grinninfoole: (Default)
I started taking sertraline back in 2011 when I hit a serious depressive spell. I stopped last autumn quite abruptly when I ran out of pills in Andover, and didn't have any easy way to refill them. Apparently, 'cold turkey' is not the recommended way to go off mood stabilizers, as I felt really weird for about a month or two. My doctor was aghast when I told her.

Still, it was done, and I noticed some major changes: my moods were much more variable than I was accustomed to. I felt, at times, ebullient and, at others, deeply sad. All would wash over me like a wave and like a wave all would pass. My libido was more powerful and more insistent. This was all acceptable, even desirable, but I also found that I would fly into rages like I hadn't in years, and over trivial matters. I'd get frustrated with something in the kitchen at Mom's house, for example, and I'd be tossing things about, banging pot lids, and swearing up a storm. It was embarrassing for me, and upsetting for Mom. So, about two weeks ago, I started in again on the sertraline. I'm only taking 25 mg a day, but the way it has muted the emotional color in my life has been quite noticeable. Over the past week, I have been settling into a mild depression, a dysthymia, that makes it hard to take care of business–which is particularly embarrassing when I have no business but my own. Still, I'm holding my temper in the manner to which I have grown accustomed, and that's worth it.
grinninfoole: (strangelove)
Alas, she does not feel about me like I feel about her. I do wonder if this is indicative of some personal flaw that I must address, or if my sample size is simply too small. As with many things in life, rejection is an inevitable part of the process. Food for thought in 2015.

For now, what matters is I spoke my mind fully and well, and I'm the better for it.
grinninfoole: (strangelove)
OK, I found a work around for the glitch in the LJ app on my iPad, so I can write this post and see it at the same time. Much better.

I'm in Andover, visiting with my mother and brother as has become my wont. My brother has another chemo appointment tomorrow, and I'll be accompanying him. Assuming that he find this as tolerable as the last one, it will be the start of an ongoing series of treatments.

I have spent about three months of this year back here, lending what support I can. Besides cutting into my income, it's changed the situation at the store significantly. Back in May, when my brother was first diagnosed, I was here for most of the month to rally round the flag, and then my father died, so I wound up not working that entire month. While I was away, it became clear that the fellow managing the store was derelict in his duties and, worse, lying to the board about it. So, the first day I came back, he was fired and Lefty took over again as store manager (he's been coming up every week from New York), and we began this intense process of damage control to get the delinquent bills paid. It was a difficult couple of months, but we got things back on track, and we started grooming me to take over as store manager.

And then we found out that the doctors at MGH had been really wrong about Dave's condition. September was tumultuous, and we tried to find a way to tag-team running the store with each of us doing it part-time, but it just didn't work. So, while I'm still working at the store, I have stepped down as a manager, gone back to working hourly, and taking a pay cut. We have put out a call for applicants to manage the Northampton store, and I'll help train them up to the job, when I'm not out here.

I hope that my brother and I might take some fun trips together soon. I'm particularly thinking of Hawaii and then New Zealand, but sojourns to New York or Chicago also sound good.

I have been thinking about what to do with myself, given that I have more time on my hands, and what sort of goals I should pursue since throwing myself into work isn't really an option just now. It's lead me to wonder what it is that dedicated creative types have that I don't. One answer that has occurred is a social infrastructure that promotes writing, drawing, etc. and I think I might have stumbled into one just now around my new radio show.

Yes, I have a radio show, Civil Politics, on Valley Free Radio (WXOJ-LP, 103.3 FM for those of you in western MA) every Friday at 7 PM. I'm the host, and George Claxton and Susan Timberlake are the commenters, and we talk about political issues. We're less concerned with the tribal squabbles of our two parties, and more with what politics is about: competing interests, social problems, moral values, and finding ways to get along with each other. We must have 3 or 4 listeners already! (The show is available for streaming, and we're recording them as podcasts, which are online at civilpolitics.wordpress.com) I quite like doing the show, and I think it's an important set of discussions to have, one that more widely known media don't actually do. I have yet to listen to any of them again, but I will do, because I want to get better at it.
grinninfoole: (Default)

Today is a day to support people coming out and proclaiming their sexual identity to the world. Gay, lesbian, bi, or some other label; trans- or cis- gendered; celibate, monogamous, polyamorous, or whatever else. This is a time for people to step forward and push back against the mass of society trying to stifle their joy, their love, their relationships, their choices, and the bedrock truth of their lives. It's also a time for those of us who care for those people, and those of us who believe in liberty, to speak up in affirmation.

