It’s Been Awhile

Like the title implies, it’s been a bit since my last post here. Largely that has been because I’m pretty busy reading, doing class work, writing papers for class, cooking, going to my job at the bookstore, or relaxing watching The Walking Dead or playing some kind of video game (or planning an RPG campaign, which I’m still trying to drum up support for). It’s been a pretty busy time, but despite being busy, I don’t know that there’s really been a lot to keep folks up on.

If you were among the few people who found the stuff I was cooking interesting, then you should check out the primary source of my cooking inspiration, All Day I Dream About Food. It’s got a lot of recipes, for a lot of different meals, parts of meals, snacks, or otherwise, and they’re all relatively- to very-low carb. All the recipes I have tried have been very tasty, and with the exception of the cauliflower fritters, very successful. If you are like me and addicted (well, not literally, but figuratively) to pizza, here’s a recipe I’ve had some success with: Crustless Pizza, from the website MyFridgeFood. Very tasty, just make sure that, unlike me, you grease the pan before you cook.

As for classes, they are going pretty smoothly so far. I’m enrolled in two classes at the moment – Policy & Practice in Social Work Organizations (Social Work 534), and then Human Behavior and the Social Environment (Social Work 503). The former is focused on the big-picture, large-scale issues of social work – why is it needed, what communities need it the most, what big-picture, long-term changes can or should be made to try to improve the lives of those who need it, things like that. The latter is focused on figuring out what motivates people, how to look at a person’s entire situation – not just what they tell you, but also their family, their living arrangements, their social networks, etc. – and use that entire picture to try and determine how best to help them. These are both very introductory courses, so much of what we’re doing thus far is simply figuring out the basics of theories and history, but they’re both interesting courses thus far. I’ve had one paper due – called a Community Immersion paper, where we (the students) have to go into a nearby neighborhood, talk to people, do research, find out as much as we can, and then apply one of the theories we’ve learned about so far – and I did pretty well on that, so I’m feeling pretty good on that front.

I’m waiting to grab a couple books I’m interested in – Brene Brown, a social worker here at the University of Houston, just published another book, called Rising Strong, and I’ve liked all her previous books; one of them helped lead me towards social work, so I’m eager to see how the new one is. Another, in a few weeks, is called SuperBetter, by Jane McGonigal. I’ve written about her previous book, called Reality is Broken, before, way back in 2013 on July 26. It combines feeling better with video games, so what’s not to like?

Socially, things are a little weird – neither of the groups I have gamed with in the past around here have been able to meet recently, so I am trying to cobble together a new one, possible made up of people from each of the previous two, to sate my gaming urge. We’ll see how that goes. I don’t have a ridiculous amount of time to devote to it right now anyway, since I’m pretty busy with work, school, and generally keeping myself healthy.

That’s my update for now. We’ll see if there’s more to add later, and if so, I’ll do so. If not, then I’ll catch everyone with my next update, whenever that shall be!

The Beaches, They Are Stormed

So, week 1 of my MSW program is over, and boy, are my arms tired. Wait, no, that’s a different joke.

This week has been a pretty weird one for me, because it has involved a lot of activity, often in ways that I am (if you know me) not generally interested in doing. Part of my plan for going back to school, for example, was to make sure I got regular and increasing amounts of exercise. Now, anyone who has ever been around me while doing any kind of exercise knows that, in general, I hate it. It tends to be boring, painful, and generally feels like it isn’t actually accomplishing anything. So me starting up my own little exercise program – even if it is relatively low-scale so far, with the intent to ramp it up as I go – should be enough to give you pause. Especially since a key component of this has been cardiovascular activity – as I hate treadmills, I’d prefer to just walk around, which I can do easily enough in my apartment complex; it feels more like I am actually accomplishing something, even if I am just walking around in circles. This is especially impressive (for me) when you consider that every day this week has been over 100 degrees Fahrenheit (heat index often pushing it up to 110 or higher), because walking a couple miles in that kind of heat makes you wish for death. So I figure if I can do that, I can certainly do that and more when it starts to cool down.

I’ve also started on a more rigorous diet program, which is intended to be more low-carb, high-protein. To my chagrin, I found that such a diet is not easy to accomplish with pre-made foods, because preservatives often add more carbohydrates than I want to eat. So, I’ve had to venture into the cooking arena again. While my ventures so far have met with some limited success – my fake (or crustless) quiche was quite good, my cauliflower ham and cheese fritters not so much – it helps me out in two separate areas, because I do enjoy cooking, but I often feel that I am left with too many leftovers, so haven’t done much cooking lately, and it also helps me to make sure I know exactly what is going into my food. Coming up on my cooking schedule are a bacon and Brie frittata, low carb-pizza with cauliflower crust, and possibly low-carb Andes mint fudge. I’ll try to keep that updated somewhere.

