invisionary: "When I give food to the poor, they call me a saint.  When I ask why the poor have no food they call me a communist." (Default)
It’s hardly a secret to anyone who knows me – my mother couldn’t cook. I was raised to believe in “women’s work”, and that cooking was among it. I shouldn’t have had to know how; after all, I’d have a wife to do it for me! My first particularly strong food memory was of badly overcooked spinach, “improved” with way too much butter, salt, and pepper. Then force-fed; I was about six or seven. I still haven’t acquired a taste for the stuff. Maybe someone will try to convince me yet, but years of my parents giving me Popeye cartoons to watch didn’t change my opinion (although the cartoons were fun!).

Food didn’t get better as I got older and I was progressively turned off to many foods I now quite enjoy today. Notable among them was salmon – my first exposure was canned salmon. It was mashed up, horribly over-salted, and vaguely resembled cat food. Having tasted the Fancy Feast I feed my cats I can quite honestly say that stuff tastes better than what this did – and I didn’t cook the Fancy Feast! Maybe that was the problem; my mother “cooked” it...

Then my wife came along. Many, many years of what passed for eating in my house left me about five foot six and about a hundred and fifty five pounds – and emaciated. I was pretty scary looking. I think she was determined to change my mind as to what a healthy weight was (she tells me not exactly), but definitely as to what good food was. She’s a horrible influence, getting me into drinking fancy coffee, wine (oh, the horror! Liquid devil!), and other such worldly pursuits.

So with relearning that cheese didn’t have to be imitation pasteurized process cheese food product, that not all coffee was similar to Folgers’ Crystals, and that there were more than two spices, along came the lesson that there was room for men to cook in household kitchens. I started small – the microwave. I can’t quite say I burned water, but even today I don’t always time things quite right. I learned that I actually had some natural talent where meat and fish was concerned, more than just following recipes. So I started following some recipes – no sense reinventing the wheel!

With the recipe practice I learned some of the theory behind combining ingredients, and more importantly the process of working in the kitchen – what my mother had so desperately tried to keep me from doing. I was moving forward in my own way, discovering for myself something many people had a joy in, but that I had been denied for her own selfish reasons. Perhaps it was just as well I didn’t learn from her bad example!

As fate would have it though, my wife’s favorite breakfast pastry is Panera’s spinach and bacon soufflé. I don’t make things with spinach in them, nor do I seek them out, but I can manage to stomach raw spinach in a salad if presented to me. Cooked spinach is right out. Ah well, can’t win them all.

I would not leave you on that note, however. Allow me, instead, to enrich your palate with the fruits of years of experimentation on salmon. When shopping for salmon I suggest sockeye if available – it has a very rich flavor that balances very well with these preparations. Note that many stores do not fully de-bone sockeye – check to see if yours is. If it isn't you'll need to spend a few extra minutes going over yours before you begin preparing it.

My original recipe is a wine glazed salmon. I will soak the fish in the wine for a few hours prior to cooking. Pre-warm a small sauté pan, filling it with the wine so that it covers about half of the filet. The objective is through skillful cooking and careful attention to pan-sear the fish at the same time the wine cooks off, leaving a glaze. At the very end baste the fish in the glaze and serve with your preferred sides, rice pilaf and vegetables being traditional. The wine used for the salmon makes a good complement, but also consider a pilsner or witbier. My very favorite wine is a local Granny Smith Riesling – we joke that I’ll eat just about anything with apple in it!

Another favorite is an Asian-inspired salmon. Pan-sear as you would any other fish, but your glaze instead is sweet and sour sauce. Because you don’t have to carefully time your glaze this preparation is considerably easier – just focus on cooking the fish to a proper temperature. Add sesame seeds while you glaze. Stir-fry goes great with this – if you’re going all-out and have a good butcher get him/her to cut the lean pieces off the sirloin and pan-sear them hibachi-style with the same sweet and sour! Plum wine is a natural choice to accompany your meal.
invisionary: "When I give food to the poor, they call me a saint.  When I ask why the poor have no food they call me a communist." (Communist _support)
This is another entry in a favorite series I started writing last Idol season. I love these characters and couldn't resist bringing them back. I do my best to make these entries stand on their own, but if you like them, feel free to go back and read my prior stories about the Suicide Kings - the Original, Revenge, and Epilogue.

This is the Crowning of a Suicide King.


“Next time, if you don’t learn to shut your mouth, I’ll do it myself.” Amy picked her younger brother up off the floor after having rescued him from being stuffed in his locker. The classic middle school prank may never go out of style, she thought. But brothers are brothers, and she wouldn’t just let him spend the day in there.

“It’s not what you think it is. They...”

“Yeah, it is what I think it is. You ran your mouth again, they stuffed you in your locker, and the school doesn’t really care because they’re sick of hearing it from you too. You’re gonna have to get a spine one of these days.”

Yeah, that’s what they call it, he thought to himself. He threw his books back in his locker, but didn’t have time to shove every last paper in. The bell had rung and he was already late, again.


The note was simple, although battered from lots of use and abuse. It was a chart with a list of names. She recognized some of them. Some had last names. Then a description of what they did – they read like “called me a faggot”, or “tripped me in the hall”, or “stole my lunch money”. There were also tally marks on the sheet. Brian had about thirty marks next to his name. At the very bottom of the note was Davey’s name, with the description – “for being a faggot” – and a single mark.

Davey was lucky Amanda had Amy’s back. That’s what the Suicide Kings did, after all.


The bell rang again. Amanda found Davey. A locker was waiting for him. A four years older and a soon-to-be varsity volleyball player was no match for a runt of her best friend’s little brother. She picked him up and promptly stuffed him and locked him in.

“What is that note?” She demanded to know.
“What note?”
“Don’t play stupid. You know what note.” He banged on the locker. “Just keep banging if you want. It’s not like the teachers are going to help, and even if they did, I’ll just show them the note.” He realized she had a point.
“What do you want from me? How can you make it worse?”
“You didn’t answer my question. What. Is. This?”
“What do you think it is? It’s a hit list.”
“WHAT? How’d you ever come up with that?”
“You get shoved in a locker a few too many times and you’d come up with it too.” He mumbled. “So now what?”
“Your sister’s treehouse, 5 tonight, bring this, or else.” She slid a King of Diamonds through the side of the locker. “And I’m keeping the note.” She unlocked the locker and left. He stood there and looked at the card, bewildered.


Someone said yes. The door opened.

Davey stood there among a bunch of his older sister’s friends, looking about as confused as he did a few hours ago in school. All eyes were on the little snot that banged on the door whining outside for months. It was all the more ironic given he’d fought for so long to get in there, now he wanted to run out of there so badly. The door was locked behind him just like it was for everyone else behind him their first night.

