Rambling: I’ve got 2 laptops and finally figured out what to do with them.

So I have these two laptops. One of them has no usable internal storage (something I am working on dealing with) and the other is an old beast with missing keys and parts falling off. But plenty of internal storage. Both run Windows 10, but 2 different accounts (and  don’t want to deal with resetting my much hated Acer Cloudbook AGAIN and deal with uninstalling the 10 gigs of bloatware AGAIN and have to deal with Powershell code fuckery AGAIN) so I can’t exactly sync them up. But I really didn’t want to do that anyway.

So, I have these two laptops. The beast machine is my main rig. I do nearly everything on it. Except watch youtube or streaming. It’s so old now that it can hardly keep up with that and it has to buffer a long while before I can watch anything. I do all of my photo editing/artistic stuff on it, and nearly all of my writing. Again, it has much more storage wise than the Cloudbook. I also listen to my music on it. But pretty much my projects are all done on that machine. The Cloudbook is my “travel laptop”. Having a much longer battery life, and weighing roughly 1-2 pounds max, it’s ideal for when I need to go to the laundromat and need something to do. I can do some of my writing on it, via GoogleDrive and Evernote. But I can’t really do anything else but watch Youtube and stream movies.

Well, I finally figured out a good use! I’ve been trying to sort out how to efficiently do my tarot reading online. It requires I have a camera of some sort. Well, being strapped for funds as I always am (we pay bills and provide for our son just fine – comfortable even – but stretching beyond that is dicey as we have a crappy car and other things that we need to be careful of and keep extra money in reserve in case of emergencies. That kind of thing) so I can’t exactly just go buy one. My mom has one she got a few years back, but half the time we can’t find it and the other half the time it’s frustrating as hell having to go through and delete all my pictures after I transfer them to my laptops. And no, I don’t own a smartphone that actually works anymore. The one I do have can only be used while plugged in, and even then I can’t move it because it’ll shut off if the cord is moved too much. So, what do I do?

I recently discovered that my current phone, an LG prepaid flip phone has Bluetooth on it. Windows 10 also has Bluetooth compatibility… provided the device it is on also has compatibility. The beast of a laptop does not have Bluetooth… but the Cloudbook does. Essentially I’m going to be using the Cloudbook for basic blogging (like this), and business related things because I can use my flip phone to take the pics I need, transfer them to the Cloudbook via Bluetooth so that I can put them into the e-mails and such that I need to do to fill in my orders when I get them, or when I do my freebie events on Tumblr.

My clunker beast will be used solely for my projects and hobbies. This will help me manage my time better as well, and will help me dicipline myself to sticking to specific tasks I’ve set out for the day. Such as “Today, I’m only going to work on my novel.” So then I’ll be using the beast all day. Or “Today’s a casual work day!” so I’ll pull out the Cloudbook for streaming while I update my blogs, process payments, do ebay, etc.

At least, that’s the goal at any rate.

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Finding My Goddess; or “The path to Hecate was littered with shitty fanfiction. And I wrote most of it.”

I was sitting on my toilet earlier and thinking, as one does when waiting for their loving spouse to locate a roll of toilet paper for those emergency “Why the hell didn’t you replace the roll after using the last of it you dipshit!” situations, when a thought occurred to me that I forgot about until a few minutes ago while browsing Twitter (no, not while on the toilet).

The gods (or God, whatever your belief) come into our lives at such strange times and we often aren’t even aware of it until years later. I’ve said before in passing that Hecate is considered my household’s patron goddess, and has been for my mother and I since before I married. Since before we came back to Georgia in 2010. I’ve also told my long, winding spiritual journey and yadda yadda yadda. That’s the “official” version, at least that’s what I call it. It’s got the main plot points, the important details, but lacks the down to earth, slice of life details and stories between the major plot points. This is one of those little, silly detail stories.

My mother’s a Christian again, but not the sort to completely ignore or rally against what she believed before. It was a natural progression for her, and it makes her happy. And I’m happy that she’s happy, too. But that’s just here for context. Before she returned to Christianity, she worshiped Hecate. And through the part of her life that she did, Hecate was what she needed most. And I am happy that the goddess welcomed her and helped her through a very troubled and dark time of her life in ways that I could not be there for her.

And while I do not consider myself a devotee and have her as my main deity – she is among my personal pantheon and does fill the role of primary goddess in it, with Death itself as the god role (which for my personal spiritual practice takes a more prevalent position in my worship. More on THAT in another post on another day). So, in my practice and worship, she’s around and pops up when she feels she needs to.

