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April 25, 2017

The Calm Before

Filed under: Uncategorized — thirdxlucky @ 4:25 pm

I’ve been getting up regularly and meditating, writing a thousand words, and going to the gym before work. I’m dating and it’s pleasant but I’m not CONSUMED by feels for anyone. I’m getting a paycheck every two weeks; I’m paying my bills and I’m almost out of debt. I’m even sleeping most nights. This feels like the most stable I’ve been in years and it’s nervewracking as fuck.

I know this anxiety is a classic symptom of having grown up with an abusive or mentally ill parent. It’s scary when things get calm and quiet because you don’t know when the next rage is coming. It’s hard to enjoy what’s good because you’re waiting for the other shoe to drop: “Fuck, everything seems fine. Something bad must be coming. Am I getting really sick? Am I going to lose my job? Will someone I’m close to suddenly die? Am I about to fall in love again in some helpless way that destroys me?”

Of course it’s irrational. Good things happen and bad things happen and there’s very little logic to the frequency of their occurrence. That’s life. We weather it. But this feeling of “Don’t get comfortable, don’t let your guard down, everything you’ve worked to build could fall apart in an instant, something or someone is going to come along and tear your life apart, just wait” is a lot to deal with. In some ways, chaos is more comfortable because at least it’s in your face and you know the shape of what you’re up against.  Sometimes it’s enough that you want to trigger the chaos yourself just to relieve the tension of waiting for it. But life is plenty chaotic on its own without me helping it along. I think my work in terms of stability, rootedness, stillness here is learning how to recognize and quash that impulse in myself: my impulse to preemptively smash the reset button before somebody does it for me.

Incidentally, the fact that things currently feel solid makes this the perfect time to start looking for a therapist. I’d been waiting until I got settled in one place before committing to that kind of long-term relationship again, but I’m here now. Having someone I can turn to for support when shit DOES get crazy — internally or externally — is pretty mission critical, but the process of researching, interviewing, finding a match, and building trust with a new therapist is pretty daunting at the best of times. This means the best of times is the right time to do it, rather than waiting for the kind of times when I have the most need for professional support but the least capacity to find it. So, that’s my next adulting project after getting my damn taxes filed.

November 16, 2016


Filed under: Uncategorized — thirdxlucky @ 1:49 am


So, I’ve been in Pittsburgh for about two months now, and in that time I’ve also visited Washington DC (twice), New York City (twice), Philadelphia, Cincinnati, Columbus, and Buffalo. Just today, I was in three different major cities and not via airplane.  I won’t be able to travel quite this much once I have a job (which starts tomorrow!) but I’m still aiming to visit DC about once a month and New York as often as possible (probably not as frequently, but maybe once every three or four months?)

I’ve been thinking about the concept of “putting down roots” and what it means to me. When I chose to come to Pittsburgh, it was largely because I wanted a more permanent place to land, to build something — even if that “something” is just a slightly more structured life for myself. There’s some concern (in myself, in others) that I won’t be able to do this because I have so much urge to move in my blood, or just because that’s what I’ve always known; staying put is a skillset, one I don’t have much experience with. But I wanted to give it a shot.

I chose Pittsburgh over Denver, Seattle, and Albuquerque for various reasons. Mostly pragmatic: it’s affordable but there’s plenty of work here; it’s close to my family. Some romantic: it’s very pretty; it’s close to New York. But it’s also been a little lonely because I haven’t really gotten to know anybody yet — admittedly, in part because I’ve been out of town so much. My brother is here, and he’s the best, but he also has his own life and is out of town a lot as well.

I’m not too concerned about it. I know I’ll make friends eventually. I already have some idea about where and how. But shiny new friendships can’t provide the kind of emotional succor that comes from seeing people who’ve known you for five years, or ten, or in the case of one friend I recently saw in New York, twenty-six. (Or I guess, in the case of family members also recently seen, all the years.) (Shiny new friendships provide a different kind of emotional succor, and it’s also nice, but it’s only part of a complete breakfast.) It’s not entirely about duration, of course. There are a couple of people I’ve met quite recently who I feel close to, also. But none of them live in Pittsburgh, either.

