If you're here to read my stories, here are the links to the sections/chapter for both ongoing works. This post is unlocked, but the entries themselves are friends locked, in case I want to publish these some day. If you're not on my friend's list, but want to read the stories, either friend me and let me know, or email me and I'll send you an electronic copy.
Keeper of Secrets (AKA The Liath Story)
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Also, I have recently succumbed to the siren call that is fanfiction. If you want to read my poor contributions in that area, they are over in gwyns_fics .
Comments, encouragement, *constructive* criticism, etc. are *always* desired and appreciated! Also, since several people have told me I should, I'm including a Paypal button at the bottom of this page. If you like my writing, and you want to help keep me in a position to continue writing, please feel free to donate. Donations are IN NO WAY REQUIRED to read the fiction. If you're not on my able to access the chapters, either reply to this post with your LJ name or send me an email - I'll see to it that you have access.
I have been recognising more and more lately just how deeply I have internalised the idea of mental health issues as being a weakness. This frustrates the hell out of me because intellectually I don't believe that. When I have friends who are dealing with mental health issues, I don't think of them as weak, or lazy, or somehow failures at life - I respect the hell out of them for just making it day to day. But when it's *me* it's different. Because while intellectually I know that what I'm going through is just as difficult as what my friends are dealing with, and that if I don't blame them for it I shouldn't blame myself, deep down I still *feel* like a failure, a weakling, someone deserving of scorn.
Growing up I lived surrounded by the notion that success in life equaled a good job, a spouse, a house with a yard, and some kids. Maybe a dog. Cats were for pathetic old spinsters. I thought I'd rejected that idea in high school, and intellectually I did. But deep down a part of me still measures success that way. When I was growing up, anyone who was past thirty and didn't have that kind of life was considered somehow lesser. In some cases, it was their fault -- they made bad choices. They didn't work hard enough in school, they followed an unrealistic dream like playing in a band or being an artist, they were too stubborn to conform to the way the world works. People with physical disabilities were pitied universally, and scorned or admired based on how they 'dealt' with their disability. Always, there was to be a sense of mourning for the opportunity for a successful life that was taken from them - because of course whatever they made of themselves could never be as good as the traditional American Dream.
People with mental health issues were also universally pitied, but there was also a sliding scale of scorn depending on the nature of the disease and how close they came to achieving the Dream anyway. People who were 'crazy' enough to be institutionalised were thought of much the same as those with physical disabilities, but with an added discomfort. It was easier somehow, more comfortable, to be around someone in a wheelchair than to be around someone who kept talking to the voices in their heads. The 'less serious' mental health issues, like depression and anxiety, were almost discounted. It was like the mental equivalent of seasonal allergies. Yeah, your eyes are itchy and watering and you're sneezing all over the place and you're very uncomfortable but you don't stay home in bed, you take your damn Allegra and go to work like a responsible, mature adult. If you have depression or anxiety problems, that's too bad, and I'm sorry things are harder for you than for other people, but still, just take your medicine and power through. Anything less is giving up, letting the disease 'win'. Anything less is weakness, laziness.
For all that I've outwardly rejected this attitude, more and more I'm finding myself confronted by how much I still hold myself to this standard. The horrible part is, the worse I feel about myself for my 'failures', the worse my depression gets, and the less I am able to 'power through'. It's a constantly self-reinforcing cycle. And I don't know how to stop it. At any given moment I might tell myself that I'm allowed to take care of myself. That the overwhelming apathy that keeps me from leaving the apartment some days isn't my fault. And for an hour or two I might believe it. And then when I find myself on the couch mindlessly watching old episodes of Castle, I'm suddenly overwhelmed by crushing guilt. Here I am again, being lazy and self-indulgent, lounging on the couch watching TV when a successful, mature adult would be at work, powering through. What a disappointment I am. Am I really that weak that I can't get up and get dressed and go into work like I'm supposed to? Or am I just selfish and self-indulgent and using my 'disease' as an excuse for yet another vacation day? What must people think of me? I was always so smart, I had everything going for me, how did I end up such a failure?
