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Wednesday, March 18, 2015

idk wtf i did last summer

i wrote this June 20th, 2014. never finished it, because my experiences (after the point at which this narrative ends) overwhelmed me completely. even now i can barely believe any of it happened.

i think maybe it's a better post because of its abrupt ending.

i'm gonna summarize most of the journey here all at once, because honestly, separation of days becomes kinda silly when you travel piecemeal from -8 to +2, timezone-wise, without regular sleep. on my third flight, Chicago to Helsinki, the sun went down for like... two minutes, tops. who even knows. can anyone even?

overall it was great. my top regret is that i worried too much. people were helpful, 'sleeping' in LAX was about like i thought it would be (bearable), and even if i enumerated and valuated each and every frustration, their sum wouldn't outweigh the joy of a new experience.

if you want first-timer travel tips, by all means ask me. i'll include just this #1 tip on my blog post: hakuna matata. do be strategic and aware at all times; don't fret, stress, or gnaw at things that would be better handled with simple patience and mindfulness.

~     ~     ~

day 1
i have no idea how, but i slept so well on the last leg of the journey. landed in Helsinki around 8:45a, and immediately began my hunt for the Aspire Lounge. i'd purchased entry sing my iPhone during the flight, because it's a tad cheaper that way. still expensive but whatever; i needed that shower (which was an additional fee of €10), desperately. it's really a public service (me showering, not the lounge's shower).

wow. heavenly. you know those showers you take after a week or two of volunteering at a summer camp, or on short-term missions? yup. except this one was swankier than any shower i've ever had at home, dad's skill & creativity in the home improvement department notwithstanding. they even had recordings of forest birds playing. this wasn't your stall-at-the-gym shower. sliding frosted-glass door and fancy shampoos etc., lots of space (nice for those of us who move around a lot)... it was posh.

enough about the shower. i had a couple hours, so i took my time. the flight from there into Tallinn was my favourite, because of the scenery. it felt like Hollywood. unbedary.

"isaiah, this post needs more description."

agreed. i suck at that. so, i'll have Brandylion handle that action whenever he gets around to traveling the world. his personality type is perf for that type of thing.

the hostel (which was paid for by neither myself nor my friends here, strangely and awesomely) is possessed of a high quantity of swank as well. the sheets took some figuring out (i've always been a 4-pillow & two-blanket guy) but that's what you get for crossing half the world. the window is hinged at the bottom and opens only a couple inche- oops, centimeters, which scared me at first because i thought i'd broken it. if you ask for water (which you must, since drinking fountains are nowhere to be seen since Helsinki), they'll give you carbonated water instead of regular... unless you specifically ask for "still water."

oh, also: i checked my bank account to see if my direct deposit from work came in (which it does weekly). it did... plus an extra 40 hours' worth. total 80 hours. i e-mailed my boss immediately. no response yet... probably because it was 6a PST when i sent the e-mail, and she doesn't get in until around 8a. time really is relative! #science

i said earlier that Brandon rocks at describing things, and i do not. it's because i focus on feelings and impressions instead. my feelings so far: 1) i'm super hyped but i know that as soon as i get horizontal, my spirit will leave my body, probably for a minimum of five full sleep cycles; 2) nothing can bring me down, because i've been waiting for this trip for years, and working toward it actively for many months; and most importantly 3) i'm literally euphoric, because i have finally met & will spend many days with ghost.

you regular readers don't need any further explanation, i trust. but if you had questions i would love to answer them, especially in person.

right now i'm getting my crap organized and waiting for her to clock out. sunset's at 10:42p; the long-lived summer evening is in its infancy. i am almost too excited to be typing this right now. i don't actually know how words.

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

i am ----locked

no one is perfect, but you know what? we're not all equally wrong, either.

