Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Psalm #9

I live in a pocket of cold.  That's fine; I like the chill.  It's the tepidity just out of reach that haunts me.  I can see it, feel it like a phantom limb, but it's not real.  That's what I tell myself, praying to make it true.  I don't want to be lukewarm.  You've been clear it doesn't please you.  But I'm going to have to leave this bubble sometime.  I've upset too many with my hatred of mediocrity.  I want to be forward, but the world you made doesn't smile on such boldness.  Help me work my way through this lukewarm life to find the fire that will make me whole.  Help me be me, but better.  Help me bestow on others the peace that still exceeds my grasp.  Give me the faith to believe that the misery of these many years has been an illusion, that I was made to have joy.

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Psalm #8

Are the damaged damned to endless suffering?  Can broken-winged eagles hold each other aloft?  Can they fix each other?  What if their wings never heal?  Can they then become like the desert quail?  Can they give up soaring high, seeing their prey with keen eyes, and live off the ground?  Can they abandon their majesty, finding peace in their bobbed-head walk, pecking at seeds and insects?  How is such great change possible?  Lord, these are not hypotheticals; this is a prayer for answers.  Don't leave us in the dark.  Don't leave us to quake and quail.  Help us find some way to heal, even if it must be incomplete, even if we never find our way back to where we were years ago, even if we can never dream the dreams we once had.  Don't leave us broken.  Let us smile.

Monday, October 20, 2014

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Wednesday, October 15, 2014


I have social anxiety.  I have struggled to find the right words to explain to others what this means.  I have never been able to.  I've thought about this a lot lately.  Part of me wants to say that I understand what's going on, and it's just that others don't get it.  But I know that's not true.  I don't really get what's going on either.  So whatever I write is going to paint an incomplete portrait.  The only thing I can think to do is to individually examine some of the many fears that form my personal syndrome.  I'll try to explain the what.  Maybe you the reader can provide the why.  Consider the following:

  1. Fear of being the center of attention: I don't expect to enter a room and immediate attract the attention of others because of my amazing charisma.  However, more often than not, someone will ask a question of me that draws the benign attention of the rest of the group, who wait patiently for me to answer.  I usually find this unbearable, even though no harm is intended.
  2. Fear of being bored/boring: I rarely find a group that shares the same interests as me, so I expect them to find me tedious.  To a lesser extent, I don't know what to do if I find the other person dull.
  3. Fear of stumbling over words: I don't know how many people are aware of this, but I stutter.  It presents itself when my words can't keep up with my thoughts, or when I'm under pressure, or when I'm scared, or when I'm agitated.  I'm usually not very talkative.  I assume the two are related.
  4. Fear of seeming too weird: I like weirdness in others.  I've even embraced much of my own weirdness.  But I still worry that I'm so weird that it's off-putting.
  5. Fear of misunderstanding: I frequently say things that I intend to mean one thing but are interpreted to mean something rude by others.  Also, I frequently misunderstand what others say to me, which worries me greatly.
  6. Fear of seeming disingenuous: I have a pretty flat affect, so I always worry that people can't tell if I really mean what I'm saying.  I've had people accuse me of lying when I was being completely honest.
  7. Fear of being too honest: I am sometimes honest to a fault.  Most people, despite what they might say, like to be lied to most of the time.  I'm a terrible liar.  I worry that I'll say the wrong honest thing.
  8. Fear of performing: Because of my discomfort, I often feel I have to put on an act so others won't experience discomfort themselves.  This becomes physically taxing.  I'm typically exhausted at the end of these evenings.
  9. Fear of being impolite: I've all ready said that I worry about saying the wrong thing.  I also worry about not saying what should be said.  I may, for example, genuinely appreciate something but neglect to say so.  There may be an honest compliment that enters my mind that somehow doesn't pass my lips.  I actually like others to feel good about themselves, so I can't explain it.
  10. Fear of sensory stimulation: I can't handle loud or continual noises, bright or blinking lights, or touches by strangers very well.
  11. Fear of being judged on appearance: This one is pure vanity.  I've never felt handsome.  I've always felt fat, even when I wasn't.  I've been told I don't look like I'm very smart.  When it comes to romance, I always feel inferior.
  12. Fear of panic attacks: Anyone who's experienced a panic attack knows how awful they can be.  I've experienced many.  My chest feels tight, I struggle to breathe, my vision is blurry, my hands shake violently, I feel terrified but can't say of what.  It gets to the point that, if I have several attacks close together, the mere thought of having another one is disabling.

