To Thank

Today is that day on which American’s stop, eat more food than they should, watch a damagingly physical game that bewilders the rest of the world, and give thanks for things they possess and events in their life.

As traditions go, it isn’t a bad one. I’ve enjoyed it every year of my life so far and this year is no different.

I sit here typing over a belly too full of turkey and fixings, watching a team called the chargers play some guys in stripes while some guys called the cowboys watch an oblong brown ball fly around, and think about that for which I am thankful. The list is long and distinguished and in no particular order.

I am thankful for family. They sit around me, and though the small humans are a bit too loud sometimes, I love them all. They are flawed, full of snot apparently, and of various sizes, and the kids aren’t too nice either, but then, neither am I, most of the time. We are human and wonderful.

I am thankful for my mind and my health. I have suffered from depression for a long time, but lately have been on the upper side of things a majority of the time. I still have days where I lose to the depression, but they are far between.

My car starts, my computer works, my Apple watch amuses me, I have two good jobs that I actually don’t mind working. I have favorite t-shirts and the luxury of my choice of shoes. I have a roof over my head, and floor beneath my feet, and four walls.

In all, life is good, and I am thankful for each and every part, no matter how I may complain on any regular day, or groan about work in the morning, or wonder if I will ever achieve my dreams.

I have much, and for that I am thankful.

What are you thankful for?

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Untitled October

I’ve been more depressed lately. I don’t know why, except to say that depression ebbs and flows, like the ice tides on a long dead moon. Creeping first from one position, then settling in to a new orientation, pulled perhaps by a gas giant, or an old star, my depression changes from slightly happy to slightly sad and back again. Along the way, my energy also fluctuates. Sometimes I get things done, sometimes I don’t. It is extremely frustrating that I cannot count on my emotions or energy from day to day, or even hour to hour.

I did discover one thing that seems to be making a difference, at least so far, and helping me to have more get up in the morning: taking my meds at night. Damn things say right on the bottle “may cause drowsiness” and here I was confused as to why I was getting tired in the morning. I don’t know yet if that same drowsiness is kicking in and helping me to sleep at night, but I feel better pre-10 am than I used to.

Also, if you’ve been following along this year, I made a resolution, a pact with myself, to do more throughout each month. I’ve been keeping track of my progress mathematically and writing about it. I did well for the first half of the year, and then got off track when my apartment was invaded by bed bugs and I was forced to move. I also got a new job and have been using up what energy I had throughout the day working. My finances look slightly better, but my creative output has suffered.

I long to build things in LEGO, paint, take pictures, write, read: create. But between life’s fuckups and my own depressed nature, it is oh, so hard.

This was supposed to be my latest update, but I just can’t muster the energy to quantify what I haven’t done yet again. I am not giving up on those goals so much as I am giving myself the freedom to fail at being regimented about them. I am giving life space to intrude. I am not giving my depression reign, but realizing that it does have consequences that are out of my control. So now this will be my last update. Not an end, but a whole new beginning.

I’ve been reflecting on life and the nature of happiness all day since I watched Blade Runner last night and Blade Runner: 2049 this afternoon. (Both are good, solid science fiction films, by the way.) Both films are future noir and full of depressing things, but also strange hopefulness that comes through in unexpected times and in unexpected ways. I decided to wait for my own moments of joy and happiness without worrying about ticking boxes or running up numbers.

There’s now my new normal, which feels like an old, worn leather jacket. Comfortable, with just the right smell. I’ll put it on, look and feel great, and go about my day.

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A Toy Story

Twenty-two years ago, Pixar released it’s first feature film, a delightful romp through childhood from the perspective of the toys children play with, and history was made. I was eight years old, but the characters and the animation delighted me. Today, I am thirty, and I still find enjoyment and amusement from the antics of a few old toys.

Apple released watchOS 4 in recent days, the new operating system for its watch, and with it came a delightful new watch face: an animated Toy Story themed face.

Apple-Watch-OS-4-Toy-Story

With the watch face selected, each time the wrist is raised, one is likely to see Woody, Buzz Lightyear, Jessie, Rex, the Aliens, Ham, and other characters from the Toy Story universe. The characters are fully animated, and will often give a wave, check out the time above their heads, and smile at you.

They also get active! They will run away, or bounce across the screen, or dance – or, well, I don’t think I’ve seen everything they are capable of. I just know that every time I glance at my watch for the time, I smile and often giggle. It’s just plain fun and funny.

