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Friday, July 31, 2020

PAST POST: Super Power with a Sacrifice - 2019-07-29

DAILY QUESTION:
To acquire a superpower you give up something you love.
What is the ability?
What do you give up?

Friend 1: Hmmm. I truly can’t think of anything in either category.
This might be why I’m in therapy? Lol

Friend 2: I will trade my bf for the ability to conjure anything I need...lol
          Friend 3: would there be the loop hole that you could
          conjure your BF back
          Friend 2: hmm....maybe he does make good coffee lol

Friend 4: My most desired special ability hmmm...to heal myself? Giving up a chance at a “normal” life.

Friend 5: 1 single person has not 1 ability but many
          Me: special ability, like a super power.
          Friend 5: I see each power as an individual

Friend 6: What if I want to give up one of my abilities to keep/protect something I love?
Because I'd give up a limb or my sight if it meant my family would be safe from poverty or violence.
          Me: Interesting turn. That might be tomorrow's question.
          Friend 6: Okay came up with an answer to the original question. I'd want
          the ability to teleport (and bring other things/people with me) and I'd
          give up any 1 of my favorite pieces of media (as in, it's erased from the
          world and my memory).

Friend 7: I’d trade the ability to turn a little into a lot, in exchange for everyone having exactly what they need.
          Me: wait, what?
          Friend 7: Instead of solidarity being necessary, equity would already be everywhere.

Friend 8: I'd give up the ability to fly in order to have (husband)

Me: Edit for clarification of the question.

Friend 9: Ice cream.

Friend 10: Give up something I love??? Love how much? 😃
          Me: enough that you would say honestly
          that you live the person/place/thing

Friend 11: To love. My left hand.

Friend 12: I want the ability to speak with animals. I would give up... almost everything. Maybe not my job or my home.

Friend 13: Perfect instant proofreading skills, for which I would give up dark chocolate

Friend 14: The ability to stop (and re-start) time. Give up my sweet little house here. I mean, I just rent, but I'm hoping I won't have to move! Unless, of course that time thing works out for me, I love this.place. ~sigh~

Friend 15: Well that only means giving up food that I love to eat. Not happening. Time travel

Friend 16: Super Power - Ability to teleport wherever I need to go. Give up - Listening to podcasts and audio books

Friend 17: always knowing the best thing to do in any situation - for which i would give up music during cleaning.

Friend 18: Telepathy/Give up quiet...at least the annoying voices in my head would be other people and not STACKED neuroses.
          Me: that sounds like a good trade.

Friend 19: Telekinesis..watermelon flovored candy..sshh..i hate that shit..only watermelon is watermelon.

Tuesday, July 7, 2020

PAST POST: Readings in the Cleveland Area - 2014/07/06

***note - I don't think this conversation accomplished a lot, but it let people vent about their troubles concerning the NEOhio poetry scene in 2014. I feel it was important and kind of heralded a shift in the poetry scene.***

I always said I would do readings
until no one wanted them anymore.


Friend 1: and..... it sounds like you are thinking....
out loud.


Friend 2: Are you beginning to grow tired of the "I'm attending... on Facebook" crowd? Cleveland poetry is in a downswing right now. Based on previous cycles, it should stop being garbage in another 2-3 years.


Friend 1: I put " going" on events I want to attend.. but sometimes I can't.

"Friend 2" bad mouthing the people who support and try to attend isn't very helpful. And insulting people and calling Clevleand poetry garbage doesn't score you any points.

Also there are a ton MORE events in Clevleand than ever before.. I think that actually is why attendance is low.... people are overwhelmed with choices.
Also, since the people that attend are mostly poets and writers themselves sometimes they need to stay home and write once in a while.


Friend 2: >> "Friend 2" bad mouthing the people who support and try to attend isn't very helpful.

Show me who those people are, and I won't "bad mouth" them. The way you *actually* support poetry is *actually* showing up, and by buying books to support artists. The modern (shrinking) Cleveland poetry/arts audience does neither as much as they once did. It is impossible to badmouth people who "support" and don't attend, because that's a null set.

>> "And insulting people and calling Clevleand poetry garbage doesn't score you any points."

I have nobody I'm trying to score points *from*. I'm communicating with another person ("Me") who has consistently hosted events in the Cleveland area, and is aware of the issues I'm talking about (along with plenty of other issues he's experienced himself, I'm sure.)

Also, a goodly number of out-of-towners who *used* to tour, feature, and read in Cleveland and don't anymore for these reasons would probably agree with me - not that I need to "score points" with them, either.

>> "Also there are a ton MORE events in Clevleand than ever before.."

A ton more events, maybe, but certainly more poorly attended than ever before on average. There've been a lot of reports of 2-6 person audiences lately (for events, again, with 30-40 confirmed to attend). There have been plenty of reports of ZERO audience events.

Also, it's frankly just untrue at the most foundational level that there actually *are* more events, but whatever. There are more recurring events, the same eight people reading to the same eight people waiting for their turn to read. Very little is currently happening in Cleveland poetry, though I am happy to report that a great number of those who used to be Cleveland writers have moved on to become very successful on a wider regional, or even international, stage.

>> "people are overwhelmed with choices."

And yet attend none of them. Don't worry, though. They've been very "supportive," so I'm sure it doesn't matter.

>> "since the people that attend are mostly poets and writers themselves sometimes they need to stay home and write once in a while."

Oh, bull. Even if you went to every poetry reading you could every single night in this city, you would still have 22 hours a day, seven days a week to work your other job, write poetry, print books, tour, travel, submit and publish...

"The people that attend" (and we'll ignore what a sad metric that is, and that we expected more of people before the last up/down cycle, like growing and improving in their work, bringing in and assisting new talent, etc.) have plenty of time to be writers, publishers, event hosts, sponsors, printers, editors, and performers, as well as attendees, book purchasers, patrons, and fans.

Currently, most of them are none of the above most of the time.

What "Me" said, and what I was responding to, was the quote "I always said I would do readings until no one wanted them anymore."

