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(Written on the Gulf Islands Ferry)
When I put on these soundproof headphones, it’s like there is a constant pressure on my ears – especially when I’m in a public transit vehicle.
It’s like my ear canals are roads, and these headphones are boulders blocking the way. It’s not insurmountable, but it’s heavy and closed, as if they were hatches on a submarine… constantly under pressure by noise. When I am out in the city my footsteps are dull thuds, and my aural numbness translates into some kind of thickness of movement, in which I feel heavier and slower, clad in a protective spacesuit.
I am not sure if this is a comfortable feeling, not yet. I worry about long-term effects, but it’s good for times when I need to conserve my energy… when I need to shut out the world a little and not be burdened by the noise. It’s a nice, luxurious illusion in some ways… it offers me comfort, like a fluffy blanket against my head, protecting me from unpleasantness.
I remember how I almost went insane on the Granville bridge in Vancouver. I had decided to walk the entire way while darkness crept over the cityscape, and the cars, the water, the bridge, the buildings, the lights, the noise, oh god the noise… the people in their apartments, visible to the outside, the television sets blaring, the people crammed into these strange rooms open to the sky, visible to the world.
Step by step I went along that bridge, over the water. Bridges over water harbour intense fantasies of fear for me, for I fear not so much that I may fall, but that I’d be compelled to jump for whatever reason… or push someone in, like a loved one. My mind is so vivid that my fears come alive in my brain and shake me to the core, and I whimper and tremble as they snatch up my brain for an instant, just a moment. My particular worldly sensitiveness had made me susceptible to all kinds of fancies on that bridge, and I quailed from the pressure it exerted on me, from its people to its vehicles to its architecture, to its energy. I nearly went crazy crossing the Granville St Bridge, and it was a sign for me to head to quieter lands… to get away from the noise.
This protective gear for the ears is a useful gift; for times like those, when there is too much, too much for my mind to process, it would be good to have some protection… to have a barrier against the noise, against the lights. To not have to fear such urban sprawls, where there is so much – too much to feel. I think these thoughts, with the headphones on my ears, the pressure swelling and easing with every turn of my head, and I watch the ferry arrive at my destination. Sturdies Bay, Galiano Island… my once and future home. The ferry is a cacophony of noise barely muffled by the walks and floors, the surfaces. The rumbling cannot be escaped from, but at least for a little while I may have some respite.
It’s time to head down. Time to set foot on land. I go to my home again for a week. My home, for the summer.
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Happy birthday to me.

You know, I never put myself in a mindset beyond twenty-one. To me, that was the important age, and the fact that I was still, to some extent, fucked up was devastating to me. I wanted twenty-one to be special and mean something, and who knows? Maybe it did. I certainly went through a couple changes, and now I'm trying to change (amid some familiar pitfalls) and grow anew I set off on the path to adulthood.

But now. Now, I am twenty-two, and who knows what that means. One year older, one year advanced. I had a spirit medium tell me my future, that in many more years things would be better. I can't quite remember the details (and perhaps that's for the best) but I got the sense that the next handful of years would set me on a road of improvement, of recovery and fulfillment. I suppose I'm still getting there.

I'm twenty-two years old. No longer the adolescent but a young man, still confused, still somewhat inexperienced in the ways of the world. Yesterday I cleaned washrooms and helped maintain the film school I've been living at. A day before that, my boss off-handedly remarked that I was ten times more responsible than he was at my age. The ghost of VFS - one that taunts my inability, my immaturity, brings to light my tendency to hide and withdraw, is disappearing from my life. In this place, I feel like I've proven myself to be better, to be responsible... to be worth something. It's a job I enjoy doing, it's a job that's hard work, and it's a job I can handle.

No matter the stresses in this place, I have defined the role I've been given, to the point where even when I'm not here, the tech gal, A, tells the interns that they "have to be Tito until Tito gets here." That made me grin a little, when I heard that. Slowly I'm becoming a fixture in this place, and I don't mind that in the least.

So yeah, things are better. I mean, there are still some dissatisfactory details here and there, but they're not insurmountable beasts... though a couple might be a little painful to overcome. But whatever, it's a process.

Three more days and I'm on my break. Three week break. After that, I'm here for two months. We'll see how that goes. Until then, signing off.
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It's unusual for me to be melancholy about the past.