“Alright, little brother, I see you have a card. Who has his note?”

Without a word Amanda passed it over. Amy unfolded it and scanned it over, showing little emotion or surprise. She added it to the stack. His eyes grew; he realized everyone in the room had one.

“I’m doing you a huge favor in telling you this, something most of the people here didn’t get, and only because you’re my brother. Don’t expect anything that happens here to make sense. Sit down. End point of order.” She handed him five cards from the deck.

He sat down. “So... you don’t want to know about that note?”

“Penalty for talking out of turn!”, Amy snapped, thrusting two more cards at him.

The game went on around him. Just like every new player, Davey got a full stack of cards in his hands from a whole bunch of penalties.
invisionary: "Abandon hope, all ye who enter here." (subtext) "If you have already abandoned hope, please disregard this notice." (Abandon Hope)
I am the piece of shit the world revolves around.

This is what happens when my depressed logic gets the best of me. My thoughts get twisted into a downward spiral that convinces me that I am the most worthless being on earth – AND that everyone should be giving me attention for it. Generally the convincing takes the form of telling me why I don’t suck, and my telling them why I do, for as long as I can keep them spending energy doing that. Needless to say this isn’t very good on friendships!

But let’s break this down for a minute. Piece of shit. Feeling like a piece of shit. Most people feel like one in some amount at some point. Some feel it worse than others – I’ve felt it bad enough to have been suicidal over it, multiple times. There’s a point at which it crosses the threshold of where someone appropriately trained should be taking a look at it (obviously suicidal counts, but the screening threshold is nowhere near that point).

The world revolves around. Most everyone hates that shit. We love to mock celebrities who (in our own glorified opinions) think the world revolves around them. From the latest untalented pop sensation to politicians who are convinced they can save the world, your soul, your bank account, your job, your business, your firstborn child, your unborn child, to anything else that you might need saved so long as it sounds good on camera.

Wow, those were harsh days and I have a lot of regrets for how I treated people, even when I didn’t have much control over my behavior or understanding of what was going on. Mental illness is, generally speaking, not someone’s fault, but it is their responsibility to take care of, within their capacity. It’s an explanation, but not an excuse.

So what caused me to become the POS the world revolves around? I’m not rightly sure. I can point to a lot of messed up things in my childhood and my genetics. I can point to the flawed coping mechanisms or weaknesses in social supports. All of these are things I know in clinical language only because I’ve learned some clinical language. I’ve learned that almost every “bad boy” goes into therapy thinking that they would have been better behaved if their abuser had abused them more. Yet clinical understandings aren’t always helpful; I have to regard my trauma as my own and not compare it to the many horrific traumas I know other people have been through.

I carry my experiences into my aspirations of clinical practice and think of what it would be like to handle my former self as a client. Maybe I’m not entirely over my narcissism, but I don’t think a therapist should enter this work without having thoroughly gone over their past to be aware of their weak spots (not necessarily to have resolved them all, sometimes that’s not possible, but to at least be able to work with them). The crisis protocol I have and talked about two weeks ago came largely out of this problem I had and have seen people do. I’ve been the friend that people have had to toss aside. There’s even possibly some people who might read this from a distance, who will understandably keep their distance, and to them, I say I’m sorry.
invisionary: "When I give food to the poor, they call me a saint.  When I ask why the poor have no food they call me a communist." (Communist _support)
Are you safe?

These words have a very specific meaning in our household. If I ask this question to someone I am looking for a clear answer without any evasiveness. I am evaluating someone’s psychiatric health and whether or not they are in crisis.

It doesn’t matter who they are and my response is the same regardless. It could be a random stranger, an acquaintance, a recent friend, a dear friend, a family member, one of my kids, or even my spouse. Once this question is on the table the protocol is the same. It has to be. Everyone who knows me knows they can count on me to handle a potential crisis the same way every time.

Ideally the response I will get to the “Are you safe?” question is Yes, I am. In order to affirm that I need to know that the person is not in imminent danger of harming themselves or anyone else. If they think they are in danger of that I will work with them to a very limited degree, recognizing that I am an aspiring clinician, but without formal training, and that there are many situations where this is actually a strength and not a weakness. Yet I am no replacement for trained and licensed professionals. If someone is in genuine crisis I will act. I will get mobile crisis on the scene or I will call 911. If those aren’t necessary or appropriate I will drive someone to a local psych hospital. I’ve done this before.

This routine is for my own protection as well as for others. I’ve had to tell people who have presented with gestures that I will take their gestures seriously. I will arrange for help if necessary, making it clear to them that I don’t have the mental energy to spend on people crying wolf. If it’s bad and you need help I will answer – I will drop what I’m doing for anyone that needs it because it’s a moral obligation I feel everyone should do. A mental health crisis is a life-threatening emergency and should be treated with the same respect as any other. For that reason it’s about as rude to demand that kind of attention from someone for something that can wait to see a doctor during regular office hours, or even for urgent care.

Consistency is a key element of this protocol. There are many professions in which the protocols are the same because you need to be able to count on the person next to you acting the same way every time, despite not knowing anything about them, because time is of the essence and a life is at stake. I am only operating at a triage level. Either someone is safe or they are not. If they are safe, good – stop here but keep an eye on things in case that changes (and give them some love – obviously they’re hurting if it got bad enough that I felt the need to ask in the first place!).

If they are not, I determine what the best way to get them to safety is. If they are not local to me, I find someone who is local to them to intervene – if I know someone local to them personally who can help, I consult them. If not, I get their local authorities involved. If I am local, and it is safe for me to do so and I am able, I personally escort them to a local psychiatric facility and advocate for them (I know my local psych hospitals fairly well, some through personal experience). If it’s not safe, I stay the hell away and get someone more properly trained involved. There’s some judgment involved here and I can be wrong. I also have to bear in mind factors like whether a person has access to health insurance – if it’s a matter of life and death I will of course intervene, but I won’t be escorting them to the private hospital that only accepts people with good insurance.

Where friends are concerned I would rather find myself losing friendships and sleeping better at night knowing they are alive and well and hating my guts, as opposed to a less alive alternative. I have lost friendships over calling people out on suicidal talk that wasn’t actually serious. I am fully prepared to lose more in the event that I have to call mobile crisis to arrange an escort to a psychiatric ER for someone in genuine crisis. I wouldn’t like it if it were done to me, but I hope that when I come down from whatever brain misbehavior I’m going through that I will recognize that whoever made the decision was acting in my best interests, and doing exactly what I would have done.
invisionary: "When I give food to the poor, they call me a saint.  When I ask why the poor have no food they call me a communist." (Communist _support)
I want to do exactly this. I've been taught as an activist it's what one should do. Faith without works is dead is a mantra we've all been taught. We don't just appeal to deity to make the changes in the world we think should happen. We make them happen. A friend of mine inspired me with a quote recently.

