changes of the Self

in August 2015, Brian and I moved from southern Louisiana, very near to the Gulf Coast, to the “great” white tundra of the Minneapolis, Minnesota — which is over 1,000mi (1,600+km) as the bird flies, or ~1,1200mi (~1,800km) as the car drives.

there were many reasons for this move: Brian found and earned a job that would at least incorporate his academic focus (very slightly so, we later fully learn) for a reasonable pay; I wanted to get away from my family drama; I wanted to get away from my paternal drama; I wanted to escape many of the acquaintances I had; I wanted to break free of previous obligations and social contracts I had; I want to explore the world/nation; I legitimately wanted culture shock; and … I wanted to try to recreate myself.

I managed to do so somewhat within the nearly four years I have been up here. I gained better habits and lost some worse ones — some instances of each by choice, and others by force or requirement. so with us discussing the potential success of Brian’s job hunts elsewhere in the nation, it’s time to review these changes and reflect on them.


Who I Was in Louisiana

  • sociable, person enthusiast: I was social butterfly, and often the center of attention.
  • responsible, in charge: I was constantly organizing events or hosting, rarely delegating and actually really being just a participant.
  • empathetic: I pretended to be very kind and compassionate, almost as if I was genuinely interested in other people.
  • adventurous: I sought out wild opportunities and places (granted, I was restricted to the local) in hopes of an absurd escapade.
  • inquisitive, curious: I always wanted to know more about everything, was often researching random facts or topics, and was always asking questions.
  • pillar of strength: The backbone or glue or a group or the unflinching emotional support of a given person — it was more often than not me. Though, naturally, I relied on one (or at least, very very few).
  • energetic, loud, hyper: I had boundless energy, and could go from one activity or event to another with no break necessary.
  • alcohol lush, drunkard: I was the group’s (usually) happy drunk. Any unfinished drinks?– everyone knew I would empty them.
  • giving 110%: if I did anything, I did it to my full capacity — including my faults. moderation was not a concept I understood.

Who I Was in Minnesota

  • sociable, person enthusiast: I still embodied this, but to a lesser degree. I was at several parties wherein I actively avoided calling the group’s attention to myself.
  • responsible, in charge: I let up on this a lot too. I was, in fact, tagging along more often than note with the already created plans of others. Brian has said I take on more of an “okay guys, I’ll join in on your thing” approach than I did back home.
  • empathetic: I did this still too, but I lessened it. if I had too few Spoons on a given day, I didn’t listen to all the bullshit others spouted, but instead scurried away quickly.
  • adventurous: I lost this drastically. part of the limitation on this was winter exists up here from October to now (April) — by which I mean, it is so cold outside it is physically painful.
  • inquisitive, curious: I still had my curiosity, but I didn’t really act on it much. I was too tired all the time to put forth the effort to research anything.
  • pillar of strength: I became a Pillar of some sort for several people up here. but I made to have them understand I was not on-call for them figuratively or literally. even when hanging out IRL, I would sometimes be distance.
  • energetic, loud, hyper: this depleted greatly too. I took breaks when I needed them (even while volunteering), I actively scheduled “Recovery” time in my Google calendar, etc.
  • general lush: I still drank way my than I should. and my first social connections up here were made via a kink community, I was none for my input and presence there (not so much actual physical involvement, granted, due to Brian’s requests).
  • 90-100%: I gave less of myself to other people and things. sure I still “did my best”; but I help back when necessary, so as not to over-extend or exhaust myself.
  • open about my Crazies: I was much more open about my struggles here than I was back home — which is saying something, because I was a major advocate back home. by embracing my faults in an early meeting of someone (other than of employers, lol!), I set the stage such that if I fuck up in one way or another (my bad memory, my low Spoon, etc.), no one is surprised or offended.
  • patience for bullshit: normally, I would just let people say shit no matter how dumb. but now, depending on the person, I either address the fallacies I see or I just walk away. I’m not paid to give you my attention, and in most cases, I don’t even care — so fuck off.

Who I Hope to Be in the Future

this is where we are now. I’ve already begun some of these changes (as you will see below), though I have not been in many situations wherein I can challenge or test the adjusted approach or reaction. so we’ll see how it goes.

