Wednesday, January 31, 2018

The power of kindness

I have been thinking about comic book origins besides The Crow.

I recently got to read a collection of classic The Champions (Marvel), featuring Hercules, Ghost Rider, Iceman, Angel, Black Widow, and some Dark Star, which is why I had been interested in the first place. I'll get to that.

The first arc threw me, because there were Hercules and Hippolyta, and those are DC characters too, with similarities and differences. Okay, these are the Marvel versions, and they aren't quite like their Roman versions either. No surprises there.

(I just saw Thor: Ragnarok so thinking about mythology as reinterpreted by comic books is its own topic.)

The team origins were interesting, in that the intent was to be there for the little guy, instead of fighting all of these epic battles, and then they kept fighting epic battles. I wondered if maybe they were trying to do what Heroes for Hire did, except that the Heroes for Hire arcs I have read have all been pretty epic too. I have seen one scene of four people working out of a small office, and that was in a Spiderman collection, and they were not the only guests in that story.

Doing some research, well, if Champions was not in line with their stated goal, they were even farther from the original vision. Tony Isabella had wanted it to be two superheroes on the road, like the television show Route 66. It ended up being more of a team book, under some pressure, with specific criteria for what types needed to fill out the team.

This was also the first I had read of Ghost Rider, and there was some interesting information there too.

Tony Isabella had introduced a character called The Friend who was basically a hippie Jesus, though not identified by name. Given Ghost Rider's origins and conflict, that was not an unreasonable inclusion, and it was important to Isabella specifically because there was a lot of infernal representation but nothing celestial. An assistant editor got offended and changed it so that the friend was revealed as a demon in disguise.

"To this day, I consider what he did to my story one of the three most arrogant and wrongheaded actions I've ever seen from an editor."

There are some frustrations to working for the big comic houses, but there are for anything.

Something else unexpected was that I associated the series with Bill Mantlo. He worked on several issues, but some of that may have been that a lot of different creators were rotated in, at least partially because the series was always running late. I can't help but wonder if the deadline issues came from the interference and frustrations of the creators. That could make it hard to keep a team going. All of the subs wouldn't necessarily be great for continuity or quality either, but it could be a great place to cut teeth and expand abilities. There are silver linings.

Those are all just kind of interesting things for me, but there is also a story about how I even came to read it.

The book was a gift from Brian. I met Brian through Twitter, but that was because of Murilo, which was only because of Moon and Ba, because of The Umbrella Academy. Nonetheless, I was once able to update a booth location for Murilo, and Brian is a friend, and has given me comics advice.

Brian knew that I wanted the book because of Gin, who is always trying to get people helping each other, but that included having people share their Amazon wish lists around Christmas, because maybe we could give to each other. I think that's why he originally saw that I wanted it, but he remembered because I liked a post of his about Mantlo's birthday.

Beyond that, I had put that specific issue on my wish list because of Steve Morris, who writes about comics and loves Dark Star, and had posted good issues for reading more about her. There were things I could find and things I couldn't. The Champions Classic can be hard to find, but Brian had a copy, and he was willing to give it to me.

Yesterday's post probably needed a conclusion, about how life is messy, and being human is hard. Sometimes we find our balance by shifting too far in every direction and correcting as we can, so sometimes anger is needed, and maybe even hate, or selfishness, even if there are not areas where we should spend too much time hanging out.

We can make that easier for each other. It's easy to worry about all that we can't do, but that's a waste of time because fairly small things, like likes and retweets and taking a moment to look something up can be huge.

It would be easy to miss too, but that it is a great loss. It is so valuable to look and see that there is a person, a potential friend, a human being, a child of God, a sibling of your spirit. Great things start with just being able to see that.

Tuesday, January 30, 2018

The power of not hate

I hope yesterday didn't sound like I am in favor of hate and anger as long-term strategies. If that wasn't clear enough, let me talk about The Crow for a little bit.

I have not seen the movie (though I have seen some riveting clips set to music). I have been reminded lately of how much it influenced people, with contemporary comic characters and Halloween costumes showing up in my timeline. I also am trying to get around to different important comics, so I went looking for the original Crow comic by James O'Barr. The library didn't have that, but they did have an anthology that looked interesting, so I checked it out.