So, I’ve had a bit of this sense that I’m starting over from scratch here. That starting a life in Pittsburgh means re-building my social network from the ground up. Not impossible, but sort of a daunting project at 34, and also a pretty time-consuming one while I’m also aiming to work full-time, get in shape, and write a book. Plus, y’know, I don’t actually want to make ALL new friends because I already HAVE a lot of friends who I adore and who I’m not exactly looking to replace. Time and energy are finite — even time and energy for friending, believe it or not.

What I do have, though, is quite a few loved ones and existing long-term relationships not in Pittsburgh itself, but in the region. Either who live here or who have reasons to visit a lot. And the thing about the East is that it’s so amazingly compact, “the region” is actually traversable. Not just in terms of distance, but also in terms of commuting culture and turnpikes and budget buslines, etc. I remember when one of my best friends was living in Austin and I was living in Stillwater, OK, we got all excited because we were “so close” (7 – 8 hours drive.) In reality, we were just closer to each other than to anywhere else (like Denver or California) where we had people. I probably got down to visit…twice the entire time we both lived there? But now, they live in Philly, and I basically just like drove out there for the weekend. (And then went to New York because, y’know, I was already over there, so what the hell. I’ve been to NYC a lot in my life, but never before just on a whim.)

If I were moving to Denver, I’d be moving to DENVER — because there’s basically nowhere else nearby I’d want to be spending a lot of time. No other major city, anyway. Likewise Austin. Likewise Albuquerque. Likewise San Diego. (Maybe less so Seattle. When I think about moving to that part of the country, I conceptualize it as moving to the Pacific Northwest, not to a particular city in it — although if I did pick a city in the PacNW to move to, it’d be Seattle. Sorry, Portland friends.) But maybe moving to Pittsburgh isn’t exactly just moving to PITTSBURGH — maybe it’s moving to the region and it’s the region, not just the city itself, where I get to put down some roots.

I like that because it’s sort of the best of both worlds: I can have a home base but one that allows me some freedom of movement within it. I can make new friends but keep the old. (Now you’re going to have that stuck in your head, too. Ha.) And I don’t have to completely rule out the idea that I might wind up in Baltimore (my fave), or DC, or even NYC at some point, for some period(s) of time; that doesn’t necessarily indicate failure of my “settle down somewhere” project. It just stretches the parameters of what “somewhere” includes. I still plan to give Pittsburgh several straight years and make it the centerpiece.

But this feels better. I feel less isolated. Less lonely. Less trapped. And, at the same time, happy that I have one clear place to come home to. After being in four cities in nine days (five if you count Niagra Falls, which is apparently a city, not just a landmark!) and three cities in 24 hours, it feels SO good to return to my own bed. And to my own town, with its shapely skyline and rivers and bridges and riot of green things; and to my own cute, scruffy, sadly but swiftly gentrifying little neighborhood within that town; and to a room of my own with a door and a lock and a lease that says it will still be my room in six months, and ten months, and maybe longer than that.

And now I should get some sleep, ’cause job. Goodnight.

November 1, 2016

A Continual Process Of Forgetting And Relearning How To Touch Each Other

Filed under: Uncategorized — thirdxlucky @ 11:35 pm

For four good weeks, I had a boy.
And four hard weeks also.
I had a boy for four good, hard weeks.

He cooked us eggs and sorted things by shape and
sometimes he scrunched up on the floor with his head
in his hands and rocked deep into a world
where I could not go to find him.

He spent long days in the sun
simply resting. Convalescing.
I watched him shed his skin, scale by scale
peeling painful like a sunburn,
watched him build himself a new one
bit by bit by filament wire,
with careful fingers reworking
the same inch
over and over
and over.

