Conscious Insomnia

February 25, 2011

Sometimes I want to write but my muse isn’t there.

Sometimes I have seven textedit windows open at the same time,

all with partially written stories or ideas that never get flushed out.

Sometimes I wonder if I’m capable of pursuing and completing a project.

I know that I am.

So I write this.

I want to write.

I want to tell stories.

I have stories to tell.

I can write.

Why can’t I write?

I’m like autofocus in a moving frame.

So I write this.

I should go to bed.

The nights are too quick.

I’m rocked by ideas that won’t fit through the funnel of my pen.

So I write this.

I want to go out shooting, like Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid but with cameras instead of guns.  A battle of lenses and lights.  I want to make a Lawrence of Arabia.  I want to make an I Vitelloni.  They don’t fit together very well, but hey.

So I write this.

I want to write an “On the Road”.  I want to write a “Dune”.  They don’t fit together very well either.  So I write this.

I have a conscious insomnia.  Are they goals or are they ghosts?  Is this a poem or is it prose?  I should be in bed.  So I write this.


The Invisible Jungle at Civilopolis

January 18, 2011

In the city of Civilopolis, there is an invisible jungle.  Where people walk, secret lions prowl.  Where cars roll by, lumbering beasts run.  The roars go unheard, the hunger unfelt; but the roars are heard, the hunger is felt.  In the city of Civilopolis, there is an invisible wilderness.

Inspector Jarles is a P.I. in Civilopolis, the city of the future.  He seeks out missing persons and recovers stolen goods.  He alone suspects the existence of the world around him.  He alone feels the hunger for what it is.

In the city of Civilopolis, there is an invisible kingdom of animals.  Where the overcrowding of people makes life uncomfortable, wild apes swing freely just beyond the eye.  In the city of Civilopolis, the unsure children cry.

Inspector Jarles is on the case of a missing youth, the third such case this month.  The other two cases turned up bodies.  He hopes this one will not.  He questions the parents.  He questions the neighbors.  Nothing.  In the city of Civilopolis, no one knows the truth.  Inspector Jarles suspects.

In the animal kingdom at Civilopolis, hunger is the only law.  Hunger permeates the fur, the teeth, the flesh.  Birds eat rodents, snakes eat birds, lions eat snakes, birds eat dead lions, everything eats everything else.  Everything eats to survive.  In the animal kingdom at Civilopolis, there is an invisible city of the future.

The invisible jungle was not always at Civilopolis.  The city of the future was once just that.  The city was progress.  The city of the future was built on possibility and hope.  The city of the future could’ve.  When did the invisible animals come?  Did the zebra bring the lion?  Did the Crocodile chase it’s prey here?  Did the prey bring the predator or was the prey herded here?  The mouse runs to survive, the cat hunts to survive.  There is an invisible jungle at Civilopolos.  A real, sweaty, dense, animal kingdom, just beyond the conscious mind.

In the city of Civilopolis everyone can now feel the hunger.  The unspoken hunger gnawing at their sanity.  A invisible heat eating out their chilled exteriors from within.  They wonder if anyone else feels this hot hunger but each is afraid to ask.  They fear the heat, hate the hunger within.  The hunger must be unspoken.

Inspector Jarles can now hear the invisible jungle at Civilopolis.  He can hear the roars, the screams.  Two more children dead.  He glimpses teeth, maybe fur?  The Inspector suspects, but Jarles is old.  The Inspector goes to the Mayor.

The mayor Dirley of Civilopolis is not old.  The mayor of Civilopolis is not unwise.  Jarles asks him about the hunger, for he has seen the signs of it.  The signs of the derelicts and the signs of the artists; but the mayor knows.  The mayor Dirley is a sad man.  He has been to the invisible chaos.  He has seen the invisible.  The mayor Dirley knows that the city of the visible would not exist without the hunger of the invisible.  The hunger is survival.  If the invisible animals stopped hunting, the visible humans would stop advancing.  The city of the future would fall to the past.  The animal’s hunger to survive feeds their hunger for more.

“Why was it not always here, then?”  Jarles asks him.  The mayor Dirley just looks down.  He does not know.  Jarles declares that he will solve it.  He will fix whatever quantum error has brought this invisible world into the same space as his beloved city.  Jarles is driven, for Jarles once lost a son.  Jarles is hungry for a solution.  Jarles is hungry.

Inspector Jarles finds 4 more bodies the next week.  He needs to solve his mystery.  The hunger is unbearable.  The invisible animals have begun to smell the visible humans.  Fights break out in the streets.  Shoulders bump on the subway and fists are swung.  A man jaywalks and is shot dead for it.  The city of Civilopolis is a city of ice, and the ice is breaking.  The heat of the jungle is approaching.

The mayor Dirley of Civilopolis is found dead, shot by his own hand.  Heat is coming to this old city of the future.  Inspector Jarles is afraid.  He’s afraid of the city, and afraid of himself, and afraid of the hunger growing within himself.  He nearly kills a man trying to find the kid-killer.  The invisible jungle is breaking through.

Finally it happens.  The ice breaks.  The world collide.  Inspector Jarles wakes to screams and wild animals running in the streets.  Hawks and vultures swooping and fighting, lions and tigers brawling in the streets, zebra running afraid and abandoning their own to save themselves.  Elephants mating in the intersections, Giraffes entangling their necks and kissing.  Buildings crumbling.  Jarles notices that there are no more people.  “Have the people become the animals?” He wonders.  “This is a living nightmare!”

