The Inscrutability of the Relativity of Popularity

I’ve said it before, but I can’t resist noting again that, as I begin writing this, it is Wednesday morning at 5 o’clock.  It’s the beginning line of one of my favorite Beatles songs, She’s Leaving Home, as many of you probably already know.  And as people who know me closely—if there are there any such people anymore—will know, I love to quote lyrics and books and poems and so on.  But I particularly like when things in the real world evoke or even literally iterate the events of a song.

It’s liable to happen again if I keep writing this, since I generally get up at least this early, even if I don’t have anywhere I have to be.  My insomnia is rotten—or, one could say, it’s very good at what it does, though what it does is not very nice.

I’ve noticed a curious thing.  Yesterday, the post that I wrote in which talked a bit about the physics of black holes—asking some questions about it, among other things—got very few “likes”.  In fact, as of the last time I checked, it had gotten one.  It wasn’t especially long, for me anyway, and I thought it was interesting enough, but I guess it wasn’t appealing.

However, the quite long post I wrote on Monday, dissecting the Bob Dylan song Blowin’ In the Wind got oodles of reads and likes, even though it was about 1800 words long.  This makes it one of my longest posts, possibly the longest, not counting my sharing of sections of Outlaw’s Mind.

I’m happy that people still like “longer” blog posts and read them, at least.

I remember being told once that the optimal blog post length was about 800 words, which seemed horribly short to me to try to convey anything interesting.  It’s nice to know that estimate may be wrong.  I’m steadily disheartened by how little most people seem to read anymore, but even more disheartened to think that—possibly—most people have never been very inclined to read.  Perhaps social media isn’t drawing people away from reading but is simply giving them newer things to do instead of other things they used to do instead of reading.

If that’s the case, then at least I’m glad that there are some excellent YouTube channels with educational and interesting materials about science, mathematics, history, literature, and so on.  I have doubts whether anything educational ever happens on TikTok or Instagram or even Facebook or Twitter, though the latter two can at least be used to share links to educational articles or videos.  And I have seen some creative and hilarious TikTok videos.  These were shared with me by coworkers; I do not use TikTok myself, though apparently my music is available on it.

Referring again to songs, and specifically to lyrics, I often recall the words of the Steely Dan song, Reelin’ In the Years, in which the singer says, “Well, you wouldn’t even know a diamond if you held it in your hand; the things you think are precious I can’t understand.”  This is how I tend to feel about a lot of the world in general.  I really don’t get why some things are popular and some things aren’t.

Which is not to say that I understand none of these things.  Some works of art and music and science and whatnot are so broadly universal in their greatness that even an alien like me can recognize why they are loved.  The music of the Beatles, the works of J.R.R. Tolkien and Shakespeare, movies like The Godfather or Alien or the original Star Wars movies, the writing of Poe*, TV shows like Seinfeld or M*A*S*H—these are things that are enduringly popular (some more than others) and of which I understand the appeal quite well.

But I have no idea why anyone cares about the Kardashians**, or why the “music” of Cardi B is popular.  (This assessment is quite apart from the person, Cardi B, herself—from what I’ve seen, she’s charming and funny and seems quite nice, so I don’t begrudge her success.)

Don’t even get me started on wondering why The Donald ever became popular, let alone admired.  The man has bankrupted casinos!  These are places where people come and willingly—one could say willfully—give the house their money!  I, myself, have given my money to a few of his old casinos, and I enjoyed it quite a bit; they were nice, and I used to relish a little blackjack from time to time.  I’ve even been to Mar-a-Lago, quite some time ago, for an AECOM*** Alumni Association event.  It was a bit gaudy, but then, so is Versailles.

But it was horrifying when I was there to see accomplished, well-to-do, middle-aged-and-older adults fawning over the man, even gaggling about him looking for autographs!  I can kind of understand wanting a book signed by its author, especially if it has a “personal” message, or wanting to own an album that was signed by the Beatles, say.  But why fawn over a rather questionable**** businessman who is—admittedly—colorful, in more ways than one, but whose greatest skill seems to be surviving his own mistakes and passing the costs on to others?  And why in the world would anyone think he was qualified to be President of the United States?

