On Failure

It is generally helpful to give yourself permission to fuck up. It’ll happen. It is part of learning. We learn, mostly, by making mistakes. By trying out what doesn’t work and adjusting our behaviour away from that. Fearing failure means paralysis.

This is something I have seen an online friend struggling with and, honestly, my heart goes out to him. He complains of never having had a life, about not reaching various adult milestones, and lamenting that he cannot change because he’s afraid of fucking it up. The thing is, the catch: you have to fuck up in order to grow. It’s not optional, because this is how we grow.

This is something, to some extent, I have struggled with myself. I can say without much ego that I am a very intelligent person. I come from a family of successful physicians, and I work in a profession where very little leeway is made for mistakes. When I was young my parents were the kind who expected fast success, and were critical of me when it didn’t come. I learned to learn fast; to make mistakes early and privately, and then manifest (what looks like) effortless success in public, where possible.

This might sound good for me, but it has left me with some blinds spots and deficits. I do lack certain aptitudes, one of them is a strong sense of numeracy. When I enrolled in university I was originally a computer science major, but chickened out of it because mathematics was a required class. I ended up studying psychology instead in order to get away from math, but the sweet irony of it was that I ended up needing a strong mathematical skillset in order to pass statistics. I also, ultimately, got a job in the field of computer science! Things probably would have turned out better for me if I just sucked up my fear of failing at math and struggled with that one math course I needed to take in order to progress in the computer science program.

More proximally, learning the saxophone has been a struggle for me. This mainly has to do with reading musical notation. I absolutely hate the system that has been bodged together that we use to write music. It is confusing and inconsistent, and was primarily created for the writer, not the reader. In picking up the saxophone I was undertaking something I would not be immediately successful at.

Last night at my lessons we were trying out a new activity. Sight reading in real time. It was a deeply unpleasant struggle for me. Even though I have been practising the notes and their position on the staff, I still struggle with perfect recall. The pressure of looking incompetent made things worse, with fed in on itself. My emotions got the better of me and I became upset.

Between practice sessions I have been trying to change my attitude. I have been thinking (and I’m paraphrasing here) to myself, repeatedly:

You are going to fail. You will make mistakes. You’re not good at a lot of the skills needed to play the saxophone. If you want to play, it is going to be a struggle. This will not be easy, nor should you expect it to be. Reaching your goals takes effort, sacrifice, and patience. If you want to know the joys of success, your going to have to put up with these feelings.

I will never be a John Coltrane. He was an exception among exceptions. But if I don’t try (and fail) I will never get to be me.

A few thoughts on having Mental Health

My life has been something of a struggle the past couple of months. Online friends may have noticed a silently decreased presence. I’ve been struggling with my health. The problems have been mainly emotional, however, there have been physical issues as well. I won’t go too deep into the reeds with this one; suffice it to say, I’ve been suffering deeply.

It started with a few nights in a row getting poor sleep. If it wasn’t one thing it was another: I was too hot, I ate too much, I mismanaged my intake of substances, something upset me before bed, something excited me before bed, I was too cold, ect. I have posted about this issue in the past.

At any rate, a few nights in a row of disturbed sleep was all it really took. Eventually I reached a point where my circadian rhythm was completely disrupted and my life spun out of control. At that point it didn’t even take a sleep-disruption anymore to result in a poor night’s sleep. I was going weeks on end with maybe 2-4 hours of sleep a night. Completely insufficient for maintaining health, and my body and mind were deteriorating.

I wish I could say I’ve made a complete recovery, but unfortunately I’m not there yet. In order to kick-start my circadian rhythm I needed to resort to daily sleeping pill use. At first, that didn’t cut it, and I had to add antidepressant use as well. I’m currently taking an antidepressant called mirtazipine, which in addition to being an antidepressant, also causes sedation (which helps falling asleep). Right now I’m off the sleeping pills but I am still taking the antidepressants and melatonin supplement nightly.

I don’t like being on antidepressants, but they are helping. The thing is, I don’t feel clinically depressed right now. I actually went through a short period of hypomania on them that I needed to suppress. I suffered from clinical depression previously, in my teenage; I guess you could say I’m in remission. I’m reluctant to stop using the antidepressants, because I was suffering deeply from lack of sleep. But now, everything feels kind of fake. The medication has given my waking life a vaguely-unpleasant dream-like quality, whilst also being… not happy, but anti-depressed. It sucks, it feels unwholesome.

