robertsloan2: Ari sweet (Default)
My friend and editor, Nonny, just posted this on her DW and LJ... boosting signal to reach all of my friends too. Anyone who can help is greatly appreciated. I managed to squeeze out a little, glad this came before my money was gone.

(Nonny) Because of various circumstances, my poly-family (which include four disabled people, myself included, who have not been able to get on disability) are going to be short on rent for November. The one able-bodied member of the household gets paid the 15th of each month, and while we have the money to cover October rent and expenses, we are starting at a deficit because of how long his training took (about two months).

The main reason for the deficit is because my poly-family moved cross-country to be closer to us (myself and my now former partner), and have better job opportunities (and S, who can work, is definitely making a lot more than back east). However, they weren't able to find housing because nobody would rent to someone who was in training and had no income as of yet. The time spent in a residence hotel while trying to house-hunt, and then, to apartment-hunt, which turned out to be successful, depleted a significant portion of reserves. We've been managing to squeak by since but we are squeaking our last squeak.

Rent is $850. I know a lot of my flist doesn't have a lot of money themselves, so even when I have been in bad positions before, I haven't wanted to ask. My former partner won't have the money, and I wouldn't feel comfortable asking them anyway as we are in the process of separating. My parents also wouldn't be able to help because of their financial situation, and general disapproval of the situation. Their families wouldn't be able (or willing, also due to general disapproval) to help. I have tried to consider every option, and we have not been able to come up with one.

So, I am asking, when I have never asked before, for help. Any little bit that you can spare will be greatly appreciated, and I hate that I have to ask in the first place. Again, rent is $850, and my PayPal address is

Please signal boost if you wish.
robertsloan2: Ari sweet (Default)
I've been sitting on an ever-growing stack of science fiction and fantasy novels since I published Raven Dance in 2000. Every year I participate in NaNoWriMo and usually the 3 Day Novel contest too, either officially or just by spending Labor Day Weekend writing a new short novel.

I just keep writing them and stacking them up in my hard drive. Editing is a daunting task especially when all of them have the same problems that I need to overcome in order to produce good professional quality work. I decided to go indie some time back after watching the way the publishing industry changed and keeps changing.

90% of the delays are due to physical or financial hardship. I'm a disabled 58 year old transman who only worked full time for about a decade and never did get ahead enough to get past basic survival, let alone pay for needed medical care. I never got insurance because I was trans and I wasn't going to take that money out of necessities like rent and bills and food for self and significant other if it didn't cover my gender reassignment treatment. Disability, trans and aging all combined to a perfect storm and I was homeless for a long time, sub-marginal long before I was homeless, sub-marginal all through the 90s even if some of that was actually one of my most prosperous times in terms of physical comforts.

The other 10% is something uglier. Self acceptance, choice of living stealth or being out of the closet and wimping out on my GBLT themes and social science fiction themes. I've sweated over that all along.

If the right thing to do is stand up for my rights and link arms with anyone else who's gotten oppressed for any reason (which does make for a pretty HUGE majority), then I should write my brooks true to my view of life and just find my readership. Trust that it's out there. Trust that some people will read a blog entry about transgender issues and find out I do SFF and check it out because they are sick of wimpy princesses who don't act like real ones, sick of main characters always being straight-white-cisgender-male, sick of science fiction that doesn't question society and make you think. I definitely fall closer to Ursula K. LeGuin and Ray Bradbury and all than I do to the current crop of rocket men.

I don't even have anything against the quest of the rocket men.

I don't think it's pointless to reach for the stars. I think that's a lot better thing to do as a human endeavor than 'try to kill off lots of other people for their customs/religion/want their stuff' and it can solve other problems on Earth because good science is not a waste of effort.

It's just that's not my story. No matter how much some of it looks like fantasy fiction, it's actually social SF about culture and adapting to technology and interacting with people who aren't like you. It's what it is and I'm who I am. So maybe this post is like those moments heroes decide to do the dang fated thing anyway. It beats not doing it by a lot, because not doing it is stupid and doesn't solve anything.