So that's what I am doing now. I'm going to come out as heterosexual, cisgendered, and basically monogamous (though poly curious). I like women. I emotionally identify with them. I find many of them sexy. I tend to go for paler skin and skinny (like our advertising culture uses to sell to us all). and shorter than I, though I'm by no means exclusive about this. God help me, I'm even kind of attracted to Miley Cyrus. I know that this may seem like the opposite of coming out--instead of speaking up for something repressed, I'm proclaiming something constantly validated and assumed. However, I'd like to point something out: everything I just told you about myself is a taste (or preference or orientation or what-have-you). Or, to put it a sexy way, a kink.

The difference between me and someone who likes rubenesque women, or bearded women, or a foot-fetishist, or a transvestite, or just about anything else, is that my kinks are common enough, and reinforced enough, that hardly anyone recognizes them as such. There's nothing weirder about wanting to suck dick than to lick pussy. Or both. Or neither. Or only with whipped cream and a cherry. Heck, I find the poo, pain and/or blood kinks disturbing, but that really is just me. The consenting adults can do their thing with my blessing (though, please, no poo in my whipped cream, OK?) Double heck, even the folks with non-consensual urges like pedophilia aren't that different from me in their feelings. The damage comes from acting on those feelings, and I feel sympathy for anyone struggling to live a full human life while protecting others from those impulses, and I think we should do more as a collective to help them do so.

(Honestly, while I agree that sexuality is largely, if not completely, orientational and that 'gay reparative' therapy is therefore misguided, I do hope that it isn't completely so, that there we can make meaningful choices about our sexual feelings, because I'd like to think that pedophilically inclined people can choose to grow into something healthier. And, yes, I know that homosexuality and pedophilia are completely different things, and I'm not trying to morally equate them. I just made a logical leap.)

All of us, when you strip away our street clothes and public manners and let us rock out with our metaphorical cocks out, can be weird, gross, amazing, tender, inappropriate, transgressive, and awesome. It's best when we can do it with love and kindness, and it's so much easier to do that when we can be out and proud about who we really are, whoever that is, because there are people out there who are just what we're looking for, and who are looking for us, too.

So happy coming out day, everyone. May we all love long, and prosper.

grinninfoole: (Default)
I have taken this week off from work, in the hopes of clearing my head and getting a better handle on managing my life in light of the problems with my parents' health.  I seem to need some help, too.

It's an ongoing grieving process as they fail and die on the installment plan.  My Dad is slipping slowly.  His mental acuity has declined, so that he's much like the other human ghosts in the home, and he's physically much less steady on his feet.  Soon, I think, even a walker won't be sufficient.

Mom has returned to the rehab hospital, and hopefully will not bounce back to the hospital for more acute care.  The good news is that she is definitely recovering from the back surgery: she can sit up without pain, her legs don't hurt, she doesn't look so washed out.  The bad news is that she's despondent and a bit confused. She's not remembering new people well, and she's asking me about driving back to Maine or called M by the wrong name.  It's too early to despair, but this is what Dad's dementia was like at the beginning.

On top of that, I'm worried about what we are going to do in the longer term.  Mom will, I hope, go back home by the end of the month, but I don't know how mobile she'll be.  We have arranged for some in home care for now, but in the longer term, if Mom needs a walker that house becomes very difficult for her, and impossible if she's in a wheelchair.  Finding a new house is something we have all acknowledged will be useful, but I'm at a loss for driving the process forward.  I'm more reactive than strategic in my thinking, and that's a weakness in this context.  The stress of confronting a problem whose limits I can't define, the next step for which I can't see clearly, and the consequences thereof could be severe for my family, eats at me.

Personally, I had a terrible job review last week.  Honestly, it was more of an intervention.  I have, apparently, gone from being a great ASM to a bad one because of the stress and worry and sadness I'm dealing with.  This is not merely a knotty problem, or an extended crisis, it's a protracted grieving process.  Apparently, it's leading me to be short with customers and employees, which cannot stand.  I'm definitely forgetting things as they slide through my ADD brain without sticking.

The worst thing about it, though, was not hearing that I need to straighten up and fly right.  I have heard such things before, and while I'm somewhat chagrined that I need to be told, it's sadly part and parcel of ADD.  No, the worst was realizing that I needed help, and that these three people in what was ostensibly a professional context were going far beyond the call of duty to throw me a lifeline. 

I'm ashamed that I let things get so bad they had to step in.  I'm ashamed I didn't ask for help sooner.  I'm especially ashamed at how Lefty, who I honestly feel like I can annoy at any moment without meaning to, made it very clear that he trusts and respects me professionally.  (He even offered me a job as his full-time #2 again with the NY store.  O.o)
EDIT: It occurs to me that I suffer from the fond delusion that I'm a bit like the Doctor: the compassionate madcap who pops out of the background from time to time, helps people, and then disappears while folks shrug and get on with things.  

