Tuesday, April 30, 2013

voracious vertigo

lately i've been dealing with sporadic bouts of extreme vertigo followed by very uncomfortable panic attacks, which happen in a sort of feedback loop that make me feel basically like i'm dying. not fun! It's been going on for some time now, but getting worse and worse. I finally sat down and thought about it and realized that it began when i started using protopic for an annoying skin condition. upon actually reading the indications and possible side effects, i found that "dizziness and increased heart rate" listed among the more uncommon possibilities. looks like i'm uncommon.

anyway, once i realized this it became clear - i needed to quit using this stuff and improve my diet so that i won't need it in the first place. I've been meaning to try juice fasting for several years now and this seemed like the perfect time to take a few days off and do it. Even though i quit using protopic over a week ago, the side effects have not completely left me (although it's much less severe). I figured not eating for a few days would help my body purge the remaining medication from my system. ideally, one eats a raw vegan diet for the two days before and two days after a fast such as this, but i didn't have this luxury for my first two days. we'll see how that affects this process. I have the stuff now to close out this adventure with a few vegan meals, but not all of it will be raw. the three days in between will be all juice, tea and water.

I'm using the 3-day reboot plan from rebootwithjoe.com - this website used to be kind of broken and the sales pitch was pretty hard. you had to really use your web-fu to get the information you needed without paying for it. thankfully they've updated the site and now all of the free information is easily available. the paid services are still offered, but you don't feel quite so much like you're at a mall kiosk getting the old israeli hard sell tactics foisted on you.

this site definitely has the most useful and best organized information for juice fasting. their plans come in pdf form, with simple instructions and a shopping list. here's the obligatory before picture, with me looking overweight, unshaven and miserable:

1pm: day 1 starts with 2 cups of hot lemon ginger tea. I added a little honey because I'm a rebel. i'm looking forward to this experience. right now i'm pretty motivated and feel pretty good. i just hope i can make it through once food cravings start. I haven't practiced much (if any) self control over the past 10 years, and this might get kind of rough. this will also be the first time in 10 years that i voluntarily go more than 6 days without drinking a beer.

 245pm: i go orange with carrot apple lemon juice. i forgot to take a picture, but i'm sure i'll make this again. it's pretty good. no food craving so far. i think being home helps a lot since i tend to compulsively eat at work. i've always eaten when i was bored, even when i was a kid. this was never a problem until 9-5 sedentary bullshit began to take over my life.

 333pm: starting to feel a little wierd. not hungry yet, just odd. i think my body is trying to decide whether or not to punish me for this.

 340pm: i just realized that with my normal sleep/wake schedule, i should be consuming something every 1.5 hours according to this plan. I'm comforted by this rather tiny interval. I'm going for a walk now with my roomate's dog.

415pm: according to the plan i should drink some coconut water, but i don't have any so i go green with apple-cucumber-kale-parsley juice. i once again forget to take a picture. it just tastes like apple and cucumber as our juicer doesn't do a very good job with the parsley. i definitely prefer the spicier juices, but this one was big and filling. my roomate's taco bell smells really good, and i don't even like taco bell.

430pm: the trots!

545pm: green again, this time kale-spinach-apple-cucumber-celery-lemon. this is more like it! it's sour, savory, and kind of salty. my kind of juice. something left a bit of grit at the bottom of the juice. guess i should wash this stuff better beforehand. surprisingly, my cravings for food are so far minimal at best. i feel full and satisfied. it's probably a good thing that i'm basically alone without any of my usual eating triggers to deal with, and without having to watch anyone else eat delicious stuff.

610pm: trotsky!

615pm: false alarm. something in that last juice has made my tongue feel really wierd.

645pm: hunger. it is here. i should probably do something, such as my scheduled exercises.

745pm: red! i've been looking forward to this all day. apple-carrot-beet-ginger-beet green-spinach. this is like drinking infant blood, if that were something that would be really awesome. spicy and savory. i just wish there was more! still sandy at the bottom though. I'm starting to think it's the "washed" spinach i'm using.

the cut beet made a heart on the cutting board. a heart beet! awww

755pm: i'm still not "hungry" per se, but i definitely want some of my usual comfort foods. so far i think i can handle saying no.

758pm: had to help my roommate make a reese's chocolate shake. stop testing me damn it! THIS IS NOT THE TEMPTATION OF ST ANTHONY, IT IS A FUCKING JUICE FAST! LET UP A LITTLE!

i tried making a collage with the horse from dali's temptation holding a burrito and a shake, but it was making me hungry.

818pm: actually starting to deal with waves of hunger. might have to make an extra juice if i can't make it to 915.

915: had tea to tide me over. surprisingly it helped a lot. my gf is cooking a pizza of course. this will be difficult. next i'm having kale-cucumber-celery-apple-lime-ginger. pretty good, but surprisingly better with the lemon than with lime. i added the rest of the parsley for the hell of it.

938pm: still not really hungry, but i definitely want some pizza.

1038pm: found two tiny square pepperonis from my gfs pizza. my will broke and i ate them. they were delicious.

1045pm: for "dessert", we're supposed to go purple. i didn't notice that all of the purple recipes call for blueberries, which i bought frozen because they're like $5 a pint fresh.

i was not about to drop $20 on blueberries for this. mint and basil were also needed for a few of these recipes, but the $3-$4 bunches of each were so pathetic that i didn't bother.

i'm having sweet potato-pear-apple-blueberry. hopefully the blueberries have thawed enough to produce some juice. i'll be sure to leave some out so i'm ready tomorrow.

1046: berries frozen solid. substituting watermelon. this was good, but not so great. this is probably because sweet is not one of my favorite things. the recipe for this was also way, way off, as have been a couple of the others. i'd expect about 32 oz of juice per recipe, so i juiced everything but the watermelon and stopped at 32 oz. one of the recipes calls for 1/4 watermelon, which is probably about 64oz of juice by itself! i used less of just about everything for this one. definitely not my favorite - sweet and thick. i just hope it keeps me from waking up in the middle of the night starving.

lastly i'll have some tea and more water and hope this doesn't make me wet the bed.

1209am: getting ready for bed. had some cravings but they've subsided. I expected to feel really hungry and crappy by now, but i feel sated and awake. we'll see what happens tomorrow.


felt pretty good all yesterday and didn't want to jinx it by saying so. I didn't experience any of the typical panicky symptoms until the end of the night when i was trying to sleep. i always get really hot as soon as i close my eyes, so it's even more annoying when i feel like i'm having a mild heart attack and cant breathe very well.

also, what is it with the body triggering the itch response as you fall asleep? why does the body resist sleep in this way? WHAT THE FUCK IS WRONG WITH THE BODY?

i also discovered today that the shopping list on the reboot plan is way, way off. i have too much of some things and ran out of the others by the end of day 1. i guess the intent here is that you'll go shopping every day, which i'd be fine with if the only store that carries all this crap wasn't 4 miles away in 100 degree heat. this necessitates using a car for the shopping, which is something i try to avoid. I have to make a trip to the library anyway, so whatever. but i swear i'm not driving anywhere tomorrow.

115pm: lemon ginger tea again. i skipped the honey this time. i will not skip it again.

