Recognizing myself

Last night I went to bed feeling isolated, alone and like I didn’t want to sleep.I stayed up till 03:30 knowing I had to be up for 06:00 to get to work. I don’t even think that I felt alone and isolated, but those ate the only words that come close to how I felt. I didn’t want to sleep because I didn’t see a reason to. I didn’t see a reason not to either. I mean yeah I had work in the morning and yeah I was tired, but I’d survive. I knew I would, I’ve done worse. So I stayed up, played a video game into the late hours, had shite tv playing in the background. I did this until I got too tired and bored. This was something I hadn’t done in years.

I didn’t recognise myself. I’d have done this every day of every week when I was in school, when I was far less capable of dealing with my depression and everything else. So yeah warning bells were ringing, though not so loud as to wake the neighbours.

I pondered it for a while occasionally returning to a game as I did so. I figured that Belle, my girlfriend, being out of town was probably the cause, but I have had nights without her before and been fine. So it was a contributing cause most likely. But after a while I realised it. I didn’t want to sleep cause that meant waking up, something I’m pretty sure 15 year old me would have known in an instant. Sleeping would mean waking up to go to work and while I don’t mind work, I wasn’t done with my own time. I wanted to stay up out of sheer stubbornness. I even realised that I’d felt this way before with Belle around. But in the end wanting to curl up and with her meant that I never stayed up too late and waking up next to her is better than waking up on my own.

I solved the case, washed some dishes and curled into bed with my kitten. The same kitten that purrs very loudly and likes to attack appendages in the night. It was a very broken 2.5 hours of sleep. I didn’t even get to sleep on the bus to work, it was running late and I was afraid of missing my stop, something I didn’t have to worry about at school. So I stayed awake and ran into the office in time.

As the day trundled on I performed quite well, I needed extra sugar sure, but I didn’t have issues doing my work. During done quiet periods my mind inevitably began to wander. I thought of a much younger me, the emotional explosive wreck that I was as a pre-teen. One particular incident with basketball stuck out (yeah I played basketball… I was cool). I either did or didn’t make a shot in a game of D.O.N.K.E.Y and the other players didn’t believe I did, so I fumed. To be honest I even remember the incident in third person. Like it want even me. But I know it was even if I don’t recognise me.

I got out of work early (woo split shift) and decided to write about it on an old unused blog, written by another me that I barely recognise. Though it’s the me I expect to be, worried, sleepy, naive and confused at being an adult. I don’t know when the change happened, when I stopped being the person that wrote the first post on this blog and started being the person I am today.

There is an old saying that “people never change”. But I know that isn’t true. It’s why I think of my childhood in third person, why I don’t understand what I knew intuitively as a teenager. Why ever time I look in a mirror I’m startled to see a man reason, I instead of the young, naive, lost post-teen or four years prior.

Or maybe I haven’t changed, maybe I’m the same as I’ve always been, just expressed differently.

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The Problem With Fighting Sexism

I have a funny feeling that this post is going to attract more flame than a florescent light does bugs, but I’m posting it anyway cause I feel I need to speak about it. I’ve seen this topic come up at least once a day in my news feed on Facebook for the last two months. Reading each one probably took about 10 minutes of my time due to the comments and stuff. That’s 480 minutes all told. Almost 8 mayflies died while I was reading these posts. Why doesn’t anyone think of the mayflies!?!.

Now to set the record straight I don’t mind the posts themselves on a one-for-one basis and most of them raise fairly valid points. Oh, we are of course talking about sexism towards women for this part of the program, in case you hadn’t guess, don’t worry we’ll get to sexism about guys later (trust me, it exists). Now these posts do vary wildly as to how effective they are at raising their point. One was this video HERE. Now maybe I’m the only one, but I thought the concept was good, the execution was bad. It asks if you feel uncomfortable watching the edits and I can honestly say “Yes, no more than I would have otherwise”. If you haven’t watched the video and are lost: Shame on you, go watch the video… I can wait… I’ve got the time…

….