Finally, school. It was weird getting back into classes, especially since my classes are, well, online. And there were some hiccups in the technology, as well as some timing issues. But overall, it seems like a pretty easy way of doing class, though I still find myself trying to look semi-professional for my webcam (yes, mom and dad, this means I shower, shave, and wear pants and a collared shirt). While the work load was not a surprise – I’m used to doing a lot of reading for class, having gotten one Masters (and most of a PhD) in English literature – the subject matter was a shock to my system. I’ve done a lot of reading by social workers or psychologists in the last year or so, but none of it rises to the nose-bleed-inducingly dry levels for social work textbooks. That’s the part that feels overwhelming to me; all these theories, models, and practices, dozens of them, thrown at students in their first week of class, and somehow we’re supposed to learn and internalize them so that we can use them as the basis for further classes. That’s going to take some work. As well, our first major assignment involves going out into a nearby community and asking a great deal of interrogative questions to find out information about demographics, community leaders, culture clashes, levels of social, economic, and health-related inequality, and how content people are within a community, as well as several strengths and challenges each particular community faces. As an introvert, this is hard for me, too, because asking strangers these kinds of questions makes me very uncomfortable, but I’ve already gotten my work started, and just have to make sure it gets finished, collated, and written in a coherent manner by this coming Saturday.

Oddly, despite the stress all of this has caused – a new diet, new exercise program, new school, and going back to work this week – I think I’m doing pretty well, mentally speaking. I think a lot of that may be because these things are all things I am choosing to do, rather than things I feel pressured to do, which instinctively makes me push back passive-aggressively. Since I’m initiating them myself, that would be kind of weird – can you be passive-aggressive towards yourself? – so things are going pretty smoothly, all things considered.

Anyway, that’s about it for this particular entry. My stomach is unhappy with the lack of pizza or burgers in my diet, so anybody who has any good low-carb recipes, I’d love to hear (or read) them, and if you have any experience in social work, I’d love to find something that either simplifies the theories that come up in basic introductory stuff, or puts them in a manner that is more easy to digest mentally – some of these sentences and paragraphs in my textbooks, while I am certain they are very informative, feel like they are sucking the water out of my brain they are so dry. Have you ever seen a dehydrated brain? It’s not a pretty sight. So take pity on my brain, and drop me a line if you have any tips or tricks to get this stuff in my head more easily.

To Boldly Go

OK, well, maybe not boldly. I mean, with what I’m about to start, it’s really hard to do boldly.

Tomorrow, I start the USC online MSW program. I was accepted last month, and had to get up to speed pretty fast, with some speed bumps along the way. And it’s definitely been a time filled with anxiety and excitement; trying to make sure my computer was ready for online classes (which are all done live, through an integrated webcam/phone setup, so you can see and hear both the instructor and other students in real time), trying to make sure my work schedule was altered in order to be able to take my classes, and trying to arrange payment. Attending school online is a lot different than doing so in person, and so far the orientation process has given me a taste of what it will be like, but tomorrow will be the first test of how things really go.

It’s a big step for me, going from almost completing a PhD in English to joining a Masters program in an entirely different line of work. But somehow, I think it is a more fitting one for me. When I was starting out as a PhD candidate in English, my ultimate goal was to teach. I didn’t really spend a lot of time thinking about publishing papers or trying to add to the body of knowledge that already existed, and as I went through the program, I realized exactly how important to the PhD process publishing new work really is. And I found I just didn’t have anything new or revolutionary to add. I wanted to help new students learn and possibly find their own love of literature, and so I felt more and more incompatible with the program – especially when I ran into the dissertation process, and found myself coming up totally blank on topics.

With social work, I know that my goal is to become a therapist. I want to work with patients or clients one-on-one, and while I’m more than happy to keep up with advances in the field, I don’t know that I want to be the one making them – I just want to help people who come to me for help, and hopefully make them feel like they aren’t alone. I know that a crucial part of my own recovery was realizing that there were people in very similar situations, and that not only was I not alone in dealing with my mental health issues, but that I had a wealth of people who were going, or had gone, through similar problems and could, or did, come out the other side. And so I am working on this degree to help provide to others the same kind of help that I was given. And that starts, for me, tomorrow, August 3rd.