But it occurred to me earlier, and again right before making this post, that I was drawn to Her long before I knew anything about paganism beyond basic Greek and Roman mythology we learn in grade school.  Bizarrely, this particular stroll down memory lane takes a sudden and sharp turn into the world of Fanfiction. I’ve mentioned before that I write the stuff (but I do not post it to this blog). But first, a bit of context as to how this links up with the rest.

I love books and I love learning (despite what all of my teachers in the past were led to believe). I would think of a subject, and look it up in the dictionary, then thesaurus, and eventually the encyclopedia. When I had a chance to go to the library, I’d take a notebook and just do as much research from as many different sources as I could. I didn’t have to, no one made me, but I just did it. I would devote entire summers to learning about a subject as much as I possibly could. This continued from second grade all the way up until part way through college and I had a job that took most of my time away from my academic leanings.

In 1997, my family got our first computer through the Finger-Hut catalogue. Technically it was my mom’s, but we kids were allowed to use it for school and a little bit for the internet (mostly, again, for school). A family friend set it up for us, and he gave us some nifty programs for it, too. One of them was an encyclopedia program. Needless to say I was the most excited of all of us over that one. Mind you, Wikipedia would not be launched until 2001. So this program that I got for free was one of the best things that could have ever happened to me. The summer of ’98 I used that encyclopedia program to do a lot of reading. Every subject I could think of until finally, I settled on Greek and Roman mythology. At the time I already had a basic grasp on it, a little more than my peers, but only because my favorite anime or all time had been (and still is) Sailor Moon, who’s characters’ super heroine forms are named after the planets and have attacks based partly on the elements and partly on the particular gods/goddesses associated with their planet (except Saturn and Pluto. That one gets a little weird and mixed up – but the rest are pretty close to the mythical origins to an extent). It was also around this time I discovered… Fanfiction. See, I told you it would all connect together.

One of the main plot points of Sailor Moon is the love story between Princess Serenity of the Moon Kingdom and Prince Endymion of planet Earth. I had never heard the name Endymion before, so I was curious to see if like many other aspects of the show, it was based on mythology. Imagine my middle school aged surprise to learn there was more than on goddess of and/or associated with the moon. I read up about the Selene and Endymion myth, which led me to an entry about moon goddesses in general. This entry, of course, led me to Artemis and Diana (funny enough, the names of 2 of the 3 talking cats on the show). However… in a footnote among other articles and names of gods and goddesses in the “See Also:” section was Hecate. I’d already decided to go through every entry even remotely linked to Greek and Roman mythology that I could uncover, but that entry in particular caught my interest.

And later that summer, when I decided to try my hand at Fanfiction, it was with my fanmade character Sailor Dark Moon, Princess Hecate. A dark and edgy version of Sailor Moon who came from the dark side of the moon. Yes, very original, I know. Go ahead and get your giggles out now.

Take a breath. How about some water? Need a bit of air?

You good now? No?

I’ll give you another minute to compose yourself.

Okay. Let’s continue. Yes, that was a very awkward period of my life and I am insanely grateful that I never committed any of THAT fanfiction to digital format. The handwritten stories that were circulated among my friends now no longer exist, thank the gods. I burned every single last copy. The take-away from that experience though is that I devoured the information more than I had any other of the gods and goddesses in the encyclopedia at the time. And over the years, when I happened to come across information regarding Hecate, I’d read through it. I didn’t seek it out though. Just one of those “Hey, random article about this subject cites this other article about Hecate. Neat. Wonder if there’s anything in the Hecate article I don’t already know.” And so I’d click it to read it. But I never went out of my way to look for information after that summer.

Well, after that summer, I really didn’t want to go to church anymore. I wanted to branch out and explore other beliefs. But at the time, my hands were tied and I kinda had to go to church if I wanted anywhere to go out and do. It was the only way we could afford things like bowling or skating at the skating rink, etc, as part of church trips. A few years later, around early 2000, I didn’t have to go to church anymore, and this afforded me the freedom to explore other beliefs. So I read a lot. Went to the library, and checked out any book I could about all kinds of beliefs. At the time my library wasn’t even close to being as big as it is now, but it was better than nothing. It was nice. Of course, I looked up old Hecate when I explored Greek/Roman polytheism and at the time it really didn’t connect with me all that much. Still, it was an interesting read to me at the time.

