in like a lion

•March 3, 2010 • 5 Comments

Randomly, a friend informed me that in most college curriculum Meterology isn’t considered a science.  I’d like to say this upset me on some childlike plane, but it didn’t.  The revelation that one of the aspects in life which we can attempt readiness and show off some form of adult comprehension is seen in academic circles as educated guesstimating at best doesn’t jar the senses like it would when Beakman’s World was the center of my scientific universe and taping two soda bottles together and adding colored water was how you made a tornado.  There are old jokes about the weather in Texas, but if you spend any time here experiencing  the “seasons” you just mindlessly repeat them in lieu of cursing at the systems that blow through from December to March rendering the temporary storage of any seasonal wardrobe an ineptitude.  A conversation I had in the elevator at work last week when discussing the freak snow flurries ended with the punchline “If you don’t like it, move.”

I’ve given that advice some serious thought since then.  I am in a short sleeved polo today and left my jacket in the car.

Weathering the, well, weather hasn’t been the only thing my tendril of the Vassallo family tree has had to endure this last month.  My wife Abby and I are still newly weds in that our chronological proximity to the wedding date is still relatively close.  If asked my opinion on the subject I’d say that we know each other fairly well as we have occupied the same physical space since last June, however there are still moments.  For instance I can’t figure out her laundry pattern.  I find her committing to the task at seemingly random intervals that runs incongruent to my “as needed” policy.  Sometimes, in trying to improve upon my helpfulness I’ll make a plan in the morning get to the laundry first with hopes to relieve her of this station only to come home to the sound of a whirling dryer.   I hope it is some consolation that I am willing to fold socks.

My guess is she would say that I steal the covers at night, but that would be a tip of the iceberg sort of conjuncture.

Whatever the story happens to be, we are going to get the chance to find out starting on Sunday when we participate in a study at the University of Texas.  They have dubbed it the “Austin Marriage Project” and from my limited perspective it should have been called the “Austin Marriage Test” because that is what has been presented to me thus far.  I knocked out the fifty page assessment over a couple of lunch breaks and by the repetitive nature of the questions I think I can already tell where this study is headed. I’d imagine the questions are structured to wear the testee down until they are submitting the purest extract of an answer.  For instance it might ask me 10 different ways on one page if I feel like sex is the most important part of a marriage, and essentially I should answer the same way and/or a pattern will appear within my answers to that type of question to present the truest assertion.  That a computer or an analyst can determine if I am being genuine in my response by asking me the same question 10 different ways is something I am hoping to determine as unbeknownst to the testers, I am running tests of my own.

Confused yet?

This weekend I will be at Staple! The Independent Media Expo.  I believe this is my third if not the fourth year to attend this conference and I must say it gets better with age.  While I consider myself a veteran of many tours with the geek battalions, “cons” or “expos” are not my theater of choice.  That isn’t to say I wouldn’t go to more if I had the chance; PAX is my holy grail and I missed my early opportunities to build a repertoire with attendees.  What I am saying is when I get to a convention I get so overwhelmed by the exchange of appreciation between both fans and creators I realize I have no outlet that would be appropriate for that environment.  I either want to be a teary eyed star struck little girl like I was when I met Brian Wood of DMZ fame or an unrepentant fanboy like when I nearly told PVP creator Scott Kurtz that I used to camp his toon back in the PA vs. PVP WoW Guild wars on Dark Iron LOL NUB!!!111 (See, there is just no place for that in proper society).   So what I end up doing is walking the rows of booths with my hands clenched behind my back as I tell Chris Onstad that his comic Achewood is “super cool”.

Yeah Mike, I think he knows that.

let’s go smash out every light

stay positive

•February 10, 2009 • 1 Comment

It’s been well over a year since I’ve posted anything to this albatross.  It was semi-planned.  All of the writing I’ve had time to do recently has been on one of two projects that are crawling toward the daylight albeit sluggishly.  I am also pretty sure my WoW addiction is back.  I find myself reading patch notes and talent builds over and over when I should be doing something more productive.  While not healthy, I think the little bit of fun and comradeship that a raid on some plagued dungeon in a far off land late into the night has helped me stay positive.

Positivity is key.

I am 58% into the latest update.

