Tuesday, 31 December 2019

The most important decade in my life *so far*

You can't really disentangle the personal, the political, and the cosmic-spiritual. This is something I've learned from experience and integrated into all of my art: I do not treat them as fully separate subjects. We live under the real or total subsumption of capital; this makes our very unconscious, that most personal and intimate of things, a political topic. Few people can afford not to pay attention to politics anymore. I caught a Fox segment a week or two ago where the hosts were discussing a poll that lists many Democrats as having the political climate as one of their top worries, and using it to demonstrate that the Democrats are largely what we on the left would call professional-managerial class (PMC), detached from the experience of everyday folk and with the luxury of caring about politics. This is likely true to some extent, but it's also true that the hosts were using that fact to cover up the other possibility that a not-insubstantial portion of disenfranchised people are worried about their benefits or their jobs or their likelihood to be deported—all heavily political topics.

The defining moment of this decade has been the return of the repressed that has been occurring since it was halfway through. History, presumed dead since 1991, has again reared its head. As various pundits, writers, and hacks have spent the past few years fuming about, the post-Cold War consensus has effectively collapsed. One of the most popular Democratic candidates among the PMC, Pete Buttigieg, has as his great unspoken campaign promise a return to the relative peace and simplicity of 2009. A return to an America where international games of electoral meddling and the eruption of deep politics seemed laughable and nigh-impossible, where our military adventures seemed righteous and well-managed, where the orders of cruelty that our government carries out are signed off with a sigh and not gleeful abandon.

Bluntly, this is a fantasy. We have already invited an authoritarian nationalist into the presidency, one who has made as much use of the bloated, monstrous executive power he was handed by decades of buildup of the military-industrial complex under both parties as he could. We cannot simply pretend that if that power was handed over to a capable manager, that lurking disease would go away. As we have learned by the very election of Trump, the repressed always returns in a worse form than ever.

I began this decade with a dead dog, a Rottweiler named Herb; he'd provided me with joy and comfort for the past six years of my life, and in the summer, he was dead. No more playing basketball with him, nothing of that sort. I dragged him down the stairs on an old sheet, scaring my cat, Rose, along the way, out into the gorgeous yard covered in trees and grass and overgrowth, out into the nether-regions of the yard where the line between garden and forest started to become blurred, and laid him down on a patch of dirt. Later that day I found out that the downstairs neighbours, with whom we'd had an often unpleasant relationship, had decided to bury him out of sympathy for us. The sunlight filtered gorgeously through the trees that late afternoon. That was not the first nor the last time I'd think that.

In the autumn I was an 11-year-old attending Catholic school. I had been sexually exploited for child pornography only four years prior. I was awkward and privately hypersexual. It took me about a year before I realised that staring at people and telling them they were pretty or handsome wasn't exactly a good way to make a connection and was actually creepy. At the same time I was undergoing a religious crisis. I had no clue what to believe, as the Catholic doctrine that was presented to me there was liberal in comparison to what I had grown up believing and I was flitting between embracing a progressive sort of Anglo-Catholicism or reacting by going deeper into Protestant fundamentalism. I experienced my first hallucinations around this time as well: the Theotokos telling me not to pray to her, to stay away from Catholicism. My political beliefs too fluctuated between libertarianism, social democracy, and conservatism; at one point I was a monarchist, at another an ancap, at another a left-liberal.

Around when I turned 12, I decided to become a neo-Zoroastrian, embracing the form of the religion advocated by the Zarathushtrian Assembly. I read the entire Gathas; I can still recite the Ashem Vohu by heart. At the same time, I decided to get into chaos magic (or, as one might wish to spell it, qha'osz ma'jyyqkh). I remember at the school I went to around this time, a school for gifted students with autism, ADHD, and executive dysfunction, one of the teachers warned me not to fool around with magic, as it is a powerful force. I brushed it off. Soon after performing a few rituals, including opening at least one Vortex that I have not closed since and scrawling Ellis wherever I went, I began experiencing major synchronicities. These continued to some extent after I became a scientistic Reddit atheist and started watching people like The Amazing Atheist, although I wrote off chaos magic as largely psychodrama.

In the autumn of 2011 my great-grandfather died. I'd not known him well, as he'd developed problems communicating toward the end of his life. But I'd appreciated him greatly, and he became a more and more important figure to me in the months after his death. He had been an inventor, creating his own appliances and devices to use around the house and working as an engineer for a then-large company. He was also a commanding thinker; perhaps he was inclined to crankery, but he was genuine, always seeking out transdisciplinary problems and solutions, effortlessly combining theology, physics, philosophy, jurisprudence, electronics, linguistics, and whatever else intrigued him. On the night he died, I was making Discordian "pope cards" and handing them to anyone who would take them. I'd brought my laptop and, to keep myself busy, was playing The Cat and the Coup, a free art game about the overthrow of Mohammed Mossadegh (something I was to learn some of my other ancestors had had a hand in). I went home, but my grandmother stayed with him and called home to announce his death. I was sad, but not in the way that one is sad when someone dies before their prime; I was sad that I'd never gotten to know him, that my other family members had lost someone they'd loved dearly. I began to feel that I should follow in his footsteps.

A few times those years the heat and electricity in our house switched off and we had to stay at my great-grandmother's house for the night. One time my grandmother drove me home to check if the heat and electricity worked, and as I stepped out of the car, I noticed how the sunlight filtered gorgeously through the trees that late afternoon. I went inside and played Brain Salad Surgery on the computer as a first test, then went outside and told her the coast is clear. She nodded and went back to get my mother from my great-grandmother's house.

