Happy Circumstantial Things

“A dollar is a sign of what?”

“Err…” I think to myself hurriedly, equivalent exchange, the gold standard, fiscal security. But I am fairly sure the punchline is going to be a negative poke at society. Supply and demand, a means of representing valuable exchanges. My pregnant pause is running out. Everything I could think of, things a dollar can symbolize, it all doesn’t sound that bad, I give up, “what?”

“A broken relationship.”

Even as it is sinking in, wrapping itself slowly around my head, I can feel the truth. Even as it is filtering past my cerebellum, I can feel the revolt. After all representation of a transaction is not a bad thing. Convenience is certainly worth something. Does it really matter if you are paid in one commodity and use that commodity to trade it for something of actual worth to you?

“I feel like there is truth to what you are saying, but I am not sure I am quite wrapping my head around it.”

She looks back at me, a nod in her eyes, as if she expected such a response.

“Think about it this way, transactions used to mean something. They were a sign of trust between two people. So many transactions used to be things that people did for one another, like pet sitting, babysitting, watering your neighbor’s lawn, are now things that we pay for. They used to be things that helped to build a community that took care of one another.”

“So psychologically, it is not that money is not useful, just that having it serve as an intermediary between people creates an inevitable feeling of distance, of alienation.”

“Something like that. When you pay for something, you don’t feel like you have to care as much about the other person and when you get paid for something, you are less likely to go above and beyond. People start worrying about doing exactly what they are being paid for. I think you get much better care from people in a community of trust.”

It is unquestionably useful to be able to carry around a stored value of potential transactions, rather than being able to always have something of value to the person who has something of value you want. However it is worth considering that if we had to stop and think about what each of us have to offer, the person who is offering something to us might also stop and think about if the thing they are offering really has enough value. And such thinking would lead to some improvement in offered things. If it was a matter of personal pride that the thing you offer to barter has actual value, there might be more things of substance/value being offered.

Otherwise the question becomes, was the time I spent on this product worth how much I will be offered in return for it? The value of the product itself is no longer in question. The focus is on the return on time spent on the product. The value of the product itself is inconsequential.

Not that it cannot have value, only that psychologically, the return on investment takes precedence over actual value of product.

Somewhat disjointed speed up to today, I have been going through a disorienting period of self-reflection and went to one of my favorite coffee shops. Short story, I do not come here that often, however when I do, I always get the same drink: mint mojito ice coffee. One of the few caffeinated drinks I actually like. I ordered it as usual, and as usual, the person running the cashier asks me how I’m feeling today and unlike the previous times, I said today felt like it was looking up (in previous times, I did not feel like lying so I did admit it was not great). He told me that was fantastic and when I ask to pay, he told me it was covered. Immediately I panic.

I feel like I need to do something now. Something equitable. I need to know why today, did I look down? Did I do something to deserve it? Did I seem happy? I feel an urge to just pay so I do not have to “owe” anything. So it can be a clean transaction, I do not have to worry about, so I do not have to feel guilty about not paying back the right amount. After taking a few breathes, I look around. Everyone is still going on with their lives, the workers here are laughing and talking as if nothing has happened. If anyone notices my distress, they are doing a good job of neither ignoring me nor acting as if anything out of the normal happened. As I calm down, I watch the employees here. They seem truly happy. If they knew that they were giving me a gift, they show no sign of it. No expectations, no strings attached. Just people being happy, doing what they wish to do.

As I sit here, drinking my mint leafed drink, dwelling on the quelling anxiety, thinking. It is not just a medium of transactional value, the dollar.

“The sign of a dollar?”

I would say it is more than that. It is also a barrier to trust. To not having to trust. A way to avoid communicating, a way to avoid vulnerability. To get what we want without having to bargain, barter, to communicating. To not asking questions. To allowing us to remain distanced from others. To not forming relationships and preventing the simple enjoyment of happy circumstantial things.


Shall there be… writing? (NaNoWriMo ALERT)

a random place of writing two years agoReally, I shouldn’t.  I really really shouldn’t.  But you know what I realized a few days ago?

It is truly ridiculous how little I have been writing this past year.  Really.

It seems the data-logging of my stream of consciousness or perhaps it is the source of the stream itself has become stagnant and quite diminutive in that span.  And that is a consequence that I cannot abide by.  Writing should not be this sporadic.  Should not be this hard.  Writing should be, well, like breathing.  Words rolling off, one into the next, flowering into some sort of coherency… perhaps.  Thus, I shall write!

