Wednesday, 31 December 2014

To Be Suffused With The Negativity Of Existence

About a month ago I published a short story on my Scribd account [1] involving a romantic/love story. As I mentioned in the blog post related to it [2] I basically used my own personality and doubts as the template for the main character. The focus on negativity, on degrading oneself in comparison with others and always finding blame with oneself regardless of the situation. I like to think of myself as an optimist, but below a thin layer of cheerful optimism looms the darkest, most negative thoughts one could imagine.

Through compliments I have been told that I am smart, intelligent, well-educated, pretty, beautiful, polite and so on and on. Yet against this darkest of dark everything rings hollow and false, even if I know these things to be (at least partially) true. Considering the projects I work on, the quality of my writings, my vocabulary and ease with which I make new concepts and skills my own, I must be at least reasonably intelligent. As for my physical qualities, that's too subjective and is to me more dependent on my current mood than on any kind of objective measure.

Two days ago I had convinced myself to break through my negative views on physicians and at least contact my family doctor regarding the monthly pains which had become especially bad after running out of the anti-conception pill. That same day I got an email response from this same doctor to an earlier email I had sent, when she was still on vacation. She invited me to come over for an appointment the next day. To me this felt like a minor victory already as I had assumed that she'd want to have nothing to do with me any more after suffering the humiliation at the hospital earlier this year.

During yesterday's appointment my doctor checked me over with an ultrasound scan, making sure she couldn't see anything out of the ordinary, especially after I had mentioned the possibility of endometriosis [3] to her as an explanation for the widespread, long-lasting symptoms. While she was able to give me a clean bill of health, she told me to contact my gynaecologist about it for further options in terms of examinations and the like.

Negativity aplenty. While during the about hour-long appointment with my doctor she was able to defuse my worries and concerns, prescribing me refills for all of my medication including the pill, the thought of re-establishing contact with my gynaecologist looms up like a massive obstacle of utter negativity.

Last time I had an appointment with my gynaecologist it was before the MRI scan earlier this year with the disastrous and humiliating outcome [4] in which the physician - after conversing with a Dutch colleague - decided to side with the Dutch version of MRI interpretations and deny that I have any female genitals. To face my gynaecologist after this is incredibly hard. Will he think that I'm a liar? Maybe delusional as the Dutch physicians and psychologists have maintained for the past years?

If it's really endometriosis there's really little which can be done about it anyway, beyond hormone therapy which consists mainly out of taking the anti-conception pill as I'm already doing. There's no cure, just treatment to reduce the symptoms and manage a life filled with monthly pain. There's no real point in visiting a gynaecologist in that case. Same with that whole humiliating struggle between Dutch and German physicians on whether I do or do not have female genitals. There won't ever be a conclusion on that no matter where I go or who I talk to.

The thing about negativity is really that it's hard to define where the negativity starts and the pragmatism begins. To a less experienced person pragmatism is easily mistaken for negativity as they lack the proper frame of reference to judge the issue from. I have sadly the benefit of over a decade of first-hand experiences with trying to find medical help for this intersex body of mine and based upon that in the first place physicians simply aren't interested in rare cases like mine and second they couldn't care less about the person behind the patient, let alone their mental agony.

When I describe the negative way the main character in the referenced short story thinks about herself, it's pretty much exactly how I feel and think. When I see other, pretty women, I can't help but feel pain and maybe somewhat jealous of them and their physical features while feeling clumsy, big and ugly myself. More like a freak of nature than anything 'normal'. Socially I feel awkward, just like this character, preferring to escape a situation when things become weird or awkward than to stick around.

The one positive thing my family doctor did accomplish yesterday together with the friends I hung out with at the hackerspace last night was to fix the negative feelings towards Germany in general, leading to me seriously considering leaving here. I really wouldn't mind staying here for a while longer, I think. All depends on getting a new job early next year, preferably still in Karlsruhe, and finding a better place to live in than my current noise- and trigger-filled apartment.

I'm a firm believer that to think positive one has to surround oneself with positivity, just like being surrounded by negativity as I have been for the past decade suffuses a person with the darkest thoughts and doubts like oil sticks to a bird unlucky enough to land on it. In my case it are this medical uncertainty and the related doubts about myself as a person as well as my self-image which cling to me like this choking, toxic oil, draining me of my energy and positivity.

Next year I'll try to keep fighting to change this. To get rid of this clinging pollution. Much like an oil-stricken bird I cannot do this alone, however. My intent for 2015 is thus to keep fighting while hoping that it'll be the first year that I get the help which will allow me to reach that major breakthrough.



