with things slowing down after Christmas, it's a good time to take a break and show what i was up to as a masters of visualization student at texas a&m.
i had three classes: an intro to animation class, a computer programming class, and a class called either "design communication" or "visual communication" (i can never remember which it is) and which i could only describe as an experimental film class.
there really isn't much to show from my programming class unless you want to see some C code. i made a few interesting things, including a very basic painting program, although i feel like i could understand a lot of it better, which is why i've been reading "C programming for dummies" over my break.
i'll post about my animation class later, just because i feel like talking about my experimental film class at the moment.
over the semester, we had three projects to do, each around some rather loose parameters, which helped yield a very wide range of work. for our third an final one, we were to use letters in some way, but the letters could not be used to form actual words or meaning in that way. apart from that, pretty much anything goes (as long as it was between thirty seconds to a minute thirty, or so).
(there were several interesting products, including one short animation about a letter I trying out for the team. it took me a moment to get the joke, that there's "no I in team".... so the I comes back dressed up like an E)
for the previous project i had done my multiple interviews video, which i was quite happy with and which was a project that came from my heart. but in early november i was feeling rather bland and in some kind of creative drought and, when the day came to pitch our ideas, i still didn't have much. at least, nothing that i was passionate about. and you can't really work on an idea that you aren't passionate about.
i like fonts. i think typography is cool. since my freshman days at byu, i've been intrigued by the potential of working with single-frame images. about mashing images at 24-frames a second. how well would we see something like that?
24 frames a second.... there are 26 letters in an alphabet, so you could show an entire front in just over one second.... interesting.....
that was about as well-developed as any of the ideas i had when it came my turn to pitch (and this was even after we were given an extra day since the first day's pitches went long).
i stood up to the class and showed this.
i think it confused the heck out of them.
after about ten seconds, i could hear mutterings coming from the class.
when the thirty-two-second video ended, i explained that there was one drawing of that little guy shown each second. i wanted to try something with letters and fonts, too.
to look at a font in a second, to flash thirty fonts in front of the screen in thirty seconds, stripping it down to the raw essence of it all. i envisioned a strong techno drum beat behind it all.
"ok...." my teacher said. "that sounds interesting."
i felt like it was such a lame idea that when we met to show our storyboards/design ideas at the next class period i didn't even bring anything, hoping to talk with her about figuring out a new idea. "i quite liked your idea," she told me, sounding genuinely surprised that i thought it was a dud.
even if i wasn't emotionally behind it, i had enough going on in my other classes and beyond that if this was good enough for her, it was good enough for me.
my proof of concept for the piece was about five seconds long and took me three coldplay albums to complete. i liked how it was looking.
the rest of the piece took me about as long, as i had figured out some ways to streamline the process. i had our t.a. compose some music for it. at first, i wanted something super simple, like one rapid-fire drum beat that would abruptly end, but i think his work still holds the essence of what i wanted while still helping carry along a rather esoteric piece.
the other evolution that happened was that my original plan was to just go in alphabetical order. but after some discussion in class, i opted to change things up a bit. but not at first. a through e are in order, then i skipped f and went to g, maybe leaving people wondering if they thought they just missed f (that is, if anyone was able to follow along). after that, i started to move things all over in as random order as i could figure. and for the heck of it, i broke up x and just tossed in an x wherever i felt like it. there are 32 x-es in there (i think i ended up using 32 fonts), just not next to each other.
the only thing i would like to change is that all of the fonts for each letter come in the same order, so there's a rhythmic pattern there that i really don't care for, but it's not the end of the world.
it's odd and abstract, but i'm really quite fond of this thing, which is why it's the one i want to write about right now (which is good, since the other two posts will be about pieces that are more appealing to you. ...hopefully.)
the day after Christmas in a deep and dark december.
fast away the old year passes.
hope is patience and i continue to learn. for my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, saith the Lord. for as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts.
