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 lifeblog, shady life choices + introspection
XANDER
 Posted: Apr 1 2017, 01:11 AM
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my regional manager's birthday was yesterday! i got him a birthday card. despite everything, he makes me really fucking sad, like when he's like, "thank you! i didn't get much this year, but my dad gave me $100." WHERE ARE YOUR FRIENDS????

so here's something i wrote about him - 1/2. first, this thing. next, the birthday card i almost gave him, but didn't (thanks debbie!)

*
      This story is a lie.

      All stories are lies, but this one especially. The poetry of Saphho was really just a noun here, a verb there. Really, it was just the imagination of an interpreter running wild. The re-creation was never a true translation, and neither is this.

      This is a lie from scraps of truth. This is a tableau arranged around broken, stolen artifacts. This is a story made of other stories, stories that may or may not be true.

      This is a lie trying to sneak up behind the truth, and catch it by surprise.

      *

      First, you are young. First, you are different.

      Difference starts only skin deep - but we know skin is important here. It starts with a name that is too long and hard to pronounce. It starts with the essence of you being whittled away in consonants and vowels, until you are three letters, one syllable, and an easy rhyme. That's how you start.

      That's all we can know for sure - there's little to go on here. You never talked about this part. You once said, "I don't respect marriage much anyways," and I knew, just a little, of what might swim beneath the shroud of an unspoken youth.

      We can guess it didn't involve a lot of order, because you love order so much now. You must have had it once, perhaps in a childhood warm with grace and material comfort. These you lost; you would have them again. You swore. You are a swearer.

      There's little to tell, because we can only reverse-engineer your childhood from the man you turned out to be. You will forgive me my impertinence and my inaccuracies.

      *

      You are a young man. Here we acquire a nice pair of spectacles. You come into focus.

      You like to play cards - poker, specifically. Every month, you go to the casino and gamble, earning just enough to make your car payment, before leaving. This is the official story - this is the part where you learn to make mirages, where you cultivate that coveted 'poker face'. It is a good story. It goes down smooth.

      But I don't know how I didn't think about it sooner. Somehow I forgot that when I was that age - eighteen to twenty-something - I didn't have a car payment. My old Buick was by no means impressive, but it had no payment, and my pocket change came from working part-time at the mall. It sounds clever, that you could make as much in a few hours as I did in a few days, but casinos are cold, glittering, glowing places. They are houses of inequity, magnets for the bitter, the deluded, fools, and thrill seekers. Which were you, at eighteen, nineteen, twenty? Who let you go? Did you look old when you were still young? Did you feel old too?

      At twenty-four, you end up where I did, in used car sales. I know you studied sports journalism, but said the internships weren't enough and the pay wasn't good. Good enough how? Good enough to pay for what? I know you ran up balances on credit cards - where did that money go? Are you bailing someone else out of a hole, or are you digging your own, trying to find happiness there?

      You said you were a C student, but you are not a C mind.

      At twenty-six, you move across the country to the cold North, pushed there by a chain of promotions. The company promises you money and greatness. It promises you order. So you go.

      You decide you are not a person who looks back.

      *

      You are an older man and you know what you are doing. Then you meet me.

      What did you see? What did you feel? I was like you, when you were young - only different. I had not been humbled as you had. On the contrary, I was wrapped in a warm cloak of enchantment, watched over by the one who sent me out into the world - not like you, sent into the cold, abandoned. I demanded compassion, compromise, money. How was it fair that I live a charmed life, when you had suffered so? And who was I to ask for even more - for answers, explanations, promises, your attention? This is outrage upon outrage.

      Where other knelt to kiss your ring, I cross my arms and laughed. You burned yourself on the altar of your career to forge that ring; behind closed doors, you swore, you bared your teeth, you wept. You held yourself apart, sweating in the furnace of your becoming, concealing yourself in jocularity, betting odds, and sports commentary. You are monstrous and feared. Who am I to deny you respect? Who am I to demand yours?

      You are angry. Your heart knows new pain. The hard-won order of your days frays at the edges. You cannot control me because you cannot predict me, and you cannot predict me because you cannot accept that I exist, because you have trained yourself to count cards and define people by sets, suits, pairs, runs. To what suit does the Joker belong? You could not allow such a creature anything but the narrowest of footholds in your universe.

      But amidst the anger, the pain, the nettles of disrespect, you felt something else, didn't you? You were promised order, and you got it - you minted it from the raw materials, transforming lumping ores into crisp, matching coins. No one told you the cost of this order, that it would throttle something inside you. The world fades to silver, then loses its shine. Suddenly, there is something new in the world. That something is chaotic, but you are all the more determined to bottle lightning.

      *

      You have a girlfriend. You have been dating her for eight years. She is blind. She has moved across three states with you, and you say that you will never marry her. 'If it's not broken,' you say, 'Why fix it? Why change a good thing?'

      You say you reject commitment. You say you won't go with your girlfriend to see her family on Christmas Eve, that you would rather stay home and watch TV. We advertise our defects to deny they are defects, to take the fight to our accusers before they can land the first blow. We pretend to accept ourselves by declaring our faults, when it is our vulnerabilities we hide and do not accept.

      You love her, but you are too good at mirages. You wander in and out of them all day, and sometimes, at the end of those days, you cannot totally bring yourself out.

      *

      You fail to bring me to heel. It devastates you.

      You cannot decide on what is the worst thing about the situation, or me. Half the night you are kept up by how you did not see it coming, by how quickly and finally and awfully it happened; the other half of the night you lie awake haunted by the failure to compel me properly, to either force me to settle for less or urge me to quit, to recuse myself from your game. Before I leave, you sit me down and swear that I will never be rid of you. The moment doesn't feel real, even as the words leave your mouth.

      It has been a long time since you lost, if you have ever lost this way at all. It was necessary for you to believe that, past a certain point, you would become incapable of losing - at least incapable of losing to an amateur. The world explodes into color, oranges, reds, violets. You are poisoned. You are obsessed.

      You are patient; you can wait. You stand back and watch me devour myself, consumed by my potential and crippled without guidance. For my defiance, you punish me over, and over, and over. It feels good to punish me.

      At some point, it does not feel as good as it did in the beginning, but you cannot stop. You are compelled to push me to the breaking point, until finally, I crack, sobbing after an hour trapped in an office with you and my general manager. I am unable to comprehend my defects, but I know that I hate you. You know that I hate you, and this does not feel good either.

      When at last you win - when I am torn from my pedestal - you wait to feel uplifted. You wait to feel triumphant. Instead, you feel as if you have killed something magical, something beautiful. I pass by your office and ignore you, and you do not understand how this feeling - this feeling - is worse than before, worse than when I told you 'no' and argued and wanted more than you were willing to give. The next time I pass by, you call me in, to tell me that I am not allowed to ignore you. You tell me that you believe in me, but you are lying, because you don't know what you believe anymore.

      *

      A few weeks later, it is your birthday. I bring you a present. It is a picture of us from the past November, from the company charity event. The frame is cheap. The photo is amateur. I am the ghost of someone you killed, giving you a milk carton with my face on it. You can't possibly refuse.

      It is the worst gift you have ever been given, and you don't know why. Since you have known me, the list of things you don't know has gotten longer. What you do know is that the idea of looking at me makes you sick to your stomach. What you know is that you can never apologize, that you can never say sorry, because to do so would destroy the illusion of your infallibility, your unquestionability.

      You can never go back, so there is no use in looking back.

      *

      For many months, you avoid me. At one point, you talk to every other sales employee in the office, except for me. When asked, you laugh and say that we have a great relationship, that we have talked plenty of times. In reality, you do not want to be alone in a room with me ever again. You are overwhelmingly successful in this venture.

      For many months, you march on, knowing that I hate you. You hate knowing that I hate you, and that you care that I hate you. Slowly, you accept this as a burden you must bear. This hatred is penance for your sins. You are not sure which sins you have committed, but your guilt is proof they exist.

      Then, one day, I do not hate you.

      On this day, I talk to you. On this day, I tell you about an article that I read that I think you will like. I tell you a joke, and you laugh. You come away pleased, confused, hopeful, wary. The next time you come back, I tell you another joke, and your hopes brighten.

      There is no obvious explanation for the evaporation of this hatred, though you suspect my New Age hobbies have something to do with it. I ask you for no favors, no promotions. I am still the same strange, mystical, mischievous creature that I was when you first met me, still unmanageable and not manager material. Again, I act without your permission, and decide to forgive you.

      It is good not to be hated, but you are still unhappy. All this time you have been in love with me, and you've never done anything for me at all.

      *

      That's the truth-lie we are approaching sideways: you are in love with me. You do not know exactly when it started, if you loved me at first sight or you loved me when you told me about your life or you loved me the first time I left, but somewhere along the lines, you did. You loved me, and love drove you to wrath.

      You are confident I do not know this about you. You are confident that no one knows this about you, because no one here has ever seen you in love with anyone. You would die before telling anyone how you feel, including admitting it to yourself. You only look at your feelings sideways, never quite acknowledging them. Still, you wish there was something you could do to express that you love me, without anyone being able to understand or interpret the gesture.

      The opportunity comes when I fuck up, royally. I piss off the heads of two corporate departments. I inconvenience all the managers of my own store. The involved customer threatens legal action, and actually seems capable of following through with it. The story trickles up to your bosses, people who have been in the company ten, fifteen, twenty years. These are circumstances that demand consequences; people have suffered more, for less.

      You pray for the matter to be left to your discretion; your prayers are answered, and it is. You are thus granted the glory of - doing nothing, of warning me sternly, of sweeping trouble under the rug. You offer your favorite platitude, 'I believe in you.'

      You do not believe in me. You are in love with me. There is a difference.

      *

      You are still here. I am still here. I still occasionally err on the side of great foolishness, the foolishness born from noble intentions and grand gestures offered to the wrong audiences at the wrong time; again, you have been there to wave away retribution. I apologize for causing problems, and you say, 'You are not a problem.' I say I am sorry, and you say, 'My dear friend.'

      You still consider me somewhat incomprehensible and unmanageable, but increasingly, you do not care. You do not care because your world is again filled with so much gray, so much metal, so much cold - and you feel entitled to your small pleasures. You can never square your debt with me, no - you can never restore that precise magic, that particular innocence. What you can do is shield me, to the best of your ability, from the rules and reality you once said I could not defy.

      It does not matter if you do not understand me. It does not matter if you do not see me often. What matters is that, when you do, you know, for a moment, that there is someone looking through the mirages, that there is color and there is chaos and there is more to life than order, and that you do not need to whittle your soul away. You do not need to be easily pronounced.

      You keep lying to me anyways, but I forgive you. We all have stories we need to tell.

--------------------
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XANDER
 Posted: Apr 1 2017, 12:06 PM
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tiefling bard
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morning Q&A interlude
    Q: wait, is everyone secretly in love with you?
    A: not everyone, but it's more likely than you think!

