.journal 2001.03.31
Birthday thoughts and other stuff.

Now listening to: Recoil, Unsound Methods
Now reading: Poppy Z. Brite, Exquisite Corpse
Now playing: Final Fantasy II (Super Nintendo)

Well, a couple of weeks ago I turned twenty-, er, I mean, I had a birthday. And I guess it's saying something that the highlight of the day for me was being able to chat with both L. and C., and not the presents I got. Normally I look upon my birthday and Christmas as an opportunity to get lots and lots of free stuff, but being with friends is starting to mean more to me than getting presents. Is this a sign that I'm actually growing up and maturing? Please, perish the thought.

Anyway, the big present this year for my birthday was a real camera. I've still got one set of disposable camera snaps to scan and get up here, those being of the March snow at Wildwood, but after that everything you see on here will be the product of an Olympus Trip AF 30. Okay, it's hardly the pinnacle of photographic excellence, but hey, I got it for free, I can't complain. Plus I guess I'm still figuring out all this photographic stuff, and so I should probably start with something cheap and simple, then maybe later if I really get more involved with photography I can spring for something more expensive and complicated. I've already taken two rolls at Wildwood, but I still have to get the prints back for those. But that photography section will be getting updated soon, I swear it.

I also got a garlic press, which I really appreciated because I've started to get back into cooking again recently. I don't know what it is, but every few years I just start getting into doing my own cooking and I go apeshit. And the garlic press helps because I definitely come from the Emeril Lagasse school of flavouring dishes. You wouldn't believe all the things I put Essence in; the only thing I've put Essence in that it didn't improve was pizza - that was a failure, I have to admit.

But speaking of pizza, I recently had the opportunity to travel down to Toledo's first Bed Bath and Beyond store, which given my current culinary capers is like a mecca to me, and I walked out with my very first pizza stone, as well as a cutting board that is currently serving as a pizza peel because they didn't have any pizza peels in stock. I am a full-bore pizza hound, but one of the things I've discovered in my weight loss journey is that even using DietWatch to calculate it into my diet, I seem to do better losing weight if I don't eat take-out pizza. It's not the fat and calories, it's just that pizza and ice cream, for some reason, stifle my weight loss more than equal amounts of fat and calories from other sources.

Homemade pizza didn't seem to affect me so much, but up until recently homemade pizza for me consisted of store-bought pizza sauce and the powdered junk you add water to and spread out on a cookie sheet, then joking call "pizza dough." But now that I've got my own tools, I can make my own pizza dough and sauce, and not only am I able to make it healthier than the store-bought stuff, but oh my word is this stuff yummy yummy yummy. I'm still kind of perfecting everything; I think I need a stronger yeast flavour in the dough and not so much sweetness in the sauce, but I may not be ordering pizza out even when I go into weight maintenance mode, the pizza I'm making is so good.

Anyway, to get back to my birthday, Jeff always has a knack for the right gift, and since his brother's car recently broke down once and for all, Jeff ripped the license plate off the front of it, as a reminder of when I passed my driving test in it. Okay, so maybe Jeff isn't a big spender, but come on, he's a college kid to start with, and his gift was the only one that got me to crack a smile. Hell, getting me to smile is a Herculean effort in and of itself, and for that alone Jeff should be commended, let alone giving me a truly sweet present.

But like I said, chatting with L. and C. was really what made me the most happy on my birthday. L.'s been kind of busy recently because she's been getting a new job, but she still manages to find time to chat with me, and for that I am grateful. Actually I think I've been chatting with C. more than anyone else recently, because the more she and I learn about each other, the more we realize how alike we are. Not only that, but C. is a terrific muse, and has been a real inspiration in my creative work recently. And, of course, whenever anyone helps me be more creative, I immediately become grossly indebted to that person and make a nuisance of myself trying to pay that debt off, and C. has been remarkably patient and tolerant towards me in that aspect of our relationship. Now that's the mark of a true friend.

So my birthday came and went, but of course my father's birthday is only a few days after mine, and this was the year he turned 55, thus officially qualifying both my parents for AARP benefits. Yes, that does make me feel older, thanks for asking. Things haven't been easy recently because of his father's condition, which seems to have been on the edge of terminal for the last six months, and of course that's making him think about what would happen to me and my sister should something happen to him.

I won't sugar-coat the relationship I have with my father; it's incredibly rocky, and the only real love we have for each other is that perfunctory parent-child love that's more of a primative instinct than a genuine care and concern for each other. At least it's better than the relationship I have with everyone else on his side of the family, who would disown me if there were any way they could legally do so. But despite this, my father is insisting that I try to make the trip up to Michigan to see my grandfather one last time, to "make my peace" with him. But what my father fails to realize is that I've already made my peace with him as best I could, and me going up there is only going to strain everyone even more than they are already in this situation.

I never really got a chance to make peace with my maternal grandfather because he passed away from a heart atttack, and it was the first real "death in the family" experience I had. But even if I'd had some advanced warning about the death, there was no way I could have gone up there to see him. Everyone in my family who's a step or two removed from my mother or father simply comes from a different time, and most of them are also highly religious. As a result, they are all either unable or unwilling to accept me for who I am and how I live my life. And it's moments like this when this relationship bothers me so much, but at the same time I recognize that there's nothing I can do about it.