I'm trying so hard not to think like that, but it's too deep. And I look at my life from the bottom of this deep fissure and I can see 'normal' life up there in the sun but it's too dark down here and the walls are sheer and I can't climb them and I have wings but they're hanging uselessly at my side and I can't muster enough energy to fly. And I think, I'm stuck down here, and if I don't get out soon, it's going to rain, and I'm going to drown.
I look at my bank account and the money I've had to pull from savings to cover my time off work and wonder what I'm going to do when it runs out. And I look at my job and I think of how my bosses can't possibly keep being as understanding as they have been, and eventually they're going to get tired of bending over backwards to accommodate an unreliable employee and I'm going to get fired. And I look at my apartment and I think that it's a good thing I don't have friends over because the place is a mess and hell, if I don't get kicked out for being a slob I'll still have to move when I lose my job because even if I'm lucky enough to get disability it wouldn't be enough to pay the rent and I have to remind myself that I still have my job and I still have money in savings, and things aren't that bleak yet but I can't see any other path for the future. Or rather, I can see them, but they're all overgrown with roots and bushes or blocked by rocks and cutting through seems impossible.
So this is where I am. I'm at work today, for once, but other than scheduling a few meetings for later in the week I haven't accomplished anything other than surfing Facebook and reading articles on Cracked. I don't hold much hope for the rest of the afternoon. And when I'm done marking time here at work, I'll probably go home and lose myself in playing Skyrim, where I can slaughter bandits and rescue hostages and kill dragons and save the world. Where I can pretend I'm a hero, and competent, and not a failure - for a little while.
It’s a common scene in fiction. The hero wakes up and for one peaceful moment everything is fine. And then comes the moment of realisation. Yes, that really happened.
Yes, your wife really was murdered yesterday.
Yes, you really are on the run from a secret government agency.
Yes, aliens really did take over the planet.
It works because it’s true. Because that’s the way it happens for most of us. And by ‘us’ I mean ‘typical’ Western society. That fortunate subsection of the world’s population for whom waking up safe, and healthy, and comfortable is a regular occurrence. If we’re lucky, the only realisation we have to deal with is yes, it is a work day. Or that much rarer blissful realisation that no, you have to get up any time soon.
Of course, even our lives aren’t perfect. Sometimes we wake up and when reality reasserts itself it comes with a harsh reminder.
Yes, you really were fired yesterday.
Yes, you really are single again.
Yes, the doctor really did say cancer.
No, she’s really not coming back.
These are the personal tragedies.
And then sometimes reality shifts on a wider scale. Everyone knows the big one. On September 12, 2001, the whole world woke up and the reality that reasserted itself included acts of depravity and acts of heroism most of us in this sheltered country could never have imagined.
And I remember waking up in a dark, sweltering apartment on an August morning and thinking “oh yeah, hurricane,” as if that word could ever have prepared me for the hours I spent filling out simple forms online: ‘first name,’ ‘last name,’ ‘gender,’ ‘age,’ ‘last known location . . . .’ Or the faces of the people who came up to my desk with desperate questions - “What have you heard about my neighbourhood?” “They’re still looking, right?” “Surely there’s another number I can call . . .”
I wasn’t downtown yesterday. I was safe on the other side of the Boston Harbor. All of my friends and family are accounted for. But I woke up in the middle of the night last night, and when reality reasserted itself, there had been a terror attack in my city.
FYI -- I'm fine. Boston friends - if you see this, leave a comment to let me know you're ok (unless I've already talked to you).
Wow, it's been a long while since I've updated. Anyway, just wanted to say that I'm back at work after having yesterday off due to Sandy. The irony of having my first weather-related day off work after moving to Boston from Louisiana be due to a *hurricane* rather than a blizzard is not lost on me. Meira was in heaven, sitting in the window sill watching all the leaves and branches blow by. Poor Robin sat trembling on the couch most of the day, but then again, he remembers Gustav and Katrina. We didn't lose power and our building didn't suffer any damage (the thing was built in 1900, I think we're safe *g*) but there was a lot of detritus on the neighbourhood roads this morning. I absolutely wasted my long weekend playing minecraft and I am so behind on fic updates. Must get to writing!
