Saturday, April 22, 2017

I Believe I Can Crash

Sometimes madness is a warm blanket wrapped around our shoulders on a cold morning after we just woke up.  Or, as it is in my case, afternoon.  My sleep patterns are still all fucked up.

Yesterday, I was able to get two stories sent off to a couple of magazines.  I'd like to say I have high hopes but the truth is my low self-esteem won't allow it.  Instead it's a weird bet with poor odds.

My mind has been racing lately.  Anxiety is like rocket fuel for these thoughts and then suddenly somebody hits the brakes and I crash into oblivion.  

Oblivion, sweet oblivion.  

I need to submit more short stories.  I need to write more good ones, too.  Instead of being cute and trying to be somebody I'm not, I've found my best work comes when I just need to get the shit out of my head.  I haven't been meditating enough lately, either, so there's a lot of shit to get rid of.

So here's what I'm working on right now:

I need to establish a routine.  I'm so bad at this!  Part of the reason is that routines are something adults have and part of me is still a rebellious teenager who refuses to conform.  But I've rebelled so much I'm not even conforming to humanity.  I'm pretty far out there--almost feral.

So I need routines and patterns.  Another reason I refuse to is how I have clung to the teachings of Ralph Waldo Emerson a bit too much, specifically a quote I learned in high school, "A foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds."  That's funny when you think about it, because he preached self-reliance and I'm far from it.  I am, however, unique.  That's one thing I've got going in my favor--I'm not like anybody else you'll ever meet.

A foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds--Ralph Waldo Emerson

But I need routines.  I need consistency so I can adapt positive and healthy behaviors.  Because right now, I'm a train wreck.

I have found it is incredibly hard to do positive things for yourself when you do not have a habit, ritual, routine, or pattern.  And I'm all over the place.

So that's what I'm working on.  My entire being is fighting against this and that reaction has been difficult to suppress.  I keep wanting to just go do my own thing.  I don't do well in restrictive environments.

But I'm paying for that now.  Years of doing my own thing, not listening to anybody, not following rules, not existing within the confines of acceptable living protocols, have all added up to a series of problems--a crisis of living.

This is more than just me being an obstinate jerk.  It goes far beyond the usual rebellion and like many things in my life, it has a dark history.

Here's what happened:

I've said this before but when I was a kid, I was confident I wasn't a human being.  Between the abuse and a number of other factors, I was disconnected from myself and the rest of the world around me.  I was so isolated I came to the conclusion that I was not a human being.

Because I wasn't a human being, the rules didn't apply to me, either.  In my clouded mind, I decided that I didn't have to play everybody else's reindeer games, and there was nothing anybody could do about it.  I was on my own already, what were they going to do?  Really, really not invite me to birthday parties?  Really, really not go on dates with me?  Really, really make fun of me?

This was a bad reaction to events many humans encounter.  I realized that a long time ago.  In many ways, I'm not dealing with the effects of my past so much as my reactions to those events.  My reactions to those events created a series of issues and those are the things I'm recovering from and surviving, not the events themselves.

I did this to myself.  And that means I need to fix this myself.

I have no idea how.

They say habits are formed by doing something four times.  So, right now I'm looking at simple choices I can make in order for me to start slow with positive habits and routines.  It is way harder than it sounds.  In many respects it feels positively Herculean and I could use some help.

Sunday, April 16, 2017

Sink, You Bastard! Sink!

Every April, it's the same old shit.  I turn on the television and it's some fucking documentary about the Titanic and how it sank.  At this point, does anybody even fucking care?

I mean, it was a big boat.  It sank.  Big fucking deal.

Yeah, sure, it was a horrible thing.  But life is full of horrible things.  Life is full of atrocities and acts of perverse violence.  Sometimes, these things happen because some captain full of hubris didn't bother to steer away from icebergs in the water.  Other times, these things happen because life is ugly and full of natural disasters like earthquakes, floods, tornadoes, and syphilis.   Horrible things happen all the time yet for some reason we romanticise the Titanic as if there was something magical about it all.

