Unfinished

It’s been a long while since I sat down here without a specific topic to focus on. The urge to whip up words usually comes from some outside stimulus that prompts a flurry of thoughts that end up needing let out. Tonight, though, I’m just here to write whatever comes to mind. I’ve been thinking a lot lately, about a great number of things. I’ve shared a lot of these thoughts both here and on Twitter, but there’s a ton of energy bouncing around in my brain lately. I can chalk some of up to an extended break from work. My mind gets restless when it doesn’t have a sustained, focused distraction to keep in occupied and in motion. One of the things I’ve been thinking about, in fact, is writing.

I’ve always had this notion that I’d like to write a book. I’ve let a few ideas run around my mind for various stretches of time; some of these sat there marinating for years before finally fading out, while others only stuck around for a few weeks. I’d like to I’ve got some kind of knack for writing, or maybe just for language. I’ve been told by several people that I’m better at it than I give myself credit for, and I think there’s been enough of this now that maybe it’s time I start respecting their opinion despite my misgivings. This still leaves me at an uncertain place, though. I don’t have any ideas left to mull over, or any from the past that I can really run with. Fiction, as much fun as it is to be absorbed into, just isn’t my wheelhouse.

I’m not sure what else there is. Most of my experience, and most of the things I’ve written that people seem to enjoy, are basically journal entries. They’re why I keep renewing this domain name, keep paying my hosting fees to hold onto my corner of the internet. That, and I’m pretty fond of the domain name itself. A blog is a far cry from a book, though, both in scope and in audience. After all, there’s a pretty big leap from spending a few minutes to scroll through a webpage at some point in your day to paying cash money for a thing to devote more serious time to, likely over an extended period.

Nobody wants to read the biography of some unknown author. Those sorts of things are reserved for the folks that people already have an interest in. The point of a biography isn’t as an introduction, it’s a behind-the-scenes glimpse at work that the reader already enjoys. Whether it’s a look back at a political career, an actor or director reminiscing on bygone projects, the self-told life story of a wealthy businessman — they’re an in-depth examination of things you’re already passively aware of. I suppose, though, that becoming rich or famous isn’t exactly the goal I’d have in mind, anyway (though being rich wouldn’t necessarily be the worst outcome).

The only other thought that springs to mind is, essentially, just a longform documentation of my opinions on a topic or selection of topics. The problem I run into here is that, outside of myself, I don’t think there are many topics I’m a particularly valid source of knowledge on. Not to say that I think I’m ignorant, but there aren’t exactly a lot of things that haven’t already been written about by much more qualified people.  That hasn’t, historically, been enough to stop droves of authors from offering their less-informed take on any of a number of things, but I’m not entirely sure that’d be something to shoot for. I don’t really feel like branding myself as some half-cocked pundit is the road I’d consider ideal.

So that leaves me here, at a quarter past ten, pouring random thoughts into an electronic box and wondering where, if anywhere, I could begin. It’s incredibly difficult to take the first step on any journey, but it’s compounded by a lack of destination. At this point, I can’t even say that there’s a path to take. So I keep finding my way back here where I can just unload anything that I feel. It’s the best way I’ve found to organize my thoughts, and maybe just putting something here on this topic will spark something, will get some of the swirling out and allow me to find something I can write about. I’m not counting on it, but hey, a girl can dream.

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Labeled

Today, social media is all atwitter (heh) with the unveiling of Caitlyn Jenner’s Vanity Fair cover. Personally, I couldn’t be more thrilled to see her getting this spotlight, and the majority of the conversation that I’ve seen spinning off of this across the internet has been very good and very positive. Still, it’s a conversation that always stirs up my mind a bit, since I still don’t have a real lock on where I fall in the grand spectrum of LGBTQ+ identity. Being that I identify as a gender other than the one assigned to me at birth, there’s likely some spot on that wave that fits me, I’ve just never found the part of it that I can identify and embrace. Part of this comes from a place of uncertainty, while other pieces of the puzzle come from my lack of personal preference and my desire to tread carefully on the experiences or lives of others.

For my own part, the idea of “trans*” has always seemed to imply an intent — or, at least, a desire — to become physically aligned with one’s gender identity. Having had some time to reflect, I’m not even sure that I know where that came from. While the easy answer is that I’ve simply assumed that the trans– prefix to be related to transition, this isn’t necessarily the right way of looking at it, either in actual examination of the word or of my own process in defining it. Of course, I’ve deconstructed my own thoughts here far too often to even put together a rational argument here; and that’s where this all bleeds into the much more important piece: none of this has anything to do with how I identify.