"Sometimes I want to ask God why He allows poverty, famine, and injustice in the world when He could do something about it, but I'm afraid He just might ask me the same question."

But I'm frustrated. Part of how I try to do this is through how I use my money. Now I won't pretend to be some scrupulously ethical penny-pincher because I'm not. In fact, I'd argue those people who are ostentatiously "ethical" about how they spend their money are engaging in another sort of conspicuous consumption. My primary means of putting my money where my mouth is, so to speak, is to support local businesses whenever I can. Sometimes this doesn't work and that's the main point of this entry.

Local businesses are what make places unique. You can go almost anywhere, sometimes anywhere in the world, and find certain establishments that will offer a comfortably predicable selection of goods and services. Yet if what I want is an inexpensive bite to eat and a place for my girls to run around and play while I talk to my spouse or to other adults, I may very well want that place to be something other than McDonald's or Chuck E Cheese. That doesn't mean it exists, or that even if it does that I may know about it without knowing the area well or having a local guide.

As another more serious but contrasting example, for years I've made it a point to use small local pharmacies for my medications. Big Pharma gets enough money and any share of it I can keep in my community makes me happy. Nonetheless though I've had to return to a major national pharmacy. I am on a specific medication where not all generics are created equal and the independent pharmacies are at the mercy of their distributors. Those distributors will change manufacturers based on who will save them a few pennies per thousand pills. I can't afford two weeks of readjustment to a new medication dosage, possibly as often as every 90 days. It saddens me in this case, yet makes me even more furious at the corporatocracy that has the nerve of small businesses under its control.

And yet not always. I am still on the fence about how to handle the credit union I'm currently doing business with. I'm starting a new small business myself and have had less than stellar service from them. Now I don't have a whole lot of banking needs, but I obviously have some as any business does. I want to keep my money in my local community, as I do with my purchases, but my needs are a little more demanding as a small business owner. I need to know as I travel that I can get my money when I need it. I need to count on money being processed predictably, both in and out. Banks generally get this right. Right now I don't intend to take out loans, but when it comes to that, both private persons and businesses have to take loans from those who will give them and for the best rates available.

Local businesses have to be able to meet the needs of their customers or there's no reason for them to survive. Sentiments are nice, but business is business. Activism is nice, but we have to eat, and no amount of prayer is going to feed us unless we get up and earn our daily bread.
invisionary: "Now the whole world is going to hell in a handbasket!" with picture of demon in a business suit. (Hell in a Handbasket)
This entry serves as my official declaration of intent to play Season 8 of LJ Idol, as per the rules.

As per my previous post on the subject, I'll be playing a different game than last season, built on a hybrid style of essays and photoessays. I also generally have less time, as I am working on a small business, finishing undergrad this semester (although likely not on time), and trying to maintain some semblance of my domestic duties which isn't going very well at all, despite my girls having full-time daycare available.

I will again be posting from my blogging home, Dreamwidth, and x-posting the entries back to LiveJournal (I am [personal profile] invisionary). Contestants or followers of Idol who substantially use Dreamwidth are welcome to follow me over here and you won't miss a thing. If you don't use Dreamwidth... well, let's just say I believe in Dreamwidth, as I am a staff member and seed account holder, although a fairly inactive one given the ambitious projects in my life lately.

Comments will again be open on both services despite this being intended for LJ - my writing is intended for my audience regardless of where they choose to do their blogging. For me creativity is creativity, regardless of the medium. My writing can only help my photography and vice versa. I placed in the top 40 last season, in my opinion an excellent performance, but I have no expectations for how far I will go this time and honestly don't care, that's not the reason I'm doing this.
invisionary: Text: "I survived Dreamwidth closed beta" (Survived Beta)
So... I've decided I'm going to play Season 8. Not an easy thing to decide, as Idol is a lot of work to keep up with, especially the early reading load. I'm going to try to play a more laid back game and just roll with it, probably less with the social interaction than I'd otherwise like, but there's a reason for that, and it's going to considerably affect how I play.

I've decided I'm going pro as a photographer, and I'm starting my own event photography business.

What this means for Idol... I'm going to continue writing my usual mix of entries - fiction and nonfiction, essays, slice-of-life, and serials. I'm sure there will be more Suicide Kings. However I will also be adding photo essays. I'll not be just posting photographs though, even with alt-text - I'm going to be talking about the photographic journey - the process of taking pictures, or processing them in the digital world, the differences from the days of film when I first started, my eye and its interaction with the camera, possibly even some geekery. It all depends on the topics we get. Certainly it won't all be meta - I'll be talking about the subjects too!

Yesterday I had an eye exam and it was such a strange, and yet almost exhilarating feeling to write on the form that my employer was self-employed, and occupation was photographer. There is a liberation to this that I'm not sure I've ever really experienced, and maybe now I know a bit of how [staff profile] denise and [staff profile] mark felt when opening shop at Dreamwidth.
invisionary: "Abandon hope, all ye who enter here." (subtext) "If you have already abandoned hope, please disregard this notice." (Abandon Hope)
I figured this was going to happen more and more, and one of these times it will be the end. Still, I would like to ask for your support in keeping my wife and I in LJ Idol one more time. I know in particular a number of people have been fans of the Suicide Kings, and I've actually started becoming attached to them too, so FWIW, I'll probably be writing quite a bit more of it regardless of how this poll goes.

My most recent entry is here on DW (here on LJ), a letter from Amy to her younger brother.

There's also no way I'd be engaging in shameless self-promotion without throwing in some support for [ profile] cheshire23 - she wrote a short story about Sancho's perspective of Man of La Mancha. Go read it here.

If you like them, vote for them here (for those who aren't otherwise aware, I am [ profile] ravenshrinkery over there) - polls close at 7PM Eastern time tonight, so there's not much time. Remember, your continued voting encourages our continued writing and generally makes us feel good and all that stuff :).
invisionary: "When I give food to the poor, they call me a saint.  When I ask why the poor have no food they call me a communist." (Communist _support)
This is my third story about the Suicide Kings. It can be read on its own, but if you enjoy the world you will likely also enjoy The Original Suicide Kings and the Revenge of the Suicide Kings.


This letter was ripped out of a spiral-bound notebook, in purple ink, and a girl's hand that looked much younger than the author was.

Hey kid brother,
Wow. I can't believe I'm writing this. If you asked me if I'd ever write my little brother a letter a few years ago I would have screamed EWWWWWWW! And you know I would have! So I'm gonna just come out and say it: I'm gonna miss you a lot. Oh, and I have something else to admit.

