a brief reflection

Ah man, back at it again. It’s been longer than I intended. I was with some classic friends the past weekend and the blog got brought up. I recall at least Biddle half-jokingly saying how an entry is something he has to set out time in his day in order to read. I don’t doubt the time consumption that is associated with reading these things, so with that said, it takes me that much longer just to write anything. I have had a lot I’ve wanted to say, but I haven’t yet wanted to take out the time to say any of it until now.

I want to take the time out to actually talk about my life in a daily, almost journalistic manner. I’d consider that a departure from my usual ramblings. As I previously alluded to, I hung out with some old, good friends this past weekend. It isn’t like I haven’t seen most of them pretty recently. I’ll admit, pretty much all of them I haven’t seen enough of when I have seen them, though. This was one of the few times we got a big group together though. Oh, before I forget, I’ll note that these were my Belmont friends, most specifically, people I lived with an intimate manner for a couple years.

There is something to be said for that– the whole dorm experience. Being pretty far removed from those years then reconnected for a couple of hours really goes a long way for reminding myself just what that bond really is.  It’s the full flavor of feelings. On one hand, it is sad on a lot of levels. A lot of these people I was with, Poop, Biddle, Horse, Cheese, Joyce dudes(jajaja) like that, I mean, there was a day and time in my life where each one of those dudes was literally a brother of mine. I’m not sayin that I don’t think that of them anymore, or disowned anyone, but that connection just isn’t as strong as it once was in some cases– more on a throughput level– I know given some time and consistency that’s easy to get flowing, but it sputters and spikes otherwise. Or a guy like Tough Guy, who could decide to move to Antarctica and never be heard from again, but would still be a legendary figure in my life of mythical proportions. It is just sad what becomes of us and our relationships over time, because they change. People change. Our relationships with people change. We change. Everything changes, yet we take what we have when we have it for granted.. this never changers. I really do miss those days though, I miss the people, the characters, the personalities, the escapades, and so on. Before I go the other direction, might I also point out, the writers of LOST would tell you that is exactly what their show was about. Too bad they spent the rest of the show making everyone believe it was more about some crazy island and things that, when spoken about out loud, make you sound like an Nebuchadnezzar crawling through the desert howling out inanities.

There is also sweeter side of the emotional flavor spectrum. For one, it was really great to just sit there in the middle of all these people and really see how grown up everyone is. Not that I advocate growing up, I think it sucks and if you do too much of it your life will be over, but more that pretty much everyone is on their feet pretty solidly post college, even though we are all still figuring so many things out. It makes me really happy for everybody, though. Plus it was nice to spend an afternoon doing something that a few of us tended to always poke fun at, “being Belmont.” Something vaguely constituted by somethign so simple as just hanging out with fellow Belmontian’s in the area, in this case, McDougal’s (we all know Hillsboro Village is the crux of our Belmont essence.)

Initially, I had planned on continuing this entry into an entirely different subject, but instead, I think it is just better to leave it as a small reflection. I could go on and on into all of my thoughts and feelings and talk about specific people that I feel deserve at least that much from me, but that is perhaps for another time.

Instead, I abruptly, awkwardly end this.

 

Three years ago today

Three years ago today, well, actually I’m a day off, but to me it’s still the 16th because I’ve yet to go to sleep..

Three years ago today I bought a bunch of kids valentines. For twenty-some-odd of them I wrote each of them to you, one for each year, reconstructing in my head for each year what I’d likely write to my Valentine for each year. It was a taller task than I had envisioned in my head, but after what totaled near two hours I completed them. In a way, I poured out 21 years of my heart into them. Even as a child, I never got these foolish kids valentines in school. It seems like even the kids who brought them for the entire class still forgot one for me. I was satisfied with my work, which was good, because it was time for our night by the time I had finished.

We met in the dorm. If I were more awake and less delirious, I bet I could remember every tiny detail about you, but in my basically drunken state, all I recall is that you appeared, to my eyes, like the perfect cut out, as always– you were as beautiful as ever. Of course, this only made me more nervous. I would have to compensate by being more ridiculous than usual to cover it up. We got to my car and that was when I blitzed you with my Valentine assault. We both hate Valentine’s day, it’s a shallow holiday, but this meant a lot to the both of us. You received it better than I had hoped. I was 1 for 1 with a homerun already. I then fired up the playlist of really old French songs, which seemed apt not 0nly because you were a former music turned French major, but French songs are romantic. Lord knows what they are saying, and they may not even sound good, but it hits the right mood.