I was born a white dude. This, in itself, gives me an advantage in almost every area of life. While admitting that my gender identity isn’t the same as my outward expression or appearance, it’s easier for me to be — or feel — accepted for who I am simply as a byproduct of my starting position. Many trans/non-binary/etc folk simply do not get this edge, and that’s the hinge of most of my hesitation to say I am, or am not, anywhere on the list of defined identities. These people had to fight tooth and nail for their place, and struggle to this day; maybe they want to undergo reassignment, but can’t for economic reasons. Maybe they’re trapped in the social pressures of their outward appearance, and can’t step forward as easily as I did with their feelings. If I, from my place of privilege, attempt to put boundaries on what they wish to be called, then I’m stepping all over something that I have no right to — which, I think we can admit, is something there’s enough of from other light-skinned penis owners out there.

So this is where I admit that, while I don’t have a real preference for any of the labels I’ve seen, that’s entirely my own personal choice. Maybe I’m trans*, maybe I’m queer, maybe I’m somewhere between these. Maybe I truly belong within some other place in the myriad of names that exist for those who, whether or not they’re comfortable in their own skin, don’t feel it’s the truest expression of who they really are. Maybe there’s a name I haven’t yet heard that will speak to me when I do; god knows it would be nice to have some nicely packaged box to place myself in, if only for the convenience of explaining myself to others. But know this: as of now, I do not have a preferred category. I am not interested in making others refer to me by any particular set of pronouns. I am not concerned with what names or methods exist for these things, because ultimately, I am being the human that I want to be, and I feel loved and accepted for it.

For those out there who don’t — who can’t — share this feeling, I do not mean to erase your struggle or to make it seem unimportant. Far from it. I recognize that I came into this with an advantage that, for better or for worse, is not one I can lay down. Please know, if you feel marginalized: you are loved. If you feel like you cannot be yourself because outside forces prevent it: support is out there. If your friends, your coworkers, or your family do not make you feel accepted: there are those of us who care. There are people — many people — who would love to see the beautiful, unique person that you are, whoever they may be in contrast to the skin you’re wearing. Caitlyn Jenner’s story is so far removed from the experiences of so many people, but please see that her platform is a step in the right direction, a force that can drive the conversation that we, as humans together, should be having.

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Break

Sometimes, I come here just to vent some steam. It’s been quite a while since I sat down to do this — probably because all of my creative energy lately has been funnelled into games reviews and training for a new position at work. This all takes time. Energy. Effort. It takes a lot of things that, frankly, I feel waning. I’ve kept myself going through all of my moments of weakness by simply focusing on a goal, on a better future that’s not so roughshod. I work so I can earn money so I can save up and, in theory, end up owning a home in which to raise my children; I work so that I don’t lose my mind seething over my own frailties and shortcomings. Sometimes, though, things bubble up, I struggle, and I bite down to force back the sensation that everything I’m doing isn’t building a damn thing.

I didn’t have a childhood particularly filled with hardships. We were far from wealthy, sure, but we had our necessities, and we had a family, and we had plenty. Still, the best thing I’ve been able to hold as motivation is giving my kids more than I had. I think, really, that’s a line that runs in my family — in many families, I’m sure. That, while we’ve got what we need to survive and, by some definition, thrive, that the best legacy is to build more for the next generation. It’s the very embodiment of the American dream, of what it is that we’re all working towards — not always for kids, of course, but for something.

The line sold from schoolyard to skyscraper is that more is better. That our most fundamental reason for existence is to make our existence more than it is; more meaningful, more comfortable, more dramatic, more noteworthy. Humanity’s only constant: the drive to improve. Become better. Stronger. Richer. Wiser. For what? For a future, for a legacy, for fame or fortune or glory or — well, for anything. Whatever it is, whichever ideal we’re seeking, what we have simply can’t be enough because there’s a greener pasture, there’s a bigger fish, there’s a plusher seat from which to watch the world burn. There’s a better fuel to pour over the degrading cinders.

