Journal

Screens

I dreamt last night of family I’ve never met. My father’s people. My dream people. It was a fitting end to a very lackluster day. I spent most of it in front of screens, and I had this strong desire to turn everything off and focus on something physical. I looked through my books and remembered I had bought Kafka on the Shore before the pandemic hit. I took this picture before I started reading it, a promise to myself to slow down and appreciate the time I have.

I’ve been thinking a lot about time, about whether I’ve wasted too much of it in front of screens, both the digital and the physical. I look out my window and at the mesh screen and dream about going outside, but the pull of the digital screen is too strong. I want to shut it all down and drive away sometimes, but my doubt and anxiety can be overwhelming. In my notebook yesterday, I wrote, “Thinking about whether I got what it takes.” I was thinking about my writing, but it can apply to this, too. I asked my friends for directions to a quiet and secluded spot by the river. I hope I go there soon.

Voices

Drank last night. Been battling through some of the voices in my head and wondering if I’ve discovered something new. There’s that voice I hear when I write in my journal. Another when I write my fiction. And now I hear a confluence of the two when writing online. I drank to figure it out but all I got was sleepy.

I’m paying more attention to my days. That’s been an unwritten goal of mine for a long time, and all it took was writing it down in my notebook and capturing it with my camera. The question I ask myself is whether my life is reflected in my notebook or my notebook reflected in my life. Is there a difference?

Blindness

Once, a friend of mine introduced me to one of her friends as the tech guy. Her friend looked me over and said, “You look like a tech guy,” and smiled before we did shots together. I told her it probably because of my glasses. “No, you just look smart,” she said. I nodded, finished my beer, and ordered another one.

I can’t see without my glasses. The world is blurry when I take them off and clear again when I put them on. Writing, for me, is like putting on my glasses. My thoughts and feelings come into focus. I write because I want to remember the past. I want to remember what I felt and saw, what I thought was worthy of writing down. Otherwise, I’m blind. I move through the world in a blurry fog of shapes and colors. Sometimes I wonder if that’s not the perfect metaphor for humanity.

Remember when Rick Perry started to wear glasses? He tried to look the part, and in a way, he succeeded. I read yesterday that because of the coronavirus, black people have lost over 45k years of life. Latinos have lost over 48k. White people have lost 33k. Meanwhile, the Europeans have banned Americans from entering their country because of how our government handled this crisis. I write this down to remember it later.

Apple

Apple started their online-only developer’s conference yesterday, and as I watched the entire two-hour keynote, I felt a certain unease because I know this company has their hooks into me deep. What are they going to announce to keep me in their ecosystem for years to come? The new iOS 14 and their customizable home screen? The new iPadOS 14 and its ability to handwrite in search fields? What about the new watchOS 7 and its ability to automatically detect when you start washing your hands? Is there nothing more 2020 than that? How about the option to customize your Memoji with a face mask?

There’s no other company’s logo that’s as prominent in my life than Apple’s. Their products are around my wrist, in my ears, and in my wallet. I stare at screens small enough to fit in my pocket and big enough to draw on. They power my entire home entertainment system and stay on all day to backup my files. If any of these products fail, I don’t worry because I know I’ll replace them immediately. Am I living in the best of times or the worst of times? Sometimes I can’t tell.

Montana added 32 more coronavirus cases yesterday. More states are reopening. The first wave hasn’t ended yet but people are under the delusion that we’re on the second. Our government wants to stop more immigrants from entering our country, and I’m over here counting Apple logos like sheep before I fall asleep.

Father’s Day

My father died twelve years ago, on the 18th of June, 2008. I graduated from USC a month before, and he was too sick to travel from San Diego to see me. I had been down to visit him about a month before that, but we didn’t talk much. We never really talked much, and when we did, the conversations were so trivial that I barely remember any of them now. It was Father’s Day yesterday, and I tried to think of anything I owned that either came from him or reminded me of him. I couldn’t think of anything.

There were a lot of things I never asked my dad. I never asked him to teach me how to shave. Or how to drive. Or how to talk to girls. I never asked him to tell me about his life growing up. Or to give me any advice on how to be a man. Or advice on how to live. I never asked him how to fix cars, even though I knew that’s what he loved to do. But he did teach me one thing, one thing I just now remembered.

When I was a kid, I liked to draw. I remember I loved to draw Power Rangers. Tommy was my favorite, especially when he was the white ranger. I remember I was having trouble drawing his helmet, and I had erased and re-erased my sketch so many times that the fibers of the paper started to come off. I asked my dad if he could draw him for me because I knew my dad was a great artist. He didn’t. Instead, he told me to keep going. That I’m only going to get better if I keep drawing. And so I did.

