Up In the Intervention

If you know me, you know I’ve had some… issues of late.  Issues like no job, an impending divorce, and difficulty certifying with my derby league.  The job thing I’m working on, the divorce will end one day soon, but the derby thing–oi, it’s hanging around my neck like a smelly albatross.

And it’s be slowly driving me nuttier as time goes on.

Over this last Sunday and Monday I was holed up in my apartment unwilling to go anywhere ’cause I’d seen the roster for my team’s first bout of the season–and guess who isn’t on the roster?  Yeah, me.  And the reason why was an inability to do my 27/5.  And I don’t just mean hit a certain time: I mean being unable to skate more than a few laps before giving up on it ’cause I can’t handle it mentally, which translates over into being unable to do it physically.

In the last two and a half months I know I’ve done it all the way through twice, and both those times were last week.  I may have done it one other time, but I can’t remember.  I know there’s a whole lot of times when I didn’t do it: I’d get in like five or six laps then just quit because I simply didn’t have to will or urge to continue.

Last night was no different.  I was in a bad mood when I got to practice.  I had shit tons of anxiety happening and I felt like I was going to meltdown at any moment.  We did our cardio to start and after the first few laps I felt the energy ebbing away.  I mean, I finished cardio, but I wasn’t setting any records.

And then it was time to do my laps and I didn’t want to go.  I wouldn’t even acknowledge that I needed to so then.  It was only after the coach and another skater went to the track did I slink out and line up.  I was getting tips on what to do from one of my former teammates who’s now reffing, but… half the time I was crying whenever I spoke with her.  I was just a mess.  After after about a half-dozen laps I just coasted to a stop and went off to do a little private sobbing.

Oh, but it doesn’t end there.  Nope.

Before we got ready to scrimmage some people wanted to know why I didn’t do my 27/5.  And I was actually telling people I was in a horrible state of mind and that I didn’t have to energy to skate that because I’d considered killing myself over the last two days and the feeling was still with me.  Yes, I was saying this.  Aloud.  Around my teammates, most of whom could hear me.

Yeah, it was a little too much.

So after scrimmage practice–which I got through fine ’cause there’s nothing like skating hard and getting hit to get your mind of suicidal ideation–I degeared and got ready to go home.  One of my coaches came over to discuss Jessica Jones, ’cause I’d posted a couple of great lines from Season 2, and we chatted about that.  But before I could leave…

Let’s back up here for a moment.

One of the positions on the board of directors of the league is league rep.  Their job is to make sure things go smoothly with the players and if there’s an issue brewing with them–like maybe one wants to rip the head of another for some reason–the rep steps in and speaks to the parties.  The current rep is a friend I introduced to derby, so I had some history with her before she was elected.

As I was getting ready to leave she came up and told me we needed to talk.  As in we needed to really talk.  So I suggested we go somewhere close and I could have a drink and something to eat while we talked.

What she told me was this: the league was getting really worried about me.  They were concerned about how crazy I was getting over doing a 27/5, but that was due to their concern about some of the shit I’ve been posting and saying over the last few weeks.  Also, when you’re coming into practice and talking about how hard it was to not die over the weekend–well, you know, your teammates have to step in and stage some kind of intervention.

And that’s what I was getting.

I found out that not only was I wrong about thinking that my league didn’t give a shit about me–something I’d said over the last month or so–but they were worried about my well-being.  People wanted to see me certify and it bothered them that I was unable to cross that last hurdle.  And they were getting worried by all the talk about suicide.  I’d mentioned that I almost didn’t come to practice and I was told that if that had happened, there would have been people checking up on me.

I eventually broke down and cried for about five minutes straight ’cause I was dying inside last night.  I’ve been hurting for a while and closing myself off from people, and it isn’t doing my mind any good. The fact that I was seeing my league and teammates and coaches in all the wrong light was a sign that I was slipping into delusional paranoia brought on by depression, and once you head down that road it’s tough to see straight without having someone point out that you’re losing you shit in a big way.

I felt better when I got home and I feel better today.  I went out for a while and took in the sunlight and ignored the fact that the wind made it colder than it was.  I drove around just to do something besides sit at home and feel bad.  And I had sushi:

 

I’ll likely make another attempt at the 27/5 tomorrow night. If I make it I may play Sunday, I may not.  More than likely I won’t play, but that’s okay because there’s other bouts coming in April and May and I’ll have time to get ready for them.  The important thing to take away here is that I do have people watching my back and they do worry about me.

I mean, I’ve likely always known they were there.

But trying to see them through your own problem?  That’s the problem.

Killer of Dreams

Writing is a hard business.  Not just the publishing end of it, but getting down in front of the computer or your typewriter, or even your paper, and you gotta put those words down, one after another, and you keep doing it until you finish the damn thing.  Start, write, finish.  That’s the deal.

Sometimes, however, that becomes easier said than done.  Things wear at you; things tear you down.  We all know stories about authors who are just one step away of completely losing they minds–or, in the case of a few, having lost it completely and they decided to write though the madness.

That’s how I’ve felt for a while; that I was writing though some madness that wouldn’t leave me alone.  It just gnawed at me like a beast picking you apart slowly but surely.

And last week it nearly won.

