Holding Me Back

So it seemed right when I was determined to get back into writing and putting some real words on the page that my computer started to have a problem. At first I thought it was the graphics card or the power supply, but it just started to be some problem with it  in the sense that something was wrong with how it reacted to certain things. I would open my web browser and the monitor would go off as if I had put the whole computer to sleep.

I could hold the power button on the actual computer to reset it, but before I did that it seemed to be running as normal over there. When I did restart it the computer would come back up with the scan disk application saying that I had improperly restarted.

The computer I had was bought right before Barack Obama was elected the first time. I’ve had a relatively long life span out of most of my Windows computers (one laptop was stolen from me about a week after I purchased it, but that doesn’t count). I wanted to try something different, but not sink a shit-ton of money I don’t have into it.

So when things started to go south I looked into options for buying a Mac. I don’t game, I don’t really do much outside of typing, Lightroom, and Photoshop–so this isn’t one of those things where people can warn me about the drawbacks. I know the drawbacks. I haven’t particularly been much for PC gaming at any point in my life and, besides League of Legends and Sims, I’ve never really played anything on the computer.

Getting the computer here was a fucking nightmare. UPS couldn’t have been less helpful if they had shipped me a box of pissed off hornets, because at least then they would have actually shipped me something. All in all I picked my package up earlier today and I know I need to set goals for myself with writing and with photography and all of the other things I’ve been meaning to do, but haven’t.

Procrastination is easy and excuses are really plentiful, but the fact of the matter is that I haven’t put in the work the way I should have and that’s my own fault (I could have written on the iPad even when the computer was gone). The big thing holding me back is that I’m just not writing and that has to stop.

Facebook Friends

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The word “friends” takes on a strange connotation on Facebook. Currently I have two hundred seventy-seven friends, which is down about thirty from earlier this year. At the height of my friend-getting I think that I had around five or six hundred. There was a point several years ago where having a lot of friends on Facebook seemed like something of an accomplishment or, at the very least, something to be aspired to.

Over the years I’ve been battered down by conspiracy theories, begging for attention, and strange political views that I’ve come to realize less is more on Facebook. All of those people who complain about what the site has become don’t realize that’s in part to the people and likes on their Facebook list. Those things decide what Facebook is for you.

About a year and a half ago a friend of mine hid most of the people on his friends list from actually appearing on his wall unless they mentioned him and the results were astounding. He was interacting with people he actually wanted to interact with–Facebook has become a lot like the Game of Thrones for some of us: we’re forced to keep up these relationships for the sake of appearances, etiquette, satisfying old debts, or because of family ties. I don’t think I know anyone with a Facebook friends list that’s one hundred percent what they want it to be.

We can trim parts off, but a lot of it is inconsequential. There’s always that uncle that you really can’t get rid of without catching flack from family. Or that ex-co-worker who seems to magically post on your wall every time you come home looking to delete them. Or that girl who posts crazy stuff, but that will often times post a really cute picture…

I bit the bullet and deleted some people right before the election. Not just because of differing opinions, but because I didn’t like the idea of someone threatening shooting sprees if their candidate lost or that was really enthused about “pussy grabbin'”. Since two of these people in particular have tried to add me back, but what is it you really want? We don’t actually talk, that’s why the decision to get rid of you was extra easy, and we aren’t particularly friends either.

Look, I’m not saying that you have to agree with your friends about everything, but I am saying that no one should be forced to be friends that’s past the age of, like, five. We can like who we like and not deal with others. That goes for family too. And if you live your life without subjecting yourself to people who you really don’t want to, maybe things will be a little better for all of us.

Post Election 2016

I had this brilliant post all figured out and then the election went and happened. I was going to ignore the whole thing regardless of who won, because before the whole thing was finished I hadn’t really considered the whole of what a Trump presidency meant.

I’ve been scared for a while that he’d win and despite the fact that everyone around me was telling me that it was impossible that someone like him could win–I’m not going to do the whole blame thing, though I think there’s a lot of it to go around (most of it resting squarely on the uneducated rural masses that seem to think a New York billionaire who’s never given a shit about them gives a shit about them), but I am going to say that the one thing that I’m tired of hearing is that people out there need to stop protesting.

I lived through eight years of President Obama being protested against about all the awful things that he was going to do that he has yet to do. Considering he’s only got a few weeks left in office I think we’re not going to see any of that shit.

People are scared that their rights to marry who they want, their right to control their reproductive freedom, their right to be who they are might be stripped away from them. Those are all very scary things that I guess wouldn’t matter if you’re straight and a guy.

