If it’s Friday, this must be…. shit, I already used that one.

Yup. Therapy today.

First, I told my therapist about this dream I had last night. Trigger warning : suicide.

In the dream, I was part of a 60’s style monster fighting squad, like the one that sometimes harassed Godzilla. It was the usual anime setup, five people in the team, all with specialties.

Mine was eating. Just kidding.

I remember that we wore form-fitting white Lycra suits, and I remember that we fought a lot of monsters, but just when we thought we had defeated them all, this version of Gidora (or, as it is apparently spelled, Ghidorah… never saw it in text before now) made of dull white metal (like what you would get if you just spray painted metal siding) appeared. He crashed through our HQ, which it turns out was suspended in an endless sky. Literally nothing but sky in all directions. Blue sky, puffy white clouds.

Like a screensaver meant to be relaxing.

Now we get to the meat of the dream. When White Ghidorah (the name of my new Japanese Nazi death metal band) crashed through out HQ, I was almost knocked completely out of the building, and was just barely clinging to a piece of the HQ’s floor by the tips of my fingers as the wind howled around me.

And I found myself thinking, “Why don’t I just…. let go? Let go and end everything? It would be so easy. ”

So yeah. That happened. I contemplated suicide in a dream. And I can’t say I decided against it (or for it), because the whole thing scared me so much that I woke up.

And I did not wake up… happy. I was, in fact, very scared. Luckily, the realization that I was back in safe solid reality and that it had all been a dream helped to calm me down fairly fast, but I was still left feeling cold and vulnerable.

Luckily, I was about to go to therapy, where I could tell my therapist all about it.

It seemed like the sort of thing he should know about, you know?

He made the obvious inference that this was about my recovery, especially the “we thought we had defeated all the monsters” part. And yeah, duh. My dreams tend not to bother to be obscure and mysterious.

You can read them as easily as you read a stop sign.

But then he asked “Why do you think you were strong enough to have that dream now?”

And that really got me thinking. I had not had nearly enough time to process the dream that far. I was in my therapist’s office around two and a half hours after the dream. It was barely cool!

But it clicked. That sounded right. I felt like I had grown strong enough for my subconscious to get me thinking about something I never think about, namely my own suicidal thoughts.

Understandably, I don’t like thinking about them. They frighten me. It is a deep and terrible thing to realize that you are a threat to yourself like that. That there are situations where you might very well choose death just to escape all the voices in your head and all the hardship of life.

That is, of course, the wrongest of wrong solutions. The way out is to stop avoiding and start enduring. But there is still a part of me that… considers it.

Now don’t worry, my noble correspondents, I am not in danger of self-harm any time soon. A long time ago in my recovery, my survival instinct woke up, and now I am just as scared to die as anyone else.

But that’s not quite the same as knowing what you have to live for. That’s what my therapist asked… he literally asked me “What do you have to live for?”

And I know why. Answering that question could have been very affirming and healing. I could have discovered a whole new purpose for my life, or at least affirmed an old one. From his point of view, it was worth the risk.

But from my point of view, as someone with serious issues with feeling worthless and useless, having my therapist ask me why I live really hurt. I can’t help but hear that as “And what purpose could a person like YOU have?”, even though I know he did not mean it that way at all.

That aside, I really have no answer for that question. The best answer I can sincerely give is “I don’t want to die”.

And that leaves only one alternative.

Other than that… I can’t imagine having a purpose. A single, overriding goal in life. Or even a whole bunch of them. How would I choose them? What could they possibly mean to me? I have far too much going on inside me, too many talents and facets and ideas, to pick a purpose.

And that says a lot about why I don’t have any life momentum. I’m stuck at the infinite signpost, wishing I could go all directions at once and unable to pick one.

Having a single dominant purpose just seems so limiting to me. I realize that’s a problem when it comes to actually going anywhere in life, but it’s part of who I am. I am too claustrophobic for that kind of confinement.

So I never think about the question. What if I can’t come up with an answer other than “None. I have absolutely no reason to go on living. At all. ” What then?

All the answers I can think of are bad.

So no. I don’t have a purpose other than not dying. I can extend that a little and say that I still find life interesting and want to know what comes next. But that’s about it.

Actual hope is alien to me. I hope (hah) to learn it in time, but there is still too much of depression’s deathly chill within me to be able to accept real hope.

It just gets crushed between the ice floes.

I will talk to you nice people again tomorrow.

The Tribal Organization

{EDITOR’S NOTE : I have covered this subject before in this space, but it came up again on Facebook today and I realized I had more to say about it, hence today’s topic. }

We humans are a tribal lot. We have very deep social instincts driving us to form families and tribes at the slightest opportunity. Given enough time, proximity, and shared experience, any group of people will become a tribe, whether it’s two families who accidentally end up vacationing together, an office full of co-workers, or soldiers at war.

Modern liberal consumerism obscures this fact by assuring us that we are all individuals, independent and free, who would never stoop to something as low and offensive as actually being influenced by the society you live in every single moment of your life, including this moment right now.

And this one.

And so on.

And it is thos obfuscation that keeps the average person from understanding the very water in which they swim. [1] We throw up our hands in surrender when trying to understand what causes people to do these of which we certainly do not approve, and which are sometimes downright contemptible, when the evidence is clear once you start looking at the subject clearly.

It is this very simple and extremely power tribal urge that lies behind so many unpleasant realities, big and small, in modern society. What we demand of certain people goes directly against this tribalism, and we should not be surprised that, as bad as the consequences can be, sometimes the tribalism is going to win.