Then, across the street from his window, he sees the gorilla.  The old gorilla, tired and wise.  He makes eye contact with the gorilla.  The gorilla smiles, and so does Jarles. Though he does not know why, Inspector Jarles feels good.  Relieved, almost.  The hunger is leaving him.   He has seen his animal, and acknowledged it.  He looks again at the carnage in the streets.  The signs are gone.  The stores are gone.  There are no more cars, and the buildings are burning.

The city of Civilopolis is not what is used to be, and Jarles senses something new.  There is an invisible world again, but it’s not hunger that is piercing him.  He looks into the smoke and fire and sees that the buildings are still there.  He looks down and sees new signs on the street.  The signs of fear and tension have been replaced with signs of progress and hope.  There are people again in the street, and they are fighting the animals.  Not fighting with guns but   The people are winning.  Their hunger is now their survival, they hunger to live.

Eventually the animals are again no longer visible, and Jarles no longer senses them just beyond himself.  He looks for the Gorilla and sees it fading.  Again they smile at each other, and wave in the same way.  Both have faded green eyes.

In the city of Civilopolis, when the people awaken from their dreams, the city is new.  The hunger of tension quenched, they now hunger for progress once more.  They have survived, but survival isn’t enough.  They hunger for more of a reason to live than mere survival.  No one mentions the animals, but all remember.  The signs of the derelicts and the signs of the artists now carry a message of hope.  Everyone is looking forward to the future now.

Jarles retires from his P.I. practice, but stays in Civilopolis.  He wonders, often, what caused the meeting of worlds.  Did the proximity of the invisible jungle bring the degradation of the city?  Or did the degradation of the city bring the invisible jungle?  Former Inspector Jarles knows one thing, though.  The city’s hunger to survive was greater than that of the invisible animals.

In the city of Civilopolis there is an invisible jungle.   Always hungry, always present, it never leaves.  In the city of Civilopolis there is a hunger for hope that roars and bellows.  As Inspector Jarles now acknowledges his animal, so must the city acknowledge the jungle within it, and neither forget it nor embrace it.  To hunger for survival is to live, but to hunger for more than survival is what makes Civilopolis.

 


The Lonely Shadows

December 15, 2010
Been a while since I posted anything.  Apologies.  This is a sonnet I just wrote, based on an idea I had a couple months back during an overnight roadtrip.  Beneath the poem is my explanation.
————————————————————————————————— 

There are shadows in the night, if you look.
Giants. These once great beings, now condemned,
to lurk beyond the highways they forsook
out of hope, for saved imagination.

Giants, who once could rule all they saw.
Growing real in our mind’s darkest places.
Giants, displaced from time and space and thought.
Now just insignificance in traces.

Once we feared what was known as dark unknown.
Unknown, but really creativities.
Bypasses around these giants have grown,
and no time left for dark proclivities.

The giants of the night lumber slowly,
just past sight, these shadows are so lonely.

————————————————————————————————–
Like I said, this idea came to me during an overnight roadtrip.  I was staring out the window, and found myself imagining these giants of shadow lumbering slowly and harmlessly across the fields as we passed.  I imagined them to be sad giants, with nothing left to them but the empty spaces of the night.  Sad that people no longer think of them, care for them, or fear them.  In my mind they represent the lack of downtime our minds experience, what with the constant bombarding of stimuli we experience nowadays.  We’ve lost the ability to be bored, and with it, the ability to allow our minds to wander to those darker places where scarier ideas once inspired the best of creativity.  Bram Stoker’s Dracula, Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein, anything by Edgar Allen Poe, and much of H.P. Lovecraft.  In the light and speed of the digital age we’ve lost the slow grace of darkness that once made us appreciate the light so much.  This is my tribute.


“Mono”logue

February 18, 2010

…and as the waves crashed against him he stood, slowly crumbling, in the ocean.  The salt burned his wounds, his eyes, and his very being; while the water ate his body.  He turned to me and said “Look.  This is creation.” and his face washed away.  I stared at where he had been.  I stood and stared then at the horizon, as the sun rose over the endless sea of reflection.  With every second the sun became brighter and I more whole.  My own energy returning to me now.  My whole body.  Once again.

…and as the sun emerged completely I opened my eyes.  “Now, I’m awake.”


Chapter 2

October 25, 2009

The smoke clears and I see that I’m in a tunnel.  The dust burns in my eyes, and there’s fire and junk all over the place.  Worse yet, there’s a pile of debris blocking the way out.  Worse even that that, I’m still with the team.  Damn.

“That should keep the planet going,” Biggs meows, hopefully.  “At least a little longer.”

“Yeah,” is Wedge’s ingenious response.  I watch Big Barret, but he stays silent.  Jessie moves towards the debris pile and begins rigging an explosive.

“Ok!  Now everyone get back.”  The pile burns up and we have an escape.  Woo.  Outside our little huddle-spot is a nice-looking urban courtyard.  We make our way to the center of that.

“All right!” Barret begins his debriefing speech.  Great location, right?  Center of a courtyard?  “Now, let’s get out of here.  Rendezvous at Sector 8 station!  Split up and get on the train!”  And everyone splits, except for Barret and me.  I look him in the eye; it’s time I asked my due.  What’s left of my conscience tells me that this might not be the best time.  I ignore it.

