Please Remain Calm

Snow in the ‘banks this morning… accompanied of course by the dulcet tones of emergency sirens racing off to the various scenes of roadway mishap.

If today were yesterday I would have said something along the lines of “I rarely go to church because I want to” and then quoted a line from the song which shares the title of this post…”It’s hard to tell the difference of a prophet from a crackpot, I wouldn’t blame you if you’d rather stay in bed.” But then I would have to note that this in no way would be meant to reflect on any person or persons in particular… I just had that song running through my head for a good part of the morning.

Enough about that, just had to make the odd comment to sort of state a point; which is, when I write these things they are often little more than stream of consciousness solidified… Sort of… that is if the digital world is solid…which it would not really seem to be… except maybe in the sense that as I type, the words are displayed on a screen, which is solid… but then once I post the words to the “blogosphere” (still a stupid word…) what state do they exist in? Experiential? In that they only truly exist when being read (and thus experienced) by a reader… begging the question, if a word is posted on the interwebs, but is never read does it actually exist? Is “experiential” a state of being?

Pardon the odd questions. I will unabashedly blame a friend’s new blog about science, which you should go read. Recently he asked… well more posited really as I do not believe he was looking for an answer, the following question:  “how many meters long is the song of the morning birds?”. He was using this as an example of a question that is poorly formed in that it is nonsensical and not worthy (necessarily) of an answer. But, BUT, what if one were to respond with a seemingly nonsensical answer… such as, “Well, it would depend on the type of bird doing the singing in that all birds sing different songs and if one were to record and transcribe the birdsong in question, one could identify the meter (metre) and thus “measure” the length of the song…”  However, that would just be silly.

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This from “Garfield – Garfield”, a phenomenon that I was recently introduced to and would highly suggest you check out.

Anyways, what I was trying to relay in writing this is that, as I said, when I write, I write what I am feeling/thinking at the moment. I have a difficult time crafting these posts, that is I do not write them “ahead of time”, but rather in real time. I write them as they come to me. I have never really been much of a creative writer, as in I do not do well just spinning yarns, or for that matter writing about given subjects. I write about my experiences, my memories, my emotions, questions that I have, thoughts that I think… and these things are fleeting. And you know what? the writing has this interesting side-effect of both “solidifying” and releasing those thoughts, feelings, questions, etc.

What I am trying to say is that these posts, while reflecting a certain state of being…in a sense, are in many ways also a certain therapy for me. Ultimately I just enjoy the writing, and writing as I do sometimes expose some of my more fragile and distorted sides. Not to worry, I am not going mad… any more than usual anyway.

A Litany of Woe

Sometimes, life is more complicated than others. Likewise, some people have different tolerances for (or ways of managing reaction to) life’s little quirks. Most of the time life confuses and/or confounds me. Of course I am not talking about physiological life, although most of that too is beyond my grasp. I never could get the hang of biology… No, of course I am talking about the experience of going through the world as a semi-intelligent, self-conscious (self-aware?), being with a purported sense of free will. Some people that we might call “scientists” (quotes because as I am learning from that blog that I mentioned above, that particular moniker can mean something along the lines of “one who questions”…or something), look at life and try to figure it out. Some accept it as it is, comfortable in their belief in something that allows them to not concern themselves with such questioning… or something. I often find myself somewhere in between… or something. I do not feel a strong burning desire to understand what makes life (the world) work the way it does but rather I tend to spend more time trying to understand my relationship and reactions to it. I am just trying to make my way through life (the world) and sometimes that can be really complicated. Sometimes it can suck, and when I am feeling particularly put upon, by my experiences (I am not suggesting that life – or the world – is out to get me) I get a little manic. Sometimes that comes out as depression, sometimes confusion. Sometimes I am a bit bi-polar, in that I get caught up in the swing. Often times, those experiences – or state of being – allow me to write, which makes me feel better…. Hence the blog posts and the sometimes “Litany of woe”.

I have that quote written on a post-it-note above my desk. It comes from an article written by a friend and co-worker of mine. He coined it to describe the journals of a particular arctic explorer wherein was chronicled the crossing of the Brooks Range mountains in northern Alaska. I loved it when I first read it as it not only perfectly describes the often typical cadence one finds when reading such journals, but it has such a great descriptive presence. I keep it at my desk to remind me that sometimes life is more complicated than not… that it is all one can do sometimes to express exasperation at the hill that never seems to end, the endless hordes of mosquitoes, the spring that never seems to come…etc.  And yet, when you finally get to the top of that hill… whatever sort of hill it may have been, you can look around, take in the view, and know that those particular woes are beneath you. There may be more ahead, but now that those have been acknowledged and attended to, you can move on. And if there happens to be fresh snow and you just happen to have a sled, well then…

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This must be what going mad feels like.

