Wednesday, January 28, 2004

"A Pocket Full of Mumbles"

Well, I got all the stuff I need to make the Yeti CDs. Ended up costing me over $45, so I hope there are enough people interested in these damn things to make it worth my while.

I've been listening to Bob Dylan's album Desire all day. I like every song on there except "Joey," and I really just don't care for the pacing or story in it. The rest of the album is great, and has a couple of his greatest story songs in it--"Hurricane," about Ruben Carter, and "Isis," a tale of love, graverobbing, and deceptive guys who steal your blanket. It's also got "Sara," the song he wrote about his ex-wife telling her just exactly how much she'd meant to him. Very moving song, really. It's just such a wonderful album, and so full of energy and surreal images.

I borrowed the fifth Harry Potter book from Beth last night after we'd watched the Sorcerer's Stone DVD. The Harry Potter books are a slight guilty pleasure, really. As a historian, I have to spend so much of my time reading dusty, ponderous tomes of long-dead people. It's nice to be able to relax once in a while with something a little less heavy, such as Harry Potter or a good Terry Pratchett novel. Admittedly, the Harry Potter books get darker and darker, but they are still children's books, and as such have a sort of levity to them that is sorely lacking in books about the Great War (World War I, for those of you not from Europe) and the horrors of trench warfare and Russian ballet.

As the weekend draws nearer, I'm really beginning to anticipate my impending trip. Monica emailed today and asked if I'd be willing to co-host the WA Press, acting as a sort of MC for the evening. I told her I'd be delighted, because frankly, I would be. I've really missed being involved in WA Press and Falstaff since I left Ozarks, and will gladly take this opportunity to expose new, fresh faces to its glory. The only thing missing is my sibling. If he were in the States right now, we could've done a Yeti show there, too. Ah well. I'll be hocking Yeti merch, so that's almost as good.

~chaos cricket

Song of the Moment: Simon and Garfunkel, "The Boxer"

Monday, January 26, 2004

"The Best-Laid Plans"

Suddenly, the next few weeks are very planned-out, which is weird for me. I barely plan what I'm going to do in the next ten minutes, let alone what I'm going to do weeks from now. But such is the nature of things at this moment that I sorta have to know what's happening then, now, so I'm planning.

First thing's first--Ozarks this weekend. I'm making that trip, hell or high water (though possibly not ice...driving in nasty ice stuff is no fun). Before I can do that, though, I need to get my FAFSA finished (I get to fill it out as an independent this year--woo! Wait, crap). Also need to get an outline/plan of action for the thesis mapped out (mom's orders...God, I'm going to be independent, and I'm still jumping when my parents say so? Eesh). Easy enough.

The harder part--I have to get all the stuff together to make the Yeti CDs. That requires finding it all, shelling out the necessary cash, and then figuring out the programs and stuff. Then do it all. But that'll be pretty fun, actually, and once I get it figured out, it'll be easy as hell, too.

From there, things get quiet for a week or so, then hectic again. On the 7th of February, I'm apparently going to run in a race up in Ponca City, my place of birth and the residence of my maternal grandparents. How I let dad keep talking me into these things, I'll never know. On the other hand, I'm developing quite a nice collection of t-shirts from these things, and any extra shirt means one more day of not doing laundry.

The week after that is crazy. On the 12th, I have a prospectus for my 20th Cenutry Europe paper. Easy enough. That's also the day that Wendy will be coming to Oklahoma, so from then until the 16th, I'm unavailable unless you're her. Or work. Stupid work.

Okay, maybe not unavailable. But harder to reach, and probably a bit preoccupied. Plus, I get to meet her new boy, Tim. That should be fun. For some reason, I it in my head that my friends' new significant others must meet some sort of standard set by me, or I won't allow them to date or something. I dunno. I like pretending that I need to approve of the guy, and that my opinion in the matter actually matters two bits.

After that, things get a bit hazy until the end of February, when I have a history conference. I know I'll be working on the Master's Thesis during that time, and various other things (including work for my class), but the whens and whyfors and hows are all shrouded in what could be called "mystery."

And that's sorta how things will work for a while. By Spring Break, I'm hoping to have the Master's Thesis finished, have heard from at least one college (and hopefully it'll be a positive message), and sorta have a game plan for the summer. Whether or not that will happen...well, time will tell.

~chaos cricket

Song of the Moment: Bruce Springsteen, "Dancin' in the Dark"

Sunday, January 25, 2004

"You're Gonna Need A Quality Shoe"

So I bought a new pair of tennis shoes last night. Why? Well, my old shoes (old running shoes, actually) bit the dust last weekend when I helped Ev move. It happened to be raining the entire time, and my shoes were pretty beat up as it stood (no pun intended), so I decided it was time for new kicks.

Easier said, of course, than done.

Went to Just for Feet first. They were having a really good sale, and that's usually where I purchase my running shoes (past two pair from the one in Norman, actually). Well, I find a pair I rather like, ask the guy to find my size in the back, and he can't. Repeat this process two or three more times, and I'm starting to get frustrated. So I head off for the mall, determined to try to find a pair of shoes that're comfortable and fit well and are within my price range.

The next store I visit is worthless. Of the styles they had that I actually liked (which were very few), they never had my size, and they weren't within my price range. I could tell my reluctance to spend less that $100 on a pair of shoes annoyed the salesman, but I'm a graduate student, and I don't see the point in wasting so much money on shoes. They cover my feet. As long as they're comfortable, look decent, and keep my feet dry/warm/unblistered, I'm happy.

So it's off for another store; this time Famous Footwear. I amble about the store, just looking. Here for once (in contrast to the previous two stores) were salespeople who were not so desperate to make a sale that they damn-near jumped me and started beating me over the head with name-brand shoes. I found a pair I liked that fit and were within my price range. The salesman was helpful, friendly, and not too aggressive. I was happy with that, and now I have new shoes.

The whole thing about salesmen on commission is that they're more interested in selling you the most expensive pair of shoes they can than in making sure you the customer are happy. Commission sales have always annoyed me. It encourages people to be pushy and aggressive instead of laid back, and it makes the whole shopping experience unpleasant. I have needs to attend to, and they don't include spending more on a pair of ugly shoes than I spend on groceries in a month. I just wanted a decent pair of shoes. Who gives a flying rodent's left earlobe if they were really expensive? I sure don't. I'd rather have the $30 or $40 pair than the $100 pair. I just can't justify spending more than about $40 on shoes, unless they're running shoes. And that's different--as heavy as I am, I need shoes with really good cushioned support or I won't have any knees by the time I'm 25 (only a little over a year away, now...Lord, I'm getting old).

Anyway, yeah, I have new shoes now. Which is nice. The others can be retired...well, after next weekend, when I wear them while helping Miss Erisman move.

All I can say is that no one better be moving again until at least May. Of course, then I'll be moving, and Beth, and...

Argh. Too much moving. When I rule the world, I'm decreeing that people cannot move around anymore. You're tied to your locality. It'll be like the Middle Ages again, when everyone is tied to the land and no one can go anywhere. It'll be perfect.

~chaos cricket

Song of the Moment: Mark Knopfler, "Quality Shoe"
"A Generation Lost In Space"

So I keep hearing about Bush's new space program or whatever you want to call it. Send folks back to the moon. Build a colony up there. Then--Mars. It's as though he were pulling his policy from 1950s serialized sci-fi comics.

I remember a few years ago, I was listening to a professor in our Sci-Fi/Fantasy class talk about the possibility of having a moon colony or whatnot. I'd wondered about it myself--having read some of the old 1950s and '60s childrens' books that figured we'd all be living on the moon by this time, I wondered why you never heard anything about the possibility after about, oh, say Apollo 11. The professor basically just told me that it was a pipedream and that no one seriously thought we were going to do that sort of thing anymore.

Either I was lied to, or no one told Bush this.

It all does seem rather fanciful, though. Almost laughable, even. I have to wonder--we have enough trouble getting things right here on Earth. Do we really want to go to someplace more cramped, more dangerous, and more likely to go *ka-BOOOM!* if we screw something up? Not to mention all the freakin' money it would cost? Money that could be spent better elsewhere, say, providing better educational funding. Or figuring out a way to get along with everyone (here's a hint--stop starting wars with everyone who looks at us crosseyed! Especially if they're yetis).

But ultimately, I don't think anyone's going to go along with the idea, especially Congress. When we can't even keep a robot on Mars from getting cut off from us, do we want to chance it with people?

