Let the madness commence…

•June 6, 2012 • 1 Comment

I am just a person far too into his own head, usually without a filter, who has decided to share some of it with the world.  *Not responsible for damage to sensibilities, brain, internal organs, or faith in the world.

True to the title of the blog, this is a random fountain of brain activity which normally resides only within my head, compacted and dressed in fancier clothes, and then spread across the pages like a cheap hooker.

Enter at your own risk…

Reset Vacation Follow Up

•April 25, 2017 • Leave a Comment

I have really been negligent with this blog, and I’m hoping to do better. I’m still working 50 hours a week, 6 days a week, but my schedule itself has settled into a routine, however exhausting, so I should be able to be more consistent.

My little reset vacation went well. I walked a lot, scoped out the area for potential places to live, relaxed, watched whatever I wanted, ate too much, and completely detoxed from all that work. It was nice to pop myself out of the rut that I’ve managed to get into already and it was nice to be able to see part of the city I haven’t really seen in a year — part of the city that convinced me to move here anyway.

I won’t say that it gave me a new lease on life or anything dramatic like that, but it did help me put some things in perspective. In just those few days I realized how much better I have it than I used to, and whereas I still have (many) problems, I’m ultimately in a better place and will be in an even better place than this very soon.

It also allowed me to get out of the mire in my head and see what I need to do in the next few months to set myself up for ultimate success.

I also have a birthday coming up and it’s not really something I’m looking forward to, but if I lead an active, happy life, then what does it really matter? I have decided what I want for my birthday, though…a gay clone of Wil Willis as seen on Forged in Fire, the show I’m newly obsessed with.

Can we make that happen right now, thanks? Or at least by next week? Anyone?



Reset Vacation

•April 11, 2017 • Leave a Comment

A year ago this week I took a vacation to a place I have wanted to live my entire life, and was actively pursuing for about four years.

Last year I was still living in California, renting a room from a very nice older man  and, rather unpleasantly, my ex had moved into the room across the hall from me. Honestly, it was like we were still together, but with open infidelity, hostility, avoidance, and the pain of watching him really sort of throw his life away. What made it so hard is that there was still very strong love between us.

Last year I was also in the office, working in an environment that was getting progressively more and more toxic. I had salvaged one work relationship and was maintaining most of the others…but frankly I could have smacked 80% of my team with a frozen salmon and then pushed them down a flight of stairs — not necessarily because of what they were doing to me, but because they are all adults and acted like bitter, disenfranchised, spoiled middle-schoolers.

So, I visited this city and within a day I knew that I had to live here. I was prepared to quit my job, move, and live off what was at the time a decent savings until I could find a job. The city was bursting with greenery and spring and beauty and promise and hope. I walked around like I was on a cloud, like there was nothing in the world that could bring me down.

When I returned to California, I hit the ground running, and things lined up for me  in a sychronistic way that told me this is exactly where I should have been. I eventually found a place, I decided to drag one of my best friends with me, and then things happened with my job.

I went to give my two week’s notice, and talked to my supervisor about being able to work from home in another state. It went all the way to our vice president, who said yes. We were about to be transferred to another department, unknown to me, and all of them said yes. Had I moved even a month earlier, I would not have had that security of the new department being consulted. Had I tried two months later, I would have been in a new department with new people who didn’t know me or my work as well, and I would never have been able to move with this job.

Since then…things haven’t been so great. My friend who I brought with me (with the stated understanding that she had 2-3 months to get a better job and start paying rent) has had a series of bad jobs or failed attempts at good jobs that has left me paying for everything since we arrived — including our move. Some of it may be negligence, entitlement, lack of urgency, I don’t know what, but it has been breaking me and causing my savings to dwindle further and further. The possibility of home ownership is slipping as my savings balance falls. I have been promised that payment will be made, so I hold on to hope despite my reservations of it happening. When my lease is up, I will be moving alone and the hemorrhaging of money will stop and I can turn back the tides, but whereas I might have been able to own a home starting this year, I may have to wait another year. Or two. Or more.

The only thing that has stemmed the damage to my savings has been overtime. We moved departments and the new place ignored my frantic calls to action. Things got out of hand and my team has been working 50-60 hours a week since December. I have been working 6 days a week for 4.5 months now. I am just now starting to get help from my friend and roommate, but that help is inconsistent at best.