I will start with a small example from everyday life. We have all, at some point, needed something from someone who works behind a counter, only to find that said person prefers to chat with co-workers for however long they please before casually sauntering up to the counter to give you the bare minimum of service while giving you the distinct impression that you wanting them to do their actual job is a major and unjustifiable inconvenience.

This is, of course, extremely galling, and has caused many a person to wonder what the proverbial fuck is going on.

Let the scales of individualism fall from your eyes, and all becomes clear. Despite the fact that, by all rights, those people are there to serve customers and are told, over and over, by their organizations to be “customer oriented”, the people behind the counter have formed a tribe and you, the customer, are the outsider “attacking” them.

This illustrates the overriding rule of all tribes, no matter how formed : No matter what, protect the tribe from outsiders. Whatever has to be done to protect the tribe is justified under the laws of tribalism.

So when you, the unwitting customer, comes up to the counter, you are the person from outside the tribe who is making them do something they do not want to do, as opposed to enjoying the relaxing intra-tribal camaraderie they had before you showed up.

This is why organizations continually act against their purported purposes. Against the tribal instinct, some set of rules and high sounding goals as customer satisfaction struggle in vain.

In fact, it is this tribalism that leads to customer service employees to grow to hate the customers. All it takes is a few tales of awful customers to get passed around and enable the tribe to go in the direction it wants to go anyhow : our tribe is good. The customers are bad. We stand united against them.

And yet, it doesn’t stop there. This organizational mindset permeates all of society. On every level, there is the struggle between fulfilling the overt role one has attained in society, and being loyal to your tribe, and more times than not, it is the loyalty which wins.

Doesn’t sound so bad, right? Loyalty is very important. It is a primary human value and those who do not show it are often punished quite harshly, either legally or socially.

But what if we are talking about a priest’s loyalty to the Catholic Church versus the legitimate concerns about a child-molesting priest? What if it’s a cop’s loyalty to his fellow cops versus allegations of police brutality? What if it’s someone’s loyalty to the politician and party for whom they work versus their duty to tell the world the awful things said politician does?

And that’s the word to focus on as a fulcrum for this discussion : duty. Duty to society is the opposite of tribal loyalty, and it is the foundation of society because it is only bulwark we have against corruption. Whether it’s a government bureaucrat, a UPS driver, or just the kid who locks up after McDonald’s closes, society depends on people who will resist the institutional mindset and deliver service no matter what.

Thus the role of the ethical traitor. The person whom we actually laud for betraying their tribe by coming forward with the truth and evidence to bring real accountability to the system.

It is very telling that these people should be so rare and valuable. That’s how strong the tribal urge is in the hearts and minds of the human race is. Ninety nine point nine percent of the time, people choose tribal loyalty.

And who can blame them? Not only does the tribal instinct compel them to protect the tribe at all costs, and not only do we all know that any form of disloyalty is punished extremely harshly in human society regardless of justification, but to act outside the tribe, for a human, is to step out into outer space. Our tribes are our universes, and anything that reaches outside that is that most dreaded of specter, the unthinkable unknown.

So go easy on those who behave in underhanded or even downright wrong ways in order to protect their tribes. Sure, it’s easy for us, sitting outside their various tribes, to insist that everyone should behave in the way that benefits us, the outsiders. And there is no doubt that, from a moral point of view, that is exactly how they should act.

But are we so sure that we would be willing to leave the warm waters of tribal familiarity (often known as “the feeling of belonging”) in order to swim into the icy and isolated waters of betrayal, perhaps forever?

I will talk to you nice people again tomorrow.

Footnotes    (↵ returns to text)
  1. What water? says blind individualism. All I see are islands.

Don’t know what to write

So like…. whatever.

Today’s been a bit better than yesterday. The kitchen still needs cleaning. But I finally got around to busting some boxes that needed busting in order to free up space, and so there’s that.

Made a white cake last night. Well, theoretically white. White in name. Yellow in appearance. I haven’t cut into it yet (moron that later) but I am guessing it will be the same inside.

I tried reducing the baking time in hopes of producing something that looks vaguely like the picture with the recipe, but it looks the same as before : yellow and wrinkly, with oversized air bubbles.

Maybe next time I will reduce it even more. On the other hand, maybe the recipe sucks.

Tonight I will glaze it. I know from experience that this particular cake recipe’s result is pretty boring sans icing, and so the glaze is kind of necessary.

It wouldn’t be necessary if I knew how to make the kind of cake they sell in supermarkets. Apparently, that’s just a standard cake mix. Theoretically, I could just buy cake mixes (sorry Mom) but I think most cake mixes have the sugar already added and all the consumer has to do is add water and an egg.

So, so much for that idea. Who knows, maybe they have sugar free cake mixes nowadays. I will look into it.

I would be willing to sacrifice my from-scratch ideals if it result in cake that is that good. Although I would always be wanting to find a recipe for the cake so I don’t have to buy mixes any more.

What can I say…. the things you learn from your parents can run pretty deep. When I was a preschooler, my mother made everything from scratch and inculcated in me a belief that natural is always better and I should avoid overly processed foods and artificial gunk in favour of whole, natural foods.

Sadly, I can’t afford to live entirely by her ideals, but some traces do remain. and baking really bring that out in me. Maybe it’s more about a stubborn demand for knowledge than anything else. I want to know how it’s put together! Rather than just believe whatever a faceless megacorp tells me!

I have trust issues.

I suppose baking from scratch gives one a feeling of power that way. You are the one who takes all the powders and liquids and such and combine them into something that will taste amazing. It’s like being a highly successful alchemist. I can’t turn lead into gold but I can turn flour, Splenda, and so on into some mighty tasty cookies.