I had a hard time of things last Friday, and was pretty much at my wit’s end for more than a few things.  It was a tough time, and if not for the help of a lot of friends who came to my aid, I might still be rolling through that madness.

I haven’t forgotten what happened, and I’m truly moving ahead to make things better.  But last night . . . I had some thoughts I had to get out.  Thoughts that weren’t going to stay quite any longer.

I’ve been playing with video a lot of late, and getting some of the things I’ve said uploaded to a YouTube account.  I’ve had fun it with, because it’s a different medium and there’s things that come out on video that you can’t hide unless you’re a very good actor.  I’m not a very good actor; when it comes to my emotions, things tend to come spilling out these days, because hormones jack with you like you wouldn’t believe.

I put a twelve minute video together last night, after the television and computer were off, and talked a little about the state of mind I’ve labored under for a while.  It’s a hard video; there’s a lot of feeling in my voice, there’s true feelings coming out, and more than a few tears come out.  I don’t mind that last, because tears are good.  They mean I can’t hold back, and given how things keep welling up inside these days, I don’t want to keep them in.  I gotta let them out.

Jim Butcher was the one who, a few years ago, said giving up on writing is the same as killing your dreams, and there are no truer words spoken.  I mention that in the video, and you can see how it makes me feel to think about doing just that.  It’s a thing I’ve done before, and I know others have as well.  I’m a firm believer these days that dreams should never die, because without your dreams, what do you have left?

Watch if you like, but be warned:  it’s pretty raw.  That’s how stream of thought is–it’s real, and it just comes at you.

Like life.

But if it helps other writers out there articulate what they also feel from time-to-time, then I’ve done something good.

That’s what really counts.

Affirmations in the Morning Light

There are demons who follow everyone around.  Not demons in the sense that creatures from Hell as tip-toeing about in your shadows waiting to snag your soul when you least expected it; after all, it’s hard to tip-toe when you have hooves, ’cause that clopping makes a hell of a noise.  I know, ’cause I used to be a demoness in Second Life–let me tell you, finding a pair of boots was hell.  True, pure, hell.

I have demons of a different kind.  They whisper in my ear and tell me what a load of crap I am, and then giggle at their own inventiveness.  They run you down as much as possible and twist your head around so much you look like you came out of rehearsals for The Exorcist.  Just once I’d like to get a succubus come and visit me, but that’s asking for too much, I suppose.

The demons came for me yesterday, and it was a close thing.  They hit me at work, and never let up, keeping my heart in a constant state of feeling like it wanted to leap out of my body and run for cover.  That is one of the worst feelings in the world, and after you’ve suffered with it for a few hours, you want the pain to stop.  It didn’t, and it wouldn’t.  It lay there like a dull ache, a rotted remnant of all the past pain through which I’ve suffered over the years.

It finally grew so bad I made a comment to some of my Facebook friends.  It was one of those cryptic statements that gets people wondering what the hell is going on.  I made a few, then left.  I figured I’d stay off Facebook for a while, come back when I got home–after I chased the demons away–and then go back and apologize later.  Little did I know the storm I’d set off . . .

I have friends, people who started calling each other and discussing the fact they thought they were something wrong with me, and the finally found the one people who, if they talked to me, would find out what was bothering me.  Yep–that person.  You know who . . .

The story has a happy ending.  After many tears were shed and words exchanged, I settled down, I got my head together, I shot a video for my friends explaining what happened and what I was feeling, and everyone felt better when it was all over.

But there was something else taken away from it all . . .

In my current story, in the scene where Annie visited Kerry in the hospital close to the time when everyone’s suppose to go to bed, she tells Kerry he’s worthy of love.  he so used to not receiving affection that her words strike him hard.  He’s never imagined that he was worthy of anything much less love.

One of the things I was told last night is that I have to learn to love myself.  I need to be selfish and put myself ahead of my love for others and make sure I remind myself, day and night, that I’m freakin’ amazing, and that I love myself.  And I realized that’s something that Kerry doesn’t understand–not yet, at least.  Even later in his relationship with Annie, he’s yet to figure out that he’s worthy of his own love.  He doesn’t realize that if he doesn’t love himself, all he’s leaving for Annie to love is an empty, dead shell of a person.  It’s why he feels such insecurity in later stories; it’s why he lets his parents treat him like an outsider.  He hasn’t figured out that while he has Annie’s love, in order to survive, he needs his own love.

I’m getting better.  I love someone, but I’ve found it hard to love myself.  But with the hormonal changes, with the continuing transition, I’m now getting in touch with the person I’m suppose to really love.  I don’t want to be a shell any longer; the deadness inside is no longer desirable–

It’s time to tell the demons to take a hike and let me love the one who needs my love.

Though if a nice succubus wants to stick around, I won’t complain . . .

Kerry probably sees this in the morning, too.  It's a good feeling to know you're seeing it with someone you love.

Kerry probably sees this in the morning, too. It’s a good feeling to know you’re seeing it with someone you love.

Signposts Amid the Shadows

I’m touching on writing a little here, but I’m getting into some other stuff as well–like mental illness.  That’s a heavy thing, so if you don’t want to read what I have to say, look at the picture and move along.