Alas, humans are inexplicable to me in many ways—at least when I try to understand them as intelligent individuals.  It gets easier when I recognize them as a large population of unusually brainy primates, who, when you pay attention, are merely doing the stuff that all other lemurs and monkeys and apes do, just on a larger, more complicated level, and who fool themselves into thinking otherwise—it gets easier, but not more reassuring.

So, that’s a rundown of thoughts triggered by the fact that I don’t know specifically why my Monday post was apparently quite popular (relatively speaking), but my Tuesday post, which dealt partly with a bit of General Relativity (in a popular style, I think), was apparently not.  Maybe yesterday’s post is a slow-burner, and people will come back and read it in the future and will consider it some of my finest work.  I doubt it.  Honestly, I don’t truly think it’s some of my finest work, but I don’t think Monday’s post was either.

I don’t understand.  But why would I expect to?  I am a stranger in a strange land.  Your customs and your ways are foreign to me.

Maybe I should just go home.


*Though, man, you should’ve seen them kicking him.  Goo-goo-ga-choob.

**Unless you’re talking about the alien species that first appeared in Star Trek: The Next Generation and was more prominent in Deep Space Nine.  They’re not as interesting as the Klingons or the Romulans, but they’re way more interesting than a family that’s famous for the fact that its former patriarch had been part of O.J. Simpson’s defense team, and then for the rest of the family being rich but dysfunctional.

***That’s the Albert Einstein College of Medicine, not the infrastructure consulting firm, of which I just now became aware.

****Yes, he was questionable even back then.  And, yes, I thought so even back then, and well before.

You pick the space and I’ll choose the time, and I’ll climb the hole in my own way*

It’s Tuesday now, the day that Professor Coyne, aka PCC(E), over at Why Evolution Is True calls “the cruelest day”.  I’m not sure the origin of that expression; as far as I can recall, his website is the first place I encountered it, but I like it.

It’s not the beginning of the week, which has a certain hectic energy at least, with everyone in a kind of recovery from their—hopefully restful—weekend.  It’s not “hump day”, which many people call Wednesday, when things are starting to coast toward the end.  And, of course, it’s not its counterpart:  Thursday, which is a day on which anticipation of the coming weekend can energize one for the day’s work.  And, quite obviously, it’s not Friday, when those who are on a 5-day-a-week schedule are effectively already beginning their weekend**.  Tuesday is the day with the least to make it stand out.  Which, of course, makes it stand out.

Also, as the Beatles pointed out, and as I often note, Tuesday afternoon is never-ending.  And, if time were to be truly continuous and infinitely divisible, then one could effectively make Tuesday afternoon never-ending in a Zeno’s Paradox sort of way, just by subdividing the time in between each moment as each moment passed.

Or, of course, one could fall through the event horizon of a black hole.  To distant observers, that fall would indeed seem to be never-ending (though before too long the image of the faller would redshift into invisibility).  And for the person falling, the end would come rather quickly.  Assuming that person survived the gravitational tides, according to General Relativity, time literally comes to an end in the singularity of a black hole.

Though I always picture the heart of a black hole a bit more like one of those “Gabriel’s Horn” shapes in mathematics, which has an infinite surface area but a finite volume.  Of course, I don’t have the skills and expertise to work the equations of GR, but it feels to me that, if spacetime is endlessly flexible****, then there need never be a true “end” to time; it could just stretch longer and thinner always, infinite in “surface” but finite in “volume”.

I know that’s all a bit esoteric, and I’m sure my understanding is incomplete.  If there are any theoretical physicists specializing in GR reading this who can help me think more clearly about black holes and singularities and why it would be necessary for time to completely end if spacetime were continuous rather than simply to stretch—making a mathematical singularity, but not literally an end—then please do let me now.

I realize that there may be concepts that can only be dealt with rigorously using the mathematics, but on the other hand, clearly the mathematics is translatable into “ordinary language” at some level, or no one would ever be able to teach it or learn it.  And I have at least a bit of mathematical background, though I haven’t formally studied how to do the matrices and whatnot involved in GR.  Still, Einstein himself didn’t know how to do it when he came up with the initial ideas, so he had to learn it and then work with it, but he had the ideas first.

