theferrett: (Meazel)

Last night, I signed a contract authorizing the reprint of one of my stories.  I signed it, went, “That’s nice,” and went back to writing my novel.

About half an hour later, I realized that the magazine I had signed the reprint contract for was one of my goals when I graduated Clarion in 2008.  I burned to be in that magazine.  And I wrote story after story, each time convinced this would be the one that got through, and piled up at least twenty rejections.

I remember staring at the page, thinking You’ll never make it.  You’ll never have a professional sale.  And if you do, you won’t have it there.

A novel seemed unattainable. Getting 3,500 words of mine into a magazine?  Seemed like the biggest challenge in the world.

And it was for me, back then.  I had to write for another four years, smashing my heart into the keyboard night after night, asking people to rip my stories to shreds so I could ruthlessly excise any part that did not function, before I eventually sold a story to them.  I worked so hard to get there.

That first professional story sale? I took the night off from writing. I poured myself a celebratory drink. I took Gini out to a dinner, I texted all my friends, I did a big post with photos showing my triumph.

Now?  Years later, I have my first novel out – and it’s done well, not breaking any sales records or anything, but it’s got some nice reviews and some people really excited about the sequel dropping in October.  And when I got an editor asking, “We were thinking we wanted a story from you, do you have anything we could reprint?” it was nice – very nice – but it was “Wow, that makes my evening,” not the sort of thing where I stop everything and tell Gini “We’re going out to dinner and getting a bottle of champagne, this deserves A Moment.”

That’s how publishing works. Sell a story? You haven’t gotten nominated for an award. Got nominated for an award?  You haven’t sold a novel. Sold a novel?  The reviews weren’t good.  You got good reviews? Well, it wasn’t a bestseller.  A bestseller? Well, it wasn’t a real bestseller, there’s no movie option….

You wonder why authors are so fucking neurotic.  It’s because the moment they climb the ladder, the rung beneath them ceases to exist.  There’s only the rungs above them, and they’re ridiculously high, and you may never get there.

This is always true of every rung.  Publishing’s a lot of skill and a lot of luck, but you can only control the one.  So you max out on skill and hope the dice roll your way.  Hell, I could submit a story to them now and still get it rejected for various reasons – maybe I wasn’t “on” that day when I wrote that story, maybe they just bought a similar one, maybe the tale doesn’t fit the image they’re trying to sell.  It’s still a struggle for me to sell a story.

But it is no longer an unattainable thing. It’s merely something that’s difficult.

And because of that, I am going to pause for a moment now and ponder this sale.  I’m going to consider the fact that, at least to some subset of professionals, “A Ferrett Steinmetz story” is a desirable genre.  That they’d sought me out to ask for this.  That this awesome magazine, which I’ll announce in time, will be reprinting a tale of mine – and it’s one of my favorites.

Ferrett of 2008 would never have imagined this happening.

Ferrett of 2015 is going to take a moment to be Ferrett of 2008, and break open a little bottle of champagne.

Or at least a root beer.  But this celebratory root beer will be savored.

Cross-posted from Ferrett's Real Blog.

theferrett: (Meazel)

So as usual, Ashley my mad manicurist worked her magic the other night.  I told her, “Do X-Men nails,” but the designs for X-Men nails we skimmed through were kiiiinda boring.

But Avengers nails?  Much more impressive.

Untitled

The little chibi Iron Man is, I find, particularly adorable.

I also forgot to mention the last set of nails I got, which were my “Music Mama” nails:

Untitled

These nails I liked, but in retrospect her choice of light blue for the music notes on the staves muddied the composition. People knew my nails were pretty, but the piano thumbnails were the only clue this was music until they looked closely.  (And that’s a G-cleft heart in red on the highlight nails.)

Still, with my fabulous glittery Broadway nails, these were the gayest nails I ever had. I felt fabulous.

Cross-posted from Ferrett's Real Blog.

theferrett: (Meazel)

I’ll be presenting at Beyond the Love in November – which I’m super-stoked about. Beyond the Love is considered one of the best polyamory conferences in America, and I’ve heard nothing but excellent experiences from the folks who’ve attended.  To even be asked there is an extremely flattering compliment to the work I’ve put in analyzing polyamorous relationships.

But I’ve also been asked to give the keynote speech to kick off the convention, which is… really quite humbling. It’ll be a short speech, but to be entrusted to set the tone for the conference is something I take quite seriously.

If you’re interested in attending, it’s held in Columbus, Ohio on the weekend of November 13th.  I’ll be giving talks on troubleshooting broken polyamory, and on how to break up like a goddamned grownup.  I’d be happy to see you there.

(And as a separate disclaimer, if y’all want me to talk in your town, I merely ask that I don’t lose money on the experience. Talk to your con holders about travel expenses and putting me up. Particularly, you know, if you live in Australia.  I really wanna go to Australia some day.)

Cross-posted from Ferrett's Real Blog.

theferrett: (Meazel)

In speculative fiction, there are only three objects, moved from place to place, to commit nonviolent crimes:

  • Bread, stolen to feed your family;
  • Drugs, smuggled to demonstrate your ability to evade the law;
  • Gold and/or jewelry, removed from their vault in a fantastic heist and/or bank robbery.

That’s it.  That’s all the nonviolent crimes there are in fiction.

But when Robert Bennett and John Chu recommended the fantastic Planet Money podcast to me, they forgot to tell me that this podcast’s secret name was “The Fantabulous Compendium Of Immensely Stupid Crimes.”  I’ve only been listening for a few weeks, and already I have heard the hubbub over the following crimes being committed:

  • The man who defied the Raisin Administrative Committee to illegally box his raisins, which triggered a Supreme Court case;
  • The man who told the mayor of Boston “Fuck you, I can too auction off parking spaces,” and promptly discovered why telling Boston politicians to go fuck themselves is an unwise maneuver;
  • The man who went to jail for not watering his lawn, in perhaps the best episode title ever: “Lawn Order.”

And the more you listen to The Fantabulous Compendium Of Immensely Stupid Crimes, the more you come to realize that a) there are a lot of ways to make money by selling things, and b) there are a lot of businessmen and lawmakers who want to stop people from selling things, so c) there are a stupendous amount of absurd crimes involving obscure edge cases that people’s lives literally depend on.

And yet I can’t remember the last time I read a fantasy novel that revolved around something as simple as smuggling (perfectly legal) cigarettes to avoid taxes.  Or growing yams in your basement because the King’s Yam Council had seized all your spare yams.  Or even escorting illegal elves across the border.

Point is, the world is filled with such a variety of bizarre crimes, and yet our templates in fantasy are so goddamned small.  Where are the money-washers?  The illegal slakemoth-breeders?  The guys who sell chimera pelts to sad old men who think sniffing the pelts will help them get it up?

I want so much more from fantasy, and yet we’re always returning to the same three scenes and a mugging.  Think big, fantasy. Think big.

