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."
"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
Kill that boredom!
Binder Paper Comics
Web Comics and Such
A Distant Soil (Some nudity)
The Adventures of Gyno-Star (Some explicit stuff)
Blue Milk Special
Cigarro & Cerveja
Cyanide and Happiness
dead winter (has some explicit stuff)
Devilbear: The Grimoires of Bearalzebub (PG-13?)
Eat That Toast!
The Fancy Adventures of Jack Cannon
For Lack of a Better Comic
Girls with Slingshots (some explicit stuff...?)
The Intrepid Girlbot
The Last Halloween
Last Train to Old Town
The League of Evil Genius
Legend of Bill
Living With Insanity (some nudity)
Love Me Nice
Married to the Sea
The Moon Prince
Moth (Some nudity)
The Non-Adventures of Wonderella
Political Cartoonists Index
Poorly Drawn Lines
The Property of Hate
Robbie and Bobby
Saturday Morning Breakfast Cereal
Scenes from a Multiverse
The Secret Knots
Stand Still. Stay Silent
Strong Female Protagonist
The Super Fogeys
Tales of Pylea
Three Word Phrase (some nudity)
Tiny Kitten Teeth
Toothpaste for Dinner
Trying Human (Some nudity)
Two Guys and Guy
Yellow Peril (PG-13)
Infrequently/No Longer Updating Web Comics
The Abominable Charles Christopher
The Adventures of Dr. McNinja
The Adventures of Ellie Connelly
Bag of Toast
Bear in Mind
The Book of Biff
Chain Bear (Some explicit stuff)
Daisy is Dead
Ectopiary (Some nudity)
Edmund Finney's Quest to Find the Meaning of Life
A Fine Example
Finn and Charlie are HITCHED
Hark! A Vagrant
Head Doctor Productions
Hello with Cheese
Kyle & Atticus
Lesbian Pirates from Outer Space
Letters to a Wild Boar
Lovecraft is Missing
Meat and Plastic
The Nerds of Paradise
No Reason Comics
One Swoop Fell
Pictures for Sad Children
A Redtail's Dream
Roy's Boys (PG 13?)
Run Freak Run
The Super Gay Adventures of Ross Boston
YU + ME
Pure Flash Awesomeness
Die Anstalt : Toy Psychiatry
Clients from Hell
Creatures in My Head
Damn You Auto Correct!
Jhonen Vasquez's site
Overheard in New York
Passive Aggressive Notes
Having cake and eating it too
Wednesday, June 27, 2018
Thinking about money, and the way it's been valued in my family. We probably could have made a lot of money by investing in different things or focusing more on it. Sometimes I speculate on how much more financially well off I could have been if things were done differently. That's in the vein of counterfactual thinking and isn't productive, though.
I don't know that things would necessarily be better with more money. They could be worse... just with more money. My dad isn't focused on making as much money as he can or taking the largest share for himself he can get, and I think being more money-focused would be incongruent with traits in him that I value. He is kind and generous and considerate. He is unselfish and calm. Those don't seem like things worth giving up for more money.
Sometimes I feel like I can have everything I want if I just work hard enough, but maybe that's not true. Maybe I can't have a lot of money and also be the kind of person I aspire to be. Not everything is compatible or can be contained in the same person. I devote much of my mental energy to improving myself, and if I cared enough, maybe I could be using that to learn how to invest instead. Maybe I could only make a lot of money by sacrificing other valuable things. It's all tradeoffs. I have to think about what I really value and put my energy into that.
I need to remember not to expect too much from other people, too. Nobody can do everything. There are limits on what I can ask for from people without them having to take energy and resources away from what they care about. Have to keep reminding myself...
Thursday, June 21, 2018
I had a meeting with a prof today, and we ended up talking about one of my past relationships. I commented that I seem to have conflated difference with authenticity in the past, and she agreed. I've had this repeated experience of thinking someone was authentic and real because they didn't conform, but it's possible to be different and still be putting on a persona. It's possible to not be in touch with yourself and just have a different mold you're fitting yourself into than that of most people.
Maybe I take my ego strength for granted. I have sought out painful feedback and criticism and tried to find the constructive threads in it. I was raised on criticism, not compliments. I've learned not to crumble when something threatens my self-image. All those years of not entirely trusting myself to be correct, I guess. Nowadays I sometimes feel like I've veered too much into trusting myself and I need to step back again. It's a constant battle between maintaining humility and openness and feeling too self-assured. Maybe I've gotten too many compliments, haha. All that positive feedback has put me up on a pedestal and I keep wanting to guard myself from falling off. I don't want to become overly confident and arrogant, nor to think I always know what's right. I don't want to be blind to my own flaws. I also don't want to talk the talk and not walk the walk. Virtue signaling is gross.