Patiently, he let me try and tug him
into my world, my family,
my home, my arms,
me whispering always, “Rest. Rest.
Your body is taking better care of you
than your mind knows how to do.”
Sometimes he came with me and sometimes
he tugged me in the opposite direction.
On long walks over short distances
I learned…what?

I learned what some of my fears felt like
and that I knew how to fight them.
The necessity of dispelling my own self-defeating illusions.
We talked about magic and where foxes come from.
How not to feel guilty sacrificing work for love.
And with the articulate edge of my fingertips
I wove as much fairy dust as I could
into his new skin.

He was strawberry-vanilla with soft eyelashes in the morning.
It’s a strangeness and a sweetness both
this way we exchange infinite anxious thank yous.
This way we blush.

I learned that I know how to pick up the pieces,
break something, cut my own fingers,
put them in my mouth.

I wonder what he learned about me. He’ll tell me sometime.

July 31, 2016

Eight of Pentacles

Filed under: Uncategorized — thirdxlucky @ 2:06 am

I have written more than 50,000 words this month — that’s a word count equivalent to a short novel or, at least, to the NaNoWriMo win condition — and I feel like I’ve accomplished nothing. I couldn’t even tell you where most of those words are right now. My notes say they are mostly blog posts I wrote for money, a couple of proto-essays on interpersonal power dynamics, daily journaling that I didn’t actually do daily, some highly narrative e-mails I never sent, a handful of short poems, a half-finished stab at some erotic fiction, and a few essay-length Facebook comments. So, okay. Now, I am lying in bed with a glass of wine and my laptop, trying on the one hand to drug my spinning mind into sleep-submission while clinging anxiously to the hope that, finally, at 1:30am I might suddenly be inspired to…do whatever it is that I feel like I have spent the entire day failing at.

Every time I write something, I want to give up.  I don’t feel this way about writing when I’m not writing. When I’m off working or walking or swimming or anywhere there’s no threat of paper I could actually put my words down on, writing is easy. I dreamily draft essays and outline memoirs and brew up stories in my head. But put me in front of a keyboard and all my carefully crafted sentence-crystals become word salad made with too much mayonnaise, sticky globs of syllables that won’t come loose. I am filled with language and it just gloms to the insides of my cavities like phlegm. Whenever I finally manage to forcibly eject it, it’s messy and gross and a strange color and it seems the only appropriate thing to do is wad it up and throw it away. Blech, word snot.

Once in a very great while, I manage to compose something I’m proud of — sometimes it happens on the first go; sometimes it’s after I’ve polished it for weeks, obsessing neurotically about punctuation; more often than not it’s some kind of letter, because that’s the thing I like to write most and am the best at, things that are meant for a single-person audience, that never really see the light of day outside one individual inbox. And then it’s back down the rabbithole of feeling like a fraud, wondering why I’m trying to force myself to do this pointless thing I’m terrible at, and wanting to give up.

And I am going to keep doing it. I am going to continue making myself ride the emotional rollercoaster. I’m going to do it in small doses, gradually increase the commitments I’ve made, try to find the right balance between internal drive and external structure, fight with myself. Because I need to learn what this process feels like, get so familiar with the parts that are hard and make me want to give up, teach all the strings of cells that hold my body, brain, and heart together that this is good pain — like muscle soreness when you’re getting stronger, or the howling shaking sobs that bring you up from a deep depression. That feeling like I’m hopelessly bad and want to quit means I’m writing, and not just thinking or daydreaming about writing.

I’m going to have to get really good at coping with feeling like I’m really bad, because if a 300 word blog post or 1,200 word essay is this much of a psychoemotional struggle, it’s going to get fucking rough when I try to write a book.

ETA: Or maybe I should just give up.