Today has been very, very hard for me. I can’t even put a name to why; I didn’t do anything particularly difficult, I didn’t overextend myself, physically or emotionally. And yet, here I am, at the end of my day, feeling like a tight-wound rope pulling apart, like whatever I’ve been building for this whole time is nothing more than a shimmering oasis that, once reached, becomes another in an endless swirl of arid, acrid sands. I see smiles on my children’s faces, and these make everything I do worth any ounce of pain I endure, every drop of sweat I squeeze out. Every bad day at work is worth it if they’re comfortable, fed, and safe. Still, there’s more that I need to secure that comfort and safety, there’s things I can’t promise or provide while struggling to eke out my own sense of harmony within a chaotic swirl of wishing I could simply stand up and say “It will all be okay” — not to them, because I can do that — but to myself.

Confidence has never been a strong suit, but it’s one I’ve worn despite my own misgivings. I get up every morning and I do what I need to do, for the singular purpose of ensuring that, at the end of each day, I can say I’m striving to make things better. To imagine that, at some point, I won’t check my bank account every day to make sure that we’re still afloat. To imagine that, one day, I’ll wake up and feel like I’ve accomplished what I feel I must accomplish, instead of feeling like I’ve scraped by to meet the barest minimum of survival and provision for those that depend on me. These struggles aren’t mine alone, and that’s probably the only reason I’m able to keep a grin while I bear through whatever it is I’m doing, but – well. Some day, I’d like to look back and think that I didn’t just do what I had to, or what I could, but that I truly did what was best and most beneficial for my family.

And today is not that day. I don’t look back at the chores I did, the good times at the movie theater, the balancing act of keeping life moving forward and think, “Well done.” I look back and I think it should have been more. How is it that I’m to build a meaningful future, a meaningful life, when I turn to desperate diversions when I could be doing something else? How can I call myself hard-working when I still take time to sit here and vomit words into the ether, contemplating the value of my own labours versus the time spent here exhausting myself for thinking they’re not enough?

This will pass, I know. All things do. Sometimes, though — I just need to come here and vent steam, for the sake of getting thoughts out of my head. It may not be the best coping mechanism, but I’ve no idea what is.

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Clever Title Goes Here

So, as most anyone reading this probably knows, I write about video games for a website. There are obvious reasons that this piece is written here, on my personal blog, rather than there. It should go without saying, but for the sake of absolute clarity, the thoughts herein are entirely my own and do not reflect upon those of the site I write for, nor anyone but myself. They’re kept here, separated, to help ensure that some of the things bouncing around in my brain have an outlet so that they don’t impact my work writing about games, because – despite what much of this may sound like – I really, honestly enjoy playing and writing about games. It’s phenomenally fun, rewarding, and I’m not planning on stopping. Still, there are things that I see in the greater community that, for various reasons, I can’t simply remain silent on. So here are my thoughts about some things.

By now, nearly everyone that’s connected to the gamer community, whether fully-invested or tangentially-interested, has come across something that I see in effect on a near daily basis. It comes in small pieces, or in huge waves (as there have been recently); it comes in whispers online, and it comes in smash-hit news or rumormongering. It’s in comment sections, social media sites, and everywhere else that the gaming community lives and thrives. I’m talking about an epidemic that reaches through to the furthest corners of our collective space, lingering and festering. I’m talking about a harsh, cruel, and unnecessary mistreatment of members of the community. More specifically, as it seems to come up more, it’s a mistreatment of female members of the community.

Let’s reflect for a moment on some of the hot stories that have been on the fingertips of many gamers of late; the tales of Zoe Quinn and Anita Sarkeesian. Now, I’m not here to say that I agree (or disagree) with anything that either of these two do. I won’t wade into that tinderbox, because it’s a ridiculous minefield that I’m not safe entering. Honestly, I don’t care who does or doesn’t agree with them — that’s not the point. What I know, beyond all doubt, is that the harassments hurled at them, and anyone who expresses support for them, is absolutely, positively beyond anything that they deserve. Before you cut me off — though I’m sure it’s too late for that — yes, I’m aware that some of you think they brought it on themselves. That’s great for you. It’s nice to know that you’re so secure in being wrong.

And if you think that either of these ladies brought this level of vitriol on themselves, you’re wrong. Sure, there’s misinformation or deception on either side of the story,. That’s fine to point out, to call “bullshit” when you see it. I have no problem with anyone saying that they don’t like these, or any other, member of our shared community. I draw a line, though, at specific death threats, the publishing of personal information such as, for example, home addresses — which have been “outed” recently for both of the aforementioned. I can’t even fathom the level of pure spiteful rage that must exist in someone that they decide, “This person is saying things I don’t like. I should recruit an internet mob to drive them from their home.

