The Pagan at Work

Again we’re faced with a situation in which I had a very serious topic I wanted to write about but simply can’t muster the energy to put that much effort into it and I don’t want to ruin it! So, we’re going with an off the cuff day in the life of blog which, let’s be honest, is just more fun to read and write.

There’s a Pagan at work, or Wiccan, whatever those cringey 50-something cat fetishists like to be called. Here in the whitebread midwestern US of A, if you’re a Wiccan, you’re a Satanist. Everyone at work is low-key terrified of her because she sacrifices babies to the fire-breathing god of the stars but she’s really just the endgame build of someone who has been desperately crying for attention their whole life. Cries for attention are rarely cries for the kind of attention the person actually wants. They’re motivated partially by resentment, so they’re often pretty embarrassing.

She wears all black, has that disgusting pin-up girl hairdo that was all the rage in, like, 2005, and her hoodie has a pentagram on the back. Hilarious when it’s a 20-year old “punk”, sad when it’s somebody’s grandma.

I, Faux-Paradox

Now all of this is quite negative but it’s light hearted (she’ll never read this and may or may not really exist) and it’s meant to set the stage for why I empathize with her. Had I never gotten sober, and I’m not insinuating she’s an addict; I have no evidence of that, I could easily see myself winding up like this. Begging for negative attention was my M.O. (or “ammo” as a less literate coworker frequently says) for most of my life. As with anybody else, it was primarily motivated by resentment. God and all of humanity had singled out and scorned me personally and it was only right that I make them uncomfortable whenever they were around me.

It began innocently enough and I think a lot of writers had the same experience when younger: when you’re the kind of person who writes, you’re likely more analytical and thoughtful. So, at a young age I started to notice the paradoxes everybody was living. To me, the world was quite superficial and inane. Knowing this, naturally, made me smarter and better than everybody else. So I began to embody other people’s paradoxes. Having a collection of gothic and industrial albums but sneaking Christina Aguilera and Britney Spears in to confuse my friends who would thumb through them. Wearing polos and cardigans while punching people in the face in a mosh pit (the main inspiration for my fashion at a young age was “Mike” in SLC punk). Telling a girl I was on a date with that I was a vegan right before taking a bite out of the hot dog I just ordered (she didn’t think it was as hilarious as I did). That phase of it is still funny to me (and actually fairly intelligent, it’s the 4 dimensional chess Donald Trump is accused of playing) but it only got worse.

Sometimes When People Accuse You of Being a Nazi, They’re On to Something

My stylistic influences and online diatribes went from light-hearted jabs at the asinine hypocrisy we’re all guilty of to bitter and angry litanies against “whores”, “blacks” (I used a word with more bite back then), and any other group who wasn’t me. Since anyone can be filtered into a group, I had no shortage of subject matter. This was actually after my stint in the American National Socialist Party came and went (some day I will write about that but I’m not going to promise when anymore, lol). I’d been forged by my own lunacy and the people I’d surrounded myself with into a machine that burns good intentions and outputs hate.

Alcoholism and/or drug addiction is almost certain in someone like 23-year-old me. Despite being an objective piece of shit, people loved me when I was drunk. I don’t mean that arbitrary love we reference when we talk about hot wings, I mean I genuinely felt love for the first time in my life. Of course, it was all chemical. Those people didn’t love me or even really acknowledge that I existed when I wasn’t dancing like a trained monkey for them. Still, that’s a difficult feeling to not fall for when you grew up with a distant father and narcissistic mother.

Ope, it’s time to start work so I guess that’s the end of this one. I’ll probably write chapter two in a few years. Wink wink.

Is Anybody Actually Sober?

I know a girl who’s been to rehab a dozen times and will go again a dozen more. Her addiction benefits me in some ways; I’ve gotten a firm understanding of what sobriety takes because of her. The sayings “there are many roads to recovery” and “addiction isn’t a character problem” are nice things to tell suffering addicts but each of us who have come through the other side know they’re bullshit. There isn’t some magical genetic lever that flips in a teenage boys head and causes him to suddenly seek heroin as if his life depended on it. He does heroin a few times because he’s stupid and weak, and his parents and community failed him, and he gets addicted. In this way we can say it’s not completely the addicts fault but everyone bears some responsibility for everything that happens to them.

