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 lifeblog, shady life choices + introspection
XANDER
 Posted: Nov 18 2016, 12:25 PM
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every 3-6 months i try to go just a little blonder

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one day i will fully pull off the electra heart look, maybe, though i doubt i will ever get my hair this big

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XANDER
 Posted: Dec 2 2016, 08:21 PM
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QUOTE
LOS ANGELES - Citing as-of-yet unverified 'wizard powers', local bullshit artist Xander avoided yet another batch of serious consequences for her latest questionable decision. Xander, 26, shrugged off the incident with a high-pitched cackle, confessing, "I just can't believe this keeps happening!" After a poorly underwritten car loan exploded into an internal customer service scandal, corporate watchdogs turned on Xander to question whether she was fit to hold her position, or any position at all. Contrary to expectations, she was let off with only a verbal warning.

"Everyone is created equal," cubicle neighbor TZ explained. "And then some people are just... special," he added, reportedly tapping his temple several times. "Xander is special. She reminds me every day when she slaps her Word of the Day calendar against our clear dividing wall."

Insiders claim that their 'local wizard' has a history of troubled behavior, including tearful outbursts and inconsistent sales performance. In contrast to her lack of corporate manageability, Xander leads the team in categories such as 'decorating [her] desk' and 'undeterred extroversion'. "She's fun," one manager explained. "Sometimes you zone out when she starts talking to you about the random obscure stuff she likes, but she's fun."

While he wouldn't speak to us on record, a member of upper management confided to us that he has been "trying to get [Xander] to like me for a while." "I know she thinks I'm a jerk," our source stated. "And I am a jerk, and I was a jerk to her, but it's really important that Xander believes I'm not a jerk now. If that means she gets ridiculously special treatment that undermines her accountability and convinces her she's a unicorn, well, you break eggs to make an omelet."

At press time, Xander could be found playing Skyrim and shrieking gleefully into a paper bag. When asked about her plans for the future, she could only say, "I'm just so happy I'm not fired" before she continued to escape reality as the Dragonborn.
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XANDER
 Posted: Dec 7 2016, 04:27 PM
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my 40-year-old coworker comes up to me yesterday with her phone and is like, "i saw this on facebook and thought of you" and she whips this out

user posted image

"this was you when hillary lost"

and i'm thinking, this is me every day

and i'm like, "i am so happy you saw this and thought of me and had to show me," understanding it was a multi-step process for her to figure out how to bookmark this specific image on facebook and then remember to show it to me. part of me realizes i may have proclaimed that i am dead inside with an uncanny frequency and that people might actually listen to me.

*

do you wake up and wonder who you are, barbermonger? do you wonder if you're real, and if so, what then? sometimes i feel trapped in a tailspin of my own insignificance, which is both crippling and humbling - and it is good to be humbled, to get down on the ground and remember you are of the earth. it helps to remember that millions of people have already lived and died, many imprisoned by the same conviction that i struggle with, the fear and feeling of being the center of the living universe, of dying without a legacy, of existing without any impact. it is the poison of ambition and youth, i suppose.

i suppose the ~*wackiness*~ of this feeling is underscored by how 2016 has generally been a year of me Getting My Shit Together.

user posted image

i became financially stable! i kept going to the gym! i'm opening a business! i wrote 30k for nano! i've read 33 books so far! i've been in therapy for 9 months! the truth to it all - and this is an ugly truth - but i was just as motivated by desperation and vengeance as i was by a hunger to see who i could be. my transformation was, in part, punitive - the revenge diet on steroids. i've mentioned it elsewhere here as wanting to prove i was a 'worthy investment' after all, and that was part of it, but really, i wanted to put both middle fingers up. my becoming would make the doubting thomas kneel, and fill their heart with pain and regret - the pain i had suffered at their hands.

this is a pattern i engage in - nothing motivates me quite like wanting to punch a motherfucker in the face. because no one takes me down a peg! no one! ever! i have a borderline psychotic willingness to bend myself into backbreaking shapes to prove a person wrong, if that person captures my attention. if you want a metaphor for this, it is a lot like a how a snake can unhinge its jaw to eat things a lot bigger than its head! i will unhinge the jaw of my soul to EAT identity-threatening antagonism. time and effort are no object: i will get you. i'm fucking patient.

now i sit here, almost the end of the year, in a funky sort of bind. all this stuff i've done - all that i've learned, all that i drove myself to do - it changed me. i couldn't go back to the way i lived, could i? it's become inaccessible to me, like atlantis sinking into the sea. and yet the underlying drive is a legacy of that city, coexisting uneasily with the new drive of self-love. what if i did good things for myself because i loved myself? what if i acted out of love for myself, instead of spite for someone else? could i begin to conceive of a life where i didn't unconsciously seek to destroy myself, in one way or another?

i am terrified of all kinds of oblivion, from losing my job to bankruptcy to dramatic medical illnesses to social collapse to the deaths of my loved ones. i live with these terrors relatively peacefully, but they are easily accessible to me, just an idle fancy away. part of my terror is that i fear i will do them to myself, that the self-loathing inside will break free and sink me into darkness.

it's enough to live, a voice inside of me sighs. it is enough to live, and love, and be. i don't have to be the president, or a best-selling author, or a spiritual guru, or a full-time travel blogger, or a start-up CEO. i don't need titles, or wealth, or glory. just be here. here - the fullness of 'here', the NOW. can i liberate myself of the hunger for revenge? can i - can i forgive myself for seeking it? am i able to reassure myself that it is an unnecessary measure, that the scales of the universe - so much more than two scales, a hundred scales on criss-crossing axes, bound by different gravitational laws - balance on their own?

what if you could allow yourself to be?

*

fukken google businesses is making me mail a post card to myself to verify that i'm real. I ALREADY HAVE PROBLEMS BEING REAL GOOGLE, DON'T BULLY ME
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XANDER
 Posted: Dec 18 2016, 04:56 PM
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it's cold again now. it's cold like it was last year, only last year i was shivering in an icy hole of misery. it's a wild feeling, to feel that cold and remember that place, but now my thoughts wander more towards my savings account and my travel plans, as opposed to how the fuck i am going to crawl out of the icy hole.

the pain has eased now, though it is not gone. the pain comes from a very deep place, from the bowels of history, and i can only slowly chip away at it, towards it. i must unearth it delicately, then transport it, then melt it away, reforge it into good and beautiful things, into strength and love. it is good to know that this pain was not all your fault. it is good to understand that your central purpose was to distract me from this unbearable pain. driving home from work, along familiar roads, in familiar weather, allows me to compare my past state with a current one, and i am delighted to note that i am... at least as comfortable as i was with you. 'happy' is not the right word, for we were often unhappy.

i decided this was best explained with a bar graph (neeeeerd.)

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we begin at set 1: where i was in this great, enormous pain for so long - pain so constant that i didn't have words for it, because i had always felt it. the chart denotes a 'zero', but my zero was far to the left, and it took even more dramatic skews for me to notice it. furthermore, your company numbed that pain, and so i thought - i thought! - i was only a little unhappy.

we transition to set 2: you leave. now, not only is there added pain, as seen in yellow, but i experience all the pain that i had managed to escape. i do what i can to distract myself, to continue numbing, to drown myself in work and romantic fantasies and writing, and various other hiccups of self-destruction. it is breathtaking to experience so much pain. every day is like carving a tick mark in the stone wall of the prison of time.

we arrive at the present: i have come a long ways in easing my own suffering. i have begun to deconstruct it. given how much work there is to do, i am still unhappy sometimes. i am incomplete and uncomfortable. i am lonely and defensive. i am lazy and bored. but i am better.

i suppose the point i'm getting at is that it almost feels like you're here - it almost feels like you're back, maybe because i'm back. but this time, instead of running from pain, i have confronted it, and resolved it. slowly, i am bringing an end to pain. there will always be ups and down in life - thrills and disappointments, sorrows and joys - but i am mending my broken bones. i am trying to move through the world in a way that the lava of anger does not seep from the cracks of my broken heart.