So yeah, gun violence again. Now, this is not something I would normally comment on here. I do not generally like to get into that kind of dialogue. There are way too many opinions, emotions, and variables involved for me to make any sort of reasonable statement. BUT, twice this week I have had to listen to news reports about gun violence; one occurrence on a MILITARY INSTALLATION in WASHINGTON D.C. …and the other in my home town. Neither have anything to do with the other, except perhaps for the possibility that a HIGH POWERED MILITARY STYLE ASSAULT RIFLE may or may not have been involved.

OK, I said I was not going to comment, and actually what really got me thinking about this topic is a sideline news item that I overheard earlier in the week. It would seem, if memory serves, that some public entities in Colorado (a place that not only has experience with the gun violence issue, but has also other more pressing if not soggy concerns at the moment) have been holding personnel training sessions on how to spot a disgruntled fellow employee or more specifically, someone suffering from mental illness, that everyone should keep an eye on so that they do not do something crazy…

There are so many things about that that I do not know how to handle… this emphasis on “mental health” as a deciding factor in how to manage gun laws for one. It just seems so, well, crazy. BUT there I go again getting distracted. What I am really wanting to address here is the soundbytes that I heard from the aforementioned training sessions where they were describing some symptoms everyone should look out for in their fellow employees behavior patterns; closing their office doors more often, avoiding eye contact, eating lunch alone, being generally unsociable… I got flashes of the team from Criminal Minds profiling the late 30s, early 40s white male that has recently experienced a series of dramatic life changes…. Uh oh.

So last night I spent about an hour sitting behind some trees on a small knoll in a camouflage wool sweater holding only a rifle and a pair of field glasses. I currently own five firearms, and lately I have been a bit quiet. I have been closing my office door at work more often and generally avoiding too much social contact. I typically eat lunch alone at my desk and often walk with my head down. During an encounter with a friend yesterday it was mentioned that my last blog post was “damned depressing”.

So yeah, there is that.

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No, THIS must be what going mad feels like.

In my last post I mentioned dealing with a lot of change. It has been keeping me in a funk of sorts. I have been trying to figure out my behaviors and reactions and chalk a lot of it up to my Introvert nature. I have been around a LOT of people in the past few months, many whom I have either never or only recently met. Not only that, but many are new family and so I have had to be on best behavior, which is not really that hard, but sustaining it can be a bit draining. SO having returned home at this particular time of year, with everything that is and has been going on, I am feeling the desire to do one of three things. Crawl in a hole and hide, go walk or sit quietly in the woods to “recharge”, or drink lots of really good beer. It would seem that I am trying to do a combination of all three.

You see, it is the end of September and I am sure that means a whole lot of things to a whole lot of people…or not. One of the more prominent things it means to me is that it is Oktoberfest season! And Oktoberfest means beer. My favorite beer and lots of it. Or not. This time of year is often hard to balance… or hard to maintain balance, depending on which path one takes I suppose. I would love to be celebrating the season side by side with my brother, dressed in lederhosen, steins in one hand and brats in the other. Unfortunately the last time I tried to call him I got only a cryptic message about unsecured phone lines, alluding to his ever increasing and seemingly irrational fear of all things government. Oh yeah, I may have mentioned before that I am a government employee and one potentially facing an unanticipated “vacation” because the “powers that be” continue to act like idiot school children… Anyway, I have had many days/nights of great fun drinking beer with my brother and really miss doing that now. Alas.

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It is also harvest season (not uncoincidentally – is that a word?) as well as hunting season. BUT, in the ‘banks, it is also nearing the end of autumn. The waning of the summer as we lose roughly an hour of sunlight per week… the steady race towards the winter solstice. So, what all do we have to deal with? Let me break it down for you…

1.) Crawl in a hole… This often manifests as my above mentioned behavior at work (I am trying to keep a handle on the home version). Door has been closed, eyes down, avoid most social interaction…

2.) Sit in the woods… I went out “hunting” last night with some friends. The moment I had the chance I found a spot to sit by myself to “wait for the moose to come by” while the others scouted ahead I took it and it was glorious!

