The Garden

I’m thinking of taking the next week off of blogging. It’s no big deal, really: I’ve just decided that maybe the best way to get the voices in my head to quiet down would be to find other shit to do. Normally, I update at least once or twice a week, which is more than a lot of bloggers do. Unsurprisingly, I still have so many opinions that I’m not even sure what to do with them. I feel that I should watch more German films. The best way to learn a language is to just go to the native country and speak it, but I think I need to build up a little more confidence before I’m ready to do that. My brother forgot all of the German he learned in high school. I kept with it in college and can still remember a lot of it. So there’s that.

I find that the more time goes by since I last acted, the less I miss it. I also find myself getting farther away from the friends that I made in that time. That’s probably not a bad thing. I like plays a lot, musicals a little less so, but my championing of theatre as an art form has more to do with its marginalization than any personal preference I might have. There was a time when a renowned stage actor could be a national celebrity. Not any more. Everyone knows who Tom Cruise is, but stop twenty people on the street and ask if they’ve heard of Audra McDonald and you’d be lucky if even one or two said yes. And that’s a shame. She really is phenomenally talented.

One musician I knew once told me his dad had quipped that both Rogers and Hammerstein knew, deep down in their hearts, that “Climb Every Mountain” is a bad song. I don’t know if I agree, but it is a bit sentimental. I have a musician friend who troubles me a little. He is constantly talking about how depressed he is, and if there’s one thing I can’t stand, it’s people who won’t stop talking about how depressed they are. On the other hand, he’s always talking about how he’s here for anyone if they need someone to talk to. You need to pick one or the other. If you’re feeling shitty, work through it. If you’re in the mood to talk, contact someone else and ask them how they’re doing. It kind of feels like he’s trapped in a cycle where he can’t feel truly happy or truly sad. The Zen Buddhist in me sees this as a problem. In between my frequent bouts of uncontrollable rage, I occasionally experience something resembling inner peace. I still haven’t figured out how to make that last.

I seem to have lost my ability to get to bed on time or to get out of bed in the morning. I used to sit in bed with my laptop open only on mornings when I woke up too early feeling like shit, but that is gradually turning into a habit. I get into arguments on the internet sometimes, but the more I do it, the more I realize how few people agree with me on certain things. I know I’m not crazy. If the world thinks I’m crazy, that’s the world’s problem. But sometimes, I feel like other people are making exactly the same mistakes that I constantly try to avoid making myself. In a way, that makes me feel less alone. And in other ways, it just reminds me that I HAVE ABSOLUTELY NO IDEA WHAT I’M DOING.

Too much of my life has been spent realizing that something that has always been true is true, then fooling myself into thinking it just happened. That’s paranoia. It’s also the stuff of hypochondria, which I have had many struggles with in the past. You know, you find a mole that you didn’t know was there and before you know it, you’ve convinced yourself it’s melanoma. It doesn’t even matter if there’s nothing weird about the mole. Or maybe there is something a little weird about it, but since it’s always looked that way, so what? I’ve seen one or two dermatologists, and from the sounds of things, it’s not that hard to tell when something’s not right. It just looks funny, that’s all. I haven’t been seriously ill since I ate too much and threw up a couple times one night back in middle school, but I was at school the next day. All things considered, I’m probably more reliable than most; I just don’t see it that way because I have a goddamn marching band playing in my head twenty-four seven and no idea what to do about it.

It’s been said by a lot of self-help gurus and shit, but people really aren’t very good at seeing themselves from the outside. Everyone focuses in on blemishes and shortcomings so minor that other people likely don’t even notice, much less care. The funny thing is that sometimes people do notice, and it’s up to you to decide whether or not that actually means anything. Because if you can’t love yourself, how can you expect anyone else to?

It's a similar sentiment.

It’s a similar sentiment.

I guess what I’m really trying to say is that if you really believe something, you believe it. Period. If you can convince others that you are sincere, maybe they’ll come around to your side. But it does take a leap of faith. You have to let it go and see if it comes back. And it might not. But sometimes it does, and when that happens, it’s usually because you’ve both been through so much that you’re finally ready for it.

I’ve suddenly become a lot more invested in the Super Bowl.

Lifeline

I tend to write long paragraphs. It’s just in my nature. My ideas cannot be captured in short bursts. I need to connect abstract ideas with each other, and that’s hard to do concisely. But I try. I just hate it when people say, “Your paragraphs are too long”, as if that’s a criticism all by itself. A paragraph can be as long as I want it to be. It’s your mind that’s too small.

