I have not written here for awhile.
Tomorrow is the first day of a new year. This change from 2021 to 2022 is of course largely an arbitrary division, but I am somewhat glad for it. This year was extremely difficult for various reasons, although some good things happened as well. I would say that the three main highlights of this year would be graduating with my bachelors, being with my partner, and seeing my baby nephew. The most challenging aspects were dealing with COVID, moving very often, and watching my brother deal with substance issues. His addiction and poor mental health have negatively affected my family a lot. He has been doing better lately, and for that I am very grateful.
Even though my brother has been doing better lately, my concern for the overall situation hasn't changed. Today I was separated from my phone, or more accurately chose to ignore my phone, for a lengthy period of time. Although I enjoy being separated from my phone sometimes because the separation enables me to feel more focused, more present, and less distracted, being separated from my phone also causes me to feel anxious that I missed or will miss something important. Sometimes my brother's addiction and health is so bad that I go to sleep at night wondering if he will still be alive the next day or wondering if or when I'm going to get the dreaded phone call. Today, when I was separated from my phone, I became irrationally fearful that I might've missed such a phone call. Maybe the fear that he will die is not completely irrational, but I think this fear creeps into my mind at strange times. I don't know why I felt it today. I think I feel it on average three to four times per week, and it occurs somewhat randomly. I don't think it will go away until my brother's health improves significantly.
I feel that I have not been very productive over the last two weeks in terms of job hunting or other significant goals, since I have been in Ohio and New Jersey. I especially feel this way since being in New Jersey. I suppose some of my difficulties focusing can be attributed to the holidays and festivities. Perhaps some of it can also be attributed to navigating an unfamiliar environment. I'm looking forward to being in one place for more than just one or two months. I feel that for the past four years I have been traveling constantly, and that the longest I was in any single place was at most two months. Two months. Completely changing environments every two months, or every week. Traveling can be disruptive to setting up important routines / habits that help to reach bigger goals. Alternatively, traveling can stimulate new ideas and learning experiences. I really have no idea where I will be in six months. How much will I have traveled between now and then? Will I be with my partner in New York? New Jersey? Pennsylvania? Another area completely? Of course it is difficult to predict what opportunities will arise or where life might take me and my partner, but if I had to make some predictions about our locations in the future, then I would estimate that my partner and I will be in the United States for the next two to three years, then somewhere in Europe for one or two years maybe, then maybe explore one or two other environments, and after gaining more experiences and data points perhaps we will decide to relocate somewhere more permanently after hopping around a little bit. I am interested in getting a master's degree, but my partner seems to think that we are both capable of making a good living and establishing solid careers without having to return to school. I agree with him that it is possible, but I'm not sure that it is more or less easy than earning more credentials.
In any case, I look forward to both of us having jobs and having our own place, wherever or whenever that might be.
Aside from landing a job, my other important goals are:
Exercising more frequently
Eating less sugar and more fruits, nuts, and vegetables
Improving my friendships and connections
Learning to program
Researching different masters programs
Creating a passive income through digital art
As for exercising more frequently, there are many different ways to go about this. Taking more walks, going on bike rides, going to the gym, going on hikes, lifting weights, rock climbing, canoeing, etc. These are all activities that I would probably enjoy, but it is more fun to do them with other people. Luckily my partner is interested in these things as well and would likely do them with me. I guess it is a question of forming exercise habits together. I could also take classes with other people.
As for eating less sugar / eating more fruits, nuts, and vegetables, I want to try eating fruits, nuts, and vegetables that I've never tried before. I also want to try cooking with vegetables that I have never cooked with. I want to try foraging for local plants.
As for improving connections, I think I need to take stocks of what friendships I have, which friendships I want to improve, which friendships are most valuable and which are least valuable, which friendships serve which purposes, etc. There are some people that I want to reconnect with. I also want to meet new people.
For learning to program, I need to take a class or multiple classes. I will try to enroll in one class for the spring semester. I think it's probably fine if it's a free online class or something, I don't think I need to have official academic credit, although that could be beneficial if I decide to apply to masters programs.