No idea what exactly my goal should be.  The proposed 50k I do concede to myself, as much as I would like to ‘win’ again, I really should not even consider it to be a goal.  Finish a novel?  My last one was not even a tenth of the way through even over 60k.  A friend proposed a maximum word goal per day.  Not a bad idea perhaps, but also not great as I tend to write in spurts.

Let us just proceed under the assumption that I will be joining my fellow writers or writers-to-be in a month of writing in some potentially-more-strictly-limited-capacity.

For the potential many who do not know me on the nanowrimo website, I go by aurialis, though you can also find me at : http://www.nanowrimo.org/eng/user/431929

Squirrel who kept me company as I wrote

Now onto the important part: whatever shall I write?

My first attempt (which I did win, word count wise, story yet to be finished) was a sci-
fi/philosophical/discourse on development theory. My second (last year) was a short(-ish) story that might be classified as psychological horror (it did not begin with that intention?), but perhaps it is really too short to tell.

One of my agreements with myself is that I will count side projects within my own word count (a.k.a. writing for non-school-related projects that need to get done but cannot be ‘the novel’).  Thus under this, movie/video scripts for winter break filming projects can and will be allowed, as additional motivation to myself to do them (since I expect none of them to reach novel-length proportions).  However there will be one and one novel only.  So ideas!
(* are storylines that have been in my storybank for some time/years now)

The Babylon Complex: sci-fi/historical recreation/psychological*
– new kid in a town that specializes in historical recreation, except what is the ‘real’ reality when everyone works in making believe in make believe?  Historical recreation will either be the Salem Witch Trials or more likely a variant of it.

Untitled: fantasy/sci-fi/adventure*
– girl discovers a chest containing texts on the study of magic, books that were meant for her.  There are many worlds parallel to this one and those of the arts are able to slide between them, living multiple lives at the same time if they so wish.  (Sorry kind of stereotypical, but nevertheless…) There are shadows at work, worlds are dissolving, their time-link with the others going out of sync.

Children of War:  sci-fi/adventure*

Dreamwalkers: sci-fi/psychological/adventure*

– something based more in… this reality
– something about dragons!
– observing existence and absence
– a story of quarks and pions
– a story about love and romance(?)
– Ophiocus
– not sleeping… 😛

Not sure if I deserve my stories (old storylines*) right now.  I was reading over some of my old writing and I miss writing like that.  Perhaps it will all just come back with a bit of practice and setting my mind right.

To another year of writing!  Who’s with me‽

My 2008 NaNoWriMo!

Ejection Works!

“Ejection works!”

Was my shout of glee earlier this waking period.

I suppose this probably bears further explanation, the short of which is, I had spent much of the last 24 hours distractedly awake then half falling asleep between power naps while waiting for the progress bar to finish, partitioning my three year plus old macbook pro, creating a clean snow leopard install and new windows 7 install.  Then restoring my mac data.

All so I can run SolidWorks on my computer.

While semi-obsessively checking my CPU temperature readings (during the periods where I was working in an OS that gave me access to such information) because my computer had developed a tendency to power off suddenly whenever the CPU temperatures ran a bit too high for some period of time.  A safety measure, no doubt.  But quite annoying when it starts having a frequent affect on your daily computer usage.  Particularly for a non-light user.

Thus, after hours of staring at my computer, I was quite happy to find that the ejection key still works in the Windows OS (as does the two finger slide).  Hence the original comment.  It took me several seconds to even realize that such a comment could have another interpretation… which pasted a happy grin on my face for some time.

Not a rest of life some sort of glee, but enough that I write this now.

All this led me to realize that there is likely a multitude of innocuous computer phrases or phrases that could be said in the company or in reference to computers that had less than innocuous meanings taken out of context.  Several of which was probably said during my hard drive partitioning plus OS installing, but try as I might I could not recall any past the most immediate occurrence, so instead I looked up computer jokes!

Here is my top… several quotes (in no particular order):

“Lisp in action is like a finely choreographed ballet. Basic in action is like a waltz of drugged elephants. C in action is like a sword dance on a freshly waxed floor.”

Cryptanalysis is the study of turning other peoples’ harmless mistakes into catastrophic errors.”

“The Web is like a dominatrix.  Everywhere I turn, I see little buttons ordering me to Submit.”

