Separate names with a comma.
Where we left off, I was working hard to figure out Pan's appearance. He went through a number of iterations. From the start he was a faun, of course, because he's based on the god Pan. His face I pretty quickly decided would be based on Grant Gustin, because I had been watching The Flash a lot. Other details evolved from there. The easiest one is that he wears sort of a white "skirt" thing and has spiked up hair. Other details that sometimes fall through the cracks when I visualize him: he's pretty buff and he wears a spiked collar. Both of those happened by chance; they'd come up in the visualizations and we would decide to keep them.
For a little while I did try to "force" him, by which I mean imagining him standing in front of me rather than the forest environment he "lives" in in my head. I gave up on that pretty quickly. In the early days, Pan would also go to "sleep" earlier than me, which I think was because I was sort of nervous about the idea of never having my thoughts to myself again. Eventually that ended too, as things became more solid.
Once the basics were figured out, it still didn't seem like Pan was independent enough from me to be called a tulpa. So, I called him a proto-tulpa. We've had a lot of issues with independence. Sometimes it seems like he's just acting contrary, disagreeing with me on everything. But other times, it seemed like he was being too agreeable, and that felt wrong too. It's a delicate balance. But after quite a while, we eventually decided that we were in a good enough spot for us to call him a tulpa. We've even reached the point where he's more willing to talk on the forum. In the past he accused me of attention seeking.
Moving on, one day on the bus, Pan started to contemplate his connection with Big Pan. He recognizes that I made him up and that he isn't a god, but he believes that since he was created based on the god, by someone who is similar to the god's followers, he was a minor representation. I was cool with that too, and now we kind of occasionally put him in the shoes of big Pan.
The latest update is pretty recent. I've been pretty much obsessed with Hamilton since I saw it back in November, and I've been listening to it non-stop. Pan is really annoyed about it. It isn't that he doesn't like it, he's just tired of it. So we made a bargain: as long as I don't listen to it at work, he'll start going to "sleep" early again. But he's not really sleeping, so sometimes I just end up talking to him anyway.
Like most things in my life, it seems, Pan is not a typical tulpa. But things have been going well, and he's a permanent part of my life. All told, I'm glad to have him around. He helps me stay focused sometimes. But yeah, having an hour or two to myself is nice too.
Let's talk about something that isn't quite me, for a change. Let's talk about my tulpa, Pan. It's been an interesting road for us so far.
To begin, for those who don't know, Pan is sort of based on the Greek God of the same name. We call him a "construct aspect" which is a fancy term for a partial manifestation of a God made by a person. In other words, he's not the god, he's a representation of the god that I made in my head. So he doesn't look like the classical image of Pan, his personality differs in many ways, and he recognized the god as a semi-separate entity. "Big Pan" is what we call the god. Appearance-wise, he basically looks like a faun version of Barry Allen, as portrayed by Grant Gustin in "The Flash." He's fairy buff, and wears a white skirt-like thing and a spiked collar. I'm not sure why, other than because, in his words, it's cool.
Maybe you're a tulpa-haver as well ("neither of us likes to say "tulpamancer") and you're thinking that some of this doesn't sound quite right. And that's because Pan isn't exactly a typical tulpa. I learned about the idea of tulpas (tulpae?) On this very site, and after a while, I decided it might be something to consider. I already occasionally have hypothetical conversations with characters in my head, so I figured it wouldn't be too big a stretch. But, I'm impatient, and I have a short attention span, so despite the advice all of you gave me about it, I sort of went in half cocked.
One night (or maybe morning?) I decided, let's give this a try. I didn't think it would really lead to anything. So I thought up the last character I had made up a hypothetical conversation with, and that was the god Pan. So I started talking to him again. And there he was. So we talked about the idea, and I began the process. The main thing at that point was figuring out what he looked like, and trying to figure out what I could do to continue the process. He kept telling me not to worry about him. But as you may have noticed, not worrying isn't really something I'm capable of.
I'm going to have to leave it there for now, but I'll add the rest soon.
Returning to the forum. Getting TAF from Lego Dimensions. Working on the second version of the story inspired by my few potential past life memories. They all happened around the same time, and likely influenced each other. But they've got me thinking again about how not right my life is. Don't get me wrong, as human lives go it's pretty good. It's just that it doesn't feel like what I was meant for.
Pan and I were talking, as I wrote that last paragraph, and he noted that I probably wouldn't want to move from my life now to what I imagine a fauntaur life would be. And it's true, I would miss video games and the Internet and stuff. But that's only because I've always lived in this world, at least in this life. So no, I don't want a total switch when I think about it. But my feelings are telling me that I'm yearning for it anyway, yearning for the life when I was a fauntaur. As I discussed before, I think TAF and TUF are, at least in part, from this yearning. It's almost overwhelming. That's really the only reason this post exists; for me to explore this feeling. It's all that much worse knowing that I can never do what I would need to do in order to end this feeling permanently. I just need to let it go by itself.
My past few blog posts have mentioned the self discovery process to some degree, but they were also about the question of whether/when I would return to the forums. Now that I've done that, it's back to normal. Prepare for a classic Gryff blog post, as I verbally wander around what's on my mind with regard to my kin identity and related things.