Usually, my mind is guilty about the past. I get memories in little flashes, thinking back to old times, old things, and almost always in a particularly vivid sense. If they're bad ones, I snap myself out of it, almost get the urge to double up on myself, mourn and apologize to nothing over and over, try to make peace while running as fast as I can from it. I don't usually reminisce much about how I used to be, whether I was happier or not; sometimes I have chats with my inner child of sorts, try to maintain an relationship that's awkward at best. Mostly, it's the present in which I'm happy... doing things that put a smile on my face, whether it's biking or swimming or chatting up a pretty girl, or entertaining myself by being a bogeyman and reciting cryptic, context-less pieces to unwarned acquaintances, mini-soliloquies that my mind picks up to use. Even if my brain isn't always rooted in the present, it's where it flourishes.

There are a couple things I look forward to, sometimes. When I was younger, I looked forward to going back to Canada, seeing my mom again, whom I'd canonized somewhat in my head - probably for lack of exposure. I wanted to be back where I felt at home, where I had my old, good memories, and be away from that hideous red-brick-and-concrete school. Be home, where it was safe.

I don't have much of a home right now. I have a room to myself in a shared space, where I do (to my credit) get lovely warm meals, which I can smell cooking in the kitchen as I speak. I have parents who still support me as much as I can while I do my best to grow into a form that's self-sustainable and who could someday give back all that they've supplied me, so I can be an independent human being. I have a room, a single room filled with boxes which I'm putting all my books into. Books, my way of keeping memories of the past with me wherever I go.

I don't have a space yet. I don't have a home. I expect I won't have a home until I make something of myself. I have parents' houses to stay in sometimes, to get away from it all, and if all goes well I'll have a room, a cluster house on the grounds of Uvic (where I got accepted by the way, I suppose that's news, though I reckon there're few people who haven't already been informed), another room within a shared space. Sharing spaces until I earn my own, I think; my own privacy and own fortress.

I reckon that's as good a goal as any. I want a place that I don't share with people. I want a room to sit down with friends when I want to invite them over, have fun with them and fulfill my social obligations and needs. I want to know how to cook my own food, to have a stable breakfast filled with things that I make. I want to have a view that's, if not beautiful, that at least isn't hideous; a place outside that I can look at with a small smile. If I have to pay rent, it's from what I earn. And how I earn it is dictated by me, and it's not work but an expression of me and my art.

There, that's a good lofty goal. I suppose I could aim higher, but I'm only beginning to learn to dream again, stirring my brain and waking myself up from guilt and sadness and anxiety and discomfort... awakening the child in me who used to dream.

As I stow things away into boxes, I see remnants of that child in the cartoon characters he used to love. The action figures are all given away by now, put to use or broken apart. I play with grown-up toys now, which has used up all my imagination... no way to use it now, to guide me on in my own private stage-plays. But here they are still, the old books I loved, Calvin and Hobbes and Dilbert and the Far Side and perhaps Frog and Toad's in there somewhere... or maybe I stored that one away already.

I look at these books in front of me, trying to find a place for them, filling up empty boxes, and my heart begins to ache as I pick up a book, read the author's introduction, talk about his life of drawing comics: Bill Waterson, a hero of my childhood. I wonder what he's doing now, resist the urge to do an online search for him. And I feel a black mood come over me, and I put on suitable music for such an occasion, and I dwell on sad thoughts.

It's unusual for me to be melancholy about the past. Worried about it, certainly. Thinking back and remembering unhappy thoughts, perhaps. But melancholy seems to be an emotion that springs from memories of good things, memories of things long gone. I got off the phone with a childhood friend, Eric, a friend from Galiano that I used to have sleepovers with. I remember us both wondering if everyone around us was a robot except us. I remember us discussing dreams and playing Nintendo 64 and reading Calvin and Hobbes. And now he's going off to Montreal and so much for us getting together, our paths are so divergent these days, and I haven't spoken to his younger brother in years.

I'm twenty-one years old. In a week and a half I'll be twenty-two. I wanted twenty-one to be a cornerstone, and perhaps it is, but it is not the penultimate me. I remember a spirit medium saying my life would change dramatically in a few years from then, when I was miserable and at a particular low point in my life. I suppose change comes gradually, and I am changing. But I'm twenty-one for only a week and a half longer and I am not yet where I want to be. I'm an adult and my greatest deception was the thought that I could be done with the bullshit that came with being a teenager. Instead I'm in my twenties and I've been more lost than I ever could be. I get people, friends of my parents, congratulating me for getting in and okay, thank you, but is this what I want? Anxiety that pervaded my time in Camosun washes over me again, and threatens to bind me in strings of guilt and horror.

