Smoke Rings

| Saturday, May 30, 2009

Finally got to light one of my sticks of incense today.

It's been a while since I've done that. The last time was probably at the end of summer last year. Smelling the smoke and the early season twilight, I felt like I had come full circle. Full circle, among many overlapping others.

Last time I sat in the grass with friends with a stick of incense was in a small field on the edge of the Portland Saturday Market. It was a bright and bustling summer afternoon, and we were fairly bored and restless. As we looked through a book of Post Secret postcards, a hobo joined our small circle of three and chatted us up. As strange as the situation was, I felt like I could not be happier sitting in that grass. I was soaking in the summer, memories of which were stained and blurred with the epiphany of first love. That summer burned away. Now is a new summer.

There was a welcome breeze tonight that required us to bring sweatshirts. The plan had officially been to come out and do homework outside. He had no problem getting busy on his programming assignments on his own laptop beside me, but as soon as I opened my laptop I had to close it again--the blue-gray sky and the green-brown scenery demanded my attention. It seemed a sin to ignore this beauty.

Looking around, I was pulled deep into the scenery. Not just the shapes and colors, but the feel and the smell and the relative silence. By no means had we walked out to some Klamath Falls viewpoint, either. We had simply settled on a dry patch of grass next to a tree in front of Purvine building.

Nostalgia. That's what I felt.

Was it the incense? Although my family was not generally a fan of incense, it was used at my grandfather's funeral in Japan. I was seven. I gazed at the friendly orange building lights on Semon Hall and thought of the light pollution in Sapporo, my first home. You could only see a third of the sky there due to the dense population of structures. Someday, I'm going to look back on this moment and wish I was young again, here again. I felt like I was in both the past and future. I might always feel like I have unfinished business, but I will try to live what I can. Is it possible to step back to try to fix something? Maybe, maybe not.

That stick of incense probably lasted 45 minutes, and for 45 minutes I intensely enjoyed doing nothing. I was often bored as a child, so I had learned to amuse myself when I had nothing to do. A necessary tool. It was still burning when we were ready to go, so I picked it out of the ground and we walked a path that we rarely took. The breeze on our backs synchronized the smoke with our pace. When I swung my arms, it left smoke rings by my side. We passed people on the way, others that were appreciative of the warm Saturday darkness. I had missed this. I dropped the remaining minute of incense in the cigarette disposal by the south entrance. I hoped it sweetened the bin, if even slightly.

It's when I rediscover an old friend on Facebook

| Thursday, May 21, 2009

By rediscover, I don't mean I become friends with them again. I mean we accept each other's friend requests and then never talk to each other, but (at least on my side) I look through their photos and check their status messages when I see them posted. Which isn't often, because they have a life.

I'm looking through an album she posted. She and her wonderful family and friends went to Europe. Absolutely breathtaking. The faces I used to know...

It's another of those evenings where I remember, I don't really know many people. I don't do much. I don't live a whole lot. Beauty is something I live for, and my search for beauty takes the shape of my mundane everyday activities-- reword, my chronic addiction-- the internet. Beauty in an ultra-accessible form. I can view images, download audio, and play films. I can meet and contact people all over the world.

But can I go to Europe? Can I feel like I'm part of something real?

The internet can be a lot of things. I could live my entire life in it, but I think I would fade off the earth if I did.

I exaggerate. I'm not that far yet. I still try to stay active in real life--go to events I want to attend and meet people if I have the chance to. I would get a job here if it was easier. It's strange but I miss working. There's a feeling of purpose in it. Even with a minimum wage job, if I get to personally help someone in need, stupid little things like they need their thermos filled with ice or they need a towel to soak up spilled juice with, if I get to help--then I have served a purpose. A +1 to my score to take the edge off the -1's. I guess I can go back to that, as much as I persist on getting some IT-related job over the summer to gain relevant experience.

I've been searching for jobs like that on and off the past few weeks, and something I've realized is that no matter how far I get, it's still hard to feel very qualified. Everyone wants a Bachelors and 5+ years experience. I thought things would be better for me after going into college. What has changed is that I am more "adult" than I used to be. Yes, my range of possible jobs have increased. I have a better chance of getting a job at Office Depot or WinCo now, or in other industries that the bulk of society looks down on. That would be a no.

Where am I?

I'm in college in pursuit of a degree that will help me get a good job, if standards don't keep rising (just an illusion, right?). I am almost done with my first year. I am getting a summer job to help the costs of school. I have made some new friends and lost some old friends. I am writing a blog that I will probably regret later, but for the sake of this feeling of clarity in my mind, I keep writing.

Where am I?