July 18, 2016


Filed under: Uncategorized — thirdxlucky @ 1:35 am

re-inhabit your house

re-inhabit your body

ask for help from mysterious sources

ask for art

put away the silverware, pray

begin by writing a third draft in your head

turn the fan in a slightly different direction

try to ignore those noises

sweep the floor

wash your face

tell yourself it’s only mice

come to no conclusions

April 27, 2016

Thirty Four

Filed under: Uncategorized — thirdxlucky @ 12:47 pm

Here is what 34 feels like: It feels like finally knowing what you want after all this time, and like realizing in the same moment that it’s too late. That if you’d been this sure fifteen years ago, or ten, or even five, you could’ve gotten started and by now you’d really be somewhere…but instead you’re nowhere, really, or at least not anywhere close.

This doesn’t feel like losing hope — you know you’ve made impossible things happen before — but like working out a new calculus for how many eggs go in the impossible basket. How many eggs get eaten now. How many get planted in the ground. It’s the discovery that giving up on a dream is not like letting go of a colorful balloon; rather, it’s looking for a long time at your reflection in a quiet pond and slowly, slowly starting to notice that the image you see is a mirage.

It does not come with regret. Not yet. Regret is still a stranger to me at 34, the ghost of bad decisions, hanging raggedy and grey around the truly middle-aged. I have made no decisions. I am lingering here on the doorstep of my own life, of the long-promised and threatened Real World, thought to be a myth, definitely smaller than it looks in the brochure, held together by spit and baling wire. I am wondering if I can find a spot that gets a little sun.

I noticed a few grey hairs for the first time today. I kind of like the way they look, silver-white against the copper shine. “I’m giving myself six more months to freak out about being old and then I’m going to be over it, settled, and working on something I care about,” says the reflection in the pond, “Really.” Here’s what 34 feels like. It feels like having an inkling that life is very small and that maybe this is not a tragedy.

July 3, 2015

Letter To A Young Podcaster

Filed under: Uncategorized — thirdxlucky @ 6:42 pm

T –

Burnout is so real. ♥

And I am totally feeling you on the whole, “What’s the point of even writing if everything I have to say is just obvious shit that other people have already said a million times better?” I’ve been pretty deep down that well lately, myself (and my output has suffered for it.)

I spent like two hours last night reading fucking Reddit comments by this brilliant boy who was once a sort of philosophical compadre of mine, and basically being like, “Welp, he’s used the past ten years to continue developing intellectually and politically and maturing as a writer and a person and now look at this, even his Reddit comments are amazing. What have I done with the past decade? Basically let my mind go to waste. I’m a piece of shit.”

But the thing is, I know these feels are partly because I just haven’t been taking care of myself: exercise, eating right, sleep, that whole drill. And partly, it’s that the SCOTUS marriage decision last week hit me harder than I thought it would. I feel mired in this kind of inarticulate grief, not around the decision itself but around the entire trajectory of queer history that led up to it, and there’s nobody near me to talk to, cry on, or get drunk with who I think would understand. That’s what’s going on for me. I don’t know what’s going on for you. But it’s probably not that you’re a failed journalist with nothing to say. As much as (I’m pretty sure) it’s not true that I generate nothing but clumsy, self-indulgent sob stories. But sometimes “writer’s block” doesn’t just feel like you can’t write; it feels like you’ve never been able to write.

And it’s uncomfortable and unfortunate…but I suspect that going through periods where we hate everything we do is part of the writing process. That ability to dive head-first into deep, existential doubt about the value of our work is part of what encourages us to keep that work fresh, keep trying new things, keep questioning, not just pumping out the same old schlock on repeat year after year. There’s always the fear that, one of these times, the “I’m Not a Real Writer” boggart will show up and finally convince us to quit. To give up and fall back on whatever our fallback plan is. (Mine involves something like managing an auto-parts distribution center in Antarctica. Which, as fallback plans go, is still pretty weird.) But, if burnout is part of the cycle of creative work — especially political creative work like yours and mine — then you will eventually pick up a pen (or keyboard, or microphone) again and, at that point, the experience of being burned out, and what it felt like to give up, and everything you did and thought and felt and learned and succeeded and failed at while you were trying not to be a writer will be grist for the mill.

