Stop Doing That

I don't know why I started thinking about this, but y'know what bugs me sometimes? When someone's attempts to reassure or cheer you up come across sounding dismissive.

You say, "I'm angry."
They say, "Don't be!"

You say, "I'm sad."
They say, "You can be happy!"

You say, "I'm jealous."
They say, "Everyone gets that way but you've gotta remember to be grateful for what you have."

You say, "I'm lonely."
They say, "You have people who love you."

It's an attempt at positivity that lacks more substance. It's not their intent to act like what you're feeling doesn't matter but that's how it comes across. Like you simply shouldn't feel pissed off, lonely, whatever. Just because you're feeling low doesn't mean you're incapable of counting your blessings or that you've forgotten you have people in your corner. You know these things but still feel bad or mad or sad anyway: that's what you're trying to express by bringing it up.

(I started writing this as a Facebook status update but I was getting long-winded. Now that I've moved it over here, I'm breathless. Probably from the high altitude that comes from me standing on my soapbox. I'll clamber down and wrap up the thought. Which no one will read anyway but it's not like I'm trying to get sympathy or to elicit a reaction from anyone, so what's it matter how long I write?)

If remarks like that were part of a whole conversation on the subject, then it wouldn't come off in such a frustrating manner. It wouldn't be so... "Doctor, it hurts when I do this!" "Well, then you should stop doing that!"

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Loneliness, Happiness, and Everything Else

A couple of years ago when I actually utilized my Tumblr account, I posted something that prompted a perfect stranger to tell me something to this effect: "You're in charge of your own happiness so you should fix all your own problems. Take control and make things better."

I was thinking about that on Valentine's Day. It's one of those uncomfortable memories that creep up on you when you're feeling cringe-worthy, like your present day stuff isn't enough on its own and must needs be augmented by past feelings of discomfort.

Bearing in mind that Total Stranger had only whatever existed on my Tumblr to judge me on, combined with her own views, I can't say that the comment caused offense. But it's stuck with me because there's a part of me that believed what she said and hated me for not... for not doing something about it.

Here's what I think.

Ultimately, in some respects we have to claim ownership of our happiness and unhappiness both. We have the capacity to attempt positivity in the face of negative events. We similarly can find a place of negativity where maybe another person would err on the side of being positive. In that sense, there's some sort of 'control' over our emotional reactions, in that there's multiple possible perceptions to any one instance. I don't think you can really force yourself to feel any one thing; it is possible to try to paw through a myriad of emotional responses and try to nudge the more positive ones to the surface. That's okay.

But if no person is an island unto themselves, they're not responsible for -- or even capable of -- being 'in charge of' how they feel about any given thing. Happiness and every other freaking emotion known to man is not wholly internal. Humans are at least somewhat social in nature, though there's a fairly broad spectrum of how much this matters to a person. If you live with people, work with people, acquire goods and services from people...? There exists the very real possibility that they have an influence on your reality, even in altering your perception.

Right now, I'm not especially happy. Within me I've got a wicked concoction brewing: equal parts of 'being pleased on behalf of others' mixes with 'jealous feelings regarding the happiness of people I know.' Add a dash of 'self-aware self-pity' -- actually, you'd best sprinkle a bit more of that in -- and some 'semi-detached reflection.' It simmers until soppy and listless, at which point a healthy spoonful of 'shake yourself out of this already' is vigorously stirred in. Let the contents cool and serve with a garnish of 'chagrin' and a heaping side order of 'things'll get better because they have to.'

I'm not happy. I'm not ugly crying into my pillow or sobbing tremulously at unexpected moments during the day... but just the same I'm more than a little sad. But I'm not capable of following Total Stranger's order to "take control and make things better." There's not a whole lot I can do to make this better. I can, and do, accept the fact that I'm simultaneously jealous of and happy for the people in my life who aren't alone -- significant other, tight-knit family, children -- and the people in my life who are alone and are fine with it. Even happy about it, whether it's their choice or not.

I want, one day, to have a partner. Valentine's Day, to paraphrase something said by a friend, is a day when you're more aware than ever that you're single. While I wouldn't mind the grand gestures of romance and affection that the day is a gateway to, I'm more concerned with not feeling lonely. I'm very lonely, on my own a fair bit, with good friends that in no way live close by. I love these friends dearly but I rather want a companion now and again. Whilst I know there are possibly things I could do to remedy the negative feelings I'm experiencing, I'm also more than a little helpless in this particular area. Chronic illness plays its part as well. It's not so much that I don't get out much as it is sometimes that I can't get out.