Cross-posted from Ferrett's Real Blog.

theferrett: (Meazel)

So I know nothing about rap. Not that I’m one of those people who sneer “God save me from rap and country music!”- but when I was growing up, the primary exchange of music was The Mix Tape.  I like KISS because my friend Dean made me a mix tape of the best KISS songs. I like Frank Zappa because my friend Mark made me a mix tape of Frank Zappa.  I like punk because Neal and Rocco made me mix tapes of punk.

I knew no one who liked rap, and hence, never got into rap.  As such, my knowledge is sporadic – I know a couple of tunes, but couldn’t pick out a West Coast vs. East Coast beef.

As such, going to see “Straight Outta Compton” was an interesting experience.

First off, “Straight Outta Compton” is a good movie. I have my Pee Test when it comes to films – am I sufficiently interested in this movie that my teacup-sized bladder can distract me?  And though SoC was 2.5 hours and a 40-oz drink, I kept my ass in the seat.  Great story.

Yet SoC is clearly a movie meant for people other than me.  For example: early on, in the studio, the guys talk Eazy-E – who has, until now, provided only their money – into rapping.  The music starts up.  It’s clearly a familiar riff.  Eazy-E steps up to the mic, swaggers a bit –

And blows the line.  Off-tempo, terrible delivery, you name it.

The scene still works if you’re ignorant, but clearly this played off of expectations where the audience was ready for the first magic of That Track to drop.

Likewise, SoC has a fair number of Dramatic Pauses where they’re about to announce their new track, or the company they’re starting, and someone asks them what the name is – and – they – hold, for no good reason except to build an anticipation for a Significant Moment that I had no idea was coming.

Hell, they don’t even bother to introduce Suge Knight.  He just shows up without introduction.  Fortunately, he’s such a menace it becomes clear that he’s a bad guy.  Death Row records is presented as a literal hell, complete with torture chambers.

SoC is not a subtle movie. At one point, a character contracts a terminal illness, which is conveyed by them coughing dramatically.  Yet in a way that works better – this is an old-fashioned popcorn drama, where everyone’s presented in clear clean lines (Dre is talented but naive! Ice Cube is suspicious but hard-working! Eazy-E wants the money and the women!) and the plot churns along.  It’s not subtle, but it’s a big story, and frankly, the Ray Charles biopic attempted to be subtle and it got boring.  This is the Greatest Hits track of drama, where if it’s not over-the-top dramatic, fuck it, leave it on the sidelines.

And I spent a lot of the walk home with Gini wondering if this movie was Oscar-worthy.  Paul Giamatti put in a great performance, I know that – but I know that because I’ve seen Paul Giamatti work before, and this was different than his other work.

But as for the three actors who played Eazy-E, Ice Cube, and Dr. Dre? I have no idea how to calibrate. I’ve never seen them work before so I don’t know their baseline – Ice Cube looks a hell of a lot like Ice Cube, but that’s because he’s Ice Cube’s son – and I have insufficient familiarity with Dr. Dre to know whether these guys have captured his essence.  So was it good acting?  Zero clue.  They kept my attention in a bombastic script, and that’s all the quality I can speak to.

I know enough not to take this as history.  I know that some of the other NWA members got shafted in this biopic because a) there’s not enough space, and b) Dr. Dre and Cube produced it, so guess who gets to be the stars?  And I know that it glosses over the fantastic misogyny present in a lot of NWA’s songs and backstage actions, and probably their youth wasn’t as idealized.

Still. A good movie. Brought me up to speed on a lot of the inner tensions, and how fame (and bad contracts, and money) can split friends apart.  I’d recommend it, even if you’re basically a rap yutz like me.

Cross-posted from Ferrett's Real Blog.

theferrett: (Meazel)

During the Hugos – the science-fiction Oscars – a friend of mine made a pro-LGBT Tweet about the future of science fiction that caught the attention of the anti-Social Justice crowd.  Needless to say, things turned ugly for her fairly quickly.

Watching the insults mutate was a welcome reminder in how bullies work.

At first, they told her to shut up about science fiction, as she apparently didn’t know how things worked in the business.  Bad move, as she was an officer of the Science Fiction Writers’ Association for several years, has edited anthologies, and handles the PR for several quality authors.  Accusing her of being ignorant is ignorance, and could have been neatly sidestepped by a simple Google search for her name.

When they lost on that front, they moved to accusing her to being undesirable, ugly, and was doing this entirely because she was unable to get laid.  Which also doesn’t work. She’s stunningly attractive, and while I can’t speak to the fine details of her social life, she does not appear to have any problems attracting companionship.

When that didn’t work, they then…

Oh, does it matter?  It doesn’t, really.  Because that’s how bullies function.  They really don’t care who you are – they’ll just keep flinging shit at the walls until one of the insults eventually sticks.

Which isn’t to say that it doesn’t hurt when they eventually fumble onto an insult that describes you – but some of that pain comes from the shock of Oh, they’ve found me out, and really, they haven’t.  Most Internet pileups are an insult dictionary-attack: they haven’t guessed your password because they have a deep and meaningful relationship with you, they’ve guessed it because they have this list of “the 10,000 most common personality flaws” and they tried each one out in descending order until they stumbled across yours.

These insults are fundamentally meaningless because they don’t actually know what the fuck they’re saying.  They just hated what you had to say, and are trying to shame you into shutting up by trying keys at random in your door.

They will literally say anything if they think it’ll make you feel bad.

And that’s the inverse of how society usually works:  You smell like funky cheese, so your lover rejects you.  You’re incompetent, so your boss fires you.  You’re boring, so your friends don’t invite you out.  All painful, but it’s a clear sequence of cause and effect – here’s the reason, here’s the consequences.

Whereas when bullies come around, they have decided upon the consequence – this bitch needs to feel bad.  And then they start hunting for reasons to justify the consequences.

Yet if you watch carefully, their reasons don’t actually make sense most of the time.  Hey, you’re a – no I’m not.  Well, then you – no, I don’t. Certainly you must – I’ve never done that in my life, actually.

Now, none of this isn’t to say that an internet dogpile doesn’t suck syphilitic moose ass. It does. It’s always a little unnerving to realize that a bunch of people are working their asses off to try to make you cry.  And alas, society has trained most of us that if a hundred people are jeering and pointing, you must have done something wrong.

But you haven’t.  You said something they didn’t like – something they can’t actually argue with, because if they were smart enough to debate your concepts, they’d be off explaining why what you said was wrong.  And having lost the intellectual argument due to a lack of functioning neurons, they have now moved to the Shut this person up phase and will now throw bricks until one of them hits.

Chances are, they’ll eventually luck upon a bad description of you that fits.  But remember: they don’t actually care about that.  All they want is your tears followed by your silence.

You’re allowed either tears or silence, you know.  Engaging is exhausting.  Nobody’s obliged to battle phase-shifting morons.

