But if you blog it, as many of your players do, I had as lief the town-crier spoke my lines.

Hello and good morning.  It’s Thursday again, and it’s time to resume my traditional, weekly blog posting day after a brief hiatus last week due to a rather lackluster tropical storm.  I expect there will be another hiatus next Thursday, since it will be Thanksgiving here in the USA, and that’s probably a more universally observed holiday here than anything but New Year’s Day (the latter being mainly observed because many people tend to be much the worse for wear after New Year’s Eve).

I’m not going to pick up the discussion of Alzheimer’s and/or Parkinson’s disease today, largely because I’m writing this post on my phone*.  Also, Thursday has traditionally been a day for blog posts about writing, especially fiction.  This makes it a good opportunity to address something raised by the same reader, StephenB, in a comment after yesterday’s blog, in which he asked what my thoughts or approaches were to writing good dialogue.

It’s an interesting topic, not least because I’ve never really thought about trying to write good, let alone great, dialogue.  I have, however, always (as long as I can remember, anyway) enjoyed reading both good/great dialogue and good/great narration.  But the greatness of such writing was always measured by how much I enjoyed it or the story in which it took place, and was from my point of view, never in deference to what anyone else said was good or great.

I’ve always tended to notice passages of writing that I find moving or eloquent, and I read and reread them, and often involuntarily memorize them.  In high school, almost every day, I would write some quote or other on the little-used blackboard of the orchestra room**.  I’ve also always loved characters who used words well‒they’re usually villains for some unclear reason‒in various books and movies and comic books and whatnot.  A big part of the reason Lord Foul is one of my favorite villains is because of his way with words (as well as the fact that, despite being a Sauron-style “big bad”, he actually speaks in the stories)***.

I’ve also always watched people around me and listened to them, mostly to try to discern how ordinary people talk and interact and communicate, which has often been far from intuitive for me.  If someone has peculiar habits of speech or sayings, especially funny ones, I’ll tend to remember them, and sometimes these will appear in my characters’ speech.

But when I’m writing dialogue, whether in a story or a play or whatever (it’s been a long time since I’ve written a play or a screenplay, but I did write them, once upon a time), I’m not really trying to make the dialogue good.  I’m not even really thinking about it as “dialogue”.  To me, the characters in my stories are just people‒real people in a sense.  I don’t do any formal process of, for instance, deciding someone’s background or motivations or nature, partly because, as far as I can see, no real people have such clearly defined backgrounds or motivations‒real people are messy and fuzzy‒and partly because it seems boring.

So, when my characters are speaking, they’re just talking to each other, as people talk to each other, and the subjects and words depend on the situations and the vague tendencies of the person talking.  I will have people try to be funny, when the character wants to try to be funny, but I can’t always tell if they’ve succeeded (and it’s often, ironically, funnier when they haven’t).  Sometimes characters get the right words out and make what they’re trying to say clear on the first attempt, and other times the other characters don’t quite get what they were saying, and they’ll have to clarify their point, sometimes with exasperation.

But real people, as far as I can see, don’t do “dialogue”.  They just talk to each other, and it’s very free-form and impromptu and usually quite messy, but sometimes fun.  And, as I said, the people in my stories aren’t anything but people to me, even the “bad guys”, and so they are prone to say whatever they say in any given situation, and succeed or fail at communicating depending on their luck, skill, or circumstances.

Of course, I do a lot of editing as I finalize stories, but I suspect that I edit dialogue far less than I do narration.  I certainly don’t bother trying to be grammatically correct when people are speaking, unless that character is someone who likes to try to do that, because most people‒even I‒don’t speak in grammatically correct sentences.  Occasionally I’ll tweak something if it’s said in an awkward way that’s not a natural kind of awkwardness, or I’ll add something if it occurs to me that this character really wants to say a bit more about a particular subject than was written originally.

And, of course, in The Chasm and the Collision, the characters sometimes deliberately choose not to swear when they definitely wanted to swear, and would have done so, if not for my decision, on my father’s recommendation, not to have any swearing in the book (since it was “kid” oriented).

So I fear I have little advice to give about writing “good dialogue”, but personally, I wouldn’t worry too much about trying to do that.  I doubt Shakespeare ever tried to write good dialogue specifically; he probably just had his characters say what he thought they would say, both to have fun and to advance the plot (and often tweaked into iambic pentameter).  He ended up making some truly great dialogue, but I think his goal was just to write an enjoyable, moving play that people would be willing to pay to go and see.  The man had to make a living.

I’m no Shakespeare (clearly), but I basically just read what I enjoy and try to write what I enjoy, and my characters aren’t Characters, they’re just people.  They don’t do dialogue, they just talk, like people do, often saying stupid things, and interrupting each other, talking way too much, too loudly, and in singularly unflattering ways.  I don’t know if that counts as any kind of advice or insight; these are just my thoughts on the subject.

That’s my own “dialogue” for the day.  I hope you got some fun out of it, and that you have a good day, and a good week, and have whatever conversations you have with your friends/loved ones that seem to fit.  And, of course, please comment here with suggestions for subjects and topics or inquiries regarding matters about which you’d like me to write.

TTFN

socrates dialogue bubble


*I didn’t bring my laptop when I left work early yesterday, exhausted beyond belief by Monday and Tuesday nights.  I wish I could say I’d gone on some kind of binge on those evenings, but alas, I can’t even usually finish a single glass of wine, and apart from caffeine, allergy medicine, and OTC analgesics, I don’t use any drugs.

**The orchestra teachers were pretty easy-going about this, presumably because I was a good student and the process was nominally educational and occasionally interesting or amusing.  They did give me the “dusty cello award” in my senior year, near graduation, for my idiosyncratic habit, and that very much caught me off guard.  I never really realized it was odd or funny.

***He’s the second person we “meet” from the Land, in the chapter “Invitation to a Betrayal”, and I doubt I will ever forget the final paragraph of his warning to Thomas Covenant:  “One more word.  A final caution.  Do not forget whom to fear at the last.  I have had to be content with killing and torment, but now my plans are laid, and I have begun.  I shall not rest until I have eradicated hope from the Earth.  Think on that, and be dismayed.”

A call for topics

It’s Monday morning yet again, despite my best efforts‒the beginning of yet another pointless work week in the dreary tail bit of the year, when the sun sets at 5:31 pm local time, thanks to the outmoded “daylight savings time”, making people like me, who are already dysthymic/depressive and are also subject to some seasonal affective problems that much more unstable.  Spread the word: daylight savings time causes significant morbidity and mortality* and does no one much, if any, good.

