Archive for the 'Working Conditions' Category


Is it worth it?

I mentioned yesterday I finally got through the assorted barriers of procrastination to finally begin work on Black Yard.

The question I have to ask now, though – which may well be that procrastination, my depression, or my general lack of self-worth talking, mind you – is: is it worth pursuing?

I don’t have the artistic or musical skill to create images, sprite maps, or music unique to the game. Since I’m still arguing with six doctors and three different insurance companies for someone to process my disability paperwork, I don’t have funds to buy resource packs for RPG Maker or to commission folks on Fiverr for it. That means I’m stuck with the default stuff, which is obviously designed for generic medieval western European fantasy settings. Not such a good fit for a game set in America in the 80s. I’m doing what I can to make it work, but it still doesn’t feel “right.”

Which leaves me wondering: Should I bother? I made some headway yesterday, getting most of the “special” items sorted out, I have placeholders at least for the map screens I need, and most of what’s left is doing my best to make it look pretty and hooking them together with the narrative. But knowing, as I do, that it’s still not going to be “right,” even when I expend everything I am capable of on the project and render it “as done as I can make it” seems to beg the question of if it’s worth doing at all.

I don’t know. What I do know is that a large chunk of my afternoon today will likely be working on the “Memory” events that form the bulk of the narrative, and I’ll figure it out from there. For now, here’s my crappy title screen:

Screenshot (1)

The name probably should change, too. Someone will yell at me about it at some point, I’m sure. I don’t even know how or why I settled on Black Yard.

That’s all for today folks; lemme know your thoughts down below. Or if anyone is familiar with the process of what to do with it once it’s done so people can play it, that’d help too.

As always, if you are of a mind and are interested in helping me keep my prescriptions current and filled, or want to chip in for my surgery situation, you can do so via Patreon or GoFundMe. Anything helps and is always appreciated, but never required, and I’m more than happy to give whatever shout outs you request in return.

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Preparation and Procrastination

One of the biggest problems I deal with is procrastination. I know it. At times I am languid, allowing things to happen without doing anything about them, for good or ill. But there’s a very special kind of procrastination that I am particularly good at. I’m sure some of you are, too.

It’s the kind that says “I want to do a thing… but to do the thing, I have to do these other things, and I don’t really want to do all that.”

It’s the kind that, even when you set out to do the thing – and by extension, the things that you have to do so you can begin to do the thing – you will find a reason to throw your hands up and say “Fuck it.”

I’ve been having this problem for the last few days. I have a recurring nightmare about my elementary school. I want to harness it and put it to work. I don’t think it wants to be a short story or a novel. I think it wants to be a game.

“Great,” says I. “I can do that.”

I should be able to, after all. Once upon a time, I bought Clickteam Fusion (and all the extensions to make it run on OSX, Android, iOS, etc) as well as RPG Maker.

Problem one, as I booted up my computer to try doing something here. I’ve formatted the system since the last time Fusion was installed, and I can’t for the life of me find my product key. The website wasn’t helping much, either.

“Okay. Still have RPG Maker. Which is the better choice, anyway, since I suck with art and having the option to just do grid-based stuff will get it out of my system, at least.”

Problem two. RPG Maker (at least the version I have, VX Ace) doesn’t run on OSX, the PS4 port I was eagerly awaiting was delayed – again – and, as noted, I recently wiped my system, so I don’t have Windows installed.

“Okay. I have my Windows 7 disc. No problem.”

Problem three. Bootcamp no longer supports Windows 7. Not much of one, since I have a valid key and can go download the ISO. Annoying roadblock, but easy to remedy. Until we hit problem 4: all my flash drives are tiny affairs, suited for shifting some .PNGs from my computer to the girlfriend’s laptop that I use for streaming or for shifting video clips from the PS4 to my computer so I can edit them, but won’t fit the Win10 ISO and the Bootcamp drivers.

A search ensues. I finally find out that’ll handle it, and do that. Then run Bootcamp, make my startup “disk” and download all the drivers that mean all my devices talk to Windows and the bloody thing works.

