overwhelming 3

We fired four people. I’m asking for two. The answer I get is: well, it’s not just about workload. We have to make the numbers work.

Um… two weeks ago we were were paying four guys a quarter million dollars yearly between them. Now I only have enough room in the budget to hire one guy for maybe forty grand?

They weren’t fired because they cost too much. They were fired because they were shitty at their job and they constantly picked fights/lied/made violent threats against their coworkers… for SEVEN FUCKING YEARS.

What the actual fuck.

Target: 300 words
Written: 264 words, hip little story: Get Back Again


So, a couple of weeks ago, my employer finally listened to us and got rid of the absolutely toxic contractors we’d been trying to get gone for years.

For way too long, we endured a firehose of lies, of half-assed efforts, of verbal abuse and sometimes, threats of physical violence.

The downside is that the bosses didn’t seem to actually have a plan for how to replace the work these guys did (which admittedly wasn’t a lot, but it was some and there were four of them), and so apparently, it’s all my job?

Even the stuff I told them I’m not capable of doing.

I have no regrets getting rid of those guys. I’m still not happy about suddenly working a position that’s twenty-four-seven again, and hoping desperately it’s rectified shortly.

Time to write is imperative.

Target: 200 words
Written: 358 words, hip little story: Get Back Again


I’ve never been diagnosed with anything in particular, but I would guess, that given over to a team of psychiatrists (or psychologists, I’m never clear which is which), they’d come up with a few things.

Chronic, persistent depression is a given. There’s likely some anxiety and some paranoia, perhaps a touch of OCD and oppositional defiant disorder. Some hypochrondria, maybe.

Comorbidities, they call them, and doesn’t that just sound like such a pleasant goddamn word.

Insecurity, low self esteem, low self opinion, it’s all fucking wonderful.

I like to think of it as incomplete.

Sometimes, it’s a monster that comes around and undermines everything I do. The rest of the time it’s something to get past, to work on, to minimize with the hope of one day eliminating.

Some days, that even feels possible.

Other days, it’s a goddamn demogorgon, a thousand feet tall and surrounded by a horde of baby demogorgons and other nightmares straight out of a Lovecraft novel. Lovecraft, despite the racist overtones, having perfected the art of amorphous terror.

I rely on organization and routine to control the spiral, while simultaneously trying to use that routine to focus only on giving me free time with which to enjoy whatever happens at random. Time with family, a good movie or TV show, laughs with friends. Time to sit and enjoy the sun or a fresh blanket of snow, or videos of baby foxes getting tickled.

Too much organization becomes a mindlocking nightmare. Not enough organization becomes a death spiral.

Life is confusing and fun, isn’t it?

Target: 200 words
Written: 666 words, hip little story: Get Back Again


Today is a day for travel, and for a reunion with that brilliant little bit of happy, pudgy fun, my granddaughter.

There’s something so pure about that connection, about that child’s happiness, that it can’t help but break a person’s heart wide open.

God, I love that kid.

Target: 200 words
Written: 3756 words, comic: Romance #1


I don’t have a lot of anger. What I have is a lot of frustration which comes out in anger. I know what I want to do, become depressed or stressed and fail, then get frustrated, and ultimately, angry.

But I don’t have a lot of anger.

There are a lot of things to be angry about. The selfishness of anti-vaxxers. The death cult of Trumpers and other right wing nuts. Vladimir Putin.

That’s the global stuff.

There’s also the unfairness of the system in which we live, where little traps are set and education does not provide us the information we need to craft the lives we want until years later, already locked into debt and jobs and mortgages and various other circumstances we fall into, we find ourselves trapped.

Locked in place by a system that exists not to free us, but to chain us to the profit motive.

Other people’s profit.

It’s enough to piss you off. No one needs multimillion dollar yachts or so much money they can send themselves to space for a joyride. What we need is to live, without unnecessary fear for our health or well-being, with an ability to put food on the plate, have a place to stash our bodies for the night and a connection with the people and world around us.

Experience is worth more than things.

We are not taught this. We are taught to buy things instead, as though a bigger TV or a fancy watch or a nice dress will make us better people. Happier people.

It’s hard not to be angry. And I am. At injustice. At hypocrisy. At the selfish blindness of it all.

But more than that, on a daily basis, I am frustrated. And though I could channel that into righteous anger, it more often than not manifests as frustrated anger. Stressed out anger. The kind of anger that is purely destructive and cathartic only for a moment before the shame creeps in and the consequences come knocking and the downward spiral gets a little farther downward.

I am not an angry person. I am a frustrated one. I am one that wants a moment’s peace. Some time to get my head on right.

The world rarely seems to allow for that.

Bold moves would be required.