These things add up to make me generally unhappy. There's stuff in my life that I am happy about. This isn't a black or white issue, isn't even a sliding scale; I'm capable of being all over the map all at once. But right now I'm feeling the unhappy bits more acutely and that's pushing positivity to the back burner. I'm doing what I usually do: attempting to make the best of things, saying practical phrases, attempting stoicism once I've admitted weakness, simply dealing with the situations I find myself in. I excel at dealing with so many things.

What I'm not so great at is asking for help. I falter at knowing when it's okay to ask and when I should help myself instead. I fail miserably at being direct and specific when I do tentatively reach out. I expect I'm sometimes difficult to be friends with because none of you are mind readers and I'm rarely clear with how you can assist me. This is because I don't know myself. I'm writing this now as a way to tell you that, though I don't know how to talk about it, I think I need people out there to read this and maybe you can come up with something to make me feel less alone, something to help me smile so much that the scales tip in favor of the positive aspects of my life so I can't dwell on the mounting negatives.

This might be the closest I can get to trying to make things better.

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French, with English Subtitles

I used to go to the movies.

There was, I assure you, a time before I started singing arias to the tune of bemoaning high ticket prices. Heck, there were even times when I liked a film so much, I saw it twice. Or more.

Nothing beat that experience of sitting in a theatre, wrapped in a cocoon of sound and darkness, tucked safely away from the outside world and able to escape reality for a couple of hours.

I still like films, of course, but these days I only see them when I can bum 'em off someone's Netflix account or when they come on cable TV.

Just now, I was surfing Comcast's TV Go app, which taps into their premium channels and that newfangled Streampix. I came across a foreign film that I saw with David. It was released in 2004. That's currently freezing my mind up, making it Blue Screen of Death, requiring a mental reboot and crossed fingers that the hard drive of my brainmeats won't seize up again.

2004. That's ten years ago, give or take. I can't remember if we saw the film before or after I graduated college (insert another brain freeze here for the decade of time between then and now). But let's not get too mathy and just call it ten years. It wasn't the last movie I saw in theatres, though I can't actually remember now what was. Wait, no: Monsters University. We try to see a Disney film for Mom's birthday and manage it most years. So, yeah, I've been to the flicks since 2004. It wasn't even the last movie David and I saw together, though that's a title that no amount of excavation can dredge up. It would've been a handful of years after that, that our friendship sputtered and stalled.

Still, seeing that film in the Comcast listings was a fun little sucker-punch that sent me sprawling down Memory Lane. I miss David, miss his guidance and his companionship, and I feel the lack on a daily basis. I don't know how to talk to him anymore; the last time I tried, we were both awkward and stilted and I don't think I sufficiently convinced him that I need him. That was years ago. Can't even imagine how to reach out to him now.

It's not that I don't have friends -- I have some great friends -- and it's not like I spend a lot of time wishing things were different. Once in a while, though, something hits me in just the right way to trigger a memory and it makes me long for not only that camaraderie but also pieces of the person I used to be. When I could drive to a friend's house to hang out. When I had more than a smart phone in my arsenal to communicate with the folks I love. When I could go to the movies without worrying that I should be paying bills. When I had more mobility and less pain.

All this, just from some movie in a list I was scrolling through in some app. The film's title, by the way?

Intimate Strangers.

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My Spoiler Alert Radar is On the Fritz

I'm so tired of being spoiler'd.

Before this cues another round of apologies: don't. It's not your fault and it's not your responsibility to police yourselves and what you post. Don't feel that way. It's not right and it's not fair. Freedom of speech and whatnot. Freedom of expression through photos and .gifs and whatever. Talk about what you want and post on all the social media that you want about your fandoms and passions. Show off the pretty pictures.

This isn't me being grr arg at any one person or about any one fandom. I'm sure I've inadvertently doled out my share of spoilery material... yet seem to be wading through a sea of current fictional events where -- being stuck in the past in so many things -- I find myself confused and annoyed. I'm partly irritated at myself. Mostly myself, even. Irritated that I'm never up to date on TV shows I watch, irritated that I never get out to the movies, irritated that I'm even irritated in the first place because this is certainly not a life or death matter. For the most part, it's television. Television is not the be all, end all. It's fun but it isn't everything.

That being said, I'll repeat my opening statement once more (with feeling): I'm so tired of being spoiler'd. Even the tiniest details, the smallest slips... they just keep on coming and I feel myself in a fit of pique.

