It Isn’t Raining

It Isn’t Raining

She’s there at the bottom of the lake
The mother I never had
Waiting for me to join her
Waiting for me to hold her
Like she could have held me back then

He’s hiding in the cavern
The father I dreamt of loving
Waiting for me to kiss him
Waiting for me to lay in his lap
To keep me warm the way he never did

When I needed so much
I faced the wall and said not a thing
Cause what could I say
What good does it do to beg fate
For things it never gave you

It isn’t raining, but I wish it were
I’m not crying but I wish I was
The human capacity for suffering
Is really something, isn’t it?
How many days you can wake up and do nothing
And keep on getting up again tomorrow
When there’s nothing to do but jerk off and read
When there’s nothing to feel but a hot biting need
When the sugar in your blood has grown too sweet
So you can’t even feel both your feet
And the way your body gives up just served to remind me
In the end everyone leaves me behind

I said I’d be nothing like you
But a prescription and a street drug are points of view
And my feet won’t stay awake
So the handsome European man gives me more pills to take

It’s not raining but I could use it
Time isn’t real until you lose it
I wish I were anyone else but this
And it’s here that I lie
And it’s here that I’ll die
I wish I could be a rain cloud in the sky

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Cancelling Pro Jared Was A Mistake

Welcome back, ladies and gentlemen, to the hellscape of existence that is life in 2019, particularly as it pertains to existing on the internet. Today we’re going to talk about online drama, “cancel culture,” and the people who get caught in the crossfire.Let me catch you up to speed.

So for those of you who don’t know, Pro Jared is a Youtuber known for doing video game reviews, particularly reviews of RPGs like Final Fantasy or action adventure games like Legend of Zelda. One of my favorite genres of Youtube video are long-form reviews, particularly about video games, so I’ve seen Jared around before but honestly I never binge watched his videos or anything, just occassionally watched some of his Final Fantasy reviews. I didn’t know too much about him, honestly, just that he was one of those guys on Youtube who rants about games, but at least he’s not one of the Angry Video Game Nerd knockoffs who make a show of being enraged by games in an effort to be… erm, funny, I guess you could call it.

But I digress.

Earlier this year, in May of 2019, there was a sudden waterfall of allegations against Jared. The first thing that happened was that his wife, a professional cosplayer named Heidi, announced via Twitter that she was leaving him. She apparently didn’t bother to tell him, just announced it on Twitter and blocked him. So right away, we have some idea of what kind of person she is, but let’s not get into that just yet. After that, there was a sudden barrage of people coming forward to say that Jared had had inappropriate sexual conversations with them, some of these people being underage at the time of the conversations (and we’ll come back to that, too). Even more damning were screenshots from several people of the sexual conversations they’d had with Jared, and people who’d subscribed to a private Snapchat account run by Jared, in which he was sharing nude pictures.

Now, I could pretend that I became interested in this situation out of concerned curiosity for all parties involved, but I’ll be honest with you: I’m a bit of a pervert and I was just curious about what Jared’s dick looked like. For the record, it’s fine. It isn’t my place to comment on it, but it’s a nice dick, and that’s all I’ll say about that. At any rate, while I was poking around Twitter and Reddit I also saw the screenshots of conversations he’d had, and to be hones they looked pretty damning. I don’t know much about Jared and I knew absolutely nothing about his wife Heidi before this (being a gay nerd who lives in a bubble I don’t have much need to follow hot cosplay girls on Twitter), so it was difficult to piece together a narrative of exactly what happened.

As far as I can tell, it seems that Jared and Heidi had a tumultuous relationship and that at some point they talked about opening their relationship or becoming polyamorous. It’s unclear who’s telling the truth about what, but what did happen is that Jared received a lot of messages from horny fans who wanted to get sexual with him, and he created a second Tumblr account specifically for this, with caveats posted that it was only intended for people ages 18 and up. At some point, his Tumblr account was hacked and everything he had was lost or deleted. It’s during this time before his Tumblr was hacked that two underage people, both named Charlie, allege that there were sexual messages sent between themselves and Jared.

So, shit hit the fan pretty hard, pretty fast.

The company Jared worked for, Normal Boots, issued a statement saying that he was no longer affiliated with them. People at the time all assumed he was fired but we know now that he chose to step down in order to prevent other members of Normal Boots getting caught in the line of fire.

And the fire was bad. I only saw glimpses of what was going on, but it was utter chaos. The moderators of Pro Jared’s official Subreddit removed him as a moderator and then turned the entire thing into one big dumpster fire attacking Jared, making jokes memes about him, and generally mocking, jeering, and behaving like animals.

Now, it’s a little understandable, in a way, isn’t it? If you hear credible rumors that someone is a sexual predator of some kind, you might take joy in cancelling them, in derailing their careers, in standing up for people they victimized.

The thing is, there was almost no response whatsoever from Jared. He issued a response on Twitter basically refuting all of the allegations made against him and gave a very measured plea for people to reserve their judgement until they’d heard all sides. And then he went radio silent for months.

A few weeks ago, he came back to YouTube with a 45-minute video detailing his experience over the past few months and specifically refuting the claims made against him.

