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There's something comforting about this being here.

May. 22nd, 2012

Holy shit, is this thing still on?
I think a cigarette is in order.
Holy shit, is this thing still on?
I was thinking tonight about the past. When I lived with my mom and a lot of the fucked up stuff that happened. It makes me sad to think about it. All the shit that's happened to me in the past 19 years. I'm not sure how I've turned out as well I have.

Ralph was probably the most prominent male figure in my life, I first met him when I was 11 years old. I never had a particularly strong influence male role model, and I was a pretty quiet withdrawn kid. I enjoyed spending most of my time on my own, reading and drawing. When I first met him he seemed so sure of himself, so much in control. A very dominant personality. This is probably what drew my mother to him. She's always seemed like the type that needed to have someone around. I guess the type of person that needed a leader. At least then she did. I think the feature I remember most about him was his hands. They were huge, and calloused, his knuckles were knotted. Hands made from manual labor. That was something else that made me some enamored. He was such a physical person, doing construction, building things. He had a distinct idea of what a "man" should be, and do. He hunted, shot guns, built things, drove a beat up old Chevy. He was born in Lexington. He was a "hellraiser" when he was younger.

My mother met him through a mutual friend, when she worked at this little jewelry shop that used to be on Bardstown Road, H.S. Albert. I'm not sure about the details but my mom started going to Narcotics Anonymous meetings with him. Shortly after that I started to attend the meetings with my mom, I'm not particularly sure why. She was convinced that she was an addict, and this is something she needed to do to get better.

Shortly after she started attending NA meetings, my mom and grandmother got into an argument about Ralph. I'm not exactly sure why or what it was about. We moved out after that. My mom gave my brother the option to stay with my grandmother as he was just enrolling in college, or to move with us. He stayed. So my mother, sister and I packed up all of our belongings and moved to an apartment on Walnut Place. Things were good at first. We had the dogs, our own place. We were almost like a family. And then there were the weird advances on my sister by Ralph. He'd stand in her doorway at night and watch her sleep. Joshua, our dog, wouldn't let him into the room. My sister slept with a kitchen knife under her pillow. I didn't even know any of this was going on. Then there was the custody battle between my dad and my mom for my sister. I don't remember this too well. I think I was given the option of where I wanted to stay. I chose my mother.

And then things got worse.

Ralph didn't like that I drew. I drew on everything. Scrap paper, my hands... anything. Soon I was no longer allowed to use pens because I drew on everything. And then he thought I was hiding things from them so I wasn't allowed to carry a backpack. I spent a lot of time in the apartment complex basement by myself as a means of escape. Things just got worse. My grades dropped. I was moderately overweight so Ralph came up with inventive exercises as means of punishment. Running 50 laps around the block, doing 1000 situps, pushups... Doing jumping jacks with weights tied to my hands for hours. Waking up at 5 in the morning to do all the dishes, mop my bedroom floor, clean the house. I remember one time I was running I passed a couple on an evening walk. They saw Ralph following me and stopped him, recognizing the look of fear on my face. He beat me for that. He punched me in the face for asking him why he was doing these things. Knocked me over the couch.

My mom just sat there.

She's tried to apologize in various weak ways since then. "I know I didn't make the best choices", "I wish things had been different, but..."

So one day I told a school counselor that I was scared to go home. My report card had come or something. I was scared of what Ralph was going to do. So they sent me to a shelter for teenagers downtown. But I couldn't stay without parental permission, and because I had no visible bruises. That was a great night.

I don't remember who, but someone talked to my Dad about all this and he flew up to Kentucky and filed custody papers. He won. I lived in Florida with him for a year until one night my step-mother, drunk called me a son of a whore, and that I didn't deserve to sit at the table with them.

So I left that night. Packed a backpack and left with my brother.

I re-enrolled at Atherton for my Senior year. I had a few classes to catchup on, so I had written classes I had to do. I constantly argued with my grandmother about them. Especially the higher math classes I didn't understand them. My brother was tutoring me at the time, I remember waiting for him to come over to help me with some specific problem, so I went to take a nap until he got there. My grandmother didn't agree with this and we got into an argument. Her argument involved attempting to hit me multiple times with a wooden spoon. I snatched it out of her hands, broke it and threw it in the garbage. She told my sister that I had hit her, or threatened to.

My house caught on fire a few weeks later on prom night. I got detained by the police because my uncle had a dead pot plant on the back porch. We stayed in a Holiday Inn that my uncle worked at for a few weeks, until my grandmother found a new house. Then she told me I couldn't move in with them. I was on my own. I had no money, no ID, no place to stay, a bag with some clothes a family friend donated.

Everything that I am and everything that I have was created, built and earned by me. I am the person I am because I chose to be this way. Out of all this shit, I managed to find something in myself worth salvaging.