a whole lot of boneless chicken wings of all flavors (editor's note, 3:03 a.m.: too much chicken...), a few rounds of cherry coke, a slice of rich chocolate cake with ice cream and more chocolate, plenty of heckling, harassing, and haranguing, and some very competitive trivia gaming (and a weird picture of me). happy tabernash.
i don't have a photo editor available, so these pictures are uncorrected, but i still think they're pretty seriously dang. with all the duties of being a host, i didn't get much time to simply enjoy the muppet party. and so it was nice to just sit around (and jump around...) telling stories and laughing at the impromptu after party.
my nephew wrote me an email a few days ago. i thought it was pretty great and wanted to share it. aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaasssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssdddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggg
i was first part of a "desert island" discussion one night in someone's basement during my freshman year of high school. it's the standard question of "what five cds would you take if you were on a deserted island for the rest of your life." i remember miah listing the counting crows's debut album as one of his. matt no doubt listed a pink floyd album or two. and as i was still rather green in the realm of music, i think i just tossed out some r.e.m. cds, not that anyone was really paying attention to me anyway.
i like lists and i like debating them. is the godfather part two really better than the first, or is it the other way around? everyone lists "sgt. pepper" as the greatest beatles album, but how do you compare it to "abbey road"?
on my gray post-it board on my room in high school, i would pin up my top ten list of cds for the benefit of all who came into my room. "whatever and ever amen" by ben folds five was number one, followed by the "lost highway" soundtrack (perfect for night driving in those days) and the soundtrack to "the nightmare before Christmas." i really don't remember what was on the rest of that list, although i think i put green day's very first album at number ten.
similarly, as my interests dovetailed into movies, i had a firm list of my top ten movies as well. in the summer after high school, my top three movies of all time were "pulp fiction", "the nightmare before Christmas", and "breakfast at tiffany's." in the ensuing years, when i would try to stand a little taller and decided that even the tv version of "pulp fiction" was a little too rough for me, i wondered when i would find another movie that would so completely knock me off my socks in brilliance, ingenuity, and sheer awesomeness. and while i don't list it on my top ten, i still recognize it for what it is. but i have new favorites.
so, what would be my five desert island movies today? "fanny and alexander", "bill and ted's excellent adventure", "2001", "seven samurai", and "singin' in the rain." who knows? those first three kind of make up my trinity of favorites, and i'm looking forward to making some time to watch "fanny and alexander" this week.
cds? "marvin's marvelous mechanical museum" (that's tally hall's cd, fyi), "the orb's adventures in the ultraworld" by the orb, and, um... hmmm. shoot. i love "london calling" by the clash and "pet sounds" by the beach boys (even listing that as my #1 fave for a while), as well as "abbey road" and some favorites by they might be giants, r.e.m., the eels ("electroshock blues" would be a contender...) but that list is much more fluid and dynamic.
however, what if you could only take one? only one cd to listen to, only one movie on the island? is there one that you can enjoy when you're happy and when you're sad? during loneliness hours and in times of ecstatic dancing?
fanny and alexander? ...maybe. my first viewing left me thinking of it as cinematic perfection and i don't back down from that, but is it too heavy to be the only movie i'd ever watch? 2001? it transcends the walls of filmmaking and makes my most selective list of "movies that are so good i want to scream" (and i did during the intermission of the last time i saw it), but again, pretty serious, and for as serious as i am, i think i want something lighter and more fun.
bill and ted? quite possibly. i love it so dearly not because it is Cinematic Art, but because it is what it is--a story about two dudes who save the world in a time-traveling phone booth--and it is completely unashamed of itself. no, i don't get the high culture of film that i enjoy with it, but i love it.
maybe the seven samurai, since it has action, drama, and humor all wrapped up in the greatest filmmaking ever. but it doesn't really feel like it's my movie.
bill and ted is mine.
music is much easier.