“Most of you are familiar with the virtues of a programmer.  There are three, of course: laziness, impatience, and hubris.”
Larry Wall

“The trouble with programmers is that you can never tell what a programmer is doing until it’s too late.”
Seymour Cray

“To iterate is human, to recurse divine.”
L. Peter Deutsch

There are two major products that came out of Berkeley: LSD and UNIX. We do not believe this to be a coincidence.
Jeremy S. Anderson

I just found out that the brain is like a computer. If that’s true, then there really aren’t any stupid people. Just people running DOS.

“Programming is like sex, one mistake and you have to support it for the rest of your life.”
Michael Sinz

“To err is human… to really foul up requires the root password.”

“If brute force doesn’t solve your problems, then you aren’t using enough.”

“Life would be so much easier if we only had the source code.”


I fainted?  Earlier today on Sproul, underneath the rows of knobby trees by the concrete bench in front of GBC.  And by today I actually mean not long after two yesterday, a.k.a. Saturday.

I suppose it began when my partner accidentally danced me off the paved area into the dirt by one of the trees and I fell because my foot caught the edge of the tree zone badly.  A slight sprain, nothing bad, but not something I would want to dance on.  Probably lucky in retrospect as things would have probably turned out far worse for me if I had fainted while dancing.

Fast forward a few minutes, I am leaning against the concrete barrier and suddenly everything gets dizzy.  I know my partner of a few minutes ago is talking about something, but I can’t catch the meaning.  The words hit me, but the content slip over me like fish through hands in a stream.  Fast moving and slippery.  My head hurt.  I couldn’t focus.  And then everything is spinning.  You know on TV when people are shown to have a concussion, their view splits into several foci that then spin around.  I had always thought that it was just a gimmick, but that was what it was like.  Like the world was reprinted on three different layers that got all got spun around on different centers of mass and different orientations.  I suppose I was trying to sit down and then I woke up.

Confused, I might add.  For there was a ring of people staring at me.  Not strangers, it took me a second to realize.  I was on Sproul?  It was the Lindy crowd, yes, I come most Saturdays to dance.  But why was I on the ground?  That were the first thoughts running through my head.

The next were, oh, I guess I fell.  How long was I out?  For I still felt myself wrapped in the arms of the dream world.  That place of distant worlds and grand tales.  Stories so absurd it is hard to believe they could ever have been imagined.  And stories so vivid that reality pales in comparison.  This was a gray dream.  The only colors like hues painted on black and white photos.  Some industrial cityscape.  Not too big, still in the midst of processing.  Perhaps much like a moderate sized town in the midst of the Industrial Revolution, moving towards becoming a city.  There were people around me there too and for the first split second, I thought the ring of folks about me as I awoke were they.  But they (here) were colored and they were looking at me.  And then I realized that the sky was bright and the space large, bright, and free of mechanical obstacles.  The ground covered in stone pieces, but not various shades of cobblestone.  No dust in the air, so much that it was visible from movement of breathing.

And then it began slipping away, as dreams have a tendency to do.  Something I was supposed to do there.  Some knowledge I knew, bit by bit dropping from my mental view.  Half of me fought to go back.  To hold what remained of the dream there.  Remember what was slipping away.  Perhaps grab ahold of some piece of memory that would pull myself back into the body of that world.  A carriage ahead of me.  No horse?  Mechanical then, or perhaps a truck of some sort.  Black, two small window panes in the back.  A transport of some sort, but for what?

I was trying to get on it undetected, or just follow.  There were people milling about, just the crowd.  And two in dark uniform near the back of the carriage, along the sides.  Another one further up, not in view.  I was creeping in the shadows of the crowd.  Not that there were that many there.  Five or six at the most in front of me.  A dog, black, dark in the shadows to my right.

The vehicle was just entering into an intersection.  The narrow street that we were on merging into the left side another not much larger.  A woman was walking in this intersection, white?  Some light colored dress and a white top hat.  Accompanied by one or two men in suits.  So a Victorian sort of world, with houses ringed by eye level high black metal fences, pointed at the top of each bar.  My last thought as that world pulled away, like an image among heavy clouds, covers being pulled away, was that I needed to get somewhere.

And then I was back in this world of color.  The first instant it seemed as if it were a photograph.  People pasted on the page, then the dream slipped away, the image clarified into worried looking faces.  Why were they so worried?  Did I just wake up from a nap?