There isn't.

I'm proud to say I've never seen the movie about it--Titanic.  Never.

It was a huge hit when I lived in Korea.  People thought for sure I'd seen it.  When I told them I hadn't, it was like I hit them between the eyes with a 2 X 4.

I would tell them, "I like movies where I don't already know the ending."  The ship sank--The End.

But yet parts of our society are just fascinated by this.  Every year in April, around the anniversary of her sinking, cable television is flooded with lurid shows going over the mysterious details as is all of that post-mortem would somehow offer a better explanation.

The boat sank.  That's it.  It doesn't matter how fast the men in the boiler room were shoveling coal.  It doesn't matter how dark it was.  It doesn't matter who had their wireless telegraph machines turned off for the night.  It just doesn't matter.

Yet for some reason, people seem to act like it does.

Easter is full of weird memories like that.  My grandfather passed away in his sleep at the ripe young age of 93 about a week before Easter.  His funeral was the same weekend as the Chernobyl disaster. What I remember most about that was the lack of information.  It was deep in the Cold War and American news was severely lacking.

My mom and I were driving across Iowa, scanning the radio for something decent to listen to, and while she drove her 1976 Chevy Nova, I turned the radio dial.  I stumbled upon a news broadcast out of Canada.  It was two men and they were getting information--real information.  It was through them we were able to learn just how terrifying things had become.

Those of us who were around back then have a different memory of these events.  It started with a curious but grave news broadcast stating that extremely high levels of radiation were detected all throughout Eastern and Northern Europe.  Norway, especially, and they were stating it wasn't from any of their facilities.

People suspected Russia.  Something had to have happened there but Russia, the Soviet Union, said repeatedly it wasn't them and nothing had happened.

And then they said there was a small accident.  But the radiation levels were so high, it was as if a nuclear bomb had gone off.  Radiation filled the skies.

I remember when the radiation reached the United States.  I remember people going outside with geiger counters and getting levels to register for the first time ever.

I remember people going to the store to buy water.

It's curious what a memory will do.  It's curious what we forget.

When I first came back to the US from Korea, I scrapped together money from the two jobs I worked, and sent care packages to my wife and daughter when I could.  The last one I sent was an Easter basket.  It was as large as I could afford.

It was candy, fake grass, and a stuffed, white Easter bunny.

A few years later, my wife sent me pictures of my daughter.  In one of those pictures, she was holding that rabbit.  It was well-worn and had seen better days.  My wife wrote on the back of the photo, "She takes that stuffed toy with her everywhere she goes.  I don't know why."

So I cry every Easter.  A little girl had only a small stuffed animal from her daddy and she carried it with her everywhere she went.  It kills me to think about it.

Horrible things happen all the time in life.  I try to make new memories.  Happy memories.  But that's been far more difficult than it should be.  And the past just won't fucking fade away.  There are no shoulders.  There are no hugs.  There is no hope.  Only tears and a gamble that maybe our efforts can make tomorrow somehow worth living.

I don't have a reason to wake up tomorrow but I'll do it anyways.  Tomorrow is Easter Sunday and I'll avoid people as I usually do.  My what's left of my family will all be doing their own things.  I'm scheduled to work.  I'll do things to keep my hands busy because that's how I survive.  I'll make ice cream, perhaps, and plant some seeds.

The past just won't fucking fade away.  And how can it when we're making docu-shit-dramas about all of the horrible shit that happened?  We can't fix it.  We can't change it.

The Titanic launched with all kinds of fanfare and hopes.  It sank as soon as it got in the middle of the Atlantic.

Chernobyl is currently having another layer being constructed around it.  This way, it will contain the radiation leaking out of the damaged reactors.  To this day, tends of thousands still suffer from health problems because of it.  You can't run away from radiation.

And you can't run away from memories that won't fade.

