Monday, February 27, 2006


I've had this post sitting in my drafts for a week. I've added to it, removed from it, had my finger hovering over the delete button and the post button alternatively. First worried it was too personal, then that it wasn't personal enough, and at last that no one cared any way. Doubt, second-guessing, insecurity, etc.

I made this blog, all those years ago, as a place to vent. A place I could say all the things I will never ever say. Hence the title. It's not so easy to do now, given most of you reading this actually know me. There are a great many things I'm not saying that I really, really, really, REALLY need to say.

I know what happens when I let silence rule me. Silence is yet another of those goblins that harass me. So this is venting. You all know someone who isn't a happy person, and this is a little bit of what it's like. Give them a tap.

Suffering From Depression vs Being Depressed

I have been discussing depression with a couple of friends recently, and was informed that apparently there's a difference between being depressed, and suffering depression. I didn't realise, although if I had thought about it for long enough, it should have been obvious.

Everyone, at some time in their lives, becomes depressed. No one has a good time all the time.

That doesn't mean one suffers depression. Being depressed, even for those suffering depression, is usually circumstantial. After a while, the circumstances go away, and the depression does to.

For me, being depressed is-


A grey, wet blanket. Wool, so it is heavy, and scratchy.

-which differs from person to person. For Winston Churchill, depression was a black dog that followed him around.

Suffering from depression means that that grey, wet blanket never goes a way. It sits just there. Every. Single. Day.

When depressed, it covers my whole head, so that I can't see or hear, I can't speak, and sometimes, I can't breathe. It's paralyzing. On the good days, it pulls back to just sit there, being heavy, cumbersome, but not in the way. But it never goes away.

It means that, on the good nights, you have trouble sleeping, and on the bad nights, you can't sleep because you're crying, and have been for hours.

It means on good days you're enjoying yourself, having a glimpse of what it feels to be a normal person, and yet waiting for that one look, pause, sentence that will ruin it all and bring you back down. And it does.

It means you spend a lot of time avoiding people, because people hurt you. Never intentionally, but you're sensitive, and you can hear everything that isn't said as well as the many inflections of what is said, and you can read between lines to entire universes that don't exist, and the strength of your insecurity and doubt has the power to destroy even the happiest of bubbles.

It means you spend a lot of time in your head, to hide from these people who mean you no harm. You take refuge in your warmest memories, and then, because you cannot help yourself, you systematically tear them apart, and poison them with doubt, and tell yourself that it never meant anything to anyone else but you.

It means you know yourself well, very well. You get tired of your own company, and when you're not avoiding all contact with the human race, you're obsessively checking your phone or email, to see if anyone feels any need to acknowledge your existence.

It means when you need help, you're incapable of asking for it. You sit there with the phone in your hand, staring at the wall, playing through your mind all the conversations you might have with all the people you could call, but you don't. You say it's because you don't want to impose, but really, it's because you're terrified they won't understand, or won't care, and that the slightest rejection will make you crumple.

It means you look at the days, weeks, years, decades, minutes of your life stretching out before you, and the sheer length of it sucks the breath from your lungs, because the thought of having to go through every one of those days is crushing, is more than you can handle. So you don't think about it.

It means on good days you don't like yourself, and on bad days you hate yourself.

It means when people ask 'how are you?', you give nothing answers, 'okay', 'alright', because the truth takes too long, and no one wants to be burdened with someone elses darkness, and they never know what to say anyway.

It means you carefully push your friends to arm's length. Words are so very cheap, and not matter how well meant, words don't mean anything to you anymore. So you'd rather nothing was said.

It means you need some sort of acknowledgement that you're not a worthless sack of meat as much as you need air, because you can't convince yourself otherwise.

It means you're constantly tired, because every day is one long battle with yourself, to not assume the worst of the world, to acknowledge that it isn't personal, to remind yourself that there is nothing wrong with your life and you have no reason to for all this anger, and hatred, and misery. And why are you crying on the train?

It means you're strong, because you've had to carry a heavy burden for a long time. But its a strength like glass; easy to see through, easy to break. There is no armour thick enough.

It means you spend most of your life alone, because you're afraid of what the world might do to you. You're hard to get to know, so a lot of people don't try.

It means the walls are always up. The walls are always down. You're nothing but contradictions, and no one knows what the weather is like in your head from one minute to the next.

