Lessons

In the last few weeks a whole crap ton of things came to a head.  I got some new perspective from all of it, though some were tough to handle.

The first is that I have absolutely no damn clue what I’m doing in relationships, and that’s probably the best damn state to be in.  The thing was is that I always thought I knew what I was doing.  I was just, more often then not, very very wrong.  I cocked up a lot of shit out of hubris more then anything else.   So we get to that very special sort of Socratic moment where I realize I am enlightened…simply because I am fully willing to admit I haven’t got a damn clue of what I’m doing, and very few others are willing to admit that.

Truth be told, I know very few people who say they know what they’re doing…and actually know what they’re doing.

While it seems a simple lesson, I learned that there are some bbattles not worth your time.  I’m not getting into this one in detail out of respect for the involved parties.  The resolution of the matter is pretty simple though.  I’ve got two kinds of friends.  One disrespects me constantly, and the other doesn’t.  I’ve resolved to deal with the first group as little as possible.

I’ve learned that, while rice looks harmless…do not turn you back on it.

I don’t know, right now I’m such a jumble.  Part of that was that I really didn’t sleep for a week solid, and I’m still getting over a cold.

Sometimes I think that the metaphorical gods I walk amongst each day aren’t nearly as big as they think they are.  I dunno.  That could just be the injured brain talking…

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Chasing the Yellow Rat

I’m still under the weather, and trying to discuss anything deeply philosophical isn’t sounding worth the hassle at the moment.  So, since I feel like writing something that is self-indulgent, I’m going to write about my long term addiction to Pokemon. 

I started with the series with Pokemon Blue.  I had received a Gameboy Color for the Christmas of 1998, so that would put me at 17.  Which was a bit old, I suppose, for the game was made with a slightly younger demographic in mind.  It didn’t stop me though cause it was really a blast to play.  The concept was new and fresh for the time, and the capacity for myself and some of my friends to beat the snot out of each other via the media of rodents and birds was surprisingly entertaining.

In time, I’d follow the series more or less faithfully.  I played Blue, Red, and Yellow from Generation I; Gold and Silver from Generation II; Ruby, Sapphire, Emerald, Fire Red and Lead Green from Generation III; and then Platinum, Pearl, Diamond, and Heart Gold from Generation IV.  So, for those of you keeping track?  That means I missed out on Crystal, Soul Silver, Black, and White. 

If you’re asking about some of the non-central games like Pokemon Snap, Trozei, and Pokemon Channel?  Meh.  Those games are okay I suppose, but I have no desire to really play them much at all.  The core games actually had game play that could challenge an adult mindset and hold interest for a more tactical mindset, and those other ones really directed themselves more to the original age range.

However, that tactical mindset and surprisingly meaty play curve? That’s why I keep coming back to the Pokemon games. You really can get as much out of them as you put into them.  The training and breeding mechanics have a surprising amount of depth, and the meta involved with team selection is much more vibrant then you’d expect.  I’d do go so far as to say that the meta involved in team creation, training, tactics and move selection is even more difficult to properly gauge then Magic the Gathering’s deck options…as while there are less Pokemon to work with then cards, the reasons why one would select a Raichu over a Jolteon are a bit more varied, as are the moves that each can use.

Now, the plot of Pokemon games is more predictable then a God of War game, without any of the characterization or depth.  In every one, you are trainer Nameless McGee, who wants to be the very best like no one ever was blah blah blah.  The mechanics, while complex, are often dated in their implementation.  A great example is the rather laborious experience point grinding that is required to get to the level cap.  Further, I find it really vexing that Nintendo seems to need to fill in the rosters of each generation with the same number of Pokemon no one will ever fucking use or with knock offs of more enjoyable versions. 

Pokemon always grips me, and it always seems to do so in the same way.  If you have friends into it, it can be one of those water cooler games that you can discuss for longer then you’d expect.  It’s a fun little romp if nothing else. 

A Flu-tile Endevor

So, I’m sick.

I ended up heading to an internet cafe in town to see if the change of pace would give my brain stem the needed inspiration to do something productive.  So many projects to work on, too!  Converting what old poetry I can find on to a recently created Deviant Art account.  Working on some sort of pencil and paper RP for my girlfriend.  Work on my whole Skald project.  Read some more Stinson.  Work on some pokemon stuff.  Tons of other little things too.

