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Musing

It’s been a year

This weekend makes it a year since mom died and the week has gotten progressively more and more difficult. It’s coming on the back of working 16 out of the past 17 days (including weekends) and so my body, brain, heart and soul are just exhausted.

Tomorrow K and I will make our way up to Atlanta for a family gathering, we’ll pick up my grandmom on the way and we’ll be there through the weekend.

If you’re a friend in Atlanta, it is possible that Saturday night I’ll be looking to go out but more than likely this is a weekend wholly devoted to family and I won’t see any of you. My trips into Atlanta seem to echo this trend frequently and I’m sorry, but this more than others holds true to this meaning.

Sunday will be a memorial service and the actual burial of mom’s ashes at a plot in Roswell. It is just a family event, so no details are forthcoming.

Thank you all for your support over this past year.  It’s been tumultuous and has had many highlights, of which K has been a shining star, I don’t know how I would have survived this past year without her by my side.

That being said, I still miss mom each and every day. Many many times something has happened and I’ve wanted to pull out my phone to call her, only to remember that I can’t.

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Musing

From a character came a whole world

A few years ago I devoted a great deal of time to developing a fictional world, complete with language, history, characters, politics, geography and much more. I still have most of the documents on my computer, though I haven’t looked at them in a while. It’s a hobby which comes and goes depending on my time and moods.  I don’t know if I’ll ever return to the first world I created, the stories petered out and all that was left was to continue to trudge through my lexicon as I attempted to make more and more words.

Much more recently, I’ve had a world blossoming in my head, all from the simple concept of a character. The setting is “Steampunk,” a term used to describe a world without the internal combustion engine, when steam power provides all. Sometimes that world involves magic, but not always. Usually clockwork and steam power has advanced such that it can now mimic much of today’s technology. It’s often Victorian or maybe western in settings, but not always. With this setting in mind, I came up with a character named “Silas Strauss.” A young, barrel-chested man. As my image of him came into a more clear focus I realized that Silas worked in the blue-collar realm, not a Prince or nobility of any sort – he worked and enjoyed it.

His work though eluded me for a long time. Did he work onboard an airship? Or on a train? In a factory? What was it. Eventually I realized he worked either shoveling coal or laying rails for the trains to move on. And from there the world exploded around him, it’s amazing when you discover the key element how much more can come to you. I quickly had to grab a pad and scribble notes to myself.

“Silas Strauss – Burly and barrel-chested. He is the Serviceman of the 7th Rail Squad for the 4th Battalion in His Royal Majesty’s Exploratory forces, his duties alternate between laying railroad and shoveling coal on board one of the engines.”

Imagine the times when we had to first lay railroad rails across the US, exploring into the deep unknown. But imagine if the land was even bigger, what if it had been the size of Asia? One railroad track would obviously be too few as the forces would be huge, laying track for multiple trains only made sense! If your kingdom was big enough and you had the supplies, you could lay two, three or four tracks simultaneously allowing trains to run supplies and keep the forces mobile. Your supply line would be crucial for this large of an exploratory force.

And Silas is a small cog in the machine for these forces. How would life be? He’d work day in and day out. He wouldn’t suffer the fear or questions explorers on the high sea might, the tracks would always be behind you, meaning you could always find your way home. But you’d also know just how far you’d be from home.

The world grows more and more in my mind, my notes in the Google Docs folder are piling up. I guess a story might come out of this. At the least, I’m hoping to put together a steampunk costume for D*Con.

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Musing

Daily Show is Gen Y’s SNL

Looking back over the history of comedy, much of the great US Comedians came through specific channels. Working at a comedy theatre has opened a door to understand the channels which most comedians flow through. Please note that I say most not all. There are always people who buck the system and make their own route, but the large majority of comedians went through various institutions.

For the previous generation, the large selection of comedians went through SNL before breaking out on their own but today it seems as if the talented proving grounds is the Comedy Central show with Jon Stewart, “The Daily Show.” They’ve had Stephen Colbert, Steve Carell, John Hodgmann is up and coming, and a small handful of other comedians who are working their way out. Sure SNL has put out a few as well, but in terms of relevance I hear people talking about The Daily Show a lot more than SNL.