She’s the typical addict; we’ve all met her. Atheist to a fault; not only does she not believe in God (which is fine by the way) she also despises all of the traditions and rituals that society has been founded on. They seem silly on their own but without any of them, life becomes bleak. I frequently tell addicts that “hope” is the key but this too is uselessly narrow. One doesn’t simply acquire hope by wanting it. We have to work at it, start living our lives in ways that allow us to believe the future could be better. Throwing away all the ideas of Western history just because you hold a grudge against Christianity doesn’t hurt Christianity.

Whether or not you believe in God, if you live in a western country, you’re a Christian. Our laws and traditions are based on Christian dogma. “Freedom of religion” wasn’t about allowing people to be Buddhist or Muslim or Hindu, it was about allowing people to be a different kind of Christian (and to be fair, many flavors of Christianity are as different from one another as Islam is to Catholicism). I’m not making an excuse for religious intolerance or xenophobia, I’m simply stating that nobody is really an Atheist in the way that “Atheists” use the term (and as I’ve said in the past, nobody is really a Christian in the purest sense because almost nobody behaves as if they believe in God, and behavior is far more important than somebody’s claims).

I took her to an A.A. meeting a few months ago. I’m not into A.A. myself. I was able to find hope without turning to a structured belief system but most addicts aren’t capable of that. Either they aren’t wise enough or they’ve ruined their lives to the point that it is practically impossible to believe their future could ever be better. Still, I am inspired during my infrequent visits to these meetings. One can’t claim that the Speakers, with decades of sobriety behind them, aren’t empowering. But when we left, she had nothing but bad things to say about it. She laughed off everything we read and talked about. I knew then that she was already headed for another stretch of rehab.

Perhaps that’s what makes me different. Although I do consider myself to be capable of being wiser1 than the average man (and who doesn’t!), I’m also prone to falling for great speakers. So when I went to rehab, I listened to everything I was told and when I got out I did everything they told me to do. I even went to A.A. for two months in the beginning. I don’t think I would be sober right now, almost four years later, if I’d gotten out of rehab and laughed off everything I’d just gone through.

All of that being said, the idea of sobriety to me has little to do with substance abuse and is more of a state of being. One in which we’re proactively working to realize our dreams and accomplish sequences of goals. In that way, I don’t think most people are sober. I don’t think I am, truthfully. I have good days but less of them than bad days. Substance abuse would compound the bad days as it does for everyone. Still, if you strive to reach some pinnacle of achievement, it does set you apart from most people I’ve met. Having children, for example, is a great excuse to stop trying and settle for poorly raising the next generation of drug addicts.

  1. I’m making a conscious effort to use “wisdom” instead of “intelligence” these days because intelligence doesn’t mean anything useful. Everyone is intelligent. We can make fun of someone online for not knowing every fact we know, but they likely know dozens of things we don’t know. Wisdom is better on the rare occasions it’s useful to describe a mental acuity that someone lacks. It doesn’t mean the unwise are stupid or unintelligent, it simply means they don’t yet possess the self-reflective skills to apply their intelligence toward their problems.

Habit Breakers! Breaking Habits. I

Breaking habits isn’t enough on its own. Positive habits that reinforce your vision of the future while replacing the bad habits in a meaningful and relatable way are equally important. For the week of March 15, I’m focusing on Shitty Western Mindfulness (SWM… also an acronym for single white male… hmm… coincidence? Yes. Obviously

Eating at my desk

Eating at my desk slowly and throughout the day is the worst habit I have regarding food but one that can be easily overcome with a little focus. I don’t eat much in one sitting, so during lockdown I developed the bad habit of eating my lunch at my desk over the course of several hours while I worked. Consistent eating threw my clock out of whack so I wasn’t hungry for dinner either. A secondary negative is getting my equipment and desk messy, generally appearing as one of those disgusting 4Chan video game addicts you may have seen in some of the popular “4Chan Users’ Bedrooms” photo galleries. Tip: Don’t Google that.

Soda / Pop / Soda-Pop / Coke

Moving forward, I’m getting back to drinking coffee in the morning rather than buying a gigantic can of “Lo-Carb Monster”. It’s not just healthy, it’s cheap. Even a bag of my favorite cherry-kissed coffee at The Good Market is only a few bucks whereas Monster is $3 every day. Whatever cocktail of chemicals are interacting in those cans also make me very angry at easily agitated by 4PM. Generally, I’m a hot tempered guy (because I’m surrounded by incompetent morons) but I can keep it under control when I’m not turbo charged.

