Changes and Collaborations

So last week was my Orientation Day for LDEEP: the government assistance program that will help me find some work appropriate to my skills. Starting tomorrow and for the foreseeable future, I’m going to be attending workshops from nine in the morning until the late afternoon.

Am I nervous? Yes. It’s been a while since I have had my time structured in this manner. To be honest, I would have preferred to keep more flexible hours. I am definitely not a morning person and, while it’s occasionally a lark to be up in the morning, I am much more of a night-owl. I do a lot of my thinking and writing at night.

I am used to keeping my own hours and, hopefully, I will be able to do so again with perhaps the added benefit of having excuses to go outside, socialize, and get a job that is appropriate for me. This is definitely going to take some getting used to with regards to my routine and I hope I will be able to ask the right questions and take note of advantages when I can.

Things are changing. But they are not all stressful: or at least not stressful in a bad way. I am getting another story published soon — which I will keep you posted on as I get more details — and I am actually working on another creative collaboration. This time I am working with some friends of mine on a video game. Again, I can’t go into too many details as we are still conceptualizing a lot of the world and its minutiae, but I am really excited about it.

Perhaps more than the potential of getting some pay of my part in the collaboration, I get to work with some people whom I’ve known since high school. I will be honest with you: I’ve looked forward to working with these friends of mine for years on a project that could go public or, indeed, any game project at all. We are all talented in our own ways and I know I will do my best to flesh out what we have.

When I am working with them, working on material for the game, I actually feel enthusiasm and a sense of purpose that I don’t get often. For a while now I’ve been working on critical articles or within the sandboxes of other established worlds. This time I am helping to make a world and its background. It’s that feeling of this is what we should be doing. This is what I should be doing. It is my hope that we will continue working on this project and that we will have something awesome to show the world: or at the very least to ourselves and our other friends.

And there are other things I am planning to do besides.

That is pretty much my most recent update. I’m not sure where I am going with all of this. We are just going to have to see. I hope that some of you will join me in the journey.

High School

It’s Almost Time Now

Sometimes you have this dream. You have a dream, or a memory of a good moment in your life. And you run with it. At some of the worst, or most challenging points in your life you let it fuel you. You let it keep you going.

You keep telling yourself that one day if you work hard enough, if you’re honest enough, if you’re brave enough, or if you maintain that dream in your heart that you will attain it. After preserving or holding onto that memory you will find the means to bring it back to life.

But more often than not what really happens is that you hold an ideal in stasis. It never changes, even as you continue to do so by virtue of being made up of flesh and imperfect recollection. Sometimes it rots and becomes a heavy weight inside you that keeps you from moving on.

Somewhere along the line I realized that this one vision of what I wanted just wasn’t going to happen. It simply isn’t possible: at least not in the way that I held onto. A little while ago, I gave up on a Twine novel idea of mine. It was going to be the first Twine creation I ever made and it was going to draw from my life in a heavily abstract but emotionally poignant manner. There were some interesting ideas in that work, and at some point I may rework them into something a lot less long-winded and laboured: something smaller, sleek, and to the point. There is another work I want to continue as well and, perhaps, it may be more doable.

But here I am at the crossroads, or the threshold where I knew I was getting to for a very long time now. The truth is, once I realized that dream was over, I’m wondering what my next one is going to be. Perhaps parts of the old can be integrated into the new. I do know that I want to make new articles and stories. I want to be writing.

And I want to be paid for my writing. Some of you have been reading about how I Have A Disability, and how I am also dealing with Depression. It sucks to be virtually unemployed for about three years, and practically house-bound for a good portion of it: remembering the good old days even if they didn’t actually exist. I will always be dealing with those struggles. That’s just how it’s going to be.

By the time this Blog entry gets posted, I am going to my first orientation at the LDEEP. It is a program that helps people with learning disabilities find employment and perhaps begin to shape their career paths. I’m not going to lie to you: a part of me is afraid. My routine is going to be different very soon. I most likely won’t be able to keep the hours that I have, and my time may well be used differently. I’ve been in something of a twilight world for so many years now that sometimes I don’t know what I’m going to do, or how this is going to work out.

I’m also, through a legal clinic, attempting to get ODSP and get — unironically — the Social Justice Tribunal to reconsider my status: to get me the aid that I need. My hearing is next year. We will see if the clinic will take me on as a client and all I can do is deal with bureaucracy with bureaucracy and hope for the best.

I’m lucky that I had the resources to find this help and that I also have access to psychological counselling: which may give me some more resources in dealing with my anxiety. I’ve realized that I’ve had anxiety and panic attacks my entire life: I just didn’t name them until now. And now that I know them for what they are, I can make strategies in dealing with them.

But what it comes down to, for me, is the fact that I know I can’t go back. I can’t look back. I need to be at the point where I can finally move on and begin that process of actually living my life. So this is my Blog entry to start off this scary but exciting week.

There’s this thing about archetypes. They might be a constant or an essential idea, but they are never in the same form twice. Not really. The myth is the same in essence but different in form and execution. It’s adaptation. I’m terrified of not feeling comfortable or lost in memories anymore. Maybe that is a good thing.