Cake mixes take all the fun out of it!

What else…. I really feel like I am fighting a large battle in the war against depression lately. I go back and forth on the horns of inner conflict all the time, and it gets a bit tiring.

But no matter. The war is on, and victory is inevitable because my mission is pure and my will is unbendable. I might not go fast, but like the Canadian military in WWII, I never, ever lose ground. I’ll bear Atlas’ burden rather than give a single inch. When I kick my depression out of my mind, it fucking well stays out.

I have to avoid putting myself into the same old traps, though. That whole business with cleaning the kitchen is a perfect example. When the “want to” become a “have to”, all hell broke loose, and I got all tied up in knots.

The smart thing is to forget all the “shoulds” and “have to’s” and bring everything back to the primal desire : I want to clean the kitchen. I want to do it because it will result in my having a clean and cheerful space to do my baking, because it will be a small amount of exercise, and because it will make me feel better about myself.

None of the rest of it matters. I don’t have to do it. The kitchen is no dirtier than usual and so if I do nothing, it will be business as usual, not a global catastrophe. I don’t need to do it either. Need to, have to, ought to… none of that bullshit matters. And worse, it only gets in the way of achieving the objective.

But then again, maybe that’s the point.

it’s a hard mental transition to make for someone with such deeply ingrained negative patterns as me. Even forming the thoughts feels like trying to shove your head through a brick wall.

Luckily, I am perverse enough that, once I recognize something as being hard to think, I immediately become fascinated by it and it makes me try all the harder.

But there is an awful lot of self-correction involved in this stage of my recovery. A lot of thinking the wrong thing then stopping myself and saying “No… NOT like that. Like this!”

In its own way, it’s still about my overactive superego. But now said superego is being retrained to become a positive, encouraging, structuring parent as opposed to the nonparenting I got as a kid. I am showing myself some tough love, as well as the tender kind, and it seems to be working.

But it’s damned tricky. My superego is not fully retrained yet, and can relapse into negativity and self-destruction quite easily. Training a vicious attack dog to be a gentle seeing eye dog is not easy. It will take a lot of negative and positive reinforcement. But he’s a good dog at heart, and so I am sure it can be done.

Somewhere within me, I have everything I need to heal and grow and rise. Detoxification won’t be easy or fun or fast, but every day I wake up a little less sick. Strength, power, independence, and honor will one day be mine. I will banish the shame, the shyness, the soft shelled shelteredness, and the addiction to panic and failure, and be who I really want to me.

And that, my friends, will be someone truly awesome.

I will talk to you nice people again tomorrow.

What we need to ignore

…becomes the mould for that upon which we fixate.

It’s not been a great day. Meh verging on bleh. I’ve created one of my inner conflicts and life will be less pleasant until it sorts itself out for the better.

See, I really need to clean the kitchen. I’m the one who makes 90 percent of the mess in there with my baking and the kitchen is in a really sorry state. Flour caked on surfaces, a ton of dirty baking related dishes to do, bottles to rinse for recycling. It’s a thing which needs to be done and I should be the one to do it.

Certainly I have to do it before Joe gets sick of it, cleans it himself, and I ends up feeling really guilty and depressed and useless and burdensome and all that jazz.

So there’s is something that needs doing, and I am the one to do it, so I should just do it, right? Simple.

But it’s never quite that simple with me. I fully realized and took ownership of the problem last Sunday night, and formed the distinct intent to do it. Planned it for Monday afternoon.

But then Monday afternoon came, and I just… didn’t do it. And that’s the fatal moment because that’s when the aversion formed. Now the task is all tangled up inside me because instead of something I want to do, it’s something I have to do, and that makes me fervently avoid it because I just can’t take the pressure. I bail.

Pressure is a very big problem for me. When things get too intense in my head, I just tap out. It’s all I know how to do. I silence all the inner voices shouting at me by just shutting down.

It’s something I learned as a little kid. As in, a preschooler. I had two parents and three older siblings, and over and over again I would find myself with all five of them shouting conflicting instructions or advice at me and the only way out for me was to shut down and wait for clarity.

I don’t think anyone realized, including myself, just how much damage that was doing to me. I’m a people pleaser by nature, even more so back then, and so I really wanted to do what I was told. But I couldn’t do it with that kind of chaos. And that really upset me, but I wasn’t assertive enough to complain.

Looking back, I wish I had been assertive enough to shout “ONE AT A TIME!”. Or even “PICK A REPRESENTATIVE!”. How could they argue with that? My case was solid.

But sadly, that set the pattern for the rest of my life. When things got to be too much inside my head, or in life, or in (usually) both, I would just shut down and wait for the moment to pass.

But like in the adult world is not nearly so simple. In the real world, you have to deal with things no matter how loud and chaotic the voices inside get. You can’t always shut down when things get too intense and filled with pressure. You have to actually hang in there and do what needs doing no matter what.

Tough call for an escape addict who responds to most fearful or stressful situations by kicking into panic mode where all you are about is the fastest and most direct escape from the situation. And at that point, you are willing to jettison absolutely anything… your dignity, your personhood, your best interests, your skin…. if it gets in the way of your escape.

And your depression knows this, and is quite skillful at simply upping the internal depression pressure…. depressure…. to an easily reached overload level and thus keeping you in your place, under its control. Everything that leads to potential escape immediately floods with pressure so you overload and shut down, just like your depression wants.

And so you develop aversions. After all, why should your depression go to the trouble of flooding you with pressure and conflict all the time when your mind is so compromised that it can save itself a lot of trouble by simply tagging enormous parts of reality as “scary, do not enter” and then make sure you stay too distracted to notice that huge portions of life are cut off from you because, after all, there is so much in your tiny life (so many books to read, video games to play) that who needs more?