    Q: why?
    A: because i am mysterious and earnest on top of being physically attractive.

    Q: and that means what?
    A: it means i am a weird motherfucker and people don't totally get what's going on in my head, which allows them to invent what i'm thinking and be drawn to it.

    Q: and?
    A: i'm like a paper doll that you can mentally photoshop into your escapists fantasies about ditching your current life. what your current life is is irrelevant.

    Q: does this actually happen?
    A: i got not one but two love confessions in february. 'love' is also a better explanation than 'hypnosis' for why i get away with behaving how i do at my job.

    Q: you sound super paranoid.
    A: because i am.

    Q: probably also a narcissist.
    A: don't be a hater now.
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XANDER
 Posted: Apr 12 2017, 08:45 PM
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tiefling bard
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i had a real entry for you guys but then 1. my computer updated while i was out and restarted itself, there goes that entry and 2. i talked to my dad, who said a few hilarious and memorable things.
QUOTE


  • "i try to read this book but i can only read a little at a time because i think about how long i lived without understanding why i couldn't get my shit together and nobody helped me and IT'S SO UNFAIR."


  • "i'm so fucked up."


  • "you got the real [fucked-up] deal on a dad."


  • "your hair looks terrible and when it all falls out you can just shave it and you will look cuter than it is right now."


MY DAD, EVERYONE

i realize i should be.... more disturbed by these things? i recited them to my girlfriend and she stared at me like IT WAS THE CRAZIEST SHIT SHE HAD EVER HEARD, and i have to remind myself that other people aren't embroiled in endless battles/journeys with their parents. their parents are just weird hierarchical figures who provide validation and various forms of support! strange! so strange!

meanwhile, in therapy

QUOTE
me: i've been depressed forever, haven't i
debbie: i am so impressed you figured it out

me: i feel so far behind from where i should be
debbie: you're doing a lot better than most 20-somethings i know
me: that's nice but am i a famous instagram travel blogger???



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XANDER
 Posted: Apr 19 2017, 01:28 PM
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tiefling bard
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when an old college friend posted a picture of herself at malibu beach on a friday afternoon, i immediately invited her out to coffee on sunday. the unusual nature of this impulse is best understood in light of how distant i have been from every person i encountered in my four years at university: how i floated in and out of their lives like a colorful paper lantern, memorable, fragile, strange, gone. in spite of this, i can still trace my history as confidante and confessor into this age. i remembered the tragedies of this friend, her sadness, her horror. i wondered about who she saw in those moments, what she saw that made me worthy of listening. i now wanted to look in the mirror of her eyes, to see how my present self measured up to the stranger of the past.

there was something else too, something that only barely allowed itself to approach the forefront of my mind, creeping out from a dark corner. maybe she knows about her, this something said. perhaps you can ask.

reader, perhaps you remember (i'll find the url later, but it's the friend whose boyfriend i hit on and ruined our friend group in college), a particular regret over a particular betrayal. what i did not tell you was that, on my vacation to portland, my conscience returned to this old sin, over and over and over. what's the statute of limitations on six-year-old sins? what is the 'right' thing to do? are we only attacking people all over again, to bring up an ugly past and our part in it? or are apologies better late than never? i cannot tell you. but what i can tell you is that i went through facebook, found her account, and delivered my apology. i watched the 'read' receipt appear. i received no response, but i wasn't expecting one.

so out i went on sunday to the la brea tar pits, a place where things died thousands of years ago, and we gawk at their remains now. i only had a few hours to spare with my old friend, but it was time enough to reminisce about the past, assess an animatronic mammoth, and discuss old friends. of course it would come to pass that the betrayed friend came up. of course i nodded along, wondering if my traitorous past was common knowledge - wondering, suddenly, if my visiting friend knew what i was.

'N invited me to her Halloween party,' Friend told me, 'and i showed up late, and it turned out to be a surprise wedding for N and R, and all the guests were dressed as characters from Twin Peaks. N's wedding dress was made entirely of syran wrap. she's getting her MFA from some college in Denver. the wedding cake was vegan donuts.' and i could see it all so clearly in my mind's eye, N's party, the syran wrap dress, the donuts. suddenly it was october, and i was in denver, a ghost perched on the arm of a couch picked up from goodwill, cradling a paper cup as not to spill my drink on the shitty, burn-marked carpet.

i have guiltily kept up with N over the years, as much as one can keep up with a facebook profile - a year or two spent living in russia, singing in a band; a handful of months spent working on a blueberry farm; more months in the old college town, months spent making organic soaps, before purchasing a beat-up van to drive across the country; landing in denver, and getting married. the unspoken truths, the truths i know that are not facbook friendly, color these brighter moments - chronic illness, student loan debt, poverty. N always evoked an image of freedom to me, of someone living as hard as she could, as vividly as she could. her suffering i only poorly understood.


'good for her,' i said to our mutual friend, 'good for her.'

it was not just N's suffering that escape my grasp - it was the suffering of almost everyone i encountered, though many people were brave enough to show it to me. i am glad that i was, at the very least, accepting and unquestioning. i did not sit in judgment. but i did not sit in judgment because i was a greater being, because i was a true master of compassion. i was accepting because i saw myself as too low a creature to wonder, to question, or to assume that anyone lived and felt as i did. my self-loathing kept me from appreciating their gifts. i hated myself too much to realize that i was loved.

as i walked back to the parking lot, after parting ways with my friend, i mentally reviewed my performance: 3.5. out of 5 stars - could have talked less about myself, could have asked better life questions, decent job listening. i wonder if she'll go back to Denver, if she'll see N, if she'll say, 'you know who i saw in California?', and i wonder if this handful of hours will reverberate outward, if they will shift the balance.

or perhaps it is all balanced already. perhaps it always was. i cannot go back in time and accept the love i was given. i can only open my arms, and keep moving forward.

*

reader, i am depressed! as said, it is a weird and sad thing to admit. when i close my eyes, i see myself in different parts, in different incarnations: i see a shadowy, fox-like monster who stands taller than the trees, i see a woman with white hair who interrogates my feelings, i see a dark-haired child in chains followed by a red-eyed golem. it is the last one that i find myself reckoning with recently, this poor soul who has carried the unspoken weight of my trauma and sadness. is it really a surprise that i'm depressed? is it such a shock that everything i went through would shape how i think, how i see the world, how i see myself? why did it take so long to connect the dots of self-loathing, of fear, of doubt?

there's an answer, of course! let's answer it with PICTURES.

you see, reader, i am a big weirdo! i mean, biologically speaking, i am a weirdo. without getting into exactly how or why, let's tepidly accept the idea that i am disposed against fear, anxiety, and overall poor mood. when i say these things, i'm not saying that i'm not cognitively afraid, or cognitively anxious - what i'm saying is, i am biologically harder to work up or keep down. the fact that my brain does not often turn on the FIRE ALARMS helps to explain how i can walk through clouds of smoke, sit down in a burning building, and go, 'hmmmm! is something wrong here?' when the alarms do go off, they do not go off as loud as other people's, which means i can go take my Thought Bat and smash them until they go off. 'NOTHING IS WRONG,' i scream, as my pant leg catches on fire. 'I SAID NOTHING IS WRONG.'

the point is, it looks like this.

user posted image

imagine these are the three big aspects of depression and shit right here: cognitive/thoughts, social/behavior, and physical. imagine that these three things work together and influence each other.

except if you're me, and you're weird!

user posted image

so it goes like this:

user posted image

you have a sad thought! you think that sad thought, and if you think enough of these, your brain doesn't release all those useful mood-influencing hormones, like serotonin! your thoughts are part of convincing your body to go into full slug mode.

and then there's me!

user posted image

while bombarded with sad, shitty thoughts, my brain just keeps telling my body to pump out the 'everything is fine' chemicals (for the most part. i should let you know that i drink 2 kale smoothies a day, exercise for an hour three times a week, and sleep aggressively 8-9 hours a day, and i recommend you do all that shit if you want to not feel like a slug.) so while i'm mentally bleh, i can still get out of bed, eat my breakfast, and march on.

this also works for a lot of social stuff!

user posted image

if i do not go outside and talk to people, i will wall off. however! if i can make myself go outside (physical task) and i am around people, HUZZAH, you would never guess that i feel misunderstood and isolated and worthless! i am so charming!

user posted image

in spite of my shitty, shitty thoughts and social patterns, i do this.

user posted image

and then i turn around and look at everyone like

user posted image

WANT to do things???? i do not understand. MOVE YOUR LIMBS. lift them. roll yourself towards the grocery store. buy green things. shove them into your mouth. my cognition might be all fucked up, but i am a fucking Nike commercial. JUST DO IT, i scream at everyone, everything, all the time.

but, you see, while i am trying to Nike (Just Do It), i am the equivalent of a marathon runner with really heavy ankle weights. i am trying so hard to run fast, run far, but i can't run as far as other people! i do not understand, i am trying so hard! i am working so hard! why can't i run like they can? as i refused to acknowledge that i was depressed, i came to the obvious conclusions of a depressed person: that i am lazy, that i am shitty, that i am a bad person. that's why i never went to law school! that's why i'm not a better site admin! that's why i struggle to commit to writing! it is because i am bad and i am not trying hard enough.

...or i'm running with ankle weights! and realizing that is like, MOTHERFUCKER YOU ARE JOKING ME. ankle weights is a nice term! think more like shackles with balls and chains. this shit is heavy and also so very attached to me.

so that's the job now, reader! now i will sit around and fill out depression worksheets and spend the next - oh my god, fuck me - 6 months to 1 year to 2 years reconditioning my entire goddamn thought process. FUKKEN. SHIT.

you, raising your hand in the back - what is it? maybe i should stop trying to run marathons? NO, FUCK YOU. HAVE YOU MET ME???? god damn, look at everything i've accomplished WITH THESE FUCKERS ON. i am clearly going to be usain bolt when i get them off. WATCH OUT!!!

*

lastly, things with my girlfriend are okay. we've been seeing each other for three months now! when i am with her, i almost feel normal.

i worry that she is 1) a little too normal/untraumatized and 2) in a different class strata. when i tell her really sad/fucked up things, i can read in her face that she has no idea what i'm talking about. this shit is purely theoretical to her. i am a case study from a psych textbook. additionally, she has no practical concerns about money - in this case, eating out all the time and student loans. like, okay, you went to a private school in malibu at 40k a year, of course you believe in getting a master's degree and making 120k! of course you do! and i do not know you well enough to take a hammer to your dreams!

she writes me really sweet notes, and i do think she really likes me, but part of me suspects that i get away with being so obviously crazy because i am very good-looking. hot bitches - they're crazy, it's just how it is!

this has been AN UPDATE, reader. do you feel UP TO DATE?