It’s you’re right to protest and it’s your right to be scared. There’s good reason to be scared of a man who called a climate change “a Chinese hoax” while a good section of the part of the country that voted for him is burning in the middle of fucking November. And I haven’t even mentioned the whole racism thing. The country has been ablaze with racism. Someone posted racist bullshit on the wall at a college right north of me.

I don’t really think that Trump invented racism. I don’t think that’s even possible to claim that. I don’t even think he stirred it all up. A good section of the GOP did that, the online white nationalist presence in this country has been on fire online; Trump didn’t put them there. Trump even claimed not to know or like them. But they have been emboldened by all of this and that’s a genie that won’t be put back in the bottle easily.

Now, on a positive note, Trump has walked back like half of the shit he said already. So to any who voted to him on “policy” it looks like you shouldn’t get your hopes up.

 

Belonging 

I went out to see Doctor Strange on Thursday night. It was supposed to be the highlight of my day. I’ve been counting down the days over the last month. There’s a tiny theater connected to my neighborhood. It also happens to be in the same building as my favorite comic book store. I’m in the place about once a week and people know me and I know the area. 

The movie had been moved to a new auditorium and was starting late, but by the time I stopped bullshitting with the guys in the comic book store I was coming into the theater after most people had taken their seats. A woman pointed to the area where my seat was and I walked down the front part of he aisle (our theater has wide aisles in front of the seats for waiters to pass along without disturbing the viewers). The seat numbering seemed off and the seats in the area where the employee had pointed me to were filled. I was in seat 13 of the row I was on and I saw a seat marked 513 and assumed it was that one. 

Suddenly a bearded man around my age or a little younger stands up from a seat a little to my right and asks “Are you sure you’re in the right theater?” He doesn’t come toward me or really move except to point. “They’re playing the Madea movie in another one.”

Oh, I get it now. That’s very clever. Black people, as we know, would only come to the theater to see the latest Madea movie or tales of triumph set during slave times. I wasn’t sure if he was going to tell me how brace I was next. It was raining, after all, and we know the blacks can’t swim. 

He laughed after that and sat back down. I figured out my error a few seconds after ignoring him. There was a second set of white painted numbers on the bottom of the upturned seats. I found my chair near the middle of the row buffeted by a man playing on his phone and a man who would continually talk to himself and push down on the empty seat between us hitting me in the leg. 

The movie was really good and I was thrilled to see it. Did the small interaction at the start ruin it for me? No. I’ve had worse said about me, although I really hate Tyler Perry movies, so this is an insult on two levels. There’s not a moral to this story unless it’s this: these kinds of things happen. I went into public to enjoy a movie and a stranger made a racist joke. I’m minding my own business and it doesn’t matter. People feel the need  to comment on my race. I’m sure if asked this guy would be one of the ones who “has black friends” and “doesn’t see race”. 

Yeah, sure. 

Scared For The Future of My Country

I’ve been stressed. I stopped by Wendy’s earlier and couldn’t finish a medium meal, which is not normal for me. Sleep is hard to come by and in the mornings I’m awake but don’t want to get up.

I lay in bed on my phone talking to friends and trying to avoid the bad news on sites like Reddit or Facebook. I throw on the MBMBAM podcast, but part of the way through I realized I’ve zoned out and don’t know what they’re laughing at. I missed the entirety of the last goof.

Work is surprising in that it is calming. No one really brings up the outside issues there and not many people really talk to me. I kind of like it that way. But the fact of the matter is it’s an election year and the things coming out of this election are causing me to be really afraid for my country.

Think that a few years ago a statement about binders of women or a weird scream was enough to get you flack. I miss the days of Bush and Romney when I look at the candidate that people have chosen to support.

There’s such an undercurrent of hatred in this election and the odd thing is that the guy stirring it up is somehow saying he’s the victim. He’s calling Mexicans rapists and bragging about sexual assault. He’s saying he wants to bring back unconstitutional stop and frisk laws and that he wants to default on our debt (which puts the world economy at risk). He’s asking why we don’t use nukes more often.

Notice I didn’t cite any of that. Mostly because it doesn’t matter. I’m on a phone and I won’t waste my time making the buggy copy paste system work for people who either know all that already or refuse to believe it. Even though it’s fact. It’s recorded that Trump has said these things; we’ve become anti-fact.

And the thing is what he’s taken advantage of scares me as much as Trump, because it will continue win or lose. There’s not really a chance for a conversation with people who are threatening to commit acts of terror against foreigners or “grab their musket” if they don’t get their way.

I’m thinking maybe America isn’t the place for me and a lot of people seem to not want people like me here. I’m thinking maybe this doesn’t get better after this.

Since people question my personhood still of ponder the idea of women not being able to vote can we really even say that we tried?