I know I can't keep up with all of the fandoms I enjoy. I lost track of when I lost track of NCIS but I still miss it and want to start it over. That takes a backseat to the episodes of Once Upon a Time, Downton Abbey, The Vampire Diaries, Suits, and Person of Interest. I'm behind a varying degree of episodes in all of those and more. I care about some more than others. And I have another series or two or three I'd like to watch. Like Psych and 30 Rock. I have this thing where I like to watch TV shows from their first episode on, instead of jumping in midstream, as it were. I know that practice makes me even more susceptible to spoilers because the information's been out there longer. A long time in some cases. So I can't go in even as a new viewer without some preconceptions. I get that. I just need to stop stumbling onto quotes or pictures or discussions that give some very big things away. And when I'm sent dialogue, photos, video clips, or .gifs, I need to not look at it so closely (or at all) and just keep going. When folks start conversations with me and I know how far behind I am, I need to say so before they get a chance to say something I'll regret hearing.

It's a different sort of vibe, with films. I haven't seen most of the newest superhero films, like The Avengers stuff. I want to. A lot. I just haven't had time, though I've seen so much art for it. Even when it's stuff I know the basic story to -- The Hobbit, for instance, or Les Miserables -- I still very much want to see the movies and be awed. I feel like I've seen so many .gifs for them.

I know I'm rambling sulkily about mostly unimportant stuff. I'm not forever damaged by happening to see fanart that gives away plot. I won't go in a corner and cry because someone showed me pictures for things I haven't seen yet. It's just a frustrating feeling, to be so behind and missing out on learning and experiencing these things for myself. And I'm tired of all of my frustrating feelings.

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Stacks and Stacks of Fandoms

There's no doubt about it: I watch too much television and read too many books. Though it's weird to say 'too many' when it pertains to books. Might want to retract that statement.

Anyway, yes, over the past few years my television consumption has increased. Some of this is because my health has deteriorated and it's an activity I can do just sitting in my armchair. Another reason is that my mother has the TV on all day long. Being disabled herself, this is her escape. I think she also likes the sound for company as she cooks and whatnot. The dogs certainly enjoy it.

I've seen some good shows. Some bad ones. Some /really/ bad ones. The same's probably true of books and even films. I did, in fact, watch the Super Bowl this year. For once, I paid attention to more than the commercials. It was a pretty crazy game. Though I only know the basics of football, it was one hell of an interesting Super Bowl.

Somehow -- no, I don't know the stream of consciousness that brought me here -- this made me start wondering about many of the fandoms I watch and read, past and present. I think in the past I'd indicated that it'd be interesting for me to list my favorite characters, pairings, scenes, and/or episode or chapter titles in books, movies, and TV shows. Okay, so maybe I didn't say all of that all at once. But I know I've talked about a pairings list before, canon or non, and I often look on IMDb for episode titles that speak to me. Most times I choose books at the library sale based solely on their wacky titles. There are film scenes and media characters that just resonate for me.

I want to get thoughts about this stuff down. I've started a note on my phone for when stuff occurs to me and I'll take the next month or so to add to it. You can help by suggesting fandoms you'd like to hear about: movies, books, theatre, sitcoms, dramas, reality, cartoons, gaming... whatever springs to mind. Doesn't matter when it came out. Have questions about a certain writer, director, actor, character, series? Go ahead and ask. If I don't know anything about a fandom, I'll say so. Want to share your opinions on pairings you love, hate, or love to hate? Let's hear it. Comment here or drop me an e-mail or other social media message and I'll keep on adding to my list(s). It'll give me something to share on LiveJournal and something to think about when I'm sick in bed.

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2012 was dead: to begin with.

Greetings to you, LiveJournal, with all your wretched glitchery, as we plod on with the opening of a new calendar year. I'm not sure about the rest of you, but since 30 December, I've had a heck of a time getting through to update. It speaks to my stubborn nature that, though I'm so often a lackluster poster and have recently not been writing much, the fact that LJ made it difficult to post only made me that much more determined to do so. My year in review -- f-locked, in case you were wondering -- was a slapdash affair simply because there was an opening of time when the site was running correctly so I just went ahead and posted whatever I had.

I don't make what you'd call real resolutions for this time of year. I think of very minor goals that I might set myself: some serious, many far less so. As illness has mangled memory in recent history, I've also taken to counting and cataloging events I'd just as soon remember. It comes in handy now and again, to refer back to such a log.

