A Mental Health Day for Henry

This morning, for the first time in a long time, I paid attention to how I was feeling and decided that what I really needed to do was take a mental health day. I haven’t written anything for my creative projects today, and I’ve decided to be okay with that. That’s mostly working. I took time to socialize with a friend I haven’t hung out with for too long, and that was great. This isn’t to say that I haven’t written anything; I had a course evaluation that I was supposed to fill out last month which I finally took care of (to the tune of 1822 words, no less). And I’m writing this, here. But I’m taking a break from trying to outline interactive fiction (which is a frustrating pain in the ass), and focusing instead on giving myself a break of sorts. And that’s been pretty good.

I’ve thought, for some time, that I must have struggled with depression at some scale for a good portion of my adult life. I’ve never discussed this at length with a professional, so I’m not sure how to judge it. I think college is the first time that I can recognize what I now believe were depressive episodes. I haven’t previously given myself space to call it depression because I always figured that other people must have it worse; claiming that I suffered from depression (to any extent) seemed like it was presumptuous, claiming attention for myself that I didn’t deserve and taking it from people who *obviously* deserved it more, people who weren’t poseurs like me. After all, I was basically managing to cope, and other people seemed like they had it worse.

But that is dumb. I still don’t think I suffer as much from this as others (including a number of my friends) do, and I still don’t want to be a distraction. But I’ve abandoned my implicit assumption that this has to be a zero-sum game. Admitting that I have trouble sometimes doesn’t mean that other people who are dealing with depression (or other mental health issues) can’t get what they need. And, providing I’m not a greedy loud jerk about it, talking about it might help other people rather than suck the oxygen out of the room.

I am fortunate to have friends who talk about their own experiences with depression, and the feelings and experiences they associate with their own depressive episodes. Without them, I would not have learned to recognize my own experiences as something that merited my attention, nor would I have recognized that I could do things to head off my feelings of depression and avoid making my life worse. Listening to them talk about the ways they deal with their own feelings has helped me. It’s proof that mental health doesn’t have to be a competition (which I suppose should be obvious, despite past-Henry’s unconscious assumption).

I’m especially fortunate to have these friends because, when I recognized those twinges this morning, the habitual narrative that I’ve learned so well, I finally had the thought that maybe I should take care of myself. I’ve had a much better day because of it.

I hope I remember this for the future. I hope I can share this with others in a way that helps them too.

Advertisements

Whoops: Ongoing Delays

Hey folks, sorry for the silence. Between my other obligations and stressing out about politics and the news, I’ve been pretty thoroughly distracted from Fistful. I expect that this will continue for another week or so, but I plan to change it.

Some of the things keeping me busy might also be things that excite you: I’ve submitted the first chapter of Barium Deep for consideration for PEN New England’s Susan P. Bloom Discovery Award, and I’m about to give a (totally rewritten) outline of Miska to my mentor as the beginning of this semester’s mentorship project. There are more cool things I’m doing too, but I’ll tell you about them later.

Wish me luck. I’ll be back here soon.

 

Thoughts on 1/20/2017

This is more of a stump than a full post, but it’s late and I’ve been distracted all day. I’ve been finishing my current draft of Barium Deep, hoping to have it done before the end of January.

I want to submit it.

Hell, I want to change the world. Sometimes, very, very occasionally, I’m confident enough to think that I might have a chance to do that with the stories I share.

But I was set to thinking, earlier, when I spoke with someone about the news that we’d each seen that day. She’d seen news footage cutting back and forth between the inauguration parade and protestors, news about people breaking windows and even (apparently) setting a car on fire in front of the Washington Post offices. I saw a video of police pepper spraying an elderly woman and a disabled man, along with the people who were trying to shield them and move them away from the police.

What are the narratives our news sources are giving us? Why?

And I keep coming back to this: what the fuck were those officers thinking, spraying people who obviously are mobility impaired, spraying the people who are trying to help them move, spraying fucking everyone in that group?

I’ve never worked as a police officer. But I have worked security, dealing with people who didn’t really want to do what I wanted them to do (leave a place, quietly, by following me through a crowded area). I got more cooperation, nearly 100% cooperation, with calm requests and occasional assistance than I ever could have gotten by enforcing, imposing my will on the people I was dealing with. There was never a scene. I was, to the best of my ability, helpful.