It means you see life as an ocean. Everyone else seems to have a boat, and they coast about on the surface as if it were fun. You lost your boat. Perhaps you never had one, and now you're in the water, and every day you struggle to keep your head above water, with this grey, wet blanket tangling you up and dragging you down.

Somtimes, it means you drown.

Someties, it means you're very good at treading water.

Wednesday, February 22, 2006

PMS [demon] -

No one knows what colour she is, as she is always covered in the Blood Of Her Enemies. She doesn't speak, but screams.

  1. The PMS card, once played, cannot be used again for one month.

  2. When PMS is in play, the player takes a negetive fifty penalty to Charisma, Fortitude, and Happy Beans.

  3. When PMS is in play, INSECURITY receives a plus fifty bajillion bonus to attack power.

  4. If the player chooses to invoke chocolate, PMS has decreased attack power by thirty percent for twenty minutes. After that time, PMS regains full attack power, and INSECURITY receives an additional ten percent bonus due to feeling guitly for eating chocolate.

Yep. I'm feeling that fifty bajillion extra attack power.

(Promise I'll stop messing around with my demons and make a sensible post soon.)

Monday, February 20, 2006

INSOMNIA [noun] (phonetic AAAARRRGGGHHH!!!): a small goblin, white and pasty skinned, with spindle limbs, an enormous fat gut, and a mouth that takes up more than half her head. It is the sort of mouth that indicates should you displease her by going to sleep, she will eat your face. INSOMNIA sits on a would-be sleeper's pillow, and talks to them, all night long.

INSOMNIA has been an unwanted guest for three nights.

EXHAUSTION: [noun] (phonetic ...mmmrrgh): a small goblin, mushroom mouldly brown in colour, totally emanciated. Big bags and shadows under eyes. In fact, face is all eyes, bloodshot, somewhat twitchy. EXHAUSTION exudes a definite air that does not require you to look at him funny for him to shank you with his shiv.

On the third night, EXHAUSTION crawled out from under my bed.

INSOMNIA gave EXHAUSTION a funny look.

EXHAUSTION went super saiyan and evolved in to TOTAL FREAKING EXHAUSTION, and shanked INSOMNIA with his shiv.

SIR TESSA promptly fell into a coma.

Friday, February 17, 2006

Viator - Lucius Shepard

Fabulous cover, isn't it? I am quite in love with it. Nightshade do make beautiful books. The novellas especially, as this one is, are lovely to hold. It fits so nicely in my hand, with good weight, but not too much. The pages are nice to touch, and they even imprint the naked hardcover.

Originally, I'd started to read this book in the middle of a night shift. Shepard writes damn long sentences, and I mean long. They take up the whole page. He has control of them, and it isn't hard to follow them, but it was way more than I could handle at the time. So, take note: don't read on night shift.

VIATOR is the story of a ship of the same name, whose crew abandoned her, and whose captain went made and drove her into the coast of Alaska, ploughing on at such a speed that only the very stern of the ship remains on the beach, the rest of her steel carcass marooned high in the forest.

(I loved this book just from the blurb.)

Wilander is hired to join a ragtag crew of men who are assigned to the landlocked ship, to evaluate her worth in order to be stripped. They're a bit kooky when he arrives, and throughout the book descend even further into kookiness.

But Viator is not all that she seems. Something is happening with the ship, something violent and mysterious and wonderful. Not content to be cannablised, she is changing herself and those who crew her, and although trapped on land, she is still travelling, pushing her way through to somewhere else.

Wilander strays between Viator and the town of Kaliaska, between an alternate reality and one that is all too real, between his derranged crew members and the woman who could ground him in his life, in his soul.

Shepard is brilliant in shifting Wilander and the reader from what is familiar and sane, to what is unfamiliar, yet seems to make more sense. He exercises impressive control over narrative tension, and builds it up at a perfect rate of knots, exactly what is needed for the story at any given time.

I felt somewhat alien from his characters, even Wilander whom the story rides on. Perhaps, methink, this is because they're mad.

In fact, Viator herself was the character I loved most. She had grace, that banged up old ship, grace, strength, courage and cunning. And most of all, she had mystery. Not necessarily menace, but mystery.

Unfortunately, the ending sucks. After the breath-stealing build up Shepard had woven, the end was as exciting and as satisfying as scooping wet fluff bits out of the washing machine. According to a thread on the Nightshade boards, he was in dire straits himself when writing, and didn't have the capacity for anything else in him. This I can understand, but doesn't make the fact any less disappointing. Apparently, Nightshade will be releasing a paperback of the book later this year, rewritten, with an additional 10k. I am as yet undecided whether or not to acquire it, as I'm not entirely happy with the thought of buying a book twice, even if the story is changed. I've already read it once.

