Acoustic Cover #1 : The Graveyard Near the House

Acoustic cover of “The Graveyard Near the House” by The Airborne Toxic Event from the album All at Once, 2011.

With the craziness of moving cities, I figured I’d do a quick version. No time to get the lighting and audio 100% but that’s not the point of this thing anyway.

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Nightmares

As a Kid, I don’t really remember having nightmares. Maybe occasionally thinking about things that scared me, but while dreaming, not really. There’s always the monsters under the bed that can keep us lying there, wide-eyed in high alert mode. We all have moments lying awake trying to calm minds though. That’s just the brain being a little too active, not really nightmares though. Right?

Well, if I have nightmares now, I think it’s my brain being just a little too active, except while I’m asleep….and then carrying that over into being awake. So, before anyone gets upset telling me that what I’m describing are not technically nightmares…fine. But, it’s dreams that I have that make me wake up and not be exactly too excited that I had them. So, close enough for me. While I’m here though, I have to assume that most adults out there aren’t having ‘spooky’ or ‘horrific’ dreams, unless it’s the direct result of some sort of real life trauma. I would posit that what I’m going to describe as my nightmares, or bad dreams, are the hyper-realistic dreams that many people probably have and result in similar feelings.

These “nightmares” I have aren’t necessarily scary things. Every once in a while, I might have a dream where I’m getting chased by some sort of lunatic that is trying to kill me. And I’m not sure what this says about me, but I’m usually not too concerned in those dreams. I have had many dreams where I get stabbed, or shot, or bitten, or whatever. Those usually aren’t too bad. I don’t even wake up from them or actually die in them. I get shot, my body hurts (a lot), and I say something along the lines of “this is inconvenient and annoying.” Then, when I do wake up from those, if I remember them, I chuckle to myself and try and remember what I had for dinner the night before. Usually though, to get back on track with the beginning of this paragraph, my brain is just coming to terms with whatever real-life issues happen to be bugging me at the moment.

The kicker with these dreams is that they are pretty much the opposite of nightmares, in the base sense of the word. They’re pleasant, idealized concepts of some real-life-ish scenario. Forget whether they are necessarily likely to happen in real-life for now. I don’t really ever feel bad during the dreams. Usually, I feel about as good if not better than I do in my normal, puttering-around waking hours. Since my brain is controlling them, they tend to go exactly the way I want…until some more realistic part of my brain chimes in.

Take this example from a dream I had probably a couple months ago. I won’t give the context because it doesn’t really matter, but just take this little piece of a conversation.

____________________________

I was sitting talking to this other person and having a nice conversation. You know, the kind with eye contact and laughing and nice back-and-forth turns to speak and to listen. Anyway, I think my brain started to wake up a little, but I wasn’t out of the dream yet. Maybe it was light coming through my window or a sound in real-life, but something switched in the dream. Remember the “realistic part” of my brain I just talked about. This is it. After this nice conversation that seemed to happen like a perfectly scripted movie with no effort, this happened

BRIAN:
You don’t mean it, do you?

OTHER PERSON:
Of course I do.

BRIAN:
No. I mean, you can’t mean it. Not you. Because you’re
not really you. You’re not you. This is just a dream.
(how meta of my brain)

[Other person fades without a response and I snap awake]

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When I say snapped awake, I don’t mean in a overly-physical manner. Only once can I recall doing the cliche, sit up in bed yelling thing. And that was because I was angry in the dream and probably yelling at someone. (see below) No, as Marshall Mathers would say, this is a snap back to reality waking up. One where your eyes open, but that is literally it. Your whole body is pretty much paralyzed except for your eyelids. It almost takes a good minute for your brain to realize what’s going on. Where am I? What time is it? What day is it? Who am I? Oh, yeah, none of that was real.

The issue with these kind of dreams is that they turn into nightmares at the very last possible second. Right as your waking up and realize it’s not real. They retroactively work as nightmares in the way that as soon as I wake up, they force upon me the realization of what actually is and how it is so much different than the ideal that my brain has made. This, admittedly, can be a dangerous thing as it creates this almost resentment of one’s real life and current situation. Not how I would advise going through life, if the choice is yours. That can lead down a bunch of not-so-good paths pretty quick. But, once again, the subconscious brain is a hard things to tame. It would kinda defeat itself if it could be tamed.

