Epic Adventures in Aunting

Epic Adventures in Aunting

So, my niece Mini-me is down here making my life interesting. And, by “interesting,” I mean “why did you do that? What part of you considered it a good idea?”

An example of this that just happened: Mini-me has an old bike. She knows she is supposed to put it away when she’s not riding it. However, today she decided that “away” meant “right behind the Kabota.” Auntie GK needed to take some meat that had spoiled over to the dump so, like a moron, I got in the Kabota without checking all around it thoroughly to ensure that nothing would be destroyed. I put the thing in reverse and noticed that, after a few feet, it was dragging as if the tire was flat or something. So, I get out and lo and behold, there is a little girl’s bike wedged under the Kabota. And I mean wedged. As in “we’re going to need a hydraulic jack to lift the Kabota and get this baby out.”

So, I come inside to tell Mom and Mini-me about the demise of her bike. Mom takes it in stride — she’s raised two kids of her own and is used to Mini-me’s antics. Mini-me, on the other hand, is convinced that her Pawpaw is going to turn into a “complete psychomaniac” and seal her in a bottle and drop it in California. I’m just wondering how long the ribbing is going to go on over me running over her bike. This will probably be my Pizza Box story.

Kids. I love ’em.

— G.K.

MBTI is a Tool, Not a Justification

MBTI is a Tool, Not a Justification

Occasionally, as a writer and a complete and utter smart-ass, I trawl through the deeper corners of the Intarwebz in search of information, funny meme images, and to find other writers who, for whatever reason, have decided to remain trapped in the Twelfth Circle of Online Hell known as Tumblr. One thing I’ve started noticing over the past year or so is the obsession therein with the MBTI.

The MBTI is a temperament assessment tool. It measures four “areas” of cognitive processing to determine how, in general and on average, a person will react to common situations and how they will process them. It doesn’t tell you if a person is an asshole, a saint, a liberal, a libertarian, a genius, or a twit. All it says is “this person is, on average, processing things in this manner.”

For instance, I’m an INTJ. That’s the rarest of all types for a woman (and yes, I am a woman). On average, that means that I rely heavily on introverted intuition to process things, I tend to plan ahead in everything, I value efficiency and effectiveness, I’m great at abstract concepts and theories, I like to learn, and I can be about as blunt as a sledgehammer to the head. It also implies that I tend to avoid most social situations, I get worn out in crowds, and I prefer to live in my head.

It does not mean I’m rude. My mother beat manners into me, y’all. It does mean I’m oblivious sometimes (like the time I walked right past the preacher in her church because I didn’t know it was him and, frankly, didn’t really care that much). It means that I tend to have better control over external expressions of my emotions and I tend to control them instead of letting them control me. It doesn’t mean that I’m heartless — though I can come across that way sometimes. It does not give me any excuse to be an asshole just because. No, if I’m an asshole towards someone, I have a reason for my behavior. Generally, though, I’m not much of a jerk to anyone. If I don’t like or don’t trust a person, I just avoid them entirely. I don’t make a big deal out of it.

I’ve written characters who are INTJs (and NTs of all types as well as a lot of NFs). They’re not always the bad guys or the heroes. They’re not Machiavellian-esque. They have no plans to take over the world and rule it with an iron fist. For the most part, they want to be left the fuck alone to chill with their friends (and yes, INTJs have friends. Few of them and only those who can keep up with us but we have them, dammit). Occasionally, one of them will get tipped over into extraverted sensing, go a bit off the rails, and Bad Shit Will Happen. However, they always have a strong moral and ethical code and they will not violate it. And do you know what part of that code is for almost every last INTJ?

It’s don’t be a dick for no reason. Honestly. It’s not so much because we care about how people will feel (though there is some of that to us). No, it’s more the fact that there will be fall-out and we’ll have to spend longer dealing with that than with the actual damned problem. Not being a dick to people for no reason is simply more efficient than being an ass just because we can be. We also don’t need to be dicks to people to get them to leave us alone. Avoiding social situations is something we can do without much effort and being a dick is often counter-productive to that since the person will want to know why we’re being such assholes towards them.

We also generally will plan out how we would, hypothetically, take over a government/nation/the world or destroy a city with minimum/maximum fatalities but, for God’s sake, most of us will never actually get pissed off enough to put those plans into action. After all, if we did that, we’d have to deal with people and, for most of us, limiting our contact with the rest of the world is simply part and parcel of our nature. We don’t hate people (though, in general, most of them annoy us a bit) and we have friends. We can be quite social and even charming at times. But, for the love of Cthulhu, we don’t want to have to do the thinking for everyone and world rulership tends to involve just that.