Verdict: A very powerful book, one whose images will stay with you for some time. Just...pity about the end. Real pity.

Thursday, February 16, 2006


Enter right, SIR TESSA, going about her daily business, whatever that may be. She pauses and waits for an opportunity to cross the road.


Enter right, INSECURITY, cloth in one hand, chloroform in the other. INSECURITY soaks the cloth in chloroform, pounces on SIR TESSA from behind, and clamps the cloth over her face. SIR TESSA makes the appropriate surprised noises, and then passes out.


INSECURTY produces cuts SIR TESSA open, climbs inside, and sews her up from within.


SIR TESSA wakes up. Sits up. Gets up.

...what was that?

Exit left, SIR TESSA.

Sunday, February 12, 2006


(Originally, I tried to get my hair in a topnot, as pictured on the cover. You'll just have to do without, as I have too much hair, and not enough hands.)

This is the second time I've tried to write up this book, and I'm not sure I'll succeed. There's too much contained between the two covers for me to handle, because I'm not a reviewer, just someone who gets excited about books and feels the need to share/inflict this excitement.

This isn't a story, it's great handfuls of stories that end, start, twist, change, mature, overlap, entwine, split, and makes it just about impossible for me to provide any sort of overview. But, I shall try.

It begins in the aftermath of the battlefield of Sekigahara, with Takezo and his friend Matahachi lying among the corpses. They were not on the winning side, and there are limited options for the losers of great battles, being branded as traitor to be killed on sight, and having not a scrap of honour with which to return home.

Their paths diverge; Matahachi runs off with a praying mantis like widow and her daughter, despite being betrothed to the beautiful Otsu back in his village. But the widow Oko doesn't care for him, merely understands the need to have a man about the house in these times, and after breaking his engagement with Otsu and thus disappointing his mother, he cannot return home. He sits in the back room, and drinks sake. At some point, he finally plucks up the courage to leave, but instead of making steps to amend his wrongs, he goes on to pursue some imaginary easy life of money, sake, women, and respect. He makes no effort to work for this life, but instead waits, and waits, and waits for it to drop in his lap. From stealing from dead men, impersonating heros, kidnapping women, and estranging his mother, he drops from on depth to the next, until, at last, he learns. In taking responsibility for his actions, he finds strength, and more importantly, peace.

Otsu at times I wished to dismiss as nothing other than a silly girl, but she of all characters proves the strongest. An orphan consumed by the loneliness of having no family, abandoned by her betrothed, and then after saving Musashi, further abandoned by him, she spends the book travelling across the country, largely alone. She doesn't have the physical dominance that rules so many people, nor does she have the safety of a powerful clan to shelter in. What she does have, is a willpower that is unmatched by any of the enormous cast of this book. It carries her through all sorts of horrors, and in the end, she triumphs.

Osugi, Matahachi's demonic mother, also possesses an incredible force of will, but it is that blind, raging, destructive willpower, that hinders her more than anything else. She won't consider that her son is less than perfect, refuses to acknowledge the dissolusion of the betrothal and as such, considers Otsu her propert as daughter in law and slave, and blames everything, possibly even the weather, on Musashi. The years she spends chasing around the countryside after him, determined to have revenge for something that she can barel remember, see her lose her family, her meagre friends, until she is nearly beyond redemption. For her cause is perhaps the worst, in that she fully believes in her righeousness in all things.

Takezo, who becomes Musashi, goes through the greatest transformation of them all. As a selfish and angry young man, he decides to find the Way of the Sword, and over the ten years covered in this book, learns that the Way does not merely mean becoming an expert swordsman, but an entire way of living, inside and out. In his travels he makes many mistakes, but he learns from them, and in doing so becomes a mature and wise man worthy of the respect he commands, and humble enough not to accept it.

As I said in a previous posts, through his insights I learned a little about myself, and how much further I have to go.

Those are but a few of the immense cast in the book. There really are too many key characters to count, and their tales are so complex and so tangled with each other, than I won't try to unpick it.

The translation is the best translation of japanese I've come across yet, but given how highly regarded the book is, I'm not surprised. It still suffers here and there, as I cringed at 'okay', and an awful lot of samurai have fire shooting from their eyes, but they are very minor things. Interestingly, I think this is one case where a shifting POV works. Currently butting heads with omni POV as I am, it was interesting to note Yoshikawa's use of head jumping, which is seemless and well used.