3.) Drink lots of really good beer… there are now two breweries in town. The one has an Oktoberfest that I know I like, the other taps their first ever version tomorrow… I am sure you can see the dilemma.

So, madness abounds. I am torn in three directions and according to public opinion the three are a recipe for disaster. Self imposed isolation, guns, and beer. Good grief, what is an overwhelmed, beer drinking, pacifist introvert to do?

Spare Change

I find it difficult to write these things without a purpose and yet I have really been missing the writing. I now find myself in the somewhat awkward position of having too many thoughts running around in my head and no sense of what to make of them, combined with the desire to write something/anything… so you will have to forgive me if this thing rambles a bit…

I do not really have anything interesting to say. On the one hand, I do not think that most any of what I have written here in this corner of the “blogosphere” (another of those stupid words that I do not like…) has been in any way interesting.  BUT, that was never really the point. For as much as I am not a true Seinfeld fan I will venture to say that this blog is akin in some ways to what they were trying to do… tell stories about nothing.

I was at “the property” yesterday… that sounds weird to say/write, but I do not really know what else to call it at this point. When I started writing this blog-thing “the property” was home, and in some ways more importantly, the focus of a huge undertaking that I had imposed upon myself. That undertaking, (for those unfamiliar, the building – as single-handedly as possible – of a timber frame home) proved to be the catalyst for a whole series of unforeseen events. I started writing this nonsense just about a year ago and in that time I have experienced more change than I really know how to process. But, the changes started about the same time as the trees being felled. Not sure if that is an omen of some sorts or not.

So anyway, as I was saying, I was at “the property” yesterday. Ostensibly working, but more actually just sort of aimlessly wandering around. I did accomplish things, but there was no real rhyme or reason to any of it. There is a big “SOLD” sign at the head of the driveway and most of the logs are gone. The big stack of timbers is still sitting there, along with other various building materials, as well as the ill-conceived, and now abandoned, wood shed foundation… not to mention the new house foundation pad. The timber working tools – chainsaw, peavey, timber-jack, various chains and pulleys, logger’s tape, milling attachments, etc. – all seem a bit foreign and pointless now, lingering in the mostly empty shed as they are.

I have until the end of the month, just under two weeks, to vacate the premises, as it were. On the one hand I should be elated… I guess. But truth be told, I simply do not know how to process this reality. It is true, I am in a new home, verily in a new life, and one that I am unwaveringly happy to be a part of… married as I am now. BUT, that does not change the reality that I have experienced – continue to do so – a heck of a lot of change in the past year or so. The project is abandoned; the timbers for sale. The logs and property sold. The yard and garden are overgrown, the shed and garage mostly empty. The dogface dead and gone; her house sitting empty, her run rusting in the rain.

Moose season is coming to a close and I have not had the chance to go out. The reality of the situation is that I do not have the time, nor do we have the space. We have three and a half freezers full of food that we have raised and/or gathered ourselves. There is no room for a moose. But that is beside the point as “hunting” is not exclusively about putting something in the freezer. We have harvested plenty. I am supposed to be building a shed at home. It is a weird parallel to last year, when I was supposed to be building a shed. That one got started, this one, I cannot seem to get excited about. That one was a challenge, this one a chore. The thing about chores though is that one does them for a good reason; in this case, two of the said freezers need shelter.

Curling season is starting, but I am not joining this year. Maybe I should, but somehow the drive is not there. We plan to start going back to CrossFit next month and while I claim to be excited about that, some days that too seems pointless.

Winter is coming. I should be thinking about skiing. Instead I feel adrift. Aimless. Listless. Not unhappy per se, but uninspired. There is no dogface with whom to go out and revel in that first new snow… which would seem to be lurking around with old man winter somewhere in the hills north of the ‘banks. This is not the best way to stare down October… but it is coming, along with the cold and the dark. Something’s gotta give.

I titled this post “Spare Change” trying of course to be clever. Hoping that it would give me some direction… the intention of course meant to reflect upon all of the changes that have occurred in the past year. I wonder now if “Loose Change” might not be better; as in that lost and forgotten, cast off currency that hangs around accumulating in the corners. “Spare Change” almost implies a boon, that which one is wont to give away carefree. “Loose Change” implies a bit more desperation; that castoff resource that we have all clawed through couches and under car seats to find in order to hopefully gather enough of to buy that one more cup of coffee for the road.

Anyways, I guess I did not quite intend this direction, but there you have it.

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