“H, hey!”

“If it’s about your money save it ‘til we’re back at the hideout.”  And he storms away across the courtyard.  That went well.

*                    *                    *
There’s an odd feeling in the air.  A tension.  Everyone knows that something terrible has happened but nobody wants to talk about it.  Instead they just go about their business as usual, except everyone moves like someone who’s keeping a massive secret.  Everyone is shifty eyed, cautious, and scared.  But they keep moving.  They never stop moving.

This city is really an ant-hive disguised as a jungle disguised as an octopus disguised as a city.  There are no redeeming qualities.  There are no flowers.  Making my way to the Sector 8 Station my mind drifts to the fact that I have never once seen a flower in this place.  Just as I begin to dwell on this, I see a flower.

A basket full of flowers, to be exact, carried by a young girl in a pink dress.  I look at her eyes and she notices and looks back.

“Excuse me.” She says, then nods to the plume of smoke coming from the north.“What happened?”

“Nothing.”  I respond.  No point getting into a conversation with a stranger, right?  “Hey, listen, er, don’t see many flowers around here.”

“Oh these?  Do you like them?  They’re only a gil!”   She holds a sunflower out towards me.  It’s center reminds of eyes.  I could use one.

“I’ll take it.”

“Oh, thank you!” She exclaims.  She smiles bright, the only genuine smile I think I’ve ever seen in this city.  “Here you are!”  She takes my money and hands me the flower.  I take it and nod, trying hard to remove my eyes from hers.  Finally I look away and am gone.

Seconds later, I’m still thinking about flowers, but am rudely interrupted by a voice.

“Hey!  You there!”  The head of a squad of Shinra soldiers calls out to me and begins running towards me.  I casually turn to stroll the other way, but there are more soldiers behind me.

“That’s as far as you go.”

I already have my escape planned.  I’m standing on an overpass.  Beneath me, a train track.  The odds are against me that this train will come when I need it, but I’m used to playing the odds.  Besides, I need to get the hell out of here.  Hurry up, train.

“I don’t have time to be messin’ around with you guys.” I casually explain to the soldiers, hoping they’ll understand my predicament.  I hear a rumbling.

“Enough babbling, grab him!”  They soldiers charge at me.  I casually climb the railing, touched that they want me alive.  I see lights below me, and I bend my knees.  Three seconds until these soldiers are on me.  Two seconds.  Still no train.  One second.  I jump anyway.  While in midair I see the train beneath me.  I’m safe, it worked.  The soldiers disappear in the distance.
*                    *                    *

I’m laying on top of the cargo car that my associates are riding in, listening to their conversation.  Whoever said I was decent was lying.

“Cloud never came.” I hear Wedge say.  It sounds like he’s actually a little sad?

“Cloud… Wonder if he was killed?” Why do you wonder? So you can take more of the money?

“No way!” Barret proclaims, almost denying it.  Really?  Does the big guy have a soft spot?

“Say, do you think Cloud’s going to fight to the end for AVALANCHE?” Biggs looks up at Barret with an odd look in his eye.  A look he’s not used to expressing.  Is it hope?

“The hell would I know?  Do I look like a mind reader?” Barret rages back and slams his fist into a nearby crate.  “Hmph!  If y’all weren’t such screw-ups…”

“Hey Barret! What about our money…?” Wedge pipes in, causing Barret to slam the crate again, cracking it.  Since I’m interested in this topic as well, I knock on the roof.  They look around, then ignore it.  I try it again.  Again with the confusion.  These guys are too fun.  I climb around the side of the car, pull the door open, and swing down into the car with them, performing a front flip in midair for style.  The shocked looked on everyone’s faces tells me I did the right thing.

“Looks like I’m a little late.” I grin slyly.  What’s Big Barret gonna say to that?

“You damn right, you’re late!” He rips into me.  Just like I’d hoped.  “Come waltzin’ in here makin’ a big scene!”

“It’s no big deal.”  I’ve got him right where I want him.  “Just what I always do.”  And I wink.  It’s think wink that’ll get him.

“Shit!”  He ignites.  Here we go!  “Havin’ everyone worried like that, you don’t give a damn ‘bout no one but yourself!”  And he’s mine.

“Hmm…” I begin.  “You were worried about me!?”  Add in the googly eyes and… we have a winner.

“Wha!?”  His disgusted face returns.  “I’m takin’ it outta your money, hot stuff!”  He looks at the wall for a moment, then yells to the rest of the crew.  “Wake up!  We’re movin’ out!  Follow me!”  One by one these clowns follow him past me to exit the front of the car.  They all stop to talk to me on their way out.

“Hey, Cloud!  You were great back there!”  Wedge salivates.

“Heh heh… Cloud!  We’ll do ever better next time.” Biggs vows.  He’s right.  Depending on how well these guys pay, there might be a lot of next times.

“Be careful, I’ll shut this.” Jessie says and she shuts the door I flipped into.  “Oh, Cloud!  Your face is pitch-black….” I say nothing as she comes up to me and wipes my face off with her hand.  Our eyes meet.  “Say, thanks for helping me back there at the Reactor.”

What should I say?  Does this mean something to her?  The intercom chimes before I can answer, and we head into the next car.

