Who are you really?

What I mean is if you met yourself at seven, are you the same person?  Some of us remember being seven, but I might have trouble even speaking to that little girl, attending a one room school in Portugal.

And some of the things she believed and did I know just ain’t so.  We have some memories (some of them pleasant) in common, and I’d probably break the face of one or two of her enemies, just because they were smug and full of themselves and that annoys me.

Then how about 12? 14? 18?

Hell, my teen years are even more embarrassing than the kid ones.  Or as Terry Pratchett put it “You have to crawl through a lot of twerpitude to be who you are.”

But heck, what about 30?  Ah.  My big L Libertarian years, when I was even active in the past.  Things have… changed, let us say.  Not much.  I just learned the limits of the possible and the real world.  And OMG, if I could go back and hit that kid over the head with what a cesspool traditional publishing is, was, and by design will always be.  Could have saved her a ton of heartache.  Particularly if I could tell her to write anyway and just keep it in the drawer till indie.

On the other hand I wouldn’t have been me.  I’d have written FAR different things, would never learned how much I LOATHE writing “Literary”after “Literary” for four or five books, might never have fallen into the blogsphere as self-therapy and might never have met any of you.

If I live that long, particularly if I succeed at the stuff I’m trying to do now, I’m sure my seventy year old self will shake her head and think I was a crazy kid, trying very hard, but really didn’t have a clue.  And I’m sure some of my core beliefs will be revised or reversed.  Not the ones on the USA thing, likely, but a lot of feelings.

Butterflies are lucky.  They leave their cocoon once.

It’s probably very scary.  Think of it, even their living space isn’t the same.  They go from crawling on things to flying.  The poor dumb beasties probably have no idea what comes next.  Of course, they’re not humans, but I always imagine them emerging and going “WTF are these things on me?  Ahhhhh.  When I flap them I get hurled around!”

We emerge from cocoons all the time.  In fact, if we haven’t in a long time, we’re probably overdue.  Thank heavens, it’s not normally as complete a transformation as for that poor larva/butterfly.  It’s usually one area at a time, but–

We were watching a show the other day where a guy maintained he wasn’t a murderer because it had happened 14 years ago, and all his body had turned over at a micro level in that time.

To an extent, of course, yeah, physically it was true.  But he had killed and remembered killing and as Agatha Christie insisted, it seems to get easier the second, third, fourth time around.

However, sometimes, particularly in a life in which one major process of acculturation and one major process of conforming took place, it’s hard to trace the continuity of personality through the years.

Sure, the basic impulses are the same.  And I don’t think I’ve changed about my kids or my husband (except I swear I love them more every day) but everything else is subject to change, seemingly.

We roll through life as a changing continuum.  Even appearance and food tastes change, and if you could meet yourself from a few years ago, chances are you would say “who is this person?”

Something that always bothered me about a final judgement was that.  Am I to be judged on what I did at two? Three?  But that wasn’t ME.  Otoh it shaped who I am.  And most traditions have either forgiveness or infinite mercy in the mix.  (My only chance is TRULY infinite mercy.)

The one thing that came up yesterday, though, because we were discussing change and how people see it as an unalloyed good, as though change was never for the worse (see, Venezuela! Or for that matter, Iran.  And I’m sure we all have seen that in individuals changing for the worse too.)

Even when it’s for the best, change hurts.  We won’t discuss change forced from above and societies, because there is pain and death and all these eggs are broken and no one has ever made an omelet, so stop screaming “this time will be different.”

But even good change, like for instance the internet, which has made things so much better, is also upending commerce, disrupting our day to day life, upsetting our relationships and therefore “hurting”.  The industrial revolution is the cause of our present prosperity, but it hurt too, by making people change how they lived.

People don’t like to change how they live.  No matter how innocuous.

On the other hand if you don’t change…

This being a group of writers who was discussing this, talk to turned to friends who got stuck at some place or another, either limiting their success, or limiting it so hard they got discouraged and stopped writing/dropped out.

I’m not sure I’m not one of those friends, right now, where I stand.  I just stopped at a “higher” point than others.

Partly because I’ve been sick and I’m now recovering, I’m aware of short cuts that have become habitual to avoid expending energy, and to avoid trying something that scares me, and…  Those don’t help my writing.  So there’s going to be pain in the future, as I chew through the restraints of the cocoon and see if I can emerge.

Then there’s indie o’clock.  I’ve been aware for… 5 years? that not only are people doing much better in indie, the only thing keeping me from doing it, is a mind tooled to traditional.  (Well, that and illness and recovery.)  In other words, the cocoon, that has been familiar.