The challenge is that tons of people will say that they "want" readings. They'll jump all over anybody talking about ending a reading on Facebook. They'll holler about how great the old readings are, and how they need to keep happening. They'll talk about their great memories from those readings. They'll talk about the history.

They'll talk about how much they *want,* oh, just wish so badly, to attend.

But they don't. Of course they don't. They haven't for a while, now.

So, the question is, "Me": what's our definition of "want" going to be?

Plenty of audiences *want* readings to keep happening. They "want" to attend on Facebook. All I want to see is the other end of this downcycle.

A lot of the old hosts and regular features from ~2003-2005 were talking about this lately, and the sense I got from it is that none of us are sure what it's going to take to get it going again. Maybe when the last of the old series have given up the ghost (DC, PH, even WK, etc.), more support will come to fill the vacuum. When the Lit features under Steve G. and Nick ended, we saw a brief resurgence that brought us into a significant upswing for about ~12 months. That's where WK and a lot of other groups got their increased attendance (and feature access) from.

I *want* to see us get past the current attendance issues without such drastic changes to the community. But again, it depends entirely upon our definition of "want."


Friend 3: I think travel is a big issue, too. committing to a 2-3 hour event (on paper) can be a 4-5 hour commitment, depending on where the event is and where the attendee lives. I know for me I'm kind of hamstrung by my work schedule (am at work at 4 am M-F), so weeknight events are almost always out for me, especially if they are downtown (45 mins there, 45 mins back from kent).

I know I've been guilty of saying yes on facebook and then pulling out at the last minute, for any number of reasons. I've no problem with that, either, to be honest. Real life pops into play and there are times when showing up at an event becomes less important than dealing with RL issues, including rest.

I think overextending our options, thus splintering the audience into factions, hasn't helped. I know this seems contradictory, but without a dog in this fight, it seems that virtually everybody is supportive of the NEO poetry community, but not very collaborative.


Me: My definition of want is people who make the same or a comparable effort as myself and Sky as we drove longer than we were actually at the reading tonight. We had two AMAZING features tonight (thank you Zach Ashley and Autumn Aki Smith) and only Zach's groupies, myself and Sky attended. Zach and his posse drove further than we did.

If WK bowing out and only doing occasional shows will help attendance at another show I'll do it. I want to spread the love of poetry to everyone who breathes, but I don't want to spread the audiences so thin that they don't know who to attend so they attend nothing.

I think what might help poetry in this area best is for WK to continue doing the weekly shows because we have a small, but rabid following and enact the plan for 2015 that we've been contemplating... more details about that when we have them.


Me: And I realize that real life gets in the way, believe me.


Friend 2: "Friend 3": As somebody who got out of the hosting/featuring cycle for the most part, I just get tired of the excuses. I agree entirely - saying "yes" on Facebook and not making it... say, 30% of the time would be entirely understandable.

The statistical improbability of 30 people stating their intent to show up to a DC or WK or PH event, and 4-6 people showing up at those percentages, though...

There's overextended, then there's disingenuous. We've passed into (at the very least) a grey area between the two.

I get the difficulties of "real life." I work three jobs, am prepping for my Ph.D., etc. - and I don't do nearly as much as I wish I could in poetry any more. The difference is I don't tell people to count on my support. You and TG have always been great about reliable support, as have a lot of other people that have been around in the last ~decade or so. But that's not the norm anymore.


Friend 3: yeah, I have really only been around/active the last few years, so I don't know how it was before, but I've noticed the decline


Friend 2: "Me": It's one of the main reasons I quit hosting and inviting huge features into the region. Not only is it expensive, but it's just plain embarrassing to ask somebody to come up from, say, Atlanta, to read to Miles Budimir and some kid who was too drunk to walk out when poetry started.

Of course, small readings happen. I'm not unsympathetic. I got stuck with a 100+ confirmed full-venue show that had 12 people show up once. I'd flown across country with my girlfriend to feature, only to find snowdrifts so high that you couldn't see through the shop windows. The sponsor was gracious, and apologetic, and incredibly contrite, and I made it clear to him that, as an out-of-state feature, I realized that shit happens.

But apocalyptic circumstances and "there's just so much to do on Facebook" are entirely different beasts. If I showed up in Cleveland as an out-of-towner (on a clear, 70 degree Friday evening in an arts neighborhood) and featured to the three people waiting for the open mike, I'd be pissed, and rightly so.

The number of serious, long-term hosts who have been apologizing to features for both their audiences and issues with their venues lately is both shameful and astounding.


Friend 3: so, then, what do we do?


Me: I do agree with the sentiment that we are not well collaborated. I would welcome the opportunity to collaborate with the other show runners.

The plan that I have in my head includes the other show runners if they want in. If we all promote the same event I think we would be more likely to get people to attend. But I could just be shooting at bulls asses.


Friend 2: Speaking of collaboration: "Me", do you want to host one of the feature groups for LevyFest this October? We're planning a multi-venue thing one night because of the numbers we have. We already have a couple groups set up, and were thinking it would be nice to separate groups by schedule/interest.

"Friend 3": in terms of my opinion (for what it's worth), based on conversations lately with the old Levy organizers, with Steve G., with Vertigo, with Suzanne, with John B., and other hosts and major features, my vote would be "shut it all down."

The market is saturated and fragmented. We should be wiping the slate, giving the old hosts a bit of a breather (let "Me" get his schedule down to a manageable scale, for instance) and focusing on getting back to the way it was - major features, well-coordinated, without cross-booking or cross-promotion. It used to be that we could get a feature in from CA, FL, NYC, and have them hit two-three major feature groups in three days with unique audiences at each.

Personally, I think the diaspora out to the 'burbs, to Columbus, and even into PA have done us absolutely no favors. We need to consolidate again, and we were better serviced by a few outlying readings (DC, for example) that supported a large, central poetry community (Coventry, Tremont, Lakewood.)


Friend 1: I've been to a great many poetry readings over the last 8 years and bought more than my fair share of poetry books to support people( have the boxes of chapbooks to prove it) . I don't have to explain or excuse myself to anyone if I'd like to get to a reading and currently can't because of a death in the family. or other life circumstances. That is true of anyone else. And I think insulting the poetry community that buys your books, in general, and calling what people share garbage also an insult to the other people in the community who publish.