I never could run. I had to learn to fight.
robertsloan2: Ari sweet (Default)
Pain level ten always brings thoughts of suicide. That's my definition of pain level ten - it's when death starts looking better than going on putting up with the pain, when it's gotten so bad there is nothing but the pain. So I've had well over fifty years of finding ways to fight the temptation to kill myself. Demonstrably, I succeeded.

I will add that at no time has anyone else intervened in my life to stop me. I can think of a few times when those around me were tacitly making it easy, like leaving a clinically depressed child diagnosed with suicidal tendencies alone for hours in a basement room right next to an unlocked gun room with over 50 firearms and enough ammunition to hold off the Russian army. I would've had time to melt down the slugs and craft a reload to shoot myself with if I'd actually gotten down to doing it. I didn't tell the shrinks at the time because I didn't want that door locked. I wanted my options open.

There are different things people do to deal with the pain. Whatever the pain is, when it gets to the point of suicide, I treat that as pain level ten and respect it. I respect their reasons for being that hurt even if they may seem trivial to me. Most of all I'm aware that sometimes something trivial can make the difference between life and death.

I've also known someone I loved at the time who decided not to kill himself because he hadn't seen the next episode of a science fiction show PBS was airing in a couple of days. He chose to live because of that show. We were big fans. Fortunately, it turned out to be one of the best episodes of the entire series when we sat down together to watch it.

Anything that makes a person want to live at that point is worth it. That's not for someone outside to judge, especially if they're trying to help that person come back to the world of the living. I don't actually know what it's like for people who find relief with drugs or alcohol, when that temporarily blots out the pain. Only that for many addicts it does and they have a big physical problem with their brain chemistry being unable to function without that chemical unless they go through a lengthy difficult recovery process.

Drug/alcohol addiction is its own big topic anyway. It's an entire social process and maybe that's where some of the "ease the pain" goes away. Both drunks and recovering drunks have massive social support for their new, simpler identities as drunks or drunks in recovery. It's common for them to have been abused in childhood. Social wounds may actually get relief from social support, who'd a thought that? To me, that's a huge part of why AA works - what people take to drinking for gets provided without the booze and in a way that encourages personal growth.

But let's look at some other things. Junk food. Reading all the time, burying yourself in a book. Distraction. Burying yourself on the computer in game after game. Withdrawing from mainstream life into a narrow subculture.

When I was younger it used to be Dungeons and Dragons, table top role playing games. I threw over D&D for the Gurps system as soon as I found it, since the rules system was better for my style of storytelling and the setting was much more flexible, easier to adapt to give my games either an original backstory or base them on my current fandom. I wound up putting together not the giant support groups of AA and Al-Anon and their like, but a small six to twelve person intimate group of people all of whom knew me, liked me, had a reason to come over to my room and stay up all night.

That was a very big part of how I survived my pre-op years. Gaming. RPGs. Fictive universes. When I was with my long term ex, we gamed together, just a universe of two with a cast of thousands. Most of the games naturally had erotic subplots and assorted erotic or romantic plots. We met for the first time ten thousand times in a thousand different worlds and venues, which was as fun as it was the first time we actually did.

The biggest real reason we stopped having good sex was that my body energy ran out as I ground myself down on the treadmill of my 1980s Work Robot years. It takes a toll sleeping only on weekends and working 20 hour days and then madly spending it all as fast as it comes in so as to keep from jumping off a high building.

There is another one. Sex. This includes masturbation. If someone's thinking of dying, one-handed pleasure is a much better alternative to death. Orgasm can be an analgesic if you can get up to it with enough fantasy to let go of the reasons for the pain and fear. It's a particularly healthy one, it resets your nervous system for a little while and does wonders for brain chemistry.

I got disappointed with a lot of erotic fantasy for lacking fantasy elements though. I expected dragons, elves, magic, flying, your basic fifteen impossible mythic things to go on in the story. The normal stuff was dull, I didn't fancy myself a construction worker or rich guy in suit type to dom someone, I was more into the settings of my RPGs. Vampires, elves, dragons, aliens, the cool stuff. The window dressing of the other way I escaped from reality that was at many times in my life for real unendurable.

