Dead Men Tell No Tales: A Shot In The Dark

What is Dead Men Tell No Tales? It is a selection of (hitherto) undisclosed, private ruminations and epiphanies. Most take the form of (slightly) edited letters to unnamed recipients, but some have been scavenged from the depths of private journals recently rediscovered. Over the next little while (however long it takes – days, weeks, months, years?) I’ll be posting them in episodic fashion for the reading pleasure of my nonexistent audience.

In A Shot In The Dark, our young writer (his loneliness depression-enhanced) seeks comfort in new company. Having met an intriguing local girl online and grown somewhat fond of her over the course of six months, he spills some of his inner broodings to her. Met with initial acceptance, rejection loomed its ugly head shortly before he parted for boot camp, and conversation with her dropped off the deep end (this termination of contact coincides interestingly with a discussion the author shared with one RF, but that is a story for another time.). Below is some of the juicier bits of correspondence. Needing some time to clear his head before boot camp, our author takes a two-week long vigil free of internet communications, and upon his return, explains himself. Without further ado:
You flatter me, miss.
As far as my inner meditations go, I was brooding as to the circumstances that led me to my current juncture.
Well, it all began about two years ago as my junior year was starting. I was coming off of a fresh betrayal which hurt, and had been trying to figure out who I could trust. At the time, I erroneously concluded that I was too judgmental and didn’t give enough people enough of a chance. So I spent the majority of my time trying to go out of my way to be pleasant, helpful, sociable, and that sort of thing. 
At the same time, things on the home front had been terrible as usual (I will not bother you with the details – suffice to say that I am miles away from home living on my own as a result of the circumstances there).
Fast forward – I had been accepted to a college out of state, but my parents failed in their duties to get some financial information to the federal government in on time. As such, I was unable to attend. But by that point, I had become so emotionally invested in getting out of my house that I started seeking alternatives – my buddy here in Utah said he could put me up for a bit while I got a job so here I am.
But all those friends I had been trying to make in school? All the people that promised to stay in touch? They never tried contacting me, and were always “too busy” when I would try to call them or write them. As was par for the course, my only confidant was my long-standing friend Kai. 
Recently, on this fabulous facebook site, old “friends” from Bellingham finally started adding me and asking what had been going on and that sort of thing. I was, of course, a bit skeptical – my contact information had remained the same the entire duration of my exile here. When I would share some of my feelings with them, I would just get judged: I shouldn’t be feeling that way because so and so, or everything was just in my head.
One person in particular sort of bothered me because she wouldn’t leave me alone and wouldn’t take no for an answer. She wanted to be my friend no matter what (which is just kinda weird) but she did the same thing – judged me, misinterpreted things I’d said, other fun stuff. I pointed out that I had tried to get to know her back in Bellingham but she kept telling me she was “too busy.” She tried to guilt trip me by saying that she had been going through her own problems, and if I’d taken the time I could have seen that. (I proved her wrong and she apologized – there was no way I could have “seen” that because we barely knew each other and she hadn’t give me the time of day.)
I’ve since shown her that I can, in fact, be a good friend full of wonderful advice, but I still receive the same judgment and sour bed to lay my feelings in from her. And what I realized, Ms. M, was that I had framed the problem inadequately. I had not been too judgmental in the past – I had just not understood myself sufficiently. Having now gained a lot of understanding and being more in touch with my feelings, I realize that I am very complicated, and frankly intimidating or confusing to others (and not altogether pleasant). I had been sharing my emotions with people incapable of being understanding and receptive towards them, which is bad for both parties.
From my limited conversations with you, you seem to be very intelligent. I get the sense that you could probably see where I’m coming from. I don’t mean to be depressing and I don’t mean to be moody or sour or anything like that. But if somebody asks me how I am feeling – and because honesty is a virtue that matters to me – I answer honestly. I don’t like to delude myself, and I feel more comfortable (and sane!) in a sadness which is real than a happiness that is illusory and fleeting.
I hope that I haven’t told you more than you were looking for, and apologize for any discomfort I may have caused. But that is the essence of what I realized. I am not alone due to failures from within – granted, I have my flaws that do need ironing out at some point – but rather as a conscious response to failings from without. I just plain do not feel comfortable or “right” having friends that I can’t trust with my feelings – which is why I have two friends and keep everyone else at arm’s length. It’s… different, I know, but that’s just the way I am. 

