Watching the decline...

Tag Archives: Life

Song of the Day

Its been a long, long few months….

Nature Abhors a Vacuum.

We are in a mirror universe version of our own.

With increasing regularity, I wake up in a world I do not recognize. Call it getting older (I just hit the ½ century mark, yay!) or some generational time shift, but something seems…off.

Life, in all its greatness (and there is a lot of just fucking great right now), has its fair share of weirdness and sadness. By my own doing, I’ve isolated myself from some people, insulated myself from their anger and confusion and backed away from the accusatory finger-pointing that I have instigated. In doing so, I have created a world for myself that holds immense pleasure and tranquility as well as an occasional little turbulence. On a small-scale, I can handle that. The world inside and outside has gotten weirder and more beautiful, in equal measure.

If there is one single immutable law of the universe (aside from “nature abhors a vacuum”) it is that nature seeks balance, the universe seeks balance. It may be hard to see because our lifetimes are but small micro-moments to the universe and our perception of that time makes universal blinks seem glacial, but this swift passage of moments is nothing. The world is indifferent to our plights; it could give a rats ass about us and would continue to spin without us. To it, we are utterly meaningless.

We are our gods, imperfect and petty, just like the one(s) we’ve made up. To varying degrees, needing the occasional blood sacrifice to keep our anger at bay. We must create meaning from what we see and do, even if it’s a fart in the wind to the greater part of the “everything else.” We must assign our lives meaning to live out whatever small cosmic purpose we have. It may just be the universe saying “I wonder what would happen if I bent this way, or the equivalent of us pulling wings off flies, legs off grasshoppers and burning ants, just to see what happens.  Maybe all the strife, the war and the threat of annihilation is just the universes attempt at cat/cow.

This universe, this version of the multiverse though, from this ant’s perspective, is well and truly fucked up. Is it balancing to have, in rapid succession the embodiment of a calming balm on humanity followed by a raging, scab tearing, bitter man-baby? Is it possible that this course correction is a live act cautionary tale of what happens when we neglect to properly note our human progress and revert to animatistic tribes?

I kind of wonder if other people are feeling this too. Are we who are in one respect so insignificant, affected by the higher universes volatility? Are not the smallest of cells a part of the functioning of the more substantial whole? If the universe flexes, don’t we bend, just a little?

Hindsight is a bitch, but it’s also only 20/20 through our eyes. There is, there are things that happen, without question, in this world that are absolute. I’m not talking about the reasons things happen, just the things themselves, the action or event. The slight wave of angst flowing through the world has to be the result of something else, some tiny tear in time/space or a 1000-foot butterfly on some distant exoplanet drying out its new wings. Some reason the world is vibrating like the distorted image of a summer mirage. Some fucking reason this beautiful life is sometimes simultaneously so fucking ugly.

I guess this is why we have gods because not having them makes these questions way too hard to answer or in some cases, to even live with.

We, like nature, abhor vacuums.

The Case for “All Lives Matter”

Edited on 10/12/17 because the first time around I just don’t give a f***!

Edited 9/8/17 because brought to you by the letter “M.”

Edited (yet again) on 8/10/2018 for a few misplaced (s)s and slightly augmented wording.

Can we re-purpose a reactionary frame?

Can we take something not quite patently offensive, but triggering and reshape it to mean something that can unite rather than divide? Can a community of people, who already feel burdened with the explainer role, manage again to unify under something they mainly feel is a bastardization and outright insult to the movement they identify with?

If we’ve learned anything from the election of Donald Trump, we should take away this, using the language of the oppressed to claim oppression works, but can the opposite work as well.

When I’d seen the statement “All Lives Matter” in response to BLM, I cringed. I knew it was a reactionary, angry, reflexive response to a needed if not fully appreciated movement. It angered me that people who know better should have understood that killing an unarmed member of any community should be denounced, that people who should know that there is a disparity between the way young Black men are seen and treated in our society, and the way young white men are treated. That Black Lives Matter, of course, wasn’t a statement of exclusivity but one of defense. That the implication that ONLY Black Lives Matter was NOT part of this declaration, nor was the implication that Black Lives Matter MORE, but it was merely that Black Lives Matter AS WELL.

There is much to be said about how we got here, much hand wringing to be done about how history had drawn a clear line to this moment and how forces, both seen and unseen have forced these confrontations.