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XANDER
 Posted: Apr 21 2017, 12:35 PM
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tiefling bard
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this is more like a supplemental update to the last post but here it is: a list of good things about my girlfriend
  1. sends me academic articles from her grad school classes
  2. watches my favorite animes with me [madoka, now evangelion]
  3. writes me sweet notes
  4. respects my physical boundaries [i came out with the 'I'M WAITING TO HAVE SEX' pretty quick]
  5. has gone to zumba with me TWICE [i love ridiculous dancing]
  6. participates in 'haiku tuesday'
yet i am uneasy, reader! and the core of my unease lies with puttering around for... what do i call it? darkness? sadness? tragedy? i am a human metal detector of Fucked Up Shit, combing the beaches of people's personalities until i find the lost engagement ring. AHA! THIS IS IT. YOUR FUCKED UP-NESS. i am disconcertingly good at this, in part because i am also good at picking out people who are fucked up. i smell your sadness on you and i come running.

my girlfriend is not sad! in fact, she may even have had NOTHING extremely bad happen to her! she has worried about being disowned for being bi, but that has never actually happened. she has made a few oblique references to Bad Relationships, but the details are sparse. i keep waiting for them, and i try to pick at them, but nothing. meanwhile, when i have revealed something more depressing about my life, i kinda get that 'huh' look.

i don't know what to do with that 'huh' look! for eight years i was enmeshed with someone who was at least as fucked up as me. the loneliness, the pain, the fear, the yearning, the hurt that i articulated - i was talking to someone who had, like me, suffered greatly, and thus understood. i worry that my girlfriend can't really understand me, because she hasn't suffered greatly.

is that my problem? have i made the mistake of identifying with my suffering, with defining myself by it? am i so overly invested in the awful shit that happened to me that i don't know how to live with someone who isn't damaged? can you hold it against someone, that they're not depressed like you? i don't think that's fair, and it doesn't sound productive, but i still don't quite know what to do.

lastly, there is a dark fear lurking in me. it sounds like this: "you might not be damaged yet, but you will be after me." just follow me down the rabbit hole into my vivid emotional wonderland! watch all the TV shows, go on all the adventures, i'll meet all your friends and go to weddings with you and one day you'll fall in love with me and that, my friend, will be your becoming.

don't mind me, just worrying about shit that hasn't even happened yet!

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XANDER
 Posted: May 6 2017, 12:11 PM
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ONE YEAR AGO TODAY i was freaking out because it's that time again! last year, i was like, flipping my everloving lid and yelling at debbie like AAAHHH WHAT AM I GOING TO DO THIS IS THE MOMENT THAT DEFINES ME!!! one year later, i'm like 'eyyyy i'm gonna go to a party tonight and wear a fake mustache and play mario kart!'

naturally this did not stop me from firing off a 3,000 word email that goes to die in a 'blocked' email folder. while i am not going to post that here, you can listen to all these playlists that i made!

1. songs about being glad you broke up, but also you're sad

2. songs about being REALLY sad

3. songs that motivate you to send 3,000 word emails until you die

4. soundtrack for the antichrist universe i'll never write

MEANWHILE AT WORK

QUOTE
me: [referring to manager at another store] you have to TRY to not do that little of work
boss: honestly that's what we say about you
boss: like sasha works REALLY HARD to not work
me: i come in listening to the rocky theme song every day like
me: watch how much i don't get done today


QUOTE
me: [to an employee from another dealership] so what do your managers do all day [with so few people to manage]?
other employee: they work
me: what a delightfully vague answer
boss: they manage, sasha
me: [hears 'they manage sasha'] they don't have a sasha to manage!
me: that reduces their workload by like, 50%
other manager: well, at least you admit it


QUOTE
boss: sasha is going to absorb that information
boss: and then find something terrible with it
boss: and spread it like a virus
other manager: sasha you can make even good things terrible
boss: you kill everything you touch
boss: just ask your exes
me: all four of them are still alive to my knowledge


QUOTE
boss: okay sasha i need you to do something for me
boss: [explains weird one-off sale scenario]
boss: and you're the smartest person here
boss: and i don't think anyone else can do it, so
boss: you're gonna do it


i guess it's as good a time as any to admit that i feel comfortable at my job because the pushy sales environment supports my negative behaviors / self-image (self-deprecation, insecurity, anxiety) and also i've hacked the system so that i'm only vaguely tethered to the authority structure and do a lot of 'whatever i want', and i find this trade-off mostly acceptable because i get paid decent money and i'm trying to hold on while i collect my check and plot my escape.

it's almost like, well, if i can't be my own boss, i will cripple my own bosses so thoroughly that i am relatively my own boss. the thought of integrating into an actual hierarchical power relationship again makes little sirens go off in my brain. even if i was a manager somewhere else, i would have my boss, and i would have to start all over in regards to loosening all the bolts that hold that kind of relationship together, or i would have to get high enough in the organization that there is relatively little oversight of me (shout out to best boss who has pulled this off!) i know i'm too smart for my job. in fact, everyone at my job knows i am too smart for my job, which probably contributes to their randomly getting pissed off at me, because WHY AM I THERE??? JUST TO MAKE THEIR LIVES DIFFICULT???

additionally, my presence and behavior there probably does have a corrupting / corrosive effect on the work environment! i don't think this is a totally bad thing - capitalism is fucked, my dudes, so FUCK THE SYSTEM. i place such an emphasis on independence and emotional honesty and respect, and i VERY LOUDLY place this emphasis on things, to the point that it does scramble the power relations to a certain degree. my boss is only half joking with the 'spread like a virus' quote - i can (and will) rile up all the direct reports in a given direction if i am displeased. meanwhile, i have sold my value package (emotional honesty) to everyone around me, managers included, so punishing me (if you feel i am kinda right) is now a violation of your values, so what are you going to do? nothing! you will do nothing.

and so will i! i will continue to read .pdf ebooks while i make phone calls, i will draft my spotify playlists while i drive cars around the block, and i will complain about my commission bonuses. yup!

MEANWHILE AT RELATIONSHIP

still too early to figure out WHERE IS YOUR SADNESS, GIRLFRIEND but i guess this is how normal people do relationships? for companionship and fun? and they just do this indefinitely, and then sometimes get married? WEIRD.

girlfriend has been working on my satanic Color Me Puzzle that i've had since last fucking august. (THIS IS NOT A STRESS-RELIEVING ACTIVITY. THIS IS THE HARDEST PUZZLE I'VE EVER DONE. HOLY SHIT.) for all my doubts about the lack of Sads, i do gotta remind myself that hanging out with her is one of the easiest things i have ever done, and by golly that is a good thing. it is a nice thing. look at this puzzle passion.

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those playlists are like two hours of songs, but here's an ending song for you anyways

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XANDER
 Posted: May 26 2017, 12:23 PM
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tiefling bard
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two weeks ago, my girlfriend told me she loved me. we were making out in a karaoke room in koreatown while her friend went to the bathroom. shocked and drunk, the only thing i could think to say was, "good," an answer on par with 'thank you' or han solo's 'i know'. what i really felt, beneath the haze of alcohol, was a sentiment closer to 'i'm sorry'.

it only took another few hours - hours spent sobering up, calling an uber for her friend, escaping the grid of L.A., contemplating the banal terror of my response - for her to start walking back her words. she differentiated between 'love' and 'being in love'. she apologized if she scared me while at the same time not being sorry she said it. she asked me to let her be there for me. i told her she was a busy person with her own problems - grad school and a full-time job - and that i didn't want to overwhelm or burden her. it was both the truth and a chess move: it was a calculated statement designed with consideration towards her innocence and her claims that she was resistant to commitment and attachment. i talked in a circle about love and destruction and being destroyed, and managed to put her to sleep.

the next day was dedicated to hangover recovery. i woke up and went on like nothing happened. had it?

i have been more careful in this relationship. i have been revealing myself and my sorrows slowly; i have dedicated more energy to listening and cheerfulness. the heart of this endeavor, i told myself, has been to learn how to have a healthy, functional relationship. the whole point is to draft a new template for a supportive partnership.

i worry this is not the truth.

i am afraid i am too far gone to be happy with something that simply works. i was dr. frankenstein - i was blinded by my own ambitions and brokenness - i went beyond, into a world most never go. i was a monster; i made a monster. but did i learn my lesson? have i sworn off monsters, or am i still experimenting? did i fail, or was my process imperfect? did i create a monster, or an imperfect angel?

"i want to become the person who can be there for you", my girlfriend wrote in a later text message. to a friend she wrote, "i learn something new about myself and the world every day from sasha." at what cost do i offer this becoming?



i had a bad day three weeks ago - one of those days where i was moody for no reason and i knew it. work was just too much - too many problem customers, too many threats to my paycheck - and i could barely shake my anxiety and sadness. i almost had to go to my old office to preempt a customer returning a vehicle - the office that demoted and betrayed me, the office that leveraged my perfectionism and insecurity against me. the expectation, when i was transferred, was that i wouldn't last; visiting them now would be a kind of snub, an act of defiance.

i said as much to my boss, as i prepared to head out. "you can show them that you've changed," he said. "so don't rub it in too much." then, he added, "they said you can come in through the back door, they'll leave it open for you."

"what?" i demanded. "so they can hide me?"

"no, no", he laughed, "they love you."

i turned away to head back to my desk. "yeah," i said, "they love me like they love hot cheetos," referring to the managers' favorite gas station snack. "i give them heartburn."

"hey, that's how i love you."

at which point i laughed on the outside and began screaming on the inside.



Q: i am sure he didn't mean it like that
A: YEAH, UH HUH

Q: really
A: TELL IT TO THE BOX OF KEURIG COFFEE CAPSULES HE GOT FOR ME FOR NO REASON ONE TIME

Q: really
A: hot cheetos motherfucker



my old boss visited me last week - viking boss, the one that moved away. it was a surprise. when he walked through the door and someone said his name, i'm pretty sure my whole face lit up. i stopped trying to deny i had something of a crush on this boss - the truth of it was self-evident, and my denial only encouraged Worst Manager to rag on me harder. i am 95% sure Worst Manager went on to relay this information to my old boss, which didn't matter because i was never going to see him again. but now! here he was!

what i wanted to do was jump up and rush over and make conversation; what i actually did was proceed with the boring ass paperwork i had on my desk as if i gave a shit, even though i have a well-known office reputation of not giving a shit. would he come over and talk to me? would it be awkward? what would i do if it was awkward? the greater part of his instagram is pictures of him with his girlfriend, whom he clearly adores; i don't want to get anywhere near messing with that. in fact, it is actually quite charming to see a man talk about how much he misses his girlfriend, and how much he likes her, and how grateful he is to have her in his life - it's something i wish i saw more often. all of this i consider as i copy driver's license addresses into a test drive log.

i am of the mind that one-armed hugs are unforgivably awkward, but i'll take one over nothing. he did come over, and i opted for two arms over one, promptly blurted, "i missed you" in the first sixty seconds.

love is complicated. it's hard enough to pin down even when someone outright says they love you, and it only gets harder when someone can't or won't say it. how do you know? it is only in retrospect that i can see that, perhaps, my old boss's feelings were a little more than congenial, beneath his cultivated distance. it was in the little things, like breaking the budget guidelines on my birthday cake, or the time he bought me lunch when i was having a bad day, or going with me to do the shopping for the charity run. i can see it now when i ask if and when he'll come back to the L.A. area, whether he'll go to one of my old offices, because i'd go with him - and he tells me, not there, "but i'll take you somewhere else." it reminds me that he had wanted me to go with him when he left, that he had asked me to, in not so many words, and i told him no.

what is it about my old boss that puts me at such ease, when we have so little to talk about, when our interests are so disparate? why do i trust his feelings, feelings i cannot prove, over the more explicit avowals of my girlfriend? i think the answer is that i came to my old boss in shambles, flanked on both sides by a bad reputation and poor recommendations, held together by inertia and shreds of pride. i was wretched, and he saw beyond the wreckage - beyond my moodiness, my combativeness, to the person i could be, if only someone would care about me. the person my girlfriend knows is the person he helped put back together. i have shown her mostly good things; she had not had to take any leaps of faith - and i don't consider "i love you" very much of a leap when i have said, from the beginning, that i am the patron saint of commitment.

