The elephant you can’t ignore today.

One of the stickiest things I heard in college was the social psych professor who, when going over depression, said, “maybe they just see things the way they are.”

I think he was right.  I think we see through the bullshit, and so much of the world is bullshit.

I’ve had depression my entire life.  Behaviors I was exhibiting at 4, at  7; choosing isoloation or even punishment over some activity that made me anxious.  Staying silent about being mistreated, because of doubt that speaking up would make any difference- eventually learning that, indeed, it usually did not.  The most discouraging thing is is being right about the worst things, especially when the world tells you, “that’s not really how it is, you’re just _____, just be optimistic.”

Yeah, fuck you.

I started this post a week ago, but since Robin Williams died yesterday it’s more than time to post.  There’s a lot of people asking, “can we have this discussion now?” and nobody really doing it.  And this is my goddamned space.

Any psych evaluation, any visit to a therapist, you’ll be asked, “have you had any suicidal thoughts?”  This is almost a joke to me.  It’s crossed my mind daily since I was 13.  I tried once, years ago; I’m sure it’s been a subconscious effort a few times since.  It’s absurd.  We all die sometime.  It’s not something you bring up, even when you really need to: the horrified jaw-drop, the handholding, etc. is not welcoming.  It’s not understanding.  And that’s generally the best response anyone gets from admitting they’ve thought about suicide.  Those thoughts are always there, for me.  They linger in the background, under all the noise and doubt.

Yet I’m still here.  For 30-plus years I’ve managed to keep sucking in air, like a masochist.  I don’t really know why, and God knows it’s not for fun.  All the pain, the anxiousness, all in my own head.  I don’t know why I keep going, especially when things are always going downhill, but there are respites.  Days when things look up, even if it’s a reminder that tomorrow or next week that trap is sitting there around the corner, waiting.  I guess those days are worth it.

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Dungeons & Damages

I got the new 5th ed. D&D starter box, which hopefully I can put to use sometime soon.  So far, it looks a lot like what I was hoping for: more streamlined but adaptable mechanics, flexible combat (grid and figurines not assumed!), more open toward the actual story part of the game.  I’m exited!

I’ve been reading more and more lately about exclusion and misogany in nerd culture -for lack of a better term.  One of my close friends at writers convention was in a group of women assaulted on an elevator.  There are growing discussions like this about the atmosphere of cons, and articles like this about gaming communities and online interaction.  And it’s necessary.  We’ve reached what should be a new peak in culture, where those things that were awesome but not broadly accepted in popular culture now are.  That’s awesome.  But it comes with all the downsides of ‘moar people’.

The first year I went to GenCon was 1998.  I’d been playing D&D for a year or two with a regular group, and I’d fallen down the rabbit hole that was Magic: the Gathering- all with kids I was already friends with.  My exposure to the stereotypical gamer had been limited to the local comic/hobby stores, so GenCon was a slight shock.  There were plenty of perfectly fine people there, but also plenty of strange.. well..

So there were a lot of incidents of dudes getting bent out of shape over a game, like a child would.  Lots of bad hygeine.  The ratio of women to men seemed maybe 1/4, and the ones that were around always seemed just a little edgy, for good reason.  It was also my first exposure to booth babes, the girls paid to wear chainmail bikinis and attract all manner of creepiness to the vendors.  It was uncomfortable for me in the first place, when they were clearly disinterested in the Con itself, but it was worse watching a lot of guys whose definition of “talking to girls” went no farther than “trying to coerce girls back to the hotel room”.  After a couple of years, it started to improve.  Costuming was becoming more of a thing, there were less booth babes, and more girls in general, and people on the whole seemed better adjusted around other people/genders/inclinations.  And frankly, it got too big not to.

At the time, I really chalked it up to the stereotypical basement-dwelling neckbeard types being, well, real.  To some extent it was.  But after I stopped going to GenCon, I wound up the last couple of years hitting DragonCon with the ex.  She was big into cosplay, and I got a lot of experience with super-creepiness.  She was on the timid side of sociability, and tended to attract a lot of creeps anyway.  So throw sexy costumes into the mix, and often alcohol, and an atmosphere that encourages voyeurism, and you get a LOT of boundary-ignorant people.  It stressed me out immensely; I had to warn off a number of guys who took my presence as “this girl is a prize and I’m your competition”.  Even away from that, walking around and taking pictures I saw a lot of people who seemed to be using their camera as an excuse to harass women.

It’s not just the predatory behavior either, it’s the simple things that stem from the outsider attitude.  When you let your subculture define you, and that subculture grows more open, you feel like your identity is being lost.  You get defensive.  Couple that with unhealthy social skills or attitudes, and you become unpleasant at best and abusive and antagonistic at worst.  Then we wind up with internet bullying and diatribes about fake gamer girls.

