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Memores acti prudentes futuri

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A few words
"When we describe the Moon as dead, we are describing the deadness in ourselves. When we find space so hideously void, we are describing our own unbearable emptiness."
~ D.H. Lawrence

"Is the meaning of life defined by its duration? Or does life have a purpose so large that it doesn't have to be prolonged at any cost to preserve its meaning?"

"Living is not good, but living well. The wise man, therefore, lives as well as he should, not as long as he can... He will always think of life in terms of quality not quantity... Dying early or late is of no relevance, dying well or ill is... even if it is true that while there is life there is hope, life is not to be bought at any cost."
~ Seneca

"People will tell you nothing matters, the whole world's about to end soon anyway. Those people are looking at life the wrong way. I mean, things don't need to last forever to be perfect."
~ Daydream Nation

"All Bette's stories have happy endings. That's because she knows where to stop. She's realized the real problem with stories-- if you keep them going long enough, they always end in death."
~ The Sandman: Preludes & Nocturnes

"The road now stretched across open country, and it occurred to me - not by way of protest, not as a symbol, or anything like that, but merely as a novel experience - that since I had disregarded all laws of humanity, I might as well disregard the rules of traffic. So I crossed to the left side of the highway and checked the feeling, and the feeling was good. It was a pleasant diaphragmal melting, with elements of diffused tactility, all this enhanced by the thought that nothing could be nearer to the elimination of basic physical laws than deliberately driving on the wrong site of the road."
~ Vladimir Nabokov, Lolita

"It is easier to forgive an enemy than to forgive a friend."
~ William Blake
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Saturday, February 10, 2018
"Hammock" by Millionyoung.

Oh there once was an island, lost in the sea
Once were two lovers, just my love and me
While we laid in our hammock, the sun in our eyes
I told her I loved her, and that we'd survive

This song is lush and delirious with a touch of darkness, like spinning around in a humid jungle, all the colors of everything blurring together in your vision. Looking for someone you can't find.

I socialized with people today, but it left me feeling exhausted, just totally emotionally drained. Sadness is seeping in a little because of the tiredness. I think I'll probably feel more energized in the morning though.

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Fresh start...
Friday, February 9, 2018
I had a really fun date tonight! It's weird to knowingly declare that I went on a date, but well, that's what it was, I suppose. Feels alien, this concept of going on dates, but apparently that's a thing I do now.

We met up around 6 PM and got dinner at an Indian restaurant, and both of us got dosas that were suuuuuper spicy. Like, so-hot-it-makes-you-cry spicy. My eyes were watering that entire meal, and I kept having to wipe them so I could see. It was enjoyable though, and we were both laughing a lot about it. I think it was a great way to get comfortable with each other! We talked for awhile at the restaurant about a lot of things, and he disclosed some stuff about himself and his history that he thought I should know. I really appreciated his honesty. I don't think anything was necessarily a dealbreaker, but we'll see how things look as we get to know each other better.

After dinner, he drove us to mini golf. Both of us were bad, but I was clearly worse, haha. We just stopped trying to keep score eventually, because it took so many tries to get the ball into the hole that we lost count. I joked that my ball wouldn't stop coming back to me because it loved me. He thought that was a sweet way to look at it. It felt very easy to talk to him, and the conversation flowed well. I'm sure it helped that we had an activity to take up some of our attention, though.

He asked if I'd be down to go to a park afterwards, and I said yeah. It was a bit cold outside at that point, so he gave me his jacket to wear. We walked to a nearby grocery store first and got a couple things to drink and a pack of gum. I told him I liked folding things out of gum wrappers, and he gave me his to fold, so I folded into a heart (the only thing I really ever make). He put it in the front pocket of his shirt. I'm guessing he won't remember it's there, haha. After looking up nearby parks on his phone, we decided to walk to one that was about 20 minutes away. He seemed happy that I said I'd rather walk there than drive.

