A Geek's Eye
I have not been able to really talk to anyone, today; not yet. My problems are pretty unfortunate for me, though, and to anyone but close friends would probably smack of "whining". That's the last thing I want.
But even without others to talk to, I've spent quite a bit of time resting and contemplating my problem. I believe it can be summarized like this:
Last night's insomnia was due to some really big issues that have been turning over and over in my head for some time, now. Many issues, really, but mostly focused on the issue known as PuppyGate. If you don't know what this is, you can read summaries here, here, and here. (That last one is very, very long but is also the most complete.)
I have also read the excellent commentaries by George R.R. Martin whose personal relationship with WorldCon and the Hugos is amazingly similar to my own relationship with local fandom: it is a community of like-minded geeks which has, for a long time, offered comfort and joy and (in some cases) refuge.
That all said (and all that, read) I have other issues in my life other than this one. PuppyGate, however, is just the most vocal of the voices in my head. And my frustrations took a nasty turn in keeping with the bullet-points, above. That burned me and kept me up, mingling with many other, unrelated items.
Please understand: I'm in therapy and on medications. I'm getting help. But how to address this?
I have a thick skin; it's not a matter of not letting things in. It's a matter of not being able to let them out, again. I need something of a safety valve. So, how to handle this?
I've come to the conclusion (which I Tweeted, earlier) that:
By this, I meant that I need to take action in a way that allows me to feel I've made some contribution, no matter how small. Even though I get stymied by the size of a problem, the clearest (and probably most obvious) course is to take some definitive step that satisfies my own sense of what is right.
Really, isn't that what we all need to do?
Of course, a person with a mental handicap may not always find this as either obvious or easy to achieve.
It took me most of today to figure it out. In that, I'm happy.
I have purchased a Sponsor-level Membership in this year's WorldCon (called "Sasquan", being held in Spokane, WA) so I may vote. You may do the same, if you are so inclined: online registration only costs $40.00 USD.
Some, like Mr. Martin, advocate reading all nominees in all categories as much as possible (and until such a point as you feel the story either does or does not belong being nominated). Others feel that voting only for non-Puppy-nominated works and people (placing the "No Award" result higher than any Puppy-nominee) is a valid approach. As an outsider to the groups involved (never having really been able to afford going to a WorldCon, despite my desire to do so), all that remains for me is to figure out what I want to do.
I came to the conclusion that, for me, voting on the non-slate-driven works is the answer that best feels like fairness to me. Even though the Puppies (both Sad and Rabid) have put forth some works I actually think might be deserving, the process by which they have done so is not only haphazard but also childish. No evidence has been given in support of their thesis that there have been conspiracies in the nominating process: only hyperbole and hearsay.
As such, I plan on reading every non-Puppy nominee and casting my vote from among them. Categories with no such possible nominees will recieve "No Award" from me (despite Vox Day's bellicose promise to make sure no one ever wins such an award, ever again, should "No Award" succeed in any Puppy category).
An accurate and up-to-date Web page listing all Puppy-Free Nominees has helped me in this.
This is purely for my own sanity: a means by which I can get my head around some of my anxieties. Will my vote matter? In any large, democratic system, I doubt it. But stupid, childish revenge fantasies against those who seem intent on burning down the community I love aren't getting me anywhere.
So that's what I'm going to do: I'm going to vote (in my first Hugo Awards, ever) based upon those nominees that were not pushed onto the ballot by the perfectly legal (but, in my mind, unethical) practice of ballot-box-stuffing. I'm going to buy copies of all the non-Puppy nominees, read them, and explore their merits and flaws. This allows me to actually do something (no matter how small) and get my head (somewhat) out of the dismal spiral it has been in.
If only all my problems were this easily addressed.
Still, that's a topic for another day. This Journal has remained silent and dusty for far, far too long. It's sad that my anxiety and mental problems have prompted me to return to it after so long. I would rather that happiness and announcements of a cure or breakthrough were the reason. But, for now, at least I have a method for my madness.
Small, personal steps. Small actions. Do what I can as long as it has at least a tiny impact.
That's good enough. It has to be.
Current mood: stressed.
My therapist is of the opinion that my dreams mean something. He may be right and he may not be right. I have never seen any conclusive evidence of meaning in dreams. Despite my background, despite my belief and experience with things of a "mystic" label, I haven't ever had a dream I would consider "supernatural" ... at least in a way where I was convinced that it "meant" anything. But that's not the kind of meaning my therapist is trying to imply.
Rather, my therapist believes that I am going through a fundamental change in life. As a result, I have lost my interest in all the things that used to give me joy or pleasure. I don't feel (for any stretch of time) any joy in cooking, gaming, being in fandom, or doing anything in everyday life.
While this is a textbook description of the mental disorder anhedonia, he believes it arises not necessarily from my stress and anxiety but, rather, that things have changed of late in my life and I need to figure out who I am.