Every person, as far as I can tell, fears something.  There is a certain logic to some fears, such as those of the dark (there really are dangerous beasts out there in the night), snakes (a few species are, in fact, venomous), heights (falling from a high place would be rather unpleasant), medical procedures (we are genetically programmed to avoid pain), bacteria (a (very) small percentage are pathogenic), and, of course, clowns (they're just horrifying).  There reaches a point, however, where all fears become irrational.  I passed that threshold a long time ago.  Some might say, "Erik, we all have the types of fears that you have."  This may be true, but most of you won't become incapacitated by your fears.  I don't know the why that explains the debilitation I experience, but the debilitation is genuine.  I am so aware of being afraid, that I can't be "normal," at least not right now.

It should be noted that there are people, a select few, around whom I feel or have felt almost completely comfortable.  I will use pseudonyms, so as to not embarrass some of them.  There are my much older sister, Schmaren, my Aunt Schmonnie, my old friend Schmoe, and others.  There is also at least one that could reach that level in the future, if I could only get there.  And it's almost too easy with kids, who feel so comfortable around me that it's almost impossible to feel uncomfortable around them.

Don't give up on me, now.  That's my closing message.  It's really for you and me.

Sunday, October 12, 2014


Mayflies live in freshwater lakes, rivers, streams, etc, as larvae called naiads.  They eat and grow in the water for about a year until they molt to become sexually mature adults.  They emerge from the water en masse, with a belly full of air and useless mouthparts.  They're only purpose now is to reproduce, after which they all die.  Many live as adults for a day or less.  They belong to the insect order Ephemeroptera.  They're here, then they're gone.  Is this sad?  I don't think so.  They've lived full lives, however short, and they've met their purpose.

It's my birthday today.  I'm 36.  I should be depressed, maybe?  There have been birthdays in the not so distant past where I was, not entirely without good reason.  When I turned 30, I was very depressed and very angry, and it wasn't just because I was hitting a round number.  I had been blindsided exactly a week before by an unexpected and particularly unpleasant visit from my brother.  I'm not going to rehash what happened, but I slipped into a deep misery that took years to recover from, if I have completely.

I didn't have normal birthdays most of the time I was growing up.  Being the eighth of nine kids, there was always drama in the house, especially when three of my sisters were teenagers concurrently.  There frequently were breakdowns in the middle of my birthday party.  After I turned ten, I didn't usually have my own birthday parties; they were combined with my siblings, usually my sister Jill, whose birthday wasn't until the 30th.  I had a patient side, but waiting weeks for my birthday was never easy, especially when the party was so close to my sister's birthday that everyone forgot they were supposed to be celebrating my birthday too.  There were even years when they sang "Happy Birthday" and didn't include my name.  I know, poor me.

But times change.  Birthdays as an adult still pretty much suck, but I'm not depressed to be a year older.  I'm in a new place, both literally and metaphorically.  I don't know if I'm happy yet, but I see the possibility of happiness in the near future, though I sometimes need to be reminded of that.  Since moving to New Mexico, I've seen scores of balloons in the morning, smelled roasting chilies, rode a bike, met a long-lost uncle, looked over the lights of the nighttime city to see the faint outline of mountains, and made friends with some sweet little ones, who, contrary to what their mother might say, are not holy terrors.  It's been an interesting few weeks.

There's more to come in my ephemeral time here on Earth.  I may only have my one day, but there's a life to live and a purpose to fulfill.  Happy Birthday to me.