Then we hit problem five. Bootcamp claims it can’t partition my hard drive. It just says “Run Disk Utility.” So I do. Which says there’s no problem. I try again. Same error. I try partitioning the drive in Disk Utility, it works fine… but Bootcamp won’t let me use that partition. Has to make it itself. (I’m assuming because it actually makes a handful of “phantom” partitions that it installs from, or it has to format it in a manner not standard to OSX’s options, or both.)

Commence hair pulling, and giving up, especially because I didn’t want to keep sitting there for 20-minute increments watching it try to do the job and then canceling at the last minute.

I refused to touch the computer the next day, a sullen and petulant gesture. “Well, fine. I don’t wanna play with you, anyway!”

This morning I sucked it up, trudged back to the computer and went back to trying.

Problem 1: Apparently while diddling it last time, OSX had been happily downloading patches and updates in the background, had finished the job, and neglected to tell me. So it took half an hour for the computer to boot, because it was busy updating everything it had just downloaded.

Then Problem 2: First, tried doing what I was doing before. Same result, but another half hour down.

Okay. To the forums I went, discovering that there is possibly an issue buried in my SRC or in the disk that I have to boot to the command line and force a repair on. Okay, fine. That takes another half hour while discount Linux sets itself up and then deep scans the hard drive. It doesn’t tell me anything was wrong, but, what the hell, I did as I was told.

Reboot – which again takes a while, because apparently, it did do something and the OS needs to think it over nice and slow. Back to Bootcamp. Partition again. Success!

…then you wait for an hour while Windows figures itself out, yells at you because it can’t find a network (since it has to install Windows before it installs the Bootcamp drivers, and the Bootcamp drivers are what tell it where the network adapter is), finally drops you on the desktop. Hooray! Another twenty minutes for Bootcamp to do its job. Another half hour for Windows to download all its updates, yell at me because I don’t want Cortana talking to me, downloading Chrome, using Chrome to download Steam, using Steam to download RPG Maker, and now I am theoretically finally ready to actually try to do what I wanted to do several days ago.

Of course, now I’m tired, cranky, out of sorts and due for my meds, so I probably won’t be doing it today. But at least I can.

That was just a long winded rant that basically boils down to: sometimes the only thing to be done is to do it. And I need that lesson drilled into my head far more often. Had I persevered more the other day, I could be working on Black Yard right now, instead of bitching about everything I had to do before I could start doing it. Maybe that’ll motivate someone else out there. I hope it does.

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Want to Meet Your Goals This Year? Start Setting Definite Ones. — A Writer’s Path

Some good tips. Pity I can’t follow them myself most of the time, but worth a read just the same. (Comments disabled here; please visit the original post.)

by Amie Gibbons Hey, how are those New Year’s Resolutions going? : ) No, I’m not trying to bait you or make you feel terrible about yourself. I’m trying to make a point. If you set goals, do you stick to them? I’m here to give you some tips on how to stick […]

via Want to Meet Your Goals This Year? Start Setting Definite Ones. — A Writer’s Path


S. Crowe – Session 1 (Cont.)

(If you’ve missed where it started, you can find it over yonder!)

“If you’re certain. Though that does look quite painful. Potentially infected.”

Crowe rolled her shoulders again, seeming to retreat back into herself. Dorothea wondered if pursuing the subject of the girl’s injuries further would be worth it, then cast it aside. It was a symptom, surely, not the root.

“Alright, then. Do you remember the hospital where you woke up? What the doctor’s name was?”

Crowe’s lips parted, a thin hiss of air slipping free. One hand crept up to her face and she began gnawing an already ragged nail.

“Hanscomb. Dr. Hanscomb.”

Dorothea nodded, allowing her lips to quirk upward in a faint smile.

“That’s good,” she said. “But do you know why you remember that?”

Crowe gave a bark that Dorothea assumed was supposed to be some form of laughter, though it sounded more like an animal crying in pain.

“Yeah. I remember it because he was stupid. ‘Hanscomb like handsome, that’s me,’ he said.”