137pm: i'm preparing orange-beet-carrot juice for my orange breakfast. today i'll take some pictures of what this stuff looks like after it's been decimated by an electric motor.

this stuff tasted ok at first, but left a bitter, poisonous aftertaste that got worse as it lingered. it coated my tongue and made me feel naseous. i ate a piece of watermelon to help clear it out. guess i should have peeled the oranges - that's the only thing that could make such a vile taste. it would have been more cost effective (and easier) to just add carrot and beet juice to a glass of oj, or just squeeze the oranges into the carrot beet juice.

347pm: running errands completely screwed my 1.5 hr schedule. i got some coconut water since i figured it would be easier than making juice, but i think juice would be better.

coco water is great but it's not helping me feel less hungry. being at the grocery store is a terrible idea during this process. i wanted to eat everything in sight. hell, being anywhere except in my room makes me want to do that. even the kitchen is a tough place to be. i just have to stay occupied with other things like dealing with the bureaucracy of my insurance company. so far, day 2 sucks, but i don't feel as bad as i expected.

on insurance: a "free wellness visit/physical" in which the doctor didn't even touch me and sent me to get blood work instead just cost me $73.05. the insurance company could not explain with any sort of clarity why this is. after talking in circles with an associate and a supervisor for 20 minutes i did what any good drone does and gave up. the insurance industry, particularly when it comes to health insurance, is one of the biggest and most obvious rackets in the united states today. will these people be prosecuted for their blatant racketeering, not to mention the suffering they inflict on their fellow countrymen?

not a fucking chance.

437pm: going green again with kale-spinach-apple-cucumber-celery-lemon. this stuff is fucking disgusting. i'm starting to think that the bitter poison taste is me, not the juice. i used a whole lemon in this yesterday and it did not taste this awful. guess i'll peel it next time and see if there's a difference. this recipe made about 32 oz of juice. way too much for how bad it tastes right now.

504pm: choking down the rest of the last juice and hoping i don't vom. i'm officially starting to feel like shit. i think i'm going to lay down.

612: time to go red with apple-beet-ginger-green-carrot. no pictures. i want to die. well, not really. i just want a cheeseburger or something. definitely feeling like crap right about now.

637: just finished juicing and cleaning up. juicing is definitely faster than cooking and eating. one thing i did not expect, and that no one has ever mentioned in any of the research i've done regarding juice fasting, is that on day two, everything tastes like shit. the juice i just had was by far my favorite from yesterday, and today it just tasted like dirt. bitter, nasty dirt. i've also been washing everything really well and there is still a fine grit at the bottom of every juice, leading me to begin dumping the last sip instead of drinking it. my tongue feels like someone glued something to it, and this bitter taste just will not go away.

640: ugh.

815: green. disgusting.

941: laying around feeling awful. it's not really bad, i've had worse hangovers, but i just have no motivation to do anything at all. i'm not really hungry, not really craving anything, but those things are in the back of my mind. i'm sick of the way tv shows start out interesting but then get ruined with romance and conflict. why does everyone like this shit so much? why can't a show just be interesting, and leave it at that?

943: we're supposed to have something purple or orange. the purple recipes all look incredibly vile. hopefully carrot apple ginger won't taste as nasty as everything else today.

956: not terrible, but not as good as it was on day one. at least i didn't feel like i was drinking poison. i also realized that i didn't weigh myself on day one. not a big deal since i'm not doing this for weight loss, but for posterity's sake we'll mention that i've been steady between 185-190 for quite some time now. i don't expect to drop below that permanently until i can start walking more. i've considered the treadmill, as lame as it seems. as much as i enjoy walking to work and back, i just can't do the 100 degree shuffle this summer. the food cravings are much, much easier to resist at the moment, i guess due to the fact that i'm actually taking in nutrients rather than delicious empty macronutrient calories. i haven't had the familiar spike/drop in blood sugar that causes me to shake and go for the nearest thing - flamin hot cheetos, mcdonalds, whatever. i want them, but it's been much easier to say no than i thought it would be. adding juicing to my daily routine should help a lot with this, but it's really more a matter of time than anything else. i don't eat bad food just because i like it, i usually wind up eating it because i don't have time for anything else. i'm always on the fucking road or rushing back to my desk from a break or running some ridiculous errand. this, more than anything, contributes to my poor diet. i'm a step ahead of most because i actually like healthy food. the problem is finding the time and money to eat it.

1157pm: feeling a lot less awful. symptoms that i described from the medication seem to be almost gone. i've gotten a few flashes of anxiety and dizziness but my heart rate has stayed in check. i mostly just want a burger or something. i'm having the end of the day tea now and hope that i'll be able to sleep with this feeling of mild hunger. usually it keeps me up but i'm over halfway there now and can't quit. the skin symptoms i was using the stuff for in the first place (dryness and itching) are there, but not as bad as it used to be. my skin looks really dry in the morning but it lessens throughout the day. i don't expect three days of juice to take care of that but i hope that it helps to begin the process. i'm really hoping that by this time next week the side effects from the medicine will just be a crappy memory.


221pm: i was wide awake last night since i had been laying in bed all day. The plan recommends stopping all non prescription medication before and during the fast, but i'd rather sleep than lay awake all night feeling crappy and hungry.i had to take a ton of pills to get to sleep.  as a result i slept much later than i intended. i don't feel as crappy, and my tongue doesn't feel mossy anymore. we'll see if that returns when i have juice after this lemon ginger tea. I weighed myself out of curiosity and found that as of 2pm im at 172. that was pretty shocking - that means that i lost between 8-18 pounds in two days, given room for the +/-5 that i'm always fluctuating between anyway. I don't think i look any different, but we'll see with the after photo tomorrow and a final weigh in.

i also had some mild symptoms last night when trying to sleep. my heart rate was normal, but it was beating so hard i could hear it in my ears. breathing felt odd. i attribute this more to the 6 hylands calms forte, 6 hylands insomnia and 3 melatonin i had to take in order to sleep than to side effects from the protopic. my skin looks better than it did yesterday morning, but is still dry in patches.

245: having a lot of trouble focusing. i'm going to make carrot apple lemon juice and hope it doesn't make me want to barf.

301: it was actually really good. I used a lime instead of a lemon and i was sure to fully peel it this time.

330: i started to feel cold and shaky so i had my next serving of swill early. coconut water tastes much better today.

411pm: green. kale-spinach-apple-cucumber-celery-lemon. not great, but tolerable. i completely peeled the lemon and made sure to use less cucumber than is recommended. my tongue finally feels normal! thank god.

431: i got to thinking about how inaccurate the shopping list and parts of the recipes are, so i'll share my findings below.

shopping list on 3 day reboot pdf, with my notes next to each ingredient:

1 bunch basil (too expensive for such a small amount, i skipped this)
1 bunch mint (same as above)
1 bunch parsley (centrifugal ejection juicers like mine don't make much juice from parsley. it comes out looking much like it went in, and doesn't change the flavor of the juice. I'd skip this next time.)
1 gingeroot (i like ginger, so probably wound up using 3 1"x1" pieces per day.)
cinnamon for your pantry (no idea why they describe it as "for your pantry". it's only used in one recipe, which i didn't like. no need to buy this.)