I had a letter too. I never showed it to anyone and now I actually feel pretty bad about it. I burned it. I held back, pretending to be the strong one. It was before Roger died though. He didn't have a note, at least I don't think he did. But that's what saved me. I saw what it did to him and knew I couldn't do it to anyone else. But there was more.

I slept with him. It was silly and we were really young to be doing it, but it was all edgy and stuff. But I learned something about it over the years - there's no such thing as casual sex. You can sleep with as many people as you want but it connects you to every one of them. Straight or gay, young or old, regardless of anything it changes you and it changes them. I'll always carry that memory and a feeling that I wasn't worth it to him, and that I thought I mattered the very most and didn't. I think you remember just how angry I was but I couldn't tell anyone the real reason why. I feel bad now that I'm telling it to you here and not in front of the Kings.

Speaking of, I'm guessing you figured you'd have to take over for me. You don't have to if you don't want to, but I think they're expecting it, and I know they trust you. I haven't forgotten that stunt you pulled on Rachel, but I kinda wonder whatever happened to her. I knew she got sent off to a special school but I never saw her again - have you?

Anyway, I hope I don't have to do this again. I still don't know how I managed to get a free ride at Cornell, it's not like my grades were that good. For everyone's sake, I hope it wasn't because somebody told them about the group. I know there's a lot of people that contemplate suicide at college, even at really good schools - okay, especially at really good schools because of the pressure. But maybe the grownups won't be so useless. I hope. If not I'm gonna be pulling extra credit.

I know you look up to me, but I'm no hero. I did what I had to do and I never expected it to work. I don't get why people listened to me, or why when we gave a card to someone they knew they had to come. Or why nobody ratted on us after we locked them in and made them fess up. It shouldn't have worked. Maybe there's a God after all, but I don't know about that.

Oh, and about Mom and Dad - I never told them about the Kings. I hope you haven't either. Not that I think they'd get it. Nobody else did. Did you ever tell them you were gay? If not, I hope you can, because they need to know. People need to know they know you are. They might not get it either, but in time there's always hope.

So when are you gonna get a boyfriend already? I've been wanting to tease you and him for years now. :P I'll call you when I get to school, and if I don't, you have my email and IM, I'll let you bitch at me this time. Maybe. Nah, not really. But you can bug me anyway.


P.S. Nobody ever figured out that one rule. The penalty for being straight wasn't for playing five cards in a row, it was for not showing disgust after the last card was played.
invisionary: "Abandon hope, all ye who enter here." (subtext) "If you have already abandoned hope, please disregard this notice." (Abandon Hope)
The Most Eclectic League of LJ Idol Gentlemen presents to you a war story, the prelude to the Battle of Bradbury Park. These vignettes can be read in any order you wish. Much credit to my partners in defeating awkwardness - the Season 6 Finalist [ profile] talonkarrde88 and the long-playing veteran [ profile] beldar.

[ profile] beldar has contributed the view of a sergeant on one side of the conflict.
[ profile] talonkarrde88 has contributed the story of a special agent instigating a battle in a way he didn't even know.


Personal Log, "Captain" Jonathan Briggs, 16/13/2371, 2215 MTC

Never when I joined the Order did I expect that I would end up here, or that I would be referred to with a military rank. I still can't call myself by it. Yet even after agreeing to help lead what resistance is left, I keep asking myself the same questions my people have been asking me for months.

What does it take to be free, and what does it mean?

For hundreds of years now people have called themselves Texan and wanting nothing more than that. Freedom is simple - nobody telling you what to do, except your neighbors for those things that take more people. It means no oppressive government, no corporate rule, and no taxes to pay for wars we have no business being in. Some people think that because we like our guns and our hovertrucks that we must like fighting. I might be rare for clergy, but I've learned a thing or two about how to shoot, because it's what's important to the people I guide. But it's not about fighting, and it never will be.

We came to Mars in the hope that we could finally be left alone. We could settle our own differences, trade with those around us for what we need, and live our lives as we want. Nobody would meddle in our lives that didn't live the same life we do. We support each other and those around us as best we can. We could be free to worship God as best we know how. Yet there are those that want to use us to their ends, especially the fruits of our labor, and not to the benefit of our fellow man. Because we resist this they want to kill us, and nowhere in our faith does it say we have to lay down our lives for nothing.

War is hell. There's no dignity in it. It takes more bravery to put down arms than to pick them up. There's that old saying, war doesn't determine who is right, only who is left. But another old bunch of rebels said Live Free or Die. Well, those are my choices. I don't plan to die, but if I don't fight I am already dead. If the faithful do not see me help defend ourselves I can't help them. So therein lies the dilemma of a peaceful faith. It must be strong enough in force that it can protect itself from aggressors, but wise enough to recognize the evils of a militaristic society.

I can't believe I'm writing this, let alone thinking it. I feel faithless for it to cross my mind. But how can we believe in a good God that allows such evil to take place in the world? I know others in my care have thought this often as there have been more and more dead. There's only so many times I can give rites to people saying they have honored God in warfare, for what in such atrocity honors God? Anyone can die "well", but who can attain the strength of giants, that they might live well, as God has taught us to?

A bunch of us took down a UNC hovertruck loaded with laser rifles and antimatter rockets. They won't stand up to battleships, but they will make anyone who tries to capture us think twice. They can kill us, but they won't take us prisoner. We can't face them in the open, but we can make it very hard for them to finish us off. Bradbury Park is the only place that has enough cover to give us a chance; Mars was never known for being a great place to hide. They have to pass through if they want to move anything by land without its own life support. Life support. Funny phrase, as it is faith that supports life, not the other way around.

It no longer matters what uniform they wear. We don't have a uniform. Corp, indi, no longer matters. They're both destroying us and they both want our land and our labor. We are claiming the Park for ourselves and anyone who wants to live our way of life.

I haven't heard from my brothers Earl and Harvey in quite a long time, but I dearly wish they could join us right now. It's not as though communication to Terra has been very reliable since the fighting started. I pray God can keep them in His light through whatever lies ahead. My holy Trinity is my brothers in arms, and in faith, and in bloodline. Nothing short of being in Heaven would gladden me more than all three being the same in these trying times.
invisionary: "When I give food to the poor, they call me a saint.  When I ask why the poor have no food they call me a communist." (Default)
"Jimmy, you sure this thing's gonna work?"

"Have my engines not worked yet?"

"The last one exploded."

"Okay, not counting that one. This one will smoke 'em, it don't matter what they're riding in!"

"And will the axle hold with that much power?"

"Don't see why not."

"You don't sound very convinced."

But that didn't matter. Adam knew he was going to be making this run whether or not the equipment was sure to work. The money was too good. Sixty miles of back country roads at night. An airplane engine under the hood. Tire spikes that can be dropped if the police give chase. And about twenty gallons of 150 proof moonshine. Pretty good odds for a pretty big payoff.