The park was pretty well-lit, though the lights themselves were that soft sodium yellow that lets the night retain some mystery. I saw a big fake rock on the playground and went straight for it, climbing up to sit on top, and he followed me. We sat there for a good chunk of time just chatting about stuff-- past experiences, the value of suffering, growth, philosophy-- and I felt like we'd thought about a number of things in similar ways, but had reached different conclusions. It was very interesting. At some point he said he'd like to sit against a tree to have some back support, so we got down off the rock and went to a tree. He asked if I was okay sitting on the ground, and I said no, because you can't see what's on the ground and there could be bugs. I was semi-kidding, but I was like "what if I get bugs in my pants? I don't want bugs in my pants!" and he laughed and asked why not. Funnily enough, after we'd been sitting there for a bit, he was like "...I think we're on an ant hill or something, because I'm pretty sure that there are ants on me right now. It feels like they're in my pants." I felt so vindicated. We ended up moving to a different tree, and he put his arm around me and pulled me closer to him. :3

I don't think I've ever cuddled on a first date before. I felt really comfortable with him though, so I didn't mind. It was nice. The cuddling was also somewhat motivated by the cold on his part, haha. I had his jacket on, so I wasn't too cold, but he was, and he was holding onto me because I was warm. XD I ended up sitting on his lap because my feet were falling asleep from the position I was in (kind of crouching but leaning against the tree), and I mentioned that and he pulled me onto his lap so that I could actually sit down. I'm surprised by how relaxed I was about it. It didn't feel weird or anything, even though I haven't known him that long.

Even though I enjoyed the cuddling, eventually I wanted to get up and go back to the playground, and we ended up sitting on the swings briefly. He said he had to go to the bathroom though, so he got up and tried the door of the park restroom, which was, predictably given the time of night, closed. I was like "I TOLD YOU IT WOULD BE LOCKED" and he said he'd have to go find a tree to go behind, and asked if I would be weirded out by that. I said I wouldn't be, so he went off somewhere to do it, and I climbed around on the playground equipment. I love being on playgrounds, and I wish it didn't feel taboo to do it as an adult.

I was jumping on the bridge when he got back. It was made of some kind of flexible suspended material, so I invited him to jump on it with me, and we bounced each other up a few times by jumping on it. He said it felt silly but he was clearly enjoying it from the way he was smiling. I ran around on the equipment some more, then asked what time it was, and he pulled out his phone and said it was around 1 AM. That was pretty surprising to me, as I thought it'd be closer to 10 PM. It felt like the evening had gone by so quickly. We hung around the park a little longer, then walked back to the mini golf course and took his car back to the restaurant, where my car was. Chatted a bit in the car, and I told him about how energy drinks can affect me. Illustrated my point by mimicking some of my hyper behaviors in the past, which he thought was cute. Around 2 AM though, it was time to part ways, because neither of us wanted to be too tired to drive home safely. We briefly discussed when we might be able to hang out next, but didn't make concrete plans.

Hanging out with him was really nice and I feel excited about doing it again. The stuff we talked about made me feel connected to him, and I'm very keen on exploring that connection.

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Embracing risk
Thursday, February 8, 2018
There is a person in my cohort who is a figure of some controversy, for various reasons. He doesn't speak the language of therapy school and has, somewhat inadvertently I think, rubbed a number of people the wrong way. As a result, some people feel less than friendly towards him, and I suspect he's having trouble making connections with our other classmates. I've talked to him a couple times now and he seems pretty sad about his life at the moment, and disappointed in how school is going. He had different expectations for what things would be like, and I think he feels pulled to continue his button-pushing behavior despite not wanting to be outcast.

Today in my T-group, this person became a topic of discussion. He's not in my group, but there are some people in my group who feel uncomfortable with his presence, and so they started talking about him in the circle. Yesterday he spoke in the big class (20+ people) most of our cohort is in, and he said some things which came off the wrong way to a few different people. Some of my classmates felt triggered by the event. As they spoke about their experience of him yesterday, I felt tension building in my chest at first, until it seemed to float up into my head as a massive buzzing.