If anyone reading this has experience with social work – either in a practical or clinical manner, or just having made use of social work services, for good or ill, I’d love to hear about it.

Mental Illness Doesn’t Discriminate, but People Do

knightveritas:

I’ve had similar thoughts myself; it gets frustrating at times when people I can otherwise spends a great deal of time with come out and start talking about mental illness in a way that makes me feel like I have to hide mine.

Originally posted on livinginmultipleworlds:

I just left a group I had recently joined, under the impression that people who were intent on erasing the stigma of mental illness would be, well, more open-minded. I am a somewhat naive person in some respects; I will admit that. Possibly because I’m hopeful. Possibly because I’m gullible, to an extent, and I want to believe the best of people. Especially ones trying to erase the shame associated with mental illness because, after all, it’s not something a person can help.

I was surprised, then, to find a posting after the shooting at the recruitment centers, describing the shooter as having an “extremist personality” and one of the women who’s daughter had bi-polar saying, “her daughter didn’t act that way.” I was furious. And very disappointed.

I responded that if the young man hadn’t been Muslim, this wouldn’t even be a topic of conversation, and apparently the idea…

View original 386 more words

Moral Calculus

I’ve had philosophy on my mind a fair amount lately. This may be because I’ve read, or listened to, a couple philosophy books fairly recently. But it brings to mind some moral dilemmas I’ve been trying to work my head around – not ones in my own life, mind you. No, moral dilemmas in comics. Big shocker there, huh? It’s just something that’s been bouncing around in my head, and I thought maybe if I was able to try and put it all down in my blog, maybe some of it would stop bouncing around quite so much and free up some much-needed headspace, so here goes.

Backstory: Some very intelligent people – perhaps the most intelligent people in the Marvel world – formed a group called the Illuminati a while back. They wanted to be more proactive about problems in the world, and the universe at large. Their track record… didn’t go so well. They sent the Hulk off Earth, because they knew he would just keep causing destruction – but they didn’t foresee that when he came back – and of course the Hulk would come back – he would be PISSED. They tried to scare off the Skrulls (shapeshifting aliens who have tried to mess with and/or conquer Earth several times), and in so doing set the stage for a terrible invasion. So, eventually figuring out they were causing more harm than good, and that they became something of an echo chamber – assuming that being smarter than everyone else meant they had to be right – amongst each other, they disbanded. Until recently, when they reformed.

See, parallel universe-Earths had started to intrude on standard Marvel Earth. The smart guys figured out that this was not just a one-time thing, but the start of a pattern. Eventually, each parallel Earth that standard Marvel Earth interacted with would have to be dealt with, because across the multiverse, parallel Earth were being forced against each other, two by two – and if one Earth did not destroy the other, then both Earths would end up annihilated. Knowing that the Illuminati had failed before, in part because they failed to include morality in their calculations, they enlisted Captain America in their struggle. They asked him what they weren’t seeing, because they knew he would want to find a solution where both parallel Earths survived. So they gave him control of the Infinity Stones – all six of them – when a parallel Earth intruded on standard Earth (designated as Earth 616 in the comics, so I’ll use that here). He used the Infinity Stones – which, when together, form a power greater than virtually any other in the universe – to push the two Earths apart, but in doing so, he destroyed, at least temporarily, all six stones.

Left without the Stones as a solution, the other Illuminati started immediate discussions of a weapon that could destroy the next parallel Earth that had an incursion with 616, because more would come. This terrified and disgusted Captain America, who found the idea of destroying an entire alternate Earth – whose inhabitants were, as far as any of them knew, entirely innocent – a monstrously evil act. Moreso, Cap knew that if they constructed such a weapon, it would soon not be a question of ‘if the weapon is to be used…’, but when – because as the Illuminati had done before, they would talk themselves into the necessity of using their weapon. He preferred to wait, watch, and hope that when the next incursion occurred, they would find another way to avoid destroying either Earth. The others could not help but see his hope as just a notional idea, with no real substance to it. And so, knowing that unless Captain America was taken off the playing field somehow, that he would interfere with the Illuminati’s actions, they took a drastic step – they had Doctor Strange erase his memories of ever being there, or ever taking part in the action against the incursion, so that they could continue planning to save the world.

The Illuminati went on to have their own moral troubles with destroying alternate Earths, splintering even further into those who wanted to build a weapon but then find ways around using it versus those who wanted to use the weapon for expediency. Eventually, all remaining parallel worlds would collapse into a single universe, which is the status of the current Marvel comic event, Secret War.

