MY DIARY: Day 18,542: “Innocence.”

I’ve been thinking about my dad a little bit lately.

He suffered a traumatic brain injury on Christmas Eve, 2011, and died the day before New Years Eve, so it’s not surprising, I guess.

I never got to grieve for him. My mom is – I’ll be charitable – mentally ill. I have no siblings, no close relatives nearby, so keeping her functional and arranging the funeral and delivering the eulogy and all that stuff fell upon me. I did a good job, I say with no small amount of pride. I don’t take compliments well, and I compliment myself even less, but being thrown in cold into a trauma like that, I think I genuinely did good.

Life got worse after he was gone and, as I said, I never got time to grieve. I almost would, but people were counting on me. I couldn’t afford to let myself to fall apart. There were taxes to settle, corporations to dis-incorporate, estates to settle, things to re-title to my mom, finances to shift. None of this unique, everyone has to do it at some point, I suppose, but in my case if tell on me. I did adequately. I’m great in a crisis, merely ok in an ongoing state of duress. Barely-functional under normal circumstances.

As a result of all this, I feel oddly numb when I think about him. I packed it down so tight, suppressed it so thoroughly, even banishing him from my daydreams. (I daydream a lot). I was very afraid that if I wrote down the things I was feeling – like how it’s been years and I still can’t bring myself to sit in his chair – it would all come flooding out, and I’d be a basket case, and life would get worse for everyone, particularly my mentally-ill mother. And me. I definitely feared it would roll back on me.

A week or so ago my dad turned up in my dreams. Because it was a dream I didn’t remember that he was dead. I just said, “Oh, hi dad,” and he nodded and sat down while I went on about whatever nonsense was going on in the story. Eventually I woke up to go to the bathroom (Because I’m 50), and when I laid back down again, I realized he’d been there. I was suddenly sorry I missed him. Not sad, oddly, but just sorry. I tried to will him back as I drifted off again, but, no luck, he was gone.

Now, I know it wasn’t him. My belief in the supernatural is…measured… at best. I believe in God and an afterlife, but not ghosts or sleepytime messages from beyond the grave. That stuff doesn’t happen. I know full well that whatever goes on in my unconscious mind is a product of my unconscious mind, something I’m telling myself, sometimes with a reason, but mostly just random. I know all that. More importantly, I believe it.

Still, the next morning I was sorry that I had largely ignored him in the dream. Even if it was my own subconscious speaking to me in his voice, it would have been nice to hear his voice again. It’s been so damn long.

Now, anyone who knew my dad could tell you he was a great guy. I called him “A living saint,” and he always bristled at that out of humility, but it’s really hard to stress how great a guy he was, and what a long shadow he’s cast as a result. He was a living Horatio Alger story, only without the creepy understated homoerotic elements.

His family was poor in the Great Depression. His mom ran off when he was three. He was homeless, but managed to survive and be a normal kid. Played with the kids with houses, went to school, slept in a coal cellar. Eventually the state picked him up and put him in an orphanage, which he hated.  My grandfather eventually re-married so he could get custody of his kids back, then the entire family moved to Florida, where the Child Welfare laws were unreasonably lax even then.

They were still dirt poor, but they had a house. My dad took odd jobs, mostly as a delivery boy on his bike, and the family frequently lived off of stuff that washed up on the beach. Eventually he graduated high school, joined the USAF, served out the Korean War, GI Billed his way through college, became an Aerospace engineer, and ended up working for NASA in the Apollo/Skylab glory days.

Then he lost everything because Congress effectively shut down NASA in 1973/4.

He started over again. This time he went into business, and my mom went nuts, and we moved, and working – no joke – sixteen hours a day he managed to build a successful career for himself capable of supporting all of us in nearly-patrician fashion. He could easily have been a millionaire, but his opinion was, “What do you need all that money for? As long as you’re comfortable, isn’t that enough?” He was a deacon at the church, honest to a fault, a great guy. He built his life from scratch *Twice.* The second time in middle age.

