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Memores acti prudentes futuri


I want to be wrong, but
no one here wants to fight me
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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Unexpected hello
Sunday, November 19, 2017
A man kissed me on the cheek as a greeting today. It was innocuous, but I was so surprised by it that it's been on my mind since then. I've talked with him before and I didn't feel like he was making a pass at me or anything like that, but it still felt strange. Hopefully he didn't catch my cold.

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Birding
Saturday, November 18, 2017
I went birding for the first time this morning. It was nice, although I think I was the only one in the group who was under 40 years old. I didn't have very good binoculars, but people were sharing their scopes, so I got to see some of the birds pretty clearly anyway.

It's winter birding season, which I guess means that most of what's available is shorebirds and wading birds? I think that's what the other people were saying, anyway. There were too many birds for me to keep track of, but I learned a lot of new bird names and got some pictures as well.

Here are a couple of least sandpipers. They're very tiny compared to some of the other birds in the area, but I couldn't get a good comparison shot.


Dowagers! These are more medium sized. The leader of the group pointed them out by describing the motion they make with their heads as being like a sewing machine needle going up and down. They're using their beaks to dig for some breakfast.


Avocets.

The birds don't compete with each other for food because they all have different beak lengths.

Black necked stilts.


Someone estimated that there were thousands of birds at the slough. I didn't take a picture of the crowd, though. I think there's a long-billed curlew in the middle of the picture here, but it's hard to see. Possibly also some marbled godwits? Honestly all the shorebirds look pretty similar to me and I don't have the experience to tell them apart very well yet.


---

Think I've been dealing with PMS again. Last night I was up for hours in bed just feeling pissed off about a bunch of stuff to the point where I couldn't sleep. It's really frustrating, because I know logically that the things I'm angry over aren't really worth being angry over, but I can't make the feeling go away. It's been hard recently too, what with not being able to work out (still not fully recovered...). I was reading up on some ways to potentially reduce the emotional symptoms... one article suggested taking calcium supplements, which was interesting. Can't hurt, I guess. I haven't been good about taking my vitamins recently because uh... well, you're supposed to take them with food, ideally, and I... haven't really been eating meals? Kind of just a piece of toast here, some fruit there, that kind of thing. >.> Appetite is bad again. I was eating a lot more while I was sick because I wanted to have the energy to get better, but now that the cold is on its way out, I haven't been trying as much to eat... :T Even when I feel hungry, which isn't much, there's just... nothing that appeals to me. Things taste okay, and I don't feel sick if I eat, but I'm just feeling meh in general about food.

On the positive side... I guess I've been eating enough at least to not have really messed up periods...? Back in 2014 when I was barely eating and I was cold all the time, I got my period after 16 days once. That was... not cool.

They're shutting off the power to my house on Monday... It's to put a new power panel in, so I don't think it should be off for longer than like... a day, but no power for pretty much the whole day, I hear. Good thing I have books to read. And hopefully enough candles/flashlights that it won't be a pain to read them in the evening. I think that without the distraction of the computer, I can probably finish the main book I'm working on, The Righteous Mind by Jonathan Haidt, in a day. It's pretty enjoyable and there are only three or four hundred pages left.

I've been seeing this referenced a lot on Reddit/Imgur.

"It is possible to commit no mistakes and still lose. That is not a weakness. That is life."

I think it's true, but it's hard to know when you didn't make any mistakes but lost anyway. Life is very ambiguous, and my feeling is that there's almost always something you could be doing better than you are currently. Guess this quote is more about having self-compassion and not being too hard on yourself when you did your best, though.

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Deception and duty in the goldfish sea
Thursday, November 16, 2017
Decided to do some light searching for teetotaler groups. Not much came up, but there's a Meetup group that's specifically alcohol-free, so I requested membership there. Worth a shot. Would be nice to meet someone who shares my lifestyle choices.

---

I submitted my application and should be getting interviewed soon. Maybe I should feel excited, but... I don't. I guess I'm wary because of the last school. My therapist used to try to reassure me by suggesting that I might find my koi pond in grad school, but it was only more goldfish and disappointment. I'm not hoping for much this time around.