Unless, of course, they let me pick the people we send. In which case, I'd be very happy to chance it. Maybe even stack the chances in favor of Mars.

~chaos cricket

Song of the Moment: Moxy Fruvous, "You Will go to the Moon"

Saturday, January 24, 2004

"Of Yetis and Visitations"

I'm trying to sound out opinions on something--I'm thinking of getting the necessary supplies to create Cross-Eyed Yeti albums. We're talking CD labels, jewel cases, case inserts, the whole shebang. If there's enough interest in it (i.e., enough people are willing to pay me $5 to listen to me "sing" and to Clyde play the guitar), I'll do it, and probably sell them at WA Press next week and then to anyone who wants one.

Which reminds me--it appears I'm going to be able to make a trip to Ozarks next weekend. This is very good news indeed--I haven't gotten to see them in a few months, and I don't get to make nearly as many visits there as I'd like. As it stands, several of my friends from there are graduated now, and the number of people I can visit dwindles with each passing semester. Soon, there will be only one or two people there worth visiting. As it stands, I probably won't be able to visit much after this semester, since God only knows where I'll be (for my education and future's sake, hopefully not Oklahoma).

It just keeps reminding me how fast time has gone by, I guess. This time last year, I was still making monthly trips to Ozarks. Chris and JP and James were still there. Heather was still there. The majority of the people I cared about most in the world were contained in a single Arkansan town, and I could visit them all with ease. Now, of course, Chris and JP are in Seattle, James is in Fayetteville, Heather's in El Dorado, and I can't visit everyone at once.

I know I seem to harp on this subject a lot, but my life's in something of a transition right now. I don't feel like I've been in Norman long enough for it to be "home," though I noticed I've started referring to the apartment as that. Ozarks can't really be home anymore, nor can my parents' place. I really don't have anyplace to think of as where I belong. I've tried to belong here in Norman, and sometimes I feel I do. When I'm hanging out with Jess and Dom, or Beth, or Ev, it feels comfortable, as though that's where I'm supposed to be. But then any other time of the day, or the week or month or whatever...Norman just feels like a place where I'm letting the engine idle, a limbo where I don't really belong. I guess it's because a part of me is always thinking, "I'm not here for much longer, so there's no reason to get attached to the place."

Also, it seems like no place can ever feel as home-like as Ozarks did. I know it has less to do with Clarksville or even the school (though I always liked the school...I know several other alumni and alumnae and even current students don't think too highly of the place, but I think I got a very high-quality education there, and feel that I was treated pretty fairly for the most part and that I was only screwed around by the administration a reasonably few number of times). The reason it felt like home was the people. And it's not that I don't care for my friends here--on the contrary, I care for them very deeply. I feel that I can talk to Ev about anything, and that I always have a place to go with Jess and Dom, and that Beth is always ready and willing to just hang out and be one of the most fun people I've been around in a long time. Those four people mean very much to me, and I wouldn't trade them for the world. But let's face it--I had more time to get closer to the Ozarks crew, and was in a different situation there. I lived in close proximity with them. Here, everyone is so spread out and running around keeping up with their hectic lives. It's become that way with the Ozarks crew, too, but I still had a good two or three or even four years of living amongst a group of people that I came to think of as my brothers and my sisters, and I miss them very much.

I've often said that family are people you sorta have to love. You're basically obligated. You don't get to choose them; you're stuck with the folks fate picked for you from before you were born. But friends...friends are those you love because you want to, because you chose them. So in a way, the bond you form with your friends is much stronger than the bond you'll form with your family. That's why I hate letting go of any friend. That's why being so far from so many of them is difficult for me. And not just the Ozarks crew--I miss them, to be sure, but I miss Wendy, I miss a couple of others from high school, I miss people I knew years ago whom I haven't seen since I was in short pants, as the cliche goes.

I don't know why some nights seem to be harder to bear than others, they just are. I don't know what triggers these bouts of nostalgia and longing, they just sorta...happen sometimes. I don't think it's because I'm a manic-depressive or anything like that. I just feel...wistful tonight.

~chaos cricket

Song of the Moment: Coldplay, "Clocks"

Thursday, January 22, 2004

"Kupo, Bi-atch"

I've been playing more Final Fantasy Tactics Advance than is probably healthy. It's one of those games where I sit there and think, "Hey, I don't have to leave for class for ten minutes. That's enough time for a battle." I'm not playing at stoplights or anything, but it seems that anytime I've got a few minutes available, I'm firing up the ol' GBA and getting in a quick round. I've logged nearly 40 hours on the game, and really have no idea how far along I am. I've unlocked lots of new jobs, though I haven't gotten around to trying them all out, and I'm still not sure how to use a couple of them (such as blue magic). It's just such an engrossing game, and I'm just such a geek.

There ought to be some sort of medicine or something I can take for this.

I'm probably going to have to play through it again after I beat it, because I haven't even really used one of the races, which means I haven't been able to unlock their race-specific jobs or anything like that. It's really almost too late in the game to start now. I'd never be able to get them to a high enough level or to learn their stuff fast enough to catch up with the half dozen or so characters I've been using constantly. And I've got a pretty powerful, well-rounded group. I've got magic users, and swordsmen (and women), and an archer or two. And I have a moogle. The moogle rocks, because they just do, y'know?

Anyway, time that could be better spent (doing, say, research or reading for class or something of that nature) has been devoted to this obsession. We have my siblings to blame, really, since they got it for me for Christmas.

So yeah, kupo.

~chaos cricket

Song of the Moment: Wallflowers, "Too Late to Quit"

Tuesday, January 20, 2004

"The Three Men I Admire Most--The Father, Son, And Holy Ghost"

I often wonder how people perceive my spirituality, if they do at all. Do I come across as a religious or spiritual person? Or maybe as agnostic or atheist, even?

It's a question that bothers me from time to time, and one that I've been thinking about today. Years ago, I had someone tell me that they were surprised to find out I was Christian, because I didn't act like it. This was coming from someone who is a pagan, so I don't know if that comment was a complement or not, but it still bothered me. Do I actually come across as atheist? I am most definitely not, though I may be riddled and plagued with doubt and concerns.

I like to think that I'm a very spiritual person. Perhaps not as enamoured of organized religion as I once was, but I blame education for that fact. In fact, I think it's safe to say that the way I think about religion, spirituality, and God are all shaped by the fact that I've had what you might call an excess of education in certain areas. I have been trained to think critically about things, to question and pick things apart until I understand what people think and why they think them. In the process, some of what people believe inevitably comes across as superstition or ludicrous, outdated modes of thinking that simply cannot work in today's world. But I still think that, at the core of my being, I am a spiritual person. I believe in God, though I know not the nature of that Being. I try to be reverent, though I know I'm often not.

But I still wonder how I'm perceived. I'll admit, oftentimes I get wrapped up in concerns that are entirely of this world. Sometimes I'm too materialistic, sometimes I'm too worried about stuff and whether or not I have things. I let stuff that's ultimately meaningless and empty dictate my life sometimes, and I let stupidity and prejudice enter my mind and control my actions. I sin, I don't try to tell others about any sort of message, and I'm sometimes an exceptionally mean person.

On the other hand, I also still like to think that I lead a good, Christian life, or at least try to. I've taken the message--the Golden Rule ("do unto others," not "he who has the gold makes the rules"), the Good Samaritan, loving my neighbor--and I've engrained them into my very being, made them a part of me. Anything that is within my power to help someone, I try to do. I try to lead a good life, to be the person I know I'm supposed to be. If I sometimes fail--which I know I do, because I'm a fallible, frail person--I try to make amends, I try to move beyond it and do better the next time. I like to think that, deep in my heart, I've accepted Christ, and that I'm who He'd want me to be. But am I?

Ultimately, what other people think about me is unimportant. Yet it still bothers me that people might perceive me as something I'm not. But maybe all this concern is unimportant. Maybe I've made my point many times. I mean, look at the comics I do--Crooked Halo, which deals with the issues of trusting God, dealing with doubt, and overcoming temptation (or Tim Tation, as the case may be); and Troubled Times, which deals with much the same issues in a more serious and action-packed sort of way. The former is somewhat irreverent, the latter is less so, but they keep going back to a single fact--I start from the assumption that there is a God, that He or She or It is a Loving Being who created everything, and that life has a purpose. Trials have a purpose. Good things happen for a reason, and so do bad. Perhaps the reason a bad thing happens is to teach us a lesson, or to show us how good we had it. Maybe good things happen as a reward, or as a way of saying, "hey, chin up, you can make it." I think God speaks to me, to something deep inside of me that I can't articulate in thoughts or words, but I can almost feel a tangible presence sometimes.