He died at Eighty. He looked 60 or 65. He took care of my mom, and he took care of me (I’m mentally ill too, just in a more entertaining fashion than my mom) and while that wasn’t the life he wanted – come on, everyone wants a *normal* family – he never once complained. It was just his lot in life, and he accepted it and worked to make it better.

the impressive details of his life aren’t really why I’m thinking of him, though. I’m thinking of the “Living Saint” quality that he had, and it struck me today that really, he made it through life uncorrupted. He didn’t lie, cheat, steal, or tolerate those who did. He didn’t hate anyone, and he held true to his values even when they were unpopular. He treated people of all races equally long before that was the norm. He made it through life assuming the best of everyone, and because he so clearly assumed that, most people tried to live up to it. He made life better for the people around him, just by merely being him.

I mean, yeah, he had some negative qualities too, everyone does, but in his case they were trivial.

I’m told the definition of “Saint” comes from the latin word meaning “Set Apart.” If so, that’s definitely my dad. Somehow he made it from one side of life to the other still pure of heart like a child, still full of faith for all the good stuff in life, and still believing in the future. So many people don’t. So many people, like me, just kind of give up. My dad, though? He was a good man from start to finish.

I miss him. I feel numb about him, but when I think about his fundamental goodness, I can feel…something? I’m not sure what, but something more vital than the little glimmerings of all the memories I’ve compressed into a little ball in my soul. I can’t take him out of that ball and look at him, or think about him. It’s been too long. I couldn’t grieve now even if I had the option to. I’ve grown coarse and gnarled and complicated and sad and self-loathing in ways he never did. That opportunity is shot, and will not return.

But when I think about how good he was, it always makes me smile.

That’s not much, I know. It’s enough, though. For now, anyway.

SUNDAY SERMON: My unusual take on the book of Revelation

The Revelation, the conclusion of the Bible is attributed to the apostle John was writing in the 90s. Given its trippy imagery, and imminent eschatology, it’s always been a source of unhealthy obsession for my fellow Christians. Not least of which because John *clearly* thought this stuff was happening any day, and yet here we are more than 2000 years later and, well, it hasn’t.

There are many theories to explain this, and apologetic interpretations to explain this. Most of them range from ignorance to outright lunacy, with a layover in con-job somewhere in the middle. This is my take on it, which is far from unique, but is very unusual. It mostly comes from reading Dr. Hugh Schoenfeld in his 1988 book, “The Original New Testament.”

Now, the Apostle John would have lived through the First Jewish War of 66-70 AD, which lasted almost exactly 3 1/2 years. He was talking about prophecy and visions, but he had to do it in a manner that was not immediately obvious to his oppressors, so he used highly elliptical imagery, mostly culled from Daniel. However, it’s important to remember that he was writing for his immediate audience: late 1st Century Christians, and *NOT* 21st Century Christians. Thus he uses allusions and things that THEY would easily understand, but which are befuddling to us because we live in a different time, place, culture, and political reality than they did.

Imagine you’re writing a letter to a friend, and it’s full of coded Simpsons references. Imagine someone in 4200 AD trying to understand it. They can’t without understanding our period. Likewise we cant’ without understanding the period Revelation was written in.

When you take the time to study it from a historical perspective you find that pretty much everything up until “There was silence in heaven for about a half an hour” is a direct (Yet coded) reference to specific instances from the 66-70 war. Wormwood refers to the Roman practice of poisoning wells. The water becoming as blood refers to the Battle of Joppa in which there were so many dead bodies that the water actually did turn red. The locusts are the Roman army with their horsehair helmets. The scorpions are (IIRC, I don’t have my notes right now) the Assyrian cavalry. The number of the beast is *ALSO* the number of the Roman Tax Stamp used during the rein of the Emperor Dominitian, and so on.

All this stuff had already happened. It wasn’t stuff that was yet to happen, it was in the past. John was getting across the idea that the end times were already upon them, and that they’ve lived through a lot of it.

At the “Silence in heaven for about a half an hour” part, this shifts from relating the war to actually talking about The Future. In context, the “Silence” is a kind of time out between the first half of this tribulation (Which has already past) and the second half, which is yet to come. God has extended this time out because He is merciful and wishes as many as possible to be saved before the end, but make no mistake: The end *IS* coming, eventually. Since the war lasted 3.5 years, John assumes the 2nd half will last 3.5 years, hence 7 years of (Active) tribulation.

