Monthly Archives: October 2010

Love and Loss

Today I did one of the hardest things I have ever had to do. I feel a combination of immense sadness, anxiety, and pride. I broke up with my girlfriend Anna, who I have been seeing for 19 months.

It was about the end of February last year when my emotions were finally letting go of my obsession over Karen — a crush that was impossible to begin with, but lasted a whole freaking year. I went to a game night at a friends house and Anna was there, with her boyfriend. We were casually introduced and eyed each other a little. We chatted online a few times after that, until she told me that she had broken up with her boyfriend. We proceeded to talk all night for the next few nights.

When we finally got together in person, things progressed pretty fast. We went from nervously sitting on the couch together to definitely-in-a-relationship in about two weeks. We had similar lifestyles, wanted similar things out of a relationship, and had great physical chemistry. We were both full of idiosyncrasies and tolerance.

It was fun for a while, and soon I knew that I loved her. Paradoxically enough, I never really felt that serious about the relationship. Oh well, what fun would be love if we understood it? We had plenty of fun experiences, personal late-night talks, quiet affectionate moments. I would call it a healthy relationship.

It was as early as March this year when the prospect of things getting more serious started to become real. I was having trouble understanding whether I would want to stay with her for a long time. I invited her to Hawaii for a month as a way to bring us closer and to increase my level of commitment.

We had a great time in Hawaii. Half way through I understood — I didn’t want to spend the rest of my life with her. I told her that during the trip, when we were guaranteed another two weeks in the same bed. I can’t believe I told her that! But she forgot or blocked it out or something, and then I did too, and the relationship continued for another few months, a bit shakily.

We were eating outside at a salad restaurant on a sunny August day. We were just having a friendly conversation, and just as I was getting excited by what we were talking about, she wanted to stop talking about it because I was getting argumentative. Sounds like a typical minor communication failure, right? But it set off some kind of chain reaction in my brain. I sat there in silence for five minutes while she wondered what was going on. My heart tugged in a thousand directions at once as the words squeezed their way out of my mouth, “I don’t think this relationship is working for me.”

We talked for about an hour, and at some point she had touched my leg. I love physical affection, and I still loved her. Through this interaction I understood that I really cared about her. I never wanted to hurt her. She is such a soft, emotional person, it was like trying to break up with a kitten. I couldn’t follow through.

The next couple months were pretty pleasant, actually. We were getting along, I felt like we cared for each other and enjoyed each others’ company. But I still knew that I couldn’t spend my life with her. I told myself stories like, if you spend “now” with someone enough times, you’ll have spent the rest of your life with them, so maybe I don’t need to feel that meaningful life-connection. Such bullshit. I think maybe the relationship was going better because I had violated some of the trust, so it was behaving more like initial dating.

Getting down to the wire. A few nights ago I was having dinner with my mom and out of my mouth popped “I don’t really want to be with Anna.” This had been on the tip of my tongue at gatherings with my friends and with my dad, but hadn’t come out yet. Saying it aloud let it do its work on me though. I knew it was only a matter of time.

Finally, this morning, Anna had called me for advice and we were digging around in her soul a little. We got to a point where she said “I don’t want you to break up with me” as a non-sequitur. She had felt it. Of course. You always feel it coming. I could lie to her and deny it for a few more days, but that’s not very loving to either of us. So that turned out to be the opportunity to say it, and I did. I cried a lot, because I care about her still and because my conscious brain was so unsure of what I was doing. But I knew it in my heart — I knew that if I turned back, it would just happen again in a month — or worse, longer. The longer we stay together, the more she trusts me, and the more painful it is for both of us to say goodbye. Now is the right time.

I still feel very sad. I have never broken up with someone while knowing I still care about them. Maybe I am being irrational. Maybe All You Need is Love. Maybe this is the stupidest decision of my life and Anna will go insane and I will live the rest of my days lonely. O how my brain doth fantasize. But deep down I know it is right. We will move on, and both have richer, fuller lives because of it. If I stayed with her it would gradually wear us down to depressed couch potatoes.