Ok basically it’s a role reversal thing. Now I haven’t seen any of those movies, oh wait I saw Titanic and Twilight, so I didn’t have all the context to go by. Honestly, I felt uncomfortable with both scenarios. So at the end when it asks me if I felt uncomfortable and why (having assumed everyone that watches it will) I honestly lost the respect I had gained for the video. In my mind it pointed out that it was the same no matter who played the role. That it still made the story as compelling or creepy or weird no matter who was doing what.

So here is where my problem begins. All of these posts, articles, videos and Lord Ogma (Celtic god of Knowledge… I’m fed up of using lord) knows what else are getting very repetitive. I stopped following one person because ever day had a feminism post from her. Don’t get me wrong, if you are a feminist more power to you (if that is what you want). I’m all for equality, I’ve said so before, but Facebook is not the place to be shouting for it. The only people who will really see it are your friends and they probably already feel a similar way. What you can do though is negatively impact your cause.

I came across a post a while back which started well and good, it was a news article about female engineers or something. I don’t really remember and it’s not important. I thought the article was pretty decent. But what came after was hurtful. Another friend of the poster starter to weigh in and very quickly the post devolved into comment of how all men are assholes and jerks. I quickly hide the post from my feed as I couldn’t deal with the obvious flaw… I hope you see it. Okay if you don’t here it is: They were being sexist.

This is the ultimate flaw when it comes to dealing with sexism. Yes, women have gotten the short end of the stick for a long time in “most” cultures around the world. I would be hard pressed to argue otherwise (Not that I can’t, it’s just a really hard debate…oh God Danu so much flame). But it tends to come out swinging way too strongly and flipping the table completely.

When I open a door I tend to hold it open for the people following me, whether I know them or not. The only reaction I ever get from guys is a brief “Thanks”. With women I never know what’s going to happen, but I know it’ll be one of two things: “Thank you” or “Do you think I can’t do it myself?”. It’s extremely rare that I get the second remark from my friends, but I have gotten it from strangers. Now I’m not big, strong or in anyway intimidating, yet still because I’m a guy they think I think they are weak. I can honestly say that most of my female friends probably have my number in a fight.

Now I’m drawing on most of this from personal experience, the next part in particular. But there are some things that women can do that men just can’t (aside from make babies). I find that as a man I can’t get away with complimenting women properly on their choice of clothing. All men are allowed to say is “You look very nice today”. Cause if I say “I love the ensemble you’ve constructed to wear to day. The choice really compliments your skin tone and I love how you matched your top with the colour of your eyes and your shoes are just so cute I could die” I get really weird looks and called gay.

Why can’t I go and get a manicure, watch chick flicks and cry when Bambi’s mother dies? I don’t do any of those things… okay the odd chick flick here and there. It’s the same reason a girl can’t show an intense interest in engineering without being called a lesbian. There is a preconception that we must stick to or we are weird and wrong. I hate this preconception, I hate almost every preconception. We are all people, we are all different, just let us all live and let live.

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The internet and me

The internet and I (grammar!) have a strange relationship. Not the kind where we tie each other up, that’s a whole different kettle of fish. It’s one with a lot of ups and downs most of which I won’t go into in detail. Though some I will (otherwise this will be a very short post).

As many of you know I’m a gamer. As such the internet has provided me with a way to get my Game on at any time from almost any location. However the ability to have games constantly update had ruined the games themselves. A lot of games have lately been released half finished and buggy to all hell to be fixed/finished 4 months later. Uncool.

The big one that has been odd lately however is to do with newer friends/acquaintances. I have a semi busy week, with little free time to socialize. However the internet, ever helpful, has the answer for that. New acquaintances can talk to me via message systems.
YAAY!!!
Though not really. I have this weird problem with webchats and texts and the like. I don’t actually mentally connect them to the other person. I don’t know why I just don’t. This does two things, when talking to someone (via internet) I tend to relax more and actually be able to have a proper conversation. Which is pretty good, I get to know people, people get to know me. However once the conversation ends, when I see them in person the conversation may as well never have happened. Cause I feel just as nervous around them, sometimes even more so because it’s like I know things about them I shouldn’t because we never actually talked about them…
It’s weird, it’s annoying and it’s confusing. Anyway, I don’t know how to fix this issue our really make people aware of it. Unless I use the internet, the source of and solution to all of my problems. So if you are new in my life and notice I’m distant when taking to you, I’m sorry, I have a lot going on in my head.

