Sigh. Four thirty in the morning and my back still hasn't quit. The price I have to pay to do anything that's important. I now need to give myself recovery time and make myself take it, accepting that the heavy first part of it is also going to slow down my writing. That's incredibly frustrating.

Some things will change and some won't. There's no way around things like that unless I literally hired someone large and strong to carry stuff, would be well after the top success level. I did need it. I did look for it that long after I got the first one and missed getting a second one by only a couple of weeks, because A. C. Moore stopped carrying them. I'm going to hang on to it for a long time, because I went through a lot to get it.

I will get through all of this and I will kick my way so far out of that pit that I never fall back into it. That's the thing that gives me shudders. It was going back to the place, it was getting another idiot chewing me out and repeating himself over and over Those Are The Rules. Like prison. Only I didn't do anything to deserve prison. I was just born this way and I'm not a thief or a dope dealer or a murderer.

It's my own body. When it's my own body, how can I rage against an enemy? Is my spine an enemy? Is someone to blame for my spine or my leg? It just is. Bad things happen to good people. They do, all the time and there isn't one thing I can do about that one, though when I've got money, some chiropracty and professional massage will help a lot. Bet a massage visit would shorten my recovery a lot.

I just lose so much time to it. And when I'm feeling good and getting things done, I forget about that.

The Milgram Experiment - in my previous post I didn't give its background. In the 1950's, Professor Milgram, author of "Obedience to Authority" did a psychology experiment where the subjects were told they would assist in a learning experiment. They were given a buzzer with a dial that went from 1 to 10 with red caution marks around the top end. An actor sat in a glass booth answering questions and the subject was supposed to punish the "subject" actor with an electric shock for wrong answers. The real experiment was how much torture an average person would inflict on someone else if told to do so by someone with no more authority than a white lab coat and a notepad. About fifty percent of the subjects pushed it into the danger range when the actor complained of heart problems and acted as if he was having a heart attack. Milgram was trying to understand why average people went along with things like the Nazi government. What he proved with it was that it could be average people anywhere doing what they're told by people wearing symbols of authority.

And people who've read about the experiment and thought about that moral choice on any level are far less likely to make THAT choice in real life situations. It's an important book, even if it's old.

We make up the Rules or allow them to get set up by people who have their own interests, and we are all responsible for The Rules and the way people are treated if they wind up in trouble. We always have choices, even if sometimes they're ugly ones - or seem so.

Robert and Ari >^..^<


Site problems continue over at Forward Motion. I blew the Death Challenge and went over by six words on one post that was in the classroom area, response to a critique. I was also nerving myself up for Round Latest with the therapist, though the good news on that front is that it's been three months.

That's long enough to document it. That's long enough to have it on record.

It broke my heart about Marti Kellerin. It didn't about the other five posts, I actually picked expendables and had fun with them, even helped out a couple of people with elimination of unwanted characters. Zapped a friend who put up an entire continent for the slaughter because she didn't want to have to name it - I wrote this James Michener style geologic history bit and broke it in half, leaving her two continents to name.

That threw me off my stride. I had gotten to 398 posts before I slipped on one of them and had reached a point where it was habit, and where I trusted myself. I had a lot of pride in it. I had a lot of confidence in myself overall because I'd managed to do that - and then lost that, it's a lot harder to post now because I'm strangling it before I get it down. I need to kick away the Inner Censor. Essentially what I've been doing is editing and putting final drafts of every post now - and that means the brainstorming aspect of posting on a message board is gone. I can't just relax and focus on what I'm talking about. It's much harder to do it now that I don't have some overwhelming reason to want to succeed. Damage control isn't as inspirational as striving for a goal.

I'm entitled to a whiny blog once in a while. I need it. After I bawled my eyes out over another writer cutting whaa, 150 words or so out of her novel when I know she's so good she could snap off another character that memorable in a minute (yes, Holly Lisle is THAT good - she did this with the side characters in Vincalis the Agitator too and you FELT for every one of them!) I realized that was also something I was using to keep my eyes off of a lot of things that I don't dare look down.

You know, like roadrunner will zip over the crevasse without looking down?