The two projects I have been working on are both labors of loves lost and found.  One started during the NaWriMo contest which I quickly dropped out of due to the work speaking to me more often than short prose really should.  I never get the hang of structured writing anyhow.  And while I know the NaWriMo event isn’t suppose to be a “structure” in and of itself- guidelines in general give me the heebs and the jeebs.  The second project takes my mind off of the first.  It is a story I’ve carried around for a long time and I will probably carry it for even longer.  Ask me about it sometime and I’ll hem and haw around the plot when all I really need to say is it is about a girl.  For a romantic all good stories are about a girl.  Or a guy.  Or an object to be desired.

66% left on this update. Why are patch days so slow?

Recently, when I am not working or writing or playing at a rakish Blood Elf Paladin in some distant plain my focus is spent counting down the days.  Abby and I are still separated by that black entity known as I35.  While the four hour car trip seems wrote after a year and a third (has it really been that long?) there is a point when that dastardly highway starts to call your name and you find yourself in a siren song of small unforgettable towns and truck stops.  But it has been well worth it.  The relationship that Abby and I have forged has been one of such high reward that it is hard for me to even fathom the depths of my past nuances into the process.  I think our biggest achievement is honesty.  Honesty makes love wonderfully transparent. Transparent enough that the distance means nothing.

But it still means something and we will both be glad when these vagabond days are behind us.  (Installing the patch now.)

It is now part of my plan to update this journal again on a regular basis.   I thought about jiggering with the design, but I like it.  It feels like home.   I might change my mind later.

The patch is installed and I just have to check out these 30 minute Pally Seals (I’m hopeless).  If you are also addicted and want to hit me up in game my main right now is Borrock on Cho’Gall(US).

nobody’s perfect.

saturday night’s alright for fighting

•January 26, 2008 • Leave a Comment

With the first month of the new year almost as dead and buried as the last one I find myself sitting on my back porch with a cigar and a crown rocks- residual dividends from a party last week in this very spot. It is a surprisingly mild January night in light of the more balmy weather Austin has experienced these last few days but that is a good thing. It allows me to enjoy the four by eight elevated concrete slab the complex brochure heralded the “outdoor entertainment area” that I just haven’t gotten enough entertainment out of recently. The winter months have careened by in a blur of events on top of events. From system upgrades at work to TV upgrades at Christmas (thanks Mom and Dad) and moments of lovely nothings and everythings with my favorite girl sprinkled in between it is safe to say that I find my self content. And, for the first time in a long time- I am OK with that.

I think that as a male living in the early 21st century I have been bombarded with the worldly message that being content isn’t OK. I am suppose to be dissatisfied with something or else I wouldn’t buy new clothes, a new car and be in the gym every night trying to develop those new muscles at the base of my abdomen- those ones I’ve never had. It isn’t just media messages either- even in my personal life I’ve seen the results of trying to be too content with a situation, most usually relationships on very personal levels. I think too often we confuse the word content with word lazy.

If my over tiredness with the 60 plus hours I put on my time sheet in the office doesn’t tell the tale enough- I don’t think I can be described as lazy. Not anymore at least.

I took a plane ride recently from Amarillo, Tx back into Austin and sat next to a man who talked for the whole flight. He wasn’t really talking to me, I think he was talking to the lady sitting next to me or the man he obviously had some relation with in the seat across the aisle or anybody who would listen for that matter- I was just caught in the middle with my tray table up and no room for me to hide in my laptop. The topic of conversation was marriage. Specifically his. Specifically the fact that he had been married 3 times, had kids with each woman, loves those kids and hates the women. He went on about each marriage. How either himself or the woman was unfaithful and unfulfilled. Here is a man who isn’t OK with being content. I know this because he kept talking about how he wanted more. Not another chance with one of the women. Not another shot at being a better father or a better husband, but more for himself.

He still wore the wedding ring from his last marriage. He said that he gets more respect in his business if clients think he is married, and happily.

I wonder what his children think?

at every occasion i’ll be ready

a much needed update

•December 28, 2007 • Leave a Comment

The season that exists at the end of the year has never been more busy for me than the one that is occurring at the moment. As things are winding down on the holiday season I haven’t had an opportunity to just sit and think about the last few weeks. I guess processing time has been a frequent necessity for me recently and I’ve used these blog posts as a platform for just that.

In some crazy fashion that must be a sick joke to which the punchline I am unable to comprehend I have been on call for two weekends in a row. I spent last weekend before the high holiday fielding grounders and pop-flies for the network’s radiology department and I will be doing the very same thing this weekend through New Year’s Eve. I am the Alex Rodriguez of network administration- nothing gets past me when I am getting paid. While this does put a damper on any plans I might have had for an outing on the 31st it is fortunate that I didn’t have any plans at all. Sure, a few people gave me a “Oh! Too bad, you could have done X with me!” however the only thing I’d really wanted to do was enjoy the slow and painful death of the mongrel that was the year 2007 with a girl who happens to be a little over 700 miles away. I guess I will just have to listen for that death rattle alone.

