June 4th, 2011

#2728: Where am I today?

I don't know. 1-10, I feel like a 2 or 3; but when I think about it I feel more like a 5. A general malaise of spirit, inchoate, without focus. Not "bad", just "not-good".

It's just enough to put me into "ennui" territory, where I don't feel like doing much of anything because nothing sounds interesting. Or maybe I'm just bored with it all, which is odd considering that I just spent two weeks in a place where all I could do was eat, read, or sleep. (Oh, I could watch daytime TV which is the very definition of "vapid", or I could socialize with a bunch of people with whom I have NOTHING in common, or....)

Well, perhaps my two-week vacation from intellectual stimulation wasn't enough to totally inure me to the feelings of "I've done all this before" that I get from various activities. And it's too damn hot outside to do anything outdoors that's more strenuous than walking.

* * *

The Boy Scouts are a hate group because they exclude gays, but gay groups that exclude those who "aren't gay enough" are simply exercising their civil rights.

...

Same-old, same-old.

* * *

Circumscision ban literature is anti-semitic.

* * *

This ought to be entertaining. Let George Lucas make his Star Wars TV series and further lay waste to the promise of the universe he created. It'll end up being a train wreck of awesome proportions.

People who say "George Lucas raped my childhood!" are overreacting, IMHO, unless they devoted their entire lives to Star Wars when they were young. Look: in 1977-1978 I was all over that shit, because at the time Star Wars was a groundbreaking film. Nothing like it had ever been done before and it captured the imagination.

Prior to SW, no one had done an SF film that way. Special effects were an afterthought, something shoehorned into the budget between props and costumes. No one tried to create a believable world out of whole cloth; the last time it had been tried was with Forbidden Planet in the 1950s, and that was done entirely on a sound stage.

SW actually took us to the places in which it was set. We were on Tattooine to see the beginnings of Luke's adventures. "Tattooine" was in Tunisia, and those were the only location shoots in the movie--everything else was shot on a sound stage--but it was done so well that it made the other fake environments feel real.

The special effects set it apart from all prior SF movies. They spent a lot of money on the effects, in some case inventing new techniques; the result was effects shots that looked like they went into space, just hung a camera on a convenient asteroid, and filmed reality--the ships were not obvious models and the motions were fluid and realistic.

When I was 10, I was a dedicated Star Wars freak. By the time Empire Strikes Back came out, I had moved on to real science fiction (and was, in fact, writing my own) and the SW franchise was just really frickin' cool movies to me.

So when people say--in response to the awful dreck that comprises eps 1-3 of the franchise--that "George Lucas raped my childhood!" I just sigh and shake my head. All George Lucas did was to take a movie series with incredible promise and tack on three of the worst hack job movies in motion picture history. They haven't ruined eps 4-6 by existing.

George Lucas' big crime is to keep fucking with those movies. Adding special effects to them didn't bother me; in the 1970s he'd had a specific vision for SW and hadn't been able to do it because the technology simply did not exist. He could have made the movie he wanted for about sixty million dollars in 1975 money, but SW was already a hideously expensive movie at $6 million--studios were not used to laying out that kind of money to make any movie unless it was chock-full of known stars. In 1975 George Lucas was a relative nobody and all his actors were unknowns. He had to cut corners.

But when he had the opportunity to insert those elements, he got carried away and changed things that should have been left unchanged. Greedo shooting first. Anakin looking like Hayden Christiansen instead of whoever-it-was at the end of Jedi. Little things--but little things that matter, little things that make the characters more realistic.

Han shooting first made him a real scoundrel. Han wasn't a good guy at the beginning of his story; he was a criminal and he operated in some rough company. WTF, he was working for Jabba the freakin' Hutt. By the time we get to Return of the Jedi, Han's volunteering to help the Rebel effort and has even come to lead a very risky mission to blow up the shield generator protecting the Death Star.

That character growth--the positive, real change, making him a dynamic and interesting character--has been eradicated by having Greedo shoot first. Instead of Han Solo starting out bad and turning good, now he's a pirate with a heart of gold. It's a little thing, but it's kind of not.

In order for the Hayden Christiansen thing to make sense, Ben Kenobi should have looked young, and Yoda, and whoever else did the "I died but became more powerful than you could possibly imagine" thing. They should have at least slapped some makeup on old Hayden to make him look older. WTF.

...but all of this is just stupid editing hackery made possible by computers. None of it rises to the "George Lucas raped my childhood" level.

And as for the possible TV series? If it ever happens, it'll be God-awful.

Kind of like Star Trek: The Next Generation. Gene Roddenberry was awesome back in the '60s and '70s. But by the time we got to the late 1980s, he'd lost whatever it was that he'd had two decades earlier, because the pilot for ST:TNG was awful.

Same reason eps 1-3 of SW sucked, too: there was no one second-guessing him. Whatever he wanted to do, he could do, and no one had the power to tell him, "Gene, this is shit!"

The first season of ST:TNG wandered back and forth between "acceptable" and "Jesus Christ!" But in 1987 it was the only SF TV show around, and it was Star Trek! So it somehow struggled past that. (If something similar were to happen now, it wouldn't make it six weeks.)

The second half of the first season was immeasurably better than the first half, and the second season was still better. The best thing that ever happened to that series was when Gene Roddenberry stopped contributing to it. It's a crying shame that he had to die, but if he had just written a couple eps and then stayed away from it the effect would have been the same. "Gene, what do you think of this?" "I don't care; I'm retired. Just send me my frickin' royalty check."

