Adulthood

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What does it mean to be an adult?

A discussion I had after my most recent blog post (the latest in my series of “Jeff has an existential crisis every so often but he’s OK after getting it all out” posts) spurred me to think on the topic of adulthood. This is something I’ve often thought about, and as a 37-year-old guy who’s never been married, owned his own property, or had a large amount of disposable income, and spends his free time with hobbies that came from his childhood (such as video games), I might be labeled by some as a manchild who still needs to grow up. On the other hand, I am 37 years old and self-reliant (current pandemic-related work situations notwithstanding), so what more would one need? Let’s look at this a bit more in-depth.

The knee-jerk “therapy” definition of adulthood would be something like, “Adulthood is whatever you do as an adult! You don’t have to comply with someone else’s rules, man! Be authentic and your true self!” and all that. While that’s probably true, I don’t think it’s the full truth; otherwise the term “manchild” wouldn’t exist, as being a man or woman would be the only qualification for not being a child. There are certainly people in their 30’s and 40’s (and probably beyond) that are “less adult” than their peers, and we can all think of examples, but what really defines that? Where’s the line?

The default societal view is that a person with a spouse, kids, a house, a car or two, a well-paying job, and adult hobbies (I mean things like sports or the stock market or, uh, carpentry? Lawn care? Power tools? Whatever.) is a better adult than a person lacking some or all of those things. Or at least that was the message I was bombarded with when I was younger, both through media portrayals and through other people’s expectations. Do you, by instinct, look at a father or mother as more adult than a childless couple or a single person, even if you have to mentally correct that? Or do you even bother to challenge that personal viewpoint, if you hold it?

I think the answer here must start by unraveling external vs. internal adulthood, i.e. if society perceives someone as a responsible and trustworthy adult vs. if a person views themselves as a trustworthy and responsible adult. And, as a case study, let’s take two cartoon dads created in wildly different shows for completely different audiences and time periods, who nonetheless share a surprising amount of traits: Kirk van Houten from The Simpsons, and Greg Universe from Steven Universe.

(Disclaimer: I have currently only watched through about three-fourths of season 1 of Steven Universe, as part of a deal I made with my nieces to get them to watch more Star Trek, so it’s possible that Greg’s character may change in the future and negate some of this discussion. If this is so, don’t tell me; I’m avoiding spoilers!)

(Disclaimer 2: I also haven’t seen the most recent few seasons of The Simpsons but who cares)

Both of these characters are single dads with only one son who doesn’t live with them. Both are balding, overweight, middle-aged men with mundane jobs (Kirk was a cracker factory middle manager until he got fired and has held a bunch of low-paying entry-level jobs, and Greg runs a car wash). Both have been portrayed and described in-universe as irresponsible losers, whose incapability to make more out of their own lives has placed them on the lower rungs of society, and both lack any real ambition. At a cursory glance, these two occupy the same space in society. In fact, if one were going by looks alone, Kirk would probably be recognized as the more “adult” of the two, seeing as he at least used to own a house, and he’s got a respectable, if stuffy, outfit on, while Greg’s cutoffs, tank top, and thigh-length mullet don’t exactly scream “investment firm and avid golfer” to me (also he lives in either his van or a car wash; I’m not 100% sure which). Externally, Kirk is the winner.

But things change if you explore their internal views. Kirk van Houten has kept up appearances (relatively), but is a giant mess. His marriage ended because he was more concerned that his marriage looked perfect rather than working to make it strong, needling his wife about not living up to his expectations (expectations that he fell far short of himself). He’s never happy with any of the jobs he holds (for the brief time he’s held them), he holds himself in a never-ending cycle of self-pity and false self-assurance, and nobody respects him because he doesn’t respect himself. He’s more concerned with what he’s lost (his marriage) than he is with what he has left (his son Milhouse, who ends up being treated by Kirk more as a bargaining chip between him and his ex-wife than as an actual son). He’s proud of his single-guy race car bed, until Homer deflates him by stating that he sleeps in a bed with his wife.

