I still have a mouth and a throat and a voice

I posted this on facebook this morning as I’m still dealing with the shock of it all. I wanted to put this here too. In the past I’ve been afraid of putting myself out there too much online in a public forum because I was afraid of exposing myself to the vitriol and doxxing and hate out there. I don’t want to put myself or anyone I love in danger just because I decided to speak up. But what yesterday means is that I no longer feel safe and accepted in my country. This election has legitimized hate in so many different ways and I can no longer in good conscience let my hope and optimism, that people are good and everything will turn out for the best, silence me.

I am a different person this morning than I was yesterday. I vow to never let myself become complacent again. There is too much at stake.

You know what’s really getting to me this morning?

That half the country feels I deserve to die if I lose my job. You know what Obamacare did? It made it so if I lose my job and employer health plan, I couldn’t be denied health insurance for my pre-existing autoimmune disease, which can, and has twice now, tried to kill me.

That half of the country sees the field I work in as a ivory tower cabal that’s out to destroy their faith. I can’t imagine what might happen to sciencefunding, and my ability to make a living and feel secure enough in my company’s future (see previous point). I can’t imagine the damage to be done to the planet, and the humanity on this planet, when we’re already past so many tipping points. When researchers who are trying to solve the problems of disease and starvation have their funding gutted because science-illiterate, conspiracy theory-loving nut jobs are in charge of the national budget from top to bottom.

That half of the country sees me as less that human because I love my girlfriend. How else could they have elected into office Mike Pence, who single-handedly sparked an HIV outbreak in Indiana because he believed that gay people didn’t need treatment, they needed better morals. Seriously. Read up on him. He’s an anti-science, religious fundamentalist, homophobic bigot. And he’s next in line now.

That my body does not belong to me. That I do not have the right to choose to not have children. That I do not have the right to say who is allowed and not allowed to touch me.

Yes, I am white. I am comfortably middle class. The kinds of tax policies Trump has been hinting at (there wasn’t a single detailed plan anywhere in that campaign) would benefit me. But they would benefit me over MOST.

I’m a socialist and a liberal at heart. I believe that people are fundamentally good and that everyone has hard days, and we should do our best to help each other out however we can, and I’m always happy to have my taxes go to social programs and improving both my local and national community. I would gladly give more in taxes if it meant that science, education, social safety nets, infrastructure and medicine benefited us all.

What last night taught me is that half of this country hates me for believing this. That Half of the country doesn’t believe that we ALL deserve life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. That half of this country wants me to shut my mouth and step in line and happily die because that must mean that I was lazy or I deserved it or I didn’t do adequate push ups to be able to use my bootstraps properly.

I am afraid of what will happen to me and the people I love.

Believe me when I say that I will not go down without a fight. I will not let you go down without a fight. I will not let the overwhelming hate and invalidation I feel from half of this country shut my mouth and make me fall in line with their fearful and small-minded values.

We are better than this and we can be better than this.

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This Past Weekend, My Brain Exploded with Joy

img_2998I was sitting on the ground in front of the most perfect dance performance to David Bowie’s Underground by a Rogue in a live action Dungeons and Dragons interactive nerdstravaganza.

I don’t think I’ve ever laughed that hard in my entire life. There are some delightfully mad creative people in this world and I enjoy my sometimes role as an enabler.

This year I got to camp with the folks who always make the art I enjoy the most at Youtopia. It was really great to be able to hang out and take it easy while watching the unsuspecting festival goers interact with  all the art pieces at Fool’s Errand.

I got to do a second round of the Nightmare Menagerie again this year, thanks to an art grant from the SDCAP folks (who were super great to work with), but also a successful GoFundMe campaign to buy the bulk stuffed animals I needed to sew into all kinds of weird combinations. I sewed a lot of really ridiculous ones and made a lot of ridiculous art to go with the custom ones for folks who donated.

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So stuffed with nightmares

It took about six weeks and a lot of ibuprofin (my hands still kind of hurt) to sew the total of 205 animals stoked in the Menagerie over the course of the weekend. And I was pleased to see that it was completely empty on the final morning. I have not yet started sifting through the nightmares. I still have the ones from last year. Eventually I’ll figure out something to do with them all.

Highlight possibly of my life [“the ones I missed because I was napping” edition]: Apparently one afternoon, a five year old girl took it upon herself to become a temporary  Menagerie barker. She stood there yelling, “Nightmares! Get your nightmares!”