A few years later in early 2003 (my 16th birthday no less) my family moved to Florida. Much of the first few weeks I try to block out of my mind. However, where we lived – we were very close to a little store within walking distance of my house called The Purple Door. And it was run by a nice Wiccan named Gretchen. It had all manner of pagan stuff, and it was here that my mom found her path, or rather, the path that was needed most at the time. We stopped in just because “Hey, there’s this place that literally has a purple door.  They’ve got neat stuff in the window. Let’s stop in and see what they do there since we have time to kill today.” and it seemed like a good idea at the time. And it really was. My mom went back, bought a couple of books. Talked with Gretchen a bit. Of all my mom’s kids I was really the only one who had an interest in her newfound spirituality because I was the only one who’d really tried to branch out and find something new for myself. And I felt she needed at least someone in the family who was supportive of her in this regard that she could talk to with no judgements. She experimented with different gods and goddesses, until at last she had settled on with Hecate. Boy was she surprised when she told me about Hecate and I went and told her even more (at least in the academic sense).

At the time I remember thinking it was pretty funny because of my silly little Sailor Moon fanfictions that were inspired by Hecate. And while she wasn’t exactly one of my personal pantheon at the time, she was still an influential deity of my spiritual life at the time because she was the one to which my mom turned in her faith and belief (alongside Hestia and other home-maker type goddesses to a lesser degree).

Ten years later, after meeting my husband and right around when we started dating (right before we “officially” started dating. He actually courted me. It was cute. This next bit is during that “courting” period which lasted about 2 weeks) I’m over at his and his mother’s house for dinner. Somehow we got on the topic of spirituality and witchcraft and Wicca in general (I must note, by this time I firmly identified as not Wiccan) and something I said must have impressed his mother quite a bit because she actually started going pretty in-depth into the topic with me, and later said it was a better conversation on the subject than she’s ever had with any of my then-almost-boyfriend’s past girlfriends. And of course, given the subject matter, Hecate’s name came up. She might have been impressed with the fact I didn’t do full on woo-woo new age sparkly glitter about the sparkly glitter version of Hecate that most of the fluffy woo-woo types go on about, and more on the realistic expectation of personal belief plus the academic perspective. At least, I like to think that’s what it might have been. I know she was surprised that I knew some stuff that typically doesn’t come up on a surface level Google search. Whatever it was, she was satisfied that I gave the goddess her proper respect and reverence, so I guess that’s a tick in a win column somewhere.

But thinking back on all of that, earlier today, it makes me want to giggle. Because again, you never know when the deities you may or may not believe in will step in, make themselves known, and then just kinda poke their head in from time to time whether or not you actually believe in them. Needless to say, by 2013 Hecate had become part of my personal pantheon as the main goddess among them, where she continues to be to this day.

But it’s just a little funny that for me, the road to Hecate started not with a dire need for something to believe in. Nor was it a deep spiritual devotion and hours upon hours of meditation. It started with a 1997 no-name computer from a mail order catalogue, with 1997 encyclopedia software, and an obsession with the anime Sailor Moon.

YouTube Drama > Reality TV

I’ve been following YouTube drama for about a year now. Mainly one specific corner of YouTube that I previously didn’t care too much for. I’d mention specific YouTubers, but the two in particular that I enjoy watching their lives spiral out of control to make myself feel better are also the type that will Google themselves obsessively and then send their personal army of teens ages 10-16 out to swamp and overwhelm and attack anyone who speaks of them negatively on the internet. I’ve seen this happen a LOT over the last year and I’d rather not deal with it. So we’ll just call them Anna and Rick. I would use their real names, or their YouTube handles, or any other name they use that may be more obscure – but as stated, they are obsessive about Googling themselves. Which we’ll get to in a bit how that plays into all that drama.

Now then, let’s start with Rick. Mainly because I found out about Anna due to watching the downward spiral that is Rick.

Rick has been doing YouTube for nearly as long as YouTube has existed. He’s made a LOT of money through ad revenue. He became super popular for the “lol so random” style of comedy that’s usually a favorite of pre-teens and young teens. There were a few videos that became so popular they were viral for a while. Well, over time he built up a MASSIVE following of over 2 million subscribers. Unfortunately a lot of his “comedy” started to dwindle when drama in his real life started (a divorce and numerous scandals) and rather than keep his private life private, he started airing his dirty laundry through his YouTube channel. This made him really popular with the pre-teen and young teenagers because “omg he so gets us!” and capitalized on the whole “emo” trend. More and more his multiple channels became more about his life and the drama in it, and how everyone hates him for being honest and truthful and they’re just jealous of his success – and less about actual comedy.