Well, you know and I know what happens to butterflies — or moths! — that never emerge.  They die.

The last year has felt like a series of kicks to the fundament, the sort of thing that also propelled me into coming out of the political closet.  Like someone or something has been cornering me, blocking all my avenues of escape, forcing me to do what scares me and will hurt.  Forcing me to retool my mind, my affections (no, not the guys or Dan.  Or even the cats) my loyalties, my … cocoon.  Pushing me to grow and change in ways that are going to hurt if for no other reason because they’re new and I don’t know how.

Also, you know, some butterflies emerge damaged. Or emerge just to be gobbled up by the early bird.

Fortunately I think I’m a moth.  Watch out for that owl!

All the same there is no other choice.  Well, there is death, but you know, that’s something I plan to avoid as long as possible, even if only metaphorical.

So I’m gnawing my way out of the cocoon.  In a few years, we’ll see if I’m a butterfly or a moth, or a very brief flash a bird ate.

The only thing I I know is that in five years, I will probably be so different I won’t recognize me now.

Look, there are these things on my shoulders.  And here comes the wind.



179 thoughts on “Cocoon

  1. “What I mean is if you met yourself at seven, are you the same person?”

    One of my favorite quotes seems very applicable:

    “No man can step into the same river twice, for the second time it’s not the same river, and he’s not the same man.” – Heraclitus

    Personally, one of the biggest problems I have is that inside, I do feel like the same person I was at 18. Thirty additional years of life doesn’t seem to have made me any wiser, any more capable, or any more confident.

        1. As Ernest (a character in a J.M. Barrie play) said:
          “I’m not young enough to know everything.”

          Back when I was young, pre-internet, I hadn’t yet acknowledged the truth of that quote, as my handle on several BBSes was Know-It-All.

            1. Number-2-son’s favorite ball cap read “those of you who think you know everything are very annoying to those of us who do.”

    1. I only began to grasp the implications of a G-d outside of Time when I realized, in looking at the Daughtorial Unit, that I saw her not as she was at the moment but as a continuum extending from that first moment after exiting the womb through all the stages up until the present moment … with an increasing number of gaps as she grew older and experienced a life outside my observation.

      Time is an illusion, you are the same “person” you were at seven, at twelve, at thirty, at seventy, because the latest version is an accumulation of prior selves. We shed our cells but remain one entity because we are more than the sum of our parts, there is an animation presence which unifies the succeeding cocoons.

      For you guys, at any rate. Me, I am not sure I am the same person who went to bed last night.

      Although I am able to pick up the current book and take up where that person left off.

      1. “I am not sure I am the same person who went to bed last night.”

        I swear that was one of P.K. Dick’s short stories.

          1. A friend spent some time institutionalized. When he got out he wrote a song called “The Thorazine Shuffle!”

            Alas, I no longer remember the words…

              1. the only time I heard a full Doc Demento show, he played two songs with the same line.
                “I’d rather have a bottle in front of me, than a frontal lobotomy.”

        1. From Chapter Two of Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll:

          “Dear, dear!  How queer everything is today!  And yesterday things went on just as usual.  I wonder if I’ve been changed in the night.  Let me think: was I the same when I got up this morning?  I almost think I can remember feeling a little different.  But if I’m not the same, the next question is, Who in the world am I?  Ah, that’s the great puzzle!”  And she began thinking over all the children she knew, that were of the same age as herself, to see if she could have been changed for any of them.

    2. My brain always seems to me to be pretty much the same no matter how far back I recall (and that is before the age of one), and oddly the same insecurities seem to forever be my bane. Otherwise it feels like my 8 year old self just didn’t have the learning or experience to communicate in quite the same way. My 18 yr old self was maybe less confident, but in some ways far more capable, but weight, balance(a lack thereof), and arthritis have made their changes to my 52.5 yr old body.

    3. Personally, one of the biggest problems I have is that inside, I do feel like the same person I was at 18.

      Same here, except maybe 25. I feel like I’m fooling everyone.

      I have usually attributed that to never having been parent and thus missing a key life step, but I’m not always so sure.

        1. I think a key reason the parent part of me comes into it is I still do a lot of the same things I did at 25, such as go to metal and punk and industrial shows and climb in the pit (and at 52 outlast some 25 year olds thank you very much).

          For some reason I think if I was a parent I wouldn’t still be doing it.