I’m writing this on my cell phone again, or “smartphone” if you will (though dumbphone seems like a better term given the way most humans use theirs).  I deliberately didn’t bring my laptop to the house with me over the weekend.  It’s not as though I’m writing stories anymore; I’m just writing this ridiculous blog.  So there’s no particular impetus to make the writing process easier for me, as using the laptop does.  I might as well use the smaller, lighter device when I don’t feel like carrying the heavier one.

I had a reasonably boring weekend, which I guess is a good thing.  I watched a few movies, and I went on some comparatively long walks‒I think I totaled about 12 miles over the course of the two days.  I also spoke with my sister on the phone on Sunday, and that was good.

That’s about it.  That’s the extent of my non-work life.  It’s the best I have to offer, and it’s as like as not just to get worse as time passes.  But I was able to force myself to get almost eight hours of sleep on Friday night and Saturday night, thanks to Benadryl and melatonin.  Oh, and of course, I did my laundry on Sunday, as I always do.

Sorry, I know this is really boring so far.  I don’t know what to tell you.  I didn’t really have any subject in mind for today, other than my brief diatribe about daylight savings time and depression/seasonal affective disorder.  Obviously, it’s a topic that affects me significantly (no pun intended), but there’s otherwise not much for me to say about it.

Eliezer Yudkowsky has an interesting bit of insight into it that he gives as an illustrative case in his excellent book Inadequate Equilibria, dealing with, among other things, the reasons why no one has done research on much stronger light-based treatments for SAD.  But you can’t expect depressed people to take initiative to do remarkable things to help themselves, since a major part of the problem with depressive disorders is comparative inability to take positive action.

If anyone out there has any requests for subjects or topics for me to discuss in a blog post, I’d be more than willing to consider them, though if it’s not a subject about which I have any expertise, I may not be able to do anything worthwhile with it.  Still, I have a fairly broad knowledge base regarding general science, especially biology and physics.  I like mathematics, though I’m not that deeply knowledgeable about esoterica thereof‒a regretted failure of my youthful imagination when I was in college.  Similar things could be said about the deep aspects of computer science; I wish I had known how interesting the subjects were back then and so had pursued them more than I did.

Of course, I have a fair amount of personal knowledge in the reading and writing of fantasy/science fiction/horror, though I haven’t read any new stuff in a while.  I haven’t even read any of my own books in a long time.  I think the most recent horror I’ve read was Revival by Stephen King, which was pretty good.  I haven’t read much if anything in the way of new fantasy since Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows.  I’m reasonably well versed in slightly older comic book lore, especially Marvel.  And of course, The Silmarillion, The Hobbit, and The Lord of the Rings are among my favorite books.

I enjoy Shakespeare, but I don’t consider myself any kind of scholar of the Bard.  I like his works and his words in a fairly straightforward fashion.  I also like Poe quite a lot, as you might have guessed from my recitation videos of some of his poems.

Anyway, that’s a quick summary of some of the subjects upon which I might at least feel justified in opining.  So, if anyone has any suggestions or requests in these or even other, tangentially related subjects, I would appreciate them.  I like to feel useful or productive in at least some way, so I can justify my existence to myself.  It isn’t easy.  I’m a much harsher judge of my usefulness or worth than Scrooge at his worst, and I expect no ghosts of past, present, and/or future to visit me to give me some epiphany that changes my character.

It would be nice if some rescue mission were to happen to save my soul, but I don’t see it as plausible, and I don’t think anyone thinks it’s in their interest‒or anyone else’s‒to save me, in any case.  So in the meantime I’m just stumbling along like a wind up robot that’s been forgotten by the child that wound it up, legs moving and shifting until the mechanism breaks or the spring finishes untightening.  And damn, that’s an annoyingly efficient spring.


*I don’t have the data for this, but I strongly suspect that, if the sun set at least a little later‒say an hour later, even‒things would be slightly easier for people with SAD.  It might be difficult to tease out the statistics, but SAD doesn’t just kill by increasing rates of suicide, though I’m pretty sure it does that.  People experiencing exacerbations of depression have higher rates of numerous other illnesses and accidents beyond the obvious. 

Shana Tovah

[When I started writing this, I had completely forgotten that it was Rosh Hashanah today.  I figured I’d at least make the title give a reference to it, though it doesn’t have anything to do with the post, nor am I going to celebrate it, since I am not part of any community or family that does so anymore.  I also added the 10th Doctor GIF about the New Year, since it’s a shame not to waste it, even though it’s a day late.]

Just in case anyone was worried (though that seems unlikely) I ended up not working this last Saturday, and that was the reason I didn’t write a blog post.  I’m not dead or anything*.

I’m writing this post on my phone, today, but it’s not because there’s anything wrong with my laptop.  It’s just that the first train of the morning is delayed due to mechanical trouble–of course it is–and so the benches that have usually been emptied by that train’s arrival are overfilled, and I’m standing to wait.  It’s hard to use a laptop when one’s lap is in vertical mode.

I may actually wait for my “usual” train to arrive rather than getting on the late one, because delayed trains tend to be more crowded, as they pick up some early passengers from the next train.  And, for similar reasons, the trains that follow are often relatively less crowded than usual.  That’s a nice thing to enjoy, and it’s not as though I’m cutting it close on time.

As you may know, I always go to work early–very early–in the morning, because I can’t sleep anyway.  This weekend, I didn’t work, and I took 2 Benadryl before bed both Friday and Saturday nights.  It doesn’t completely stop me from waking up early, but it usually lets me go back to sleep when I do.  I can tell by the effects on my mental acuity that it’s not really doing me good overall, but at least my body gets a bit of rest, which doesn’t happen most other nights.

I’m really starting to get tired of doing this blog; at least I feel that way right now.  I began writing the Thursday posts, initially, as a way to connect with potential readers of my books, to talk about my fiction writing, and potentially to promote it.  As far as I can tell, it has had none of those effects, or at least they have been negligible.

I’m not really socially adept enough to use Facebook or Twitter for self promotion, though I have tried, and I don’t have the money to buy promotions for my posts or to advertise using the Amazon algorithm.  As far as I can tell, thanks to the way these automatic “auctions” for advertising go, I’m effectively just flushing money down the toilet on the occasions when I’ve paid for promotions.

There are networks of mutually promoting authors on Twitter and other “social” media, but they are all far more pro-social than I am from what I can tell.  I can’t even schmooze online.  I get embarrassed when I leave comments on other blogs and on YouTube videos let alone trying to talk myself up to strangers.  More and more, I feel embarrassed even when talking to people I’ve known for years, or for my entire life. I always feel like I’m such a weirdo and a dork.