So there you go: Half of Revelation has already come and gone.

ANNOUNCEMENT: I finished Big Pharma!

I just finished writing the novel, “Big Pharma,” which I’ve been working on (And mostly fighting my anxieties about) for a bit over a year.

About a year and a half ago, maybe a little under, my friend James Stephen Graham told me he was dying. He’d written several space adventure novels in an ongoing series, and there was one that he was about 4/5ths done with, which he’d obviously be unable to finish. He asked me if I’d do it for him. I said, sure, of course, I’d be glad to.

Since then I have taken a *SHAMEFULLY* long time finishing the manuscript. (And, as I said, mostly fighting my own anxieties about doing justice to my late friend’s work). I read and re-read his other books, took extensive notes, wrote, got frustrated that I wasn’t really capturing his voice, started over again, got frustrated. It wasn’t hard work, all the details and outlines I could need were given to me, but I was basically fighting myself. I do that a lot.

Anyway, the manuscript is done. Now I need a British friend of mine to translate my portions from American to British (You know, spelling, weirdo quotation marks, etc) so it’s not a jarring transition for the reader. Then a quick formatting edit, and then it’s online.

This also ends my self-imposed exile from writing.

To all Jim’s fans, and his wife Vivien, I truely, deeply apologize for the delays.

You can find Jim’s other books here https://www.amazon.com/…/B0…/ref=bseries_auth_1_B006OM9GX0_1

MOVIE REVIEW: “Pokemon: I Choose You” (2017)

This is a gorgeous movie. I really wish I’d been able to see it on the big screen.

Much to my surprise, that actually was an option. They hadn’t released a Pokemon movie theatrically in the US sine 2001, which was, like sixteen movies ago. Turns out that since this is the twentieth anniversary film in the franchise (And the twentieth film total – yikes!), it went into limited release, whereas the others have always been dumped on Cartoon Network or DVD or wherever. Believe it or not, it actually played in my dinky-assed market (Tampa) but only for two days, and in a really bad neighborhood (University Square Mall) which I just kinda didn’t want to chance after dark. I’m uneasy in that place during the day. There’s only like 6 or 7 stores still open, and it’s mostly gangs and pushers and hookers wandering around. Which is a shame because they blew a lot of money building that new food court.

But I digress…

Pokemon movies are always much better looking than you’d expect. Yeah, they’re generally disappointing, and the stories are frequently meh and the scripts don’t really feel fully-cooked, presumably because they’re cranking out one of these a year. Even so, they’re way, way better animated than the shows, and the shorts before the film are adorable, so even if it’s a terrible flick you can just zone out and enjoy it for how pretty it is. Except for “Genesect and the Legend Awakened.” That one sucked.

But I’m not digressing this time: This movie is absolutely far-and-away the most gorgeous Pokemon film ever. It’s nearly Studio Ghibli quality in some parts. They really pulled out all the stops for this one as part of the “Wow, can you believe it’s been two decades and we’re still going strong?” celebration.

Of course even coming up with a concept for a movie like this is difficult. What can you give the fans that they haven’t already seen a dozen times before? You can’t just dump another “Jirachi The Wishmaker,” on them. They need something new and different. At the same time, it needs to be a celebration of the past of the franchise. What do you do? What do you do?

The solution was pretty brilliant: Do an alternate-world version of the start of Ash’s adventures. I admit I thought this was pretty dodgy when I first heard of it, but, yeah, it really was clever.

The first 10 minutes are basically a remake of the first episode of the entire series in compressed form. Ash gets Pikachu, who doesn’t like him, they head off on their Pokemon Journey. They get in trouble, Ash risks his life and gets injured saving Pikachu, and they’re best friends from then on. At the end of the episode they see Ho-Oh, one of the legendary Pokemon. There’s no real significance to this, it’s just an omen of a bright future for him. In the next episode he meets his companion Misty, and an episode after that he meets Brock, and that’s your basic lineup for the next six years.