And I have to say, he makes a pretty good case for himself.

Now the thing about the video is that it’s clear he’s choosing his words very carefully. I’m guessing he probably ran the script for the video by his lawyer before filming, and it’s clear that he put a lot of consideration into what he has to say. Because of that, the video does come across feeling a little TOO manufactured, and he doesn’t seem like a guy trying to really talk to you, but like a guy reading a prepared statement. However, he IS a guy reading a prepared statement, and understandably so, so I can’t exactly fault him for that.

He addresses a few points.

Firstly, that he did have sexual conversations with fans, and he did send them dick pics and receive pictures from them, and that he made it known from the outset that he was only willing to do this with other consenting adults. He very rightly says that what any two consenting adults choose to do is between them and it isn’t anyone else’s place to judge them. He acknowledges though that there may have been a power dynamic at play he hadn’t seen coming: he’s a famous Youtuber and an internet celebrity, so even with the best of intentions, he automatically holds some power over people he’s being sexual with, even if they are consenting adults. He admits that there is a power dynamic there he hadn’t considered and apologizes to anyone who felt they were manipulated by that dynamic into doing something they might not otherwise be comfortable with.

Then he addresses the serious allegations, which are the claims from the two Charlies that he knowingly solicited nudes from them and sent nudes to them after he learned they were underage. He first tackles the argument from the Charlie who lives in the UK, referred to as Chai so as not to get too confusing. Chai says that he sexted with Jared sometime in May of 2016, before Jared’s Tumblr was hacked, but he provides no screenshots and no other corroborating evidence apart from his word that it happened. Jared points out that without any evidence, it’s just Chai’s word against his, but then he does point to something very interesting.

Chai wrote an article for a website discussing his experience with suffering a head injury near the end of 2015, which resulted in Chai being hospitalized for months, during which time he was sleeping for the majority of the day, and after which he developed issues with psychosis, delusions, hallucinations, and short term as well as long term memory loss. Chai claimed the exchange with Jared happened during May of 2016, during which time, by Chai’s own admission, he was spending his days and nights in the hospital, and when he wasn’t hospitalized he was suffering from delusions and memory loss. Chai’s motives also become murkier when you consider the fact that he has his own Tumblr blog in which he writes erotica about Youtubers, specifically gaming Youtubers like Jared and the Game Grumps, and appears to have vivid sexual fantasies about them (no shame on him for having sexual fantasies, just that in context it seems convenient, right?)

The second accuser is named Charlie, and because Jared went out of his way to refer to them with non-gendered pronouns I’ll assume they’re non-binary and do the same. Charlie actually included screenshots of their conversation with Jared, however Jared very quickly knocks down Charlie’s entire argument by showing the full unedited version of the screenshots which clearly show that at the beginning of the conversation, Jared asked point blank if Charlie was 18 or older, and Charlie not only agreed, but also made a point of saying “Oh yeah of course, I wouldn’t be asking for nudes if I wasn’t, that’s messed up.” Jared points out that after Charlie started getting questioned about his experience, he immediately began to backpedal his accusation by saying “I never said he knew I was underage, just that he was coercing me” or something like that, and openly begins contradicting himself as soon as his narrative is questioned.

Jared also points out that both of the accusers put up links to their Paypal, Amazon Wishlists, and in Charlie’s case, art commission page, on their Twitter as soon as they started to garner attention. They’ve also both deleted the tweets in which they accused Jared of coercing them while they were underage. Jared asks, why would they bother to do this if they were lying?

I have to admit, Jared’s defense of himself makes a lot of sense. He very rightfully points out that since his Tumblr was hacked by someone looking to do the most damage possible to him, and they had access to his chat logs and all of his personal information, why didn’t the hacker leak any of the conversations with underage people? Probably because it didn’t happen in the first place.

Again, Jared’s defense, it feels a little forced in places. Clearly the man is under a ton of stress and he can only be expected to be so calm, but as I was listening to the way he spoke, I thought to myself “If I were in his position, and I were accused of something that I knew I’d done, and I were going to lie to try and defend myself, is this the way I would sound?” Well, yeah, I think it is. We’ve all had the experience of lying that we didn’t do something when we know very well that we did it, and that was the way he sounded to me. I felt an inherent gut feeling of suspicion toward what he was saying.

Here’s the thing: I never WANTED the accusations to be true. I don’t think any good person DOES want these things to be true (a lot of people DID want them to be true but we’ll circle back around to that). But I have to listen to my instinct and ask, “Do I think he’s telling the truth?” Well… it’s hard to know. I will say that I felt a little reassured by the fact that his video has a huge like-to-dislike ratio skewed toward likes, and that the majority of comments on his Twitter and YouTube channel are supportive. I know that this is just relying on POSITIVE mob mentality rather than NEGATIVE mob mentality, but there is a sense that, well, if his argument were so flimsy then someone else would have pointed it out by now, right?

I’m sorry if I’m sounding a little confused right now, but the truth is that I am. I don’t WANT to believe Jared did the thing he’s accused of doing. But if he did, then he did it, and no amount of wanting it not to have happened is going to change that. But the evidence certainly does seem to favor his version of the story.

