Miraculously Mediocre

Entrepreneur Jan 23, 2024

I just want to write. About what I don’t even know. I am languishing. Or something. Listless. Staring at things in my apartment hoping that they will make sense somehow or something will make sense and I will spring into action. Once again caught up in it all. The next thing to be done.

I made a Tiktok about emotions tonight and I’m not even sure I feel mine. I made a Tiktok about living and I have to convince myself every day to keep going. I made a Tiktok that was sassy and defiant but most moments I’m just a sad little puddle.


Replying to @quiksilber1988 Thanks for your concern 🥰 #covidcautious #covidconscious #disabled #immunocompromised #maskup #wearamask

♬ original sound - Cakelin

I published a book and like most things it took way more time and effort than I planned. And now I feel conflicted about it, embarrassed to make my work part of all the noise.

And now I am here. Staring at an opportunity that could change things for me.

But the truth is I don’t think I deserve it. I wouldn’t give it to me.

It would be different if everyone had that kind of creative freedom and support. I could blend in and be mediocre. I want to be there for my communities but I don't want to represent us.

My book is a comfort and a burden. Trying to get anyone’s attention in this world is so punishing. And yet some thrive on it, their platforms grow. And others wither. And who can definitively say which side you end up on, except that it’s all work and gambling. A siphoning of our collective energy.

Evolution thrives on local competition. Constraints that fuel new survival niches and diversity in species. When local contexts are removed, convergence reigns instead. Someone or something wins. Winning isn't about the best or even the fittest. I'm not sure what it is about.

If those are my only options, I'd rather lose than win. And I'm not sure why.

I can’t figure this out inside of me when every day I wake up alone. Minus Pepper Ann and maybe she’s not enough for me. Yet she’s all I’ve got. 

The more alone I am, the more I pity myself. The more I feel trapped and.. I feel like such a fraud. Sitting here with my diagrams and little schemes. These won’t help anyone. I’ll never be able to explain this well enough. Because I don’t even know how to embody it. Not really. Not for money anyways. Which is survival, right?

I don’t know things anymore. I lost that part of me that puffed me up and caged me in. To get through a moment or a day. So much of my life and identity has been displaced humiliation. Swallow it. 

I zoom out and view myself another way. But I can’t seem to let go of the process of viewing. Of thinking. Of trying to build ground beneath my feet and a reality to rest my ego on.

I want to be afraid and anxious but that requires a will to survive. I wish I were living in fear I might actually move the needle on all the things that threaten me. Somehow I am here, just fucking thinking. Slouching into oblivion.

All my words feel so dramatic and petulant. Like I am a child that won’t step into the responsibility of being in this world. But this world isn't stepping into that responsibility, either.

And haven’t I done that over and over and over? I had the great credit score. The retirement savings. The unbelievable friends. The interesting job. The academic achievement. The startup in the glass building. The home I invested in. The volunteering I committed to. I survived so much and worked so hard only for the trauma to surface as a chronically sick body-mind.

It was never mine. It was never mine. Which also means nothing surrounding me now is truly mine either. It will all fade away. This clacky expensive keyboard. Thinking, I actually like that founder but why in the midst of several genocides is he tweeting about keyboard types for gaming or work. As if it matters. Why do I expect or want more from him or anyone. Shouldn't we be able to care about whatever it is we care about, even if it seems unimportant to others. We can't just focus on death and destruction and decline all the time. Like our monopolistic corporate media does.

What will happen to this keyboard when I’m gone? Will it even get through life with me? Let alone be inherited. Things aren't built to last because then how will they force us to buy another one? They need us subscribed.

Will my book survive? Maybe no one cares or will ever read it now. And maybe no one will ever read it in the future. 

I can’t see the future. None of us can. Not tomorrow, or 10 years. But we still have to act and invest our behavior like little votes in a future we think we can have.

Or are we all just wandering around doing little things because we think we should. Not poking at the illusion.

In the past, I didn’t think I was watering this plant to ever get it to flower again. I had just given up and the flowers were an unexpected surprise. The effort of the watering, not the outcome of the flowers. But you still have to choose which effort to invest in, what potentials to leave open.

And at some point you are out of chances. Either you find money or you lose it all. And I am at that point or close to it. I have finagled my finances within an inch of a cliff. Just staring down, unable to walk away and unable to fall. Not even knowing what I want or what I will do or what will happen to me. Just knowing it is my fault I’m here.

Everything in these times feels like purgatory. Of my heart, my emotions, my connections, my libido. I see a person I know is sexy, that I would have classified or categorized as that sensation in the past. And nothing comes up. Nothing stirs. I couldn’t tell you if it was mental or physical. And because of plague isolation, there’s no way for me to test a theory even if I had a guess.