Maybe it’s an old idea waiting to be reborn again.

Looking Outward

This Is Not Five Nights At Freddy’s

You find yourself in an enclosed space.

It is a small room: filled with dust and the relics of past happiness. There are a series of windows in front of you. You keep toggling through them. You are hoping that you will find — or not find — what you’re looking for.

Before they find you.

It’s already a concession that you are in the room, but you tolerate it. The hoops you have to jump through for the small amount of money you earn rivals that of the things that you watch watching you.

Your ears perk up as you wonder if you heard a noise. Your stomach clenches as you think you see something from the corner of your eye. But you are just seeing things, hearing things, letting the darkness and the uncertainty in the shadowy corners of your vision get to you.

But you know better.

Every sane part of you wants to get up out of this sunken seat that smells like sweat and mould and ass. Every last part of you is screaming. And what is left wants to run away. But you need the money, you tell yourself. and there are still debts that need to be repaid.

You flip through the different screen and lens of the computer in front of you. Sometimes they leave you a message on your machine. Other times you know you can hear them moving around. You fear hearing the phone ring: even as you dread silencing the ringer more … knowing you’ll get that message either way.

Whether it’s a voicemail, a text, a letter in the mail, or feeling them hover over your shoulder you know you have no privacy. You know it’s only going to get more intrusive: and you can only avoid eye-contact and hide behind your mask — your playing pretend at not having feelings — for so long. Eventually, those doors are going to open. Remember: this is not your home. This space belongs to them.

Freddy Fazbear Mask

So you count the six hours you have to stay there. You count the five days your body gets locked up with tension. Just five days and they can’t touch you. In five days you can pretend that they haven’t found you already. You can imagine that they didn’t come into your space, thinking you weak, unmoulded, untried, and try to stuff who you into an exemplar of what they are: crushing everything you were into a shapeless pulp and red mist gone, like dead dreams, by morning.

FNAF Gameover

And all you can hope for are those two days where the texts don’t get you, the voice-mails never reach, the letters wait, and everything else only hovers in your nightmares: where you are not a withered animatronic and silence is not a scream of innocence lost.

This is not a game, kids. It’s real life.

Fool Me

Someone begins to tell you a joke.

You’re smiling. Your life is generally serious, or mundane, and a joke is a good distraction. No, it’s more than a distraction. It’s the promise of bounty and plenty. It’s a story that seems inclusive. The teller lets you in. In fact, they do more than that: they outright invite you into the narrative.

So here you are listening to this comedian in front of you. And they are still telling their story. They are still making their joke. Your mouth feels a little tired from smiling so long. But that’s okay. You can see that they are building something. You’re still able to follow each step to the end, to the finish, to the punchline of the thing.

Half-way through, you notice that they are beginning to move away from their premise. It seems as though you are being led into some sort of tangent. And that’s fine, you tell yourself. So long as the pay-off happens, whenever it does, you can deal with it.

You can wait.

And you do wait. You wait as the joke continues to veer further and farther off tangent. Your expectant smile is getting strained as the teller brings in long and longer pauses for what may be dramatic emphasis.

You wait as the words become intermittent and reluctant. Your mouth becomes a flat line matching the ellipses to which you are being subjected. It’s too much. It gives you too much time to think about your day and the grey mundanity in it with all of its petty little details and disappointments. The line that was your smile on your face grows heavier as the performer seems to edge off the stage, and when they disappear — leaving you disconnected — it becomes a grim slash etched deeply into your flesh. It seems to engrave itself into your soul.

And all you can think about is what went wrong before and during the joke. But it is at this moment that you understand.

This isn’t the kind of joke where you laugh with the comedian. You were never even the audience.

Me and my Head

Commitment

This post isn’t about relationships. Well, at the very least, it’s not about romantic relationships.

Hello everyone. It’s been a while. I didn’t plan it to be a while, honestly. I mean, I didn’t really feel like I had much to say for a while and, really, I wanted to put some emphasis on some of my long-standing projects. So, of course, none of that actually happened.

The fact is, I had to recharge for a while and it’s taking some time for me to get back into the critical and creative way of things. I had a whole other post that’s been sitting in my mind for a while, but I only think it’s appropriate that I write today’s post on what is, yes, May the Fourth.

In nerdy circles, that day has a lot of expectations behind it. And there are even more expectations now. It’s no secret, to anyone that knows me, that I have mixed feelings about Star Wars Episode VII. I mean, we’ve gone down this road before: a new Star Wars movie comes up and we have all of these hopes and dreams for it, sink some time into the experience, and hope that we will not leave it frustrated and disappointed.

I know that I am concerned with getting too attached. It’s one of the reasons why I’ve taken so long updating myself on the Marvel Cinematic Universe, and the DC television programs. They take a lot of time away, if you let them. Geeky things do that. If done well, or even not so well, they can get you attached to the characters and the stories. There might be a whole other ton of things that you have to do, but you end up filling the time dealing with these instead, or you procrastinate while trying to keep your desire for them at bay while unsuccessfully attempting to finish some work.

Good luck on that.

Oh, right. There is no such thing as luck.

