atolnon


A Window, A Light...

...an autumn breeze, and a melancholic humor.


(no subject)
atolnon
My car got rear-ended after someone hydroplaned into the back of it at a low speed and, as a result, Kay and I are being forced to deal with people, which is something I'm never especially excited about. I was thinking about writing, but both of us ended up having to deal with this, and it's forced me to kind of have to be present all day on someone else's mystery schedule.

I have an older car and, if it were any older, I'd switch it to ethanol for it's 21st. It's got over 130,000 miles on it and it's not actually worth any money - which is really weird to me because market value doesn't really seem to have anything to do with how well it drives. It's got some hail damage, but it's a metal body and the damage is easy to repair. It's entirely cosmetic. Other than that, the engine and belts are in great shape. I replaced the tubes a few years ago for a hefty sum. New tires, new brake pads, everything's good. That will not stop them from totaling the machine out, though, because of the damage from a low-speed rear-end collision.

Body damage, according to the adjuster, probably won't render it undriveable, but the damage to the exhaust needs to be repaired first. Total damage bill is estimated at twice the value to the car, so the insurance company just washed their hands of it and said they'd send the check, the miserable bastards. I need the car and I really like it - plus, there's no way we can invest in trying to get two cars yet. We're already trying to replace Kay's. If it'll really be driveable and there's little visible damage, we'll see.

Repetition re: repetition: Second Segment and Two Games
atolnon
Today's been going fast. The weather has jumped from cold/cool right up to the mid-70's and, like, I enjoy it a lot but it's also got me spacing out pretty badly. Nothing weird - just spring fever. My gut reaction says this is it for winter, and I'm going to get the front yard flower bed for the bees ready now. That is enough for me to be excited about.

I've been trying to get a handle on pacing and writing one game, which I haven't done super well with. Kay genuinely has had no time even to do marginal work on a character either, and I know there's at least one other prospective online player who's too busy to manage. Another is about to go on vacation abroad again (I'm envious, since I can't even take a road trip right now), so it's like, yes, I'll be giving the southeast game a lot of focus, but it's hard to justify trying to squeeze in more planning yet. The northeast game looks like it might be 3/4's, with me skipping an occasional week, but the games are bound to be short since the window of time I can play is really very narrow. Right now the only day that works is Wednesdays, and the only time is between 7 and 9:30 at the latest. 10 PM is not late for most people, but that is right at when I'm crawling into bed. I'm usually dead on my feet by 9:30.

Since the extensive Exalted wiki we were using had to be taken down because the cost got out of hand, I've been using Obsidian Portal, but I've been too lazy (or tired, if you're nice about it) to get the game synopsis up. I like editing wikis and I've done okay on the WoD WIP, so I know I can do this, but it's not especially exciting to re-write old sessions. Considering that I take extensive notes, though, I might as well preserve them because otherwise I totally fuckin' forget what's happened. I see people run this shit on the fly, I don't know how they do that. That looks like magic to me, for real. My WoD game was 9 full games and there's over 50 typed pages. There's no good reason for that, except that I remembered that I didn't do that with my Mage or Changeling games and I can't remember what happened anymore - so that might be reason enough.

I think after the next session this Wednesday, I'll be able to plan more fully for the SE game and the NE game will be more or less moving smoothly. After a while, the players do a lot to take over the direction.

Repetition in Subject Matter, Too
atolnon
The rhythm I've gotten into is close enough to good that I can work with it. I've done a lot to hit what I consider a productive groove - I go to sleep early, make healthy food, cut seriously back on hard drinking, and so on - but I'm still almost always tired. If the cause is really the weather and the amount of light, then I'm in good shape, because it's hitting mid-March and I expect that after this late chill is over, winter will truly give over to spring.

My replacement for feeling good or being able to instinctively be able to do the things that I want/need to do is just practice and repetition. Despite being home all day, my actual productive window feels pretty narrow, and I do my best to set whatever goals I can and try to hit a small number of tangible goals daily. Journalling - here and elsewhere - is part of that. Building and maintaining a minimum exercise regime is another, but one I've been frozen on for no good reason at all. So, I'll probably just set a really small minimum set of basic stuff (stretching, pushups, situps, curls, etc.) just so that I'm doing anything at all.

My phone and social media are blowing up strangely which is absolutely cutting into my ability to focus, so I'm cutting this short, today.

