Sasha Pixlee

Professional Swashbuckler

Drowning

I work full time. I also live in the United States, in the Bay Area in California. I don’t have a college degree. Compared to most people in the world I’m wealthy, I guess. It sure doesn’t feel that sometimes. I live close to the edge, paycheck to paycheck. I don’t have any medical benefits from my job, so I don’t really have access to medical care. Paying for my health would ruin me.

I neglect things that shouldn’t be neglected. I need to see a dentist, badly. I haven’t updated the prescription for my glasses in at least 5 years. I suffer from mental illness (depression) that is basically untreated. All because I can’t afford the luxury of health care.

I get by okay, though, as long as nothing else goes wrong.

Because of my interests I am surrounded by friends and peers who make more money than me, who are more financially secure than I am. I know I can’t really keep up with them as a consumer or in travel. Sometimes I try to be like everyone else and I pay for it. Sometimes I overdo it even more.

In the last quarter of 2012 I was struggling with a deep depression. One of the worst in my life. The worst one I’ve experienced since I was a teenager. Over a couple months I was careless and self destructive. How? I spent money on things for myself and my friends without paying attention to my means and my budget. It worked, in a way. It wasn’t until how screwed I’d made myself was completely unavoidable that the thoughts of suicide started.

Some people were very kind to me. Friends paid for some of my textbooks. Someone repaid a “loan” from a year before. Someone loaned me some money that got my rent paid. I paid them back as soon as I could. I have curbed my spending. I cut back on luxuries. I haven’t gone out all year. I’m mostly eating canned soup and ramen. But that hole I blew in my budget while unconsciously trying to stay alive is still there. Slowly growing. Payday loans to keeps the lights on and my home available just make things worse in the long run. A cut in my take home pay isn’t helping either.

This is what life can be like for someone with a full time job living in the richest country in history. A screw up, and error, and it cascades to the point where sometimes I feel like $1000 is worth dying over.

I’m not going to kill myself. I know people love me and I don’t want to hurt them. Sometimes though, dying seems like it wouldn’t be so bad, for me at least. I wouldn’t feel like I’m drowning anymore.

I’m moving, but what does that mean?

It has a floor and walls.

Last night I signed the lease on a new apartment. It’s a 650 square foot studio at the corner of 32nd Street and San Pablo Avenue in Oakland. This will cut my commute in half while keeping my living expenses (less transportation) about the same. It also means I can spend less time without pants on, which is always a groovy thing. I’ve scheduled power, gas, and internet to all be turned on by the 6th and I’ve scheduled my actual move for the 13th. This will be my first place all to myself. (I’m not counting the few months I spent in my old place after my ex moved out. I was living with ghosts the whole time.) I’ve always lived with roommates or a partner, so this is kind of exciting.

A big thank you to my roommate Cathy. When I was seriously torn up over my divorce and looking for a place to move without as many memories she opened her home to me. She’s been a great roommate, and is very cool and understanding about me moving out, too. Three cheers for Cathy!

People usually expect to hear a call for help carrying heavy things up and down stairs and into and out of vehicles when their friends move. Not this time. you all lucked out. I really pared down my possessions last time and have some money saved so I’m hiring movers. I feel like I’m part of the 1% now! Or is it the 53% these days?

Anyhow, there are still ways you can help.

I could use someone to help me with an IKEA run for some small things and then maybe keep me company while I wait for the cable guy on Saturday the 6th. I got a volunteer!

I will need someone to chauffeur me and my cat (in her carrier) from SF to the new place on he afternoon of Saturday the 13th.

I will also gladly accept any donations or gifts to outfit my new place. I got rid of most of the stuff a normal person owns when I moved last year. Here are the household necessities I actually do own:

  • Cocktail shaker
  • Cocktail strainer
  • Ice bucket
  • Cast Iron Dutch Oven
  • USS Enterprise-shaped pizza cutter

That’s it. No dishes, no utensils, not pans or pots for cooking, no microwave (thankfully the apartment has a fridge and a stove/oven), nothing else normal people have. So, if you feel like you owe me moving karma and/or you have some stuff you want to donate, now you know what I need.