Worst is, the antidepressants blunt my feelings of metta, or loving-kindness. I’m still able to practice, but the feeling is distinctly less pronounced. It requires more effort to produce a feeling with half the intensity. Which, in of it self, makes me feel… not depressed, but wistful.

At least its way better than the anti-psychotics I tried for off-label use as a sleep aid. Those made me feel like I was drowning in a stupor of mental dullness. And they also didn’t work to get me to sleep. One night was all I needed to know that I never want to take that mind-poison ever again.

At any rate, my aunt, who is a psychiatrist, encouraged me to take the somewhat-helpful antidepressants and the thoroughly unhelpful anti-psychotics. She termed what she observed me having as a kind of “lucid depression” wherein I had the physical symptoms of depression without the affective (emotional) symptoms. This seems to be a word she made up on the spot, because a web search returned nothing. If this is the case, I chalk up the maintenance of my lucidity within the depths of chronic suffering to my dharma/meditation practice. So even though I’m not doing great, this experience has been confidence boosting for me. Dharma practice really has fortified me with indispensable mental tools.

I really hope to re-invigorate my practice after this episode of poor health has blown over.

Sleep is the Key

This is going to be a rambly one because I’m currently on major sleep debt. 3 days of minimal sleep; only 30 minutes last night. Pardon my dust.

I have something to admit: I have poor sleep hygiene. This has been a longstanding issue throughout my entire life.

The following is a list of things that contribute to poor sleep health

  • Staying up late
  • Sleeping in
  • Smoking pot
  • Drinking alcohol
  • Drinking coffee in the afternoon
  • Overeating
  • Playing videogames before bed

And the following is a list of things I like to do:

  • Staying up late
  • Sleeping in
  • Smoking pot
  • Drinking alcohol
  • Drinking coffee in the afternoon
  • Overeating
  • Playing videogames before bed

See any problems here?

In graduate school I took a Psychology of Health class. My professor, who I really liked, had a class dedicated to sleep health. One of the things he said that really stuck with me was this:

“You want to know what it’s like to be ninety years old? Stay up all night; do not get any sleep. Then go to work. That’s what it feels like to be ninety.”

Dr. (redacted), Psychology professor at (redacted) University

For the past couple of weeks I have been living that life. And I’m sick of it. I don’t want to be ninety years old anymore.

Lately I’ve been dealing with an ennui in my personal life due to a few low-level chronic conditions. Pain and sleeplessness. And guess what; they feed into each other and make each other worse. it sucks.

I’m done.

I’m stating this as a promise to myself. An act of self compassion: no more avoidable disturbances to me sleep.

I have made a sleep log and will be tracking my habits. I shall keep myself honest.

No more of the following:

  • Staying up late
  • Sleeping in
  • Smoking pot
  • Drinking alcohol
  • Drinking coffee in the afternoon
  • Overeating
  • Playing videogames before bed

On paws, claws, and sincerity

I am a furry! I have been one for my entire adult life, and I was one for a sizable chunk of my childhood. I have been a furry longer than I have been not a furry.

It all started around 13, when I got my first private computer. Keep in mind this was circa 2000, back when the internet was a very different place. I was kind of a socially awkward child, and although I had a fair share of friends, I lived very far from them in a suburban neighborhood that had really nothing going for it. I also struggled with reaching out and initiating contact. Consequently I used to spend a fair amount of time surfing the web. Again, I always struggled with approaching people and I guess it was easier online.

Me after surviving Y2K

One of my favorite things online was webcomics, and it wasn’t long until I discovered animal-people themed comics. Something about these deeply resonated with me! I supposed I always enjoyed funny-animal cartoons such as Bugs Bunny and this felt like an extension of that interest.

