Keeping It Together

Whew. I don’t know what it is I want from life, but I’m not getting it. I know, I know, probably because I’m not putting the right things into it. Can’t bake a cake without ingredients.

I’m trying to face depression head-on, and I don’t know if I’m making headway. Psychologist, self-reflection, and I feel like I’m working a 2000 piece puzzle where a piece is going in every month or so. I’m so terrible at being normal, at dealing with all the typical things. I’ve had to clean up three big piles of doggie diarrhea mess today, and it takes all my energy to deal with it. You’d think they might bark to let me know something is wrong, I walked them at the normal time.

Stream of consciousness… well, I tell myself that to justify sloppy writing. Maybe I’m too critical of myself, but I don’t want to let myself off the hook too easy. I don’t want to be complacent and comfortable as my radioactive half-life decays.

Keep it together. Get it together. Pay attention, Osaka!

It isn’t working, not yet. Will it ever? Hopes and disappointments, dreams and deferments. I’m doing something wrong. It isn’t religion, that would be escapism, pretending the problems are external in nature. I’m not saying God doesn’t exist, but if it does, it is completely and utterly beyond comprehension because it encompasses all of our positive and negative traits, everything. Heaven and Hell, good and evil, pleasure and pain, light and darkness, and all the stuff in-between those silly binaries, and off to the sides, and diagonal from, and in a coterminous dimension accessible from said point. I know, I’m not making any sense.

Bleh. You remember Sideways Stories from Wayside School? If you were a kid from my generation there’s decent odds you do. You remember the chapter about the kid who (spoiler alert!) signs a Faustian pact, offering the choice between freedom and safety, and the kid chose freedom? I feel like that kid, outside of societal norms, unprotected by the rules everyone else lives by. You get to be your own person, but there are consequences, social consequences. People are frightened because I’m different, so they hide that fear beneath disdain and indirect insults. If they get too forward, make themselves too known, and I confront them about it, they are scared shitless and back down like a bunny rabbit faced with a stray dog. Sometimes they say anything to apologize and get away, sometimes it turns out there’s a worthwhile human being under all that bullshit. You have to be ready for those consequences when you choose freedom. As it has been grossly ubiquitized, freedom isn’t free.

That’s the thing I hate about adults. They’re more subtle when they’re choosing to antagonize you. In school, you know who your enemies are, who the bullies are. You can opt to avoid them or to negotiate with them or to fight them, and the whole thing is pretty obvious and straightforward. Adults seemingly can’t handle being that direct so they won’t say anything to your face. If they did, you can bet that after I was done talking to them, they would shamefacedly never say such a thing again.

I hate these moments of negativity. Eventually they pass, but they make for a crappy day. Yeah yeah, you choose how you feel. Fine, I will try to detox this mood on some writing and romantic movies. Yes, as you guessed, the writing part is right here, these very words. All this venom I’m drawing out of my metaphorical wound has become a journal entry. They can’t all be pretty, they can’t all be insightful, they can’t all be creative. Once in a while I have to see ugliness in order to appreciate beauty.

I’m fighting back against the feeling of a rising tide of pointlessness. Oh, the moment will pass, but I dread that it sometimes returns. ::sigh:: This is just a bad moment. Breathe. I’ve been having some good days lately, don’t let a few disappointments and doubts ruin it. Don’t choose to have a bad evening, fight back, resist.

Music. I need music.

Flight of Fancy

Yulia Tymoshenko, Ex-Premier of Ukraine

Once in a while, my brain will startle me for a moment. I am not the sort who daydreams all that often about famous people (if I did, it would probably be Felicia Day), I like to keep my fantasies closer to reality and involving people I have some connection to. Wait… let me start at the beginning.

