Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Once More...

I blame Transmetropolitan

I didn't think I would, but I'm writing political again. Nothing major or inflammatory, I think. I just have one thing I want to discuss: Political Ads on TV.

Here's the thing. I keep seeing ads dedicated to telling me why I should NOT vote for a specific candidate. This really bugs me. 

If you wish me to vote for a specific candidate, tell me what that candidate wishes to accomplish. And, if he is seeking to be re-elected, tell me what he did while in office that would indicate he deserves to have the job again.

If you run ads telling me why I should not vote for other candidates, you're trying to get me to vote for your candidate by process of elimination. That's not a good way to get votes. That's a good way to convince people not to vote at all. Which I guess could possibly accomplish your objective in a way.

The only ad I've seen so far that fits what I would like to see in a political ad was for Jim Matheson. It listed what he voted for in Congress and what he would like to do. I'll have to see the ad a couple more times to remember all the points exactly, but there was one that stood out to me.

Jim Matheson voted to NOT give the members of Congress a pay raise. I kind of think that getting a pay raise should not be decided by the people getting the raise. I would think that a lot of people would say, "A raise? Do I want more money? Yes." So that one point makes me want to vote for Matheson.

But to get back to my main point, when running an ad tell me why I should vote for a candidate. I want to hear what he wants to accomplish and what he has already done. 


Sunday, September 9, 2012

Slightly Political

Here's the thing. I don't wax political often. Mostly because I don't share the same political views as the majority of my family and I like to stay on speaking terms with them. I also don't share the same political views with the majority of my state and I don't like being picked on or bullied by the majority.

Am I thrilled with everything that has happened during the current presidential term? No. However, I don't think President Obama deserves the blame for every bad thing going on in the country. He's still trying to clean up the mess the previous president made, while being hampered by a Republican controlled House of Representatives that, to me, seems to have taken an almost childish pleasure in saying, "no," to anything and everything he's tried to do.

So, let's look at what Clinton left Bush: A budget surplus of 237 billion and record low poverty rates. What did Bush leave Obama? A deficit of 1.2 TRILLION, according to the Congressional Budget Office.

So now we have a new presidential election coming up. Mitt Romney is the Republican candidate. I'm supposed to like him, because he's a Mormon and so am I, but I don't think I'll vote for him. And not because he's Mormon. Because, according to my most trusted political news source, The Daily Show with Jon Stewart, his budget plans include a big tax break for the wealthy. The wealthy would include Mr. Romney. Doesn't seem right to me. Also, I just don't see evidence of Trickle-down economics working. 

So I'll vote Democrat for president and my vote won't count. Why? Because of the electoral college system. The majority of Utah will vote Republican, which means that all of Utah's electoral college votes will be Republican. 

Okay, enough with the bad part of the election process. 

During a presidential election year, I think the absolute best piece of literature to read is Transmetropolitan by Warren Ellis and Darick Robertson. Transmet was a comic book series that ran for 60 issues, currently collected in 10 trade paperbacks. It's set in the future and has many science fiction elements, but the core concept is a journalist's take on the presidential election.

The journalist is Spider Jerusalem. He was based on Hunter S. Thompson. The character claims to be searching for the truth and he doesn't really care who gets hurt by his quest.  It's a hilarious book that presents a critique of our society today. I guarantee you'll see a connection to whatever election is going on when you read the series. 

Why? Because the writer, Warren Ellis, is fascinated by U.S. politics. He's from England, by the way. It was he who pointed out a fact that I find quite amusing. A communist country is often referred to as a "Red State." Or was. I'm not sure if it still is. Most Republicans are vocally opposed to anything remotely resembling communism or socialism. As states submit their results in the presidential election those that have voted Republican are colored red. Thus, Republican states become "Red States." 

And on the subject of socialism and communism, having nationalized healthcare is not communist. Personally I think we should just copy and paste South Korea's system. Why? Because it WORKS. I paid about a small amount a month for my insurance.I can't remember exactly how much. It was just taken out of my check, so I never missed it. My employer paid the other half of my insurance. Anytime I felt sick I could go to the hospital and see a doctor. There was usually hardly any waiting. Why? Because the doctors get paid according to how many people they see, so they are interested in taking care of you as quickly as possible. And I never felt dismissed. The cost? One visit I saw the doctor, got chest x-rays, and paid for my prescription. Total amount out of my wallet? $20. Yeah. It's cheap.

Anyway, enough of my soapbox for now. I don't know that I'll get political again. I don't want to deal with the arguments.

Thursday, August 30, 2012

Aladdin at Tuacahn

Saturday I went to see the production of Aladdin at Tuacahn.

Overall, I would give my experience a "B."

The show itself gets an A. It would be an A+, except that the "star" of the show, Mr. Aladdin himself, seemed like he was just going through the paces. He didn't seem to be putting a whole lot of effort into it. It was obvious he had done this a thousand times and was just doing it by rote that night. 

The three narrators were amazing. I couldn't wait for them to come back on stage each time. They were funny and had great harmony. They were aware that they were in a play and had many funny asides to the audience. Iago wasn't a parrot this time. He was a little person and was hilarious to watch.

There were great special effects! Explosions galore! When it came time for the cave of wonders, they projected the cave onto a fountain spray. It looked awesome! When Aladdin went into the cave, they projected the cave background onto a screen. In 3D! I was wondering why they handed out 3D glasses at a live stage production. During "A Whole New World," Aladdin and Jasmine went for a magic carpet ride. The carpet lifted off the stage and soared over the audience. 

The other members of the audience get an F. First of all, a good percentage of the patrons there brought their young kids. And by young I mean 5 years old and under. It was ridiculous. Just because your kids enjoy watching the Disney movie Aladdin does not mean they will enjoy a three hour Stage production of the same story! Many people showed up late and sat down after the initial number had started. One family even showed up a half hour into the performance! I couldn't believe they did that. Or that the ushers let them!

The worst part of the audience? There were probably 50 or 60 people who stood up and left BEFORE THE FINALE!  I was flabbergasted! I still am I guess.

I'd like to see the show again. However, I would like to see it with a better audience. Maybe a smaller, indoor venue. It probably wouldn't have the awesome special effects, but I think I might enjoy it even more.


Thursday, August 23, 2012

NOT BEDIA #20: A Failed Experiment

There are many reasons I could list for why this blogging every day was a failed experiment. I still like the idea. Quite a bit, actually, but I missed my third day and figured it was "three strikes I'm out." 

The worst part is that I have had plenty of time to make a post every day. I don't have a job yet. I guess some days I just got too wrapped up in myself and didn't make a post.

Kind of sad, but that's how it is.

The job hunt isn't going all that well. I had two interviews last week. I called today to follow up and found out the positions had been filled. It was a bummer to hear that.

It's been a rough week, that's for sure. Not just with the job hunt, but with other things happening as well.

So I just keep moving forward. 