But just as a man locked in a library still has to eat, no matter how distracted you get, you still have the normal human needs for connection, affection, social approval, romance, sex, and so on. Starvation, whether physical or emotional, does no go away when you ignore it. It grows, and grows, and crowds out more and more of your higher mental functions until, outside your distractions, you can barely think at all.

And that’s when depression really can declare victory over you and laugh in your face : when it has made you stupid. When it has successfully convinced you that its reality is the only reality and everything else must be an illusion, a delusion, or simply meant for somebody else.

This afternoon was spent not only avoiding cleaning the kitchen, but burying myself in my Android games for my tablet far more deeply than I usually do. I didn’t even manage to get up and use the computer like I usually do. Every time I thought about leaving the (oh so comfy) fixated groove I was in, avoidance kicked in, and I said “Um, nope. ” and dove deeper still.

The relationship between the avoidance and the fixation was clear. So when you come across tales of people who seem very fixated on something very small and unimportant, just think of what they must be trying to avoid by turning up the volume on the one thing they know and trust, be it playing chess, collecting Pokemon cards, or winning a land war in Asia.

I will talk to you nice people again tomorrow.

What’s depressing Fru

Money, of course. As usual. Poverty sucks.

Got VancouFur coming in a couple of weeks. Dunno how I am going to afford it. Had to pay for my bus pass on last month’s check. Now it’s a five week month just when I don’t need one the most.

Right now, I got around $317 to see me through the next four weeks (come Wednesday). That’s three quarters shy of $80/week. That would be a slight squeeze even without a con to pay for.

But as is…. this convention, for some reason, is going to last FOUR days instead of the traditional three. And while I can pay back Joe for the room over time, there’s still that little matter of not starving. Assuming we arrive Thursday afternoon or night, that means I have ten meals to pay for. Plus the con registration fee of $45.

Usually, I budget $20/meal. That would me that my convention expenses would be $245. Take that out of my 317, and you get the kingly sum of 72 bucks for, ya know, everything else that month.

Divide that by four weeks, and you get me living off of $18/week for four weeks. Yikes. It’s not like I would starve or anything… we are talking about somewhat disposable income here… but still. Yikes.

Actually, that’s not exactly accurate, because I will be gone for four days for the convention and I will not have to spend any money outside of the convention budget while there, so it’s more like I will be supporting three weeks outside the convention.

That inflates my non-convention (unconventional?) to a whopping $24 per week.

Oh my, better tell Mother we’re buying new China.

So all I can do is save all the money I can before the convention, and see where I am going into it.

And to be honest, $20/meal is not set in stone. That’s assuming I have every meal in a sit-down type restaurant, and I am sure I could scrap by with some fast fool meals in there, which average more like $10.

Heck, I can even bring food from home. Hopefully our room will at least have a microwave, so I can bring my microwave popcorn, and fresh fruit of the root cellar survivor type (apples YES, bananas NO), and we can make a Costco run beforehand and I will be able to invest some of that meal money into things like fruit bars and bottled fruit juice and such that make a good enough breakfast for us who prefer our morning meal be Continental style.

Maybe some bran muffins. Depends on how much they are charging.

So all in all, it will likely be okay. Just like most of the things I freak out over. Once I get a grip on myself, and calm down, I can usually figure out how to deal with things.

And it’s tempting to wish I could just bypass the freaking out part, and maybe some day I can. But for now, the freaking out and getting depressed is necessary because it’s how I work out the emotions till I can be rational again.

I keep telling myself : You don’t have to be reasonable. You are allowed declare some things non-negotiable. You can insist on what you want without having to justify it. You can work hard on being you without taking everyone else into consideration as more important to, or even equal to, your own concerns.

Everyone has the right to treat themselves as their number one concern. Odds are nobody else will. How could they? They have their own lives to deal with. So everyone is their own primary caretaker, supporter, secretary, and spiritual advisor.

Some people take that to extremes and act like it is a zero sum game with only two outcomes : you are either entirely selfish and refuse to take other people’s feelings into account at all (good luck with that), or you are completely selfless and give away everything to the poor and live in rags on the street.

Note that it is rarely the proponents of the second option who insist upon this binary.

The problem is, both sides have a point. That is the usual result of being mired in a false dichotomy. Both positions take genuine points and extend them to their logical extreme in order to vilify the other.

Disagree with the selfish position? Then you must want everyone to be poor and living in filth. Disagree with the selfless position, and you must be a heartless ogre who wants as many poor people to die as possible.

The truth, like Aristotle said, lies somewhere in the middle. Total selfishness is both evil and self-destructive. There is much to be gained via empathy and caring and compassionate acts. You will feel much better about yourself if you let others in and let yourself out. Being terrified of doing so because you think it will somehow violate you or even destroy you is a fool’s game that can only lead to being very cold and very alone.

Honestly, you will be surprised at how little you miss or even care about what is washed away in the flood. All it does is get rid of a lot of delusional trash that was never really part of you to begin with, and thus, your self is not only not violated, it is purified.

You will feel more like yourself than ever before.

As for total selflessness, that is impossible. No matter how hard you work for others’ benefit, you will still be a person, with needs and desires and drives of your own, and the more you ignore them, the worse things will get for you.

(As an aside, most acts of extreme selflessly are driven not by a desire to help others, but a desire to be seen to be better than others. Holier than thou, so to speak. )

You will always be yourself. You will always be in charge of yourself. You have the right to act selfishly sometimes. You do not always have to be the loser in every zero sum game.