Greg Universe, on the other hand, is content where he is. His job is no better than Kirk’s random jobs, but his ambitions are satisfied. He engages with his son Steven on a personal level, raising him and playing with him, and treating him with respect even when he’s being silly. He doesn’t care what it looks like to outsiders like the judgmental mayor or the pizza guy and his family down the street. He’s certainly not perfect (he’s a bit of a mooch sometimes) but he’s certainly more likeable, and he’s happy with his own life situation, even if it’s not the typical version of success.

In other words, Kirk tries to fulfill society’s expectations and fails, while Greg pursues his own goals (that are contrary to society’s expectations) and succeeds.

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The thing Greg has that Kirk lacks. It’s dignity!

So which is more adult? Greg seems like he’d be the choice internally, even if Kirk looks more put-together on first glance.

But I picked Greg Universe for another reason. There is another type of character that often appears in stories: the fun-loving single dad who loves his kids but is a mess otherwise (think Mrs. Doubtfire, or P. L. Travers’ dad in Saving Mr. Banks, or Caracatus Potts from Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, or probably dozens more). Most of these characters are great dads (to their kids) but terrible providers: too irresponsible to provide their kids with the basics. They don’t want to be deadbeat dads, but financial difficulties or substance abuse issues or whatnot force them to lose custody, either to an ex-wife or the state or whatever, even if they’re happy with their lifestyle and secure in their lack of ambition, and they love spending time with their kids (however limited that may be). But certainly they aren’t acting like adults, are they?

What makes Greg Universe more of an adult than Mrs. Doubtfire (or whatever the guy’s actual name is that Robin Williams plays)? Internal things, like self-confidence and contentment? External things, like financial stability and social standing? Where’s the line?

I don’t have kids or a spouse, so I can’t speak to that part of it, but for my part I tend to ping-pong between Kirk van Houten and Greg Universe depending on the circumstance. I was raised in the LDS church, and was taught growing up some very specific things about how to be the ideal man, and until my early 30’s I internalized those specifics even though I wasn’t either capable of or happy with pursuing all of them. Even now, after I left the church, I still carry those teachings within me, and some days it’s difficult to reconcile my current lifestyle with who I was told I should be by now. Other days I look at what I’m doing with my life and I’m more optimistic: I have a decent job (let’s, uh, ignore the special pandemic circumstances and assume I’m talking about my life pre-March here) doing something I like; even though the hours are bad and the pay isn’t much, it’s something I enjoy and get value out of. I live in my own (rented) place and am able to cover all my living costs, even though I mostly live paycheck-to-paycheck. I spend my off-hours doing things I enjoy, and I spend time with friends and family when I can, even though I don’t have a family of my own.

So am I a successful adult? Is that an internal thing, where some days I feel like one and others I don’t? Would I be less of an adult if I actually had kids but kept up my current lifestyle? Is this some weird paradox where having kids normally makes you more of an adult, as long as you were already a good enough provider before taking on that responsibility; otherwise your non-adult tendencies have far more dire consequences and makes you less of an adult than a childless person in similar circumstances?

Here’s the final wrinkle: if I wanted to get married (and I still would like to get married if I find the right person), I was told growing up that I needed to be the best person/provider I could be so that I could support kids. So I go out with you, hypothetical date. Which would you rather date/marry/raise a family with: the person with no ambition but who is warm, loving, and kind; content with his lot in life, even though it consists of running a car wash and living out of a van? Or the person who’s trying his best to be a great middle manager at the cracker factory; even though he’s bad at it, he’s at least trying to move upward? Or me, someone who is both of these, depending on the day? Or is the only acceptable adult the one who’s already got everything together, who’s both financially well-off and completely well-adjusted, and everything and everyone else isn’t worth your attention and effort (which is often the answer I’ve gotten from people I’ve dated)?

You don’t have to actually answer that, but think about it for a while, and be honest with yourself. I realize that, in the end, it’s really semantics, and that “therapy” answer I gave earlier is the correct one in most situations. But in order to meet external expectations (such as with dating, or with self-promotion so as to advance in your career), you have to show external characteristics of adulthood. Put on that sweater over your tank top, and wear those Dockers instead of the cutoffs.

I’m not gunning for a particular answer here, but again, I wish to ask and start a discussion: what does it mean to be an adult?

Hiding in the crack under the railing, to not disturb your nap

I saved a spider today.