"*GASP* isai er james, are you suggesting that some people are right more often than others?"

no, i'm saying it outright: some people are right more often than others. we have two different terms for these people, depending on how well we understand them:

1. smart people who help us think through things
2. arrogant know-it-alls who need to admit they're ignorant and wrong

~     ~     ~

i walked into my office one afternoon to vent about a stupid inspector. i also had some questions about things he told me; i wanted to know if certain requirements were legitimate or not. i planned to entertain my co-workers with the story, then ask my serious questions.

Jennifer and Nico are awesome people. i bet their friends would be able to say a million good things about them. i can probably muster up several for each; but that's not the point of this post, and that part of my life is pretty much over now, and i'm not super emotional about it, so i'm'a skip the essays of praise for them.

i finished complaining about the inspector, with this sentence: "he looked at me with this expression of extreme patience, as if he were struggling to keep a neutral tone with some good-for-nothing asshole whose brain was only barely functioning."

Jennifer replied this way: "oh, you mean like you do to us all the time?"

this is my sincere opinion: my co-workers at RGS were pretty smart people. especially toward the end, as we weeded out the idiots, i really appreciated their brains. and other strengths. so, when they said something, especially work-related, i might disagree, but i did still listen and consider everything they said. i always had questions for them, even about my own work, even toward the end of my career there.

so, even though Jennifer really hurt my feelings with that comment, (she was smiling, so i knew she was teasing... but she was obviously not 100% joking, either), i still paused, looked down for a moment to decide on a non-hasty response, and then said to her, "okay... that's not the first time you've said something like that. do people really think i'm an arrogant know-it-all? do i really talk like that?"

Nico said, "you mean like you're doing right now?"

he had a huge smile on his face. he and Jennifer were obviously both on the verge of laughter.

i was on the verge of shouting, or tearing up, or maybe both. so i closed my eyes and took a deep breath, and then said, "...okay. i guess we can talk tomorrow." then i walked out.

"awww come on, isaiah.. wait! come back!" Nico actually followed me in to my own office. i was picking up my things. "tell me how the inspection went. i wanna hear what happened."

"tomorrow," i said. then i walked out to punch my card.

when i came back in, Nico begged me again. he sounded apologetic.

"i'm clocked out," i said, and then left the building and drove home.

~     ~     ~

i tell this story to illustrate something i'm very sensitive about.

all my life, i have been confident in my opinions. why? because i work really hard to make sure they're not fucking stupid. i sift through all my experiences; i ask friends (and non-friends!) about their own experiences. every time i have a new experience related to one of my theories or ideas, i consciously add it to my collection and consider whether it changes anything. 

and when someone disagrees with me, i ask them this question (unless i have a better, more specific one): "why do you believe that?"

i don't ask this to challenge them, as if i wanted them to just back down. i want to learn. everywhere i go i want to understand things better. i actually feel some shame and/or guilt most days because i know i could be using my free time to build a new skill, or improve an old one. if i experience something that ruins one of my favorite ideas about how the world works, i pout and sulk and mope... but i change my mind.

if someone thinks i'm arrogant and over-confident, okay; they probably don't know me very well. or, they know me well but they got the wrong impression somehow. or, maybe they feel inferior to me, and that makes them resent me a little bit. or maybe they're sore because i proved them wrong one time. i know that feeling; i've had that experience before.

but if i ask someone, vulnerably, "do i really seem _____ ?" and they respond with more teasing, i'm going to shut down. toying with someone who's being genuinely vulnerable with you, especially teasing them about the thing they're sensitive about, is one of the best of the many quick & effortless ways to seriously damage a relationship.

i often challenge someone to prove me wrong. i actually really enjoy that kind of debate, the kind of 'argument' that concerns the manipulation of concepts external to us (not the malicious kind). i enjoy logic puzzles, and life, apart from our emotional attachment and vulnerability to it, is the biggest logic puzzle there is.

and i've had friends who have enjoyed it with me: Andrew, Sarah, Ecclesia, Paul, Jesse Segrist, Brandon, Caleb, Shawn, Jerad, Stephanie, Taylor, Alexa, others. and the list of people who have told me that i've challenged them (in a good way) to think differently, and that i've really helped them to figure out the complexities of life, is almost as long.

