Fan fiction through the lens of schizoaffective disorder

Until my breakdown at age 23, I read a shitload of fiction.  I’ve always been a big reader, but back then it was mostly novels.  After I started recovering enough to read again, I found I could only read non-fiction.  And I’ve figured out over the years why I can read some things but not others.

I don’t trust my brain.  I can’t.  For too many years it lied to me about what was and was not reality.  Novels require too much imagination.  I get lost.  It makes me deeply uncomfortable.  So instead I took up weird history books, because history is (more or less) true stories.  I still get to enjoy a good tale, but it’s a tale based in reality.

But about a year ago, I discovered I can read fan fiction.  It was a huge breakthrough for me.  It doesn’t require as much imagination, you see.  I already know what the characters look and sound like, because I’ve seen them in comics or films or television shows.  I know how the rules of their universe work.  I know they are played by real people.  So I can lose myself in fanfic, because I don’t completely lose myself.  Fanfic leaves me an anchor to the real world.  And I adore it for that.

I can also read comics for the same reason — I can see the characters and their world, so I don’t get lost.  I don’t have to trust my brain to fill in the imagery, because it’s right there on the page.  I read a fair amount of comics these days, but most of them are short reads.  For long reads I like novel-length fanfic works, if they’re written well.  And many are.  Ao3 has been a lifesaver, in terms of new reading material.

Sometimes I try to read regular novels.  I do.  But it’s incredibly difficult for me.  I’m so lucky I have other options.  Because stories are wonderful things, and I’d hate to not be able to read any at all.

Energy is back!

Since my last post, I went back up on my Trintellix.  (Which used to be called Brintellix, but it sounded too much like some other drug — Brillenta, I think? — so they recently changed it.)  I am happy to report more energy and more Getting Shit Done.  In the last two days, anyway.  It’s a start.

I have a skirt.  It’s ankle-length and black.  My sister got it for me yesterday at Target, as I’ve had the weird urge to wear one lately.  I put it on with a black T-shirt and my purple Docs, and I didn’t feel even slightly feminine.  Gender-bendy as fuck, instead, which is exactly what I wanted.  I look transmasculine/androgynous even with the skirt on.  It’s lovely.  It really brings home my personal definition of genderqueer: my brain leans more towards female even though I feel gender dysphoria about my body and want it to be a cis male’s.  “Gender dysphoria” is a misnomer, really.  My gender is fine.  I am very happy with it.  It’s my body that’s wrong.  So shouldn’t it be called “sex dysphoria” instead?  At any rate, I want to paint my fingernails and toenails black sometime soon.  And buy some boxer briefs to wear under the skirt.  Thigh chafing hurts.

Hurricane Hermine: why didn’t they call it Hermione?  It would have been so much cooler that way.  Anyway, we lost power several times during the night, but it always came back on within ten minutes or so.  My mom’s room is in the back of the apartment, and mine at the front; our rooms are the same size, as are our windows, but the placement of the rooms meant she couldn’t hear anything but rain.  I, on the other hand, spent all night listening to howling winds try to break my window.  It wasn’t scary, just annoying because I was trying to sleep.  If it had been daytime I would have enjoyed the sounds, but by two in the morning I was ready to get out my isolation headphones.  (I wasn’t the only one listening to the storm.  Several of my local friends were also awake and posting on Facebook at that hour.)  We weren’t damaged, our cars weren’t damaged (despite being under a giant tree), and we didn’t even lose internet for very long.  A lot of locals got it worse; when I went to get my hair cut Saturday, there were women there talking about not having their power back until that morning.

And now, for some goth shopping: Joanns has these cool 16″ vulture skeletons and I want one so bad.  Or the owl ones, the owl ones are badass, but more expensive.  I don’t want them enough to pay $30-40 for one, but damn they’re cool.