I'm an immcel. Immunocompromised celibate. A term I told myself I'd never put into the universe, because of the association. I'm not bitter because I think I'm owed another person's body, I'm bitter because of what I've lost. Of the way I feel punished and excluded. But don’t they think that, too?

Incels feel the right to someone else's body. I feel the right to shared air that's safe to breath. Somehow I am connected to a group of people I've never understood. We are both stigmatized and it's odd to think others might not see the difference. They just see isolated, bitter, odd, angry.. and they tune out.

A woman doesn't owe her body or energy to a lonely man. 

And many don't think they owe clean, safe air to people like me. Or even to themselves.

We draw such different boundaries around ownership and obligation.

That’s the thing about isolation. It’s a whole chunk of the map of your life just wiped out. Destruction is a crumbling context. They push people south and bomb there too. They forced us out of society and then are enforcing RTO. Hybrid is kind of worse. They won’t force people into the office every day because few will agree to that now. But one day a week could still kill me. And people will agree to the hybrid work. They will agree to sacrificing us.

Things only got better when non-disabled people needed it and then they took it away again. For profits. I already feel alienated from most people. Being remote when others aren't allowed makes me different and resented. That's how accommodations work.

Others refuse to see the costs I pay for their behavior and instead focus on the perceived benefits I get. Benefits we could all have if we held the line.

The scale is different on the spectrum of harm, but the tactics and justifications are so similar. It's eerie to feel connected to another's pain while unable to change circumstances for any of us. No matter how much effort or energy you apply. And still we try.

I don't know how I can participate. How I could be in an office or on a team. I don’t even mean just covid or other infectious diseases. I mean my inability to mask or bullshit or control my emotions. I just want to be direct and I want to be me.

I buried my grief for a performance review once. And now I am supposed to do that again? To pretend I haven’t been abandoned, as if the isolation is my fault? As if it is my pathology and not societies?

They pathologized enslaved people’s desire to escape. I am in the crossfire. My white body. Poor, disabled, queer, trans white people. We are the civilian casualties in a collective punishment for the transgression of race existing. Race as a concept we created.

I can’t do it. I think I’d rather starve or freeze to death. Obviously that’s easy for me to say when it’s not right in front of me. Although I've been there before, clawing at the scraps of basic needs. I believed in a promise then. A promise of education and achievement and some future I couldn't imagine.

And now I am in that future where those promises were not kept. Which was the plan all along, I'm pretty sure. Comply or die.

Losing Pepper Ann would be the worst part. I just hope my Mom meant it when she said they would take Pepper if something happens to me. But something could happen to my parents too. The thought of her being with a stranger is intolerable in this world where even people I loved accepted my abandonment.

I hope we get to die together. Together at least at a moment in time even if we aren't together in physical space. I was so lucky to be by my first service dog Franklin's side when he died, even if his death was not the way I hoped. I hope I don’t see it coming. And in an instant it is over. And I can just be in that moment knowing I don’t have anything to solve or fix or figure out. Just pure relief. The relief of paramedics carrying me out of my apartment in 2020, after stress from the benefits system caused me to faint into a severe concussion. The melting of my chronically tense muscles thinking maybe I would not have to carry on if the damage was bad enough.

The absolute presence of a tragedy unfolding instead of just its future possibilities.

And that’s the thing about decline. If you’ve never been there you can’t feel or fathom it. It is terrifying in the moments leading up to it. But sometimes the pain tips past the terror. It takes over. There is nothing left but the next tiny thing you must do to find any relief. And there is a bizarre relief in no relief. There is a surrender to a broken body. Other external threats can't compare to the misery you are already in. I hate the sensation of falling, the rush of adrenaline. But there is something different when the fall is a slow decay and a rush of symptoms. Your body can’t respond, the energy is not there to resist.

The only thing there is you, minus every identity you've ever clung to.

I wonder if other sick and disabled people have known those moments and how have those moments entrenched in us.

Something is erased about my fear and anxiety now. And in some ways and on some days, I want it back. It was so useful, to be definitively counted among the living. It's the tastiest illusion.  

I am not living in fear. I am your living fear. And you think if I die, your paralyzing fear will die too. But it's just the reminder that's absent. People build these little barricades of insults to keep our reality away. They belittle, they bemoan, they betray. Anything to stay right where they are. To not bridge the gulf between our experiences. 

Maybe that reality rejection is in their bodies and maybe it's in their minds. The attachment to a prediction of healthy. A little security blanket of false beliefs. The attachment to our division. No, it couldn’t possibly happen to you. So we are insufferable, complaining, self centering, self righteous, virtue signaling, concern trolling.. The more terms or labels they can find the more they can bury us. We are left to argue over the definitions. An energy leak and distraction that will never register in their world.