Near the end of last year another YouTube drama whore came to my attention. Anna. Anna is known, apparently, for rooting out bullshit. And for making 20+ videos on any given topic wherein she him-haws around about stuff but only gives a small nugget of information that may or not be accurate. She latches onto other YouTube dramas and drama whores and sucks from the tit of clickbait until it runs dry and she needs to find another target for her attention. She deliberately stirs up drama where there is none, and pretty much is a garbage human being who claims to have illnesses that if she truly did have them, on the best pain management days she certainly wouldn’t be able to push out 10+ videos a day, plus a minimum of 1-3 live streams a day, plus in every single video and stream be flapping her arms about like a complete and utter fool. If the conditions she claims to have all at once are legitimate, there’s no way she would be able to function half of what is shown on camera as the majority of the illnesses she claims to have seriously affect mobility – and the combination she claims to have not only restricts movement but also would have her bedridden on the best of days. Now I know treatment affects people in different ways and I’m no expert on the subject but given the claims, some of which are conditions I also deal with, they simply cannot be managed using severely diluted homeopathic medicine only. That’s like taking nothing but placebos. Sure, mentally you believe it works and the whole mind over matter thing, but that’s not going to fix the degenerative diseases you claim to have. Your bones are still going to disintegrate, and your joints are still going ot get massively inflamed, and your migraines that are getting worse and worse (so you claim) are obviously not going away or easing up but in fact are becoming a bigger problem the longer they go untreated. Anyway, I digress.

Anna came to my attention because Anna made 50-ish videos about Rick late last year when yet another scandal had come up surrounding Rick. This time rather than about his love life, it was about one of his websites and encouraging underage girls to post intimate photos of themselves so he could judge their bodies on YouTube. (Intimate meaning bra and panties, or less.) The youngest that anyone had found out about as 12 years old. He claimed he only picked the people that were 18 or older for his multiple body shaming videos (though he calls them “empowering”), but that was proven wrong when someone noticed he used a photo of a 16 year old. That caused people to dig into his website, believing there may be more underage girls so that he could be reported to the police. Before anyone could report him the website was taken down for a few days and purged of incriminating evidence before being put back online.

Anna caught wind of this, and her entire brand is based on, like I said, sucking the tit of clickbait and YouTube drama whores. The two ended up in a spat over who was the more desperate drama whore. Rick sent out a faked Cease and Desist letter that Anna believed was legit for a time, and she did back off making videos of Rick for a while. Recently she’s made 3 or 4 about him but has mainly focused on a child abuse scandal she “helped” uncover (she didn’t do shit but cause more drama so she could get views and collect that sweet ad revenue), and dealing with some fallout of drama about her “illnesses” among other personal drama people have finally brought down upon her.

She’s made more videos than usual per week now however because of the Adpocalypse tat started earlier this year. For simplicity sake the adpocalypse was the event wherein advertisers started pulling their ads and funding because they didn’t want their brands associated with certain types of videos plus YouTube changed their system around a few times which caused creators to have videos quietly demonetized or their entire channels placed into age restriction mode which cut their viewership drastically. As a result people like Anna and Rick had their videos demonetized and, in Rick’s case, their channel(s) placed into restricted mode.

Now, why does this matter? Because YouTube drama whores thrive off ad revenue. The more subscribers and views they have, the bigger their egos get. The bigger the egos, the more the drama they post online or scandals they get involved in. When those numbers begin to drop, they make multiple videos filled with guilt tripping their viewership. In some more extreme cases, like in Rick’s, they threaten to kill themselves if their viewers don’t donate to their Patreon page.

Watching YouTube drama is better than watching reality TV. Reality TV is 100% scripted, and while much YouTube drama is also scripted in some way, it has a very different feel to it. You know ahead of time that these people are only in it for the money (that is, if they can even have ads on their videos at that point) and for the fame. You know that the person you see on screen isn’t usually how they really are in real life – because in real life they are much much worse than what you see.

Now, I’m not saying that everyone who Vlogs on YouTube is a drama whore. Because there’s honestly some great content creators who, all they do is talk about their lives and their dreams and things like that. There’s a few I’ve followed for years who are actually just as they are on screen only in real life, they might swear a bit more because they don’t have to watch their language for the kiddies that might be watching. But then there’s the darker corner of YouTube, where the drama whores congregate and snap at one another. It’s like watching a tank of piranhas and putting a single small piece of meat in the water just to watch them fight over it.