I do have some plans. My folks got me a new TV for Christmas so I hope to put it to some good use. Being trapped sober and inside will give me an excuse to watch some movies that I have been trying to get under my belt for awhile- including a 3 night Lord of the Rings Extended Director’s Extravaganza With 10 Alternate Endings Marathon that maybe only I would enjoy in some sick way.

If you have been trying to call me on my cell for, oh, the last MONTH you would know that you either got my voicemail, a disconnect notice or some French dude. This is because my cell phone provider decided to do me a favor and both cancel my account and extend my contract for another eight years. After talking with every person on their customer support staff I was able to wrest my number and my credit rating out of the hands of this evil mega-corporation and into the loving palms of another (just as evil mega-corporation). So, if you are keeping score at home, you can call me again at my old number (I gave several of you a new one) and there is a good chance I’ll answer. I swear I wasn’t ignoring some of you(some of you), I just couldn’t get my phone to work to save my life.

I have some thoughts on the recent assassination of the former female Prime Minister of Pakistan and some new information that has done more to solidify my beliefs that Dr. Ron Paul (read savior of the human race in some circles) is really a white supremacist. However you all are my friends and I won’t subject you to any of that- I think I am seeing Davin this weekend, I’ll dump it all in his lap.

If I don’t see you have a safe and happy New Year.

good riddance

living between the holidays

•November 20, 2007 • 2 Comments

It is the Tuesday before Thanksgiving and I am sitting in my rather chilly office listening to peoples holiday plans as they float to my ears slightly muffled by the walls.  Has it really been a month since I have made a blog post!?!  Time flies when you are so busy trying to reconstruct and in some instances recreate a sense of normalcy out of the freshness that is a new home, new job and new life. These past four weeks have been filled with difference and deference when compared to old situations.  David and I moved out of our folks house after having been back for very same yet not all too similar reasons.  Some question why either of us would leave such a cushy perch that promised low rent, quality board and HD Television. Some question every move we make as we doggedly took the week of Halloween to box up a good deal of our possessions and wrangle only our most trusted friends to shuttle the belongings into our new Barton Creek apartment.  Some just get off on asking questions.

Falling asleep in a strange place is never easy at first.  For starters it is strange and you have to get used to not having the whir of a ceiling fan or cable TV to usher you into those starting stages where dreams begin to queue.  Maybe there isn’t a light in the room or the light switch is on the wrong side of the bed or you can hear the toilet run in the unit directly above your head. Maybe the sheets are scratchy and the pillows flat and the walls wafter thin allowing you to get too intimate with the couple living next door.  All these things are factors that contribute to a few sure sleepless nights, unless the sleep you require is one of independence.  Only then do these unfamiliar night noises create a lullaby of comfort as soothing as the womb.  It is a sleep of freedom and I have been a prisoner too long.

One thing that moving taught me: as an unmarried 23 year old I have way too much shit.  Clothes, books, toys, collectibles, sources of entertainment- it filled box after box and for all the world I couldn’t remember how I had amassed such a pile of worthless junk.  Networking cables, action figures, 6 pairs of scissors, old cigars, ticket stubs from movies I am sure I enjoyed at one time and a letter that I wish I hadn’t ever stumbled across that ended with some line about love that lasts forever were the contents of just one of my many boxes of junk.  Stupidly everything, minus the letter, is sitting in my new apartment in the same box like a retarded little time capsule waiting for my next move.  (The letter is compost.)  One day I will pair down everything I own and give some to charity and some to the landfill.  It is nice to have a goal.

My own holiday plans are slightly muted this year in comparison to the last few.  While Thanksgiving is my all time favorite holiday with Halloween (yes, it is one of the majors in my book) and Christmas tailing close behind, I can’t help but feel a pang of regret that I will not be spending it at University Avenue serving a meal to those guests that the holiday (in my perfect world) was intended. Those people who can’t write blogs about new apartments and how strange it is to sleep in your own bed out of the cold because their bed is the cold.  Those human beings that have been relegated by fault of their own or some fault of society to the outside.  There is no blame that can be placed on a person with no advantage, no leg up and nobody willing to take a chance on them.  They are the meek and I heard that someday they will inherit the earth- the least I can do is make sure they get some turkey, stuffing and get to see the Cowboys play on a Thursday afternoon.