I’m also not interested in hearing that the threats are “overblown”. I’ve seen the threats, ranging from vague statements to acutely specific ones. Not screenshots that may have been doctored, not shreds of hearsay taken out of context, but actual threats levied directly at these women with the intent to intimidate, scare, or bring harm to them. It’s ludicrous to me that I have to say this, but threatening the life or wellbeing of a member of our community – of my community – is not fucking okay. Disagree, sure. Refuse to buy anything from companies or developers that support them or their ideas, fine. I’ve seen a list put together of companies for exactly that purpose, and I have no problem with every angry gamer walking away forever from Double Fine, BioWare, and other entities that support the “feminist agenda” or “LGBT lifestyle”. That’s great. Put your money where your mouth is, and stop buying things from companies pushing things you don’t like.

For fuck’s sake, though, be human about it. To reiterate, I’m not encouraging anyone to “get along” or to change how they feel, just use some common decency in your actions. If you think that there’s some “feminist conspiracy” that’s somehow ruining games, I want you to take a deep breath and say aloud for me: “No they aren’t.” Because guess what? It’s actually not possible. Nobody can “ruin games” by making YouTube videos or creating their own games that aren’t like the ones you love. It’s pretty clear at this point that the ‘big studios’ that pump out the AAA hits aren’t listening particularly closely, and they’re going to keep on pumping out hit after hit for you to keep up your hobbies. That’s not in danger.

What is happening is that games are expanding. By adding new voices, perspectives, and creators, we’re getting more new games, and new types of games, than ever before. It’s a really beautiful thing to see, and many of my favorite games from my time writing reviews include some fantastic indie games, from the bizarre Aqua Kitty Milk Mine Defender to the hypermasculine gun-fest Broforce. Neither of these could exist in a world where the whole of the gaming community was a single demographic, a singular audience. They require – and are formed from within – the diversity and breadth of the present landscape.

The problem arises when these divergent, wildly different demographics meet at a point on which there’s a fundamental difference of opinion between two large, vocal groups. This friction builds up because, at our very core, most gamers take the games they love pretty seriously. They’re close to us, a part of who we are and how we identify with the world and ourselves. This attachment leads to our feeling personally attacked when the games we enjoy are attacked, or things we don’t think are true are said about them. It’s a defense mechanism because, on some level, the assault on our hobby becomes an assault on ourselves, and things boil over quickly because there’s a snap reaction to fight back, and it just keeps feeding back into itself.

I don’t think there’s any way to stop that kind of interaction from happening. I really don’t, and I’m not sure it needs to stop. In it’s own way, a healthy conflict can make both sides examine issues closer. Too often, though, things boil into outright fucking madness. Threats, “doxxing”, pulling apart the private lives of complete strangers – and that? It’s not fucking okay. That’s not how we, as adults, interact with one another. And if you’re not an adult? Fuck off, youth isn’t an excuse for treating humans like garbage. I don’t know what the hell point you think you’re making, or what change you’re thinking you’ll bring about by acting that way, but it’s simply beyond anything that anyone should be doing to anyone else, much less anyone else in the same community — even if it’s a vastly different pocket of that community.

The fact is, for whatever reason, it seems to be that lashing out in sometimes extreme ways is a portion of human nature. Some people – and there’s some on each side in any of these kinds of things — just have an inclination to push further than the rest of us. Some just literally can’t help themselves, and have to keep trying to take things to the next level in some kind of ideological arms race that eventually escalates into brutal, unacceptable territory. Again, I’m at a loss as to how this kind of behaviour could ever be stopped. I’m pretty sure that it can’t be; we can’t just tell people to act a way that’s different than how they’re wired. That’s really one of the core concepts at play in some of the recent friction, anyway. All I really know is that I wish I could dream up some social miracle-cure and somehow bring everything back to a place where actual conversation can happen between people, groups, or even entire subcultures can disagree without the looming threat of neverending, and extremely dangerous, abuse.