For context, I suggest reading some of the books on slavery or civil rights or some of the more inclusive books on American history A People’s History of the United States by Howard Zinn is a good place to start.

I’m not getting into context here, it’s too obvious to me and would distract from my point. Plus, I believe we should all be more responsible for exposing ourselves to the context of the history of the country of which we so effulgently pronounce our love.

One of the things I have learned about messaging is that sometimes to do it effectively; you have to give up some deeply held preconceptions. You have to resort to some to the tricks of the oppressor, if you will, and one-up them by playing their game. There are limits to this, of course, but within those limits is where progress can be potentially made.

Appropriation is a hot-button term. It evoked Native headdresses or kente cloth; it evokes everything from girls in yoga pants to Rachel Dolezal.

It doesn’t deserve the reputation it has. Appropriation is, in some cases, the same thing as acceptance, it is the brother or sister or transgendered, polyamorous, biracial neighbor of cultural assimilation. McDonald’s appropriated images of Black families in print ads to appeal to the people it was trying to sell burgers to, advertising, in general, appropriates members of audiences it wants to reach, and this is often called “inclusion.”

My feelings are half and half. Half of me welcomes the representation because it brings visibility and half of me knows the motivation is to sell a product. In many cases, even this gives a certain amount of arrival cred but still begs the motivation question. Yet, for whatever reason, it’s better to be seen in a positive light than a negative one, though it can be argued that this isn’t all that positive:

but is was certainly better than this:

Appropriation can be a gateway to conversation and understanding, or it can be a gross misuse of a symbolic cultural totem. I think its time for us to use the poseur of appropriation on the All Lives Matter crowd.

It makes sense that reactionary forces would seize on an approximation of a statement that virtually says the same thing. In this era of lack of imagination, lack of the ability to see things in shades of grey, and lack of connection across lines of partisanship, we have been unable to ask each other, “so what exactly do you mean by that?’ instead of reflexively attacking each other over our perception of that meaning.

So let’s start out by saying that all lives do matter. Black, White, Mexican, Gay, Straight, tall and short, cis, queer, nongender specific, Cops who occupy all of the other identities as well and are both sheltered and wrongly maligned, we can even go as radically far as to say that plants, animals….all life is important. The human variety is where we’ll focus for the moment though, let’s just say that all human experience is valuable.

Now we can get into a little trouble here in our appropriation as we often do when trying to be inclusive, how far is too far? So if the whole point of this is a marketing strategy (and make no mistake, the most efficient way to convey this message is through that means), who is the intended audience?

Assuming the target audience is the former Obama voting Trump devotee, a person who, right or wrong, thinks he is now in the minority, who assumes that being white has somehow become a liability, despite all evidence to the contrary, and now feels he must pull back into an enclave of reactionary juxtaposition. We aren’t going for the 1% White Lives Matter crowd, they are lost and never wanted to be a part of this new America anyway. Calling out the hypocritical other and also the people who genuinely don’t understand why All Lives Matter is such a divisive statement by appropriating the tag is a tact worth pursuing.

Re-branding as All Lives Matter, re-purposing with inclusion in mind of the people of all races that have been discounted and ignored, bringing in law enforcement of all races to have a dialog about how people are not treated equally and to what degree. Actually TALKING to each other about these vital issues under a moniker that doesn’t seem to exclude.

Maybe All Lives Matter can be a vital starting point to challenge the notion that they do conceptually and working on how they can actually.

Taking advantage of the short memories of Americans to change things in the long-term may be sneaky, but it can also be useful. From a marketing standpoint, it would be as brilliant a coup as turning a brand that had been wrongly associated with Nazi Germany into a brand that appeals to the Spanish-speaking among us.

In the world of spin, anything is possible.

 

 

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Ever So Slightly Sidetracked

Life is punching me in the nethers at the moment, so they’ll be no posts of any great length for a while. Not that it matters.

This Is Normal (unfortunately)

A few facts for anyone attempting to normalize what happened in Charlottesville by believing that all sides are truly to blame for the provocation of violence.

