🌞 California Update 2 🌯

Tuesday, July 28, 2020 :: Tagged under: blurb pablolife essay. ⏰ 6 minutes.

Hey! Thanks for reading! Just a reminder that I wrote this some years ago, and may have much more complicated feelings about this topic than I did when I wrote it. Happy to elaborate, feel free to reach out to me! 😄

🎵 The song for this post is No Diggity, by Blackstreet feat. Dr. Dre and Queen Pen. 🎵

Sapo overlooking some California hills. Click for full size.

I had two other blog posts ready, but then my computer crashed and I deleted the .swp of my drafts file out of habit. So we won't hear about obscure language paradigms and/or testing, we're just going to talk about me for a second, which seems to be what the people like anyways lol.

I'm still in California. We've gone kayaking, seen sea lions and otters, gone hiking, and had a few meals with nice vistas. Those are the high points — in my day-to-day, my productivity and comfort in personal and professional initiatives feels pretty disrupted and I don't love it. One way you know tech is a rich subset of millenials is how little I see "my fucking roommate" subtweets, ostensibly because we have so much choice in housing and many of us live in 1BR apartments. A comedian friend had a set about his roommates that started with "when you find your roommates on Craigslist, the only thing you mutually agree on is that you'd like to live indoors," and while the three of us joining our bubbles agree on a lot more than that, there was a few days of adjustment and a lot of wincing involved until we cleared some air this weekend. It's great having a new energy, it sucks having a new energy.

I often think about articles that talk about how hard it is to make friends as adults. One asked "when was the last time you made a new good friend?" and most of us come out a bit sad for long ago that was. Some research suggests that spontaneous, regular contact is a requirement for this. Where you and others are in proximity, frequently, but not because you deliberately decided to hang out. This is why environments like school and college tend to produce amazing friendships. Work can do this too, especially young companies, but outside these main areas, modern adult life doens't have these spaces.

Except, maybe, roommates! My answer to the "made a new friend" question is the last person Karen and I lived with. That guy's a fucking prince. When we moved to Cichlidia our apartment didn't hold another roommate very well. Before him, though? Real long stretch lol.

So I had some roommate drama last week, it wasn't easy to resolve, and we understand each other a whole lot better now. One surprising finding was how much I missed the "coming to understand someone" energy that this kind of conflict generates? It feels like deepening a friendship. There's a story about how many of the more "man-made" flat-faced dog breeds (frenchies, bulldogs, pugs) enjoy having a breathing tube inserted for surgery, because it's their lungs reacting to appropriate amounts of oxygen for the first time. "Oh, this is breathing!?!" This roommate conflict, while not what I wanted in a pandemic and my normal brain bullshit, had a bit of that feeling, and it's pretty satisfying.


Some beautiful hillsides. Click for full size.

I really liked this post by John Scalzi, on nostalgia for multiple eras. Excerpt:

I woke up this morning with a song from the 2001 film Josie and the Pussycats in my head, and because of that felt mildly wistful for the era in which it came out, the sort of Millennial Moment just before 9/11, with its boy bands and first Internet Bubble and all the sorts of capitalism (CDs! Malls! Print magazine and newspapers!) that were about to be buried under the next couple of decades of wrenching change. I don’t want to say it as a more innocent time, because of course it wasn’t, but two decades have passed, which means that enough time has gone out that the mental sifting has occurred and the bright and fluffy bits seem brighter and fluffier in retrospect. It’s nostalgia I’m feeling, basically, for the turn of the century.

But it’s a little weird to be thinking of it as nostalgia, because as a card-carrying member of Generation X, my Nostalgia Era is already pretty well defined, basically early 80s to early 90s, starting with New Wave and ending with Grunge. And indeed that’s the era that gives me the full-on nostalgia feels; the nostalgia I have for the turn of the century, although real enough, is significantly less intense, more of an “oh, yeah, I enjoyed the nice parts of that” feeling than the whole “Proust eats a madeleine” wave of remembrance that I sometimes get for the 80s and early 90s.

Formative memories are powerful! I think about nostalgia a lot, mostly because I really don't feel it the way I think others do. Like, sure, I stopped learning lyrics to songs after a certain age, but I don't look back at time periods with a whole lot of happiness, so I don't romanticize the aesthetics of them either?

A big example is college. By many measures, my college experience was fantastic. But I struggled, man. I've been suicidal since I was 10 and without the family and home structure that was smothering in how all-encompassing it was (as well as effectively losing a family member), that shit was largely a survival game. I think of what opportunities I had and feel sad at how little I participated, what a wounded animal I was during it. There were upsides: I went from knowing nothing about computers to knowing a few things (and most importantly for interviewing, learning to talk a big game) but the guy in my memory — living in his head like I did — it was miserable. So if I hear music or see photos from that era, I'm not exactly lighting up lol.

I'm feeling more whole these days. It's stupid, but if I could have told myself "sleep, drink water, and get back into fitness" I suspect a lot of my memories would look very different. Then again, maybe not.

Also: "find a psychotherapist!"

(speaking of nostalgia, I thought this song guessing game was super fun. Part of a greater project to define the 90's music canon).


Birds on a rock. Click for full size.

I'm on a bit of a break from my therapist: I'm really not "on the brink" or having attacks like I used to, and since he's my largest regular expense after rent, he was cool when I suggested speaking less.

I've seen a few therapists before this. One guy at Brown from their mental health services, he sucked ass and clearly served to be a paper trail if they had to kick me out, what a fucking tool. The next was at Google when I was suicidal there: she was trained as a marriage and family therapist, who was super empathetic and had a lot of hands-on "tools" to get you back on your feet (a daily log of your "victories," for instance). I think her style was more in line with CBT? Because I was only allowed to have 10 sessions lol.

It was later, after blowing up my life and moving to NYC that I got connected to my current guy Ed The Golfer, who I don't trust because who the fuck enjoys golf?! Douchebags, that's who. He's a psychoanalyst and I find this much more suits my style. My favorite article on the differences is this one:

CBT embodies a very specific view of painful emotions: that they’re primarily something to be eliminated, or failing that, made tolerable. A condition such as depression, then, is a bit like a cancerous tumour: sure, it might be useful to figure out where it came from – but it’s far more important to get rid of it. CBT doesn’t exactly claim that happiness is easy, but it does imply that it’s relatively simple: your distress is caused by your irrational beliefs, and it’s within your power to seize hold of those beliefs and change them.

Psychoanalysts contend that things are much more complicated. For one thing, psychological pain needs first not to be eliminated, but understood. From this perspective, depression is less like a tumour and more like a stabbing pain in your abdomen: it’s telling you something, and you need to find out what. (No responsible GP would just pump you with painkillers and send you home.) And happiness – if such a thing is even achievable – is a much murkier matter. We don’t really know our own minds, and we often have powerful motives for keeping things that way. We see life through the lens of our earliest relationships, though we usually don’t realise it; we want contradictory things; and change is slow and hard.

I've called Ed out on his bullshit a lot, and criticisms against psychoanalysis also resonate with me, but I've also found a lot of value in it. It's impossible to find a good therapist and insurance companies rarely fully cover psychoanalysts, but if you've not felt a good hit with other approaches and you have the means to seek it out, you might like this one.

Thanks for the read! Disagreed? Violent agreement!? Feel free to join my mailing list, drop me a line at , or leave a comment below! I'd love to hear from you 😄