"Oh, hello, you're back. And in one piece. Well, now it's time I do my part."

-- Greirat the Thief

Dear Nico,

Welcome back, ashen one. Appropriate that your Dark Souls III references nicely transition from your last post. You closed up shop last time lamenting the ashes, and in the time since, you have embraced your inner goth kid and learned to appreciate the beautiful melancholy of having demons. Life imitates art, it seems.

It has been some time, hasn't it? 2014 was when I last saw you. So let's get on with it, then. You're here for a complete report, are you not? Buckle up. This Is a Long Drive for Someone with Nothing to Think About.1

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  1. This is the name of a Modest Mouse album.

Dear Nico,

You keep the door open, but leave the porch light off.

If people need you, they will find you. And if you need them -- well, you'll do nothing. Because that's what you do.

You once had friends who sang in perfect harmony. At this point in time, they don't call you anymore. And your plan for this is to do nothing about it. The distance grows greater. Eventually, they forget about you.

You are, ultimately, forgettable. This isn't a problem in and of itself. People move on because they must. But having become comfortable with this is why you remain in the shadows, so don't blame anyone but yourself for refusing to light your candle in the darkness.

The reality of this is that you have an insatiable, obsessive-compulsive need to always feel like you've started over. A clean slate. Tabula rasa. A sound mind is a clear one.

The disadvantages of this are that the records you once sought to keep -- your blog entries that disappeared into the void, your YouTube videos that got eaten by the Google+ debacle -- they're gone. But you don't miss them. If they hadn't become indelible memories by now, then they weren't really that great after all. That's what you tell yourself. Are you right?

You might be comfortable eradicating your own records, and staying out of sight until the wrinkle you left in other people's memories is smoothed out by the new calendar page. But other people aren't like you. Some will keep those calendar pages in old cigar boxes and look at your writing when they want to remember.

And where will you be? Somewhere in the dark? Holding a candle you refuse to light?

Or will you finally turn on your porch light before you must, inevitably, lock the door for the last time?

Fine. Burn the records. Just remember: You will never be able to disappear completely. You can set fire to memories if you want to forget them as much as you've been forgotten.

But there will always be ashes.

You, circa 2014

late Middle English (in the sense 'far apart'): from Latin remotus 'removed,' past participle of removere.

I believe I've blogged ad nauseam about the implications, at least in a personal sense, of what it means to use the internet to be social over far reaching physical distances. And I'll gush about it to no end. The internet has, at this point, had a greater impact on my life than any other social context. But I'm not sure I've ever said anything about feeling far away from the persons I believe I had been because of it.

There is an idea of what I think I am, what others think I am, and what I perceive others to think I am, and those three variables come with subsets and variations in themselves. This is probably true about you, too.

The fact that I'm writing this from a hotel room traveling on business notwithstanding, I feel very far away from those persons I used to be, perceived and actual.

The cast:

  • My internet social presence suffered from hiding in the shadows as a freelancer for a time. But that guy is gone.
  • Before that, I was content to scurry around as an agency pawn. And don't get me wrong, those lives were fulfilling in their own ways. But that guy is gone, too.
  • And before that, there was the guy that was at another agency who also worked at a bar. Not only is that guy gone, but so is the bar.
  • And preceding, there was that lost, artistically-minded ne'er-do-well. Oh, that guy.

And I don't want to admit that friends come and go, because that's not how it should be. But in my life, they really do. It's not that I dislike these friends or acquaintances. It's not anyone's fault but my own that they don't stick around. I do not speak up about these things. I just have never been the guy to push for his own presence to be remembered. I'm too preoccupied getting my own shit together on top of or because of being self-interested, and would rather not be a burden. As much as attention is supposed to be nice and make me feel valued, there's this whole Catholic-guilt and poor self-esteem thing going on that prevents me from really enjoying any of it.