(there are oh so many memories i wish i could explore here but there is oh so little precious time and they are fading oh so rapidly)

Around this period I became seriously committed to Marxism for the first time, although I also badly misinterpreted it. I was an Orthodox Marxist (or so I saw myself) and genuinely liked people like the Platypus Affiliated Society. I still had not shaken off the Zionism I grew up with, though, although I was beginning to question how decent a state Israel truly was. I had started 2012 hoping Ron Paul would win (antiwar politics were my first serious politics) and ended up endorsing Jill Stein, which as we all know led to her victory, as the crucial "angie" endorsement is the most important thing a politician needs to win.

Much of that year, although I was still seriously depressed and had barely started processing my trauma, was relatively blissful. Some very important things happened that year.

First, I turned 13 and was able to set up Facebook (and decided to set up Tumblr). This allowed me to connect with one of my first real friends, a gay furry who, like me, was very into linguistics. Prior to that, all I had was 4chan and Twitter. I remember using a big blue bucket (which I still have!) turned upside down as a table for my laptop and chatting into the night about phonology, current events, memes, and sexuality.

Speaking of which: second, I realised my sexuality. I started wondering if I was bicurious and soon, after looking at a whole bunch of yaoi on Gelbooru and wishing alternately that I looked like and that I could kiss Len Kagamine, I decided I was bisexual. No joke: some of my first heroes in this regard were Gore Vidal, Glenn Greenwald, and Oscar Wilde.

Third, I saw a whole bunch of anime. I remember waking up early, going down to the local doughnut store, buying myself a doughnut, and going back home to eat it and rewatch The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya many days. Most of what I'd watched was stuff like Pani Poni and YuruYuri, largely slice-of-life stuff. After that I decided to watch Puella Magi Madoka Magica, first denying to myself that it'd become a horror-tragedy, then accepting it, then becoming devoted to it; in fact, I credit it with helping me to appreciate tragedy and the beauty in dark things.

Fourth, I watched Alfred's Playhouse.

On the same setup I used to browse Facebook for the first time, I was looking at TV Tropes pages about animation. I was vaguely interested in My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic, but was never really able to get that into it; I had seen the PONY.MOV series and the first episode and not much else. I was eating toast with sunflower seed butter, looking at episodes of Dan Vs. online and reading the "Nightmare Fuel" subcategories when I came across the mention of an online animation called Alfred's Playhouse, said to be one of the scariest things online.

So I went a-hunting for it, and found a YouTube link and a Newgrounds link. Wanting to be able to pause it in case it turned into a screamer, I chose the YouTube link. I sat through the first part, and plenty of stuff startled me, which would normally have put me off it, but I was intrigued. The annotation, now lost, on the video was my first introduction to the concept of trigger warnings. The animation itself seemed to be a mixture of "random" humour, shock, and genuine terror. I had no idea what to make of it, so I watched the next part.

Part 2 nauseated me: the "Littles" scene may be one of the most disgusting and disturbing things ever animated, while the self-harm scene is not only disgusting and disturbing but extraordinarily depressing. The juxtaposition of the graphic and sensitive nature of the content with the trappings of cuteness and lightness made the effect of horror reach a fever pitch. At this point I wanted to know more both about this character and about the person who made it. So after a break and some more sunflower seed butter toast, I watched the final part.

Part 3 was incredible. The shock, gross-out, and "random" elements of the series transitioned smoothly into psychological drama of stunning depth, likening a mind subjected to trauma to a totalitarian dictatorship.
That thing there? That is you. That cannot handle reality. Nobody will ever love that.
After watching it I had a mild flashback. I'd already had memories intrude on my mind when relatives had told me months prior that people only ever become bisexual or homosexual due to sexual abuse, and felt forced to choose between confessing to these memories or confessing my sexuality (eventually choosing the latter). But now I had a stronger awareness of them. Now they started becoming clearer. And I reacted the only way I knew how: by suppressing them.

But the repressed (or, in this case, the suppressed), as I've mentioned, always returns.

Later that year, after a few trips to New York by myself to events with the second private school I attended (one of which involved seeing a descendant of Harry Truman apologise to Hiroshima and Nagasaki survivors for the bombings, another of which involved me not being able to get back to Grand Central for hours due to an attempted bombing at the Federal Reserve and getting a copy of the Madoka Magica manga instead), and after a long night of watching a playthrough of Saya no Uta and getting seriously depressed, and after weeks of mounting stress, the teacher driving me to school that morning called and yelled at my parents, and I started crying and decided not to go that day. I was out of school for the rest of the term.

I began 2013 with a trip to a family friend's in Boston. There I watched the second half of Steins;Gate, of which I'd seen the first half a few months prior, along with Doctor Horrible's Sing-Along Blog (I was very into mad scientists). For the few months after that I sat in my underwear eating homemade nachos for a few months and reading through the entirety of Homestuck, a web serial that would come to define the next few years of my life. I had been putting it off for a while, and finally decided to go through with reading it. After a couple months I met my first true group of online friends through a local Homestuck fan group. I felt glad and happy to be included.

That year, my friend, the priest at the local church, whose youth group I'd attended quite a bit for the past few years, left to go to another church. One of the staples of my preadolescence was gone; I didn't help at any more charity events with them, I fell out of contact with a lot of people there, and soon that was the last I'd seen of that church, given that today the church barely exists.

Over the course of that spring and summer I was bombarded with synchronicities from my previous practice of chaos magic. Slowly my quasi-logical positivist shell began to crack. At some point I could no longer deny the reality of magic. I watched π and several David Lynch films. I watched Videodrome and became ever more depressed. I started to develop delusional thought patterns. Mild, but present.