*

i keep promising i'm not going to write about you. i guess it is not a promise i'm really ready to keep. i suppose i will keep it, one day, when i have finally drained every remaining resource of its meaning, when i have churned out enough algorithmic analysis and reduced you, at last, to a handful of variables. i thought that was impossible, but i am closer to it every day.

the trick to it all is allowing opposing feelings to coexist - love and resentment, affection and rage, joy and pain. i bear witness to each of them in turn, to everything between my passionate hopes and simmering anger. i give them all the right to live, to be as they are within me. i hold them. perhaps i return to you the same way i go to the gym, week after week. perhaps i pick you up the way someone who self-harms picks up a knife. maybe it's both. with every deep breath, with every exhale of forgiveness, i feel a little quieter inside.

i desperately want to believe you are happy, even if that means you don't feel guilty, like i believe you should. i want to believe that behind the wall you built between us, you have found freedom. but you're back to littering, and i'm back to picking up your garbage and puzzling over it, though without the same pathos as before. what is most puzzling is that your garbage mostly evokes despair, and i feel you'd derive a greater pleasure from faking happiness and pelting it at me. but no, no, you are a dead-end job and two-star book reviews and sad songs. you are a a stiff, almost-quivering lip. you are a fake smile that doesn't reach the eyes.

if it's this hard to watch you from a distance, it would probably be worse up close.

the truth - or the truth, as i suspect it - is that you will never find freedom without redemption. the truth is that self-discovery will demand you reflect on the choices you've made, and that almost a decade of those decisions position me as a character in the foreground. if we can't remember our mistakes, we can't learn. we can't get better.

standing between you and the best self you can be is the apology you owe me. will you settle for mediocrity?

*

it's almost christmas. i love christmas.

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XANDER
 Posted: Dec 24 2016, 11:03 PM
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every once in a while someone tells you something about yourself that tears the veil of your own illusions. when this moment happens upon you, you are confronted very suddenly with an embarrassing view, as if you have happened upon yourself on the toilet, or asleep with your mouth open, hair askew, drooling on your pillow. you recognize yourself clearly; you wish you hadn't. you wish this you had been left alone, to finish their business and have some time to make themselves presentable. you hastily move to repair the veil and reclaim your dignity. you hope everyone, including yourself, forgets about that moment.

but it is hard, if not impossible, to forget. I learn towards the 'impossible' side, for reasons you may have already guessed, but I will elucidate anyways.

"i'm fearful of the future," I told my general manager, one afternoon. I said it casually, unthinkingly, staring out at the parking lot from the sales floor. "that's why I don't like to make promises over the phone. i'm afraid of what could happen."

"aren't you an optimist?" he shot back.

"of course," I answered.

"no," he said, "you're not," and off he went, back to his office, unaware that he'd grabbed a fistful of veil and yanked.

not an optimist? how could they be? of course I was an optimist - look at how I managed to get out of bed every day! look at how my life had so often been pulled beneath the waves, the hungry ocean clawing at my battered boat! look at how I repaired it, at how I swam! how was I not an optimist?

but I saw myself in that moment, in those three syllables. I saw, that as patient and persistent as I am, as much as I am animated by boundless enthusiasm, I barely believe in the future at all.

*

I suppose I haven't thought that hard about that phrase - 'fearful of the future'. even saying it, it didn't quite feel right. the word that rings hollow is the last word, 'future'. future? what future? what is the future?

I thought I had ideas about the future - ideas about ambition, importance, power. I imagined being some political savant, some leader, some ambassador - somebody, I wasn't particularly fussy on who. but on further examination, I realized that these were fantasies, not dreams. they were illusions, comforts, inventions, an escape - I never truly believed them. I had no real faith I could ever become someone like that. I always arrived at these black-tie parties fully formed, a brand new person on the balcony of a castle, without any thought to the staircases i'd need to climb to get there.

later - much, much later - Ω would fuss over selling our writing somehow, setting up a patreon or paypal account to advance ourselves in the literary world. aside from practical objections (how to tier rewards, how to rank them), Ω was asking me to conceive of this barely real thing, the future, a future beyond today-tomorrow-next week-next month. she was imagining whole years. i knew how to talk about the future; i knew how to sound like i knew what it was. but i did not feel it. i dragged my feet and fussed over the details until the whole proposal collapsed in on itself. offered the staircase, i rejected it.

concurrently, i argued that i conceived of a future for us - me and her, her and me - but this too was fantasy. i had simply copied the template of yesterday-today-tomorrow-next week-next month and pasted it over and over and over across time, with a few tweaks for realism - insert purchase of house here, insert job promotion here. somehow, we arrived together in a shared domicile with mutual financial stability, well-adjusted and content. how we got there, i could not say.

but i called it 'the future' anyways.

*

at this point, you are probably a little nervous, even confused. isn't hope for the future how people wake up every day? how do you live without it? if there is no hope for the future, isn't the default state debilitating depression?

i suppose i have become well-adjusted at ignoring my own feelings and acting against them. there was a time when my feelings shouted me down; when i was a child, i was liable to burst into tears at slight provocations. when crying did not deliver me from evil, i swore it off all at once, at the age of eleven. i made the deliberate, terrifying decision to no longer express or respond to certain inconvenient emotions. when i failed to maintain this steely, robotic façade, i burned with shame and disappointment. i worked harder. i became colder.

by the time i made it to college, i had a vague sense of what was expected of me, who other people wanted me to be. these expectations had to be met, no matter what. i had to stay below a certain weight. i had to make certain grades. i had to maintain an affectation for ambition and glamor, even if my lifestyle did not necessarily align with my espoused tastes. social isolation, hospitalization, deteriorated mental health, family turmoil - none of these excused me from expectations. i felt one way, and acted another. to me, this was perfectly normal. it was better to maintain the image than feel the truth.

the years rolled on. i no longer believed i had any right to act certain ways, to feel certain things. i was endlessly manipulated for feeling anger and resentment, pressured to be the kind of 'better person' who didn't feel these things at all. i distracted myself with books, television shows, writing, video games, my classes, and work, looking anywhere but inside myself. i graduated college quite successfully, with no student debt. i convinced my audience that the future was bright.

but it was a lie, and a lie i could no longer maintain. the future was not bright, because the future did not exist.

*

the deception i had wrought upon others was great, but upon myself, it was the greatest. i scrambled to understand why i had not been magically transported to graduate or law school with full scholarships. i grappled with my resume, bare of any meaningful internships. i wanted to know my place in the world; i wanted to go to sleep and wake up there. but i could not so much as lift my arms to reach for these grand ideals. exhausted by the failures in my relationships and choosing a career, i folded myself up and became small. in small, and then bigger ways, i tried to destroy myself.

i came very close, but i did not die. i was terrified, and grateful to be alive. in a rush of gratitude, i promised the universe that i didn't need to know my future anymore, that i could accept a life without one. this was... survival, but it was not quite progress.

it was, in fact, the breeding ground for stagnation. my new vow allowed me to become comfortable with a calendar that only extended two or three months into the future - anything further would only cause me to fret. a big life is difficult to plan with only three months on a calendar, if not impossible. a future - a real, long, glorious future - barely exists. imagine you can only see so far in front of you, before being confronted by a wall of impenetrable fog - that was how life seemed to me. but that was fine, because now i felt justified in my loop of books/television/writing/video games/work. it was enough to not die.

besides, the future was uncertain. life was hard enough without more uncertainty.