Tuesday, 23 December 2014

Those For Whom There's No Real Home

I have never truly felt at home in the Netherlands. As a child it was somewhat okay, as I was sheltered from most of it by my surroundings. Yet as I got older I just got stuck feeling isolated without friends and contacts in the country. Then I began to experience the sheer intolerance and almost aggressively dismissive attitude by both health professionals and politicians. This led to me finding a measure of tolerance and help in Germany which I had hoped for but never suspected existed. Before that I had already tried to escape the Netherlands once, ending up in Canada. Unfortunately that didn't work out.

After that I tried to escape more times, at one point being this close to putting my last savings into a plane ticket to Australia, but deciding at the last moment to not risk it. It wasn't until I got a job offer in Germany last year that I had a clean and easy way out. It's been over a year now since I left the Netherlands and I'm still glad to have left that country behind me for good.

Now that I have to find a new job due to unfortunate circumstances I find myself in the situation where I get a lot of job offers from mostly the UK. After putting my CV on last Sunday I have been emailed by almost a dozen headhunters already, for various positions, most of them involving some kind of C/C++ and embedded activities. This is just what I was looking for, to be honest. It's put my mind wondering about possibly moving to the UK next year, and all the logistics and changes that would bring.

While I wouldn't mind living again in a country where I am more than just fluent in the national language which still has a decent health system (for now) and just some funky power plugs for which I'd have to buy a few metric loads of adapters, it does remind me of how far away the concept of 'home' for me truly is. I feel more like a nomad, to be honest. Just staying in a place for a little while to then pack up and move again. Considering that on average I have moved every year for the past decade or so, plus a few times before that, it's not so surprising.

Although Germany so far is immeasurably more pleasant to live in than the Netherlands and I'm beginning to feel a tiny bit at home - to the point that if I just had a nicer place to live in (less noise/fewer PTSD triggers), I could see myself living here for a number of years - I know that I'd feel probably pretty much the same if I lived in the UK. There's no real place that binds me.

I would love to settle in a nice place, have a great house and transition there from working full-time for someone else to working just for myself. It could happen, but first I'd have to find such a place. I'm not sure where this place would be, this place called 'home'. I should know it when I see it, however.


Sunday, 21 December 2014

Knowing Oneself And One's Mortality


It's one of those heavy words which people try to squirm around using euphemisms and flowery junk philosophy. The fact of the matter is that while some organisms on this Earth are in fact immortal, humans are not among them. This means that from the moment we're born, we live in the knowledge that gradually our body's capacity to function will degrade until eventually systematic organ failure or similar will take out the entire system which composes each of our bodies at which point our existence will cease.

Considering that the average human in Western Europe lives into their 70s, that means that when you approach the age of 40, you have practically lived half of your allotted lifespan already. It's a sobering thought in many ways. When I look at what I have accomplished and lived through during the past three decades, I can see that while I have more experienced in those three decades than many humans ever will, most of that time has been spent on just being confused and uncertain about how to define this body of mine and how to define my 'self'.

As a child I first realized just how fleeting my own existence is because of my mortality. I could see my existence flare up and be extinguished again like a brief, single point of light in this massive universe. It was the accompanying feeling which drove me to reconsider and look at what I really wanted to accomplish in this minute lifespan that I would likely be able to live through. The only thing which made sense to me in light of this overwhelming feeling was to simply learn everything there is to learn about the universe and everything in it.

The fact of the matter is that to every important question involving this universe I can only simply answer with 'I don't know yet'. The way I thus learned to define the point of existence was to first realize that in order to answer something, one must understand the matter the question applies to. One cannot answer the truly important questions in life before knowing and understanding everything there is to know about the universe.

Naturally, this realization led me back to the issue of the so very brief human lifespan. Roughly 70 years, of which at least twenty will be wasted away on account of being a child followed by the stringent requirements and assumptions of society. Assuming one stays in good health until the end of one's life, that leaves maybe fifty years. I lost one entire decade already because I tried to find answers to the questions about my body and self, for which offence I was severely punished. That's forty years, give or take, which are left to me to accomplish the first step in truly beginning to learn about the universe: this being the matter of expanding my natural lifespan, if not accomplish immortality.