if i could to only one cd for the test of my life, i would choose without hesitation or regret: tally hall's marvin's marvelous mechanical museum.
it first seemed like a fun psuedo-novelty cd from some offbeat band, yet as i've listened to it over one hundred times (and probably two hundred, in all honesty), it has never gotten tired or trite. rather, i've found new depths, brilliance, insight, and lyricism in songs that first bored me (actually, i find myself skipping "banana man" sometimes, but goofiness is cool, too). the more i listen to it in more facets of my life, the more i love it. i loved it when i first heard it and i love it today.
of the three classes that i have, 613: intro to 3-D animation is a steamroller. no matter how much work i do in that class, there's always more to be done.
very frustrating, at times.
there are major deadlines for the class spread throughout the semester, but, by and large, we work on our own schedules. which means you can spend a lot of time on it, or you can let a week or two go by with only putting in a few hours at the lab. but whether you dedicate yourself in the lab or just spend a little time there, it's still there. the final project is still going to be due in december. and while it's easy to take a day off now, at some point, you're going to have to face it. you're going to have to do the work. so you may as well stop avoiding it now.
in the early weeks of october, i had a lot on my mind. my brain never seems to shut off in the first place (a trait that drives me crazy at times yet i wouldn't have it any other way) and with all that was happening in my life, i was getting good at holding roundtable discussions with myself.
in my "experimental film" class, we looked at the work of artists like david hockney, examining the concept of looking at scenes in life from different perspectives and viewpoints. hockney worked mostly in still photographs and an option for our assignment was to apply those principles in a video format.
sitting in a couch outside the department offices, i started jotting down some ideas that were lame and aimless but would fulfill the parameters of the assignment. but mostly, i was thinking about utah. about all that i had left behind there. how long would it take me to build a new life here? would i always be feeling the gap that i had left behind? i certainly wasn't off to a good start here. most times, i really wasn't the movie night/rock bander that me and my friends loved in the red door. i was still me, but not the awesome me. hmmm. there's different sides of me, too. i wished i could be awesomejeff all the time, or, rather, i felt like i should be, but i was ok being whatever jeff i felt like being and i hoped that was ok, too. i mean, it's still me. i started writing down ideas in my notebook, quickly scribbling, sometimes with real intensity, sometimes in different directions on the page, partly because i didn't want to lose any ideas, partly because i was in a mad artistic fervor, and partly because i thought i would be cool if it looked like i wrote this in a mad artistic fervor.
at any rate, i had my idea: i would interview myself, four times, each time as a different facet of myself. the interviews would be played simultaneously, with identical questions being asked, and all four answers would be honest and accurate, even if they seemed to contradict. if we can look at an object or a person from different angles, why not do the same thing on an internal and emotional level?
i shot a test of it and generally liked it. i saw some things to change and fix (we all know i saw "um" a lot, but when there's four of me thinking aloud at the same time, that became something to fix for the actual shoot). the emotional honesty of this kind left me feeling self-indulgent and self-conscious when i showed it in front of my class, but once i got over that, i'm actually really happy with how it turned out (even though there are four or five things i would love to fix in this, including the low audio levels....)
a few closing remarks:
1) the final question (as well as the project's working title) come from transformers: the movie.
2) if you've been a regular reader of this blog and don't think i'm a nutter already, this video isn't going to phase you.
i didn't have a whole lot of time to think about a halloween costume this week (tuesday was another all-nighter in the lab, which then pretty much blew wednesday, leaving enough time only to nap before heading for the houston temple, as i'm still getting used to the idea that temple trips are a half-day affair here). luckily, on sunday or monday, my elder's quorum president invited me to join with him and his roommate to be their "third amigo". they had found some mexican costumes at wal-mart and said that if i want to grab one, i was welcome to join the fiesta. great, an idea and a costume, all taken care of for me. works.