In this version of things, Ho-Oh happens to drop a feather while flying overhead. Ash catches it, and as a result he goes off on a different course. He turns left instead of right, basically. As a result he never meets Misty or Brock, and he’s on his own a lot longer. This results in him being less successful as a trainer, but more self-reliant than we’re used to seeing him. We see all this mostly in montage, but eventually he meets up with two never-before-heard-of companions: A girl named Verity and Sorrel, a wiser, more intellectually curious trainer.

They quickly recognize the importance of the feather, and the three of them spend the rest of the movie on a side-quest, finding their way to Ho-Oh, rescuing Charmander from an abusive trainer, and having repeated run-ins with the trainer, who’s the closest thing this movie has to a big bad.

Eventually they meet Ho-Oh in the climax, the bad guy is defeated and is somewhat repentant, Ash and his new pals go their separate ways, “And the journey continues.”

What makes this brilliant? Well, we do get to see Classic Ash again (And Pikachu is even somewhat redesigned to look midway between his current appearance and the older “90s Chu” version. We get to revisit a bunch of stuff from the first year of the show and yet it all feels new because it’s fundamentally not retreading the same old ground.

It’s also interesting because the stakes aren’t so high. We’ve already seen Ash save the world 6 or 7 times in 20 films, and save cities at least as many. (Honestly, Ash seems chosen of the Pokegods to be their fixer) This time out nothing much is at risk, other than an evil ghost type trying to corrupt the feather which…will be bad for some reason I never quite understood. It’s a personal story. It looks in instead of out, and that’s really what they needed to do here.

The relationship between Pikachu and Ash is pretty heartwarming. They have always been close, of course, but here it’s more like father and child or big brother and little brother. We see a lot of scenes of them just playing, and there’s no other way to say it, it’s just cute as hell. We also find out the reason for the twenty-year mystery as to why Pikachu refuses to go into his pokeball. A lot of people have complained about that scene, and the answer honestly doesn’t entirely make sense, but if it doesn’t make you tear up a little bit, then you just don’t have a heart. Pikachu’s reaction when Ash dies is also pretty gut-wrenching, though undercut a bit because we know he won’t stay dead. (Ash is very death-prone, but he always resurrects. Again: Chosen of the pokegods)

The B-story about Charmander and his evil trainer is good, too. The first scene is Ash walking along in the woods in the rain. He sees a Charmander sitting on a rock, looking like an abandoned baby, which, of course he is. This is a near-recreation of the same sequence from the show, but in THIS version, when Charmander’s master comes out of the woods, Charmander jumps up and runs towards him with his arms outstretched like a scared toddler (Which he is) and hugs his leg, and the trainer just kicks him away. Again, if this doesn’t put a lump in your throat then you’re probably just not a good person.

There’s also some trippy sequences like the one where Ash hallucinates our world, the real world, and doesn’t even remember Pokemon exist.

Reviews for this movie have not been very good. That’s fair. I’ll be honest: Some of this stuff lands and some of it doesn’t. I get why they did what they did. They took some chances. The story lacks urgency given the absence of a threat, which probably put some people off. The character of Verity doesn’t make much of an impression. Sorrell is a little on the bland side, but a really harrowing flashback to him as a kid more than makes up for that (Again: Lump-in-the-throat time. If it doesn’t affect you, you should probably seek counseling). There’s no real reason for Team Rocket to keep showing up. I get them turning up in a cameo or something, but their repeated appearances through the film add nothing and simply aren’t funny.  Ash’s brief time in the world of the dead is cool looking (And eerily similar to his pokemon-free dream sequence earlier on), but it lacks payoff. It feels like he should have done something there, something that he wasn’t able to do when alive, though I have no idea what that might be. And, yes, they didn’t explore the alternate timeline as thoroughly as they could have.

Just the same…this whole is greater than the sum of the parts. It took a big chance, unlike the others, and is flat-out gorgeous, and is the only Pokemovie that ever raised any real emotions in me. Strongly reccomended.

The Creation of Man: Greek Style

My son was just discussing the Prometheus legend with me, and it struck me that it’s one of those things everyone has vaguely heard of (“Don’t tamper in the gods’ domain, or they’ll kick your ass”), but most people don’t really know. So here’s the deal:

Titans outrank gods. The Titans ruled the universe. They were pretty awful, though, so the gods rebelled and overthrew the Titans and took over the universe. Several of the Titans recognized that this was for the best, so during the course of the war, they abandoned their own kind and joined the gods.

