Get up get over and turn the tape off

Well, it’s a shitty, shitty day today already.  I realize that’s redundant, of course.  I could simply say that it’s a day today.  They’re all pretty shitty a lot of the time, which is a phrase, at least, that sort of rhymes.  Pretty shitty is kind of pretty; one could use it in a ditty.

That’s enough of that nonsense.

I awoke very early, even for me, with worsening pain than usual in my right lower back and hip, radiating down into my foot and calf, with spasm and tenderness in most of the muscles.  I’d had a decent pain day the day before—which I guess would be yesterday, duh—partly because I took larger than normal doses of naproxen, in addition to aspirin and acetaminophen, and as always I was trying some behavioral interventions such as those with which I constantly experiment.

But I think I was lured into a false sense of security; probably the relative decrease in pain was as much a random fluctuation as anything else.  Also, I realized by the end of the day that I had started to develop edema—accumulation of fluid, that is—in my legs, especially the right one.  I suspect that’s partly due to the effects of the high-dose NSAIDs and other meds on my kidneys’ clearance functions.  So, last night I held off on the naproxen.

While trying to massage out some of my pain, I noted that my son, to whom I had sent an email a few weeks ago, had replied at last to that apologetic note.  But though his email was polite and kind, he basically said that he didn’t want to pursue any relationship with me, at least for the time being, and that he hoped I would respect that.  I can do so, of course; if I didn’t have to have a relationship with me, I wouldn’t do it, either.  He even said he didn’t hold what had happened, what with my arrest and time in prison, against me, which is nice, and that he had fond memories of me and of his childhood with me.  He’s a good person, he works hard and is smart, and all that, like his sister.  I want him to be happy, and I would never try to force my presence on him.  I’m just not built that way.  So, that’s that.  Not a great thing for me, but probably the wise choice for him.

I did record the video I mentioned yesterday, and I already started editing it, which is basically just removing long pauses and umms and coughs and the like.  If I finish and upload it today, I’ll share it as part of the post for tomorrow—I’m scheduled to work—and you’ll be able to see and watch it if you wish.  In case you do, I’ll add now the request that most YouTubers give (which I neglected to do during the recording) which is please, if you’re so inclined, like the video, share it if you’re willing, subscribe if you’re interested, and do please feel free to comment.  All those requests apply here as well, though I guess most of my readers are already subscribed, now that I think about it.

And here I am, at the office already and writing this, quite a bit earlier than I usually arrive, because there was no point just lying around in my room and watching random YouTube videos, some about science, some of British comedy panel shows, and occasionally some about autism/Asperger’s.

It’s the last day of September in 2022, and tomorrow begins the month of October—the month of my birthday, and of Halloween (my favorite holiday), though honestly, right now, I couldn’t give a shit about either one.  Next week is both Yom Kippur and my father’s birthday (I think they’re both on the same day this year, though I may be off on that).

I wish I could see my father, and my mother, but of course, they have both “passed on” as the euphemism goes.  I’m afraid I was probably a very disappointing son for them, not least because I had seemed so promising.  I’ve basically let down all the people who are most important to me in life, regularly and consistently.  Consistency is good, I guess, as far as it goes.  I just wish I had a drug or alcohol problem to hang it all on, so that I could have hope of conquering the problem and receiving minor accolades for the success, a la the famous Christian parable of the prodigal son*, or just succumb to an overdose or something if not.

Unfortunately, my problems are basically internal and inherent.  I’m just not very good at humaning, it turns out, if you’ll pardon me for using the au courant contrivance of turning a noun into a seeming gerund of a verb, as in the expression “adulting”.  Adulting, by the way, does not get a red squiggly underline in MS Word, but humaning does.  I guess that means I really did just make it up.

I’ve been trying to do it all my life, of course, and I have put a lot of effort into it.  But my return on investment has gone deeply in the negative, I’m afraid, though that’s only if you discount the fact of my two children.  Anything I went through up until they were born was repaid at an unimaginable rate, so I can’t complain about that.  But that’s all past, now, and they are alive and well, and they’re doing their thing and living their lives and that’s good, that’s outstanding.

I wish I could have been there to witness more of it.  But if wishes were horses, we’d all be waist-deep in horseshit.  Which we may be in a metaphorical sense—more than waist-deep, I would say—but obviously that’s not literal.

Anyway, that’s all I’ve got for today, and it’s nearly all I’ve got, period, full stop.  I don’t see how I can possibly go on much longer.  I hate the world, I hate my life, but most of all, I hate myself.  I’ve got to find a way to escape.

Which word makes me think of the Radiohead song, Weird Fishes/Arpeggi.  Here, I’ll embed some version of it in “video” form below, so those of you who are interested can listen.  It’s a beautiful song.

*Which I’ve always hated as a clear case of injustice and even cruelty.

Nothing to say but “What a day, how’s your boy been?”

Okay…I’m going to hopefully keep it relatively short today.  That should, in principle, be easier than writing a long post, but in practice, for me, it can be a challenge.  We shall see, I suppose.

When I first woke up today, I thought it was September 20th though I’m not at all sure why.  It’s not, though; it’s the 16th.  That’s just in case you weren’t sure, also.

I’m very tired and feeling pretty poorly this morning, but I have to go to work, and I’m going to have to go to work tomorrow, too, unless I’m very mistaken.  I don’t quite understand how it is that people at the office don’t realize how worn down I am.  I feel as if I’m dropping bits of flesh as I walk, like a cheesy, movie zombie, but apparently I don’t look much different than usual, based on the way everyone acts.

It’s probably my fault.  I tend just to keep going, day after day, without much personal complaint.  I mean, I complain about the way people in office do things, when they cut corners, or don’t follow the general, promulgated guidelines and whatnot, but I don’t often complain about myself.  I do complain a bit, like about the fact that I feel tired, that I don’t want to have to stay late and everything, because I’m always the last one out no matter what, but maybe people just see that as the way I am.

Again, as I’m sure I’ve run the topic into the ground already, I apparently have the trait of alexithymia, a difficulty recognizing, or being able to characterize, one’s own emotions.  I’m not sure how I feel about that*.  Anyway, I guess I have a pretty deadpan face no matter what, and even when I say that I don’t feel very well, or don’t feel great, people just sort of “Oh, that’s too bad” kind of thing, and then everyone just goes about their business.  I think I need to work on being more melodramatic.

Maybe it’s just that I’m always negative.  Anything’s possible in this world.  I don’t tend to be the world’s biggest optimist.  I know, that’s unbelievable, right?  I’m also never sarcastic.

