Monday, October 05, 2009

But we unleashed a lion

Imagine if Erik Harris and Dylan Klebold had each kept online diaries chronicling the pain and humiliation ticking like a time bomb inside their lives. What if they'd kept an online record of the million persistent snubs, put-downs, and insults that built up and unleashed an atrocity? What would it be like to walk the echoing and messy chambers of their minds, to revisit those scenes of teenage angst that led up to the fateful explosion of rage?

George Sodini did, a chilling and daily cataloguing of the reasons and plans he had for annihilation.

Self Help Center gives you an advanced tasting, possibly fiction, totally true, of terror.

If you've ever pondered questions like:

What is a rapist thinking when he selects a victim?

How did the Craigslist Killer create the ad that snared his victim?

What is the last thing a man writes before spraying his co-workers with hot lead out of the mouth of an AR-15?

Or, in short, what was happening inside the brains of Dylan/Erik/George before they killed?

Then, you should go and read.

But, if you can't stomach envisioning how a sort of sickness creeps into a man's soul and taunts him to do the unthinkable, you should stay away and read a pleasant mommy blog.

As far as those of you--the core Ask readers--who remember, with some degree of enthusiasm, when we directed a really crappy Indian blogger to kill his roommate to spice things up, this blog will totally be your cuppa.

What's really disturbing, and what makes for compelling reading, is that you're never really sure if Romius T is writing fiction or prose. This is truth spilled in black and white on a computer monitor, truth that plays itself out in America day in and day out.

Whether you can handle this much truth is another story, entirely.

Now, this is where I'd generally tell Romius to spruce up his rather ugly online habitat, clean up his sidebar, and choose a less generic template. But, by doing so, he might undermine the "realness" of the blog.

So, don't change. Keep writing, stay creepy, and let us know when you've finished the next American Psycho.

59 comments:

  1. Fiction or no, this is what a blog should be.

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  2. "They don't want to look me in the eyes, otherwise they have to acknowledge the role they play in the social world that keeps me down."

    That is fucking excellent.

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  3. Creepy is the perfect word for this blog. I love it.

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  4. I am such a freaking wuss. I read some of the entries in this blog and they were so unsettling and disturbing, like tapeworms that you could feel wriggling around inside of you. *shudder* I can't read this guy 'cause his words will stick with me like the aforementioned tapeworms and I've got enough of my own shit to handle.

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  5. You can dress up a pile of monkey shit to look artistic, but does that make it any less shit?

    His topic is repulsive to me.

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  6. There's truth, and then there's just one man's truth. It's not that it's too much truth and I can't deal, it's just that it's the kind of "truth" I've spent most of my life trying be free from.
    Appreciated the style, though.

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  7. Jessica Simpson10/05/2009 10:11 PM

    He is just as creepy in real life.

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  8. Why is it repulsive? Because he's talking about a lifestyle that millions in this country lead (i.e. the working poor)? Alienated and living on the fringes of society? Teetering on the edge of destitution and despair? You're right, it is repulsive. It's repulsive that people work their asses off at minimum wage jobs for exploitative corporations and still can't pay their bills, yet don't expect or desire handouts. It's repulsive that millions of people work sick and injured because they don't want to get fired for missing work (not that they could even afford to go to the doctor anyway, because the Wal-Marts of the world don't offer decent insurance). It's repulsive that our mental health system is so broken that, because they couldn't get the help they desperately need, they decide to spray a shopping mall with bullets. And it's repulsive that privilege causes many people to shut their eyes and plug their ears to the reality of the silent masses of the working poor because the truth is just too unpleasant to think about while watching re-runs of "Platinum Weddings."

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  9. I just wanted to stop by and say thanks for the great review. I know that just thinking about the upcoming review has caused me to think more about the blog and (hopefully) write a bit better.

    You should have seen the sidebar before I started reading this blog.