I don't hide as much as I used to. That's a plus, I suppose. It's safe to say I'm almost, almost finished with LJ RP as a time-sink. Hell, one character in one comm is enough for me, and I'm not managing that very well. But oh well. I've got a summer job in a week, and that'll keep me busy. Keeping busy is good.

For now, it's keeping busy and trying to keep relaxed, trying to soak up my comforts. But seeing my old books and old memories and old memories of happiness packed into boxes, ready to be shipped off to somewhere I'll forget about them, isn't doing me any favors there. It's unusual for me to be melancholy about the past, but that's because I'm not used to preserving it. Now and then I'll stumble upon an old relic and take the time to reminisce, like now, but it's rare for me to be my own antiquarian; I rely on my parents and relatives for that, collecting pieces I've written that are meaningful to them.

It's time for me to get back to work. My new quarters is not big enough for my past; it can't hold my dreams in it, not quite. I need to stow them away somewhere that they might be safe. As for my new, future room (that isn't fully guarranteed, not yet) I doubt it'll be enough for me, for the four years I might live in them. (It is four years of university I'm preparing myself for, isn't it?) It might be a good enough temporary living space, where I live and quarrel with strangers, but it is hardly a future goal. Just another waiting area, like an airport, while I try to make things right, earn my own home by my own art and burgeoning skill. Maybe a small, small place of comfort.

Back to work. Back to packing things away. Perhaps I'll stow my melancholy somewhere there as well, secret and safe, until I find time to dwell in it once more.
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The worst thing about having a sugar addiction is that the joy for indulging it is always a potently inferior feeling, when compared to the despair of not having it.

Since banning large quantities sugar from my regular diet, every store is a temptation, every candy bar a grim reminder of what I'm denying myself. And yet, what is this snack I long for? A quick tasty treat, gone in a couple minutes. Brief sugar high, one that occasionally makes me erratic, somewhat shaky, and quick to anger. Occasionally brings a taste of euphoria. Possibly affects my sleep. The list goes on as to why these things are bad for me, why I can't stomach them the way I used to when I was a kid (or hell, were they bad for me even when I was younger?)

The worst part about it is that I've wanted to start cutting back from sugar for a long time. I'd promised myself I'd do it someday, right after feeling mildly dissatisfied with munching on that dollar-seventy-five chocolate thing from the gas station. And yet, this is what's behind all of my promises... this is the intent which now makes me seek out sugar-free gum, or lather expensive apple butter, courtesy of my dear mother, onto my toast. I need to fool my brain into thinking it's indulging itself or it doesn't stop - and even that doesn't work very well.

The knowledge of my family genetics has been like a shadow over me - genetic predisposition to diabetes. The thought that the things I deny myself, the things I desperately want are my, to quote a particularly histrionic song featuring Sting, clanging bells of doom. If I don't control my urges, I will kill myself on these things, or put myself down for medication during and after every meal - a breaking down of my bodily functions curtailed only by the advances of modern medicine.

But that's only an echo in my thoughts, a guilty whisper in my head after I've indulged, and sometimes during. It never occurs when I want the bloody things, which I suppose is the point. Hard to think of those pretty litlte round beans as harmful when their very appearance promotes fun and games and tastiness.

As I speak, I'm drinking green tea for my morning brew - a change from my usual cup, black tea with sugar or honey. I've had to cut both sugar and honey from my diet as much as possible - only get as much as nine cups of sugar a day, which is the maximum amount the male human body can absorb before it begins converting it all into fat. Nine cups, when the average person has about twenty-two cups a day. And I'm only beginning to realize how many products have sugar in them...

I am officially in possession of far too many games. More on that later on. Have to get ready to put on the pretense of making myself look presentable for bicycling in the outside world. Talking of which, this article, linked from the journal of my good friend the Hedonist, has been haunting my brain for some time. Right now, I'm at standard social geek-levels of hygeine, which is to say I let myself deteriorate and catch myself just in time so I do not horrify my roommates and the outside world. What would it take to discipline myself? The worth in trying is unquestionable, but would I miss my casually lazy standards in regards to looking presentable? Would I long for a simpler time when I lazed about in shorts and a t-shirt, unmentionable odors wafting into the ether from my person?

...Actually, that sounds like something I would laugh at in embarrassment in further years ahead. Oh dear.

Signing off.
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There is an occurrence in fiction that has transfixed me: A woman and a man, holding hands, running away.