However, assuming that we’re all Machiavellian sociopaths isn’t the worst offense that writers, Tumblr, and others make about us.

No, the major thing that people get wrong about us is our emotions. See, we have them. We do experience them. We’re not cold, callous, and robotic. Hell, the other day when a man indicated he was interested in me in a manner beyond merely platonic, I felt an honest-to-Cthulhu ten minutes of pure exhilaration, a sharp upward spike in contentment, and enough happiness to actually make me smile for longer than a couple of minutes. However, yes, I did revert back to a slightly-higher baseline level of amused neutrality (more amused-leaning-towards-content than normal). The difference between me and a more normal person is that there were very few outward signs that I was feeling anything in the moment and it actually took me some time to realize that I was feeling something and analyze what I was feeling and trace the cause. Then, and only then, having come to a logical explanation for it did I allow myself to enjoy and indulge in the sensation for a reasonable amount of time.

After that, it was back to normal (albeit a slightly higher baseline level of normal).

I do feel flashes of emotions. I can get angry. I can feel sad. I can feel happy. However, yes, my normal state is neutral and calm. I also know that, for physiological and biochemical reasons, I cannot permit myself to be caught in the grip of a strong emotion for more than a few minutes unless I feel like going to the hospital for a powerful painkiller to rid myself of the migraine that will happen. Most INTJs will show little to no outward expression of an emotion and, if we do experience one strong enough to overwhelm our control, we will excuse ourselves from public view and try to reason our way through it or come to a more logical understanding of just what the hell is going on. That’s how we survive. That’s how we function. It’s not how most people do things and, frankly, I don’t recommend they try. It would be extremely unhealthy for an NF, SF, or ST to attempt to manage their emotions the way an INTJ does. The converse is also true — if we tried to “feel” things the way an NF does, we’d go insane.

That means that yes, powerful emotions can unseat and unsettle us. Especially if those emotions are our own (shit, just witnessing someone else’s emotions tends to frighten us a good bit because we’re not tuned into that, it takes a lot for us to manage to tune-in emotionally, and generally we’re better problem-solvers than we are shoulders-to-cry-on). It means that we can, if it is logical, be driven by an emotion. There have been times when I have been driven by annoyance, anger, outrage, sadness, or joy to do something. *shrug* Not often and generally the emotion peters out and I’ll either continue the action (if logical) or drop it (if I merely needed to exhaust the emotion so I could return to baseline).

INTJs, emotionally, tend to be like very deep rivers, guys. We’re calm and placid on top but the currents down below can be fatal. Unlike a river, we can analyze what is going on “down below” and we will spend time trying to trace the cause and determine if the emotion is logically justified or if it is superfluous. While we’re doing that we will come across as calm and rational because we’re so used to being in that state that it really and truly is no energy for us to maintain (certain rare exceptions aside). When we feel something, it’s generally quite intense.

This is also part of why we tend to be so blunt. Without taking the time and energy to consider that our processing methods aren’t universal, we’ll generally assume that someone wants what they asked for. Over time, we learn better but we do tend to prefer honesty over flattery. Some of you value that — some of you find it annoying. That’s okay. We’re an acquired taste.

— G.K.

Suffocation

In the wake of Chris Cornell’s apparent suicide, mostly everyone in my various writer-ly (totally a word) has been talking about their experiences with depression. Though there are a lot of commonalities, most of us tend to have experienced it differently. Yes, there’s the whole “lack of energy/motivation” and the whole “my brain won’t stop yelling at me” thing. However, the black dog is something I have fought off and on for years and my experience is only faintly similar to what I’ve read from Kate Paulk among others (whose links I cannot find).

She talks about how she externalizes her depression to make it seem as if the ideas that it shouts come from elsewhere. For me, though, it’s different. I know they come from my own brain. I just happen to realize they’re from the incredibly stupid and selfish part of my brain and I have gotten rather good at ignoring them. So, no worries that I’m going to do anything stupid. I’ve witnessed first-hand what that does to the people who outlive the deceased and there is no way in hell I’d do that to anyone.

No, for me, the worst bits are the physical parts. There are days where it takes all the energy I can muster just to sit up. Moving hurts. Nothing is interesting. Nothing can capture my attention or my imagination. Every step, every thought feels as if I am struggling to swim through syrup. All I want to do on days like that is stay curled up in my bed and daydream or sleep.