Among these turncoats were Prometheus and his brother Epimetheus. Their names mean “Forethought” and “Afterthought,” respectively, but I prefer to think of them as “Jerkass” and “Dumbass,” as as Prometheus was a trickster, and Epimethius was, well, dumb.

(“Tricksters” are like Anansi in African mythology, or Loki in Norse mythology [which has nothing to do with the depiction of him in Marvel]. They’re not evil, they’re frequently chaotic and always unpredictable. Think of Prometheus as Daffy Duck.)

Because they’d been allies in the war, the brothers were allowed to live in Olympus. Prometheus was a little paranoid of the gods because they’d just overthrown their more-or-less rightful leaders, and also because they were notoriously fickle. As Epimetheus was kind of a dope, they said, “You there! Go down to earth and do something to make it pretty so we have nice views. We really don’t care what.” Epimetheus then created nature. (Up to this point, earth was just a rock with occasional water)

Prometheus saw this and thought, “Cool! I want to try!” As his brother had already created animals, he decided to make the best animal ever: Man. Mostly he did this to piss off the gods.

The gods were super-pissed, and were looking at wiping us all out, but eventually they realized we were useful insofar as we made the whole ‘offerings’ thing easier. How were offerings done before there were people? Who the crap knows. It’s mythology. It’s drunken and sloppy at the best of times. So the gods allowed us to live, but they refused to let the brothers back into Olympus as punishment. Also, humans were limited to not being immortal, nor having any supernatural powers.

Time passes, and Prometheus has grown kind of fond of his practical joke, so he decides to give them something that will lift them above being mere animals. He sneaks into Olympus, steals fire from the gods, and gives it to man, thus starting civilization. Yay! This was not entirely humanitarian, though. He was still in large part motivated by a desire to piss off the gods.

Which he did. They chained him to a rock, while a giant monster bird would peck his liver out of his body every day and eat it. Prometheus’ liver would grow back every day, and get eaten out again. Because the gods are jerks. This, by the way, is where earthquakes come from: Prometheus convulsing and yanking on his unbreakable chains.

The story continues: Civilization is starting, and while he’s a dim bulb by divine standards, he’s a bright light to cavemen everywhere. The gods decide to punish the thing Epimetheus loved, rather than him directly. They created Pandora from scratch, specifically designing her to be curious. Then they sent her down with her jar full of plague and disease and said, “Don’t open it. Yo! Epimetheus! Marry this chick!” “Gosh, thanks, Zeus!” “Don’t mention it, kid.”

So of course she opened the jar (It’s not a box, it’s an amphora) and let out just every awful thing on earth, torturing humanity for all existence.

The funky thing about this is that Prometheus was a prophecy god. He did all this *knowing* full well what would happen. Talk about committing to a gag! And we’re left to think that even with all the plauges and crap, mankind was still better off than it was before we had fire.

Amnesty International has been protesting for several years, trying to get Prometheus released, but thus far nothing has come of it.

Patrick and Curi and why I suck at Closure.

Recently I sent out two “Goodbye forever, please don’t write me back” letters to two of my once-and-former best friends. They didn’t do anything wrong or cross me or anything, I just needed to end stuff, and I also need closure because I’m 50, and that’s what fat, middle-aged overdramatic crazy people entering the third act of their lives do. I guess. I’m new at this.
 
The impetus was simply that I’ve had a lot of death in my life lately. Since the start of the year I’ve lost three people, plus a fourth who died a while back and I just found out about it this year. Plus a fifth who’s still alive, but is dead to me. I realize that’s melodramatic, he’s not really dead, but emotionally he went on that same pile.
 
Now, both of these people were folks I was really close to, and who were really important to me at some stage in my life. Patrick “Bad News” Hughes basically transformed me from a humorless, scared-of-girls, fanatical kid who got frightened by hearing “American Pie” on the radio, decided all popular music was satanic, and stopped listening, into, well, *me.* Then he disappeared for a long time, and turned up again around 2001, and we hit it off immediately.
 