The Crow: Shattered Lives & Broken Dreams, edited by James O'Barr and Edward E. Kramer.

That title is pretty descriptive, but I thought it would be more comics. Instead it was short stories, poetry, and artwork. Also, some of the contributors were really interesting to me, especially Henry Rollins.

I love his spoken word, where he is charming and funny and sweet, even though he still self-describes as angry and I believe him. I don't really like him so much as a musician, with the undiluted discordant anger. (That is more of an issue with Black Flag than his solo work, but still.) His poetry is somewhere in between, angry, but not so overwhelmingly so that you are pounded away from the message. That seems about right.

The poems were generally pretty good, but those stories were hard. Sometimes in the middle of reading one I would wonder what was wrong with this person, and then I would look up the contributor's bio, and it often made more sense. Regardless, story after story about bloody revenge for rape and murder can wear you down.

That made me start wondering more about the original source material, and the loyalty it inspired in people. A lot of these stories read as fan fiction, and Eric Draven has fans. He has lots of fans.

Digging around a little, I saw that O'Barr himself wrote the comic after his fiancee was killed by a drunk driver. He hoped it would be cathartic, but "It made me more self-destructive, if anything... There is pure anger on each page."

With the anthology, I couldn't help but notice that most often the revenge trips didn't really set things right. It multiplied the total number of deaths, but nothing was fixed or healed. I thought the purpose of coming back was to set things right.

(As it was, I think the best of the stories was "The Blood-Red Sea" by Chet Williams, where the poet Homer chooses to forgo killing his last two murderers and instead to pass on his newest poem to a new listener.)

Things may get set right in the comic and in the movie, and maybe that was part of why it resonated for people. If readers and watchers had reasons to be angry - maybe needed permission to be angry - perhaps it helped with that.

But it didn't help James O'Barr. It won't always help. But I still believe that there should be something that could help him, and I would want that for him.

This feels like a lot of beating around the bush. Let me see if I can find a point.

I often will say that something is worth thinking about or needs to be thought about. I refrain from saying what the conclusion of the thoughts should be. That would often take a value judgment, which I try not to overdo, but also, sometimes you might reject something that you are simply told, but find its truthfulness by following a path that leads to it.

The need to think about things isn't anything new - we attribute "The unexamined life is not worth living" to Socrates - but what should we be examining?

Here is my value judgment: we should be looking for what is true, and what will make us happy.

People can wax very philosophical about truth. I acknowledge that there are things we can't know, and things we shouldn't know yet, but I believe in science and I believe in logic and I believe in the Holy Ghost, and I say that there is a lot we can know and we should live up to that.

People can be very skeptical about happiness, and there are reasons for that. I think about it more now because I am becoming more aware of people who specifically reject it. That's not that they know they have to give up something that stands in the way of their happiness, but that they specifically choose being unhappy because it seems stronger or smarter or something. That tends to increase the misery of others in multiple ways. Don't do that.

Anyway, think about it.

Monday, January 29, 2018

The power of hate

While I think my urgent desires to bake for the neighbors and deliver emergency goods to the homeless may have reflected a subconscious concern about losing my sense of charity, they were subconscious at best.

On a more deliberate level, when I remember to meditate I am more likely to choose to do a loving-kindness meditation. It is kind of the one that works best for me, but also I don't think it hurts to think about different friends, family members, or acquaintances and to think about them being well, and safe, and living with ease.

That may have made it even more surprising when I found myself reveling in thinking "I hate my family!"

I don't, really, and I know that I don't. That's what I told myself the first time the thought came, but it persisted, and it felt exhilarating. So I thought it louder, and louder, multiple times. So later, at the dinner table, and frustrated again, it was very easy to just think "I hate you all".

I know. This is not amiable.

And I don't like that it's not accurate. Precise communication is important to me, because there is so much that gets misunderstood and miscommunicated already, and I like words and understanding, so I don't want to be a part of the problem. I suppose some of it is connotation.