Finally, this is a japanese samurai story written by japanese, for japanese. I learned a lot, both in terms of a history and culture I know very little about. I can't help wondering how things would be if Australia had a folk hero like Musashi to idiolise. Instead of the honour, respect, wisdom and kindness that comes from trying to emulate Musashi, we have...well, Ned Kelly I suppose. Who was not about honour, respect, wisdom, and kindness, but fighting for the underdog.

I'm all for underdogs, but there's an inherent conflict involved in standing up for one.

Verdict: An astonishingly complex and wonderful story that is less about grand bloody battles (although they happen) and more about people, the way they are, and the way they learn. It is one of those books that will make you stop and think hard about yourself, and perhaps grateful to be given the chance to change for the better.

I'm looking for my Way. May I never achieve perfection.

Wednesday, February 08, 2006

No Present Like Time - Steph Swainston

Dear UK Publishers,

I realise that in order for speculative fiction books to do well within your marketing environment, there is a need to get books off the genre shelves and onto the mainstream shelves. I don't have a problem with that.

I do have a problem with the fact that, apparently, in the UK publishing world, 'mainstream' is another word for 'shit boring cover'.

See Exhibit A:

While I am a fanatic book preservation cultist, I am well aware that by eating this copy, I could go out and buy a prettier one, with a cover that had something resembling personality.

I even find that the original Wheel of Time covers, with all their whacky proportions, are preferable to the new super bland masks they wear now.

Think on that,

Sir Tessa

Right! Onward!

I had an odd relationship with The Year of Our War. Aside from dealing with the mild fork in the eye that is discovering one of your favourite story ideas is already in someone else's book, it just didn't....there wasn't...the chemistry-

-I felt that I really should like it, yet I didn't.

That initial feeling didn't dispel in the first few pages, chapters. The new pieces of world introduced, Jant's relationship problems, politics; it all felt like a set up for a sequal, not a story that appeared on its own. The Insects were pushed back, so Swain needed to devise a new enemy. There's nothing wrong with the story as it is, it just didn't sit right with me.

And while I love stories of long sea voyages, and discovering new lands, and giant sharks and serpents, I found that this time around the wonders of the world did even less to woo me, something that I feel is partially due to the characters.

Characterisation is Swain's trump card. Jant, an immortal junkie academic, is a hard character to nail down, but she staked him out well and good. As protagonists and narrators go, she brings out his unreliability, selfishness, obsessiveness, neediness, etc, and instead of making him an utterly dispicable character, she made him fascinating. That is skill, right there. I fell a little bit in love with Jant, in an I-want-to-throttle-some-sense-into-you way.

Which is pretty much all the book had going for me, because nothing else has stuck. Not the giant monsters, not the sieges or the flying or the fighting or the sneaking. Just one brilliant character.

Taking half a minute to dredge up what else I thought while reading; the title irked me. A third of the way in, a new country is introduced, and this country's currency is time. This coin here, is worth half an hour. This note, is a day of labour. You work, you get paid. It's a lovely idea, and given all the stalling and shirking and waiting for everything to sort itself out Jant was doing, I expected time to play a larger role, but instead it got lost in the smoke and the blood and the drugs.

Guess I like my themes to stick around, instead of wandering off.

Verdict: Yeah, it's an okay read. It didn't displease me at all, but neither was I burning through the pages. I do believe there is a lot to be learned from Swain's use of voice and character, which is of value to any writer.

Tuesday, February 07, 2006

BATTLE ROYALE - Koushun Takami, translated by Yuji Oniki

Spoilers? Hell yes.

It started with the one on the left. Actually, that's a lie. It started with Peek rabbitting on and on about how awesome the book was, and the movie (which I have yet to see anywhere at all) and how I needed to go read it.


Couldn't see the novel anywhere, so I started on the manga. When I discovered that I just could not read it in public due to the sudden and frequent appearance of double page spreads of boobies and or motion capture close ups of students getting their jaw blown off, I got hooked. Anything I can't read RIGHT NOW I want to read.

I devoured it when I got home. It was awful, horrible, shocking, and the next day, I went out to get the second book.

It wasn't there, but hey presto, the novel was.

It's a big mother of a novel. There are bigger and thicker books on my shelves, but this thing has density. I think it's fitting that the book have adequet mass to be a murder weapon.