I hope my daughter keeps her stuffed bunny.  I hope she never lets it go.  But if she has to so she can move on, I'll understand.  The Titanic wasn't supposed to sink.  It was made with great care by proud, professional men.  Chernobyl wasn't supposed to melt down.  It was supposed to provide power to millions.

It wasn't supposed to be like this at all and yet it is.  Because horrible things happen all the time.

And you can't outrun memories.  


Sunday, April 9, 2017

The Church of Do

I have some goals I want to meet in the next few months.  These goals are based on what I can do rather than what I hope happens.  Instead of saying, "I want to get X stories published" I'm simply saying "I want X stories in submission to magazines."

The work is on me.  And I like that better than wishing or hoping for somebody else to do something on my behalf.

Simply put--there's shit I need to get done.  Shit that I'm hoping will somehow magically fix me and all the shit that's wrong with me.  And that list is long.

As I sit here and write this, I can't help but feel like a disappointing train wreck of a human being and I'm struggling to get out of this mess.  I'm not going to list the whole, ugly set of reasons, because it's just depressing as hell.  However, I will say, each and every one of these are self-inflicted wounds that have festered.

This is my fault.  All of it.  And I am so angry with myself for having let it get to this point.  All the while, it feels like I'm rapidly approaching The End.  A stroke or a heart attack, mostly likely, and that's without pondering the other alternatives on the table.

So, no, I'm looking at what I need to do.  The word "DO" being key here.  Do.  I must DO things.

I just went for a small walk and I'm feeling it.  I need to do it again and I most likely will.  More of that whole "DO" idealogy.


I haven't been doing enough.  Or, when I do actually do something, I don't do the right things.

So, here's what I'm working on:

I want to have a short story finished, edited, and ready to submit in a few days.  There's a call for submissions that looks rather interesting.  My story took a weird turn and became quite romantic.  I honestly have no idea why.  When I try to write romance it becomes horrid.  I just can't.  My pacing is all off.

So now I need to turn this romance into horror.  Oh how simple that is to do when it's my life.  But in fiction?  This should be interesting.

There are a few calls for submissions I'd like to have things in for this month.  I currently have two short stories and a novella in submission and I can't wait to hear back about that.

As for the video stuff, that's a different story.  I filled my hard drive and so now I'm waiting for an external drive to arrive so I can move some files.  Once that happens, I can go back to making videos.  Plus, I have a new ice cream maker coming in soon.  I'm really excited about that.

I have ice cream projects I want to get to.  Ice cream flavors, as well as configurations, like novelties.  I want to begin making ice cream cakes, pops, coated and rolled confections, and a few other things.
I have goals and this new ice cream maker will allow me to make ice cream faster so I can work on those goals.

There are two projects I have in mind.  Because they are surprises, I cannot say right now, but if they are close to being what I want, they will be my Magnum Opus.  Or at least a crescendo in a body of work that is full of crescendos.

One of the reasons I love to make ice cream so much is the reactions from others are immediate and feed my need to approval from others.  I'll admit that with my self-esteem so low I have become needy as hell for approval from others.  Ice cream gets me that approval.

I'm not going to beat myself up for having that need.  Instead, I will say that maybe one day, that approval with come from within, and I will find a way to value myself for no other reason than I am me.

The next goal I have is to get some seeds ordered for the front of my apartment.  Last year, we had flower pots full of plants and it looked incredible.  That neighbor who did about 75% of the work moved but I have some pots and he's going to help me with some things.  I can't wait!

I'm going to grow all kinds of stuff.  Peppers, herbs, tons of basil again, and a wide variety of flowers.  In fact, I want to have a larger variety than last year.

There is something healing in doing that.  I felt better just for doing that last summer and it meant a great deal to me.  Sure, people used to drive by and look just because it was such a stark improvement over the solid concrete.  But also, people loved how beautiful it was, and we got a lot of compliments.  That offered me approval as well.

So, let's review--I'm waiting for approval from some editors, but while I wait for their approval, I'm making ice cream to get instant approval from folks, and I'll be planting some things soon so I can get approval from people around town.  Because I need approval.  Badly.