The thing is, I am clinically depressed. Joy and happiness are difficult things for me to feel and express. To have a thing as simple as a watch face bring a smile to my face and laughter to my heart is quite special. I will treasure those few seconds when Buzz, Woody, and the gang, light up my face.

Thank you, John Lassiter, for creating the magic of Toy Story, and thank you, Tim Cook, for bringing that magic to my wrist.

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checkUp twenty17: August

Just so you know, August was a flustercluck. Here goes:

Each month it is my task to accomplish: #1: Writing, #2: Reading, #3: Building, #4: Art and #5: Activities. So, how did I do in August?

#1. Writing. I wrote twice (in addition to my update)! Go me. 5/5

#2. Reading. So here’s where we get to the aforementioned storm of feathers. I had bed bugs in my apartment, discovered right at the beginning of the month and essentially taking the whole month to not really take care of until I moved out and into a new apartment. Then I took, inadvertently, bed bugs to my parent’s house and helped with that extermination. So I didn’t read nothing. But I get a pass? 2.5/5

#3. Building. Following, but not really related to, the bed bug incident, I had to pack up all my LEGO and noticed that much of it was dusty as if it were left out on Tatooine for a week. So I’ve embarked on a “clean most all LEGO” endeavor. No building, just work. Again, pass? 2.5/5

#4. Art. I finished painting my Stormtrooper helmets! The Artoo Detoo helmet came out really good and the Packers helmet came out ok. I attempted to sell them, but no one wanted them, so I guess they’re mine. 5/5.

#5. Activities. Other than becoming the “Great Bed Bug Squasher” and working, I haven’t had the chance to do any activities, except for going to a Ranger’s game with some friends of my parents. I’ll be generous and give that a full credit, otherwise this month will be very lousy in deed. 5/5.

Total? Looks like 20/25 or 80% for August. For the year then I am at…71% if I’ve done me math correctly. Not bad. I am pleased that I’m keeping up with my goals throughout adversity and work and life. Beating depression one step at a time is good!

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Star Wars: The Phantom Confession

At last I will reveal myself to the internet. At last I shall have catharsis.” – Darth Me

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The Phantom Menace premiered in theaters on May 19, 1999. I had just turned 12 two months before and I was ecstatic to see this new Star Wars film. You have to remember, in those days, Star Wars was a trilogy, a finished masterpiece in three volumes. It had been since 1983, four years before my birth. For my entire life, Star Wars was the best set of films there were for a nerd, young or old. It was “this colossus, this great legendary thing”.

A new film, a new trilogy, was announced. I scoured the young internet for news, images, clips, rumors and at dial-up speed, fuzzy jpegs revealed themselves for my viewing pleasure. Articles kept me fascinated. There wasn’t much being disseminated, remember, again, this was before Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and every other network. We had no smart phones, no texting, no social media. I remember reading articles in actual magazines and the newspaper about this new Star Wars film. I cut out pictures from pages and savored images of Qui-Gon Jinn, whom I mistook for Obi-Wan Kenobi, and Jake Lloyd and Ewan McGregor whom I thought were playing Anakin Skywalker. I also remember savoring images of the Naboo starfighter: graceful, sleek, and deadly. Much of my information also came from LEGO, who had just signed a deal with Lucasfilm to produce Star Wars branded and based Lego sets. Most of my early spoilers came from LEGO fan club magazines that depicted ships, characters, and locations in brick form. Pepsi had also made a marketing deal in which every can of every variety of soda featured a different character image with a printed backstory that you could collect. Even Taco Bell got in on the marketing with their stupid chihuahua.  It was all glorious and amazing and wonderful. I annoyed my family and friends silly because I would not stop talking about the new Star Wars film. It was to be the best thing EVER.

A few days, or weeks, I don’t remember exactly, into the premier my dad took myself and my brother to a Saturday afternoon showing of The Phantom Menace and I floated into the theater. I absorbed every sound, image, and musical cue with delight … except … except, something wasn’t quite right. Jar Jar Binks wasn’t funny, like he was supposed to be. There were fart jokes, in the middle of John William’s grand score even! Some bits blew my pre-teen mind – Darth Maul versus the Jedi – podracers roaring around Tatooine, but mostly it was boring with a shine and long with excitement. I didn’t realize it then, but every time thereafter that I saw it, my smile was less broad and the twinkle in my eye shrank. I remember visiting my grandfather, perhaps the next summer, and convincing him to Pay-Per-View rent The Phantom Menace. It was a day long thing, where you could watch it over and over again for 24 hours. I must have watched it 8 or 9 times that day. Over and over again. It was amazing! It was Star Wars! but it wasn’t quite the Star Wars I loved and had grown up with.

