The Lutheran Geek

The life and times of a WoW-playing, Java-programming dude in Chicago

Friday, July 25, 2008

Musical art

So I’ve been listening to Pandora Radio a bunch lately. It is an amazing site, especially to test-drive new artists. In my case, I’ve been listening to stations based on Imogen Heap and Regina Spektor. They’re both solo female artist singer-songwriters, but their styles differ quite a bit. Imogen tends to do a lot of heavily-overdubbed songs with layers on layers of vocals and various instruments, with the vocals occasionally transformed via a vocoder, notably in her famous and gorgeous song “Hide and Seek“. Regina Spektor comes from the anti-folk movement in NYC, a stupidly-named scene that takes a lot of the musical traditions of Dylan and such and carries them forward to the present day with various lyrical themes. Her music is spare; about half of her songs are just her and a piano. “Samson” is a song from her latest album that came out a couple years ago, a gorgeous little ditty about first love viewed in retrospect.

Inspiring music. Gorgeous, amazing songs that make me wish I could write music like this. It’s so sucky. I played violin and piano for years, but as a kid, I just never got into it. I was much more into playing games on my Nintendo than practicing those instruments. Perhaps it was my way of passive-aggresively rebelling against authority and all the duties I felt were pressing in on me. I blew it, in any case. I could go on psychoanalzying myself, but the point of all this was to say, just, wow, I really wish I could get these kind of soundscapes in my mind that these people seem to be able to do. One thing I want to do with my new condo (when I actually can move into it! arrrrgh) is pick up a keyboard and start trying to relearn some piano chops and try my had at a little composition with Garage Band. I have no illusions of ever becoming anything like Imogen or Regina (and what is it with me and female artists?…), but I’d just love to be creative again somehow. WoW is fun and all, but it is ultimately not at all a creative endeavor, in the literal sense that nothing is created through your time playing the game. It’s the social aspect that makes it interesting, and why I’m still with the group of friends I’ve been with for almost 2 years now, save a couple months early last year.

Meh, as usual, I’m rambling more than saying anything interesting. But yeah. Friday afternoons are a great time to think about life, since you don’t have much else to do. πŸ˜›

Peace.

posted by Peter at 4:41 pm  

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Brutha, can you spare a quarter mill?

Oy, I’ve been a total slackass about blogging lately. Lots of stuff going on. Orbitz is history, and I’ve been working as a contractor for a printing middleman company called InnerWorkings. The headquarters are in the old Montgomery Ward warehouse on Chicago Ave. right on the Chicago River. This building is almost 100 years old, but you’d never know it – it’s been completely gutted and refurbished to make a brand-spanking-new office complex.

It’s also not too far from… my new condo! Well, not “mine” yet, but my offer was accepted last week, so I’ve now started down the path of having to hoard a ridiculous amount of money for the down payment, closing fees, inspections, and God-knows-whatever-else between now and the actual closing day, which is tentatively July 21. In the interim, I’m learning a ton about mortgages, short sales, and all sorts of the weird arcanery surrounding buying a home (or condo).

I’ll be honest – I’ve never been very good with money. Not that I’ve ever been in much trouble financially – I’ve done pretty well by the fact that I’m a techie guy and my skills are fairly well sought-after. So I’ve come into this whole process with a good deal of naivete. Fortunately, I’ve been working with people (my Realtor and loan agent in particular) who have been very knowledgable at telling me what I need to do, how to raise the money, and so forth. The one big thing I’ve had to do that was sort of against my will was liquidate a bunch of my Roth IRA holdings. Never a good thing to part with your retirement account, but I figured this was for a good cause since I was able to get such a good deal on this condo. Basically, it’s what is called a “short sale”, meaning the current owners are about to be foreclosed, and the bank wants to sell the property ASAP to get some sort of value on the soon-to-be-defunct mortgage. This means they’re less flexible in the terms, however, so I had to basically put in a single offer and hope it would be accepted – thankfully, it was. Now I have to spend the next 5-6 weeks scraping together every last dime to be able to show the banks that, yes, I can afford to do this and I am not totally bankrupt.