Something big like Star Trek, you have a legion of fans to keep the writers, producers, and directors honest. You can sit back and rake in the royalties and let others do the work.

* * *

Last night, after I got into bed, I started worrying: what if I deliberately hurt myself again? What if I do someting worse? I don't want to! I don't want to end up back in the hospital!

Then I realized I was having a panic attack, took Xanax, and slept like a stone.

*sigh*

So, of course, part of my utter lack of motivation is the after-effects of the Xanax. I still feel sleepy.

The more I think about it, the more I want to go ahead and have my RX reviewed by a shrink. The therapist, L., suggested it, and the social worker at Will County Health (who I saw Wednesday) said that was the one thing she could arrange for me, if I wanted it. It might not hurt to do that--maybe modify the regime and see how I do.

Psych medication is a finicky thing to get right, and it's nothing short of a miracle that my MD in Iowa hit the bullseye with the Paxil. I've done very, very well on that stuff, but I've been on it long enough that it may be time for a change.

* * *

Someone did a translation of the Kaze no Stigma light novel. It's not a very good one; the writing is wooden. Oh well.

#2729: So, what happened?

Having run out of motivation this afternoon, I went to bed, and I slept until 8:30.

We had a monsoon come through as I was laying down, and it knocked out the power for a while, but having spent two weeks in a place which was less than ideal for sleeping I was able to go right back to sleep. The fans shutting off woke me up; I thought, "Hmm, power's out," shut off the computer and the UPS for the modem and router, and then went right back to sleep. Before my stay in that exclusive resort, I wouldn't have been able to do that.

Anyway the power was out for a couple hours and I slept right through it; when the power came on, it woke me up, briefly, but I went right back to sleep; and when it cut out for a bit, that woke me up, too, but again I went back to sleep.

So I got up at 8:30, fed the cats, and hied myself to KFC for chicken; and when I was on the way home I discovered that the power in the town core is still out--Main Street was largely dark--and the traffic light was flashing red rather than functioning normally.

Got home, logged on to WoW, and nibbled at my dinner as I played. I logged onto the vent server so I could listen to people talking.

Look: I was feeling pretty down. (4-6 range.) Not up on the surface; on the surface I felt 2-3, but in my gut, 4-6. It was kind of weird.

...so I ran old Ormus around farming materials for Alchemy while listening to the raid vent channel. (Yesterday--or was it Thursday?--I dropped skinning and took up alchemy just because I wanted to try something different.) I got his alchemy skill to 185 this evening before I decided it's close to bedtime.

You know what? It helped. I'm a solid 2 all around now. That's cool.

* * *

So, what happened to me that made me so depressed that I cut myself?

The therapist, L., put it in perspective for me when she lay her hands on her notes and told me, "This is a lot of loss!"

When I think about it, she's right; let's have a look:
2001: lost my job and career
2003: lost my girlfriend, my home, my job
2004: lost my friends
2007: lost my dad, my first fiancee
2009: lost an aunt, my second fiancee, my job
2010: lost my mom
2011: lost my marbles
Okay, that last one is a wisecrack, but you get the idea.

So why did the prospect of getting a good job cause a breakdown? Because I was faced with the prospect of losing my childhood home. That loss--atop all the other losses I've faced in the last 10 years--was the straw that broke the camel's back.

And it's not just loss that's the problem, though it was a big part of it; the other part was all the stress that I suddenly found myself under. It was too much for me to handle--all the change and the demands on me--and I cracked under the strain.

Where are the gains to offset those losses? There is only one: I have a new and very good friend in Og. Otherwise it's been a steady attrition all along, a steady erosion of everything I value. And that is why I cracked when faced with having to move to Rantoul.

It's been really, really hard--harder than I thought, harder than I even let on to myself much less anyone else.

When I told Mom about my first fiancee breaking up with me, her response was a tearful, "It's not fair!" And she greeted subsequent reverals the same way--this from the woman who invariably told me "Life isn't fair!" when I, as a child, hauled out the "it's not fair!" schtick.

...she also told me, a lot of the time, that I had been really, really unlucky. At the time, I just thought it was "mom talk"--my Mom being a mom--but with L.'s fresh perspective I'm re-thinking that position: I have been spectacularly unlucky.

I've tried to put a good face on it by reminding myself that I was fortunate to be born in and live in the US, that I have it good compared to a lot of people in the world, or even in the United States; but if you compare my situation with other people in my demographic (white suburban well-educated middle-aged male) I suddenly appear highly unfortunate. I don't have a significant other, I don't have children, I don't have a career, I don't have a home of my own....

At some point in thinking this through it begins to seem obvious that my being depressed--rather than being a form of mental illness--is just a sane and logical reaction to my situation.

When you try and try and try, and get slapped down every time, WTF--it would be insane not to get fed up with that shit. Wouldn't it? Sooner or later, if it keeps happening every time?

*sigh*

I'm going to have to discuss this with L. It's an interesting thought.

* * *

My "homework" from Friday's afternoon session is to think about how I feel about submitting Tales from the Rufus to potential publishers.

It doesn't represent a lot of money--perhaps $50 per month at the most--but it does mean publication and tiny bit of prestige and ego-boost, both of which I could use.

What if KoDT were to reject it? I could always try Dragon, I suppose. I lose nothing by shopping it around to various fantasy publications and one of them is bound to buy it.

I guess I just did my homework.

* * *

Anyway, I want to go to church in the morning, and I'll have to shave and shower before I do, and it's almost midnight. I have to get up at 8:30 to get there by 9, so I'd better hit the hay.

After church I'm thinking about a trip to Harbor Freight....