Her hand came away from her mouth, and she turned back to Dorothea, looking at her normally for perhaps the first time, the way one person looks to another when they’re having a cozy chat. Dorothea’s smile widened.

“That does sound a little… hokey, I suppose. But it stuck, did it not?”

“I guess. Doesn’t seem like such a great thing to me. I can remember some dumb doctor’s name when all he did was tap my knees, shine a light in my eyes, and tell me to talk to someone else. Hooray. Can’t remember my name or anything that happened before that, and wouldn’t be able to remember anything else if it weren’t for these stupid things, but yeah, great, progress.”

She rolled her eyes as she shook her mangled and braceleted arm in Dorothea’s direction.

Ah. Getting closer.

“Those help you to remember? How so?”

Dorothea suppressed a wave of worry as Crowe pulled back into herself, putting her knees to her chest and hugging them tightly. Perhaps she’d gone too far, too quickly.

“I dunno. Something…” Her voice trailed off, became almost dreamy. Her eyes went the corner of the room, losing focus as though she was looking at something much farther away than the potted plant that held watch there.

Dorothea let her stare for several seconds, not wanting to break whatever spell she’d inadvertently conjured. When nothing else seemed forthcoming, she leaned forward, hands clasped between her own knees.

“Something…?” she whispered.

Crowe nodded, and when she spoke again, it was in a singsong whisper that reminded Dorothea of when she would sing lullabies to herself as a child.

“Something my mother told me to do. If you can’t remember, snap a band and all is better.”

Dorothea eyed the other woman’s arm again, thinking that the behavior must go quite a bit farther back than this most recent memory loss. Whatever lay beneath the mass of hair ties and rubber bands was much more damage than could have been done over the course of only a few days.

Perhaps things like this occur often, she considered. Then she shook the thought out of her head. Regardless of how often this occurred, step one was resolving the current episode. Then healing could really begin.

“Do you remember your mother, Miss Crowe?”

There was near silence for several long seconds, broken only by Crowe’s hissing breath and the tick of the clock atop the mantle. When she answered, she was still speaking in that child’s voice.

“Sometimes. When I’m bad.”

KA Spiral no signature



There’s a doorway. Over there. Wait. No. Over there. Maybe. Is it here? Could be.

It moves around, you know. Never in the same place for more than a minute or two. Oops. Missed it again, didn’t you? That’s okay. It’ll come back around. It likes to stay around here. Who knows why.

Where does it go? Who knows? Maybe to wherever it went. Maybe to wherever it came from. Maybe somewhere else. Wouldn’t it be fun if it happened to you right when you opened a normal door, and instead of your nice, normal life, you stepped through into something else?

But how would you leave? Is the door on the other side of itself? Does it move around over there, too? What does “over there” even mean? Does it matter? Try it and see.

Go on.

Open the door. Take a peek. Can’t hurt, can it? What, are you chicken? “Curiosity killed the cat,” you say? You obviously hadn’t heard about the second part of that. “Satisfaction brought him back.” Aren’t you curious? Don’t you want to be…

Wait! There it is again! Right there! Don’t you see it? You sure you’re not curio… okay. Be brave, m’lad. What can go wrong?

There you go. Enjoy the doorknob? I hear it’s made of genie’s brass. Or maybe it was Jenny’s ass. I disremember which.

Open it. Go on. It won’t leave until you open it or let go. How do I know? I just know these things. Yes. That’s it. Pull it open.

Doesn’t look like much, does it? I know. Step inside, though. You’ll see things. You’ll learn things. I promise. Go on, now.

Careful. First step’s a doozy.

KA Spiral no signature


Sleeping in

The harsh sound of ducks quacking interrupts the soothing voice of the British woman who has been talking to me for the last two hours. She’s currently telling me that she’d like me to touch the tip of my nose, then reach out and touch the tip of her finger repeatedly.

Both sounds come from the same place. My phone, lying on the bed. The ducks are just the alarm. I’d set it when I decided to take a nap, thinking it might improve my mood or give me the energy to do something besides watch television. An hour, I’d said. The hour was up, and then some.

