March comes in more like a cranky bear.

Welcome to March, friends. It’s been a year since my Wife and I started quarantining, and I’m kind of over it. Switzerland has been slow rolling out vaccines, and while I’m happy for everyone I know gettings vaccines in the States (especially my mom and dad!), I’m a little bit jealous, too. I’d rather hear that people are getting vaccines, though. The more people who are vaccinated, the better things will get.

Folks who know me know I have depression and anxiety, and the last month has been rough for me. Between the anniversary of the pandemic, a former housemate passing away, and my own brain and body chemistry, the depression and anxiety decided that it wanted to do it’s metaphorical gut punch. What sucks about when it decides to show up is that writing takes a hit. I’ve managed by powering through a few days of writing, especially since writing makes me feel better. But right now, the biggest thing that helps is that when I write a chapter and I feel kinda meh about it, I read it to The Wife, and then she tells it’s awesome. Having someone to do that for you when you’re doing this kind of long art work is so awesome and helpful. 

I’ll get through. I know how my depression and anxiety brain works. I have medicine, and people, and writing. I tried to flip my body clock to days again, but ended up flipping back to being nocturnal. I’m kind of hoping when the days get longer I’ll flip back. But I’m still getting writing done, so I’m not knocking it. (To be honest, it’s only irritating when I have to do things like bring up packages or go to the drug store, etc.)

The other thing I’m trying to do for my mental health is really curating my social media. I keep trying to branch out a little with who I follow, but then I run into the bad side of Twitter (ie: the crap I left Facebook for). So, I stick to people I know and other authors, and that seems to be a sweet spot. Same with Tumblr, too. What really gets me, about all social media platforms is how it can show so many people who don’t give a shit about others on one hand, and show a lot of caring for others on the other hand. Interestingly enough, it seems that there’s a lot of people who show a lack of compassion regardless of their political affiliation. Or spiritual affiliation, for that matter. It’s hard to read that on a regular basis, hence the curating. Even in conversations I could take part in, there’s a whole bunch of thinking about whether it’s really worth getting into it. If you don’t hear from me for a few days on social media, it probably means I’m taking a break.

I will say, though, a lot of what I don’t say on social media is story fodder, so I suppose it all works out in the end?

On a happier note, yesterday I got a new fountain pen! It’s a Pelikan M205 Classic with a dark blue iridescent pen body. It’s my first Pelikan pen, and it’s really quite lovely! Filled it with fancy Pilot Iroshizuku Shin-Kai ink which is a lovely bright royal blue that matches the barrel! Fine tip and a piston fill. So lovely to write with!

Pilot M205 Fountain Pen
Pretty Fountain Pen!!

Zurich is experiencing typical weird March weather. I always seem to forget that I have four seasons here, and that March is always a weird weather month. Last week, we had temps around 18 C. Right now? It’s around 0 C and snowing. 

Hope you’re all staying safe and wearing masks. I wish more people would.

Released

The Four Keys – Download or get a paperback version from Amazon: US Link German Link

I write fanfiction, too (all PG/PG-13): AO3 Fanfiction

In Progress

Survey: In the far future, on a globally sponsored science station, a woman discovers the key to making a functional AGI work in the midst of political unrest. (First Draft Complete –  142K words – with first readers)

Unity: A military chaplain and her bodyguard get embroiled in a major conspiracy that threatens the humans colonies of Unity and the AIs Nation of Survey. (First Draft Complete – 128K words – with first readers)

Colony: After the events of Unity, Jenny returns to her home colony where she meets someone she didn’t expect. (Writing – 16975 words)

Consortium: After the events of Unity, Jack and Marsha get assigned by Survey to help an AI who had been exiled and has asked for help. (Writing – 112260 words)

Character Playlists

I’ve made some character playlists on Spotify to write to. Here’s the lists if you’re interested in getting a feel for the characters I’ve been writing. Some of the lists overlap with artists, but that usually means they’re going through similar stuff.