I guess this sort of distress is hard for me to notice. Instead of causing pain, it causes numbness.  I'm going to have to do better in keeping it in mind.  I need to work on re-establishing and maintaining my domestic routines, which will help me keep it together.

Which is my project for this week. So far, I'm off to a crappy start, with dozing away much of yesterday and today, but I have at least paid some bills, done some cleaning, and seen my therapist.  I'm going to call a personal organizer to come and help me set up some systems to better control the chaos towards which I tend.  I also could definitely use help from friends.  If any of you would care to come by and help me sort through the clutter, I'd appreciate it, especially if you could come over and help me sort comics perhaps tomorrow evening?
grinninfoole: (Default)
1) This coming Saturday will be the second Paint & Pixel Festival.  I've managed to arrange programming this year, which is good, but I still feel like I did a slap-dash job, and kind of guilty about it.  Peggy continues to impress with her passion and capability. 

We're hosting comics workshops for kids at the store as part of the build up to the show.  Colin, the education guy, has done a great job setting these up and running them.  Peggy also sponsored a couple of movie nights at Popcorn Noir, the next of which is the Muppet Movie on Thursday..... which will conflict with my Deadlands game.  aargh!

Oh, and there's a filk band performing in the Mythos on Monday at 7, which could conflict with dinner plans!  double argh!

2) On columbus day, M and I went to NYC, met with the Ladies of Brattleboro for dinner at the Green Table, and then went to see Sleep No More, which is an extraordinary experience in immersive theater.  One is given a mask & enjoined not to speak, and for up to 3 hours one wonders around inside a warehouse of four or five stories where a troop of interpretive dancers performs something inspired by Macbeth.  One can explore the trappings of the set as much as one wishes, or follow performers around or hang out in the lounge.  It's a choose your own adventure style of show, though only as an observer.   I wound up following one stunning beautiful woman around for a while, and wound up getting whisked into a locked room for a short private performance that, while a scripted part of the show, was quite intimate and moving.  Which, if you are thinking of something sexual, is completely wrong--yet it felt like everything you would fantasize about.  A great experience which was well worth the cost.  I plan to go back at some point.

3) My mom is still in a rehab hospital, still in real pain, but I think getting better.  I hope.  Dad is still slipping away a bit at a time.

4) I drove back to Andover last night, couldn't sleep, and watched the Matrix Reloaded on demand.  It's better than I recalled.  The talky scenes make more sense when I can process the sometimes ornate and philosophical dialog, and some of the WTF plot twists actual do make some logical sense.  The biggest weakness that remains, for me, are the pointless action scenes.  The first Matrix was good in part because all the fight scenes served the story, developed character, and looked cool.  In Reloaded, there a couple of set pieces that just take up time. If the Wachowskis had done more with them, they'd have greatly improved the movie.  (Three examples: the introductory fight with Seraph--what does tussling with Neo for two minutes tell him, or us, that we don't know?; then. the  big fight scene with a crowd of Agent Smiths drags on; and the fight with the Merovingian's goons in his foyer is designed to waste Neo's time, but must it waste ours?  What's the point of another display of kung fu?  Are these guys really as challenging as the huge crowd of Agent Smiths?)  On the whole, I stick by some of my earlier criticisms, but I have to upgrade my rating of the film.

5) Sometimes I'm fine, and sometimes the depression gets to me.  I need to spend more time with friends.  I clearly need that.

6) Had an interesting talk with Morlock about making changes in my life. He pointed out that I'm still struggling with some of the same questions that bugged me years ago.  Maybe, he suggested, I need new questions.  hmmmmmmmmmmm.

7) 2013 must be the year I learn to budget.  Just because my desires have heretofore not exceeded my means, doesn't mean those means are inexhaustible. I must get the hang of identifying priorities, choosing amongst them, and then setting aside the others while resisting impulsive spending.  Good grief!
grinninfoole: (Default)
I had a long talk with the Morlock this evening, commiserating about his recent reversal of fortune, the prospects for President Obama's re-election, whether Marvel comics is totally out of ideas or not, race vs class warfare, employee relations, and what the fuck is wrong with rich people?

Along the way, he called me out on being a good person, and I was more or less OK with it.  I'm uncomfortable with simply asserting "I am a good person", lest I become Jane Eyre's aunt, but I do make a conscious effort to fit the criteria for moral goodness, which to my mind means 'courteous, humble, compassionate, diffident, reflective, curious, funny, and generous'.  I have achieved some success in my efforts, and several of you have been kind enough to validate me over the years, much to my discomfort.

One of the things I admire about Grounded is that, in surviving a difficult childhood, she granted herself permission to believe in her own self-worth.  She's far from arrogant, but she is very comfortable with who she is, the life she lives, and what she wants.  My own path has been somewhat different, and there are different pitfalls that I have had to navigate (a topic for another post), but I think I might be ready to start giving myself that same permission.  I hope that I shall not fall in complacency.