One of these days I'll be able to get that approval from myself but for now, I'm at the mercy of those around me.  Of course, who am I kidding?  It's always been that way.  I've never had that confidence and self-love or self-acceptance.  I've always seen myself as less-than everybody else and too much of the wrong things.

But I'm working on it.  I just started reading a self-help book called The Artist's Way by Julia Cameron.     This is the quintessential book for artists who are trying to heal. I read the first chapter last night and it did something.  I was really upset and I woke up this morning just a wreck.  I woke up feeling lowest that I can ever remember.  Never have I woken up in such despair and misery.

I woke up this morning (afternoon) being fully aware of the sum of all of my problems and worse, no hope of fixing them and no reason to even begin.

The reason for this has been an issue for me in recent months.  Is it worth the effort to fix my life?  Am I worth the effort to fix?  Is there anything worth sticking around for?  So much of my life is gone.  So many things have been taken from me.  So many times have passed me by.  So many phases of my life have been destroyed.  And now that I'm in the 2nd half, what could I possibly look forward to?  Is there anything out there for me at this point?  

Will I have to lie to myself until I can gladly allow a baseball bat smash my brains in and tell myself how happy I am to see the pretty colors?  Is that what happiness will have to be for me?  Is that the key to happiness?  Self-deception masked as the acceptance of terrible circumstances?   Admire the pretty pattern of the snake's skin as it bites me over and over, injecting deadly venom.

Is that happiness?

I don't know the answer.  All I know is I'm still alive and I'm still submitting fiction.  I'm still making ice cream and I'm still planting flowers out in front of my apartment.  I have no idea what will come of it.  All I know is that these are the things I'm doing.  

Wednesday, March 29, 2017

Just Another Day

Tomorrow is the 23rd Anniversary of my dad's death.

Some of these have passed me by without a thought.  Last year it really bugged me.  This year, it's more like a simple connection.  Oh, it's that day again.  Okay.

It was a suicide.  Dad was on a downward spiral for a long time.  He was an alcoholic and had brain damage from it, as well as a destroyed body.

The funeral was ugly and I'm still angry about the fallout from it.  That's what I remember more than his death.  I remember how my grandmother would corner my sister or myself and tell us how if we had loved him more he wouldn't have done it.  I remember how his sister acted like she had no idea there were problems.  The years of alcoholism weren't a clue.  Him suddenly showing up at my grandmother's doorstep unannounced to live with her wasn't a clue.  His deteriorated mental state wasn't a clue.  His ruined health wasn't a clue.  She acted like this was a huge shock and it was our fault for keeping it from her--lying to her about how great things were.  Actually, she said we lied to her, when we told her at the funeral that things were bad and we let it be known.  She claimed we never did any such thing.

So no, I don't think about how I lost somebody.  I think about how I watched my family unravel, crash, and catch fire.  I think about how his childhood friends came to his funeral and not a single one of them were shocked.

Suicides destroy families.  I've seen it before and I've lived it.  I haven't spoken to my dad's side of the family in years.  I had to divorce myself from them because they were so nasty towards my sister and I.  Every letter was full of venom.

I'll admit--I was a jerk.  I just stopped talking to them.  They sent me checks and I ignored them.  They sent me birthday cards and I ignored them.  I took the money, of course, but I said nothing.  Not a word.

My grandmother sent me a Christmas card telling me about how upset she was and how she just wanted to hear from me and I ignored her.  I was in my own private hell and just couldn't bring myself to contact her.  I was waging my own battles inside my head.

I feel terrible about how it all unraveled and came about.  When my grandmother died, I didn't go to the funeral.  She eventually died from alzheimer's and dementia.  I said nothing to my aunt.  Not even a condolence card.  Even when she sent me a check for my portion of the inheritance, I said nothing. Not a word.