Anyway, there’s just not much more to say about it.  I’m much more tired than usual, but I’m going to have to work tomorrow anyway, unless I’m very surprised, and then after having Sunday off to do my laundry, I’ll have to work Monday.  Hopefully whatever I have right now will turn into pneumonia and kill me soon, or something like that.  It would not be a tragedy.  It’s not like I’m likely to do anything more that’s useful with my life.

I wish I could just make myself lie down on the floor in the office at every full stop, but my tendency toward insomnia makes it difficult for me even to rest during the day when I’m worn out.  Or maybe that’s unrelated to my nocturnal insomnia.  I don’t know.  It’s difficult to tease these things out, and it’s not like I have anyone else helping me with it.  You people (the ones reading) are the main ones I share things with, but it’s not quite the same as having someone around who sees me from moment to moment or even from day to day.

Last night I had a hard time falling asleep, but I did sleep through to my alarm this morning after I finally dropped off.  I haven’t heard my alarm in weeks, so that was kind of surprising**.  I took half a Benadryl last night when I went to bed, because I really wanted to be able to sleep.  It seems to have worked as far as that goes, but I feel a bit groggy now, and still just physically wiped out.

Mentally, it’s hard to tell.  I feel like I’m not very alert or clear-headed, but I seem able to do my normal things in the morning so far.  Meaning, for instance, when I check my keys and wallet and all the stuff that I have in my pockets, and which I check again every time I move from one spot to another to make sure I still have everything, they’re all there, and—obviously—I’m remembering to check them.  Which is better than forgetting, certainly, though it would be nice, upon occasion, to be able to feel confident that, yes, I did remember them, and to remember that I remembered them, so I don’t have to keep checking over and over and over throughout the day until the moment I go to bed at night, or at least until I get dressed for bed.  But I always have to keep checking myself; I don’t seem to have that sense of personal certainty that so many people give the impression that they have.

Then again, most people seem to feel sure about a great many things that they cannot actually be sure about, and if I had to choose between the two states, I’d rather be the way I am, with no tendency toward easy certainty about epistemologically uncertain things.  I don’t admire overconfidence or dogmatism.  I think they are responsible for a great many of the ills of civilization—people who think they know how things ought to be and how other people ought to behave and what’s really behind everything.  This is my repeated point in reframing the X-files poster statement into, “I don’t want to believe.  I want to be convinced by evidence and reason.”

Ah, well.  Reason is something I have in abundance about some things, but in which I am very poor regarding how best to manage myself, emotionally and in general.  I’m too tired to bother trying to manage myself, anyway.  I’m not worth very much effort, even from myself.  I need just to let it go.

And, as you can see, I didn’t end up writing a very short blog post after all.  I feel as though a therapist is now telling me “That’s all the time we have today,” as has happened to me before in therapy.  I have the unfortunate tendency to drone on and on and on and on and on and on and on and on and on…

You get the idea, right?  Anyway, I expect, assuming I’m right that I’m going to have to work tomorrow, that I’ll be writing a post then.  If I don’t, either it means that work was cancelled, at least for me—maybe my coworker will return from his back surgery with miraculous rapidity—or that I’ve succumbed to severe enough illness that I won’t be able to make it in or to write, or that I’ve died.  That sounds kind of nice.

*Ha ha.

**It’s the Beatles song Good Morning, Good Morning, which is a perfect morning alarm.  It even begins with a rooster crowing!

We’ve been trying to reach you, Rob

Guten Morgen, bonjour, buenos días, ohaiyou gozaimasu, and good morning.  It’s Wednesday, at 10 to five, and I’m already on the train, because despite being sick, I still couldn’t sleep, and if anything, I awakened sooner than usual.

Yes, I am still sick—it’s rare that anyone really, actually, gets over a respiratory infection in 24 hours, after all—but I also still have to go to work.  That’s particularly true on Wednesdays, when I have to do the office payroll in addition to my other, regular duties.  It’s not a dirty job, but nevertheless, someone has to do it.

I feel even less that I have a topic to write about today than I did yesterday, but as regular readers will know, that never stops me from writing.  It’s a bit analogous, I suppose, to the jocular saying that one should never let facts get in the way of a good story.  So:  never let lack of a subject stop you from writing a blog post.  Goodness knows most pundits and politicians and even most journalists nowadays don’t let lack of subject matter stop them from writing or speaking at length.

Still, my energy feels unusually low today, even for me.  Maybe I should write about how unreasonable it is in our culture that we demand of ourselves that we go to work even when we’re ill, thus increasing the chance that other people will become ill, and probably reducing overall productivity of the workforce and decreasing the overall quality of life for everyone.  As if we needed to push that down lower than it already is.

But I suppose that subject has been addressed innumerable times in many ways by many other people.  If you need it discussed beyond a few words to trigger the thought, I’m not sure what world you’re occupying.  Perhaps your life is so satisfying that you don’t even comprehend how anyone could be less than happy.  More likely, you’re so worn down and resigned—dare I say, fatalistic—that you don’t even recognize, let alone consider, the possibility that things could improve.

I feel you.

So, what should I write about?  Or should I try to write about anything at all?  Should I just start spewing random sentences in question form, as though initiating a Socratic dialogue?  Would there be any benefit to that?  If so, what would it be?

I’m not good at small talk in general, and I’ve gotten worse at it over time, as my socialization has diminished.

I did very briefly pick my guitar up yesterday, because I had watched a video of someone reacting to the Radiohead song Knives Out, for which I had learned the lead guitar part some time ago, and I wanted to see if I could still do it.  I couldn’t do it from memory—I needed to get out the tabs—but it wasn’t too bad.  And while I had that out, I quickly fiddled (so to speak) through part of the lead from Big Log, by Robert Plant, and a bit of Wish You Were Here, and then the chords from One Headlight and A Space Oddity.  I made a video of me playing and singing the latter a while back, which I guess I’ll embed below as a space filler.

Then someone noticed that I was playing—I usually only play when no one else is around—and so I put the guitar away.  Anyway, I wanted to watch a reaction to the Radiohead song Lift that I noticed on the YouTube list, and the chords for that involve a B add…ninth, I think*, that gives me a terrible hand cramp to try to reach, so I wasn’t going to try to play along.  And listening to that song, and the reaction, made me want to cry, so I had to stop all that.

So that’s it.  I actually did get out the black Strat at the office, or picked it up and turned on the amp, since it’s always sort of “out”.  But who knows if I’ll ever play it again?  I wouldn’t be surprised if I don’t.  It’s like picking up your kids—there will be a moment when you pick up your child in your arms for the final time, and you will never pick them up again after that, and odds are, you won’t even realize that it is the final time when it happens.  You’ll just never happen to pick them up again.  Likewise, there will be a last time that you hug or even see each of the people you love, and then one of you will be lost to the other, or both will be, for the rest of time.  So don’t take those things for granted, okay?