“Do you feel ok?”
I felt fine.  Confused and disoriented, but of the kind when you had just woken up.  “I’m not sure, what happened?”
“You fainted.”
“It looked like you were trying to sit down, but then you just collapsed.”
“Really?  I fainted?”
“Here, drink water.”
“I feel fine.”
“You should drink some water.”
“Should we take you to the Tang center?”
“No, I feel fine.”
<Sirens head up Telegraph>
“–, did you call the ambulance?!”
“No, I was about to, but then she woke up”
“I don’t think that’s necessary.  I feel fine.”
“Do you think you had a stroke?”
“No?  Why?”
“Well, you were twitching.”
“I was?”
“Yea, I was sitting and you were standing.  Then suddenly you fell and landed on me.  Good thing I was here otherwise your head might have hit the concrete.”
“Some people come to swing to catch girls and others to throw them.”
“Do you think you had a stroke?”
“Eh, it just felt like I just woke up.  I feel fine.”
“But you were twitching.  That is a sign of a stroke.”
“Has this ever happened before?”
“You should still get checked out at Tang.”
“I was just out for fifteen seconds.”  I start in protest.  That seemed hardly necessary.  Though I probably should.
“We should check if she still remembers things.”
“What year is it?”
“Who is the president?”
“It’s Sarah Palin.”
I glare at them.  Good thing to know they had found humor in the situation.  “It’s 2010 and Obama’s president.”
“Actually it’s been 90 years.  You were cryogenically frozen and they thought it would be easier to ease you back into society if you woke up to familiar faces.”
“Beware of the laser sharks.”
“Berkeley’s become a preserve and no one is allowed in or out.  They’ve kept everything on the inside the same.”
“There is a fence around everything.”
“Quick, hide the laser shark.  Otherwise she’ll be confused and faint again.”

Which leads me to question, which is stranger?  My friends or my dreams?

Continue reading “Faint”


I suppose I can/should admit this.

I am not ok. I am not fine. Even now. I am writing this here, not especially for attention, but rather so that this will now be public (more public). So that it seems more corporeal, more real. Even as I write this now, I feel tendrils of doubt creep in. Questioning, am I just overthinking? Is this just being oversensitive? Am I just making this up?

I have been telling myself that it has been long enough, that I should be fine by now, that it should not be affecting me anymore. But I should also be able to handle everything I am doing right now… and it’s not quite happening. If anything my performance this semester is proof that I am not alright.

I know what I am capable of and I am lying to myself accepting what I am doing right now. I have been feeling more and more like myself again, but if every time I do feel like I am finally myself again then how many times has it been that I have not been quite myself again? How long until I am truly ‘myself’ again?

I believe I have told many people already, but about a month before the semester started last Fall, my family found out that my grandfather had lung cancer. Terminal cancer. I’m not really sure when things started deteriorating for me, last spring wasn’t without its share of crisis (MUN and otherwise). But this was different. I cracked last summer, the hairline cracks all ruptured. I should be fine by now, that’s what I tell myself. I wonder if I am just looking for an excuse for my poor performance. But if I were truthful with myself, I am not ok. And now I feel like I am over-exaggerating.

Since I am not going to post this on my wall, rather it will sit here, on the side, available for anyone who cares to see on the off chance that they happen to see it. Those of you whom I probably would want to read this the most probably will never notice this, you are all far too busy people, but I want to thank all of you, for being my friends and thus by default, some of the most amazing people to grace the world with your presence.

In particular, Kat, Steve, and Matt for always being no more than a call away, though you are several miles removed, and willing to listen to me ramble for hours if needed even when I feel I no longer make any coherent sense. Margaret, Azzy, Elena, Robert, and Chris for always being online and initiating chats and telling me to do things when I didn’t much feel like talking with anyone. Rebecca for being a good roomie. And everyone on the MUN team, in swing, Vocal Offerings, and CalSol for keeping me in the loop.

*sigh* I am planning on going to see a psychiatrist. I am going to go see a psychiatrist.

I actually wrote this awhile ago, but never posted it, but now is as a good a time as any I suppose.  Really, I want to say thanks to everyone in my life.  All of my friends.  I forgot last year that I had friends that I could rely on.  Everything fell apart and I just couldn’t bring myself to ask for help.  I couldn’t admit the reality to myself much less talk about it to anyone.  But this year, I have come to realize again that I am so lucky to have such caring and wonderful friends.  So, thank you.  And I’m sorry for not turning to you earlier.