Dead Men Tell No Tales: Epic Catastrophe VI: Fed Up

What is Dead Men Tell No Tales? It is a selection of (hitherto) undisclosed, private ruminations and epiphanies. Most take the form of (slightly) edited letters to unnamed recipients, but some have been scavenged from the depths of private journals recently rediscovered. Over the next little while (however long it takes – days, weeks, months, years?) I’ll be posting them in episodic fashion for the reading pleasure of my nonexistent audience.

In Epic Catastrophe, our young author makes a series of unfortunate miscalculations and mistakes with one KL. Setting The Tone is aptly named, as helping KL with her relationships will become something of a theme for our relations.
KL,
I think there is some kind of misunderstanding going on here. You seem to be assuming that I am in need of you – in one capacity or another. Maybe you think I’m just going through a phase, maybe you think I’ll “come out of it,” but it seems to me that you don’t get it. This isn’t a phase – the world disappoints me. I refuse to compromise myself or the things that matter to me to have more “friends” or to partake in some illusory “happiness.” 
I said that I am trying not to be unpleasant – that is subtly but importantly different from trying to be pleasant. One is trying to be neutral, the other is trying to be positive. Yet you thanked me for trying to be pleasant. You say you are not trying to make judgments yet you phrase things sloppily – as you did with your views about the nature of reality (which while basically correct, was sloppily stated and could be interpreted as condescending). Worse still, you write this behavior off as just being a messy person who makes mistakes. 
Everyone makes mistakes. Life is not about patience. Life is about making mistakes, and most importantly, how you rectify those mistakes that you have made. Stated another way: It is about learning through trial and error, with the intent to make yourself a better person. Now, at least you realize you are making mistakes – most people don’t even come that far – but you’re not doing anything about it, and that’s no good either. Apologies never mean much until they are backed up with actions. 
I do not doubt that you are there and that you care, just as much as I don’t doubt that my mother is there and that she too cares. Being there and caring does not necessitate a desire on my part to communicate, however. I do not mean to draw a comparison between you and my mother, but I do mean to illustrate that persistence does not mean too much to me. (I am not a high school, and you do not get a diploma for attending for four years.) It means enough that I will at least tell you what you are doing wrong, and give you a chance to prove yourself. Again, I’m not trying to be an arrogant asshole – just trying to tell you how it is. There are plenty of people I don’t even tell this much to, because I don’t like them enough or because I don’t think they’d take it the right way. 
In a similar vein, good intentions tend not to mean much to me. I do not judge you as harshly if you have good intentions, but at the same time, good intentions lacking good deeds will not grant you any favors from me. Good intentions created the atomic bomb, started the Crusades, brought about the Holocaust, and a host of other terrible things. Fuck, I’d go as far as to argue that everyone is good intentioned in their own mind. 
There is little trust or intimacy between us because thus far, you have shown yourself to be incapable of understanding my feelings. It is not so much because I am afraid of being hurt again. When I was younger, less in touch with myself, and had done less reflection, I’d be hurt when people responded awkwardly to my feelings. This was simply a result of my carelessness – I shared my feelings with people incapable of understanding and appreciating them. I would not be hurt sharing my feelings with you – there would just be little point in the activity, because I don’t think you could be receptive to them in a way that would be conducive to true intimacy or understanding. 
It would also be painful for me to be in a constant state of waiting and hoping that the person I was talking to – who was somewhat flawed but seemed to have a good foundation – would suddenly become worthy of my feelings. I would feel “betrayed” for investing so much time into that person without ever seeing a return. But again, that was just an error on my part. I was not being fair. (See? I make mistakes too. Me telling you all this is my attempt at doing things in a better way. There can be two outcomes from this email – either you agree with it and try to improve yourself, or you think I’m a cocksure asshole and never talk to me again. Either outcome is acceptable for me, so I have nothing to lose.) 
Take it all with a grain of salt. Believe in whatever you want to believe. I would hope that the core tenets of my world view – logic, rationality, honesty, integrity, self-improvement – would be cogent in and of themselves. But no one is forcing you to listen to me or to adopt my metaphysics. Like you tried to say, there are no absolute or objective truths. Rather, if there are, they are impossible to prove as such. In that case, one must pick a philosophy to live by which makes the most sense to them – mine is based on the sensory experience of what can only be the real world. Sure, we could all be living in the Matrix, but there’s no evidence to suggest such a thing (and besides, even if we were, such knowledge seems irrelevant to everyday living, so who gives a fuck?). You can choose to live under a metaphysic that provides you illusory happiness, but that is not my cup of tea, and should you adopt such a standpoint, you could likely expect to hear a lot less of my mind. 

