I'm getting more mileage from my Anime Quote Maker than I ever expected. One reason why is I'm using it to build a stash of inspirational wallpaper porn. For example, this image with a quote from the NewsFlesh book trilogy about fear.
A more recent one, and possibly more relevant these days, is this one.
Both make me feel better when I see them on my computer. But in the long run, I think the second one will help more.
I had two nightmares last night.
The first was when I unleashed a zombie virus through a can of contaminated soda. It turns people into ghosts that hunted and infected the living. I escaped to underground night clubs only for the zombies to pass through walls and infect them too. So I tried to escape through the claustrophobic, chaotic venues. I could only run for so long until the entire population would get infected and trap me.
The second was I stood too close to someone, and they coughed. They said they were probably exposed to the coronavirus but weren't tested. So I started a two-week quarantine to be safe amid the uncertainty.
At this point, I’m unsure which one was scarier. The first one is overwhelming and unpredictable. But so is the second one while being all too real.
The best workouts meet the following criteria:
- You feel great afterward.
- You can't believe you just ran them.
- You never want to run them again.
- Near the end, there are either tears or raindrops in your eyes.
- There are at least three moments you want to scream.
- Something once living, now dead, is under your shoe. Bonus points if it's not an insect.
Sadly, I don't think anyone gets enough workouts like this. So when they happen, they should be treasured.
Throughout this pandemic, I've been working my way through The Office. It's been worth it just to watch the scene where Dwight pepper-sprays Roy.
Part of capitalism is the endless pressure to not do something simply for the joy of it. It has to be turned into a career, a side-hustle, or a brand. Being stuck indoors can increase that pressure, with talk of "with all this extra time, you have no excuse!"
First, we're surviving a freaking global pandemic. Coping with that may take up most of my newfound time and energy. If you're someone who doesn't, know a lot of people lack your privilege.
Second, you can have a hobby just to have a hobby. Not everything has to be about a business or a brand. Some things just make you happy. Isn't that part of being human?
Since the pandemic started, I've been thinking about this tweet.
my therapist was saying her patients who have experienced trauma kind of accepted the new normal almost immediately, while those who haven't are still in anger, denial, and bargaining. i guess this is what that looks like.— EricaJoy (@EricaJoy) March 22, 2020
I kept thinking about how trauma helped people accept a new normal faster. Does it not link someone tightly to any sense of "normal" since it was shattered before? Is it a greater sense of gratitude for anything, no matter how it changes? Or simply being used to tougher times?
As someone not well versed in trauma, I can't know. I just wish it didn't take that to give people a more flexible, collective mindset in tough times.
I don't understand why people play video games with any type of grind. Whether it's a grind to gain levels, gather items, or decorate a virtual space you can only enjoy from a couch. Isn't there enough of that in real life?
I want video games for quick, fun, borderline surreal experiences I could never get in reality. Like fast-paced racing with crazy karts and items in Mario Kart Deluxe 8. Or wall-to-wall fighting in Super Smash Bros. Ultimate. Or spreading ink across a cityscape with a giant paintbrush in Splatoon 2. Or watching anime characters jump between a dystopian authoritarian hellscape and nuclear armageddon via time-traveling text messages in Steins;Gate Elite.
Call me a simple-minded or casual gamer if you want. I call myself someone who wants their escapist entertainment to be a real escape.
We are living through the coronavirus pandemic.
We are living in the moments that could define the country for years. Moments that will have potentially seismic shifts in culture and economics. Moments that future adults will parse apart in infinite ways. Moments that will become history people imagine living through. Moments they wish they could have experienced.
This pandemic makes me feel a lot. Knowing I'm living through moments like these add in some fascination. That spoonful of fascination makes the fear, anxiety, and bitterness go down easier.
One of the hardest changes for me to accept is when my passions change. All things change or end with time, and the activities we love most are no exception.
Maybe it's tough due to how our mind responds to us pouring so much time, energy, and love into an activity. It starts believing its inherently meaningful and important. But when our passions shift, that means admitting we were wrong about its importance. How do we know that's not also the case with the next passion? If we were wrong about one career path giving us meaning, how do we know this one is any different?