Not everyone is a plain bad seed either, a lot of people are just socially ignorant.  That doesn’t excuse any of the above shit though, and sometimes it’s hard to tell the difference between someone just being uncomfortable and awkward and someone about to be an asshole.  It’s bad enough that the culture, which is about sharing shit that we like, is carrying these people with it.  What hits close to home is the gaming in particular, where you’re involved with other people directly.  I grew up with it, I gained many of my closest friends from it, and I don’t like to see it perverted by bullshit.

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Oh hey.

I didn’t abandon ship, although I’m sure I’ve lost the two bots that seem to read this.  There are things in the pipeline.

I had a birthday, and a comission, and an art show, and moved my friend Stacey (again), and saw my friend Christa.  Sadly, that’s twice more that most friends since I’ve moved up here, and she’s in Boston.  But it’s been a relatively busy month.  Also, the Lego movie is even better than I expected.

 

What I really mean to post, though:

Now that the trailer for the 50 Shades of Badly Written “movie” is out, my twitter feed is at least half related to it.  Mostly either people discussing E.L. James’ insecurity and sending her minions to harass detractors, or just how awful/abusive/misrepresentative the book is.  Having never read more than a page or two, I feel my not having read it makes up for all the other schlock I’ve ever read.  All those Babysitter Club books I read when I ran out of books on those 10-hour car trips and the Gameboy batteries died.  Bad D&D novels (lookin’ at you, Salvatore).  Anything I ever read for the cover as a child, especially those A-Team knockoff pulp novels.  Any Dickens book I ever managed to get more than 10 pages into.

All of that seems miles better by comparison.  Without even getting to the plot and its implications, the deconstruction of the prose I’ve read makes me disappointed that even one human being paid money for it.

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Seriously, stop phoning in Transformers opinions.

This week has been full of halfhearted jabs at the Transformers movies.  To illustrate, I didn’t even know why this week all the lukewarm dislike appeared until IMDB told me the fourth one came out.

Well, okay.  I get that people love to hate Michael Bay.  He’s known for big, dumb explosions and cliched action filmwork that’s all SUMMER BLOCKBUSTER and no substance.  People were decrying him before the first one came out.  Look: it’s the fucking Transformers.  It’s  a cartoon from the ’80s about robots that turn into cars.  I know, I loved it as a child.  But as the Star Wars prequels showed us, if the new iteration ruined the old thing for you, you need to grow the fuck up and understand that 7-year-old you saw things differently.

I enjoyed the first Transformers movie.  It was big and dumb, and Optimus Prime turned into a truck, and that’s really all I asked of it.  I didn’t need Oscar-caliber acting or a seamless plot.  I’ll admit the second one was so bad I walked out, but part of that was the quick-cut camera work made it physically unpleasant to watch.  I didn’t care enough to see any more after that, but it doesn’t diminish the cartoon for me at all.

G.I.Joe: Rise of Cobra didn’t tarnish my childhood memories either.  Nor will Bay’s Ninja Turtles thing.  But let’s be honest; the old G.I.Joe and TMNT movies were really fucking bad, and if you go back and watch the shows… also pretty bad.  Both of those, I learned later on, were much better as comic series.  I understand that when something gets rebooted, fans want it to be an improvement.  The thing is, you’ll almost never see that with a feature film, because the production always ends up halfway between a “true to the source” rehash and making something inspired but different, and consequently failing at both.

 

That brings me to the weirder part of this latest batch of opinions.  The nerdrage is less rage than lip service.  Is it because we’ve all resigned ourselves to seeing it anyway but we still feel the need to bitch about it?  Does anyone actually still care enough to spit vitriol after four movies?  Are we all just falling asleep?

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Still here.

Until this year, the world cup has never been on my radar.  I mean this is the US, so understandably most of us don’t give a shit about soccer.  So I don’t know if this is the first time America’s done well there, or if it’s the amount of foreign people who come to my usual bar, or twitter, or if- by some unexplained phenomenon- American’s suddenly decided to care, but I can’t seem to escape it.

Hopefully this’ll be like the Olympics; annoying and overhyped while it’s happening, but almost immediately forgotten the second its over.

 

- Om Eco, the coffee place near me, wants to put my work up.  All because I left my card with one of the baristas, just because she was interested in my drawings.  They’re also looking for kitchen help, so I’ll apply and (seriously, cross your fingers) hopefully get a job.

- I applied to the Clifton Community Arts Center’s local artist show.  Five pieces submitted for $65, which is pricey, but at the moment I’m really down to the end of my savings; it’s kind of a last-ditch thing.

 

 

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My new social media rule.

At this point, I’m more interested in twitter than facebook, and since twitter is largely about meeting new people (rather than keeping ties with people I already know), it doesn’t really apply there.  But facebook…

Between the site itself (which is becoming irrelevant at the same speed that it becomes more intrusive and openly sketchy) and the amount of rhetoric that reaches me (thanks, family and aging peers who never left home), I’m hearing way more bullshit than I need to because it’s not being buried between asinine posts and game requests anymore.