I was angry, I'll admit, but there was something else.  I got tired of being the crazy one in the family. I got tired of being treated like The Joker.  I know I'm different.  I know there's some things not right with me.  But being treated like a violent mental patient all the time gets old.

It's not just my dad's side of the family who treats me like that.  Parts of my mom's side treat me like that, too.  I have two cousins I knew as babies.  I mean, I held them, fed them, and even changed one of their diapers.  Then, I didn't see them for 17 years.

Seventeen years later, they were at a family reunion.   There were other reunions between that time but I never went.  Most of those reunions I was never invited to or even told about.  I'd like to say it was because the family knew I was too broke to travel anywhere but that's not the whole reason.  As you can imagine, I'm a bit of a black sheep, and as I've said before, treated like a mentally deranged nutcase.

So, these two cousins were there.  I introduced myself to them and they both froze.  They froze and a look of terror spread across their faces.  They knew me.  They knew about me and I had a reputation. It was like they found themselves standing face-to-face with a serial killer or an alien in a public place.  They had to play it cool despite wanting to run away screaming.

Despite the bullshit I write on this blog, I've never killed anybody in my life.  Never.  I'm actually a very nice man who makes ice cream for his friends.  I like dogs and babies love me.  To be treated like a physical manifestation of all the horrific characters out of Hollywood really pissed me off. Worse, I knew where they got that fear--other family members.  Somebody told them a series of things about me and they believed them.

It was insulting.

But no, my ties to family are uneasy most of the time.  I'm often not told about weddings and various family events.  If I send them an e-mail, it usually gets ignored.  There are a couple of family members who still talk to me and for that I'm grateful.

But family is complicated and winters/early springs are very hard for me.

It's no secret I struggle with depression.  I have Seasonal Affective Disorder--SAD.  Every winter I crash into a black hole.  It's a tail-spin I cannot pull out of until the seasons shift and I can get more sunlight.

I thought I had a good game plan to handle it this winter.  I damn near didn't make it out of the last one.  But, things didn't go according to plan and I took some structural damage I wasn't expecting.  It happens.

I don't believe in coincidence.  These things happened for a reason.  And now that I'm finding myself at this mile marker, I can honestly say I feel better despite all of the things going on right now.  I'm no longer angry at my dad for what he did.  I'm no longer angry at his sister and mother for blaming me for what he did.  It sucks that elements of my family treat me like a monster but that's just how it goes.

My mom always said living well is the best revenge.  If I keep doing what I'm doing, there will come a day when they will want to admit they're related to me.  Stranger things have happened.  And when that day comes, I will simply smile and let it go.  I'm fighting to keep certain patterns from repeating. I'm not my dad.  I'm trying so hard to avoid his pitfalls and to not do what he did.

The first thing--don't give up.  The rest will sort itself out as the days play out.  

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

The Happy Memory Factory and Fantasy Fuel

I remember when I went into my first comic book shop.

I was in the sixth grade and it was in downtown Sterling, right next to Emil's Toy Store.  Emil's was also a magazine shop, and they carried hundreds of magazines, and it was like a library.  I would go there and look at model railroad magazines, then the remote control magazines, and of course, the gun magazines.

It was where I bought my copies of Soldier of Fortune and I can promise you I was the youngest person out there interested in first-hand accounts of the battles in Rhodesia.  The political stories and reporting were top-notch and to a young kid just learning about the world it was like getting information most adults never had.

But the comic book shop was something special.  Knight's Hobby.  It was owned by a guy named Jim Hey, who was a friend of the toy shop owner's son.

Plus, Jim looked exactly like the comic book guy in The Simpsons.  Seriously.  Jim was balding, though, but that was Jim.  Totally.

Knight's Hobby was where I got my first introduction to comic book titles like Daredevil, Sgt. Rock, and Judge Dredd.  I was a huge fan of those, and Marvel's Secret Wars had just started up.  I had the Marvel Universe Encyclopedia issues and a few other odds and ends.  Rom, the space knight.  A couple of Avengers titles here and there, along with a few Iron Man books that went into grim detail about Tony Stark's alcoholism.