“Last train out of Sector 8 Station.  Last stop is Sector 7, Train Graveyard.  Expected time of arrival is 12:23 AM, Midgar standard time…” The intercom finishes and a sad song comes on.  Looking around the car, I see a cross section of a nighttime metropolis.  The sad music, the sad faces, the grey train car, the greenish tinted lights, and the smell of old dairy give this car its atmosphere.  It’d be sad, if I weren’t so used to it.  Walking past a homeless man I look him in the eyes to see them.  They’re so sunken in I can’t tell what color they are.

“Huh?” He says to me. “This is my house, so make yourselves at home.”  I pass on by.  I wander around to see what the other passengers are talking about.

“You see the headlines in the Shinra Times?”

“The terrorists that bombed the No. 1 Reactor are based somewhere in the slums.”

“…blowing up a Reactor… they sure put some thought into this one.”  Barret notices my wandering and grimaces.

“Stop actin’ like a damn kid.  Si ‘down an’ shu’up!” He growls.

“Someday AVALANCE’s gonna be famous… and me, too!” Wedge whispers to me as I take a seat next to him.  Just what I want to listen to, a fame hungry terrorist.

“It seems this train hasn’t switched to security mode yet.” Biggs tells me from across the aisle.  “I’m sure that will change by tomorrow.”

“Hey, Cloud.  You want to look at this with me?  It’s a map of the MIdgar Rail System.  Let’s look at it together.”  Jessie asks.  I nod and walk over to her.  “I like this kinda stuff. Bombs and monitors… you know, flashy stuff.”

We look at a small screen mounted on the side of the train car.  A wireframe of the entire city appears and rotates.  The city is round, like a plate.  In fact it is a plate. The devil’s dinner on a plate, that’s Midgar.  Jessie narrates.

“This is a complete model off the city of Midgar.”  She begins, and the image zooms out to show the whole the city.  “It’s about a 1/10000 scale.”  The image zooms in to just show the top half.  “The top plate is about 50 meters above the ground.  A main support structure holds the plate up in the center, and there are other support structures built in each section.  The No. 1 Reactor we blew up was in the northern section.”  She continues casually.  “Then there’s No. 2, No. 3, all the way up to the No. 8 Reactor.  These reactors provide Midgar with electricity.”  And we’re trying to rid them of that? “Each town used to have a name, but no one in Midgar remembers them.  Instead, we refer to them by numbered sectors.  That’s the kind of place this is.”  So that’s why we’re trying to destroy it?  A dotted line appears on the map and spirals around the city.

“This is the route the train is on.  The route spirals around the main support structure.”  She points to the line, then to a square on the line.  “At each checkpoint, an ID sensor device is set up.  It can check the identities and background on each and every passenger on the train from a databank at Shinra headquarters.  Anyone could tell that we’re suspicious, so we’re using fake ID’s.”  With a loud THUD the lights switch from greenish to bright red. “That light means we’re in the ID security check area.  We’re almost back now.”  I nod and head back to my seat in between Wedge and Barret.  I wish I could understand the reason for having a train in a city that looks the same wherever you are.  It’s like squirming inside of a paper bag: you’re not getting out no matter where you go.

I notice that Barret is looking out the window.  Looking outside reminds me of sinking into water.  Below us spiraling upward is the slum city below Shinra.  Midgar’s shadow.

“Look… you can see the surface now.  This city don’t have no day or night.”  Barret describes aloud.  I have no comeback.  “If that plate weren’t there… we could see the sky.”  I look up and see the bottom of the plate.  I can see the giant pillars holding each sector up.  If one of those pillars were to ever get damaged, countless innocents would be at risk beneath.

“A floating city… Pretty unsettling scenery.” I mumble.

“Huh?” Barret looks at me.  “Never expect to hear that outta someone like you.  You jes’ full of surprises.”  He stands up.  “The upper world… a city on a plate…” He begins.  I’m not in the mood to mock him.  “It’s ‘cuz of that fuckin’ pizza’, that the people underneath are sufferin’!”  He slaps a seat.  “And that the city below is full of polluted air.  On toppa that, the Reactor keeps drainin’ up all the energy.”

“Then why doesn’t everyone move onto the plate?”  I wonder aloud.  Good question, really.

“Dunno.  Probably ‘cuz they ain’t got no money.  Or, maybe…” He looks at the ground and wipes his nose, “cuz they love their land, no matter how polluted it gets.”

“I know… no one lives in the slums because they want to.  It’s like this train.  It can’t run anywhere except where its rails take it.”  A slave to its own destiny, I think.  Are we like that?  Are we just puppets of our dreams?

The train whistle pulls me out of it.  The sound of the breaks screeching howls into my ears as we pull to a stop and exit the train.  The station has the look of a place that was grand about sixty years ago but hasn’t been kept.  The stairs are cracked, the clock is dead, and, just like the rest of the city, there’s a haze and an atmosphere of sad nostalgia.

“Yo!  Get over here, all’ya!!”  Barret barks at me.  I join the crew standing conspicuously in a circle around Barret.

“This mission was a success, but don’t get lazy now.” He’s so inspirational, isn’t he?  “The hard part’s still to come!  Don’t y’all be scared of that explosion, ‘cause the next one’s gonna be bigger than that!  Meet back at the hideout.  Move out!”