So, from here on out: if you post political memes, parrot talking points, use the phrase “talking points”, use “God” more than once per sentence, or constantly post statements or argue in the comments instead of asking questions and discussing like a rational human being, I will no longer take you seriously in any context.

It’s not about having particular convictions or beliefs, or me disagreeing with your politics or anything else.  It’s about you readily subscribing to some ideology as your identity.  It’s narcisisstic and insecure, and it indicates that you’ve willingly given up your ability as a human being to think and consider for yourself, to empathize, or to compromise with other people.

Let me be clear.  It’s not about your politics or religion.

 

It’s about you being a lazy, willingly ignorant asshole.

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Bits

Rather than go a whole month again, I’ll just recap all the shit that isn’t long enough for its own post.

- I thought I had kidney stones last week.  I had that really uncomfortable twinge feeling for a few hours.  And then…nothing.  Well, no pain, anyway.

- I don’t give a fuck about soccer.  Usually this is not a thing, but apparently in Cinci some people do.  The internet suddenly seems to care.  FUCKIN WURLD CUP!!!!1  It’s a weird place to be.

- I’m struggling with a couple of commissions.  They should be coming along better, but every other day has started turning into mental health day.  Or mental hell day, if you will.  And I feel really fucking guilty about it, which is not helping.

- The Clifton Community Arts Center is having a local art show, which I’m hoping will be a good opportunity.  75 dollar fee for five pieces, but at this point it’s kind of down to the wire.  I still haven’t found a day job.  Not an interview, not a call, nothing.

I’m keeping my fingers crossed.

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#ArtQuestion

I’ve had a few people ask why I don’t post on DeviantArt (and other places).

Well, I have.

I made a profile there way back when it was in beta, and I posted a bunch of work there a couple of years ago.  Much like etsy, I got a decent response five minutes after uploading something.  Then literally after a few minutes, the thing became swallowed by the flood of fanart and tentacles.

Aside from feeling a little weird about being under an umbrella with a billion teenagers drawing shipping pics of anime characters, it just felt too “fine art” to be there.  I’m not a snob about it, my stuff is also too “illustration-y/genre/unpolished” to fit in with fine art as well.  It straddles a line.

And there are plenty of good artists on deviantArt, but most of them work in the digital/photography realm.  With Etsy, I figured out pretty quick that people weren’t going there to buy paintings, they were there to buy t-shirts and ceramics and crafty things.  D.Art was more of a fan/cosplay showroom.  And no, mom- I’m not a woman and I don’t give a shit about fancy cakes or whatever so I’m not going to be on Pinterest.

I know I could concieveably utilize a number of those sites, but that’s a massive timesink for the chance to randomly get a view or two.  It’s much more valuable (and enjoyable) for me to use twitter/FB/actual people in real life to see what I do.

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Breaks

Another rough week.

I set up at the art fair last Saturday, and it rained off and on; I had to pack up early when the rain started coming through the tent.  All total, I sold zero things but half my foot traffic took cards.  Unfortunately, that was three people.  On the upside I have a tent so I can do this fair thing again, and I’ve worked out the logistical issues (displaying loose canvas, etc.) so the next time I’ll be better prepared.

The website is up and updated, but a lot of the thumbnails are broken on the live site even though they work fine on browser test run through the editor.  I still need some help getting it to adjust to phones and tablets and so forth.

I had to take klonopin a couple of times last week, which both put me to sleep and gave me vivid dreams.  The one about Simone really threw me off the whole week; I just couldn’t shake off the emotional residue.

Applied for another cooking job, this one at the bar.  The bartenders like me, and Brianne said she’d put in a good word.  But after a year and a half I’m starting to believe “now hiring” signs are always just a cruel joke and expecting any sort of response is stupid.

We’ll see I guess.

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Neutrality

The pressure to dismantle net-neutrality, particularly in the US, has been growing for several years now.  It may be one of the most important fights that people anywhere have, because allowing ISPs to control the speed of a site’s download by charging money essentially allows them to control internet content, period.  And outside interests- lobbies, groups, the government itself- with enough money or power could easily control those ISPs.

This is a huge step in silencing the internet to everything but commercial purposes; the last real bastion of “free speech”.  The communication of dissent and the sharing of how to navigate and survive a society that has turned capitalism into an uncontrolled beast and our government into an oligarchy could be ended.

No doubt this sounds very conspiracy-theorist, but consider that we’ve spent the last two decades becoming- for good or ill- dependent on the internet for the most basic of services.  I literally haven’t paid taxes through the mail, or picked up any sort of form, or used a paper map in a decade.  And in the same time frame, we’ve seen our rights challenged without recourse, our law enforcement become more fascist and unchecked, and our political leaders become more radical and self-interested.  Now those corporate interests and political leaders are seeing a means to both nickle and dime everyone and keep a firm grip on their position by silencing dangerous ideas.  I’m not alone in that view either, and so many of us have given up that actual ground for lost and retreated to the internet as a free realm.

That’s worth fighting tooth and nail for, because if we lose our voice on the internet, we may not have a voice left at all.

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