Saturday, December 31, 2016

antisocial diagnostic terms

How is it that I made the leap, equating psychopaths with indifference to social norms?  Is the correlation between the two obvious, or maybe, something I need to explain my thinking on a bit better?

If someone is insensitive or callous, in my experience, this tends to mean they are both less prone to empathy, as well as less concerned with what other people think of them and the like.  This is a typical trait of the psychopath - to be the polar opposite of a social phobic.  Antisocial Personality Disorder often manifests as highly social, narcissistic, and self-confident.  To me, this is implies physiological correlation.  The neurological mechanism which makes a person sensitive in one way, might also be making them sensitive in another.  Tweak the dials over here, making an unintended changes over there.

This is not to say that the two can't be separated, or that there wouldn't be exceptions, and an implication is a far cry from proof.  Only that I'm skeptical without experience of good examples.  Most people are in between, most people follow basic rules of social behavior, and can seem decent and nice, regardless of where they fall on the spectrum.  Some people can even seem exceptionally nice, but that isn't the same as being exceptionally caring.

We can hold this ideal of attaining a mental state which logically separates these traits, especially as they seem conceptually unrelated - but if they are mechanistically correlated, that might not be realistic.

In Mahayana Buddhism, a Bodhisattva is a practitioner able to reach enlightenment, who delays doing so out of compassion, in order to save suffering beings.  This must include even the worm on the sidewalk, and maybe I'm not the first person to think there might be an inherent contradiction at play, here.

Thursday, December 29, 2016

optimistic nihilism

One of the primary ways I've learned to survive depression has been to remind myself that all phenomena is temporary.  Sometimes most significantly, my emotions, the thoughts that arise, my outlook on life.  Different variables go into these things.  I saw an interview with a North Korean defector the other day, who talked about when half her village died of starvation, the survivors were generally happy people, who laughed and enjoyed life, when they could.  She mused that people in China and South Korea seemed less happy, because they weren't struggling to survive.  Saying that with all their comfort and spare time, they think too much, finding all sorts of things to be unhappy about.

I think, a simplification with some truth to it.  Depends on our own lives, our own experiences of struggling, spare time, and neurochemistry, not to mention the mental resources we have to sort it all out, and the inclination we have to bother doing so.  I think it varies from person to person, I think there are variables that go into whether it's true or not, that tend be overlooked.  A person who loses half their family to starvation can be happier than someone who's never had much of a family, and the vast spectrum of grey area that is the human experience gets pretty complicated.

Not to get all abstract nor morbid, when I say that it's all temporary, though.  In my own life, in my experience, moods fluctuate for no discernible reason.  All bad experiences have been resolved by waiting them out, including the things that make me miserable.  My entire outlook might be better tomorrow, through absolutely nothing intentional on my part, other than keeping my shit together long enough to experience it.

There are recreational drugs I've taken, that have made me feel much worse, before they fully kicked in and became awesome.  Just as often, I've found myself trying to wait out the bad experience, only to eventually realize that was the whole trip.  Was it just bad, or did I ruin it with the mindset of waiting it out?  Patience is supposed to be a virtue, but how much of my life fell away, because I waited and waited and never got around to living?

Or has it been remarkably successful, given that I am, not only still breathing, but in my own place, keeping my rent and bills paid, even feeding myself.  This is a miserably low bar, by some standards - and an ambitiously high one, by others.  I hate being the sort who gets a nice pat on the head for vaguely resembling a grown up at times, without drooling too much.  Not that there's anything wrong with that.

I hate that I can't seem to rise above caring about petty egocentric things, like the sort of person I am, whatever the hell that really means.  Maybe it would be better if I were starving and oppressed, right?  Maybe, depending on how you prioritize things.  Everything is turned on it's head, just by placing these arbitrary values differently.

It would be better to feel less self-doubt and angst, in exchange for a fifty-fifty chance of starving to death?  What's the point of living, if you're not really living, goes the common refrain.  Yeah, try not living, right?  It's all nonsense when you get down to it.

What's important and what isn't?  None of it.. but we still want to be happy.  We value what seems most likely to bring that, personal relationships, more shiny new stuff, new philosophies on life.  What works best, in the short term, or the long term, or when we're looking back on it all from our death beds.

Anything that we've learned might actually work.  None of it matters, if it isn't psychologically rewarding in this way.  Which is to say, none of it matters.  It's all just our minds, playing tricks on us.  So, as the Zen bit goes, "when you're not thinking of anything good and anything bad, at that moment, what is your original face?"

Friday, December 23, 2016

compassionate misanthropy

One can hate all of humanity, still noting the progress of people being slightly less awful to each other.  I support everyone at least vaguely moving in that direction.  In the US, we have these two parties, increasingly splintering off into entirely different cultures.  Even people who don't give a damn about politics, predominantly surrounded by one group or the other.

Republicans are worse, as they say.  It's not an easy point to refute.  In my frustration with Democrats, I have tried.  Maybe they're not the same, but complicit.  Is it really worse to be the executioner, than the guy who brings him the axe?  Well yeah, it kind of is.  Get to know them as people, and generally, the guy carrying the axe is more redeemable.. but when you've seen him help behead countless people, that can seem a distinction without a difference.

I have been deeply troubled, all my life, by all the people in the world being awful to each other.  People, most of all, but all of life, really.  I can't watch a lion take down a meal, a cat catch a bird, or a hunter shooting for sport, without feeling sick.  As a kid, I remember seeing a worm that had made it's way out of the grass, onto the sidewalk where it would dry out and die.  As I moved to help it back to safety, a millipede bolted out of nowhere and chomped into the worm.  I was horrified to realize how incredibly helpless the worm was, in a world that not only doesn't care, but often seems quite enthusiastic in its brutality.  I just heard of "screw worms" a few weeks back, apparently sieging Florida.  Fucking hell, why does anything like this even exist?

Course, I know why.  As close as we can come to understanding anything of the world around us, I can see the causal chain that makes life like this.  Always trying to work out the details, but just as I don't understand all the calculations that go into the physics of gravity, I basically understand why things fall.

The scope of it all is overwhelming.  Does any of it matter?  If I shouldn't suffer empathy for a dog being abused on the other side of the planet, why should I suffer it for people close to me, for people within our borders, within our communities, our families, or even ourselves?  This is only natural, chemical reactions, reacting to their environment, but this does not mean it's logical.  It doesn't mean that there need be any rational justification for it.

If we aspire to think, and act, based on reason above all else, we should at least be able to face that direction, in spite of these chemical reactions, right?  Or do we just admit that we're not governed by reason at all, that we're just puppets being hopelessly helplessly jerked around?  When taken to its logical conclusion, such an enlightened person should be able to look upon any suffering, anywhere, any time.  This is just life.  It is what it is.. but that does not seem compassionate.  That would seem its exact opposite.

Are there people who have reached that level of spiritual awakening?  It must be an awakening of sorts, because it's simply the awareness of what's true.  Compassion itself might be antithetical to that, and the very concept of enlightenment, if it's to be taken at all seriously, can't be predicated on staying in the dark.  So, when people act so deeply indiscriminately, then they must honestly have no problem with others thinking that they're assholes for it, right?  Being hurt by that, but not all the far worse suffering around would be awfully hypocritical.  Yet to be indifferent would mean being a psychopath.

If there is anyone in the world to have honestly attained that level of awareness, genuinely, honestly, without being a psychopath, I'd sure like to ask them a few things.

Saturday, December 10, 2016

childhood GHD

Even people that have known me all my life, do they remember it, the way I do?  I remember being picked up from school, when I was about seven.  A little while after having spent three days in the hospital for testing.  I asked how long I'd have to get shots for.  I began sobbing upon being told that it would be every other day, for upwards of ten years.  I don't know if I was crying about all those needles, or if it had more to do with realizing that this wasn't something that would be cured and put behind me.  This was going to be a part of my life, for quite a while.

Starting second grade, at eight years old, I looked like I was maybe five.  Due to hiccups in getting treated, even my little sister was bigger and appeared older than me, by the time I was nine.  It wasn't that I was short.  My physiological development was entirely stunted, so I looked and sounded much younger than I was.   Adults seem to have trouble grasping just how much three years matters, to little kids - and even not-so-little kids.

Getting bullied was not the issue.  It felt more like I had no peers at all.  A more cheerful extrovert might have been able to make up the difference, but a more cheerful extrovert, I was not.  The older I got, the more this seemed to impact my social life.   Not just because kids are assholes, but because it was also shaping my psychological development.  I had trouble relating to them, anyhow.  I sometimes wonder if hormonal deficiencies can impact neurological development, as well.  The older I get, the more that seems to impact my social life.

Though I hate to admit it, I think on some level, I'm still that little kid.  By the time I was fifteen, I was almost catching up.  An emotional trainwreck, but just a little on the short side.  The science being poorly understood as it was, I was then taken off treatment.  My epiphyseal plates had just about closed.  That isn't even remotely all GH does however, so I got to spend the next twenty years looking maybe fourteen years old.  Least I never had to shave.

