I Hate Amazing Art

Okay, that’s not true. I mean, it is true, but it isn’t true. Amazing art infuriates me. No, that’s another true but isn’t true situation. Is there a word for that? I feel like there should be a word for that. Hopefully not one of those long German words that I see, think about how perfect it is that the word exists, vow to memorize, then immediately forget.

Amazing art makes me feel bad. No, it makes me feel good. But it makes me feel bad. And that’s a directly proportional relationship: the better it makes me feel, the worse I feel. Probably due in equal parts to The Calling and The Perfectionism.

The Calling is that feeling that you were Meant To Do Something. You might not necessarily know what that Something is, but you can feel it tugging at the edges of your mind. That there is some Greatness lurking deep inside you, if you can only find the proper outlet to bring that Greatness forth into the world. I hear it’s pretty common in ADHD types and even more common in the hallways of mental wards.

The Calling can be very frustrating when it’s unresolved. Imagine if Don Quixote had never seen a windmill. He knows that there are giants out there and he knows he’s meant to defeat them, but he doesn’t know what they look like, where they are, or what he’s supposed to do if he ever runs into one. That may be a little bit of a strained analogy, but I’m fresh off The Newsroom and The Expanse, so I’m feeling a little Quixotic.

Amazing Art speaks to The Calling inside me. It whispers in the back of my mind that yes, maybe this is that thing I’m meant to do. Maybe this is the thing that can give birth to whatever this thing is inside me that oh so desperately wants to see the light. Meanwhile The Perfectionism is screaming that I can’t I can’t I can’t. I don’t know how to do the thing perfectly, and it would take way too long to learn how to do the thing perfectly, therefore that’s not the right thing to express The Calling and I need to think of something other way. This is why I currently have scattered around me in my office

  • Watercolors
  • Acrylic paints
  • Embroidery
  • Wool for felting
  • Sheet music
  • Ukuleles
  • A piano
  • A theremin
  • Various cloth material
  • A kalimba
  • Various homemade musical instruments
  • Laser-cut and laser-engraved wood
  • A rainbow of pens, markers, crayons and colored pencils
  • A box of rubber chickens
  • Comics
  • Art books
  • Instructional manuals
  • Lego
  • Bubbles
  • Magnets
  • Electronics

These are just the things I see by spinning around in my chair a couple of times and not even spinning that slowly. If I went through the house enumerating all of the various forms of art and entertainment I’ve picked up and put down repeatedly over the years trying to figure out The Calling, I’d have the longest post I’ve ever written and the deepest depression I’ve ever felt. And both of those are high bars to clear.

Do I excel at any of those things? No. Have any of those things released me from The Calling? Also no. Have any of these things had one brief moment where I felt like I was close to Something Really Big that could possibly be The Calling? Yes, all of them. Did any of those things have a moment following that brief moment where I felt like an inept fraud who could never reach The Calling in that manner? Yes, all of them.

“You should just find something that makes you happy and just find joy in doing that at whatever level you can. Just enjoy the process and be content in creating something.” I will enjoy the process of punching you in the face.

With all of the different things I have done and dabbled in, many have started as simple enjoyment. My patented five step creative process usually works like this:

  1. I like some songs that have a piano in them.
  2. I buy a piano.
  3. I like the way the piano makes noise when I push on the keys.
  4. You know, I’m pretty good at pushing random keys and making something that sounds vaguely like a tune.
  5. I need to learn everything about music theory and learn to play these six other instruments so that I can compose my ten hour symphonic masterwork that will win all of the awards and be referred to by all following generations as what real music should be.

Step number four is usually the big variable for how long I stick with something or how often I come back to it to try again. Something like music is easily returned to for me, because it’s possible to make noise without a lot of skill. If you have a broad enough definition of the word “music,” then smashing piano keys for awhile can have you approaching something that almost fits the definition. Yes, it takes time, training, skill, and talent to be able to smash the keys in a way everyone else will call music, but you can see a finish line with it somewhere in the far distance.

Painting, on the other hand, I have trouble even seeing the starting line. Sure, I can mess around for a bit to create something I can call “abstract,” but that gets me nowhere along the path of The Calling. A random blob on the page that looks like someone sneezed with a bloody nose isn’t the same as a drawing of a person, no matter how much you squint or call it art.

Oh shit. Holy fuck. Shit. Okay, I can’t remember how I first made this connection, since (obviously) my brain tends to ramble along ahead of me, skipping and singing through the woods as I try to catch up to it with my typing. Anyway, at some point my brain stopped at a pond to look at its reflection (stay with me here) and realized that The Calling was not only a part of it, but it was woven throughout the very fibers of my body and wrapped around my heart.