Friday, October 10, 2014

The Shocking True Story, I Think

Warning: This post should not be read by those with delicate sensibilities.


My parents never told me where babies come from, so I've had to piece it together over the years.  I think, now that I'm almost 36, I finally have it figured out.  So sit back and let me share my years of wisdom with you.  Come on now; don't be embarrassed.

  1. When I was a little guy, I heard my mother talk about a woman having her belly cut open to remove a baby.  This is how all babies are born.
  2. Women may develop growths on their abdomens which increase in size over several months but shrink after a baby arrives.  Obviously, then, taking into account what we know from fact #1, a baby is a tumor which must be surgically removed. 
  3. I heard a rumor somewhere that babies are made when you get naked.  I have been naked many times, and I've never made a baby.  Therefore, this rumor is nonsense.
  4. Ben Baugh, who lived up the street from me, said that baby-making had something to do with "baginas," which only ladies have.  I've looked up the word in many different dictionaries, and I've never found a definition.  I can only assume that there is a secret ladies-only dictionary somewhere that would let me know what a "bagina" is.
  5. Before babies show up, women make "pregnant."  This is some sort of dessert.  I don't know the recipe.
  6. I overheard one of my sisters saying pregnant occurs if a woman has the right cycle.  I don't know exactly what this means.  I can only assume it refers to owning the right brand of bike.  I guess it could mean you have to have a unicycle instead of a bike, or maybe a motorcycle.  Women have to try several different cycles until they find the right one.  This must be why they say it's expensive to have a baby.
  7. Pregnant can only happen when a man and a woman get married.  When the time is right, the wife makes pregnant and a baby appears.
  8. It's very complicated, but I'll try to explain how a baby can be either a boy or a girl.  First of all, it involves dressing the baby in either blue or pink.  Also, the baby's crib is blue or pink, and someone ties blue or pink balloons to the family's mailbox.  The baby wears diapers (because they are too lazy to use the toilet) which are blue or pink.  Girl babies sometimes wear dresses.  That's the extent of it, I think.  Oh, and boys have penises.
I hope this has been informative.  I am 100% certain of its accuracy.  Or I was, until a little four-year-old friend just told me that her babyhood began when she fell from the sky.  She seemed to know what she was talking about.  Further study may be required.

Monday, October 6, 2014

Schizologue #5

A: Where are we now?

B: New Mexico.

A: How is it?

B: Not bad.  Brown.

A: That's it?

B: No.

A: Well?

B: Well what?

A: Ugh.  Sometimes we annoy even ourselfs.

B: How about some more specific questions?

A: Do we have any regrets?

B: Of course we do.  Our life are full of regrets.

A: We really need to work on our grammar when we talk to ourselfs.

B: Why?  We understands what we's talking about.

A: Except when we don't.

B: Oh, right.

A: Do we regret leaving Auburn?

B: No.

A: Do we regret moving to New Mexico?

B: No.

A: How's the new house?

B: Pretty good, actually.

A: Housemates?

B: All right, it seems.

A: Are we being very social?

B: Seriously?

A: All right, that was a bad question.

B: No!  Really?

A: No sarcasm needed.  We're being pretty social with our housemates, though, aren't we?

B: Sure.

A: That's an improvement over Auburn.

B: Sure.

A: Are we going out?

B: We've been biking.

A: How's that gone?

B: No problem downhill.  It's killed us uphill.

A: We're inexperienced.  It'll get easier.

B: We're also out of shape.

A: We've lost a lot of weight in 2014.  It'll get easier.

B: Also, it's a freaking mile above sea level here.

A: Sure, the air is thinner, so we're getting less oxygen.  It'll get easier.

B: We don't think people here breathe oxygen.  They're a bunch of anaerobes.

A: But do we like it here?

B: Pretty much.

A: Do we like to complain?

B: Pretty much.

A: So, how, in general, do we spend our days?

B: Waiting.

A: Waiting?

B: Waiting.