*

then, against all odds, the universe moved in my favor. it worked within my three months calendar to repair the most broken of my family's bones, to move me across the country, to dare me to unfold my small self. it pushed me to extend that calendar to four months, six months, eight months. as i unfolded, the anger and resentment i had hidden away emerged; my conflicts with Ω came to a head, and she left me. my calendar grew to one year.

though i did not know what to do with these new, blank months, i threw myself into new activities with verve. i made lists and checked boxes off. i went new places, i met new people. i took pictures of myself in the new places, with the new people, creating a new history, a new image of myself. i looked at my new image and i said, "isn't this happy? if this is my present, my future must be bright! i must be an optimist!"

"no, you're not," my general manager said, and he was right. i am afraid of my life coming apart at any moment. i am afraid of failing my own rising expectations. when conflict arises, i immediately fear for the worst - for example, the threat of a bad review from my yoga instructor led me to conclude i would never be able to get a good job for the rest of my life, since the review included my real name. i fear demotion and being fired at my job, though i still have no formal write-ups, in almost three years of employment.

sometimes, people pay me particularly touching compliments. a specialist from one of the corporate departments emailed me to ask how i was, and told me i was an "odd bird" but that i was "always endearing", that talking to me for just a few minutes cheered him up. the clerks at the local grocery store praise my chutzpah for selling cars alongside so many men. my hairstylist asks me for life advice. in these moments, i am struck with strange pain and fear. i feel like these people are looking past my flaws and seeing some other, brighter, glittering me, shiny scales beneath a muddy exterior. i am afraid that they think these shiny scales indicate a whole, shiny me, when i feel they are rare adornments. if there is a whole, shiny me beneath the grit of self-loathing, what sort of future lies in store for her?

"you're not as effed up as you think you are," my therapist likes to tell me. "even if you have a lot more work to do than other people." i thought that my dislike of praise was rooted in my self-loathing, and that is, to some extent, true, but beyond that it is in the fact that i can't see or understand who i am inside, and who i could become. i can only see yesterday-today-tomorrow-next week-next month, and i am always the same - just in different places, with different people.

i have a knack for discounting my progress as i go. in the vicious cycle of yesterday-today-tomorrow-next week-next month, there is little room to reflect on "things i've improved in 1 year, 2 years, 5 years". if i reflected on my improvements, i might catch glimpses of the shiny self. if i reach for her, i might fail. i am terrified of that failure.

*

all this said, i do have big plans for next year. i hope to save more money. i hope to travel. i hope to get in even better shape. i hope to learn to be a little kinder, a little more tactful, a little more patient. i hope i can learn to connect with people better. i hang these wishes on my heart like ornaments on a christmas tree. my heart glitters.

when i was in college, i thought i would be dead or in prison by thirty. i thought i was living on borrowed time. i thought i got rid of that thought, but i suppose it ran deeper than i dared to see. you can't plan for very much when you think life is about to break at any moment (but the moment, you're certain, is soon.) now, if i want to go further - if i want to go where i have never gone before, i need to plan.

i need to believe in the future. i need to have hope for it.

maybe i wasn't an optimist yesterday or today. maybe i won't be an optimist tomorrow, or next week, or next month. but maybe i can be an optimist next year. or in two years. or five years.

maybe.
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XANDER
 Posted: Jan 3 2017, 12:05 PM
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START THE NEW YEAR OFF RIGHT

with

YA MOM GOING TO JAIL FOR (HER SECOND) DUI

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but i am taking a breath and reminding myself I'm not impoverished or homeless and no one is dead and I have people who love me and everything will eventually turn out okay. one of the hardest, ugliest life lessons is that life will eventually turn out okay, even if it feels horribly unjust that the universe should forget unfairness and injustice and keep on turning. everything turns out okay, or you die, and if you're dead it doesn't matter anyways.

this blog has turned into the Black Parade so I promise next post will be a bunch of pictures of my Portland / Seattle vacation, just – holy shit universe, why do you have to keep ramming me into the fire? am I a living Mythril blade being forged to slay a dragon? please explain.
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XANDER
 Posted: Jan 6 2017, 03:09 PM
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alright, i promised you guys some cheerful shit, so, here it is!

one thing i don't do is gripe on my facebook about my feelings! no, facebook is reserved for a shitton of pictures that i take while out and about. so what did i do in 2016? LET'S FIND OUT

WARNING: these will break the image resizing thing, best viewed on desktop

January '16
  • Ice skating
  • Murphy Ranch hike


February
  • Skiing
  • Mardi Gras party, complete with bounce house
  • Icehouse Canyon hike


March
  • Death Valley trip
  • Change dealerships, inform everyone I am swoll


April
  • Renaissance Faire


May
  • Devil's Chair hike
  • Yosemite road trip


June
  • Midsummer Night's dream party


July
  • 4th of July


August
  • Surprise 26th birthday party
  • San Diego
  • Rocky Mountain National Park


September
  • Sedona road trip
  • LA County Fair


October
  • Apple picking
  • Little Tokyo day
  • Halloween


November
  • Malibu Creek State park hike


December
  • Christmas
  • Portland


January '17
  • Seattle


and here's the books i read:
  1. On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft by Stephen King
  2. The Magician King by Lev Grossman
  3. The Reasons of Love by Harry G. Frankfurt
  4. Level Up Your Life by Steve Kamb
  5. The Body Sculpting Bible for Women by James Villepigue
  6. Frankenstein by Mary Shelley
  7. A Stolen Life by Jaycee Dugard
  8. The 17 Essential Qualities of a Team Player by John C. Maxwell
  9. Moby Dick by Herman Melville
  10. Memories of My Melancholy Whores by Gabriel Garcia Marquez
  11. Ancillary Justice by Ann Leckie
  12. The Bhagavad Gita by Krishna-Dwaipayana Vyasa
  13. Reflections on the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali by T.K.V. Desikachar
  14. When Perfect Isn't Good Enough: Coping Strategies for Perfectionism by Martin M. Antony
  15. High Crime Area by Joyce Carol Oates
  16. Transparent Things by Vladimir Nabokov
  17. The Power of Now by Eckhart Tolle
  18. Ancillary Sword by Ann Leckie
  19. Ancillary Mercy by Ann Leckie
  20. The Martian by Andy Weir
  21. The Traitor Baru Cormorant by Seth Dickinson
  22. The Stranger by Albert Camus
  23. Gold Fame Citrus by Claire Vaye Watkins
  24. Slade House by David Mitchell
  25. The Body Keeps The Score by Bessel A. van der Kolk
  26. All The Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr
  27. Siddhartha by Herman Hesse
  28. Waking The Tiger: Healing Trauma by Peter A. Levine
  29. Debt: The First 5,000 Years by David Graeber
  30. Dreamland by San Quinones
  31. A Clockwork Orange by Anthony Burgess
  32. The Fifth Season by N.K. Jemisin
  33. The Call of Cthulhu and Other Weird Stories by H.P. Lovecraft
  34. Sexual Anorexia: Overcoming Sexual Self-Hatred by Patrick Carnes
  35. Their Eyes Were Watching God by Zora Neale Hurston
  36. The Untethered Soul by Michael. A Singer
this makes me feel like i was reasonably productive between my full-time job and all this insufferable bitching! reader, i hope you agree. the real struggle is going to be somehow topping all of this shit.
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XANDER
 Posted: Jan 18 2017, 05:09 PM
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i flipped through my song library on spotify trying to write this, trying to dig up the sound of the strange feelings layered inside me. if you were here, perhaps you would ask me the right questions or make your own suggestion, something that would draw my attention and sharpen my feelings to a lead point, and i could sketch them out in the emptiness between us. but you are not here, and it is harder.