Death of a Walrus.

October 6, 2009

Prelude
The night was dark. Rain poured down, and waves crashed against the dock one after another, so that anyone standing would be forced mercilessly to their knees.  Walrus, the walrus, edged his way along the side of the building inch by inch, careful not to fall or make any noise that might give him away.  His tuxedo drenched, he peeked around a corner and made the turn.  His goal, the window, was just eight feet away.  Eight slippery feet away…

He made it to the window!  After some time, he turned his head to peek in.  All his hopes… no, all of his dreams rested on what he would see inside this window.  Whatever was going on inside this building would determine his fate.

As his eyes moved towards the window they opened wide.  Walrus was astonished at the horror that was taking place within this building.  Horror unheard of even in the deepest recesses of hell.

An asian family was celebrating the birthday of their 10 year-old son, who was interested in baseball and violin.  He also loved chocolate cake with strawberry icing, and his favorite musician was Kanye.  His parents didn’t understand this choice.  The children were swinging at a pinata.   A walrus pinata.

The walrus began shaking with fear, and lunged into the violent water.  He would survive, as a walrus, but his fate was sealed.  He could never love again.

Andante
An Asian man was sitting on a park bench.  He was deeply religious (Methodist), and was staring at the figure next to him on the bench.  It was a golden statue of Jesus.  It had not been there when the man sat down, and he could not remember it appearing.  It was just there, where it had not been before.

Tears appeared in the mans’ eyes as he began remembering his sins.  He confessed them to this Golden Jesus.

He was Japanese, this man.  Japanese and with a family.  A wife.  But also a mistress.  His cheeks itched with tears as he told this to the Golden Jesus.

It was he who had taken some money from the school’s music fund to go on a quick vacation with his wife.  It was he who had failed to go to his son’s baseball game because he was stuck in a rehearsal.

It was he who had cheated on his wife and been a bad father.  And it was he who had stopped up the toilet the night before and gone to bed without unclogging it.  As he confessed all this to the Golden Jesus a young child ran up.  The child had been playing soccer in a nearby field.  His name was Charlie.  He loved soccer, and Thomas the Tank Engine.  The child lifted the Golden Jesus to his mouth and took a bite out of its head.  It was not a Golden Jesus after all.  Just cheese.

Intermezzo
The Asian man, John, waited in line at Burger King.  His palms sweaty, his forehead sweaty, his underarms sweaty, his back dry and uncomfortably warm.  He was starving.  His stomach felt as though it were collapsing upon itself he was so hungry.  He was also badly shaken.  He had just confessed his sins to a Cheese Jesus.  The heresy.  How could such a thing exist.  Blasphemy.

He was three people away from being at the cash register.  Two people away.  One person away.  Finally John approached the register.  The cashier’s back was turned, and so John focused instead on the menu.  He would get a Whopper Jr., a small fry, and a diet coke.  He had to watch his cholesterol, after all.

Finally the cashier turned around to face John, and both were shocked beyond belief.  John’s greatest fear had come true.  He was face to face with the being that had haunted his dreams for years.  Walrus too was shocked.  Here in front of him was the man who had ruined his life.  Who had taken all that was sacred to him.  Who had ended his chance at being Walrus the walrus.  Walrus stared into John’s eyes.  John stared into Walrus’s tusks.  Both were full of fear.  Both were full of hate.

Minutes passed.  The fast food establishment was silent.  All who were there bore witness to the greatest stare down of the 21st century.  Finally, after eight minutes and thirty-seven seconds, John broke.  He screamed, the thought of those tusks piercing his body was too much.  He screamed bloody murder.  He screamed as though his self were crawling with spiders (he also hated spiders).  He screamed and it sounds like nails on a chalkboard.

John ran from the restaurant.  He would never face Walrus again.  Never be able to show his face in a Burger King again.  He was permanently scarred.

Walrus, on the other hand, gained some courage that day.  Walrus had certainly not died.  Lo, he had become more of a Walrus than John would ever be Man.  And thus the Walrus was born.

Fín.


My Past Year, as told by Facebook.

June 21, 2009

So tonight I had an idea.  I decided to time travel.  Or, since my future self hasn’t brought me back the technology yet, I decided to go as far back in my facebook timeline as I could.  I could see what my status updates were like, what my wall posts were like, and what pictures I was tagged in.  Well, I only made it back to just over a year ago.  The effect was not what I had expected.

At the beginning of May, 2008, I was preparing to go to Japan.  I was going with a class and we were going to shoot a documentary.  I was pumped.  Excited beyond belief that I was going to be out of the country for the first time in my life.  My facebook statuses of the time were a daily countdown to when when I’d be there.  Even down to the hours.

I remember now that I had gotten my digital camera as a birthday present, and spent a lot of my time figuring it out.  I played a lot of Mario Kart Wii and was still sending “Pieces of Flair”.  I see that I had just recently watched “Lost in Translation” and I remember the night that I watched it.  I was drinking Gin with my friend Sam.  My other roommates were out of town.  Sam left halfway through the movie, and it was just me watching the movie drinking some gin.  I remember that I was in a weird mood that night, especially considering Murray’s persona in that movie.