  • sociable, person enthusiast: I think this is a skill set I still want to maintain and occasionally practice, as it is very useful for making connections for future social or occupational concerns. however, I do not need to make it the core of my identity any longer.
  • responsible, in charge: again, this is useful if I maintain it as a skill and not as a personality trait.
  • empathetic: I think this is at a fairly good level currently. I am empathetic to gain the favour and affection of others, but I don’t drain my resources on pretending to care.
  • adventurous: Brian has mentioned to me multiple times recently how this is obviously incredibly important to me. and he’s right. I do need to incorporate this into my life more.
  • inquisitive, curious: I’ve started getting this back already. I’m getting my Productivity Projects going again, so that’s nice.
  • pillar of strength: I need to be careful who I befriend. granted, you can’t tell right away — but up here, most of my early friends, I have learned, were exceptional needy. and I just can’t do that anymore. not for everyone all of the time.
  • energetic, loud, hyper: I need to balance this. I don’t like how low-key I’ve become, but I like that I’m learning self-care.
  • sober: another one I’m already well started into. as Brian says, he likes being in full control of his faculties — I’ll adopt that saying as I’m so all over the place already, I can’t risk giving up anything.
  • 90-100%: I think I’m at a healthy point for this one. I try harder than most anyone there, but I’m going to break my back for you. I just have to continue this when we move.
  • open about my Crazies: again, setting up my faults and being open about my issues early one makes it less difficult and more accepted in the long-run.
  • patience for bullshit: I’m still learning the balance on this one. I’m ignoring my father’s stupid political comments, literally not even acknowledging that he said them sometimes. so I like that. but avoidance can only work on some people; I need to figure out my approach for the other folk.
  • solo fun: branching from “adventurous”, I need to learn to have fun by myself. I spent so much time in Louisiana organising collections of people, I never learned how to go out on my own. I want to grow into that before we relocate again so that I can better explore the city and learn about it on my own time, instead of waiting for someone else.
  • us vs them: I have always had an inclination to the “not our kind” mindset, as much as I hate it. working in the political landscape recently, I developed a quicker reaction to it. I also developed a stronger sense of unity, conversely, in my internal effort to fight the aforementioned propensity. but wherever we go, I want to continue getting this out of my system.
  • volunteering: I stopped volunteering as much here as I did back home. in part due to my parents not being here with scout trouble in which I grew up, and in part to my constant transportation issues (RE weather or no license). but wherever we go, I need to start doing that more.

you may be noticing I didn’t include a terrible number of “bad” character traits. that’s because I like to think I am quite aware of those and am already working on fixing them — trust issues, self-hatred, anhedonia, anger issues, superiority complex, a general impatience, misanthropy, etc. I mean, that list I can make in a hot second!

but this was just a very quick, light assessment of my recent growths and how I want to be as positives, a side of myself on which I’m rarely focused.

if you know me IRL and have insight or comments on anything, I’d love to hear them. I’m trying to ensure my self-perception includes at least the consideration of others’ perceptions of me. so it would be beneficial for me to hear — both the good and the bad.

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Amanda Fucking Palmer – “Another Year”

I tried to Fall in it again.
my Friends took bets and disappeared;
they mime their sighing violins,
I think I’ll wait another year.

I want my chest pressed to Your chest.
my nervous systems interfere.
ten or eleven months have passed;
I think I’ll wait another year.

this weather turns my tricks to rust.
I am a lousy engineer.
the Winter makes things hard enough.
I think I’ll wait another year.

plus I’m only twenty-six [thirty-two] years old;
my grandma died at eighty-three.
that’s lots of time if I don’t smoke.
I think I’ll wait another year.

I’m not as callous as you think.
I barely breath when You are near.
it’s not as bad when I don’t Drink.
I think I’ll wait another year.

I have my new Bill Hicks CD.
I have my Friends and my career.
I’m getting smaller by degrees.
You said you’d help me Disappear;
but that could take forever .


I think I’ll wait another year.
it’ll be the best year ever.
I think I’ll wait another year.
can’t we just wait together?
You bring the smokes, I’ll bring the beer.
I think I’ll wait another year.

