Dying

I’m sitting on the floor in a room of a nursing home. a distant family member with age of 98 is dying. She’s a sleep now.

Being here is weird. Just an our ago I was contemplating if I should go or not. I mean, I didn’t see her all that often growing up so we didn’t have a strong connection, but I did like visiting her the few times a year we went to her.

Now that feels incredibly selfish. What does it cost me to sit here for an afternoon, nothing. And I’m sure I’d she wakes up she’d feel appreciated and loved when I/we are there. It’s selfish to value a boring work afternoon higher than someone’s last moments on earth. Even if I don’t get that much joy out of it.

I don’t like that too rational side of myself. I mean the argument I made an hour ago was logical and valid. She might be asleep the entire time. She might be on to much medication to realize I’m in te room. But so what? I should value te the small possibility of bringing her joy infinitely more. I should, but I don’t. Not until I’m actually here an am confronted with this situation.

Also, nursing homes and seeing old fragile people scare me significantly. Nursing homes in The Netherlands aren’t bad, not compared to most countries. But it feels like a too streamlined process for people to die. Everything cost an obscene amount of money, this at a time when money is the last thing you want to think or worry about. Even the sparse room she’s in; there are hard floors for easy cleaning. A few painting are hung from the ceiling with fishing wire, of course you can’t properly hang the paintings – the rooms are built for a quick turn round time.

And I get it, elderly care is really expensive for a nation. But still it feels impersonal and harsh

After typing this she has been woken up by the staff here. She didn’t recognize me but after being told who i was she stumbled my name a couple times. She’s asleep again. I’m glad I went to see her. I hope I don’t forget this experience and take this with me going forward.

Moving out

The moment that I want and should move out of my parents home is approaching quickly. And I feel conflicted about the entire situation. I’m excited to start my own independent life, but there is so much I don’t and can’t know about living alone.

I’m not sure where I want to live, city or small town? Should I rent or buy? How will living alone affect me, Will I keep my healthy routines without external pressure?

Making big decisions has always been incredibly hard, and this decision is the biggest one yet. Two years ago I had to choose what study to follow and at what college, after many many lists and conversations I still had no idea what to choose. I pulled the trigger last minute with my eyes closed and hoped for the best.

That’s not a good decision making process, but it hasn’t changed. I do have an option for a pretty decent apartment, but I’m not sure I’m ready. I don’t know what is the right decision. And I’m sick of thinking about it, it’s not like thinking about it more is resulting in an useful answer.

I like the way I look

Since I started with photography I discovered that creating something truly gives me satisfaction. I love the way I can design and show something my way. Being creative, not doing something thousands have done exactly the same before me is wat gives me satisfaction.

In my job those moments are hard to find, so I’ve turned to photography and recently cinematography. The past year I wanted to create a first short film. I’m on a short trip this week and we’re recording some scenes for my first short movie.

A few hours ago I browsed to the footage to select what’s worth keeping. And when I looked at myself in those clips I liked the person I saw.

Normally I don’t like pictures of myself. Recently i started taking multiple selfies a week during walks. For documenting myself during the years and also to be more comfortable with myself.

It really surprised me to be this positive about myself in the clips I just reviewed. And I’m really happy about that. The theme of this year is me being me, accepting myself. I’ve come a long way, and I’m allowed to be proud of that.

I went on a date

For years, I told myself that I wasn’t interested in a relationship. I’ve had a relationship as a 16 year old that meant everything for me at the time that crashed and burned in a spectacular way. Since that time I didn’t want to put myself out there again, so I told myself that being alone was something I preferred, something I should prefer. Spoiler alert, I actually do enjoy spending time with some people.

This last year I’m starting to appreciate myself a lot more than before. And i’m finding other ways to motive myself than being disappointed in myself. I’ve applied for a lot of jobs in the last few months and had quite a lot of job interviews with employers. This has taught me how to present myself a lot better and more importantly that not getting the job isn’t necessarily failing. I don’t need to feel bad for not getting every job I have applied for (I did before), to the contrary I have learned a lot from these job interviews.