          The reality is I’d probably have been looking forward to the kids being old enough to take and teach how to do it. 🙂

            1. What’s strange about a taste for diners? There’s something special about a good diner, a place with lots of good American fare, a smaller selection of food with international flair, breakfast served all day, and open all hours. A good diner is a welcome respite when traveling, or when intense work or late-night activities have left one craving a good meal you don’t have to cook yourself. There’s something special about stopping in and looking at the menu and choosing between options as diverse as fettucine alfredo, corned beef hash and eggs, a gyro, and a hot open-faced turkey sandwich – and often at very reasonable prices.

              I always try to include at least one diner stop when traveling to the East Coast. Their absence in this area is one of my few complaints about life in Greater Cincinnati. IHOP and Waffle House are but pale substitutes for a real local diner.

                1. Twenty years in Cincinnati now and I’ve not been able to acquire a taste for Cincinnati-style chili. Why, oh why, couldn’t Cincinnati’s Greeks have done like their brethren in much of the rest of the US, and gone for running diners instead? (Ice cream in Cincinnati, OTOH, is amazing!)

              1. I have lovely memories of late breakfast in a diner Gallup, NM, with my father. Dad came out to Albuquerque to see me finish at the AF NCO Academy class, and then to drive back home in the Very Elderly Volvo. The diner was a tiny place, just off of Route 66, and was a renovated diner-car, expanded with an addition to seat more patrons. We sat at the counter, and the guy next to us turned out to be the manager of the local undertaking establishment, and the waitress was a woman who was the exact double of Marilyn Whirlwind, of Northern Exposure — except that she smiled more.
                And the breakfast was awesome.

        1. It’s not the age so much as the environment. 17 in and of itself was not an issue. being surrounded by others at 17 was… non-ideal.

          But then I’m not sure what age I feel anymore. I do have that feeling of “Wow. I’m somehow managing to fool people into believing I’m adult.” some of the time. And sometimes I feel Truly Ancient Indeed (at least what I imagine that feels like, anyway). Real age likely has some effect there as someone younger goes on about $LATEST-CRAZE-SHINY-NEW-IDEA and my take is, “That.. again?”

    4. For my part, I am much more resistant to a sales pitch than I was, two decades ago – after having worked in sales and seen it from the other side.

      1. I’m that way about public opinion polls. And phone salesmen, too. As long as you’re not rude about it, the sooner you tell them no you’re not interested, the sooner they can move on to the next number on the list.

      2. I can’t even claim that much. Sometime during high school I learned something about propaganda techniques and how they were used in Nazi Germany. I’ve had a good BS-meter ever since – for politics, sales pitches, you name it. That’s one big reason why I’m an Odd.

      1. Stupidity usually eliminates itself when it comes close enough to the limit. Kind of like quantum tunneling.

  2. talk to turned to friends who got stuck at some place or another

    When the Daughtorial Unit was young and “acting out” I was wont to console myself by murmuring “It is only a phase, just a stage she is going through.”

    And one day I realized that not only does each succeeding phase seem to take longer, but we knew people who’d never fully passed through some of them.

  3. Question: What would you tell your thirty years younger self:

    Answer: Doesn’t matter. He wouldn’t believe me. 😈

    1. I think I would go back to my ten-year-old self and say: “That Hulk #1? Do NOT use it as fire starter. Treat it gently and put it away carefully.”

    2. I’d have told my 18 year old self to get the 1910 Underwood serviced, and take it to college instead of The Olivetti From Hell. I’d say other things, too, but you gotta start somewhere. 🙂

      I’d also tell my 12 year old self to actually work at the summer typing class.

        1. TOfH was originally my brother’s portable. If (see second note) I had a smooth, consistent touch, it might have been fine, but with my highly uneven touch, it would give me occasional spaces. Since this was before White-Out or correcting tape, it made papers much more of a chore than I wanted.

          Once office and personal computers came out, I managed to get a fairly smooth typing style. It’s a bit of a crapshoot as to which finger hits the “P” key, but it works.

          1. FWIW, the Underwood was sold off when Mom was clearing house, along with all the other accumulated gubbage. (Dad passed away my Freshman year, and she bought a much more suitable house a year later). I was annoyed at losing the beast. OTOH, I wasn’t going to need much typewriting. Not much call for it once the EE classes hit hard. (Might have done a senior paper, don’t really recall.)

            In the mid-80s, I found a similar one at a typewriter shop. Thought a half-hour, and realized that I’d been using computers long enough to not want to go back. Besides, the “CLACK” of typrewriter sounds drives me crazy, now. Screws up my typing something fierce.