I hope you enjoyed the read and it gave you some insight into me or maybe you have a similar problem and are relieved you aren’t the only one (if so please say so, so I can feel relief too… Kinda)

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Sinking

I know some of my friends are going to be upset by this post. Mostly because I didn’t turn to any of them, or even tell them that something was really wrong.

The truth is I’ve been entertaining thoughts that I shouldn’t be. Not suicidal thoughts, those haven’t really been an issue for some time, though they do still niggle at me from time to time. The main thought I’ve been entertaining is a shut down. Just turn the emotions all off and ignore them. I know it’s not healthy, I know it’s gotten me in trouble in the past, but it’s so tempting.

I haven’t exactly been in the best of places lately. I’ve got a job that could end in a few months, after which I have nothing to fall back on, no qualifications, nothing. If I’m out of work I’m living back home, which I don’t want. Living back home drives me crazy. But I can’t afford to live out of home because social welfare won’t cover any of my basic living expenses. I can’t afford an education cause… well I can’t. Also can’t get any assistance social welfare wise cause you only get it if you are on a different social welfare scheme for a certain period of time, which I can’t go on because I won’t be able to live on it and if I’m living at home I can’t get it.

So I’m in a dead end cycle when it comes to work. The book I’m writing has stalled to an absolute halt because I just don’t have the spoons for it between everything else on my mind. So I don’t make the goal I set for myself which makes me feel shit and I stop writing for more than a month, so I feel even worse.

My self confidence is shot.

There is a girl I like who is awesome in so many ways, but I’m so confused trying to wrap my head around basic social concepts like “What is a date?” that I end up just panicking and falling over myself.

I can’t think straight for more than twenty minutes, I’m getting angry all the time and annoyed at such simple things. I’m getting more and more concious of people talking to me and feel so stupid when I don’t know what’s going on, which seems to be all the time of late.

I feel like I’ve lost the ability to talk to some of my closest friends and my head is just this jumbled mess the is caving in on itself.

I’m tired, alone, worried, angry, deflated and I just want to turn it all off

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Sabbatical

I know I don’t post that often, so this probably won’t really cause much of an impact, but either way I figured saying ahead of time would be a good idea. A book I started writing some time ago has suddenly become a lot easier for me to write and I’m focusing like all my creative energies into it at the moment. As such I probably won’t be posting for the foreseeable future. I hope you guys have fun while I’m away.

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Symptom Treating

There has been a weird disparity between how physical and non physical problems have been treated for quite some time. The best example of this is in medicine. When someone has a sore shoulder because it has been dislocated you don’t give them painkillers and set them on their way, you set their shoulder. Not that I’m saying don’t give them painkillers mind you, pain is still… painful. In this instance pain was a symptom of the larger and more pressing matter of the dislocated shoulder. When it comes to mental health people take a different approach. (Note as with all things in this blog this is my opinions and experiences I’m in no way and expert on this subject…. I’m in no was a qualified expert. I have done my 10,000 hours in the field of depression and mental illnesses)

When I was in hospital for depression… 8 years ago… 9 years ago… a while back, I very quickly realised a simple truth. I could get out by lying. I was generally asked two questions in every meeting “How do you feel?” and “Have you considered killing yourself lately?”. So I lied and said “Grand” and “Nope”. Quickly the sessions became less frequent and before I knew it I was out. This is by no means the only example. One girl was anorexic (refused to eat), she would be released once she reached a target weight. I realise that the point of the hospital was to get us functional, but even outside it was the same scene. They gave me antidepressants and asked how I felt… not that I ever took the antidepressants, I didn’t want to get better, but I lied and said I felt fine and they believed me. Thankfully I learned to cope with the depression on my own, while pretending to be happy and not depressed I learned how to hide it well enough that I hid it from myself and learned to deal. I’m not saying this will work for other people but it worked for me.

So when I dislocated my thumb they set it and game me pain numbing pills. But when I was depressed they gave me pain numbing pills and didn’t fix my thumb.

