23 December, 2011

Happy(?) Holidays

I bet you were starting to think you'd get off without a rant about capitalism this year. Well, I almost decided to let you off, but then I got to thinking about it. I'm not entirely opposed to the fundamental concept underpinning capitalism - that people trade work for leisure (or just survival). The problem, I think, is in the practical application of that system. The distribution of money (as a symbol of worth) isn't fair. Whether or not and how much money changes hands in any given transaction depends on fallible, and often greedy individuals. Plus, because it's a social institution, getting paid relies on social interactions, which places at a disadvantage those with social difficulties who might otherwise have great skills or talents (and especially in the arts, popularity is valued more highly than competence). Ideally, merit would be awarded justly and instantly by some kind of omniscient entity (a machine intelligence, perhaps?), so that people with their personal perspectives and subjective biases wouldn't have to serve as the middle man, whose job it is to oversee and then interpret the worth of a man's toil. Unfortunately, I have no idea how to implement this idea in practice (if it's even possible), but I will say that it is the basis for my appreciation of the old Marxist ideal that one should give according to his abilities, to provide for the needs of all.

On a lighter note, and in the spirit of consumerism (with reference to the dress, not the girl :p), I shall present you with a seasonal image, as I've been known to do on occasion. I had a hard time deciding whether to offer up a naughty girl or nice this year, but since I always seem to do naughty (well, "naughty" in an alluringly innocent sort of way), I thought it might be fitting to do nice for once:

I would totally wear an outfit like that on Xmas if I were a little girl.

24 November, 2011

Still Thankful

I hate to get all sappy, but this is a great opportunity to mention some of the things I appreciate in life. (Seeing as I spend so much time dwelling on the crap that life deals me).

I am still thankful for the internet. Sometimes I think it's a cursed blessing, as the internet keeps me at home and indoors. Occasionally I find myself wondering what I would do with myself if the internet didn't exist. How would I occupy my time? I'd probably sit in a chair and think for hours on end, like I used to do when I was younger, before the internet consumed my life. I might read more books. I might actually get out of the house more and have a stronger "rl" presence. That would be a good thing. But on the other hand, the internet provides me with no end of entertainment. But it also gives me an outlet to explore my interests, continue my studies despite not paying exorbitant tuition fees for someone else to decide what's important to my education, and it's given me an avenue to explore and develop both my writing and my photography skills - and possibly even begin to garner a (slow but growing) fanbase that could help me opportunity-wise in the future. So even were it a mixed blessing, there is no doubt of the blessing part, and that is what I am today focusing on. Oh, and did I mention the internet is filled with porn? ;-)

I am also still thankful for girls. And looking back at my thankful post from three years ago, this year I will stress my thankfulness for 3D girls. I am still intimidated by 3D girls, and there are still things that 2D girls can do that 3D girls cannot (at least not legally), but matched evenly, I have and will always prefer girls in the 3D. They bring so much brightness and inspiration to my life, that I can't imagine how dull my life would be without them. Well maybe I can, as so much of my life has been spent without them - and even now, they are not as close to me as I hope they will be in the future. But, as alluded to above, the internet is a fairly good coping mechanism in the meantime. Girls are just so wonderful. For what it's worth, the nature of my photography has put me into close proximity with the gay and trans cultures (although the upside of that is that it's made me incredibly more tolerant and open-minded, which is something I feel good about), but damn I can't tell you how much more fun and exciting thinking about sex is when girls (real, true girls) are involved. Girl power!

I can assure you that I am thankful for more than just three things, but I don't want to dwell on this topic forever, so I will stop at three. The third thing I am thankful for is the latest friend I have made. I don't want to get all mushy, but she's been such an awesomely wonderful person, and I have no doubt that she's done more for me than I can even articulate. She accepts me, even admires me, for who I am, and that gives me an enormous boost to my self-esteem (previously shattered by a heartless girl I adored, but who would barely give me the time of day, although I don't blame her for not being interested in me, even if I reserve the right to be bitter about it). We get along unprecedentedly well, and having her around to hang out with (even if it takes some measure of effort - more hers than mine - to do so) has made me a much happier person over the last couple years, even in spite of my continuing struggle against my own inner demons.

So thank you. :-)

01 November, 2011

I Wanna Be Where The Girls Are

"I Wanna Be Where The Boys Are" is a song by The Runaways (a band I've gushed about in the past), sung by Joan Jett on their Live In Japan album from 1977. I'm not sure why it doesn't turn up on one of the bands' studio albums, because not only is it one of their best songs, but it reflects rather well the image of the band. These were teenage girls up on stage playing ballsy rock music - something that only boys were supposed to do at the time.

And so the song could stand for girl power - the band's statement that "hey, we're girls, but we can rock just as hard as boys can". But it could also reflect an element of gender bending. "You call me a girl, but why can't I act like a boy?" Joan Jett hasn't exactly been afraid to project the masculine side of her image through the years. And in my recent exploration of my own feminine side, I find myself relating to that quite a bit.