So are these nightmares, or just good dreams followed with real-life getting in the way? I don’t know. If I’ve learned anything from The Matrix, the dream-world isn’t always best because it just provides a blissful ignorance. If I‘ve learned two things, it’s don’t nuke the Earth trying to destroy the machines. I can tell you that the dreams where I wake up relieved it was just a dream would be the ones where, as I said, get angry and lose my temper, or have just bad things happen (issues with friends, death, teeth falling out, car issues) But, those crappy feelings all fade super quick after waking up. It the idealized dreams that force my brain to think and over-think about things through the day. Not sure which is worse (I do, though). Sometimes, I just have dreams where I’m on a spaceship with Harry Potter and the Cheshire Cat trying to stop Star Wars (not actual wars. Like, we’re trying to stop any of the movies after the original trilogy from being made).

So, dreams and nightmares. Funny things.

Uhhh….no good concluding paragraph on this one. Let me figure out a song (or two) to link for this one. Ok, bye.

 

“I Need Some Sleep” -Eels

 

“Bad Dreams” – Joywave

 

Express Yourself!

Where is my mind? Where is my Mind? Where is my mind? – Black Francis

Do Everyone’s Brains work like this? A thought I often wonder.

This is post about expressing ideas and how, for me, at least, those ideas manifest in the old brain part and work their way out via the mouth hole or handibles. Buckle up.

So Many Ideas

“What goes on in that head of your? I feel like someone should follow you around with a camera and record all the crazy things you come up with” This was said to me (I took it as a compliment) by one of my school chums during my time at UT. I assured this person that they get a misrepresentation of my ideas and that 95% of my time awake is quite boring. The normal, I believe, for most of us. Still, I guess this person thought that I have enough things that are of note to warrant some sort of public record. Well, you’re reading it right now. Hello! Hi! Welcome! Glad you are here. This is the public record of things I think about. I told you it wasn’t that interesting. Please, grab some fruit on the way out. Please. I don’t want it in my house. Ok, thanks.

Or how about this one. “I just can’t with you! How do you even come up with half the things you say and just like that? *snaps fingers*” This was a recently from a former co-worker. I don’t know, really. How does anyone come up with stuff? Ideas just happen, just like they do for all of us. I just have certain methods and techniques that I’ve used for years and years now with how to express them. I’ve basically trained myself in the way I say things and tell jokes since high school. It wasn’t just a natural thing that I’ve always had. I suppose there is a mix of natural ability to link ideas and come up with the wording of things I say, but their is also a practiced method and craft that is learned over a long time. And I’m only getting done with the 101 classes. I mean, how do you play that song that is in your head on the piano. Well, first you need to learn how to play the piano (unless you’re one of those really piano-smart people. I’m not one of those, with anything) I think this cultivation of technique is the main thing with all of this. How do I utilize the unreasonable amount of ideas that flow through my mind on the daily? How do I express them? My brain takes care of the raw elements. How do I put them together into something that works, or more accurately, sometimes works.

There are a few troubles I have with so many things going through my brain all the time. One, I rarely write any of them down so all the good wheat is thrown out with the chaff. What a waste. Two, I often get lost in my head trying to sort out the worthwhile things to say out loud. It’s would probably be easier to write everything down and sort it out like that, but oh well. The filtering system that I have installed in my mind only seems to work at about 60% efficiency. I really need to call in the warranty on it. Three, despite that filtering system, I still have to deal with ALL of the thoughts. It gets tiresome after a while. I like the song “Doesn’t Remind Me” by Audioslave for this reason. And it’s pretty catchy. But in the song there are all these things that the singer lists that don’t remind him of anything and serve as a distraction from the things that otherwise would occupy his time that he doesn’t necessarily want to think about. He describes not thinking about personal losses and then being scared to create new, good memories out of fear that they will become sad memories. Whether or not that’s a healthy practice is outside the scope of this post though. I apply it all in a much more surface level attitude where I am just trying to declutter my mind from the myriad of thoughts that flood in. It’s basically like living life with constant pop-up ads and no ad-blocker. I’m guess that I’m used to it by now though. Isn’t it a funny thing that there’s no point in the day where you aren’t talking to yourself. Unless you’re like super good at meditation, I suppose.