Dead Men Tell No Tales: Epic Catastrophe V: Setting the Tone

What is Dead Men Tell No Tales? It is a selection of (hitherto) undisclosed, private ruminations and epiphanies. Most take the form of (slightly) edited letters to unnamed recipients, but some have been scavenged from the depths of private journals recently rediscovered. Over the next little while (however long it takes – days, weeks, months, years?) I’ll be posting them in episodic fashion for the reading pleasure of my nonexistent audience.

In Epic Catastrophe, our young author makes a series of unfortunate miscalculations and mistakes with one KL. Setting The Tone is aptly named, as helping KL with her relationships will become something of a theme for our relations.
[In response to an email where she tries to cheer me up with mundane details about her daily business and a crush with G.:]
I am completely not busy. I may be working for a few hours on Sunday. Otherwise, I’m sleeping and doing nothing.
Having confidence in oneself is a tricky matter. You accuse(d) me of lacking confidence in myself, but that is something I have in spades. The desire to be around people is not. I am confident that if all I wanted was company, I could be charming enough to have many ‘friends.’ It’s not a matter of believing anything about myself. It’s all a matter of desire. At times, I think I desire company – but when it comes time to seize the opportunity, I’m usually a callous, taciturn asshole. I shy away from contact. It’s all so much bullshit, and I just plain tire of people. 
I stopped paying attention to crushes, for the most part, after the upteenth one failed. It has almost always, in every situation of my life (not just crushes) proved better to keep my feelings to myself – even when people ask me what they are. I have had plenty of crushes that match your crush for Garrett. I bet you have had some before that are similar. This is a time when Kierkegaard comes in handy: “I see it all perfectly; there are two possible situations – one can either do this or that. My honest opinion and my friendly advice is this: do it or do not do it – you will regret both.”
Homework makes you feel worthy and happy? I mostly just wanted to shoot myself when doing homework.
[She responds, says she is feeling melancholy, and so I feel a bit guilty:]
My honest opinion and friendly advice is this – you’re better off simply telling G how you feel and going from there. You can either waste months or years agonizing over your feelings for him while you continue to wonder if they are reciprocated, or you can get it over with shortly – either he’ll like you back and everything’s gravy, or he won’t and it’ll suck. But in the long run, it’s much better off that way – a friendship built upon secret crushes is always messy and overhaul you’ll have less anxiety and worry and other negative feelings. I prefer to build friendships on a foundation of honesty, and if you get your feelings out there at least you two can discuss it and decide how best to move forward. 
There. That was me being uncharacteristically helpful, because you said you were melancholy. Although I don’t know if the advice will cheer you up much.
I don’t know what I’m looking for, and lives are cheap when there are 6 billion of them. 
[She replies that – shocker – my advice worked. I respond:]
Many people make the false assumption that because I am alone and aloof and an asshole, I do not know how to connect with others.
That is simply not the case.
Likewise, they assume me unlearned in the art of attraction. Again, that is not the case. I am capable of offering wise and practical advice on any number of endeavors. Because I choose to remain alone doesn’t mean I can’t offer good advice. 