As for these now-daily, or semi-daily posts, they were meant to be an experiment that was hopefully going to be useful for my mental health, or at the very least to act as a “cry for help”.  I think we can all tell just how wonderfully they’ve fulfilled either or both of those functions (not at all, in case that’s not clear).  I would laugh maniacally if I had that skill, and if I were not in the train.

I did get on the train, by the way, because it looks like they simply cancelled the previous one and ran the one I ride at its usual time.  This is despite the fact that the announcement said that the earlier train was just running 15 to 20 minutes late, which turns out to have been either a deliberate lie or an idiotic error.  I’m not sure which is better.  Probably neither.  I think it would be nice if the world had a greater preponderance of non-idiotic, non-mistaken non-lies.  They seem so few and far between.

Oh, I did mean to say, I at least got some useful walking in this weekend.  On Saturday I walked for about one and three quarters hours, and on Sunday for almost exactly two hours.  So, about 5-ish miles on Saturday and 6 on Sunday.  I’m actually rather stiff today because of it, but I’ve got to get into training if I’m going to go on an epic journey.  Bilbo and Frodo, though both were affluent hobbits, nevertheless were active, going on regular, long walks all the time.  So the sudden beginning of their lengthy quests was mainly felt in their decreased food intake, and of course, their exposure to deadly danger.  I won’t be so foolish as to say that sounds like fun, but at least it wouldn’t be meaningless and dreary and lonely…not for very long, anyway.

And there’s one true thing (at least one) about walking instead of riding or driving, and that is that you take in much more of the details of your surroundings.  Our ancestors all walked pretty much all the time.  Our bodies are built for it, more or less.  Yet the modern world has turned our natural mode into an inconvenience or a luxury.  That doesn’t seem like a recipe for good outcomes, all else being equal**.

Well, then…it’s hard for me to judge the length of my writing when I’m doing it on the phone, but this amount feels good enough for right now.  I’ll spare any dedicated readers the chore of dealing with more of my imbecilic thoughts, especially since you might have thought you were off the hook completely and for good when I didn’t write on Saturday.  No such luck for you, yet!  But don’t worry, that time is surely coming, and hopefully it won’t be long.

New Year


*Whether that’s good news or bad news depends on the recipient and his or her point of view, and also on my mood.  I veer between feeling it to be just neutral or frankly bad news.

**Which all else never is, to be fair.

The time is out of joint : O cursed spite, that ever I was blogg’d to set it right!

Hello and good morning, everyone reading this.  It’s Thursday again, and time for my more traditional, weekly blog post, that I’ve maintained for some years, unlike the daily one I’ve been doing in recent months.  I’m not sure how long I’ve been doing the daily one, now, to be honest.  It feels both like a short time—in that I can sort of remember the sense of when I started doing it and stopped writing fiction and stopped playing guitar—but also a long time in the sense that it’s difficult to feel the memory of it ever having been otherwise than it is right now.

All things can feel eternal sometimes.

Speaking of writing fiction, last Saturday I wrote a post in which I reminded people of the YouTube “videos” of me reading the first nine chapters of The Chasm and the Collision, as well as three, I think, of my short stories.  I don’t know if anyone has listened at all, but if you have, I would greatly appreciate any feedback you might have to offer, and if you’re interested in having me read any more.

Anyway, because I posted about it, I decided to reread that book, and I’m not quite halfway through the reread—I’ve been interspersing it with reading the latest Richard Dawkins book, Flights of Fancy, and then I’m reading Emmy Noether’s Wonderful Theorem, which I got after mentioning her earlier this week.  I think CatC has stood the test of time, at least for me.  I don’t feel too uncomfortable recommending it as a family-friendly book, a “fantasy” adventure for the young and the not-so-young alike.  I don’t know if it’s my favorite of my books or not, but I like it.

I like most of my stories, really, which is good, because it’s hard to tell if many other people even read them.  If anyone has read any of my books, having bought them from Amazon, I’d really appreciate if you’d rate them.  I’m not asking you to write a review—I know that can be a pain—but you can give it a star rating with only the click of a mouse or the tap of a finger.

I try to remember at least to rate every book that I read, but only once I’ve finished them.  That probably biases my ratings toward the higher end of the scale, since if I dislike a book enough, I’m not going to finish it.  But, really, I don’t know if I’ve ever read a book that I’d give one star, not even Swan Song, which I did not finish.  Somebody worked for a long time writing each and every one of those books, and the mental effort is not small.

Also, if there was a book so bad (to me) that it would be likely to give it one star, I think I’d recognize ahead of time that it wasn’t something I was going to like, and just wouldn’t buy it.  But, if you have read any of my books and think they only are worth one star, then by crikey, rate them one star.

I kind of wish I felt like writing, because both Outlaw’s Mind and The Dark Fairy and the Desperado are well begun, and I like both stories.  I’m a bit more attached to the former, partly because I’ve been working on it longer (though DFandD as a story idea is quite a bit older).  If anyone would be interested, I could post at least the beginning bits of the latter story here, like I did with Outlaw’s Mind, so you can see how it is, but I haven’t edited it at all (except the quick reread of the previous day’s work before writing on any given day), so it may be quite raw.

Seriously, though, I doubt there’s anyone interested in any of it.  I don’t know why I’m wasting my time.

Not that there’s anything else to do with my time but waste it.  I certainly have nothing useful to do.  Every day I feel like I want to slice my own skin off, or beat myself around all my major joints with a hammer, or maybe just break and burn everything I own.  Yesterday, at a frustrating moment, I honestly came perilously close to smashing the guitar I have at work, but instead I was able to take some of my stress out by just snapping a pen in my hands.  It was a good snap; it broke into four apparent pieces, one of which I haven’t found.  I guess it went flying.

Sometimes several times a day, on web searches and on my phone browser and in my contacts, I keep looking at the site and the numbers of the suicide prevention hotline.  But I can’t bring myself to use it, not after what happened to me last time I did.  I really don’t want to be handcuffed or locked up again, not ever.  I tried very hard all my life to do and be good and to do “right”, or at least not to do “wrong”, to live a life where I wouldn’t have such things happen to me, and yet they did anyway, and I lost everything I had that I hadn’t already lost.  I don’t want a repeat of that.  It’s not fun.

Also, honestly, I feel like I don’t have any right to ask for anyone’s help or to use any public resources (or private resources) to help me, though I need it desperately.  I don’t have anything to offer in return.  I don’t really think I’m worth saving, and I don’t think anyone else really thinks I am either.  It’s certainly unlikely that anyone will pine for me when I’m gone.