but i've also had friends who hated 'discussing' things with me: Bonnie, Heather, Danny, Jesse Micu (don't make that face at your screen; we've had at least as many fighty arguments as debatey ones), my mom, Lianne, and others.

but i have this theory. say, hypothetically, that someone is not good at explaining things to me. maybe they're not so confident in their own language skills, and they sense that i am very confident in mine... and if, say, this person is the type who prefers to come to a conclusion sooner rather than later... and say they were the type to rely on feelings at least as often as they relied on reasonings. aaaand say they were the type to get stressed about a debate if it lasted longer than 5 minutes. (and, let's say that their stress was 100% justified.)

and say i wasn't on perfectly good terms, or even clear terms, with this person.
but say that i used to be on awesome terms with this person

say we used to have trust, and now have broken trust.

would i need to change my argument style? or would that not change anything? wouldn't it be better to nourish the friendship back to health, rather than try to iron out every wrinkle? even the more personal and harmful disagreements would benefit greatly from more trust.

i think understanding might be the key to agreeing and disagreeing well.
but i think trust might be the key to understanding.


throughout my life, i've been accidentally impressing people with my skills and talents.

"you're so arrogant, geez."

let me finish. the way i've been accidentally impressing people with my skills and talents, is by never doing anything i'm not good at, when someone might see me.


yeah. maybe shut up and let me finish the post. please and thank-you. so i've done some musicky things, talked about jesusy things, climbed some stuff, jumped over some stuff, and written some stuff.

but i've never played a game with other people, without first studying how it works. this is my policy because for most of my life, i hated failing in front of anyone. even now it makes me a little uncomfortable to try anything new with someone watching, especially if that person's good at it, and double-especially if i know that i could be better at it with practice.

i don't so much care about impressing others. i just hate unimpressing them; i hate it when people jump to conclusions about me, and when i fail in public, people generally conclude i'm incapable of succeeding.

"isaiah, this is obviously not your thing." - everyone who ever saw me fail the first time i tried something

i hate that. and in a broader sense, i hate it when anyone jumps to any conclusion about anyone based on a single piece of data. a single datum. whatever. i despise that in people; i want to scream in the faces of people who have a single experience, and then decide they're figured it all out forever. some of them aren't even aware that they're doing it, which (strangely) makes me even angrier!!!

"isaiah, you're amazing! you should do this for a living!" - people, occasionally, when they see me succeed one time at something that definitely can't be monetized

this one gets to me almost as much. i say almost because it feels good to be complimented... but i hate feeling good when complimented undeservingly. and i hate it when people dumb at me; i hate it when people don't think through things.

i hate it when people don't question their own thoughts.

on the flip-side: everyone who carefully, logically, dutifully questions and answers lor own thoughts, fucking deserves to be confident in their opinions. and that will be my last post for today. i hope.

the myth of knowledge

when i was young, i enjoyed doing puzzles like these. lots of other puzzle types as well, of course, but these were my favorite.

nowadays we have iphones and personal computers and video game consoles, which offer a higher degree of complexity because they can combine puzzle types and hide everything behind graphical interfaces which may actually obfuscate the actual puzzles (making them far more difficult by virtue of how dynamic they are). but if i could only solve one kind of puzzle for the rest of my life, i'd choose this kind.

i had a natural affinity for them, and after doing them so many times, i became extra good at not only deductive but inductive reasoning. i believe intuition plays as much a part of puzzle-solving as straightforward computation does. gut instinct combined with an affinity for logic (in the philosophical sense of a valid argument, for example) is a killer combo.

i have that killer combo.

"wow, isaiah, you're arrogant and prideful."

prideful people think too highly of themselves. i'm not prideful about my ability to reason; i'm confident. the difference between prideful and confident, is that the confident people can prove they're right, while the prideful people can't even prove that to themselves.

"saying you can prove you're right is even more prideful."

not if i actually can prove it.