Boneyard Vulture at Joanns

Oh fuck, just looked at their site, to get a pic to share, and their Halloween stuff is 40% off.  It can go next to the head-on-a-silver-platter, which still resides on my bedroom dresser.  That really was a good idea, I think.  Which reminds me, I still need wall art for my room.  I should probably get that instead of the vulture, but I can buy art posters all year round.  Ooh, they have a small tombstone for $4.  My dresser is going to look awesome.  My wallet always hates me in the fall, because ALL THE HALLOWEEN STUFF!!!

One other little DIY project I want to do is get a bendy black Halloween spider and make it a tiny bit of knitting-in-progress and bend the front legs so it looks like the spider’s knitting.  I’ll give it teeny needles and everything.  Maybe stick it on a black wreath for the front door.  Spiders spin, and mine will knit as well.  Maybe the knitting will be from that fake cobweb stuff?  Oooooh.

Oh oh oh — I can buy fake black roses this time of year, too.  Neeeeeed.  Okay, shutting up about Halloween goodies now.  But when Eris (my kleptomaniacal black kitty) starts walking around the house with a black rose in his teeth, I will totally be taking photos.  (And, if they’re any good, using them as profile pictures in my online haunts.)

Knitting: the green and black shirt continues, in off moments.  My main project is place mats for the dining table.  They are bright yellow, in a basic basketweave pattern.  When Mom and I moved into this apartment, most of her decorating stuff was blue and yellow so we stuck with it.  Happily, the paintings on the walls look like Tim Burton took drugs (happy ones) and painted them.  So at least a little of the living room is to my taste.

Spinning, weaving, and sewing: haven’t done any of it since the last post.

Cello: not since Monday or so.  As I said, I’ve only been feeling better for two days.  Mom just left for a party, though, so I’ll play while she’s gone.  I feel weird about playing with her here, because I feel like it has to be annoying to hear me play the same thing over and over.  Especially when it’s the same three or four notes over and over…

Okay, enough babbling.  I think I need to go buy a vulture skeleton now…

Cello, crafting, and other updates

When I made my last post (August 8th, ouch) I was doing well and had some energy and… I hate medication changes.  My Trintellix dosage has been titrated to half of what it was, and I think maybe I need to go back up.

Today (technically yesterday, it’s 1:30am right now) I had my first cello lesson in a few weeks.  I hadn’t played since my last lesson.  Bad Switch, no cookie.  But it was good.  Toward the end we were doing a duet of the Jenny Lind Polka, and my conscious mind was just gone.  It was an odd feeling.  I had been lightheaded, and I just… see note, play note, no thinking.  It’s not like I was lost in the music, but rather the opposite; like autopilot.

Overall I’ve lost ground, and have to have tape for my fourth finger position again.  On the positive side, it helps me get into second position, although much to my amusement I did better at shifting once I stopped looking at my fingers.  Yay for having a good ear.  She decided that since pretty much every piece I’ve played in the Suzuki books lately has been bouncy, I get to do something more legato.  So I’m on the chorus from Handel’s “Judas Maccabaeus.”  I think I’m going to throw in some vibrato.  I haven’t practiced that in a while.

Oh, and last lesson we worked on the Peter Murphy song.  I need to finish it, still.

Crafting: I had started knitting an afghan for someone but changed my mind three balls in.  So I sent the yarn back and have been focusing on the green and black shirt.  It’s going to take a while: size six needles and a 54″ chest.  Yeah, it’s a long-haul kind of project.  Also doing some spinning.  Haven’t used the sewing machine in a couple of weeks.  Too much effort, given my emotional exhaustion.  Knitting is as easy as picking up needles. I keep my spinning wheel next to my chair in the living room, and it requires no other tools.  For sewing I have to clear the place settings off the dining table, get all the sewing gear out, make the thing(s) I want to make, pack all of it back up, and reset the table.  I understand now why people have “sewing rooms.”  I have three projects I want to do, two little ones (zippered change purses) and a big one (tote bag for my mom), and I think I can get all of it done fairly quickly if I can find the energy for setup and breakdown.  But when I spend a week trying (and failing) to get up the spoons to go to the grocery store, sewing is just too much.