There is a darker side to all of this unfortunately. As I mentioned before the two that I specifically watch, Anna and Rick, have a large following of pre-teens and young teenagers. This is an age of experimentation. Of trying to figure out not only puberty but also yourself. What kind of things you like, the kind of person you want to be, and a lot of a person’s personality is shaped by the things they hear, see, and do at this age. An age where if your idol will just give you five minutes, or glance in your direction, you’ll do anything to keep their attention. Some girls will post nearly nude photos of themselves to a forum just to get a single word back from their idol. Others will blindly do anything they’re told because it proves that they’re “a real fan”. Five years ago, I would have been pissed if my favorite YouTubers were put into restricted mode. As a teenager I’d have been even more pissed and lied about my age just to watch their videos (which let’s be honest – anyone who grew up with the internet has done this – and those too old to have done this grew up in the age of fake IDs so it’s not exactly a new concept here). Now, however, I have the perspective of being a parent. And this perspective changes a LOT of things. For instance if my son were aged 10-16, I would not allow him to watch Rick’s videos. Ever. Not until he’s old enough where I can’t do anything about it and he’s old enough to understand that Rick isn’t exactly “normal”. And if he DID happen to watch Rick’s videos, or videos like Rick’s, then I’d sit him down and have a very long talk about personal responsibility and the reality of whatever the video(s) was/were about rather than what he saw portrayed. I know, as a parent, I can’t keep my child from 100% of everything that will be bad for him, but I can teach him to know the difference between right and wrong, and how to spot harmful content and people to avoid. Because I don’t want to open a bank statement or a credit card bill to discover that my kid’s donating a lot of money a month behind my back to someone who keeps threatening suicide if their “real fans” don’t give them money.

And that’s a very big problem as well here. Something that not only irritates me but frightens me about certain types of YouTubers with large followings of young teens and kids. They could be really chill and awesome role models like Markiplier (who legitimately does care about his fans), or they could be utter garbage fire of human beings like Anna and Rick (who routinely use their fans as a personal army to attack detractors and to fund themselves through avenues like Patreon by honestly making their young fans believe if they don’t get at least $1 from you then you’re not a real fan and they’re going to off themselves). I mean hell, usually I don’t shy away from naming and shaming, but here I am using made up names for these people because I don’t want to contribute to the cycle of abuse they use on their young fans by becoming another target for them to be aimed at.

That’s just fucking sad.

On the plus side, I get to watch – for free because I use multiple adblock extensions – YouTube drama whores cannibalize themselves without having to pay for cable or anything, and legitimately know that what I’m watching may be scripted but it’s much closer to reality than any reality TV show could possibly get.

Rambling: Cigarette Ash and Clock Radios

There are times I yearn for my teenage and early adult years. No, not the depression and anxiety. The stress of high school/college. The near death experiences and occasional hospitalizations. More I yearn for that period of creativity that I had.

I yearn for the late nights spent up well past my bedtime, during punishments of not being allowed internet because of bad grades, typing away at my old 1997 off-brand computer from FingerHut. The once pristine white casing stained yellow from years of cigarette smoke and tar that no amount of cleaner or bleach could clean or scrub away.

The bright light of the old hulking monitor as my clock radio played beside me. My window cracked as I smoked the cigarette butts that I had foraged from my parents’ ash trays when I thought they weren’t looking (but they knew). The heavy smell of cigarette smoke and eucalyptus incense that I burned in my room nearly day and night.

The first light of dawn as I realized what time it was and had to rush to get dressed for school – racing to the bus stop on less than an hour’s sleep because I was up all night writing.

The seeming unending inspiration as I jamed out to my stolen Linkin Park cds (stolen from my sister, not the store.).  The 1 foot tall stack of disks that held all my stories, my books, my poetry, my notes and research for my stories.

To this day, I can’t make a single playlist to listen to for my writing that does not include every single song from Linkin Park’s Hybrid Theory and Meteora albums – because their music just always hits the right buttons for my creative streak. They are both my muse and my soundtrack for life itself.

I mean, I’m happy with my life as it is, and where I am in it. The people I still have in my life and the people that have come into it.But there are some days, some nights like tonight that I can’t help but long for those old days when it was just a blank Notepad file, the blinking red of a clock radio with the time still not re-set after a power flicker, and my own thoughts in the dark before the bright, brilliant screen of a 10lb late 90s computer monitor.

Ramble: Eliciting Emotion Without Details

Recently I posted 3 new chapters to a fanfiction I’ve been writing for a rather long time now (no, I’m not going to link it. It’s embarrassing. If you happen to find it though… well… anyway). These chapters dealt with some very harsh, dark themes such as rape, torture, mental fuckery – among others. One of my favorite readers, who leaves reviews nearly every update, mentioned this in one of her latest comments:

“You weren’t kidding about there being hard things in this chapter, but you did a good job of having us feel the horror without needing to go into gruesome detail.”