But I Digress

Now, almost always,thoughts lead to more thoughts lead to more thoughts lead to more thoughts lead to napping. Although introverted by nature, once I get going, the verbal momentum on me is like a boulder gunning for Harrison Ford. I specifically typed that sentence so that there are about 500 different trails to follow from it. Instead, I’m choosing a meta-explanatory sentence and have brought the whole thing to a grinding halt, so lets get back on track. What was that track? Oh yeah, digressions. They are one of my most valiant foes. Imagine if I could turn them from an enemy to a friend. I do not get very nervous speaking with people or in front of people, but I often find that I have to work hard, very hard, on the discipline to say what I need to say and then stop. Boy, that reminds me (are you getting an idea of how this works) of a line from Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, I think, where the King is asking for a story and says something to the effect of “Begin at the beginning and then go to the end; then stop.” I guess what I’m trying to say is I’m working on the stopping part.

Everything is Something

A lot of the jokes that I say or witty one-offs are actually references to things or very much in the spirit of some reference, whether it be the words or the style. For the life of me, I can’t remember who said it or where it happened, but I do remember laughing very hard because of it; someone, who like the “camera idea” person had placed a little too much confidence on my brain, once realized that a lot of what I say is referential. They then, with perfect comedic sense delivered the line, “Oh, you just reference things? I thought you came up with everything. Oh. You’re not funny at all then.” Hilarious. Honestly, I thought it was one of the best things anyone has said to me. While true that I may not be the best at the specifics of creation, I like to think that I take more the spirit of a reference and am able to bend it and change it to fit a current situation. And, to be fair, I do actually come up with a lot of original material, but express it in a blend of influences. I’m not talking about joke stealing here or just plagiarizing what others have done. That’s lazy, irresponsible and lots of other bad adjectives. Once again, a lot of the HOW I say things is because of a childhood growing up watching the Simpsons and similar shows. It’s where I was really introduced to the idea of the misdirection punch line of a joke and, wow, do I over use that technique now.

But really, everything is a reference. I mean, I suppose that is how brains work. Different neural pathways relate to different things and certain neurons for certain things. All that sciencey stuff. But, like, my brain works in pop culture references,once again, mostly The Simpsons. There is a lot of word association. I tend to compound and one association leads to the next and so on…like professional basketball. This word/idea association is a reason that I find rapping and hip-hop to be fascinating. Its easy to tell when an artist in those genres is lazy when it comes to writing (All artists in country music are lazy). Then, I have so many ideas pop into my head at one time and have to sort through them till I find something worthwhile. Or, more accurately, until the timer goes off (about three seconds) and then whatever has the most up-votes in my head comes out of my mouth, whether it is good or not. It tends to look all cluttered and run together in one big jumbled mess, just like my bedroom. But, I’ve been operating with it so long that I guess I have learned to navigate it, just like my bedroom. It’s a mind forest and I know my way around pretty good but sometimes it still gets little weird to me, or even a little scary, just like my basement.

A Forest of the Mind

When it comes to having conversations with other people, I sometimes describe it as if I am wondering into a forest. I guess if someone wants to accompany me, that’s fine, but the paths get awfully twisty very quick. Now, and just bear with me here, I know a lot of the paths in this forest. I’ve walked them for some time now. There are familiar areas and I usually visit the same places over and over. There are some parts though that I’m sure I’ve yet to go and things to see. There are goofy parts, less goofy parts, generally weird parts, scary parts, and uncharted parts. Sometimes, after about 15-20 minutes of tlaking to someone, they get a certain look on their face and I think, “Ope, they’re lost. They are all turned around and have no idea where they are any more. Better show them the way back out. Or not!! [runs away laughing into the trees]” Once people have known me for a while, they seem to get a little sense of how my mind works and are able to better manage themselves whenever they find themselves in conversation with me. Every once in a while, I encounter some sort of conversation survivalist who can just adapt and almost be one step ahead of me while I navigate my own mind. These people are fascinating to me and a great joy to talk to (not that the others aren’t) because it’s almost like a, “Oh, you know, don’t you? I know that you know what this is like. Let’s play ball.” moment.