but when friday rolled around, i stopped by wal-mart and could find neither the amigo costume of the alternate whoopie cushion idea they had suggested. meh, i think i had my phantom of the opera costume still lying around somewhere, probably in a box in a pile in one of my two closets (which is exactly where i did find it). still, i had ditched my make-up kit when i made the move to the lone star state (had it since high school, been sitting in my hot attic, it was time...)
a block or two from my apartment is a temporary halloween store and i soon had a few options to work with. if you're going to do the phantom, you need to have something nasty to hide under your mask. i considered some rubber wound to apply with spirit gum but managed to find a makeup package that came with monster makeup, several different kinds of fake blood (the phantom doesn't really bleed, but it's fun to play with fake blood...), and a few options for scars. sold.
the scar goo was some really sticky gunk that you rubbed with your hands to make pliable then applied to wherever you wanted scarred. in my case, it was the right side of my face. at first, it looked like i had a fruit rollup hanging on my cheek, but with a little sculpting, it soon looked pretty great. i didn't have much for brushes or sponges and i think i went too far with the rest of the facial makeup. bah.
i put some sickly green makeup on the ride side of my face to augment the horrors hidden under the mask, but that didn't go quite as planned. when i got to the institute, the first person i saw was my hometeaching companion (whom i had just met on sunday) who was dressed suspiciously like a phantom from an opera. i told him we should have planned things better and he said, "don't worry" as he pulled out his phantom mask, to show that we weren't the same costume. i pulled my mask out of my pocket to show that, yes, we were.
so, in polite deference, i decided not to wear my mask, letting him be the phantom for the evening. (besides, it's pretty awkward and stupid-looking to walk around wearing my glasses over that half-mask) this left me having to explain myself for to pretty much everyone i talked to for the rest of the evening, since without the context of the mask, i looked more or less like a zombie in sunday clothes.
i was looking forward to the dance, since i'm generally better at meeting people from church when i'm not actually at church. and i like to dance, too. sadly, it didn't seem like the rest of the ward was as pro-dance as me. still, i found enough people to mingle with that the world didn't end, and managed to move and scoot a little when small groups of dancing appeared for a moment or two.
i got some time to talk with my f.h.e. mom, who was dressed as the fashion police (apparently off duty), and used to opportunity to get a picture to appease the people who were asking for a picture (you sisters know who you are...)
when i couldn't find the amigos costumes, i wasn't too distraught, but once i actually saw them, i was kind of bummed that i did also get a skittles-colored sarape. as a reasonable consolation, i really like my cape (it's got a hood that is long enough to easily drape over your whole face! looks really cool... i just haven't found a costume to use it with, yet) (i really liked the dude from korea who dressed as kim jong il, too)
plus, i met the secretive "we're over 30" crowd. they seemed pretty cool (really good rhett butler and scarlet o'hara costumes) and all this time i thought i was the only one...
tonight, i watched a really crazy pseudo-horror/comedy japanese movie.
this summer i worked a commercial with a way-cool german guy who was a camera assistant on the pirates of the caribbean movies. he had some really cool stories that made me glad i wasn't on those shows. he had also recently moved to utah and had an impressive experience on how he joined the church. and he said something that stuck with me: "i thought repentance would be the hardest part. but enduring to the end is much harder."
he wasn't being pessimistic or even giving up. it's simply the way things are.
it's one thing to make a decision to make changes, especially when you know that it's the right move. but when you've actually acted on that, left behind what you had in the jump to the better choice, it can be pretty dang rough.
hard to believe that there will actually be a better land ahead.
that the hardships you're going through now will lighten.
that the Lord does indeed see our sacrifices, that the battles we fight in the chambers of our heart are not meaningless, but that we are growing, moving to a better way of life.
that our joy we once felt will not be just returned, but in given in double.
i believe those things. i believe that, although the path has gotten dark and shadowy, that i'm just a little afraid of that dark but i trust that my Heavenly Father is walking with me, keeping me safe and is able to see further than my sudden near-sightedness.