But if you want to be happy, you will let the river of life flow through you, not around you.

I will talk to you nice people again tomorrow.

Come home, Blockheads!

Just today, I started playing a game called Blockheads. It’s a lot like Minecraft (or at least, what I imagine Minecraft to be like. I’ve never played it). You control a little dude who lives in a highly interactive environment where you can dig up dirt, use that dirt to make tools, use those tools to get things to make other kinds of things, and so on and so forth.

I never thought I would enjoy this kind of game. People would tell me about what they did in the game and it all seemed so pointless. I figured it would be the sort of thing that only people with the “builder” or “maker” dream enjoyed. The people who took great pleasure from working hard to make something then standing back, gazing upon their creation, and saying “I made that!”

Yeah, I am totally not that kind of person. I will work hard towards a goal, but there has to be a clear and worthwhile goal. I read about people building amazing, complicated things in Minecraft and think, “Good for them. But why?”

So odds are, I will get tired of the game as soon as I have basic survival for my little dude down. Or at least, have run out of ways to make his little dude life better. Improving life for my little dude (I named him Charlie, can you guess why?) seems like enough of a goal to keep me going for now.

Plus, there is exploration, which I do enjoy. And I am always hooked by the challenge of building and advancing civilization, which is more or less what Charlie and I have to do. (Charlie starts with nothing but a few tools and a little food. Everything has to be built up in stages from there. )

So it turns out that I might enjoy this kind of game from a Robinson Crusoe point of view. I was actually craving a game where I got to rebuild civilization and couldn’t find one that I considered satisfactory.

Then I download this game on a whim, and lo and behold, it’s exactly what I was looking for.

I love when things just work out like that.

There’s some birds wheeling and floating in the sky outside my window. About thirty or so. They don’t seem to be heading anywhere in particular and it is way too high up for them to be circling a food source. So I guess they are doing it because they are birds, and birds like to fly.

Back to the game. Well, nothing good comes without a price, and this one was particularly deep and personal (though not terribly important or dire) for me.

See. the makers of the game used the tried and true method of using good public domain music as the music for the game. And one of the pieces of music is a very old tune called Coming Home.

Not many people seem to have heard of it these days. But I know it, and know it well. Usually when I have experienced it, it has been in this kind of form :

Remembrance Day. Remembering fallen soldiers who never did come home. We bring them home by remembering them.

So it’s no wonder that the song always goes straight to my heart and fills me with solemn melancholy and quiet Canadian grief. And it’s an absolutely beautiful tunes, in my opinion. Simple, elegant, deeply moving, and of course, incredibly sad.

But not hopeless. It mourns but it does not despair. It says “I grieve for those lost to us, but I will hold my chin up high and go on, in their memory. ”

And that’s why it really gets me. Just like Remembrance Day always gets me. Even as a kid, I never wondered why we went to the park with our town’s WWII memorial every November 11. Once I was old enough to understand it, my mother pointed out the names of uncles and cousins she never got to meet because they died in WWII, and I understood it right away. We went because there were some of ours on that memorial. We went because we were part of it.

And now I am far away from that memorial, and so I don’t do Remembrance Day any more. I can’t go to a memorial for someone else’s dead. It seems obscene and impossibly rude. My people are not on that memorial.

So to some up, some video game people put some public domain music in their game and now I am grieving.

Told ya being sensitive wasn’t for wimps. There’s a reason one must suffer for art.

It’s because you have to be the sort of person who might be thrown into deep sadness by a random song from a video game in order to develop the depth of feeling and understanding that goes into making great art.

You have to have something inside you that you really need to express.

What else…. made peanut butter cookies last night. Yum. Stuck with leaving them in the oven for exactly nine minutes, as my experiment with nine minutes fifteen seconds resulted in burned and dry cookies.

I still want them to be a little more tan for purely cosmetic reasons, but when baking, the overwhelming priority is always that the product be edible and taste good.

Cosmetic concerns come way after that, especially if they are minor.

Feeling pretty sleepy today. But I am doing what I can to stay out of the bed this afternoon. So far I am not crushingly sleepy, just kind of tired around the edges. We’ll see.

(the next day)

Oh shit, forgot I wasn’t quite finished…. well this is embarrassing. Sorry for anyone who wondered why there was no post yesterday. Seems like my absentmindedness has taken yet another unexpected turn.

Because if you expected it… you would remember.

Anyhoo, Sunday with Le Gang (sans Julian, who is dogsitting) was awesome as usual.

And I will talk to you nice people again tomorrow. Today. Whatever.

Fru reviews what he views

Catchy title. Maybe I will make it a regular thing. (Probably not. I’m inherently irregular. )

Today I finished watching Justice League : Doom, an animated feature from the DC universe.

To someone of my age and media habits, it comes across as a butched up version of the Superfriends. On the hero side, you have Wonder Woman (original) , Superman (same), Batman (voiced by Kevin Conroy from Batman : The Animated Series, who will always be MY Batman), the Green Lantern (Hal Jordan version), Martian Manhunter (and his awesome deep black guy voice), The Flash (suitably sarcastic and cocky) and Cyborg, aka the ultimate “black guy who is good with computers.

