In Memory of Being Unkown

Most of my coworkers have been with our employer for over a decade (one has even been here longer than I’ve been alive), many of them starting on other teams and in other roles before making their way to the Research and Development team for which we all currently work. They’re widely known and respected in the company, to the degree that we’ve struggled to get work done over the past year as our smoothly-operating department has been (temporarily) picked apart to assist other teams who were struggling (mostly for external reasons–2022 was a wild year to work in technology and electronics). A frequent complaint at our watercooler (which looks more like a cozy sitting/dining room tucked away in a corner of our lab than a bland water dispenser) is the number of emails they’re included on and how frequently they’re asked to split their attention to help others within the company.

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The Line Between Naivety and Forgiveness

Trust, once lost, is not easily regained. The process of losing trust can be anything from drawn out and complex to instaneous and simple, but regaining it is always a time-consuming and difficult affair. We’re seeing a lot of that play out in the world these days, on a lot of different scales. Perhaps the biggest and most difficult to define example is people losing faith in government instituions. A much smaller but still impactful example is the recent loss of trust in Wizards of the Coast. It will take decades to restore trust in government instutions, especially given how every day seems to bring more evidence that the institutions we thought were safeguarding our government are actually just there to serve and protect the most powerful and wealthy among us (not that we needed more evidence to believe that). Likewise, it will take Wizards of the Coast a long time and some pretty extreme conscessions for people to trust that they’re not simply kicking the can down the road with this latest backpedaling they’ve been doing.

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My Shrinking World

Some days, it feels like the world is shrinking. So many pillars of my life are disappearing or crumbling before my eyes. The recent Open Gaming License (OGL) debacle by Wizards of the Coast has shaken one of the foundational pillars of my modern life, revealing the growing cracks that were hidden from my eyes (largely due to privilege and my frequently tangential involvement in the Tabletop Roleplaying Game section of the internet). The way that Twitter is slowly dwindling as it is likely on a path towards being mismanaged into irrelevance (as evidenced by the recent changes to the app’s feed system). Old apps and websites I used to go to for entertainment have already boiled the frog and it took major highlights of the difference between my recent experiences and the reasons I used to spend my time on them to make me realize I needed to move on. Sure, I’ve managed to find a lot of new things to fill the gaps in my life (at least mostly, anyway), but it still feels like my world has shrunk.

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A Rainy Grey Day in January

It rained today. It is the middle of January and, instead of the freezing cold, snow, sleet, and “wintery mix” I’ve grown accustomed to in the Midwest, it merely rained. It was a cold rain, to be sure, as the temperature is hovering right above freezing and driven below it by every gust of wind, but it was not a freezing rain. It plinked off my umbrella with a liquidity I don’t typically expect a month into winter. Usually it bounces off my umbrella with a plonk and snap, as the fabric repels the solid crystals or sludgy drops, but today it plinked and then slowly rolled away. I know the cold and bitter winter I expect is still hovering on the horizon, waiting for its chance to invade once these warm southern winds finally leave it be, but it feels like it lost any real chance it had to take hold this year, despite the havoc it wreaked around the holidays.

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My Most Expensive Vacation Fantasy

Around this time last year, I was fantasizing about taking a trip somewhere. About entirely escaping from my day-to-day life and just going off to do any number of things. Maybe sit in a hottub in a remote cabin in some snowy woodlands somewhere. Maybe spend a night or two in a luxurious hotel room with a large bathtub so that I could finally immerse my entire frame in the water. Maybe just going someplace quiet and secluded so that I could finally just exist in silent peace for a while. Any of those, and more, would have been such wonderful experiences, but I just couldn’t get the money and the time together. Eventually, I did go on a summer trip with two of my siblings and two of our friends which ticked some of those boxes. It was nice to get away for a while and I hope to do something similar again soon. Probably not this year, what with the busy calendar I’ve got through the end of May, but someday.

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I Miss Being a Part of Large Groups

I participated in an internal event at work the other day that involved talking to people as part of a demo for about eight hours straight. I had a bit of a break in there, for lunch and my usual daily walk, but I still talked more than I have in years. I’m fairly used to talking a lot for a few hours at a time, thanks to running tabletop gaming sessions (which sometimes wind up being very heavy on me talking if the players aren’t really in a chatty mood that day or we’re busy moving things along in a new environment), but yesterday was a strain on my voice in a way that nothing else has been since even before the pandemic. Even a couple days later, after taking care to stay hydrated and treat my throat with some soothing beverages, I still have a bit of an ache that comes and goes depending on how well I’m hydrated in the moment and how much I’ve been using my voice.

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Business Casual and Me

I haven’t had a reason to dress up in over three years. The last time I dressed up for an event, it was when I was Best Man in a wedding, back in 2019, before coming out to anyone, back when I was still living under the gender identity I was assigned at birth, in a time that seems almost unreal at this point. Not because I’ve come out in a big way (I’m masculine-presenting for one thing, so not much has changed so far as it feels from day-to-day especially given that I’m also not out at work yet), but because it happened before the pandemic. I almost went to a Roaring Twenties themed New Year’s Even party back in 2019/2020, which would have meant wearing a suit, but I wound up skipping that to stay at home and hang out with my roommates. We played D&D as I pushed them to see how far they could get through one of the starter kit adventures in a single evening. It was a lot of fun, but I kind of regret missing what felt, for a long time, like my last chance to get fancy before becoming the isolated, comfort-focused individual I am today.

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A Fresh Can of Whipped Stress and Chopped Anxiety on This Burnout Sundae

I’m really starting to think that I am, in fact, cursed. Every time I take a vacation from work, something happens immediately after that vacation ends that seems to completely destroy all of the rest I got while away from my job. This time, it didn’t even wait that long and then doubled-down. I had an anxiety attack that lasted a few days, wrecking my sleep for most of my second week away from work, and then, when I had finally recovered from that (so much as I can in less than a week) and went back to the office, I wound up with a whole pile of emotionally draining and difficult events scheduled within a thirty-two hour period. All of which felt incredibly trite and inconsequential after I learned of some awful news impacting a dear friend. The first two weeks of 2023 were one hell of a start to the year.

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The Weather Feels Like March in the Middle of January

The weather has been unseasonably warm recently. Usually, at this time in January, the local temperature is bouncing around zero degrees Fahrenheit and the heavy cloudcover means I don’t see the sun for weeks at a time. This year, the only zero the temperature is jumping around is zero degrees Celcius. We’ve had multiple days with almost no wind, a decent amount of sun, and tons of humidity (enough that work is staying at a damp 20% humidity or higher instead of it’s usual mid-winter single-digit levels). All of which followed a week of blistering cold that finished off all the plants still clinging to life thanks to the unusually warm fall we had. Now, as I go for my walks amongst the browns and yellows of dead plant matter, it feels like I missed two months somehow and wound up skipping ahead to late March.

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Housing Woes

While I still have options open to me and there’s probably plenty of terrible, shitty apartments I could still live in, I’m being pretty effectively priced out of the city I’ve lived in or near for the past nine years. I moved here in the final days of 2013 and I won’t be able to afford it without some kind of miraculous intervention or massive income shift by the end of June. My apartment’s rent is going up by a few hundred dollars (apartments in the complex are listed for 350 more than I’m currently paying and I’ve got six more months on my lease, so who know how high they’ll be by then) and this place isn’t worth what I’m paying for it now. It’s constantly leaking cold into the apartment through the exposed foundations and poorly insulated floors/walls, I’ve been trying to get a leak from the roof properly addressed since August of 2021, and I can hear every movement any of my upstairs neighbors make.

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