Hum

I sat in my bed today, and thought

“What if I never get up?”

I could just lay here and waste away, like leaves in fall.

It was an idle thought. An easy out. But the world keeps spinning, and I along with it.

And somehow I’m grateful for that, though some days I question why.

It’s an odd thought. When I fall asleep, I’m afraid of never waking. When I wake, I’m afraid of existing at all.
I’m afraid of what each day will bring, and paraylzed at the thought of not being there to experience it.
I wonder what one ought to do with that.

 

on the newest gaming consoles and ADHD

In all the excitement and hubbub over the next generation of gaming consoles, I’ve been thinking a lot about the future. Specifically, technology, gaming or otherwise, and how it relates to our perceived mental states. I should probably note here that everything to come after this is my own personal experience. I have no backing articles or scientific studies, just my own musings. I might do a follow up with some genuine research later on down the line.

So let’s get on with it then!

When I was a kid growing up in the nineties, I found video games to be captivating. I remember playing this old aircraft fighter that you had to punch in a special code for in the boot up screen on my grandma’s old computer, and playing Chip’s Challenge, Pac Man and early dungeon crawler’s on my parent’s Amiga; I grew up watching my brother’s play games on their Playstation. I can recall my brother Josh playing Final Fantasy VII, and it was absolutely amazing to me that a game could tell me a story like that. Now, as a bit of a spring chickadee, you have to understand that when FFVII came out, I was four years old. That is really young for something to hold my attention for hours at a time. And it had me in raptures. I cried my tiny heart out at a particular moment, which is now infamous among gamer’s everywhere. And it was the first glimpse I had that games could be something more. Not just a tool for learning to focus and problem solve, or have fun, but a vehicle for storytelling, and learning to empathize, and delving into adventures with very real consequences of which I got to feel a part of.

Games were also the thing that fed my fascination with horror as a genre. When I was little, I watched my brother’s play Silent Hill, and my cousin play Resident Evil 3. They scared the hellish snickerdoodles out of me, but to this day, I can’t seem to get enough of them. Again, I think it has to do with the storytelling. The intensity of the environments, with questions of what it means to be human, and really, what is right and wrong? Can you define it on a page, black versus white? Can you make up an excuse good enough that what might be considered wrong suddenly doesn’t seem so bad? It’s probably worth noting that the adrenaline rush playing these games gives you is also great. No better way to heighten your emotions than to scare yourself silly.

All this is to say, that games have been with me a very long time, and have shaped a large part of the way I’ve grown and learned to think and feel. And along with the games I grew up with, came the consoles. Discounting computers, the very first console I ever used was a Playstation. It Was video games to me. I couldn’t fathom a need for anything else. It could play games and CD’s. What else could I possibly need in life? Then came the Playstation 2 in 2000, and the Xbox and Gamecube in 2001.. The leap in graphics, and the ability, at least on the PS2, to play DVD’s and to have a smooth, easy to interact with interface was awesome. Games had never looked better. And I was happy with that.

Now, things get a little more interesting for me from here. Because the next big console launches to start affecting me were the Wii, Xbox 360, and PlayStation 3. All great, innovative systems in their own rights. And the leaps in what they could do still seem kind of mind boggling, compared to their predecessors. There became a greater emphasis on gimmicks like motion controls, and having your system be an all in one platform that could do everything. Do away with your superfluous technology, we’ve got your games, internet, store, streaming services, and messaging covered. At least to a degree, anyway.

I spent some time with the Wii and the 360 when they first launched, finding both had things I enjoyed, but ultimately deciding motion controls were definitely not for me, and the PlayStation 3 had started to accumulate a more interesting library of exclusives than the 360. So in 2010, I bought myself a PlayStation 3. Now this was a big deal for me, being the first console I ever bought for myself. And I loved everything about it. The games, the ability to check the internet, digital downloads, everything. But the more technology I amass, and the more I find things easily at my fingertips, the more I’ve started to notice… Something not right. In myself. See, I’ve grown up with fairly severe ADD. And I work very, very hard to keep it under control. Sometimes with drugs, sometimes without. And for years growing up, I managed. Not without bumps in the road, but I managed. But the more access I have to things, the more I’ve noticed my brain has stopped shutting itself down. With the press of a button, I have movies, tv shows, video games, youtube, and an online store at my fingertips. When I got an iPhone, I noticed it got even worse. I have always hated it when people can’t seem to stay in a conversation without checking their cellphone. I think it’s detrimental to ones ability to learn to read body language and facial expressions, and to really invest in the people around you. Now? I find myself doing it constantly, impulsively, like my hands can’t stay still. I’ve started keeping an elastic on my wrist, to keep my hands busy and to help calm me down. And I still have to mentally keep myself in check. There’s a lot of mental scolding in my life as of late.