For my next trick, I'll come up with a blurb for myself so I can maybe start dating or something.
grinninfoole: (Default)
Or, in my case, not so much.

Hurricane Irene, which did enormous damage in the Caribbean, was barely a tropical storm by the time it got to my house.  Virginia, New Jersey, New York, Vermont, even nearby towns in Massachusetts, have all had dangerous floods.  Fortunately for me personally, my house is near the top of a hill with excellent drainage, so I'm basically OK.  M and I got some groceries and extra batteries, and spent a few hours making food that we could have if we lost power for a while. 

And we did lose power at about 9 AM. 

It was back on before 10 AM, and we haven't had any problems since.  For us, it was just a cloudy, blustery, rainy summer's day.  It cleared up after  4 PM, and we went for a walk.


Some more general stuff about me and my life:

1) I hemmed and hawed from March to July about my job. On the one hand, I have a job that's reasonably fun, at which I'm reasonably good (and experienced) and which has several attractive perks (wholesale cost graphic novels and games, running D&D games professionally, serious nerd cred, lots of time around things I love), but which pays poorly.  On the other, I love teaching, almost any teaching job would pay at least 40% more (and could easily reach 100%), and teaching has a social cachet that retail store clerk does not.  However, searching for a teaching job requires the same mental and emotional resources as research did in grad school, and that's hard for me.  Plus, this is a bad job market.

After careful reflection, I decided to ask for a raise at Modern Myths, and to stay if i got it.  After some awkward negotiations (salary negotiations require a somewhat different approach from home purchasing negotiations), I got a raise that met my minimum requirements.  After a month of the new regime, I am pleased with my choice.  I have found MG a pleasure to work with/for, I'm getting more free weekends (and more latitude in my hours in other ways), I'm finding the new mix of responsibility and autonomy energizing, and the opportunities for personal and professional growth open at the store right now (as JC starts up a store in New York) must be seized now or not at all.  Everything that's appealing about teaching will still be there in, say, two years (assuming society doesn't implode).

2) Millari and I continue to share the house we bought together.  We continue to be best of friends, and good housemates.  She was away for about a month this summer, visiting her girl in Germany, and I found living alone to be difficult at times (especially when I got sick), but also to have its attractions.  The biggest surprise for me has been that I would often prefer to go home and watch TV alone, rather than go out and see people.  I don't know if that's a genuine personality trait (given my father & brother's dispositions, it might be), or if that was an effect of depression.

Anyway, now that M is home, we have begun to discuss the painful subject of furthering our separation.  I know that it's something that I need to do, but right now it's difficult.  I'm not dating anyone yet, so I have a very comfortable home life with a beloved family member on the plus side, and no real drawbacks.  It's different for M, because she's got a girl (who is actually pretty cool), so she's got an emotional stone in her shoe to prompt her to make changes.

I have, for now at least, made a firm professional commitment, which has in turn reinforced my sense of identity.  I am loathe to undo the other mainstay of my sense of self (and, really, the best decision I think I have made heretofore in my life), but I know from experience that if I don't keep moving on this, I'll regret it later.  I just hope that I don't have to let things turn into an ugly confrontation in order to proceed, as I have seen that happen to others.  (in particular to Fran, a woman I have known since college, who used to have a lovely relationship with the woman she married, but which has curdled, to say the least.)  I would find it deeply painful if my friends found it necessary to pick sides.

3) My parents continue in declining health.  I visited on Friday and Saturday, and in addition to helping my brother make (as it turned out, unnecessary) preparations for the storm, I gave my dad a short test I found in a book M gave me about living with and caring for people with Alzheimer's.  The idea of the test is that, if the person does well, they most likely don't have it, and if they do poorly, they might.  Dad did poorly on one element (naming as many animals as he could in a minute--he got 10), but had no trouble remembering the month, day, date, year, who is and who was president; telling time on a clock face; and little trouble remembering four images of common objects that I showed him (which is fine, since he is 82).  So, it's possible he doesn't have Alzheimer's, which is great.  Except that I have no idea what the hell is wrong, or what to do about it, if he doesn't.  My loins, I must gird them.
grinninfoole: (Default)
Here's a post I started last month, that I'm going to try and finish up, reflecting on the past decade of my life.

Between a burger and pancakes. )



Well, I don't know that I have exhausted this vein, but my time is up, so I'll call it done and move on.
grinninfoole: (Pathway)
I have been meaning to post for the past week, but I haven't made the time, despite staying up late.  Well, no more.  Surely you, my myriad readers, are desperate for news of me, so here it is. 