The people who watch only the Iron Man movies don't know this, but Tony Stark was a raging alcoholic who destroyed his body with booze.  After a while, his body began to shut down, and only the suit was keeping him alive.  The last issues I saw, if I recall correctly, he wasn't able to get out of the suit anymore.  His liver and kidneys no longer functioned.

Grim stuff.  Damned grim.  And I think I still have that issue shown above.  Maybe.

But that was comics back then.  They were just starting to become moody and brooding.  We were still years away from Spawn and GenX.  Pitt and a few others.

When I was in the sixth grade, my best friend, Pat Pember, had his own titles he was interested in.  Pat was a huge fan of Moon Knight.

How did I afford these comic books and how was I able to afford to see movies every weekend?

As I've posted before, I had a paper route.  The money I made was enough for a few titles and a movie.  That paper route allowed me the opportunity to feed my imagination and played a huge role in my development.

There are a few memories I hold on to and cherish because they, more than most other memories, remind me that escapes do exist and usually, they are because a writer like myself sat down and put them on paper.

For some reason, a number of these memories are of rainy Sundays in the late winter/early spring.  The rain would be cold and nasty.  Back then, my feet were always wet.  Always.  In fact, I developed a skin problem on my feet because they were always wet.  My boots were worn out and my family didn't have the money to buy a new pair.  I knew enough not to ask, too.  I didn't tell my Mom, and certainly not my Dad, that my feet were always wrecked.

But on Sundays, I didn't have to go outside.  I could leave my boots to dry and hide upstairs in my cold bedroom.   Our house was a drafty old thing and I loved it back then.

I could hide upstairs in my bedroom with my stack of comic books and whatever novel I was reading at the time.  There was no football on television, just basketball, and I never was much of a fan of that sport.  Best of all, I would be left alone, because that was the single best thing for me back then--alone.

I've talked about my dad plenty but the short version was this--not being noticed was best.  And I was a ghost.

Those stacks of comics were so important to me because I could read them and fantasize about the person I wanted to be and the places I wanted to go.  They were fuel.

Back then, we had three channels, and Sunday Nights meant a good movie was usually on after 7pm.  If we were lucky, it was a new movie none of us had seen before, and if we were really lucky it was the latest James Bond film.  Another great character, another high-octane fantasy fuel.

Those creators, the writers who developed those stories, did wonders for me as a child.  They gave my brain something to dive into as it retreated from a harsh and ugly reality.  Mondays were made for daydreaming and I would go to Mrs. Broderick's class primed with a fresh tank of day dream material.   She was a stern, arrogant women from an age when education made you superior to those around you and who you married gave you status.  Her husband was a school Principal and eventually Superintendent.  She lacked a sense of humor and enjoyed dishing out penalties.

But I had day dreams to save me.  Day dreams of comic book worlds and heroes.  Villains who made perfect sense and a world that was worth saving.  It is a sad statement about our society that the older I get, the more I cheer for the "bad guy" because usually he or she has a damned good reason to be pissed off.

Sixth grade was hell for me.  There were so many issues going on and so many terrible things in my life--things so bad I can't talk about them here.  But I had comic books.  I had books and novels.  I had things I could dive into and not have to come up for air for hours.  That was when I discovered the books Battlefield Earth by L. Ron Hubbard and It by Stephen King.  Big, thick books that would suck me in and hold me there for days.  It was when I learned I could escape the world around me.

Last week, somebody on Twitter posted that meme at the top of this post.  It made me realize why I wanted to write in the first place.  It wasn't about being cute or seeing my name in print.  I wanted to write because it was another form of day dreaming for me.  It was my way of escaping reality.  And if I could give that gift to another person on a rainy Sunday afternoon, then that was even better.

It was something I needed to see and remember.

Monday, March 13, 2017

Documenting the Descent

Our Hero is asleep right now.  He's sleeping for most of the day after being up all night.  Sleep only comes when the sun rises.