But if you really wanna show those fuckers up, want to enrage them in the best way possible?  Keep talking.  Ignore them, and concentrate on spreading that original message they couldn’t effectively deny.  Because when you focus on that message and properly categorize the thousands of insults they’re blindly trying out on you, you come to realize that these aren’t insults but a modified jamming technique – filling the air with thousands of messy signals in an attempt to drown the broadcast that terrifies them.

The insults feel personal.  But just like what happened to my smart and competent friend, they only feel personal because they tried out several variations of insults that were so laughably not you that they didn’t fit, running down a long list until they found something that jarred.

That’s not actually personal.  They don’t know you.

They just know they want to shut you up.

Cross-posted from Ferrett's Real Blog.

theferrett: (Meazel)

Here’s how I survive, folks: I assume everyone’s a jerk on some level.

Not on every level, natch – it’s rare that someone’s a through-and-through jerk.  But even the nicest guy turns out to have this vague yet palpable bigotry towards, say, Pakistanis, and the sweetest girl you ever knew turns out to think Donald Trump has some good points.

Now, if you don’t assume everyone’s got a little jerkiness rolling around in them, then you feel betrayed – my God! I thought you were perfect! How could you let me down?  You thought you’d found the person who was Not A Jerk, and it turns out that when you look at them from the right angle there’s a big chunk of Jerk sticking out of their forehead.

Whereas I just assume everyone has some jerk in them: celebrities, friends, author-buddies, tiny babies, Peter Dinklage, whoever.  I just haven’t viewed them from the correct angle to see that jerkiness, but I assume it’ll show up sooner or later.

Doesn’t mean I can’t like ’em.  I think once you resign yourself to the fact that everyone’s jerky in the right circumstances, you come to rest a little easier: you don’t have to hunt for perfect friends.  You can like people who’ve got some serious flaws – which is good, because you’ve got some serious flaws, and hopefully people will like you.

This is not to say you shouldn’t be outraged when Your Best Buddy turns out to be a strident anti-vaxxer, of course. Call them out! Argue! Stir up a fuss!  But the “everyone’s a jerk” theory subtracts that feeling of betrayal that saps your day and makes you wonder how you’ll function when you haven’t found the True Person To Serve As Your Inspiration.

Everyone can inspire you, when viewed from a certain angle.  Take that inspiration to make yourself better.

And stop feeling like today’s jerkassery has ruined your faith in humanity.  A reasonable definition of “humanity” includes “jerkiness,” for honestly, that’s what we are.  Mostly nice.  With a solid streak of “jerk” running through us.

Cross-posted from Ferrett's Real Blog.

theferrett: (Meazel)

Occasionally, someone asks me, “Do you feel that Gini’s your soul mate? You’ve been dizzyingly, rapturously in love for fifteen years – and isn’t that destiny?”

Fuck no it isn’t.

Now, Gini and I liked each other a lot, which was the key to why we managed to somehow forge a connection over the Internets. We had a similar, if evil, sense of humor. We shared the same concept of fairness. We both liked fucking a whole lot.

But when we got together, man did we have a lot to work on.

Yeah, we live in an idyllic wonderland these days – but don’t ever forget we built this fucking thing, brick by brick. If you’d seen us a year after our marriage, you would have thought we were headed for divorce. Hell, at one point Gini flat-out told me she didn’t love me any more, and we spent six months figuring out what to do when that happened.

We fought until dawn sometimes, screaming as we slowly tried to determine how to be kind to each other without sacrificing the things that let us function.

And slowly, we learned each other’s secret language of love. She learned I needed warm, Sunday morning snuggles; I learned she needed clean kitchens. We picked up on the signals that told us when we felt justified but were acting like utter choads. We learned how to apologize without clogging up the joint with denials, defenses, and backpeddling.

After about three years, it got good.

After about six, it got fantastic, and has yet to stop improving.

At fifteen, it’s bliss. It’s our refuge. It’s probably the best thing we’ve achieved together.

But if you tell me that “destiny” brought us together, you’re telling me that destiny did the work. Fuck that fickle bitch. Destiny maybe put us in the same chat room together – or maybe that was her slacker brother Chance – and so I’ll be eternally grateful to someone out there. But when I was seething with neurotic jealousy and Gini was squashing her feelings so deep down even she didn’t know how furious she was, where the hell was destiny?

No. We did this. And I shudder to think of what would have happened if I’d waited for cloud-castles to float by bearing my soul-mate on a sweet tide of incense and pheromones.

Fuck that. My castle started with two people, two shovels, and a quarry that would have broken a sane man’s back. Look at our hands: they’re full of callouses, our fingernails crusted with dirt and blood, and some days the west wing collapses and we walk out with these tools we built ourselves to prop the fucking thing up again.

This is no dream. This is hard work.

And it is glorious.

Cross-posted from Ferrett's Real Blog.

theferrett: (Meazel)

I met my wife in a Star Wars chat room.

I did not see her as someone I ever thought I would romance.

This is because she was married, and I was engaged, and as such we happily kept to the main topic of the Compuserve forums: arguing relentlessly about anything we damn well felt like.  There was a lot of Star Wars debate (did Luke truly fall to the Dark Side, were ysalamiri a dumb idea, why the hell did they have to fly through the trench for twenty miles to get to the exhaust port, couldn’t they just have started like 2000 meters away?)…

…and there was a lot of political debate, couched in Star Wars hokum so it wouldn’t get moved to another thread.  (“The Saudis, who have absolutely no reason to lower the price of oil to help our national economy out, live in a desert as dry as Tatooine.”)

But mostly, there was a love of Star Wars.  And my future wife and I savaged each other in snarling debates for years, long enough that she got a divorce and my fiancee walked out and one day we realized we were in love.

So we got married.  (And I moved to Alaska, which is a different story.)

So Star Wars bonds us.  We had Luke and Leia on top of our wedding cake.  (We have an OTP that defies canon, what can I say?)  And with the new Star Wars coming out, Gini was thinking of getting a tattoo.

And I told her, We should both get a tattoo.  Together.

Of course we agreed this was a great idea.

But the funny thing is, a few weeks ago we got this new huge Ultra-HD 70″ television, which our eldest daughter helped us set up.  The first film we watched? Star Wars in Blu-Ray, of course.

And what I discovered, much to my thrill, is that though she’s in her late twenties, my eldest daughter is as much a Star Wars nerd as I am.  There are activities I think we all share with our parents that we like because it reminds us of family – but without the family there, it’s just sort of Something You Do On Summer Vacations.  I mean, maybe your Dad read Winnie the Pooh to you as a kid and you loved that warm feeling of being in his lap, but there’s a difference between loving that experience and reading Winnie the Pooh over and over again when you’re a grownup.

Whereas our kid?  She kept pointing out all the tiny details, squeeing at stuff only someone who’d watched this damn film too many times would see.  She was as into it as we were, and it was a glory to behold.

We mentioned the tattoo.

She was in.