I moved into my new space last Saturday, so it's been a week.  It still feels a bit strange, but I'm adjusted better than I feared.  I feel rested when I sleep, and I like the space, though it still looks new to my eyes, and so this still feels like a bit of an adventure.  I must keep making time for making it mine.   There shall be a place for everything, and everything shall be in its place, but I shall first have to find all the things, get rid of stuff I no longer want, and then find places for the rest.  I can do it, but I must keep plugging away, and not just allow piles to acrete.  F found the change in dad space weird for a couple of days, but now she's got it figured out.

One good thing is that I'm so far succeeding in developing a habit of exercising when I get up in the morning.  I hope to end the year feeling strong and healthy and confident.  I had a look at the online schedule for my old dojo, as I'm thinking of starting Aikido again in the spring, and I was shocked to see that Kanai sensei had died seven years ago.  I know I have been away for a while, but damn....


Scattershotness:

I'm helping to organize the Paint and Pixel Festival in April.  It's a new event to showcase the many great artists in the wilds of western New England.  I have managed to hook a couple of headliners, but now I need to follow through on spreading the word so folks actually buy some tables.  I don't have any money in this, but I'd like it to become a success.  I took this on because I kind of miss the fun of organizing 5Con, I'm looking for new things to do to reinvent myself, I figure it will look OK on my resume, and the organizer is smoking hot.  (And happily married, so there's nothing in the offing there, because I'm done with that dance, but apparently I'm still susceptible to the prickings of my libido. :)

I have some friends who are apparently struggling to pull themselves from the slough of despond, and I haven't heard much from them of late.  You guys know who you are.  I'm pulling for you.  Call when you can.

(It's quite windy with gusts up to 50 mph; earlier there was a <i>thunderstorm</i>.  In February.  Frakking global warming.)

I made really tasty stew tonight.  M and I had some after we watched Fringe.  It feels good to watch a new show and be current on it.  Fringe isn't my favorite show, but it's really well done, and I'm impressed by how well written and structured it is.

I have seen some season 1 Deep Space Nine episodes recently, because M borrowed them from a friend, and is watching them with her inamorata.  I had forgotten just how strong that show was, and how well characterized it was, right from the start.  I'll probably say more about this later.

M and I are going back east to visit my family tomorrow.  I plan to interview my dad about his life, before he either dies or becomes so senile he won't remember anything.  I hope I haven't left it too late.

Carla Speed McNeil has finally published a new Finder book, called Voice.  It's about Rachel Grosvenor, now a young woman, and her struggle to earn formal acceptance into Clan Llaverac.  Things have gone wrong, and she needs Jaeger, but he's not around, so she has to go find him.  It's superb.  Man, she really is amazing comics creator and SF writer.  With the possible exception of Stan Sakai's Usagi Yojimbo, this is the best creator-owned, one person writer/artist comic currently ongoing.  if you aren't reading yet, start now. 

I'm going to start sleeping, myself. 

Good night everyone. 
grinninfoole: (Default)
I have been rearranging my deck chairs lately, though I am making some progress on life goals.  I have re-started properly following Weight Watchers, journaling my points and considering the food I eat more carefully.  (The Kripalu 'Rain Forest' bars millari made the other day present a challenge.)  I have watched quite a bit of TV lately, though. Which isn't much for life growth, but was fun, so I shan't regret it.

Today was spent taking care of niggling things about the house, so now the front porch is clear, the big AC is finally out of the window, the hornet's nest is removed (and the window properly closed this time.)  I'm even posting to my LJ (as you can plainly see.)

I had a surprisingly helpful conversation with a customer last week, who was asking about graphic novels because she wanted to teach a class.  She turns out to teach at HCC, and had helpful advice on seeking work there, though I wish she'd written her name down as well as the other stuff.  She said I could drop her name, but since I don't remember it, I'm feeling like I can't actually do it.  It's purely a matter of me finding an excuse not to take a risk where I care about the consequences of failing, and I must shake it.  

I have moments of... not regretting, exactly, but  mourning my decision to split up with millari.  Like when I notice the absence of my wedding ring on my left hand, or today, when we were changing the sheets, and she perfectly interpreted my thinking, based on my facial expression.  

I think I shall sign up for Yuletide this year.  If I limit myself to a few fun fandoms (Leverage, Burn Notice, maybe Chuck), I think I can summon the wherewithal to squeeze out 1000 words.  And I'll be happy about it.

Anyway, I've spent more than my alloted half hour, so to bed!