What happens when you don’t have anyone you love? How precious is life, then? And what happens when all of the people that society leads you to believe SHOULD love you, don’t? 
But yes, you can’t recover someone you lost to death. Though death might be easier to cope with than losing someone for mysterious reasons – you know, not being able to talk to your (former) best friend even though they live in the same town and have the same phone number (but won’t answer or return your calls). At least loneliness borne of death is LOGICAL. 
My problem is not that I don’t know how to get what I want. My problem is that I don’t know what I want. I can’t remember how long it’s been since I tossed suicide around in my head, but from a very early age (probably earlier than most people should be making such decisions) I resolved not to take my own life – if only because it was “quitting,” and I didn’t want to be a “quitter.” And yes, that is the phraseology of a pre-teen for you. 
What is there to want in a world so ugly, so full of hate and betrayal and greed and selfishness? There is only want for the end.
By the way, I’m trying to be pleasant (more accurately, but less grammatically acceptable, I’m trying to not be unpleasant) but, like I said, I warned ya’. There was a period there, where I was interested in getting to know people and being friends with people. Now I am back to business as usual, and generally prefer to be by myself. I’m not telling you this so that you’ll quit, necessarily, but just so you’ll understand where I’m coming from. There are still times where I like to converse, every now and again – it just so happens that I rarely am actually able to CONVERSE at those times. 
And not to sound snobby or arrogant, but I generally think that people have more to get out of a relationship with me than I have to get out of one with them. A long time ago, I got sick and fucking tired of being used, and that’s part of the reason I’m such a huge asshole today. I get really pissed when I realize that people have, once again, basically been using me. (Recent example: LW.) Clearly, right now, it might not seem that way – because I’m being a moody dick and not trying to appear attractive. Those feelings of mine are honest – but can you imagine me NOT that way? I’d actually be pretty pleasant to know, and it’s not very difficult for me to flip the switch and keep the baggage in tow – I do it all the time. 
This is why I virtually have only one friend right now. He is probably more intelligent than me, but at any rate, we view each other somewhat as equals and look to each other whenever we need perspective. We can be open and honest and without fear of judgment from the other person and we can talk about ANYTHING. Other relationships lose their appeal to me when people start making judgments when they have no fucking clue what they’re talking about, or when they start offering advice when they have no fucking clue of what they are talking about, or when their perspective on the world is built upon illusions. 
As I said, I am not alone and miserable due to some kind of failing from within – granted, I have a few things I could work on with myself – but rather because it is a response to failings from without. Do not misinterpret this as me blaming my “woe” on outside conditions either – this is a choice I consciously make on a nearly daily basis. I make this decision any time I notice a cute girl glancing my way, any time you reach out, any time my brother asks me how things are and I hesitate, and so on. I *prefer* isolation to any kind of cheap imitation of intimacy. I *prefer* sorrow to any kind of sham of happiness. I *prefer* that which is honest, true, and *real.* 

