A lot changed this past month. A lot. That’s typically how things work. You dig the hole deeper until one day you realize you’re either stuck and need help or you’re wise enough to figure a way out on your own. No one ever accused me of being wise. Fact is, I was stuck a long time ago on a great many things.
Let’s talk about the fun stuff I typically blog about first, then I’ll get into the heavier issues. On the book front, March started off with a bang, despite having sort of fizzled.
Having completed The Silmarillion slightly ahead of schedule, I returned to a project that’s been unceremoniously kicked to the side too many times to count despite all passion and respect for the Bard. Early in the month, I finally knocked out my post for Richard III, completing The Hollow Crown cycle of plays. Only one more historical play left, Henry VIII, and then I’ll move on to the canonical tragedy plays.
Mid-march continued the Tolkien quest as I began on a formal two-week schedule to pursue Unfinished Tales. That came to a screeching halt mere days into it when it was determined a hiatus would be needed. I’ll discuss that in depth later in this post. Likewise, the Sherlock Holmes buddy read is taking a break after finishing The Hound of the Baskervilles.
At long last, I also finished Doc Savage: Empire of Doom by Will Murray (writing as Kenneth Robeson). In recent years I’ve gained so much more respect for Doc, to the point where he’s starting to rival this book’s guest star, The Shadow. I always knew that’d be the case, it was merely a question of time and money to invest in the world of Doc Savage. It’s wonderful that given the amount of badly done reboots and such, there’s someone out there carrying the torch for the classics without the need to change who they are and what they mean to pop culture. The name of the game is simply to honor the legacy and to have fun. Spot on! Though having said that… the ending of this book truly sucked to the point of implosion. That, too, is a pulp legacy, where the setup is so much better than the payoff. Sometimes it happens. I just expected a great deal more out of this one.
My desire to finally read Boccaccio’s The Decameron took root once more in my psyche, being one of the great collections of stories from the Middle Ages I’ve not yet visited. Likewise, the Renaissance is calling to me again as well, this time through Edmund Spenser’s epic poem The Faerie Queene. Obviously I cannot do both at the same time, so I had to pick. The Decameron won out simply for being on my to-read list longer and because I know it to be an influence of The Canterbury Tales. I read the intro and the first story and promptly decided I needed better resources and mindset to get the most of out of it. So I started The Faerie Queene a couple of days later. Same result. I got a little ways in, and then I stopped. See a pattern here? I’m seriously not in a place where I can focus on heavier literature like that right now. Hopefully soon I’ll get there because I do enjoy what I’ve read so far. I just can’t concentrate. But I did read Edith Wharton’s False Dawn.
I also read some things I haven’t blogged about at all. I read three more short stories by Edith Wharton: “Souls Belated,” “The Muse’s Tragedy,” and “Roman Fever.” Impressive to the last on all counts. I started on a fantasy series that was recommended by a respected swordfighter I follow. I shouldn’t have bothered. The first fight scene involved using double rapiers, which is just beyond awkward to do no matter how cool anyone thinks it looks, and I don’t buy the concept of armor-plated greatcoats as an acceptable form of armor. Sorry, no. Just… no. I worked a little further in, but I ended up stopping before long because the book was making me ranty. Tolkien has truly ruined me for fantasy, it seems, and that’s probably not a bad thing. Pip Ballantine and Tee Morris released the final book in their Ministry of Peculiar Occurrences series, Operation: Endgame. It’s a fun little steampunk adventure series that I described from the beginning as one part X-Files, one part 007. I know this is will likely sound weird, but as much as I enjoyed it, I’m also glad to see it wrap up with a solid finale (though there are other stories to be told in that world). I worked through Sarah McBride’s memoir Tomorrow Will Be Different: Love, Loss, and the Fight for Trans Equality. Incredibly powerful stuff. It put a great many things into focus that I didn’t really expect regarding politics, civil rights, society… basic humanity. And on the heels of that, I picked up humorist Danny Wallace’s F You Very Much: Understanding the Culture of Rudeness — And What We Can Do About It. I needed this one. For as long as I live, I will never see a hot dog without thinking of this book and getting a grin.
