vixenmage: (icarus)
Sometimes I get to Civ class and nobody's there yet, and I spend the next ten minutes wondering if I hallucinated that class, if I've just been sitting in an empty room one night a week all semester. It's unsettling how much of a relief it is when somebody else walks in.

Last night when I went out to my car from the grocery store, there was a dark grey pigeon walking past it. Pigeons are diurnal, so I was weirded out. I put the groceries in the car, and then walked around to see if it was okay, but it wasn't there anymore. I'm still not sure if it flew away, or if it was never there in the first place.

I'm considering giving up driving for the semester. But I have to get to class from work, and the only way to do that without being late or giving up hours is to drive.

I might give up wearing fitted t-shirts without a sweatshirt over them, too. I really, really don't like when I'm doing something and guys keep talking to me? That sounds wrong, but it's a weird Really Friendly sort of talking that I am inclined to think of as flirting, but I can't really tell for sure? It's just annoying when I'm trying to do something. And they stand too close. And life is just that much easier when people can't tell what gender I am.

Sometimes I want to go back in time and punch Thomas Jefferson in the face for his "the tree of liberty must be watered with the blood of patriots and tyrants" quote. God, people repeat that shit as if it was infallible. It was hotly contested at the time! By a lot of people, some of whom were also founding fathers! Like Abigail Adams! Man, she was awesome.

The deeper we get into Ethics in Journalism, the tougher the questions get. Last week was a bunch of stuff on cooperating with the cops, this week is a bunch of stuff on anonymous sources. [The case: your college has made it mandatory to submit papers in a format that requires expensive software downloads. Some students have figured out how to copy the software, and are freely distributing it around campus; they agree to talk to you, but only if you obscure their names and faces. Later, the police go after them for copyright infringement.] "Would you identify the students? Would you change your mind when lawyers begin to talk about how long your stay in the county jail might be?"

And that's one of the more clear-cut ones, actually. For me, anyway; I'm an open-source fan, and I've joined technically-terrorist organizations before, and stuck around after the state started going "Stop that!" It never came to police action, but I made up my mind about then that if the right thing, as I saw it, diverged with what the law said... I'd rather be right than legal.

Anyway. Classes are good, I'm still working on stories - both news and fiction - and reading whenever I have to walk places (yeah yeah yeah, I'm careful), and actually getting along at work. I got sick of waiting for my hair to grow out and spent a careful hour with scissors chopping it off. It's nicely shortened, now. I figure I can always pick up a wig, if... well, I can always pick up a wig.

H'm. I do have to work tomorrow, and I do have to finish this set of briefs for the radio people before tomorrow morning. Back to work, then!
vixenmage: (icarus)
You are not allowed to give up; you are not allowed to stop trying. You must put your all into this, every time, denying any weakness, throwing all of your efforts into one. You must not let yourself be denied. If you push and are rebuffed, push again - and again, and again, and again, every attempt must be perfect, and every repetition better than the last. You will not allow yourself to be shot down, and so you must persevere always, no matter the cost. You must finish, you must succeed, and you must do it to the maximum satisfaction. Compromise is not an option. Failure is not an option. You must follow all commands with pleasure and determination, carry out all orders as if they meant your life or death. You must concede all demands, deny your desires, and fall into place as planned. You must follow the plan. You must improve the plan. You must carry out the plan to the letter, never change it. You must know where the plan needs a change, and enact those changes without hesitation. You must not balk. You must be strong. You cannot move without confirmation. You need the independence to move without confirmation. You should seek for the best. You need to fall back when ordered; you need to push forward at all times. You should always be striving harder. You must not give in.

You must be able to take this lightly; you must always take this seriously.

You must never give up, unless ordered to give up.

You must accede that the failure was your own fault, and you must never, ever fail.

You must give up when ordered to give up; if you give up, you were not strong enough.

You must always strive to be stronger.

You cannot carry this alone; you cannot ask for help.

You are not allowed to stop trying. You cannot believe that your efforts are not enough, but you must realize that you will never be enough. You should not blame yourself, but you must be aware that it is all your fault. You are not allowed to give up. You are not allowed to opt out. You must remember, at all times, no matter what, to

always

think

positive

Light?

May. 5th, 2012 12:26 am
vixenmage: (existentialist)
The colors are back.

I can see colors again! I can see colors.

When I am depressed... well, I don't see black and white. But the world loses its lustre. I don't know how else to put it. When I'm seriously depressed, everything loses... loses. I don't have words for it. When my brain is working, I look at the world and see COLORS. I see shapes, and lines, and I can stare at a fountain for hours and all the silvery motion of the curve of the water falling, and the light playing off of each surface of every drop and splash, and it's incredible and beautiful and pulls my entire attention. Until I look up, and see the contrast of the dark sky behind it, and the electric light putting every individual oak leaf into silhouette, and above, the stars...