I don't know how much of my life has been shaped by that, itself.  It didn't help that my mother thought it was a good idea to move from state to state, while raising kids.  The few friends I did make, left behind.  Again.  I think all that might have fried some of the social receptors in my brain.  Which then became self-reinforcing, over the years of rewiring around it.

Thursday, December 8, 2016

hunger isn't so bad

I've been trying to keep my food consumption to a minimum, but I keep getting hungry.  Every day.  You get pretty used to it after a while.  I'm certainly not starving.  I had some lentils and rice, yesterday.  Coffee this morning.  That helps.  It's not a great feeling, though..  I go into this detail not for sympathy, but because without specifics, relative statements can be functionally meaningless. To talk about suffering of one sort of another, I think it's important to be clear on what we're discussing.  It isn't just a question of sympathy not to confuse the discomfort of hunger, with famine and starvation.  It's about clarity, and so, to be clear, this is where I'm coming from.  This is the sort of hunger I'm using to launch into discussing something or other.

I've actually forgotten where I was going with this, but it will come to me.  In the meantime, I'm reminded of one of the many facets of the sort of hunger I'm talking about.  It interferes with brain function.  Memory, concentration.. this isn't news, but these sorts of details get left of discussions on poverty, and why it can be such a trap to get out of.  Not all of it is systemic to society, but systemic to nature.  It can undermine functionality in some pretty fundamental ways.

It's complicated, and there are so many factors involved.  Poverty in a town that has a great public school system isn't nearly as bad as poverty in a town with a terrible public school system.  That single factor alone can make a huge difference in the well-being and economic mobility of impoverished children that grow up there.  Now compare towns with ample nutritional benefits to those where the poor can't afford enough food, and live in a food desert.  It's poverty either way, but those can be important distinctions to make.

As for me, I actually have enough on my EBT card for groceries.  Well, sorta, and I haven't always, but in this case, that isn't the problem.  It mostly just reminds me of those times when I literally couldn't afford food for a while.  That really sucked, but I did get used to it.  Some call Winooski a food desert, but that's a bit of a stretch.  It's a small town, a mile square, so it isn't really saying that much, that there isn't a single grocery store within the town itself.  It's just a pain to walk the three miles, lugging groceries along the side of a highway.  Not even a goddamn sidewalk, and biking it would be seriously perilous.  Public transit?  Even worse.

It's doable, but I tend to procrastinate for a while.  It doesn't help that I'm borderline agoraphobic as it is, or maybe just pathologically lazy.  It takes me all day, just to get myself moving and then it's dark and everything is closing.  Other people struggle with more straight-forward physical limitations.  Whatever the issue may be, all of it would be so much easier, not if I were wealthier, but if the town I lived in were better designed, with public transit, bike lanes, and commercial zoning access that doesn't assume we can all afford cars.

Sometimes I think to myself that being hungry isn't so bad, as I ration out the last vestiges of food from my cupboards.  I try not to think about how it's bad for my health, mental and physical, or how I can't even think about running, because I honestly can't spare the calories, for the time being.  I can relax though, and I'm otherwise comfortable.  I'm happier not thinking about those things.  Sometimes it sounds odd me.  It's not that bad.  Yeah, I guess.  It still sucks, though.

It's all relative, right?  20% of Winooski is even poorer than I am - Winooski VT Economic Data - you'd think this town would be better designed for it, but that's rarely how it works.  Generally, the poor can't afford to live in places that are designed to accommodate poverty.

Saturday, December 3, 2016

transcendental disbelief

Was just reading an article on a recent neuroscience study of religious people.  Mormons.  They measured brain activity, during religious behaviors.  What they found that it lit up the reward center, much like being in love or popping oxycodones.  Something about ventral striatums and caudate nuclei.

As it got me thinking about the role of reward processing in belief, I eventually got around to thinking, well yeah.  Duh.  Of course it's rewarding.  It makes people "happy."  Why else would they believe such nonsense?  It's highly motivated reasoning.  The larger question for me, is why it doesn't work on everyone.  It's easy to dismantle religious belief, when it does nothing for us, anyhow.  Some may be in between, where they see the appeal, but not so much that they lose all capacity for reason.  A spectrum, I'm sure, but somewhere in there, a variable that generally pulls people in one of two opposing directions.

For me, well, I tried.  Judaism, Buddhism, Jainism, Taosim, from Dzogchen to Kabbalah.. I just couldn't get into any of it.  Some good ideas, some terrible ideas, lots of brilliantly creative art and music - but on an emotional level, attempting to practice any of it?  Totally fucking pointless.

Why do we do anything?  It's simple cause and effect.  The reward system is how evolution goads us into surviving in a reality that is, otherwise, totally fucking pointless.  That's not a judgment, but a fact, hard to face as it may be, when you've got the reward centers of your brain lighting up for all sorts of reasons, telling you otherwise.  In complex and indirect ways reward processing could play a fundamental role in manufacturing any sense of purpose we have in life, and the patterns we develop to make something of it.

Asking what's the point of it all might seem little more than a cliche of depression, on it's face, a senseless question.  I could name all sorts of things of nearly indisputable value, much of which depends on humans giving a damn.  Yet, that's not the point.

It really describes a feeling.  Another thing neuroscientists have discovered is that a whole lot of the time, people take action - and then - formulate a rationale for it.  We naturally underestimate the significance of what's going on beneath the surface, how we feel often being our most substantial clue.  We might say get over it, shrug it off, do what you need to do - but, by then, it's too late.  We're doing or we're not doing, and the mind is just babbling about it, after the fact.

Understanding the self doesn't have a purpose, other than more broadly wanting to understand our situation.  It's another fundamental of the human experience, I think, to want to understand what we're dealing with, so as to best survive it.

From everything I've read, it seems maybe my understanding of the reward system is a little different.  I think it may play a much more substantial role in our lives than widely believed.  It could be what makes depression so crippling, and religion so inspiring.  Or it could be a developmental outcome of depression, particularly during childhood.  The system only comes together if a child learns that life is worth living.

Tuesday, November 22, 2016

psychiatric unrest

I tried hinting at it, in my last entry, but i'm thinking maybe I should put it more explicitly.  That is, I'm aware that my politics are influenced by my state of mind.  I'm aware that I form some tenuous connections between disparate types of downtroddenness.  That it might seem especially strange to lump mental illness and racial injustice together.  Part of why I'm so angry arguably being because my own mental health issues skew me that way.  I'm a frustrated angry person, which seems to result in frustrated angry politics.

A lot of different things went wrong in my life.  Poverty was just one of them, but the sort of western poverty that I'm familiar with isn't really all that bad, in itself.  The "poverty line" being high enough that most of us can eat and afford safe secure shelter.  A whole lot of the world doesn't take that for granted, and a good case could be made for not needing much more, economically speaking, to be happy.

I've often thought that the more serious problem with this type of poverty is more indirect.  It can cripple a person's capacity to handle all the things that tend to go wrong in life.  This medical condition of mine caused me lots of problems, but maybe those problems would have been surmountable if everything else around me wasn't falling apart at the same time.  Which does have the tendency of happening a lot to poor people.  A lot of things go wrong, in a lot of people's lives.

So, I got through it, but I can't go so far as to say, unscathed.  I can put all the pieces together, to understand why I ended up as such a basketcase.  I can see how I learned a few lessons all wrong, hormones being all askew probably didn't help, and now the wiring just seems to be stuck that way.

Still, I can't help but think that in a more equal society, I might have had a much better shot, despite everything else.   Arguably, a much better shot at making some sort of recovery, even now.  That's the whole reason we band together and form groups and tribes, and all of civilization, isn't it?  To be better protected from all the shit that goes wrong in life?  If we're failing to do that for some people, in any number of ways, I think it makes sense to be kind of pissed about it.

If the collective response to an individual's misfortune is just sucks for you, then said collective is failing in a very fundamental way.

Friday, November 11, 2016

only happy when it rains

I've been seeing a lot of talk about all the vulnerable types who will be hurt by a Trump presidency.  I'm afraid to even post this to Facebook, because to even question that will outrage good people that I'd rather not antagonize, but a lot of what they're afraid of is already happening.  This country is falling apart, but this is mostly coming from people who are doing ok.

Their concern for others is admirable and all, but guess what?  It's actually me that's frighteningly close to the top of that list of vulnerable people.  I scrape by on about 10k a year, the official and arbitrarily low poverty line being almost twice that much.  While the GOP salivates at the prospect of shredding the safety net I'm clinging to.  What would that mean for me?  I could lose everything, food, shelter, medical insurance, all hanging by a thread as it is.   I know, I know, that's totally different, because it's my own fault for having crippling mental health issues.

What pisses me off about that narrative though, is that Mr. Trump isn't the real threat.  Replace him with any other Republican, and it's the same.  The real threat we all face is that the GOP now dominates all three branches of government - and that is a very grave threat, and I'm honestly scared.. but it's the threat that I voted for, by refusing to support Clinton.



I voted Stein/Baraka, but I also understand the argument that it was a vote not to stop Trump.  Technically, I live in a deep blue state, so that's not true.  Trump lost by thirty points here, so my vote honestly didn't matter - but I would have also voted Stein in a swing state.  I would have even relished the vote more, because of the protest it equated to.