I'm sorry that the poetry in Cleveland doesn't suit you. There have been a lot of people who have both quietly and otherwise carried the torch and kept readings going there. And poetry readings are not just for the "washed" and able. They are for everyone of all levels and abilities.
I call all the complaining BS..


Friend 2: Well, then. Host something.

The people having conversations about these problems are the ones wrangling cats a few times a month at the cost of their own sanity.

It's easy to talk about carrying the torch, it's another thing to build the bonfire, so to speak.

>> "I don't have to explain or excuse myself to anyone if I'd like to get to a reading and currently can't because of a death in the family. or other life circumstances."

Nobody said you did. You're the one who has taken this all as a personal insult instead of a conversation.


Friend 1: I have hosted readings in the past...


Friend 2: Everybody did stuff in the past. That's precisely the problem with the present.


Me: "Friend 2", Yes send me details of what you are looking for.
And Re: Cross booking, this is why I got pissed off (that and I was going through some shit at the time) last year around october when the Words Dance thing was scheduled the same night as a WK first Saturday. This is also why I relented. I'm not here to compete with anyone and if I can support the scene better by not having regular shows I'll do it.

Re: "Friend 1". You are a loved member of the WK community, but even you can't make it down to Cleveland every time there is a show. I appreciate your thoughts on this subject, but I think "Friend 2" is speaking from the frustration of a fellow promoter. I might not go as far as to call it garbage... were I to be a poet about it, I would call the Cleveland Poetry Scene a bonzai that needs some pruning.


Friend 1: I think the problem is there are too many readings... I think you would get better attendance actually if there were fewer of them. i think there are easily 3 times as many readings as when I started attending them there. People can only go to so many. Everyone and their brother is hosting something.


Me: So in other words, you agree


Friend 1: I agree some restructuring needs to be done yes.. bUt insulting people is not the way to get fans or people to attend your readings. just saying


Me: I do agree insulting them will not do it, but sometimes people need to be called out on their lack of support.


Friend 1: or to buy your chapbooks. IfI get insulted I don't buy or attend. Just the way the game is played.


Friend 2: "Me": Cool, I'll send you the stuff.

Re: the Words Dance thing - yeah, that was a boondoggle, and one that wouldn't have happened if the people with creative control (i.e.: you and me) had had scheduling control, as well. The constant problem of the Cleveland poetry schedule lately - too many event series, too rigid, too frequent, and booked too far out means that booking timeslots leads to inevitable toes stepped on.

On the main topic - I think it's still too easy to just say "too many readings" and ignore the fundamental changes in audience attitudes, reliability, and behaviors in the last three years or so.

>> "insulting people is not the way to get fans or people to attend your readings."

They weren't coming when we were begging and thanking and bending over backwards. Lick their boots and they feel like you owe them something, when it's you that works 30 hours to prep a reading they don't even show up to.

Maybe they're masochists. Maybe they like it. Would explain the rest of their behavior, at least.


Friend 2: Also, still waiting for "Friend 1" to point out anywhere where I "insulted" any specific person or people, but whatever.

The person who would be insulted by what I said DESERVES to be insulted, or is the sad kind of person who seeks offense where there was none out of a perverse desire for conflict and attention.

The only people I was negative about were audience members who don't attend, don't listen, don't purchase anything, don't support audiences, and then complain.

If that's a group that needs to be protected from insult and offense, well... THERE'S your problem with Cleveland poetry right there.

Me: I wrote a poem with a similar message "I can't help it if you have skin of glass / I'm not here to appease your fragile ass"


Friend 2: >> " I might not go as far as to call it garbage... were I to be a poet about it, I would call the Cleveland Poetry Scene a bonzai that needs some pruning."

Nice image, but I'd go with a wildfire that needs to be left to burn itself out. A nice cleansing fire every once in a while is restorative to the forest.


Vertigo Xi'an Xavier: Sorry I didn't make it up. I'd've loved to hear Zach and Autumn, but got tied up too late here and didn't have the time to make the hour-plus drive.

The thing is, most of the long running shows have folded in the past year. It used to be there was a show every night of the month, often more than one. Now there's two weekly shows on the same night that draw the same crowd (and same poems and songs) each week, and about three other shows each month. The folks attending those weekly shows don't go to any other events, and the few folks supporting the other events don't set foot in the weekly venues. Personally, I'm disgusted with it all on both sides. That's why my focus has been on getting new attendees rather than still trying to get all these fools to step out of their little clique bubbles.

A great number of our old supporters have moved on to other things and other locales. With Playhouse folding the youth poetry program they operated, we don't have a powerful group of young poets rising to fill the holes in our scene (like Autumn's generation did a few years back). Unfortunately, those of us currently holding the torch for north-east Ohio poetry aren't in a position to fix that.


Me: I ain't mad at you Vertigo. I would have still been mad if you and only you had also joined us.


Friend 4: As a complete outsider living in Arizona, I'd like to have the option of purchasing a video or audio membership, where we'd pay a monthly or annual fee, and then have video or audio (preferably video) of the performances. Then you coudl eventually do things like "greatest" and bloopers, etc. It would allow those of us who in reality can only "follow" to participate and support the scene in a more tangible way. Maybe even include an interactive "shout-out" to the "connected."
I'd say that something between $60 and $120 a year would be reasonable.


Friend 5: Consolidation would help a lot, I think.

Those powerhouse readings that happened a few short years ago--they happened once a month and you knew exactly when they were. (ex. second week of the month, you always knew you had mac's on wed, the lit on thurs, dc on fri.) Now, I couldn't tell you what days of the month WK or PH readings happen anymore--things have moved around so much, and some folks like "Me" will host 2-3 readings a month in different locations. Life gets in the way and then I'll realize the night of an event that "Oh yeah, I didn't realize that was happening today."