At some point in May I came out as genderfluid, then gravitated heavily toward the "female" side of the spectrum. It felt good to embrace that aspect. I began calling myself Eva; my nickname on Skype for the longest time was "Eva Unit-01". My friends were supportive and happy for me; I felt accepted, but various other factors got in the way of me appreciating that.

I watched Neon Genesis Evangelion and wrestled with it obsessively for a long time, believing that Instrumentality was a noble goal. I strongly believed I needed to utterly annihilate my ego and expounded on the evils of self and the virtues of selflessness online. I started taking huge quantities of drugs, cutting myself, performing magical blood rituals, and destroying things I loved, all to try to destroy my self. I figured that if I completely annihilated the person known as "Eva", I'd stop being distinct from bare being and have access to a transcendental reason unclouded by personal biases and a universal love uninhibited by individual preference.

I embarked on various creative projects, none of which came to fruition. One of them, Rose the Cat, I had planned for years, ever since I was about 9 years old. It evolved over the years from a simple idea of a game about a cat to a wish-fulfilment comic I created when I was 11 (and promptly stopped when I started reading about Chris-chan and realised unpleasant parallels, although I guess I could be forgiven as I was 11 years old), and finally became a satirical story I wanted to expand to as many media (games, comics, light novels, animation, etc.) as possible about Rose (who was in this incarnation a chaotic neutral lesbian cat) and her "owner" Dave (a theoretical physicist and bioengineer, precisely the jobs I'd wanted to have when I was 6 years old). A huge portion of my initial manuscript was devoted to a horror sequence that now reads as effectively an unconscious vent of my sexual trauma. It is indeed quite disturbing to read, but not for the reasons I had intended.

In June Edward Snowden publicised the first NSA leaks. They confirmed what I had suspected all along: that the government had been spying on us and that we were sliding toward authoritarianism. I knew that the power of the executive had been expanded dramatically, but I knew that Obama was likely not going to abuse it tremendously. I was highly critical of him and his foreign policy, but I wasn't going to start thinking of him as an out-and-out dictator. I did know however that it would be only a matter of time before a true reactionary, someone with fascistic tendencies, would come out and abuse that power.

Simultaneously I discovered Tumblr callout blogs. I was vaguely aware of and sympathetic to feminism already, but when I discovered these I was simultaneously alienated and intrigued by them. I decided that this style of "social justice warrior"ism was not to my taste, but I became very aware of intersectional feminism, albeit in the distorted liberalised form Tumblr usually offered in those days. I was frustrated that it seemed to lack class analysis, being largely unaware of its origins, and decided to incorporate somewhat of a class analysis myself, although I had no idea how to integrate it well. I had already argued a lot on a site called SodaHead with insane right-wing boomers for lefty positions but now I was being exposed to a form of left-wing politics that seemed completely alien to the usual positions offered.

In autumn I started high school. Early on in history class I was assigned an essay about the Renaissance; I took a contrarian Marxist position that it was largely an elite movement that helped to prepare the conditions for capitalism and aced it. Here I also met another group of friends, many of whom were into Homestuck, most of whom were left-liberal feminists. Already my worst personality traits started to show. I was often annoying afk and didn't understand social communication at all. I had poor boundaries and didn't know how to express myself normally. This started to take a slight toll.

Afk I never got super close to anyone. Online I was still often hypersexual and this made people around me deeply uncomfortable. This was wrong of me, to put it very, very lightly, and it took me a while to really grok that. It often took me a long time to understand when a joke had gone too far as well, and this also led to me hurting the feelings of people I considered my friends without realising until it was too late.

I talked to a therapist and was diagnosed with major depressive disorder, with generalised anxiety disorder, with ADHD, with OCD, and finally with posttraumatic stress disorder with psychotic features. I strained to think why I had that. Perhaps it was the neighbours burning down their house for the insurance money when I was 3. Yeah, that was it.

My home life was an absolute mess. A lot of alcohol was involved. I would hear fighting and screaming and flee to my room or to the stairs.  There I'd tell my friends or post things to Tumblr about it. Most of the time they had no idea how to help.

This was not entirely uncommon during my childhood either, but here it had reached an unlivable intensity. Once I heard a relative get up yelling, and some slamming. Another relative, who was crying and yelling, suddenly went quiet. A few seconds later and they were coughing and gasping for air. After the former relative went to their room and slammed the door, I went and checked on the latter relative and asked them if they'd been choked. They silently nodded and burst into tears.

The next day I went to school and made one of the biggest mistakes in my life. I went to the person I'd believed to be the therapist and told her that there'd been violence in my home. Soon there was an agent from the Department of Children and Families talking to me. I talked to her for a bit and asked if there was any way we could do family therapy, because I loved them and didn't want them to be punished. She assured me it could happen.

Soon we were getting home visits from DCF, which upset me. The initial agent was replaced with Yodna, someone I slowly grew to hate. My relatives hated her as well. I was still attending therapy but was missing school a lot due to illness and worsening mental state. I enjoyed going to the mall, which was right next to where the therapy building was. I played Danganronpa after having seen the anime previously. I played Persona 4 and liked it quite a bit, but never got to finish it. In December adopted a dog, an English Mastiff, whom I named Tifa, after the character in Final Fantasy VII, a game I was strongly enjoying at the time. When I posted the first photos of her at home, a friend commented "SICK HORSE", which he followed up with an explanation that this was his way of saying "nice dog".

In November or so I went to the hospital for suicidal ideation. I spent a few nights there, in a clinical, controlled, completely unsexualised environment, and noticed my mental health improve drastically. I was somewhat bored by the lack of Internet access and whatnot, but I was strangely happy. It didn't take me long to realise that the total sexlessness of the place was comforting to me, but like with my PTSD diagnosis, I had no clue why. I figured it was just that sex made me depressed.