I have not been able to go out often or buy rain gear (for a place where it rains over 50% of the year) or even really eat out or have friends over — because I’m broke and this apartment was not built with privacy in mind. I’ve lost the hope I once had. I feel like I’m crawling uphill with no help as all my hopes fall to the axe of realism. I’ve not been able to go out or make friends or do anything, and my constant state of anger and depression and anxiety over paying bills I shouldn’t have to pay alone is taking its toll and makes me unsociable and unfit for human company.

So, I decided on a Reset Vacation. Since the overtime started, I put away $50 here, $25 there. I cut back on the few bills I hadn’t already cut back on. I stopped some things totally and stopped eating out all the time. Slowly, slowly, I put away enough money for another vacation. I almost didn’t take it. Do you know how much that money could help me in other areas? But I did it, I pre-paid for the hotel — the same one I stayed in when I was here last year. It seems absurd, but it’s about hope, about recapturing what I want from my life here and in general. It’s seeing how far I’ve come in a year and knowing I can last four more months. It’s about finding my mental equilibrium again. It’s about the possibility of happiness, of forcing myself to get away, to look up and see the light at the end of this tunnel.

Things worked too perfectly for me getting here. I feel that this is a good place in every part of my body and soul. This is only the trial before the bliss. I know that. I just have to believe it again, to not give up, to take 4 whole days off, to get away from this oppressive place.

It’s about finding hope. And that’s priceless.

Breaking the Window to the Past

•March 28, 2017 • Leave a Comment

I have recently moved 850+ miles away from the areas I have always lived and I didn’t have time to really go through my storage, so I had to take everything with me. I will be moving to a better place, blissfully alone, relying only on myself when my lease is up — which will be better on my pocketbook and my psyche.

I am still working to improve my physical strength, but the fact of the matter is that I will need movers, and I want to really go through all my junk and downsize, thereby making the movers cost less. Besides, I just want to have less crap. I have so many old papers and diaries that I considered just shredding them all and being done with it. However, I moved here not only because I wanted to be in a beautiful place I could afford (which I easily could, were my friend/roommate living up to even one-seventh of her financial obligations), but because I want to change and grow.

In the to-be-destroyed papers I found years of journals. I mean about eleven years, up to the point when I stopped journaling. When I started again, it was all in Word documents, mostly written at work as stress relief so I didn’t choke someone out.

Rather than outright destroy them, I decided to skim/read these old time capsules. I’ve read exactly four of them, and the embarrassment is almost too much to bear.

Even keeping in mind that I was a very young person at that time, the folly of youth is really too much to bear all these years later. Who isn’t embarrassed at their younger selves, though? I didn’t expect to escape this growth experiment with my ego unscathed. What’s terrible to behold are the patterns in my life that were visible even then.

When you’ve spent so long forming bad habits, or rather not breaking them, what can you do, really? Why would this attempt be any different than the others? Is being aware of them and their far-reaching damage enough motivation to finally break them? I mean, I knew they had been around for a while, but seeing them there on paper really brought them home in a way that I couldn’t have anticipated. How do you break patterns that old? Did I give up in the past? What made me do it? Did I think I was so young and had all the time in the world?

Well, now is the time of change. I moved away from every landmark I’ve ever known and from all but one person I’ve ever known. I’m moving again in a few months and this move will be even better than the last, since it will be less uncertain and more secure in many ways, and though I love my friend and roommate, I will be moving away from her. More solitude, more freedom, more time to change, untethered from all the landmarks of my past. So, in a way, maybe these journals are a window into my past, and now I’m given a way to look through it and to finally break through its confines.

Stirring Quote

•March 21, 2017 • Leave a Comment

My schedule continues to be hectic and horrid (this was supposed to be written and posted last night, for instance), but one thing I do still have time to do through it all is listen to my lovely audio books. I have a file on my phone where I type out quotes that strike me as I’m listening, whether they be profound or hilarious or poignant. For instance, in the book Innocent Traitor by Alison Weir, Frances Brandon is talking about Queen Jane Seymour and refers to her as “that prim-mouthed, two-faced trollop.” It hit me at the right moment and in the right way, and I started cackling, so I saved it.