Ex-Friend: There are a few things that are happening that make it more difficult to sustain poetry readings in NEOH than it was 3 to 5 to 8 years ago. Some of the more glaring, obvious things are 1)the cliquish nature of the Cleveland poetry scene, which alienates as opposed to supports, 2)the lack of communication/support between local and near-local publishers and open mikes, 3)the scary (SCARY) divide between academics and local scenes, 4)the aging/maturation of the poets that used to sustain the scene. I can point fingers and name names for any one of these, and have three fingers pointed back at me for being guilty of the same. I think there's a lot to be said, though, for some greater communication between publishers and reading organizers as well as greater communication between organizers and the colleges.


Vertigo Xi'an Xavier: Two years ago, we managed to coordinate a poetry show every Friday. FFPS, DC, Stardust, and Root-N-Slam. And that's when all our attendances started declining. We can coordinate and cooperate (and some of us presses continue to do this under the NEOpoets banner) but working together to not conflict our events and overlap our publication schedules does nothing to get new people in our venues.


Me: I think getting new people into venues requires leg(mouth, keyboard)work on the behalf of the promoters and their friends. With Sky knowing practically everyone in Stark county that helps us get people to a DT Canton show, but I don't live in Cleveland anymore so it's harder to network every day to get folk to come to my Cleveland shows.

If I had my way, I would still have the Bella Dubby show going, I wouldn't have left if they hadn't changed their space. I wouldn't have left Breakneck if they hadn't ended our arrangement. I wouldn't be leaving Mac's after this year if things weren't getting sketchy for Suzanne. I wouldn't be stopping the readings at the Lit if I wasn't running into problems with attendance.

I did my best to make it known that First Saturdays and Last Saturdays were the days for WK, but it didn't seem to help.

I agree with all of your points "Ex-Friend", except I wasn't around 5 to 8 years ago in the scene so I didn't have the benefit of "ease" in promoting a show.

"Friend 4", you may be the only one who would actually pay an annual fee for poetry and if I were going to charge I would need to be able to pay someone to clean up the shows I think.


Ex-Friend: Vertigo: I don't think working together to not conflict events or overlap schedules is the issue; if anything, an overlap in publication schedules means that there are more readers available to feature at various events. I think the issue is, again, the cliquish nature of the scene (Treemont poets don't go to the Eastside, Eastside poets don't go to Lakewood, nobody wants to travel South, etc.), and the lack of communication between the presses and readings. Unless the publisher is directly connected to the venue (Writing Knights and Poet's Haven are good examples), it is rare that the PUBLISHER will seek out local venues for their poets that aren't bookstores. There are, of course, exceptions, but again it's rare. As far as new people, the NEOMFA continues to grow and expand, and every year John Carroll, Cleveland State, Baldwin Wallace, etc. offer creative writing classes to undergrads that are new to writing and to the scene. There is, for some bizarre reason, a disconnect between the two.

Monday, July 6, 2020

PAST POST: Unasked Questions - 2019/07/06

Daily Question:
is an unasked question okay
to let go of if the answer will
change literally nothing?

Friend 1: Sounds like vaguebooking but I think it's generally okay to let almost anything go if your priorities are elsewhere

          Me: maybe a bit of vaguebooking, but also a legitimate question.

Friend 2: Closure is always nice.

Friend 3: What you are describing could be aaaaaalmost anything that anyone says or does not say. But I think o get what you're asking... If you're asking it, does that mean that the answer does actually change something, even if the change is not readily identifiable? Or that the asking is the thing that would change a thing, and is the answer holder wishing for the asker to ask?

          Me: of the two cases I can think of:
          one the answer holder is dead so I probably can't get the answer from
          them, the other is someone I recently kind of connected with, but I
          don't know if asking the question would 1 get the answer or 2 trigger
          memories that might damage that person's calm.

          Friend 4: If you think your question might trigger bad memories, then
          unless your question is more than mere morbid curiosity, don't ask it.

Friend 5: Absolutely. Simplify, simplify. What doesn't matter, doesn't matter.

Friend 6: Of course

Friend 7: Yes.. But no matter how inane the question, the answer always changes something.
But, if it will do more harm than good, sometimes it's best to let it go.
Judgements call of the question and people involved.

Friend 1: It sounds like what you might be talking about is accepting that you are not entitled to certain kinds of knowledge, and that's very healthy. Many of us, especially straight white men, often feel entitled to knowledge of others' lives or thoughts or feelings, and learning when to mind your own business is part of becoming a better actor in the world.

Friend 8: Closure is a myth that didn't exist before 1995. I found out the hard way that sometimes you just need to write stuff off. You can't turn puss into pudding, no matter how many times you stir it.

          Friend 4: Closure existed well before 1995, even as the word
          "closure." Prior to that, it had other names, and still has
          them. One is acceptance.

Friend 9: No it's not. Due to different variable the answer may change depending on a person's mood. You will never know if you base NOW on THEN and do not ask!

Friend 10: you cannot predict the future

Friend 11: It depends on the question and why you want to know. Sometimes asking tough questions even if it won't change things, can change the relationship between you and the person you are asking for the better. Sometimes asking that question may just lead to further pain and isolation. Some questions actually have no answer or no answer that will actually remedy the longing that is prompting the question in the first place. So I have definitely let go of some questions. One handy way I have let go of them is just by making up my own answers.

Friend 12: Yes

Friend 13: Never asked you will never know if it did change anything

Friend 7: After pondering this a few days. If there is something bugging your brain enough to actually form a question, it would probably be best to ask it. Just always be sure to ask the question and not accuse or shame with it.

Person 1: If you let go of expectations (the result of the question), it becomes only a question

Sunday, July 5, 2020

PAST POST: Outing

Daily Question:
Have you ever had someone "out" you?
Tell your story if you feel compelled.

Me: "out"-ing can be anything, like gender, sexuality, or if you're a superhero, or if you were trying to stay anonymous about something.

Friend 1: Yeah, at university. I was in that stage where I was out in some places and not others. And it turned out someone I knew from my trans support group was also friends with a classmate I'd been friendly with. I found the two of them in the dining hall on campus and the one called me "Friend 1" and confirmed my pronouns with me, right in front of the classmate who had only ever known me by my former name. It was awkward but I rolled with it, and nothing bad happened.

Friend 2: I actually told this story for the first time in yeeeears just the other day, so Ill share it again in a nut shell.