The Davis farm had been cooking up white lightning long before Prohibition started, especially when the crops were lean. Legal liquor was just too expensive for most everyone, but now it was in demand from those with money too. But with demand came competition, and he had a hunch that the cops were confiscating their product and selling it themselves. He rigged this batch with a small amount of TNT to wreck the cargo just in case he got busted. No way he was going to let that sum'bitch Meyers take his hootch!

He knew the route by heart, including a number of shortcuts not on anyone's maps. So when the sirens hit he jumped a little, then realized who it was that was following him. Only one goddamn lawman smart enough to figure this route out, he muttered. He dropped the hammer and kicked up some dirt and dropped his spikes. In a few seconds the only engine he heard was the roar of his.

About ten miles later the sirens came back with a much louder engine roar. It was Meyers! He started cursing up a storm - Sum'bitch must've had a deputy back there! Knowing nothing else, he dropped the hammer again, this time hoping old-fashioned speed could win where dirty tricks couldn't. He raced off, leaving him in the dust. He slowed down a little when he saw he was clear.

Then he hit a bump. The dynamite trap blew. The explosion knocked out the rear axle. He let out a much quieter bunch of curse words on an unmarked road in the middle of the night. But it wasn't long before flashing lights came to his "rescue".

This piece is written as an intersection with the excellent [ profile] nishi_kaze - head over to his journal and read Sergeant Meyers's side of the story!
invisionary: "Abandon hope, all ye who enter here." (subtext) "If you have already abandoned hope, please disregard this notice." (Abandon Hope)
Yeah, I need to do it again. I'd really like to not go out of Idol this week. Okay, I'd like to never go out until it's over (let's be honest), but not on this week's writing.

This was an intersection week - my wife and I wrote complementary pieces about the fear-mongering surrounding child protective services and the police. The feedback we've received has been very positive, especially for debunking just how likely it is such people are going to screw with you.

So, I would like to solicit your votes for the poll. I never ask people to vote for my work unless they like it, but people have mentioned to me privately before that they like having a way to support and encourage my writing that doesn't involve commenting. As always, your continued voting keeps me motivated to write!

My entry is here, AJ's entry is here. The poll is here - you know the drill, click those little checkboxes next to our names (for the DW users that aren't familiar, mine is [ profile] ravenshrinkery, hers is [ profile] cheshire23) and hit that submit button. The poll closes at 2:00 PM Saturday afternoon.

TMI follows )
invisionary: "When I give food to the poor, they call me a saint.  When I ask why the poor have no food they call me a communist." (Communist _support)
This piece was written as an intersection for LJ Idol. My partner this week is my lovely life partner [ profile] cheshire23/[personal profile] passerine. She has written a complementary piece defending child protective workers, focusing on statistics. It may be found on LiveJournal or Dreamwidth.


I'm not sure I would call it a dislike of police officers. Fear would be more like it.

I don't trust cops. They don't trust me. It's not because I fit a profile of any sort, although I'd be very scared if I did. Last year I sat on a jury where the main charge against the defendant was Driving while Black. He was in fact driving on a suspended license, but they trumped up the charges and tased him for good measure. (In classic Keystone Kops fashion, the cop managed to tase his partner in the process!)

Then there was the mess that happened just before it, when Tori (13 months old at the time) accidentally got into my medication and needed to go to the hospital by ambulance. The police broke procedure multiple times in investigating the events, including questioning my older daughter without my knowledge or consent, as well as attempting to trick me into signing a statement to waive Miranda rights. The detective was not honest with me - and in fact police do not have to be honest with the general public, and the Supreme Court has backed that up.

I'm assured there are many bad cops out there - watch the news and you'll see them. I believe in civilian oversight of police and that any police action that infringes on civil rights should be able to go in front of a review board. I believe civilians should be involved in any internal investigation. I believe that criminal offenses by an officer should be prosecuted by attorneys outside of the jurisdiction of the offense. I also believe there are a lot of criminals out there - serious criminals - that don't get caught. The media loves to report those that are. However it's widely believed that crimes against women and minorities are badly underreported, in part due to a lack of trust in the police.

Then something happened that reminded me that cops are people too. I didn't expect it - I read Reddit frequently and there's no small amount of venom towards police over there. So, what turned me around? It was this stupid caricature called Steve the Lawnmower Guy. I'll describe him, but the videos are well worth your time (NSFW if your workplace has a problem with substances or foul language).

Steve the Original
Steve the Second
Steve's Domestic Arrest
Steve on a Scissor Lift
Steve... with Ten Shopping Carts of Booze

Steve is a hick/redneck/white trash resident of southern Louisiana. He rides around on a lawnmower because his truck is broke. Among other things he is drunk and disorderly and gets arrested in hilarious fashion - HE KNOWS HIS RIGHTS! These sketches, possibly unintentionally, actually illustrate what it's like for real police. As a general rule police are not called to handle reasonable people having disputes that can be settled through peaceful dialogue and logic - but it's quite nice when they can! No, the majority of police calls are domestic incidents, often with violence or threats of, and never as simple as they seem. We expect a lot out of law enforcement - entering dangerous situations quickly, determining the actual danger, and starting criminal investigations, all while demonstrating restraint and courtesy towards those they interact with. They have to play inside very specific rules or else what they may discover could be thrown out of court on procedural grounds.

A uniform is a target. People recognize it and immediately ignore that there is a person wearing it, and in fact the person wearing it has to think and act the role so that others in the uniform can predict their actions and support them. The human part wants to survive that shift and get that uniform off and go home. Sure, they want to protect the general public and most won't hesitate to die in the line of duty if required. But that's not exactly Plan A!

You may have heard of Schrodinger's Rapist - in short, it's the concept that when a woman meets a man, she cannot be 100% sure he is not going to rape her. The odds are usually pretty small, but there's no way to be completely certain he is not going to commit an assault until the interaction is over. The same logic applies to an adversarial interaction with police. You are Schrodinger's Criminal and they are Schrodinger's Bad Cop. You know that you're not a dangerous felon, and they know they are honest and professionally carry out their duties. But neither of you can assume that good faith in the other. Both of you have to survive the encounter. Since the officer enters this situation several times a day, often with irrational, unreasonable people, they have no reason to assume off the bat you are rational and reasonable. Likewise, there are just enough Bad Cops out there that will abuse their authority and deny your civil rights. A Good Cop understands this and will respect you for respectfully asserting your rights. If you drew a Bad Cop though you'll be darn glad you did. If you are a criminal or a danger to yourself or others they will be darn glad they played it by the book and secured the scene properly.