"did that make your day, sasha?" one of my coworkers teased, once my old boss had left.

"yeah," i said, "it did."



Q: why is your job an unending series of emotional entanglements
A: men

Q: really
A: that's a lie i did it with women when i worked at the mall

Q: fucking shit
A: feelings everywhere



the burden of love is a heavy one. sometimes i forget about it, caught up as i am in scowling at my salary, my savings, the feeling that i have to put my life on hold or else live it on credit, the feeling that i am trapped. i forget, until i walk into the bank to use the ATM and one of the tellers standing nearby says, "welcome", and then, "your hair is lighter, it looks nice." i'm floored that this woman has any recollection of me; i only go into this bank once a week, for less than three minutes, to withdraw cash for my therapy co-pay. i take a moment to look at her and tell her thank you, and that she did a very nice job curling her own hair today. at the grocery store, the one where i shop on my way home from work, one of the cashiers says as i go, "it was nice talking to you today," and i say, "you too, eddie!", and hope that this disguises my shock.

it is these moments, seemingly of so little magnitude, that remind me how much love there is in the world, and how it lives in the simple recognition of others. how hard it is, to interrupt our own inner monologue, our default solipsism, and not simply see The Cashier, or The Teller - how difficult, to see and notice all our eddies, because to do so requires that we stop brooding over annoying it is to shop at 10pm for kale and how long a day it's been and why can't i just win the million dollar monopoly prize? it is easy to be and feel alienated in a world where our lives are dominated by the spectacles of social media and entertainment, and our relationships to one another are defined by commodities - customer vs customer service representative, he who has the newest watch vs he who does not. how much harder it is to be present, to commit two minutes to talking to eddie about how i only won a single loaf of french bread from my all my instant win game pieces.

last night, one of my coworkers jokingly asked me what i want to be when i grow up. i thought about it, and told him i wasn't sure - half novelist, half life coach, maybe? what about him? a producer, he said. oh, really?

as we walked the lot, checking every door handle to make sure all the cars were locked, he told me a story about the first time he saw a grand piano, on display in a costco. he was a junior in high school. he sat down to play it, and thought "it was just the coolest thing in the world." that christmas, his father bought him a yamaha keyboard, but a year later, when my coworker wanted to go to technical school for music production, that same father told him no, it was traditional university or nothing. so my coworker is trying to pay off his car ($40,000) and his student loans ($10,000+) in the next 6 years (his car payment alone is $800/month) - and then, maybe after that, he can go to that technical school, and follow his dream.

"keep your dream alive," i told him. "don't give up on what you love." to myself, i repeat the same thing. keep dreaming. don't give up on love.



this week my girlfriend surprised me by taking me to disneyland. i've lived in southern california for two years, and had never been. it is, she told me, her favorite place to go.

in honor of her request for me to share more about myself, i did. while standing in line for pirates of the caribbean (a few of you will appreciate the monumental irony), i told her more about my ex, and the madness of it, and the destruction, and my feelings of loss. "i'm a lot better now," i explained, "but sometimes, i'm just... i'm haunted, by the sense of injustice. is that what it all comes down to? you commit all that time, all that work, to someone - and they can't even apologize to you?"

my girlfriend goes quiet when i tell these kinds of stories, probably as she works to process what i'm saying. i have to make myself shut up and give her time to think, as opposed to babbling endlessly. after a moment, she said, "it doesn't sound like she's the kind of person who doesn't know what she did. but to admit what you did, especially the person you did it to - maybe she's just not brave enough. and that sucks, but that's how it is sometimes."

"hmmmm," i said, "maybe it is." and what i felt, in that moment, was something so strange - like i had opened a vampire's coffin in broad daylight, and when i let the sun in, some part of my fear and my horror and my sorrow melted to ash, and blew away with the wind. 'maybe she's just not brave enough', and that's all it is, and no amount of mourning or hand-wringing or ranting will give her that courage. in the meantime i ride the pirates of the caribbean ride and point at the tentacle face of davy jones and i ask my girlfriend, "so how do you feel about tentacles?", because earlier in the day, waiting in life for astro blasters, i did my very best to explain the fetish map, for reasons i forget.

i realized that everyone i've ever loved, i've wanted to save, and i've wanted them to save me in return. for once, i'm not drowning with someone, side by side. for once, i am sitting in the boat, with someone else. for once, i might have to imagine myself as someone not defined by drowning, or wreckage, or all the other things i've been, and love anyways. wish me luck.

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XANDER
 Posted: May 31 2017, 04:31 PM
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tiefling bard
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i started writing this blog post at home, but it started off differently - i hit a point where i thought, 'am i working endlessly? am i continuing to reproduce work outside of work?' and then i got mad and closed my notepad tab. i feel better justified writing at work while i'm at work, which is more a snub.

do i write too much about work? i wonder this, even though for at least 40 hours a week - the majority of my waking hours - i am at work. i see my coworkers more often than i see my girlfriend. i see my coworkers more than i talk to my friends in-person or online. to reflect on work and analyze it is, inevitably, what a brain like mine will do - a hungry brain, a brain that grinds its teeth, a brain that wants things to gnaw on. moreover, it has always been my tendency to embellish the banalities of my life with literary verve. i am unable to simply GO TO WORK, turn off my brain and my heart, and then resuscitate my finer facilities once i clock out. this has led me into trouble, as well as out of it.

this is work, a condensed story.

YEAR 1: the cradle / the cocoon.

  my job is selling used cars. it feels distinctly unglamorous to say that, even now. selling cars is considered an unsavory profession, and selling used cars is perceived as especially greasy. car sales is framed as aggressive, complicated, intimidating, predatory, and deceptive. if you had told me when i graduated college with my liberal arts degree that i would be selling cars a little more than two years later, i would have been flabberghasted. me? sell cars? never.

but there i would be, in 2014, tired of my dead-end job in retail management, finally exhausted by the bullying and mood swings of my manager. sell used cars? no, but i'd go to the interview. at the interview i would meet a man that turned out to be one of the greatest allies of my young life - a man who asked me nary an interview question, but instead told me that he'd broken an exit sign playing wiffle ball in the dealership, and where had i gone to school? he liked that school!

though i was only 23, i knew by then that a manager makes or breaks your job. i had cried when i lost my first general manager in retail, i had cared about her so much. i did not want to sell cars, but i did want to work for the man interviewing me. the job could have been anything. when i got the offer, i said yes.

i would only get to work with this manager a few months before he went out of state for other dealership openings, but we quickly established a friendly relationship. in fact, as the youngest person in the dealership by at least four or five years, i went out of my way to befriend everyone. i was unerringly friendly to even the stiffest, most robotic employee, hovering at his desk and taking notes, making conversation. everyone was my friend and i was everyone's friend. i worked hard; i believed i could make it as a manger, the way i hadn't in retail.

my career would fall by the wayside when my general manager left the store, leaving the sales manager in charge. that left us terrifically understaffed; that left little time to teach me to be less of a Quirky Sidekick, but also little time to discipline me. i became used to working relatively independently, with very little micromanaging, and very little hierarchy. i began to play phone games at my desk while i churned out phone calls, and i dramatically lost my temper when told to stop.

i brooded very deeply when my general manager stopped sending me text messages from afar. he had led the friendly overtures - he had been the one to play little games with me, hiding things in my desk, writing notes on my calendar. had i been too friendly in return? had his girlfriend screened our exchanges and found them too familiar? the man i had specifically took this job to work for had left my work planet, and there was no sign he was ever coming back. i sank deeper into my writing, and into my troubles. i was living with an alcoholic parent and managing an abusive one from afar; the indignity of car sales dropped very low on the hierarchy of my problems. selling cars, it turned out, was not very hard for me.

everything changed when my general manager did come back. instead of moving out of state for a promotion, there he was, back at our office. i didn't know what to do, or what to say. i felt abandoned; i felt led on; i felt ashamed of my feelings. after two days of awkward silence, he broke it with a joke. he spent 45 minutes at my desk recounting his adventures, backpack over his shoulder, having been prepared to leave but unable to resist catching up once his story began. another joke led to a late-night text message from an unknown number - his work number, from which he could apparently text me in peace.

a few weeks into his return, he would suggest that i move across the country to accelerate my career, to show my loyalty to the company, which had dealerships all over. i had dreamed of moving to california - i had dreamed of escaping florida, where i'd lived my whole life - but i was too cowardly, or too practical, to simply move and go job hunting. there was a new dealership opening in california, and i said, 'that's where i want to go.'

'are you sure?' he asked. 'because once you put your hand up, it'll happen.'

'i'm sure.' i didn't really believe him.