You Never Go Full Trump
atolnon
It seems like I only have time, these days, to meet with friends for a few hours at a time when I see them. But, I have to be honest, I'm glad I'm able to see them at all. I had thought that I'd have more time after my thesis was complete, but my domestic workload's pretty steep and my ability to drive anywhere is curtailed. I've seen some friends and family for the first time since October or even earlier, and those meetings have been kind of the equivalent of poking my head in for a moment to say, Hello, yes, I'm still alive and I haven't forgotten you, but I don't think my schedule will ever stop being incredibly messy. I hope you're doing well!

I'm trying to run an Exalted game, which has been much more difficult than I anticipated. Wednesday is the only available day, and I had been making those sessions weekly for playing, but I'd always come back incredibly tired. Drinking at all is a problem during those sessions, since they're usually very short, and I easily risk getting drunk if I don't keep a close eye on my consumption. The exhaustion's a worse danger, usually. Kay usually can't sleep while I'm out, so Wednesday ends up being a super late night for both of us, and we both get up at 5, so I have to confess a need to limit weeknight sessions to a much earlier hour until my schedule changes in any meaningful way.

Kay's working a lot of overtime in conjunction with finishing an Associate's degree. None of this creates an especially optimal climate for normal hangout times. Everyone's a night owl and I usually go to bed at 9:30 or 10:00 these days.

I'm trying to reach out in other ways. I keep trying to write letters, which I do with only modest success, but still. I owe another set of letters out, but sometimes it's just easier to call. I think my grandparents are in that set - so I called them up, which I do every other month or so. I think I last spoke to them in early January. I talked to my grandfather, who I don't usually actually speak with, and he's doing this anniversary thing in upstate New York which, frankly, is tough. Kay's not really going to have time off, yet, because there's still a new hire time-off freeze. It'd cost a lot of money we really need for debts and repairs. But... they've given us a lot of money over the years, so the dollar bill concerns really feel flat. Anyhow, I missed my grandmother the first time so she had to call me back.

So, I mean, you read the title. I feel like you see how this is probably going to go.

Back in January, we didn't talk politics at all. This is a policy I tend to have with anyone Boomer or older unless I know better. Like, two aging farm-owners in upstate New York are unlikely to have really similar values. My grandmother, I know, is one of those ol' white people racists who once, when I was a young child, evinced an opinion against mixed race marriages on account of white people and black people being different biological races. Not, she said, that she's racist! Black people are equal, she said, just that we should get intermarried.

So, you know, there's background to this. And I don't see them very often, and for my birthday and Christmas they send me hundreds of dollars - and I'm in my 30's, so there's really zero obligation for this. If it wasn't for this, we'd have gone hungry and the phones would get shut off and... I don't honestly want to think about it. But my grandmother's called me up, and she's gone Full Trump. Like, the whole nine. And that's disconcerting, because back in November, she liked Carson to win and doesn't trust Sanders (because Socialism - not realizing that I, a Communist, live amongst you), and didn't like Trump's rhetoric.

And now, like, it's Build The Wall, and It's Not OUR America Anymore, (as if it were ever My America, as if I want it to myself), These Are Murderers and Rapists, Have You Even Seen Dearborn?! It Doesn't Look Like America!, Thank God We're Getting Rid of ObamaCare!, and so on.
I'm on the phone having a low-key panic attack that would follow me around for the rest of the evening. I tried to explain - we have the most Syrian and Bosnian immigrants in America where I live, and they've been nothing but a great addition to our city, I tried to explain. The ACA let Kay get a biopsy we'd never be able to afford, it helped me see a doctor which I hadn't done in over 12 years previously! The wall wouldn't even help! Trump is a complete crook and rapist! Brushed off or decried as Fake News. Like, the propaganda machine has done its work but good, I can tell you that it works quick.

What's most chilling is how willfully apocalyptic the stories are. We're Not Sure If We're Going to Make it Before They Rise Up, she told me. We May Not Survive The Coming Years. They'll Come For Us, First. She said.

I sighed heavily. I have to go, I said. I have to make dinner before Kay gets home. She really doesn't know, and it makes me sad in some ways, and relieved in others - the things people tell you when they don't realize that you're not Us. You're Them. Not because you want to be, but because your own family won't listen and couldn't possibly believe you - they refuse to believe in peace because they are legitimately deafened by their own call to war.

It's March.
atolnon
So, it's March.

Our life is pretty feast or famine in general, but especially so since our finances have been directly tied to the starting and conclusions of college semesters. I thought about outlining exactly how it works here, wrote some stuff out, but it's boring and unnecessary so we'll skip it. The long and short of my situation is that December is a drought for our household (which sadly prevents much holiday spirit) and January and February are very lean, too, since they're almost always recuperative months. Tack on the Winter depression ("SAD!" An appropriate term.) and switching to a 5 AM wakeup time, and I just kind of temporarily vanish - very little writing, not much intense reading, no sophisticated plans. I get by on reserve power. The minimum gets done. I'm waiting for warmer months.