When teenagers scream "I hate you!" to their parents, it is generally understood that this is not a well-thought out statement of belief, but a sloppy expression of anger and strong feelings, not necessarily completely pointed in the right direction. I know that, and I could recognize my thoughts as just general bad feelings exacerbated by the relatives. My general philosophy is that I should be exploring those feelings, but there's no exhilaration there. Frankly, I'm due for some.

It felt good to put it on them. It wasn't even really on them, because it was just thought and not spoken.

It made more sense later, after another exchange of words.

First of all, I sacrifice a lot for my family. It is more obvious now, with the care-taking, but I have put the needs of others before my own for many years. There have been benefits all along, but especially now - since everyone loves our mother - there should be some acknowledgment and gratitude that what I am doing is good for her, and better for her than various other options would be.

Not only do I not get that - instead getting a lot of blame and resentment - I frequently get this retort when I try and point out that some people have it pretty good: "I work."

You work? I never stop working! I put up with so much, not perfectly, no, but so much more than they even try to manage, and they are still critical of me when I am a freaking hero!

I just broke through somewhere. People (not family members) have tried to tell me before how they don't know how I do it, and I am amazing, and all of these things, and I have shrugged them off, because you are supposed to be modest, and I am only trying to do what's best. Except, lot's of people don't try to do what's best, or they fail harder, and yeah, actually I am doing pretty well.

So I think what embracing the hate did was allowed me to be angry with my family for sucking, which is not all they do, but is nonetheless something that they do a lot.

I have written before about always feeling like there was something wrong with me. I'd identified at least part of that as being because my father was never happy with any of us, and that was not us, it was him. Mentally I was at least partly there, but I hadn't realized how much I was still letting everything be my fault for everyone else. It's not.

I won't deny there's some danger here. If I decide everything is everyone else's fault, and everyone else is bad, that way lies psychopathy. That's not really what is needed.

I have been such a good girl for so long trying to do so many good things. There can be good motivations for that, but hoping to earn the kindness of selfish people is a fool's game.

I have been carrying this burden around where it has always felt like my job to fix everything, and knowing that I couldn't never really took the burden off. The intellectual only gets you so far. But the anger, and the hate, seems to have worked. Something is repaired.

It's questionable how much it will lead me to act differently. Certain family obligations are still necessary, at least while Mom is alive, and even after that, there are the pets. And, I don't truly hate them, most of the time.

Ages ago, when I was trying to figure out what I needed, I wanted to be able to see the good in myself. I could look at it, but I couldn't really feel it, because I was hanging on to this false sense of wrong about myself.

That appears to be fixed now, and it may have taken giving into the dark side to get there.

Who knew?

Friday, January 26, 2018

Concert Review: Trans-Siberian Orchestra

I attended the concert in Seattle on Thanksgiving weekend.

Before my computer issues, I had thought that I might write about the concert as a Christmas attraction - since there are annual tours - and put it on the travel blog instead. Then, as I was trying to keep things going on the dying laptop, I thought I do a regular concert review, until everything gave out and there was no blogging for a month.

The thing is, they are kind of different, and though I had never seen them before, there were probably things about this year that were different. Plus I really want to gripe about the venue.

So I am going to go over the musical part today, and focus on the venue tomorrow.

I was thinking more about how the performance would go because of found Paul O'Neill's death. Some people had been wondering how that would change things. I was thinking that it was probably more like touring with a Broadway show than being in a band. Changes would be fairly normal in that context.

However, he must have been a guiding influence. How much of this year's show had he arranged? How will it affect future shows?

Still, during the concert itself I could see interactions on the stage that were very much traditional rock performance. Yes, there is a plot, and a backup orchestra and narrator and a lot of other things to make it different, but there are still guitarists and vocalists and percussion playing off of each other. Except that apparently O'Neill was on the East Coast tour and I was watching the West Coast group, so that could have been another source of difference there.

It may make the most sense to decide that TSO are their own thing, with elements that are familiar from other performing arts combined in their own way. A lot of the differences that I had thought could come into play might only be noticed by fans.

As it was, this concert seemed to combine parts of older tours and albums. There was a plot, but There was stuff before it and through it and around it that did not necessarily seem to relate to the plot. Apparently the previous show it was based on was a "Best of" show, so that makes sense.