12 apples, green or other (it's tough to buy a dozen apples. they come by the pound for too much money, or in bags of 8 or 9 for about $4. i will wind up using about 18 small apples by the time i'm finished. go for bags of small apples - the big ones make too much juice and aren't worth the money unless you're going to enjoy them on their own.)
3 oranges (I made one of the two recipes calling for oranges and was not impressed. I won't make it again, since as i mentioned you might as well just mix some bottled oj with fresh carrot and apple juice, or simply squeeze the oranges by hand for a cheaper, easier solution.)
3 lemons (again, this amount is purely fictional. you'll need at least 4, i think i'll have used 5 by the time this is done.)
2 limes (only one recipe calls for lime, and it uses basil. i could have skipped the limes altogether, but i like them. they're also going to be great for the jicama watermelon feta salad i'm planning for my first solid food meal tomorrow.)
2 peaches or pears (be sure to get hard, unripe pears. organic peaches were either too expensive or unavailable, and the pears i got were too soft and made kind of a puree. the recipe that used them was gross anyway. i'll skip these next time.)
1 small watermelon, or half a watermelon (i wound up getting a 2 pack of personal seedless watermelons from costco, only to find that two of the same melon would have been 1$ less at the grocer. that's how they get you! I actually only needed one personal watermelon for this whole deal, so 1/4 of a whole watermelon would have been more than enough.)
1 bunch of grapes (i haven't used these at all. also, grapes are sold by the pound in large bags - be careful with this as it's a total rip off. one of those bags costs about $7, so be sure to take some out and stuff them into another bag for the next sucker. no one ever eats a whole bag of grapes anyway. i think i got about $2 worth and the one recipe that calls for them calls for overpriced herbs so i'll just wind up eating them as a snack. i could have skipped these as well).
2 baskets of blueberries (fuck off! I'm comfortable, but not wealthy by any means. fresh, out of season berries are not something i'm willing to pay through the nose for. I got a giant bag of frozen blueberries from costco since i can use them for smoothies and they won't go bad. I didn't even wind up using the ones i thawed out. blueberries are nice, but not necessary to get through this.)

15 large carrots (this is way off. i got a 5lb bag of baby carrots so i wouldnt have to fuck around prepping them. I'll probably have used about 4lbs by the time i'm done, which is equivalent to far more than 15 carrots.)
1 bunch of kale/Australian Tuscan cabbage, or other green (this is also pure fantasy. the bulk of these recipes kall for kale (see what i did there?), and 1 bunch consists of 8-10 leaves. each kale recipe calls for 6-8 leaves, meaning you're using more than half a bunch at a time. make this three bunches and you'll be good to go.)
1 small bunch spinach (don't fuck around with bunched spinach. it's always covered in sand and soaking wet, it rots too quickly and it's a pain. i'll wind up using 2.5-3 half ounce boxes of washed salad spinach, shown below.)

4 cucumbers (jointhereboot.com's idea of a cucumber must be much smaller than the cucumbers i'm used to. each time i used a full sized cucumber, it made too much juice and killed the other flavors a bit. plus, cucumber is in all of the green juice recipes. considering that you drink 3 green juices a day, 4 is once again a completely oddball number to recommend. I bought extra cucumbers on day 2, having already bought a 3 pack of giant english cucumbers from costco. i realized that cutting that three pack into thirds would have given me 9 appropriate size cucumber pieces, plenty for all three days. if you're using the normal cucumbers you find at the store, cut them in half. that will make plenty of juice.)
1 bunch celery (surprisingly accurate! 1 bunch should last all three days with a little bit leftover.)
4 beets (i got a bunch of 4 small beets with tops. i got extra on day 2 since i liked the beet recipe from day 1 so much, but will probably use 5 beets at most for all three days. I'd definitely recommend getting smaller beets with the tops on, since they'll cost less than buying by the pound and the greens have plenty of that crazy red beet stuff in them.)
1 sweet potato (i got two for some reason, and the one recipe that calls for sweet potato sucked. i'll skip this completely next time, since they don't make much juice and don't really add any flavor.)

another note here, this time about refrigeration: every refrigerator i've had in san antonio has the strange ability to freeze veggies while leaving everything else alone. try to get everything into the crisper drawers or keep them at the front of the middle shelf. anytime i forget to do this, veggies like cucumbers, watermelon, tomato, and sometimes even carrots will be frozen solid. not great for juicing, and unfit for eating plain. it's one of the biggest challenges to eating fresh veggies here. i also have to keep my greens in special bags lest they instantly wilt when placed into the fridge.

I'm also curious as to the total cost of this adventure. i tossed my receipts, but looking back over the list, i'd estimate that i spent about $85 on the shopping list above. having gone through it and knowing now what i need and don't need, i could probably do this for around $55. doing it properly and making sure to have raw vegan meals for the 2 days preceding and following would probably bring it back up to about $75. seems like a lot, but not so bad considering the monetary and mental costs of feeling sick all the time. it's likely that i'll be able to add a juice to my daily routine without adding much to my overall weekly grocery budget, and entirely feasible that i could do a 3 day juice fast once a month. so far today i'm feeling pretty good, so if i could do days 1 and 2 on my days off, day 3 could be done at work if i find a few juice recipes that store well in the fridge over the course of the day.

529: i feel remarkably normal. no cravings, not really hungry, and my mind is working at it's normal state of spacy focus. guess i'll pick up the house a bit.

545: red. apple-beet-carrot-ginger-spinach. better than yesterday, but not as incredibly awesome as on day 1. maybe i need to use more ginger. i peeled the beet this time which reduced the bitterness, but it still tasted kind of like dirt. I can't figure out why it was so good on day 1, but now is just sort of meh. I think i'm going to be using a lot more cilantro and lime next time i do this. cilantro, lime, and ginger usually make veggie juice pretty tasty.

609pm: the cat will not leave me alone. every time i get up he just stands by his food and looks at me.

636: reading weirdcraft issue 3 which can be found here. i feel kind of wierd and vaguely dizzy at times. not nearly as bad as last week, but i'm starting to think that this is related to something other than protopic, which exacerbated it. it could be from taking melatonin every day for a few years. the lame thing is, being able to sleep without it and stay within my designated work and life schedule will require some really difficult changes and a lot of sleepless nights. my sleep cycle is a topic for another day though.

715: green. celery-apple-ginger-lemon-cucumber-kale. peeling the citrus is definitely a must. this still was not very good, but it was tolerable. i'm looking forward to eating regular food tomorrow, but i'm surprised at the vagueness of my cravings. the first things that come to mind are cheeseburgers, chinese food and pizza, although when i think about it, i don't really want any of those things. i'm going to make a watermelon jicama salad, i know that much. probably some russian beet salad with the leftover beets and some potato mushroom saute. I'll probably be out and about so it's anyone's guess what i'll wind up having to eat.

837: roomate returns home with mcdonalds. the thought of eating it is not a pleasant one, but my body is starting to rebel and try to get me to eat. i really can't wait til tomorrow. my mind is reeling with attempts to rationalize breaking the fast tonight rather than tomorrow.