So no, don’t “take a break.” Don’t go away from writing as if writing is a job you have to go back to when your vacation days are up. Do something else. Tell yourself you never have to write again, at least not the way you’ve written in the past. Let yourself just marinate in that possibility for a minute and check out how it feels. You don’t have to reinvent yourself at 23. (That sounds like a lot of work.) But it’s okay to let go some of the convictions you have about who you are, or who you should be, or what your work should look like, and try something new.

I met a woman here in Albuquerque recently. She’s a writing professor. She studies fanfic. She asked me what I wanted to write, and I told her that I was sick of writing about politics but that I didn’t know how to write about anything else and anyway if I want to become a better writer it seems like I should stick with what I know. She pointed out that working in an unfamiliar genre can help improve your skills “at home.” Then she asked if I was interested in writing fiction, and I laughed. Who writes fiction? Only the talented.

Later, I went home and was laying in the bathtub, and found myself musing about the life stories of fictional characters I’d dreamed up years ago and never done anything with because I can’t write fiction. It felt REALLY GOOD. Who gives a shit if nobody else ever reads or cares about these characters? I like them and I like thinking about what they’re doing in the story in my head and why. Maybe I’ll even write it down sometime. Maybe not. Either way, I got up the next morning and was suddenly able to make progress on a political essay that I’d previously given up for dead.

Burnout is a combination of exhaustion, self-loathing, and boredom. Treat any one of those three, and the other two will start to subside. Try something easy. Try something hard. Try something totally unexpected. Write poetry. Read your old journals. Edit someone else’s screenplay. Do something you know you’re good at and haven’t done in a while. Go on a roadtrip and take a bunch of shitty photos with your smartphone and don’t show them to anybody else. Dig up drafts you scribbled on the backs of homework in high school and cut them up and collage them with magazine clippings and leave them on the bus. Give yourself permission to suck.

Of course, I’m talking to myself here as much as I’m talking to you. But I know you. We’ve built ideas together. I’ve listened to your words coming across the digital airwaves late at night in the dark. One reason I’m so drawn to your work is that, in certain ways, you remind me of myself. And so I know that even though there are sticky, murky, heavy times when you don’t feel like you can do this, you’re going to do it anyway. You can’t help it. You’re a writer. If you weren’t a writer, the thought of giving up on writing wouldn’t feel this bad. Burnout is just a sign that you need more material. Stop trying to write on empty and go do something, anything, that excites you. That’s what writing is about. The words will come. ♥

– R

P.S. And get out of Oklahoma. At least temporarily. IME, that place is where inertia goes to die.

April 13, 2015

Don’t Stay in School

Filed under: Uncategorized — thirdxlucky @ 12:47 pm

me: hey, this is cute: “Don’t Stay in School” 😀

her: something I’ve felt and discovered other people feel too is, upon discovering antischooling rhetoric, to think “but how am i supposed to learn on my own with no structure or discipline?” These people were kinda anti-rolequeer, so they overlooked problems with the current way school works, ie forced, age segregated, ableist, one size fits all, standardized test focused, and if there’s any actual knowledge being imparted it costs hundreds of thousands of dollars, etc.

But it is a problem I’ve encountered in trying to be an autodidact. And I think it boils down to the “auto” part. I’m ALONE. Nobody to clarify confusion or reduce frustration. In fact, years of being in American public school removes the natural joy of learning. You learn to associate it with tedium and boredom, and then when there isn’t a looming punishment for not turning in an assignment, there’s no motivation to do the work at all.

Yeah, I really struggle with this as well. It’s something I’ve talked with Maymay about a lot. They also struggle, not with the self motivation part but with the being alone part. They REALLY want people to learn collaboratively with and they find learning collaboratively much more effective than learning in a vacuum — but so few people know how to learn in a self-motivated way, because of school crushing those drives, it’s even harder to find people who know how to learn in a collaborative self-motivated way.

