I’m a couple of days early in releasing this, yes. And that’s ok. I wanted to do this when I had plenty of time to think about it. When I first sat down to begin writing this post, my mind went blank. It was as though this month didn’t happen, or perhaps it was so traumatic that I didn’t want to think about it. I know better than that. As always, reality is somewhere in between… which is why I’ve started doing these monthly assessments in the first place. Without understanding where I’ve been, what I’ve done, and what I’ve experienced, I can’t continue to grow.
I’ve recently started trying to break the wall of text posts into visible subsections where applicable. Per suggestion, it should make things easier, or at least more inviting, to read. Hopefully that helps. It may help me stay organized too. These topics should probably be separate posts, but… whatever. You get what I give. lol
Politics and Identity
Politically, it’s been a charged month. Maybe overcharged would be a better word for it. My visit with the parents blew up in my face because of it, though that’s been building all my life and probably always will. Walking out still doesn’t sit well with me, but in regards to my mental health on this, even my therapist said it was the right call. Ultimately, I can do very little about my Dad or those like him who have normalized the extremes. What I can do is consistently reassess my own views and continually question why I have them. I’ve done a lot of that too this month. I’ve confronted the foundations of my country’s wealth and power base, I’ve looked into the larger epochs of our political structure since the Depression era, and I’ve considered the conclusions from an historian in his attempts to make sense of it all.
I’ve prided myself in the past on walking the middle path, trying to see both sides, having a foot in both camps, and resisting the extremes of both sides. I study a lot of history for that reason, so I can keep a larger perspective. Some think that makes me non-committal. Maybe that’s true from a certain point of view, but it also makes me committed to finding a stability amidst the chaos, a situation I’ve come to know a great deal about in the quest simply to understand who I am. Funny how many of life’s lessons tie together in the most unexpected ways. Because I know who I am, and because the concept of civil rights is so dear to me, I find myself eschewing a little more to the left than before. This is likely a resistance to the jackbooted ideas I’m being hit with. Vigilance without fanaticism: that’s the real trick. I’m not so good at reining in my heart when I get passionate about something.
Life in General
It’s been hotter than hell this month. We went from highs in the mid-80s to highs hovering well over the 100 mark. For a while there it was well over the 110 mark. But no, there’s no such thing as climate change. I get it, July in Texas is hot, but… damn. That’s hot for August, let alone July. Heat exhaustion finally beat me down. Had to miss a couple of days work due to vertigo, migraines, and nausea. Rain and a cool front are supposed to break it tonight. The reprieve will be welcome. But it’s not over yet. So looking forward to August now… On the bright side, when the temperatures are that hot, no one’s out in it making enough racket to wake the dead, so at least there’s some reprieve on that side of the scale too.
I reconnected with an old college friend after 8 years of him being missing in action. Oh, the stories! He’s been through some serious hell, and while things are finally looking up, these aren’t my stories to share, so I’ll leave it at that. As with all of my friends locally, scheduling is a bitch and her puppies, so we connect where we can. The other friend I reached out after a long absence to has likely written me off. So be it, I tried. I’ll continue to cultivate and cherish the friendships that are working, on both sides of the screen.
My therapist seems to think I’m making progress. It’s true, I’m a lot happier now that I’ve upgraded my Bose noise canceling headphones to the latest and more effective model. lol. Some things are absolutely worth the expense, even when I think I can’t afford it, especially when it makes a world of difference like this. Therapy has gone from a weekly session to meeting every two weeks. She’s trying to encourage me to be more socially active, to meet more people. Always the answer for an introvert. *thumbs up* There are all manner of legitimate complications (distance, lack of money, scheduling, lack of community in the area) on that beyond my normal excuses (SPD, lazy, wary of other humans), so I don’t know how that’ll play out. I’ve peeked into other sci-fi groups, some pagan groups, and even a couple of trans groups. Nothing feels right for me based on their presentation and other factors. Everything else around here seems to be for professional networking or church groups, which I have zero interest in. I may convince her to the do the legwork and see what happens. After all, she’s getting paid, and this is presumably part of the process.
Related to that, the monthly sci-fi meetup I’ve been attending for over a decade could have gone better. Could have gone a lot worse, but the writing’s on the wall, I fear. I want to help where I can to steer that ship into better waters, but I’m slowly coming to grips with the understanding that it’s not my call to make.