They put their own doubt in our coffin like it was our prized possession all along. 

I wish I thought I was wrong. I wish I had anxiety. I wish I had the clinging to the past. I wish I was part of something. I wish anything I said mattered. I wish I would stop working for free for a corporation that steals attention while my finances rot and my will to live withers and my libido is probably in the fucking bermuda triangle. And maybe it’s isolation. And maybe it’s long covid. Or my existing conditions. My conditions from existing.

We live in the world of “it could be anything” and they live in the world of “it must be nothing”.

I used to try so hard to chase that and I just simply don’t fucking care what is wrong with me anymore. I’m a fuck up and a flounder who will just be forgotten. Who in many ways already is but keeps pestering people like the middle child I never was. 

Hello, remember me? I disappeared and I am still here. And now I need you to hear my insufferable message so you can immediately tune me out and reassure yourself with my absence. The absolute denial of every word trailing you like toilet paper in your dirty shoes. Part of some shopping haul you celebrated.

But please keep reminding each other to wash your hands. Little bricks in your castle of what I want to call insanity and can’t because all you will do is weaponize that word against anyone who’s inconvenient for you and the status quo.

It's not insanity, denial is some universal flaw in our species’ cognition. Which is not reassuring, just like the surge in respiratory illnesses being known infections is not reassuring. Because it means we have population level immune deficiency, for pathogens and propaganda.

I’m not sure what I am fighting for. I am not sure why I am sitting here typing. I’m not sure why my brain continues to have thoughts and my heart continues to beat. When there’s nothing here for me. Except tiny moments where I breathe and try to be me.

Yet I don’t want me. I want to build those layers of lies within myself so at least part of me can survive. Abandoning my other parts the same way I have been abandoned. My brain is wearing itself down trying to solve an equation that can't possibly be balanced. Despite all my math skills and education, I can’t find a solution. It wouldn’t work for me like it does for you. I wouldn’t be able to claim innocence someday when all things fall apart. I wouldn’t be able to go to my grave knowing all the harm I had spread around. Willingly.

I wish I could die now and stop the pollution and emissions of my western lifestyle. Minimizing my harm like trying to close my fists around shifting, falling sand. Each grain another life I'll never comprehend or connect with. 

Maybe that is some rigidity or lack of forgiveness within myself that is unhealthy and insufferable. But the world isn’t giving me a lot of other options right now and I’m not sure how or if I have enough energy or will to pioneer those choices for myself. Even though I admire the people who do. The people who wear their surety and attempts like delicate armor. Who expose the right amount beneath at the right time to gain some sort of favor or influence. People whose words and values make enough sense for some sort of belonging to happen. Somehow their insecurity attracts instead of repels. 

I am just weird. I am just me. I don’t know how to dance that dance. And I don’t know why some people win it and others don’t. Sometimes I think I could have it if I just invested in beauty and charm. But who would I be then. Not that I am anyone now. Or ever have been. I wish we didn't have to be anyone. I wish we were all free.

For decades, as soon as I learned how, I just slipped into some ego or persona or script and tried to spell myself into believing I belonged in it. The feminine outfits that shocked my male friends in highschool. The times I was almost a conventional 10/10. The weaponized cage of white womanhood. Until it got too itchy and I hadn’t showered in ages. And when I would take it off, it would crumble. The same way I crumble. The same way I melt and was deprived the language and identity to even know why the melting would happen.

Disability and neurodivergence and chronic illness are rarely why's that can be wielded. You get to learn that every time the hilt burns your hands.

The truth is there is no truth, but maybe if there was one it would be that I don’t like being me. Because I don’t want to have to live the life required to be this human. But is there another human on this planet whose life I would want to inhabit? If I gambled on that switch it would likely be worse. And once I acknowledge that bridge to another, I spiral further. If I can't handle this with all of my privileges, who can? I should.. I should.

I should be fixing something. 

Sometimes I see people in unimaginable circumstances and I envy them because they are together in it. And I am so ashamed of that thought, “At least they have each other”. I am so ashamed of that craving. As if my isolation and its negative effects are my own personal failing that will be used against me if I speak up about it. If you don’t want to be alone you better conform and open that door of denial.

We've been pushed into a binary arena where we are told the only fighters we can choose as champion are covid denial or absolute isolation. Once we agree to that fight, we've already lost.