With my phone, I have constant access to flash games, texting, phone calls, facebook, and the void that is The Internet wherever I go. And at home, I have the exact same distractions in my gaming console. And sometimes, it becomes way too much. Too many TV shows to catch up on, too many games to play, too many friends to connect with.

Just… An overwhelming amount of too much.

And it’s actually damaging my mental state, to the point where I don’t know how to cut back. I don’t sleep well at night, because my body is always wanting me to move on to the next thing. I should mention that this was a problem before, but has worsened exponentially in the last two years. I sometimes struggle to converse with those around me, because my brain is elsewhere, or I’m habitually checking my phone, thinking I can multitask just fine.

No.

Your friends and family deserve your undivided attention. For the most part, multitasking is bullshit, and go hump a pineapple if you think otherwise. If the people in your life aren’t important enough to put everything aside for them for a couple hours while you have coffee, or eat dinner, you’re living your life wrong.

I sure as hell know I am.

Bringing it back to consoles specifically, the latest generation of systems is what has brought about a large part of my most recent wave of self reflection.

The PlayStation 4 and XBox One.

At first, I was excited about the console launches. New games, new graphics, new capabilities. But the more I hear about them, the more I’ve started to wonder if I’ll even bother. The PS4 seems like a decent upgrade, though I don’t know that I want or need the new social aspects of the console, such as the share button and the ability to have more friends. I’m likely in the minority here, however, not being an online social gamer. And the Xbox One? It makes every fiber of my being uncomfortable.
Let me note as well, that I thought the 360 was awesome. While I’ve always been more of a PlayStation fan, it was a great console, and I have no particular dislike of it, outside of maybe having to have Xbox Gold to watch Netflix. Fuck you, Xbox, I already pay a subscription fee for that shit!

Other than that, however, my console choice had more to do with game selection and the look of the hardware than any particular loyalty. The Xbox One though? I will never own one.

Everything about it, from the botched announcement that the system would have to be permanently online, to the idea of the Kinect camera potentially being used to sell me specific ads grosses me out. It’s bad enough with my cellphone, I don’t need an invasive camera in my house. And the idea behind voice controls, no matter how well they’re implemented, seems silly to me. How lazy do I have to be that I can’t pick up a controller to navigate the menu? What are you doing with your controllers that losing them is a concern? I lose everything and still my controllers aren’t a problem for me.
A lot has been made of the Xbox’s ability to multitask as well. Play your video game and watch football! Skype your friends while playing Call of Duty! Watch TV while sailing the high seas in Assasin’s Creed 4!

And it all has me wondering:

Why?

Why do I need this? Sure I have a short attention span. I get it. I want to do eighty things at once because there’s so much to see and do and experience. But do I need to do that? Is it healthy for my mental state? I’m an extremely impulsive person, and it’s often very detrimental. I spend money on things I don’t need instead of budgeting, I promise to do things that I don’t actually have time for, I start impulsively playing Bejeweled on my phone when I’m mid conversation, and sleeping has become this thing my brain is convinced is a waste of time.

And I hate it. The future of technology is calling and telling me that it’s not enough. My time is never spent well enough; I’m always missing out on the next best thing. And there’s no time to just experience what I’m doing in the moment. You gotta move on quickly, there’s no time there’s no time there’s no time.

There’s never enough time.

Being ADD, the more distractions I’m given, the more anxious I become. I become less productive, and I never finish anything because everything, and let me really stress this, everything feels like it’s at my fingertips. And my impulsive brain wants it all, to the point where it’s stressed because a book now takes too long.

I love reading! That’s ridiculous! But my brain says “no, that will take you hours. Go watch Parks and Rec and throw in a session of XCOM Enemy Unknown. Same amount of time, less work.”

When I look at the Xbox One, and even the PS4 to a degree, it makes me sad. We’re so desperate to create and see the next best thing, that it doesn’t mean anything anymore. We just want to consume everything, and my brain, at least, can’t seem to keep up. It’s not meant to focus on football and play Call of Duty at the same time. I end up splitting my brain and doing two things poorly, instead of one thing well.

There will never be enough time for everything, and I just wish society would slow the fuck down for a change.
We don’t need everything.

I just wish I could get my brain to be quiet and accept that.

I love video games. This is not a complaint about games themselves, in any way; I still get excited about the future of what games themselves can be. But consoles, and technology in general, just seem to be leaving me feeling weary.

If you’re reading this, I’d be curious to know if anyone else notices any of this stuff about themselves, ADHD or otherwise. If the rest of the world isn’t having a problem, that’s great. Colour me impressed and surprised.