(There I played a game for fun. I'd watch CNN and then come up with a bogus "conspiracy theory" intended to link all the stories of the day together. I'd also pace around and come up with ideas for using geoengineering to offset and mitigate global warming. Overall the stay was relatively pleasant.)

In April 2014 I went to see Noah. I liked it a lot; the relative I attended with was divided. My relatives were getting aggressive with DCF, which was an extraordinarily stupid move, as it only agitated them more.

Then, on the fourth of May, a few DCF agents, led by Yodna, backed by armed cops, took me from my home.

I tried to resist at first. I said I wouldn't go. I had a plan to lock myself in the dog cage with Tifa and camping out there until they went away. (I didn't do that.) I protested and cried until my relatives said I should go and that they'd get me back in a few days. So I packed as much as I could in some bags and walked outside. As I walked to the car, the sunlight filtered gorgeously through the trees that late afternoon.

I spent the night at a foster home. It was relatively nice, although I felt very little sense of privacy. I communicated with my relatives via Facebook on my PlayStation Vita. The next day I went to school and immediately went to the library, where I spent most of the day, unable to concentrate on classes or anything. I talked to one of my friends, a libertarian, when the day was out and told him how I had been kidnapped by the state; my ride was late. I was thinking of making a run for it, escaping back home by my own choice, but stupidly I waited and got in.

Then I did the next-best thing I could. I told Yodna I was feeling suicidal and needed to go to a hospital. As soon as I got there I was assigned a bed. Yodna tried to console me, but some techs had to pull her back from me when she tried to touch me and I told her that I hated her, that she'd ruined my life, and that the law was the only thing preventing me from killing her.

I hoped the stay would be similar to my first stay. At first it was, with the additional bonus of Internet access through my Vita. I watched a classical music performance (I think) on PBS. But then I was taken to another hospital, to Yale-New Haven, where there was no Internet access, nor was there privacy. This would be my first of four stays in a mental hospital that year.

There were some nice people there at least. Most of them I've lost contact with and wish I hadn't. There was a very nice and funny girl who was younger than me and had been committed for doing MDMA for two weeks straight and trying to run away from home. There was a girl who, in appearance, personality, and demeanour, looked exactly how you'd expect a zombie hunter to look. (She admired Sarah Palin for her stress on the importance of the family. I strongly disagreed but I couldn't help but understand.) There was a very large boy, let's call him "Quentin", who loved the Joker and cycled between a calm, jokey attitude and outbursts of anger. At one point they were serving pie in the common room, but he was in his room on time-out. The nurses were trying to tell Quentin he couldn't eat the pie, but like a lion he pushed them out of the way, screamed "I WANT MY FUCKING PIE," punched the Plexiglas door window in, opened the door, took a piece of pie, pushed more nurses to the side, and went back to his room to eat it.

There I also met a couple of people I'd know for a while. One was my first partner. They were very pleasant, an extremely good artist, and we bonded over a common love of Danganronpa and other things. I felt comfortable enough around them to tell them I'm trans and tell them about my delusions and hallucinations (at times without realising they were merely hallucinations). Our relationship only lasted a couple months but it ended amicably and we've been in touch ever since.

In between stays at Yale-New Haven I was at a foster home in Bridgeport. There I had a nice room and was taking Gabapentin but I could not visit my family. I helped the foster family around the house but found it very difficult to adjust. I'd go to respite with a guy who volunteered to take respite kids and built computers in his spare time; he was extremely nice, I watched science fiction movies with him and I wish I'd gotten his name. The foster mother I was staying with though wasn't always so pleasant, and she had respite kids of her own, who were extraordinarily sweet, but she'd beat them. Over time I became more and more angry at her for beating them, and I'd had a plan in my mind to hurt her to get back at her before I decided to simply go to the hospital again.

At that home I had a mild flashback one night. I started to read about child sexual abuse and its aftereffects on my PlayStation Vita, and my flashback worsened. I remembered clearly someone bending me over, fondling me. After weeping slightly, I told my friends and family about what had happened. They expressed their sympathy for me.

After my second stay at Yale-New Haven, I went to a very nice group home in Greenwich: beautifully decorated, nice garden, everything.. There I volunteered for charity and was able to live relatively openly as a trans person. I found the atmosphere mostly relaxing and respectful and pleasant. There were however one or two people who'd touch my thighs in very uncomfortable ways, and this grated on me very badly, giving me more flashbacks. I regret it, but one night I was having a flashback and I jabbed my Epi-Pen into my thigh. I said to call 911. I went to the hospital, where my relatives accompanied me, and I explained how I was being sexually harassed (although in retrospect, that seems like an exaggeration). So my mother intervened to get me taken to Four Winds, which she had remembered from her stay as a very pleasant mental hospital.

I arrived and it was not pleasant at all. It was being used as effectively an overflow catcher for the juvenile "justice" system: if an incident of youth violence had been convincingly demonstrated to be due to mental issues, rather than trying to fix any underlying issues in the community, it would simply be pathologised and the perpetrator sent off to the hospital. The facility was also heavily gender-segregated, which was very unhelpful for my identity issues. Still I'd wear a skirt and act all gay despite a few of the kids there being quite homophobic. One time there was a bisexual guy who showed up and he was angry at everything; for some reason I especially pissed him off. He told me he wanted to slap me, so I decided to let him slap me. It wasn't too bad, although it definitely freaked out a lot of the other people.