Everything.

 

School Days

In the spring I dipped my toe back into academia by taking a class. It went pretty well, in that I got the third-highest grade in the class. This week I’m continuing with a full-time course load. That plus working full time has me ready to freak out. If you’re a friend who wants to see me, please be understanding and willing to schedule one or more weeks in advance.

Anyway, I thought it might be entertaining to show you which classes I’m taking and what books I’ll be reading and working from. (Images are clickable, links go to Amazon.)

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Sometimes you get glimpses.

I was talking to someone recently and the topic of expectations for how the world treats us came up. What was really interesting for me to realize is that the idea of voicing expectations for decent treatment from friends and lovers frankly terrified me. I submitted a post to Silver Ribbon Stories about my life-long battles with depression. Sometimes I get glimpses of what that, and life experience, have done to make me who I am. And not in a cool way.

I get really uncomfortable at genuine compliments about who I am or about my appearance. I’ve managed to get fairly comfortable with being complimented on what I do, but not for who I am. When someone says I look nice or that they like being around me it freaks me out. It does not compute. They’re obviously confused or I have somehow managed to trick them, right?

I’m not the guy people like for who I am or who they want to sleep with because they are attracted to me. My self image, way deep down is as the guy people keep around because I’m useful. I know people. I’m funny, I go out of my way to be a good friend. That is why people like me. Women who sleep with me do so because they’re bored, or because I’m funny. That’s how I see myself deep down.

And if that’s how I think the world is, how dare I have expectations that they will treat me with kindness or consideration? It’s ridiculous to think that someone like me should expect to be sought out, right? So the idea of expecting or hoping, let alone demanding to be treated well is terrifying and something I can’t get myself to do yet.

Now you know why I’m single, guys.

 

How not to sleep with a Trek fan.

As a single nerdy dude I have an online dating profile. Specifically I have one on OKCupid. Today I got a message that amused me. If you thought only men tried using Pick Up Artist tactics like negging, you will be happy to know that being a jerk is truly an egalitarian choice. Here’s the message:

I LOVE WHISKEY just saying

star Trek is just is a kinda nerd show where dorks geek out on science right thats the appeal no real human connection with the characters but a connection to the ideas.

If you didn’t click the link to my profile above you might be helped by knowing that I made sure to mention my love of Star Trek and my fondness for whiskey-drinking women in my profile.

But, hey, negging is supposed to only be for “hot girls”…I feel so pretty!

“Look hipster lady.”

Your author, apparently.

In case you don’t already know, I have launched my pro-diversity project for the Women Thinking Free Foundation. It’s called More Than Men, and it’s awesome. Go look, admire, and contribute your voice.

On Monday I wrote a piece about some problems at The Good Men Project. An editor there asked me if I would let them publish a modified version on their site. I agreed, with the requirement that they link to the original post. They did so.

Now it’s being blown up by dudes who have their feelings hurt. The editors at TGMP moderate comments and don’t apporve all of them, As they author I get to see the posts that don’t get approved. Here is my favorite ever, from a man who called himself “Ed”:

Look hipster lady. Us men are not turning into little girls  as apart of your ridiculous social experiment. Your low brow interpretation of a already bad social theory is hardly just cause to do so. There is nothing remotely intelligent about coming to a men’s site meant to host the stories of men and their experiences and demanding the men be less masculine using the most crude language as if we were sharing a spliff on a corner. Then again you might actually be stoned, which is why you thought this post was a good idea in the first place.