I feel that partly, I am a girl, at least in the sense that I appreciate things that are often more associated with femininity than masculinity. I also like girls, and I have the desire to hang around with them, to engage in the sorts of activities they engage in (as opposed to the activities boys engage in, like competitive sports). Every time I see evidence of the gender segregation that is entrenched in society (restrooms, dormitories, and even social cliques), it bothers me, and I feel disappointed that I can't join the girls on their side of the partition, just because I'm officially considered to be male. The range of behaviors people expect of me don't necessarily conform to the range of behaviors I'd like to exhibit, and when those don't match there's conflict (either in my head, if I conform, or in the heads of others, as they are exposed to my cultural transgression).

But there's another element to it, and it's somewhat more conventional. Despite the concerns I have over my gender identity, my sexuality is pretty clear cut - I'm attracted to girls. I have a driving biological need to approach and pursue hot girls - not just any girls, but those who are especially sexually appetizing. But it's not just a physical desire, it's a desire that invades my psychology as well. When I'm not hanging out with hot girls, I feel like I'm in the wrong place. When I am made particularly aware that there are specific hot girls out there in specific places doing specific activities, I feel depressed that I'm not a part of it.

I cope with these feelings mostly by either distracting myself with other activities, or tricking my mind by spending time looking at pictures of girls on the internet. I avoid going out where crowds of people congregate because I know the hot, social, popular girls will be there. And though seeing them makes me feel good, not being able to hang out with them tears at my heartstrings. And in the moments when I do think about the girl action that I'm missing out on (not strictly limited to sex, though that's included in the assortment of activities I'd like to share with hot girls), the void feels particularly relevant. I may never be rich, I may never be famous, but there's something about my need to interact with hot girls (I blame the procreative impulse) that makes it seem like it's more important than life itself, and that I could never forgive myself if I wasted my life without pursuing that need.

I don't know if other people have the same feeling, but in the absence of contradicting evidence, I tend to assume that they do. It's a feeling that's been particularly strong growing up, as an asocial kid who was never really popular and had a lot of friends - but most importantly, never got to hang out with the hot girls, going to parties and making out and things like that. Knowing that I've missed out on that gives me the feeling of a hot knife jammed into my heart. It's a feeling that has plagued me especially throughout my adolescence (though it neither began nor ended there).

I guess most unpopular kids either get over it, or learn to distract themselves from it. I know there's a difference between making out with a hot girl, and finding someone who is a true companion. And they're often not to be found in the same person. Yet part of me can't help thinking that a lot of people who never get the hot girls are settling for their less-than-hot wives. I don't mean to sound shallow, because I do recognize the importance of companionship. Maybe some people don't have as strong a drive for hotness as I do, and they can live with having the better of the two prizes (hotness versus companionship). But I, I am not content with just the one.

It's like the whole Saturday Night Heist thing I've talked about in the past, except focused on that primal desire of sexual attraction, rather than the need to be cool and have a good time. It's related, I'm sure, because there is a whole social aspect when I think about where hot girls congregate and what they do. And it may even ultimately be an illusion as well. Something that exists only on the outside. I worry about that. That even had I the chance to hang out with a hot girl, she'd quickly become uninteresting once I possessed her, and I'd start pining for the other ones I didn't already have.

Is that just the nature of the male sexual drive? To conquer and move on? I don't know, but even if so, it doesn't mean that I can't satisfy that desire in a way that doesn't hurt and treat girls as pieces of meat - except insofar as those girls are dedicated to chaste, monogamous relationships. But I'm getting ahead of myself. I just want to go out, and actually be liked by the hot girls, flirt with them, and make out with a few, maybe score on occasion. It's the kind of thing that sounds bad for the people who want it, yet the guys who get it tend to be admired for it. But it's this really strong drive that I have.

I've always used to think that I didn't deserve to be with the hot girls because I wasn't cool enough or popular enough, or simply not social enough. That I was the kind of guy that the hot girls didn't like as much, and wouldn't waste their time on. So my desire for hot girls had always been this thing that I could never have, no matter how badly I needed it. And the feeling has dogged me for a long time. I'm wondering now, though, that maybe the one thing that was stopping me the most, was myself. My lack of confidence, my fear, my anxiety. I hid, because I was afraid to be judged. I essentially prejudged myself, and didn't even give others a chance to judge me - even if it were the case that they would judge me poorly. But what if they judged me favorably? In that case, how much could I accomplish? Could I actually acquire the things I want most, that I never believed I'd actually have the chance to have? And how can I know if I don't try?

I wish change was as easy as realization, but habits die hard. Do you know hard it is to combat fear? To change - by sheer force of will - the way your mind has worked for your entire life? Especially when you don't even have any certainty a) that it will work, and b) that if it does work, it will get you what you want, after all. Even more so when you know that the process of change is extremely painful.