A couple of years ago, when I was in Yellowstone, I was sitting outside one evening watching the sun set. This was just after a rather emotionally draining year at Ozarks, one which left me on the verge of mental and physical breakdown. Had school lasted even another week, I don't think I'd have made it. I wasn't sleeping, I wasn't eating well, I was sitting awake at night just thinking about things that only depressed me. But then Clif and I went to Yellowstone. The separation from my friends hurt; hurt probably more than anything I've ever experienced in my life. But it also separated me from the anxieties I'd faced at school and at home. It forced me to come face to face with who I was and where I was in my life.

So anyway, I was sitting there watching the sunset. And it was beautiful. I really can't do it justice, because I'm decent with words, but not that good. It was just something about the mountains, and the stars coming out one by one, and the air slowly cooling and giving up the heat of the day...I just started to smile, and to feel all the tension and fear and anxiety drain out of me. For a few minutes, I had no worries, no stress, nothing but me and the sunset. And I was at peace; total, complete peace. And I think in that moment, I truly understood who I was, and I felt God's presence. Maybe that sounds a little hokey, but then again, I don't really care what you think about it. It was my moment, my connection to the Divine, and I'll never forget it.

Since then, anxieties have returned, doubt has crept back in as it always does, and my life is full of stress and uncertainties. But I can handle them now. I can deal with the stress and doubt, I can deal with being hundreds of miles away from the majority of the people I care about more than life itself. I will survive, because I know that there is a God out there watching over me. And that is very comforting.


Song of the Moment: Newsboys, "Shine"

Monday, January 19, 2004

"Can Music Save Your Mortal Soul?"

Well, the past two nights, I have stayed up until about 6.00 am. Which is all well and good, because I'm spending most of that time with people (specifically, Beth), but still...that's really throwing off my sleep pattern.

Actually, last night wouldn't have been so late if it weren't for the comic. We left Jess and Dom's place around 4.00 am, and I dropped Beth off at her place and came back here. I was getting ready to go to bed, and remembered I hadn't done a comic for today yet. So I stayed awake and did a comic. I finally got it all uploaded and the site updated by 6.00 am. So I hope everyone appreciates the comic. That's right--I go the extra mile for my readers, because I have made a commitment to provide them with consistant entertainment. I'm actually halfway pleased with the way it turned out, especially since it was so damn early when I was drawing it.

Anyway, last night was fun. We all sat and played Lord of the Rings Risk, which is apparently a little bit different from regular Risk. You get these Adventure cards which you can use to get extra battilions or destroy some of your opponent's battillions or gain or eliminate an advantage. It was guys against girls, and going rather poorly for the boys until the very end, when I went on a run and took like ten or eleven territories, three or four strongholds, and basically won the game (by two points...very, very close). The game was actually interesting and entertaining enough to keep me playing even when we were losing so badly. And hey, it paid off--I consolidated the forces of darkness in Mordor and Haradwaith (in the southernmost part of Middle Earth), and then pushed up and out. I drove the forces of good before me, and smote them mightily upon my sword. And yea, it was fun. And lucky--Beth could roll nothing but 5 and 6 until the very end, when I went on my rampage, and Jess had like 25 territories before my run. The forces of darkness were getting their asses kicked for most of the game, that's for sure.

This extended weekend's really going to throw me off tomorrow when I have to return to class and work. I've done literally nothing school related since Thursday. Four days of just kickin' back and relaxing...well, not totally, since I went home Friday and helped Ev move Saturday. But maxin' and relaxin' besides that. Ah well--I almost don't know what to do with all the extra time anyway, so this is probably for the best.

~chaos cricket

Song of the Moment: Don McLean, "American Pie"

Sunday, January 18, 2004

"Movin' On Up"

So yesterday I helped Ev move into a new apartment. He's now two buildings over from me, right across the parking lot basically. Which is cool, because now I can annoy the hell out of my coworker at will.

But the man has a lot of stuff. It's mostly books and papers and God knows what else, but there's a lot of it. The fact that we were able to get it all moved to the new apartment in about 8 hours total is pretty damn impressive...especially considering that his last move (back over the summer) took place over a few days and had more people helping. I chalk most of it up to the fact that he hadn't unpacked most of his stuff from that move still, and the fact that he got virutally everything else boxed up before we started the move. Having things already boxed should not be taken lightly--that single aspect saved us countless hours, I'm sure, because we spent most of the time during the previous move boxing up all the loose stuff he has.

Granted, the fact that he got rid of like 12 boxes worth of crap between moves really helped, too.

All told, my arms and legs are a bit sore today from all the lifting (amusingly enough, I'm one of his stronger friends...which tells you quite a bit about the people he usually hangs out with). I'm not hurt to the point of immobility, mind, just kinda sore.

Anyway, I basically spent all afternoon and part of the early evening helping Ev move. Then I went and hung out with Beth for like eight or nine hours. We watched the two Toy Story movies (which I hadn't seen since my last trip to Virginia...and that was back in August of 2002, right after I got back from Yellowstone). I'd forgotten just how funny those movies are, and how well-done they are. You could see the improvement from the first one to the second one. It was almost startling. I'd never watched them back to back like that, and though the first one is amazingly well done, it's nothing compared to the second in terms of the art and the images. They're both very funny and warm movies, and I really wish I could find them on DVD myself.

Anyway, after our little mini movie marathon, we channel surfed for a while (digital cable's pretty damn cool, says the man who doesn't even have basic cable and never really watches TV). Ended up watching a downright ancient episode of Saturday Night Live (had Bill Murray, Dan Akroyd doing the Coneheads, and Andy Kauffman), then flipping through random channels until we found this old '70s movie called Image of the Beast. Think of the Left Behind books and movies. Now imagine they were made in the '70s, only without any sort of decent acting or special effects or script or anything like that. It was really, really bad, but in that trainwreck sort of way that kept drawing you in to it, to the point that you couldn't understand why you were fascinated with it, but just had to keep watching. I think Beth was finally able to turn it off simply because leaving it on meant we kept laughing at how straight-faced all the actors were while they delivered some of the campiest lines I've ever heard. I felt almost bad for laughing at it, given the subject matter. I mean, it dealt with matters of prophecy and the end times and the like, and while this can be done well (this was not such an instance, but I know it can be done well), you feel bad about laughing at it when it's done badly. Almost like you're laughing at Jesus, I dunno. Though I've probably already earned myself a personal spot in the lowest bowels of hell for other things (unless God has a really understanding sense of's my only hope, really), so I guess laughing at this absolutely atrocious movie wasn't going to do me much harm.

My main issue with it, though, was trying to figure out who the movie would appeal to. My main guess was folks who already believed in the ideas and values the movie espoused. In which case, there was really no reason for the silly thing to be made. It probably wasn't likely to make many converts--those who would be tempted to believe what the movie talked about and proported wouldn't likely feel that the movie itself did a good job of presenting its case. Those who wouldn't be convinced wouldn't see the movie anyway. It all just seemed so...pointless.

But it was amusing at 3.00 am, I'll give it that. And considering we stayed up for a good two and a half hours more after that, I'd say we were at least entertained by everything.

~chaos cricket

Song of the Moment: Sheryl Crow, "Leaving Las Vegas"

Saturday, January 17, 2004

Only Human on the Inside

First off, congrats on the fan mail! Print it out, frame it, and hang it with a pretty bow. (Ok, maybe not so much the bow, but... Congrats, nonetheless). Never can tell, you may eventually start getting so many fan mails that you have to open a new account for it all. (Hmm.. maybe the bow would be a good idea, after all.. pretty bows...)

Now... There is absolutely no reason for you to believe you're a failure as a human being. We all make assumptions and mistakes, and often the two go hand in hand. It's really not your fault that you've assumed these things. You wouldn't have assumed anything, if someone hadn't said, or done, something to make you believe it. You know as well as I do that some people (myself included, a lot of the time) have a habit of ranting and raving when something goes wrong and not saying very much, at all, about the good, when it finally happens. Like so much in this life, the good is taken for granted, and yes, it's wrong and should be remedied (still working on it, on my part). There's not as much of a drive to let everyone know when everything seems to be going decently as there is when there's something or someone about whom we want to complain. That's part of why it's called "venting," I think.