The conflict seems to be one that plays itself out frequently in Avengers comics – Iron Man (one of the Illuminati) prefers to pursue the path that leads to the most good for the most people, something of a utilitarian philosophy. He’s alright with getting his hands dirty, with doing things he sees as ‘necessary evils’ in order to obtain a greater good. At one point, when fighting against a villain, the Crimson Dynamo, he did something that stopped the Dynamo’s heart. He then restarted it, of course, but for a short period of time, he’d technically killed him, and Tony was alright with that. Captain America is staunchly opposed to this, having principles he sees as inviolate – less worried about the ‘necessary’ part than the ‘evil’. He’d be more deontological – that is, he feels he has a duty to uphold certain principles, and that he can’t be morally in the right unless he makes every effort to uphold those principles. Steve was terribly angry with Tony when he pulled the Dynamo stunt, noting that he could have, and did, see a number of other ways to stop the Dynamo without killing him – even if only temporarily.

Both of these guys are trying to save the world on a regular basis. Often, they work together, and most of the time they consider each other friends. So why do they see morality so differently? Is one of them right and the other wrong? Are they both right and both wrong at different times, morally speaking? It can be hard to say. In the case of Earths colliding, as a resident of Earth, I’d like to keep living. But would I be alright creating a weapon to destroy the other Earth, killing everyone and everything on it, just to keep on doing so?

Let’s simplify it further. Say I’m standing in the middle of a road. I know that there will be people coming down the road, not in control of their vehicles, that will, if they hit me, kill me. For whatever reason, I can’t get far enough off the road to avoid them – I’m, in danger wherever I go. Say I also have a weapon that will let me stop the vehicles, and keep them from harming me – but stopping them vehicle kills the occupants – who have no control over their vehicle. There may, in theory, be ways I’m not seeing to both avoid being hit and avoid killing the occupants of the vehicles, but I can’t know what they are until fractions of a second before they vehicle hits me – which may be too late. Is it wrong to kill the occupants, innocent as they are, to ensure my own survival? If it isn’t wrong the first time, is it wrong the second? The third? When does my killing of innocent people make me into someone who isn’t wroth saving, if at all? Should I let the vehicle hit and kill me – essentially sacrificing myself – in order to allow the vehicle’s occupants to live? What if my death means the death of everyone I know and care for – and the death of the occupants of the vehicles does the same for them? How does that change things?

If these questions don’t make your head hurt a little, then you’ve clearly got things more sorted out than me, because as much as I want to side with Captain America, I don’t know that relying on the hope of finding a better solution – and doing it over and over – is a fair thing to do when you are gambling with the fate of an entire world, perhaps even an entire universe. But I also don’t know that immediately blasting billions of innocents to death to save billions of lives on your side is going to be the right move, either, especially if it has to be done many, many times.

Man, sometimes I find comics are far deeper than I generally give them credit for.

The Chosen

Courage. Honor. Loyalty. Sacrifice.

That is the mantra repeated over and over in one of my favorite graphic novels (the title being the title of this blog entry). It is, predictably, a Captain America book, and in it, Captain America has lost his physical abilities; his strength, speed, and endurance have faded. Worse, his body is almost totally collapsing, and doctors give him weeks, if not days, until his body fails entirely. But his mind works just fine – better, in fact. And so he undertakes one last mission. The story is told from the viewpoint of a Corporal , Jimmy Newman, in Afghanistan, fighting a war that scares and exhausts him, with no end in sight – until suddenly it appears Captain America is by his side, pushing him to go further, fight harder, be a hero. But on Corporal Newman can see Cap, and he disappears after aiding the Corporal. When Captain America appears next, he explains his situation to the Corporal.

Even though Captain America is dying, he can project his mind – through the use of some remote viewing technology – into the minds of others, like Corporal Newman. He can encourage others with his presence, even if he’s not physically there. He can help them unlock the courage they didn’t know they had, to fight the fear they feel. But doing so puts a terrible strain on Cap’s body, cutting short what little time he has left. But it’s important to Cap, because he knows that he can help these people. Where Project Rebirth created a super-soldier, what Captain America is doing – Project Multitude – is reaching out to dozens, even hundreds, of others, around the world, to summon the courage, honor, loyalty, and willingness to sacrifice to replace him. He knows that while the super-soldier serum might have made him super, it was those other qualities that made him the hero he is. And he knows the country – the world – needs more people who can follow in his footsteps. In the end, Captain America dies, but not before his words and example inspire Corporal Newman to truly heroic actions – and hopefully the same to the others he was reaching out to. The cover of the final issue of the mini-series, which I have a print of on my apartment wall, shows others taking up the burden Captain America leaves behind:

Captain_America_The_Chosen_6

I’ve been thinking about this a lot lately. Not just because I’m a big Captain America fan, though that helps  But because these are the qualities I want to see in myself. The courage to face my fears and overcome them. Honor shown through honesty, fairness, and integrity in both word and action. Loyalty to friends, family, and others who might depend on me. The willingness to sacrifice for good causes. I think about this more now, as I am about to enter into a program to eventually get my Masters degree in Social Work, and hopefully go on to try and help others.

I know I’ve expressed a number of fears recently, and some people I know were worried, and justifiably so, that these fears might be problematic and difficult to overcome – and that the inability to overcome my fears might be a big obstacle to going into the field of social work. How can I hope to help others with their problems, if I have such fears of my own? That worries me, too, but I also know that having fears is normal. Again, referring to the Captain America mini-series, one of the things he keeps talking about is his own fear. The fears that have dogged him since he agreed to start the program that would turn him into a super-soldier. What if I fail? What if I let the people who are counting on me down? What if I have sacrificed all I have for nothing? Captain America notes that he has never been without fear, because he knows that even when he had his abilities, he was still human – a man at the peak of human ability (and in Marvel terms, that’s apparently pretty far beyond what we think of), yes, but still a man. He wasn’t immortal like the gods (not God; Marvel’s universe does include God, and there are several tiers of lesser, but still godlike to ‘mere mortals’, beings below him; this is covered in philosophical detail in chapter 14 of The Avengers and Philosophy: Earth’s Mightiest Thinkers, true believers) he has fought alongside, or invincible like some of his fellow heroes; he never had the healing factor of Wolverine, or the incalculable strength of the Hulk. He was just a very well-trained man fighting against powers that could threaten cities, nations, worlds – even the universe itself, on occasion. On a strict power basis, Captain America is outclassed by almost every supervillain he has ever faced – and yet he never gives in to his fear.

My fears are real, yes. And they do scare me. That’s just how life works. Everybody is afraid of something; anybody who say differently is lying or having some severe issues. But if (the admittedly fictional) Captain America can face things that could destroy the universe – as well as, at various times, his own death, being stripped of his name, having to watch the people he grew up with die, and a whole host of other things, can I do any less than face my fears? I don’t aspire to be Captain America – for one, he’s fictional, and for another, I don’t think my body could take that kind of physical conditioning – but I do think the ideals that he espouses are worthy ones. And I have a sincere desire to try and help others through the kinds of things I have had to face with mental health, to make a difference in the life of at least one – and hopefully many more than that – life because I learned something that I can use to show someone who is hurting, depressed, lonely, and maybe even suicidal that things don’t have to be like that – that they can get better. I don’t think my fears will go away, but I do believe that I can face them. And I think that if I do, I’ll be a better person for it.

Having a Captain America shield on the wall is a mighty good reminder, though.

Cape Fear

Fear can be exhausting.

I really know this because lately, I’ve been scared – well, more like terrified – of a number of things, and when they add up, it just gets to be too much to handle, mentally speaking. Enough fear and where your body would normally react in a fight-or-flight stance, it just seems to wash over you and, while you can feel your heart race and your mind go weird, you just can’t seem to make yourself do much of anything. Yeah, it’s been one of those weeks.

Let’s start with the news. I can’t imagine anyone who has access to the news in the US, and probably much of the rest of the world, didn’t hear about the shooting in Charleston last week, where a young white guy, in what seems like a calculated act to try and start another civil war, went to a high-profile, traditionally African-American church, killed 9 parishioners while spewing racist BS, left one person deliberately alive to tell others about what he had done, and then go caught fleeing a while later. I don’t know much about Dylan Storm Roof, besides him being a racist murderer, but one of the posters on an RPG discussion board (RPG.net) said what I thought sounded very apt about this guy, and I’ll quote that user, neutrondecay, here: “When a white guy with the middle name ‘Storm’, in a former slave state that still flies the Traitor’s Flag, who wears badges honouring racist nations from before he was even born, goes to an historic black church closely associated with slave revolts and the civil rights movement, kills people, and leaves a survivor to report what he’s said and done, I think we can reasonably say that this was an act of racist terrorism.

Indeed, we ought to say it, and not mince our fucking words.”