We ate. Not Italian, like we’d hoped, but that’s ok, we ate plenty of Italian in our time together following, because we never were not in the mood for Italian. That was fine though, Zoe’s or whatever we ate was fine because it was with you. You also enjoyed the fact that it wasn’t crowded as much as me. Persepolis. That was the name of the comic turned movie that we saw that night. Like many things that night, it too was French or France related. It still makes me sad that it was the only time I’ve seen it, it was good, and it will always remind me of that night and you, but now I guess watching it would be a bad idea. I remember holding your hand during practically the entire thing. I’ll be honest, hand holding is arduous through an entire movie, but it is funny to say; I had always admired your hands. They seemed to be an extension of your gentle personality. They are. I had been envisioning this for months by this point. Even if it was cliche, even if by the time we had been dating for a while we didn’t hold hands during an entire movie, we did for Persepolis. I wouldn’t have had it any other way. Such a strange symbolism, holding hands. When you’re young, it’s practical. Your mom or older sister might hold your hand to keep you close and together, to make you feel secure. When you have romantic inclinations it is more of a unification thing, weird how the associations are just what they are– different. There is no gradual shift or learning of this other symbolic weight the gesture carries, we just assume it.

Three years ago today that movie ended, but it was still very early in the night. Plus a movie is something one might do on a date, but it lacks necessary interaction. We ended up going to the Natchez Trace that night. It wasn’t warm, but it wasn’t cold. It was partly cloudy, but more on the clear end rather than cloudy. The moon was very present, and the mixture of shadow and illumination on the sprawling, flat clouds combined with the starry patches for a pleasant picture to gaze at. It was around that place and moment that we first kissed. Considering the months of build up and waiting for you to come around on me, it was about time, no?

We didn’t get back to school until sometime after 1 AM. Of course there was that trip to Jack in the Box that preceded it. I have a habit of having an accelerated appetite on dates, especially those initial ones. It must be the nerves. Crazy to think that back then it seemed insurmountable to get you to eat junk food with me, it was always a salad, two grains of rice and algae for you, miscreant. Over time, I trained you well, though. I remember walking back into the dorms with a milkshake in hand, and you by my side. Everyone was still up. Everyone was still in the lobby. It was almost annoying, because I didn’t expect it. I wanted to float back inside, kiss you good night and continue hovering, much like a wisp, and drift into my bed directly to sleep, as if I had been dreaming the entire time. This way, when I woke up the next morning, I’d have to separate reality from fantasy, and be overcome with the joyous epiphany of my great fortune. It was ok though, I didn’t get that, but the crowd in the lobby was a reminder of the support I’d gotten along the way. Plus I played the rest of it out like I wanted after we hung out with everyone for a while.

From that day we spent every day aspiring to be as close to one as possible. We were eachother’s.

And if some things, mainly myself, been just a little different, we’d have been together today, looking back on that night three years ago. That is both a really long time and also a very small amount of time. I guess if I had known that three years from that night, that you’d have completely removed me from my life, I would have never had that night. It wasn’t worth that much loss. Yes, I know I ended that special bond between us, but I wasn’t trying to end us as a whole. I guess I have to play the villain sometimes. I believe that I’ve been miscast though, maybe one day that will be corrected.

I guess I am writing this partially to reflect, to reminisce on fragments of a very close, warm memory of mine. Partially because the nightmares have been coming back. You’ve been in my dreams a lot lately. We often try to meet each other, but obstacles and unbelievable trials always get in the way. I caught fire in my last dream! By the time I had extinguished the flames you had left without me, and gone to the place we had planned on going. I tried to get there myself, but got hopelessly lost. Not only did I not find you, but I didn’t make it back home either.