As for endeavors surrounding digital art, I am extremely excited about this. I recently bought an iPad and Apple Pencil. I really enjoy drawing and painting, but these activities are hard to do because they are very messy and the materials take up a lot of space. When I am traveling so much, it is difficult to keep drawing/painting materials around. I think that the iPad and Apple Pencil will allow me to conveniently make digital art, mess free, and are a great solution. I think there will be a learning curve with the software (I have Adobe software on my computer but will probably use Procreate on the iPad because that seems to be the most popular with digital artists). I want to do more research into different types of digital art. I have seen some digital artists making realistic images and others subscribing to an anime sort of style. I wonder who would actually buy my art / who would commission me to make art. I wonder what platforms I should use. I am considering using the following platforms to spread / advertise / sell art:
I want to avoid NFTs because they are not environmentally friendly.
I tried the electric toothbrush for the first time a couple of days ago. I think it is a game changer. It requires less effort to brush with an electric toothbrush, and it also seems to do a better job in certain ways. The sensation is pretty funny and I’m still getting used to it and learning a good technique. I can’t tell how it is affecting my gums yet, I may do a combination of traditional and electrical brushing if the electric is a bit too rough. I really should have made the switch earlier, and I don’t know why I didn’t. I think it was mostly laziness that inhibited me which is silly and not good, because I probably could have had improved dental hygiene with this much sooner and my teeth would last longer. Better late than never I guess.
My partner has been extremely sad recently because we have to be separated for a few months while he finishes his classes. I have been sad as well, but I have so much hope and excitement for the future with him. Being with him is so good and I feel secure in our relationship, so being apart for a little while in exchange for an indefinite period of happiness with him doesn’t seem so bad. I do feel lonely and miss him, but I’m mostly just so excited to be together again. The brief loneliness can’t damage my extreme excitement and happiness. I’ve been in previous serious relationships before, but this one feels different to me in that there is way more potential for happiness, well-being, understanding, etc., than I’ve ever experienced. I feel extremely lucky and fortunate to know this person. It baffles me that we crossed paths in the universe, and that we have equivalent interest in each other.
I simultaneously feel like there is nothing I can do to make my partner feel better and to cure his loneliness besides going to visit him, which I have solid plans to do, but I also feel that our interactions recently are weighted more heavily in each other’s minds and that by interacting with him more often digitally, it will help him feel better. We are both missing each other a lot and are a little lonely, so our interactions perhaps seem more valuable lately. It is hard to parse out what aspects of these thoughts are rational, logical, emotional, or chemical.
I think part of my partners unhappiness is normal for someone in their last semester. I think most people during their last semester of college are desperate to be finished and want to get the hell out. I think he probably feels particularly lonely because a lot of people he knew already graduated, so the concentration of connections he has on campus is lower than usual.
I know that I have sway over his feelings and our relationship has sway over his feelings, so I feel somewhat guilty or responsible for making him sad. I think our relationship is primarily healthy and positive, but even then, it is his first serious relationship in many ways, so I think it has been an emotional roller coaster for him. I really don’t want him to be sad or lonely, because when he is sad and lonely, I am more sad and lonely. I understand his emotions in theory, but I think it might be helpful for him to share them and his internal monologue with me more deeply / frequently so that I understand more exactly what he is going through. What thought loops has he been getting into that cause him to get so low?