Next to this I have to also face that I do not have answered the questions about what this body is exactly, with the conclusion of it being a hermaphroditic body being heavily contested by virtually every single physician and psychologist in the Netherlands. While I would like to know the answer and find closure, if only to stop the constant harassment from physicians and the like, I have to admit that after wasting a decade of my life on the matter, I may have to just look ahead and realize that in probably a few decades I'll either be dead or have shed this biological form for something else, at which point the question of what this body is no longer matters beyond as an unpleasant memory.

Maybe it's better for me to use this loathing I feel towards this body of mine as an incentive to quickly reach the stage where I can abandon it. At any rate I'll not be sorry to slip out of this shell into something without negative connotations. Something which I can actually control instead of it being controlled by others. The core of the issue is that being human and part of human society isn't helping me in any way. I get no support when I want to get answers to these questions about what and who I am, instead I'm brainwashed into believing lies about myself. In other ways I do not fit in either.

I have had people get angry at me for admitting that I'm seeking to become immortal. They condemn it as being 'unnatural' and 'disrupting the natural balance'. Even though I can so clearly see how everything should fit together and explain to myself why it is the right way, I cannot explain it to others. Just another item to add to the bitterness I feel towards humans and humanity in general, I guess. They do not wish to see. They cannot see. They are blind. Only those who realize the questions can seek for the answers and learn to see in order to find them.

I do not care whether people laugh at me, call me crazy, dismiss my thoughts as childish fantasies or prize my 'lively imagination' (meaning to say 'you should grow up already'). I know what I have seen and experienced. Me trying to find answers to what this body is and how to define my body and myself in human terms was an attempt by me to try and fit into human society. Clearly this has failed and I will live as a hermit for as long as I remain a human being. Considering my long-term goals, this can be seen as acceptable.

I would have liked that if I do transcend from a human body into something less frail, that I could look back upon this first stage of my existence as something not so utterly negative and hateful, though. So far humanity has sadly proven to be an utter and complete disappointment in every sense of the word.


Why Ikea Germany Should Get A Customer Service

This year I have placed two orders with the German branch of Ikea via their website in order to furnish my apartment. The first order was the biggest one, of a few thousand Euro, allowing me to just have the basic necessities, such as a bed, a table and something to organize my meagre belongings. The second order was to fill this out some, with a drawer set and storage rack for my office, poster frames and some other small items which I still needed.

With both orders I had opted to pay using 'EC-Karte', i.e. by giving Ikea a one-time permission to withdraw the amount owned from my bank account. The first time this worked without problems, yet the second time something strange occurred. It all started when a short while after the second delivery I got a bill delivered by mail from Ikea for this second order. Naturally this was kinda puzzling, especially because there was no further explanation or details provided with the bill. Upon attempting to contact the service department at Ikea Germany by email, I got an automated response informing me that they were 'very busy' and that it could take a month or more for them to respond.

Worse was that I had also found out that the drawer set and one of the poster frames have been severely damaged during transport, with the former practically destroyed. I didn't even have to open the box for it, as the box had been ripped open and many of the parts inside had been destroyed along with it. I contacted Ikea Germany's service department about this (now about two months ago) and I merely got an automated response saying that (again) they were very busy and that it could take a long time. I should just go to my nearest Ikea location and exchange it there, it said. Not easy to do when you're practically working two full-time jobs, though.

The past months I received a reminder from Ikea about the bill after which I tried to contact their customer service again, again without a response, though this time the auto-respond message said that they'd reply in a few days. Not that this happened, though. This week I got the expected letter from a debt collection agency as apparently that's one 'customer service' thing which does work at Ikea. I sent this agency copies of the delivery sheet and filled-in form which gave Ikea permission to withdraw the amount from my bank account.

Then things got interesting. The debt collector claimed that Ikea had contacted me by phone during which it was agreed by Ikea and me that because the bank info on the form was incorrectly filled in, they'd send me a bill by mail. I responded by expressing severe confusion as I had no recollection of this occurring. I even checked my phone's call history to make sure that I had not received a call on the date they mentioned. My call history for that day was empty, so I wasn't losing my mind after all.

Later that day I got the final plot twist, as the next email from the debt collector confessed that they had interpreted the writing from Ikea improperly and that Ikea had tried to call me, but that the phone number was apparently incorrect. After that they had sent the bill to me. Because at this point it was overwhelmingly clear that I had acted properly and that Ikea had been severely negligent, I got offered to just transfer the original amount for the order to their account so that the case could be closed. I was more than happy to comply with this offer.