A newer promise the holidays bring to me is the chance to spend some more time with Abby Loe.  While every other weekend since October 12th her and I have taken the lengthy drive between Denton and Austin in turns, the second week in December will mark the first time we will spend longer than 48 hours together in the same place. The prospect of this is amazing.  This is my Christmas present.  Abby is by far the most open, honest and gentle person I’ve known and the crazy thing is I have known that for years.  Having been old friends I feel like we have a distinct advantage when it comes to sharing the intimate (read: icky) parts about ourselves.  I’d like to think our relationship has been 4 years in the making since that fateful night in Abilene when she curled up in my arms for an impromptu cuddle session after an exhausting night of entertaining a whole gaggle of our mutual friends eventually leading to her crashing on the floor of my one room shack during a screening of Kill Bill Vol. 2.  I’d like to think that one mystery moment that laid dormant under the rubble of a thousand other moments we have both collected over the years was hot enough to spark what we are experiencing concurrently.  I wouldn’t be right about that, however.  To try to explain the ignition of this relationship away like that is akin to trying to explain how we were fearfully and wonderfully made with nothing but a big explosion caused by tiny space particles.  It is so much more amazing than that! The only way I can describe it is that I was waylaid by something that I didn’t expect to happen for a very long time.  I think the way she put it (and she can’t correct me if I am wrong because I like the way this sounds) is that we were “form tackled by love”.  It was such a pure, awesome and aggressive technique and it got us both at the same time and we knew it right away.  If I may use another simile it was like being hit by a runaway train hauling a million of those tiny candy hearts.  Unexpected, out of nowhere and so very very sweet.

We have our hurdles.  I have my job and new lease in Austin and she has her PhD program she has worked so very hard for in Dallas. At this point in our relationship neither of these things would be fair for either of us to throw in the towel on- but time is on our side.  There is no rush.  There doesn’t ever have to be.  We were both in long term relationships previous to this one that had moments where “rush” might have been the ultimate downfall so there is no use not to take it slow and explore all of our feelings on a time line  of our own choosing.  The only thing I am anxious for are a few chilly nights in December that need to get here soon.

This year it will be different.  Some of us will be in new places.  Some will be in new situations.  Some without members of the family for the first time.  Some with new family for the first time.   It will be different and exciting and hard and joyous and as we go around the table and say what we are thankful for I can’t help but imagine I will be thankful for all of it on one level or another.  Things that have been a thorn in my side or a log in my eye or a nagging in the back of my mind will all rise to the top and be skimmed away reveling the true nature of love and sacrifice.  And I will be thankful.

even if it kills me

a friendly reminder from mike for halloween

•October 24, 2007 • 2 Comments

so in love i wished that i was dead


•October 18, 2007 • Leave a Comment

This dream came on fast and hot like a fever. The room was sweltering and crowded and I could feel people all around me causing almost claustrophobic symptoms to creep up my spine and into my brain through an unknown aperture. No true source of light could be found yet there was an oddly familiar strobe coming from an unknown location behind me as green, red and blue gels lit the nameless faces of the dancing throng. The movement of the people was completely in unison and the motion caused a sea-sickness to grab hold of my gut causing me to retch but producing nothing but empty chokes and large gulps for air. I could hear music and feel its vibrations but I couldn’t make out a tune or a melody or even a rhythmic bass line- what I could hear seemed to fade in and out as if my ears were bobbing in an ocean and being exposed to those aural tones both above and below the sea.

This must be what drowning feels like.

The room started to spin at first, but then I realized I was the object in orbit. It was the type of merry-go-round that would make a conscious Mike utterly nauseous, however the churning in my stomach wasn’t caused by being dizzy. As the edges of my vision blurred the faces in the crowd that swooped in on me were completely sharp and in focus. I recognized them all. Each face belonged to somebody who represents some form of regret, distrust, misunderstanding, betrayal, missed opportunity or friendship long obliterated. They looked down on me and hedged me in as the mob that surrounded the whole affair kept steady in the trance created by that hellish music.