I am finally taking the recommendations of so many people whose opinions I trust and will start watching Elementary. That, for those who don’t know, is CBS’s modern-day update of Sherlock Holmes, starring Johnny Lee Miller as the iconic detective and Lucy Liu as Dr. Watson. The idea of a female Watson sounds pretty interesting all by itself, but when the show was first announced, lots of people dismissed it as nothing more than an American Sherlock. Sherlock is a highly entertaining show, one of the most purely enjoyable in recent memory, but it has come under fire for its shallow understanding of the Holmes mythos and a general lack of depth. That’s fair, although I don’t completely agree. Steven Moffat, the Sherlock and current Doctor Who showrunner, has long come under criticism for his inability to write women. I think his problem is that he’s just not a very good writer. (Some of my Whovian friends will scourge me for saying that, but it’s true.) He has a talent for one-liners, plot twists, and general cleverness, but seems almost frightened of making any genuine insights into human emotions. Since I have the space, let’s break that down in depth.

“A Scandal in Belgravia”, the first episode of Sherlock’s second series, was heavily criticized for sexism. This is fair. For those not in the know, “A Scandal in Bohemia” is one of the most beloved of Sherlock Holmes’ adventures, a tale of royal intrigue in which Sherlock is outwitted by Irene Adler, the former lover of a member of the royal family of an obscure European country, whom Sherlock refers to thereafter only as “the woman”. Sherlock has many character flaws, not the least of which is his misogyny, but in this story, he is handily defeated by a vagina-haver, and it’s great.

george womenIn “A Scandal in Belgravia”, Sherlock wins. Irene Adler is not the spurned ex of a royal scared of allowing the secret of their relationship to leak, but a prostitute who has serviced countless powerful people and gained access to state secrets that she has stored on her phone. But she allows herself to fall for Sherlock, which tips him off as to the password on her phone, and in the end, he has to rescue her. Sexist? Yeah, probably. Steven Moffat said that he never got the point of “A Scandal in Bohemia”, so it sounds like what we are dealing with is nothing more than a small mind. That’s not uncommon. Most bigots aren’t openly malicious so much as just people who care more about protecting the status quo than accepting change, and I’m not quite sure I’d call Moffat a bigot. When you compare that to the rampant misogyny and objectification of women on TV, that seems pretty mild. Basically, Mark Gatiss (Moffat’s friend and creative partner, who wrote the episode), failed to see beyond the obvious. Almost every fictional story these days ends with a woman falling for a man, so that’s what he wrote. I rolled my eyes, but couldn’t work up the energy to be really angry about it.

Elementary, from what I’ve heard, is more straight-up police procedural than drama/thriller like Sherlock. Apparently, Liu and Miller have not a whiff of sexual tension, which is a nice change of pace from Sherlock (in which Martin Freeman’s Watson is constantly reassuring people that he and Sherlock are just roommates and business partners). I feel that we don’t see enough platonic male-female relationships in the media. Most of my friends are straight men. Some are straight women. It’s possible to be friends with a member of your preferred gender and not want to fuck them. It’s even possible to have a friend that you want to fuck and exercise self-restraint. If that develops into a crush, you might have a problem, but sometimes sexual attraction is just sexual attraction. As one acquaintance put it, she believes Watson is straight, but she doubts he will ever love a woman the way he loves Sherlock. It’s a bromance for the ages.

I don’t read fanfiction, so I’m not going to spend any time reading the thousands of Sherlock/Watson stories that doubtless exist on the internet. There are times when Sherlock seems to be deliberately playing into that, what with all the gay jokes and shit. But I actually think some of those are funny. It’s not that I don’t get why some people find them tiresome, only that, to me, they’re more innocuous and silly than downright offensive. But that’s just me. Actually, no, it’s not. This is my blog, people. And here, my opinion is law.

My job is going okay. Somebody was probably wondering that, so I definitely feel that I am becoming more accustomed to work. I’m looking for a second job. I’m also thinking of taking up archery. It could be a fun way to kill time. Besides, I haven’t seriously played a sport in years, so it might be nice to add some athletic activity beyond the occasional trip to the gym to my schedule.

My father is talking about getting a job elsewhere and moving, which would necessitate my finding my own place and paying for it myself if I want to stick around. I got pretty good at finding reasonably priced housing in NYC. Maybe I can do that here. The most important thing is having sane roommates. You can’t put a price on that.

