Notes for the New Year

January 1, 2019

Taking time out from jumping between the “Big Hero 6” and “Twilight Zone” marathons to get my thoughts together for New Year’s. I stopped making New Years Resolutions around the time I stopped believing unplugging and re-plugging the computer was good virus prevention; it never works. But I’ve also been looking at my New Years Eve posts from the last few years, and I have o say I’m tired of saying “I hope thing next year will be much better than the crappy one we just had.” Granted that was true for a few recent years past, but I’m not sure 8-10 years in a row were all like that.

I am glad the last 5 months were better and more stable than the first 7 months of this year, and hope I can keep things stable for a longer period of time. I hope to get to know acquaintances better and deepen friendships all around. I hope we can all manage to hang on long enough to each other to see us through rough times, and we can be able to lend a hand if and when the need arises. We all eventually die alone; we don’t all have to live alone, isolated, or separated from others we love (or tolerate, I’m flexible). And I hope all my friends and acquaintances get to see some of what you hope for come to pass in the year ahead. Good luck to all of us in 2019.

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Mixed Bag

December 28, 2018

This year’s NaNoWriMo exercise was a bit of a mixed bag as results go. I was hoping to get more writing done than I did, which could be what happens when you have delusions of grandeur yet no action plan. But I did get things done which I hadn’t expected.

I was writing a play not a novel, so I couldn’t measure my progress by traditional word count, but instead by page count. That count wasn’t high at 6 pages, but the script has officially passed the 100-page mark, which seemed out of reach for a long time. It was also a trickier portion of the script because it had to set things up for the next scene (and the rest of the play without giving everything seat yet still reverberate throughout). That’s tough to do, but it’s definitely there now–with room to tweak if in need of improvement. While I may not have gotten far, I’m in good shape.

One goal of the month was to get a stricter routine to my writing, to get back into a good habit of writing daily, having good writing goals. I’m not sure it was fully accomplished but I felt wanting to write more than I had in a while. Writing didn’t feel like a chore, which is a major accomplishment. For the last few years, my writing felt like an obligation not a willing endeavor; that switched for me this year which feels closer to what it used to be for me a decade ago. Not sure how it flipped, but I’m glad it started. So that’s a plus.

Another plus is I’ve been keeping up with the radio show fairly well. Of the five Sundays in November, I had four new shoes air, including interviews of two separate organizations that I spent four months arranging each. I feel better about getting on track with that (with the exception of the December holidays). It’s still a lot of stress and pressure to do this  show as a one man operation, but I feel in a groove with getting shows our regularly. If I can get both the writing and the radio prep on the same tracks on the same time, I’ll feel more accomplished.

Habit or OCD

October 9, 2018

When I was writing screenplays, I had to find an artist/CD to compliment the writing. I often felt the music gave me/the script a pace and feel that made the writing flow and the script unique (yes other musicians wrote the songs, I converted the musical energy into my creative writing). I also tend to write longhand first; I find it helps later on when I revise as I transcribe to computer. The problem comes in when using a pen. Every once in a while I find, buy, or receive (sometimes steal) a pen that I like and use to write. I like to try use one particular pen per project. A lot of times I lose or misplace the pen, and have to decide between switching pens or continue writing with a different pen. A lot of my older projects have multiple pens, pencils, inks on the same page; lately it’s gotten annoying so that I need to wait and find the pen (though sometimes I cheat and start a fresh page of the same project in the same notebook). The pen thing gets crazy because I carry a number of different pens with me, and the pen usually goes missing on me in the bag I carry them in; I start over on the same project with a new pen, lose that pen, and find the first pen again!

When do these favorite writing habits become a disorder listed in the DSM-5? I prefer notebooks, but I don’t care about college or wide ruled; some people always have to write on the same type of paper. I started this blog entry on an insert of Sunday’s church order of service; some have to be in a specific journal. Yes different color inks on one story can be irksome to me, but it doesn’t always stop my writing cold. Some people have to write in a particular room of the house, or a specific time of day, or only use fountain pens. I have a definite vision of my dream writing room if I ever get a house (which might be never), but I write equally well on a bus or train. Where does the fine line between good writing habits and OCD occur? Does anyone else have issues navigating this?

 

Writing Something

September 29, 2018

I was going to write a blog entry about writing a page of my play finally. Something’s wrong with that.

Maybe it’s the quiet desperation of celebrating one page of writing done. Maybe it’s the need of attention to have done anything. Maybe it’s the long time in between pages of this project that irks me. I’m not sure it’s not exactly something worth celebrating. Maybe I’m not celebrating the writing. I might want to yet again talk about how I’m overcoming mental illness to get things done. That’s worth celebrating, but I tend to wallow in it and make more of it than I should. Maybe it’s simultaneously showing off and a cry for help; surprisingly I can do that. Maybe I just need another blog post to satiate readers. Anyway, I realize I’m not writing something that I’m fully into, so it’s best not to write.