We’ve all heard the saying that there are three sides to every story: your side, my side, and the truth. I want to believe that the truth is that Jared was a guy in a failing marriage who wanted out, and who longed for companionship and sexual fulfillment, so he started a Tumblr blog for the purpose of being sexual with other like-minded adults and ended up jerking off to nudes from fans in order to feel some kind of fulfillment. I don’t think that’s some kind of impeachable offense. There’s a lot of sex-negativity from the crowd that’s been shaming him, saying it was untoward of him to run a sex blog while his wife was sitting to the side being ignored.

And so of course we come to Heidi. I never liked the way Heidi presented what she had to say, from the beginning. There are a lot of people in the world, and especially on the internet, who love to get up on stage and play the victim, weeping and clutching their chest and saying things like “I’m not mad at Jared, I wish the best for him, I just want him to get the help he so desperately needs,” and “I am a victim of abuse and I stand with all other victims,” and generally making a show out of how hurt and damaged they are and how BRAVE it is for them to FINALLY come forward and make the HARD decision to come public about this because they just couldn’t sit in SILENCE any more, OH THE MELODRAMA OF IT ALL.

I don’t claim to know the truth of the relationship between the two of them, but according to Jared, he became unhappy with their relationship and tried every alternative to breaking up, including therapy, before finally asking her for a separation. She said that she wouldn’t allow that, and basically threatened to ruin his career if he broke up with her. And it looks like that’s exactly what she ended up doing. I don’t know the woman personally, but it says something about her character if her method of breaking up with her husband is to cut contact from him without his knowledge, release a public statement impugning him and accusing him of cheating on her (when it seems clear to me in context that they opened their relationship because it was failing for both of them), and blocked him on Twitter before he could respond to her.

So.

After all that, at the end of the day, what are we left with?

Well, Jared is picking up the wreckage of his life and his career, because someone decided to cancel him. No one gave Jared a chance to defend himself, no one waited until they’d heard his side of the story, people formed a mob and went out of their way to belittle, humiliate and bully him in a public forum.

I saw the shit they were posting on Twitter. It wasn’t a group of concerned individuals worried about the impact a predator abusing his position of power had on an underage fan. It was a jeering, sneering crowd of villagers gathered in a town square, throwing apples and shit on the accused. Everything I saw were jokes about how Jared had a little dick, jokes about how he’s got an ugly face, jokes about how creepy he is, jokes about how ridiculous it is that a guy as ugly as him could get a girl as hot as Heidi, memes with Jared’s face or his dick pasted into them. It had nothing to do with morality or victims or abuse, it was all about gathering around and having a good laugh at someone else because these people felt it was morally justifiable to do so. After all, he sexted with underage fans, so he’s fair game now, right? His human dignity doesn’t matter anymore, he forfeited that when he agreed to share nudes with underage fans, nevermind the fact that we don’t know that’s what happened yet, we’ve seen enough, and we’ve found him guilty, now it’s time for the public execution.

Cancel culture is a toxic plague on our current discourse. It infects every aspect of the way we interact with one another online. Once the mob has decided someone’s guilt, they do not get a chance to defend themselves, there is no fair trial in the court of public opinion, that person is immediately seized upon and devoured by a crowd of onlooker thirsty for blood.

Mark my words, this is going to result in someone, not Jared, but someone someday, being wrongly accused, and that person taking their own life because of the harassment and the humiliation. Someone on Twitter is going to come forward and accuse someone famous of grooming or harassing or raping or otherwise sexually abusing them, without any credible evidence, just to try and get attention from it, and the person who is accused is going to become so overwhelmed by the cruelty of being a public spectacle that they’re going to kill themselves before we all learn that the accusation was false.

But wait.

Aren’t we supposed to believe accusers? Aren’t we supposed to create an atmosphere where people feel safe to come forward and open up about their experiences when they’ve been harmed? After all, it was because people chose to step up and tell the truth about their experiences that Bill Cosby, Kevin Costner, and others were found out, right?

Well, the truth there isn’t a right answer to this. The truth is we all just have to use our own personal discretion. We live in a culture and in a moment in time where everyone’s thinking has become completely black-and-white: someone is either wholly innocent of any wrongoing or they’re pure evil and they’re scum who must be washed clean from the face of the Earth.

The truth is more complicated. There have been innocent bystanders caught in the crossfire of the Me Too movement. Aziz Ansari was accused of raping a woman, even though by her own account he asked for her consent several times, and she agreed, but later regretted it. That isn’t rape, it’s called having an awkward date and feeling ashamed of yourself the next day, and it happens to everyone. Chris Hardwick was accused of being physically and sexually abusive and before he even had a chance to defend himself, he was fired by AMC and by the Nerdist, until a few days later when every woman he’s ever dated all stepped up to say no, absolutely not, this person is lying and Chris is not like that. Johnny Depp was accused of accusing Amber Heard and he said absolutely nothing to defend himself, and a year later we discovered that in fact she was the one abusing him all along.