You, my friend, are one of the truest, most giving, caring individuals that I have ever had the priviledge of calling a friend. Even when you've had a bad day or are not feeling well, you still put your friends first and try to make sure that they're ok. (Just make sure you put yourself first every now and then, too. K?) You are in no way, shape, or form a failure as a human being. And anyone who says so is going to find themselves with a few bricks upside their respective heads.

So, having said that, I'm off to send imitation fan mail to myself (better than imitation bacon bits, y'know).

"The Man's Too Strong"

There's something to be said for whining about something in an open, public venue where anyone can wander in, see what you've whined about, and perhaps do something about it if they are so inclined.

See, over at Dim Bulb today, I mentioned that we've never received any fanmail from people we don't know (at least, I never have. Can't really speak for Adam). This amused me, as the comic for Friday was all about the cliched webcomic convention of having a "mailbag day" when the artist can't come up with anything else (it wasn't that I couldn't come up with anything else--rather, I just wanted to make fun of the fact that many comic artists have this problem, it seems). Anyway, my rant mentioned we'd never received any reader mail from people we didn't know.

My desire to have feedback is probably well known by anyone who happens to be reading this. I almost crave it, you could say, like an addict craves heating up the ol' spoon for that hit of heroin. I've mentioned before that all I really want is to receive an email or something from a complete stranger saying something to the effect of, "hey, read your comic, really liked it, keep up the good work."

So guess what was in my inbox today when I woke up? No, I mean aside from spam offering to enlarge my penis. That's right--an email from a complete stranger saying they liked my comic.

I wouldn't have believed it was real except that they'd put "Crooked Halo" in the subject line. And they didn't offer to sell me anything, or ask me to help a deposed Nigerian princess. It wasn't anything fancy or spectacular. This person didn't praise my names to the Heavens in some sort of elaborate hossanah. They just simply said they liked my comic and my art style. And that was enough for me.

So I've rather been walking on clouds or sunshine or whatever all afternoon (clouds, probably--it's been cloudy and rainy, so I doubt there's been much sunshine to walk on). I'm sure this single, simple email will be the start of something--by which I mean I'll probably start wanting more and more. Soon, that one little email won't be enough. I'll want well-known people to email me and say they like my stuff, like the guys from Penny Arcade or Mac Hallor 8-Bit Theatre or something.

But we'll take it one step at a time, I think.

~chaos cricket

Song of the Moment: Bob Dylan, "Desolation Row"

Friday, January 16, 2004

"It's Just Enough To Be Strong In The Broken Places"

Despite my every effort to the contrary, I am a failure as a human being. I am, without a doubt, exceptionally flawed and fallible.

Admittedly, so is every single other person in the world. Anyone who tells you otherwise is lying...or trying to sell you something.

But when I say I'm a failure as a human being, what I mean is this--I screw up. A lot. And not just about stupid little things, or even just things that only effect me. I screw up about things involving other people. I misinterpret what I'm told. I jump to (often wrong) conclusions. I commit that most grievous of errors--I assume.

The latter I've noticed in a couple of very obvious lessons of late involving two individuals. The first was when I assumed an acquaintance of mine--not even someone I really knew all that well--was atheist, or at least agnostic at best. And I was completely, totally wrong. I like to pride myself on being a good judge of character and of personality, and I had this girl pegged so completely wrong, it's sad. I just assumed, based on the few things I thought I knew about her, that she wasn't a Christian. It was a terrible thing for me to do, and though I've apologized and she's told me it's not a big deal, it still sorta eats away at my mind.

The second instance dealt with a friend of mine's mother. Everything I'd heard about her mother seemed to be negative. My friend had told me on multiple occasions just how much her mother frustrated her, and how she felt herself becoming more like her mother and how that bothered her. Then in a conversation this past evening, it was completely different--she had nothing but amazing graces on her lips for her mother (and, given the situation, rightly so. The girl's mother went above and beyond the call of even familial duty and obligation in a way that endears this woman I've never met to my heart). I pointed out what seemed to me to be a discrepency--all I'd ever heard was of the negative aspects of my friend's relationship with her mother. But no, come to find out I was mistaken about this as well--her mother was not the heartless harpy I'd envisioned, and for the second time in less than a month, I'd made the mistake of assuming something quite inaccurate and unwarranted. I felt a bit stupid, really.

The second situation reminded me of something that happened a couple of years ago, in a situation rather similiar though with different players. My friend Heather had the habit of telling us whatever was bothering her about her boyfriend. He was, admittedly, rather inattentive at the time (this has since changed, for which I am very thankful). After a particularly upsetting rant, I asked Heather why she was still with the guy. "All we ever hear is how miserable he makes you," I said, speaking for the group (arrogance, folly!). "If he makes you that miserable, why the hell are you still with him?"

Heather looked at me blankly for a moment, then laughed a bit. "Honey, I only tell you the bad things. I don't tell you the good things, because you guys would get sick and tired of hearing about that. He's not that bad, actually." And he's not, really. Heather has presented a more balanced impression of her fiancee since then, and things are fine.

But it all gets me wondering--how many things do I make ridiculous assumptions about without any sort of basis in complete fact? I know that, despite whatever empirical evidence I may have gathered about someone or something, there is always more I do not know. There is always the fact that I'm often basing my opinions and impressions on half-formed, vague ideas and someone else's words. As a historian, I wouldn't rely on someone else to tell me what a primary source says. So why do I do that with people? A question to ponder, to be sure.

I am glad to say, however, that my stupid assumptions have not yet caused any serious problems with my friends. I've done stupid things, they've done stupid things, and we all laugh, forgive, and foget. We grow as people, we learn. Every day, in every way, we are getting better and better. Or at least assuming that we get better.

And let's not forget what happens when we make an assumption. It's cliche, but oh-so true.

~chaos cricket

Song of the Moment: Jars of Clay, "Lesser Things"

Thursday, January 15, 2004

"Birds Without Wings"

I mediated a fight between friends this evening over Messenger. It wasn't something I particularly wanted to do, and I'm not even sure they wanted me to do it, but I did it, and in hindsight do not regret my decision to step in. At the time, I had my doubts, because I felt I was being dragged into something which was not my concern. Then I remembered that anything that happens to my friends is of concern to me, and I felt an internal obligation to do what I could. I'm not sure how much of their reconciliation can be attributed to my intervention, and how much of it was just the two of them coming to terms with one another, but a part of me likes to think I had some sort of positive effect on the preceedings.

I often wonder why I do things like that, though. It's fairly common--I always let myself get caught up in the middle of things that really shouldn't concern me, things that are not going to directly affect me in any way, shape, or form. I try to get friends to reconcile. It just seems...right, I guess, as if that's how things should be. Until I got into college, really, I didn't have very many friends. I had a few in high school, and fewer in elementary and junior high, but in college I suddenly found myself surrounded by people who knew me and loved me anyway. It was a good feeling, and I count myself very lucky to have as many close friends as I do. And their number grows still, for which I am eternally grateful. But I still can't let go of the idea of letting friends go, if you will. A part of me still remembers what it was like being laughed at by everyone at school, and what it was like to always eat lunch alone, play alone at recess, and be made fun of by everyone around me. Part of me still remembers what it's like not having friends.

There's a quote I recall, though I cannot remember who it is by. It goes something to the effect of "he who has a hundred friends has not one to spare." I think there's some truth to that. I don't have anywhere near that many close friends. There are maybe a dozen to two dozen scattered across the country whom I'd consider close friends, people whom I'd trust with my life. As I look at that statement, put down in writing, it occurs to me just how amazing that is. Nearly two dozen people that I'd trust that much, and that I love more than I could ever express. There are really no adequate words for it. Most people count themselves lucky to find one such person in a lifetime, and I've found over 20 in but a couple of decades. I think that makes me one of the luckiest, wealthiest men alive.

The funny thing is, despite having so many, I refuse to let even one go. I don't like letting go of friends, ever. Even if there's been a serious falling out, I refuse to believe that they could no longer be my friend. I cling on long after I should. It actually reminds me of a passage from Terry Pratchett's Small Gods. The small god Om was reminiscing about his first believer, a shepherd out searching for a lost sheep. The shepherd, Om remembered, had hundreds of sheep, yet would search for a single lost lamb. In fact, the reason the shepherd had hundreds of sheep was that he was willing to search for days for a single lost one. I'm not saying I'm a shepherd to my friends or anything, but I think part of the reason I've been blessed with such an abundance of close friends is that I refuse to give up even on one. When I become someone's friend, they do not get rid of me easily.