Survey:

Unity

Consortium:

Lent Poetry: Disappeared

Why must I amputate
my stomach
to fulfill
some fucked up
standards
of “health”
and “beauty”?

why is it i feel
like I am bashing my
head
against walls
when I talk about how
I think this
is just medically sanctioned
anorexia

why
must
i
be shamed
and abused
and medically neglected
“for my health”

why
must
i
always
strive
to
take
up
less
and
less

s
p
a
c
e
?

The Imposter Syndrome Voice

When I get into a depression, and as I’m coming out of it, my Imposter Syndrome Voice (ISV) decides to rear its head. My ISV can hold me back quite a bit when it decides to exert itself on my brain. Some of my friends call this Voice “brain weasels” and I think that’s a really good term for it, too. Right now, even, that voice is saying “Oh, you shouldn’t bother writing about this because everyone else has written about it and you’re just noise so maybe you should just delete this and watch more YouTube.” (Run on sentence intentional.)

This can be the voice that says I shouldn’t bother talking to anyone, either. It’s the same voice that will tell me that I’m boring, or that I don’t have anything worth saying, or, on the worst days, that people think I’m horrible and they don’t want to be around me.

I know that Depression is a liar, and so the ISV is, too, but somewhere along the line, my brain decided that it was easier to listen to the lies rather than believe reality. It’s always been hard for me to not think that an argument, disagreement, or mistake is the end of the world (or relationships, or employment, or whatever). I could have days and days of happy, good, joyful things but if I make one mistake, I’ll end up obsessing about it, thinking I’m this horrible person and everyone hates me, regardless of all the good that has happened.

Intellectually, I know that there are a lot of you out there who go through this, too. My wife and I share some similar things around this and we talk about it a lot (and I know she still likes being around me because she married me *grin*), but in the middle of a bout where the ISV is in control, it’s hard to see outside of myself.

I suppose I’m not sure how to work with this. Do I try to banish this voice, or do I embrace it and acknowledge that this is a part of me, or both? Is this voice more of a Check and Balance that keeps pushing itself too far? Or maybe I just need to disconnect it from the reactions I have to criticism and challenge?

I’m writing about this because I want to make it less of a Voice and more of a Thing I Can Control. One of the first witchy things I was taught was that if you can name a thing, it makes it a real thing that you can deal with. Whether I can do that, I’m not completely sure, but I know I need to do something because I’d like to be able to do my art without as much anxiety as I have now.

(This is more of a noodle to help me sort stuff out. I do exercise, meditate, take vitamins and other physical things of that nature to help with my anxiety and depression, so please no advice about those kinds of things, thank you.)

Holy Week: What I’ve Learned

It’s Holy Week. The last week of my working, which ends on Sunday night.

It’s interesting to look at this working from (almost) the other side. I was kind of nervous about doing it, really, since I hadn’t really done something quite like this before, but I know now that I didn’t need to be nervous about it. Going through it was definitely work and I learned a lot.

From Hecate I learned to let go of people and things that I couldn’t do much about (and about curbing the obsession I can get sometimes with wanting to know everything about people). I also was reminded that I can’t stay in death working mode all the time, and that unless I’m needed in that capacity, that I should save it for Samhain.

From the Dagda I learned why it’s important to ask for help because it’s hard and draining to do it all yourself. (I did improve my cooking skills, though.) I also learned a lot about self care from Him, too, including treating my body with care. What I remember most is that on a bad body image day, He said to me: “If I, as a god, can have a big belly, so can you!” I also realized after His part of the working that it’s best for me to get up a couple of hours early, before I start writing, to have breakfast and do my meditation, or else the brain doesn’t wake up enough.

From Jesus I’ve been learning more about what His role in my life is. He’s more about my public priesting. In other words, His is the ministry that I emulate in public: doing my best to help those who need it, praying, and doing my best to heal in the areas that I minister in. I’m also learning more about my monastic nature at the moment, figuring out how I want to do my monasticism, and how regular ritual can be comforting and grounding.