One web comic artist who tended to draw a lot of animal-people comics I really enjoyed was Dave Kelly (who ended up being a very tragic figure decades later, but I digress). A lot of his comics were very raunchy and salacious, especially Smut, which could only be described as semi-pornographic. Definitely things a young teenager shouldn’t be exposing themself to. The comic had an oekaki board attached to it, which is a kind of chan-like forum that allows people to draw directly in their web browser and post their art. Being attached to a semi-pornographic comic that heavily featured animal people, of course this oekaki had very heavy involvement from furries. Both Wacoon and Nanimoose posted there (not to be a name dropper of late-x early-millennial era popufurs). And from there I eventually was linked to VCL, Furaffinity, and other repositories. Not to mention Second Life, which is its own can of worms I’ll probably end up doing a post about later.

And yes, my early involvement with furry did grow out of a sexual tantalization. Pre-18s definitely do have sexual feelings, deal with it. But it was, and continues to be, far far more than that. Currently, the sexual aspect of furry actually remains a very small part of what it currently means to me. As Patricia Taxxon covered in her recent vlog (which inspired this post), there is a certain disarming earnestness about furry creatures. I think this especially is true for socially-awkward types such as myself, who yearn to be earnest but struggle with it in practice.

Furry allows you to distance from the self without estranging from it. The fursona is a filter that allows you to approach uncomfortable and unfamiliar aspects of psyche – things that are too overwhelming to be seen head-on – from an oblique angle. It allows you to craft and play a role; something that can serve a mediating function, rather than directly interfacing with confusing aspects of the self and social life. The fursona, and interaction of fursonae, serves as a layer of abstraction that imposes form, structure, and most importantly, safe distance. In this distance one is free to experiment, and hence, explore ways of being that may be more authentic, if not real. The connection to the self is more genuine, because you are creating a the self that you want, and approaching the areas of existence in a manner that is safe for you.

So, yeah, I guess you can say that furry is a neurosis. Whoops!

Hello I would like you to meet the neurotic emanation of my identity.

As I have matured I have gone through several mainline fursonas that all served me in different ways:

  • Sanny the golden retriever – Basic (cringe) “me, except fuzzy femboy UwU” fursona
  • Vlad the bat – Super sarcastic & ironic (cringe) “me, except The Worst” fursona
  • Student the squirrel – Bizarre “me, except an old professor” fursona. I was in grad school at the time (cringe).

I’ve also had some feminine alts to explore that aspect of myself as well:

  • Jocasta Panda – Hedonistic and bacchus-like figure.
  • Ruey Shark – Just a funny, dumb, jokey, playful girl! She’s great!

My current guy is Petrichor Squirrel, and he is quite different than my previous furry emanations. Instead of representing who I am or some mindset I would like to explore, he represents what I deliberately strive to be in a moral sense. He is an aspirational figure of self. He is the confluence of furry and the other great influence on my life, dharma, into a single being. He represents what I believe to be the fruits of existential development – a being of depth, wisdom, and kindness. In ways that, I myself, occasionally reach; except Petrichor is like that consistently. Through discipline and mental fortitude he has exhausted all greed, hatred, and ignorance from his being and operates in a default state of empathy, sincerity, and acceptance. All the time. The ultimate Mary-Sue!

I doubt I’ll ever be as attractive as a being as Petrichor. But he is less of an end goal and more of a pointer towards a unconventional and idiosyncratic morality that I’ve adopted for myself as the small-t truth. Yes, he is a neurosis – but he is a neurosis in the service of transcendence!

In a famous teaching that I’m probably misremembering the Buddha asked “if you needed to cross a river in order to then climb a mountain, would you not build a raft? After crossing the river, would you then strap the raft to your back in order to climb the mountain?” Of course, the Buddha was cautioning against clinging to the word of the dharma after it has served its purpose, however I do see this parable as holding meaning for who Petrichor is in relation to me. In many ways (which I have glossed over, or have not covered here) I have been damaged, and I use furry as a cope in order to deal with that damage. Furry has become an inextricable part of who and what I am, as an identity and sense of self. I view him as a leveraging of that depth toward a direction of growth and maturity.

Om petri petri maha petri maitri petri om petri svaha!


Photography has been a hobby of mine for my entire adult life. This started when I was around 18 when I decided to start using my father’s old film camera. This was when digital was overtaking film in the early 2000’s, and I suppose I was more interested in the mechanical and technical aspects of the machinery of film cameras rather than something I picked up out of raw creative drive.