This is a very intentional design of the school system. You’ll understand this if you ever talk to graduate school advisors, TBH. Because the thing you’re supposed to do in research is actually be naturally curious, self-motivated, driven, unstructured, non-linear, and passionate about pursuing the answers to questions that excite you. But you get these kids in right out of undergrad and they basically have no capacity to think for themselves, get curious, make decisions on their own w.o asking for permission, etc…

All of those skills that children naturally have, that are beaten out of them by the public school system and a traditional undergraduate education, and then have to be *re-instilled* in the small handful of students with the resources and class privilege to actually make it to graduate school. But, at that point, that curiosity and self-motivation is only re-instilled in a particular very narrow subject area, most often one that has material benefit to the government.

Like, imagine what the world would be like if people were encouraged from birth to be self-motivated researchers and problem-solvers about any and all issues and problems that caught their attention. We’d have a LOT more people pouring shit tons of energy and creating thinking into solving problems like oppression, starvation, poverty, cruelty, etc. And effective solutions to those problems are really threatening to the status quo.

So instead, what you do is take that drive and kill it. And then cherrypick a very small sub-population of people to hand it back to, mostly as a reward for being born in a particular class status but very occasionally just ’cause the’re super smart and capable, but you only do so once you’ve ensured enough compliance in those people that you know they’ll only direct their creative problem-solving power at problems that are either more-or-less inane and non-threatening (like what some passage in Shakespeare means) or that can be converted into military technology.

And then you throw everybody else out into a workforce that basically structurally resembles the same kind of psychological meat-grinder school structure they’ve become accustomed to. And you make them feel like they’re choosing to participate in that system, because when they’re not, they don’t know what to do with themselves. They feel like maybe they should have some hopes or dreams or plans or projects. But, left to their own devices, they just binge on Netflix and feel bad about themselves.

Obvs, I speak from personal experience. 😛

The thing I hate most that school messed up for me was…my willingness to spend time simply learning about a thing, reading in depth, for the sake of understanding without immediately creating some kind of output or project or “proof” that I “did the reading assignment.” Because when I was in school, I never actually had to *read* the literature or do more than skim it for a quote or two, in order to successfully list it as one of my “three required sources” in my bibliography and get an A.

And meanwhile the cognitive energy I might’ve spent on actually taking time to understand the material needed to be triaged to handle some other type of busywork (or dealing with my mother.) So now, whenever I take time to just sit down and read stuff…there’s this little voice in my head just being like, “Do you have time for this? You don’t have time for this. This is not homework. Do your homework.”

I did this all through college, too. Even though I studied in an extremely literature-heavy discipline. The skills I developed were not in reading comprehension, they were in being able to *talk* about the reading as if I’d read it…which, more than a paragraph or two, I almost never had. And this became a SERIOUS problem for me when I actually started a research job. Because I was expected to do literature reviews for the projects I was working on, and what’s more, I was expected to do that so I’d actually *understand* the material we were studying and make research decisions based on that understanding, not just so that I could fake analyze it in a group discussion for twenty minutes. And I was absolutely fucking incapable of doing this.

And the reason I was incapable isn’t because I lack the ability to comprehend scientific literature. It’s because any time I sat down to do some reading, my brain would be like, “You will not have anything to show your boss if you just read all day. This is not a good use of your time. You need to be productive. You need to turn in a homework assignment. You need to prove you read something.” It turns out “proving I read something” takes away really necessary time from actual reading.

Meanwhile, probably the main reason I got so conversant with early 2000s social justice political theory is that reading LiveJournal was how I procrastinated at work. And since I *didn’t* want there to be any evidence of my doing that, I just consumed a ton of material and digested it and thought about and biosociatively connected it to other material I was reading, and didn’t *do* anything “productive” with it for a long, long, long time.