So, here's the awful socially suicidal truth.  It was the outcome that I wanted.  It is the outcome that I am happy with.  Unlike much of the country, my mood actually improved dramatically, as soon as I heard the news.  I was all fired up and ready to engage with people.  What chaos!  This could be catastrophic, but it could still be a great opportunity for progress.  We're already seeing the fights play out for party leadership, now that their side fucked up so badly.  They lost to Trump, of all people!  Their political careers should be over.

This is what makes unrest so dangerous.  People whose lives are already shit stop caring if things get worse.  Anything for the chance to make things better.  For people who are doing fine, that's horrifying, but you know what?  I find it a little difficult to sympathize with the beneficiaries of a society that's screwed me over this badly.  It may not be entirely logical, but it is indisputably how I feel.

As long as I'm on the fringes, it doesn't matter though.  If I get too desperate and pose a threat, they can just lock me up, but other than that, they don't give a fuck.  What this election made me realize though, is that I'm not on the fringes.  A whole lot of this country is suffering and outraged, and ready to risk burning it all down for the chance to make things better.

When I thought Clinton was going to win, I was despondent.  I've been miserable for months, thinking it was a foregone conclusion, because our lying propagandist media said that was the case.  I had my doubts, I knew Trump had a chance.  I knew turnout on the left was going to be awful.. but I thought Clinton would probably pull ahead anyhow.  The country would be saved from imminent disaster, but the status quo would be reinforced, the left wing of the Democratic Party again soundly vanquished, as Bill Clinton did before her.

For me, that was, and still is, the greater concern.  We need a progressive movement in this country.  We need it to succeed, and neoliberalism is keeping that from happening.  If we can't win this, I think we're heading for dark times that will make being scared of Trump look like a bad joke.  Clinton was the more serious threat, and I celebrate her defeat, fully aware that we're still in serious danger.

Friday, November 4, 2016

against the grain

Why do we argue?  I'm not so sure we all do it for the same reasons.  There's an element of happenstance, people merely expressing themselves, in earshot of someone trying to express something contrary.  Next thing you know, they're butting horns, right?

This is not why I argue.  Something I've done quite a lot of in my life.  I basically seek it out, although I prefer arguing with people who are somewhat similarly aligned to myself, in some way.  I have no interest in trolling stormfront, or anything like that.  When I feel we're just butting horns though, I tend to just drop it.  That's not what I'm going for.

I'll often attempt to express myself in different ways, trying to come at the disagreement from different angles, but it rarely matters.  I think in most arguments, there is a core fundamental point of disagreement, that we should be able to reconcile.  Not that we'd agree, but that we'd understand why we disagree.  My ideal outcome isn't to change anyone's mind, or to club them over the head with my superior wit and vernacular prowess, but to get to a point where we can both say that we understand why we hold different opinions.  So much so, that we can no longer condemn each other for it.

Often disagreements seem to go something like this:  Two people are concerned about two different threats.  They might even tacitly acknowledge that both concerns are entirely valid.  They just disagree on which should be the the priority.  Look at their lives, their worldview, what they believe matters in life, what's made them happy, and what's made them suffer.. and maybe I can see why they might have different priorities than I do.  If only they'd be honest about it, instead of trying to undermine opposing views with rhetorical flourishes and childish bravado.

Not that I'm above it all, but I try to be, I think, with some occasional success.  I want to understand people.  I want them to understand me.  That seems to largely be a lost cause, though.  Fucking crazy bastards.



Damn straight their nonsense scares me.

Tuesday, November 1, 2016

fear of the marketplace

When I was sixteen and a therapist suggested social anxiety disorder, I was skeptical.  It never occurred to me that I was afraid of people, exactly.  In part, because it's difficult to face the possibility that my entire life has been shaped by irrational fear.  What a shameful coward I must be!

On the other hand though, "anxiety" doesn't really cover it.  Much as I hate admitting it, even to this day.  It's full blown phobia.  I'm not afraid of people, per say.  I'm ok with being around people.  From the dense crowds of Manhattan to the occasional shadowed figure I might cross paths with walking around Winooski after midnight, I'm fine.  As long as no one tries saying hello to me.  I'm not afraid of people, but my life is paralyzed by the fear of interacting with people.

That distinction is important, because it really highlights the strangeness of the problem.  It's not a fear for personal safety, in any clear way.  The sort of fears people understand intuitively.  The sort of fears that have fairly straight-forward mechanics and what to do about them.  It's much more convoluted and ubiquitous.  I can't not deal with people.  If I had the resources, I might try to live as a hermit on a mountain top, but I don't, and even if I did, I wouldn't be at all happy about it.  It would be a massive relief, but then again, so is the way I live now.

It's just that it's a seriously fucking lonely existence.  It also utterly hamstrings my ability to do much of anything in life.  I can't even remotely get a handle on my fears, but nor am I ok with just avoiding the whole mess.

I don't know if it's psychological possible for most of us to live happily without human relationships and interactions.  It's a near constant drain on my mental health.  I've gone round and round like this, falling apart, scraping the pieces back together, only to fall apart again.  It's as if my whole life has revolved around repairing a house on the beach, as the sand it's built on is periodically washed out to sea.

Monday, October 31, 2016

chemical imbalance

I can't seem to let go of the past.  That whole growing up thing that didn't seem to happen for me.  Childhood, adolescence, I can't get over how wrong it all went.  I can't stop rifling through the memories, trying to make sense of it all.  Could I have done things differently?  Why does it matter?  Why does my mind always end up back there?

Can I do things differently now?  Dissecting the problem always brings me back to the causal chain, it just is what it is.  I thought I'd be able to figure it out eventually.  I thought it was just a matter of hanging in there, getting through it.. but there's nothing to get through.  This is it.  Nothing ever pans out.   Its always my fault one way or another.  Its supposedly my life and all, but I don't remember picking it out.

The Omnitrope sure isn't working any instant miracles, but there's still reason to maintain hope.  It's not like a drug that has an effect.  It's supplementing a deficiency, so results can be extremely gradual.  Though it's nothing miraculous, I am feeling a somewhat better - which can mean that it's not enough to overcome inertia, but maybe I'll handle future opportunities better than past ones.  Maybe if I just hang in there.

Not feeling it, though.   It's not enough to fundamentally change the equation.

I put my fist through quite a few walls, as a kid.  I knew my life was coming off the rails, and couldn't do a thing about it.  Now, I can't even imagine where those rails are supposed to be.  All that's long gone, but I keep going back to it, because I have no idea where else to go.  Beneath it all, still that kid, putting his fist through walls.  I somehow managed to fail at growing up.  How does that even happen.  Given the chance to do it all over again, there's no reason to believe I'd really have any more success.

At the very least, I wish I could just be laid back and positive about it all.  What different does it make.. but no, I don't even get to be that person.

Thursday, October 20, 2016

what is this I don't even

I started keeping a journal when I was about eleven.  I've been writing in it pretty much ever since, though it's taken various forms.  Why?  What am I trying to accomplish?  Am I succeeding?

I'm basically taking notes, scribbling out anything that seems noteworthy.  I must have learned fairly young that it might be a useful technique for figuring out what the fuck is going on. A way of sorting my tangled thoughts, filing them away, in case I need them later. 

It is amazing to me, how much of my life I don't remember.  There's a highlight reel, but what was I doing on Oct. 20th, 2015?  Who the hell knows.  I'm not sure I can recall anything specific that occurred in last year's entire month of October, but if I check what I was writing about, that will probably help.

As I started posting my rambling online, it also became a social act.  Ideally, I hope for others to come along, similarly confounded by life, looking to share notes.  An impulse to reach out for social structure, for reassurance, to figure things out together.  A normal impulse, that plays out somewhat differently for me.

Maybe I'm just crazy, though.  I don't even want to pretend to know, anymore.  Just keep doing what I'm doing, and ah, fuck it.  Whatever.

Sunday, October 16, 2016

the logistics of attention

My computer is offline for a few days.  The CPU fan died, now I'm waiting for the parts to fix it.  In the meantime, I'm using my Note4.  Not as flashy as a Note7, but at least it won't blow my fingers off, right as I'm about to type something brilliant.

What was I talking about?  Ah, right.  Attention.  That's why I title my posts before I even start the entry.  I often need the reminder. 

Sometimes I think this might be the product of wandering the information superhighway all these years.  I'm told it's not even called that anymore.  In any case, there does seem to be a fair bit of evidence suggesting that it might be detrimental to some elements of concentration, focus, attention.

But you know me, I've got to ask what those words even mean.  I want to know which molecules and receptors need the duct tape.  I'm skeptical of the conventional wisdom, which has something to do with just sucking it up and trying harder.  It just doesn't add up.   Responsibility.  Some of us just make the perplexing choice to be incompetent.

Sometimes I think that if I took a break from my PC, it would surely help.  It is a crutch, and crutches can be hard to let go of.  We come to depend on them.  That's what a crutch is all about, right?