The people who voiced their opinions all seemed to be more or less on the same page about him-- that is to say, they felt put off by him, and didn't want to hear him or be around him. I was afraid that sharing my take of what happened yesterday would put me at risk of being ostracized, but it felt like the right thing to do, so I told them that I had experienced his presence in our other class very differently than what had been shared. I thought he worded what he was trying to convey poorly, but I agreed with the sentiments behind it. What I didn't share was that I thought people's emotional reactions to their stereotyped image of him were blocking them from actually trying to understand what he was saying. That would have been too far, I think.

My group mates' response to me was not quite as negative as I'd feared it would be, but I don't think I inspired compassion in them either. Some of them commented on feeling like they should be able to find empathy for him, but not wanting to or not feeling capable of it.

As a child, I felt drawn to the people who were outcast by everyone else. I wanted to be friends with them, and I tried at first, but withdrew before too long because of a fear of becoming outcast by association. I've thought about this countless times since. It feels unquestionably wrong to me to abandon people, or not speak up for them, when everybody else is against them. I regret that I didn't have the strength or confidence to stay that course when I was younger. I don't want to make those mistakes again if I can help it.

I feel secure enough in myself and my friendships to not go along with what I perceive as the majority opinion now when it seems wrong to me. I don't want to succumb to das Man. I want to be authentic, and part of that means public exposure, however uncomfortable it might be. One of the biggest challenges I've informally set for myself in this program is being open about my dissenting opinions. I'm not interested in playing devil's advocate just for the sake of playing devil's advocate, but I don't want to lie if I disagree or feel differently than the other people expressing themselves. It's scary, because I don't like having a lot of attention on me, but it feels important.

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Discussion with a friend about physical attractiveness
Wednesday, February 7, 2018

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Friending/unfriending and quality of friendship
Tuesday, February 6, 2018
I was watching a video the other day about millennials and some of the patterns of the generation, and a minor point that came up in the video was that it can be a really big deal to some people to be unfriended on social media. This makes sense to me in theory, but I guess I just don't... share that feeling.

"Millennials in the Workforce, A Generation of Weakness - Simon Sinek" by After Skool.

I've been contemplating a number of the habits I've cultivated that have been protective, mostly unintentionally. My attitude towards social media is one of them. I didn't get Facebook until I was 19, which, while still within the crucial developmental period of my life, wasn't early enough for a lot of social media habits to become ingrained in me. Obviously I've been blogging on here for 10+ years, and I've felt some things come out of that (a pull to write in ways that attract more comments, for one), but I feel like I escaped the brunt of social media's influence during my adolescence. I've protected myself, but also isolated myself from the experience of my peers by doing this.

So in theory I do understand why unfriending is a big deal, but I don't have the up close sense of it that I wonder if I need to truly empathize. I unfriend people all the time, and keep my Facebook friends list very small-- it's limited to people I'm actively talking to, essentially. And actually, I regularly go through my list and unfriend people I haven't been talking to. I don't see unfriending as a definitive comment on my relationship with someone-- if at some point we talk regularly again, I can just add them back. That's what happened with Trevor. We had a break in our friendship, but now we talk again. It seems rare for friendships to survive like that, though. There's rarely enough investment for one or the other person to keep trying to reconnect, or that behavior gets shamed as clingy/aggressive.

I just don't see a lot of people fighting for their friendships or relationships, I guess. Not to say it doesn't happen, but for whatever reason, it's not represented well in the sample size I've gotten in life. I am appalled by what I perceive as the attitude many people take towards others-- that the relation is disposable, because they can always find a new one. The availability of instantaneous gratification and its degrading effects on the depth and strength of relationships is disturbing. Maybe it works for people, but that's not how I want to live my life or conduct my friendships. I wish there were an easier way to identify the people who didn't view things that way.

This latest person I've been having an intellectual discussion with-- maybe he gets it, we'll see. He's definitely intelligent enough to understand, I think, but this isn't something that is related solely to intelligence.

Another side of things is that I feel heavily discouraged from attempting to patch things up with people who were formally significant figures in my life, for a variety of reasons. One of the biggest is that there's no point if they're not also interested, and many people aren't because they ultimately treat people as replaceable, whether or not they realize it. I also don't want to face scoldings from my friends about "hanging on" to things, even though that mindset feels terribly wrong to me. They're coming from a place of good intentions, I think-- they want me to be happy, and they think that being happy means "not thinking about it" and "getting over it"-- but we don't have the same goals.