but you are here, too, as i've said before. you are here as if someone burned you up into ash and sprinkled you into the dough of my bread; i break you every day, i consume you, you satisfy a hunger that rises in me daily. you are also here as the watcher in the rear of the audience. in the back row, your face is dark, and i cannot see you come or go. i only know you have come to my theater by way of your little notes - this time, the hiding of all those two-star book reviews. i was terrifically put-out, and yet, astounded and joyful. here it was, the ordinary miraculous - a fragmented gesture in the digital landscape as much as it was a magnificent reassurance, because always, i hope you are here.

among the greatest pains in losing you was that of deep, terrible knowing of you, and no one to share this knowing with - and worse, even worst of all, knowing this knowing would not be believed. i felt consigned to pity, to be the sad, mad character of a lovecraft story, with my strange journals and stranger visions, hearing voices, imagining monsters. how badly i wanted just one piece of evidence to boster my claims! how feverishly i prayed for it! and the first time i laid my hands on something solid - a footprint in the wet mud, clawmarks on a birch tree - i was as sickened as i was happy. i might be twisted, but i wasn't wholly a victim of my imagination.

at first, i felt taunted, and thereby annoyed. why come so close, and yet stay just out of reach? what was the point of it all? i made a list of possible points; i fed them all to the fire. i am a creature prone to definite resolutions. i wished for a proper beating or throttling, or to be completely ignored. i scattered traps and provocations, straining to procure one or the other. you evaded them. to some degree, this still disappoints me. that's sickness for you - the masochistic dream of a good punch in the mouth, courtesy of your fist.

we can get used to anything after a while, though. i am used to you again. when i step out from my house and find that you've been pacing outside my bedroom window and tramping through the flowerbeds, i no longer shudder with fear. when you tear up the garden and disappear, abstaining from your usual tree-clawing, i am patient. i plant new flowers, and i wait - because, you see, i still love you terrifically, though you may find me hard and critical.

i have read more about how love is not subjectively felt, that it is objectively judged - that there are ways to love correctly. i think about this when i write about you, to you. to love myself, i have to speak the truth that's in my heart. what does loving you entail? is all this writing nothing but senseless torment? what draws you here, if drawn here you still are? do you take anything from it? do you learn? by the end of our formal interactions, i believe you despised listening to me, but i endlessly aspire to win your ear. i hope, sometimes, you are moved.

if you tire - when you tire - of this story, i have already forgiven you for leaving for good. i promise not to hold it against you. deep in my heart, the question that demanded answer was, 'is this feeling of connection real?' this was a door that required two keys: yours and mine. i have offered mine up by writing here, and you offered yours in the footprints, the clawmarks, the songs, the pictures. yes. i did not imagine you.

the offer for the good throttling or the good talk stands, as it always will. i am braver now - brave enough to try, once again, to like and to love. perhaps i will let someone else into my house and heart; perhaps they will take up gardening with me. maybe some day they will walk through the woods with me, our fingers entwined, and they will point at your claw-marks and ask, 'what sort of animal made that?' and i will say, 'oh, maybe a bear,' and onwards we will walk, unafraid, in the golden afternoon light.

there are many kinds of love, and this is a love reserved for the knowing of the darkness, the darkness within and without, and the person who walked with me there, who ruled me through fear, and, in the end, made me brave.

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XANDER
 Posted: Feb 3 2017, 01:46 AM
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it is strange and terrifying, how love infects you. i have felt it growing within me, incubating, feeding, a parasite. it makes its own demands, exerts it will; it drives me. sometimes i am afraid, and try to resist it, but it is no use - it was i who put it there. it is now i who obey.

it is hard to love. it is hard to love as deeply, fully, and bravely as i feel called to do. love is not often the great, sweeping feeling that arrives with the setting of the sun and your lover's hand clasped in yours. love is daily. love is for strangers. love is for your coworkers. love is for everyone, including yourself, in every choice you have. love involves taking the long, steep path to the summits of truth and forgiveness, even when you are tired and wish you didn't have to go.

i did not want to talk to my general manager today. i wanted to make an excuse to not talk to him, even though i have been rehearsing what i wanted to say for a week. i wanted to be reassured by the people who told me i didn't need to say anything about how he'd been written up - for being party to the harassment of the other sales manager, the thorn in the side of the whole dealership. i wanted to believe it wasn't my problem. i wanted to agree that i could ignore it, let it blow over, and let it go. but love cried out within me, no.

perhaps i could have gone on in silence, indefinitely. i could have lived with what felt like a new chill to the air, a new distance between the sales floor and management, a fragmented trust that left me ill at ease. i could have told myself that i was right to bring down the hammer of upper management, that i had been right to press my coworker into making a complaint. that much was true - i was right. it was the right thing to do. but the right thing is often painful anyways, and it is easy to forget that those who commit wrongs are the same blood as us, the same flesh and bones. it is easy to distance ourselves from their suffering, when we say they deserve it.

but i couldn't do it, you know. love gave the order. i walked out my door this morning and i tripped down my front step, my heel sliding. i fell. i was brought down to my hands and knees. i felt the scrape on my hands and i thought, this is a reminder - of humility, of being brought low, of getting back up. so i got up, and when i got to work, i went to my manager and said, i feel like you've been treating me differently. and i said, i'm sorry it had to come to what it did, and i said, it needed to happen, and i said, it still sucks, and i'm sorry, and i don't want to hide from you. it was not as poised or as graceful as the reels i'd played in my head, but i said it all the same. sometimes it is unavoidable that we suffer. sometimes we bring suffering upon ourselves. still, i am sorry.

can i prove to you, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that it mattered? do i have the magical instruments that could sample the emotional pressure in the air, the temperature of the spirit, the fractures of a heart? do i have the words or the theories to explain that there is defiance of capitalism, defiance of corporatism, in putting your heart first, your emotions first, in rejecting a relationship defined by roles of authority and submission? what is there to say, other than that the laughter in the office seemed lighter, that, imperceptibly, people moved together to make small talk more easily, as if they sensed some danger had passed? is all this real, or is it only imagined?

before this, i said a handful of things to my regional manager, the one i hated. i told him, in passing, i don't resent you for demoting me. i told him, this isn't the life that i planned, but i am happy and at peace now. he said, of course, of course, as if this was all known to him, as if he knew all along, and i said, but i want to be clear. i want you to know i don't hold it against you.

i read in a book that we judge others the most harshly for the things on which we judge ourselves. we judge others to validate that there is some one worse than us, and that we are okay because someone is beneath us. i realized, staring out my work window, that my regional manager judged me because, in his heart, he was not so different from me - or, that he tried to be different, and i kept him from forgetting the person he fought to bury. this knowing was shattering. it was a million pieces of pain, and knowing, and revelation. it was knowing that all my suffering came to bear because there was, all along, suffering just as great as mine - the suffering of someone who rejected the virtues of honesty, creativity, and emotional risk, who lived in the throes of agony when he was confronted with them. it is easy to forget that i am of the lowest order in my organization, but a man four ranks above me avoided being in the same building as me for almost six months.

it is better now. today, i can laugh with him. today, i can walk into a room, look at a performance review on the desk and say, 'ohhhhhh, that, and he'll say, 'is that any way to say hello?' and i will get up from my chair, walk out of the room, and walk back in, and say, 'how was your weekend?', and it is nonsense because it is beneath him to meddle with a performance review as petty as mine, this is what a sales manager is for. it is better, because at last, i am beginning to understand. i used to doubt that i ever could.