utah, and all the various people there, i miss you.
at times, i wish that at the end of this semester i could pack everything up and be back behind the red door in time for a new season at the international cinema.
deep down, if you really asked me, i know i made the right choices.
these aren't the turns in my path i would have made for myself, but this is where my road goes, and i trust, even in the difficult footsteps.
but i wrote and manipulated 363 lines of code to make this pretty design. and with a little leftover time (before i head back into the lab for another full night of animating) i tried to give it an decent color scheme. it's something.
we talked a little about lighting and the look of our project this morning in class. i used "chungking express" at my example. the visual look of this movie is so tremendous it makes me want to scream sometimes.
i went for a walk tonight. i never go for walks. it was a full moon.
when i'm not watching "how to" videos for designing my character, here's a smattering of what i've been listening to lately, at home, at school, at play.
elephant by the white stripes
automatic for the people by r.e.m.
day & age by the killers
shepherd moons by enya
everything is wrong by moby
paul's boutique by the beastie boys
dark side of the moon by pink floyd
joseph and the amazing technicolor dreamcoat
thriller by michael jackson
x&y by coldplay
dial-a-song by they might be giants
comfort eagle by cake
radioactivity by kraftwerk
a day without rain by enya
global underground #30: paris by nick warren
around the sun by r.e.m.
pet sounds by the beach boys*
*amazon has "pet sounds" available for digital download for just $5 until the end of the month. it's often listed just after "sgt. pepper" as the greatest album ever made. i have no problem with that ranking. check it out.
while i don't regret my decisions, jumping on airplanes to fly around the country to shoot interviews can be detrimental and deleterious to one's graduate studies. i felt this most acutely in my 3-D animation class, which i've come to find out is the steamroller class that always has the first-years scrambling.
in the class, we make a 30-second movie based on a nursery rhyme. we do everything ourselves, from conceiving the story and designing the characters to modeling them (creating the 3-D sculpture in the computer) and then rigging (building a skeleton for it and defining how it can move) to texturing (making the flat gray surfaces look like cloth, bricks, grass, whipped cream, whatever) and animating (you know) to lighting (which is what i'm really here for). that's a ton to do in fifteen weeks.
for the base of my story, i chose "star light, star bright" and pitched two story ideas. the one i preferred (and chose) was a little boy entering his room in tears, holding a fatally damaged teddy bear. he set the bear on the his bed and goes to the window and aimlessly looks up. the evening star is just appearing. realizing the star, he looks back at his bear and then starts to wish with all his might. the last shot pulls back from behind him (still at the window) to reveal a repaired teddy bear sitting on his bed.
i wasn't feeling too swell after my first few weeks in texas and decided i wanted to do something genuinely positive and hopeful.
you can see my storyboards here. (for the record, i cannot navigate myself to save my life on this crazy new age "tumblr" blogger site....)
from there, we had start modeling our characters. it's highly recommended to draw things out before trying to create them in 3-D, so i did some sketches of my little guy.
i liked how my first drawings came out, except that he looked like he was 14 and i wanted someone about half that age. so i played around and found what things to change, such as:
making his neck thinner. a thick neck looked like a tough guy. a thin neck looked like my nephew.
straightening his body. broader shoulders tapering to a thinner waist looked like the popular guy at the school dance. a straighter body looked like he belonged on the playground.
(you can still see my notes to myself at the top right of the paper.)
at the same time, i thought about some other changes to help tell the story as clearly as possible in 30 seconds. i originally imagined him in a typical house, like andy's from toy story. i decided to change it to a mobile home in a trailer park (the last shot will be from the exterior as we hear his laugh with delight), to make his damaged toy that much more dire. also, i gave him baggy hand-me-down clothes to again emphasize his plight and create pathos for him.
