more than one tiny way. in more than just the three dimensions and limited understanding my current physical configuration and mental capacity can hand me.

 

all of these things that make my chest expand and turn to solid, unquenchable longing have reached a point where i don’t actually think i can remain sane if it continues to happen. being teased mercilessly with these ideas and concepts has pushed me past the event horizon, and i can’t just flirt anymore. there is no escape.

unwittingly and thanks to an increasingly entropic series of events (thanks, jake), i seem to have become equipped with just enough information to prove myself completely inept at any of the things i want to be completely destroyed by.

 

as i swiped at my face on the couch with my sweater, trying to hide the evidence, the man deconstructing and then paving over my previous self-imposed limitations continued on as if he saw this every day.

 

he smiled reassuringly. almost ruefully. “sure, tons of pink-haired girls laden with unanswerable questions and an obsession with geometry come traipsing through here all the time. let me get you a pamphlet” . . .

“so… where do i start?”

“at the beginning.”

how trying to code changed my life.

the best way to explain what i do for a living is for me to say that every day i am approached with problems that people can’t or don’t want to understand. and i try and figure them out.

my job title is a loose collection of different nouns and verbs that are easily interchanged, but not-so-easily applied to another single person. destroyer-of-worlds. chief-fire-putter-outter. breaker-of-internets. pink-haired-loud-mouth. easily-hyphenated. intangible-insufferable-illogical.

i ended up in the position i am in by failing a lot.  not on a big project once in a while. but by making mistakes every day. multiple times a day. three a minute. failing so many times that 98% of them aren’t even blips on the radar of my memory anymore. so let’s talk about it.

failing.

a coworker of mine.

coworker: I don’t do change well. Or challenges. I feel like I am challenging myself

coworker: which is GOOD

coworker: it’s awesome

coworker: but it makes me nervous

coworker: HUGE fear of failure.

coworker: crippiling almost. and in regards to everything I do

me: what’s wrong with failure

me: failure is great

me: it’s a benchmark you can use

me: you can’t use uncertainty or apathy

me: they have non-values.

me: no variables.

i learned everything i know (which isn’t much, i’d prefer it to be a lot more) about the web development, internet, social media, web standards, non-profit, content management, photography, making-logos-bigger game by trial and error. by being thrust into situations others would balk at. this is all cultivated by taking chances, jumping in, trying my best and in most cases …. landing flat on my face.

let me tell you about content loading for 80 hours for a client, when no one else would do it, because of an oversight. take a guess how many times i’ve forgotten a squiggly bracket in a php loop, or missed a semi-colon in some css? how many hours spent with my head in my hands, how much sleep lost and how many cans of dr.pepper do you think i’ve put in to this by now?

there are some projects with names that make the blood drain from my face as the first syllable is mentioned.

ask me about the time i lost a website.

there are things that i’ve overestimated, things i’ve made that have been underwhelming, and inbetween?

fuck up after failure, staring at lines of monospaced communication aimed at inconveniencing electrons. tricking them into showing what i want them to.

and all of this failure, all of these screw-ups, all of those late nights un-learning bad habits and developing worse ones has made me into a better person.

someone smarter, more adventurous, and more self-assured than i ever expected myself to be. someone more able to help those around me than half of the people i’ve ever met in my life. a person who can admit when they’re wrong, do the things no one else wants to do, and spend an entire lifetime trying to be something just a little bit better.

and i can’t wait for what i’ll fuck up next.