Expressing Yourself

All this to say, I don’t know if this is how everyone’s minds work or if I operate a little out of left field. I don’t think I am any smarter than anyone else. I know for a fact, my brain doesn’t work any faster than the next guy or girl. I don’t remember if it was in a different post or if I just thought it, but with the way I approach thinking and expressing ideas, it’s not that I am somehow above or below other people. It’s more that I can coming in from the side. So, it’s not a matter of quality of thoughts but just that I tend to be a little weird and quirky in conversations and writing things. Let’s just say, I have very little time for formalities when it comes to expression. Especially when there is a sacrifice of personality for that formality. For me, is there a time to use AP style writing and put on the suit and comb the hair? Sure. But, not when I have a choice to not do so. I’m always going to talk “weird” and write with non sequiturs and references and jokes, but I’d rather do that then make everything some neutral gray and blend into the mold.

Here is a piano cover of the song “Where is my Mind?” by Pixies that I quoted at the beginning of the post. It helps with the decluttering. I can take or leave the visuals.

***After Credits Scene***

While writing this in a coffee shop, I bumped the table and made my drink spill a little. I promptly looked at the chair across from me and, as if someone were sitting there said, “Easy, will ya? You’re making me look like a fool.” I then saw a girl, a real one (or a very convincing hologram), at the table near me looking right at me. No way she didn’t just see me whisper-yell at an empty chair. I then looked back at my imaginary friend and they said, “No, you are, weirdo.”

Ok, that’s all.

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Past-Me Is Always One Step Ahead

Do you have little habits that you find make your life just a little bit more difficult? Here are some thoughts on that…

I often find that Past-Brian does little things throughout his day to make me, Present-Brian, have to work just a little harder (which is already a struggle). When it’s Future-Brian that does it, I’ll definitely let everyone know because that would be big news and certainly a more exciting story. For now though, I would like to write a bit about those things, habits and character traits that we all have that, while not particularly damaging to ourselves or to others, tend to make life more difficult than it should be.

I always take the little notepads from hotels. They are usually pocket size and easy to carry with me when i can’t have full-size notebooks.

In the picture above are two writing samples, both the work of my right hand. On the left side of the picture is a scribbled note from about 2 years ago that i found in my book-bag tonight (not sure if that’s good or bad) from when I was working out of town and had to utilize the local laundromat. At about 25-26 years old, this was the first time I had done this, that I know of, and it was unreasonably complex for me. I’ll add in transcript of the note below (if I can decipher it) but that isn’t the focus of this post. If it was, it would have been part of the thesis in the introductory paragraph.

When i came across this note, as I do fairly often (not this specific note. That would be asinine. Rather, i have many little notes that I write and leave scattered in just as many places only to be much later found, read, pondered for a short amount of time, and then set back down to discover in another few years), I spent a couple minutes looking through the scribbles trying to figure out exactly what I had wrote down. It took until the word laundry before I recalled the context of what was written. Past-Brian didn’t really make it easy on me. It was pretty rambling (which i think is fair considering that it was stream of consciousness writing) and barely any sort of intelligible script.

 

Other than the content of the note itself, my mind was immediately bombarded with the familiar thought of “Why don’t you  write a little more legible on these notes. One day you’ll write the best thing you’ve ever written and you won’t be able to read it two weeks afterward.” I tried to explain to my mind that it wasn’t my fault. “You saw me, brain. I’ve been sitting here in Starbucks the whole time. It was past Brian. He did this to me. To us. In fact, you were there when he did it. Why didn’t you do anything?”  My brain darted its metaphoric eyes across the room, stammered a muffled response and promptly blurted out “Uhh…got to go.” He always leaves me like that. Now that I think of it, that is probably what happened in the laundromat. I digress.

All of us have certain behaviors that we do which end up circling back around and make our lives a little more difficult. Scribbling messy notes is just one example for me. Some others I can think of would be: leaving keys and other items in random places and then not being to find them when in a rush, saving tasks for the morning that should have been done the night before and coupling that with oversleeping, trying some party drug at a night club and winding up in Tijuana without any credentials or knowledge of the Spanish language. That last one admittedly has never happened to me, but I imagine a person would have some choice words for their past-self if they found them self in that situation. (Note: I use ‘past-self’ not ‘former-self’, as I am simply talking about a change in time and ‘former-self”, I believe, has a connotation of a person who has had personality and character changes)

The point, as I am sure most of you have been trying to figure out, is that we have these behaviors that have negative, albeit usually minor, consequences on our lives and yet we continue to do these things and rarely change our behavior. I like to joke (kind of) that since past-me screwed present-me, I get to screw future-me because why not? I need to punish someone for my mistakes and I’ll be long gone by time he gets on the scene. Have fun, future Brian. Godspeed. (Everyone has conversations with themselves through the time continuum, right?)