That is speaking only of the first TSO show, because after that there was a short break and then another full performance. I had thought that was Savatage, but apparently it is still TSO.

I had known that was a thing, but I had assumed that the Savatage performance would be more stripped down. Somewhat, but not really. There was still video and orchestral accompaniment, and moving stage equipment and there were pyrotechnics. To be fair, lots of rock bands do those things. It kind of begs the question of why to have both shows, but maybe they just like it that way. Or maybe they need the break and that's a convenient excuse to give one. Maybe it is a way of segregating the definitely Christmas from the less necessarily Christmas.

All of this is a lot about my thoughts, and not really my feelings, which it is only fair to give. The truth is, my feelings are mixed.

There is a lot of spectacle there, and they go all out in putting on the show. When I considered putting the show on the travel blog, it made sense as a Christmas attraction. There are people who go to see The Nutcracker every year, but there are also people who see it as a thing to do sometimes, or at least once, and I can totally imagine having the same attitude for TSO.

They are pretty bombastic, which is not my favorite thing, but must be popular based on how many movies end up going that way. At the same time, it seemed odd to me how saccharine some of the spoken content was. Still, that may accurately describe a lot of Christmas. I mean, they teamed up with Hallmark Channel, so maybe it all fits.

That's not in any way calling them bad. Listening to their music as I write this is fine. I just don't know that I am ever going to crave listening to them again, and that's fine. If you like them, I hope you get to see them and that the changes don't take anything away from it for you.

Different strokes and all that.

Thursday, January 25, 2018

Band Review: Songs That Need To Be Sung

I don't actually know whom I'm reviewing.

I was followed by Trebol@LarryCandeli. There were links to songs, so I assumed I had a musician or a band. Not the first time.

There does not appear to be a band called Trebol (which I had thought might be a word play on "treble"). The video links are for a Youtube channel called Songs That Need To Be Sung, which also has a Facebook page.

That is also the name of one of the songs, which confused me for a while, and led me to prefer the other song, "Shut It Down". However, the song "Songs That Need To Be Sung" does give the best explanation for the motivation behind the group and the channel -- that this is a time when protest is needed, and music is an important method of protest.

That is not unreasonable. I know of at least one other entity doing that the Twitter account Songs of the Resistance:

Songs That Need To Be Sung is different in that rather than merely highlighting songs, they are creating their own. That is ambitious, which may explain why so far there are only two. They are good songs on their own, feeling like an update of the types of protest songs that we remember from the late 60s and early 70s, but it may not be sustainable without bringing in other artists.

I do not know if the Larry Lobert credited on the songs is the Larry Candeli who followed me, and it may not matter. I can only give you what I have.

(Meanwhile, I continue my experiment in capitalism.)

Wednesday, January 24, 2018

Heart failure

Some of my greatest learning periods have accompanied loss.

I was thinking about that a while back. I remembered the hard lessons that came when my ability to earn a good living took a hard crash and when my normally cheerful nature disappeared. Things that would have been plenty hard on their own were worse because I had taken them for granted. I'd thought they were parts of me, so when they were gone I questioned what I had left.

Remembering that - in this era of hard times - I had to wonder what else might go. I did not think of writing, though that was a thing, but I did identify something that would be an issue.

My natural tendency is to love. It's not just that I believe it's right, but it flows for me. It is usually easy for me to like people and see the good in them and to be happy for them. I thought that might be the most key part of my identity, as well as a key part of my faith. Losing that would be a problem. I tried thinking about prevention or safeguards, and the only thing I came up with was that if I felt my love slipping I better pray.

It slipped.

It was probably happening before I noticed it. Where I first started noticing it was listening to a friend who has had her own hard times, but things are starting to get better. I found myself less happy for her. There was just such a hole inside from wondering when my turn would be.

The last time I remember feeling jealousy was around 1997. I must have really backslid to be facing it again all these years later.

You would think that having thought about the possibility and potential strategies in advance should help. but I didn't really pray about it that much. There were so many other things that I needed to pray for - things that dominated my brain - that it was easy to forget.