However the one page written got me thinking about something: I need to get my process together again.

I used to be good with writing on schedule. After work, I came home and wrote; then dinner then wrote; take breaks for snacks, bathroom, etc. (though sadly including Facebook) when needed, keep writing before bed. I was good at it and I got stuff done. Even with taking Sophia on weekends, I still got things written. My financial and mental downward spiral and becoming a single parent was the one two punch that threw the whole system out of whack, and it never got back on track. I certainly never had another daily writing routine to follow again. I need to get some semblance of it back. To that end, I’m going to do the NaNoWriMo event this year.

I talk about whether or not I’m going to do it every year. It’s mostly for novelists, but I’ve done it for blogs and essays, as well as scripts. Knowing I have a project that I’d like to finish and needing to turn my writing back into a daily habit, I want to do the month right/write. Wish me luck.

Seven-Month Ordeal

August 27, 2018

It’s strange how everything you do that you hope will radically change things doesn’t.

The first half of this year was dedicated to moving to a new place. Actually more than that. The second we got back from New Year’s in Las Vegas—which seems like years ago already—we had to prepare for a Section 8 inspection of the apartment. We passed, but the inspector failed the building for the landlord to fix. Shortly after the first fail and before the follow-up, my landlord—actually the landlord’s daughter, because the real landlord was moved to a senior living center—told us she wasn’t going to renew our lease and wanted us to move out. She said the costs of the inspections they kept failing were getting to her. There was also talk of her getting out of property rental for a number of reasons. Whatever the real reason, we had to leave. First if was supposed to be March 31 based on the old lease, even though I signed the lease in late April; We later got it pushed back to May 1. Most of the pushback happened because Section 8 moved slowly in getting all our paperwork looked at and sent to me; only then could we look for a place. That brought us to late March.

Still finding a place I was in my budget and still in the Boston School district—I was not about to let her lose a spot in Boston Latin Academy—was near impossible. I found a lot of places but it seemed my credit score was too low and got in my way. Many people said that made no sense because with a Section 8 voucher the landlord is guaranteed their rent. However the credit checks help ensure landlords won’t take Section 8 holders. It’s against the law to discriminate against Section 8 voucher holders, but a low credit score gives the landlord an out: they can say the applicant was rejected for bad credit not because of Section 8 per se.

My past also came back to haunt me. My credit score was low (needed work actually) because I filed for personal bankruptcy a decade ago. It’s better, but it shows up on my credit score as well as weighs it down. Another big issue was my eviction from the boarding house in Everett. No landlord wants to rent to someone who has an eviction history, for whatever reason. So all that kept me from finding a place at a reasonable price within a reasonable time frame. And staying where I was wasn’t an option—even though it was; all I had to do was renegotiate the leave date with the landlord and Section 8 would cover it. The problem was staying put with that landlord was trying for most of this year by now. While she tried to appear to be a nice person, I felt she was being unreasonably intrusive in a number of ways (e.g. daily phone calls that bordered on harassment; demands to know if I’ve found a place and wondering how I’m looking, etc). After conversations with a friend who used to be in the building proved to me that this wasn’t al lin my mind: this is how she acts. The stress of looking for a place was hard enough without the downward pressure from a landlord, so May 1 was a firm move date for me.

When that day came and we still hadn’t been able to get a place to move to, it was a different stress. Where could we go? What would we do? Was I doing the right thing? Whether right or wrong, I made sure Sophia would be with family for as long as possible. On May 1, Sophia stayed with her brother in JP for a week, we moved out all the stuff I wanted to keep into storage and left the rest, then I went to spend a week with a friend of a friend in Weymouth.

The house hopping was another problem in itself. I had to find people able and willing to put me up for an allotted time and hope I don’t overstay my welcome (that happened a couple of times through my own circumstances to blame). Also I had to arrange for places for Sophia with family or have the place I hop to next take both of us. I could deal with couch surfing but I wanted to spare Sophia from that if I could. And I couldn’t. The second week Sophia stayed with her aunt while I was able to housesit in Medford for a friend from church. By this time my first real estate agent gave up and gave me back my money saying she did everything she could and couldn’t find anything for me. And I was still looking for a place to live permanently on top of all the temporary housing. I kept after online leads and called a few agencies and people who specialized in helping people like me in this situation. The third week we were able to stay with friends from church at their place in Haverill. All this time, I’m working because I can’t afford not to, but now the commute was about to get nuts. From Weymouth to Lexington by mass transit is hard, Medford to Lexington is circuitous but better, but Haverill was nuts. The only way to get Sophia to school on time (she still had school through the end of June) and me to work from there and then back again was to rent a car for the week. It was very tricky, but at least from the third week on, Sophia and I were together in the same place. We went from Haverill to Medford (for two weeks) then back to Haverill for the rest of our stay in limbo, but it was easier because we were in the same boat together, not in separate boats trying to survive.