Other stuff:

I’ve been disappearing into daydreams involuntarily, even more than usual.  Yesterday it was so intrusive that it was exhausting and I had to sleep just to shut my brain up for a while.  Ugh.  Hopefully I will improve soon.  I’m tired of not being able to focus on anything else.

I had signed up for a college class, like I said I would, but because of money issues I dropped it.  I’ll start putting extra in my savings account so I can try again in spring.

I’ve done the research I need for my novel, but see above re: spoons.

Okay, bedtime…

Who needs fancy cat toys?

Step 1: buy fancy box to put toys in so cats can stick their paws through and play with toys. 

Step 2: discover that Loki’s thumbs don’t fit in the holes. Also, bad design — toys roll out the side. 
Step 3: take a box cutter to empty box. 

Result: instant hit with babbies!

I may cover it with solid-colored duct tape so it looks nicer on the living room floor. But I’m happy to give the cats something they like!

Cutting you up on cello

I feel awesome. This morning I started arranging Peter Murphy’s “Cuts You Up” as a cello duet. I mentioned wanting to do it a couple of weeks ago, but I finally started working on it.  On staff paper with a pencil, plucking my cello because it was too early in the morning to play with a bow. Which was fine, it was easier to write while not holding the bow anyway.  I have loved the song since the album came out in 1990, but the synth cello always annoyed the fuck out of me.

And then in 2000, Murphy released a live album — aLive Just for Love — featuring stripped-down versions of his songs.  The only instruments were a violin and a guitarist.  That hugely influences the way I’m arranging it.

It’s been surprisingly easy.  And much simpler to do it on paper than in Noteflight.  I’ll be posting it there when I’m done, because proper sheet music is easier to read than my scribbled hand-written music, but the actual transcribing and arranging is easier on paper.  I may try composing something original that way; everything I’ve written myself has been done in Noteflight, and I think my music will sound better if I’m writing it on a real instrument and I know how it truly sounds.  I needed NF before, because I hadn’t memorized what fingerings went which what note names and what sharps were in which key, so it was easier to do it electronically.  Yay for musical growth!

I also arranged an Irish jig, “Haste to the Wedding,” for two cellos.  That was easy in NF — change the clef to bass, drop the melody down two octaves, and done.  Not “arranging” so much as “transposing,” really.  I haven’t played it yet, but will be trying it today.  This last Wednesday my teacher brought a jig she’d arranged as a cello duet, “The Swallowtail Jig,” and it was surprisingly easy and fun.  In retrospect, it makes sense that there would be jigs that sound complex but are easy to play; back when most of them were written, there was no recorded music, so people had to make their own, and most fiddlers were amateurs.  So dance music that didn’t take a lot of skill would have been in demand.  That’s my theory, anyway.  I could probably google the history of jigs, but I’m feeling lazy.  My arrangement of “Haste to the Wedding” is mostly played on the two middle strings, the crossings are only between strings next to one another, and only one note is an extension out of first position.  Should be pretty simple.  (Hopefully those are not famous last words.)

Music is awesome.  <3

Family good, crazypants bad

Mom told me the other day that she and my sister had talked some time ago about what will happen to me after Mom’s death. Sis is willing to take me in, which is amazingly generous, especially considering that her husband shares my diagnosis of schizoaffective disorder.  I am very, very lucky to have such a caring family. 

But it’s depressing to realize that I’m that family member, the disabled one whose future has to be planned for. Even if I manage to hold down a job at some point in the future, I can’t live alone.  It hurts, knowing that I need that much assistance.  That I’m going to be a burden on my family for the rest of my life.

I’m not planning to relieve the burden through suicide or anything. Some people do. I’m rational enough, and close enough to my family, to know they’d rather have to help care for me than lose me. And I do what I can to help them, as often as I can manage it. I don’t ever want to not have some usefulness. 