But, I generally force myself to get up and get moving. Yes, it’s going to hurt like a wicked bitch. However, eventually I grow somewhat detached from the pain and can mask it or ignore it well enough to do whatever I need to do that day. Days like that generally find me tearing through fanfics, spending hours at Khan Academy, editing my older works, or binge-watching Marvel movies until I feel the pressure fading enough that I can breathe easily. I can honestly say that The Avengers, Dr. Strange, and Loki have helped me keep it together long enough to wrest control of my body back from that damned dog. A few times I’ve considered sending everyone involved in those films a fruit basket or something but I’m sure they all have better things to do than deal with that so I have managed to refrain from it. Being broke also helps a bit, there. 😉

I suppose it also helps that I’ve made peace with my demons and the skeletons in my closet. I’ve also gained considerable control over my emotions to the point where neutrality is my default state. I may experience mild moments of amusement, exasperation, irritation, or joy over the course of any given day but, for the most part, my neutrality protects me. It’s a nice, thick shield that keeps that damned dog from laying down on my chest and suffocating me. Without my control, I don’t think I would have made it this far. I just wish I had learned it sooner. It’s helped me pinpoint when I’m about to enter a flat spin and spiral downwards until I crash and enabled me to stave it off by distracting myself from whatever emotion is about to blindside me. That’s partly why I have gained some little mastery over higher mathematics, why I’m working on understanding dimensional mathematics, why I know so damned much about physics, astronomy, cosmology, criminology, abnormal psychology, anthropology, the behavior of crowds, nuclear physics, history, literature, and why I can speak so many languages. I do these things to distract myself from overwhelming emotions, to give them no chance to knock me off my feet and drag me under their currents.

It’s how I survive and it beats the hell out of my adolescent survival trick of simply dissociating and running on auto-pilot.

Yes, I struggle with depression still. However, I have managed to reach a stage of reasonable contentment and tranquility. I know that the happiness that most others experience will probably never be something I can share. I know the sacrifices I have had to make to stay (relatively) sane and functional. I know that my circadian rhythm is screwed up beyond any real hope of repair. I accept these things. This is simply how life is for me. There’s a certain loveliness in the shades of grey that too frequently surround me and they make those brief splashes of color all the more beautiful and precious.

It is a bit odd that so many of writers are broken and bent like this. I don’t know if it’s something that our brains require of us so we can write or if we can write because our brains are this screwed up. That will be something to ponder, I suppose, the next time I need a good distraction. 🙂

— G.K.

PS — If you are undergoing acute depression or have unmanaged chronic depression or ever feel suicidal, please, call the Suicide Prevention Hotline (1-800-273-8255) or the Samaritans at (212) 673-3000. Whoever you are, where ever you are, you have something left to do and you need to figure out what it is.

Inosculation Updated!

Inosculation Updated!

Holy crap on a cracker — three posts in one week? I know, right?

So, I’ve dusted off my old serials and started working on my Voyager fanfic Inosculation. I posted two new chapters this week and will be adding one every Friday from now on. My current original work — Book One of Cycle of the Eternals — is progressing well and I occassionally need a break from it so I either work on something completely silly that I may eventually post or I work on Inosculation.

Anyway, enjoy! Two chapters for you!

May Cthulhu bless you with his noodle-ly tentacleness from his house in R’lyeh where he lays dreaming!

— G.K.

Oh Really?

Oh Really?

Before we start: not all people living along the Coasts are jerks. Quite a few of you are awesome. You may not always agree with people out in Flyover but at least you’ve shown that you can shut up and listen. You don’t spend months lecturing us like we’re children and then turn around and try to act like you’re our patron saints. None of this is directed at those of you who get it. It’s directed at morons who can’t and won’t get it and who, in a few days, will be right back down to calling my lesbian sister a Literal Hitler because she voted for Trump.

Sorry, sometimes people post stuff on Facebook and I know that they mean well but it makes me want to hold AT&T to their old promise with a twist — instead of reaching out to touch someone, GK wants to reach out and smack a bitch.

Recently a few writers have been pointing out that poor whites in Appalachia and other places in Flyover Country have been getting a raw deal and no one cares. This is not news to any of us who have lived here. This is simply the normal state of affairs. Urbanites on the Coasts think we’re terrible, awful, horrible, evil, ignorant people and they feel oh-so-sorry for us because they’re so enlightened and if we’d just let them run our lives for us, they could create a Utopia tomorrow.

We generally roll our eyes, ignore them, and go on with our lives.