It’s all very crazy, and I’ve spent a couple recent nights lying awake in various states of panic as to how I was going to be able to pull all this together. Thankfully, it’s coming together nicely, it seems, so I’ll be able to sleep tonight, at least. πŸ™‚ More details (and pictures) as they come in…

posted by Peter at 12:29 pm  

Sunday, June 24, 2007

Going on vacation

So I’m leaving for a while for my parents’ place starting Friday 6/29 – I’ll be back in Chicago around on July 8. One thing I am going to try to do while gone is get my mind back in order. I have been spiraling pretty quickly down into a pseudo-depression yet again, and I’ve been lashing out at friends along the way, people who have gone out of their way to help me and listen to me. At least a few friends this past week have told me they’re fed up with it. The more tightly I cling, the more desperate I become, and it’s just getting worse. My greatest fear is losing friends – I just haven’t had much luck in keeping them because of my extreme self-consciousness. Every little thing – every well-meaning ribbing, misspoken word, everything negative becomes amplified. Everything positive becomes diminished. It’s worse than seeing the world in purely black and white with no shades of grey – eventually you only see black.

It’s even gotten to the point where it’s affecting my work – nothing I do there seems to matter, and these roller-coaster rides of emotion I’ve been on are getting worse and worse. What’s even more terrible is comparing my own situation with those around me – what the hell do I even have to complain about? I have a great job, loving parents, awesome friends. How dare I complain?

And yet, I do. It’s a tough spot to be in. So anyway, to those I’ve hurt (I’m talking especially to you, Muzz/Dave), I apologize. You guys, my friends, have given a lot of yourself that I cannot repay. Maybe I’ll find my way back to sanity, maybe I won’t. Please be assured that I’m trying, though. Also know that I’m not blaming anyone for the state I’m in – not even myself. It is what it is. I don’t expect pity or condolences or anything – I just wanted you guys to know where I am right now.

posted by Peter at 7:35 pm  

Wednesday, January 31, 2007

My silly friends…

(12:50:36 PM) Peter: mooooooo
(12:50:51 PM) Jy: Bark
(12:51:01 PM) Peter: Whinny?
(12:51:46 PM) Jy: SQUALK!!!!
(12:51:51 PM) Peter: yeep!
(12:51:59 PM) Peter: /fish?
(12:53:16 PM) Jy: Kek
(12:53:27 PM) Peter: /smile

posted by Peter at 12:55 pm  

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Screw you, Paxil

Strictly speaking, selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors are not addictive, but trying to discontinue its use can result in a condition known as “discontinuation syndrome“. Of all the SSRIs, Paxil, or paroxetine hydrochloride, is the most potent, and leads to the most severe cases of this syndrome. I know this first-hand since I’ve taken it for over seven years to combat social anxiety disorder as well as mild depressive symptoms. When I started experiencing more depressive thoughts in the past month, I decided it was time to up my prescription to 40 mg from the previous low 20 mg dose I was taking before. Last night, as I went to take my dose, I discovered that the night before, I had used up the last of the Paxil I had on-hand. I knew this would probably mean bad things for me today… and I was right.

For me, even going 36 hours without a dose of Paxil can result in a great deal of extra depression and hyper-sensitivity to emotions. Just this afternoon, a simple thing caused me to spin out of control and to the point of tears. It was not a negative thing at all, not hardly, but it brought up some terrible memories, and caused me to spend an hour or so just staring blankly into space. It is incredibly frustrating to deal with these negative feelings creeping back into my life. Noone deserves this sort of mental torture I put myself through… and yet I do it.

One thing I talk to my therapist about is how I put most of the negative aspects of a relationship on myself. That is, I don’t spend a whole lot of time stewing over what others have done to me, but rather I tend to spend the time thinking of what wrong I have done to others. Even the act of apologizing doesn’t help – when it’s not received well, or outright ignored, I find myself simply befuddled and upset at myself. If only I hadn’t blown up that one time! If only I knew what to say to make it up to them. If only I wasn’t such a jerk. If only I wasn’t such an idiot. If only I wasn’t bad…

And so it goes, leaving me feeling like the worst person on earth. I’m self-centered, lazy, thoughtless, jerky. I’m terrible with people. I will always be alone.