I go through cycles where I keep up with the news, until I can’t take any more and set it down for a few months. Right now I’m on a news uptick, so I’ve been following the situations in places like Venezuela and Ukraine. A while back I read this article in particular: http://www.nytimes.com/2014/03/20/world/europe/tempered-cheers-in-ukraine-for-ex-premier-tied-to-the-past.html?_r=0 . It had an effect on me. Suddenly I could see her struggle playing out like a gritty political thriller in my mind’s eye: the underdog who once ruled supreme has to come back after years of imprisonment, facing undisclosed back injuries, to try and regain her status once more and stop Ukraine from sliding into war and subjugation by Russia. However, the political climate is tumultuous: the people are tired of the corrupt oligarchy and the cronyism of the old system, and Yulia Tymoshenko was no saint, she was every bit a part of that system. New popular candidates for president are abundant, some younger, some richer. Can she overcome her injuries and setbacks, convince the people of Ukraine that she is trustworthy, and do this all before the country flies apart at the seams due to a crashing economy, rampant rioting and looming war with Russia?

Seriously, think about it! You couldn’t write a more gripping backdrop for political intrigue than what is playing out for Yulia Tymoshenko in Ukraine as we speak (er, write and read… nevermind). How dark of an antihero will the character prove to be? Will she renounce her old habits, or just seek to mask and redirect them as she builds a false image? Whatever the case, the woman is a cunning shark in political waters. I mean, Vladimir Putin called her “the only man in Ukrainian politics,” which is high praise coming from an ex-KGB officer.

In the midst of all this, my brain registered how lovely she is. She might not seem quite so lovely when she’s waterboarding you for secrets, but the woman is downright beautiful. She might be 53 years old, but it hardly seems to phase her.

Okay, so the backdrop is established. I’ve read this news article introducing me to Yulia Tymoshenko, time passes, and then today… I had a flight of fancy that I had gotten myself into some situation not unlike “The Man Who Knew Too Little” where on a visit to Ukraine I am mistaken for a foreign intelligence agent and have to come up with some truly ridiculous lies to avoid being tortured for information: my cover story was that I started on with the Information Awareness Office back in ’02 – yes it’s real, visit Wikipedia – and I stayed on with the EELD project, which was what I had come to offer the government in Kiev to combat Russian teams sent for political dissent. Nevermind that I only turned 19 back in ’02, I figure it would at least buy me some time. Anyhow, about the time I was fantasizing about flirting with Yulia Tymoshenko while I was bound to a chair being interrogated, ready to launch into a steamy but ill-fated romantic affair as I get in woefully over my head with lies, I suddenly realized how bizarrely out of character the entire FANTASY was for me. Sure, I come up with all kinds of intense storylines as a dungeon master, but for my personal daydreaming use? I usually pick something with a lot more love and a lot less danger. The women are usually younger than 53, and I have never fantasized about a political figure before.

So, why am I sharing this with you? Well, first of all, this is my journal, so I write what I wanna. I don’t know though… maybe I thought someone would be amused, or someone might be interested to learn about the dangerous and seductive Yulia Tymoshenko (I am kidding! … mostly).

(Image credit: http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Msc_2009-Saturday,_14.00_-_16.00_Uhr-Dett_023_Tymoshenko.jpg )

Pryvit, Mrs. Tymoshenko…
yes, I’ll call you Yulia now.
Do we still need these handcuffs, please?
I came here to support you,
since we can’t put boots on the ground with ease.
Just let me call up DARPA,
and our resources will be shared.
(I’ll call for an extraction team,
as though DARPA would care.)
Kokhana, still you don’t trust me?
Oleksandr will never know.
You’ll still have that family
when I have turned to go.

Doom and Rebirth

Our world never stops moving: it keeps moving through space around a sun, and that sun is dragging along our whole solar system through a galaxy, and the galaxy is… well, you get the point. Similarly, our lives on this world do not stop moving until the day we die (arguably, sometimes our lives keep morphing even after that). I find that days when everything feels comfortable and familiar and laid-back are somewhat rare due to the constant introduction of change.