I could have done better in some of my interactions recently, and I've been thinking about that. I would give myself a B- I guess. Maybe a C+. I know I am capable of doing much more than I have, but it does require me to be mindful and take a step back and swallow my own defenses, which is hard when to do when it's not happening on both sides. It's not productive to have an exchange mindset like that, though. My code of behavior is for how I want to act in the world, and I am striving to uphold that even when it doesn't feel like it's deserved. Need to remind myself of that sometimes. Life covers itself over, as Heidegger said...
It's hard to connect all my thoughts in a linear readable way, but I'm thinking about Maslow's hierarchy at the moment. More specifically, the idea of self-transcendence which is often left out of the model taught in school. At this point in my life, I feel like that's what I'm most interested in. Self-actualization is idealized in American culture, and self-transcendence less emphasized. It's late and I'm tired, so I'm not going to bother defining everything here, but the gist of it is that self-actualization is about fulfilling your potential and higher needs (e.g. intellectual, aesthetic) as opposed to lower ones like food and safety. Self-transcendence is about going beyond yourself. I think I want to connect with someone who also values that, but it's harder to find when you're not religious or some kind of new age hippie.
Some people say they met the love of their life when they were in middle age, 40s or 50s or even beyond. I hope I don't have to wait that long, but it seems hard to meet people who can appreciate what I have to offer. Being liked for being pretty and smart is... dissatisfying. Those are parts of me but they're not what make me an individual. It feels more meaningful when people appreciate me for my perspectives, for my choices in life, for what I create and what I challenge myself to do. For my journey. I want to find someone about whom I can appreciate those things too. I hope we can encourage and hold each other's authentic selves, including all the unsavory shadowy parts and the frustrating parts and the ugly parts. I hope we can have fights where we yell and cry and still love each other after. I hope we can have misunderstandings that hurt us but which get resolved and leave us stronger than we were before. I hope we can have faith in each other.
Variation on a dream
Monday, June 18, 2018
Occasionally I have dreams that I'm trapped somewhere and monsters/zombies/aliens/diseased people are closing in on me. Last night I had one of those.
In the dream, I was in an abandoned kitchen with my family, and we were desperately trying to figure out if we could hide from the creatures who were coming to kill us. I think they were mutated humans or something, kind of like the monsters in I Am Legend. We couldn't stop them from coming in, and none of the cupboards were big enough to hide in. The creatures burst into the house and fell upon us, and I watched them kill my dad. For some reason I got the idea to try to be aggressively confident and yell at them, and that seemed to work as camouflage somehow. They thought I was one of them because of how I was acting. I kept it up and they didn't kill me. Later on, I led a group of other survivors through the new society that was built by these other humans, and protected us from detection by maintaining my aggressive and boisterous demeanor.
I guess this dream stood out to me because usually there's no escape in these kinds of dreams. The creatures are taking over the world and I have no chance against them. I'm not sure what the significance is of my new ability to blend in with them and plot to subvert their dominance, but it feels very different than how these dreams have been for me in the past. I didn't have the hopeless fear that's more typical of them.
Wish I could talk to my therapist about it, but nothing's going to happen until July. I have an intake appointment scheduled for Friday though, so the process is at least getting started.
Tonight I talked to someone I hadn't chatted with in six months and it was really nice. It was just banter, but I feel like it scratched an itch I wasn't fully aware I had. At the end, he said he needed to sleep, and added "It was good catching up donít make me break the ice next time after 6 months," so I joked that I'd message him first in six months instead. Not sure when we'll next talk, but I enjoyed our conversation a lot and would like to talk more than once every six months, I think. Guess we'll see how things go.
In other news... I have gotten sucked back into incremental games. I have three different ones running right now. >_> They're easy to get into because they don't require my full attention and I can play them while I'm doing other things, but there aren't a lot of good ones. I feel like I'd appreciate this genre even more than I already do if I understood the math that goes into these things, but ah well. I can enjoy them on a surface level, anyway.
"Want To Believe" by Rich Aucoin.
Have I found what I needed?
Can you ever conceive it?
If I heard it in nothing, will I see it in something?
In times like this, I want to be a believer
Am I hardly existing?
Can I see what Iím missing?
When I die, is it ending?
Can I go on pretending?