I was just about to lie out on a cot I have set up on my apartment balcony. Since I live on the third floor, I almost never get bugs or critters in my actual apartment, and I had swept out and washed the entire balcony near the beginning of summer. But as I prepared to lie down, headphones donned and podcast having already started, I noticed a huge collection of webs in the corner, mere inches from where my feet would’ve been. My first instinct was to abandon the balcony and never return, but, swallowing that fight-or-flight response, I instead calmly headed inside and filled a liquid measuring cup with some water to drown out the webs without hitting it with a broom and making stuff fly everywhere (including whatever spiders and/or prey might be trapped in it). Sure enough, eventually, a spider came scurrying out from the crack underneath my balcony railing where it had been hiding and got washed a few feet into the middle of the balcony, where it eventually came to rest.

I could’ve squashed it easily. I could’ve tagged it with some Raid that I have under the sink, or trapped it under a cup until it died. On the other end of the freakout scale, I could’ve just let it be. Not disturbed its web, or let it run to wherever it would run and build a new web (closing the door so the web wouldn’t be inside my apartment, obviously). But I didn’t want it dead. The poor thing was probably starving, as I didn’t see any bugs caught in its web (like I said, being on the third floor does have its perks when it comes to insect problems), and it wasn’t its fault that a huge creature hundreds of times its size just wanted to listen to a Midwestern sci-fi podcaster talk about the Jurassic Park novel for half an hour while enjoying the summer air. But my fight-or-flight response wouldn’t allow me to relax when a giant spider’s nest was mere inches away from my cot.

So I compromised with it. Using a process involving an overturned cup, several sheets of too-flimsy paper, a discarded frozen dinner box, a pair of dusty work gloves that were mostly for security theater purposes, and a nerve-wracking walk down three flights of stairs with a tight grip, I finally set it free out in the lawn of the apartment complex somewhere, free to do whatever it wanted. Sure, the process ended up taking like fifteen minutes and I had to restart the podcast, but I was finally able to lay down and relax, knowing that the problem had been solved, not only for me, but for the terrifying yet helpless creature I had relocated.


I was furloughed from my job (I work in audiovisual doing conventions and parties at a hotel) back in March due to the COVID-19 pandemic, with the expectation that I would go back once the virus was under control (the first early estimates were for May, though that quickly got pushed back to September). Since I live alone, this meant losing my only regular means of social contact until then. As an introvert it wasn’t too bad; though the first week was rough because nobody knew what was going to happen and we were all adrift in a sea of uncertainty, due to a combination of timely Zoom meetings and twitch.tv streaming, I was able to connect with some friends and gain at least a measure of relief from the intense cabin fever. And with a combination of judiciously employed vacation time, unemployment insurance with the federal COVID stimulus, and simple financial saving, I was able to establish a plan that would let me ride out the spring and summer months until I was able to return to work in the fall.

However, with things still not under control, that scenario was looking less and less likely, and finally this past week I was contacted by my work to discuss the situation. Long story short: there aren’t enough meetings/conventions/parties/etc. happening at the hotel to sustain even one full-time A/V employee (let alone an entire department) so as of October 1st I will be moving from furloughed status to on-call status. This means they’ll call me if they need me (which, according to my boss, probably won’t be much: the most optimistic estimate he gave me was still a single-digit number of times before the end of the year). This also means that, after September, I will be losing my full-time employee status, which means, among other things, I will no longer qualify for my company’s health insurance (including therapy, which I was finally able to start contemplating financially) or retirement plans.

So, you know, there’s that.

Sure, I was hurt and angry. Sure, I had no idea how to proceed, since my plans had evaporated. I still don’t quite know what I’m going to eventually do to deal with all this. But that’s not what this blog post is about, ultimately.

I reached out to a few people privately to explain the situation before posting anything publicly about it (which I eventually did on Facebook a few days later). As someone whose needs often get misinterpreted, I attempted to also outline what type of attention I wasn’t seeking (money, advice, generic job suggestions) and what I did need (understanding and emotional support). I guess I worded it wrong, though? Because all I ended up getting was acknowledgements that they had received the message, a couple of generic job suggestions (and, to be fair, a specific one that applies to my skillset and was appreciated), and one who told me (paraphrased) that their reaction was “Whoa, Jeff, chill out!” but later apologized by way of telling me that they weren’t all that good at expressing verbal empathy, which, y’know, fair enough, I guess.