One of the most educational things you can do to understand police work is ask to do a civilian ridealong. Call your local police department (on their non-emergency line) and ask if you can ride with an officer. Most will allow you to join them for a patrol. They will assuredly give you a professional that will point out what they look for in your local area. You may be surprised - I was!
invisionary: "Now the whole world is going to hell in a handbasket!" with picture of demon in a business suit. (Hell in a Handbasket)
I'm looking for a partner to play co-op with when the game is released on April 19. The ideal candidate will have experience with the previous Portal game or FPS games, have a computer capable of running games at an insane resolution with insane framerates, and an excessive supply of caffeine so we can make our very first run a speed run.


If you've got a PC that can at all play 3D games (or a PS3), and the interest enough to buy the game, and are reading this here, you're qualified. I'm more interested in playing with someone that I otherwise like and want to share this assuredly creepy experience.

Any takers? :)
invisionary: "When I give food to the poor, they call me a saint.  When I ask why the poor have no food they call me a communist." (Communist _support)
What I won't tell someone:

I certainly wasn't ready to start my mental health service receiving career in the military. I was pretty staunchly against any sort of medication, and they were willing to listen. I was pretty bad off then, but it was easier for them to shuffle me out and back on my own rather than do anything to try to help me then. Just as well, but not exactly great.

My first civilian attempt several years later got a fairly indifferent social worker who just wanted to get me set up with meds and would consider talking to me once they'd started working. It scared me off - he'd done nothing to break through that wall. So it would be a couple more years before I'd try again for real.

It would take having my wife almost ready to give birth before I could bring myself to do it. And then it only worked because she sat in a clinic office, 39 weeks pregnant, demanding that I get service and would not leave until she did. Fortunately the service I got was pretty good, and probably the best therapist of the bunch, a wonderful kinky Jew, she was. But even she blew it when we found a paper she published about our case that did not adequately remove our identifying data and showed we weren't trusted or respected.

I stumbled upon a good psychiatrist eventually, but not after having been through over a dozen med changes. I don't do it justice to reduce it to a few words, but anyone who's ever had a medication screw with them - imagine that a dozen times. Atypical antipsychotics do the opposite of their intended effect in me - try explaining that to every provider you meet and expect them to believe it.

After having to leave my useful therapist due to moving I went through a string of them. The first was convinced that social anxiety and domestic issues were my real problem, not the bipolar I had been diagnosed with and was taking medication for. Oh, and he was part of what I refer to as the "penis cult" - a men's organization with some pretty shady ethics, whose indoctrination is essentially a false imprisonment for a weekend of running through the woods naked and being otherwise humiliated, for about $600, not including weekly follow-up sessions. It didn't work out.

Next guy I tried wasn't a total disaster, but his usual clientele was gay men that needed help leaving their wives. He wasn't used to bisexual men that wanted to stay with theirs. Bipolar wasn't much of a consideration. He wanted me to be his usual clientele. That didn't work.

The next guy, a psychologist, fared a little better. It worked decently for a while, but over time it felt more like I was going to a confessional than a therapy session. Not a massive Fail, just a bad long-term fit.

Then my head broke. I landed in an inpatient nightmare. There was no therapy, only medication. The psychiatrist was an absolute asshole and the most unprofessional medical provider I have ever directly encountered. He made no attempt to build trust in his patients - in fact he made himself as distant and condescending as he could. He disrespected my spouse every bit as much as he did me. At least I got my funniest psych story from the stay - a woman who wouldn't take Depakote "if Jesus came down and told me to!".

There's nothing quite like being told you're acting passive-aggressive by someone who is actually acting passive-aggressive. Yet that's what I got when I followed up with an intensive outpatient regimen. It worked out in the end with the help of a decent therapist that told me I could take my pick of sessions - and got into a trauma session that did wonders to help me put Brainless behind me.

The next one was a massive Fail. It was a very cleverly disguised trap that almost took my entire family down. I feel very fortunate we escaped a therapy cult that put up signs of plausible deniability at every turn. I reported it to my insurance company, and strongly considered filing formal allegations with the state oversight board. We completely severed all ties with them and with anyone we met through them.

I haven't had a therapist since. Not for lack of searching for one. The last time I tried I got shuffled off to some guy that deals primarily with domestic violence cases and possibly old enough to be our grandparents. Oh, and the person who set us up with that called at 10 PM to do it.

I tell my psychiatrist that I like him, but only in small doses. I see him once every six months. We're both happy with this arrangement. But this isn't therapy.

I tell others all the time if they need a therapist they have to suck up and deal. Most likely they'll be dealing with what I've deal with. My mind twists now-a-days when I give that advice. I need a therapist - not for the things I can predict, but for the things I can't. Having an advocate that can look objectively at our lives is very powerful, but I can't seem to find one.

What I will tell someone:

I've been there, more than I really want to admit. I am sorry you've dealt with the crap you have trying to do the right thing. I don't know if I'll be right for you, but I do know I won't do what they did - and if you catch me doing it let me hear it (politely, if you can, but if not, I understand). Here's what I will do:
  1. I will listen to you, actively and carefully.
  2. I will acknowledge your past and present situation, especially your pain.
  3. I will treat you as the expert of your own life, because you are.  You know what will fix your problems - my job is to point you in the direction towards it, and to tell you that you can do it. And take some of the burden where I can.
  4. I will tell you when I can't do something, and if possible, why.
  5. I will not force myself into your life. What happens in our space stays there unless you decide to take it elsewhere. I hope you will, but that's not my decision.
  6. I will let you go if this isn't working for you. I will let you go if this isn't working for me. I will in either case refer you to others who may be a better fit if you desire.
Here's my hand. Would you like to walk together for a little while?  You can lead if you like.
invisionary: "When I give food to the poor, they call me a saint.  When I ask why the poor have no food they call me a communist." (Communist _support)
We knew it was inevitable. LJ Idol is getting more and more competitive and both my wife ([personal profile] passerine/[ profile] cheshire23) and I are at risk of being left to the wayside without some popular support. That's where y'all come in. :)

This week's prompt was "Jetsam". I did a prose rewrite of Phish's "Fee", with a few added twists. AJ did a piece on neighborhoods cast off by society. Both of us enjoyed putting these pieces together and hope you enjoy reading them if you haven't already.

Idol is down to a single poll now, so if you liked our writing, please do us the kindness of heading to that poll, clicking those check boxes next to our names, and hitting the Submit button. Your support is what encourages us to keep writing week after week and is greatly appreciated. There's nothing but pride at stake over there, but hey, we like pride too!

Dreamwidth users are free to vote as well using their LiveJournal credentials or their DW-based OpenID - it works just fine either way.
invisionary: "When I give food to the poor, they call me a saint.  When I ask why the poor have no food they call me a communist." (Default)
She shrieked and fell backwards into the cabin door. She was used to the pain by now, but it didn’t change that it hurt every time he hit her. It was supposed to be the place to reinvent our marriage, to have the honeymoon we never had, she told herself. Those words felt pretty meaningless now. It seemed as though he was more interested in using this as a way to isolate her further and head back to Pennsylvania with her firmly under his control. Floyd had it already, but that didn’t stop him from thinking he needed to press her further.

