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Memores acti prudentes futuri

Shown to the place you fold
there's nothing to be without it
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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Grading on improvement
Tuesday, October 3, 2017
"The Start of Something" by Voxtrot.

Steady your ears, steady your ears and read my lips
Poetry is not a luxury, it's how I break this home
And when I'm really ill, won't you cradle me?
Man is not a noble animal but maybe woman is

Remember, I heard you...

Inside your room you said:
"You never really live until your back's against the wall,"
Oh, did you really mean it?
No, I never break my gaze, if just to see the scar
Remain reflected in your eyes
I think it's time to go home


It always seemed like classes that graded based on improvement were unfair to the students who were already performing at the top. When you're already good, your progress slows down. You don't make the leaps and bounds that less-practiced people do. The progress you make isn't impressive anymore, because the contrast between before and after isn't as prominent.

A teacher only gets a small window into your life, and they're grading you only on what they see in that window. Should you be lucky enough to enter the class an idiot, you can exit with a high grade so long as you do all the easy, obvious things to improve. Good job, A+, you're now twice as good as you were before!

I sometimes wondered if I should purposely make myself seem worse at the start, and cultivate the appearance of growth during the few weeks of the term, in order to secure an acceptable grade. Would it be cheating? To misrepresent where I was in life? Or would it be an expression of agency, an empowered attempt to balance for the disadvantage of starting out at the place that would get another student an A at the end of the term? I never purposely produced low quality work or presented myself as ignorant, though I thought about it numerous times.


The daily grind of improvement isn't impressive, only the comparison between where you were and where you are is. You sum up years of work in a sentence to wow people for a moment. Nobody is interested in all the attempts, all the failures, all the observations, calculations, plans to do it a little better next time. Next time, try this. Next time, avoid that. Rinse and repeat until you're different. Boring!

Sometimes I feel uninteresting because I spent a lot of my time on those little tasks that aren't impressive or cool to tell people about, and I don't engage in many other activities. Really don't like conversations revolving around "what do you do" for that reason...

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Better get to sleep before the really bad thoughts come [4P]
Monday, October 2, 2017
Be it extremely emotional, controversial, messed up, or whatever, this entry has been password protected.

If you know it, enter it; or, ask me for it.

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Art and high school digressions [4P]
Sunday, October 1, 2017
Be it extremely emotional, controversial, messed up, or whatever, this entry has been password protected.

If you know it, enter it; or, ask me for it.

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Games and excerpts
Saturday, September 30, 2017
I played games with friends today, which was nice. Woke up around 8:30ish AM and played Dungeon of the Endless with Kyle. We started a game last night and finished it this morning, then started another before he had to leave to have lunch with friends. I didn't really enjoy it much when I first got the game, because I really sucked on my own, but it's much more fun playing with him. Also nice to do something fun together. It's... been a really long time. Boy though, didn't sleep much last night! We saved our game at 2 AM and just took a few hours off to sleep before resuming, haha.

Also played To the Moon while sharing screens on Skype with my other friend so he could watch. There were some jokes in the game, but overall it left me in something of a serious, contemplative mood. It felt like there was a lot to unpack there, but we didn't really have the time to discuss it in depth. He commented that "Its like they never really met with each other emotionally on the same level" in regards to the characters who are the focus of the game, and it was a sad theme, but... I guess that also feels like a true statement about every relationship, to me. I only seem to see mismatches, never perfect fits. That could be an ingrained disillusionment with connection, though. Not the idea of it in itself-- just, the possibility of it seems slim at best. I try to be optimistic about it, but a lot of the time it feels like the feeling of connection is really just a congruent misunderstanding. Like you're never really getting what the other person is saying because you're filtering it through so much of yourself, but it's in such a way that you don't notice the discrepancies and can maintain a sense of harmony and happiness about it. As if you're colorblind and you never find out that what you see as 'red' isn't what other people see as 'red' at all. Not to disparage that feeling... You can still feel very close to people and be legitimately happy that way. I just find the disconnect inherently sad.


For maybe a few years now I've been occasionally thinking about a story I once read in an old science fiction lit magazine. I went and found it (thank goodness it wasn't in one of my dad's sci fi anthologies, or it would have taken me much longer), and I didn't reread the whole thing, but I found the part that stuck in my memory.

The story is "Undone" by James Patrick Kelly, and in it, a space traveler named Mada and her ship are wandering around and find a utopia with an interesting cultural quirk; they don't have currency as we know it, but they thrive on what are described as "comments"-- criticisms, basically. Mada goes to a restaurant and has some kind of fancy meal, which she praises and says is perfect, and the chef is distressed by her reaction. The waiter who served her then tells her that he considers himself a poet and shares a poem he wrote with her, and she also compliments it, to his unhappy surprise. She ends up going back in time a bit to remedy her mistake.
"They want criticism," said Mada. "They like to think of themselves as artists but they're insecure about what they've accomplished. They want their audience to engage with what they're doing, help them make it better-- the comments they both seem to expect."

Though I'd never describe myself as an artist (and definitely don't want to be called one by anybody), I found this relatable. It's a strange, sort of repugnant description of things, but... it fits with how I feel.

Some other quotes from the story that I liked...
When Mada asks the waiter who served her if he still thinks one of her features is unattractive (with the implication that he found her unattractive), he responds with:
"Just because you make a comment on some aspect doesn't mean you reject the work as a whole."