Anyway I thought why couldn’t I apply this experience and new attitude towards dating? My self-image has improved a lot recently, I feel more in control of my life and am reasonably content with my current situation. So I did just that, I made a profile on one of the many dating apps and started looking at profiles. After a while I saw the profile of a cute girl, and more interestingly to me she wrote that she had geeky interests. So I swiped right on her profile. It was a match.

So now, the first message, what should I say? I wrote many first lines in my notes app but none seemed right. 20 minutes passed and I still didn’t know what to say, but to my surprise she decided to message me first. I don’t have much experience with dating but If I believe the internet that’s rare? We had a lovely and not at all forced first conversation about semi serious topics. After a while she gave me her phone number to talk more easily and I decided to ask if she’d like to meet up for coffee. She said yes.

After deciding on a location and a new outfit the day arrived. The start went really well, the conversation flowed naturally, and we laughed multiple times. I really enjoyed our conversations and after 1.5 ours passed she asked if I’d like to order lunch. This is where I fucked up. This wasn’t planned and I absolutely didn’t see that coming. So I said no, after that I mumbled something like I can’t, I’ll explain later and excused myself to go to the bathroom.

I felt so bad, I presume her asking for lunch is a good sign. She wanted to spend more time and I said no in an awkward way. So when I returned to the table she suggested to leave, we did. While walking to our cars I explained that I don’t like to share a meal with people I’m not familiar with. I’m particular with what I eat and don’t like people watching me while eating. She seemed to understand this but the mood had shifted and for the first time silences were introduced to our conversation. She tried to bring up new topics, but my brain was racing to decide on how to fix this situation. My answers probably weren’t that engaging.

When arrive at our cars another silence fell, now we had to talk about what to do next. I said goodbye, yeah literally only that word and entered my car to leave (we had parked side by side). She said goodbye as I waved I drove by her towards the exit, she waved more enthusiastically and smiled back.
I’t has been a long time since I felt so bad and stupid. I just met this amazing girl, she’s interesting, she does cool stuff, we share quite a few interests and she is pretty. She wanted to spend more time with me (unplanned lunch) and I fucked up massively.

I stopped at a gas station to text her, trying to fix the situation. I said I really enjoyed our conversations and said she surprised me with the lunch question. That I felt bad about the ending and that it wasn’t how I hoped and/or had planned to end this. I mentioned I would like to see her again sometime.

During my drive home she replied and said she would like to meet me again sometime. Again I felt a new and weird set of emotions, positive ones this time. After parking the car I replied that I would love that and let her know when I would be available. This was yesterday afternoon, I haven’t heard from her since. I really hope this wasn’t done out of courtesy and we can meet up again. Obviously I don’t know her well after a few conversations, but she seems awesome and special. Fingers crossed.

What my religious upbringing has denied me

It’s 12 months ago that I stopped attending church services every Sunday. And its 6 months since I officially terminated my church membership. It has been an interesting year; even though in the summer of 2019 I could not believe in the God of the bible I hadn’t realised how much of my life and decision making was influenced by religion.
Day after day I see more clearly how religion has impacted my life and still impacts the life of my family whom all still believe.

Leaving religion behind wasn’t easy. I had to think about my moral framework, what can I base my morals on? Is anything good, is any action worth while? And more ‘normal’ questions like what are my goals in life, and why? Religion gives you an easy way out, a sheltered life without having to face tough questions. But I have learned that the easy way out has a dark side. Something I had blamed my parents for, but I should and do blame my church.

Unsurprisingly i’m fascinated by almost all facts and love asking questions. Knowing how something works, and why it does so in a particular way has always fascinated me. But asking questions wasn’t encouraged by my local church and community, asking questions is dangerous. You should just believe, stay away from anything non religious; that’s the devil louring you away from god. We had no TV and weren’t allowed to watch movies, so the only information you receive is meticulously curated by the religious school or church. Yes it was that intense, my religious upbringing wasn’t all fun and love Jesus, to the contrary.