This particular situation was nothing new. I’ve found, in the past, that when I express a need for help and support, I often receive it in a way that doesn’t really help or support me in the way I need. When I try to be more specific, however, I end up getting none at all, and it usually amounts to awkward silence on the part of the people I reach out to. I don’t fully understand this, though maybe it’s because, since I rejected their first instincts to be “helpful”, I’m a hopeless case or a masochistic curmudgeon. Or they’ve got other things to worry about than figuring out what I need. Or, like what happened earlier, they’re simply not good at expressing empathy. (That, by the way, was not an insult. Someone who knows themselves well enough to make that statement is showing a remarkable sense of self-awareness, and if everyone were that forthright about what they could and could not do, emotionally and mentally, then we’d probably all be in better places with people who complement us instead of those that just compliment us. Or maybe I just thought of that wordplay halfway through that sentence and wanted to shoehorn it in. You decide!)

It’s probably far more likely, however, that I’m unable to express exactly what I want or need in a way that would make those who are willing to help understand what they can do. This is especially a problem when what I need isn’t the stereotypical solution, or the easiest, or the one that comes to mind immediately. And people get their hackles up really quickly when their intended charity isn’t immediately accepted with tears of gratitude, even when it’s only because they were offering a helping hand to someone who just needed a foot. (Don’t, uh…don’t pick that metaphor apart.)

For example, let’s say somebody lost their job because the economy was in a place where it was virtually obsolete. They’re hurting and they want support. So you have a few people who respond to this. The first expresses sympathy by sending them job offers, or money, or flyers for night classes so they can learn a different profession, or other types of tangible support. Sure, the job offers are for things they aren’t interested in or good at, the night classes are either expensive or also in fields they’re ill-suited for, and the money is temporary at best and possibly creates a power imbalance between the two, but hey, at least they tried. The second simply ignores the problem entirely. Sure, they privately sympathize with the person who is hurting, but they don’t know the exact right solution, so they don’t do much of anything except maybe sending an emoji of a smiley face hugging a heart. They might interact with the person, but they pretend nothing is wrong and that life is grand all around.

Do either of these help? Not really. Though they do assuage the conscience of the giver, happy in the knowledge that they either tried to help or at least did their best. That might be a bit cynical, as often people’s emotional wells are drained doing other things and you can only spread yourself so thin being a caretaker. (This is probably another reason people react poorly to rejected charity: someone offers something they believe is helpful for what they feel are selfless reasons, and when it doesn’t help or is rejected that’s mental and emotional effort down the drain that could’ve been used for somebody who would’ve appreciated it, thank you very much.)

So what does this person need? I don’t know, but if I were to guess, I’d say they need some self-esteem. They need somebody who will validate them, that just because they’re currently unemployed or otherwise underperforming in life, it doesn’t mean they spent their life pursuing something worthless, that their ability to bounce back from their current bad situation is something they’re ultimately capable of doing. And they need to truly believe this, to have it come from a person or source that has credence in their life. Somebody who isn’t just spouting platitudes because they hope it will somehow make the situation better (and make the giver feel like they’re a good person), but who knows the sufferer well enough to read them, to know what’s important to them and why they’re invested in it, and to use that knowledge to draw connections between who they are and who they are capable of becoming. And to do this with enough effort and persistence that it will eventually pay off. If the sufferer doesn’t believe in themselves, then no amount of sympathy, emojis, or job suggestions are going to do any good. But if they believe they can bounce back, and have that belief reinforced by their friends and loved ones in effective ways, then eventually they will.

In other words, they need the impossible.

This type of attention is needed most by the people who look like they deserve it the least. The ones who get mad when they have different ideas of help than you do. The ones who want support but can’t even articulate themselves what kind of support they need without sounding incredibly selfish. They’re just spiders on the balcony, trying to eke out a simple living where there are almost no bugs; certainly not worthy of the time and attention it would take to put on gloves, take terrifying stair-walks, and miss an entire Jurassic Park podcast just to help them into a better situation when it would be so much easier to squash or ignore them.