    I know the blog is not for everyone, and wanted to say additional thanks to aliecat who defended some of my feelings about the blog better than I could.

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  10. His topic is repulsive to me.

    Yeah. God forbid that we think of killers as humans. Because, you know, they ARE.

    I've spent the past few years of my life working in and with programs that attempt to divert kids BEFORE they kill.

    There are a great number of people out there living "lives of quiet desperation." I know that a lot of our friendly mommy-bloggers segregate themselves--housing-wise, shopping-wise, work-wise, and life-wise from such people.

    Burying your head in the sand does not make them go away. In fact, what I find annoyingly supercilious about so many mommy-bloggers is their complete lack of awareness of other people's struggles.

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  11. This is some fascinating stuff. I was expecting Gummo, but it's more like The Good Girl with an edge.

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  12. Alie, seriously, that was just about the prettiest thing.

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  13. And I really don't find this blog that unsettling. He doesn't even write about topics any creepier than that one guy with all the evil clowns in his background (who was fucking crazy), or like, Tucker Max. He just does it with far more realistic self-awareness.

    Seriously, Rom. This is good gutsy stuff.

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  14. Seriously. Seriously. No, I don't say that too much. For serious.

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  15. This seriously is compelling writing, though.

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  16. Like, Confederacy of Dunces. I'm not saying Rom is Ignatius, but it's the same style.

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  17. I agree, Rass. I was expecting eating spaghetti in a tub full of dirty water in a hoarder's house. But no, it's the gritty realism of a life down-trodden.

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  18. The writing is completely realistic and conveys that daily desperation of just barely getting by (and sometimes not) incredibly well - which is why I can't read this guy. It's completely my own failing that I would take on Rom's stresses as my own and emotionally, I can't do it. So it's not so much that it's unsettling in a general sense, it's that it's unsettling to me.

    Also, Aliecat - brilliant.

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  19. He can write, I don't think there's any question about that. But is it as good as your review indicates? I don't think so.

    Where you see dark and interesting insights into a burgeoning serial killer, I see a very whiny, self-involved man-child who does nothing but complain about his plight with no indication that he wants to fix anything. There are definitely some very funny and even poignant posts in there, but after reading more than a dozen entries I just couldn't get into it.

    Sorry, but I don't see a lot of terror here. If anything it was more pathetic than creepy and in the end I just feel really sorry for the guy.

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  20. There is the theory that once you're in that life it's extremely hard to get out. The book "Nickled and Dimed" makes a good case for the cycle of poverty as one that is soul crushingly difficult to pull yourself out of. Does that make him a whiny, pathetic man-child, or just someone resigned to their fate? I don't know. I'm more inclined to forgive Romius for whining, since he actually has something worthwhile to whine about, rather than some 20-year-old college kid navel-gazing his way through a philosphy degree. Staying positive in the face of all those challenges is a skill that a lot of people don't posess, especially if they have no support system. I'm all for living the American dream, pulling yourself up by your bootstraps, and all that jingoistic bullshit, but until you've really lived it, you really don't know the reality of what it takes to either survive it or get out of it.

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  21. I know people who are dealing with unbelievable life circumstances, or just wander lost through life. My nephew is one of them. He's 28 now, and has asperger's syndrome. He cannot function very well in the "real world." But, he's not stupid, or really, obviously impaired. If he were to write a blog, I suspect it would look very much like this one.

    I have a good friend who I worked with on a police department. His brother was also a cop, until he came down with MS. He's dealt with random blindness, deafness, paralysis of body parts, and the like for the last 10 years.

    The older I get, the more I believe that I'm not where I'm at because I'm incredibly good. I'm where I'm at because I'm incredibly lucky. I don't know how I got so lucky, but I will say that I've made all the same stupid mistakes that a lot of people have made. In my case, at least, they didn't have permanent effects.

    That's why I'm lucky. If we're really honest with ourselves, a lot of us would say, "There but for the grace of god..."

