“You make me so happy it turns back to sad; there’s nothing I hate more than what I can’t have.” – TS

I went back up to ten. It was getting a little too sad in here; sad in a way that felt too familiar, and so a little scary.

There should still be a range, ups and downs. There’ve been a lot more ups — like, super ups — lately than I’d have guessed possible; so I’ve gotta swallow my downs, too. But then there’s too down, which is where the shit that the Dark Angel is whispering at me starts to seem like a series of plausibly actionable ideas. And no, it’s not about controlling how you feel; but you’re always responsible for controlling what you do.

Downs like when an old friend dies. Like a light going out over your head, the one you were using to see the page, but didn’t even know was on. Ambient light versus direct. Easy to mistake one for the other, then take it for granted.

I don’t know what that means, and I doubt the analogy holds up, but it feels right. I’m gonna go with what feels right — for a change.

Holy shit, I really need a piano.

Music and writing instead of tv last night — again. Like I’m someone else. More like my 20-year-old self than a recliner-bound has-been, awaiting a slow, spiraling fade out.

{Hey, remember when you used to write obsessively about everything, back when you where ‘young and cared’, in those 300-page spiral notebooks? There were days you could scarcely stop. That seems weird now, because the intervening 25 or so years have kicked you ass, en route to teaching you a thing or two, and so just like most kids quit drawing, you (mostly) stopped writing. At least, until tw@se came around. But, arguably, that’s who you are as much as anything else. You used to play guitar and sing a lot, too. And cry. And have unimaginably remote, impossible dreams. And fall in love like your life depended on it. (Maybe it did.) -Ed.}

I’ll take sleeping straight through from 9 to 4:30 any day over that ghostly Dark Wake mode. Fitfull sleep, full of dreams, I think, but not OA dreams. Still haven’t had another one of those; that was a unique experience. But still — solid sleep, I think. Helps to reload your cache.

[OK, going weirder now, and into more computer/as/metaphor shit. Feel free to bail.]

Woke up thinking that this is like in the old Mac OS days — for me, the entirety of the 90s — where all the non-core things you wanted the machine to do required little bits of software called Extensions. (I was not in IT back then, and had zero clue that would be my fate — I mean, that would have seemed as ludicrous to me then as working in the hardware department at Sears as a tool-clueless 15-year-old had done in 1986.) Anyways, I was still a tech civilian back then, so I can’t tell you what an Extension really was, in CS terms, without doing some Wikipediaing that, at the moment, I don’t give a shit about. But my guess is they were “extensions” of the basic operating system. Things the Apple Gods had deemed outside their purview to include. And so, things that were absolutely necessary if you wanted to, say, print. Or calibrate the color of your monitor, or “distill” a PDF file, whatever the fuck that was supposed to mean. (Perhaps that Adobe saw itself as some kind of renegade bootlegging operation; the little good guys up against the Mac’s Death Star. Ironic. Why do the rebels always end up as tyrants the second they seize 51% of the power? Have they no shame? No fondness for their hippie roots?)

Anyways, because Extensions were outside the main system, they were [oh, let’s just go ahead and say ‘a Wild west’] a Wild west of roll-your-own, slap-’em-together, figure-it-out-yourself hoo-hah. (Today’s “DYI” sounds so punk rock, whereas back then it was more like a trip to Radio Shack with a broken soldering iron and Journey playing on the cassette deck. But the weird inversion is that today’s version of “do it yourself” is actually much more tame and guided — more corporate and safe — than the old-school one, which really was a new frontier. Those Homebrew Computer Clubs were the real deal. Same old story, I guess: We tell ourselves lies and then layer over some hubris to hide our tracks.)

So you’d find an Extension to do some new trick on your Mac — not online, because online (mostly) didn’t exist yet. It’d come on a floppy — not a CD, and certainly not a install DVD, because those didn’t exist yet, either, outside of some R&D lab. And you’d install it and then you’d reboot the computer, often needing to also invoke arcane spellcasting like zapping the PRAM or holding down three special modifier keys (which sometimes did nothing and other times caused their own special weirdness). The machine would come to life and… pretty much anything was possible. Now you could, say, print, but your mouse didn’t work. Yay, command line interfaces again! I knew all that pointing and clicking was a fad. Or you could do that distillation of that fancy document format, but half the colors were missing from your display, or you’d get system crashes every 30 minutes (which was super duper fun back in the days before partitioned memory; one app would take down the whole machine, including all your unsaved work. (Sometimes hours of writing, if it was the middle of the night at a computer lab across campus, and your paper was due in your first class, and you were too loopy to keep track of time and remember to keep saving.) (To this day, I still compulsively hit Command-S every few minutes, even in applications that autosave to the Cloud, where Command-S doesn’t even do anything anymore. It’s like a cargo cult.)

