I wish I knew right now what I was feeling. My emotions are this tightly knotted mass of disjoint and tangled threads that all interleave into a Gordian Knot, matching the lump in my stomach that refuses to settle.

Shay moved out this morning. Like when Tanya left, I didn't get to say good-bye. I'm not sure I could have. I don't even know if I wished I could. I wish I'd had the option, but if I had could I have not done it? I feel at once like I failed her as a sister, like I failed myself as a protector and guardian, and like she failed me as a friend. Buried deeply beneath the mask she wears is the person I invited into my family, but that person is so deeply hidden that I sometimes question whether it existed at all, and I hate saying that because that can only lead me to question whether asking her to be a member of my extended family was worth the effort at all, which means so many months of wasted effort and so many resources poured into a black hole.

I feel a bit like a failure towards my mate, as well, in spite of the assurances to the contrary. It's not my place to discuss reasons or details, but the short form is that I got very pushy about something that I didn't need to push, then caught the brunt of an emotional blast caused by many more things than just the moment's excess. Things just slowly seemed to slide from there, until finally Jessie and I sort of crawled into bed and I fell apart.

Usually, a good night's sleep is all I need to recover from these kinds of divots, but today I find myself no better than last night. If anything, I feel worse because now I have the sense that I should have gotten better and didn't, and I don't know why. I've had Elton John's "The Panic In Me" off of the El Dorado soundtrack stuck in my head since I woke up, and it certainly hasn't helped.

I'm having a horrible time controlling my weight right now. My height is still upsetting to me, and I have trouble believing that it will ever be "acceptable" to me. At best, it will be "tolerable," but that's hardly the same thing. Unfortunately, at least partly because of this immutable and unwanted truth about my physical form, keeping the
rest of the things I
can control in check has been much harder than I would like.

I haven't dilated in months now, again. That, like my weight, is one of those things that I wish would just happen but that I can't seem to make happen by myself, a fact that bothers me even more than before. Jessie used to complain about the effort involved in hair-removal, and I always said that if zie really wanted it badly enough zie would find the will to make it happen, but that's not true and recognizing that makes me feel even more out-of-sorts. I have so many things that, if I had the will, I would simply do, but that never get done for one reason or
another. It certainly isn't that I don't want them. It's that I can never make myself stick with them.

Today is the one-year anniversary of my surgery, not counting differences in timezones and other negligible details. I've only ever made love with Jessie once, and despite how desperately I want to be able to do it again, I can't seem to spend the effort it takes to stay on top of what I have to do to make myself ready for it. I should be happy that it's been a year since I did this. I should be ecstatic that my surgical scars have all healed according to every medical text. I'm only disappointed in my own inability to live up to my expectations.

I still don't have a job. My creative endeavors are all languishing in pieces. One of the players in my weekly Werewolf game won't make it this week and may have to drop out, which might end up killing the story. I
couldn't even look at the scale this morning. My unemployment checks haven't arrived yet this week, and I've got a pile of bills I need to pay. 

It's very hard for me not to feel like a failure right now.

It's now 19h00 by my desktop clock, and while I can't say I feel better than I did this morning, I'm not suffering from it in any immediate sense. More than anything, it feels "behind." It's no longer an immediate and crippling sensation but a painful memory. More than anything, right now I just feel sort of blah. I fell back into bed as soon as I stopped writing this morning, and I didn't get up until five minutes ago. I woke up several times during that period, but I never managed to overcome inertia enough to actually go do anything.

I really didn't feel like there was anything to do, I suppose. I had no reason to leave the bed. I'm sure I could've found semi-productive things on which to work, like the renown backlog for my Werewolf game or any one
of a hundred different stories that I have pending for one reason or another, but likely if I had gotten out of bed I would've spent the day spodding with Xenosaga, trying to get chaos to level fifty to see his last deathblow (I
know the game calls them Tech Attacks, but I agree with the people at GameFAQs that say that's a lame translation). 