Adjustments

It’s weird. Most days, I feel like there isn’t enough time to do all the shit I’ve been meaning to, but sometimes, it’s just the opposite. That generates a different kind of anxiety. I spend my time wandering around wondering if there’s anything else I might have time to fit in before I go to bed. It doesn’t necessarily help me sleep any better, so perhaps that’s why I find it so bothersome. I mean, there is so much to do, and prioritizing it is difficult. Why do I always feel like I’m climbing up a mountain? Once I reach the top, it’s a rough ride down the other side. If I can’t live on a plateau, can I at least get a heads up when I’m about to reach the metaphorical top so I know what to expect?

I feel that the New Series has made the Doctor into a little bit too much of a superhero. In the early days, he was an anonymous old fool. Sometimes, he wasn’t even the protagonist. (My father was in the room while I watched an old episode. Afterwards, he turned to me and asked which one was the Doctor.) These days, he’s all “I’m the Doctor, and I’m warning you…” I’m not here to rant about NuWho. There’s too much to talk about. I just don’t know where to begin. It’s not so much that I don’t know how to change shit as I’m not sure what needs to change. I wish I could be laid back. But that’s not me.

Here’s one thing that I have figured out: I don’t like traveling much, but I still want to see as much of the world as possible. Let’s say you decide to write a book with a Muslim main character. If you don’t know much about Islam, you will have to learn about it. What is the character’s ethnicity? Is he Sunni, Shiite, or what? You might even have to read the Qur’an a little bit. But you should consider doing that anyway. Anybody who considers themselves a citizen of the world should be curious about people who are different from them. And once you understand your differences, you can discover the ways in which you are similar. I think that’s why I have to get out of this cozy living situation. There’s a whole goddamn world out there, and I can’t live in a fucking bubble.

privacyI’ve lived on both coasts and in the Midwest. I’ve definitely figured out that I like the Northeast more than anywhere else. I could maybe stand to live in the Midwest, but I’m not interested in staying on the West Coast. Of course, I have a lot of friends out here (by the standards of someone who has about four friends total) and it would be nice to stay in touch with them through some means other than Skype. But I don’t fly unless I have to, and even if one of us travels a lot, we’re still unlikely to see each other more than a few times each year. It’s probably true that as you get older, your need to see your friends all the time diminishes. Even when I was in high school, I didn’t hang out at my friends’ houses very much, nor were they often over at mine. I’m fairly private by nature. So maybe I’m prepared for that already. It just seems like a shame to have one’s social life constrained by geography. Everyone I know is moving all over the country. There are people I was very close to once whom I haven’t seen in years because we’re never in the same place at the same time. That has to change…eventually.

Writing is a weird process. It’s less about making shit up as you go than about figuring out what makes sense. In a way, that’s the beauty of it. If you want to write a scene in which two people kung fu fight on top of a skyscraper that is collapsing in slow motion, go for it. Does that make any sense? You create the world and you make the rules, so if you can think it up, you can probably figure out a way to make it work in a fictional setting. And yes, it is terrifying. Since nobody’s ever done this before, you have no way of knowing whether it will work or not. Once or twice, I’ve Googled something I just came up with to make sure that nobody has ever used it before. Often, they haven’t. It just sounds familiar because it makes sense.

Off-topic, but if any of you are Game of Thrones fans, take half an hour out of your day to watch this Q&A with Jack Gleeson, a.k.a. Joffrey. He has a reputation for being nothing like his character, and based on this, that’s probably true. One interesting detail he shares is that he’s never watched the show. That’s not uncommon, you know. I have not seen every play I was ever in in its entirety. I wasn’t around for every rehearsal and was often backstage during the show doing a costume change or whatever. It’s really awkward to watch yourself act. I watched the videotape of the first play I was ever in and started squirming so hard that my father asked if I was alright.

I finally got around to watching An Adventure in Space and Time, the TV movie about Doctor Who‘s first few seasons. The First Doctor, William Hartnell, had to leave due to health complications. By the end, he was apparently a royal pain to work with. The movie paints him as a flawed-but-sympathetic figure who genuinely loved the show and its fans. He’s not my favorite Doctor, but that says as much about the show at that time as it does about William Hartnell. It went in a very different direction once Patrick Troughton took over. Beginnings are always rough. But once you know you’re onto something, you get harder and harder to deter.