~     ~     ~

there are lots of traits i lack, to varying degrees. it takes fifty times as much effort for me to be patient with someone, as it takes the average person (for example). but reasoning isn't one of my weaknesses.

intellectual confidence is also not a weakness for me. this isn't just because i've proven myself to myself (and others) many times; it also has a practical purpose. i choose to be confident in my thoughts because it keeps me from having one of the traits i despise the most in the world: indecisiveness.

people who cannot make simple decisions quickly and confidently, frustrate me. people who are uncomfortable picking something at random because they're afraid are difficult for me to be around. should we take time to make decisions carefully? yes... but not because of fear. and we should have confidence in ourselves just enough to win us opportunities to prove that our confidence is either justified or not. or i could say it this way: we should be courageous in trying things out, so that we can discover whether we're good at them or not.

i'm good at figuring out whether something is logically sound or not.

"just because your opinion makes sense to you doesn't mean it's correct."

yes, but until it stops making sense, or until something else makes more sense, i don't really have any reason to change my opinion.

"but you should be open to changing it, and when you discover that it's wrong, admit it."

i mostly am, and i mostly do. if i'm closed off to something, it probably has nothing to do with reason or even confidence; it probably has to do with an emotional sensitivity. for example, if you try to explain that i'm wrong about the reasons people abandon each other, i'll probably say "oh, really? please, enlighten me." my tone will be a little sarcastic not because i think you have nothing to teach me, but instead because my experiences in that area have wounded me.

the myth of knowledge is that people think they can know things. and we can, of course... but, logically, we can't know whether what we think we know is true or not. we can believe it's true, but we can't know that it is.

this means that even when people "know" something, they can be proven wrong. and of course to "prove" something simply means to convince someone, because evidence never forces anyone to do anything... and even if we convinced every person in the world to believe something, that wouldn't make them right.

what this all means, is that we've got six options:

  1. believe something without good, strong reasons
  2. believe something with good, strong reasons
  3. disbelieve something without good, strong reasons
  4. disbelieve something with good, strong reasons
  5. remain undecided without good reasons
  6. remain undecided for good reasons

i like picking on Christianity lately because i'm bitter about the way it mostly raised me not to think for myself, so let's use them as the example. 
  • Christians who go with option 1, make up the rank-and-file of the church. their brains are fine; some of them rock. but in the area of spirituality, they are taught to "know that they know that they know," and leave it at that. most of my Christian friends would make grossed-out faces at this, because it's true: the church isn't raising a bunch of scientists. it's raising believers. i would go so far as to call them "just-because believers."
  • Christians who go with option 2, end up either teaching other people (whether in a formal capacity or not) or skipping down to number 4.
  • Christians who go with option 3 generally leave the church just because they're "not feelin' it."
  • these peeps leave the church with or without hatred, but always with a sort of anti-testimony, whereby they handily convince others that they are not re-convincible regarding Jesusy things. they are the ones capable of clearly explaining (often in a way that even believers understand) why they have made the choices they've made.
  • let's give the Christianity thing a break for a moment. these number 5 people are the timid, the worrisome, the lost. and perhaps each of us is one of these, at times. but there are those who are these for a majority of their lives. they get hungry but don't eat because they aren't sure what they're hungry for, or aren't willing to eat something unhealthy but aren't willing to brave the unpleasantry of a healthy food either. they ask their friends for help in choosing something, but find reasons to reject every suggestion... because if they take advice then they'll have to make a choice, and that's the most fearful thing ever.
  • at the pragmatic extreme, these people figure out which things are necessary for daily living, and forget about the rest. i'm somewhat in this category regarding politics: i don't have opinions about specific legislation because it doesn't actually matter to me personally. i don't vote for people or laws or anything else, in any official sense.

that concludes today's educational (i hope) rant. but, today's overall ranting is not done.