Although I don’t love the “work” that I’m doing right now for my aunt, I’m so glad that I have time to explore my options and that I didn’t try to go straight into a graduate program. Over the past few months I’ve been looking for in-person jobs in New York related to my discipline, and I’ve had little luck, so I’ve decided to change my strategy completely. I feel that once I do go to grad school, I’ll have more focus, drive, understanding, experience, wisdom, etc., regardless of what happens over the next year or so. I want to reread the climate section of the Precipice as well as Appendix 7, because I think I might be uniquely positioned to make significant research contributions in some of the areas that Ord mentions. I think I’ve decided that I would like to find a research assistantship or an internship for a nonprofit / think tank beginning in January of 2022. Furthermore, I’m thinking that I would like to apply to some graduate programs in the fall of 2022, so that I might begin a program sometime in 2023. I’m still considering different subfields / programs of interest, but I’m currently wondering about atmospheric chemistry, chemical engineering, hydrology, or potentially something even more related to geology. For the remainder of this calendar year, I want to focus on art and applying to opportunities for the spring of 2022. During the spring, I want to focus on art and studying for the GRE in addition to whatever internship(s) I’ll be doing at the time. I think I would like to find remote internships / opportunities for the spring, so that I can remain in the New York / New Jersey area, and have the flexibility to visit Arizona or Ohio. I have been living with my sister, and although I love my sister very much and living with her has been pretty good, she annoys me in certain ways and seems to prefer living alone even under the best of circumstances. My partner desires to move-in with my sister and me after he graduates, but based on the evidence that I have acquired over the past few months, I’m already anticipating that going back and forth between New York and New Jersey might be the best option if he and I want to be together for the day to day and access various benefits of the respective locations, while also minimizing conflicts between us and different family members. I somewhat feel that the New York apartment belongs more to my sister than to me, because she spends more time in it and has more stringent rules for the space. I would really like to move in with my partner and have a place with just the two of us. The next couple of years will be a very interesting and exciting time, and I’m really looking forward to sharing that with him. I don’t know how long he will think / feel this way, but he has previously expressed interest in doing remote work which would allow him the flexibility to move anywhere with me. Neither of us has been decisive about where we want to go after the New York lease has ended, although we have tossed around various ideas including Canada, the Western US, or Amsterdam. On the one hand, it is nice and exciting that our options are open. On the other hand, it is difficult dealing with the uncertainty of it all. All I know for certain is that I would like to be together with my partner. As I’m making decisions about different career opportunities and looking into graduate programs, I would really like to have his input, because the decisions that I make will certainly affect him and our relationship. I want to apply to grad programs that interest me, that allow me to contribute valuable research, and that are located in areas which appeal to me and also to my partner. I know that he also wants to get a PhD eventually, although he doesn’t seem to have a specific timeline for pursuing one or a specific program in mind. Although I think it is still too soon to fully discuss life together past the first half of 2022, I already find myself nervous and exciting, looking forward to the time when we do discuss it. On some level, I am scared of losing my partner as we try to navigate our careers, but I also think our relationship is strong such that we will persevere. I love my partner very much, although I have learned from previous relationships that love alone is not enough to hold things together. I value myself, my career capital, my partner, and his career capital. There might be competing interests in the future, but I am hopeful that the solution to the optimization problem indeed involves being together.
Today was somewhat long and hard. I was cleaning and watching kids all day. One of the aforementioned kids had a tantrum, right before I left. I was quite tired from working all week, but doing simple things like taking a shower and eating food made me feel much better. I had a four hour train to return to my home. During the train ride, I read content on 80,000 Hours. I am interested in the implications this organization might have on my future career path / goals. It made me excited but also overwhelmed. I felt somewhat depressed and cynical because I have been looking for interesting jobs and opportunities and have been having a hard time finding anything. I’m realizing that perhaps I’ve been looking in the wrong places. I really missed my partner when I returned home. Going through the subway reminded me of him. It was really nice zooming with him later in the evening, but it is difficult and frustrating being apart. My sister and I stayed up really late talking about death and grieving, and now I am going to sleep at an unreasonable hour. I shouldn’t let myself sleep in for the sake of maintaining a normal schedule, but I am so exhausted that I think I will let myself sleep into the afternoon anyway.