But it's been a whole year since the last nicopolitan took the stage -- the quiet (brooding? gawd, I hope not), behind-the-scenes developer. And today, it's the guy that doesn't quite fit the corporate life mold1 but tries his damnedest to make it work anyway. Wait -- a whole year? Where did all that time go?

I know I'm supposed to appreciate "living in the moment" and "paying attention before time passes", but have you seen how fucking fast this train is going? Because holy shit.

Maybe that's getting older. Maybe that's having accrued enough unrelated interests and hobbies that there is not nearly enough time to dedicate a substantial segment of the day to them. Maybe it's the relativity of life-having-lived being ever-extending to the constant values of time passing.

But it makes me fearful of what I'm going to become. Not because I'm uncertain for my safety or sanity or happiness -- but because I could never have expected to be what I am now. It feels just... really... far.

And if I'm going to end up being this remote from what I know, I just hope I still have bars of signal.

I don't speak up. I don't reach out. I'm stubborn like that.

But I need to know that I can. That's all. That's enough.

Because otherwise, the loneliness becomes very, very real.

  1. Still lacking wife and kids, but, I mean, LOL to all of that.

Honestly, I'm having trouble reconciling my once-full-time independent contracting life with today's traditional day job. During the work week, I set my life aside and dedicate my time to the company, but where most people return to their lives when they get back from work, I get ready to work again.

And I think I'm digging myself deeper into a hole here. I am behind on every single obligation I've made, simply because there just aren't enough hours in the day. Because I consider these obligations more important than the minor tasks of living, I forget the little things I'm supposed to do to take care of my own life. I forget to iron shirts. I go to bed hungry some nights because I forget to get groceries. I moved here nearly two months ago, and most of my things are still in boxes.

To be fair to those who work more than one full-time job, I'm not complaining. I'm conceding my inferiority.
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So, I turned 30 recently.

I do have a way to explain my feelings on this, I think. Yet again, video games are my analogy of choice for explaining how the world works. Oh, shut up, you knew what you were getting into when you started reading this.

If life were like videogames1, then growth is measured by leveling up when a player has earned enough experience points to acquire a new level in a skill or skills, often accompanied by the ability to wield new weaponry, access new places, or begin new assignments.

So let's say I just turned Level 30. Have I been granted anything new? Continue reading

  1. Which poses a problem in the way of art imitating life imitating art, but that's another conversation

Ah, love. Sometimes — and in shojo series, it's very frequently — it's entirely one-sided. When a character encounters that certain special someone who's totally out of their reach ("takane no hana"), a conveniently timed airplane flies by, and the unrequited lover spends several seconds staring at the airplane as it flies off into the distance, forever out of reach. In fantasy or historical series where there are no airplanes, a bird appears instead.
-TV Tropes

To be clear, I'm not in love since I haven't yet been patched to handle such capacities1, but after moving to California's Silicon Valley very recently2 I've found that when I take a break to smoke a cigarette, I often find myself staring at an airplane. In contrast to the smog of LA, the skies here are very much on the clear side, and since the San Jose Airport isn't too far off, these aircrafts are easy to catch.

As a fan of symbolism, I can't help but feel that staring at these airliners is supposed to signify something, but as it's portrayed in fiction (fine, in anime, specifically), the allegory doesn't really apply to me. However, the wandering daytime reverie still seems to fit the bill.

I'm longing for and missing something, but I'm not sure what it is.

Actually, you know what? I've not had legitimate internet access for a week now, and using my phone to tether an internet connection is slowly driving me to the brink of tears. Also, my furniture has yet to ship up here so it looks like I'm squatting in my own apartment.

All things considered, things up here are going way better than expected and it's only the first week. Silicon Valley has so far treated me very well, passing smiles and unsolicited good morning's and sincere excuse me's, and I'm still very much a stranger out here. So there's that warm welcome -- but concerning these airplanes, maybe the earnest desire I'm feeling is the unrequited love of NOT SLEEPING ON THE DAMN FLOOR.

  1. We tried it in beta and it threw a bunch of errors, so we're slating it for a later release.