Hmmm, maybe I should watch "Meet the Robinsons" again.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

BEDIA #19: Les Miserables

I haven't managed to read the book. Yet. It's been on my "To-Read" list for years. Though, to be honest, I prefer Victor Hugo's poetry to what I've read of his prose. 

I went and saw a production of the musical based on Hugo's most famous work. It was produced by the Utah Shakespeare Festival. 

While the Festival has a pretty high success rate for the productions I've seen, I have to admit that I was rather disappointed with their version of "Les Mis." 

It had a couple high moments, usually whenever the actress playing Eponine was singing. Unfortunately, she didn't sing nearly enough to save the entire production in my eyes.

On the plus side, my disappointment tonight has made me that much more excited for the movie coming out in December.

Monday, August 20, 2012

BEDIA #18: A Problem...

I've been back in the USA for about a month and a half now, and I've noticed a problem. 

I've gained at least 12 pounds. 

How do I know this? When I was unpacking boxes, I came across a scale, so I weighed myself. I've been weighing myself periodically since then and watching the number rise.

I know what I need to do to fix this and make it better. I just lack the motivation.

I'm pretty sure it's affecting my self-image and depression.

Like I said, I know how to fix the problem, I just don't have the drive to keep myself motivated.

I think a job would help. Keep me distracted and on the right track. 

I guess I'll see where this goes.

Sunday, August 19, 2012

BEDIA #17: The Lord of the Rings

I love The Lord of the Rings. I've been reading the trilogy (and The Hobbit) over and over for as long as I can remember. I just find the whole story so intriguing. It mesmerizes me. I'll admit that I prefer The Hobbit, but it's only by a little.

I love the movies as well. After the third came out on DVD, I went through and watched the series through. Not all in one sitting, but withing a week. I had read the series just prior to this viewing. After this experience I decided that I was fairly comfortable with most of the changes that had been made. I get that you can't translate a book to the movie screen page for page, word for word. It just wouldn't work. I think there were a couple changes that didn't work for me, but it's been long enough that I can't remember what they were.

Whenever I have a project that requires a great deal of attention, I like to put the appendices to the LOTR movies into the DVD player and just let it play in the background as I work. These appendices came with the 4-disc extended editions of the films.

Today as I work on another project, I have the appendices playing. As always, I'm amazed by the planning that went into the movies. The storyboards, the script, the creation of the world the movies exist in. It's mind-boggling. The amount of thought and imagination that went into the movie trilogy is amazing. 

Even more amazing is the passion that those involved had for the project. All the principle movers and shakers were huge, huge fans of the books. Even some of the principle actors were fans. Christopher Lee in particular was the one cast member that other actors went to if they had any questions. He was the only member of the cast who had actually met Tolkien.

When the first film was released, I went to see it with a couple friends of mine. I was so enthralled with what was happening on film that I only moved once during the film. I was frozen in place. I get emotional at places in the film. 

Even now, watching the "behind the scenes" featurettes, I get a little emotional. I feel they are great movies, inspired by amazing books.


Saturday, August 18, 2012

BEDIA #16: My Computer

My laptop has put up with some serious use. My last laptop lasted about 4 years before it was just too much of a dinosaur to deal with anymore. 

My current laptop isn't a dinosaur, it's just having some physical issues. It has three USB ports; two on one side, near the DVD drive, one on the other side. The two by the drive have this problem where they collapse into the computer, so that if you try to plug any sort of USB into them, they push further back. I have a multi USB attachment on the other side, but I like to have use of all my ports, because sometimes I need all of them.

I fixed this problem once before, and I can do it again, I just wish I didn't have to.

And I certainly don't want to shop for a new computer. It's not necessary and I can't afford it anyway.

Stupid technology.


Friday, August 17, 2012

BEDIA #15: The Job Hunt

I'm pretty sure that most people dislike hunting for jobs. It's a tortuous process that lends itself well to causing all sorts of stress.

Here's why it's particularly hard for me. 

I'm an introvert with some self esteem issues. 

As an introvert, I find it very difficult to promote myself. I don't like to say "Pick me! Pick me!" and that's exactly what a job hunt is. I also tend to downplay my own accomplishments. That's not a good thing when you want to convince someone to hire you.

After making the effort to promote myself and try to convince people to hire me, I feel very vulnerable. So if I don't get the job, it hurts my self image. 

So job hunts are bad for me. I've been having some success, at least a couple interviews, but I'm beginning to feel the pressure of needing to have a job so I can have some income. 

Almost to the point of applying for a food service job. 


Thursday, August 16, 2012

BAEDIA #14: Not Quite There...

So I've missed two days of writing so far in August. I think I'll stick with the original acronym BEDIA if only because it's more aesthetically pleasing that BAEDIA, which stands for Blog Almost Every Day In August. 

I don't even have any good reasons to have missed those days, other than I was out with my wife and completely forgot to blog. Both times. 

Today's is going to be very short. I've misplaced my Kindle. It's inside of Misery by Stephen King. I have no idea where I left it. That disturbs me just a little bit. 

I hate losing things, especially things I really like.

So I'm going to go look for it.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

BEDIA #13: Getting My Craft On

Last year, before traveling to Korea, I bought a Kindle. Of course, with my luck, I bought one just before Amazon revamped the line, drastically reducing prices on the model I bought. Oh well, that's just how it works. 

Anyway, I also purchased a case for my Kindle, but it didn't protect the gadget as well as I had hoped. I couldn't stuff it in a backpack because the case didn't protect from pressure. Something had to change.

So I made my own case out of a used book I was never going to read. I was excited for the case and I truly appreciated the irony of putting an e-reader inside of an actual book.

When I got back to the USA, I noticed that my hand-made case was not working as well anymore. The velcro I used to hold the Kindle inside the space wasn't fastening anymore. I needed a new case. Or new velcro, I guess, but I decided to make a new case anyway.

While shopping at the local used book store, I looked at several books to determine their suitability. I didn't love most of them. Either the dimensions weren't right, or I didn't like the color of the cover inside the dust jacket. Finally I found one I really liked that also worked thematically for my purpose: Misery by Stephen King. Inside the dust jacket, the book is black and grey, with metallic read letters on the spine. It also has a metallic red "SK" on the front cover.

I took the book home and started my project. The first step was to glue the pages together. This is easier than it sounds. All I did was mix Elmer's glue with water, probably 60 to 40 percent. Then I painted the edges of the closed book pages. After placing the dust jacket between the glued section and the first couple pages, I closed the cover and stack several books on top. 

After the pages dried, I traced the Kindle on the top glued page. I started cutting out the pages with a utility blade. I cut down far enough that the Kindle would fit inside. After the cutting was done, I applied the glue mixture to the inside, then let it dry again. 

Using hot glue, I attached a strip of elastic to the inside of the front cover so the book won't flop open when I don't want it to. After that the case was finished.

I really like it, but I'm already thinking of improvements for the next one I make.


