Day 7243 | Day 7284 | Day 7518

There comes a point, I think, in all our lives when we come to terms with our own irrationality. We spend so much of our time trying to reason our way into doing what we really want to do that it eventually becomes easier to simply accept our flaws and do it regardless of the reasons.

Lately I've found myself drawn to reading the bits and pieces of life stories here on E2, hoping to discover some of the lessons that I've missed in my own life. Predictably I haven't learned much from doing this. If anything, the only lesson I've taken away is that the future is nothing but an ongoing series of increasingly difficult trials. Of course, E2 is a seriously skewed sample to be drawing any conclusions from.

After all, we journal only when we hurt.

When I think about the next two, ten, twenty years I can't come up with one reason (well, maybe one reason) why I want to experience them. There are reasons for me to be alive but these are all reasons not to be dead, something very different from reasons to live. It's probable that I am just going through one of those 'phases' they teach you about in high school health classes. In the age of helicopter parents and boomerang kids and 'what is it about 20-somethings anyways?' I'm told that it's very common for college students to feel listless. Hell, it's one of the great themes of growing up. Still, I frequently wonder whether it is more selfish to deny myself to others by ending my life or for others to imprison me within an unhappy life to prevent their own grief.

For now life is a continual struggle of understanding who I am and coming to terms with that person. Of trying to decide which parts of me are fungible and which are static. I'm told that it's common for college students to feel this way as well. When does a behavior cross the barrier between idiosyncrasy and pathology? Alienation, motivation, sexuality. They're like Antaeus.

Studies have shown that pessimists are actually better at gauging reality than optimists. Optimists consistently judge beneficial outcomes to a random event as more likely while pessimists come far closer to a realistic judge of their chances. So I ask myself, would I rather be right or be happy? "It'll pass" they say, "Just give it time and it'll pass." And I am very tired. It's like buying cable TV and getting a free month of HBO. It's nice at times, sure, but when the month runs out you have to ask yourself 'is it worth the subscription cost?'

Or, if you're not 100% satisfied we will refund your misery

Today I went to my first AA meeting. A closed GLBT meeting, which was better than I could have hoped for, seeing as in order for these meetings to be as comfortable for me as possible I must find individuals I have something in common with aside from being an addict. And I can't be the only lesbian who's ever done things with a guy because she was trashed.

I showed up to the meeting about 15 minutes early so I sat in the parking lot smoking a cigarette. That was when I spotted a familiar face in a car nearby. It was Brooke, a woman I met last summer and went on a couple dates with. Long story short, we have a lot in common, including our personal problems. We had spent plenty of time talking about all of the above. Our shared musical tastes, photography, writing, and our struggles with alcohol. She had been sober for several years and had encouraged me to come to a meeting with her, just to check it out, since I expressed a desire even back then to get sober. If I'd known what would happen next I would have taken her up on it. She disappeared suddenly from my life last August when some nondescript thing became too much for her to handle, and she cut off contact from everyone. I spent months blaming myself, fearing I came on too strong, what have you. I always thought about her. Perhaps the most painful part of all was hindsight rearing its ugly head. She had expressed a strong interest in me first, one I did not reciprocate, even rebuffed a bit. If I had to put a qualifier on it, I'd say I was still afraid of putting myself out there at the time. Given the events of the past year, I can safely say this is more true than ever.

That didn't stop me from feeling happier than I have in months when she hugged me. It wasn't because I'm still attracted to her, or because she somehow looks even better than ever, or because her hair smelled really good. It was because there was a tangible reason for me to be there tonight, at that particular AA meeting. It was no longer about me being a drunk; she was meant to come back into my life, as a positive, healthy, sober role model and friend.

We walked inside together, and several people were already setting up the tables. The long tables were arranged in a circle and there were three candles per table. Brooke introduced me to everyone and explained that this was my first meeting. The reception was overwhelmingly positive, with everyone coming to shake my hand and tell me how glad they were that I could join them. Needless to say this shattered every illusion of AA I'd ever had, of bitter bleary drunks forced to attend via court order. These were all energetic, high-spirited people, many of whom appeared to be my age or younger.