But I guess, as Einstein once said, it is foolish to expect different results from the same actions. Unless I change what I put into the equation, I'll never see a change in what comes out. And maybe what will come out will be bad, but it could be good - very good. I've even seen some evidence of that. So it comes down to taking a risk. The kind of thing I don't like to do. But I've gotta change the kind of person I am, somehow. There's a lot I like about me, but the most important things - it feels like there's a fundamental disquiet in the core of my being. As much as I have that I love, it's like there's something in there that I don't have, and it's important enough for me to sacrifice everything.

At least I hope it is. Because being willing to sacrifice everything for it is the only way to have the strength to grab for it and find out. God, I just wish I wasn't so afraid of things, things that don't even happen. I don't know where that fear came from. But it has to go away. I let fear keep me from the things I want in life. I know that fear is irrational. So I have to stop letting it get in the way between me and what I want.

And girls are the most scary - and most desirable - thing in all the world. I have to have them, but the only way to get them is to get over my fear.

31 October, 2011

The Rocky Horror Picture Show

It was Halloween weekend. The Saturday before Halloween. The weather was far from inviting - I awoke that morning to the first snowfall of the season. And though it melted to nothing before the day was done, it was a fairly substantial snowfall, given that it was still October. Not a very promising omen, given that my costume for the evening consisted of what amounted to a very skimpy swimsuit.

Fast forward to an hour before midnight. I slipped on my tight gold shorts and put on a long black gothic dress over top. I put on my coat and flip flops, and headed out to the car. One thing I hadn't planned for was the freezing fog that had descended, coating the car in a thick layer of frozen ice. I tell you, it was the kind of fog you see in movies, with tangible wisps flowing through the air, and visible steam heat ushering from manholes along the street. After a good bit of scraping and shivering, the two of us - my friend and I - got the car started and headed off to the historic, and recently restored Hollywood Theater for the Halloween weekend midnight showing of The Rocky Horror Picture Show.

Not to sound overly dramatic, but there are two kinds of people in this world - those who have experienced the phenomenon that is the Rocky Horror Picture Show, and those who have not. Prior to last night, I had not. In fact, I hadn't even seen the movie itself, though I haven't been unaware of its enthusiastic cult following. And since I now have a friend who's a huge fan of the movie, and a newly developed interest in wearing outrageous outfits/costumes in public, we decided it would be a great idea to catch a showing over Halloween weekend, featuring a live shadow cast.

We made it to the theater just before midnight, and outside, two members of the shadow cast were marking virgins (first timers) with a big ol' "V" on the forehead. I had anticipated something like this - given the enthusiastic cult following and elaborate, audience participation-oriented nature of the show, you just know they'll have a hazing ritual of some sort for the uninitiated. What I hadn't anticipated was being marked out especially by one of the cast members, who took me to be her "twin" (I think because we had similar hair/dress).

Once inside, my friend and I picked out a couple of empty seats towards the back (it was a full - and lively - crowd). Before long, the show was underway, with some pre-screening festivities, including a reading of "the rules" (which basically amount to: respect the theater, respect the shadow cast, but above all, have fun), and the much-feared hazing of the virgins. When the cast asked all the virgins (and there were quite a few) to come up to the stage in the front of the theater, I was understandably hesitant. But, I had just whipped off my black dress in one deft motion, and I was thinking, it would be a shame to come to this show in my gold shorts only to sit in the back and not give anyone a chance to see me in them. So, against my better instincts, I went up to the front of the stage to stand among the throng of Rocky Horror virgins.

I was instantly spotted by my "twin" among the cast members, and she was further delighted to see me dressed as Rocky, convincing her that I truly was her twin, because, I assume, she was the one playing Rocky in the cast that night. So when the time came (after a hearty group spanking by the cast) for the cast members to select three guys and three girls from among the virgins, I was quickly shuffled up to the front of the group, with two other guys. Three girls followed, all of them hot and dressed in sexy outfits that resembled lingerie. We then paired up into three mixed couples, to be subjected to a short series of contests that were potentially embarrassing, but turned out to be immensely enjoyable.

I was, of course, nervous out of my mind, but when one of the cast members handed each of the three participating virgin couples a marshmallow impaled on a rope of Twizzler, I was delighted to discover what the first contest would be. If you haven't guessed, it was a race. Each couple had to start eating from opposite ends of the Twizzler rope, munching toward the marshmallow in the center where, inevitably, their lips would meet. The slowest couple who took the longest to get their marshmallow was disqualified. The genius of this contest, particularly in view of what would shortly need to be done for the second round, was that your motivation to get to the marshmallow was increased by your attraction to the person on the other end of the Twizzler rope. Maybe it was just an enthusiasm for winning, but the girl at the other end of my Twizzler rope wasted no time in getting to that marshmallow, and I wasn't far behind.