I had to look down the day it happened, and that day was one of the memorably nasty ones for my day job as a cripple. I put up with things I shouldn't have to in order to survive. One of them was getting chewed out for an hour and a half long cab ride by a cab driver who saw my package with the bookcase. I had gone to immense efforts just to get the bookcase in and out of the office and to conserve back damage, dragged it with to the appt. instead of up to my apartment on the High Killer Hill. It was on sale, Alison my case manager (who saw my apartment) was glad to toss my lunch money into it and off we went and it is a wonderful folding bookcase, small, three shelves and solid as it gets. I underestimated its weight based on the other one I already had - this one's solid real wood and will probably last longer. It's even varnished, not unfinished but just nice light natural wood.

So I moved it to the cab balancing it on its corners to walk it. If you're not strong and you have any back problems, or even if you're just tired and have to move something like furniture, walk it, throw your weight from side to side pivoting on the corners. Chances are you've done it, but if someone reading this blog hasn't, that is the most efficient way to move something too heavy to lift.

"What's that?"

(grunt) "It's a bookcase."

"You can't take that on this cab. Nobody told me you had a package. This ain't a Medicaid call if you got a package." He got ugly fast.

The change in his expression when I told him what it was told me the whole thing. THis guy was six foot something or so, at least six two or three with the build of an athlete. I explained quietly why I had brought it with instead of trying to make it to the appointment after wrestling it up the hill. He then proceeded to rant about how I was cheating his company and how he ought to just stop and put me and the bookcase off for about half a hour. Past a certain point I just numbed out and stared out the window. He cranked up the radio, R&B very loud.

I might have acquired a taste for R&B in another venue, another life, if I hadn't lived through what I did. That music especially played loud will always mean the shelter for me.

He capped his rant with a word for word quote from oh, all of the staff but the handful who were actually reasonably respectful of residents. "Those are The Rules."

Who makes up these Rules? When I hear that a blood-deep rage starts to boil because "Those are The Rules" comes right out of the kind of mindset that created the results of Dr. Milgram's chilling experiment in "Obedience to Authority.

That phrase is a keyword for a situation where no one is responsible for any of their decisions, yet at any level someone can power trip and throw their weight around and pick on you.

His timing was psychologically chilling too. He had another rider - usually the Medicaid runs you wind up getting dragged along on a couple of other runs. He had a guy in there staying at the same shelter I'd been and he started up the rant again and added The Rules while we were on the grounds. I have to admit it. I was sweating and white knuckling that boxed bookcase that seemed to symbolize everything about the life I'm building for myself. A bookcase is not a luxury for a writer. Having my reference books organized in reach is part of my job, my work, my hope, my career.

Mind games.

All because he felt small because I read books and needed a bookcase. This man who's got a good job and a healthy body, I would love his job. I'd get a kick out of being a cabbie. I like driving. I'm garrulous and sociable, it would be a hoot doing his job. The kind of day job that gives you things to write about. I'm just not capable of it because there are too many days I'm not capable of getting out of the house, because it would wear me out physically. What would slaughter me would be getting in and out opening doors for people, which I'd feel obligated to even if they're not always that way.

And all this after another noncommunicative appointment with a therapist who alternately termed my writing my "rehab, not like it's from drugs or alcohol but it's rehab" and my "aspirations." She asked "What would you call it?"

"My job. My career." That bluntly. The look on her face just changed, she is so rattled by me because she'll go off into her own ideas of what is important or not and then every now and then gets a reality check. She looked embarrassed, very embarrassed. This happens half a dozen times a session. Like the day she was so concerned about my pain and started talking about my feelings and that and I told her "No, it's my back. I'm in pain. It is hard to think when I'm in pain."

I don't know why it's so hard for therapists to actually understand and remember what you've said. Why, when you define the problem, are clear about what the problem is and honestly want to work on the problem (dealing with disability, getting over PTSD and phobia of doctors, panic attacks, sleep problems, nightmares and depression) that they'd rather make up a set of standard assumptions for the reasons for it. We've got that problem of her assuming I have problems I don't and not seeing the problems I do have, which top of the list includes extreme stress levels in day to day life.

Well of course, if I was making six figures a year and came in wearing a $5,000 suit then "stress" would make sense to her and she'd shift tracks - and still go fishing for ideas, attitudes and common stupid ideas that I threw out years ago and had to, just to survive.

There is this thing in psychology about self esteem. That people who have low self esteem beat on themselves too much. It's true and common as crabgrass because throughout day to day life in most of the US, people are picked on constantly and do by default often take the opinion of critical other people as having more weight than a) their own, b) tangible measurable achievements, c) anyone who likes them and d) anything else. The mind games are boggling. But what happens to most people in that situation is that they do internalize what the people who don't like them are saying about them to them.