The problem is that the only creative thing I was able to create was the title….where the pun wasn’t very creative but is still making me internally giggle for no damn good reason.

So it seems my IQ is suffering a bit of a status downgrade, while my magnificent brain tries to figure out how to occupy the inside of my skull without the aide of ibuprofen and/or Aleve.  As such, I’m just going to spit out a couple of random nuggets that I’m thinking of.

*Recently, I gave the aforementioned girlfriend a poem.  She liked it, of which I am so amazingly glad.  The most interesting reactions, however, came from friend who I showed the poem to first.  Sis thought it was nice, but asked me why the hell I was asking anyone’s opinion because no one else’s opinion but the girlfriend’s mattered.  I showed it to a mutual acquiescence and her husband; she said she thought it was impressive.  The husband got stuck on why the hell I had wrote a love poem about Chopin and Sand, until it was explained that it was an insane reference.  Probably the most interesting reaction was tank’s, whose uncensored opinion shall not be so written here.  Short version was that she was trying to figure out why I thought it was still the 1700s, and was using the words “woo” and “court” without irony.

*I’ve been carrying around a walking stick lately, something I’ve always wanted to have at hand but I never had the nerve to carry around despite not needing it.  The con is that people seem more prone to hold doors open for me, which make me feel guilty.  The pro is that the thing is useful as hell…now I know why Scrooge McDuck always had one handy.  Walking sticks are pretty damn awesome.  Also on the subject of Ducktails….I recently saw a book with the lyrics and notations for the theme song to the cartoon. Whoever wrote that book needs to be reprimanded.  It’s “Wooo ooooh!” not “Oooo Oooo”. 

*I saw Brave with Liz (damn, I’m turning into one of those guys!  Haha).  The movie was great, but since it was a Pixar movie that was to be expected.  What DID catch me off guard was the amazing number of movie trailers that instantly sold me on the movie so advertised.  Paranorman, Hotel Transylvania, Wreck-It Ralph, Monsters University, and Rise of the Guardians.  The only movies I didn’t care about were the new Ice Age movie (which at least is advertising a Simpson’s short in order to make in interesting) and Finding Nemo in 3D (3D makes my eyes hurt).  You got to hand it to a movie where even the previews keep you on the edge of your seat.

*In terms of BAD commercials, though, one of the generic pre-movie ads depicted some really bizarre singy-muppet thing that starred Carry Elwes and Christopher Lloyd.  This depressed me, until I convinced myself that the movie was depicting a fight/team-up between Wesley and Doctor Emit Brown…which would probably be the best case scenario for a “Back to the Future” reboot while we are on the subject.

*Hi.  My name is Harrison Hall, and I’m addicted to Pokemon. (“Hi Harrison!”)

*On the subject of names, I’ve realized I have so many pseudonyms on the internet that I should really be some sort of criminal….because otherwise I might be just wasting my time.

In either case, that’s all I got for today.  My brain feels a little more active…but I’m fairly certain this is a passing phase for the day.

Foreign, Desert Religions

When I first started writing this, it was intended as a critique on some of the work of Mark Stinson.  Stinson is one of the founder’s of Jotun’s Bane Kinded in Kansas City, and I’ve had a touch and go relationship with some of his opinions.  When I examined my thoughts on certain aspects on his books, I realized this wasn’t an issue with my thoughts on Mark Stinson’s ideas, but on Mark Stinson’s rhetoric.

In Heathen Gods, Stinson says in the preface that he isn’t anti-Christian saying “This collection is not an anti-Christian manifesto.” and “Out kindred and these essays focus on moving beyond Christianity”.  As the book progresses, Stinson frequently talks about people converting from Christianity to Heathenism.  In one of these essays, the following quote may be found.

“For me personally, it was easy to transition from the mess that is Christianity, with all of its dogmatic guilt-mongering and fear-based brain-washing.  It was easy to leave behind the abandonment of physical enjoyment, the condemnation of life-affirming action, and all the pathetic hypocrites hiding in every church pew”

Now,  some may suggest that taking this quote outside of the essay it came from is taking it out of context; I don’t buy that.  The statement, even in context, is inflammatory and pejorative statement.  This isn’t showing the strength of our kin; it’s showing our pettiness.

