Once in a Lifetime

 

I’ve never made friends quickly. You all should know that by now. At my previous job, my boss told me that I seemed to have put up a shell around myself. That’s not entirely true, but he meant well. I heard recently that he walked out of the store he’d been transferred to because the district manager is a total bitch. I flatter myself that I might have started a bit of a trend by walking out when I did. I wasn’t the first person to walk out, but still. They started a dangerous precedent by pushing good people out, and anyway, I didn’t come here to gloat. I’ve learned by now that what they say about living well being the best revenge is true. It doesn’t mean that the bad guy always gets his comeuppance. Oftentimes, they kinda just drift away. Most of the time, they never learn their lesson. They go on being shitty, and the most you can hope for is that the people around them realize what shits they are and keep their distance. But they don’t ever just go away.

It was a big decision when I decided to be a blogger instead of a vlogger or whatever. I have a very animated speaking style and a rather distinctive voice, but I would prefer not to go on camera. I don’t like having my picture taken. Sometimes I think I might have fit right in in one of those cultures where they believe that having your picture taken robs you of your soul or something like that. Then again, maybe not. I’m not a Luddite (it’s actually a common myth that the Luddites were anti-technology, but never mind); I just try to resist the temptation of going with trends. That’s why I’ve always felt so out of my own time. I know that we all like to think of ourselves as special snowflakes, and that’s great. But there are a lot of people out there who don’t think of themselves as ordinary who, to my eyes, appear rather conventional. I don’t believe that’s entirely subjective. I think that most people are boring, and that interesting people come in all shapes and sizes. There’s nothing wrong with being boring, I suppose. It’s all in what you want out of life.

cybermenIt’s frustrating, working in a medium that doesn’t provide you with any immediate gauge as to what people think. Actually, I think that might be a strength. Facebook has the “like” button, and actually, so does this blog. But it’s not like there are message boards where people discuss my stuff at length. If they did, I probably wouldn’t read it because I need my headspace. That’s the problem with the internet: it’s all just nerds with opinions. I still don’t understand why so many Whovians hate “Nightmare in Silver” so much. I remain convinced that it’s the best Cybermen storyline since “Earthshock”, not that the competition is particularly steep. It’s definitely overstuffed and yeah, the kids are kind of annoying, but it also has some arresting visuals, a great performance by Matt Smith, and some of the snappiest dialogue the show ever produced. (“I trust the Doctor.” “Are you saying he knows what he’s doing?” “I’m not sure I’d go that far.”) For once, the Cybermen act like Cybermen (sort of proto-Borg, although I don’t know if there’s any truth to the rumor that they inspired the Borg) rather than substitute Daleks. Go Gaiman.

There’s nobody I agree with 100% of the time. This leads me to believe that nobody is right 100% of the time except for me. But seriously, I do believe that there is such a thing as absolute truth. I believe in subjectivity as well; I just think that while most human beings might, on some level, be more or less the same, that doesn’t mean you have to get along with everyone, and it’s okay to think somebody’s a shithead if they’ve wronged you. I guarantee that there are folks out there who think I’m a shithead, although I think most of them are shitheads too, so I guess it kind of evens out. There’s no bigger waste of time, in my opinion, than trying to make friends with everyone. A lot of my idols probably wouldn’t have much to say to me if they met me. Then again, maybe they would and I just need to get a little bit better at making overtures.

I’ve always believed that endings aren’t bad so long as you get to end things on your own terms. I talked to an asshole on an online dating site just now who couldn’t believe that I choose to work in retail and customer service jobs despite having degrees from two of the best universities in the world. Well, I am a smart motherfucker. Right now, I need my headspace, that’s all. You can’t get back at everyone who has hurt you. Robert, the near-sociopath who screwed me out of my living situation about two years ago, is probably living quite comfortably now. Whether or not he’s happy is debatable. I’m not very happy, but it’s all in how you define happiness, isn’t it?

In case it’s not obvious, I’m signing off here. I’ve cranked out these last few posts in what could be considered a binge (albeit the tamest binge in the entire history of the word) because sometimes, you just want to get it over with. Oh no, don’t take that the wrong way. I’m glad I did this shit. I used to think that you needed to have all your shit figured out before you ended something, but it turns out you don’t. Is death the only part where that happens? I don’t know. But it’s not as scary as it looks. Not that I plan on doing it anytime soon.

I’ll leave you with something silly. I’m still kind of a funnyman despite spending most of my time here sharing Deep Thoughts. See ya around.