I see all of my pictures from Japan.  Beautiful cityscapes and some nighttime fun.  Damn that trip was amazing.  I see wall posts from friends at the time that I haven’t talked to in a year.  I see myself becoming friends with people who are now close friends.  I also see posts from people who I hadn’t talked to in years but responded to my Japan pics and stories.

I see the blogs that we had to write as part of the class, and I’m reminded of where I was and what I was doing when I wrote them.  One was written in a Hotel Lobby because the room didn’t have internet.  I had downed 2-3 “cocktail partners”, and thus my writing was very eloquent.

I see posts about me returning to Bloomington, and a post about a friend who spent the summer in France.  The rest of the summer consists of me being nostalgic about Japan, and being excited to see “The Dark Knight”.  I forgot about some of the movies that came out last summer: Indiana Jones, Wall-E, Incredible Hulk, Hellboy 2.  I remember the night that my roommate and I rented the first Hellboy to check it out.  I also remember that I started watching “Dexter” right around this time, and it became one of my favorite shows.

I see posts about leaked pics from the set of Watchmen.  I was so excited about that movie.  I see more Japan nostalgia, including when I realized I could buy a certain orange drink online that I had had a lot of in Japan.  That was a happy moment for quite a few of us.

I see when school started, as marked by the beginning of gamezombie videos being posted to my profile.  Also, one of my best friends moves to Spain for a year.  I’m reminded of a book trilogy that a good friend referred me to, and reading it.  Eragon, Eldest, and Brisingr.  Fantasy stuff, but fun.

I see when my senioritis began kicking in, as I said I was ready for finals just a few weeks into the semester.  I’m reminded of how busy I got so quickly last fall, with Gamezombie and my cinematography class raping my time.  I remember how nostalgic and I got.  I see where I posted pictures from freshman and sophomore years on Facebook.  I’ve always been a nostalgic guy, it’s been something to struggle with from time to time.

I see where I was proud of my roommate for getting engaged.  The wedding is in just a few weeks now.  It’s still hard to believe.  I see where gas prices started dropping.  I thought that 3.22 was cheap!  I’m also reminded of an internship that I had planned on applying for.

I see where my first Gamezombie edit was released online.  I remember the editing that I did on that, and how fun it was.  I’m reminded that I ran a 5k last October!  I had almost forgotten about that.  Haha, I’m jewish and I ended up running with a minister.  It was a lot of fun, I was so happy that I did it.

I remember that I was considering growing a beard in late October, and that another wave of nostalgia hit me and I posted a ton more old pictures on Facebook.    A lot from last summer, mostly from when I first got my camera and was playing with it.

I remember that at the time the election was weighing on everyone’s minds.  The big question, McCain or Obama.  I remember Sarah Palin.  Haha, wow.

It was around this time that I started becoming facebook friends with a lot of the gamezombie people who I have since grown to become close friends with.  I know that around this time was when ButtonMashers started.  October 24th, I believe.  I remember meeting my cohosts and how nervous I was.  Every Friday I would wake up feeling sick those first few weeks.  I was terrified.  But my confidence grew and it’s been one of the best experiences of my life.  I see pictures of me from the GZ halloween party.  That was wild.

It was just after this that I began hanging out with someone who would really have an impact on me.  It’s so strange now to see the “Sam and (name) are now friends”, when these people are now some of my best friends.

I see the first episodes of ButtonMashers being release.  I remember I was working on a project for a comic-book class I was in at the time.  The class sucked, I know how cool it sounds but it failed.  I was doing a powerpoint presentation about how Watchmen related to the Cold War, and every 10 minutes would check YouTube to see the views.  They skyrocketed on that first episode.  We got featured and raked in over 110,000 views.  That was weird, but so exciting.  I remember Chelsey and I texting back and forth about it.

I see how happy and proud I was when Obama won the election.  Most of my friends were, too.  Such an exciting time.  I remember that I was at work that night.  I was invited to a party but didn’t make it, and instead missed them calling the election because I was on my way home from work.

I’m reminded of Mica’s game nights.  One in particular, when a friend came.  It was around then that I started to kind of like that friend as more than a friend.

I see Happy Thanksgiving comments, and an item about a friend’s birthday party.  I remember that I don’t remember much about that party.  But I remember that the next night I explored areas I’d never been to.  That was a fun trip.

I see myself becoming friends with people who I spent a lot of time with second semester of that year.  I also see me depriving myself of sleep.  I had so much work to do in those days.  I was editing one video for gamezombie, two for Cinematography, while still trying to direct another, and write a screenplay while learning scripts every week to host a web show that I was still sickly nervous about, while trying to have a life.  A certain friend and I started growing close during this time, and made it not seem as bad.  Nighttime adventures to Kroger were a ton of fun and really appreciated, they definitely lightened my mood.

I remember the all-nighters at the library, and how rough they were.  I didn’t mind at the time, but for 3 weeks I spent multiple nights working.  At the end I crashed major.

I remember that I got depressed a little.  I see a status update, “Sam Sher would like to know the meaning of life….. I mean, besides sushi and natchan…. what else is there?”  Granted, this was at 4:35am and I believe I was quite intoxicated, but the joke about sushi and natchan was only thrown in to ease out the seriousness of the post.

I remember the lengths I went to to get all of my work done in those final weeks.  I see where I underestimated another project, and another project, and friends joked but were concerned about my lack of sleep.  I was concerned too.