It was middle school and I knew for years I was at least a little bit gay by then, but my peers didnt know. I was hanging out with older kids and I mean I was drinking and doing drugs a LOT (I got my party years out young, dont you judge!!!!! Haha) So I was already pretty far removed from my peers, but I had a friend that I had a crush on (a girl, obvi) and I told her (total denial) and she told her friend, who told her friend, WHO TOLD EVERYONE!!!!!! It was awful. Another friend I had, we shared all our classes and lunch together, was very religious- and immediately stopped being my friend. That day, everyone was just starring at me and talking about me and it was a slow but sure build of anger for me all day... When I saw her (girl who outed me) in the hall, everything started to tremble and it felt like I had vertigo, everything was blurry and in the center it was black (my vision) if it wasnt for anoooother friend (I guess I had more friends in hindsight) I honestly might have blacked out and really harmed this girl....I was FURIOUS. And embarrassed. Im not at ALL a violent person, though back then was a bit of a different story. I was constantly surprising myself with awful decisions.

I didnt see that girl again very much, only in passing, though we continued to go to school together for 2 more years after that. She actually died of a heroin overdose a few years ago... Which I find to be the most depressing part of the story. Lifes crazy.

Friend 3: My mom....

Wasn’t fun having my mom tell the entire family I wasn’t a virgin anymore and I was unmarried... it was as if I was gossip fodder

Friend 4: Right after I had a positive pregnancy test, my daughter immediately went and told her father.

I was going to tell him anyway but I wanted to wait and tell him special lol

Friend 5: One time, my daughter was walking into the house w a friend and said, “this is my mom. She’s gender fluid.” Weird bc I’d never applied that term to myself, just had talks about how we experience gender differently. I mean, I suppose it’s true, but ... awkward moment to be sure.

I’ve had friends out me about mental health stuff many times by mentioning my dx, which I keep low key private, in front of people. Like I talk very openly about symptoms, but I’m pretty private about the specific diagnosis bc it can freak people out or worse, make me vulnerable in very uncomfortable ways bc I forget things sometimes and rely on people whom I know I can trust to help me keep my narrative straight in those moments. If someone lies about something I forgot or missed bc I was checked out, it can be really disorienting for me, and people have done it bc they thought it was funny, e.g. them: “remember that time you [wacky story]?”

Me: “oh my god! I did that?” Them: “no, I was just joking!” Me: 🙄😩🤯 ugh. So it’s very annoying and tbh, scary, when people out me regarding that specific thing, and it’s happened many times bc I used to be a bit too trusting about whom I told and people naturally find it “fascinating” bc it’s uncommon and the forgetfulness factor can be amusing to them. Sigh. It’s not amusing to me.

Friend 6: I learned years ago that you're never as "in the closet" as you think. A few years ago, I had an 8th grade student yelling my pen name as he went by my classroom (I'm out as a lesbian--having my kids go to school in my building will make sure everybody knows. Parents with a problem request for their kids to not be in my class, which is fine with me.) I complained to my VP, who confronted the kid. The VP came back to me and said the kid denied it. I met with the VP and the kid. Without beating around the bush or presuming innocence--it's not a court of law--I told him 1) my pen name was not a secret 2) he'd crossed the line between my professional and personal life and 3) he was going to immediately stop being disrespectful. He apologized and never did it again. (Also, he started doing his work in my class.) The VP is now the principal, and he has mad respect for my no-nonsense attitude. I laugh in the fact of being outed. Come at me, bro. You're going to lose.

Friend 7: I worked in a very conservative work environment, but myself very liberal, and just kept a low profile. My "adopted" mom was HR admin, also very liberal. I sent her an email with an environmental link about the Pacific plastic patch the size of Texas, which she then forwarded to a bunch of people in the company, saying this is why we must stop using plastic. Since then I've come to embrace my environmental activism more, trying to educate and influence people however I can. At my work I eventually gave my presentation on The Challenge of Being Green to my department, and as a lunchtime lecture, which is not kind to the corporate world, so that was sticking my neck out a bit, considering I was in a corporate culture.

          Me: I am glad there are not just negative/awkward outings! :)

Friend 8: I never have but people tried to out me as things I wasn’t. I tend to be honest about myself as long as I’m aware of what I feel or believe, but some folks like to assume and then use that to try to discredit me. It’s silly.

Friend 9: Peace

          Me: you've been outed as peaceful?

          Friend 9: Haha! Her name was Peace and she OUTED me!
          It was in 8th or 9th grade and for a few years my folks (scrimped &
          saved &) sent me to a private, all-girl school. On Sundays we were
          forced to go to church.I and a friend (who shall remain nameless) as
          a protest (y'unnerstand) had these long coats, so we went Buck
          Nekkid (!) under our coats, that is.

          Well, anyway, a couple days after, Peace ratted us out! It was
          at the dining room table and the House-mother was not present. But
          for YEARS I felt regret over the fact that I lied!

          When Peace told everyone at the table that (? &) I went to
          church naked, I denied it - I still remember the look on her face.
          smh - Ohhh welll. LOL
          And then the cock crew trois X

Thursday, July 2, 2020

PAST POST: Superhero - 2019/07/02

Daily Question:
You're a superhero.
What's your name?
What's your main power?
What's your catchphrase?

Friend 1: Name: Bikerman Power: outlive my enemies. Phrase: let us drink whiskey from the skulls of our enemies
          Me: Love it!
          Now do you just keep making enemies so you can stay alive? :)
          Friend 1: works for me

Friend 2: Mystic Queen
Psychic powers Shapeshifting Regeneration
I didn't do anything.
I didnt say anything.
Yeah, they think so *wink*
          Me: that sounds pretty badass. :)
          Friend 2: thanks

Friend 3: Name: Big Iron
Power: super strength, quick healing
Phrase: All right!