Still, there was a level on which I was trying to keep love alive, and I didn't recognize that right away either. This Christmas I found myself with a strong desire to bake for our neighbors.

I have had two other rounds of Christmas baking. Five years ago it was geared toward people from church, and the time before that (possibly ten years ago, but I am not sure) was for friends. It's not that I only do Christmas things every five years, but big rounds of baking are rare.

Another thing that I lost on my computer was my recipe file. When everything was down there wasn't even a way to look up recipes. Still, between recipes on packages and recipes that are simple enough that I remember them (and also buying one container of dough), I made cookies: chocolate chip, oatmeal butterscotch, peanut butter (with and without chocolate kisses), and brownies. Because out of the fifteen houses on our block, only four are dog-less, I also carried along a bag of dog treats.

The reason I know that the last time I baked was five years ago is because it was Sandy Hook. The local shooting here and then the much worse shooting there had cast a pall over the year, and I instinctively felt that my answer was to cook and deliver it away.

I didn't know why I felt so strongly that I needed to take plates to our neighbors, then I started to think that maybe it was to lift the gloom of this rotten year.

It could also have been to connect. There were some good visits. There were some where I made Mom come because I knew there would be visiting and she needed it too. Maybe it was to let the neighbors know that we can be there for them. I don't know. It was just what needed to be done.

Maybe I needed to know that I am still capable of giving and doing. Anything but money, anyway. I took a backpack of leftover emergency supplies downtown too. No, there's not much I can do for the homeless, but they can use those things better than I can.

(Of course, as I left the group I was talking to, I saw a city worker with a trash can, and suddenly felt disapproved of, but maybe that was my imagination. If not, that problem is the system, not me.)

And maybe I should start praying more about that. However, I must also admit that a later failure of love was very helpful.

I hope to write about that Monday.

Tuesday, January 23, 2018

Technical difficulties

Before I got knocked off-line, my final post had been "Underground - Becoming radicalized". That could have sounded ominous in a way different than the reality.

My desktop PC - which I use for everything - gave out two days before that. It just died with a PXE error, and trying to correct the boot order didn't work. Trying to reinstall the OS also did not work. Trying to access the hard drive separately via another computer? Nope, not working.

I tried to keep things going with my laptop, a Chromebook that I had bought in 2012. It was out of support, but I only used it for travel. I typed my blogs on it, and chose the daily songs based on what I remembered of what was coming up. I thought maybe I could do Christmas songs for a while, until I figured something out. Then the Chromebook died.

That wasn't a new issue. Periodically it would freeze, and then I would have to remove the battery, wait, put it back in and restart. That didn't work this time.

My brother loaned me his laptop, so I tried keeping at it, and then that one froze. I flipped it over to take out the battery, and it had screws keeping it in.

Sometimes you need to give up.

I later discovered that I just had to let the battery drain all the way on the Chromebook, so part of my problem was my habit of keeping things charged. For the Toshiba, I could not find a tiny Phillips screwdriver, but I made a tiny flat head work, and I kinda-sorts have two working laptops now, as long as I don't push my luck. Before that, though, it was hard.

A few months ago I came really close to losing Comcast, until my sister paid the bill. That is phone, television, and internet for us. My cell phone was already gone, so the landline is the only way of reaching me now, and without cable that would make keeping my mother entertained harder, but what was hurting the most was the thought of losing internet. I thought about the human connection, the news, the music, and simply having any access to the outside world. Care-taking can be very isolating. I thought about it and it was agonizing.

This was so much worse.

If we had lost internet, I still would have been able to write. I wouldn't have been posting new blogs or submitting screenplays, but at least I could still have written in my journal. I could still have the creative outlet that works best for me.

I'm not good at writing by hand. My hand cramps up after a very short while, and even before that it is too slow. I have a lot of pent-up thoughts to get out. That month without an outlet was hard. Even when no one is listening, I need to be able to say it.

It still is not smooth sailing. My brother's laptop had an expired copy of Office 2016. I tried putting in my license, but that's for an older copy. I tried reinstalling my software, but I can't get the CD drive to work. (The Chromebook doesn't even have a CD drive.) I am using Wordpad, but then if you save in Rich Text File it tells you that is Word and it's expired again. A friend suggested Open Office, and I guess I should look into that.