It means accepting how little control we have over much of our lives. Even with areas so intimate to our identity. That's never easy.
The silver lining is knowing we can recognize when we find something more meaningful. Life may be chaotic and full of change, but that's okay when we can trust our judgment to bring us somewhere a little better. Somewhere with a bit more passion than before.
We haven't asked for the life we have. We didn't ask for our identity and its advantages and disadvantages. We didn't ask for the systems around us that keep those inequalities going. I don't think we need to blame ourselves for their existence.
But when we learn of them, do we work to change or remove them? Do we strengthen them and worsen their effects? Do we accept them as the norm and enable their existence?
I think it's fairer to judge, and even blame, people for how they answer those questions.
My new definition of freedom is pursuing what gives us meaning or purpose, regardless of the pain it brings or the pleasure it takes away.
This means only pursuing base pleasures like drugs and sex don't make us free. People become chained to them the same way a prison chains them to a wall. The difference is the chains spring from ourselves and not others. It's a lot harder to figure out they're chains at all. Since they please us, they're also tougher to escape.
Being free means fighting against external and internal forces trying to take it from us. To pull us into their journeys instead of us finding our own. For our reasons. Even if it makes us suffer more.
Next time someone talks about the importance of freedom, look for their invisible chains. Like if they chain themselves in front of a television for hours, or to other peoples' bodies every night. Are they all that free?
Humans could learn a lot from how plants live.
- Don’t take more than you need
- Enjoy the sunlight
- Grow at a steady pace
- It's okay to have roots, even when everyone else seems to be moving so fast
- If a wild animal eats you, take solace in being part of the circle of life
Most important, it's normal when fruits or vegetables grow from your limbs.
Happy Valentine's Day. Today I shall rant about books.
I gave "The Overton Window" a shot. I saw the author was Glenn Beck, the original political conspiracy theorist of my childhood. I accepted the funny looks others gave me and tried to read it like any other book.
I tried, I did, but couldn't finish. It wasn't due to any "liberal bias," it just wasn't a good book. There's many reasons for that, but here's two:
- The dialogue is too preachy. It reads like a broadcaster reading announcements instead of people talking. Dialogue rarely drives change or development when it's a giant wall of ideas it expects readers to just swallow up. That may work for an Aaron Sorkin series, but not fiction.
- It takes too long to get to the point. The book flap teases a massive, country-shattering event as the hook. Yet readers learn nothing until at least 45% into it, instead of the 30% mark at the absolute latest. When readers get bored waiting for the major plot events, you're doing fiction wrong.
I'm all for books having political views, and have read plenty along the spectrum. But I'm not for badly-written books.
A friend of mine has opinions on how asinine the American health insurance market is. They drove it home by imagining if the fire department worked the same way.
- While your house is on fire, you'd need to make sure the fire department you call covers that specific type of fire. If you live in an apartment, make sure they don't only cover house fires!
- The fire department would only put out a certain percentage of the fire. Then they'd ask you to pay for the water they'd use to extinguish the rest. If you can't afford it, you can either go bankrupt or watch your home burn down.
- After the tragedy is over, you'd get a bill asking you to pay the cost of the fire truck trip and the tools they used. Failure to do so means you're on your own if another fire happens.
- Non-fire disasters would be terrible too. Say you're stuck in an air vent or garbage chute. They'd refuse to get you out until they spend a few days confirming it's covered by your plan.
If all that sounds absurd and terrifying, just imagine if we also needed insurance for the police department...
We can leave it to manga to make everyday things our body does into something badass.
Let's take one of my favorites, Cells at Work: Code Black. One scene is, on its face, just someone getting gout. The make it compelling by mixing in existential crises, violent protests against a faceless and abusive ruling body (pun intended), and cries of despair to the heavens. All as it explains the basics of gout and its treatment.
There are times where, despite my love of manga, I struggle to love it. It's mostly due to the high amount of smutty, fanservice content one sees. Especially when fanservice gets in the way of an otherwise good story and characters.
But then I read a manga chapter that almost always brings me to tears while talking about uric acid and colchicine. Moments like that remind me why manga is worth fighting for.