Experimental music, photography, and adventures

Archive for December, 2006

Festive Friday and milquetoast

Friday, December 15th, 2006

How many of you get “Casual Friday” at work? At my company, we don’t. However, the other company, which is in this same building and in fact is separated from us by only a half-wall, does. It’s also a bigger company than ours, so some two thirds of the people here get to dress in jeans or whatever they want, whereas we still have to dress nicely. The dress code here is not terribly formal — I usually wear slacks and a button-up shirt (no tie) or sometimes a polo shirt. But still, it would be nice to be able to wear jeans. We almost never have clients in the office, so I’m not sure why we can’t.

So, in lieu of “Casual Friday,” I have started a tradition I like to call “Festive Friday.” All this really means is that every Friday, I wear my “festive shirt.” The thing is, I really don’t do festive, and even if I did, the dress code wouldn’t permit it. So, my “festive shirt” is an off-white, silk, short-sleeved shirt, with an extraordinarily subtle pattern of palm trees on it.

We are talking uber subtle here. The palm trees are defined only by a slight variation in the texture of the fabric. It’s barely even noticeable now that the shirt has been washed numerous times. You have to look really close and even then you still might not see it. I may try to take a photo of it later, but I’m not sure it’ll even be clear enough to illustrate my point.

The funny thing about this is that even though my “festive shirt” isn’t really festive at all, I still walk around all day feeling subversively celebratory. I really feel I have successfully circumvented the lack of Casual Friday. I need to try coming up with other traditions like this to see if they are enough to slightly alter my mood.

In completely unrelated news, I keep seeing the (non-)word “milquetoast” on various Web sites. I swear I’ve seen it 10 times in the past week. I had no idea what that meant, and it’s not even really worth knowing, so I won’t link to a definition. It’s just one of those words that I hate. For a while, “blog” was one of those words for me. I eventually got used to it because it is a convenient, concise way of saying “weblog,” and everybody says it. I still have problems with “blogosphere.” But right now “milquetoast” is driving me insane. Google turns up an astouding 348,000 results for “milquetoast.” Well, 348,001 now, I guess. Damn it!

Quitting smoking is still hard after 3 months; nightmare

Wednesday, December 13th, 2006

I quit smoking a bit over 3 months ago. It’s been very difficult, but it got a little easier after a month and a half or two months. However, the past couple of weeks, it’s been getting harder again. I’m not really sure why, but I think it’s mostly stress-related. Stress about my immense debt due to student loans that only paid for two years at Northwestern — which in some cases I’ve forgotten about and never contacted to make a single payment until it’s been handed over to a collection agency.

Then there’s stress related to missing my grandparents; this holiday season is particularly hard because it’s the first one without either one of them, and the first one after I moved back to my hometown. I wish I’d moved back sooner, or they’d held on a little longer. I really could’ve used a year or two of seeing them weekly or more often. I’m also not good at dealing with grief; I deal with it for a while, set it aside in my mind, and wait for it to come up again (it always does). I doubt it’s the best way, but it’s the only thing I know how to do. Of course, there are other stresses, too, some other family-related stress and work stress.

Not only that, my main coping mechanism — riding my bike — has become damn near impossible lately due to the weather. I need to get out and do some road rides, because the trails aren’t in good shape right now, and I miss that outlet. I miss the exercise and the complete focus on what I’m doing. I miss the way the rest of the world seems to slip away, out of mind, leaving me feeling peaceful — even if only for a couple of hours. I miss the feeling of freedom I feel when the bike moves naturally beneath me and I float over the terrain and obstacles and around turns.

Last weekend, I cheated and smoked a cigarette. It tasted absolutely disgusting — but in all honesty, it felt great. I was extremely upset, and it was the only thing that could calm me down. I’m not making excuses, just being honest. I still shouldn’t have smoked that cigarette, and I wish that I hadn’t, but damn, it felt good.

Of course, the flipside of that is that not smoking has gotten harder since then. I crave cigarettes more often, and think about giving up, even though I won’t let myself do that. I can’t. The biggest reason not to give up is that I’d have to go through this all over again, and I just don’t know if I could do that.

I had a nightmare last night. I dreamt that I was at a summer camp, or something similar. There was a natural disaster, I don’t remember what, maybe a fire or a tornado. Most people got out safely. I was trying to help this girl in a wheelchair get to safety, but I couldn’t carry her. I felt like I should have been able to, she wasn’t terribly big, but I guess I was just too weak. Later on, they found her body, clutching a pair of origami cranes like I used to make as a kid. I’d make them as two cranes, joined together at the wing — hers was just like this. At the funeral, one of the other people there said “They found her with this,” and I explained, “I gave it to her. I wanted her to feel comfort as she took her last breath.” I placed it in her coffin, and it was over.

Six weird things about me

Monday, December 11th, 2006

I got tagged by Van to do the “six weird things about me” meme. Here’s what I’ve got, in no particular order.

  • My favorite animal is the moose. When my sister and I were kids, our parents took us to the Milwaukee Zoo. When we were done walking around, they asked if we wanted to go back and see anything, and I said I wanted to see the moose again, taking them completely off guard. This was followed by many years of impossible-to-find moose gifts (many of which, in hindsight, were actually reindeer).
  • I am conservative. That’s not that weird in theory, except that as an amateur musician and photographer, I’m in a very small minority. I’m not a typical Republican, though, leaning toward Libertarian. Let’s put it this way: in college, I worked for the conservative campus newspaper even though I had two tattoos and nine piercings at the time.
  • I grew up listening to classical music exclusively, and in high school, I dropped that and started listening to metal pretty much overnight. Since then, I’ve gotten into electronic, hip-hop, jazz, blues, folk, and even a little country music. I don’t listen to a lot of classical or metal music now.
  • I have both the distinction of having gone to Northwestern University and the stigma of having dropped out. That leads to some very interesting discussions.
  • Cheez-Its have long been an obsession of mine. I just love those cheesy snack crackers. In high school, a friend and I made an hour-long movie, Oliver & Lopez, in which Cheez-Its were prominently featured. Another friend and I started The Cheez-It Circle, which was supposed to be a Web ring dedicated to Cheez-Its. The Cheez-It Circle never took off, but Oliver & Lopez debuted in our school auditorium to a crowd of over 200 people. We still hope to release Oliver & Lopez on DVD someday.
  • I’m a pilgrim! I have at least 17 ancestors who came to America on the Mayflower. I know this because my grandparents were into genealogy, and they connected our family to numerous Pilgrims. I even have a certificate from the General Society of Mayflower Descendents saying that I’m a descendent of William White; the rest of them have not been proven (really this means that not enough paperwork/fees were filed). If you are related to one Pilgrim, that pretty much makes you related to a bunch of them.
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