This year, instead of just crunching on the numbers and cranking out minor lists, I thought I'd write a brief account of any stand-out events at day's end. I'm sure there will be days when all I'll be able to write about will be, Sick. In bed. Not too bad. But nothing new. I might even be less verbose on such days. (Odd to think of me at a loss for words, isn't it?) Yet I feel just jotting down a quick note directly into my phone day by day may prove out as a good idea for me. The size of a text message might sum up my day for me. It's writing, even in such a micro form. This is the only real goal I've set myself for now. If I can stick to it for a bit, perhaps I'll contemplate other changes and observations.

I hope the holiday season was nice for one and all. I should very much like to get back into the habit of talking with you on a more regular basis. Taking suggestions for how that might be accomplished.

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Realism Imagined

My dreams are both vivid and mundane; in either case, I miss the days of sleeping and waking to speak of dinosaur laser robot wars. Go forth, I say to the cyborg stego, and burn the retinas out of the raptors! Or something.

I can see where someone like me has the capacity for somnolent flights of fancy. With an unapologetically overactive imagination and a day-to-day life lacking a lot of wish fulfillment, it would only make sense that my dreaming self would take advantage of the lessened encumbrance of my physical form. Asleep and in some other realm than this, I don't have to be sick or weak or even human. My capacity for insomnia makes the dreamscapes I might inhabit even more precious. I took a psychology course in dreams in college and it honestly helped me to understand waking dreams more and to pinpoint better where day residue bleeds into the tumbled chaos of the unconscious.

All of that being said, I am so fucking sick of my recent dreams... the ones that feel /so/ real that I'm disoriented when I wake up, uncertain whether any of it has happened, as I have to take more and more time coming back to reality, remembering what there is to remember.

I've had two teeth extracted on two separate occasions, nine days apart. That's been October for me. And this second one, right top back molar, was a difficult removal. At the beginning of the month, I had a less-than-ideal reaction to Percocet which I will try my damnedest to never, ever take again. I finally have Vicodin now and it's a sad state of my life that I was relieved to get it. I'm aware that all of that is having an impact on my dreaming self. Because it's having one hell of an impact on my waking self, that's for damned sure.

Under Percocet's sticky-fingered influence, I dozed off and woke convinced I'd done stuff to piss off my nearest and dearest. And then scrambled, still dazed, to make amends. Or at least to start to: it's not like I could get very far, mentally or physically. The less said about my state of mind that night, the better.

I've dreamt whole days. Some good, some bad. And I wake up and have to crowbar the fictional from the actual and it's just getting terribly frustrating. Piecing myself together after every period of sleep is exhausting in and of itself. But finding out that I didn't do something that I was so bloody sure, sixty seconds ago, that I had...? It's... I'm not even sure if there is a word that exists that can properly express the jumbled feelings and thoughts that accompany such disappointment. Even when I thought I'd done something bad, there's a scrap of disappointment attached as I let go of that dream. Because at least, if I believed the dream was real, I'd done /something./ Something would have happened. I would have done things and reacted to situations. And so on.

In the past two weeks, I have /not/ done any of the following: betrayed my friends, purchased the entire series of Psych on sale, planned two separate and very detailed vacations, gone over to my grandmother's house, publicly denounced bigotry, openly bullied a few of my neighbors, hosted a board game party, turned down the United States Navy when they showed up at my door with a proposal for me to work with PTSD sailors, asked a cute guy out, buckled down and began writing the novel that will one day be published. I thought I'd eaten meals that haven't been cooked, I thought I'd talked to people I haven't seen in years, and I thought I'd written a number of stories or tags that did not get written.

It all felt so real. Whether it was a big thing or just an average couple of days of writing and resting... whether it was something I'd like to have happen or something I'd just as soon avoid forever and ever amen... whether the events are immediately recognized as improbable at best or seem imminently possible...? It doesn't matter: whilst in the dream and for a brief time after waking, it all feels /real./ I spent a handful of confused seconds searching my bedroom for the Psych DVDs because I thought I could really get into that show and maybe finish it up before the new season starts (in the spring?) if I started from the beginning now. And then reality edged its way in and said, "Skip... you went to Target last week and they didn't have the discs. You never bought them. That was a dream." Oh. Right. (But I'm holding out hope I can snag them for a song on Black Friday or Cyber Monday or some sort of sale.)

I suppose the little things irritate me more than the big stuff, in terms of disappointment. Because it takes very little time for me to disavow extravagant vacation plans or book deals. Of course we're not going to Hawaii; I can't even afford to go to the dentist. Of course I'm not contractually obligated to write three novels; I can't finish a piece of fan fiction that was due a month ago.