love and understanding are two sides of the same coin. the more we love, the better we understand; the more we understand, the better we love.

this, this, is the rule of love, the love that brings me to my knees as surely as if i was tripping over my front step every day. it is the love of saying the hard, vulnerable truths in a world that would boil me down to numbers, reports, obedience, and agreeability. it is the love of letting the truth be complicated, letting it be muddled and inhabiting it anyways, with compassion. it is the love of knowing that i was dealt an injustice - and that injustice was one of the best things that could have happened to me.

one day i will leave this job. one day it will just be a handful of lines on my resume. my regional manager, more than anyone, knows that i will one day leave - that is why he says, maybe this isn't the job for you when i have disagreed with him, or fucked up. i used to think he was bullying me, threatening me, but now i can hear the sad, plaintive resignation of a man saying, i know you're going to leave me, sooner or later - so leave now. one day i will leave, and all that will be left in my wake is whether i changed people, whether i loved them deeply enough to make a difference.

so i love. that is my revolution.
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XANDER
 Posted: Feb 5 2017, 10:33 PM
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Total acceptance is the path to forgiveness, one Zen monk writes. Another book told me, anger is simply a refusal to accept the present moment. I've been thinking about these things more and more the past two weeks. I feel them constricting me, like a snake's skin that is getting too tight. I must shed the anger and rejection that is keeping me small.

Anger - haven't I felt that for you? Haven't I damned you? What was it all for? Why was it? Anger is a refusal to accept. I couldn't accept that you left. I couldn't let that truth fully exist. It's like if I was angry enough - if I could prove I had been done a great injustice - it would bring you back to me.

What did I accept? Nothing. You tried to place yourself out of my reach, to a certain extent, and I did not accept that I had no right to you. I carved each refusal on the stone walls of my prison. I moved from my single cell, through the dungeon, up into the castle proper, carving all the while. I became bolder, wilder, stronger. I grew from a petty prisoner into a queen. Once I was poor, broken, and trapped, but I recovered my dignity and my wealth. I was rich in my refusal to not accept. I tore you apart, because I could not accept you.

You see, the only acceptable reasons for leaving me were 1) you were right about yourself and 2) you were right about me. That meant you needed to be right about being better off without me, right about my holding you back, right about who you said you were and who you were going to become, once I was out of your way. You needed to be right about my being a terrible person, a controlling con artist who made you small so I could be big. I was willing to compromise: if at least one of these propositions held water, I could try to accept your leaving. I pored over every bit of available data, seeking confirmation.

Are you better off? Is there something I missed in my analysis? I can't know your life to a certainty. Even the people you see every day probably have limited access to your internal monologue, given how closely you guard it. But I do believe you exaggerated your two claims. The truth is a tortoise with an ebony shell and hematite nails. It walks all day and all night, pursuing the rabbit of delusion down roads high and low. One day, when the rabbit is sleeping in the briar bush of exhaustion and isolation, the truth will come upon it. The truth is not like the peaceful fairy tale tortoises. It has little diamond teeth. It bites.

Oh, how I condemned you for those failed claims! How I raged! I could not accept you or your life if it possessed neither me nor grandness. Yet I believed I had forgiven you. No - I was approaching forgiveness, but I had not arrived.

You are so young. There is so much time left for you to live, love, grow change. There's so much time for me. Who says you have to do anything on my timeline? Why even give a fuck about what I think? Maybe the same reason why I give a fuck about what you think.

I thought I was going to ask you to marry me back in 2012. I had plans for it. Instead, I was a bubbling volcano of resentment and pain. Instead, I cried over stupid things like badly lit Instagram pictures and how you said you didn't want to go to a jazz festival. A jazz festival! But I cried. I cried because the fantasy life I clung to in my head didn't line up with the jagged, complicated reality. Two years later, you would visit me again, and ask to borrow a pair of my sandals. Did you know I was angry about your borrowing my sandals? I was angry! It was so absurd! But deep down, I felt like I had so few things that were truly mine - that you owned me, that you were the chief architect of my identity, that we were one and the same and that those sandals were one of the few things that was mine, and I didn't want you to wear them. Talk about unresolved feelings!

The infernal machine that we built - the devil's clockwork that enforced connection at all costs - would not have us part ways easily, or ever. No escape - no exceptions. So we weren't going to talk every day now? So be it. We would be haunted by one another's ghosts instead. I became a brand new person to show you that I could. You taunted and provoked me from a safe distance. We were still together after all.

They say we judge people the most harshly for the things we judge ourselves for. No doubt we judge that much more harshly when we feel someone else's choices as a personal affront. How could I not judge you for leading an ordinary life, when we had claimed we were so extraordinary? Where were all your boasts? Where were mine? But I was blind, because our lives have always been streaked with the ordinary. It's our dreams that made us exceptional.

What did I hope to gain from my endless analysis of you? I hoped being right would mend my broken heart. I hoped my poor data collection would keep me close to you. I hoped my pointed criticism would push you to reflect on your choices, on the chaos of your mind, on where you want to go and how you'll get there. I felt like I had to - who else was going to push you? Who was going to call you on your shit? But you are still so far from me - and you will stay that way, until the day comes that you can level with me. Denial is borrowing time against yourself, with interest - sooner or later, you're going to pay. The later you pay, the more you will owe, but that’s your business. That’s your reckoning, and I can’t deliver it to you.

There is no sin in being ordinary. There is no evil in an ordinary life. An obsession with the extraordinary only convinces us that we are not enough as we are. But you are enough already. So am I.

You're enough if you never read the Western canon, or any of the other heavy-handed shit I like. You're enough if you don't go back to school. You're enough if you never publish a book. You're enough just getting up every day, feeding your cat, riding the train to work, smiling at your coworkers. You were always enough, just as you are. I'm sorry I couldn't see that. I couldn't see it because in my heart, I wasn't enough, and that belief spilled over to the people closest to me. You were always enough, no matter what untapped potential I lamented.

I am unbreakable, the infernal machine hisses. I am a god. Yes, I tell it, you are a god. But I am one of the gods who built you. I will build a mountain on top of you, and deepen valleys around you, and seed those valleys with pine trees and wild flowers. I will fill the forests with birds of song and bright yellow butterflies, until no one can hear the creak of your cogs or the moan of your bellows. I cannot destroy you, but I can go beyond you.

True love is not about idealization. True love is about seeing someone for who they really are, the good and the bad. One day, you will go beyond ideas that I was capable of being perfect, or that I was the perfect villain - one day you will see that I made mistakes, that I was perfectionistic and critical and a poor communicator and insecure, and that I had greatness in me, in my daring and humor and passion and love. When these things come together, you will open your eyes in the cathedral of our love, the bells tolling, the sun streaming through the stained glass windows, and you will be awed by what we built. It will come upon you like a javelin through your back, bringing you to your knees, blood welling in your mouth, your heart throbbing in agony as the angelic chorus rises. We took our brokenness, and we made art. We gave our demons names, and made them beautiful. We were so, so brave.

I cannot keep fighting with you. I love you too much. I love everything too much - it wears me down, as the sea eats at great stone cliffs. It grows stronger every day, because it has to. I can only love other people as much as I love myself. I can only trust other people as much as I trust myself. My heart has been so small.

The hardest thing to tell you is that... there is someone else now, someone I am beginning to care for. Among my many challenges is my terror of sexual intimacy, of combining the physical with the emotional. My whole life there was a 'check one' instruction above those two boxes; our relationship played superbly into this dysfunction. But I don't want to be dysfunctional forever. I want to love more deeply. I want to love my own body and feel in it. I want to stop constantly resenting people for being attracted to me, because I feel like it means I owe them something, some kind of satisfaction. I want to stop giving myself away to try and fake normalcy. These are problems that I cannot solve by writing to you.