So, sometimes we need to have them fail, to realize we can walk without them.  Although, we tend to forget that often people use crutches because they do in fact need them.  I just find myself doing nothing at all.  I don't know that it makes much sense, blaming computers for my deeply entrenched impulse to do literally nothing all day every day.

I'm think there might be a correlation between motivation and attention.  To be focused on the world in front of you, because you're going somewhere therein - as opposed to being lost in thought, drifting through the world not being paid attention to.  At least not in an immediate direct sense.

We speak of an attention deficit, or absent-mindedness, but it's really more a matter of attention redirected.  The mind isn't absent, it's just chronically busy with something else.. and not having my computer doesn't seem to be helping, after all.

Thursday, October 13, 2016

it was a dark and stormy night

I first did LSD in my early twenties.  Not a lot, but a handful of times.  It can be pretty intense, so I didn't like doing more than once every few months or so.  Once, we were able to get mushrooms instead, but that was the extent of my psilocybin experience back then.

For a variety of reasons, the LSD use tapered off after a few years, and I didn't do much else for maybe ten years or so.  It wasn't until I moved to Chicago that I discovered how much can be found online, these days.  From seeds and spores that circumvent the law, to the array of security and privacy software you need to learn how to use, to wade into the dark web.  I experimented a bit.

Even tried a new and largely untested one, 25i-NBOMe - that seems a bit reckless, in retrospect.  These chemicals go straight into the wiring of our minds.  I think it's probably a good idea to have at least some evidence that they don't do any lasting harm, before using ourselves as guinea pigs.  I prefer those that have been widely used for decades, or even millennia.

I seem to be drawn towards playing with the dials, distorting perception and cognition every which way, just to see what happens.  I wouldn't even say I enjoy it, usually.  I've had a few good trips, but most of them were just really interesting.  Crazy, fascinatingly mind-blowing.  Although, sometimes it's a bit like wandering out into the woods on a pitch black night, to jump into a cold lake.  Just to see what happens.  That is, probably not fun, per se.  Sometimes it takes a week or two for me to feel mentally prepared.

Once I feel ready for the impending shock, I dive into these experiences with a sense of curiosity, really not knowing what to expect, or how to plan for it, but having the idea that some degree of planning can be important.  That it can make all the difference between a trip being enjoyable or not.  Beneficial or not.  Each time, as the effects entangle me, I'm looking to figure out what's going on, exactly, and how best to utilize it.  To understand the world, myself, my mind, my life.

This might be why my impulse is to immediately jot down all my experiences, but I've realized doing that has a strong influence on how the trip goes.  That is, writing steers the trip in a particular direction, changing the experience.  As does just about everything we do.  The trick seems to be in learning, in what ways, exactly.  A common impulse for someone feeling overwhelmed by a psychedelic is to curl up as comfortably as possible, in the dark.  Maybe even alone. This will make for a particular sort of experience, and generally speaking, isn't a great idea.

Likewise, writing, dancing, religious ceremony, socializing, meditating, watching the clouds or watching a movie.  A trip can go all sorts of ways, depending on how it's navigated, but being wound up in the middle of it, it can be difficult to remember what's a good idea, what isn't, and why.  It's easy to fall back on innate impulses that can undermine the experience, but I've found it to be a matter of practice.  I've gotten better at it, but there are always unexpected twists and turns.

As I start getting back into this stuff again, it's interesting how the trips vary given the very different place I am, in my life.  It makes for a different experience.  New ropes to learn.  I wouldn't say my last trip was a bad one, but it was pretty rough.  I came out of it feeling I'd made some progress.  Maybe a more recreational experience wouldn't have felt that way.  I don't know.  Guess that's another thing to try figuring out.

Friday, September 23, 2016

everything I know, I learned from video games

Maybe not everything, but as a substantial component of my whole life, gaming has naturally been part of how I experience the world.  Before video games, I was disturbed by the "ages 10 and over" printed on my Player's Handbook.  Not the dumbed down basic Dungeons and Dragons handbook either, but Advanced Dungeons and Dragons.  I didn't think pouring over that at eight years old was so inappropriate that there should be a warning label against it.  It wasn't really the sort of gaming that appealed to me as I got older, though.

I also remember the attraction to a game like Pong.  A few pixels simulating the tossing of a ball back and forth, much simpler in gameplay than even table tennis.  Just hit the dot back and forth.. and yet, being drawn towards even that.  For a while.. I've also lost all interest in countless games, since then.  Far more elaborate and interesting games, now so much more dull and unappealing than trying pong for the first time.

There are two variables that seem to factor most heavily into that.  First, there's the novelty of it.  The fact that I was experiencing something new.  In modern games, they're often entertaining, until they become entirely predictable.  Once we've experienced everything of interest there is to experience in the game.  As the likelihood diminishes of anything new and interesting happening, it feels more and more like a waste of time.  In terms of the unconscious mechanics of that, it could be that I'm no longer learning anything.  The draw towards novelty could be a biological driver for the learning of new things.  That we hijack, in a sense, to entertain ourselves by learning things that aren't actually all that useful, or even real.

The other variable though, is in the difficulty.  There are some games that will always provide a challenge, and they tend to have more greater longevity.  Other games become trivially easy, once you've spent enough hours getting the hang of their mechanics.  This is where even a game like pong can have a draw, despite appearing entirely familiar within a matter of seconds.  This probably goes more to the central core of what gaming is primarily about for some of us.  Appealing to the impulse to test our skills.  To fail, and try again.  To get better at something.

There may be a correlation with dominance and alpha behavior, an impulse to take the bull by the horns, just to say that we could... hijacked also, rechanneled by playing harmless games.  No tormenting of bulls required.  The underlying mechanism behind what gaming strives to appeal to though, being the impulse to take on a challenge, to get better, to make progress towards greater challenges.

When we're not making progress, when we're not practicing skills or learning anything new, when we're just going through the motions to stave off boredom, it can feel like a waste of time.  A good video game though?  That can trick the brain into thinking it's making superb use of its time.

Is being tricked by evolutionary biology really any better though?

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

skittle bowl refugees

Most people would run like hell from the prospect of risking themselves to save others.  Most people are terrible.  Least, as far as I understand people to be.  Sure, they're relatively nice to friends and family, but beyond that, most people are essentially psychopaths.  How much is "most" really, I don't know. Half?  Nine out of ten?  Two or three in ten, but it feels like most because I'm such a bitter old cynic?

It's difficult not to be biased about it.  Look at the people we've known, how many of them acted like self-centered pricks, figure that's probably a reasonable cross-section of humanity to call it close enough.  Or, you could look at the sorts of things people say on the internet, the people who aren't in your social circles.  Would that be more accurate?  It certainly skews perspective in the other direction.  At best, we take in as much data as we can, and call it from that.

I think most people are terrible.  Well, roughly half, with a lot of murky grey area in between.  Grey area which I'm still inclined to call terrible.  I think it's just how evolution's played out, though.  On the most basic level, we're all coded by the simple causality of it, to put our own interest above all others.  Doing so is simply, reductively, more Darwinistically effective than not doing so.

At least, until you add another level of complexity, where that straightforward rule gets causally outmaneuvered.  Groups of people who are inclined to help the group, even when doing so results in sacrificing themselves, also had the better chance of survival overall.  It was their genetic traits which proliferated, often over those groups which were prone to collapse when environmental stressors forced too many selfish decisions.  When group dynamics were critical.

Nature works in fuzzy ways though.  This isn't a binary distinction.  It runs along a continuum, from one end of the spectrum to the other.  At different times, and in different places, different proportions of these counterbalancing factors have been more or less effective.  We don't know which genes might be responsible, and what the biological mechanism might actually be - but chances are pretty good that it's something that quantifiably varies.

Some people are just going to be more altruistic than others, but there's also going to be a natural tendency towards thinking people at different places on the continuum are fundamental threatening our very existence.  The coding that tells us that the other side is wrong is there because it was an effective survival measure.  In our genetic experience, their side got everyone killed.

[the random facebook post that came across my feed, which inspired this]

Sunday, September 18, 2016

metamorphosis.

Why do I ask odd questions, like what it means to best utilize time?  Am I just picking random quirky subjects to pontificate uselessly about?  Heh, no.  That would be annoying, right?  No, to sort out cart from horse, here- I notice this irrational undercurrent to my neurotic angst,  a sense of wasting time.  It seems to underpin some of the issues I have.

I want to understand what it is that's really bothering me so much, because on its face, it doesn't make a whole lot of sense.  So, I blog about it.  It can be messy and awkward, it can be terrible writing, but sorting through it like this is what I do.  I often go weeks without speaking to anyone.  When I finally do, it's a cashier, or something.  I don't socialize at all.  Instead of talking to myself, I blog.  It would be great if this produced anything of value, but I'm not exactly counting on it.

So, I get into these odd questions, as if I'm lending them an importance and then getting all worked up over it.  No, if this weren't something that were really bothering me, I wouldn't be thinking about it, let alone writing about it.  I might be discussing it with people, in some universe where people have those sorts of discussions, but if I have to choose between talking to myself the way that I do, or talking to them, the way that they do?  I'll keep my solitude, thanks.

