The State of Things: August 2017 in Review

Another month has gone by and, as we say on the podcast, we’re still alive. Things are going well, and hopefully continue to go well into the future. However, we still have the Sword of Damocles over our heads; it is not power but privilege that we have, and which might be taken from us at any moment. Here’s August 2017 in review.

Manifesto of the Moment

During July I participated in RPG a Day 2017, where each day you answer a question related to tabletop roleplaying games. I chose to do it in writing, here on the blog. Most people, it seems, posted their answers on social media or with a brief daily YouTube video. That was only one of the ways that the experience left me feeling detached and alienated from the core RPG community.

A great many of the questions didn’t reflect the way that I play or think about games. The questions reflected a lot of assumptions about what’s normative in the hobby. Because I don’t fit that norm, it made me feel like an outsider. While I know that I have odd perspectives and accept being on the fringe, I came away with the impression that one’s opinions must fit within a certain range to be considered a “true” gamer.

I’ll continue to sit over here doing my own weird thing, then. While I did have some fun writing my answers, and it led to some personal epiphanies, in the end it was off-putting and I don’t know that I’ll do it again.

Risks

As I write this it’s August 28th, so the month isn’t over yet. We may get a decision from Finnish immigration by the time this posts. It has been over four months now since we filed for an extension on our residence. We’ve had one request for additional information back in June, which we provided. As of last week Migri’s website stated that they currently had 1952 extension applications in their queue, but that they are prioritizing students.

There’s been another small wave of anti-immigrant sentiment this month, and while that’s been directed primarily at asylum seekers I can’t help but wonder whether it will influence the decisions being made. My experience of Finland is that people are fair and impartial and follow the rules. However, my ladder in inference with officials in the United States is that people allow their personal feelings to influence things.

Can you not imagine someone at U.S. Immigration, having to make a ruling about a Muslim or Latino, allowing their personal feelings and political leanings to influence that decision? Would it seem beyond reason to imagine some harried clerk at the DMV, tired of the nonsense in the news, to exercise their power to make life rough for someone who looked like a white nationalist?

This is a risk because it’s beyond my control. If they grant us an extension, great. If they don’t, all other plans go out the window and we’ll have a lot of plans and decisions to make in a short period of time. Want to help? Buy a book or make a donation. Everything comes down to money in the end.

We’re also heading into autumn, and the Long Dark is coming. Days are already getting shorter, and it is pitch black outside by around 9:30 p.m. I’ve already put up the fairy lights (white Christmas lights) and we’re starting to take vitamin D. While I’m doing well now, getting blindsided by anxiety and depression is a very real possibility, and therefore a risk.

Writing and Publishing

Speaking of anxiety and depression, it has eaten away at my productivity over the summer because of our immigration status being up in the air. There was no major onset where I lost huge chunks of time, but I would lose minutes here and there, or a couple of hours where I needed to turn to a coping mechanism, and a day now and again where I got very little done. Overall, I’m now about a month behind.

While I’m still fighting to play catch-up, I also recognize that stress will wear me down and make me more vulnerable to anxiety and depression. I am considering taking two books off of my production schedule and moving them to 2018. That’s the reasonable thing to do. Part of my thinks that by the end of the year I’ll catch up incrementally, and be able to start 2018 square. Of course, this assumes that everything doesn’t get knocked into a cocked hat by immigration.

Podcast

We’re still doing Proof of Life weekly. The hardest part is not turning it into the “Berin rants about what happened in the news this week” podcast, although some folks might like that. “Katie & Berin Explain American News to Non-Americans” might work. That may be the show we need to do for a while, but it’s not the show I want to do.

Once the Migri thing shakes out and we know where we’ll be, Katie and I want to do a separate, limited-run podcast about the Venture Brothers. We have a format in mind, and might do some sort of Patreon or something so we can buy actual podcasting equipment to improve sound quality. T

Health & Self-Care

Did I mention that the Long Dark is coming?

Looking Forward: September 2017 and Beyond

All I can do at this point is to proceed as if we’re staying in Finland until Katie completes her Master’s program. Currently she’s slated to defend her thesis in November or December and graduate next May. I have at least two books coming out every month for the rest of the year, so my days are spent writing, writing, and writing. It’s difficult to make any sort of plans beyond that.

Once Migri shakes out I can start looking at my production schedule for 2018. I’ll be able to plan better, because I have a better handle on what my capabilities are, what works and what doesn’t, based on how this year went. Then can start looking at what might come after Katie’s graduation.

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