Many people escape how unendurable life is at its worst times by pretending that nothing bad ever happens to people who don't deserve it. This is one of the worst ways to face it. That idea sets you up for suicide at the first real injustice, with added self blaming and shame. It's surrendering to your worst enemies and validating their sadistic attacks. If you internalize the viewpoint of the oppressor, you collaborate in your own oppression.

Was that James Baldwin? It was one of the great black philosophers and poets. The ones who kept me alive and sane as a child, right along with the science fiction and fantasy writers. They talked about a reality that didn't deny injustice, a way of health that involved staring it down and not giving in - not down deep, not behind your eyes, never telling them that they're right to treat you like that.

There's more than enough real oppression in this world and this country for anyone to get depressed. There's more than enough real risk for anyone to get a bit paranoid. Staying on balance well enough to make it to work and live month to month on the edge of survival, whatever the actual income level of edge of survival is, that stresses people. A quarter of all Americans will be clinically depressed at some point in their lives.

Most of them have good reasons for it. So when you're trying to say something to help, the thing to say is to listen, let them tell the story. Take it seriously. Reflect what you heard well enough so that they know you actually did understand and care. The hardest thing anyone can do is listen to a gut-wrenching story and not be able to do anything to change what happened - but by listening, that is the one gift that makes a difference and can help.

Never, ever laugh at what they do to get through the night. It may sound silly to you but sometimes what matters is any reminder that anything in life is worth experiencing again, whether that is butter on mashed potatoes or next week's television program or that I hadn't been published yet and my book wasn't finished.

Why that's a rant.

I can't count the number of mental health professionals who disconfirmed my novels and my writing. Treated them as sick, treated it as a symptom, not an ambition or an avocation or a profession. Treated it as an unrealistic "grandiose delusion."

Yes. Something bad happened on Monday morning and I'm not ready to write about it. I'm not sure if I'll ever be ready. But I'm coming down from the flare and the PTSD reactions. I've turned to all my solitary comforts, mostly Diablo III, some junk food and a couple of new Terry Pratchett novels. "The Long Earth" by Terry Pratchett and Stephen Baxter is excellent - not a screamingly funny book like Diskworld, good serious SF with incredibly grabby characters and fascinating premise.

I'm going to just take care of myself till my therapist comes back from her vacation next Monday, process everything as well as I can till then and not try to rush the process. I know that I will come through it and feel like myself again eventually, because I have been through worse. I'm still not going to let them win.

Last tip: pet the cat. That always helps. Purring and shedding on you will release endorphins, knock down the pain. A cat is incredibly supportive at times and majorly understanding. The cat does not agree with anyone who ever put you down. The cat's needs are simple and the cats' hearts are big. Substitute critter of choice if you're not a cat person. I am. Ari is my front line defense, he is right there whenever I feel down and will literally wash it away. When he does that, I feel better.

Amazing, how cat spit can change the way the world looks. But he means it with love and he makes me laugh and he's very sensitive to what's going on. He's also particularly happy because his big bag of good cat food arrived yesterday. 15 pound bag of super quality high protein food that is his top favorite brand, his own weight in cat food. Properly served one small handful at a time on demand, so it keeps its strong scent and freshness in the big sealed cat food tub.


Jun. 30th, 2012 01:08 am
robertsloan2: Ari sweet (Default)
I'm slowing down on my grand vacation, no longer playing Diablo III to the exclusion of everything else in my life. I even spent a day without playing it at all, though I have to admit most of that day I was sleeping and the rest was family time in chat. It's been great, it'll still be fun but it's no longer as completely immersive.

There are some ideas that slip into popular language and culture out of the business world. In the business world, these terms get crafted by clever people who want to control their work force. Maintaining an impersonal corporate policy lets any number of managers get away with major or minor abuses. Those are perks of the job and range from economic blackmail and bullying on up into flat out ripoffs.