You know, I have a queue. I have two Twine Projects that I want to finish. I have a Lovecraftian short story that has been on the back-burner to the point where I sometimes forget it ever existed, never mind remember its details. And I have another idea with which I want to have something to show for all of the research that I’ve put into it: if only in some small way. This also includes publishing more short stories and working on novellas again: and doing new things.

I’ve just not been doing it: or doing it as quickly as I would like. Life keeps getting in the way. I want to do too many things at once and, as a result, little gets done. And while I do value the creative criticism and reviews that I do, it has been a while since I have actually created something. And that fact is frustrating to me. I have to keep asking myself what I am first: a critic or a creator. And I’d like to say I am the latter.

In order to accomplish my goals, I will have to do it — or just not. The obligatory “do, or do not” aside I have gotten some very interesting perspective lately: perspective on what is actually important. If I am going to make a commitment, it needs to be something that is worth it to me. The Marvel and DC cinematic universes have definitely made me feel closer to what I was when I was younger with adult sensibilities. They also give me that time to relax and gather more material. And I will end up seeing the next Star Wars films.

As for the rest of it, I need to sit down and make some decisions. I suspect I already know what I have to do.

Don’t worry everyone. I will do it.

Yoda Waiting

I Have A Disability

Disclaimer: This is a post that comes from my experiences but, ultimately, they form my opinion on this matter. As such, this will get into some “life story” content. This is also a very long post, so if you don’t like reading long posts, don’t read this. Reader’s discretion is advised. 

I was going to post about this earlier, but I wanted to have fun first before getting into something so serious and personal. Hopefully we can get back to those fun things later.

A little while ago, I read some articles about gifted children: or children that are considered gifted. More specifically, these articles were written by the adults that these children would one day become. They wrote about a lot of things: how difficult it had been to focus in mainstream classes, behavioural problems some of them had, and the culture shock of being in a gifted class only to have to deal with “the real world.” Some suffered burn-out, or high expectations of reality that didn’t pan out as — for the most part and barring notable exceptions — their gifted statuses didn’t translate into independent adult success.

I wasn’t a gifted student.

In fact, some might tell you that I was on the very opposite end of the spectrum.

I’m what the educational system calls learning disabled. It’s a misnomer in a lot of ways. The way it’s been described to me, it’s more like I have a different form of brain wiring: or, really, I just learn differently. I have great difficulties with mathematics: in the form of dyscalculia. I can add and subtract basic numbers, but multiplication and division can only happen with a calculator. And even adding and subtracting, without a calculator, takes me a while to do: and a lot of mathematical formulas are beyond me. Certainly, it can get in the way of a game of Dungeons & Dragons. I also have spatial difficulties. I literally struggle to read a map and unless I’ve passed through a place several times and know the landmarks, I will get lost. Sometimes, even then I will still get lost. And this doesn’t even go into a lack of focus or attention that I have sometimes: which can lead to a total lack of motivation. I need to move around a lot. I get very stressed out and tense when I have to sit in one space doing one thing for an extended period of time.

All of this really doesn’t sound like much and, indeed, there are people with far more severe disabilities than I. And I was lucky. Early in my childhood, my parents identified and placed me into programs with professionals that could help me adapt as much as I could to mainstream programs and interactions. They knew and accepted what a learning disability is and gave me the help I needed to get the tools to deal with it and one day live an adult life: as much as anyone really can.

I was also lucky in that by elementary school and after a lot of childhood therapy there were various teachers in an administrative capacity that dealt with a lot of the bureaucracy involved with getting me help. All I had to do was focus on the activities and my studies. Aside from a class or two I had outside my main one, I was otherwise like everyone else.

In fact, I improved. I learned how to hide my fidgeting fits and my poor fine-motor coordination. And after years of childhood teasing over not being in touch with my surroundings, or being tricked out of money, I embraced my strengths. I focused on English and literature. I built up and focused on what I could do: and even though I can always improve and learn more, what I can do I do well.

The point is, I had to work — twice as hard — to be better.

I did so well, in fact, that in elementary school I got a Most Improved Student Award along with my best friend at the time. But by high school, things had changed. Suddenly, the onus was on me to deal with math and geography. There was no extra class or space I could do my work and I had to take extra classes and tutorials to get help: to do the work from those classes in addition to the work I needed help with. And high school kids did notice that I was different and they took pains to remind me of that fact. At least by this point, I wasn’t wearing velcro shoes any more: as laces were an anathema to my motor skills at the time. Still, I had extra time for exams, tutoring, and after dropping many of those courses I did what I always did: I focused on my strengths.

I thought by University my learning disability wouldn’t matter any more. And I wanted that to be true. I took the extra help when I could and when it didn’t interfere with my own time. I was facing more and more stress as finished high school and then got into Undergrad. But I found my stride eventually in Humanities and I had this whole plan figured out. I would ride through the stress, take the Tylenols when I needed them for my headaches and Gravols when my stomach bothered me. I would stay in the academic system. I was good at it: in my way.