This looks like it's near Annie's house--which makes sense, since I'm going to talk about her.

This looks like it’s near Annie’s house–which makes sense, since I’m going to talk about her.

Onward, then.

 

Though it may seem like a strange thing to consider when writing a novel about tweens and teens who are training up to be magical people, one of the things I had to consider when putting Salem together was the issue of counselling and mental health issues.  That’s a very important thing to consider when you one realizes that pulling some kid in off the street and showing them they can alter reality to suit their whims may just put a weird-ass bend on their personality in time.  The Foundation isn’t going to be happy if, after your second year at school, you turn your parents into ferrets and keep then in cages the whole summer.

And that’s a minor thing.  Imagine what happens when you get really good?  Say . . . like my main characters.

There will come a time at Salem when the pressures of what’s happening in their lives becomes a little too much for Annie and Kerry, and they start to lose it a little.  I mean, Annie admitted first day of Sorcery class she knew how to kill someone with black magic, and Kerry was already seen suffering from depression.  Sure, becoming better witches is going to make their feel a lot better–until they snap.

Then all hell breaks loose.

In these stories there will come a time where Kerry nearly dies.  There will come a time where Annie loses her shit and almost kills someone in school.  There will come a time where both Annie and Kerry will be put through a most stressful day that pushes them physically, magically, and mentally right to the edge and beyond.  There will come a time where both of them are faced with a situation that may seem like it’s the final night for them both, and they not only talk about their impending demise–they promise each other that if one should die, the other will follow, because continuing to live without their soul mate simply isn’t an option.

That’s an issue that’s really simple for them as well.  Annie points out that they both know enough transformation magic and sorcery that if they wanted to die, it would be over in less time than it would take to work up the spell.  Stop your heart, freeze your blood, shut down all chemical reactions in your brain:  stuff they could do to others they could easily do to themselves.  It would be quick, it would be painless, and they’d know someone would be waiting for them on the other side once they were gone.  It’s not something either would do because of depression:  they’re not like that.  But to join the other in death?  Yeah, not a second thought is needed.

It’s the  part about being able to do this to others that keeps The Foundation on their toes.  At various times in the stories they both get counselling.  They both suffer depression; they both go through periods of intense anxiety; they both exhibit signs of PTSD at various times.  All before they ever get out of school, so imagine what their adult lives are gonna be like.

But they get great counselling.  The Foundation has some of the best counselors in the world, and when you have a couple of people like Annie and Kerry representing your future, you want them to get the best psychiatric case possible.  And they do.

They live in a world where they can get all the best medical care possible.  They live in a world where, after a particularly hard day of fighting the magical fight in the shadows, they can spend the next month chilling and talking to someone about the experience.  They go to a school that has enchantments in place to prevent people from jumping out of high towers, or crashing brooms into walls at a few hundred kilometers an hour, or setting themselves on fire, or any number of ways one may try to harm themselves.  They live in a world where certain people–whose names start with an A and a K–could, if they decided to just go completely batshit insane, could do up River Tam considerably and take out a couple of dozen people with their minds.

It’s not a perfect location for that, but the school does its best, because training kids up to be the future shadow runners of the world is sometimes gonna leave an invisible mark.

We, on the other hand, aren’t that lucky.  I’ve never hidden my own mental illness, never admitted that it isn’t there.  Between depression, being bi-polar, and having GID, I’ve been a mess most of my life.

Mental health treatment in the country of my birth is a joke.  Most of it isn’t covered by insurance.  Nearly all my therapy has been covered out of pocket since 2009 on, and believer me, it’s not cheap.  I don’t take meds because I (1) have no health insurance, and (2) didn’t like how I felt when I was on meds, which was either zombie-like or not much better than I was before getting on them.

These days I do what I can to get by, and I’m usually successful.  Usually.  I have my “Break down and cry” moments, and they’re usually bad, but I get over them and move on.  I was crying Sunday when I went out to pay a bill, because I do that–cry, not pay bills.  Saturday night . . . well, that was a disaster.

I have a hotline number on my phone, and my therapist’s number as well.  When I’m feeling bad I don’t go out on my balcony, because I live twelve stories up and I have enough knowledge of physics and laws of gravity and acceleration to know once you’re over the side it just about two seconds and done, finished, out of the blue and into the black.  Quick, easy, and pretty much painless.

When I’m feeling really bad I visualize.  I have two people that mean everything to me.  One is my daughter.  The world can suck enough and she doesn’t need anymore suckage in her life.  The other is a person I spoke of last week, the one person who means the world to me.  When I get really bad I imagine her alone in a room in the dark, crying because she’s heard that I’ve move on beyond The Veil and I’m not coming back.  I hold that image in my mind for a few moments, then shuffle all the bad shit away and move on.

I’d die for her, but not that way.  It isn’t fair to her.

My novel kids will not always have an easy time.  Before they turn eighteen they’re going to see a world of shit, and it will be difficult for them to walk away unscathed.  It’s stuff that they’ll take into adulthood, things that will remain with them for a long time.

But I’ll take care of them in the end and see they get help.

If only I could do that for everyone.