Which also kind of made my brain explode with joy when I was told about it later.

After all the gut stuff and sewing, I was more than happy to take it super easy all weekend, considering I had just had another (successful, yay!) poop transplant the week before. I feel SO much better now compared to before. I hadn’t even noticed how truly shitty I had been feeling. I mean, I was having to leave work early to go home and lay down. I had a hard time making myself focus on anything. I couldn’t eat without a lot of pain and stopped working out because I was tired.

Two days after the poop transplant, I could focus again. I complete stopped being kinda nauseous all the time. No more abdominal pain. I haven’t even had any minor flare up symptoms. I no longer be have to paying super close attention to what goes in and comes out of me all the time.

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Poop transplants are both!

I AM FUCKING ECSTATIC.

As a result, I’m trying to be as careful as I possibly can be through this cold and flu season coming up and keep cramming as much fiber as I can into my diet to keep my new gut buddies happy for as long as I can.

Despite all the sickliness, the GF and I had a great time up in Seattle for one of my best friend’s weddings (where I was pleased that my rehearsal dinner speech achieved the right mixture of sentimental and dry academic). We got to wander through the Chihuly naming glass flavors, and wander around the 50th anniversary of Star Trek exhibit at the EMP and stand inches away from Hudson’s armor and gun from Aliens, and get to spend time eating and arguing about everything with my briefly reunited grad school fam.

I’m really fucking happy I’m feeling good again.

Now I just need to mail the GoFundMe custom creature orders to all my non-local donors, then I’ll hope I’ll be able to enjoy at least one long, uninterrupted minute where absolutely nothing is wrong.

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“We need a plaque for the trophy”*

Well, I’ve got c. diff again. I have no idea how long I’ve had it for. I have no idea what caused it this time (maybe those antibiotics I took for bronchitis back in February?!). We almost didn’t even catch it. The test was an afterthought before we were supposed to be starting me on more involved treatments for my colitis.

So that was a mindfuck.

I stared at the test results for a good long minute before it occurred to me that maybe I should be calling my doctor instead of dumbly staring at my monitor.

I had this for a year and a half not so long ago. They just kept throwing more and more expensive pills at me until I splurged on a poop transplant (because insurance didn’t really cover the whole thing). Then I was largely okay for months and months.

So when I talked to my clinic and they started laying out a months long antibiotic taper, I started having flashbacks to the endlessness of all of this shit before and asked if we could skip all of the antibiotics (which only worked while I was on them and as soon as I stopped taking them, it came back) and just go straight for another poop transplant.

Which I have coming up on Monday afternoon.

This time around, it’s been both better and worse. Better in that my doctors spent zero time fucking around this time and we’re immediately doing the thing that worked like a charm last time, so there will be much less time this go around that will be spent in pain, losing weight, or letting the depression sink it’s jaws back in. Worse in the implications of the fact that this fucking happened again.

We’d had a treatment plan in place before this test result came in. Does this change things? If not going into the more involved treatments means that I’m going to keep getting c. diff over and over again until maybe one time we’ll miss it and maybe that time it will fucking kill me because the symptoms are the EXACT SAME FUCKING THING AS COLITIS.

::dog-sigh::

But brain weasel health-related frustrations aside, I am extremely well cared for. I am one lucky asshole to have developed IBD fifteen minutes from one of the best care and treatment centers in the world. For example, the lady scheduling the poop transplant took a minute to tell me about what a badass the doctor who was going to be performing the procedure was in the field of inflammatory bowel disease, and I had the idle thought, one of the finest minds in his field is going to be shoving poop inside me next week.

And folks have been making sure I’m okay in the interim, rubbing my back when my guts

trophy

Yes, that is a c. diff bacterium on the lid

are cramping, getting me food, bringing toilet paper. The GF and my friend-fam have done an excellent job keeping my anxious brain from taking over.

So in the meantime, I’m going to continue to pretend that I’m not a little bit queasy a lot of the time and a lot queasy a little bit of the time; and I promise not to get angry at myself for having to take it easy or take a day off just because nausea, unlike abdominal pain, is not something that can just be powered through or ignored.

*from a discussion about the trophy my GF made for me before my first poop transplant in March of 2015.