I’m a reasonably intelligent person, but growing up I did quite poorly in school until the age of 17/18. Looking back I can easily tell you why; almost everything I’m interested in know wasn’t thought at school, church or home. My inquisitive nature has been suppressed quit well. When I think back about my time in elementary school one memory stands out clearly: nature films. About once every 1-2 months we would watch a film about nature or a particular animal. The setting of the movie was a museum like building with white walls, floors and ceilings. In the walls where windows which displayed a scene from nature, the camera would zoom through the halls of this building and dive through a window into that particular story.
I always loved those afternoons, I felt an indescribable feeling of wonder while and after watching those movies. The movie was narrated by a Dutch person mentioning how long ago a particular scene unfolded itself, and the teacher always corrected te narrator. Because the scientific explanation didn’t suit with the creationist view. Although I felt this immense sense of wonder, and note this was not admiration for god, the thought that evolution by natural selection could be true never crossed my mind once. Never.

If my religious upbringing could do this to me, a person that is sceptical by nature, how would people that had been exposed to this nonsense for decades be effected? Well, that’s wat resent the church for most.

I have rediscovered my interested in almost anything nature/science related and love reading and discovering everything I can find. But not everyone has my analytical nature and disregard for conventions and social pressure. I don’t want to think about what I could have done if had been raised by secular parents because that makes me just sad.

My parents aren’t that lucky, they still believe in the religious teachings. And on first thought that’s fine, im not on a crusade to rid the world of all religions. But I want to everything to think for themselves, no matter who you are. And that is something my parents never have learned and seem incapable of now.

I mentioned that I never thought twice about evolution, I just knew it couldn’t be true as a child. My parents are like this, and they are approaching 50. They can’t seriously consider anything that contradict their religious teachings. They can’t even explain why they hold some religious believes, but at the same time are utterly convinced that is true and are shocked to tears that I don’t feel the same. They have never been thought to ask for the evidence, they have never been taught to ask why.

And that is what I resent the church for. They have made it hard to talk with my parents about serious topic (even non religious ones) because they can’t reason. And that’s not their fault, it’s the fault of the system that made them that way. They never new better, they don’t know the joy of knowing – that has been stolen from them.

Clergyman are different, it is their job and responsibility to look out for their community. They fail spectacularly at that. Looking back at times I did ask questions of the clergy during bible study I have to conclude that their answers where anything but honest. Answers that where logically flawed, answers designed to stop you asking more questions. But I didn’t realise that back then.

I feel sorry for my parents and hope they can free themselves of this system. I blame the clergy for designing and acting in this deliberately evil system.

You don’t have to grow up by someone else’s rules

Recently a friend told me he wasn’t planning to buy the next generation game consoles which are scheduled to release later this year. This because he doesn’t see himself playing videogames as an adult, he needs to grow up.

I’m planning to buy the next generation game consoles but felt somewhat guilty and immature for not wanting to let go a silly and non productive hobby. It’s not like gaming is the only non traditional adult thing I still do. But is leaving that stuff behind really the responsible and grownup thing to do?

A few years ago I started listening to the incomparable podcast, recently I’ve been listening to older episodes I had never heard. So this week I listened to the 200th episodes titled Butter Zone while walking through the woods. In this episode the panelists discussed their geeky enthousiasme and why they chose not to leave them behind.

While listening to this episode I realized that I didn’t want to leave my geeky interests behind, but i thought that I should. The incomparable told my that I shouldn’t if I didn’t want to. It’s okay not to do so.

Although the episode is almost 6 years old at this moment, that was exactly what I needed to hear. You can be assured that I’ll buy that console later this year, I’ll watch the science fiction shows and keep listening to your excellent commentary. Thank you incomparable panel of episode 200. Thank you!

Smoking

I have been working from home for two weeks now. I’m slowly getting used to this new situation, adjusting has been more difficult then preciously had expected. Besides a short daily walk i don’t leave the house. So last Thursday i have run out of cigarettes. Normally i buy them at a gas station during my work commute or on a train station, now i don’t have easy access to stores where I’m not recognized. 

Yeah, i don’t like going to local supermarkets because i will run in to a lot of people that recognize me. Partially because i feel uncomfortable in the store in general and also because I’m somewhat ashamed that I’m buying cigarettes. And driving to a store a few towns over solely for cigarettes seems just ridiculous. Being able to control my instinct behavior is something I’m somewhat proud of, but that doesn’t seem to apply to quitting smoking. The problem has been that there is almost always a store that sells cigarettes nearby when i have a moment of weakness. 