One of the books I'm reading, The Righteous Mind: Why Good People Are Divided by Politics and Religion by Jonathan Haidt, talks about how people who think a lot about morality (specifically philosophers of ethics) aren't actually likely to be better people than people who don't, on average. I'm not particularly surprised by that conclusion. You can talk the talk without walking the walk. I had enough of that at my last school. It's a problem with psychology school in general-- a lot of people think they're helpful and good listeners, but they're actually not, and they don't take the time to seriously hone their skills and figure out what it means to be better and implement those changes.

While I don't think anybody like that is necessarily intending to deceive, I find their inconsistency a bit... disgusting, I suppose. Can't call them liars, because lying is telling a falsehood with the intent to deceive (meaning you have to know that you're not telling the truth), but I don't know what else would fit as a descriptor.

I think it especially bothers me when people are deceptive (about themselves, to others or to themselves) in this field because it seems like such potential to harm others. If you're supposed to be administering therapy and you're a terrible listener who lacks the empathy and awareness to understand your clients, you could really screw up someone's experience with therapy, and that person might never come back, or they might come out feeling worse than they started. The idea of that really bothers me. Angers me, even. I'm told that a lot of these people who suck at listening might actually learn a lot during internship, which I hope is true.

Not trying to say I'm a perfect listener myself, as I know I have blind spots and there are always mistakes to correct for. I guess the difference is that I don't go around bragging about how I'm such a great listener. Actually I'm not sure I even think of myself as a great listener, or particularly empathetic, or understanding, or whatever else. I'm trying to be those things, but for myself, I only really look to see if I've at least made some progress from, say, ten years ago, and I'm hesitant to make comments about my current state. I'm trying to do better, I can leave it at that.

---

I read a post earlier on Reddit about motivation vs. discipline and how they factor into results. The poster was arguing that waiting for motivation to strike you is a trap, and you need discipline to push through and get where you want to be. There were some issues with the way it was described in the post, but it made me think. Motivation here could be the "want" and discipline is the "need" to do something. Like a self-obligation, maybe. I think the word 'obligation' has negative connotations attached to it, because people don't like thinking that they "have" to do things, but I wish it weren't seen as such a bad thing.

This generation, my generation, has gotten so many motivational speeches and lectures and fluffy Facebook/Instagram/whatever posts about how you should follow your passion and do what you love in life. There's this strong implication that everyone has this fire burning inside of them that will drive them if they only let it. That's some straight up bullshit for a good chunk of people though. Not everybody has a passion. I think what I'm interested in is important but I would never describe it as a passion. I didn't even want to major in psychology for a long time. It seems more accurate to say I do what I do, I put all this effort in, because I have to. Sometimes that overlaps with wanting to, but a lot of times it doesn't. I don't have discipline in all areas of my life but I try to maintain it here, in my attempts to improve. There are plenty of times it would seem easier to just let myself go and be lazy and selfish, but that would also be repugnant to the point where I don't know if I'd even consider such an existence worth living.

---

Old favorite. "Schism" by Tool.

I know the pieces fit 'cause I watched them fall away
Mildewed and smoldering, fundamental differing
Pure intention juxtaposed will set two lovers' souls in motion
Disintegrating as it goes testing our communication
The light that fueled our fire then has burned a hole between us so
We cannot seem to reach an end, crippling our communication

I know the pieces fit 'cause I watched them tumble down
No fault, none to blame, it doesn't mean I don't desire to
Point the finger, blame the other, watch the temple topple over
To bring the pieces back together, rediscover communication

The poetry that comes from the squaring off between
And the circling is worth it
Finding beauty in the dissonance

There was a time that the pieces fit, but I watched them fall away
Mildewed and smoldering, strangled by our coveting
I've done the math enough to know the dangers of our second guessing
Doomed to crumble unless we grow, and strengthen our communication

Cold silence
Has a tendency
To atrophy any
Sense of compassion
Between supposed lovers
Between supposed brothers

I know the pieces fit

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Phrases for things you already know
Saturday, November 11, 2017
I had a friend, briefly, who was interested in philosophy, but refused to read anything regarding other people's philosophy, because he found the idea that someone might have the same ideas as him unbearable. That was very strange to me, as I had almost a polar opposite perspective. I found it comforting to know that I wasn't alone in my thoughts, and furthermore, most often other people had expanded on ideas in ways I hadn't, which gave me more to think about. Additionally, it seemed inefficient to me to ignore the works of past philosophers-- once I knew what was already out there, I could move on to new thoughts rather than thinking redundantly.