And then there was our youngest daughter, who we knew also had the Star Wars love when she waited to show her partner Star Wars at our house.  Her partner enjoyed it enough, but my younger kid’s constantly squeezing her hand and going “HERE IT COMES, NO THIS IS THE BEST PART” probably was a distraction.

Youngest daughter is overseas right now on a college trip, but she’s coming back to town in September.  But we Facebook-messaged her.

She was in.

And so plans are tenuous, but the plan is to go in the week the new Star Wars movie releases and get four Star Wars tattoos together, as a family.  We’re not coordinated enough to get matching tattoos, which I think is appropriate – we’re a raucous bunch, we disagree, and us having all the same style would never fly.

Yet if all goes well, the four of us will ink our special bond permanently. We love Star Wars.  We love each other.  And the movie may suck and suck big-time, but we’ll watch it in the biggest theater in Cleveland with flesh still aching from the needle, knowing that nothing can take our bond away from us.

We survived Phantom Menace.  We’ll get through this.

And whenever I look at my tattoo, I’ll think of my wife, and my kids, and the dream we lived together.

Let’s hope this works.

Cross-posted from Ferrett's Real Blog.

theferrett: (Meazel)

Yesterday, I saw a dear friend of mine for lunch. We had some lovely burgers, chatted amiably, and when she left I slumped into my chair and stared numbly at the wall for half an hour, drained to the point of paralysis.

I am normally an introvert, which is to say that I love people, but it takes me energy to spend time in their company.

When I’m in Seasonal Affective Disorder, as I am now, talking to people takes so much energy that I have to schedule social engagements like I would workouts. You can’t just go out and run a ten-mile; you gotta build in warmup and recovery time.

Normally, I’m a super social person. I text probably twenty people during the course of a day, merrily exchange @s on Twitter, flirt on FetLife. I have Woodworking Wednesdays, and Roleplaying Tuesdays, and guests over almost every weekend.

My SAD is really fucking with me right now, in a fundamental way. Right now, “answering a text” involves mental labor. My phone buzzes, and rather than going, “Oooh, who is it?” like I normally do, I flinch with a sagging “Oh, man, I have to respond to that.”

And the thing is, it’s costing me. I usually have an excellent support network of friends who tell me happy things and distract me when I’m bored. (For a depressive introvert, in fact, I have a thoroughly vibrant social life.) But weeks have passed, and some folks have quite correctly decided that I’m not being a particularly good friend, and so why waste time on me when I’ll respond erratically if at all?

So I’ve been losing people I like to talk to. In theory. In practice, I want to talk to few people now, and sporadically, but I still like these people, I just… am pretty limited at the moment.

And here comes the annoying part where people tell me, “Well, if they can’t deal with you cutting out on them because you’re depressed, they’re not true friends and they don’t matter!” And that is such, such stinking bullshit.

First off, by defining the only friends worth having as “people who will stay with you for long periods where you don’t reciprocate their interest,” you’re dismissing the need for casual friends. Yes, it’s lovely to have that Deep Friend who will hold your hand when you’re having open-heart surgery – but it’s also good to have a wide, shallow network of people to go catch a movie with.

Depressives tend to fetishize the “TRUE FRIEND,” without realizing that casual engagements are equally worth having, because sometimes you just want to get out of the house and get a drink with someone who makes you laugh. Having multiple people you get together with sporadically enrichens your social life, makes you more resilient to life’s inevitable bumps (what if your One True Friend moves away?), and increases the chances of meeting someone who does get your weird-ass social rhythms

Furthermore, I think it becomes seriously toxic to view the “True Friend” as “someone who’s okay to neglect.” It may be that you have to neglect people to keep your sanity intact, as I am right now, but it’s not a good thing that I do this. It’s me not returning texts, it’s me canceling out on social engagements, it’s me not reaching out to people I love –

And I think that going, “Well, True Friends endure the dismal friendships you give them!” does a disservice to the concept of friendship going both ways. Yes, a True Friend will understand when you’re going through a bad patch – but if you are a True Friend in return, then you’ll do what you can to make your friends feel valued even during your deep funks.

The True Friend myth often seems to dismiss the notion that friendship is a two-way street, treating the True Friend as a toy and not a human. “Here, I’m going to toss you under my bed for weeks at a time and not pay attention to you – but now that I want you, come out and play!”

Friendships include maintenance. Maintenance I don’t necessarily have the energy to give right now. And perhaps a lot of the people I talk to understand that withdrawal, but it’s also a not-incorrect move to go “Ferrett’s not talking to me much, so I’m not going to prioritize him the way I used to.”

And so I think of my social network as a crumbling empire – at the core, I’m still talking to my closest friends. But expanding out in rings from that are a bunch of text-flirts and buddies and acquaintances whose company I genuinely enjoy who I’m unable to respond to in a timely fashion…

…and they’re slowly backing off from me. The social network I have is fraying. And when I eventually recover from this sudden depression – if I do – then some people I’ll start texting again and they’ll just be happy to hear from me. Others, I’ll restart up with, with a permanently damaged friendship: they now know that I can drop out of sight, and as such they won’t trust me with too much of their affection.

Still others I’ll lose entirely. We’ll be friendly when we see each other, but that potential for a deeper relationship will have been lost in this absence, where they shrug and figure they’ll hug me and say hello when we’re in the area, but now quietly vow to make absolutely no effort to get in touch.

I can’t say I blame any of them. I’ve got my own issues. This is how my issues affect theirs. And they have to move to protect themselves in the way they see fit.

I just wish I was a little less broken inside. But this isn’t my fault; it’s bad chemistry, some rogue DNA producing a toxic chemical stew that triggers stress reactions.

It’s not my fault. But I still have to live with the consequences.

Cross-posted from Ferrett's Real Blog.

theferrett: (Meazel)

For years, I double-dipped the chip. At every party I went to.

But then again, I came from a family that routinely traded bites at every meal, and I was not the most conducive to picking up on social cues, and I have a constitution like a horse where I can eat a sandwich that’s been sitting on the counter for three days and have zero ill effects.

It was not until that Infamous Seinfeld Episode where George gets into a fight with his girlfriend’s brother that I realized, reluctantly, that I was in fact that asshole.

And my enlightenment did not come flaring on at once like a firework, either. I had discussions with friends. They told me it was rude, and I dismissed them going, “Nah, it couldn’t be. Seinfeld overreacts to things. It’s comedy!”  I watched people at parties, monitoring the dip bowl out of the corner of my eye, not believing that people would care about such a thing.

Slowly, I came around. And by the time Mythbusters disproved the double-dipping theory from a semi-scientific standpoint, I’d come to realize that even if it might not necessarily be harmful, it was the sort of thing that people fucking hated and maybe I shouldn’t do it.

That ignorance did not somehow erase my asshole nature over the years of double-dipping.  I was an asshole at parties, and no doubt grossed out lots of people, and possibly even gave a few sensitive people food poisoning, I dunno.  Don’t like to think about that much.