I need to check out Amazon Studio's version of screenwriting software too. I could probably find my Final Draft license in e-mail, but that is also older, and this is an older laptop that is only borrowed. Nothing is ideal right now.

But at least I am able to write something again. I wrote out all my feelings in a new journal file, and now they are coming out in the blog, just like old times, except without all my files.

That could be worse. Because I publish so much of what I write, I think the only creative (maybe some day could make some money) projects that are truly gone are about three chapters each for the next novels in each series. Otherwise, screenplays are up on Amazon Studios, books are on Kindle Direct Publishing, and short stories and poems have mostly been blogged. The notes I use to keep names and dates straight are gone, but that can be reconstructed.

Journals going back to 2000 and special projects are gone. Writing them the first time was most important, so maybe that's okay.

Musically it's hard. I have been able to recreate, for the most part, which reviewed bands still need a song of the day and which bands still need to be reviewed. There are probably gaps. Also, the sound quality seems a lot worse on the Toshiba. I hooked up the same speakers, but I don't think the sound card is very good. Is it even ethically proper to still try and review bands with diminished sound quality? I could still make this week work, because I had been listening to two back before the second crash, but beyond that I am not sure.

I cannot recreate my Emo notes, and that is frustrating. I mean, someday I hope a professional can recover the files, but that takes money I don't have. And maybe some luck.

Obviously, I see the importance of backing up in a new light. I've never not been able to get files off the old drive before, but that's probably because it was different parts that failed.

All of that combined is why yesterday I wrote about what I intend to write rather than what I will write. I still have lots to say, and I need to write at least some of it, but maybe not in the blog. Maybe I can maintain a journal, but only manage that. Maybe I can manage screenwriting again, and have time for that, but only for that. Maybe there's a long hiatus on reviewing bands.

All of those things fill different roles for me, so any of them would be a loss, but there has been loss. Loss is nothing new here.

So it comes back to that decision: when do you fight harder, and when do you give up?

Monday, January 22, 2018

Down and out

I'm not sure if I'm all the way back.

Technical and life issues made blogging a challenge. It still is, actually, but I intend to write more about the technical and writing issues tomorrow. Today is more about how it fit in with the other challenges.

On Cyber Monday the price of a book I had wanted went down from $11.99 to $3.99. I arranged to give cash to my sister to buy it through her account, but Amazon is weird about e-books and it accidentally went on her work card, and I had to call to get the transaction canceled after lots of online attempts and it was very frustrating. I missed my window of opportunity and the next day the price was back up.

I was utterly destroyed by this $8 difference, but as wrecked as I was, I knew it was excessive. I had always been planning on paying the $11.99 at some point. I think there were three factors, though one of them stood out more to me as I was trying to be rational about 8 bucks.

The factors I see more clearly now are the humiliation about needing help from other people to make a simple purchase (which made it going wrong worse), plus all of the effort of trying this part of the site and then that part and then waiting on hold. Time and energy are precious to me and I spilled plenty of both on that attempt to save a small amount of money.

For back then when it was fresh, what stood out most was knowing that the less you have the more precious everything becomes. That is not just for possessions like books, but for "wins" -- for the sheer ability to want something and successfully get it.

Something else had been rankling from a week before. There was a karaoke night scheduled. I love karaoke, and I don't get to do it that often, so I was really looking forward to it. We were helping my brother move in the afternoon. but he thought that would take an hour in the afternoon. Okay, I know things like that are likely to take longer than you would think, but I didn't allow for all of the things that would go wrong, and how late we would be. I didn't make it.

That shouldn't have been overwhelming in itself -- it's just one night -- but there was no knowing how long it would be until the next one. It's worse in that now there is another one. It's for February which is a very short gap, so that should be good, except that I find I can't RSVP.

It's not my certainty that I am no fun anymore (based on the stress I feel when asked how I am and the weird reactions I get when I can't answer like a normal human being). I also have this nagging fear that something else will come up. I will think I am going and be wrong again, and space is limited so it matters.

