Well crap

That kid yesterday was one of mine after all. He also followed me on TikTok, and there were a lot more recent videos of his over there and eventually I was able to place him. Dude shows up every day and he’s not exactly a shrinking violet. It’s nuts that it took me this long to figure out who he was.

I have more to talk about– met with the superintendent today, and I finished a really good book last night, and I feel like maybe even something else, but God, I’m tired. So a brief “Hey, I’m an idiot!” is going to have to be enough tonight.

On (not) being Catholic

I am, by any reasonable standard, a grown-ass man. Furthermore, by most reasonable standards I’ve been a grown-ass man for a couple of decades or more. You would think, after all this time, I would have some idea of what I was like. In fact, it’s not unreasonable to suggest that of all the available topics for me to know things about, “what I’m like” should really be at least in the top five or so in terms of how much I know about that topic compared to other people.

And yet.

I am an atheist. I have been an atheist for my entire life; there has never been even a single minute where I believed in God. My family is Catholic on both sides; my Mom actually attended Catholic schools for at least most of her pre-college education, and I think my Dad went to Catholic schools before high school. I could be wrong about that, but he’ll see this, so he can let me know. They made no attempt to raise me in the Church– I wasn’t baptized, never attended confirmation or anything like that, and we never went to church except for very rare occasions with my grandmother on Dad’s side. That said, I have referred to myself as “biologically Catholic” on any number of occasions– look, I just did it again right there— and I can fake Catholicism way better than I can fake other religions. My first teaching job was at a Catholic school– that’s the church right there, in that picture– and while I didn’t participate in prayers or anything like that I got along with everyone just fine and I was never aware of anyone being upset (or, frankly, aware) of the heathen in their midst.

Why do I mention this? We went to a funeral on Thursday, and said funeral was at a white Protestant church. And when I say “Protestant,” I don’t mean, like, Lutherans or something, where their Protestantism is basically Catholicism with some of the edges sanded off, I mean, like, there were chairs and shit, and there was a fucking drum set behind the altar. At one point a man got up to sing, and that man who was singing was wearing blue jeans and a plaid shirt at a funeral.

The Lord’s Prayer cannot be made into a song, by the way. He tried. He tried mightily. And he was talented! But that prayer is not a song.

Now, I feel the need to make something clear here: I have spent plenty of time in my life attacking religion. I’ve mellowed out a lot about it as I’ve gotten older, but I’ve done it. This isn’t that. Everyone at that church was perfectly nice, the service was fine other than the singing-the-Lord’s-prayer bit, and other than basically thinking the entire thing is fundamentally ridiculous I don’t give much of a shit how people practice their religion so long as it doesn’t affect me, and that drum set on the stage did not affect me one bit. But I’ve got to admit something: I was really surprised at how strong my reaction to seeing the actual sanctuary was. That picture up there is what I’m used to, y’all. And I had twenty or thirty oh what the fuck moments within my first fifteen minutes or so inside that place. I’m not necessarily comfortable in Catholic churches but at least I understand them, right? This? This I don’t get. Like, I know most Christian denominations don’t really go for robes and stoles and collars and such but apparently I really like being able to pick the pastor out in a crowd? And this guy was just, like, a dude in a suit, like a dozen other people in the building.

Who knew.

How about no?

Sure, WordPress, I’ll drop $36K a year minimum on analytics for my hundred hits a day and the no money this blog is making me. These advertising dollars were well spent!

(I pay $90 a year for the blog. Why the hell do they think this is relevant to me?)

I’ve got nothing today, really, but I’m about to go live over at YouTube for a little while so pop on over, say hi, and subscribe. 🙂

On the continuing contraction of my social media

My Facebook and Instagram accounts have been closed for some time now, and while I occasionally miss Instagram a little bit, I find I haven’t missed Facebook at all, and I think at this point it’s probably fair to say that I’m not going to be reactivating that account ever again. And I find myself looking around at the rest of my accounts and trying to figure out what could go next.

I gotta be honest; I’m starting to think about losing Twitter and TikTok. I’ve pretty much stopped posting on TikTok; maybe a video a week at most, and the site mostly exists as a time sink for me now. I could, I suppose, completely rework how I use it– the good thing about TikTok is the way the site celebrates enthusiasm of all kinds, so if I went through and made sure I was just following the woodworking and bookmaking and cooking and BookTok and other maker types of accounts, I could probably keep it up for longer, but right now it’s not really doing anything for me other than giving me something to stare at, and the way the site’s moderation works even without any regular posting it’s only a matter of time before they decide to ban me for no fucking reason at all.

And Twitter … man, I’m really split on Twitter. On the one hand, it’s my main source of news, and one of the really big ways I discover new books nowadays. On the other hand, it’s my main source of news, and the news is constantly horrible all the time and evil has won. I have a number of people I interact with over there who I really like, but they’re all parasocial relationships with people who probably wouldn’t actually miss me much if I disappeared from the site and a fair number of them show up here or on YouTube anyway. (YouTube is not currently in danger, for the record.)

But … God, I need to get the despair under control lately, and I really am starting to think that Twitter is an overall drag on my mental health. But it has some utility to me beyond just being a time sink, and for that reason I’m not nearly as likely to decide to get rid of it. I just need to find a way to get the horror aspects of the site under control, as it’s become perfectly clear lately that I am never going to be able to block my way out of the bullshit. My blocklist is in the mid-five-figures right now and there’s still just an endless torrent of bullshit every single day. Just today alone I found out that Joyce Carol Oates, Letitia Wright, and Tim Burton were massive assholes, and, like, I don’t need this shit.

(Also up for debate: is Twitter what’s causing a decline in my mental health, or is it the state of the fucking world, and it’s just Twitter taking the brunt of that? Or both? There’s no reason it can’t be both.)

(Like, it’s not Twitter’s fault that the Republicans are literally going to tank the world economy less than a month after I decided to take retirement investments seriously. But Twitter is how I’m hearing about all this shit so it’s taking the blame.)

I dunno. I’m not doing anything anytime soon, but I’m starting to think about it in a more serious fashion than I have in the past.

I swear this story is true

Or: how not to speak around middle school students.

I was walking down to the office to drop off some paperwork when I saw one of the new teachers in the building having a conversation with one of her students in the hallway. Because this is relevant to the story, I will reveal that she is a relatively new teacher– second or third-year, I think– and is of an appropriate age for that, so early/mid twenties or so. Seeing her reminded me that I’ve been meaning to email her about a mutual student we have for a couple of days and I keep forgetting to do it, so I thought I’d take a moment and just talk to her in person.

By the time I got to her room, she and the student were back inside, so I just stood in the doorway until she noticed me and asked a question, using these precise words, which would prove to be her undoing: “Could I borrow you for a sec?”

You might possibly already see where this is going. To her credit, she realized mid-sentence that she was in the midst of making a terrible mistake and just … powered through it like a damn champion, not breaking stride or stammering and joining me in the hallway, where we exchanged a glance that said we will never speak of this again, other than when I run to the rest of the math team and tell them, then tell the entire internet tonight, and somehow only a small number of her seventh-grade (thank God she didn’t have any of my 8th graders in the room) class seems to have noticed.

Because the exact words that she inadvertently chose to respond to my question, in perhaps the single most awkward exchange I have ever had with a young woman in my life, were “For you, Mr. Siler, I have all the secs you need.”

Say it out loud, if you need to.

I have a silly job.