We’re pretty used to getting taken advantage of out here and skin color has fuck-all to do with it. Out of town companies come in, start stripping out natural resources, hire a few locals at low wages because the cost of living is low and the choice is “work for crap” or “be unemployed.” Naturally, the more ambitious of us opt to work for crap. We’re also all pretty decent at mathematics so we know that the trope of taking the CEO’s pay and dividing it amongst all the workers would result in, on average, maybe $50 a year more. Take the entire company’s profit and divvy it up and we get maybe an additional $200 a year. Of course, do either of those things and the company goes tits up but we also are smart enough to reason our way to that.

Want to know what keeps us down? Bullshit. That’s the answer. Elitist Bullshit. It’s gotten a lot harder to start your own business and run it out of your home until you make enough money to get an office. Why? Because you have to get a license, a permit, and insurance for everything because the elites on the Coasts have decided that we must be protected from everything and we get to pay for the privilege of that protection. Want to be a hair stylist? You have to go to school and get a license to do that. Want to open a car repair shop? Permit needed! Want to mow lawns or do landscaping? Permit required. Want to start a driving service for elderly folks? Yep, you gotta get a permit for that and hope like hell that you can avoid competing against the taxi services. Hell, if you want to do computer repairs, build websites, or do online marketing it’s getting to where you may need to be licensed to do them.

There’s also the fact that there are virtually no resources for helping people out here start small businesses. And, if you do start one, you lose any benefits you’ve been getting for being unemployed. It doesn’t matter if you aren’t making enough money the first few months to pay your bills — you’re working so no help for you! Oh, sure, you can get a loan but you have to have collateral and you have to be able to pay it back (with interest). If you fail, you’re pretty much screwed for life unless you come from a rich family.

Other things that keep us down are the crap over our flags and our history. Look, for Mississippi, changing the state flag is going to cost tens of millions of dollars. We would much rather that the tax dollars that would be used for that be put towards something like our school systems, helping the poor, and rebuilding parts of the state that got destroyed that year. Yes, we have a corrupt government and that sucks out a lot of money but the only folks who aren’t corrupt are the ones who aren’t interested in running for office. That’s pretty much par for the course where ever you go, though. However, if we’re getting boycotted or having investment opportunities denied to us because we prioritize improving our lives over making a bunch of idiots who want to white-wash history and have us forget what a horrible thing the Civil War was, then yeah, we’re really going to listen to you. *eyeroll*

Lastly, it’s funny how easy it is for so many of you to talk down to us, tell us how to vote, tell us how to think, tell us what we should be doing but it’s really damned difficult for any of you to actually do something other than run your mouths. Right now my home city has suffered through a water mains burst that has close to 30k people without water. The only people I see doing anything about it are those of us who live here. Those of us who live out in the county and are unaffected by the outage are opening our homes to friends, family, and acquaintances who are impacted. The entire area is going out and getting all the bottled water they can and setting up distribution centers to get it out for free. Churches and fire departments and the working water system (Culkin) are organizing themselves to help others. Why? Because that’s what we do, dipshits. When life goes sideways, we actually do more than fart words. We get out and help each other because we know that all we’ll get from the Coasts is a bunch of tut-tutting, “how awful,” and maybe $5. When some of our cities on the Gulf Coast get obliterated, we get reamed for living there — never mind that there is not a single. fucking. place. on. the. continent. that doesn’t have freaky weather events.

We still have a community out here in Flyover Land. We still pitch in and help each other. We stick together. Urbanites don’t do that. Urbanites think that the government is supposed to take care of everything from cradle to grave. Out here, we know that government will only screw things up so we set up something that will work. We volunteer. We don’t sit on our hands and cry “poor, pitiful me!” We roll up our sleeves, hit the store, buy whatever we can, and give it to those who need it. We donate to our churches who go out every day and help the poor. We volunteer to teach adult education classes.

Frankly, it gets annoying to see people on the Coasts who have spent the past several months referring to everyone in Flyover as Literal Hitlers, Neo-Nazis, or whatever because they voted for Trump in droves suddenly start acting like they’re ready to be BFFs. If you want to help us, quit talking down to us and start businesses here. Come in and help us build better school systems instead of shackling us with crap like Common Core. Shut your pie-holes and listen because we live here. We grew up here. We’re part of this place and it’s part of us. You only experience it from 35k feet in the air. We know our people. We know our communities. We know how your utopian bullshit will just set up perverse incentives for the worst among us and will magnify problems instead of fixing them.

