Stuck In A Daze Like Dream

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It’s when I push too hard that my body starts to deteriorate.  It takes what would normally be my fast-paced and busy lifestyle and grinds it to a halt.  It’s frustrating, but for current it’s a blessing.   It makes me take a second to reflect on all the trouble.

The is a lack of direction again, an unclear path unfolds before.  In this period of time, leading up the eventual application season again, I feel by far only prepared for the process, not prepared for where the process may lead. I search names, I search places but all that comes back is memories of years ago when the process brought me down and crushed me.  This trouble persists in part because of this inability to put a finger on exactly what I want to be doing for the next five years.  Sure, I want to spend it in a school, pursuing a degree in psychology and technology but that’s as far as that goes. This fuzzy outline with no tangible or actionable itinerary drives me mad in the middle of the night because it stirs confusion within me. If I can’t even put into words what I want to do, then how I am supposed to find someone who is doing it?

Second, as mentioned before in previous posts, I feel this futility in what I do.  My motivations, though initially pure are becoming clouded by a distinct lack of self-efficacy about the world I am about to enter.  Even with everything I am doing, I feel that it is all too little too late and that ultimately I will be passed up for someone much more capable than myself.  It’s hard because people believe in me but in my experience, this belief seems to not persist into action.  I want to make people proud but there is a fear that I will continue to come up short. I keep pushing, hoping that I will bring myself to the level  warranted by their belief, hoping to guide the way and show people that it was worth the effort, but I don’t know, I have to convince a room of strangers that I am worth investing in and the excuse of, well if you only got to know him really doesn’t cut it.

Lastly, I feel this pressure from above and below.  It’s more of jealousy that turned my eyes green.  I see people doing so many cool things and despise myself for not coming up with it first. I feel like I just a child in this great research game, playing with toys and trying to show others how cool the land of make-believe can be while others putting in the work and the time to really push the world forward.  Maybe I’m old enough to finally put away childish things, but it feels like I’ve clung to this conception of what I want that I don’t realize that no one really cares about it. Like I’ve been living in the sky but it’s the ones down on earth who are sending people to the moon.

I want to stop this.

I will stop this. Stop looking out in the world and seeing what I am missing within. No one is perfect and being like this has done more harm than good.  What I really need it eyes up. Looking forward to the future I want, instead of at the ground commenting on how close I am to always falling.  So if you’ve seen me recently fade in and out of dreaming it’s because of this, these feelings that attempting to bore holes in my heart. This process is revealing and the only thing I can say thank you for showing me my demons because now I can learn to make friends with them.

In An Effort To Fly

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Generalities, I speak and write and think in generalities. I’ve always been much more of an idea and concept type person, never straying too far into the deep to remember the specific details of an event, so that when I miss a number or letter through my negligence or misinterpretation, the concept still holds true. My memory is strong, but I’ve never been one for the minutia of it all, just taking the important stuff and folding it into a database of obscure facts and stories to draw out when the proper situation arises. The problem is that my points aren’t as poignant without these details.  Like the idea that technology is everywhere; if I say that, it’s not really all that hard hitting, but I was to say that the number of smart devices outnumbers humans 2 to 1 and that the year 2020 its projected that number of devices will climb to well over thirty billion. There is more of a sense a sense of something tangible, it’s real to us when the details are given.  It’s complicated. It’s not like I don’t want to remember but it’s like my mind doesn’t want to, it’s never been geared to.  Where was all of this when I was growing up in school.  Why couldn’t they teach me early, or perhaps it’s my fault for not learning. Unfortunately, my chosen profession deals much more with the details as details are everything, and if you can’t remember them, then you won’t make it.

It’s one of those things that makes me wonder if I’m really cut out for all of this.  Try as I might I can’t shake this feeling that I won’t fly when it comes time.  That I might come home empty-handed again, beaten and bruised with no end in sight. What will I do when my wings won’t work for any amount of trying. Again and again, I move them, but if the wind doesn’t’ take me, perhaps all I was made for was the fall. I’m supposed to jump, but with each passing year, I see my ability to do so as diminishing.  It worries me, that all this work will be like ash in my hands toward my dreams, crumbling away to nothing.  My dream could be out of reach, should I just settle and hope for a good life. Will I never be good enough to walk among giants and great men?