I didn’t care. Without opening my eyes my thumb finds the right spot on the screen. The ducks stop; the British woman and her eye exam resume.

“Get up.”

The voice isn’t unexpected. It also doesn’t matter. I know if I look to the doorway, where it had come from, the owner of the voice wouldn’t be there, but I can picture him anyway: tall, pallid, thick mop of black hair, round glasses. A cigarette dangling from the corner of a scowling mouth, a tablet or laptop under one arm, and a camera in his other hand. Looking pissed because he had places to go, things to do, problems to solve.

“Don’t listen to him. Stay here. It’s better this way.”

That voice is more familiar. It’s comforting. Like the first, I know the owner isn’t actually there, but can picture him, too. Lying there with the covers pulled over his head, eyes closed, phone on his chest, listening to the British woman and ignoring the ticking of an internal clock as it wasted away. Seconds, minutes, hours, they didn’t matter to him, and he told me it shouldn’t matter to me, either.

I know them both very well. After all, they were me. The sleepy one was the one I listened to the most, though. No matter how much the angry, anxious one yelled – and he could yell plenty, something I envied about him – I could turn his volume down to nothing, listen to the tired one, and just stay here. I might feel bad about it later, and it might make the other one angrier later, but it doesn’t matter. I know if I stay here long enough, soon I can stay forever, and then it’ll all be darkness and soothing voices. No more shouting. No more fighting. No more pain.

“I said. Get. The. Fuck. Up.”

My eyes shoot open, and something is different. I can tell it’s been a while since they last had anything to say; my sense of time is broken, but not completely gone. But that’s not the problem. Time skips like that at the norm these days.

The problem is that he’s straddling me, his face inches from mine, teeth – the few he has left, anyway – bared at me, ash from his cigarette dropping onto my forehead. Somehow that detail, feeling the little flakes drift down from the glowing red eye of his cigarette and tickle their way across my forehead, my check, into the crease of my neck and give me the shivers like the thought of a bug crawling across me, is what convinces me this is real. Somehow, some way, he’s real, and he’s tired of putting up with my shit.

The camera and tablet aren’t with him; I imagine they’re still sitting by the doorway, carefully laid aside so they wouldn’t be damaged. He – we – always cared more for our things than ourselves. But everything else is the same; the Coyotes hoodie, the split left knee of his jeans, the jingling of his keys against the lighter and aspirator in his pocket, the dangling tail of the My Little Pony lanyard hanging loose and flopping as his lays hands on my shoulders and shakes me.

My head slams into the headboard, creating a white flash across my vision. When it clears, he’s still there, lips curled and eyes slitted in the same expression I’d seen in the mirror a hundred times before I took nails to flesh and clawed out a chunk of my own arm or my back.

“Go ‘way. Lemme ‘alone.” That was Sleepy. I don’t look. I’m afraid to look. It’s bad enough seeing one version of myself looking ready to kill me; I don’t want to confirm the physical reality of a third. Angry doesn’t have those problems. His head snaps to the left, he lets go of one of my shoulders, and a moment later I hear what sounds like a thundercrack and a mewl of pain. Blood begins to trickle from the side of my mouth, and Angry’s, and why not? What happens to one of us happens to all of us.

“You shut the fuck up. Christ. I’m trying to save us, here.”

Despite the rage and his actions, there’s a note of sincerity in his voice, curious but harsh care that somehow makes it worse. His attention comes back to me, locking eyes. His left hand rummages in his pocket for a moment and comes up full of pills. I know them well. Antipsychotics, antidepressants, antihistamines, steroids, cough suppressants. The things that keep me – us – alive and well. At least as well as we get, anyway.

His face doesn’t change from the bizarre mixture of care and hate as he hooks the index finger of his left hand into my mouth and forces it open. I try to talk, to yell at him to stop, but nothing comes out. He shoves the pills into my mouth, then clamps his hand over my lips and pinches my nose shut with the other hand. I don’t have a choice; I swallow.

“Good. Now get up. And don’t make me do it again.”

I blink, and he’s gone. For now. I glance down at the bed, and see three dents in it; one to either side of me, circular. Knees. To my side, a larger oblong one. The shape of a body.