To look up, and see every blue in the dusky sky, and the black silhouette of every tree against it and how it looks just a little bit purple, where it is turning, and on the other side the clouds still hold a fading light in orange, and all the world is quiet darkness broken up by light, shattering beams of sharp-edged white that come and go, and leave you blinking at the bat that scoops down and up again, and the soft yellow-orange monochromatic puddles that linger at the edge of the curb...

I missed that feeling. God, this world is so very beautiful. And I love seeing it, actually seeing it, and the only thing about depression that sucks worse than the apathy (and the constant-tiredness) (and the emotional sharp edges) (and the tears that are never more than a few words away) (and the pain) (and the brain-weasels who never stop telling you how worthless you are)... is the lack of beauty, or the inability to see it. Yeah, sure, I see beauty, but my eyes don't dive into it, I don't drink it in with all my soul and revel in the love and the intricacy of it.

My writer-brain is back.

I hear music again.

I walk, and I see leaves in all the colors of green that can be seen, and the light shining through them makes a tapestry of motion and soft translucent life, and I hear music instead of hearing background music while my brain screams at itself in fury.

Hello, writer-brain. I missed you.
vixenmage: St. Francis wiv a bird on 'is haid! (Default)
Lately, this has been on my mind rather a lot. I've been thinking about writing something and submitting it to TBAT for Slacktiverse, something about how the focus on obedience and submission... basically fucks people up, probably with an emphasis on women-- the only initial reservation being that, although I read every post there, I comment once in a blue moon. The slightly more worrying reservation is that every time I start writing it in my head, it gets so personal I change my mind, both about publicizing it and about it being able to help other people. But I'll sketch something out here, and see if I can figure it out. After all, the more I find out about my childhood, the more I realize how much I have in common with other people raised in RTC households.

So here's the thing. I am, by nature, incredibly submissive. If you know me in person, you might find it incredibly hard to believe, though-- in a weird subversion, evolving Fundamentalist culture has beaten the submissiveness out of me. My family remembers it. My dad has jokingly told my sister not to worry about being a brat when she was younger, because obviously she'd look like one next to a goody two-shoes like me. I hate confrontation, always have, and as a child, I rarely questioned the adults in my world (which was very small).

See, here's how my siblings and I, and all the kids in our church, were raised. Obey. Obey your parents, for that is God's Will. Obey God, in all things. Submit to the authorities that God has placed over you; questioning that authority is disobedience in and of itself. The only time this is incorrect is if an authority gives you a command that is clearly against God's commandments-- and in that case, God's direct authority trumps the earthly ones. Over time, and talking to others raised in this subculture, I've learned that for a lot of people, this was what drove them to question. They asked questions, and got smacked down repeatedly, and this only made them question harder, and in the end, rebel. My older sister is one such woman. I am not.

Obedience and submission were overwhelmingly easy for me. Obviously, since I was a kid, fairly smart and active, I got into trouble, did stuff I shouldn't have, snuck around with my brother, etc. I'm not saying I was Elsie Dinsmore or anything like that. It was just that, although I questioned the physical world around me, I never even considered questioning authority. If my parents, or the pastor, or the church adults, said it, it was true. Always. If the Bible (KJV, of course) said it, it was true. Always. This was a fact of the world, as surely as the Sun came up every morning and rain fell from the clouds and mulberries were delicious. (We had a tree in our backyard. One of the happiest memories of my childhood is climbing that tree to sit and read, and daydream, and eat mulberries until the ripe ones were all out of reach.)

Then my mother lost her mind. She fell, so gracefully nobody noticed until it was too late, from average, run-of-the-mill RTC paranoia, into Paranoid Schizophrenia (and, as we found out years later, Bipolar Disorder). I'll skip over the more painful details of that. Most of it went over my head at the time-- I have a lot of memories that had very little meaning for me until I was years older. But suddenly, authority became pretty absurd. My siblings disobeyed because it was the right thing to do-- sneaking my father's ammunition and vital parts to his guns out of the house, to him, because they caught on much faster than I did and realized that my mother should absolutely not have access to that stuff.

This became a running theme. I was blind to the abuses of authority that were going on around me, because in my mind, authority was never wrong. My siblings, the natural questioners, the rebels, were always on the ball - they grasped that my mother was not in her right mind, and they acted to prevent things from going wrong. I did not. It wasn't until years later that the questions were catalyzed in my mind.