Even though I had been on the right side of contract law during this entire (months-long) ordeal, it was still quite harrowing. The accusations made against me by Ikea (directly and indirectly) were most unpleasant, suggesting that I was essentially a thief and contract-breaker. I'm glad that in the end it worked out and that it didn't cost me more than severe frustration and some time on my side. Maybe that this experience will teach Ikea Germany something as well, something about proper procedure to follow when one wishes to change the content of a formal purchase agreement, such as the payment method.

The main problem with Ikea Germany appears to be their absence of any kind of customer service, however. Even with the payment issue now hopefully fully resolved, I am still stuck with two broken products which they still have to replace, especially now that the purchase has been finalized. This will be the next step, though I'm not sure that I'll have any other option but to head to an Ikea myself to exchange it. Considering that I also got a gift card from Ikea for my first purchase which I can only use in a physical store, I'll probably just have to bite that bullet. I'm hoping to hitch a ride with others when they head to an Ikea within the coming time.

File this one under 'I wish there was an Ikea alternative in Germany', I guess.


Saturday, 6 December 2014

Just Killed A Man

The past months I have been dreaming more and more frequently and more intensely during my sleep. Last night's dreams were definitely among the most vivid and unique I can remember, however, and probably for a good reason.

The last dream I had was simple but still quite detailed. In it I was cycling down a path on a nice summer's day. Ahead of me I could see that someone had painted up a sign with 'careful, bee nest' written on it, only it didn't say 'bee' but something else ('beeleyne?') which I nevertheless knew meant just that. Narrowly avoiding the sign and nest which had been formed around the parts of a tree's roots which protruded from the ground, I went on my way. Then suddenly I felt a sting on the right side of my neck and brushed with the thick gloves I had in my left hand at what I presumed was a bee.

Not having much luck with the gloves, I reached over with a bare hand and pinched the bee's body between my fingers and pulled, drawing its intestines behind it and ultimately its stinger. Knowing that I still had its toxins inside of me, I pinched around the affected area and squeezed until something came out. It was fluid, though, but a glass or similarly transparent container containing a slightly yellowish transparent fluid which I presumed was the toxin. I showed it to a companion who commented on it.

The first dream I recall from last night was quite different. I was running through this complex, clearing hallway after hallway and making my way through darkened rooms. Meanwhile I was taking out people I knew to be enemies left and right using nothing but some random tools I had picked up on the way. As I used these techniques using regular screwdrivers and the like with lethal effect, I found myself reminiscing the great skill with these techniques of another person, presumably my teacher or some idol.

I don't know why I was there or what my exact goal was, only that I had to make my way somewhere to accomplish something important. Then I found myself in a more enclosed room and heard someone approaching. I had to take out this guy quickly and stealthily. Just hitting and running as I had done up till that point wasn't an option any more. Awaiting the right opportunity I picked a particularly lethal tool from my collected bundle and with the selected screwdriver or similar in my hand I returned to waiting motionlessly.

Surprising the enemy as he entered within my reach, I quickly used the tool in my left hand to stab through the underside of his jaw into what I hoped would be his brain. This was also when I got my first good look at the guy, something which I hadn't had the chance for with the others. He was young, with narrow features and short, blonde hair. As the surprise on his face got replaced by the realization of what was going on, his eyes went wide as he gasped in shock. My only feelings at this point were ones of duty, with in a distant corner of my mind a profound sadness that this person had to die, only because he was in the wrong place at the wrong time. I even felt revulsion as I got to see my handy work up close.

Stabbing a few more times, with each motion evoking choking, sobbing noises from the guy I could see his eyes take on a panicked look until ultimately the light in them vanished as death claimed him. Dropping the body, I moved on with my mission.

From this dream I awoke with my heart pounding in my chest and feeling somewhat sickened. It had all been so perfectly vivid and real and unlike the average dreams this sequence of me killing this person refused to fade upon awakening.

I don't know what either of these dreams mean, if anything. The one involving the bee toxins could be considered a classic one involving the drawing of something unhealthy, i.e. a toxin, from one's body which would represent removing an imaginary toxin from one's mind. The latter is a lot more unclear, as I wasn't killing the representation of anything, or at least I had no such feeling or connection. It wasn't related to rage or losing control, either, as I was perfectly in control and felt nothing even related to anger or rage. Just the sensations of sadness and revulsion. I guess you could say I was acting out the role of a humane assassin, maybe.

In the end it was a very interesting night, filled with some dreams I'm sure I'll be puzzling on for a while.