And it got me thinking about all of the stories I’ve read over the years that I can remember. Both in regular and in fanfiction And I’ve come to realize that many of the stories I have enjoyed the most leave a great many details up to the reader’s imagination. While yes the basic description of characters and scenes are given, or building up to an event and using language to direct the reader to experience a certain emotion, stories that suddenly jumpcut immediately after making it clear what is about to happen, but not having you read the gruesome detail (especially in horror and suspense situations) – those to me are the best. Not only does it allow every reader to have their own personal experience with the work, but there is nothing more frightening than the worst possible things we can imagine. Perhaps the scene was leading us to believe that a favorite character was about to be tortured to death, but then didn’t let us see/read the torture taking place. When we read the segment that the character appears in afterwards, perhaps having escaped their jailers, how they are described and appear will guide us to imagine the things that may have happened to them. Perhaps the reader is more afraid of water torture – they may imagine that’s taken place to the hero. Or maybe starvation and beating? They’ll imagine that THAT is what may have happened to them.

But later still in the story, the hero may confide in their best friend or lover what truly took place in the jail/dungeon/cavern, etc. And how relieved the reader is that what they feared most wasn’t the thing that has happened… Or, for those who imagined correctly, the overwhelming empathy the reader feels for the hero. This method, which I honestly unintentionally used in my piddling little fanfiction, makes the reader more emotionally invested in the story, and in a way makes them feel like they are part of it. And when a reader becomes so invested in the story, they will keep reading.

That’s my take on it, for what it’s worth anyway.

Ramble: Small Town Blues

I have a love-hate relationship with small towns. When I lived in Debary, then later Deltona, FL I loved it. They were small in their own right, but smushed together so closely it felt like a larger city. It was perfect, really. And had easy access to anything I needed via public transit. The town I currently live in, the town where I grew up… I love it because it’s so peaceful (usually) and reasonably quiet. It’s a kind of place where everyone either knows everyone, or you know of them enough to wave and say hi, have a great day.

But at the same time, it is this “everyone knows everyone” aspect that I hate. It’s the inconvenience when there is no public transit that I hate. It’s the inconvenience of everything being so spread out that I hate. Being such a small town that if I want to catch a special showing, one night only event at a movie theatre, I have to drive out to Rome or Atlanta to do so (Rome is about 45mins to an hour away; Atlanta is abut 2-3 hours depending on traffic).

But most of all, it’s the higher likelihood of bumping into people you’re not exactly fond of (to put it lightly) when you step out the front door. This has happened to me exactly 3 times in the month.

First, my husband and I bumped into a guy we both met around the same time in 2013. We’ll call him, uh, “Rob”. When we each met Rob, he was in a long term relationship. But he and his girlfriend wanted more. They wanted to be in an open relationship. And hey, that’s fine. I got no right to judge. Well, turns out that Rob wanted me to be his fool around buddy. Just like his girlfriend, we’ll call her “Margo” had already hooked up with the man that later I would end up with. (It must be noted at the time that my husband and I were not dating yet. We were both single. It must also be noted that meeting him and these 2 people, and when we DID start dating happened in the span of 2 weeks.) Between meeting my husband, and meeting these two people, whom he met at the same time, and when my husband and I started dating, the following happened: Rob and Margo fought daily, resulting in a domestic violence situation. Margo pulled a knife on Rob. Rob pulled a knife on Margo. Margo lost her shit and pulled a knife on the landlord. Rob repeatedly tried to get into my now mother-in-law’s pants (despite her frequent protestations of being a lesbian), continuously tried to flirt with me and having the goal of sleeping with me, and Margo doing the pants off tango with my future husband (again, during this 2 week period, my husband and I were NOT dating one another, and I didn’t really care what all he did because he was just a friend). This resulted in false claims of abuse, rape, and a fake pregnancy. This all came out at the end of 2 weeks when Margo’s aunt tried to step in and defend her niece, only to discover it was 100% made up and she slept with someone else of her own free will, was not pregnant, and was the primary abuser in her own domestic situation. And that ALL of the drama stemmed from the fact that she got booty outside of their “open” relationship while Rob was continuously turned down and rejected… because it was Rob’s idea in the first place.

Needless to say, it was rather awkward seeing Rob again after nearly 4 years – jobless, homeless, and with another woman. We gave him $2. I told him about different places in town that were hiring, and then husband and I quickly went on our way to Gamestop, then dinner. This encounter reminded me to appreciate my relationship with my husband, and our narrow escape from the drama llamas that were Margo and Rob.

Next up, we’ll call her “Penny”. Penny was my brother’s fiance up until his death in January 2014. Generally a decent person, we lived with her after my son was born, up until August of 2014. While she herself is generally decent, one of her kids caused multiple problems while we were living there, resulting in potential legal issues simply because we happened to live with her. Penny’s daughter, however, was taken into the foster care system for reasons I’ll not divulge. Penny is a decent parent, but her daughter is an out of control fucking monster. Penny knows this. However, Penny also lied to us about the situation and tried to use us as a shield so that her daughter could not move back in. She also lied to us about how her court proceedings would affect us – this resulted in us having to move out in 2 weeks or less with no notice. She was upset that we didn’t pay the next month’s rent… rent and all utility bills for a place we would no longer be living in. What we DID do was give her our share of the utilities up to the point we moved out, even though we were under no obligation to do so. And rather than hand the money over to her like she had wanted, we went directly to the offices and paid only our share, leaving the rest for her to deal with. She had also lied and said the landlord had not wanted to add our names to the lease. After we moved out and were settled in, I contacted the landlord. He was surprised to learn we had moved out, as he had been expecting Penny to be moving out and us to take over with a new lease. He had also been willing to lower the rent because my husband was on disability.