That’s about all I’ve got for the time being.  Hope you have a good day.

*Yes, that’s what it was.

Demonstrandum in the middle of nowhere

Good morning, everyone.  It’s Tuesday, the 13th of September, and I’m coming down with something again.  Meaning I think I have some upper respiratory virus, because I started getting mild chills overnight, and a low-grade elevation of my temperature, and my throat has that sore, itchy, irritated feeling that comes with fighting a virus.

I’m assuming it’s a virus—well, not truly assuming; I’m drawing a tentative conclusion based on experience and knowledge.  It doesn’t seem like a bacterial infection, those tend to be more localized, and I don’t think it’s a fungus, since those are rather rare and occur only in specific circumstances…and I’ve never heard of a prion disease that presents in this fashion.  Whereas I’ve had many iterations of “colds” throughout my life, and this feels a lot like most of them.

It doesn’t seem like Covid, but I suppose it could be one of the later variants, tempered down by my already-exposed immune system.  In any case, although I must go to work—that’s why I’m writing this blog post today—I am masking even more thoroughly than usual.

It’s remarkable that the wearing of masks was resisted so much by so many crybaby wusses in America.  People in east Asia have been regularly wearing masks when they get a cold since long before the first SARS virus.  It’s simple courtesy to recognize that, though you may have to go to work because there are people and things depending on you, it’s good to take some minor precautions to decrease the risk of spreading your sickness to the people around you.

I understand the spirit of independence, and I am glad to live in a country where the more common saying is, “The squeaky wheel gets the grease” rather than “The nail that sticks up gets hammered down”.  But it’s not independence or free spiritedness to refuse to take simple, easy precautions to reduce the chance of you spreading a disease to your fellow Americans (as the case may be).  That’s just being a spoiled and entitled ass-wipe.  And the only good thing to do with ass-wipes is to flush them down the toilet.

Anyway, that wasn’t what I was going to write about today.  Actually, I didn’t have anything specific in mind to write about today, which is why I know that wasn’t what I meant to write about today.  Logic.  If there exists no class of things: [Topics considered to write about on Tuesday, September 13th, 2022, AD] then {the inexplicable and inexcusable refusal to use masks when ill} cannot be a member of that class.  Quantum Electro Dynamics*.

Ah, Logic.  Ah, Reason.  Ah, Evidence and Argument.  How I pine for you in the human world.  Of course, I don’t hold it against anyone that they have emotions, even strong ones.  It’s not like people designed themselves, after all, and emotions exist for good, sound biological reasons.  They are the drives, the utility functions, of organismal behavior.  And they served humans well in the ancestral environment, else humans wouldn’t be around.

But reasoning minds have achieved much more; they are much more versatile and powerful, and modern civilization is largely due to their work, though motivated by those underlying emotions and their various, often-conflicting, utility functions.

But you’ve got to tame your elephant, to borrow Jonathan Haidt’s metaphor.  Otherwise it’ll run rampant and trample everything, and it won’t get you anywhere you really want to go, except perhaps by luck.  Train it.  Maintain discipline.  Reward it when it’s good and correct it when it’s not.  Don’t just be the rider of your older brain, be the pilot, be the driver.  It requires effort, obviously, but I think it’s probably worth it.

In other words, what I’m saying is, don’t trust your emotions to guide you—they’re not reliable.  Listen to them, notice them, but don’t trust them.  They developed to help make quick decisions about hunting and gathering, avoiding lions and hyenas, and interacting with a tribe of maybe forty or fifty people at a time.

Every complex animal in the world has emotions of some kind; anyone who doubts that is simply in denial.  Only humans (among species native to the planet) have human-type brains, with big, complex frontal lobes and complex, symbolic language with syntax and grammar and logic and all that jazz (sometimes literally).

But those brains are powerful—again, see Jonathan Haidt’s metaphor of the elephant and the rider.  If they are not managed, they can be horrifically destructive.  And if you get a herd of unmanaged elephant-brains** or brain-elephants, they can do a terrific amount of harm, especially if they’re armed with modern technology (most of which was not made or designed by people with no control over their personal elephants, but is nevertheless available now to the billions of people who could not have made it, and who don’t bother even trying to steer).

Anyway, this has all been meandering and peculiar, I guess.  As I said, I’m a bit under the weather.  It’s annoying to be in south Florida and to be both sweaty and chilly.  I wish I could just lie in bed somewhere, maybe have some Jell-O or something.

I must be feeling sick.  I don’t particularly like Jell-O.  But it is easy on the throat.

I wish I didn’t have to go to work today.  Though it’s not a wish I would waste on a genie if I found a magic lamp.  I’d probably ask for some kind of special, personal powers that I could use to achieve world peace…through my absolute dominion over everyone and everything!  Bwa-ha-haaaa!!

Again, anyway…that’s enough silliness.  I’m really not going anywhere with anything today.  I just wish I could rest for the day, but I can’t, so tough luck.  A person has to do what a person must do; willingly accepted duty, and a reasonable sense of honor, and a general sense of courtesy should guide one in one’s actions, if one wishes to be other than merely a jumped-up monkey throwing feces…or an idiot protesting against a simple health precaution, pretending to take a stand on principle when one is actually simply throwing a tantrum because one doesn’t want to do something sensible and healthful, like take a nap.

Naps are good.  So are masks in the right circumstances.

*Q.E.D. in other words—quod erat demonstrandum, “what was to be demonstrated”.  That’s my little nerdy joke, playing on the earlier nerdy “joke” that was the naming of quantum electrodynamics by physicists, shortening it to QED, because why would you not?

**The elephant is a metaphor of a powerful beast carrying around the conscious mind.  I am not implying that elephants themselves are destructive by nature, though of course, they can be.

Add title – stir until smooth

Whew.  You would think that after a day off, I would be more wide-awake this Monday morning.  However, you would be wrong if you thought that.  It’s not as if I did anything that drained my energy yesterday.  I did my laundry, for what that’s worth.  I watched some fan-reactions to Doctor Who episodes by the Gallifrey Gals, which is fun, but it’s not exactly draining, and I’d seen them before.  I didn’t even watch any golf or football, nor did I even play any PS4-based golf myself, which I sometimes do on the weekend.  I just lolled about.  The only words I even spoke to other people were in 7-11 when I got some food, and a passing “Hola” in response to the same from my new housemate when she was outside, and I was on my way to said 7-11.

I am tired.  Physically, I mean.  I feel that hitherto, Mondays have been the days in which I often write longer posts about more disparate subject matter than during the rest of the week, and I had guessed that was because of having a day off the day before.  Today, however, I don’t think I’m going to be doing that.  In fact, I can’t really think of an interesting topic.