Right off the bat, the Annoying Feeling (TAF) is back. It's been awhile since I've mentioned this, so let me explain. TAF is just like TUF (as defined in my signature) but a milder version of it. It's going to be tough to explain the cause of it this time, so please bare with me. So there's this video game I've been playing a lot lately called Lego Dimensions. It's a Lego game, of course, and it uses a toys to life system. But what really makes it awesome is that it includes so many different media franchises that you won't be able to count all of them. These include the likes of DC Comics, Lord of the Rings, Sonic the Hedgehog, Portal, Doctor Who, and The Simpsons to name just a few. The one relevant to this story, though, is Midway. There's a pack you can buy that unlocks a level based on classic Midway arcade games, along with a playable character and vehicles to match. The key thing here is the playable character, called Gamer Kid, and the level itself.
Gamer Kid looks a fair bit like me, as much as a Lego figure can; it's pretty much just the hair color that's different. He even dresses like me and talks like me. This, combined with his powers and abilities in the game, makes him a perfect analog for Cyboy, a character I've been using in stories for the past 7 years or so and who is partially based on myself. As such, I had to pick him up and play his level. The level basically has Gamer Kid walking past an arcade, when a bunch of characters from classic Midway arcade games come bursting out (Paperboy, Defender, Robotron, Gauntlet, etc.) He has to go into the arcade, solve puzzles to fight off the characters, and play their games to bring them back. Basically it's a typical Lego game level, with some classic arcade games thrown in
In the couple of days since I played that level, I started feeling TAF in relation to Gamer Kid. I figured it was related to my bizarre “regular” jealousy of fictional characters, as opposed to the more common kin-related jealousy of fictional characters. I've talked a lot about the latter here, but not the former. For someone who already deals with jealousy of fictional characters in kin-related terms, it almost makes sense that I would be jealous of a character I very much relate to going on adventures and such. Hey, I said it ALMOST makes sense. So I thought it was that. Then I remembered the end of the level.
At the end of the level, to finally bring all the characters back, you have to play my favorite classic Midway arcade game, Rampage. You might already see where this is going, especially because I've talked about Rampage here before. But it's not just that. When he goes to play the game, Gamer Kid suddenly out of nowhere transforms into George, the giant gorilla from Rampage. He clearly doesn't expect or understand this. You might even say that it was...forced upon him. You get what I mean, right? And just to add another layer, when he changes back afterwards, he turns around to see a lot of damage done to the nearby buildings. This might have been from the other characters running around, but it also might have been what Gamer Kid was doing as George while the player is playing Rampage. It's not clear from the cutscene. Take a look at the very end of this video and see for yourself:
So now we have a character I identify with, forced transformation, and destructive rage. These are three ingredients that tend to bring on TAF at best. Now don't get me wrong, TAF is not nearly as bad as TUF. TAF wears off quickly (it pretty much has already) and is only barely distracting. So I'm fine. But it's interesting, because this is the first time in a while that I've felt either of them, and it's right after I rejoined the forums. Coincidence? Mental influence? No idea. It sure did take me by surprise, though. It's not like Gamer Kid is transformed by any of the other games.
Before I move on to the next topic, I want to say that despite a few gameplay issues, Lego Dimensions is an awesome game. I got it when it was on sale for $20 and I'm glad I did. If you ever wanted to see Finn (from Adventure Time) riding on the back of a Dalek (from Doctor Who) fighting the Joker (from Batman) in Springfield (from the Simpsons), this is the game for you. I recommend grabbing it now while it's on sale pretty much everywhere.
Anyway, on more relative topics, Pan. For people unfamiliar with him,I don't mean the Greek God, but my tulpa based partially on him. He's basically the Greek God without being a God and with the face of Grant Gustin, because I needed him to have a face I'd remember, and I had been watching The Flash a lot when I started with him. I no longer call him a proto-tulpa; he's advanced to full tulpa status, albeit still with not too much development. That's my fault. But regardless, we've made a lot of progress, and I'm comfortable calling him a tulpa now. Our relationship is really starting to develop. He's really been getting ornery about how much I listen to Hamilton, but other than that things are going ok.
One last note. After GenCon this year, I mentioned writing a sequel and/or alternate version of my story “The Demon’s Crown.” I want to get back to that, but I want to change it around a little bit. In the alternate version, the character Griff (that's Griff with an I, not a Y) is transformed into a goat by the God he angers, and travels to the land of demons for help. It should be interesting if I ever get to it.
That's all I've got to say. I'm out of work early today; maybe it's a good time to work on that story...
I just got a new job, the election is over, and things in my life are calming down. So this seems like a good time for me to make my return to the site. But like I said in my comment on my last post, the things that caused me to leave in the first place haven't gone away. To that end there are a few things I need to get off my chest before I decide whether I want to come back fully. And I'll give you fair warning: this time I AM talking about politics. But I'm not aiming this at anyone in particular; these are just some things I need people to understand.
First: some things are facts, and some things are fiction. There is no mystery to this, and it isn't a matter of debate or opinion. I didn't realize this was confusing to some people, but now that I know better, I will do my best to clarify. Facts are things that are actually true, and with a little bit of research it's usually very easy to tell what's true and what isn't. Only idiots believe everything they hear, and I don't think any of you are idiots, but I do know that a few people said idiotic things.
Second: It is a FACT that Donald Trump is supported by neo-Nazis and other terrible people. And I'm not just talking about the people who have simply chosen to support him, despite the fact that he has not rejected these people, and that is terrible for a "president" to do. I'm also talking about some of the people he has brought on to help him. The president is supposed to support everyone in the country, and that means turning away bigots, not welcoming them. So tell me, do you still think I should "stop whining" about equal rights?
Third: It is a fact Trump's election itself is a result of bigotry enacted by the Republican party. This election, several locations that previously had their election policies monitored because of a history of discrimination were left to do what ever they wished. And what a coincidence, most of them severely limited early voting and had much fewer polling places than in the past. Besides simple common sense, there are peer reviewed scientific studies showing that these changes, along with other laws meant to limit voting, make it much harder for minorities to vote. This is also besides the fact that Trump specifically asked his supporters to harrass people at polling places.