These thoughts percolate within me.  I see the gaps in my ability and hope that I can overcome them with effort. I hope my arms are long enough to be able to reach, my legs sturdy enough to carry me, and back large enough to shoulder the burden I place upon myself.

The fear arises, that perhaps when I’m gone there will be nothing left. That I’m just a footnote in someone else’s story. That I will fade into obscurity as a ghost on the wind, felt when around but quickly forgotten.  If I fade from memory, just as one would fade from view, perhaps I am no one, to begin with.  I know that sound’s a bit dramatic, but if no one was around to know you existed, does it mean that you exist in the first place. I feel like exploding, imploding, and fading from view. The only thing keeping me grounded is the mad hope that maybe, just maybe I can actually pull this off. Trick everyone into believing I’m someone worthwhile. Thinking that maybe I could be someone great, and change the world.

I want to fly so bad it keeps me up at night. I practice, work to do so, consumed by my dream and consuming it. Like an ouroboros, it sustains me and will continue to do so until there is nothing of me left.  I will show them resolve, and ferocity like no other. Pushing myself as far as I can go so if I’m not known not as one of those greats I’ll at least be known as a man with the drive and will to pursue something he loved with all of his being until the end because after all, I’m only human and that’s what humans do.

Recording Of Blog Entry

In The Gray City

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Here I am, in the city I was born and raised in,  reflecting on how I feel about this place. I’ve never been one to get overly nostalgic about places and things in my past.  Spaces and the people who inhabit them change, legacies are born, grow and die within them. It might be caused by my the mercurial living arrangement but it’s my home though.. I think I’m going to miss it when it comes time to finally leave it.

This city, Los Angeles, is categorized by many things, it’s identity composed of many different synchronous parts that ebb and flow on any given day.  The identity of which is the amalgamation of all of these parts creating a look and feel beyond just these seemingly clashing identities. Like many major cities, Los Angeles has a distinct feel to it. Sure things change rapidly here because the influx of migrants trying to find their own California Gold but even then, Los Angeles remains itself through all of these changes.

From movies to music, art to history, Los Angeles has many things both visable and invisible.   It’s interesting though, because of how Los Angeles is, were all together and separate at the same time. Driving place to place, seeing things and people pass as of the wheels in the cars turn.  People are always going somewhere, even if the destination isn’t quite yet known.

To me this city is gray, the colors of the cityscape and the people who dwell in it are gray.  This city is marked and marred by the overwhelming cascades of concrete highlighting the functionality of a city built in the twentith century.  It’s a place that has far outgrown it’s intended capacity but continually changes to meet it.  The tendrils of this expansive city stretch out hundreds of blocks in either direction highlighting how different each little section of this whole city can be.  The people all relate mixing a matching to one another, coloring light and dark to make a color that appears at first to be boring but deep down it made up of some of the most exciting colors in the world.

It’s like this, I used to hate the skyline here, with its flat tops and square buildings never really adding a sense of character to the view. As time goes on, I can understand this functional beauty, this uniform madness that cast shadows over the streets during the hot summer days.  We all have systems in dealing with the oppressive heat, the dense traffic, and lack of parking.  Once you get used to it there is a sense that nothing really surprises you anymore. This wild and controlled place is constantly barraging you with things to do, people to see, but plays all these unique characteristics off as just another Saturday night, never making a big deal about anything.

This gray, cool gray, highlights it all.   This cruel and loving city, this exciting and boring place, you’re both beautiful and ugly to me which makes me love you.

