Let’s Get Existential

Continuing a trend of being very cerebral recently, lets kick it up a notch and take a close inspection of myself.

While I’m certainly not ever going to be a great philosopher (we reserve titles like that for Ian Tewid) I have definitely been trying to understand the components of myself and my life.  I do this to try and figure out how I got where I am.  Sounds like a simple question.  I grew up, I went to college, I got jobs.  I was me- how hard can that be to figure out?

Those don’t hold up to scrutiny when I look back in my life.  I got good grades in school because I would get into trouble if I didn’t.  I went and graduated college because I grew up my entire life being corn.  I got a job when I was younger because my parents pushed me to do it.  I learned to drive and develop skills because it was expected of me.

So lets ask the golden question: was I really in control of my life?  Did I do those things because I wanted to?

I would argue in most cases that no, I didn’t really want to do those things.  My mom, like many who want the absolute best for their child, tried to get me to do so much stuff when I was younger.  I remember being in tee ball, baseball (I think), soccer, taekwondo, and learning the violin.  Middle school it was basketball, drafting and guitar.  In high school it was polo shirts and blue jeans.  She had this vision for me of being the varsity jacket wearing prep boy.

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I’ll make diamonds of her hopes and drams.

I feel bad because if you remember anything about me from high school, that must’ve been a huge fishnet shirt wearing surprise.

And I just remember not wanting to do that stuff.  I wanted to play video games and watch anime.  So much of my time was doing things I didn’t want to do, but I had to do them.  They became chores.

And that has definitely spilled over into adulthood.  I hate making plans even today because I feel like I’m a kid again who has to go do something because my parents want me to.

The only thing I was really into was girls and sex.  Wisconsin Sex Ed. totally did not prepare me for this shit.  So when girls started having hormones like me, and even more surprising, started having sex with me- it’s all I cared about.  Having a girlfriend became the one locus of my identity that I chose.  

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I’m still not sure what the banana was for but boy was my girlfriend surprised.

So from high school forward, I spent most of my time and energy figuring out how to spend as little time and energy doing the things I didn’t want to do.  In school I only took classes that I was already naturally good at.  I’d switch out of classes that I wasn’t already familiar with.  Same thing in college.  For my classes I picked the ones I had essentially already taken before (I.E.  Basic physics and math).

I didn’t want to spend time and energy doing other stuff.  I never tried to challenge myself.  I never really explored other opportunities because I didn’t want to put forth the effort.

And now I sit before my work desk feeling like I’ve made a mistake.

While I enjoy doing 3D rendering work in theory- I feel like all this internal exploring has stifled my desire to do this.  I feel so bored now.  Its the same thing over and over.  My days drag on forever.  Am I really doing what I want to do?

A while back I was hanging with my buddies Dan, Kyle, and Fry.  Yes from Futurama.  They had the newer season of BattleBots on the TV.  We all got sucked into it.

I really got sucked into it.  Especially the behind the scenes stuff where you see the teams repairing their robots.  The metal working tools and electronics looked so interesting.  I’ve always wished that I had more aptitude for this stuff.

I started thinking.  Why don’t I learn how to do this?  It’s actually something that’s always fascinated me.  I love metal working shops, 3D printers, and laser cutters.  Those crazy kits my cousin used to get that let him build remote controlled arms and shit.  Why did I never learn how to use them?  Those Principles of Technology classes in high school were awesome.  Why didn’t I do more and learn how to solder circuit boards?  Create rigs?  Learn scripting and coding?

Because I’ve never done it before.  Because it would be hard.  And hard things are like chores.

For an internship I had to do for high school I shadowed a biomedical engineer at the local hospital.  She showed me how to fix various break downs.  We also got to replace the ceramic container inside a refrigerated centrifuge.  Holy crap it was cool getting all the wires reconnected and watching it slowly come back to life.

Similarly, in college I remember hearing about the earliest versions of prosthetic limbs made in 3D printers.  I remember 3D printing my first abstract shape in college and thinking to myself, “I am a polymer God!”

So why am I not doing that either?

Why not do both and make robotic prosthetic limbs?

Would I feel more satisfied with my work?  Less confused about my path?  More passionate?