This is normal for our country. White Nationalism and White Supremacy are deeply ingrained in our culture. If you are a woman and you are trying to justify the violence by spreading the misinformed belief (peddled largely by the alt-right and its ilk) that somehow Antifa or BLM are racist organizations you should certainly read some of what these men write about you. Wehuntedthemamoth.com is a good place to start.

 

Racial violence has been perpetuated not only on people of color but their allies and friends as well. Homophobic beliefs are also part and parcel of these peoples agenda, so if you have any gay friends, they could be, have been and possibly will be targets of this hatred as well.

 

Oh and if you have any African American, Jewish, Latino or Arab friends or relatives, they hate not only them, but you as well because, by mere association, you are a race traitor and belong in the ovens with the rest of us.

 

I understand you feel that you’ve been victimized, marginalized and ignored. Instead of believing that you are the only ones and that your “people” don’t receive a fair shake, do some research, talk to anyone who has experienced an ism’ first hand and try to commiserate with your own experience. Again, if you are a woman, you should understand the feeling of being constantly on edge in certain situations and men’s eyes on you and the clear and present threat of sexual violence many of you have come to know firsthand.

 

These men have much the same mentality of privilege with people of color and individuals who are LGBTQ as they take with your body and your sexuality. The double standard applied to women’s sexuality the assumption that if you behave a certain way and dress a certain way or just are, is very similar to the assumption that because of the color of your skin or who you love, you are innately inferior.

 

The left/right dichotomy is a false one. It is nothing but a smokescreen to obscure the truth that anyone who, as their core belief, feels superior to others for some cultural, ethnic or racial reason will see the other is subhuman and therefore as you’d put an animal down, so they would a member of that group too.

 

We need to stop lying to each other and ourselves and realize that the strain of violence that is rising in this country has its roots in the belief that a group of people are culturally or racially superior to another group. We also need to stop lying to ourselves that this violence has not been at the very least been ignored and in many cases encouraged by a president whose ideological underpinnings are loose at best, as the wind blows at most. We need to stop lying to ourselves that our words and actions have nothing to do with the words and actions of others and we need to stop lying to ourselves that they and we are not a part of the same indoctrinate culture.

 

This is going to get worse, much, much worse before it gets better.

The Con / Try

Edited on 8/11 for comma exploitation and a sentence of clarification.

 

Geekly (and confessional) Stuff Ahead: You Have Been Forewarned!

For the past few years (5 maybe 6?) I’ve attended the local fandom convention.

The first year it was a revelation, the kids and the smattering of adults, formed a community of people gathered primarily because of a love for Anime, Sci Fi, Horror and Video Games and secondarily because we were all misfits. All consigned to a bin that contained every aspect of what we found appealing, a bin that was often, in wider circles was left on the curb, rejected by even the garbage man.

Those first years were strange and beautiful, full of unexpected camaraderie and kid-in-a-candy-store glee. One year an impromptu dance party in front of the sword vendor broke out, and I witnessed one of those rare moments of perfect chaos. As Daft Punk’s “Get Lucky”  played through a boom box the vendor set up a crowd of cosplayers, mashing together various weird and wonderful takes on genres, gyrated, stumbled and displayed many different levels of dexterity, and no one stood in judgment.

There was an unabashed sense of joy in that, dancing like no one was watching, and that entire weekend was that, joyful. It was the apex of that experience.

In the last few years, some moments came close, seeing George Takei, watching Nana Visitor and Michael Dorn banter on about DS9, listening to Dorn talk about flying with the Blue Angels…but nothing as sublime as an impromptu outbreak of dance. That moment expressed the joy of being surrounded by a bunch of weirdos where I felt I belonged.

In subsequent years the Con has gotten bigger, expanded beyond the confines of the convention center, tried various configurations and scheduling arrangements and failed or succeeded at all. But it just isn’t the same anymore.

Perhaps I’ve just grown out of it, or maybe my life circumstances have changed enough to warrant feeling a bit too old for the proceedings. Maybe it changed, or maybe as many relationships do, we’ve grown apart. Maybe we just need some distance, a break perhaps.

I love the idea of being surrounded by people who may have only one voluntary thing in common, but that thing is so compelling that it ties them together as no involuntary thing can. I love that because we are all geeks of some sort, we find ourselves, regardless of age or any other factor, able to dress like someone or something that doesn’t exist. I love that people who would otherwise be feeling very much alone, get to feel a part of a group of people who often feel the same.