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When Pillars Fall

Over the course of the last two weeks or so, I’ve watched as two communities that I’m a part of take long, hard looks inside of themselves. At the root of each of these, there’s a significant cultural toxicity that’s existed under the veneer of shared interests, finally boiling up from the depths of these burgeoning collectives of humanity. I’ve watched people I’ve known and respected be revealed as unworthy of respect, and I’ve watched insane fallout as battle lines of some sort are drawn across the sphere; nobody’s entirely sure who’s on which side, or even what the sides are outside of some idealistic view of what a community should be. There’s truth interwoven with vicious rumour, there’s lies sprinkled with damning truth, and there’s a multitude of interpretations and reactions.

It’s been a really, really tough thing for a lot of people. Some have stood up and bravely exposed ugly things that surge under the surface of the community; some have demanded proof, or rejected the idea that anything is wrong. Some have lashed out in anger, or in confusion, or in simple disbelief that the accusations being thrown around are founded in reality. We all, as humans, have some desire to feel like we’re supporting the right people, that we’re good judges of character and that we surround ourselves with people that deserve and respect our time. We build up communities because we share some common thing, whether it’s a hobby or an ideal or a political stance — we create a force that’s greater than the sum of its parts, and certain pieces of the puzzle become bigger than themselves by the very nature of what we’ve constructed.

I’ve often heard the phrase “pillar of the community”, and it’s these very pillars that become the junctions to formation of even larger groups. A single person may bridge a gap, intentionally or not, between two disparate but related circles, and suddenly those circles are one – they join together, forging a stronger and larger group, all because one link in the chain was made strong enough or bright enough to act like a beacon to those who want to be a part of something greater. And who doesn’t want to be a part of something greater? It’s a basic human instinct, the way we’ve survived ice ages and world wars, the way we’ve carved the history of all humankind from the epochs of Earth.

The problem is that, no matter how venerated, no matter how pure their intentions, these pillars of any community all share a fatal flaw: they are human. Humans do stupid things. Humans do hurtful things. Humans fall. And when the linchpin falters, then there’s a decisive split within any group that formed around them, any platform they supported on their backs. When these pillars crack or crumble, or when the cracks that have been spreading for years are suddenly laid bare for all members of the community to see, we’re left at a loss. The light that called us together goes out, and we fumble in the dark for answers — he’s misunderstood, she’s being too serious, they’re not looking at this the right way. From the fallout of these collapses, the dust gets in our eyes and we all are guilty, at times, of being blinded by it, of being susceptible to knee-jerk reaction, amplified by a multitude of people all reacting in different ways to the same stimulus.

So, where do we turn when a community consumes itself in righteous fury? What do we do, but turn on each other and strike while the iron is hot? The immediacy of the internet’s social platform inevitably leads to instant vitriol, made all the more toxic by the propensity for everyone to signal-boost and pile on to whichever piece of things makes the most sense to them. We grasp for the only piece of a confusing mess that makes any sense, whether it’s buying a lie or rejecting all unproven variables. We latch on to any shred of hope that we were right from the start, and use even the slightest piece of supporting information to solidify our stance and entrench our beliefs in whichever things we need to be right. Each person fabricates this unconsciously, putting together the only sequence that their mind is willing to accept, and — well, some of them are going to be right, but when the chips are still falling, it’s impossible to know where they’ll land.

Conflict is the one constant in all of human history. From the first time our primordial ancestors decided that a thing could belong to one entity or group, we’ve built engines towards the end of ensuring that the sacred cow remains in the possession of the right prophet. We’ve torn down cities and civilizations in the name of reclamation, and built empires on the backs of the unworthy to justify our own superiority. While the history books keep close the events of those which influence global policy and belief, there’s little to no record beyond our own thoughts and deeds to write the history of the smaller things; things that, ultimately, may seem petty in the grand scheme, but which are the most important things to ever transpire in the lives of those living them. It’s easy to take the moral high ground and simply disregard the “Others”, or to smirk and say that these things aren’t going to change, that they don’t matter since their impact is only on these few hundreds who form the community.

These things matter. No person is any more or less allowed to feel the gravity of any one thing, just because another fails to see what they see. No person is permitted to dictate to another person which things in life are important, and which are not. None of us have the right to tell another person that something just doesn’t mean anything, or that we should just walk away rather than being an advocate for change. There’s no set of rules or regulations on the scope of human emotions, or the way that we categorize the things that matter to us. Issues large and small, global and local, are important; just because they’re important to less people, this does not make them any less important. If one person feels that a thing is their reason for being, nobody has any right to strip that meaning, or to deny it. Inevitably, though, the dissonance between one person or group and another creates an irreconcilable friction, and these build up over time, and eventually the whole thing is up in flames because passion, for all its beautiful potential, has a way of clouding reason.