I considered making an announcement that, okay, I’m not going to be writing about my distress anymore, about how I could really use some help if anyone has the wherewithal, otherwise I’m sure I’m going to die soon, because I’ve said it already, over and over, and no one is coming to help, and it’s just getting boring, and continues to be frustrating.  Well, I don’t think I’m going to make any “official” policy statement along those lines right now, because I don’t like to make promises (or threats) about such things, since I honestly usually don’t know how my moment-to-moment decisions might change.

I will just say that I’m veering along those lines.  I would dearly love it if anyone out there were able to help me, and had the inclination, since I don’t appear able to help myself, but I don’t think there’s any such person out there, and I doubt it would be worth anyone’s while, anyway.  What would be the point?  How could anyone gain at all, in any way, by helping something like me not to die?  There’s probably even a secret addendum to the Hippocratic Oath that specifies that, as part of the ethos of doing no harm, it’s better not to help people like me, since to keep me around is, by the nature of my being, a net harm to the world.

I don’t really think there is such a hidden bit to the Hippocratic Oath, by the way.  I’m sort of joking.  I know, it’s not very funny.

I’ve said before that I wish I had a drug problem or an alcohol problem, because those would rapidly become impossible to ignore, and there are more readily available resources for people dealing with those.  But I just don’t seem prone to such things.  One of my biggest problems, ironically, is that I’m able to keep moving forward in many different situations—not necessarily well, but to survive and remain superficially stable—for a long time.  I’m able to survive, even if only by the proverbial skin of my teeth, well past any point where there’s any good reason for me to do so, and I’m able to do it without causing undue drain on society, so to speak.

It’s really annoying.

I suppose there are probably a lot of people who, if they thought about it, are in a similar situation.  There’s the old quote—I don’t recall who said it—about how most men live lives of quiet desperation (and I assume it referred also to women).  I think it probably describes a great many people in the world, people scrambling every day to get by, to survive, to avoid overt disease and injury, with the goal simply of getting to the next day to do the same thing.

Now, for people who have family and friends with whom to spend time, I’d say that daily effort is almost certainly worth it.  There may be no real external meaning to life or the universe, but being with one’s friends and those one loves in general surely makes such considerations not very important.

For people who have issues socializing and who cannot be with the people they love—because those whom they love don’t necessarily want to be with them—it can be a real grind.  It’s hard to take a speculative approach to it, with the idea that if one just waits long enough or keeps trying, keeps going, their loved ones will come back to them, or they’ll meet new people they’re able to be close to, or something like that.  It feels too much like a person at a casino who keeps playing because they imagine that, sometime in the future, if they just keep playing, they’re going to hit a huge streak of luck, or someone who keeps playing the lottery expecting that, someday, they’ll win it big.

The odds are not with you.  If simple perseverance would guarantee eventually coming out ahead, then the casinos and the lottery would not be in business; they would have long ago gone bankrupt.  In the long run, on average, the house wins…and it wins well enough that it’s not really even a near thing.

Ah, well, it’s all pretty absurd, so expecting or hoping for lives that are deeply rational from an objective point of view is probably too much to ask, at least as a starting point.  Maybe that could be a civilizational aspiration, to strive to make a world where most people can live rewarding, satisfying lives in which they can pursue useful and meaningful projects and be with people they love and who love them.  It’s probably not happening to most people most of the time right now, but I don’t think the laws of physics forbid it from coming to pass.

It’s entirely possible that, overall, for most of the world, better days really are coming.  But I don’t think it’s the case for me.  My stake is almost spent, and I don’t think I’m even going to have any chips to cash out when I stop playing.  I guess that’s the way it goes.  In the end, everyone breaks even.

Can a day be both fried and scrambled?

First of all, let me apologize for yesterday’s bogus title and picture.  I had very little mental energy, which no doubt was obvious, and I just felt that I was wasting what little effort I could bring to bear by choosing a quote from Shakespeare to adjust with some form of the word “blog”, and then to find and modify a picture of some kind so that it matched (at least roughly) the subject or the title of the post.  If anyone was looking forward to seeing what “clever” thing I’d done this week, I’m legitimately sorry to have disappointed you.

I think all my posts this week have been dreary, even for me.  I’m gradually approaching the point of just giving up completely.  People usually say that they give up well before they really have.  I know that’s the case for me.  I’ve felt like I want to give up for some time now.  I have also asked, even practically begged, for help—though I’m not sure what form such help might take—on numerous occasions through this blog (and elsewhere), hoping that someone out there might have some ideas, or some resource suggestions, or even some words that I hadn’t read or heard or thought of already, but I’ve found nothing that’s really useful.

I’ve even gotten suggestions to read one of the psalms.  I’ve read all the psalms before, but I went and read it again.  Though they’re nice poetry, it didn’t inspire me in any way.  Sorry, person who suggested it, but I’ve read through the entire Bible at various times, and—though I appreciate your intentions, I really do—it’s not a source of consolation for someone like me.

I’ve thought over and over again about calling the “crisis hotline”, especially now that they added the 988 number to it, but then you read all about those warnings that, yes, they do track your location when you call.  I myself have previously, through a call to the hotline, had a run-in with the effing Palm Beach County Sheriff’s Department in which I got nerve damage in my left hand because I was handcuffed—because, of course, a suicidal person is dangerous to two armed PBSO deputies.  Then I got brought to a facility so bleak that I would almost have preferred the mass holding cells in Gun Club Road jail.

I suppose that story does highlight something that’s been in the news:  the fact that police are not trained or equipped to help people going through psychological crises; to be fair to them, it really isn’t part of their job description.  And if you can’t trust that you won’t be kidnapped by “the man” against your will, how are you supposed to be able to trust the crisis hotline?

Not that I don’t think the people who work on it are sincere—I’m quite sure they are and that they really want to do good.  But as I’ve said many times, good intentions are not enough.  Good intentions are just the beginning, and they are only barely that.  It’s not enough to mean to do good.  If you want actually to do good, you’re going to have to figure out how to make that happen, and adjust your approaches and improve them over time as you learn.

I wonder if one of the VPNs your keep hearing about might be useful enough that I could at least use the crisis line “chat” function without being tracked and hunted down by police officers (who are also, I’m quite confident, desirous of doing good, but are not equipped or trained to do so in a psychological or psychiatric emergency situation).  Would just “going incognito” on Google Chrome be enough?  Does anyone out there know?


Sorry about the interruption just now, though I know you didn’t actually experience it.  I suddenly started getting some esophageal spasm, and I had to rush to get a drink from the fountain at the train station to help relax my esophagus.  It’s quite painful, and it’s disconcerting, and the first time you have it, you feel like you must be having a heart attack or maybe an aortic dissection, but it responds to warm water (at least in my case) which is basically like stretching and warming a charley horse, and heart attacks don’t do that, and neither do aortic dissections.