Of course, soon afterwards came the typical stuff you’d expect – that this guy was clearly mentally ill, only crazy people do things like this, it’s not a symbol of systemic racism just one lone gunman. That shit scares me, because, hey, I have a mental illness. I don’t shoot people. I know a lot of other people with serious mental illness issues. They don’t kill people, either. In fact, according to the facts (found here, and cited), people with mental illness are not only not a very large part of the violent population, but are in fact 2.5 times more likely to be victims than perpetrators. Jumping to the conclusion that because someone shot and killed a number of people, he must be crazy/mentally ill – because of course only crazy folks do that – is not only giving him an excuse he doesn’t deserve, but also lumping all of the non-violent people with mentally ill people into a group with him and saying that we, too, should be considered likely to do something like that. It makes it seem like mentally ill people are more dangerous than people with guns, and should of course have our rights restricted because we might have something in common with a criminal. God forbid that his issue be with a culture of racism and white privilege, or any number of other legitimate issues. That might mean taking an uncomfortable look at society as a whole, and we can’t do that, so let’s just call him crazy, shove him in a hospital with all the other crazy people,and forget about him. Well, until the next one.

Along those lines are other stories popping up about people with mental illnesses being mistreated. The one that comes to mind is a blog post that covered a couple stories, linked here. One has a man who was in police custody; the police were ordered by a judge to take him to a mental treatment center, but instead of bother dealing with that – because they didn’t want the guy around if he was crazy – they felt it was appropriate to just put him on a bus from Kentucky to Florida. Yes, the police just shipped a guy from one state to another, in defiance of a judge’s orders, because they didn’t want to have to deal with a criminal whose mental health issues might have been at the root of his problems. That was actually the easier of the two stories to take, because the other involved another story of police mistreatment of a mentally ill prisoner, but he didn’t get a bus ticket. He had committed a crime – forging a check – and was arrested for failing to make a court appearance in that matter. He had been diagnosed with bipolar disorder in 2013, and apparently been managing it, but the stress around the criminal proceedings seems to have driven him off the rails somewhat. A physician who visited him in jail said he had become “quite psychotic“, and he was denied visits from his family. On April 7 of this year, 13 days after he was brought to jail, he died there of – get this – dehydration and malnutrition. They let him starve in jail rather than do anything to help, and the Sheriff responsible, Island County Sheriff Mark Brown, had this to say: “I am truly sorry for this tragic death. Our highest priority is the safety and well-being of our inmates and staff and this report describes a systematic breakdown of policies, procedures and communication that led to this tragedy.” The punishment involved for this terrible miscarriage of justice? Well, according to this Island Country Herald article, the chief deputy was suspended without pay for 30 days, and a lieutenant placed on leave. Treatment like this scares the hell out of me – if I had been brought in my police after my last suicide attempt, when I was hallucinating and wandering around a hotel talking to things that weren’t there, could this have happened to me? It’s enough to keep me up at night. Several nights.

Add to that the fear lately of dealing with women – one in particular – who I have some degree of interest in, but am absolutely terrified of talking to about said interest. Largely because I’ve never been good dealing with anything involving a potential romantic relationship, and also because I think I am still getting over my last heartbreak, and I don’t want to hurt anyone else by trying to make them a part of my life in such an intimate way and risk hurting them with baggage from my past relationship attempts. It makes me feel a little haunted, because I don’t know how to tell if I’m really over someone, or if I will even be able to tell. I also don’t want to make a horrible mistake and ask someone out, only to be rejected and still have to interact with this person on a regular basis. But I only have so many venues in which to get to know women, and taking a leap and asking one of them out from any of my current options freaks me out.

Finally, and most recently, a friend of mine seems to have decided that because of events transpiring right now in her life, she no longer wants to keep living. Having been suicidal myself in the past, I can understand the impulse, and understand feeling so lost and alone that it seems better off to just end your life. It’s come up in discussion in that past, but is much more front-and-center right now because of something happening. I don’t know what to do, or if indeed I can do anything. She’s my friend, and I don’t want her to go, but I also know that she has been suffering a lot, and this current loss will just be the latest in a list of indignities and sorrows; she recently told me she felt she was clearly not meant to be alive. I don’t know if there’s someone I should tell, or something I should do, because while I can understand her pain and sorrow, she will be the second friend in just over a year I will have lost to suicide if she goes ahead with it.

So yeah, I’m all feared out. Spider invasion? Bring it on. Shark attack? Go ahead, make my day. What the hell can eight-legged monstrosities or living death machines do to my sense of fear that isn’t being done already?