Spod is a powerful thing. It's any activity that's a timewaster, that you know is a timewaster, that you can do with minimal effort or concentration. By "timewaster," I mean an activity whose goal is ultimately unimportant. Ship-in-a-bottle building or writing JAPHs are not spod; they have some sort of vaguely tangible outcome. Playing pick-up sticks with yourself is spod, unless you're deliberately trying to build your hand-eye coordination.

The typical example of spod is endlessly levelling characters in a console RPG long past the point of being able to beat the game, and I excel at it. Most of the games I've played, I have a save-state somewhere on a memory card or floppy disk that's designated my spod state, and I've likely hit the final boss but have backtracked to some area of the final dungeon or another and just sit and take on fight after fight to pick up stuff and gain experience. Usually, this is to see just how high I can push the experience point counter or the HP counter or some other numerical statistic. 

I've been spodding with Xenosaga a lot lately. I beat the game five days after I got it, but the ending was so phenomenally unrewarding that I keep playing it because I feel like I got no closure out of it. That and, frankly,
I'm tired of everything else I've got at the moment and nothing else new will be out for a while that interests me, and so Xenosaga has been my drug of choice during the long, empty stretches of day while Jessie's at work and I
don't feel like I can be productive at a jobsearch. 

I got Master of Orion 3 when it arrived, as well, but it was a huge disappointment. I like empire-building, but I hate political games, and MoO3 took all the empire-building factors in MoO2 and stuffed them behind a wall
of AI, and took all the political stuff that had been secondary to the previous game and made them the focus, which meant that everything I enjoyed I couldn't do, and everything I found tedious was now the point. It's the
first PC game I've ever returned out of disgust. Not the first game ever, to be sure; that was Legend of Mana. I think honestly I disliked this even more than that.

I keep saying I have things I should be doing. I could be dilating. I could be writing. I could be out walkies. I could be managing my free time in some sort of useful fashion, but I never have. When I've got sixty things I
must do, not only do I get them all done but I manage to squeeze in ten things I want to do in the same time because I turn into a blizzard of productivity, and I can keep that up indefinitely; I did for three years at the end of my stint in college. When I've got nothing I have to do, or only one or two things, they never get done because I turn into a perpetual procrastinator. "I've got all the time in the world to work on it" because my excuse for everything, and then nothing ever gets done. The stuff I should be doing gets delayed because I don't feel like doing it right now and I know I can do it later. The stuff I want to be doing I feel guilty doing because I have things I should be doing that hang over me, but never get finished.

I'm a horrible time-manager, and I recognize it, but I'm never sure how to fix it shy of just doing things, and that doesn't happen, even though it should. I'm such a joyful bundle of neuroses. It's a wonder I'm not in a Happy Coat somewhere singing to my socks.


So, igneous compounds have been observed in a localized occurance of sanguination. More succinctly, the rock bled.

After all the brou-ha-ha I committed about the Evils of LiveJournal and other such neo-Luddite exhortations against my friends, to suddenly be in possession of one seems absurd. Then again, I have an account on FurryMUCK and an AIM account, too, now, and two years ago I was still railing against both of those.

I've said before that I'm not an early adopter, but by now one might think that I'd at least learn from my mistakes. I commented to Joanne on IRC earlier tonight that I'm not "happy" with having gotten an account, but at the same time I'm tired of fighting the March of Progress. I'm also still somewhat embarrassed about having had such a harangue with Jessie over the whole issues, too. To be sure, if Jessie hadn't goofed in a technical aspect of posting something private, I probably still wouldn't have an account, but I blew the situation way out of proportion to the actual issue.

This is now, I think, the third time I've said I had no use for something, only to end up in possession of it a few days later.

The part that makes me laugh, though, is the fact that now that I have all of these things, the call to actually use them has all but vanished. I haven't been on FM or AIM in months. Nobody seems to have noticed, or if they have they haven't bothered to contact me by any of the known reliable media and ask where I've been. I wonder if this, too, will end up being another in a long line of pan-flashes for me. It is said that Albert Einstein once had a friend buy him a can of shaving cream, which he found infinitely preferable to the ordinary soap he had been using to shave. When the can ran dry, he went back to soap, either never remembering or never caring enough to continue using the invention that he had hailed as such a blessing. Inertia won out over innovation.