In times like this, I want to be a believer
Sense of self, boundaries, being engulfed
Friday, June 15, 2018
We talk in my program about clients who cannot tolerate certain types of people for the fear of being engulfed. These people have poor senses of self and are easily permeated by others. They don't know how to hold their own against someone else's affect/emotions. In therapy, this type of person might fear a therapist who is too warm and supportive, because they don't know how to be loved without losing themselves.
I think there are other types of being engulfed, though. Some people cannot tolerate negativity in other people because they can't separate pain in others from their own pain. They are unable to hold both the feelings of another and their own feelings at the same time, and to maintain their affect, they run from people who are sad, or angry, or depressed; anything that could contaminate them and throw off their own balance is unbearable. This isn't necessarily conscious, although some people do seem to make it their life's mission to cut out anybody who makes them feel bad in some way. It seems like a popular "self care" strategy: Cut out toxic people! Exorcise negativity from your life!
Maybe that is needed for people who haven't yet developed the ego strength to bear the presence of others' emotions in depth, but I think it's a potentially dangerous road to go down. Much like with phobias, "cutting out negative people" is a way to box oneself into a limited life. Negativity is inevitable in life, and learning how to be present with it without being engulfed by it is important. Attempting to avoid it entirely is on some level motivated by fear of being unable to cope for it.
Now, I'm not saying the solution is to keep in contact with people who are severely abusive or unendingly depressed or have anger issues they're making no efforts to work on. When someone has a clear and detrimental effect on your ability to function and it really seems like they're not amenable to making constructive changes, that's a good reason to get out. I think what I'm describing is more about situations where someone seems to have persistent difficulty dealing with distress or pain in the other and their solution is to emotionally skip town.
Emotional resilience and being able to hold one's own boundaries (not in the sense of telling the person when you've had enough, but being able to keep a healthy amount of separation while still interacting and being empathetic) are talents for some and skills for others. They are capacities that can be developed. I think our culture is not particularly conducive to that, since there is a drive to be positive at all times and not "dwell" on negative things by giving them attention.
In the very early days of movies, from what I understand, people in the theatre actually screamed and ran in panic when a train came towards the camera on the screen. I think the way I'm describing being able to hold one's own is similar to that, in a way. Nowadays we understand that there is a separation between the events on screen and us. We can still be affected by what happens, and feel things, but the movie doesn't necessarily become our reality. I'm using this analogy loosely, because I don't want to convey the message that other people's feelings aren't real or don't matter any more than something in a movie, but the comparison seems appropriate.
Hopefully I learn more about how to help people build a sense of self and not become engulfed by others.
Things I needed to hear tonight
Friday, June 15, 2018
I had a decent day but tonight was not amazing.
But maybe I'll finally be free of this emotional twilight zone I've been in. Maybe now I can finally grieve for real and be done. I had a lot of sadness earlier and did a lot of crying but it's kind of toned down now. I feel more able to reflect and hold things loosely. Less stuck than I have been in awhile.
Not a fun night but maybe necessary to move forward. Talked to someone who was important to me once, someone I thought I loved, once. Now we're just strangers. I don't want what used to be there. The other person acknowledged what I said but also acted as if nothing had really happened between us. It was weird. None of it felt particularly real. It was just... there.
I guess everything that happened between us, back when it still felt urgent and important, just feels kind of distant and unreal now. But maybe that's just because I cried a bunch and I'm tired now. I guess it doesn't matter. Suddenly compassion is coming to me much more easily than it has in awhile. It's been work for a long time, but it's flowing so freely at the moment. Funny how that works.
"Better For Me" by Fake Laugh.
It's a strange feeling that I have
It's a weird being that I am
It's an odd notion that I've known
It's a tear that I shed alone
It's better for me, better for me
Better for you, better for you
If we just do what we came to
It's better for me, better for me
Consistency in friendship
Tuesday, June 12, 2018
"I Tried" by Caroline Says.
I should let you know
That if you can't keep up you'll be laughed at like a joke
And that those lights, from the other side
They're not so bright
Though I still feel young
My body's old, it's almost done
My heart of gold has been bought and sold
My story's told
I've been thinking about what I value in friendship and why it's important to me. Keeping in regular contact is something I care about. I don't feel like I'm really close to anybody I don't talk to regularly. Doesn't have to be every day or anything, but I mean, I'm not one of those people who says "I can go years without talking to someone and we'll just pick things up where we left off when we talk again." I get why that's a thing, but it's not something I like or resonate with. It feels awkward to me to talk to someone after years of not knowing what's going on with them.