This year lacked something though; it lacked my attention. I was elsewhere for a large part of the Con, I didn’t want to be fully there, and that translated to me not being fully present. I was lost in some internal drama that was largely of my making.

Which leads me to the next thought.

I am not the best communicator in my personal life. I have realized that in many of my closest relationships I retreat into a state of CYA (cover your ass). It stems from a few things that I’ve been born into but it comes from a distinct place of fear. Fear of missing out, fear of making people angry with me, fear of abandonment and fear of being unlovable. All of these swirl and combine with all the bad stuff I’ve let myself become to make for a terrible mix sometimes.

I wait until the last-minute to avoid the confrontation I bring on myself. I have a hard time being honest about being frank with myself and therefore others, and I sometimes confuse the right thing with the best thing to do in any given situation. Sometimes I know what exactly none of that means.

I’m trying to be honest now. Honesty isn’t just telling the truth of the moment but telling the truth period. Not trying to play one off another and not trying to be everyone’s friend, not lying about my foreknowledge of things and then hoping they’ll not work out as shittily as I know they will.

My enjoyment of my life, the Con, my loved ones and myself are at stake. Honestly, I don’t know what else to do but try.

On Approval

Edited on 8/8 for glaringly obvious typos.

Have we just become a bunch of approval seeking heroin rats? Are we so wrapped up in other people’s lives that we forget to have our own? Why are we so able to share the intimate details of our lives with relative strangers on Social Media yet can barely look each other in the eye on the street.

We are so focused on getting our opinions across and our relationships “approved” that sometimes we forget the reasons we have relationships and beliefs in the first place. I love the people in my life, and I love to share them with my wider circle of friends but not at the expense of my relationships with them. I’d much rather have a relationship than the appearance of one.

Through trial and loads of error, I’ve learned that there are some pretty standard principals for governing yourself, and your image, online. I try my best to adhere to them as closely as life and occasional emotional upheavals, allow. Use what you find useful, discard what you don’t.

Love and Relationships:

If you want to share a happy moment, please do so, you shouldn’t have to worry about who’s watching, but if your “sharing” is covering up a flaw in your relationship, or worse, causing one, promptly stop. I have someone in my life currently whom I adore, no pictures of us exist online together. Not to say that they never will, but for the moment we are not on social media as a couple. This is a mutual choice. It is one that not only protects our relationship, but also our relationships with the rest of the world as individuals. Friends who know us as a couple see the hints, others just see us as people.

Politics, Loss and Assorted Other Opinions:

I’ve contemplated leaving, Facebook, in particular, sometimes, usually when the loud opinions of a few people drown out he animal videos, kitten pictures and real life cries for help from people I care about that need answering.

When someone loses someone they love, or a national event requires a collective sense of empathy that platform is a wonderful way to feel cared for and a bit less lonely, it’s no substitute for real arms and real tears, but it is a comfort.

When we suffer depression or a disease, this format is a perfect place to feel less alone in that, but it isn’t a replacement for a real ear or a real shoulder.

When the needs of a few people to be the center of attention crowd out the compassion (in my feed it’s not usually my friends, but THIER friends who do this), I seriously think of cutting the cord. Life is too short, don’t worry about other people’s happiness unless you intend on sharing it. And if you plan on sharing, do so with an understanding of the potential consequences, try to be gentle. People will be looking from the outside in, exes and friends who disagree with you. Unless you are passive aggressively trying to sever those connections, be understanding of how they feel or make it explicit that there will be something following that might hurt or offend. In other words, try to play as fair as you can.

Reactions to all of the Above:

Life is also too short to worry about people’s petty hatred. Sometimes the most reasonable argument can seem like a torch to a powder keg, or the slightest mention of a new relationship can be (of course) painful, but that is the cost of keeping oneself out on social media.

Don’t let anyone else’s fears and anger get you down and don’t believe that every single smiling face doesn’t have its share of pain.

Ultimately we present the face we want the world to see, in my case I’m living the vast majority of my life offline now. Life isn’t perfect, but it is damn good.

Bring On the Whiny Liberals

Edited on 8/3 for horrible misspellings.

I like reserving judgment in all but the worst circumstances. Artistic endeavors especially require a delicate and deliberate middle of the road approach.

