3 Things Helping My Mental Health Right Now

This the Hubris newsletter for 21 February 2021. Today I want to talk about 3 things helping my mental health right now. 

February in Central Finland is great because it’s still winter, but the light has come back. It’s the coldest part of the year, but everything is blanketed in snow and you’re surrounded by breathtakingly gorgeous landscapes. And you can see them! The sun is rising when I get up, it stays light until after 5pm.

This, obviously, has done wonders for my seasonal affective disorder. I’m not (as) tired all the time. My mood is better, American fascists notwithstanding. Through no act of intention, in this past week I also stumbled upon three things that have brightened my outlook. This is going to be random and nerdy, so buckle up!

The Eltingville Club

Between 1994 and 2010, Evan Dorkin sporadically put out comics about the Eltingville Comic Book, Science Fiction, Fantasy, Horror, and Roleplaying Club. The stories follow four guys from high school through adulthood as they indulge in their geeky hobbies. While I’ve long been a fan of Dorkin’s Milk and Cheese series, I had somehow never heard of the Eltingville Club.

Oh. My. God.

These stories sum up my experiences in geekdom. In the real world, I was a comic book retailer for several years and attended a lot of science fiction conventions. Online, I was heavily involved in the tabletop roleplaying scene for a long time. I turned my back on fandom in all of its forms precisely because of guys like these. They have this ability to take something fun and lighthearted and turn it into misery. By insisting that the things they claim to care about be taken as seriously as a heart attack, they suck all the joy out of it. Mostly, they just bitch and whine about the perceived flaws in the media the profess to love.

How does that improve my mental health? Reading this anthology was cathartic. It made me feel seen, that I wasn’t alone in these experiences. What it did, in a roundabout way, was remind me that these people can be laughed at, and ultimately ignored. You don’t need to do anything to them, other than ensure they’re kept at a safe distance from decent people, because they are ultimately self-destructive. The media they worship can still be fun, if you don’t allow them to get their hands on it.

You can buy the complete collection of The Eltinville Club on Amazon.

Hanging with Doctor Z

The conceit of Hanging with Doctor Z is that Zaius, the orangutan antagonist of the original 1968 Planet of the Apes film, is real. Rather than being a character portrayed by Maurice Evens (who, incidentally, was also Samantha’s father on Bewitched), he was an actor and all-around entertainer in the late 60s and early 70s. It’s a play on the ubiquitous D-list celebrities of the era, who never seemed to do anything on their own but were staples on variety shows, game shows, and The Love Boat.

Clips on the YouTube channel have Doctor Z reminiscing about hot tub parties at the Playboy mansion, weaving tales involving the Rat Pack, and name-dropping celebrities left and right. There’s also a talk show, the eponymous “Hanging with Doctor Z”, where he interviews people via an old tube television screen a la Space Ghost Coast to Coast. In the first episode, Steven Weber drops an anecdote about seeing Martin Landau in a Ralph’s supermarket, where he was buying a necktie.

I have no idea who this show is for. Certainly not Generation Z, who probably won’t get most of the references. Having grown up in the era this is satirizing, I appreciate both the jokes and the nostalgia factor. It also calls back to the 1980s, when early David Letterman was surreal, and niche things like the endearing train wreck that was the Joe Franklin show. The only conclusion I can draw is that this show was made specifically for me, and maybe a handful of other people my age, who are weird enough to appreciate it for what it is. It’s another instance of feeling seen, and that’s helping my mental health.

You can find Hanging with Doctor Z on YouTube.

A Burner Account on Twitter

Because I am an immigrant and a business owner, I watch what I say in public spaces. As divisive as things are there is no opinion, no matter how innocuous, that someone won’t attack you for. It’s frustrating to watch other people get away with posting egregious, anti-social shit when I’d get roasted for saying something mildly critical about a movie or TV show. You can circle back to The Eltingville Club for more on that.

A friend and I share asides on Twitter via direct messages. Insights and opinions that aren’t exactly controversial, but wouldn’t land well among the stunted adolescents that dominate the platform. He jokingly suggested setting up a burner account so he could anonymously post some of the things I’ve said, because he though there was truth that needed to be told. I said hell, I could do that myself. So I did.

I am not trolling, and I am not being mean, but it has been wonderful to just speak my mind. Yell at me, I don’t care, you’re not going to brigade my business. Block me to your heart’s content, it’s water off a duck’s back. I’m not trying to change the world. But it is a relief when you’ve literally spent years trying not to scream THE EMPEROR HAS NO CLOTHES at the top of your lungs.

3 Things Helping My Mental Health Right Now

This newsletter is evolving, obviously. I hope you enjoy it but, nothing personal, I don’t care. While I want to be entertaining, and helpful, and occasionally insightful, ultimately I do this for myself. Next week is an issue devoted to my personal bullet journal hacks. Then for the month of March I’ve got a four-part series on understanding your own values and applying them to your life. Stay tuned.

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