Speaking outside of the context of a stupid dream, wherever home is, I am far from it. I don’t know anything anymore. The first month being out of a relationship was basically my first month alive that I spent being asexual– at least, that’s how it felt. Being sucked in to something so intensely and for such a prolonged amount of time, I fear that I lost my ability to interact with a female of any sort. Even now, I haven’t gotten much of it back. I guess I’m still rehabilitating. Any of these female types that I previously knew were about the closest I could find in terms of interaction. I guess it is just one of those things where prior memories remove any occlusion on this interaction, like finding an old comfortable place. Yet, even so, it only has helped so much anyway. I still feel limited even in these instances anyway. Everyone is so settled down. It seems everyone is so hellbent on being as far away from alone as possible. Are we really that insecure? Are we really in that much of a rush to have the rest of our life bound, in metallic glow, around our finger? Life expectancy in our society is astronomically high compared to what it was even in the last century– the rest of our life is a long time. Shouldn’t we live some of it ourselves before we commit to it together? You would think we would tend to let the proportions of this extension mirror these monumental changes in our lives, but it seems like a good chunk of my generation is actually quicker than the prior in this regard. Are we really that vain that everywhere I look, an acquaintance, a comrade, a close friend is continuing their line; miniature versions of themselves wound up and set down to roam the earth, likely repeating their days under the same veil of ordinary-hood that their parents have settled down under? Don’t get me wrong, I’m happy for all of these people. Close friends, acquaintances, strangers and the like, but that doesn’t mean it doesn’t annoy me at the same time.

I just can’t be sucked in. I can’t be strapped down. I’m not trying for anything either. I just want to be me. I still want to spend time with you. I still like seeing all of you, but you’re a drag, too. If you’re a girl and you’ve tethered yourself to someone, we can’t hang out. Not because I’m some sort of threat to that tethering, that’s just ridiculous, but rather just because of protocol. Because I’ve had my share of protocol and headaches and insecure parties causing fits over nothing, and I don’t want to risk anyone being in that position. Because it just isn’t worth it to me. I don’t want to see you if I have to be on my guard anyway. Not alone, not in a group. Because your intended life path is so clearly written out for me to see. We’re headed in different directions. It works for even my guy friends too, though. For instance, there is almost a guarantee that we won’t be able to get into anything that we’d look back on and just fawn over how crazy it was. It isn’t the craziness that is good, it is the potential for craziness. Life is unpredictable. Unpredictability is a necessity.

I will admit, I’ve had time to readjust to this concept of being single again. I’m getting a grasp on things. I already knew one thing for sure:

There will be no relationships. Not in Houdini’s foreseeable future. It’d be nice if everyone could just automatically understand that about me. Why would I anyway? The only woman I needed in my life in that way, I had. I let her go not because she wasn’t adequate in that regard, but just because I wasn’t fitting into the constructs of a relationship– or at least headed, quite rapidly, in that direction.

With that said, I miss genuine friendships with the opposite sex. I spend a couple of years, to nobodies fault, yet still largely my own doing, alienating the good friends I had that were girls. And now I am in a place where I must fix this absence, granted, I had never wanted to distance myself to begin with. Things just turn out like that do sometimes. While I have come back around, I find that I can only remain in the periphery of pretty much all of these women, at best. Periphery is not good enough for me. I have half a mind to have a screw you mentality about it if I can only be a blip on your radar, a flash of motion on the outskirts of your vision. I’ve spent enough time being on the outer perimeter of your lives anyway. Forget that I spent all that time knocking on the gates of the castle, I really am sorry for everyone who encountered the same when things were flipped around, but I’ve knocked and begged to be let in enough. The nice thing about peripheral vision is that it is easy for me to be out of sight and disappear completely. So I plan on that.

I don’t know where that leaves me though. There are still enough of these specific types of friendships for me to successfully mend, but I have too many fears or concerns, I think. For one, I fear that I’ve entered into a more shallow phase in my life. I guess maybe I’ve always had that shallowness, and I just hid it well, even from myself. It is kind of like when I tell people I’m not nice.

You might think I’m nice, but I’m not. I was just raised that way. The ‘me’ that I know is not a very nice guy, at all. He just isn’t the me that anyone else knows.

I also have concerns that pre-existing friendships are too easily boxed in. There are plenty of sides to me that people don’t see. Different people might see different sides, but generally, you know someone for long enough and you really can’t change up or open up too many more of those sides without it feeling or being weird. At least, I don’t know if it is worth coming off as acting unusual (in what is actually perfectly usual of myself) instead of just relying on what has always been expected out of a friendship.

