21 March, 2016


So, like, it's the first day of Spring, or something, and I don't feel excited at all. I love the summer, but last year's was pretty crappy for a variety of reasons, and for once I feel like I'd rather it just stay cold and dark and I continue to lose myself in the bits and bytes of computer culture for another 12 months or so. My self-confidence seems to be taking a dip again after a notable years-long high, on account of being chipped away by gradual but relentless attacks on my rugged individuality. I feel almost like retreating back into the dark of my nocturnal period, shutting out the outside world altogether, to take some respite from the constant struggle to be one's self and not give in to all the conforming pressure to be a miserable piece of identical shit like everybody else.

I read in the Kinsey studies a couple years ago a lot of interesting things (most of them about human sexual behavior - but that's not what this post is about), and one of those was - related to differing attitudes between the social classes - how rare it is for people to actually move between social classes in America. Despite that being the American dream and all. The ideal, of course, is to move above your level - rags to riches, the Pursuit of Happyness and all that - but I've done the opposite (partly by choice, and partly by necessity). And the most insidious part of it all is that, despite the privilege I was born into, and everything my family has and continues to provide me with, I feel like I deserve to live a crappy life. Why? Because of a personality disorder that I don't even have control of. I'm smart, and I'm attractive, but I feel like my life is one huge wasted potential because, on account of the way my brain is wired, I'm unable to support myself financially or navigate the social landscape.

As a stupid but poignant example, take the simple fact that social interactions give me so much anxiety as to be not worth the effort. I know that people are likely to get the impression that I am "aloof" (I hate that word), or detached, or unconcerned with the minutiae of their daily lives, and thus conclude that I don't give a shit about them, when that could very well be far from the truth. But I don't have much confidence in telling, for example, my mother that I don't call her more often because I have a mental illness, and not because I don't think or care about her. I mean, what kind of consolation is that to her, anyway? Especially if she's just going to say, "oh, honey, you don't have to worry about any of that, I'm your mother!" (This is all hypothetical, by the way).

Of course, they could very well understand better than I realize, but it won't stop me from worrying and imagining the worst possible scenario (which is what anxiety does to you), and thus I figure that I deserve to live a crappy life because I'm a bad person - a bad friend, a bad family member, to put it in eerily appropriate song lyrics, "one poor correspondent". A parallel case could be made for the financial angle, as well - the prospect of attending a job interview ranks for me on the level of, say, amputation without anesthesia, and with my cynical views on capitalism and prostitution (of the non-sexual variety, I mean), it all builds up to a very un-employable profile (I'll be damned if I'm gonna let some hypocritical Wal-Mart survey judge my position on the philosophy of ethics). In spite of the fact that I have brain chemistry to blame, it doesn't change my feeling that I deserve to be poor and destitute because, as any insensitive prick taking one completely superficial glance at my life might complain, I'm "too lazy" to work for a living (which I desperately want to do - in theory).

But it doesn't mean I enjoy living in poverty. It sucks. Granted, there are few genuine pleasures I take in life, and most of those can be acquired sitting in front of a computer screen with internet access (although even some of those simple, harmless pleasures would be enough for the more zealous among us to call for my head, because I deserve nothing but to suffer all my life, for some reason) - of course, I say that because the more affluent hobbies (like boating, which I think I would rather enjoy) are completely beyond my means. There is also travel, of which I can only afford to do the meagrest portion - and even that is constantly in threat on account of the possibility of mechanical failure in the one remaining automobile my partner-in-crime and I share (doesn't help my self-esteem that I was responsible for wrecking a perfectly good car that would most likely have lasted us many years into the future, leaving us instead with some old refurbished jalopy that's compact-sized to boot).