It's an iconic moment in the game ICO, one of my favorites, made as a drawing by one of its creators for the game's cover art. Two figures, a boy and a girl, running across a large expanse. An extraordinarily built palace or castle of some kind. The characters are practically charcoal markings in the large tableau, but it is effective. Much of the game is spent running from two or fro, towards problems, away from problems. To run is to search, and escape.

There's another scene of this kind in Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, another of my favorite movies, in a shot that transfixed me: A man and his love, trapped in his memories as they're slowly being deleted by a computer. Running away from the devastation his choices have wrought, trying to hold onto his moments of happiness, in futility. They are panicked, hoping to cheat fate, to find a place to hide in, somewhere they can be safe in their love.

I've just put down the end of a truly epic trilogy, written by Stieg Larsson, an accomplished Swedish author, now dead. (He has quite a few other accomplishments as well, but this was his most latest one.) The trilogy will now be counted among my favorite book series, of which only one cannot be counted as entirely science fiction. (More of a romance with sci-fi elements, of a quality that I'm thinking of re-evaluating.) I was aware of his death from the get-go, but it only began to affect me as I ran through the last of the pages, following the story of a man and a woman... and many others besides, revolving around their fascinating relationship in a story of conflict, injustice and trust.

It wasn't the man and the woman running in the story, it was me. My mind read on, its thoughts racing, wondering how it could escape the torturous trap. Because once the book was finished, the stories would be done. There is no one to fill in the shoes of this now-passed away fellow and continue the tales. And I certainly don't expect my fellows in the online roleplaying scene, panfandom or otherwise, to pick them up. (The characters are a tad more complex than the standard fictional anime pantheon.) Their tale was succinctly ended, and thus the classic consumer conundrum - the demand cannot be met, because there is no more supply. Capitalism's slavish failings are brought to light.

There was some running in the book, but at its heart there was no panic in the man, or the woman, in this story. What was shown instead was a glimpse into their fictional lives, wherein was placed a grain of truth, of plausibility - the seductive, devilish, tantalizing bit that makes the readers believe that they can reach out and interact with these characters, to speak with them... or at the lowest level, to relate to them, to understand them in some vital way that is also a reflection of their own personal understanding.

I will read these books over and over and the story will be the same. Time is frozen and taken in snapshots, laid in printed paper. I will be free to pore over the lives of those who never existed, except in the brilliant mind of a man whose fate has claimed him. And like in all things concerning a death, my spirituality kicks in, a safeguard to my cynical reasoning. Because it is horrific for me to think that these characters, protagonists and supporting cast, enemies and villains and fools... all included in the package, are nothing but imagined figments. If taken on the psychological level, this finished tale could be a reconstructed mosaic of all the experiences the author personally had, the traits of people he'd actually met, mixed with his own personal creativity and knowledge. There is a certain magic in that, because in there is life, and life is relevant. I do not think it takes faith to believe that.

But my love for the fantastical influences my spirituality. I want to believe in these characters, that the act of belief is creation. Somewhere Mikael Blomkvist is having dinner with his business partner/lover, or having an interview, or tackling another case of high-up corruption. Somewhere Lisbeth Salander is living her life, free of compromise, free of judgment. Somewhere there is validity, to justify my longing.

This is what paralyzed me when I was twelve years old: the characters came from me, my mind, my thoughts, my imagination. They were trapped there, free to be influenced by outside experiences, like a needle poking into a sphere of amniotic fluid, but all the same imprisoned. There were so many other creative minds out there, believing and thinking and wondering and longing, and just mine, me, my own. There was no collective shared consciousness where we could imagine characters in distant worlds, create our own stories. There was our own worlds.

And this is what, famously, led me to roleplaying. It's been a ride. And yet I admit I've been disappointed, as much as I have been connected to amazing people that have influenced me in so many ways. Been my friends, on some occasions my lovers, in rarer occasions my enemies. But the great vision quest I wanted to make out of this was not nearly what I hoped for. In the end, people are people, with all their magnificent strengths and failings. To learn of the stories, I've had to learn of the people. I've had to learn what it is that makes people write these tales.

I've seen my share of ugliness. I've had friends abused because of matters pertaining to roleplaying worlds. I've seen people ostracized, perhaps justifiably in a case of "street justice", but all the same I see the murmurings: I have his address, I know which conventions he goes to, I know how to get revenge. I've seen people hate, and longed for, and sniped at beneath a veil of anonymity, passive aggressive guerilla warfare. As of late, I've begun to get away from those observances.