Another kid there was this extremely large guy, we'll call him "Juan". He was a huge Bobby Shmurda fan and would go around reciting the lyrics to "Hot N***a" as well as improvising his own: "I got bars for days / I smoke hella blaze." One time a very flamboyant gay kid came in, let's call him "Jay", and I became his servant and he became my queen. I'd carry around his "robes" (blankets and sheets) for him and bring him snacks. One time as I was trying to bring him something Juan blocked my way and said, "You can't go in there!" I replied with, "Yeah?" He said, "He's gay!" "Yeah, and?" "He wants to take your butt!" "And??" At this Juan walked away and said "Whatever, I'm not getting involved in this."

(There was also a boy with a slight speech impediment and blonde hair who was kind of cute, and a girl with a slight speech impediment and blonde hair done in a very French hairstyle who was also kind of cute. They started dating, which was very cute.)

Beginning here my relatives began visiting me as often as they could and bringing me books. I eventually developed a gigantic bookshelf, largely science fiction and nonfiction as well as a few thrillers when the doctors decided to put me on three separate antipsychotics and I became agitated. I was diagnosed with schizophrenia and C-PTSD and when the APRN put me on the antipsychotics and denied me anxiolytics I became very resentful of her.

After a couple months I was allowed to start attending an outpatient programme for most of the day while still remaining in inpatient because DCF couldn't figure out where the hell to place me. Two episodes stuck with me here. There was a person who was very quiet and had a silly sense of humour (taking small oyster crackers and referring to them as "little breads") who told me they were otherkin and that the word "God" triggered them; I'd apologise every time I said "oh my God" and they'd say "thank you, it's okay". And there was a girl who broke down crying whenever someone started tapping on the chair because her uncle had sexually abused her and would tap on her door whenever he would come into her room.

I remember toward the end of my stay there I was out playing softball with some of the kids, bonding with a girl there, and the sunlight filtered gorgeously through the trees that late afternoon.

Around September they transferred me to the Children's Center in Hamden. I soon learned this was a terrible place. Many of the staff didn't care at all about the kids in their care. I remember one, let's call her "Jane", was just openly callous and would bully this mentally disabled kid, "Tom", for no reason until he cried. I began hanging out with him just to make sure that he was away from her and couldn't be bullied. On the opposite end of the spectrum was "Nathan", a guy with a huge bushy beard who liked System of a Down and cared about all the kids in his care a lot. I quickly started hanging around him as much as possible.

I hated it at the Children's Center, although my relatives would bring me books, apizza (there's a great place, Olde Worlde Brick Oven, that must be tried), and Foxon Park soda every opportunity they had to visit. I got very into Greg Egan, Isaac Asimov, and Kurt Vonnegut at this point, and regrettably also read the whole Harry Potter series (my relatives had chilled out somewhat by this point and decided that neither Harry Potter nor Pokémon were satanic). On Christmas Eve, they required us to attend a pageant, which I was extraordinarily bored by. I stepped out with my relatives for a break, but a staff member came to tell us that we had to stay in. I started panicking and stepped out of the car, at which point I lost my mind and started telling everyone I was a god, and that they were worthless insects, and threatened suicide and banged my head on the pavement. No one did anything until one of my relatives called 911 on her cell phone. I went back to Yale-New Haven for a day, where at first I caused trouble by telling everyone I was a diagnosed psychopath but then calmed down considerably and started getting along with the people there.

I went back to the Children's Center and my parents brought me my presents: a children's book by Russell Brand, a couple more books and little toys, and a copy of Danganronpa 2: Goodbye Despair, which I played every day and which helped me tremendously through the rest of my stay. I developed a new resolve to survive. I'd tried to kill myself a few times in the Children's Center, but finally I decided to affirm life. Even if I was in hell, even if it looked like years before I could get out, I still would not give up trying to live. When I went to the library and was allowed computer use I downloaded music onto my Vita. I'd talk to my friends and download Muse, Radiohead, and the ending themes of both Danganronpa games. And slowly I built a will to survive.

I started attending events with the kids and staff more. Once I went to the Barnes & Noble and picked up Disinfo's Book of Lies, a whole book of occult info. I came across some names there I wouldn't stop seeing: Julius Evola, Boyd Rice, Tracy Twyman.

I found out I could spend hours with Nathan and with "Ash", a former Marine-turned-antiwar libertarian who loved Edward Snowden and who preferred "Ash" to his given name because it sounded nicer. Ash told me how he hated the military and joined the Marines to try to mitigate any damage it caused. He told me how he hated the Children's Center and worked there to ensure that the nice kids weren't destroyed by it. He told me how he'd gone to college at Quinnipiac and studied under a Catholic professor who'd taught him just war theory. He recounted how the professor had listed criteria for a just war: that the cause and intention is just, that force be used fairly and as a last resort, that the party waging war must be a legitimate authority, and that the war must be reasonably winnable. He objected on the last point, citing the Jewish ghetto uprisings under the Nazis as examples of wars that were absolutely just, but which were absolutely unwinnable. The professor couldn't answer that. That has stuck with me for years. Defiance of the inevitable is the highest virtue.

During my computer time I'd check RationalWiki's "What Is Going On in..." sections for the news. There'd be multiple references to something called GamerGate, which I struggled to figure out what it was. This would turn out to be very important later.

During these last few months, I got a siddur, because the Kabbalah seemed to hold the key to the world. And I also got a tallit and a kippah. And I decided to try Jewish prayer, and I continued until I was firmly convinced of Judaism rather than Thelema. And one night, I turned to the back of the siddur and came across this poem by Judy Chicago:
And then all that has divided us will merge
And then compassion will be wedded to power
And then softness will come to a world that is harsh and unkind

And then both men and women will be gentle
And then both women and men will be strong
And then no person will be subject to another's will

And then all will be rich and free and varied
And then the greed of some will give way to the needs of many

And then all will share equally in the Earth's abundance

And then all will care for the sick and the weak and the old

And then all will nourish the young
And then all will cherish life's creatures

And then everywhere will be called Eden once again
I read that aloud and broke down into tears, and I felt the Shechinah comfort me, with Her hands upon my shoulders.