Well, that’s enough of that.  At least, for what it’s worth, I don’t think it’s going to go on for much longer.  I’m barely getting through each day, frankly.  But the days do seem to last for such a long time.  That’s that subjectively confusing sense of duration I mentioned earlier.

I do hope that all of you are doing okay, and that you’re in the company of friends and loved ones, and that you enjoy doing things with them, even boring, everyday things.  Hold onto that shit.  Seriously.  Nothing else is as important.  Probably.  Though, what would I know?

TTFN

[Apologies, but there is no picture today.]

A brief reminder of my “audio stories”

Well, I’m working today—as I will also be doing Monday—so, obviously, I’m writing a blog post.  Aren’t you excited?

When I arrived at the train station this morning, I thought the whole system was shut down somehow, because the “garage-door” style barriers were closed, blocking the stairs, the elevators, and the payment machines, like they do when there’s a hurricane coming (there isn’t…I check frequently).  However, it turns out that the guy who opens them just hadn’t arrived yet.  He only arrived after I had gone all the way down to the end of the station to the road to cross the tracks and had come all the way back up on the side on which I need to be.

Ah, well, it’s a little bit of extra exercise, and that can’t be too bad, can it?

I planned yesterday to mention the subject of some of my reading-aloud “videos” of my fiction, but the post got to be too long, and it would have been a very abrupt change of topic, considering I was writing about my difficulties seeking and finding and begging for help when one is circling the drain, as I am.  I haven’t gotten any useful answers, other than a commiserating one to the effect, “Whataya gonna do?  You just gotta keep on moving.”  I can respect that attitude.  It’s far better than someone pretending to have answers when they don’t.  But it doesn’t help me figure out why one should bother to keep moving.  I can’t see any reason, honestly, and the effort has long outweighed the reward for me.  I’m frankly skeptical that there is any reward at all, or that there has been one for some time.

Anyway.

Quite a while ago, I did some recordings of me reading some of my stories, and I turned them into videos, though the “video” portion is nothing but the cover of the story in question.  I think they came out reasonably well; I’ve always been decent at reading stories out loud.  But they didn’t and don’t get much play, even though they are a free way to listen to my (already cheap) short stories, which is why I stopped doing them.

I also recorded and uploaded onto YouTube the first nine chapters of my book The Chasm and the Collision.  This is my most family friendly story, since I wrote it with my kids—who were in fifth and fourth grades when I started it, I think—in mind.  It a story about three middle-school students who become caught up in a trans-universal “fantasy”* adventure.

Thanks to the very wise advice of my father, there’s not even a single curse word in the whole book, though there are scary bits, since there is real danger in the story.  Real danger to the characters, I mean.  I don’t mean to say that reading the story is dangerous.  It’s not.  My sister has read the book several times, now, and she says it’s her favorite of my stories.  As far as I can tell, it has nothing to do with the fact that she fell and hit her head earlier this week.

I recorded the first nine chapters, but I finally stopped doing it, because, as I said, no one seemed to be listening.  I thought it was a shame, but it was a lot of work to do the reading and then the editing of the audio (though it helped me learn Audacity, which was definitely worthwhile).  Since then, at various times, I’ve thought that maybe I would like to pick up on reading the chapters and uploading them, and then maybe even start to record and upload my other books, a bit at a time**.  I’ve also got a few more short stories and novellas that I haven’t recorded and uploaded, and they could be stand-alone “videos”.  But, again, it’s a lot of work, and it would be doubly frustrating if no one ever listens.

I’m embedding here, below, the YouTube video of the first chapter of The Chasm and the Collision, so that people can get a sample of it.  I’m also going to see if it’s possible to embed the YouTube playlist that is all the “videos” that I’ve done so far from that book, and maybe even the playlist that has the “short” stories that I’ve read aloud and posted.  Again, it’s a good way for people to get exposed to the stories*** for free.

If you listen and like them, I obviously would be delighted if you’d decide to buy them.  All my stories are available for Kindle, and my novels and collections are available in paperback as well.  My last collection, Dr. Elessar’s Cabinet of Curiosities is even available in hardback.  Here’s a link to my Amazon author’s page, so you can peruse them:  The Link.

If there’s more than one person out there who would be interested in hearing more of me reading my stories, please let me know in the comments below.  You can also leave story-related comments on YouTube.

Nowadays one can self-publish for Audible, which is kind of neat, but I think I’m going to stick with the YouTube format, because it’s more informal, and it’s free for listeners so they can introduce themselves to the stories, as read by the author.  I’m very self-hating in general, and that hasn’t changed, but I think my stories are pretty good, and I’m especially proud of The Chasm and the Collision, because I wrote it with my kids in mind—though I don’t think either of them has ever read it, and they probably never will.

That’s about all I have for today.  Nothing has really changed since yesterday, so there’s no other real news to give.  Have a good holiday weekend, for those of you in the United States.  And everyone else, I hope you just have a good weekend.

Here’s the embedding of those videos and playlists, if I can successfully do the latter:


*I put that in “scare quotes” because if you pay attention when you read it, you’ll notice it’s actually a science fiction story.  But the character of the tale is definitely more like fantasy than sci-fi.

**Boy howdy, wouldn’t Unanimity end up taking up a looooooong time?

***That makes them sound radioactive, somehow.  As far as I know, they are not.

The fickle moon, the inconstant moon, that monthly changes in her circle blog

Hello and good morning, all.  It’s Thursday again, the traditional day on which I’ve written my formerly-weekly blog for a few years now—I’m not sure precisely how long—and so, obviously, it’s time for my weekly, bog standard blog post.  Welcome.

I’m not sure that this will be much different from just the posts I’ve been doing semi-daily.  I suspect it will be less grumpy and irritable than the ones I’ve done the last few days, though I still am somewhat ill, and that fact influenced the tone of my previous two posts.

I don’t have any particular topic in mind, which is a bit of a shame.  My post about Blowin’ In The Wind has continued to be quite popular (relatively), even though it was rather long.  Probably that’s because it had a definite subject, but I can’t be sure what really makes it appealing.  There are no comments on the post for me to be able to discern readers’ reactions other than their “likes”.

I understand readers’ reluctance to comment.  At least, I have such a reluctance, myself.  Whenever I comment on almost anything*, whether it’s a YouTube video or a Facebook post or, more commonly, a post on WEIT, I almost always feel stupid almost immediately, all but certain that I’m just annoying everyone, including the poster of the video or the writer of the website (e.g. PCC(E)).  I almost always feel that my comments add absolutely nothing to the discussion and are just stupid, free-association, weird verbal tics that other people are just going to be confused by, at best, or will otherwise sneer about.