"You... you APE!" she managed to stutter out between sobs, having fallen to the floor.

She knew it would hurt him in the only way she could. He was picked on in school for being stupid and hairy. They called him the Chimp. He hated that name then and resented it even more than his 19 year old wife would backtalk at him. He kicked her in the stomach. She doubled over, windless and hopeless.

In the ship’s garden an older lady practiced her early morning yoga. She was tiny but still full of energy and very flexible. A monk she met once called her Weasel for these attributes. Fee found herself without a real purpose in life and questioning how she should live the rest of her life after raising her kids. She too had come on the cruise to rekindle her marriage, but instead she found herself finding herself. It wasn’t that she didn’t love her husband. It was that she was finding she couldn’t be a sexual partner to him. She wasn’t attracted to men anymore. Their marriage had been mostly sexless for years, which she attributed to the pressures and lack of privacy of having teenagers in a Brooklyn co-op. He wasn’t happy about this, but told her often he loved her. Yet the glue that held their marriage together was their kids. Now that they were grown she wasn’t so sure she could love him again.

She meditated on Buddha and tried to clear her mind. It wasn’t working so well. She returned to her cabin and she knew her marriage was over. They talked it over that day. He took it hard; he had made it clear he could not love a lesbian. By the next day they had talked it through enough that they had decided they may as well enjoy the rest of their cruise and get their money’s worth. At least for now they wanted to be friends.

Being a couples cruise the alcohol was plentiful. Floyd already had a problem with overindulging that nobody in his family would acknowledge, especially not him. Being a faithful wife Milly helped him up to their cabin and laid him down to sleep it off for the night. She was secretly glad when he passed out; it meant she could have some freedom. Normally at home she’d have her kid to keep an eye on, but without that restriction he basked in her new-found freedom. She went down to the Admiral’s Club to seek solace in a smaller amount of liquor than her husband.

It was there that Fee met Milly. It was a casual meeting – they were at the bar and just happened to order the same drink at the same time from two different bartenders. This struck up a conversation. It didn’t take long for them to get on the same page. They turned heads for looking more like a mother and daughter than a romantic link. The overtones of the “wish-they-were-lovers-again” themed cruise fell into the background. The liquor encouraged them to spill secrets they’d both held close to their chests for years. Fee invited her to meet her in the garden in the morning for meditation. They parted to the first genuine smile that graced Milly’s lips in years.

Milly returned to her cabin, feeling that she might actually be able to make this work after all, assaults and all. Floyd wasn’t there, but there was a note for her. She feared the worst.

"Dear Milly, Something has to change. I can’t keep doing this. It hurts me and I know it hurts you. I’m sorry I hit you. I won’t do it again. I promise. Love you, Floyd"

She knew it was a lie because she had a stack of these cards at home. Someday she’d burn them after he was gone to put her mind at ease. She slept on this. By the time she had woke up he had stumbled into bed with her, but he was out like a rock.

Milly found Fee in the garden meditating under the banana trees. She tried sitting the way Fee was but found her legs didn’t quite bend enough. Fee smiled and showed her a bit more comfortable way to sit. There was no tinge of romance, but Fee’s hands were the most gentle she had ever felt and Milly couldn’t help but notice. They sat there clearing their minds for a while. Fee eventually broke the silence – "Come on, let’s get some breakfast at the Club."

Each took a stack of pancakes and fresh fruit from the buffet. They’d each had hardly a bite before they found themselves looking in each other’s eyes. It was a look of understanding. Despite their difference in years they realized that they could have the lives they wanted. Milly knew she wasn’t free but could make a good life in captivity, and for her son. They shared a hug. Neither was sure who really initiated it. It felt natural. Milly could tell already she felt something resembling love for Fee, but had no idea what kind it was. Something just felt like it was right for the first time in years. Fee was just as conflicted. She knew now it would be okay to love again, and even if not Milly, it would be out there.

At that very moment, as Fate would have it, Floyd stumbled into the Club. He saw the embrace. He assumed the worst. He was enraged. He grabbed a wine bottle and threw it at Milly. Fee saw the missile and pushed Milly down to dodge, taking the bottle broadside herself.

Milly saw Fee on the deck, her face bloodied, glass everywhere. Something snapped in her head. Enough was enough. A rage came over her and she reached for the nearest thing on the buffet. It was a bowl of nectarines. She picked up the whole bowl, stormed over to him, and clocked him in the face with it. He lost his balance, stunned by the ferociousness he’d never seen before from her. He fell backwards over the ship’s rail, catching himself at the last moment, hanging overboard.

Milly saw real power in her relationship for the very first time. He was breathless; he looked up begging her to save him, to spare him, to forgive him. Fee looked up from several feet away. Milly considered her options for a moment. She had decided before she opened her mouth. "You weren’t sorry before and you aren’t sorry now. I’m going on to live my life, Floyd. This marriage is sinking and I’m saving myself." She pulled out the apology note and used it. Floyd fell into the ocean, not making as much as a wave to ask anyone for help.

The Weasel was free. Now she knew that Milly was finally free too.

Oh, Fee, you're trying to live a life
That's completely free
Floyd is dead; he's nothing but a ripple
Cause Milly took that paper
And sliced him on the nipple

Oh, Fee, you're trying to live a life
That's completely free.
You're racing with the wind
You're flirting with death
So have a cup of coffee
And catch your breath

(Credit for the inspiration and lyrics to Phish for "Fee".)
invisionary: "When I give food to the poor, they call me a saint.  When I ask why the poor have no food they call me a communist." (Default)
Gather up kids, it’s time for Uncle [ profile] ravenshrinkery’s tales of living in the big city!

Of course, by the big city, I mean the crappy capital of New York which were it not for the academic opportunities and seat of government power wouldn’t have much of a reason to be here. The days of being a commerce hub are long over. The neighborhood known as Arbor Hill doesn’t have many trees left. The landlords usually don’t live anywhere near the area.

(Brief digression: I’ve written about the absentee slumlord problem in the past, notably this unsent letter. If you would like to read more feel free to go back in the archive. It is here:

It was a good government job for [ profile] cheshire23, just having completed her Masters in Public Administration, that brought us here. It was short notice and so we took whatever housing we could get that would allow for a minimum deposit (we didn’t have time to get the old one back from our previous landlord). It took us to a part of town known as the student ghetto, as it served as off-campus housing for a number of the area colleges (two in fact are within walking distance). We later found out the street we lived on housed a notorious local gang kingpin, discovered when he was arrested on a long list of charges. Yet he had nothing to do with what made our lives a living hell – it was the troll in our building’s dungeon.