By the same token, I don't like to see other people lose friends, either. It's very hard for me to understand a parting of ways that is total and permanent. I can't comprehend why people would want to do that. If you love someone dearly, why would you no longer want to be their friend or have anything to do with them? How can you suddenly hate them as well? It's an idea alien to me. In fact, I've only felt it twice, and both times it was in high school, and dealt with a pair of people in whom I had placed trust (and another friend had as well) and that trust was broken in a complete and irreconcilable fashion. Those two people destroyed years of friendship for making out, essentially, and nearly destroyed a dear friend of mine in the process. It was petty, and stupid, and selfish, and I hated them for a long time for it. I don't anymore (rather, I pity them now), but at the time...I wanted nothing to do with them.

But I am still hesitant to ever let the sun go down on my anger with a friend. I've gotten mad at friends many times before. They or I often do something stupid and selfish that sparks a fire inside of me that flares up and consumes me. I've stormed off with rage burning in my heart many times, leaving friends slackjawed behind me. But I always come back and try to repair the breach.

Conflicts are, of course, a part of any relationship, romantic or Platonic or otherwise. Conflict is part of the dynamic and allows us to grow as people. Without it, we'd become stagnant and disconnected from other people and from ourselves. While I'm not glad I've had to fight with my friends, I am always glad that we've worked through our difficulties and come out even stronger than before. I love all of my friends dearly, and consider myself luckier than I could ever express in words to have them. I wouldn't trade even the most difficult and trying moment with a friend for anything else in the world. Maybe I'm just a sentimental sap, but then again, maybe that's not so bad.


Song of the Moment: Jars of Clay, "Trouble Is"

Wednesday, January 14, 2004

"It's Four O'Clock In The Morning, Or Maybe It's Five"

It's 4.00 am, and I'm awake for no reason I can identify. I'm simply...not asleep. I think it's due in large part to worrying. Not about myself, or anything directly connected to me, except insofar as anything that happens to those I care about is connected to me. Truth be told, my mind is nowhere near Norman, OK right now. It's probably cast itself adrift and ended up in Clarksville, as it is wont to do.

So basically I'm really worried about a pair of my Clarksville friends, and for completely different reasons. In either case, I wish there was something I could do to help them. Something other than sit here and listen to them, I mean. Yeah, I'm glad I'm able to act as a confidant, and I'm sure it helps them some, doesn't really solve either of their problems.

I don't know when I got it in my head that I have to try to solve everyone's problems. The cop-out answer is, of course, that I'm a guy, and guys feel the intrinsic need to fix things. But it's more than that. I've never noticed my father try to do this, or my siblings, or any of the other guys I know. It seems...well, not exactly unique to me, but something decidedly unusual, regardless of gender. When did I get my own life so figured out that I could run around solving everyone else's problems? What am I, the personification of the United States; trying to get everyone else straightened out and playing fair while my own affairs go down the proverbial toilet? Admittedly, my own affairs seems fairly straight-forward for once; there is nothing going on in my life that I cannot really handle or cope with. Sure, I've got my usual low-level existential doubt and vague worries that have no name, shape, or face, but those are normal. I'm used to all that.

But it still really bothers me that I can't do more. I think the crux of the problem is this--I'm too damn far away. If I were actually in Clarksville, there'd be a little more I could do. I could comfort a little easier, perhaps, or in a more immediate manner. But's not possible from Norman, not in the way I feel it should be. So I get to sit here and stew over the fact that I keep feeling there is more I could or should be doing, and knowing that I can't do anymore than I currently am doing for them.

And that's why I'm still awake at 4.00 am on a Wednesday morning.


Song of the Moment: Charlie Daniels Band, "Devil went down to Georgia" (hey, it's on the radio, leave me alone)

Tuesday, January 13, 2004

"Your Affectionate Uncle, Screwtape"

I've been reading C. S. Lewis's Screwtape Letters the past week or so. It's a very interesting little collection of fictitious letters written by a senior demon to his nephew, a young temptor named Wormwood. I know reading this sort of thing probably makes me come across as pretentious and more intellectual than I am (especially since I also tend to enjoy the not-so-finer things in life as well, such as beer and pizza and Street Fighter II...the game, not the atrocious movie). But I've been a big fan of C. S. Lewis for years now, ever since I first read the Chronicles of Narnia in like elementary or junior high. Lewis has this way of mixing his religious message with wit, intelligence, insight, style, and a dash of humor that makes his work least, to me, anyway.

It's also interesting to see how this work played a part in two other important works, though they are works of a vastly different nature. The first is Bill Watterson's Calvin and Hobbes, the second is the novel Good Omens, by Terry Pratchett and Neil Gaiman. In the former, Watterson used the name Wormwood for Calvin's teacher. I think I actually pinpointing the passage in the Screwtape Letters that inspired this. It's in the first "letter," and reads: "From the way some of you young fiends talk, anyone would suppose it was our job to teach!" I think I laughed for a good five minutes when I read that.

As far as Lewis' influence on Good Omens, that's a bit more subtle. In the novel, Pratchett and Gaiman developed a character named Crowley, a demon on earth whose job it was to get as many people damned to hell as possible. Crowley went about this in rather unorthodox ways, such as designing a highway around London that, when viewed from above, made the shape of an unholy symbol of evil and power, the name of which escapes me at the moment. It was designed to channel the low-level anger, hate, and aggression that people felt on a daily basis about travelling on that stretch of road into a sort of spiritual funnel, and really add a slight dark tinge, a tarnish to thousands and thousands of souls per day. Crowley thought in terms of quantity, really--he was doing his job, not because he hated mankind, and not because he particularly wanted to damn thousands to hell, but because he was supposed to. He was something of a craftsman, and took pride in doing his job well, mind--it's just that really he rather liked humans.

On the other hand, he had to deal with two other demons, Hastur and Ligur, who are more of what Crowley thinks of as the old-school demons. They take a more qualitative approach to temptation and damnation. They work and weddle at a single soul for an entire lifetime, really working on that one person until that individual is finally damned. They are demons of the Screwtape variety, actually--they go after their targets one at a time, relishing that personal touch.

Anyway, that's the extent of excitement here, except that I'm still trying to get enrolled. My professor needs to set my class approval at four hours instead of three so that I can be enrolled full time. Eight hours doesn't cut it; I need that one extra hour, and I'm pretty sure I'm going to be doing enough extra work to earn that extra hour anyway.

~chaos cricket

Song of the Moment: Jackson Browne, "Late for the Sky"
"Put The Load Right On Me"

I end up listening to my friends' problems a lot. I have that sort of face (figuratively speaking--a lot of times, it's via the internet or phone or some other electronic media) that folks feel comfortable talking to, maybe. I like to think I'm just a comfortable person, that people feel at ease around me, and that they can trust me. And for the most part, I think a lot of people think that, and I like to think it's warranted.

I've noticed something almost amusing lately. Well, not exactly amusing, because the stuff being discussed usually isn't funny (unless it's happening to someone you don't like, in which case it's funnier than hell...but this is stuff happening to people I care deeply about, so it's not so funny). But I've noticed that a few of the people who usually discuss their problems with me have been hesitant to do so. When I asked them why, the answer was actually the same--they felt they were "overburdening" me. I would have laughed if it weren't for the fact that they genuinely believed they were being too much of a burden on me.

This is something I really don't get. I mean, it's not that I'm unaffected by their woes. I am. I'm not so callow as to just listen and let it all roll off my back like water off a duck. It's just that I feel almost like I have...not a duty or obligation to listen, but almost a responsibility. It was drummed into my head at a very young age that anything I could do for people, I should do. Especially for friends--anything that it is within my power to do, I'll do, whatever the personal cost may be. If listening to a friend's problems helps them in some way, I'll do it. I may have my own problems, and they may be difficult for me to deal with, but that doesn't mean I should be oblivious to the problems of my friends. Besides, if I can make someone I care for's life easier, shouldn't I do it?

Besides, enough people over the past several years have listened to my problems without complaint, it's only right that I return the favor, even if it's to different people. It's like paying it forward, I guess, and what goes around comes around. Karma is very real, people--what you do now will have an effect on what comes after, and your reaction to the current situation will shape how life works on down the road.

People have helped me. I quite possibly wouldn't be here if not for some of the very, very close friends I've had over the previous five or six years. They know who they are--the ones who let me cry on their shoulders, who let me bitch and complain and moan about whatever petty thing was bothering me at that time, who held me and told me it'd be okay. Those are the people I dedicate myself to, and my efforts to help my friends in turn. I'm repaying their kindness in the way that would, I think, best please them.

