Injured my neck somehow and have spent the last few days laying around mostly watching TV. I can’t sit in front of the computer or hold my phone for moves than a minute because both actions happen to irritate the same muscles I’ve injured. can’t hold up a book either.

It’s strange not being about to do any of the things that fill my days normally. I’ve really had to struggle against doing things that will re-injured me. It’s a battle against impulse.

There’s also been a struggle with identity. Who am I if I can’t do these things?

When did habits become the basis of my identity?

YouTube Inspiration

I’ve never really been into YouTube but that was because I hadn’t really discovered the video essay genre. I’m watching 4-5 videos a day now, and it’s become an essential part of my day. A lot of these channels are kinda waking up loves of mine that I’ve allowed to grow dormant, things like my love for non-mainstream music, foreign cinema, and architecture. This is a randomly-ordered list of all the channel I’m really enjoying right now, which has a lot of these video essayist on it.

  1. Every Frame a Painting (Retired channel 😢)
  2. WheezyWaiter
  3. Trash Theory
  4. ContraPoints
  5. Van Neistat
  6. Nerdwriter
  7. deep cuts
  8. Rhett Shull
  9. Julie Nolke
  10. The Cinema Cartography
  11. Shu Omi
  12. Paul Davids
  13. In Praise of Shadows
  14. Polyphonic
Categorized as Lists

Retracting My Tendrils

I’ve been neglecting my craft for far too long. I’ve been too easily distracted my shiny tools and trends. In the past 10-15 years I have created social media accounts, blogs, projects, podcasts, and even a YouTube channel in attempt to create an audience for my writing. That literally what I said each time to convince me to take them on. But what the hell does that even mean? Building an audience? It’s something someone told me to do once which I’ve apparently been unable to let go of since. It’s not terrible advice, it’s just a horrific guiding principle. None of these things are either good nor bad, but in the time they have existed I have published no more books. None.

Think about that for a moment. I’ve allowed myself to grow entangled in painting freeway exit signs but I’ve built no city. I’ve directed traffic to a crater. That’s how I feel.

In the past several months, I’v been letting things go. I’d like to say it has been a conscious effect but in fact I feel more like I’ve been standing on the side of road watching, “Hey look at that. Look what I did there.”

I suppose it’s bubbling conflict working its way to my skin as much as it is a slow dawning. I use things to distract myself, and I’ve finally reached a point—no that’s wrong, this isn’t threshold matter. I’ve simply lost the desire to avoid what I fear. It’s time to retract my tendrils and focus on the one thing that matters most to me: attempting to complete a book.

I say attempting because the completion is generally unimportant. I may fail terrifically. But, I’m happy in the craft. I’m happy in process. This is where I intend to spend my time: in the attempt. Which is not to say I plan to abandon anything. Rather, I think distractions can be important when you need them. But, the only consistency I need is in my work; for my writing. All these other things I surround to whim. They will appear when they appear. They will bring me pleasure when I seek them out, and they will rest until reached for.

Categorized as Thoughts

The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle (1994)

Author: Haruki Murakami

Something I talk about far too frequently regarding books is the absolute necessity for re-reading. There is no better model for this than this trip through Toru Okada’s world/mind. This is my third time reading this book and yet somehow, in my previous readings I missed (or simply forgot) the entire ending of the book. In any other book I would be shocked by this but not with The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle. This seems also appropriate for The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle. This is the type of book where I would almost expect that the final part of the book did not exist before. I would almost expect the ending to amend itself between each reading.

What before felt like a purposefully fragmented and shuffled sequence of events, suddenly, this time, felt connected and logical…which is not to say that I understand the book any better, only that I see why things flow the way they flow. I’ve been coerced into the logic of the novel.

There’s something incredibly appealing to me about the realization that The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle may never reveal all of its mysteries to me. I may never understand why Mackerel the cat is important. I may not uncover the symbolism of the black-blue mark. I may never understand if Kumiko, May Kasahara, Malta Kano, Creeta Kano, the mysterious woman in the hotel room, & Nutmeg are all the same woman, or if there is even a way to unravel that question. (Perhaps they are AND they aren’t.) In the way that Unsolved Mysteries calls me back to watch and rewatch episodes, The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle calls me back every few years. I’m driven mad my the lingering threads but I’m pulled at by those same things.

Categorized as Books

The Stranger (1991)

Director: Satyajit Ray

American films worry too much about plot; stuffing things in and forcing them forward as if meaning comes from business rather than depth. What I love about this film is that it only about one thing. It focuses on the questions of whether this mysterious visitor is actual Anila’s long-lost great-uncle or not and it lets that play out naturally. No gimmicks. No sudden revelations. Just human development. It makes space for itself. As the visitor says, “it takes time.”

While in no way related in subject matter, the focus of The Stranger reminds of Akira Kurosawa’s 1949 film The Men Who Tread on the Tiger’s Tail.

I also find it impossible to talk about this movie without mentioning the extraordinary reason that the visitor claims to have run away in the first place. He was young man about to enter art-school and he opened a book to find an extraordinary cave-painting of a bison in Altamira, Spain.

He looked at it and thought: no art-school in the world can teach me to paint a bison like this. So he chose to travel the world.

Categorized as movies

Dear Internet,

I’ve been neglecting you. Last week I had what I thought was a return in my panic attacks. It turned out to be what’s called “rebound tachycardia,” and is easily dealt with by splitting my beta blocker dosage in half and taking one half in the morning at one at night.

I talked about it for about 15 minutes in the beginning of my latest podcast episode:

Almost Found Sound It Matters But It Doesn't

It’s surprising how one incident can so easily make me retract into my full protective shell. Faced with what I believed may be a return to my darkest days, I suddenly found the idea of typing words into a box and hitting publish completely exhausting.

This is one of the dangerous side effects of anxiety: we suck our tendrils back in and shut off communication with the outside world. We isolate. We find ourselves unwilling, uninterested, and seemingly incapable of expressing our feelings at a time when doing so is actually more valuable than it normally is.

Having gone through this retraction for most of my life due to anxiety, depression, and a myriad of other reasons, one would think I had some sort of theory as to what purpose it serves. With psychical wounds instinctively cup our hands them. This makes logical sense. We’re keeping them clean. We’re holding the blood in. We’re reacting to pain with pressure. But what logic is there to the social retraction that occurs from our psychological wounds? What are we protecting? What are we holding in from spilling out? What pressure are we applying?

Physical wounds heal from coiling up and reserving energy, but psychic wounds are the opposite. The more we hold in; the more we hide, the more we wound. We only heal from release. We only heal from feeling. We only from sharing them with others and asking for support.

Having seen, this week, how easy it is for me to shut off again, I’m now building systems to making it easier for me to remain open. I can alter the tone of these posts. I can use less of the “article,” “essay,” and “Blog” tone, adopt a looser more personal tone. I can embrace looseness and imperfection. I can lower the threshold to entry. I can also begin to share recommendations and lists (both of which I’ve been obsessed with since I was a teenage.) These small things will allow me to still share even when I’m not in a place to bare myself.

We don’t put down pads because we’re afraid to fall, we put down pads because we expect to fall and we want to get back up.

Categorized as Thoughts

The Cruise (1998)

Director: Bennett Miller

Some of the shots are grainy, some are blown out, it’s just following around a New York City double-decker tour guide, and it’s totally great! When you have someone like Timothy “Speed” Levitch as your subject it just works.