It also helps keep me awake.  It's possible that the struggle to stay awake has shaped a whole lot of how I've spent my time, over the years.  Maybe it's why I stopped doing all sorts of things.  Almost everything put me to sleep, because I was always on the edge of sleep anyhow.  A gradual calcification of poor habits, an atrophy of strengths, a slow metamorphosis into this.

This incessant fatigue is exactly what being on GH is supposed to help with, most of all.  I have been feeling somewhat better this past week.  Oddly so.. but I'm also anxious.  It's a relatively subtle change.  I don't know how temporary.  The old baseline always seems to come creeping back.  A bit like an anti-placebo effect, I'm very skeptical, but I'm also feeling better for the time being, and that's not nothing.

My entire life, from how I live to how I think, a product of feeling the way I have.  That's not going to change all that easily, or maybe even all that much, but still, finally feeling somewhat better is not nothing.

Wednesday, September 14, 2016

atman

So, after sifting through all that, I am struck by a few things.  First of all, I can see how someone reading it might get the impression that I wasn't really tripping at all.  Just going on like I always do, with maybe a little more fluidity and random jumping around.  It was well within my experience of what shrooms do to me, though.  

I don't really hallucinate much, per se.  I just think a lot, I get really focused.  If I stare at a pattern on the carpet, I might notice that it's moving.  Faces might look oddly caricaturized and alien.  I might notice quirks in colors and lighting. I guess these are hallucinations.  I just don't seem to care that much about them, as they're happening.  I'm too obsessively distracted by this philosophical problem I'm trying to solve. 

Shrooming also skews my perspective in strange ways, and seems to make me prone to making odd logical leaps, assumptions, and conflating incoherent details.  Given my familiarity with all that, I've become somewhat resistant to it, but still left with the obsessive focus.  It was a solid trip though.  It could have been stronger, but it could also have been much weaker.  I was decently fucked up.

Another takeaway though, is the recurring concept by which I conflate the imperative for living, thriving, with the more easily brutalized imperative to believe in who we are.  As if to suggest that part of why I live the way I do, is because this is where my sense of identity has lead me.  That honestly, it hasn't all been about circumstances dumping me here.  I have made a lot of choices along the way too - and call me crazy, but I'm inclined to stand by them.

Not in the sense that this is exactly where I wanted to end up, but that, the manner in which I navigated my life circumstances has been the playing out of all the moving parts that coalesce into my sense of self.   Suggesting that my sense of survival is threatened by the prospect that I might be wrong in some personally fundamental way.  We can be wrong, we can learn and grow, but that if I keep making the same sorts of choices, maybe I don't really think I'm wrong.  

It's not really about being right or wrong, though.  It's about being me.  Believing in being me.  This natural impulse might become hypervigilant after being heavily threatened.  A learned response, as opposed to just this stupid thing I do.  Even the hypervigilance then becomes something that I can believe in, even if it might not appear to be the most healthy approach.  Not a good choice, in an isolated abstract view, but in the context of everything else, a very sensible choice.

It was a bit like an intense therapy session, trying to bolster my own mental health.  Maybe I did have a plan, after all.

Tuesday, September 13, 2016

hypergraphic as fuck

What is it to want to utilize time?  Make the most of it.  Make the most of a trip, or a free afternoon, or a spare few decades?  Not to deride the impulse, but what is it really?  What is boredom?  Why does it go away, if I just go lay down?  How is that always a good use of time, as far as this underlying brain process goes?

Preparing for when I might want to use it later.  Maybe I'll have something figured out by then.  I guess sometimes I do.  Ok, I need to shop or whatever.  Good thing I'm rested.. but what is it, to get stuck in a loop, where life is 99% preparing for mundane little tasks I might have to do?  At that point, am I really preparing because it's needed, or undermining my ability to even do the little things, because I've become so accustomed to resting?  This is an easy conclusion to draw, from a random cross-section of my experience, where it all looks crazy.  What are you doing?  Go out and do stuff, and you'll be more accustomed to doing stuff!  Without seeing the countless ways in which, oh, going and doing stuff hasn't worked out that well.  I've learned to stop doing it to myself.

Resting and preparation is about trying to find some way of making it go better in the future, because the way it went back when I had all sorts of stuff to do, taught me that it wasn't a good idea.  Am I the same person decades later?  That is the question, right?  Shrooming doesn't seem to answer it.  I don't have all sorts of stuff to do now.  I don't know if I could handle it.  I don't know if the bare minimum of stuff I do would be better replaced with a more busy schedule.  The answer sometimes feels like a very resounding no, but who can say for sure.  That resounding no is reinforced by fear.  Maybe not.  Maybe that would be awful, and then what.  I still have all this shit to do, after working so hard to get my life to the point where I can waste 99% of it trying to feel better.  It is a waste, right?  Do I know that?  Am I succeeding?  Failing?  Can I do anything differently, even if I want to?

These are all the sort of automatic questions I ask myself, without really thinking about it.  Sometimes I think maybe I should get into taking a better look at those questions.  Why not.  I have all this free time I've set aside to do it.

I have no idea.  I don't know if the way other people live is better.  I don't know if they have anything to offer me as far as solutions go.  I don't know if I'm doing the best that I can, or fucking everything up.  In a sense, we all might have these doubts, these concerns, should we look to others?  Or are they even more clueless, because it's not their lives being asked about?  We all cobble together an approach that tries to do some of both.  We lean on each other a bit, we depend on our own devices, we stumble through the hurricane as best we can.

This is brilliant and all, but it's a simplification.  It sounds nice.  I don't know if it really address the question, when you get into specifics regarding why some people do way better at navigating than others.  We all do what we can, that's a great catch all, but specifically, in regards to my life, what should I be doing?

I can't ask anyone.  Nobody has any idea.  Not really.  It seems nobody possibly could.  Should I take their lousy advice anyhow, out of desperation?  That seems like a bad plan.  I've tried it.  Hasn't gone well.  Shouldn't need to keep doing it to understand why.

So what can I do?  Well, I am trying.  I'm always trying.  Whether I'm just keeping it together day to day, or trying to get more exercise or deal with doctors, take vitamins, meditate, clean my apartment.  I am trying.

What do you think I'm doing?  Is it good enough?  For what?  Do I really need to be moving forward more quickly?  Proving something to someone?  Myself?  That I am trying?  Is that really a good reason to do more?  It is, if it's the mechanism by which I do more, when I would benefit by doing more.

Since I don't even know what "more" is, should I really be worrying about it?  I just know that taking it slow and steady, chugging along as best I can.. next thing I know, years have passed.  I lose touch with people, because I was in my own little holding pattern.

That's a random tangent, isn't it?  What does it mean, to ask how people are doing regularly?  To get these constant little updates, so that they don't slip away.  Like everyone does.  Because I let them.  Or is that too self-centric.  They let me.

Ok, that's fine, everyone has that right, but if the common denominator is me, it's me that I should probably be concerned about.  Random people can go their own way, but if everyone is leaving me to my solitude, there might be something I could be doing differently.

What does this have to do with feeling better?  Living life more fully?  What do other people have to do with living life more fully?  Is that what I'm asking myself, really?

It's fine to question assumptions, but to overlook answers simply for being obvious is probably not smart.  I'd like to be a part of other people's lives.  I'd like to see their kids grow up, and stand around awkwardly like part of the family..?

It's normal that I want to be a part of that, to feel more connected with life.. but it might also be normal that I let it go, because standing around awkwardly on the outskirts might not be the best solution.  It's a healthy impulse, and yet also a healthy impulse to avoid, given the realities of it.. and what I come up with is that all these different causal factors are actually kind of sound.  I'm doing the best I can, in a very specific sense.

It just doesn't have the greatest outcome.  The outcome actually kind of sucks, as I watch it all slip away, but that's life.  If I'm doing the best I can, maybe I shouldn't worry about it so much.  It will slip away.  That's what life does.  It could be better.  A whole lot better.  That's how life goes, too.  That doesn't mean I'm doing anything wrong, or that I need to try harder.  Maybe I just need to relax.

See, but the chorus of other people's opinions rains down on me.  I relax more than anyone ever!  I can't possibly need to relax even more!  All those people who I've kept out of my life, so that I could better relax.  I suppose it makes sense that they wouldn't see the logic of what I'm doing.. but that doesn't mean that they're right.  I don't know.  I'm doing the best I can.

I can keep saying that until it's true, right?  I've been fighting them all back, my whole life, and then wondering where they all went.  This all makes sense, but for this one kernal of a question.  Are they right?  Or am I?

These people, these voices, do they even exist?  I am assuming.  Their actual opinions could vary all over the place, and maybe I do push them away, when that's not even what they think.  I have no idea.  I think it's a good guess.  I've heard it a lot.  I get hyper-reactionary to hearing it again.  It can't be right.  Maybe I need to be more self-assured in that, to better face it incessently coming up.

It's not that simple.  I cna't just restructure my entire life to do more stuff, to appease some overarching idea that this is what I should be doing.  Wait, isn't that what everyone does?  I don't know.  Maybe.  They grow into it though.  It doesn't fall into place, there's a whole organic process by which people get eachother to do more stuff, and I'm not even sure it's a good thing.