P.S.  I have been meaning to mention here for at least a week: I am, apparently, a SQUARE, a total L7.  Recently, the show Glee did a version of the Rocky Horror Picture Show, and I read a great essay (that I can't find now, alas) that explained exactly why it was a travesty.  Apparently, Glee took out the word transsexual from the songs, and had a girl play Frank N. Furter, along with some other changes (perhaps removing the cannibalism?) that, this person claimed, completely flipped the point of the story, which is that, in that house, the normal, clean-cut, white-bread heterosexuals (like me) are the outsiders who don't fit in, and over the course of the movie, they discover that, much as they deny it, they actually kind of like Frank N. Furter's way of life.  

I grew up with constant reminders that I was an outsider, a weirdo who didn't fit in, so I can forget all the ways in which I so very 'establishment'.  "Still," I thought, "Brad is definitely not a gamer, would never take comics seriously, and probably never actually enjoyed learning anything.  I'm may not be Frank, or Rocky, but I'm not Brad."  And then, a friend posted THIS to her journal, a very saucy song by a man in drag about he can't wait to have penis surgically transformed into a vagina.  I watched and listened, agog, feeling a bit like that moment in Buckaroo Banzai when Christopher Lloyd proclaims: "It's not my damn planet", and finally accepted the truth:

Hi, my name's Brad and I'm quite ordinary and mainstream.  Welcome to my blog. :) 
grinninfoole: (Default)
[livejournal.com profile] morlock  also posed me some posers.  Answers below.  Let me know if you'd like to play, too.

It's all about me. (Which is how I like it.) )

grinninfoole: (Default)
[livejournal.com profile] sundart asked me some questions last month.

My answers are below the cut.  If you'd like me to ask you some questions, just ask me to do so in the comments below.

Important information about my favorite subject )

grinninfoole: (Default)
I have been looking back at 2006 while looking ahead to 2007.  We shall see where this year takes me.

First, looking back:  I completed  some of my resolutions for last year, and started others.  (click here if you'd care to see for yourself http://grinninfoole.livejournal.com/2006/01/04/) ; I have completed the primary goal of getting a job that pays adequately, working full time at Modern Myths.  After the disappointment of not getting the upcoming full-time position, Lefty and I talked about the financial particulars of how I get paid, and we have worked out an arrangement wherein I am off the books as an hourly employee, and now get guaranteed payments as an owner.  In practical terms, this means that, for about the same cost to the store, I get paid more than $1.50 more hour, which will cover the mortgage and a bit more, which I think will be adequate.  It's not a solution for the rest of my days, but this will be the first time in my life I have earned my own keep, so I claim victory and depart the field.

I have also accomplished the contingent goals of marriage and home-ownership.  The other goals are more open-ended: I didn't exercise every day last year, but I did exercise some days.  I didn't play much with Feisty, but we did get her a playmate.  I didn't write a book, but I did start writing one.  So, while I sat down to write this feeling like a failure, on reflection I see that I was actually quite successful last year.  Hurray!  And damn this self-criticism!

So, for 2007:

1) Finish my book (first draft, at least).  I have started writing a novel, probably a fantasy novel, though in heart it feels more like SF. The world needs it like a hole in the head, but I'm doing it anyway.

2) Keep exercising.

3) Stop falling back on damaging behavior when I feel upset, like eating lots of sugar and dairy.

4) Read 50 books this year.

I'd like to learn Spanish, but I don't know when I'd make the time for it, now that I'm working full-time and writing.  I list this here not as a goal, but an aspiration.  I shan't give up on this.

This goals list seems thin as I look it over.  I must give it more thought.
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I have been upset with myself for not pursuing my goals, for sliding into apathy out of fear, with the attendant disconnect that creates in myself, and in my relationship with Millari. So, here I am at the Route 9 Diner, sitting opposite my love while she shovels the weekly mountain of shit that is lesson planning, and I find myself playing solitaire rather than writing anything, despite my stated goal of writing a book this year. Whatever I am capable of in that regard, I will accomplish nothing if I do not choose to do what I have set myself to do.

So, for now, I’m writing a little something I can post to get the juices flowing. Today, I interviewed a high school student from Amherst for Kenyon College. While I cannot comment upon the complexities of admissions decision for any college, and I recall from my time on the graduate studies committee how sensitive such matters can be, I think I can say that I liked this person quite a bit, and that I hope that they wind up at Kenyon. It has, of course, led me to recall myself at that phase of my life, seventeen years ago now, and marvel at how ill-prepared I was for life, despite three years at prep school. Actually, I don’t fault Phillips for this—PA gave me a lot of latitude and excellent teaching and plenty of opportunities to do new and different things. No, the fault, dear reader, lay not in my stars but in myself. (Frankly, few people have had better stars ever, in the history of our species. It’s very easy to feel crappy about what I have done with my opportunities in life, which is another irony, given how bitterly I resisted any attempts by adults to define my “potential” and what I did with it when I was teen-ager. I must remember: most grown-ups judge without understanding anyone else, and have no interest in understanding anyone else, and the one thing that makes me better than them is my constant struggle to listen to other people.)