The lights were turned off, the candles lit, and the meeting got underway with the obligatory recital of the Serenity Prayer. Like many folks there, as I would learn later, I take issue with "God"; the word more than anything else. Still, the prayer strikes a chord with me. In this case I like to think that "God" is whatever the person wants, the inexplicable force that gives credence to the mantra "everything happens for a reason." The force that brought the paths of Brooke and I to a crossing point once again.

The introductions followed. This was perhaps the hardest part of the whole thing as, just like in the movies and TV, every person really does lead off with "my name is ______ and I'm an alcoholic." I closed my eyes when my turn came up. When I'd finished and opened my eyes Brooke was smiling at me. "We're glad you're here. I'm glad you're here," she whispered. I somehow made it through the whole meeting without crying but I almost lost it then.

Today was a "discussion" day, meaning that everyone in the group had an opportunity to say what was on their minds. Many of the folks, perhaps for my benefit, rehashed their early days in the program. One woman had come to her first five meetings drunk. Another gentleman realized he had hit rock bottom when he woke up in a motel bed with a stranger and couldn't remember how he got there. Brooke spoke of something that resonated all too true with me; the transition she went through of discarding her "old self", including the people she ran with when she drank. I had a story to tell, about why I came to this meeting covered in bruises and walking on crutches. I told the story of last Wednesday, of the fight with Tom and our entire sordid past, of waking up naked with him masturbating furiously beside me and being too wasted to say anything about it, of him asking me to have sex with him for his birthday last year and of the fight that ensued when I refused. I confessed that he wanted help too, and I wasn't sure I wanted to help him get it.

Apparently I'm not a demon. Apparently I'm justified in being angry. I'm always angry, but I never felt the need to justify it before. Somehow sitting in an AA meeting, telling that I really don't want to help another drunk, seemed despicable. I felt despicable. But it seems I'm not the one who should feel this way.

Brooke and I hung out for a short while after the meeting, sitting out in the parking lot smoking and talking. We couldn't stay long, as she had to work in the morning and I had a midterm to take. We caught up briefly on our current situations, and she apologized to me. She apologized for disappearing and worrying me. I told her when she was ready to talk about it, I'd be around. We exchanged phone numbers and email addresses and made plans to go to a second meeting together on Friday. I drove home listening to the Brandi Carlile CD she'd burned for me last summer and smiling genuinely for the first time in a long while.

I got home and knocked out my homework quickly, as I couldn't wait to tell everyone about the smashing success of my first meeting. Of everyone I told, however, I think only Rachel was genuinely happy about all the news I had to share. Chalz is still under the delusion that this is a short-lived phase in the same vein as my past "vows of celibacy", not to mention he turns into a sniveling twat when I meet girls, so I wasn't really surprised that he wasn't exactly foaming at the mouth with glee. And Tom...well...I didn't have to tell him, and perhaps I shouldn't have, but I did. I told him I went to the meeting and I told him I reunited with Brooke there, the latter being a recipe for a tantrum. The Cliff's Notes version is that our most recent falling out involved her. Really it had nothing to do with her personally as he'd never met her; it was more along the lines of "I hate you because you get more girls than me". This time he decided to toss a little condescension into his "I'm only telling you this because I care" schtick, in the form of telling me it's probably not a good idea for me to date or sleep with another AA member.

Now either I have a reputation that precedes me or he's being a jealous little twat waffle again. I'd say it's a little from Column A and a little from Column B. As I'd explained to everyone else, we are just friends, and seeing as this time last year I would have given anything just for her to speak to me again, that's more than enough for me. That's not even the problem here. The problem lies in something that Brooke and the others opened to my perceptions tonight: the inevitable severing of ties as I endeavour to sobriety.