Broke Down and Hospital Bound

Depression is a mess.  Besides being tired and completely out of it for most of the morning, about noon I was hit with a bout of crushing depression.  I mean, the sort that has you locking up the sharp objects and has you taking to bed for the day.  Even the joking and kidding of some of my friends on line didn’t do much to bring me out of the funk.

Needless to say, I was also writing, because hell, yeah, I do that even when I’m alone, depressed, and crying.

 

I started out with this:

 

(All excerpts, this page, from The Foundation Chronicles, Book One: A For Advanced, copyright 2013, 2014, by Cassidy Frazee)

Kerry was beginning to feel as if he were on trial.

He had no recollection of what was done to him once Emma and he were picked up and moved to the hospital; Nurse Coraline put him under within minutes of determining his injuries. When he woke up he was in pajamas and lying in bed—the wall to his left told him he was back in Bed #2. The right side of his head was bandaged and he felt something pressing against a few of the ribs on his right side. There was a bright blue cast around his lowly right leg and foot, and his left knee rested upon a triangular pillow, held immobile by an invisible force.

 

From the first word, “Kerry”, to the last one, “force”, there was a period of maybe ninety minutes that flowed by slowly.  But, hey:  I’ve written through my depression before.  Besides, I needed to get this scene out–

Because I’ve got a couple of broke down kids in the hospital.

 

Emma sat on the edge of the bed next to him, Bed #1 where Annie had lay when they came in after their gardening a month ago, dressed in street clothes, her left forearm encased in the same type of blue cast as leg. Nurse Coraline stood at the end of his bed; Professor Salomon and Annie stood next to her. All had walked up moments before, probably having met outside Coraline’s office. The professor was still in her flying leathers, but Annie had changed back into her uniform before coming to the hospital, which likely meant the professor and she had taken Emma and his brooms back to the hanger after the crash.

Nurse Coraline pointed at Emma, who tried not to look at anyone when she was being discusses. “Your little moon princess over there got lucky. A lot of bruises and scrapes, and the only serious injury is a broken left forearm. I’m releasing her pretty much as soon as we’re done here so she can eat dinner with the rest of her covenmates.”

Vicky nodded, then looked at the boy in the bed. “And Kerry?”

“Oh, he’s a bit worse for the wear.” Coraline moved to his left side. “He’s got a nasty bump on his head and a slight concussion—”

“Did you tell him?”

Kerry looked up at Coraline. “Tell me what?”

“Anyone with a concussion is automatically grounded for a minimum of seventy-two hours. You can’t get back on a PAV until you’re cleared by the Flight Surgeon.” The right corner of her mouth curled upward. “That’s me, by the way.”

Kerry looked away, focusing on a spot between his other visitors. “Oh.”

“He’s also got two broken ribs, though it looks like his torso was compressed to cause them to break—”

Emma cleared her throat as she stared at the floor. “I fell on top of him.” Annie didn’t say a word, but she burned holes in Emma with her eyes. Kerry saw it; he was pretty sure Nurse Coraline caught it at well.

The good nurse continued with the litany of Kerry’s injuries. “He’s also has a broken right ankle, which should heal up completely before morning. But this—” Her hands hovered over the raised left knee. “This right here is gonna keep him confined to bed for the whole night and part of the morning.”

“Knee damage?” Vicky had suffered a broken knee when she’d crashed during a race while a D Level, and recognized the same immobilization she went through.

Coraline shook her head. “Oh, this isn’t just damage, Vicky. This is the trifecta of knee damage. He has an ACL tear, as well as tears to his medial and lateral collateral ligaments. I can’t figure out how it was screwed up so badly—”

Emma looked up, her face a mask of sorrow. “I did that, too. I slid into him and hit his knee with the shaft of my broom.”

Humph.” This time Annie didn’t bother hiding her displeasure. She took a step closer to Kerry, touching the foot board of the hospital bed. “He’ll have to spend the night here?”

“Afraid so, Annie.” She slowly moved to the end of the bed, standing directly across from the girl. “I’ve got the keep the knee immobilized while my little enchanted nanoids work on getting everything back almost good as new.” She flipped a withering look Kerry’s way. “You’re lucky this happened here. In a Normal hospital you’d probably be bedridden for over a month, and in physical therapy for months after. Here I’ll have you walking around tomorrow, though you’ll have to take it slow and easy.”

Kerry folded his hands across his stomach. “If I can’t get out of bed, how am I gonna go to the bathroom?”

“Ever heard of bedpans?” Coraline looked across Kerry’s bed at Emma. “You’re lucky you didn’t take his lower leg off. Then he’d be here for two or three days while it was reattached.”

 

Yeah, Emma, that’s the way to do things.  Not only screw up Kerry, but prove to his Soul Mate that everything she’s starting to think about you is true!

And this leads to our School Nurse/Doctor starting to ask Vicky why a couple of her kids are in the hospital with broken bones and torn up knees.  But, of course, Vicky has answers .  . .

 

The was a five second pause while the professor gave though to a myriad of answers before settling on the truth. “A long ways out. They took off near Gate Jump and I lost them. I had to go airborne and didn’t see them again until they were racing down West End—”

“Where were you when you lost them?” Coraline hadn’t ever raced, but as the school doctor she knew the locations of every section of all three courses.