Unfortunately my father doesn't seem to understand this, and he thinks I can just shed this skin off, don a disguise and become the good little christian for the rest of the family's sake. And I can't do that. I spent too long of my life trying to fit into the molds that other people tried to squeeze me into, and that's how I got so screwed up. People have to accept me for who I am, from my family to my friends to total and complete strangers, and if they can't do that then that is their problem, and I can't worry about that. Even if it is my own flesh and blood at their most distressed time. I still have to be true to myself first.

What things boil down to, and it hurts me to say this, but I don't even think my own father can love me for who I am. While my father might not be as religious as the rest of his family, he's still incredibly set in his ways, and his concept of how the world should behave is so set in stone that it's stupid to even try to talk to him about seeing things in other ways. He gets in his head an idea of how something should be, and he can't change that. And as his child and co-worker, I'm a real target for his beliefs. But I can't be the person he wants me to be, I have to be myself, and as a result there is a tremendous amount of strife between us and there probably will be until the day one of us dies. And nothing is ever going to change that.

So for all the grief that my father has given me, what did I give him for his birthday? A brand new DVD player. Yes, I'm messed up, thanks for reminding me. Well, he is still my father, what can I say.

Actually, the trip to Best Buy to get the DVD player was two-fold, because my old VCR was rapidly biting the dust. The VCR was a present from six birthdays ago, and it was a floor sample to start with, so that should give you an idea of what kind of shape it was in. Things were okay with it for awhile, but then it just started making these noises a few days ago and I knew something was up and I'd better do something before it started eating my tapes. In point of fact, the living room VCR ate one of my yoga tapes recently, and my sister had to replace her VCR as well, so it was like a regular epidemic around here.

So while I was getting the DVD player I scouted out VCRs, and last Thursday I went back to Best Buy and got myself a brand new four-head Sony. I certainly like the machine enough, but can someone please tell me why everyone is designing VCRs these days that don't show the time when they're on and have a tape in them? I've been relying on my VCR as the primary clock in my room for years now, and now I'm having to relearn everything and it really stinks. And why in the hell don't any VCRs tape in LP mode anymore? I always tape on SP whenever I can, of course, but I always liked LP as a "happy medium" between SP and EP for those three-hour shows, like, say, the Academy Awards. Oh well, better I get the new VCR than have my old one degenerate into a box of rust that took my precious tape collection and turned it into so much crumpled film.

Since I got the DVD player, though, I decided to do a bit of DVD shopping as well. In case you couldn't tell from my most recent journal entry, I did get the Dancer in the Dark DVD, of course, and it kicks mucho ass. I still have to go through the choreographer's commentary, but I've been through everything else and it totally rocks. I'm just surprised the movie itself doesn't get me to cry, given how much of a water fountain I tend to become around the right video game or anime. I'm pretty sure I'll be devoting a journal entry to deconstructing Dancer in the Dark here soon, now that I'm able to rewind the movie and go over parts as often as I want, so be on the lookout for that.

I also found the Bubblegum Crisis Megaseries DVD set at Best Buy, and picked it up. I'd originally passed on the original boxed set because they screwed up, not even putting the DVDs in DVD cases but instead jewel cases. But this boxed set has all DVD cases (although not all the cases in my boxed set use the same disc release mechanism), plus the two Hurricane Live videos I never bothered to pick up back in the VHS days. Bubblegum Crisis was the first anime I ever bought, and still stands out as one of my favourites. While anime has evolved a whole lot since the time Bubblegum Crisis was made (although from what I've heard you wouldn't know it by watching the new Bubblegum Crisis 2040 series), it still remains an incredibly solid series and a great way to kill a Sunday. I should know, because I'll be spending tomorrow watching the whole thing. (I really need to catch up on my anime-watching, though; I still need to watch Neon Genesis Evangelion, for crying out loud!)

And as is my usual, whenever I get my debit card out, I figure I might as well get what I can get my hands on, so I completed my Sarah McLachlan DVD collection (for now) by picking up Mirrorball. Unfortunately I kind of knew from the Mirrorball CD what I was in for with this DVD, which was a concert where all the songs seemed rushed and the whole performance was shockingly bereft of the personal touch that so defines Sarah and who she is. Especially when you compare her Mirrorball performance to the Fumbling Towards Ecstasy Live performance, you realize how lacking Mirrorball was. Mind you, Sarah is still Sarah, and Mirrorball on CD or DVD is still well worth its cost, but I still found myself wanting more. Oh well, there's always the next concert.

Finally, I'm sad to report that my experience with Lords of Acid has taken a turn for the worse. As I wrote last time, I recently picked up FarstuckerLust as well. So I put both CDs in my player and fire it up. While I didn't like Lust as much as I liked Farstucker, I still liked it plenty enough, except for one little thing: there was another skip on the twelvth track. Eep. So after Lust was done, Farstucker rotated itself in to be played ... and skipped in the exact same place as my first copy of it!!! Cripes. So now I have to go back to Media Play and have a nice little talk with the manager, and hopefully get this resolved. I just want the CDs, because I really, really like them both, but I can't tolerate skips on my CDs, I'm sorry, especially when they skip right out of the packaging. Hopefully I can work something out.

Anyway, I think that's all the junk I wanted to get out here to close out the month. I'm really in the mood to do something totally egotistical and self-serving in my journal here (yeah, like this journal isn't egotistical and self-serving enough, I know), but we'll see how that goes. At the very least I want to get the other sections updated, because I have plenty of photos to go up and I should also have some poetry here for you soon. But it felt good to do a non-thematic entry here, and I hope you enjoyed my blathering. Keep coming back here for more from my delusional mind, and I'll see you all soon.

- Sean