Now,  will be the first to acknowledge that there is some absolute dross within the ranks of Christianity.  Jack T. Chick.  The anti-charity and pro-objectivism Republicans that claim to be devout and pious.  The entirety of the Westboro Baptist Church.  Christian hate is a real thing, and it’s a real problem.  There are people who distort history and fact for the sake of their own faux-morality.

My problem is that statements take us down to their level.  Let me take that inflammatory quote, and change some words around.

“For me personally, it was easy to transition from the mess that is Heathenry, with all of its dogmatic hate-mongering and race-based brain-washing.  It was easy to leave behind the abandonment of compassion, the condemnation of the broad palette of diverse culture, and all the pathetic posturing in every kindred.”

That’s a load of bullshit right?  Well, of course it is; that quote talks about the worst of us and misses the bigger picture in favor of someone’s personal bias.  It takes the very worst of us, and presents it as the standard.  I hated writing it, and I can barely stand posting it.

The problem is that it’s the exact sort of statement Stinson made about Christianity, simply turned around and pointed back towards us.  It was using the worst, most crude and unformed part of a faith’s following, and using it to create a census on which all members of that faith are to be judged.

We’re supposed to be better then that.  Yes, our faith was destroyed by  a bunch of politically motivated yahoos, but I’d hardly call that a modern problem.  The people who attacked our faith have been dead for centuries, and much raking isn’t going to help anyone.  Heathenry has a second chance now, and whatever was done before our great-grandfather’s, great grandfather was born is so much dust in the wind.

It gets worse when you consider that this hatred isn’t just silly; it’s actively counter-productive.  As a Heathen, I am to honor my ancestors, their deeds, and the gifts they passed to me.  Well, a great deal of my ancestors were Catholic.  I am never going to be Catholic, but their faith gave them some of the vestiges of morality and etiquette that were passed onto me.  Am I supposed to abhor my ancestors for their firm faith, which they would have fought tooth and nail to defend?

My grandfather was a carpenter, a brewer, a decorated soldier in World War II, a talent pool shooter, had the will to quit Cigarette smoking cold turkey, and has inspired me beyond words.  He was Catholic.  If you’d consider that a weakness?  Then I will tell you that your hatred blinds you, because some of the very values that the Heathen faith praises were given to me that very same Catholic man.

I don’t think Stinson is being malevolent and purposeful with his statements, but they’re not helpful regardless of his intent.  In trying to bolster our faith, he has insulted other faiths by putting them down.  That’s not the actions of an honorable man, which is troubling;  Stinson seems like he is trying to be a very honorable man.

Earlier in the same essay that the above quote came from, Stinson put forth the following question:

“Isn’t Heathenry rich enough and complete enough that we can describe it without having to compare and contrast it with Christianity?”

That a very valid question.  It’s a question that refers to Christianity, without having to debase it or sunder it.  In that same spirit of constructive reflection, I’d like to turn this quote around as well.

Isn’t Heathenry rich enough and complete enough, and that we can raise it up without having to lower Christianity?   Has our fledgling attempt at rebuilding the faith of our ancestors been so successful that we can waste time with name calling and finger pointing?

Is the Heathen religion so perfect that we cannot look at it and see things that need improving?  Of course it’s not; we have a lot to do.

So let’s do it.  Let us spend more time creating us, and far less time trying to tear down another.  Regardless of what Stinson’s intent was?  That’s what that looked like to me, and I feel we are all poorer for it.

When the Barrel Has No Bottom…

I was broken today.  Not badly, and I’ll certainly be quite a bit better after I have the time to hide in my room, burn some sage, and calm down a bit.

Human compassion, I find, is a strange thing.  Over the course of the last few weeks, I’ve have a position that offered me a unique perspective.  I’ve seen a person I know defend his own actions without consideration for the consequences of them, due to his lack of confidence in being offered compassion.  I’ve seen someone else treat someone with cruelty, over the belief that it was the lesser of two evils.  I’ve seen my own compassion sputter, shine like the sun, and crack under strain.  It’s been a weird couple of weeks.

Actually weird is becoming my normal.   Not sure what I think of that.