But that ignorance (and, ultimately, resistance) did not remove the fact that I was doing asshole things, and needed to stop.  I felt justified in what I was doing for a bit, in the fact that I felt people were oversensitive – but this stemmed from the fact that at the time, I frequently felt that I could argue people out of their feelings, where adding enough confrontation to an uncomfortable event would somehow make people come away thinking well of me.

…Which was another asshole thing I did.

Maybe double-dipping the chip isn’t such an awful thing, in the scheme of life. On the other hand, I balance that fussiness against the ease of me not double-dipping the chip.  If someone kicked up a fuss about, say, the disgusting nature of using forks to eat food, I’d look at a lifetime of eating spaghetti with chopsticks and go Nah, you be you.

But double-dipping the chip? I can get by snapping my larger potato chips in half. It’s a small price to pay to not be an asshole.

Now, you may think the point of this essay is a heartwarming sentiment where I tell you really, isn’t political correctness like double-dipping the chip?  And though I actually believe that, this essay’s about something else:

Classifying assholes.

There’s a lot of resistance in the community to classifying assholes, because there’s this sense if you do then you excuse asshole behavior.  But the truth is, I was a correctable asshole.  (At least when it came to double-dipping.)  I acted out of ignorance, and when I dismissed other people’s opinions on the matter it was because I came from such a different background that I couldn’t initially believe this was an actual concern a large number of people held.

Eventually, I came to realize that even if it didn’t bother me personally, it did distress lots of others.  So I changed my behavior.

Yet there are other assholes who won’t change their behavior, no matter how much evidence they gather that this is, in fact, A Thing.  They’ll in fact take some dim pride from the idea that they’re making A Stand against some insane fussiness – or they’re just selfish jerks who like the taste of the double-dip.

(Or – even worse – they’ll double-dip when they think no one’s looking.)

Anyway, the point is that people really fucking hate classifying assholes, because in some ways it’s a lot easier to believe that an asshole is a lifelong status – you’re born one, and once you’ve revealed yourself as one, you’ll remainan asshole until the day you die.  If someone did an asshole thing, fuck them, brand them, and expel them.

Yet some assholes can, in fact, change, and become not-assholes.

This argument frequently gets slurred into “Well, you want to excuse asshole behavior!  You want to keep assholes around!”  And no.  It’s entirely  legitimate to expel all sorts of assholes.  Regardless of my reasons for double-dipping the chip, it would have been a very wise decision to keep me out of your fancy dinner party to impress your boss.  And depending on the flagrancy of the circumstance, if you held a party for a bunch of immunodeficient people, it would be an equally wise move not to invite Ferrett The Double-Dipper, for their fear that I might now just double-dip in secret would kind of ruin the party for them.

Regardless of the move, sometimes you bar assholes, and sometimes you bar them for life.  This is rational behavior.  Far better to chuck one jerk out than to have twenty people cringing and waiting for the double-dip-hammer to fall.

Yet what happens is that people take that logic and go, “Well, we’re barring assholes because they’re going to be assholes forever.”  Which is not true.  You’re barring people because they have a history of distressing and/or hurting other people’s feelings, and perhaps they have changed, but you are no longer willing to put you and your friends at the risk of discovering that in fact they haven’t.

Which is a more nuanced position, but it’s also truer.  Sometimes, people learn from their mistakes. Even if they fight that initial wave of feedback.

But sometimes people don’t learn from their mistakes, and you only discover that after you’ve put other people in the line of asshole fire.  So you take the more protective approach, and that’s good.

This is all a fancy way of saying this: it is possible to both allow for the possibility of change, and to also be unwilling to take the risk of discovering whether this supposed reform is genuine.  I think you can say, “Maybe they’re different now,” and even not be surprised in the least when you hear this person has since gone to numerous parties and didn’t double-dip at all, and still go, “They have burned their bridges here.”

I think both extremes of that position are harmful.  I think branding someone a double-dipping demon for life actually suppresses the potential for change, as it’s kind of like criminals when they get out of lockup: if everyone treats you like you’re gonna steal their shit, then eventually you just give up trying to improve yourself.

Yet I’m also unwilling to tell people, “No, man, you should feel entirely comfortable letting my friend Dave The Former Drug-Addicted Kleptomaniac stay at your apartment next to your freshly-purchased big screen television!”  Even if Dave does nothing, it’s hard to sleep easy at night knowing that your television might be walking out the door. Every bump startles you wide awake.  Why would I want you to feel that way?

Yet maybe someone can sleep well at night, and I can allow them to take that chance. Maybe Dave has actually improved. Maybe he can start over again someplace else.

Dave’s gotta live with his sins, now, though, and there’s some places that won’t allow him back.  But that doesn’t mean he’s an asshole now, and it doesn’t mean the places that allow him in are necessarily harboring criminals.  It means you don’t know because you don’t want to find out, and good for you.  I can support both Dave’s potential improvement and your safety, and there’s no contradiction.

In conclusion: I really don’t double-dip the chip any more. But I wouldn’t blame you if I caught you watching me closely.  The best I can offer is apologies and a string of unbroken non-double-dipping for the last decade or so.

And that may be the first and last instance of an episode of Seinfeld actually teaching someone how to be a kinder person.

Cross-posted from Ferrett's Real Blog.

theferrett: (Meazel)

Twitter makes me do weird things.

See, technically, I think more people pay attention to me on Twitter, so it’s where I do all my announcements.  Plus, it’s fast – RETWEET, SENTENCE OF SNARKY COMMENTARY, DONE – so if something big breaks, I tend to ZOMG in real time on Twitter and hey!

Problem is, Twitter has the memory of a goldfish.  You are not expected to read everything that pops into your Twitter feed; Twitter is an endless IRC chat, where you scroll back as far as you feel comfortable with.  Of all the social networks, Twitter is the most understanding of your busy time schedule – didn’t see what happened three hours ago?  It’s okay, you weren’t supposed to.  Twitter is only really active when you’re looking at it, and the rest of the time you can forget it.

That may seem odd, and somewhat alien, to many of you reading this here blog.  “But I read everything here!” you say. “I feel vaguely guilty if I don’t catch up!”  And yeah, that’s what happens when people spend their lunch break committing long-ass essays to WordPress instead of Twitter’s CLICK, RETWEET.

Which means that making an announcement on Twitter is like throwing a rock into a pond – a big splash at the moment of impact, but a couple of hours later nobody knows anything happened.  And so for big announcements, I feel the urge to commit them to my (more permanent) blog, just so anyone who wants to keep up on the Whirlwind Life Of Ferrett can do so.

But if you saw it on Twitter already, I must seem relentlessly self-promoting.  But I’m not trying to look like a dick, honest.  I’m just trying to navigate two social media networks with differing concepts of permanence.

