What Everyone Gets

Bunnies are just cute.  They whiffle their noses and jump around and over and sometimes on each other, and decide it’s time to be over there right now, and dash and then sit and whiffle and wonder who decided it was time to be over here now.

And sometimes bunnies hurt themselves, or another bunny hurts them by mistake.  It just happens, when you’re very small, still growing, and have all the muscle-and-leverage gifted to a bunny.  Cats get stuck in high places, dogs eat things that hurt them, bunnies run and jump faster than their baby bones can cope with sometimes.

One of the babies hurt herself so badly that she was paralyzed.  It didn’t hurt, but it confused her and she couldn’t do the things that bunnies do.  I made sure she had cuddles, and was warm, and did what you can do for a bunny who can only move one leg.

I will never like this.  I’ve sat next to too many bunnies, cats, dogs, people.  Every time, I think of something from Neil Gaiman.  Every time I know it’s right.

Every time it is no comfort at all.

What Everyone Gets

Crossposted from Epinephrine & Sophistry

Independent Publishing Links from Radcon Panels

Really, start and end here: Northwest Independent Writers Association

With the exception of NIWA, above, I present these links with no feelings or knowledge of them one way or another; they were mentioned in Indie panels, so here they are.


  • Indiegogo – raise a chunk o’ cash
  • Patreon – get chunks o’ cash each time you produce something
Website building:

Crossposted from Epinephrine & Sophistry


Somewhere between the poles of imaginary friends, faith, hypnosis, and creative writing, there lies power — specifically the power to change and guide oneself.

I’m so tempted to stop there.  But no, cutting the limbic flow of words is not in me, nor will be.

So, in disorganised format, this.  For — ever — I’ve rehearsed conversations in my head.  Some conversations in my head were with folk I knew and loved, and over time I fine-tuned the rehearsals to have better representations of those I talked to.  These homonculi are generally of those I love, and who care for me, and so, frequently, they stick around.

Yeah, I know.  Get therapy.  But, hey, they love me, so they have my best interests at heart.  And, at my heart, I know that they started in my imagination in any case.

So, good.  Imaginary friends, who help me talk things out.  Fine.

Now you take this a step further (and roundly offend a lot of faith-based people) and suggest that, if you’ve a guardian angel or a direct line to a holy ghost (lower case to reduce the offense), maybe that’s akin to my homonculi.  Now, I’ve some recurring what-I-will-call-spiritual experiences with threads of continuity.  I could declare that they are of supernatural origin and be all holy and stuff.  I could say I’ve experience with imaginary friends, and this is just a new flavor.  I could say lots of stuff.

What I do say is that I have experiences of varying value and interest, and the experience is actual.  So is a dream, and so is a delusion, and so is being hit with a material brick.  If you hit me with a brick and don’t leave a mark, and take the brick away, and have no witnesses, did you really hit me with a brick?  It goes into the pile of “I experienced it but cannot prove it”.  Other people are given to declarations on the reality-basis of these experiences, but I’m too aware of myself to do that.  I say “I experience this”, and when someone asks what the nature of the experience was (spiritual?  hallucinatory?  clever ruse?) I shrug and move on.

Which is not to say I am unmoved.  I am frequently moved.  From above, below, within, or by myself, I get some guidance.

I strive for true agnostic; when there is demonstration, I will have belief.  Until then, I will agree there is possibility, even if actuality has not been demonstrated.

You’re with me.  Good.



jump –

– I am, in general, a bit bound by rules and expectations and duty and other tripe.  Not my best trait, although it makes me wonderful to plan around.  I may or may not show up to a party, but if you give me a duty, you can pretty much count that I’ll either delivery or writhe in pain at my failure.  Impulsively following my bliss, though, that I’m not so hot on.  I tried to make it a duty, many ways, over the last decade, and it just doesn’t work.  Duties are to make me behave and be unhappy, and so a duty to be happy will result in a failed duty that I will inflict unhappiness on myself over.  What I need is the ability to drop the tension and just GO after my bliss, without all that agonizing.

– and another –

– I have, with repeated success, added homonculi intentionally to my cast of characters.  I have had remarkable success with hypnosis, and retain vivid experiences from years back through that medium.  So I could, if I wished, add a spiritual entity/homonculus/backdoor into my skull for something horrific and alien, and do it on purpose –

– Oh.

Oh, he said.

So, I’ve a contact with my inner psychopomp, and a half-dozen close friends.  Sometimes at sort-of will.