One of those changes is climate change. This should be news to no one: for the entire history of temperature-taking the annual average has done nothing but stagger upwards. It’s more than just temperature though, it involves rainfall patterns, storm formation, deep sea currents and insect hibernation cycles. This change may not destroy us, but it will leave a gruesome enough mark (and has already left some). Island nations, Bangladesh and Florida will eventually disappear, and there’s no telling what will happen to the sea currents when the Arctic Ocean melts. I’m not saying it will happen in 10 years… but in 30 or 50, maybe. We’re already seeing unusual weather patterns emerging; I wouldn’t be surprised if the American West runs out of water in 10 years or so due to dwindling melt water from the mountains. California has a serious discussion going about desalination plants, and states like Colorado might just dry up and blow away.

Another significant change is the long-term effect of humans on the food chain. Quite simply, we are tapping out Earth’s resources in regard to food supply. At a time when we should be considering options like hydroponics and aggressive low-emission farming, we’re busy with, oh, growing crops that are resistant to Agent Orange so we can nuke more poison into the environment (and keep building up the insect and fungus immune systems). Flooding the market with seed stock that can’t reproduce for future harvests, so everyone becomes dependent on Monsanto seeds. This is the opposite of what I would call “a sustainable agriculture company” unless they mean sustaining themselves.

Then there is the global economic situation. Blame it on fuel, blame it on food, blame it on post-industrial society, blame it on an untenable economic model (any model that requires constant growth will ultimately fail when it reaches a size limit; ask any major empire of Earth). Whatever you blame it on, it is happening. Politics may constantly shuffle and reform with the occasional revolution, but a global economic crisis would be nothing short of disastrous. In the past, a single country would go through upheaval and turmoil and war (though sometimes this war would spread with Panzer tanks) until it figured things out. Now though, our economies are tightly connected and poised like dominoes. I’ve seen a lot of symptom-treating from various sources. They throw money at the problem, sometimes quite literally (this is called “quantitative easing” or “print dolla bills, y’all”). They raise the debt ceiling (the financial equivalent of getting a new credit card to pay part of an existing credit card so you can extend your bar tab). They sell bonds (the financial equivalent of selling an IOU with a friendly smile as collateral). Other tricks get employed to game the financial markets, putting in market freezes to prevent catastrophic stock failures, exchanging large quantities of foreign currency for U.S. dollars (because so much of the market runs on U.S. dollars, devaluing yen to raise the price of dollars ends up keeping the market afloat). Lots of tricks, lots of stopgaps, lots of kicking the can down the road. The debt ceiling keeps rising, dollars keep getting printed, and federal interest rates are still around 0%. Despite all our efforts, the market is slowing down and the GDP (Gross Domestic Product) is putting the brakes on. At some point, we will not be able to effectively pay the interest on all the debt we owe. America has gotten about three too many credit cards and is doing worse than living paycheck to paycheck; the financial equivalent of our situation is someone who regularly runs by a Check ‘n Go to spend some of the money they haven’t earned yet to cover some of the basic expenses, some of the interest rates, and spends the rest on non-essential hobbies. Every visit yields a little less.

Perhaps the plutocratic oligarchy that runs our country (and most of the world) are to blame, but if that’s so it has been that way for most of human history. Anyhow, the takeaway from this is that we are doomed (yes, there’s a touch of sarcasm). Despite this doom, there is the chance for rebirth. The climate will change (too late to stop it), the food chain will alter the course of life on earth in tandem with climate change, and the global economy will ultimately crash. I don’t think it means humans won’t survive, or that all life on Earth will perish. Bad times ahead, but like a phoenix something good will rise from the ashes. Hurricanes, earthquakes, volcanoes, Russian invasions, hyperinflation, I can’t say what the precise causes will be, but rest assured something human-shaped will emerge from the other side of those times. That may be small comfort to those of us who have to live through it though.

I’m not really kidding about this.