After a few more months, in the spring I got to visit my house briefly a couple times with Ash. It had been cleaned up nicely and my room looked gorgeous and cosy and quaint. I wished I could stay but I decided to go back and wait to be released. The sunlight filtered gorgeously through the trees that late afternoon.

Finally, on 23 April 2015, my 16th birthday, I was released and went home. I immediately took up smoking again, deciding that I wasn't going to let the state make me quit. Anything I wanted to do, I'd do of my own volition, on my own time. I didn't know it yet, but I would come to need the nicotine. I was in the midst of a psychotic episode caused by stress.

I did a few magical rituals and became convinced I had four goddesses living in my head who'd talk to me. They explained a Philip K. Dick-style Gnostic revelation to me, using language similar to the Law of One or the Ra Material. At the same time, I went online and found that the rules of the Internet had completely changed over the year that I'd been gone. People were more tense. Tumblr was fucking insane. I didn't know entirely what had happened, so I decided to do some digging on GamerGate because I still hadn't figured out what it was.

I started going to another school for troubled kids and made a few friends there. I loved it at first but soon soured on it when it became clear a lot of the problems I'd already had with various schools still existed there. Still, through that school I made new friends and reconnected with a friend I'd met years and years prior and hadn't thought I'd see again.

But that summer I alienated many of my friends by being an asshole to them. One of my friends didn't like a particular word, and I rambled to them about how this was no time to complain about petty shit like that because Israel is currently ethnically cleansing Palestine and there is an active fascist movement organising right now and it wasn't their place anyway because they're not transfem and I am, and they rightly pointed out that I was being really shitty to them, so I decided to run away and unfriend a whole bunch of people. It took me months before I fully apologised and I still feel guilty about not just being shitty to them but running away after that.

That autumn my family got evicted from our house of around 12 years. I packed as much as I could and left, but it wasn't enough. We lost most of our possessions. We went to the only place we had: my great-grandmother's house. As we drove away, the sunlight filtered gorgeously through the trees in the late afternoon. That night, I downloaded "Iris" by Salyu—the ending theme to Professor Layton and the Diabolical Box—and Harvey Danger's "Flagpole Sitta" to my Vita, and I listened to them over and over and cried. And cried.

We stayed with her for a month, and during that time I went on 8chan and discovered /leftypol/ and /fringe/. These two boards would influence my life for the next few years. Through /fringe/ I discovered Montalk, a site which seemed to confirm the "revelations" I'd been receiving, and plunged deeper into esotericism, exacerbating my psychosis. Through /leftypol/, I gained more exposure to left-wing ideas and started watching videos by Bat'ko and Xexizy. I also started participating in Leftbook and Weird Facebook more.

Two things I found out about around that time seemed to influence my next two years heavily. First I found out about the "Sonic for Real Justice" blog, which seemed to just confirm to me how insane Tumblr was at the time. And then I caught wind of the Zamii070 situation, which struck me as deranged and cruel. I started participating in support groups for her, "anti-SJW pro-SJ" communities, etc.. I was incensed enough at it that I started to detach myself from feminism in general, moved slightly to the right.

Soon a family friend took us in. We were provided bedrooms and food and all we needed. It was very gracious and I'm still thankful for it.

But in December I tried to kill myself. I looked up the LD50 for aspirin and swallowed twice that amount. Then I watched television with my family for a bit in the living room and went to bed. I fell asleep, sure that I'd never wake up again.

Instead, a few hours later, I opened my eyes. I wondered if I'd gone to Hell. My life flopped before my eyes like a flaccid penis, a whole film running in front of me in blips. I saw my whole life, from birth to death, and how it impacted other people's lives, and how other people's lives impacted mine. I saw how those other people's lives impacted and were impacted by other people's lives, until I'd seen every life in history, and the whole history of Tellus. And then it zoomed out, showing me, like the Total Perspective Vortex, my place on Tellus, and Tellus' place in the Solar System, and the Solar System's place in Orion's Arm, and Orion's Arm's place in the Milky Way, and the Milky Way's place in the Local Group, and the Local Group's place in the Virgo Supercluster, and the Virgo Supercluster's place in the Laniakea Supercluster, and the Laniakea Supercluster's place in the Universe. And I saw the whole Universe from the Big Bang to its heat death. And I saw the reflection of the Light of Tabor, the Ein Sof Ohr, and felt an indescribable, terrifying, comforting sense of Love, with a capital L. There was Something that loved me, and It reached out to prevent me from dying. Repeatedly. Because It has a purpose for me in the world. And that is beautiful and wonderful and majestic and fucking terrifying.

Soon after that I got a phrase stuck in my head: The idols have been cast down and rent. I wanted to make music, but I wasn't sure how I'd do it. I'd rescued my guitar from my house, but I didn't know how to play it. I'd wanted to make rock and metal, but I didn't have an electric guitar, so that was mostly out of the question. But I'd come across the Wikipedia page for neofolk, and I decided to look into it more closely. I recognised two of the band names on its list: Current 93 and Death in June. Death in June's aesthetics scared me at first, and I already recognised Current 93 from David Tibet's work with Psychic TV and Genesis P-Orridge, and I recognised the title Thunder Perfect Mind from the Gnostic poem it was named after, and I liked the sound of the song title "Rosy Star Tears from Heaven", so I dove right in and listened to it on YouTube. It freaked me out at first, and that meant I loved it.