He believes that, on some level, my dreams are my brain's way of trying to figure this out.
Dreams in which I am losing friends, family, community, etc., are all my subconscious' way of trying to put together a puzzle in which I am the final picture. This has probably been going on for years, maybe over a decade. Hard to say. The last time I was seriously anhedonic was back before I bought the house. Doing so, perhaps, gave me perspective and a bit of a new identity: that of "home owner".
Regardless, I find it difficult to sort what my dreams are telling me. I find it hard to figure out even if they are telling me something.
I slept fairly well last night although did have meloncholic dreams.
In them, I was in a house that I identified as "mine" and I was waking up in the morning with the realization that I was depressed. I didn't feel I could face the day at work, in this dream, and so I was trying to figure out how I could tell my boss that I needed to work from home in a way that didn't sound lame or like I was a basket-case. The house I was in, in the dream, resembled parts of my childhood home.
In the background, "Seasons in the Sun" was playing and I was humming and singing along.
I tried logging in to the corporate system, but could not at first. I remember my brother and mother coming in and trying to get me to help with something, but I wasn't interested. I just needed to get this message to my boss. I finalize realized I couldn't type it into the email system, so I started writing it with a large, black marker on a grey T-shirt with the intent of taking a picture of it and tweeting it to my workplace. My sister wasn't there but, somehow, the reason I had to stay home had morphed into something about why she wasn't present.
I awoke, still humming "Seasons in the Sun".
Checking the clock, I saw I had ten minutes until I had to be out the door. I seriously considered taking a day off, but there was work to be done.
I quickly got dressed, synced my iPod, turned off my computer, and left for work.
And here I am.
I don't know if that dream has any meaning or any insight into who I am. But, seriously, I'm not in a good space right now. As work goes on, today, I should be able to shake the sadness and sense of ennui. But this is part of what I mean when I say that despite getting a good night's sleep, I can wake up: fried.
Current mood: tired.
These are what I will attempt in 2015.
Current mood: hungry.
I'm back home. Dropping off @JamesFoxes and @DanniFoxyFox at the Minneapolis International Airport wasn't as hard as the drive home.
I already miss both @JamesFoxes and @DanniFoxyFox terribly.
I've discovered something about #postConDepression: there's a cure. That cure is similar to the moral in "Moulin Rouge!".
"The greatest thing you'll ever learn is just to love and be loved in return."
To get beyond #postConDepression, love can help. Love will lift you and hold you as you leave those wonderful people behind.
It's not easy to find that love, but it is a cure. The love I found came from @JamesFoxes and @DanniFoxyFox. They made me feel loved.
I miss @JamesFoxes and @DanniFoxyFox and, the remainder of today, will try not to let it take me down.
I say this because love is a positive force and I will not let me missing these two wonderful men denigrate that wonderful emotion.
To both @JamesFoxes and @DanniFoxyFox: I am so grateful for your visit and I eagerly await the next time we can get together. I love you.
Current mood: sad.
I just had breakfast. It was a contender for the worst meal, of any time of the day, in my life. This is not hyperbole. The curious thing is that the food was good, the service: excellent, and the place, a favorite of mine where I’m well-known and welcomed whenever I go. My visits have gotten frequent enough that the waitresses know what I will drink the moment I walk in the door and that, almost always, I order a side of the spicy avocado verde with my eggs. Today was no different in any of those qualities.
What did differ from normal was the group of racist, Christian supremacist, homophobic, professional victims sitting at a table behind me. What started with one of them crowing about how a dumb college student at a Catholic college had been chastised for speaking in support of homosexuality and, when he told his professor that he had a right to speak his opinion, was told he did not have that right by a higher, university authority. They laughed at him, derided him in absentia, for daring to speak against commonly-understood Catholic stances on “queers”. Of course, they said, he should have been kicked out of the school.
It was a few minutes later that they began to talk about the Muslims (aka “the mahz-lehms”). They started by talking about how they were infiltrating the police, courts, and elected offices, “because that’s how they do it”. Then, they spoke about how a woman got killed by her mahzlehm father for dating a white guy (“you know: normal” … yes, he actually said that) and how the judge let him off because it was allowed under Sharia law. Finally, towards the end of this all-you-can-eat racism buffet, one said that the answer was simple: deport them all, nuke the Middle East, and take their oil. “But you have to be sure to get rid of the Somalians, too … they’re just as bad.”
These people were about half elderly (white hair, wrinkles, etc…) and the other half were in my age-bracket of their forties to fifties. They were nearly the only other people in the place and were very loud. Needless to say, I ate as quickly as I could and left.
Why didn’t I confront them? Honestly: I thought about it.
