Wherein I Repeatedly Kick the Rules in their Jelly-Parts

Soooooooo….. March vanished. Seriously, look at your calendar, and in the space March once occupied you will see a swirling vortex of nothingness. March is an empty wind rolling across a featureless plane. March is a barren wasteland, in which nothing moves, nothing grows, and, most importantly, nobody blogs. Yeah… sorry about that. Actually, you know what, I’m gonna pull a ‘sorry, not sorry’ on this one, cause I have been fucking busy. That’s right, I haven’t just been sat on my pretty little ass watching Supernatural (Season 10, BITCHES!!!!… *ahem*). As mentioned in my last post, I have a Bachelor of Arts starting this year, and on March second University exploded in my face like a shotgun with Bugs Bunny’s finger wedged in the end.

But this problem, my friends, is two fold. You see, I have this rebellious streak roughly the size of Russia. I’m very, very not good at doing as people say, even when that thing is something I enjoy doing, like writing this blog. And when, late in February, I promised you guys a particular post (on why villains are more interesting than heroes, as those of you with powerful memories or the ability to scroll downwards know), I did the equivalent of setting myself homework and with university Elmer Fudding all over my face (Ewwwwwwww, I sincerely apologise for that image), I had enough homework already, thank you very much. Also, aside from my own personal morals and, y’know, sanity (even if mine is a pretty unique sort of sanity), pretty much the only thing that will get me to do as I’m told is the notion that BAD THINGS WILL HAPPEN IF YOU DON’T DO THIS THING!!! and even then I will procrastinate until the last possible second before doing everything in a panicked whirlwind. I’m so used to this cycle by now that it doesn’t even stress me out any more, it’s just homework, my style. But because the main thing that actually gets me off my stupid (if pretty) butt is the avoiding of consequences, and not blogging when and what I said I’d blog has less bad consequences than getting an assignment in late, or not getting enough sleep, or not bathing and allowing my armpits to disintegrate into the fetid cesspool of excretion that lies at the centre of every human soul. Writing an apology post (or a sorry not sorry post, in my case) just isn’t as bad as all that stuff.

But here’s the thing, of all the twenty odd people who follow this blog, I’m probably the one who feels the worst when it sits here for four weeks straight and nothing happening. So why make a big deal of it? Well, thing is, I feel I weird kind of loyalty to you strange and wonderful people who follow the blog. You guys feel the need to clog up your probably already congested wordpress feed, just to have a glance at what I’ve got to say every month. And that is freaking touching. So honestly, thanks, to all the people who follow here, it really does mean a lot. I also have an obligation to give you guys what you signed up for, and deliver to your eye holes monthly doses of…. And there I’m stuck.

What is this blog about? Books? I guess, I mean book reviews are a thing that you can find here. Writing? Sure, but it has become far from the focus of this place. The unholy blackness that sits in the empty hollow where my heart should be? Meh. I think about all the things that people say make a successful blog. Like images, a regular posting schedule, a topic, and I find that this blog has none of those things. Maybe that’s why I’ve been doing this thing for almost a year and only twenty people have signed up for the ride. This is what I’m sure many people would call a ‘growing platform’ or even possibly a ‘failed blog’ but it doesn’t feel failed. And while it does seem to be growing (like half of you only joined up with the previous blog post), I’ve kind of stopped looking at this place like a ‘platform’. This isn’t some stage where I flog some stuff most of you probably aren’t going to buy, this is a goddamn street performance. I’m standing here, on the side of the information superhighway doing linguistic backflips, hoping that some of you will stop, toss a coin or two my way and continue with your day hopefully improved by the experience. But, even that is not all this blog is. This place is like my padded cell. This blog is the place where I can yell at the walls, talk to a crowd that mostly exists only in my hopes and dreams, where I can swing from a chandelier, where I can tear my hair out, let loose and for once in my repressed life show the world my odd, gooey insides. This place is all of those things. So this, dear reader, is my promise to you. I will tell you if I do stuff I would like you to throw money at (if you can afford it), I will dance for your amusement, I discuss the books and T.V shows and movies that I am currently obsessed with, I will call genitals ‘jelly-parts’, and brains ‘pink-squish’ and eyes ‘eye-holes’ because I can, because fuck success. Success is arbitrary, and ultimately more than a little meaningless. This will never be a ‘successful’ blog, with hundreds of thousands of followers, and sponsorships and all that other jazz. People have done that, and they can keep doing it. I have twenty people hanging onto my tail as we swing from the chandelier in the middle of this padded room. As long as this place is fun, then it is successful, as long as this place is safe, then it is successful, as long as I keep posting more than a couple of times a year, this place is successful.