Watching Jericho, for example. I knew of the shows obvious right of center bent, and it didn’t diminish my enjoyment of it one bit. I didn’t feel that it was shoving any ideology down my throat, even when the Republic of Texas was the hero figure, because the story was so engrossing and the acting (save Mr. Ulrich who was at best passable, at worst incomprehensibly ticky) was great. despite or maybe because of his well-known conservatism I love Gerald McRaney, he reminds me fondly of my ex’s dad, and that association humanizes him beyond a political label.

Lately, though, many of my fellow lefties have become so amazingly, insufferably, annoyingly reflexive, that I sometimes feel the need for a new language because the Liberal tag seems more and more like a self-inflicted gunshot wound to the head than a badge of reasonable honor.

The reaction to the proposed alternate reality show “Confederate” is one example of an illiberal dousing of a completely fascinating premise (what if the North and South fought to a stalemate and slavery became a institutional part of half our American identity).

This show could be an amazingly rich and disturbing look through “what if” allegory at how little we’ve progressed about race in this country. Of course, it wouldn’t treat racism kindly, what we know about human bondage now would inform the narrative, shape the dialog and create a space for allegory that could be so deeply mined.

Not if the whiny among us have their way.

Let me retreat a bit…

Charles Murray
Milo Yiannopoulos

Usually, I wouldn’t put these two people in the same post, nor think about them in the same context, one is a beleaguered but respected researcher the other a provocateur “journalist” who’s contradictions are so legion he’s incredibly hard to take seriously. Both, however, are proving to be unmistakable examples of actual liberal fascism. Yep, I said it.

There used to be a rule in more liberal circles, and honestly just civil society, that said that regardless of how outrageous and sensational what you had to say was, it should be at least heard.

So, okay, that part is bullshit.

That time never fully existed.

There were fights in Congress, speakers were shouted down, and crowds never behaved in ways we think they did, but my view as a Progressive, Lefty, Liberal etc. et.al. whatever has been that as open-minded individuals who are ideologically inclined to share equally heart and head and argue passionately yet logically would allow even the most heinous speaker his or her due platform.

How we can claim to be liberal-minded and not accept the difference of opinions of other without reading their books or hearing them out astounds me. I am guilty of this as much as anyone else. I have often made opinions of things that had no basis in fact, I have allowed the crowd to determine my feelings about a book or a film without ever having seen it, I have held biases against people I do not know and would never condescend to know, I have been judgmental and prejudiced in my assessment of cultures I have not tried to understand.

I’m sympathetic to people from other countries but not to those living in the borders of my own. I am guilty of feeling like people who live in the “flyover states” are backward and inherently racist.

Some of these things may be, and probably are, true, but why are the assignments made before the exposure? Do they assume that my educated black ass feels somehow superior to them? And why, in some cases are they right. Yes, deep-seated racial, sexual, cultural and regional dynamics play a role and make these biases and divisions a deeper crevasse, than they otherwise would be. I know the history of division and the use of racial tropes that the powers that be have always used to fracture bonds that make more sense than not. But why do either of us pre-define each other before ever setting foot on the same ground?

I firmly disagree ideologically with many folks on the right, vehemently, but why? I got sucked into the Manosphere and still subscribe to the mailing lists of at least three of the sites I’d frequented years ago. I look for dynamics that define the person behind the words and recognize that even in Mein Kampf there is something to be learned about struggle, oppression and the view of them through the distorted and diseased lesions over jaundiced eyes, but up until recently I’d never read it. Same, to a lesser degree, with The Bell Curve, which I am reading (albeit slowly) now.

I’ve slammed the book and its author(s) before without really having heard their story. I assumed its purpose was not to advocate, in a traditionally conservative way, for the restructuring or abolishment of academic inclusion policies and social welfare programs, but that it was arguing similarly to my other example, that one “race” is superior or inferior to another and therefore did not deserve help, let alone inclusion.

When you meet someone or hear their voice, they are humanized, by default. Our brains have reactions to certain characteristics in meeting people on a playing field we recognize. Hearing Mr. Murray speak on Sam Harris’ Waking Up podcast was eye-opening in this respect. Although I don’t agree with the conclusions and still feel that the onus and political motivations played a part in the furor, the man seems far from the racist bogeyman he’s been portrayed as. I encourage you to listen to the entire podcast with an open mind and feel free to disagree with the premise and the conclusions but do not miss the salient points made in the margins. The end of the conversation when Murray’s latest book is touched upon is especially relevant and enlightening.