This post isn’t about the faulty health system, it’s actually about, for want of a better word, politics. Like with health there are physical and non physical issues. These issues will also have symptoms. For example, lets say that road collisions (we can’t call them accidents any more because that apparently implies that no one was at fault) are much higher than average on a particular road. It’s discovered that it’s because the road is in a state of disrepair. The good solution is to fix the road, and maybe while it’s being repaired increase funding to emergency services in the area, you have set the bone and painkillers will keep things ticking over. The average solution is to just fix the road, you have set the bone. The stupid idea is just to increase funding to emergency services…. “But me finger still points at 90 degrees” “Yeah but at least it is no longer sore”.

Before I go any further I’m going to make something perfectly clear, I’m an equalitarian/egalitarian. Which is to say that I believe that everyone should be treated equally no matter what. There should be one set of laws for all people on the Earth. With the obvious exception of gingers… cause they aren’t people, they are better. Feminism is the belief that women should be treated equally. Crazy feminism is the belief that women should be treated better. That men should hold the door open for women and women shouldn’t for men (metaphorically speaking). Whenever I say something bad about feminists or feminism I’m referring to the crazy ones.

There is a non physical problem the symptom of which is women are being hired less often than men even when they are suited better for the job. In order to combat this symptom there has been a lot of talk of introducing mandatory minimum hiring quotas across the board by 2018 in Ireland. This is not only attacking a symptom and not the cause, but is tackling the symptom badly. It is a solution that I think is largely backed by those crazy feminists I mentioned earlier. The reason I say this is because of the major flaws behind the idea this hiring quota and indeed probably any hiring quota:

  1. A quota undermines people who get the job even if they deserve it. This is especially bad if it’s a managerial position as the last thing you want is staff thinking their manager isn’t qualified and only got the job because a quota needed to be reached.
  2. A quota of this type results in legislated unfair treatment of those it doesn’t cover, they are not being fair in all things they are being unfair to appear fair.
  3. Eventually this quota will result in someone dying. For example, there is a surgeon position going in a hospital. A man and a woman apply. The man is far better than the woman, but the hospital has to hire the woman to reach quota. When someone dies under the woman’s knife and would not have under the man’s, this law has killed a person. A law like this could kill you.

Those are not all the issues, but those are my three favourite examples. Of course for example number 3 it doesn’t just apply to surgeons, it applies to police, firefighters and truck drivers (what if someone hired to reach quota runs a light and kills someone).

Now we’ve looked at the symptom and the proposed, horrendous, fix. But what is the issue? It’s actually no secret, they openly talk about it on radio shows, which is where I first heard about this issue, my mother knows it, my father knows it and my friends know it. But not once have I heard of someone in parliament talk about fixing the problem. The simple reason for the inequality in hiring men and women is… *pause for suspense*… maternity leave.

Maternity leave in Ireland is 26 weeks and an extra 16 weeks unpaid. This means that when someone sees a woman of childbearing age walk into an interview they have to consider, that they could spend a year and a lot of money training this woman, but if she get’s pregnant she could be gone for 42 weeks, that’s almost a whole year, where the company has to get someone else in to do the job they hired the woman to do. Paternity leave does not exist in law, but civil servants in Ireland get 3 days and some companies offer it as part of their contract, but it is not enforced by law. This is an unequal system, how can you expect hiring standards to be equal if they system isn’t equal.

I’m not going to lie, women tend to (“Tend to”… I feel I can’t stress those words enough) be better at looking after babies. Not saying they all are or than men are universally bad. Hell my dad was changing my nappies and dancing with me in the hospital ward as soon as he was allowed, the nurses were gobsmacked (which is apparently the name of a wedding band). But some women don’t like kids, some men love them. Is it no unfair that the men can’t spend more time with their children when they are born? It’s also unfair the women are treated worse because they get more time off. I’m hoping that you’ve already come to the obvious solution, but in case you haven’t I’ll say it.

