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?

 

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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.

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.

Time with Friends

January 5, 2018

Funny little vacation. We went to Vegas because two of my best friends live there and I saved enough last year to visit them. While the one friend we stayed with has known me and Sophia for at least 14 years, the other friend I wanted to see has been my best friend since freshman year of high school some 34 years. When we were both about 35, I bought us both tickets to Vegas to celebrate 20 years of friendship and our birthdays. It was a formative trip—despite constantly getting lost while driving—and it impacted him enough to move there when he left NYC. However I never realized how much that trip impacted me until I got there with Sophia.

A lot of the places we went to 14 years ago are gone, and the strips have changed enormously. I know this because I kept telling Sophia about it every place we went, and wouldn’t shut up. I’d talk about all the things we did, the places we went, and where they used to be. When we did meet up with Will, it was like old times for both of us, except for meeting Sophia for the first time, and we got a local’s eye view of the area.

But going to Red Rocks Canyon sealed it for me. Originally, I was going to take Sophia to either the Grand Canyon or Zion National park. When I realized it was four to five hours traveling time to get there and back, it was going to be Zion. When I woke up with the cold my daughter had and I was fighting to keep from getting, Red Rocks was a happy substitute. Will and I went to Red Rocks that trip 14 years ago. It was fun—eventually, in time. We hopped around a bunch of the rocks on one of the trails, then got seriously dehydrated and delirious trying to hike back to the car without water. This time I made sure we had extra water and not stay out in the sun too long.

A lot of ghosts were playing with my head as Sophia and I hit a short trail further up from where Will and I were years before. I was so happy to be climbing on rocks and steppes with her, more cautiously in my age but still out of both our comfort zones. I could feel the past reverberating through th present, very conscious that I was reliving an old adventure with a new partner in tow. Reminiscing made the new time even more special.

When the New Year rolled around on the West Coast, I was saturated with nostalgia. I used to always go to New Years with the friend I was staying with in Vegas, but this would be our first New Years together in at least 5 years. Getting both of them together for the first time in person, even though they’ve been Facebook friends for years, was a real trip. Two friends I’ve spent many times together with my daughter welcoming a new future. Rarely do past, present, and future intersect so vividly and I hope we have more like them.

 

It’s one of those times when I can’t complain about things. Work is good, Sophia is doing fine in school, writing is slow but steady, I’m sticking to my meds regularly, getting sleep, and making gym a habit. Things aren’t bad. So why do I feel like my head is about to explode from stress?

For the last few days, I’ve been anxious for no obvious reason. Nothing is going wrong but I’m under this overwhelmning feeling of dread. At church, they had kids (and any willing adults) to light a candle of gratitude for something. I fought off the urge to go up and light a candle to be grateful for Ativan.

I honestly can’t think why I’m on edge. Ages ago, my therapist told me I’m always waiting for the next shoe to drop. While I’m not waiting for a shoe to drop, I still am dreading something and have no idea what or why. Maybe I’m nervous that I’m doing okay. Maybe it’s because I think I’m not doing enough—even though I’m doing plenty. Maybe it’s the nature of mental illness and how it ebbs and flows from dramatic heights to stiffling depths. Maybe it’s a lot of things. Either way, I feel off.

I hate it, I’m used to it, and I hate that the only thing I can do sometimes is ride it out. My anxiety isn’t a curse or a gift, but it’s an ever present source of annoyance. It doesn’t stop me completely, but it slows me down considerably. Still I move forward one step at a time. It feels like molasses but I’m moving.

10-Word Story Challenge #3

November 14, 2017

I’ a little behind (okay WAY behind) in getting these out, but I’m still doing them. These are published here as posted on my Facebook page. All stories are credited to the author; unmarked entries are my works.

Blind Dates

“Her rusty blonde hair matched her seeing eye dog’s.”

“Is this her?” He thought. “Please, not him.” She thought.–Gregory M. Bruce

“Oh, great! Short in stature and on manners. Cheap, too!”–Gerri Hancock

“After creepy intimacy, neither knew the other’s name, nor asked.”–Heather Munn

“Through dinner and drinks, we never glanced past our phones.”

“I like red”. “I like green”. “We complement each other”–Rod Cummings

They didn’t say another word. They knew it was over.”–Gregory M. Bruce

Their love was truest because neither could see the other.”–Rod Cummings

Dad! You’re my Tinder Date?!?!?!”

It was a blind date, but I needed the blindfold!”–Marc K’urlii Eytina

As she gazed upon his face, rage swelled within her.”–Joel Araujo

It was clear that he could turn heads and stomachs.”–Gerri Hancock

“Exactly what made you think she was MY type?”

“The lobster and wagyu surf and turf, please” “Goodbye ‘–Rod Cummings

She turned the corner. Was blind, but now I see.”–Scott Will

“Cousin Jenny! Why are you–?” “I think I’m your date?”–Rod Cummings

“The waiter, in an act of pity, comped my meal.”–Gerri Hancock

“She was cute, but her mother was HOT.”

NaNoWriMo, Hmmmm?

October 23, 2017

It’s that time of year again when I need to figure out if I’m going to take part in the National Novel Writing Month­—or NaNoWriMo—at all this year; and if I am, figure out what I’m going to do. This year it’s a fairly easy answer to the first part, Yes, and I know what project to work on.