“Just coming into The Narrows.”

“And you shot over to West End and found them there?” Coraline shook her head. “Why didn’t you stop them there?”

There was another pause, and when Vicky spoke her answer was half muttered. “I didn’t want to stop them because it was obvious they were flying pretty fast.”

Coraline took a step closer to Vicky. “You wanna define ‘pretty fast’ for me, ‘cause I know you, Vic: you’ve already had a peek at their flight recorders, so you know exactly how fast they were going.”

Vicky pressed the back of her index finger against her lips. “Emma hit a top speed of three hundred forty-seven kilometers per hour; Kerry hit three hundred fifty-one.”

Coraline’s eyes widened considerably. “Why didn’t you stop them in Sunset Boulevard—”

“Because both of them went through there between two twenty-five and two forty.”

“Kilometers an hour?”

“Yeah.”

The little finger of Coraline’s left hand began to twitch as she unloaded on Vicky. “We have kids who’ve raced for a couple of years that won’t fly two forty through Sunset Boulevard.” She turned and shouted at Emma and Kerry. “What the hell is wrong with you two? Three fifty through West End? You both could have been killed.” She turned back to Vicky. “And you waited until they were heading into Double Dip—”

“Because it’s a chicane and they’d have to slow—”

“Look how wonderfully that worked out.”

 

Yeah, Coraline’s not a happy woman.  Something about kids flying at high speed in unsafe conditions–it gets her riled up.

And because I know some of you are hung up on Imperial measurements, let me do the conversions for you:

 

“Emma hit a top speed of two hundred fifteen miles per hour; Kerry hit two hundred seventeen.”

“Because both of them went through there between one forty and one fifty.”

 

There you are:  they took Sunset Boulevard between 140 and 150 mph, and were zipping along West End at 215 and 217 mph.  I should point out that, if you’re a racing fan, 215 is almost as fast as the fastest recorded time set by a NASCAR stock car on a closed oval course–a speed of 216.309 mph, set by Rusty Wallace on June 9, 2004, at Talladega Superspeedway in Alabama.  When he did, however, he was locked up inside a car with a roll cage and a sitting in a special seat, and was pretty much strapped in so tight that if he had rolled he probably would have climbed from the wreckage without much help.  He wasn’t riding on a thin piece of flying carbon-carbon filament with his butt plated in a bicycle seat.  And he wasn’t eleven or twelve, either.

Oh, wait:  217 is faster, so Kerry says, “In your face, Rusty!”  Bring on the endorsements, guys, these kids could be your new superstars.

Assuming the girl friend of one of them doesn’t flip out . . .

I'm lookin' and I don't see the Annie murders idiot boyfriend scene coming next.  So Kerry can probably rest easy.  Probably.

I’m lookin’ and I don’t see the Annie murders idiot boyfriend scene coming next. So Kerry can probably rest easy. Probably.

Toil and Bubble

Into each life comes a little depression now and then–or, if you’re me, it sort of hangs around waiting for me to leave the front door cracked a bit so it can come stomping in and make itself at home.  That’s how yesterday afternoon was:  I’d finished my blog post, I’d finished laundry, and I was going to sit and work on an article . . . and I couldn’t.  The old depression had kicked in and I didn’t feel like doing much of that.  I also didn’t feel like watching TV, either, because I’d sit and watch a couple of my favorite movies, The Bridge on the River Kwai and Laurence of Arabia, and after fifteen, twenty minutes of sitting I had to get up and do something else.

Part of it is this feeling of wanting to “do something”, to have other things going on besides sitting in the apartment and staring at the walls.  Money has been tight of late, and that cuts down on getting out, but there’s also this feeling of isolation I’m experiencing.  Now that I’m not writing–or at least actively working on a story–the old feeling of sameness and routine has once more taken over, and it sucks.  It sucks bad.

I really need something new in my life.

Tonight I’ll start in on some editing.  I have something that’s been sitting in my queue for a bit and I’ll jump into that and work out getting it out, but I’ve also the inclination to get back into some of slush pile as well.  I have tons of stuff waiting, and there’s so much editing to do, it’s hard to know where to begin.  Some of my shorter things is really the best jumping off point, but I have a couple of novels that need this attention as well.

It would be a bit easier if I had one of the witches from my Salem school to come and help me.  Maybe they could cook up something that would help get out of these feelings–though we know from experience that my Professor Sladen doesn’t like cauldrons, and she’d probably go after a poor witch with her magical Super Soaker if she caught them using one to mix up a product.

"Any minute now that crazy lesbian is gonna come along and whack me . . . And why am I holding a lantern?  Can't I just like put light in the air?  *sigh*  I shouldn't have skipped Spells that day."

“Any minute now that crazy lesbian is gonna come along and whack me . . . And why am I holding a lantern? Can’t I just like put light in the air? *sigh* I shouldn’t have skipped Spells that day.”

Editing is a good thing to get into.  I have too much stuff laying about, and it’s a great way to get out the old.  Plus . . . I’m considering setting up an account on Durotrop and sending out stories for sale this time, and not just working towards self-publishing.  It’s great experience to get rejection slips, but even greater experience if you make the sale.  A full year’s subscription there is $50, and one could blow that much at Starbucks in a week, so if it opens up a new beginning for my stories, it’s well worth the money.