No Sleep

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Normally I make a joke when people point out that I don’t sleep much anymore.  Saying things like “There ain’t no rest for the wicked” or “I can sleep when I’m dead” because it’s funny to me.  Truthfully, I do get enough sleep every night, around 5 to 6 hours during the week and 7 1/2 on the weekends.  What people are mostly commenting on is the fact I tend to work late night, but for me, it’s peaceful, a way to wind down the day and sometimes the only time I can really concentrate on anything.

But not this week.

This week has been different.  Nights have been restless with the apprehensions about my future and school. I spent them staring at a screen, pushing myself to finish what I said I need to after which I would go to shut my eyes, and all I get is the darkness but nothing else. No calm, no peace, just quiet darkness.

I don’t really know if it means I’m in a bad place or a good one.  It’s the romantic in me that sees this as the final barrier to really being able to say I’ve put my all into anything.  But it’s not fun, the cloud that persists over my head, my eyes that burn in the light, and I am unable to think or do anything productively. Maybe I’ll get used this change to 3 or 4 hours, this feeling of sleeplessness, perhaps these feeling will go away after I stick with it for long enough.  I don’t know, but even in my recovery I am still tired but must press on.

It’s week one, and if this is any indication of how the rest of this year goes I am in for a roller coaster. I tell myself that this is what my dream requires, this sacrifice of self that may take a lot but ultimately will give me what I’ve been envisioning since I began this journey back in high school. For me it’s a constant question, how much will I need to push myself to get what I want and a constant wonder of what more will it take from me before this is through.

Thinking about it, take is a strong word since I choose to do follow through with it. I choose to try and stay up for as long as possible.  I choose to try and squeeze the most out of my days. I choose to forgo going out when I have work, I choose to stay on campus those extra hours to get things done.  I choose, I choose, I choose, and maybe that’s my problem with it, it finally came a time where I no longer chose, my body just did, and I was left unable to stop this restive onslaught. I don’t know if it’s a battle I will need to fight in the future, but the moment I guess I’ll just take advantage of all the extra time not sleeping.

Soft and Hard

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To be straight with it, I’m not doing enough.  I’m not accomplishing enough, I’m not working enough, I simply not productive enough. I’m spending too much time thinking about the lack of time rather than using that time to make up the difference. Like blood flow to a muscle, we only grow stronger in what we practice and do, so as this fall peaks onto the horizon I will determine what exactly is needed, and where exactly I have been placing my time.

It’s like triage, which part of myself is in the most need of help. Which part of me is most likely to survive and thrive in this big wide world of ours.  I’m sitting here in this chair waiting for the answer to come.  My thoughts drift elsewhere, wanting some reprieve from this inglorious situation I find myself.

What do I cut first? Where is the fat in my life that takes up so much energy? Where are these thoughts that leed me astray and placate my desires with comfort instead of determination? How to I reduce without losing who I am, or maybe it’s who I am that’s the problem.

I feel it in my blood, flowing back and forth within me like conflicting bodies fighting over a contested birthright. My blood boils telling me that this fight is raging within me, between two parts of myself which for all intents and purposes are me.  Frustration mounts as my desires go unfulfilled, who should I back in this fight, who should win, is this the moment I decide my destiny?

Soft and Hard, that’s what it feels like to me, these two opposing ideologies that have served me in life now must battle for me to carry forward. Soft, the relaxed emotional person from my youth.  The softness reduced the blow of a childhood that was known to throw a punch or two.  Introspective, but understanding, it is the part of me clings to comfort when times are bad but endures as long as it’s needed. The hard, an emerging self built from frustrations of the past from not getting as far as I needed.  It’s the part that pursues, acts, and pushes forward regardless of what other people thing.  It feeds on frustration, anguish, and an insatiable need to do more.

We are what we feed into, so we have control what grows within us. So in choosing, its easy to say I need to put away that part of myself, this side part of me full of missed opportunities from lack of action that bog it down because soft is smooth and comforting. I can’t be that way anymore, not now when the wake of my future beckons me to come. I have to act, grasp at the opportunity to move and to exist in this place I’ve wanted to. So hard, a place I can build a foundation upon must will sustain me, until I need that soft part of me once again.