Anyway, just a note to say I'm alive, even if I'm not around much.
Please keep the folks of South Louisiana in your thoughts as Isaac pounds New Orleans on this the 7th anniversary of Katrina.
Life will break you. Nobody can protect you from that, and living alone won't either, for solitude will also break you with its yearning. You have to love. You have to feel. It is the reason you are here on earth. You are here to risk your heart. You are here to be swallowed up. And when it happens that you are broken, or betrayed, or left, or hurt, or death brushes near, let yourself sit by an apple tree and listen to the apples falling all around you in heaps, wasting their sweetness. Tell yourself you tasted as many as you could. --Louise Erdrich
Gone, I say and walk from church,
refusing the stiff procession to the grave,
letting the dead ride alone in the hearse.
It is June. I am tired of being brave.
-- Anne Sexton
Had nerve pain bad enough to keep me awake most of last night. And it's pretty bad today too. It's probably just a flare-up and the pain won't be constant at this level yet but even so, it's progressing a lot faster than the last tumor I had. If it keeps progressing at this rate I'll probably be back on the cane in 6 mo to a year. Not cool.
And of course I'm immediately jumping to worst case scenarios cause that's what I do. I was lucky that the last tumor was on a nerve branch that could be removed without major loss of function - I'm worried this one might be on a more essential section.
#33 Ursula K. LeGuin, The Left Hand of Darkness, 320 pages.
First of all, I can't believe I got this far into my life as a geek without having read this seminal book. And it's not like people haven't recommended it to me before. It's not like I haven't sat in shame when I'm forced to tell other geeks that I've never read any LeGuin, no, not even Left Hand. It's just that hard sci-fi that makes you think is something I'm not often in the mood for. But finally I got around it it.
To be honest, while I can see why it's as well-regarded as it is it didn't bowl me over the way Roadside Picnic did. For one thing, the politics bored me. It was intellectually interesting from a philosophical point of view, but political intrigue has never really been my thing. The gender-stuff, while definitely the best part of the book, isn't nearly as groundbreaking to someone reading it in 2012 as it would have been to readers in 1969.
That said, it *is* a great book, and I'm glad to have read it. LeGuin is a wonderful writer (no surprise there) and I definitely need to make an effort to read more of her stuff.
#34 Rebecca York, New Moon (The Moon Series, Book 6), 336 pages.
Another book in the horrible werewolf porn series I'm addicted to. We've now graduated from werewolves to add psychics, magic-users, and shapeshifters from another dimension. They're like candy corn -- horrible, but addictive.
#35 Kimberley Pauley, Sucks to Be Me: The All-True Confessions of Mina Hamilton, Teen Vampire (maybe), 304 pages.
I would have never believed anyone could do a unique teen vampire novel, but Pauley's pulled it off. Mina Hamilton's parents are blood-sucking fiends. Literally, not figuratively. Actually they're quite nice - they're just vampires. Mina's known for ages, but now the Vampire Council has found out and she has to decide if she will join her parents in undeath - or live a mortal life believing her parents are dead once the Council's mind-wipers are through with her.
#36 Amber McRee Turner, Sway, 320 pages.
Cass idolizes her mom, who does disaster recovery and travels a lot. Cass's life is marked by long stretches of time alone with her boring father in between mom's visits home. But when Mom comes home this time Cass immediately senses something's not right. Seems Mom's decided to get herself another family. Cass blames her father - maybe if he wasn't so boring, Mom would have stuck around. The last thing she wants to do is take a road trip in the beat-up RV her father's been restoring. But Dad's insistent. Cass wants to go convince her mom to come home, not spend time with her boring dad. Then again, maybe Dad's not as boring as she always thought. Enter M.B. McClean and his amazing magical historical soaps.
This is one of those sappy, feel-good books about kids dealing with difficult family issues and learning about what's really important in life. And it's a good one.
Progress toward goals: 102/366 = 27.9%
Books: 36/100 = 36.0%
Pages: 11517/30000 = 38.4%
2012 Book List
cross-posted to 15000pages , 50bookchallenge , and gwynraven