 

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Stand-er Things

A couple weeks ago, a friend recommended I check out Stranger Things, and I proceeded to blow through the 8 seriously-why-are-there-only-eight episodes twice in the space of a week.

It hit me in practically every nostalgic squee that I had, particularly all the weird, dark 80’s horror nooks and crannies. All of that came wrapped in a thick, comfy Spielbergesque blanket and I found myself in a swimming pool on a hot summer day I never wanted to get out of (Oh, Barb!). One part ET, one part Poltergeist, with a generous splash of John Carpenter and Stephen King, it homaged so many vivid pop culture muscle memories it was impossible to NOT fall deeply and madly in love with it.

This pleasant feeling lingered long after finishing the show, and other than gaining a deeper and immediate appreciation of all the fan art and memes I’d been seeing popping up on Reddit and Tumblr in the weeks prior, I also now had to grapple with the deep-seated and utterly reliable post-nostalgic need to seek out more media to prolong the feeling.

It’s an almost universal compulsion brought on by a particular type of nostalgia that anyone that pays any amount of attention to pop culture immediately recognizes. It’s the same compulsion that’s been feeding the culture of remakes, reboots and sequels (which is not a 100% awful thing, but I’m not going to get into that now). And I feel like the wave has finally caught up to my weird “Oregon Trail” demographic of the Millenials.

Maybe it’s because we’re the cohort that finally has a little bit of money now that after a decade of following our dreams and making the last of our student loan payments, we have all that disposable income we kept getting told we were gonna have after college. And maybe that also means that people who’ve been toiling in the artistic fields this whole time are getting bigger budgets and higher profile projects, so they’re making the stuff they want to make.

Is this a useful thing to market to? Absolutely. I don’t see nostalgia as a bad thing. I see it as an inevitability. I am in my 30s. For the most part, all of my formative moments are behind me. There are scars all up and down my psyche from all the experiences I’ve had and art I’ve consumed over the years. It’s hard to look at anything now and not have a complex mixture of emotional reactions to them. Nostalgia is the direct result of the texturing of our experiences. That I get to choose how and when I remember certain times and feelings is one of the great things about the internet, because I now get to go back and experience those things over and see what the world once looked like to me and everyone else. That’s fucking valuable and becomes relevant to where I’m about to take this blog-ramble.

In any case, that nostalgia inspired me to go back and rewatch all the movies Stranger Things pulled from, which then got me to rewatching some Stephen King adaptations, and now I’m sitting here thinking about the changing depictions of good and evil in media over time, and the underlying assumption of the sad puppy mindset where we would all just be better off as human beings if we were all the same and all liked the same things and all wanted to live the same way.

 

Despite my macabre reading tastes as a pre-teen, King was never my cup of tea. I was more of a Clive Barker/H.P. Lovecraft kinda kid. But there was a part of me that found the movie adaptations of King’s stuff to be a sort of horror comfort food.

It’s a bit surreal to watch now. There’s this presumption in so many of these adaptations (I can’t speak for the books since I haven’t read any of them, though King did write the teleplay for the adaptation of the Stand, so I guess I can speak to that in this case) about what the world should look like, and it’s hard for me to get past the adorable quaintness of it all.

For example: the first scene where bad guys are introduced as characters (beyond the brief flashes of The Literal Devil in the cornfield), they’re driving a red corvette and listening to ZZ Top (one of them even lops ZZ Top so much that they specifically make a note to turn it up). Or in IT and Stand By Me, where the human villain in the script was a white kid in a leather jacket with a switchblade. I wish evil were actually this banal. Or had ever been this banal. I find it hard to believe this was ever the epitome of a “bad element.” But it was to to large segment of the population that spent the most money on media in the 80s and 90s. I can admire the feeling of optimism that’s behind it – that the world would be a better place if the worst person in the world was someone in a black leather jacket on a motorcycle.

But we live in a world where Winona Ryder’s character had to remind the owner of the store she worked at for years that she had never missed a day of work when he denied her request to take a few days off to look for her missing son. And there is evil in that momentary lapse of empathy, just as there is evil in the monster’s indifference to the meaning its prey finds in living life.

So it’s sometimes hard for me to watch things like The Stand, between the nostalgic comfort of my familiarity with its type of wholesomeness and the cognitive dissonance over the simplistic impossibility of it all.

https://gfycat.com/ifr/SentimentalNextBobwhite

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Smoke or Nausea

Getting older is full of all kinds of small unfairnesses.