Building Greater Self-Reliance: Day 02

31 Journaling Prompts for Building Greater Self-Reliance:  Day 02

“ The virtue in most request is conformity. ”

― Emerson

“ People say that what we’re all seeking is a meaning for life. I don’t think that’s what we’re really seeking. I think that what we’re seeking is an experience of being alive, so that our life experiences on the purely physical plane will have resonances with our own innermost being and reality, so that we actually feel the rapture of being alive. ”

― Joseph Campbell

Where do you find the most meaning in life and feel the most fully alive? Is there something you’d love to do but don’t because the world thinks it’s silly or worthless or wrong? Is there anything you do that you consider virtuous yet the world looks down on? How do you handle the tension?

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“31 Journaling Prompts for Building Greater Self-Reliance” (v2)

I attempted to start a post series back in April of 2018, based on a 31-day journaling prompt collection from the Art of Manliness (AoM). I managed to get only one day pumped out.

I’m trying again. but this time, with success! and you can follow below.

James’s Musings on Self-Reliance
Day 01: Wed 04/03/2019
Day 02: Sat 04/06/2019
Day 03: Wed 04/10/2019
Day 04: Wed 04/17/2019
Day 05: Sat 04/20/2019
Day 06: Tue 05/28/2019
Day 07: Sat 06/02/2019
Day 08:
Day 09:
Day 10:
Day 11:
Day 12:
Day 13:
Day 14:
Day 15:
Day 16:
Day 17:
Day 18:
Day 19:
Day 20:
Day 21:
Day 22:
Day 23:
Day 24:
Day 25:
Day 26:
Day 27:
Day 28:
Day 29:
Day 30:
Day 31:

if you’ve forgotten what exactly it was about, feel free to keep reading for the introductory excerpt from the AoM piece itself.

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the all-consuming Darkness

I’ve been on antipsychotics for a while now. lithium, to be precise. lots of it. and it works! my anxiety is lower, my compulsions quieter, my obsessions weaker, and my hypomanias basically non-existent. so yeah, we got the Manic portion of things mostly under control.

but we haven’t figured out my Depression. it’s still all-consuming, a shroud that covers everything, even the things I once loved or enjoyed.

things are not fun anymore, for example. and I don’t even want to try to have fun anymore; it’s exhausting.

I had a lot of free time this past Saturday. so what did I do?– sleep. for ~15hrs. sure, I know part of it was actually needing the sleep for physical reasons. but I know the difference between that and sleep as escapism. and most of that was the latter.

and though it may be psychosomatic and even self-fulfilling, I firmly believe that I will never get better until I GTFO of this fucking tundra.

“go all Henry David Thoreau up in here”

I think I need a vaccay from people. like, from all humans. even Brian. go all Henry David Thoreau up in here or something.

I used to camp all the time. year round, and as much as possible. I would volunteer with organizations too. a lot of my time used to go to volunteerism.

I mean, I have a pessimistic, natural inclination to assume the worst about a given individual. but I used to at least allow them enough room to hang themselves. these days, I can hardly wait to pull a handle of judgment to drop people to a doom they possibly didn’t rightly deserve.

and those aforementioned communes with nature or surrounding myself with heartfelt people — they would reset the innate hatred I have within. they would fill me with beauty, awe, and hope. and then I had the energy to go tackle the harsh reality that is life.

but with no vacations to remind myself what matters, with no groups or friends also struggling to focus on the light, I feel … I just feel hopeless, adrift. like I’m just barely staying afloat in life instead enjoying the waves at a beach.

I will make it a point to find a volunteer group again. I will make it a point to go camping again soon (once it fucking warms a little, because I am a pussy in the cold). and I will make it a point to write again … even if there is no one remaining to read anything.

Building Greater Self-Reliance 01: My Own Pursuits

31 Journaling Prompts for Building Greater Self-Reliance:  Day 01

“The primary cause of disorder in ourselves is the seeking of reality promised by another.” ―Jiddu Krishnamurti

What is something you have or are pursuing, that other people say is worthwhile, but you haven’t found valuable? Do you continue to pursue it based on the promises of others?

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