I have recently finished listening to Memoirs of a Geisha by Arthur Golden. I first read the book years and years ago and loved it then and loved it no less this time. The book is full of good quotes, but one in particular really struck out at me. To paraphrase, “From this experience, I understood the danger of focusing only on what isn’t there. What if I came to the end of my life and realized that I had spent every day watching for [something that] would never come to me? What an unbearable sorrow it would be to realize I’d never really tasted the tings I’d eaten or seen the places I had been because I had thought of nothing but [this], even as my life was drifting away from me.”

It reminds me of another quote from Sharon Salzberg, where she is saying that needing something and having unnatural attachment to it is like leaning forward constantly, and she wonders how our minds and bodies would feel if we were constantly leaning forward like this. It’s really the same thing Sayuri is saying in Geisha.

I’ve put my life on hold before for some external thing to come along and make it better. I’ve leaned forward, I’ve not tasted the food or seen the sites around me, all because I was so focused on something else. So focused, in fact, that I often forgot to live, to enjoy every part of what was happening to me in the now. Aside from that, I would often lapse into wanting something so much that I didn’t actually work toward it, but rather daydreamed about how nice it would be if only…

In Geisha, this is what Sayuri did until the last moment where she took an active role in the development of her life. I’ve done that recently when I pulled up all my roots and moved to where I am now. I plan to do it again in a few months when I change my living situation for the better. It’s one thing to sit back and hope, and quite another to wait for it — or worse, expect it or feel entitled to it — and then do nothing to bring it along.

I once read a book about finding love. There was a joke in there about doing a love spell and then waiting for Cupid to come down your chimney with your perfect new man in tow. It doesn’t work that way. You can’t sit at home, not working out, not going out, not changing anything, but rather lying down on your bed and thinking what if, just leaning forward, reaching, waiting…and getting nothing. When will we realize, like Sayuri did, that our destiny is up to us?

Actual Skinny vs. Perceived Fat

•March 15, 2017 • Leave a Comment

Several thoughts went into what this week’s post would be about. First, I was watching American Dad and one of the obnoxiously gay characters said that he was straight-skinny, but gay-fat. Seriously, that’s a thing. Then I was thinking about all the physical therapy I have been going through and what it will mean for me when I am better and can be more active. Then I binge watched the new Netflix series Ultimate Beastmaster, which is not normally my thing, but I watched it with a fervor I usually reserve for less savory viewing materials. I also saw my doctor recently and got the results of all my blood work, and the results of my achy body and increased eating were evident.

What tied it all together were these people on Beastmaster. Some of them had undergone horrific accidents and traumatic physical losses, and now they are recovered and hanging by their fingertips on a magnetic wall or jumping from coil to coil in some obstacle course designed by the devil. Many of them were in their mid- or late-thirties, too, making any age excuses  I had seem brutally stupid.

As stupid as it all sounds, it was inspiring. I’m working on my body to make it functional again. If I get into that habit, why not keep doing it and actually have a body I want rather than one I would settle for? Why not make the food and diet choices that will last that help me on this road? I’ve mentioned before that it’s like the Universe looked down at me and said, “You know, he’s always bitching about wanting a better body and wanting to be healthier…why don’t we totally fuck with him and FORCE him to do it?”

I have to do all the things a “normal” person would do to get into really good shape, only I am doing them on a more mild scale so that I can walk and be without pain and be normal again. If I continue down that road, then not only will I recover, I will be gay skinny and fit to me as well as to the straight female friends who are always so nice to their gay comrades. It will have to be a habit I make, because this pain I am in, though it is getting better and better all the time, requires dedication and methodical work. So, if I’m making it a habit already…just keep up with it, right?

I’ve started the meal prepping, I’m studying nutrition more than I have before, I’m trying to eat better, I’m working out almost every day, and the almost will go away when my body adapts. I have to change the way I am doing things, because the way I’m living right now is totally unacceptable and I refuse to live the rest of my life this way. So, if these other people can recover from worse accidents and come out on the other side healthy, hot, confident, and happy, then I can too.