844: orange-carrot-apple-ginger-lemon. i'm going crazy and combining two recipes. what a hoot. this was actually really good. i substituted lime for lemon. slightly less hungry now, but with the end in sight, this tortoise might be stopping off before the finish line for a snack. my body just might win this one.

910: in an effort to stop thinking about delicious food i bend the rules a little and have some camaronazo. hey, it's juice, right?

in case you don't have this fine beverage in your region, it's a tomato shrimp cocktail. it's the shrimpy cousin of the clam version, clamato. both are delicious, especially with beer or vodka.

sadly, no images of people partying on the beach with clamato. but the above recipe looks tasty - i never thought of putting maggi seasoning in a michelada. it might be the most tasty thing ever. sadly, most people i know don't understand the beauty of a salty, tomatoey seafood beverage. this is the look i usually get when i talk about it:

(she's holding a bud light/clamato michelada)

1052pm: at 945 i should have had some tea, so i'm going to have it now. I'm made up my mind to eat something after midnight. i know - it's a pathetic rationalization, but at midnight day three is officially over. I made some beet salad and I'll probably have a sandwich. nothing too extravagant, but it's going to be fucking awesome.

1141pm: day three was by far the worst as far as hunger goes. I'm cooking now so i can eat right at midnight. it's possible that an extra juice could have helped, but in the future i'll be planning to up the juice intake on day 3 by two or three juices. i've been hungry all day and i'm fucking starving right now. i weighed in at 176 today, so i effectively dropped 10 pounds in two days. i don't really look or feel different as far as my physique, and keeping the weight off will require a permanent change in diet and more walking. this experiment has definitely given me the motivation to do both.

12am: dinner! thank god its over.

now for the after shot where i'm tanned, airbrushed, and juiced up for the photo shoot.

ok not really.


Wednesday, May 30, 2012

standard deviation

peter bebergal tells a compelling story of what its like when the visions are unbearable. he tells a story i've seen play out in my own friends' lives and, ultimately, deaths. he tells a story i'll never understand, because i was able to bear the things that life and drugs brought me, and came out stronger in the end. he said so many things that make me so sad, because i know, that but for the grace of god, there go I.

i just witnessed a nightmare. a crazed dream of a growth based petro-civilization in which people can drive unimaginable distances to live in large houses for very little money, comparatively to regions near other people, by way of burning large amounts of refined oil in order to make it there and back every day. because god knows, no one would want to live in this place if they were unable to leave. there was no food or water for miles around, and because the owner of the house had no strapping son in law to reign in the surrounding vegetation, the house looked like it had been dropped in the middle of a burgeoning savannah. it had, really, because this particular bit of suburbia was so much worse than the one i type from now. it was in a place so remote that normal folk from the more common suburbs were completely unable to find it save for the direction of someone who lived there. this is one of the places that will become such a bizarre example of industrial growth based civilization: a suburb in the middle of the desert. there was nothing for miles around and then suddenly we were set upon by streetlights and sidewalks, and two story houses set so close to one another as to stifle you even further in the heat of the humid central texas night. an implacable tribute to the housing bubble, i couldnt believe that there were no foreclosures evident in its midst. "how could anyone bring themselves to live here?" i kept saying to my friends. when i met the inhabitants, i was able to conceal my dismay, and only asked vague questions about the location. only someone who was completely blind to the peak of our civilisational curve, those who were not in denial, but totally ignorant of the collapse happening all around them. the closest food source being a shell gas station, conveniently located next to an even larger, redundant shell gas station containing a church's chicken only a city block away in a place where the city was the furthest thing from the imagination. it was here that i fully realized the extent of the ignorance of our culture to the realities of petrocollapse and economic stagnation. it was pretty astounding. its so easy to dismiss the total ignorance of the people in your culture until you're face to face with it. all along the neatly curbed suburban streets were weeds so tall they looked like trees, and the scorpions flitted in and out of the shadows of the "lawn" in my friends' backyard, which held thistle as high as I and weeds i didnt recognize flourishing far better than the lawnmower-less single mother who lived there, suffering from liver disease as her children resided with her and smoked pot thoughtless of the fact that the place they lay was a vast savannah being slowly reclaimed by a merciless earth ready to take back what had been so exactingly cut away by developers promising green lawns and a happier life.

i also listened to stories told by a man who, as said in the episode, was just as bad as i, there but for the grace of god. we lived through so many of the same stories but came out so differently, he scarred and nigh schizophrenic, having entered the vulnerable state of ego-melt acid-opolis in the wrong place, at the wrong time, with the wrong people (but at the same time, what an incredible experience it was! i could feel his ecstasy as he described it, only as someone who has taken lsd can). i always wonder at how i was able to come through the perils of drug addiction, both physical and mental; as he describes, just searching for the next "peak experience", not necessarily an actual altered state, but something which was different from everyday conciousness. i wandered through most of my adolescent life and mid 20s searching desperately for something, not really knowing what it was, but knowing that i wasnt going to find it by staying sober. by a freak chance of luck, or perhaps by the guidance of the deities that had become apparent to me, i shook away the things that were destructive even as i watched, and continue to watch, those things destroy my best friends, family, and peers. how, but for the grace of the god i was so luckily introduced to in the throes of prayer, and of psychedelic ecstasy, and of blind fate, could i have survived and almost thrived, when so many of my friends have met grisly fates, or worse, continue down aimless paths of dalliance and addiction? i never had an allergic reaction to a drug, as olga described, nor did i feel a need to control every aspect of my experiences. on the contrary, i reveled in the ecstatic states i discovered, and even now, in my more mature and experienced conciousness, value the total dissolution of my ego in the form of the blissful acceptance of death during an ecstatic state, more than the security and love of the people who care about me. i have never been so happy as the times that i have seen the end of my life and accepted it happily as the obvious continuance of an infinite existence; while at the same time, others who achieve the same state perceive it as a doomsday clock and fall into a paranoid fear state where everything produces terror.

everyday, i live with the things i have seen while in altered states, both with and without psychedelic substances. they have become a part of me and the way i view the world. i see auras and make wierd connections about events, though not to the point of circular fear paranoia. i accept the glows and events as they come, and i am a better person because of my perceptions. i look up at the sky and see flying lights and streaming colors, and yet i am unafraid, and not under the influence of any drug; although i hear other people complain of this as a side effect of their usage, and wonder why it is that now that they see all that they wanted to; that they want it to just go away. i am clearly aware of the interconnectedness of our existence, so much so that for a long time it was hard for me to eat, or watch people eat, because all i could see was organisms consuming to survive. it disturbed me, as it does so many people, to realize how much we are just like the animals all around us, fighting for morsels and fucking like there's no tomorrow while we consider, no, KNOW ourselves to be something more.

the problems i face seem to come from the broad consensus of denial of what we are, the duality of a conscious animal seeking to deny its own limits until the consequences force us to face reality. the vast suburban savannah of a culture obsessed with itself; unable to see past its own reflection and spiraling closer to an end that it knows and dreads, yet seems to embrace through the arms of plausible deniability.

peter bebergal tells a compelling story of what its like when the visions are unbearable. he tells a story i've seen play out in my own friends' lives and, ultimately, deaths. he tells a story i'll never understand, because i was able to bear the things that life and drugs brought me, and came out stronger in the end. he said so many things that make me so sad, because i know, that but for the grace of god, there go I.