The Calling is cancer.

No no no, I’m not saying cancer is my calling. I’m saying the only other thing I’ve had wrapped around my heart and draining the joy out of my life was cancer. What is the metaphysical mental equivalent of chemotherapy? Well that’s going to keep me up all night now.

You know… that thing with gills.

We’ll lead into this one with a small health update. Even though we’ve been hitting single digit temps and lower, my Raynaud’s is staying quiet. Granted, I’ve been as cautious as usual with the gloves and such, but I’ve noticed my fingers actually being quite cold at times without having the Raynaud’s kick in. I imagine some of the positive progression it is time, but I’ve also read here and there about how lifting weights, specifically squatting, works wonders on the central nervous system. And as my family at CFNH can tell you, squatting is one of the few things I don’t suck at 🙂

One side effect that still persists is my lingering brain issues. Specifically word recall. That’s actually what got me to fire up the blog and write this post. I got home and was looking in the fridge when I saw what appeared to be a package of salmon. My first thought was “Oh – salmon.” Then I realized that this assumption could be wrong, since it appeared to have some sort of rub or something on it. Being ever correct and proper, I thought “It might not be salmon, so I should say it’s the generic word for salmon to be safe.” And that was all I could come up with. The package either contained “salmon” or it contained “generic word for salmon.” After standing there for a minute or so, I thought to look at the package. It identified the contents as “tuna” and immediately the word “fish” finally popped into my head.

This is my life. This is why this blog is called “Lethological.”

The other day, I decided I was going to apply CrossFit philosophy to the problem. All this time, I’ve been doing a lot of sudoku puzzles. Sudoku puzzles are like squatting for my brain – I can just tear through those suckers. Then it finally occurred to me that one the chief tenets of CrossFit totally applied to this situation: if you want to get better, you have to do things that are uncomfortable. Sudoku puzzles are logic and my logic kicks some serious ass. What I need are some brain double-unders. What I need are crossword puzzles.

While I’ve done crosswords in the past (pre-cancer), I’ve never been a crossword fanatic. Of course, once my brain started misfiring, I made sure to avoid crosswords like they were hyperbole (which I avoid like the plague). So it was time to suck it up and start filling in little boxes with little letters. And for the first time, I understand the feeling a lot of beginning CrossFitters feel when they look at a WOD (workout of the day). I’ve never really feared any of the workouts we’ve done, though I’ve certainly dreaded my fair share. The distinction there is, I may dread having to go out in the snow to take out the trash, but I don’t fear it, since I’m relatively certain I won’t get eaten by a polar bear.

But now that I have my little book of crossword puzzles, I have yet to open it up. Why? Fear. Fear of what I’ll find. Fear of failure. Fear of discovering just how much is missing. Fear of what my brain’s become. I made sure to get a book that has a lot of easy puzzles to get me going, but in a way that makes it worse. What if I can’t even do an easy puzzle?

Hell with it. Grip it and rip it, right? 3, 2, 1, go.

Technology and Catholicism

First off, I suppose I should mention that the subject of this post is referring to two different subjects. I’m assuming most of you already surmised this since you already know about the Robo-Pope. Don’t give me that look. Why did you think every pope’s name ends with a version number?

Anyway, the first part of the subject refers to my new iPhone. Yes, I’ve finally given up my telephonic Luddite ways and shelled out some money to Jobs & Co. I’m not really anti-Apple as such, just more anti-AT&T. But my old phone really sucked and I was far enough along into my AT&T plan to where I no longer had to pay full price for one of these little black beauties.

Uh oh. Here come the hits from weird Google searches…

Anyway, the sole reason I bring all of that up is that I’m currently typing all of this on said iPhone. In true geek fashion, I’m doing this with my laptop open on my lap, forgoing its small keys for the iPhone’s miniscule ones. But don’t cry for me, Argentina – I needed to see how this works when I’m laptop-less and I have a nifty little stylus to type with since my fingers are like sausages.

Holy crap – I just published the post and it frickin’ worked! Ain’t technology grand?

Speaking of holy crap, now we get to me griping about Catholics. One moment while I switch to a more rant-friendly keyboard…

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The Upsides and Downsides to Apple Commercials

So I’m semi-watching 30 Rock on TiVo (I loooooves me some 30 Rock, but it’s a repeat, so 1/2 of my attention is on that and 1/2 on the laptop) when one of the latest iPhone commercials comes on.