            1. I like the clickity-clickity of the DasKeyboard I have. Alas, family members have learned the sound and come to see what is up/ask for chores done when the clickity-clickity stops.

          2. My olivetti was all metal. I typed — my dad said — as though I were breaking stone. Every six months it had to go in to adjust because I’d beat the keys to bending. Eh.
            I still type like that if I’m going on a novel, so that my keyboards suffer greatly.

            1. TOfH was a 1966-ish model. Something was lightweight in the frame, and I would tweak it with a hard hit. The Underwood was built like a tank, but was in serious need of cleaning.

              Mom (who secretaried off and on for years) had a nice typewriter with a wide platten; you could do a sideways letter sheet. Nice machine for a manual.

              There were a couple of Selectrics floating around work around 1980. The two secretaries in our office had switched to Olivetti word processors, so the IBMs were available. OTOH, we were getting some office type software on the minicomputers, so most of the engineering staff ignored the typewriters. HP2648 terminals on an HP3000 mini FTW! (Yes, this was long before the PC-AT and clones hit the market. HP’s first PC came out in 1983.)

    3. Honestly, I’d tell my 19 yo self, “Don’t be such a self-assured a$$hole.” Then again, I think I’m still fighting that battle…

    4. I’d tell my 15 year old self “Look, you’re an aspie. This is what it means for you. This is what you can expect. And by the way, men and women ARE NOT THE SAME and don’t believe any bullshit that they are or anyone that says that.”

      1. Well, I’m an aspie as well but when I was fifteen I was dealing with assholes who were said to be my peers so while at that time I got along OK with adults, I became some-what paranoid as a adult so as an adult I’d wonder “who is this asshole trying to sell me on he’s my older self”. 😈

    5. I would consider going back and telling 24-year-old me not to do something… but on the other hand, the whole thing taught me something critical and potentially deadly about myself.

      And it’s probably better to learn things like that sooner, rather than later, so that you can construct better defenses.

  4. Yup, we’re all going to change as time goes on, that’s one of the constants of the universe. We can but hope that as we all change, the relationships between us continue. Will those relationships also change? Almost undoubtedly. But let us all hope that the changes won’t affect the underlying respect and affection we have for each other.

    1. by and large, unless THEY make an effort to distance or disavow, I keep all my friends.
      In fact losing friends is one of those things I HATE. But sometimes they leave or stop talking to me. It’s worse when I don’t know why.

      1. That happened to me several times; enough that I started wondering WTF?! and my feelings were hurt.

        Much later I realized that the problems, if any, weren’t on my side.

          1. Ditto. In most cases it was significant other. Them as individuals we meshed with interests & activities, then they found their significant other, & drift apart we’d go. A couple have hurt. Most recently someone who we’ve tried to stay in contact with, but just not happening.

            I mean, we aren’t the best, most regular communicators … letters? uhhh, even when they were a “thing”, not so much. Family same thing, but you know, family. No contact with cousins for months or years, a quick, “hey what’s up” works.

            Really mostly have acquaintances, not friends, not really.

            1. I’m guilty of losing friends who are geographically distant. When money was tight, we dropped the Christmas card list, and I never had email addresses beyond family and one friend.

              OTOH, one of the lost friends was hellbound on self destruction, and I a) couldn’t do anything about it, and b) could not handle witnessing the trainwreck, even at a distance. I’d already had a few 11PM phone calls that said friend couldn’t remember making the next morning. Yikes!
              (There’s plenty of mental illness and therapists in my family. Yes, some overlap. I understand therapist burnout, yes I do.)

      2. There have been some folks that seemed to just drop off the RADAR that I wonder about every once in a while, Did this person change online names? Tire of $GROUP? Or… is not alive and the news about the change of state away from ‘alive’ never propagate? If something fatal happens to me, and also $HOUSEMATE… it’s unlikely news of it will propagate unless it was some spectacular event that makes enough news that someone goes, “Hey, I think I know… oh crud!”

  5. I’d go back to my self in grad school and say, “You are making the right decision, you really are.” Sure, I’m not a tenured professor, but I think I’m far happier and better off than I’d be if I’d actually gone tenure-track. (I gave up after 80 applications and one automated response. Never even made the first cut. At that time it was 120 applications to get a job, on average.)

    1. I’d go back & tell me “Those jobs you aren’t getting? Even after interviews. That is a good thing..” Not that I would have listened, but still. Since my (second) career has 4 companies over 35 years that either downsized to one, moved out of area, or totally went away, adding to the list would have been demoralizing, & I would have missed out on other ops.