Do I want to die? No. Do I want to be here? Yes, usually. Do I enjoy existing? Yes, usually. Do I want to age? No, I don’t want to age, be wrinkly, lose teeth, etc. Do I want to age? Yes, I want to gain experiences, attain financial freedom, become wiser, etc. Do I want to live forever? I don’t know. What would you do with forever? What would I do with forever? Read books? Write books? Learn things? Make things? Collect things? Would it be possible to run out of interests? To gain all knowledge? To experience all things? Explore every corner of the Earth and subsequent planets? How many human lifetimes would it take before existence became boring? If humans could live infinitely, then would they continue to strive for more, for better? Or would they be content to know of their infinite survival, and become complacent in such endeavors?
I miss you. Why do I miss you? I want you. Or do I? What do I really want? There’s the obvious. I want to touch you and I want you to touch me. I want to see you and I want to hear you. Your face and your voice please me. I am just a silly little animal, after all.
But more than any of that, I want the strength of our synergy. I feel complete as an individual, in and of myself, but I feel weaker in my ability to achieve certain goals (on the flip side, I feel stronger in my ability to achieve other, more personal ones). I feel like a single ant from a particular powerful ant species. I am more and more convinced that humans are like ants in that our strength is in numbers.
Two ants, two brains and two bodies are better than just one. I now have less access to your brain, and no access to your body. The spatial distance encourages mental distance which discourages synergy, the thing that I crave most.
I ironically miss you most in the moments right after I cease talking with you, as well as when I am trying to fall asleep. What is it about these moments? Rationally I am not concerned in the slightest about being apart, but emotionally I am sad with a small but perceptible physiological response.
What does it mean if I primarily want our synergy? Do I want our synergy more than I actually want you? Do my desires or lack there of prevent me from treating you how I should treat a person that I hold so dear?
The Buddhist method of letting go of desire in order to end suffering (missing) seems very applicable here
I want to learn more about AI. I’ve known for a long time that humans are being outpaced by our own technology, but I’m only recently realizing the extent of it. I want to learn more about machine learning, neural networks, deep learning and the alignment problem. I wish that I had been fully introduced to computer science and AI at a younger age, so that I could better understand problems in these fields. With my particular skill set and interests, it would probably be better for me to explore problems surrounding climate change, energy efficiency, and geo engineering, rather than invest as much time and energy into investigating AI
I am working on a figural painting and am trying to decide on a interesting object to put in the foreground of the painting. I was thinking of putting an iPhone or a laptop or other electronic device, because that will challenge people to think about their relationships to the digital world. I sometimes wonder whether or not painting is a valuable thing in the digital era, when digital images might be more valuable than physical objects themselves. I’ve heard people say that even if you focus on digital art, traditional artistic skill is still important. Is this true?
I love cats. I miss my cat that passed away. I would really like to adopt my own cat once I’m more financially stable. For now, I subsist off of other people’s cats. I’ve always wanted a black cat, although cats of every color are beautiful. T. S. Eliot has nice cat poems. I would prefer to be reincarnated as a cat.
Humans eat sugar (glucose) and breathe oxygen, and they exhale carbon dioxide and they exhale water. In a combustion reaction, i.e. when you burn shit made of carbon, carbon compounds are destroyed and oxygen is consumed. The combustion then produces carbon dioxide and water. Ergo, each individual human is like a single, continual combustion reaction. In other words, every human is a little fire. I am a little fire 🔥🔥🔥
Found this beautiful Steinbeck letter after going down a rabbit hole:
New York November 10, 1958 Dear Thom: We had your letter this morning. I will answer it from my point of view and of course Elaine will from hers. First — if you are in love — that’s a good thing — that’s about the best thing that can happen to anyone. Don’t let anyone make it small or light to you. Second — There are several kinds of love. One is a selfish, mean, grasping, egotistical thing which uses love for self-importance. This is the ugly and crippling kind. The other is an outpouring of everything good in you — of kindness and consideration and respect — not only the social respect of manners but the greater respect which is recognition of another person as unique and valuable. The first kind can make you sick and small and weak but the second can release in you strength, and courage and goodness and even wisdom you didn’t know you had. You say this is not puppy love. If you feel so deeply — of course it isn’t puppy love. But I don’t think you were asking me what you feel. You know better than anyone. What you wanted me to help you with is what to do about it — and that I can tell you. Glory in it for one thing and be very glad and grateful for it. The object of love is the best and most beautiful. Try to live up to it. If you love someone — there is no possible harm in saying so — only you must remember that some people are very shy and sometimes the saying must take that shyness into consideration. Girls have a way of knowing or feeling what you feel, but they usually like to hear it also. It sometimes happens that what you feel is not returned for one reason or another — but that does not make your feeling less valuable and good. Lastly, I know your feeling because I have it and I’m glad you have it. We will be glad to meet Susan. She will be very welcome. But Elaine will make all such arrangements because that is her province and she will be very glad to. She knows about love too and maybe she can give you more help than I can. And don’t worry about losing. If it is right, it happens — The main thing is not to hurry. Nothing good gets away. Love, Fa
Can you have emotionless sex? Is it possible? I kind of don’t think it is. I think meaningless sex is possible, but even meaningless sex instills emotions, positive and / or negative.