This could be attributed to the fact that The Daily Show is, well, daily. And SNL is only weekly, but I honestly only know a small handful of people who watch SNL and talk about it. I know some friends who dream of breaking out as comedians and so they watch it, but other than that, I think SNL is appealing to our parents and our older siblings.

The Daily Show has its spin off, The Colbert Report, which has proven to be meteoric in its success, but it hasn’t produced the comedians that Jon Stewart’s show has. Yet.

So watch out Lorne Michaels, Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert are gunning for you!

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Musing

Remembering

Yesterday I was hit with an intense but short lived blast of stage fright. Today I was hit by something I already knew. It was something that has flashed through my head dozens of times, but today it took center stage. The show on Monday is going to miss a very important person in the audience.

Mom.

Yes, I know she’ll be there in spirit. But as good as that makes me feel, I still wish I could look into the audience, past the stage lights, and see her there grinning and waving to me. I wish it with all my heart, with all my being.

There was no greater joy than to be on the field playing Football in high school and to look up in the stands and see mom there waving at me. She and I talked about it during my freshman year and that I couldn’t wave back to her, the coaches wanted our heads in the game, so I told her that I would grab my face mask and “adjust” it as my way to wave back to her.

And so every game I played, sometime during the first quarter I would look into the stands and find the parents, then mom would see me looking and wave eagerly, and I would grin up behind the face mask, gripping the plastic coated bars and shift them visibly. And there we would share a moment, a bond between us.

God I miss her. She would be so excited about Monday. I can imagine her telling her friends, she’d be eager and excited to see it, to see what I could do. That was her joy, seeing her children accomplish things. Man, this is rough.

The show will go well on Monday, I’ll push these thoughts out and I’ll perform like I would if she were there, but until that point I’m embracing my memories of her and working through the emotions that come with it.

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Musing

Stage Fright

Stage fright can be mortifying. Some freeze up while others respond by accelerating and trying to finish in as little time as possible. For me, it’s exhilarating. It’s bottled fear and it’s something I chug. — Wait. That sounds a lot more cocky than I meant for it too. Let me try again.


I face my fears. Whatever they may be. I face them and know I can survive just about anything. I still avoid horror flicks but that’s a topic for another time. Fears come in all sorts of shapes and sizes, and the one that I got hit with today was stage fright. But not the normal stage fright. Not the public speaking stage fright. It’s the “I’m doing a show I’ve never done before” stage fright. Oh sure I’ve done it in my head, in front of the mirror or in the car, but that’s a little different.

It’s my grad show from SAK University and it’ll be a theater filled with friends, family, and people who(m) I’ve never met. Up to today I’ve been totally fine with the idea, but while I was stocking concessions (about ten minutes ago) I was suddenly gripped by this urge to get up and run away as fast as possible and not perform in the show.

I must be insane!

I’m crazy, this is crazy, I can’t do it.

What the @$!$*@& was I thinking?

And about three minutes later, after slowing my heart beat and regulating my breathing I calmed down and began facing the fear. The truth is that stage fright is fear of several things.

It’s fear of rejection – “What if I’m not funny?”

It’s fear of what others will think – “What will they think of my performance?”

It’s fear of messing up.

For public speaking I can overcome all three of these with preparation and a deeply embedded faith in my own ability as a public speaker. But for Improv, the preparation is a little different. We hear all the time “How can you practice improv?” It’s a lot like practicing a sport, you work with others, hone your skills and find what messes you up. You’re not preparing a scripted show, but you’re building skills and honing your talents.

What I have to remember is that on stage, I’m free. First off I’m doing something very few of the people coming to the show do or would do. I’ve overcome the stage fright and I’m on the stage, so that’s a win for me. The second part is that while I’m on stage, I can be anyone. On top of that, it isn’t going to be just me on stage. There are thirteen other people in my class, three of which who will be on my team, and I can rely on them to help me if I get into trouble. So I have to remind myself that I’m not alone up there.

Trust, that’s a big part of improv. I’m almost ashamed that I had to remind myself about it, but I did. The fact though is that I have the trust in my teammates.