Change Maternity Leave to “Childbirth leave”. When a child is born both parents, or the two people acting as parents for the child can between them take the 26 weeks and between them take the additional 16 weeks of needed. That is to say that one of them could take 42 weeks off, or both could take 21 weeks off (At different times, for obvious reasons). Keep in the rules about women taking the minimum 2 weeks before due date, cause early births happen and it doesn’t make sense for the man to take it…. unless… nope it doesn’t.

I’m sure my proposed fix isn’t perfect and it would have to be looked at for all cases and people with lawducation (law education) will have to be called in. But it’s a far sight better than the quota system.

I hope you enjoyed this read.

Also, woot first post of 2014!

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Desert Island Disc

Some of you long term readers will be thinking “Holy fuck a review corner post… there hasn’t been one of those in forever” and you’d be right so I’m going to more than make up for it with my “Desert Island Disc”. For those of you who don’t know what this is; it’s basically a hypothetical scenario, where if you were trapped on an island and could only have a disc with 8 tracks of music, a book a religious/appropriate text the complete works of Shakespeare and one Luxury, what the tracks, book and luxury be. It’s a game played on BBC Radio 4 and has been going since it’s inception in 1942. (Yes I did just use inception correctly in a sentence :-P).

It was actually my dad that first asked me what I would have on the disc and my very first thought was “I don’t know any discs off the top of my head that are 8 tracks long”… It took a while for me to think about it as a disc of my own making and not one that is premade. Once I did I realised very quickly that there would have to be a lot of rules in place for the tracks I would bring with me. First and foremost is that it would have to be a song that would make me forget what the next song was meant to have been. Basically I like listening to music in the same order, consistently. So if something breaks that ordering it tends to upset me. (Asperger’s Syndrome – it’s the little things). Actually before I go any further I’m going to link you to the YouTube playlist for this just to make it easier:

This is the playlist… I don’t know why I pulled it out here but apparently I’m crazy.

So the first song on that list is “Red Like Roses” by Jeff Williams for a webseries called RWBY. It’s a song in two parts and it’s nine glorious minutes long. The first part was used in one of the trailers for the series and showed off the animations and combat that would be used in the series as a whole while giving us a bit of flavour to ponder about one of the protagonists. While the second part was used in a really big fight scene where the protagonists banded together to kick ass. If you are a fan of anime and have time to spare I highly recommend that you watch the series. As for the song itself, it’s got a lovely build up to a power house of an instrumental. The instrumental shift in it’s intensity beautifully with a weird country feel for the first three minutes or so, before diving into something with a bit more teeth on it. All in all I listed to this song for 5 days. It was the only song I listened to fir 5 whole days. It’s the first song on my list as it is the first song I realised could go on the list. So “Red Like Roses” served to highlight the most important quality for me when it comes to a Desert Island Disc: It has to never get boring or it has to be a song that once listened to I want to hear again.

So the second bit of inspiration for what song to put on the list came while I was working. I was installing a pc in an office and was having a chat with the user about their software when “Flame” by Bell X1 came on the radio. Once it ended I had to download the song so I could listen to it again. It’s a song I know and know well I just hadn’t heard it in forever and had always loved to listen to it. Bell X1 have a few songs I love to listen to. They have a weird blend to their music the makes it seem semi disjointed at times but it still makes sense. They do the same thing with their lyrics. It all weird but somehow it works really well. It was at one stage a competition between “Flame” and “Great Defector” (another of their songs). But Flame won out in the end as Great Defector’s imbalance in the music being played in both ears was something that would drive me mad if I heard it constantly. This song is technically my nod to the Irish too. As Bell X1 is an Irish band. My dad made several nods in his own list. Which I’ve avoided doing. I mean I want songs that I really want… I don’t want to be on an Island thinking “I wish I had taken something other than Mozart’s Symphony No. 4”.

The third song was another instance of a song that I heard and it just had to go on the list. This one came while my room mate was listening to a Spotify radio for his “Chill List”. The song is “Dancing in the Moonlight” by Toploader. This is a song that I always have to sway to, I don’t care who is in the room or what they think, I just gotta groove to the beat. It’s easy music and it’s good fun. I don’t think there is much that I can say about this other than all that. It’s a good clean song for people who like fun… you do like fun don’t you?