I think I’d switch lives for a hug. Not just any hug but someone to hold me and to face these issues with me. For the chorus of familiar laughter that only companionship brings. For searching outside of myself instead of falling into my phone for hours on end as if I will ever find what I’m looking for. But the finding is not why I am there, it is the act of searching and scrolling that they have inscribed into our neurons. I must keep going and something will come that will allow me to keep going. And then somehow we will all end up deserving, with enough attention and resources to go around. So I can be part of the crowd of survival and thrive-al. So I can be the person others saw in me. Used to see in me. The one they expected to be kind and supportive and pliable.

But I am not. I am bitter and breakable and everlasting. I am all the things that you can never give or take from me, because I can’t do that either. I just have to wake up into this and figure it out. To keep taking chances and trying to tell myself into my own damn story.

I am so afraid to sell others because I use all of my energy to sell myself. I'm an entrepreneur who only sells myself on making it through the next day.

That hit out of nowhere like a piece of truth I dug up and dusted off but it might not even be mine. It could be a plant. A plant that I might not want to water which could flower anyways. Even so I’ll put it in the collection with the other insights true or not and I will continue to dig. Because what else is there to do?

It’s just me and my projects. For a mortal’s eternity. Just me and the questions that humble my pursuits. Just me and the answers that never fill me up. Just me and the moments of living in a brain and body that is weary and unexplored. Just me and my fingers on these keys wondering what sentence will even come next. Until it’s typed and I marvel that my brain just continues stringing words together as if they will lead anywhere and as if they mean anything. Like constant debugging but no actual shipping.

Because I am just here. And what even would be brainOps in 2024. Maybe I’ll have a chip and be in a tub of human goo juice by 2034. Maybe we will have destroyed the planet even faster with nuclear war or AI bias or some other kind of existential threat. I can see the threats but I cannot see the promises to create the tension needed for my motivation. I cannot muster it within myself when I have so little in the day to day. I cannot use my fear of white apathy as a shield against my life's conditions. Or maybe I just haven't figured out how yet. 

I have these moments of joy with Pepper Ann. And then I discount them. And then I remind myself that I am not even doing that great a job with her, to spend time with her. But she can’t talk. She can’t meet me here. And what a consolation that is. That she will never know the torture and unpredictability of a human brain.

But in other ways she knows and experiences much more than me.

I see her in this unknown future. My brain’s endless simulations. And she is leading a gang of dogs. Her pack. Roaming the streets. Learning to avoid all humans because by then we will be eating any dogs we can catch out of lack of food or issues with our brains or something. There's some explanation in my mind that sets the scene, I'm sure of it. She is so fast. And healthy. That no one can catch her. 

As long as other humans exist, may I exist, to protect this precious animal who I did not deserve.

I wonder if I can ever let go of the concept of deserve and the resulting guilt. It is not my job to tell myself no or to pick who gets invested in. And if it were, I wouldn’t be on the receiving side anyways. But it has been my job before. I have hired and picked partners and reviewed scholarships. I have been the chooser. And were the people I did not choose unworthy or undeserving of the support or position?

I don’t know. There was usually some flaw. And I am so aware of all of my many many flaws. 

And I fight those flaws with artificial self inflation. I must talk myself into a version of me to even make the attempt. What if I didn’t? What if I approached this as though I am neither of those things. I am not the flounder or the failure. I am not the success or entrepreneur. I am not the scientist or the artist. I am nothing but predictions that swirl my surroundings into the next stepping stone. A path I hope someone can walk. A place I hope someone can rest. For all the turbulent waters and dangerous crossings that will come.

Why do we need gates and gatekeepers? So that some can step and others stumble?

Oh and there it is. The question of whether or when do I stop. The pull of every sentence that feels bad or feels good. Because free flowing is the gift and brilliance and delight and ugliness. It is the gamble. It is not the fine tuning of doing the greatest work. Is it?

I don’t know. I am just a cumulation of influences. A bag of false choices I don’t know how to surrender or embrace. I am just me and you. 

But somehow this seems helpful. Absolutely flowing. Into the next part and the next. Until it’s 3 AM and I’m touching sanity again. Time to sleep and do it all again tomorrow. The grind, the friction, the unease.. The labels I drape over the things I want to keep at a distance. 

My potential. My talent. My skills. A better future. Possibilities that if I embrace or chase them, I might have to set aside the unyielding pain of abandonment and betrayal. What compromises will collaboration require and am I willing to pay that cost?

I don't want to be right. And I don't want to compete. I don't want to debate over the value of any life.

I want so much more for each of us, for all of us. I don't know if wanting more for myself is a gateway or trapdoor to that potential shared reality.

If I don't practice hope for my own life, can I still practice hope for our species?


Cakelin Fable

Polygon gargoyle. Spicy scientist, engineer, artist, and entrepreneur. Disabled, nonbinary, and bisexual. Host of Defective Detective podcast. Buddhist into books. Service dog pup Pepper Ann.

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