      The last job I applied for (& got), I normally avoided applying for. An add in the paper, no company name, no way to research; not normally considered a good idea. Just “Entry Level Programmer wanted for local company, 6 month temp to permanent hire.” & local post office box. The “Entry Level” was by that point, irrelevant, because I needed something, no matter my prior 20 year experience. It was no company name, no hint of what they wrote, PO box, …

  6. One of Jack Chalker’s recurring motifs was the degree to which the “person” persisted over time and through multiple changes of body, as well as to what degree our “selves” were the result of hormones active at any given time versus a persisting identity.

    Few of us can ever know those answers … certainly, Chalker never seemed to.

    Thought experiment: If my memories and behaviour algorithms are uploaded to a computer and I then eliminate the meat puppet, have I committed murder? If I am executed in consequence, are not the executioners accomplishing my goal for me?

    1. It’s not a Jack Chalker book until someone has a sex change. The Rings of the Lords series was especially brutal on that front with sex change both ways plus multiple personality reprogramming for one character and still the person persisted.

      He is my go to on “there was never gender variability in science fiction until $CURRENT_YEAR”.

      It is sad that the first two Well of Souls books are forgotten. The rest of the series I can see, but the first pair (well, maybe three) were great.

      1. Oh, thank G-d. For some reason I never got into Chalker. I might have to. I’m not alone!
        Okay, not usually sex change, but weird gender/sex seem to be a thing with me.

        1. Oh, try Well of Souls if you want weird gender/sex/species or Rings of the Lords…the former are better but the latter might be more approachable. Been a while for both.

          1. I would have liked both a lot better with less of the sex-change stuff. I didn’t object to it because it was sex-changing, but because he spent so much time on it without going anywhere. (and, as you noted, it’s in most (all?) of his other books too…)

            “Jeez, Jack, if you had a point, it would have been nice to have unveiled it somewhere along the way…”

            1. Well it could be he was interested in biology vs. personality.

              It could be he was just a big perv.

              I like embracing the power of “and”.

        2. Toward the latter part of the last century Chalker was about the only new author I bothered to seek out. Admittedly I hadn’t yet sampled of Bujold, Card and some of the others making their careers in that era, but Chalker brought that old-time excitement, that question of “What’s he done this time?” I am reluctant to offer comparables (I says as I prepare to do just that) but IIRC Chalker has much similarity to Philip José Farmer, if Farmer could have remembered where his books were going more than halfway through the series.

          I notice that Audible has been acquiring the Well World and River of Dancing Gods series, with the first Well World novel often turning up discounted, so you might try giving Midnight at the Well of Souls a listen. A proper series, the way such things once were, each book is complete within itself, not running out of pages without bothering to finish the story the way certain authors with Double-R middle initials seem prone to doing.

          1. I think (THINK) I tried Well of Souls 26 years ago and was bounced hard. OTOH I had post partum depression, was recovering from pre-eclampsia, and as I found four years later when I looked at the stuff I’d boxed to move to CO, my mind wasn’t working right.
            Okay… actually illustrative of how a mind can go wrong: I had this little one piece baby suit that had riveted snaps. It was cute and soft, and when a snap came off, leaving a hole, I sat there and stared at it, and couldn’t figure out how to repair it.
            HOWEVER I liked it too much to throw away, so I boxed it. Four years later, while expecting Marshall I started unboxing those things, looked at this problem that perplexed me, and went “ooh, boy, I had NO mind.” I then sewed the little hole flat and sewed a snap on top, duh so the onesie did honorable duty for #2 son.
            So… fair to say I wasn’t in my right mind, I think.

      2. I had to look up the name, but I liked Four Lords of the Damned, which also does weird things with identity. I may reread it, now that I think about it. It’s been ages since I’ve read a paperback.

        1. The interface between biology and personality…how much the former shaped the latter, is just one of his things.

          Back in the 80s it kind of creeped me out sometimes TBH.

          Four Lords is the one where the secret agent is looking for the crime lord in the four planets of one system, right?

          1. Yes, the “same” secret agent on the four planets of the “Dimond”. Of course, he was after a different “crime lord” on each planets.

      3. Varley predated Chalker by at least ten years. But as far as I remember all of Varley’s sex changes were voluntary.

        1. I don’t remember that many in Varley and I seem to remember them as contemporaries, mostly late 70s.

          Only Varley I remember well anymore is Titan and Wizard (or was it Demon…I only read the first two, not the third).

