Separate names with a comma.
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.
Hey, this is "Pan." Well, not really; I still have to let Gryff do the typing. This whole post was his idea anyway. He just wanted me to talk.
(This is Gryff interrupting to say, "at least you have a topic this time.")
It is barely a topic. It's really just a joke, or it started as a joke. So remember when Gryff talked about that poem? Well, it got me thinking. Because obviously, I'm named after Pan. But I'm not just named after him; I'm also kind of (kind of!) based on him. Man, keeping our thoughts separate is hard...
So, we were thinking. Well, we were joking about me being an aspect of Pan. Or rather a construct aspect, which is really just a term we made up. For whatever reason Gryff started talking to me like I was Pan, and I went along with it. I'm allowed to have an ego too, right? So where were we...sorry, we got interrupted. Anyway, we've started actually looking at it like that. Like I'm an aspect of Pan, constructed in something sort of like the real world by something sort of like one of his followers. Gryff is a "fauntaur" and those are followers of Pan by his understanding. So, if he made me, based on Pan, then maybe there's something legitimate there.
I dunno, it sounds stupid, I know. But what if...what if there is something there? What if there's some deeper meaning to me being like Pan? For him or for me?
I don't know. This was a bad idea. I feel like Gryff and I sort of aren't sure which of us is talking. We're still new to this, and since Gryff hasn't been very good about his meditating, we might not ever be. Which is annoying.
(This is Gryff again, saying that we're quitting while we're ahead here. Also, that I recognize the irony of the guy in my heading talking about how he might be part of a god...)
You can tell how things are going in my life by how much I post here; if I'm posting a lot it means that things aren't going great. And if I'm posting a lot about non-kin-related subjects, it means things are really bad. On that note, this post has nothing to do with kin-related subjects.
As I think I've mentioned before, I came home from Europe to find that my PC, which was fine when I left, was acting up. It kept getting worse and worse until eventually the computer would power on but not get any further than that. I called the manufacturer for support, but they told me I was out of warranty and that the only thing I could do was go to Best Buy and see if they could figure out the problem. Long story short, after an infuriating situation with Best Buy and some research of my own, I found that the issue was probably the motherboard. Since getting the motherboard repaired would cost more than replacing the computer (given that the video card and memory still work fine), I figured I needed to do that.
But, as I've also mentioned before, I'm pretty much broke. My parents cut me off to an extreme degree with no warning not too long ago, and the trip to Europe was pricey as well. I've been cutting down on a lot of things, but the fact is that I can barely afford to live comfortably (or at least. anywhere near the level of comfort that I'm used to). So buying a new computer, even a cheap one, would be a serious budgeting problem. And it couldn't be too cheap either; while I'm keeping my existing video card, the PC would still need a powerful enough CPU to run the Vive, because it didn't seem cost effective to leave myself with an $800 paperweight.
So, I reaearched, and researched, and looked, and looked, and finally I found a deal that was a steal. The CPU was even more powerful than my old one, the case was big enough for the video card, the hard drive was big enough for my purposes, and (because it was refurbished) it only cost $200. Believe me, I've done enough research in the last week or so to know that price is crazy good. Too good, in fact; it seemed too good to be true. So I sent the link to my dad and my brother in law and asked them to take a look and make sure I wasn't missing anything. They didn't see any problems. The only issue was that Amazon only had one in stock, so I needed to act fast. So once I heard back from them, I ordered it.
I can't say whether it was the right choice of a computer yet since it won't arrive until Friday, but I have a bigger problem. I didn't realize just how bad my monetary situation was. If I did I likely wouldn't have bought the computer yet. It's bad, really bad. Right now I have $320 to my name. And since my next paycheck will go entirely to paying for my apartment, I have to make that $320 last for a little over two weeks.
What makes all of that even worse is that I had an out, and I blew it because I was too embarrassed to take it. My sister and my brother in law offered to pay for part of the PC as an early birthday present. Not knowing how dire the situation was, I declined. Not that I couldn't still ask, but I'm so easily embarrassed that I don't know how I could get myself to do so.
It's also worth noting that the computer itself isn't the only cost. In order for my video card to work with it, I'll need to replace the power supply. I have one in my old PC that will work, but I don't trust myself to install it properly. So if I have to hire someone to install it, that's another cost. One thing I plan to do is sell some of my Magic and Pokémon cards, but it's only a short term solution. Ugh.
So I'm not feeling my best right now, and this is besides all of my issues with work....
Actually someone does relate: me, to a particular story. That was just the only lyric I could think of that uses the word “relate.” But it is true that I can't concentrate. That's why I'm writing this out now. Just thinking about it, and even discussing it with “Pan,” it was hard to focus and develop what I'm thinking about.
