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There are Two Types of People in a Crisis

There are two types of people in a crisis: those who lay bare the fullness of their humanity, and those who expose their contemptible lack of it.

Protesters in Ohio demanding the governor reopen the state.
Joshua A. Bickel / Columbus Dispatch

I’m worried about my friends that are out of work and running low on resources. I know a lot of people with mental health issues that are struggling and unable to get help right now. A lot of my spoonie friends fall into the high-risk category because of their chronic physical illnesses; I want to punch the people that would willingly martyr the sick and disabled to the economy. Fascist much? I’m especially worried about my friends on the front lines of this, risking their own lives in order to save the zombies that can’t grasp how serious this is.

Two Types of People in a Crisis

This is the only blog post I’m going to make today. It’s 7:30 am local time, and after this I’m getting away from the internet and any other sources of news. I’m going to write, cook, and continue working my way through the works of the Bronte sisters. As I said yesterday, I can’t even enjoy wrestling as a mindless escape anymore.

The bottom line is that I’m depressed and angry. I’ve got adrenal fatigue from the latter, and that does nothing by feed the former. It’s not a matter of burying my head in the sand. This is me, taking a break so I can carry on tomorrow. This is going to go on for a long time, whether certain people are willing to accept that or not. You can’t force your ideology on a virus. It won’t go away if you ignore it — the United States tried that already. Today I need to rest and recharge so I can carry on again tomorrow.

The only way out is through, and the only way through is together.

April 15 2020: The Latest Information

Please be sure you’re getting information from reliable sources.

Johns Hopkins links have changed. They have consolidated everything into one resource page.

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Journal

Novels on a Typewriter

Would you rather write your novels on a typewriter using only two fingers, or only hand write them? Is neither a choice? Can I pick “none of the above”? Those answers don’t work for me, and here’s why.

A lot of people seem to have this nostalgia for typewriters. They romanticize them I’m old enough that I grew up using them high school and college. In middle school we had typing classes, so I know how to use them properly. I remember how annoying the CLACKITY CLACK CLACK gets after a while. The need to change ribbons periodically, and get ink on your hands. Not to mention having to retype the whole manuscript, all of it, every word of every page, when after you’d edited it. No thanks.

Novels on a Typewriter

I’ll still take a typewriter, marginally, over hand-writing everything. Here in my dotage I have arthritis. Even when I was younger I’d still get cramps in my hand after writing too long. Yes, I’ve done the “let’s fill yellow legal pads with my brilliance” thing, mainly to try and avoid having to retype an entire manuscript. First draft by hand, edited second draft on a typewriter, worst of both worlds. My fingers hurt just thinking about it.

We have technology for a reason. Things are better now. Thank the fates for laptops and word processing software.


The Merry Writer is a writer’s game on Twitter run by Ari Meghlen (@arimeghlen) and Rachel Poli (@RPoli3). Each day there’s a new question, and each month there’s a new theme. In these posts I expand upon the answers that I’ve posted on my Twitter.

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Journal

Spoons, Social Media, and Blogging

Let’s talk about spoons, social media, and blogging for a moment. All of us have a finite amount of energy to devote to work, household chores, and side hustles. Some of us have less-than-typical amounts to work with, so we need to prioritize. Focus your efforts on necessities, and the areas that will get the best results. As my minimalist mantra states, get rid of what you don’t need to make room for what you do. For me, that means pushing the blog and my presence on Twitter to the back burner for a while.

Spoons, Social Media, and Blogging

It’s not just about the effort it takes to write blog posts, or to throw out a few casual tweets. When you suffer from anxiety and depression, there’s a whole mental dance to be done when considering topics, and how those topics will be received. My mind tries to anticipate every possible nasty comment that could result from anything I say on the internet. While this forces me to choose my words carefully and communicate more clearly, it’s still exhausting. It chews up my metaphorical spoons as if they were real flatware caught in a garbage disposal.

To help with this, I now have assistants handling the business email, website comments, and social media. Their instructions are simple:

  1. If it’s not a question, it doesn’t require an answer;
  2. Unless it’s a compliment, then you say thank you;
  3. Rude comments get deleted with no response;
  4. Bring legitimate problems to me ASAP.

I get to spend my time productively. That means writing for the day job, working on the novel, and keeping the apartment in order. When I have the spoons to deal with the blog and social media I will.