Soon I was listening through their discography, and soon I dove into Death in June as well. It provided a soundtrack to my confusion, depression, and occult mania that year. I started to get into more New Age and conspiracy stuff and made a few friends in that community. I hated Stefan Molyneux so I started a podcast with one of them as sort of a counter to his podcast. In the vein of "Montalk", I took on the handle of "Gnostiquette", partly inspired by Mouravieff's series Gnosis.

At the same time I was drifting apart from my previous friend group and becoming closer friends with a couple of libertarians who I'd assumed at first to be merely lolicons but turned out to be open pedophiles. Through them I also met a guy, a demsoc, who at first tentatively shared their scepticism of feminism. They persuaded me to listen more to people like Sargon of Akkad and Jordan Peterson and other "anti-SJW" types. I was also getting more active on Twitter, with a very confused politics: I was an anti-SJW reptilian conspiracy environmentalist who loved Bernie Sanders and at first reviled Trump. But then I came across Emily Youcis' account and became mutuals with her. She became a big fan of Milo Yiannopoulos, and against my better judgement, so did I. She started supporting Trump, and with much hesitation, I started thinking, hey, perhaps he's not that bad, on certain issues he is fairly socially liberal. The libertarians I'd met were similarly inclined, although still very sceptical of his immigration policy (as I also was), and themselves moved further to the right.

I started ranting on Facebook about "Zionist Anglo-Israelist conspiracies", alienating my friends even further. I burned bridges. I was fully in the throes of psychosis and no one really knew it. I believed that reptilians had been gangstalking me. I believed I was in contact with entities from higher densities all the time. I believed I was under special surveillance by the deep state.

Slowly I became less enchanted of the New Age ideas I was possessed of and became a more "earthly" conspiracy theorist. I started hanging around the Corbett Report group because they seemed like the most trustworthy and least antisemitic or racist of the bunch. My podcast was one of the five or so channels on BitChute.

In July I moved into my current house, a seafront place with a gas stove. There I developed more ideas for my music and learned more guitar; I'd started practising by playing Death in June and Current 93 songs on it. I designed the first few covers for my album and tried to work on how it would be arranged.

After the election I became much more suspicious of the views I'd developed up to that point. I started moving slowly more left-wing again; I came across r/badphilosophy and noticed how the "sceptics" and "anti-SJWs" I'd been following were frauds. I still hadn't fully shaken them though. My psychotic episode was simmering down, and I started to become aware of how it was, in point of fact, a psychotic episode.

In December I came across the account of someone called Polyphemus, which led me to someone named Gabriel Amadej. I found both of them extremely funny and interesting and followed them. 2017 rolled around and I was becoming more and more intrigued by the left-wing people I had come across. People like Hbomberguy and ContraPoints and Chapo Trap House seemed to represent a new form of left-wing politics that was fun and strange and intoxicating (and a bit scary to someone like me who'd been convinced of "anti-SJW" bullshit for so long). I finally left behind my "anti-SJW" brain rot when Sargon of Akkad responded to Richard Spencer being punched with a bunch of whining and started screaming "fuck you Bernie" after Bernie Sanders had pledged to fight Trump on Inauguration Day.

At around the same time, I cut off one of the libertarians I'd been hanging out with for posting censored child sexual abuse material to Facebook, which had given me a flashback. I was starting to become very irritated by the other one, as he was responding more and more with bullshit when I pressed him on his beliefs. After a proxy debate where my demsoc friend and I spent hours trying to get him to give a straight answer on the Rothbard quotation defending deliberate child starvation, with him just repeatedly saying, "That wouldn't happen in a free market," I finally blocked him and moved on.

Just prior to that I'd had a bizarre dream which felt like an etheric abduction by tall grey aliens. In my words:
They were trying to tell me that they loved me as they felt me all over and it was really unnerving, frightening, and disgusting. I could feel them sizing up my etheric body and trying to sap energy from the right points; I've been practising energy cultivation techniques for a while now, trying to balance the pressures of getting into a new (and better!) school with meditative practice.

After a couple of minutes of being under etheric attack, I noticed a light right outside the craft. The light pried the door open and sort of reached to me. I was able to reach back, and it pulled me away.

Here's one of the most interesting parts: I entered into a lucid dream immediately afterward. My immediate thought when I woke up was "astral recuperation programme". I was being shown examples of attack and vectors of attack. I was shown a Weird Facebook acquaintance who hasn't posted anything in a couple of days get in the middle of some nasty shit and she ended up slicing her neck. (She's still reacting to things posted to her timeline; thank God.) I noticed the same craft in the sky. I was shown through rooms filled with emotionally-charged objects for my friends and myself as well as strangers. I was shown these rooms rotting, accumulating filth, falling apart at different points in time...Weird Time Shit, as Andrew Hussie would put it. There were some weird things like a parade of grade-schoolers wearing Homestuck costumes toward the end. I don't know how to interpret that.

The "programme", I guess, was incomplete when I woke up. I'm wondering what the next step is.

It really feels like Ahrimanic and Luciferic forces are trying to make their influence felt.

In any case, I'm still a bit freaked out, but I'm recovering from the shock pretty well. I guess I have to thank my Holy Guardian Angel (or someone like that).
I'd transferred to another school, back to the school for autistic/ADHD/executive dysfunction students I'd attended when I was 12. It had changed a lot since I first went there, and I wasn't really able to make much progress, recover lost credits, or make new friends there, although most of my teachers were lovely and I enjoyed Japanese class quite a bit.