I have two notable abusive relationships. The first, obviously, is with alcohol. The second is with Tom. I know it's not so easy to walk away from an abusive relationship of any kind, be it romantic or platonic. It's not so much about being weak as it is human nature to adhere to what is familiar. Some people just get used to being treated badly to a point where not only can they not fathom someone treating them with respect, but that being abused is actually comforting.

I think this is why Tom and I have been friends for so long. We fell into a routine we both know is bad-drinking, fighting, apologizing even though we know it's all lies, repeat ad nauseum-to a point where we simply do not know how to interact normally whilst sober, and perhaps we never will be able to. I acknowledge that this is what is happening but I don't like it. I don't know if it's the fear of the unknown, or a deep-seated desire for things to remain the same no matter how bad they are, but I simply cannot accept it as reality. For the time being, I'm chalking it up to the fear of the unknown, something that's perfectly normal. It's not like I'd dive back in to the life again at the drop of a hat.

No, I can't lie. I would. That's why I'm in AA. That's why even though I promised Tom I'd come see him on his birthday this Friday, I probably won't. He says he wants to partake of sober frivolity on his birthday for the first time in fifteen years. I simply don't see this being a decision we'll both be 100% content with. It doesn't help that my primary reason for looking forward to Friday is seeing Brooke again, maybe seeing if she wants to go to the park or grab a coffee after the meeting. I think he knows I'll do this. I know there'll be consequences and I'll face them.

I think I'll say that prayer tonight before I go to sleep.

One of these last few days was National Coming Out Day. I don't know which one, since I was mostly updated on this matter via Facebook, and Lowering the Bar: Internet Discourse in the age of Facebook seems to be quickly adopting something akin to a Hallmark Holidays, where various political and social causes are encouraged beyond what they would be if someone actually had to put effort into it. Not to say that "National Coming Out Day" is not something that some people are putting effort into coming out. But most of the people updating their facebook status aren't them.

But, I thought I would tell a little story about my own coming out. A way to unbottle my shame. A little over a year ago, I was at an organization that I volunteered at. I had not been there for a while, and I was "taken aside", to be softly told that I had done something "inappropriate". Now, since it had been several weeks since I had been there, I had no idea what this was. While I was blinking in confusion, I was further told that when I don't know someone, I should be careful about what I say. And that I should make an effort to not say the type of things that I said, which people might take wrongly. I asked for further details, but apparently they were not forthcoming. All I was told that at some point in the past few weeks, I had said something to someone that they did not like.

So I went home, but was later told via e-Mail who I had said the thing that I said to, although I was not told what I had said. The person who I offended was a teenage girl, and I quickly became very depressed, to the point of suicidal thoughts, at the thought that I was so perverse and unsocial and overall gross and disgusting, that I had sexually harassed a 17 year old girl. This was just proof to me of what I had often suspected, (and have been told in so many words by a member of this site): that I had no social skills and needed to spend time in the real world to realize that women were afraid of me. For over a week, I suffered a perception of myself as someone who is both normatively and factually not able to socialize with others. This was actually when I decided to move to Montana, where socialization and my chances to hurt and offend people, would be very limited.

First point: I got over the incredible self-recrimination, in part because I realized that since I could never remember saying anything to the person that I said something to, there was a chance that I perhaps did not. And that I was misunderstood. Or that someone out-and-out lied about me.

Second point: I do not, as the kids say, have teh gay. And yet this is the story that I chose to share vis-a-vis National Coming Out Day. And why?

We live in a society that is saturated in shame, and feelings towards the self that can honestly be described as fear, doubt & disgust. Sometimes things are obscure because they are hidden, but sometimes things are obscure because they are too obvious. I could go and search for specific examples of what I mean when I say that the basic state of people in my society is an overall anxiety over the fact that we are dirty and worthless. But I will just say that it is so omnipresent that specific examples are both hard to find and unnecessary. And much of this constant low-level shame is sexual in nature. (Much of it is economic, but that is a subject for another node) Not that people shouldn't feel guilt over actual actions that transgress others, but shame at simply being a person is an unneeded thing. And yet here we are, decades after the sexual revolution, when sex is an open and encouraged part of life, when things have ceased to titillate us, and the basic social attitude of sex from generations past, that sex is a predatory, filthy activity is still with us.