Since I had a weird lung cold at the beginning of the year that gave me what felt like an ongoing asthma attack for about a month, I decided that I really should stop smoking once and for all.

So I had an appointment with my butt doctor since the last time I tried to quit, one week in I started getting a really bad flare up, which cleared up immediately upon me starting smoking again. It hasn’t helped that I seemed to have adjusted to the controller medication I have to take every day. I still get mild flare ups pretty regularly and smoking was one of the things that could clear that kind of stuff up. She prescribed some colon-specific steroids for me to take for the next two months while I quit smoking to keep any flare up I might get from getting too bad.

I’m a week in. Three days ago I developed a headache that comes and goes and persistent low-level nausea. And I’m starting to have a mild flare up.

I hate that I get to make a choice every whether or not I want to feel sick and not smoke or stop taking the meds and have to start smoking again to keep my colon from trying to kill me.

The kid in me wants to scream about how unfair this whole situation is, but that would mean that there would be someone to blame for this. It’s ironic enough that it feels like there should be – I want to do a really good thing for my health, which in turn makes me significantly less healthy.

It’s too early to tell if this is even going to work. I might get through the course of steroids and immediately get a flare up and have to start smoking again. Or everything could be totally fine and I can go about my life with one less thing to worry about for the time being.

And I’m feeling a bit better today, so maybe my body’s adjusting to the medication. And the flare up seems to be getting a bit better too (provided I can stay away from the GF’s gelato in the freezer).

* * *

I’ve been slowly working my way through Buffy for a fourth time over the last month or two.

I’m into season 5 – or, as I like to call it, the season where Buffy gets a massive taste of the unfairness of adulthood.

The show is fucking great when it comes to betraying expectations. It pulls generously from the high school drama and horror movie trope bins and mashes them into a delightfully absurd and deeply affecting story.

And in season 5, when she comes up against two forces she can’t fight (her mom’s illness and the, at times, face-palmingly ridiculous Glory), a large amount of narrative energy is spent exploring her grief for her sense of fairness in life.

Because it’s certainly one thing to intellectually know that the world is unfair and to experience that unfairness firsthand. And that experience of unfairness really is inevitable.

* * *

I dunno.

Maybe when I figure out the source of this cynicism, I’ll stop blogging about it. Or maybe it’ll just consume me.

Hard to say. Too early to tell.

But I do have a suspicion it’ll all work out, even if it’s not in the way I expect it to.

Go outside. I bet it’s a beautiful day out there somewhere.

 

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Less Dirt, More Seawater

You know what’s a great song? The Rain Song, by Led Zeppelin.

You know what’s also great? Then She Did by Jane’s Addiction.

* * *

I find myself often at a loss for what to write about on his blog anymore. I used to blog incessantly. About pizza and weird shit I saw during the day, trying to fix broken pieces of ancient early 90’s technology and way too much information on whomever I happened to have a crush on at the moment.

Then I locked that shit down and moved to another blog platform where I blogged almost exclusively about feelings because there were only a handful of people who ever read that shit.

Then I locked that shit down again and decided I shouldn’t blog about feelings or weird inane shit that happened during the day anymore, which stuck me with a format of long essays, which wound up mostly being about feelings anyway.

I don’t know why I decided that blogging had to be substantial in some way.

Sometimes I miss not knowing anything about anything and just using the shit around me because it was new and it was there to be used. Just like I miss spending four hours sitting around in my bedroom playing guitar along to a relentless parade of grunge and classic rock songs.

Basically I think I’m just starting to get a little sick of being an old. I keep wondering if this cynicism that keeps trying to creep in around the edges of everything is saturation ennui. If there even is such a thing.

I went to a show the other week in a tiny bar where three 80’s shoegaze synth bands were playing, and I spent the entire show overjoyed to be there. I had some serious hard core delight going on.

Part of me wants to take this as a lesson in upping my procrastination game by going out and doing things more. But at the same time too I’m starting to get hardcore writer guilt that I haven’t produced as many words as I had wanted to by this point this year. But I’ve also been super happy and have been able to hang out with some really excellent people and done things and been to places that were novel to me.

I’m still struggling to find a balance between hedonism and discipline. It’s hard because that hedonism has really done wonders for my depression and artistic inspiration. It’s been harder to find time to sit down and write, but I feel like when I do sit down, there’s been a marked improvement even over last year.