I can concede that it might be.  I can certainly see the merits of it.  I can also see that it's a whole array of data points that don't match up to my life.  You can't just "start somewhere" just to do more stuff like everyone else, because that's the healthy thing to do.. because everyone else is so happy and healthy?  No, actually they're not.  Not everyone.

Maybe more people would be better served by chilling the fuck out, instead.  I don't know.  I keep coming back to this.  I don't know about anyone else.  I don't even know about my self.  I've barely got this sorted out.  Every situation is different.

Or is it.  Have I been led astray by this very sort of thinking?  They would cheer, yes!  Yes!  Listen to us!  Where does that come from, to be so assured that we not only know what we're doing with our own lives, but we know what someone else should do with theirs?

Here's where I'd ask if it's just a chemical difference, but that's not just a pointless question.  Is it a difference based in chemistry or the logic we largely assume?  The geneology of better ideas?  Do what other people say, until your life goes well enough that you can tell other people what to do?

There is a logic to that, but it's also one that *can* go awry.  Operating mechnically, overlooking details, driving things in the wrong direction.  That does happens all the time.  Just not enough to be Darwinistically wrong.

A mechanic to be wary of.  It seems to yield bad advice, but it's also got persistance built into it.  Keep going! right?  Right over a cliff sometimes, but oops, the advice is still generally sound.  Just try not to be the one driven over the cliff by it.

I almost never read this stuff later.  I guess, because I'm afraid it will be disappointing.  I hope for it to be rich with brilliant or at least novel ideas, but it's just drivel.  On and on.  Each idea more interesting to me, at the time.  Even the most mundane.  That I think they'll be interesting later.. maybe they are though.  I'm not sure.

I should at least try reading it.  I think what I might find though is that it's the same old things I think every day.  All laid out, as if it's something new, that I really need to remember.  To some extent, this is what I always do, right?  Blogging? I've been saying the same things my whole life.  It's all the same.  Or is it?

Question every idea, - or, for fucks sake, why do I question every damn little thing?  No it's not interesting!  To me it is?  Really?  Are you sure?  I don't know what else to do.  Tell me what to do, so I can say that's a terrible idea, and go back to doing this.

It FEELS like this is how I always think.  The difference is in the fire that has me writing it all down.  Not in the thoughts themselves.  That impulse might still be valuable, just not in the way it seems.  That can be decided later.. but maybe I never will.  Never decide anything, because I'm never really sure.  Just have to default to being me, I guess.

That's what we all do, right?  That's what you always say.  Others might differ.  We go over this all the time.  You say that I guess we're all just different flowers, with our own little worldviews, based on a myriad of complexities that made it that way.. and they say no, you stupid fuck.  Get a damn job!  Go to school, do something!  Stop making excuses!  You're worthless the way that you are.  It literally isn't good for anything, and you even make yourself miserable.  We're just trying to help you, but we've all abandoned you, because you never listen.  You just drive us away.. because you never accepted me.

You never valued me, the way that I am.  You don't.  You're happy to leave me alone, right?  People are dishonest.  They don't like to admit that ok, that's a little fucked up.  Maybe that does go sideways, to a dangerous degree, when we drive it too hard.. so they all leave.  and I get so lonely, I pretend they're still harassing me.

When I'm on shrooms, I feel objective.  I think this is just how all the pieces fit together.  This is just how it is.  That seemed revelatory to me once.. but now I question it.  Do I just want to think this is how the pieces fit, because I'm do desperate to stop trying?

Always looking for an excuse to just let go, and that's really the pinnacle of such an excuse.  Does that make me wrong?  Does that make me wrong on a personal level, and more broadly, how does that apply to everyone else?  Are my ideas of significance to anyone else's life?  Are they more right, in consensus?  Right, just for me?  Or more broadly, kind of wrong?  How the hell am I supposed to know?

This is what I mean, when I say that everyone is different.  We're not all special flowers.  I mean that we make sense of things as best we can, and that is naturally going to vary all over the place, given all the differences in our lives.  It's not that nobody's ideas are right, and nobodies are wrong, but that right and wrong isn't the bottom line.  Can we see the difference? Can we follow it?  We will try.  That's what we do.  We get it wrong a lot.  Such is life.

Don't give up, but don't think it really matters all that much, either.  It's organic.  It grows where it can.  It withers where it can't.  We do our best to move toward the light, and we hold onto whatever niche we can find.

Being objective about that isn't giving up.  It's about manipulating the precise situation with as much finesse as I can manage, because it hasn't gone that well for me.  I'm still alive though.  By some very rational measures, I'm just doing what life does, and to berate me for that is silly.  So are you.  It just went differently, in your case.

This is not glib excuse making.  It's nice that I question everything, and give everyone their chance to possibly have a good point.  It's nice that I doubt myself, instead of barrelling on through one terrible idea after another.. but objectively speaking.  Stupid people shouting that life is simple are probably so wrong.

They can't even raise houseplants.  Seriously.  Many of them can't.  Respect their views, but if you think yours isn't comparable?  I don't need to make sweeping generalizations about how they're all idiots, but there is a very good chance my ideas are better than theirs.  Objectiely speaking, I can be totally right, but life can still suck.  Objectively speaking, I could listen to their bad advice, and make it worse.  I probably shouldn't do that.

I should probably stop feeling bad about myself, too.  I might be wrong, yeah.  We all know people who would say that I am.  Investing further in who I am just seems to make more sense than dumping that, to invest in someone else's questionable ideas at this point in my life.  It makes sense for me to continue growing the way I have been.  It is, most likely, the best available course.

No, there isn't any way to be sure of that.  Yes, there are some very undesirable components to that, but you don't upheave everything to repot a plant, unless you have somewhere better to put it.  What I did do, moving to Vermont, basically amounts to repotting, and what I'm doing now amounts to making the best of that, given some very damaged roots.

It is extraordinary, the amount of energy I expend feeling bad about the views of people who rarely even bother expressing them.  They might think I'm wrong.  They might admit they don't really know.  They would probably agree that they don't actually care all that much, not only making it a silly thing to worry about, but drastically increasing the chances of them being wrong, anyhow.

So I spend all this energy fighting it off, like some weed that keeps taking root in my own psyche.. so much so, that it even says, are you fighting off bad ideas, really?  Or do you know we're right, and you've always been wrong about everything?  Do you know?  Are you sure?  because if you're not sure, we're never going away.  The people propogating these terrible ideas are certainly never going to stop doing so, even as they grow increasingly irrelevant to me personally.

I feel denied a proper battle, to see whose ideas are really worse.  This is a normal fighting spirit.  We want our own ideas to be strong, and to prosper.  Is it really about which is right?  Or is it just about self-preservation?  Is it really that one plant is better than another, or just about making sure that the plant we have thrives?  I don't need to go kill their ideas to accomplish that, but I do need to make sure they stop undercutting my own.

This is me.  This is not an ethical statement, or a logical statement.  I'm just trying to live.  In all likelyhood, I'm going to keep doing that, and I'm going to do it as effectively as I can.  I don't have to be better than everyone else.  I don't have to be better than anyone else.  I don't have to prove anything.  I just have to live..

No, I'm not always going to be content with that, and it may even go very badly, but all available evidence sure seems to suggest that I'm doing the best that I can.. and that isn't going to always make me feel better.

We aren't coded to be happy with taking a defensive posture.  Just holding out, against the onslaught of everyone else.  No, we want to be right, we want to spread, and prevail, beyond ourselves.  I don't know though.  This world is crazy.  I have no idea what makes sense for anyone else.

Maybe this makes my ideas weak, but objectively speaking, that's understandable, too.  I'm radically outnumbered, and should be happy to even have the means to take up a defensible position.

It's a strange feeling, to think so much has occurred, as the rest of the world doesn't even notice.  Much occurred in some of their lives, too.  Not so much, in others.  The epic tales of each of our lives, played out on a stage we alone can see.  Some of us, more alone than others.

I want to shy away from that.  It sounds sad and theatrical.  Don't sound sad.  Melodramatic.  All these value judgements people have.  These are just different types of people, trying to thrive in their own way.

If your way is to be melodramatic, so be it.  Some aren't going to like that.  Some are.  I don't know why I always have to try to distill everything into something greater than that.  It has to be right.  It has to be logically sound, and defensible, and covered with teeth and spikes.

I'm not supposed to admit that I'm just scared.  I'm just trying to live.  Me.  The person that I am.  I don't even know who or what that is exactly. I just have the sense that it should be able to grow in whichever paths it finds most natural.

This isn't always true.  Sometimes you want to force growth a certain, to create a stronger plant.. but sometimes you just want the damn thing to be able to survive.  Before you can even think about anything like that.

Given that I'm so unsure of the sort of plant I'm even dealing with here, maybe that's not such an unrealistic concern.  There are so many data points.  So much that goes into making us who we are, so many variables that we assess to make our decisions.  It's impossible to juggle all of it.  We just try the best we can, given the means life has so far provided us with.

