Thursday, March 13, 2014

Why are you still here?


I took a few moments to orient myself. Many things have happened. It has been over three years since an actual update and that's a terrible amount of time to recap in this format.

My girlfriend is now my wife.
My apartment is now my house.
My job is still my job.
Her job is still her job (but she is slowly moving up the corporate ladder! For better or worse.)
I'm still a gamer, but the strains of Too Much Content and Not Enough Free Time have started showing. The Gaming space has exploded with each platform being a veritable treasure trove of experiences, and then Sony and Microsoft decided to launch their next versions of their consoles while their previous versions are still viable entertainment sources.
And that's not even looking at the Android and iOS gaming options. Too much. There's too much.

To retain a shred of sanity I have pruned a bit and limited my exposure to the latest and greatest. I no longer own dedicated portable gaming machines. No PSP. No Vita. No DS. My iPad and Nexus 7 have swallowed those roles. At this point I have not invested in a PS4 or XBox One and my 360 and PS3 are connected in different rooms of the house.  90% of my PS3 use in the last few years has been for Netflix and Amazon Prime videos. This forced austerity is partly an attempt at 'financial responsibility' and partly a realization that I have at my fingertips a hoard of gems to appreciate, and all I've done is throw them onto a pile. This was exacerbated by Sony and Microsoft deciding to add 'perks' to their paid memberships. For under $50 a year each Xbox Gold and PS+ give you access to 'free' content every month. PS+ picks newer titles but limits access to current memberships while Xbox Gold picks older titles but you actually own them even if your membership lapses. Between the two of them I have access to more quality gaming than time.
My only major 'gaming' spending concession was a recent upgrade of my graphics card. I have used dual cards in my last two machines but have grown tired of the issues that causes for certain older games and the noise of two sets of fans trying to keep the things from melting. I lucked into a comparable single-card purchase at a near impulse-buy price right before the Crypto-Currency explosion that has managed to drive up the prices of linkable GPUs.

Oh yeah, and I'm married now.

I'm usually not a big fan of jewelry... I have a tendency to fidget with it. Knowing this (and knowing that my mind was eventually going to let me propose to the woman that has been putting up with me for the past few years) I purchased a watch. For many years I didn't wear a watch. They tend to annoy me. I fidget with them. If it has modes I play with them. I time things. I watch the readout. I figure out how many clicks to cycle through the different modes and click through them... So I bought an analog watch. And I wear it. I've grown to like wearing it. It winds itself through motion so now there is a little wrist-flick I do from time to time so I can hear the mechanism ticking as it ratchets up the little spring that keeps it alive. I generally don't wear it around the house but if I'm heading out I feel kind of naked without it on. And then I added the ring. I have a few fidgets for this ring. I turn it. Sometimes I flick it. I've learned that I tap things with my palms a lot and now that I'm wearing a tungsten band that tapping produces new tones! But I like wearing the ring. I'm not sure that I necessarily needed to soften the tactile experience with a watchband first, but I also didn't want to be annoyed by the thing I'm wearing because I love my wife. I forgot to put my ring on one day and didn't 'notice.' When I went to lunch I was extra careful with the burrito I had because I didn't want it to drip sauce on my hand and get under the ring because the napkins at the place suck (but the burritos are pretty darned tasty). I remember thinking that. I actively adjusted my grip on the burrito to protect a ring that I wasn't wearing. When Tina pointed out that I wasn't wearing it later that day I was... I'm not sure what to call it. Dumbfounded. Shocked. Surprised. Confused. A mix of those. As I get older I seriously suspect that I have brain worms.

Among other things I'm slowly dealing with the realization that I have psychological issues. These are probably pretty common and other people deal with similar things all the time, but since I don't have a lot of extra-workular social contacts to even out the statistical averages of my social anxiety blips, they stand like pillars in the fog of my recollection. I missed a dental appointment. I meant to go, planned to leave work a little early, told my supervisor, had it on my calendar, and then shit blew up and it was past closing time before the dust settled enough for me to realize that even the time to call and explain had come and gone. I felt bad. I felt horrible. I felt that my 'work needed me to the point where I lost track of time' reason was inadequate. I felt that I couldn't explain myself adequately. A few days passed. They sent me a letter. The letter said that missing an appointment was unusual for me and asked if I was okay. Now it was a thing. I bring it up because we are now right around the time when my NEXT appointment would have been scheduled and I still haven't called them. I KNOW it isn't a major thing. I KNOW it needs doing. I actively dread the small talk. The questions. Sitting in a chair with those faces staring down at me while the assistant that doesn't stop talking and asks questions and has opinions all while elbows deep in my face actively suppresses the need to be short with me for missing an appointment. I don't deal well with that.

A restaurant I like has a new host. A really nice guy. He makes small talk. He has decided to like me. Asks me about my holidays, weekends, how I am, and one time when paying he offered me a VIP discount card. He is extremely pleasant and good at his job. I KNOW that it's his job. Identify the regular customers and make them feel welcome. But if you single me out that it's a thing. I dread it. I don't know small talk. I don't relate. And when I do I'm utterly unable to identify the protocol for where we cross idle chit-chat and into actually having dialog. I don't know the steps to that dance. Throw me a social curveball and I stumble. I give the wrong replies. I stare too long as I'm parsing the question. I stare way too long as I evaluate the sincerity of my reply with regard to the time allowed and attempt to gauge the sincerity of the initial comment all while wishing you would hand me back my change so I can say Thank you and head to my car that is parked as close as possible to my usual parking spot. After he gave me that discount card I stopped going to that restaurant for a few weeks. I couldn't bring myself to go. I knew it was stupid. I knew it was all in my head. I wasn't even quite sure what it was in my head, but the closest I could come was a sense of dread that I would screw up the protocol. That I would somehow fail to satisfy my end of that social exchange.

I have dozens of draft e-mails to my parents. To my grandmother. Just like my last post they are steeped in the guilt and shame of allowing too much time to pass. Of screwing up that social exchange and having no idea of how to properly pick up those threads. Of the protocol involved.

If I step far enough outside I realize that it's stupid to let those threads wither just because I might be afraid or too awkward to do it properly... but to feel sincere I have to step back into my head and fall right back into the trap.
I deactivated my Facebook account a few days ago. There has to be a better way.

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