...plus, baggy clothing allowed me to hide poor animation...
from my time as a semi-legal alien at byu, i knew i hated modeling, and we weren't getting along any better now. i built, hated, deleted, and restarted him at least four times. the upside to this was that i would spend two hours trying to design a head or an arm or a shirt sleeve and have it get increasingly convoluted to the point of uselessness, yet learned enough in the process that v2.0 would come out looking much better in about 10-20 minutes.
still, on the big day when all of our models were due, i spent the night flying back from las vegas and then driving from houston to a&m, arriving shortly before class started and having essentially NOTHING to show. it was not pretty.
and i seemed to be falling further and further behind, which made this worse less and less fun, until i told myself i would not leave the lab until all was finished. i didn't think i'd be pulling an all-nighter one month in to school, and there were times when i just sat there, hating this kid staring back at me, but i pushed on and it was such a relief to say he was done around 2 a.m.
i still had five more models to make, but he was by far the most complicated. and i found myself returning to him to make tweaks a few more times that night and even since then. just today i totally redesigned his eyes. they're much better and he can blink very easily, which will avoid some very ugly situations in animation.
creating his hair was a nightmare. i really liked the way it looked in my sketches, but how would i make that in three dimensions? i tried and hated it so many times that i seriously considered making him a leukemia patient, citing my failure to adding sympathy for him. i kept going, though, and found a way that created a look that i'm really happy with, actually. his body is kind of blocky and i'm ok with that, but his hair is pretty much just the way i want it. cool.
i looked at several different teddy bears and decided to base the design off of the one i had a child (and i did consider modeling mickey, for those of you who know (which is most of my readership, i think)).
yeah, the bear is kind of blocky. it was after three in the morning and i had to design another version with the head starting to tear off....
for his bed, i tried to keep it a little lumpy still. he's done his best to make his bed, but likely he has to do a lot of things for himself in the morning and doesn't have a whole lot of time to spend on a perfectly made bed. (the irony was that i didn't either--it was probably 4 in the morning by now--and a neatly made bed would have been much simpler...
currently, i'm pretty much caught up. i spent several hours in the lab today rigging his skeleton, actually kind of enjoying it and being grateful that i have rather low-impact animation in my story.
today our professor reminded us that this class is simply to get us acquainted with the program, not to be experts at it all.
many publications feel lucky if they reach their one hundredth mark. and that is a notable achievement. i remember editing our centenary post several years ago, feeling the excitement of having lasted six months. we posted more frequently in those early days, when our head writer was more dedicated to the craft. personally, i think he's gotten better over the years, learning the art of brevity (somewhat), although i wish he would respect deadlines as well. still, that's the publishing business, i suppose. and he's just so darn good.
it's been an honor to work as the editor for sheep go to heaven. i try to read several other blogs myself and am often very impressed at the passion, insight, and w;t exhibited in their writings. and yet i'm always happy to "come home", so to speak, and to look at the work we have produced here. looking over the nearly five years' worth of writing, a lot has happened. growth, changes, struggles, tears, frustrations, elations, and general perplexity is there in abundance. i took some time and went through to choose some of my favorites, and also asked our main writer to look the site over and choose his as well. it's quite a journey:
i'm in three classes: an intro to 3-D animation class, in which i am currently drowning; a class i can only describe as an experimental film class (and the one i am actually doing strong in), and a computer programming for dummies class. i have posts planned for the projects from those first two classes, just not the time to actually author them. but i wanted to share a little from the programming class.
i couldn't write a line of code to save my life. i tried to learn a little this winter at uvu but decided to take a genuine F in favor of snowboarding and don't regret it for a moment. (editor's note: if any future employers are reading this as part of building a character dossier on the author, the actual story is that i was offered work on two movies, back to back, during that time, but he prefers the wild romanticism of the snowboarding story) our first assignment in the programming for dummies class was to install linux on our computers.