So while I applaud any attempt to lesson the shame that people must feel based on their identity, I also wonder what National Coming Out Day means: does it mean that gay people should be free from the general anxiety and shame of society? Or just the specific shame of being gay? Because if it is the first, I don't see why they should be given a free pass while the rest of us must constantly be sandbagging the levees that hold back self-hatred. Also, I don't think that factually overcoming such a widespread social attitude can be done by fiat. Or perhaps the day is just to overcome the specific shame of being gay, but that the individuals involved just continue to live lives of quiet desperation and inadequacy in every other manner. In either case, it seems to be a fairly pointless action.

Of course, we could just try to move into the 21st century by doing away with a hierarchal society that strips people of their intrinsic worth and then sets them on a hamster wheel to reclaim it. But that would be, I am sure you must agree, UNPOSSIBLE.

Creepy Crawlies

I led the witness Jellybaby to "pretend there's a baby in my tummy" because leaving out the "pretend" was psychically stressing mummy and daddy. We played crawling-hand-spiders at the breakfast table this morning and she came up with "there's a pretend baby spider in my tummy". There's a horror movie I don't want to see.

We were talking about birthdays & I said "I want a chocolate cake". She said she wanted a Spider cake (as her birthday is just after Halloween) which I plan to make with string licorice. I asked "Do you want chocolate in it?" "No," she replied, "just spiders." Yum!

I am so happy! I got a new pair of shoes yesterday, black suede only $30. I love them. There's a school dance tomorrow night, I might go. Who am I kidding? Of course I'll go, I love those things. The thumping speakers, the free food, the girls, the free food, the getting a friend to clear the floor so I can amaze everybody by busting my ass going wild dancing and just not caring about anything, oh and did I mention the free food? There's a funny thing about these dances, all the "cool" guys just sit on the side looking bored and talking about how much it sucks. While me and my nerdy friends are out on the floor dancing with the girls and having a great time. I hope they don't give away those plastic hawaiian leis this time, last year I ended up wearing 72. They were on my neck my legs my arms, everywhere! I had to cut them off before I could sleep that night. Light sticks would be fun though. The only problem with it is the music, it's all tasteless garbage with mindless beats and meaningless lyrics. But it's still a whole lot of fun. After the dance my friend Nick is sleeping over my house it will be awesome!

I generally consider a fair deal of my knowledge and belief to be separated into thesis, antithesis, and synthesis. (I even wrote a song about it!) On my mind recently has been the most trivial example in the cosmic sense, but one that proves there are many more smaller revisions between these three stages. I speak of Programming. When I started learning, the resources on the Internet sucked. They were mostly C with classes, and pretty simple and dirty. Same went for web design. The class I took in middle school just covered where to find lots of free animated GIFs, and how to get them into FrontPage. CSS might not have been invented yet, but I definitely didn't know about it if it was. I gradually learned better C++, after screwing around with Python, Ruby, and a few hacker games here and there. Learned a bit of the STL, some principles of good design, how to be a good programmer. I have a few books that go in great depth on that. I've been trying to learn to develop games the last couple of years. See first, I looked at these tutorials using the Simple DirectMedia Layer, from Lazy Foo Productions. They are simple one-offs, mostly procedural. I was really ecstatic when I found the Dev Hub tutorials, because that was the first time I ever really used OOP in a project and learned to put things together in a system. But the examples were broken. The graphics tiling does not work properly. I spent a lot of time trying to fix this, stepping through it in GDB, checking variable values, and I couldn't figure it out. Things seemed to be happening the way they should of, but my characters were walking through a void. I finally decided yesterday that this whole thing was stupid. The program is too large to understand easily. Every time I come back to it, I have to orient myself on each separate class all over again. It barely does anything, rather it is built to be general. So I've decided I'm just going to code simple demos for each concept I have. Make one for just getting the tiling right, then parallax scrolling and a camera that keeps panning right, then add an entity, then jump around. I read somewhere once that Linus Torvalds was screwing around with hardware interrupts or something, just really low level stuff, and changing one pixel on his screen or something like that, and Linux eventually evolved from that. The story was probably apocryphal, but the basic concept stands. I guess.