Truth is: I loved The Phantom Menace. Even with Jar Jar and the fart joke. In those early days, I couldn’t get enough of it. It wasn’t until 2002’s Attack of the Clones that I began to become disillusioned. 2005’s premier of Revenge of the Sith arrived and I was in college. It failed to end the new trilogy properly, but I had lost my love. Star Wars was nothing more than the Old Trilogy, as it was now known, and the new films were dead to me. I even spent time methodically watching Menace, Clones, and Sith and tearing them systematically apart on my blog (which you can still read under the Star Wars tab). I made a reputation among friends and a presence online by hating the prequels.

But. But. I did love Menace. I thought Clones had good parts. I figured Sith was mostly there. I don’t know when or why I let other people’s opinions and acidity eat through my heart of enjoyment. I like plenty of badly written movies that are chock full of bad performances and cheesy effects. So I suppose now we are here, at the end of my vitriol to admit a love I once held dear.

I haven’t watched the Prequel Trilogy in years, now, and I feel a strange urge and longing to do so. Maybe it is the 11 year old in me that collected Mountain Dew cans for their images of Yoda and Qui-Gon Jinn. Maybe it is the 12 year old that convinced my grandfather to let me spend a day watching a movie ad nauseam. Maybe it is the 13 year old that treasured old LEGO magazines and their pages of colorful LEGO Star Wars sets.

At least I am willing to admit it to myself, and now, the world that reads my blog: unabashed, unashamed, unfettered: I loved Star Wars The Phantom Menace a long time ago, and may yet love it. And that’s ok.

Embrace your famdoms, nerd out, rock on, love what you love. It makes you you and no one else. And that is the best thing ever.

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On Weddings

red-wedding-dress-taffeta-tulle.originalMy ma is attending a wedding this weekend for my cousin on her side, and at the end of the month, a paternal cousin is to be married. I will unfortunately miss both weddings, the latter making me most sad as I’ve been fairly close to that cousin. But the occasions have been making me ponder nuptials, and having been through one myself, I’ve got some thoughts on another, should I ever get the opportunity (which I doubt I will).

I will present my ideas as “Thoughts on “whatever” ” and in a heteronormative way. This is because I am heterosexual, and most familiar with the “classic” Western wedding. But weddings are becoming, and rightfully so, so much more what you make them with whomever you decide to marry and that is a Good Thing. Weddings shouldn’t be blind tradition. They should be a union of what makes you collectively you. To hence:

Thoughts on The Ring and Rings: maybe Tolkien has soured me on rings, but I don’t like the idea of giving my future bride an engagement ring. It seems to be little more than a Western bride price, dowry, or guarantor of the marriage. If my future bride cannot “reserve” herself for me without me spending a bunch of money on what is probably an overpriced conflict diamond or cheap synthetic, then she isn’t the one for me. Furthermore, why do we need wedding bands? I don’t understand jewelry as a symbol of love. Make it hurt, and I’m being serious here, get matching tattoos. They don’t come off, can’t get lost, cost a bit depending on what you get, and are a forever memory literally etched into your flesh. Now, having been through a divorce, this scares me because “what if, round two” but if you are unwilling to get tattooed, you probably aren’t willing to go through the long haul and tough it out when it really, really hurts either. Let’s just say I still can’t imagine my ex getting a tat, for any reason. If I’m wrong, she can send me photographic proof.

Thoughts on Sex/Wearing White (Purity): This is so wrapped up in draconian ideas of sexual ethics and shoddy economics that I don’t really want a bride wrapped in a white facade. I don’t believe in saving sex for marriage, and since I’ve already been married and had sex (spoiler! also, sorry ma, but well, we all know it happened at least once) what am I to do? Maybe my future next Mrs. Martin (also a point to be discussed) will be a virgin when we get married, but I kinda hope not. I mean, if we are getting married, have the tattoos, what is there to wait on? Sex just isn’t that important to me as a symbol of anything, or an act to be preserved, so what is the point of wearing white to pretend she is somehow “pure”? Especially if she is going to have sex that night, or soon thereafter anyway, does she then lose that purity or something? I don’t believe it transfers to the husband or anything, so again, point being? Be colorful! Again, be you and if you like white, go for it, but I’d like my bride in scarlet, or bright yellow, or something bright and happy. White is boring.