YEAR 2: the wasteland / the arena

  it is still hard to believe all the things that came together that moved me to california. it is hard to believe i just so happened to take a car sales job at this particular dealership, where i would meet this particular man, who happened to be very persuasive and who happened to like me, and in time with all of this, a dealership would open in california, a region where there had once been as many as fifteen dealerships but had shut down all but four. there were no openings for sales people at that location either, but somehow, a space was made for me. the company, at my manager's behest, footed the relocation bill, despite my lowly position. my manager himself paid for my plane ticket.

if you asked me now, what was the point where my old life began to collapse - when did the end begin? - i would point to this moment. i would point to it because it suddenly presented me with the opportunity to reimagine myself completely, to escape my stifling surroundings and become Someone Who Lived In California, someone exciting and glamorous and outdoorsy, someone else. it was this insistence to become someone else that would lead to the end of my long-term relationship, which, back then, i considered immortal. i did not grasp at the time that being reborn meant that, first, i had to die.

i was babied and favored in florida. i was the youngest, doted on by my coworkers and unflaggingly supported by my general manager. at his suggestion, i requested a company car and delayed my arrival in california to capitalize on the commission money available during our busy season. he framed these things as perfectly rational and completely apolitical. he told me i was going to like my new general manager, that he was a fun guy with a gap between his two front teeth. loads of fun!

what i found instead, waiting for me in L.A. county, was a reputation of being deranged and a diva. my regional manager, my general manager's boss (and good friend), told me soon after meeting me, "we thought you were the devil." it was unthinkable that i had asked for money to balance out a commission loss. it was insane that i had asked for a company car, and gotten it, when that was an exclusive manager privilege. while no one ever said it to my face, i can't help but wonder if they looked at me, 24 and beautiful, and thought i had fucked my way advantages. (on the contrary, my general manager had never so much as hugged me. on my last day at the office, he hadn't even shown up.)

i had come to california convinced that i was manager material. i had felt my intelligence was respected. suddenly i was stuck with two brand-new sales managers, two aspiring corporate lackeys who tried to manage me out of a corporate handbook i completely disdained. i wanted my new boss to like me the way my old boss had, but my new boss, i learned, was aiming for his boss/friend's position, and had a different way of looking at things. he believed in process. he believed in conformity. he too had moved from store to store, preaching his gospel, creating disciples, and he had returned to california, his home state, to collect his just desserts.

i went berserk. the store was slow; i made less money; i was maddeningly bored day in and day out. i begged for things to do. i started listening to podcasts on my ipod and stood staring out at the lot for as long as i could, but i often found myself reading on my phone, or exchanging messages with people on dating sites. my managers complained; i ignored them. my boss told me to listen to him more; i told him to listen to me. when he would lose his temper, raising his voice and shifting his tone to something mean, something aggressive, i stood up in his glass-walled office and told him, "you can't talk to me like that." i walked outside to keep myself from crying.

three months into my declining paycheck and existential misery, one of the new hires was promoted over me. i was crushed. humiliated, i admitted my failure to my old boss, my boss back home - i felt like i owed it to him. i had let him down. i was sorry. if only i had been a better listener, and asked less questions. in what would be the last flex of his power, my old boss called my regional manager and complained. he told him my new boss 'wasn't ready for someone like her', that he lacked experience and skill to manage someone as driven and intellectual. the gambit worked - i was promoted into another store. but not without a price.

my boss at the new store was furious. he hated me - had not understood that he hated me before then, but he did. he told me, in these exact words, 'don't think you're getting rid of me.' he would get that promotion, and when he did, he would be my general manager's manager. i smiled at him as he swore his revenge. i had beaten him, and that was all that mattered.

revenge would be his, though, sooner or later. i took to my new position with deranged zeal - far too much zeal, it turns out, given that i was a perfectionist trying to manage very laid-back people ten and twenty years older than me. no one listened to me, but everyone found something wrong with me. i was an outsider, an invader, endlessly irritated with how much work wasn't getting done, and unapologetic about saying so and hurting feelings. i dug myself a hole in the political graveyard.

i spent the first six months in california at war with my new boss, until i managed to stab him between the ribs and run off. i spent the next six months dying through a thousand pinpricks, a thousand criticisms of my personality, a thousand pounds of absolute fucking bullshit. what i couldn't believe - what i refused to believe - was that i was being punished for being a young woman who talked too much like a man, a woman who was strong and said what was on her mind and wanted to be loved for it anyway. the things my old manager had thought were great and beautiful were treated as setbacks, as ugliness. the boss got his promotion, as he swore he would, and he used it to corner me in a different office for an hour or more at a time, lecturing me on 'how i talked to people' and 'how i was perceived' until, after six or more such encounters, i broke down in tears.

my demotion would be swift, ruthless, and possibly an EEOC complaint. i would take a surprise phone call monday morning telling me to surrender my company car, transfer offices, and not go back inside the dealership to collect my things form my desk. i would reject the third tenet, though my regional manager would call his boss, a director, before he allowed me to. i requested a sick day, which i also received. i packed up my things and went home to cry again - crying over my failure, so total, so complete, so much an indication of who i was, that i didn't know where to begin.


INTERLUDE: penance and pentinence

  it would be easy to paint everyone who contributed to my demotion as villains and demons. it would be easy to see the worst in them, and to frame them accordingly. it was, for a long time, very easy to hate - truly hate - the man who became my new regional manager, the man who singularly opposed me as a manager, as a woman, and as a person. i reduced these people to caricatures because my heart was broken and i couldn't stand to look at them.

but the truth is often one of two things, if not both: it is difficult, and it is complicated. the truth is that, while i was perfectly correct in assessing laziness, or disorganization, or poor motivation, or a lack of backbone or coherent philosophy with my coworkers, i was also quite cruel - because there is a cruelty in telling people, very directly, the truths they are avoiding. very few people are safely ensconced in total blissful ignorance. the facts of the matter are lurking around every corner, waiting to sneak up on you, and you must be vigilant in maintaining ignorance and not thinking about certain things, lest they take you by surprise and ruin your day. people are often content not to think too hard about many things, especially work, because we are all in savage denial about the role work plays in our lives, and the kinds of people it turns us into.

i was a threat to others as a manager. i threatened the way they thought about their jobs, who they were, and who they wanted to be. i did not go along with established processes. i did not agree with my supervisors simply because they were supervisors. i argued, very passionately, about what it meant to occupy a certain role, and about how that role should progress, and what it said about me, and the other managers, as people. i rejected a value system of overwork combined with periods of lethargy. i refused to feel shame about wanting a life. all of these things could, and likely were, felt as an attack.

in the months that followed, i would detect something very telling, and very powerful, from the people who turned on me: shame. in the moment that they enabled my demotion, perhaps they felt triumph, and a sense of rightness, but what lingered on was shame. they were weak, yes, and they were wrong, but ultimately they were only human, afraid for their jobs and their livelihoods and their very identities, which felt very jeopardized by one twenty-five-year-old girl. they are still human. so am i.


YEAR 3: the end of control

  in the first half of the third year, i had given up. that was it, that was the end - there went my dreams of middle management, and eventually upper management, and six figures and money and the dreams that come with money. i wasn't good enough. i was doomed. there was nothing left for me, except to continue to drag myself to work because what, was i going to quit? what else could i do? and why? why any of this?

it was my new general manager who would change things for me, who would reassemble my world. he is not a man i have very much in common with: he does not read books, he likes sports, he likes cars, he likes fashion, he was in the military as a prison guard. on paper, you would struggle to find similarities. and yet, somehow, somewhere in all these differences, we shared a philosophy - and if that sounds like bullshit, i forgive you for thinking so, because i would have not believed it myself. i could say we had 'similar personalities', but even that does not quite capture what he possesses, what we share.

i knew he had this thing, this quality, very quickly, because he was the first to admit that i had been, as he put it, 'stabbed in the back', and that he had no interest in reading all the emails and attachments he had been forwarded from my old general manager - emails about all my interpersonal problems, about my conflicts in the dealership, about what made me, in essence, a bad manager. he wasn't going to read them, and didn't care to - he would decide for himself who and what i was. this was, as i now understand it, not simply a personal choice, but an almost political choice, in light of the organization. he could not restore me to my riches, but he could erase my debts. i could start over.

start over i did, though not without errors. i think my boss anticipated that i would want to be a manager again, and so he essentially treated me like one, leading to the 80s bar visit and later allowing the casino trip. fraternizing with the salespeople, while not explicitly disallowed, is somewhat frowned upon; favoritism and flirtations with the salespeople veers into the realm of actually punishable. this would not stop me from shamelessly angling for favoritism when i felt it was within my reach.

all the while, i repeated one thing, over and over: 'i don't ever want to be a manager again.' i said it to myself because, as i would later admit to my boss, my regional manager would not allow me to be a manager again. he would never let me, an outspoken, analytical woman, occupy a position of power, would not let me have even a tiny space at the table, where i could garner influence and challenge him. my boss would one day tell me that yes, i was right, that i would probably need to leave the state and start over elsewhere, again, or else come with him when he went to another dealership, where my regional manager's influence would be limited. the sacrifices those options entailed did not appeal to me, so i continued to repeat, 'i do not ever want to be a manager again.'

so what did i want then? what was my heart's desire? to get out, i decided. i wanted to get out. i decided getting out meant having $25,000 cash, which i would use to pay off the negative equity on my car loan, bail out my yoga business, and travel the world until i went broke. if this was my plan, then i was free to let my mind wander away from work, free to focus on things that were Not Work, Not Career, and simply save money until my ultimate jailbreak. that is the first half of what i started doing.

the other half of what i started doing falls under a larger umbrella that i will call 'subversion'. the point of conforming with my job and its expectations was to derive material benefit. the point was to make money, to keep my job, and pursue a promotion. once i determined that i did not care about these things (that i barely wanted to keep my job, really), i was free to wage my own sort of guerilla warfare against the established systems.

i may be retroactively giving myself more credit than i am due. the boldest and most daring things i did were not the result of carefully constructed plans; they were not chess moves. i was simply angry, and overwhelmed, and of the powerful conviction that what was happening to me was wrong, and so i fought it. i fought it when my sales manager yelled at me for taking an extra fifteen minutes on my break, by storming out to the front desk, slamming my book down in front of his face, and telling him, "if you want to yell, we'll yell." i then yelled in my general manager's office until i cried; i yelled about demanding to be treated like a person, with respect, regardless of the situation, regardless of wrongs. i cried in the office and i cried in the bathroom and i took a long walk outside to breathe, and after that, no one has ever, not once in the ensuing seven months, said anything to me about my lunch breaks.

another time my managers, all three of them, were in some sort of mood, and saw fit to complain that i did not solicit an online review post-sale, and had not told them. it was one of those situations, one of those attacks, that seems to uniquely dog me: i create and irritate an adversary without realizing it, and they wait for the pettiest, silliest moment to ambush me. again close to tears, i had to take a breath and walk away. i stood in the key office breathing, thinking. what was i going to do? what was my point? i walked back out and i told them, 'i understand that you feel i did something wrong, but the way you are speaking to me is disrespectful and demotivating. your insistence of taking one issue and blowing it up does not signal to me that you have any faith in me, and it will not improve my performance. having a positive relationship with me is more important than obsessively criticizing one thing you don't like.' two out of the three managers apologized.

concurrent with this, i began finding un-work-like things to do. i started doing crossword puzzles. i refused to put my phone away. i began reading pdf after pdf on my computer, essay after essay, as i made my phone calls. sometimes i would close these tabs, if nagged, but sooner or later i got back to them. i unsettle my peers by churning out work it takes them all day to do; i annoy them by managing to meet the same quotas with seemingly no effort, or even a pronounced lack of effort. when the most tempermental of the managers snaps at the sales people, i shamelessly parody him by kicking trash cans or throwing folders across the room. bit by bit, day after day, i deliver a single message, tolling like a bell: i am beyond your control.

most of the time, these days, it works.

in the background, my regional manager still lurks. he is the most puzzling part of this equation, of this lack of control, but i suspect that his shame runs the deepest of them all. we are alike, he and i. his crime against me is one human against another: while corporate overlords would support and forgive him, life as a whole is a harsher judge. the best he can do for me is to let me live, let me keep my job, and occasionally pretend like he cares that i am 'following rules', like not being on my cell phone all day. he can never ask my forgiveness, nor can he ever fully surrender control. but my leash is so long, and so slack, that i am not sure anyone really believes it's there.


so what does this all boil down to? what does it all mean? what does it say about me, and the people around me, and work, and capitalism, and life? i leave most of it to you, but i suppose what i take from it is this: that it is our duty to ourselves, in line with self-love, to resist, to push against the forces that would contain, constrain, and crush us. in my story, my allies and my adversaries are often the same people - on different days, in different moods, after different conflicts and concessions. we are human, all of us, struggling to define ourselves and to live in this complicated, messy, difficult world. if i have done only one thing in these three years, that thing is a passionate, stumbling, unapologetic effort to be human, to be more human, even when it has entailed my own suffering, when it has changed my life in ways i did not expect or desire.

if i had not moved, maybe i wouldn't have suffered, or lost my best friend. if i had been more serene, less aggressive, maybe i would have been a manager, or stayed one. but if i had not suffered, i would not have been transformed. if i had not been destroyed, i would have not been able to burn away the parts of me that were holding me back, that were making me blind, that were keeping my heart small and my ambitions narrow. if i was anyone other than myself, i would not have arrived, still be arriving.

it's just selling cars, i would have thought. it's just a job. but life never stopped happening because a job wasn't glamorous or what you expected. life happens anyways. be there for it.