Dream in Red

way he looks

I’ve come to a realization lately that, as realizations often do, seems obvious in retrospect. See, I’ve met a lot of people in my lifetime who have made me feel insecure, and for the longest time, I thought it was something I just needed to get over. But it isn’t. People who make others feel insecure are usually projecting their own insecurities, be it consciously or subconsciously. The people you should want to be around aren’t people who are like you, but people about whom you really don’t care whether or not they’re like you. I thought about this while seeing The Way He Looks, a Brazilian coming-of-age drama about a blind teen who realizes he is gay and falls in love with the new boy in class. I won’t spoil things for you, except to say that everything ends happily, which is not unusual for this kind of film. I’ve railed against this subgenre before, but somehow, this one got through my defenses. And I think I know why.

I tend to tiptoe around going into too much detail about my own experiences in high school on this blog. It’s not so much that I get off on being withholding as that I don’t generally find it relevant to what I have to say here. But I don’t mind saying that this film bears no resemblance to my own experiences. I spent most of my time in high school crushing on straight friends. That’s a staple of many a young homo’s story, and a lot of gay fiction plays into that by having the shy, nerdy protagonist get assigned to tutor the captain of the football team and…you know the rest. In real life, this almost never happens. I’m not saying that the captain of the football team is never gay, only that the odds that he will fall for his shy, nerdy math tutor and find his feelings reciprocated are infinitesimal. I almost got angry at The Way He Looks for presenting a story that is so goddamned warm and fuzzy, but then I realized that that’s not fair. There are teens getting thrown out of their houses for being gay, but there are also teens whose biggest fear is just that the boy they like is more interested in the cute girl in class and their stories matter, too.

I’m about a decade older than the characters in this film. I remember very clearly what being that age was like. So when I see a film like Shelter or Summer Storm, I get kinda pissy because what they present is a fantasy, nothing more. Yes, it would be nice to be pushed out of the closet by a handsome surfer who takes you by the hand and helps you to realize that everything will be okay and that this thing you’ve just learned about yourself changes nothing. Yes, it would be nice to realize that you are gay and then have your straight best friend instantly forgive you for getting overly physical and cockblocking him earlier. But that never happens and you know it. Stories like that of Leonardo and Gabriel (the guys in The Way He Looks) do happen occasionally. They’re nowhere near as rare as they used to be, but I suspect that they did happen even when I was a teen. Some people lead charmed lives, and others just know how to roll with the punches. I’m not sure if either of those can be applied to me, but hey, I don’t begrudge those to whom they can.

I’m realizing that I won’t keep in touch with everyone I know over here when I move back to New York. And I’m okay with that. You don’t have to stay friends with somebody forever in order to say that they had a meaningful impact on your life. A lot of the people I hang out with these days are California types. They’re the kinds of people who can exist only in a certain region, and since they live in that region, that’s okay. But there are folks who live in California and like California who transcend their region. And then there’s me. I’m not a California type. At the moment, I’m a New York type, but I talk about that enough already. I made the decision long ago not to pursue a career in academia. Some people never leave the college campus. I go back less and less with each passing year.

You have to be judicious in deciding who is really worthy of your time. Sometimes, that hews dangerously close to cruelty. It’s weird, because I complain a lot about how my friends never hit me up and ask how I’m doing. Most of the time, I’m the one who has to initiate any interaction. Somehow, I still feel like I’d be in a better place if I could drop a few more of them from my mental Facebook feed. It’s not even that I hate them, just that I hung out with them to vent my frustrations, and since I’m very, very slowly learning to deal with some of those frustrations, I think they’d be better off if I cut them loose. Why do you think I update this blog so often? If I had more people to listen to me in real life, I wouldn’t have written hundreds of thousands of words here. But all that barking madness has to go somewhere.

I try not to look at what I’m doing these days as “finding myself”. Maybe part of the reason that my parents were so frustrated with my progress when I lived with them was that I wasn’t rushing along and wasn’t doing nothing; I was moving, just very incrementally. In a way, that’s more aggravating than going nowhere. Then again, maybe not.

War Machine

I think the reason I am so slow to make friends is that I don’t want to be misunderstood. A lot of people feel misunderstood, and that’s because at some point, all of us are. But when I look back over the friends I’ve lost touch with, I get the distinct impression that some of them just got tired of me. They realized, essentially, that being friends with me was more trouble than it’s worth. I don’t think being friends with me is more trouble than it’s worth, but then again, I’m biased.