It makes me callous sometimes though. I don't understand when people talk about how unfair their life is. I just put my shoulder to the wheel. I keep pushing. I won't stop. I won't pause.

If I do I might realize all of this, and not start again.
I'm e-stalking you on LJ.

Yeah, I'm still here. I don't post much, just observe.

Made some more art the other night, guy didn't really like it though. Meh.
This town can make me pretty angry. Especially when I start reading local blogs again. Where was all this good will and support when I ran LS into the ground? Support this, help that. Fuck you Louisville, you're a poison turd filled pie (that sounded good right?).
So for about the past hour I've had this weird feeling in my head. It's that feeling you get right before you connect all the pieces of something, or right after you've figured out something hard. It's that eureka moment crossed with an odd satisfaction. I told Ashley that I thought it was a tumor that would give me mutant powers. She told me the mutant power would be to drink out of a straw with a hole in my head from the tumor. I giggled.

Work was good today. It's hard to measure my performance when I don't have some sort of metric to gauge it by. When I worked on laptops it was how many I made in a day. When I worked in data recovery, it was how much money my team made. With this... well I dunno. I just kinda float around and act like I'm always on an important mission. Not that I'm not doing something important, but my brain needs flex time. From the super intense periods of thoughts I need to stretch it. It actually helps me focus even more. Visualize how lungs work.... sort of like that.

I've been working with this Quicktime Streaming Server, and it's kicking my ass. I'm setting up hi-def streaming through out the building, and... well I need to give it another go. I felt happy surrounded by my various Apple children that I rebuilt though, raised from the computer graveyards. Rise my children! Go forth and conquer!

It's amazing how much bullshit people throw around in a corporate environment. An acquaintance of mine showed me this really awesome report (I know right? Excel WOO!) about exchanged laptops and the different reasons. I suggested that he show it to this upper member of management who was investigating the very same thing. He said that he'd have to ask his boss before showing anyone. It seems to me, that if the guy who is 3 pay grades above YOUR boss is interested in a report, you show it to him. I dunno, maybe I'm crazy.

I am enjoying this new level of autonomy at work though. It's a nice contrast to unreturned emails or snide remarks from the corporate shills.

My blog/lj posts are sporadic at best. I guess I don't have much to talk about. Work is work I guess. I have a sort of newish-gray area position at work. I make random cool shit. Basically.

My first project is a networked display of 18 computers that will pull all the various metrics and business data from various sources, munge it up into XML, and display them in ultra pretty fashion on each 42in TV (18). It's a pretty cool project, I'm learning how to temper artistic creativity with business acumen. I've been focusing on the presentation of data in meaningful ways, easily digestible formats for people that don't have time to sit and stare at a spreadsheet. Function follows form or some such.

It's all built using Quartz Composer, which is fairly similar to Processing. Check out some of the videos of it on Vimeo (http://vimeo.com/videos/search:quartz%20composer). You'll have to sort through it to find the really interesting stuff, but it's a pretty versatile tool. The next step with this application is on-demand video streaming (HD), so at any point we can take over this network of displays to pipe out trainings, meetings, things like that. Yeah I cooked all this up in my head. One of the most attractive parts of it all is that it's free. All the hardware comes from the service center. I take destroyed laptops and TVs and rebuild them for this. IF I had to put a price tag on it all... I'd say a similar system could cost up 50K for an outside company to design and build. I enjoy the challenge of it.

Our TV blew up the other day so we had to replace it. Got a newish 32in 720p LCD. It's nice, although the audio quality on it is pretty tinny. We'll have to see what we can do about that.

Ashley and I got new glasses. Hers look great, she's got the hot librarian thing going on now. I went with the typical art nerd black frames. I think they look nice.

We had a good discussion the other night about how in the past with certain circles of friends, I always tried to fit in, I always sought approval of my actions from my friends. I always wanted to be interesting or as brilliant as someone who wrote well, or played music... or... whatever. It's nice to have some temporal distance on it though, to be able to look back and understand the things that I did or used to do. Poor self esteem is a shitty thing, and I guess really the proof is in the pudding because how many of those people do I talk to now? None. How many actively seek me out? I spent a long time trying to get the "ok" from them because I never quite felt good enough. I think that ties into the whole "Matt the computer guy" thing too. I'm not just a computer nerd. I write music. I cook. I'm an artist. A creative problem solver. I am determined to understand everything. I dream. I guess I feel a twinge of regret, wishing things went differently back then, but I don't think I missed out on anything. Even if I was someone that all these people found interesting, I don't think I would have enjoyed it. I would have found some flaw, or wouldn't feel that it was genuine.

So, whatever. I'm happy. I have an awesome wife, with a great dog. A big house. A job that allows me to stretch my brain in ways I never imagined. Money is starting to come in line, even though we have occasional hiccups.

I sat on the couch with Ashley last night, and felt very satisfied for the first time in awhile.