So, I’m going to.

Downs and Ups of Physical Therapy

•February 28, 2017 • Leave a Comment

Late week on Thursday I started physical therapy. The place is literally a block away and it takes me roughly 5 minutes to clock out of work, leave, walk there, and walk through the doors.

The physical therapist is an older man who runs his own business, and he made nothing but dad-type jokes during my time there. He poked, prodded, pushed, and talked about all sorts of stuff. He had me focusing on my sacroiliac joint, which is essentially the area right above your butt crack. My hips are really tight, and after all the poking and prodding, he felt that right away. When you manipulate that area, it releases the hips in a way that helps my particular problem.

He had me lie on a door stop, you know the little wedges you use to tuck under the door to stop it from closing? Yeah, one of those. And do you know it worked? It was so much easier for me to get up and just walk, something I haven’t been able to do in years. He made makeshift ones for me, and tucked a towel under my legs to elevate them slightly. When combining these two things, it made a huge difference. Since doing that over the last 5 days, I can get up and maneuver better. My body is literally popping into place. I’m not as stiff. He ordered me a belt that does the same thing, which will only cost me about $20. I see the same brand on Amazon for about $60.

Today I got an ultrasound massage, was adjusted, and I got kinesiology tape in the form of an H on my back to pull my shoulders together. I asked if a particular brace would help with my rib pain, the unsightly rib flare, and all that. He suggested another (for $45 less than the one I was looking at), and said we will get to that if needed.

He explained how one problem related and probably led to all the others. He gave me exercises. He made more dad jokes.

All that was great and helped tremendously. However, what he could have known is that last night I was in a terrible place. Terrible. I was so discouraged and lost and angry and sadder than I’ve been in a while. I just KNEW that I would never be pain free, be able to walk right again, cough or sneeze without being in pain, or be able to have the body I want and am finally working for. I knew it. I would have to spend the rest of my life literally and figuratively twisted in pain.

Enter the physical therapist’s front desk helper and assistant. She’s a fit, fantastic woman who glides around the office like she’s on wheels and a cloud. As she was giving me the ultrasound massage and informed me that she has had scoliosis since she was in her 20s. She said that sometimes it all seems hopeless, that you’re never going to get better, but that you shouldn’t get discouraged and give up. It takes time and effort to get back to normal, and in cases like mine, I stand a good change of being better than ever.

It was exactly what I needed. If she can move like that in her 60s, look 10-15 years younger, and glide around like she’s on wheels, all while battling scoliosis for decades, I can do this. I can work out, I can fix myself, and I can be back better than ever.


Sporadic Entries: The Revelation

•February 20, 2017 • Leave a Comment

I am very aware that my entries here have been very sporadic at best. Though I sincerely doubt that anyone hangs on my every word, I have some really great readers and I figure I owe you an explanation.

First, I am still adjusting to the move. I lived in California for the first eleventeen years of my life, and now I’m here in Oregon, a place I’ve always wanted to live, one way and another, and I’m trying to adjust. I don’t know many people here, and I work from home, so some of the opportunities I would normally have are limited.

Second, we are still in our busy season at work. We are working our normal 40 hours a week, plus 10-18 hours of mandatory overtime. Fifty to fifty-eight hours a week, usually 6 days a week, is a lot of freakin’ work. It’s not like my job is labor-intensive, and I do have the pleasure of working from home, so there are good and bad parts to it, but I walk away from my computer utterly mind wiped. We have been doing this since late December.

Third, my publisher failed and died, and I am now in receipt of my reversion of rights for my novel and short stories. Since the novel is the first in a proposed series of four, and was previously published, it’s harder to find a home for it. I had started work on the second novel, but now I see an opportunity to edit the first. (In fact, I had just worked out a deal with the owners of my old publisher to reedit it and had actually sent it to my editor when the final supports came crashing down). So, I’m trying to focus on two writing projects at once and that’s not working out.