I'm always here for my friends, regardless of the time or the day. It's not a burden to me--it's a privilege.

~chaos cricket

Song of the Moment: Elliot Smith, "Between the Bars"

Sunday, January 11, 2004

"Flagpole Sitta"

Well, remember all the complaining I've been doing of late about how lonely I am? That's all ended, it seems. Friday night, I hung out with Everett for like six or seven hours, watching disc three of Blue Seed (only one more and Blue Seed Beyond left!) and just chatted. Then Saturday evening was spent picking Beth up from the airport, having a quick bite of dinner with her, and then both of us joining Jess and Dom for a game of bowling (I totally 0w|\|z0r3d...or something like that). A wonderful evening, yes indeed. And tomorrow is spent with folks from both the school paper and work at meetings for each. Oh, and for information's sake, my comics in the OU Daily will run on Fridays, it seems. It's as good a reason as any to read the school paper, I guess.

I also spent way more money today than I should have. Not on dinner and bowling--no, those are very acceptable and good uses of money, and I don't regret them at all. No, I'm referring to the fact that I went and bought a GameCube. Why? Because I'm tired of not having a decent game system, and because I've been saving money for one. I've only got one controller right now (and since part of the reason I purchased this thing was to do multiplayer games, that'll have to change), and only one game--Rogue Squadron II--Rogue Leader (Star Wars game! Woo!). No memory card, so I can't save anything (which means I get to keep flying the mission against the Death Star every time I turn the thing on...which isn't necessarily a bad thing), but I've ordered a memory card, and I should have it in a week or so.

I really probably shouldn't have bought the GameCube, to be honest. Money's gonna get tight here pretty soon, and so will time. But I'm of the opinion--an opinion I've held for several years now--that you can't just work all the time. Sometimes, you need to unwind, cut loose, and shoot down some TIE fighters, y'know? Or play some MarioKart. Or Smash Brothers Melee. Or Zelda. Or Soul Calibur II, which also happens to feature Link of Legend of Zelda kickin' some serious ass. Etc., etc. Really, that's mostly rationalization, and I know it. I also know my spending habits need to improve greatly, or I could be in serious trouble. I keep telling myself, "okay, no more spending after this," and then I go and spend more. But I really do need to stop now. I'm not going to buy anymore games or movies or CDs or anything like that for a long time now. I probably need outside help with this, so anyone who feels like trying to mother me (other that my actual mother--she'll just yell at me), let me know. I need someone to keep me on the straight and narrow in these matters.

~chaos cricket

Song of the Moment: The Band, "The Weight"

Friday, January 09, 2004

"Chirpping Crickets"

A short story is now posted, called "Communication Breakdown." It's part of an exercise I'm doing in conjunction with Monica to see how we each handle the vague topic of a communcation breakdown. We're looking to write some sort of story together, but first we need to understand each other's writing style and such. Hope you like it. Feel free to comment on it.

~chaos cricket

Song of the Moment: George Harrison, "Let it down"
"Crooked Prose"

Well, I went and made a Live Journal account. Originally, I was going to just move all the content of this journal to that one. Then, I hit upon a better idea, one which required less work on my part--why not just post short stories and other literary endeavours over there, and keep this one as the more traditional blog? I liked the idea, and it seemed to include a lot less work (like, y'know, not having to go back and upload every single entry I've written since mid-October and backdate the whole lot of 'em. That was gonna suck). The other reason I decided to use that one for short stories is that it has an option for people to make comments (something I haven't quite worked out how to do here). Most people probably don't care to comment on the rubbish I write here, though they may want to comment on the rubbish I write prose-wise.

So yeah, I should have a short story posted over there later this afternoon. I'll probably mention it over here when I do.

~chaos cricket

Song of the Moment: George Harrison, "My Sweet Lord"

Thursday, January 08, 2004

"This Place Won't Speak Its Language To Me"

For the past about week now, I've felt like a ghost wandering around Norman, not really interacting with anyone on any sort of deep level. Most of my contact with humanity has been through electronic means, whether via telephone or the internet. Admittedly, I've had some very deep contact (via the internet especially) this past week, but I still feel disconnected from my surroundings, like someone who is dead but comes alive for the brief moments it takes to interact with someone on a purely mechanical level, such as paying for groceries or saying hello to the person I just held the door open for. You'd think something like the latter would require interaction, but doing things like holding open the door is so automatic to my existence, it doesn't even require thought anymore. There's someone behind me, I hold the door for them, whether male or female (though I've noticed I tend to smile at them if they're female, regardless of whether I find them attractive or not).

But it's all very strange to me, really, and vaguely disconcerting. I've talked with a couple of my Norman friends since returning, but I've only seen two of them--Dom when he took me to pick up my car on Tuesday, and Ev at work. The former was a brief encounter, mostly saying, "yeah, I had a good break, how was yours?" The latter was in a work setting, when I was leaving and Ev was coming in, so again brief and with much the same tone and tenor to it. Not to mention the fact that he's been sick since I picked him up from the bus station Sunday, concentrating on a job application, and thus nowhere near as talkative or animated as usual.

I guess I'm just really craving intimate face to face contact right now. I just need to be able to sit with a close friend, have a good, solid conversation, and remember that I'm not completely isolated in this ridiculous town. Everyone in Norman seems so wrapped up in their mundane little lives that they completely ignore everyone around them. Sure, it's pretty much that way everywhere, but you'd think a few people could at least take the time to smile at you while you're interacting. The only person who's done so in the past week was the waitress I had at Coach's yesterday for lunch, and I ended up leaving her a 50% tip for it.

I'm not really sure what all is truly bugging me. There's something at the core of these feelings I have right now, and I can't identify them. Maybe it was the too-brief visit with Chris and JP, the reminder of what we had at Ozarks and the intimacy of my life there. Maybe it's the fact that I haven't seen so many of my friends in too long, or that I didn't get to see Wendy over break. Or maybe it's even the idea that my middle sibling is off in France as we speak, doing God-knows what (actually, it's 9.00 pm here, so it's about 6.00 am there. He's either still asleep or just waking up, so I guess I have a good idea what he's currently doing). Maybe it's something as simple as just flat-out loneliness. I've been known to get lonely in crowded rooms before, so it's possible.

Most of all, I think it's just that there are a couple of very specific people I wish I were with right now. Sadly, that is not the case, so I'm stuck here in Norman and as a shade. But maybe not for long, who knows.

~chaos cricket

Song of the Moment: George Harrison, "Isn't it a Pity (Version One)"
"Signs That Might Be Omens"

It's still much too quiet in Norman right now. So few of my friends are actually here right now...or rather, I'm aware of only a few of them actually being in town. But I know that'll all change this weekend, when everyone comes back and when I get back into the semester grind. On Sunday I have two meetings--one for the school paper (I apparently have the Friday slot for my cartoon), and another for work (and my boss is feeding us, which is always nice).

It feels like I've sort of wasted most of the week. I meant to do a lot of research this week so I could start working on my Thesis in earnest. But instead, I had to deal with standing in line an entire afternoon at the Bursar's Office and with going to the Housing Office to tell them to stop trying to charge me a late fee on something that wasn't late.

Admittedly, those are just excuses; if I was serious about getting my research done, I'd have done it, plain and simple. And that rather worries me--just how serious am I about getting this degree finished, and about getting a PhD? I mean, I say I want to teach History, and I know a big part of me truly does. But then there's also a little voice that says, "that's too much work, and is it really worth all that work?" Of course, there's also the delusional voice that keeps telling me I could make a living with my creative endeavours, such as Crooked Halo or my writing or music. And that voice is quiet delusional--I don't have enough readers for the Halo to support me financially (especially since most of the Dim Bulb readership are poor college students like myself who can barely support themselves), and I don't have any writing that's ready to be published (short stories aren't worth enough to live off of). I also don't harbor any illusions about just how well I sing. Clif and I's songs are good, I know they are; I'm just probably not the one who will sing them if they ever get us a record contract. I'd like to imagine I could become a professional songwriter, though I don't know if I'd be comfortable with someone else singing my songs (and that is how I think of them. I've very possessive of my intellectual property). I also don't think that the kind of musicians who'd sing my songs need professional songwriters. That's the problem with my lyrical style--I fall firmly into the singer-songwriter genre, though I'm not all that good of a singer. Call me a latter-day Bob Dylan. Unfortunately, I'm not attractive enough to the general public to make that sort of thing work. Sure, back in the '60s, when folks cared more about your message than your image, I could have been a contender, but in today's visual and aesthetic-dominated music industry, I'd never make it. Besides, I despise the record industry, and can't afford to do much on my own.