Monday, August 13, 2012

BEDIA #12 Lunches with Denny and Lloyd

When I'm in Cedar City I like to have lunch (or dinner) with two friends: Denny and Lloyd. We meet at the bowling alley here and eat. Trust me, the food's really quite good. We get together at least once a month, if not more often.

I enjoy the food, of course, but even more important is what we talk about.

We discuss our writing. We talk about the projects we're working on. We talk about the struggles we're having with a particular story. We talk about cool ideas we came up with.

The nice part about discussing these ideas is that we get to see if the ideas are really good or just good inside our heads. Plus we give each other suggestions and ideas to make the ideas even better.

One thing we're planning on doing is workshopping drafts of our stories. This may make the lunches (dinners) last longer, but I think it will be worth it. Every writer needs someone to read what he is writing. I mean, what is the point of writing if no one is going to read the story. Second, fresh perspectives are essential for any good story. I know the story in my head. I know the backstory of the characters, I know what they want and what they don't like. Having someone read my story lets me see if I managed to convey the story effectively on paper. It lets me know if the words I chose were sufficient. And it lets me know if the story really needs to be rewritten. 

I'm looking forward to workshopping with Denny and Lloyd. They're both great writers and help me be better myself. We work well together, see different aspects of story.

Plus we laugh a lot. It's a good thing for me to do. I can't wait for the next one. Think I'll have to set it up.

Sunday, August 12, 2012

BEDIA #11 Whoops!

So, a couple months ago I got an email from soulgeek.com, which is website for geeks to find other geeks to date. 

This email said that I had received a message from someone who was interested in my profile. I'm betting you can figure out what the problem with this email was. Yep. I'm married and I forgot to delete my profile from the site.

I sent a return message to the poor girl, explaining that I was married and that I had forgotten to take care of the dating site issue. Then I sent an email to the site administrators, asking them to delete my profile and why.

I was rather embarrassed by the email. It was weird and awkward and something I hope never happens again. 

But now I find the incident a little amusing, though I feel bad for the woman who contacted me. It's a horrible thing to build up the courage to send a message to a guy you find on a website then to have him tell you, "Sorry, I'm married." That's just depressing so I hope she's ok. 

Saturday, August 11, 2012

BEDIA #10: Verbal Agreement With My Wife...

Don't worry, it's nothing scary.

Chelsea likes dogs. I'm not such a fan. I get along with them just fine, they're just a little needy for my tastes. I guess that's why I like Ojo as much as I do; he's pretty self-sufficient for the most part. If he wants attention and you don't immediately respond, he'll just rub his face on your leg and be just fine. Kind of like a cat.

I'm more of a cat person, and Chelsea just doesn't like them very much. 

So we made an agreement. I could have a cat if she could get a breed of dog she really likes. The breed? Cane Corso. If you look that breed up you'll notice that what she really wants is a slobbery pony. And she wants it to be a house dog. 

I'll be ok with that dog because I get to have my cat. 

I would have been happy with any short hair cat. Recently I found the kind of cat I really want. They're called Munchkin Cats. Why? Well, they have really, really short legs. They're the wiener dogs of the cat world. Unlike the wiener dog, they don't really have any health issues because the short legs are the result of a natural mutation. Here's a picture:

Cute, right? I think it would be awesome to get a Munchkin Cat with Scottish fold ears. Those are the ears that fold up right against the cat's head. Apparently you can't mate two Munchkin cats and get a Munchkin litter. No, that litter would turn out normal. But when you mate the Munchkin with a regular cat, half to all of the litter will be Munchkin. 

According to what I've read, Munchkins are friendly and easy going and keep a lot of the good kitten qualities. I hope to find one to adopt when we're ready for a cat. 


Friday, August 10, 2012

BEDIA #9: Jeff Noon

Jeff Noon is quickly becoming one of my favorite authors. I really enjoy reading his books. I guess this opinion could change, as I have several of his books left to read, but so far I have a very favorable opinion of them.

Noon writes Speculative Fiction (the Literature Class term for Science Fiction) mixed with fantasy. I read an article somewhere that described his writing as "Psychedelic Science Fiction." I rather like that description.

My introduction to Jeff Noon came when I read Nymphomation. If I remember right, this was a book about a group of mathematicians who invented a way for information and numbers to grow and reproduce, which produces radical new information. It's hard to describe the plot, but it's a wonderful place in which to get lost.

While in Korea I read Automated Alice, which was a trequel to the first two Alice books, written as if Lewis Carroll had written a third book where Alice travels to the future through a grandfather clock. It was as trippy and non-sensical as the previous Alice books. 

I just finished a collection of short stories called Pixel Juice. While I didn't like each story in the collection, it was a great thing for me to read, as reading this book lead to many new story ideas that I hope to develop in the near future.

The way Jeff Noon describes colors and sensations is almost intoxicating. I've never tried drugs, but reading his books is the closest I've been to tripping out on some illicit substance. It was a fun adventure, but not one I'm anxious to repeat physically.

Next on my Jeff Noon reading list is Vurt, a novel about getting high by sucking on feathers of different colors. I can't wait to read it.

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

BEDIA #8 Getting a Dog

I've mentioned our dog a couple times. Ojo is his name. Well, now it is anyway...but I'm getting ahead of myself.

After I made a trip to Denver from Seoul for my sister's wedding, Chelsea told me she wanted to get a dog. We had discussed getting a dog in the future, when we had the space for it, because to be honest, Chelsea wants a horse-sized dog. 

I thought about it, and, as we had decided to stay in Korea until November, I figured it was worth the effort to get a dog, get it adjusted to our apartment at the Village, then uproot it and take it to the States.

Chelsea and I started browsing an animal rescue website. It included profiles and updates and listed whether or not the dog was up to date on its vaccinations. We both rather liked a little dog named Bubbles (we both hated the name), but he ended up going home with a couple that sent an email inquiry before we did. 

That was a bummer, but we kept looking. We saw a little dog that looked like he had a cute personality. His name was Eun Chong, and he lived in DaeJeon. He had had his bark removed, but had a rep for trying to bark anyway. We felt it was cruel to remove a bark and something we would never do, but we figured it would be a bonus for us. 

Chelsea sent a message to the animal shelter and we planned a trip to DaeJeon, which is a story of its own. We stayed the weekend, but never heard from the animal shelter. 

Chelsea found a third little dog named Harry. I wasn't sold from his profile, but Chelsea wanted to arrange a meeting. I was ok with that, so off we went to Seoul.

It was obvious from the first few minutes that Harry wasn't a regular dog. He was more interested in wandering than hanging out with us. It was also obvious that everybody liked this little dog. Schoolkids stopped to pet him. Adults did the same. He was patient with them, but would wander off when he was done with the attention. 

After our visit, we went back to the Village and discussed what we thought. We both liked the dog, but thought the name had to go. We decided to adopt him and changed his name to Ojo, though we couldn't bear to break the news to his foster-lady.