It will be interesting to see how long this lasts.

In other news, I finally have a road-worthy vehicle again, so sayeth the mechanics to whom I took the car. This removes one of the two big things that went wrong on January 8, and means I have a much better chance of correcting the second with ease.

It also means, friends and neighbors, that the planning for the Bash can continue. In fact, the city, airport and dates are already selected, but we need now to drive up to the area and select the best hotel for the job, then get a contract. For that, I fully intend to call in SR, who was invaluable in assembling last year's Bash, 'cause I sure as heck can't read legalese. I click through all my EULAs without reading them on the grounds they're all immoral if not illegal and thus aren't binding. This will probably get me in trouble one day.

For those of you who feel like starting your plans, the Bash this year will be in Allentown, which is about two hours' drive north of Philadelphia, so chosen because the only thing within the vicinity of PHL proper is a Sunoco
refinery and some highway leading into Delaware, New Jersey and Pennsylvania. This is not the most scenic part of town. Most Bashers, as a rule, are poor. The ones that aren't are tight with money so as to avoid
being poor,
and thus I figure the extra money spent on trying to fly into a smaller airport will more than be saved in car rental and gasoline fees for the people who will be flying to the event. The rest of you, you'll be driving anyway, so it's not even an extra tank of gas difference.

To those of you planning on attending, my apologies at the lateness of the date and the lack of plans so far. Given everything that's already happened this year, I hope you can forgive me when I say "I had other crises to handle first." See you all in three months!


Consider the following scenario:

An overweight woman and her husband walk into a trendy clothiers, and she goes into the back to try on some slinky outfit that she knows is at least a size too small. She comes out of the dressing room looking squeezed and
pinched into something that's blatantly too tight, and asks her husband sitting on the couch, "Does this dress make me look fat?"

We laugh, but there's an important effect at work here. The woman is not seeking an answer to the question. She's seeking reassurance. She has to know that the dress doesn't fit, that her hips and stomach bulge from beneath the fabric like great globs of pork-fat wrapped in cellophane. She can't possibly be blind to the fact that it emphasizes every curve she shouldn't have and doesn't do anything for the ones that she should. What she wants is not to be told whether or not the dress makes her look fat, because it does. What she wants is to be told that, in her husband's eyes she is beautiful.

However, therein lies the Great Paradox. If she asks to be told that she's beautiful, the compliment is meaningless. Having requested praise, receiving it counts for nothing. You got what you asked to be given, and that doesn't
satiate the need for approval. For it to truly be what she wants, it must be unrequested, unexpected. Not undeserved or unnecessary, to be sure, but it must be spontaneous. The husband must say, "Honey, you look great" without ever having been asked for such a statement, because to ask for it is to invalidate the answer.

I am that woman. My life is the dress.

I have this need, this raw craving for real that lurks within my skull like a demon. I can tell you in the abstract what I want. I can discuss generalities, possibilities, and probabilities until my tongue is numb. Until someone asks me for detail, or expresses an interest, that's the most I can say. Anything more, and I've ruined the spell.

If I tell you what I want without you asking me, it doesn't mean anything to me when you give it to me, because you aren't responding to my wishes; you're only cranking the handle on the rote-response generator. You don't really know what I want; you're only responding to my input, like a machine. You aren't real; you're just a mirror, showing me what I want to see. I don't want to see myself in your mirror. I want to see you.

Scenario Number Two:

Your friend holds a party. He says it's invite-only. You've got some vague and tenuous plans for that weekend, but nothing certain. You say as much. Your friend asks you if you want an invitation. You beg off, because of
those plans. Your friend shrugs and goes on his merry way. All next week, you hear everyone you know talking about the party, and how you should've been there. If you'd taken the invite when it was offered, then you'd have
felt like you invited yourself and really weren't part of the crowd, and you really
did have other plans, even if they were sketchy. If you'd gotten an invite in the mail like all the other guests, though, you'd have gone, because then you'd have known that your friend really did want you there, and the invite would've felt genuine.