Well… I bumped into Penny oh, about a week ago at the laundromat. First time I’ve seen her, really, since we moved out. Life has not been kind to her. That daughter I mentioned? Made Penny a grandmother, and Penny is raising the baby. She’d bought a trailer, and had to give it up again. Her mother, last I knew, lived on her own in low income housing. A nice little place, too. Now she lives with Penny and her roommate. In the time since we moved out, with the exception of my Asshole Neighbor Eddie and my older sister whom I’ve written about before, we’ve actually been doing much better physically, emotionally, and financially. Our lives have been more stable, and less drama filled (again, with the exception of the 2 things mentioned above). Bumping into her made me remember to appreciate what I have gained and what I have.

And lastly… that dastardly sister who lived with me for a good chunk of 2015 (as read about in my Word to the Wise series of posts…) For those who don’t want to read that clusterfuck, here’s the long and short f it. I let my sister move in, in good faith that she would maintain the progress that she had made, and look for a job. Four months or thereabouts fly by, I’ve had enough, tell her to get a job. All hell breaks loose and we end up falsely imprisoned in our own home, scared out f our minds, and she threatens to have my child taken away for the sole fact that she had her kids taken from her and I made her upset by telling her to get a job or get out. We finally managed to kick her out. But the lasting damage to my marriage, and to my mother’s mental state, is still evident. Last we knew, she had gone to Savannah. We haven’t seen her since my mom stopped by her motel a few days after we kicked her out, to let her know my dad was dead.

Well… I saw her Saturday. Same laundromat as Penny. Thankfully, unlike with Penny, I was already done and loading up my car when she showed up. I noticed her getting out of a car that happened to have parked right in front of me. I was halfway through loading up my car when she came back out of the laundromat and called me out by name to say hi. Needless to say, given her history with me, I wanted out of there ASAP. I did try to be kind-of polite because hey, we were in a public place. But still… it had me rather shaken up. If I was a drinker, Saturday is the day I would have switched from beer to whisky, that’s for certain.

So what did I learn from THAT encounter? Well… it might be time to look for another laundromat. Unfortunately, that one is the only one with free wifi.

Ah, higher frequency of awkward and unwanted reunions. Such is the price we pay for quieter, more relaxed and peaceful living.

Ramble: On Inspiration, Creativity, and the Lack Thereof

He stood in front of the Untempered Schism. It’s a gap in the fabric of reality through which could be seen the whole of the vortex. We stand there, eight years old, staring at the raw power of time and space, just a child. Some would be inspired. Some would run away. And some would go mad. – The Doctor (David Tennant); “Doctor Who: The Sound of Drums”, 2007

Since 2005, I have had a very deep fondness for Doctor Who, both the revival/current running series and the classic stories from the childhoods of those who’ve come before me. But every Whovian has that one line, that one special monologue or quote or scene that really touched them in a meaningful way. For many it’s the First Doctor’s farewell speech to his granddaughter Susan when he leaves her to find a new life and to settle down with a man she has come to love. For others, it’s the Fourth Doctor’s statements following his refusal to prevent the creation of the Daleks, questioning whether or not he made the right decision but also certain that without the Daleks many races who came together to fight them would otherwise be fighting one another. And need I even bring up the various speeches given by the Sixth Doctor during “Trial of a Time Lord“?

For me, it has been, since it’s first utterance on screens across the globe, the quote above. It really hit me right in my feels, and evoked a very powerful emotional response in me. I know everyone has their own interpretations of, well, anything and everything really. Even reality. So just because I’m about to go on a long diatribe about mine, it doesn’t mean your interpretation is any more wrong or right than my own.

That segment of dialogue inspired me in a point in my life that was still… dark. It was looking up. I’d gotten a job that year that I loved dearly. I made friends in college, I was doing well in school. But emotionally I was a train wreck. Problems at home caused me to become very withdrawn from my family and I spent more and more time losing myself in my fantasy worlds – be it through writing or artwork, movies and video games. But, as was always the case – Doctor Who was the thing that started to get through to me. At the time, I saw it as “It’s okay to be scared out of your mind. No one knows what the future holds, and even if you were staring it down it could always change tomorrow. Nothing is set in stone. You can let yourself go crazy worrying about it, be inspired to change it, or keep running away in fear of it.” And at the time I was so sure that is what it meant. It gave me hope and reassurance in a really crazy time in my life.