Speaking of passion- I see so many of my friends be like head over heels in love with their hobbies.  I don’t feel that.  I haven’t really played a game or read a book that had my chomping at the bit to get home and do again.  Not since I was younger.  I would straight up run home from the bus and kick on the PS2 to play Kingdom Hearts or Megaman Legends.

Where is that passion now?

I greatly enjoy comics, books, and video games; but it’s been a long time since I felt that keening adrenaline in my chest.  I used to feel that when I would go play Pump It Up back in the day.  Finding a parking spot felt like an eternity because all I wanted to do was get on that dance pad.

I by no means am sad or bored with life.  But I do feel like a key component of myself went missing.  I was reading some really old Facebook conversations a few months ago.  Old friends, classmates, ex-girlfriends and family.  I used to be so different.  So lively.  I used to be fucking hilarious.  When did that shift?

The obvious point is that there was a pretty significant shift early in 2013.  My girlfriend at the time dumped me and that signaled an “end of an era” for me.  It was a pretty brutal breakup for me and it demanded that I grow a “self respect.”

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It wasn’t a sword in my heart, but paychecks that I got to keep.

What a wonderful thing to have in my back pocket.  Self respect is pretty cool.  Now when people disrespect me I get mad!  And that’s important!

It probably was the very start of me evaluating who I had become.  It was the end of my locus being external and rooted in my current lover.  I became very selfish (in a healthy way).  I was doing things I wanted to do instead of always worrying about the wants and needs of another.

But then it went too far.  I didn’t want to be selfish, impulsive, or a dick.  I spent a lot of time re-applying my self evaluations of me.  Dismantling the motivations for my actions, dismantling the actions of others.  Trying to peer behind the curtains.  Trying to find out why people acted the way they did.  Why I acted the way I did.

And now that’s become what I do.  In my quiet moments, in my free time ; constantly trying to make sure that I make no assumptions, that I make fewer mistakes, that I piss off less people.  Still trying to keep myself on a path I care about, but now I spend my energy trying desperately not to be like the people that irritate me.

Is that causing me to forget who I am or used to be?  When I was younger I felt like I was funnier, more present, and definitely more concentrated in my personality.

Now that I’m constantly walking on eggshells so that I don’t become someone I don’t like- I feel like I have essentially stifled the ability to become someone.

I am a person trying really hard not to become a person.

Sounds confusing but its a pretty profound thought for me.  By essentially spending too much time trying not to be someone I hate- I have prevented myself from being someone.  Quirks, mistakes, and impulses are what make the people we love people and all I’ve tried to do is suppress that in myself.  Who am I?  I am the result of making my personality more digestible for people around me.

So who the fuck am I?  Am I anyone?  What defines me as me if being me is dependent on those around me.

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So the existential statement that almost literally occurred to me in a dream:

I have spent most of my life trying not to do things.

Not doing anything new or hard because it required effort, and not being a person because I’m afraid of who I might become.

So whats the solution?

I’m doing my damnedest to just be, instead of evaluating what being me is.

And I’m going to build a motherfucking robot someday.

And boy howdy it will suck if I find this profound answer in my life and then I’m like, “God fucking damnit building robots suuuuuuucks.”

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Or it’ll be fucking awesome.

-DTM

My Long Awaited Return

Hello, readers. It is I, Emily, returned from Australia where I did perfectly normal things, like visit the zoo, lay on the beach, and eat human food like Tim Tams and Vegemite. It was a very exciting vacation and we…I mean I am here to tell you all about it, like a normal human does.

I am most definitely not a spider in disguise. No, that’s absurd. It would take more than 200 hundred spiders to impersonate Emily…I mean me. Haha, that’s very silly. Very, very silly.

byronspiderAnyway, the trip started with a trip to Byron Bay. Byron Bay is an adorable little town filled with humans and too many birds and lizards for my liking. We went shopping, had delicious human food, and visited the most Eastern point of the continent. That is where we first spotted Emily….I mean, that is where I saw my first Australian wildlife, including a wallaby, a boa constrictor, dolphins, and sea turtles. There were also a few spiders.

kangaroospiderThe next day we went to the Currumbin Animal Sanctuary. There we fed the nasty lorikeets and saw plenty of lizards, as well as koalas and kangaroos. We also saw lots of mosquitos and flies. We-I was very hungry by the end of the day.