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XANDER
 Posted: Jun 6 2017, 10:31 AM
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so saturday is [was, at the time of posting this] the (now annual) summer party for the house! last year's theme was 'a midsummer night's dream'. this year's is 'alice in wonderland'. i am very excited! gonna be the cheshire cat! gonna play lawn games and drink and sing and dance, such fun! moreover, i have managed to convince quite a few of my coworkers to come, hooray! so even though typing this i feel a little... hesitant? down? (that weird depression thing where i know i should be happier and more excited but i'm just not, i guess? oh well!) i'm sure it will be fun!

of course this is just a lead-in for something that's bugging me!

i am starting to suspect that i am more perceptive than i give myself credit for, since i have a long history of not trusting my own impressions of the world. the impression of the world that i get has a tendency to be... 'harsh' is one word for it, but doesn't describe the deeper quality. the nature of my impressions often goes along the lines of 'shit that is so difficult and unpleasant and uncomfortable that most people can't bear to acknowledge it and continue to function as they do', which is why i am a real treat of a friend, ready to tear down your nice curtains and let in blinding first-degree burning sunlight. "the sun is good for you," i explain, as you writhe in pain and scramble behind the nearest couch. "improves circadian rhythms! provides vitamin D!" and then the person behind the couch makes a break for the curtains and slams them shut and either yells or gives me a very cool response, possibly a response that asserts 'there is no sun so don't open the curtains', and thus i have slowly convinced myself that i'm crazy, as opposed to what i really am - a very resilient asshole.

you remember the hot cheetos story? of course you do! and you remember the much more annoying analysis of it? i think the reason i peck these things out so meticulously is that i am trying to convince myself, and not so much you, reader. deep down, i sort of think i am crazy! i think i'm making it all up! that is why you watched as i obsessed over pseudo-imaginary blog smoke signals and promptly lost my shit when my suspicions were confirmed. deep down, i presumed i was Bullshit Lord Supreme. nope! right on the nose with that one!

so i invite everyone at work to my party, all fifteen of us, managers included. i suspected the managers weren't going to come, because somewhere between the casino trip and playing a role in having Worst Manager written up, manager-salespeople hangouts became a 'no-no'. but i ask my boss anyways! and it goes like this:

QUOTE
me: so can you come to my party?
boss: no, i can't
me: that's fine, i thought so
boss: but it doesn't change the way that i feel about you


now that - that! - is either some extremely poor wording, or i am ready to load myself into a rocket and launch myself into the sun.

...yeah, boss also listens to when i talk to other dudes on the phone (when i have to call corporate for loan underwriting questions) and implies that i am overly friendly and/or calls me a "suck-up", aka i am being nice to dues that aren't him. ready the fucking rocket.

Q: soooo why do you stay at this job again
A: $$$

Q: is it worth it
A: have you ever been poor

Q: is this all you have to deal with
A: ha, ha ha ha ha ha

Q: ...so why stay
A: because, maybe, not so secretly, this is what i'm used to
A: because it's a lot like staying in my toxic relationship
A: because i have learned where all the magic levers are and even if these weird, weird fukken dudes fall in love with me, or get weirdly emotional and defensive, or refuse to totally recognize my potential, i have learned to move them around the little game board that is my life and my job and that gives me control
A: so even if my staying exacts a cost from me and from them, i have money, and i have a sense of control, and the hair-raising unease that these and other comments raise is the loser in my cost-benefit analysis

Q: you're the real crazy, aren't you
A: like no one else

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XANDER
 Posted: Jun 16 2017, 12:37 PM
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had almost forgotten about the things i wanted to write about because the only time i want to blog are times when i can't blog and when i have time i have no ideas
  1. it is getting easier to not need to blog so much, which i take as a good sign! i initially began blogging prolifically because i was used to unburdening my stream of consciousness on my best friend/life partner, and i had to scream into this void to self-regulate. now i've found a variety of outlets, including just being able to rearrange my thoughts in my head, or talking to people, so, less screaming!

  2. i'm not sure if this counts as a... 'bad habit', but man, i am like, endlessly engaged in some sort of weird self-improvement contest with myself. to best understand this, imagine that i play my life like some kind of puzzle video game. on every level, i am trying to 'solve' a puzzle, or find a 'solution' to a question - questions like, 'what the hell do i do about my boss's weird feelings about me?' or 'what do i do about my pay cut?' or 'what's my next step with my physical fitness regimen?' i perceive that there are multiples 'parts' to every solution - i make behavioral adjustments, i work to shift my psychology, i write things down, i talk ideas through. every day, i'm trying to move the needle, just a little.

  3. this self-improvement contest makes me eerily distrustful of other people on some level! (but props to me, self-improvement poster child, for having the self-reflection to notice this about myself.) i do not perceive the same level of engagement in pretty much anyone else, or at the very least, an expression of engagement. WHY DO YOU KEEP DOING THE SAME DUMB THINGS? i think to myself. HAVE YOU NOT NOTICED THAT THEY ARE 1) THE SAME AND 2) DUMB? i realize that i am beating my dumb head against the wall when it comes to my job! i admit this! admitting it is the first step to understanding why i do it and what drives the wall beating, and, bit by bit, i can trick myself into changing.

    but it feels like people often cannot achieve this step 0 - noticing the 1) same and 2) dumb. why do i feel the same? they seem to ask. OH, I DON'T KNOW, BECAUSE YOU DO THE SAME. doing and feeling are connected! want to feel different? do different.

  4. this distrust is also probably linked to a distrust of myself. in spite of my powerful problem-solving drive, and a history of being able to solve problems, i do not actually have that much faith in myself. i am always waiting to find out that i have gotten it all wrong. i am waiting for an angel to come out of a cloud with a trumpet and blow it in my ear like, BITCH U WRONG. i cannot trust other people because i can't trust myself. i am a Special Blend of an inferiority and superiority complex. my inferiority is superior to yours! i am so messed up that i will win the Messed Up Olympics, and and then i will go on to compete in the Not Messed Up Olympics and WIN AT THAT TOO, then i will throw my medals into the sea like Rose at the end of Titanic.

  5. when people ask, 'how are you?' this is the actual answer. the actual answer is, 'i have been developing a long dialogue inside my head to justify my [temporary] credit card debt, also i've been tanning, also i've read 23 books so far this year, also i started listening to War and Peace on audiobook, and i've been trying to write on a daily basis more, and i have started meditating. how are you?'

    if you are thinking, 'what a great answer, if the answer is designed to convince someone to tell you nothing about what they are doing themselves', that's what i think too! so instead i go, 'not much!'

  6. still with girlfriend! that makes it five whole months! she has been very busy, even with grad school on summer break. she works way too much and barely sleeps (4-6 hours a night) and i nag her about sleeping more. i worry about being a nag, but man, she needs to sleep, for 1) the sake of her own health and 2) for the sake of being able to pay real attention to me. i know what high quality attention is! you are not going to be able to do intellectual zumba with me if you are cognitively devastated. on a bright note, my own fitness passions prompted her to purchase an annual gym membership, so i can hope that between my badgering and my love of squats that i can be some sort of positive influence.

  7. i worry about being an influence period, because that puts me a little too close to my dr. frankenstein tendencies, which (unless i am up against a superior dr. frankenstein, ala Ω) can make a relationship a lot less egalitarian! but, worrying doesn't really do much, so, guess i just have to live with being dr. frankenstein.

yeah, that's an update!

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XANDER
 Posted: Jun 29 2017, 01:27 AM
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ah gots myself dumped barbermonger, yes indeed i did! i am bummed but also i knew it was coming; i had detected the distancing and disconnection and i was none too pleased about the lack of engagement - i was just going to try and stick it out for a few months, give her time some to change. i was ready to change! i mentioned feeling more ready for physical intimacy and everything, but she was just... too busy working, a lot, and so it never felt like there was enough time/energy to move towards sex, and she just didn't seem interested the way she did when she first met me. le bummer, all around.

however, i was So Very Nice about it! she was crying on the phone and i was like, 'hey, it's okay, i know this is hard for you,' because she was all, 'i thought i was ready for a relationship and i'm just not,' and i couldn't even be mad. i couldn't do it! so i said something like 'i understand where you're coming from and i respect your decision and you're a great person and i wish you the best', though i also said something to the tune of, 'what you need to do [to be in a serious relationship] is change, but you might not be ready or willing to do that yet'. stern yet affectionate! i did not say one mean thing!

at the end of it, i was like, 'hey, i understand this as a friend, but as your ex-girlfriend i'm a little sad, so, maybe you can use the next month you're spending in korea to just relax, and we'll talk when you get back,' and she was like, 'okay'

yeah guess how long that lasted

did you get... 1 DAY????