Then, if someone else replies to my comment and I see a notification of that fact, I start to feel tense and even nearly panicked.  I worry that I’ve landed myself in what’s going to be some drawn-out, stressful, potentially acrimonious discussion, and I can barely even talk comfortably to people I’ve known my whole life anymore, let alone relative strangers.  But I don’t want to be rude and not at least look at what’s been written.

So, I don’t take it personally that people don’t comment—except to the extent that I take everything personally.  But when I do, I almost always blame myself, so don’t worry about that.  It would be nice if I could have interesting and engaging conversations in the comments of my blogs, but I guess the blog itself doesn’t engender such things.  There’s not much to do about that except encourage people to comment if they feel like it.

So, by all means, comment if you feel like it.

As for other matters, well, there’s not much going on in my life other than this blog, work, and being ill at the moment.  I haven’t written any new fiction, nor played any musical instruments of any kind since the last time I mentioned not having written any fiction or played any music.

I did make a mildly amusing but very niche meme from that new, beautiful photo of the moon that those astrophotographers made.  It’s a very nice picture, I must say, perhaps the nicest image of the moon I’ve seen, but being who I am, I was reminded of a character in Stephen King’s The Stand, and so I added my two cents to it.  I’ll use that as my picture for this Thursday, so you all can either enjoy it or not, depending on how you react to such things.

It would be fun if the picture “went viral”, but I suspect my tastes are a little too weird for that to be likely regarding anything I find amusing.  Anyway, if anyone doesn’t understand it and needs clarification, feel free to let me know—but use the comments here to do that, please, not the comments of Facebook or the reply function on Twitter.  I come to WordPress every weekday, usually several times during the day, and obviously I note comments that are made on my blog.

I don’t even like to check my notifications on Facebook unless I’m feeling particularly mellow, because I feel thoroughly stressed out that someone is going to be chastising me for being depressed or something similar, which will only make me feel angry and more depressed, or saying something that I’ll find irritating, or whatever.  Facebook seems to bring such things out in people.  I don’t know the specifics of why, but the broad explanation is that it monetizes outrage, so of course people will be “rewarded” for acting in such ways, and this will tend to engender that overall attitude on the site.  For many people, outrage seems to be pleasant, or at least “ego-syntonic”, but I hate it, and feeling it makes me hate myself ever more with each new occasion.

So, to repeat, if you want to ask me a question or to comment about something I write, please do so here, and don’t bother doing it on Facebook, and probably not on Twitter.  Though, one-liner type jokes are decidedly welcome on Twitter!

That’s about all I’ve got—or “all I have”, to be more grammatical.  I’m really tired and near the bottom of the tank in general.  I really wish I could just go to sleep and stay asleep until I feel rested, or forever, whichever comes first.  The world in general feels to me like I’m being rubbed all over by sandpaper soaked in lemon juice that’s squealing with a mosquito-near-your-ear noise and giving off a smell of mildew.  Acid-covered sandpaper will tend to wear you down before very long.

I hope all of you, however, are feeling as well as you can.  I hope you’re getting at least some enjoyment out of the summer and getting to spend time with your families.  Labor Day (in the US) is coming up in less than two weeks, and I hope you’ll have family get-togethers, cookouts, and loud, happy conversations while the younger generation play outside and get dirty.  Have some burgers and hot dogs and potato salad for me, would you please?  But above all, please be good to those you love and to those who love you.

TTFN

that spells tom cullen


*Frankly, it’s true whenever I say much of anything at all to anyone, verbally or in writing.

The Inscrutability of the Relativity of Popularity

I’ve said it before, but I can’t resist noting again that, as I begin writing this, it is Wednesday morning at 5 o’clock.  It’s the beginning line of one of my favorite Beatles songs, She’s Leaving Home, as many of you probably already know.  And as people who know me closely—if there are there any such people anymore—will know, I love to quote lyrics and books and poems and so on.  But I particularly like when things in the real world evoke or even literally iterate the events of a song.

It’s liable to happen again if I keep writing this, since I generally get up at least this early, even if I don’t have anywhere I have to be.  My insomnia is rotten—or, one could say, it’s very good at what it does, though what it does is not very nice.

I’ve noticed a curious thing.  Yesterday, the post that I wrote in which talked a bit about the physics of black holes—asking some questions about it, among other things—got very few “likes”.  In fact, as of the last time I checked, it had gotten one.  It wasn’t especially long, for me anyway, and I thought it was interesting enough, but I guess it wasn’t appealing.

However, the quite long post I wrote on Monday, dissecting the Bob Dylan song Blowin’ In the Wind got oodles of reads and likes, even though it was about 1800 words long.  This makes it one of my longest posts, possibly the longest, not counting my sharing of sections of Outlaw’s Mind.

I’m happy that people still like “longer” blog posts and read them, at least.

I remember being told once that the optimal blog post length was about 800 words, which seemed horribly short to me to try to convey anything interesting.  It’s nice to know that estimate may be wrong.  I’m steadily disheartened by how little most people seem to read anymore, but even more disheartened to think that—possibly—most people have never been very inclined to read.  Perhaps social media isn’t drawing people away from reading but is simply giving them newer things to do instead of other things they used to do instead of reading.

If that’s the case, then at least I’m glad that there are some excellent YouTube channels with educational and interesting materials about science, mathematics, history, literature, and so on.  I have doubts whether anything educational ever happens on TikTok or Instagram or even Facebook or Twitter, though the latter two can at least be used to share links to educational articles or videos.  And I have seen some creative and hilarious TikTok videos.  These were shared with me by coworkers; I do not use TikTok myself, though apparently my music is available on it.

Referring again to songs, and specifically to lyrics, I often recall the words of the Steely Dan song, Reelin’ In the Years, in which the singer says, “Well, you wouldn’t even know a diamond if you held it in your hand; the things you think are precious I can’t understand.”  This is how I tend to feel about a lot of the world in general.  I really don’t get why some things are popular and some things aren’t.

Which is not to say that I understand none of these things.  Some works of art and music and science and whatnot are so broadly universal in their greatness that even an alien like me can recognize why they are loved.  The music of the Beatles, the works of J.R.R. Tolkien and Shakespeare, movies like The Godfather or Alien or the original Star Wars movies, the writing of Poe*, TV shows like Seinfeld or M*A*S*H—these are things that are enduringly popular (some more than others) and of which I understand the appeal quite well.