          1. I bailed on that series halfway through the second volume…

            Varley’s “Eight Worlds” short stories and novellas were written in the 1970s to the early 1980s, and much better than I remembered them as being. His later stuff is sort of hit and miss, though I did like “Press Enter” and a few others.

      4. Midnight at the Well of Souls holds a firm place on my list of 10 favorite SF novels of all time. The rest of that series varied from competent to “not so much,” and I never even read the last sub-series because I thought he’d beaten the premise to death. But that first one … wow!

        Sex changes, body transformations, species changes, mindwiping, brainwashing — Chalker had a knack for dreaming up terrifying premises and then writing pure nightmare-fuel stories set within them. All of which reached a peak in the Soul Rider series. Those books, especially the last one, put me off Chalker pretty much for good. Today the only books of his that I still have are Midnight and an omnibus of the “Four Lords of the Diamond” quadrilogy.

      5. When I was on Mike Resnick’s mailing list, he waxed nostalgic over the book he wrote with Chalker and David Gerrold: “I handled all the hard stuff, like the nouns and verbs. David did all the adjectives and adverbs. We gave the pronouns to Jack, because he kept changing ’em anyway.”

  7. “So I’m gnawing my way out of the cocoon. In a few years, we’ll see if I’m a butterfly or a moth…”

    Well, if it’s a cocoon, then technically you’re a moth.


            1. That’s because it’s the only one he could filch when my back is turned.

              Herb, give me the carptapult now. I won’t ask twice. Don’t make me send you to your room without books!

              1. Couple days ago Sarah mentioned that she’d been pushing around a cart full of fabric and someone called her a sewist. I’m just speculating that what she was gathering was a moth’s lunch instead.

          1. Occasionally we get Ponderosa moths. IMHO, if HP Lovecraft designed a moth, a Pondo would have been his model. They’re interesting all right.

          2. I dunno about that. But then I’ve still not seen a Luna moth, at least a live one. And that is a bit disappointing. I suppose they’re common somewhere, but if been there it was not at the right time.

      1. But then you can’t listen to Mick Jagger anymore. Don’t you know that a Rolling Stone gathers no moth?

        1. It had been my understanding that there would be no moth on this blog.

          Does this mean Dan is a mothematician?

          Moth we make punth? Yeth, we moth!

      2. Moths lay their wings down flat on the wall. Butterflies stick them up straight out from the wall (next to the other wing in the process).

  8. The whole change is hard thing reminds me of a song I was playing this morning (thanks to a co-worker). The chorus is:

    Life is hard
    Can’t buy happiness no matter what you do
    Can’t get to heaven on roller skates
    Can’t get a taxicab to Timbuktu

    The thing is, sometimes all we have are those roller skates and you have to come out, say “what are on my feet”, and then see if you can find a flat spot to build up some momentum.

    1. Who are you?

      Who, who, who, who?

      Life has taught me that the better question might be: Who do you think you are?

      1. I’ve been listening to Townshend’s Lifehouse Chronicles. I think the song is embedded in my head, right next to “Won’t Get Fooled Again”. Yeaaaahhhh!!!!

  9. I am reminded of two natural things by your post. The first is when the young raptors take flight for the first time. It apparently terrifies them, since the entire time they’re screaming “eep eep eep eep eep!” It’s kind of funny. The other thing is the local fish hatchery has a hilarious wheel spinner of the life cycle of the salmon. There’s something like 40 or 50 options, all but one of them ending with “you die.” Your egg is eaten by a trout. You die. Your minnow becomes a frog’s next meal. You die. You swim down to the ocean but are eaten by a heron. You die. Item after item after item in red. And then there’s the one single green one. Congratulations! You managed to survive getting upstream to spawn! … You die.

    Ah, life.

    I do remember one particular cocoon I crawled out of in college. It was painful, and happened to land just before finals (nothing like having to write a major paper while having an emotional breakdown.) I knew even at the time that it was worth it. Still hurt.

      1. And now I recall the Far Side cartoon where someone has built a Translator and the various wild calls are understood. And they’re all “Hey, babe!”

  10. Is the left part of a tapestry the same as the right? Or the start of a book the whole thing?

    Or will you be more fond of a book with a rough start that ends very well, than one that starts out great and goes to hell?

  11. I cannot remember how I thought at earlier ages. I can only remember some of the things I did and saw, and some of the people I met back when. All my friends I’ve met since ’67. None from school, none from college. Brownian motion made most of it happen.