If I’m going to find myself in a routine, it may as well be one that I enjoy.

Quiet Twilight, Unquite Night

Yesterday wasn’t my best day ever.  It happens.  Sometimes you simply aren’t on your game and everything feels like it’s falling apart, and about all you can do is hang on and ride everything out.  Sort of like whale riding, only without the whale.

But You still get through.  I took a nap–something I never do these days–then chatted with a few people.  I didn’t get to writing until about eight-thirty, which is late for me, and only wrote for about an hour.  The feeling wasn’t there, but I could sense what I wanted to write, so I took my time an worked it down to the paper.

As a treat, here is everything I wrote last night, all six hundred and fifty-five words without an edit.  Enjoy.

 

(Excerpt from The Foundation Chronicles, Book One: A For Advanced, copyright 2013, 2014, by Cassidy Frazee)

Dinner was an early affair for Annie and Kerry. After Basic Spell Casting came Basic Science, running from thirteen to fifteen, taught by Polly Grünbach, a young woman from Lithuania with a long braid of black hair cascading down her back. When the class was over they had the afternoon off, so they returned to the tower to relax and nap before eating.

They napped because there was an evening class: Astronomy, starting at twenty-one thirty and running until half-past midnight. The classes were held at the Observatory, which sat in the middle of the far-northern area of the campus, far away from all the other building. As it was placed so far from The Pentagram, it made for the longest hike to any classroom: a kilometer and a half straight line, which translated to almost seventeen hundred meters overland or through the tunnel system. That meant walking a mile there and back, and not getting into bed until nearly one in the morning—something neither Annie or Kerry were thrilled to do, but saw no other way out of the predicament.

It was early, however: class wouldn’t start for another ninety minutes. Kerry could have used the time resting, but Annie wanted to go out and explore. They’d covered most of the southern part of the campus, and also walked along the walls, but they’d not ventured north of the Witch House yet. The buildings here weren’t clustered together: there was plenty of wooded land between each classroom, and one was expected to cover six or seven hundred meters to get from one location to another.

They walked the main tunnel from the Arts and History Building towards Memory’s End. Kerry found a surface entrance—more of a sunken tower encasing a spiral staircase—that brought them out a few dozen meters from Memroy’s End. From there they began following the path to the Witch House, then after ten meters turned left onto a not-well defined path that wasn’t in any way marked.

Kerry asked Annie why she wanted to go this way, but her only reply was that she wanted to “see something.” He could have checked the map on his tablet—he found he could get excellent wifi everywhere, even in the tunnels—but every time he hauled out his computer while they were walking, Annie would give him . . . It wasn’t a dirty look but more like a slight irritation, as if she couldn’t believe he was going to hop on-line to look up something while they were out together. He’d quickly learned over the weekend there were times he could bring out the computer, and times he should leave it in his backpack.

This was one of the later times.

It was getting dusky, and the sky over head and to the east was a deep purple. It was just a little after nineteen, and actual sunset would happen in about ten minutes. Kerry had read yesterday that the pathways were illuminated in “unobtrusive fashion,” which he took to mean the lighting was probably just enough to keep someone from wandering off a path and getting lost in the woods. Neither of them had been out past the Pentagram after dark, so wandering to the Observatory along a dark path was going to be an unusual experience.

Annie said nothing for most of the walk: she held Kerry’s hand and sauntered along the path, absorbed in the gathering gloom. She’d been in a good mood after Basic Spells, feeling better about having performed magic, and having seen Lisa get her comeuppance. She’d also expressed pleasure that Kerry had managed the same, which he still found amazing. He told her after Science that he’d felt something tickling the back of his neck, just the way Professor Douglas described it might feel. When that happened he just though of the power going into his image and—pow. Magic.

Every writer has moments when they think they suck.  George R. R. Martin has said he’ll look at what he’s written and thing, “How the hell did you ever become a writer?  This is crap!”  He probably thinks that after he kills off a dozen characters in a tragic orgy held in a dragon’s nest, but that’s another story.

I’ve become used to having ups and downs when I write.  There are many times when I think I should just give up and call it a day, because nothing is happening with what I’m doing.  Then I read what I’ve posted above and think, “Yeah . . . it’s not that bad,” and I keep going.  There are even moments when I think I’ve written some great stuff.

Oh, and my dreams last night–screwed up.  One of them had me on a train with a woman I know, going off to rescue someone.  I think her kids.  I’m not sure.  All I know is there were a lot of nervous people around, and I was like, “Yeah, sweat it out, I got this covered.”

Now to be that cool in real life.

The Winter of Discontent

Yesterday something popped up on my blog–not my blog, actually, but more a message from WordPress.  It was, “Congratulations!  You registered with us five years ago today.”

I had to think about that, because I was damned if I could remember just when I’d signed up and established my presence here.  I remember when I started blogging–those first, abortive attempts in April of 2011 that I didn’t take very seriously, like damn near everything else in my life back that.  But I hadn’t remembered when I signed up for this space, I had to think . . .