And now there's this new threat of infestation forcing me into quarantine in the god-forsaken state of...well, you know. Travel is a lot more expensive when you're renting cars and staying in hotels (read: dive motels), and who has several hundred extra bucks lying around to blow on a weekend trip? I mean, when there could be something you need that money for even more just around the corner? Meanwhile, you occasionally gotta deal with intolerant and/or obnoxious house guests that you can't exactly kick out of your own living space because, well, they're related to your roommate... Ah, life is good. And there's so much to look forward to, too! Why the fuck would anybody want to bring kids into this kind of life? (And yet they're breeding - mindlessly following their instincts - at a far more rapid pace than those more reasonable creatures in the affluent suburbs). Maybe it's different if you've never known anything better, but damn. This is Homo sapiens? Where is the mother ship? Because I am ready to return to my home planet. As far as I'm concerned, you can nuke this one from orbit. It would be no great loss.

12 March, 2016

My First Memory

My roommate (slash effective "life partner") has a subscription to National Geographic (I find it humorously ironic that I'm the one with a physics degree, and she subscribes to magazines like Nat Geo and Popular Science, while I subscribe (occasionally) to magazines like Seventeen and Teen Vogue), and they periodically send out trip advisor catalogs. They're always fun to look through - I especially like the photography. I was never huge on geography as a school subject, but ever since I was a kid I've been fascinated with the natural (and to a lesser extent, man-made) wonders of the world. So it's neat to fantasize about taking trips to, e.g., the Amazon Rainforest, or the Saharan Desert, or the Himalayas. (It also serves as great inspiration fodder for some of the locations and terrains I want to include in that RPG I'm developing). People say, "quit making excuses and just get out there and travel," but it's not so simple to drop a few thousand bucks on a vacation when you're living paycheck to paycheck, and you don't even have enough money to buy a new used car when the one you have starts threatening to break down, despite the fact that you depend on that car for your income...

One of my own pictures from my family trip to Niagara Falls in 2001

But enough about that. I was looking through the most recent catalog, and found myself marveling at all the magnificent waterfalls on display - in particular, Victoria Falls in southern Africa, Blue Nile Falls in Ethiopia, and Iguazu Falls between Argentina and Brazil. Beside their natural splendor, the Niagara Falls (which I've actually been to) seem rather urbane in comparison. However, one must not take the magnificent splendor of the Niagara Falls for granted - they are still quite spectacular. So, I was looking through Google images at all these wonderful pictures of waterfalls (I recommend it!), and I eventually found myself hunting down the image in my head that's been haunting me for longer than I can remember - a representation of the mind's eye view of what I've come to believe was my first memory as an infant. I had assumed it was a dream for much of my childhood, until I revisited Niagara Falls in 2001 (while I was in high school), and learned that I had been there once before, as a baby.

This. This right here is my personal vision of Hell. Not fire and brimstone, but wind and water. Do you know what lies beyond the threshold of this howling, dripping orifice? Rushing water. Open space in effectively all directions (especially down). And certain death. Imagine the inevitability of approaching this gateway, knowing what lies beyond, and having no choice but to advance. (One is reminded of the sky cells of the Eyrie in George R. R. Martin's A Song of Ice and Fire, but with as much water as air. I've also been similarly haunted by the climax to The Neverending Story II, in which the main protagonist must overcome his fear of diving from the highboard. That's probably why that movie resonated so much with me - even more so than the excellent original movie, I had watched the sequel so many times that I could recite every line from start to finish).

Of course, nobody's actually pushing you forward. That's just a vision conjured by my self-destructive imagination. Did I mention that this was part of my first memory ever? I had originally believed it to be a dream, since I saw it in my head in third-person perspective (but that doesn't change the fact that this place really exists, and that I had been there before I had even known it). I was a baby, being carried in someone else's arms. There were people around me, and they were all wearing yellow ponchos. I remember the tunnel, and the opening, and coming out onto a sort of balcony, and seeing - well, this:

Literally, the world crashing down around me in a deafening roar of thunder. Is it any wonder that the defining emotion in my life is fear, and that I suffer from crippling anxiety? I mean, it would be a bit overly simplistic to blame my affliction on a single experience in my infancy - my own natural predilection for anxiety is probably as much to blame for my reaction to the falls as is their undeniably terrible majesty. But isn't it one hell of a coincidence, that the earliest memory I have from my life is an experience so absolutely earth-shattering? I might just as well have crawled out of the womb and opened my eyes to witness the Apocalypse! (Another subject, incidentally, that profoundly fascinates me).