Laughter

I’ve always been a Monty Python fan. Of course growing up male in the 70s, liking Monty Python and being able to quote most of the sketches line for line was a badge of honor among my friends and me. I got to the point where I could pick up just about any sketch just by someone repeating one line.

I even went so far as to create and run a Monty Python D&D dungeon that I ran at a major gaming convention for two years. I wrote songs and sketches and had a great time. I think it was the first time I really realized how much I enjoyed entertaining other people. It’s probably the main reason I like telling jokes and making people laugh.

Making people laugh is as much of an antidepressant as any of the other medications I’ve ever tried. Robin Williams had a great explanation for why this happens:

“I think the saddest people always try their hardest to make people happy. Because they know what it’s like to feel absolutely worthless and they don’t want anyone else to feel like that.”

My own experience is that I’m funnier when I’m feeling depressed. I always seem to come up with my best ideas then. I don’t know if it’s a matter of my brain self medicating or if it’s a matter of the connections that make for humor being loosened up because I’m busy focusing on how lousy I feel.

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Discouragement

I’ve been recovering from a broken leg for the last 4 1/2 months.

The top bit is from this particular ride. The bottom bit is from when I crushed my tibia over 20 years ago. I’m gonna be a laff-riot at the airport.

The doc says I’m going to need knee replacement surgery, because there’s no cartilage left and everything in the knee is bone on bone. However, to do that, they have to wait for the femur to heal and then they will take out the hardware. I’m assuming that they will have to wait for the holes left by taking out the screws before they can actually do the final surgery. It’s a lot like those tired TV plots where to get what he wants the hero has to take care of a rediculous series of other errands before the person he needs to help him will do so.

I suppose in another 10 years, I will look back on all this and laugh, but I won’t because I have to take my whole body in for a lube job and a tune up.

There are some who predict we will eventually experience a singularity between man and machine. I suspect that will be true for a future tech savvy generation. The rest of us will stumble around, trying to figure out how to set up the stations on our satellite radio in our self driving cars.

Told Ya!

As part of my attempt to get back to writing here more regularly, I went back and read all of my entries for the last 5 years or so.  The first thing I noticed was that I am not very good at proofreading, the second thing I realized was that I absolutely called the Trumpocalypse we are living through now.

I am really unhappy to have been right.

Once More Into the Breach

I’ve not written here for several years, but now I have gotten the writing bug back, so I will try to do better.  Not that anyone was waiting around for me to write anything, but it makes me feel better to think somebody might be reading this.

In the last three years, I have:

  • Found a job I thought I was my dream job
  • Discovered I shouldn’t try to do jobs that require a lot of attention to detail, or at least not development type jobs where I am not the only developer or am doing maintenance.
  • Was allowed to change roles to being a business analyst, job I’m much more suited to, provided I can keep my ADD in check.
  • Broke my femur almost immediately after
  • Written quite a few posts on LinkedIn

The most interesting thing about breaking your leg is how much it puts a number of other things into much clearer perspective.  For instance, the day it happened, I discovered that there was profanity in my vocabulary in languages that I don’t actually speak.  I also discovered that pain meds are both a god send and highly overrated.  They seem to be designed to lower the pain just enough to make it tolerable, but never enough so that you no longer feel it at all, at least not unless you take enough to become unconscious.

Four months later, I’m still staggering around on a walker, and hoping that things will heal up so that I can go back in to get a knee replacement, since there isn’t any cartilage left in the knee joint.  This results in my being reluctant to put much weight on the leg, which is not helping my recovery, needless to say.

Physical Therapy has been fun.  I’ve decided that Physical Therapy is an exercise in the Physical Therapist asking if you can do something, you replying “Yes, but it hurts like hell!”  The response is then “Okay do it for two sets of 10!”

But when I start to get down, I seem to figure out a way to say “It’ll get better eventually.” or “At least they didn’t have to take it off.”  Which may seem a bit morbid, but hey, any port in a storm.

 

Mr Fixit

So I’m back to trying to develop a writing habit in hopes that I can get myself trained to just sit down and write.  Whatever comes to mind, whatever piques my interest on any given day.

So these days, what am I doing?  I was in a production of Spamalot, did my first role in drag (Dennis’ Mother) and had a really great after project review at work.  Had some family challenges but went back to therapy and got them figured out, or figured out I couldn’t do anything about them, which is what I’m writing about now.