Yeah, that would be right before Christmas 2008, not long after being laid off from a job I’d held for thirteen years.  A job that had been going downhill fast at the point, but because the economy was free falling faster than Gypsy Danger from fifty thousand feet, there weren’t a lot of options when it came to better employment.  So when the end came I took my severance with a smile and more or less told them I was happy to be leaving their shit stain of a job behind.

Sure, I wouldn’t work again for a little over three years, but you have to take the bad with the good.

Why did I sign up?  I don’t remember the exact reasons.  I believed, most likely, that I had something to say, and that I was going to try this fangled thing the kids called “blogging”, ’cause I can write and people are gonna want to hear what I have to say.  Yeah, December 2008.  I had me a blogging area.  I wouldn’t start writing until about . . . let me see . . . yeah, about two and a half years later.

That was probably a good thing, because everything coming out of my mouth back then was filled with remorse.  I was still in therapy, and would remain so through 2009–that was when my insurance ran out and I couldn’t afford to not only see my counselor any more, but I couldn’t afford the medication I was taking.  I will tell you right now, in case anyone is wondering:  mental health coverage is a wonderful thing.  Sometimes the only thing preventing you from jumping off a building is a twenty dollar co-pay on your meds, and if you have that in your life, you should consider yourself lucky.

Why all the gloomy talk?  For one, I had another strange dream–yeah, that’s been happening for some reasons.  I can’t quite put my finger on what happened, but think of it as Glee with time travel.  Like I said, strange.  I have no idea what it meant, but it was there.  The one thing I do remember is that I was told, quite a lot actually, that I needed to get better.  And I spent a large part of the dream alone.

I’ve also thought, for a few weeks now, that my depression has come back.  I’d distracted a lot these days.  I look for things to break up the monotony, and it’s not always there.  When I’m writing, at times it feels like I yank the words out onto the page, that I have trouble typing them, like I don’t want to see them, even though I do.

When I’m not at work I spend all my time alone.  It’s one of the reasons I try to eat out on the weekends, because I do get a bit of peace from being out among the people–even if the majority of them look like scary-ass crackers, like the people I saw yesterday.  You pay your money and you take the ride, right?

Five years registered, half of that writing.

Where am I going to be in five years?

Maybe a time traveling Glee knows.

 

From Ends to Witches

I’m here, and it’s early in the morning, and for most people where I live it’s a holiday.  But as Rocky once said, “It’s Thursday,” and that’s how I look at it as well most of the time.  If only Bison had attacked Chun-Li’s village on Thursday, then I could meme the hell out of today.

Now yesterday . . . no meming going on, but oh, that was not a good day.  Because I have depression, it’s often necessary to gauge a day on a scale of good to bad.  Yesterday was bad, really bad, extremely bad, double-plus ungood bad.  I was unable to do much of anything but stare at the computer screen, play games, and think about how bad the day had become.  There were any number of reasons for this:  weather, body dysmorphia, lack of hormones, just hating my lot in life–name it and it was probably rolling about in my head at some point.

The bad part comes when it cripples my creativity.  I had a few hundred words written earlier in the day, but after that I couldn’t stand to look at the story.  Every time I’d look at it, I didn’t want to deal with the damn thing.  Sometimes I snap out of that, sometimes I have to kick myself in the ass to get me to move.

Yesterday I sat and sat for hours, well into the afternoon, before I did something:  I went looking for music.  And I found a couple of things that helped pull me out.  First, The Kinks are The Village Green Preservation Society, which is one of the most underrated albums of all time by one of the most underrated groups of all time.  Lovely little pop songs of around three minutes each to help get you out of a funk.  Then I slipped into The Kinks Khronicles, which is a collection of their singles and B-sides that was released in 1972.  (Do you realize there are no such thing as “B-Sides” anymore?  Or that most people have no idea what they are these days?)  One of my favorite songs, Waterloo Sunset, is on Khronicles, as is another favorite, Victoria.  It helped immensely I could hear that both these close together.

After all that I threw on Aoxomoxoa by The Grateful Dead.  I’m not a Deadhead, but there are times when mellow yet somewhat experimental tunes is just the thing to pull you out of a spin, and an hour of that album did wonders.  In fact I’m listening to a concert the Dead performed at Winterland Arena on 11 November, 1973.  It’s a three hour concert, or as some people might say, one of their shorter ones from that period.  (When the Dead performed at the last show at Winterland on New Years, 1978/79, they played for just over six hours.)

In the end it all helped.  Later in the evening I started writing, and by the time I finished, some time around ten-thirty PM, I was over fifteen hundred words, I’d closed out my last scene, and started the next one–the visit to The Witch House.  Ooooh, spooky.

I’ll return to The Witch House today.  Why?

Hey, a girl’s gotta write.

 

The Unknown Unknowns

As I neared the local Panera this morning, the ravens were out in force, flying about in their murder formation, but one sat on a section of the facade and cawed at me as I walked towards the door. I asked it if they wanted to spend a moment telling me about their lord and savior, the Mórrígan, but they didn’t seem amused. Could be they were from Westeros; maybe they were telling me I was invited to a wedding.  I’m on to your douche move, dudes.