Anyway, I enjoy finding out that people have already named phenomena I don't have words for. One example is "talking past each other" (Wikipedia entry here). I wasn't familiar with this concept prior to my fourth ex pointing it out to me, but once I knew what it was... I realized it was happening all the time, haha (Baader-Meinhof, anyone?). For those too lazy to click the link, basically it's just when you're talking with someone and you think you're talking about the same thing but you're actually talking about two different things and not engaging with each other's points.

---

Still coughing... -Sigh-

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Stress clouds
Friday, November 10, 2017
I started reading a fascinating blog post series about System Justification theory yesterday night. It's an eight part series, so I haven't finished it yet, but the second post in the series reminded me of something:

Under stress, we tend to default to heuristic thinking.

As a reminder, heuristics are just mental shortcuts, easy cognitive patterns that we use to make quick judgements. That's not always a bad thing, as in most cases, they will do well enough. It does become harmful though when we're presented with a lot of complex information which requires more nuance in thought in order to comprehend fully (or at least, more fully).

Anyway, I mention this because Fro recently asked if anybody had ever pointed out that I engage in a lot of black and white thinking. This isn't a typical critique that people level at me, but yes, I have been told that before. However, I think it's important to qualify that statement; I engage in a lot of black and white thinking some of the time. It's not evenly spread out by any means, at least as not as far as I can tell. To the extent that I'm self-aware, my usage of it spikes when I'm, surprise surprise, depressed (or under a lot of stress). And hey, that makes sense. Black and white thinking is a kind of cognitive laziness. It's easier to say something is either/or than to try to tease out its subtleties and multiple facets. In a state of depression or stress, you don't necessarily have the cognitive resources available to think as thoroughly as you would in a more positive mood state.

I feel like it's also important to flesh out the context of Fro's comment and my feelings about it. I was talking to her about someone I had a bad experience with, and my negative feelings about that-- primarily focusing on the things I disliked about the situation. I think that, given the information she had to work with, what she said wasn't unreasonable, but I think she didn't completely grasp my process for handling these things.

When something goes badly between me and a person, ending our friendship, then I tend to view them very negatively for a short period of time. Maybe even all negatively. It helps me distance myself from the situation, and with some distance, I can scale it back a notch and be a bit more forgiving. Not everybody is willing to deal with that, and that's okay. I didn't talk to Kyle or Trevor for a year after we had our respective falling outs, and felt pretty negatively towards both of them, but the feelings faded with time and then we were able to reconnect. I think the distance and time was necessary. The strong negative feelings surrounding the fall outs might not have been necessary, but I think they did help move along the process by encouraging me to cut off contact. Otherwise... I think it's possible that things would have kept going, but there would have been this slow-burning resentment that could have eventually killed any desire I had to be friends. I usually swing back from those short intense bouts of emotion, but not from the long slow burns.

So yeah, black and white thinking is kind of like the rough draft of an essay for me... Start out with very large dichotomous categorization, whittle things down and separate them out into grey zones from there. I always imagine it like a pendulum swinging back and forth, with smaller arcs each time.

I guess I feel like the important part of this is that even if I start by making things seem black and white, they don't stay that way to me. "Black and white thinking" has a very strong implication that you don't break down your dichotomies any further, which I don't believe completely applies to me. Those big categories are just a jumping off point, because well... you have to start with something.

Still pretty sick at the moment. Was up past 5 AM because I couldn't stop coughing long enough to fall asleep. It sucks, but at the same time... I'm strangely not tired? This is, weirdly enough, the most energetic I've been in quite a long time. Too bad I can't actually do anything because I'm sick...

---Edit---

Whoops. It's almost 2:30 AM now and apparently my parents can hear my coughing through the wall and it's keeping them up. >.> I guess last night they went to bed early enough that they were already asleep before the coughing got really bad, but they weren't so lucky tonight. My mom came out and asked if I was using the humidifier... I told her that I brought it out but there was mold inside because whoever used it last didn't dry it out before storing it, and that I clean it thoroughly enough tonight to use it, so we put it in a bucket with some diluted bleach and hopefully that sorts things out. For now, my dad put a basin in my room with hot water to hopefully get some steam into the air. Not sure if it will work but I suppose it's better than not trying anything. Still not tired enough or able to stop coughing long enough to sleep, but... I'm making progress on my essay? So that's good?