The Blog Projects
I’m not going to bother with page links for this section. SEO tells me I should, but… meh. I couldn’t care less about SEO. If you’re interested, you can find landing pages for all my projects in the site menu. You know, because heaven forbid anyone leave the safety and comfort of their feeds. lol. But seriously… if you’ve not done so, look around, see if there’s anything there you might enjoy. Or not. Your choice, of course. Your choice.
The Tolkien buddy read (Silmarillion Blues) officially returned this month with Unfinished Tales. I love Tolkien, I love Middle-Earth, and I love the creative process. What’s not to love here? These posts are dropping every two weeks, largely because I know some chapters / subsections will require the deeper dive, and largely because my own schedule has been scattershot at best. I want to keep the train moving. This would be more of that discipline I was just talking about.
The Sherlock Holmes buddy read (The Game is Afoot!) continues. “The Adventure of the Second Stain” drops this Friday, which wraps The Return of Sherlock Holmes. After that, we have 19 short stories and one novel remaining; 20 stories. So we’ve blogged exactly 2/3 of the canon now. I don’t think it’s any stretch to say that we’re coming to the stories most people aren’t familiar with at all. I am, but this is hardly my first read-through of the entire canon, and it certainly won’t be the last. It’s also been a while since I’ve visited many of these, so it’ll be cool to see how my perception differs over the last time.
My Star Trek project (These Are the Voyages) jumped back out of spacedock and is cruising at low warp once more. In my spare time (what is that, really?), I’ve started watching — and blogging about — all of the classic original series episodes. I’m not sure this is going to be quite as steady as I hoped just due to everything else, but I do want to stick with it. My end goal is to hit up all of Trek canon.
Other projects right now are just sort of happenstance as I get to them. This month, I posted a bit in Project: Monster, Just Listen, and busted through King Lear for No-Fear Shakespeare.
Brontë, Brontë, Brontë!
The rabbit hole of great literature finally led me to the collective works of the Brontë sisters. It began in late June with their poetry, continued with a biography of Charlotte, which naturally discussed Emily and Anne in detail as part of an isolated and interconnected whole. From there, I’ve gone through Jane Eyre, Wuthering Heights, and Agnes Grey. Oh, and lest I forget, there was a side trip through The Poetry of Scotland in the middle of that because I needed a palette cleanser after Emily Brontë got done with me. I regret nothing!
Incidentally, I did go back and watch the 1939 version of Wuthering Heights just for comparison. I’m seriously bad about not reviewing the movies I watch. I wonder why that is? Anyway… Laurence Olivier as Heathcliff, Merle Oberon as Catherine… it was an excellent translation. It made the story that much more vibrant on account, and even a bit more enjoyable. It also covers only the first half of the book and ties it off. I think I’d like to see some later translations of all of these novels at some point. I know there are plenty to choose from. I’ll get there eventually. It’s not like I don’t have a whole stack of stuff to watch, including that long-neglected Disney project, Mouse Magic.
Anne’s The Tenant of Wildfell Hall is next for me, followed by the remaining works by Charlotte. I don’t want to get burned out or have things run together, so I’m going to space out these remaining novels between other reads. Fact is, I got pulled back into the Middle Ages. If anyone would understand that, it’s the Victorians.
The books from the Middle Ages are calling to me. Books about books from the Middle Ages are calling to me. The music of the era always calls to me. In the middle of that (ha!), my friend Samantha Wilcoxson released her latest novella, which only spurred that horse even more. It takes very little to pull me back into this era, and there are a lot of things that just prod at me (like Tolkien, because how could he not?). I hate to say it, but with all the different things I’m working through and want to work through, I may have to stop this idea of “mood reading” for a while and start disciplining myself to focus. Better late than never, right? I’m toying with the idea of breaking these things into chunks. The idea I had, which I may yet implement, is operating with a “theme month.” The only thing I fear if I do that is the possibility of burnout. That’s why I keep bouncing back and forth between so many things. I think I can do this, though, seeing as how I do have those regular projects going to keep the variety coming. Say what you will, but buddy reads are very effective for keeping a forward momentum, at least I think so. It’s why Middle-Earth and Sherlock Holmes keep going so well on this site.
Somewhere in the back of my mind, I still want to compile a list of Arthurian works for another themed project. I’m just afraid that might kill me with everything else I’m doing. Maybe I’ll think on that after I depart 221B. Or maybe some other buddy read will pop up. You never can tell in my world.