Needless to say, we moved on to the second round, in which we were required to fake an orgasm. I was totally mortified when I heard that - because please, what could be more embarrassing? Furthermore - and this is almost certainly tmi, though not surprising if you know me - I'm really quiet when I have an orgasm. But of course, we had to put on a good show for the crowd. And there was hardly any time to think about it - the two remaining couples were to perform separately, and we were first. I'll tell you what, when the commentator urged us on, the girl I was paired up with went at it with total abandon, and I just did all I could to hold up my end. Before I knew it - and much of this went by in a flash - she was slapping my ass and I was digging my hands into hers as we both moaned in faux ecstasy. I screamed in delight, and she pushed me back and started grinding me up against a wall, before finally "collapsing" to the floor at the end of it all, to a cheering audience. I tell you, it was fantastic fun.

Then the other virgin couple had their chance. They were good, but I had a sense that they didn't "want it" (the prize, if not each other ;-) as badly as we had. When the audience was asked to vote with their applause, the verdict was clear. We won the contest! The hot girl I had been paired with was more popular and thus got the first prize (which she totally deserved), leaving me with the second prize - the leftover Twizzlers and marshmallows, and a Marijuana home drug test. But for me, the real prize was getting to practically make out with a hot girl in lingerie up in front of a crowd, wearing next to nothing at all. I retreated back to my seat with lipstick all over my face, and sat down to watch the movie, shaking with nerves and giddy with excitement. I may have been fearing the virgin hazing, but it turned out to be the experience that completely made my night, and turned it into a memory worth cherishing.

After all that, the rest of the show couldn't possibly compete. It was impossible to even understand the movie over all the shouting that was going on - which means I'll have to sit down and watch it in the quiet atmosphere of my home sometime - but of course, that's no less than I was expecting, and it was very exciting to be a part of that atmosphere. Toast was thrown, jokes were made, and toilet paper soared through the air above our heads. Most of all, it was a lot of fun to watch the shadow cast up on the stage in front of the screen, miming the action as it appeared on screen. "Rocky" did an amazing job - I have to admit, I was tickled pink that his character was being played by a girl - a girl in a very skimpy gold bikini, who wore it with the complete confidence that few girls in her position would have had - and that really makes a difference. It also made the scene where (s)he fondles Janet that much more interesting. I give much love and respect to my shadow cast "twin" for that evening.

After the show, my friend and I departed, had a snack at an all-night diner around the corner, and proceeded home. I had a blast, and would be willing to go again. Clearly, the chances of repeating the fun I had the first time are slim to none - after all, you're only a virgin once, and I was working against my odds even then - but I'd go just for the opportunity to wear my gold shorts again. Alternatively, I think it would be fun to dress like Frank, in the whole lingerie/fishnet stockings/heels get-up. I may have to pass on the hair and make-up (which I'm sorry, looks pretty hideous), but I'd look good in that outfit without it. =3

17 October, 2011


It occurs to me that my posting on this blog has slowed to a crawl. Looking back, I get the sense that my previous need to post a personal blog was largely a result of my loneliness. I had noone to talk to, but I had thoughts and feelings that I felt a need to communicate, so I decided to communicate them to the internet. I guess that's why some people turn their nose at people like that who talk about personal issues on the internet. They either don't have a need to communicate those things, or else they have people in their life they can communicate them to, and look down on those who don't "have any friends". As it turns out now, I have the sort of friend that I can actually talk about my feelings with (not usually as popular - and in my case not as comfortable - among 'the guys'), so I feel that maybe I don't have a need to vent on the internet as much.

It's interesting, though, to consider my need to communicate, given that I'm so guarded in real life. I do really want to share my life and my experiences with people, I guess I just have my own problems with the social interface that makes it extremely difficult for me to do it that way. I also like to complain that my interests are often unusual, if not controversial, and I fear how people would judge me. In reality, I suspect that people might just think that much more of me, when they learn what an interesting person I am. Still, when I see something like this, and think to myself 'oh my god, that's awesome, I have to share it with people', I'm at a loss as to who or why anyone else would be able to appreciate my enthusiasm.

As far as blog posting goes, my efforts have been concentrated on my two other blogs lately. There is The Screaming Axe, where I now post all my reviews, as well as any horror and music-related posts. And then there is Truth & Beauty, where I talk about issues related to my photography - specifically, issues regarding my independent sexological studies. That blog is also illustrated with my erotic photography, and is therefore "not safe for work".

As for this blog, I started it under the title A NEET Life, as a means to document my pathetic existence as a recluse. Then I started fighting back against my crippling social anxiety, and renamed the blog Bridge To Better Days, reflecting the gradual (projected) improvement in my life quality. But it's a long and hard struggle, and frankly, as proud as I seemed to be to announce my reclusive lifestyle to the world, I feel kind of self-conscious about talking about how hard I'm struggling to do the sorts of social things that 99% of the population does effortlessly and takes for granted, and the extreme difficulty I'm having in fitting in to the expected mode of living. Maybe I should rant and vent my frustration here more often, for posterity. Because it really pisses me off sometimes. But I'm trying to be positive, and the best way to do that is not to think about it too much (which is something I tend to do by nature, and is a habit I perhaps need to stop).