My experience is not their experience. The situation I was dealing with was not the situation that they were dealing with. And I can’t help but think that maybe, if they’d treated their situation a little differently, it would have *been* different. Fundamentally different. Those police officers might have had a chance to serve and protect people, instead of punish, harm, and endanger them.

I’m not sure what it takes to make someone think that pepper spraying the mobility impaired is a good way to make them move. I’m not sure what it takes to convince them to do that instead of anything more sane. Fear, maybe. A deep and abiding unawareness of other options. Maybe (I always hope not, and always fear it is so) pleasure in the exercise of power over others. Especially the state-legitimated non-consensual exercise of power over others.

We’ve had enough of that.

On a semi-related note, read Mattias’ piece MLK Is Not Your Black Friend. It’s good. It deserves your attention.

Take care.

Arisia 2017!

I don’t have anything elaborate for you today. I’m going to be a panelist (and a moderator) at Arisia, starting this evening, and that’s keeping me busy.

If you’re there and want to see me, check out these panels:

  • Poor, Unfortunate Souls – Villainous Perspective (Fri., 8:30pm)
  • Heard the Dice Hit the Table – Games as Fiction (Sat., 11:30am)
  • The Stories People Play (Sat., 2:30pm)
  • Shame on Slut-Shaming (Sat., 5:30pm)
  • Well-Behaved Women Rarely Make Fantasy (Sun., 10:00am)
  • Bleed: Emotion in Roleplay and LARP (Mon., 10:00am)

I hope you have a good weekend!

Fear and the Uncanny in Children’s Literature

This post’s delay brought to you by homework… and Rise of the Tomb Raider. Between the two, I entirely forgot about posting here yesterday.

My homework, by the way, involves rereading Parable of the Sower (and The Girl Who Owned A City, and The Summer Prince). My short end-of-term paper this semester is on the way in which fear and the uncanny are used to replicate the home-away-home structure of a children’s story (discussed by many people, though I’m mostly sourcing from Reimer in Keywords for Children’s Literature and Nodelman and Reimer in The Pleasures of Children’s Literature), without requiring a spatial journey. Essentially, I hypothesize that by using fear and the uncanny to create emotional distance from a space, the departure and return inherent in a home-away-home story can be emotional instead of spatial. Plus, you get some interesting dynamics where the protagonist tries to make an un-homelike space homelike (again, or maybe for the first time) instead of returning to a safe space that has remained safe the entire time. Oh, and I know that Parable of the Sower isn’t exactly a kids’ book, but it’s sometimes cross-shelved in YA and has a teenaged protagonist. So.

On the storytelling side of things, I’ve come up with an excellent conceit for an adventuring setting that allows you to go on dungeon crawls without having to twist yourself into pretzels trying to justify why there are so many monster-filled ruins all over the place. I won’t go into more detail here at present, because I want to write it up and submit it to Worlds Without Master. Maybe if I can’t get it published there I’ll put it up here.

Whoops: November Update

Sorry, I’ve been a little busy. I just submitted another three chapters of Barium Deep to my mentor for review (she’s awesome, by the way) and getting that material out the door has kept me occupied.

Another thing stealing my time, creeping in around the edges of my schedule? Tales of Maj’Eyal (ToME). It’s a roguelike (but actually like the game Rogue, not just part of the modern fad of calling your game roguelike because it’s cool), and I’ve been enjoying it a great deal. I grew up playing the significantly less noob-friendly ADOM, aka Ancient Domains of Mystery, so ToME feels a good deal more forgiving. At least, it’s forgiving when you can hide behind your magical golem while hurling explosive gems at your foes.

Oddly enough, like ToME, ADOM now sports optional fancy tiled graphics that look nothing like my memories. It may sound like I’m grumping, but I’m actually quite happy to see ADOM continue development. I should admit, I’m okay with the new tiles mostly because they’re optional. I just wish we could see more progress on JADE (which I guess is now called ADOM II), another roguelike by the creator of ADOM. I liked the open world with randomly generated stories more than ADOM’s (by now) familiar quests.

Oh, I guess this is the new site for ADOM? Whatever. It’s a cool game, worth checking out.