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  22. Romius T. is one sexy motherfucker.

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  23. And, the reason I say that this blog is compelling beyond the standard issue mommy blog is that it pushes us to deal with our own innate biases and beliefs about how life works. Any blog that sticks with me for hours or days after I've read it is a good blog. Compared to this blog, most blogs are like sugar wafers. They taste good for about 30 seconds and then you are hungry all over again.

    This blog gnaws at your soul for long after you read it.

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  24. Daddy, I agree, he is whining. But I really have yet to find a blog that contains no whining. Everyone is complaining about something.

    But his whining is much more interesting, it's bloodier and truthier, to me at least, than someone whose kids have baggy pants and "oh, kids these days," or, "I read this book and it was sure swell" or "FUNNY INTERNET PICTURE LOL" or "wordless wednesday" bullshit.

    The mundanity of his problems and the vast implications they have on him and the people around him is written in a way I find compelling. His life is no more boring or interesting than anyone else. He just tells the story better.

    I agree, I don't find him terrifying. I don't really feel sorry for him at all, either - in fact, he pisses me off, greatly - I can't feel sorry for someone because of the decisions they make. But I still find his life far more interesting than the majority of other blogs out there because of the way he writes about it.

    I don't give a crap about another happily married couple raising their adorable child, because to me, it's boring. But to a happily married couple raising their adorable child, MY life is boring. To them, perhaps, I am a waste of space, whining about insignificant things. Well, I find your children insignificant. (You didn't say those words, I know, this is just the example I'm using.)

    But for someone who looking for blogs without the same old "snarky" commentary littered with "I'm just sayin" and those goddamn unfunny Fail pictures, this guy's blog is a very, very, very welcome change of pace.

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  25. Look at this, Rom: You've got a fun debate going on here.

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  26. LB: Totally agree with you on the luck. 100%. I'm very lucky on several fronts and I'm eternally grateful for it. And I've made some terrible, potentially damaging life-or-death decisions which have been bad, but could've been devastating. It's fitting you mention MS because a member of each generation of my family has had it, up until me and my brother. So I get what he's saying and I appreciate some of it, but in the end maybe it just boils down to personal preference because I find this blog good, but not great-to-the-point-where-it-must-be-read-daily status.

    Rassles: Upon further review, I don't think it's the whining that bothers me so much as he's whining about the same things all the time. Money (or lack thereof), job, ingrown toenail and the fact that he's not getting laid. No blog is exempt from whining, but if we could spread it around a little I think it might help.

    Also, I'm not sure why you're comparing this to a mommy blog or wordless Wednesdays. We can all agree the majority of mommy blogs are pieces of shit and those gimmicky themes piss everyone off. It's a no-brainer that this blog is more interesting than that. I just wanted to clarify because I'm not saying this is bad by any means. I just don't think it's fantastic. I'm new here and still trying to get an idea of what warrants an "I fucking love you," and I was just a little surprised this earned such lofty praise.

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  27. Go into internet marketing, Romius. It may very well be one of the only places that people like me and you are going to really have a chance to get the fuck out of the pit. School isn't an option for me because I hate formal education because I can't sit still and I don't want to sit that still anyway because...well now there's a terrifying place.

    ***

    Go ahead and say it, LB: but for the grace of God. I'll say it with you.

    ***

    The act of "mommyblogging" still mostly turns my stomach.

    No offense.

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  28. DaddyF, I think it's because blogs that aren't those examples are extraordinarily rare.

    I was going to call you Daddy and then I felt awkward.

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  29. See, what we need are more blogs that make us feel like spies. Like we are reading things that we shouldn't. Things that are so personal, I blush when I read them. That's the good stuff.

    Like this:

    http://selfhelpcenter.blogspot.com/2009/04/you-die-sooner-than-you-think.html

    Because you just want to shake him and think, "Stop feeling fucking sorry for yourself and DO SOMETHING ABOUT IT." And then you create a list of things that he can do to make his life better.