So, where was I?

Oh, right, I was wondering about ways possibly to get in contact with the crisis hotline without being in danger of getting abducted and taken to an involuntary mental health facility—getting “Baker Acted”, in other words.  If anyone out there knows if just “going incognito” is enough, please let me know in the comments below, NOT on Facebook or Twitter.

I think I’m quite a bit past those first, heady days of thinking that I want to give up, and am really near the point of actually doing it, of actually not caring at all about trying to continue.  I guess I do care about not wanting to be incarcerated, even if it’s in a mental health facility.  The public ones I’ve seen around these parts are just dreary and, well, depressing.

It would be nice to have someone to talk to about these kinds of things, someone I felt comfortable with, someone for whom I don’t have to try to put on a happy (or in my case, probably just a blank) face.  Apparently my face is not very expressive at the best of times.  Certainly nobody seems to pick up on the fact that I’m horribly depressed a lot of the time, most every day.  I think I’ve been trained too much—partly by myself—to pretend.  They call it masking.  Also, it turns out, I’m just not able to express my emotions well, and often not able even to realize what they are from moment to moment.

It’s interesting that people will sometimes send you things like “hugs” on Facebook or through text messages and things, like the hug emojis, you know what I mean?  Now, being apparently an Aspie, as I guess they say, I’m not great with even real hugs from most people, but e-hugs feel peculiar (albeit in quite a different way).  I guess they’re a way of showing that the person cares and “wishes” they could hug you for real.  That’s legitimately nice, and I wouldn’t want to discourage it.

But, like I said, I feel reticent about even real hugs, though from certain people, at certain times, hugs have been great.  Apparently, I’m a bit like a cat in that.  I really don’t even like it when people I don’t know well come up and, while talking to me, put a hand on my shoulder or something.  Though, in the right circumstances, a shoulder and neck massage can be great, preferably when it’s something I’ve sought out.

I don’t even like going to the barber shop, because having strangers touch me even to that degree is just uncomfortable, and that’s gotten worse over time.  You can imagine how much fun it is to be handcuffed and chained and all that.  I’ve had more than enough of that crap for the rest of my life, I can promise you; I would be tempted just to force police officers to shoot me rather than let myself be handcuffed again if the situation arose.

I may just be out of luck here.  There may not be resources to help someone in south Florida who is an “ex-con”, a disgraced doctor, divorced, alone, with chronic pain and, apparently, autism spectrum disorder, as well as dysthymia/depression, who is a long way away from most of his family (certainly those who would want to have anything to do with him), and who doesn’t want to cause any of them trouble, anyway.  It’s frustrating, sometimes, to know that there are resources for people with drug and alcohol problems, there’s public and private support, and people are even celebrated (justly so) for their struggles to defeat them, but if your problems are not with substances but with a fucked up nervous system, then it’s hard to find resources, and humiliating to seek them out.  The world just kind of blames you for the problem.  You’re weak.  You’re defective.  You’re inadequate.  You’re just faulty.

To be fair, though, I don’t like myself enough to be proactive about my mental or physical health much anymore.  I’ve used many different antidepressants and related meds and therapy of various kinds; I’ve tried to see if there’s any religion or philosophy or technique that gives me comfort*.  I just keep coming back to as bad or worse states.

It’s been said by some (usually quite successful) people that being happy is a choice, but that strikes me just as a way for people who happen to be happy to pat themselves on the back while they blame the unhappiness of the unhappy on the unhappy themselves.  They can feel that they deserve their own happiness, and wash their hands of the problem.  “If you’re unhappy, it’s your choice.  Choose not to be.  Get over it.”

What utter bullshit.  You didn’t build your brain or your body or your background, and you can’t “freely” choose what its set-points are.  The workings of the brain and mind are not understood well enough for us to know what “buttons” to push or “dials” to adjust to achieve, reliably, a desired state.  Believe me, no depressed person, if suddenly fully cured of depression and all its causes and sequelae, would choose to feel horrible and wishing to die again.  If they “choose” to be depressed, that’s part of what depression is.

Anyway, I’m not getting anywhere with this…probably because I’m not going anywhere with this.  It’s also getting too long.  But I am despondent, and washed-out, and just getting apathetic about it all, mostly.  I really think I’m near the stage of just letting go.  I want to stop trying to “cry for help”.  It doesn’t do any good, and I don’t see any signs that anyone out there knows any answers that are better than the ones I already know, which I know don’t work.

No one has mastered the merger of quantum mechanics and general relativity; if they had, it would probably soon become self-evident.  And no one has mastered the art of repairing the dysfunctional mind.  It would be too obvious if they had.

If I’m wrong, please tell me.  I could use the knowledge.

*Nope.  Nothing I’ve encountered so far has done the trick, and I am a widely and eclectically read and educated individual.  Most of what I’ve found is puerile.  Let’s be honest, if there was some method or insight or spiritual factor that reliably worked to make life better for people who tried it, it would rapidly become glaringly obvious, and would stand out among all the various treatments and philosophies and religions and pills and machines and other substances.  It would be clear that the people who applied it were better-adjusted and healthier than most others, and they would probably happily share the insights.  True insights, like addition and subtraction, are usually logically demonstrable.  If someone has to sell you something, to give you a pitch and try to convince you with rhetoric rather than with reason and evidence that it’s good—if they sell it with pictures of models and shots of beautiful homes and flowers and all that—it is unlikely to be all that it’s cracked up to be.  You don’t have to “sell” people on antibiotics if they have a bacterial infection; if anything, you’ve got to prevent them from overusing them.

Paper bags get wet on rainy Mondays

Well, this wouldn’t be a good day for Karen Carpenter—at least if the lyrics of one of her songs accurately described her feelings—because it’s a Monday, and it’s raining.  Since both of those things, according to the song, always got her down, then the combination of the two seems likely to have done so doubly.

Unless, that is, the combination follows the rules of multiplication rather than addition.  Adding two negatives produces a more negative outcome, but multiplying them together turns the product positive.  Maybe then the combination of a rainy day that’s also a Monday would have boosted her spirits.  I think she could have used a boost.

As for me, well, rainy days don’t tend to get me down particularly.  They don’t necessarily cheer me up, either, though sometimes I enjoy them.  Right now, the rain is here either as a consequence of or as part of the cause of a slight drop in temperature, which is nice, because it’s been quite hot and muggy with little to no respite for quite some time.

You’d almost think I lived in south Florida.

And as for Mondays, well, even when growing up I never had a big dislike of Mondays, and that’s not my only divergence from Bob Geldoff.  I certainly didn’t dread school; I was always a pretty good student, and school was where I had my friends.