After taking him home, we started noticing some quirks. He walks into table legs. He always turns around counter-clockwise. It took him four months to bark, and then it was at the thunder, which is his Mortal Enemy. He didn't know how to do stairs, and still struggles with them. And he has many cat-like tendencies.

Getting him back to the States was an adventure, but that's another story.

Watching Chelsea sleep. He actually almost tried to join her on the loveseat.

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

BEDIA#7 Seoul Tower

Hmm, my blogger.com dashboard says that I just passed ten thousand page views. Thanks for reading!

When Chelsea's parents visited us in South Korea, we tried to think of all the cool, tourist-y things that we could do with them. One of the things we decided on was to visit Seoul Tower. 

Seoul Tower is a rather famous landmark. You can see it from just about anywhere in Seoul due to both its height and it's location on one of the taller hills in the area. 

We traveled the subway to the correct spot then started looking for the cable-car landing. After wandering a ways and hiking up some steep streets we finally found what we were looking for. We had to stand in line and wait to be able to ride the cable-car up to the grounds the Tower actually stands on. It took a while, but we lucked out and were at the front of the line when our car arrived. We took up positions at the front of the car. 

I'm afraid of heights and it made me weak to see the ground fall farther and farther away, knowing that I was suspended underneath a cable in a basket crammed with people. If the cable gave out, there was no way we would live. 

Obviously we didn't have any problems. 

It was kind of a hazy day in Seoul. From the top of the hill we could see most of the city, obscured by the haze. While Chelsea and her parents decided to look into riding to the top of the tower, I had had enough of heights for the day and wanted to stay at the base of the tower. There was plenty to see. 

On top of the height issue, a singer/musician was setting up to play some music from the Andes and I wanted to listen. I chatted a bit with him as he was waiting for his start time. Turns out he was from Lima, Peru. I didn't have a chance to ask why he was in Korea, as he was almost ready to start playing and singing. 

It was rather comforting to find a little bit of Peru in Korea. I liked his music so much that I bought two of his CDs. He signed both. His name is Rafael Molina. I don't know his maternal last name. Super nice guy and a great musician. 


Monday, August 6, 2012

BEDIA #6 The Search for a Job...

I know, I know. I was supposed to write the second half of the story of my trip to the DMZ. I'm really just not feeling that topic right now, you know? So I'm going back to a planned topic that I skipped before, because I feel like writing about this tonight.

I hate job-hunting. The reason I stick with the jobs I get, even when I'm not exactly happy in those jobs, is because I hate the process of hunting for a job. I don't like putting myself on the line and getting rejected. It can be damaging sometimes, especially when I feel like a job is perfect for me and vice versa. 

I've been applying for all sorts of teller jobs with different financial institutions. I have banking experience and I'm fluent in Spanish, so I feel I'm a good fit. The process is pretty glacial though, so I have to keep looking for other options. 

What's been bugging me is that a lot of the application websites these companies run make me jump through annoying hoops. They give me the option to upload a resume. I take the time to customize a resume for the particular type of job for which I'm applying. Then I upload the resume only to find that I still have to fill out a job application, complete with job history and references, which are included in my resume. 

It's frustrating. If you want a more complete view of what I've done in the past, ask me to bring a list to the interview. That's just fine. Don't have me create a resume then make me fill out an application. It's redundant.

So that's my rant for the evening. I can't wait to see what tomorrow's topic is. If it's a boring one, I'll probably finish the DMZ report. 


Sunday, August 5, 2012

BEDIA #5 The DMZ...

Visiting the DMZ was a rather surreal experience. Where we were living in Korea we could see North Korea without making much of an effort. It was right there.

To take a tour to the DMZ, we had to take the bus to Seoul, about forty-five minutes to the south. Once we found our tour bus, we traveled back north past where we had originally left, then on to the tour stops. 

There are many rules and regulations to visit the DMZ. One of those rules covers what you are allowed to wear. However, North Korea changes what they will allow frequently and it makes getting dressed in the morning an adventure. Just make sure you're wearing pants and a shirt with buttons and no logos and you should be ok. 

One of the first stops we made on the tour was the third incursion tunnel. This was a tunnel North Korea dug to try and sneak past the DMZ and launch a sneak attack on Seoul. Of course North Korea claims that it was a tunnel dug by South Korea. They're predictable that way. Once at the area around the tunnel, the tour guide led my group in to a theater where we watched a short video on the history of the tunnel. If I remember right, there are a total of five tunnels that were dug in an attempt to bypass the border security.  After the video we were led over to the access tunnel. After donning a hard hat (very necessary, trust me), we were led down the access tunnel. This tunnel was about 400 feet long and descended at almost 45 degrees. It was steep! At the bottom, the guide spouted off some facts I don't remember, then allowed us to head into the incursion tunnel. 

I had to walk hunched over to keep from smacking my head on the ceiling. There were spaces occasionally that were tall enough to let me stand up and rest my back. Chelsea and her parents eventually gave up and headed back to the access tunnel so they would have enough time to walk back up before our bus left. I wanted to see the Underground Border. There was a line waiting to look through the small window. 

In the wall was an archway walling off the tunnel. A one foot square peephole was installed in the wall. I had to look through from about 4 feet back because there was a roll of razor wire across the floor of the tunnel. To keep tourists from cutting themselves on the wire there were red Christmas lights wrapped with the razor wire. To the right of the peephole was a small access door, bolted shut and padlocked a couple times. Looking into the peephole I could see the wall on the North Side. It had a larger "window" and a door. The space between the two walls looked to be about 15 feet long. It was lit by a greenish light. I wondered what sort of contracts had to be drawn up to allow one of the soldiers to go in and change the lightbulb when it burned out.

Tomorrow I'll write about the last train station heading North and the Joint Security Area.

Saturday, August 4, 2012

BEDIA #4: The Simple Pleasures

Here's where my way of doing this Blog Every Day In August really works out for me. I had scheduled myself to write about my efforts to find a job. That's an important topic for me and one I would normally be glad to explore. 

The other day I came up with a wonderful idea for a blog post, so I'm going to use it here. The idea? Well, it's in the title. I want to explore and explain some of the little things that I find very pleasurable.

I love popping bubble wrap. I'm not really sure why. I like it so much that I'm disappointed when something fragile comes wrapped in something other than bubble wrap. When I start popping the little bubbles, my body releases all sorts of endorphins and makes me happy. If I'm having a bad day, popping bubble wrap can turn the day completely around.

Along those lines, I really enjoy popping my zits. Especially when it explodes and sends the goo into the mirror, blemishing my reflection. I clean the mirror after, of course. If I pop a zit and it doesn't launch a projectile, I'm rather disappointed.

I don't like getting sunburned. It tends to be painful for an extended period of time. I do, however, enjoy the aftermath. I love it when a sunburn starts peeling. I get so much enjoyment out of peeling the dead skin off, going carefully to peel as large a piece as possible. I don't even mind when I peel the skin to far and expose skin that isn't ready to be exposed yet. 