This is what happens when we allow ourselves to lose any sense of objective rationale and just start believing people are pure good or pure evil. I’m sorry, but we can’t simply believe EVERY accusation made by EVERY person, EVEN if that means that we create an environment where real victims don’t feel comfortable coming forward, because the implications of that are too grievous: if everyone who makes an accusation is presumed to be telling the truth, then invariably SOMEONE is going to take advantage of that situation and tell a lie or distort the truth to make themselves seem like a victim.

But why would someone lie about this kind of stuff?

I don’t know. Why do people do anything? I don’t have that answer. I’m only human, I tend to side with accusers too when I first hear an accusation. I think that what a lot of good people do is that they hear an accusation, and they think to themselves “I don’t want to believe this is true, but I’m going to assume it is until I see a good reason not to believe it.” That’s the natural way humans respond to conflict: we believe whichever side we heard first. But the truth is foggy. The accuser may be telling the truth, but a distorted version of the truth based on their perception. The person accused might be telling the truth in their defense of themselves, but a distorted version of the truth they have to believe in order to protect themselves.

The fact of the matter is, when people found out Jared MIGHT have done something awful, they lost all human empathy for him and allowed themselves to morally justify humiliating and harassing him, making fun of his dick, making fun of his face; the most base kind of insults, the kind of thing you’d imagine a gang of school children doing.

A big part of this is that people WANT someone to be angry at, they WANT to cancel someone, they WANT there to be some hot new drama and some new common enemy to hate. James Charles, Pro Jared, whoever it happens to be. And it always passes quickly and people are always thirsty for someone new. This is a dangerous and toxic cycle of negativity where we vilify people in order to justify cruelty toward them because we can feel morally justified in doing so. But people all deserve human empathy, human compassion, and human dignity and respect. Even people who might have done something awful. There’s a reason we have an entire court system built around the precept that people are innocent until proven guilty. We have to give people the assumption of innocence until the person making a claim against them has presented good evidence to the contrary.

It’s not that I’m never on the side of victims. Many times the victims are telling the truth. I absolutely believe Christine Blasey Ford was telling the truth about Brett Kavanaugh, if for no other reason that his response – snarling and crying over his high school calendar when he’s goddamn judge who should know that isn’t any kind of evidence for his own innocence – was the way a guilty person would have responded.

I wish Jared had been open from the beginning, I wish he had been more human and open with people about what he was going through, but WHO CAN BLAME HIM for keeping to himself, refusing to engage, and creating a very carefully curated response that he issued months later? If Jared had come forward and tried to be open and vulnerable with anyone, he’d have been further humiliated.

At the end of the day, I can’t say that I truly believe Jared is innocent. I don’t think Jared seems to be a bad guy, and I think that he seems like someone in a shitty marriage trying to get his rocks off with fans, regardless of how unhealthy that is. If, however, he really did have inappropriate conversations and sext with people he knew was underage, then he should come forward about it and be honest and accept the consequences, even if it means ruining his career.
Jared ends his video with some powerful words. “Nobody likes cancel culture… until they get an opportunity to cancel someone.”

I hope he didn’t do what he’s been accused of. But at the end of the day, it isn’t my decision to make. If he truly did something illegal, something morally reprehensible, then his accuser should take him to court and prove it. If they don’t, then we can’t assume they’re correct, because we simply don’t have the evidence. I can’t sit here and say that I wholeheartedly side with Jared, because there’s a part of me that would feel terrible if I somehow sided with an abuser. But I also can’t impugn him based on the incredibly flimsy online testimony of the people who came forward to accuse him, especially since their story doesn’t hold up under any kind of scrutiny.

Calling out abusers is fine. But accusing people and assuming their guilt without giving them a chance to defend themselves creates an environment where any one person’s moral shortcomings at any point in their life can cause them to be cancelled. And if you’re the one who becomes successful and ends up being cancelled, you might suddenly wonder why mob of onlookers can’t treat you with any understanding or compassion, and remember how it felt to become just as bloodthirsty as they were.

I’m not saying that the minor moral infractions of every day people like displaying abusive behavior in a relationship or cheating on someone, lying to a loved one, things like that that we all regret doing, are on the same level as grooming underage kids or raping someone, but the level of moral indignation from places like Twitter and Facebook are exactly the same. We treat every moral infraction with the same gravity. And our thirst to be outraged is only going to keep eating us up inside, and eating up the lives and careers of innocent people caught in the crossfire.
It looks like Jared has mostly come out okay, after all this. His subscriber count is steadily on the rise again, and the majority of comments he’s receiving are supportive. If someone has a good defense of themselves, it looks like they do ultimately come out alright in the end. But Jared isn’t unscathed. He was publicly humiliated, had his personal conversations jeered at for the world to see, was the subject of cruelty and malice by strangers, all because someone made an accusation. If he is truly innocent, then every last person online who engaged in the bullying against him should be deeply ashamed.