And I guess, you know, that last part really says it all.

26 July, 2011

Channeling the Cherry Bomb

Some people might wonder why I don't go out and interact with the world more, why I'm not more proactive in supporting my community, or why I don't have a strong motivation to be a productive member of society. But the reason is simple. The world is filled with squares and people who judge you even as they smile and shake your hand. I don't want to be the target of scrutiny and suspicion just because I'm bizarre and unique. I don't want people to be afraid of or disturbed by me because I don't behave, socially, like everyone else does.

And I know that while some part of that is the fact that I am different, and stuck in a world that thrives on conformity, there is also a part which is just me being insecure about myself and over-anxious of what others might be thinking. There are things I want to do, that I don't feel content not doing, yet don't feel comfortable doing, either. I must choose between being incontent or uncomfortable. Do people really care if I dress or act in unusual ways? I don't know, but it makes me feel very conspicuous; I can sense that I don't fit in. Or at the very least, that I draw attention - and attention makes me uncomfortable.

I wish I could just trap myself inside my own mind and do what I want without thinking at all about what anyone else might think, do, or say as a result. But it's rather ironic, that although I am incredibly introverted, I am incapable of blocking out my concern with what others are thinking. And I know the emphasis is more on my fear of what other people might think than on what any other person is actually thinking, which suggests that the problem really does still lie in my own head. Am I really concerned with what other people are thinking, or am I afraid to accept myself the way I am? Yet, it can't be that simple, because I can do things without thinking twice when I am alone, that make me uncomfortable while in the presence of others. The problem is in my own mind, but it is intimately related to (and dependent upon) the existence of other minds. It's as if I want to control the way other people think - about me. To force them to think nothing but positive thoughts about me.

Ultimately, I think I'm just afraid of somebody confronting me or contradicting me. I mean, most of the time that doesn't happen - most people are passive about things they don't like that aren't directly threatening them. But what would I do if that did happen? I could try to leave the situation, or end up getting beaten up, I suppose. On second thought, that's not the thing that bothers me the most. It's the idea of me sitting in a room, and causing other people to be uncomfortable, but not able to address the issue. I know what it's like to feel that way: to be uncomfortable, and feel like you don't have the power to speak up and change the thing that's bothering you - if for no other reason than in polite deference to the rights and freedoms of another's individual expression.

I'd rather be told I'm making someone uncomfortable so I can leave, or change my behavior, to stop making them uncomfortable, rather than sit there and keep bothering them because I don't know one way or another. Yet neither do I feel comfortable asking them outright - and besides, if they weren't bothered, they might begin to become bothered if I keep asking them out of the blue if I'm bothering them. Where to draw the line, and how to stop myself from worrying when I haven't even crossed that line? On the other hand, rationally speaking, it's their responsibility for letting me continue to bother them if they choose not to make it clear that I am bothering them. It's not my responsibility to ensure beyond a reasonable doubt that other people in my vicinity are comfortable. I have no ethical obligation to be liked or respected.

I don't want to make people feel uncomfortable, but being myself means embracing things - attitudes, beliefs, and behaviors - that I know have a potential to make others uncomfortable. How do I deal with that? Do I have to choose between living with the fact that I make others uncomfortable, or holing myself up in a cave, isolated from the rest of the world? Is there no other choice? That is, other than stifling the expression of my individual personality when I go out into the world, which I already do quite a bit of, and am not happy with? How do I learn to become comfortable being the odd one out, the one who challenges others' beliefs and values, the one who freaks out squares?

Actually, this is a theme that was touched on in Cherie Currie's memoir, when she adopted the Cherry Bomb persona, opening herself up to ridicule from her classmates for her new and outrageous visual and behavioral persona. She came to accept that her ability to bother other people, and make them feel insecure about her unconventional existence, was proof of her power, the power of her image. And she used that strength to front an aggressive, in-your-face rock n roll band. But to think of myself doing the same is really difficult. Can I be like that? As a shy, highly sensitive individual, do I have it in me? Is there any other choice?

History records those who have the courage to stand out from the crowd.

Addendum: When something is bothering me, I'm afraid to speak up. Perhaps I am projecting that onto other people. Maybe I want to avoid bothering people in any way possible, because I assume they won't be able to speak up either, and I don't want to subject them to the uncomfortability (and powerlessness) I frequently feel. Yet most people aren't like that. And most people aren't as sensitive as I am. They aren't as bothered by things as I am, and they aren't as powerless to affect the things that do bother them.