I've talked a lot about TUF and some of the things that have led to it. But there's one major example that I haven't talked about much, because it's embarrassing. Very embarrassing. What led up to it, what I found, and how I responded to it are all embarrassing. But thinking about it this morning, I realize that it might hold part of the key to properly understanding what TUF is and what it means about my identity. So, I'm going to bite the bullet and go into details.
This happened a number of years ago. I don't remember exactly how long, but I'm going to guess maybe 3 or 4 years ago. I've mentioned that I'm obsessed with the idea of transformation, forced or otherwise. To that end I had been perusing a website focused on that theme. It's full of stories on the topic, some in a choose-your-own-adventure style. Perhaps you know the site I'm talking about; if so, you probably know why I haven't wanted to bring it up before. Anyway, at one point I was reading one of the choose-your-own-adventure stories about a (human) character who met a demon. In a situation that I can't really call “forced,” but comes close, he was transformed into a horse, and then into a “minotaur.” I put that in quotes because in this case “minotaur” really means anthropomorphic bull. Then, in a weird twist for one of these stories, he ends up in a peaceful situation living out his life as a “minotaur.” This story caused TUF in a serious way. This was more in the “jealousy of fictional characters” way than the “resonance with forced transformation” way, mind you.
But that's not what makes this particular case interesting. See, every story on this site, and every “page” of the choose-your-own-adventure stories, is written by a member of the site. Nobody has any obligation to write out a full story with multiple paths. After a certain point with the story thread I had been reading, there was only one thread written, and it was an unhappy one for the character. This made me unhappy. So, I went in and quickly wrote an alternate path, one where the character is triumphant (at least until someone else goes forward from what I wrote). It just seemed like the natural thing to do at the time.
But I've been thinking. If I was jealous of this character, why would I want him to have a happy ending? Well, because I identified with him, of course. But that kind of throws a wrench into everything I've been saying about my identity and TUF lately, right? Before I go further with this chain of thought, actually, I should note something. Obviously the nature of this kind of story makes identifying with the character even easier than it would normally be. But it's worth noting that while the earliest chapters of the story were written in the present tense second person (“you do this”) like these stories should be, the later chapters were written in the past tense first person (“I did this.”)
Now then, let's consider how this story differs from what I've been saying so far. For one thing, while it certainly doesn't go how the character expects it to, I wouldn't call it a forced transformation. For another, he's ultimately transformed into a “minotaur.” That is part human and part hooved animal, but it doesn't fall under my definition of a fauntaur. It's also not the only story of someone being transformed into a “minotaur” that has caused TUF. And finally, while this probably is because the story isn't in third person, I felt more identified with him than jealous of him. I identified with him so much that I felt compelled to stop and write out a happy ending for him.
So the two questions from this are: what might this mean about my kin type, and what might this mean about TUF? It could very well mean nothing; it isn't the first source of TUF that doesn't connect directly with my existing definitions, and it would be perfectly fine to say what I previously had, which is that it's close enough that it still fits in with the existing most likely narrative. But I don't want to leave any stone unturned. So, I want to explore this. The idea of adding “minotaur” to my kin type possibilities has come up before. It might go against my semi-tidy definition of a fauntaur, but then again, it might not. That definition allows for some shapeshifting ability, and a “minotaur” is close enough to the other aspects that it could fall into the “preferred forms” bucket. But I don't want to get too comfortable with my most likely answer I've made for myself, because there's no guarantee it’s correct. Is it possible, then, that my kin type is a “minotaur”? I doubt it; it goes against way too much previous evidence. But is it possible that my kin type is, at least by default, part human and part bull? That's more believable. I have felt resonance with bulls in other scenarios, and when I imagine what my horns might look like, they often end up looking more like bull horns than goat horns. But on the other hoof, maybe that has something to do with the fact that I'd rather be part bull than part goat? I don't know; separating desire from reality is hard when everything is so theoretical and unclear.
As for TUF, I know it's a yearning for something. I just don't know what it's a yearning for. Recently I've said that I think it's a yearning to return to a past life. Specifically, a life where I was a victim of forced transformation and was happy about it. But even if we do follow the past life idea, is that what happened? Some sources of TUF don't involve forced transformations; just transformations. And the ones that do involve forced transformations don't tend to involve good things coming from it. Taking the biggest example, the one from Gencon 2014: while that character did end up becoming a faun-like creature, what caused TUF was reading the backstory about him being transformed into a goat and forced to fight in another world. Same goes for the other Changeling one, from this year’s Gencon. And even in situations that don't exactly cause TUF I've found myself identifying with characters who undergo unhappy forced transformations. So there's a chance that if I was a victim of FT in a past life, it was a bad thing. Why would I be yearning for that?