Beyond The Sort

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A tall building on a warm evening. A slight breeze blowing in the northwestern direction picking up the heat emanating off the hot concrete from the earlier that sun-scarred day. It’s warm enough for sweat beads to form on the body but cool enough not to be bothersome.  The last lights of the sun have already dissipated leaving only the artificial lamps of the living to illuminate the blackened streets below. There on top of that building we stand alone on the precipice, waiting for the answer, will we float or sink. It is as if we are to walk along the edge and be judged. Judged by a force that does not know context or form will decide. Where then does our destiny lie, and will we ever know unless we open ourselves to falling. Will it decide right or left, one will lead to death and the other release.  There we walk, teetering on that edge, hoping it’s not already too late.

Almost every student looking to attend graduate school have to take a test. Its named  Graduate Record Examination or called more commonly as the GRE. This test is daunting to most because of its deceptively simple questions require students to brush up on skills and abilities that ultimately have nothing to do with the subject matter they are attempting to study. Of course, there are exceptions to this but ultimately this exam that is the great standardizer among students and although it may not get you into a program, it can certainly keep you out.  I bring up this exam, not for the exam,  I could devote pages to how much this test has cheated young scholars that I know out of opportunities, no today I want to highlight of because of the way this exam is scored.

You can refer to this test as a living test, it’s really amazing. You see, as you take the test, the difficulty of the test will adjust to you, you get one wrong, questions get easier, you get one right, the test gets harder.  What it’s doing is gauging your score by homing in on exactly where your proficiency level is.  The only problem with this is that the first couple questions ultimately become the most important ones.  These are the great sorting questions, get the first couple wrong and it is impossible to get a high score on the GRE.  First sort, top half or bottom, then exactly where in those halves you lie. The rest of the questions are there to accurately gauge your specific score and percentile.  This is done so that Math majors and English majors can take the same test and still get an accurate measurement of their ability when compared to everyone else in between.

Now while you take the test, you can bring your score up if those first couple questions just happened to be your weakness, but for some, the test is decided after a much shorter time. You might answer all the questions, but your score was determined only after the first few, your ability to fly cut short by the first few mistakes.  Of course exactly how your test is scored and exactly how long it took to score it is a company secret, you’ll never know how long it took for people to make those judgments. If you do bad, you have to start all over, pay out some more money and hope that next time will go better.

It’s really unfortunate not just because the test is terrible but a lot of the time this system mirrors the reality.  We are sorted in such a way where the first few mistakes ultimately set us back, mistakes that may have nothing to do with the path you are trying to follow control you. If you get the first couple answers wrong you get sorted, and sorted, and sorted until having to start over becomes the only option but at that point, you’ve put all your time and money to get there.  What does it take to bridge that gap, how do you become the one that rises to the top, the cream instead of the water? Do these barriers matter because at some point when we get mixed together you can’t really break cream from coffee.

I don’t argue that it’s a way to give those who show more potential more opportunity and the system works for some but it is also seeded in the belief that people don’t change and with that belief, great barriers arise to separate those cans from cannots.  This is not everywhere, there are great institutions whose message to the world is let us help you make a good life for yourself.  It is then I who has this problem, this desire of prestige reserved for the few who are sorted.  This inequality in my heart that calls to say that I am not worth the dirt on the ground if I can’t fly in the sky.  What are we then to this, the world tells us where the “important” people are and live. To the hill that rises live those who stand above us all who live below telling us only the few deserve the right to live there.

We stand on the precipice readying ourselves to be sorted by the force that knows not who were are or what we can do by a system built by those of who have just like us been sorted. We crawl upon each other hoping that we get high enough to reach and yet we crush all those below holding all the weight. We destroy and rid ourselves of anything weighing us down in hope fly but remove everything about ourselves that makes flying worthwhile. We are not then defined by this, we are defined by the actions and relations to our fellow man and I’d be damned if I will let this system built by the collective action of those who sort us to keep me changing the world.

