Operation KNITTING – 2:01 PM. Reset, Day Zero

​Okay, so I’d still call it progress.

First off, thanks to my friend DiMono for the new, official name for this little experiment, in full “Operation Kick Negativity In The Testicles & Instigate New Gladness​.” I thought it was quite clever and so I’m using it. 

While I’m thanking, I should mention that the idea for this experiment was very loosely based on something from a blog called “Dr. Nerdlove” as regards boosting self-confidence for young men who have trouble talking to women. The details and context are different but the rough structure is the same, so I assume that is where my brain got at least part of the idea for how I’m going about this remapping project. 

Anyway, as I mentioned my life situation is going to prevent me from blowing off all negativity, so I’m focusing on removing avoidable stressors (like politics) and in keeping my reactions to everyday things normal (as opposed to flying off the handle when Steam doesn’t work). So today I had made a point of not looking at politics and was off to the gym in the beautiful Austin, Texas sun (my shoulders are very crispy now, let me tell you!) and things were going well.

I am a fast walker. I try to get where I’m going quickly, just because. Obviously I have no time obligations anymore when I don’t have an interview, but it’s just a long habit. It’s also good for cardio. 

So a few blocks before the gym these three women walk out of a store right as I pass it and begin walking in just such a way as to take up almost the whole sidewalk. And these three were very much not fast walkers. And of course who could blame them? It was a beautiful, sunny day! I was in the wrong for rushing rather than taking the time to saunter about outside in the lovely weather. All the same, I tried to pass them as politely as possible, but no matter where I moved the sidelong rhythm of their walk shifted at least one of them right in front of me.

Now before you get all aghast at me, I didn’t say anything. I eventually made my way past them but by the time I did I was furious. And even though I didn’t act on it, and nobody would know if I just kept it quiet, this is here to keep me accountable: I was inordinately mad at something I shouldn’t have been even a little angry at. So I whipped out my phone when they were out of earshot, opened Snapchat and told my friends on there the following:

“2:01 PM. Reset, Day Zero.”

Because emotions exist in my brain, I have to be honest with myself when I feel them. And if I allow myself to indulge in one of the emotions I’m trying to step away from – especially when they have no justifiable cause like my flash of anger at these women for doing nothing more unreasonable than taking their time on a summer day (for me this is basically summer) – I would be cheating nobody but myself if I allowed today to remain Day One and made tomorrow Day Two. So I reset, kept at it as best I can for the rest of the day (I had a few other stumbles but nothing too terrible and most justified well enough by the situation that only a few of them would result in a full reset) and tomorrow the sun rises on Day One take three. 

As far as nice things today went, I have a few to list. I’ll be doing that, as well as speaking about them out loud, to force these nice things through as many passages of my brain as possible. I’ll try to get at least five a day, eventually ramping it up to ten. And I’ll do it last or close to last, so it’s the last thing I think about for my daily little progress reports:

1. Oh my God, the weather these last few days. Sunny and upper 70s to low 80s Fahrenheit. It’s inching closer and closer to my ideal weather (sunny and 90s-100s) and I remind myself that this is, in large part, why I moved here. To escape the cold of New England in a place that’s always – at least by my standards – warm.

2. I learned how to spell Fahrenheit. My fingers instinctively spell it F-A-R-BACKSPACE-H-R-E-N-H-E-I-T but even with the extra two buttons I can spell it! I still prefer it to Celsius but damn is the latter easier to spell!

3. The pool in my complex has been cleaned out at last! I love to swim, and they couldn’t have timed it better! I’m sure, especially while I’m still job hunting, I’ll make heavy use of it. Today I didn’t because I was busy, but busy is good.

4. I have yet another job interview tomorrow. 9AM in South Austin, and WOW did that come quickly! I applied I believe today or yesterday, they called to set up the interview today and missed me, I called back and they asked if I was available for an interview tomorrow morning. So I’m excited. I am making myself feel excited. The last few interviews I deliberately stifled that in order to “not get my hopes up” and stave off disappointment. Obviously that hasn’t worked out so well, has it? So I’m forcing myself to get pumped, to feel confident. To… believe that I really can get through this. To hope, something I have never done before.

5. Creativity has spiked today. Not only did I do book edits, I also edited tomorrow’s video, which I’ll upload before I go off for the interview. So that’s even more than I meant to do. Sliding back into it like a glove. 

I feel very interesting today. I honestly have a weird headache, not like my usual kind. It’s more like the kind of dull throb when you work out muscles you don’t normally train. Which I take as encouragement that I am on the right track, and that this is something I should keep doing. See you tomorrow for Day One again!

Operation KNITTING – 2:01 PM. Reset, Day Zero

Positivity Mapping (Tentative Name) Experiment Night Zero and Morning One

​Wow that didn’t take long. I already may have to add “never try Steam or PC games again” to the list of ways to get rid of negativity, but I’ll get to that in sequence, either way this i the first of two “day 1” attempts.

So let’s start with night zero, last night when I decided to do this.