Through the wearing of ideological labels, we have cut ourselves off from opposing opinions and the facts they are based upon. As a good friend of mine told me on a recent visit, he no longer discusses politics with many friends because it’s all about the way you look at things and where you are. So why should it not be about learning where THEY are from and how THEY look at things? Who THEY are.

Yes, there are things that I find unacceptable, that will never penetrate my liberal defenses. Having a protective shin of ideology isn’t always a bad thing. My liberalism doesn’t let baseless claims about superiority and inferiority get through. But it does let me consider uncomfortable propositions. It does not let me lose sight of the fact that behind every label we put on ourselves and each other we are still human beings with a lifetime of experiences that make us who we are. My Liberal underpinnings are both shield and filter in these ways.

Hiding behind a moniker, an ideology that denies you hearing anything you might otherwise let through the filter sitting across the table from another human being is one, Liberal or Conservative, that does no one any good.

Disavowing the artistic creation of a show about a timeline gone awry is the same as crying foul when a female comics editor posts an innocuous picture because the SJWs have taken over everything. Illiberal behavior is illiberal behavior, even when and especially if, it comes out of the mouth or hand of someone claiming to be Liberal.

We can have a plethora of ideas about a plethora of opinions in a way that allows us to see the world from a different perspective. Not allowing a person to speak, or trying to force a show not to air even before the words have been read or the show has been produced is a dangerous form of thought control. It is being practiced not just on the radical right but on the left as well, and it’s sad in either case. It’s more than sad; it’s dangerously fascist.

 

 

Time Flies

Many years ago I was in a car with my uncle and aunt, my uncle has this way of awkwardly pressing down and letting up on the gas and it was silently annoying everyone in the car. Atypical of Black families in the 80’s, we were on our way north to go skiing. My uncle, a corporate lawyer for an insurance company, made decent money but always lived modestly. His skis were used, as were the poles and all the other accoutrements, not because he was afraid of making an investment in something that he may or may not be sticking with but simply because he was thrifty.

The not so gentle rocking of the accelerator notwithstanding, it was exciting to be going and doing this thing that even some of my more solidly middle class white friends had yet to do. It was a small coup to have an accomplished member of the family, who spoke eloquently about politics and culture be my entre into this very white world.

And then there was my aunt. We had a history of getting along and then not, of sparring over petty things and being able to have many of the same conversations in the same animated and intelligent fashion. Auntie was an enigma in many ways. A hypochondriacally, mercurial woman who in many ways always felt like she needed to play a perpetual game of catch up with the world. She’s both infuriating and gentle, poised and clumsy and sometimes all of the above.  She is also dying.

As suddenly as some things seem to come on, this one truly seemed sudden.

Other family members were with her as she went in for her initial surgery, an unrelated thyroid procedure, and said she’d been so happy and full of life afterwards even with the cancer diagnosis.  That was short lived.

I visited her last night after my mother called me and said she wasn’t doing well. I found her lying on her side almost motionless and only able to respond by opening her eyes slightly and making short barely distinguishable vocalizations. My son and I sat with her for a few minutes, trying to say what we could, the last few I love you’s and thank you’s she’d likely ever hear from us, and then we left.

Regret is a feeling I’m familiar with. I feel the same regret I did when my grandmother passed away when I was in college. Regret that I hadn’t been more attentive, more THERE, more aware. Regret that I had my head so far up my own ass that I couldn’t see that there isn’t always another holiday or another barbeque or another…. Regret that I didn’t make that swing by that I promised for weeks and weeks….

There is never enough time. And that knowledge can drive us to do things that seem stupid and impulsive but at the same time also lead us to other things, better and more fulfilling ones. Ignoring what is directly in front of you should never be one of those choices. It takes a moment to redirect your route, leave a few minutes early or simply call, not doing so leaves the door open to regret.

The time between our ski trips and now feels like an eternity, and in a way it is, but now, with regret in the middle, the time between last week and today feels like forever as well.

In some cases, Time flies only if you let it go.

Yeah, this one really sucks.

Really, really.