STOP

I don’t know if this should be called a habit per se, but all of my worst behaviors kick in when I feel overwhelmed and like I’m falling behind. As many have said before me, this is just a feeling. I need to get better at stopping what I’m doing and taking care of the little details bludgeoning me over the head while I’m working. Take my planner for example. On days where I don’t fill it out on time, I am reminded of it every few minutes and I think “I’ll do it as soon as I finish this…” and I immediately forget. Then I remember again in ten minutes, feeling worse about it, but still not stopping. By 5pm I still haven’t done it and there’s really no point then. My day has already devolved into a disorganized mess in which I’ve stretched myself in too many directions. Plus the workday is over.

It’s not all bad though. I wouldn’t be able to recognize the need to slow down and stop if I hadn’t already internalized the notion that nothing is ever too late. My habit of waiting “until Monday” or “next month” is long gone. I won’t deny that for some reason I do feel amped up on Monday mornings, but I don’t use it as an excuse to wait until I feel refreshed to get something started. I have AM and PM routines scripted in my planner as well as workday and shutdown routines. If I’m an hour late on my AM routine, it’s okay. I just do it when I can. Of course once I’m at work there are certain things I can’t do anymore but I don’t beat myself up over it.

Life is hard enough when you’re not your own worst critic.

“Pfft, my phone can do that…” An Idiots Guide to Cameras.

If you’re an average North American male in his 30’s, then by now most of your friends are addicts and attempting to proudly display your hobbies to them results in triggered defenses of whatever product they feel like you’re attacking. As an amateur photographer, many of my (hanging on by a thread) friends can’t emotionally deal with me practicing something they’ve always wanted to do. After showing off my last batch of nature photos on my post apocalyptic wasteland of a Facebook page, four separate college dropouts pointed out that the new phone they couldn’t afford but bought anyway can do the exact same thing… and better.

It can’t, though. I have the latest iPhone (which I also probably shouldn’t be able to afford but such is the burden of the sober, educated individual) and this morning when taking a Snapchat selfie to innocently remind a married coworker that she’s attracted to me, I stumbled upon the “portrait” and “focus” features that my friends boasted about. So I tried it out…

I’m no expert on photography but I’ve taken enough classes to know what aperture, ISO, and F-stops are. My phone does have some rudimentary controls that attempt to simulate this but I don’t quite understand what it’s doing when changing these settings. For example, the “f” logo is supposedly meant to represent f-stops but as there’s no mechanical action when changing these, it appears to be an algorithm rather than an actual aperture action. This is further evidenced by the fact that dropping down to the lowest f-stop (which I believe is 1 but I can’t be bothered to open my phone to check) results in a digital approximation of what background blur would look like but very, hmm… what’s the technical term… shitty.

Similarly there’s little control over ISO. There are some lighting presets which also change aperture settings which really removes the whole creative aspect from photography. Using code to try to make a perfect photo no matter how bad of a photographer the user is equally hinders the people who know what they’re doing. I’m sure there are probably some apps out there which offer more customization but as I said above, none of these things are mechanical in nature so will likely produce some very artificial looking results.

So shut up about your phone and stop sending me blurry, distorted “macro photos” of caterpillars, David.

Online Dating II: Am I the Only Single Person Over 30 Who Isn’t Crazy?

Obvious sarcasm aside, I’ve met a population sample of Michigan’s most broken women over the last week and it’s been at least entertaining. Since I’m far less serious about online dating than I’ve been in the past, I’m able to sit back and watch the show more instead of falling into lamentations such as “oh my word I’m always going to be alone there’s no hope maybe I should die!” . Partially this is because I am actually beginning to enjoy the idea of staying single more and more with each dating trial.

I’m no frog prince, let me tell you. I’m judgmental, self-centered to a fault, and the idea of driving more than five minutes to meet a woman isn’t even remotely energizing unless she is a Brazilian supermodel (random choice, I actually prefer Lebanese women, lol). But it’s taken me 10 years to deal with most of my faults and get them to where I am able to succeed in college, at work, and with friends. I don’t really want to take on the problems of these crazy bitches who seemingly haven’t had a moment of self-reflection in their entire lives (there’s the judgmental part).