In either case, the thing that finally did me in was watching my sworn-sister drive off this morning, knowing she’d have to check herself in to a mental hospital instead of driving home.  I can’t say I feel that I failed her, though the utter frustration at being able to do nothing else sort of gnaws at me.  So, for the second time in my life, I got to a point where I was so absolutely raw that I ended up having a hard time looking people in the face.  I didn’t want to be unable to help someone else, and the stress of that anxiety neatly broke me in two.   Well, not quite in two; I will say it was rather gratifying to see how well I did with the situation, all things considered.

In either case, what I found curious was what I did on the way home.

I had seen on Facebook this morning that the father of my one friend was probably not going to live out the week.  His name is Ronald, and he was like a second father to my ex.  Now,  I have nothing but wishes of luck and success for my ex….just so long as her luck and success keeps her at arm’s length or further from me.  She’s a good person, but even the sight of her brings up things that I’m not happy about and then I will never get a true apology for, and we had all the compatibility of oil and water in either case.

I called her up, and asked her if she was okay.

So here I was, broken, and I was offering a hand out to the person I wanted to see the least at that moment.  At first, it wasn’t out of compassion; I wanted to prove to myself that even while I was at my lowest I could do better then I thought.  I wanted to challenge myself…push at my weakest spot.

The funny thing was that after I pushed…I truly did care.  Oh, I still wanted her at arm’s length and everything; I just could feel sympathy and empathy for her….even through the bitterness and the hurt.

Sometimes, I get asked by close friends why I put myself out there in the way that I do for the people I do.  I find it somewhat amusing that this is never asked by friends who actually need me in such a way at that moment, but I do see there point.  Today showed me why.  Hate in easy.  Apathy is easy.

Compassion is fucking hard…and it’s the reason that I become stronger every day.

 

Directions in the Mind

One of the most frustrating things of having any sort of mental infirmity is trying to describe what it’s like to someone who doesn’t have a similarly wrong thing inside their own head.  It’s this sort of vexing problem that usually leaves me frustrated for days, which is annoying when you consider that one of my more irritating problems is an attention disorder….you’d think I’d be able to forget about it easier. :-/

I’m not angry with or at the person I’m trying to describe it to, typically speaking.  I am well aware how hard it is to describe the situation to someone else.  More then anything, I’m completely frustrated with the ability to properly convey the concept.

If you’re missing an arm, that’s a problem people can understand and grasp easily enough (no pun intended there, honestly).  They have the capacity to see the lack of an arm, and that is that.  Even if it’s just a problem with the arm, such as pain or muscle weakness, it’s still easier to understand.  Even though they can’t see your arm pain, they’ve felt pain or weakness before, and the concept translates easily.

Mental problems don’t translate as well.  Not only is there rarely any physical sign of it, but the problem is quite often just an aggravated form of something a more balanced person can feel every day.  So it becomes easier to dismiss the existence of anything….because, hey!  I have that same issue and it doesn’t effect me like that.  So you get a situation where people don’t believe in chronic depression or panic attacks…because they’ve been sad or scared before and they didn’t have the same problems.

I really don’t blame anyone for this, and I try not to get upset about it either.  Really, human empathy just has a hard time relating to something it can’t see or touch.  I mean, I can relate to attention span disorders because I have one.  Writing this entry has been torturous.  Trying to form sentences has been mind-numbingly difficult for no real reason.  Spelling errors (which I make almost constantly) almost confuse me as I have to try and concentrate on the intended context of the word, the entire content of the sentence, and how to put that together properly at the same time….and it feels like if I loose track of one of them for a second, I’ll loose the entire thought.

The only reason I know what that feels like is because I’ve felt it myself, and without that experience?  My empathy would be all the poorer for it.  Without knowing the feeling myself, I’d probably be of the same opinion about that and every other problem I’ve never felt.

Sometimes, it can be agonizing.  You end up feeling completely mentally handicapped right around the forth time you’ve tried to read one paragraph and failed.  However, you keep going.  You keep working at it, trying to recognize that you have a problem while not using the problem as a crutch or as an identity.  It’s a tricky, slippery slope to walk that thin line between knowing you have a problem and using the problem.  You keep going.

So, all is well I guess.  I just hate trying to have to describe what it’s like.  I’ve been trying to explain it to my mother for about 6 years now…and I still get this attitude of barely with-held skepticism.

Some days, I feel like I’m trying to describe a color to a person born without eyes.  It’s not something that keeps me up at night…though it does drive me bonkers from time to time.