But I have no idea why anyone cares about the Kardashians**, or why the “music” of Cardi B is popular.  (This assessment is quite apart from the person, Cardi B, herself—from what I’ve seen, she’s charming and funny and seems quite nice, so I don’t begrudge her success.)

Don’t even get me started on wondering why The Donald ever became popular, let alone admired.  The man has bankrupted casinos!  These are places where people come and willingly—one could say willfully—give the house their money!  I, myself, have given my money to a few of his old casinos, and I enjoyed it quite a bit; they were nice, and I used to relish a little blackjack from time to time.  I’ve even been to Mar-a-Lago, quite some time ago, for an AECOM*** Alumni Association event.  It was a bit gaudy, but then, so is Versailles.

But it was horrifying when I was there to see accomplished, well-to-do, middle-aged-and-older adults fawning over the man, even gaggling about him looking for autographs!  I can kind of understand wanting a book signed by its author, especially if it has a “personal” message, or wanting to own an album that was signed by the Beatles, say.  But why fawn over a rather questionable**** businessman who is—admittedly—colorful, in more ways than one, but whose greatest skill seems to be surviving his own mistakes and passing the costs on to others?  And why in the world would anyone think he was qualified to be President of the United States?

Alas, humans are inexplicable to me in many ways—at least when I try to understand them as intelligent individuals.  It gets easier when I recognize them as a large population of unusually brainy primates, who, when you pay attention, are merely doing the stuff that all other lemurs and monkeys and apes do, just on a larger, more complicated level, and who fool themselves into thinking otherwise—it gets easier, but not more reassuring.

So, that’s a rundown of thoughts triggered by the fact that I don’t know specifically why my Monday post was apparently quite popular (relatively speaking), but my Tuesday post, which dealt partly with a bit of General Relativity (in a popular style, I think), was apparently not.  Maybe yesterday’s post is a slow-burner, and people will come back and read it in the future and will consider it some of my finest work.  I doubt it.  Honestly, I don’t truly think it’s some of my finest work, but I don’t think Monday’s post was either.

I don’t understand.  But why would I expect to?  I am a stranger in a strange land.  Your customs and your ways are foreign to me.

Maybe I should just go home.


*Though, man, you should’ve seen them kicking him.  Goo-goo-ga-choob.

**Unless you’re talking about the alien species that first appeared in Star Trek: The Next Generation and was more prominent in Deep Space Nine.  They’re not as interesting as the Klingons or the Romulans, but they’re way more interesting than a family that’s famous for the fact that its former patriarch had been part of O.J. Simpson’s defense team, and then for the rest of the family being rich but dysfunctional.

***That’s the Albert Einstein College of Medicine, not the infrastructure consulting firm, of which I just now became aware.

****Yes, he was questionable even back then.  And, yes, I thought so even back then, and well before.

This is the post that the blogger has made

It’s Friday.  I say that just in case you didn’t know (or perhaps in case you’re reading this some day other than the one on which I posted it, which is possible).

As usual, I don’t know what I’m going to write about today, but if experience is any guide, I’ll probably just write something anyway, and I’ll have more words than I ever intended to have written before I’m done.  You can all see how my book Unanimity grew to be more than half a million words long in its first draft.  I just write and write and write and write.

I guess it’s much the way some people just talk and talk and talk and talk.  I often do that, too, if it’s a topic in which I’m interested, and if there’s anyone around to whom to talk about it, but I often soon get glazed looks from other people, so I have to catch myself and shut up and walk away, chagrined.  When I’m writing here, there are no glazed looks to be had, and if anyone really isn’t interested, they don’t have to keep reading.  If they do keep reading, it must mean they were interested.  That’s a nice thought, in a weird way.

I’m going to write a post tomorrow, since I’m working tomorrow, but I may just share a video that I’m considering posting to YouTube.  I made it quite a few months ago (I’m not sure when), and just haven’t yet uploaded it.  I can’t recall what made me reluctant to do so, which probably means I didn’t have terribly convincing reasons.  It’s a silly video, but it was a bit of fun, about a comic-book-science idea I had regarding whether, perhaps, Superman’s powers were derived from solar neutrinos*.  I describe the process of my thinking, my “back of the envelope” calculations, and my conclusion, which will probably be obvious from the title of the video.  I won’t say more right now, but if I post it to YouTube, I’ll probably embed it here, tomorrow.

As for anything else, well, there’s really nothing else going on in my life as far as I can see.  I had a pretty good response (for me, anyway) to my blog post yesterday, in terms of number of people who came to read it, and that was rather gratifying.

It would be nifty if I could reach the number of readers that Jerry Coyne has for Why Evolution Is True, especially if I could get his level of engagement from readers who comment.  I read his website every day (except when I’m not working), and I often comment and almost always “like” the posts, which is not dishonest, because I actually like the posts I “like”.  It’s one of the few reliable refuges of sanity and intelligence that I have found in the world.

Yet, weirdly, even there, I almost always feel embarrassed after making comments, like I’m probably just annoying to PCC(E) and everyone else who comes to the site, and I really ought to shut up, if not for my sake, then for everyone else’s.  This is how I tend to feel about life in general.  Most of the time when I actively participate in anything, I come to feel that I’ve embarrassed myself and made everyone else uncomfortable.

Probably no one really notices, to be fair and to try to be rational, but it’s difficult when you can’t really tell how people react to you, or what they think or feel, and it seems similarly that other people are utterly unable to catch messages that I’m trying desperately to send, where I feel like my emotions must be written all over my face and be painfully obvious, but apparently, they aren’t.  Admittedly, when I look at my face in the mirror (I can only rarely tolerate it), I do usually find just a sort of non-expression.

It’s odd, isn’t it?  I can read Shakespeare or a poem I like, or recite movie lines and things and apparently do a good job of expressing emotion when doing so, and sometimes it seems that the only times I can actually feel my own emotions are when I’m singing a song that expresses them, but otherwise I can’t seem to convey feelings I’d really like to get across, and can’t seem to land messages that I honestly, desperately wish that someone would get.

I sometimes feel like someone from one of those Star Trek episodes in which a character is “out of phase” with the rest of the universe, or some other, similar such nonsense**, and I can see and hear all the other beings around me, but I can’t seem to reach them, and they certainly don’t quite seem able to hear or see me.

It’s not like being an anthropologist on Mars so much as feeling like an anthropologist from Mars.  Only, really, no one comes from Mars, so I must have come from someplace else***, but I don’t have any idea where it might be, or even if there is such a thing, a place to which to return, or fellow beings like myself.  Quite possibly not.  The universe doesn’t guarantee anyone that they will find a place that they feel they belong.  The universe only really guarantees one thing, and it clearly is not taxes.