    And then fifteen minutes later, you're having the same thoughts about yourself, and you think, "Oh fucking shit. I suck at following my own advice."

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  30. The other part too, for me at least, is that there are all these people we pass every single day, and we barely look at them. There is a cashier at my grocery store who facinates me. Her name is Libbie, she's probably in her early 60s, and she has gotten accustomed to seeing me and will finally talk to me (I am friendly as all get out in real life). And I wonder what life decisions lead someone to the point where they are still working at a grocery store checking groceries at 60. There are all of these essentially invisible people around us in America, and we never pay attention to them...until it's too late, for one reason or another.

    This blogger doesn't terrify me (though he is creepy at times). But think about it. How many of us have actually given 30 seconds of thought to the fact that only SOME people get ingrown toenails, and there are people walking around in nearly constant pain because they are on their feet all damn day and they don't have health insurance.

    I have known kids who made it through high school without ever visiting a dentist, and who were in nearly constant pain because their teeth were rotting out of their heads. And then teachers wondered why they were such a behavior problem in school. And these kids were literally helpless to fix these problems because they did not have access to dental care, and their parents were totally disengaged, and there was not ONE SINGLE ADULT who noticed this kid's predicament.

    NOT ONE.

    And this was America.

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  31. Rassles- exactly...there are things I know I should be doing right now instead of bitching about them, but I just can't bring myself to do anything for fear of dissapointment. So yeah, I get where he's coming from and I have many of the same thoughts as he (well, not thoughts about teenaged girls), I just don't have the guts to write about it.

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  32. And, if you were going to solve Romius's problems, exactly where would you start? What would you do first? What would you tell him to do?

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  33. But do you really feel like a spy when reading that post? Maybe you do, and if that was the author's intent then mission accomplished. But I don't. I just feel...pity. Which sucks because I know that's what he doesn't want. But you're right, I do want to choke him and shake some sense into him. Maybe that's why I can't get into it. I have so much frustration regarding so many things/people in my own life, to witness an ongoing exercise in exasperation is just too much.

    And Alie, is it guts here? Or is this the easy way out? Isn't this just laying out all your problems and bitching about them? Wouldn't the "gutsy" thing be to do something about it? I'm not sure, to be honest, I'm just posing the question.

    But at the very least, the comments section on that post gave me added insight into new and exciting masturbation techniques.

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  34. LB- I used to work at a grocery store with a lot of those older workers and a lot of times it's less tragic than you would think. A lot of them took early retirement and are just working for something to do (kids are out of the house, retired husband is driving them nuts, or for benefits until the Medicare kicks in). My dad will be in the same boat next January. He's enlisted and has to retire at age 60 from a job that he can still easily perform. So now, he's going to probably look for some part-time job that will give him structure to his day and money to supplement his pension. I mean, I've been working since I was 15 and I often fantasize about retirement all the time, but after 6 months of sitting around on my ass, I'd probably truck on down to the local store and pick up a few hours a week too.

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  35. What makes you think Romius wants help?

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  36. Whether he fixes those problems is irrelevant. I don't give a shit. And honestly, if he wants to put himself on the path too riches and bitches, it's going to take him about ten years.

    I feel like a spy when I'm reading someone's uncensored thought process. I don't care if his story is real or fake, as long as I can get lost in it for a little.

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  37. Rassles, I do care whether or not he fixes those problems. If he fixes his, then his influence trickles down to others. But if he doesn't fix them, life goes on indeed.

    You're just a little off on the timeline to the riches and bitches. If Rommy ever decided to apply his{particular) intellect: About 1 year

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  38. DF: The reason it takes guts to let it out this way is because he is bound to get readers who feel sorry for him, and people who are going to judge his feelings. Having your private feelings and thoughts judged is far harder than appearance and actions. You can't choose to have certain thoughts and feelings, you can just try to train yourself to feel and think more like everyone else.