The previous two make my eczema a joyful pain. It's a skin condition that gets worse with stress. It starts with tiny bubbles under the skin. Once these bubbles dry, they leave flaky, peeling skin behind. So there are bubbles I can pop and skin I can peel, all with the same condition? Perfect for me. 

I love getting into a bed made with freshly laundered sheets. If the sheets are cold, it's even better.

I love getting my hair cut, as long as the stylist doesn't talk to me. That's one of the most relaxing activities I do. Well, did, as I shave my head now.

I like standing in the rain without an umbrella. I love the smell of rain in Utah. It's different here than anywhere else I've been. When it rains I also love being inside, listening to the sound of the rain on the room. I like sitting near a window and reading a book while it rains.

I love eating ice cream in the middle of winter.

I love the scent of a book when I open it to read.

What are some of your simple pleasures?


Friday, August 3, 2012

BEDIA #3 Leaving Korea

It's a little surprising that I'm sitting in an apartment in Cedar City right now. I watch the Olympics as much as possible while searching for job openings on the internet. It sounds normal enough, but as recently as the end of May I was planning on staying in Korea until the end of October.

Teaching English in South Korea was a great opportunity. There was no rent to pay and Chelsea and I were each making a first-year teacher's salary. We enjoyed our jobs, for the most part, and we enjoyed our fellow teachers.

So what changed? Well, there were several factors. Poor decisions on the part of the administration of the English Village had caused the working conditions to go steadily downhill. The head teachers were trying to make things better, but weren't succeeding, mostly because they were mostly just saying "Yes" to whatever admin said. Due to a change in supervisor, Chelsea was dreading her job most days. And to top it off, my mother needed to have her hip replaced by the end of June, which meant my father would have to go into a care center for a while, as she could not take care of him while convalescing. 

Admin had dropped the ball and not had us sign contracts for the time we were planning to stay, so we told the HR guy that we would be ending our contracts on the original date, July 8. He asked if we could stay longer, even just to the end of July, but, citing my parents respective conditions, we said we couldn't.  That decision started a whirlwind of preparations. I had to open my position to election with enough time to train my replacement. Suitcases  had to be packed. Extra items shipped (literally, the six boxes sent home will arrive in October, roughly, as they were sent super-cheap by boat). We had to present our top three choices for flights to Admin so they would buy our tickets as specified in the contract. Once we had our tickets (straight from Seoul to Las Vegas!) we had to buy a ticket for our dog. We had to arrange to get our pensions. And much more. So much to do, while still working full time.

As word spread that we were leaving, we were approached by many teachers saying they wished we weren't going. I had joined an A Cappella group that was devastated by my impending departure as it left them with one bass voice. As we explained why we were going (my parents were the primary reason), people wished us the best. 

Coming home when we did has been a great decision. Chelsea found out she needed four semesters instead of three to finish her teaching degree. Now she can start in August. We got into a really good apartment. Chelsea got her old job back. 

As far as the English Village goes, I think we escaped just in time. All teachers are now required to work 9AM to 9PM two days a week, as admin oversold the programs and has not hired enough teachers to meet the need. Two foreign (non-Korean) teachers were fired because, well, it's a long story. Suffice to say it was not justified and proved to all other teachers that administration will not stand by their employees, even when the employee did nothing wrong. Everyone there is scrambling to make ends meet and try to make the best of it. I wish them the best, but I feel my early departure was fortuitous. 

In spite of the stress of moving across the Pacific and trying to find a job, I am glad to be back. I like where I am right now and I have high hopes for the future. Plus, I get to watch the Olympics while I search the internet for jobs.

Thursday, August 2, 2012

BEDIA #2 The Olympics

Wouldn't you know it: Day Two of a month-long personal challenge and I have a day where I just do not feel like writing a post of any sort. I'm going to anyway. Take that, Stupid Feelings of Not Wanting to Write.

So, the Olympics have been running for almost a week now. I love watching the Olympics. It brings out all my feelings of patriotism and pride in my country. 

I remember when I was a kid that I hated when the Olympic year came around. It was a big year. Leap Year. Winter and Summer Olympics. Presidential Election. Lots of stuff happening. The Olympics irritated me, even though we watched the events as a family. I didn't like the Olympics because they messed with my cartoon viewing schedule. Although it seems alien now, back then each channel had its own selection of morning and afternoon cartoons. The Olympics happening threw off my viewing schedule. 

In 1996 I was serving a mission for my church in Peru. I was about halfway through my first month when the Summer Olympics started. I was still adjusting to the food I was eating and had spent the entire day trying to convince my stomach to accept some broth. When the evening arrived, I felt like I was going to vomit. I managed to communicate this to my companion, who spoke no English, so he said we could sit in a church member's house for a little bit until I felt better. This church member wanted to make us feel at home, so (He? She? I can't remember. I'll stick with he.) he rolled out his TV and turned on the Opening Ceremonies, because this was something happening in my home country. It was an amazing opening. It was the first chance that I (and the world) got to hear John Williams' amazing "Summon the Heroes." It was an achingly beautiful song that made me cry. It's still one of my favorite instrumental pieces. About forty five minutes in, I ran downstairs to the toilet and puked my guts out. I felt two hundred times better after that, so my companion and I left and went to fulfill some appointments we had. A couple weeks later I got to watch the Closing Ceremonies too, quite by chance. 

Four years ago  I had just moved from Mesa, AZ to Springville, UT. I didn't have a job, or an apartment, but my sister was kind enough to let me live with her family until I got things figured out. As I was job-searching, I had plenty of time on my hands to watch all the televised events with my sister and whoever else was at home. My sister and I would stay up until 3AM watching the late, late events from Beijing. It was a fun time that brought us closer together.

Now I'm searching for a job again and enjoying the London Games. It has been a lot of fun and very emotional for me. The kid I was way back when would never have believed that he would enjoy the Olympics as much as I do now.


Wednesday, August 1, 2012

To Blog Every Day in August...

I'm calling it BEDIA. 

This is an inherited idea. A friend of mine, Brandon, did this in May. He got the idea from a friend of his. 

When I read that Brandon was going to blog every day in May, I thought it was a fun idea. It seemed like a lot of work, but that it might come with many rewards. My only concern was the content. I didn't want to have days where I was blogging just to keep with the goal. I wanted to make sure I had something to say.

So I started writing down blog ideas. I was super-busy at work and with life, so I wasn't dedicating much time to blogging. It just wasn't a priority. So every time I had an idea I thought worth pursuing in a blog I would write it down.

Now I'm ready. I have ideas for each day. I've even written out a calendar of what I'll write. I'm not going to keep myself chained to those ideas; if I have a better idea one day, I'll pursue that. However, this way I have something to say every day.

It won't be boring. At least I hope it won't be.