For me, everything stopped. The only focus was finding and seeing rentals, work, commuting, sleep, and repeat. Somehow we made it to one protest against Trump’s family separation policy and caught Incredibles 2, but it was an exception to the routine.

Somewhere in mid June, my third real estate agent got a line on an apartment that would work. It was an apartment complex in Dorchester that wasn’t too bad (there were at least two places in Dorchester that were among the sketchiest areas I’ve ever been in). By this time we had been turned down by every other place we applied for (except for one in Roslindale that we both loved, but was slowly fading away). Once we got an approval from that landlord we had to go for it. Sophia didn’t want to move there because a car backfired right outside that sounded too loud and more like a gunshot than it should and scared her. There were other fears she had that I think came up in her past, but we had a long talk about all of it. That helped her be okay with the move.

Now we had to wait for Section 8 to inspect, approve of the place and have me sign all the paperwork before we could move in. By this time it was July and we were running out of time in Haverill quickly—they planned a large family gathering and we needed to be out by July 12. Luckily with a bunch of phone calls to different people (supervisors and other agencies), things fell into place. I got the keys on July 11, we moved in July 12.

Since then we’ve been trying to settle in, unpack, and get used to the place. Sophia has to deal with seven weeks of boredom because any summer plans for her were shot as of May 1. I know I had a couple of days off of work, but I couldn’t tell you when they were because I’ve felt busy and making up for lost time. I’ve been busy working, commuting, and putting out residual fires from moving and trying to coordinate multiple bureaucracies. We still have a way to go before we feel settled, but at least the seven month ordeal is over. It feels weird 75% of the time, but it is a better situation than I started the year with. I’m still as stuck as I was back in January, but it’s a different place. Hopefully things will get better when the school year starts.

July 25, 2018

Dearest Sophia,

I hope this letter finds you well in Montreal. I know you would much rather be down here bearing witness to this Second Civil War, but not even Boston is a good place for a teen who would identify as “Fake Media.” It was not an easy decision for a father to make but definitely a prudent one. It is better you are with your brother James and his family in the relative safety of the Northern lands with the chocolate dipped ice cream and poutine.

I am well. Not too much danger in the Green Zone of the Greater Boston/Metro West loop, but I fear for a lot of those in the dark lands between Worcester and Springfield. Not many venture past the 495 connectors, but those who do have returned with harrowing stories often set upon by roving hordes of people in wife beaters and red MAGA hats. Most are armed with improvised Harpoon IPA molotovs and bats wrapped with barbed wire (makes me wish Walking Dead wasn’t SO popular). Some are armed with guns, but aren’t very good shots if you’re lucky. Some are, and we’ve had a few casualties shot squarely in the ass. Some gang members from Dorchester and Roxbury are planning manneuvers to drive their numbers down sometime soon. They have been called “the 2nd 54th” after the first Civil War all Black regiment. I would love to see it but have other things to take care of. A number of us drivers from Mass and Vermont will blockade the last of Central Mass’ supply pipeline from New Hampshire. This would be the last of the holes to plug that would starve their supplies. We know their alcohol supplies are running low and most Massholes can’t shoot straight sober, so this would give us Easties and chance to push further west. We are hopeful.

Your brother Billy is doing fine as you have no doubt heard. His band of Antifa LARPers have been pushing wide swaths further and further south. They have met up with an active group of cosplayers in Rhode Island and have a lot of luck pushing down through Central Connecticut. There is talk of him teaming up with the NYC LARPs and cosplayers to take all of Jersey and parts of Pennsylvania. Listen for the action sometime in August. I know that’s when we’d normally do Boston ComicCon, but they’ve been mobilized that giant push. I don’t think the Dumpsters are mentally prepared to get their heads handed to them by hundreds of nerds in steampunk outfits, handmade Avengers’ costumes, and boffer swords. It should be pretty glorious to hear.

I got your care package. Thank you for the Deathstroke and Darth Vader bobbleheads. They look very good with our already growing collection. Love you much and hope we can be reunited soon at some point when democracy can overcome the crazy. Until then, please write again soon and say hi to Noah and the family.

Love always,

Dad.

Saturday was the day of action to protest “President” Trump’s “Zero Tolerance” immigration policy, which has had children and parents separated during arrest at the border, and both detained and/or deported separately. A federal judge has ordered the separated children reunited with their families within 30 days (14 days for children under 5 years old; over 5 and older must be reunited within 30 days), but the administration has no idea how to do this. Meanwhile children and parents crossing the border will no longer be separated–instead will be detained together with no clear process to get them out. So yeah, people were angry.