So I lay down my weapons here. I will not fight you any longer. I will take on the burden of faith, the faith that you are doing the best you fucking can, that you don't need me, that you never did. Your fight is so much bigger than me. I want to banish my anger towards you, once and for all, because you are my final frontier. If I can defy my anger towards you - if I can let this go, this injustice that was so great I thought it would kill me - I can go beyond anger itself. I will root out my suffering at its source.

As I have written, I am no longer certain all this writing is best for you - if I was ever certain at all. I was willing to take more chances before, because I was so angry and so hurt. I wanted you to see how hurt I was. I wanted to publicly flay myself so you could see I was sorry. These things served a valuable purpose, and I don't regret them. But we are edging into a new era. We have been fighting this particular battle a hell of a long time. I think I really am out of things to say.

Your life will go on - has been going on, all this time. The sun kept rising. You still needed to get up every day, pay rent, wash your hair. The days passed one at a time without my voice, my text messages, my nagging inquiries, my scoffing, my affection, my joy. Do you still hear my voice? When you are standing in a bookstore, sitting at a cafe, leaning on the bar at a club with too-loud music, am I there beside you? Do I joke about certain book titles? Do I waffle over what to eat? Am I out on the dance floor, spinning with delight? Or have you managed to banish me on most days, so that mostly, you forget?

Understand that I love you. Understand that there was never any other way to go about things, than to love you. Understand that does not ebb or end, but that this public exhibition must. You can still follow my blog. You know how to find my Goodreads. If I have something good bubbling in the ol' brain pan, I think I'll just go ahead and email it to you. I'm convinced that you have me blocked or set to spam, but hey, maybe it'll be like in the Sex and the City movie where Carrie goes and reads the 10,000 hidden messages from Big about how he loves her the mostest and everything is better, hooray! Probably not, but I'm working on this optimism thing. Giving up was never my style, and I won't start now.

Maybe one day you will come back and say, 'So about that story we were going to write...', and I will drop my phone and scream with delight. Maybe one day you will reappear as if you were never gone. I allow myself to dream of these things. But I will not live inside of these dreams while life passes me by. The world is waiting for me.

So goodbye here, my dearest! But never goodbye forever.

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XANDER
 Posted: Feb 18 2017, 01:11 PM
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so what do i do when i'm not writing long self-involved introspectives

a lot of this

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  • get into minor office war after new employee steals my desk. my desk features a unicorn from my 26th birthday cake, a comic strip my mom cut out for me, my "it's different every day" calendar, etc. - it's very My Desk. dipshit takes it for NO REASON (there were other desks available.) i am mad.

    i do not just get annoyed when i feel like someone challenges me or disrespects me. as you have seen, i will go on a full fucking campaign, which in this case involves me going desk to desk to my peers and collecting other grievances against New Employee. i am passive aggressive all day. i flood the room with my Mood Power. the next day i was told i am not allowed to kill New Employee, nor am i allowed to convince other people to kill him. New Employee was Talked To about his misbehaviors. he was mad all day and hid. sorry dude, i know it sucks to be 24 and think you're the greatest, but THIS IS MY HOUSE. I AM THE QUEEN.

    don't steal my desk!

  • i was told i couldn't be a leader, but somehow i have rendered a fairly ideal work environment, mostly through force of personality. i refuse to accept things i feel are inappropriate, unprofessional, bullshit, or not compassionate, by which i mean i am so aggressively displeased that it's not worth it to keep doing it around me. when told to get off my phone or stop reading things on my computer, i stop briefly, or engage in a behavior that looks even more annoying, like folding paper cranes or walking the office aimlessly, then go back to the original thing.

    i am way too smart for my job. i am also way too comfortable.

  • every time someone says i am too smart for my job / i am wasting my potential, i want to load myself into a rocket to the moon. YES, I KNOW. I KNOW. I GET IT UNIVERSE. I'M NOT LISTENING!!! I NEED MORE MONEY!!!

  • i have been dating Girl for about a month now. it is good, also weird, also terrifying. i am aiming for the slow, progressive relationship, and not the kind where i reveal all my crazed history in one fell swoop. i am trying to be delicate about things like, "yes, i was in an on/off long-distance relationship for 8 years" and "yes, my life is like a patchwork quilt of insane bullshit and tragedy." i must also be okay with ideas like "we are equals and i do not need you to be madly in love with me immediately so i can feel secure."

  • i went skiing
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XANDER
 Posted: Feb 22 2017, 03:13 PM
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so my therapist canceled on me again! which means i haven't been to therapy in... shit, three weeks? so that means i better get something out here.

oh, reader, i am uncomfortable with sex. so fucking uncomfortable. it's never been something i've done for myself, not really - it's something i did because i thought i had to do it to be normal. it's something i've done because it's expected, culturally and interpersonally. i've had sex for cheap thrills, for money, for self-destruction - but never for passion, or love.

the 7-ish years i spent having sex i didn't really like or want eroded my sense of boundaries. i felt like i had to give it up, or i was withholding something that i owed. i am sickened and infuriated by too many compliments about my looks, because it means someone wants something, and if i don't give them access to my body, i'll be accused of being a tease or a prude. on top of that, i've never had an orgasm with another person; it's always been faked, generally to get the whole interaction over with. typing all this out, i realize it's dysfunctional, but for the longest time it was just something i was willing to live with. i have orgasms fine on my own! who needs other people?

obviously, this is a bit of a fucking roadblock when it comes to relationships.

Girl and i are officially girlfriends, after that month, whoo! part of that was, in the beginning, i whipped out the "i like to take it slow" line, without putting a time frame on 'slow'. as far as explanations go, i pointed to my last boyfriend, who basically dated me to fuck me and then broke up with me. while this is true, it is really a drop in the bucket of fucked-upness. the bucket is filled to the brim with a deep, abiding distrust for other people in regards to my body. my body is a battlefield where i am not necessarily the smartest, the fastest, or the strongest. it is a token for victors. it is held up as a prize. it is not mine.

where is all the passion that comes through in my writing? why does making out feel like a chore? i am often happier just having Girl massage my hand or pet my hair. i find this more platonic contact soothing and enjoyable. there are two voices that whisper in the back of my head: one of them says, "just give in and do it, make her happy." and another one says, "just run." both of them laugh when i ask, why can't i just trust?

there is something stunted in me here, a part of me that just refused to develop in a threatening environment. i wasn't molested or physically abused as a child, but there is a phrase, covert incest, for the sexually-charged violation of emotional boundaries. at some point, my brain completely shut down this part of myself to protect it. i am comfortable with vivid sexual fantasies - as long as they don't involve me or my body. i can go through the motions with my own body, as long as i don't have to be totally present or myself. i don't even know how to want someone without shoehorning them into a fantasy of some sort. remember how last boyfriend reminded me of one of my roleplay characters? yeah, it's bad.

knowing all these things helps to get me somewhere - to a place where i create boundaries as well as experiment with small doses of physical intimacy. but it's such slow going. i want to be better right now. i hate sitting with this discomfort, this sadness, this grating sense of powerlessness. i want to feel secure in knowing there's not a sex timeline i have to adhere to, or i'm going to end up alone.

i've read this book, and it helped, but man, i'm gonna have to reread it again. and again. and again.
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XANDER
 Posted: Feb 27 2017, 02:42 AM
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why am i always inspired to write blog posts on my drives to work, and never when i actually have the time to write them? well, i intended to let my hair air dry for at least twenty minutes, so here we go.

compassion is not a natural thing, barbermonger, nor is empathy - we naturally have the abilities, but that does not mean we are skilled by default. i have to keep working on self-compassion and self-empathy, and it is hard, because for the longest time, my engine of self-improvement was self-loathing. hating myself was regarded as a supreme moral good, and thus changing myself away from that loathsome person was to act in service of the world. i didn't stop to ask myself what it cost to feed this engine, or how much, because i was at least getting better while other people were standing still. when it became clear that this strategy was unsustainable - when the toxic waste of the engine threatened to eat me alive - i was forced to seek out a replacement. suffice to say, it is a lot harder to love yourself than it is to hate yourself.

there are three major triggers/parts to the self-loathing engine. they are the things i fear the most about myself. they are the things, that, when i see them in other people, i struggle the most with compassion and empathy, because i am not kind to myself in these regards. we can only be as kind to others as we can be to ourselves, after all.