As for why I want to do this, well, I need to develop better writing habits. Blogging every day will help me warm up for the writing I want to do. It will help me relax into the writing process. Most importantly, it will help me come up with ideas for stories and essays and poems. Writing helps me get ideas for more writing. I don't know if it's the same for other writers, but I would imagine that it is.

So there you go. I'm going to blog every day this month. I'm looking forward to it and I hope I write something you enjoy reading. If it goes well, I may make this a regular feature. Not every month, but maybe every quarter? Or twice a year, that's do-able.

Friday, June 15, 2012

Shake It Up...

...seems to fit my life pretty well. 

"Shake It Up" is a song by Florence + the Machine. It's a great song. Every time it comes on my iPod I repeat it several times.

Also, lots of changes are happening in my life, but more on those in a moment.

Chelsea's parents went home on Monday. It was a nice visit and I'm glad they came. I enjoyed spending some time with them. I hope they feel the same about me. 

We went to various places here in Korea. The DMZ, Seoul Tower, Namdaemun Market, and many others. 

The whole time I felt like I was under a microscope. I felt like I was being judged. And, based on a couple things Chelsea said, it wasn't just my overactive imagination talking.

I don't think my in-laws understand me. At all. And it makes sense. Chelsea, her parents, and both of her sisters are all extroverts, to one degree or another. Me? I'm an introvert, close to the far end of the scale. The only other introvert their family knows is the first son-in-law. And he's nowhere near as introverted as I am.

I've learned a lot about myself recently. Mostly that it's ok to be the way that I am and that it's ok to say, "I don't want to do that. I need some alone time," when I just can't be around people anymore. And by "people" I mean "more than just me and Chelsea." If I push it too much I get overwhelmed and will completely shut down. That's no good to anyone.

I could list specific examples of where I was judged and explain what happened, but that would have great trouble-causing potential. 

The in-laws' visit was fun. There were times I laughed with them. Times I laughed at them (gently, of course, and all in love). Times I just shook my head. Times I was extremely embarrassed. So, it was probably like any visit anyone has every had with their in-laws. Right?

Shake It Up.

The biggest change in my life is the decision to go home next month, rather than extend my contract with the English Village until October.

The principal reason for this decision is the health of my parents. My father is going into a care center on Sunday. My Mom can't take care of him for the next while as she is having her hip replaced on the 29th.

After talking with Chelsea, we decided it was best to be as close as we can, so we can help out a little. At least close enough that a visit is an hour's drive, not a 15-hour flight.

There are other reasons to go. Far too numerous to list. We feel it's the best decision and we're just working to make it happen at work.

Shake It Up.

Now we have to find an apartment. I need a job. I need to keep to a good writing schedule and find somewhere to get published. Then I need to apply for graduate school.

There's a lot that needs to happen over the next little while.

Hope I'm up to the challenge.


Sunday, June 3, 2012

They're Here!

Chelsea's parents came for visit for twelve days.

My mother was originally going to come with them until she discovered that she needed surgery on her hip as bone is rubbing against bone. It's very painful and she uses a walker to get around the house. Dashing madly through the airport would not have been fun. Nor would all the walking we are doing while Chelsea's parents are here.

They started having crazy adventures while still in the Las Vegas airport. Their flight from Las Vegas to San Francisco got cancelled, even though it was a full flight. So they scrambled madly to find another way so they could meet their connecting flight. 

Well, they didn't. They ended up flying to Los Angeles, while their luggage went to San Francisco. From LA they flew to Tokyo, with a continuing flight to Seoul. They finally got here, only 5 hours behind their originally scheduled arrival time. That's not too bad, considering the nightmare they went through just trying to get on the plane. 

Their luggage arrived the next evening. 

While they're here, we're going to try to give them as much of a taste of Korea as we can. Lots of walking, sight-seeing, and just having fun. That's the plan anyway.

It's nice to have them here. I've been in Korea long enough that I've kind of lost interest in trying to figure out what cool place to see next. I'm a bit of a homebody anyway, but getting settled in doesn't bring out the adventurer in me. 

Saturday, June 2, we went to visit the Korean War Memorial. There was some sort of benefit concert going on while we were there, so we got to hear lots of music. We didn't go inside the on-site museum, but we didn't really need to. There was plenty to see and do on the grounds, all free of charge.

The grounds are beautiful and arranged very attractively. What was probably most exciting thing for me were the displays of all the different vehicles used in the war. They had planes of every shape and size. Tanks in assorted colors and varieties. Rocket launchers. Machine guns. Even a couple of boats (along with a North Korean semi-submarine). As soon as I saw the myriad war machines, I knew what I was hoping to see. And I saw it:

Yeah, it's missing it's main rotors; they're lying next to the short fence near the trees.

That's right. I saw and took a picture with the M*A*S*H medical evacuation helicopter. Just like the ones you see in the opening credits of the TV series. The only thing that would have made the photo more of a geek moment for me would have been if I was wearing my M*A*S*H t-shirt. I might go back, just to take that picture.

I've really been enjoying this visit from my in-laws so far. Today we're taking them to Namdaemun, the outdoor market. I love that market and I'm excited to go back.

I'm sure there will be more on this visit later on.


Saturday, May 19, 2012

Ojo the Lucky...

...is the name of a character in my favorite book: "The Patchwork Girl of Oz" by L. Frank Baum.

He starts out as Ojo the Unlucky for a variety of reasons, but by the end of the book comes to be known as Ojo the Lucky.

Ojo is also the name that Chelsea picked out for our new dog!

Here's Ojo!
We adopted him from his foster home. His foster lady was sad to be giving him away after a year, but she is going home to Canada for a couple months, then to Hong Kong for a new job and she wanted a more stable home for the poor guy. She called him Harry, but we knew a Harry here at the village and didn't think it suited the dog.

He's about 5 years old and (we believe) a Westie/Jindo mix. He also seems to be a bit "special needs." He's deathly afraid of stairs and heights. We have to pick him up to go down the stairs in our apartment building, but he tries to jump out as he doesn't like being carried. Once outside he perks right up. Wags his tail, gives himself a full-body shake and is off to explore.

He doesn't mind meeting people, and is patient when children pet him, but he would rather just do his own thing. He hasn't barked or growled or anything since we brought him home.

About the only thing that's gone wrong since we picked him up from the foster lady is that he had an accident on the way to Paju from Seoul. We rode the subway for a while and our bus was waiting when we exited the subway so we jumped on. I wish we could have let him out for a bit, but I didn't know of any park areas near the bus stop and traffic makes Ojo extremely nervous, so I think we made the right choice.

We just need to give him a bath. 

I'm a cat person, to be honest, but I rather like Ojo. Of course, a lot of his mannerisms are cat-like. He likes to rub his head against your leg or foot or whatever he's walking past. He's rather stubborn. 

I quite like Ojo. Glad we found him.