It hurts. But I am so goddamn lucky. Few people are. 

Re-opening my Etsy shop

I have way, way too much handspun yarn.  So I’m going to try selling some again.  And since my motivation is only to make back the money I spent on the fiber (so I can buy more fiber!), I’m going to donate half my profits to charity.  Specifically, I’m going to donate it to the #blacklivesmatter movement.  It’s one thing to share links on Facebook, but slacktivism is ultimately meaningless. So yeah.  I’m on disability, but I have a place to live and food to eat, and giving to a cause I believe in is worth keeping to a tighter budget.

Over the next week or so I’m going to start taking photos of my yarn and prepping them for sale.  I don’t even know if I’ll get any sales, but I have to try.  Otherwise the number of skeins I have will take over the entire apartment in six months, and Mom will get annoyed if I start replacing the food in the pantry with skeins of yarn!


Day Trip to St. Augustine

Mom and I drove over to St. Augustine this morning, planning to visit the beach and then have fresh seafood somewhere for lunch.  We managed the first part, no problem.  Drove to Anastasia State Park and walked a very long boardwalk out to the ocean.  I took lots of pictures and stuck my feet in the ocean.  It was nice.  Brutally hot, but nice.  I wanted to swim, but I didn’t bring my suit; I haven’t wanted to get in the ocean in two decades, so it was odd that I felt the urge.  Maybe next time.

We drove by the lighthouse so I could snap a few pictures, and then checked Yelp to find food.  It failed us.  The first place was closed, even though it was supposed to be open for lunch.  The second place was inaccessible by car.  And the third looked to be permanently closed.  Add in weird directions from Apple Maps (which we switched to after Google Maps took us to a tiny neighborhood and announced we were at the beach), and we didn’t have time to try finding a fourth restaurant.  (I babysit for my nephew every Tuesday at 3:30.)  So we got Wendy’s drive-thru on the way home.  Sigh.

The pictures I took, though.  Damn.  It was a beautiful day for nature photos.  The clouds, y’all.  Gorgeous.  Full photoset is here, but some of my favorites are below.

Beach at Anastasia Island State Park

Beach at Anastasia Island State Park

Beach at Anastasia Island State Park

Beach at Anastasia Island State Park

Lighthouse and Museum


WOOP and getting my ass in gear

I was listening to episodes of NPR’s Hidden Brain podcast today while on a short (1.5 hour) road trip.  The first one I listened to on the drive back was about WOOP, a method of motivating yourself to accomplish goals.  The scientific name for it is “mental contrasting” — picturing a goal and figuring out how to attain it.  The thing that really got me was the third step: figuring out what obstacle is in yourself that is keeping you from accomplishing the thing.  Because then you can’t make excuses for not doing the thing.

So after I finished the episode, I thought about the novel I’m trying to write.  I already knew who the characters were, and some about the setting, but I’ve been struggling with the plot.  The obstacle, of course, was me vaguely hoping I’d figure out the story, and I needed to actively work on it.  So I opened up Evernote on my phone, turned on the speech-to-text thingy, and spent the drive either thinking or dictating notes.  The notes are hilarious in places because I wasn’t fixing the dictation errors.  So, like, “he gets caught” was recorded as “he guy Scott.”  But hey, I generally know what I was saying.

By the time I got home I had a general plot, and a rough staging of the opening chapter.  I sat down at my laptop, and by the time Mom called about dinner three hours later, I had 2200+ words written and am almost done with chapter two.  I didn’t edit much as I went, working on getting the story down first and foremost.  The only time I went back is to change, say, a skill a character had that I realized wouldn’t work out when I got to the next scene.

So yeah, I’m writing a thing.  I hope I can keep up the momentum.  I’m rather enjoying my characters right now, and I’d hate to leave them hanging…

(And special thanks to my younger sister, for getting me hooked on the podcast.  You rock, kiddo!)