A conservatory of Ldotter blogs.

Saturday, February 12, 2005

Here it is. . .

. . .Saturday afternoon, and I've yet to do anything that could be remotely considered productive. In fact, I actually slept 'til noon today -- and I can't remember the last time that happened. And, I'm fairly certain that the last time I did sleep past noon, it was the result of a hangover. And, believe it or not, I can't remember the last time I had a hangover. Though, I'm pretty sure I can narrow it down to sometime last winter, when I ill-advisedly heard myself say, "Ah, what the hell. . ." when offered a taste of some moonshine that someone had brought to the local watering hole. And, I'm fairly sure it's not coincidental.

One reason for the lack of posting lately, aside from the mild writer's block, is that it's been a fairly eventful week. I've been busy working on a PowerPoint presentation final for school and getting the finishing touches done on the moving-in process. How I went about getting it done is a story unto itself, which I'll get around to later in this entry.

I also had a final in my office procedures class, which I didn't realize until the day I took the final. . .an hour before, actually. I'd been aware of the PowerPoint final for quite a while, and never really got around to working on it until this past weekend. That's because I was busy working on getting a final draft for my resume, in both long and short form, to hand in for credit. In my typical fashion, I'd busily worked it over the course of a couple of days, despite having had over eight weeks to work on it. If I were a Greek mythological figure, I would be Procrastes.

In any event, I went on to make a 98 on my procedures final, and a rather gratifying 100 on my PowerPoint final. I'd put a lot of thought into how I would do it while I was procrastinating about it, and decided to do a slideshow about the rise of the New Media and the decline of the Old Media. Title: "The Slow Death of the Legacy Media". I liked the final product, but, in a nod to my other neurosis -- perfectionism -- there are a lot of improvements I'd like to make. But, if I ever do manage to get it to the point where I'm satisfied, I hope to find a place to host it and place a download link here, for anyone who may be interested.

I took both finals yesterday, but the previous night was another story altogether. It actually began around 1:00 in the afternoon, after I got out of class. I came home and hurriedly set about putting things away and getting things cleaned up for some company I was expecting later in the evening.

I had an immense pile of dishes to wash which I had put off for a long time. Lest one get the impression that I live in a sty, I always rinse my dishes off well when I finish with them. I just like to get maximum use out of the storage space that is my kitchen sink. And, I only fill up one side of the sink before I break down and wash them. But, it's amazing how many pieces of sliverware, coffee cups, and bowls you can fit into one half of a kitchen sink. As a bachelor, I tend to plan my meals around how many dishes I'll end up having to wash at the end of the experience, and there's a delicate balance to be struck in weighing the epicurean benefits against the relative sink space displacement cost and how it will affect the dishwashing timetable. So, I eat a lot of sandwiches and ramen.

There were still several boxes of things that I never seem to have any use for, but can't bring myself to discard, which had to be put away. And, of course, there was the matter of coming up with space in which to put them. This was probably the most time-consuming element of the finishing touches, as it required transferring items from box to box, and room to room, and deciding which room would be the more sensible place to keep which boxes. Again, this is something that should have been done at least a couple of weeks ago, but I tend to do things much more efficiently right before they have to be done. Being up against the wall forces people like me to focus where I'm normally easily distracted.

Be that as it may, I did manage to get everything tucked away in somewhat logical groupings, and set about the process of vacuuming the floors -- yet again, something that needed to be done weeks ago. And, as a sign of my easy distraction, the reason I hadn't vacuumed before is that I kept forgetting to buy vacuum cleaner bags everytime I went to Wal-Mart. Although, I can't blame it solely on distraction. The truth is, I have a very passive-aggressive relationship with the Bissell. In fact, if you can imagine Michael Moore's relationship with his beard trimmer, you'll have a good handle on it.

But, I made it a point to stop and buy bags on my way home from class that day, came home and set about replacing the one that was in it, only to discover that it was almost empty. Turns out the vacuum was clogged, instead. So, I spent twenty minutes with a piece of wire hanger trying to dislodge whatever it was that was holding all that cat hair together so densely. After finally clearing the airway, and 45 minutes of vacuuming, the place was finally becoming presentable. A little furniture polish and some basic tidying up, and I was ready for my company, who would be calling around 7:00.

It wasn't actually a "date" in the usual sense of the word. It was actually more of an introduction. As anyone who has read my last few entries knows, I've been a victim of dating industry outsourcing for a while now. Well, one night about a week ago, while I was working on my presentation, a Yahoo instant message box from a young woman popped up by way of introduction. It seems she was going through some search results of local people and my profile came up, so she thought she'd say hello.

We chatted for a while, and had a few laughs, and agreed to chat again, which we did. After a couple of days, we exchanged digits and started talking on the phone. A few nights of that went by before we agreed to meet, just to see how we hit it off. We discussed what to do, and how where to meet for a couple of nights before finally settling on her meeting me and following me back to my place to watch a DVD of her choice. Unfortunately, Blockbuster was out of her choice, so we settled on "The Notebook," which we passed on in favor of "Old School," which I happened to have a copy of, and which she'd never seen.