For the last few years, I’ve been trying to turn an old web series video project into a full length theatrical play. I had enough of the series started to give me pat of the first act, and I had to get the rest done. For the better part of a year, I’ve been stuck on the first scene of the second act, making very little headway. I went back to look over some of my original notes (SUPER helpful) and, since I now have a better idea of where to go with the play, I decided to jump start the process by committing to at least one page a day for the NaNoWriMo. It’s there to spur on creativity and the writing process for millions, so I might as well take advantage of it. Is it a novel? No, but a good play reads like literature and I’m moving ahead with that.

Actually, I didn’t know about Script Frenzy for screenplays and plays back about ten years ago. They do their writing for April. At the time I wasn’t in the state of mind to take that on, and it has now been defunct since 2011—pretty much near the height of my mental collapse. The NaNoWriMo is still going strong and any writing is good writing, so might as well take advantage of it while I can. I will be avoiding the NaNoBloMo—National Blog Posting Month, same November month—as I don’t want to overload myself.

We’ll see how all this goes. Not going to post updates or page/word counts as many do, but I will definitely assess things at the end of the month.

This was my Facebook status last weekend:

To ALL African-Americans out there,
I voted for Jill Stein in 2016,
and it didn’t matter because
it didn’t help Trump get elected.

Some Background: We all know the events of last year’s presidential election. Hillary Clinton got 65.9 millions votes to Donald Trump’s 62.9 million yet lost the electoral college by 77 electoral votes. I didn’t vote for Clinton, voting for Jill Stein hoping to get the Green Party to 5% to get matching funds in future elections. That never happened as she only got 1.6% of popular votes and no electoral votes at all; yet that still hasn’t stopped many on the left from blaming her and/or those that voted for her for costing Clinton the election and giving Trump the presidency. If the 2,395,271 voters–or 1.7% of popular vote–had cast a vote or president had gone to Hillary, she would have won. Or if the 46% of eligible voters who stayed home instead cast a vote, she might have won. There are many more ways Clinton could have won, but somehow it’s the Green Party voters that did it.

But this election has been analyzed and as depressing and bruising as it was why bring it up again now? Because Hillary wrote a book about the campaign. Titled “What Happened” Secretary Clinton recounts, in her estimation, why she lost the presidency to Tiny Hands Trump. According to the review in the New Republic, “this book is precisely what her critics predicted it would be…When Clinton does discuss what went wrong, it’s mostly to point fingers.” From the leaked pages criticizing Bernie Sanders, it was pretty much how I thought it would go. With the release of the book, a lot of unhealed wounds from 2016 were ripped fresh and people were arguing like it was the day after the Democratic Convention.

To that end a friend of mine put up a Facebook post defending Clinton in that progressive men were berating her for writing a book, asking “if you wanted Clinton to stop Trump, maybe you should have voted for her?” So with my own hackles admittedly up and unnerved, I commented “I’m berating her for blaming everyone but herself for her own loss. And that’s when the trouble began.

My friend had a “troll”/friend–a liberal “progressive” who got on my case for supporting and voting Stein over Clinton. It went back and forth for a while, but I got pissed when he said I wasn’t a “real” progressive while implying I also wasn’t a real “Negro.” I know, I know, I should have cut my losses at the word “negro” (his word, for real), but he caught me WAY off my scheduled meds, so the full Brooklyn experience was in full effect. When he countered that no one in the African-American community would agree with my decision, I put the headline above as my Facebook status. It was a middle finger to his challenge, even though I really should have taken a few deep breaths and walked away. I got some support and some arguments on the post, but one good point made out of all of them: why are we still having this debate when we should be working on fighting the current administration?

My friend is absolutely right (as she usually is). I got sucked into a blame game when there’s more important work going on or that needs to be done. It doesn’t even matter how many of my friends are with me or not, as long as I’m arguing with internet trolls whose opinions are meaningless to me, I’m wasting my time. Rather than bother with it, I’m writing it out of my system and letting it go. I couldn’t care less what he was trying to prove, I don’t care what others I’ve never met feel about my choices, the fact is the election is over and we need to get to work and fix things. Everyone wants to hold onto grudges because it’s easier to look backwards than it is to move forwards.

Consider this: my status headline soon after the first one was the following:

Ten Things the Drumpf Administration has done while We’ve been talking about Hillary’s Book.

The comments included links to things Trump did from the Tuesday when the book pages were leaked to the Tuesday after the book was released (see the links below). Granted more has happened since I posted the links, but that’s why we need to pay attention. Clinton’s book should be treated for what it is: another big distraction keeping our minds off of real problems.

I can’t guarantee this will be my last troll battle on the internet and it’s not our first, but each time it gets easier to ignore the insects and keep moving forward. Haters are gonna hate and I can’t do anything about that except remember not to make their drama yours.

 

What Trump Has Done While We’ve Been Arguing About Hillary’s Book.

White House to Lower Refugee Quota Below 50,000 

Trump Ends DACA

Trump Pushes Tax Reform After Response to Hurricane Aid

UN Pushes Sanctions on North Korea

State Department to Close Guantanamo

State Department Approves $3.8B Sale to Bahrain

DeVos to Scrap Campus Rape Protections

Hurricane Harvey “Toxic Soup” in Houston

DOJ Won’t Charge Police in Freddie Gray Case

Trump Election Commission Setting Up Road to Voter Restrictions