I don’t have his brilliance, obviously—which is certainly not an insult—but if there’s a way to demonstrate why time literally ends at a singularity***** rather than simply stretching out into an endless tube, with shrinking cross-section (in higher-dimensions) but ever-expanding “area” (again, in higher dimensions), I’d like to know.  I mean, according to the whole Dark Energy paradigm, the expansion of spacetime is accelerating now and there’s no theoretical limit to how much it can expand, which seems to mean, at some level, that it has infinite stretchability.

Or perhaps it would be more accurate to say that spacetime can continue to be created between any two points that are stretching apart, somewhat—but not quite—analogous to the way in which if you try to separate two bound quarks, all you do is create two new partner quarks with the energy you’ve put in to try to stretch them so now you’ve got two pairs of inseparable quarks.  Neener neener neener.

Anyway, I know that Penrose and Hawking developed their singularity theorems for black holes and those are accepted by physicists and mathematicians throughout the world.  They are/were brilliant people, there’s no doubt about that.  But does the theorem mean that spacetime literally vanishes at some literally infinitely dense point in the middle of a black hole—which strikes me as implausible given the stretchy-stretchy nature of spacetime—or is it a singularity more in the pure mathematical sense like the function 1/x as x approaches zero?

Enquiring minds want to know.

Wow, that wasn’t at all where I thought I was going when I started this post today, but those random, drunken walks can, at times, at least lead past interesting scenery.  No one would be likely to argue that a black hole doesn’t necessarily belong in a wasteland; in a sense, it is the ultimate wasteland, at least this side of the heat death of the universe.  But it is interesting, topographically (and topologically, to a novice such as I), and though it would be nice to be able to enjoy such scenery with company who would appreciate it in a similar fashion to the way I do, well…one has no “right” to such a thing and no good reason to expect it.  It’s lonely, but at least the wasteland has places of beauty.

And if one gets tired of walking, and/or one is curious enough to see where it leads, one can always just jump into that black hole.


*This is a slightly altered line from the Pink Floyd song Fearless, off their excellent album Meddle.

**Some of us work every other Saturday, of course, and when you have no life, like I have no life, a weekend is not something to which to look forward, except for the chance to rest one’s back.  I don’t really do anything for fun, have no friends with whom I spend time, no places that I go for entertainment or for shopping or whatever.  All such things are too tainted by memories of loss, and anxiety, and the feeling of not belonging on this planet.  My life is more or less a wasteland.  But I can’t see any way out of it (other than the obvious), and I can’t even really tell if I’m just walking in circles within it.  I think I’m walking in random patterns, like a “drunkard’s walk” (though I rarely drink).  And, of course, in a random walk or drunkard’s walk, one will eventually get arbitrarily far away from one’s origin point (though the average location will be the origin, interestingly), but the distance between one and the origin increases—I think, if memory serves—only logarithmically.  And I suspect that the exit from the wasteland is very far away, if it exists at all (other than, as I say, the obvious).  Oh, well.  Life promises one thing and one thing only; anything else is just luck***.

***A footnote within a footnote, just to note the mildly amusing fact that, so far, my footnote is longer than the main text of this post.

****A big “if”, of course.  It doesn’t seem to jibe with quantum mechanics, apparently, but we have no convincing theory of quantum gravity to settle the issue.  I’m so frustrated.

*****Again, according to General Relativity—I know it’s thought not to be the correct picture in such extreme circumstances, because of the uncertainty principle, among other things.

“It’s just the kind of day to leave myself behind”

It’s Tuesday now, which generally follows Monday, which was yesterday.  Of course, in a sense, Tuesday also precedes Monday, and has done so for practically every Monday we’ve officially had.  But it’s not guaranteed either way.  There may, for any of us and even possibly for all of us, come a Monday not followed by any Tuesday, or a Tuesday not followed by any Monday.  But I don’t think that both things can happen, not for any given person.

Someday I will see my last Tuesday, and it will follow or be followed by my last Monday—but one cannot be certain of the order of those two final iterations of days, can one?  For those who die on a Monday, their last Tuesday is followed by their last Monday.  Otherwise the reverse is true.  I suppose that means that there is a six out of seven chance that one’s last Tuesday will follow one’s last Monday.  Which makes it quite likely but far from certain.