Jared ends his video by asking people to consider carefully how they respond the next time someone is called out or accused of predatory behavior. I agree, but I have something else to add to that.
Predatory behavior is not an unforgivable sin. We live in a messed up world, and people get hurt, and they hurt others and themselves to cope with it. Abuse is cyclical. I was abused as a young child and throughout my life, and I turned that abuse inward by hating myself, and also outward by being emotionally abusive toward boyfriends, friends, and people in my life. We cope in our own ways. Maybe Jared WAS taking advantage of his fans, without meaning to. Maybe he WAS, even in a situation where he knew the fan in question was a consenting adult, exercising his power over them to coerce them sexually, and maybe that made him feel powerful. Maybe that’s what was happening.

So what next? Is he unforgivably evil for doing a bad thing? NO. He’s a human being, like anyone. Even hardened prisoners can reform themselves. We’ve reached a point in our own communal moral outrage that if someone does anything abusive for any amount of time, they’re permanently cancelled and forever labeled a predator or a villain. That’s now human behavior works. We’re complex, fucked up, emotional creatures. We do good things and bad things, we all have the capacity to harm others within us. This is one of the most basic lessons about humanity we’re all supposed to have learned by now. If Jared DID exercise his power over fans in a predatory way, without realizing that’s what he was doing, we can acknowledge that’s wrong and still have compassion for him and try to understand why he did it. Remember I’m talking about a scenario in which he only spoke to consenting adults, if there really were underage fans involved then it becomes more complicated but I would personally still feel sorry for him and want him to get help if that WERE the case.

At the end of the day we have to use better judgement, we have to treat people with dignity, and we have to remember not to let our compassion die and turn into a jeering mob the moment someone tells us it’s okay to do so. We have to treat people, and ourselves, better, because this toxicity is eating us from the inside out as a culture. We’ve become so addicted to the feeling of righteous indignation and uniting against a common enemy that we’re willing to case anyone as the enemy on the flimsiest of pretenses because we enjoy the feeling of hating someone together. This kind of communal hate-bonding is killing our souls, and the discourse online has become so toxic that no one can survive it. We have to stop looking for reasons to hate people and start finding it within ourselves to look at things objectively and treat people with decency.

Wanting To Get Better

I’m not sure where to begin with today’s post. This past week has been a really difficult time. I’m still feeling very shaky and unsure of my life, things have been pretty solid for a while and lately everything has been upended.

Some of it I won’t talk about yet, because a lot of it involves my job and it’s not a good idea to air your job drama in a public space online. But what I can say is that I started a new job in December of last year and over the past nine months or so I’ve become pretty good at it, I’ve received positive feedback from management, from customers, and from the people I’ve met at my job. I’ve become comfortable with where I am and what I’m doing, and it’s been a great feeling to have a job that isn’t a source of constant stress.

Working is always a source of stress for me. Especially if I have to work at a job I hate. I find it completely unbearable. If I’m forced to get up and go to work every day at a place I hate, with no end in sight, it isn’t an exaggeration to say that the entirety of life starts to seem futile to me. My thoughts turn very morbid. Last year was especially difficult because I started the year employed and then had a health problem that I couldn’t do much to fix. I had a bone spur in my mouth, poking through the gum, and the oral surgeon I went to see wouldn’t remove it, so I had to spend a month or so on very heavy pain medication just trying to exist, and missing a lot of work. On top of that, my stepfather died, and my family was busy with his funeral and with dealing with his death, and right afterward my mom got a really substantial insurance policy from his death, which meant that all of a sudden our family didn’t have to worry about where groceries was coming from next week until pay day.

My mom moved into an apartment of her own, because she couldn’t take being in the house after he died. I quit my job because it had become too stressful, I was getting in trouble for missing so much work, and I knew my mom could take care of me anyway. I admit that’s not a healthy attitude, but at the time it was the choice I made. Afterward, a lot of things started to happen very quickly. My best friend, who is the closest thing I have to a boyfriend, and who I love very much, moved in with me. I drove eight hours to pick him up and tried to help him break away from his abusive family. After a few months living with me, he went back home so he could go back to his internship, and then his job. I was left alone during the summer and unsure of what to do next. My mom had basically given me one of her debit cards and though it didn’t have unlimited money, I could get food and gas pretty much whenever I needed. I got a couple of jobs that I didn’t last long at. I finally started to settle into a job at Starbucks when I got incredibly sick and had to go to the emergency room, followed by recovering at home for two weeks, during which time I quit Starbucks. After I had recovered I was feeling very alone, very useless, and very unsure of where to go.

I ended up finding the job I have now, a comfortable job in a sales environment, a fairly low-stress job where I can sit at a desk. It’s not quite as stress free as an office job would be, but it’s a good place to be, and I’m able to use my personality to make money. Though I admit to feeling a little slimey being in a sales position at all, as it makes me feel like I’m actively participating as a cog in the machine of capitalism, but then again, I exist in a capitalist society so I have to survive somehow. My pay has been decent. My mom moved into her own house at the beach and my brother and I have been living at the house my mom owns. We don’t exactly pay rent, just the power bill and our phone bill and we help when asked, but usually my mom takes care of the bills. I started to get a lot of commission and have large pay checks for the first time in my life, and I was honestly not sure what to do with the money, so mostly what I’ve done is spend the majority of it on food. Eating out for breakfast, lunch and dinner. I’m getting progressively better at grocery shopping but I still don’t know how to cook many meals.