But the little things, they pull at me. When I thought that most of the people I know were refusing to speak to me for some nebulous /something/ I'd done wrong, I'd panicked and eventually regrouped and went: wait. I'm a good friend. Hell, sometimes I'm a fucking great friend. They can't all be mad at me. But let me sleep and wake up after dreaming a fight with just one friend and it's harder for me to shake it off. I got disappointed when I dreamt I wrote a journal entry or a short story or an RP tag... and in a couple of cases, it took me longer than I'd care to admit to convince myself that no amount of dream realism made the entry, story, or tag real in the material world.

Even when I wish I wasn't, I'm anchored in reality. I'm tethered to the here and now. Awake, I know I don't have a date with a cute guy and that I haven't done much with my social life. When I'm feeling better, I could work to change that. I can write the things I dreamed I'd already written and I can write exceedingly more. I can hope about vacations and outings (though dream!me spends more money than actual!me would dare). I know what's real and what isn't... except in that span of time when I first wake up, anywhere between two seconds and two minutes, where I have to get over the desperate vividness of the dream and remind myself that it's just the next day and none of that has happened. The best dreams aren't real, haven't been real, and I'm just me trying to get through day-to-day life.

I suppose the flip-side is this: the worst nightmares aren't real, either.

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Finch/Reese Distance

Meme-ing from A to Z

Though this might be worded a bit oddly, I had time so here's a meme I got from katje0711.

A: Age? 30 29 for the second time.
B: Where I’m From? New Jersey and proud of it. I'm good-humored about it and see its flaws but I'm tired of Jersey jokes. They get old.
C: Where I Would Like To Live? There are a lot of locales I'd like to visit; there are many places I'd like to see. The United Kingdom is very, very high on that list. Yet the most honest answer to this question is to say I'd like to live closer to some friends. Or that they'd live closer to me. (Or that some sort of transporter would be invented.) I like the family that I've put together for myself but I get lonely.
D: Favourite Food? Soup.
E: Religion? It's complicated. No, really, it is.
F: Single/Taken? Single.
G: Favourite Book? I cannot possibly answer this without offending most or all of my decidedly large collection. I love you all, paperback and hardcover, fact and fiction, great words or great stories.
H: Eye Colour? Blue.
I: Birthday? 16 May
J: Favourite Movie? I have no flipping clue. First three that came to mind, right on the heels of each other: Clue, Indiana Jones & the Last Crusade, The Royal Tenenbaums. Ask tomorrow and you're likely to get a different answer.
K: Favourite Colour? Blue.
L: Favourite TV Show? Right now it's Suits. I also like Person of Interest, am still bitter about the cancellation of Alcatraz, and look forward to Blue Bloods starting up again, more than I'd thought I would. I like TV but if I was asked to give it up for any length of time, I'd survive happily. Without books, not so much.
M: Favourite Band/Singer? As with most 'favorites' questions, I have a few. Great Big Sea came to mind first, so I'll go with them.
N: Random Fact About Me? I use playing cards as book marks.
O: My Phobias? Beats me. I'm afraid of some stuff but I don't know if I have a specific phobia. And is it just me or did you guys think that maybe this meme should've had something to do with the alphabet letter prefacing each query?
P: Favourite Season? Autumn.
Q: Favourite Weather? I like listening to rain. I don't think I have a favorite weather pattern other than 'comfortable.'
R: Favourite Day Of The Week? Thursday.
S: Favourite Month? Um? Either May or September.
T: If I have any pets, if yes what are their names? Dog. Miniature Schnauzer. Five years old. Goes by Jonesy.
U: What’s my ringtone? "Self-Preservation Society" from the original version of The Italian Job. It's odd; it's obscure; I'll always know my phone is the one that's ringing.
V: Last movie I watched? I think it might've been Men in Black but I honestly cannot remember.
W: What the meaning of my name? Well, see, there was this really bad hurricane... Mom picked Katrina because she liked the sound of it; I believe it to be a Russian derivative of Catherine. My nickname, Skip, has a series of long stories behind it. ::shrug:: Didn't know if you meant username or not, oddly-phrased questionnaire.
X: Favourite Superhero? Favorite superhero might be Batman; favorite person with mutation or superpowers might be Magneto or Professor X (Charles Xavier). I'm not up to date on comic book funtimes. I was a fan of The Flash as a kid.
Y: Do I want to get married? I think if the right person came along, yes. This question grates on me because I sort of feel like it's expected that someone my age would be on their way to marriage and I'm clearly not. At least it's not an expectation my family puts on me.
Z: Do I want children, if yes how many? I'm not sure if I do or not. I think I'd like to have a son.

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