Anyway, I had no faith my ability to do anything well, or achieve any meaningful goal in my life. (Why? Some shit my parents dumped on me, the painful experience of having ADD without understanding that I had ADD, and probably some of my own innate pessimism. I honestly don’t know, but I do know that I have come far enough down the road that I no longer particularly care. It’s NOW that matters.) (And why am I interrupting myself parenthetically? Because it’s stream of consciousness. Which means it’s art, right?) That's still something I'm working on, but as I look back on who I was when I finished high school, I can see that I have come a long way.

And.... Millari has finished her planning and we need to leave now. And I haven’t started my book yet, yet I feel content.
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I have been wanting to post for several days, now, and feeling as though I am dropping the ball by not doing so, and now that I sit down to do so, I'm at loss for something worth typing. There are five online diaries that I read with some regularity, all of them because they are interesting and because I like the people writing them even though I have only ever met one of them. At times, though, I read them and feel like a failure, because I feel like I should be devoting my time and energy to interviewing famous people and writing lots of reviews of new books and films and gaming a lot (well, to be fair, I do spend too much energy on gaming), or making films with Dave McKean, or building a frickin' space robot.

I have to remember that, if I'm going to experience the adventure of life, I have to walk the path before me, and choose my destination. Currently, I'm doing too little of either. It's still all too easy for to pull into my shell, especially if I feel that no one is paying attention. Perhaps this is where my little interest in secrecy comes from.

Anyway, I'm off to take my next three steps (exercise; dispose of Xmas tree and buy groceries; enter more data in my how-do-I-spend my money project) and then run my game tonight. I'm excited to do that, but I'll feel a lot better if I have done enough to 'deserve' some fun. Christian moralism can fuck off with the other hypocrites, but I do like the title "Purpose Driven Life".
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Primary Goal (because other goals depend upon achieving this one):

Get a job.  More specifically, get a job that provide sufficient income to cover my half of Team Aguilar expenses.  I'm currently going to look for a teaching job, one that will allow some for personal life with Millari, and also allow me to keep working at least one day a week at Modern Myths (Wednesdays would be best.)

Subsequent Goals:

Buy a new home with Millari.  Beyond the money, this is complicated by the possible softening of the housing market, and  our ability to find a home we like, where we like, that we can afford.

Get married.  In many ways, the easiest of all, complicated by the fact that I want to have a lot of people there when I get married, and how do we pay for that, and when and where do we have it?

Non-Contingent Goals:

Write a book.  I don't know right now if I want to write a novel, or perhaps a history.  I have a few ideas which sound exciting to me, before I commit myself to actually doing any of them, but while this goal does involve some soul-searching, it's otherwise entirely under my control.

Play with Feisty for at least 10 minutes every day.

Exercise, at least 10 minutes every day.

Take Dancing Lessons with M on Thursday nights.

Learn Spanish







Looking over last year's goals, I see that I am repeating myself more than I'd like.  I wanted to learn to speak Spanish, and to dance, and to write a book, last year.  I did nothing whatever to accomplish these things.  On the other hand, I have gotten my MA, made a lot of progress on my intimacy issues, proposed to Millari, become more financially independent, and I have started to plan the wedding.  I shall review my progress in a month.

Coincidentally, I post this exactly a year after last year's goals.  I am shocked that Will Eisner has been dead for a year, now.
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I have been looking at the LJs of a few US soldiers posted in Iraq. I am very glad that I am not there. Ordinary life has left enough emotional scars for me, I'm glad I haven't had to shoot anyone. (or get shot, for that matter.) I am troubled by my sense that expressing a willingness to listen to someone's service stories will come across as ghoulish, though. I'd like to think I can genuinely empathize with any human experience, even if it's one I haven't shared.

I appreciate anew my mother for her strength of character in raising me. My father, her father, and some of her so-called friends all had very little respect for her opinions and feelings, and I am profoundly grateful that was able to cope with all of their bullshit without taking it out on me, or drinking too much, or popping pills. Now, however, I feel guilty for not doing more to make her life easier, but I honestly feel that the biggest stressor she faces is my Dad's white-knuckled grip on his emotional equilibrium. Everything and anything is a crisis, and he unthinkingly carries on as if his distress excuses him from considering how others feel, especially my mom. Every time I talk to her and she's having a bad day, it's because his tantrums have tired her out. I can't make him stop and I can't give her more self-confidence so she can tune him out, but I feel bad for not doing more.

I may well have an extension for my school work, after all. Go figure.