“There’s glitter on the floor after the party.”

I can’t believe I forgot to convert the italics in that message. I can’t believe I didn’t offer to drive, didn’t say that one part that I’d planned, over and over again, to say, didn’t see that my excited gesturing was looping ever and ever closer to the top of my ill-advised Starbucks cup. [Note to self: even for 4:40pm meetings, maybe recaffienating right beforehand is a bad idea. Better to go in too cool than too hot.]

For the amazing string of things I got right — I mean, there were a few that I nailed like a bullseye from across the room, with my contacts out — for all those successes and good things, I can’t believe all the things I got wrong last week; all the near misses and missed opportunities, only realized in shocking jumps hours and hours later. That is definitely the kind of obsessive, self-critical thinking that I’m supposed to steer clear of, because while we have to examine the past to learn anything from it, imagining a time machine is not helpful. You cannot go back for a do over, you can only try to do better the next time. And it’s not that any of those little misses or mishandling so or unfortunate turns of phrase really mattered, not really. Nor will it make a huge difference one way or another, that, say, I had to stand there for 15 minutes with coffee dripping down into my pants. Who knows? Maybe it clarified the mind and stiffened my posture and helped me nail the rest of it? Because it certainly went unexpectedly fractal there for a while, and I held up well, almost as if it was one of those crazy interview stunts where they purposefully stress test the candidate. (Hilarious to imagine that I think everyone else is just playing checkers, but they’re full on chess masters, and so that’s exactly what they were doing, and I was too dumb and arrogant to see it; but somehow passed the test anyways. For all the ways ceramics has ruined my life, having to stand in front of a kiln load of complete disaster and retrieve your mistakes from the void, one painful lesson after another, builds a shit ton of character. To where standing there with an unfamiliar iPad and coffee in your underwear and random important people popping in and out like it’s a 70’s improv sketch and everyone else is on coke is pretty much a walk in the park. (If that’s true, I should blow all this off and start a consulting gig where I travel around in a fancy POW-style bread truck to fancy corporate HQs where they force their employees to wrangle with glazes and trimming bowls and the ego-sandblasting of blatant inexpertise and clear, unrelenting failures. There’s probably a million dollars in that idea, for someone more shameless and motivated than me.)

So I’m trying not to dwell on my missed opportunities, but damn does that gully go deep. Neural pathways, it ends up, take some serious time to rewire; and in the meantime, it’s like every wire is hot, nothing is labeled on the panel, and some dummy didn’t even bother to put covers on all his comically-wired junction boxes. It is a “hot mess”, my dear.

But sometimes I really do wonder, with my new set of Extensions, if all it might take is one of those little things — just one more unlikely piece added to the stack — to tip the whole thing over into something else. Some new reality. [Like, what if true A.I. was there, waiting in some inscrutable configuration of this piece and that piece and definitely not that piece, and no one ever thought to wrap them together and say, “Run”? Some of this undeniable moments feel like that; like if I could have just threaded together disparate elements in such a way, like a pagan charm, it would be the thing that would make all the difference, as if it could somehow leap me out of this reality and into another one. That’s some high-octane mystical thinking, there, which maybe speaks to how wide I’m casting my net in trying to sort out this new brain.]

Sorry again for the hypergraphia. Really; you don’t have to read all these — certainly not now. They’ll keep; I’m not gonna rush over and delete the whole thing the first time it catches me up in some minor unintended consequences. (And, even if I did, pretty sure the Internet Archive’s got it all covered. Every momentary thought, crystallized into an unrelenting permanence, simply because I couldn’t find that last bit of self restraint, again. I dunno — it might all come back to bite me in the ass, but there’s something beautiful about taking that risk. At least if the bill comes due, I’ll have paid it forward as best I could.)

OK, that’s enough for now. Sorry again. It’s better than the one I was going to do. It occurs to me that, rather than save this on the shelf for later, perhaps more reasonable review, I have to hit Post now in order to make the writing stop. I can fix it in the mix; I’m letting myself do that as much as I like, now. The stove needs restarting, the glazes restirring, the next batch of pots resorting. I missed my firing window, but I really hope to not lose yet another day.

“Is it cool that I said all that? Is it chill that you’re in my head? ‘Cause I know that it’s delicate.”

Thanks for reading, again and again and yet again. I can’t believe that you do. You’re the best.

“I recall late November, holding my breath, slowly I said, ‘You don’t need to save me…'”