Maybe my feeling of powerlessness comes from when I was younger. My older brother would do things that annoyed me immensely, and no matter how I complained, or fought him, I couldn't stop him from doing those things. Nothing I did could make me control his behavior. Perhaps I was traumatized by being so profoundly annoyed, that I internalized a desire to avoid ever annoying someone else. And maybe I have subconsciously projected my own inability to affect my brother's behavior on other people, leading me to believe that if other people do get bothered, they are incapable of stopping the bothersome behavior - which is why I feel it's my responsibility to be cognizant of their feelings (despite this being impossible without their consulting me) so as to avoid ever doing anything to bother them in the first place - because they wouldn't be able to stop it, and they would feel as stuck and annoyed as I did when I was young, fighting with my brother.

But I am not my brother. I am not as stubborn (though I can be stubborn in some ways), and do not have a bullying nature. I am sensitive, not only to my feelings, but to the feelings of others. If somebody tells me I am bothering them, I am going to try to stop bothering them. So I really need not feel guilty about doing anything that might bother someone. I'm not doing it to annoy anyone, and I'll stop if asked. So I should at the very least be allowed to give it a try, in the case that it doesn't bother anyone. After all, most people aren't as easily bothered as I am.

I recall a time in the lower grades of elementary school when a kid screamed at me for bothering him by sniffling my nose a lot. The kid was like, "god, stop sniffling, you're driving me nuts, just go grab a tissue and blow your nose already." I didn't learn how to blow my nose until I was like 15, and even then, I didn't like it because it's messy. But I can see how a traumatic incident like that would reinforce my fear of bothering people with the smallest things, leading me to feel insecure and unconfident. Considering how sensitive I am to ridicule, and being the cause of other people's negative feelings.

Let's see, twenty years of debilitating anxiety - have I done my penance for causing various people minor small annoyances throughout my life? I think from now on, I'm gonna have to weigh anything I might do to bother another person against the many years of crippling fear and anxiety I've suffered. If some guy is uncomfortable for a few moments, then to hell with him. I've suffered my share already.

08 July, 2011

The God Concept

"God is a concept." - John Lennon

I think my God concept is changing. And I think that's an important sign.

I still don't believe in God objectively, but I maintain that God is a powerful construct of human conception. I sometimes mention God as if he were real, or as if I believed in him, but what I'm talking about is the psychological concept of God - which is tied to a person's search for meaning and purpose in life; and that's important regardless of whether or not there is a bearded man hiding in the clouds. I still think people are misguided for externalizing that concept, projecting it onto some all-powerful cosmic being who demands blind allegiance, but as far as I am concerned, listening to your heart and talking to God are one and the same thing.

For a long time I've had an adversarial relationship with God, believing (superficially, since I don't actually believe in God) that he causes me suffering for the sake of his own sadistic pleasure. Now, if God existed in the form that many religious nuts claim, and if he had the power often attributed to him, then he would have to be a sadistic bastard on account of the suffering he causes, and his lack of concern for, at the very least, sticking his face in and reassuring us all, personally, that things will work out. The God that is commonly meant when that term is invoked can be nothing but, and all this hogwash about omnipotence and benevolence is nothing but horseshit. And that's what I mean when I say that God is a sadist, and that he's working against me to make my life miserable.

But the God concept that I truly believe in isn't a God at all. It's a part of myself. It's my heart. It isn't omnipotent, and it doesn't have the power to influence anyone but myself. I've spent a long time thinking of myself as a helpless victim of cosmic forces outside my control, which is really just an extension of me feeling powerless to help myself. I used to think that God had cursed me with anxiety as a sort of leash, to rein me in, and prevent me from accomplishing anything meaningful in life (because he was against me, and therefore against my goals and principles). Now I have a new hypothesis. That God gave me anxiety as a sort of test, knowing that if I could find the strength to overcome it, then and only then would I have the strength to accomplish the truly great things in life that I am destined to accomplish.

This change in perspective represents a change from looking for God without, to looking for God within. And that is to say - not God at all, but my heart. Listening to my heart. Asking it what it wants. And learning what makes it happy. I was bitter because God had never spoken to me personally, and the reason for that is because God's not out there to do any speaking. But my heart was talking to me, and when I followed it, I discovered there was something in this world, a force powerful enough to give me a driving purpose, and a presence warm enough to soothe my pain. And it turns out that much of the world is against me. Which is why I need great strength to pursue my goals. Because it's not going to be an easy ride. Not that the ride has been smooth so far. But there might finally be something out there worth struggling for. I feel like David standing up to Goliath, and the most likely outcome for me is disaster. But I've still got to fight, and I've got to believe that somehow I can win.

And I hate to sound like one of those religious nuts, because I'm not, and it would make me a hypocrite considering everything I've said about religious nuts in the past. But the critical thing is that, I believe, God is a personal force. As I said, it's your heart. Which means it will appear in different forms to different people. Unfortunately, when somebody says God these days, the first thing you think of is the guy who flooded the Earth and rained fire on the Sodomites, and beat and killed his own son. But that's just one interpretation, and it's far from the best. In my mind, God is a forest meadow filled with frolicking naked faeries. In your mind, it should be something completely different - whatever is most important to you. And finding strength in God means finding what gives you strength, what form God takes, for you. It doesn't mean pledging allegiance to an imaginary superhero that somebody else thought up.