Anyway. Sorry, rambling. I have lots of thoughts and feels about this, obvs.

her: I like your ramblings.

me: 🙂

her: And honestly, this all seems to apply extra to AFAB women in stem.

me: oh yeah for sure. ironically, that’s what i was studying when i had that research job. the educational and career trajectories of women in (and who dropped out of) STEM. 😛 so it was this very weird meta experience the whole time of being like, “I am consciously aware of all of these institutional impacts on my own career and, at the same time, simply knowing what is going on doesn’t seem to be enough for me to break the cycle.”

her: That’s like the story of humanity. “I know this is fucked up but I can’t seem to stop”

me: i know right? what’s up with that

August 18, 2014

Back at the Bottom of the Well

Filed under: Uncategorized — thirdxlucky @ 7:24 am

I wake in the middle of the night from some kind of strange nightmare. It has an epic, sweeping, Dune-like scope and is mostly focused on how totally and completely dead I’ll be when, eventually, even the mere fact of my existence will have been obliterated from history millennia ago and there will be nothing left of me in human memory “besides interesting amounts of hair and spit.”

I wake up spooked and quivering and, as you do, I start writing a blog post in my head. Because in the face of death, human beings create. Blogs.

I also wake up with the warm, solid, softly-breathing body of my sleeping lover curled against me, and I mostly lie there in the dark feeling deeply grateful that I am not alone. And thinking fretfully about how much it sucks to wake up from a nightmare into an empty bed — which, at some point, I will. Sleeping alone sometimes is about as inevitable as eventually being nothing but hair and spit.

So, here’s what happens in my head when I notice that I am comforted by the presence of my friend: I tell myself not to get used to it. I tell myself that a fear of isolation is a weakness. That isolation is unavoidable, that everyone dies alone, and that if the thought of loneliness scares me, I need to toughen up. That being with someone else because I don’t want to be by myself is some bullshit. Then, I realize my brain is being an asshole.

My life has been through some pretty big shake-ups recently. I moved to a very small town in the Midwest where I know almost nobody in order to be with a partner who then broke up with me. A couple months later, my aging but very healthy and independent grandfather was killed in a car wreck. I’ve been having a number of health issues that make me acutely aware of my body getting older and beginning to break down in places. I don’t really know what I’m doing with my life, or who I’m doing it with, and that first part is pretty normal for me, but the second part is unusual and a little scary.

I’ve lived with a gnawing fear of loneliness my whole life. I’ve tried to address it by surrounding myself with friends, lovers, family, and becoming an expert in developing strong social ties. On the flipside, I’ve also dealt with it by forcing myself into long periods of relative isolation — the most extreme example being Wintering over in Antarctica — partially to try and look my fear in the face. It never really gets any easier.

But here’s something slightly different from previous times that I’ve faced the looming spectre of loneliness: When my brain started going off about how weak and dangerous my lack of emotional self-sufficiency made me, I told it to calm the hell down. The fear of isolation, much like the fear of death, is not some irrational phobia that I can cure myself of through ill-conceived exposure therapy. Rather, isolation and death are core existential human concerns. Our experience of them partially defines and bounds what it is to be a human on this planet. I can learn to cope better with their inevitability, probably most effectively through a regular practice of meditation and creative work. But I’m not going to “get over it” by chucking myself into some kind of isolation chamber, be that Antarctica in the middle of Winter, or a tour of duty on a submarine (I’ve fantasized about it), or middle-of-nowhere Oklahoma all by myself.

Yes, being with a partner purely because you don’t want to be alone would be a pretty shaky foundation for a relationship. One that, in the worst-case scenario, could lead to an abusive level of clinging. I know people do that a lot. As insurance against becoming that kind of co-dependent, it’s good to work on being okay by myself when company is not available. But having the existential isolation of human existence occasionally punctuated by the presence of a loved one is nice, and it’s okay to appreciate that when it happens. It’s okay to enjoy not being alone, especially if the person I’m with also enjoys being not-alone with me.