I Woke to Find Everything Vanished, and I Smiled a Little

I’m finding myself again in a particular state of consternation over other’s expectations of me. Everyone seems to have an idea as to what I should be doing and how I should be doing it.  People who don’t seem to realize that I’ve done and continue to do my level best to fulfill my obligations to them keep demanding more, so much so that this stone is about out of blood.

I’m looking down the road to a potentially major life change that will affect all my relationships going forward. When I mentioned this potential to a certain parental figure I got a disinterested sigh and a couple of self-serving questions about relocation, then there was a call telling me to do something that I’d been doing more of anyway. Yeah, I couldn’t be vaguer.

So in the past two weeks, I’ve received calls, text messages and email imploring me to take up some forgotten task or fulfill some unfinished obligation or to chide me for some life choice that someone else close to me does not agree with. It seems to have spread to my work life as well, as one of my coworkers had the nerve to, without irony (she’s a talker), tell me that leaving early one day “fucks the rest of us.” Unironically because she does about as much talking as she does work, more likely more of the former than the latter, every single shift she’s on.  She also has no idea who I am or how much I work. Assuming your small window into a relative stranger’s world shows you the entire picture is a sin punishable by a hearty “fuck you!”

So yeah, this is a bitching post, so let us get right to the bitching, shall we?

I’m wholly sick and fucking tired of everyone asking still more of me than I already give. Whether it be assuming small financial obligations out of the kindness of my heart or giving my attention to someone else instead of them, I’m done with being motivated by the expectations of others. So many people in my life live in their own little bubbles, surrounded by the comforts I’ve provided and have grown entitled because of them. They feel entitled to be rude to me, demand attention of me, and request of me things that I have no capacity to give at the moment, all while ignoring the things I’ve asked of them.

The very worst part of this is that all but one person in my life (two actually, but he’s always been appreciative of me) at the moment does not regularly say thank you for what I do continue to provide unless prompted to do so,  unsurprisingly, she is the person who gets the majority of my limited free time and attention. She is also the given or implied reason why the rest of them are so damn unappreciative.

Let me say this, I’ve learned about myself one thing. If you offer me appreciation for what I do, I will return in kind. If you continually complain about what I’m NOT doing, it won’t end well.  I’ve lost my tolerance for others putting their needs above mine and now my needs come first, unequivocally. I’m not looking for my ass to be kissed, but when I’ve done any of the things I’ve alluded to above, don’t take that shit for granted. It’s a sure way to get told to go to hell when you need something from me and fail to ask in a way that does not indicate you have a total lack of self-awareness.

At some point in everyone’s life, they realize that a turning of priorities may be in order. They fumble over what that means and sometimes actually come across something that works to better their outlook, enhance who they are and create joy in their lives in the most simple way. It could be a person, a job, a new point of view or any combination but when they do come they change who we are.

Reviewing one’s life you can see catalytic patterns. Times when one event leads, directly or indirectly, to another, and that to yet another still. Yes, there are choices in-between that move those patterns forward in the direction hindsight reveals, but there are often direct lines from a to b that reveal themselves as time goes on.

Hence the title.

When I wake up throughout the day, in the examination mode of memory and contemplation, I see these paths like routes on a map. There are arteries behind me that vanish, paths not taken, roads left behind never to be visited again, ahead there are splits that lead to other splits, that lead to still others. Not quite the infinite paths we like to believe there are, but as infinite as our little brains can handle. Infinite enough to know that even if we chart a course, the wind or a landslide will deviate us at least once. As our past disappears into memory and the present is lived in every moment, we only have so much say, only so many fucks to give.

I’m choosing mine wisely, with intention, giving attention to the things that I choose first and then allowing the rest to intrude when I will it. It’s the only semblance of control we have, and even if it is an illusion, I’ll take it.

For now, here are some general thoughts:

There is more than one way to love, live and leave.

I am not your world unless I say I am. And even if I do, not always, and not forever if you don’t hold up your end of the bargain.

I may love you, but I don’t owe you shit.

I choose what’s important to me, I’m not even slightly sorry If you can’t handle that.

Do not assume that you are at the top of my priority list unless I explicitly say so.

Do not EVER take me for granted.

Finally: Don’t be so fucking vain, this song is only partially about you, whoever you are.

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