Monday, March 16, 2015

what is the island?

usually i check a post for errors. is the grammar adequate? should i have used fewer commas? do the paragraphs flow neatly? even more importantly: do i really believe the stuff i wrote? is it truly, unequivocally me that's now immortalized and published for all [five of you] to see?

but not tomorrow. tomorrow i'll come back that Dead Sea post, read through it, and say this, almost word for word, in my head: "yes. jepp... mm-hm. that is exactly what i needed to post." technicality and accuracy and sincerity will be worth about as much to me as a puddle of half-digested food suspended in fresh bile... and here it will sit, in what's now the Dead Sea, serving no further purpose except to mark the place in time where, perhaps, i finally re-learned how to blog for myself again, without regard for others, without concern for the response that others or that even i myself might have.

there are so many other things i want to vent about: California road trip plans. closeness. divided emotional resources. friendships and how they work (or don't work). the six hundred and twenty-four different kinds of attraction, most of which are actually afflictions. what malice is, and how it hides itself from its host. Danica. actually i could probably stand to complain about my own blog some more, too.

but i don't have the energy. and frankly, i really need to stop thinking about all of this. bottling things up can be really useful, maybe even the right thing to do, as long as it's done at the right time, and never for too long, and if you open the bottle the right way, in the right direction. yeah... i'll keep telling myself this. no, seriously: i'm going to keep telling myself this until i believe it fully.

this is my new goal: to turn the process of bottling things up, into an art form and a practical skill that i can employ whenever needed. with all of the opportunities i have to practice, there's really no excuse for lack of noticeable improvement on a daily basis.

and this blog, while it may be lost now, is going to help me find not only success, but the justification for trying in the first place.

#bogo #twofer #internalization

the Dead Sea scroll buttons

vomiting is one of the worst experiences i can have. for some reason it ranks as more unpleasant than most other physical sensations, for me. but, because i sometimes need to do it, it's the perfect analogy for tonight. i want to blog right now, about as much as i ever want to vomit. and i need to blog right now about as much as i ever need to vomit.

~     ~     ~

one person has treated me worse than you have.

that monday night when i stupidly, stupidly accompanied everyone to dinner... i think no one will ever really get what that was like for me. i think i could describe it perfectly to the friends who understand me the most and listen to me the best, and they still wouldn't really understand. so i'm not going to try explaining it here. i'm just going to say this: i have never felt more mistreated by you, than i did that evening. i've never felt more malice, more contempt, more self-satisfied hostility, from you, than i did that evening.

i would talk it out with you, but you would deny everything i said about you, and accuse me of being the over-sensitive annoying asshole who ruined things. i would speak to you about it, except that you don't really listen to me anymore. oh, you let me speak... but that's only about 10% of what listening is. i can't even remember the last time i felt listened to by you. i guess it was 2014 sometime.

anyway, conversation isn't an option... which just leaves venting.

and that's really what this post is about. it isn't about you and me, or any specific event. it's about what this blog has become. it's the Dead Sea: an endorheic basin.

"what's that?"

it's a closed drainage basin that lets water in, but gets rid of it only through evaporation. in other words, nothing flows out, and since only the water content evaporates, everything else just builds up there. all the junk accumulates until you can almost "walk on water."

that's what this blog is, lately. the last stop in the emotional water cycle, and because i don't have the other kinds of outlets i need, this dies, even as it continues to grow. where there was once a diverse biome of understanding and introspection, now there's just post after post about pain & needs & shit & everything i tried to nourish into health and joy getting fucked up instead.

is that better than bottling it all? yes. does that make it a good thing? no.

one person has treated me worse than you have: my ex-wife. she's the only person above you, holding onto the coveted title. if you want to challenge for the record, well, something tells me you will have more opportunities in the future.

i would vomit every day, every hour every day, for a month, to keep that from happening... but, the force of my will has about as much effect on the world as anyone else's. don't get me wrong, i have plans to prevent stuff like that from happening again, and i learn and grow a little each time. but i also know better than to have positive expectations.

"you mean high expectations?"

no. positive expectations.

i know better now.