in the world of computers, there are two armies: macs (the autobots) and windows/pcs (the decepticons). i have a mac at home that i do most of my work and living on and, last Christmas, got a cute little lappy with windows 7 that cost lest that my cell phone. there is a third operating system, that weird hippy grassroots commune called linux (the quintessons, for those of you following the analogy). linux is what the programmer subculture enjoys, because you can futz with it all you like, amongst other reasons. and so we were told to install it on our machines for class, our teacher providing several safe and stable ways in which to do so.
thinking i was a little more awesome, i tried to circumvent these methods and do it in a "simpler" way that would allow me to partition my computer's hard drive and run both windows 7 and ubuntu, the most widely supported incarnation of linux. partitioning a hard drive is akin to doing brain surgery on your machine and my efforts left my little lappy lobotomized, unable to do anything more than turn on and go it's most uber-basic functions, a warning screen telling me it has "issues."
this went from a tragedy (my cute little lappy!) to an annoyance, thanks to our t.a. who has been working to help me get linux installed on there. over the past month, i have been doing a ridiculously complicated work flow to try and get different variants of ubuntu running on my lappy (which i call eve, since it looks like wall-e's girlfriend). hours and afternoons have been used up waiting for long downloads, having to ask faculty for access on a computer or borrowing some piece of hardware. this wasn't a problem until our first assignment for my class was due last week. i didn't have a working computer to do the assignment. (i'd note not having a computer to do the practice assignments, either, but i probably wouldn't have had time do to those anyway).
staring at my behemoth schedule last week (the week where i didn't go to sleep one night), feeling extremely frustrated by lappy that was giving me nothing but trouble and feeling kind of bad for being careless and removing windows 7 from it (which i actually really liked) like some lacuna treatment gone haywire, i thought of this old commercial:
and i remembered, mac's are unix-based and i can program on my mac.
i went home, downloaded the software, and started work on my assignment.
(never mind that the software took three hours to download, that it was a far more advanced package than i needed and was kind of confusing, that i spent ten hours on the assignment, or that i only successfully wrote one of the three programs; that ruins the mac image that i am working to perpetuate here).
i am writing this post today because, five weeks after the semester has started, i finally got a working version of linux on my lappy. eve is back up, running kubuntu, and i was thrilled, because something finally went right for me this week... ; )
now if i can just get that customer service guy in india (signing his emails "taylor") to let me get my copy of windows 7 home back, i'll be set.
editor's note: our next post, "D", is already planned out. however, because of the demands of the schoolwork (the consequences of our head writer thinking he can just hop on a plane anytime he wants, despite being fully entrenched in graduate school) and the scope of the post, it may be a while. if you're bored, we suggest going back and rereading some of your favorite posts from all of us here at sheep go to heaven.
in high school, i worked at sunmart, the local grocery store. i worked there because all of my friends worked there. every week we would give any time off requests we had to darby, who was in charge of making the schedules. and every week i would ask for sundays off.
once or twice i would forget to submit my request to have sunday off and it seemed that i would inevitably be working that day. i don't know if darby didn't catch on that i didn't like working sundays or if he was just glad to have a someone to schedule that day so someone could have it off, but whatever the reason, i occasionally worked a sunday.
one day i came in after church and was talking with the wife beater. i don't remember his real name, but that's what a couple of girls who hung out with us called him, because, as they superficially judged him, he looked like some guy who would beat his wife: he had shaggy hair and drove an old brown car from the seventies. frankly, i think he looked kind of like ashton kutcher from "that seventies show", but whatever. he was a few grades below me in school and was actually a really nice guy. i liked him.
anyway, i came in and was talking with the wife beater (i think his name may have been jesse). not wanting to sound all churchy but still not happy with having to work on the sabbath, i commented to him that, "i don't know why, but i just feel weird working today."
with matter-of-factness, the wife beater replied, "i think that's because sunday is a sacred day and we're supposed to keep it holy."