Friend 4: Name: White Trash Daddy Daydream
Power: Magical moustache that emits an irresistible cocaine-fueled charm
Catchphrase 'aye man, that thing gotta hemi'
          Me: I feel like someone has that copyrighted! haha

Friend 5: Name: Dumpster Femme
Power: Up-Cycle -- ability to take used up/trash/broken items and improve them into something useful once more.
Catchphrase: "Sometimes you have to throw the whole man away."
Bonus! Sidekicks are two sentient animals capable of speech: an opossum named Daisy, and a raccoon named Mordecai.
          Me: My friend Krista would like you as a superhero!
          Friend 6: I think we need to team up, because that is very much what
          I had in mind when I saw this question.

Friend 7: Name: Apathetic Avenger
Superpower: Ability to be non-engaged no matter how much it matters to me.
Catch phrase: Hard pass!

Friend 8: My name is Friend 8. Superpower: I bumble through life half-clueless, but with incredible luck. Catchphrase: Meh, what do you expect?
          Me: Luck is definitely a superpower
          Friend 8: Not complaining, but luck has seemed to follow me in my
          recovery from OCD, in ways that make me feel guilty to be me while
          so many people struggle with mental illness and life in general. I
          facilitate groups for people with all kinds of mental illness, and
          I'm having to learn to curb my enthusiasm for life sometimes as to
          not diminish their suffering.

Friend 9: Chance.
Power: being extremely sneaky
Phrase: shit shit shit shit
          Me: i love this. you're like swiper, but more swears

Friend 10: Have you been planted by the supervillain to use the question of the day to trick us all into giving away our secret identities?
Friend 11, Are you behind all this?
Haha
          Me: *Dexter GIF*
          Friend 11: one assumes that I don't already know.

Friend 6: Since Friend 5 is the Dumpster Femme of the Upcycling Force and it makes little sense to duplicate, I’ll be Cornucopia, around whom no one ever goes hungry or thirsty. Any amount of food or water is enough to sustain my team and anyone we mean to protect. I can also address minor ailments that can be treated with herbs and other plants, to prevent them from becoming larger issues. My catch phrase is “I dare you to dehydrate.”
          Friend 5: I like our combo -- together we're Sus-team-ability ❤
          Friend 6: I suppose the flip side to this ability could come in
          handy in any sort of detering-the-bad-guys situation. I could make them
          immediately dying of thirst/hunger and debilitatedly weak.

Friend 12: Name : Ladybug Dragon
Power: Kill enemies with cuteness and/or fire. Also make killer s'mores.
Phrase : fuck fuck fuckity fuck fuck.

Friend 13: Peacemaking Man, whose powers are to bring peace through mediation and conflict resolution, and the ability to have people listen to each other towards a common goal. My catchphrase would be: let's see if we can work this out into a reasonable solution... now, let's begin with you; what do you have to say?"

Friend 11: While y'all here trying to be superheroes, I'm over here with soda in a wine glass, being a cross of Cersei and Lex Luthor in a tower bought with taxpayers' money.

Tuesday, June 30, 2020

PAST POST: Warrior-Kings - 2015/06/30

Random Musing: the leaders of "less advanced" civilizations were often the best warriors of their tribe. I believe this is a carryover from older instances of humanity where the toughest male had to be able to defend all the females intended to mate. As society perpetuates, the Warrior-king has become less and less of a staple in a tribe. is this progress?

Friend 1: Don't you think the best warriors also have wisdom in addition to battle prowess? Like, they know when to fight, when to negotiate, when to let go....

Maybe I have an idealized archetype in mind - but when I think Warrior-king, I think of that. So, I would not think it progress when he vanishes.

Friend 2: That is no longer true because modern warefare is divorced from an immediate impact on a family or small group. At least in our modern culture.

Friend 2: And in viewing the series on the civil war recently... the generals were not always the bravest or smartest of men. Often they were drunkards, andpompus and fool hardy... and audacious.

Me: Example of that is Ulysses S Grant, he was vlearly the inferior mind fighting Robert E Lee, he just had way more everything.

But this is sort of what i mean, the General now is an arm of the leader, at least in theory... I suppose in the case of the south Jefferson Davis is the only one who could have lead the Confederates better than Lee (he was first at West Point when Lee graduated 2nd). But could Lincoln have won the war as a General instead of the statesman?

Friend 3: I thought the leaders of hunter- gatherer tribes were often elders who may have been the best warriors in the past but in their leadership role were more like strategists & decision makers.

Me: That is also a consideration. Were tribes more or less advanced when they were small enough to avoid other tribes for generations and follow the wisest or when tribes brushed up against one another in war and trade and were lead by the strongest... Or the strongest by proxy...

Friend 4: What about the medicine man/shaman? His warrior skills were often shit, but a good warrior king knew that if you barely managed to survive a battle, he was the most important person on the planet to find, if you hoped to continue living. In many cases, he out ranked the king.

Me: good point. Maybe this is the origin of religion. he could heal and he could attribute it to whatever higher being.

Sunday, June 28, 2020

Simulation and the Cyclical Nature of Life

Around this time last year, I posted on FB "I wouldn't be surprised if this was all a simulation, but I *would* be disappointed."

The reason this is significant is because two days ago, I had a thought that I'm not sure if this is a simulation. Or if it is a simulation, it would stand to reason that if a civilization existed that could plan OUR civilization, it would have to be super advanced.

Then I got to thinking, what if this was a creation? The 'Big Bang' was a lie and we had an intelligent designer. Where would that intelligent designer come from? Can an intelligent designer make themselves from nothing? Where does this all start?!?!

Common philosophical bullshit.

Then I came across the simulation post I made last year. I didn't add anything to it. No one commented on it. A few people liked it. It was a kind of nothing comment.

But systems (which a simulation would be on) are cyclical. Years are cyclical... more than that, every four years we have a cyclical reset. Months. Weeks. Days. Hours. Minutes. All cyclical. Robotic, you might say.

Last year, the day before the simulation comment, I asked my friends list to send me their current favorite song. Many did. I never got around to listening to any of them.

This year, I did the same thing on purpose because of last year's post, and I haven't listened to any of them either. The difference is, this year I'm a little less burned out and I hope to get to both lists and maybe make it a yearly tradition that no one clocks except me.

But it's still cyclical, whether intentional or not.