I wrote earlier about my thoughts around the fashion industry. Later I thought about how repurposing old things instead of buying new ones is better not just for clothes, but also for other things - furniture, tools, etc. Then I thought about how, although I haven’t bought newly made clothes in a long time, I have bought other new things recently that I probably shouldn’t have, that have high hidden (or not hidden) costs. Why did I buy these things? Mostly because they were cheap and convenience. It is easy to be attracted to things for their ease of use. Maybe the cheapness of things is especially because I am a young person just starting out. I expect that as I get older, it will be easier to avoid the pulls of cheap things, although convenient / time saving things might become more attractive.
My sister and I had a bunch of clothes that we wanted to get rid of so yesterday we went to Buffalo Exchange. They only took one of our items--a brand new pair of tennis shoes that my sister never wore--and gave the rest of it back to us. Then we "donated" the rest of the clothes to some organization that gives clothes to people in need. Later, we went to a giant vintage clothes store, selling solely used / donated clothes. The store was HUGE, and had everything. It was as good or better than going to a mall. Going to this vintage store was fun, but also sad. It made me think of the excess and consumerism of people, especially women, and the fashion industry. So much waste and pollution making needless clothes, clothes on clothes on clothes. Cheap, flimsy, polyester, plastic clothes. Fast fashion. And for what? So that you can be stylish for a week? So that you can waste your money on something that you'll use for five seconds and then "donate" or throw away? Clothes do have social capital and can be very artistic, there is no denying that. At the same time, the cost of all of these new clothes is too high. New clothes cost money, time, attention, environment. I don't want to subscribe to the throw-away clothes culture. I want to repurpose and recycle old things and make them new again. Can other people be convinced that this is a better path than buying new clothes? Or do they simply not care about the costs? Do the social benefits of new clothes really outweigh the costs for most people?
I wonder how different my life would be if I were a man. Would I be able to cook or do my own laundry? Would I have any interest in doing those things in the first place? Would I be more or less motivated to do those things for various reasons? What would my time have been devoted to instead of feminine things? I sometimes feel as if being born female is like being born poor in terms of both time and money. I wonder what I would do with my time. I wonder how my personality would be different than it is. Maybe I shouldn't wonder about these, because one cannot change their sex at birth and because I have no intentions of changing my gender presentation. Every gender has pros and cons. In the twentieth century, women were second class citizens. Maybe that is still true in significant parts of the world for the twenty first century, but the picture is more complex in "developed countries." I suspect that if I were born male, then I would pursue tech and engineering with much more vigor than I do now.
Hunger and tiredness are very inconvenient, though eating and sleeping can be very enjoyable. If humans didn't sleep, then they would live more like sixty years instead of eighty years. I would rather live for sixty years in a body that didn't need sleep than for eighty years in a body that did sleep. Unfortunately my body does need sleep, and I admit that I enjoy my bed. Goodnight
I have many thoughts. Too many thoughts. More thoughts than can be put into words... I think I thought I thought that I thought too much, but now I think I don't think enough
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