There is a big purchase I need to make, which is a new computer, as the one I’m currently typing this on is on it’s last legs. But I just never seem to have enough money. For a while I was using a savings account and doing pretty well but then I had to start dipping into it until there was nothing left. It seems like I have just enough money to feel confident that I’ll survive, but not enough to get nice things. I guess it could be worse, I am from a poor family.

And all that preamble is to say that I find myself in a position where my life is going to go through some changes, and it all hit me rather unexpectedly. Starting a few weeks ago I started going to the gym and though I haven’t been doing it as frequently as I’d like, I’ve been getting in about two to three visits a week which is a very good starting place. I’ve been overweight since I was a kid and as an adult I have type 2 diabetes that I don’t exactly manage very well, so losing weight is important. I was actually starting to feel really contented with my life a couple of weeks ago: my housing situation is safe, I’m making enough money and I even had a savings account, I was starting to get in better physical shape, and my anxiety wasn’t hounding me as badly as it ordinarily is. I still dealt with intense loneliness and depression, but in general it seemed like things were on an upward curve.

And for all I know, they still could be, but there have been some upsetting developments.

The first and most important thing is that my job situation has changed. I’m still employed, but I’m no longer at the same store. Again, I can’t go into the details, but my old manager, who was great at his job and who was a very honest person with a lot of integrity, left our store when he moved to another state and transferred to a new location. The new manager was a nightmare, who made working there virtually impossible for me. I asked to be transferred to another store and thankfully, the management came through. Right now I’m working at another location while I wait to figure out where I’m being transferred. I don’t exactly know what will happen next but at least I’m out of that toxic environment with the new manager. Still, things have changed, a job where I was happy and comfortable has been pulled out from under my feet and I have to learn to adapt to a new atmosphere, possibly with people I won’t connect with very well. I can’t know what will happen, but the anxiety the past few days has been almost unbearable, and I’ve had to take way more of my anxiety medication than I’m used to, which scares me because I don’t want to become even more dependent on it than I already am.

Today I was off. I spent most of the morning and early afternoon sitting in the living room and playing Final Fantasy X and watching Youtube Essays, which are my favorite form of entertainment lately. A lot of what I was watching was related to media from when I was a kid and early teenager: The Simpsons, Silent Hill, Dragon Ball Z, even W.W.F. Wrestling. And it got me thinking about those days in the 90’s, and how young I was, and how I wasn’t truly able to enjoy a lot of the things that were popular then because I was too young. I’ve started to wonder what life would have been like if I’d been born in the early or mid-80’s and been a teenager during the 90’s or the early 2000’s instead of a kid. I might have been able to go to Tori Amos concerts in 1996 or bought my own Playstation or Nintendo 64 with money from my own job. I would have had a car with a CD player and a binder full of CDs like I do now, except it wouldn’t be outdated. I’d be making mix CDs like I do now, except other people would actually care about mix CDs and I could make them for friends. I could use the internet not as a young child but as a young adult, enjoying the fullness of AOL instant messenger and browsing the web with other people who were just building the online landscape.

Hell, I’m writing in a blog right now. Blogs are a mostly outdated form of media, at least a personal journal-style blog like this one, which might have actually been popular if this were the early 2000’s.

And of course, these thoughts are rooted in the same thing I’ve been thinking about for the past few months: an encompassing feeling that I have wasted the past decade of my life. I’m 29 now, and in a year I’ll be 30, and what will I have to show for it? I’ve done virtually nothing with my twenties. And I came to realization earlier about why I might be feeling that way.

I have never had a social life.

I mean, I almost did, once, in junior and senior year of high school. I went to friends houses and rode around in cars with them, and we laughed and had fun. I met new people, did new things. I went places. But now… I don’t do any of that, and I haven’t for many years. And I think I’ve just wasted so much of my youth. My life since I graduated high school has consisted of trying to survive through a haze of rolling, continuous panic attacks, and then alternating between relaxing at home playing the same handful of video games I’ve played all my life and going to work, day in and day out. There’s been no time for much else. My romantic attempts have all failed. Very few of them were even fulfilling or meaningful. I’m musically talented and I’m a good writer but I’ve not created anything with it. I’ve not written a novel, I’ve not recorded an album.

On top of it, I’m faced with issues I didn’t have when I was younger. I’m fatter, I have type 2 diabetes, and over the past few years I’ve been having issues with my memory that have been getting progressively worse. I have difficulty recalling words I need when I need them, especially when writing, or in the middle of conversations. I can’t recall things I need to when I need to, and my gut suspicion is that it’s a result of all the antidepressants I’ve taken over the years reshaping my brain chemistry and fucking up my memory. I’m tired. I used to just be lazy when I laid around doing nothing, now the reason is that I’m exhausted. I’m just as horny as I used to be but now I’m becoming a grown man whose penis doesn’t respond to the slightest whisper with a stiff erection the way it did when I was a teenager.