My plan was simple. I would work in the system, using what aid I had from learning disabilities and Affirmative Action policies at York to rise up through the ranks. I’d graduate Undergrad, then my Master’s and then get my PhD. I would then get a contract and get a position and teach while writing on the side. I figured it all out. I’d focus on my specialization: on the words that I learned to compensate for looking weak to everyone else from my childhood. And I would use it all to gain personal independence and build a life for myself.

I had it all figured out.

There is something else that some gifted and learning disabled students have in common. In addition to learning in different ways from a mainstream program outline, and having different mindsets, we also have trouble dealing with that same culture shock that I mentioned before. And I thought I’d grown immune to that.

It’s true. I’d become a University Graduate and I was working on my Master’s. I even got my Master’s Degree. But as I worked through the stresses of the academic life, the lack of money, and the personal losses and learning experiences of actually living on my own for the first time in my whole life, I realized I’d lost something. It was a sense of guidance: that sense of guidance and understanding that I’d almost always had.

Of course, I’m not talking about an authoritarian sense of guidance: where someone tells you what you can and can’t do all the time. That kind of authority can be necessary when you are a child, but when you want to be an independent adult it can be extremely counter-productive and patronizing. I will get more into that.

These things all fit together. You see I always thought, and I was always taught, that the work was the most important thing: that academic excellence is what you should strive for. It makes sense when it’s a central force in your life at that time and it will, theoretically, become an important element in determining your social status in the future. For me, things like jobs, dealing with bureaucracy, learning how to drive and so on weren’t particularly on the list in the beginning. And despite my parents’ and even my schools’ best efforts, socializing wasn’t really high on my list either.

So I didn’t really network with many people at my University. Most were nice enough, but I just didn’t relate to many of them and I didn’t know how to approach my professors for help. So I didn’t do the networking, or the grant or bursary seeking. I didn’t realize, or want to realize that these things were just as important as writing that thesis: a thesis I didn’t think anyone in the field was interested in, or — deep down — that I thought was worth it. And I think it’s safe to say that from mid-Undergrad to Grad School onward I was getting intensely frustrated with bureaucracy and student loans: with being run around, having my status changed, dealing with illogical government websites, and not having enough money to live on as a Grad student complete with budgeting.

And all I could think of was that when I was younger someone else dealt with this stuff, or it wasn’t even a factor. Yes, adulthood brings adult responsibilities but when most of your life is made up of people helping you deal with these matters so that you can study and keep studying so that you can get a career, you have certain expectations that others in positions of authority will be just as helpful. And some of these people are, and some of them really, really, are not.

I didn’t want to use my learning disability status to help me. I wanted to think I’d grown past it: that I was finally achieving what I sought to do on my own terms. You can read into this however you want. But I have used it, and I still use it because I’ve realized that the system — however broken it may be — has those statuses for a reason and to those who need them.

It wasn’t just my learning disabilities. I have difficulty handling stress. It gathers into my body. Most of the time it’s headaches, but I have stomach problems and, like I said before, I can’t stand sitting down in one place being passive for too long. I was also burning out on academia: fast. And after I moved in with my girlfriend at the time, I was running out of money only at a slightly slower rate.

I had to get a job.

I got my original job through a learning disability organization outside of my university, though I was hired by my merits. My university’s program was a Career Centre one and, as such, only asked me questions about what I wanted to do and offered a whole ton of workshops. By that point I was so burned out from academia and I’d done so little work outside of it that I had nothing really to offer and resumes confused me and I just didn’t feel motivated to go to a workshop — especially after accidentally going to “the wrong workshop” by the administration’s own error — just to do that.

I needed a job almost immediately. At the same time, I wasn’t going to take just any old job. That is not how it works. If I am not interested in what I’m doing, the task will simply not be completed. It won’t happen.

But I still had that drive, right? I wrote stories and tried to publish them but I didn’t know — and to some extent still didn’t know — how to send them in and everything just seemed to take so much energy from me. It was pretty obvious at this time that my stress and frustration was changing from burn-out into depression.

One of the most frustrating and soul-destroying moments for me during this period was having to move out of my girlfriend’s apartment and go to an Ontario Works appointment that we arranged after I went under her ODSP plan that would have paid me $100 dollars a month for volunteer work — with the worker even offering me an adult teaching program for adults — until we could find an actual job together. This was in the Ontario Works branch of Toronto. Ontario Works is designed to be a relatively a short-term social service program that finds you work of some kind in the community. It theoretically encompasses all of the Province of Ontario.

And I was confronted with the fact that my resume, edited by my university’s Career Counselling Services, was more like a CV: with a list of achievements that couldn’t be applied to the outside world. I was told I had to tailor make each resume to match the job I wanted. I was also told by others to “Cold Call” my resumes in a cookie-cutter style. It was confusing and, honestly, I got sick of it really fast.

And that was the last time I dealt with Toronto’s social services and the city’s benefits. I ended up moving back in with my parents. As of right now, I pay rent and I applied to Ontario Works in York Region. I thought that I could have a similar arrangement to them as I did with the Toronto branch. I thought they were integrated.

I thought a lot of things.