Wait Weight? Don’t Tell Me!

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A friend’s post online sparked a thought, one about size, weight, and we feel about ourselves.

One of the things I am happy to see through social media is all the positive life progress people post online to keep themselves accountable. People are making their lives better and tracking every moment of it. These progressive pictures that propagate may be pesky to some people, but it always reminds me of being able to overcome adversity and the ability for us to turn our lives around, not through ease but through hard work and perseverance.

I used to count calories to see low I could go. Food was the enemy, and I was just a warrior in my battle against it.

I had always been heavy for my height, thankfully always getting taller to accommodate for all the extra calories.  By the time I entered high school I was already unhappy with myself, which was one part depression and two parts the unfortunate side effect from it.  I ate to make myself feel okay, thinking I needed that extra sandwich at lunch.  I was a new place, with new people, after an old place with old people, something needed to change.

I was in my second year, learning to love the hobby of running that the results gave me something more than I could imagine, confidence.  I was starting to feel comfortable in my own skin.  The problem was I didn’t really know what healthy was, I mean sure my cousins worked out but I was never really privy to what exactly they were doing.  So I stuck to my guns, decided to do all I could to reduce my weight.  I was adhering to a guideline set out for me by the BMI index and dropping weight as much as I could.

I think few things really affected me during this period. First is that I got down to the weight that I wanted to, finally for the first time in my recorded life I hit the standard weight category. Second, my sister constantly referred to me as manorexic because of this weight loss. Third, I felt like I was finally able to have control over my own body. Lastly, the way I was eating caused me to have dizzy spells in the middle of the day where my vision would act like I was in the ocean and start wiggling about. I wanted to keep going because it felt so good to lose but my body resisted and stopped.

That being said, the next year I gained some of the weight back (partially because I was happily in my first relationship) and I have been yoyo-ing ever since. In all the subsequent years after that, I have never had a normal BMI number. Now it’s not unobtainable for a long stretch, but the question is, what is it that I want.

Years after another set of up and down I decided that my fitness goal instead of a number I am shooting for a fitness level.  I want to be able to get up and go if my friends ask me to go on a spontaneous hike. I devoted myself not to look at the scale, as it is deceiving, never letting me get away from how others think my body should look and feel.

Now my goals have grown from there, and I feel like I am the most fit I have ever been in my life, not skinny in the conventional sense but have a lot more muscle than before.  I am happy because I can eat the occasional unhealthy meal knowing I mostly eat healthy things and keep active incredibly regularly.

I stepped on the scale recently, not by choice but I wasn’t worried about what it said.  I am 6’1″, 222 pounds, conventionally this weight would mean I was on the verge of obesity but I know that’s not true.  This is a weight of effort and work, muscle.  We’re not all the same, and there are better ways to check how well you’re doing but it is always possible to become healthy, our bodies want us to be.  In the end as long as your making progress, then that’s all that matters, you are lapping everyone on the couch and that’s something to be proud of.

I will occasionally get worried about the number of calories I eat or feel like I need to step up my game at the gym. The mirror truthfully never is anything other than a battle between me and my scarred self-image. Whats most important is that I’m healthy, so if you ever wanted to have me step on a scale I might reply “Wait weight? Don’t tell me!”

Untitled.

A writes got to write.

But these worse, they don’t come easy.
Like a separation of skin from spirit, my hesitation comes from within.

There is a pain I wish to feel, sorrow in my heart that would make me feel okay
Like all of which I have just gone through is not just me but something more.

How can you argue with yourself
When your body and mind fail, you and you are sitting at the keys wishing words to pour out, but none come.
I scared them away with this intensity, and I don’t know how to get them back.

I have to be here, to suffer through the ambient silence and allow myself to be consumed by its misery. Quietly be eaten away but the hands of time as the push me towards the end of days.

I am not great, nor am I good.  This separation of what others see and what I do confuses me.  How could they see something that I can’t, why won’t the way I see? I would be much easier for me.