It's all a rather academic exercise, really. I don't know what my future really holds yet, and by "future" I mean "a few months away." I literally have no idea what will happen when I graduate. Oh, I know I will, because despite my plodding and foot dragging, I know I'll get this Thesis hammered out in good time when it gets down to the crunch. It's just a question of where and what after that. Will I stay in Oklahoma for the summer? Or will I take dad's idea and head off for wherever it is I'm bound in the Fall early and find myself a job? That sounds like the best idea, except that wherever I go, I'm going to know no one, and that thought still frightens me a lot. I don't like the idea of being alone, and never really have. To paraphrase Nick Hornby, only people of a certain disposition are afraid of being alone at age 23, and I am of that disposition, I guess. I was of that disposition when I was 18, I think, and that's really kind of worrying. It probably tells you more about my personality than you might have wanted to know. I'm...needy, I guess.

Ah well. All those worries can be left to the future. For now, I just need to take it one moment at a time, a day at a time. And today's going to be enough, what with my mother and youngest sibling coming for a visit. This is going to be an exercise in self-destruction, as I know that my mediocre cleaning job yesterday is not going to be up to mom's standards. And you know what? I bloody well don't care.

~chaos cricket

Song of the Moment: Free, "All Right Now"

Wednesday, January 07, 2004

"Letters From The Wasteland"

I was cleaning up the apartment this afternoon, going through boxes and figuring out what was in them, when I came across a metal box that I keep sentimental stuff and keepsakes and the like in. It has photos of old friends, old letters and notes, newspaper clippings, things of that nature. So, because I'm easily distracted from what I'm supposed to be doing (cleaning so mom doesn't have a heart attack when she comes to visit tomorrow), I stopped and read some of the stuff in the box.

And what I found was interesting, and something I had almost forgotten about. Most of the letters and notes and whatnot in the box are written by one of two people--either myself, or Wen, though some of the notes are us gibbering at each other back and forth. It was an interesting read, and I felt rather nostalgic for a good bit. I'm a sentimental person by nature, and this was hitting me write in the sentimentality bone, if there is such a thing (work with me here, folks).

The letters and poems reminded me of things and feelings I hadn't paid heed to in years. It all brought back a flood of memories--late night phone conversations, whispered in the dark under the covers; making up stuff about going to the library so we could really go out and park the car and make out (we were kinda innocent, it never went any further than kissing); writing letters and poems back and forth to one another professing undying love and affection until the sun was extinguished. We were so serious about all of it, and it took me a long time to get over the fact that she didn't want to spend the rest of her life with me like that. I've since come to terms with it, and we're still the best of friends, and I can't wait to see her in February and to meet her boyfriend, Tim. But I think I've been trying to find someone like her ever since, which probably isn't fair to her or to other women. But as a person, she possesses so many of the qualities I look for in anyone, regardless of whether I want to date that person or not. At the risk of sounding cliche, she is one in a million, probably more. I've never met anyone quite like her, and I'm still trying to find someone who lives their life with as much energy and pure joy as she does. Even when things are hard, or not going her way, she is still more alive than nine of ten people you'll meet on the street. I think every creative endeavour I've embarked on has been inspired by her in some way or another, whether directly or indirectly. She challenged me to be better than I was, and only a few people since then have done that. I treasure those people, as I treasure all of my friends, but she is my muse, if you'll forgive the sappiness. I'm pretty sure she knows all this already, and I'm not even sure if she reads this or not.

I realize in typing all this that I've probably revealed more about myself and my past than I wanted to initially, but I'm not removing any of it. If I bare my soul here, and someone doesn't like what they read, that's their problem, not mine. Besides, this is supposed to be about self-expression, right?

One of the notes I wrote, sometime around when we were getting ready to graduate high school, struck me as slightly amusing in hindsight. I was detailing my beliefs regarding what makes us who we are, and I made the claim that we are the past. Everything that makes us who we are--our memories, our ideas and thoughts, the things we've done--they all exist in the past, and thus we are now made up of what we were then.

I had to chuckle a bit at this, because I don't believe that at all now. I think I actually believe something completely contradictory to that, really. I don't think we're made up of the past. We are not now who we were then. The past is a foreign country, one which you can't visit because you lost your passport. We have postcards of the past, and we call them memories. In many cases, we have photographic evidence of what we were, and these are rather like the vacation photos your parents take so many of and then stick in a photo album and never look at unless guests they don't like come to visit.

All joking aside, we are so much more than what we were. The past is a part of us, yes, but we are something different from that now. And we can't keep dwelling on who we were, or we lose who we are, and I'm just now figuring out who that is.

~chaos cricket

Song of the Moment: Mark Knopfler, "Speedway at Nazareth"
"Back In The Saddle"

Got my car back yesterday, good as new. The guys at the body shop were even so kind as to wash and detail it for me, so my car is all shiny and clean and pretty and whole again, and no more rattling from the rear end. Yes, that is good.

Today marks the beginning of a quick little something over at Dim Bulb that I'm going to enjoy thoroughly. I'm running a little series of comics that feature a character of Ping Teo's from The Jaded, a guy named Juno. I did a little fanart comic for Ping a couple of months along similar lines, which was what eventually sparked the idea I'm currently pursuing. Part of me is always thoroughly amused by making fun of boy bands, don't ask me why. Probably because it's so easy, rather like caf jokes.

Shifting gears, I was reading a friend of mine's blog the other day, and in between cringing because of her grammar and her complete disregard for the rules of the English language, I noticed she posed a very interesting question, one which I've in turned been mulling over since reading her thoughts yesterday. What if I died today? I'm not trying to be morbid, just hypothetical. How would I be remembered? By whom would I be remembered? Would folks think of the good things I did, the happiness I (hopefully) brought to the lives of those I've known? Or would they dwell on the stupid things I did? Or perhaps on the things I left undone, such as schoolwork and the like. Would those whom I love dearly know that I love them? I like to think they would, just as I like to think I'd be remembered for the good and joyful things I did, assuming there are any. It's probably conceited of me to say this, but I like to think I'd be well-remembered by everyone I know. Except for maybe a couple of people, and I probably don't give a damn about those people anyway.

I also kinda wonder what would become of my estate, as it were. My personal possessions--what would happen to them? I'm not talking about my movies or CDs or that sort of stuff. I'm thinking about my intellectual property here. What would become of my sketchbooks and notebooks crammed with comics, short stories, story ideas and snippets, poems, songs, thoughts and words and things that only I've ever seen? Would someone ransack my apartment, searching through each book and stack of paper (and there are many of each) looking for things of worth? Would they find any? I have three sketchbooks there, all full of comics. Only about a quarter of them have ever seen the light of day, some because they're not that good, some because I don't know how to draw them in a way I'd be happy with, and some because I have not reached that point in the stories I'm telling yet. Would someone publish my unfinished comics in some posthumous collection, continue putting my stuff on Dim Bulb but drawn by someone else?

All silly questions, I know, but these are some of the things that run through my head. I have little to no control over my thoughts; they occur as they will, and I can sometimes focus on a single thought, but I can't stop the torrent of other thoughts that flood through my cranium on a constant basis. It's like trying to plug a hole the size of your head with your finger. It's not gonna work.

On an unrelated note, I wanted to relate part of a conversation I had with my coworker, Ev, yesterday. I was talking about Clif heading off to France, and how he was probably going to be something of an unholy terror while there. Clif has this way of shaping the world around him to suit his tastes. He can literally make people behave in ways they usually wouldn't. I've seen him do it--he makes the world fit him. It's not that he's a round peg trying to fit into a square hole or anything like that, but rather that he's a round peg forcing the square hole to become a round one. He and the French ought to get along like a house on fire--lots of smoke, screaming, and the chance that there won't be many survivors.

~chaos cricket

Song of the Moment: Newsboys, "Shine"

Tuesday, January 06, 2004

"Takin' Care Of Business"

Well, I'm back at work again, finally. Admittedly, it's on a rather reduced schedule right now, but considering I usually don't work at all between the end of Finals and the beginning of the Spring semester, this little bit will be welcomed when I suddenly have a little pocket money in a couple of weeks' time.