Although I didn’t blog about it, I took some time out to visit the Dallas Arboretum. Far from my first visit, there’s something about this place that — when not overcrowded — allows me to just commune with nature in a somewhat controlled manner and leave behind all stress. There are few things so magical as the scent of cherry blossoms and other assorted flowers on a gentle wind.
Star Wars: Rebels had its series finale, which likewise operated as a finale to The Clone Wars and to the entirety of the George Lucas era. I hope they’ll still revisit those earlier eras down the road, but I know how these things go in cycles. Stargate: Origins has wrapped the first season, and… well, I already blogged about that too. I recently finished up season two of Marvel’s Jessica Jones on Netflix. I am truly impressed yet again with this series. Some serious character development and story arcs in this. Fearless storytelling.
Ok, let’s talk about the elephant in the room.
I’m on hiatus, as we all know. Project blogs have stopped, reviews aren’t really happening for now… life in general is sort of on standby mode. I said I wasn’t going to blog much during this time. I never said I wasn’t going to blog at all. I’m just slowing down long enough to figure out what end’s up. If you’ve followed me for a while, you know that sooner or later I write about it just so I can get things into focus. That’s what writing does for me.
Here’s the thing. I have some longstanding issues that feed other problems. In some ways, I’m fortunate. I don’t do drugs, I’m not suicidal… nothing like that. I might have a single drink every three or four (sometimes six) months, at which point I’m liable to pass out almost immediately because I’m a serious lightweight on that front too. But everyone’s got an Achilles’ Heel. Mine is shopping. I buy books. I buy music. And up until pop culture kept shooting itself in the foot, repulsing me enough to outright divorce some of my once-favorites, I bought plenty of toys. Like any addiction, you go all-in because it makes you feel good, and that high gets less and less with every hit. When the things you’re addicted to turn sour, it makes it very easy to quit cold turkey.
Debt consolidation has officially happened. The evil monkey of credit cards has been forcibly pulled from my back, held down, and shot in the face repeatedly, so from here I’m in a position to pay it all off. Another long road, but one that’s far easier to walk than the one I was building through Mordor. I’ve got a budget worked out, and I plan to sell some of the accumulated stuff that no longer brings me happiness. If anyone wants to buy some Star Wars or Wonder Woman merch, now’s a good time to ask.
That’s not nearly enough. Debt like that happens as a symptom or a side effect. I’ve long since named my demons and recognize them for what they are: depression, anger, anxiety, stress, insomnia, sensory processing disorder. My life, both at work and at home, are largely spent in noise-cancelling headphones because I don’t deal well with the outside world. If it weren’t for trips to the Dallas Symphony and the occasional get together with friends or family, I’d essentially be in solitary confinement. By choice. I’m told this isn’t good either, but “getting out and doing stuff” isn’t nearly as easy as all that for me for a wide variety of reasons. At the top of that list, my mental issues cause physical and emotional pain that I’m not equipped to deal with, and these issues are getting steadily worse.
After a lifetime of mounting compound stupidity, I’ve finally decided to do something about it. I hate bullies, you see, and that’s more or less what these problems are. I choose to confront and, where necessary, fight. After some weeks of calling around and getting no responses, I finally found a therapist… one who actually called me back within 10 minutes on Easter morning. Yeah, it surprised the hell out of me too. That, people, is dedication! My therapist specializes in Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, which means we’ll be focused on developing some coping mechanisms. My first session is next week.
In the meantime, I’ve got some fun coming my way, which I’m now seeing as a reward for putting all of this other stuff into motion. Tuesday night I’m attending a screening of Monty Python and the Holy Grail featuring a Q&A with the one and only John Cleese. This weekend, Scarborough Renaissance Festival opens the gates. I’ll be there on Sunday. The DSO is performing Beethoven’s Symphony No. 2 the Saturday after that.
I think that’s everything. It’s certainly enough. Here’s to a productive and potentially happier April. A word of profound thanks to the friends in my life who are keeping me sane. You know who you are.