One of my mother's decisions was to enroll us in a private Christian school - she managed, if I recall, to get scholarships for the older three of us. This was a nightmare for all of us; we were the weird kids, the outcasts, the ones who never fit in. Even at eight, the feeling that there was something wrong with me came through loud and clear. But I was good at classes - I could read very quickly, and had excellent reading comprehension, and I grasped concepts pretty well. Even terribly broken ones, like "The world is 6,000 years old, and dinosaur bones/Mesopotamian culture can be used to prove it."

But in fourth grade or so, something changed. When I was much younger, probably six or seven, I'd read The Hiding Place, a book by Corrie ten Boom about her life, focusing on her family's efforts to hide Jews from the Nazis. I'd read it a few times since, loved it, and had certain parts memorized, so when it was assigned in class, I was ecstatic. There's one passage - one of the ones I'd memorized - about a failed romance in Corrie's life. She falls for a man named Karel, he falls back, they spend days walking in the garden, talking, and then she doesn't see him for a long period of time. The next time they see each other, he's with his fiancee; he tells her, "I can't marry you. My mother would kill me." Corrie is, of course, heartbroken, and her father consoles her not with the 'false words' that 'there will be another,' but with sincerity and love.

When our English teacher reached this passage, she told us that the point of it was that Corrie had gone against God's will by 'dating' a man not approved by their families. The point, she told us, was that courtship was the only Godly means of finding a spouse, and the heartbreak was God's way of punishing Corrie for disobeying him.

This made me unspeakably angry. I sat there, trying not to betray the thoughts in my head, which were screaming at how wrong that was. I'd been telling stories for years. To entertain my siblings, friends, or myself-- or simply because the story came to me and wanted to be told. To hear this-- to hear an authority someone who I trusted, lying about a story... it broke something in me. Worse yet, the story was about her life! This was a woman, brave, accomplished, truly amazing, and this teacher, who I trusted and respected, was lying about her life story.

I was utterly furious. I never said anything until years later, but it burned in me, and it burned through the walls I'd built up around 'authority.' My mother had been wrong, I knew, because she was sick, somehow, in her head. This made it different. But now, other things showed up. My dad said things that weren't right. He wasn't always fair. My grandparents, in whose house we were living, were not always right. The teachers protected the school bullies, because they were usually their children, even when they were blatantly lying. The teachers lied about stories. What else were they lying about? My father started dating, and he sometimes didn't come back at night. He didn't keep his promises. My grandmother lied to us about some things. Sometimes she was unjust. My grandfather was unjust sometimes. The youth pastors said things that I knew not to be true.

After a lifetime of trusting authority implicitly as an extension of God's Will, something inside of me snapped. I stopped obeying. I stopped submitting. I stopped trusting. Lesson learned: authorities always lie. People in power cannot be trusted. Everybody lies.

I intentionally went against the grain in highschool, and middle school. I was smart, and shy, so teachers liked me. And I hated that. They were liars! They said things that weren't true, they used their power to hurt-- freed from those walls, I now saw that everywhere-- and I didn't want their, or anybody's, favor. There were some exceptions - the music teacher, who talked about his experience playing in bars, and the biblical references in so much music. Our English teacher, who was pretty fair and sparked my continual interest in mythology. In highschool, things got worse. In classes where the teachers were honest with us, I worked hard and tried. In classes where I could tell the teachers didn't really care about questioning, truth, learning-- especially where they were openly dishonest or showed favoritism-- I actively worked to earn their dislike. I snarked openly. I asked questions, usually because I wanted to know the answers, but also because it drove them crazy. I did my work, and did it right, and so couldn't simply be failed. I was just a Problem Student.

In my senior year, for an English class that I loved, with a teacher who taught me, more or less, how to write, I wrote an essay about the role of Guildenstern, in "Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead." I called it 'The Questioner,' and drew the conclusion that some of us in life-- such as myself-- could not help questioning, no matter what, even when the answers made no sense, even when there were no answers, even when the answers led to death. We questioned, or we died. We questioned even if we died.

In that respect, the breaking of that trust made me a better person. I like being a Guilenstern. It's important. It's not always fun, and it sometimes gives you a lot of enemies, but it's necessary.