I don’t have any funny examples of tragic communiques between myself and the divorcees of Macomb County, mainly because they’re all so tragically similar. On the rare chance that I do get along with someone socially, they’re either completely unattractive or can’t get over the fact that I don’t drink (which I always find puzzling and think that if someone’s sobriety bothers you that much you should probably take a hard look at your habits). I do have the account for a few more months so I’m going to search long and hard for someone humorous to write about. It’s been rare that I’ve made it past a few back-and-forth messages before I say “well, good luck in your search!” and block them.

Uh-Oh, Online Dating!

Yes, ladies and gentlemen (mostly ladies), it’s time again for our protagonist to throw himself into the dumpster fire of online dating. What could possibly be different this time than from all of my past failures? Well, for one, I created an account only because I thought of a hilarious tag line and it’d be a shame to waste it. I think it’s hilarious anyway. I suppose one would need to know the context to think so.

It turns out it’s kind of working, too. 1 hour in and already 11 likes (but no matches so they’re not from women I’m actually attracted to) which is far more than I’ve ever received during an entire month-long run of using a dating app. Perhaps I also look healthier and happier now than I did in my older, post alcoholic photos. I feel like I’m over that hump of early sobriety where I identify as someone in recovery and now I’m just a normal guy. I also had a theory that you look more genuine when you smile if someone else is taking the picture. It’s difficult to just smile for no reason, but if someone else is there it looks like you’re actually smiling at a person instead of taking a narcissistic selfie. So I’m never posting a picture of myself that wasn’t taken by someone else again. Or at least, not one in which I’m smiling, haha.

So, I’m not taking it seriously at all. I did answer the “profile questions” honestly for a change instead of being a creep and trying to put what I think women would want. It was interesting to actually think about my answers for once. I skipped a lot of them because they were either extremely sexual or extremely political, and I’m not trying to be that person anymore. If you go on a dating site and start talking about feminism and transgender rights, well, that might be why you’re single, homegirl.

I didn’t do much today and I’m okay with that. I finished my chapter quiz for college so I won’t have to do any schoolin’ tomorrow. Sunday is laundry day for me so I’m working on that right now. I’ve gotten back into the hygiene routine I had last year which consisted of an exfoliant and moisturizer and I have to say, it’s nice to have a perfumed face all day. For me. I don’t think anyone else can smell it. That’d be way too far into my personal space.

Social Consolidation

Thank God many of you like Jen, Ashley, and Hillary check in with my posts from time to time because on days like today, those notifications are the only reason I remember to write something! I straight up forget WordPress exists for most of my week. I have a daily reminder in my planner but, again, I have to remember to open my planner. 🙂

I’m rounding out the end of this cyber security program and actually starting to learn some practical things. I was worried for my first couple years in college because everything I was being taught was very generic stuff that I learned when I was 17 just by using a computer. I get that not everyone is a computer nerd like me so classes do need to touch on these things, but I feel like if you’re in a cyber security program and you don’t know what Ethernet is, you might want to re-evaluate your career plan.

My current school-related side project is to get familiar with Microsoft Azure, their cloud service which gives AWS a run for its money (and then some). They give you a year-long trial period but even though you get to play with all their tools free of charge, if you want to actually deploy anything to the Internet it will cost you. It’s pretty affordable, depending on what you want to do. I’ve been thinking about migrating my blog to their servers but every time I do that I lose touch with everybody because I don’t get archived on WordPress Reader anymore for some reason. I’m sure I could figure that out if I really put my mind to it.

I have been really locking down my social networking accounts lately, not only because I’d been super careless about it back in the dark days but because I don’t use most of them anymore and it’d be a bit crazy, given my degree focus, to just have unused accounts that link to all of my personal information chilling out in the open, relying on people with less than stellar service records to keep it safe. Yesterday I found out you can bulk delete every YouTube comment and liked video you’ve ever made, so I did that. That was also partially because I don’t like the same things I did 3 years ago and I’m tired of seeing those kind of recommendations pop up in my feed. How many Minecraft videos do we really need?

My Facebook friends are unfortunately holding me hostage in that case. Some of them are old and stubborn and refuse to switch to something more useful like Discord. Since I began using that a few years ago with a group of gamer friends, I’ve rarely checked in with Facebook or Instagram. They’re ugly platforms, ethically and in terms of their user base. Lately I’ve been realizing that I don’t talk to those people that much anymore anyway so… maybe there’s no harm in just never speaking to them again. I mean, if they miss me I’m not hard to find. My full name is on this blog and I have two websites.