March works for that. It's unseasonably warm - but it might become seasonable, won't it, if things go on like they are? You can't directly do anything about that and neither can I, so try not to worry. Anyhow, if it's unseasonably warm, than I perk up unusually early. I do feel better. Kay's hard work is literally paying off. I've got the house in good shape.

Spring is traditionally a season of hope. Despite the political situation, we have some reasons to think that things will go okay. Not great - those plans were shot down some time ago - but moving into an acceptible place where we're getting by pretty well.

It's strange to think just how much influence the weather and ambient daylight have not just on my mood but my overall energy level. I'm incredibly listless and it starts to feel like it's gonna be like that FOREVER, but a few days of 50-60 degree weather are enough to make me feel sharp and on top of things. I can't help but wonder if people are inclined - if not to hibernation, in particular but - some kind of general lethargy in the winter. Other people seem to love the season, so maybe not! Maybe if we had more money and woke up at reasonable hours, it wouldn't be so bad? It's too difficult to determine.

So, like, I haven't actually done any of the things I said I'd do in the new year yet (except bake one sad cake), but a huge part of that is the lack of ability for me to get around and a lack of money for frivolous expenses. I'm genuinely hoping for this whole situation to flip. Maybe I'll even write here more.

Logjam. Kafka.
atolnon
There's a lot of stuff that I'm still slogging through that I had kind of hoped to have wrapped up by now. Anxiety has made is difficult to focus on any one thing for months, maybe even for the past few years. I have to think back on the kind of pace I've tended to set for myself, where a professor would assign a hundred pages of reading for a week - which my brain doesn't, at this point, parse as any kind of overabundance of reading, but it adds up.
There has always been an overabundance of shit to tackle.
So, when mid-January hit (making this almost a month since I finally submitted my thesis), I figured there'd be nothing on the other side of that and I'd rapidly pick up a similar pace with personal reading and projects. The real situation's more complicated - it's been "the thing" I've been writing about here this whole time - that there's simultaneously no real pressure imposed by deadlines or institutions and a huge backlog of stuff I want to do that's been left totally untouched for two years that I want to tackle all of, right away.
The result's a mental log-jam. No pressure from the river, too many things trying to be processed at once. A game to play. A book to read. An essay to check. A game to write. If you try to do it all at once, a little gets done, day by day, but not a lot on any one given thing and it feels like I'm spinning my wheels. But I'm not entirely unproductive. All at once, a lot will get done, and then I'll be taking on each project one at a time. Already I'm better at focusing. It's honestly weird to look at grad school, where I felt very focused, and still see all the ways that I was wrenched back and forth from one project to the next. Professionally, that might still be as good as it gets, frankly. In terms of personal life, though, you know, I just try to cultivate patience from one moment to the next and do only one thing at a time.
I believe that people can multitask effectively, but studies have shown that it still results in decreased productivity. For me, it makes me a nervous wreck.
I'm coming to the end of the Kafka. I don't wonder if he didn't suffer similarly. His works have a dreamlike quality that, to the degree that I've read them, I feel like their unfinished nature results in an inherently non platonic nature that possess a kind of internal, symbolic logic that doesn't translate with much fidelity to a waking experience. In the post-script, the book mentions Camus's statement that "the whole of Kafka's art consists in compelling the reader to re-read him." Much like trying to remember a dream and interpret it on waking, the thing itself might be nonsense (or there might be a sense to it but) the compulsion is almost a kind of free-association. The lack of an ending is a boon for most of these works; you cannot conclude them effectively, because we hope that a conclusion ties things together. Even works like "The Judgement," seem to dissolve into the air or else float down the stream to a place we cannot see from where we stand on the bridge.

Epilogue
atolnon
Things have been weirdly hectic over here, but for reasons that become understandable once you've got a good idea of what drives our daily life and what tends to influence our schedules. Not bad - just busy. Not as productive as I'd like, but still going pretty well.

Finally wrote the Epilogue session for WoD. We've played the last boss game, and closed that out, but the epilogue is really where all the satisfying conclusions come into play.

I think I made a big mistake in trying to run the conclusion game during my last sprint to finish my thesis. But the thesis went well and Kay liked the game, so it was still a success! I feel very good about this epilogue session then. 