Some companies, restaurant chains, routinely underpay workers. They trim some off the paycheck across the board with this or that excuse especially when the workers are tipped and they can pay less than minimum wage to begin with. They can bargain hard when people are desperate for work. Half a paycheck is better than none when survival's at risk.

What set me off thinking about this tonight is a sentence from a how to article about something that's essentially a toy. It was about organizing an iPod. The author said that having a disorganized iPod was "messy and unprofessional."

Excuse me?

Isn't an iPod your personal toy? Your music machine? Are you a professional music listener? Okay, there are a few people who are. A music critic probably does organize his or her iPod because it's important to keep new music separate from what's already been reviewed, that's part of the job. I organize my art supplies the same way, prioritizing review products I haven't tried yet so that I'll get around to reviewing them sooner.

But since when do you need to seem professional after work when goofing off? When you're on the bus listening to music? What if a disorganized iPod lets you keep your music collection fresh and interesting, as you stumble on favorites you forgot while trying to find the song you're looking for?

There are times and places for being professional. Showing up to a job interview is one of them. Heck, showing up on time to work is one of them, keeping up your tasks, going along with the dress code that you may well agree with because it helps define your status. Some of the guys in suits definitely wanted the suits and ties lifestyle and take pride in it.

There are times and places when it's not. Even at the office there are some people who can't work with a clean desk. Their style of thinking and analyzing takes an intuitive approach and their books and papers are strewn all over the place in apparently random piles. They're not random to that messy-desk thinker.

Body memory tells them that stack over on the chair by the door is what they were doing six weeks ago when they found the article on pterosaurs. So they go through that stack first and find it tucked into a book on mammals because they needed to mark something else. Replace the bookmark, retrieve article, cite it, seamlessly return to the project.

Where organization comes in is when collaborators need to find that article. You can't use a personal organization scheme if someone you don't know needs to find what you researched fast. That means you have to stop what you're doing to give directions anytime anyone else on the project needs something.

So the impersonal culture of business does work for some situations and doesn't in others, it emerges from the needs of some jobs. Not all those needs are ethical, the need for middle management to avoid responsibility is well served by "it's just policy, nothing personal."

It gets mindlessly carried over into the rest of life. People with messy-desk organization for things they do at home, like hobbies, wind up feeling ashamed of it and beat themselves up for being unprofessional when they are off duty and don't have to be professional.

When the point of a hobby or avocation is being able to just relax and do things your way, not have to answer to a group or a supervisor, why would it matter if your miniatures paints are lined up by color or by when you purchased them? When you're reading magazines for fun, sorting by "the ones with articles you want to reread" across a dozen different topics makes more sense than by title and year. When you're using your iPad, it makes more sense to organize or not by what makes you happy.

Professionalism can be taken way too far. One of the biggest problems people face today is endemic overwork without enough time to have a personal life. The work-life balance is skewed all the way towards work and people who are nowhere near "desperation" economically still live as if they are. Others don't seem desperate but the amount of debt they carry means they can never slow down. Then some moralist comes along blatting about divorce rates and tries to make them feel bad about the real consequences of hard choices too many people are stuck with.

It's not something easy to do, sorting your life out to have room for both work and play. It's one of the hardest situations when work is as enjoyable as play. I've had to fight myself to let myself relax and just enjoy this new game at the pace that I can and do enjoy new games, because I only succeeded at anything in life by single minded stubborn concentration to the exclusion of anything else.

But that just makes me a canary in a coal mine. People with more physical resources can lose that great health over the long run by neglecting themselves. I know now that I need to keep a good balance even if I have to do odd runarounds to make it happen. That I need to live by the calendar, not the clock, that's my body's pace. The only job I ever wanted is the only one I'm physically capable of doing in a sustainable long term way.

It gets a little scary to look at it that way. But also encouraging, especially when I look at all the effort I put into all the other things I tried to make a living at. Doing that much writing is going to make it work. Practice improves skill and demonstrably did. Fortunately most of the work isn't social enough to require much professionalism. For me it just means making deadlines or recognizing that I won't soon enough to deal with the situation and warn those who are waiting.


robertsloan2: Ari sweet (Default)

March 2016



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