We don’t need your patronizing attitudes. We need you to quit looking down on us because we don’t want to be jam-packed into cities that have to import water and are too filled with morons to build desalinization plants — not to mention are built on a fucking FAULT LINE. We prefer to have our space, to live closer to nature, and to distribute our culture a bit more sparsely so that one major disaster won’t shatter all the eggs.

So, the next time one of you wants to show how “compassionate” you are by sharing articles about people, places, and cultures you routinely insult, denigrate, and couldn’t begin to understand just stop. Just fucking stop already. We’re tired of it.

— G.K.

PS — Once again, not all people living along the Coasts are jerks. Quite a few of you are awesome. You may not always agree with people out in Flyover but at least you’ve shown that you can shut up and listen. You don’t spend months lecturing us like we’re children and then turn around and try to act like you’re our patron saints. None of this is directed at those of you who get it. It’s directed at morons who can’t and won’t get it and who, in a few days, will be right back down to calling my lesbian sister a Literal Hitler because she voted for Trump.

Acquired Tastes

Acquired Tastes

First of all, yes, I realize I’m a crappy blogger. However, in my defense, I’ve been juggling writing, working, school, working, writing, and studying things that almost literally make my brain hurt. Do you have any idea how difficult it is to force a brain and set of senses that evolved in a three-spatial dimension universe where the fourth dimension is a connected tunnel that can be traversed only in one direction (without technology) into thinking the way that a being from a universe with four spatial dimensions and two temporal dimensions which, when gravity is in play, can be traversed either linearly or in a punctiliar manner?

It makes me dizzy. I have actually tipped over and fallen out of my chair a few times doing this. I have a note reminding me to revert back to native mode before standing because, if I don’t, I will fall on my ass.

At any rate, did you miss me?

In my time on this planet, I’ve learned that I, like most of my acquaintances and friends, am something of an acquired taste. Then I started realizing that the handful of people I consider close friends all have things in common with me that causes the world to eye the lot of us in askance. We get hit with a lot of labels — weird, strange, odd, eccentric, sociopath, psychopath — but the truth is none of those things can tell the whole tale.

We are an acquired taste unless you are one of us.

For example, on my Facebook wall, there have been multiple discussions ranging from topics including Sherlock’s likelihood of hooking up with various characters from the show. No arguments, mind, but simple discussions drawing evidence, examples, and data. It’s extremely calm compared to the fandom “discussions” that take place over at Tumblr where, if you so much as point out a single in-universe inconsistency with someone’s OTP, you will get flamed.

That’s why I don’t hang out on Tumblr much.

Other discussions have included which NuWho companion is the most awesome (Donna and then Clara). There’s also been discussion over how to protect flags on the Moon so that they won’t lose their color so quickly, methods for getting off the planet and establishing a lunar base, a general shared disdain for authoritarians of all stripes, general smart-assery, and making fun of idiots. I really only have a core of about ten people who regularly pay much mind to what I post because most of it just isn’t of interest to the vast majority of my Facebook “friend” roll.

All of this got me thinking about why there are so few people like me and these others. I mean, we’re all probably well above average in intelligence (which gives us an evolutionary leg up). Most of us are healthy and can do useful things (shooting, repairs, computer programming). We’re also pretty good at communicating and do know how to make friends. We’re just turned off by the vast majority of humanity because they don’t interest us. However, unless our traits are all recessive (which they very well could be; I’m not up on the biology and hereditary nature of intelligence and cognitive processing), there should be a lot more of us. Maybe there are and we simply haven’t found them because we’re limited by our language (my friends all speak English or French though I can generally muddle my way through German, Italian, and Spanish when it’s written down). Maybe it’s because there are so few of us that the likelihood, in the pre-Internet era, of us stumbling across each other was rather small so we didn’t and generally wound up either never marrying or marrying “normal” people who could tolerate our quirks and whatever it is in our genetics (if anything) didn’t make it to the next generation to the degree that it is present in us.

Yeah, I think about weird stuff. Get over it.

This also leads me to wonder just how large a game-changer the Internet is going to wind up being with regards to human evolution. Now that those of us who are a bit on the quirky but brainy side can find each other, the likelihood of two of our kind meeting and having children together increases. That may increase the chance that our kind’s offspring inherits whatever (if anything genetic) it is that makes us “tick.” Play this out through a few generations and, by the middle of the next century, we may be living in a very different world simply because the skills, traits, and tendencies that under-gird social interactions now may no longer be as relevant in the future. I’m not certain if this is good or bad but I am certain that it’s going to be very fucking interesting.

— G.K.