Fourth: Donald Trump is quite friendly with Vladimir Putin, and explicitly supported Putin's attempts to influence the election. Look at how LGBT individuals are treated in Russia and, again, tell me if I should still "stop whining."
Fifth and the most important: There are certain people on this site that I said I lost all respect for, and that hasn't changed. I'm not going to name individuals here; that's not the point of this. The point is to make things clear. I absolutely do not forgive anyone for what they said to me or to others. People said some terrible things that made me feel far from safe, which is why I left the site in the first place. And the fact that I was the one who got in trouble for it was the worst of all.
So I haven't decided yet. I don't want me coming back to be viewed as me admitting defeat; like everyone else standing up for human decency in these dark times, I'm not going to be defeated by bigots or fools. If anything, it's a compromise. Like I said when I left, if I do come back, I will be ignoring certain people. For the people I can't ignore through site functionality, I'll ignore them in the traditional sense. Either way, I'm not giving up and I'm not admitting defeat. I'll make my final decision soon. In the mean time, I have to think about this a bit more.
A few notes before I start. First, apologies if I've used that title before. Second, I am taking a break from the forums, but I'm still planning to use the blog and I expect to return to the forum pretty soon. Third, I'm not looking to talk about politics; this is unrelated.
There are certain things I still don't get about my kin type, and the biggest one is something I've talked about on this blog before: the "primal rage" aspect of my "dark side." I know, some of you don't think any of this is related to my kin type at all, and it might not be. My mind is screwy enough from medical things so there's a good chance that none of this is related. But I have to explore what I can, and this is something that's come up again recently. There are certain aspects of the "primal rage" dark side that I do not want to mention specifically because they're pretty messed up (nothing morally objectionable but not the kind of thing I want to describe to everyone). And one of these things has been acting up some lately. And actually, while I associate it with the "primal rage" it doesn't fit 100% in that category either. It sort of goes with both aspects of the "dark side" depending on how you interpret it. It's part of the "primal rage" if you look at it as an aggressive and animalistic act, but I've also interpreted it as being part of the "sadistic dark side," as an extreme form of forcing your will on others. It occurs to me that this is going to be very hard to talk about if you don't know what it is, but I'm really not comfortable saying it outright, so I'm hoping it will be clear from the context (and the title, if you know where it comes from).
A little while back I spent several hours looking for a game of some sort that would involve this thing; as I've said many times before, video games are generally where I'm able to get some release for the "dark side." I actually found a really good one, which was harder to do than I would have thought. There's sort of a subculture (maybe a sub-subculture) around this thing, so small games that involve it are actually not too hard to find. The problem is that most of the people in this subculture look at the topic from the opposite point of view. Or to put it another way, I focus on one perspective and most of them focus on the other perspective. I'm getting sort of off topic, actually; the real reason I'm talking about this at all is that I still don't really get how it connects to what else I know about my kin type. I keep feeling more and more clearly that my kin type at least looks like a faun, but fauns aren't too different from humans. Even with the demon connection, there's nothing "primal rage" about them. Even if we consider the idea that a fauntaur can shapeshift in some way (a theory I'm still very much on the fence about), there's a difference between the physical and the mental. So perhaps at least one difference between a fauntaur and a faun is that fauntaurs act more like centaurs than fauns do; human intelligence, but savage. That would make sense given the evidence I have, and it would be another lens through which to view the centaur aspect. Even then, though, this aspect I've been talking about wouldn't fit. It would only really fit if both of these possibilities were true: that fauntaurs can shapeshift and are more savage than fauns. And that could be the case, for all I know. But I don't have a lot to go on.
Another question that's just hit me is why I'm even thinking about this now. Things in my life are still not going great. I still can't find a job, my parents are starting to act like I'm not even trying, I'm going to have to start studying for the CPA exam again, I had a fight with my boyfriend (since resolved fortunately), and yes, the political stuff too. Maybe that is why my mind has moved to this stuff; in times like these it makes sense to think about a different life, and what (a past) life was or could have been. But I don't know. Regardless, things will have to get better eventually. In the meantime, I guess I ought to take advantage of this opportunity to spend some time thinking about my inner self.
And this has nothing to do with politics, just so we're clear, though that didn't help. Also, I don't mean I'm going to kill myself, so don't call the police. I just mean that were I the kind of person who would do something like that (and I'm not), this would be the time. I give up. I give up on life. I just want to crawl into a hole and die. Everything I do goes badly. Every time things seem to be going right, happiness gets ripped away from me. I'm sick of it. Sick of my life. Sick of everything. I just want to die. I can't handle it. I almost (ALMOST!) wish I could kill myself.
Maybe you think it's odd that I keep interrupting myself to make sure you know I'm not actually going to kill myself. That might be the worst part: I've been here before. I'm speaking from experience. If people hear you say you wish you were dead they get concerned that you might do something. I know; I've said it several times before.
The universe has been against me from day one. Hell, it's been against me from the first second I entered the world. I mean that literally: as soon as I was born I had a massive seizure. It's been pretty much constant pain and suffering since then. Every time it seems like kick the proverbial football, the proverbial Lucy picks it up at the last second. I've been having a great day celebrating the World Series, and what happens next? A fight with my boyfriend. And then he runs off on me. I was trying to help! I was trying to say something that I thought would help us as a couple. I wasn't looking to lecture or criticize, and he should have known that. So now I have to deal with this, in addition to the fallout from the political thread. What other torture can the world throw on me?