(The other disturbing realization this dream brought up for me was that, statistically speaking, the last bits and pieces of my memory left to humanity after I’m gone will probably be stupid shit I reblogged on Tumblr.)

June 29, 2014

This felt like it belonged here, too.

Filed under: Uncategorized — thirdxlucky @ 1:29 am

I had the beginnings of an anxiety attack earlier today for reasons unrelated to what I’m about to talk about. I managed to shut it down early with quick acknowledgment, asking for help, and a lot of deep breathing — plus a very kind friend who came over and dealt with the thing that was triggering me, so that I could hide in my car until it was gone.

I’m still a little keyed up though. Which is probably evident from the massive posting spree I’ve been on all evening. (And this is only one blog.)

One thing I noticed, as I was sitting in my car coming down, was that I couldfeel myself coming down. This is something I’ve noticed before but didn’t know quite how to articulate until this time: When I have an anxiety attack (which I’ll differentiate from a full-blown hallucinogenic panic attack where effectively see horror-movie shit come to life; an anxiety attack is just one in which I have extremely distorted/exaggerated cognitive and emotional perceptions about what’s going on in a situation and how dangerous that situation is to me)…anyway, when I’m having an anxiety attack, I feel INCREDIBLY lucid. Like, I’m having all these very distorted perceptions of reality and they feel TOTALLY ACCURATE. I don’t feel like I’m hyped up, or freaked out, or on stimulants or anything. I just feel like, yes, obviously this thing is a threat to my safety and it’s appropriate and responsible of me to treat it as such. It’s only after I start coming down that I’m like, “Whoa, that was intense. I was really worked up. What the hell did I do?”

So, that’s weird.

Anyway. I am stressing the fuck out about money. First of all, who isn’t? (If you aren’t, please, for god’s sake, reply. I want to know your secret.)

I already basically have two jobs, and I am still up in the middle of the night scouring Craigslist for other potential sources of income and looking at other cities to see if they have more work opportunities for someone with my skillset. I’m really, really, really worried I won’t be able to make enough money to live on.

Thing is: I’m fine. Sure, I’m not independently wealthy or anything. But I have at least some relatively steady income, I have some government assistance, and I have some money I’ve saved up to live on while I build up experience and a client base. I’m essentially learning to freelance full-time for the first time in my life, it’s going to take me some time, and I’m going to stress out about money some in the process. I know this.

The anxious voice in my head keeps telling me that the solution to my anxiety is that I need to figure out how to make more money. But that’s wrong. I don’t need more money and, worst case scenario, I could still live and be okay on WAY less than what I’ve got. If I want to maintain a certain lifetstyle over the course of the next 40 – 60 years, then sure, I need to start making more money than I am now — eventually. But I’ve got decades, literally decades to figure that out.

Common (capitalist) sense says that the treatment for anxiety over not having enough money is to make more money. On the flipside, radical anti-capitalist common sense says that the treatment for money anxiety is to divest from the broken economic system. Each of these thing probably has some value in terms of the big picture — but, honestly, neither one of them is capable of solving my problem right now. I don’t have a way to make lots more money right now that wouldn’t also add significantly more stress to my system, and the things I’d have to do to divest meaningfully from the system right now would also add significant stress to my life.

Also, again, financially speaking, I’m fine.

But, for various reasons, I’ve also been cooped up in the house for weeks with almost zero exercise.

Worrying about money is probably one of my top three anxiety triggers. And regular exercise (along with meditation, sleep, journaling, and orgasms) are bare necessities for keeping my anxiety in check — all of which I’ve been doing less of than usual lately.

TL;DR: My money anxiety isn’t a money issue. It’s an anxiety issue. The solution isn’t on Craigslist, nor is it on any anti-capitalist blog. The solution is to go to the gym and work out.

Why the fuck did it take me this long to figure that out?

Originally posted on Tumblr.

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