I do not hate myself.

I don't know if I ever did except during brief times when applied social pressure completely broke me down, when being surrounded by people who hated me, I got outvoted. I get over it pretty fast, because usually the people who hate me most don't even share the same ideas of what's right or wrong or good or bad. The conflict with a group that hates me is often one that they will see something I take pride in as an achievement, like my independence, as something wrong with me. I come off as stuck up, arrogant and snobbish when I'm not, to people who are jealous.

To me living inside this life I've got some things going for me that are either luck, like my intelligence, or hard work and cumulative results of a lifetime of same, personal achievements. I'm not going to whuffle and shuffle and say those mean nothing, because there are also a host of ordinary day to day things I can't do or keep up with, like cleaning out my refrigerator. I got half of it done this morning. That wiped me out for half the day. I did not get the best winning hand in the world or the worst bum luck. I've seen both and I ain't it.

I wound up with a mix of extreme luck on both ends and so it's a little weirder than most. But I gave up trying to be and behave and believe like everyone else at a really young age. There was nothing in it for me. That simple. There was no reward to being just like anyone else, that was just cutting off all the good in me and still not being able to keep up.

I blew off a few other things as not worth the consequences along the way. It makes life strange, because the map of the world that the people around me in real life has is so different that it might as well be another planet. If it's The Rules, will someone bother to notice who makes the Rules? That in a democracy we are all actually responsible for what The Rules are?

This therapist keeps talking about "safe" and making me "feel safe." Yet every single time I say something to her and it's misunderstood, the risks mount up. Risks that aren't paranoid ideation but bitter real experience. She seemed to expect that her saying that would make me trust her? That I would put more weight into her motive than into the results? I have had real losses in my life and major problems caused by overprotective people who only see the weak side - and who don't want to see anything but my weaknesses. That doesn't leave me feeling safe at all. It leaves me talking to her cautiously, desperately trying to put things into simple words easily understood, to communicate. When she doesn't like the answers, it gets ugly.

The price of that bookcase is a dysfunctional relationship I didn't need in my life and the weight of educating someone who was supposed to be there to help me. When she lacks context and 90% of what I need to deal with in there is outside either her experience or her reading.

People like me don't usually wind up in shelters.

They wind up in craft fairs selling jewelry or out on the street reading tarot cards or painting and living on low incomes. They wind up living in artistic-poverty neighborhoods that are colorful and most of the businesses are open late at night - but not high crime zones. It's a whole different social class at exactly the same economic level as the Welfare-Crack underclass and the single biggest difference is that all those artistic poor are dreamers with real hope of eventually getting out of the being broke aspect of it. Often without a great respect for money as status. Money would not cut it as status around Jackson Square, you could be rich and go in as a tourist but you would be that until you actually did something yourself. With money you could slide into the role of patron easily enough, but then you'd wind up having some favorite artists and you'd wind up participating on that level and boosting careers and that's part of it too. And anyone who did that and acted like a jerk would start reaching a point where most of the artists didn't think the money was worth it. To pursue anything like that, you have to let go of "money as the score." It has to be worth doing in itself. It has to be what you'd do if you didn't have to worry about money and the State Lottery dropped all the money on your back.

I need to remember that I belong to that class and that if I were perfectly healthy and doing night security work or whatever instead of this "day job as a cripple" I would still be doing what I'm doing with this much intensity. I need to remember that I'm running to, not running away. Sigh. Sometimes it would be nice if my life didn't look like I'd make a good MC for someone's novel.

Aww. Got my hand bopped with a soft fluffy cat tail. There are reasons I put up with it, and love is a big one. I have this beautiful cat in my life and I did that for him too. We are not getting evicted. I will stay the course on the one I have to win as well as the one I want to win.

Robert and Ari >^..^<


Site Trek: The One With The Whales continues. What do whales have to do with it? Not much but it might be amusing to imagine a well known pro author in a bathrobe and a headband diving in a whale tank trying to filter out some intelligible content from all that gossip about krill...

And in another universe, a few stragglers still can't get into Forward Motion but another feature of the movie I'm parodying was a campfire singalong and that's going on at the Refugee Board, lobby entrance with one thread on it. Ari gave stunning renditions of two Gilbert and Sullivan songs, his own special adaptations assisted by a chorus of Zette's cats.