More importantly, I found an article on prototyping a game in seven days. The most important rule they said that struck me was "Nobody Cares About Your Great Engineering." See, this is the revision in my belief that's come about. I was having so much trouble coding things for so long, worrying about having perfect code. Maybe it helped drive me for a while. I had this unattainable ideal that I wasn't even fully cognizant of. Even with full knowledge of all the modern programming paradigms, project management, x86 assembly, compiler design, memory implementation, formal computer science, and random vaguely related branches of pure mathematics I probably wouldn't know what that ideal was, and I don't come close to having that kind of knowledge. Nor do I want to; I'm pretty sure the knowledge of esoteric mathematical formalisms is directly correlated with sexual impotence. That's what really happened to John Forbes Nash in A Beautiful Mind. But these guys that wrote this article, they threw games together in 7 days each, and for one thing, they faked the fancy math and code if they didn't need it, and for another, they didn't waste time trying to earn a Nobel Prize for Programming. Now, they didn't exactly make Cave Story, but they had some nice concepts, and the graphics were decent. And they didn't have to collaborate with anyone. Instead they got together this whole team and decided everyone would compete. So from now on I'm going to be a lazier programmer, and work at it a bit more often.

Another interested article I found was on Data Oriented Programming. It began by decrying the evils of OOP. That's pretty good to me. Now of course, they said to continue thinking in OOP a bit, and said it was still good for a few things. Not many. Just GUIs really, but this is a game developer. I haven't gotten to the really technical details yet, but basically you have an input and and output, and you're writing the part in between. Now that I think about it, that might be a little like functional programming in the vaguest way. Taking a function and transforming it with another function. But instead, you're doing that to skeletons or something. He keeps saying something like "bake what you need in advance" but I haven't heard that term outside of 3D modeling, so I'm pretty confused. Unless that's what he meant. Also, he said the same as those other guys, that speed is the goal in coding a game. It just needs to be reasonably bug-free and fast, but not necessarily bullet-proof. Save that for flight control systems, he says. Which made me think, maybe the reason computers slow with age is because they've encountered more cosmic rays. Or maybe it could be the actual electronics aging in of themselves. Usually I used to think it was all software-related, like some problem with the master file table in an NTFS partition. I got this laptop running Fedora about a year ago, so I'll wait and see if it slows down the way Windows does.

I also watched some of these on-demand art instruction things from ConceptArt.org. Jason Manley was talking about color theory, and he said that if you relax your eyes just right, then you'll start to see colors more pronounced in everything. Carl Dobsky thought it was like being on drugs. I wondered which drugs they meant, but I think Ecstasy might do that. I haven't gotten to try it. I went outside today and tried to see color. The roads were slick from rain, and they looked a deep royal blue and purple, and a bit teal in this one shadow. The sidewalks had a color between red clay and red wine, but only when I could see the color of the roads strongly enough. Some things made it hard to see, but the main trick is to not have a single real focal point. It's tough to balance, because you need to focus on objects a little. If you hold your hand out in front of you, just look at it, you might notice you're actually focusing on a particular part of your hand. Creases in your fingers, or a nail, or a tendon. We tend to shift our focus between several small points, rather than taking it all in at once. So that's what I'm trying to do now. Maybe next time I'll actually break out the paint.

I've really got a lot of work to do, though. And no will to do it. And all these hard links are a real bitch. Plus, I don't have any special life-changing advice or personal epiphanies to share today. Brush your teeth, drink your milk, stay in school, and believe in yourself.

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