Now, with Apple commercials nowadays, you know what to expect. If it’s a commercial about their computers, it’s going to be John Hodgeman and not-John-Hodgeman, and if it’s for their “personal electronics” it’ll be a closeup of the product, hands and fresh new perky music you probably haven’t heard before but will be hearing everywhere soon.

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Another crazy morning. Literally. As in “insane.” Seriously.

This is the Tune Tech TT500 Backlit Clip Style Tuner which keeps my ukulele sounding so gloriously in tune:

Tune Tech TT500 Backlit Clip Style Tuner
Tune Tech TT500 Backlit Clip Style Tuner

It’s a relatively small device, no more than a couple of inches at its longest dimension. However, this small device has the full potential to destroy your morning.

This is our last day at the Home Office in Smyrna, GA. I woke up before my roommate and spent the time between then and when he finished his shower getting everything packed. I was all packed (except for my shower stuff) by the time he was done, so I had a leisurely morning ahead. I took my shower, got dressed, packed all of my toiletries and thought to myself “Oh yeah, last night I was going to make sure my tuner was packed with my electronics rather than with my ukulele (so there would be no reason to search the uke case at security).”

I checked the case – no tuner. Perfect. For once I did something when I thought about it, rather than waiting until the morning of, and I was proud of myself. Until…

It occurred to me that just that morning I had repacked my electronics bag to make everything fit right, and I couldn’t remember putting my tuner in there. You probably know where this is going.

I checked the electronics bag. The pocket that was in. The other backpack pockets. The pockets of all the pants I wore (since I couldn’t remember what I wore yesterday). I checked the electronics bag again. I checked the microwave. The refrigerator. The bathroom. All the drawers. I stripped the sheets off the bed. I found a way to pull the bed away from the wall. I took the pillowcases off the pillows. I completely emptied my backpack and all sub-bags inside it (including the electronics bag for the fourth or fifth time). At that point, I was 30 minutes behind schedule and I knew my ride and roommate had both been waiting downstairs for me that whole time. I resigned myself to the fact that either the tuner was lost, or it was in the one bag I didn’t check because I couldn’t imagine how I would have put it in there.

That’s right. I checked the microwave, but didn’t check one of my bags because it “didn’t seem likely.” I was so worked up and sweaty by that point, I had to bring that bag into work, since it’s where I put my few remaining clean clothes. As we’re walking down the hall, I suddenly picture the tuner. How last night I decided to put it in a brown plastic bag along with my fretboard stamp because “since it’s with my other ukulele stuff, I’ll know where it is.” I pictured me putting that bag in the small bag this morning as I thought “This brown bag only has my fretboard stamp, so I’ll put it in the checked luggage.”

I get to the conference room, pull out the top two layers of clothes (including a new shirt), and there’s the brown bag. With my fretboard stamp. And my ink pad. And my frickin’ tuner.

Son of a bitch.

And Another Thing (So to Speak)

Now there’s an Extenze commercial on and I’m thinking about placing an order. I’ve always wanted to be taller. Oh wait. Now that I’ve watched a little more of the commercial, I see I misunderstood the “size enhancement” claims. Good thing I didn’t place the order yet – my appendix is large enough. Unless they’re talking about some other “certain organ down there” that I’m not thinking of.

Oh yeah, and in hindsight, it probably would have been better to use “Georgia” in the title. Or maybe “Smyrna.” But I’m not a perfectionist, so it doesn’t bother me at all. I’m not going to stay up all night, tossing and turning, fighting to keep myself from going back and changing that title.

Because it’s morning.

Here he comes, here comes Moondoggie…

We recently switched from DirecTV to the World of Comcast, and today’s On-Demand movie menu had Speed Racer on it.

First, I’d like to state for the record (as we know blogs on the internet are even more legally binding than being sworn in at a trial) that I’ve never smoked pot. I’ve been around people who have and, while I respect their choice, I can’t get past the smell of it. That said, this movie made me want two things: the biggest home theater in the world and a bong. As pretty and enjoyable as the movie was, I can’t help but feel I’m missing something being sober and watching it on a 32″ Sylvania. At the very least, maybe it would override my innate sense of physics that kept messing with the racing scenes.
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The New Experiment Begins

So I was writing this long diatribe about perfectionism and realized I might scare off a lot of people when my first post winds up being a novella. So instead, I’m giving it its own little area in the “About” section. Or maybe somewhere else. I haven’t quite decided yet. I’m trying to fly by the seat of my pants a little more with this site, so I’m runnin’ fast and loose baby!

Well, for me, anyway.
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