But, of course, that improvement could have happened if I’d been working hard too. Also, I have a strong suspicion that the longer I go between long writing sessions, the lazier my prose gets, which leads to much head-desking in the revision stages (which contain more than enough reasons to head-desk without the incomprehensible run on sentences).

Meh. My band’s got a CD release show coming up for our second EP, which I got to record in a recording studio for at the end of last year. And we got to take band photos last month too.

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The circle perpetuates itself.

I’m gonna be 34 in less than a month. I’m having just about the right amount of feelings about this one. And for my birthday this year I’m asking folks to write me a letter or a note about anything they want to write me a letter or a note about. So if you’ve got something you want to write to me about, go for it. I’ve got a submission form on my about page.

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“Who invented time?”

Just sent off two grad school friends back to the airport and New York this morning. We drank. We watched Star Wars and then spent two days arguing about it. And about music. And science. And lots of other things because it’s pretty much our favorite thing to do – sit around drinking and arguing.

With some folks it never feels like any time has passed. This feel is especially pronounced when you go on a drunken 2 mile hike on a Saturday night on a quest for whiskey and burritos.

There’s a new Radiohead album out today. It’s the exact kind of Radiohead album I wanted, but didn’t know I needed as of a week ago. Choral arrangements, Strings, synths and Thom Yorke being Thom Yorke. Which also means new Radiohead music videos.

And in a fit of inevitable wonderful, this video is a also a thing:


<p><a href=”https://vimeo.com/165171240″>Radiohead – Burn The Witch (Feat. Nicholas Cage)</a> from <a href=”https://vimeo.com/user51801819″>Andrew Washington</a> on <a href=”https://vimeo.com”>Vimeo</a&gt;.</p>

Some new books I ordered just came in –

Last First Snow by Max Gladstone (book 4 in the Craft Sequence). These are so deligtful. They’re vibrant and fun and exciting with the kind of worldbuilding and atmosphere that makes me think of a Sword and Sorcery Law and Order. I got into these books on the recommendation from my friend Nicole.

Inherit the Stars by James Hogan. Had never heard of this before a friend of mine in SD recommended it. He me to read it so we could talk about it later, so I picked up an ooooooold used copy that was printed in ’82 – the year I was born. There’s a quote on the cover from Isaac Asimov comparing Hogan to Clarke.

Word of mouth recommendations are the lifeblood of all art. Give me recommendations from friends who know or share my taste. Give me an empassioned rant over beers. Tell me what it means to you and why. Tell me why you hated it and what could have been done better and why. Tell me why you were disappointed or surprised. Then let’s talk about how it could be done better.

Sometimes I wonder if one of the reasons I’ve been able to forestall what I used to believe was an inevitable decline into cynicism as I got older is because I am never not in search of new art and people to talk to about it with. Almost like I need that hope in the future that my heart will always beat a little faster as I wait for brand new Radiohead tracks to finish downloading so I can spend all morning listening to them.

I’ll be another year older next month. I’m still getting used to the feeling that time just keeps getting stranger – it passes, but doesn’t pass at all. You change, but never change at all. Forever, everything always in one instant.

Everything is always horrible and wonderful at the same time.

Thankfully, there are some pretty damn wonderful things out there right now.

On that note, I’ll leave you with a bit of Yorke-ception.

 

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::POOF:: Catharsis.

Last year, my therapist had me read a book. It had an appropriately schmaltzy self-help type title, and involved a lot of scenarios about people who had a hard time feeling appropriate emotions for the situations they were in. I remember walking away from reading it with a few small reactions, one of which was that I was struck by how I was very much not an angry person.

That’s gotten me to occasionally wonder if it was a personality trait, or if I’d gotten so used to taking situations I was in and turning them around to see in which ways I was at fault.

I used to think that everything on some level was my fault, and if that’s the case, I felt like it wasn’t appropriate to get angry at the other party(ies) for something that was due to a failing of mine.

Hindsight and a lot of therapy later, I know now that when I would do that, it was my depression feeding itself.

Now that I’ve got a better handle on my depression and my opinion of myself has dramatically improved, I find I have been getting angry about things. And I’ll say, it’s weird to feel happy that I’m angry about something.

But I am happy. My friends and GF have been really wonderful this weekend since I got some, in the end, unsurprising and infuriating news.