I have the next couple days off of work. This gives me time to reflect, which is exactly what I don’t need right now. Blog traffic is at an all-time low. I still have a hundred followers or two, so it’s not like nobody reads this thing, but I’ve been very, very slowly climbing out of a rut for almost a year now, so any leg up at all would be appreciated. I tried to fix a problem with my tax forms at work, except I screwed up and now I’m getting more deducted in taxes than ever before! I got a refund back in April, so it would be nice to have somebody who isn’t my parent to explain this to me. Because I still don’t like them very much.

Progress is slow. So in the hopes of jump-starting some sort of discussion here, I’d like to talk about my fascination with steampunk. Sci-fi/fantasy, like any other area of interest, has infinite subgenres and subcategories, ranging from anime/manga nerds (which has never been my thing, although I like Studio Ghibli a lot) to tabletop/card game nerds (I like tabletop gaming but have never tried Magic: The Gathering) to video game nerds to comic book nerds to Trekkies and Whovians and (sigh) Twi-Hards. (I’m counting that last group out of sheer generosity. Don’t think for a second that I don’t hold them in contempt.) Most people at Comic-Con or wherever fit into more than one group. And there are plenty of other groups that I haven’t even mentioned, because labels, more so than any other thing that I can think of, aren’t evil, but can be very dangerous when applied to somebody else without their consent. How to explain my love for steampunk? I guess I just like big machines.

dweomerI’ve been at 50-60% for some time now. For a while, I was at 0-10%, which was better in some ways, because I wasn’t expecting as much from myself. I don’t spend as much time on YouTube as I used to, which is good, because most YouTubers (with a few notable exceptions like Grace Helbig and Natalie from Community Channel) are fucking idiots. It’s the sort of thing that makes even me feel old, which is odd, because I’m not old by most standards aside from the North Korean life expectancy. Maybe I just spend too much time on the internet. I don’t know. All I know is that I hate the way that popular entertainment seems to be catering to people with shorter and shorter attention spans. I send about three texts a month, so, you know, maybe I was just born old.

Pretty much the only way I’ve ever found for dealing with the tough times is to find a takeaway. At the moment, I’m still a little too deeply caught up in the thick of it to know what that is. If you follow the news, you’re probably depressed about that. Honestly, it looks like the beginning of World War Three out there. And it’s not like I’m not under a lot of pressure myself. My mother is moving back in. I always said that I would rather sleep in a box on a street corner than live with both of my parents again. So I’m really, really hoping shit works out with the place I just applied to for housing. I’m still looking for a second job (interviewed for one I really liked a week or two ago; they said they’d be seeing me again soon but didn’t call me), and since money is so tight, I feel afraid to go do things that I normally do when I’m in a shitty mood, like go out for a nice dinner. There’s too much that is up in the air right now. And I still spend most of my evenings sitting in my room staring at my computer.

I think part of the reason that I am so suspicious of new technology is that there are so many people who act like anybody who holds onto the old stuff is a reactionary. Reading paper books does seem like a more tactile experience than reading a Kindle or e-reader. Video may have killed the radio star, but radio plays are still produced sometimes (at least in England), and yeah, they do have an imaginative quality to them that TV lacks. And from what I can gather, film still is better than digital in some ways. The difference, in my mind, is actually a bit more practical than romantic. I don’t prefer books to e-books because they feel more real, but because machines can fail, too, and if your electronic devices aren’t working, you can still read a physical book by candlelight. People jump on Spotify as if it will save them from ever having to buy music again, and I’m sorry, but it just isn’t that simple. And shopping at Amazon will never top the experience of browsing in an actual store. If you want to introduce yourself to shit you haven’t heard before, you are going to have to step outside your comfort zone. Don’t hop on the bandwagon on the Shiny New Thing just because it’s convenient.

Steve Jobs may have been a difficult man, but there’s a quote from him I always liked. When asked what market research he was doing for the iPad, he replied, “None. It’s not the consumers’ job to know what they want.” So if there is a takeaway from this post, it’s that I don’t think people always know what they want from their entertainment. And since I am a part-time entertainer, it means they don’t always know what they want from me. Alas, I keep chugging along. Because I am only robot.

Corner of the World

0801131815aI wrote this on Sunday, but I waited to publish it for some reason.