Sure, I agree that the First Amendment doesn’t mean you can’t be told by a private institution to sit down and shut up … or that certain topics are not allowed when on the premises. That’s fine. It’s the attitude and self-righteous dogma that made me bristle. Their horrific world-view made my stomach churn, quite literally. And I knew that if I confronted them, nothing would be solved. Nothing would change except I would be even angrier and they would be increasingly entrenched.
Will I go back to my favorite breakfast spot?
Without the shadow of a doubt. I love that place. But if I walk in and see that group of angry, bitter, hateful people, there, I’ll find another restaurant. I don’t need a side-dish of bullshit with my omelet.
Current mood: frustrated.
I saw 26 performances out of this year's lineup of 169 different productions!
Thursday, July 31
Friday, August 1
Sunday, August 3
Monday, August 4
Thursday, August 7
Friday, August 8
Saturday, August 9
Current mood: artistic.
Coming off CONvergence this past weekend, I found this particularly interesting given how much of a spoiler mine-field most fannish conventions are. Very good discussion, indeed!
"Common Carrier", "Utilities", the Internet, and Net Neutrality: this is what you need to view to understand the current decisions being considered by the FCC.
Current mood: contemplative.
So, the attic/roofing/cut-a-ventilation-hole contractor still hasn't shown up on day two of this whole thing.
I've been wrestling with them all morning.
I left a message, this morning, and got a call back from Over-Arching Home Improvement Firm around 11am saying that the roof people should be here in an hour or so. I confirmed that and made sure they had my cell phone number since I wanted to use that hour to run out and grab a burrito.
I did, got back in under 20 minutes, and still: no roofer/hole-driller/ventilator.
I stayed parked in the front room and waited.
Then, I came upstairs (about to call them again) when a work emergency came up. I'm working from home so I immediately jumped onto a Skype call but kept my iPhone and the house landline nearby. Writing a code-fix for my employer took about an hour. Still, no call.
I phoned Over-Arching Home Improvement Firm again and left another message detailing how I'd been busy but here all the time and no one had called yet.
Then, about 8 minutes later, I got a call on my iPhone from the roofer/hole-driller/ventilator saying that he was driving down to Mumble-Mumble for mumble-mumble-mumble and should be there in mumble-mumble minutes. I asked him to repeat himself and gradually got that he was going to be in Golden Valley (or something ... it was very mumbley) in about 20 minutes. He did not tell me when he would be here but promised to call me as soon as he got his supplies in Mumble Valley. Then, he implied, he'd be on his way.
That's where we are, now. It's been about 20 minutes since the mumble-call. I'm guessing he's picking up some stuff and will then either tell me "it's going to rain; I can't come, again, today" or "I'm on my way: I'll be there in mumble hours".
I'll let you know what transpires.
Okay, the house is shuddering and shaking as the contractors drill a vent hole in the roof. I'm writing this sentence during the resumed work.
When they'd finally arrived they found that insulation had been packed above the bathroom such that they could not get above the ceiling to complete the ventilation. They argued that it had been done backwards and, now, it would cost extra to actally finish the work. At one point they suggested cutting a three-foot by three-foot hole in the bathroom ceiling, pulling down the insulation, and then doing the work with the vent fan.
Both they and I tried calling the Over-Arching Home Improvement Firm but only got voice mail.
Frustrated, both of us, they eventually started packing up to leave. I sat down to commisserate via email and social media. I was, frankly, very annoyed and started writing this.
Okay, quite a bit of time has passed. Where was I? Ah yes...
I was just reaching the five-minute mark of being frustrated after they left, feeling a nice angry boil coming on, when my iPhone rang.
It was the Over-Arching Home Improvement Firm.
I told the woman on the phone that the attic/roofing/cut-a-ventilation-hole people had left. She assured me that she had just spoken with them and told them to finish the work, tonight. She also reminded them, apparantly, of how most of the work had been done for them. They just had to crawl up there and finish it. She assured me that they'd re-certify the insulation they'd already put in and re-blow some in, should it become necessary after the drilly-people got done crawling around up there.
So, after confirming that the guys were indeed coming back in the house, I closed my door and worked on stuff for my employer. About an hour later, they were done.
Only an hour!
I'm really not sure who to trust anymore with the implied accusations of incompetence.
When the hole-drilly-guy asked if I would vacuum up after them, I just decided "sure". I mean there was insulation everywhere but, at this point, I didn't care. I just wanted it over with. I don't know if they were supposed to clean up or if I was ... it just didn't matter to me.
We tested the vent fan and they packed up.
Then I spent a three-quarters-of-an-hour cleaning between 4 and 4:45.
I'm really pooped. I'm having a bit of an asthmatic problem, but at least it's done. All that's left, now, is to get the wall's switch plate put on over the exposed light/fan switches. Apparently the eletrician will do that.
I don't know when.
But for now, I'm just tired and sweaty and glad its over with.
Current mood: annoyed.