Fourth, all of my physical issues are still progressing. The things that had issues two years ago are now perfectly fine, but they led to other complications, which led to still others. I believe I know the causes now, and I’m working on fixing them. I just got set up with my new doctor, and I have been referred to physical therapy to address the two remaining issues. I’m in such a great place physically compared to where I was even six months ago, but I’m not 100% better. Honestly, it’s like the Universe and my body are conspiring against me, saying, “Oh yeah? You’re going to get into amazing shape or we are going to make you suffer. Bwahahahaha!” I’m looking at an exercise plan that will potentially give me the hottest body I’ve had since I was 16 and worked out all the time. So, it’s not all bad. Just painful. Honestly, though, my motivation has never been higher to eat better and work out.

That all being said — and there are more pressures I don’t care to discuss just yet — I have had little time to blog…or think…or rest. Unfortunately, there is no end in sight any time soon. So, while I balance all this out, I will be posting once a week, probably on Mondays. If the writing is going well, I may keep it that way and eliminate Thursdays totally. I will let you guys know. If anyone cares, if anyone is still reading this far down, thank you for reading the sob stories, and thanks for your patience. I value you all.

7 Writing Rules: #7 Know Your Audience

•February 14, 2017 • Leave a Comment

The original article said the following about this rule: “Maybe that is good advice, but I have no idea how to follow it.” I couldn’t agree more. Since I do always like to go to the extreme, I will think of examples.

If you’re writing smut for Penthouse Forums for straight guys, you aren’t going to write a chaste love story about a young hero who grows up to marry his beefy farmhand, Sven.

You aren’t going to write a lengthy, graphic sex scene in a preteen novel about a safari with talking animals.

I wouldn’t recommend writing a bloody murder scene starring John Wayne Gacy for a children’s pop-up book.

(What’s wrong with me that these were the first things that came to mind?)

So, let’s be sane, however boring that is. You’re writing a fantasy or science fiction novel. Knowing that your audience is predominantly straight males ranging in age from 14 to 50 who are more than likely to read other stuff in the genre means that you should appeal to that audience. Write about someone they can relate to, want to be, want to be with, or can admire.

That is limiting, though. In the 1980s and before there were very few strong women in writing, particularly in fantasy and science fiction, and that’s how the Bechdel Test was born — asking whether a work of fiction features at least two women or girls who talk to each other about something other than a man or boy. Of course, we can all think of a bunch of exceptions to it, but writing before that time was very male-centric, and the women were there to be rescued and desired.

Then the world was lucky to have novels  like Joan Vinge’s science fiction novel, The Snow Queen, appear on the scene in 1980. The main characters are Moon, Arienrhod, and Jerusha, and secondary characters include Elsevier, Tor, and Fate Ravenglass, all women, and with the exception of Elsevier, they all talk to each other at one point or another. The main males are Sparks and BZ. This novel won the Hugo and Lotus awards, was nominated for the Nebula award, is considered a masterpiece, has frequently been said to have the depth of Dune, and spawned three sequels, one of which was also nominated for a Hugo. Had she “known her audience” and spoke only to them, we wouldn’t have this story.

I think there is wisdom in knowing who your audience is, but in speaking only to them, you doom your book to niche appeal, you cut out others, and you alienate the experience. Nobody knows when a trend or fad will start. By not trying, by not reaching, by not stretching, you limit yourself, your creativity, and your potential audience, based on a preconceived notion.

7 Writing Rules: #6 Write What You Know

•February 7, 2017 • Leave a Comment

This is good advice when you are writing historical fiction, a biography, stereo instructions, or a dissertation on medieval warfare with an emphasis on piercing head injuries. If you are using any of these things, do your damned research and then write what you know.

However, I like fantasy and contemporary fantasy and things in that strain. That being said, you can’t ignore the laws of physics entirely, or you need to make your exceptions to that based in fact. When you change things or explain them with magic, you must know the rules of what you are changing, and you must be consistent and build your fiction accordingly.

I think another, perhaps better way of putting this world is that you have to know what you are talking about. If, for instance, you want to make a breed of troll that originated from sharks interbreeding with moles (I’m making this up as I go along. Don’t judge.), you can work all the magic you need, but you have to know the source material. Do your research on sharks and moles. Since trolls are typically not good with the sunlight, you can think of ways to implement these into something new while using a trope. Since trolls are out at night, you could give them boring night vision, or spruce it up a little. You could have the trolls navigate by an electrical sense like sharks with their ampullae of Lorenzini, but have limited vision like moles…you had better know what those are and how to implement them and how to explain them. You are using the different parts of these animals — also known as writing what you know — to create something new, or something old with a new flavor.