Years later, as I’m periodically putting the series on for background noise as I clean, write, knit, cook, ecetera, I hear it and feel… something else entirely. Now I read those words and I am reminded of all the wonder of childhood. The wild imaginations and dreams and hopes and… and then… the drudgery of life and growing up. And losing that sense of childish wonder we come into the world with. Eight years old is around the time kids in school start getting reigned in. And over the following decade of their lives the creativity, the wonder, the imagination, the excitement is stripped away in order to “make them productive members of society”. To “prepare them for the real world”. No, it doesn’t make them productive. It doesn’t prepare them for the real world. It makes people apathetic. It makes them ignorant of their own potentials. Keeps them from aspiring to be more, to be better people, or to better the world around them. It makes them accept the mediocre and makes them wholly reliant on others to tell them what to think and how to feel. It teaches them that individuality is inherently wrong and that in order to succeed they must conform 100% to someone else’s ideals and morality rather than their own. It creates drones who’s sole purpose is to do as they are told, when they are told, how they are told, and that it is pointless to ever want to work towards something more, especially for the self. And many who manage to get through it all, and manage to build themselves up, twist the system to their own benefit, and shape others to their own brand of ideals and morality. It does not matter if you are left or right. Liberal or conservative. Blue. Red. Hell purple with pink polka dots and from Pluto. The fight to get to the top of the food chain twists us all in some way, and rather than seek out the better and the new for others as well, we turn it back to that which created and shaped us, feeding it to others. Stripping THEM of their uniqueness and shaping them to meet OUR standard. And so the cycle continues.

I could go further into a long political diatribe at this point, but I’ll save that for another time. Besides, I’m pretty sure ALL OF US are tired of EVERYTHING being made into a political statement at this point…

We NEED creative people. We NEED imagination. Creativity and imagination lead to hoped and dreams, which drive people to be inspired. I know it’s old hat at this point to use the “I bet everyone thought the first person to build a fire was crazy” example but let’s just imagine a world where say… toilet paper was never invented. It’s a pretty gross world and I’d bet you wouldn’t want to eat anything someone hands you, or, well anything that anyone else has even touched… guess it was a really great thing someone was inspired to take some paper and wipe their behind after going to the loo, isn’t it? Otherwise we might still be using hands, or worse – corn cobs (which apparently was a thing in rural America according to my maternal grandmother… so… that’s a thing that people actually used to do).

There’s more to it for me, but it’s getting rather late as I write this and I need to get some rest as I’m meant to be getting up at 6:30AM (it’s currently 12:30AM as I write this bit here) so I’ll save that for a part 2 or something.

But the point of this post is… we won’t be able to break the chains that restrain us, that strip us of our hopes and dreams, that hold us back from our creative natures and inspire us to do more, to be more – we won’t be able to end the cycle until we stop trying to force our ideologies on the next generation. Stop insisting that every weird, odd little quirk needs to be stopped and corrected. Stop forcing our own ideals and standards on them. Give them some structure, yes. Teach them fundamentals like right and wrong, manners, how to share and be kind to others, definitely. But also we must encourage them to learn. To explore. Imagine. Play. Build. Draw. Sing. Dance. Read. The more we feed their creativity, the more we feed their imaginations, the more they will dream. The more they will hope. The more they will be inspired to do great and wondrous things. We used to be like them – collectively as a human race we’ve done so many great things. Some of us looked at the moon and wondered “what’s it like up there?” And others stood there and looked out further still and wondered “what’s out there?” – Without the dreamers, we’ve seen a generation where the space program has been stripped to it’s bare minimum. Where people obsess over what some reality show bimbo said about some other reality show bimbo’s husband. We’ve seen an entire generation of young people enter the “real world” with nearly all of their wonder and drive stripped from them at an early age, to “prepare them” for the big bad “real world”… and I hate to say it but all that preparation has failed, leaving an entire generation where going five minutes without checking Twitter can lead to severe panic attacks or worse – destruction of property and assault.

So please, PLEASE we as just people need to change this. My generation is pretty much a lost cause if today’s social climate is anything to go by. But the next one, and the one after that? They are all waiting to be tempered. Do we continue to strip them of everything that can help bring change for themselves and for their peers? Or will we instead inspire them to do better, to be better than we ever could be?

Okay, now I’m done for tonight. Nearly half an hour after my last time stamp (it’s now 12:56AM).