Full lyrics I wanted to use:
And it feels so strange
Living every night like this
Wasting it away
I feel like I haven't been on in a while, which is probably because I haven't. As I always say, I'm a creature of routines. And for a while I had things pretty well in hand, in terms of managing my time wisely. Then I lost my job, and suddenly, all of my routines fall apart. Everything falls apart. And I'm not talking about money or insurance or anything else directly related to the job itself (not for now, anyway). I'm talking about the void it leaves. Taking out that 10 hours of work plus commute each day lives a lot of empty space, space that I need to fill with job searching and researching career opportunities. It's been really hard to focus. Even on my ADD medication, I always have a lot of trouble focusing; that's probably a big part of why I lost my job. It's just made agonizingly more apparent when I'm at home trying to get work done. I tried going to the library to lessen the distractions, but the library computers don't work very well and you can only use them for an hour at a time (2 hours max per day). So I end up wasting a lot of time, knowing that I shouldn't, knowing that I have important things to be working on, and just not being able to get myself to work on them. I'm in the middle of something right now, and I interrupted it to write this.
The earlier days of my unemployment were also distracted by my selling of various things to make some money. I'm extremely fortunate that my parents are able and willing to help me with the important stuff, but for other things, the only money I can spend is the money I make. I took to selling a number of things, mostly various trading cards and Heroclix, along with some other odds and ends. The trips I needed to make to get/print shipping labels and drop larger things at the post office ended up doing more harm than good. I'm pretty much done with that now, but it delayed me a lot. Even without it, though, I never last as long as I think I will focus-wise. Pan has been like a drill sergeant even more than usual lately, and it's hard for him to understand that I legitimately can't help it. But I really can't. In a way, it's been sort of liberating; I finally have some free time, right when a whole bunch of hotly anticipated video games are coming out (Skylanders Imaginators, Dragon Ball Xenoverse 2, and Pokemon Sun and Moon being the biggest for me). But even when it's long after the period of time when it would be reasonable for me to be working, I always feel like my free time is wrong, so to speak.
Not that I think this will surprise anyone, but I'm still mad at the company that fired me. I think I mentioned all of this before, so feel free to skip this paragraph. Whatever issues I had, they could have helped me solve. I knew things were getting overwhelming, and when I told my boss, she said "tough ####." No, not in those exact words, but close enough. I welcomed every new task they piled on me and never complained, all while (in the final few weeks) learning an entirely new set of duties and training someone else to pick up mine. I wasn't a perfect employee, I know that, but I got fired because of ######## expectations, an odd situation, and confirmation bias. That is, I think I can attribute my getting fired to three things: my backlog leading to delays, brief delays on something extra thrown on me that I had to come in super early for, and my boss assuming that because I sometimes got in late, I must not be working enough hours. I tried telling them about the backlog, and they didn't care. I didn't come in early for the extra thing the first time because nobody had told me when it was due, and the next two times were flukes due to the reminders I left for myself not working due to unusual circumstances. Incidentally, each time the assignment was maybe an hour late or so; not exactly company-shattering. And sure, maybe I would come in 15 minutes late some days, but I always stayed at least 15 minutes late on those days (often more), and almost never took a lunch break. Really I think it came down to the second thing; the first and third just backed it up. The CFO of the company ruined my life and my former coworkers' lives because she was annoyed about getting a few things an hour late. I really think that's all it was. The coworker to whom I was going to pass my duties when I switched is now working double, and another overworked coworker is stuck doing the things she was training me to pick up, and maybe eventually training someone else from scratch if they can afford to hire someone. I know every fired employee says that the company will fall apart with out them, but I have proof that the department at least is in dire straits because they made the rash decision to fire me: I've spoken with one of them.
My job search is going nowhere, meanwhile. I haven't had a single interview. I must be working with every staffing agency in Chicago, and I've applied for tons of positions outside of the staffing agencies, but the farthest I've ever gotten was a single phone interview. I'm now at the point where I need to consider doing one of two things: switching to a different career (most likely the programming stuff my parents have been trying to convince me to do), or doing the CPA exam. Once again, it's the ADD that primarily makes these two choices difficult. The first involves programming, which I tried to learn in college the first time, and I ended up getting suspended due to bad grades and having to transfer to a different school and major. I've already tried and failed the CPA exam too; studying is excessively difficult and painful for me, and I'd rather do just about anything else. And as much as I'd like to go into a completely different field, like marketing or video game journalism, I don't have enough background to do much with those. I've been blogging about video games for a long time, and I would love nothing more than to make a career out of that, but it's a very competitive field and I don't have the education in the field to back myself up. I have a better position in marketing, but I would have to start back at the bottom and it would be even harder to find a job in that than in accounting. Not that I'm throwing out either idea; I'm still pursuing them on the side. I just don't know how likely they are. Either way, not having a job sucks, and my job search has been fruitless.
There have been a few good things going on, though, besides the video games I mentioned. Last weekend I participated in a World Tournament qualifier for Future Card Buddyfight, a little known trading card game. I mostly went because my friends who taught me the game asked me to come along, and because I really wanted to get the promo card awarded to everyone who participated in the tournament. It features my favorite character and goes perfectly with my deck designed around that character:
I am far from being a professional level player (I'm very new and very casual). My friends aren't super professional either, but they are better and more hardcore than me. Somehow, though, I actually lasted one round longer than them in the tournament. The whole day was a lot of fun, and it really helped me put aside my troubles for a bit.