Would it be better to be a mutant, unlike any other beings in the universe, or to be an alien that has lost its home planet, if that planet even exists at all, anymore?  What are your thoughts?


*Of course, Superman doesn’t actually exist, but it can still be fun to imagine comic book level scientific explanations for things that happen in comic books, and to try to apply a certain degree of scientific rigor to those explanations.

**Nonsense physics-wise, I mean.  The episodes can be quite good if you can get past the fact that the science fiction ideas are logically contradictory and physically senseless.  Good writing, directing, and acting really can make up for a lot.

***And I’m not an anthropologist except out of necessity.  If anything, I’m a misanthropologist.

En route.  En passant.  En Comète, en Cupidon, en Tonnerre et la Foudre

It’s Wednesday morning, but it’s slightly after five o’clock as I write this, because I’m moving a bit slowly today, and if you find that this post is more disjointed or peculiar or bizarre even than is usual for me, that may, like my slowness, be because my sleep last night was even worse than usual.

I’m almost always plagued by early and frequent wakening, as I’ve described before, but last night I had trouble even getting to sleep before one thirty in the morning.  Then, of course, I woke up starting at about two-thirty and then three-thirty and so on.  So I’m feeling very frazzled and fuzzy and mentally fatigued, and that may come across in my writing.  I’m not sure, though.  Maybe there won’t be any difference that the unprimed reader would ever catch.  Though, since I’ve given you warning, you may be more likely to draw the conclusion that I seem tired than you would had I not let you know about my worse-than-usual sleep.

We’ll never know now, will we?

I think maybe my sleep is worse than usual partly because I’m now sleeping in the “new” room that I’ve moved to, and perforce, my sleeping position is on the opposite corner of the room relative to what it was in my prior room.  Also, the previous residents had cats in the room, and I’m allergic to cats (though I love them).

Anyway, the transition is irritating, partly because I didn’t have a great deal of choice in the matter.  In the first place, I only moved into the house I’m living in now, several years back, because I was asked to move there by my now-former housemate, because he was moving there at the end of work release, which I was ending also.  His friend, Barry, was the owner, but he (the housemate, not Barry) couldn’t afford to rent it on his own.  The location is really not terribly convenient to where I work, as you might be able to tell from the fact that I can write a daily blog post—and before that, quite a few long short stories and several novels, including one very long novel—during my commute.

Nevertheless, as I tend to do, I adapted myself to the situation as well as I could, and became used to the commute and my schedule.  Then, of course, my now-former housemate became my former housemate, with all of a week-ish’s notice before he moved out, and then I had new housemates who were terribly messy, so much so that I retreated even more completely than before into my little room.  I could hardly stand even to pass through the kitchen.  I’m not the neatest and tidiest of people in the world, but this was just intolerable.  There were fruit flies actually breeding in the food they left out on the counter.

Anyway, they moved out, and the landlord wanted to rent the rest of the house as one unit, and so “asked” me to move into the back room.  Most people would like this, I guess, because it is a bit bigger and there is an “en suite” bathroom, but the shower is tiny, and I’m going to have to go out of my area of the house to use the kitchen (including the refrigerator) and the laundry room, into the area that’s supposedly being rented “en bloc” to the other people.  I also am going to need to enter and exit at the back of the house, walking through sand and dirt to get there.

It’s far from a concentration camp or anything, but I wish I had just rented someplace a lot closer to work in the first place, or taken up my father’s offer to stay with him and my mother and sister after getting out of work release, to do my writing and spend time with them in their final years and so on.

I elected not to do that partly because my soon-to-be housemate was counting on me, but mainly because I hoped that by staying in/returning to Florida, I would be able to see and spend time with my own children.  That’s a bit of an unpleasant joke, looking back on it.  My kids didn’t want to see and spend time with me; my son doesn’t even want to interact with me*.  I could have forced visitation, but by the time I was done with work release, my children were both well into their teens, and more than capable of knowing and expressing what their preferences were.  I was hardly going to try to use the law—of which I had become less of a fan than previously in my life—to coerce them to disrupt their lives when they would only resent it.

I’ve never felt it acceptable to force my presence on others if I could help it; I dislike myself too much to think I’m doing anyone anything but a disservice by pressing myself upon people’s lives, even from a distance.  I had, in fact, just expected that my kids would want to see and spend time with me.  This, it turns out, was a foolish notion, which is not unusual for me.  I don’t understand people very well, it seems, including even my own children, whom I love more than anyone or anything else in the universe.

So, I missed out on the last few years of my parents’ lives, other than phone calls, and I’ve continued to miss out on my kids’ lives, including their entire teenage years and now into their early twenties (so far).  My brother and sister are in Michigan and Ohio, in that order, and they have their own lives and families.  And I’m still here in what I refer to as America’s syphilitic penis**, commuting a stupid distance daily to a job where at least I honestly like my boss and many of my coworkers.

I’ve made good use of my commute to write my books and short stories, at least; indeed, I’ve always said to myself that my reason to work is just to keep me alive, which I only want to do so that I can write my stories.  But now I’m not writing fiction anymore, and I suspect I never will again.  I’m also not doing any music.  The whole situation has been a rather dull farce perpetrated upon me mainly by myself due to my inability to grokk humans.

Partly because of that, I had been unable (and indeed, unaware of the need) to protect myself against a legal system that doesn’t really care that I never wanted or tried to do anything but take care of people who were suffering from chronic pain (like I was and am), because everything the system did was merely the politics of shit-throwing apes, not the workings of honest, reflective, intelligent life forms seeking something like actual justice.  I’m also apparently unable to be able to maintain personal relationships with other people—these beings who are becoming ever more inexplicable to me, or so it feels, as is the world itself.

To be clear, the physics and math and chemistry and biology of the world, and all that, are comprehensible.  All that stuff is straightforward.  And I suppose human behavior is no more inherently bizarre than the bobbing and bounding of bower birds and baboons.  But I don’t think I’d feel very at-ease living with bower birds or baboons for long, either.

I certainly can’t “feel” human behavior, even though I can see and understand it from an outsider’s perspective.  I used to be better at it, but then, I used to be either the youngest of a family of five, or a member of a group of friends and/or college roommates, or the member of a family of first two then eventually four.  So I’d had my built-in groups from whom I could learn, and to whom I could adapt, and on whom I could rely to accept and even embrace my weirdness—I’ve always known I was weird, but I thought that was “just one of those things”, and not necessarily a bad one—and love me for who I was.  I thought I could rely on such things, anyway.