I think something that hasn't changed about me in a long time is that none of my goals include "be happy" anywhere. This seems like something people easily forget about me, or don't understand to begin with. Happiness has been a fortuitous side effect of my other efforts to be a better person, but that's it.

Whether or not it feels good or is easy, I just want to try to do the right thing, the way I've defined it for myself.

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Something encouraging
Sunday, February 4, 2018
I got to have a conversation tonight about personal philosophies and ethics, which was heartening. It's been awhile since I met someone I could talk to about that on a more equal level. Usually the people I talk to fall into one of a few categories:
-Pseudo-intellectuals who use unnecessarily flowery language to convey poorly-thought-out ideas
-People who haven't thought about things and aren't interested in getting deep into a discussion
-Interested folks who are impressed by my perspective but don't have much to reciprocate with

It turned out that this person and I actually had some fairly similar ideas, but we worded them in different ways, so some of the conversation was a bit redundant until that was pointed out. Still refreshing, in any case. I meet plenty of smart people, but not that many who are also interested in talking about the things I am interested in. It's a particular flavor of thoughtfulness, I suppose. There are a lot of intelligent people, and a lot of people who think about philosophy, but for whatever reason, I don't meet the folks in the middle of that Venn diagram much. Just get all those annoying pseudo-intellectuals instead.

For example, today a guy messaged me and told me he had a thought experiment that could disprove the existence of God, then threw some inane garbage propositions at me that were full of baseless assumptions. His argument was too stupid to reproduce on my blog, but take my word for it when I say that it had more holes than substance.

Anyway, here's a picture I took of an oystercatcher when I visited the Sutro Baths last weekend.

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Sick again...
Saturday, February 3, 2018
It's fairly mild this time, at least so far, but I seem to have caught a cold or something, which I can't say I'm particularly pleased about. For some reason I've also been ravenously hungry these past couple days, so maybe that has to do with being sick.

I've been listening to this on repeat:

"56k (song made entirely from dial-up modem sound)" by RAC.

My dad called my name and asked if I was playing a song and how long it was. I said I just had it repeating and he was like "okay, well it's kind of annoying." Guess he doesn't like my beep boop music.

I attended a Mickaboo basic bird care class today, as the first step to potentially adopting some birds. The place it was held at had pigeons/doves and bunnies for adoption, and now I'm thinking about what it would be like to have pigeons as pets. I like pigeons, but they're not as cute as budgies. On the other hand, they are less work apparently, and are more cuddly. I mentioned thinking of adopting a bunny to my friend Henry, and he gave me a load of info on bunny care because he has a bunny. While I wasn't really looking for a ton of advice on the subject, it was helpful stuff to know if I ever do decide to get a bunny.


Lately I've been thinking about weakness and strength and what cultivates and contributes to each of those qualities. Overall I've been feeling good about myself and my life in general recently, minus a couple things, but I have felt a bit restless. It feels like I've been getting too many vague compliments and not enough (constructive) criticisms, I guess. I want to improve, but I'm in a place where I feel like external feedback would help me out, and I'm not getting enough information in that regard. It's all well and fine for people to say "just keep doing what you're doing," but that doesn't really give me anything new to work on.

Too many compliments starts to create an expectation of praise, and I don't like feeling like I need that. Praise is nice, but I don't want to feel antsy in its absence.

School is going well so far, and I'm having a much better time here than I was at school last year. There are some things I'm still worried about though, such as being pushed to treat people too delicately. I don't want to encourage weakness in other people by implying that I don't think they can handle stuff through my behavior towards them. Not saying that I think everybody should just buck up and deal with bad situations, but like... I generally believe that people are pretty capable of getting through tough times, and I want them to believe that about themselves too. I'm concerned that an overly careful PC culture could undermine people's sense of their own resilience. This hasn't been a problem so far, but I'm wary of it happening.

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Maybe not
Monday, January 29, 2018
The feelings have withdrawn.

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