Also, last night the Chicago Cubs won the world series for the first time in 108 years, so that's pretty exciting. As I've mentioned before, I live a stone's throw from Wrigley Field, and I could see and hear the celebration all around me. There were fireworks everywhere, and the shouts and car horns lasted late into the night. It was a super exciting game, and I loved being present for history in the making. Normally I don't really care about baseball, but the Cubs this year really grabbed my interest.
So...that's that. I want to try to get at least a little bit more work done, and then I'm going to head down by Wrigley and try to get a Cubs t-shirt. Wish me luck.
Even in the worst of times, song lyrics come to my head. I really am a faun (or close enough anyway).
That's the last bit of positivity you're going to get out of me for a while, though. Because it really is the end. Today, pretty much out of the blue, I got fired from my job. No advance notice, no time to clean out my desk, just "get the duck out." I've never been fired before, and I don't know what to do. Don't get me wrong; as my previous blog posts have noted, I've been having trouble with work for a while now, and I have been seeking another job. But the problems were all their fault, not mine. And I know, everyone says that, but I swear to god (Pan?) it's true. I've already gone over most of this in my blogs, but hear me out.
Back in April, we switched to a new software system, which screwed up everything. The process of the transition was a huge pain in the ass, and after it, my work load literally doubled overnight. And I'm not someone who uses the word "literally" inappropriately; if anything, that's an understatement. Meanwhile, my pay stayed the same. In fact, considering inflation, it actually went down. No raises, no bonuses, no promotions, nothing. Over the subsequent months, they kept adding more things they wanted me to do, and I never complained. I never even asked for a raise or anything. But because of the increased workload and challenges, things started to get delayed. There wasn't enough time to get things done. And I did start working more than 8 hours a day, but I couldn't put in much more for two reasons. First, I have serious ADD. And lest you think otherwise, that is a real and serious thing. I take medication for it, but that only does so much, and it eventually wears off. Second, I was criminally underpaid, and it didn't make sense to me to work on the weekends or late into the night at my salary. And they knew they weren't paying me enough; they're ducking accountants. So anyway, recently they said they wanted to transition me to worming on something else. "Great," I thought, "a fresh start." But they started training me and having me work on the new stuff while I was still responsible for the old stuff, and still overworked with the old stuff. Then finally, right when I was going to start doing the new stuff fully, they fire me. What was the ducking point of the ducking training then? Why even ducking bother?
So now I'm screwed. As I've made clear on this blog before, I'm already broke. I'm getting severance pay for two weeks. Wonderful. So unless I manage to get a decently paying job in two weeks, I can't pay for my apartment, I haven't had much luck finding a new job, and I don't know what to tell my parents. Because I'll need their help to survive this. But what will I say? And how will they respond? On one hand they've been sympathetic about my work trouble so far, but I can't be totally sure they'll believe me when I tell them it wasn't my fault. I don't want to get into a fight with them. I don't want to hear their lectures. I know I'm going to have to tell them, and I know they'll likely understand, but the chance they won't makes it really hard for me.
So I don't know what to do. This is brand new territory for me, and I don't like new territory. I feel paralyzed. No matter what, this won't end well.
(I took the name of a totally unrelated Linkin Park song to use for a pun for this title; it's not my best work. But it's 2 AM here, so cut me some slack.)
Have I mentioned that I'm a big fan of Skylanders? Because I really am. While The Legend of Zelda will aways be my favorite video game series, I'm always a big proponent of more adult gamers trying Skylanders. I write for a video game blog (www.thatvideogameblog.com) and it's a running joke among the staff of the blog that I'll write about every single piece of Skylanders news that comes up.
I've particularly been waiting eagerly for the newest game in the series, Skylanders Imaginators. It features deep character creation, which is a feature I always love in games. And today, I learned a couple new things that make me even more excited. Skylanders includes characters of all different shapes and sizes, but there are some new designs that I'm really happy about. First, one of the new toys-to-life (non-custom) characters this time around is a cat-centaur sort of thing called Mysticat, and I really like his design. They call him a sphinx, but cat-centaur-thing is more accurate. There is already a more traditional centaur character in Skylanders, but because she's female and of the Dark element it's hard for me to relate with her.
The other cool thing, which I just learned, is that you'll be able to unlock the parts required to make a faun character in the game. Do you know how many games out there let you play as a faun? Approximately zero until now. They even get the name right; they call it a "faun" instead of "satyr." While it's annoying that I'll have to unlock those parts, I'm thrilled to see that they're in the game.
If you're the kind of person who likes playing as characters that are similar to your kin type, or just like platformers, I really recommend checking this game out. It comes out this coming Sunday in North America, and today in Europe.
It took me a little longer than I intended to get back to this, but I'm finally ready to continue on this topic. In the first part I talked about "TAF2," the feeling I get when I relate with a character that has bad things happen to them, but that isn't kin related. It's the non-kin-related equivalent to TUF. The question is, if I can get the same feeling as TUF with non-kin-related things, then does TUF really tell me as much about my kin nature as I thought? I have two thoughts on that, one positive and one negative.
The negative thought is that if I get the same feeling relating to characters in non-kin-related ways, it might mean it no longer makes sense to use TUF as a basis for my understanding of my kin type. I've used the things that cause TUF to help me figure out what I am, but this situation suggests that all it tells me is that I relate to the characters. TAF and TUF are just my mind's response to that. So the basics still fit (i.e. I relate to the characters that cause TUF because of kin-related reasons), but the specific instances of their stories might not mean much. For example, I relate to Junpei from Zero Escape as a character; I don't relate at all to his situation. So (to use a recent example) I may relate to Peter (the character I played in a Changeling LARP at GenCon) because he becomes non-human, but his species and the specific circumstances of his transformation don't necessarily mean anything. If this negative take is the correct one, it means that TUF is still evidence of transformation being related to my kin type, but not of what my kin type is.