Overall, I’ve learned just how important daily practice is for me, even on the days where I don’t feel like it. Especially on those days. I have much more confidence in my spiritual work and spiritual connections. A friend of mine mentioned a few weeks ago that we didn’t really learn what it meant to be a contemplative in seminary. I agree. I really wish we had learned more about being contemplative and religious life. It definitely provides a wrapper for my days that helps me be more on focus (especially with my writing) and on task. The other really good side benefit is that my mental health is vastly improved. My anxiety is way way down, and I haven’t had any lengthy depression (some small bouts, but those were more hours than days). Also, minimal interaction on Facebook has also been a big plus for me. (YMMV, but for me, this has been really good.)

I’m going to keep doing the morning and evening meditations, although, I’m not sure exactly how the evening meditation is going to manifest. I’m liking the Compline prayers, since reading from a paper and following instructions is easier at the end of the day when you’re tired. There are a few things I want to add to my altar, too, to tie things all together.

But, I’m at the end, and it’s been quite the experience.

When Things Fall Down

To be honest, I’ve been trying to write this post for about a week now. I was planning to do this whole exegesis about Job 2:11-13 where Job’s friends come to see him. They basically see what a state Job is in and all they can really do is just sit there and be with him. Then I was going to try and write about the sephirot of Binah. Binah is, and I’m using the occult version of Kabbalah here (not strictly Jewish), simplistically, “understanding,” but in my experience this sephirot is where all sorrows, beginnings, and endings are. It’s usually equated to the divine feminine or Goddess energy and in my experience, when I’ve gone there it definitely feels womb-like.

I’m writing this now, and I’m realizing that both of these are applicable to the last three weeks. A good friend was in the hospital, and, especially at first, I felt like Job’s friends. All we could really do was sit and wait with her wife and do the little things to help. It never really feels like enough, but, at least intellectually, there’s not much else one can do. (Thankfully she’s home now!) A couple other situations had me feeling like Job, where I was doubting myself and wondering if I had done something to warrant punishment from the Spirits. Then, at the beginning of this week, I was feeling as if I was in Binah, most firmly and completely so.

But my mistake was trying to figure it all out on my own by keeping it to myself. Or, to put it another way, I’m extremely bad at taking my own advice. Coming out of that state this week got me thinking about the fact that we are programmed this way, especially here in the US. We’re taught that we’re supposed to do everything ourselves. Our independence, and ability “to do it all,” is lauded as some grand virtue, and yet we suffer needlessly for it. Sometimes I think maybe what we’re seeing on the internet is a result of this and not the technology itself. We’re so indoctrinated to have absolute opinions that we’ve figured out by ourselves that when we’re confronted with the global community of the internet, we just don’t know how to handle it. We start to see that we’re not the only people who have feelings, heartache, and bad things happening. We’re not the islands of specialness we thought we were. The indoctrination we’ve received then translates this as us having no value or that we’re no longer interesting.

The hardest part of this, though, is that what we’ve been taught is a lie. Asking for help, or emotional support, or taking refuge in community isn’t a failure of independence nor does it mean that we don’t have a uniqueness that is valuable to said community. The only thing that it means is that we’re human. This is the hardest idea to accept because of our drive to do everything ourselves or to be the one who is “right” all the time. Mistakes, disappointments, and failure is going to happen regardless because we can’t avoid it.

Thinking about this in terms of social justice, we all fail miserably. We want inclusion, justice, and change, but we demand perfection instead of compromise. We demand immediate change from people instead of working with our mutual humanity. We see people as failures if they don’t see things exactly our way. I know I’ve failed spectacularly in this myself and I’ve let these failures take on a proportion that was far larger than what I actually did. I know I’ve expected people to behave in the way I wanted them to instead of how they are. While sometimes it’s necessary to challenge people about their actions, expecting people to “get it” or change overnight is futile because they, too, are human beings. Sometimes the “truth” isn’t the most compassionate way to handle a situation. Sometimes we have to walk away from people, and sometimes we have to rethink our ideas of how the world works. Our human-ness is a shifting and moving thing and we’re always having to learn, or re-learn, what being human means.

OK, I’m getting pretty deep here. Most of this is navel gazing, really, and I’ll have something more interesting next week. I did need to get it out of my system, though. Thanks, and if you have thoughts about this feel free to comment.