Dead Men Tell No Tales: Epic Catastrophe IV: Are You Serious

What is Dead Men Tell No Tales? It is a selection of (hitherto) undisclosed, private ruminations and epiphanies. Most take the form of (slightly) edited letters to unnamed recipients, but some have been scavenged from the depths of private journals recently rediscovered. Over the next little while (however long it takes – days, weeks, months, years?) I’ll be posting them in episodic fashion for the reading pleasure of my nonexistent audience.

In Epic Catastrophe, our young author makes a series of unfortunate miscalculations and mistakes with one KL. Are You Serious continues the saga.
[In response the the letter at the end of our last episode, KL wrote, among other things:]
“For one thing, I think you overanalyze everything I say. In fact, I think you overanalyze anything even YOU say. I dont choose my words as carefully as you. I usually mean what I say, but sometimes I mess up. It really isnt such a sudden change on my end. Well, perhaps it is.”
[Ugh. I respond:]
I don’t see how one can over-analyze what oneself has said; perhaps it can be said I look too deeply into your own words, but as for looking too deeply into my own? That is not the case. I might be accused, instead, of not being perfectly forthcoming – I don’t reveal everything about myself all at once – but everything I say or write is honest, exposing facets of myself I feel comfortable doing at that given time. 
Do not feel sorry that you could not “be there for me,” because that sort of support was not what I was looking for… necessarily. If anything, I just wanted some kind of friendship (albeit my definition of friendship tends to exceed most others’), and having been seemingly rebuked, I stopped trying. I learned a long time ago that most people are afraid to share their honest feelings with me – whether it be that they have other problems going on, or that they just don’t like me – and if that is the case, I tend to just give up. I prefer to build relationships on some kind of foundation of trust and honesty, and I am not so stupid as to think that people can be too busy to make time to talk every now and again. I am the opposite of you in this respect – where you seem (now) to not give up, to insist on “being there,” I prefer to simply fade away. 
I am human also. I make mistakes also. I hurt people also. I try and often fail to fix them. I find that the pain I inflict on others is disproportionate and unfair, and having realized as much, I prefer to keep to myself rather than share my wounds with those that don’t deserve the burden. There are things I must do – myself – before I can be ready to really share myself again with another person. But for right now, I prefer to exist as I am and as I have. The demons I carry are many and powerful, and would require a significant amount of time to confront. This is time I do not have, so I do not bring my past into the foreground of my thought very often. There is hatred, sorrow, despair, loneliness, apathy, greed, lust, and all manner of darkness inside me. They blot out the positive aspects. 
People are emotional beings – it’s just that most people do not realize or properly acknowledge this fact. Hell, half of the population (male gender) are taught to ostracize their emotions in order to succeed in the world. That you realize this is commendable, and that you attempt remain true to such instincts is courageous and commendable. I do not act on my emotions, but I retain a…fleeting…connection with them. 
I went through a period where I pushed others away. It was a long time ago. I recovered some ground. Now, rather than push people away, I simply walk away from them. Most I know need little more than for me to stop talking to them and they give up. If I make myself slightly more difficult to reach – one can only call me, or email me – then I reduce the amount of conversing I do drastically. It is a curious thing indeed that such instantaneous communication has, in the modern age, already become archaic and cumbersome. People would rather use Facebook or Myspace or instant messengers. In the old days, you were lucky to receive a letter within a few week’s time. Sometimes I long for such simplicity – we might all be better off for it. 
I have just never understood the motivations of others, and my largest curiosity is why you would go to the trouble to try and be there for me. I have done nothing but attempt to turn you aside; done nothing but be callous, rude, and disagreeable; done nothing but put words in your mouth and tell you what your motivations are; done nothing but criticize your attempts at a generally selfless thing to pursue. I have become so cynical that I do not trust seemingly innocuous attempts at camaraderie and friendship. 
Aside from cynicism, there are two aspects of self that lend towards dissuading intimacy – the aspect of self that desires to fail, to dash the expectations of others and fail colossally where others hoped to see me succeed tremendously. And the aspect of self that wishes to exist entirely apart – entirely alone. The constant heaping of expectations upon my soldiers as a youth led to the former; the constant betrayal of others as a youth led to the latter. 
I apologize for nothing, but my intent is not to make you feel discomfort. This is simply how I am, and I have not even shared very much of myself. These are surface feelings. As I said, I hurt people. But I tire of being goaded into sharing myself and then having to apologize for what is therein – I have given you fair warning and still you persist. I will not apologize, but I can clarify intent.

Dead Men Tell No Tales: Epic Catastrophe III: Going Crazy

What is Dead Men Tell No Tales? It is a selection of (hitherto) undisclosed, private ruminations and epiphanies. Most take the form of (slightly) edited letters to unnamed recipients, but some have been scavenged from the depths of private journals recently rediscovered. Over the next little while (however long it takes – days, weeks, months, years?) I’ll be posting them in episodic fashion for the reading pleasure of my nonexistent audience.

