Rant VIII: The Reckoning

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Some folks at work were making Cannabis jokes. Medical is not legal here in the KY state and I can't stand the smell. So edibles/oils of quality won't be on the table when that time comes around.
 
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How long and what was your downtime?
Surgery itself lasted 15 minutes or so. The worst part was getting the shot in the eye cavity to numb the eye. It's a local, so you can get up and immediately resume your life, though you might wanna have someone drive you.

My downtime was atypical because I'm highly resistant to anesthesia. I only had to wear the gauze and plastic dome over my eye for 30 minutes, because I could already blink again before she was done with the surgery. Typically, you have to wear it for 6 hours until you get enough movement back in your eye/eyelid to be able to blink and clear your eye of any potential debris.

I was worried about the anesthesia, but the doc told me that they do it in some countries without any drugs at all, so I figured I'd be ok.

(so, side note: No doctor ever believes me when I say numbing drugs only last a few minutes on me. Twilight drugs don't work at all. They always think I'm trying to get extra doses--but extra doses don't help me once I've over-produced whatever enzymes my body uses to break down the drugs. Cataract surgery was no different. Immediately after surgery, when she went to tape the gauze over my eye, I blinked out of reflex. She totally lit into the anesthesiologist about why I was able to do that. He said "He said he was resistant to anesthesia," and shrugged as if to say "wtf am I supposed to do about it?")
 
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Surgery itself lasted 15 minutes or so. The worst part was getting the shot in the eye cavity to numb the eye. It's a local, so you can get up and immediately resume your life, though you might wanna have someone drive you.

My downtime was atypical because I'm highly resistant to anesthesia. I only had to wear the gauze and plastic dome over my eye for 30 minutes, because I could already blink again before she was done with the surgery. Typically, you have to wear it for 6 hours until you get enough movement back in your eye/eyelid to be able to blink and clear your eye of any potential debris.

I was worried about the anesthesia, but the doc told me that they do it in some countries without any drugs at all, so I figured I'd be ok.

(so, side note: No doctor ever believes me when I say numbing drugs only last a few minutes on me. Twilight drugs don't work at all. They always think I'm trying to get extra doses--but extra doses don't help me once I've over-produced whatever enzymes my body uses to break down the drugs. Cataract surgery was no different. Immediately after surgery, when she went to tape the gauze over my eye, I blinked out of reflex. She totally lit into the anesthesiologist about why I was able to do that. He said "He said he was resistant to anesthesia," and shrugged as if to say "wtf am I supposed to do about it?")
Meanwhile, since I'm a redhead, they always just assume that's the case for me. ;)
 
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I tried working on my memoir tonight for the first time in ages. For the record, it's a memoir about my long-time, ongoing battles with depression. Before I stopped working on it, I had about 15,000 words. And I just...I just can't. The writing itself isn't terrible, I guess, but I have no clue what to actually do with it in terms of the overall big picture.

I can't figure out how to break down the story or the chapters, or how everything works. I thought I'd try brainstorming it using a program for such a process, but I only got as far as one brainstorm bubble for the character names. Even the format I started with feels forced or maybe I'm trying to do too much with it.

I just don't know what to do with this thing. It feels so fucking narcissistic in a way I don't think anyone would want to read it. Like, I get it; it's a memoir, so it kind of has to be narcissistic. But it's littered with pop-culture references of the things I grew up on or influenced me or my writing and less on actual personal relationships. I can easily see people criticizing that, laughing at it, or rolling their eyes at it.
I don't know. I've ranted many times already about how my spark for writing feels dead. I don't know why I keep trying to get back into it when it's not there.
 
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Absolutely no problem with what the content is. It doesn't need to have a point to it. And remember what the great Rich Burlew once said*:

"The end of what? The story? There is no end, there's just the point where storytellers stop talking."

* - Yes, it was via Tarquin, but it fits.
 
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I have a bunch of stories banging around in my head. Have since I was a pre-teen.
I'm probably never going to actually commit them to print, but I'm going to revise, plan, go over, etc. them for the rest of my life, all the while silently berating myself for never actually creating more than just a couple sentences once in a while.

My wife has had quite a few stories visit her of late.
Her last one was just finished. It's something like 1100 pages, took her over a year to commit to paper and get proofed, and in that time it dragged her unwilling behind it the whole way, never letting her have a moment's peace, constantly gnawing at her and giving anything else she was trying to think about the talking stain treatment, upsetting her with its insistent Athenian need to be born.