It also doesn’t have to be anything particularly spectacular or complicated. I went to dinner recently with a friend I hadn’t seen in years (don’t worry: we were outdoors and socially distanced and all that), and the topic of conversation turned briefly to Undertale (because of my necklace). I started talking about it at length but caught myself before going too far (if you want to know just how much I can talk about it, see the previous blog post and the 10-12 hours of Let’s Play videos it links to), even though she at least seemed interested. She remarked that she didn’t know much about Undertale but it was nice to hear me talk about it because my face “lit up” when I started talking about it, and seeing how much passion I had about it and how important it was to me made it interesting to her. That was a statement that was possibly a throwaway one for her, but it stuck with me. That kind of positive reinforcement was one I didn’t even know I was missing until suddenly I had it for a brief moment. And though that dinner was kind of a one-off thing due to circumstances, it was nice to exist there even for a second, and it’s a behavior I want to emulate.

This is a little thing, but it can solve big problems that would fester otherwise into uncontrolled disasters. At the risk of alienating some people, let’s offer one more different solution to the “guy who’s out of a job and down about it scenario.” Sick of hearing about what he needs to do to be better from others not in his situation, receiving no help from those who ignore the problem, and unable to find anyone willing or able to put in the time or effort needed to help him cope and adapt, a fourth voice comes along. A voice that promises that he doesn’t need to worry about adapting or finding a new job. A voice that doesn’t say “I believe in you” but instead says “If you believe in me, I will fix everything for you. I will make the world bend back to where you can go back to the job you love and everything will be perfect again. I know things aren’t great, but it’s not your fault, and you can’t do anything about it, so give me the power and control I need to…let’s say…make it great again?”

Even when this voice offers no evidence that their (OK, “his”, it’s obvious who I’m talking about here*) promises are even possible, let alone that he is able to keep them personally, the prospect is so tantalizing to someone who doesn’t see another way out of their situation that they pledge their loyalty to him and refuse to budge. Belief is such a powerful motivator that it often overrides everything else, whether that’s a belief that an orange man can fix all of their problems, or just a belief that nobody thinks they’re worth the effort to listen to and/or work with so they can get better; that they’re just a weird-looking spider who just wants to eat some bugs and who would apologize profusely for inconveniencing any afternoon naps if they could, but they need to eat still, y’all; sorry if that’s selfish, sorry I’m not cute and cuddly, just don’t squash me and I’ll go back under this crack and starve to death in peace oh crap now I’ve implied that you’re not as generous as I need you to be and you’re frustrated don’t hurt me or leave me.

I don’t know if this whole metaphor makes 100% sense, but the point is still valid. I cannot expect anyone to help me. I have been burned too often in the past hoping that someone will magically appear who has the time and capability to help me with what I actually need emotionally (as opposed to what they think I need, or what they would need in my situation, or what they can spare given that everyone’s life is hard right now), especially since I don’t even know what that is until I suddenly get it (like with that dinner). Maybe therapy would help, but if you wanted that to be an option for me, well, you shoulda voted for Bernie.

And, honestly, maybe the solution would be for me to look outside myself and be the person to others that I want in my life. I do try to do this, with friends or family members that I know well enough to feel like I can make a difference, even if I don’t hear it from them. But I don’t know you, hypothetical reader who needs my help, so you’ll have to tell me what you want or don’t want; otherwise, we’re just looping back to the initial problem with with the roles reversed. And if you don’t know what you need either…then, well, maybe we can just commiserate together. That does help sometimes.

Thanks for making it this far. This was possibly an emotionally exhausting post to read; I know it was to write. These can get pretty raw sometimes. I can’t hope it will change anything, but I hope it will at least help you understand a little better the mind of a socially anxious yet fiercely independent and overanalytical man who spent the last four or five months in near-solitary confinement before basically losing his job. I don’t want to alienate or insult anyone at not doing what I need (not everyone has a cup and paper, after all), so I apologize if I’ve come across as passive-aggressive; I don’t mean to. I don’t know how to be honest without coming across that way. And I know these posts often vacillate between “somebody saaaaaaaaaave meeeeee” like I was the theme song to Smallville, and “I don’t want to make you feel bad for not saaaaaaaaaaaaving me” like how most people feel about Smallville, but that’s the struggle I always have going on in my head.