I’m rambling, so let me try to wrap this up. I’m getting tired of having to blow everything up and start over once I realize something isn’t working. I would make a great employee, boyfriend, and roommate to anyone who is willing to have me. You just have to find people who are willing to change and make adjustments with you.

Endgame

To let understanding stop at what cannot be understood is a high attainment. Those who cannot do it will be destroyed on the lathe of Heaven.

—Chuang Tse

Sometimes, I think my coworkers thing I’m a little less competent than I really am. This is the problem with being an INFJ: it’s almost impossible not to take criticism personally. People won’t let me explain myself, but they think they know what I’m doing better than I do. And oftentimes, it’s nothing more than a misunderstanding. I take a long time to commit to things, but once I do, I fucking commit. I guess that’s why I spend so much of my time lounging around wondering what to do next. It would be a lot easier if other people weren’t so eager to pin me down just so that they know what to do with me.

My life is getting a little more amorphous, a bit more complex. A few months ago, I was still preoccupied with recovering from a very stressful and difficult summer. Now I’m trying to build my life once again, and not surprisingly, it’s a lot of trial-and-error. I’ve been here before. It’s hard for me to figure out what order to do things in. I have books sitting on my shelf that I got for Christmas years ago and have yet to read. Why is that? Some of those books I even asked for (and of the ones I didn’t, there are a few that are probably still good). What am I waiting for? The right time, whenever that is. I try not to rush into things, but I think I might be overdoing it.

I am the sort of person who can spend all day brooding over one little incident. Something like that happened a few days ago. I prefer not to go into details, except to say that I think my coworker was wrong to scold me the way he did, and I don’t think the customer much minded the way I treated her to begin with. I could be wrong here, but I really don’t think I am. So with that out of the way, let’s talk about something else.

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about what it means to be an ally. I am a feminist, but as I am not a woman, it’s not exactly my rights that are on the line in the struggle for women’s independence. Or are they? I’ll tell a quick story. A couple years ago, I was at a party. I told a story about a play I had been in in which some of the men carried guns. Since my character did not get to carry a gun, I would pick up the prop guns and played with them backstage. “Having a second gun is like having a second cock,” I joked.

The room went dead silent. The host’s roommate informed me that, as a woman, she found my comment deeply offensive.

“No offense, but I really don’t see how—” I began.

She cut me off. “You can’t say ‘no offense’ after you say something offensive and expect that to make it okay.”

Fair point, I thought. But I still don’t see how that was sexist. Seriously, it was a dick joke. If anyone in the room were to get offended, shouldn’t it have been the men? Maybe you don’t think it’s funny. Maybe you think it’s crude. But I’ll bet dollars to fucking doughnuts that that woman went to bed that night patting herself on the back for smacking down the big dumb chauvinist patriarch.

I’ve told this story before on this blog. I’m telling it again because I think it illustrates a point. The fight for independence is the fight to be master of your own fate. Feminists want to abolish rape culture because it’s up to them to decide when to have sex and no one else. Most women think abortion should be legal because it’s up to them to decide whether they want to have a child, not me or any other man. And I want birth control pills to be readily available to anyone who wants them because, well, it’s none of my damn business what a functioning adult does on her own time. What do I want out of this? The right to tell dick jokes at parties. Michigan Representative Lisa Brown was barred from speaking on the state House floor a year or two ago for making a very funny comment that *drops monocle* contained the word “vagina”! Let’s all try to be grown-ups around here. The joke I made was at my expense. It’s my dick and I’ll decide what to do with it, thank you very much.

I know one or two people who think that now that they have Spotify on their smartphones, they might never have to buy music ever again. That’s silly. It assumes, first of all, that the stuff on Spotify Premium will always be there. It also assumes that Spotify will always be there. And lastly, it assumes that smartphones will always be there and you’ll be able to use them wherever you go. The odds that we’ll all go back to using basic cellphones anytime soon are slim to nonexistent, but let’s not all jump on the mobile computer that you can carry in your pocket wagon just yet. If you want something to be readily available, you kind of have to own it, and if Spotify is like a digital library, then Spotify Premium is just a rental service. I am as convinced as ever that people will someday realize that online shopping/streaming/torrenting/whatever is not going to replace physical media and stores, not completely. Maybe it’s just wishful thinking on my part that we’ll see the return of independent book/music/video stores sooner or later, but maybe not. The point is that if you want something to be yours, you have to own it, not just make it readily available. There’s a difference.

Here’s Paul McGann reading a speech from classic Doctor Who. That man has an absolutely beautiful voice.