And I am nothing if not timid. Shy. Introverted. I do not sell myself.

It makes me feel icky.

And it leaves me here, in the same place, in the same mire of frustration, and that, more than anything, is the source of whatever I feel.

Would that it were easier. Would that this frustration could be channeled into something productive. Would that this anger could claim righteous cures.

But when has anger cured anything? When has frustration, allowed to fester, made things better?

These are the questions I ask going forward.

These are the questions that haunt me.

Target: 200 words
Written: 389 words, comic: Romance #1

little victories

There was a time when replacing the heating element on an oven would have sent me into a spiral. I was a writer. An artist. A geek. Computer guy.

Home repair was not my thing. It wasn’t in my DNA.

Over the years however, faced with the choice to pay an expensive contractor or repairman to do the work for me, I’ve had to learn how to deal with some of this stuff myself.

At first, that involved histrionic fits, downward spirals and frustration as I bumped up against my complete and total lack of knowledge. Anything more than hanging a painting was a shotgun blast through the centre of my image of myself as an intelligent human being, sending me careening over the cliff.

Identity destroyed.

I am making progress. Not only did I replace the heating element on my oven last night, I did it easily, without frustration and got that pleasure warm flush of satisfaction at a job well done when it lit up red.

No histrionics. No frustration. No spiralling rage at my own helpless hopelessness.

It’s taken years to get to this point.

Not that I’m some expert repairman, or that replacing a heating element is particularly difficult (it’s actually embarrassingly simple), and I can still get frustrated, but the minor fact of having done a few things successfully, using logic and patience, has built up my confidence in my ability to be able to tackle such tasks without the usual self-recrimination, questioning of manhood and so on.

Part of it is attention training, the meditation practice that I can use to short circuit some of the frustration I feel simply by stopping for a minute and communing with my breath or the silence or simply existence as a whole. A deep, conscious breath is often all that is needed to reverse the downward spiral.

Finally, the biggest mindset change was moving from a belief that it’s inherent within me that I’m not capable of physical labour and home repair to one that says it’s simply a skill I haven’t learned yet. Each successful task and new challenge is an opportunity to learn. Sometimes, like the furnace repair a couple of years ago will be beyond me and I have to call an expert. Some, like the leaky drain hose on my dishwasher were things that just took some time, some advice and a couple of experiments. Some needed help, like replacing the posts in a leaning fence, but we did it, and if I ever have to do it again, I’ll know how.

Bully for me.

I take pride in the little victories, small as they might be. I find more joy in the times where I managed to avoid getting lost in my own head and frustration, that I might fall into the task with an open mind and willing heart.

Sometimes, like last night, it works, and I have a functional oven again. Maybe, someday, I can do that for a living, instead of the nightmarish hell of this job, and the relentless time and joy vortex that comes with it.

Target: 200 words
Written: 250 words, comic: Romance #1

on false hope

Once upon a time, I dared to dream. I dared to believe that all could be free, that everyone was special, if only they would just believe in themselves, and that I could change not a world, but a universe. Infinite universes.

Turns out I can barely change a mind not my own. I can barely change my own mind sometimes.

I believe in the truth of these things, but since I’ve long since insisted on playing devil’s advocate with all beliefs, including my own, and using as many perspectives as possible to live in reality as it is as well as it could be, I recognize a true fact.

For the majority of us, true freedom, true success, truly changing the world… it’s hopeless. It’s a wall against which to beat our heads, to smash in our skulls, all the while knowing that whatever progress we make can be undone. The history of humanity is not huge leaps forward, but incremental steps, with leaden boots.

New technology, new governments, new religions, new ideas – these things shape the world. They are almost inevitably perverted by those seeking fame or power or wealth.

I want none of these things anymore.

I want to make little things better with simple acts of kindness or truth. That’s it. I don’t need to end fascism for all time; human nature dictates that’s an impossibility, certainly in one lifetime. They’ll kill us all first to hold on to their own sick egos.

I don’t need to achieve world peace or be the greatest artist ever to exist. I don’t need to be the Wyld Stallions.

I just need to make my nieces laugh, or help a customer or tell someone behaving poorly, gently, a hard truth.

I need to tell myself hard truths. I need to force my eyes open. I need to have as many eyes as I need to see as much as I can, and I need to keep forcing them open.

I may not change the world. I can change me. I can help in little ways. I can honour truth. Freedom. Beauty. I can leave it better than I found it. I can do my best not to contribute to suffering.

That’s it. That’s the best I can do, and I will probably fail at that as well, often enough to be embarrassed about it.

The world is not my oyster. It just is, and I am within it.

Target: 200 words
Written: 185 words, comic: Romance #1