And also, another thing you should remember is that God is not just one force that appears in different forms to different people. Every person is their own unique, independent God. No God has any power over any other God (after all, God is just a psychological concept, not a cosmic being), so don't go thinking you have the jurisdiction to dictate how another person lives, or what they believe. Your freedom to follow your own personal, individual God can be upheld only so long as you grant that freedom to everyone else. The moment you violate someone else's right to their personal God, you've given up the right to your own. And if I'm wrong, and there is an objective God, then he has only to show himself. But I'd be a fool to hold my breath. And so would you.

27 June, 2011

Voyeurism and Invisibility...and more

Note: Usually voyeurism is a topic I reserve for my other blog, Truth & Beauty, where I discuss sexuality in a philosophical context (illustrated with pictures I've taken of myself naked). But this time, the issue was intricately related to my anxiety, and the progress of my battle against it - a rather more personal issue that I like to reserve for this blog. Hence I post it here:

Just for the sake of today's argument, let's say that voyeurism is watching a person (or persons) who hasn't expressed a clear desire to be watched. If the person wants to be watched, then that's exhibitionism, even if the person(s) watching is getting something out of it. Also, for the sake of this, and often other, arguments, when I use the terms 'voyeurism' and 'exhibitionism', I'm not talking strictly about activities whose purpose is sexual stimulation, but any activity where a person makes a specific effort to watch or be watched, regardless of the nature of their motivation.

Voyeurism is often misunderstood. I suppose that's because we are a social species, and we interpret approach as standard protocol, whereas standing back and watching is abnormal behavior. That's unfortunate for those of us, like myself, who are wired to be less social and more voyeuristic. I like watching people, and in fact, my affinity for the activity is on the level that I tend to do it instinctively, and even out of pure curiosity, rather than a particular interest in what I might be watching (although an interesting target always leads to greater attention focused on it). But because voyeurs are interpreted as being 'creepy' ("What is he looking at? If he's interested in me, why doesn't he just come up and say hi? What's wrong with him?"), I have often expressed a desire to be invisible.

Because, true voyeurism isn't about the voyeur. Once a target is aware of being watched, it becomes more like exhibitionism - even if it happens to be non-consensual exhibitionism. Participating in voyeurism is about watching people do what they normally do, when they're not being watched. So drawing attention to the watching has a tendency to interrupt that - particularly if the target intentionally changes their behavior after becoming aware that they are being watched.

Furthermore, most people don't like to be watched intently. It makes them uncomfortable - even in public, where it's understood that anything they do could be witnessed by a complete stranger. Being seen by someone in this or that instant is acceptable, but being watched specifically, for an extended period of time, that tends to invoke reactionary behavior. All of this is understandable. If someone is watching you, you wonder what their interest is. It's true that some watchers, and watchers sometimes, have an invested interest in their target - although even then, it might be an entirely harmless interest. But in a lot of cases, it's just a matter of having a curiosity - therefore, if I could be invisible, I could do a lot more watching, without upsetting or alarming the people I watch.

In fact, I have gone a step further in the past, by saying that I would accept the incapacity of being a total ghost - not being able to interact physically with the world at all - in order to engage in my voyeurism. That way, I could follow a target around and watch them in places I wouldn't normally have access to, and they would have no idea of my presence - all of this at the price of not being capable of interacting with them in any meaningful way, just to prove that my voyeuristic interest is purely one of curiosity, and that I have no intention of interfering, in any way, in their life.

For the sake of pure voyeurism, this would really be ideal, I think. But, at least in my case, voyeurism isn't always the goal in and of itself; sometimes it's a substitute for actually interacting with a person I am interested in. And the reason I don't interact with them is because, unlike most people, that's a skill I'm not very good at. See, I'm just more comfortable sitting back and watching someone, than putting myself on the line and getting involved with their world. That's where the 'ghosting' comes back into play. Regarding a person I am specifically interested in, I wonder if I would be content to just watch. If avoiding the pressure and the embarrassment, and the potential failure, of approaching and interacting with them was worth the sacrifice of actually being a part of their world.

Of course, If I could be a part of their world, I don't think the sacrifice would be worth it. So I suspect that sit-back-and-watch approach is nothing more than a way to avoid taking a risk. It's sad, but I really am terrified of taking these kinds of social risks. And despite how invisible I try to make myself when I put on my voyeur's cap, it's not so far-fetched to believe that I may be making some people uncomfortable - the very people I want most to like me, not to be afraid of me. I suspect that it's happened in at least one important case in the past, and I regret that, even though it seems that my ultimate failure would have been inevitable regardless. I don't like that this part of me - and it really feels more like a part of the way I function, than simply a bad habit I could break - can make people uncomfortable, and I wish they could understand that I don't mean it that way, and furthermore that I don't have any sinister intentions in mind because I'm behaving in this way.