Apparently the article doesn’t work anymore (which will lead to something else), but the most important part relative to this is that the more two synapses fire together the shorter the “cleft” between them becomes, which means it becomes easier for them to link together. So the synapses your brain uses to create negative emotions more readily fire off, making it easier to reach more intense levels of those emotions and even, as often happens to me nowadays, have random flashes of those emotions even without the sort of stimuli that cause them (as in, random flashes of anger and hate even when I’m just walking around or even doing things I enjoy). However it does work with positive emotions as well, so those clefts can be closed. There are two caveats: The first is that because of how we evolved human brains react more strongly to things like fear and anger as a survival tool from when we had to worry about lions and stuff.

This appears to have spiked, or reached some kind of threshold, for me recently. Between the Super Tuesday results and my own continuing unemployment I’ve spent the last few days in an unusually violent whirlwind of fear, anger and depression and my reactions to positive things feel dulled.

So basically, I think I might have broken my brain and I may have a solution to fix it. I have a few steps and substeps, so here you go:


Use it or lose it, am I right? I want to let the synapses that shoot off my negative emotions atrophy as best I can, and the chemical trails shortening the clefts between them to degrade so that they don’t just fire themselves off like a kid who just discovered forest porn. While there are always going to be negative stimuli in life, some of it I can choose to avoid and simply haven’t because I prioritized it over my own mental well-being. So far I have one “main” way to do this but there’s probably a few more. I’ve already shed the toxic people that I met in high school and college that some folks tend to keep around “because you knew them.” I obviously can’t just ignore my unemployment so I’ll still need to deal with that, but my main way to reduce negativity is to cut myself off from politics completely.

And I do mean completely. Until I fix myself all I am going to do is “vote whoever is against Trump.” I know there are other issues and such to be aware of, but I still just need to take a step back and ignore that just to keep my own sanity intact. So I’ve muted political pages on Facebook, whether I agree with them or not (sorry, The Other 98%) and unfollowed Edward Snowden, as well as muted retweets from some people as I see them when I respect their non-political work but they, like me, tend towards political retweets (Sorry, Scalzi and Kowal). “Stop Trump” is now my only political opinion. THE END DONE STOP TRYING TO PUT MORE WORDS HERE BRAIN.

I also have another pet peeve, this one might be avoidable in some cases but not in others, but I get inordinately mad when tech doesn’t work the way it’s supposed to. The reason today is the first of two “Day Ones” is because I lost my shit this morning when I bought KotOR II on Steam in order to play the restored version. Sadly, I have only once successfully got a PC game to work and have never got Steam to work. So it’s broken. If I can fix it by tonight, then great. If not, I’ll get it refunded, delete my Steam tag and the application and not bother trying to play PC games again because so far it’s fit the stereotype of PC game’s usability 100%. SEE BRAIN YOU’RE DOING IT AGAIN JUST LEAVE IT LIE.

Those, especially the first, are some of the main avoidable stressors in my life. So I’ve cut them out. Hopefully now the only major stressor will be the job hunt, and I can focus on just fixing that problem.


So reducing my brain’s eagerness to jump into the negatives is one thing, and would help. But I don’t want to just do that. I also want to reduce the clefts between the synapses that fire off for positive emotions. So I need to do things in my life to remind myself that I’m a human being, not just an automaton who presses the “apply for job” button again and again.

I’ve sort of had a “Frodo on the Mountain” moment in the last few days, actually when I saw a friend’s blog post on another site asking what makes people happy. I honestly couldn’t call a word to mind that just immediately associated with being happy. So I’ve forced myself to find things after some soul-searching. Because if there’s one thing I’ve realized from this it’s that, with ENORMOUS caveats for actual conditions like clinical Depression or other mental illnesses, being positive and negative are “skills,” or at least are built the same way. And like any other skill, they’re earned.

1. Get back to creativity: I haven’t done much of anything creative in the last while. I’ve been distracted, because of the stressors I mentioned above. Since I’m cutting one out entirely, I’ll be getting back to this dick-first. (Wait, what?). I’m starting with editing my NaNoWriMo book. Editing is quicker and easier for me than raw creation, especially when I’m in a compromised emotional state. So I’ll take my book, edit through it and then start something new when I’ve done that “mental warm-up.”

2. Read more: When I was working, I had no time to read, or so I claimed. I love reading and books, but I’ve let them sit by the wayside for too long. So I’m going to grab a few old favorites, old books I can slip into like nice, well-worn socks, and get back into the groove of reading. I’ll start with one of my favorite books of all time, Frans Bengtsson’s The Long Ships. 500 pages of viking adventure bliss, where nearly every page is a source of a smile ranging from wry bemusement to hilarity to joy.

3. Play more games: Started this, but I need to continue it. Whether or not I can somehow succeed in – HMM. Whether or not I can get assistance in the PC version of KotORII, it’s my next game on the list. I have the xbox version already, and as much as I would like to play the game the way Obsidian intended I will play the reduced vanilla game if I have to, it’s still one of my favorite installments to the Star Wars mythos ever.

So far that’s my preliminary assessment of what I need to do. If you have any other thoughts for ways I can turn my brain around to a more healthy direction, feel free to comment with suggestions – even if I don’t or can’t follow through on them I’d be willing to at least listen.

Positivity Mapping (Tentative Name) Experiment Night Zero and Morning One