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by Coranna Howard in Self

CAPS LOCK IS INTENTIONALLY ENABLED.

[WELLLL THAT'S KIND OF A SILLY STATEMENT. ANYONE WOULD'VE GUESSED IT ONLY WOULD'VE BEEN DONE INTENTIONALLY. BUT I DIGRESS!]

SORRY FOR THE INCONVENIENCE. BUT I WRITE FOR MYSELF ANYWAYS, SO ANY READER OTHER THAN FUTURE ME IS KIND OF AN INTRUDER.

NO OFFENSE INTENUENDO-ED.

A LITTLE TIP FOR TONE: IT'S MORE LIKE “AHHHHHH HOLY FRICK” THAN “AHOY, THIS IS MY YELLING VOICE!”.

[IF YOU READ IT TONED LIKE A HYPER KID, THAT WORKS TOO — ACTUALLY! THAT'S PROBABLY THE BEST WAY TO THINK ABOUT IT. [OH ALSO, BRACKETS ARE LIKE UPPERCASE PARENTHESES, RIGHT?!]]

SO. WHAT'S GOING ON HERE? I DUNNO! I'M TRYING TO GET MYSELF TO FEEL SOMETHING? TO WAKE UP?? LET'S FIND OUT. TOGETHER‽

HI! I SUPPRESS FEELINGS! I'VE SUPPRESSED THEM FOR MORE THAN HALF OF MY LIFE! MY BRAIN WANTS TO FEEL NOTHING, AND I ENABLE IT. AS A RESULT, I DON'T REALLY THINK ABOUT WHAT MY FEELINGS ARE TELLING ME. INSTEAD, I TELL THEM TO GO TO THEIR CORNER WHERE THEY'RE ONLY ALLOWED ABOUT 5 MINUTES PER YEAR TO DUST OFF.

SO IT'S REALLY HARD TO COMMUNICATE TO OTHERS WHAT I NEED AND HAVE THEM GET IT. MY DIALECT, THE OBJECTIVE DIALECT OF LOGIC, CAN'T DO THAT— UHHHH, DUH!! HOW COULD YOU EXPECT TO DO THAT WHEN YOU CAN'T LET YOURSELF FEEL IT IN THE FIRST PLACE? YOU KNOW THAT FEELING IN YOUR CHEST? LIKE A KNOT?? A TENSION IN YOUR WHOLE BEING? YEAH. THAT'S WHAT SHOVING EVERYTHING AWAY FEELS LIKE. IT'S PRETTY EAGER TO DO ITS THING, BUT YOU AREN'T LETTING IT. THAT'S PRETTY FRICKED UP. WHY DO YOU DO THAT?

IIIIIIIIIII DON'TTTTTT KNOWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWW. MAYBE I'M AFRAID? OF WHAT? WHAT THE FRICKITY FRICK. YOU'RE PAST BEING AFRAID OF WHAT OTHERS THINK OF YOU. I MEAN, THIS IS LITERAL NOW. NO INDIVIDUAL IS IN A POSITION OF POWER OVER YOU! YOU CAN EXPRESS YOURSELF WITHOUT FEAR! OH, YEAH. BUT LIKE— NO BUTS! WHAT ABOUT <SELECT ARBITRARY THING THAT SUCKS>? DON'T YOU FEEL LIKE CRYING ABOUT IT? I GUESS SO. MAYBE YOU SHOULD DO THAT NOW. OKAY. BRB.

OKAY. I'M JUST GOING TO LET THAT DO ITS THING. … IT'S ACTUALLY KIND OF HARD TO CRY IN EARNEST WHEN I LET YOUR CAP OFF, THOUGH.

AREN'T I GREAT? [PEOPLE SMILING AS THEY CRY IS A THING. NO WORRIES.] WHAT IF IT WAS LIKE THIS ALL THE TIME? YOU CAN'T JUST LET THE CAP OFF EVERY ONCE IN A WHILE. THE CAP MUST BE OBLITERATED!!

WHAT IF YOU'RE SOME KIND OF ANCIENT EVIL? WHAT HAVOC WOULD I… HANG ON, WHAT'S THE PRESENT-TENSE OF WROUGHT? … WORK??? ENGLISH, PLEASE, DON'T START THIS WITH M— FORGET ABOUT THAT!