Set in an alternate universe in which Japan is one of the ruling powers of the world, it focuses on one of the products of this strict, regimented society; The Program. Random year 9 classes are selected from all the schools in the empire, and are sent to remote areas - in this case an island - with absolutely no way of escaping. There, they are fitted with explosive collars. These collars trigger if a student wanders into a forbidden zone (the island having been divided up into grids, and a good method of keeping the students from attacking their captors), if the collars are fiddled with in an attempt to remove them, and if no one has died within a 24 hour period.

The aim of the Program is survival. Of a sort. The class is set loose on the island, each student with rudimentary supplies an a random weapon. Then, they're expected to kill each other. There is only ever one winner for the Program. (There Can Be Only One.)

The reality of the situation and the total lack of say the students have in this is hammered home by a) the presentation of their teacher's corpse, he who was against the class being selected for the Program, and b) the killing of two students, in the class room, right in front of everyone else.

The story is like that. Brutal. No holding back, no kittens spared.

Initially, I had some reservations about the book. 42 students, and they all had to die. There was no way I was going to keep track of 42 charcters, but that turned out to be quite well handled. There are a handful of main characters: Shuya, Shogo, and Noriko stick together through the larger part of the book, as do Shinji and Yutaka, with Mitsuko and Kazuo being lone predators who are most definitely playing the game. The rest of the class appear, and after an introduction as to their history and character, proceed to die in all sorts of horrible ways. Morbid as it sounds, this book is one of those parge-turns because finding out who dies next, and how, is addictive.

And considering that for the first half of the book, the 3 Stooges (Shuya, Shogo, Noriko) do nothing but sit around and talk, argue, agree, until the next scene where they hash over the same conversation again, it's a good thing that there are plenty of other students running around doing things. Sad to say that in the manga, the 3 Stooges are being just as uninteresting at this point.

I wouldn't say this book is well written, and it's not something that can be palmed off on translation. Takami labourously follows the structure of; new character, state what they've been running around doing for the past few hours, go into great detail about what sports they play, or what subjects they liked, or who they had a crush on (Shuya, everyone has a crush on freakin' Shuya), then summarise the past two pages with something throwaway like "Basically, she was just your average girl," (I've never met an average anybody), and then go back to the present, where they die. As most of the characters are alone, they all spend a lot of time talking to themselves, and thinking the most unlikely things for the sake of the story. They're also the most unlikely teenagers I've ever encountered. Cliched doesn't begin to cover it.

But they rock.

Mitsuko especially.

Because Takami defied wobbly pacing, cliched characters and lacklustre writing by coming up with one hell of a good idea. This idea, setting a class of ordinary students - friends - to kill each other off on an island has more tension than anything I have ever read. Lots more. If I put all my high paced scary books on a shelf together, Battle Royale would just laugh at them. There is a lot to be learned about ideas in this, with time limits within time limits, and characters that you'll like despite it all.

Because I think, no matter what age we are, we can all relate to high school students. We've all been there. And reading this, there's a part of me thinking "That could be me."

(I don't think I would have lasted very long.)

I acknowledge that this is not at all a book that will appeal to all audiences. Far, far, far from it. If gratuitous violence is not your thing, turn away. If brutality isn't your thing, turn away. If very ordinary prose and lousy structuring isn't your thing, turn away. If cliched school kids (seriously, what is up with Shinji?) aren't your thing, run screaming.

If you don't have a problem with any of the above, if you have even the slightest interest in this book, my dogs above, hie thee hence to a book store and get this book now. It isn't a story. It's an experience.

Verdict: You know how half way across the road you look up to see oncoming traffic oncoming very fast, and you make it to the other side with time to spare, but your heart is hammering anyway, because you didn't see that when you first stepped out, and you nearly died, and it wasn't good, but damn what a rush.....
People chop up Battle Royale and snort it. It's that good.

Sunday, February 05, 2006

Liquor - Poppy Z. Brite

See this?

Signed. Normally, I go giddy over having a book signed. It feels like acknowledgement, putting the author's book in the author's hands, that I loved the book that much to go giddy fan girl on them. Well, this time it felt like cheating, because at the time I hadn't yet read Liquor.

Now I have, and I'm glad I took the opportunity to have it stamped.

Prior to this, the only Brite I'd read was her collection of short stories, The Self-Made Man. This book and I, we didn't get along that well. I haven't had a problem with horror in the past, but Brite does her sex, violence, and gore that well, that it got under my skin and left me feeling decidedly unsettled. Her writing was excellent, I just didn't enjoy the content.