“How can I trust you?” is the wrong question. The right question is, “Why shouldn’t I trust you?” If you can think of any reason not to trust a person, then don’t. But don’t expect them to keep pulling more and more proof out of their ass as if there is anything that can eliminate all of the doubt in your mind. I don’t know with 100% certainty that I’ll live long enough to finish this sentence, but oh look, I just did. That’s called a leap of faith. I asked my roommate to take one with me a few nights ago, and in a shock that nobody could have seen coming, he declined.

In my last post, I said I was moving out. That’s still true. But after publishing that one, I had an idea. What if I gave him just one more chance? Sure, he’s been acting like an asshole, but he is under a lot of stress, what with his application for permanent resident status in the U.S. to worry about (he’s from Korea) and his uncle (who is his closest relative in America) waffling on helping him find a job like that. So I floated an idea: What if I go back to California, but don’t move out? I’ll stay there for a couple months or so, find a job (it’s not that hard to find a job, if all you want to do is find a job), save up my money, and mail the rent checks in anyway. When I’m ready (somewhere in early 2014, let’s say), I’ll move back, but until then, he’ll have the whole place to himself. Sounds like a win-win, right? But he didn’t see it that way.

The most distressing thing about our conversation was that he said yes at first. Then we swapped stories about our crappy experiences trying to make lives for ourselves and stand on our own two feet. He told me that life would be so much easier if he could just find an American girl to marry, and I told him about all of my crappy roommates. But when I got to Robert, the sweet, gay librarian who threw me out simply because he wanted the room back and told me so not in person but in an email, he told me that I was a fool for trusting him. I didn’t sign a lease, so I should have anticipated getting kicked out right before the holidays and right after I told him I’d be out of town for a while (thus forcing me to change my plans). No, I don’t think that’s the moral of the story. What I learned from Robert is not that it’s wrong to trust people, but that you shouldn’t assume someone is on your side just because they’re friendly.

What follows is the most dramatic part of this story to date. I told my roommate that since he insisted on having me here to breathe down my neck, I would have to move out. He said fine, then started banging on my door demanding that I tell the realtor. I refused. Earlier in the day, I had told the realtor that I meant to move out, then changed my mind and said that I’d give my roommate one more chance. He said he’d check back in on Tuesday to ask what my final decision was. Fair enough. So when my roommate told me on Friday that I needed to contact the realtor right then and there, I refused. He grew agitated. I shut the door in his face. (God, that felt good.) He opened the door and started yelling at me. I ignored him. He fucked off, then barged into my room a while later, waving his phone in my face and threatening me with violence. I told him to go back to his room and calm down. He told me that he would love to leave me alone, but that he can’t do that until I tell the realtor.

“No,” I said. “The way that you leave someone alone is that you leave. Them. Alone!” I shouted that last part. It was the first part all evening that I’d gotten really angry. FYI, if you want to piss off Robot King, just walk into his room and refuse to leave. When I wrote “Unfinished Business”, I would have said that this man is deeply troubled, but far from one of the worst people I’ve ever met. Boy, has that changed. Do I hate him? Yes, I do. Because I don’t give a flying fuck what happens to him after this.

There were red flags, I suppose, but I never could have anticipated this. When I first met, he seemed fine, if a little tense. I wrote him a check for the rent and security deposit, he handed me the keys, and that was that. We discussed move-in details. There was some drama with him allowing me to move in before I’d sent in an application to the realtor, but I assumed that that was because he wanted to spare me the trouble of staying in a hostel until the realtor was back in town. Now I’m staying in a hostel until my flight on Wednesday just to keep away from him. I considered calling the police after he threatened me, but I don’t think he has the balls to take a swing at me. Besides, I would own him.

When I left for California on my two-week vacation, he asked me to give him the September rent check even though I would be back before the end of August. I guess he thought I was going to just ditch him? Whatever. I did write him that check just to get him off my back. But I won’t make that mistake again.

This video contains my final thoughts on leaps of faith.