Existential Quandaries

Okay, so I admit my sleep schedule is anything but a schedule. I act like there are 26 to 30 hours in the day, and I go to bed later and later until finally I’m going to bed really early. I woke up this morning about 3:30 AM, and for some reason I thought it was a good idea to watch a trippy paradoxical movie called “Mr. Nobody” on Netflix. I’m not here to give you a movie review (although I did think it was excellent in the sort of way “Butterfly Effect” or “Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind” are excellent), but I am here to say it wasn’t my best idea. Now I am full of existential quandaries, full of loathing and self-doubt, and wracked with the pain and isolation of my pitiful meaningless existence (that’s a reference to “Albuquerque” by Weird Al).

So, how much am I joking, and how much am I serious? That’s a question best left to the philosophers… no, okay, I’ll give a real answer. I feel genuinely lonely, and I did have some honest-to-goodness detached existential ponderings. Perhaps that means the movie had its intended effect, although I may already be susceptible to that kind of thinking anyway.

Doubt, stretched over
too many ideologies
breakfast cereals, comic serials,
sans serif, sans sense and sensibility,
ten too many faiths
iconographies
too many Ernest Hemingways and Franz Kafkas
too many Martin Heideggers and Friedrich Nietzsches
too many pains
too many
things
failures, embarrassments, twinklings and twinges,
unmailed letters and unanswered feelings
too many years spent as a teenager
and too many as some kind of adult
desires, debasements, debauchery, details
and now
even doubt has
stretched
thin.

Reconnecting, Part Deux

So! I’ve called some peeps, and called back a few, or been called back in turn (turn, turn, turn…). I haven’t forgotten how I lost track of people, or why it happens. Basically, it takes effort to be social, and the more social you are, the more energy it takes. Time, too. A time to gather stones together.

The point is, what is going to be different this time? Will I bring some in only to leave others out? Will the return be brief, and they will drift out on the tide? Will the return of some not be as palatable to others as it is to me (translation: will there be drama)? Am I overthinking this?

It is nice to assume everything will happen smoothly and all will be hunky-dory (whatever that is), but there are always concerns. Is it safe to bring two ex-girlfriends into the same room together (my instincts tell me no)? Is it even safe to bring one in? I’d like to think that answer is yes, reconciliation and friendship is possible. How many people is too many for a D&D game? (Answer: do not go above seven human beings in the same room; four to six is preferable.) Why is it that when you introduce new people to a D&D group, that is precisely the time when every player in the known universe shows up for the game and crowds the house? You invite new people because the group is shrinking, but that particular session you get waaaay too many players.

::sigh::

I don’t like having to practice conservation of time, especially conservation of people. I want more hours in the day, more energy to spend, I don’t like getting out of touch with any of my friends or acquaintances. I don’t know what the answer is here, all I can do is try my best… and hope for the best.

Its hard not to think about
your lips on my neck
your eyes when you smile
a cozy snuggle and peck.

Inside, I debate
if I’m strong enough to be
just a friend if I’m needed
and not get greedy.

For You were my world,
and You were my moon,
so I pray that this decade
isn’t coming ’round too soon.

Secretly, I hope
it was still meant to be:
the world, and the moon
and the shores of the sea.

Thespians of the Dinner Table

We come bearing books and laptops and sheets,
Pencils and beads and maps not yet written,
Bags full of faceted plastic – like gems –
and cross-reference imagination with rules.

We smile and greet and reference memes
And settle to seats like nesting quail
Write up a life made of rolls and whimsy
Until one says, “Alright, let’s begin.”

Memories of a second life recap and surface
Like a childhood forgotten only a week past
As a group we recall the thread of our story
And make fast our minds to the tale told tonight.

No script gets handed forth, only vague guidelines
As friends transform with improvisation
Becoming actor and actress, hero and villain,
the unsung Thespians of the Dinner Table.

Astounding success meets critical failure
As the moments of an epic play out in our minds
Live or die, win or lose, the point must remain
That in all things we strive to have fun.

Eventually the magic must wane for the night
As eyelids grow heavy and caffeine dwindles
And suddenly turned pumpkins, we excuse ourselves
Till the next time we get invited to the ball.