Once again, you could pose that whole, “I’m really ready to move away from here,” campaign I’ve been on. I don’t want to go there, but it handles a lot of this. You have to meet new people. Everyone is a new, clean slate. I don’t have to feel forced into this pseudo faux nice guy act that I have hear, because everyone wouldn’t know me as that. Secondly, it seems easier to re-surround myself with those pesky penis-less friends we call women that way. I think because there is a tendency to go for the convenient. Convenient hear means sticking with what you already have, and also building off of what you already have. That element of convenience doesn’t seem to lend itself to the full array of friend-types I’d prefer.

You know what would be killer? Well for one, I think I have always gotten plenty emotionally when it has come to all of my close friends who were girls in my life. So yeah, that would be killer in a sense, because I know that at least I feel a lot more whole when I have closeness on every end of the spectrum, because the way I’m close with DUDE1 or DUDE2 is just going to be so vastly different than what it’d be with CHICK-A or CHICK-B. I think this is a given though, as in, it will be killer, because I’d be bound to make these connections again. So what would really be killer is the kind of girl who is just someone you can have fun with and hang out, get into whatever. This seems tricky in my mind, because I’d think that this type of female friend would have to come with a high level of closeness and emotional trust, but as soon as you do that you lend yourself for that higher emotional investment. Exactly what I’m trying to avoid. No relationships, remember? I know I wouldn’t be susceptible to this, but a single female emotion is about seventy-eight times more FIERCE than a male emotion. So I have to wonder, does this really even exist?

I guess this is something I will have to find out. These are just thoughts and concepts I’m trying to grasp in my head as someone who is still newly single, and someone who will be remaining that way indefinitely. Not that I even know how to cope with all of these feelings anyway, because as I alluded to earlier, the nightmares are back. Three years ago today.. and such and such. At the same time, I have to accept and continue to push for newer developments, yet drastically different developments, all while feeling like I’m notably my most shallow I’ve ever been in my life and having a bitter taste in my mouth towards a majority of my old friends, of whom I am responsible for the rift developing in the first place.

These are thoughts I have. These are feelings I have. And I will definitely have to continue rehabilitating my ability to interact with fema-sapiens again, such a touch in my life is one that I am starting to feel the absence of.

“Is that you John Wayne? Is this me?”

It might not be pretty. You might not like it, but

this is me (3000 words at a time).

this would’ve been better as drunken rambling..

Part 4 of ? – or why I’m an arrogant self-loathing prick of a gentleman

Sometimes I feel like not even I have any sort of understanding of myself. Given that, I can only imagine the level of understanding people who don’t have the luxury of sharing my thoughts have of me. Here is something that has always given me trouble, as well as currently leaves me totally jaded. I am going to base the following assumptions on my general perception of people I have known and the perception of others that various people have shared with me throughout the years. Naturally, my assessment is more opinion than anything and will likely be very skewed, but it is the best any of us have to work with.

Relative to most people I have encountered in my life, I feel like I am one of the more humble or perhaps modest people by far. I was just raised to be soft-spoken about myself, polite, unassuming and trust in the adage, “Pride before the fall”. It is just who I’ve been for as long as I can remember. I’ve had to wrestle with it a lot in my adult life. I don’t want to buy into or sell an air of false modesty or even being humble for the sake of being humble. I also have known plenty of people who really seem to have the whole concept down better than me. Formality kills me. Why? Because I get stuck in this whole formal zone for far too long. This kind of behavior is most dominant in the formal zone. Even in a highly familiar setting I tend to ride the humility parade more than any of the others. I think this wiring does insane, cruel things for my confidence, but this will only make sense in the context of the other half of it, so let’s get to that.

So you have this outwardly dominant persona of someone unassuming, always seeking to be modest before buying into oneself, but on the inside, where this megalopolis of personal thoughts reside lives a very different person. I don’t know how exactly I want to put this: I’m arrogant as piss, cocky as hell, probably a narcissist on some dire level… I have a really big head. Seriously, sometimes it feels like over half my thoughts contain some sort of notion of complete superiority over whoever may be in the same room with me. Two extremes, things I’d consider to be total opposites, one man, it can be like going East and West at the same time, oh wait, it always is like that. I’m a two headed monster with a sick addiction to headbutting.