Last night I was out in The Burg. I was surprised to discover there is a night life on the street where I live. (No, Sherlock, no singing this morning.) But I wasn’t out to hit a bar or two; no, I was on my way to a meeting. What kind, you ask? Serial Killers Anonymous, we meet every other Saturday . . . Naw, nothing like that. It was a group I was interested in meeting, and meet I did, though only in the sense that I was there last night. I’m not good with meeting people, so there was a lot of standing around and such. I did speak with a few people, but for the most part it was listen and learn.

It wasn’t happy time, however. The discussion for the evening revolved around a member who’d recently died. And not just died, but she’d killed herself. So the mood wasn’t the best for the evening.

There was a lot of discussion about why people didn’t pick up on warning signs, was it possible there was something one could have done, and wasn’t there something that one could use to, you know, profile someone to know if they’re ready to jump off a bottle of pills? The counselor who were there last night was pretty diplomatic, because I’d have said that profiling crap only works on Criminal Minds and FBI statistics show they only solve about three percent of cases by profiling the perp, but there was one thing she said that made me listen. She said that with suicide, it’s a personal thing, that a trigger comes along a pushes the person into their dark, dark space, and we’ll never know the reasons why they took that final step . . .

. . . In that moment I was in one of my stories, because a few months back, while working on a character for an upcoming story, one person was grieving over the loss of a friend who’d visited them a few months before, and had killed herself six weeks later. The character was hiding away, wondering why they didn’t pick up on the signs, and a friend of theirs said virtually the same words to him that I heard last night: no matter what, you’ll never know why someone takes that last step, and you can’t continue to beat yourself up over something that wasn’t your fault.

Given the framework of the world in which the story takes place, it would be possible to summon the girl’s spirit with a necromancy ritual, but who wants to do that? Serious juju, people, and if you screw it up, you’ll find yourself whacking demons when you’re rather suck face with your girlfriend.

Am I writing what I know? When it comes to suicide and death, am I dancing around a subject I know a little too well? Well, yes, I do. I know death, and I know those feelings. Do I know about having those feelings now and then? Of course. It’s a little like being an alcoholic who keeps a bottle near by to steady their will. You’ll stand on the side of a street, or drive down a winding road, or, like me, sit on your twelfth floor balcony and know if you were to go over the side you’d only have to think about the fall for three seconds . . .

But I’m all better now.

I’ve got too many things to say these days, you know?

River Misting

One of the nice things about where I currently live is that I can see the river from balcony.  I’m eleven stories up, though the way they count the floors in this building, I’m actually twelve, but lets not quibble.  It’s one more, it’s eleven, and I’m good with that.

I stepped outside for a moment, just to take in the cool morning air while my computer finished booting.  Things are lit up, and there’s a bit of traffic on the street below.  But, off maybe two blocks, the river is dark, as is the opposite bank.  And rising off the river, up and down the length, is a light, cool mist, topping out at nearly the same height as my apartment.  It’s something I haven’t seen in . . . well, pretty much forever, since I’ve never lived by a river, and never lived in a high rise apartment.

But it’s something that I loved seeing.

Where I’m at now with life gives me a little different perspective on writing as well.  The Summer of ’13 was the pits:  looking for work, getting depressed about my last novel, struggling to get through a novella before cranking out a story that ended up turning into a novel–it wasn’t the best time of my life.  It all felt a bit disjointed and meandering.  And before heading out to The Burg I was seriously considering giving up writing, because I felt as if I were going nowhere fast, and getting there even quicker.

This is what depression does to you:  it screws up your perception of the world, and what’s going on around you.  It makes you want to kill your dreams, even when you know you shouldn’t.  I’ve gotten through it before–my time in The Undisclosed Location was nothing but depression, and I managed some great writing.  But this last summer was something else entirely:  it was like The Bad Old Days, and you don’t want to go through those.

One of the things that set my teeth to gnashing is reading all the comments from people who like to say that all writers are crazy.  “Oh, I was looking up how to murder someone with a pen, I be so nutty!”  Uh, huh.  I think I was doing that when I was nine, after someone in school pissed me off and I considering ramming a pencil through their neck.  No, there are crazy writers, but they’re nutty not cause the think things that no one else thinks, it’s ’cause they got demons chewing at their butt The and they want them the hell out of their lives.

Crazy is thinking you suck when you don’t, and putting yourself down because you can.  It’s being like me, an emotionally repressed person suffering with bi-polar disorder and gender identity issues most of her life, and has come extremely close on a few occasions to grabbing a bottle of sleeping tables, a liter of Gray Goose, and taking a midnight ride to the middle of nowhere to lay herself down to sleep one last time.

Now, though . . . I see the mist rising on the river and I’m ready to keep going.  The crazy can kiss my ass, I want to go on.  I did a short story, I’m working on my next novel, and I’m thinking about what I want to publish next.

I’m moving forward, and it’s a good feeling.

Or as Liz Parker once said in her journal:

 

“We try to live responsible, logical lives. But we can’t tell our hearts how to feel. Sometimes our hearts lead us to places we never thought we wanted to go. And sometimes our hearts can be the sweetest, gentlest things we have.

“Sometimes our hearts can make us feel miserable, angry, excited and confused. All at once. But at least my heart is open. And I’m writing again.

“I’m feeling.

“I’m breathing.”