At the end of the day, the events that have ripped through these communities I belong to will eventually sputter, but they will not have died. The things that have happened, the rifts that have opened, cannot be undone, and I’m suffering because in both events, I’m able to see points from multiple angles. I’ve often thought that I’m either blessed or cursed with some acute empathy. It makes me insane to see two people that I know and respect tear at each other over these things, to see two sides of the same coin wage violent protest against each other. I’ve seen it a lot recently, and it’s something I can hardly even begin to process myself, and as I catch myself compartmentalizing people as being “this side” or “that group” I have to step back and remember that months, weeks, maybe even days ago, this was one entity, one community that shared itself despite its flaws, and now the gaping wounds are healing into scars that I’m not really able to reconcile.

I wish that I could say I’ve got clarity in these days. I wish that I could say I’ve had the time or the capacity to see where the dust is settling, but frankly, I’d be lying to myself, and I try not to do that. I’ve seen good friends say things that hurt me or other good friends. I’ve been warned against continuing to associate with certain people by people that, days earlier, were associating with each other. I’ve built my own little tower to watch the battle, and it makes me as bad as anyone in the trenches spitting fire and brimstone and scorching out whatever they feel doesn’t belong. I wish I could say I’ve been a better person than some of those who’ve been exposed as something less, but again, I think I’d be lying to myself. I wish I could say that any of what’s happened has made me feel better about myself, or has helped me find something to champion, but it comes out empty and I’m left sitting here, watching as the walls cave in, wondering if I should have left the building while knowing that a safe retreat is cowardice.

I guess what it comes to is that I really, honestly wish that humans could reach a social evolution that would allow us to be great. I’ve spent years believing in the good in people, and years playing the cynic that refutes that it can exist. I’ve marvelled at the beauty of our species and the heights to which we can soar, and stood agape at the horrors we’ve wrought. I see so much potential, so much pure, unbridled power within so many people that I can’t comprehend it, but I see so much waste and spite for its own sake that it boggles my mind. It’s said that a person can achieve anything they set their mind to, that faith the size of a mustard seed can move mountains, but here in the muck and mire of what we truly choose to do, it’s all but impossible to even think that these are true.

I’m at a loss as to where this goes from here. I wish I could stand up and tell people to just get along, to be good to one another, to stop tolerating or propagating bullshit. I’d love, more than anything, to have some solution to what’s eating these communities, and the people within them, alive. I’m being gutted near-daily by one-off comments and miniature lectures from pulpits built on what we feel is right, and there are so many of these that I don’t even know, sometimes, which ones I agree with. Everyone feels like they’ve got The Answer, but we’re all refusing to acknowledge that it’s a trick question and we’re all fooled by our own perceptive filters. I’m as guilty of this as anyone, but I’ve tried to (by and large) keep a lot of it to myself out of some misguided sense of social parity.

The fact is, there are toxic elements to any community. We can either suffer them in silence for the good of the whole, or we can speak up for the sake of change, but these are both things that often fail to do anything useful. By remaining quiet on the cancerous elements, we tolerate their existence and embolden those who perpetuate them. By standing against them, we build walls and start fires that will burn across our collective landscape — and, more often than not, we solidify the very opinions we’re hoping to see snuffed out. Conflict, after all, is in the hearts of all of us, and the clearest piece of human-to-human interaction that’s out there. Very little causes us to double down on our beliefs more than someone declaring to us that they’re wrong – after all, these sanctimonious naysayers are simply misinformed, we say, or they’d agree with us. And so, the cycle repeats itself in an endless feedback loop that’s not likely to end with anyone’s point of view having been properly constructed or understood.

I’m not sure what else I can say here, except that I’ve little left in me for fighting battles right now. I’ve seen too much damage already, and much of it can never – maybe should never – be repaired. I’ve observed and participated as beloved communities have struck themselves into furor, and I’m worn thin from trying to put it together in my mind. I’m here, writing this, because I needed to vent some things, to allow my thoughts the space to breathe. I’m here because I’m bleeding and I don’t know if I’ll stop, and I don’t know if I want to, because in some way, feeling the sting is a means of feeling alive, of feeling like a part of something that’s happening. I hope that someday it heals, but for now? For now, I’ve got my wounds to examine, and communities to build or burn. After all, I’m only human.

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