there are times when i imagine what it would be like if i were back in provo, still. and what? assisting on an occasional movie and just hanging around, being awesome, mostly.
been there, done that.
life here isn't as elysian as it was behind the red door. there, i had gotten to the point where everything was in its place for the most part: i was working enough to pay my bills and store a little in the bank, liked my ward and was usually teaching sunday school, played mario kart with my brother on sundays, saw my sister and nephews regularly, and had some seriously dang friends to watch movies, go shoot junk, or hang out at ihop.
in a way, it was kind of like playing a dragon warrior game, where i had gone through every castle and dungeon, collected every treasure chest and completed every side quest. i could wander around some, but there wasn't much left to do but go fight the final boss and finish the game. (not that i'm saying my life in provo was perfect or that i had all the answers, please don't misunderstand)
on the drive down to texas, tim reminded me of something that i said at my birthday party: i have the greatest group of friends in the world and i wouldn't trade [them] for anything. ...except that i am.
at times, that's echoed around in my mind.
i've told myself that i didn't want to be someone who sacrifices family and friends for career pursuits; and that's not my nature. i'm not that kind of a person.
so what was i doing leaving behind a circle of friends whom i valued more than just about anything else in the world?
the answers aren't too difficult, but i've still had to remind myself at moments just the same.
first, the immediacy of friendship can be transitory. in other words, especially in singlehoodnesship, our lives in the midst of change and flux. people get married or move away or whatnot. in the four years of movie night, the roster turned over completely at least three times (with the exception of mark).
in that respect, i'm glad that i was able to leave on such a high note, friendshiply speaking.
second, that circle of friends, though seriously dang, is not my ultimate goal. i want a family, and i want to be able to provide for said imaginary family. as a camera assistant, i wasn't quite seeing that. and i've essentially spent six years looking in to that and did not find what i was looking for.
so, i've given up something really wonderful in the hopes of laying a foundation for something even greater still.
and that means starting over. when you finish dragon warrior 2, you've got all the armor and the spells so that nothing can really stop you. but when you pop in dragon warrior 3, at the start it's just you with a wooden sword and a shirt.
such is my state now.
it takes patience to start anew. i make friends for life, but that takes time. another pearl of wisdom tossed out by tim on our cross-country drive is that you make friends in three stages:
1. location. people who live by you or who are in your classes; i've seen you before, let's do something.
2. interests. other nerds who like computer animation or black and white foreign films or the restored gospel. we have something in common; cool, let's hang out.
3. people you actually like. often distilled from groups 1 & 2, though not exclusively nor automatically. if you're reading this, you might be a three.
you can't force it. it takes time. and it's hard to start over. but you have to start somewhere. even in the blessed 223rd, i didn't make friends on sunday so much as during the other activities, most notably f.h.e. group 2. at this point, i haven't had the opportunity to go to many ward activities down here, but this week it's looking like i'll be able to go to f.h.e., institute, and the temple trip on friday (still getting used to having the closest temple be 90 minutes away).
i'm a people person. the usual connotation i carry with that term is the guy at the party who's going around and meeting everyone, so that by the end of the night he can name all of their names and has likely sold them an apex alarm system or two.
that's not me.
rather, people make the difference for me. while our trips to moab, lagoon, or the festival of colors are all awesome, i equally cherish the memories i have of a post-movie night ihop run, of a good rock band song, or a trip to the i.c. nothing particularly extravagant in the description, but being with the friends i really like makes it seriously dang awesome.
i don't know where life will take me, or even what life will be like here.
but here is where i'm supposed to be now. and i'm glad i'm here.
and i will always love and hold my friends in utah.
i didn't have time to finish the post about school that i started earlier this evening, so i will put up the numbers. personally, i'm always interested in seeing how they change with the ebb and flow of life.
i'll write more later, but i just want to say that a) i really enjoyed my classes and b) i won't be wearing vests around here until it cools down. but i wanted to look nice for the first day of school.