I need to write because I am a writer. Without writing I feel this pain weigh heavy on my heart. So I will put words to a page to save myself from the nothing within.

The Eternal Calm

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Like the sitting shores of a forgotten beach lays waveless water calm and deep.   Its sands untouched, unmoved, unmanned stacks so high like a reaching hand. From atop the sandy hill, you can see the waters still. And with those waters without a wake, reflects the world we hope to make.  Sky is ground and ground is sky, maybe it’s how we learn to fly. Because out on the horizon where these two skies meet, lies the eternal calm of a waveless beach.

The storm has passed for now, and my body is telling me that I need to rest.  It’s in these time, right after the rain ceases to fall, that calm rolls over and we are allowed to sit and ponder before life resumes again. I have faced these fears of mine, fears of inadequacy and being an impostor.  My stress levels have dropped, and my body relaxes. Many of these things have subsided for the moment, though to be honest I probably am just in the eye of the hurricane, waiting for the water wall to hit again.

I feel this weird, eerie calm wash over me. My body lightens and heavies, recovering from the burden I have been putting it through. I am a bit flat affect, much quieter and introverted. This part of me comes out to restore and refresh. To remind me that I am human and though life will move on, that things will change and the only way to get through them is to take care of myself.

So that’s what I am doing this week, not thinking much, but thinking regularly. Not doing much but moving forward.  Not saying much but speaking volumes. Soon the world will become boisterous again with the tide of fall so I will enjoy the calm while I can. Today is for rest so tomorrow I can be strong again.

 

The Promise

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I bought a ring recently, seemingly out the blue but it had been something I was thinking about doing for a while now. In slipping it on my finger, it felt it right, felt like exactly what I needed. Now the ring is nothing fancy, just a black and red silicone band that fits my finger well enough. A simple ring that called to be worn, a finger bear and empty.  There is something I needed from this ring that I couldn’t get from a tattoo or some other symbols. With every morning, be it habit or choice, I could put on the ring and carry it around as a reminder to myself. A reminder I spend my life pursuing the things that matter to me, a life I choose above all other alternatives. Each time I put on the ring, I will choose to walk this path, a promise to myself that this path is a choice, and the path that I have chosen.

It’s easy to lose sight of the important things when the mounting stress and deadlines are sitting at my doorstep.  Over the past couple of weeks, it has been difficult starting a cycle of impending dread that would mount infinitely high until I felt like my head was ringing and a weight upon my chest.

These feeling pass though, as long as we let it and when everything clears it always comes with revelation.  Whether or not this is the, I want to be doing with my life.  It’s not the first time this has happened and these feelings never get any easier to feel, there is great humility in them.  When everything is stripped away things become clear and path before me adjusts to razor sharp focus.  I want this life, it’s a life I have been building up for years.  When everything is overwhelming, the motivation and feelings towards it feel bloated and stale.  It’s easy to lose sight of the goal or become jaded with the constant progress I need to make to achieve it. Sometimes we need that suffering to stay true to the path.

Above all things I have been thinking about life, and what life really is about.  Sure there are many aspects to it, roles to fill, things to do, and memories to have. But a lot of what it comes down to is the suffering we choose.  Take for instance parenting side effects include sleepless nights, undue stress, premature hair loss, loss of time, and loss of money and yet billions of people choose to do it.  If I went up to most parents I don’t think they would even think about it, the choose this life because suffering culminates to something more, something fulfilling.  We choose our sufferings because it brings us closer to the lives we want to live. I look at it and think about it, would it be better to be suffering from having lost my purpose, or grief of giving up on a dream? I would always much rather have sleepless nights and stressed filled hours pursuing something greater than myself than the problem of too much sleep and not enough to do.

Sometimes we need to be reminded that we choose from infinitely many possibilities, some being better than others and yet it’s us to suffer through.  I would much rather suffer for the things I love than suffer for the things I hate. I have a ring now, that fills my finger and reminds me of the choice I make every day to move towards my dream.