My dog Tifa died in the spring. We took her to the vet after she was unable to get up from the floor and had become incontinent; she'd had a tumour that wasn't detected for the longest time, and we finally opted to have her put down to spare her more pain.

Summer came and I was finished with high school, although I didn't really "graduate". I'd made a bunch of friends on Twitter and was in the process of discovering new politics. Over the past year I'd moved away from New Age beliefs for the most part and was trying to synthesise a form of Welsh paganism, but in mid-2017, after finding more and more discrepancies between the system presented in Mouravieff's Gnosis and any form of paganism, I decided to contact the Orthodox-Catholic Church of America and become a Christian again.

I ended the year surrounded by several new friends, with a new group chat I could talk in at any time. One of my friends told me that she appreciates vulnerability in music, so one day I tried writing a song about my sexual abuse. I made several false starts before writing down the line "I dreamt about a young December" and, trancelike, proceeding to write down the entire song. I was stunned. I recorded it right away, twice. I took the latter recording and recorded myself listening to it. I cried. I kept that recording almost as-is.

The next year came around and with it came some tumult. There were huge wars on Left Twitter about paganism and reading theory, and I decided to defend my friends. Through that I met some new friends as well as a couple of enemies. Then, shortly after my 19th birthday, I released my first album, recorded entirely when I was 18, The Idols Have Been Cast Down and Rent. Around that point I also got into my first serious relationship after inviting a friend to my house, one that ended relatively amicably, but in which I was pretty shitty and underappreciative to my partner.

Much of that year was a blur. Halfway through it, I met another group of friends, many of whom were already part of my prior group of friends. Somewhat later, I became friends with Keffie and her sphere, and soon all three friend groups started moving more and more close. Since that point I've stayed reasonably close with most of those people.

I was also finally chrismated and received into the Orthodox-Catholic Church of America, and although I haven't had much of a chance to attend the Liturgy due to distance and family illness, I've been planning to as soon as I get the chance.

I entered into another relationship that year as well, and it seemed utterly perfect at first. We seemed to be perfect matches, we seemed to share most of our views, we seemed to share history, we seemed to share esoteric knowledge of books and films and games and online curiosities.

But I ended the year getting more and more depressed. When this year rolled in, I had to reevaluate a lot of my existing friendships and relationships, and I had to work on how I approached my life heavily. The New Year caused a lot of trouble, with people attacking my friends and various interpersonal problems. My relationship soon turned toxic; I began to be more and more irritated by my partner's treatment of me, they tried to manipulate me and use me as an object more and more, and finally in May I had to tell them that we had to reevaluate it. They began accusing me of seeing everything through a skewed perspective, seeing manipulation where there was none, seeing their reasonable angry outbursts at me as unjustified berating, seeing their reasonable debates as toxic belligerence, and so on. It was only after one of my other very close friends tried to defend me and my now ex-partner attacked her that I decided to block them and move on.

I started a relationship with a friend named Alex. She challenged me a lot, and while we're not quite in a relationship now, because of her I gained self-respect. I reconnected with an old friend with whom my friendship had soured previously. I began putting out more music. I began writing more songs and practising music more, learning new techniques, learning more stuff in general. I decided to commit to learning at least one new language. I decided to study linguistics, my primary interest aside from music, more seriously, and I'm currently preparing to go to university with linguistics as my major.

And I had another major flashback earlier this year, one that caused me to affirm one of my worst suspicions: that I was recorded, sexually exploited for profit. This knowledge, however, has helped me recover even better, for now I am relatively secure in my understanding of how the abuse I received has shaped me, and I know now how I can combat and move past my worst tendencies.

In May we got kittens, black Maine Coons, named St. George and the Dragon. In recent months they've grown to be huge, and soon they'll be in larger. In October one of my friends invited me to his place, and after reviewing the cost of transportation, I accepted. I visited him twice; once in November, once this month. I tried new things visiting him. I saw movies with him, I played music for him. (I also hugged him. A lot.) We're closer than ever now and I couldn't be happier.

This month I also found out that I still have markers for Lyme disease and began undergoing treatment. I've taken a too-long break from it, but I'm planning to resume as soon as I feel ready.

What could be a better story? There's a clear structure to my decade: I started out unhappy but mostly okay, I went through some of the worst possible times in my life, and I am closing the decade happier and a better person. I have big plans for this strange new decade. I have no clue what it will bring, and I'm still not done thinking about this decade. (I was planning to expand more on culture and politics, but ah well, I'm running out of time to finish this.)

I started out in a deep fog, unknowing of what was to come, and soon fell into a pit of slime and mud. But I climbed out, and I've been climbing further. I do not know when I shall reach the highest peak, but it's got to be around here somewhere—

It's the beginning, right!?
Like how beauty illuminates the dark,
you and I are on the middle of an adventure.

In the somber sky, the blood-red moon flickers like a bird that lost its way home.
You’re like a cat yowling crazily yet secretly for its friends in a remote alley.

What are you looking at with a hollow gaze through the window, while hugging your knees?
The mirage of a love that slipped past you wasn’t a wave of emotions or an afterimage.

How long are you going to stay there? The love that you let go of will never return.

Take in the boundless azure sky and show me your unblemished heart.
Catch all of those nonstop moments for how fleeting they are.
Oh angel, take a breath and aim for the heavens once more;
strip off your tattered wings and go do as you like.

I lost that feeling of being in love
and tried to ask somebody.
You said with a sigh,
"How much will love cost?"

[...]

Days are scattered
like the broken sun.

My first memories have disappeared.
Where did they want to go?

You were called a bullshitter,
your wings of freedom are still closed and shut.
Ever free, if you awaken
and pierce through this night, could you fly towards freedom?

ever free, where are we free? ever free