Anyway – Jesus, I run long – the sequel to my book Flex, The Flux, is now available on Netgalley, where if you are a reviewer you can go and request a digital copy.  If you’re someone who has a blog of note and doesn’t have a Netgalley account, lemme know and I’ll hook you up. I’m pretty proud of this sequel, which I think is way better than Flex, so go get y’selves excited.

Also, I’m gearing up for another blog-tour, so if you’re a podcaster who wants a yappy guest, or a person with a middlin’ audience who’d be all like “Wow, I want a Ferrett on my site!” then contact me and let’s talk.

However, I should add that right now, I am dealing with a massive and very off-season bout of Seasonal Affective Disorder, where depression is hitting me very hard at an unusual time.  (Long-time readers will know I usually get zapped in the spring.)  This is untimely to say the least, since I should be contacting everyone to get them riled up about SEQUEL SEQUEL SEQUEL, and I have yet to muster the energy to even put a page up on my own damn site.

So apologies if I have seemed distant. I’m struggling to just get the effort up to work and then write the sequel to The Flux, and everything else is a lot of trouble. I’ll be fine, I usually am, and Gini is monitoring the situation – but if you’re excited for the impending sequel, then you can help out by mentioning a) how you liked Flex, or b) that you’re excited about The Flux, or c) both.

Or d) Do neither! I’ll be fine.  You are not the arm of my Great Marketing Machine, and I only ask you to do stuff if you’re really psyched to.

But!  If you are a reviewer, you can go get The Flux now.  And if you’re excited, I suggest you do so.

Message ends.

Cross-posted from Ferrett's Real Blog.

theferrett: (Meazel)

I’m really starting to hate rooting for Bernie Sanders.

Not because I dislike Bernie’s politics – I do, intensely, so much so that I’m a regular donor to his campaign.  Nor is it because of the way he’s getting hammered by the Black Lives Matter movement – he’s moving to try to acknowledge black people’s concerns, and if he can’t manage it properly, well, as I said before, he probably doesn’t deserve to be the Democratic candidate.

But I want Bernie to get the nomination.  And as such, I’m following all the stupid headlines that tell me who’s ahead.

“Who’s ahead” should be the least interesting thing about this goddamned campaign.

I hate the way that the news (and now Twitter) treats elections like a sport – BERNIE IS AHEAD BY 4 PERCENTAGE POINTS IN THE SECOND QUARTER OF POLLING, CAN HE PULL IT OUT?  Because in emphasizing the victories and defeats and “Can Bernie win?”, what gets lost are the reasons that Bernie is popular in the first place.

What’s the difference between Bernie and Hillary?  Hillary has more money. Bernie has a better social network. Hillary has better numbers against Trump. Bernie has finally pulled ahead in New Hampshire.

What the fuck do any of them have to say on the issues?

Doesn’t matter.  What matters is their position in the polls, not their position on today’s concerns.

And slowly, we boil away the difference until we’re more concerned with DAT VICTORY, and the story is not “Bernie Sanders is making a push to reduce student loan debts,” but “Bernie Sanders is gaining momentum!”

Which is exactly what happens in sports. As someone who doesn’t follow sports, I know Cleveland lost in basketball, heartbreakingly, at the last moment – but I don’t know why.  There were doubtlessly many mechanisms that went into the reasons why Cleveland wasn’t favored in the finals, but those very important reasons why Cleveland’s skills mattered (or didn’t) got obscured by the WE WON GAME 1 ZOMG NOBODY SAW THIS COMING and NOOO WE LOST GAME 3.

And in being concerned for Bernie Sanders, I feel that victory-tide washing over me – ZOMG HE SCORED – and that emphasis on the reasons he scored being buried deep in the lede.

I wish the emphasis was on how these people’s policies differed.  I wish when they discussed Bernie Sanders vs. Hillary, it’d be “Hillary wants to do this, Bernie wants to do this – which is more likely to succeed?”

Instead, what’d we get with the recent Republican debate? TRUMP WON. WHAT DOES THAT MEAN FOR TRUMP?

No.  What I’d like to know is, “If Trump wins, what’s that mean for us?”  And I don’t see enough of that analysis on any candidate.

Cross-posted from Ferrett's Real Blog.

theferrett: (Meazel)

Basically, I want a phrase that indicates “the moment I stop automatically buying things from this creator, and start waiting for reviews.”

I asked this question on Twitter yesterday, and got a wide variety of responses: “M. Night’d” was a popular one, except that I don’t feel M. Night was ever someone who built up a base of solid movies to begin with.  He had one great movie, and then Unbreakable had some serious flaws, and that was it.  And I’m not talking the sort of hype that comes from ZOMG TRUE DETECTIVE SEASON 1 WAS SO GOOD WAIT WHAT HAPPENED, but rather someone who was on the top of their game for several years, and now is starting to falter.

Likewise, “Crystal Skulled” came up a lot – but I have yet to be convinced that there will be any good Indiana Jones movies ever again.  And this phrase should encapsulate the fact that the creator is still capable of producing magnificent work – it’s just that now, after a long string of unbroken beauty, they’re creating crappy stuff along with the good ones.

The phrase that comes to mind is “Pixar,” because Inside/Out was really magnificent after the mediocrity of Brave and the absolute face-shocker of Cars 2.  But saying “They got Pixared” doesn’t quite convey it, because a lot of people love Pixar, and “They Cars 2ed” sounds like they’re producing absolute crap for all eternity.

So. Suggestions?

Cross-posted from Ferrett's Real Blog.

theferrett: (Meazel)

So yesterday afternoon, Barnes and Noble called my book Flex “one of the year’s best fantasy debuts” and revealed the cover for the The Flux – the new book in the series, dropping on October 6th.  I’m not going to show you the cover, because it is a B&N exclusive reveal, but the pretty is only a click away.

(And extra kudos to Angry Robot for not weight-washing Valentine, my overweight videogamemancer hero – this may be the first time in urban fantasy cover history that Photoshop was used to add some pounds to a model.)

In addition, they have the official announcement for Book Three in the ‘Mancer Chronicles over there, complete with a teaser summary for Book Two. Go take a look.

“One of the year’s best fantasy debuts.” Squeeee.

Cross-posted from Ferrett's Real Blog.

theferrett: (Meazel)

You have to remember to take your don’t-go-crazy pills even when you feel perfectly fine, and it seems so inconceivable that this tiny ball of chemicals is all that stands between you and screaming breakdowns.

You have to monitor your energy levels constantly, because when you start getting tired you start breaking down in public, and so you go to parties and think, “Okay, I’ve got about forty-five minutes until I melt down, time to make my excuses,” and you say pleasant goodbyes and everyone says they’ll miss you and then you pull over on the side of the road and sob because you screwed up the timing by fifteen minutes and now you’re a mess, a fucking mess. (But at least no one saw you.)

You have to make the fine distinction between “I need this down time to recharge” and “I’m closing off the world like a mummy shutting himself in his tomb,” and if you get it wrong then you can spend three weeks in cloaked isolation, accidentally alienating all your friends and having to make seriously humiliating apologies when you finally haul yourself back into the light.

