In God’s House

The challenge is to resist circumstances. Any idiot can be happy in a happy place, but moral courage is required to be happy in a hellhole.

—Joyce Carol Oates

The thing about anxieties is that they don’t go away so much as migrate to other areas. You can never really stamp them out, and even if what you’re obsessing over is, on its face, ridiculous, it’s hard to just forget about it and move on no matter how many times you’ve been through this before. So forgive me if I’m even more self-pitying than normal here, but I’ve been in kind of a reflective mood lately. The holidays are right around the corner, and I’m starting to understand why they’re so stressful for so many people. I mean, the whole point is that they’re fun and festive, right? But it doesn’t seem to go that way for most people. I’m not buying anyone gifts this year. I found a second job (it’s seasonal, but still), which will hopefully enable me to make ends meet for the time being, but beyond that, I’m out. Right now, I have to look out for myself and no one else. It’s just where I’m at.

The crazy thing, of course, is that now I have to fight the urge to indulge in all those things that I’ve been holding back on lately. Even with my income nearly doubling, my personal budget sheet is going to be only slightly in the black. I’m not sure how long it’s going to be before I can move back to NYC. I’m hoping to do it by next fall, but at the rate things are going, who knows? This is one of those cases where I wish I had one of my optimistic (or is it fatalistic?) friends around. You know, one of those people who says, “Oh don’t worry, if it’s meant to be, it’ll happen.” I hate that attitude, but it can be rather comforting. I think the universe is a pretty cold, indifferent place, but it’s not completely without order. I also have to figure out what’s going on with my healthcare and other such adult things. I was not happy as a child, so all things considered, that’s kind of a step forward. Even so.

prayer in schoolMy problem isn’t that I’ve never been able to accept responsibility; it’s that I’ve never been very good at kicking back. It’s part of the reason that I spend most of my time off sitting in my room dicking around on my computer: after a long, hard day of doing shit, that’s usually all I have the energy to do. And I’m still not working nine-to-five, which is good, as I don’t want that kind of schedule and likely never will. I think part of my fascination with religion comes with my inability to function in the gritty, messy reality that I live in. I like to think of myself as pragmatic, but since I’m an obsessive perfectionist, I’m probably more idealistic than I care to admit. Some of my favorite co-workers back at the coffee shop weren’t even particularly good at their jobs; they were just fun people to be around. I don’t know how much fun I am to be around, but I try not to let every tiny slip-up at work get to me the way I used to. My father said once that 90% of success is showing up. It’s one of the few valuable things he taught me.

In case it’s not obvious, I’m starting to wind down. I’ll keep writing these posts for a little while yet. I think I am finding better ways to communicate with people than blogging. This thing still doesn’t get many hits, but as I’ve said many times, I don’t even know who the fuck reads blogs anymore. These days, it’s all Tumblr, Instagram, Twitter, or what have you. Nobody gives a shit about WordPress. In a way, it’s liberating to know that you have a small but devoted group of followers. It means that you don’t have to work as hard to keep everyone happy. I finished 30 Rock not too long ago. Maybe the reason I like that show so much is that it’s unafraid to include jokes that are so specific and obscure as to appeal to only a tiny percentage of the population. Jenna had a line at one point that was like, “You’ll have to move to the Bay Area. Have fun always carrying a light sweater everywhere.” I know millions of people live there, but still.

I have found that people tend to use their free time more efficiently when they have less of it. This is not at all surprising. I’m working full-time now, so I don’t have too many days to just sit around doing whatever. It’s only natural that I might miss that. Then again, part of my problem in the first place was that I had all this time to do nothing and no idea how to fill it. I loved computer games as a child, but even I could play them only for a few hours every day before thinking I should find something else to do. I actually did spend a lot of time with my friends in those days, it’s just that everyone seemed to think that because I had no obligations, I had nothing to worry about. It doesn’t work that way. My pursuits at the moment are still fundamentally selfish. I’m not looking for a job that will make other people happier, just one that will pay the bills and not bore me to tears. If it benefits other, great. But my motives are not altruistic by any means.