YOU WIN

user posted image

and she is just like, 'i miss you, can we still talk?', and in my head i am like, 'have i managed to seriously perplex you by being a grown-up about a breakup', but of course i will say yes and maybe we can just carry on hanging out and chilling and i get to keep a friend!

also, work sucks, what's new

VACATION IN 2 DAYS

small edit: this quality quote from my ex

QUOTE
Morgan
It sounds like she had an idea about you that she liked and then when she actually got to know you, you weren't that
Pretty classic
You were probably just too much for her
Like I hate to say it but you probably shouldn't date normal people

Sasha
TELL ME ABOUT IT

Morgan
Like you don't need full on crazy
But like
Normal people will bore you and you will annoy them


a valuable lesson was learned

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XANDER
 Posted: Jul 18 2017, 12:54 AM
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i.

i had a conversation with my brother yesterday - a text message conversation, mind you, but a conversation nonetheless. my adult relationship with my brother has mostly been marked with distance and confusion: once i was old enough to go to college, i fled to the furthest point in the state, and kept to myself and my own business, away from our parents; throughout childhood, i had been the 'weird' sister, the strange child, where my brother has managed some streak of athleticism until middle school, when he discovered video games. who am i to him? i thought to myself - or more accurately, i felt to myself, without ever going so far as to articulate this feeling. who am i to him? as my parents' marriage fell apart, and i refused to involve myself, my brother's opinion of me graded into anger and contempt. when he failed out of college and i carried on, he accused both of my parents of helping me and not him, though we had near identical scholarships.

two years ago, when my dad paid for us to go to vegas for my twenty-fifth birthday, he laid into me - i was the favorite child of the wealthier parent, and what had i done to earn it? i had always argued, fought, criticized my parents, while my brother had withdrawn, gone along to get along - and which one of us got to have their birthday in las vegas? i didn't know what to say. it was just another moment of not knowing what to say, in a long list of those moments. the next year, we went to colorado. while we were out hiking, he told me that he hadn't failed out of college because he was partying - that was the story, as far as i knew - but because he was depressed, because he was crying in his shower. our parents' marriage had meant that much to him. now he was tired of pretending - that was the truth, and i was going to hear it. he was twenty-three. i couldn't imagine another man, much less one who was only twenty-three, stating his own sadness so directly and plainly.

it occurred to me, very dimly - so very, very dimly - that, perhaps, i was not simply some alien who shared a last name with this other human. the idea flickered like a bad light bulb. but wasn't i nothing and no one to this person? hadn't we been so different, for so long? what did i have to offer? i wasn't certain, but perhaps i had something. i didn't know what that something was, but i could look for it, find it, or make it up. after that vacation, i tried to talk to him, by texting or calling. we had the variations on the same conversation, over and over and over - are you still living with dad? still in school? still at that part time job? yeah, i know he's terrible to live with, but you have to finish school... and so it went, the same pat advice, going nowhere.

i texted him yesterday, and the beginning of the same conversation started. still in school? but you have to finish, to get a better job. 'thanks,' he texted sarcastically, 'for telling me the same thing dad tells me every day.' my fingers were poised to jot back, 'but it's true.' i paused. maybe it was true, but what else was true? what else was there? and so instead i fired off a barrage of words about how yes, now we lived in a world that demanded bachelor's degrees for no apparent reason, even jobs at starbucks, how we're designed to take on terrible student debt to live with forever, how it's all terrible and how that's still the way it is, so what's to be done? and instead of responding with 'weird' and nothing else - what i expected, honestly, in my heart - my brother talked back to me. he talked more about what he specifically wanted to do, and i talked about being afraid of working for myself, how i'm always afraid i'll end up broke and homeless, and he pointed out how i somehow managed to move across the country anyways. i laughed and told him i only did it because i was paid to.

today i texted him again, in the morning, with this link, saying, i'm going to share things that i read with you so we can talk about them. he responded, 'are you ready for a racist sexist opinion like mine?' i told him he wasn't that bad - and the truth is, he's not, hasn't been for some time - at some point, his sarcasm started to give in to sensitivity and empathy. and even if that's true - even if it is, i thought, after telling him that i too was once very sarcastic - am i not my brother's keeper? who am i, if i can preach so easily to strangers, but not persuade my own flesh and blood? who am i?

later in the day, he texted and asked me for book recommendations. book recommendations! when in my life had my brother ever asked me for book recommendations, though i've spent my life with my nose in a book? so i asked if he wanted fiction or non-fiction, and he said non-fiction, so i recommended this and this and this, and i thought, maybe we have more in common than i thought. and maybe if we hadn't before - maybe he's changing. maybe i can change too.

ii.

i thought again about Ω today. she doesn't come into my thoughts as much, so it's been easy to refrain from writing about her. it also helps that she's pulled up her stakes across the internet, that i can't find traces of her, any signs of life - i have nothing to ruminate on. but today i thought about her again. my thought went something like this:

QUOTE
remember when--
    her: you're the one holding me back and you'll never change
    me: oH yEaH?!?!?!
    me: WATCH THIS
    me: [gets therapist]
    me: [goes to the gym more]
    me: [saves a bunch of money]
    me: [reads more books]
    me: [writes by myself]
    me: I KNOW YOU CAN SEE ME
    me: wHaT nOw????


this thought has gratified me when i have felt especially bitter about Ω not talking to me. now, it seems almost silly. what victory had i won? a victory for myself, yes, in the sense that i suddenly got out of my own way - i began making a legitimate, heartfelt effort to become the person i said i wanted to be, instead of just talking about that person. but a victory over her? in what way? in that i'd always had a stronger social safety net to pull from? in that i had more education to fall back on? in that i had, deep down, always been the stronger of us two? she had pizzazz, she had technical skill, she had originality - but i had dumb, dogged, ungodly persistence.

i've been reading the neapolitan novels by elena ferrante, and the relationship between lenu and lila rings agonizingly true to me. from some angles i am lenu, terribly jealous of my brilliant friend, whose passions and intellect are sharper than mine, to whom things come so easily, my friend who is so much more beautiful and everyone can see it. then sometimes i am lina, my brilliance cutting down my friend, even though i love her, even though i've threatened to burn the world down for her - my brilliance cutting myself down, too, in time. i could never explain to anyone how i felt in Ω's shadow - how it was, at once, an enchanted place to be, how inferiority was a small price to pay to live in the magic of her passions, her creativity, and how ugly i felt at the same time, ugly and awkward and bumbling. i remember when i met her, and i had to look up some of the words she was using. understanding her was a privilege i guarded jealously, but at the same time, i was always in competition with her - and often the loser, i felt.

what i wanted - a want that crystallized in her leaving - was to beat her, to show that i was at least her equal, if not her better. the magic shadow, and my own terrible insecurity, had poisoned me. i wonder now if she did not secretly feel the same. i wonder if we were not, at the end, both terribly afraid and jealous of one another. we were crushed by our own pettiness.

i love her still. i laugh now, at thinking this love would fade. no, no, i don't think so - it's not that kind of thing, the love you hold for someone else to make yourself feel better, a warm blanket on a cold night. it doesn't make me feel better all the time - sometimes, it just irritates me. i used to ask her, how can i ever be with anyone else? how can i ever love anyone as much as i love you? she couldn't answer me. she doesn't have to; nobody does. there's enough kinds of love in the world, enough kinds of warm blankets, that i don't need to replicate this one. i simply move through the world marveling at such a feeling, at the shadow carried inside me, the enchantment that lives on. the best i can do is drain the poison away from that love, and forgive us both our foolishness, and change, so history need not repeat itself.

iii.

when my now ex-girlfriend told me she was in love with me, i didn't believe her. of course i didn't believe her - that would have been foolish, i told my therapist at the time, that would have been nonsense. my friends seemed to believe this was a normal thing, four or five months into dating, and i sounded very cynical indeed to disagree. she told me she wanted to become the kind of person that could be there for me - but a month and a half later, when i told her that person needed to sleep more, learn to say 'no', and engage in conversation, she decided she couldn't become that person. she cried. i didn't.

when i met her, and she did engage, and she did listen, she felt like home. Ω was a good listener - one of the best - and she ruined me with her listening. i compare all listening and all conversation to that level of attentiveness and engagement; i can tell when someone is waiting for their turn to talk, or wants a topic to end, versus genuine interest. my ex-girlfriend displayed the glimmer of this skill. she had what i could call the knack. it was not yet totally developed, but then again, Ω's skill also doubled as a shield, a force field - it had been honed in combat. i forgave the naivety of my ex, given she had clearly never seen any combat ever.

she went a day without talking to me before being too sad about it to maintain it. can we still be friends? i think i threw her off, both through my forgiveness and pleasantness throughout the actual breakup, and because i had not tried to fight her at all, made no efforts to persuade her not to dump me. so she has messaged me almost every other day from korea, talking about her day, if she's getting sick, on and on. we played 'dead things bingo', a game invented for beach hiking, where dead things tend to wash up. i sent her half of a lobster. she sent me a starfish. sometimes she sends me pictures of bugs - 'this cool bug made me think of you.' i can't quite tell if this is what friendship is like, or if it is like we never broke up.

sometimes i lie awake and worry about what i call my 'dr. frankenstein' tendencies. i can't help but meddle with everything, people's minds especially. i have exerted my influence at my job until i'm relatively left alone to read and wander off. i escorted my mom to AA meetings, and sent her self-help books. i have gotten my dad to admit to being abusive. i am the self-appointed armchair therapist of all of my friends, happy to listen to problems and struggles and anxieties, pouring forth an endless stream of reassurances and suggestions and sometimes outright nagging. at my best i am compassionate; at my worst, i am confrontational. no matter my style, i radiate the force of my personality. the world bends.

i think i could change my ex-girlfriend. i don't think she's ready to learn to say 'no' or take care of herself - that's why she broke up with me - but one day, she might be. one day, she might be more willing to carefully interrogate her grad school major, or if she wants to marry someone just to please her parents. that day might come sooner or later, but i might be able to make it happen a little sooner.

i think i've wasted enough time bemoaning who i am. if i'm dr. frankenstein, i'm dr. frankenstein. there's no one else i can be; no matter where i go, no matter what i do, there i am. if it is my nature to change people, or befriend them at random, or eat any and all of their leftovers abandoned to the fridge, that is, at present, my nature. i can only aim to be the best dr. frankenstein.

every day is a new chance to change. we're all changing, aren't we?

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XANDER
 Posted: Aug 16 2017, 03:17 PM
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yeahhhh buddy when you go a whole month without updating the blog

here's some things that i've done/am doing:
  1. dating! have been on a whole like, 6 dates with one dude, which, for me, is a miracle. when i tell my coworkers they are confused and shocked. me too! he is a democratic socialist, a third year med student, and we both shook our angry fists at peter thiel and mourned gawker. also we both like cersei on game of thrones. i like him!

  2. my amazon wishlist on my online dating profile is back, which means i am back to getting random free shit. i love random free shit! i have collected on at least $700 worth of free shit. more on this in a moment.