What if I intentionally [added a homonculus]/[invited a rider]/[requested a guide]?  I have the tools at hand, and they are polished and honed with use and care.

And I’ve been doing that, carefully.  What I want is something like a female Ghede, with just a touch of foresight and willingness to delay gratification for greater good.  An Id-advocate, who will pop up and odd moments and nudge me.

Astonishingly, this appears to be working.  It is nearly always sub-vocal, but is now added to those things I experience.  I am actually pursuing things just because they seem a good idea, or fun, or sometimes for reasons that I don’t know … but it works out that it was a good idea, or fun.

There’s a bunch of tedious detail and stage setting involved in my head, but I may have actually have found a way to take my wound-too-tightly brain and put it to work in a direction that reduces my Duty Angst.

I’ve no idea if I’m going to show this to the world.  But I needed to write it down, so there y’go, potentially.

Crossposted from Epinephrine & Sophistry

Alternate endings

Life goes like this.  You can’t tell someone what your life is really like, because the only perfect map is a complete model of the terrain.  You’d have to recapitulate the universe to get it right.  So, instead, we pick and choose, and, in the process, we change things.  Always with the intention to mislead, although it might be an intent to mislead in the direction of greater truth, rather than away from that.

We all do that.  Polish the facts just a little, present them in just an order, such that the point we feel should be gleaned gets across.  We don’t try to represent things accurately and objectively, because that isn’t what we are experiencing — we, none of us, live objectively among the phenomenae.  We have reactions.

So.  Stories.  Life.  Now you know.

When one is writing a story (I’m talking about literature now, not the other kind), one gets to decide what happens.  There’s a lot of folk who claim that the story HAD to be written just so, HAD to end a certain way, but really what they mean is the story they wanted to tell had to go like that.  They chose.  Okay, then.

Maybe all stories work like that.  I’m talking life now, and literature both.  Maybe the metaphor bleeds actuality across, and taints and traits of the one are stained on the other through the medium of reality diluted in figures of speech.

Maybe.  I could analyze it for a day or two, consider deeply, draw inferences and pose difficulties.  Or I could just try it and see what happens, gain a data point that might draw a more curve-y curve than a single point might.

A long time ago, 18 months or so, someone commissioned me to make her a picture frame that matched, in pattern and finish, an aged frame she already had.  She purchased wood (a different wood), and stain (which would have colored the new wood opaque tar), and presented them to me with her model, asking me to use the wrong materials and come up with the right frame.

And, hey, I did that, mixing her stain with a bunch of other things (including rusted steel wool) to get just the right overtones in artificial and sunlight.  The patterns for the frame matched.  It was spot-on.  I got $20 for about three weeks of my free time, but I felt okay about that.  Future prices would be haggled a bit, and I wouldn’t let someone else declare the obstacles on the next projects.  I got my $20 and a hug and squees of delight.

A week or so went by.  She reached out to me, saying that the intention for the new frame actually required it to be deeper than we discussed.  It needed to be more of a shadow-box, really.  Could I take an extra piece of the wood, cut it exactly flush to match the frame, and just layer them up and make it deeper, then stain the new wood to match the existing wood that would then, as a whole, match the original frame?

Being an ass, I said I could do that.  Then life exploded, and by and large, I had no wood-working time available to me that was not better spent on something else.  I kept the frame and the stain and the extra wood, and they gathered dust and cursed my leisure time; I would walk into the shop, consider what I’d like to do, and realize I had this obligation on me and I could do nothing else.  I could not complete the work on the frame because I hadn’t the tools to do what was needed correctly.  Couldn’t go forward, couldn’t skip over it.

18 months of that.  When I thought of it, fairly frequently, I considered it a fine example of how lacking in virtue and trustworthiness I was, how useless and in fact detrimental I was to society as a whole, and how I should be sent into the outer darkness to live, unloved and alone, where my failures would not burden others.  It was, I felt, obvious from the problem statement what the conclusions were that should be drawn.

The nice woman eventually asked to have the raw materials and the frame, to the degree it was a frame she needed, returned to her.  I did, and she was nice about it, although she never did say that it was all right that I did not deliver as promised.  I assume she stays up nights, hating me, hurting herself to spite me, finding strangers on sidewalks and in bars and low establishments with diseased patrons and telling them her tale of woe and misuse at my hands.

It is just possible that this is not exactly how her experience of this goes, but it’s what I tell myself when I am trying to be kind to me, to soften the blow that my actions make me so deserve.

That, friends, is the story I would tell you of the picture frame.  It is not a story that makes me happy with myself.  It may be, though, that a different ending could be put to it.

