Monthly Archives: August 2013

One Month In

Wow. I just realized that I’ve been blogging daily for just over a month. True, it took me a few days to get around to make it public, but I still wrote those days, so they count! While I don’t want to sound too self-congratulatory (but definitely a little), that’s pretty cool.

Since I’ve started, I’ve settled on the goal of writing at least 500 words each day. Of course, I’ve had to make adjustments for reality and the various activities that eat up whatever scrap of free time they can find. So while it may not be accurate to say I’ve written every day, I have at least posted every day.

I find it interesting that even one month into this exercise, I don’t have a clear direction for the blog. Admittedly, a fair amount of my posts have been on the dour and depressing end, but that has not necessarily been my goal. My goal was to make sure I had my own place, where I could express my opinions in whatever fashion I desired. In that respect, I guess I have succeeded.

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Punching Trees Gives Me Wood – Part 1: The First Night

Even though I have a bunch of serious topics I’d like to talk about, I’m feeling the need to write something more lighthearted. So let’s talk about games. People like games, right?

Let’s talk about Minecraft.

What is Minecraft? I could tell you, but then I’d have to kill you if you’re anything like me, I’d never see you again. At its most basic level, Minecraft is a pretty much what it says on the tin: a game about mining and crafting. But that comes nowhere close do doing it justice. Instead, I will attempt to communicate a small fraction of the wonder (and addicting qualities) this game can instill through a series of vignettes. Imagine if you will:

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Culture Shock

[NOTE: I started this entry while out of town this past weekend.  It was written over the course of a few days, and finished up once I got back home.  If the tone jumps around a lot (hopefully that’s not the case), that’s why.  There’s more I’d like to say on the matter, but I’m going to post this mostly as a snapshot of my feelings at the time.]

Southern California is… interesting.

As I write this (in the past) I am sitting in a dark rental car, because the alternative is a house party with a bunch of people I don’t know with music that’s way too loud.  So here I sit: in the back seat, with the window rolled down and the doors locked,  parked on the winding road of an upscale Santa Monica neighborhood.  Writing by the glow of my tablet.

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The Masks We Wear

For whom and I writing? If I am writing for myself, then why am I publishing these scribbles publicly? If I am writing for others, why do I spend so much time navel-gazing? It is an interesting dichotomy, and one which has gotten me thinking about masks.

Whether we do it consciously or not, we all wear masks. Not physically of course, but socially and mentally. I for one know I am not the same person when I am talking to my coworkers versus my good friends. I act differently, but I also find myself thinking differently, almost playing a role depending on the situation. My girlfriend sees different sides of me than my parents or brother do, and not just in the obvious ways (sorry bro, you’re just not my type). I see myself in yet another light, given that I spend a whole lot of time trapped in my own head with my thoughts, from dreary to delightful. And that is all well and good; like I said, everyone must do that to some extent. But how does this relate to my blogging?

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Tech Envy

I have an interesting relationship with technology. It is a huge part of my day-to-day life, but at no time am I anywhere on the bleeding (let alone cutting) edge. My laptop is five years old, and I used my previous one for six years before upgrading (there was a three-year-old used desktop in there as well). I don’t have a smartphone, and I feel no need to upgrade my table to this year’s release. I didn’t get an HDTV until a few months ago. Until late 2010 my most powerful gaming console was a GameCube, and I didn’t pick that up until 2004 or 2005. I can’t bring myself to spend $60 on a video game on release day. I don’t have a Blu-ray player, and my primary camera (when I bother to take one anywhere) is a 3.1 megapixel point-and-shoot I got for my birthday before I left for France (again, around 2004). I have in the past described myself as “a technophile on a budget,” usually out of choice, sometimes out of necessity.

But none of that protects me from the dreaded scourge that is Tech Envy.

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Spinning My Wheels

So after my last post, I decided to declare Wednesday evening (see, this is where having a buffer gets weird) a “Mental Health Night,” meaning that I didn’t go to fighter practice. After writing about the number of things I had to do and the relative lack of time to do them, I decided that my energy would be better spent cleaning up my office than hitting my friends with sticks.

This also got me thinking about the mad rush to productivity I often feel. For years, I have always been needing to do something, usually in the form of schoolwork. True, I took a few years off between college and grad school, but the majority of my life has been spent in some form of learning environment that required me to contribute personal time in order to progress. As such, I feel weird when I don’t have anything I need to do.

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Stretched Thin

I need a break. I am right now most of the way through an 11-day work week, with each day starting at 5 in the morning. My last day off was Tuesday (of last week), and Saturday I had to work in both the morning and the evening. The end result is a creeping level of burnout that leaves me no energy to tackle the increasingly pressing projects that surround me at home. Projects whose deadlines are rapidly approaching. And even when I do finally get a day off, I’ll be traveling out of town. My next chance for real downtime isn’t until Monday, and even then most of the morning will be taken up by getting home. Then it’s back to the grind before the next weekend, when I will be out of town again at an SCA event.

Needless to say, I’m feeling a bit stressed.

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Mom Clean

I am definitely not as “clean” as the rest of my immediate family. When I visit them it’s almost disturbing how spick and span everything feels. Growing up (especially in high school) I worked hard to keep my mess contained to my room; as long as the door could close, I didn’t see what the problem was. The problem, of course, came when the cleaning lady came by and I had to “pre-clean” my room so that she could “clean” it. But these states of intermittent order never lasted. Entropy always prevailed. And there is one phrase which still manages to strike terror into my superstitious and cowardly heart.

Mom Clean.

Mom Clean is an unattainable state of perfection where everything must be in order down to the most minute, microscopic level. Just finished vacuuming? Wrong! There’s an infinitesimal amount of dust, so small that the Heisenberg Uncertainty Principle comes into play. Just washed the pots from dinner? There’s a nigh-imperceptible film that must be destroyed! Just put your clothes in your dresser? It is sensed when they are not folded properly!

Okay, that last one might be a bit of a stretch. But hopefully you see my point. Words alone cannot describe the creeping dread the ideal of Mom Clean instills in me.

Growing up, Mom Clean always seemed like some unattainable Platonic ideal, any effort never enough. Definitely not the kind of thing you want to hold up to a budding perfectionist as a goal. Even to this day it is ever out of my reach, but it is ameliorated by the fact that I now live on my own, and have veto power over which closet doors are opened and which shall forever hold back the gibbering horrors within.

Needless to say, it was quite a source of anxiety for me growing up, exacerbated by my outlier status when it comes to Messy/Dirty. It doesn’t bother me much these days, but whenever I have to entertain family members (not just my mom) it twitches back to life. I often wonder if my general messiness developed as a reaction to Mom Clean during my (surprising un-)surly teenage years.

I imagine other people have a Mom Clean, even if it’s not related to cleanliness, or even their parents. Those things which are ever out of our reach, but we feel bad for not making it as far as we think we should. I’m sure there’s something deep and profound there, but it’s escaping me at the moment. Oh yeah: don’t feel bad for failing to accomplish something that is beyond your skills. You may improve with time, but sometimes there are just limits that we must learn to appreciate.

Don’t worry, I still love you, Mom. Just be sure to give me some advance warning before you visit; it would be better for us both.