Started thinking about this because I was talking to my friend Matt the other day when I was feeling down and he said this:
In terms of people I can feel close to, I think it's important to have regularity of contact so that they can tell if something is wrong or if things have changed with me. You can't get that sense of a person if you hardly ever talk. Do you even know a person if you only catch up once in awhile? Or do you just have a stable perception of them that might not line up with their actual life? Of course, keeping in contact doesn't necessarily mean you'll have an accurate perception either, but I think that not keeping in touch guarantees you won't be able to tell what's actually different from your memory of the person.
I suppose there's an argument to be made that being best friends with someone you never talk to, and having that be a mutually agreed upon level of friendship, suggests loyalty. Like, you can always go back to that person even if you haven't spoken in forever. That doesn't seem right to me, though. I'm not trying to say it's not possible or people can't be happy with that, but I guess that it seems like it's a co-constituted illusion. Like two people wearing the same masks they always wear around each other and only interacting with each other's masks. There is a level of unawareness necessary to maintain that happily. It's the same with communication... you can be miscommunicating with someone all the time and neither of you will really ever realize that you're not talking about the same thing at all. You both just walk away with your separate interpretations and things never become obvious enough that you find out you weren't on the same page. People are content with that.
It seems fair to say that often I prefer truth to happiness. Happiness is an unintended (but not unwelcome anymore) side effect of my pursuits in life, not a goal in itself. Kyle asked me recently what was most important to me in life, and I didn't even think to mention "happiness" as one of my items. I like for other people to be happy, though. It's just... not something I care to get hung up on in my own life? If it comes to me, so be it. If it doesn't, that's alright too. There are other more important things going on.
And so, to circle back to my point from earlier (which I know I often don't do in blog posts, haha), I don't know if I can be close friends with anybody I don't talk to consistently. I do want to specify that I'm talking about close friendship as opposed to any friendship, because there are people I'm friends with on a more casual basis whom I only talk to once in awhile. It seems like my circle of close friends is small and shifting because of this, but that's okay. I don't think I can feel close to people if I don't have a current sense of where they are in their life and who they are in the present. I'm not content with memories and illusions and unexamined relations...
The effects of religion
Monday, June 4, 2018
I went to an ECS study session yesterday. We talked about the first chapter of Ethics as a Religion by David Saville Muzzey. I didn't have the book and hadn't read the chapter prior to attending, but luckily it was only like five pages long with very large margins, so it was easy enough to catch up. They gave me a free copy of the book! The discussion leader said "Since you're a student, you get the special discount rate of free" haha. Overall, I feel that the group has been very kind to me in my time with them.
Anyway, one of the points in that chapter was that in Ethical Culture, there is a basic belief that humans have inherent worth and potential to be good. We start off in a position of goodness, I guess. The author disagreed with the concept of Original Sin and the idea that we inherit sin from the first humans and are predisposed to act in evil ways as a result. It was a minor point in the book, but it made me think about my own history with religion. I grew up Christian, and I wonder if that had any subtle influences on my perception of my self-worth. It might not necessarily for everyone, but in my case, it could have contributed to me having low self-esteem as a teenager/young adult. Just this sense of intrinsic lack and the need to make up for it through actions of goodness.
I think I have retained some values from my Christian upbringing, although I have found different reasons to adhere to them. Not sure it would be accurate to call them specifically Christian values though, as they seem like things shared by most major belief systems. General things like being kind to others etc. I think that breaking away from Christianity and creating my own system of ethics was an integral part of my development as a person. My values are meaningful to me because of how I've struggled for them. I wonder if my children, assuming I have children, will appreciate ethics as much if they don't have that break and resulting self-discovery. Then again, a lot of people don't end up doing what I did, and they just stay insufferable militant atheists, or don't care about having a structured ethical system at all. I'm not sure why I ended up doing what I did, or what sets me apart from those people.
In other news, after talking with my friend Matt, I'm thinking I might need to take a break from trying to date. It's not working out and I just feel frustrated and demoralized. Could be helpful to just stop trying for awhile so I don't push myself into depression.
Thursday, May 31, 2018
"Midnight, The Stars And You" by Al Bowlly.
Midnight, with the stars and you
Midnight, and a rendezvous
Your eyes held a message tender
Saying, "I surrender all my love to you"
Midnight brought us sweet romance
I know all my whole life through
I'll be remembering you
Whatever else I do
Midnight with the stars and you
This seems like a song for a rainy day. A song to play while watching water droplets on a window coalesce and slide downward. Something to listen to while leaning your head on someone else's shoulder-- someone only half listening to the music.
A song for a moment alone, in the presence of another.
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