His name was Nick. Being avid Harry Potter fans, we called him Nearly Brainless Nick, which eventually got shortened to Brainless.

I wasn’t so much of a journaling type before Brainless entered our lives, but seeing as though we might need to obtain legal recourse against him, I kept a log. The full log is 17 single-spaced pages in Word, and those sections written then I have italicized here for easier reading. I cannot adequately describe my memories, so let me give you the first snippet from my log:

1/21, 3:32 PM: Obscenities from Nick from his apartment. Alex is stomping around, however I am not inclined to stop her. Not only is it within noise hours, but she has been energetic all day. Maybe if she runs it out of her now she will get to sleep at a better hour than she did last night when she was forced to keep her energy pent up and thus allow him and us to get rest during quiet hours.

6:16PM: Indiscriminate shouting in Nick’s apartment. Completely uncertain what his provocation was – the only noise being made at the time was a laser printer powering up (Alex was laying down in her crib).

9:11 PM: A few minutes earlier we had attempted to put Alex to bed. We were unsuccessful and running around she went. This got a shout of “Relax!” from Nick. Why that, I cannot postulate. We attempted to crib her again – as of the writing she seemed like she might calm, but one can never tell with a small one.

9:22 PM: Clearly our attempts to settle Alex have failed and have roused Nick’s ire with banging on our floor. She was not running around – she was alternating drinking from a bottle and screaming at the top of her lungs and continues to do so – why, we have yet to determine, try as we might. Shortly thereafter we managed to settle her but this is looking like it could be a tenuous night.

Somewhere in all of this he upgraded to a baseball bat. Some time after that things came to a head that involved calling the police. These things are relative, after all.

A very clear shout was heard from Nick that “Next time I see you I’m going to kick your ass you motherfucker”. It took about a minute’s deliberation before I decided I’d had enough and had to put my personal safety and that of my family first and called the police.

They were fairly slow about responding – then again that’s understandable so long as nobody is being actively hurt. Alex was continuing to run around while we cleaned the house, so instead of banging on the floor this time he decided to turn off our circuit breakers. The panels for the house are in our basement directly across from his door. Given his freshly made threat I saw the timing of this power outage as rather suspicious and called the police back advising them that this was very possibly an attempt to draw me out so he could attempt an assault (and that even if he was not the cause I felt justifiably fearful to go down to the panel to restore power until the matter was resolved). The police were at our door in about ten minutes.

It worked for a few days, but I didn’t expect peace to last. It more or less continued like this:

4/4 4:52PM: My name must now be “Asshole”, as that’s how he’s addressing me when he shouts up here. He had been making random noises, some of them vulgar, while Alex was still. I am guessing that he is no longer around during the days since I hear nothing over him.

5:45PM: AJ just got home and Nick immediately started in banging on the floor while Alex was bouncing to greet her. I can’t help but think the timing is suspect here, given that he would have seen her approaching the house.

4/29 5:01 PM: Alex has been extremely difficult today and Nick is not making it any better. Papers are due today as usual and he is deciding that he wants to be an obnoxious git and bang on the floor in response. We are fleshing out the details of an offer on the house which will likely be signed and agreed by tomorrow, in time for us to give notice and end this odyssey in a month. While he is rather annoying me and I don’t like Alex not feeling well, if I have no choice in the matter, I have little concern for whether or not he is happy.

5:05 PM: Maybe against my better judgment, I decided to try something that would serve both purposes. I started playing her xylophone. On the floor. Above his head. I know this gets his goat, but in the middle of the afternoon, I really didn’t care. It pissed him off, but over the radio and the noise I was making with Alex, I couldn’t hear his obscenities. Alex loved it, and she stopped crying. He got a little more aggression out on the floor, but well, I didn’t expect it to stop the other way. At least one baby stopped crying.

By the end of June enough was enough. I can’t remember exactly what happened, as I certainly wasn’t in my best frame of mind. He had somehow provoked me into thinking that this would never end. I couldn’t keep the idea that this would be over soon enough out, even though we were in the middle of closing on our house. I was ready to end this once and for all. I went for the kitchen and I grabbed a chef’s knife. I was carrying a large Maglite with my off-hand. I was ready to kick his door down. I was forcibly held back to prevent this and promptly taken to a local psych hospital.

The log didn’t include any of the aftermath of my inpatient stay. Not much changed; he kept up his antics right up until we left. The new landlords got to hear him for themselves as they were doing other work on the place – he really scared a painter who had no idea how we could have stood that for the last several months. The very last day he was singing about how shitty I was and what a shitty family I had and how I was a faggot, etc. almost right up until I walked out the door for the final time.

Not long after it was all over I lost any sense of desire for vengeance against him. It was obviously enough torture for him to be trapped in his own head. Those days we used to play armchair psychiatrist and suggest back and forth what we would medicate him with (Risperdal extended-release injections were our most common choice). With the clear head that comes from peaceful living I can now say I genuinely wish the best for him, but I doubt it will ever come his way. Sadly the usual way people like Brainless get help is when they cross the line too far and end up getting in through the criminal justice system.

Every now and then I would drive down the old street and see if there was any sign of him there. I only very rarely saw him on the street (he was a dungeon troll after all, and they don’t like light as a rule). The blinds were just as wrecked as always and if you looked closely you could see between them the destroyed ceiling. It had to have been a constant reminder of just what evil humans we must have been, long after we were gone. I speculated that maybe after we left some college students would move in and have loud parties over top of him, people who would care a lot less about him banging on the ceiling because they were banging even louder.

It was a late afternoon at the end of June, two years after we left, when I saw him with a couple of buddies and his possessions on a trailer – and him sitting on them while it was going down the road. We’d been living in another town about fifteen miles away for the last two years. I have no idea whatever happened to him, although every now and then I check the local police reports to see if his name among others is in them.

So why did I write this? It’s easy enough to say in the situation that sure, it will get better when it’s over, but that’s not much comfort to you when you’re having your floor rattled and insults hurled at you. I knew even then that someday I would remember this and laugh at it all. People told me this all the time. Sure enough, I do. Yet this is an almost universal experience, having someone making your domestic life miserable, and I want to acknowledge that pain for those who may be reading this and having such a situation, be it a neighbor, partner, roommate, or relative. Just because you know you’ll laugh it off later doesn’t do a good goddamn to make you feel better and I’m tired of people using this excuse as a copout for any tough but time-limited situation.

I want to make it crystal clear: I acknowledge your pain. I’ve been there. Just because the trauma will be over soon does not change the fact that it sucks NOW. Words only help so much. You have the right to all of your emotions.