I’ll say this much: you can always count on an emotionally manipulative, self-serving pathological liar to lie.

I was upset. I spent the last year of my life grieving for someone who didn’t deserve a drop of it. How could I have let myself get suckered back in so completely? How could I have opened myself up to so much more damage at the hands of this person who has damaged me so completely before? How could I have been such a gullible fool?

Fuck this shit. There is no more forgiveness in me. There are no more doubts. Take the unearned grief, you piece of shit. That’s yours now. That’s all you’ll ever get from me again. Now take my anger. All of the anger I should have felt rather than compassion the first time. All of the anger I should have felt rather than the guilt. Fuck you for taking advantage of my kindness and empathy. You don’t get to feel proud of me because I became the person I am IN SPITE of you rather than because of you.

I am angry I had to take today off of work because of you. I am angry you get any kind of feelings from me whatsoever. You don’t get my guilt. You don’t get my grief. You don’t get my sadness or kindness, my joy, my delight, my empathy, my pain. You deserve none of it.

Those I reserve for the people in my life who actually and demonstrably care about me.

Happily, go fuck yourself.

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Book of Faces and Other Fables

I decided six weeks ago that I was going to stop using Facebook every day. There was something about it lately that whenever I would go on there I would come away feeling anxious and sad.

I couldn’t put a finger on what it was, exactly, that was doing it, but I figured if I felt better in its absence, it might give me a bit of insight into what, exactly, had gotten to be so dissatisfying about it.

I loved Facebook when it first came out. I was in grad school and was already notoriously bad about keeping in touch with the people who had been important to me but were now geographically far away. But Facebook made it so I could know what’s going on in my friend’s lives, and they could know what’s going on in mine. And we could comment and like stuff and generally remind each other that we exist and that we care about each other.

And that was fucking great.

I’ve always kept Facebook curated to people that I know very well, know kinda in real life, or that I’m meaningfully connected to in some way. That’s my private space, where I feel safe to write what I wanted to write. It’s always been that way for me.

So what the hell changed?

I started dipping back in after a few weeks to check for event invites or other things that have become facebook-only over the years, and also to kind of see how I would react to it.

At first I wondered if I had succumbed to that phenomena that all those articles written about image crafting and putting your best face forward on social media outlined. Was I feeling  dysphoria in seeing my friends’ perfect lives. Was that it?

Fuck no, turns out. I find that the folks I’m friends with on there don’t do that kind of thing all that often, and when they’re on there being cute-gross and love-y and stoked, I’m happy for them because I know about the awful shit they go through too. Because they’re the kind of people that share both sides of themselves.

So that wasn’t it.

So what the hell was it then?

When I would go back on, I started scrolling down a bit past the notifications bar to see whatever curated posts Facebook wanted me to see first and I think what was going on finally clicked.

Whenever I would go on there, I would think about all the time I spend by myself, and how little I actually do with other people. That sounds like it’s a bad thing, but for me, it’s really not. That’s time I spend reading, writing or watching movies/TV and analyzing stories. It’s time I play and listen to music and think about everything. It’s time I spend working out or running errands and trying to keep myself physically and mentally healthy. Having time like that is a physical need for me.

But Facebook was making me feel like I was being a selfish asshole. That there were all these wonderful people doing wonderful things and loving each other and here I was sitting around at home by myself reading a book. It started to make me feel like high school again, where I always felt like a secondary friend  – someone you say hi to in the hallways but don’t invite to grab coffee or watch a movie with. Someone you make half-hearted plans with but don’t follow through on. Eventually I thought it would be healthier for me to never ask if I could come along because if people wanted me to come do things, they’d invite me. I don’t invite myself to stuff. I’d rather be home by myself than risk forcing my company on people who weren’t into it.

But that’s only half of friendship. When do I ever invite anyone to go out and do anything? When do I ever make plans for doing stuff? Hardly ever. No wonder it was making me feel bad. It was making me feel guilty for doing the things that make me happy and underscoring some really old beliefs about where I fit in in the world.

Stepping away from Facebook made me feel better about taking care of myself.

But it also made me realize how I was using it as a crutch in lieu of actually hanging out with people. Sure I know everything that’s going on in so-and-so’s life. That means that I don’t need to ask them out to coffee and I can stay home tonight and read for five straight hours. Or I don’t need to go hang out at a bar and catch up with whozzit and whatshername.