So now we have this whole thing established: each separate and singular abilities, seeking out the path of greatest modesty while simultaneously holding a notion that I’m “better” than practically everyone around me. This has long affected every action I do, thing I say, or any other action I do that can be interpreted by someone external myself. It nearly always makes for a constant interior struggle anytime I’m in the public realm. Of course, you could say that it sounds like I’m just too self-affixated and as soon as I stop caring so much about myself that these issues would go away. I don’t think I’d go as far as to digress, but I also think that is somewhat oversimplifying. Along with that, I’d envision it being a straying away from an inward focus on multiple levels. For instance, I always want to make myself better. Everyday I’m alive, I need to seek some degree of self-improvement. Now that totally is going to lead to a tendency to be excessively self-obessesed, but on the other hand, I look at people individually, and entire populations and see that there is always so much to be desired; whether it be those who have achieved so much (I want to be like them), or those who could be so much more but settle for so little (I don’t want to be like them). So it is true that this desire to always improve can sometimes lead to too much self-focus, I’d much rather accept that risk than potentially be insulated from the whole reality that I can strive to be so much more than I am. Perhaps in this regard, I have already self-defeated… uhh, myself (realized how redundant that was, but it didn’t sound right without the redundancy). I just hold the belief that I can win this battle with a different approach.

How does one even reach a state of arrogance? I guess you’d have to take a step back first. Our society is obsessed with confidence, so I can only speak with true fluency in one culture, but in what little bits I know of sociology, psychology and more importantly, history, it seems that it is human nature to be drawn towards confidence. For whatever reason, we get concocted, cooked up and baked until we come out as these little baby things, then at some point, as we are developing the idea of natural desires on a sociopsychological level we are able to identify the ones who exude this abstract idea of confidence. Ok, actually I probably got some of that reversed. We see traits we like which have some sort of correlation to a confident individual, and at some point, assuming we fully develop our ability for abstract thought, we package it all together and realize that is what confidence in oneself is. Of course, when you look at it that way, it is apparent that confidence is easy to feign, because you only have to learn to emulate the parts that everyone else sees, while you can be a ruptured murder scene on the inside. I’d like to think that we all have done this or learned to do this on a basic level. I know that in the past I did it quite a lot, but I have trouble sustaining it.

We all want a champion to like. Look at some of the heroes of our time, the world adored Michael Jordan because he won and won, or Michael Jackson because he was a full-realization of his talents; they were “the best”. Ironically, when I was growing up I remember feeling disdain towards each of these men. I was sick of Michael Jordan always winning and didn’t think it was possible to quantify any man the best at anything. Michael Jackson certainly wasn’t making the songs that I loved the most, so how could he truly be king of anything? These were my thought processes as a kid, and while I eventually came to respect and appreciate the talents, abilities and accomplishments these two men brought, I never really shook the general unease toward someone who has everyone reason to be as arrogant as Alexander the Great heading into India after conquering the rest of his known world while making it look easy. Don’t misinterpret, I didn’t say that I have an unease for people who are arrogant, but that unease stretches out to people who should have some reason to be, even if they are the personification of humility and public service. In this light, you can go ahead and multiply my feelings on people who actually are over-confident. I have no doubts that this negative sentiment bleeds into general confidence. I think most people would agree that arrogant bastards are just that, arrogant bastards. They might even entertain us and amuse us from distance, why else do we celebrate legendary athletes and personalities such as Ali, Tyson or my personal favorite, The Football Player Formerly Known as Ochocinco? But I promise you this, none of us (and when I say none of us, I mean anyone sane or who’s mother didn’t do hard drugs during pregnancy) would want to regularly spend time in the same room with a person like that. There are different tolerances, but arrogance and pride grate me down to my last, brittle strands faster than about anything else I can think of off the top of my head. I just see the delusion that these people have, how overtly inaccurate they are with their assessment of themselves, the people they are immediately around and the entire population of the past, present and future.