I’ll be fine. I always am.

Speaking of Smallville, in closing, to lighten the mood slightly, here’s a picture I’ve randomly had on my hard drive for like thirteen years:

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*it’s Trump. I was talking about Trump. I say this because apparently there was some confusion among some readers.

Connecting (a response to responses)

So I got some…unexpected responses to my last post, which I felt I needed to address before too much time had passed (also I’m on a bit of a roll when it comes to blogging, so while I’m in the zone I want to keep it up before going silent for three years again or something).

The most common response I got was “So…have you considered therapy?” I understand the sentiment behind this (“I have no idea how to be helpful, but maybe a professional does”), but it’s not exactly good form to suggest this to someone in a public space. That’s akin to seeing someone who’s a little out of shape breathing hard and saying, “Whew! There sure are a lot of stairs up to this building!” and responding, “Well, have you considered changing your diet and exercising?” loudly in a crowded room. If you have suggestions for me to help me out, let me know; just be aware of where you are giving that advice. Private messaging is preferable when talking about such subjects. I post personal stuff on this blog, sure, but I try to do my best to keep it anonymous when talking about others, and it doesn’t give anyone else leave to discuss my personal matters publicly too.

As for the actual matter of therapy, to be frank, it’s not something I feel comfortable talking about publicly at this point. Just know that whether or not I’m seeking help should not reflect on what I’ve posted and what you take away from it.
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Pop Culture Ephemera

ugandan knuckles

This has relevance, I swear.

I’ve been thinking of doing a “decade-in-review” blog post for a while now, now that the 2010’s are ending and it seems like a good time to take stock in both my life and the world before beginning the roaring ’20’s that are on the horizon. I first considered doing a year-by-year breakdown, much like I had already done for the 2000’s, but had a more difficult time coming up specific year-related milestones. Turning 30 and getting a steady job meant that I had reached the point in my life where individual years didn’t matter as much as specific events, which is related to something I want to expound on a bit.

I recently came across an interesting video. What I found interesting was not necessarily the content (a dive into popular bad memes of the 2010’s), but how, for the guy who made the video, these memes represented the general tenor of the years in which they came out (2011 was the “Nyan Cat” year, 2012 was all about “Gangam Style” and figuring out what the fox says, 2016 is when Pepe the Frog was stolen by the alt-right, and so on). Thing is, I recognize and remember most of these memes, but I couldn’t, with a gun to my head, tell you what year they came out, or even make an educated guess. Internet culture stopped being delineated by calendar years for me around the same time that Homestarrunner.com stopped updating regularly, and it was a little bizarre seeing someone treat stuff from 2015 with deep nostalgia glasses, when for me, I have to really think hard to place what separated 2015 from 2014 or 2016 in my life (and actually, 2015 was probably the last year I had before I settled into the “living alone in an apartment and working” routine I’m still in today, and even then that’s mostly because before that I was in a “living in a small house with a roommate and working” routine).

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Afraid

So I started a “new” blog, with the intent to start writing more. That was nearly three months ago now, and I still haven’t actually posted anything new.

Fear.

I’m afraid of putting myself out there again.

I’m afraid of unnecessarily repeating myself in these posts.

I’m afraid that people will give me well-meaning advice that I will either have to find an excuse not to follow, or ignore and then feel guilty about yet another thing I’m not doing.

I’m afraid because I have nobody to talk to. I have plenty of people who will offer to talk, but I have nobody to talk to. Not anyone that I can trust with my whole self.

I’m afraid that when people do try to break through to me, I deflect and obfuscate because I wasn’t ready to open up, but when I finally am, they’ve given up or moved on.

I’m afraid that nobody trusts me with their whole self, because I don’t know the proper things to do or say if they did.

I’m afraid that people who do care will care for a minute, before their other priorities reassert themselves, and unless I keep putting all of myself on display, day after day, I become forgotten, less and less of a thought.

I’m afraid because some of the people I care most about care less about me than I had thought.