Prove me wrong.

Help me feel comfortable with the future.

 

Elishiva out

on storytelling in songs

I’ve been working my ass off lately in the songwriting department, trying to “find my own voice”, as they say. It’s an odd feeling, sitting down to try and lose yourself in music. My goal as a writer is usually to create a story or an emotion that’s so real you can cradle it in your arms when you need to, or walk down the street with it like an old friend. Is this a peculiar way of looking at something as intangible as a song? Maybe. But if you look at an intangible thing and believe in it as something concrete and palpable, I think it adds a kind of dreamy weight to what you’re doing.

Songwriting tends to be the most cruel of mistresses. On good days, inspiration hits me like a bullet train, and I can work for hours, writing and re imagining and playing and writing some more and you feel on top of the world. Like no work has ever been more important.
On bad days, nothing is good enough. Everyone who’s ever liked anything I do is either lying or has no taste. My lyrics feel cheap, like recycled trash. Everything’s been said and done in a better, more refined way.

I can’t think of anything else that has higher highs, or lower lows. Performing, maybe.

I’ve analyzed other people’s writing to an obsessive degree, and I’m really fascinated by both abstract and realistic songs. Polar opposites, but both, I think, with important things to say. What can I say, I’m a Ben Folds and a Bjork fan. Both sides of that coin interest me. The simplistic stories of everyday life, spoken in a way everyone can connect to, versus the poetry of motion and language and emotion and nature. The former pulls me down to earth; the latter sends me into a heightened sense of what life can be and mean.

I don’t know how to do either.

I’ve tried writing with everyone else in the world’s voice; I suspect that is what one calls doing it wrong. So these days, I take what there is to learn about structure and song building, and listen to what feels right in a lyric, but at the end of the day, I remember that the song has to come from me. If it’s not genuine, it’s not worth doing. So I’ll learn, and I’ll grow, and I’ll strive to connect the ephemeral pieces of the puzzle.

And I will choose to let that be good enough.

 

 

on love

I was reading this blog post, http://penny-arcade.com/2013/10/09 by Jerry Holkins, over at Penny Arcade, and it made me sad, to know that his father is passing, and they’ve had such a difficult relationship. And then, it made me introspective.

It’s so easy to be hurt by the people closest to you, and to feel resentment when they let you down. And I hate it. There’s nothing I hate more than pent up rage. Say what you need to fucking say. Talk your feelings out. Don’t lash out because the world isn’t perfect. Work your hardest to make sure your slice of the world sized pie is the best that it can be, and be grateful for every small thing, even if it doesn’t seem like much.

It’s hard to appreciate what you have.
It’s harder still to choose love in adversity or hard times.
I never want to feel weighed down with resentment because the world isn’t good enough.

The world is what the world is, and people, in all their different forms, are what they are.

 

If you’re reading this and I’ve never told you I love you, I’m sorry. You deserve to be told.
I love you mom and dad. Through everything.
I love you family. I love you friends. I love you guy that said hello on the street corner.

I love what you teach me. I love when you understand me. I love being challenged to think and see life in new ways. I love when you make me laugh, or cry, or prove me wrong. I love when you forgive me for being a human sized pile of fecal matter.

I love that I have a life to live, and that I have love to give.

Thank you.

 

Elishiva Out

 

on reading as a child

When I was a little girl, I used to read for hours at a time. I didn’t care for playing outside, or practicing my music; making new friends was a chore, and I hated sports. Real life and real people weren’t nearly as exciting as the latest Brian Jacques novel or finishing The Lord of the Rings. These books taught me so much about what it means to stand up for others; to push on when things get tough; to love even when you don’t feel loved.

As I’ve grown older, I’ve been thinking a lot about the way books affected me, and so I though I’d take a little trip down memory lane today.

I don’t have any recollection of learning to read. I must have been taught at some point, but words just came easy to my young mind. I wanted to be transported, to explore new worlds, to go where no little girl had gone before; and words were my gateway. One of my most treasured possessions is a children’s book: The River Bank and Other Stories from the Wind in the Willows by Kenneth Grahame. I have this beautifully illustrated copy that my dad used to read to me before bed. My parent’s were both big advocates of reading, and singing, and never being afraid to say I love you. I think those are the most important things they’ve ever given me.

I remember my oldest brother, always concerned that I grow up thinking for myself, and learning about the world, buying me a copy of Shel Silverstein’s The Missing Piece, which is a book far more profound to me than it’s simple art and story would have you believe. Someone’s made an animation of it that I’ll link here if you’re interested. I think of this book as one of the most thoughtful gifts I’ve ever been given.