Also, I have usually preferred to have a purpose of some kind, so whether it was school or work, I never particularly disliked getting up and going in to either one.  I like having a schedule, with things to do and a place to be at a particular time.  If anything, weekends sometimes make me feel a bit lost, at least when I don’t have any family structure or any reason to do anything in particular.  I just loaf around feeling rudderless.

Of course, this weekend, I definitely welcomed the rest.  As I think I mentioned, all last week I was fighting a virus, and didn’t get a chance to take a day off, so I needed the break.  As it turns out, I had to go briefly into the office on Saturday morning, because the other person with whom I alternate Saturdays had lost his keys, and our boss was already well on his way to Key West*, so he was much farther away that I was.  It happens; I wasn’t too upset about it, but I really didn’t feel very well.

Honestly, I’m still not really feeling very well, physically, though I certainly feel better than I did on Saturday, when I was tired and grumpy and a bit out of breath.  Now I’m just a bit out of breath, and a bit tired; but I don’t feel particularly grumpy.

Give it time, it’s early in the day.

I even brought my book of all Radiohead song chords to the house over the weekend, just in case I got the urge, during that time in which I was supposed to be undisturbed, to play guitar.  I did not, of course—I could have told myself I wouldn’t—but then again, I wasn’t actually undisturbed, but rather got no fewer than four surprise impositions on my time and space.  But I don’t want to dwell too much on those, or I will get grumpy.

I’m really just physically, mentally, and emotionally fatigued, I think, and it’s not something I enjoy.  I certainly don’t get any kind of secondary gain from it, unless it’s the secondary “gain” of fulfillment of my self-hatred, since I can’t really socialize very well anymore, I don’t have the sort of personality that makes people want to spend time with me—I also don’t enjoy doing things such as most people seem to enjoy—and I frankly don’t even want to take the chance of trying to get involved with other people, since I have an almost 100% track record of alienating those closest to me, the people I love, and on whom I rely, the most.

Maybe Tennyson was an idiot, or at least simple-minded, when he said that it’s better to have loved and lost than never to have loved at all.  Or maybe he was thinking more along the lines of someone like Voldemort, who was incapable of love and lived a life of misery, making other people suffer, before dooming himself to an eternity of pain.  That really doesn’t sound so good.

Shakespeare was a bit more on the money with Hamlet’s inclusion of the “pangs of despis’d love” as one of the things a person wouldn’t willingly bear if they could avoid it.  And then there’s Fiona Apple, who in her song, Paper Bag notes that “Hunger hurts, but starving works when it costs too much to love.”

Not that poetry (or song) automatically has any access to truth, even if it’s beautiful.  Just because someone can put words together nicely, in ways that catch people’s attention and appeal to their cognitive biases doesn’t mean that those words actually bear any deep wisdom.  As witness:  “If the glove does not fit, you must acquit.”

That’s the problem with rhetoric, as opposed to dispassionate argument.  Often it “persuades” people because of the clever manipulation of the foibles of the human psyche, forged as it was in the savannahs of sub-Saharan Africa over the course of a million to a hundred thousand years, depending on when you start your cutoff.  People can embrace non-sequiturs and internal contradictions without giving them much notice, if they trigger the right emotion or have a catchy beat or sound or structure.

This is why, unlike Mulder from The X-files, I don’t want to believe.  I want to be convinced by evidence and argument…preferably the dispassionate kind.  Passion is nice to feel, but when considering someone’s attempt to persuade you, it should be a warning sign, in them or in you or in both.  Being passionate doesn’t guarantee that you’re not right, but even if you are, it may mean you’re right for bad reasons, and it doesn’t help your chances of getting things right.  Passion is a decent servant but an unreliable master.

no belief

Maybe I worry about such things too much.  Though even the words “too much” carry assumptions that, for the most part, people don’t notice or try to pick apart.  Too much for what purpose, by what standards, according to whom, for what reason?  If this much is too much, how does one determine how much would be just right?  How much would be too little?  What would be the good and bad consequences of any of these states, and would they be different depending on external conditions?

Probably I’m overthinking it.  But what do you want from me on a rainy Monday?

*How ironic.  Well, not, not really ironic.  But it is an amusing coincidence of words.

Is this an untitled blog post?

It’s Friday, and this time it really is the end of the workweek for me.  I’m pleased by that fact.  Indeed, I came very close to abstaining from work even today.  I’m just beat from this week, and I’m still not over whatever this virus is that I have.  But I figured I might as well go into the office for the week’s last hurrah.  It’s a slightly shorter workday than usual, anyway, and that helps me find to will to proceed.

I’m not sure what to write, today.  I expect I’ll try to make this brief, since my energy level is rather low.  There have been fewer “likes” for my blog posts this week than usual, and I’m not too surprised.  I’ve been even grumpier and more negative than is my norm, because I’ve been ill, and people seem to prefer blogs with “uplifting” messages…whether they have anything to do with reality or not.

Also, the medicine I take to treat my symptoms—especially the decongestants—tends to make me more tense than usual (and that’s saying something!), and that doesn’t help make me more pleasant, I’m sure.

I guess the positive of this is, if I feel better by Monday, I’ll probably write at least a little more enjoyable a post, so that’s something for regular, loyal readers to anticipate optimistically.  I don’t know what topic or topics I’ll address, but then again, I still don’t even know what topic I’ll address here today—as you can probably tell.

I’ve gotten on the train, now, and honestly, I’m already beginning to regret having decided to go in.  I’m just so physically tired.  But as I think I’ve mentioned before, being at the house is not really much more relaxing than being at the office, and at least at the office I can sometimes, occasionally, feel that I’m doing something useful.  Also, at the office I have interpersonal interactions, which are at least a bit interesting, and there are even people there that I like.

It’s an interesting fact that I’ve gradually realized about myself that I’ve never had friends that I made just for the sake of having friends.  I had friends, of course, good ones, but they were people I met at school, people I saw every day, and so I got to know them during the course of doing our other, mutual, purpose-oriented stuff.

If I hadn’t had school to attend—if I’d been home-schooled, for instance, or if my family had moved frequently from place to place—I don’t know if I would have made any real friends at all.  As it was, though, my family stayed in the house in which I grew up right up until after I’d left for college, and of course, I was the youngest of three, so my home and school environments were pretty consistent, and I ended up making very good friends indeed, particularly through junior high and high school.

Then in college it was comparatively easy to make friends, because I lived in the dorms, and had a roommate.  In fact, my roommate and I were able to get along with each other pretty well, so we stayed roommates throughout my time in college.  And we made some other good friends along the way, and eventually, by senior year, five of us shared an apartment.