Friday, April 20, 2012

melancholy manatee

how do you make someone understand something that is so plain the grasslands see it coming? how can you make clear something that is as fundamental as staring clearly through crystal? apparently that crystal is a prism, and there is more than one way to look at a problem. what angle can you see this problem from in order to solve it? further, when the prism slowly rotates, casting light at different angles, how do you illuminate permanently the shadows that are revealed?

if i want something, i make it real first in my mind. i then put it to paper, and assess the obstacles in my way. i overcome them, one by one, until the conclusion is reached. at times, the end is only the beginning of another problem, which requires more thought and application of will until the solution is found. but there is always a careful, measured approach, which results in a certain predetermined resolution regardless of other inputs. the end result may be different from the one envisioned at the start, but the result is inevevitably the same: success. absolute victory. how can this be imparted to someone who doesnt know how to solve a problem?

this could be looked at as its own equation. in basic algebra, it would probably look something like:

solution=(problem)/((steps to resolution)*(temporal variables)^(effort))

it certainly wouldnt look like

solution=((nebulous ideas)+(meandering to other subjects)*(expectations of success based purely upon fleeting daydreams))

to be honest, i used to think that the latter formula would work for me. i thought, for example, however subconsciously, that by buying band shirts and going to concerts, that i would become a musician. i figured that if i had enough albums i could be a dj. what it took me 26 years to figure out is that just hoping for something on occasion would not make it a reality. you cant just dial down the heavens and order up the life you want. you have to realize at some point that you have no idea where to begin, and START THERE. if you can take a moment to realize that all the things you want that are obviously within your grasp are escaping you because you dont know how to achieve them, you have a good beginning.

at that point you have to come to terms with a few things. you have to realize, painfully, that all the time you have had up until now has been an unfortunate waste. if only you had figured out how to begin a little sooner, you wouldnt be having this conversation with yourself now. you would have had it long ago, an you'd be well on your way to being l337. you have to understand that the only thing that can save you now and make your hopes and dreams a reality is a clear and strategic effort to achieve them.

but now that you know all this, how do you tell someone who still hasnt figured it out? how can you tell them that their time and potential is being completely wasted while they dodder around with beginning even a single solitary idea?

i guess you just fucking cant. you just have to sit there and painfully watch as they waste their time just like you did and rely on outside inputs to change what they think is a variable but is actually a constant: themselves. it sucks, and it hurts, and theres nothing you can do about it as far as i can tell. let a metaphor know that it could stray from the idiom to become a pun and it probably will stay as a metaphor. you cant teach a duck to be an eagle just by telling it how to sharpen its beak.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

what winding ways wend where

for some reason, this year has been marred so far with constant flux. i'm currently dealing with uncertainty in my employment for the near future, compounded by events i set in motion months ago that have now passed beyond my control.

i'm taking a trip back east in the coming month, and i have three job opportunities to sort through in the next two weeks. i absolutely must have a decision made by the friday after next because i'm being forced to purchase liability insurance to continue to work at the place i'm at now, which is one of the reasons i'm looking elsewhere for income.

thats probably a good place to start. within the past two weeks i've found the perfect job, seen it for what it was and realized it was a perfect mess, and kicked myself every day for agreeing to this and not turning back and running the other way when i saw all the red flags. flag one: employer requires purchasing uniforms to work for them. not so bad on the surface, but if you stop to think about it, they probably got sick of buying uniforms for people who quit right away and decided to start making the staff buy their own. which brings me to red flag number two: people quit this job RIGHT AWAY. i personally witnessed, in my first week, two people quitting without notice, a steady stream of applicants for their positions, and heard the owner recounting stories of people constantly quitting after a few days of work. had i been in the right mindset during the interview, i would have thought that through and realized that i would probably quit too. there had to be a good reason no one stayed. all i could think about however was the shitty job situation i was in that i couldnt stand the thought of going back to. i thought, "hey, i've worked practically all my life for egomaniacal, scatterbrained, obsessive compulsive small business owners. i can handle this." this last one, however, has made me realize that i dont want to do that anymore. just because i can put up with these personality types and their horseshit doesnt mean i have to.

flag 3: during my interview, i discovered that new hires pay for training in the form of $50 taken out of each check up to the amount of $400, which upon working there for a year and giving notice before leaving would be refunded in full. this flew in one ear and out the other and i agreed to it before i really thought about the consequences. that was stupid. i've even talked on this very blog about the fact that you should never work somewhere that charges you for training or requires you to sign a contract to work there. how quickly we forget! continuing education and supplementary education in this industry are not only grossly overpriced, they are in my experience not worth the shit i step on walking home from work. it takes five minutes to show someone a technique, and they master it by repetition. the amount that employers and "educators" in this industry will charge for this five minutes is absolutely unbelievable and would make your rabbi's accountant excrete his yarmulke. the fourth and final flag was that employees at this place were required to buy their own liability insurance, which i unfortunately wasnt informed of until i had already quit my other job and started working for this person. so to sum up the financial toll of taking this job, we have:

~$75 for a specific type of embroidered uniform
$25 a week for "training" which i would only get back by sacrificing a year of my life for this company
$188 to be covered by the owners liability insurance or $250 to purchase a portable policy of my own
(this doesnt take into account another cleverly hidden red flag, that all employees must contribute 10% of their tips for "supplies". maddening! also consider that we never actually see our tips, they go into a box to be counted up (by our owner, without our supervision) and added to our checks. so who knows how much i made in tips this week? i sure as hell dont!)

which adds up to $263 at the bare minimum for uniforms and insurance, plus another $50 taken out of each check for 8 weeks. thats $263 - $663 just to start working there! if that had been on my application in plain terms, i would have walked out right then and gone back to my shitty job that i hated. no matter how much indignity i had to suffer while finding something else, it was not worth a net loss of that much money. couple that with with fact that after ~105 hours of backbreaking labor over a two week period that only netted me about $550, and i was downright pissed off when she expected me to plunk down half of that for insurance, not taking into account for a moment that i work so that i can pay my bills and live a comfortable and decent life, not to pay the hidden costs of working at some disorganized day spa. i couldnt believe it when she had the audacity to impugn my integrity during that conversation and and accuse me of trying to "avoid" the insurance issue hoping she would forget. worse yet, since she is a typical tyrannical small business owner, i couldnt get a word in edgewise during our conversation, and what would i fucking say anyway to someone who holds so much power over me except "ok yes maam"?

this week the OCD has really come out. it took my old boss and his family over 90 days to show me their true colors, with this woman it only took two weeks to see beneath the thin veneer of happiness and the glowing smile and behold someone who was impatient, disorganized, frustrated and sick of it all and didnt have the first clue how to fix it or where the problems were really coming from. if you insist on being so exacting in the methods you use to do things as minute as clean a floor or dust a picture then you should either do it yourself or painstakingly hire and train someone who you know will do it the way you want and pay them enough so that they stick around.