A year ago, I was in America sorting out and messing up the last bits of life I had there. Now I'm in China, still sorting out and trying to un-mess-up the last bits of life I had in Ohio.

I don't know if this is a simulation, but I sometimes feel the cyclical nature of my depression creeping up and into my life. It'll swirl around then flush out pretty regularly. It comes when I feel most boring and then I have to change something to make it go away. But what is there to change. I could shave my face and head, but that's only ever temporary. I don't want to change where I'm living because I like China. Even though there are parts of China I don't like, for the most part, this is a good place.

I don't feel at home here, but I didn't feel at home in America either and America has it's share of problems that four years of Donald Trump exacerbated and I don't know that four years of Joe Biden will fix.

I haven't felt at home anywhere, but I think it has nothing to do with the area, and more with the area of my heart... as cliche and stupid as that sounds.

I'll refer to places as home, but it's in name only. To make things simple. Not even to obscure the truth, just to make people not ask any questions. A friend recently referred to the internet as the only place they could be themselves 100% (or close). I don't even know if I have that on the internet anymore. I don't know if there's any place I can be totally 100%  myself. It isn't even like I'm hiding a secret racism that I can't let anyone know. It's more like, if I started revealing parts of myself, someone would get hurt.

20s-Azriel would say, "fuck it, if they can't handle you, they don't deserve to" but 20s-Azriel doesn't know the kind of shit 30s-Azriel has gotten up to. I'm not even a shred of the principled person I was back then. I feel fake sometimes. Like the mask on my face to keep my germs in is the least I can do to not infect others.

I feel the worst for my students because I portray myself squarely in "poet mode" where I can do no wrong, or if I do wrong, I'm doing in as part of a performance. I'm afraid my weakness or cowardice will leak into them even while I'm trying to push them to be better than me. I'm so in awe of my students. They are pushing themselves to learn to speak the hardest Human language ever and they are doing so well even if they think they aren't.

They give me hope and I'm glad to watch them on their way, but that still doesn't make this home. I still don't feel any less than alien.

In the Matrix, Agent Smith said the first Matrix was a paradise, a place where everyone could be happy. He said that Matrix was a disaster. The Human mind couldn't comprehend programming where there were no problems.

Programming...
That's an interesting concept.
I think I've mentioned this before... but I don't believe in an abundance of free will.
I think people don't have control over their actions, but it's not due to "god" controlling them. I think it's programming.
Evolution has dictated we survive by performing a particular set of actions to continue our species.

The four Fs as they are called: Feeding, Fighting, Fleeing and Reproduction (*wink*).

That's what keeps us going. That is our initial programming.
If we break any of those programs we die as a species, some faster than others.
That's where we get our free will. If we go against our programming.
If we decide not reproduce, the species dies out, but it's our own choice (unless someone takes the choice away from us, in that case it's still an exercise of free will, just someone else's free will and you still lose yours).

You exercise free will when you choose not to do the things you are programmed to do. So if you are programmed to eat and you decide not to, you exercise free will. If you are programmed to fight to defend yourself, but you do not, you are exercising free will. If you are programmed to run away when you are in danger and you do not, you are exercising free will.

Even if the exercising of that free will is in order to save someone else, it is putting someone else ahead of yourself and that is against natural law and therefore exercising free will.

This isn't a complete theory and I reserve my right to change my mind.
Also, this blog has become a clusterfuck of ideas. Just like the simulation which we may or may not be in.
I'll stop here.

I start a new schedule when I wake up. I have a goal to finish Novel 5 by the end of the summer.
Wish me luck!

Wednesday, June 17, 2020

(untitled fighting tournament) ROSTER with comments

Groundskeeper Willie: A wily Scotsman and a true cleaner. He is sick of the daily grind of tending shrubs. He’s come to snip off parts of his opponents.

WeThem: A polytheist monosyllable. A chameleon-deity that can take on the most useful traits from mythology when necessary. An plural, omniverse entity. The Thesis and Antithesis.
          Me: I might want a new name for this one.

Still: A character built around stillness. When not fighting they stay in constant motion. When they go still, their body changes. Not tense. Completely loose. Completely still. Devastating to the uninitiated.
          Me: I think I want a new name for this one.
          Friend 1: Tranquility

The Walker: A monster once bit the Walker, after five days of agonizing pain, the monster died. The Walker beat a sun in a staring contest. The Walker doesn’t cheat death. He wins fair and square. The Walker went to Mars. That’s why there are no signs of life.

GoKal: The last surviving member of an ancient and powerful race. GoKal draws power from ultraviolet radiation. He has the ability to project energy beams, fly, teleport and has nearly impervious skin and strength beyond measure.
          Me: I mixed Superman and Goku for this one.
          Me: I might need a new name for this one.
          Friend 2: Stranger

Mister Neighbor: a mild-mannered gentleman who advocates for peace and neighborliness. A carbon fiber sweater, blade-rimmed fighting slippers. Punches faster than the eye can see.

The Glad Butcher: A meek, emotionally repressed sportsman specializing in American Football, Hockey and Golf. He wields golf clubs, hockey sticks and wears football pads. He can withstand a lot of punishment, but once he gets angry, he becomes nigh unstoppable.
          Me: I might need a new name for this one.
          Friend 3: Sounds a little like Casey Jones.
          Me: Except Casey Jones is in no way timid haha
          Friend 2: DudeBro
          Me: i see DudeBros as more confident than this guy is.
          Me: he's got the Bobby Boucher timid thing until you piss him off, then he goes nuts.
          Friend 2: The Ref

Lurk: a combatant who can fight with energy attacks, however, only when unseen. If the eyes of the opponent can see Lurk, no damage can be dealt. Lurk can blend in with shadows.

Victoria Quietus: wearing a wide and ruffled dress and wide brimmed hat, Victoria is a trained assassin who wields two energy-sickles, able to cut through almost anything, as well as a secret poison tipped hat pin. Vainly, she takes photos of her defeated opponents with a camera she can also use to blind them.

Wu Kang: A staff-wielding monk from the planet Womb with a history of defending his race from invading world of Vulp. A strange creature, Wu Kang can project flaming square clumps of his own fecal matter at opponents. He comes to the tournament to gain help as the Vulpians are trying to upset the balance and breaching Womb’s defenses.