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Journal

Rise of the Ableist Supermen

There was a time when I was critical of people who, in my perception, wasted time on trivial things. This was always in conjunction with them complaining that they had no time for seemingly more important tasks. Taking 30 minutes to cook a meal, for example, was declared to  be impossible. Reading was a luxury they didn’t have enough hours in the day for. But in the next breath they invariably talked about how many hours they spent binge-watching Netflix, playing an MMO, or just dorking around on social media. I would like to offer my apologies. Sincerely. I was not aware that in holding those views, I was enabling the harmful myth of the ableist supermen.

A few days ago a well-known writer in my publishing niche tweeted out that he was tired of people saying they can’t find time to write. When he was starting out, he worked 70 hours a week. He got up at 5 am every morning and went to a coffee shop. That’s how he wrote his first two books. The post was tone-deaf, cringey, and incredibly condescending . The implication was one familiar to all of us with physical or mental health issues, or just complicated life situations: you’re lazy. You say you can’t, but you only need to try harder. It was easy for me, so I don’t understand why it’s so difficult for you.

I’m Trying to Be Kinder

It’s been a while since I’ve regularly posted about my daily word count and such. I realized that I was making some people feel bad. This is my full-time job. While I do have to deal with depression, anxiety, and executive dysfunction, I get to allocate a significant number of spoons to writing. Working from home I have the luxury of going and taking a nap if I need one. Being self-employed, I can flex my work schedule to suit my needs as long as I meet my deadline. I recognize that this is a privilege. It is unreasonable for most people to be a prolific as I am, because I am in an incredibly fortunate situation.

As my own issues have progressed, I have also learned to be less judgmental of how other people spend their time. If there are days when all you can manage to do is play Mario Kart, or stream a whole season of a show, or eat frozen pizza, well, I get that now. It’s almost noon as I’m writing this, and I’ve been up since 6 am. Six hours and three cups of strong cups of coffee later, I’m still groggy. I’m pushing through, but it’s not easy and it’s not fun. There are days when I can’t do more than stare into space, trying to focus. I fear that a time will come when I won’t be able to do this any more.

Rise of the Ableist Supermen

Teddy Roosevelt nailed it in two quotes. First, “Comparison is the thief of joy”. Hey, if you can work the equivalent of two full-time jobs and still have the spoons to get up before dawn to work on your book, good on you. That’s not me, and I’m not going to be shamed for it.

The other quote is “Do what you can, with what you have, where you are”. I try to optimize my schedule for productivity, but a lot of my bullet journaling, scheduling, and note taking is just an attempt to be baseline functional. Find what works for you. Recognize your limitations, because we all have them. Make the most of what you’ve got, but don’t beat yourself up if that varies from day to do. Love yourself, be proud of your accomplishments, and don’t let the ableist supermen get you down.

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Journal

Going Full Recluse

The new desk, as a matter of necessity, had prompted a cleaning spree. I’d purchased some bins and containers to better organize things, and in the sorting process a lot of things were flagged to later disposal. A key element was simply starting the new desk with only the few things I knew I’d need. My laptop and bullet journal made the cut, of course, along with the map and my favorite pen. Space for my coffee cup was reserved, so that it was within reach but not where I’d knock it over accidentally. That was about it. Everything else could safely sit in the bookshelf, with more frequently-used items on top and the rest stowed away below.

This was, quite unconsciously, a re-commitment to minimalism. To invert Marie Kondo, the items I retained weren’t what sparked joy but the absence of clutter. The point of the desk was to improve my physical work flows. This started me on a tear to re-appraise the value of other things. Which naturally led me to my contact with the outside world in general, and social media in particular. I am, once again, quite close to going full recluse.

There’s more to it, of course, but a great deal has to do with the state of the world, my own mental health, and the achievement of my goals. You can fill in your own blanks, I’m sure. In examining what I need, and what I don’t, it was the basic realization that I’m tired of being depressed and angry that defined the problem. Twitter does not spark joy, therefore, Twitter goes into the bin. Certain commitments carry a cost, in time or spoons, that outweigh the benefit.

Going Full Recluse

In the end, really, who cares? I have a quiet and comfortable space to write, as free from distractions as I can make it. Being able to focus on what I’m doing makes me happy. Other peoples’ drama, well beyond my sphere of influence, is not my concern. As I publish things, I will tell people about them, so that I can pay the rent and continue to write. That’s all there is to it.