In Epic Catastrophe, our young author makes a series of unfortunate miscalculations and mistakes with one KL. Going Crazy sees our author in one of his darker moods. The entirety of this conversation took place over a period of roughly twenty-four hours.
[In response to an inquiry as to why I got rid of Facebook, how I’m feeling, and a desire for me to trust KL more:]
I got rid of Facebook because I am fucking sick and tired of people I barely know wanting to be my god damn friends. Sick and tired of people saying “OMG where have you been what have you done in the past year” when all of my contact info has been the exact fucking same since I left. Don’t fucking pretend like you cared when you didn’t: if you assholes had wanted to stay in touch, it was real easy to. 
I’m two steps away from rolling over and dying. 
I don’t know, where we?
Why do you want me to trust you anyway? Why does it matter? All that would get you is more pain. I have nothing good to share with anyone. Nobody likes me for me, they like me for the mask I’ve created to interface better with the world. JJ Durden is not humorous or caring. JJ Durden is not intelligent or loyal. JJ Durden is not honorable and integrable. JJ Durden is not honest. 
JJ Durden is a scared little boy who doesn’t have any fucking idea why the world is such a terrible god damn place. He just wants his mommy to love him but she won’t; he just wants his daddy to be around but he isn’t; he just wants his brother to stop drinking but he won’t; he just wants his sister to fix her shit but she won’t; he just wants to make a friend but he can’t. 
I am not Me, and Me isn’t around to give a fuck. Make sense?
Me is stuck in 1999; I just want to die.
I share Me with people and get fucking judged and told that My problems aren’t real. My feelings aren’t fucking real. Which just makes I more prone to be a fucking asshole who won’t talk about Me with anyone. 
I hate. I hate I hate I hate I hate I hate. 
Me loves.
Creep you out yet?
[In response to this rather honest account of my feelings, I get guilt tripped:]
“You cant make me stop caring by throwing fits and getting mad at me and blaming me for not keeping in contact. Believe it or not, last year actually really sucked for me, but since you’ve never asked, you wouldnt know. Maybe I couldn’t be a friend to you then, when my life was being fucked over, but at least I’m TRYING now.”
[Obvious that I can’t express my true feelings, I kick over into elementary analysis:]
I’m just confused. Why the sudden change?
There was a time when I wanted to talk to you, a lot and often. Yet you showed little interest, were hard to get a hold of (despite the fact we lived in the same town, had the same classes) and generally stymied such efforts. It is not the first time that such things have happened to me; it will not be the last time. 
Now, after being a year removed from Bellingham (and for the most part, correspondence with you) and on the eve of my departure for the Marines, you want to chat? Judging from your various messages, I sense two things – one, you feel guilty for something (don’t know what) and two, you have misinterpreted things I have said. 
When I said I was angry, both of these problems manifest – you take that to mean that I am angry at YOU, which is both a misinterpretation of what was said (I left my the target and source of my anger purposefully vague – I am not careless with words) and some evidence of your carrying guilt (why else would you immediately jump to the conclusion that I must be angry with you, and go to great lengths to mentally prepare yourself for the burden of my anger?). 
And other mysteries – you would say you love me, if I didn’t take it the wrong way? What way should I take it, then? 
You claim that you had difficulty staying in touch because “life was fucking you over,” yet this never came up in any of my attempted conversations with you. At best, I was told you were “busy.” Am I supposed to magically know – from text based communication, no less – that you were in pain, and looking for comfort? It was not a “fit” that I threw, and it was not designed to push you away. I did not get mad at you and when did I blame you for anything? This is what I meant when I said that “I share Me with people and get fucking judged and told that My problems aren’t real. My feelings aren’t fucking real. Which just makes I more prone to be a fucking asshole who won’t talk about Me with anyone.” 
Me = the true self, I = the layer on top that is not necessarily the true self… a distorted window, hardened to protect Me.
And again, the misinterpretations… I do not so much try to push people away as I try to make them understand. When they can not understand, I can’t sustain the focus and energy necessary for meaningful communication – for such things require that I reflect upon myself, which is a task that I do not like to perform. When that happens, I recede into my apathetic shell, and my taciturn nature takes over. Such simple things you tripped over – taking the universal “you” I used in my rant as a personal one…more evidence of some kind of guilt? But from where? 
I do not trust the motives of others, because I have often been betrayed in the past – what some deem small or trivial matters much to me, and for that reason alone I avoid entanglements. Perhaps I have unrealistic expectations for how relationships should be forged, but I am happier living the way I have. A loneliness bred of having no one near you is far easier to cope with than the shadow of isolation one drowns in when surrounded by friends they can’t trust. One is simple, pure, and honest – it makes sense; the other is complicated, painful, draining and confusing. 
So, to get back on topic: why the sudden reversal in attitude? Whereas before you did not seem too concerned to stay in touch (my email address was the same until about a week ago, my phone number has remained unchanged, and I know I gave you these things before leaving…then you try to guilt me by implying that I had not been thoughtful enough to notice your problems, that I am trying to push you away, that I am throwing fits and getting mad at you…), you suddenly stay up late and worry about me until I contact you? 
What’s going on? Something must have happened or you must have come to some conclusions that have changed the way you view me and your relationship with me. So… do you want to talk about it? Call me or write me – I’d kinda prefer a call, if only to wake me up. I have a terrible habit of sleeping in until the evening on my days off. 
[No such call came.]