Normally we’d go to the Boston Common to join the protest, but we still haven’t been settled in an apartment yet and are staying at a friend’s house in Haverill. Luckily people of Haverill gathered to protest as well. This was a different one that Sophia was used to: people were staggered across 4 corners of an intersection, holding signs, chanting, and trying to get motorists to honk in support. It was in the 90s and humid, but we had water and Sophia had her cell phone. We eventually made it to each corners and supported those in custody and tried to get the word out.

Everyone there said the parade and Pride Day in Boston was awesome. I had mixed feelings about it. Sophia wanted to go and be in the parade and see it and see her friends from school and stuff, and I wanted her to have a good time. I tried to coordinate all her friends so we would wind up at the same place at the same time and Sophia would have a really good Pride Day. As it turned out only one of Sophia’s friends was at the spot we pointed out; everyone else were at different places. We got there early at 10:30am, which would have been okay had it not been already 67 degrees out. The march was to start at noon, was “fashionably late” as usual and left about 12:30pm, which then hit 90 degrees. Sophia was getting headaches and I was worried about her being dehydrated, but by the time I got her water and Tylenol, she got a text from her friends who were at a different start point in the parade. I should have made the decision to stay there with her one friend in the Elizabeth Warren supporters, but I listened to Sophia’s needs and we went after her friends near the middle head of the parade. When we started getting closer, her friends texted that they moved positions which meant the parade started moving. So we tried to catch up to a moving parade but realized it wasn’t going to happen and told  Sophia who was already winded that we could either go to the end point and catch the head parade there, or head back to where we started which would be the end of the parade and possibly go home from there. She chose the second part. We went back, got lunch, waited for some of the parade to pass–because our parking garage was in the middle of two points in the parade and we weer trapped–and tried to get our car. By that time I was hot, spent way too much money, and off my meds, so I was in a horrible mood, which affected Sophia’s mood (I think). She said she had a good time, which I’m happy to hear. She did also get a lot of behind the scenes photos of the parade.

Happy Pride month everyone. For Sophia, Pride month started early as the LGBT youth of Boston hold their Youth Pride March in May a couple of weeks before the official Pride month festivities kick off. She wanted to make sure we didn’t miss the event, held at the City Hall Plaza.

It was a gray day but a lot of rainbow flags; more than I knew existed. They have the standard rainbow flags, flags for bisexuals, transgender, even asexuality was represented with colors. She met up with her friends from her Rainbow Alliance club at school and joined the march, which circled the Commons, around the State House and back to City Hall Plaza.

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This part was pretty cool. A couple of homeless men who were asking for change saw the march come by. When they found out what it was for, they found some chalk used for another mural and wrote “You Are Beautiful” for all the marchers passing by. That got a round of applause and they got a bunch more donations. Now part of me is cynical enough to know that these homeless men were playing to an audience to get money they needed–which is probably true. But it was good to see the back and forth from the marchers to the homeless people. The kids gave coins, and a lot of bills; the two men posed for cellphone shots with the marchers. There was something pleasant from seeing two groups who normally struggle for acceptance and sometimes existence by themselves, now coming together and, for a brief moment, being a part of a self made community, each accepting the other.

Panic Time(s)

April 23, 2018

We’re at serious crunch time. My move out date is 9 days away and I don’t have a place to move into. If you read my last blog entry, you know staying really isn’t an option right now, but I need somewhere to go. It’s not that there haven’t been places, but they’ve gone to other people—lanlord’s choice, not mine. I am either between paralyzing anxiety and walking depression, neither of which helps me.

There are times when I hear myself say “I’ve never been this pannicked before.” Then I realize that it’s not true. This isn’t the first time that I’ve suddenly had to vacate a residence quickly. This isn’t the first time I’ve had to leave with no real place to go tet. It’s definitely harder with a child, but it’s not the first time dealing with that either. I’ve done it all before to one degree or another, and while it was hard, anxiety provoking, terrifying, and a breakdown of self on many levels., I made it through and got what I needed. A friend of mine told me, at a time of similar upheaval, that I am a survivor. Not that I didn’t believe him, but I was hoping to be able to do more than just survive. After getting through that time and knowing where I am now, knowing I can and will survive is a good things. I can navigate through Hell; I’ve done it before. Even if the path through is slightly unfamiliar, I’ve seen it in other forms already. I will survive this and make sure my daughter does too.

There’s a point where I need to make contingency plans and I know what they are. I have friends in my corner and that helps. Plus I am not giving up yet—I have a few places to look at and something will pan out. It’s very hard to be in the middle of this, but knowing my ability to get through all I have in the past means I will make it out of this too.