As I grew, I discovered all kinds of different worlds and stories that I could inhabit. Today, I might be off saving unicorns with Arianna in the Unicorns of Balinor series by Mary Stanton. Tomorrow, maybe I’d scare myself silly battling Jupiter in the Deptford Mice Trilogy by Robin Jarvis. After that, maybe I’d go cheer on Coraline in Neil Gaiman’s book of the same name. And after I was through with all the adventure? It might be time for something more relaxing, like a boat ride down the river with Rat and Mole in yet another reread of the Wind in the Willows.

These books allowed me to experience so many different places in my mind, that I could never possibly get to in real life. And I loved every minute of it. I’m so grateful to every author who sits down to write, and so freely gives beauty to children. Because to my mind, in a way, every word they share is an invitation:

 “Come in. Welcome. We missed you. Enjoy.”

It’s funny; I feel so removed from my childhood. Like… I’m looking back on myself through a filmy veil. I can’t ever seem to reach through, to get back to who I was. I’ve become much more forceful in personality; more easily angered by the little things; unable to reconcile the way the world is with the way I desperately want it to be.

But if there’s one thing that hasn’t changed, it’s that books manage to act as an emotional conduit for me. They make me talk about things I didn’t realize needed to be discussed; they provide an escape when life’s not going the way I had hoped; they’re always there, constant, unchanging, waiting for me to come back so they can share something new the next time I pop in for a visit.

I still love to read. I will always love to read. And I think of really great authors as nothing less than wizards, sharing their magic with the world.

- Elishiva out

Picture link:
http://www.antiqbook.com/books/bookinfo.phtml?nr=1313840799&l=en&seller=-csmx

on music and connections

I wrote a song when I was angry once.
I thought to myself, “Hey, I bet that song was great! Probably so real! Man, I should find it!”
Turns out it was just a page that said fuck you over and over again.
So much for that plan.

It’s funny, I always think of songwriting as this form of release. Like I should be able to pick up a pen and just go when I’m feeling happy, or sad, or ready to punch a man’s dick in twain. But when I really think about it, it’s often long after the fact that I’m able to process how an event made me feel. Looking back on something, it’s much easier to see the effect a death, or a wedding, or a dickpunching session has had on you. That’s probably why most of what I consider to be my best pieces (at least so far) have been written when I feel far enough removed from something that it doesn’t still feel like I’m being stabbed through repeatedly with a hot poker.

Sometimes I’ll want to write about something, in an attempt to be really real and open with my perceived future audience. And sometimes, when it doesn’t work, or ends up being a page with fuck you written in big, bold letters all over it, I just need to take a deep breath and leave it alone. Come at it again, when a useful thought comes to my head. Otherwise, you can’t make any kind of peace with what you’re trying to say; you can’t connect with others when you can’t connect with yourself. And I think that connections are why I love music so much; music can build these wonderful bridges between people’s individual worlds and lives. But, at least for me, you can’t make anything positive by throwing a bunch of fuck you’s on a page and calling that art. It’s visceral, it may be real, but there’s no story, and no connection there.

I don’t really know what the point of this was. Maybe to say that it’s okay not to know how you feel; maybe to say that emotional distance brings clarity. Or maybe just to advertise my series of dickpunching sessions: Ten sessions for just three easy payments of $29.95!

But in all seriousness, I think maybe I just wanted to remind myself, and anyone who happens to read this, that everyone reacts to life (and death) differently. There is no right or wrong way to process, just so long as you do process.

 

Elishiva out 

Radiolab: dark side of the earth

I want you to picture something for me:

Unrelenting darkness; a complete absence of light where the Earth should be as you peer out at it from space; the absence of stars the only way you can see where home is meant to be. And suddenly: the Earth appears in a blaze of light, as the sun comes up from the East. Colours so vivid you can hardly believe your eyes shine brightly, as they shatter the darkness that eclipsed the Earth only moments before.

Astronaut Dave Wolf doesn’t need to imagine it; he lived it.

On a fantastic episode of the podcast Radiolab, Dave describes the experiences he had on his very first spacewalk in 1997. The beauty of the Earth from space, as it comes up out of the darkness; the fear of being trapped outside the station because of a hatch that won’t re-pressurize; and a tranquil moment shared with his fellow astronaut, Anatoly Solovyev, as they float through space at 5 miles per second.

This podcast is an experience, and I highly recommend giving it a listen. Between the striking musical cues, and the way Dave and hosts Jad and Robert tell the story, I felt like I was almost out of my body, viewing the world through Dave’s eyes.

Give it a listen at:
http://www.radiolab.org/blogs/radiolab-blog/2012/oct/08/dark-side-earth/

 

Elishiva out