Trying times, and how to survive them.
Trying times, and how to survive them: Fart rainbows, feign an interest in Lieutenant Housemate's latest experiment, and pretend you're captain of a starship. Or maybe just watch some TV and do your best not to be a dick. Whatever gets you through, really.
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Captain’s Log, stardate… Monday.
As we enter the third week of our deep-space mission, the crew remains in fairly good spirits.
Yesterday I led an away-mission to Planet Sainsburys in the Hackney Sector, but had to abort when I saw the massive queue for docking. En route back to the ship, Lieutenant Housemate suggested I try the Asian Supermarket just around the asteroid belt, where I found all the supplies we needed, and no queues whatsoever.
While piloting my shuttle back to the ship, I encountered an entity from a previous mission of mine. As we conversed from a safe distance, it became apparent that this mission was taking its toll on him. He was clearly in urgent need of assistance, as he happily showed me his photo torpedo right there in the street. Space street. Seeing it again certainly armed my phasers, which must have been obvious, but I declined his request to escort him to his ship for some routine maintenance, as Starfleet regulations currently prohibit such intermingling. As I left, I promised him I would be more than happy to assist with several very thorough rounds of maintenance as soon as the regulations change.
As I resumed my journey, phasers still very armed, I received a hail from a wandering being with no homeworld of his own, whose orbit often intersects with my own. The transmission was pretty garbled, but I was able to make out that he required fuel in order to continue his journey. While purchasing him a tin of extra-strength fuel from a local trader, I came across several canisters of a volatile compound known as Malibu and Pineapple Juice. I procured several of these and brought them back to the ship for testing.
Upon returning to the ship, Lieutenant Housemate informed me the sourdough he’d been working on was a success.
Right, that’s quite enough of that. Why am I pretending I’m on a space ship? Because why not? I read a tweet the other day that talked about how life at the moment is a lot like star trek - occasionally you have away missions for supplies and shit like that, otherwise you just talk to people on screens, faff about with technology and drink a lot of tea. And the idea kinda stuck with me, and turning a podcast episode into that sort of thing made me laugh. And that’s something I don’t feel like I do enough of.
Obviously there’s a lot of stuff that we need to take seriously in life, especially when we’re governed by bastards entirely willing to exploit any and all human suffering for their own gain, but that doesn’t mean we have to be miserable the whole time. I’m sure you know someone who’s not happy unless they’re miserable. Like, there were a couple of gays I used to work with and when we’d all go out for drinks, they’d just have stuff to complain about. Which is fine, we all need a moan occasionally, but it doesn’t have to be your only setting. I remember once we went out for a work do. I’m not one for organised fun myself, especially when it’s a work thing, because I’ve spent all week with these fuckers and now I have to spend an evening with them, too. But still. All the booze paid for by work, and you don’t HAVE to talk to that bitch from accounts. Even so, they sat in the corner, faces like a slapped arse. I went over and asked if they were having fun and the best I could get was “Yeah, it’s alright.”
And the thing about that sort of thinking is the more of it you do, the more of it you do. Which sounds like a typo, but brains are good at patterns. The more we think a certain thing, the more likely we are to think it again in the future. So, if you think miserable thoughts, it’s easy to get stuck in thinking that way more often.
I think part of it comes from when you’re at school, or whatever, and it’s not cool to be excited about things. It’s cool to be unaffected and just be a bit ‘yeah, ok, whatever’ and people who get excited about things, who find joy in stuff are kinda ridiculed for it. Only nerds and dweebs actually find joy in stuff. Cool kids just go through life with nothing sparking any kind of emotion from their flinty heart.
Take Lieutenant Housemate, for example. He’s making sourdough, and getting really into it. Seems like a biot of a faff to me, but he’s enjoying it. And it would be easy to be that person who says “Oh, sourdough? Just like every other middle class white guy right now? I bet you’ll follow it up with craft beer or maybe start a podcast hur hur (yeah, ok, shush) and get that short-lived smug superior feeling as I tear him down for enjoying something and learning a new skill.
I could see him enjoy it, listen to him get interested in it and generally encourage him to nerd out and bake as much as he can. From that I get an improved relationship with my housemate, I get to be involved in something that he’s enjoying, and I get toast. A much better deal.
Even if you’re not into the thing that they’re into, that doesn’t mean you have to be all bitchy or mock them or whatever. How about, instead, you just let them enjoy something?
And, however you think, that’s the kind of people you attract into your life. If you’re a miserable fucker, then miserable fuckers will be drawn to you, and you can live in an unending spiral of misery and snarky comments and general mean-girl bitchiness if that’s how you want to go, OR you can try to be a bit positive and just a little bit nice and be surrounded by nicer, more positive people. Having been on both sides of that, I know where I prefer to be.
I’m not saying that suddenly you can DECIDE to be a happier person and suddenly life is rosy. Shit happens to all of us, that won’t change. But you can decide how you deal with it. It can be hard. Fuck me, it can be a struggle. And you don’t have to be farting rainbows all the time - we all have down days - but the point is to make the effort. And now is the best possible time for that. If not now, then when? Try new stuff. Read a book. Eat your bodyweight in ice cream. Whatever works for you. Find the things that give you joy, grab it like it’s the dick of the only hot guy in the sauna, and don’t let go.
I’m aware that this episode probably doesn’t seem like my best work. In the circumstances, it kind of is, though. I’m doing my best.
Originally for today I had the next part of my HIV series lined up for this week, commissioned by the lovely people at the BPA Pulse Fund and Wellcome. But I thought it would be good to do something a little more fun. Not as easy as I thought it was going to be, but here we are.
There’s a lot of people doing that whole “NOW IS THE PERFECT TIME FOR YOU TO WORK ON YOUR SIDE-HUSTLE! Sort of thing. And for some people, great. Go at it. I hope it works out. For some people that’s the joy. For others, getting out of bed might be enough today. Sometimes it is for me. Christ. You don’t HAVE to use this time to be productive. All you have to do is get through it. And that can be hard enough.
I’m lucky enough to have a job where I can work from home. A few people have said stuff like “Oh, at least that’ll take your mind off everything else” but of course it doesn’t. Powerpoint doesn’t give you amnesia. My mighty space brain is capable of thinking of two things at once. So I’m not really working from home during a crisis. I’m staying at home, while the same crisis happens outside, only now there’s a spreadsheet I have to pretend to care about as well.
So, yeah. Find the joy, find the things that lift you up. Anything that gets the happy chemicals going in your brain. For me, as well as supporting my friends and the people around me doing things that bring them joy, the thing that gets my happy juices going is laughing. You thought I was going to say wanking.
So when I”m feeling down I watch a lot of standup comedy, or stupid stuff on the internet.
Parks and Recreation is a good one. Let’s all be a little bit more Leslie Knope. She doesn’t exist, sadly, so we all have to be the Leslie we want to see in the world. It’s hard work to be uplifting and enthusiastic, but I promise you it’s worth it.
Wanking helps too, of course, but it takes a lot longer to get sore from laughing than it does from wanking like a chimp.
Incidentally, if you find your wank quota rising since your idle hands want to have a go on the devil’s plaything, or whatever that saying is, then I suggest swapping out the lube for Savlon every third go at it.
You don’t want to start chafing.