I don’t know what a good balance is anymore. But I do know that I miss my friends.

I’m leaving the Facebook app off of my phone for the forseeable future in the hopes that maybe it’ll make me leave the house more and stop feeding that stupid teenager deep inside me that suspects that no one actually likes or wants to hang out with me. Because if that teenager had her way, I would self-fulfill the hell out of her prophecy so she would ultimately be correct.

* * *

And a somewhat relevant song link :

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Zen and the art of bathrobe maintenance

I’ve been trying to make sense of a few peculiar things I’ve been noticing lately. Bear with me while I suss these out a bit.

* * *

The question of how much life is enough life has been bugging me again lately, but it’s coming in at an odd angle this time.

I’m happy. Like, legitimately, substantially, and meaningfully happy. And not just for brief moments here and there, but this has become my default setting over the course of the past year.

So I’ve been trying to figure out why this feels so… wrong.

Is it because I’m not used to feeling this way consistently? Is it because I’m no longer reaching for things that gave me so much motivation in the past? Is that reaching a property of age or personality? Does comfort beget stagnation or does only desire beget desire?

With so many people dying in the last few weeks, it’s been kicking up some feelings (and gave me my first panic attack in a while). Seriously, beyond Bowie and Rickman, there were a handful of others that hit people I know and am close to, not to mention my Schrodinger’s parent situation continues – which I can no longer be sure if I’ve hit acceptance yet or looped back to denial because of the complete communication vacuum. Sigh.

Anyway.

I’ve been asking myself lately that same question that a few years back caught me so flat footed and triggered my last major bout of depression:

If I were to die this year, would I be happy with how things went?

Instead of the firm and visceral “No” I replied with a few years back, I now find myself thinking, “Yeah, whatever.”

I’m a bit surprised by the answer. I’ve always felt like one life could never be enough to feel and do all of the things. It’s one of the primary reasons I love fiction – it lets me live so many other lives, to feel as many things as I can before I die. And I want to feel everything humanly possible before I go.

When I first asked myself that question, I had a whole list of things I had never experienced. Basic life things, too. Like loving someone who loves you back, among others.

So I thought about all of the ways in which I was unhappy and spent the last three years systematically changing those parts of myself and my life.

As a result, I have lived a lot of life in the last few years. I have felt so many god damn feelings and I have gotten all the big life stuff sorted that had been causing me irritation or anxiety.

Now I can honestly say that if I were to spend every week of the rest of my life doing the things I’m doing now with the people I’m doing them with, I would be wanting for nothing.

I should feel accomplished and pleased with myself, and to a certain extent, I do. But beneath that, there’s a question: what now?

I don’t have an answer to that. And I suspect that’s what’s been making me uncomfortable.

* * *

One time, two of my friends were talking about what the hell they should do with their lives. One friend threw out the question: What would you do if you suddenly had more money than you could ever spend in a lifetime?

That’s a useful question in a lot of ways – a way to parse through the bullshit you have to deal with everyday and whittle down to that which you’re passionate about.

(No surprise that my answer would be that I would write full time.)

It’s also a really horrible way to approach something you’re passionate about. (How do you work towards writing full time? Wait, let’s unpack that. Holy shit that’s a lot of fucking work. And oh, hey, look, that’s something that’s no longer a viable option for the vast majority of writers out there who don’t win the Powerball, let alone ones with chronic and expensive health problems like THIS writer has).

But there’s another question that’s equally relevant:

What would your perfect day be?

(Coffee, reading, yoga, writing, see friends/watch movies/read/play music)

While achieving that Powerball dream would be nice, it’s extremely unlikely (thank YOU, colon!). But that perfect day? I have that day pretty damn often. I’m having that day so far (minus yoga – fuck you, head cold).

You’re sometimes closer than you think to what it is you want.

So while I’ve been neglecting my writing a bit over the past few years, I have been tirelessly working on rearranging my life and seeing a therapist to finally get my head sorted so I can have more of those perfect days.

So maybe I do have an answer to the question, “What now?”

Maybe I’ll pick one of those ridiculous fantasies I had as a kid (rock star/cranky writer in full-time bathrobe) and start working on that. At least now, my failure mode will be “life I have right now and am enjoying immensely.”

Happy new year. Go do a thing.

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