So, dear reader, hang on tight or get off. It’s going to be a bumpy ride.

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The Need to Do (a ramble about motivation)

So motivation has been a big struggle for me recently. Not just motivation to write, but motivation to do do anything, motivation to wash my clothes, motivation to wash myself, motivation to get up in the morning, motivation to eat. Motivation to do much of anything besides lie in bed and watch Supernatural all day (nearing the end of season 5, it’s bated breath and cold sweat good, for the most part). Of course I don’t sit around all day and watch Supernatural (most days. I am a weak willed sack of monkey meat and sometimes the siren call is too much), instead I aimlessly surf the internet looking for enough dopamine to make the hours of pointlessness worth it… but it never is.
Instead both Friday and Saturday last week I wrote a thousand words of my novel. Not only that, but I fleshed out my outline a bit and learned more about my world. I need not tell the writers out there how good that feels. It’s a flood of happy hormones injected right into your pink-squishy grey matter, by your pink-squishy grey matter. It is a call to arms against the apathy that has plagued me pretty much since the end of school last year. I have been lethargic and despondent, and I put it down to not having a set in stone plan for the coming year (a situation that had since changed, Bachelor of Arts FTW!!!) but even since I have been accepted into my Bachelor of Arts, which sorts out my next three years for me, actually doing anything still seems to not being on the agenda. Until last week.
Last week I put together two pieces of flatpack furniture, because I really needed a new desk and the poor little cane ‘bookshelf’ (that was originally intended to be a shoe rack, but it was nineteen dollars and flat enough to hold books) was all but falling apart at the workload I was putting on it. So I retired the little guy and replaced it with one of those handy dandy cube storage units cunningly turned ninety degrees sideways so it would fit under my window. That and the fact that I’ve recently been reorganising my bedroom/office had led me to a conclusion…
It feels way better to do something, ANYTHING, than it is to do nothing, BUT it’s way easier to just do nothing and watch the world go by than it is to actually take on/complete a project, and all too often being the easier option is all it takes.
Another example, I could watch Supernatural as I eat dinner tonight, or I could read the wonderfully poetic book that I picked up at a closing down sale of a local bookshop the other day (a phenomenon of book stores closing down is one that gives me mixed emotions, because on the one hand you have a book store closing down, always a tragedy, but on the other you have really, really cheap book. ARRRRGH!! THE CONFLICT THAT RAGES IN MY SOUL!!!… ahem. Moving on). This book, The Age of Orphans by Laleh Khadivi is spectacular, but the language, while gorgeous, requires mental activity to equate the beautiful, beautiful words to the action. With Supernatural (or any other kind of TV… if you’re into that kind of thing) there is no such process. The action is right there in front of me with everything explained neatly and simply for a mass-consuming audience, and yet, reading Age of Orphans not only makes me realise that you can be poetic without straying into overdone purple prose, but presents a captivating tale of a young boy dealing with one of the most turbulent times the middle east has ever known. I can feel my understanding growing as I read it, and I know it will impact my writing in the best possible way and yet… I want to watch Supernatural.
So often we don’t do things because they’re hard. For years now, I have a avoided coming out as bisexual to one vast majority of my family who I really, really don’t think will have good reaction. It’s hard and I don’t want to do it. But one day, I will have to, just because that level of deception is just not a sustainable or healthy way to conduct any relationship. And it is the same, albiet with less potential for shouting matches around the dinner table, with writing.
It’s hard, but we all need to suck it up and just do it, because it’s important. Important to our mental and physical health (not saying writing will give you an awesome six pack or anything, but doing something that you are proud of, even just a little bit, every day must have a good impact on something physical, right? Like the old psychology adage, ‘everything mental is physical’). And if this week has taught me anything, it’s that the best motivation is momentum. I started out by rearranging my room, which let me to buy and put together new furniture, which led to finally getting a desk space I am happy with, which led to me writing more, which led me to reading more and that whole thing has led me to write this blog post. A thing that I am proud of, and that must be having a good effect on my brain because I feel way more active writing this now than I did watching that episode of Supernatural earlier today (like I said, weak-willed sack of monkey meat).
As people we must do to keep on doing, once something is set into motion it will stay in motion until something stops it, and once it is stopped it will stay stopped until something moves it (Newton’s Laws of Motion: helping to create motivational speeches and blog posts since 1642). And here’s a thought, that thing that always moves or stops this metaphorical object that is your motivation, is you. Not to get all ‘self-help: the power within’ cliché here, but the outside world can only give you the idea to push yourself away from Sam and Dean Winchester, it’s you that sets that ball rolling. Always. And that, is pretty damn amazing. But once the ball is rolling it’s just as easy (a lot of times way easier) to stop it again, but then, dying can sometimes seem easier than living, and everyday people choose the harder option. Why? Because life is important, your life is important, because no matter how lethargic you are now, you will do things in your important life, and doing things is important, and there are some important things that only you can do (like write YOUR book, for example). So go out there, and DO a THING. Because it’s important, and also because the dopamine rush is really, really good.