For one feminist have spent decades trying to get women to be more masculine while at the same time actively exploiting power vacuums left be feminized men. The emergence of masculine women has not been pleasant since they lacked the chivalry that made male masculinity tolerable. Men’s expression of masculinity is practically required by gender roles which feminist don’t see much benefit in changing. Men still ask women out, men still have to be stoic to absorb rejection, men are still expected to have money while women simply have to exist to find a mate, men are still expected to protect women, men are still in the most dangerous roles and the list goes on. Women get benefits from masculinity, but which to suppress it when it threatens their power in the relationship or on the job.  Instead of abolishing masculinity, how about women learn some respect and appreciation instead of taking it for granted as feminist seem to have encouraged with contemptuous attitudes like the one you have.  Women don’t even like feminine men and men don’t like masculine women. At some point those who thrive outside of the mainstream are going to have to accept that being different does not mean making everyone else be you. If you want gender neutrality, then never bring up gender again.

One day when you grow up your going to find out the idealist around you did not tell you the whole truth, mainly because they did not know it.  The real liars are the academics who come up with bad theories to get published by inventing a distorted perspective on the human struggle that sounds good to sympathetic readers.  A general attack on maleness and  masculinity will make you a bigot.

A conspiracy of crybabies or the comfortable shelter of apathy?

Photo: D Sharon Pruitt

The skeptic/atheist community has a woman problem. The nature of that problem depends on who you ask. Most people agree that it would be good to have more women involved in our community. Many women, and many men like myself, see that the problem is that our community is unwelcoming to women. Others say the problem is all the ladies fault.

We have all heard the many, many incidents of sexist and misogynist attitudes and actions women report experiencing at our meetings and online. We have numerous examples of prominent male skeptics and atheists exhibiting behaviors that many women say make them feel uncomfortable and unwelcome. I believe that what we choose to do with these facts speaks volumes about who we are as individuals and as a community. The response from men seems to break down as follows: Continue reading

The Confederacy is Destroying America

I make my jokes about “the former Confederacy”, but I know many good and decent people from southern states. I still think Robert Reich got a salient point in his AlterNet piece: The “culture” of the (angry, white, rural) south has destroyed the Republican party and is trying to destroy America.

“America has had a long history of white Southern radicals who will stop at nothing to get their way – seceding from the Union in 1861, refusing to obey Civil Rights legislation in the 1960s, shutting the government in 1995, and risking the full faith and credit of the United States in 2010.”

 

Apple Sauced Punch

At Thanksgiving I planned on making a fairly traditional punch with lemon juice. My roommate joined us after all and she’s allergic to citrus. So….I improvised that morning and came up with an autumnal punch recipe that didn’t have any citrus at all. It went over pretty well with my friends and then noted skeptic and professionally awesome person Maria Walters made it for her guests and they loved it as well. When that happened it didn’t have a name, but then a name was provided by the elegant and amazing Jenna Marie Griffith: Apple Sauced Punch. Here’s how to make it:

  • 750 ml aged rum
  • 52 oz apple juice
  • 60 oz hard cider
  • 10 oz spiced brown sugar simple syrup*

Juice and cider are chilled. Mix all in punch bowl, stir, garnish with sliced apples and cinnamon sticks. The punch bowl was set in a larger ice-filled bowl to keep it cool all day.

* Warm and stir equal parts water and light brown sugar. Add WHOLE cinnamon stick, clove, and nutmeg to taste. Let it steep and cool with spices in for at least one hour. Strain and chill to room temperature.

 

Holiday Cheer: Can it be created alone?

I’ve been an out atheist for years but I still celebrate Christmas – I may be godless, but I am culturally christian. I am one of those secularists who ignores the “Christ” in Christmas and instead enjoys it as a holiday to be merry and share love and gifts with the ones you love. This year, for the first time in my life, I’m alone at Christmas time.

Not only am I single this year, but I don’t have family to go see, and while some friends have invited me to join their festivities, I must admit I think I’ll pass because my messed up emotions aren’t up to a gathering I’m not 100% familiar with. So what’s a sad, lonely atheist to do during his favorite holiday of the year?

My strategy is three-fold:

  1. Looking for another loner to spend the day with.
  2. I recently spent a chunk of my free money to help a stranger have a good Christmas.
  3. I’m sending out holiday cards for the first time in my life.

I’m not yet sure how it will all play out, but I did make a map to show myself who in the world I’m touching this holiday season. You can see it below.

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