Disappear here

It’s been quite a summer. I’ve moved across the country with my wife to start a PhD. I’ve quit my job. I’ve taken on a new identity- doctoral student. Progress.

Before I delve into the maelstrom of academics that is a doctoral program I decided to catch up on some pleasure reading. I wanted to remind myself that people do read for pleasure.  I read three books within the last 3 weeks:

The Catcher in the Rye– J.D. Salinger

Less than Zero– Bret Easton Ellis

Lunar Park– Bret Easton Ellis

If you know anything about the above books/authors then you know I am probably in a weird head-space right about now.

I picked the above books at near random- The Catcher in the Rye was given to me for free by a friend in Athens just before I moved, and I have the two Ellis novels as leftover Christmas gifts that I never read. Despite the lack of purpose in my choosing to read them they are all connected by a similar theme: Identity. In each of these books the main character is trying to identify himself. And, in all three, the main character is at some point of transition- either flunking out of school, returning home, or trying to transition into fatherhood.

The Catcher in the Rye and Less than Zero are the most similar. Being lost. Lonliness. Self isolation. It’s clear that, reading through these novels, Ellis has taken his cues from Salinger. Similar styles, stream of consciousness at times. Colloquial language. They both write in a way that draws you in. However, they both have a tendency to come off as entitled. Scenes of private prep schools, private liberal arts schools, excessive materialism, lack of value for relationships. Where Salinger is whiny, forever searching for some deeper meaning from a highschool dropout, Ellis is loquacious, often giving erroneous descriptions of a luxury car, household décor, names of people at parties.

Lunar Park, while tackling some similar themes, is different. It’s quite a strange novel, to say the least. I’m not even sure if it is a novel, or if it is a memoir, or some kind of horror filled yet hopeful wish.  Whatever label it should fit under is irrelevant as I’m sure the real purpose is to help Ellis work out his own inner demons (no pun intended) with his deceased father. It was a good novel to end the trio.

It’s poignant that my life, my identity, is also changing, is changed. In a way, I identify with all the characters here, I am these characters. Yet, I am not. In Less than Zero the antagonist, Clay, says all that matters “ . . . is I want to see the worst.” I don’t. Okay, I do, but that’s another blog post. Right now I want to see the best. I want to see the best in myself.

Where the characters of the aforementioned novels are filled with hopelessness, I am filled with hope. I am ready for this next stage of life. I am ready to achieve my best.

I appreciate all the readers who follow my blog. This was a heavy post, but a needed post. My writing may diminish in the coming months as much of my energy will go back into school. But I will be sure to post, I am trying to adhere to a once a month minimum, even if that once a month is just a photography post.

I hope you are achieving your best. If not, I hope you are on your way to it.

Thanks for the read.

-ASG

Do the anxiety (fixed version)

*quick apology: Sorry to anyone who experienced any errors the first time this went out. I was trying a new offline up loader and made a mistake.

Anxiety. It’s what I do.

To the people who know me this might not seem right. I don’t usually appear too anxious, apart from the fact that I talk pretty fast (but that’s also a relic of my childhood stutter) or sometimes I may seem busy. But those who know me really well know I can be a very anxious person.

I hid it well. Actually, I don’t really hide it at all- it’s similar to someone who gets overwhelmed and zones out. That’s how I deal with a lot of anxiety. I zone out. As an unintended side effect I appear to be cool.

There is a secret to doing anxiety well. That secret? Be anxious about things you can’t change. It’s perfect! By worrying about something you have no control over you will be perpetually worried, perpetually occupied. Plus, 99.9% of things in your life you have no control over anyway, so you never have to worry about running out of things to worry about. Also, shallow quick breathing does wonders for destroying any sense of calm. Try it! No, seriously, don’t.

I am in one an anxiety vortex as of late. I am stuck in a moment in time where I have huge changes coming (leaving my job, moving to start grad school again), any number of things to worry about, and essentially zero influence on any of it (at least at this moment). It’s the doldrums of anxiety – no movement in our out. Just sitting.

Sometimes I can simply recognize this happening. At that point I try to jump start myself out of it by visualizing things working out perfectly, by just focusing on doing something else that I can have control over (writing a blog works perfectly there), spending time with others, and meditation (that really works- it’s like Drain-o for your brain). But sometimes, despite my best efforts, my brain won’t listen. It’s like muscle memory movement, but instead of muscle it’s my neurons repeating the same paths over and over again. Or, sometimes I just don’t realize what is happening. Despite the familiar surroundings I just don’t recognize how much anxiety I am holding.

Then, like a curtain being thrown open, the anxiety is dissipated by an outside force. Usually different things can cause this, but a majority of the time it is music. Just a few simple notes and I am grounded. Add in a few deep breaths and it’s all good.

Today, I had one of those brain Drain-o moments where everything was un-clogged, and I was suddenly relaxed, okay with how things are going. So I will share it with you.

-ASG

Technology vs. memories

“Remember when we would get picture prints and the first print off of every roll was your ‘goofy-face’ test picture?”- Angela to me.

Yes, I do. And I miss them. A lot. How did I forget about those? It’s weird how some of the details of your own life can fade over time yet you don’t recognize that they have faded.

Wait. They didn’t fade. They were replaced. By this.

Fun destroyer.

Thanks to technology, I don’t need to take a goofy first-of-the-roll-test-pic to make sure the film is advancing properly. Bummer.

I wonder what else I am going to miss out on? Yeah, goofy pics aren’t a huge thing to miss out on, and I won’t miss the pics themselves (at least not too much). What I will miss is the 30 seconds of laughing with my wife over how ridiculous I look.

I also miss photo albums. Real photo albums. With actual photos. Sure, I have a gigantic collection of pics on my PC, and I can view them anytime. But, I never clean them out. They’re unorganized. There are just too many. Plus, I have to be logged on to my computer to have other people view them. It would be kinda weird for a friend to just pick up my laptop and start looking through my digital libraries. But somehow it would be okay if I had a photo album filled with all my personal memories and people could thumb through that.

So what else does technology accidentally replace? Hmm . . .

-Face to face conversations. Because, either they’re not face to face anymore (i.e. Facebook, which I try to avoid for many reasons) or if you are face to face with someone, they’re looking at a screen and texting someone else.

-Music. Yeah, music got a lot of benefits from tech, but it also loses something (see this CNET article). Also, anything with ‘auto-tune’ involved should not also be labeled music.

– Your social life. Especially if you are an online gamer. Especially if that game has anything involving dragons.

– Your marriage. Especially if you are an online gamer. Especially if that game has anything involving dragons.

– Seinfeld. Well, not directly, but this should explain it.

– Your memory.

Currently Angela and I are working on re-building our photo albums. I want to have something physical to pass down to my kids one day. Somehow I imagine handing over a hard-drive with a hearty “Here ya go, son.” Just won’t be as meaningful as hard-copies of pictures.

The picture I found that started this whole thing. Circa 2005.

-ASG