I guess what I'm saying is, it sounds like what you are experiencing is well within what I would consider "expected behavior" for a writer.

--Patrick
 
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I tried working on my memoir tonight for the first time in ages. For the record, it's a memoir about my long-time, ongoing battles with depression. Before I stopped working on it, I had about 15,000 words. And I just...I just can't. The writing itself isn't terrible, I guess, but I have no clue what to actually do with it in terms of the overall big picture.

I can't figure out how to break down the story or the chapters, or how everything works. I thought I'd try brainstorming it using a program for such a process, but I only got as far as one brainstorm bubble for the character names. Even the format I started with feels forced or maybe I'm trying to do too much with it.

I just don't know what to do with this thing. It feels so fucking narcissistic in a way I don't think anyone would want to read it. Like, I get it; it's a memoir, so it kind of has to be narcissistic. But it's littered with pop-culture references of the things I grew up on or influenced me or my writing and less on actual personal relationships. I can easily see people criticizing that, laughing at it, or rolling their eyes at it.
I don't know. I've ranted many times already about how my spark for writing feels dead. I don't know why I keep trying to get back into it when it's not there.
I don't think the pop culture thing is really an issue. You're telling your story; worrying about how others would tell it isn't productive.

I have an article I still need to write for next month. Julie suggested I make it autobiographical and I thought similar to you, that it sounded so narcissistic, what made me so special, why would anyone want to read that? I'm still not sure what I'm doing, but the thing is, no one else can see in your head. Only you can tell that story. And like fiction we write, it always seems worse to us because we can see the scaffolding, the blueprints, etc, even in our best work. Where the reader sees magic, the author sees work.

You're also a bit of a perfectionist. If it's not coming out right, you don't want to do it. Julie can be the same with all the arts she does, and it's often related to her depression. I didn't really work while I was depressed, and unlike you and her, mine was situational, not chronic. So I can't imagine trying to work when that's so long standing. It's easier to write junk and then decide what to throw away and what to use to make better things, but depression being a little demonic Eeyore in your ear going "why bother?" makes that process so, so much harder.

That you're trying anyway is a big deal.
 
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There are 7 billion plus people in the world. The odds that at least one of them wants to hear your story told your way are pretty good. Write it for them, even if you'll never know who they are.
 
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I guess what I'm saying is, it sounds like what you are experiencing is well within what I would consider "expected behavior" for a writer
DAY 2:
So I feel a need to clarify, because on second read this sounds way too “suck it up, buttercup”-y, and, hard as it might be to believe, that actually wasn’t what I wanted to say.

You say you’re concerned because you feel like you’ve lost your spark, like what you’re writing doesn’t feel like it’s coming from you, and that everything that IS coming from you feels like cheap, hollow self-aggrandizement. All I wanted to say was that these things are not indicators of being a failure as a writer, they are just natural consequences of being a writer. Every story you write, autobiographical or otherwise, becomes a challenge once you start the process of moving a complex, layered, amorphous idea out of your head and onto a screen, a page, a notebook, whatever. The written word is a horribly inefficient means of conveying an entire idea from your head into someone else’s. The medium artificially constrains the depth and speed at which you can transfer that information, and obsessing over which words have the best chance at representing what you’re saying can take the longest of all. Sometimes the idea is beating at the inside of your head the entire time wanting OUT, sometimes it can be something uncomfortable that your brain will actively avoid, and other times there’ll just be a wet floor sign there with “Out To Lunch” scribbled over it in Sharpie.

So please don’t allow the frustrations to convince you that this must be because you are a failure. Sometimes the voices go silent, sometimes they will overwhelm you. Your author-ness is not broken, it’s all just part of the cycle. Read up on something new or organize your sock drawer during the lull. It’ll be back. Just be ready.

—Patrick
 
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So, I tried working on it again last night. By "working on," I mean reading what I have so far and editing. But it included one major change.

I had this idea to "interrupt" the narrative after every 2 chapters to do basically a counselling session. Or maybe closer to resembling a blog. These "confessions" were intended to theme around the 7 deadly sins and the 7 virtues, a third set for the limbs of yoga philosophy.

The intent was relating each sin, virtue, and limb with a particular emotion or aspect of myself. Wrath for my anger issues. Sloth for how depression kills my motivation to do anything. Lust for discussing my sex life. Some of that might also include coping mechanisms.