What Ontario Works was, and is, is a program that I had to fight to get into. You know that sullen feeling that seethes in your stomach when you’re put on hold and there is nothing you can do about it? I ended up feeling that sensation more than I ever had with National Student Loans: though they would have their turn. I had to prove that I had a disability and phrase it as such. And when I finally did get in, I ended up needing my dad to drive me to their Woodbridge location as their Richmond Hill one, closer to where I live, “wasn’t in the right jurisdiction.” A situation where a person navigating their way to a long-distance location with a spatial disability and stress issues has all the makings of an insanity tale.

Their counsellors are only temporary and they cycle out a lot to take on new clients. I had to full out a long legal size sheet of paper listing all the jobs I applied for: as if my set of skills and interests could easily be found in the newspapers or the Internet. I simply couldn’t fill out all of those papers. Applying for jobs that don’t, ironically, apply to you for the most part plays on that lack of motivation that I was talking about earlier. It becomes a cycle of de-motivation. Some of my counsellors understood this and let it go. But others would phone me up and tell me I wasn’t “doing my part” in the process. None of them suggested any concrete ideas based on talking about my skill set or my leanings. And I had to re-apply — twice — to be exempt from filling out the sheet because I have a learning disability and stress issues: complete with a note from my psychotherapist (who is, by the way, one of the most awesome human beings I’ve ever met).

The York Region branch didn’t have any community services or job workshops I could participate in. After a few years of making appointments whenever was convenient for me, as adults do, I was assigned appointments with my status in Ontario Works always on the line if I couldn’t show up. I even got some pre-generated punitive letters from time to time stating that I was suspended from the program when, in fact, I met their specifications.

And I’m not even talking about my National Student Loans. University costs money, as does living on residence. Being on social assistance makes sure I don’t have to pay the government money that I don’t have, while theoretically helping me get a job with some benefits to do so. It got to a point, up until fairly recently, where I would wake up almost every weekday with dread coiling in my intestines: wondering if a voice message was left on my phone, or if I got a letter from NSL or OW.

Recently, I’ve been trying to apply for ODSP: which is specifically a government social service that deals with people that have disabilities. So far, I’ve been rejected: on the grounds that I don’t have a recurrent or permanent disability.

Even though I’ve been diagnosed as having both, and I had a doctor’s note. They invited me to write them a letter for an internal review. I can’t begin to tell you how hard it was to write that letter. It felt like NSL all over again where I was applying to go further into debt: except this time I felt like I was arguing that I was crippled in some way: that I wasn’t a complete person. One thing I was taught in school, no matter what direct help I was given, as that being learning disabled isn’t about what you lack, or what kind of deficiencies you have: it’s the fact that you just learn differently and you need other strategies to deal with the obstacles in your way.

So here I was: taking a lifetime of being taught that I could help myself — to the point of getting a Master’s Degree — and being told, now, that the only way I could get the help I needed was to tell them about how ruined I was.

And I did. I told them about the nature of my disability and how it manifests. I told them about the stress I suffer from and how it manifests physically. I even went as far as to give them examples of how this would affect me in most job situations. And, after a while, that sullen anger I’d been feeling became this righteous fury towards a broken system. But my words were cordial, even polite. Even though I was sure nothing would come of it, perhaps nothing will come of it even now, I used my words to take what was there — in me — to help me.

And oh, I wanted to tell them the rest of it. I wanted to tell them about the life I had in Toronto. I wanted to tell them about the loneliness and the peaceful solitude I had in my own apartment. I wanted to tell them how my girlfriend at the time used to tease me about being “independent in the city” and how it chagrined me and made me proud.  I wanted to show them the stories I wrote and the essays I made in my own place. I wanted to tell them about the dreams I had for my university life that never happened, or could have happened, or almost happened. Or how I could come and go with sheer impunity. Or how I explored down town Toronto for new opportunities and to discover new people, and to grow into a better person.

I wanted to tell them about my triumphs and my failures. I wanted to show them that I am a human being and that I gradually retreated from Toronto and that whole other into a small little box of memories and regret that I only occasionally leave: all the while envying the other people who “made it” and dreaming about those times when my life was better, when it was expanding … when I actually had one.

Do you want to know what one of the most important moment in my life was? I think you’d actually be surprised. Almost all my life, even though I didn’t live in Toronto proper I had access to the Toronto Public Library. That place contained the largest amount of books that became my life. And every Saturday I’d go to a branch and get a new book. So when I moved out of the Greater Toronto Area and moved into Toronto itself I realized that I could, for the first time in my whole life, get myself my own card.

And I did. It had my name on it and everything. I took out books and comics. I read them on the TTC, in my apartment, at my girlfriend’s, and everywhere. For the first time, despite the schizophrenic nature of living in and feeling detached from Toronto, I felt like I could belong.

But I don’t own property in Toronto. I don’t go to school in Toronto any more. I don’t work in Toronto any more. And I don’t live in Toronto. Any more.

So I lost my card.

A good part of me died that day. And I became a ghost: remembering all the times when I was still, fully, alive.

It got so bad I sometimes felt tempted to re-enrol in school: to go for that PhD program I used to dream about even if a Degree didn’t guarantee me a job, or a position in today’s market, or if the thought of even more deadlines looming over my head didn’t terrify me. Even if it only bought me a little more time and would never get back the life I had before.