Scythe

Not sure what this has to do with anything...

Not sure what this has to do with anything.

I’ve noticed something funny about this blog over the past few months. I’m not just getting fewer page views than I used to, but fewer page views per visitor. It’s as if more and more people are stumbling across this blog just because they’re looking for a picture of Tom Daley in a Speedo or Taylor Lautner’s ass. Well, I’ll try to tone that down. The top five search items leading people here in 2013 (this is true) were “taylor lautner ass”, “donkey porn”, “gay donkey”, “white people are annoying”, and “jamie foxx naked”. Now that I’ve typed them out, that will probably lead more people here, but hopefully, some of them will stay to learn more of my thoughts on politics, philosophy, and religion.

I’m getting really impatient. It’s been close to a month since I’ve seen any of my friends, and because my friends are people, we keep agreeing on a time, then realizing that doesn’t work, then having to reschedule. I hate living in the real world. And of course, there’s my mother. She sent me a card reiterating that I should reach out to the environmental organizations in the area. I’ve already told her that I’m thinking about volunteering, but that’s not enough for her. She wants me to network. I hate networking. If I have to choose between networking and unemployment, I’ll take unemployment. I don’t know what I’d say to the various organizations even if I did reach out to them. “Hi, I’m young and trying to make a career in activism. Can you help me out?” I don’t want a job with one of those groups at the moment. I don’t believe that there’s anything wrong with taking a year or two to do other shit before returning to work in your chosen field. It’s not like there’s an expiration date on my masters degree or anything. Why do I not feel like networking? I just don’t want to, that’s why.

I used to dream very rarely, but these days, it’s almost every night. That’s frustrating. It’s hard to focus in your day-to-day life when you feel like your subconscious is trying really, really hard to tell you something. And in this case, there is usually some very obvious thematic or literal connection to my own life, so it’s not like I even have the pleasure of waking up and wondering what all that was supposed to mean. I know what it means. But I can’t shut it off.

You might have noticed that I blog slightly less frequently than I used to. That’s for the better, I think. It means that I am getting better at organizing my thoughts and shit. Only problem is, I find myself arguing with an empty room more and more because I don’t have a therapist any more. It was not exactly my decision to start seeing a therapist in the first place (I’ve been to two therapists in my life, and in the first case, my mother made me; in the second…well, that’s another story), but at least it was sort of my decision to end it. (In the sense that I was leaving New York very suddenly and didn’t feel like finding another therapist on the West Coast.) The problem with therapy is that there’s no definite answer as to when to end it. One friend of mine sees no need to end it. To her, it’s merely one more way to get herself to the next level. Go with what works, I guess. Mainly, I’m looking for flesh-and-blood people to share my time with. There just don’t seem to be that many of them out there at the moment.

This is completely random, but here is a video that I absolutely love. I know next to nothing about Islam or the Qur’an, but I know bigotry when I see it, so watching a Muslim take a self-righteous Christian a-hole down a peg is deeply satisfying. A friend of mine has an uber-conservative Christian grandmother who used to post offensive shit (Ann Coulter quotes, for example) on his timeline. When he responded to a quote that was deeply offensive to atheism with one that mocked Christianity, she threw a fit. I looked on in wonder. It’s like some people honestly have never faced the possibility that their shit stinks, too. You might be sweet and kind to your friends and family, but if you sincerely believe that Christianity is automatically better than all other forms of belief, fuck you. You don’t have to believe that Jesus said it to see the wisdom in the Golden Rule, and if you seriously believe that the shooting of Trayvon Martin had nothing to do with race, you are wrong.

It’s January, which means that there aren’t too many good movies out in theaters at the moment. There’s Inside Llewyn Davis, but I feel like I could wait for the DVD on that one. There’s The Wolf of Wall Street, but that one just looks like a white-collar version of Goodfellas. I’m sure it’s stylish and entertaining; I just don’t see why I need to see it. Wait a couple months and we’ll have The Grand Budapest Hotel and Veronica Mars. Maybe you are unfamiliar with the latter’s source material, but if you consider yourself a nerd, you must watch all three seasons of the TV show right now because OMG SO AMAZING

I can’t shut my brain off, people. I can’t really do anything except keep trying to dig in and hope that this time, I can escape the cycle of having the same fights with the people over and over and over again. There are few things more intimidating than an empty room. So let’s hope I can defeat this one. It’s not even my home, really, just a place I’m staying until I figure out where to go from here.