Why am I constantly trying to tell myself that it's all ok.  Reassuring myself.  Does this mean I'm afraid it's not ok?  Is this a crack through which someone else's ideas might take root instead?  Of course.. but it's also a pretty solid wall.  I've worked hard on it.  That may very well have been the most sensible thing I could do, all things considered.

I want this to go somewhere, but it just goes in circles.  Right?  Have I come up with any answers at all, really?  Maybe I should just meditate.  Try to be silent.

My head is like a constant torrent of questions.  Are they my questions?  Someone else's?  People I've known, things I've read, some of them makes more sense than others.. but it's endless.  The impulse to write seems to be this idea that if I can get it down, if I can answer.. it will stop.

Are they good questions or not?  Another question.  Round and round foever, as far as I can tell.  Least, until it stops.  Maybe I should try to make it just stop.  Breath.  Focus on the breath.  Let the mind catch its own tale.

 * * *

..So, not only is that really difficult, but it puts me to sleep when I succeed.  How many times has that bitten me in the ass.  I can relax.  It'll be fine..  only to wake up later having missed something I really didn't want to miss.  Meditating without that happening is a good skill to practice, but now may not be the ideal time for it.  I want to see what I can accomplish, I might try again later, but for now, the risk of just slipping into lala land seems too great.

"It's fine.  Sleep.  Why not.  Do what you feel like doing."  Yeah, great.  40 years later.  Fuck you.  Or at the very least, I don't want my trip to vanish into the night, with that sort of whimper.  It's all about experience, and not squandering it.

All drugs are, right?  Isn't that what addiction is all too often about?  Trying to live.  Trying to break up the monotony of numbness, of being the same old me, day in, day out.  I want to feel more than that.  People turn to different drugs, for reasons that put very different sorts of spins on the longing for experience, but that is the loose premise so much of it boils down to right?

This is why you put an addict in rat park, and suddenly they don't want the drug.  They just wanted to do things.  They want to experience more than the situation that they're in, internally, externally, and sometimes drugs are the only way to do that.  This is why the worst addicts do more and more, combining them, taking risks.. anything to live more fully, than the shit they face every day.  We even risk our lives, if we feel we're not really living, anyhow.

In part, it's a problem of familiarity.   The brain processes new information differently.  It needs to sort it out.  It focuses.  It questions.  It experiences.

Once we know it's safe, we know how to handle it, we know what we're dealing with.. the brain is coded to settle down.  Do what it learned.  Go through the motions, no need to hyper-analyze everything.  No need to feel everything.  Whatever the case may be, in a given brain's particular manner of acquiring familiarity.  Once we know it well, it all starts to blur together.  We barely even remember it.

So, the question is, can we train the mind to live more fully?  If that's what we're really going for, can it be done without drugs?  That's like asking if it can be done without physically living more fully.  Can it also be done without being given a rat park to play in?

Or, should we learn to be ok with the quiet shutting down of our senses.  The going to sleep.  Letting life slip away unlived.  That's what it feels like.  Can we convince ourselves that it's ok?  Go to sleep?  You're alive until you're not, and all your fussing over living "more" is just silly?

I don't know.  More questions.. but at least the questions keep me awake.  I don't know if it's objectively superior, this struggle to live more fully, or the struggle to calm the fuck down.  I just do what I can to try to understand it.

How many great ideas were honestly born of solitude, anyhow?  How many people come up with answers just tossing questions around on their own?  My impulse to summon phantoms to argue with makes sense, too.  Not ideal, but I am making do.

Asking questions of imaginary idiots, to keep myself awake.  It's absurd right.. but how many things look absurd, when looked at from absurd angles.  And make sense, when you look at them more seriously.

Maybe I'm not really trying to answer anything.  I'm just trying to milk as much life from living as I can.  This is not the most normal way of going about it, but this is why I don't choose the most normal drugs to accomplish that.  Alcoholics are trying to live more fully, in a different sort of way.  A way in which I can, at times, appreciate also.  I can also appreciate the push for more and more, and being plastered yet again starts to feel all too familiar.

I did get carried away.. not just sometimes, but too regularly.  I haven't had any beer (or anything harder) in a few weeks.  I think I might be better off without it.  I feel like I understand addiction, without completely losing myself to it, but it gets sketchy sometimes.

Am I better off without cannabis, too?  Well, I'd say that it does have some benefits, aside from just feeding the craving to suck the life out of living.  It would be much more valuable to be able to use in moderation, than to not do at all.. but yes, I struggle with moderation.  I'm having some success though.  I realize I got carried away for a while, and have scaled it back.

This tangent on addiction really brings me back full circle, as well as ties together a running theme.  I'm trying to make the best use of the time I have.  I'm just trying to live.  More.  Who isn't?

Monday, September 12, 2016

laziest artist ever

Writing is one of the only things I seem to be able to motivate myself to do.  The catch is that I have to write this drivel.  I'm writing more of it lately, because I've lost interest in politics for the time being.  I have to write about something though, so I just babble about my issues or whatever.  Maybe some good will come of it.

Sometimes I worry that it isn't anything worth reading, but that's not really why I do it.  It just comes easily to me.  I don't have to set my superego up with a bullhorn and a cattle prod.  I just think maybe I'll write something, and so I do.  Not much else works that way for me.

I used to draw that way, too.  I tried to transition to painting, to get more serious about my artwork, but that seemed to ruin it.  Painting required too much stuff.  Too much preparation, too much money, too much physical space taken up by every lousy painting.  I hit these little speed bumps, and I'm all, ah, fuck it.  Too much work.

I did clean my apartment today, though.  Even vacuumed, which isn't something I've done in years.  Took a little bit of internal yelling and prodding, but not too bad.  I wonder if I'm feeling better.  I wonder if I'll be able to tell the difference if I am.

Sunday, September 11, 2016

psychoanalytic self-portraiture

I guess that in some ways, I do still believe that it all comes down to a better understanding of ourselves.  Whether we're trying to understand the meaning of life, or figure out how to overcome our neurosis, to accomplish whatever nonsense we think we need to accomplish.  I often come back to trying to understand myself.  What is it that I'm really looking for?  What's going on under the hood, behind the contrived facade, orchestrating my intent to go this way or that?

I desperately want to understand motivation.  I want to understand why it sometimes involves actually doing things, and other times it just fizzles out.  I want to understand this in scientific terms.  I might think it were obvious, if it weren't going so sideways in my case.

Sometimes I get this glimpse into an underlying process by which I seem to feel that if I'm not enjoying myself, I'm wasting time.   As in, whatever precious time I've got left in this sputtering life, I don't want to waste it doing dishes.  It's not a rational thought.  I know that.  It's childish and annoying.  It's not a thought that passes through my rational mind, though.  It's something I can see, beneath the surface, where I don't know how to get at it.

So I get maddeningly impatient, I have trouble focusing, etc. Is the thought a product of chemistry, or does the thought have some influence over the chemistry?  If the thought is just a product of causes, this negates the issue of its influence.  It doesn't matter what else a thought in turn causes, because that thought is going to happen, regardless.  It's being caused by something else.

Maybe not everyone believes in the concept of an unconscious mind, or that it's quite so major a part of the equation. It seems almost indisputable to me, so I assume most would agree.. and then wonder why we don't agree on much of anything, in which that fundamental distinction is predicated.

Sometimes I do the dishes anyhow.  Sometimes easily.  Sometimes with some degree inner crying and whining about it, that I get over.  Sometimes, not now, no fucking way.  Not due to any notable pattern in mood, other than the basic ability to get up and do something I don't feel like doing.  I want to know what that variable is, and how I might somehow apply CPR.

Some of my problems are trickier than dishes.

Saturday, September 10, 2016

neurotypically speaking

I've often wondered what the world would be like, if we could even get a glimpse of how other people experience it.  I think most of us would be shocked at just how much it varies.  I strongly suspect that experiencing the world as someone else for a while would make for one hell of a trip.

We have these countless little dials, everything that impacts us, everything we value, everything we assume to be objectively significant, but must vary in degrees from person to person.  Dials that within a certain range, are considered well within the margin of sanity.  Yet, can really vary all over the place.

From the moment we open our eyes, what's it like to get up in the morning?  We have morning people, morning-hating people, and people with bi-polar mania, OCD, and severe clinical depression.  What happens when a "morning person" gets to experience what it's like to wake up suicidal?  To truly be trapped in that entirely different mindset?  Would it change their opinions and behavior towards people who don't get going quite as easily as they do?  Every moment, of every day, we experience the world through all these personal parameters.  None being objective or factual.  Nothing that science can help up to come to any concrete consensus on.  Sanity is basically just defined as the range we're most familiar with.

The assumptions about what we all agree matters.. without really knowing what other people think, aside from what they can communicate, and we can logically infer - but we do so in an inherently biased way, in which we assume others to be neurotypical until they indicate otherwise - and still, we may miss all sorts of signs, because we're so determined to see normalcy ..and how do we define said normalcy, without knowing anyone's experiences but our own?

It all skews toward people assuming the rest of the world is much like themselves.  Even when they're nuts.  Some of us feel well outside the norm for one reason or another, some more accurately so than others, but exactly how far, and in exactly what ways?   It only matters because it's how we seem to define sanity.  Without consensus, what?  Sanity is just whatever we think makes sense?  Even if we're the one who might be nuts?