I remember the last Thursday night of final week.  At the library for one last all nighter, with paperwork out bulging out of my eyes.  Sleep deprived I misinterpreted a text, and that put me over the edge.  I couldn’t finish.  I crashed.  A buddy that I was at the library at was witness to me just putting everything aside and setting my head down.  I gave up, and that feeling sucked.  I couldn’t possibly get everything I needed done in that one night.  I had pushed myself too far, too hard, and it came back and bit me.  This weighed on me hugely for quite a while.

I see Christmas and remember that it was then that I first got into “It’s Always Sunny In Philadelphia”.  It’s now one of my favorite shows, and I’ve seen every episode at least once.  I remember that my new years consisted of going to see “The Dark Knight” in theaters, for the sole reason that I couldn’t believe it was still playing.

I remember the next day Chelsey came down to visit, and we went to see Synechdoche, NY.  What an awesome trip that was, when we explored Bardstown Rd. in Louisville.  It was around then that she started giving me cd’s to learn.

I see where second semester began and I started becoming friends with people from my classes.  I remember PAing a shoot for a short webisode that still hasn’t aired, and then staying up until 6am playing a video game while a friend read Watchmen.

I remember one week when the heat in my apartment died.  Also, a friend came over to watch a movie and was snowed in.  Haha, had to sleep on a couch bundled up in about 4 blankets because it was so cold, I felt so bad.

I remember when we had a snow day, and some friends and I walked to Chilis in the snow.  It took forever, but it was an awesome adventure.  I got soaked on the way back, I recall.  Again I see myself becoming friends with people who are now close, as well as the beginning of the “25 Things” fad on facebook.

I eventually gave in and wrote a “25 Things”.  Most were fluff, but a couple were truly heartfelt.  I said in my note that I had never been truly happy, and was afraid that I never would be.  Since then I have experienced that happiness and lost it again.  But I’m still happy now, knowing that I have felt it and can.

I see where we began shooting season 2 of ButtonMashers.  Ah, that was an experience.

I remember that I got pretty depressed in February, and see the beginning of it at the end of January.  I see where I began complaining in my statuses, and disliking myself.  At the time I was having a few crises.  First, I was again over-stretching myself and was beginning to fail like I had at the end of the previous semester.  I was missing an internship repeatedly.  I knew it was just a matter of time before I got in trouble, but I couldn’t force myself to go.  I was also depressed because of a slight, I don’t know, identity crisis of sorts.  I was changing at the time and, well, I’m still not sure what into.  Also, I was terrified of graduation.  There were other reasons, too, but February was a pretty harsh month.

I remember that, from about mid-January to the end of February, I would, every single weekend, wake up one morning not knowing where I was or how I’d gotten there.  I mean, the previous nights were always a lot of fun.  Mostly.  But were they just spawned because I needed to release from stress?  There was someone that I cared for more than I ever had, but I couldn’t act on it and I wasn’t even sure if it was mutual.  That hurt.

Eventually missing my internship caught up to me, and I had to drop.  Also, I discovered that I was short a credit hour to graduate, because of an advisor error.  I wasn’t getting any credit for my most stressful class.  So I dropped it.  Although in the long term dropping the class eased my load, I at first hated myself for dropping.  I was an integral part of the production, and my dropping threw everything off balance.  The whole class had to be restructured because of me.  At first that tormented me.  Luckily the teacher was extremely understanding and nice about it.

I remember watching the movie “Chaplin”.  Not a Chaplin movie, but a bio of him starring Robert Downey Jr.  I loved the movie.  But I was in such a bad mood that I sobbed at the end.  Of course, I might have done that anyway.  The ending was beautiful, I still feel it when I think of it.  But I couldn’t even fight it.  It just happened.

I remember having a joke facebook engagement with a friend.  Haha, how hilarious that was.  I got so many congratulations on that.  Even family friends started sending me messages.  I was kind of embarrassed to tell them it was fake, but it was all in good fun.

I remember March starting, and I started my 8-weeks classes to make up for what I was dropping.  I remember having a dream that I was in the desert, and so I decided that I would drive to Arizona for spring break.  I would go alone or with someone, I just needed to drive and keep driving.  I told Chelsey, who by now was one of my closest friends, about my plan and asked if she’d want to go.  I didn’t know what to expect as a response, but she was hugely enthusiastic and wanted to go.  So we started planning.  My parents thought the idea was stupid, but I was determined for the first time in a long time.  I was going to Arizona no matter what.

I remember that we started shooting “Ultimate Challenge” for Gamezombie, and how much fun that was.  The long nights of green screen shooting led to some of the funniest moments of the year, and I wouldn’t do those shoots any other way.

Just like when I went to Japan, I started counting down the hours until when I had seen Watchmen.  It was around this time that I linked my Twitter.com account up to my facebook status.  There are a number of status here that were just joke Tweets linked to things happening at the theater.  I was so excited.  Plus, I loved the movie.  I was pleasantly surprise.  Certainly there are a number of things I would have done differently, but the movie was so much better than I was afraid it would be.

“Up early as hell, but I can’t stop smiling.  Life is awesome that way. :D”.  That was my tweet/facebook status on the morning of March 11th.  The night before had been one of the happiest nights of my life.  Feelings turned out to be mutual.  I was on top of the world.  I was on cloud nine.  That happiness, that was the true happiness that I had written about in my “25 Things” note.  I had never in my life been that happy.  Just thinking about it makes me so happy to know that I am capable of that happiness.  “I can’t stop smiling.  Life is awesome that way.”  I truly could not stop smiling.  After having been so depressed, this was the best possible feeling in the world.