Exploring his new home for the first time and checking out the fool with the camera.


Tuesday, April 3, 2012

15 Albums...

...that will always stick with me.

A friend posted a note on Facebook a while back listing 15 albums (records) that will always stick with him, with a challenge for everybody who read to do the same. These are off the top of your head albums that you always enjoy listening to or that tie into specific memories of times of your life.

I liked the idea and posted my fifteen, even though I knew I would be on the receiving end of some mockery. I like what I like. After some thought, I decided to write about my choices and how they influenced me. This may be a multi-part post, but I hope I can get it in one. 

This isn't to defend my choices, rather explain why they are important to me. 

1. Hootie and the Blowfish: Cracked Rear View.  This album came out while I was in high school. My group of friends listened to it constantly. It has a great mix of mellow and upbeat songs, and the lead singer has a great voice, right in my range. 

2. The Oak Ridge Boys: Step On Out. I've mentioned this album here before. I had this one on tape, and I completely wore it out. It won't even attempt to play anymore. I love the songs. Even more importantly, listening to the Oaks made me want to sing. I wanted to be Richard Sterban (the bass) when I grew up. My genetics didn't give me his lower register, but I still sing bass in choirs and I love singing.

3.  The Manhattan Transfer: Very Best Of.  The Transfer are a great vocal jazz quartet. Smooth, cool, and with a great blend. They know how to sing. This album evokes my time in the audition choir of my high school. I always felt like it was a huge stroke of luck that I got in to the choir, and I learned a lot while I was there.

4. Bon Jovi: Crossroads.  The band's greatest hits album. Another that my group of friends listened to in high school. I still enjoy listening to Bon Jovi, and Always, the new single from this album, is still a song I love.

5. Maná: Sueños Líquidos. THE great Mexican rock band. This was the first album of theirs that I bought after returning home from my mission to Peru. Still one of my favorite bands and this album is still one of my favorites from their catalog. I'm always excited when I find out they have a new album on the way.

6. Shakira: Pies Descalzos
7. Shakira: ¿Dónde Están los Ladrones? I knew putting two albums by the same artist was a minor faux pas, but I went with my gut instinct on these two. Shakira was just becoming popular in Latin America while I was in Peru. I heard her songs everywhere. These are her best albums, especially since her music changed quite a bit when she started doing English albums. The songs here are simpler and more heartfelt. And there are several really amazing tunes as well. Good stuff.

8. Meat Loaf: Bat Out of Hell 2: Back into Hell. Man do I love some Meat Loaf. Guy has a good voice and the song progression on his albums is great. This came out while I was in high school. Still love the CD and "I Would Do Anything For Love"? Epic.

9. Elton John: The Lion King. Great soundtrack. Amazing songs. My friends and I drove an hour and a half to St. George to see the movie on opening night. The opening song, "Circle of Life," ends with a huge boom from the drums and shows the movie title. A kid sitting in the row in front of us turned to his mother and asked, "Is it over already?" Cracked us up.

10. Billy Joel: River of Dreams. What an album! So many great songs. Again, released during my formative years of high school. I love me some Billy Joel, and this album is tops. The title track, Lullabye, All About Soul, all great tunes with some great philosophical and emotional content. Love it.

11. Enya: Shepherd Moons. Another high school album. Enya's music is achingly beautiful, haunting. It tends to immerse you in the moment. The entire album is great, but of particular note are Caribbean Blue, Book of Days and How Can I Keep From Singing. I tend to relate particularly well with the latter.

12. Evanescence: Fallen. This album was a revelation for me. It hasn't held up over the years since its release, but it showed me that there are bands out there that combine two of my favorite elements of music: a great singing voice and the driving drum beats and music of rock. This has lead me to two of my current favorite groups: Issa and Halestorm. 

13. Vocal Point: Instruments Not Included. Another high school album, but important for much more than that. This was my introduction to great a cappella music. I can't spell it, but I love it. I have three gigabytes of a cappella music in my iTunes library, and I'm always on the lookout for more. I even recently joined an a cappella group here in Korea, and it has been lots of fun.

14. 1986 London Cast: The Phantom of the Opera. Sarah Brightman is amazing on this album. This album was part of the reason I came to love musical theater so much. I can't put into words how influential this album was.

15. Sara Bareilles: Kaleidoscope Heart. I love this album. Most of the tracks make me emotional. Everybody has that one album that they feel was written about them. This is the album written about me. It's almost scary how much I relate to it.

There you go.

Sunday, March 25, 2012

An Odd Occurence

The power flickered last night. 

Not a big deal, really. It reset the clock we have in the bedroom. Oh, and it turned on the heaters in both rooms. 

We always turn the overhead heaters off before going to bed as I can't sleep with hot air blowing in my face and, well, we sleep under warm covers. For the coldest months we used a space heater to help keep the room bearable for my wife, whose body doesn't run as warm as mine does.

Anyway, I woke up early this morning, about 4:30, and had to go to the bathroom. I zombied back into bed. Then the overhead heater kicked on. "I didn't turn it on," said Chelsea, a little defensively  (to my ears anyway). 

I lay in bed for a few minutes, too lazy to want to get up and turn off the heater. I was hoping I could sleep with it on, but no luck. So I got up and turned off the bedroom heater. I could still hear a blowing sound, so I opened the bedroom door and turned off the unit in the other room.

Just a little weird. Usually power flickers turn things off, not on.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012


I turned 35 today.

I may be a bit young for this mentality, but I tend to ignore my birthdays as much as possible. When Chelsea asked if I was excited for my birthday, I quoted Vanessa Carlton, "Just a day, just an ordinary day." 

My principal reason for not making a big deal out of my birthday is that I am an introvert. I just don't like all the attention. If I am able to, I will usually take the day off of work. This year that wasn't an option, as I have plans for my vacation days.

I know that other people enjoy making a fuss about the person who is having a birthday. I usually try not to advertise my birthday, so I can avoid the fuss. Facebook has prevented this. So I've learned to be gracious and thank people for their well-wishes.

At the English Village, we have the students as questions of the teachers they've not had before. A popular question is "how old are you?" I've told my students this week that I am 34, but will be 35 this week. It takes them a moment to realize that I'm having a birthday. Then they clap. Last night, one girl told me, "Have a happy birthday tomorrow." It was very kind and thoughtful of her to remember.

I still don't think my birthday is a big deal, but I appreciate the thoughts of others.

Friday, March 9, 2012

Sergeants 3...

...is an interesting film.

I just watched it for the first time. From what I've read, it's a western remake of Gunga Din, starring the Rat Pack. I've never seen Gunga Din, so I can't comment on that aspect of the film. It was a fun movie, though. I actually felt like the acting was pretty solid. 

It made me a little bit homesick. Sergeants 3 was filmed in Southern Utah, specifically Bryce Canyon National Park and the canyons and area surrounding Kanab, UT. I grew up in Kanab. I recognized most of the scenery. Even knew a couple of the canyons. There was a lot of "Oh, I've been there quite a few times."

