Thoughts From A Dark Empty Room

First and foremost: DEATH TO 2016! This has truly been one for the history books, and not in a good way. But most of you already know that: you’ve lived it. 

This year, for the new year, I’d like to share a little secret. 

People have asked me off and on over the years why I spend so much time alone. Why do I go off by myself at parties, why did I always hug the wall at school dances and social functions, etc. And the answer is fairly simple: it’s easier–and that is to say, less painful–to be alone in an empty place than to be alone in a crowd.

Now don’t get me wrong: I love my friends and I really enjoy spending time with them. Just this evening, I walked into a house full of friends I haven’t seen in ages and I talked, laughed, hugged, and genuinely had a good time. 

For about ten minutes.

Currently, however, I find myself sitting on the floor beside the locked door of a dark, otherwise empty room. Am I happier here? Not really. But it’s hard to keep smiling downstairs where the party is: hard to be happy when every direction I turn I see another reminder of how alone I feel. I can still hear the party through the floor, and take some comfort in the fact that I can go back at a time of my choosing.

I just can’t lose myself in the party atmosphere the way I used to. (I’ve tried drinking, and I wish I could forget the rest of that night.) I feel like I’m broken, sometimes; like there’s a socialization mechanism that most people are born with, but I somehow missed out on. And sure some people will say, “just go with it,” but what do you do when you don’t know how? 

What do you do when all you see is the empty space around you? When you miss all the jokes, and you don’t know any of the stories? What do you do when, in spite of everyone’s best efforts, (and I give my friends all the kudos in the world, here), you still feel left out? 

Well, if you’re me, you find a dark, otherwise empty room and sit there feeling numb for a while and wait until it passes. Sometimes it takes an hour, or five minutes, or all night. Sooner or later, though, I’ll leave this room. But, for now, it’s easier to be all alone in the night than all alone in a crowd. 

Good night, folks. And Happy New Year, 2017.

Sportscasting: A Brief Rant

In the house in which I currently reside there is a man who spends the majority of his free time with his eyes glued to a television watching badly dressed retired athletes talk about sports.

I find it most irritating.

I generally don’t complain about other people’s viewing habits, especially since I watch the Syfy channel almost exclusively and I know better than to even think about taking any of those programs seriously. But, in a way, I find it is better that way, since I know better than to assume the characters I see to be anything other than what they are: people pretending for money. No one lends much credence to science fiction shows, and the most emphatic conversation I’ve ever seen one spark was between two fanboys arguing over who was the best captain of the Enterprise. everyone involved knows that it’s just entertainment and that nothing said before or after the broadcast will alter in the least what 100 million people will see at 8/7 central next Thursday.

Sportscasting, on the other hand, is a load of pretentious bullshit. This is not news. It’s not even very exciting: just a bunch of has-beens who should have planned for retirement better mouthing off just to hear their own opinions. Frankly, as someone who once played organized sports, I find the very idea that people can make money rambling off meaningless conjecture and self-aggrandizing opinions to be an insult to the players who work their asses off regardless of haw many stuffed shirts are convinced that their team has no chance.

Rant accomplished. Now, on to more important things.

War Without End, Amen

Hello, Internet,

I recently came across a post related to an important political shakeup that swept the nation in the past month. I will not name the poster for fear of his life, but here it is:

“Putting women in combat roles is not about equality. It’s about making wars very unpopular and dismanteling [sic] the military.

Even though nobody likes to see our men get killed in combat, we can swallow it as a nation because it’s men being killed. However, when women start to be killed in combat at the same rate the men are then it becomes much harder for us to take.

Women aren’t supposed to be fighting wars, and they aren’t supposed to be dying in wars. They are not the warriors, but rather the nurturers and care givers. Placing women in positions of combat is unnatural and there is going to be a huge uproar when people see women coming back in body bags, or worse captured by the enemy.

This is by design, it is the Obama administrations goal to dismantle the military and this is one of the ways that they will make it happen.”

My gut reaction, which I narrowly avoided posting, went a little something like this: ” YOU IGNORANT SEXIST BASTARD. MEN LIKE YOU GIVE OUR HALF OF THE SPECIES A BAD NAME. KINDLY GET YOUR HEAD OUT OF YOUR ASS AND JOIN THE REST OF US IN THE 21st CENTURY.”