Of course it's important to consider that the yearning might not be for a past life, but just for not being human. What would that mean exactly? What's so bad about being human that I'd have such a deep yearning to not be? Well, my best guess for that falls to my demon theory. I don't know much about what it means to be a demon, or to what degree that's what my kin type is. But I do know what my mind’s idea of a demon is, and what aspects of that lead to the demon theory. And that really comes down to one word: power. The power to shapeshift already is part of my definition of a fauntaur, but there's more to it than that. The dark sides I've talked about, the destructive primal rage and the sadistic desire for control and domination that lurk in the back of my head and only come out in fictional scenarios, those both fall under the idea of power as well. And humans, well, humans are weak. Or at least, that's what my head’s version of a demon would think. But this too might come from desire and wishful thinking rather than actual identity.
The problem is that these are only ideas and theories, and they can't ever be proven. So even when I come up with an idea that works for me, there will always be the question of whether it's correct. There will always be things that might not fit as well as I think they do. And of course, there will always be doubts and questions. My understanding of my identity is always changing. So while I wanted to start focusing on the past life that I might be yearning for, I also have to keep an eye on the idea that I might not be yearning for a past life, and the idea that even if I am, it might not involve FT. Nothing is solid, and that's annoying.
One last thing. I get that my writing might seem a bit...dramatic. It always kind of seems like I'm being a bit too grandiose, so to speak. I've always noticed that, but for some reason it's particularly hitting me now. So I just want to say, that's not really the kind of guy I usually am. I don't talk like I write here. And I'm usually not focused so much on my identity, either. What you see on this blog is just a part of the whole. And that's probably made even more clear when you compare my writing on the blog to my writing on the video game forum. I just wanted to note that.
Cast your mind all the way back to the distant past of last month. I had discovered a game called Odin Sphere, which looked like it was right up my alley, but also scared me because it involves forced transformation (FT). I had originally planned to play it during my trip to Europe, but decided that I was better off waiting until after the trip. But I still rented the game, and I bought its cheaper brother, a similar game called Muramasa Rebirth (or Muramasa: The Demon Blade originally). I played Muramasa during the trip, but it didn’t really grab me. Meanwhile, I didn’t start Odin Sphere, though I still had it rented. During the trip I ended up getting caught up in another portable game, called 9 Persons 9 Hours 9 Doors (or 999 as I call it).
Fast forward to this week. Things are going pretty poorly for me. My computer is totally broken, and it looks like the problem is in the motherboard. My job is terrible; the workload is completely unmanageable, things keep getting messed up, and I’m not getting paid nearly enough. Meanwhile, I’m trying to work on finding a new job, with my parents pushing me in a certain direction on that topic. But finding a job is hard without a working computer these days. And I’m not sure I can afford to replace my motherboard, let alone my whole computer; I’m nearly broke after the trip, and it’s not going to get any better until I find a new job. And I’m not even sure I’ll be able to find a motherboard that I’m 100% sure will work with everything else. And if I have to buy a new computer, it has to be one I can plug my existing video card into, because otherwise I’ll have the additional expense of needing a new video card.
Amidst all of this, I wasn’t sure it was cost effective to still have a second game rented from Gamefly, which in this case meant I wasn’t sure I should hold on to Odin Sphere if I wasn’t playing it. Since I’m about to finish 999 and I’ll need to move on soon anyway, I decided to finally give it a try this week. While it hasn’t grabbed me as much as 999, it definitely has done a better job of keeping my attention than Muramasa did. But I haven’t gotten to the part with the FT yet, and I’m worried that if I do play it, I’ll have that worry to add on top of everything else. So I was thinking I might return it. But, on the other hand, if I do, this will keep hanging over me until I eventually face it. It’s lose lose. And if I can’t avoid a problem, the best thing I can do is get it over with. The only way to do that is to play the game and deal with whatever issues I might have. It might be bad, and it might cause problems, but it’s the only way I’ll ever be able to let it go.
This might mean that I’ll be back on here talking about those problems very soon, or it might mean that I’ll realize my fear was pointless. Either way, not only will I be done with the issue, I’ll be able to say that I didn’t let my worries hold me back. Sometimes they do, and I don’t want to let them. So, come what may, I’m going to play Odin Sphere. And there’s only one reason I can think of that will stop me: if I find the game to be boring. But that’s a whole different problem.