We also went to Brisbane during our…my vacation and went to visit, Tamborine Mountian, the Australia Zoo, and Underwater World. There were lots of interesting, human things to do. Too many to recall off the top of my head. I was so very excited and my tiny human brain just can’t comprehend the excitement.

Humans are notorious for their tiny brains. That is why they’re so easily destroyed by mosquitoes, flies, and other insects. We humans are also prone to killing spiders, which is not acceptable. At least, Emily…I mean I find it unacceptable.

nimbinspiderContinuing with my story, after returning from Brisbane, we…and when I say we, I mean me and the human named Michael….we visited Nimbin, which I believe is the marijuana capital of Australia. The humans in this city were dull and complacent, and perfect. Perfect…meaning they’re easy to work with. Yes.

To end our trip, I and the Michael human climbed Mount Warning. Mount Warning is a beautiful mountain full of lots of bugs and birds and spiders. Lots and lots of spiders, which Emily…I mean I enjoyed. I enjoy spiders. I accept spiders. I love spiders.

It was a very pleasant trip and I would go again to Australia. It was a wonderful country, full of lots and lots of beautiful arachnids. Unfortunately, the rest of the world does not appreciate spiders like the Australians do. It has taken lots of diplomatic trips to bring the humans even this far toward spider acceptance, and humans have a long way to go.

Humans will accept spiders one day. One day they will understand the awesome power of spiders.

I mean, yes, you would enjoy Australia. You should go there.

-EMS

Tweeting with a Human

The internet has brought a lot of people a lot closer together.  The rise of blogging, vlogging, YouTube and other internet platforms have thrown a lot of interesting people into the lime light.

The personalized medium makes many people feel like they know these pseudo-celebrities on a more intimate level than they do.  Even when these people haven’t even met these celebrities.  I feel this way myself!

I am an avid Game Grumps fan.  I feel like I know who those people are.  They present themselves in a very candid, personal way.  I’ve heard many of their stories and life events.  I know a lot about these people who I’ve never even laid eyes on.

The thing is if I ever met them it wouldn’t be appropriate for me to approach them in a candid, personal way.  I interact with these people online presence everyday, and its really easy to forget that they don’t know me like I feel like I know them.

I personally wouldn’t accost one of these internet celebrities.  They don’t know me, and even though I feel personally connected to them, I’m not.  They probably aren’t ever going to be a friend of mine.  I’m a stranger.  They have millions of these people who feel close to them, and they can’t possibly have serious friendships with most of these people.  I’m sure they’d love to try, but they aren’t timeless gods.

Its been mentioned a lot by these people how hard it is sometimes to deal with people who want to make them a fixture in their life.  Markiplier mentioned once that he actually had to move because some of his fans found his apartment and bothered him at odd times.  The Game Grumps get stopped at the most banal of places.  They talk about how sometimes its very exhausting to try and maintain a good face after the bazillionth fan has said hello, wanted a photo or autograph.

I’m reading a series by one of my favorite authors Django Wexler.  His books have a feel to them that I can’t find elsewhere.  The lore is deep, the world is complex, and his characters feel real.  I get excited about this stuff, and it makes me interested in the person who crafted this world.

I tweeted at him one day.  I don’t remember exactly what it was, but he favorited the tweet.  Its kind of exciting!  Someone you only know in the abstract, identifiable by his famous persona, acknowledged your existence.

The craziest part is the fact that the next time he straight up tweeted back at me.  I tweet at him on a semi-regular basis.  Most of the time I’m quipping at something he says or is doing.  He tweets back at me occasionally.  I have had entire brief conversations with him via twitter, and it makes me feel cool.

The thing is he isn’t trying to live up to some personality I’ve assigned him.  He’s just a man who writes books I love.  He plays games like I do, and has a handful of similar interests.  We are able to connect across these distances and converse about very human things.  That idea right there is what I think many people don’t consider when they see or meet a celebrity.  They are only human.  And I think we as a people would do to remember that at their core, all people are just… people.

I actually got to meet Django recently at Powell’s for a book signing.  He graciously signed all of my original hard covers and he gave me some totally sweet metal engraved book marks.  I introduced myself to him as Daniel, and that I tweet at him too much.

He recognized my twitter handle.  Should I be honored, or embarrassed?  Ha!

-DTM