    And really, who wants that?

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  39. Gap, the reason I don't care is because I don't even know if he's a real person. Right now, he's words on the screen in front of me. He's my television, my entertainment. I'm selfish like that. He could be like the Million Little Pieces guy.

    In real life, it matters. I mean, it's actually my job to try and prevent those problems with students before they can occur. So to me, he's giving me a window for what I have to deal with.

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  40. Apparently, I have a lot to say today.

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  41. One year? That blows my mind. I can't imagine paying off all my debt in a year. It took me five.

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  42. In my case, 1 year (theoretically.)

    I still haven't bothered to pay off all my debt. I have 'issues' with taking care of crap in a timely and responsible manner. This coming year though, it's all gone.

    All I really want is a ginorrrrrrrmous, pretty place to have 700

    cats.

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  43. Rassles: You said "And who really wants that?" in response to the question of why would anyone want to think and feel just like everyone else.

    I think the answer may be Romius himself.

    I can't tell if he's celebrating his admitted removal from the real world, or bemoaning it. Sometimes he seems proud of the fact that he's not one of the pretty people, and yet when I read other posts he seemingly craves that acceptance. Maybe it's both.

    In the end, I've come to like Romius more and more. It's kind of like when the Blair Witch Project came out and no one knew at first whether it was real or fake. It sparks a certain fascination in which we all analyze Romius like a science experiment. Which may be genius since he's playing puppet master and keeping all of us guessing. Hell, look at all the discussion and debate he's prompted.

    I like these threads, it helps get everything out there and puts things in perspective. Thanks.

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  44. It goes along with the whole Buffy dilemma: having an inferiority complex ABOUT your superiority complex.

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  45. Rassles,

    I am excited by the debate we got going on here. I was hoping that some of the stuff I write makes you think.

    What I am trying to do is portray what it feels like to be stuck in the pit of despair and morass.

    What it feels like is total emptiness. And it would be a cop out for the people who (like me ) often feel that way.

    I don't believe in the American dream, so I am not sure working on that would be of much help.

    I can't give any hope to the audience either. IF the audience has hope you aren't going to be transported to anguish of modern life.

    Instead you can feel comfortable that this individual (me in a lot of ways) fits into easy categories that we are all familiar with.

    We get to dismiss him because he is a failure, or because he does not try.

    But that's not the point.

    Romius T would argue against the individualistic explanation for his predicament. He would ask about the millions of people who takes his place when he leaves to go the middle class. He is worried about their existence.

    The republican who is the first to criticize a person for sitting on his butt is the first to remind you that full employment will kill the economy.

    I just think we need to recognize if that is true we are systematically setting up millions to live a life not much better off than serfdom.

    Only we add technology and the pleasures of the addictive internet over the in-group feelings of church going choir singers.

    I am not portraying despair that is victorious in the end.

    There is no happy ending because T. stands for a class of people where there is no happy ending.

    Especially if the individuals don't give a rats ass about owning a home, and having kids, and making money.

    I would like to live with some dignity though.

    And understandably I may have to compromise with reality and work within a society I don't understand and don't fit in with. (I should have been born in Europe or something I sometimes think.)

    But as you might guess, me and T. are not so good at that.

    I know that part of the blog is depressing, frustrating etc.

    DaddyFiles is right about me not wanting to be pitied though.

    I have to strike a balance. I want people to share the experiences and sense the frustration in a way that you understand helplessness without endearing simple knee-jerk reactions.

    REAL helplessness. Not kick the tires pissed offness, but REAL and TOTAL despair at the universe (not just our society.)

    I want to humanize it, but I also need people to understand that individual speaking (T.) is A weirdo. He makes mistakes. I want you to be able to dismiss his lifestyle as a result of the poor choices he makes and come to the belief that something else may be needed to understand him.

    I am wondering if we make a category mistake by judging him through the typical American lens of individuality, responsibility, and morality, since he does not share it with most of you, and because the morality itself is category mistake when applied to social problems and social set ups like the economy etc.