All of this was, as I think I wrote earlier, farcical and foolish, and I’d laugh at my past self if it weren’t for the fact that it’s not even very good farce.  It’s all just rather pathetic, really—and, as with its farcicality***, it’s not even very good pathos.  It’s all just rather unpleasant and tedious, even to me.

I’m tired of it.

Or maybe I’m just tired.  Maybe if I could get a good night’s sleep from time to time everything would be easier—easier enough at least to make it tolerable.

I doubt that I’ll ever know whether that’s the case.


*I guess I can’t blame him.

**Florida.

***Is that really a word?  Microsoft Word seems to think it is.  Go figure.

Is it really?

Okay.  Um…it’s Friday now, which tends to happen on the day that follows Thursday, and since yesterday was Thursday, I suppose it shouldn’t surprise anyone, let alone me, that today is Friday.

I suspect there are plenty of people for whom Friday is a good thing in and of itself.  Or, well, not really “in and of itself”, now that I think about it.  In and of itself, it’s just another day, with nothing to set it apart from the 1.6 trillion or more others since the Earth first coalesced and cooled and the similar number that will pass in the future, until the sun’s expanding surface envelopes Earth and reduces it to cinders and dust in the eventual ring nebula that our solar system will become.  But within our current social system, Friday is the end of the “work week” and the “school week”, and so for many people it is a harbinger of pleasant—albeit brief—times to come.

This will be my weekend off, meaning I won’t be working tomorrow (the office is never open on Sundays), so I don’t expect to be writing anything tomorrow.  I also don’t think I’m going to be making and uploading any videos, but that’s not unusual.  Eventually, I expect I’m going to do a bit of the latter for a while, though it probably won’t last for long.  If I do end up successfully following that plan, I will no doubt share/embed such videos here, for posterity and for the ease of my regular readers.

I’m sure that I’m not alone in feeling discouraged that there are so few regular readers out there in the world.  Has it been this way my whole life?  I feel that when I was younger there were more readers around, as a percentage, than there are now, but perhaps that’s a misperception on my part.  I lived in a family that embraced and celebrated reading; both of my parents read to me when I was young (as did my sister), and certainly my sister was (and is) at least as avid a reader as I am.  My brother is not as big a reader of fiction as I or our sister, but still, he read quite often when I was young.

I think my Dad didn’t read as much as he wanted to, because he worked a full time job, but his father was a big reader, and my Mom read quite a lot.  I remember she liked those Harlequin romance novels, but she also always loved mysteries.  And my family got three daily newspapers, at least for a while, and quite a few magazines.

Nowadays, even people who have good imaginations and who will want to tell stories and be creative in doing so are going to have a higher chance of being distracted by all the video media that abounds, and very few people will read, let alone write, long stories in the printed word.  Even things like Harry Potter became movies even before the whole series of books had come out, so though the books did bring many young people to the wonderful world of reading magical stories, I can’t help thinking that there’s someone out there who would have started reading the books and loved them, and maybe from there would have gone on to read more and other books, but didn’t because, thanks to the films, they didn’t need to do it.

Oh, well.  There is no gravity; the universe is just warped.

In front of me now, one the wall of the train, there is a (very nice) poster advertising* the National Suicide Prevention Hotline and related services.  It’s good that they promote it, and that they do it in such a way, trying to show a group of people from various walks of life, all of whom look glum, and above whom are symbols of things like heartbreak, confusion, pain, etc.  “Lonely?  Depressed?  Anxious?” it asks.  Then below, it tells us, “It’s OK to not be OK”. I have two minor and really pointless quibbles about this line, and I can’t help having them, despite the fact that it makes me hate myself even more than I already did.

The first quibble is with the split infinitive.  I don’t like split infinitives partly because, in many languages, it’s not even possible to split an infinitive**, and this includes the most broadly spoken language in the western hemisphere***, Spanish.  It’s not a terribly big deal, I guess, but I feel that in many ways writing “It’s OK not to be OK” would be at least as good, and in a certain emphatic, rhetorical sense, it might be better yet to write “It’s OK to be not OK”.  That last one makes “not OK” the state you’re in, as one phrase, and I think it really works for emphasis.

Never mind that.  The point that really got into my idiotic, dysfunctional nervous system was to note that, well…it had better be OK not to be OK, because it’s not like people get to choose.  If people could choose, no one would choose to be “not OK”.  Why would they?  It makes no sense.  Surely, if people could choose, everyone would choose to feel good and energetic and motivated and enthusiastic every day.

If people could choose, there would be no self-help books.  Who would say, “Hmm…today, I think I’ll dial myself toward the ‘depressed’ and ‘suicidal’ settings, just to change things up and keep from getting bored”?  If they could do that, why not just adjust the “boredom” dial downward and not be depressed and suicidal?

It’s a bit like saying “It’s OK not to be able to go the speed of light”.  Well, it had better be OK, because you don’t have any choice about it.  And though it’s more complex, you don’t have any simple choice in the previous matter, either.  It’s like I always want to say when I hear the Rush lyric, “I will choose free will”—No.  You won’t.  You either have free will or you don’t have free will, but you don’t have any choice in the matter.  It’s not up to you.

Of course, ultimately, I’m quite sure that the whole point of this most welcome poster on the wall is to say, in a concise and relatable way, that they know that people don’t have a simple choice about not feeling OK, and that people shouldn’t feel guilty or bad about the fact that they do.  It’s not a sign of weakness, or a fault, and even if it could be called such things, it’s not your fault in the sense of being a mistake or failure on your part.  It’s something that happened to you, not something you did.  And it’s OK to ask for help if you’re able to do that…though many of us are not…it’s one part of that thing that makes us not OK.

If you had designed and built the world and yourself, you might be personally to blame, but you didn’t and you aren’t.  Neither did any of the people around you.  So, try not to take at least that bit of blame and shame upon yourself, if you can help it.

Of course, when you’re depressed and suicidal, that’s a state of mind that can be hard to achieve.  Goodness knows I can’t seem to do it.


*Is that the correct term?  I guess it works.  I wish I had taken a picture of the poster; I tried to look for it online but have been unsuccessful…which doesn’t really help my self-esteem much.

**To do so in Spanish would be to split the word in a bizarre kind of tmesis.  “To not be” would roughly equate to “ha-no-cer”, but even that doesn’t quite capture the trouble.

***Based on number of countries, at least, in which it is the primary language.  I think one also cannot split infinitives in Portuguese, the primary language of Brazil.