This Monday was a frustrating day at work for me—more so than most Mondays, to be honest.  But I suppose that isn’t terribly unusual.  Work is work, and for most people, it’s not expected to be a place one goes for fun.  If it were, why would they need to pay one to go?  Well, mainly because, even if you enjoy doing what you do at work, you still have to earn a living.  If you don’t do it, then someone else has to earn it for you.

I do think it’s fair to guess that, a lot of the time, even if they would have needed to do it anyway or else die, our ancestors enjoyed hunting and gathering.  Those who enjoyed doing the activities that kept them alive were more likely to do those things, and to do them well, and so were more likely to thrive and to leave more offspring and all that.  It’s one reason cats, for instance, like to hunt and kill things even when they’re well fed.  People are quite similar to cats in many ways, but our social milieu is far more complicated than that of cats—even in the wild—so we have more complicated things that we are built to enjoy, like both hunting (and gathering, presumably) and also doing social things with other members of the tribe.

I say “we”, but of course, I really mean “you”, using that word as a collective pronoun rather than a singular one.  I’m able to learn to do the whole social interaction thing, but it doesn’t come naturally; it often seems unintuitive to me, and I don’t tend to enjoy it except with a highly select few people.  And even most of the people I like to socialize with end up not wanting to socialize with me, so apparently, even when I like socializing with someone, I don’t do a very good job at it.

Maybe that’s because, with the people I really love and want to spend time with, I let me guard down and act like my natural self more, and my natural self is unpleasant to most humans.  I don’t really know.  I know that my natural self is unpleasant to me, at least when I’m not around the people I love, which is all the time nowadays.  But you can’t judge by me, since I don’t tend to like the same things the average human likes in many cases, or not in the same way.  I’m apparently quite weird.  That can work nicely to make interesting characters and situations in sitcoms and movies and the like, but in real life it causes trouble and is not fun.

Not that I want to be normal, either.  The antics and depredations and pantomimes of “normal” people are puzzling and disheartening and disappointing and frankly embarrassing and often infuriating.

Anyway, I don’t know what the hell I’m writing about today or why.  I honestly just feel exhausted and overwhelmed.  I don’t know what to do to try to alleviate my mental and physical discomfort…I’ve tried lots of things, believe me; I am very stubborn, and I don’t give up easily.

I honestly almost wish I had a drug problem.  If you have a drug or alcohol problem, at least you have those occasional, (apparently) sweet moments of escape, and even if your life begins to crumble, there are resources and people all around the place who will stage interventions and help you get back on your feet and will sometimes even praise you for your courage in fighting your problem.  Even jail can be a respite, and badge of honor in some circles.  And if you fail ultimately, and die from an overdose, for instance, well…I guess that’s no worse than most deaths, and better than some*, and people will mourn it and see it as a tragedy.  Not that this will do you any good once you’re dead, but still…

If you just have dysthymia/depression and an ASD (apparently), but you don’t find drugs or alcohol pleasant or relieving of your issues, people just think you’re shit to be around, just a downer, and they don’t like to spend time with you or certainly to spend your life with you.  And if you die because of your illness**, people kind of blame you and have the temerity to wonder why you would choose a “permanent” solution to a “short-term” problem.

As if depression were a short-term problem.  Depression is eternal.  Depression can make a single day feel like an infinity of freezing, caustic, malodorous, gray emptiness, like a bad acid trip that’s produced by the malfunctioning circuitry of your own brain, without the need for external pharmaceuticals.

Whatever else depression is, it entails a malfunction or lack of function in one’s very ability to feel joy, analogous in some ways to how one can lose one’s ability to see or to hear***.  The term is anhedonia, but that word doesn’t capture the Lovecraftian horror of it.  Imagine (if you’ve never experienced it for yourself) doing the things you’ve previously most enjoyed—eating your favorite meal, watching your favorite show or movie, reading your favorite book, going on your favorite vacation, just spending time with the person or people you love most—and being unable to feel that joy anymore, except perhaps in a very blunted and transient way, just a teasing reminder, while all your senses of the unpleasant and painful**** are working quite well, thank you very much.