1. LAZINESS

as an american, i have been brought up in a culture that pretends to be a meritocracy when it is really a plutocracy. since birth, my world has yelled, 'IF YOU JUST WORK HARD ENOUGH, ALL YOUR DREAMS WILL COME TRUE.' if i was perfect enough, and worked hard enough, bad things wouldn't happen to me! ergo, if bad things are happening to me, clearly i haven't worked hard enough.

hard work does have a lot going for it! so do patience and persistence. the best things in life take time, effort, and dedication - the best things being fulfililng relationships, inner peace, self-actualization, finding your place in the world, etc. sometimes, it takes your whole life to even approach one of these things. knowing this, i have an almost blindly plodding attitude to many things that people might consider dull, distasteful, and/or degrading. the reason i can stay at a job that has spat in my eye is related, in part, to the idea that if i work hard enough, it will be fine. even as i can see that i am not totally suited for my job - that the things that people label 'laziness' are often coping mechanims - i still question my work ethic when i am not successful. why can't i just work harder?

seeing anything that looks like a lack of motivation in other people gives me emotional hives. i know that there are reasons why people can be demotivated, or they can even be trying and i just can't understand it or see it, but oh my god, the hives. i try my hardest not to scream, "HAVE YOU CONSIDERED TRYING HARDER? or perhaps TRYING BETTER as opposed to doing THE SAME THING THAT ONLY BARELY WORKS????" not only is this kinda mean, but it is hypocritical, given that i have done very similar things. all the same, i have to actively restrain myself from yelling.

2. WEAKNESS

weakness is the bff of laziness. if laziness is a lack of willingness to work (to put effort forth), weakness is the lack of strength (the lack of will itself.) to be lazy is to have the capability to do something, but not do it. to be weak is to lack the capability altogether - or that is how i tend to see it. 'weakness', broadly speaking, is different to me than being temporarily down, or gloomy, or moody.

so, bad things happen! bad things happen, and they make me sad. lying around and being sad is weak to me, because what, are you just going to lie there? get the fuck up! do something about your sad, shitty little life! don't you have the power?

bad things happen! they make me mad. no! you do not get to get mad! take all that mad, and applying breathing to it. breathe really fucking hard. being mad is for losers. being mad is for people who are out of control. strong people temper their anger. strong people don't take their feelings out on others. SEIZE THE POWER.

bad things happen! i am afraid. FUCK FEAR. FEAR CAN EAT SHIT. RUN INTO THE FIRE. SET YOURSELF ON FIRE. STAND IN THE FIRE, BURNING, AND DO NOT SCREAM.

before you can take on the hard life things that make you uncomfortable, you have to be capable of sitting with your feelings. leaning into discomfort is pure fucking willpower. on the other side of discomfort is often a lot of revelation, if you can sit with your unease long enough to make it to the other side. but everyone has moments where it's nope, not today! once again, seeing too many "nope not today"s makes me want to shove a pillow against my face and scream into it. if i myself say 'nope' to something for more than ten minutes, i start berating myself as to why i can't WILL MYSELF THROUGH IT, or at least WILL MYSELF TO THE NEXT STEP, THEN WAIT WILLFULLY, THEN WILL AGAIN.

this one is even harder to deal with than laziness, because while i am aware i have a fucking deranged amount of willpower, i still find myself annoyed that other people also do not have it, or at least do not seem to try having it. i am a bird that flies around yelling at people to grow wings.

3. COMPLACENCY

i have decided that these three things are a pyramid!

user posted image

so first, you can't be weak! you need to have the raw willpower to get shit done. then, you can't be lazy! you need to take that willpower and direct it towards problem-solving and progress. so you're done, right? you solved some problems, made some progress - are you good?

HA HA HA, NOPE.

complacency is catchy gimmicks about being a whole and complete person just as you are. complacency is never finishing what you start. complacency is when you talk out your ass about big goals that amount to nothing. complacency is fronting about your spiritual development / deep personal insights / journey to knowing yourself, and it's smoke, mirrors, and pure fucking nonsense. complacency is 'accepting your brokenness' while rejecting any idea that your coping mechanisms are self-destructive garbage. complacency is accepting that you're doomed to be self-destructive. complacency is accepting anything less.

complacency is the shadiest of the big three, because it slithers around unseen most of the time. hatred of complacency is part of what keeps me going to the gym, to therapy, to the library, to new music, to new places, to new people. when i dismantled the engine of self-loathing, the rejection of complacency stayed behind, and somehow got built into the new engine anyways. rejecting complacency is, on its face, a drive for innovation and positive change. it is also a great way to despise anyone and anything who signals contentment with their life, especially if it's somewhat shitty. WHAT? YOU'RE JUST GOING TO LIE DOWN AND TAKE THAT?

i can be more forgiving of complacency, in broad strokes. maybe that's just your ceiling! maybe you tried and just can't do any better, i guess! but not me. i will do better. i will drag myself with two broken legs across every goddamn finish line. i will build crutches from the bones of the skeletons lying in the ditches. yeah, i'm doing okay now, but so what? there's more. there's better.

my tolerance for my own complacency will expire within a year, and it will beat out laziness and weakness to get me to quit my job, that is how strong it is.

hating complacency is the cousin of perfectionism. it transforms healthy striving into endless goalpost moving. you can't win the game if the goal post is always another 100 yards off.

*

so what's the cure for all that, you're asking? what's the fix? well, it starts with the awareness of it, then accepting them, then forging bonds of common humanity, then letting go of perfectionism, blah blah blah. lots of great therapeutic techniques, that all point to the unfortunate truth: i still kinda hate myself! not nearly as much as i did before, but still. still working on it.

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XANDER
 Posted: Mar 17 2017, 01:02 PM
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ever have a weird feeling you didn't want to acknowledge? ever been in a situation that demands you ignore something obviously true? ever put your hands over your ears and shut your eyes and yell 'LA LA LA' until that something goes away? ever do that, and the thing doesn't go away?

if you come out and say something, it becomes real. there are things that you don't want to be real.

the problem with this particular feeling is that it is that old blend of suspicion and paranoia - it is that feeling i get when something isn't quite right. and i know it, and i know it on a level that goes deeper than pure cognitive analysis. i know it that way you hear an off note in a piece of music. i know it the way you feel a hot wind blow through you. i know it but i have a history of not trusting what i feel, if i can't compile the evidence in plastic baggies and bullet points.

this will be difficult.