I’ve prepared for this for years, dreamt of it even. I won’t say I’m as ready as I possibly can be, because there is always something more to learn in Improv – but I feel pretty confidant that I can avoid being a horrible flop.

The butterflies are still there, but they’re no longer scary, now they’re exhilarating for me and they’re a reminder that I’m only a few days away from taking a big step for myself. A Big step. BIG. But then, I’m a big guy, so I should be fine.

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Musing

Fighting Fire

Fire is one of those things that society trains us for. Rome fell to it. Chicago. Atlanta. And so many others. Even in today’s world a fire is big news. Wild fires ravage wilderness and fire fighters are revered among our society. We’re so heavily trained by it that we will either react to it immediately or freeze up.

Well last night I proved that I react immediately.

I decided I would go see a show at SAK and just relax, ease back into work. I was getting condolences from people through out the night and at intermission I was standing in the theatre chatting with a co-worker when I happened to look towards the back of the theatre and noticed flickering orange light. The light was coming from where we store drinks, an area of space which is just walled off from the theatre but doesn’t have a ceiling of its own.

It took a moment to register and when I saw the small plume of smoke I immediately realized what it was, fire. I dove into action saying to my friend, in a somewhat calm manner, “fire.” I sprinted around and tore my way into the store room while my friend got the fire extinguisher. He passed it to me and I quickly pulled the locking pin and then extinguished the flame.

We took care of it all and know what happened. No major damage was done. It’s just one of those events which leaves you rushed with adrenaline and shaking as your body calms down.

I’m beginning the move to the new domain. I made a blog post on the old home, I’m still debating how I want to integrate the archives from the old site – if at all.

And also, in terms of fire, I need to figure out how to pay taxes this year. First year I’ve owed them and I need to investigate payment plans and such. Fun fun.

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Musing

Changing Faces

The month of January is named after the Greek god Janus. Janus is represented as having two faces, one facing forward and one facing backward. He is the god of doors as well as god of beginnings and endings.

I’ve been blogging for nearly nine years now, in various forms and on various sites. I began using an online journal, from there I went to a personal blog on Blogger, then to GreyMatter, then Movable Type, then WordPress. All the time changing homes to various free hosts and domains. Most recently I lived at http://www.ronincyberpunk.com, a domain created while I was in high school and on which I blogged for over five years and created thousands of posts which held over four hundred thousand words of drivel.

The face of blogging as a whole has changed in that time. From a small hobby of a small group of people into a major activity of many people. For me it began as a journal of thoughts and, in some part, as an exhibitionist plea for attention online – a world I was deeply acquainted with. It is rather startling to look back over my writing through the years and follow how my style and tone changed over the years.

My blog moved from being a daily life journal on to an outlet for philosophical musings and still onto a geek realm. Ronincyberpunk was the creation of a high school student looking to be edgy and embracing the anonymous world of online writing. It was a creation from the word “Ronin” which is a romantic vision of a wandering samurai and the word “Cyberpunk” which refers to the Sci-Fi sub-genre. Combining the two created an online persona which would be my banner into adulthood and on to the point where it became a point of embarrassment to share with my friends. Now, we have my still edgy name, but a much less fantastic element.

Well, I might still be just as fantastic.

This blog is going to be a rebirth of my online persona. I’m transferring much of my archives from Ronincyberpunk.com over to this new domain and forwarding all the traffic it received. I’ve yet to decide how exactly I’m going to work the archives in. I might just go through the old blog and move over the best of the best entries, or I might move the entire archive and keep it separated. I just haven’t decided yet.

This blog also comes along at an important time in my life. Even as I write this my mom’s life hangs in the balance. In all truth I should be asleep so I am rested to return to the hospital tomorrow but my mind needs distraction, otherwise I find myself continuing to think about her, worry about her, and grow frustrated at how little I can do. This blog provides me with distraction at a time when I dearly dearly need it.

Life changes. People come and go from our lives, some quickly, others not as quick as we’d like. We change. We grow. We atrophy. We change. We don’t have two faces looking forward and back, but we do look both ways before crossing the street. Hopefully.