Given that, I can confidently (arrogance!) say that my sense of humility can’t be false, because I am constantly aware that there has to be someone better than me in every possible facet, that there were in the past and will be in the future. More importantly, that, once again, good, better, best can’t be quantified. In my head I have some BS general score that I just estimate in my head, it usually comes out as a percentage for some reason. I’ve never actually thought a literal number though, I just think about myself and person X or Y and I feel this idea of this percentage. What do they do well? What were they born with? What kind of person are they? Etc. — there are countless questions that I fill in the blanks to, because I don’t do most of this consciously, I am able to do practically in an instant– after all this compounded processing and deliberation I feel this fictitious numerical percentage, so I have no idea what any actual ‘scores’ might be, I just feel one is greater than the other. I almost always feel my score is higher. Of course, the fact that I just eventually leave it up to feeling and trick myself into thinking it is some sort of percentage or score probably leads to this typical result, because at that point I don’t actually have to trust any weighing of things you can’t really quantify anyway, I just have to trust in myself.

Thing is, I really do have this inflated sense of self-worth though. I know all sorts of talented people, all sorts of hard workers, all sorts of people who are actually producing tangible results to whatever they are doing– putting themselves out there, yet here I am, and I just can’t help but feel like I’ve got something(s)– usually plural– that they don’t. If I leave it at that, then I am correct, because of the infinite differences provided via individuality, but I guess I am taking it too far and believing that my individuality doesn’t just bring something different, but something more. There could be a few brisk and rare truths to this notion, but overall, even I know thinking that something is right because it is my way is silly.

Am I totally unfounded though?

I think not?

Why?

Constant digestion.

I know know know that I am at least highly competent in many things. I can see places that I think are highly vulnerable to arrogance seeping in. For general example, friends I have, or even just acquaintances who spend years studying and specifically focus on doing things that I don’t pursue with that level of prioritized dedication, yet I do these things ‘on the side’ or on my own time at least, and I can on a level of some objectivity compare ability and at the least say it is on the relative level. I won’t lie, I usually feel like my capability exceeds the others pretty often, but will also be the first person to appreciate someone’s clearly recognizable talent and skill, it is a unique balance to say the least.

Let me get more specific, for once. Let’s start with something that most people clearly know about me. Filmmaking. Ironically, I don’t feel like I’ve truly gotten into filmmaking yet, but merely have done most aspects of it a few at a time. With that said, I watch a ton of movies and think to myself, “I could have pulled that off better.” Rarely am I thinking about it from something like the technical standpoint. The technicality of anything is usually the easiest part. In pure technique, I am far from the best in anything related to making movies, I am competent enough in the major things to get by pretty well if I really devoted all my time and energy to a big project, but the good news is that like most things, filmmaking is a collaborative process; a highly collaborative project. So if you gave me a budget, full crew and resources on a level of even a tight budget independent film (because they are basically majors with a very low budget) then there certainly would be no issues in the technicality of it. It’d look and feel like a professionally produced movie. It is on the substance that I feel like I can bring something substantial. I’m familiar enough with every aspect of actually making the damn thing, so it is largely a decision making different from there.

Another example: I have known a lot of people who do have the technical idea of the whole thing down well, but they are completely ruled by it. Like at an, “oh here’s this scene, get it well lit, make sure the lighting is even, knock out a wide shot, a 2-shot or so and close-ups and move on to the next scene, oh and we’ll throw in a cut away to some random action because that’ll look nice and show importance.” That isn’t real decision making, that is letting what is known to be technically correct make the decisions for you. So what if I break the line of action? Maybe that is the freakin point, to be disorienting and make the viewer feel uneasy? Or lighting choices that help to convey a mood or emotion, or taking more risks, cinematographically speaking, than just a few nice looking, yet bland and basic shots. There comes a point in any person’s ability and level of skill that they understand the textbook basics well enough that they can consciously make decisions that effectively put their own intent on the outcome, especially with something like any form of motion picture. Obviously, I am not where I will be 1, 5, 10 years from now, but I have gotten to the point where my grasp is strong enough to where I am now consciously making decisions that convey certain things beyond the idea of just trying to tell a story or conveying a few emotions. I’d say it is even beyond things such as intentionally misdirecting the viewer,  doing something visually complex/cool without coupling it with knowing what effect I’m wanting it to have —