now, i can understand the need to keep a place clean, and i know that the bigger a place is, the more work it takes to get it done. but when my commissions plus tips average out to an hourly wage of about $5 an hour, i expect to be paid at least the federal minimum wage for my manual labor. the final red flag that should have sent me packing was when i came in on tuesday and learned that "you dont clock in to clean. everyone pitches in and we just get it done." i'm ill equipped to sue anyone, but this absolutely must be illegal. if you want illegal labor, hire an illegal immigrant, not someone who put a lot of time and money into getting a certification and a license that allows them to perform beauty services as well as clean toilets and mop floors. i have never been so frustrated trying to clean a place in my life. i feel like fucking cinderella at this place, always on my knees fucking scrubbing something and when i walk back by five minutes later its dirty again. when she notices this, she tells me she doesnt believe that i did it and that i have to do it again. there are pictures on the wall that i have cleaned four times in a 24 hour period. i had to reclean an outdoor area that she said i didnt clean the day before because there was stuff on it. well if i could control the fucking wind and tell it not to blow grass on your threshold then i would, but i fucking cant. whoops.

so now i have to continue to deal with things being up in the air, all the way up until i take a trip i probably cant afford and come back to not having enough money to get by. what a way to end the first quarter.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

venial variations

i think if i could wish for anything right now, it would be to be good at something i care about. sure, i'm great at some things. drinking a ton of beer at one sitting or sleeping late, for example. but the interests i've solidfied for myself such as art, music, programming, makeup, et al. i'm not very good at any of them. i find myself constantly questioning what i'm doing, where i'm going, and what i should do next. all my life i've wanted to be everything, and flitted from one thing to the next like a moth confused among candles scattered around like stars in the sky. ultimately this lack of focus has left me with shallow scratches into the things i love and no deep grooves to fall into. this year i have been trying to focus, and that is probably the hardest thing i've ever tried. time is flying by at accelerating rates and whenever i look back to check my progress i'm inevitably deflated by what i see. there are many great stories of people overcoming hardship and struggling to accomplish something and actually succeeding, but i've never come across a story of someone struggling to accomplish a bunch of things at once and making it happen.

as i meander through my morass of interests and try to get good at something, anything, im constantly distracted by something else. life for me so far has been one great anti-epiphany, a consistent mediocre stumble through situations and interests that has left me befuddled and stupefied and ultimately not very good at much of anything. when i try to do something to lift myself out of the quicksand i'm inevitably dropped into another mire.

take beauty school for example. a few years back i was working a SHIT job doing the WORST work with the most AWFUL people i could imagine. the hours sucked, the food sucked, everything just fucking was awful and i couldnt take it anymore. so i decided, "hey, fuck this. i'm not going to stand for this garbage any longer than i have to. i need to take a step up and walk the fuck out of this rat race once and for all." i knew i needed something quick because i wasnt going to last much longer in the state i was in. "beauty school only takes a year. i'll be able to look how i want and fuck all to everyone else. i could have hair, nails, wear makeup, act like a fag or a straight or whatever i want to do, and i'll be able to do it part time and make enough to get by. this is a great fucking idea!"

fast forward 4 years and i'm seriously considering abandoning the trade i worked so long to become a part of. beauty school was worse than a joke, as i've detailed here. the hair industry is fraught with the same narrow minded assholes that i had to deal with in every other field i've slaved away in. part time is not an option in this industry until you own your own shop or are taken care of by a sugar daddy. the beauty industry is so rough that most people drop out of it within the first two years (if they didnt drop out of beauty school to begin with), and i'm in serious danger of becoming part of that sad statistic. i like what i do, but i certainly dont love the way its done. to learn anything in this industry you have to put everything you have behind it financially and chronologically. skill and clientele take time, time that i dont feel like i have. the idea was to do this while i put myself through school to become a programmer so that i wouldnt be miserable through four or five years of college, waiting every day through every class thinking "when will this finally be over? when will i be FREE?"

what i've come to realize is that cosmetology will not set me free. working as a programmer will not set me free. in fact, becoming a programmer may drive me deep into debt to some overpriced institution, and debt is the modern form of slavery. freedom to me is doing what i enjoy to make a living, and having the time to pursue things that dont earn me money. freedom is being good at the things i love. the things i've done so far that i thought would bring me closer to this goal have in fact slowed or even halted progress in the areas that make me happy. i made more music working fast food than i do working beauty. i did more coding doing construction than i do working beauty. i did more makeup, looked more fabulous, dressed better, felt better and was more inspired before i put myself down this current path.

being a slave to someone else's idea of reality has only subjugated me further to the doldrums of the rat race. it doesnt seem to matter what i do to get myself closer to happiness, because as i age i only become more tuned in to the wavelength of everyone else's existence. the more i stick out the faster the hammer comes down to smash me back in.

i love drawing, but i havent drawn in years.
i love performing, but i dont have any skills worth showing to others.
i love coding, but i cant write a program.
i love makeup, but i'm terrible at it.
i love playing piano, but i cant play more than the c major scale.
i love playing bass, but i cant play anything more than a random convolution of scales i made up.
i love learning languages, but i only speak english.

there are so many things i love. and they all feel so out of reach. the minute i start to pursue any of them, something immediately stands in my way. i think that if i could go back and learn anything differently, it would be the skill of seeing something through to the end. i never learned how to single mindedly hammer away at something until it was thoroughly finished. i've never stuck with anything long enough to be really good at it. and every time i try, it either blows up in my face or sputters to a halt.

the stories go that after many trials, the hero succeeds and accomplishes his mission. but with so many missions, how can this hero ever hope to accomplish anything at all? add to that the fact that his missions are made secondary by the society in which he resides, where simply living with food in the pantry and a roof over his head requires 2/3 of his time devoted to slaving away in someone else's demented idea of an economic reality, and the other 1/3 is devoted to sleep and commuting?


there is simply not enough time in the average commoner's day to make enough money to get by, pursue the things he is interested in, become reasonably proficient at any of them, do the laundry, keep the living space clean, keep himself clean, keep his partner happy, keep good food in his belly, cavort with his friends and get a decent night's sleep. this is unsustainable and unhealthy. this cant go on indefinitely. this has to end.

i need to create my own reality. but i have no idea how or where to start.