Honestly, the more I thought about it, the more pretentious the idea felt to me.

I thought these chapters might inform the narrative, but I realized something: since I planned on covering certain events in the narrative, a lot about these chapters would thus become redundant.

I also realized I could weave a lot of those feelings and coping mechanisms within the narrative. Showing rather than telling.

So, I decided to purge those chapters entirely, two of which were already written, cutting about 2,000-3,000 words.

But suddenly I felt much better about what that left. Without those interruptions in the narrative flow, I could focus on what was meant to be the meat of the book. I realized those chapters, while a good idea in theory, would kill the narrative pacing.

I still haven't written anything new and the memoir currently sits at about 10,000 words, but I feel like this was a big step towards what I think the book should be.

Another big change (to me) was changing the quotes I used at the start of every chapter. I never really used quotes with chapters before, but I wanted to with this. Some were appropriate snippets from poems.

Not only did it feel pretentious, but it rang hollow for me.

Instead, I'll still use quotes, but they'll be quotes that actually mean something to me or at least ring truer. Quotes from my favourite books, movies, comics, maybe songs. Using quotes still feels a little pretentious, but at least it'll feel more natural.
 
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The "like" is for starting up again and daring to go the route of creative destruction - as you can see far too often with famous authors (think Song of Ice and Fire, Wheel of Time, etc), good editing and cutting is key. Yes, a lot of editing and cutting is obviously best left for later, but some big decisions like this can be important to take early on. Deleting whole chapters or paragraphs can be really, really hard because you're killing your babies - but it's necessary. Only by cutting weeds can you make the flowers grow, or some such crappy metaphor.

On the topic of the 7 sins/virtues....They can be a great tool to structure a story around, but I personally feel they're overused by now - hardly anyone is actually faced with all 7. This often leads to writers doing something interesting/clever with 4 or 5, and having to try and shoehorn some other storylines or problems into the remaining 2 or 3. In fiction, this can be done fairly seamlessly; in non-fiction this can be really obvious.
 
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I decided to purge those chapters entirely, two of which were already written, cutting about 2,000-3,000 words.

But suddenly I felt much better about what that left. Without those interruptions in the narrative flow, I could focus on what was meant to be the meat of the book. I realized those chapters, while a good idea in theory, would kill the narrative pacing.
owatareliefitis.gif


--Patrick
 
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So, the little town I'm supposed to drive up to this weekend for my grandma's funeral (it's been indefinitely postponed) is close to being on fire. My aunt (who lives there) has been posting pictures like this all day. The town hasn't been ordered to evacuate yet, but it's definitely close.

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This was taken at the lumber mill 5 km outside of town.

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This one taken at the outskirts of town.
 
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This is from yesterday. It's gotten closer and spread further east and north. The only way out of town now is north into the Northwest Territories and the town is now without power. Only thing saving them currently is the wind is on their side. My aunt tells me it's super eerie since you can see so much smoke and fire from town, but the wind is keeping the smoke out of town. She can't even smell it.

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She just snapped this from her back deck.
 
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I haven't been this deeply unhappy with my life in a long, long time. I feel like I'm just going through the motions of my day, trying not to fall apart crying or screaming.

And I'm not in the mood for some pithy "hurr hurr hurr welcome to my life everyday!" type joke. So please, if that's all you're going to say... just don't.
 
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I haven't been this deeply unhappy with my life in a long, long time. I feel like I'm just going through the motions of my day, trying not to fall apart crying or screaming.

And I'm not in the mood for some pithy "hurr hurr hurr welcome to my life everyday!" type joke. So please, if that's all you're going to say... just don't.
Yeah, that's really how I felt until I quit working for the government in my former career. I just couldn't do it anymore.
 
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And High Level has begun evacuating.

5000 people on a little two lane highway going north to an even smaller town. What a nightmare.
 
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I haven't been this deeply unhappy with my life in a long, long time. I feel like I'm just going through the motions of my day, trying not to fall apart crying or screaming. And I'm not in the mood for some pithy "hurr hurr hurr welcome to my life everyday!" type joke. So please, if that's all you're going to say... just don't.
[EDIT: That’s] Not...really [what I was going to say]? I was going to say that I think I’m hearing this now from more people (a larger quantity of people, that is) than at any other time in my life, and I’m kinda concerned more because I don’t think it’s confined to any specific population. GenXers, Whites, Poor, Americans...age/race/income/nationality/etc don’t seem to matter, that gloom just seems to be everywhere.