I still have not seen, but wish to see, Farenheit 9/11. I suspect, however, that the documentary folks should have been paying attention to, though, is the Hunting of the President. Yeah, it's about Clinton, but damn, people, most of those fuckers are right there with Bush, today.

Going away on a trip to England and France soon. I hope all goes well.

Looks like I won't get to go to Gencon, after all. A bummer, but I won't mind the extra writing time.

Feisty has really taken to sitting with me when I use the computer: crouching on the computer table, perching on the window sill, or sitting on the other chair. Sometimes, she meows at me. She's such a sweetie, I'll miss her while I'm away. Must make arrangements for her for those days. (Yet another reason to miss Filthyassistant.)

Speaking of FA, I had occasion to reflect upon our time together as roommates, and to consider what a lousy job of setting up personal boundaries I did. I can't recall the number of times she asked me simple questions like "when will you be home? Would you like me to make us dinner?" to which I couldn't give straight answers. In retrospect, I was a big pain to live with. I guess Feisty is even more charming than I had realized. :)
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I have been playing RPGs since I was 10, and over most of that time, they have been a major source of comfort when I was stressed and unhappy, which was almost constantly in my childhood and adolescence. So, I'm not surprised that I have been thinking about gaming a lot these past days. Sometimes it's the creative, interesting game-thought, like wondering if Jordan Melhedan would be able to connect the dots enough to ask Sabbath what happened to his father, and what would happen if he did. When I'm really struggling with my feelings, I shut them down, and then I wind up just crunching game stats in my head, over and over, like Humphrey Bogart with the ball-bearings. This often impedes my ability to concentrate and, in this case, work on the school project that is the cause of my stress in the first place.

Today, things are a bit different. I also have to finish my comps, and that means an exam and an oral defense, a meeting with three professors that depends upon all of us being there in the room together. John, it seems, can't do it at the end of August, and I can't do it earlier, because I'll be away. It must be done by August 31, however, because my eligibility ends that day, and it's too late for to try to extend it, aside from the hoops that would involve. Larry, however, seems to have already set the wheels in motion to get me another semester. This is a great weight off my mind, and I feel good about that.

The problem is it's 1:30 in the afternoon, I have been up since 9 am, and this post is the most useful thing I have done today. (OK, I re-read Mona Lisa Overdrive and a bit of Neuromancer. Wow, what a difference 20 years makes. Then, too, remember what computers and the net were like back in 80s?) It's hard to get my shit together without a sting of fear to drive me.

So, I'm going to go out, have breakfast, go to UMass and see if I really can get this extension, and then come home and write an intro to the fucking paper. No therapy tonight, so I should have enough time.

Happy things: Feisty has taken to sprawling across the table between keyboard and screen. She's so beautiful and happy to be with me, it really makes my heart catch a little.

OH, and Syd, I found the hedgehog you gave me. He's perched, too. Yay for mascots!
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I would just like to begin by observing that, had I been writing the first version of this post on my mac, I would never have lost it because of the computer randomly freezing as I tried to post.


Yesterday, I came to a realization: the rest of you don’t think the same way I do. I realize that that idea probably keeps some of you warm at night, and I have, for years, known that many people find me weird, but I haven’t really understood why. Yesterday, I think I have finally grasped what’s wrong with you all: you’re not literal minded enough.

When I was a child, I remember being taught about the Battles of Lexington and Concord, which began the Revolution. The first one, Lexington, started with the Shot Heard Around The World. As a child, I was fascinated by this event. How did they know that it was heard all over the world? Did they check? Did reports come in from China, or ambassadors asking ‘hey, what was that gun shot last week?’ What peculiar conditions allowed the sound of that one particular shot, as opposed to all the other shots before or since, to carry so far? Was it random, or was it somehow connected to the importance of the events that day? As a teenager, I one day realized that it was just a metaphor. I wondered why the grown ups hadn’t bothered to explain that.

This is how I think about everything I read, see, or hear. And, it’s not limited just to figures of speech. For instance, when I saw Underworld, it bothered me from the opening scene, because (apart from the cinematographer laying the mood on too thick), Kate Beckinsale drops from a church steeple over 100 to the pavement below. And no one notices. Moreover, OK, she’s undead, it doesn’t hurt her, fine, but unless she ways next to nothing, the force of her impact should have shattered the concrete slab upon which she lands. And could those cute boots of hers really stand up to that impact? I bet that didn’t bother most of you, but it drove me nuts.

I think that this mental quirk is connected to my ADD, which is, after all, just jargon for ‘my brain works abnormally.’

[Oh, and Syd, this is the heart of why I’m interested in the history and meanings of words: because quite often buried within them are literal meanings that interestingly contrast or even contradict their current usage. A fabulous example is ‘manufacture’ which literally means ‘to make by hand.’]

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