My Mythic Bios saved me. It made me into a writing ghost: of which I can see where a certain pun or turn of phrase might come in. I wrote: keeping as much of my life away from here as possible. I wanted a space where I wasn’t a failure, where I wasn’t bound, or held down into one place. And sometimes, I wasn’t always a ghost. Sometimes, like Tiresias I got to drink the vitality of imagination and companionship and I had inspiration and vision again. I could believe that I was alive and that my body wasn’t a liability.

I’ve accomplished a lot of good things during this time when all these other elements were happening in the background. I published a story, I published some articles, and I started writing for an online geek magazine. I networked and I even made some new friends. I realized that this place, right now, even without money or steady employment isn’t hell because I’ve written about hell and there are still some chances here.

There is something else you need to understand about having a learning disability and, again, it was something taught to me in school. In addition to problem solving, I was also encouraged to ask for help. I think one of the most difficult challenges in being an adult with a learning disability in addition to all the other gritty and uncomfortable adult things is the fact that I didn’t feel like I had an advocate.

An advocate is different from having a teacher or a counsellor. A teacher will show you how to do something, but will ultimately have you do it. A counsellor will advise you or tell you the status quo or the party line and stick to the minutiae of the system. But an advocate can not only teach you, or advise you, or know how the system works but they will listen to you and stand beside you in getting to that place that you need to be.

I haven’t really had an advocate of that level since childhood. But I might be getting one like that right now. For the first time in ages, I don’t feel the dread coiling inside of me. Just yesterday, I turned thirty-three. I’ve been unemployed, but working and trying to find my way — trying to find a focus — for almost three years.

I’m still scared, but in the sense that I know there will be challenges that I’m going to have to face: that I’ve always faced. I am going to need to deal with this world and its realities of rules and regulations. But maybe I won’t have to do it alone. There are already people behind me but maybe, just maybe I can take those obstacles that I have been in my way and turn them into goals, into goal posts until — eventually, I get to where I need to be.

Now, if you’ll excuse me, I have to go sleep now. Tomorrow, I have an appointment to keep.

Looking Outward

I’m Still Alive

A week or so ago, I had quite a few plans lined up. They were all in a queue in the back of my head and I was going to deal with them one by one. One night, before talking to a friend of mine on the phone, I was sitting down on my bed with my notebook and supporting material out. I was even considering whether I should use my golden professional’s pen — the one I used to write my Heroes in Hell story — to work on this story that I planned to send out to a very interesting opportunity.

So here I was, with this story that had been in my head for a while and then I talked with my friend on the phone only to feel really … odd afterwards. I immediately put away everything and even cleaned my room a bit. I thought I just needed time in the washroom and that this particular night was, to pardon the phrase, a write off and I would continue the work I began the next day.

Instead, after almost two years of staying up late, eating at odd times, going out in ridiculous weather, and having my insides get hammered out by sheer stress my body decided that for the first time in twelve years it was going to open itself up to a stomach bug. As my friend told me, it’s not so much that my body betrayed me at the worst possible moment, but rather it was that I’d been betraying it for much longer and it decided to make me pay the piper that night.

The following day, for the first time in a long while, I didn’t go on my computer: at all. I sat in front of the television and just stared at it. For the next week or so, after my body and its digestive system decided to go through its factory reboot I didn’t do any writing at all. To be honest, I just didn’t care.

It’s like, when I got sick, something I’d been hold on long and hard to, released itself. I started going to bed at a consistent time. I didn’t really go outside all that much. I went through something of a movie marathon and caught up on Orphan Black. I found myself doing something that I hadn’t done in a few years: which was actually taking it easy. I’m no Alan Moore. I mean his talent, genius, and eccentricities aside I can’t just get back to work right after throwing up or being otherwise considerably ill.

I actually needed to rest and do something that wasn’t work. Or rather, do nothing that was work at all. So I didn’t write for a while. Even though I’m not where I want to be, everything I’ve been doing has not been worth destroying my body or my mind. So I didn’t end up sending out the writing sample I planned. I decided to take care of myself instead and actually relax. In the end I think that will serve me far better than if I tried to soldier on through a muck of exhaustion.

I’ve just been tired and it finally caught up with me. I hated being sick the way I was because I lost control of my body but now it’s strange: that ever-present heaviness and pressure in the core of my stomach doesn’t seem to be there as much. Perhaps a part of it is that I just don’t really care as much any more about pushing myself, but I think it’s also that this time off doing something else really helped me.

And tomorrow I am actually going to be leaving my house for a longer time. I’m going to the Toronto Global Game Jam again at George Brown College. I was originally hesitant in doing so. So much has happened in the indie game scene these past couple of months and I didn’t know if this would effect my time at the Jam. My friends aren’t going to be there. Aside from some organizers, I don’t know if I’ll know anyone there really. And I’ve been reluctant to go outside: finding it easier to deal with matters at my parents’ home with my resources around me.

And, hell, here I was talking about going to bed at consistent hours and eating properly and now I’m going to a two day Jam where I will be sleeping in my — admittedly — comfy clothes in a sleeping bag on a hard classroom floor that is never truly dark.