Unfortunately, it has been my experience that emotionally charged visceral reaction like this only tend to exacerbate any given situation and fail utterly to change people’s perspectives. What I went with, was the following:

“I think this is a splendid idea. In the early years of the Republic, women’s rights movements demanded more liberties for women, (such as owning property or voting–basic privileges of citizenship) or even seeking gainful employment and controlling their own money (still basic citizenship stuff, but related to personal autonomy as well) and lately we’ve been hearing more about the acquisition and use of birth control technology (personally, i buy condoms out-of-pocket as a courtesy so I really haven’t followed that debate, but it speaks to a woman’s rights over her own person: a basic principle of citizenship).

now, though, a women’s rights group has lobbied for greater responsibility, and I whole-heartedly approve. Since women entered the workforce, there has been a rise in the number of stay-at-home fathers in this country; the Victorian gender roles have been out moded and child-rearing responsibilities are more spread out than they once were. (it’s not even close to a perfect 50/50, but change is in the air) and now the United States is taking steps to even out a gender discrepancy in another field of responsibility in modern American life: armed combat. (What some people seem to be forgetting, is that female police officers have been in, and lived through, armed combat situations for years now. So, in reality, any attempt to block this policy change would have been about as effective as the proverbial scenario of closing the barn door after the horse got loose.)

When America was founded, it did not treat women correctly: they were second-class citizens, little more than slaves or property. Now, through their own impassioned efforts and some aid from right-minded individuals in the power structure, women have, (on paper), gained the same socio-political and economic rights and responsibilities as men. It is the right and responsibility of any free citizen to fight for their freedom and their nation. American men have shouldered this burden for over 200 years now. But men and women were never intended to stand apart: we are the two halves of the human whole and we are designed to complement one another by cooperation in equal shares, with neither held in prominence over the other. Women of America, I thank you for stepping up as comrades in arms, truly equal to our men, to maintain the sovereignty and security of our home. God bless you all.”

I realize that I am not female, and that therefore my right/ability to speak on or evaluate women’s roles in society is limited. (I am also painfully aware of the fact that nothing short of a sledge-hammer lobotomy can alter this particular backward young man’s way of thinking.) But, having encountered a level of sheer stupidity that defies my sense of temporal continuity, I felt the need to speak up on behalf of every man who does not walk around with his head in his rectum viewing the world through his penis.

And, in light of the policy changes behind this unpleasantness, I say to America’s servicewomen in combat: Good luck, and Godspeed.

Face(Palm)book

Okay, Internet, I’m reaching something of a boiling point concerning our modern social networks. Earlier this evening I saw and was immediately somewhat disgusted by an attempt to show support for our military gone awry due to the infamous “Like” button. To save you the trouble of looking for this image, allow me to describe it: a casket with an American flag draped over it alone on the tarmac, the only witness; the bereaved widow leaning against it in tears.

I do give credit to the page moderator for posting this content in an effort to maintain awareness of the sacrifices made daily by our dedicated, woefully-underpaid, armed services, but to ask someone to look at that image and show support by hitting the “Like” button, I think, is a contradiction in ideology that that speaks volumes of the public Apathy Neurosis sweeping the nation. There are a few simple truths I have noticed about levels of attentiveness in contemporary society. The first is that the most vocal among us, unfortunately, tend to be the most obnoxious, opinionated, stubborn, and totally-out-to-lunch genetic dead-ends to ever come up with the wrong idea. Take the recent gun-control hysteria, for example.

Why are people afraid of guns? Answer: Because they’re noisy, they explode, and when used in a certain way they kill things. People are especially afraid of so-called assault weapons because they do all of the above considerably faster. (This by the way is similar to why some people labor under the delusion that computers are smart. Speed isn’t everything, people.) An so, out of fear, people tend to have the reflexive reaction that guns are scary, (“COLD PRICKLIES!”  to quote my good friend Lady Imbrium), and seek to take them away from those of us who know better.

Just to set the record straight: I am a gun-owner. (legally purchased, background checks, yadda, yadda, yadda), I own a .12 gauge shotgun. It has a bore about the size of an American nickel and they make hollow-point slugs for this thing. A few rounds from that could drop an angry bear, (and not just the small yellow ones that eat honey), but no one ever seems afraid of shotguns for some strange reason, it’s ALL about the (cold prickly!) assault weapons. Please, America, aim your neurotic, unfounded fears at the right thing.

Okay, take a breather and step back a few paragraphs.

Another simple truth about humanity, is that we are, as a species, a very selfish bunch. We don’t tend to involve ourselves in things that have no direct benefit for us. This in turn has led to a pandemic of motivational speakers and self-help books designed to either get the Western Bourgeoisie off its obscenely rich ass and help the rest of the world OR alleviate the guilt and depression that gradually build up in the subconscious as your lifestyle’s distractions fail to fully hide the fact that you’re a self-indulgent waste of air and a drain on the global economy.  (Working-class America, this is not aimed at you.)