You have to fake smiles at work even when you’re dead inside, because you need the money, and maybe you’re functioning at about 60% capacity this week but you’ve learned that this 60% needs to be in the area where you earn your goddamned rent money. So you push out the energy for eight hours before you slink home numb and stare at the computer for another eight, a blank deadness before bedtime.

You have to remember that your friends lie to you. They don’t mean to. They tell you heartwarming things they want to believe about themselves, things like “I’m always there for my friends” and “I’ll always support you,” and if you’re not careful you believe them and open up this vomitous spill of anxiety inside you, and after a few months of bathing in your corrosive disability they find some excuse to not see you any more. You learn that there’s maaaaybe one or two people who really are going to get this twisted shit inside you – if you’re lucky – and not to lean on them too heavily, to save them for the really bad days.

You have to remember that your good days are other people’s bad days.

You have to internalize the idea that “emotions” and “actions” can be successfully disconnected, that you can still accomplish shit when feeling really down, and in fact this is your only real hope for survival. And then you have to swallow back an effervescent rage when other depressives tell you that you can’t really be depressed, you did things, you can’t possibly have accomplishments when you’re depressed, and you think of all the other things you weren’t able to accomplish because you had to fight this sucking tide of angst, and you try not to yell. But you might yell. Because you’re crazy, and when you’re crazy sometimes you lose it.

You have to learn to apologize properly for losing it.

You have to learn that being crazy is, in fact, a skill you learn. Nobody’s good at it, and in fact you see some supposedly “capable” people fucking lose it when they’re traumatized by grief. They don’t know how to handle these emotions that you get Denial of Service-attacked with every day, and the truth is that a lot of these so-called “capable” people would shatter under the weight of what you have to bear daily.

But they don’t have all these swirlstorms of depression and rage and anxiety roaring through their heads, and you do. And so you must learn the skills of madness, how to restructure your life so that you can keep going when lesser people would have been bogged down by all this, and some days you get buried under the crazy and yet you grab a shovel and dig yourself out and maybe you’ve lost four days to your flavor of insanity but you have kept going and YAY YOU.

It takes years to learn how to be properly mad. It’s not fun. But the good times you can have around the edges are fun, this reward of learning how to appear normal for days at a time.

You have to fight to be happy. But you can be happy, sometimes. In small bursts of joy.

Part of the skill of madness is learning to treasure those bursts, and to realize that nobody gets to be happy all the time. You just don’t get those times as easily. And so you must refine, and renew, and repurpose, until you’re as good as being crazy as you possibly can be.

I never said it was easy. I simply said it was necessary.

Cross-posted from Ferrett's Real Blog.

theferrett: (Meazel)

In about 2007, my mother went legally blind.

Nothing has yet to stop her.

She has a hereditary condition called “angioid streaks” that led to emergency laser surgery that went poorly, scabbing up the center of her eye.  She now gets by entirely on peripheral vision, with what she’s described as “a big cigarette burn” blotching up the middle of her view.

Yet she’s gone parasailing since she’s lost most of her sight.  She’s gone river tubing.  She wanders fearlessly through foreign countries where she doesn’t speak the language, and she refuses to use a cane because she hates the way those things look.

She’s an inspiration.

She can read, painfully, slowly, through big magnifying lenses – but instead she’s opted to listen to audiobooks morning, noon and night.  She has to be one of Audible.com’s greatest customers, as she finishes off about five or six audiobooks a week.

And when my book Flex came out – even though Mom usually hates fantasy books – she wanted to read it.  “When’s the audio book coming out?” she asked.

“I don’t know that it will, Mom,” I told her.  “Most books don’t get audio treatments.  If I get an audio book, it’ll be months from now, and the sign that the book’s selling better than I’d hoped for.”

She sagged.   She’d seen the paperback: small type for, spread across many small pages.  No hope of her getting through it and enjoying it.

And I heard from other friends of mine who wanted the audiobook for similar reasons: they too had bad eyesight, or dyslexia, and the prevalence of the Internet had turned audiobooks from this clunky suitcase full of cassettes into a cheap MP3 file.  And I had to tell them the same thing: I can hope.

And today, the audiobook came out.  It’s about $20 and change on Amazon, and you can buy it if you want, and hear Peter Brooke tell you about videogamemancers who surf the consciousness of videogame villains, and bureaucromancers who backdate time, and the intense love a father has for his little girl – so much so that he’ll risk everything for her.

That’s the version you can buy.  Yet I’d promised another.

Because when I saw my Mom look so sad, I promised her a Christmas present: I would read Flex to her. One chapter at a time, in time for Christmas.  I’m not a professional narrator, but I have enough equipment to do the world’s most focused podcast – and so she’ll hear her son read her the story he painstakingly wrote over so many years.

I’m a little nervous about that. I don’t do voices well.  I tend to read too fast when things get exciting.  I hope I can provide the experience as my Mom wants it.

But amateurish as it’ll be, I’m pretty sure she’ll love it anyway.

Cross-posted from Ferrett's Real Blog.

theferrett: (Meazel)

The irony is, a lot of guys succeed based on this same ignorance of their own chances.

Now, this is not to say that we dudes don’t have privilege – because we do, we so very do, based on that article she references (and a ton of other anecdotal data I’ve picked up listening to women discussing their experience in publishing).

Yet the very privilege that trains dudes (and, yeah, usually white dudes) to expect success often trains them to be insanely persistent when other people would have given up – not because they’re more talented, but because they are completely, blitheringly unaware of the odds.  It’s not that they mean to be persistent, but rather that they’ve been conditioned to expect success as their birthright, and so they forge onwards even though they’re probably not gonna make it.

And a surprising amount of the time, they succeed – whether that’s because they kept trying until they got better (like, *cough*, some people writing blog entries) or they stumbled into lucky breaks they would not have gotten had they been rational about things.

This has been brought up before in a slightly different format, with Kelli Russell Agodon’s essay Submit Like A Man, which talks about the difference in how men and women submit stories.  Given the slightest encouragement, men will flood an editor with tales; women tend to wait longer and submit less.  (And this essay came to light after a Twitter conversation among many women and minorities who’d self-rejected by not sending to markets based on their own perception of their own work.  The general response was, “Don’t do that.”)

Jaye succeeded by not knowing how shitty things are.  (Buy her books.)  And I think redistributing privilege has two vital components: the first is doing what one can to level the playing field by making those who do discriminate aware of all the subtle ways in which they do discriminate.

Yet the other aspect, which I feel is frequently overlooked, is “How do we train people to act like a privileged person?” Because to pull a real-life example, I’ve seen my poorer relatives terrified to say “boo” to a doctor, having been convinced that Doctors Are Gods and You Don’t Sass A Doctor and Just Be Quiet And Take What They Give You, and as a result they got horrible treatment from the same doctors we went to.  Even when they were in the same places as we were, in some cases ushered in the door by us, they still self-sabotaged by not saying, “Uh, we’ve tried that drug and it did not work.”