Is it psychosis? Probably. Is it neurosis? Certainly. Is it broken? Yes. Is it confusing? Likely. Is it curable? Doubtful.

I need to feel like I belong. Even as I scream my individuality to the heavens, I need to know that I'm an accepted member of my group. It's worse than the dress. It's the party. Even if you ask me if I want something, I'm not likely to say yes because some part of my skull will rise up an insist that you're only asking me because I've made a nuisance of myself, like all the other people I know that have asked to be let into private affairs. Even to my own mind, I'm no better than the little fat kid standing outside the cool kids' clubhouse asking to be let inside, or worse, making a big show of how much I don't want to be a part of any ol' stupid club, all the while hungrily peeking through the windows, trying not to get caught.

When I receive a compliment without solicitation from a stranger praising one of my stories, it's the most incredible high in the world. Why can't I feel that when someone dear to me offers me something? Why must I reject it? Why can't I believe in its reality? Why does my brain mandate such an important difference between being offered something, and being given that same thing outright?

I guess it goes back to the dress. If the wife walks out and the husband says, "Would you like me to compliment you?" in response to her solitication of opinion, she'd be insulted. She'd probably be even more insulted than if he had told her that she could stand to lose a few pounds. He's taken what should have been an unwritten subtext and made it blatant, and in so doing he's exposed the absurdity of the whole scenario. She wants to know that she's beautiful in his eyes. She wants the unrequested reassurance that he finds her attractive despite her size, and so she deliberately calls her weight into issue by trying on a dress that's too tight and asking if it makes her look bad. She has to know, at least subconsciously, that her actions are childish, but to confess that is to admit her weakness, to acknowledge her lack of self-esteem. What she wants is to win without admitting that she's
playing the game. Asking if she wants to be told how good she looks is bringing the game into the focus, kind of like asking a D&D character for zir alignment.

I can go one better than she can. I can admit that the game exists. I can even admit in the abstract that I play it, even knowing that it can't be won. I'm not proud of that truth, but I think I can take some pride in the admission. I may not be emotionally healthy, but I'm cognizant of my damage and try to take steps to correct it when I can and work around it when I can't.

Nobody stays in Atlantis by faking reality in any manner whatsoever.


I suppose technically that this should be March 5th, but I'm writing it on the extreme morning of the fifth after having gotten up some time on the afternoon of the fourth, so I'm calling it the 4th for technicality's sake. To be fair, some of my Thailand entries are properly labelled and I wrote them at all hours of the day, but the entries I wrote while in Thailand don't match up to anything normal, sane or reasonable. That whole trip is one big bucket of surreal in my head, a symbol that contains no inherent meaning and thus is reinterpreted every time I think about it.

I think what shocks me most about Thailand, even to this day, is the way it lingers in my mind. It wasn't a happy trip. It wasn't a frightening trip. It wasn't a surreal trip. I visited Chloe, XoYo and Mut. I had three major and
two minor surgical procedures. I endured two bouts of food poisoning. I learned to love pad thai. I discovered the 1950s-era-science-reel joy of dilation. I reinvented who I am. I discovered that I'm just like who I used to be, only moreso. It's not that Thailand could have been only yesterday; it's that Thailand could be tomorrow.

The last month has been incredibly stressful for me. Finding a job in this economy has been... well, to say difficult is an understatement and to say it's been hell is a hyperbole. The truth is that all of my work seems to vanish into a black hole of Human Resources drones and technical recruiters who themselves aren't technical people. I had a recruiter tell me "I don't see UNIX on your résumé" when I had listed Solaris, AIX, OSF1, HP-UX, and SCO instead. I've been accused of job-hopping in my efforts to stay ahead of the lay-off curve. I've been told that my years of experience in coding don't count for anything because I'm too specialized. I've been told they don't count because I'm not specialized enough. I don't know how to make my chances of success more, or even less, likely, short of yelling at a recruiter and accusing her of pigeonholing me because of my attempts to avoid being let go by one company or another that's suffered trouble, reinvented itself and discovered it didn't need me or otherwise
found out after hiring me that I wasn't the right candidate for the job. Not that I would do such a thing, of course.