Tune in next time when we may or may not discuss villians vs heros and why Batman is cooler than Superman, but why Hannibal Lecter is cooler than both of them.

Till then, thing doers, I bid you good luck in all the things you end up doing (…*snicker* GET YOUR MIND OUT OF THE GUTTER)

Ashlee

Einstein’s Tongue, Self-Esteem, Comparing Yourself to Others and Pink, Squishy Brain-Pulp

Sooooooo… Another month has flown by and once again there was no post here. Trying hard to feel guilty but… you know what… fuck it. From now on this blog is monthly. Somewhere between the forth and the sixth of each month there should be something new here. I may also post random stuff I come up with in the interim, but in general, if you are one of the vast minority that actually cares when these go up, then check back on those three days each month and see what’s up. Good, there, now my own niggling guilt of barely giving this blog a thought during the passed thirty days has been justified, lets get onto this post proper.

This is a blog about comparing yourself to others. Not really an original idea, I know, but it is a universal experience, thus no matter how much we talk about it someone is going to relate to it and help validate our views. And really, isn’t that what social interaction is all about? Finding people who validate how we think enough that we call them friends, finding people who REALLY validate us and who may or may not be unbelievably sexy to call ‘significant other’ or ‘girlfriend’ or ‘boyfriend’ or ‘partner’ or, if you’re feeling romantic, ‘my better half’ (naaaaawww), the point is opinions matter a crapton to us humans. We base pretty much our entire existence on the stuff spouted by our squishy brain-pulp and the stuff spouted from the squishy brain-pulp of those we love and admire. But the trouble comes from when we decide to put those spoutings in a place where others who do not share our particular brain-pulp spoutings can see them (no, I am not going to drop that particular turn of phrase. Get your squishy brain-pulp into gear and focus on the spoutings and not the way they are spouted. Grossed out? Excellent. We can continue).

It is a time such as that, when our brain spoutings are about to be splashed all over everywhere like the gore in some torture-porn horror film, that we need validation the most. However, in the search for such validation we often look to people we admire (the ones who may or may not have helped shape out opinions via their own brave brain-spouting), and think ‘is what I’m about to say in line with what this person has already said?’ or, ‘is what I’m about to say as good as what this person has already said?’ OR ‘should I even say anything because this person has already said it all so well and I just agree with them and by saying this thing it would just be me agreeing to everything they say and what is the point of any of this?’…. Soooo, yeah. You’ve done it, I’ve done it, EVERYONE on the goddamn planet has done it, and if they say they haven’t, then they’re liars (lying liars who lie. Don’t lie lying lairs!).

So what’s to do about it? How can we eradicate this intolerable scourge of the human psyche? *Strikes dramatic pose* OH GOD, PROTECT MY INNOCENT, PINK AND SQUISHY BRAIN-PULP FROM SUCH UNNECESSARY DAMAGING SELF-FLAGELLATION!! (Quick Google break to ensure ‘self-flagellation’ means what I think it means. It does. Also, insert Princess Bride joke here). Still with us? Good. So, what’s to be done, I hear you probably not ask because I just asked it for you? Well, metaphorical person on the other side of this screen, I personally have no idea what’s to be done. None. Zip. Nada. N/ fucking A (which stands for “not fucking available” for those of you playing at home). To be perfectly honest, I’m not entirely sure that anything does need to be done. Ok, ok, clearly that is not going to be a catch all statement. I mean this is people’s self-esteem we’re talking about and no-one’s brain-pulp spoutings are any better than anyone else’s brain-pulp spoutings, no matter how pink and squishy and potentially delicious they may be (guys, we should totally start the zombie apocalypse. We don’t even need real zombies, just convince everyone that brains are delicious! No? Really? Well, that just ruins everything doesn’t it. Ok, ok, fine. Brains are not all that delicious. Happy? Good. Now enough of this tangent). But that statement before the really long bracket break isn’t necessarily true. Namely, no-one’s thoughts are not superior to anyone else’s thoughts. But see here’s the thing, Einstein developed the majority of his groundbreaking theories while he was working in a patent office during his twenties, that dude on the corner of the big city street wearing a cardboard sandwich board and shouting that gravity is a lie and you’re all mindless drones for being taken in to the ’round earth conspiracy’ may also be in his twenties, he may work in a patent office when no shouting at people, but the fullness of time will only prove one of them right. And only one of them is on some university student’s wall, forty odd years after he revolutionized physics, sticking his tongue out and just generally reminding everyone that genius’ can be fun too. It’s not the guy with the sandwich board.
Via Funny Pictures.net