On the positive end, though, I have to consider why I kept re-reading the wiki page about Junpei, and why I kept looking back at the artwork of him from Zero Time Dilemma. It's the reason I looked it up in the first place actually: I needed closure. The end of 999 does not make it clear what happened to the characters, and my sort of obsessive response came mostly from wanting to know if they had a happy ending. It was the urge to have some finality. Now, when we look at something like Peter, apply the same idea. His story did end. So what closure am I looking for? Well, maybe the deeper part of my mind, the part that remembers being a fauntaur, wants me to find closure in figuring out what I am. So I keep going back, rereading the stories and re-viewing the images, because some part of me knows that I'm so close to having something click, and I don't want to let go of the thing that's leading me there. If I haven't made this clear before, a big part of TUF and friends is that I keep going over the triggers, looking at the same things over and over with no defined purpose. But really, there is a purpose: closure. And while the search for closure with TAF2 is the question of what happens to the character, that's not always true for TUF. Sometimes the fate of the character is known, or doesn't cross my mind. In these cases, the closure I'm looking for might be closure for myself, finding what I need to know about myself from my connection with these stories.
Most likely, it's somewhere in between. I relate to the things that cause TUF because of kin-related reasons, and on some level my mind is making me focus and go back over the aspects that are most relevant. That's why I never really got to full on TUF with Peter; what he was transformed into isn't related to my kin type. It's not exactly an inner knowledge of what I need to take from these stories, but it's not just relating to the characters either.
In other words, I'm pretty much back to my status quo with how I interpret TUF. Maybe that's just because I don't want to have to face the possibility that I know even less than I thought I did. Still, this exploration will help me find what I should be focusing on the next time TUF comes around, and it will help me avoid dwelling on the parts that aren't important.
(Yes, that is actually from a song.)
Note 1: This was originally going to be a new forum post, but it came out a bit preachy and is sort of personal, so I thought it might fit better here.
Note 2: The second part of my post from yesterday is still coming.
Before I start: I am NOT looking to reopen the questions of "are we human" or "what do we think about humans". Those are toxic questions that only end up making people upset and starting pointless arguments. Yes, all of us are human, and none of us have the right to judge humanity. If you disagree with me on either of those things, feel free to talk about it if you don't mind starting fights, but not in this thread.
Instead, I want to talk about why we sometimes ask those questions, why they piss me off so much, and why I have problems with people saying they "never feel human." They all come down to one thing really: as kin we're always in such a rush to shed our humanity. We feel the need to separate ourselves from humanity, out of fear that if we don't, we aren't really kin (or people will say we aren't.) And I'll answer the question that you might have if you're like me: yes, I do include myself in this. I try not to express it in the ways I'm talking about, but I've done it too.
And it makes sense. In the past I've talked a lot about how quick we can be to deny other people's experiences. Between that, how different our experiences are, and a bunch of other factors, being kin feels like a competition sometimes. Though I don't think anyone actually believes this, I feel like sometimes we unintentionally portray the attitude that the more human you consider yourself, somehow the less kin you are. When we come up with new ways to separate ourselves all the time, and when we exaggerate the level at which we don't feel human, it creates the assumption that people who feel human and consider ourselves human are somebow less kin. Which is stupid, obviously, but I know it happens.
How do I know? Because that's why people bring up the questions I talked about at the beginning. I think it often comes from insecurity. Some, especially more recently awakened kin, feel the kind of feeling I'm talking about. So they exaggerate. They say that not only do they not feel human, they aren't human. And then they go even further, and say that they hate humanity. And don't get me wrong, I know more experienced kin say these things too; it affects all of us.
Here's the thing that makes this complicated though: I'm not asking anyone to change their behavior. In the past I've talked about these things and said that we need to change the way we say things, but that's not the case this time. I'm not asking anyone to stop saying things that might make other people unhappy. That's why this is a rant and not a debate. It's just an annoying situation.
I want to dust off one of my usual topics again, but I'm going to discuss it in a different sort of way. It's time to once again delve into the thing I call "The Unstoppable Feeling" or TUF for short. Here's why: I've always known that TUF is a combination of a number of things. Depression, dysphoria, jealousy, and all sorts of other things put together make up TUF. I've also always known that there are times when I've felt something similar to TUF when there's nothing to trigger the kin-related part of it. It's the same mix of feelings, except without the longing to not be human. Like TUF, it happens after I encounter something in fiction that I relate to, but not anything that has to do with transformation. I'm exploring this because it recently came up again, and it made me question exactly what TUF is. Could it just be an intense connection with fictional characters, the kind that everyone gets but that I'm somehow more sensitive to? Could it actually have nothing to do with my kin nature, despite being how I discovered my kin nature in the first place? And what would that mean for my identity?
I've fallen down the "what if I'm not really otherkin" rabbit hole far too many times in the past 16 years, and I always end up back where I started, so I rejected that idea out of hand. But I still need to keep an open mind. So let's frame the question this way: can the feeling I get when I feel an intense connection with a fictional character who has something bad happen to them help me narrow down exactly what makes TUF unique? Well, let's start with two things. First, to make things easier, the feeling I get when I connect with a fictional character who has bad things happen to them will henceforth be referred to as "The Annoying Feeling 2" or TAF2 to make things easier to type and read. Second, as much out of interest as it is because it helps the discussion, I should talk about what caused TAF2 this time around.