I find that these thoughts just refuse to go away altogether, and they get amplified when I am low on my drugs. It’s just flat-out frustrating. Others have gotten through much worse thoughts and situations than me, and yet I continue to wallow and tell myself how awful I am. Others have attempted suicide, some succeeded. I have had my share of thoughts, but never had the guts to act on them. I’ve never been quite depressed enough to really be truly “depressed”, so instead, I just feel lazy. I get scared, I feel unable to interact with anyone. I am a failure of a human being.

…see, but I’m not. I cognitively know that my struggles are the same ones everyone goes through, from the shyest guy on the block to alpha-males like Donald Trump – everyone has doubts, fears, that sort of thing. Days like today, though, make it feel like I’m the worst person on earth.

posted by Peter at 3:13 pm  

Friday, December 8, 2006

An … odd … experience

Work was going fairly smoothly today – I was getting a lot done and was feeling pretty happy. I brought some nice clothes with me to work, which is a bit unusual – normally I just wear jeans and a T-shirt to work (though I was also wearing a sweatshirt since the temperature was 6 above zero this morning…) – but tonight we were having our holiday party at Orbitz! I was pretty jazzed up and feeling pretty good about the day. It all started to get a little weird in the middle of the afternoon, though…

About 3:15, as I was coding away finishing up some last-minute changes for the little product I’m working on, I started hearing a bunch of sirens. Unusual, I thought – must be a fire or something around here or in the Loop. (I work just a couple blocks west of the Loop proper – an area usually called the “West Loop”.) A few minutes later, I see a strobe light go off. Now, close by me sit the IT people who are kind of wild and like to be a bit crazy, so I thought maybe at first it was just a desk toy. I glanced up, and saw that the strobe light was actually the fire alarm system. I started to get up to prepare to evacuate when I heard a voice over the intercom: “We have an emergency situation. Please stay on your floor, lock the doors, and do not leave your suite.” Uh-oh – this sounds dangerous. My boss, when she heard that, immediately commented “Someone’s gone postal.” Unfortunately, we didn’t have the slightest clue what was going on. People started milling about, looking outside as we saw the emergency vehicles (whose sirens I had heard earlier) congregate outside the front of our building on Madison St.

Still, we had no clue what was happening. Around 4 PM, I got a message from my friend “Kavel” in Panda Attack (and like a noob, I’ve forgotten his real-life name…). He linked me to a story on NBC 5’s web site that said there had been a shooting on one of the upper floors of our very building! Details at the time were sketchy, but it seemed my boss was right. There was a report that the gunman was still at large, making us all a bit more nervous. I spent the rest of the afternoon checking the Chicago Tribune web site, which had a running story with details as they came in – some people shot, taken out on stretchers from the building to Rush, one guy shot in the head… yipe.

Finally, about 5:00, we got the all-clear that everything was under control. The party still went on, but I was kind of out of it at that point, plus, I’ve been pretty tired this week. I grabbed a beer, and kind of nursed it while walking around looking at a whole lot of people I didn’t know. I grabbed a few things to nibble on, but ultimately I just wasn’t in the partying mood, and so I slipped out at about 6 PM to grab the next train home (by that time, the Metra trains had started running again – my building is also a terminal for three of the Metra lines).

So an odd day, to say the least. Glad it’s over – I just need to relax now.

posted by Peter at 9:28 pm  

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Patch 2.0 coming next week!