Curi was a super-smart teenaged girl who started college at 16 and needed some positive reinforcement from a big brother figure who didn’t actually want anything from her. She inspired me to get back into music again, after many years away.
 
So these folks drifted away over time, to the point where I’d send out my rambling, hilariously profane Christmas letters, and that was about it. Every other year or so, I’d drop another letter on Patrick, just to see if he’d email me or whatever. He never did. Curi would send the occasional “I want you to know I always read everything you send,” comment, and nothing more. You never know how to take that. Is it “I like hearing from you,” or is it “My flesh crawls when I read your letters?” In any event, there was never any other follow up from her.
 
After a while, writing letters to people who never write you back begins to seem creepy and stalkerish. I hadn’t realized it, but I haven’t heard from Patrick in EIGHT years! I decided I needed to say goodbye, and have a period at the end of that sentence. Not because they’d done anything wrong, just because it was important to close out those files in my head, you know?
 
Then Patrick’s letter got returned as “undeliverable,” and I felt cheated. If I had to keep one of ’em, I’d keep Curi, who’s a loveable kid sister. Patrick is an accurately self-described asshole who is no end of fun and challenges me to try new things, then gets pissed off at me for whatever reason, and disappears.
 
So, yeah, the better of the two probably thinks I hate her and the worse of the two probably thinks I’m still pinin’ away for him to drop me a line.
 
Typically my attempts at closure end with guilt (Curi) and an absence of closure (Patrick)

Mentally Ill Relative Freakout (Diary. Day 18,505)

I’ve written before about how difficult it is to take care of a mentally ill relative. I don’t recall if I mentioned that I, myself, am mentally ill as well, but if not, big surprise: I’m nuts.  As you can imagine this exacerbates matters considerably.

One of these is that it’s very easy to spiral out of control. You have to keep a very tight rein on yourself, stay stoical, don’t get engaged. Don’t get happy when the person in your charge praises you, don’t get unhappy when they curse you, because both will happen a lot.

If you let yourself get up, you will sure as shooting get bitchslapped down, it it will hurt twice as bad because you fell twice as far. If you let yourself feel anything when they attack you, or attack people you love, then you just have to have thick skin about it. Distract them, or find an excuse to leave without being too obvious about it, or go to a secret dreamland that you’ve developed. (In my case it’s a domed version of Progress City on the planet Venus. I like Venus. It’s more interesting than Mars, and gets no love)

The hardest part is when they attack people you love, particularly if they’re prone to perseverating on it. “That thing they did,” comes up again and again and again, and if you ask them not to talk about it, they talk about it twice as much and accuse you of never wanting to talk about stuff, about trying to hide things, about how your loved one is going behind your back and doing stuff that you don’t know about, they talk about things that happened fifteen years ago as if they happened yesterday.

It’s all paranoid bullshit, but whereas you can take attacks on yourself on the chin and come back for more, your every instinct is to protect the ones you love. Those attacks hurt three times as bad, so it’s hard not to give in to rage.

The black joke of all this is that if you do give in, if it just accumulates, and you snap, the mentally ill person won’t understand it at all. You can scream and shout and cry and their perspective is so completely skewed that they will not be able to attach effect to cause. They can’t tie your anger/hysteria/sadness/tears to anything they’ve done.

And if you cite bad things they did in the past, odds are they don’t remember it. Let’s say someone used to beat you up 45 years ago, but they’re nuts and have had many nervous breakdownds and are very ego-centonic, they just don’t remember it. Or they remember it in some skewed fashion. Confronting them about it brings you nothing, no peace, no resolution, no apologies.

You may have been hiding under your bed while they stomped around threatening to beat the shit out of you and then throw you out of the house, or terrified when they abandoned you in a parking lot, and because you were a little kid it was the most traumatic, horrible thing in the world. To them it was just another Tuesday, though, nothing remarkable to stick in their mind. If they’ve got a for-shit memory to begin with, it’s even worse. So why bring it up? Why bring anything up? Why get mad? It simply scares them and accomplishes nothing because they’re fucking nuts, and can’t understand even normal things.