The Wonderful World of Incels

My novel seems to be stuck in a permanent research phase somehow. When I think about the fact that I was closing out a final chapter a little over a year ago, it’s strange to realize that the stuff I had back then doesn’t work for me anymore. This all started as something I dreamed up (literally–I had a dream) on a cruise ship. I should have never had any aspirations about keeping everything exactly as it was in my mind.

The latest idea that I’ve started playing with is a character who represents the common, downtrodden type of guy that you’ll find pretty much anywhere there is discussion to be had about dating. These guys are lonely and consider themselves un-datable, but they place a large amount of blame on society for the way it is. Women want well off men. Women want men that look a certain way. They’ve come up with all sorts of shorthand for the things they regularly talk about like their in a NATO briefing. For the men that they consider adversaries, the ones that women actually scramble to date, they use the name Chads. Some of the time they just refer to the guy as if his name is Chad. Most desirable women are Stacy.

They refer to themselves as incels. It refers to involuntary celibates, but in reality there seems to be more to the culture than just that. They categorize and break themselves into smaller groups from there. A KV is a kissless virgin and I forget the other stuff they say, but I’m not digging out my notes.

There’s this whole culture of slang and meanings, most of it meant to show how much the world has wrong them and to some extent all men. Women being allowed to have choices is sometimes spoken about as the first real problem that caused a whole host of problems and there’s a special kind of cognitive dissonance there too. Under the surface there’s a dash of racism and alt-right politics thrown in.

See this is the problem with research. I’ve read a lot of these postings. I’ve studied what these guys say and the words they use and the tone in which they use them. No one can be 100% horrible, right? So there’s got to be some silver lining in these people, but that’s what making the character is for. I have to cook up some way to make these guys be awful, but still be people.

A little over a year ago I watched the Elliot Roger videos on YouTube, you can still find them there, and the most astonishing thing was that I could see instantly why he had problems attracting women. He moved in a way that was off–kind of like how people talk about the uncanny valley–he spoke and acted as if he had this over blown sense of self worth.

And he plain acted like he was entitled to women.

I see some of the same traits in the men calling themselves incels and Roger identified as one, so that makes sense. I don’t mean to make light of the problem that Roger and others like him represent, but I think that the sort of character who embodies all of these things would have to be an interesting villain. Some might have a hard time sympathizing with him; if you’ve ever had to deal with someone who was so obsessed with how they were missing out on relationships and sex, you would see what I mean. At the same time I don’t think you always have to sympathize with great villains to see where there coming from.

People will tell you that they don’t believe the level of villainy that we’ve seen happen in a given story, but then you look at the world around us and we can see some pretty terrible events unfolding. On a smaller scale, couldn’t it just be that someone really hates the world around him and doesn’t think it’s treated him fairly? Couldn’t someone just have had enough of their immediate surroundings and they’re just going through the motions until the right chance arises?

That’s what I’m looking at here.

We Need To Adjust The Conversation

ljxgy8tgqqllxssvyl6wIt’s been talked about to death, but Aryan Michael Cera over here raped a woman who was so unconscious that the witnesses who saved her had to inform her of what had happened (the Aryan Michael Cera comment is courtesy of Brent Black from the podcast Trends Like These). Though he was caught in the act by two witnesses there are those out there still doubting that it was actual rape. There are some blaming her for being too drunk to defend herself; citing that if she didn’t actually have the ability to say no, that she didn’t. Then there are those who feel like if she doesn’t actually remember it, it couldn’t have hurt her that bad…

We so many of these cases crop up all over the nation. Colleges have taken the spotlight because it’s one of the first places that we as young people are tasked with looking after ourselves and being on our own. It’s one of the first places where things like this have a chance of happening. I remember back in 2004 when they brought us into a dimly lit stadium classrooms at University of Texas At San Antonio to tell us about the dangers of sexual assault and how to use the buddy system and how to stay safe.

And I remember just as distinctly the way in which I thought of the small play dramatization put on by the theater department: “This isn’t for me.” “This doesn’t happen to men.”

It does and it goes under reported if studies are to be believed, but what no one said in that half hour or so while we set in that chilly room was that it’s not alright to ply or coerce people for sex. It’s not alright to drug drinks. No one ever tried to tell us what consent was or how to ask permission. Everything was completely reactionary. It’s up to you to watch out for yourself and if you slip up or get tricked it’s your own fault.

That’s the subtle message there, though it wasn’t the message for me.

We can look back at all of the cases of a promising athlete or regular guy who was supposedly falsely accused of rape and try and put ourselves in their shoes, but you know what I don’t want to live in a world where rape is assumed to be the victim’s fault or them lying to get over.

I’m sure that any decent human being would be.