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Nowhere Man

I was going to call this one “15 Signs You Are Reading a Blog”, but that just seemed too easy. I’m getting tired of those “X Number of Signs You [Something]” articles circulating the internet. You know you’re reading a blog because you’re reading a blog. Moving on…

I find that I am right more often than I really care to admit. Let me explain: I’ve complained on this blog before that I’m at the age when everyone I know seems to be getting married or engaged. It certainly isn’t true of all of my friends, but close to half of the people I know are either wearing a ring on their finger or have been dating someone so long that I wonder why they aren’t. One of them just broke up. That’s not true, exactly. I don’t know him personally. He’s a vlogger, and since I’ve been spending so much time on YouTube lately, I have gotten to “know” him and his a fiance a little. They seemed like a decent couple. He cheated. So the vlogger ended it. I’m not happy about that, but in retrospect, it seems fairly obvious. So many people are eager to rush right into getting married with the first person that they really feel something for. They haven’t realized yet that they’re just two people, and there’s a whole wide world out there.

National Coming Out Day happened not too long ago. I mention that because I can’t remember the exact date. Coming out is the most important thing any LGBT person can do, but it’s hardly the most interesting. It’s time some people learned that.

I’ve said this before, but I have a nasty feeling that I’m not going to die young. (Watch, I’ll get run over tomorrow.) I’m not the sort. No, I suspect that I have a long, long life ahead of me, and it’s not going to be very much fun. I’m tired. I’m broke, working a tough job, and living with a father who seems to simultaneously want me out of here and to make getting out as difficult as possible. I don’t have a backup plan. If this doesn’t work, I’m back to square one. What’s worse, I barely even left it. I have crazy ambitions, but this blog gets about ten hits per day. Is it really possible that I’m just right and everybody else is just wrong? If that’s true (which it is), how long will it be before I start to reap the rewards? It’s not like I lie awake at night wishing for my friends would get dumped or fired. (Well maybe occasionally…just kidding.) Every person’s story is special to them. To everyone else, they’re just a face in the crowd. I don’t know where the middle ground is.

Bigotry has a way of eating itself after a while. When you’re too scared to trust anyone else, other people get tired of not being trusted, and turn on you. The Red Wedding is the most notorious scene in all of Game of Thrones/Song of Ice and Fire, but any level-headed person who watches/reads that scene should be able to figure out (spoilers, in case it’s not obvious) how utterly fucked Walder Frey is going to be from here on out. I haven’t read books four and five yet, but if that man doesn’t get skinned alive while his entire bloodline is murdered in front of him, I want my money back. It’s not just what he deserves, but what other people want to see happen to him. According to Dante’s Inferno, the three lowest levels of Hell are reserved for people who betray their kin, people who betray guests in their homes, and people who betray their liege lords. Frey has committed all three. In the quasi-medieval world of Westeros, he is now lower than a baby rapist. Even if the remaining Starks don’t get their revenge, Roose Bolton will throw him to the wolves just because, well, why keep him around?

I do believe that we’re all in this together, but not for entirely altruistic reasons. The reality is that nobody is capable of doing everything all by themself. I don’t care who you are; somebody has helped you at some point. In that sense, helping somebody is both a selfless and a selfish act. It’s selfless because you might not get anything in return, but selfish in that you know perfectly well that someday you might need a hand, and you’re much more likely to get it if you show that actually give a shit about others. Bigots don’t understand that. They think they’re playing the long game by refusing to budge an inch. They think that if they just alienate everyone who might be able to help them, somehow the ground will open up and swallow all their enemies. It’s incredibly short-sighted, reminding me of nothing so much as this scene from The Avengers. (One of my favorite movies of the last few years. Anyone who thinks it’s just a fun summer blockbuster needs to watch it again with their brain turned on.)

The beauty of an issue like gay marriage is that you don’t have to be a good person to see why supporting it is a good idea. Even if you’re a sociopathic business owner who cares about nothing besides money, it doesn’t take that much imagination to see that extending benefits to gay employees will make them work harder, and featuring gay couples in your ads will make gay customers feel more included, and thus more likely to spend money on you. Really, the only reason to oppose it is that you’re insecure. External validation is tricky that way. It can never be anything except temporary, which is why even Big Brother has to crumble someday.

That, by the way, is why I hate Ayn Rand.

Nice combover.

Nice comb-over.