I’m still thinking about adding a podcast to this site. I don’t want to just do one simply to do one though. I want it to actually be worth it, to add to what I’m already doing and to help me advance on things like presentation, communication, and so on. I’m taking all suggestions into consideration. Mostly I feel like I need a co-caster for this one. Is that even a word, co-caster? It works. Let’s use it.
Other Points of Infinite Coolness
So many little things popped up right at the end of the month that have my attention. Let’s see if I can keep track of them all.
It’s been revealed the Apollo 11 mission tapes have been digitized and released to the public. That’s huge!
On the Star Wars front, we have an official cast list for Episode IX. The last of the Skywalker saga, the core of the story. The return of Carrie Fisher thanks to some hopefully seamless editing and storytelling to accommodate unused footage from The Last Jedi. I never thought to hold out hope that would happen, but now it makes me want to see the film in spite of other misgivings. Speaking of, we’ve got some remorse from Simon Pegg after all that back there, which prompted me to forgive him. I’ve been thinking a lot of Ahmed Best since word of his contemplated suicide came out. I hope he’ll find the healing he needs in the fandom that drove him to such despair. Seems fitting. More than that, I hope he and Pegg are able to sit down and have a heart to heart. I think that would go a long way to a lot of ends.
There’s a documentary out there that every Batman and comic book fan needs to see. It’s called Batman and Bill. It’s all about the true origins of the creation of this character and the quest to get writer Bill Finger the co-creator credit he so desperately deserved. It’s heartbreaking to watch this, I’m not going to lie. It makes me sick how much injustice was done to a man whose legacy is one of the greatest and most enduring characters of all time. At least now history can start undoing the damage. I’ve always known Finger’s involvement, but I don’t think anyone outside of the profession knew the full extent. I’m glad I do now. So far as I’m concerned, he’s the creator of Batman. Bob Kane’s role as artist and business collaborator can’t be dismissed, but I think it’s safe to say his legacy will forever be tarnished, and rightfully so. The man was a jackass.
On a side note, it also changes some perceptions I had about Kane ripping off an old silent film to create this character. I wrote an in-depth term paper back in film school about the 1926 film The Bat. (Have I mentioned once or twice how much I love silent films?) I don’t have that paper anymore. I mean, seriously, it’s been 25 years. But I am surprised I’ve not reviewed the movie since. Might have to do that at some point for my Modern Age Myths series… another one of those projects languishing in hibernation, largely due to my disconnect from the world of comics in recent years. While I can never go home again because of the reboots that killed it for me, it seems I can’t not look back either, no matter how hard I try.
I miss my heroes. Damn you, DC…
I don’t want to wrap this up on a negative note like that, so I’ll reveal one more thing that’s happening behind the scenes. While not entirely successful (yet), I’ve been working towards rebuilding a regular spiritual practice. It’s not always easy even when you have some kind of tradition to follow. I don’t even have that. I operate more by heart and intuition than anything else. There’s something comforting in the idea of ritual, however, and I find that my heart is drawn ever as it has been towards the concept of cycles. It’s not something Western tradition focuses on, ever. Too feminine. I find it comforting, though. It plays into the old axiom of “As above, so below; as within, so without.” It seems like that would be a direct contradiction to a transgirl. Being trans is the great cosmic riddle at the core of my being. Most of the time it screws with me. But there are times when I think I’m that much closer to the creator because of it, which only seems to be confirmed when I imagine the lines of people with pitchforks and torches screaming “blasphemy!” at me like I’m in some old monster movie. It’s why I’m attracted as I am to mysticism. Dogma is the path of those whose ties are closer to the earth and need a reminder. Mysticism is for… more. So much more. I’m proud of the road I walk, even if most would condemn me for it. Some might call it sorcery. I think of it more as Source-ery. It’s probably the difference in perception (and pretension) as “magick with a k,” but it is a shift that serves me very well. It’s also the means that keeps me from being as potentially suicidal as my trans sisters and brothers out there. The idea has been — for a lot of years now — to figure out why I need to live like this, what it is I’m supposed to learn. It’s mind-screw 101, which I sometimes think is the introductory class to mysticism. As much as it causes great turmoil to do it, I also find profound comfort at times in reaching deeper into myself to find the Source within.
And like most mystics, any attempt to explain it further would make me sound quite mad. :P
I’m calling it here. Two more days in the month, but that’s ok. The calendar doesn’t always work on my schedule either, so why should the same hold true in reverse?