I don't have the energy for it. I've drifted. Soon I ascend, like the Red Balloon from that BBC movie I used to love. I feel gravity tugging me away from the child's hand, but am I ready to let go? To get on, say that there is no more here for me? And if I do float away, what is up there for me to embrace? Another unreal world to craft? Another escape?

I've lost my train of thought. Again drifting into issues yet to be reconciled. Again drifting too closely to my own life, losing the vision. I'm going to wake up tomorrow and feel like hell, trying to make an important date. I'm going to have to apologize for being late, perhaps. I'm going to flit through the day with minimal hours sleep.

Time descends upon me and I am its captive yet again.

It is only when I glance down at the book near my bed and I smile. The running man and the woman are, at least, immune to it. Their tale is fixated into place, and there is a certain comfort in that. My life marches on, but perhaps some entity out there is writing my life story as we speak. Perhaps I can escape time this way, in some fashion.

I think, I hope, I imagine. But for now, I am done.
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I'd never felt more autistic in my life before I finished my first aikido class.

There's so much emotional anxiety wrapped up in the martial art that I find hard to communicate. The last group I was in, whether intentionally or not, stressed me out so much. And as I've learned over the years, stress is not a good motivating tool for me in the least. It just makes my self-judgment even more exacerbated.

But it's a pretty good group. I'm in the Beginner's course, which is nice to be in for the moment. I can go through the motions, remembering the old movements, without stress. I can practice, get back to where I was, get my body moving. I really need to get a new uniform though.

My RP pasttime is ... weird right now. I've been spending time (and money) on an online MMO which is a fun little experiment. It's fun to see all these strange people acting out all their neuroses through their characters... their fantasy counterparts, their deviant sexual desires, their miniature stories mixed with gameplay. Action and narrative thrown together, sometimes clunkily, sometimes seamlessly. Egos thrown out into the ether, only to be bruised by rejection from strangers on the internet.

I've been drifting away from Livejournal roleplay. It was fun for a while, but no longer do I spend time on communities like bad_rpers_suck, or dear_mun, or roleplaysecrets. The wrath and desires projected into this artifical environment no longer interest me, and my recent kerfuffle on the one community I stay in has me falling away from that, too. A damn shame, considering how many contacts I've made from it.

And Clan Lord is a dismal affair, judging from the internet forums. Once in a while I take a peek in it, but it's so badly managed at the top and so slow with updates that I think it's doomed to be static. At this point it wouldn't matter if they switched back to paid accounts, considering how I never play it these days. Nothing to interest me.

I'm going to have to start thinking more often. There are a lot of decisions to make.

Signing off.
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The obligatory Christmas gatherings are finished. May I just say that my big(ger, littler) sister was an awesome host and for all that we don't see each other often, she's incredibly understanding of my limited social capabilities. I even got to hang out with my nephew, and although his ramblings are rather taxing to listen to, I was mostly able to entertain him and not make him feel unwelcome or unwanted. Which is a step up, I guess. I've always had the fear that my general loathing for small children would mean I'd inadvertently damage our relationship.

It's funny how my priorities work like that. It's plain true that I don't like kids. I can't relate to them, I can't loosen up enough to play around with their simplistic language and mannerisms. I can do so for pets - I can extend myself to them emotionally, just soak up their pleasure as I scratch between their ears and rub their bellies. But I just can't find a way to get over my dislike. And it's the one thing where I feel society's judgment exerts some pressure on me, y'know? I remember reading a book by Cecilia Dart-Thornton (who wrote one of my favorite fantasy trilogies) where her female protagonist did a whole soliloquy to her daugher about how she must find a man that loves children, while implying that those incapable of loving children were incabable of loving in general - or something hideous like that. It had already been a terrible read, but the book took a turn from general dislike to absolute loathing in my regard.

It's a funny thing, with my nephew. I don't really like him much right now - although I have all the assurances that he's a wonderful, bright boy for his age, he's a joy to be around, he's the light of the lives of those around him - but I really do like the idea of being an uncle. A young, cool uncle that could take him around town when he's older, or just hang around with him. When I'm thirty, he'll be into high school. When I'm approaching forty, he'll be getting through post-high school years (assuming all goes well and there won't be any unforeseen tragedies along the way, on either side.)

I slept well last night for the first time in who knows how long. Slowly but surely, I'm coming out of my hiding shell. I'm learning that I don't need to escape from the world, at least in this moment.

I'm happy that Christmas is over. I'm happy for my presents and I'm happy that I was able to give as much as I could this year. I got to stay with Jess and Mom and we had a good time all around.

Signing off.
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