As I mentioned in another blog entry or two, I just finished the video game "Zero Escape: 9 Hours 9 Persons 9 Doors". On that note, there are going to be minor spoilers for the Zero Escape series here, so keep that in mind. Also, the rest of this paragraph is just detailing some things from the series, so you can skip it if you don't want spoilers or just don't care. Anyway, a brief synopsis: "999" (as I call it for short) is part visual novel and part room escape game. You play as a college student named Junpei, a character that I found very relatable to myself early on. We have similar ages and personalities. Anyway, in the final true ending of the game, just when Junpei's relationship and connection with his childhood friend/love interest Akane reaches its maximum, Akane disappears and it's left unclear whether she ever actually cared for him. I couldn't let this ambiguity stand, because my brain refuses to leave things unresolved, so I looked online to see if there was something I missed. I learned that both characters actually appear in the game's two sequels, and things take some dark turns. The first sequel, Virtue's Last Reward, takes place in a dark future around 40 years after the first game, wherein a virus has wiped out most of humanity, and an elderly Junpei has grown cold and bitter after spending most of his life looking for Akane and not finding her. So pretty bad, but given that this series is all about multiple timelines, there's hope in the third game in the series, Zero Time Dilemma. This one actually takes place one year after 999, and the timeline leading up to Virtue's Last Reward is just one of many possible paths the characters can take in this game. But even Zero Time Dilemma, set just one year later, shows a colder and more jaded Junpei, almost unrecognizable in the official character art. He looks much less lighthearted in the newer game; granted, this and his unrecognizability partly come from a change in art style, but it's still striking. Reading and seeing all of this is what started TAF2.
As always happens, I wanted to start playing the sequels right away to extend the experience and reach the final conclusion faster. Things being left unresolved, especially when they're situations I really care about (real or fictional), is something my brain just can't handle. But anyway, it became apparent quickly how similar this feeling was to TUF. And it did make me worry, momentarily, if I had my understanding all wrong. But it's not nearly as bad as TUF, so it doesn't necessarily mean I had things wrong. Alas, I've written so much already that I've tired myself out, and need to take a break. I'll write the rest of this out tomorrow or so.
I've used lyrics from "Given Up" as post titles a few times, but I don't think I've ever gone with this part.
Remember how I said, in my last entry, that I don't know why I've been posting so much? Well, now I do. It's because if I don't, I'll explode from the pressure. So let me get the disclaimers out of the way right now. First, this particular entry is whiney and full of first world problems, but that doesn't mean it isn't really bad. Second, this post is not kin-related. Third, as always, I might make things sound more dramatic than they really are; it's just how I write.
I don't know what the hell I'm doing. It's almost like I'm subconsciously trying to get myself fired. I don't want to lose my job, but my job has become a living hell. There's always too much to do, so things always fall through the cracks. Every day my boss gets mad at me about something. And after weeks of trying to hold things together as well as I can, and trying to complete everything quickly, and trying to focus with no improvement, I've just lost my motivation. It's not like I'm lazy or not trying. I've fought for a long time to keep things going. I never complained. But after throwing myself at it for so long and seeing it get worse and worse, I just have trouble mustering the motivation and energy to get all of my work done.
Now in addition to all of my normal existing work, I have to train in some new things that I'm going to be transitioning into, and the coworker training me can be a bit if a pain. And again, I'm trying my best, but it's so hard to care.
What I really need is to keep working on finding a new job. But while I'm working full time, especially in such a soul crushing situation, it's hard. By the time I get home from work during the week, I'm far too tired and unhappy to focus my efforts on the job search. And time that I set aside for it on the weekend lately has been interrupted by me dealing with my computer dying and having to replace it, not just in terms of getting a new computer but also in terms of getting that new computer in a state where I can consider it "complete" meaning that everything is installed and backed up and downloaded and ready to go.
I'm going to get back to that, because that leads into another significant big issue. For now, let's consider the job situation. I need to spend more time working on finding a new job, but I keep finding that I just can't get myself to do it after work. It doesnt help that i already feel like I dont have time for other things. Ineed to devote a good chunk of the weekends to it, because I'm desperate now. It's not just that the (ever increasing) time I spend at work is really bad. It's also the money situation. I paid off part of the cost of the new computer by selling a bunch of my Magic cards, but that didn't do that much. I'm now in the worst financial situation I've been in since...ever, actually. Between Thursday or so when my monthly mortgage payment goes out, and the 15th when I get my next paycheck, I'll have less than $100 in my bank account. I thought I was being cautious, I really did. But I'm always wrong when I think that. I need to track it better. There was a time when I didn't have to consider the budget effect of every single purchase, be it important or not. I miss that time. Now every decision has to be super careful, and I have to force myself not to spend money on certain things that I otherwise would. The problem is that it was such a huge drop, relative to the amounts involved, and I've had no time to adjust. Even then, I never imagined during my trip that I would have to get a new computer upon getting back.
I discovered the direness at work today, after which I once again retreated to the bathroom to get through my freakout. I do indeed hyperventilate sometimes. And it's not getting better. It really isn't. I seriously don't know what to do. Mustering the energy to find a new job is so much harder than I thought it would be.