Spring Break is a story all of it’s own, but it was amazing.  Driving, and driving, and driving, with my closest friend was an amazing journey.  Rather than be confused and depressed and stuck, I spent a week constantly moving, happy beyond belief, and learning new sides of myself every minute.  The trip at the Grand Canyon was incredible, and I completely fell in love with driving in the desert.

Coming back wasn’t too bad.  I had work and school to deal with, but I could handle that now no problem.

Campus Movie Fest arrived, and Chelsey, Andrew, and I made a short film.  We had a plan for a completely different story, but a rainy weekend threw that out of question.  So instead we shot our project in one hour, and I edited it in less than two days.  Quite the rush job, really.  It turned out rather well though, and we made it to the top 28 out of 111 films.

I remember finishing shooting “Ultimate Challenge”, and shooting the rest of season 2 of “ButtonMashers”.  I remember Andrew and I finding an apartment for next year.

Thoughts of next year still made me nervous.  They still do now.  I won’t be in school and I have to find a job and work a ton.  Very different from any situation I’ve been in.  Nervousness about this, plus some stress from classes began to weigh me down again, but nowhere near what I’d been at in February.  I was still happier than ever.

It was mid-April when I started my blog, The Sherald Times.  A cheesy name I know, but it was the first time I had ever started posting my writings online.  Amazing how that can feel.  That outlet.

Nostalgia of the road trip was on me a lot during April.  I still miss driving.  Especially at night.  Driving on a highway at night long distance is possibly one of the most relaxing experiences.  I can’t wait to do it again.

I remember playing James Bond in a short for a studio production class.  That was fun.  It kind of put me on a minor Bond kick for a while.  I bought a bunch of Bond movies.

I remember my birthday.  My 22nd birthday.  It was the best birthday I’ve had in years.  Chelsey blindfolded me and took me to Story, In.  She had made reservations at the Story Inn Restaurant, and we ate there.  There was a wine fest going on, so we explored the town and checked out the wine fest.  Nobody had ever done something so surprising for me like this, I was speechless.  She also got me a poster-sized print of a Ralph Steadman drawing, the cover of Fear & Loathing in Las Vegas.  Again I was speechless and couldn’t stop smiling.  Nobody had ever surprised me and been this thoughtful for me.  What a wonderful thing.

I remember finals week, and how it wasn’t so bad.  Granted, I couldn’t focus on any of my finals due to the fact that I was about to graduate and be done with school, but it wasn’t bad.

I was in such a weird place when I graduated.  I was happy but sad, excited but terrified.  High School was similar but this was much more extreme, because there’s no more school after this.  For a while I toyed with the idea of applying for Grad School.  But after this year and being so fed up with classwork, I decided it would be best for me to take a year off from school, at least.  I felt bad, because I think people were really excited for me to do grad school and a part of me feels as though I let them down by not doing it.  But I need the time off.

After graduation a new goal arrived.  I was going to E3.  Excitement beyond belief, the trip started taking up all of my thoughts.  I was starting to get nervous about being graduated again.  I sort of felt as though I was on an edge.  E3 was a great thing, and gamezombie really seemed to be going somewhere.  But a loss of that happiness was just around the corner.

Slipping back into a funk, E3 was a cloud of thoughts.  I don’t remember much about the week leading up to it, either.  Don’t get me wrong.  The trip was a blast and I had a great time.  But I wasn’t nearly as there as I had hoped to be.  I now even started doubting my reason for staying in bloomington.  I’ve had a lot on my mind lately.  It’s not nearly as bad as February, but it sill hasn’t been an easy month.

But I’m getting through fine.  June is almost over and so I’m over a lot of what had me down.  If I’ve learned anything this year it’s been to not dwell.  As hard as it is, dwelling on something painful doesn’t do any good.  I now have one of the best friends I’ve ever had. That’s still more than I had before.  The last thing I ever want to do is lose that kind of friendship.  2 months of happiness was amazing, but I still have a best friend.

Just before E3 I purchased a MacBook from a friend, and that has since taken up a lot of my time.  I’ve been exploring all that it’s capable of.  Also, I got a job for the month of June, shooting b-roll of a construction site.  I’ve begun watching old “Star Trek” episodes and have become quite fond of it.

I look back on where I was 1 year ago.  I ask myself, because I’m sometimes not so sure, if I’m a better person now than I was 1 year ago.  Because I’m definitely different.

I’m now a producer for gamezombie, in charge of the comedy sketch shorts.  My first shoot is tomorrow and I’m hoping it goes well.  As per usual, I’m depriving myself of sleep and being nostalgic, looking at my facebook timeline from a year ago to now.

And yes.  Yes I do think I’m a better person now.  I’m far more confident.  I never had that confidence before this year.  I’m confident and I know a lot more about my limits.  I learned a lot about myself in this past year.  And that’s one value of facebook that I never expected.  The ability to judge personal growth by viewing one’s old posts on a social website.

Time to hit the pillow, I believe.

If you read this, congrats.  It was a long-ass post and I didn’t expect it to turn out this long.

-Sam


Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.