I won’t say I wouldn’t wish it on my worst enemy.  For one thing, I frankly don’t have any actual enemies.  Also, I think there are and have been people in the world who might “deserve” such a thing, or in any case in whom anhedonia and depression would be a benefit to society at large; I’m thinking of some world “leaders”, past and present.  But in general, I don’t recommend it.

Again, I don’t have any idea what point, if any, I’m trying to make.  But maybe that’s appropriate, since I don’t see any point or purpose to my day-to-day life, either.  It makes sense that my daily blog posts should seem meandering and senseless and unpleasant.  That’s simply a reflection of my true nature, I guess.


*Cancer, or COPD, or liver failure, things like that.  We keep ourselves alive long enough to die horrible, slow, painful and erosive deaths nowadays.

**And, by the way, depression has a mortality rate comparable to many cancers, and at least in some senses can engender greater suffering in those stricken with it, certainly for longer times—sometimes for decades, many of the days of which feel paradoxically as if they last for years.  And you never do hear anyone praising someone’s “courageous battle” with depression, do you?  Depression is too horrifying…a malfunction or malignancy in the very “soul”, and people stricken with it have a hard time coming across as “heroic”.

***You’d never really imagine, though, a scene in a movie where someone slaps a blind person and tells them to “snap out of it” and just start seeing again, already, would you?

****Which are, of course, more fundamental for survival.  People who don’t feel pain and/or fear die much more quickly and certainly than those unable to feel joy.  By logical implication, at least they don’t die in pain or in fear, and that’s good, I think that’s a kindness.  But they also don’t tend to leave many offspring.

This is the post that the blogger has made

It’s Friday.  I say that just in case you didn’t know (or perhaps in case you’re reading this some day other than the one on which I posted it, which is possible).

As usual, I don’t know what I’m going to write about today, but if experience is any guide, I’ll probably just write something anyway, and I’ll have more words than I ever intended to have written before I’m done.  You can all see how my book Unanimity grew to be more than half a million words long in its first draft.  I just write and write and write and write.

I guess it’s much the way some people just talk and talk and talk and talk.  I often do that, too, if it’s a topic in which I’m interested, and if there’s anyone around to whom to talk about it, but I often soon get glazed looks from other people, so I have to catch myself and shut up and walk away, chagrined.  When I’m writing here, there are no glazed looks to be had, and if anyone really isn’t interested, they don’t have to keep reading.  If they do keep reading, it must mean they were interested.  That’s a nice thought, in a weird way.

I’m going to write a post tomorrow, since I’m working tomorrow, but I may just share a video that I’m considering posting to YouTube.  I made it quite a few months ago (I’m not sure when), and just haven’t yet uploaded it.  I can’t recall what made me reluctant to do so, which probably means I didn’t have terribly convincing reasons.  It’s a silly video, but it was a bit of fun, about a comic-book-science idea I had regarding whether, perhaps, Superman’s powers were derived from solar neutrinos*.  I describe the process of my thinking, my “back of the envelope” calculations, and my conclusion, which will probably be obvious from the title of the video.  I won’t say more right now, but if I post it to YouTube, I’ll probably embed it here, tomorrow.

As for anything else, well, there’s really nothing else going on in my life as far as I can see.  I had a pretty good response (for me, anyway) to my blog post yesterday, in terms of number of people who came to read it, and that was rather gratifying.

It would be nifty if I could reach the number of readers that Jerry Coyne has for Why Evolution Is True, especially if I could get his level of engagement from readers who comment.  I read his website every day (except when I’m not working), and I often comment and almost always “like” the posts, which is not dishonest, because I actually like the posts I “like”.  It’s one of the few reliable refuges of sanity and intelligence that I have found in the world.

Yet, weirdly, even there, I almost always feel embarrassed after making comments, like I’m probably just annoying to PCC(E) and everyone else who comes to the site, and I really ought to shut up, if not for my sake, then for everyone else’s.  This is how I tend to feel about life in general.  Most of the time when I actively participate in anything, I come to feel that I’ve embarrassed myself and made everyone else uncomfortable.

Probably no one really notices, to be fair and to try to be rational, but it’s difficult when you can’t really tell how people react to you, or what they think or feel, and it seems similarly that other people are utterly unable to catch messages that I’m trying desperately to send, where I feel like my emotions must be written all over my face and be painfully obvious, but apparently, they aren’t.  Admittedly, when I look at my face in the mirror (I can only rarely tolerate it), I do usually find just a sort of non-expression.