Saturday, August 27, 2011

merciless mania

mania as it relates to daily life

i've come to realize that i'm a maniac. a friend of mine used to tell me all the time that i'm manic. as with most ugly truths, i chose to shrug it off and assume i was misunderstood. but as the days wear on and i observe my own behaviour objectively i've begun to see the truth behind her statement. i may not be manic on a daily basis, but i am definitely a rollercoaster. luckily i did not get the depressive side of this typical and unrecognized disorder. as i consider how many interests i have and how fast i swing between them, never really accomplishing anything and never really getting anywhere, i have to admit that mania is the most accurate way to describe my overall attitude. i'm obsessed with something for about two weeks to a month, at which point something will get in the way and slow me down. during this slowdown i'll question what i was doing in the first place, i'll become disappointed that it's not going anywhere as quickly as i would like and find myself forgetting almost completely about it as i obsess over something new. time ceases to have meaning. i'll research something for what feels like 20 minutes only to discover that hours have passed. i'll work on something for as little as a week and become disenchanted because progress is so slow. ultimately i've been working on so many things for so long that it feels hopeless, feels like i never get anywhere.

but the progress is undeniable. i'm in a better situation right now than i've ever been in before. for all my steps back i feel like i'm finally getting somewhere with my interests, my life here, and my destiny as it relates to this time and place. i dont hate my job, i finally have the confidence and foundation in both my career and my studies to really begin moving forward with the things i've decided to focus on.

i dread the idea that my nature will hold me back again, that i'll find myself wondering why i'm not getting anywhere with anything. but i can now look forward to shorter upward climbs. i can look forward to hope, and to actual conclusions. for the first time, there is a definite plan taking shape in my head. things arent nearly as vague as they used to be, and thats a really good feeling.

the long road to hair

its really no wonder that 80% or so of people who decide to get into the beauty industry drop out either while still in school or within the first two years of their career. this is a rough business. school teaches you nothing while claiming to teach you the basics. basics? as defined by who? to me the basics of this profession are much more vast than what is taught in school. the stuff i learned in school could have been taught in 90 days or less. the rest of my education could have been spent teaching the actual methods of succeeding in this business such as how to build a client base, how to market yourself, and how to make clients happy and keep them coming back.

there are many facts omitted at the beginning of beauty school. you go in with your head filled up with ideas about how you are going to do fashion shoots and plays and movie stars and shit. the sad fact is that you will be lucky, lucky, to earn minimum wage for the first two years of your career while you break your back over a shampoo bowl, shave screaming kid's heads, and deal with asshole customers and lazy coworkers, all while having no fucking idea what you are doing. i had never heard the phrase "fake it til you make it" until i started working in this industry. what about the $10,000+ dollars i spent on my education? any chance i could have learned at least some of what i needed to know for that price? nope, the ten grand is the fee to start faking it. if i had known at the beginning that i would be expected to build up a clientele and hock products on people with no training in promotion or sales, i may have reconsidered my career choice. i'm friendly and charismatic, but i'm not a salesman. i have no interest in selling myself or retail products which do basically the same thing every other retail product does.

however, today i realized something. i've been selling myself to employers ever since i started working. i play up my resume, inflate my job skills and experience to sound more knowledgeable and important than i may or may not really be, and do the HR double talk slingo dance better than the next asshole. so if my new boss is my client, selling myself to them should be no different, with one exception.

looking for a position with a company is totally different than looking for a spot in an individual's life. businesses have set protocols for obtaining employment. individuals do not. how do you apply for a job with a client? how do you figure out who your client is, where they are, how to approach them, how to close the deal, and how to get their coveted referrals? there are a ton of ideas out there as to how to do this. i'm about to start throwing shit at the wall, because i need to know what sticks.

i realized that just having something to offer isnt enough. just having knowledge and skills does not bring people into your business, whether it be a salon, a software company, a dildo store or whatever else. if i am to ultimately own my own time and business, which is my goal, i have to develop a portable set of tried and true practices which quickly and effectively build and retain clientele. this is going to be one of the most challenging things i've ever done. i'm very friendly and outgoing, but i've never been a promoter or salesman before. i may already be a competent hairstylist (fucking finally), but if no one knows who i am then how do i make money with my skills?

i finally got a job at an upscale salon that does great work. i'm being trained on how to do refined, added value services that can be charged at a higher price than the chop shops i worked at before. the atmosphere, staff, and clientele are much nicer than i'm used to, which is a great blessing. our salon is also team based and paid hourly, which is unusual for a small independent salon. i dont have to worry about starving and being evicted as i train and build clientele, and clients are freely swapped between stylists. there is no cutthroat catty bullshit going on here. the client and the product are the focus, whereas in a commission (or hrly plus "commission bonus") salon, clients and techniques tend to be guarded like the golden fucking fleece.

however, today i found out that one of the stylists there only makes .50 an hr more than i do. she's been there two years. the girl who told me this was using this as a reason to look elsewhere for employment, and the aforementioned stylist is currently looking for a second job. at first this gave me pause, and i began to reconsider my intent to stay at this salon for a while. but then i realized why she still gets paid what she does.

its not that her skills are lacking or that she's lazy. its that she isnt bringing in money! if my quarterly review came up and i got denied a raise, i would understand if my sales had not gone up. if you're leveled off at a certain rate, the salon cant afford to pay you more unless you're bringing in the kind of money that justifies it. the worst part is, she doesnt know this, and doesnt know how to fix it. i consider myself lucky to have realized these things early in my career. i plan on moving around a lot. i dont want to be stuck in the same salon for years on end building clientele and then be unable to leave because i'm afraid to start over. i'm going to learn how to build and grow a steady client base so that i'm fully booked no matter where i am. whether you're renting a chair, getting commission or riding the clock at great clips, you're never going to get anywhere if you dont figure out how to do this.

now i just have to wade through all the bullshit and find out what works.

degree or not degree?

i've been toying with the idea of finishing my BA in computer science. one of the myriad reasons i got into the beauty industry is so that i could have a trade that i would enjoy doing while i put myself through school. there is nothing worse than slogging through a (shitty) full time job and a full course load while racking up debt and being so desperate for it all to end that you will take anything and do anything just to make it stop. i wanted to be in a position to say no to service sector and labor jobs. to be able to say, "no, i dont need to do that to get by. i'll pass" is an incredibly freeing thing. to have something i can do to sustain myself while i muddle my way into my dreams is something i'm glad i worked for.

but with this freedom to say no comes the freedom to question the validity of a degree. i see higher education as it stands right now as a total fucking scam. from what i understand, it used to be that a degree showed that you had a well rounded knowledge base, possibly with some specialization, that would make you more valuable to society and ultimately to an employer. over the course of four years, you would become intimately acquainted with selected texts on various subjects. you would learn how to study, do research, write meaningful documents and solve problems. this would come at a high monetary cost, but it would be reasonable when consideration was taken of how well placed you would be in the job market after your education was complete.

as it stands now, higher education has become an outmoded, bloated, bureaucratic endeavor that treats students like meaningless piles of shit. every semester, students are required to purchase $500-$1000+ worth of textbooks, most of which will not be read even halfway through. they are told that they will be able to sell them back at the end of the semester, only to find out that the courses have changed texts and that they are now left with a very expensive, verbose, and uninteresting paperweight. counselors and advisors will happily help you sign up for classes that may not even be required for your degree, and you will find out in your sophomore year that the course catalog and degree requirements have changed, which means you are now in it for another semester or two at the very least. no one is grandfathered in, everyone has to suffer through the same arbitrary requirements for their particular degree. if you are considering a two year degree at a junior college, forget about it taking two years. if you stop to consider the fact that the recommended course load for two year completion requires 15-20 credit hours per semester, when the recommended max course load is 12 credit hours, it quickly becomes clear that your two year degree just turned into a 3 or 4 year undertaking. if you need to work for a living during this time, i would be very impressed if you could take on even 8 credit hours without your grades dropping and your life becoming a living hell. considering the fact that most US high school students need remedial english and math classes by the time they graduate and you just added more to your course load and your debt.