The bad guys are largely unknown to me and AFAIK, only one of them appeared in the original Legion of Doom. On the villainous side, you have Bane (didn’t even exist when the original Superfriends were around), Star Sapphire (some chick GL dumper who took it very, very badly), Metallo (giant robot with a Kryptonite heart, gee wonder who he will fight), Mirror Master (always a better villain for The Flash than that Mister Freeze ripoff), and Cheetah (the one holdover from the original Legion of Doom, known for her feline motif and her psychotic hatred of Wonder Woman). Leading them, instead of Lex Luthor, is Vandal Savag (immortal super-intelligent caveman and way more of a threat than Lex because unlike Lex, he’s patient and doesn’t take anything personally. )

Right away, the movie shows its mission because all our Superfriends are way more into kicking bad guy butt and enjoying it than older and more PG versions of themselves. At times they skirt the fringes of sadism with their enjoyment of beating down the bad guys and even threatening them to get information.

None of this is actually immoral. It’s all justified. But I prefer the nobility of the previous era of DC heroes, who fought crime because it was the right thing to do, not because they got off on it.

Anyhow, the basic plot has two parts : the first half, where all the League heroes are taken out by extremely clever and well thought out plans that very nearly kill them, then the second half, where it is revealing that Vandal Savage has a big plan to set off a huge solar flare that will instantly kill everyone on the sunward side of the Earth and knock out all electrical technology on the other side, plunging the world into darkness and chaos. Then the world will be glad to accept his leadership in returns for the food, shelter, and order he will provide.

Extremely large physics issues aside, this is a very typical supervillain type plan. At least half of all James Bond villains had a plan like this. And like most products of a diseased mind, it makes no fucking sense.

For one thing, it rests on the assumption that absolutely nobody else will have the capacity to restore order, and that is clearly a megalomaniacal delusion. Not only is the world peppers quite liberally with survivalists preparing for exactly this kind of thing, but governments have prepared for it too, not to mention the rich.

And another thing : wiping out existing technology does not wipe out the knowledge of how it’s made. The world is full of highly competent people who know how to make things and who, together, could get modern society running again in six weeks.

Rebuilding the totality of modern global society would take longer, but modern technology will survive.

So humanity would not need Vandal Savage’s leadership at all. The idea that “if you hurt something (in this case, humanity) bad enough, it has to submit to you” is clearly a reptile brain delusion and not at all how things actually work.

But there’s another major flaw. Even if the supervillain is willing to set their sights lower and just assume that some large amount of humanity will accept them as leader, and that they will have to start small and build up, their plan depends on one very easily altered contingency :

That nobody knows who caused the catastrophe.

If they knew, absolutely nobody would follow them. They would, in fact, be the most hated person in all of history and they would live the rest of their lives as hunted fugitives, with no place on Earth where they would he safe from the very very large fraction of the remainder of humanity who wants to kill the fuck out of them a million times over.

So if I was the hero or superhero facing the supervillain who has just revealed their Big Plan, I would tell the villain that lots of people already know what the supervillain is planning, and in these days of Internet ubiquity, the knowledge of who is about to destroy the world would spread extremely fast, and there would be no place for them to hide if they carried out their ridiculously flawed plan.

And I would add “Look. I get it. You’re a megalomaniac and that makes you hate other people for not being you and having their own needs and desires and so on. But don’t pretend to me that this clinically retarded plan of yours was ever anything but a baby crying because it was no longer the center of attention. You hate sharing to such an insane degree that you even hate sharing the world with other people. I know who you are, villain. And if you don’t stop this nonsense, I will tell everybody just what a low, cowardly, immature, whiny, infantile idiot you really are. And everybody will laugh at you…. forever. ”

That might get me killed, of course. It would be entirely consistent with their infantile mindset for them to strike out blindly at the thing that upset them.

But the damage would be done to their fragile egos. That’s the kind of thing that could drive them into true deep insanity (thus rendering them harmless as to the world, they are not a drooling vegetable) or, I suppose, even get them to take a good long look it themselves and grow the fuck up.

Either way, when they are distracted, you could stop their fucking doomsday device.

I will talk to you nice people again tomorrow.

If it’s Friday, this must be…

…therapy talk. And some other stuff too.

My therapist did not bring his little bichon frise Charlie with him this time, and I must say, I was a little disappointed. That dog is really cute and I am the kind of person who sees a dog and goes “DOGGY!” in the inside, and I will be like that till the day I die, so I missed the lil guy.

It did make it way easier to concentrate this time, though.

It did make me think about my relationship with animals. There was a thing going around Facebook last year about being the kind of person who, in the middle of a crowded party, will be the one making friends with the cat.

That is SO me. I love animals and I have a lot of trouble (mostly internal) getting on with people, so I am totally the kind of person who makes friends with animals when there’s lots of people around.

Animals are great. No complicated social variables or context-rich situations I just don’t get. They like to be petted. I like petting them. It’s the soul of uncomplicated mutuality.

And I am lucky because I am the sort of person to whom children and animals instinctively flock. I know it’s a common cliche to say “Well everyone likes to think they are the kind of person to whom children and animals instinctively flock….” thus implying that the person towards whom this is said is not, but I really am.

I am the youngest of four, so I have zero child-rearing experiences. Yet time and time again, when I have been around little kids, they stick to me like white on rice. All I do is treat them with kindness and respect, and apparently, that makes me a kid magnet. There were kids on my paper route when I was a teen who only knew me from when I showed up once a week to collect payment for the paper. Nevertheless, they would be super happy to see me, and all I had done to earn it was talk to them for a few minutes while their parents were looking for change.

I didn’t ask for this power. It’s a gift, and a curse.

As for animals, I have a long history of petting dogs everyone else thinks are mean, befriending cats people think are too shy to make friends with people, and other feats of near Snow White level of animal affinity.

I guess there is just something about me. Kids and animals can sense that I am a gentle, nonthreatening, friendly soul and want nothing more than to befriend them, and they respond to that.

Kind of makes me feel good about life, really. That simple creatures can recognize that.