If anything, my dad taught me to keep going, and that has been one of the greatest gifts he could ever give me. I’m as independent and self-reliant as I am because of him, and I really couldn’t ask for a better gift than that. Thank you.

A guitarist

There’s a scene early on in The Last of Us Part II where Ellie and Dina find an old music store, and as they explore it, Ellie finds an acoustic guitar inside a black hard shell case. She opens it up, grabs the guitar, and starts playing a few notes before breaking into a melancholy song while Dina lies by her feet and listens. It’s a beautiful scene, not least of which is the story behind Ellie first learning how to play the guitar. Four years prior, Joel gives her his guitar and promises to teach her how to play. It’s a touching scene in a game full of them.

I bought my first guitar in March, a Gibson G–45 acoustic in standard walnut and handcrafted in Bozeman, Montana. A few months prior, a friend of mine lent me one of his guitars that I played on and off, never seriously and never really that well. But when I received this Gibson G–45 acoustic guitar, in the middle of lockdown no less, something new was sparked within me. I opened the package, pulled out the hard case, and grabbed the guitar. It was light and smelled wonderful. I tuned it and played the few chords I knew and loved the sound. It was warm and the strings felt great under my fingertips.

Wishing you were one thing and actually becoming it are two very different things. Before owning my guitar, I felt like a pretender, like someone who wished to be a guitar player rather than being one. After owning my guitar, I felt different. I felt that not only could I be a guitarist but that I would be a guitarist. Since then, I’ve been practicing on a near daily basis, and even though I’m still not good enough to play in front of people, I’m on that road. I can see it, I can feel it, and I can taste it.

While I watched Ellie play, I felt all of those emotions rise up again. I picked up my guitar, wrapped the strap around my shoulder, and started playing.

Wearing a mask

Montana recorded 11 new cases of the coronavirus yesterday. Someone I know had a family member test positive for the virus earlier this week. The curve is trending up, and I recently heard Dr. Fauci state that we’re still in the first wave of this pandemic and not the second that some people thought we were in, myself included. I’ve become complacent when it comes to staying safe and practicing everything every smart person in the world is telling us: wear a mask, practice social distancing, wash your hands frequently, etc. Last night I went out drinking with a few friends. I had a lot of fun but was it worth the risk? I have a mask. I bought it in May, and I’ve been wearing it only when going to Walmart to buy food. I haven’t been wearing it at work or at the local grocery store or at the bars I visited last night. I keep it in my bag, but I don’t bring my bag everywhere. The coronavirus has only been in America for four months, but it feels like a lifetime.

I played The Last of Us Part II yesterday. The Last of Us was the very first game I played when I bought my PS4 Pro, and it was a game I loved almost from the outset. The same is true for its sequel. In the world of the game, an outbreak of a mutant fungus infects the world, turning the infected into zombie-like creatures. It’s an interesting game to play when the world is going through its own pandemic, but unlike the world of The Last of Us, our world didn’t need a mutant fungus to turn us all into brainless zombies; we just needed to elect a reality television star.

Today is officially the first day of summer, and I plan to spend it with some friends. I don’t plan to wear a mask even though everyone everywhere is telling me I should. I guess I’m a brainless zombie, too.

Let’s go!

So, here it is, my very first blog post on my brand new website. It’s been a long road to get here, and I’m still unsure about what I want and what I want to do with this space. I think for now, I want to continue journaling like I usually do, but with some changes to make them a bit less personal and a bit more amenable for the open web. I just want to write, but I also want my own space online, so here we are.

For the past decade, I’ve kept a private journal. First in doc files, then in Moleskine notebooks, then in Day One, and finally as simple text files. Some of them did turn into blog posts on a blog that no longer exists (for now), but mostly, these files have been private. For my eyes only. But I’ve had this urge to share some of them for a few years because I really feel like I’ve discovered some insights into my own behavior that might help others out there. I also just want a place where I can share my photography in a place other than social networks. So again, here we are.

My plan is to write a short entry every morning, but only after I journal briefly in my notebook. So what was usually one activity—a very long journal entry every morning—will now be turned into two activities: a short journal entry in my notebook and a short blog entry with a photo on this website. I’m not sure what the road ahead looks like, but I’m eager to find out. I’m bursting with ideas, though, and I’m glad I’m starting this. Let’s go!

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