Thoughts on The Isle: So, it goes like this: the groom waits up at the front of wherever, the bride walks up toward him, arm in arm with her father, who hands her off, and after whatever, the bride and groom walk down the isle together. NO. This is clearly, and explicitly in traditional services, the father giving the woman to the man and the man accepting her and taking her with him. NO. The implication here is she is property, bought with the ring, and duly delivered and accepted and transferred. NO. In my wedding, if I get one again, we will enter from the sides, as equals, and go forward together and come back down together as a unit never again to be separated.

Thoughts on The Name: Afterwards it goes “I present to you Mr and Mrs Groom’s Name Only” NO. Is the man the only thing that matters in western society and weddings?? (Really, the answer still is yes, but to hell with that. This is the 21st century. We need to act like it.) I have a friend who took his wife’s name, but that is just inverting the binary. Wipe it out altogether. Get a new name. Or hyphenate (though who goes first?). Or, shockingly, keep your own name. Or something, but I really don’t like the wife surrendering her identity into that of her husband’s for the rest of her life. The woman is important all by herself and that desperately needs to be honored.

Thoughts on The Church: Even the religious these days are eschewing the steeple for the seashore, or prairie, or wherever. I’m not getting married in a church because the church does not rule over my marriage, and, well, I’d rather be married somewhere in nature, not necessarily in a building. If it’s raining, we get wet. I’m open to negotiation on this point, but I have strong preferences.

Thoughts on a Few Other Things: Invite who you want to be there, not who you are related to or feel obligated to invite. I get there are lots of politics here, but it’s your day, do what makes you happy. Have a fun cake and eat it. I don’t want it mashed in my face because I am not two anymore. I won’t mash it in her face either because she’s not two. Also, she worked damn hard on that makeup (probably) and I don’t want to ruin it with icing and sugar. Do what else has meaning for the two of you, and not what is “traditional”. Don’t spend money on glitzy things for the wedding, the party, or the wedding party. It’s just a wasted expense. Decorate in a fun, not expensive, way. If you want to do something meaningful for meaningful people, do that. I had a birthday cake at my first wedding because it was my grandmother’s birthday and I wanted to honor her at the occasion, and I’m glad I did. Having a birthday party at my wedding was probably the most “me” thing about that wedding. (And it wasn’t about me at all, my idea of perfect.)

And that’s all I have to say about that. For now. Thanks for listening.

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checkUp twenty17: Junly

Yeah. So there’s that. I haven’t updated since June 18th with my Wonder Woman review. In my own defense, I have been busy, but I’ve thought a time or two “I should write” and I’ve not, so I don’t get completely off the hook here. I mean, it’s taken for it to be 0404 on a Friday morning with insomnia to get me writing. How bad is that? Or maybe good? I dunno. Anyway. Here goes…something….

Every month I try to do some or all of the following: #1: Writing, #2: Reading, #3: Building, #4: Art and #5: Activities. This is a check up for June and July.

#1. Writing. I did write an update in June, and a review of WW. But I didn’t write at all in July. Combined score: 5-10.

#2. Reading. I finished St. Francis: In His Own Words, a compilation of writings by the monk St. Francis of Assisi. I am also working through another book. I’ll get most credit, but not all: 7.5-10.

#3. Building. I didn’t build anything, but I did spend the months organizing my LEGO minifigures and accessories. Now that I write that it sounds so grown up! but fuck you, little voice in my head. Anyway, it will help further endeavors, so again, partial credit? but it is also what kept me from building. So, one step back, two forward? Sounds good to me: 7.5-10.

#4. Art. Nada. Zip. Zilch. Nunca. No excuse here. I’ve had opportunity. 0-10.

#5. Activities. I’ve not missed a day of work, continued meeting with my friend, and even had a friend over for dinner So, that gets me full credit. I know the idea is to get out of the house and do new stuff, but that’s hard with two jobs and little extra time. Full credit on this one: 10-10.

Hmm. It’s been an interesting summer, but so far, so good, I guess. Crunching the crunchables I get: 30/50. 60% for the months, and I think 74% for the year. Still not terrible. August is already looking better because I’m writing! and I have a commission for a LEGO portrait that I can work on, a book to finish, and probably an activity or two, plus some art this weekend? We shall see.

Excelsior!

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