Liquor isn't horror. It's restaurants.

Possibly a much crueler environment.

Set in New Orleans, it follows the lives of Rickey and G-man, two kitchen workers who are taking that mad leap into opening a restaurant of their own. In fact, that's the entire story. There is an evil nasty antagonist of sorts, but he's almost incidental, and given how much appears to be involved in opening a restaurant, there's material for many more novels in there.

Brite's biggest strength is her characterisation, no, not just her characterisation, but the dynamic between characters. She is a master at that which I take too much pleasure in messing around with: chit chat. The seemingly idle banter of her characters disguises itself as random shit talking while moving the plot steadily along. (My random shit talking, while amusing, tends to actually be random shit talking.) Rickey and G-man are fascinating guys, their relationship especially. That of two people who have known each other so long that it doesn't really matter (but it does), and that the act of not being overly intimate in public occasionally intrudes on their private life, these things have truth to them.

I can't comment on whether or not she captured the restaurant scene, or New Orleans, knowing very little about either, but I do know that I learned a lot about kitchens and cooking from this slim little book. And every second page made me hungry.

As an aside; this book has fantastic flop. The pages aren't stiff, and the cover is lovely.

No, I don't have a lot to say about this book. Partly because I read it a while ago, and most of it has slipped from my mind, but mostly because it was a straight forward story that was very well told. Given my normal reading habits, it was a wonderfully refreshing romp in a world I know nothing about, and a fantastic example of characters driving a story, something I'm becoming more obsessed about.

I'm saving the second book for the next time I need something different, with boys boys boys who swear swear swear and a good story.

Verdict: I don't think this will change your life, but it is very well written, and the characters will stay with you. So will risotto. Mmmm.

Friday, February 03, 2006

Nails and Shells

To his way of thinking, he had had a battle with a nail, and the nail had won. As a student of the martial arts, he was humiliated at having let himself be taken unawares. "Is there no way to resist any enemy of this sort"? he asked himself several times. "The nail was pointed upward and plainly visible. I stepped on it because I was half-asleep -- no, blind, because my spirit is not yet active throughout my whole body. What's more, I let the nail penetrate deep, proof my reflexes are slow. If I'd been in perfect control, I would have noticed the nail as soon as the botom of my sandal touched it."
His trouble, he concluded, was immaturity.

Taken from Musashi - Eiji Yoshikawa.

Although it is arrogant and egotistical to compare myself with Musashi, right now, this is how I approach the world. Everything is a battle. Some battles are small, such as seeing that I get my quota of 40 reports a shift. Some battles are large, such as retaining a positive outlook. Some are fleeting and exhilerating, such as climbing cliffs to fish off dangerous rocks, as was involved last weekend. (I didn't fall to my doom or hurt myself, so I defeated the cliffs.)

This is, however, Musashi at his young, reckless, and very immature stage. At about 24, to be precise.

I'm not trying to find the Way of the Sword, yet still trying to find a way. Any way. My way. Maybe I'll grow out of this need to conquer the world around me, but not, I think, anytime soon.

Right now, I'm not sure what it is I'm battling. I have the vague suspicion that it's me, and the not-so-vague suspicion that I'm losing.

"To tell the truth, I myself have run up against a wall. There are times when I wonder if I have any future. I feel completely empty. It's like being confined in a shell. I hate myself. I tell myself I'm not good. But by chastising myself and forcing myself to go on, I manage to kick through the shell. Then a new path opens up before me.
"Believe me, it's a real struggle this time. I'm floundering around inside the shell, unable to do a thing."

I've kicked through a lot of shells in my life, but they've been easy to identify, as far as shells go. External problems, internal issues, things that determination will get the better of.

This time, I do wonder if I have any future, or more precisely, what I want my future to be. I don't know. I'm not sure what I'm aiming at anymore.

Do not merely pinch off the leaves
Or concern yourselves only with the branches.

At this point, Musashi has acknowledged that he has failed to kick through the shell, and he is now seeking, from the outside world, this one thing that will untangle the mess, break the dam, unlock the door, kick through the shell. Just one thing, one simple, obvious and beautiful that will open his eyes, and give him that new path.

I think I'm spending all my time with leaves and branches. I'm fretting over the leaf mould when right beside me is the tree itself.

Eventually, I will find the trunk again. But this time, looking inward can help me no longer.