Sure wish the doctor had prescribed me the codeine cough syrup I used to have instead of these little benzonatate capsules. I don't think they're working at all. :

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Poetry
Wednesday, November 8, 2017
I don't really like the word 'poetry' or what it entails. It brings up connotations of pretentiousness, angst and ostentatious phrasing bundled up in a few pseudo-intellectual, self-satisfied lines.

And yet I love poetry, at the same time. Despite what I associate with the word, I know there are wonderful poems out there. There are poems that repeat in my mind for years after first reading them. There are poems that describe feelings I've never known how to explain or share with other people. There are poems that make me laugh, and poems that make me cry. There are poems I marvel at, unable to comprehend how someone could write something so perfectly structured and composed.

When I want to write, but I don't want to flesh out a blog post, I sometimes end up writing poetry instead. It's rarely edited or planned out; if anything it's just a more raw version of whatever I'm thinking. It exists in a twilight zone between bullet points and full sentences.

Because I know this blog is public, I backspace a lot and edit and formulate what I want to say based on the knowledge that people I know might be reading it. That filter isn't there for poetry, which I generally don't share with people. If we were going to make a crude comparison between the two, we could call it a left brain/right brain thing, I suppose. There's always some amount of restraint here. Blog posts are written for myself and others. Poetry is written just for me.

Nobody else has to understand it because nobody will see it.

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Scrubbed
Tuesday, November 7, 2017
Front bathroom is finally done. I'm not a fan of the new vanity but I guess I'll adapt.

At least I don't have to rush to brush my teeth before my parents go to sleep now.

Still feeling fairly sick, but got a new prescription cough suppressant today, which I think is helping. I was exhausted and in pain from how much I was coughing yesterday. It's a strange cold, though, and seems to primarily be affecting my chest. I'm not congested and I don't have that grogginess I often associate with colds. Throat doesn't hurt either, it's just that there's this feeling like my chest and throat have some kind of thick foam in them that's full of small rocks.

Despite the sickness, I feel quite well mentally/emotionally. More calm and at peace than I have for a few months. I guess that in a sense I did some cleaning and sorting in my mind. Evicting people from my mental space seems to help with that when I can do it successfully.

Listening to "Power Of Darkness" by Danzig lately.


There's something cathartic about this kind of music. It's harsh, but in the way that a wire brush is harsh against caked-on grime.

---

I've been reading a little about slow looking, which is pretty much what it sounds like: looking at things slowly. Specifically, it's supposed to be slow looking at art in order to develop a deeper understanding and appreciation of the piece. The articles I read suggested briefly walking around a museum to get a sense of the collection, and then coming back to something that stood out to you and getting more acquainted with it over a period of minutes (or even hours). Twenty minutes or so was the low end of the recommendations I saw for length.

It's an interesting idea to me, and something I'd like to try. I'm kind of tired of this lifestyle of darting around between things, scrolling, swiping, moving on. There have been times when I'd have really liked to spend more time looking at things, but felt pressured to move on and look at something else. It's hard to take your time when you're with other people. Maybe I just don't meet many people who have the patience or focus to stay with a single thing for very long.

People treat boredom like a sickness to be cured... But the constant stream of entertainment we feed ourselves to stave off boredom, what consequences does it have? I've fallen prey to it too, and I feel less creative than I used to be, less inspired. Like I don't think as productively, as expansively, because there are so many available distractions. That might sound odd, considering how much I think regardless...

I wonder if I should try to spend more time just with myself, not connected to things. I did that to some extent when I used to go walking, but I still had my music, which is a buffer against the world and a distraction, as much as I'm attached to it. Maybe I need to relearn how to slow down and be bored, to see what I'll find.

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Yoga
Sunday, November 5, 2017
The more I do yoga, the more I realize that:

a) Yoga is difficult
b) Yoga is boring
c) I really don't like yoga

But just because I suck at it and don't enjoy it very much doesn't mean I shouldn't give it a chance. I was terrible at Pilates at first too, but I came to enjoy it. I'm not sure if that will happen with yoga but I might as well go to a few more classes if they fit into my schedule. What I can't figure out is why the room feels so warm during yoga. It seems like my hands and feet get sweaty and it's hard to hold positions, which is strange because I don't normally have that issue in other classes.

Anyway, I look around at the other people in the yoga classes who very obviously are into yoga and know what they're doing, and I know I'm not as good at it as them and I get confused and tired and a little overwhelmed trying to attempt some of the poses, but that just means I have to try harder.

Giving up is weakness.

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