In case you don’t get the title, allow me to explain. Pookas are the rabbit-like creatures in Odin Sphere; that’s what one of the characters is transformed into. The original lyric is from White Rabbit by Jefferson Airplane; I replaced “rabbits” with “pookas.” (Yes, I know I like explaining my references too much.)
This isn't the first time I've realized this, but it is the first time I've really put it together.
It used to be that, for most of the time, I didn't even think about being non-human. If something came up that triggered kin related feelings (including but not limited to TUF), I'd have it in mind for a few months at most, and then it would just sort of float to the back of my head. That's why I usually ended up drifting away from forums so much, and why in a few cases I've worried that I might permanently drift away from this one eventually.
But for whatever reason, things are different now. This has been growing since "The Great TUF of Gencon 2014" as I like to call it, and it's now at the point where I think about being non-human pretty much daily. There are a number of reasons I think this is the case. The biggest and newest reason is "Pan." It's sort of obvious, I guess: I learned about the whole tulpa thing here, and my proto-tulpa takes a form (and name for that matter) reminiscent of my kin type. He's around all day every day, of course, so it's not like I can forget about him. And thinking about him means thinking about the kin community and my own identity therein. So as long as "Pan" is around, my mind will be on my kin nature.
But like I said, this trend predates my proto-tulpa. I'm not 100% sure that The Great TUF of Gencon 2014 is really the start, but I think it played a role. It was about 3 weeks of my thoughts being largely consumed with TUF and my non-human nature in general. I've been dealing with TUF or similar things for my whole life, but this was on another level. I think an event like that is bound to make a permanent impression, and it pushed me to learn more about myself and my kin type. It and other bouts of TUF eventually lead me to the next reason for the change: Kinmunity.
As you likely know if you're the kind of person reading my blog, this isn't my first kin forum, not by a long shot. I think it's number 6; I've lost count. But it's definitely the best. Everyone is understanding and pleasant enough that even though major disagreements have taken place, not even the worst of them were so bad that I left the site. I've thought about it, as my blog archive shows, but I'm still here. And since I feel so comfortable here, I come here a lot. Obviously I'm thinking about being non-human while I'm here, and that's a thought that lasts.
The last thing might be the most important: I'm more comfortable with my knowledge and understanding of my kin type than I've been in a long time. I don't know how conscious the connection has really been for me, but one way or another, people tend to avoid thinking about topics that might make them uncomfortable. So at least partially subconsciously, I didn't want to deal with those questions. The change here really began with the demon theory, as it finally caused me to depart from the centaur label that I hadn't felt was totally accurate for quite a while. It was a best guess. Adding the demon theory to everything else helped me come to I think my best theory yet, and it (and my friends here) helped me realize that maybe there wasn't a word for what I am. So I did something I tend to do a lot: I made up a term of my own. The fauntaur label has its fair share of problems, but I think it's the closest I've come to accurately discovering what I am.
All of these things together mean that the non-human side of my life has a much bigger place in my head. Sometimes that might be a bad thing, like when I have to deal with TUF. But otherwise, I think it's good. It provides a connection back to that part of my identity that I've been lacking. And it's always good to know yourself.
A few times, when the doubts about my kin nature got really bad, I said that if I were to join this site now without mentioning how long I've been part of the kin community, people would think I was fluff or a troll. Don't worry, no doubts right now. But I've found myself thinking about this again.You guys know that in the past I've been hard on the community as a whole for not being very welcoming to new people. But I understand it better now. And the situation is starting to change around.
Lately I've seen so many people joining the site and claiming some pretty outrageous-sounding things. And while I usually follow the "innocent until proven guilty" line of thinking, there have been more and more people lately who I initially doubt. Sometimes I'm right, sometimes I'm wrong. I don't act on it, of course; I always try to assume food faith in my posts, and ask for information. It's just my initial thoughts that have become a bit less positive lately.
I was thinking about this recently, especially with regard to one particular new member who I initially thought had to be a troll. I talked to them some, though, and realized that I was wrong. It got be back to the question, what if it was me? What would people think if I joined a forum with the beliefs I have now, and didn't mention my experience? I would likely be doubted as well. And I would want people to assume good faith for me.
Picture this. Pretend I just joined the site today. This is what my intro post would probably look like:
"Hello everyone. You can call me Gryff. I'm a fauntaur otherkin. It's a term I made up to put together all of the bits and pieces of my identity. A fauntaur is basically a faun, but it's demonic in a way, and can possibly change the number of legs it has. Given my obsession with transformation and some brief meditations, I believe my kin nature comes from being a victim of a forced transformation in a past life, though I'm far from sure about that."