Holly's done some tinkering backstage that's making it easier to get into the site and filed a complaint with the Better Business Bureau. She also received an amusing email back from FeaturePrice that shows the extent of a well known human phenomenon: denial. Someone over there doesn't understand why she'd want to leave. Yeah. Right... one for the record books there...

Background to the difficulty: FeaturePrice has a throttler set up that effectively starts blocking site access with a snide 404 error message "I got bored waiting for your request" anytime too many users start accessing the site all at once. Say, for a class or a workshop or a scheduled event. It could handle the bandwidth technically, but only if it were all evened out and events weren't well attended. It will also throttle if there's too much traffic on the other sites they host, so if you tried to get in while some other site was having a scheduled event - rotsa ruck.

This logistic problem did NOT get explained in the initial setup and started happening immediately, resulting in more and more cutbacks to page size and features, just to keep the site going till we got a better one. Most of those features, like avatar pictures under 5k on posts, are very nice and we like having them on Jatol, the new host. This probably sets an example for site hosting companies: Bother to read the complaints file. Some customers are likely to take a thirty day trial as a thirty day trial and leave, requesting a refund, if their real needs are not met during that trial by your setup and the technical support isn't there. Sometimes big, big customers do that. And sometimes the big, big customers have a lot of members who will spread buzz in general about whichever you do, whether it's good support or bad support.

If they cleaned up their act this week, they're still sunk cause it's on record now and who knows how much more business a few hundred active writers would've brought them?

Is this why dotcoms fail?

That bad business practices get quick, nasty, sharp results and downturn in new customers?

Interesting thought, isn't it? The long term strategies work. If Webseed, which hosted selfhelpforwriters for most of a year, came up with a new product or a new service, I would definitely check them out again. I'd trust their support department to be helpful and timely, I'd be informed about bugs that came up as they did and if they had to change or cancel the service, I would know why... and get enough time to find it elsewhere. Thank you again to Webseed Publishing Network. Some of what you folks did online stuck, and if my site flourishes in its new emagazine format - y'all helped create it by hosting the way you did.

Speaking of SelfHelp, I definitely need articles, stories and humor for the first issue in the new format. Please read the top article at http://www.selfhelpforwriters.com - it contains the new guidelines - and send your submissions to selfhelpforwriters@yahoo.com - watch this blog for updates as I start formatting that issue, putting it together and setting up archive files for the earlier articles. It's going to be great!

Robert and Ari >^..^< (Hey, it's not hot this time of day! Oooh bounce time!)


There's Cling-Ons Off The Starboard Bow - Scrape 'Em Off, FM! - Seems like FeaturePrice, the just for a month host for Forward Motion still thinks it's hosting the community, they tried to move the site back to their servers? This is causing interference for active and lurking members, some of whom still can't get in long after the point the DNS should have propagated. Errors and problems abound, it ain't a pretty thing.

Site Trek continues, persevering like the writers we are.

Monthly Marathon continues too! 10K and away, the Ziriavan worldbuilding file exploded into planet cracking danger right under those locals' noses and they've been selling off the safeties as used building materials for years, the catswool stuff has embedded partial demon signs and who knows what all else under the surface. It only looks quiet and not so magical. Heh. Good fun worldbuilding stuff and NOW there's inherent conflict. Class homework done, best that I can do it so far before the one allowed rewrite (which I'll collect more crits before doing).

Toshi arrives tomorrow! UPS tracking number! Whoohooo.... and so tomorrow I stay up during the day till I have a package!

It's getting a little hot but not as bad as it was, think I might go get some sleep since 10K is a good solid middling figure for this marathon, I could easily have done the 15K if I were in the middle of a novel but I'm not. I am planning one and haven't started any of the actual writing.

Chat Update Chat is sometimes floating in the N54 chat and sometimes in Conference Chat on the new Jatol site, somewhat depending on mood of hte moment or on whether a straggler can't get to Conference Chat. Try both if you're looking for Forward Motion chat. Links are posted on the Refugee Board, which you should get in any direction.

Hmm. I haven't slept. This is probably a good thing for staying awake tomorrow, but, it's getting to the hottest part of the afternoon and there's a class type chat at seven and it's four now. Hmmm. Stay up all through? Better put the other fan on...

Robert and Ari >^..^< (Aiming that antigremlin turret again and loading it with colorful Special Effects Shells now!)