My first camera: Minolta XG-7

So I bought some film from the supermarket and took 24 exposures, just kind of playing around. And wouldn’t you know it, I actually did create a couple of half decent photos! I can still recall some of them instantly. At any rate, I was inspired, and from an interest in the machinery came an interest in the art.

However, the vast majority of my photos were incompetently exposed and/or compositionally boring. When you’re paying about a dollar per exposure, the drive to get good is something that must be prioritized. So soon I developed a system where I would walk around with a clipboard with a stack of self-developed forms on it. For every photograph I would write down technical details such as the shutter speed, f-stop, lens focal length, focusing distance, et cetera. After a few dozen rolls of film, I actually was able to expose a decent shot! After this my interest in cameras exploded, and having little money or wisdom, I was soon into Toy Cameras.

Woah! Lomography! It’s good because it sucks!

Too bad my composition skills were still garbage! In reviewing my old film albums, it is so funny how all the images are competently exposed but are so boring to look at. Actually learning how to compose a decent shot would require a level of self-criticism that the expense and hassle of film did not facilitate. I kind of intuited this, and as a graduation gift I asked my father to buy me a camera. My first digital was a Pentax K-r.

Pentax: The Linux of cameras (derisive).

For a few years pretty much every image I produced was directly out of the camera. No editing at all. This was how I was used to operating, because when working with film, what you got from the supermarket was what you got! However, shooting on digital eventually allowed me to start editing my photographs digitally. Actually being able to crop after the fact teaches you a lot about how to compose while you’re actually taking the photo. Being able to produce developed photos that are slightly better than what I started with taught me the difference between middling composition and better composition, which was an intuition I would take with me into my next photo shoot.

I no longer shoot with my K-r, and most of my photography is still relatively boring, however the median level of quality and artistic vision is far better than what it was a decade ago. I definitely produce images that I are actually decent from an artistic point of view with a far greater frequency than back when I didn’t make a discipline out of it! This ability is the hard won reward of a lifetime of effort, experimentation, and self-criticism. In building my photo gallery for this site, I revisited my photographic history since about 2014. I included what I consider to be my highlights, which is probably about 1% of every image I’ve ever created (artistically).

The secret to taking good photos is just to take a lot of photos, keep the good ones, consider what it is about them that makes them good, and keep those qualities in mind for subsequent photo shoots. Nobody is born good at anything; in fact, a defining characteristic of humans is that we suck at pretty much everything in our natural state, but we’re very good at learning. This is a trade off: what we lose in innate skill we gain in the ability to profit from experience. A squirrel can only be a squirrel – a human can be whatever it sets its attention to (including a squirrel).

So go out: set the intention to focus your attention, put yourself in the way of experience, and profit by it!

With kindness,

Hello world!

I just finished setting this up! Thank you for visiting my website.

My educational background is in psychology and I don’t really have much formal education with computers, but I have always had an interest. When I was a kid I used to go to Visual Basic programming classes, I attended Linux computer camp on three occasions, and I actually started my undergraduate education as a computer science major. I took a few classes in programming and one in UNIX system administration.

However when I was younger math made me anxious. Probably due to a subclinical learning disability mixed with a general lack of confidence in myself. I got spooked by having to take discreet math in order to advance in my major, and switched to psychology. I do not regret this, as I’ve always had an interest in the mind. In the end, the joke was on me, as I ended up taking (and deeply enjoying!) statistics in order to graduate as a psychology major, and later with a master’s degree in clinical psychology.

Recently, I have taken up a job as a system administrator for an Electronic Data Entry program called REDCap. I got the job because it requires a strong background in research, even though I am challenged by its technical “system administratory” aspects. In order to familiarize myself with the systems I use everyday but don’t really understand, I decided to actualize a long-running and unrelated desire of mine to self-host a blog-type website.

What you see now is the the first complete iteration of this (probably) long term project. What can you expect here?

  • Eccentric dharma insights
  • Thoughts on my online/real life encounters
  • Commentary on the challenges and rewards of self-hosting
  • Photography
  • The occasional joke

Thank you so much for visiting. I look forward to sharing more of my experiences with you.

Om petri petri mahapetri maitripetri om petri swaha!