  12. If I could go back and tell my younger self one thing, it would probably be “pay more attention to your worse but wiser self”. Idealism is a wonderful thing, but not when it leads to living in denial.

  13. Look, there are these things on my shoulders.

    Well, since you are pondering time travelling, those might be 1980s shoulder pads.

    Why yes, we were just cleaning out wife’s packed away clothes – how did you know?

    1. I never wore shoulder pads. First step, rip them out. You see, in a t-shirt, like right now? looks like I’m wearing shoulder pads. With shoulder pads, I look freakish. Like a quarter back.

  14. Kinda wish I could tell my high-school self that my magazine-writer plan was rubbish and computer code was also language, so I should major in CS instead of journalism (HS class of 01, even).

    1. Well yes, computer code is language. Computers, or communication, were the last item to be anywhere near my horizon out of HS, but then HS graduation was ’74 … funny thing, I wrote software, & provided support for it (at same time, not call centers) for 35 years. BUT, not until PC’s & monitors came out. No assembly.

  15. Honestly? Wouldn’t tell my younger self a thing. I’ve read too many alter-the-flow-of-history stories; no matter how bad the experience I’d try to avert, or how good the missed opportunity I’d want another shot at, it’d be better than even odds it’d cost me something I treasured or needed.

    Conversely I have to admit that I still feel like pretty much exactly the same person I was as a teenager. I’m just shorter on energy, a little more careful in my diet and better at keeping my temper. Even my big “political conversion” in my 30s, when I switched from my waffling centrism to a firmly rightist stance, I didn’t think of as a change in me, only a change in what I’d learned about the world.

  16. My mother assures me that I am her most stubborn child and I don’t listen to myself now; I doubt I’d listen to a time traveling self.

  17. In fairness, it is not the craziest thing they’ve ever tried. It isn’t as if they can refute the Right’s ideas and they certainly cannot engage them.

    The Left Performs Exorcisms of the Right’s Ideas
    By Sarah Hoyt
    Yesterday I found myself – in my own conference on Facebook, where politics (and religion. I’m not sure which one this was, even) are forbidden – being confronted by someone who thought he had brilliant insights about what “rightists” should do to improve themselves.

    Apparently, and I expect this will surprise you as much as it surprises me, we’re supposed to give up Jew-hatred, woman-hatred and neo-Nazis before we’re fit for polite company. I’ll add that, in an effort to be bipartisan, he admitted that the left should give up Jew-hatred as well.

    I didn’t know whether to laugh or cry and as a first sally, pointed out that the left should also give up man-hatred. In the way of the left, he then said something about Richard Spencer (?) and yelling Heil Trump.

    Did anyone ever, seriously yell Heil Trump, other than that guy in the theater in NYC who was a Trump opponent? Because if they did, they really need Thorazine, since Trump is neither German nor, well… anything close to Hitler. No matter how much the left insists he is.

    I then pointed out that I wasn’t going to disown neo-Nazis because I never owned them. I’m “right” in the way that Americans are right-wing, i.e. with a strong emphasis on individual liberty, not “blood and soil,” as it is in Europe.

    I never got to refuting the “women hatred” because well, think about it. …

    1. I’ve sort of wondered if there’s a Dutchman in Trump’s paternal ancestry, given how close Trump is to Troomp, especially if you use Low German pronunciation. The Dutch also tend to be fair (as in pale) and tall.

    2. > think about it. …

      Plenty of leftist women appear to hate other women and themselves, so it’s natural they’d project that.

    3. Insert badly edited video dubbing Trump with Marc Hill’s speech, followed by footage of various Zeon aligned persons shouting a two word phrase subtitled as ‘Hail Trump’.

      Absolute proof that Hoyt is wrong. It is only possible to be maliciously wrong, ergo Neo-Nazi Zionist Alt-Right Neo-Con.

      What are the odds that Hill will serve as Secretary of State to President Hillary Clinton?

  18. I’m curious if the show you mentioned with someone claiming he was a different person because his body’s cells had all been replaced was a documentary or fictional. There was a story by Frank Riley in the April 1958 issue of IF, an sf magazine that’s been gone since the late 1970s, alas (they pubbed my firs story in 1968). In it, a criminal’s lawyer argued that his client had been severely injured in a car wreck (while fleeing from the cops) and his life had been saved by extensive replacement parts, so he was no longer the same man, so “Not Guilty.” I’ve been considering using the story in an forthcoming anthology. However, IIRC, the replacement of old cells doesn’t happen with nerve tissue, including brain cells, but I could be misremembering that. Anyway, if that’s true, since brain cells are where the self lives, that would argue that he was the same person. As for being amoth, don’t let anyone call you Mothra, or you might have to fight Godzilla, (See “Godzilla vs. the Thing” for context.) ).