lets not forget that degree completion does not necessarily make you upwardly mobile in and of itself. how many of our college grads are coming out of school with no local jobs to look forward to?

things have changed and our education system is keeping up about as well as a ford windstar racing a ferrari. that said, i dont know if i'll be rushing off to sign up at my local university for a few semesters of meaningless torture. as it stands right now, it's better to bone up on core subjects at your own pace so you can test out of them and keep your money and your time. you need to develop good study habits to make it through college anyway, so why not pick up a textbook and see if you can do it on your own before you sign up for a course you're unprepared for?

image, societal expectations, wearing down of the individual, loss and regaining of confidence

another reason i thought the beauty industry would be a good fit for me is that i wouldnt be expected to change the way i look just to get some work. i could have my hair down, paint my nails, pierce my face, dress stylishly yet professionally, etc.

i've come to realize this is only partially true. in a client based business, you have to make your customers comfortable with you. so much of people's perception of you is based on your appearance. if my client base is middle aged upper crust women, then unless i'm already famous for what i do, i have to present myself in a way that doesnt make them uncomfortable. you cant walk into a typical salon looking like takashi or robert cromeans in a matrix trenchcoat and a guy fawkes beard and expect to build up a client base.

realizing this sent me into a bit of a funk. all these years i've been retooling the way i look during the day, putting on this fake fucking costume just to make a buck. since we spend most of our waking hours at work, my appearance has suffered. i look in the mirror and i dont see myself looking back. i dont even wear makeup on the weekend anymore and i'm so out of shape that i dont wear the sexy clothes i used to. i feel like the world keeps hammering me back in, and every time i pop back out i get knocked back into place. i wasnt even allowed to wear cosmetics at my fucking beauty school. i've never been to the point of giving up completely, but i realized that i had given up to some degree and i hated myself for it.

but even after all that, i realized that i'm slowly but surely getting there. i cant let societal expectations place artificial boundaries on me. once i take this career where it needs to go i'll be able to look the way i want, and i dont have to worry about being "young enough" to pull it off. as long as i look in the mirror after work and feel like its me looking back, i'll be happy. pretty soon i'll even be able to do that while i'm working. that is going to feel absolutely monumental. there are always going to be people who look at me and wonder what the fuck i'm doing. i'm open to answering questions based on curiosity. but i'm done explaining myself when people vomit up their confusion in the form of derogatory accusations.

"whatchoo paintcho nail fo?"

"go fuck yourself."

new way of living diet

after trying a low cal, low fat diet recommended by my lovely girlfriend and getting no results, i'm about to try out the primal lifestyle. i'm confident that this is going to change my appearance and my self confidence for the better, and i cant wait to see some results. i'll be posting my results here so i can look back in wonder.

another new beginning

hopefully by the time i write here again, progress will have been made and i'll be a happier person, mania and all.


Saturday, January 22, 2011

digital rape management

when i download music, i tend to do so legally. this is usually pretty easy considering that most of the stuff i listen to is available for free under a creative commons license and distributed through simple websites and hosting services.

but occasionally i stumble across a band i like that is actually selling its music. when this happens, i normally dont mind shelling out a few bucks for a digital ep. i like supporting musicians i dig. when this can be done through a netlabel or a simple hosting site like beatport or soundcloud, its pretty painless. but if its done through a huge conglomo such as amazon, itunes, or a shitty site like bandcamp, the enjoyment of the music and the happy feeling of supporting underground musicians is quickly overshadowed by the FUCKING LUNACY involved with downloading from these types of services.

yesterday i decided to spend about 25 bucks on 4 different eps from three different bands, all of which were hosted on one of the aforementioned sites. it is now over 24 hours later and despite the fact that i paid for the music, i still do not posess it. lets start at the beginning, shall we?

i start off by going to tundradub.bandcamp.com and attempting to download the black mass ep for five bucks. bandcamp uses paypal for its transactions, which is a huge mistake. not only is paypal notorious for stealing people's money, it is also incredibly annoying to use. i havent used paypal since the great ebay moving sale of 2006, and i've changed bank accounts several times since then. so when i try to pay for the album i get redirected about sixteen different times because paypal keeps trying to get me to log into my account to pay for this ep, instead of just allowing me to pay with the card i'm currently using. it expects me to give up all my new bank information as well as my phone number in order to "pay more securely", which would entail a bunch of typing, many redirects through "secure" connections and about 20 minutes of my time, all for a FIVE FUCKING DOLLAR PURCHASE. i finally manage to wade through all of that and bandcamp then gives me the slowest possible download speed after "preparing" my download for so long that i thought my browser had frozen. two hours and five hard earned dollars later i finally had my THREE SONG ep.

then i head over to amazon to get "the cold world melts" by soft metals. instead of just allowing me to pay for the goddamn thing and download it, amazon now expects me to download another ridiculous and useless program called "amazon mp3 downloader" so that i can "download songs straight into itunes and windows media player", which i absolutely DO NOT WANT TO DO because itunes is the most useless piece of music library software ever written, closely followed by windows media player. i want a zip folder to put on my desktop and i'll organize my own music folders thank you very much. so since i didnt want to download their stupid fucking program, i had to download the songs one at a time, requiring about 30 clicks of the mouse and 15 minutes of my time. then i had to manually download the cover art. another hour and five more hard earned dollars later i finally have the ep i wanted.

now, lets talk about why itunes sucks so fucking bad. not only is it one of the least user friendly products i have ever interacted with, it is slow as hell and suffers from the same problem all macintosh products have: you cant do what YOU want to do with it, only what THEY want you to do with it. once you get the music from itunes, you have to jump through all kinds of hoops to use the songs with any other program and you have to practically sacrifice an infant to some dark and obscure god to listen to them outside of itunes. there's also the fact that you have to have an itunes account to buy music from itunes. all of this is related somehow to their idea of digital rights management, more properly termed as digital restrictions management, ostensibly so that you cant share the shit with anyone else who wants to hear it. well, i didnt want an itunes account, so i used my girlfriends account and a gift card she had in order to download three eps: introducing: tense, another ep by tense that i forgot the name of, and an album by darktown strutters. i got through enough of itunes' bullshit so that i thought i had the three eps downloading. i kept getting the error message "the itunes store is unavailable. please try again later." then itunes promptly crashed. the next problem with itunes and with many appications these days is that there is a new version every week or so and if you're perfectly happy with the old version well thats too fucking bad because it just wont work anymore when you try to actually use it for something.

so tonight i waited for two hours for the new version to download and install so that i can start torturing myself again. after all this bullshit, it's no wonder people pirate the shit out of all forms of media. its not just because they dont want to pay for it, although that is a big reason, it's because there is so much bullshit involved in doing things the right way that it is just not worth 30 hours of my time and a bunch of my hard earned money for a couple five dollar eps. if i could have pirated these things, i would have by now. but i'm cursed by the fact that the bands i listen to tend to be so fucking obscure that no one is out there sharing their shit for free.

somebody bring steve jobs over here so i can pull his head out of his ass and replace it with molten iron while i enjoy his screams of pain. this is what i feel like when i use itunes, steve. like molten iron in my colon.