I feel bad that, for instance, my daughter’s university experience up to now has been basically done from home due to the pandemic.  I would not have wanted to miss out on my own college experiences, though there were also many heartbreaking and difficult things that happened in college as well.  But, of course, I met my kids’ mother in college, in the orchestra; we both played cello.  I can’t regret that.

Now, unfortunately, the people at work are too different from me, and are in different situations, and I have trouble finding anyone that I could expect to spend much time with outside of work.  And I’m not very good at doing social interactions that aren’t embedded in some other, more purpose-based endeavor.  I think I’ve always been like that, but it didn’t present that many obstacles, because I’d always been pretty successful, and the purpose-based endeavors I was involved in were populated by people with whom I had at least some things in common.  Then, of course, for a while I was married, and my ex-wife tends to be a much more social person than I am.  And once we had kids, I had my family, and that was all the social life I needed or desired, and more than I probably would have ever thought I would have.

Unfortunately, now I don’t have my family around me, and my former career is thoroughly wrecked, and I don’t have the skill or even the comprehension of how to gather supportive friends or people with shared interests, so I’m pretty much adrift on my own.  Of course, from a certain point of view, everyone is always adrift and alone anyway, no matter how many people are around one, but humans in general do seem to receive actual, measurable benefits from being in a community, which makes sense in a highly social primate species.

Whereas “Nexus-13, alien, changelings” like me are, well…come to think of it, I just don’t know any “Nexus-13, alien, changelings” like me.  So I don’t even know whether I’d be able to make friends with one if I met one.  Possibly not.

But, at least, I have the (I expect) uninterrupted weekend before me, and no pressing responsibilities, so hopefully I’ll be able to rest, if not to sleep.  I hope all of you have a good weekend, too.

Excuse me, Miss Anthrope? The doctor will see you now.

It’s Wednesday now—hello, Wednesday, you’re my second favorite member of the Addams family—and at least I think I’ve figured out why Monday night/Tuesday morning was particularly bad for sleep for me:  I’ve been coming down with the respiratory virus that’s now going around the office.

It’s not COVID—we’ve been tested and all that—it’s just an annoying cold-type virus, but one that nevertheless made two other people in the office who had it stay home.  Unfortunately, I could not stay home (or leave early) yesterday or today, despite feeling crappy, because one of the people who was out yesterday is the only other person who shares a crucial function in the office with me.  And today I am even less able to stay home from the office, because in addition to the other work—and the fact that, for all I know, my coworker will be out again today—I have to process the payroll today.

Of course, I wear my mask on the train anyway, just as a general precaution, so I’m doing that today, even though by court order the CDC (or TSA, maybe) had to revoke its mandate about wearing masks on public transport.  Because, you know, masks are a cruel and unusual imposition on the delicate faces of the great American pubic…I mean public.

I can’t believe what a bunch of panty-waisted whiners so many people are about wearing effing masks, if only just to at least decrease a little bit the odds of them spreading stuff to other people in the world (and with the added bonus of sparing their neighbors from having to look at their unimpeded faces).  And a lot of these wimps are gun-toting Republicans, people who imagine themselves to be rugged, independent, frontier types.  But they’re afraid of needles and afraid of masks, and afraid they can’t defend their homes and their Wal-marts and their ways of life without dozens of firearms each*.

I hope—I wish—that the next time any person who complained about mask wearing needs serious medical interventions, such as surgery, the whole surgical and medical team decides that masks are an unreasonable imposition from the Nanny State, and that avoiding increasing the risk to these patients’ lives is not worth their minor inconvenience and discomfort…and then proceed to cough and sneeze into the open abdominal cavity or chest or whatever part of the body that is getting treated.

And hand washing—that’s got to be an unconstitutional imposition as well, isn’t it?  George Washington fought the Nazis at Gettysburg not just to throw off the yolk of the Roman Empire, but also to give all Americans the freedom not to have to wash their hands at the behest of dictatorial scientists who use their imprimatur of authority to seize and maintain their control of the top corporate and government positions all throughout America and the rest of the world.  Just look how many top scientists are running nations and major corporations, making billions upon trillions of dollars each, every year…money that’s taken from hard working Americans on farm subsidies and disability, money that’s taken from their houses in the middle of the night at gunpoint, while they sleep, by Islamic terrorists who are part of the International, global Zionist conspiracy.

Okay, sorry, enough of that pretend rant.  I just have no respect for wimps who can’t stand to take a little personal responsibility for tiny bits of inconvenience to help protect themselves and their fellow citizens.  They’ll make all sorts of excuses—not very clever ones, usually—but ultimately their protests and complaints come down to tantrums about not getting everything their way.  Most of the pundits in the media have all the character of spoiled toddlers who don’t want to brush their teeth and go to bed.

When I think about ways to kill myself, which happens rather often, I frequently rule out a lot of them right away just because they would inconvenience too many other people**, and I wouldn’t want to do that.  But maybe I shouldn’t bother to take that into consideration.  Humans in general don’t seem to worry too much about other humans being inconvenienced; why should I worry about inconveniencing them?  Let them (hypothetically) deal with my messy corpse in the middle of their workday.

On the other hand, maybe the rude and irritating people, the people who are whiny and inconsiderate—not wanting to be inconvenienced themselves, but entirely willing to cause trouble for others—are simply noisier, more noticeable than all the other, finer people out there.  After all, one doesn’t tend to notice the countless members of the public who go through their days quietly, politely, doing their part and yielding the right-of-way as it were.  That’s precisely because they try not to cause unnecessary inconvenience to other people, but it makes them lower profile.

And the small fraction of people who are disgusting, whiny brats get noticed precisely because they are disgusting, whiny brats.  And they make the rest of the human race look bad, and also they do far more than their share of damage to the world and to others.

If only we could find a way to isolate these people and prevent them from breeding.  Oh, well.  We’ll send at least some of them off to hold political office in the meantime, which at least gets them away from trying to do anything productive, where they’ll only make things worse.

Huh, that’s weird.  I seem to have talked myself around to at least considering that the majority of the human race might be less reprehensible than I sometimes feel they are.  I really must be sick.  Anyway, try not to be too put off if I occasionally indulge my instinct for misanthrope; believe me, the one person in the world I hate most of all is myself.

*I am not a dogmatic anti-gun person.  I’ve owned a few guns when I could, and I enjoyed target shooting; I shot competitively, in fact, and successfully.  But there’s a difference between shooting recreationally or owning a weapon for potential personal protection (and training appropriately for that purpose, since otherwise it’s more likely to do harm than good) and fetishizing guns, the bigger the better.