But the worst thing is, I had another worry. There was something else bothering me. It was something pointless, but an instance of a serious issue for me. I had just finished a game I'd been playing on my phone since my trip to Europe. It's called 9 Hours 9 Persons 9 Doors, and it's part of the Zero Escape series. The game's true ending was a bit vague in certain ways. Which for most people would probably be fine. But not me, because I can't let things go. It's a nasty issue that I find flares up sometimes, and it makes things harder for me. In this case, it started with just looking up the ending. But from there I learned that to truly know what happens to the characters, you need to play the sequels. And every game in this series has a large number of endings. And the ending paths are confusing. I read through plot details just enough to know what was going on, but not enough for unnecessary spoilers. When it became clear that the main characters from this game end up worse for wear in the sequels (especially the first sequel), this created a negative mood for me. As I've made clear before, I connect way too much with fictional characters. And I couldn't rest until I (a) knew which endings in which games were the best ones, (b) knew exactly how to get those endings, and (c) had several plans to actually get the second game. All the while I knew it was dumb and I knew I was better off using that mental energy on my job and job search, but I couldn't help it. I couldn't let myself leave the topic without a satisfactory resolution.
My main plan for being able to play the second game, mind you, is to rent it. And this would involve returning Odin Sphere already. After all the concern I had about it, I barely played it, and I never even got to the part with FT. The game just didn't grab me. It's a tough choice. "Pan" suggested that I don't play either and just play a non-emotionally-problematic game like Muramasa, especially since whatever I choose I'll drop in about a month when Pokémon Sun and Moon come out. But the real issue here is my inability to let it go.
It's the same problem with my computer. I could have gotten the new computer, set up the essentials, and installed other things at my leisure. Instead, I wouldn't let my attention drift until I had everything set up to a certain point, wasting time I meant to use for the job search. It's also the same thing with my time management. I spend so much time worrying about whether I have time to do things that I don't give myself enough time to actually do things.
I'm already feeling helpless and hopeless at work, and this just makes it worse. I'm just waiting for the other shoe to drop. I can't focus and I keep driving myself crazy over things that aren't important. And I just can't help it.
First of all, if you're wondering why I'm posting so much lately...I don't have an answer. I've been in a bad mood, and I guess that makes the need to get things out stronger. But this isn't a rant or anything; it's more an exploration. First, let me recap. I have a set of traits that are quite contrary to my personality, and which only come out when fiction (usually video games) allows me to act on them. Together I call this my “dark side” and it's one of the cornerstones of the idea that my kin type is to some degree demonic. The “dark side” really manifests in two different ways: a violent primal rage, and a sadistic desire to control and manipulate others. As you guys can hopefully tell, neither of those describe me at all...in this life, anyway.
Let's not get into the question of whether or not this is actually related to being kin; I lean towards believing it is, and I'm keeping the issue on the back burner for now. What I want to talk about is something that I only recently considered: the two parts of the “dark side” are practically opposites of each other. To put them in the context of how I let them out, I'll use a game that accesses both: Fable. One part of the dark side is going into town with a big two handed weapon and just smashing whoever I can find. The other part is spending way too much time befriending people so that I can literally drag them to the altar where they will be sacrificed to an evil god in a variety of ways. That actually reminds me of something else, but I'll try to stay sort of focused. What I'm talking about is, the first one requires no strategy and little preparation; as long as you're strong enough you can just keep on going. But the second one requires going significantly out of my way for something that doesn't even make much of a difference.
Now that I think about it, though, I realize there's actually a third part of my dark side, which I'm going to label “hedonism.” It manifests just like the other two. I'm not going to go into any more detail than that. But here's the thing: I define a fauntaur as a creature sharing traits with centaurs, fauns, and demons. But despite their similarities (and depending on which depiction you're looking at), those three things are very different. In fact, they're exactly like the aspects of my dark side. The centaur is primal rage, the faun is hedonism, and the demon is sadism. So what does that mean?
Well, maybe you think it means that I've described my “dark side” as I have to convince myself that it fits with my current understanding of my kin type, and that's fair. But it strikes me as causing a big problem with my understanding of my kin type: how can it be all three? How can a creature embrace primal rage, sadistic control, and hedonism when they're all so different from each other? It doesn't make sense...or does it?
Humanity has ascribed certain traits to certain animals, regardless of whether the matchup is accurate. Owls are wise, sharks are vicious, foxes are sly, and so on. Mythological creatures are also often described like this: dragons are greedy, goblins are stupid, etc. But for the animals at least, we know better; one trait can't possibly define an entire species. We have no singular descriptor for ourselves as humans, after all. So why can't “mythical” creatures be equally complex?
You might have noticed the stumbling block I unwittingly placed in front of myself, though: the question isn't whether a faun can be professional or whether a centaur can be disciplined. The question is, how can a fauntaur be vicious, sadistic, and hedonistic? The best answer I have is that those traits can be true without totally defining the species. A fauntaur could be, for example, normally pretty relaxed but prone to letting baser urges take over. Anger can lead to primal rage, and hatred can lead to sadism, but that doesn't mean the fauntaur is always like that. Or if you want to describe it with a single trait, it's a trait that's more nuanced. Perhaps the trait is that fauntaurs are prone to succumbing to baser urges. It fits everything I've said up until now, but leaves room for more detail and complexity.
When I started writing this, my goal was simply to consider the question of how a person or a species can have such wildly differing traits. But in writing about it, I've actually come closer to that answer. What I've discovered, among other things, is that I have to remember why I call myself a fauntaur. It's because I'm not a faun or a centaur or a demon, no matter how close I might be to those things. My kin type is something different, and I need to start treating it that way.
Finally, a note for those of you who don't know me: I know what this sounds like. I know it sounds like I'm being a “special snowflake” and making things up so that I don't have to really understand them. But the truth is, I've been working hard towards this understanding for a very long time. So don't get me wrong, I'm not saying there's anything necessarily “good” or “special” about being a fauntaur. I'm just saying that it's what I am.