Vladimir Putin Has a Tiny Penis

"The Portal to Dr. X's Universe: Dr. X's Universe is a dimension that exists within my imagination. If I was able to make a portal to it I would be able to basically have fun forever, creating my own worlds full of adventure to explore. If I could make a portal, it would be fantastic." --Drexel B., Grade 8, Vermont

“The Portal to Dr. X’s Universe: Dr. X’s Universe is a dimension that exists within my imagination. If I was able to make a portal to it I would be able to basically have fun forever, creating my own worlds full of adventure to explore. If I could make a portal, it would be fantastic.” –Drexel B., Grade 8, Vermont

This past week or so has been rough. To begin with, there are my consistent computer problems. I ordered one from Amazon, then received an email from the seller saying that they had oversold and would be refunding my money and sending me something else in the mail as a gift. So I got kind of upset. At first, I thought I might have to order a brand new one from the manufacturer’s website, which would cost me $300-$400 more than ordering a secondhand one from an online store. Then I found another online store that would sell me a refurbished computer (meaning a used one that was basically good as new) that was, as far as I could tell, nearly identical to the model I’d tried to get through Amazon. The computer just shipped, so I hope it’s good.

(I should add that the process of verifying one’s payment methods is becoming maddeningly complicated. Before I could pay for my computer, I had to first provide not only the name, number, and security code on my credit card, but my email address, ZIP code, and the last few digits of my SSN. Since I move around a lot and my dad still foots the bill for my credit card, I didn’t know whether they wanted my email address or my his, couldn’t provide the info, and had to use my debit card instead, then ask my dad to reimburse me for that, as he has agreed to pay for half of the computer as a late graduation present. I’ll pay him back for the other half of it as soon as I’ve got the money, but in the meantime, there was a mix-up in which my credit card almost got charged for the computer, and I had to answer questions about my mother’s name and the street I grew up on in order to convince the seller that I was, in fact, the Robot King. I know identity theft is a real problem and I’m sure it sucks to have one’s info stolen, but sometimes I want to just put my head down and wait for this to be over.)

While I’m whining, I’d like to talk about my apartment hunt. I’ve been to Brooklyn multiple times to look at places, and just yesterday evening, I went down there to look at a promising spot. I got off the train and headed down to what I thought was the place, delighted that I’d made good time and would, after being late several times due to complications with public transit, actually be early for one of my appointments with a prospective roommate. Then I noticed something funny about the street. The numbers weren’t right. I called the lady and found that I had gone to the wrong street, that there was another with the same name in a different part of town, and that I would probably just have to come back tomorrow evening, since she didn’t know how to get there from where I was. Needless to say, this put me in a pissy mood. Hopefully, I’ll find the place without complication tonight.

I’m rambling because a lot is going on right now. I haven’t even gotten around to how angry I am about the George Zimmerman trial. There is no denying that the whole affair was a travesty, and how a man can pursue an unarmed teenager who was walking through his own neighborhood and shoot him dead, then get off scot-free is beyond me. It’s racism, plain and simple, and if you don’t believe that, you’re racist. I got into an argument with somebody on Facebook who actually said that while Trayvon Martin’s death is sad, the real tragedy is that race was dragged into this issue when race has nothing to do with it. No, the tragedy is that an innocent child was shot dead, you fucking bigot. If the worst fate you can imagine is being labeled a bigot, you’re a bigot.

The only other thing I’ll say about this for now is that while it is tempting to point a finger at the jury, all things considered, they’re probably the least responsible for this whole travesty. The whole justice system failed us here, beginning with that idiotic and thoroughly wicked Stand Your Ground law. It was designed to protect people who don’t need protecting. That’s a fact.

While I’m ranting, I’d like to add that even though I hate Glee, I was genuinely saddened by the death of Cory Monteith. There are douchebags out there saying that he brought it on himself by ODing, but the fact is that he was coerced into taking drugs at a very young age, battled addiction for years, and had been sober for months before falling off the wagon and taking a dose that would scarcely have affected him if he hadn’t gone cold turkey (that’s called “tolerance”, and it’s a dangerous thing). So spare me the moralizing. Addiction doesn’t just fuck with your head, it basically changes the way your brain even functions. Show some respect.

Oh, and it sucks that Pacific Rim underperformed at the box office this weekend. I saw it on Saturday and had lots of fun, thinking it was refreshing to see a big budget summer blockbuster that was stylish, visually stimulating and not a remake, an adaptation, a sequel or a prequel. It got beaten out by Grown-Ups 2, a film so lazy that its poster just features high school pictures of its stars (to remind us of what regular guys they are). If you saw that movie, kill yourself. You’ll be doing us all a favor.

russians

As if that wasn’t enough, now I can’t travel to Russia. Fuck you, Vladimir Putin. I hope the U.S. boycotts the 2014 Olympics.

I’m having trouble sleeping these days. This is my attempt to work through it. I hope you enjoy it on some level.