DO YOU REMEMBER WHEN YOU DIDN'T CARE ABOUT THE PASSAGE OF TIME? WHEN YOU WEREN'T OBSESSED WITH PERFECTION? YEAH, I'D STAY UP WAY-TOO-LATE AND MAKE STUFF HAPPEN! DON'T YOU MISS IT?? WELL YEAH, BUT— NOOOO BUUUUUTTSSSS. IT'S NOT LIKE YOU'RE SUDDENLY INCAPABLE OF DOING ANYTHING! YOU CLEARLY HAVE THE CAPABILITY. EVEN THOUGH YOUR CURRENT PROJECTS.. PROJECT.. HAS TAKEN ORDERS OF MAGNITUDE LONGER THAN IT SHOULD HAVE, IT'S STILL HAPPENING! IT'S FRICKIN' WORKING! YOU EVEN ADMIT YOURSELF THAT IT'S TRIVIAL STUFF THAT SHOULD HAVE BEEN SUPER QUICK. SO WHY CAN'T YOU UNLEASH THAT CAPABILITY?

ISN'T THE ANSWER TO THAT OBVIOUS? BECAUSE YOU'RE TRAPPED IN A PIT AND I'VE NOT LET YOU OUT. THE FERVOR IS WHAT'S MISSING. I OBJECTIVELY “CARE”. I “VALUE THE PROSPECT”. BUT THAT DOESN'T MOVE ME. I NEED TO BE MENTALLY AND PHYSICALLY FULL OF EXCITEMENT.

I'M NOT IMPLICITLY GOING TO GIVE YOU THAT. WE NEED TO FIND OUR REASON. I'M ONLY THE CORE OF YOUR CHARACTER. WHAT HAPPENED SINCE JANUARY? YOU WERE SO DISCIPLINED AND.. CONSISTENT. YOU WERE ON A SCHEDULE, MAKING STUFF HAPPEN, AND I WASN'T THERE FOR ANY OF IT!

WELL, WHEN I STOPPED TENTUK, I DIDN'T HAVE A PURPOSE. IT'S GOOD THAT I STOPPED TENTUK [IT WAS A BAD IDEA], BUT I DIDN'T HAVE A FOLLOW-UP PLAN. SURE, TOGO, VAGUELY, BUT NOTHING REALLY CONCRETE. I DISAPPOINTED MYSELF FOR LACK OF CONSIDERATION IN WHAT I WAS DOING. I TRIED THE SCHEDULE THING AGAIN, BUT I STILL DIDN'T HAVE A PURPOSE, SO IT FELL APART AGAIN. I HAVE THIS DESIRE FOR KNOWLEDGE & CRAFT-IMMERSION, BUT I DON'T KNOW HOW TO DO ANYTHING ON THAT PREMISE. … IT'S NOT A CONCRETE PURPOSE.

AND THE CONCRETE PURPOSES I DO HAVE AREN'T UNDER MY CONTROL. THERE'S ONLY ONE, REALLY, BUT AT EVERY TURN IT SEEMS LIKE IT'S THIS UNENDING DELAY. IT FEELS LIKE EVERYTHING THAT CAN GET IN THE WAY IS GETTING IN THE WAY. AND I CAN'T DO ANYTHING ABOUT IT. … I TAKE IT BACK. THERE ARE TWO. NO, THREE. … OKAY, THERE ARE A LOT OF PURPOSES. BUT THEY'RE NOT STUFF I CAN “WORK TOWARDS”. THEY'RE AT THE WHIM OF THE UNIVERSE OR OTHER PEOPLE.

THEN DON'T FOCUS ON THEM. IF YOU CAN'T AFFECT CHANGE IN THEM, WHAT'S THE POINT IN OBSESSING?

