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hi, how do i sort through all this?

first post! it's about how my brain treats organisation


It's 1AM! What strange impulses I get sometimes.
Let's try to give you an idea of my current state of mind. As mentioned, it's 1AM. The water heater's been broken, so I haven't showered in days. I have just found this mashup of Caramelldansen and Stupid Horse and am listening to it... not on repeat, but definitely more than once. I'm fiddling with the stubble on my chin - hair that I really ought to get rid of, but I haven't the time/money/mental fortitude to actually book any electrolysis sessions. I spent most of the preceding day either catching up on all the YouTube content I missed during my three-week study grind, or playing Risk of Rain 2, in between writing cover letters and applying for internships. I'm supposed to be starting in June, and I still don't even know what country I'll end up in.
I am vaguely tired. Tired enough that I'm beginning to consider turning everything off and going to bed, but also I'm not quite there yet. Or perhaps I am, but I just want to finish this before I go.
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I've been meaning to start a blog for... Gosh, nearly two years at this point. I've had to do two important things beforehand though: First, break the notion that I have to discuss anything "important" or "meaningful" in them. This is my place, and it will put up with my random bullshit, and that's that. Second, break the other notion that I have to add some kind of technical infrastructure to this website in order to be able to post my random bullshit in an organised way. Maybe I'll eventually need to do that, or else it'll grow too big to handle, but right now I'm literally just typing this post into hardcoded HTML, and that's all I need. Repeat after me: there are no rules here.
I'm a big fan of low-level organisation: Gathering and classifying everything together in the simplest, least flashy way possible. I find that attempting to make something look prettier will inevitably result in it just making a mess when the content outgrows the pretty enclosure, and the time I spend making something look pretty is often just thinly veiled procrastination.
There's more to it than that, though... It's as though the option to make something pretty compels an obligation within me to do so. Before I'm "allowed" to start making the content to go within an organisational structure, I have to personalise and customise it to the greatest extent possible. Otherwise I'm not using all the options - I'm not Doing It Right. I notice with software that I'm intimately familiar with, like FL Studio, this compulsion is less strong. I know the software and my workflow with it so well that I don't need to organise anything - I just know how to find everything already.
But other than these exceptions, I prefer organisational systems that don't have any options to customise in the first place. My college notes are all stored in simple .txt files, one per lecture, sorted into folders by module. My schedules used to all be Excel spreadsheets, though I've taken somewhat to using Google Calendar for the reminders it gives me. My to-do list is a pinned item on my phone's notes app that I jot stuff into whenever I think of it. And now this blog is just a folder full of HTML files that all link to each other in a sort-of-structured way.
It's strange, because I love good, clean designs and interface. Look at this site! I made this site to be pretty. But when it comes to actually getting stuff done, I prefer the Spartan approach. What's up with that?
After pondering, I think it comes down to a matter of storage versus presentation. When storing information, I need it to be done in the least confusing way possible. No bells or whistles - just .txt files in an organised folder structure. The only person who needs to understand it is me, and I don't care how it looks because looks aren't the important thing here. But when the looks do matter? Oh boy, then they are paramount. I have devoted a lot of time and effort into making things present well. I'm an artist - of course I have.
So the problem seemingly arises when the storage medium offers the ability to also be a presentation medium. I get confused between the two, and I start thinking that I need to make something present well before I can start using it for storage. My solution has been to purposefully store everything in an unpresentable manner, to avoid that confusion.
Unfortunately, it's not immediatey clear how to do this with web stuff - at least, not when you're building a site from the ground up like I am. Web stuff is both storage and presentation - so a balance must be struck. Thankfully, the W3C has sort of handled this for me already. HTML is storage; CSS is presentation. JSON is storage; JavaScript is presentation. The site already looks good - I have already done the presentation part! I can just reuse it for everything I store, and most importantly, not think about it when I'm making new content. Giving the site's back-end a nice presentation is optional, and right now that's just getting in my way. So I won't! All I'm doing here is typing into a big text box in a monospace font, typing <em>this</em> every time I want to add italics somewhere. It's ugly, and it's simplistic, and it's exactly what I need.
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So here I am! And here I hope to stay. I'll write whenever I have something interesting that I want to write about, which might be once a month or it might be less. I probably won't be too regular with it either way.
It is now 3AM. I should get some sleep.

-alix carolan
this post was written on the 11th of May, 2023.