Stephen King (I believe) uses the example of a plumber who wants to write science fiction. I’m elaborating here, but stick with me. The writer knows plumbing, so this imaginary person would write a novel about a plumber recruited to perform routine maintenance on a starship…that then gets captured by a hostile alien race. Using his knowledge of all things pipes and using the aliens’ disregard for a simple maintenance worker (who may not smell too good after a mishap with a broken pipe), he saves everyone, blah, blah, blah. This imaginary writer uses what he knows to produce something that sounds at least interesting.

What you shouldn’t do, for instance, is try to write an alternative history of Henry VIII’s reign from the viewpoint of Anne Boleyn actually being a witch…and make her the fifth wife. Or saying that she lived in the Tuscan court where she was a child bride to the court jester who taught her magic and how to shuck clams with her teeth. (Anyone who knows anything about Anne Boleyn just had a seizure. We will wait for them to revive.) Or write about a gravity-immune pig who poops edible figs and speaks only in backwards limericks…who breathes under water and has poisonous wing tips.

Write what you know. Use what you know to enhance your story, but feel free to change it and play with it while sticking to the rules. Don’t pull an edible fig from your backside and present it as roast pheasant. That’s just absurd.

7 Writing Rules: #5 Avoid Reviews

•January 30, 2017 • Leave a Comment

Some people say that reading reviews can help to give you a pick me up (the good ones) or can serve as an indication of things you can improve on (both good and bad) or that you can take the criticism and toughen yourself up (the bad). There is truth in this, but I wouldn’t recommend it. In fact, if you absolutely have to read reviews of your book, start with Amazon, or see which official critics in your genre might have reviewed it and read them. Are they always right? Nope. Are they often unfair? They sure are. Is there anything you can do about it? Nope.

Let’s get this out of the way here and now. If you are an author or you are thinking of being one, prepare to let go of Goodreads, if you happen to have an attachment to it. The vitriol on that site is not only unbecoming, it’s overwhelming. There are some amazing people who put their hearts and souls into their honest, mature reviews, and to those people I apologize for saying this. However, the entire basket has been spoiled almost beyond redemption by those who imagine that authors are not people, that real analysis or reviews are secondary to their attempts to be hostile and hateful, and that the whole point of a review is to be as sarcastic and degrading as possible.

Example: Joan D. Vinge’s novel The Snow Queen won the Hugo Award for best science fiction novel the year it came out. One man reviewed it on Goodreads saying, “Women can’t write science fiction, and I’ll fuck anyone who says differently.” The rest of his review went on to dissolve any notions that this was meant to be some sort of joke.

Example: Some remedial hag reviewed Bram Stoker’s Dracula, giving it one star because she “hates epistolary novels.” She went on to claim that this classic was overrated and stupid because of this one thing…then admitted to not finishing it.

Have you ever read the comments section of the average Yahoo article? Do it. There comes a point when some people cross the line into being a contrarian, where they must always be against something. You could have an article about a man rescuing an abandoned puppy from drowning in a storm drain, and you will get a variety of reactions: most would laud the man for his compassion and/or curse the original owners for not taking proper are of the puppy. However, there will be some who turn it into a political debate. There are others who say that writing that article was a waste of time because there are more important things out there. There are then the obvious sociopaths who talk about how the man should have let the puppy die because of overpopulation, because of evolutionary law, or because they hate dogs. Others will criticize the man for not minding his business.

Goodreads is disproportionately full of these last types of people. Essentially, these people are trolling. Reviews can be good. They can teach you things, but they can also tear you apart. It’s not about being weak or having a thick skin, it’s about not letting that interfere with you. More than anything, it’s about trusting yourself, your muse, your publisher, your well-chosen and honest beta readers, and your loved ones. If there’s something wrong with the novel, it is your job and the job of those people I just mentioned to tell you and help you through it.

Avoid the reviews. Trust yourself and your support system, not some stranger who simply wants to seem clever or to release aggression or to be a contrarian troll. You are better than that and don’t need that validation.