So, let’s try, for the sheer philosophic wonder of it all.

18 months ago, a nice woman commissioned me to make her a frame.  She’d purchased materials for it, and was excited by that, so I agreed to use the materials to let her continue to feel happy.  She and I agreed on the dimensions of the frame specifically, and how it would look, and I went home and made the frame for her, nailing exactly what we’d agreed.

Shortly after, she called back and asked if it was possible, after the work was completed, to make it come out to completely different set of specifications.  I had doubts myself, or perhaps I was just assuming I’d get that done without really thinking through what was involved.  Once thought through, though, I realized I’d gotten into a bigger set of technical problems than I could solve with the materials at hand — what should be done is actually start over.  I didn’t consider that an option though, and sidelined the project for months.

Eventually she tired of waiting, and called to check on her project.  Rather than lead her on, I told her outright that I thought 18 months ample to show I wasn’t going to be able to get to her project, and offered to return it to her.  She had no problem with this; I’d offered to try to make the re-specified version for no further cost, and she got all her materials back.  I returned everything and we parted on a friendly basis.  I even told her that, while I regretted not being able to deliver the new specifications, I mostly regretted not recognizing sooner and tossing my hand in a long time back.  We would both have gone on to other things.

…   …

Both of those versions are exactly true.  I can’t say that I’ve learned anything from the re-telling, but maybe there is something perking in the background that I won’t recognize until later.

Mind, if I tell you about it tomorrow, it’s likely that the story will be somewhat different.

Both versions, of course, will be true.

Crossposted from Epinephrine & Sophistry

MAMBO BLEND (a nearly allegorical recounting of my one attempt to stop drinking leaded coffee)

The rain tapped counterpoint to deep-throated drums last night, and the steady thunder is still pounding in my temples and behind my eyes.  Looking out the dark window of my room, I thought for a moment I saw the outline of a skeletally thin man dancing in a ring of trees, shaking a fetish and casting graveyard dirt toward the house. His shadowed face seemed not to move, but I could hear, just below the current of my blood, chanted prayers I could almost understand.  The moment passed, and there were just trees, and the pain building in my head.
This morning I rose without waking, and moved with shuffling gait through the house. I acted out the rituals of the day without feeling, spoke without thought, ate and drank without affect. There was no periphery in my sight, nor in my thoughts; what I looked at was all there was to existence, that, and the pain that underlay everything.  I made and drunk potions that seemed necessary at the time I did so, found them without savor, and I am unchanged. People speak to me and I answer, and do not know what has been said. I act, and do not think to wonder what I am doing, nor why.
The darkness is still all about me, pervasive but not menacing, and the echo of chanting is still resounding within it in rhythm to my underwater movements.  Somewhere, I know, living things bleed out their lives and shadowed men shuffle and stomp in dance.  I lift my cup, and smell only graveyard dirt.
Somewhere, there is unquiet within me, but it is far, far from where anyone will ever hear it again.
Papa Cemetiere croons from over my shoulder, “No more decaf.”
Unfeeling, I nod to my skull’s beating rhythm.

Crossposted from Epinephrine & Sophistry


This is not a fan piece.

Okay, then.  Quick and dirty, and with almost no bells, whistles, or other accompaniment to the [can/equ]ine dance.

Amanda Fucking Palmer appeals to me.  I’ve found many other artists who perform more polished, who write more beautifully, who play with greater skill…I don’t know of any who are more unabashedly forthright and belligerently honest and some forthcoming that, halfway through the first paragraph, you want to back away, palms extended with repulser blasts of social space, fighting for a little bit of time for the overshare police to come and take her away.

That last bit is the one that gets me.  Someone who shows me his/er slip, and points out the smudged bit, and describes how that happened and why s/he is still wearing it and what they did in it when no one was looking — that is a pint of ether with whiskey back for me.  Drink it down and try not to weave, that’s the stuff and I’ll have another, thanks.

Intimate.  You can’t even say forced or aggressively intimate, because she doesn’t come to one’s door singing at a shout into stranger faces; you come to the media player willingly or you haven’t come at all.  This is what you’ll get.  No arm’s reach conversation, but naked spooning with bits sort of intermingled and noses in armpits and snuggled together while she sings you the thing she had in her head.

That’s AFP.  I value that largely because it is, in spite of my hopes of literary achievement, what I do best when I’m doing anything at all (and what I stopped years ago because of fear, but we’ll get to that).