But I think it’s time to get out of here for a while and do something else. My goal is to go out and make a story: a Twine. And that’s what I’m going to do. And maybe I will be social. Maybe I will talk with people. It’s entirely possible and if it happens, great. If not, that’s fine too as I have so many ideas that now I will have the excuse to use some of them.

I’ve not been totally negligent in the writing field either. I managed to edit a previous story of mine not too long ago and send it out, and hopefully with my next project I can free myself up more to do other things.  So I’m going to make another game this weekend on my own. And, who knows, maybe this time around I won’t take a thousand years to write another post on here. One thing about being a writer and doing more work is that you don’t always have as much time to write Blog posts as much as you did.

But either way, you will definitely be seeing me again.

This Year In Passing: Hell, Everland, And Fascinating Beginnings

I said I was going to make another post in December, but I have to say that this is kind of cutting it close. A lot of people are making New Year recaps on their social media statuses and Blogs and I’m probably going to be no different to this regard.

It’s just … hard to remember everything I accomplished this year. In some ways, 2014 was a short year for me in which a microcosm of things happened. I suspect that I may have been stuck in a time dilation field that stretched out or contracted at a whim. So what I’m going to do is reach into my mind and pull out the things that stand out at me the most.

I got my first story published in print in Janet Morris’ Heroes in Hell shared universe. I have also written for GeekPr0n for over a year and got to interview people such as David Hayter, Larry Wilson, and Will Brooker. I also got to write reviews for Volume One of My So-Called Secret Identity, She Makes Comics, and a whole slew of Toronto After Dark films. Anthony Martignetti has quoted me in the endorsement section of his writer’s Blog. I got to attend the Toronto part of Amanda Palmer’s Book Circus and I got to meet her. I also got to meet Kelly Sue DeConnick and begin reading her comics work: of which I love Pretty Deadly.

In addition, I made the acquaintance of Jovanka Vuckovic — whose advice and encourage has helped me a lot in my endeavours — and I think you may be seeing me dealing in some more horror writing fairly soon.

My friend John Chui dragged me out to Fan Expo and I got to see him and my friend Angela O’Hara again midst all the geekery. I also got to travel a bit.

And I met someone awesome who challenges, levels with, and has become special to me. I just want to say that I love you Gaming Pixie and to everyone else who was here along the way.

I won’t say that I’ve accomplished everything that I set out to do and that there won’t be other frustrations and challenges along the way. But there are and there will be. But tonight, right now, I prefer not to focus on those. They will have their time. Instead, I’d like to do three things.

First, I want you to take a look at the Critters Writers Workshop and vote for Poets in Hell on the Anthology page. And if you have more time, please vote for one of the three stories in the Science Fiction and Fantasy short stories section: Chris Morris’ “Words,” Joe Bonadonna’s “We The Furious,” and Janet and Chris Morris’ “Seven Against Hell.” All three of these stories exist in Poets in Hell — the volume of which my writing is a part — and this could help us considerably. Remember, if you do vote, please confirm your vote in your email. And check out Poets in Hell as well if you haven’t. It’s diabolically good.

Secondly, there is Cody Walker’s Everland Kickstarter. Imagine a darker version of Peter Pan and Neverland: where Peter realizes that he is essentially a god and things get, shall we say, twisted. It looks very promising and I highly suggest that you check it out.

And now, finally, I want to wish you — all of you — an excellent 2015. May it truly be a eucatastrophe.

Looking Outward

On A Half-Written Page

For those of you who don’t follow me on GeekPr0n or know me, surprise: I’m still alive.

This may well be the first and last post I make for this December and before another year takes us. I remember when I used to write so much on here. I used to write a post on Mythic Bios every day, and then every day, and then every two days, one day, and now occasionally. I suppose what I didn’t realize, at the time I started this, was as I began writing more I would have less time to Blog than I once did.

At the very least this has not been the result of a creative block or major depression. I have been busy this past while. I’m not even going to try to catch up on what I’ve been doing since my last post because so many things have happened.

I think what I really wanted to write about this time around was something about writing and life: as I’ve not done in a while. I’ve been working on a long-term project this past while that has taken a lot of time, energy, and concentration on my part. I made good progress on it for a while. I planned to have it finished before seeing my girlfriend for Thanksgiving.

Of course, that didn’t happen.

Instead, after dealing with writing other articles, interviews, and life stuff I had to put it aside and prepare to recharge for a while: but not before going to my first Amanda Palmer Book Circus when she came to Toronto. I still haven’t had the time to read her Art of Asking. That is how busy and preoccupied I have been.

So I came back from a well-deserved hiatus to my assignment only to get stuck. Some writers might tell you that the worst thing in the world, aside from deadlines, is staring at a blank page and having nothing come to you. Well, I’m here to tell you that this is not the worst that can happen.

From my experience, be that as it may, the worst thing that can happen to a writer is looking a half-completed work of theirs and totally having lost their train of thought, while knowing how the story continues in their head, but fighting the details to get it all down. It is downright infuriating and it’s made all the worse when you just want to get it out of your system, and move on with your life.