I wish Anna well, and hope I get to see her going overseas to have the adventurous life she wants in the near future. I’m curious to see what will happen to me relationship-free for a while. Sometimes I get really heady and my heart just kind of shrivels up and doesn’t participate. I’ll have to find something to do to keep it engaged.

Whew. Life is the better for such experiences… or so it tells me.

IDEWTF

Photoshop, Premiere, Maya, AutoCAD, ProTools, Finale, Reason, InDesign. These are the state-of-the art tools for creators. They are all rich, powerful, versatile programs that strive to work at the artist’s level of thought.

And the people who write this amazing software get to use… Visual Studio? Eclipse? Emacs? At least I’ve heard IntelliJ IDEA is great, I’ve never used it. But when contrasting these to the tools above something seems missing. Like a library full of features that bring programs to the coder’s level of abstraction. Languages are attempting this now, but languages are written in text and IDEs are basically text editors with a few extra features. Photographers have clone (a tool that lets them erase sections of images replacing it with something that looks convincingly the background in that area), we have refactor-rename that doesn’t even respect alpha conversion (avoiding name conflicts with your new name).

Why do we even have to worry about alpha conversion? That’s like a composer worrying about MIDI patch numbers! We still denote identity with a string? Premiere wouldn’t have that — it would link directly to the clip in question. Who cares if you have named something else the same thing? My friends have no trouble distinguishing me from another Luke who walked in the room.

And files? We have libraries, namespaces, modules, classes, and functions to organize our code. Files are almost entirely orthogonal and not-almost entirely meaningless. Kudos to CodeBubbles for noticing and removing that tumor. But, that’s just a guy at a university, so naturally we won’t get to use that for real for quite some time.

What’s up with import statements? That’s just some junk that comes with representing programs as text. Eclipse has surpassed those… sortof… but we’re not all Java programmers. Why can’t I just type the class name and then pick the one I want from a list?

All the state-of-the-art creative programs have multiple views: more than one way to see your creation to get a better handle on it. Maya has isometric, wireframe, flat-shaded, full light…. We have the class hierarchy view. Oh boy. Why can’t I look at

    while (!queue.empty()) {
        Production p = queue.pop();
        predict(p);
        if (p.star.is_terminal) { scan(p); }
        complete(p);
    }

click a little [+] next to predict(p) and see it right there inline, with its argument replaced by p? Oh, that’s how that works, cool, [-]. Instead we go to its definition, where we see it next to the functions we happened to define near it, about which we care nothing. Then we substitute the arguments in our heads, fathom loop invariants and fail to see how they are violated, and spend the next 5 minutes wondering if p is mutated in this call chain.

How come I can still have syntax errors? How come it is ever possible to have a syntax error in a program? Shouldn’t the IDE at least be helping me to have a valid program all the time? Finale doesn’t let you write a measure with the wrong number of beats and then complain when you push play. It just fixes it for you — “oh look, you need a rest there.”

“My indentation’s wrong. Oops, rename missed that one. Oh right, need to import Data.List. Ugh, namespace pollution. Fine, looks like I need to copy and paste again because abstracting will be a pain. I hate how you can only have one class per file and how it discourages small classes. Shit, that mFoo/foo accessor pattern again… weren’t get/set supposed to do away with the need for accessors? Fuck, looks like this virtual method needs another parameter — give me fifteen minutes.”

Do we not hear ourselves?! Software developers, the masters that create the masters’ tools, are touching up Avatar with mspaint. Shouldn’t we be sculpting effortlessly a masterpiece with a beautiful dynamic interface while robots bring us platters of Mountain Dew? We’re wasting our time with spelling errors while the 3D artist in the back is putting finishing touches on his city.