Speaking of reduced schedules, it looks like I'm running on one next semester so far. My schedule reads something like 4.00-10.00 pm Sundays, and 7.00-10.00 pm Monday through Thursday. That's something like (*pulls out calculator*)...18 hours a week right now. A little over half what I was working last semester. Lord, my paychecks are gonna shrink.

But hopefully, I'll be able to pick up extra hours as the semester progresses, perhaps in the early morning shift like I worked in the Fall. Sure, I don't care much for waking up early, but I'll do what it takes to maintain a comfortable lifestyle. And by "comfortable" I mean "able to continue feeding myself and paying rent." I'm willing to wake up a bit earlier if it means I'll be able to go back to bed in my apartment at day's end.

Anyway, work's about all that's happening. Oh, and I get my car back tomorrow. It's about bloody time, too. I swear, the next time a business professor backs into my car in the parking garage, I'm just going to beat him unconscious. It'd be preferable to his usual state, anyway.

~chaos cricket

Song of the Moment: Van Morrison, "Brown-Eyed Girl"

Monday, January 05, 2004

"Get In Line"

Let it be known that the University of Oklahoma Bursar's Office stole three hours of my life this afternoon.

Yes, I stood in a freakin' line for three hours just so I could pay OU $449 and find out that I have to go to a different office (that of Housing and Food Services) to take care of the stupid late charge that's on my bill. A late charge which, I might add, is only on there because they didn't realize I paid last month's rent on time, the morons.

This was part of what I liked about Ozarks--all of that crap was in one place. And if it wasn't in one place, the other place you had to go was within a two minute walk. And if the person you needed to talk to wasn't in their office, you knew where they were. And they didn't give you freakin' hassles like I've had to deal with the whole time I've been at OU.

I swear, the only thing that's made my stay at this God forsaken place worthwhile is the friends I've made, a couple of the professors, and the fact that I'll have a Master's Degree at the end of it, and even all that's starting to pale in comparison to the unbelievable amount of crap I have to go through each time I get a bill from this damn school. I swear, I shouldn't have to deal with this much crap each time I get a bill, and that's exactly what it seems like happens. I spent three, four months last year trying to get them to remove one damn late charge from my account, and another few months trying to convince them to not charge me for a class I wasn't taking because they'd accidentally double-billed me for a class. Every single problem I've had with finances and such at this school has been because of their incompetence, and I'm getting tired of the run-around I have to deal with each time their stupid asses make mistakes.

Y'know what's really funny, though? I bet there are students out there who wouldn't question the extra charges, or the double-billing on tuition, or anything like that. They'd just pay for everything and go along their merry way, none the wiser. I think that's why the school keeps these stupid little bugs in their system--it's like free money.

Stay tuned for our next episode, when I'll be illuminating other conspiracies, such as where cafeteria food really comes from and what it's really made of, and the location of Jimmy Hoffa's body. Yes, they're connected in exactly the way that sentence is meant to make you think they are.

~chaos cricket

Song of the Moment: Bob Dylan, "Mississippi"

So, in yet another example of "Chuck's the biggest idiot ever," it turns out I was reading the site stats wrong. According to Adam, we were probably getting 4 or 5 hits per day, and that seems a little more accurate at this time of the year, if just a bit depressing and deflating. For a moment, I thought that perhaps we were something huge, that we'd finally started moving down the path to notoriety, or at least some sort of infamy, and it turns out that I was completely wrong. Wee, talk about a downer.

So yeah, it looks like I was looking at the monthly totals instead of the daily totals. Big surprise there, eh? This is why I should just stick to drawing comics and writing words from now on, and not worry about the numbers. The numbers just confuse and upset me, and I don't need that.

Speaking of numbers confusing and upsetting, OU lost the Sugar Bowl last night, which is gonna make work a pain in the ass for a while. I really don't want to deal with mopey football players, y'know?

We now return you to your regularly-scheduled ranting, already in progress.

...and that's when I knew he'd handed me the secret of life, of eternal and complete happiness, and that I'd thrown it away with my luch trash.

~chaos cricket

Song of the Moment: Bruce Springsteen, "I'm Going Down"

Saturday, January 03, 2004

"Just Ego Tripping"

If I'm reading things right--and I'm not sure that I am--then according to the statistics Keenspace generates for our site, we're getting something like an average of 226 unique hits a day. But I've gotta be reading it wrong, that's the only thing I can determine. Adam and I together don't know that many people, especially since many of the people we do know overlap. There's no way that nearly 200 people I don't even know visit Dim Bulb on an average day. That's just insane, right?

Even if I'm reading the statistic wrong, and it's only half that...or even if it's the 155 Total Sites statistic (I can never remember if we go by Total Sites or Total Visits, or even if it's either one)...can there really be that many people visiting that I don't know? It's hard to believe.

Even if I find that hard to believe, another stat generated by Keenspace seems to verify it: in the Official Keenspace Guide, which lists all the Keenspace comics, there's a percentage of pageviews listed with your comic name. This percentage is basically the total percentage of all pages hosted by Keenspace that are viewed by anyone that happen to be your comic. Ours usually hangs at around 0.026 (keep in mind there are roughly 10,000 Keenspace comics, most of which have a 0.000 percentage). When I checked today, on a whim, it was up to 0.036. Perhaps that does account for the increase in total visitors to the page, I don't know.

Whatever has happened, if there are more people visiting the site, I wish a few of them would let us know they're actually doing so. It'd just be nice to hear from these people we don't actually know. And if it's all true, then hey--perhaps there's hope for Dim Bulb to become the uberpopular webcomic Adam and I feel it deserves to be.

~chaos cricket

Song of the Moment: David Gray, "Silver Lining"

Friday, January 02, 2004

"Funky New Year"

Hey everyone. I hope you all had a wonderful New Year, as I know I did. I hung out with Chris and Jennifer, my former roommates (well, one was a roommate, the other was a de facto roommate) over at her parents' place in Midwest City. We sat up watching movies, shooting the bull, and basically just acting like we were still at Ozarks. Then Thursday, Jennifer's parents fed me (I'm never one to pass up a free home-cooked meal. I'm not an idiot, after all), and Chris, JP, and myself went and played pool with Jennifer's sister and a friend of said sister. Then I came back to Norman. In the meantime, Clif apparently forgot how to read the instructions I left him on how to work his minidisc player, and against all probability managed to screw things up pretty good. I swear, he's got some sort of plague hand when it comes to electronics. Worse even than my mother. But I think he got it resolved eventually. He damn well better have, anyway, because I don't want to have to try and coach him on the thing over the phone again.

Anyway, by all rights and reason, I should be in bed right now, as I have to wake up early and take my car into the shop to get the bumper replaced. Of course, that wouldn't make any sense now, would it? Going to bed so I can have a decent night's sleep and can get my car to the shop on time. Haha, what a funny man I am.

Granted, I didn't wake up until noon, so I guess it only makes sense that I'm not really tired after only 14 hours of consciousness.

I keep trying to figure out what my New Year's Resolutions are going to be. I know of a few I need to make, such as the cliched "lose some weight," "finish what I start," "stick to my schedules," and "stop trying to make my neighbors' heads explode using my mind powers," but I also think there ought to be something more...original and personal. Like "make Dim Bulb Comics the best damn comics site on the internet." "Manage to get paid to do what I love, whether it's write or draw or music." "Eradicate the source of crappy music." Something like that. I have lots of dreams, lots of hopes, and I can only hope that I'll maybe reach a couple of them this year. Getting into one of the graduate schools I applied to would be a nice step in the right direction. I know that both Dr. Dippel and Dr. Hart wrote private letters to David Cressy at Ohio State (my top US choice) in addition to the letters of recommendation they wrote to the university proper. I also got one to Ohio State from the President of the University of the Ozarks. I'm hoping credentials like those will go a long way towards getting me accepted and funded. That would be wonderful.

Everyone always goes on about how the New Year is a time to start over, to take stock of one's life, decide where you want to go, and make steps towards it. I guess I'm trying to do that, but really I'm not sure if I have a clean slate. Some of the stuff that was hanging over my head last year is still hanging there, oblivious to the ticking over of the cosmic odometer. Perhaps the New Year will grant me renewed, refreshed energy, and I can get some things done and over with. Here's to your new year, wherever you are, whatever you are doing, and whoever you are with--cheers, best of luck, and lots of love.

~chaos cricket

Song of the Moment: Barenaked Ladies, "The War on Drugs"