Certainly plenty of things have gone wrong over the last two years, but my hesitation to commit to fun may have been exacerbated on Boxing Day.

I wanted to go see Christmas Lights. I convinced my sisters to go to Maddax Woods, and they had even agreed to go to the Victorian Belle, though that fell through (that's its own frustrating story there). Realistically I thought there were two things I could bus to, that were still open after Christmas. I had someone to stay with Mom. I had the bus fare and admission for the Grotto, and a route that would take me to there and Peacock Lane. I just didn't count on the weather.

It wasn't bad over here, but far on the East side of the river, the wet had refrozen. I started to worry a little at the 82nd Max station, but that wasn't too bad. Getting off the bus, though, a small walk to the corner became really dangerous. I was so close, but there was no way I could get there without falling. At least it didn't feel like I could. Maybe that was just intuition preventing me from risking it all for nothing, because when I got home I learned that they had closed due to the weather anyway. I had not known that when I left two hours earlier.

And that is how long it took to get there, so that was a lot of time on TriMet for a whole lot of nothing, except for remembering how many others have it worse. On the way back I saw a woman cradling a teddy bear like an infant. I guess it could have been worse, because I think she was using it to calm herself, with some success, but it felt like there was a deep hurt behind that. Then we passed people lining up outside a shelter for food, and I saw a man head under a footbridge to take shelter for the night. I guess it might offer enough of a screen that no one would try to rob him or tell him to move along, but you can't tell me that it's not cold and damp.

I suspect that seeing those things should have reminded me that I don't really have it so bad, but I still felt terrible about my own problems, to which there was added a reminder that I am a selfish monster for caring about my petty problems, and also a sadness for them, and my own inability to help.

Speaking of things that should be helpful or inspiring but just made me feel worse, some people did help me.

Birthday fundraisers have become a Facebook thing lately. I have at times thought about crowdfunding, but I could never bring myself to do it because there is always Puerto Rico, and homeless people, and people who are unemployed and have kids. But when my computer died, I posted that if I were going to do a birthday fundraiser it would be for me, and I included my Paypal.

Three people gave to me. That was good of them, and it was touching, but it was also just another reminder of how pathetic and miserable this is. I used to be the helper! And it should be a reminder that we all have our up times and down times, and if some people are helping then it must follow that some people need help, or at least can use help, but that is not how it feels.

I took down my birthday. First of all, you can't set up a fundraiser for yourself via the normal Facebook process; there has to be an existing charity. So, even if I had felt capable of shaking down my friends, I couldn't do it that way. Mainly, though, I could not bear the well wishes, and thanking people or liking the posts and all of that acting like there is something to celebrate.

Birthday wishes are big for me. I try and never miss them. I have kept sending other people wishes, and for the people who knew the date anyway and messages (I also shut down posting on my timeline) I thanked them, but the normal thing would have kept me cringing all day, or off Facebook, except then it would just be there the next day. That was what I did to stay functional, even though doing it seems to indicate a certain emotional frailty.

At least I am no longer seeping stress out my back. (That is a different story, perhaps too gross for sharing, but it was a big factor in not being able to tell people I was fine.)

Anyway, that's an overview of what has been going on. I intend to write more tomorrow, as I said, but it might not happen. A lot of the past month or so has come down to questions of what is a sign to fight harder and what is a sign to give up. On the 30th I tried the Grotto and Peacock Lane again, and that time it worked. I still haven't RSVP'd for karaoke. The value of blogging should be made more clear tomorrow, but sometimes you have to give up valuable things too.

However, I will be putting my Paypal link at the bottom of every post.

I have thought about putting ads on the pages many times, especially lately. It seemed likely that I would just slow the page down for everyone and pick up 40 cents out of it; what would be the point? I could never bring myself to do a paywall, even if I had a big enough audience to make it worthwhile. I know what it's like to be the person locked out.

But if there has been some value in my words, and if you have the desire and ability to give, yeah, I will remind you that there is a way.

Tuesday, January 02, 2018

Thank you for your patience

I had posted on Facebook and Twitter, but if there is anyone reading the blog who did not see it, I have been having big computer problems with only intermittent connectivity. That will be its own post, and I hope soon.