17 May, 2022

Cat Demons

I'm glad I'm not superstitious, because there's nothing quite like waking up in the middle of the night to the sound of cats in heat to convince you that demons are real and they stalk the earth looking for victims to torment and devour while most people are asleep.

They sound like children screaming in pain, yet... wrong, like a Cronenberg'ed facsimile. I swear one of them was repeatedly making a noise that sounded like a subhuman bastardization of the words "I love you", almost like it was using it as a lure - although who in their right mind would fall for that?

I'm pretty sure I wasn't dreaming or hallucinating, because I remember deliberately kicking the wall next to my bed, hoping the sound would cause them to disburse. And I think it worked, because the sound got further away before it stopped altogether. Or, maybe they were just pulled back to Hell.

Sometimes, religious people think others are tortured by demons because they're not religious. But what if the reason they're not religious is because they're tortured by demons? Nobody is born damned. But how many times do your prayers have to go unanswered before you give up? The truth is, there is no God, and those who are able to believe in one are privileged (which is not to say that they don't know suffering) - and it makes it impossible for them to understand somebody in a different position.

Ironically, the existence of demons doesn't make me believe in God. It only convinces me that there is no God. Because here are the demons, but where is God? That's why people who believe are privileged. They're loved by God. But they're also deluded, because they think everyone is loved the same as they are. But they're not. (In reality, it's just the luck of the draw).

"Happy people are incorrigible. Destiny does not punish them for their sins, and they consequently think themselves innocent."

27 April, 2022

Self-Worth

Pride has thus far prevented me from internalizing my own self-identity as a person who is mentally handicapped. But I wonder if I wouldn't feel so much better about what I have, and less worse about what I don't, if I started thinking of myself as a high-functioning handicapped person, instead of a failure of a human being. I didn't fail at life - in fact I've done pretty well within my limitations, even if it's not up to the standards I've set for myself - I just came out broken, that's all.

And every point I have in my favor - my intelligence, my appearance, my upbringing - undermines my ability to visualize myself as disadvantaged. Yet, the fact that I've had so much going for me, and yet still struggle to perform some of the most basic tasks - even when I want desperately to perform them (which is to say that I am not simply lazy) - is more evidence that there is truly something seriously broken within me.

I've admitted that fact, to myself and to others - which was itself a long process. But I think that I still need to come to terms with it, to truly accept it. I lament that I didn't get help when I was younger, and I realize that that's a way for me to displace my fear of getting help even now. Because the only thing more terrifying to me than the thought of living the rest of my life the way I am, is the thought of what I'll have to do to get better. Especially doubtful as I am that the effort would even bear fruit. Why torture myself for a shot in the dark? But that rationalization is part of my illness, too.

09 February, 2021

Subtraction by Addition

I know affirmation has real psychological value, but I'm a realist, and it's really just a well-intentioned form of lying to one's self. I've never believed the adage, "what doesn't kill you makes you stronger." I appreciate the sentiment behind it (wisdom DOES often come from experience - although there are wise children and idiot adults), and maybe people's bodies are different. But I'm not a saiyajin, and the way I see it, life is collecting scars until your body eventually shuts down from organ failure. What doesn't kill me makes me weaker, because it takes one more piece out of me. In terms of physical fitness, somehow the belief was instilled in me that the way to get stronger was to push yourself past your limits. The only thing that's ever happened to me when I've pushed myself past my limits is that I've gotten hurt. One time it even landed me in the hospital. And no, the experience doesn't make me stronger, because now I have the added anxiety of possibly having a heart condition that might (I know this is hypothetical, but it still weighs on my mind) lead me to a premature death via stroke (or so a doctor once so considerately warned me). And all the concerns are just going to grow as I continue to get older, and my body continues to get weaker. I'm not whining because life is tough - I understand that part. What annoys me is the way people try and sell you platitudes that are outright lies. "Listen to your body" is much better advice than "no pain, no gain."