It’s odd, isn’t it?  I can read Shakespeare or a poem I like, or recite movie lines and things and apparently do a good job of expressing emotion when doing so, and sometimes it seems that the only times I can actually feel my own emotions are when I’m singing a song that expresses them, but otherwise I can’t seem to convey feelings I’d really like to get across, and can’t seem to land messages that I honestly, desperately wish that someone would get.

I sometimes feel like someone from one of those Star Trek episodes in which a character is “out of phase” with the rest of the universe, or some other, similar such nonsense**, and I can see and hear all the other beings around me, but I can’t seem to reach them, and they certainly don’t quite seem able to hear or see me.

It’s not like being an anthropologist on Mars so much as feeling like an anthropologist from Mars.  Only, really, no one comes from Mars, so I must have come from someplace else***, but I don’t have any idea where it might be, or even if there is such a thing, a place to which to return, or fellow beings like myself.  Quite possibly not.  The universe doesn’t guarantee anyone that they will find a place that they feel they belong.  The universe only really guarantees one thing, and it clearly is not taxes.

Would it be better to be a mutant, unlike any other beings in the universe, or to be an alien that has lost its home planet, if that planet even exists at all, anymore?  What are your thoughts?


*Of course, Superman doesn’t actually exist, but it can still be fun to imagine comic book level scientific explanations for things that happen in comic books, and to try to apply a certain degree of scientific rigor to those explanations.

**Nonsense physics-wise, I mean.  The episodes can be quite good if you can get past the fact that the science fiction ideas are logically contradictory and physically senseless.  Good writing, directing, and acting really can make up for a lot.

***And I’m not an anthropologist except out of necessity.  If anything, I’m a misanthropologist.

En route.  En passant.  En Comète, en Cupidon, en Tonnerre et la Foudre

It’s Wednesday morning, but it’s slightly after five o’clock as I write this, because I’m moving a bit slowly today, and if you find that this post is more disjointed or peculiar or bizarre even than is usual for me, that may, like my slowness, be because my sleep last night was even worse than usual.

I’m almost always plagued by early and frequent wakening, as I’ve described before, but last night I had trouble even getting to sleep before one thirty in the morning.  Then, of course, I woke up starting at about two-thirty and then three-thirty and so on.  So I’m feeling very frazzled and fuzzy and mentally fatigued, and that may come across in my writing.  I’m not sure, though.  Maybe there won’t be any difference that the unprimed reader would ever catch.  Though, since I’ve given you warning, you may be more likely to draw the conclusion that I seem tired than you would had I not let you know about my worse-than-usual sleep.

We’ll never know now, will we?

I think maybe my sleep is worse than usual partly because I’m now sleeping in the “new” room that I’ve moved to, and perforce, my sleeping position is on the opposite corner of the room relative to what it was in my prior room.  Also, the previous residents had cats in the room, and I’m allergic to cats (though I love them).

Anyway, the transition is irritating, partly because I didn’t have a great deal of choice in the matter.  In the first place, I only moved into the house I’m living in now, several years back, because I was asked to move there by my now-former housemate, because he was moving there at the end of work release, which I was ending also.  His friend, Barry, was the owner, but he (the housemate, not Barry) couldn’t afford to rent it on his own.  The location is really not terribly convenient to where I work, as you might be able to tell from the fact that I can write a daily blog post—and before that, quite a few long short stories and several novels, including one very long novel—during my commute.

Nevertheless, as I tend to do, I adapted myself to the situation as well as I could, and became used to the commute and my schedule.  Then, of course, my now-former housemate became my former housemate, with all of a week-ish’s notice before he moved out, and then I had new housemates who were terribly messy, so much so that I retreated even more completely than before into my little room.  I could hardly stand even to pass through the kitchen.  I’m not the neatest and tidiest of people in the world, but this was just intolerable.  There were fruit flies actually breeding in the food they left out on the counter.