And later they are having a picnic together:
"I have a present for you," he said after they were stuffed. "I wrote you a poem." He did not stand; there were no large, flailing gestures. Instead he slid the picnic basket out of the way, leaned close, and whispered into her ear.

"Loving you is like catching rain on my tongue.
You bathe the leaves, soak indifferent ground;
Why then should I get so little of you?
Yet still, like a flower with a fool's face
I open myself to the sky."

I guess I don't really know what to say about this poem except that I found it rather beautiful, and rather wistful.

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Something nice
Wednesday, September 27, 2017
At work tonight, when the dad of one of the 2 year olds came to pick her up and she saw him, she threw her head back and screamed with delight, and it made me smile.


Otherwise I'm feeling kind of worn out and disheartened.

"Intro" by Jonathan Ian.

Music for the mood.

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Tuesday, September 26, 2017
It's really nice to have a friend who will notice something seems off without my saying anything, and then take the initiative to call me about it.

-->Reasons Fro is my best female friend

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Solidifying steps
Tuesday, September 26, 2017
I'm thinking again about the passage I posted a few entries back from Man's Search for Meaning. Specifically this part:
And there were always choices to make. Every day, every hour, offered the opportunity to make a decision, a decision which determined whether you would,or would not submit to those powers which threatened to rob you of your very self, your inner freedom; which determined whether or not you would become the plaything of circumstance, renouncing freedom and dignity to become molded into the form of the typical inmate.

Frankl himself admits that he wasn't always able to be his best self under the difficult circumstances he faced, but it's clear that he did try. The effort matters.

I'm also reminded of something that Joël mentioned while I was visiting Becka and him in Australia. When he was preparing to interview at Google, he spent some number of months (six, I think?) learning about Google and its culture and doing research on how to ace an interview there. He read one book that talked about how Google wants people to be very ambitious, and so they expect people to meet something like 75% of their goals. Now, 75% seems kind of low, but the idea is that if you're meeting your goals 100%, your goals are not ambitious enough. When I think about things from this perspective, I feel... somewhat better about not getting every single thing right. I'm ambitious in this regard, and that's not a bad thing, so long as I don't beat myself up over every failure. Failures are just learning opportunities, after all.

So anyway, I'm asking myself, "how can I be my best self across as many situations as possible?" and trying to give myself some basic directions to simplify things. Thinking through this, I come to the conclusion that I have to be aware of myself first and foremost. If I don't realize how I'm being in any given moment, how can I be my best self? Sort of an obvious starting point, but it is tricky. I don't think people, myself included, are often aware of the ways they're being influenced by external situations. This is a big part of why I have a checklist to run through if I notice my mood seems pretty negative. I keep it in a task tab in Gmail for quick access.

When I was younger and my mom and brother and I would fight, my dad often suggested we eat something, and I thought it was a dumb way to address the problem, but he had a point-- when you're hungry you tend to be more irritable and less charitable. Same goes for the other things on that checklist for me personally. If I'm lacking any of those then my mood can take a hit.

It's helpful to me to be aware of those influences so that I can correct for them. Otherwise it's easy to just rationalize away bad behavior. It's especially easy to feel justified in acting badly if you've been through a lot of stress. We see this commonly when people take out their anger on others (the defense mechanism known as displacement).

Frankl gives an example of this kind of behavior in his description of one of the ways some of the concentration camp prisoners reacted to being freed:
During this psychological phase one observed that people with natures of a more primitive kind could not escape the influences of the brutality which had surrounded them in camp life. Now, being free, they thought they could use their freedom "licentiously and ruthlessly. The only thing that had changed for them was that they were now the oppressors instead of the oppressed. They became instigators, not objects, of willful force and injustice. They justified their behavior by their own terrible experiences. This was often revealed in apparently insignificant events. A friend was walking across a field with me toward the camp when suddenly we came to a field of green crops. Automatically, I avoided it. but he drew his arm through mine and dragged me through it. I stammered something about not treading down the young crops. He became annoyed, gave me an angry look and shouted, "You don't say! And hasn't enough been taken from us? My wife and child have been gassed not to mention everything else - and you would forbid me to tread on a few stalks of oats!"

Only slowly could these men be guided back to the commonplace truth that no one has the right to do wrong, not even if wrong has been done to them. We had to strive to lead them back to this truth, or the consequences would have been much worse than the loss of a few thousand stalks of oats. I can still see the prisoner who rolled up his shirt sleeves, thrust his right hand under my nose and shouted, "May this hand be cut off if I don't stain it with blood on the day when I get home!" I want to emphasize that the man who said these words was not a bad fellow. He had been the best of comrades in camp and afterwards.

I know I just shared this clip a few days ago, but it felt relevant again because of this one line:

"Well, I'm sorry that things have been so hard for you, but that doesn't give you the right to be shitty to me."

I feel like this is one of those things that seems obscenely obvious when you hear it said, but until that point it isn't necessarily. Or at least, it wasn't for me. I had to learn that it wasn't okay to take things out on other people because I felt bad, and that it wasn't okay for them to do that to me either.

There's a constant stream of choices to make about how to behave and how to view what happens to me, and for awhile I've been feeling like it's a burden to always have to choose the "right" path, but I'm reframing things now. When a difficult situation is presented to me it is a challenge and a test of my commitment to my goals. It's an opportunity to prove to myself that I can do the things that are important to me, and that's ultimately good.

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Nothing here
Monday, September 25, 2017
Ran 2 miles (not continuously), walked 0.7. Went to CSI afterwards.

Mood was pretty low beforehand, slowly got a bit better afterwards.

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