I’ve been caring for a mentally ill relative for six years now, and last night I snapped. It’s my fault. I let myself get elated. I took the lid off my Bipolar Disorder and let it boil over, because I was happy and excited about something,  and then it all got slapped away and I fell, and I was very depressed. Then the crazy person started attacking one of my loved ones, the same damn thing that had been said a million times before, and I just snapped.

I screamed, I cursed, I used very foul language, I shook my finger, I fell to the ground crying, I lost it. The dam burst. All the vile, black stuff in me came out in one big flood that horrified me, and merely confused them. Occasionally they grasped enough of it to understand it was a criticism, and then did the big baby defense move of “Well, if I’m saying the wrong thing, then you just never need to worry about me talking again, because clearly I can’t talk,” or whatever “Woe is me” move they think will make them seem like the victim instead of the instigator. Their apologies are mostly just to shut you up, and they don’t know what they’re apologizing for in the first place. It’s circular.

And I suppose at some point you *are* attacking. At some point it probably becomes mean. I never hit anyone in my life, I back away from arguments, I didn’t hit or threaten anyone last night, but at some point in the torrent you want to make them feel as badly as you do. They did this to you, after all. It’s only fair that they should feel the despair and hopelessness and crushing weight that comes from caring for them every day for two thousand one hundred and ninety one days, sometimes driving down to their house three times a day for several days in a row, suffering abuse and just the weight of having someone who’s constantly sick, constantly complaining, constantly finding something miserable to complain about, someone with little or no empahty, who’s driven away all their own friend and relatives, so that there is literally *no one* but yourself for them to rely on.

It wears down your empathy. You still love them, but it gets harder and harder to care about them. And you look forward and see no end in sight. They could live another ten years, fifteen, and it will never be normal. It’ll never stop. It will never, never, never stop. It’s very exhausting physically and emotionally and spiritually and psychologically, and stressful. Oh boy is it stressful. I have a diagnosis of PTSD. I got that from caring for this relative. Entirely from that. Rapid Cycling Manic Depressive guy with PTSD. That’s a winning combination, right?

If that’s not bad enough, there’s a spillover effect on your family. They see you miserable all the time, and they get to feeling bad, too. You’re away from home for hours a day taking care of the lunatic, which means less time to spend with the people you love. They get sad, they miss you. It fucks up their lives as well. If you’re self-loathing, like I am, then that’s a huge burden as well, and it hurts the people you love.

But what can you do? You can’t abandon the crazy relative. That would be cruel. So you just keep taking it on the chin, and packing down all your anger and resentment in a little ball, fighting to keep it from getting out. And then, every few years it does. And then you spend the next six months trying to fix it.

So that was my friday night. How’s by you guys?

I just realized why I only write short stories

I had an interesting realization this morning.

As my readers probably know, I work very fast. Inspiration hits, I start writing, and I don’t stop until the story is done. I might type for eight or ten hours straight, because if I stop for anything longer than a trip to the can, I’ll lose the holy fire of inspiration, and the story will die on the vine.

It’s really not a great way to run a railroad, I’ll be the first to admit. It limits me to short stories, rather than longer work, and undoubtedly it’s responsible for my giddy-yet-somewhat-unhinged style. It’s not bad, it’s kind of unique, but it’s also limiting.

I had always assumed this was the result of my fairly short attention span, but I just realized this morning that it’s really my anxieties.

No, seriously: I take a half hour off to get lunch, and I begin to dread going back to it. I think, “This is terrible, no one’s going to read it anyway, why am I doing this?” I begin to dread how much of the work still lies ahead of me. I put it off. I question myself. I berate my talent. (I know I have talent objectively, but the longer I postpone things, the more I begin to doubt it emotionally). I take the night off, and it’s almost a guarantee that the story will be abandoned.

That’s why, I think, I only do short stories: That’s as much as I can manage before my inherent “Randy can’t do anything” feelings grow too big to be ignored. If I do it the moment the inspiration hits, I can maybe manage to bang a story out before my subconscious notices and paralyzes me. If I delay, then I’m dead before I can do anything at all.

That’s my suspicion this week, anyway.