**To be honest, though, it’s also often at least partly because I can’t see myself quite being able to work up the nerve to do them, at least not without getting supremely drunk or similarly impaired.  For instance, I wouldn’t want to throw myself in front of a train partly because it would inconvenience a great many commuters…but it’s also just too intimidating a prospect, viscerally, when I consider it.  Setting myself on fire with gasoline would probably be easier.

It blinded me…with science!

It’s Saturday morning, and I’m at the train station quite a bit too early for the first northbound train of the day.  I woke up much earlier yet, quite a bit earlier than I would need to wake up to get even to the train I usually take in the morning during the week.  Yet the office opens for business an hour later on Saturdays than during the week, so there’s no office-related reason for me to get up or leave so early.  I just can’t seem to sleep all the way through the night.

This morning, I woke up at about 2:30 am, and I couldn’t get back to sleep after that.  This isn’t unusual.  I do go to bed relatively early—starting to wrap things up about 9 pm, most nights—because even if I don’t get to sleep early, I still tend to wake up early, so if I want to get at least some sleep, I need to go to bed early.  Then I can wind down and relax a bit, watch a few videos I’ve seen before*, and hopefully drop off before eleven.

Last night I was able to do that, but I woke up unable to relax again, so I decided to watch a video I had marked for myself to check out.  It’s about the basic math and ideas regarding the strong nuclear force and “color” charge, as it relates to spin, and to regular charge, and to the Pauli exclusion principle.

It sounds dense, I know, but it’s actually quite fun—I’ll embed the video below, because I think anyone interested in such things might enjoy it.  The guy speaking just obviously loves his subject, and even gets transported with delight in explaining the analogy to the way our eyes process “real” color out in the world, and how color television and monitors work.  This analogy is, evidently, why physicists used the term “color” to describe the interactions in the strong nuclear force, which has nothing to do with actual colors as we normally use the term.

There are some vectors and ket notation stuff in the video, but it’s not really necessary to understand it specifically.  The presenter does a good job of conveying the gist, and it’s quite wonderful.  After watching it, I felt that I understood the strong force significantly better than I had before, and that’s one of those rare, reliable good feelings.

I often wish I had stuck with my original intent to go into Physics as a career.  Unfortunately, my path was derailed when I was found to have a congenital heart defect** that had to be surgically corrected.  Heart-lung bypass, such as happens when one has open-heart surgery, has cerebral effects because of the “unnatural” way the brain is perfused with blood during the process, and it often causes transient cognitive deficits.

This is not the only cerebral dysfunction that can manifest.   I realized only in retrospect that I had another one as well—for the first few hours after I awakened from my surgery, I was blind.  At the time I just assumed something was covering my eyes, in addition to the ventilator in my mouth, the three chest tubes, the straps holding both of my wrists, and the more-than-one IV line I had.  I didn’t think much of the blindness because I had other things on my mind.  It was very painful to have open-heart surgery, surprisingly enough.

Anyway, being 18 years old at the time, I recovered from a lot of the other stuff pretty quickly.  But I had a a temporary cognitive deficit.  It was not enough to make me need to take a year off college or anything—it never would have occurred to me even to consider such a show of “weakness”.  I did, however, find the calculus and physics classes in second year as a physics major too difficult to keep up with, and that was frustrating.

It was not helped by the fact that I had been triggered—again, not at all an unusual effect of heart-lung bypass—to have a significant exacerbation of my dysthymia into what was probably my first real, full-blown bout of major depression.

Faced with my difficulties, and at that time thinking I would be in the Navy after college anyway, I had to switch majors to English.  This is not a horrible thing, obviously.  I love English—the language and the literature in general—and I love to read, and obviously I’m a writer.  My overall GPA did, however, go down slightly compared to Physics (not counting the first semester after my surgery), and it turns out this was probably at least partly due to my other ASD.  I had a terrible time in those small-group classes because I did not know when to comment, when to ask questions, or even where people were getting their thoughts and ideas about the various things we were reading.  I liked the stories, and I liked wordplay and intricate language, but the process of discussion and interpretation and interaction about it all was thoroughly puzzling to me.  And needless to say, writing essays that would please the professors was a tall order; I had no idea what they might want.

Obviously I got through the rest of college, though not without lots of heart-rending things happening—personal, familial, career-wise, psychiatric/psychological, physical***—and found myself deciding to go to medical school because I had to do something, I had relevant personal experience, and I love Biology almost as much as Physics.  Medicine was a career in which I could do a lot of good, and it was basically zero risk.

By “zero risk” I mean, I knew that I could get into and pass medical school.  The sorts of things required are right in my wheelhouse:  standardized tests, Chemistry, Biology, dealing with things other people think are “gross”, remembering and understanding complex systems and their interactions—things with actual, concrete answers.  And I’m actually pretty good at caring for other people.  It’s not that it wasn’t hard work, don’t get me wrong.  But it was work I knew that I could do, unlike—for instance—understanding what I should write to get an A on an essay about The Faerie Queene.

Of course, had I not gone into medicine, other things would not have happened that have been thoroughly catastrophic for my life, from which I have not even come close to recovering.  But I cannot and will not ever truly regret anything that happened before the birth of children, so I don’t truly regret not going into Physics as a career.

But it would be nice to have someone around in my actual life with whom I could have conversations about stuff that really interests me, apart from stories, which I seem to have lost my knack for enjoying.  At best, I can sometimes tell the other people around me about some interesting fact or concept, and sometimes they’ll appreciate how cool it is, but then that’s that.  Anyway, I seem to have lost most, if not all, of the social skills I’d had in the past, so it’s hard even to imagine seeking out someplace to interact with such people.

Oh, well.  No one (with authority to do so) ever promised that life would be satisfying, and many smart people have reckoned that life is inherently unsatisfying, so I have no one but myself with whom to lodge any complaints.  The universe is the way it is.  We were not asked for input when it came into existence, and we do not have veto power over any of the facts of nature.

I won’t endorse the old tee-shirt slogan, “There is no gravity—the Earth sucks”.  But I will rather cheerily say, “There is no gravity—the universe is just warped.”  It’s a nerd joke I came up with myself (though others probably have done so also), and so I like it.  It’s also, basically, true.

*I watch previously seen ones so that I don’t get engaged in thinking about new things too late at night, because that can keep me up even more than usual.

**An atrial septal defect, shortened to ASD, but not to be confused with the more commonly seen modern acronym for Autism Spectrum Disorder, which I seem also to have.  So, interestingly, I was born with two ASDs, one discovered at age 18 and surgically corrected, the other discovered or realized (by me, anyway) when I was just over 50, and it cannot be corrected, per se.  I’ve done a literature search and skimmed through some papers, and it seems there is a higher incidence of such cardiac defects in people with Autism Spectrum Disorders, but the reason for the correlation is not at all clear.

***No one goes through open heart surgery without some physical sequelae.