How much sanity itself matters, like everything else, also varies.  Why would someone care whether they're sane or not?  One way in which it varies, is that some do, more than others.  One possible reason for this being that sanity equates to being aware of reality.  What's actually in front of us, and not some delusion.  In the very simple sense of wanting to be sure that we're not obliviously walking headlong into a wood chipper.  The more concerned a person is about their safety and security, the more they might care about this slippery concept we call sanity.  Why people are more concerned about their safety then varies; the parameters of their amygdala, their experiences, whether they feel the world is generally safe, or not.  Whether they're the sort of person who would care.  All these steps coalesce into very different sorts of worldviews.

I was looking forward to the farmer's market opening this year, as it makes it so much easier to regularly buy fresh ingredients.  It's much closer to where I live than the grocery.  Yet, I only went once all season.  I agonize about going every week, but I'm too neurotic.  I struggle with how personal they are, how person to person.  How I never know what they'll have, so I often need to make decisions on the fly.  With some person standing there in their little stall, smiling at me awkwardly.  Sometimes I just sleep too late, to get there by 2pm, when they close.

Not only that, but last time I saw my cousin, she suggested going to the market together.  Sure, just let me know, one of these Sundays.  Or I'll call you.  Either way.. except we've both got our reasons for never calling.  I don't know what hers are.  I know she's a bit of a shy person herself.. maybe she's waiting for me to call.  Maybe no one told her that I was crazy, and she should probably call me first.  Or she's just been busy.  Who knows.. but I don't call her, why?  I don't know why.  I don't know what to say.  I'm not sure I want to go.  What am I getting myself into.  What if I end up agreeing to be trapped in some hellscape for the rest of eternity.  Or maybe just a few hours in the hot sun.  Same difference.  Or maybe I just can't think of the best way of saying hello.  Really, it's a lot of guesswork trying to figure out why exactly people make me want to barricade myself into my bedroom and never come out again.

Anyhow, it's ridiculous, that this combination of issues I have has resulted in me never going.  It's annoying in the abstract, it's frustrating that I'm basically still a social being, who just can't handle being social.. but it's also a fucking pain in the ass, when it makes it difficult for me to even get some vegetables to make a curry with.  If I could simply cut it the fuck out, I sure as hell would.  There is no way for me to convey what it's like.  Putting it into words never seems to do it.  I don't even believe myself.  It makes no sense.

A paradigm shift in worldview can be as real as anything is.  The massive amount of information bouncing around in our heads, defining everything we think we know.  If only we could swap that out for a while.  Experience what it's like when someone else's twisted reality feels just as real as our own.  Maybe the world would be a much less lonely place.  Least my version of it probably would be.

Sunday, September 4, 2016

building routines

I have nothing to say.  I hate when I have nothing to say.  I feel burned out and withdrawn.  I overthink everything, because I don't understand what I'm going through.  If this is pretty normal, why doesn't anyone else live like me?  I don't understand it.  I don't know what to do about it.  So, I think about it.  A lot.

I'm fine.  Relatively speaking.  Just in some kind of rut.  Is the Omnitrope going to start helping soon?  Am I feeling worse, because I'm no longer deferring self-flagellation?  I just want to have more energy.  The motivation to do things I enjoy doing.  I'm not even aiming particularly high, but I hate being in survival mode.  Every day, more shit I can't deal with, just get through it, hope I feel better tomorrow.  Sometimes I do feel better tomorrow.  Sometimes, I feel worse.  It sure would be nice if I could figure out what makes that difference.

Running is one of the ways I both measure how well I'm doing, as well as give myself something to aim for.  It's one of the easiest rungs to reach, usually, and if I'm at least doing that, I feel like I'm moving in the right direction.. but I've been stumbling a lot.  So far, still too many days, where it just seems like, no fucking way.  Maybe tomorrow.

Cooking is another one, but it requires organization, planning, buying the right groceries, knowing that I'll use them before they perish.  It's more difficult than going for a run.  Lately, I've had to get creative with very little to work with.  When I finally do get shopping, I keep it simple.  I can't be planning anything interesting.  I'm not there, yet.

Another step past that though, would be just being able to read a book.  I don't get why that's become so difficult for me.  I'm not alone in that, really.  There are lots of book hating people out there.  I just wasn't supposed to be one of them.  I wasn't one of them, until I was.  Lots of people hate running, and have no patience for cooking, too.  They often decide they should exercise more, cook more, read more.  They often fail.

This in itself is not uncommon.  What strikes me as less common is for an avid reader to stop reading.  A cooking enthusiast to stop cooking.  Exercising regularly for years, to not exercising at all.  There are elements of pattern, familiarity and ritual to these things people do.  I get so much anxiety about travelling because it disrupts my daily routine, that I've spend months working on building up.  I stop doing things because I lose the continuity of it.   I get back a week later, and should be able to pick up where I left off, but just sort of fall apart instead.

Anyhow, when I have nothing to say, at least I can always overthink why that is.. figure it's a good exercise though.  Maybe if I can get the parts moving, I'll find myself having more to say, tomorrow.  Same reason I run, really.  Just trying like hell to get the parts moving.

Tuesday, August 30, 2016

progressive circles

When I was twenty, I could jog a mile, without breaking a sweat.  After ten years of a rather sedentary adult life, and fifteen years being off somatropin, I found that could barely run half a mile, without feeling like I might be dying.  Though the older grown-ups would laugh at me, for how I have no idea! Try 50, try 60, try 70..

Meh.  At thirty, I knew that old age was upon me.  I knew that it was only the beginning.  I don't want to be a hobbled old man by the age of fifty.  Given the current rate of increase for the average human lifespan, that could be well under half my life still ahead of me, by the year 2035.  On average.  I could even be well ahead of that curve, if I put more effort into it than most people do, just by getting some basic exercise, and eating a rational diet.

Why does that matter?  I've never met a 50 year old, let alone an 80 year old, who would pass up the chance at being physiologically 30 again. ..because they got to be young, already?  That was just plenty, when they had the chance?  That sounds nice and rational, and surely some people might be such paragons of good mental health, but it's not really how it usually pans out.  It doesn't even really make all that much sense.  We're not the same person we were.  What that young version of ourselves had, it's of little consequence to what we want now.  Might as well have been someone else's, but for these fading jumble of memories.

So, when I'm not pondering what it means for something to be mine, my experiences, my body, my mind, my life.. I've been trying.  I found that though I absolutely hate doing it, running seemed to provide the most bang for the buck.  As far as requiring the least amount of time, to get the most benefit to my circulatory system.  Which, in turn benefits every other system.  I'd love to be doing martial arts again too, but in the meantime, running should do the trick well, without requiring more time and attention than I'm willing to spare.  

I'm very busy doing nothing, you see, and my nothing time is very important to me.  Seriously, it is.  I can't help clinging to it, like it's life or death.  It's kind of weird.  I'm hoping I'll feel inclined to do more, as I start feeling better, and I'm doing everything I can to feel better.

I found running very difficult, though.  Everyone does, I know.. but, "everyone" isn't really everyone.  It's most people.  Some people are in great health, and can pick up running much more easily.  Other people, are not in good health, for any number of reasons.  From heart disease, to obesity, to an acute endocrine disorder that interferes with oxygenating the blood. or muscle healing rate.  So, for some people, it's especially difficult.

Anyhow, normal or not, not only did I have trouble making it half a mile, I also never seemed to get any better at it, despite diligently trying to keep doing it anyhow.  For years, I would just do these pathetic round the block runs, feeling like they were nearly killing me.  Only when I was on somatropin again, ten years later, did I find myself pushing that up to a mile.  Then, a mile and a half.  Then two miles.  Then two miles, while still feeling good and functional, afterwards.

Finally, to deciding that running two miles, every other day, should be about optimal for a healthy system, without wearing the parts out.  No reason to keep pushing it up, I had no reason to keep improving.  Just to keep doing what I was doing.  Why is that such a rare place to be?

Now that I'm back on GH, I'm running again, but where I live now is much more hilly. The best circuit I could put together starting at my house involves quite a bit of running up and down hills.  So, it's a bit more challenging, and difficult to compare in terms of distance.  I think I might actually be pushing myself harder than I was back in Montclair.  I'm having trouble making the full mile and a half, and collapsing when I get back.  I was able to do it ok when I first got here though.  Progress is slow.

I just want to get back to that point.  It was also about the cardiovascular benefit to mental health and acuity.  Sometimes that even more so. I could sure use some of that, too.  

twenty-first century tourism

I'm anxious and unsure of whether I'll really want to do any more than I have been doing, but I have been doing a whole lot of nothing.  That can't possibly be a good idea.

So, I am moving forward, in these comically lame baby steps.  Maybe that's just how it works.  Or, maybe this is just one of the many tricks my mind plays on me, to keep me doing nothing.  I don't know.  Tricks like that, and my love for pot and video games.

I'm not saying they destroy a person's motivation or anything, but let's just say, you probably do need a little extra to spare.  They are going to bite into some of it.