W. T. F.

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Bilabial trill

I am feeling annoyed and slightly insane, only slightly though. This may be due to the two hours of Zach Galifianakis I just watched — his level of insanity is great enough that it easily diffuses into me. I am unmotivated to work on my game. I hate that computers have finite speed. This game would be great if not for the inevitable performance problems. I’m tired of having ideas that require the latest processor in three Moore’s laws to run. I’m rebellious toward all the commitments I have made to others. I wish my left hand would heal so I could play Beethoven again. I wish I had good things to write about, good ideas to implement, good music to perform. Even though I am more musically active than I have been in years, I am frustrated that I feel so uncreative.

And I don’t care that this is a tech blog. For once I am not writing to get thousands of hits. Maybe I should be grateful that that is pretty easy these days. Thanks to all my loyal readers :-).

I have this idea about a programming IDE that I am very frustrated doesn’t exist. I’m having a hard time getting past it in my projects — I know exactly how I would design it if I had this feature, but I don’t, and no language I know of does, so I get stuck. I have to settle for ugly shit like singletons when I could just abstract over the code that references it and be modularly well-fed. I hate singletons. They should just call them globals. It is more truthful.

I wrote a song (score) and shared it on Facebook. First song I’ve written in years. Warnocked. Bleh. No pity please.

I got a delightful little meme from Karen the other day. It reads:

To the first five people who comment to this post, I will gift you with something of my own crafting. It may be an icon, a manip, a drawing, a ficlet, or something completely random. You may love it or you may think it sucks, but regardless, it will be made with love for you from me. ;) Feel free to give me a hint of what you might like (ship, character, actor/actress, fandom, color, etc).

The catch? You must pay it forward and post this in your journal so you can gift 5 of your friends with special gifts made by you.

So I posted that in Facebook too. Warnocked. Well that one doesn’t really carry the same dilemma. That really frustrates me. Here I am, willing to give to my friends, and nobody wants anything. Maybe it’s just because people are really bad at saying that they want something. Or maybe it’s because I am still distant with my friends. I don’t want to be anymore.

You know, I have a theory. I have observed that my relationship with my mother is a lot like my relationships with women, and my relationship with my father is a lot like my relationships with my friends. I figure it probably reverses for women.

I want to be funny. How does one come up with a good joke? I have no idea.

I really want Anna to feel good about herself. I see her tearing herself to pieces from the inside, and it makes me sad. I know it doesn’t sound like I feel good about myself right now, and that given that observation it is probably apropos to focus on myself first. But I’m generally happy and generally feel good about myself. I’m just having an emo-reflective streak.

See, I’m not getting at anything, I’m just blabbing. I notice that my posts are less curious and more argumentative these days. Maybe its because my arguments get more attention, maybe it’s because I feel like I have created a stronger work when I make an argument. Maybe it’s because (or the cause that) I have not been very curious recently. Maybe that’s why I haven’t been very creative.

I love the Beatles. I didn’t used to, but I heard the light… you know what I mean. They’re great. You can probably guess why I thought of them :-).

I wonder why I don’t want to go to sleep. I think it’s because then 8 or 9 hours will fly by, and then it won’t be long before I have to go deal with the world again. Eric (my “busking manager”, heh) is being a pain in the ass, as usual. I always make sure to express my gratitude for what he’s done, buying a piano for me to play. But man he makes it a chore. He constantly bugs me to get out there and gets upset with me if I miss a day. God forbid I want to spend some fleeting time with my friends when they are available. I don’t want to associate my musical expression with such stress. He is something of a projective narcissist — he expects me to make that the center of my life, my “primary gig”, and fit in everything else around it. His words. I get really angry at him sometimes.

I want to make something beautiful and inspiring. Not just one thing, actually. That’s what I want to be doing in every aspect of my life. I love creating. I’m tired of relationship drama. I’m tired of being unable to tell if I’m being honest with myself (or rather, able to tell that I’m not, and not able to hear what the truth is). I’m aware that my heart aches. My intention is to fulfill it.

I took this seminar called Insight once when I was 14 and again this year. It’s wonderful — it helped me in so many ways the first time, and it was a nice reawakening the second time. One of their techniques is simply to fill in those two sentences: “I am aware …. My intention is ….”. It really helps focus my energy.

That’s all.

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