I’ve her book on Audiobooks.  I’m enjoying it.  I listen on the way to work, and coming home.  I have company in the car.  Joseph Campbell was stimulating, Christoper Moore was entertaining and funny, but AFP is THERE, right there in the car with me.

She yammered on a bit about being a performance artist (living statue named The Eight Foot Bride), and how she felt she was a success in contacting people while doing that, evoking emotion,  being seen and making others feel seen … but that wasn’t sufficient.  The Bride was an act.  Her songs were her.

She didn’t just want to be seen, she wanted HER to be seen, to be heard, and to interact thereby.  She’d held back a quarter century because of fear of rejection, but moved because it finally hurt enough to not move.

There.  That.

We share a tendency … a certainty of intimate and captivating overshare.

She recognized she needed that to live, and went with it.

I recognized that showing myself that boldly would hinder me in the conservative circles where I work, and silenced myself.  That is the chief reason that I don’t write much, apart from over-commitment.  How can I write about cannibals and molesters and the horrific and wonderful things people do and all off-color and tongue in cheek or in your face you WILL experience this, and not expect to eventually be removed by the discomforted conservatives that rule my paychecks?

I could work under a name that isn’t mine, but how honest can I be if I won’t say my name?

I lost about five minutes of her book, while this all avalanched through me.  Then I had to pull over to the side of Hwy 26 on Sylvan hill during rush hour, in the dark, in heavy traffic, and sob.

I’d sold myself for groceries.

My clogged sinus and puffy eyes say that I need to find a way to go back to my  overshare with the world, or there will be higher prices than grocery bills.

Now I just need to figure out what to do about that with minimum risk and maximum relief.  I can’t say that it’s an energy thing, not anymore.  Today I had four hours sleep, worked a heavy and stressful, crisis-control day, got home 14 hours after I left and did chores for an hour before I sat to this.

*looks up at the page*  I appear to be able to write, if not necessarily well.

I appear to have lost my excuse.

Crossposted from Epinephrine & Sophistry

Duty Free Zone

So, the most interesting incident lately has been no incident at all.

Yesterday a job opened up that I could apply for.  A few years ago, I took a position for a department that was utter chaos, had no way to tell if it was successful except quarterly, and couldn’t determine if an individual member of the department was doing his or her job.  I changed all of that, starting with the last, so that everything was built up on the basis of the individual members production, which meant that the department achievement had a direct relation to each person’s actions, and everything was objective and reproducible and actual trends could be viewed over time.  The new job was like the starting point of this one, but with dollar values an order of magnitude larger.

I noted the opportunity to Shannon, to ask her opinion on whether I should apply and what I should ask for compensation.  I ran down everything, noting that, in addition to the three years of unpleasantness and stress I’d had, I’d be travelling monthly as well.  I was, at that moment, considering that I’d need at least another 25% to consider the position, and really was thinking of not trying for it; it sounded like a chance to go back to being stressed and unhappy all the time.  I tossed the 25% number at Shannon.

“So, that’s about X dollars monthly, net.  About double the monthly deficit in our bills.  So we’d break even and pay back savings a little each month.

“… which means that, since I can get this position, it’s really my duty to get it.  We need the money, so my duty is clear;  I need to trade off for more stress and less sleep and time and life, and get the money that we need.”

Again, a moment earlier I had been thinking I wouldn’t even apply.  Suddenly it wasn’t even an option to not apply, and I was getting angry with my life because all I was for on this planet was to facilitate bill paying and other people’s needs.  My pulse was so fast and so hard that I could hear it, even over the rising tension and volume in my own voice.

It was my duty to go back through an awful period of time.  It was my duty to give up being happy for money, it wasn’t even a rate of exchange sort of decision, my happiness wasn’t on the table when there was Duty to perform, my happiness was, in fact, a trivial concern because it was only MY happiness, not IMPORTANT –

I stopped talking before any of that mind-spin could escape into words.  ”Wow.”  I told Shannon about the internal rant, and where it was going, and we came to quick agreement; I should not apply for the position.

I’d never actually SEEN my internal stability kicked off it’s mounts before.  I could even identify the first wobble:  ”Duty”.  That word pops up and I become self-destructively stupid.

Bizarre.  Weird to see it happen.  It took me about ten minutes to get back to normal.

I’ve no idea what we’ll do for money, but I guess that, for now, we won’t be sacrificing me on an altar to Finance.

Crossposted from Epinephrine & Sophistry

Wow. Steampunk Heart is finished.