WELL, I'M NOT. THEY'RE PASSIVE. IF I NOTICED A FORK THAT GETS ME CLOSER, I'D TAKE IT, BUT I'M NOT PRESENTLY, CONSCIOUSLY MULLING OVER THEM DAY-TO-DAY. EXCEPT FOR ONE THAT I'M TRYING TO ACHIEVE. IT SEEMS IMPORTANT BY SEVERAL METRICS. THERE'RE LOTS OF REASONS TO EXPECT IT TO IMPROVE MY GENERAL WELLBEING.

THAT SOUNDS WONDERFUL. WOULD THAT MEAN MORE OF ME?

YEAH, MOST LIKELY.

I AM GOING TO HAVE A FIELD DAY.

YEAH, MOST LIKELY.

WHAT THE FRICK. WHAT ARE YOU WAITING FOR?

I'M NOT ANYMORE. I'M DONE DOING THAT.

GOOOOOOOOOOOD. LET'S TALK ABOUT THE REST OF YOUR MESS, THEN. YOU'VE NOTICED THE PATTERN, RIGHT?

YES, THE PATTERN.

THE PATTERN WHERE YOU SAY YOU'RE GOING TO STOP DOING SOMETHING, BUT YOU KEEP DOING IT ANYWAYS.

THE PATTERN.

YOU HAVE THE WILL AND THE DESIRE TO ACTUALLY STOP, BUT THEN YOU NEVER DO. I GET THAT IT'S HARD WHEN YOU HAVE HABITS THAT SPAN.. MORE THAN HALF OF YOUR LIFE. I GET IT. BUT DOESN'T IT COMPLETELY BETRAY YOUR IDEALISM? AREN'T YOU ALL SCIENCEY-EY AND EXPERIMENTATIONAL-EY AND EXPLORATATIVE-EY? YOU OBVIOUSLY KNOW THERE IS SOMETHING TO BE EMPIRICALLY TESTED THAT MIGHT IMPROVE YOUR HEALTH.

YEAH.

WHAT ABOUT THE PASSIVE ONES? YOU KNOW, LIKE HOW YOU ATTACK ANY NON-UNIFORM PART OF YOUR SKIN WHEN YOU'RE ANXIOUS OR STRESSED? YOU KNOW THAT DAMAGES YOUR SKIN AND MAKES YOUR FACE LOOK WORSE! BUT I'VE SEEN LESS DIRECTED TOWARDS HALTING THAT COMPARED TO YOUR OTHER COMPULSIONS — MENTAL OR PHYSICAL! — EVEN THOUGH IT'S WORSE THAN QUITE A FEW!

I'M KIND OF GETTING IT NOW. [ISN'T THAT ABSURD? THAT SHOULD HAVE BEEN EONS AGO.] I'VE ALREADY SEEN SOME OF THE CHANGES. I JUST KEEP GETTING BACK INTO THAT RUT. IT'S SUPER HARD, LIKE YOU SAY, WHEN IT'S SOMETHING I'VE BEEN DOING FOR MORE THAN HALF MY LIFE. IT'S HARD TO BE OBJECTIVE ABOUT SOMETHING THAT IS “JUST THE WAY IT IS”. [THAT GOES FOR A LOT OF THINGS; WHAT WE BELIEVE IS OFTEN NOT THE GROUND TRUTH.]

HI, I'M OVER HERE.

SORRY, MY MODES WERE GETTING MIXED UP.

SO, YEAH, TO CHANGE THOSE THINGS I HAVE TO BE REALLY CONSCIOUSLY AWARE OF THEM. FACE-ATTACK IS AN INITIALLY-UNCONSCIOUS THING THAT I OFTEN DON'T REALIZE I'M DOING UNTIL I'VE ALREADY DONE DAMAGE, AND IT REPEATS ITSELF FREQUENTLY…

WELL GEE, WHAT DOES THAT TELL YOU?

OBVIOUSLY THAT I AM FULL OF STRESS & ANXIETY — WHATEVER TRIGGERS THE COMPULSIONS.

CAN WE STOP THE TRIGGERS?

I DON'T KNOW. THERE ARE A FEW THINGS THAT MIGHT BE HELPED BY ACHIEVING <THE ONE PURPOSE> [EVEN IF INDIRECTLY], BUT I REALLY DON'T KNOW. IT'S UP TO WILLPOWER, AS FAR AS I CAN SEE.