Goothulu: Adorable. Tiny. Monstrous. Goothulu contains multitudes and no lives matter to this elder god in the body of a human infant.

Cleric: The second choice from his planet. The first choice succumbed to an illness and Cleric was chosen as the replacement. “This is my day off,” and “I wasn’t even supposed to be here today” are some of his worries.

Dev Luceraux: A former United States Special Forces operative killed in combat, but resurrected in a secret experimental program, Anti-Corps. His original mission was defeating fascist threats, both foreign and domestic. Now his purpose is unclear, even to him and his friend, the Doctor.

Agafya Zavidnyy: from the cold outer reaches of Siberia, Russia, Agafya is a small woman with immense strength. She won many prize weapon fights with a giant log as a weapon. She was recruited by the KGB and outfitted with a suit of armor capable of a great many functions. The armor comes with a shield made of the hardest and lightest metal on Earth. She’s also been given a genetically enhanced bean which immediately renews her energy if it should ever be depleted.

Glugluch: From a race of hagfish-humanoid creatures, unevolved for the last 300 million years, Glugluch, produces a mucus-like slime that can overwhelm attackers and potentially suffocate them. Glugluch is extremely flexible and quick with an irregular, fearsome, mouth structure.

Matchman: from a species of what resembles humanoid string beans, Matchman’s species can access a pocket dimension where they can store anything, including but not limited to weapons. Matchman was chosen as a defender of the race because of his shock of long blonde hair.
          Me: I might need a different name for this one.

Tuesday, June 16, 2020

When an Orc Loves a Woman small excerpts

“Is your displeasure something I can help with?” Crag asked. “I can be persuasive.” He smiled a scary grin which shifted Niya from one leg to the other.

“Naw,” the girl said. “It’s just my boyfriend being himself.” She sighed.

“I’m not sure what type of an elf is a ‘hims’ elf, but I’ve never trusted their kind.”

-- When an Orc Loves a Woman, Chapter 15

***

From "When an Orc Loves a Woman" About an hour went by. Niya reached the end of the cornrows for Crag’s hair. She tied off every strand and bound them in small circles of what smelled like the bouncewood tree in Torxania. Nonlethal weapons were made for training from this tree. Hence, it was called bouncewood because it bounced off of the young orcs instead of killing them.

A little later in the same chapter:

A small scuffle could be heard from the door. The smack of a punch and the crash of a chair. Nick burst into the bedroom doorway. His skin resembled Crag’s shade of brown, but his limbs were much smaller and he was a head shorter. His flat top had a notch cut into it, kind of a throwback to an earlier decade that worked on him, at least in Niya’s eyes. She was the one who did his hair.

“What the hell?!” Nick exclaimed his question. He looked Crag up and down and took a step forward, raising his fists. “Who is this mother–”

Crag’s massive hand was wider than Nick’s face. He didn’t strike Nick, rather used his hand to push Nick backwards out the door and into the wall on the other side of the hallway. Crag guided Niya behind him as Nick stood up shakily.

“Who is this guy, with the jacked up grill?” Nick said from the relative safety of outside the bedroom door.

“I am Crag, of the…, Crag Rockshadow, you have been broken up with. I suggest you leave before that bit artistic language turns into your bones.”

Monday, June 15, 2020

DREAM: Mr Li and My Childhood Home - 2020/03/10

Mr Li (driver for the foreign teachers in the college where I work in China) picked me up from somewhere. It was a parking lot. I had luggage. He wasn't driving the school van. It was a four door sedan. I don't remember the color.

I had a red rolling suitcase. As I was loading it, he said something, I don't remember what, but it made me uncomfortable. I am not easily shaken, so whatever he said must have been pretty significant. The weirder part is, Mr Li doesn't speak English (he understands it IRL, so I think he can, he just doesn't). Whatever he says, I am able to understand it.

We pull up to a stop in front of my childhood home. The house is still standing (it was demolished IRL almost 20 years ago). I get out of the car and start berating Mr Li for what he said and "the energy you were expressing towards me made me uncomfortable." I don't think he responded, but I was wigged all the way out.

I take my suitcase and close the trunk. I walk towards the house. He drives off before I get in the house. The door is not the same as I remember. It's on the same part of the house (the left side of the porch as you face it). I get into the door, it is painted green on the inside (this doesn't feel right, but I don't remember the door color from my youth). I am worried that Mr Li is going to come back and harm me, so I close the door behind me, but it is in such bad shape I don't feel secure. I lock it on the handle at the left side of the door (facing it from the inside). The hinges on right side of the door are barely hanging on, so much that I can see outside. I pull the door closer to the jamb and use a deadbolt lock to "secure" it. I prop a white aluminum door, also barely on the hinges, against this door, but I don't feel safe.

I turn to look at the inside of the house. I don't remember much, except that it looks the same as I remember from being a kid. The difference is, it is bare, almost nothing is left in the house. There is a tan vibe through the house, I don't remember if tan was a prevailing color, but it felt familiar. The wall to my left as I am looking in is flimsy particle board with a gray, faux wood pattern. The gray, upright piano may have still been there.

I turn to my right and see a wooden community center table covered with junk. The house has a huge (HUGE) bay window. More than half of the front of the living room. This window couldn't open IRL. There are two, smaller windows one on each side and they would slide up 6 inches or so to open (I don't remember if they were there IRL). All three windows were open and I couldn't close them. There was no screen to keep bugs out.

Somehow I see that it is 80 degrees inside and I am reminded of another time I was here (in a dream where the heater was running constantly to counter the open windows) where my brother and oldest sister were living in this house and it was in similar disrepair. Neither of them are here now.

On the community center table in front of the window is a mass amount of garbage. There is a long piece of cardboard that looks like it is supposed to fit under the open window and I try to wedge it there. If the heater is running, I should make sure I am not wasting energy. After this, I look again at the table and notice how much mold and crap (figuratively) is on the tables. Toys, papers. Garbage. Three pizza boxes with left over slices covered in mold.