A less enjoyable result of that is the loss of trust, and this is where Fundamentalist subculture seriously messes kids up. If you are raised thinking that all authorities are infallible, if you are trusting enough to believe that, you are screwed as an adult. Because someday, somehow, you are inevitably going to learn the truth. And it is going to hurt. And if you're lucky, you recover and realize that people are fallible, not malicious. And if you're unlucky, the lesson you learn is that no one can be trusted, ever, for anything. And no matter how hard you try to rid yourself of that, to be more trusting, it is internalized pretty hard. And no matter how hard you try, you now know that to submit to someone's authority, to obey someone, for any reason, is a trust. And you can't do it. You can't not question. Even someone you do trust, which is hard enough to find.

I can't figure out a conclusion to this. It ends on a pretty bleak note. My friends are some of the people I trust most in this world. One of them is a guy I work with, who has been my boss/supervisor for about three years now. He's one of the most trustworthy people I know, in most ways, and among my closest friends. And I still question every mundane thing he asks me to do. And I still find it hard to obey him. He says "We don't have time for that now," I look into the bag anyway, without even realizing what I'm doing. And then reality smacks me upside the head, and I put it aside. My brain's immediate response to 'obedience' is a visceral, snarling rejection. Same with submission.

Yeah, I doubt this is ever going anywhere but into my own journal. Fundamentalist subculture is fucked up, yo.

PS: This song is what originally triggered this memory, some years ago, and that's what eventually helped me connect the dots as to how, with the personality I have, I have become the spiky-haired, defiant, untrusting coyote that I am.
vixenmage: (existentialist)
...Okay, I need to do more writing in Barnes & Noble. That cafe, with Kafka staring through the fourth wall, straight, as all the other writers lounge and grin, is what I need.

“I’m not really… coming back. For that,” she continued, not without a sense of some discomfort. “A friend of mine asked me to talk to you – as a favor.”

He snickered, a rather nasty note creeping into the tone, and shook his head. “And what makes you think I’ll help you out of yet another one of your little jams?”

She started to answer, but a voice boomed down from the heavens, and Rolf snorted.

“Oh, so now you’re actually audible?” Piper, getting confused, said nothing. Rolf was not looking at her – or even in her direction, she realized. “Are you so desperate, so early?” he asked. “And I could very well have been speaking to the girl, you know,” he added. “She is my apprentice.”

“I
was your apprentice,” Piper corrected him, automatically. He gave her an inscrutable look, and she fell silent once more, feeling more and more out of her depth.

“That, too, actually,” he continued. “That really isn’t fair of you. I am not that bad.”

“You were more –” Piper started, then stopped in fear of an oncoming glare – which never arrived. Instead, Rolf looked at her somewhat curiously, as though seeing her for the first time.

“Aren’t you laying it on a little thick?” There was a long silence, which did absolutely nothing to ease the tension whatsoever. At all.

“Our narrator, “ he said finally, “Is strangely silent on the matter. I suspect you – your personality, really – turned out differently than she thought, and the dystopia is not as… dystopian, I suppose, as it was meant to be.”

Piper seized the only word that made sense, albeit probably from one of Kyle’s rants, or even all of them, actually. “Dystopia? You mean… this world?”

He nodded. “Too idealistic would be my guess. She tries to be cynical, but it takes more of a cynic to write a truly dystopian world. Get too idealistic, and you see your own world as a dystopia for not living up to snuff – which makes it far too hard to imagine and write about things getting worse, somehow.”

The girl looked absolutely mystified, and said nothing in response.
Rolf looked at her, shrugged resolutely, and leaned back in his chair, looking lonelier than Piper ever remembered seeing him. She felt guilty for a moment. “If you don’t understand the implications of any of that,” he said quietly – Piper shook her head, apologetic – “Then I am allowed some bitterness, I think.” Musing for a moment, he added, “And don’t feel bad. There’s nothing you can do, Piper.”


I feel guilty. But he would be disgusted if I just sugar-landed it. Maybe I should? No. That won't do anything. Story is Story. And he KNOWS that, which makes it so much worse. I'm really glad, if this is a novel, that I can't hear the narration - any of it.
vixenmage: (icarus)
Every now and then, I have this whole internal conversation where I wonder, yet again, what strange things my upbringing did to my psyche. Today, I was contemplating the terror implanted in every Good And Righteous And Godfearing Baptist (heh, just realized how appropriate that is, for the topic at hand), all through growing up.

See, I will argue to the death, however lightheartedly, that Catholic GuiltTM has absolutely nothing on Baptist Guilt, which is so mind-altering that there aren't enough subversive/escaped Baptists out there to make it a culture-thing. See, Catholics, from what I understand, are told that the very act of procreation is a sin, so they're born of sin, into sin, to sin, etc. Baptists, on the other hand, are told something that I believe is -technically- more accurate, but in such a way, given the theology and psychology of the sect, as to be so, so much worse. Baptists are told that every human is born pure and innocent, but chooses to sin. On the one hand, I completely believe that babies are pure and innocent! Annoying? Yes. Ye gods and little fishes, they are annoying. But innocent.