Time has not yet quite begun to take it’s toll, but it’s starting. I’m about to hit some kind of peak and then… what? So often my thoughts turn to death. What will I leave behind when I die? I’ve come to accept the fact that I probably won’t have an afterlife. So life is now even more fleeting and precious than I thought it was before. So what then? What will I leave? This blog? It’s the closest I’ve got to a legacy. My journals, where I talk about the really dark shit that I wouldn’t admit in a public space? The conversations I’ve had?

What would my funeral be like, if I died today? Would my mom organize it? Would it be a Christian service? For god sake, would they play I Can Only Imagine or When I Get Where I’m Going? Would I be buried in the same drab cemetery where my grandparents lay? The thought is sickening. It’s defeating. So much of who I am would be lost. No, all of who I am would be lost.

Today when I came to Starbucks to sit down and write this, I felt the overwhelming urge NOT to. It was like a boulder I had to push out of the way. When I’m in my car, when I’m playing videos, when I’m sitting and thinking, I can come up with a brilliant way to express my feelings, but when I sit down to do it I’m reduced to scrambling through a hastily written journal entry like this one. I’m confused, I’m scared, and I’m alone.

So what do I do about it?

Dragon Ball Z is all about growing through adversity. Maybe this is a low point. Maybe this past decade has been building to something, some moment where I make the choice to change. Like I said in a previous post, a little at a time, but a change nonetheless. To go to the gym. To find the right job. To go to school. To study piano and creative writing, to record my songs, to organize my thoughts and feelings, to reach out and meet new people, to build relationships, to not be stuck on my own, sitting in my chair or in my car with nowhere to go and no one to do anything with. To move away from South Carolina to a place where I feel I can truly be myself.

After I wrap up here, I’m going to the gym.

I haven’t reached a point where everything changes, not yet. But I’m still trying. I’ve been sinking and sinking for years, and I can’t come up and crawl and stand and fly and soar in one day or maybe even in a year. But I can keep making changes. I can keep trying. I can keep doing little things until finally, something big happens.

I just don’t want to keep feeling like everything I’ve done up to this point is futile, like I’ve wasted not just the past decade but my life. I wouldn’t want to start all over from childhood because I hate where I come from, I hate being from the south, I hate being from a poor family, I hate having parents who damaged me, I hate not knowing the concept of a loving and supportive family, I hate the pernicious influence of the religious cult I was indoctrinated into. My life has just been a series of traumas, moving from one to the next, and as an adult I’ve been stumbling around, trying to survive, but I don’t want to just survive anymore.

Maybe therapy is the next step. I can’t say I know when I’ll try to reach out to a therapist but I hope I do it soon. I want things to change, to get better.

Maybe that’s what’s different. I didn’t want to get better before. I would have been happy if things got better but I wasn’t driven. Am I driven now? I think I am. I want to get better.

I want to get better.

That seems like the most important step in beginning a journey, truly wanting it.

A Little At A Time

Where to start.

I’m honestly feeling pretty demoralized today. I feel pretty demoralized most days that I’m off. This week I had two days off work in a row. And you know what I’ve done with them? Next to nothing. The things I want to do when I have time free, the thing I want to do to be productive, is to write and to work out. Well yesterday I sat down to try and write but I just didn’t feel it. I never do when I actually want to do it. And I spend so much time thinking about what I want to write and what I want to say that I make little notes for myself about topics to discuss and then NEVER touch those notes again. Right now there’s a notepad document on my computer filled with years worth of blog topic suggestions for myself that I’ve never perused again.

My life has changed a lot since around late last year. I was working at Starbucks at the time (the very same Starbucks I’m currently sitting in, actually) and I got really sick from food poisoning. I ate eggs that I brought home from Starbucks which had gone bad and which I should have known better than to eat anyway, and I became horribly sick for about two weeks. The first few days were the worst, I could barely move at all during that time, eating was impossible. Then a few months later I got hired on to a full time job which I still have, but I got sick twice right around the time I got hired. The first was a cold, then I developed pneumonia and I didn’t miss a lot of work but I did spend a lot of time in bed absolutely unable to move, forcing myself to get some toast or fruit down my throat.

I met a really nice person during that time, a guy on Tinder I’d had a little date with at the bookstore. My mom had moved out and I was in the house all alone (except for my brother, but he’s not exactly much help), and this guy came to see me multiple times while I was sick. He even made me soup and brought it to me. I didn’t eat it because I was too sick to eat and I hated the smell of food, but it was such a kind thing to do. When I was alone and afraid, he came to help me. I wanted to go out and drive around because that’s what helps me feel better, but I was too weak to drive, so I sat in his passenger seat, sometimes sleeping, sometimes talking, often just riding along, and we drove around for hours every day. Once I got better, we visited the mountains in Asheville.

I experienced something that’s happened to me many times before. I started to have feelings for him even though I knew I didn’t really have a connection with him, and though I didn’t admit, we were dating one another, we were pre-boyfriends. We were spending every day together, we were sleeping over at each other’s houses, we were having sex, and when I was sick he went with me to the doctor’s office, and while we were alone waiting for the doctor to come in I started to shake with fear, and he rushed over and put his arms around me and involuntarily, without realizing I was doing it, I whispered “I love you.” And I meant it too. It felt good to say it. A little embarrassing. It was kind of like I’d just busted a nut in front of him without meaning to. But it felt good.