I wanted out but there was no exit from the circle of guilt that seemed bent on overtaking me right at that moment. Then I felt something grab my hand and tug with a gentle yet satisfying force and rip me from that vortex of negativity. I had no choice but to follow the pull as it navagated us through the crowded room and its zombie occupants. Somewhere during the escape I closed my eyes, or my eyes were closed for me, I do not remember which. The next moments I couldn’t see, or better I couldn’t make out vividly like I was seeing (you know how dreams can be blurry and vague in parts)- but I could feel as if my sensory perception had been enhanced for just that moment. Your hands fit neatly inside of mine, your head rested on my chest, your breath came hard and fast yet easy. I mimicked the rise and fall of your shoulders with my own as we stood on that place so high we could touch the ceiling. We were above it all. Everything that had been holding me back, keeping me down, tying me to an existence that had left me behind months ago. It was all because of you. You saved me from drowning in a self-doubt that would surly have overcome me.

The last thing I remember before another reality doused this one was opening my eyes to a pair as blue and gray as the Sound after a morning storm. I wrapped my arms around you and I could feel the stars on your shoulder. I knew this was right.

how could i be so lucky?

the unexpected

•October 16, 2007 • Leave a Comment

In the fall the days get shorter.  There is really no poetic reasoning behind that observation, it is just a fact that has some resonance in scientific circles somewhere.  I imagine it is a place where men wear white lab coats and safety goggles and contemplate things in this world the rest of us just take at face value.  I also imagine this place is very serious business.

The promise of Friday night was less scientific as much as it was a hypothesis that was only going to get tested on one control group.  My plan was to take little Abby Meredith Loe and a group of her classmates to dinner and then out into the city of Austin as a mere gesture of comity and to see what we could rekindle in the ashes of a friendship grown cold from too many years with no tending. What happened could probably be better explained in the works of Byron and songs of Sinatra than any of the published journals of human behavior that line the walls of stuffy libraries.  We wouldn’t need scientists and their serious business.

Right now, while the feelings are so sharp and clarity is an abundant resource in a land where it use to be a scarce commodity I am simply happy.  A true friend told me that made him happy and that might have been the penultimate moment I knew this was so very right.

The ultimate moment was when I had her cheering/jeering at the Seahawks.  What can I say- I am easy to please.

sometimes fires don’t go out when you are done playing with them

top 100

•October 12, 2007 • Leave a Comment

Wow!  I was featured on’s top 100 “Growing Blogs!”   Thanks to my readers!

Tonight Abby Loe is in town with some of her friends and we are all going to make a “night of it”.  If anything happens worth telling I might tell- then again, I might not.  This is going to be a big weekend with tonight, some plans on Saturday night and Seattle on NBC Sunday Night Football (GO HAWKS!) I am having trouble keeping still at work.  The clock seems to play against you on days like this and I feel like it has been 10:15am for about 5 hours now.

While this has been an up and down week some of the better news comes in the form of my new living situation.  The brother and I got a place much closer to downtown and we move in on the 30th of this month.  It is going to be an experience rooming with my brother and I am sure it will be one we will both either cherish or rue.  Or both.  It will be an adventure to say the very least- and I never do.

i think that scares you.

another dream

•October 4, 2007 • 5 Comments

I had another dream about us again. I am sure I know exactly what sparked this scene deep in the secret part of my brain that only makes itself manifest in the short hours I can actually get some sleep. If I am forced to think about it I think of sleep as a raw commodity that has to be harvested lest I fall victim to a sever recession of rest. I have had to make sleep a game recently; pretend like it is doing me some great good on an entertainment scale because the restless thoughts that come before the sleep are the most gut-wrenching.

Telling myself that I will dream of you helps ease me into this, however the oft promised happens rarely if ever. Last night was only the second time.

I was weary of traveling and I could feel the weight of it on my back and shoulders. The pack I carried must have had some importance because as tired as my bones persuaded me to believe I was it did not come off of its perch. The country side was dark but it was neither night or shadow and it took me some time to realize that I was seeing it out of obstructed vision. When I put my hands to my face I felt a familiar damp and sticky that told me the bandages that covered my left eye and forehead were matted with what could only be blood. I was wounded and the best that I could tell from my pack and my boots and a rifle slung heavy over my right shoulder is that it was from war.

My walking brought me to a small house that looked like it could have been ripped from the French country side. The cobblestone sides and wooden framework projected a sturdiness that told me the house was structurally sound and the wide open shutters and fresh laundry hanging on the line just beyond the white washed back gate told me it had not been compromised. It was safe. That notion carried me just to the door where I collapsed under my own weight before knocking.

The next part was ethereal as I viewed it from outside my own body. I could see the door to the house open and a figure step into the light.

It was you. You helped me up and into the house. Then you came back to close the door and as you did you stared right into the eyes of where ever I was looking from. Then I woke up.

the sky doesn’t cover, it swallows