And maybe with the kids, they can sense my deep maternal nature. That would be nice too. I still don’t know exactly how a maternal male makes his way through life expressing that unusual duality, but it will come to me.

Anyhow, so I get along great with critters. Growing up with all those cats probably helped. As did being a lonely child who has trouble interfacing with people, leaving lots of social potential left over for me to get very good with animals, cats especially. I practically speak cat.

We also talked about my recent spate of self-improvement. All that butching up inside. I want nothing more now than to gather strength and power and self-respect into myself like breathing in oxygen.

I am in touch with my primal id, and damn it feels good. I am going to feed it and love it and train it till it grows to dinosaur size and I can ride it out of my sad little life and on to bigger, brighter, more wonderful things.

I don’t mean to insult the people currently in my life, like my friends. I love my friends so much! But I have my eyes on distant horizons these days, and some day, the wind at my back will be strong enough to take me there.

Um, closer to there. In the direction of there. You can’t actually reach the horizon. Obviously. Ahem.

Man, the words are coming hard today. My brain is totally on vacation and does not want to think wordful thoughts.

What else… oh, I told my therapist about the need to imagine versions of myself before I can become it. I tried to give him a broad and digestible version of it, but he still didn’t understand it. I guess it is pretty personal to me and hard to explain to someone who is not me.

But I have to be able to imagine a version of myself, me but with different variables, before I can move in that direction. It’s like I imagine a mold then slowly ooze out of one mold and into the newer, better one.

And this new mold has to grow organically. I can’t force it and it can’t be something I conceive of consciously. It just emerges from the subconscious, which has been refining it for a long time, far away from the prying eyes of the conscious.

I know I have it right when it feels real. When I can imagine myself in that role and it feels right. When I can totally imagine myself becoming that version of myself and it being awesome.

It sucks to realize that I am so goddamned unique that even my therapist doesn’t really “get” me. Just for once I would like someone to get where I am coming from instead of being forever trying to communicate myself to people in a way they will understand and accept.

But no, it seems I am destined to walk the lonely path of rugged individualism whether I want to or not. (I don’t. ) I sometimes wish I could be a stoic loner who prides themselves on self-sufficiency and takes the tough road on purpose.

But I’m Snow White. And it just doesn’t work that way for me.

I will talk to you nice people again tomorrow.

Fru versus the phone

I have a pretty big problem with the phone.

I am not sure when it started. I certainly don’t recall having any phone related issues as a kid.

In fact, like a lot of kids, I found answering the phone when it rang to be fun. It was exciting and sudden and I got to be all adult and ask who’s calling and if they wanted me to take a message or not.

This often confused the people on the other end of the line, because I was clearly a child and yet I talked like an adult and seemed quite self-possessed. So sometimes they would insist I hand the phone to “am adult” (grr) or “my mommy or daddy” (GRR!), and I would be miffed.

I’d do it, of course. But I’d be miffed while doing so.

But other times, they would accept that I was not an imbecile and ask for a specific person, and I was all too glad to go get that person because that was part of the game, as it were.

Taking a message was always tricky for the other person because of that whole “kid who talks like an adult” thing. They never knew what words I knew. But I always did my best to take down the message correctly and make sure the right person got it.

Occasionally, someone would be so bemused by my apparent age dysphoria that they would talk to me for a while. I was so-so on that. I am always more comfortable when I have a role to play, and so just plain talking with adults often made me nervous. For one thing, they talked to me like they would talk to a normal kid my age (understandably) and that always bothered the hell out of me because to me, they were talking in a weird and creepy and over-familiar and exaggeratedly gentle and slow way.

I mean, my parents sure as hell never talked like that!

Also, despite my precious perspicacity, I was still a kid, and they would talk about things for which I had no frame of reference and that made me very stressed out as well.

I know I keep saying this, but I was quite the handful back then. Through no fault of my own, I was hard to handle because I sent such confusing signals to people. Do I treat him like a kid, or an adult, or…?

So anyhow, I had no problem with the phone back then. But at some point, the phone became a problem for me. It ringing started to frighten me, not because I thought the phone would physically hurt me, but because it was so jarring and sudden and socially demanding that I developed the very bad habit of letting things go to voice-mail.

And even that wouldn’t be so bad, but then the phobia attached itself to the voice-mail too, making it hard for me to every check it because for some reason, that made me almost as anxious as answering the phone did.

I think part of the problem is that it is, on a simple-minded level, a problem that goes away on its own. The voice mail gets it. And if you live with others, they will eventually check the voice-mail and tell you about it in a warm, friendly, non-threatening way that does not provoke anxiety.

Obviously, I am not claiming this is right or noble or even in my own best interests. Phobias are never pretty. But in order to be overcome they must be brought into the light and confessed to, and that is what I am doing here tonight. As in :

Today the phone rang. I totally could have answered it. There was a phone not three feet from where I was. I could have just reached over and answered it. But I was scared. It startled me and I knew that if I answered it, I would have to socially engage with a random stranger (every social phobic’s worst nightmare) and so I just let it go to voicemail.

I am not proud of that. I am not enormously ashamed of it either. Lots of people let things go to voicemail all the time. As social crimes go, it’s fairly minor.

What bothers me is that it makes me impossible to reach in realtime, and that is just plain not good. It leads to great frustration amongst those who know me (who are the last people I want to hurt) and causes me to get information rather late, which can cause real problems.

So I do have legit reasons for wanting to correct this problem of mine. In this age of text messaging and ubiquitous
Internet, it might be a tad archaic to worry about the regular old telephone, but it concerns me.