Part of properly distributing privilege is, yes, ensuring that doctors don’t blow off poor people – but it’s also in teaching them the strength to stand up. Because the crappy thing about getting ignored all your life is that eventually you stop trying to speak – and if you’re lucky enough to find doctors who are receptive to what you have to say, you can still hurt yourself by self-censoring.

So yeah: it’s that bad for women out there. It’s shitty, and it’s terrible, and the odds are not good.  I wish they were better, and this is why I do what I can to fix those odds.

Yet a lot of men, completely unwittingly, have succeeded against terrible odds by simply being too dumb to understand just how low their chances of success were.  They took shots when saner people wouldn’t.  And having seen a bunch of dudes I would have given zero chance make it and make it big, the best I can tell you is that part of engineering success against overwhelming odds is swinging whenever you get the goddamned chance.

It’s not gonna make it even close to an even playing field for women, alas.  But don’t handicap yourself further by refusing to go for it whenever you can.  Because dumber, more privileged dudes will take that shot – it’s what they’ve been trained to do – and you might as well do your best to learn from people who are way less talented, yet way more confident, than you.

(Also, editors? Don’t fucking do that. Not cool.)

(EDIT: And in between the time I started writing this and I finished, Jaye put up this status:

Fuck yeah, Jaye.)

Cross-posted from Ferrett's Real Blog.

theferrett: (Meazel)

“You need to trust your partners,” the Generic Relationship Advice says. “If you don’t trust them enough, how can you have a good relationship?”

And the truth is, there’s a lot of partners you *shouldn’t* trust. And they’re not all abusers, either.

The problem is, people often see what they want to see in relationships. And they wind up dating a tattered ghost that has only superficial similarities with you, because the truth is that they never actually saw the flawed you-that-exists – they saw Stability, or they saw Romance, or they saw Raw Passion, and all that other stuff just got quietly screened out.

And you tell them – “Hey, I have some serious kinks but I don’t live this life 24/7, I am not the Goddess of Sexual Pleasure For You,” and they nod and go “Yeah, baby, I know,” when realistically they don’t know, they think they understand what you are but they’re actually mapping so much of their own needs onto you that they forget you have needs of your own.

And they feel so fucking betrayed when it turns out that you weren’t what they imagined you to be.

So a part of that trust comes down to trying to manage expectations. And it sucks to look at someone who’s dewy-eyed with True Love for you and go, “No, you’re not seeing Me right now, and as such I don’t trust you enough to date you.”

But that happens when you’re trying to be sane.

And the Generic Relationship Advice says, “You need to trust your partners to know what they want.” Which sounds like it’s awesome, but the truth is most people actually have zero fucking clue what they want. And if they want something from you that you don’t actually possess, then trusting them means that you’re going to ultimately disappoint them.

Because if they saw Stability when what you actually had to offer was The Ability To Keep Functioning When You’re Upset, shit’s gonna go wrong.

If they saw Romance when what you had to offer was Good Listening Skills, shit’s gonna go wrong.

If they saw Raw Passion when what you had to offer was New Relationship Energy, shit’s gonna go wrong.

And yet it is so goddamned flattering to be thought of as Stability, or Raw Passion, or Romance – to have someone take a side of you that you yourself would like to be and shower you with reassurances that no, you’re an idealized version of yourself. They tell you that you’re Wise and Strong, and the fact is that you’re seven years older than they are and all that Wisdom and Strength is just a tadge more experience, and you’ll still do dumb-ass things when someone hits you from an unexpected angle – but having someone who looks up to you is so hard to resist.  So if you’re not smart you’ll try to play the role of Wise and Strong when that is not, in fact, your native skill….

…and that’ll wreck both your lives as you try to live up to an expectation you can’t actually provide.

And that’s part of the challenge of dating: sometimes, you don’t trust your partners. Sometimes you don’t date people because they believe in the wrong things about you. Sometimes you have to look someone in the eye and go “Yeah, that is a beautiful thing to think about me, but you’re full of shit.”

Try doing that sometimes. It’s hard. It’s very fucking hard.

Cross-posted from Ferrett's Real Blog.

theferrett: (Meazel)

“You’re not on a statin right now?” my cardiologist said, distressed.  “Oh no. Oh no no no. You’re a heart patient, you have to be on a statin.”

“I thought I was on a statin: Bystolic.”

“No, that’s a beta blocker. It’s intended to prevent heart attacks. The statin lowers your cholesterol.”

“Isn’t that what Welchol does?”

“It does, a little, but that’s mostly to prevent you slipping into pre-diabetic numbers.  Here, I’ll show you how bad you are: we’re going to run some blood tests to show you what your cholesterol is now, and in four months we’ll show you how much you need the statins.”

Why couldn’t we have had that before?

It would have been a lot easier for me if the doctor had sat down with me and said, “You need to be on four medications: a statin to lower your cholesterol, a beta blocker to prevent your heart from seizing up, a medication to keep you from tipping into diabetes, and Vitamin D to keep the healthy oils in your blood.  If you’re not on one of those at any given time, then my treatment isn’t working.”

Instead – like a lot of doctors – he gives me a bunch of confusing names and assumes I’m following, and I thought I was following, but I’m not.  When I went down to three medications, I thought that was a conscious choice on his part, not a clerical error.  And because doctors are often too damned busy to monitor me as closely as they should, I didn’t have the tools to monitor myself.

I now know: I need statins, or things go boom in my chest. (I’ll be fine, but this could have been disastrous long-term.)  And I apparently need beta blockers.  And Welchol for some reason I’m still nebulous on.

But when doctors fail to educate clearly, it’s their patients who suffer. And I’ve tried to educate myself, but the problem is that the doctor – like, again, many doctors – focuses on the individual segments and not the overall plan.  It’s like telling a soldier, “Go attack that guy” – useful in the short term, but if something goes wrong and the soldier doesn’t understand that her ultimate goal is take this hill and keep it, she may charge off after another enemy.

For me, the medications I’m on are a constant shuffling game, as the doctor brings in new medications and the insurance company denies some and others still go into generic form, and it’s hard to keep up.  What would be nice is if I had a chart:

  • Your Beta Blocker: Bystolic.
  • Your Diabetic Prevention Medication: Welchol.
  • Your Good Cholesterol-Retention Medication: Megadoses of Vitamin D.
  • Your Statin: ???

And that way, when things switched up, as they inevitably do, I could know which was which.

And I? Am healthy, and in good mental condition. I can’t imagine how complicated this gets for people who are on don’t-go-crazy medications combined with chronic conditions. It’s a part-time job just keeping my prescriptions constant, and I suspect a lot of people are harmed when doctors think they’re being clear but the patients aren’t understanding as well as they’d thought.

Cross-posted from Ferrett's Real Blog.

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theferrett

August 2015

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