The next song is a combo hit for Pentatonix and Lindsey Stirling. Pentatonix is an absolutely amazing a capella band with only 5 members. While Lindsey Stirling is an amazing violinist who does stuff like “The Legend of Zelda” theme tune or “Halo” theme tune as well as her own compositions. So putting them together while a little bit of a contradiction (a capella meaning “music without insturment” and a violinist needing a violin)… It sounds like the start of a bad joke – “A violinist and an a capella band walk into a bar”. However their rendition of “Radioactive” is fucking amazeballs and has me listening to it again and again when I think of it. Pentatonix have certainly done a lot of great stuff as has Lindsey, but this gets two birds with one stone and fills my criteria.

Song number 5 was a big hit earlier this year, it’s short, it’s sweet and I leave it on repeat. “Ho Hey” by The Lumineers. When this song first came out I couldn’t get enough of it. The simple lyrics and story along with the head bobbing light hearted music had me swaying and singing along from day one. I just can’t get enough of the song, it seems that no matter how long it is it isn’t enough and I have to play it one more time. Also it has a ukulele… I think. I have to have one song with a ukulele and it was either “Ho Hey” or “I’m Yours” by Jason Mraz.

Next on the list is “Mountain Sound” by Of Monsters and Men. Yet another fantastically cheery song that may be breaking a rule I haven’t mentioned yet. That is the rule of keeping genres gaps. Cause there is no point in having only country music if one day I want to listen to rock and roll. “Mountain Sound” is very close to “Ho Hey”… but it’s awesome and one double up won’t kill me, right? Some of you probably know Of Monsters and Men’s more famous song “Little Talks” and I will admit that I do love that song too. But I find that “Mountain Sound” just speaks to me. I love being on a hike, away from the hustle and bustle of the real world and to just get away from it all. That’s what the entire song is about and I love it for that reason. Granted now I’m on and Island away from the hustle and bustle forever, so I should remind myself to enjoy it.

Second last on the list is a Fleetwood Mac song. Originally I was going to put in a song by Garth Brooks called “Callin’ Baton Rogue” but YouTube didn’t have the song on there. I’m guessing Garth probably called in a team of lawyer to crush them to little bits. All it really has is covers, so I went looking for a replacement. Steve Earle’s songs while great didn’t hold me quite so well, I can listen to his CD’s all year, but not the one song over and over. I ended up thinking for ages trying to come up with a song, till I remembered a time when I was skipping down O’Connell Street in Dublin dancing along to a tune and not caring who saw. The tune was “Bleed to Love Her”. Yeah ok, it’s a sappyish song, but I’m quite often a fairly sappy guy when it comes to matters of the heart and romance, so the song is staying… besides Callin’ Baton Rogue is also kinda sappy, gotta keep the sappy quota.

Last on the list is Owl City with “Vanilla Twilight”. Those of you who have read my old blog will know I reviewed him before when I had a rant about the difference between synthesizers and auto-tune. It was my love of “Fireflies” that had an acquaintance of mine declaring that I was gay to the high heavens and back again. But it was a fun song that I loved to listen to. Contrary to that and in fact most of the songs “Vanilla Twilight” is a sad song. It’s the song you sing when you miss someone you can’t see. Be they a love one or just a friend. It’s something I know a lot about as I’ve grown apart from friends over the years, whether it’s because they are in Korea or England, or just because out lives took different directions. It’s also a tip of my hat to the girls I love and miss. But also it’s a bit of an in joke “I wish you were here” because I’m trapped on an island and going crazy from the isolation.

Now let look at the whole isolation thing… in the 1950’s a psychologist name Donald Hebb placed volunteers in extreme isolation in small empty rooms with goggles and test tubes to block out sensory input. They were supposed to be in isolation for 42 days most people didn’t even survive 4. After which they went mad. Like completely mad. Humans are a social creature, alone on a desert we would go mad without those interactions. In Cast Away, the main character is on an island and actually makes a football into a person, just so he can have someone to talk to. I already talk to inanimate objects!

Anyway, I hope you enjoyed the read and liked the music that I picked. If you feel so inclined comment on what your 8 tracks will be.

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