 Einstein: Being awesome and ruining the paparazzi’s day since 1871

So perhaps it’s safe to say that Einstein’s brain-spoutings were at least a little bit more valuable to the history of the human race that that guy yelling about how the earth is flat. So, no, I don’t believe all brain-pulp is created equal. Nor do I believe that everyone is either a genius or someone who cannot see the evidence right in front of them (*cough, cough* global warming *cough, cough* Oh, what? Me? No, I didn’t say anything. Nope. Nah. NOTHING AT ALL. *pokes you fifteen times in succession, then scampers off to hide behind a melting iceberg*). The point is that some people have thoughts that will be more important and more influential to not just the human race and/or those individuals around them than others. Maybe that flat-earth guy will resonate with someone, but the majority of us will probably just sort of avoid eye-contact and shuffle uneasily out of his way. I am not saying that just because someone is important does that mean we should listen to what they have to say ( see: Tony Abbott, George W. Bush, most really huge celebrities, some priests), I am saying that some thoughts hold more value than others and that some people have those valuable thoughts more often than others. But we’ve strayed too far from the path. What does any of this have to do with comparing your brain-pulp spoutings to other people’s brain-pulp spoutings?

Well, the fact is, that even the most valuable mind is going to have invaluable thoughts, is going to believe wrong things, or things that hurt and marginalise others. All of us like to believe that we have a valuable mind, it’s certainly valuable to us, and for the most part, people’s thoughts are generally worth considering even if they don’t exactly align with yours, but those invaluable thoughts can sneak up on you. You don’t know if it’s coming, when it’s coming, where, why or how. But once it’s out there, it’s out and you can’t pull it back. This is why we compare ourselves to others. “Does this thought match what I believe?”, “Do I want to keep believing these things or must I reevaluate myself?”, “Does what I have to say hold any value to those who might read it?” These are the questions we are actually asking ourselves. And the way we answer them, to our own satisfaction at least, is by comparing our thoughts to others. It gives us a compass of sorts, a way gauge our worth in the world. But, and here we come to why this can be a problem, if you come to the conclusion that your brain-pulp has no worth, that it’s a little too much squish and not enough pink, then your spoutings will never be shared and any thoughts you have of value will be wasted. Any genuine, valuable thoughts you have will remain split-second flashes of electricity between synapses and will fade, buried in the dried-out neurons of your brain long after you are dead.

So I argue, compare yourself to others, question yourself, even doubt yourself a little (or a lot if you’re like most of us), realise that nothing you say is golden gospel, but very likely nothing you say will ever be utter horseshit either (exceptions probably apply to the less tolerant among us, I guess. Because seriously, fuck racism, sexism, homophobia and the rest of them right up the ass in the bad way. I’ve heard that it can be quite fun if you do it right, but let’s not make this weird). There will probably be some value in most things you say. That dude on the street corner, shouting outdated-since-the-ancient-greeks  nonsense, may spark some physicist with a mind for such things to re-evaluate our outlook on gravity and come up with something absurd but plausible like string theory and solve all our problems.

I guess what I’m trying to say here is that all minds have value, perhaps not in the same amounts and certainly not in the same way, and I have yet to see a mind devoid of value, no matter who it belongs to, no matter how much filth they are spouting from their brain-pulp. So don’t let your brain-pump go to waste, compare yourself, doubt yourself, question everything about yourself and others, but don’t let anyone or anything invalidate or devalue you to you. Perhaps you need help in doing this, like someone whose job it is to analyse brain-pulp and try to fix it, or medications to smooth out the squish and add some pink, either way, both or neither may or may not work for you. Try anyway, because otherwise you’ll never know and that precious brain spouting may go unheard and that would kind of suck, for pretty much everyone. So you go out there and spout your pinkest brain-pulp, you little maybe-Einstein, you, and to be honest just the hope of that keeps me going.

Till next month, good luck with whatever it is you are trying to do. Hopefully you’ll have a pretty good new year and such. Happy soon-to-be Holidays to the people who like to be told such things and a good old “Aren’t Christmas carols just freaking annoying?” to those who don’t. Might post something new up here before 2015, but maybe I won’t. We’ll have to see.

Anyway, till then, look after yourself, and keep those precious thoughts coming. It looks like we’re going to need them.

Ashlee.