The medical term is Circadian Rhythm Sleep Disorder.  But this isn't medical or psychological.

This isn't natural.

Dark magic did this.  The necromancers of thought have been hard at work attacking Our Hero with spellcraft driven by hateful intent.  They need to weaken him, to further isolate him, to hurt him.  The full frontal assault never worked so now they're trying something different.

Attack him while he dreams in the dreamworld.  Unravel his mind and remove his will to carry on until he can no longer continue his quest and he abandons it on the side of the road.

The ruthless assault on his mind and soul has begun to take a heavy toll on Our Hero.  The very structures of reality are beginning to show cracks.  These evil men, necromancers of thought, have found a way to blast his mind with horrific images and painful memories, while giving him messages of just how pointless all resistance is against them.

"Slip away," they tell him through images.  "Wade into the stream and let the warm, healing waters carry you away to peace."

Sometimes they sing to him and he wakes up humming their tune without even realizing where he learned it.

The other night, he dreamed of a cat attacking him.  He was going to the front door to get a pizza being delivered and the cat jumped up from the floor, latching itself to his right hand, claws digging in so deep he could feel the blood run down his arm.  The cat was furious with him and yelled a harsh indictment but it was all spoken in a screeching cat's voice so he couldn't understand a single word of it.  All he knew was this cat hated him with a passion and the pain in his hand would never go away.

The pain was so strong and vivid he woke up.  Our Hero turned on the light to examine his wounds only to find them not there and the pain fading quickly to nothing.  There was no blood despite him being sure there would be copious amounts everywhere.

A few minutes later, he drifted back to sleep where a another dream awaited him, this time of a woman he was desparate to forget.  Once again, she was an obstacle, almost a monument, and she wasn't going anywhere.  She accused him of cruelty and sobbed uncontrollably as she recounted her pain.

This dream woke him up, too.  It always does at least once a night.  Again and again, he dreams of her, and this distorted version of events.  And so he has to remind himself that no, this is not how it happened, and he does not deserve this.

Last week, they sent him a dream that involved a large hand grasping him tightly around his torso, while another forced open his mouth, and the soul of his friend he was keeping safe within him was stolen, along with a piece of Our Hero's soul.  The grip was so tight it hurt his ribs.  It felt as if they were going to break.  He woke up gasping for air, wincing at the pain in his ribs, as that pain slowly faded as well.

A few weeks ago, they sent him a dream about a doorway suddenly appearing.  Our Hero woke up, stood up from his bed, and looked at the doorway on his wall.  It slowly disappeared right before his eyes, along with the lights illuminating it, until once again all he saw was his wall.

The dreams are breaking into his reality.  The dark magic cast upon him is working.  His mind is fracturing and unraveling.  The altered sleep times have further isolated him from any support he might have had previously.  They are wearing him down bit by bit, nightmare by nightmare, and he is becoming afraid to sleep at night because he know what awaits him once he closes his eyes.

Who needs to hide in shadows when you have the entire map of Dreamland as your battlefield?

These are dark times for Our Hero.  He is under attack by a foe he cannot see or defend against.  And in those dark hours, those witching hours, when he is at the crescendo of his nightly war, he is also furthest removed from assistance and aid.

If you believe in Happily Ever Afters, then there's a chance.  Not much of one, but slim enough it can be mentioned.  A chance.  Maybe, just maybe, Our Hero can find his way out of this darkness.  Maybe it's not over just yet.  Maybe somehow Our Hero can figure out a way to pull out of this tailspin before the dirt overdose at the end.

Some people believe in Happily Ever After.  The question is--do you? 

Thursday, March 9, 2017

Women in Horror Month Epilogue

Yesterday was International Women's Day.

February was Women in Horror Month.

And what did we learn?

Sadly, we learned there are too many cowardly idiots in this world and they are an embarrassment to the rest of us on this planet.

We learned that there are people who claim to be smart who just don't get it.