(having trouble explaining what I mean on this one, so I’ll throw in a quick, very dirty example: Stanley Kubrick’s The Shining, the famous tracking shot of Danny on his big wheel, at his eye level. Seen multiple times in the film, besides being a cool shot, initially used to give us a look from this little kid’s perspective. How vast, complex and intimidating this huge, lonely hotel is. It is just like the time I got lost in the grocery store when I was 4 or 5, it isn’t this huge labyrinth to me anymore, but back then it was intimidating, infinitely confusing and away from the confines of my mother, terrifying. Of course he then builds it into a suspense factor later on and eventually uses it to set-up one of the most iconic and chilling scenes cinema has known, etc. Of course, with Kubrick, he was using this shot and repeating it on more levels than just the overt reasoning I have mentioned, which further exemplifies my point of using style for substance; multiple layers of substance.)

Definitely isn’t on that Kubrick level, or even just other very very good directors, but my point is that I understand the importance of decisions, I have a lot of ideas for how to convey all sorts of abstractions while still maintaining a standard narrative structure and so on. Ideas for directing actors beyond saying, “ok we have this scene and these lines or whatever, be angry, action,” then doing it over and over trying different kinds of angry (over simplifying everything here, shut up if you missed that part), and so on. I didn’t go to film school or anything, but I know that I am on a proficient enough technical level to be at the point where if I really set out to make something, I’m relying on the decision making in all phases of production to make something unique, as opposed to just drumming up a script and shooting, editing doing everything on a pretty simple level, which is what most of the stuff you watch is, just that basic formulaic level. Substance is what really matters in my weight of where someone is when it comes to filmmaking. For instance, I hate Paul Thomas Anderson’s Magnolia. HATE IT– but there is so much substance in that movie. I watch it and I instantly understand how much thought went into every scene, every shot, every line uttered. Every. Single. Thing. You hear. Or see. It isn’t a movie, it is experiencing something that the director created, followed by the writer(s), actors, crew, and everyone else.

You could give the premise and basic structure of a movie like that to 25 people who work with videography, film, something related. 15 people will give you something that follows your typical 3-act narrative formula, it could be pretty entertaining, engaging at times, will predominantly be standardly shot, with a few stylistic overtones, that could convey a different genre or other easy to blanket stylistic choices such as color grading, but it wouldn’t be much more than standard and wouldn’t explore the territory very much. 5 people will give you something that is just bad, maybe the writing is just completely broken, or the characters make no sense and serve little purpose outside of protagonist, love interest, antagonist, human plot device, etc., or just failed to cover the basic aesthetic needs, or had terrible audio and so on, just crap. Finally, 5 of those 25 will give you something that covers all those basic aesthetic needs in terms of the writing, visuals, audio and so on, but will also fill you until your mind, your eyes and your ears can consume no more, so that each time you go back, you get a new meal altogether. It might not fit your particular tastes, maybe it offends you, maybe it enriches your mind, maybe you find it a little weird, maybe it leads to a breakthrough in your life, but the point is, you watch it and know that there was just something more, there was decision making that created something substantial. 2 or 3 out of these 5 brought something like that to the table in one or two aspects, maybe the performances they drew out of their actors combined with really exploring the characters, maybe on the audio-visual level of spectacle, something that just tickles your mind on that aesthetic level. 1, maybe 2 of these 5 manage to hit with all this substance in nearly every area– the prodigy’s.

First off, this was a freakin talented group of 25 with the numbers I was giving, but I think the example is served. With the well-known enough people to have gotten major distribution, out of ten, 1-3 are the ones who produced total crap, 3-8 of them are the ones who were good but didn’t really manage to infuse the human soul into the work, and 1-2 fall into the “really talented” category. Though I have yet to complete, much less start a project that demonstrates the following, but I firmly believe myself to be in those exceptional 5 in the example; someone who can infuse part of his own soul in the work. I firmly and unshakably believe that. Given that look at it, is it any wonder why I feel so arrogant?