  3. i almost broke up with my therapist, debbie, again. she had canceled on me too many times, and this time, when she did it, i was basically like, 'that is it debbie! you have a canceling problem, and i'm not dealing with it anymore.' she argued with me about it, but refused to try and change. the next week i asked for my copy of my patient record, and when she tried to tell me no, i cited california law at her and she freaked out. no one is safe from me! i fight incompetence wherever i find it!

    so i went to what was going to be my last meeting, and i was very congenial, and halfway through she asks, 'so.... is this going to be your last meeting?' and i'm like, 'well, debbie, is it?' and she proceeds to tell me that after i shoved my foot up her ass she went to her doctor and got back on an anti-depressant, went through her patient logs and realized how much she was canceling (and how much progress i had made), and thought about how maybe other clients may have dropped her because of this behavior. 'you were right and i was wrong, and i'm sorry', she said, in those words. there's nothing that i love like a good apology, so i was like, 'okay debbie, i'll stay.' and thus debbie was very pleased, and i was reminded, yet again, that i live in a topsy turvy word. more on this in a moment.

  4. i have been meditating! 45 minutes a day, 6 days a week! i'm on my 5th week of an 8 week program right now, but i think i'm just gonna.... do it.... forever. meditating is good stuff, i like it.


on random free shit:
    i think i have managed to build an entire lifestyle/philosophy around basically being cradled in the arms of the universe / random happenstance / other people. my whole life is a long string of luck, good and bad, where i either escape disaster or manage to learn something and recover brilliantly from said disaster. somehow, i manage to find myself in the company of people who do take pretty good care of me, who put up with my shit in spite of the many warnings of the world that people will not put up with your shit. sometimes i am very confused by this luck, because i believe i have what you could call an 'arrested development of trust' - i grew up learning that i had to take care of other people, and that i couldn't protect myself. now i'm realizing that i can care about people without having to take care of them, and that i can protect myself, and that i can accept being cared about.

on the topsy-turvy world:
    there was a part of me that wanted to be like a little baby, and to be totally taken care of by someone else without any responsibility for myself. i wanted to be engulfed by someone else's attention and love, because it meant i was taken care of, but also i could focus on that person, and that engulfment. for years i have kept turning towards 'authority' figures for 'answers', for understanding of how to behave, why i should behave that way, how life and the world is supposed to work. what i kept learning, over and over, was how much i really knew.

    there were gaps in my knowledge, of course - i had (and still have) behaviors and patterns that are maladaptive, i'm still working on being compassionate and thoughtful while balancing that with honesty, i'm still learning the best ways to act in line with what i really value. but beneath it all - beneath even the very worst thoughts and beliefs about myself - was the deepest belief of all, the belief and faith in change - that there is always power to learn, to grow, and to change, and that change is good, and we do not lose ourselves by giving up parts of ourselves - our beliefs, our fears, our resentments. we become more ourselves.

summer is coming to an end, but how about a playlist?

A Long, Hot Summer Without You
QUOTE
1. "Tijuana Sunrise" - Goldfinger
2. "Wait" - NoMBe
3. "Chalk" - Blanco White
4. "All I Can Do" - Bad Royale, Silver
5. "Golden Years - OLWIK Remix" - Dia Frampton
6. "Lifelife" - Melvv, Dana Williams
7. "Cross My Mind" - A R I Z O N A
8. "Cycles" - Methal, X Ambassadors
9. "Hope For Something" - Panama
10. "Souvenirs" - Cardiknox
11. "Bet On You" - The Man Who


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XANDER
 Posted: Sep 21 2017, 11:19 PM
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i don't want to write this, is where i have to start. i don't want to write this. to write this down is to make it real, to distill these moments and harden them in resin. if i write them i am admitting them and somehow - somehow! - it has been so much easier to admit pain, to pour it out of me, to let myself bleed and bleed until i felt there was nothing left. now, things are different.

i got a new job. it's a simple sentence, isn't it? but it wasn't a simple thing. it was familiar to suffer; it was a home, it was a way of living, of settling into horror and a joke and sneering at people from beneath them. i sell used cars, i would say, and i would bare my teeth and laugh. i learned to laugh at that job. i learned that there was no job, no title, no handful of words or checklist of duties that could stop me or contain me. failure after failure failed to crush me. i cried and i cried and i curled my fists and i said, i will get through this.

but sooner or later you owe it to yourself to stop getting through shit. sooner or later, you need to address the root causes of your problems. sooner or later, you have to change, if you ever hope to be more than you are, if you want to be happy. i say it so many times these days, to so many people 'i just want you to be happy.' and i mean it. but what do my words mean if i cannot take responsibility for my own happiness?

user posted image

that was the kicker, in the end. when i went on vacation in july, i said, this is enough. and i was afraid. i had fallen into my first two post-university jobs; this is only my third. did i know anything about writing a resume, or job hunting? did i feel anything besides afraid and hateful? did i even know hope? i can't say 'yes' to any of these questions without telling at least half a lie. the hope i had was really the saving grace that has carried me through life: that everything is just a numbers game, that if you can keep living for one more day, you can roll the dice again, over, and over, and over, and if you keep rolling, your numbers will come up. so i rolled. and i rolled. and i rolled.

the job i have now, i interviewed for on my birthday. i thought to myself, if this is what the universe wants, it will happen. i turned down the initial offer at the first office, because i decided the drive was too long. i said, 'call me back if you have any closer openings.' and two weeks later, they did.

when the world ends and starts over, you wait for the parade. i did it! i did it! i had done it, you know - haven't i done it all? haven't i moved across the country, lost my longest and closest relationship, found myself, found a new job? i have forged my happiness with my two broken hands. i still return to that forge every day, hammering it out, digging deeper, deeper, deeper still. i turn to my own history, i relive my childhood, i read, i meditate, i reach. i drag out what i find and i bring it to the forge.

but there is no parade. there are no trumpets. there is no holiday. there is no holiday. there is only the next day at the forge. there is only me, standing on top of one mountain, and turning, to look to the next mountain. as i climb, i wonder, when will i rest? when will there be time to rest? and i know that there is no rest for me, there is no reprieve - there is only living brightly, burning like a star until i blow out.

my new job is a good job. there are people who have been there for five, ten, fifteen years. i could stop now, bank my money, live well, be content. and yet, i am afraid. i am afraid of the truth, the truth that lives in me, that this is just another piece the universe is moving across the board. you owe a promise. and i am afraid of that promise, a promise that, i feel, is to write, because to write means to say that i will try, that i will dare, that i will do the thing i've been doing for the better part of my life, the thing that is my life and my love, even as i fear it. it's easier to do nothing. it's easier to not chase that dream. i busy my hands at the forge, and they are too blackened and gnarled at day's end to pick up a pen.

don't i want to go and travel? but can i? i still can only measure my life in months. i still mark the months not by the 1st, but by the 6th. today, it has been 1 year and and 10 months. can i imagine a life 10 months from now, in europe, in east asia, me and a backpack and a notebook, me and all my fears? it is no longer a question of money. it is simply a question of will and logistics. it is simply a question of determination.

i told my therapist i finally understand why it annoyed me, the ways and reasons people said they loved, the ways they said 'i love you'. what i have felt is beyond that, i told her. they stand on hills and call them mountains, and i have come from the mountains. will i stand on hills and call them mountains too?

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XANDER
 Posted: Oct 11 2017, 07:53 PM
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tiefling bard
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rule number one is to not look back.

now, there's the kind of looking back that most people do, that we all indulge in - the kind of remembering where we take our current impressions and a few shreds of history and we blend them all together, and we call this remembering. scientists say that memory isn't hard-wired, that we are recreating it each time, re-adapting the narrative arcs, reframing the scenes and switching the camera angles, editing the dialogue, so we can tell the story that fits. this is the unreal remembering, and it can hurt you - but it can only hurt you so much.

i do not go back and read my writing logs very much anymore, and by 'anymore' i means 'for months at a time'. i have almost everything i ever wrote with Ω, saved in searchable hmtl files. i think about my old writing, and i recall it in the style mentioned above, but i do not reread it. this is not because i do not miss it. it is because it is the truly terrifying sort of remembering, the remembering that exists irrespective of the stories we tell ourselves. my writing is unchanged. the words were typed, the messages sent. even as i forget how i feel, the words remain. the stories remain. the truths within those stories are frightening, as immortal monsters are.

i looked today, i confess, after i heard that aim was being discontinued. i'm afraid this will render my logs unsearchable. i logged on, and i couldn't resist looking for one particular scene, couldn't help myself. i should have helped myself. i knew it as i searched for 'rose' - narrow, but not narrow enough - and then switched to 'moonlight'. yes, that one. this was no stroll down memory lane. this was the direct plunge into the rabbit hole.

any habit that is pathologically employed to avoid or numb pain is an addiction. reader, i cannot stress how much of an effect one scene alone had on me, years later. there is first the intellectual pleasure of reading something clever, but then there is the resonance that still lives in these exchanges, the harmony, and it is a warm, humming pleasure that diffuses through my body before transporting me almost out of it, like a little hiccup of vertigo. the frustrations of my day really do melt away into this kind of warm forgetfulness and detachment. life itself does not need to be real, because these words, these moments, are supra-real, transcendent of the real. the point of living is to waste time between episodes of accessing this alternate dimension. i remember.

i have written this sort of thing with an old friend since then. it has been engrossing, and there was a similar feeling at one point, somewhere in an eight-hour on-off writing spree that stretched out through my work day. it was its own bender, typing (doing) line after line, churning out words, creating another alternate world. i felt a little guilty about it at the time, knowing well enough this is what got you into trouble before, and yet i was curious, curious about that old feeling. but it is not the same. it is like doing a more diluted, messier form of a drug, one that you've had in its purest form. there's a rush there, sure, but it's not the way it was. it is not the true portal of the unreal, passing through to the supra-real.

and how troubling the real is! how troubled i am indeed, aimlessly frustrated - at memories i've recovered, at nightmares i've had, at friends with poor philosophies, with myself. is this all there is? i ask myself, turning around in a circle. is this all there is? do i wake up and go to my job and come home bored and tired, to wake up and do it all again the next day? and how grateful everyone around me is to do this! they watch their TV shows and buy new cars and shoes and have their husbands and their kids and they are happy, and i don't begrudge them that happiness so much as i find it so alien, so inaccessible, so far away from the deranged hunger i feel inside me.

did you know that in a month it will have been two years? two years? it feels like an eternity has passed, and yet no time at all - no time at all has passed when i can crack open my writing logs and it's 2013, 2014, 2015. the world ended on november 5th, 2015. there are no more logs after that. the world ends. the clocks all stop. the logs record nothing. in those two years, i feel like i have, at least, something to show for it - books and trips and stories and hard, hard work. what a phrase that is, something to show - it implies showing someone. and some part of me feels that even if she didn't change - if Ω hasn't changed at all - it wouldn't even matter, because i changed, because now i understand, and it's enough to raise your voice and to hear someone's else voice harmonize with yours, in the barren and cruel wasteland of a modern life, brimming with material plenty and cruelty.

sometimes what i want is a way out of pain. when i want that, i go work out, or i sleep early, or i meditate. i quit caffeine again, so i can sleep more and better. but sometimes i get stuck here, sitting with my pain, sitting across from it at my dinner table, banging my silverware and gnashing my teeth. how rude you are to guests!, my pain tells me, especially after you went through so much trouble to invite me.

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