I am alone, but online. I am losing money, I am alone, and I have an internet addiction. I have art and beauty at my fingertips. I have the freedom to walk outside at any time and find my own morsel of beauty. I have the freedom to leave. To gather more silver, and lose the gold. Freedom, luck, love, and support. I have more than I can keep within sight at all times. I try to be optimistic. Forgive me.

Feels Right

| Tuesday, May 19, 2009

I just got caught up in another internet find: a fairly small collection of vignettes called For Some Reason it Never Feels Right. It is a first person narration of various events or thoughts from her life. I first found it months ago through Reddit as somehow, one of the vignettes had been upvoted enough for me to see it. It was the title vignette. It starts right off with its introductory statement: "In high school, I was sexually desperate." I read on and was captivated by how bizarre and embarrassingly blunt this short story was. I giggled and sadfaced and was taken aback but completely related, sometimes. I must've read it about 4 times total, through bookmarking and forgetting about it multiple times. It was only today that I found the rest of the series, and when I did, I read them all. I wish there were more.

Usually I satisfy these cravings for quirky stories of depressed people by reading my old favorite, You Don't Know Me by David Klass, but I had lent it to so many people that somewhere in the exchange it got lost. I used to read that thing at least once a year when things got stressful. So depressing but so charmingly funny. It always fit me into a good niche and gave me a strange sort of hope.

Now that I'm on the internet more often than not, and reading blogs certainly more often than reading books, For Some Reason it Never Feels Right was a welcome break from the rest of the silliness of the internet and everyday life (both of which I love, but anything can use a break). I just wanted to share.

Death from Below

| Thursday, May 7, 2009

OIT doesn't have a whole lot of "culture"--we're an IT school, and we know what we are: smart, white, geeky, and largely apathetic. There are small groups and clubs here and there that try to help culturize the place a little more (admittedly, I'm not in any of them) and their events come and go with relatively small fanfare. I don't even hear about most of them, because I don't read the daily newsletter every day, and I am usually too busy to stop and record some dates and times and locations of some of the things I would be interested in.

Even if I do, I often don't go because my friends are usually perfectly content with their local entertainment (TV, games, internet, and movies). It's fine, but I wish I had a couple other buddies to just go and do stuff with. People have those, right? Friends that are maybe more like acquaintances but they go and do stuff together because they have that in common at the very least? I don't get out much, so I don't have friends like that. Gotta love catch 22s.

To get back from a tangent, I was in a festive mood after OIT's annual sausage fest today--it was full of good wieners and phallic humor. Although I went to that alone as well, I was in pretty okay spirits, and I decided it could be fun to attend the poetry performance/comedy show. At first it was awkward as hell. I sat near the front in a corner of the center rows, and barely anyone was there. Gradually more people came in, though it was still a fairly medium-small crowd, and they filled the other three corners of that area. They came in groups but all groups seemed to know each other. The beautiful people. Some things never change. I felt increasingly gloomy in my empty corner until the lights dimmed and a soft glow of the spotlights filled the stage.

Dan "Sully" Sullivan and a Chinese man that I can't find the name of came onstage. Apparently Sully usually performs with Tim Stafford, but not tonight. The Chinese guy was really good though--I wish I could find him on their Myspace or remember his name when they introduced themselves in their laid-back way. Then, they launched into their introduction, which explained their name.

This is a TV performance of their intro:


Pretty intense. I wasn't expecting it.

Here's another one they did:


Can't find too much of their stuff on Youtube, but there they be. They're not that angry the whole time, haha, that's just what's online. They also did single-person poetry readings, both funny and serious.

There's poetry in book form, and there are poetry readings. They really are two completely different experiences! Both have those intricate weavings of creative language, but an actual performance is so filled with the poet's personal energy that instead of taking effort to follow text and random line breaks, the voice simply washes over you and carries you into another world. I loved it.

This was their last show on tour, and although we were a small crowd, I was glad that the beautiful people were so loud and supportive. I'm not a very loud person, myself. I went "Aww" when they said they were about to do their last poem, but it was a good one about capture the flag, about keeping their youthful spirits alive. It was fitting.

Art and beauty is what I live for. Although it might seem unusual to call comedy "art" or "beautiful", I'm talking about the energy of a live performance, and that is definitely beautiful. Not to mention their words.

I need to go to more events here at OIT. Even if I have to go on my own.


I talked to Sully at the end and shook his hand. He was selling his poetry booklets and CDs, but I had no cash at the time, and as I held his book he told me I could hang on to it. :) He even remembered my name when I said bye. Hee. What a good guy.

The CD can be purchased on their Myspace. I've torrented pretty much everything I've got, but I would definitely not feel dirty buying their disk.

Thank you for the entertainment.