20 December, 2020

Anxiety Mosquitos

Growing up, I was the quiet kid. Still am, in fact. I've learned how to express myself when I feel sufficiently motivated only after decades of life experience. But I'm still more likely to do it in the impersonal forum of social media than in real life. And although I overanalyze my words before posting them, I am always racked with shame and self-doubt after the fact. And I still can't decide whether my fears are founded - that maybe I have a rude and argumentative personality, and that I'm better off keeping my mouth shut, and that maybe that's why God cursed me with anxiety in the first place - or if it's just my social anxiety talking. Because I know the value of speaking up, from years of experience not being able to. And I want my voice to be counted among the others (many of which are not half as worthwhile as mine would be even if my worst fears were founded, yet nothing shuts them up because they don't have anxiety or very much self-awareness). I know it deserves to be. I try not to be rude, but I am sensitive - far more than I like. And if I'm argumentative, it's because I see the many ways this world is designed to cause people to suffer, and I want it to change, and sometimes it's the people themselves that are contributing to the propagation of their own suffering (or carelessly hurting others to make themselves feel better). I can't just happily kill time talking about the things I like in the world, because I'm constantly thinking about obstacles in the way of my happiness. I want to believe I'm a good person. But it's hard when a voice inside my head is constantly telling me that I suck. And as much as I wish I could just write it off, there's that other voice behind that one warning me that it might just be my conscience, and that if I shut it off, I would certainly become the bad person I'm trying so hard not to be. And so the cycle continues.

01 November, 2020

Pandemic Blues

I don't look at it in terms of, "how much normality can be preserved?" but more, "how much normality am I able to sacrifice?" And I don't understand why we're so attached to celebrating a holiday in a certain way, that we can't give that up, even just for one year out of our whole lives. You could probably go out trick-or-treating, wearing a mask, and socially distancing, and be okay. That's just not the issue, the way I look at it. The issue is, is this something we have to do? And if we do it, are we taking risks that we don't need to be taking? Masks and social distancing are measures we use to reduce risk - when we otherwise have to go out and be around other people. Limiting social interactions and staying at home are other things we can do. Just because we have masks, and stay 6 ft apart (which is really not necessarily far enough in all cases), doesn't mean that everything else can just go back to normal. Those are measures you use when you have to go out - like to work, or to buy groceries. And I'm not saying you can't get fresh air, either. But you go to a park that's not crowded, on a normal day. The very idea of an activity that involves massive portions of the population all going out within the same hour on the same day and crossing paths and knocking on doors, in the midst of a pandemic? This is exactly the sort of thing we need to be sacrificing, for the common good - like conventions and concerts and spectator sports.

COVID-19 isn't a terrorist. It's not a sentient human being. You can't fight it by going out and living a normal life and showing it that you're not afraid. That just reeks of entitlement to me. I've lived my entire life with debilitating social anxiety. I know what it's like to miss out. I feel like I've missed out on most of life - hanging out with friends growing up, going to parties, girlfriends, and then getting a normal job, raising kids. I've been extremely lucky to have a little bit of all of that (well, most of it), and I've learned to (mostly) be content with that, because it's as much as I can expect from life. But I've spent too many days of my life depressed at home, alone, thinking about everything I'm missing out on. And now we're in a pandemic, where that skill of being able to stay home, isolated, and miss out on things, is exactly what people need, what society needs. And yet I look around and see all these people who have always gotten everything they wanted out of life, spoiled and entitled and unable to make the sort of sacrifices I've had to make all my life, for just maybe one year - hell, they couldn't even do it much longer than a month!

I suppose I should be sympathetic, because it's not an easy thing to do, and I have an unfair advantage for once. But it seems like people aren't even trying. And I feel alone, not in the way we're supposed to right now, but in the way that it's almost like I'm the only one having to endure this pandemic right now, while everybody else around me just goes on with their lives, humoring me because I'm a germophobe or something. I don't want people to be miserable, and to miss out on everything. I just want the feeling of solidarity, like I'm not in this alone, and that I'm not being crazy because I'm going too far. From the beginning, I've honored the idea that in a pandemic, if you're doing all the right things, in hindsight it'll look like you're doing too much, but if you're not, it'll only ever be not enough. And I look at the state of the world right now, and particularly the country, and I can't believe people think things are okay the way we're going. It hasn't gotten better since March. It's just kept getting steadily worse. Once there's a vaccine, and numbers actually start going down, then I won't resent people insisting on being able to crowd into bars to drink on the weekends (because they've earned it). But we're not quite there yet, and I want to see us working together to weather this storm until we are, not resenting every little sacrifice we're asked to make, and then turning it into some political squabble or conspiracy theory.


14 June, 2020

Bubbles

I have, in the past, been accused of living in a bubble. First, while growing up in a nice, suburban community. And again, while attending a small liberal arts college. But while modern society is more connected than ever, thanks to the internet, I believe we are all living inside of bubbles - the walls of which are formed by the people we follow on social media. Before COVID-19, I'd never been in the habit of regularly watching the news, because it is frequently depressing, and I am more concerned with running my own life, than the affairs of others I have no influence over. But social media fulfills a purpose for me, both personally and professionally.