I wouldn't blame anyone for reading that and thinking I was either a troll or out of my mind. So what I'm saying is, I'm trying to go into "unusual" introductions with a more open mind.
I have more to talk about, so I may post again later in the day. Right now, back to work.
The title of this post is pretty generic, but I did have a specific song in mind: "Remember Me" by Hoobastank.
Or more accurately, I am home! I just returned home from my trip to Europe. My friend and I visited London, Paris, and Cardiff in the past week and a half or so. It's been a lot of fun, and I have a lot to share.
I'll start off with the stuff that's most relevant to this particular site: we visited a number of art galleries during the trip, most significantly the Louvre in Paris and the British Museum in London. Frankly, I was amazed at how often centaurs appeared in the artwork. Not just pieces from ancient Greece, either; there were several examples of centaurs in works by Italian and French artists. I found a few fauns and satyrs (meaning the original definition) too. I've taken pictures of just about every example I passed, which I'll share in a future blog entry.
Now, for other highlights. For fans of theater, we went to three excellent plays in London that I highly recommend should you find yourself there. The first was "The Mousetrap," a whodunnit play by Agatha Christie that's been running for 60 years. It's a classic and well written mystery, and the actors were excellent. The second was a comedy called "The Play That Goes Wrong," which is largely what it sounds like. It's set up as a play that's similar to "The Mousetrap," but just about everything that can go wrong, does. The comedic timing is perfect and the set effects are excellent in terms of adding to the humor and the meta-plot. If fourth wall humor is your thing, it's perfect. Finally, we saw a play by the same production group called "The Comedy About a Bank Robbery," which again is pretty much exactly what it sounds like. Both plays are full of slapstick humor and perfectly executed jokes.
We did a couple of notably geeky things too. For one, we traveled to Cardiff, Wales for the purpose of checking out The Doctor Who Experience. The first part of this is an interactive walk through experience, which casts your group as visitors to the Gallifrey Museum. Through video and special effects, the group has to travel in the Tardis and through landscapes full of Daleks and Weeping Angels to help The Doctor save time and space. This features unique video of the current Doctor, Peter Capaldi, and while it's largely meant for kids, it's a lot of fun for adult fans too. After the interactive part, you enter a two floor museum of props and costumes from the show. Monster costumes, outfits from all 13 Doctors, Tardis props, and more.
We also did some filming location tours: one for Doctor Who in Cardiff, and one for Harry Potter in London. On the former we saw the fountain that is now known as "Torchwood Tower," the building used for various hospitals in the show (the real life version of New Earth's hospital does have a little shop), and a number of restaurants featured in the show. We even ate at the American diner previously visited by the 11th and 12th Doctors. On the latter, we saw both entrances to The Leaky Cauldron, the bridge destroyed in The Half Blood Prince, both entrances to the Ministry of Magic, and of course Platform 9 3/4.
There's even more, but this is already a long post. I'm glad to be back though!
Clearly the world is messing with me. It began on Thursday, when I was looking into a portable game to buy for my upcoming long trip to Europe. I came upon the Vita port of Odin Sphere, which looked pretty good. I mentioned this in a comment on my last post, and in a thread in the advice circle forum. I decided to look into the playable characters, and I found that one of them undergoes FT. So now I'm trying to decide if I want to play the game on the trip, or at all for that matter, given that it may cause problems for me.
Then, on Friday, I got a double dose of running into kin related things. After work I decided to walk around downtown Chicago and play Pokémon Go. I wandered into a Disney store, and just moments after I entered, the screens in the store started playing a clip from a Disney movie that involves FT and takes it rather seriously. I actually had avoided that movie for a while after seeing trailers. I'm almost embarrassed to say the name of the movie, so I'm just going to say that it wasn't Brave and let you fill in the rest.
Then, I wandered past the old water tower gallery, where Cards Against Humanity had an exhibition going on, believe it or not. You might know that they recently bought an original Picasso painting, which was displayed at this exhibition. You might not know that the painting is called “Tête de Faune” (“Faun Head” in French basically) and it’s exactly what it sounds like. That's “faun” as in satyr, or dare I say, as in “fauntaur.” It didn't bother me so much, but in such proximity to the other two it was really strange, since none of them were expected.
So yeah, it was an interesting, and it does almost feel like the world is trying to upset me. Darn you world! But the only thing that's a lingering issue is Odin Sphere and whether I should play it. And speaking of Odin Sphere and the world, as I mentioned before, I'm about to go on a long trip to Europe, so you probably won't hear much from me for two weeks after Friday. If you live in or around London, let me know; maybe we'll run into each other. As for the game, well, see my thoughts for that on the forum.