The Internet has made this whole problem even worse. Thanks to comment bars and the “Like” button it is now unprecedentedly easy to put your two cents into any conversation in the industrialized world. So, if someone posts an image of a group of religious pilgrims purchasing food for starving children, you need only “Like” or re-post the photo to feel like you’ve gotten involved and viola! no guilt. Most Star Wars (TM) fans I know tend to agree that the first prequel was horrible, but there is one line that pops into my head now as extremely poignant here-and-now, in this galaxy: “The biggest problem in this universe is that nobody helps each other.” Now, most people’s immediate reaction to such a statement is “Okay, Arcticgnome, what have you done lately?” The answer is, regrettably, not much. I’m between jobs and damn-near broke right now, I can’t afford grand gestures of philanthropy. So, I do what I can, which is set down in black and white the chief culprit behind the proto-apocalyptic nightmare we call “nowadays” which is the above-mentioned Apathy Neurosis: a deep-seated need to feel like we care and do something about the pain and suffering of others without having to miss Sports Center.

I do not know the fallen soldier or the widow from the picture I mentioned at the beginning of this post, but I do know soldiers…and I know widows. I doesn’t take much to do the right thing. When you see someone in pain, remember that the knowledge that they are loved is the greatest gift you can give, however you choose to do so. You, like me, may not be in a monetary or physical position to give aid, but you have to care. You have to develop those habits of giving positive energy before you will develop a habit of applying positive effort.

The last truth I’ve learned about life is that it is short, and you take nothing with you when you leave. I caution you all not to exceed your means: you help no one by becoming a charity case yourself, but I would encourage you to make certain before you shuffle off your mortal coil that what you’ve left behind was worth the effort.

The Quality of Sympathy

Earlier today, in a random conversation, an associate of mine who I shall not name bemoaned the quality of student that seems to be clogging up the educational system these days. These are the kinds of people, and we’ve probably all met at least one, who will walk down the corridor texting, run into someone, and proceed to blame that person for the collision.

Now for those of you who don’t know me very well, which ought not to be many since most of my readers are personal acquaintances, I tend to be a very cynical person when it comes to schoolchildren, or even just children in general. In fact, I once threatened to tie up my 9-year-old cousin in a sack full of rocks and throw him in the river. Fortunately, he then stopped coming over for dinner and I was no longer subjected to the infuriating combination of his complete lack of manners and his mother’s blithe consignment to her son’s growing tyranny. I weep for the day that he grows up to be one of the people in the preceding paragraph, for a fear such a dawn shall ere long arise.

Fear not, my good friends, for the universe has developed a mechanism for sparing mere mortals the pain and anguish of spending the entirety of their short lives in the company of such imbeciles: Interstates. Yes, those wonderful, long, meandering thoroughfares with their higher-than-average speed limits and numerous solid concrete obstacles are a wonderful means of getting rid of the impossibly self-absorbed among us. For you see: they travel these roads much like they do the hallways in school, that is to say, paying no attention whatsoever to anything but themselves. These are the evolutionary dead-ends who insist on not only answering but replying to the text they received just now while traveling at 80 or more miles per hour whereupon, they frequently encounter an obstacle, or merely a slight curve, in the road, crash, and die horribly. At this point, said idiot is no longer my or any other living being’s problem, and the best part is; it’s entirely their fault.

If you’re going to pity anyone in this equation, do not pity the stupid ones. Rather, I suggest you pity the God of Death: that poor bastard is drowning in genetic defectives and has nowhere else to send them…for ETERNITY…

Some people fear Death, others actively run from it, a few curious individuals spend a lot of effort deliberately challenging Death, (see here emergency service workers, extreme sports junkies and people who shop on Black Friday), and most people prefer to wander around in the dust and humidity pretending for as long as possible that Death is non-existent. I, however, bearing in mind the growing disproportionate amount of oxygen-wasting machines, both expired and otherwise, choose to feel sorry for Death, and offer him/her/it/them my sincere sympathy.

Gods can be Obnoxious

While driving by myself down to the store for a new fan for my apartment, (the old one which I’ve had about as long as I can remember having finally died), I made the comment to no one in particular that the Sun was at a particularly inconvenient angle and I would be glad of some cloud cover and/or a tall building to shield it from view. And wouldn’t you know it, I got stuck at every single red light going across town and was forced to stare straight into said glowing disc to see when the light would change. I felt certain at the time that it was a conspiracy of supernatural powers out to irritate and inconvenience me.