*

i had a habit of developing crushes on unavailable men. i read that i do this because i'm afraid of real intimacy, so i've worked on breaking this habit. i read that it's an insult to people to build a mythology around them, to shoehorn them into your personal fantasies, and thus objectify them. i've worked at seeing people as they are, wholesomely and compassionately. i'm awake. i'm trying to change.

when my old boss moved away, i told myself, 'that's it, no more.' no more crushes, no more nonsense. i had three remaining managers - two of them were married, and the third is a conflict-oriented awkward dipshit. i told myself, 'i'm safe.'

so when did i first notice something wasn't right?

one of the married managers became my new boss. he knew that i had liked my old boss - liked him liked him, even though he had a girlfriend. in my mind, this was an assertion of loyalty, of sorts: i liked this person. but what i quietly witnessed was something much stranger. you could call it a transition of power, when someone steps up into a role of higher authority, but it was like watching a brother trying on his dead brother's clothes. it was like watching someone mix and match a new identity.

in the old testament, a surviving brother would marry his dead brother's wife.

i don't remember what i'd done or what the circumstance was, but i had done something right, and my new boss said, "good girl." he had never said it to be before. my old boss had never said that to me. i felt the hairs on the back of my neck stand on end, but i smiled and kept going.

i thought, it must be some kind of mistake.

*

we have things in common. we like the same kinds of motivational books. we both work out. we liked Westworld and Stranger Things. i talk to my new boss more than i've talked to any of my other bosses in california, but i thought nothing of it. i've met his wife. i like her. they came to one of my house parties. i wasn't concerned.

i am inexperienced in the nuances of physical intimacy, but emotional intimacy i know very well. i know how it comes to life. it is born of stories. it is born of anger. often it lies very still, in the open, stark white in soft falling snow, strangely motionless - and when it moves, it surprises you. it is betrayed by jokes.

it's just a dream, i told myself. and then one day, talking to one of the other managers and me, he said--
      "sasha low-key hates [new employee]. but i bet she like, low-key flirts with [new employee] and leads him on, and then she'll turn on him."
and i thought, how oddly specific. and i said, "tell me how you really feel!"

and he said, "not that i'm speaking from experience or anything!"

and i thought, here we are.

intimacy is showing people who you really are. management is not an exercise in intimacy, nor is leadership. management is analysis and direction. leadership is inspiration and being what people need. but intimacy - intimacy is wrath, personal wrath, and i have felt it in criticism and confrontation and in the silent, unspoken question. the question is not, 'how can you not care about your job?' the question is, 'how can you not care about me?'

and i've tried to think of other explanations. i've tried to think, 'is he talking about when i tried to be friends with shithead manager?' i've tried to think, 'he's just trying to be funny/nice/friendly.' i've tried to consider it all from different angles. but just when i think i have it figured out - it's just my imagination! - the thing in the snow moves, and i know.

*

but i want to close my eyes and not know. i do not want to believe. i want an answer for this that isn't the truth. i just want to be crazy. if i'm crazy, i can rearrange my thoughts and feelings and reality will shift. if i'm not crazy, i have so much less power.

i think the worst part of it is the invocation of 'my dead brother's wife'. if managers have found me attractive in the past (or present), they at least had the sense to be ashamed. they were ashamed of the power differential. they were ashamed if they were already in relationships. that shame served as its own kind of buffer, a moral barrier that mediated friendliness and untowardness. to some degree, shame even helped to neutralize outright flirtatiousness, because no, they could never.

but one has a right to one's dead brother's wife. she is inherited, like the furniture. she was his to look at, and now he is gone, and the rightness of it takes away from that shame, married or not. it injects a way thing isness that makes it more insidious. what i feel most acutely is that lack of shame, that lack of wariness, and i feel exposed. and worst of all, with men, you never know if they know how they feel. you don't know if they're cunning or blind. you only know that the answers are always in the actions.

i have to keep going to work. this is no time to quit. but one eye is always moving to find the strange shapes in the snow, waiting, watching. i can't afford to be surprised.

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XANDER
 Posted: Mar 24 2017, 01:08 PM
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i realized, reading my CBT workbook, that i have been low-grade depressed for... at least ten years? skimming through some of my earlier posts, this might seem like THE MOST COMICALLY OBVIOUS THING YOU HAVE EVER HEARD, and yet, it was not obvious to me! it was not obvious to me because, as you may have also noticed, i have the willpower of an angry god.

at some point early in my life, i fucking severed the link between "what i feel like doing" and "what i have to do". was something upsetting? was it hard? did it feel kinda funky? WHO CARES??? NOBODY. THE WORLD DOESN'T CARE. IT CARES IF YOU GET SHIT DONE. and so i became a professional spear hunter of flashy, fishy feelings, lancing those dumb fuckers and roasting them over a fire and going on with my life. the depth and breadth of terrible shit that has happened to me would have probably emotionally crippled other people - they would have dropped out of school, or done drugs, or gotten pregnant, or self-harmed, or all of these things and more things! i settled for writing like a maniac.

i never, ever believed feeling bad justified doing stupid shit either. it's part of why i was vulnerable to certain kinds of manipulation: i agreed that feeling upset didn't justify lashing out, and also that feeling upset in general was dumb, so i never examined my upset that closely. everyone got upset! everyone got sad! what mattered was what you did with it.

the symptom of depression i saw most emphasized was "and then you lie in bed and can't do anything". since i never laid in bed and did nothing, i concluded i wasn't depressed. was i in terrific emotional pain? did my life include myriad, distressing things? didn't matter! i could still get out of bed!

while there are drawbacks to the super power of "fuck your feelings, get shit done", and it doesn't work 100% of the time, it works at least 80% of the time, and i think it is the greatest. so often i see "i can't do ____________" justified by "i can't find the motivation" which is another way of saying "i don't feel like it / my mood isn't enabling/supporting that". motivated? you need to feel motivated? you need to feel like doing shit to do it?! i don't fucking feel like going to the gym three times a week! i don't feel like going to work! i don't feel like dealing with my emotional shit, or looking for a new job, or listening to my mom talk about her ex-boyfriend, or paying my bills! i don't feel like being emotionally present! i feel like i want to eat a chipotle burrito every other day, and day drink, and write more sad shit about my ex, and quit my job and run off to western europe. that's how i feel!

perhaps i did not totally assess what 'will' is in my last post. perhaps there is more to it. will is about severing the link between what you feel and what you cognitively grasp you must do. will is about leaning into the cognitive and, to some degree, seeing your shitty, self-sabotaging feelings as external to who you really are. you are not your anxiety. you are not your depression. those feelings are your opponents on the tennis court of life, and if you think you're them, they're going to be smashing and scoring on you until kingdom come. you need to understand that it is up to you to hit the fucking ball back, to grit your teeth and fight.

i think this is hard for most people because they generally see their feelings as 1) part of them and 2) their allies. they don't know how to turn on themselves or these things they thought were their friends. when feelings are on your side - joy, excitement, curiosity, pleasure, satisfaction - everything seems so much easier to do! like magic! with disabling emotions, if they've felt them for a long time, it can be hard to imagine yourself as separate. but again, you have to. it's not optional if you want to transform yourself. it's not optional if you want to imagine a life where these things aren't present.

i thought i was an asshole about willpower because i had never been truly depressed or anxious. bad news: i'm an asshole because i've been, and am, both things. i have been out on the tennis court for as long as i can ever remember, sweating and huffing and puffing, my muscles screaming, and still saying, i refuse to lose. i haven't made all the best decisions, and i'm still learning, but i believe i can win. i believe i can have known the deepest, darkest places of myself, and come back.

to win, you have to believe it's possible. that's the first step.

*

meanwhile, after another day of talking to me for TWO AND A HALF HOURS, my therapist is like, "have YOU considered being a therapist?"

debbie do you know how hard i have fought to resist my destiny

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but by god it looks like i better just invest in some cookbooks and pocket squares

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