Remember, digestion? It was my curriculum. Continually versing myself in the basics and technically correct aspect of things, enough to solidify my general ability, while continually gaining experience as me and the crew I work with try and focus on different small things– those are the works of the swb crew– micro experiments that hopefully entertain a little at the same time, then finally absorbing as much as I can simply by watching and experiencing other works, good and bad. With the stuff I really come to admire or look up to, I consume, I gluttonize my brain into a blob of fatty mass that has grafted into his stained, soiled polyester couch with floral patterns, then I slowly process it and digest it. The end result of the digestion is a further molding of influence via what I have mentally digested, as well as an infusion of new ideas and concepts to toy with. That is my course of study. It isn’t a degree that certifies me an expert, but it is likely more valuable than that in terms of capabilities. I imagine it is the same type of curriculum that best suited your Tarantinos or Rodriguezes of the world. A little bit of technical knowledge as your ironing board, combining it with experience to really get the important stuff as an iron. There is your technical mastery to work on, the mechanics, both arms in coordination. Then osmosis of your influences or things you admire or even detest, that is the article of clothing you’re ironing. God-given talent plays only a small factor in these things, because these are things that develop, so even if you have a natural eye for cinematography, your lifelong development of it will be infinitely greater than whatever you started with.

Combining talent with development. I think that would actually be something I consider to be a talent in itself, which I think I possess. More small examples: basketball – I was blessed with good genes in the sense that I have a lot of athletic talent. I naturally can jump higher than average, which also correlated with quickness and speed. I would consider that to fall in a trait that is talent-dominant as far as basketball (or most sports) would go. But I can also improve it, and I have in the past. If I lifted weights more, ate better, consistently did plyometric exercises and so on, I have a much more impressive ceiling in terms of just my leg output than where I am at. I don’t though. There is also the entire skill aspect. Jumpshots aren’t something anyone is born with. The way your brain is wired to move your body might play a large role in how easily someone can develop those specific motor skills, but I know how many hours I have put into all the specific skills involved in being a versatile player at my position. Once again, back to the confidence factor, I think that if I had continued to keep the mindset I had when I was younger all throughout high school, I could have easily played in college somewhere. I had plenty on the talent level, but I worked even harder than that. All those years going up to the gym 4, 5 times a week and just shooting, or practicing one thing: coming off of screens, ball handling, runners, left hand, the list never ends. Even then, I cut myself short on the development part by never sustaining a consistent weightlifting regimen. But I absolutely know, on pure skills and natural ability, I can hang with most players that step foot on a court, and there are tons and tons of great basketball players in the world, guys who played college, professionally on any level, guys who had a rough upbringing that killed their careers, or guys who just developed as a player far too late to have a shot at even playing in college, I just know that as long as I work at it, and especially if I dedicated hard time to improving more, I am just a really freakin good basketball player despite all my shortcomings.

That’s simply an arrogant sounding thing to say, but I believe it to be true.

We circle back to the other part of my personality though, the humility part, I never would want to come off as the player I believe myself to be. That confidence I so despised has always limited me. Even if it just means putting myself out there, trying to get on certain teams or whatever, all the way to how I actually perform on the court. If I look at it as objectively as I can, I know that I am going to either be one of the better players, or at least be able to hang as it gets higher and higher in the upper echelons of skill, but even as if I am performing in a manner that correlates this, proves it to be fact, I trick myself into not believing it, because the modesty that is so deeply engraved in me has a knee jerk reaction to the affirmation of my confidence. I know it was a really long time ago, but we arrive at the paradox once again. I’m the living contradiction. Even in something primitive and largely instinctual as playing basketball, every single thing I do is a self-contradiction, as I do it and think it. How is anyone supposed to sustain a high level of performance with pulsing confidence levels? Because as soon as you have the confidence downswing at the wrong moment, the peak of the confidence filled moments decrease, thus starts the cycle which whittles me down to nothing more than a pitiful creature.

So there it is, if you see me in public and have read this, you can watch me and think to yourself, “So everything he is saying or doing is the muffled result of some internal struggle,” as I battle my over politness with my over confidence. Of course, you should also take it to the next level and thing, “man, he is so gentle and soft-spoken like a young Ghandi, but I see it now, that man is a badass.”

I’m going to end this post here, because I didn’t expect it to be so long, but this has officially become a two parter, because I have a closely related 4.5 of ? that I need to tackle as a solo entity, then I’ll tie them together, and hopefully maybe ascertain some greater understanding of myself. That way I can make myself better, cause I’m self obsessed like that, you know?!

I beg your pardon, but I apologize if I come off as offensive or arrogant when I say, I AM AWESOME. I’m kidding, of course. (But now you know I’m not)

Goodbye for now. (4436)