And it doesn’t fit with the new image I am fashioning of myself where I am strong and independent and competent and all grown up. I will always face some troubles when it comes to dealing with reality simply from my physical problems, but there is no reason to take that to mean I suck at life and completely incompetent and will be forever the oldest and most helpless of tadpoles.

And if I am going to grow into this newer, bigger, better shell, I have to get rid of a lot of the petty bullshit in my mind. The stuff that has been holding me back for decades while I kept my head low and hid from reality.

I have nothing to be ashamed of. Depression had a hold on me for a long time, but that’s the past, which means it has passed. There is absolutely no reason the future has to be anything like the past. Every moment in time is a doorway to an infinity of possibilities, and if you don’t like where you are in life, MOVE, god dammit.

I’m getting good at this macho pep talks!

I will talk to you nice people again tomorrow.

Fru geeks out

Just finished watching an episode of that Hulk show I keep yammering on about, and I am stoked.

But to understand why, you will need some backstory. Luckily, I have lots of it to spare!

Way back when I was a teenaged nerd in the 1980’s in beautiful downtown Summerside, Prince Edward Island, I was heavily into comics. I spent a huge portion of my allowance on them, as well as all the magazines I read. They were a window into a more exciting and colorful world for a lonely teenager.

And it was all Marvel. I sneered at DC comics, considering them to be kiddie stuff. Tightassed, excessively perfect, watered down fit only for the sort of household where you get sent to your room for saying “darn”.

Certainly in no way fit for an intelligent, sophisticated person like myself, who read Vonnegut and Asimov and Bradbury, watched crime shows on TV, and was into serious heavy metal.

As opposed to that retarded hair metal crap. (Teenagers…. so judgmental!)

So I read a fair chunk of Marvel’s output at the time. Spider-Man, X-men, West Coast Avengers, Power Pack, X-factor, the New Mutants, Xcalibur (it was mutant mania back then), Avengers…. and probably more that I am forgetting. My room was stuffed to overflowing with comics and books. I read, therefore I was.

This was, of course, before the Internet.

So I was already quite well versed in the Marvel universe (the ORIGINAL one) when the greatest thing to ever happen to a nerd like me happened :

Marvel started putting out the Official Handbook Of The Marvel Universe.

This was an encyclopedia style comprehensive guide to all of the Marvel universe that existed at the time. Through it, I was able to acquire a vast and comprehensive knowledge of all things Marvel, and if you know geeks at all, you know that we love to learn more about the things we love.

So I was getting a power dose of that every single month. It was like I was reading every single comic!

In fact, it was even better than that, because I was learning the entire backstory of every character, organization, and confusing embodiment of an abstract concept out there. Granted, each entry was at most four comic pages long, so it was far from every single detail, but the sheer breadth of the knowledge lent it a form of depth once I began to have enough of the stuff in my head to start to cross-reference.

Eventually, I had the whole set, and that’s when the awesome really kicked in because by the time I finished the last one, the first one was old enough to me that I could read it again within feeling like I had “just read it”.

That’s one of the great things about high density content : it “freshens” so much faster.

So whenever I wasn’t reading new comics, I was rereading the OHOTMU. Reading it purely for enjoyment, I nevertheless built up an absolutely massive amount of Marvel knowledge, and what’s more, I retained it.

In fact, I retain most of it to this very day.

And it’s this vast knowledge that these recent shows like Hulk and the Agents of Smash, Ultimate Spider-Man, and Marvel’s Avengers Assemble, bring to the fore because these shows are obviously written by people with my kind of knowledge because all kinds of stuff from the Marvel mythos keeps showing up in them like gifts for a geek like me.

And the last episode of HATAOS I watched was extra bonus because it featured The Inhumans, a group I only know of from the OHOTMU and whom I always thought were very cool.

So finally getting to see them in something was exciting enough, but getting to see them animated and voiced nearly put me through the ceiling. Black Bolt! Medusa! Karnak! Triton! Lockjaw! Gorgon! And that sniveling dickwad Maximus.

Lockjaw is fascinating for many reasons. In fact, the fact that he has massive teleport powers is the least interesting thing about him. He is totally a member of the Inhuman Royal Family, which means he is definitely a blood relative to the rest of them.

And yet, he is a great big dog of questionable sentience.

And while many of us have had reason to question the sentience of our relatives, for the most part, in the vast majority of cases, are nor giant freaking dogs.

Karnak is cool because he has one of the coolest powers ever : the ability to sense where the weak spot is on anything and apply direct force via snake style kung fu to make said thing crumble.

Is that cool or what? Imagine how awesome it would be to be able to go up to some huge boulder, put your hands on it, then HAI YA the whole thing crumbles into pebbles.

It would be like being a combination of Bruce Lee and The Fonz, two of the coolest people from the 70’s.

But for character goodness, you have their king, Black Bolt, whose powers amplify the sound of his voice to such an extent that the one time he whispered something, it blew a big chunk out of the Moon.

How’s that for a tragic hero? He must rule, but he can never speak. He commands vast destrcutive power that he is too noble and pure to use. The slightest mistake could kill everyone around him. Everyone he loves.

And yet, instead of having his vocal cords removes and crawling into a bunker somewhere, he still does what he must do : leads the Inhumans via his wife Medusa.

How? Um, don’t ask. He apparently can whisper in her ear without vaporizing her head, which suggests he talks so incredible low that it doesn’t activate his powers, yet she can hear and understand him.

So anyhow, I love these Marvel series because practically every episode involves me “meeting old friends”. Even the villains, like that twit Sauron from the Savage Land, and Annihilus from the Negative Zone.

Excelsior, my friends. I will talk to you nice people again tomorrow.