Eventually we had to have “the talk.” The one where we figure out what the hell WE ARE. And we weren’t boyfriends, but we could be. He wanted to be. A part of me wanted to be. But I didn’t feel that it was right, and when that happens, I have to be the bad guy, I have to break someone else’s heart, and my own, and end it. We’re still friends, but it was hard at first. A couple of days after we talked, I started to have a panic attack alone at my house at night, and I needed more than anything in the world to see him. He let me come over and I sat on the floor in his living room and just cried. It was all so sad.

I still don’t know what will happen with our friendship. He left for about a month to go on trips to see friends, and since he’s got back he’s been secluding himself. He’s dealing with his own issues, he’s going to therapy (something I need to do). I’ve not seen him much.

I’ve just been working. Working so much. In early May, I left town for the weekend and went to Washington DC to see Imogen Heap live with my best friend Jake (the one who lived with me for a couple of months last year). It was wonderful to see him again. I felt a little bad because he was so excited to see me, instantly pulling me into bed to have sex, and I was being distant. I didn’t mean to be, nor do I know why I was being distant. Probably I still had my earlier friend on my mind. The concert was wonderful, Imogen Heap was great, and her Frou Frou bandmate Guy Sigsworth was there, participating in about half of the songs.

There was one particularly memorable moment when, during a question and answer segment (Imogen took questions in between each song; I never got to ask my question, which was the very obvious and appropriate “will there be another Frou Frou album?”) someone asked Imogen to use her Mi.Mu gloves to play Angry Angel, and she said she could try but she didn’t remember what key it was in. Jake leaned over to me and whispered “A Minor.” She did some explanation about the gloves and she said “I’ll try to play a bit of Angry Angel but I don’t remember what key it’s in” and I shouted “A MINOR!” Imogen’s head popped up quizically and she said “Eh? What?” and Jake and I both shouted “A MINOR!” in unison, which received a laugh and then a roaring round of applause from the audience and Imogen shouted “Thank you!” We were both so excited, we had our little moment with Imogen.

When I got back from my trip, one of our employees no-call-no-showed and then quit the following day. Later the same week, another employee was promoted to district manager of another store and moved, leaving only my manager and myself to run the store. I had to work a LOT of hours. I was working nearly double my scheduled time because there was simply no one else to help take care of the store. I got MAYBE a day off in a week, never two. In a month, I had three days off. Then my boss had to leave for a vacation which was planned months ahead of time and I was the acting store manager in his absence. It was pretty stressful, I had help from other stores but not much of it, usually one person from another store to help me during the day, if anyone at all.

We finally hired a third person who I’ve helped train, and he’s actually really cool, I like him a lot. We think very similarly and we have long, intense conversations and make each other laugh, which is wonderful. He’s exactly the kind of friend I want to have in my life. I thought to myself at some point “If only I could meet a guy like him, he’d be the perfect boyfriend.” Weirdly, I did NOT develop a crush on my co-worker, which is odd because I usually crush on every male who I befriend.

So then, an important thing happened. I turned twenty-nine.

Twenty-nine years old. A big moment for me. Because it’s the moment I finally started to realize that I’m about to be leaving my twenties and I’m going to be thirty. And being thirty… that means having your life together in some way, knowing who you are, what you want to do. It means starting to look your age. It means I’m running out of time to be a young, cute Instagram model. I’m kidding. Well, I’m half-kidding. I’m probably not kidding at all.

I’ve got a list of all these things I wanted to write about on my blog, but I just can’t right now. My brain is stuck. And for these two days in which I’ve been off work, I’d had nothing to do, and no one to do anything with.

So last night, I decided if I couldn’t find anything to occupy my brain the least I could do was occupy my body. And not by jerking off, like usual. Although there was some of that. I went back to my beginner’s yoga video, which is about ten minutes long and which I’ve been using since around 2012 whenever I want to try to getting into Yoga. It’s a series of five videos on YouTube, but I usually only ever use the first one. I felt incredible. I know I’m an atheist or whatever now, but it felt like all my chakras were opening up and chi was flowing through my body, my body actually felt alive and aware of itself. I kept up my momentum by going to the gym.

Today will be day two of going to the gym. It’s where I’m going after I finish this post. There’s so much I want to talk about but… I just can’t right now. My brain is all scattered. What was it I was thinking last night?

Writing is a little bit like working out or being fit. You can go for a long time without doing it, and you just have to start again. You won’t do very well at first, you’ll only be able to do a little at a time, and you won’t have much endurance, but with time you’ll get better at it and see better results. I guess I can be proud that I wrote anything at all today.

Part of the reason I’ve not posted in so long (despite the fact that no one reads this so I’m really only writing to a potential future audience of people going back through old posts to read them for whatever reason) is that I started trying to keep a private journal, one I don’t share with anyone, where I can talk about things I don’t want to share publicly. That’s still a good idea, but the problem is the things I’m really upset about, the things I don’t want to talk about publicly, they’re not things that writing about in a journal will fix. They need a therapist to hear them and help