    As to the repetition of the last few months DaddyFiles is right. Even I get a little sick of hearing about the toe and stuff.

    In part this is due to me working on getting stuff right and not worrying that it becomes repetitive.

    You could have read about my drunken exploits or my work blog, or some of the random stuff I fill the blog with (of course I have to give you a reason so if I failed that is my fault.)

    One day I hope to take the narrative arc of this blog and rework it into some kind of sodini style memoir.

    thanks for all the great feedback (good and bad.)

    All this thinking ouloud has got me thinking that i might actually get people to think sometimes and that is all I can ask.

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  46. DaddyFiles has hit the head on the donkey. and as Love Bites said what I write is part prose and part fiction and I like the guessing part my audience has to play with me.

    Do I really have an infected toe?

    Well I sure write a lot about it.

    Obviously its not just working through the mechanics of writing.

    Am I going crazy? Fuck maybe.

    I have a schizoids reaction to things. I am turned off by superficial appeals. I am also human and affected by them. I want to be loved and I hate you all (I mean society at large) and hate that I want to be loved by people I mostly despise.

    So yeah.

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  47. Well said Rom, and thanks for the clarification.

    I absolutely did get a sense of that hopelessness, and it freaked me out a little. And that's probably what prompted my initial reaction. Because with a wife battling bi-polar and postpartum depression, I'm not allowed to even dip my toes in the waters of depression or hopelessness right now.

    I enjoyed the blogs and the ensuing discussion. I'll also be coming back to your little corner of the Internet, even if I can't promise I'll stay there for prolonged periods of time.

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  48. Unleashed a lion is right. Bravo, Rom.

    We need more blogs like Rom's. Whether he exists doesn't matter. All that matters is we read them, and we know that people feel like that. Somewhere.

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  49. Even if it were, you let me know. It's always a good thing.

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  50. Even if Rom wanted to, I'm not sure if his level of mild misanthropy would allow him to fit in better with what society would deem "acceptable." And that's ok, too. The world needs misanthropes just like it needs its Sister Mary Sunshines.

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  51. I may have overstated my misanthropy in my last comment. My "misanthropic" edge is used to convince the public that our society shares many characteristics of a misanthropes ideology.

    Daddyfiles

    Bringing up your own experiences with battling depression in your household gives me a perspective on why the blog gets a certain reaction sometimes.

    It's helpful for me to know that people bring perspectives that may not allow them to engage with the blog like I hope.

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  52. Rom- I hesitated to even attach the label to you, as I've found that very few self-described misanthropes are so in the truest sense of the word, you included. Minneapolis is lousy with faux Anarchist/Hippie douchebags calling them misanthropes just because they have an asymmetrical hair cut, wear womens' jeans, and work at a co-op (not that this is you, either), yet are probably the biggest sellouts short of the hipster contingent.

    In any case, I think your blog is fabulous and I hope you find what your looking for in life, even if it's just a better paying job.

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  53. One day I hope to take the narrative arc of this blog and rework it into some kind of sodini style memoir.

    If you don't do this, I will totally hunt you down and kill you. You have a gift, and you also have a very clear vision of what could be.

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  54. I was thinking..and I may be the only one left rereading these comments..that (in answer to a q from df ) that real freaks want to be normal. you can tell a poser by the fact that he wants to be different, but fatties, nerds , pedophiles they all want to be normal...

    we are social beings, but we are variable in our ability to live in differing societies, if we dont fit in there is deviance...shows up as graffiti, or in gangs (no nomey no family struture)
    but if you have those things but still dont fit it you can get a middle class smart white man and turn him into a monster
    that is my theory of deviance and serial killersz.

    sorry wrote this in 2 minutes before work just wanted to creepily take over this comment section and keep writing to myself.

    i hope to put 100 comments here!!lol.

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Grow a pair.