I can’t really explain why we continually make poor decisions (small or large) — well, I can, but I don’t want to ramble on for too much longer. Suffice it to say that in the same way these things become bad habits, we must, if we want to, move in the opposite direction and replace them with good habits. Whatever it is, we can’t simply rely on the plan that we will remember in the moment and be able to alter our ingrained behavior. That rarely, if ever, works. Good habits are the key so that the positive decisions don’t have to be consciously performed. The bad ones aren’t. This takes work and is often more difficult as we are not starting at zero on the scale. If you’re like me, we have managed to put ourselves somewhere in the negative numbers. First, we must do an about-turn and work our way back to net-zero. Then from there, in an uphill struggle, we may begin to build a positive change in our own lives. Once the good becomes habitual, more good behavior starts to become easier. Little goods lead to larger goods the same way that little bads lead to bigger bads. The timing and difficulty will vary from person to person and with each behavior.

Suffice it to say that in the same way these things become bad habits, we must, if we want to, move in the opposite direction and replace them with good habits.

So, while I do usually carry around notebooks to help keep my notes in one place (for whatever reason I have never got in the habit of just using the notes app on my phone. It’s probably related to the reason why I prefer actual books over E-books and pen and paper to typing), I’m going to start writing a little more clearly. It’s just some very, very small steps, which I often find to be the best type of steps when working towards self-improvement. If you notice, back in the top photo, on the right side, in one of my many notebooks is a brief entry. While it was still a free-write with no clear direction, I wrote in all capital letters, as I tend to do when not in a hurry (also not unlike a sociopath, or so I have been told). This is harder than jotting things down quickly and makes my hand cramp up about twice as fast, but I can always read the notes and it looks nice and neat. I actually started this practice when working in the scene shop for the Theatre Department in college. When doing construction, it’s best to write in capital letters as it helps eliminate confusion for you and others when reading notes.

What about you? What is a small, annoying habit you find yourself doing and what are some small steps you can do to help break it?


Here is the transcript of the note, which I’ll probably write about in another post someday. And yes, the poor grammar hurts me, but I gave you a photo so I don’t want people to call me out for editing it.

 “Man, what an exciting moment it is when you are faced with a pretty trivial, common experience but feel lost doing it because you never had to do it before. It should be pretty simple. Go in, find a machine, put clothes in, pay, do that twice. Oh, it is that simple. But there’s hidden curve-balls. Buy detergent, so many buttons to push, lots of directions to read. All the while looking like an idiot because you don’t know how to do laundry. Still easier than doing taxes for the first time. “

 

**Note: There is more on the back that seems to be related but isn’t pertinent to this post and it almost seems like there is a missing page, which i’m not sure how that happens between the front and back of a page, but if I do write a post regarding this, I’ll include that content.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Photography #4: Ottawa Park Snowy Day

Recently had some time to stop over to Ottawa Park in Toledo on a Saturday Morning at the end of a morning snow to take some shots before anyone else came and make a bunch of marks in the snow (I had the privilege of messing up a lot of it lol)

Photography #3: Lighting up the Neighborhood

It’s the time of year where you can drive around the different neighborhoods and view the lights and  decorations that people have put up in their yard. While I Don’t have nearly the amount of Xmas cheer to go through that process, I can enjoy the lights and decorations for what they are. This year, the ever-looming presence over Toledo that is the Premedica Healthcare System, by far knocked the competition out of the park. It’s perpetual daylight within 3 blocks of the hospital where their grand Holiday display shines for all to see. Some people seem to think it’s a construction site, but i don’ think so.

 

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Toledo Hospital. December 19, 2017. Brian Purdue

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Toledo Hopital. December 5, 2017

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Toledo Hospital. December 5, 2017

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Toledo Hospital. December 5, 2017

Photography #2 : Downtown Toledo

A few shots of Downtown Toledo (fine, the one is of the East Side, but who cares?).

The PNC Building  on a warm sunrise (“Invest in Gold”) and then on a cold lunch hour (Freeze all Assets”).

Sunrise showing through one of the many cloud factories around the city ( “The Cloud Factory”)