I would love to write that we don't really need a Women in Horror Month (WiHM) just so we can have a great opportunity to celebrate the incredible talent contributing to our beloved genre.  But that's just not true, is it?

No, we need to have WiHM for a whole list of reasons, the primary being that some motherfuckers just don't get it.

We need a WiHM because some people have narrow tastes and will never branch out to read anything other than some testosterone-dripping display of pseudo-masculine, cliche-driven schlock-o-rama that is the fictional equivalent of Hungarian Goulash.  And usually, there's a pen name plastered on the cover that borders on the edge of being more apt for porn than fiction.

No, we need a WiHM so we can tell these guys, "Look, motherfucker...you're missing the good stuff."

I've been reading more and more horror written by women.  This isn't because I drank some kool-aid and suddenly realized for the first time in my life that women are an important demographic in horror literature and I just have to parrot this on my blog.  I don't drink Kool-aid, I've been a fan of many of these writers for a while, and I mean really--who blogs anymore?

When I was a kid, I figured there were good female horror writers out there--I just didn't know of any.  Now, I do.  See how that works?

But it's more than that.  I really fucking hate having anything to do with WiHM other than being a fan because it feels too much like some patronizing, slobbering, redneck back-slapping a lady and telling her, "there, there--you'll get your time in the spotlight and who knows?  Maybe you'll even sell a couple of copies.  Wouldn't that be nice?"

Hell, that's never happened to me and I'm pissed off just reading that.  I won't get into how I know I'd make a shitty woman.

I rely on WiHM because it helps sort out the good stuff for those of us who are too broke to spend a lot of money on new releases.  Anybody who has read this blog will tell you I'm always flat-broke and living hand-to-mouth.  There's no way in hell I can afford to buy stuff I haven't read reviews about and there's no way I'm going to take a risk speculating on some unknown.

Having said all of that, what WiHM does for somebody like me is give me options that work.  I need those.

Do we need WiHM for the gender inequality in fiction?  Yes.  Of course we do.

Honestly, this whole debate, in my mind, is like to grade-school kids having one of those debates in science class where they both explain why oxygen is so important.

"Well, I like oxygen because I need to breathe."

"Yeah, but I need oxygen because my cells do something sciency with all of those special molecules I made out of construction paper and pipe cleaners."

"Oh yeah?  Well I need oxygen to speak sexy sweet nothings in your mom's ear when she's over at my house after you've gone to bed."

And then the teacher gets involved, both kids end up in detention after class, and they still get a B+ because at least they pronounced the name of the element correctly.

But that's not the problem.  The problem seems to be the increasing numbers of men who bitch and complain about WiHM.  How can anybody possibly bitch and complain about a month when the good stuff is highlighted?

Granted, most of these "men" are trolls hiding behind fake internet names so they can say incredibly stupid shit and laugh about it later on.  Sadly, all too often the Golden Rule of the Web is ignored.

Don't feed the troll.  By reposting the ignorant shit posted under a nickname the bastards seem more plentiful.

I know, blame the trolled for the trolling.

The problem isn't the trolls, it's the cowardice rampant amongst men.  It's always a coward who posts ignorant shit online to women.  And then it gets re-tweeted or reposted on Facebook and all anybody remembers is another "man" said some nasty shit to a woman.

We need International Women's Day even worse than WiHM.  But we also need a day of atonement for shitheads out there who can't put their own names to their posts to anybody vulnerable.

Perhaps that's just another plot bunny for one of the many talented horror writers out there who just happen to be female.  "The Troll Afraid of Women."

It would make a great story, I think.  Men, afraid of their own shadows, look online one day in early February and to their horror, they find women being treated not just equally, but according to their talents, skills, dedication, and hard work.  The troll thinks about this and after wiping away the drool, realizes there are women out there who might actually get paid and given attention commensurate with their value.

But then again, based on what I saw in recent days, there have been plenty of men shitting their pants and such a fictional story would just cause unneeded panic that would lead to thousands of men coming down with a case of the vapors and hysteria.