Personally, it affords me the opportunity to engage in an indirect form of socialization that is easier for me than face-to-face interaction. Because although I have social anxiety, I am still human, and humans are social creatures; no man is an island, as they say. Furthermore, it provides a level of intellectual stimulation (sadly, less from mutual interaction than just as a medium for expressing my thoughts) that my mind demands and is hard to satisfy by the lack of company I tend to cultivate around me (for my own comfort) - especially these days, while I'm hunkered down in isolation. And, professionally, it acts as a platform to grow my brand and advertise my business. It's not something I can easily just walk away from, even if I want to.

So, while it's easier than ever to stay abreast of current events, those events are frequently filtered through the opinions of others. Even news outlets are more than likely to hold some kind of bias. I hear about movements and scandals from the reactions of others - memes and trending topics - before I even know the facts of the situation, which are so hard to find. And how many other people are shaping their own reactions based on this incomplete picture? (This is all the more dangerous in a #cancelculture). And then we only ever hear the opinions of the voices that reach into our bubble. I believe this is a significant cause of the growing schism in our culture. I also believe it is an inevitable symptom of democracy, which is dying a slow death. When everyone has a voice, how do we decide which voices hold the most value? Is it only the ones we agree with? I increasingly feel the need for more context within which to digest the information I am bombarded with on a daily basis. Is it any wonder nobody knows who or what to believe anymore?

03 November, 2019

10 Things You Might Know About Me

Because I thought this could be fun, and I've gotta post something on this blog between Tekko reviews, amirite? :-p

Anyway, this is supposed to be "ten things you don't know about me", but I've been around for a while, so it's possible you might already know some or all of these things. And anyway, I don't keep a lot of secrets, except for private stuff the internet doesn't need to know about me, which I'm obviously not gonna open up about just for something like this.

1. My favorite food is pizza. Whether it's New York style or Chicago deep dish, from a delivery chain or a fine Italian restaurant, it's all good - I may be a connoisseur, but I'm not a snob (at least not with pizza). And the only topping I usually need is pepperoni, although sometimes I'll get sausage or diced tomatoes.

2. When I was a kid, I wanted to be an astrophysicist unlocking the secrets of the universe, like Albert Einstein. My favorite subjects in school were math and science, which I find amusingly ironic, now that I consider myself an artist. I have a degree in physics, for all the good that's done me.

3. I can solve a Rubik's cube (in under two minutes!). It takes a good deal of practice and memorization, but it's less difficult than I expected it to be. The hardest part was getting over my pride that prevented me from consulting a solution guide.

4. My favorite sport is volleyball, and I have nudism to thank for that. I was never very interested in sports growing up, but it turns out I have a decent instinct for athletics, and I've grown quite fond of the game of volleyball lately.

5. Though I am a summer child, my birthday is in the dead of winter. The only consolation for enduring cold weather, in my opinion, is getting to experience the beauty of snow. So I'm always happy when it snows on my birthday.

6. My favorite place to shop is not actually at the mall (which I love), but a store called Gabe's. They sell a wide variety of brand name clothing at discount prices, so they're neither as expensive nor as style-exclusive as the fancy stores at the mall. Plus, they're big and spread out, so I don't feel too self-conscious browsing around and trying on a bunch of things.

7. My favorite dessert is a brownie sundae, where the brownie - still warm - contrasts with the coolness of the ice cream. But anything chocolate will do. Bonus points if it's also got peanut butter. Few things are better than a trip to Dairy Queen (regardless of the season) for a blizzard - they have so many good flavors to choose from (and they're constantly switching them out), I often have a hard time deciding!

8. My spirit animal would either be a unicorn or a shark. A unicorn, because I am drawn to all things girly, despite not technically being a girl myself. And a shark, because they're silent and solitary animals, that have suffered from misrepresentation.

9. My favorite color for most of my life has been green, but recently I've gravitated towards pink, because of its association with girliness. But if I were pressed, I would have to choose a particular shade of teal as my absolute favorite - and I say particular because in-between colors like teal can be very finicky, and the whole mood of the color can change drastically with a minor shift in the shade. I don't know how to describe the shade I prefer, but I know it when I see it.

10. I like blues and rock and I'm a fan of the classics, so bands like Led Zeppelin and Pink Floyd have certainly passed through my list of top favorites, but these days my favorite musical act is a blues-rock guitarist by the name of Joe Bonamassa, whom I discovered in college and whose career I've been following ever since. I've seen him five times in concert. If you only listen to one song he's recorded, I recommend Sloe Gin, a cover of a song originally by Tim Curry (yes, that Tim Curry).