So yeah, i haven’t smoked for the past three days because I’m to cowardly to go to a local supermarket. Maybe this pandemic could help me quit smoking for good this time. Lets see what’s stronger, my desire to smoke or my dislike for local supermarkets. 

Life sucks.

January has proven to be an awful start to what should be a good year. Last december i finally thought i figured out what I wanted to do in life and i had a somewhat detailed plan and timeline for said plan. 

But no, almost everything seems to go wrong and I’m absolutely lost. 

First, i got in a big fight with my parents about religion. They raised my as a Christian. After years of not understanding scripture and talking with people i could finally honestly say that i no longer believe in God. At first my parents seemed fine with that, until they realized what te consequences of that decision where. They expect me to participate in prayer and their Sunday schedule. I can’t do that anymore, it feels like betraying myself. Especially when it has been so hard to make this choice, now i have to go back? No. 

So i have to move out a lot earlier than i had planned. Financially that’s far from ideal, but if this would be all that would be OK.

Oh, but that’s not all. Due to law changes my current employer can’t renew my contract in a few months. So in a few months I don’t have a job anymore. 

The last week i have searched the internet for interesting job listings but in the area where i live there are almost none. The ones that are interesting require a lot more experience than i could possibly have. 

I have been on 1 job interview and it was nerve wrecking. How can I decide if i want to work at a company after 2 conversations of an hour? What are the colleagues like? What’s expected of me? Does the culture suit me? I just don’t know how to evaluate that. I did not have to because i did not get the job. Not enough experience. 

So what should have been a happy year in which I could improve myself and try to be actually happy has turned into disaster. Not only do i have to unexpectedly move i also will lose my job in a few months. 

I’m not sure what I’m trying to say with this, but life sucks. Just when i almost had figured it out this happens. 

2020 – Me being me

Last year i still had to discover in practice in what way aspergers influenced my day to day life, and how i could deal with that. I have learned a lot; what approaches do work and which don’t. 

My theme of 2020 will be me being me. After observing my behavior it is time to apply this knowledge in a useful way.  I learned that the fear of not fitting in  causes me a lot of stress.  So if i could let go of those feelings more I would get a lot of potentially productive time back. 

I have already learned to care less  -which is awesome-, but this year i will take that to the next level. My focus is to improve myself as a person, doing what makes me actually happy. So this year i have a few goals:

•  Improve my photography

•  Start reading again

•  Start exercising

•  Take a solo trip

•  Quit smoking

Christmas arguments

I’d like to approach dilemma’s in a rational way, that should’t suprise anyone. Seriously considering every option and weighing the pros and cons seams like te best way to make serious decisions. And yes, i’m guilty of applying this method to relatively small problems whereby allmost all decisions require a lot of research and preperation. I well aware that the decision making process doesn’t work this way for everyone. But sometimes i feel like the world would be simpler and nicer if more people approached decisions in a rational way. 

The Christmas holidays are typically spent with family, thats also the case for me. Fortunately my family always keeps these events low key and there aren’t a lot of them. Still, this is a tressfull week which i dont perticularly like. So yesterday i had an argument with my parents about religion, they are both devoted Christians. I don’t beleave in God, purely because i don’t see the evidence for beleaving in God. 

My parents feel that it is within their right to ask me to participate in Christian traditions and conventions. I disagree wholehartedly, i’m adult and i have made my choice after extensive research. Provide me with the evidence that your God exists and i’ll join in prayer. Until that happens I can’t and I won’t. 

Praying to the Christian God and going to Church feels like betraying myself. Accepting or condoning values that are not mine, values that are in conflict with my values. I can’t support a religion that discriminates against some people because of their race or gender. A religion that is based on a book riddled with contradictions and lies.

The fact that we can’t talk about this topic calmly doesn’t help. My parents can’t understand how i could not beleave. I’m baffled how they can beleave without having any reason or evidence proving that the God they devote their lives to exists. 

It’s fine if someone wants to beleave in a God without concrete evidence. If that makes you happy, i’m happy. 

Don’t expect me to follow, don’t ask me to follow.

What I’m trying to say is be honest with yourself, always. You can’t keep pretending to be someone you’re not, not if you’re trying to be happy. It’s not worth it, no matter who is asking.