So.  My writing ‘to-do’ list was nicely granular.  So far I’ve:

  • Write
  • Be pleased with writing as a process
  • Be pleased with having written [if you don’t think these are discrete elements, you haven’t tried it]
  • Have people read the stuff I wrote
  • Evolve my writing to promote others’ enjoyment of reading it
  • That went well.  And quickly.  Which means, I suppose, that I’m up to:

  • Send some of my writing out for consideration
  • Well, then.  That’s quite a jump from ten days ago, when I wasn’t writing, hadn’t been writing, and would probably never write again.

    Now:  where does one send a Steampunk Poe pastiche, and what does one call it besides “The Steampunk Heart”, which is arguably the worst name ever?

    Crossposted from Epinephrine & Sophistry

    Taking an instant over the function of a glacial movement

    On so many occasions, I have analyzed and determined and enacted, and, in the end, I find that my plans all come to the same thing:  I have a Genius Idea that, given my extraordinary superhuman energy and no new obstacles, cannot fail.

    …er.  One of those givens appears to not be as true as I’d like it to be.  Perhaps two.

    Typically, the plan is something like “I will rise early each day, grasp my pen in a relaxed yet firm grip and …” which fails for want of sleep, or “Daily I will take a lovely half-hour and …” which fails for unexpected events that call for that time slot, or — stuff like that.  Moreover, there is an inertial mass of multiple views of my life, all with their own obstacles and slants on any given goal, working together as a unit.  We shall refer to this henceforth as Pangestaltic Inertia, neologizing a bit from geologists.

    Now, that one I think I can correct for.  But let’s wait.

    Over the past few weeks I’ve been in the possession of unaccustomed stability and perspective, brought about by taking a week off of Life and getting lost at 9,200 feet.  Heroically, of course.  I’ve not done anything amazing with this stability, as I wasn’t certain I could maintain it.  It’s a month old now, so I’ll put it to work a bit.

    What I discovered when I returned from the heights, was that most of the world staggered along without me.  Badly, but it did stagger.  What’s more, I had no loss of self-esteem for not having been central in the solutions for a week.

    That sounds like I could lessen the unexpected events by withdrawing some of myself from other things.  Go back to being an employee instead of pseudo-management and pseudo-savior, for instance.  OK, started that, and things are doing very nicely.  Good.

    Last night I borrowed some brain from my darlin’ redhead, and noted that, while the “disengaging” part of the plan was working, that isn’t the same as attaining something.  So I resolved to take some time out during the day (now, for instance) and go attain something.  Re-engaging with things I care about while disengaging from things I don’t.

    Good, again.  Good.

    But there was that Pangestaltic Inertia waiting for me.  I could see it, had seen it before, I knew how it would be.  I’d get a few minutes with a keyboard and utterly not write.

    *sidewise jump for a moment*

    So.  These days, I am The Guy at work.  People come up with clever development plans and they don’t work, not at all, and the people get lost and despair.  They come to me, weeping, and I soothe them.  In nearly every case one of two things is paramount as problem:  the person is working from unchecked assumptions or the person is trying to do multiple things at a time.

    *jumps back, counter-ways*

    I’ve spent a month checking my assumptions, and checking progress on the actions of those assumptions, and so forth.  I’m good, there.  I should disengage from some things, re-engage in others.  So, if Pangestaltic Inertia is still overwhelming, I must be trying to do multiple things at a time, and thereby sabotaging my progress.

    Let’s see.  ”I wish to author” [verb usage, there] — when I say that, I initially think I mean “I want to write something.”

    Dandy.  So write a brief bit about what I had for breakfast.  No, I really mean “I want to write something interesting”.  Ok, write about — no, I appear to mean “I want to write something interesting that other people will read — and enjoy — and that one of them will want to publish — for money — that will eventually become –”

    Oh.  Well, nailed that diagnosis, didn’t I?

    So, the list of actions I actually wish to take:

    • Write
    • Be pleased with writing as a process
    • Be pleased with having written [if you don’t think these are discrete elements, you haven’t tried it]
    • Have people read the stuff I wrote
    • Have them enjoy that Outside of my control.  Bad Scott.
    • Evolve my writing to promote others’ enjoyment of reading it
    • Send some of my writing out for consideration
    • Repeat the last two steps for the rest of my life, which will improve the success rate of publication as well as my enjoyment
    That’s a lot of steps to do at once.  Glad I noticed.
    Today I’ve done the first three steps.  I am sufficiently pleased with myself.  I would like for this to have been fiction, but one makes starts on these things, and traditionally I’ve always started by exposing myself in public.
    Consider yourselves flashed.

    Crossposted from Epinephrine & Sophistry