A Lot of Catching Up to Do
atolnon
I  haven't been too keen on working in January - words wouldn't come, and I wanted to watch movies or read instead, so that's generally just what I've been doing. The Peripheral was pretty good. I think that Cory Doctorow really liked it, and I thought it was okay, but Gibson's work doesn't usually tend to broadcast directly into my brainstem as much as I read it, unpack it, and reread it - the reread is always better. So maybe the jury's out. You might suppose that I'd be eager to write on it but, frankly, my first takes on things are always bad. Honestly they are. I tried with Hyper Light Drifter, and it was abysmal.

I'm always kind of glad when I write something that I think is bad. Just, like, objectively poor. I can be like, "Oh, okay, see? That's what bad looks like. Maybe this other thing you think is okay is pretty good. It's much better than this bad thing you did, at least." Produce something that's clearly shit, you know, and you've just managed to produce some perspective, is all. So you'll see me do that here, but probably not anywhere else. I'm typically averse to that, but if you're creeping here, than you already know - this is where all of my very worst writing ends up, outside of my paper journals which, I assure you, are some of the most incredibly boring documents you could imagine someone painstakingly writing in pen. (Those things exist largely as a means of self-flagellation - a kind of ritual cleansing - where things like my need to go grocery shopping are listed in minute detail in expensive pen.)

We watched Stand Along Complex this month, we're starting on 2nd Gig. I'm reading through a volume of Kafka's complete works that I'd been meaning to get to. This weekend was strangely packed. I know that Trump shenanigans are taking up a lot of processing power for me, eating up a lot of time, and I'm trying to strike a balance between keeping informed and actually living my regular life where things need to get done. I would say, "being more informed, past a certain point, isn't particularly helpful," since after a while, you know that the verdict is "Bad." But, on the other hand (and it is a heavy hand) I might point out to myself that the new developments have a fairly dramatic daily impact on many, many people around me. And things are coming very quickly and getting very bad. So, yes, it makes sense to stay informed. And prepare. Will the yelling and gunshots get closer, or recede? We have blocked the windows, and this does not seem excessive.

Strange days.

Weird, weird, weird stuff to write about catching up on media and writing that I've wanted to do over the course of a few years while I was neck-deep in coursework and grading while, simultaniously, I write on fascism taking hold. But where is cyberpunk more applicable, I ask you, than in the heart of a new flavor of dystopia?

(no subject)
atolnon

I left a job unloading furniture off trucks and loading it into buyer’s cars to go back to grad school a few years ago. I can’t go back, because that same job doesn’t exist the way it used to just two years ago.

That’s the new job market. Turnover can be lightning fast when there’s a suspicion that the workforce isn’t compliant. We started asking questions about pay scale, about how they were paying the black lesbian on the dock the least of any of us while hiring white men at a higher rate than the veteran team member who was a woman (for example), about how they were out of compliance with health, safety, and labor laws, et cetera… suddenly everyone was out. Managers who supported the team were moved, supervisors were canned, the entire team was either moved to other stores, fired for blatantly false accusations from anonymous sources or trumped up reasons, or incentivised to leave. All in one year. 

There are very little protections for workers. I wasn’t fired - I left. But the manager and supervisor who stood up for the team aren’t there, replaced by someone I butted heads with - there’s no reason to go back there for the $10 an hour wage I was making.

I spent some time as a TA, which I hated. The teaching was great, but balancing my coursework and teaching was awful. I was told that I had to prioritize myself over my students, but these were just first years. They were all afflicted with terrible anxiety. They expected me to abandon them to their course load, which I refused to do. I worked around the clock to give each assignment my personal, undivided attention. I can say I wanted to die, honestly. I was in a state of absolute despair. Teaching set my thesis writing back by the year I engaged in it, and I only taught a max of two classes, but I feel like it was worthwhile.

Our household starved in both the summer and the winter. My TA colleagues often had another job - or more than one - in addition to their studies and their classes. The adjuncts make an average of $12 an hour if they only work for 20 hours per class. The math gets significantly stranger and less appealing the more work they take on. I’ve heard that even TAs and adjuncts are “bourgeois.” I’m not sure that bourgeois and proletariat are useful terms for how we operate in this moment. They’re historically useful. We can use them that way. But attempting to draw 1:1 comparisons from Western industrial and capital structures when they were coined and initially implemented, and trying to apply them directly to our current situation I think obscures the structure we live in now by trying to map the structures of past theories over it.

I’m just thinking in text. I’m always tired, I’m always hungry, and I’m always poor, and it always sucks.


(no subject)
atolnon
That shit on the 12th was a cut-and-paste job, and I probably won't be doing that again. The formatting's a mess.

?

Log in