So, we watched it and laughed for a while, and when it shut off, we chatted and got to know each other a little. We got along well enough, and enjoyed one another's company, but it wasn't long before we both knew the chemistry just wasn't there. There was the age difference, and just the basic personality differences to contend with, and the lack of an immediate spark made both seem insurmountable, even though we got along just fine as acquaintances go. We'll probably get to be pretty good friends over time, and just meet for a bite to eat upon stumbling into one another's neighborhood -- and maybe just hang out for a day every now and then. But, romance isn't in the offing.

In the end, I gave it a shot. And, at the very least, it gave me something to look forward to. Though we both agreed that there were no expectations, just having the prospect of meeting someone open to the possibility of dating was a welcome change. And, if nothing else, it resulted in a new friendship. And, it's one of the good ones -- where both parties know that it won't be progressing any further, and both parties are content with that fact. So, all isn't gloom and doom on the dating scene. And, my home is finally fit for hospitality. And, I aced my finals. And, I only have eight weeks of school left.

I'm almost there.

Monday, February 07, 2005

Writer's block. . .

. . .has been known to strike me for some pretty extended periods in my life. And, I've been told by more than one person that the only way to break out of it is to write, write, write. Well, since I'm starting to feel a little anxious, I thought I'd write about writer's block.

As most bloggers are writers, a good number of my readers may be able to sympathize -- at least those who have experienced it for extended lengths. I remember being in college hearing someone complain of writer's block because they were having a hard time getting started on a paper, I just wanted to strangle them. And, considering the fact that it was in Illinois, and I would eventually be spared the death penalty, if I had to do it all over again. . .

To someone who feels compelled to write -- and I do see it as a compulsion -- it is nothing short of demonic. You are the Randall "Tex" Cobb to the written word's Larry Holmes. Everyday is fifteen rounds of bludgeoning, after which, all you can say is, "I'll be back tomorrow."

Of course, it's all just matter of anxiety, to state the obvious. But, the frustrating part about it is that I know I'm capable if stringing together a few sentences without completely embarrassing myself, so I don't really have a reason to be anxious. Yet, there I am -- convinced that, if I continue any further with the paragraph I just started, I'll be ridiculed across the Internet. People will forward my blog entries to their friends with subject lines like, "FW: FW: FW: What absolutely SUCKS about blogs!" That Andrew Sullivan will beat a hasty path back to the blogosphere to introduce the "MFCB Award for pathetic attempts at passing oneself off as a writer."

A lot of what causes this is, as I recently told a friend, a slacker complex. It's a stifling presence that gnaws at the conscience like a hyena. She told me that Truman Capote referred to it as "free-floating anxiety". And, that sounds plenty apt to me. God knows I'm not going to quibble with Capote's choice of words as I'm struggling to come up with anything that reads less jarringly than the assembly instructions for a computer desk.

One longtime friend told me some years ago that the anxiety stems from a fear of success. I scoffed at the notion at first -- convinced it was the fear of rejection. But, given some thought, I think he may have a point. Because, while I don't get two tons of fan mail (obscure SNL reference) every week, I do get occasional compliments on my writing. And, they are deeply appreciated.

But, it always makes me a little self-conscious when I get mail like that. I read some of the things people write to me, and in my head, there's this little voice telling me, "Boy, wait'll they figure you out!" And, it seems to me that it's no stretch at all to think that it's that thought lingering in my head when I sit down to write the next entry. So, it follows that it's the sense of success that I get when people tell me they enjoy my writing that I'm running away from. The fear that I'm going to write something that I'll never be able to top -- and that it really won't be all that great.

Luckily, this isn't a constant, unremitting sense. Because, up until very recently, I've used the positive feedback as a reason to put more of myself into the craft. And, it is a wonderful feeling when you sense your confidence building as you write. At times, you hit a stride where you hate to stop writing. You want to find something else to write about -- anything. Just something to muse upon and wrap words around, please.

There aren't many feelings that can top that if you have a writerly inclination. It's the feeling that you're doing what you were put on the earth to do, and that you're somehow earning your keep within yourself, and that your thoughts are being put to some productive use, regardless of whether or not anyone recognizes it.

Thankfully, I don't have as much trouble with the old devil as I have in the past. The episodes seem more brief and less oppressive the past couple of years. It could be that I'm finally growing a little more comfortable in my own skin, which is essential. You can have all the talent in the world, but if you don't believe in your writing, the words don't come.

With any luck, this entry is another step toward more regular writing. I know it's not exactly the most riveting topic, so I appreciate those of you who indulge me as I make this slow, fitful return. Just bear with me a little longer and I'll be back in fighting trim.

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