But... that's not what I remember. Not "Ah, the innocence of babes," but "Oh my GOD, I chose to sin! I don't even remember it, but one of my first conscious acts was to choose disobedience and tip myself over into sin, rather than innocence! I am a MONSTER!" And... that kind of stays with you. That doesn't go away.

Baptist guilt. And, on the heels of Baptist guilt, Baptist terror. My family/church (the church, at the time when my conscious memory picked up, had just shifted from about twenty-thirty people who met in an elementary school basement to three or four (admittedly huge) families who met in the pastor's living room (and basement, for the kids)) believed rather strongly in The Rapture, and that it could come at any moment, and that you would, if you were not Ready, be *Left BehindTM for... oh, what is it, seven and a half years? of horrible, horrible, HORRIBLE death and blood and pain and annhilation, wherein would be the constant temptation to just give in and join the Antichrist and his hordes, and if you did your life would be way easier, but also if you did, you would immediately be rejected from Christ forever and condemned to Hell (unless you later cut the Mark of the Beast, probably, according to what I remember, a microchip (HAHA! I just remembered! My mom used to rant about the chips they put in dogs, so that shelters the country over can return them to their owners by finding the chip on the computer network, and how they're a precursor to this! ...wow, she was fucking crazy), off, which meant either ripping the skin off your forehead, or cutting off your right hand, you could get back in.

...Anyway. When you're a Good And Righteous Baptist, you live in constant fear of not being good enough, of blaspheming unintentionally, of pissing off somehow the Vengeful god of the skies universe, who will strike you down and condemn you to hell if you show a sign of weakness.

The self-loathing that comes along with all that-- at least, it did for me-- is a topic for another day, and also a topic for a different, probably less public, forum. The thing is, sometimes I understand and empathize with Baptists, even the contemptible, detestable, and pitiable, Fred Phelps. ...Well, his congregation, anyway. He's just a... I don't know if there's an appropriate word (by which I don't mean "not profanity," I mean I honestly don't think the English language has a word for what he is, which I'm actually a little bit glad for. I like this language.) Because, you see, they're all terrified witless. They're afraid if they show a little empathy, a little care, a little, Heaven Forbid, love, to their neighbor, they'll be contaminated. God won't love them anymore, because they have Taken Sides Against His Doctrine, and they'll be condemned to eternal torment.

...For loving their neighbor.

And that's why I rant and rave and rail against most of Christendom, most of the time, and will still defend the religion itself to the death, quite literally, because another Baptist trait that seems to have embedded itself into my psyche is the irrational tendency towards martyr-worship.

Love thy God, with all thy heart, and all thy soul, and all thy mind. Love thy neighbor as thyself. And if you ask how to love thy God? "Feed my sheep." Not 'kill, maim, and destroy any who disagree with you,' not 'make everyone around you as miserable as you can,' but "Feed my lambs."

So... yeah.

This rant may or may not have been brought on by my frustration with my inability to do everything right the first try, or even the second, or by not having eaten more than a roll of bread and a brownie all day, (although the brownie was excellent-- woot for Starbucks) or by my sheer irritation at winding up as a manager at my second job, despite protesting to a friend, more than once, that I would only be dragged into a management job kicking and screaming, especially at that job.

Quoth she, earlier this evening:
(This was after explaining that I wished I could've just said no, but there's... nobody else. And I take some small comfort in the fact that I probably can't do any worse than the thieving, alcoholic, heroin addict who I'm replacing.)
July: You're a natural manager.
VM: I am not.
July: Are too.
VM: I hate authority, I hate bossing people around, I hate being in control, I hate being the responsible party.
VM: I am the opposite of a natural manager.
July: You're like Vimes, y'know.
VM: I am NOT!
VM: I mean, I like Vimes!
VM: He's my favorite character!
VM: But I am not like him at all. At all.
July: Look at what you said.
July: Think about how he is.
VM: ...
VM: oh, fuck.


Or it might be because my brain is acting up and making me neurotic (moreso than usual), and because I'm getting paranoid about everything, or because my back is sore from lifting boxes, or because I'm operating on little sleep and way too much angst and paranoia. But it'll work out. I'll keep ranting until sleep knocks me out with a club and I wake up for work tomorrow.


*The World's Worst Books, as wonderfully dissected by the amazing Fred Clarke, at Slacktivist

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vixenmage: St. Francis wiv a bird on 'is haid! (Default)
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