MICE: Lady Knights Comics Ride Forth

While I was at MICE (Massachusetts Independent Comics Expo) a little while ago I found two new comics about female knights, both of which seemed worth following and sharing. In the hopes that you too may enjoy these good things, check this out: Hannah Fisher’s Cosmoknights is a gorgeous webcomic and promises lady knights in space upending the patriarchy, and Alyssa Maynard has an excellent short piece called “I Am Not A Knight” which is intended as the opening of a much larger story.

These both look seriously good. I hope you can find and enjoy them. I’ll try to update this with a direct link to “I Am Not A Knight” when I can find one, but until then I suggest that you check out some of Alyssa Maynard’s other rad art.

Cider Lentils with Friends and Root Vegetables

This is not a story, game, or story game. I suppose that means it’s a little off topic for this blog. But I’ve been busy and anxious and etc., so today I took some time to make a meal with some of my friends and I feel much better for it. In case you want to make that recipe yourselves, I’ve thrown it together here for you. It was largely improvised, so my recipe is a little informal. Also judgey about people who don’t like real cider.

You’ll need:

  • 1 lb green lentils
  • 1 double handful red lentils
  • 2 carrots
  • 2 parsnips
  • 1 sweet onion
  • 4-ish cloves garlic
  • 1 gallon cider
  • salt
  • sage
  • thyme
  • cayenne
  • olive oil
Notes:
This goes well with grilled garlic & herb sausage (I used turkey, but w/e).
My friend also made a real tasty dijon-shallot-honey-olive oil salad dressing for a mixed greens & endive salad which went well with this.
You should occasionally pull out bits and taste them during the cooking process. My preferred lentil end state is pre-disintegration (not mushy), with some body and firmness still noticeable. Not crispy & crunchy like dry lentils, but you should know that there are individual tiny lentils in your mouth while eating. If that isn’t how you like lentils, you do you. I’m sure you can cook this until it matches your desired consistency. Or actually measure how much liquid you put in or something.
Oh, and I’m a Vermonter. I like cider. If for some reason you don’t like cider (northeastern unfiltered good brown stuff, not mislabeled apple juice)… I can’t help you. But if you’re unfortunate enough to not appreciate the goodness of real cider, you can probably substitute inferior replacements and be satisfied.
Directions:
  • drink some cider, there’s a whole gallon for a reason
  • wash lentils
  • dice onion into square chunks
  • mince garlic into moderately fine bits
  • coin carrots & parsnips (carrots needed first) into roughly even thin slices
  • heat some olive oil in a pan
  • add diced onion and begin sauteeing
  • you probably need more cider in your cup now
  • add garlic soon after, once onion has that early glassy look
  • add carrot coins (some may need to be halved as well, if they’re thickish)
  • cook these for a few minutes until the carrots have warmed up, possibly adding more oil if you like
  • add parsnips and cook until warmed up, again adding more oil if you like
  • pour in cider to cover, this is also an excellent time to drink more cider
  • add lentils and more cider to cover again, more or less generous depending on how soupy you want the end result to be
  • simmer that delicious soup! stir gently, and check occasionally for lentil/parsnip/carrot consistency
  • once the cider has heated but before you’ve let it cook much, spice to taste:
  • add some sage
  • add a good deal more thyme
  • add a dash of cayenne (a tiny bit goes a long way)
  • who doesn’t love salt: be generous, mix, and taste test… then repeat
  • once your desired lentil/carrot/parsnip consistency has been reached, turn off the heat, let sit for a minute or so, and serve!
  • maybe have some more cider at multiple steps along the way

Ads & the election: Hillary please

I’ve been told that people looking at this site have been served Trump ads. I don’t pay WordPress enough to have input on what ads are served on this site, but I want to make it clear (in case it somehow isn’t obvious enough through implication) that I not only don’t support Trump but do support electing Hillary Clinton President of the United States.

I’m not 100% aligned with what I think Hillary Clinton’s positions are, but she seems to me to be the obvious choice for POTUS. This seems like a piteously small contribution to make to getting her elected, but given the alternatives I think I’d be remiss to say nothing at all.

Please vote tomorrow.

Whoops: The Campening

Sorry folks, I’m away at camp! I will have posts for you next week, but definitely not this one.