OK, on to geeky stuff again, finally. πŸ˜€ The big Patch 2.0 is dropping in WoW next week. This means free respecs for everyone, including my prot warrior. Here’s what I’ve come up with for a spec. I’m gonna miss the +5% crit that comes from Cruelty, but I’ll deal. Focused Rage should make my hate generation a bit better across the board by reducing the rage required for all my abilities; in particular, Revenge should drop to 2 rage! I skipped over Imp Sunder since I’ll only be using it enough to get 5 sunders on a target, then switching over to spam Devastate. Imp Defensive Stance and Shield Mastery will reduce my damage taken significantly – the former will be even more useful in later end-game encounters where a lot of the damage is magical in nature, not physical. And after wiping repeatedly on Huhuran the last few weeks with DjΓΆrk, I think the 2 points in Imp Shield Wall will definitely help us out a lot when every second of survivability matters. It’s just too bad Improved Disciplines is so deep in the Arms tree – that would be a very, very nice thing to have for everyone, including us Prot warriors.

Oh, and one thing I just noticed! Last Stand is an 8-minute cooldown now, not 10. That’ll make it a lot handier to use. Fun stuff! I’m looking forward to next Tuesday – well, at least for the talents, not the likely server instability… πŸ™

posted by Peter at 10:52 am  

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Thank you…

…to those people who’ve been sending me supportive notes lately. I appreciate it more than you’ll ever know that, wow, I actually do matter to some people! I mean, it’s not like I’ve every been totally abandoned. I have an amazing family with a mom and dad that have done nothing but love me and care for me all these years… yet I get stuck in these moments of depression. It just goes to show you that depression isn’t about whether or not you’re smart or thinking straight or whatever – it’s dictated by plain old biochemistry.

I’ll be seeing my therapist again on Saturday, and we’ll work out the next steps on fighting this stuff. While I have been feeling much more cheerful (and much less sick!) these last few days, I just want to be careful and not assume that everything will be fine forever.

So again, thank you all.

posted by Peter at 10:34 am  

Sunday, November 26, 2006

It’s all but official

Well, let’s see:

  • Lack of energy and motivation
  • Reduced appetite
  • Changing sleeping patterns
  • Almost complete lack of sense of humor
  • and, of course, lots of sadness

I’m no psychiatrist, but it certainly sounds like I have clinical depression. The sickness has caused me to be in isolation for a long, long time, and it’s finally starting to affect me in profound ways. I’ve been having flashes of good moments, but I can’t seem to perpetuate them. The worst part is trying to explain myself to everyone I know. My friends and family mean well, but they try to reason with me, and it’s clear that I can’t be reasoned with.

I’ve also thought about suicide more often in the past week or so than I usually do. Mind you, plans never seem to come to mind, although I did even start making plans last night. I never get any farther than thinking about it, though – it’s as if a mental block sets in preventing me from going any further, protecting myself. Believe me, I’m quite grateful for it.

Anyway, I’m going to call my therapist today and leave a message with her. If there’s anyone out there reading it, I have one favor to ask of you. Please just write me a little note or something – comment here on this blog, email, something – letting me know that you’re out there thinking of me. The largest distortion in my mind right now is that noone cares if I live or die; my life matters to noone. I know it sounds selfish, but please remind me that I matter.

posted by Peter at 11:55 am  

Saturday, November 25, 2006

A new obsession

Too often over the last few months, I’ve found myself obsessing over someone. Not in the sense of “oh god, I wish I could be with them”, even though they have invariably been women, but in the sense of “wow, they’re so amazing, I need to remain friends with them”. I meet these people and then get it in my head that, unless I remain close personal friends with them, I am somehow less of a good person. Well, I intend for that to change as of now. Whenever, I get the urge to obsess over someone, I’m going to direct my obsessions to Drew Barrymore.

Seriously, why not? She’s pretty, funny, got a great smile, and would totally date me if she knew me. I can cook up elaborate fantasies about me and her and never have it be awkward, since the probability that I will ever actually meet her is about 0. No harm done. Easy as pie.

But yeah, that’s my goal. Last night, as I was mulling this over in my head, it seemed to work out so well. A lot of clouds were lifted from my head and things seemed fairly easy to deal with now. My hope is that I can perpetuate this feeling and not have to worry about future obsessions… hopefully.

posted by Peter at 1:02 pm  
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