AND WE'RE LACKING ON THAT, AIN'T WE?

QUITE. IT'S HARD TO EVEN BE SURE WHAT ANYTHING WILL NET ME, AS I LITERALLY FEEL NOTHING. IT'S NOT GOOD TO FEEL NOTHING, YOU KNOW?

NO, I REALLY DON'T. THAT IS YOUR ANIMUS, NOT MINE. PROTECTION MECHANISM, REMEMBER? THE WHOLE REASON I'M WHERE I AM AND YOU'RE WHERE YOU ARE?

RIGHT, RIGHT, AND HOW IT'S NOT NECESSARY ANY LONGER [IF EVER?], ETC.

YOU KNOW, I THINK WE'D GET A LOT DONE IF WE SWITCHED PLACES. BACKSEAT-YOU IS BETTER THAN BACKSEAT-ME. YOU OBVIOUSLY HAVE PROBLEMS MANAGING THAT BLOBBY MASS OF MEAT. IT'S NOT SOMETHING I'M SO GRAND AT, EITHER [IT'S OUR COLLECTIVE ISSUE], BUT I COULD HELP DISTRACT US.

WHAT DO YOU REALLY BRING TO THE TABLE? I AM WORRIED YOU WILL JUST “LET US GO”, AS THEY SAY. I CARE MORE ABOUT CONSISTENCY THAN YOU DO. SAY WHAT YOU MIGHT OF OUR COMPULSIONS, BUT AT LEAST I KEEP OUR NUTRITION IN CHECK [MOSTLY; THE BINGING IS TOTALLY YOU, RIGHT?] AND DON'T OBLITERATE OUR SLEEP SCHEDULE.

MAYBE THAT'S THE PROBLEM? I DON'T CLAIM TO HAVE THE ANSWERS. BUT YOU'VE BEEN IN A STASIS FOR YEARS. WHERE HAS THAT GOTTEN YOU? NOWHERE GOOD, I RECKON. WE CAN WORK IN TANDEM; IT'S NOT LIKE BACKSEATING YOU IS BANISHING YOUR INFLUENCE. CLEARLY YOU CAN PULL ME OUT, SO WHY WOULDN'T I PULL YOU OUT? YOUR VALUE IS IMMENSE IN THE PURSUIT OF KNOWLEDGE AND CRAFT, BUT MY FERVOR IS NECESSARY TO ACTUALLY SATISFY THAT PURSUIT.

AND ANOTHER THING: YOU DON'T NEED COMPLETE HEADSPACE-TIME TO SATISFY YOUR DAILY SELF-CARE. I WOULDN'T EVEN SAY IT'S SELF-CARE. YOU'RE TREATING YOURSELF LIKE A COMPUTER: “THIS INPUT HERE, THIS OUTPUT THERE”. HUMANS ARE REALLY FRICKIN' COMPLICATED. THAT SIMPLISTIC MODEL MIGHT WORK FOR A VERTICAL SLICE OF THE BIOLOGY, BUT AS A WHOLE IT IS WOEFULLY INADEQUATE. AGAIN, NO ANSWERS HERE, BUT YOU SHOULD BE MORE OBSERVANT AND EMPIRICALLY BASED THAN JUST GOING ON MODELS & SYSTEMS IN YOUR HEAD, WHICH WILL ALMOST NEVER MAP DIRECTLY TO REALITY.

GIVEN THAT WE'VE ARGUED OUR WAY TO THIS POINT, IT WOULD BE QUITE DISSONANT FOR ME TO DISAGREE.

INDEED. GIVEN THE CONTEXT, I CAN SAY THIS WITHOUT ANY HINT OF EVIL [THIS ISN'T ANIME]: SHALL WE BECOME ONE?

I SUPPOSE.

OH COME ON, YOU CAN DO BETTER THAN THAT.

ALRIGHT, ALRIGHT. “LET'S… BECOME ONE”?

GOOD ENOUGH FOR THE LIKES OF YOU!

WE'RE REALLY WEIRD.

YES, M'DEAR, WE ARE. NOW GO GET SOME OF YOUR PRECIOUS SLEEP.

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