Speaking of which, I had an extra domain that I registered last year just because I liked the sound of it and I finally put it to use. Trapdrum.com will host my Twitch music streams from now on. I don’t have a regular schedule yet but I’m far more likely to do that than write about music, I’ve realized. I’m just not smart enough to write things about music theory that you couldn’t get a better idea of elsewhere. 😀

Light Trauma

People enjoy using “trauma” to refer to just about everything that happens to them so when I’m using it in the context I’m about to, it’s quite flippantly and I don’t at all intend to make you believe that this situation causes me to cry myself to sleep every night. In fact, once my work day ends, I rarely think about it.

Reading “parenting time complaints” is a big part of my job. I don’t have to understand or do anything about them, I just have to get the gist of what they’re saying so I can correctly file them. Still, I have to read enough of them for my day to become extremely frustrating and depressing. It’s not pleasant to know that so many parents in my county alone are complete and utter failures. To make that situation worse, they always blame everyone else for this and it makes me dizzy to have to try to comprehend the intricate web of conspiracy they believe is ruining their lives. In reality they just need to pay their child support and act like adults.

One has to have some level of sympathy for divorcees, of course. People change (not that much, I have to say) and sometimes you don’t realize you married a psychopath. However, in most cases, both parents are the psychopaths. The depressing aspect is that I know from experience that this all but guarantees that their children are going to end up the same way. When you look up someone’s social security number in our database, there are often cases stretching back through their ancestry as far as our records can go. Losers beget losers, in reality.

The most common and thus anger inducing letters we get are from parents who want us to somehow raise their children for them.

“My ex won’t let Tommy join the baseball team!”

Sorry, that’s not something the government cares about. People love to complain about how much involvement the government has in their lives, but those same people pull this shit every day.

I’ve trash talked divorcees on here before and have had some of their membership try to rebuke me for it but I know from experience, even if they are blind to their own habits and behavior, they are exactly the people I’m talking about.

It Doesn’t Count…

OKAY OKAY! I missed two days of blogging. There were extenuating circumstances! Monday, I felt like diving in to the capstone projects in my course textbook to get a better mastery of the concepts and this involved upgrading to Windows 10 Pro so that I could use Hyper-V. The purchase went swimmingly but the upgrade itself did not, go figure. I had to wait to talk to someone from tech support for almost 3 hours before I could use my computer. For those of you who don’t know, Microsoft “tech support” are really just contracted employees with varying levels of skill and mastery of English. Fortunately the second person I spoke to was an absolute legend and had me up and running in 5 minutes. Somehow the upgrade process glitched and installed Windows 10 Enterprise instead of Pro. Enterprise technically isn’t even able to be purchased by consumers because it’s for large businesses. Too bad he didn’t just give me an activation code for that.

Yesterday I’ll fully admit I was just lazy, haha. I took a bunch of photographs Monday and Tuesday and spent a pretty good amount of time yesterday trying to find my SD card reader. I still don’t know where it is but as luck would have it, the TASCAM mixer I just bought has an SD reader and can function as a USB drive if needed. I was able to turn on its USB mode and get the pictures that way. Then, I was a bit bummed because I didn’t realize I had my camera in JPEG mode, so all of the photos are pretty bad quality and don’t have all of the info stored that CR2 files have, which greatly limits what you can do in Lightroom. Ah well, lesson learned. It’s not like those trees are going anywhere.

Photofolio ->

Adobe’s Creative Cloud plan has an optional portfolio site included, which I didn’t know about until tonight. I set up some initial folders based on work I’ve already edited, but I plan to use it much more efficiently in the future. You can find mine here. I could say that its design is temporary and I’ll update it eventually, but I’ve been saying that about my blog for four years. 🙂

I did some e-housekeeping tonight by going through various social media platforms and unfollowing inactive accounts. It makes no difference, but for some reason it feels like I’m organizing something. WordPress was particularly alarming. I only unfollowed blogs which hadn’t been updated in a year or more but that was most of them! The majority were sobriety blogs so, well, you know how that goes. It just emphasizes how rough 2020 was for everyone. I know we’re all tired of hearing people say “THANK GOD 2020 IS OVER IT WAS SO HORRIBLE” but for some people it probably was quite horrible.