    1. Oh, no. It was one of the midsommer murders episodes. I can’t remember which.
      You know, this will tell you how alike our minds are. I almost put the joke about Mothra in there 😛

  19. The comment about breaking eggs not making omlet gave me a mental image of one of those ‘Demotivation’ posters. The title is


    The image is a still from Mork and Mindy where Mork is trying to teach the eggs to fly.

    The caption reads: “Just because you are breaking eggs does not mean you are making an omlette”

  20. …might never have met any of you.

    If The Spouse had not found your blog and shared it with me I would not have met you OR any of your writing. That would is sad to contemplate.

    Of course, I would not know that I was missing the delights of E or coffee at the Dragon or Thena or Nate or Seraphim.

    1. Well, the good news is that there will be more, soon. Also there is this woman with two kids whose names I don’t have yet, but the girl’s nickname (at 12) is The Mouth. She has a mathematician husband and she rescues orphan kittens…

          1. Or she could have several names for the children… depending on what the “children are up to”. 😈

  21. There are periods of renewal and rebirth in a career. At least there were in mine. The Navy sent a young flight test engineer into the desert in 1997…what came out of that desert in 2000 was a fanatic possessed of near-suicidal zeal, the sort of man you point at a problem and unleash. And flee for dear life.

  22. I can think of all kinds of things that I could tell my younger self to do that would have launched me on a different, probably more successful trajectory in life as most people define success. I wouldn’t go back and give it to myself, because any change would mean I wouldn’t meet my wife at age 22 because I would be somewhere else other than where I was at.

    The primary change from HS to now in me is- I’m a lot more confident, especially in public settings. I suspect the 21 years in the Navy and retiring as a CPO has a lot to do with that.

    1. Even a third of that time and never going above E5 is enough to give a massive boost in confidence, especially in identifying BS and refusing to be manipulated by it.

      Been a decade since I got out and most of my family (much less classmates) still can’t grasp what happened to the sweet little doormat.

  23. The problem with trying to advise my younger self is that the things I failed at then, I still don’t have a clue about. Like meeting the opposite sex.

    1. I’ve been married 33 years, and I still don’t have a clue about it. Mostly guys become my friends. They did so even when I was 50 lbs lighter and good to look at.
      I still think the ONLY reason Dan fell in love with me was because it was over the phone and he didn’t get whatever weird signs I give off that say “I’m just your bud.” Because before that the only guys ever attracted to me were gay guys. Straight guys wanted to go have a beer and talk to me about the girls they had a crush on.
      …. yeah. No clue. But you know what? Dan and I work. Pure DUMB luck.

        1. After meeting my soon-to-be-fiance for the first time, my brother evaluated the relationship thus:
          “They should totally marry, they’re like the King and Queen of Geek.”

      1. Yep. Me Too. One of the guys. Met hubby when first started college. Never had a class together, never worked together until after graduation, & we were already married. He was two years ahead, & is 5 years older, but member of the same club associated with our degree. Just one of the guys.

        It was 4 years before our first date. He brought me back to my apartment after that date, & stayed to help with a very sick 2 year-old German Shepard with salmon poisoning; everything from helping to clean her up, clean up the kitchen & bathroom area where she’d been laying, to taking turns holding her while she shook from shock. Yes, I knew he was a keeper, but have no idea what he saw in me. We were married 7 months later.

  24. Geek that I am, I look to Doctor Who as a template-or I did, until the SJWs ruined it, like they do everything they touch. The regeneration into a new form, the same person, but manifesting different aspects of the personality. I have lived this myself. Reminds me of some great Tom Waits lyrics: “There’s things I’ve done I can’t erase/want to look in the mirror and see another face.”

    1. The new series is a plot by the Master. The characters are trapped in an illusion. Manufactured by Adric, again.

  25. Change. Damn. I changed when I went to college and got out of the house. I changed when I got laid off, when I went to grad school, when I got married, when I got a tenure-track job, when I got tenure, when my parents died, when I changed how I eat and freed myself from anxiety attacks, and I’m looking at the next cocoon emergence as we figure out how we’re going to move back West and I leave said secure tenured job….I don’t think I’d tell my younger self to change anything because as Sarah pointed out, that would mean I likely wouldn’t be writing now, or easily contemplating the next move. Scary and fun at the same time.

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