—Patrick
 
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Not...really? I was going to say that I think I’m hearing this now from more people (a larger quantity of people, that is) than at any other time in my life, and I’m kinda concerned more because I don’t think it’s confined to any specific population. GenXers, Whites, Poor, Americans...age/race/income/nationality/etc don’t seem to matter, that gloom just seems to be everywhere.

—Patrick
The data certainly shows a trend upwards, if (if) suicide is a symptom of that societal "gloom" in the U.S.: Suicide Mortality in the United States, 1999–2017 (CDC)
 
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[EDIT: That’s] Not...really [what I was going to say]? I was going to say that I think I’m hearing this now from more people (a larger quantity of people, that is) than at any other time in my life, and I’m kinda concerned more because I don’t think it’s confined to any specific population. GenXers, Whites, Poor, Americans...age/race/income/nationality/etc don’t seem to matter, that gloom just seems to be everywhere.

—Patrick
I don't know if we can say for certain it has increased, it could simply be that mental health is more openly talked about now, and so its rate of reporting could have increased.

That said, since there does seem to be a genetic link to chronic depression, it could be a case of small scale evolution. Does depression make someone more likely to procreate? We all tend to be nerdy here, is there a correlation there? Perhaps a link between depression and intelligence. I haven't looked into any of these, they're just musings off the top of my head. I will say that I've never known anyone that was both happy and interesting.

As for @Tress, I can't tell you anything that you don't already know. It can get better, though I say that fully knowing that this knowledge doesn't help when you're neck deep in the middle of it.
 
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The way to deal with it is find an out, and make a plan to get to that out as soon as practical.

It might take a while, and it might take some bleak times, but have the plan - and when it comes, take it and GTFO.
 
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I don't really have the time (or inclination, on my phone) to go looking for sources, but:
A) there is a statistical link between non-social intelligence and depression
B) of course acceptance of mental health issues it's helping (self-) reporting
C) some things were simply given different names in other eras - just think of hysteria and such
D) from roughly the 90s on we're in the first period in literal centuries that children didn't have it better than their parents. 1945-1990ish was a period of incredible growth and progress, combined with strong anti-war sentiments and very strong repartition. From the 90s onwards we see more and more openly aggressive talk from people who don't seem to understand the horrors of war. There's also a tendency to over-deregulate which has caused the concentration of wealth to get far worse than it was in the earlier period. The end of the baby boom also means we're facing a huge generation of old people who, for all intents and purposes, destroyed the world for their own short-term gain (not that they could necessarily know better in some cases). Pollution and pensions are two very big and heavy legacies these youth have to bear. Life isn't really improving anymore, it's now you're to pay for the mistakes of the past.
 
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I am losing my mind about the whole wildfire destroying my childhood (and some adulthood, it's where I spent the first 3 years of my police career too) home. Not to mention so many friends and family's homes. 10/10 anxiety levels.

This is the last month for my family.

1) My brother's girlfriend almost dies because of pregnancy complications, requires an induced miscarriage. Their relationship is basically over over it, he's staying with me right now. I hope they can work through it. They've been together for a decade and she's already like a sister to me personally.

2) My grandma dies a week later. I'm out of grandparents. This one of course devastated me but I was ok with it since she's been so sick, weak and miserable for so long.

3) My hometown is probably about to get wiped off the map. This is where my aunt and grandma live(d) (thankfully she died weeks before this is happening honestly) as well as dozens of my friends. I am beginning to lose my fucking mind over things.

Oh and my aunt's lovely little dog died the week before. I loved that pooch. She always stuck to me like glue when I visited. I feel such sorrow for my aunt. She's going through so much loss and pain right now. I don't think life could be punching her in the face any harder. (she was laid off from her job of 35 years in December too.)
 
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Fucking hell. Missed an appointment with my new therapist (which was mostly covered by my work benefits) and charged $190 (regular charge).

I'm not going to rebook and see her again. I can't run the risk of being a moron AGAIN and missing and being charged.

What's the point, anyway? She wouldn't have helped and it would've just been a waste of money. She can't rebuild my hope for me, my life, or the world. I just don't care anymore.
 
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