Anyway, they moved out, and the landlord wanted to rent the rest of the house as one unit, and so “asked” me to move into the back room.  Most people would like this, I guess, because it is a bit bigger and there is an “en suite” bathroom, but the shower is tiny, and I’m going to have to go out of my area of the house to use the kitchen (including the refrigerator) and the laundry room, into the area that’s supposedly being rented “en bloc” to the other people.  I also am going to need to enter and exit at the back of the house, walking through sand and dirt to get there.

It’s far from a concentration camp or anything, but I wish I had just rented someplace a lot closer to work in the first place, or taken up my father’s offer to stay with him and my mother and sister after getting out of work release, to do my writing and spend time with them in their final years and so on.

I elected not to do that partly because my soon-to-be housemate was counting on me, but mainly because I hoped that by staying in/returning to Florida, I would be able to see and spend time with my own children.  That’s a bit of an unpleasant joke, looking back on it.  My kids didn’t want to see and spend time with me; my son doesn’t even want to interact with me*.  I could have forced visitation, but by the time I was done with work release, my children were both well into their teens, and more than capable of knowing and expressing what their preferences were.  I was hardly going to try to use the law—of which I had become less of a fan than previously in my life—to coerce them to disrupt their lives when they would only resent it.

I’ve never felt it acceptable to force my presence on others if I could help it; I dislike myself too much to think I’m doing anyone anything but a disservice by pressing myself upon people’s lives, even from a distance.  I had, in fact, just expected that my kids would want to see and spend time with me.  This, it turns out, was a foolish notion, which is not unusual for me.  I don’t understand people very well, it seems, including even my own children, whom I love more than anyone or anything else in the universe.

So, I missed out on the last few years of my parents’ lives, other than phone calls, and I’ve continued to miss out on my kids’ lives, including their entire teenage years and now into their early twenties (so far).  My brother and sister are in Michigan and Ohio, in that order, and they have their own lives and families.  And I’m still here in what I refer to as America’s syphilitic penis**, commuting a stupid distance daily to a job where at least I honestly like my boss and many of my coworkers.

I’ve made good use of my commute to write my books and short stories, at least; indeed, I’ve always said to myself that my reason to work is just to keep me alive, which I only want to do so that I can write my stories.  But now I’m not writing fiction anymore, and I suspect I never will again.  I’m also not doing any music.  The whole situation has been a rather dull farce perpetrated upon me mainly by myself due to my inability to grokk humans.

Partly because of that, I had been unable (and indeed, unaware of the need) to protect myself against a legal system that doesn’t really care that I never wanted or tried to do anything but take care of people who were suffering from chronic pain (like I was and am), because everything the system did was merely the politics of shit-throwing apes, not the workings of honest, reflective, intelligent life forms seeking something like actual justice.  I’m also apparently unable to be able to maintain personal relationships with other people—these beings who are becoming ever more inexplicable to me, or so it feels, as is the world itself.

To be clear, the physics and math and chemistry and biology of the world, and all that, are comprehensible.  All that stuff is straightforward.  And I suppose human behavior is no more inherently bizarre than the bobbing and bounding of bower birds and baboons.  But I don’t think I’d feel very at-ease living with bower birds or baboons for long, either.

I certainly can’t “feel” human behavior, even though I can see and understand it from an outsider’s perspective.  I used to be better at it, but then, I used to be either the youngest of a family of five, or a member of a group of friends and/or college roommates, or the member of a family of first two then eventually four.  So I’d had my built-in groups from whom I could learn, and to whom I could adapt, and on whom I could rely to accept and even embrace my weirdness—I’ve always known I was weird, but I thought that was “just one of those things”, and not necessarily a bad one—and love me for who I was.  I thought I could rely on such things, anyway.

All of this was, as I think I wrote earlier, farcical and foolish, and I’d laugh at my past self if it weren’t for the fact that it’s not even very good farce.  It’s all just rather pathetic, really—and, as with its farcicality***, it’s not even very good pathos.  It’s all just rather unpleasant and tedious, even to me.

I’m tired of it.

Or maybe I’m just tired.  Maybe if I could get a good night’s sleep from time to time everything would be easier—easier enough at least to make it tolerable.

I doubt that I’ll ever know whether that’s the case.


*I guess I can’t blame him.

**Florida.

***Is that really a word?  Microsoft Word seems to think it is.  Go figure.