I’m afraid because recently I had to sever a long-term (non-romantic) toxic relationship, and, while it was necessary for both parties involved, it still hurts.

I’m afraid because I’ve never been diagnosed with any mental anything, but obviously something’s going on here, but I literally can’t afford to seek professional help, at least not without being unable to live on my own. Do I need it? Can’t I just live? Some days I can. All days I can.

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New blog!

Welcome to my new blog! I’ve decided to start a whole new personal blog (with the same URL as my old one so that anyone following me won’t have to change bookmarks/subscriptions). This will be hopefully similar to my old one (now housed at jefferykritarchive.wordpress.com), being a place where I can do some freeform writing, usually about some sort of philosophical or lifestyle observations I’ve made, or insights I have on topics that I feel are important. I still haven’t come up with a good name for it (“Jeff’s New Blog” is very much a placeholder, though I want something different from my previous blog names “Boom Chicka Wiggy Wagga” and “¿Le Gusta Leer?”), so if you have a suggestion lay it on me in a comment or something! I’m still working on the layout and design as well, so it may be changing quite a bit in the next little while until I find something I like.

The main question you may have, however, is why am I starting a new blog instead of just reviving my old one (which has been virtually silent for more than three years)? I go into it a little bit on my last significant post that’s hosted on the old site, but basically I feel like my life in the past few years has undergone a rather dramatic paradigm shift. A large part of that has been my departure from the LDS religion I was raised in and considered myself a member of until around 2015, along with the shifts in viewpoint that that has engendered. Part of it has been my dating/romantic life, which has also dramatically changed (I may or may not go into this in more detail in a future post, but suffice it to say that dating is different when you don’t have the rules defined for you by an organization), though, true to form, I still don’t do it that much. Part of it has been my living situation: my old blog went silent around the time that I started living in an apartment by myself, which affects a lot of how I operate. Part of it was due to the Player and Doodler Youtube channel I was running for a large chunk of that time: though it was more specifically about gaming than about general life stuff, it was still a lot of content that I was putting online there instead of on a blog. And part of it has simply been getting older: I’m now 36 years old, and a large chunk of my worldview has simply shifted due to that.

I tried several times on the old blog to make a post. I probably had about ten or so in the “draft” phase. But for some reason I was never able to really finish one in all that time. It felt like I was adding onto the story of somebody else, somebody who was quite different (at least in terms of the personal picture the blog painted). I’m now somebody who doesn’t look at Mormonism with either adoration or contempt, but just as part of my cultural and philosophical past. Somebody who is no longer pining away or obsessing over why I’m still single. Somebody who, quite frankly, feels a lot more secure and stable about where I am in life. And I would like to start writing about things from the perspective of who I am now without the baggage of who I’ve been featured on the same site.

For there is a lot on the old blog that shows where I came from, but not a whole lot that shows where I am or who I am now. This has actually come back to bite me: not too long ago I was dating a woman who read all of that blog and consequently thought she knew me really well. The problem was that she assumed I was mostly the same person now (or at least she could plot a course from who I was and figure out who I am), and that simply wasn’t the case. It…did not end well. So one reason I’ve started over here is to hopefully avoid that kind of situation in the future.

In any case, I’m hoping that making a clean break like this will inspire me to start writing more, with the knowledge that readers will understand that I may be coming from a different perspective than the guy who wrote most of that other blog. Hopefully it’ll work and I won’t get into any trouble.

There are a few posts, however, that I left here when I moved everything else to that archive. One of them I left mostly because for some reason most of my views come from that one post, for reasons I’ve never quite understood, but hey, traffic is traffic. One I left here because I have links to it elsewhere I can’t easily change (in some videos) and it’s a good post anyway. Another one I left here because it was it was really the beginning of that paradigm shift I mentioned (and also I think there are links to it in places I can’t change and I don’t want them to be broken). The most recent one, however, I have here as officially part of the new blog, to the point that I actually didn’t include it as part of the archive (despite the fact that I first posted it on the old blog). It’s only about two months old instead of three years or more, and better represents who I am now, so I wanted to include it here as really the first substantial post that wasn’t simply a holdover.

So there you have it. New blog, new ideas, new posts! Here’s to the future!