That’s it. That’s enough. For today. The taste of the pills – the steroids, especially – is still on my tongue, stinging and rancid, and there wasn’t anything that would get rid of it except for chugging a soda and taking a hard drag on my vape box. The taste was shit, but it worked great as a motivator… once I had it in my mouth, anyway.

Time to get up. No more sleeping in.

KA Spiral no signature



Everyone’s in a constant battle for visibility these days. Frequently that battle seems to be waged on the field of social media, where Likes, Retweets, Shares, and Reactions serve to gauge if anyone is paying attention to you.

Probably not healthy, but it’s how things go these days.

There are some surefire ways to generate that; if you’re an attractive woman and throw up a pic of you gnawing on a PS4 controller, you’ll probably do well. If you’re a weird looking dude, you may do well, though not necessarily how you want to; being memed to death is perhaps not the best way to gain recognition, but hey, it worked. If you can come up with a fun, clickbaity thumbnail, you’ll do well… even if the content has nothing to do with it, because the numbers will look good even if the actual engagement or care isn’t there. If you can get the right popular person to retweet you, you’ll do well, because there’s always a legion of folks who will like and share anything their senpai says, regardless of context.

But if you’re a generic-looking individual, aren’t connected to the right people, don’t enjoy the clickbait thing and are no good at making memes, you likely feel invisible. If you don’t have many real-life friends and contacts who also follow you, it gets worse. You live in a little bubble of nothing.

I’m not trying to complain. I’m not pointing any fingers. Just noticing it.

I’ve always felt invisible. Part of that is my depression, I’m sure. Part of it is an… interesting childhood. But it also feels like when I call, leave voice messages, send e-mails, drop a Tweet, pick your poison… they go into a black hole. I’m getting a lot of this dealing with the disability people; I left four voice mails for my employer’s disability case manager not that long ago, spoke directly to her supervisor once and her underling twice, e-mailed paperwork to her, her supervisor, my manager and one of her underlings (said underling actually e-mailing me back to say “got it, thanks”) only for all of them to say they never got the message or the paperwork.

People say they’ll call back, they don’t. Ever. I have to call my shrink ten times, leave a voice mail each time, and finally hit that magic moment where he picks up the phone himself to schedule an appointment. Which will frequently be three months out, and twice when I showed up I was greeted with “Oh, he’s out of town today; we cancelled all his appointments. We must have forgotten to call you.”

I ask for input, for beta readers, for commentary, for any sort of interaction, and even the crickets leave the building. Most days, if I get a reaction at all, it’s to insult me – usually with the bog-standard “alt-right Nazi racist homophobic transphobe” or “ur ugly,” which is its own special disappointment… I wasn’t even interesting enough to come up with a good insult – and I’m hitting a point where “bad attention is better than no attention” is starting to make sense.

I make a Tweet, and despite having around 350 followers, the views and interactions are in the single digits. Make a blog post, and 9 views is a big deal. Not that I’m not happy – someone is reading it, at least – but it’s still kind of saddening. What makes it worse is that if I reblog something or retweet something, they have ridiculous numbers in comparison. I don’t know if that’s because it counts views and interactions from the original or not – I don’t think so, but I’m dumb when it comes to how all these statistics work – but my brain tells me the problem is something else.

I’m just that boring. I’m so boring that I create a massive black hole around me, and anything I say just falls into it. It’s a fascinating concept – and probably wrong – but perversely amusing all the same. “I suck so much, I’ve created a gravitational warp, that only other people’s words can escape!”

“Aha,” says I. “I know the answer!” Silly me, it’s not trying to figure out what makes good content – mainly because I apparently don’t know what that is, and can’t catch anyone’s attention to tell me what I’m doing wrong – but rather, to make as much garbage content as possible! If I cram that magic black hole so full of crap it can’t take anymore, the spillover should be noticed!

Right? Right?!

Don’t mind me. I’m just crazy, out of my meds, and still trying to get the damned shrink to refill them. Back to trying to scribble on “Dr. Gale.”

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