So on the one hand, I don't think there's any way I can make myself stop being curious, and stop being the type who likes to sit back and watch people. But the other side of it is that I think it may be possible to cultivate a more socially appropriate behavioral pattern which essentially involves overcoming my fears and actually acquiring the ability to approach people and introduce myself, and if allowed, give them a chance to actually get to know me and be reassured that my intentions are friendly and pure. Of course, when I say "possible" I mean "extremely difficult", but I guess it just really means a lot to me. Because in sitting back to watch, I feel like I'm missing out on a lot in life. From my current perspective, making that change seems about as likely as being able to wring blood from a stone (an apt analogy, given that success depends on making myself do things that are extremely painful - likely to draw blood, in a figurative sense). But even though I can't seem to do as much as get my feet to move, I'm really motivated to try to find some way to do it.

And I guess you'd have to wonder what kind of motivation could be that strong, especially if you know how stubborn my problems are. And the really wild thing is that if I told you, you might be inclined to stop me and keep me in my psychological cage, where I am being constantly tortured. But then, you'd have to respect something that has the strength (I can hope) to pull me out of the seemingly bottomless pit fate has tossed me into. That's really the funny thing. It's like I'm challenging you to accept me. To trade an egodystonic condition for an egosyntonic one. I'll agree to rid myself of my problems if you'll agree to accept my eccentricities. I can't really stop you from hating me, but maybe it's better, in the long run, than hating myself. Even, I suppose, if the unjust but inevitable result were exchanging my psychological cage for a physical one. Perhaps you can see how my success depends desperately on giving people a chance to get to know me, to reveal their misconceptions, to see that I am not dangerous in any way.

18 June, 2011

Acoustic Set

In anticipation of potential opportunities to practice or play guitar over the next few months out in the nice summer weather where there's no electricity, I've taken up my acoustic guitar lately (a rare occurrence) to polish up some of my better acoustic songs. Unfortunately, due to a current lack of transportation abilities (I'm working on my teleportation skills), I've had to cease going to local open stages for the time being. But it hasn't stopped me from continuing to practice and learn new songs.

Anyway, here's the current "acoustic set" I have worked out on my acoustic guitar. Some of these numbers sound especially good acoustically (like the few instrumentals), others are just my best attempt at picking out the songs I know that work best in acoustic form (more emphasis on chords, and less on solos, which are unfortunately very hard to play on my acoustic guitar). Some of them are songs I don't even play very often (or at all) electrically, mostly because they just sound better acoustic.

Lynyrd Skynyrd - Simple Man
The Rolling Stones - Angie
Neil Young - Powderfinger
Neil Young - Down By The River
Neil Young - Dead Man Theme
Neil Young - Cortez the Killer
Neil Young - Cowgirl in the Sand
Tom Petty - Good Enough
Tom Petty - Mary Jane's Last Dance
Ten Years After - I'd Love To Change The World
Pink Floyd - Is There Anybody Out There?
Fleetwood Mac - Jumping At Shadows
Fleetwood Mac - Man of the World
Fleetwood Mac - The World Keep On Turning

03 June, 2011

Fanning Fashion (Continued)

I do believe this will finish it off - but don't tempt me, because I could go on. :p

I know this is going to sound weird, but I melt for Dakota's collar bones.

^Even casually dressed, Dakota still knocks me out. Love those 'pocket' shorts.

Don't forget to check out my Dakota-themed movie reviews over on The Screaming Axe!

02 June, 2011

Fanning Fashion

You didn't think I was finished, did you? Dakota Fanning has worn so many beautiful outfits at premieres and award ceremonies and the like that I had to make a separate post specifically for them! We'll have to start by de-aging Dakota once again:

^By the way, meet Elle - Dakota's also-pretty, also-talented little sister.

^I don't know what it is, but I am just totally in love with this green dress. It looks like wrapping paper, and it's not even the prettiest dress Dakota has ever worn, but there's just something about it. Maybe the fact that it's so unashamedly green.

^Ok, this is what she actually wore in Push, but I loved her style in that movie.

Click here for the Fanning fashion finish!

01 June, 2011

Ode to Dakota (Continued)

More of the gorgeousness that is Dakota Fanning! Here, she is a little bit older. I think it's fascinating, being able to watch Dakota grow up in pictures and her films. Some people are uncomfortable contextualizing an actress like Dakota as a child, and then having to deal with the fact that she's growing up and becoming an adult. Frankly, that's the natural process of life, and it doesn't bother me having to reconcile her evolution from a cute child into an attractive adult. There is no hard line of transformation, only a gradual continuum.

^This is one of my top favorites - and, you may have noticed, my current desktop background.

^This is just one shot from a photographer named Tierney Gearon's shoot of Dakota Fanning. I actually like all of the shots from that shoot - they have more of an artsy, rather than a fashiony or portraity, feeling to them, compared to all these others.

But wait, there's more?