Sometimes you’ll even begin to develop some performance anxiety and avoid looking at it. It will sit there in the back of your mind, but you are torn between wanting the fucker done, and despairing that you will not do it well enough. Procrastination becomes your writerly alcohol or drugs: that is, if you don’t like alcohol or drugs already.

A little while ago, I finally managed to get my story to where I needed it to go. It’s not perfect but now I feel the excitement again: and the passion and momentum to keep pushing forward. There will be editing and formatting and such to keep in mind, but those are secondary concerns at the moment: as I now feel that this will happen.

I think that what I’m trying to say is that, because a year where some promises and potential breaks didn’t pan out, where I sometimes wonder what I’m doing with my life and if I will get anything out of it, that — right now — I don’t feel like a fucking failure. 🙂 And I’d like to say that’s pretty something.

I’ve also been getting used to going outside again without feeling a whole lot of tension: though it will take some time. I’ve decided that Tuesdays are now my Suspect Video days with alternating Library days as well: to keep my mind fresh with films, books, and comics so that I don’t go completely insane. And who knows, I might even learn how to socialize again and function outdoors without too much anxiety after all this time.

Anyway, I hope that the next time I see you all in Mythic Bios will be when I have finished my work and I get to finally work on something new.

Until then the writing: it continues.

Interviews and More Writing

I’m still doing my writing, but I just thought I’d go into a little more detail about what I was talking about in my last post.

If you remember I talked about an interview I did for GEEKPR0N. That interview was actually with Larry Wilson: the co-writer and co-producer of Beetlejuice, The Addams Family, and the writer and director of Tales From the Crypt for six seasons. Our interview centred around his current project the web series Cindy: a twenty-first century retelling of Cinderella with elements of Reality TV parody, dark humour, and just plain weirdness.

To be honest, I never dreamed that I would be talking to one of the people integral in creating a large feature of my childhood. I first got to know Beetlejuice through the cartoons and it goes without saying that while I knew about The Addams Family before the film, I recall spending a recess in the corner of my elementary school reading its novelization. And I’m not even going into the time where I would to sneak up late and watch some Tales From the Crypt on Fox.

And I will tell you right now that if I had the money and even basic screenwriting experience, I would definitely take up Larry’s script consultation reward. I honestly hope that if I can’t, someone else does.

I’ve also written a little something for Clive Barker. Yes: that’s right. You read that correctly. Basically he has put a challenge out there to write a story for an image he painted and posted on Deviantart. I will link to the image and I’ll post what I wrote here: because one requirement was placing the narrative in the Comments section.

ON WHOSE DREAMS

They built cities to keep them out.

People will tell you all manner of more pragmatic reasons for the creation of cities. They will mention the intersection of culture and trade, of the need for propaganda art to cow enemies and citizens alike, of a place to better house the billions of human beings being born every day.

But some will tell you something else. They’ll inform you, secretly where they think no one else can hear, that all of that art and architecture, the arrangement of the paths, streets, and buildings, and even the placement of certain homes and peoples were arranged as a pattern: to ward them off.

Yet ultimately it is the enclosures that are the thing.

They are no new innovation. It’s well known that ancient humans and their predecessors would hide in their caves during the night after saying farewell to their loved ones, their friends, and their enemies. And even now they would like to forget the howling outside, the scraping against the rock walls and their paintings of animal blood,  the hunger deeper than the tunnels in which they hid and the pleading: to be accepted back among their people.

However, all of them are wrong. They remember it all wrong. Cities weren’t made for the living to hide and hoard their food against the seasons and the predators. The lost weren’t put outside to roam around for eternity. No. The tribes often placed their lost in their homes: sealing them up and painstakingly maintaining them. They would bring them food, tools, and the results of trade. Over time they bargained with them, prayed to them … worshipped their memory and what yet remained.

Caves like wombs became camps. Camps became villages. Villages towns and towns cities. The monuments grew higher each day: growing from the foundation of countless generations and those that tended their ground: which they still do to this very day.

So now do you understand? Do you know why sometimes you feel so tired: so drained? Even as the symbols lengthen like shadows into the sky and expand across the land, nothing truly changes. It is amazing how, simultaneously, you are cramped and alone: like you are the one living in the coffin. You are the one that’s trapped here.

No. Cities were not built to keep them out, but to keep them in.

For cities are not built for the living, but for the dead: in which everything within truly belongs.

So to say I’ve been busy would be something of an understatement. I’ve already told you about the fact that I’m going to be covering the Toronto After Dark. I actually tried to do this last year with Mythic Bios and for my efforts I got an invitation to view and write a review of their opening night. This time, however, I’m attending on behalf of GEEKPR0N. Expect to see me there for the Sunday and Thursday showings.

And I am going to be interviewing someone else. Again, I’m not going to go into any details as of yet but I will say that it will be my first in-person interview ever and I’m both cautious and excited over that prospect.

I remember once being the person that never even dreamed of having these opportunities or being this person as immersed in geek culture as I am now: even when people encouraged me to do so. And well … here we are.

Don’t worry. I will take time to peer in here and update all of you. I just thought you’d like to know about this. And please, read my articles and tell me what you think. It means a lot to me. Yet again, take care everyone. 🙂