I decided to watch this movie because I've heard about it repeatedly throughout my life. My father was an extra during the filming of the movie. I watched for his face and never picked it out of the crowds. 

Whenever my dad talked about this movie, he had a very low opinions of the stars. The only member of the Rat Pack that he thought was a good guy was Sammy Davis Jr. Dad thought the other guys were jerks, to put it politely. 

Overall, it was fun to watch. I felt it was a little light on plot, that the story needed a little fleshing out, but it was worth a watch, even if you only watch it to try and pick out the face of a particular extra during the crowd scenes.


Sunday, February 12, 2012


...are my favorites part of going to church.

In my church, the congregation sings hymns as a regular part of the worship services. Every week, as a group, we sing three to four hymns during the hour-long Sacrament Meeting.

I love it. Something I figured out about myself a long, long time ago is that I feel closer to God through music. That's how I worship. I enjoy singing, and it's something I'm good at. 

The chorister (the person who leads the congregation in singing the hymns) in the branch I attend is something of an elitist when it comes to music. She tends to choose more obscure hymns that nobody knows and when she deigns to choose a hymn that everyone knows well, she sings her own descant, belting out notes above the rest of the congregation.

Last week, after the first verse of the rest hymn we were singing, she stopped the hymn and told us we were singing it incorrectly. That really irritated me, enough that I left the room for the duration of the hymn. With how I feel about music, it felt like she told me I was worshiping wrong. I didn't like it.

Yesterday, as I got ready to sing the opening hymn, I noticed that the chorister was absent. Yay! All the hymns we were going to sing were hymns that I knew and loved. Double yay! I was really enjoying myself. 

Apparently she was just late to services, as she showed up to direct the rest hymn. As the congregation was standing, she made her way directly to the podium to give us some thoughts on what the hymn means. I thought that was unnecessary, and couldn't figure out why she was doing that until I realized that she was hinting how to sing the hymn correctly.

This time, I stuck around to sing the hymn, mostly because she didn't stop us after one verse to correct us. 

Now, I've been in choirs since I hit puberty in the eighth grade. If I'm in a choir and the director wants the song sung a particular way, that's fine. That's what choirs do. A congregation is NOT a choir. 

Okay, this rant's over. There may be another, but I'm not sure.

Thursday, January 26, 2012

My Reading Tastes

Anybody who knows me, or who has read this blog, knows that I love to read. It's one of my favorite activities and has been for as long as I can remember. 

Growing up, every member of my family loved to go to their own corner of the house and read. My older brother is famous for disappearing, only to be found reading in some odd spot, like, say, the woodpile. It was what we did.

I get attached to the characters in the books I read. That's why I read books over and over again. I like discovering new books, but it can be scary. I hate being disappointed by something I read, so it's easier to keep reading what I've read before. 

Out of all the genres, my absolute favorite is Fantasy. I don't like Science Fiction, which often gets lumped together with Fantasy. I think I make the taste distinction because most science fiction is based on some scientific fact or possibility, whereas fantasy is most often pure imagination. 

I like the escapist nature of Fantasy. I like visiting worlds where good and evil are fairly well defined. I like that a normal person can wake up one day with magical powers and save the world. It's a nice feeling. 

And Fantasy taps into daydreams and, well, fantasies that I have. The last work of science fiction that did that was the movie the Matrix. I've often wondered, "What if this life is a dream and I just can't wake up?" I don't often dream of laser guns and flying through space. I dream of seeing the world around me in a new light. I dream of tapping into the elemental forces of the world and using that power to create something wonderful and new. 

Not too long ago, I discovered a new sub-genre of Fantasy: Urban Fantasy. These are tales of magic and mythology that take place in the real world. These creatures that people think are just legends and myths are real, they've just been in hiding, waiting for a chance to step into the light and be accepted. Or they are struggling to maintain the secret of their existence. This again ties into my daydreams and fantasies. I like to think, "What if these creatures and people were real and had to exist in the real world? How would wizards and dragons and vampires and werewolves deal with technology and a population that doesn't believe they can exist?"

I love Fantasy. I want to write Fantasy. I make forays into other realms of fiction, but I always come back to the realm of the impossible, so that I can dream and wish that I lived in that sort of world.

Sunday, January 1, 2012

What It Feels Like...

...when I am depressed.

It usually takes me a while to figure out I'm actually depressed. Sometimes it can take days. Usually, the quicker I figure it out, the quicker I can get over it. 

I know that depression is rather baffling for those who don't suffer from it, so I thought I would try and explain how my depression feels to me. I realize it is different for everyone, but I imagine that there are aspects that are similar, if not the same.

When I am in the middle of a depression, it feels rather like I am in the middle of a dense emotional fog. Any plans that I have for the future feel like they're rather unlikely to succeed, because I can't see that far ahead anymore. I try to stay on track, but it's hard to see the path and know where it's going. Even more immediate endeavors that are successful surprise me. About all I can see and cope with are my immediate decisions and actions. For someone, like me, who likes to plan ahead and choose my actions carefully, this state of mind is rather stressful.

I begin to fear talking to other people. Not because I'm worried about what they'll say to me, but because I'm worried about what I'll say to them.  See, I'm an intelligent and clever person. Sometimes the first thing I think of as a response isn't very nice. It's clever, but not nice. While depressed, I can't always filter what I say, and I don't want to ruin a potentially long-lasting friendship because I'm depressed.  Plus, generally, I try to be careful of the feelings of those around me. If I can't be sure of how someone will react to what I'm going to say, it feels safer to just withdraw into myself until I'm more in control of my words.

I find myself getting bored very easily, yet I find myself possessing a kind of nervous energy. I feel like I should be occupied with something, but can't focus. It's distracting and has a tendency to make me rather irritable.

When reading or watching a TV show or movie, I like to get emotionally involved in the characters. At least, while I'm in a normal state of mind. When I'm depressed, I can get too involved in the characters and it can have rather surprising consequences for me.  About eight years ago, the seventh season of Buffy the Vampire Slayer had just come out on DVD. I had missed watching the show while it was being broadcast, so I was very excited to finish off the series. Of course, I was in the middle of a depression and was a little too involved. During the course of the season, a character that had been around since the very first episode got his eye poked out rather maliciously by one of the season's villains. At the end of the episode where that happened, I came back to myself huddled up in the fetal position, crying my eyes out. I could barely breathe. Now I choose what I entertain myself with very carefully when I'm feeling down.

My last observation is that, while depressed, it's not that I can't feel happy. I do sometimes. It's more like there's a damper on my more positive emotions. If I hear something that would normally make me laugh, I'll usually just smile. If it would make me smile, my mouth will twitch. I still enjoy the same things, my enjoyment is just reduced.

So that's it. If i observe other effects the next time I'm depressed, I'll try to make note of it and make a post about it.