A big part of my identity is tied into my ability to solve problems. That’s what I do for a living. My family problems were something I couldn’t fix, because I wasn’t one of the people directly involved.

It took me a while to accept that I couldn’t fix things, in the process beginning to feel like a real failure.

I think we all pride ourselves on being able to solve our own problems, but we really can’t.  There are a lot of graves full of people who never accepted they couldn’t solve their problems on their own, without anyone’s help.  It’s not that we can’t help ourselves, but we need the help of others on a pretty regular basis in one form or another.  Our doctor helps us get well when we get sick, our friends help us feel less lonely (if they don’t make you feel less lonely, they’re not very good friends, in my opinion, or you need a different sort of friend.)

One of the problems I see constantly among those of the LIbertarian mindset is the denial of this one simple fact.  There isn’t one of us that isn’t dependent upon someone else for something, either for our very existence or at the very least the continued ease of our existence.  The only person truly responsible for themselves is a hermit, living off the land with no resources other than what he creates by his own hand.  I think most people don’t see that as a particularly desirable lifestyle.

A Bad Case of Humilogance

I work sometimes as a programmer, which has led me to any number of realizations about not only computers but about human nature as well.

Programmers are a lot like writers, in that a great deal of their time is spent staring blankly into space before laying fingers to keyboard, and some of my best solutions and ideas for writing come to me when I’m driving home for work, the highway hypnotizing me into amazing acts of  creativity.

Writers and programmers share another trait.  We secretly doubt the worth of our own work, but will defend it ferociously against crtiicism.  I think this fades with maturity, but at the beginning of my programming career I didn’t have enough experience to know that I had no idea what I was talking about most of the time.

With maturity came humility as I learned how much I didn’t know and how much there was still to learn.  That’s not to say that arrogance doesn’t still raise it’s ugly, swollen head, but now I have enough humility to tamp it down and ask more questions first.  Having a predisposition to premature understanding (I think I understand things before I really do), I’ve struggled with this, but I think I’ve got it down, finally.

I actually created my own word for this feeling: humilogance.  The definition of humilogance is having the overwhelming desire to call someone out for being stupid, but having the humility not to because you know you’re kind of a dumbass at times.

I’ve lost count of the times I should have had humilogance, but as I grow older it’s more a regular occurrence.  I guess it’s true, the more you learn, the more you realize how much there still is to learn.

Small Victories

I suffer from anxiety and depression.  It’s one of the things that I constantly struggle with.  It’s mostly a matter of the following thoughts running through my head over and over again:
* I’m not smart enough.
* I’m not doing a good job
* I’m letting people down.
* Why can’t I get my act together?

Often all it takes is a sideways glance from a supervisor or coworker or a mental shock to my system (being told that something wasn’t good enough when I thought I’d done a good job) and my mind is off to the races, creating no end of troubles that I can ruminate over again and again.

“Gentlemen, start your recriminations!” the voice in my head exclaims, as the obsessiing begins.  The sad thing is that when this happens, not only do I obsess about the present, but every failure, embarrasing gaffe or blunder comes along for the ride.

My therapist, who I am very glad for at times like this, says it all has to do with some kind of childhood trauma that set those patterns.  I think the record that seems to play over and over in my head at times like this is missing side 2.

Why can’t I obsess about good things?  The project that went well, or the time my wife was so excited because I sent her roses twice on our anniversary?  The moment at which I figured something out after a long drawn out effort?  What is it about our brains that won’t let us focus on the positive, at least those of us who suffer from this malady.

I’m proud of myself today though.  I sat down and did my exercise that I’m supposed to do when this happens.  I wrote down what I was feeling, what triggered it, and then started looking at the facts and realized that half of the things I was starting to get upset over weren’t worth it.  I was amplifying a few minor things and discounting the things that went well.

I wrote down the things that were going well, and then I wrote down a rebuttal to all of the feelings that were making me feel bad.  And guess what, I felt better immediately.

That may seem like a small accomplishment, but 3 months ago, I wouldn’t even have the energy to write this.  I would have been in my bed instead, trying to get unconscious so I ddin’t have to deal with it.

So at this point I am going to celebrate small victories.  Tomorrow is another day blah…blah….blah.