In short, I've hit a sort of use-the-Force requirement. I can no longer plan for my own future, because I don't feel like I'm in control of it, at least not right now. It's horrifyingly liberating, and sadistically enlightening. I'm not reacting at all well to the feeling that I can't provide for those about whom I care, and every day I realize just how much of my personality is tied up in the belief that my value unto others is determined by my ability to provide for them, in some fashion or another. It's a very dangerous belief, one I'm trying to excise from my mind. In the absense of obviously positive cashflow, though, it's very hard to overcome.

Jessie and I finally had to ask Shay to leave. Her last day under our roof will be the fifteenth of this month. I don't want and don't need to go into all the reasons she's leaving, but it's been gnawing at me. I feel like I've failed, though how I couldn't say. Worse, there's a part of me that feels used, even though I know she never intended for that to happen. I gave her six months in Texas. I gave her six weeks when she came to Philly. I gave her a month this time. Every time, she's managed somehow to wear out her welcome by the end of it. Not that she's chosen to leave, but that we've had to ask her to vacate our premises. Part of me wonders why I keep sticking my head in the bandsaw. Part of me can't figure out why she doesn't turn the bandsaw off. Part of me relishes the pain as long as the bandsaw-operator is laughing while she calls 911.

I've been yelling at Jessie a lot lately. The stress is obviously getting to me, but never in ways that seem obvious. Little things that I can take in stride as long as the lights are on come back to gnaw at me when I close my eyes. Jessie locked a LiveJournal post to friends only recently, and I don't have a LiveJournal so I couldn't see it. I knew it was there 'cause I saw Jessie writing it, but it didn't show up in the listing, and I had a conniption because I wanted to know how many other posts I might have been missing along the way and never known I'd missed, just because I didn't have a LiveJournal account, to say nothing of all the other problems I've had with LiveJournal, et alia, in the past.

Those of you who would respond to this by saying, "why don't you just get a LiveJournal account" have not done
your homework
. C-minuses for the lot of you. See me after class.

I wish I knew what was wrong with me. I wish I knew how to make it stop. I wish I at least knew when I would have the resources again to make these things go away. I was never like this when I had a job, or was I? Was I
always this petty, this antagonistic, this bitchy-without-just-cause, and I just had enough material comfort and security to patch over the jagged edges of my personality?

Most psych-types that I know have said to me that losing one's job is the second-largest possible cause of stress in one's life, just behind a death in the family. It's a loss of self-sufficiency, and more. It's a loss of self-esteem, of self-respect. I'm sucking on the government tit and hating it, and hating myself for having to do it.

Maybe I should go work at a coffee-bar or something, for the extra cash. I won't lose any benefits until I'm making forty percent of my unemployment check in earned income, and considering what I was making before I doubt I could make that much at a part-time job. Of course, by the same token, taking a job like that while I'm still receiving benefits feels like I'm giving up hope of finding a better job. I joke about becoming a truck driver if I can't find a tech job, but that, too, is giving up. It's just giving up in a different way.

I wish I had a job. I wish I felt like I had the ability to just go get one. Right now, I feel like it's all in the hands of Fate, and Fate is not a master I trust.

I feel the need to add this as a post-script, though I know I shouldn't have to say it. I said above that I've been yelling at Jessie. What I didn't say there is how much it tears me up inside when I do. I don't think I could put
into words just how much Jessie means to me. Every time I lose my temper, I feel sick to my stomach. My breath gets short. My paws go numb, even worse now that I've damaged the nerves in my right one. I lash out, and then I want to curl up in a ball and cry because I've hurt someone that means as much to me as my own life. I feel that much worse after having lost control of myself with Jessie, worse than I ever would if I had just blown up at a friend, or even a lover. It's the closest I can get to screaming at myself in a mirror without a reflective surface.

I know I've wished to undo the past before, to change steps I'd taken and do things differently. I know how foolish those wishes are, how they seek to uncreate the person I am today. Never do I wish for that ability so strongly as when I get angry with my mate, in spite of all that. I hope this makes sense.

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